Movin’ On

The other day I was uploading old blogs onto this newer blogging website. It was a strange, and uncomfortable experience for me to look back upon the recent past and wonder about those earlier days. I’m not the sort of bloke to dwell upon the past, however looking at those old photos it became clear to me that time waits upon no person.

Whilst my mind was considering the past, I put a spreadsheet together so as to accurately calculate just how many different houses that I’d lived in during my life. Turns out that I’ve lived in 18 different addresses so far. One third of the changes of address related to when I was a child, but when I became an adult, that is when I really let loose and the other two thirds of changes of address occurred. I guess that means that I’m possibly a bit of a nomad.

But then upon further consideration, a thought popped into my head that the permission to build a house on this property had been granted almost a decade ago. Within a month or so of permission being granted, we’d begun construction of the house.

2009 November 28 and construction on the house was well underway. The yellow trailer is not yellow yet.

And the editor and I moved into this house almost nine years ago. Back then it was pretty rough living for both of us, but despite the house being far from finished (or even sealed to the external elements), we at least had hot and cold water, somewhere to go to the toilet, a wood heater, and even some lights.

2010 October 20 and we’d moved into an unfinished house

Constructing the house took a long while, that’s for sure. Although people have assured me in the past that completing an owner built house ourselves within 18 months is very fast indeed.

On the other hand, making the land around the house productive has been one of the most extraordinary tasks that I’ve put my mind and back into. And looking back on the photos in those old blogs left me feeling with the uncomfortable feeling as if I’d found a place that I am deeply rooted to. Perhaps I’ve moved on from my old nomadic ways?

When I walk around the property I can look at the land and recall the times that the editor and I sweated away on some difficult task or other placed before us. And yet we overcame the difficulties and wrested order from the chaos. It is a hard feeling to describe, but the farm is almost like a giant productive art project where we get to express ourselves and our desires upon the very land itself.

And you can not escape those feelings. Two years ago, the now sadly deceased Sir Scruffy was assisting us with the excavation of the potato terrace.

Two years ago, the sadly missed Sir Scruffy the charming, assists us with the excavation of the potato terrace

This week, we added almost a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of compost into the three round raised garden beds that now sit upon the potato terrace.

The three raised steel garden beds for growing potatoes received almost a cubic metre of compost

What a difference only two years have made on the potato terrace! The steel rock gabions that retain all of the soil for the terrace have now almost tripled in length since the earlier photo above with the charming Sir Scruffy.

And each year, despite time moving on, the farm gets slightly more productive.

In a blog from about one year ago, I spotted a photo of a young Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (whom all intelligent people know is actually an Australian cattle dog) looking down at me from where the corn enclosure is now located. And I’m squatting next to a large pile of rocks (mmm, rocks!) where the dark grey over-flow shed is now located.

Ollie looks at me from the site where the corn enclosure now sits

The lavender that is planted along the edge of the upper terrace was pruned and fed with compost this week. The dark grey shed referred to in the above photo can be clearly seen.

Lavender along the edge of the strawberry and grape vine terrace was pruned and fed compost

Publilius Syrus the ancient Latin writer, is quoted as having written the proverb: “A rolling stone gathers no moss”. It is an astute observation, and it was originally intended to refer to people who: “are always moving, with no roots in one place or another, avoid responsibilities and cares.” And I reckon his sentiment is correct because if you put down roots in the land, eventually you form a relationship with the land, and the very land itself takes on meaning to you.

I miss the recently deceased Sir Scruffy the charming, and this week we decided to plant more flowering plants around his grave.

A large number of flowering plants were planted around the resting place of Sir Scruffy the charming

All of the flowering plants in the new garden bed were propagated by us, and we maintain a raised nursery garden bed for propagating new plants (propagating is the fancy name for producing new plants from cuttings of existing plants or from seed). Over the next few months we’ll begin excavating a new terrace above the existing strawberry and vine terrace. And along the the edge of the yet to be excavated terrace, we’ll plant another line of lavender. Rather than buying all of the lavender plants, we’ve begun experiments with propagating them. Turns out that so far that they’re really easy plants to propagate.

Japanese maples and lavender cuttings sit side by side in the raised nursery garden bed

Two years ago, we doubled the size of the tomato enclosure.

Two years ago we doubled the size of the tomato enclosure

This year the tomato enclosure has produced good quantities of fruit, berries and vegetables. In the past few days we’ve begun clearing the dead tomato vines, adding compost to the garden beds, and then planting out winter vegetables.

Dead tomato vines were removed and winter vegetables were planted in the tomato enclosure
We’re even using the garden space next to the blueberries to plant out leeks and broccoli

At the far end of the tomato enclosure (which was expanded only two years ago) eggplant, chilli’s and capsicum thrive.

Slim eggplant produces a bumper crop
Ollie walks past a colourful display of capsicum
We’re drying chilli’s and even dug up this rather large horseradish root
Around the edges of the tomato enclosure various berries thrive at different times of the year like these very tasty Chilean Guava’s

Many of the other raised garden beds were topped up with compost. We now have three permanent raised garden beds for asparagus and they produce huge quantities of tasty spears in season.

The author stands next to one of the three permanent raised asparagus beds

The pumpkin, squash and melon plants were all harvested this week. The vines were mulched up using the lawn mower.

The pumpkin, squash and melons were all harvested this week. The vines were mulched using the lawn mower

Late autumn is harvest time after all!

Late autumn is harvest time!

We’d never grown the small dark green round squashes before. Note to self: Either cut in half, or make holes in the skin prior to cooking in the oven. One of the squashes exploded in the electric oven!

A small dark green squash exploded as it was being cooked in the electric oven

This morning was something of a baking record. I prepared five bread loaves (two baked today and three to be baked over the next few days) and also a pizza base. I’ve baked bread most days for over a decade now, and I use no fancy machines, and it always surprises me when I hear comments suggesting that baking bread at home is a difficult and time consuming process.

A baking record. Five loaves and a pizza base

Autumn and spring are the time to make sake (Asian rice wine). It is very good tasting stuff and takes very little effort other than a lot of patience and a bit of care about the temperature that the mix is exposed to.

Sake production is in full swing – in the laundry

Observant readers may note that the clearest bottle on the very left hand side of the above photo is ready to consume.

The orchard still produces at this late stage in the season. One of the more interesting crops is the Medlar. There are two options for the consumption of Medlar’s (which cannot be consumed as is, unless you are a brave and hungry cattle dog) and that is either Medlar Jelly, or Medlar Wine. We already have stores of Medlar Jelly which is tasty but with the consistency of Vegemite (those who know, know what I mean by that!) So we have decided this year to produce a tasty Medlar wine. First the fruit has to blet (the fancy name for naturally fermenting the fruit until just before it gets mouldy).

We get plentiful supplies of Medlar which can be turned into a tasty Jelly or Wine

The dreaded leaf change (and associated tourist hordes) is still upon us:

The dreaded leaf change is still upon us

Onto the flowers:

Red nasturtium loves this time of year
California poppies are also enjoying the cooler autumn weather
Alkanet (a member of the Borage family) is really beginning to grow about the farm
Rosemary has produced some delightful blue flowers

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 69.0mm (2.7 inches) which is the slightly higher than last weeks total of 65.2mm (2.6 inches).

55 thoughts on “Movin’ On”

  1. Good morning!

    A cold, very dry Spring in this part of England -the clay ground so hard it can’t be hoed (or is that hoe-ed?)

    Aren’t we all nomads? There’s a Persian story about a holy dervish who walks into the royal palace and asks the Sultan for a ‘room for the night in this hotel’.

    ‘Hotel?!!! This is my palace!! I’m more than tempted to cut off your head, even though you’re holy….’

    ‘Before you do, would Your Highness please do me the honour of answering some respectful questions?’

    ‘Who lived here before you?’

    ‘My father, of course.’

    ‘And before him?’

    ‘His father.’

    And before that?

    ‘His father, idiot!’

    ‘And would you be gracious enough, Light of the World, to explain to me how this building, through which so many have passed and vanished, is any different to a hotel for travellers?’

    Then he wisely vanished in a puff of – presumably holy – smoke! Sultans don’t like the truth much…….

  2. Hi DJ,

    There is time later for dogs! Given the 22 months looming deadline, things will probably be different by for you after that. And yeah, dogs are social creatures and need either a human or canine companion.

    Sorry to hear that, and missing the funeral for a much loved relative is a hard thing.

    Hehe! Hey, the whole competitive offend-off thing just looks bonkers to me. It is pretty easy to annoy other people, so they hardly have to look far do they? I reckon we might just need to start a tolerance-off but with a goodly dose of common sense added in for good measure. 🙂

    You are very naughty indeed! Good luck, and hang in there. It’ll pass before you know it, and then you’ll have to rustle up some more hobbies!

    What? I’ll tell ya a little story about moving on. Down here in the Great Depression, the authorities tended to keep the unemployed moving on so that they never ended up too comfortable with their situation. Hard times. The Great Depression coincided with an epic drought down here too, so rural work (or rural money) was thin on the ground. Someone mentioned a book of short stories about the era and I’ve got it, but I’m not sure I’ve manned up enough to sit down and read it yet. It is called ‘Weevil’s in the Flour’ and it is based on oral accounts of the times.

    Your winters are so brutal (from my perspective) that I have no idea how the homeless cope with them. If you were outside here during the winter without access to fire, mate it would be tough living and some nights there is a chance a person might not wake up again.

    That would have been a fascinating thesis. It is a bit of a shame that the funds weren’t there to see it through for a couple of more years. When it is not obvious to me which soil additives a particular plant requires, I tend to work backwards and consider the sort of place that the plant grows wild. That is usually quite telling and can guide your hand.

    Thanks very much! I checked back on the rainfall records and it has been as dry this year (so far) as the scarily dry year of 2009 (think massive bushfires). But then later that year, it began to get crazy wet and the following year was a record for rainfall. I have no idea what to expect from one season to the next. The thing is, the depth of the top soil allows produce to continue growing despite the crazy hot and dry weather. Industrial agriculture is based on the premise that we can somehow produce the same crops year in and year out regardless of the soil minerals or climate. Dunno if it is a good call.



  3. Hi Margaret,

    Ook! How much snow can a Koala bear, I ask you? Hehe! You have had a brutal winter, just bonkers and it continues. I’d imagine that Doug has been having to feed the bees?

    It is exciting getting the piggies! How many piglets are you getting? I like pigs as they are really curious and social creatures, and also they’re one of my favourite meats. Some of the chickens here look a bit dodgy as they are going through the autumn moult, not to mention that they’ve all gone off the lay after, which began after I bopped the really dumb grey Silky. I would have kept her going except that she began to do her business in the water well and it was the proverbial final straw that broke the camel’s back.

    Thanks for mentioning the treatment of kale as I’d never heard of that before. Interesting. I may add some in for the winter vegetables.

    A worthy cause, and I have no idea how anyone would sleep outdoors in your part of the world given the winter that you’ve just experienced. The personal care items is a great idea, and a year or two back I read a book by the New Zealand / Australian author, Ruth Park, of her experience growing up during the Great Depression. One thing that struck me was that the authors mother used to have an area set aside on their property (despite them being in serious dire financial straits themselves) for the swaggies (people who had hit the road looking for itinerant farm work – short for ‘swag-men’) so that they could shave and wash themselves. From the description, it didn’t sound flash, but at the time it was probably the best option on offer.

    Ah, you start the seedlings under lights and all other considerations are the same. Is it the same seed raising mixture, as I have noted declines in quality of some soil additives, and the mushroom compost was one such recent example – as nothing germinated in it. It could also be a case of too much of a good thing with the coffee grounds – as they are not all the same. Do you have any worm tea to counter the effects of whatever is going on? These sorts of questions are also on my mind as I am having to reconsider the entire seedling raising matter. Dunno. Despite having been at that task for about a decade, I still encounter strangeness. Do you have a heat pad under your seedlings?



  4. Hi Lewis,

    I’d be curious to learn whether Julia’s alpaca’s consume anything from ‘off the property’. I regularly mix up the chickens food as well as giving them kitchen scraps and greens from the garden. Although, I should mention that the food is usually identifiable at a glance. Most people favour feeding chickens pellets, and I often wonder what the heck is in those things. It surely couldn’t be nice given that the pellets are a cheaper option? Dunno.

    You know, I was just having a wild guess as to Susan’s motivations for getting involved in the discussion. But yeah, some people just like chucking in their twenty cents, just because. Of course, all right thinking fluffies – including cattle dogs – know that mentioning something and then trailing off, is some sort of request in disguise! 🙂 You are clearly wise in the ways of the Fluffy to have so dodged the request. I’ve noted that those sorts of requests usually involve obligations which exceed benefits, and one must be always careful and alert to ensure that the social scales are appropriately balanced!

    My personal favourite is the person now known as the: ‘asker’. I’m sad to report to you that this beast is far from endangered, although you can never quite tell what a change in the economic climate may produce for these beasts (global economic cooling may affect this sensitive species in particular). If ever you encounter this beast in the bright light of day, you can know them when they slip in a casual request into a conversation – and then expect much for very little in return. Beware this dreaded beast, and upon encountering them, the best advice I have is to run! There is no shame in running and living to fight another day. Anyway, you only have to outrun the next person… 🙂

    Nothing wrong at all with being the favourite – or indeed having a favourite. I mentioned to a group of people last week that I was a bit upset that my favourite dog had just passed. Someone piped up and said, you’re not meant to have a favourite. The only reply that I felt appropriate at the scrutiny of my ethics was: ‘Well, yeah, I do’. Can’t argue with that.

    Dunno! No seriously, dunno! Good luck and stay out of the hospital system – if possible, and I’ll do my best not to annoy vengeful entities. We might both just survive our respective ordeals, you know! 🙂

    I suspect the folks living in their cars, vans or RV’s fall off the radar down here too. In the warmer months, people turn up to the local picnic ground which has a flush toilet and hang out for a few days before being moved on. In the colder months, I reckon they all head north chasing the sun. And incidentally, I too have heard about people using self storage facilities and gym memberships for the showers.

    The Japanese have a different sense of the world than western culture. Even their traditional housing reflects the temporary nature of existence. I’ve long wondered whether it is a more resilient approach to the world as it is. What do you reckon about that?

    Yeah, things get handed down from one generation to the next. It is how it goes. The son maybe more clued in to the realities and maybe has less care as to his apparent status? Dunno. There is something in there. But also different folks have different capacities and reactions to dealing with pressures, so there may be a bit of that going on too.

    You mentioned that book a while back. Yeah, I dunno, but I sort of read a number of books on the subject in the past, had a good hard look at things, and then made a few hard decisions. I reckon it is a fluid situation and people often fall into the under estimation camp, but they sure do also fall into the over estimation camp. Then I notice the continual requests for further funds to gain a better understanding of the unfolding drama. Then there are people who tell me that, yes it is bad, but deep down they really hope that someone else, somewhere else, makes a change that makes a difference. Then I see people who despite evidence to the contrary put their fingers in the ears and proclaim that they can’t hear you (not that I ever break anyone about this topic). One of my personal favourites (see it is good to have a favourite) are the folks collecting money for environmental causes. There are also the folks protesting (or engaging in bouts of activism which sounds like a disease or something horrid like that) as they save for their overseas gap year. I see really huge vehicles being driven with just one person who may tell me that they’re concerned about the state of the environment. Other people tell me that it is all nonsense, despite just enduring the hottest and driest start to the year in recorded history. Some folks just go ‘stuff it all’. I dunno, the whole edifice looks completely bonkers to me – and one of a few alternative routes that can make a difference is usually an unpalatable choice for pretty much most people. That probably about covers it. Do you reckon I missed anyone? I think I can award myself a big tick for an amusing and epic rant! And yes, a lot of it nowadays is being under reported, or brushed aside – until their lucky numbers turn up and at that point you’ll hear them braying and gnashing their teeth (which can’t be good for the enamel on their teeth).

    Quite a number of years ago I read about either that study or a similar study on food. It sort of figures because growing the same crops year in and year out will eventually deplete the soils because we really don’t have much of any idea about the exact minerals and compounds that plants are taking out of the soil and as good as chemical and mineral fertilisers are, they can’t replace everything that is lost. And plants are adaptable enough to continue growing despite a loss here and a loss there – it just doesn’t produce the same results.

    The other thing is, and I can’t recall whether the report mentioned it, but the varieties of plants that are grown now are perhaps not the same as what was grown back in those days – despite it being not that far in the past. As they say: same, same, but different.

    And plus I reckon that people don’t consume as much fresh fruit and whole grains like they did in those days. The reason I got into growing fruit trees was that the quality of fruit on offer kept declining, and I was unfortunately just old enough to have known that things were indeed better not that far in the past.

    I feel sorry for the bees. Imagining the poor insects having to turn up to vast plantations of almonds – and all they had to consume was almond pollen. I like almonds, but if I had to survive on them alone, things would probably not go well for me – and the bees are no different. What broad acre farmer grows hedgerows of flowering plants for the pollinators?

    The characters are a bit concerned about what other people will say, except perhaps for the main protagonist Sayward with her woodsey ways. Although that may be subject to change (no spoilers please).

    The border was probably in place originally for good reasons. Settling scores is a frightful thing to confront in the flesh. No, not good at all.

    Go Lewis! I hear that teasers for the next Star Wars film have been released. Apparently, the owners of the franchise have declared that that is enough for a few years.

    The editor overheard a conversation between two young ladies today. One lady was complaining to her friend about the low pay and debt that her journalism degree had left her with. And she seemed rather annoyed that an electrician friend was earning so much more now and into the future…



  5. Hi Xabier,

    You too are very naughty! But, yes, such a word is difficult to use in polite company because people inevitably get the wrong idea.

    Is that a late frost for you? I’d be complaining about such a thing – and would have lost my apricot and some of the plum crops if the world was spun upside down (mid October).

    Thanks for the funny story with the grain of truth to it. And yes, don’t go messing around in their business as they too seem like the vindictive sort. 🙂

    The weather is completely bonkers down here. 28’C / 82’F here today. Quite lovely, except that it is apparently mid Autumn.



  6. Yo, Chris – I’ll see you’re Pubilius Syrus (stones, moss, etc.) and raise you St. Marher. “Time and tide wait for no man.” Sometimes attributed to Chaucer, but he lived about a century later. So who was St. Marher? Got me. Apparently, his one little utterance completely overwhelmed any other biographical information, other than a date of 1225. He wrote in Middle English, so, maybe, he was English. I’m surprised I couldn’t find more on him, given the late date. It’s not like he’s lost in Dark Ages murk. Maybe I’ll throw him at our library reference people.

    The Editor and you have accomplished an incredible amount of work, in, really, a very short time. Your story about Fernglade Farm: The Early Days … a certain lack of comforts. Well, from your stories, you’d done a bit of that, before. Roughing it, a bit. What I call “camping out.” Priorities. In my case it was staying warm, keeping me and my clothes clean. Even food prep and storage came after that.

    Maybe a nomadic life is a young person’s game? Although there’s plenty of older folks around who have restless feet. Some of it is thinking change will make things (all kinds of things) “better.” Instead of making the most of what they have, where they are.

    Sometimes, it’s good to look back. As sometimes, it’s hard to see the forest, for the trees. A saying whose origins I will ignore, until I solve the mystery of St. Marher. One mystery at a time! :-).

    Ah, rocks. As with books, I wonder if there’s a rock philia or rock mania? I’ve heard of stone fever. Usually, applied to people who want to build edifices beyond their means. But stones are so useful, and, as in your case, so handsome a material.

    Lavender is so nice. We’re supposed to have some about this place, but what I thought was lavender, doesn’t smell like it. I’ll have to ask the Master Gardeners, next time I see them.

    I think it’s admirable that your adding to Sir Scruffy’s bit of earth. And, why not? An obelisk might be a bit over the top, but if you feel the need, go for it. Grief doesn’t have an expiration date.

    Ollie might sample the capsicums. Once. :-). Then again, animals tastes are different than ours. Might taste like cotton candy, to him.

    Maybe you can add exploding squash to your arsenal? Saki to your med kit as disinfectant? 🙂 The medlar look a bit like rose hips. We have a rosemary growing in a tub, here at The Institution. It must be very old, as it’s enormous. And, as with yours, is in full blossom, right now. I saw the first bumble bee, I’ve seen this year, buzzing around it, yesterday. Your photo reminds me that I need to plant a borage. But not let it go to seed. They can be quit invasive, around here. Cont.

  7. Cont. Julia’s alpaca pretty much get along on what they forage. In winter, they get the occasional bale of hay (locally grown). And, a bit of grain. More as a treat, than anything.

    Oh, I think Susan’s manner is about feeling important and useful. A bit of a concern among us elderly. I expect it’s her delivery. Less like pronouncements and edicts and more like suggestions would get her further. But I doubt there will be any change.

    Those who trail off I ignore. The askers get a firm “no.” But then, I’m a crusty old dude :-). But,every once in awhile I throw something unexpected on those social scales. If nothing else, it keeps the old gals, guessing. :-). Eleanor has commented a time or two that she admires how I “stand up for myself/” I don’t quit see it that way, but don’t argue. I see it more as “that’s how I roll.” But, I don’t argue about it. It’s a fine point, not worth hashing out.

    Of course people have favorites. Children, animals … whatever. It’s human nature. To deny that is just those social niceties, you mentioned.

    Yes, I think the Japanese are pretty resilient. But I often hear that ascribed to their earthquakes, tsunami and typhoons. But I think it goes a lot deeper, than that. A whole philosophical thread that unhappiness comes from attempting to hold onto things, too tightly. And other deeply imbedded cultural currents.

    Yup. I’d say you just about covered the different reactions to climate change. Except for maybe, “happens to other people, not to me”, or, I’m rich enough and lucky enough, I’ll be spared the worst effects. Or, as entertaining spectacle (disaster porn?). How often after a disaster do we hear people say, “It was like it wasn’t real. It was like watching a movie.” But, you might have covered those, just in a different way.

    I watched “My Dinner with Herve” (2018), last night. Pretty good. The costs of celebrity, etc.. There’s a scene where (because he couldn’t get work for 4 years, after the Bond movie) he’s living in his car. Of course, there was a bit of added interest, to me, as the reporter was only a month into his recovery/sobriety at the time of the interview.

    The article on the kangaroo was interesting. But I couldn’t help but think, what are they going to do when he’s six feet tall? I’d also speculate that the kangaroo comes to them, because he “gets” that he’s in a safe place and can entirely let down his guard. I mean, he sleeps. How much good sleep does a kangaroo get in the wild?

    Things are all in a froth, at The Club. You’d think the Promised Land, was in sight. They think they’ve found a building, to buy. A free standing, old tavern, built in the 1920s. 2,000+ square feet. $135,000. In downtown Centralia (which was where the last Club, was.

    Just off the top of my head, my immediate concerns were, a.) It’s in the flood zone b.) turns out the seller is the same outfit I had for a landlord, for 15 years. Their basic property management philosophy was, “don’t put a penny for maintenance, in a property.” c.) It’s on the edge of the Mexican district. Not an overwhelming issue, but I think we’d better keep in mind that some outreach and bridge building will need to be done. We’ve got a 20% down, with money left over. Hmmm. Early days. We’ll see how it shakes out. Lew

  8. Chris,

    What a wonderful history lesson you gave us with this week’s post! I started regularly reading your blog about 3 years ago, with occasional visits before then; the changes in the farm in those three years are amazing. It’s hard to believe what was there when you started. There’s a lot to show for the hard work.

    Spokane has tried many things over the decades to get people to “move on”. Unfortunately, Spokane has been trying the same things that have been failing in Seattle. The homeless situation stems, in my mind, from multiple sources for multiple reasons. Likely, there is not any one solution that can “fix” it. I think I remember reading someonce (new word alert!) that a Wise Man said that the poor would always be with us. And, to invoke the immortal words of Mr. Greer and apply them to the homeless: this is not a problem with a solution, it’s a predicament to work through.

    Unfortunately, Western civilization doesn’t want to work through a predicament. Rather, the instant solution “as seen on teevee” is what’s wanted. Maybe having relationships with the land for several millennia (as per the Japanese and Chinese for example) could actually give us the resilience needed to understand that a lot of what life is appears to be slogging through predicaments and keeping a long term perspective.

    Thanks for that, by the way. Your latest reply to me suggested that I keep a longer term plan for the job. That was something I needed to hear, and have spent some time mulling over ideas leading to that. NOT playing their game seems to be the first coherent and doable idea I came up with. Easy to put into action IF I keep my wits about me and don’t place myself on “workplace autopilot”.

    Winters here are brutal. Yet, if one is in the elements extensively and regularly, one gets acclimated. I remember many occasions in which a group of us would pack up our backpacks and cross country skis and spend the night (or 2) camped out sleeping in snow caves. Proper clothes, equipment, experience and being acclimatized made it work.

    Wow, you had an exploding squash? Less messy than a raw egg in a microwave, perhaps, but quite the mess. I learned from my mother to cut those harder shelled squashes in half before baking them. She never explained why. Now I know.


  9. Hi Lew,

    Just wanted to add a thank you for the Skystone book series recommendation you made to Chris a while back. 3/4 through the first book and having a lot of fun with it! I took a punt on ordering four books at once without reading the first book – but no regrets so far!

    The bookshelf was a great find. There is something about our new suburb that makes people give away great stuff. Every other day someone on the local facebook group is giving away a fridge, cupboards, bookshelves, smokers, or what have you. Worked really well for us when we moved in a few months ago! Sometimes you have to be quick though, and it can pay to just drive the streets on a late Saturday morning 🙂

    My dream, if I am ever lucky enough to end up with my own kitchen, is to scour commercial auctions and closing down sales for ex-commercial kitchen equipment. As you said, if time is not crucial, you can always get some great bargains. If you need it *now*, better expect to pay for the privilege unless you are exceptionally lucky!

    All the internet is awash with Game of Thrones mania. Last season, final showdown and all that. It is entertaining enough I guess, but my gosh it took a nose dive once they overtook the books a few seasons ago. You would think the most expensive TV show on the planet could afford a few writers to punch up the dialog :-p


  10. Hi Chris,

    I always enjoy looking back through my photos over the years. A strange combination of melancholy and satisfaction at ones achievements. At Fernglade, you would get that satisfaction everywhere you walk. It would be like living in a treasured photo album 🙂

    As someone of nomadic tendencies, I agree with the responsibility comment. If you can move on when things go south, it does make you somewhat removed and aloof at times (this would apply to the workplace and to the community). Of course, if society deems it necessary to remove secure workplace and residency options, then you do what you can with the deal in front of you. But, I digress onto familiar topics 🙂 For us, Mrs Damo and I are quite adept at worming ourselves relatively quickly into a new community now – although of course it is but a shallow approximation of true involvement.

    Good news – my sake mash is now looking pretty good. The bottom half is a solid mash with liquid. The top half is still recognisable as grains of rice. It smells good as well! I think it should work, just might take longer.


    PS For yourself and any others who want a laugh – I put a video up on my blog of the wooden oars I made for the two boats. They are a bit naff, but I am still pretty chuffed with them.

  11. Hi Lewis,

    Makes you wonder what St. Marher was actually sainted for? Hopefully the details of the saints life and deeds were not in the Notre Dame – a very sad loss. And it is hard to not notice the extensive scaffolding in the background of many of the images. You’d hope that one of the apprentices hadn’t left the power on for a heater or something stupid like that. Incidentally, I had not understood that in Middle English, tide referred to: “a season, or a time, or a while”. It is possible that the saint fell from favour and was quietly pushed aside in the official histories.

    Exactly. First shelter and warmth. Then water and later power – there is a method to our madness, as you already know. I recall that you mentioned that you had camped out in the bookstore for a while, so I wouldn’t do any differently than yourself. What is the correct word for that? Gumption? Tenacity? Dunno. Even if it doesn’t work out, it is best to give it a go. You don’t see a lot of that going on these days.

    On the other hand I see a bit of that moving on when people have dark souls and expect the new place to lighten the load that they carry. Such moves never work because a person has to deal with their own internal business first. Otherwise they just end up in a different place with the same problems. I’ll bet the club sees a lot of that story? But yeah, you know it is easier to be a nomad when you’re younger – can’t argue with you there. Anyway, I just don’t have the life experience to know how things will work out the longer I’m here in this spot. Dunno. It’s an adventure into the unknown, I guess!

    A wise choice not to take on too many mysteries at once. I do that with complicated administrative tasks or projects that I have no idea how to tackle. Did the scholars at your library turn up anything about the elusive saint? The Catholic Church has a bit of a history down here with moving on problematic priests, and that is not a good look, because from my perspective they fail to deal with the core issues and I doubt they originated that response only recently. Incidentally, speaking of religion, the film: The Life of Brian, has reached the milestone of forty years. A solid achievement and it amuses me that people found it offensive in the first place. It is certainly a brittle reaction and that itself is quite telling.

    Rocks are good! The editor has made a suggestion that we take the jackhammer out and try and break up some larger rocks so that they can be moved. I prefer smaller rocks myself as the act of moving large and heavy rocks puts quite the strain on the old skeleton. Rocks are very useful you know. 🙂 One of the newer rock gabions is about a third full now. The thing is, I sort of feel that the rocks will still be around long after you and I are gone from memory because they have a solidity to them. It interests me that there was apparently a Woodhenge at the Stonehenge site in England. I can’t believe a busy highway goes through the site, but then it does allow a lot of free access that may be easily taken away.

    Lavender is a distinctive and stunning aroma! Hey, the last time we went to the nearby Lavender farm (Make no bones about it, I am envious), I noticed that they had cut the lavender plants back hard. And in one area, the lavender was planted in trenches which were backfilled with compost. They have an old school hand dug and stone lined well there and at a guess I’d reckon it would be about 66ft deep – and it is bone dry. It has been a tough summer that’s for sure. I had to water the plants today. I couldn’t believe it, but it reached 82’F today which is sort of bonkers for this time of the year. We’re now down to about 25,000L (6,500 gallons) left which is cutting it a bit fine for my liking, but from talking to other locals it is better than some, and not as good as others.

    Thank you. Grief is a different journey every time, and who knows where it will lead and what calluses will grow over the wounds or soft parts.

    Ollie loves food. The other day he ate a raw medlar. Yuk! Interestingly, I know of a house in the inner city that has an old and well established quince tree. Believe it or not, I observed a quince a little bit up the road from that house that clearly someone had pinched from the tree and taken a bite of and found it not to their liking. Well, duh! The quince trees are doing well here, but a few weeks ago they dropped their fruit in order to survive. Can’t say that I blame them, and I’ll check some orchards further north that have solid irrigation supplies. They’ll have some quinces.

    Actually we are seriously considering getting a still. It kind of seems like a useful bit of kit. I’m not sure that wine washes are good enough for medical use as I read an article long ago that suggested that the alcohol percentage of the liquid was too low and a wash in clean water produced better outcomes. Hehe! Yeah, rosemary gets big and gnarly. 🙂 I’ve got a few of them growing around the place. Hey, borage is invasive around these parts too, but aren’t all pioneering plants?

    Julia’s alpaca’s sound as if they are in cameloid paradise!

    I have heard people my own age and older express the feeling that they are invisible, and I wonder if Susan’s behaviour is a reaction to those sorts of feelings. What do you reckon?

    No is a most excellent word to learn to use. Some cultures will say ‘yes’ when they mean ‘no’ and then actually do ‘no’ because they are unable to say ‘no’. It can be confusing and anyway ain’t nothin’ wrong with bein’ a bit crusty. 🙂 That’s how I roll is a good way to express things – I get that perspective. Some folks suggest that “I couldn’t give a fig” and fair enough too, but I’d like to point out that figs produce a very tasty jam, and the plants are really sloooooow to grow.

    I noted an interesting point about Japanese history a week or two back when we were discussing the ‘year without a summer’. There was a minor reference on the Wikipedia page about the response at the time in Japan. Where was it now… … ” In Japan, still exercising caution after the cold weather related Great Tenmei famine of 1782–1788, the cold damaged crops, but no crop failures were reported, and there were no adverse effects on population.” There is something to be learned in there.

    Thanks for the additional reactive climate folks (sort of like climate Toxic Avengers). 🙂 Yeah, sounds too true to me.

    Managed to score a copy of the film and may watch it over Easter! We shall swap notes, and I’m looking forward to watching it. Yes, I can understand your interest, and the reporter was at a dangerous time in his new journey.

    Hehe! I wondered that too. Kangaroo’s get way big, and what if Snoozey the Kangaroo takes umbrage at being kicked outside? Kangaroo’s tend to snooze in their mobs during the day. I doubt that they get much in the way of deep and restful sleep. For a start, Kangaroo’s themselves are a randy lot and that alone would make for an uneasy sleep.

    It will be interesting to hear how the possible property purchase plays out. And yes, being a good neighbour is a good way to avoid the settlement of issues and disputes if the opportunity ever presents itself to miscreants.



  12. Hi DJ,

    Thanks mate! I began writing online as a response to the declining returns from physical publications, and in the end I decided that I just enjoyed writing and the delightful conversations that I enjoy with good people such as yourself. 🙂

    Ten years ago, the property was a large blank slate with very little top soil. I suspect that the top soil was either lost downhill during logging, or was sold off in Melbourne way back the day. Either way, the land was hard baked clay way back then. It has been an interesting journey.

    I’m assuming that you too have seen the ‘Death of Seattle’ film? The Wise Man was right in that regard, but he also reminded us all about something to do about what is done to the least of ’em. I reckon he was onto something with that, although few people these days would want to consider such a thing. But yeah, it looks like a predicament. Honestly I looked at Seattle and saw a lot of wealth, despite the homeless folks in the background, and there is a dark story in there that probably wouldn’t stand too much poking.

    Well, we’re a young and expansionist culture – that has sort of run out of space, and being young we don’t really think too much about tomorrow, or the day after, let alone were we are at today! 🙂 I face predicaments, but I’ve encountered the sad state of affairs that not everything can be fixed. One of the big ones that I wonder about is the electrical grid and all this talk about electric cars. It just makes no sense to me at all. Perhaps the talk fills up the blank moments in the collective conversation! Hehe! Oh well.

    Sorry mate for mentioning it. Don’t shoot the messenger and all that!!! 🙂 Oh well, there have been times that I’ve been too close to a situation to see clearly how I’m reacting. It happens. Clarity is an elusive little rotter. Good luck and keep cool.

    Really? Wow, I’ll have to take your word on that as such cold weather is far outside my experience. On the other hand, snow caves sounds pretty cool. Is that like an igloo?

    Egg would be not good as that is one hard product to clean up if it has been baked on…Your mum was clearly a wise lady to have so informed you – and I’d have to suggest that you were wise not to run the experiment, just to see what happened! No doubt that your mum would have had the facilities for dealing with that situation! Hehe!



  13. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, it is a bit like that. And it is also like a huge blank canvas that we get to draw upon and alter, and then just kick back and enjoy the view. Not that we kick back much. Hey, it was crazy hot here today! I saw 30’C on the weather station but it may actually have been a degree or two cooler. Still, it felt like early summer outside in the sun. I even had to water the plants…

    Haha! I did consider your story when I wrote this essay, but you know been there, done that and got the t-shirt (as has been said before by Lewis). There is an advantage and self protection in being a little bit detached from unfolding circumstances around you, and if you’re light enough on your feet, you can skip Pompeii before the volcano goes sky high. It is familiar territory, isn’t it? And I should also mention that there are some downsides to being more deeply rooted in an area, like how many rumbles do you consider as a fair warning from the large volcano overshadowing the town, before you scarf off into the sunset?

    Well done! Did you know that of all the people that we have given instructions to about how to make sake, you are the only one to actually produce the stuff. For some reason everyone else has modified the recipe or failed to note important instructions and it has gone awry. Again, seriously well done! It is beyond good.

    I’ll check it out!



  14. Hi, Chris!

    Eighteen addresses sounds like a lot, but when I counted up all the places I have lived in 62 years, I came up with 17 – and I had thought that I was a pretty settled person. It gives me a different perception of myself. A couple were when I was a tot and my dad was in the Navy. After that my folks started buying small and moving up to something larger every few years, they got tired of keeping up with the Joneses and moved 600 miles away, I went to college, and it goes on.

    I have been on this land for 27 years; we might be able to say that I am settled now. For many years we considered moving back West because my husband misses the wide-open spaces and vast tracts of public land so much. Here it is all forest, and almost all privately owned. I have always liked it here a great deal, so I am glad that it appears that we shall always be here. For me – the trees have names, and the wild animals have names and I know their lineages for many years back.

    I feel lucky that our oldest son will take over the “homestead” someday. He has put a great deal of work and money into already. At one point he had planned to buy a property here and make it into a homestead, but we have often talked here at this blog about how hard that is to afford. So, it works well for all of us here, as some of us are getting older. 🙂

    Look at Sir Scruffy, hard at work on the terrace. Well, Sir Scruffy – your new spot will be a refuge of beauty for others, not the least because you are there. But you are everywhere . . .

    There is another point that makes staying long term on the land so appealing – besides the memories in general: We have a regular pet graveyard on the place, a few with headstones and daffodils. I am not absolutely sure, but I think there are 14 graves there.

    Thanks for Rufus the Kangaroo, but – my goodness – there are going to be problems ahead. Yesterday a big, fat grey squirrel that I do not know came looking in at us through the living room windows and then started scratching at the glass. I really wanted to at least go out and feed her. I think maybe she has been hanging around somebody’s bird feeder all winter and maybe someone got friendly and fed her by hand. My son says she is looking for the maternity ward and I say – Egads! We are overrun by squirrels already.


  15. Hi Pam,

    Will speak tomorrow! I got the last of the 2017 blogs up tonight and now it is all here… Phew…

    Anyway, beware strange squirrels demanding feed! Please keep them up your way! 😉



  16. Chris and Lew:

    I found this in Wiki:

    In traditional Japanese aesthetics, wabi-sabi (侘寂) is a world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.[2] The aesthetic is sometimes described as one of beauty that is “imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete”.[3] It is a concept derived from the Buddhist teaching of the three marks of existence (三法印 sanbōin), specifically impermanence (無常 mujō), suffering (苦 ku) and emptiness or absence of self-nature (空 kū).

    Characteristics of the wabi-sabi aesthetic include asymmetry, roughness, simplicity, economy, austerity, modesty, intimacy, and appreciation of the ingenuous integrity of natural objects and processes.


  17. Hi Chris,

    Well we received about 2 inches of snow but it’s all gone now. Not far from here there was 8 inches. We got three pigs and hoping they acclimate OK though the man we bought them from said they were scheduled to go outside this week anyway. Today will be quite warm so that should help. They are awfully cute at this size. They were in the heated nursery building with baby pigs of all ages. The owner does use those farrowing pens where the sow can’t move around much and the piglets are in a separate section though they can creep under a bar to nurse. I don’t like seeing pigs in situations like this but at least they spend the rest of their lives outside living as a pig should. The ammonia smell was quite strong and I was afraid I carried the scent on me to my yoga class later that morning.

    I have given the seedlings a dose of kelp water so we’ll see. I don’t have a heating pad (never have) but they do get some heat from the lights.

    Loved the early pictures of your place – what you and the editor have accomplished!! Nice to have pictures of Sir Scruffy for the memories. I notice that Ollie seems to be in most pictures.

    What a mess in the oven. I even poke holes in baking potatoes just in case.

    Today I’m planting the snow peas and digging out more hostas. I also have a mix of native plants that I’m going to scatter in two spots hoping that some take. Last fall we collected a bunch of different seeds at a seed sharing event. It’s supposed to rain a bit tomorrow and the soil is moist now so I thought maybe this would be a good time.

    That kangaroo is already pretty big.


  18. @ Damo – I see new merchant opportunities in your future. Rent a cheap bit of warehouse in a low rent district. Start hunting and gathering that free stuff. Open your own Op-Shop. Sell homemade knosh and tucker on the side. :-).

    I may have to just break down and find a set of Skystone books, myself. Next stop: E-Bay!

    I’m beginning to feel like one of the last people in Western Civilization that has managed to elude much contact with, or knowledge of, GofT. :-). Lew

  19. @DJSpo – Great new word! I looked around the Net, and it doesn’t look like anyone else is using it, other than an obscure rock band. You get the New Coined Word Award for 2019! 🙂 Lew

  20. Yo, Chris – “A season, a time, a while” … someonce! :-). Slept pretty good, last night, so, perhaps I can live without knowing anything more about St. Marher.

    I did a bit of holding my head and moaning, over Notre Dame. I am most concerned about the windows, but last night, it was too early to get an accurate report on their state. Probably, not good. I saw one ariel shot of the cathedral, looking down, and from wall to wall, it was like looking in a furnace. The only comfort I take is that our civilization still has the resources to replace it. Down to the smallest detail. Is it live, or is it Memorex? Same thing happened at Windsor Castle, a few years back. Renovation in progress started the fire.

    Not dealing with one’s internal business is a definite aspect of 12 Step Programs. We have an often heard term, “pulling a geographic.” In practice, it has a bit of a broader meaning, than place. Change the place, job, wife or husband and everything will be just hunky dory. There’s a saying popularized by the artist / entrepreneur (Coffee mug? Calendar?) Mary Engelbreit. “Wherever you go, there you are.” She ripped it off from Confucius. 🙂 .

    To some, “The Life of Brian” is still offensive, after all these years. Hmmm. Still offensive, after all these years. Sounds like a great t-shirt or coffee mug. Start a movement. Our anthem could be a paraphrasing of Paul Simon’s, “Still Crazy.”

    Someonce, someone said rocks were useful. Name escapes me :-). Maybe someonce, a prehistoric quince thought, “Hmmm. If I make my fruit really bad tasting, but nice to look at, people will carry it a distance before sampling. Sounds like a great (for me) low energy method of seed dispersal.”

    Well, I’d say Susan strives not to be invisible. She’s one of the morbidly obese who ride around in an electric scooter. Bright red. She has a little car, bright red. Sometimes, I suspect some of her lapses in personal hygiene are miss guided attempts to be noticed.

    The older I get, the harder I find it to display polite interest, or even, polite disinterest. Life’s short, and getting shorter! 🙂
    “Couldn’t give a fig” (wonder where THAT comes from. Not that anyone would catch the reference. Whatever the reference.) “Don’t care” might be the most succinct.

    Somewhere around here, I’ve got a book about medieval Japan being a steady state economy. Then there’s the biblical parable about seven fat years and seven lean. Ant and the grasshopper? Winter is coming :-).

    Well, things seem cooling a bit, on the possible property for the Club. I also made the observation that they’d better have pretty good glass insurance. There’s two big plate glass windows, out front. When I was just a few blocks south, on the same street, I lost windows, twice. I poked into another property, a freestanding, failed, fish and chips shop that’s pretty new. $300,000. Mmmm. No.

    I saw the Master Gardeners, this morning. We do have patches of lavender, about the place. But when they were blooming, last year, I sniffed them, and they didn’t smell anything like lavender. To me. Maybe they need to be dried? Lew

  21. Hi Pam,

    The application of the concept of wabi-sabi is such a nice and useful way of looking at art – or a farm. People have asked me to produce buildings – particularly sheds – for them and always I decline because of the lack of understanding of this important concept of the beauty of imperfection. There would be a lot of disappointment about the finer details if I was left to do the build, and that would probably be a result of the lack of understanding of wabi-sabi. Oh well.

    Haha! It’s neck and neck in the competitive “nomad-off”. Hehe! Just mucking around, it is a lot isn’t it? And I note that about the time you decided to settle into one spot, well, it was about the same time I did too. Funny how that works, and I do wonder if there is not more to that story? Dunno.

    It is how things were done back in the day with extended family, and it is a workable solution. And yeah, that question is on my mind too. Dunno how it will all work out.

    Sir Scruffy always looked so happy here there and everywhere. As I uploaded the old blogs, there were photos of him and Sir Poopy all over the place. I did get to revisit one of my favourite blogs: Fern-trek, the Search for Scruffy. I’ve never met a dog that sulked before, but when he didn’t get his own way, he could seriously kick up a big and proper righteous sulk! Wasn’t he lovely? And he’d appreciate the flowers too.

    The truth about cats and dogs and all that. They’re a bit like the years, in that they add up.

    I reckon he’s already a problematic kangaroo. One day, he may decide that he does not want to go back outside. What then? Lucky you. Whatever is to be done with all of the squirrels? I should loan you some owls, although you might get an outcome that you don’t wish for. I can hear a couple of Boobok owls calling to each other outside right now. It’s almost 10pm and believe it or not it is 68’F. Bonkers.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Someonce – did you just make up that word? It sure has a nice ring to it! What do you think that it means? I’m guessing that it could be defined as: An unspecified point in time which occurred at some unspecified time in the past. What do you reckon? Much like the good saint, who we still know so little about. Mind you, good sleep is a thing of excellence. In a strange twist of word association, when I read the name Marher, I can’t shake the awful association with the 1920’s criminal Patrick Mahon (it sort of like the sound of the saints name) and he was responsible for the murder almost a 100 years ago of Emily Kaye. In another strange twist of circumstance, I only became aware of the case as a gruesome transcript of the trials was included in a 1984 and then later re-released to critical acclaim in 1994 song by a down under experimental rock band (The Severed Heads – charming huh?) The narration was provided by the English broadcaster and journalist: Edgar Lustgarten – who had a delightful tone to his voice for such a dark subject. I reckon I can award myself the prize for the most convoluted story this evening!!!! 😉

    Good sleep, is indeed good, and I normally sleep like the dead, but not last night. My brain was spinning fast trying to nut out a complex technical problem and then what the heck to do about it. Fortunately all solved today with a chunk of emotional content, and frankly I feel a bit used up and depleted. I’m glad to be able to balance paid work with farm work as it allows time to top up the mental and physical batteries.

    It is pretty sad that the cathedral stood for so long, only to be taken out by what might have been the renovations / renovators. So much loss. As our resident expert on archaeological subjects, what do you reckon about rebuilding to minute levels of detail? I am not sure what to make of it, but I have seen extraordinary efforts going into replicating historical details and crafts in buildings down here – and it always ends up looking pretty good. Sometimes they even re-open quarries just to match the stone work to an exactitude.

    Mate, that phrase is awesome and I’m going to write it down so that I can recall it. Pulling a geographic! Nice – and so true. 🙂 Yeah, but you really do see a lot of that going on with people and situations, and they don’t necessarily want to be called out for doing such a thing. Sometimes if people annoy me, I occasionally blurt out the thoughts on my mind. I encountered a lady struggling with a simple ticket machine today. She looked at me with an appeal for help – without expressing it in so many words. So I showed her brusquely how the machine worked, and to my utter amazement she recoiled from the basic machine. I blurted out: “You don’t seem like the technically inclined sort to me” and then giggled. A short laugh helps in such situations. I detected a glimpse of pride in her at having been defeated by a basic ticket machine. Not good. Some people enjoy and indulge a feeling of helplessness.

    Well ripping off Confucius proves that she has good taste. 🙂 Why didn’t we think of doing that? Our fortunes would be made for sure.

    I grew up listening to Simon and Garfunkel and I loved that track.

    Scott & Helen Nearing seemed to appreciate the finer points of creations with rocks – and I was in awe of the house that they built out of rock. Hope there wasn’t too much radon gas, but you know it was probably all OK. As a material it has a nice solidity to it.

    No doubts at all that your supposition in relation to the quince is indeed correct! On the tree, the big hanging yellow fruit look good too – huge things with lots of promise, that you need to stew first. Mate, they’re not good raw! I saw a person in the Queen Victoria Market chewing upon one, and trying to look cool like they knew what they were doing. I should have put on my best back country voice and said: “Mate. You’re meant to cook them first”. Still, it was amusing to watch the dude keep up the charade. I wonder what the market stall holder thought of the bloke? They usually know a fair bit about the fruit and vegetables that they are selling.

    Ouch. Many long years ago I had a member of my team in a work environment suffer from a lapse of personal hygiene, and it is a fraught topic to deal with. It was awkward, but as a bloke I could also just ask him to sort it – and hope that he did. It certainly wins the awkward award. Mind you, years after that, I had a young bloke working for me that used to fall asleep at his desk during the day. Not a good look.

    Well, it is hard isn’t it? Like where do you give your energy and time? That worries me too.

    Did you manage to recall what the book was on Japan and the steady state? I noted that at the time of the famine, the population was about 1/9th of what it is today. There might be something in there.

    What? I’m assuming that the glass windows are acts of vandalism? Is that common in your commercial areas? The only trouble I see down this way is when crims break into shops. Believe it or not, cigarettes are expensive enough that they are a target for thieves.

    Empty shops spread like a cancer. There is a mall that I have to sometimes park at and it is full of empty shops. Strangely enough since the goevrnment put in an injecting room service for users nearby, the car park is beginning to fill up, and is often almost full. Fortunately I don’t have to travel there much.

    Nope. I crush the stems or run my hand over the plant and the plants leave oil residue on your hands. It is very nice smelling. Almost soothing.



  23. Hi Margaret,

    It is the dreaded mid-week hiatus and I got home very late this evening. Me tired, both physically and mentally. I feel a bit kicked around today – and that is not a normal state of affairs for me. Oh well.



  24. @ Pam – Wabi Sabi? Isn’t that that mustard-y stuff? :-). Now I’ll pull the other one. Lew

  25. Yo, Chris – “Someonce” DJSpo came up with it in his post of 4/16. Tip o’ the hat. :-). I tossed St. Marher at our library reference staff, yesterday afternoon. As of this morning, no response. I’m sure whoever’s desk top it landed on probably thought (like me), “Piece of cake.” :-). “Couldn’t care a fig” comes from those naughty Italians (who lifted it from the even naughtier Greeks) and has to do with rude hand signals. Nuff said. Moving on ….

    Rose windows seem ok, at Notre Dame. I read there are even laser scans of the interior, available. In my mind, there’s a difference between restoration and renovation. Renovation can get quit muddled, and, sometimes bares no resemblance to the original. Someone’s idea of “improvement.” Restoration (to me) means putting it all back together the way it was, down to the smallest detail. Using the same materials and techniques.

    That’s why castles were so drafty. It was intentional. Because of the radon gas :-).

    The book on Japan is: “Just Enough: Lessons in Living Green from Traditional Japan” (Brown, 2012). I haven’t given the book the attention it deserves (it was in the “read in depth” pile.) It’s full of marvelous little pen and ink sketches. I think Jared Diamond had a section on Japan in one of his books (Collapse?) about Japanese forestry practices.

    Mid Week Hiatus? Again? You take more holidays than an ancient Roman :-). And every one is well earned and well deserved. Lew

  26. Chris:

    I looked more closely at your heading photo this week. I hadn’t noticed that bank behind the house. It is steep – much steeper than ours. What a change you and the editor have wrought there.


  27. Hi Margaret,

    The editor and I went to see a comedy show at the comedy festival tonight! We were in the big smoke for work anyway, so it all worked out nicely. I won’t tell you about the most excellent souvlaki and baklava for dinner after the show – oops, broke my own rule there. Bad Chris. It was good and roasted over a charcoal spit. Yum. It was lamb, but I’d be willing to bet your piggies would also taste very good slow cooked over charcoal. Double yum!

    Anyway, for obvious reasons, I don’t really give advanced notice about my movements on the interweb, so I had to lie to you (not my preference) yesterday about replying tonight. Will speak tomorrow for sure. Until then…



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, another late night. Tomorrow is a sleep in and also Good Friday, which means basically nothing is open and I plan to poo some fruit trees (the technical name for feeding the fruit trees with manure and compost).

    I’m feeling a bit amusing tonight because we went and saw another comedy show for the comedy festival. It is massive and there are something like 620 shows… The comedian was onto her fifth night as a first time stand-up comedian, and she was doing really well. It is a skill, holding the attention of a crowd that’s for sure and practice makes perfect – as they say. I’ve got a bit of writing practice to go before I hit the journeyman stage! The comedy festival finishes over the next few days, so that is that for another year. I do rather enjoy comedians who can weave a narrative into their jokes – as that sort of appeals to me. The comedian last week wove a narrative that went for over one and three quarter hours – and my attention was engaged and maintained for the entire time (the stick insect and dog lady).

    Speaking of all things poo, I have noticed that the faecal medical industry is in its early days down here. We spoke about it a week or two back. And those sorts of days comprise the awareness raising and marketing side of things, but there is also the gritty side of the industry that needs donations in order to maintain regular movements.

    Now all right thinking people know that only about 6% of the population are apparently healthy enough to provide donations. From what I’ve read apparently half the population suffer from some sort of gut issue. I fortunately don’t count myself amongst them and I have reasonably good physical and mental health. i.e. A prime donor. I hear over in the US they pay $60 a plop.

    It is all a bit creepy really, and I’m basically uncomfortable with that thought. So, me being a bit of an idiot from time to time who enjoys mucking around, remarked to the editor on the most delicate subject: “I ain’t given them any of ma poo!” And not to be outdone, the editor replied quicker than a cut snake: “If we ever get broke, you’re gonna eat your words and donate your turds”. How is a man meant to reply to words of wisdom like that? Hehe!

    Sorry for the insight into the silliness that goes on in between all of the hard work, and personally I blame all of the comedy shows that we’ve been going to for encouraging it. 🙂

    Promise to reply in full tomorrow, but for now it’s really late again (yesterday was work) and I’m heading off to bed. Do you get comedy festivals up your way?



  29. @ Pam – In the garden, aesthetically pleasing. But kind of wonky and only an annual. :-). Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – I noticed what you said to Margaret about not betraying your movements on the Web. I don’t either. Are you in witness protection, too? 🙂

    Between blood donations, mmmm, other precious bodily fluids and $60 bucks a plop, a bloke would never have to work, again. I’ve been feeling a bit under the weather, the past couple of days. Touchy tummy. Nothing I can quit put my finger on. A bit gassy, but nothing over the top. Almost nauseated, but not quit. There’s a bug going around the Institution, but the symptoms don’t quit match. Might be something I ate. Feeling ok, this AM, and a good thing. Going out to lunch, with Scott.

    Don’t know where we’re going. When I saw him yesterday, he’d just had breakfast, and food was not a priority. As usual, I REALLY DON’T CARE. Just as long as it’s out of my usual fare. If I have to, I’ll play dirty. If I suggest McDonald’s, that usually breaks the impasse. :-).

    I have a funny relationship with humor, and humorists. Most of the time, I just done’t see the point. I watched the new “Holmes & Watson” (Will Farrell, et all) the other night. Thought it all rather silly and an hour and a half I’ll never again, get back. Sets were nice.

    Of course, Seattle and Portland have whole established comedy clubs. The occasional festival. Even our local Native American gambling den has the occasional wandering comedian.

    Well, as long as what happens on Fern Glade Farm, stays on Fern Glade Farm, I guess no one gets hurt. :-). Lew

  31. Chris,

    Surprisingly, I’ve not watched the “Death of Seattle”. I’m privy to a lot of “Death of Spokane” on my job and near the workplace. Spokane, aka East Seattle (by 500km), is trying the same failed ideas that Seattle has tried. There is a fair amount of wealth here as well, and the highest per capita rate of poverty in Washington for cities/towns above a certain population. ( This ignores the Indian Reservations, where unemployment is near 80% and poverty is everywhere, as there are no large towns on these.) At which point I’ll change topics lest I enter Full Rant Mode.

    I agree about electric cars and the electric power grid. Dumb. Very exceedingly dumb. What is the source of the electricity which will power the cars? And the cars are less efficient than other uses of electricity. I have the theme song for the old “Bonanaza” tv show going through my head with the words “dumb da da dumb da da dumb da da dumb dumb dumb dumb”. Plus, the time to have been able to do anything useful about lifestyle change and limited resources was probably the 1970s and 1980s. And changing over to all electric vehicles likely won’t do the least little bit to combat climate change either. That ship sailed in the 1980s also, IMHO.

    Snow caves. Igloos. The latter are more carved blocks of ice/snow. The snow cave, however, is dug directly into snow. The “survival” cave is dug vertically into a steep bank, and you sorta assume a “warmth-conserving” semi-erect position. It’s usually not dug more than a meter or so into the bank.

    Then there are the classic “slit” caves, which follow the same idea as the “survival” cave, except that these are dug horizontally , just 1 to 1.5 meters tall. Wide, long, low, made for sleeping. I slept in one once and disliked it: with a flat ceiling, the body warmth and respiration of 3 men raised the temperature above freezing and we got wet due to the resulting melt. Ventilation holes in the ceiling did nothing to alleviate the problem.

    Then there’s” DJ’s Snow Palace” patent pending. I designed this based on the igloo idea. I dug at downward angle in deep snow, then carved out a large domed circle. This ended up being shaped like a ball with a flat “floor” for our gear. I made ledges for sleeping on the outer walls, poked ventilation holes in the ceiling and made sure that the door was higher than the sleeping ledges. This slept 12. It was about -12C outside the next morning, about +3C inside DJ’s Snow Palace (patent pending). Due to the curved design, all the melt oozed down the walls, the freezing point being slightly above the sleeping ledges. We stayed dry, while the gents in the slit caves got wet and had moved outside, waking up damp and in -12C air.

    Worry not. I shoot no messengers. I am often the messenger of bad tidings at my job so hold fellow messengers in high regard. And you gave useful and timely advice. I simply tell people “no”.


  32. @ Lew,

    Thank you for bestowing the New Coined Word Award for 2019 upon “someonce”. I’ll add that to my trophy case. It will proudly share space with the bowling league first place trophy and the bowling league’s much fancier horse’s rear trophy for finishing in last place.


  33. Hi Margaret,

    Do you believe that the snow may be done now for the season? It will be interesting, to say the least, to see what are the outcomes for your plants as you get into summer. I’ve had really cold starts to the growing season which have killed the tomato, eggplant and capsicum crops, and there was nothing to do other than just replant them all. The weird thing was that the first fruits were only delayed by maybe a fortnight, but maybe less than that, so hopefully it will all work out OK. Plants are very hardy and adaptable.

    And yeah, piglets are really cute. How are they enjoying having some outside time and has the weather improved? Have you given firm instructions to Salve and Leo regarding the piglets? Believe it or not, tomorrow is forecast to reach 30’C / 86’F in the big smoke. Totally bonkers. Incidentally, the authorities were doing a back burn on the north western (and most vulnerable) part of the mountain range. There is lots of smoke everywhere, although it doesn’t appear to have dampened the enthusiasm of the leaf change hordes. I took a few photographs so hopefully they’ll turn out OK. I just hope the wind does not pick up in the next few days as the wind will push the fire in this direction. I have heard people quip: “Hope you guys know what you’re doing!”, and it is not posed as a question.

    Yeah, I was wondering what sort of grow lamp that you used on the seedlings and whether it put out some heat. Have they perked up at all? Do you raise them inside the house?

    The winter vegetables are thoroughly enjoying the heat and sun that they’re getting and have even grown a bit over the past few days. I was discussing with a neighbour this morning that it looks like a repeat of the weather in the 2009 year, which morphed into 2010 which ended up being the wettest year in recorded history (55+ inches). I’d just be happy with an average amount of rainfall, but you know. I am actually running low on water supplies for the house and garden, so I hope it does rain soon. The editor and I disagree about the need to install another large water tank. However, I do concede the point that if a person has access to a lot of water, then they generally use a lot of water. On another property today, I spotted some huge and very old Eucalyptus trees that had died due to a person’s over watering of their garden. We muck around with the flows of water across the land at our peril and this is something that we are acutely aware of.

    Thanks! Sometimes it is nice to walk around and appreciate what we have achieved, but then also plot what could be done in the future. 🙂 The fluffies are a little less charming for having lost their elder statesman, and Ollie is not the shy and retiring sort as he is in everyone’s business including the photos. He’ll do well, that dog.

    A sound strategy with the potatoes in the oven.

    Snow peas are really tasty! I reckon that perhaps things have finally warmed up in your part of the world if the soil is now moist. The shady half of the property is now green, but it may take a little bit longer for the other half to green up. We’re busy feeding all of the fruit (and other) trees on the property. It is a lot of work because I have to cage each tree so as to stop the wallabies from dismantling them. By the end of the job I reckon the trees will have required about 10 cubic metres (13 cubic yards) of mulches and manures. No doubt the soils in your part of the world contain more organic matter and minerals?



  34. Hi Pam,

    Thank you for noticing the steepness of the gradient here. I reckon that on average it is about 14%, which is not the sort of steepness that would make Ollie would disappear over an incline, but it is steep enough. Land is not cheap down here, and it was the best that we could afford at the time. I reckon a natural spring would make the property better, but you know it isn’t going to happen anytime soon. I have had freshwater springs pop up in unexpected places, but in dry years like this one, well, it just ends up being dry and the water table is very deep and unreachable.

    Yeah, we have some tricks up our sleeve’s to come that’s for sure! 🙂 I reckon that over winter we’ll manage to excavate and fence another terrace. We’re discussing how to go about doing that job and getting the soil started on the terrace and also planting out the roses among other plants as we go, so it might end up being different work than in other past years. Dunno.

    It is different anyway this year because we’re planting out the tomato enclosure with our winter vegetables, so who knows how that will turn out? All I know is that there will be more winter vegetables and that is a good thing.

    How is your spring going?



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, it is awful being in witness protection and so you have my sympathies and I for one won’t betray your movements on this public forum. 😉 Seriously, you never know who is reading it! The statistics that I encounter everyday on the back end of the website are a source of amusement for me, if only because I don’t know that many people. Who are they all? And I am absolutely ruthless with cutting access to anyone who proves to me that they are either pushing product and/or just being a general dunderhead! Honestly, when I decided to begin the blog all those years ago I thought that it would end up being you and I just having a nice spot for a chat. I enjoy our chats.

    Donations for both fun and profit are not a thing down here. Unfortunately, most donations are not remunerated and so you have to give for the good feeling of giving. Years ago I used to regularly give blood, but the time I spent at the blood bank got longer and longer and then one night it extended into a few hours and it annoyed me. The milkshake and party pie that they gave me at the end of the donation was nice and all, but far out, if they were so under staffed, maybe they should have given me a call and rescheduled. Everyone else seemed to be getting paid.

    I’ve seen a bit of that over the years. I may have mentioned that I was a volunteer fireman for a few years with the local rural brigade. The original pay back for volunteers was that it was a social thing to do, and in return you put your life on the line, and that was something that I could understand. But then after the massive 2009 fires and the Royal Commission, it looked more and more like an unpaid job where expectations were high and the returns were low. After that, it just made no sense to me to be involved, which is frankly a sad indictment of the way the organisation was run.

    How are you feeling today? Stomach bugs are not good at all. You may recall that one took me down hard a few months back, and I recall consuming eggs off the property, and they were the one thing that I ate during that time that tasted a bit weird to me, then I read: Eggs recalled in four states due to ‘exotic’ salmonella strain . I crashed hard.

    How did the lunch go? Where did you end up eating and what sort of cuisine? Oooo! That is a dirty trick with the McDonalds threat. I like your style and would never have thought of doing that (and am writing it down so that I can use it next time)! 🙂 We ate a very traditional lamb souvlaki and baklava last night after the comedy show and they were very good. The business has operated in the same spot for almost 40 years. It does a good trade, but last night was a bit quiet for them.

    Yeah, the film scored some very mixed reviews, and Will Farrell is not a favourite of mine, although I did enjoy his role in “Wedding Crashers”, and I’ve never been able to shake the line: “Mom! Meatloaf!”, from my consciousness. Humour is a complicated business and we all interpret it and enjoy different takes on the form. Just for one example, I found Monty Python’s film The Life of Brian to be hysterical, but other people found it to be utterly offensive to their sensibilities. I guess it is a situation where ‘one size fits all’ does not apply.

    Did you just very politely and diplomatically tell me not to give up my day job and become a stand up comedian? Hehe! Nice one! The point of the poo story was to reach the rhyme which the editor came up with on the spur of the moment, and that was the punch line. Yes, yes, quit now whilst I’m ahead. Hehe!

    Hey, I read that about the naughty Ancient Greeks and their hand gestures. You know when I was a kid, people used to display defiant gestures through their fingers (either the first and second digits lifted, or the second digit alone). And sometimes they would add an audible retort along the lines of: “up yours!” In other cultures I have read of people using a finger gesture applied to near to the eyeball along with a certain look, and that was described as giving someone the “Evil Eye” whatever that is.

    The editor mentioned the stained glass windows at Notre Dame, so I’m glad to hear that they were immune from the fire. I appreciate the difference that you describe between renovation and restoration. Of course things like budget tend to set the upper limit with such restoration works. It is interesting that you mention that, but I’m seeing a lot of high rise buildings being erected in the big smoke and they are constructed with pre-cast concrete panels and I really do wonder about the longevity of those buildings.

    Speaking of concrete, I have mentioned fat-burgs with you before, but apparently somebody dumped commercial quantities of cement into the sewers of London, and now they have a: London ‘concreteberg’ blocks 100 metres of sewers, authorities don’t know how it got there. Imagine being in a business that gets the call to help out with the sewer clearing job. No doubt it went something like this: “Yeah mate we can do this job, but it’s gonna cost”. It is even more amazing to me that in the photos there are some sort of cables running through the sewer attached to the walls.

    Surely you jest about the draftiness of the castles and the radon gas emanating from the rocks? I have a fair idea about how much firewood it takes to heat this well insulated house, but I doubt that a castle had enough stores to keep the building heated to the sort of expectations that we have today. And I can’t imagine how many castles suffered from lack of stores during an extended siege. The water supply would have been the thing to poison first.

    Speaking of poisoned water supplies and history, the editor listened to a fascinating podcast about the disease of cholera and a localised outbreak in London in the vicinity of a much prized drinking well: 1854 Broad Street cholera outbreak. A lot was learned about the disease through mapping the outbreak. The flu has apparently been quite nasty down here this year.

    Thanks for providing the name of the architectural book on Japan and a copy is working its way here. And I’m continuing to read “The Town” and yes as you have correctly noted, the author uses the “what will everyone think” as a plot device to allow for change in what would otherwise be a stubborn character. I’m still a bit wary of Portious and his wondering eye, because he mentions some tavern keep within the ear shot of Sayward, and he doesn’t seem like me to be the kind of guy character to do such a thing lightly.




  36. Hi DJ,

    Thank you for sharing your on the ground perspective. It is a certainly very complicated matter. It has been unfortunately obvious to me that if a culture has strong ties to the land, then European culture has done its best to break peoples bonds to place, which in turn breaks or subverts the culture. It is a form of sink or swim assimilation, and I have long wondered whether it is a sign that the underlying European culture itself is quite brittle to have done so. Dunno. Certainly the same trick appears to be applied to the European culture these days but from other groups and with interest. Anyway, and I’m just guessing, but the ability to produce such a large scale and homogeneous culture will retract in line with the energy supplies.

    Hehe! Thanks for that, now I have the Bonanza theme song going through my head, but with your added twist. I agree, the time was in the past, and instead we collectively chose to do something else. You have to admit that all the same it has been a fun journey? But yeah, once supply side Reaganomics got turned on, well, we made our choice. The thing that I wonder about the electric car story is that nobody in a position of power is willing to sell the necessity for the idea other than some vague promise about it being good for the environment.

    Awesome, and yeah the condensation and resulting drip would have been not good. I once slept against the side of a nylon tent, and the water got into my sleeping gear through capillary action. It sure was cold.

    Nice work with the design and enjoy defending your patent rights in the courts! Waking up damp and in -12C air sounds like a true horror story to me. I’ve seen clothes freeze solid over-night in Nepal. Bonkers weather! Mind you, tomorrow is meant to get to 30’C / 86’F and that too is way bonkers.

    As a funny side story, the little dirt mouse Suzuki is now quite dirty because of all the dry weather. In the big smoke, cars are not usually that dirty, so it stands out a bit and people avoid it. During the comedy show last night, some cheeky wag wrote the word: “Pizza” on the back window in all the dirt. The flowing calligraphy was outstanding, and it was a real shame to have to clean it off the cars window. I now wish that I’d taken a photo of it. It is nice that other people work to amuse themselves and myself in the process.

    Thank you, and ‘no’ is a very useful word. There can sometimes be downsides to assisting people.



  37. Buenas tardes

    The near-drought of Winter, which was very dry indeed, continues in England, and the clay is actually cracking up, which I’ve never seen before in April. Tilled fields look almost white,and the soil here is mid-grey and like iron.

    So, no gardening at all, except to water the new fruit trees and roses, which were just too expensive and continue making raised beds from scrap wood. I’m aiming for an octagon plan, for some reason. Then I can think about how to fill them: I have cardboard off-cuts from my workshop, good soil dug up from other parts of the garden , leather scraps, ash, etc. I suppose I will have to import some compost, too.

    Complaining about the cold had one benefit, as with typical perversity the sun has now broken out and we may even get up to 22 degrees here, which is unheard of on a Bank Holiday weekend!

    Keeping castles warm: I suspect that the lucky ones huddled around charcoal braziers made of brass, perhaps under a table with a cloth over it – this was common in Spain until the 20th century.

    It’s very toasty, as I did the same thing with tea-lights under a pottery funnel, under a cloth on my knees, when I was totally broke and couldn’t repair the gas heating system here after 2008: with a hat on, you are as warm as toast. In fact, too warm -the heat generated by two tea-lights is unexpected!

    Unfortunately, if incorrectly handled the charcoal brazier can kill you – toxic fumes build up under the lid. Not to be tried by the inexperienced. The tea-light system is very safe. Just don’t wear nylon…..

    My family actually used to be in the castle business, managing them for centuries (poor knights, had to have a day job) : searching around on the net I found an inventory drawn up by one of them in the 13th century, but not for food just weapons: barrels of crossbow bolts and arrows, spears, rocks for dropping, helmets and shields, that sort of thing. I imagine that the food was mostly salt pork, which lasts forever, hard cheese and harder bread….

    I have to say, in a crisis I get quite excited, thinking ‘At last, something to get my teeth into! Let’s see: I need….’ and I suspect I owe this to them – getting prepared feels really good and not a chore.

    Not so nice were the punishments they inflicted: cutting the ears off cheese thieves, and pushing people off the castle walls: yes, it really happened….

    PS ‘hoe’ was not a naughty joke. Shame on you! Glad you liked the Persian story.

    All the best to you and everyone.


  38. Hi Chris,
    Wise not to give advance notice. Sounds like quite the fun evening. We’ve never raised lambs but get one (processed) from one of two neighbors who raise them.

    I am cautiously optimistic that the snow is done but even snow in early June is not unheard of. At any rate it didn’t last long. It appears that we have finally broken the back of winter.

    It’s always a bit of an adjustment for the pigs. So far, so good except one is constipated now. It’s usually the opposite problem as they adjust to new feed. Leo and Salve love the pigs especially Leo. All you have to do is say the word pig and give a snort and he starts crying. Speaking of poo, pig poo is a favorite of the dogs. They’ve actually been caught reaching in under the fence to pull some out. Pigs poop in the same place and unfortunately it’s often in reach of the dogs.

    Yes, let’s hope the authorities have a good handle on that fire.

    The plants look a bit better but are very small so we’ll see. The hostas are finally growing so we can cook some up in the next few days.

    So what do you do if you run out of water?

    It’s turkey hunting season starting tomorrow so Doug’s going to try his luck. He’s only gone once before and wasn’t successful but he plans to go out each morning for the next week by our old house. There are a lot of wild turkeys now.


  39. @Lew
    I chuckled reading your comment about not really caring where you go to eat. I’m generally of the same mind as I more enjoy the social aspect and also not having the mess of cooking to clean up. It drives Doug crazy as food is very important to him so I usually don’t care too much though McDonald’s is definitely off limits.


  40. Yo, Chris – I heard back from the library about our mystery saint.

    Hi Lew,
    I looked through multiple sources for Saints, both Catholic and other. I tried spelling it Marher, Maher, Mahrer, and other vowels. In books and online. The only thing I found was what you already know. Plus the quote in its allegedly original language “te tide and te time þat tu iboren were, schal beon iblescet”, however I couldn’t figure out what language it was.
    Average people from the 1200s are not well documented, however saints are usually documented in a lasting way that we should be able to find. I’m starting to doubt that there was such a person.
    Thanks for the interesting question, I’m sorry I’m not able to find a definitive answer for you.
    Liz Boston, Senior Librarian
    eLibrary branch, Timberland Regional Library

    I knew Liz when I worked for Timberland. She’s highly competent. And still remembers me, when we have contact. I think she’s a bit wrong about the saint being in the realm of mythical. Saints from the 1200’s were usually pretty well documented. Hmmm. I just thought of another couple of searches, I could try. Lew

  41. Yo, Chris – That’s interesting that Australia closes up shop for Good Friday. Here, no. But then we’re a bit fraught with all that separation of church and state, business. Easter (and attendant holy days … unless you live in New Orleans), no. Christmas and Thanksgiving, yes. And to inquire into the dissonance, you get long silences and blank stares.

    LOL. Pooing the fruit trees. I had a sudden image of you flinging poo at the trees. Well, whatever floats your boat :-).

    Blood donation here is either for profit, or freely given. People flock after disasters. Milkshake and a party pie? Sounds kind of lux. Here, your lucky if you get a tepid glass of orange drink, and a stale commercial biscuit.

    I remember you did a stint as a volunteer firemen. Any incriminating photos floating around of you in your bunker gear?

    My stomach bug seems to have settled down. We were still dithering about where to go, when we met up at the Club. Decided to to with good ol’ “Merican food. By the time we got to our cars in the parking lot, had changed our minds to Mexican. All this dithering wears me out. Anyway, I stuck with the tried and true. Shrimp nachos. Really simple. A bed of corn chips with shrimp, diced tomato and green onions, all held together with melted Monterey Jack cheese, served hot. To which you can apply a liberal helping of hot sauce or salsa. And a big glass of milk! :-). It’s served in enormous quantity. I didn’t eat anything else, yesterday.

    Amulets to avid the evil eye were pretty standard in a lot of cultures. The Roman’s tied them around their children’s necks. Called “bulla”, I think. They were retired at a coming of age ceremony. I suppose, given the infant mortality at the time, having a healthy child might have attracted a bit of envy and ill will. You also didn’t want to make too much comment on the shining attributes of your little snowflake, as it might attract the attention of the gods.

    Who in the heck would dispose of concrete in a sewer? I think the bits along the wall are actually pipes, probably stuffed full of everything from fiber optic cables, electric wires and even gas lines. It’s interesting that they’re color coded.

    Let’s go down to the museum and take a look at the fat berg! I’d pay good money, for that! :-). I thought it interesting that they turned a bit of the fat berg into biofuel. Waste not, want not.

    Drafty castle? Just head down to your local Tapestry Outlet ™. Available in the ever popular hunt scene. Maiden and the Unicorn, back in stock! It’s interesting what they did back in ye olde times to cut drafts and conserve heat. Bed hangings, wing back chairs, settles around fireplaces.

    Mapping epidemics is pretty standard, now. But Dr. Snow did it first! I know I have seen a rather nice academic painting of Dr. Snow removing the pump handle. Could I find it? No. There are some black holes on the Net, but it’s always a bit of a surprise (to me) when I stumble across one. Maybe it’s another one I should throw at Liz Boston? :-). Lew

  42. Hey Buenas Noches, Amigo!

    Not good at all. Down below in the valley here, when the land dries, the clay becomes hard as and cracks in the soil also form. The upside is that when the rains return again (hopefully) the cracks allow the water to infiltrate further and deeper into the soil than it otherwise would. A positive feedback loop, if ever there was one. Some parts of the UK may prove difficult to garden in the future due to the intrinsic low rainfall. So far it is only the cooler weather that has allowed it to be as productive as it is. I worry about rainfall. Mid grey can either be dead fungi or some clay’s are naturally grey. In dry years, if you’re going to plough, you have to time it just right. I’ve noticed that some folks around here have ploughed in the past few days and they might be right with the timing. I don’t disturb the soil structure if I can help it.

    Welcome to my world of compost and mulch imports. 🙂 You can get creative and bucket bath or shower water into the compost heap so as to keep the worms alive. Without the water, they’ll survive as eggs for two years. Again, good luck.

    22 sounds like a very nice day. It was 30 here today, and I almost felt as if the sun was burning my skin. Bonkers.

    Thanks for the history as to how they kept warm back in the day. Down here there was such a thing as a three dog night. But you may never have felt the warmth of a traditional possum fur coat (please don’t be offended, possums are plentiful down here and the owls generally leave plenty of fur should anyone be so inclined as to collect it). Possum fibre is amazingly soft.

    During the recession of the early 90’s I was flat out broke, working in debt collection during the day and living in an unheated flat. Winters were cold as, even so my neighbours who couldn’t afford a TV used to pile in on Tuesday night at about 11pm to watch episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation. But you know it builds character and all that, although that is what people in better circumstances told me at the time. We are an extraordinarily adaptable species. Hey, I’ve burnt my hand on a tea light! They get really hot, you don’t need to convince me.

    Exactly, enthusiasm during a crisis is a good skill to have inherited in your genes (I hope you tip the hat and raise an occasional glass to your forebears from time to time?) Of course it is lost on most people that the flip-side of a crisis is opportunity!

    Folks with the upper hand are often of a vindictive nature, so not to stress about the misdeeds of your distant relatives. Some poor soul down here recently blew the whistle on the alleged misdeeds of tax office and for his good deed he scored a 160 year sentence. Everything old is new again!

    Here I have to apologise because I grew up on a diet of Bennie Hill, Kenny Everett and let us not forget the bawdy Carry On series, so my poor brain is accustomed to double entendre’s. And for my misinterpretation of your words, I formally apologise to your good self.



  43. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for understanding. Due to the lack of houses up here, I’m ridiculously easy to find as someone has already proven to me. Fortunately most of the things here have little value to anyone else, but still as I read a few years ago, there is no point in feeding the trolls (and other nefarious folk)! It is a public forum after all.

    It was a fun evening, and we enjoy comedy shows. Lamb and I have a complicated relationship because when I was a young kid one of the most consumed meals was lamb and three vegetables. And even today I can recall consuming the fatty tails and sucking the marrow out of the bone. The vegetables were usually boiled and had little taste as a result. These days I enjoy the taste of food stuffs, but in producing food I’ve come to know the landscape of food in which we all exist, and those days lamb cooked at home is a bit of an anathema. On the other hand I too would enjoy the lamb raised by your neighbour. It is complicated, but I try to live as close to the land as possible.

    Glad to hear that winter is finally waning! It was 86’F here today, but in the far west of the continent: Snow falls in Western Australia in April for first time in 49 years as Good Friday cold blast turns Bluff Knoll white. The cold front may blow through here tomorrow evening. The fall from the heady summer days will be big! And hopefully a bit of rain falls with the drop in temperature.

    Really? Hopefully the constipation with the piglet will soon pass. Yeah, I’ve noticed that with the chickens too in that they struggle with the new feed (no matter how good it is) and the new routines and space. Haha! That’s funny! Need I mention that Ollie the delightful cuddle dog had smeared himself in some very crusty marsupial manure yesterday. I just wash him with a bit of warm soapy water and hope that he grows past his poo munching ways – but you and I both know that this will never be the case. 🙂 Dogs will be dogs.

    I got some photos of the fire for the next blog. It sure has been smokey today and yesterday.

    The winter vegetables are small here too. It is that time of year.

    I can put in an order for a truck load of water and that costs about $300 for 16,000L (4,200 gallons) delivered. I have noted that the water cartage bloke has been all over the place of late, so he may make me wait quite a while for any potential delivery. But we’ll struggle through and not purchase any water. If you run low on water, you simply cut back.

    Has Doug scored any turkey’s?



  44. Hi Lewis,

    Well I’m stumped too about that reply about our mystery Saint. I have noticed that the Catholic Church seems to be pretty good at the act of ex-communication, moving on and outright disappearance, but in this instance they may have just ghosted the bloke. It makes you wonder what his possible offense to them may have been? Did your searches turn anything up? There is certainly mystery in there, that’s for sure.

    Yeah, it is serious business down here with Good Friday. It is one of only two days of the year when the newspapers of account are not printed and distributed. I was surprised to discover that the local cafe and pub were actually open for the day, so maybe the day is waning in terms of its significance? Dunno. I went up out of curiosity to see what the leaf change tourists were doing – and they were everywhere. It is surely a cultural thing, as it is a nice spectacle and all, but the sheer crowds make no sense to me. It sure was smokey yesterday and today. I took some good photos of the burn-off which I’ll put on the next blog.

    Hehe! I spent most of the morning today feeding more fruit trees. I’ll put a photo of the process on the next blog so you can see what I’m talking about. From what I’ve noticed, if you don’t feed the fruit trees, they won’t grow very fast. It is a good task to do because I get to inspect and prune every single fruit tree. People tend to overly complicate the process of pruning, but it is as simple as just cutting off unwanted growth. The trees don’t care as much as you would believe! And the naughty wallabies tend to set the minimum height of about 6ft for branches on most of the fruit trees. I can understand how the Roman’s suffered at the hands of the Vandals.

    Really? That is dodgy. I feel very thirsty after donating blood and a good sized milk shake is just the thing to quench a hard earned thirst. It does sound a bit lux doesn’t it by way of comparison? So you get nothing for blood donations in your part of the world? Sometimes I feel that such things are an abuse of the social niceties. I see a bit of that going on.

    Yeah, nah! Although I did hear of such things regarding other people during my stint, but let us not talk of other folks who may not be present. Such talk makes me blush!

    I’m absolutely pumped. A few moments ago, the editor finally hunted down a quality electric second hand chainsaw. Mate, we have been looking for months and months for one of these things because they are eminently repairable – unlike the one I have now. The editor always tells me that sooner or later everything comes up for sale on the second hand market. Did you ever see that with the tat market?

    Good to hear that your stomach bug settled down and that you were able to enjoy some Mexican food (total yummo). You do know that dithering is the opposite of knowing ones preferences? Dithering annoys me too, but one must make allowances for others. Hey, I’m salivating at the thought of shrimp nacho’s. Yum! The editor enjoyed a special Easter gourmet seafood pie today. It used to be a thing to consume seafood at Easter. Blessed are the fisherman (and the cheese makers!) Bad Chris!

    Ah yes, you have long warned of the dangers of hubris turning into nemesis. I hear you, but far out mate, plenty of people have missed that particular story. On reflection, it was a wise strategy of the Roman’s and they may have understood that peers might take umbrage and action at their good luck. Very wise.

    I know! It would be so easy to trace back what had happened with the concrete. Surely the perpetrator understood that the stuff sets underwater? Hehe! Yeah, one of the reasons I mentioned the pipes was because your thought had occurred to me too. Good luck with removing the concrete and not destroying the cables. And yeah, the fat from the fatberg would have been a phenomenal amount of energy, so it was nice that they turned it into bio-diesel. I’ve known a few people over the years who swear by the stuff, although it is usually a waste product from cooking, although it is probably the same stuff down in the sewer. I notice whenever I have guests over and feed them that it takes a lot more washing up water and soap to clean up the dishes, cutlery and cooking utensils than it does when we cook for just ourselves. And that is usually a factor of the sort of foodstuffs that we have to cook for them. As a society, we are actually flushing energy down the drain. It is an impressive feat and not well understood or appreciated.

    Unicorns could be quite handy, although I can’t personally vouch for the maidens on the tapestries as they would be a mixed bag and unproven. 😉 I feel sorry for the poor Sayward who has had to move into the big and unasked for house. I hope she moves back to her cabin on the edge of town. I tell ya, if I pulled that house building and financing trick that Portious pulled, my life would not be worth living. It was just wrong and a bit of a dog act.

    History has a funny way of turning out in unexpected ways. Dr. Snow made a representation to the local council with evidence based on his map of the Cholera epidemic, and it was the local council that immediately removed the handle on the water pump and not the good doctor. Incidentally, the presentation of such evidence has mostly been ignored by the authorities, but in that case they acted swiftly and to good effect.



  45. Chris:

    My spring is going well. We get rain about twice a week, which I consider perfect. I work outside on all the non-rainy days and work inside on the rainy ones. We haven’t had to turn the heat on or have a fire for 3 weeks.

    “We muck around with the flows of water across the land at our peril and this is something that we are acutely aware of.” I was just reading a fascinating study of how to manage water flow on a property in “The Earth User’s Guide To Permaculture” which is something I copied from a library book long ago. If one knows what one is doing, it appears that there are great things one can do to control water. I am thinking of your swales.

    I am wondering if the concreteberg was deliberate. What a way to cause some havoc in a city should someone perpetrate such an act in many places in the sewer system. If nothing else, think of the cost. We are on a septic system and one thing the fellow who put in the system told me was to never put fat down the drain. Bad for the pipes, bad for the septic tank.

    Maybe I too should blame Benny Hill for seeing double entendres everywhere . . .

    Have you actually bought the chainsaw?


  46. Yo, Chris – That’s pretty exciting about the electric chain saw. I presume they are quieter than the gas models? Be sure and use the electricity without the corn ethanol. :-). Yes, I guess whatever your looking for in the tat market, turns up eventually. But is it a price you’re willing to pay? Some people feel that although the internet has driven prices for tat down, it’s not near so much fun to collect, as it was in the past. Now, you can generally just get on the Net and order up whatever your looking for (mostly.) Takes all the thrill of the hunt and discovery, out of it.

    Speaking of chain saws, I’m four episodes into the latest available season of the “Doctor Blake Mysteries.” Hello, Ballarat! :-). In one of the episodes I watched, someone was waving a chain saw about. Four episodes in and still no body in the lake. They thought there was a body in the lake, but it was just a canvas bag with someone’s belongings. Red herring!

    “One must make allowances for others.” Why? :-).

    Gourmet seafood pie. Shrimp quiche? Quit nice stuff. But it’s too early in the morning for a Monty Python quote. Not through my first cuppa, yet. :-). So if we’ve just had the 50th anniversary of the release of the Beatle’s “White Album” and this is the 40th anniversary of the release of “Life of Bryan”, that means LofB came out about 1979. So that must have been the Year of the Great Comet, The Plague and The Fire. Timekeeping is such tricky stuff! :-).

    Given the go-around about religious symbols and Christmas, here at the Institution, of course, a directive came down about religious symbols and Easter. Easter bunnies and colored eggs are ok to display, but not crosses. Some of the Ladies are engaged in a lively game of “hide the cross in plain sight.” I quipped to one of the Ladies that maybe I could find an image of the Easter Bunny on a cross. She thought that was hysterically funny. A quick Google search and … yup, they’re out there.

    People say the exhaust from bio-diesel made from cooking oil, smells like french fries. Clearly, the dump truck I got stuck behind the other day, that desperately needed a tune up, was not burning recycled cooking oil. The fumes for the few blocks I was stuck behind him probably took five years off my life. Having lived with a septic system, I’m very careful about what goes down the drain. I also keep a jug of white vinegar next to the sink. With a drop of soap, that really cuts any left over grease on dishes.

    Sayward generally keeps her guard up, around Portious. She “gets” that he’s a sly Yankee from the old states. Remember the hay merchant who thought he was putting one over on Portious, only to discover he’d sold himself into bondage? Everyone picking at Sayward to move into the big house was really about her “living below her station.” Can’t have that, can we? What will people think? :-).

    The council responding to Dr. Snow? Must have been the off season. Didn’t have to worry about spooking the tourists and day trippers :-).

    LOL. After digging out “Just Enough”, I thought, “Well, you’ve got it, maybe you should read it?” :-). Fascinating stuff. But I’ll hold off on much comment til you get your copy. There’s quit a bit about forest management, right off the bat. The sketches are great and I spent time pouring over them with my magnifying glass. Lew

  47. Chris,

    Poo the trees, Piglet the vegetables, Eeyore the flowers, Tigger the ferns, whilst Kanga and Roo already live there???

    I’ll have to remember your story. Maybehaps I can then pass the gift and “Pizza” a dirty car.

    I’ve also wondered why the European culture has had this need to stomp out the cultures it meets, rather than assimilating and merging and sharing. There is a definite brittleness there, I think. But from whence it came, and why, I’ve pondered often but have come to no conclusions, firm or soft.

    I did muse about it several decades ago. The working idea was that there were the empires of Middle East and Mediterranean history: Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, Persia. Egypt seemed to merge ideas into its culture. Then the Greeks from Europe got into the business, with a decidedly non-Asian perspective. And something changed. Then followed the Romans. And several hundred years later Rome’s successor, Charlemagne and the Holy Roman Empire, which hinted to me that the idea of EMPIRE was firmly fixated into the minds of the Europeans. But that’s really as far as I got…


  48. Hi Pam, Lewis, and DJ,

    Hope you are all well. The editor has come down a bit sick because of all of the smoke of the past few days (maybe it is a coincidence – who knows). Unfortunately, I had to cut things short tonight, but I did get a chance to write for tomorrows blog.

    Lewis – The electric chainsaw is pretty exciting because I’m really trying hard to reduce fuel usage with the firewood job. And at the moment, electricity is fairly plentiful and readily available from the solar power. I understand that long term this may not be the case, but for today. It is really easy to go feral and just use fossil fuels to subsidise activities here, and I have to use my brain in order to wean myself off those easy options – plus set the place up so that it becomes easier for me as I get older. There’s no getting around that side of the equation.

    Corn ethanol! Very funny, I would only ever use a still for good and not for evil. A mate that has a still tells me that one batch requires about 70L of water (20 gallons) in the cooling process… It was meant to rain here tonight, and I noted that the forecast has radically altered again. Not good. It is very dry here at the moment.

    Yeah, they did have chainsaws back in those days. They most certainly weren’t electric and from all accounts, they used to seriously vibrate with the small motor. We’ve come a long way with chainsaws since those days. The old bloke that took me on the two day chainsaw course scared the daylights out of us with stories of old chainsaws from forestry work back in the day. Just to ensure that we didn’t think that he was kidding around, he brought along some photos. Scary! What no body in the lake yet? Might have to do something about that!!! Hehe!

    Years ago I bloke I knew told me that he never wanted to compromise with anyone else. It seemed like an extraordinary ideal to me, but who knows what was going on his head? That is probably taking the allowance discussion to the whole next level.

    Better run and attend to the sick editor.

    Will speak tomorrow.



  49. Yo, Chris – Speedy recovery to The Editor. May it only be a 24 hour bug.

    Setting the place up for when you get older. Well, looking at this place, apparently all you have to do is install “grab bars”, everywhere. Given all your terraces, you’ll have to install lots of these ….

    Looks like it might be fun to whip around the corners! Hmm. Another use for all those solar energy excesses.

    “Forecast has radically altered.” Hate it when that happens. Always feel like I’ve suffered whip lash. Who can I sue?

    It’s Easter morn. Rather quiet around the old Institution, but I guess The Ladies are going to have a big feed, later. There will probably be psalm singing. I’ll take a pass. Wander down to the Club and gas with my friend, Julia.

    So, whence the Easter Bunny? According to a story I read last night, it had to do with hares and a little bird called a lapwing. Funny how that happened. I was skimming through a book called “The Angry Chef’s Guide to Spotting Bullsh*t in the World of Food” (Warner, 2018). He used the story to illustrate human nature that sees correlation (hares and nests of eggs) as causation. Rather than the lap wing bird, which does a runner when humans show up. Interesting that I’d run across that story, on Easter eve. Timing is everything :-). Lew

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