Out of mind out of sight

INTERMISSION: We now take a break from our unscheduled break to bring you an important message from our sole sponsor: The biosphere of planet Earth.

Last year a friend loaned me a first edition copy of the 1972 book: “The Limits to Growth”. Of course the copy had to be a paperback edition, and whilst time had been kind to the book, it was nonetheless a paperback book, and 46 years old to boot. As a fearless reader, I plunged nose first into the text, but I was perpetually frightened that I’d spill coffee, or that the crumbs of a particularly tasty muffin would be smeared over the ageing pages.

Fortunately, I was very careful, or I merely failed to notice the damage that I’d caused to the book, and the first edition copy was eventually returned to its owner. The text contained in the book was a very objective and dispassionate assessment of the state of our civilisation, and as such it has attracted more than its fair share of criticism. But I note that despite the many criticisms, the easy to read text has some startling conclusions. And further, the ‘business as usual’ models graphed by the interaction of pollution, population growth, industrial output, food production and food per capita, have tracked alarmingly close to reality, despite the intervening years.

Early last year at the time that I was enjoying numerous coffees and muffins (served in and on washable ceramic cups and plates) whilst reading the first edition copy of ‘The Limits to Growth”, our trade partners in China decided to no longer take Australia’s plastic waste. The grounds given for this refusal is that our recycling waste was too contaminated with other products. It is a fair call too, because in Australia household materials for recycling are all dumped in a single bin. Someone, somewhere has to then sort out all different materials into various waste streams. And it isn’t a pretty job.

Pollution is a strange topic because most people these days tend to think of pollution as a gas: Carbon Dioxide (or Carbon as some people may call it). There sure is a lot of Carbon Dioxide getting released into the atmosphere these days, but that’s just peanuts compared to all the other pollutants getting dumped into the environment. It sure is a toxic load, and another of the fun pollutants is our plastic waste which China is now no longer taking. Well they’re not alone in not wanting the plastic waste because: SKM Recycling tells Victorian councils it will stop taking rubbish; waste now headed to landfill.

It turns out that in the state I live, the company apparently collects 400,000 tonnes of recyclables every year, and that is only a part of the states recyclable materials. The volume is an extraordinary amount of materials and it looks like it might be heading to landfill pretty soon. A little voice at the back of my mind is yelling: “Hope you guys have got some spare landfill space”. I do know that there is no landfill facility in my own local council area as they send stuff elsewhere.

I have elected to have no garbage service here. A truck does go past the house once per week, but we wanted no part of that story. Instead we separate out the materials that can actually be recycled and then take them to where they can be recycled. Anything else that can be composted or otherwise returned into the soils, is. There is little waste here. But even so, there is still waste.

Despite producing very little waste, we occasionally horrify guests. Years ago a mate and his wife were visiting when they happened to note an upside down timber table on top of a fire pile with its legs sticking forlornly up in the air. The table had been unceremoniously dumped upon a bed of forest materials and was waiting to be burned off. There was a lot of moral judgement about the fate of the table, and because the guests felt so strongly about our treatment of the table, we offered it to them as a gift. The offer was rebuffed.

Long term readers will know that the editor and I have carefully restored many a table (see The Table Bunch ). And most of those tables were obtained for very little mad cash. One of the tables in particular would have been custom made locally and cost the former owners many thousands of dollars, and yet they parted company with it for about $100. The deep walnut stain may have had something to do with the lack of appeal for that table, but we sanded it back to bare timber and it is now a truly beautiful timber table.

The table on the fire pile was not a beautiful timber table and the years had not been kind to it. We originally picked it up during hard rubbish in our former inner city area. Hard rubbish is the spectacle where residents in well to do suburbs chuck out their excess stuff onto the kerbside and the local council picks it up and disposes of it. Canny people (including us) scour though the ‘stuff’ in the dark hours of the night and remove the gems. And someone had chucked out the sad timber table.

For many years we used the table as a potting table at the farm, however the combination of water, soil and weather was the final straw for the table which was barely holding together by the time we decided to burn it off.

Unlike the well to do suburbs, up here in the deep dark forest there is no such thing as ‘hard rubbish’. If I was to chuck the table onto the street – and some sneaky folks have dumped rubbish on the street at night – then I’d never hear the end of the fuss that the locals would make. The neighbours would still be talking about it in three decades time! No, it is far more sensible to burn off the timber table and at least get the ashes into the soil. And ash just so happens to be a very good fertiliser.

But some folks are pretty judgemental of such acts. However I suspect that the oh so civilised systems which they enjoy that takes their stuff out of sight and out of mind, are no longer working too well.

A storm rolls in from the direction of the Southern Ocean

Who doesn’t love a good storm? And I really appreciate the rain that these regular winter storms are bringing. The water tanks are now mostly full which is pleasing. Full water tanks are a genuinely comforting thing, much like having a shed full of firewood or money in the bank.

Despite the rain, we were still able to spend a day continuing excavations on the two new garden terraces. I estimate that there are about three to four days further digging before we can begin fencing and planting the two new terraces.

Another day of digging was done on the two new garden terraces

Observant readers will note that in the above photo on either side of me there are two large rocks. Both of those rocks form a natural end point to this lower terrace. We intend to have a path leading away from this lower terrace (which would be behind me in the above photo). The gap between these two large rocks was a bit narrow, and so the rock on the uphill side had to be drilled with many holes and then broken with the electric jackhammer. That work took a few hours but eventually parts of the rock broke away.

About one foot of the length of this large rock was broken off

The boundary of the other end of the lower terrace also became clear because we unearthed a shelf of rock that is even larger than the Moby (body) rock. If you can’t break the rock up or otherwise hide it, it is best to use the rock to anchor a set of concrete stairs leading up to the higher terrace. The first concrete stair step was poured on Sunday.

A concrete step is protected from Ollie the Australian cattle dog who wants nothing more than to leave his imprint in the wet cement

And it wouldn’t be Fernglade Farm if we hadn’t unearthed yet another large rock during the day’s excavations:

Yet another large rock was unearthed during the excavations this week

A trailer load of the local crushed rock with lime was brought back to the farm this week. The path on the lower terrace has begun to be covered by a layer of this material. It makes for an excellent all weather surface.

A layer of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime is used to produce an all weather surface for the path at one end of the new lower terrace. Toothy is uncertain.

The recent excavations have produced a rock bonanza! There are so many rocks and they’re all useful. The smaller to mid sized rocks are used to fill steel rock gabion cages, and so another cage was filled with rocks and sewn shut:

Another steel rock gabion cage was filled with rocks and sewn shut

The upper and lower rock gabion cages in the photo above are the same size, however we have deliberately offset the cages so that the top cage sits back into the soil slightly. To ensure that the rear of the base of the upper rock gabion cage is stable, we bed the cage down on a surface of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime.

A bed of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime ensures that the upper rock gabion cage sits firmly

There are a lot of rock gabion cages in place now and they retain the soil on the terrace that holds the potato beds.

There are a lot of rock gabion cages in place now. That is a lot of rocks.  They rock.

The rocks on the uphill side of the potato terrace were recently replaced with much larger rocks. The original and much smaller rocks allowed soil from the garden bed to wash onto the potato terrace during very heavy rain.

Some of the rocks retaining the soil on the garden bed above the potato terrace have been replaced with much larger rocks

Having access to so many rocks has meant that all sorts of projects have been able to be undertaken. Many of the rocks in the courtyard behind the house were also replaced with much larger rocks this week. We are also making the courtyard slightly wider.

The courtyard behind the house has been made slightly wider and many of the rocks used in the rock wall were replaced with much larger rocks

That sure was a lot of work this week! Onto the flowers:

The flowers of blue rosemary compliments the blue skies
Lavender continues to bloom in the mild winter weather
Aromatic geraniums produce huge quantities of flowers which the honey eaters enjoy
Late winter is here because the Hellebore’s are beginning to produce winter flowers

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 460.2mm (18.1 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 441.6mm (17.4 inches).

70 thoughts on “Out of mind out of sight”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    The problem of garbage and ownership matters is not confined to your country, as it is quite a widespread and global, err, idea. Some interesting pharmaceutical manufacturing produces some interesting chemicals that appear to have been turning up all over the place down here of late. Recently a huge stash was allegedly found buried on a remote farm, but unfortunately located next to the towns ground water supplies. There was no suggestion of leakage so far, but removing the barrels would be a complicated job. Imagine getting the phone call for the cleanup job, ‘we’ve got a job for you but you have to be both careful and discreet’… Best not to be involved seems like the easiest answer, unless of course you have no option. The words ‘rogue operator’ were thrown around in the article and it seemed an interesting choice of words. Anyway looking for a ‘brightside’ at least some folks have recalled how to manufacture something or other!

    Mate, I had the same realisation with grades. Give them what they ask for and keep your opinions to yourself. Exactly, if that is the way they want it played. I can almost hear in the back of my mind the drill sergeant yelling at the recruits (students): “You’re not paid to think soldier!” And it is possibly a more true statement than it first appears to be. On the other hand whilst the education system does not go out of its way to promote the facility of independent thoughts, if a person can see that that is the desired state of response, have they just had an independent thought? I’m curious as to your opinion on this matter?

    Oh yeah, your weather conditions are certainly sub fluffy optimal for baking in the kitchen. Of course, in the old days one used to have a kitchen either outside or in a separate building not connected to the house (a wise move given the fire risk). I keep an electric oven outside for baking fresh bread on hot summer days. I’m reasonably certain that the ancient Romans would have been impressed with the idea, but unimpressed at the tiny scale of the implementation. In the book series I’ve noticed that the consumption of food is mostly a communal activity, and I’m assuming that the preparation of food would have followed suit. Have I read too much into the brief mention of food in the Camulod series of books? Incidentally, the words ‘Artisan flour’ is making me salivate.

    Well who’d have thought it? Apparently your slang means: A fiery little person or being. Interestingly the Urban slang dictionary referred to the infamous James Cagney grapefruit scene, and I watched it and yeah he sure looked like a piece of work. But then the role of an actor is to channel an emotive state so as to tell a convincing story and they both did just that.

    The word ‘piss’ gets used in all sorts of contexts. Maybe a decade or two back I used to hear the term: ‘taking the piss’, which means to tell a tall story the truth of which is doubtful to the listeners. Sometimes during a small rain shower during a particularly dry period I go outside into the rain and challenge the weather Gods by proclaiming: “I piss bigger than this!” It’s a big call and has sometimes backfired with alarming results, but the rain in such seasons is a usually welcome respite regardless.

    Yeah, I’m really happy for my mates, and you know they had a vision with their place and just exercised their free will and took a path that I can’t honestly say that I’ve seen done elsewhere. It really is a special place that they’ve created. Thank you, I appreciate your compliment and it is high praise. My mates have suggested that whilst they were in the very early phase of their construction, we had given them inspiration. We live in a truly amazing time where a couple of hacks can have a go at producing something really different that works, but it is really hard for people to ‘let go’, of the narrative that they’ve absorbed from an early age.

    Hehe! Yeah, I’ve had days like that too! Hehe! Hey, we don’t have a pizza stone either, but do use a pizza cutting wheel (although a sharp knife will substitute just as well). We tried a few pizza stones, but kept breaking them in the wood oven and so eventually gave up and it didn’t seem to matter much, although we had to learn just why the Italian traditional pizza’s have such thin crusts – and then work out how to finish the crust in the electric oven on a steel pizza tray. Plus there is the constant temptation to put too much toppings on the pizza, most of which contains water and will end up making for a soggy base. Glad to hear that you still have half left, and that no teeth were broken in the consumption. Hehe! Will you reheat the other half in the oven or the microwave? This is a dare I say hotly (!) disputed point in this household as the editor can consume microwaved pizza, but alas I am weak in these matters…

    Hope the banana muffins were tasty? Yummo! And yeah, I too am feeling tired after reading about all that work.

    I’ve heard good things about the Hellboy series of films. And the editor was a fan of Sons of Anarchy, of which Ron Perlman played a part for many years, although I decided against watching the series just because I didn’t want to expose my brain to such imagery. Stranger Things is a story of my time, although I haven’t watched it, but have heard enough raving about it.

    Hope you don’t mind the intermission this week? It feels right somehow to go ‘old school’ because I remember the days when cinemas had an intermission and a Warner Brothers pre-film cartoon. It was a few years ago though. Where ever have the years gone?



  2. Hi Damo,

    Many thanks for the kind words. The shed is about 1,000m2 but most of the internal space is set aside for productive garden and animal housing and processing facilities. The accommodation space isn’t much bigger than here, although they have now added an internal and separate space for a cooking school. It is very aesthetic.

    I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on Eagles Brood. As I read the book I keep getting the eerie feeling that things may soon not turn out so well for the colony…

    Hope the travel is enjoyable.



  3. Hi DJ,

    Haha! God in the machine, or was it Deus pox machina? My Latin isn’t that good and I may have gotten the words wrong. 🙂 I hear you. I mean already the AI has determined the nature of your earlier comment, but what if AI decided that you and I were the problem here? Scary stuff, and I grew up watching films like the Terminator and Robo Cop, not to mention the psychopathic HAL in 2001. They might decide on a whim not to like us very much. Fortunately, AI no longer means what it once used to mean and we’re not in any immediate danger. Or are we?

    Well, you’re miles ahead of me in being able to calculate resistance to flow. Far out. I’d use a rule of thumb that says more or less if the water channel is so wide, then you probably need culvert drains that can handle a worse case scenario and then hope for the best! Of course, the people setting the budgets and the upper limits on the drain design may not live in the area and have to deal with the consequences. I note that you mentioned that the alternative route was a considerable distance. A bridge failed down this way a few years back during a flood event and the few people on the other side of the failed bridge had a long way to travel in order to get back into town.

    It rained 6mm here tonight and it wasn’t on the forecast or the rainfall forecast maps.

    Very funny! The joke is OK up until the incident. Speak softly lest ye tempt the fates! Hehe! Anyway if it happens, then who will be laughing? Probably neither of us as I will feel sympathetic pain.

    Me too. And even if you were to be the best at something, it is only ever for a short while before someone else comes along and trounces you. Interestingly too, I’ve noticed that people can have very good aptitude in some areas and not other areas of their lives. It is a fascinating subject. But yeah, some people are the whole next level, and there is a school of thought that suggests that they exist in order to inspire the rest of us mere mortals.

    Windy weather. Ouch! How are things going in your part of the world?



  4. Yo, Chris – I read your post, last night, and it’s interesting that I anticipated a couple of things, before I read your comment. While rummaging around in the garden, this morning.

    Here at the Institution, we have Michael. He’s a bit developmentally disabled, due to an accident, I think. Michael has a mania for collecting plastic bottles, for recycling (?). Just out of curiosity, I asked him, last night, what he did with them? Apparently, his brother and nephew haul them down to Oregon. Where, by law, they are paid $.10 a piece. Michael gets half of the money, for anything he collects. He was a bit hazy on what happens to the bottles.

    Susan Who Always Has a Better Idea, well, her hobby horse is cardboard. Though pretty much bound to an electric scooter, for the longest time, she loaded her car and took it … somewhere. Now we have a dedicated bin that goes out for collection, once a week. After that …

    Odd. Before I read your comment, I had decided to link to this …


    I’ve decided that that’s the maniacal hobby horse that I will ride. :-). Not that I have to do anything. Just get generally wound up. I think we, who are aware (dare I say, “woke?”) do what we can, each in our own small way. Not that I think it will make much difference. But, I suppose it holds off too much despair. That was an illuminating tale of the table. Someone should do something. (Just not them.)

    Who loves a good storm? Here! LOL. Last year I had to run down to the local hardware, in the middle of a windstorm, to buy rope to tie down the corn. This year, I am prepared.

    And you were worried about peak rocks. Be careful what you wish for? You got plenty of rocks, just not in the form you would have wished (small.)

    The lavender and rosemary, are as always, lovely. Cont.

  5. Chris,

    Good job with working WITH the large rocks. Moby rock was a hard teacher, yes?

    Toothy says that it is much easier on one’s paws to walk on damp clay than on freshly placed crushed rock.

    I’ve been enjoying the pictures of your rosemary. We had a large rosemary bush where I lived in Southern California when I was little, but I don’t think they can handle the winters here.

    Your Latin is much better than mine! I would tend to say, “A pox on you, you filthy wannabe deity artificially smart piece of $@#^!!!” Which pronouncement, of course, would mean that we are all in deep doo-doo once the raspberry jam principle took over.

    In the latest Toy Story movie, Buzz Lightyear was frantically pushing his own “speech” button to hear the prerecorded things the toy could say. Out of the phrases jumped “Open the pod bay door Hal!” I totally enjoyed the 2001 reference.

    I found that for most water flow problems, calculating resistance wasn’t worth the trouble. As you said, pick what seems to be a worst case scenario and design from there. Then I add 15% or so to the calculated culvert diameter for unforeseen issues. If no culverts are made to that size, get the next bigger one. It’s more costly in the short term, but I’ve never had that go wrong. Engineers don’t do that due to the upfront costs, but rebuilding a washed out road is much more expensive than constructing it properly to begin with.

    My dad told the story about when he was maybe 5 and his family lived far away from the nearest town. There was a huge thunderstorm and the one and only bridge to their (and several other) residences was washed out. So, no access for at least a week they were told. So the sheriff and the game warden broke out the megaphone and yelled across the flooding river at my grandfather: “Tom, don’t let people go hungry. It ain’t deer season, but we sure as heck can’t get over there to monitor what yer doing, so keep everyone fed!” Nobody went hungry, or so the story goes.

    So far, we haven’t had any of those excruciatingly hot days near 40C That has helped the fire fighters. The local “Graham Complex” is pretty much over and out. There are a few larger ones in the Yakima area. Fortunately, the winds have died down and we haven’t had to battle smoke here yet. The past 2 nights have gotten to about 13C, which allowed me to cool the house with fans blowing air out the windows rather than using the AC. The house was 18C this morning.

    Here’s the fire map and info I use. The “Large Fire Map” is pretty neat and you can zoom in. This site is for fires in Oregon and Washington. https://gacc.nifc.gov/nwcc/information/fire_info.aspx

    I guess about a week ago one of the windmill towers in Central Washington caught fire and all of its plastic parts melted down and splattered on the sagebrush and dried cheatgrass. That burned several thousand acres.


  6. Cont. Lots of people have that independent thought. It’s when they find each other, that things get dangerous. Governments and organizations, know this.

    Artisan is just a fancy name to slap on a kind of bread flour. Luckily, Bob’s Red Mill doesn’t slap a premium price on it. I’m pretty sure the 16″ pan I used was steel. Picked it up somewhere along the way, free. After the pizza, it did double duty, freezing the blueberries before bagging. Instead of a stone, I think I’ll watch the op-shops for a couple of smaller steel pizza pans. I’m afraid I fall on the side of the Editor. I’ve been known to eat cold pizza for breakfast! :-). Yum! But I’ll probably give it a small turn in the nuker, before finishing it off. Maybe.

    I was also thinking about summer kitchens, this morning, before reading your comments. My mum and grandma used to mention them. I saw quit a few in Minnesota, when I was a wee small child. In Colonial times, any house of any size had the kitchen (usually? sometimes?) separated from the main house. Some of that was due to summer heat, some to reduce fire danger.

    How and what the Romans ate. There are books. There are websites. There is currently an exhibit at the Ashmolean Museum, at Oxford, called “Last Supper in Pompeii.” Looks interesting. The kitchens, even in the big houses in Pompeii, always looked cramped, to me. A couple of years ago, I read a novel about Apicius, who wrote the first major cookbook, we are aware of. (“Feast of Sorrows” (King, 2017). The Wikipedia entry is pretty interesting. There wasn’t a good description of the kitchen, but it felt more spacious, on the page. People working at long tables, etc.. But I think a lot of Roman food was “bought out.” Given the number of fast food places, even in a small town like Pompeii. And, I think, in house food prep was probably scattered around. Shelling peas under a shady porch or in the atrium.

    I never watched “Sons of Anarchy” or “Breaking Bad.” Or, the “Sopranos.” I’m currently dipping in and out of “I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution” (Nussbaum, 2019). It’s a collection of her articles, from over the years. There’s quit a few programs, that never caught my fancy. So far, I haven’t run across anything in her essays to change my mind.

    Was 82F (27.77C), yesterday. More of the same, today. Then a bit more cooling. The tomatoes I started from seed, outside, are beginning to flower. I guess I’ll get a crop, after all. Lew

  7. Hello Chris
    China has stopped taking our supposedly recyclable waste also. I do get a bit fed up with the subject. Just stop manufacturing the stuff! I grew up when there was no plastic and I don’t remember a problem. The little man should not be blamed when he can’t get something in any material but plastic.
    My pond has dried up again. It may rain tonight, here’s hoping.
    Has the news of the man stuck in rocks in Norfolk reached your country? The tide came in up to his neck and rescue services had to hold his head up and give him breathing aids. He was in the sea for about 3 hours (though I have heard many different accounts). This justifies my statement that the rocks on the beach here are dangerous, it would be so easy to get a foot stuck.


  8. Hi Chris and Lew,

    Glad the book plan is sorted – I have got a lot of reading done on Shogun and think I can safely predict a start on Eagles Brood next week. With fair winds I might even catch up before you get too far into book four.

    I feel it necessary to wade into the re-heated pizza debate. Cold pizza from the fridge is perfectly acceptable, and in some cases, usually pizzas with a thick base and excess topping, actually superior. However, a proper Italian style thin crust (preferably wood fired) generally does not fare too well I find. However I will still happily eat it cold. Thus, the debate is now clearly settled 🙂


  9. Hi Chris,

    I have heard from others that the food in Peru and other S. American countries is very good (speaking of which, we had empanadas for dinner – yum!). However, I would say, unfortunately, traditional Costa Rican cuisine, is ummm, more hearty than delicious. Think rice and beans, some meat and vegetables. Good stuff in its own way, but not what gastronomical journeys are made from 🙂

    We saw another bird on our list today, the Scarlet Macaw. Used to be critically threatened (it was quipped that more Macaws were in New York than all of Costa Rica) but now reasonably common if you visit the right places. We watched 4 pairs eat nuts for half an hour in some jungle up against the beach before they flew away. Such brilliant colours, photos were taken!

    Speaking of photos, you might be surprised to learn that 35mm analog film was overtaken by digital some time ago. There are many caveats, but the summary seems to be that 9-12megapixel sensors will outperform most 35mm films. And if you go over 200-400ISO there is no contest at all, digital will wipe the floor. You can jump down the rabbit hole here:

    I enjoyed your story of the table and its well commented demise. There seems to be a trend of clueless comments from visitors to your house, maybe you could prepare a little questionnaire for potential visitors to filter out the virtue signalling riff-raff 🙂

    Like you and the editor, Mrs Damo and I have also scored many a furniture piece or knick-knack from “kerbside pickups”. Several pieces in our current house (which you may recall we moved into 6 months ago) came from neighbours throw outs in the weeks after we moved in. So much more satisfying then buying a piece new, although occasionally that is still sometimes required.


  10. Hi Chris,

    The Limits to Growth is as devastating as advertised.

    My recent sloppy fitting to a few curves with current data suggests we are running slightly quicker than the standard model run (Figure 35) and somewhat slower than the world model with natural resources doubled (Figure 36). Continue to grow according to Figure 35 and resource constraints checks population growth. Continue to grow by adding more energy resources to the mix and pollution poisons population growth according to the Figure 36 run.

    Now here is my million tonnes of plastic question: I considered “renewables” were part of the natural (business as usual) decline in resources as their thermodynamics do not match (or even come close to) those of conventional sources, and it is a smoothing transition to a lower energy density (Figure 35). But perhaps I was being too optimistic and was underestimating the capacity of renewables (not to mention other “alternative” sources), meaning these together may be capable of enforcing the conditions of Figure 36, which is a far more brutal collapse? If your local results with photovoltaics scale industrially (intermittent supply, highly constrained), Figure 35 prevails, if not…

    “The overall behavior mode in figure 36—growth and collapse—is very similar to that in the standard run. In this case the primary force that stops growth is a sudden increase in the level of pollution, caused by an overloading of the natural absorptive capacity of the environment. The death rate rises abruptly from pollution and from lack of food. At the same time resources are severely depleted, in spite of the doubled amount available, simply because a few more years of exponential growth in industry are sufficient to consume those extra resources.” — pg 126–127

  11. Hi Inge,

    No worries, we can safely put the subject into the boring but important category then. Hehe! I get what you mean though, and am just mucking around. When I was a young kid there was very little waste anywhere and the trash bins were tiny little things unlike the behemoths that invade the streets and roadsides nowadays. The waste today is a cultural construct and we do it because we can, and I have seen our society do much better though but it was in the far distant past. However, you know, the problem will resolve itself. The main point was that ‘The Limits to Growth’ study indicated that we were very capable of fouling our own nest. Have you ever read the study? Are you enjoying any books of late?

    Did you end up getting the rain?

    What a nightmare the guy went through, and yes absolutely we do have to be careful. The news never made it here, but drownings are surprisingly common down here and so they rarely get reported unless it is multiple people or really unpleasant circumstances. Certainly more people drown by far than get taken by sharks, but you’ll always hear about the shark incidents.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks and I applaud your good common sense that you were able to anticipate many of the points of the essay. The report has been around for a very long time and it is extraordinarily and uncannily close to the current circumstances. If I read the graphs correctly at the time, I note that the maximum population was about 8 billion and dropped away from the peak within a short period of time of reaching it. The graph looked a lot like the Hubbard curve. Of course, I may well be repeating myself which is why you were able to anticipate things? 🙂

    Michael may well be onto something. That happens here along the border towns because some rubbish flows into New South Wales which has a deposit refund scheme, whereas Victoria doesn’t. I saw an article a few weeks ago about how retailers north of the border (New South Wales) have to take a hit to their margins because the deposit refund scheme is funded through the sale price of the goods in the first place (and south of the border is thus cheaper and north they take the rubbish and pay cash). My opinion on the matter is that it is a bit dysfunctional. When I was a kid they had deposit return schemes for packaging and me and my mates picked up every scrap of rubbish that provided hard cash. Aluminium cans were the best of the lot.

    Susan perhaps needs to transfer her efforts into aluminium cans as they’re lighter than cardboard! 🙂

    But yeah, where is this stuff all going? An interesting question! Cardboard is pretty recyclable as is aluminium cans. Glass was being sent to landfill the last time I checked, but back in the day bottles used to be washed and re-used.

    Well, everyone is entitled to a hobby horse, and yours is a goodie. You didn’t just dare say it, you actually said it!!!! 🙂 Well, you know as I said, whilst everyone seems to be fixated on Carbon Dioxide they forget about all the other unpleasant things floating around the environment. I read an article about a year or two back written by a specialist who worked in the area of In Vitro Fertilisation Technology and he made a rather accurate but somewhat disparaging remark about the males of the species and compared them unflatteringly to a failing bull who’d be otherwise taken down the back paddock, and well, his suggestion sounded all very unpleasant and final. There are negative feedbacks to pollution, unintended consequences and upper limits to our industrial activities. You may have noticed that I grow a lot of my own produce for consumption here. Mind you, I had a very yummy Ramen tonight and the place is usually packed so I have never eaten there before (crowds, you get it). But tonight it quietened down and we grabbed a table and just as we finished (Chicken, Corn and Vegetable Ramen – not bad at all) the crowds poured in and we skedaddled after paying. Oh, anyway someone should do something about the hormones in the environment, just like the table! The bloke and his wife had a kid and they disappeared into family life and I haven’t seen them for years.

    The storm was great and the air is always crispy clean and full of promise after a big storm. I might try your tying up idea with the corn this year, the corn plants consume the soil at an alarming rate so it hardly surprises me when they lodge.

    Pah! Irving Fisher said something very astute about Peak Rocks, and he knew a thing or two. I loved John Kenneth Galbraith’s book The crash of 1929. It was as entertaining as the Big Short.

    Thank you and we may plant more lavender too. I’ve been trying to convince the editor to plant hanging rosemary down the faces of the excavated terraces. I might try some and see what it looks like growing between the lavender.

    A lot of energy goes into training people not to think clearly, so you’re probably right. But the thing I wonder is do the governments and corporations fall for their own spell? What do you reckon about that? I feel that it is possible as it is kind of like the dealer who becomes a user and the whole lurid business model collapses under a weight of incoherence.

    Lewis (and Damo) I have strong reservations about microwaved pizza. Tes’ not natural. 😉

    Gotta run the mid week hiatus happened early this week…



  13. Hello again
    I haven’t read ‘Limits to growth’ but have just checked it out on Wikipedia, interesting.
    Some rain arrived this morning plus a great deal of wind. I have just been outside tying up tomato plants.
    Deprived of your story, I am reading ‘Travel light’ by Naomi Mitchison. Son asked whether it was a children’s book. Sort of but less so as the story progresses though it starts with a little girl. There are dragon hoards and I love the statement in it ‘economics, always an important part of dragon history’. The story moves on and is more complex than it may appear on the surface.


  14. & yet again
    Son has just been complaining that rats gnaw the string off his straw bales. He is curious as to whether this is accidental or whether they know that it will cause the bales to fall apart. He goes for accidental, I go for intelligence.


  15. Yo, Chris – Here’s another flaming wind generator. Didn’t say where it was. But this one is far more spectacular! Flying, flaming wreckage. Less than one minute.


    Naaaw. Had such thoughts about rubbish and recycling, long before I stumbled on your blog. And, I recycled many an aluminum can, in my day. Two garbage bags full would recycle the next half rack of beer! :-). Our local dump has a pretty good set up for recycling things. There are huge bins for glass. Please sort by color :-).

    Ramen is pretty big, here. Especially the cheap “by the case” kind. Mainstay of college students and computer programmers, everywhere. I guess our crims in prisons have developed quit a cell cuisine, built around ramen. There’s even a cookbook. I used to like the cream chicken, variety. I’d add extra veg, cut the seasoning pack by half (the salt is over the top), and also use less water, than recommended. That way it still had a nice crunch. But, I’ve given that all up. It falls in the classification of “way to processed” these days. To my way of thinking. And eating.

    The Fernglade Farm elves and fairies must have heard you wishing for rocks. They granted your wish. And, are probably laughing their a____ off. One must be highly specific, when dealing with the little people. Of course, if you had wished for small rocks, you’d have probably ended up with banks of sand.

    So, where about’s are you in “Eagle’s Brood?” I finished the TV critics book. Gosh, there sure is a log of TV I haven’t even heard of. And plenty of stuff that didn’t catch my interest. And none of her reviews changes my mind. I see she has a lot of reviews at the New Yorker magazine, web site. I may have to graze through, and see if anything catches my fancy.

    I almost finished the pizza last night. And yes, I heated it up in the oven. Only one piece left :-(. On reflection, I really think my pizza pan must have come out of a commercial kitchen, somewhere. It has that “industrial” look. I hope I can find a couple of smaller ones, in the op-shops. Lew

  16. Hi Chris,

    A break from a break – nice. It sounds like that table got much more use than it would have if you hadn’t picked it up. Did you mention that to your judgmental friends?

    I’ve written about the recycling drives I’ve taken part in organized by the county (well our old county) environmental group. The group was started about 50 years ago. During the 90’s and early 2000’s they ran a full recycling center which supported a staff of four for the organization. They were so successful promoting recycling though that the county passed a ordinance requiring curbside recycling and eventually had to close their recycling center. Now we know that much of what is collected is ending up in the landfill. I always felt single stream recycling was a huge mistake. From what I understand a major reason China and other countries won’t take our recyclables as they are so contaminated with other stuff. Even though we moved only seven miles the county we’re in doesn’t require recycling so our waste hauler which is the same company doesn’t pick up any. We just do our best to keep our garbage to a minimum.

    People often leave furniture and other large items on the curbside if they’re on a street that gets a reasonable amount of traffic. Much of it does get picked up. Sometimes people will post that they have a free item on the street online.

    It wasn’t that long ago you were worried about rocks, wasn’t it?

    Doug and his friend didn’t have much luck fishing in Canada. I don’t think he’ll be making a trip like that anytime soon. The lake they were on was 2 feet higher than normal and it was quite warm for there – warmer than here in fact.

    Weather is very pleasant but we could use some rain. I’m back to watering. What I do have planted is coming in quite nicely.


  17. @Lew
    My brother, Marty, collected cans for his annual camping trip for some years. He rents a garage at his apartment complex for his stuff and projects (he isn’t able to drive). He had a big sign asking for cans to finance his trip and made quite a bit of money.
    I like your names for your fellow inmates. As far as Susan, well everyone needs something to do.


  18. Hi DJ,

    We’d been really lucky not to encounter a Moby rock before, but that part of the farm must have had a lava flow at some stage in the past as the area has channels of rock, and that is just how it is. But yeah, thanks, we’ve learned what we can handle – and what we can’t do. And perhaps more importantly: what to do with the monsters when we do find them. 🙂

    As you rightly guessed, Toothy is a sensible long haired dachshund, who as well as being careful where he puts his paws, is looking forward to enjoying some bone off cuts tomorrow.

    Where you in Southern California as a kid at some stage? Rosemary would love the heat and dry weather, but they also cope well with the humid cool winters here, but yeah they might not enjoy your very cold winters.

    Of course we are attempting to avoid the raspberry jam principle for that very reason. Dunno how you feel about things, but the world can be a very circular experience and there is truth in the whole Golden principle of: ‘do unto others’. Speaking of which, the tree dudes turned up today and I always provide them with work. I need the work done, they need the money, and so everyone is happy. It is not bad because the excavations of the terraces have been extensive and nature is not hanging around waiting for us to plant the roses some of which were bare rooted. I expect spring may be early this year.

    You have a kindred spirit here with your: ‘plus 15% rule of thumb’. Like it, and I too try to add a bit of extra just to increase the resiliency of the infrastructure here, but even so sometimes I just get it wrong… But then that’s learning the old school way isn’t it?

    Thanks for sharing the story, and yes in complicated situations people can band together and come up with neat solutions – although deer populations do have to be agreed upon in an area if people wish to harvest the resource over any period of time. What other way is there? The soils here aren’t that fertile and so there aren’t a lot of animals for people to eat in this mountain range, and yeah the forest is not set up so as to be abundant. It was once set up really well, but not so now.

    Glad to read that the wind has died back for the fires, and those sort of mornings are par for course for summer here. And the overnight low sounds almost perfect temperatures for sleeping.

    Thanks for the link to the fire map. Hey, Lewis linked to a utube video of a wind generator self destructing. It was impressive to watch and you wouldn’t want to have been near to the blades when they crashed to the ground… Ouch! Incoming…



  19. Hi Damo,

    Like the book plan and I’ll be interested in hearing your thoughts on the book when you get around to reading it. Ha! If I was a betting man (which I’m not, especially after being edjacated in advanced statistics 1 and 2 and scoring High Distinctions in both) I’d wager that you’ll finish ‘Eagles Brood’ before I do. Possibly I was a tortoise in a past life! 😉 But seriously, Shogun was a great book.

    You may breezily suggest that the great cold pizza debate of 2019 has been settled by your clever sophistry however, I am not so easily fooled. Your arguments sound rather similar to the editor’s arguments in this most important matter, and I’m yet to be convinced of the truth of the statements. I tend to feel that the facts speak for themselves, and the final products of err, ‘breakfast pizza’ or even the ‘microwaved pizza’s of the latter day reheating brigade’ are somehow not quite right. Hehe!

    Empanadas are similar to a pasty or am I mistaken? They sound tasty, and dare I suggest: better than a reheated pizza… 🙂 Tasted the winner of the 2019 pie of the year recipient today and it was pretty good. All in a day’s work I guess. It is a tough life, but someone has to do it. The food in Peru was pretty good and sort of like how you described it but perhaps with more meat and vegetables. Costa Rica may not have as much grazing land thus the different diet. Rice and beans and vegetables sound’s great to my ears. I’m sure that I mentioned to you the infamous: Rice with (unidentified) Meat meal that I was proffered in Laos? All the other usual suspects like fish, beef, chicken and pork were accounted for on the menu. Whatever was the meat product? Sometimes you just have to live with mysteries…

    I look forward to seeing the photos.

    No worries at all about the 35mm versus digital. I have no dog in that fight. My trusty old Pentax K-r has 12 megapixel but I set it to 6 megapixel standard as the hard drives can fill up remarkably quickly. Incidentally, the web images here are shrunk to 1024×768 so as to save disk space on the server. The server also rapidly fills up and is not a free service as I pay for this website.

    As you well know, I am nothing if not polite, and virtue signalling riff-raff (love the term!) get to spout nonsense and I see little upside to engaging them with their well formed beliefs. I just don’t need the aggro, and anyway time will sort out who is right and who is wrong. For the record, not all guests indulge in virtue signalling, and I count you among those fine upstanding people.

    Exactly! If people no longer want their stuff and it can be repaired or repurposed back to an entirely new dimension of goodness, then who are we to stop them? But yeah, you have to walk in both worlds and pick and choose what aspects suit you. A very astute observation on your part.



  20. Hi crowandsheep,

    I feel that your last paragraph summed up the situation. It has been about a year and a half since I read the report, so I defer to your analysis in relation to the details, but from a big picture perspective the last paragraph sort of nailed it.

    Humans have always had access to renewable technology and energies. Plants capture and concentrate the energy of the sun (2%, I believe). And other processes further concentrate that captured energy like: cattle or firewood, just for two examples. And the sun in combination with the biosphere produces a surplus, it just isn’t a big enough annual surplus to produce the sort of lifestyles that are considered the norm in first world countries on any sort of long term footing.

    A discussion of the report from the 30 year perspective can be found here: Donella Meadows Archives: A Synopsis: Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update

    Your comment tugged at my emotions.



  21. Hi Inge,

    If you get the chance, please convey my sense of awe in relation to the rats to your son. They’re really intelligent creatures, and like the chomping down upon the string so as to access the straw, they move into the firewood sheds during the winter and slowly strip the fibrous bark off the firewood and produce nice little toasty warm insulated nests. Of course, I’m no slouch either, and I use those high surface area nests that the rats have so kindly made and departed from, as kindling. I too go for the intelligence explanation.

    The Limits to Growth is an interesting book, but I was dismayed at the sheer objectivity taken by the authors in describing what is an alarming observation. I was much more impressed with the work of the author William R. Catton Jr. who wrote the outstanding book: Overshoot: The Ecological Basis of Revolutionary Change. As a sociologist he approached the same subject matter from a more realistic frame of reference. The person who loaned me The Limits to Growth book, also loaned me a copy of Overshoot. The person had not read Overshoot, and I suggested that they read the book when they were in a good place from a mental health perspective. I read the book once, and then just to be entirely sure that I had not misunderstood the book, I read it again immediately afterwards. It is a sobering read. Have you read this book?

    Very funny. 🙂 The Travel light by Naomi Mitchison, book sounds excellent and a copy is wending its way down to here. Thanks for the referral. Well I for one feel that Smaug the Dragon should be of concern to economists because he is a dead end – but try telling them that. We’ll talk more about the book once I’ve waded through the Camulod series as well as Earth Abides. I do have to work in the paid world and also on the farm. Hehe!



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the video of the epic destruction and I note that it would be very unpleasant to be near to there on that day. Did you notice the flaming turbine blades falling to the ground? Wind turbines are funny critters because they have to be connected to an electrical ‘load’. The electrical load stops the blades from spinning too fast and self-destructing. In crazy high winds the machines can be turned out of the path of the wind which also stops the blades spinning too fast and producing the magic smoke (not the sort of magic smoke that HR Puffin Stuff may have possibly been describing). When I installed a wind turbine here, I added a device that is known as a ‘dump load’ which is basically a device which converts electrical energy into heat (like a fan heater). Huge wind turbines use the electrical grid to act like a load which slows the blades down. However when the grid fails, the load disappears and the blades can really put some speed on (not good). I’ve noticed over in South Australia where they have a lot of installed wind turbines, they’ve also installed a huge battery which may have the benefit of providing ‘load’ if and when the grid fails. The battery is pretty big, but even so it is just peanuts compared to the grid.

    Fast does the turbine blade spin with no resistance. Mmmm, yes it does. Hot it gets. Self-destruct it will. (a dodgy Yoda maxim which I only just coined).

    Glad to hear that glass is still recycled there. The last time I went to the tip with glass waste, they directed me to include it in the landfill area. My understanding is that plate glass from windows can’t be included with glass from glassware. Nowadays I break the material up and include it as fill in the soil behind the steel rock gabions. That’ll give the archaeologists something to consider in a few millennia! Hehe! I’ve noticed that in archaeological digs in the city, the only ceramic items unearthed were broken ones which tends to indicate where things were at. When I go to the tip shop I note that if a person wanted complete ceramic tiles that may have been surplus to needs, then they are there to be had for a song.

    As a funny side story a few years ago I heard a radio segment that asked listeners to call in and talk about the stuff they’d gotten for free. Some bloke rang in and said that he’d mostly constructed his house from left overs and surplus materials that he’d scavenged from the building sites where he worked. I applaud such principles.

    Oh Lewis, you so understood where the Ramen story was headed. I woke up in the middle of the night feeling very unusual and I put my discomfit down to the possible huge volume of salts in the soup that I had consumed only a few hours earlier. And it was the creamy chicken variety that I enjoyed too. It was good, but alas I am not worthy… Do other people suffer for their consumption? How could it be such a popular establishment whilst producing that particular unpleasant side effect? I just don’t get it at all.

    The elder ones are watching and waiting for their moment in the sun again. Having read a bit of lore, I tend to avoid them like the plague, but sometimes it is worthwhile understanding that the plague may indeed come to you. The large rocks are quite difficult and hard on the body to move and no doubt they are laughing at me. Anyway, they owe me, I leave water out for them during drought periods. 😉

    Eagles Brood. Hmm, I’m about halfway through where Merlyn and Uther have convinced Picus that Lot is on the move and will very shortly attack Camulod. The poison sounds an awful lot like Monkshood of which we spoke about a while back. Rotten stuff and I expect Lot will enjoy no quarter from the Camulod troops, but experience a lot (!) of damage. The spies he sent back with Uther seem like a rather disreputable and ill favoured lot (!). Are you finished with the book?

    I read an article the other day which suggest that free to air TV is having something of a financial crisis due to the interweb streaming services. The article then went on to suggest that the free to air TV folks have been experimenting heavily with ‘reality TV’ due to the cheaper production costs, and the supply of drama has been taken over by the streaming folks.

    Have you ever visited a hospitality trade, retail store? Fun places full of all sorts of interesting items for the kitchen. Sorry, I may have led you into temptation there, and apologies if I have. Anyway, we picked up our pizza trays and cutter at such a place, and yeah like yours they’re industrial which is just what you need for such a delicacy. Although, for the record I am very uncomfortable with the abomination that is microwave reheated pizza (top work on using the proper oven). I now know what it feels like to be in the minority on a major and contentious issue, but you know standards must be maintained. Damo is incorrigible on this subject! Hehe!

    Hey, I’ve lived in houses that had a separate kitchen, however at some point in the past the owners had connected up the outdoor kitchen with the main building. That place the original owners had used packing crates in the walls and I was amazed that the building had survived the test of time. And not to mention one old house had an outdoor and separate building for the bathroom – winters were fascinating experiences going from the house to the bathroom, and the toilet was way down the back of the yard up against the old cobblestone laneway. Ah, fun times…

    What a synopsis the book has! Far out. Roman intrigue, a lust for power and a chef. I’d heard accounts of Pompeii and just how many fast food places it was blessed with, but had not understood the significance.

    I’ve not watched those series either. Although I did begin watching ‘Breaking Bad’, but the decisions the characters made ran counter to my personal philosophy because every step in the story produced escalation and unintended consequences. After a while I decided that I didn’t need the imagery or stories in my head because they were antithetical to my own internal decision making processes, but mostly it just wasn’t entertaining because of that.

    It is certainly not too late at all for a tomato crop. They produce fruit at a very rapid rate, you just might not get any until late August which is not far off what I usually enjoy (my February).

    Went to a nearby towns bakery that won the best pie of 2019 (continent wide) and it was a tasty pie. It was a pork based recipe derived from the bakers Cambodian family recipe. They did a good sausage roll too which I actually liked better. You rarely see pork pie sold down here. Anyway, the sun shone and the air was very crisp and cold. All up it was a nice day.

    The tree dudes turned up earlier and I have a very long term arrangement with them, so I paid them to do some work for me felling a dangerous dead tree which was precariously hanging in the canopy of another much larger tree. Anyway, I appreciate their work as I am unable to do that task safely and you never really know when such dead trees are wont to fall over. A few years ago I had a very near miss and only a few moments notice of a large tree falling near to where I was standing. It was a close call.



  23. Hi Margaret,

    Well, I’m embarrassed to admit that back in the late 90’s when we travelled around Australia with a tent and a small hatchback car, we did indeed take a brief and very short holiday from the travel (stopped on an island off the coast. It was cheesy but compared to a tent and sleeping bags, it was heaven). That was where the idea came from (and thanks for noticing my play upon words). Travelling around and roughing it so as to keep things done on the cheap is quite a challenge and can sometimes be not that relaxing.

    However, there was also the minor issue of not having enough physical time with which to continue the fictional story last week. I just worked too hard last week and ran out of time, and the recycling article caught my eye due to the sheer strangeness of the situation. I have plans in place to continue the story this week and at this stage I believe I have the time with which to do so. I reckon it takes me about twice as long to write fiction.

    You know, I’d be curious as to your opinion, but I sometimes know people pretty well and I can gauge their reactions to me correcting their belief systems, and well I consider the matter and just go off and do something else. You’ve seen things with recyclable materials, and have done far better than most people could hope to achieve, I dunno, it is just hard to get through to people when they don’t want to hear it and it involves inconvenience for them.

    I’m with you, the single stream recycling was a huge mistake. I have dwelt upon the subject and believe that we may have chosen such a system (not every country has done so) because it was cheap and convenient. The problem is, now that it is no longer possible, I don’t see anyone suggesting that we could do otherwise. It might be that we can purchase the waste, but we can’t afford to deal with the waste. I really don’t understand any of it. Look at the trash can that Oscar the Grouch lived in – the thing is tiny compared to the monster plastic bins people expect to be picked up these days.

    Actually a lot of the ‘free to a good home’ stuff gets picked up down here too. If ever I have something to dispose of that has value, I tend to offer it as a $0.01 no reserve auction, and 99% of the times somebody wants it and is prepared to pay for the postage or come and pick it up.

    Oh no! Shhh. Hehe! Lest the powers that be decide that Peak Rocks is here yet again! 🙂

    The fishing in Canada didn’t sound that appealing. How is it warmer up in Canada? And 2 foot higher lake shores sounds very unpleasant, although there may have been a lot of snow melt this year (not as bad as Greenland – maybe).

    Good to hear about the produce. Summer can be like that here too. I’m still considering setting up a water timer system for one area of the farm. We have too much produce now to do the job reliably on a manual basis.



  24. Good afternoon (to be random as to time once more)

    Fascinating, pertinent and entertaining comments as ever, but I’ll keep my contribution to the ever-lively topic of Rat Intelligence.

    I am utterly convinced of their high mental powers and good sense, following one embarrassing incident.

    Breaking into a cupboard here which had various foodstuffs on plates they devoured the commercial stuff, but left my home cooking untouched – not a nibble!

    Can a human be more firmly put in his place?

    Could the verdict of ratkind be more damning?

    ‘No, not for us, are you kidding?!!! But as for this stuff, yum!’

    All the best


  25. Hi, Chris:

    First – congratulations to your shed friends. They have created something truly remarkable.

    We collect anything that can be recycled at our local recycling center – which is actually quite a lot of things – and sort it and taken it in about once a month. We couldn’t do that – or at least not as infrequently – if we didn’t have the storage place here at home for all that waste. We do use a once-a-week garbage collection service for the relatively small amount that can’t be recycled. All of our non-meat kitchen waste is composted, so that reduces the collection amount, also.

    We have taken in our fair share of hard rubbish. In fact, our neighbors know that if they put out something salvageable before garbage pick-up day we are the ones who have taken it. The best pickings are in town, though, in May when the University of Virginia students go home. What was that cartoon show with the family of little critters that scavenged stuff? Oh! Was it “The Wombles” or something like that?

    I really love your storm photos. In this one I see layers of mountains in the background. We finally – after more over-100F (38C) days – had a really good rain last night.

    So far, we have never encountered on our property the huge rocks that you run into. Thank goodness. But the hills still get me. Yesterday I picked a cantaloupe and set it down on what I thought was a flat spot. I then went off for something, but turned around to see it rolling WAY down the hill. It will never be the same . . .

    I am surprised that Ollie doesn’t crawl under there and leave a full-body imprint.

    Hi, Toothy!

    The rock gabions are a thing of beauty. So – precise. That particular shot looks so industrial.

    Lavender and rosemary are such beautiful flowers.


  26. @ Inge:

    Most days I tell myself the very same thing that you commented on: Why do I generally have no other choice but to buy things packed in plastic, and then I am suppose to feel guilty? I buy as little as possible, but still generate a great deal of non-compostable waste.

    Squirrels occasionally chew large holes in our plastic petrol cans. My son thinks they may like to sniff the gas and get high. It seems an odd thing to me, but maybe they really are making that choice.


  27. @ Lew:

    Hormone pollution – what a horrifying thought. It seems to be entirely out of the hands of individuals to do anything about it.


  28. @ Damo:

    How exciting that you are keeping a bird list! I lost my main one long ago, but I’ll bet that I could remember them all if I tried. One of my favorite things is bird-watching.


  29. Yo, Chris – Well, Grasshopper, you’re dodgy Yoda maxim is spot on.

    Most of the glass in the recycle bins was bottles and jars. Sorted by color. Quit pretty. I think part of the reason the single stream came about, is because The Public (them again) just couldn’t quit “get” sorting stuff.

    Well, lets see. Too much salt and you get high blood pressure and stroke out. But I think people build up tolerance to it. And, some, I think, are more sensitive, than others. We get more than enough, in our day to day lives. I can usually tell when I’ve run across something, that has a lot of salt in it. I get pretty thirsty and drink a lot of water.

    Well, no wonder. Your supposed to leave out milk, for the Little Folk. They’d probably also appreciate the occasional dram of whiskey. On holiday occasions. :-).

    Oh, I finished “Eagle’s Brood”, eons ago. The Roman’s had spies, among the northern tribes. There was even a name for them, but it escapes me, now. During the Great Conspiracy, in the mid 200s, they were either co-opted or killed, by the tribes. Hence, the surprise.

    Oh, years ago, I was in one of those commercial chefs retail stores. Portland had a pretty good one, as I remember. I get occasional catalogues from a chef’s supply company. One could quit loose control :-). There’s a cook’s gadget store, over in our factory outlet malls. They have some commercial grade stuff. But I’ll wait for the op-shop gods, to provide.

    Privies in winter. That’s what chamber pots, were for. They could be political statements, by the way. During our Revolution, the English had chamber pots with transfer prints of Ben Franklin, in the bottom. Of course, we had chamber pots with King George III, in ours. Quit pricey, these days.

    Yeah, now that my tomatoes are flowering, I’m breathing easy. Won’t be long and they’ll be throwing fruit. Looks like it’s going to be a bumper year, for my Hubbard squash. I keep seeing good sized nubbins, around, when I water. Last year I only got two. That’s not going to be the case, this year.

    I think it’s time to start capitalizing, Tree Dudes. :-). Give them the status they deserve, due to service and longevity.

    I understand that there’s an audio book of “Limits of Growth”, et all, with a soundtrack. Groans, gnashing of teeth, wails of anguish, etc. etc.. Now I’ll pull the other one. :-).

    I heard a report on NPR about the wild parrots of London. Here’s a short (and amusing) fact sheet. I think it’s interesting that it seems to be limited to only one species. In San Francisco (and, I think New York) they have multi species.

    Now here’s something to ponder. Centaurs have two rib cages. Never occurred to me. Isn’t nature interesting? Lew

  30. Hi Chris,

    Yep, Shogun is great. Just finished it last night and all I can say is James Clavell can write an epic story! The internet is telling me I should also read Musashi (written by a Japanese author in the 1930s), which picks up just after the last battle in Shogun, but told from the perspective of a samurai left for dead on the battlefield. No affordable ebook copies exist (I don’t want to pay more than a few $$$ for wishy-washy “e” versions), so will get something real from AbeBooks instead. I think your bet is safe though, at least based on your reading speed of the past few months 🙂

    Your decision to continue falsely depicting some sort of “controversy” in the great pizza debate says more about you than me. My advice is to listen to the wise words of the Editor and quietly accept pizza in whatever form it takes. After all, wasn’t it the great pizza philosopher, Socrates, who famously stated a cold pizza in the hand, is worth two reheated slices from the oven?

    Haha on your Laos food adventure. The translation was probably “bush meat”, which means whatever they happen to catch in the fields surrounding the village. In the villages, enthusiastic children would often shake carcasses at us as we drove past, no doubt sure that a proffered product gets more sales than not. We politely declined, although I did consume several animals of questionable origin in my year there.

    Speaking of Costa Rican cuisine, Mrs Damo and had a delightful casado with crumbed fish at a nearby waterfall today. The small side of pasta salad and a fried banana was a great touch and the spicy salsa I smeared on the fish topped it all off. Was definitely the best of the trip and shows that a little bit of skill in the kitchen can turn even a plain (if not hearty) meal into something very special.

    All good on the digital vs film. I only bought it up as I too was still of the mind that 35mm edged out digital, but was surprised to see it was surpassed long ago. It is easy to forget that so many of the settings on a digital camera, which we breezily flick between and experiment with in seconds, often required changes of film stock and had very real trade-offs in the analogue 35mm world.

    As Mrs Damo is quick to say, I often struggle to communicate anything, let alone virtue, so I might be safe on that point. But your comment is still reassuring 🙂 For my own case, in your position I would quickly tire of others telling me “how it should be done” and I would probably rudely grunt something incomprehensible and send them on their way.

    In other news, I see that Gruta Thurnberg is going to sail across the Atlantic so she can attend some climate action conferences. As you may all recall, I have some rather fatalistic expectations on how we end up dealing with greenhouse gasses and limits to growth, but I still find her stance (even if guided by well-meaning parents?) to be inspiring. God speed and fair winds I say!

    Tomorrow is our last day in Costa Rica, we must drive up the Pacific Coast to the capital, San Jose. Then mentally prepare ourselves for the 24 hour journey back home. Luckily, I have the prospect of work on Monday to take my mind off things 🙂


  31. Hi Pam,

    I bet you would put Mrs Damo and I to shame! I don’t have any log books for American birds yet, but we did get two national geographic log books for Australian birds (800+ species) from an op shop a couple years back for $1 each. Even better, the previous owners didn’t write a thing in them. After we got started on that (50 birds in a few weeks) we now try and find a few on most trips we do. For Costa Rica we really wanted to see the respledent quetzal, toucan and scarlet macaw. Everything else is a bonus, and we are now starting to get familiar with the calls and what trees different species prefer, but we leave tomorrow so not much chance of any others. I will put photos of our sightings on the blog in a few weeks if you are interested.

    I can spend hours watching birds, most of them are very cheeky and entertaining 🙂 earlier today we watched a short tailed hawk give itself a dust bath in the middle of a road. After a few minutes we drove slowly forward as it was blocking us. It lazily flew to a nearby tree, and cocked its head, checking us out. After a minute it found us wanting, gave an unsatisfied screech and flew off down the ridge.

    Have you ever looked into hawking? I have mixed feelings on it, but think it would be fascinating to hunt with a bird. From my understanding they all end up leaving their ‘owners’ anyway.


  32. @Xabier

    I don’t know what to say about your rat judgement incident. A humbling experience to be sure 🙂 They loved my freshly baked savoury muffins and I trapped many using it as bait! My advice would be to keep trying to seek their approval, self improvement is a constant process 🙂


  33. Chris,

    Oh yes, dealing with monsters is a learning experience.

    I lived in Whittier, California, until I was 7. That’s between Los Angeles and Disneyland, roughly. When I was 5, I ran inside in tears one day because I couldn’t breathe. Air quality. So dad decided to move. Plus, there was beginning to be a lot of meanness and extreme weirdness among the kids in our area. Dad was a 2 year college physics instructor, so did a lot of research into where to move and where jobs were opening. We took a long trip when I was 6 up the Pacific coast, where dad would apply for teaching positions. One place suggested looking into Spokane, so we stopped her on a whim and he got the job, effective a year later. So we arrived in Spokane on the last day of August, 1967, with the temperature 40C. Been here ever since.

    I miss the rosemary and a few other things. Back then Orange County still had a lot of orange groves and avocado orchards. They were all paved and concreted over by 1971. Very sad.

    I view everything as being cyclical. There appear to be cycles about which we know little or are unaware of, also. Like sunspots. Since we’ve only been able to observe them for a few hundred years, we have no idea what ALL of the cycles are and what is a “normal” level (if there is such a thing) for sunspots. Cycles seem to be part of everything. This linear view of time we’ve got gets us in a lot of hot water is my opinion.

    My experience is that the “do unto others” idea works most of the time. I don’t like to deal with a lot of people due to how I’m wired, but I’ve been told I do my customer service very well. To me it is easy to do it well: simply answer the question “how would I want to be treated if I were on the other side of this conversation?”

    Good on you for helping the tree dudes. A little bit of generosity helps everybody and goes much further than we can always observe first hand.

    I learned the 15% idea as a byproduct of dong “Fermi Problems” in physics classes. Allegedly, it was a teaching tool Enrico Fermi used. A classic would be “How many bricks would it take to build the Sears Tower in Chicago out of standard bricks?” So I had to research the dimensions of the Sears Tower, the dimensions of a standard brick, allow for 1/2 inch mortar between bricks, and start crunching numbers. The answer wasn’t as important as learning the thought process. Then it became obvious that if there were a drainage that needed a culvert for the outflow…or how big a cart I would need to haul that pile of dirt in one load…so it seemed prudent to add in a
    fudge factor” in case I was underestimating things. Old school, indeed, but it works, and it’s relatively easy to change things some if I’ve gotten it wrong in, say, estimating culvert size.

    Those temperatures are very good for sleeping. We often get a small but noticeable break in temperatures somewhere around August 20. At least we used to. Back in the late 1970s and early 1980s, that break would hit, so the highs would be maybe 28C and the lows 10C. My friends and I always called that “good sleeping weather”.

    I saw those links Lew posted. I have a lot of respect for those turbine blades as it is, but they are definitely something to avoid when they’re burning. I wonder if those are rare freak occurrences, or if that is something that will become more common as the turbines age?


  34. Hi Xabier, Pam, Lewis, Damo and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however we dug and moved soil all day on the new terrace project, and anyway to cut a long story short I feel that dinner at the pub has now become something of a necessity. Hope you all understand and we shall speak tomorrow.

    Lewis – Yoda is a pretty clever character, although blind Master Po and Master Kan seemed somehow better suited to the task teaching, and I always enjoyed their aphorism’s and metaphors. They seemed more earthy to me. Plus and I’d be curious as to your opinion but they didn’t seem overly hung up on perfection.

    I tend to agree with you about the single stream recycling system. When the process first began the recycling crate (not a bin in those days) only accepted metal and glass scraps and it seemed to work. Of course at a guess there is a bit of bait and switch going on and I’m not entirely convinced of the sincerity of the plastic recycling process. Plus our trading partner has done a bait and switch in that they send plastic and in order to change the culture to accept such levels of packaging waste the entire process is taken care of, until the costs mount up. But the culture has not yet returned to the previous acceptance, and the plastic waste keeps on coming. Can’t say that I’m a fan.

    I’ve heard that about getting enough salt in your daily diet that it is rarely a problem, but too much salt messes with my sleep as I’m dehydrated and wake up with a headache… Water solves these dramas. I hear you and I can tell too.

    You’re probably right about the Elder Folk, I better see if I can right some wrongs. There was a huge wombat in the orchard last night and it was minding its own business and just cropping the plants.

    I’m still only about half way through Eagles Brood, and Damo has taken up the challenge. There are only so many hours in the day. I’d like to do another day of digging in the next few days, but honestly I have to give my body a rest and do something else around the place. We made another step today too, but I might try and make another one on Saturday or Sunday. The project is looking pretty good, but far out we moved a lot of soil today. There’s probably about three days of digging to go before we can start planting and fencing.

    You go! 🙂 Such businesses sound like catnip to you, but I tell you I enjoy perusing the goods on offer too. The editor says much the same about op-shops as sooner or later if you wait long enough you’ll find what you are after.

    Love the story about the chamber pots, and yes sometimes a person needs something to aim at. It is nice that the manufacturers and public had a sense of humour about the subject – imagine that happening nowadays… It’s all very serious and people are very quick to get upset.

    Fingers crossed with the tomatoes, but I reckon you’ll be fine and it will surprise you how fast the fruit grows with a few hot days and some adequate watering. The Hubbard squash look great at the images I could dig up on the interweb. And I’ll bet the hard skin means that they’re great keepers through the cold winters (we’re still consuming last years harvest)?

    I’ve got an obligation to the Tree Dudes and it is funny how these relationships form. They did a great job too and I certainly couldn’t have felled the dead tree that was caught up in the canopy of another large old tree. And the large old tree is doing just fine. I didn’t see how they did the job either, but there’s no need to get involved they know what they’re doing and I just left them to get on with it. But I have to do the cleanup.

    Hehe! Very funny about the audio book. It was a very serious book you know. I feel that the tone that the authors took was too clinical.

    Gotta run before the kitchen shuts.



  35. Hello again
    I first came across ‘Do unto others as you wish them to do unto you’ as a child. I think that it was in ‘The water babies’ by Charles Kingsley. I didn’t like it at the time and I still don’t. People are different; why should I assume that they want what I want? So even as a child, I reckoned that you should note how someone would like to be treated.


  36. & again
    Herewith is an example: I loath being hugged but kindly hug all those who expect it.


  37. @ Margret – Better to have a hobby/mania (recycling) than sitting around, making up gossip. And, embroidering it :-). Lew

  38. @ Pam – Yeah, that’s the stuff that they think is mutating all the frogs, and other amphibians. We’re messing our own nest box. Lew

  39. Yo, Chris – I have a vague idea who Yoda, is. But not a clue as to blind Master Po or Master Kan. Expand my cultural literacy :-).

    Hmmm. Do you have a spread sheet, somewhere, where you track cubic yards of dirt moved? No? Bad accountant! :-).

    Oh, kitchen stores can be fascinating. Years ago, in my checkered employment past, I worked for a department store for about a year. I ended up working in what they called “Cook’s Kitchen.” All kinds of kitchen gizmos and small appliances. A couple of lines of popular stoneware dishes. I remember the job, fondly. Can’t remember why I quit and moved on. Can’t even remember what I moved on to.

    After moving and sending boxes of kitchen gear, to auction, I’m pretty careful about buying anything else for the kitchen. I did cave in to an antique, French enamel long handle skimmer. To hang on the wall. It was blue and white :-). I meant to mention I do have a pizza cutter, that I picked up, somewhere. But it’s pretty lame, and I’ll have an eye out for something more substantial.

    Hunting (haunting?) the op shops is an exercise in Zen. The mind must be empty. One must desire nothing in particular, as we know from Buddhist teaching, that that just leads to unhappiness. Having the mind cluttered with a want list just clouds the possibilities of finding the unexpected. :-). All will be provided, with patience. As the Editor knows.

    Which reminds me, this weekend is the twice yearly antique fest, in Centralia. Whole town is 10-50% off. I’m going scouting this morning. After I check the fruit stand, and see if the blueberries are in.

    We’ll see is I manage to hold onto the Hubbard squash. Two are right along the path, and things have been known to disappear. But, there’s plenty more hiding in the foliage.

    Well, if you do the clean up, you probably save a bit of money. And, to your specifications. Once I had a small roof done, and I just told the guys to shovel the old roof off, and I’d deal with it. Small roof, small job, small cost.

    Well, just all kinds of news, yesterday. There may be another management apartment inspection, on Monday, as, finally, The HUD inspection is to be on the 15th. So, theoretically, I could have 4 apartment inspections, in less than 6 months.

    Also, I made my weekly stop at the Veg store, to discover people running in and out like locusts. There was a notice on the door, that I owner is retiring, and the place is closing. Almost immediately. Hardly any produce left. Blows a hole in my routine, and world.

    And, from our “It’s Getting Biblical, Out” department, it seems the recent heat dome in Europe is moving over Greenland. Causing massive ice loss.


    And, there’s a plague of locust (grasshoppers) in Los Vegas. Interesting times. Lew

  40. @Chris
    RE: pie winner 2019

    I always joke that there must be a thousand national pie competitions in Australia because almost *every* bakery claims to be a recent winner in some category or another. Or they just go with the vague “award winning pies”…

    Hopefully your pie was the real deal, a good pie is a thing of beauty. They enjoy pies in NZ, but I find, whilst there are plenty of bakeries, less of them are actually any good. Still, I find it my duty to test bakeries as I criss-cross NZ for work. As you said, someone has to do it. Those pies are not eating themselves!


  41. Hi Xabier,

    The rats are worthy adversaries are they not? Certainly they test my problem solving skills. Of late, their latest move is to burrow deep into the cuttings that I’ve made, and I see their tunnels and excavations. But mostly the tunnel entrances are among the thickly planted garden beds and this presents certain logistical problems for the fluffy canine collective who are charged with the job of hunting the rats. Clearly the rats are smarter than the dogs, because the dogs have been unable to circumvent this new strategy that the rodents have come up with.

    Haha! Your rats are even more ingenious than the furry critters here. It is possible that they were saving the best for last? 😉



  42. Hi Pam,

    I’m amazed with what my mates have achieved in about the same period of time as here. Their farm is more animal focused than here, but they have plans to produce more animal feed (grains) from their property, and I see no reason why they won’t achieve it and thus close the mineral recycling loop. As always I am impressed by the sheer scale of their vision. The micro-climate inside the shed is something amazing to behold because their avocado trees have already produced fruit!

    A recycling centre is a true community asset, and I hear you. The number of building materials that I’ve err, rescued, from the recycling centre and put to good work is astounding – as you well know by your own account. I wanted to construct the house here using mainly recycled or seconds materials, but the building regulations changed after the devastating 2009 fires, and nothing was quite the same after that. What do you do? Oh well. Your systems sound as if they as are as good as could be expected, and I hear you about the non-meat waste. I believe that the collection of food waste in the big smoke has encountered the problems of rats.

    Exactly! The townies chuck good stuff out because it may be a case of more dollars than sense? Have you ever read about the left over and barely used items after a music festival? The students are probably a bit like that. It is a sad state of affairs. Clearly you know your stuff and I loved the Wombles (it is an ear-worm of a song).

    Thanks! Very astute observing! Off in the distance is a reasonably deep gorge where the Lerderderg River runs through the Wombat State Forest. Coincidentally, the editor and I took Ollie for a three hour walk through the forest today along the rail trail which I wrote about a few weeks back. Ollie enjoyed the walk and we saw only one other timid soul. People unaccustomed to large dogs find Ollie to be a bit intimidating and there was a lot of complaining and fear.

    Congrats for the good rain – and what an amazing time of year to receive such a downpour. Ah yes, we can both be envious of the flat landers who enjoy un-bruised cantaloupes! 🙂

    Toothy sends his greetings, but Ollie is very tired and presently sound asleep, which is a good thing because Scritchy has decided to sleep on his muzzle.

    Industrial can also mean bringing order from the naturally un-ordered? Is that even a word? Dunno.

    Both are useful and edible plants.



  43. Hi Damo,

    I too have heard of the Miyamoto Musashi, who to me is a person put on Earth just to raise the bar for the rest of us mere mortals. I was curious that in his latter years he chose to live as a hermit. What book are you referring to though?

    Yeah, nah. I hear what you (and pretty much everyone else here plus the editor) are suggesting about the cold pizza business, but yeah I’m officially kind of dissing all of your opinions. The interweb is full of opinions, and they’re not all right you know, and just because you have overwhelming numbers on your side, does not imply that I feel overwhelmed. It’s complicated… Socrates was indeed a smart bloke, and I note that you bring in the heavy hitters in this tawdry debate, but I believe So-crates also said: Bill and Ted Philosophize with Socrates. Is utube ever wrong? Q.E.D. and I claim victory in this debate!

    You nailed that one. It was bush meat, and unlike your more adventurous soul I’m a bit soft on unidentified animal produce. Although to be fair I got very ill on the next major town south of Luang Prabang as I foolishly consumed a salad. Bush meat probably would have been cooked more definitively. Unfortunately at the time the restaurant was playing the film Black Hawk down and I was wondering about the bullet budget of that film, and both my senses and gut were overwhelmed. It was an ugly time of international relations. Bruce Willis’s advice about cooking meat in the film Food Inc. comes to mind at such times.

    The dish consumed at the waterfall sounds really good. Yum!

    I thought so too about 35mm film and appreciate your correction. And absolutely, as a person who used to own and use a Pentax MZ-50, well you had to think about things before you clicked the ‘go’ button on the camera. What I did notice about the older 35mm camera is that on the whole, the images turned out better. The casual nature of digital SLR cameras with huge memory cards means that you can be a bit more sloppy with using the device. That’s me by the way and I usually delete about a third of the images taken, but then on the other hand a person can take a lot of images.

    Hehe! Well that being the case (and I tend to understand what you are communicating) I use the comments as something of a flake filter. One of the neighbours felt happy to criticise my activities upon first meeting me, and the flake filter saves me a lot of time and trouble. I just nodded sagely and then kept on doing what I was doing. Ollie has a dislike for the person too and I now rarely if ever see them. It is a complicated thing to work out what battles to take on and what to let slip by you. In between the two choices lies the path of wisdom.

    Ouch! When we went to Peru, on the return journey we were stranded in Santiago airport in Chile for 12 hours. Well, you’ve sat exams before and a 24 hour journey is no different. Good luck with the jet lag because I felt that for about a week either side of the trip. Much grumpiness ensued as my body told me that I should be asleep, but I was awake. Very confusing.

    Hehe! You’re probably right about the pie awards, although that particular bakery was indeed a national winner. Cambodian migrant crowned king of Australian pies. It is a good pie and not too far from here. Far out, I missed the vanilla slice. In my world second best is still pretty good! So little time, so many pies to test and enjoy.

    I struggled with the NZ bakery dilemma too, but honestly as you suggest it is a worthwhile activity. You never know when you’ll encounter bakery greatness. I suspect that the people in the US have no idea what a great bakery is? Tasmania had more than its fair share of great bakeries. Speaking of which have you noticed how wet Strachan has been this past month?



  44. Hi DJ,

    Monsters can take quite a bit of experience to learn about. Unfortunately I smote the rocks using the jackhammer to no avail.

    Air quality is a complicated issue and it was considerate of your father to move to another state. It isn’t just air pollution either, as you never know what pollen triggers you’ll be susceptible to. Now that you mention it, down here we have had some deaths due to: Melbourne thunderstorm asthma inquest: Victims’ survival chances greater if symptoms noticed. I grow Rye grass here so I get a lot of exposure to the pollen, but plenty of people in the big smoke might never encounter the stuff until the winds blow from a certain direction.

    What a day to turn up to Spokane! But you know, if you see things at their worst, then it is all up-hill from there, although I’ll bet the winters were also a surprise?

    I’d heard that about Orange County too. Some of the outer suburbs of Melbourne (Templestowe and Doncaster) were once covered in orchards, but the city ate them. There is an exception of the orchard at: Petty’s Orchard. We used to go to their annual festival and open days, but then one year suddenly thousands of people turned up and we just went off and did something else and never returned. I still have no idea how the old orchard came to public awareness. But you’re right, it is sad and now also gone.

    Exactly, the linear sense of time makes little sense to me either. Cycles fit the observed reality much better, but linear makes for a better story don’t you think? You can see cycles in the inverted bell shaped curve which maps out the role of ‘progress’ for a whole bunch of things – such as ourselves.

    Yeah I get that, dealing with the public can be fun, but also tiring. And a bit of empathy goes a long way towards smoothing ruffled feathers. But also recognising that some feathers needs not be smoothed, and then knowing who those people are is also a worthy skill to develop.

    Thanks. Smaug the friendly dragon had no mates but sat on a bunch of gold. Is this a good look I ask you?

    Thanks for mentioning “Fermi Problems” as I’d never heard of them before. And prudence is an old fashioned concept which I feel has much to recommend it.

    Yeah, that happens here with the temperature change as you head into Fall. The weather becomes very pleasant during such time. The funny thing I’m noticing about Fall is that (and this anecdotal) it is becoming shorter and compressed between Summer and Winter.

    As far as I understand the wind turbines, they are devices that are only rated to a certain turbine blade spin (revolutions) speed. Once the generator is disconnected from an electrical load, the resistance decreases on the blades which can then exceed their maximum spin rate. It is doubtful that there is a clutch mechanism in the device (as I’m assuming that would only make matters worse) and so not only does heat rise due to mechanical friction, but also heat rises due to electrical energy generated. Pop goes the weasel. They can be turned out of the wind, but this may not be an automatic process. What is your take on that?



  45. Hi Inge,

    Oh my, Charles Kingsley was a complicated person and I would have struggled with the concept of redemption that was a recurring theme in the story. I’ve noted that some people are just bad and they neither seek nor care about redemption. I use the Golden Rule as a guide to not creating unnecessary adversaries. But on the whole it is hard to get through life without annoying a whole bunch of other people that have other ideas on the matter of life. I hadn’t previously explained my personal philosophy that well, but I feel it is more nuanced than applying the Golden Rule to people who clearly don’t appreciate it. As usual you delve into deep philosophical realms. What is your take on this subject?

    I care not a whit for redemption. How does one live well and a soul grow whilst at the same time accepting that they somehow need redemption? Redemption seems a goal that is somewhat at odds with being a conscious person.

    I agree, and I can assure you that few people want the outcomes that I seek. However, empathy can be employed as a tool for self-defence more than anything else.

    Is that a dam up in the north of your country that is at risk of failure? On the whole, from what I read the dam was last overhauled in 1980, and 40 years with no failure is not a bad effort.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Blind Master Po and Master Kan were characters from the 1970’s television series: Kung Fu (TV series). Interestingly and proving that many topics can come the full circle, the Shaolin Monastery shown in the television show was originally a set used for the 1967 film Camelot. And thus we return to Eagles Brood. Far out, I’m deep into Lot’s act of war on the fine upstanding folks in Camulod, and things are not looking good for our erstwhile heroes. Can they recover from the siege and sack of the castle? Why they didn’t put the two Egyptian poisoners to death immediately remains a mystery to me? And it looks as though there is an unfolding hostage situation. Merlyn survived the battle and is very, very grumpy.

    Hehe! But now that you mention it about the dirt spreadsheet… I like how you think, but I might need you to take some notes and run that thing. I wasn’t going to move more soil tomorrow, but it looks like an Antarctic blast maybe headed this way towards the end of next week, so it looks like I’ll get back into digging tomorrow.

    Today we had the day off and took Ollie on the 7.5 mile walk on the old rail trail through the Wombat State Forest. It was a really nice day for the walk as the air was cool and the sun was hidden behind clouds. Ollie is exhausted tonight by the exertion and is now sound asleep behind me on the green couch. I was thinking about your comments about the hormones every time I heard frogs croaking in the forest. But tracts of the forest were largely quiet, but some parts were full of bird life. Pollution is a bit of a worry as the unintended consequences can be rather disturbing and unexpected.

    Hehe! Who knows why any of us ever move on from a job? But I tend to feel that much experience is gained from working in a variety of places and jobs. I’ve known a few people who have worked for the same company all their working lives (and I recall the old promises of a job for life – what a fine joke to play on us all) and it is hard for me to understand that particular story. Anyway, it is a complicated matter and I’ve moved on from some jobs because expectations exceeded reality which is a sad state of affairs. Mate, some people have said: “You’re a gun”, and then they expect more from me than they do from others. I don’t get that at all.

    With your “Cook’s Kitchen” job it might have been rather enjoyable because the people who frequented the store had some passion about the items in the store? Dunno, just a wild hunch. What do you reckon? Certainly commercial kitchens sound like passionate workplaces to me. There has been a very high profile case recently of alleged wages under payment (running into the millions) in one business in that industry and I can’t say that it is a good look. At such times that I read those sorts of stories, I tend to reflect upon Gene Logsdon’s observation that even a well run farm hardly provides enough surplus for the sort of annual overseas holiday that people tend to feel is part of the ordinary day to day experience.

    Oh sorry, I did not intend to lure you to the ‘dark side’ which involves purchasing kitchen gizmo’s. Blue and white! Hehe! Nice one and I’m glad that the French enamel long handle skimmer is in a pride of place. I have to confess that I’m rather partial to a silicone based implement of the same, although perhaps lesser pedigree, purpose.

    Hey, the yoghurt additional pasteurising experiment appears to have worked out well. I may have mentioned a while back that I had a batch of yoghurt fail as it was taken over by bacteria which produces the chemical acetone. Nasty stuff, and an unmistakable smell. I noticed that the price of the high quality organic of milk has somehow fallen recently. How this is possible is beyond my ken as dairy farms are also shutting shop. Anyway, another batch of yoghurt failed, but this time I’d thoughtfully kept a backup culture in the freezer. Until only very recently, I’d never had a failed batch of yoghurt, so clearly something has changed in the industrial process. So now I run the milk in the slow cooker for 1 hour at 149’F in order to kill off most things in the milk. Then I cool the milk down to room temperature and then I start the culture. Things were easier in the recent past, but oh well…

    Definitely haunting of the op-shops! 🙂 Hehe! I have tried emptying my mind for such purposes, but it is always so full of intrigue and thoughts, that I found the whole emptying process too hard. In these enlightened times I just sort of get on with thinking and avoid the emptying. Seems easier. But yeah, knowing when something is an opportunity can be a real skill. Yup and I don’t see a lot of that skill being wielded in society.

    Did you manage to score any blueberries (perfectly in season – I am envious) and/or antiques?

    There is also the fact that the Tree Dudes are good for some work, but not other work. Their understanding of what is meant by cleaning up is certainly a very different concept to mine. What is involved in shovelling a roof off? Is this a snow thing?

    What? Are these people bored or something? What could be possibly achieved by a fourth apartment inspection in six months that wasn’t determined in one of the earlier inspections? Surely the earlier inspections produced records that could be reviewed?

    Ouch. Sorry to hear about the veg store closing. Retail is a tough gig. I was speaking with a lady (not a client) a few weeks back and she was telling me how much margin the interweb delivery people demand and it was something like 30% of the sale price. That sort of cut would eat their margins. It is not a good story. Have you got any other local options for fresh veg?

    I noted both the Greenland warming (thanks for the link although the story conflated Greenland melt-water with the Arctic melt-water) and I’d heard about the plague of Locusts in that particular town. Fun times.



  47. Hi Chris,

    For the most part I find it futile to challenge peoples belief systems as they usually just get defensive. That said I’ll still do it particularly with close family. More often just setting an example and/or explaining why I do something a particular way (only if asked) works much better. This has worked but mostly with close family members fairly often.

    I was asked to monitor trash and recycling receptacles at the county fair but decided to decline. Two hours in the sun trying to get people to recycle just didn’t sound that appealing to me particularly now that there’s a good chance it won’t be recycled anyway. The recyclable items will mostly be plastic anyway.

    It’s only rained 1/10 of an inch in two weeks so today’s the day to haul out all the hoses. There’s still areas I have to haul jugs of water out to as they are just too far for any hose. At least the temperatures haven’t been scorching hot and even the humidity is low. The only sources of water are hooked up to the house and one of those faucets is dedicated to the automatic pig waterer.

    Forgot to say how much I enjoyed the article about your friends’ shed.


  48. Hello again
    I probably agree with you about redemption which implies original sin. The golden rule is simplistic. Empathy: yes if one is capable of it. I don’t know much about Charles Kingsley. I read both ‘the water babies’ and ‘Westward Ho’ as a child.
    That dam situation seems to be horrendous. I don’t understand why dropping those sandbags on the broken part would help things. Would you live below a dam? I wouldn’t.


  49. Damo & Pam,

    I’ve been a bird watcher for decades. I’ve recorded 53 different species here at our new digs. There are rules though – I count those I see such as the bald eagle soaring overhead and the sandhill cranes, those that I only hear but can definitely identify such as the Barred Owl in the woods west of us. There are others that I’ve only heard but can’t identify yet. On the other hand, it’s fun just to watch the antics of the common species too. I always thought the Blue Jay was the “bully of the feeder” but have come to discover that the Red Bellied Woodpecker is really the top dog.

    There’s a book, “What the Robin Knows” by naturalist, Jon Young who describes what you can observe just be sitting quietly in the same place until the birds accept you. I try to do that fairly often. He writes about just a few common species. https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/jon-young/what-robin-knows/

    Of course then there’s the people who chase around the world just to add a new species to their life list. I do have a list of the birds I’ve seen through my life but I’ve never traveled anywhere than possibly a fairly local nature preserve to see new species. The movie, “The Big Year” relates to this. https://www.allaboutbirds.org/the-big-year-our-movie-review/

    Damo, about ten years ago during the time of many airline miles, Doug and I went to Costa Rica and the Monteverde cloud forest. I’ll always remember the variety of hummingbirds. We also had a tour of a small coffee plantation where much of the coffee was brought in by oxen.


  50. Hi Chris,

    The Musashi book is simply titled Musashi, by Eiji Yoshikawa. Out of print, but abebooks can get one to me for a reasonable price.

    You show real strength of character and courage with such public display of unconventional pizza opinions! Still, if So-Crates *and* utube support you, I can at least acknowledge in certain situations that differing modes of thought can be beneficial, if only for educational purposes and to reaffirm the one true way.

    I imagine Ollies dislike of your new neighbour was taken from your body cues. Very helpful of Ollie, an unfriendly, or even indifferent, large dog probably stops many unwelcome random “drop ins”.

    In NZ, like Australia, a lot of bakeries are now run by Cambodians. Tasmania does have a higher rate of great bakeries – the best by far is the Richmond bakery just out of Hobart. The curry scallop pie is a wonder, plus they do patisserie level treats and pastries (choc raspberry tart yum). I may be doomed to never find their like again, but a valiant effort will be made!

    I never saw a bakery worthy of the name in the US – but perhaps a search should be commenced? Maybe a US reader could explain why meat pies are not a respected culinary item. First the metric system, and now pies. When will it end?

    12 hours in any airport sounds awful. They are not pleasant places unless you stump up for a “lounge”. Mrs Damo and I once got ourselves business class tickets thanks to a computer glitch for cheaper than economy. They included the lounge and it was a wonder, very civilised. I noted that many people strode in without getting checked for a valid ticket, and I believe if you carried yourself with an air of arrogance could probably get away without having one. As yet, I have not being game to try that tactic myself.

    I haven’t heard about Strahans rainfall. It can get heavy in that part of the world though, I believe a nearby mountain top records it annual rainfall in metres – maybe 3.5m a year? Certainly, we got a lot of rain when we lived in Zeehan. Not enough to stop the odd fire worry in summer though.


  51. Yo, Chris – A thought about one of the other posts … or as Rocky and Bullwinkle, said (I think) “Them that’s got the gold, rule.” :-). I didn’t watch a lot of Kung Fu. Hmmm. The 70s. I was well into my working (and partying) life, about then. But, I know enough for the basic cultural memes.

    Lots going on in Camulod. Things are moving, fast. Oh, I think they didn’t kill the poisoners, out of hand, because they’re still trying to keep some semblance of a justice system, going. Bring them up on charges, in front of the community, etc.. Then again, they were ambasodors, with a certain amount of respect, entailed in that. Makes for a better story?

    I saw what you said to Pam about Ollie and Scritchy. I think Scritchy is trying to smother Ollie, in his sleep!

    Well, my Dad and Brother had a job for life, with Nabisco. But even when I started job hopping, Dad never said too much about it, as I think he realized those slots were getting pretty rare, and times were changing.

    Restaurant owners can really stick it to their wait staff, with all kinds of legal loopholes. As a group, they don’t have much protection. Lots of tip credits and meal credits that whittle down their base wage to darn near nothing. Unpaid overtime due to horrendous loads of “side” work. Lots of turn over, in those places.

    There’s a funny fugue state, you can enter, when op-shopping. Same applies to mushroom or rock hunting. The eye takes in what the brain doesn’t immediately perceive. How can I explain it? Sometimes, I’ll be looking at a mass of stuff, move on, and then circle back. My brain tells me there was something there, that I should have taken a second look at.

    I hit the blueberry place, and they were in. I got two flats. $25 per, this year. But I had some “old poor people’s” script, that took some of the sting out. State issued, I think. It’s a nutritional program for the elderly. And, provides a boost for small farmers. You can only use them at farmer’s markets. The fruit stand I go to, isn’t a farmer’s market. But, they work the farmer’s market in Olympia, so, there’s a loophole.

    Then I stopped by the “health” food store, to get eggs. Having lost my connection at the veg store, I’m back to paying premium, again. Onto the antique mall, but they weren’t quit open. But, the Visiting Nurses, op-shop, across the street, was. Found several Lilliput Lane cottages, there. All things miniature … made in England. AND a Czech porcelain vase, from the 1920’s, with a large sunflower and colorful parrot, painted on the side.

    So, onto the antique mall, to do a scout. I’ll be going back, this morning, when the sale is on. I spotted a coffee pot, that screams Art Deco. Meakin china company, England. Not much money, either. And, a Chinese sewing basket, with a nice blue Peking glass loop, on the top. I’ve only got 7 of those baskets. I need 8, right? And, I think I’m going to spring for the expensive Orient and Flume vase, I’ve been mooning over, for a year.

    Why not? I got a notice yesterday that my State retirement is going to be bumped up, $20 a month. COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment) increase. Of course, that means, when they refigure my rent next year (based on income) that will be bumped up, too.

    Shoveling a roof off. I think I mentioned that a lot of our roofs are asphalt shingle. Well, that stuff is heavy. You can re-roof, over the old stuff, two or three times. Then it’s all got to come off. It’s the weight.

    Well, Monday is going to be interesting. Not only do we have a possible inspection, but the elevator is going to be done, for the day (State yearly elevator check) AND they are going to pressure wash the parking lot. Also, the date of the HUD inspection, later in the month, falls on our county fair’s Senior Day. Free admission for the duffers. I don’t go, but several of the ladies are in a froth about the poor planning. Of course, they will tell them “You don’t need to be present for the inspection.” Unsupervised strangers, in their apartments, touching their stuff? When pigs fly.

    Oh, there are a few other options, to the veg situation. But, they might be more expensive, and not as convenient of get to. It will shake out.

    Had an interesting interchange with the Garden Goddess, last night. She wanted to ask me something. I’ve been pruning back the leaves on my squash, and lopping off the ends, when the vines make a break for it. Wouldn’t that effect production? (How many Hubbard squash do I need?) I told her, I really didn’t know. It’s an experiment. Which totally befuddles her. I really think there’s a bit to much emphasis on “getting it right.” “Getting it perfect.” What I didn’t say is that I don’t take off ALL the leaves. Just the one’s that are shading out other plants. Or, spilling over the edges of the plot. Besides, it drives (naughty inflection on) Dick (naughty inflection off), crazy. :-). Lew

  52. Good evening

    No, Smaug’s look was not a good one at all, but it reminds me of very wealthy man who liked to say, as if it were witty:

    ‘Friends? I’ve got millions of them: little green ones!’

    And his staff duly laughed sycophantically. Curiously enough, he had a sort of charisma, as people fell under his spell, but every story I heard about him showed him to be vile. He made Smaug look charming.

    But, you may be glad to hear, he got his comeuppance, as he was targeted by a true, calculating, gold-digger who took him to the cleaners in a divorce. He had to wave goodbye to lots of those ‘little green friends’. Sometimes, it do happen to the right person….

  53. That is the first I’d heard of gabion cages – what a brilliant idea. I love the color of your crushed rock; all the rock work is very inspiring!!

  54. @ Damo,

    USA bakeries…We spent a week at Disneyworld one year. A large family from Scotland was staying where we were. The man that was about my age was a baker in Scotland, so we talked about our horrible bread. His opinion, with which I agree, is that nearly all American bread adds way too much sugar and is too sweet. There are some local artisan bakeries where better quality bread can be purchased, but the prices are too much for my budget. And we take all the nutrients out and then “add them back in”. Something vital gets lost in that process, methinks. Something seems wrong to me when the sugar content in a slice of bread is the same as or higher than the fiber content.

    Meat pies? I can either make my own or purchase really horrid frozen ones at the grocery store. Here’s the problem as I see it…English cooking has a bad reputation in the USA. Gourmet means Italian or French. So meat pies are out. So are wonderful things like Yorkshire pudding, which I used to make until it was apparent I’m celiac. (I’ve not tried with other grains.) For a lot of Americans, smothering the main course with cheap melted cheese makes the meal “gourmet”. Myself, I like meat pies, as they can be an entire meal depending on the ingredients. It has been a long time since I made one, though.

    Maybe some of the other Americans here have other opinions?


  55. Chris,

    Pollen is interesting. We traded Orange County pollution and smog (Smaug?) for allergies in Spokane, at least allergies for dad and me. At least with allergies I have ways to cope. The Melbourne thunderstorm and allergy problems are interesting. I notice that in windy thunderstorms, or extremely dry (20% humidity) and windy (25 mph) hot days like today, my allergies are noticeable. I’ve got some homemade air cleaners in the house that make a huge difference.

    Winters? The surprise went 2 different directions. The first winter was a La Nina, so there was almost no snow, and there were 2 exceedingly disappointed children who only got to go sledding once. The second winter had many lows between -15C and -30C. And a large, nasty blizzard and 107cm of snow ON THE GROUND. I was only 107 cm tall! That winter was a huge shock.

    But the neighbors flooded their backyard for ice skating! We started doing that the next 15 winters and had a lot of fun. Getting out in the winters also helped…

    Linear does make for a better story, at least for our current society. A lot of ancient stories had a lot of cycles in them, however. I think you’re onto something with the bell curve, especially regarding how we age and mature and die and what we’re able to accomplish. Cycles and curves seem to me that there is no “one size fits all”. Maybe a lot of spirals and fractal type ideas, too. I just don’t see a lot of straight lines in spatial nature, and I’m guessing time is similar to that.

    I hear you about some feathers don’t need to be smoothed. I get plenty of those, and get appropriately (and professionally) short and snippy when I must. Learning that has been a worthwhile lesson.

    Smaug and gold and generosity…It’s interesting with the Norse and Anglo-Saxon and Icelandic runes that the first rune is fehu, which talks about wealth. The very old rune poems in Old English, Old Norse and Old Icelandic all talk about the need to be generous with one’s wealth. The culture, as was true of Celtic cultures of that era also, basically demanded generosity. Native American culture has traditionally been similar, in that anyone who had too much wealth was considered to be out of harmony with the family and tribe. Methinks there’s a lot to be said for those ideas… There’s “enough” and then there’s being miserly and mean. I vote for “enough”, if I’m that fortunate, and having friends. Relating rather than amassing.

    Our autumns seem compressed also. I’ve often thought that Spokane’s seasons would be better divided into 6 or 8 seasons rather than the traditional 4, and that the lengths of the seasons can differ. I get the astronomical reasons, but I have to work with what is here, rather than simply the length of the days.

    From my (limited) research into the turbines, I have to agree with you. It just seems to be a fault in the design. And constructing so much of it out of meltable PVC? Ugh. A friend summed up what is the prevailing attitude, though: “That wind farm produced gobs of electricity before there was one problem. That’s a fair trade-off.” I’m not sure I totally agree.


  56. Hi Inge,

    I’ve heard the story about original sin. It seems like a big call to me, and I’ve never related to the premise because it seems like a fiction to me. The concept has its uses, but I disagree with those too. Here’s to the contrarians! 😉

    Likewise I agree about the Golden Rule. It is a tool and good for some situations, but it does not work in all situations. For me it is a question of applicability. What do you reckon about that?

    Not at all, what a risk! But living below a dam reduces the energy costs of getting water to the town by utilising gravity. There are always consequences for holding water above ground, and I note a dam near to here that has many dead trees in the embankment. Eucalyptus trees generally don’t like having wet feet and this embankment has a number of dead Eucalytpus trees and they’re occasionally falling over and tearing out chunks of soil in the embankment as they do so. Is this a good thing?



  57. Hi Margaret,

    It is tough to challenge belief systems, so I generally don’t bother these days. And oh yeah, people can get quite heated about such matters. I always consider the volume or heat of “defensiveity” (I just made that word up!) is equivalent to the brittleness of the belief held. Far out, I applaud you taking on family members in their beliefs and absolutely, nothing works like providing a solid example. Mind you, people think we’re bonkers doing the things we do here around the property, but you know, time may resolve that matter.

    Good call, and it doesn’t sound like an appealing job to me either. How did you get involved in being asked to do that? There is a story in there for sure. With volunteering jobs nowadays I always ask the hard question: What is in it for me to do this job for free? Turns out that a lot of the time there is nothing in there, which is a bit of a shame. You may feel that I take a hard line, but I in the far distant past I have helped out mates (and community groups) from a professional (and other) capacity to get their act together and it is always a world of hurt. Nowadays they get a polite refusal. I tend to feel nowadays that people who are in a mess are comfortable with the mess, despite their protestations to the contrary. My basis for this feeling is that the facts speak for themselves in the matter, mostly because they are in a mess.

    I hear you about the watering. Have you considered whether you’ll run a permanent water pipe and spigot to the distant garden? Actually, after replying here tonight I have to begin looking into watering timers as we need the assistance because of the ever increasing garden space set aside for produce…

    Thanks! My mates have really created something special. The inside of the shed looks even better in the flesh. The ceiling of the shed is about 6.5m / 21.5ft so it is hard to put everything into context. And the speed that their fruit trees grow is astounding and probably at least three times what the trees here do.



  58. Hi Damo,

    Thanks for mentioning Miyamoto Musashi. Far out some people are put on Earth to make the rest of us look like the mere mortals that we are! I have seen a copy of the book in paperback for sale, but I passed up the opportunity to purchase it. Might have to do something about that. I’ll be curious to hear your thoughts about the Titan’s journey and life.

    You too display strength of character by continuing to defend the indefensible! 😉 Your sophistry is beyond my ken, for I feel that you may have said both yes and no in the one sentence, thus proving that you have the blood of the Elvish within you.

    It is funny that you mention that, but Ollie has significantly reduced the incidence of the passer-by. Not a bad outcome really because neither I nor the editor do, casual ‘drop ins’. Is this a bad thing? Well, plenty of people would suggest the answer to that question is ‘yes’. It is an opinion, I guess.

    Some of the finest bread that I’ve consumed were French loaves purchased from dudes and dudettes riding push bikes in Vietnam and proffering fresh bread sticks for sale. The shadow of the French is long in some parts of Asia.

    Ah-ha! I believe that your bakery question may have been answered by a brave native. Is it an excuse for acts of culinary barbarity? Apologies, my mind dwells in Camulod these days, not sure why…

    Like you and the good Mrs Damo, we never attempted such subterfuge either, but that is because the idea never even occurred to us. It is a good idea. In Santiago there was a Qantas Club lounge, but alas we were not members. People told us of the perquisites, and they sounded quite nice when compared to sleeping on the hard benches which were clearly not intend for such use. Getting out of the airport cost something like US$200 each and so we decided against the option, although I knew of other people who took advantage of that. All up it was a crap 12 hours. I have read stories of people stuck in airports for extended periods of time and it reads like one of Dante’s levels of Hell.

    Strahan gets twice as much rainfall as here, but with a similar climate (the elevation here lowers the maximum temperatures), but yeah I hear you as I’ve seen the Beech forests of Tasmania carelessly set alight during a dry period. One of my two Nothofagus Cuninghamii, Myrtle Beech trees looks a bit sick after the recent hot and dry summer. But I also fed the tree some mushroom compost which may have been too high in pH. Oh well, you live and learn.

    Cheers and God speed my friend!


  59. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the laughs, and yeah Rocky and Bullwinkle were always on the gold, err sorry, money. 🙂 I hear you bro, the late 80’s and early 90’s were also something of a lazy, crazy and hazy days until the incident. After the incident I decided to get ‘woke’, whatever that means. But before then, I had a heck of a time.

    I defer to your opinion in the matter, however once the poisoners true intent and capabilities were positively identified, I probably would have acted otherwise. One of the interesting things about the story is how the characters are travelling along the declining staircase where each new outrage brings with it a downward drop in their standard of living. I note that it is an expensive act to enjoy a higher standard of living than one’s peers, whilst it also makes one a target, but they sure did give it a good shot. I am enthralled with the story. Lot has a personal grudge and that may be his undoing, and how does his wife and Uther figure into the story? Hmm, so many intrigues.

    Scritchy is now about 18 years old and she has a Machiavellian approach to Toothy and Ollie. Sometimes I see Ollie cocking his head to the side with a look of outrage but also curiosity upon his countenance as he ponders the latest act of Scritchy. She appears to be in good health, but there are times that even I ponder the strangeness of her ways.

    Yes, I heard similar stories about a ‘job for life’ back in the day. Whatever happened to those stories? Such are the ways of the bait and switch routine. I’m not a believer.

    That is true about the loopholes, but this one appears to be bigger than Ben-Hur: George Calombaris, former MasterChef judge, says ‘I’m sorry’ for underpaying staff. $7.8m is a big number in anyone’s language, except perhaps Zimbabwe, Argentina or perhaps even the Hyperinflation in the Weimar Republic? I was surprised that the contrition payment was so small at $200k. I read that household debt to income ratio is now at 110% down here. A fascinating and also somewhat disturbing statistic.

    The mind is a funny tool and I ain’t arguing with you about the fugue state. I spend most of my work days here in a pleasant state of mental idling. Often good thoughts pop into my consciousness at such times, but mostly they come later as the time is used to mull problems over. It is a good habit to get into, although when I was in the big end of town everyone seemed to get upset that a person could possibly want to cogitate upon a problem. I didn’t like that attitude. I suspect people have become too ‘busy’ whatever that means.

    Well done you, and you have to play the system and if it provides readily ‘convertible script’ in the hand, then all the better. Have you had any fresh raspberries for the season? I was lukewarm about those berries until growing a patch here. Far out, I was previously missing out.

    Sorry to hear that you now have to pay the premium. Out of curiosity have the old premises for the veg store been put up for sale? Such an act can be quite informative as to the background situation.

    Good for you with the finds. I do hope that you remember to retain some free space for your expanding collection? And yes, Czech glass used to be reputedly the best of the best. Do you have any knowledge as to why that was the situation? We have previously mentioned artisans moving from Europe to the US in order to ply their trade back in the day. Do you feel that in the future such trades will be again established?

    Seven is a lucky number because 4 becomes the fulcrum around which the others orbit. Would an extra basket unbalance the arrangement?

    Nice one! And you enjoy the additional largess until the powers that be get around to upping the rent. You have to play the cards that you’ve been dealt and until they up the rent you’re better off. I just paid my annual water bill – it is a true outrage and each year the bill is slightly higher…

    Of course, I have never seen an asphalt shingle roof before, but hmm, I can see that would work. It might be a bit of a fire risk down here which is why I’ve never seen one. Although in some very old properties I have seen shingle roofs. Generally what they used to do was to place corrugated galvanised iron sheets over the shingles (without removing them), so occasionally if the sheets have blown off in the winds, you get to see the original shingles. The trick with shingles as is generally understood in your part of the world is stop the timber from drying and cracking, thus I guess the asphalt. Interesting.

    The ladies point of view is quite understandable – as you point out. Inspections are a pain in the rear, and they were one of the worst parts of renting. I just felt that they were invasive. Under English common law there is a concept of ‘quiet enjoyment’ and from my perspective, too regular inspections sort of breaches that understanding.

    Mate, I too have been following the down trend of veg options, and you may note that I have ambitions to grow more stuff.

    You’re onto something with wanting to experiment and work out why things are done the way they are done. How else does one learn? The alternative is to become beholden to dogma, and who wants to be dogmatic? No doubt that such folks would bore us all with their opinions. Perfection is an over rated ambition. Do you feel that the Garden Goddess would be up for such a discussion?



  60. Hi Xabier,

    And a good evening to you too!

    Hehe! That’s funny, and so true. Smaug the dragon as an example of economic policy would be sort of akin to a credit squeeze in a market economy.

    The source of your quote was alas lost on me so I can make no observation as to the veracity of your claim. But a person who said such a thing…

    I see that there was only very recently the richest divorce settlement in history. The thing I wonder was whether either of them had had any fun for a very long time? Smaug never looked like the sort to enjoy having fun with the hoard. A true bore and possibly also a monomaniac.



  61. Hi GretchenJoanna,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Yes, the steel rock gabions are an amazingly low tech easy to make item that is also enormously strong. I hope you get some ideas for using them in your part of the world? I plan to make another new one tomorrow.



  62. Hi DJ,

    I add less than half a teaspoon of brown raw (with molasses) sugar to pizza bases and Focaccia bread (which is the exact same recipe). Other than that it is unusual to find sugar in breads down here, although I believe such buns are described maybe by the name of Brioche. I don’t personally enjoy the taste of bread that is sweet and you might find the sort of bread that I make a bit full of cracked grains and thus a bit on the dense side. Sorry to read of your difficulties with gluten products. Not good, especially given how frequently they appear in foodstuffs.

    I’m not sure but I suspect the dry hot windy air blows pollen (i.e. grass seed and other plant materials) about the place. It is free distribution for the plants… Plus I just reckon the dry air makes a person more susceptible to airborne diseases, but I only have my own anecdotal beliefs for that. Yeah, I can see that Spokane would be a challenge for allergies.

    I tell ya what, the other night I had a gut load of Monosodium Glutamate otherwise known as MSG. Revolting stuff and I reckon it took about a day or two before it was completely out of my system. It was in a concoction which is placed on chips (sort of a chunky fry) in a form known down here as: Chicken salt. No chickens are harmed in the making of chicken salt, but it sure messes up my sleep.

    You have even more climate variability than here. I’m unsure what that looks like and I’m frankly a little bit scared to contemplate 107cm of snow on the ground. That would be it for us for a few days because we wouldn’t be able to get out of here… We’d be fine by the way, but I’m unsure how the neighbours would fare. A “huge” is a classic chunk of understatement! 🙂

    Exactly, no one size fits all because fate and destiny is all over the shop. And the accumulation of retained knowledge is a really fragile thing. I can’t honestly say that I’ve contributed to the endeavour of accumulated learning for our species, but then who does? It is a rare achievement to bring in a new idea. I’m curious as to your opinion, but mostly I see us building upon the work of others.

    DJ, you short and snippy? I’m really trying hard to see this, but please do not feel the need to elucidate… Hehe! But yeah, sometimes you have to go in swinging punches (in a metaphorical sense) whether you like it or not.

    I’ve been long aware of the other cultures that place value upon generosity. Mind you, it doesn’t work in this particular culture for all sorts of reasons. However I read a while back that the Energy Returned on Energy Invested for hunter gatherers was about 1:1. When you think about it for a bit, the only way we can get a really long term leg up on that number is to harvest the energy of sunlight better (and sunlight ultimately drives the winds and other renewable sources). There are very few options available to us on a long term basis to achieve that feat. Organic agriculture is one such, but I have a feeling that biological systems are the most robust of the lot because nature has already figured out a lot of the details and they happen without our involvement.

    But you’re spot on and I absolutely agree with you: Friends, Learning; and Relating. 🙂

    The indigenous folk here had six seasons, and I reckon it is a pretty good fit. How did that play out in your part of the world? Autumn is short and getting shorter, although it is only an anecdotal observation.

    What? No way? Really? Well, PVC is a great lightweight material, but far out. Wind turbine components? I too disagree. If you’d been reading way back in the day, you can see that every year I have to make some adjustment or addition or change to the solar power system so as to make it more resilient. Systems should be able to handle multiple failures. I’ve fused everything, but even so I got caught out on something that had not occurred to me as a possibility, until it became possible. Of course visitors had to be there on the day to witness the failure…



  63. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all the lovely comments! Please be aware that tomorrow night I intend to continue the story, and fiction is very hard for me to write because it doesn’t come naturally. The brief replies tomorrow will reflect the amount of brain effort I have to put into continuing the story!



  64. Hello again
    Yes applicability indeed as in all situations. I can certainly see a use for the golden rule when a young child has been nasty to another child i.e. ‘ would you like someone to do that to you?’ But it is limited beyond that as we are not clones thank goodness.

    Have just come back from friends with a large bag of veg. and have rung Son to collect what I don’t want. What he doesn’t want will go to the pigs. These friends used to just throw their excess stuff away, I have finally trained them!


  65. Yo, Chris – We lot power, again, yesterday. They still haven’t identified what caused the outage, two weeks ago. This one was an aerial bucket, at a construction site, that touched a high voltage line. The system shut down.

    Rocky and Bullwinkle are the gold standard. :-).

    Have you got to the part of “Eagle’s Brood” where they go to the religious conference? Interesting, the condition of things, as they take their little tour around Britain.

    I’d guess the Masterchef’s contrition payment was so “small” due to his blowing the whistle, on himself. As least, that’s what the article seemed to be saying.

    I didn’t really nail down any raspberries, this year. Between the blueberries and strawberries … 5th gallon of blueberries, just went in the freezer. I don’t know what the situation is, with the building that the veg store is in. It’s free standing. Might belong to the department store like complex, next door. I read the newspaper article about the closing, last night. Seems like a straight forward case of retirement. The old guy had been in the veg trade for eons. He was the buyer, for a couple of the small chains, around here. He and his wife are moving to Idaho. :-).

    Hmmm. I don’t know how the glass and pottery trade is going to go. There are a lot of people that know how to do it, but it depends a lot on technology (gas fired kilns and furnaces). And most of the stuff is “art”. Decor. It’s the old Mud Pie Dilemma. Which was actually the name of a book, decades ago, discussing studio potters (art) vs production potters (utilitarian items.). In general, I’d say anyone who can produce something useful, as time goes on, will do ok.

    Yeah, got to pay attention to the whole Feng Shui aspect of displaying my tat. Not that I know anything about Feng Shui, or even have any interest. But, it’s a meme to throw out there. :-).

    Asphalt roofs are probably less likely to burn, then say, wood shingle. Or, thatch :-). I put a small asphalt roof on my chicken coop. That was interesting. Didn’t turn out half bad. Didn’t leak, at least. The thing about asphalt roofs is, an afternoon in the sun and they melt a bit … and seal. Important in our rainy climate.

    Speaking of things that catch fire, I watched a Nova science program last night. “Inside the Mega Fire.” It was about the Paradise, California fire. Wild fires in general, forest management. Urban / forest interface. Climate change. Pretty interesting. I also (tried) to watch “Dawn of the Dead.” A straight to DVD zombie movie. Couldn’t make it past the first 20 minutes.

    Oh, I don’t think it’s worth my time to have much of a discussion, about anything, with the Garden Goddess. Set in her ways. (who, me?). She flings a lot of Epsom salt, around. Asked me why I didn’t. I poked into it, even printed out a couple of university studies, that had decided that that wasn’t such a good idea. But, her grannie had done it, and some gardening guru recommended it. Oh, well. Whatever.

    We’re going to have a run of warm, sunny weather. I expect the garden will take a big jump, in the next week. We’ll see. Lew

  66. Hi Inge,

    Exactly, thank goodness for small mercies like that one. 🙂 How boring would the world be if we were all clones? Hmm, hadn’t thought about the Golden Rule being used for that purpose, but it makes sense. As I’ve gotten older I tend to have a more nuanced view of peoples interactions. It’s a complicated old world.

    Well done you! And it is nice to have access to a surplus / waste hierarchy. I know people who grow their own produce but consume very little of it. I’m unsure why that may be the case, do you have any thoughts on the matter?

    Better get writing! Drizzly and foggy here today.



  67. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my! I hope that nobody was injured in the construction bucket meets high voltage power lines incident? In the house I have a Return Current Device which quickly shuts off the AC power in such instances, but I’m unsure that such devices operate on a larger scale.

    Hey Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat… Thanks for the ear worm. I loved that show and it was mildly subversive whilst also highly entertaining. Can one ask for more than that?

    Nope, but I’m sure looking forward to getting to that part of the story. Hopefully I get some reading time in tomorrow (maybe). Despite the wet and cold weather today, we still got a fair bit of work done, and even constructed another concrete step (although it is still in the cement phase right now). The editor came up with an idea to increase the area under cultivation with only a few minor adjustments to the two terraces.

    That’s possible about the penalty being low due to voluntary disclosure. All the same, the reparations would be like Weimar Germany… Who has such sums of cash floating around? It is possible the business will be wound up and nobody gets anything including the penalties possibly being paid.

    Nice work with the blueberries and strawberries! You’re all set for winter. One of the bottles of preserved apricots I opened this morning had a little bit of fuzzy mould on the surface, although the seals were good. Not sure what was going on there, so I fed the batch to the worms (they’re not fussy eaters). I forget, are you freezing the strawberries or are they for fresh eating?

    The veg bloke would have known a thing or two about supply chains, and he would have had an enormous amount of contacts. Alas, nobody purchased the business from him as a going concern and continued it. Hmm, the Idaho connection. Doesn’t it make you wonder what they are hoping to find out there? I’d probably head further east to Montana just because so few people reside there, but that is a personal preference.

    Yeah, I tend to agree with you about the skills being valuable in the future. There are so many consumers that the producers tend to stand out. Mate, I’ve tried convincing people who live in apartments that they can at least make their own soap, but no, it is all too hard for them.

    For a moment there you sounded as if you knew what you were talking about with the Feng Shui! Lured me in hook, line and sinker! Hehe! If I may be so bold as to suggest that the patterns have to be more or less correct with displays of tat!!! 🙂

    Oh, I seriously better get writing… I have the story down in point form and it is of a millennials view of economics. All that listening to the youth news might just pay off with the story? Is Basashi a bad name for a horse? 🙂

    Ah, I hadn’t considered the heat and seal aspect of asphalt roofs, but yeah, it makes sense. Go the chook pen! 🙂 Would the Garden Goddess handle a few chickens free roaming through the garden beds? Free fertiliser maybe the unique selling proposition? Back in the days when I used to commute by motorbike (82 Yamaha XV750 with no muffler!) I had to be careful where to park the bike on a hot day because the stand could sink into the sun heated hot asphalt and the bike would fall over. A bit of a nuisance that, but full leathers on a 104’F day is something else too. After a decade I sort of felt that it was fun riding motorbikes only about a quarter of the time, and that wasn’t good enough compared to the risk of injury.

    Imagine a thatched roof down here!!! Far out. The local garden club tested the idea and it was found to be wanting. Then they had to rebuild their burnt café building! I doubt the denizens of Camulod will install steel sheeting on their roofs?

    I might check out the documentary on the Paradise fire. Have you read anything about how the town is going since the fires? There seemed to be a lot of mobile population and buildings in the town originally. A bit of a shame about the zombie film. Have you managed to nab a copy of Anna and the Apocalypse? I have read Pride and Prejudice with Zombies, so even though the film is a musical my guidelines for better living are not fixed in concrete.

    Epsom Salt? I’d never heard of anyone applying the compound to soil before. Let’s see… … … Apparently it is pH neutral and provides magnesium to the soil and was heavily used back in the day. Who would have thunk it? Can’t say that I’ve ever come across any for sale. It might be possible that the Garden Goddess is onto something with the additive? On the other hand I bring in an enormous amount of organic material, so I just sort of let the soil critters work out the details. Mind you, the editor and I were discussing and planning for crop rotation today (which is a matter that you and Gene Logsdon among others, have brought to my attention in the past). The day I can no longer bring in copious amounts of additional organic material – which is a situation that should not be in the first place – I’ll have to begin seriously closing the mineral loop.

    Oh yeah, your garden will jump out of the ground with that weather. I became curious about your tomatoes and they are running at about the same pace as what I experience. Early tomatoes need either a greenhouse or a whole lot of additional care and attention (not worth it in my book).



  68. Yo, Chris – “…And in local news…” It was 84F (28.88C), yesterday. Supposed to get to 90F, today. The new issue of “Into the Ruins”, arrived. You should see yours, pretty soon.

    Strawberries, fresh and frozen. Berries are getting so darned expensive. I think I have 2+ gallons, in the freezer. I’m swiftly working my way through the 2 flats of blueberries, getting them froze up. Want to get the flats out of the fridge, before the possible inspection, tomorrow. I’d like to get out and pick more blueberries, here at the Institution, but today and tomorrow is blown, due to all the nonsense.

    Well, Idaho. Cheap(er), conservative and not many brown people. That’s what it all boils down to. Montana? Good luck there. Actors, and the literati discovered it. Besides buying huge spreads, the real estate has gone through the roof. AND, a lot of the land is federal owned. National Parks, etc.. Urban / forest interface, wildfires. Lots of animals that would like to gore you or pick through your bones. Paradise! :-).

    Well, I suppose I could make me own soap, but I have special needs :-). Like a small bit of luxury smells. But I do save every scrap and reconstitute it. I keep the slivers in a bag under the sink. Every once in awhile, I break them up. Put them in a cleaned tuna fish can, a bit of water, and set the can on the stove burner (do not be distracted. Turn your back for a second and they boil over.) Let them cure a few days, turn them out, and voila! A whole new bar (or round) of soap.

    Basashi? Well, how does the horse feel about it? You and the horse you rode in on? :-).

    Oh, I think the Garden Goddess would be up for a few chickens. Our last building manager, Laurie the Good, I’d send her up, from time to time. I’d sigh over my lost chickens and say how nice it would be to have a hen or two, wandering about. Could always get a rise out of her. The Garden Goddess is driving everyone crazy. She’s always fiddling, fiddling with the hoses and nozzles. I just roll with it, other than a bit of minor cursing, early in the morning when no one’s around. But it’s winding up the other ladies who garden. I expect, sooner or later, she’ll be found amongst the tomatoes, strangled with her own garden hose.

    There are occasional articles on the NPR website, about Paradise, California. Of course, most of the infrastructure is gone. That alone will cost millions (from where?) to replace. There’s contamination to deal with. Insurance companies to wrangle with. Paradise had a large retired population. Some of the oldsters just don’t know if they’re up to starting all over, again. The Nova documentary also had several bits of scientists, exploring the mechanics of wildfires. Why do they run up hill so fast? What are the mechanics of fire tornados?
    How best to manage forest lands.

    I got lazy and distracted, so, just planted tomato seeds that I had saved from last year. Wondering if I’d even get a crop. Well, they’re banging along and in flower. They will be fine. I also had a clump of volunteers spring up. I thinned to the two largest plants and threw a cage around it. They are not far behind the seed I planted. Peppers? I should have started those inside, I think. But they may surprise me. We’ll see.

    I take HRH out, at the same time, every night. I’ve noticed the days I beginning to run shorter. The wheel of the year, turns. Lew

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