An old story

Earlier today I travelled for three hours (one way) in order to speak to a lady about a machine. It is an interesting machine, the price was agreed upon, and the machine was loaded onto the bright yellow trailer. Then we headed home. Today was a beautiful spring day for a car trip as the air was cool, the sun gentle, and the countryside was bright green and full of promise.

On the return journey we stopped off at a lookout spot which has commanding views over the Valley of a Thousand Hills (Murchison Gap). The Thousand Hill claim seemed like a bit of an exaggeration to me, but there sure were a lot of hills to be seen from the lookout. And in the far distance you could just make out the alpine areas.

The view from the Murchison Gap overlooking the Valley of a Thousand Hills

We don’t really travel much these days, so today’s journey was something of a long haul road trip for us, but with a pragmatic purpose. Concerned readers may be relieved to know that we stopped off along the way at several towns with the purpose of investigating the purported ‘award winning’ claims made by local bakeries. Some of those claims even turned out to be true, and our taste buds can confirm the claims!

As I mentioned, we don’t travel much these days, but it hasn’t always been that way. Late last century we spent almost three weeks walking around the Annapurna region of Nepal. In some ways the region is a bit like where I live today (i.e. quiet and remote), although the elevation there is somewhat higher.

The author, last century, taking a brief moment out from walking around Nepal

In the photo above, the air is far from clear, and I’m unsure whether the mist was from smoke or moisture, or perhaps a combination of both. Speaking of which, it’s early spring here at the farm, but already smoke from distant bushfires far and away to the north of here have begun producing some interesting sunsets:

A sunset from earlier in the week

Pollution is a funny thing, and sometimes despite the horrendous bushfires up in the north east of the country, it can also produce unintended consequences like the beautiful sunsets here. There has been a lot of talk this week about pollution. The talk is mainly about one form of pollution (among the many forms which appear to have been forgotten about), and that happens to be carbon dioxide pollution. Unlike the other less fashionable forms of pollution, carbon dioxide appears to have captured the publics collective imagination. And I even heard on the youth news radio program that I regularly listen to, the moral problems relating to the activity of long distance travel and its epic carbon footprint was raised. To my ears the discussion sounded like sage heads were nodding in agreement that the situation was not good, whilst at the same time plans were surreptitiously being made for their next big overseas trip.

I’d like to say that we no longer travel much these days because we’re concerned about the carbon footprint of the activity, but it wouldn’t be true. Back in the bad old days when I worked at jobs high up in the corporate world, I’d save mad cash. The editor would likewise be adding to those mad cash savings. And then we’d reward ourselves by splurging the mad cash savings on an overseas holiday. We’d enjoy the experience of travel despite the uncertainty of not knowing where the next toilet will be. But then at the end of the holiday, financially we were back to square one. At some point, it just no longer made sense to use our hard earned mad cash savings that way, and so we decided instead to work less, and pursue other activities with our time. It wasn’t a hard decision to make, but reflecting long and deeply upon our ideals (i.e. travel) is always a painful process.

I’m a long time self confessed fan of the Grand Designs UK television show, and it is about the only show that I watch nowadays. It’s been going for twenty years and the story follows a similar theme week after week. And whilst the details of the story often vary, the pain is generally the same. Someone sets an idea in motion, and then discovers that it costs far more than they’d ever allowed for. Even worse is that the ideas use up all of the mad cash savings of the people involved in the show, and 99 times out of 100, the people end up going heavily into debt. And just to add delicious icing on the pain cake, it also takes far longer than anyone’s best guess ever allowed for.

It’s an old story though. Back in the day, some folks have beggared kingdoms in order to pursue such an ideal, and I saw that in action in my travels in India.

The editor sitting in front of a reflection pool at the Taj Mahal in India *

The Taj Mahal is sort of like a Grand Designs on steroids! The short story is that a Mughal Emperor (that is a bloke from Persia – or current day Iran), constructed the building over 30 years to house the body of his deceased favourite wife. The bloke had intentions of also having his own body placed alongside hers upon his demise. The building is a wonder of symmetry (i.e. the left and right sides of the building are identical). The cost of construction must have been stupendous, and unfortunately the Emperor fell ill before commencing the construction of another matching building facing the Taj Mahal – except this time in black. Whilst he was sick, his sons went to war with one another, and one son was eventually victorious. Between the building and the wars, the kingdoms coffers were probably seriously drained, and the son had the old man put under house arrest until the day of his death. And then just out of spite, the son placed his dad’s sarcophagus slightly off centre in the building just to ruin the overall symmetry. The act of the son really puts actions to the words: Once more, and now with feeling! Yes, emotions probably were running rather high in those heady days of yore, and the kingdom promptly fell into decline only to be much later captured by the British.

Today’s current predicaments are really an old story, in that we do things because we can afford to do them at the time, and then one day, we can no longer afford to do them, and then the activity stops.

The garden terraces project is epic, and also suffering from mission creep (the fancy way to describe a gradual shift in objectives). The path above the house leading away from the garden terraces is one example of mission creep. And this week we began another section of the path.

Another section of the path above the house has begun to be created this week

You can see where the path is leading in the next photo:

The path above the house leads away from the garden terraces and towards the driveway

The goal of the path is to allow materials to be moved to and from the garden terraces using a reasonably flat and wide path. All of the soil for the path this week came from the upper garden terrace excavations. We’d estimated that the excavations of this terrace would take only a single day, and in the true spirit of Grand Designs, we were wrong and there is another day of work up there. The upper garden terrace is now about two thirds complete.

Excavations on the upper garden terrace are now about two thirds complete

The area above the upper garden terrace has now been levelled, and that will make an easier job of installing some of the outer fencing onto it.

The area above the upper garden terrace has been levelled and will have the outer fencing

And it wouldn’t be Fernglade Farm if we hadn’t unearthed some monster rock during the excavations! One of the rocks looks like a giant rock sardine ready to leap out of the soil!

It would be Fernglade Farm if we hadn’t unearthed some monster rock!

Late in the week we stopped by the local tip shop and purchased a couple of steel security doors which we’ll convert into two or three gates. The gates will be installed in the fencing around the terraces project.

Two steel security doors were purchased from the tip shop and will be turned into gates

Next week marks a change in the UV from Moderate to High ratings, and the salad greens are responding to the additional energy from the sun by growing at a furious rate:

Salad greens are going off like a frog in a sock

The first broccoli florets that we’ve ever grown have appeared over the past few days:

Broccoli florets have formed

Onto the flowers:

The tall Blackwood trees are in flower
Hellebore flowers have grown even larger over the past week
How good do these Hellebore look growing in between one of the local ferns
Daphne is without doubt the most fragrant of all plants in the garden
I’m unsure what this plant is, does anyone have an idea?
Succulents grow well here
Succulents also come in many different forms
Echiums provide plenty of food for the foraging bees
Spring is flowering Cherry time

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 589.2mm (23.2 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 585.6mm (23.1 inches).

* Forgive the wonky photo of the Taj Mahal. Neither the editor nor the building is drunkenly listing to the side, I just didn’t get the 35mm photo (you may recall those?) sitting correctly on the scanner.

66 thoughts on “An old story”

  1. Hi Inge,

    Medieval torture gear sounds just like the same contraption that firmly kept my head in place too. A truly revolting moment! And you might get a laugh out of this, but the surgeon didn’t tell me that he was intending to remove the metal shard with a syringe (and I was too startled to ask), and I was just trapped in the contraption and could see the syringe coming at me and there was not a darn thing I could about it. Sensory overload did the rest!

    I can see how the grain of sand could be stuck on the underside of your eyelid – and half a world away I’m feeling the echoes of your past discomfit.

    The mist hung over the mountain range this morning, but down in the valley below, it was dry. It looks like most of October is set to be warm and dry which is normal because it is usually the driest month of the year.

    Hope you enjoyed the story, and I had at the back of my mind the old adage that the ‘enemy of my enemy is my friend’. Too many folks feel that life paths are set in stone. It is an error of thought.



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Oooo! Goose bumps were felt as I watched the trailer for the War of the Worlds played. I was surprised that the BBC had drawn inspiration for the Martians from the images derived from the 1970’s Jeff Waynes musical War of the Worlds. The actor Richard Burton narrated the story and he has a great voice. You can hear him still thanks to the database of the interweb thing: Forever Autumn / Thunderchild.(Justin Hayward)The War Of The Worlds in concert-Jeff Wayne

    I heard the music so often as a child it has burned its way into my memory. No doubt in a few decades time I’ll have dementia, but I’ll still know the melody and words, word and note by verse. Ah, I had no idea that Justin Hayward was the lead singer of the Moody Blues, well there you go, the musical version packed some serious ammunition – and looking at recent videos he hasn’t lost his touch or voice over the years. Proving that artists need to continue to practice their art regardless. One must not rest upon their laurels.

    Hehe! Yup that sure is a dramatic and unexpected change. Had to laugh, although DJ may take me to task for my brevity, but on the latest Cliff Mass blog entry I noted that: “What is more notable perhaps is Spokane, which beat its daily and month snow records with a snowfall of 1.9 inches.” Far out, that sure sounds pretty cold and snowy to me!!! 🙂 Hope he’s OK – although I note that he has gone to ground and possibly has other concerns today than commenting here? Covering your peppers was a great idea, and they’ll be fine (hopefully). Try bringing some of your green tomatoes inside and they’ll ripen on the kitchen bench. The rain may make them split and rot as fungi gets past the outer skin. The theory is that they’ve already developed their sugars.

    Someone once told me that a problem shared, is a problem halved, and they may be correct in that assertion. But that can’t explain how I’m now having troubles clearing the thought processes of your words describing your excreting matters!!! Hope you feel better soon. The stuff is like ingesting a bazooka in that it is non directional.

    Yeah, meat pies are a staple down here. When I was a kid, I used to enjoy a meat pie after playing under 13’s football. The game usually finished early so the meat pies were sometimes only luke warm, but what won’t kill you and all that. Even at luke warm temperatures the meat pie was enjoyable because the mist of cold winter moist air often hung over the green football field in those early hours so the winter conditions were hardly warm to begin with. My best football trophy was getting mud on my gear, but usually I went home clean because the team failed to win a single game – which is an impressive achievement. It takes a team to lose.

    Hopefully the machine doesn’t warp space, as that would be uncomfortable and nobody wants a spatial anomaly in their backyard! 🙂 However, it may indeed warp time, for that is in the nature of this particular machine. A neighbour has now spotted the machine this morning and we ended up having a good chat. I’d entirely forgotten about Mr Peabody’s Improbably History! But it all came back as I watched the clip of the Spanish explorer Ponce De Leon who was apparently searching for the fountain of youth. No doubt, he’d neglected to look behind the settee, or was it a day bed or feinting couch in those days? Not sure really, but the laughs were good. Thank you!

    Mud bricks can be made very cheaply using a small compacting machine that dare not cost as much as such a machine. Historically, the compression was often done by hand, and I’ve visited plenty of mud brick houses from the 1970’s that still seem in good nick to me. It was a bit of a thing down here back in the day, led by I believe the architect: Alistair Knox. I like the guys style and design sensibilities and he was largely self-taught.

    The ‘to read’ pile is large and groaning here too. I noticed chapter XXVIII flew past this morning, but alas work calls and things need to be done and bills need to be paid. Woe is me…

    It is possible and your explanation regarding Lot’s demise fits the facts. It hadn’t occurred to me but the ladies guards would have taken Lot’s signet ring for the child Arthur. Hadn’t thought about that factor. Anyway, it is not as if the Shaolin monks couldn’t throw a few punches and kicks if so required. There is a tendency for people to believe that these monastery types were all pacifists, but no, the orders would have varied wildly.

    A local musician who came to the notice of the world recently via the youth radio station that I listen to (Triple J) released an amusing video that shows me exactly what goes in your institution: TONES AND I – DANCE MONKEY. Funny stuff, and it is good that our government supports youth arts.



  3. Hi Nicola,

    Thanks very much for identifying the plant. Nice work!

    The local gardening club sells their seeds, so that is probably where it came from. Any plant that can self seed and produce early spring flowers is OK by me. The flowers are very cheery.



  4. Hello Chris
    I enjoyed the story and I particularly liked the travel photos. I am not sadistic so didn’t get a laugh at the thought of that syringe approaching you.
    Heard a conversation today between 2 men behind me in a post office queue. I turned around laughing and said did I hear ‘democracy’? An interesting conversation ensued. One of the men was from another part of the country and he said that a Brexit candidate would sweep the board in his area which was heavily brexit but a conservative candidate would fail due to past memories in the area. An interesting conundrum if an election ensues shortly.
    The property nearby which is a grand designs type, is still waiting to be finished, meanwhile water is pooling around it from the recent heavy rain.


  5. Hi Chris,

    I am looking forward to your identifying the mysterious machine and its purpose!

    It decided to stop raining here during September – well, not quite stop, but we did get less than normal rainfall, unlike the past several months. Margaret got the rain instead. We’ve also had warmer than normal temperatures most of the month, and are ending the month and beginning October with much above normal temperatures. In fact, a new record high of 95F/35.0C for the month of October may be set at St. Louis on Tuesday (the current record is 94F/34.4C).

    I’m not sure what is causing the autumn cabbage-family crops I’m growing to be eaten by some caterpillar I’ve never seen before, but that is what is happening. Possibly it’s related to the heat and dryness, as I had noticed the leaves recovering and growing again during periods of cooler weather. Since insects are cold-blooded, it makes sense that they would be less active in cooler weather. Fortunately it is supposed to cool down to average to a little below average highs by Thursday, and we may be lucky enough to get a good soaking rain by the weekend. That might give the crops the break they need to grow again. Fingers crossed!


  6. Yo, Chris – Maybe travel is more of a young person’s game? Besides all the financial reasons you mentioned, I think one also gets a grip on the stress involved in travel. Like looking for the next “comfort station.” :-). Portland to Seattle is a good solid three hour trip. Or, vice versa. When I lived in Seattle, I trod that path, many a time. In all weather. Got old, pretty fast.

    The Gap looks like eastern parts of our State. Nepal, like our mountains, here in the west. Both are startling views, that take your breath, away.

    “Outer fencing.” Sounds like outer bailey, inner bailey. Outer moat, inner moat. Jot this down in your book of future, possible blog topics. Barriers.

    Turning security doors into gates is a nice bit of recycling slight of hand. Gates can be expensive, and a good gate is really more complicated than they appear.

    I wonder if your broccoli will attract any particular pests? Here, any of the cruciferos family, attract the dreaded Cabbage butterfly. I see the dead white little blighters, frolicking in the garden. They are particularly adept at avoiding a good spray from a garden hose. But an occasional application of BT, seems to do wonders.

    I’m glad someone identified the pretty little plant. And it’s blue! :-). Might have to look into the availability, here. We have some hardy succulents here (usually, in rock gardens) but they seldom flower. Unless inside. Cont.

  7. Cont. I think I’ve heard that bit of music, before. Ah, the golden age of rock operas. The Tom Cruise version of “War of the Worlds” has a fleeing ferry boat, full of refugees. But the Martians capsize it. High drama.

    I had some tomatoes in a sunny window, for about a week. The color did nothing, and then they began to rot. Sigh. I’ll put some on the kitchen counter, and try a few wrapped in newspaper. Which is also supposed to work. We’ll see.

    My stomach seems to have settled down. I hope the doc takes me off the antibiotics, tomorrow.

    Why do it by hand, when you can buy a $20,000 machine? 🙂 Knox was an interesting architect. Use local materials. What a concept! :-).

    The music video was a lot of fun. It’s kine of a genre. Old people escaping from “care.”

    A fog came in and tempered the temperatures, a bit. Only got down to 36F (2.22C), last night. Tonight, however, it’s supposed to get down to 32F (-0-C). So, the weather did clear a bit, yesterday, early evening. I harvested the last of the green beans, and set aside the dry ones for next years seed. Cut down all the mature basil, and it’s spread on paper, all over the apartment. The place reeks! In a good way. Covered all the peppers, with plastic bags. Pulled them back this morning, and all appears fine. I’ll recover them, tonight. I also covered some immature basil. If it can just get over this little hump, we’ve got overnight lows, well above freezing, for at least a week. Baw Faw peak is socked in, so I don’t know if it snowed up there. Lew

  8. Hi Chris,

    That is a lovely photo of you pondering the view in Nepal, no doubt thinking very deep and insightful thoughts. Inquiring minds really want to know what lovely machine inspired you to drive on a 6 hour round trip (and sample a select range of delicious bakery products)? No doubt all will be revealed in good time.

    Oh my, international travel, climate change, house buying and the grand daddy of them all – Grand Designs. This weeks blog is like catnip for me 🙂 Lacking a Tibetan mountain range for inspiration, I don’t have much to add except a question. Would you do it all again?
    If you were to change something, what would it be?

    I have often remarked when asked that question, that no, of course I would not make the same life choices again. In said scenario, I would have the lived memories and experiences already, and repeating myself would be pointless. Some people become churlish at this point and say that I dodged the question. But what it turns out they are really fishing for, is if you have regrets. I say I don’t have regrets per se, but thoughts on decisions past gone can help guide future decisions. Or at least that is the theory. Mrs Damo says I over think it. And that I should exercise more. She is probably right.

    On that note, episode 4 of Grand Designs, was very grand. In fact, this whole season has been great. Kevin still has it, and do I detect a slight increase in his trolling levels? After 20 years, it must seem amazing to him that people, people who have no doubt watched his show extensively, still make the same mistakes time after time. Perhaps it is a metaphor for life itself. Grand Designs a philosophical lament on the human condition?

    Time to go, better get to work. I wake up at 5am most mornings now to beat Auckland traffic to the office. Now that is a decision I regret :-p


  9. @ Inge – I finished “A Visit to America,” and thoroughly enjoyed it. Full of that understated, 1930s, wry, British humor. I was disappointed that he didn’t make it up to Portland, or Seattle, but, as he often said, America is a big place and he only had 6 weeks. Next trip …

    He both criticized and praised America, in equal amounts. And what country (or, person for that matter) is entirely above criticism? I do have to say, in case anyone out there is thinking about reading the book, that he’s not (in the 20th century sense) very politically correct. Which doesn’t bother me a whit. That’s the way people spoke, at that time.

    I must also say, that I admired him, as, when he could escape his handlers, he would talk to just about anyone. No matter if high or low, he found all people equally interesting. Lew

  10. Chris,

    All is good here. Very good. The weather station finally had 7.5cm of snow on the ground. As that place is 100m higher elevation than I am, I was slightly below the snow level. It snowed a lot, but only roofs, car windshields and taller bushes had a dusting of snow. My wife and I simply hunkered down to enjoy one another after the carving show ended Sunday afternoon, then spent Monday running errands. Cold for September? Yes. Serious problems? Nope.

    I end up viewing the weather philosophically, much as I try to do anything else: it’s there, better adapt to it and move on with the changed situation. This was much less severe at my elevation than had been forecast: our lowest temperature was +1C. The wind made it feel cold, though.

    Coyotes never appear in the old Native American lore I’ve seen as any type of a companion. Rather, Coyote (note the capital “C”) is viewed as somewhat of a Trickster, and coyotes are viewed as being lesser versions of Coyote. (Different tribal traditions I’ve seen vary on this, but Coyote is typically a Trickster.) And, as seems to be true of coyotes, Coyote is never to be completely trusted, as Coyote always tries to get something out of any “deal”, even if it is nothing more than amusing himself at the cost of your embarrassment. The coyotes are always around, but are very skittish towards humans. And they seem much more adaptable to changing conditions than do wolves.

    Thanks for the article on the Tasmanian Tiger. What a wonderful animal that was. I fear that its current existence is similar to that of our Sasquatch: fuzzy pictures and no physical proof.

    I was happy with the red ribbon. That was my first walking stick, and I knew the technical shortcomings it would have with judges. I’ve been a judge’s assistant for 3 years now, meaning I take notes of what the judge says about each Novice level entry. It has been very educational!

    Those are nice photos from Murchison Gap. What a view! And it is good to see a photo of the elusive editor.

    The paths and terraces are looking good. One question: is Sardine Rock leaping out of the earth to escape Moby Rock?!?

    I’ve been Ollied? I’m glad I hadn’t just taken a sip of tea when I read that. Good one. Thordog, allegedly an Irish Wolfhound mix, was really an Escape Hound. He Ollied me a lot.


  11. @ Lew
    Thanks. Clearly I’ll have to get hold of the book and shall recommend it to my sister who has lived in the US for nearly 60 years.


  12. Hi Inge,

    Thanks and the vista presented by high altitude walks is unparalleled. At one point I looked down into a deep gorge (the deepest on the planet apparently) and noticed aircraft flying way down below. You don’t often see that. Have you ever been to that part of the world?

    Ah, I did not intend my comment that way, but you are correct. Schadenfreude is an emotion that tempts the will of the Gods!

    It is fascinating hearing and engaging in such conversations as you never quite know where the topics will lead. Yes, there may be quite a few changes in the guard, but elections will ultimately provide the numbers.

    Haha! The Grand Designs style folks in your area are following well trod formulae. Rain and Snow present complicated construction problems in your part of the world. Mind you we constructed this house during the wettest year in recorded history 2010 at 55 inches. It was challenging. What surprises me is that people can watch the show for almost two decades, then put their hand up and follow the same path. You have to admit that Kevin has tapped into a deeply rooted belief system? I’m guessing that people delude themselves and say: “This time it will be different”. What do you reckon is their core belief for putting themselves out there?



  13. Hi Claire,

    It is not in my nature to be secretive about the new machine, but I can’t tell you for the nonce! 🙂

    A break in the rain during such wet years is a relief, I hear you! How did your tomatoes end up? I’ve found they enjoy a bit of rain, but too much is a serious problem. The climate statistics for your city tell an interesting story, and I note that you too enjoy a very variable climate with extremes at either end of the temperature gauge.

    Out of curiosity, what does the caterpillar look like? The white cabbage moths produce sort of bright greenish grubs, and they can munch their way through Brassica species with the best of them. I’m almost certain I’ve inadvertently consumed a few of them… Ooops! Anyway, as you probably already know, Brassica species don’t really enjoy the hot weather. Fingers crossed for some cooler and drier weather for you.



  14. Hi Lewis,

    ‘Comfort station’ is a delightful old school way to phrase the building that allows us humans to excrete their soil additives. Hmm, I may not have mentioned it before, but years ago when I first started my own business I took on a job where the person neglected to provide access to a comfort station. It didn’t take much cracking of the sads + a touch of sulking ones socks off, to get access to a comfort station. Bonkers.

    Food can be a mixed blessing overseas, and in India everyone just wanted to feed me with the sort of food that they thought westerners ate – which was full of ghee (animal fats), when all I wanted was a simple bowl of well prepared mung beans (Dahl). It was a challenging place to eat and in the end I honed in on the fried rice dishes. But yeah, travel can be uncomfortable (thus proving I’m in league with the Hobbits) and can occasionally subject a person to some very nasty stomach bugs that leave you feeling like you’ve subscribed to some sort of survival of the fittest test. And there is always the dark question: What if there is no toilet? 😉

    Oh yeah, three hours in the car does my head in. Other people seem to enjoy the activity, so there must be something in it that I’m missing out on, but who knows what it is? When we travelled around this vast country, I could hack longer travel times, but there was rarely anything else that was calling upon my attention. After several months of that travel, we just wanted to go home.

    The gap was impressive and the photos from the eastern part of your state are bizarrely similar. Oh yeah, your alpine areas and Nepal are the whole next level. The highest altitude we walked to during the time was about 5,000m / 16500ft. I recall one day, we walked up hill for the entire day. As someone who lives on a flattish continent, the idea that a person could walk up hill all day long, is a foreign concept.

    The tip shop provides all manner of useful items that would otherwise be sent overseas and converted into scrap metal. It’s a bit of a shame because as the fictional character Publius Varrus may have noted, metal can be re-worked. The gates will turn out nicely, and one of the security doors has nice scroll work on it already.

    It is possible that the broccoli will attract cabbage moths and their ilk. I’ll be curious to hear what Claire has to say about her garden nemesis.

    Nicola did a very tidy job identifying the plant, and I now know the origin of the seed. The local gardening club sometimes offer free seeds to members, and that is probably how it became established here. Mate, some of the succulents and heads of the cacti die back during heavy frosts and/or snow, so they’re probably on the upper edge of their range here – which means no chance at all at your place.

    Rock Opera’s have down scaled a touch since those heady days. Nowadays I note that they are rock-umentaries. Or is that a rock-iograhpy? You’ve seen a few of those films recently. But would the film ‘Yesterday’ fall into such a category? Hmm, what to call the genre?

    Ouch! Sorry to hear the tomato inside the warm kitchen trick didn’t work out so well. And fungi is always a problem. Did you wash and dry them first? We keep them on a cloth towel and that absorbs the water off the skins.

    Glad to hear that your guts have settled down. An unpleasant experience.

    Mud bricks have been made by hand for a very long time. And he was an interesting and very well respected architect – who had something to say about buildings. I occasionally see some of his houses that he designed offered for sale, and years ago I used to attend a bi-annual mud brick house tour. It was a lot of fun poking around the houses and seeing how they were constructed, and how they’ve stood up to the test of time. Some of them were very contemporary looking indeed and steered well clear of the medieval heavy exposed timbers look that many aspire too.

    Mate, those folks just didn’t escape, they were a proper jail break and serious full on party time! Hehe!

    Ouch and brrr! This morning was the coldest morning in Melbourne for 35 years, and up here the temperature dropped overnight to 0’C / 32’F, so we’re running about the same – if you don’t look at the daytime temperatures. Yes, some smells are nicer than others and drying basil is a lovely smell. Looks like DJ scored some snow!



  15. Hi Damo,

    To be honest, I was probably wondering if I should eat a snickers bar or a mars bar, and then wash that down with a nip of the local rum. We made sure that we stocked up at whatever trading post that we happened to encounter along the walking path, and all of the goodies were brought in by donkey… The locations were bonkers remote. The coke bottles looked as though they’d enjoyed a long and distinguished linage. 😉

    Sorry. It’s not in my nature to be mysterious, but you shouldn’t ask, and I won’t tell – yet! 😉 Hehe!!!!

    Specifically written to lure you out of comment retirement! On a serious note, it’s like catnip for me too.

    You know, those sorts of questions can be described as a ‘loaded question’ – whatever that means. Without getting too philosophical, Lewis once mentioned to me that the Ancient Romans used to believe that rocks ended up where they did, because that is where they are. Lewis may correct me on my understanding of that matter, which is cool with me. Anyway, it’s a bit like that, so perhaps Mrs Damo is onto something with her observation that you’re over thinking the matter. But then regrets are unpleasant things to carry around with you, and who wants the weight of one of those? Perhaps Mrs Damo has not considered that aspect of the philosophical dimensions of the problem? Anyway, my head is spinning (Exorcist style) and I’m not yet even mildly feeling churlish. Hmmm. Spin… Spin… It’s getting a bit like a washing machine in there… Spin… Spin…

    It is possible that we could have moved to the country far earlier than we did, but then would we be the people that we are now? Not sure, and I really don’t know whether I personally would like to be someone else. And of course, the experiences that you enjoy (or otherwise) along this journey that is known as ‘life’ make you the person that you are, so yeah overall, you asked a tough question, and maybe I need to exercise some more as well (Mrs Damo to cast the deciding vote upon the matter)! 😉

    Oh yeah, the people in the show ignore Kevin’s friendly trolling at their peril. Like, why would you put yourself out there given the track record of the past two decades of shows? I’d call twenty years a statistically valid sample. Why do you reckon they do it? I recall one memorable episode where the accountant / builder stated for the record that: ‘There is no budget’. Well turns out there was. You’re probably spot on with the observation.



  16. Hi DJ,

    Glad to read that you’re OK and the snow wasn’t too challenging. 3 inches of snow is a good fall – and about what I scored in August. But still, it is really early for you to have snow at your place. Bonkers stuff.

    I mentioned to Damo that Lewis had proposed a stoic philosophy in regards to the Roman’s and their beliefs regarding rocks – and you likewise appear to have displayed a similarly stoic response. And windy cold weather is far more unpleasant than still cold weather. Oh yeah. My minimum threshold for sitting outside at the local cafe after picking up the mail – no, I should not tell un-truths: I went for a coffee! Anyway, the minimum is 6’C which is not so bad really, although to hear people complaining about it you’d think it was a worse temperature.

    Wow! Thanks very much for sharing your knowledge of the Coyotes. Interestingly, dingoes were companion animals to the indigenous folk down here, and I recall one mention that the dingoes mating proclivities were a source of both amusement and embarrassment for the indigenous folk. So the Coyote is the archetype trickster. Interesting, I’ll bet the canines featured in many stories?

    Western Tasmania is a vast wilderness, and it is hard to appreciate just how vast until you see it (take a peek on Google Earth if you dare), but people have been looking for Tasmanian Tigers down there for many decades, so I reckon they’re done for. The government back in the day put a tidy bounty on pelts of the tiger and that was the final straw. They once used to live on the mainland, but the dingoes displaced them.

    The red ribbon was a good score, and for your first walking stick too. Were you inspired by any of the other entries or exhibits? And did you purchase any creations?

    The view from the gap was pretty amazing. I snuck in the distant photo of the editor – with permission. For some reason, she has no desire to be seen on the interweb, and I don’t push the issue.

    Oh my! I’d never thought about the sardine escaping from the whale. I saw some Japanese propaganda a few years back about a claim that whales eat fish, so perhaps the sardine was in fear of its life? Who’d have thought the whales had given up on krill?

    Ouch and nobody wants to be Thordogged either… 🙂 If that is indeed such a thing, which I believe it may be.



  17. Hello again
    No I have never been to Nepal or India etc. However a family member visiting Nepal had the experience of being stuck in a garage fighting off rape. She managed to get the garage door up sufficiently to roll out underneath it. Almost the entire village was standing outside no doubt alerted by the noise. They grabbed the man and asked her if she wanted him killed! Er, no.
    However she believed from later sounds off, that he was given a beating.
    I believe that the grand designs man is in a lot of trouble according to the press. He started to build an estate and appears to be unable to finish it. I think that he may have been selling off plan.
    As to individuals who try to build one of these properties, I really don’t believe that they think at all beyond ‘I want this and it will be great’.


  18. Yo, Chris – I think I prefer “bog.” :-). On our interstate highway system, we have frequent “road side rest areas.” I think there’s two, between here and Portland. Ditto, between here and Seattle. Stop and stretch your legs and take care of other things. Usually, there’s a few vending machines and a place to walk a dog.

    Rock-umentary sounds about right. Sometimes called music bios. I think the difference is, where ever the music is performed, it’s got a good reason. No breaking into song and dance, at the drop of a hat, for no good reason. Hmmm. I think I’d like to see “Tommy”, again. Wonder if the library has a copy?

    Well, it’s about 7:30 am. The sun is just peaking over the horizon. And, it’s currently 32F (-0-C). Yup, that was our overnight low, and yes, we got a light frost. I was just out to check the garden. There was a drop hanging off a tomato plant, and it was a little nugget of ice. Wonder if they’ll turn black, later in the day. Supposed to be 5 degrees warmer, tonight, and even warmer, nights, after that.

    I heated up the truck, while I was out. Cleared the windows. I’m to nip over to the doc’s, in about an hour. Roads look fine. Traffic zipping about.

    I see a huge chunk of the Amery Ice Shelf, in Antarctica, just set sail. 631 (not 630, not 632) square miles. Lew

  19. Hi Chris,

    The mysterious caterpillar is definitely not the bright green cabbage worm that becomes the white cabbage butterfly. There are a few of those too, but nowhere near as many as the other caterpillar. The destructive one is between 1/4 and 1/2 inch long, uniform thickness, white head, and body of green, white, and black stripes. I need to look it up on the web as I don’t have a good garden pest book. Probably need a book like that too.

    The St. Louis office of the national weather service posted this morning on their web site that the September just ended set a new record for the highest average temperature for September at 77.8F / 25.4C, compared to the normal value of 70.4F / 21.3C. This is not the sort of September that cabbage family crops prefer, to put it mildly.


  20. Hi Chris,

    Pondering what to eat next is perhaps as deep as thoughts should go! For the record, a nip of rum first would ease the decision process, terrific view or not.

    On a somewhat related note, Mrs Damo and I just did our quarterly budget review. The results are in: paying down a student loan, a trip to Costa Rica, medical bills for Mrs Damo and living in one of the worlds more expensive cities all on one income is not conductive to a high a rate of saving, let alone the ownership of property. Rather than get stressed over the inability to both have and eat ones cake, we took the time to talk over and reevaluate options, confirm our course and speed and move on. I wouldn’t mind some chickens though, so we decided the next job I take will be one with minimal travel (However, in a twist that will probably shock no one who knows me, the next job may well be a significant distance from where we are now).

    Unfortunately, despite popular opinion to the contrary, simply cutting out the travel doesn’t equal being able to afford property anymore. The only people of my generation I know who own, have dual-salary incomes along with a generous assistance package from the bank of mum and dad. “Not worth it” comes to mind, but the nesting instinct is strong, and understandable.

    Thankfully, I can drown my sorrows at the gross unfairness of it all in a month or so. On the weekend I put a batch of my special stout recipe on, and racked the orange wine I made (your recipe) a couple of months ago. Plus, come Xmas, the plum wine from summer 2017 should be ready! For sure, it is an exciting time to be alive. There is always a silver lining, as long you don’t get hung up on the sky being blue or water being wet.

    In weather related news, if you ever decide you want more water. Consider a move to Auckland. It seriously rained *every* day during August. The water tanks have being overflowing for months and our clay based yard has being “squidgy” since May.


  21. Hi Inge, Claire, Lewis and Damo,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however due to historically unprecedented low official interest rates, I now declare the mid-week hiatus, and, um, yeah, something, something, about fools and their money…



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Bog is not bad at all, but the word brings to mind dark pools of still looking water full of unidentified organic materials and possibly strange life forms that may reach out if ever you turned your back on the pool. No doubts that the legendary Bunyips have frequented such murky pools of inky darkness, and they probably pack a serious punch – or more likely bite. Marsupials have extraordinarily strong jaws.

    Thus proving things are strange down here, oooo, and before I forget I read this delightful story this morning and thought you’d enjoy it: When a space visitor came to country Victoria. A beautifully told story. 😉

    Such facilities are in place down here too, although they’re only regularly seen in this state. In other states, the distances are too far and the population often spread too thinly to financially support such facilities. Way up in the very remote north west, the best you’ll get is a road house every 200km (120 miles). Now I can hear the Doors: “Goin’ to a roadhouse, goin’ to get a mee-al”.

    This talk of breaking into spontaneous song and dance puts me in mind of Bollywood films. Oh yeah, it’s happening alright!

    Mate, the worm has turned – and rather rapidly too. It’s cold in your part of the world and down here today was a sunny 78’F. The trees in the orchard have grown today and buds are bursting on every limb. And tonight I spotted the most enormous huntsman spider sitting on a bollard – fortunately the arachnid had the good sense to stay well away from the house.

    Good luck with the doc visit. How was the prognosis? Hope you’re doing OK mate.

    I spotted the huge chunk of ice breaking free of the Antarctic. It has been many decades since anything that large has broken away, and I suspect it will allow warmer water to get closer to the land. That one is big. The footage was amazing, but also contributing to the problem…

    PS: Had chicken taco’s this evening for dinner and they were beyond good. They were soft shell taco’s and full of salad veg which was a superb fresh mix, and the chicken was cooked southern fried style and there was only a few chunks in the taco, but that was all that was needed!



  23. Hi Chris,
    What a lovely view. Can’t wait until you divulge what kind of machine you bought. I am hoping that my daughter and boyfriend come to the same conclusion about travel that you and the editor did. They had their first costly repair since purchasing a home about six weeks ago. Doug and I did very little traveling when we were younger except for a few years when Doug racked up tons of airline miles and hotel points which are now gone. We are leaving in a few weeks on a road trip which unlike all our other trips is only loosely planned. We had to wait until the pigs are gone and processed before we could leave. Today is pig loading day (which will commence momentarily). Doug has gotten another guy to help as I told him I wanted to play a lessor role this year. Just to add to the fun it rained another 2.5 inches last night and this morning. We ended up with 13 inches of rain for September – more than 3 times normal. Average rainfall for October is about 3.25 inches so we’ve had half of our October rainfall in the last 12 hours.

    What a camera hound that Ollie is. It’s definitely beginning to look spring like at your place.


  24. Yo, Chris – Given the slope you live on, I figure the machine you bought was a funicular :-). Probably surplus from a ski area. More likely, a tractor. Here, it’s John Deere, or nothing. There are collectors …

    That was a delightful story about the meteorite. The pictures of Murchison was of a very pretty area. Amazing that they are full of organic compounds.

    The doc was happy with the progress on the back. Kept praising me for doing a good job. To such an extent, that I thought she was going to offer me a lolly. :-). She sent a sample of the infection, to a lab, and it’s nothing to worry about. No flesh eating bacteria. Off the antibiotics and have a long shopping list of things to buy, tonight, to restore gut flora. But, I’m to keep it bandaged for a few more days, and keep applying heat.

    The chicken tacos sound very good. Many families have family recipes for Southern Fried chicken. I think there are competitions. I’ll stick with The Colonel. Never buy the stuff, myself, but am always happy to see it show up at a potluck.

    34F(1.11C) last night, and as the rain is coming back, overnight lows will get progressively warmer. Peppers and tomatoes appear to be ok. Prof. Mass is being hounded, again. Interesting and sad post, on his blog. Lew

  25. Chris,

    That was way too early for a winter storm. Supposed to be 20C on Monday. I can live with that. Frost the past 2 mornings, but things are warming up.

    I’ve been known to sit outside in cold weather – dressed appropriately and if I’m in the sun out of the wind. There may still be some photos of me somewhere sitting at -20C. But I was younger and dumber and outside a lot more than I am now. And sitting in the sun.

    Good guess regarding Coyote stories. We’ve got a book “American Indian Myths and Legends” by Erdoes and Ortiz. There’s a section of Coyote stories from various tribes. It seems that many of the tribes that were west of the Mississippi River circa 1800 had Coyote myths, some even into northern Canada. Tricksters were in every culture, it seems.

    What we purchased at the show were various pieces of wood for future projects. There’s always a raffle, so we bought tickets. My wife won some books – novels, not about carving. She’ll probably donate them to a senior center at one of the local Indian Reservations.

    Sardines, krill, it’s all protein, right? Might as well eat Jonah while the whale is feeding and see what happens.

    Thordogged, Ollied, yes, those are very good technical terms to describe what dogs do.

    It is my wife’s annual “Sisters Weekend”. She and sisters and friends and other relatives attend a Native basketry conference and take a lot of classes and have a lot of fun. I’m always excited to see what she made during the event.


  26. Hi everyone!

    As is my usual habit, the mid-week hiatus extends into today, but tomorrow should be totally sweet and free of obligations. Except all the work that needs doing. There’s a lot of that.

    PS: Didn’t finish the excavations today as the sun was scorching my brain this afternoon. No point cooking my head out in the hot sun. Thought it was hot, Melbourne got to 86’F / 30’C… Oh well.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, well, there’s no news on the machine front, so there’s no news here about it either. The weather does my head in, today was 86’F and tomorrow looks set to only reach 59’F. And daylight savings changeover kicks in on Saturday evening, and I lose an hour. The hour was obviously a bit loose in the first place to have gone missing in action. Hope someone finds it, because the patterns are definitely wrong when one loses an hour of sleep! 😉 Anyway, we bit the bullet and got up an hour earlier this morning (a pre-emptive strike upon the lost hour) and at least that had the added side benefit of getting into an earlier work day in the cool of the morning.

    Work plans today were less loose than this dratted daylight savings business and you may recall lots of big talk about completing excavations on the upper garden terrace in only a single day. Well, the talk was big and err, yeah, we didn’t finish that job. The path up above the house leading away from the terrace project however has extended massively and further than what was anticipated. The excavated soil was used to fill in a very deep undulation in the path – creating a bridge so to speak.

    The lost hour didn’t turn up during today’s earthworks. Not fair. Funicular and tractor are good guesses, but no cigar. 🙂 I did consider a cable winch arrangement, but readily available winches have cables that don’t generally travel that far.

    It was an awesome story wasn’t it? I loved how the town got together to hunt out the meteorite fragments, and the off gassing organic compounds is a fascinating find with perhaps deep time implications. An amazing form of interstellar travel. The town is very attractive and there are plenty of towns that retain their original appearance. The big box shops are really only economical in the big smoke or a few large rural towns, so small towns were largely overlooked and have retained a similar appearance and function. Down here the population largely clusters around the big smoke. Just for an example, there is only one other city in the state that has a population larger than Spokane, and that is Geelong – which has a good rail connection to the big smoke so there is debate as to whether it is an outlying satellite city? Dunno. It’s quiet down here – thus denoting how an hour could disappear and few take note! 😉

    Great news about your back. The infection sounded like a bit of a worry, so being not much to worry about is about the best news you could get. Fermented foods and leafy greens will do wonders for your gut. Maybe an apple core? What did you end up consuming?

    Fair enough, I haven’t eaten the stuff for years, but I have very fond memories of the three bean salad that the mob used to sell. Did I mention that the three bean salad is a fermented food product? 🙂 Hey, the chicken was breast meat and it was cut into small chunks and then deep fried – perhaps with some sort of batter. The taco was mostly vegetable product, but the stuff was fresh. The last Mexican meal I ate at another restaurant, the food wasn’t off, it was just stale – so I was pretty unhappy about that, but what doesn’t kill you and all that. I didn’t complain, I just haven’t been back since, so it is nice to get quality taco’s somewhere else.

    I feel for the bloke. The problem I’m guessing with Universities and Colleges is not good. When I attended, I recall speaking with a lecturer who remarked that they came under pressure from students who had only just failed their subject. The lecturer added the pithy observation that they’d failed over half their course work. Apparently they often pulled the: ‘we’re fee paying students’ card as if somehow the customer is somehow always right. Not so. I reckon it’s the same story, and I have no free speech down here, so I have to be very careful as to what I say.



  28. Hi, Chris!

    Three hours, one way, is a very long day trip. What a beautiful scene was the Thousand Hills on your return trip. I think they must be counting every little fold as a hill. It may not be as majestic as Nepal, but it certainly has its own charm.

    Haven’t we all come up with grand schemes that we were so optimistic and excited about, only later too find out that the cost and time spent were too much. Sometimes we paid the price by having to give it up, sometimes we just paid the price. I consider having learned those lessons – I hope – to be one of the rewards of getting older.

    The Taj Mahal fellow – well, he was probably using someone else’s money and maybe that’s why he had family troubles. They probably considered that he was using up all their inheritance, besides neglecting them for his monument building.

    It would be fun to see your property from the air – say by parrot camera, except that then you’d probably just see close-ups of fruit . . . It is the paths that I am thinking of; what a pattern they would make. You and the editor are geniuses at creating flat surfaces.

    A sardine it is! Rocks: They’re there; if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.

    Look at you all bundled up. It was 95F (35C) here yesterday.

    I can’t believe all of those salad greens. Have you had to water them (see 95F above and guess what I do every day)? Real broccoli – how wonderful. We can’t grow brassicas here in the spring/summer without mosquito netting. This fall we are having some pretty good luck without any covers. We have none of the usual cabbage worms, but there is something tiny that I can’t find that seems to be mining the leaves, but the damage is minimal.

    Are the hellebore wildflowers? Nothing seems to go on like the echiums.

    As for secret machines – I am bracing myself as I probably won’t be able to resist telling my son about it, and you know what happens after that . . .


  29. @ Damo:

    This is so funny: “I say I don’t have regrets per se, but thoughts on decisions past gone can help guide future decisions. Or at least that is the theory. Mrs Damo says I over think it. And that I should exercise more. She is probably right.”


  30. Yo, Chris – We’ll be picking up your hour, from the dock, toward the end of the month. :-). They’re packing it onto a cargo steamer.

    Not so much mission creep, as unexpected events. If you want the gods to laugh, make plans. Sooner or later, it will all be done, to your satisfaction.

    I picked up a lot of stuff with live cultures. Sour cream, yogurt and blue cheese. I also picked up some sauerkraut (and, some real good polish sausage). There are several Japanese things I could try (miso, etc.) but they’re pretty expensive. Night before last, just from what I had on hand, I did some rice and pickles, with a dash of soy sauce. And a bit of swiss cheese, later on. A lot of this stuff I’ve been eating on whole grain crackers. Early days, but there are signs (Signs! Miracles! Wonders!) that things are getting back on track.

    I watched the new Spider Man movie, last night. “Far From Home.” I’m not really a fan, but the trailer looked interesting. Entertaining, but aimed at frustrated, powerless adolescent boys. Speaking of trailers, there seems to be several WWI movies, hitting the theaters or small screens. Saw another trailer for “1917.”

    I went out to do a quick slug check, at 2am, last night. Much to my surprise, there was a very warm wind, coming from the SE. Temp was 50F (10C). My corn was whipping about, so I ended up tying more of it down, higher up. Luckily, there’s a street light, close to the gardens. Gusts were up to 25mph.

    I see your prime minister has been dragged into our political drama. If he’s your current prime minister. To paraphrase Dorothy, “People come and go so quickly, in Oz.” :-). Lew

  31. Hi Inge,

    Thanks as always for mentioning the blog, I’m unable to keep up with such a rapid pace and appreciate you identifying essays relating to my local story. I can’t argue with the author’s observations and he displays fine perspicacity. It’s a bonkers situation and I have no doubts that in many years to come it will make a fine story as to how we collectively decided to lose the plot and achieve an income without first earning it.

    The other day I spotted a really interesting article which may touch upon my own experience at facing the recession ‘we had to have’ back in the early 90’s as a young bloke. Now where is the article… … Learning to drive and other reasons why we put the brakes on spending. Economists may believe that their field of study is all about money and stuff, however at its core, it’s about people.

    Far out! Not good at all, and I do hope your family member came through the ordeal physically and mentally unscathed? You know cultures are different, and when we were in India and Nepal (to a lesser extent) I always accompanied the editor whenever she wanted to go for a walk and see the sights. It would have been very unwise for her personal safety not to have done so. In densely packed places I often feel a sense of sensory overload, but eventually I acclimatised and even adjusted to the blaring Hindi music which is a ubiquitous part of the travel experience over there.

    Ouch. The claims in the articles I read suggested that Kevin had taken his eye off the ball with those businesses. Not good for the investors. You could add to the litany of good advice along the lines of: ‘If it seems too good to be true, it probably is’, the advice: ‘Beware celebrity promoters’. 😉

    I can’t argue with you as that sounds right to me. Plenty of people have drained the coffers of their treasuries (no matter how modest) by trying to make their mark. I guess taking your observation into account, such people tend to not even consider the status of the treasury in the first place? Do you believe that is the case here?



  32. Hi Claire,

    Oh my! Who would have thought that there were such a huge number and variety of caterpillars? Have you identified the caterpillar? Based on your description, my best guess is the Adirondack Butterfly. Here is an article on them: Butterflies of the Adirondacks. If it’s a Monarch butterfly, I reckon it’s a worthy consumer of your Brassica species – although they normally dine upon milkweed. I have this strange feeling that I’ve inadvertently consumed a few of those bright green cabbage moth caterpillars in salads over the years… Oh well, it’s probably a good source of protein.

    Weather records have been broken down this way too, although so far in my little corner of the continent, it has been sort of normal with a dash of slightly warmer than expected conditions. With the sort of mild winters I get, I plant Brassica species in Autumn and then they germinate and grow a bit. Do nothing at all over Winter other than provide fresh leafy greens. But in Spring, they just kick off and grow.

    Yesterday after an early start and a long day of excavations, I had a hot bath in the late afternoon and looked out into the forest and saw the sun glinting off hundreds of flying insects. It was mesmerising and I even spotted a few insects that looked like huge fat bumblebees. There were also a few early moths and whole bunch of flying ants.



  33. Hi Damo,

    Absolutely, and wars have been fought over such simple matters as: Snickers or Mars bar – which to choose? After a long days walking, and inevitably uphill, such a treat was a real gem. And that was about the stage I realised how little a person needs to appreciate the finer things in life – like a chocolate and peanut combination snack. And the local rum was a pretty good drop, and they sold it in little hip flask sized glass containers (which were collected, cleaned and refilled). A few nips, a bite of chocolate, and all was again good with the world. People seek fulfilment – well it is to be found in the small things in life.

    Yes, I have read that the ATO is quite effective at chasing student loans from people living abroad. There are apparently data swapping activities going on with other countries. Who’d have thunk it? I’m amazed at the proficiency with which that activity can be achieved when taxing multi-national digital corporations is proving to be a headache.

    Damo, I’m going to cut straight through the BS and peer into my crystal ball and speak to you of what is found in there. It’s murky. And there’s a lot of mist – possibly due to the really wet weather you’re having (sucks to be you! Hehe!) Hmm. Hmm. Six months from now, you will be… Elsewhere!

    Well, yeah, the property story is a story about inflation. It goes something like this: If we all look really hard and try not to notice, and if we put a few dairy farmers out of business, we can keep the cost of dairy products down to way cheap levels, and that keeps the lid on inflation. But if house prices rise, everyone is cool with the unearned income from that process, unless you’re not in the game. Mate, give a man a KPI (key performance indicator) and the first thing they may attempt is to game the index.

    I’m genuinely impressed, and what are you first impressions of the taste of the orange wine (the editor is most curious about this flavour and had never thought to try it)? We’ve made millet beer, which was quite good, but pray tell, what is your special stout like and how do you produce it? And plum wine ages pretty well in 12 months, so the summer 2017 stuff is probably ready to go. If it’s a bit dry, you can always add a bit more sugar and a touch of yeast. Who says that the sky is blue? I’ve always believed it to be cobalt! Hehe!

    Well yeah, a mate from NZ jokes that if it hasn’t rained for 3 weeks, a drought is declared. Try 3 months with no rain and seriously hot days, and then they’ll know true fear. Actually and on a serious note, I’ve read and also heard anecdotal accounts that farm dams and stored water are not part of the NZ experience. That strategy works until it doesn’t.



  34. Hi Margaret,

    The views in Nepal are epic, and as someone who lives on a reasonably flattish continent, it defied my imagination. The Murchison gap was an amazing view too. A mate of mine flew down from the north east coast of this continent recently and he remarked to me how the country was very dry until the plane flew over the state of Victoria and then it suddenly greened up. There’s a mountain range which begins to the west of here and then runs all the way up along the east coast of the continent: Great Dividing Range. It’s like a giant continent sized mountain squoosh. The Macedon Range of which the farm sits high upon a spur, is part of the larger mountain range which is the third longest in the world. Some of the photos in the link are pretty cool.

    Yesterday I dropped by the farm machine repair shop where the machine now resides. The shop has only just moved to larger premises and a bloke in the shop showed me all the machines waiting patiently to be repaired. The recent move has put them rather behind schedule… Adjustments will have to made here in order to house the beast.

    Ouch. Even new homes require maintenance and repairs, and such is part of the deal. Out of curiosity, what broke that required large repairs? Incidentally, purchasing a house together for them displays signs of larger commitments. 🙂 I’m unsure how Doug feels about the situation, but travel for work was for me a necessary evil, and the folks bestowing the evil deed upon me often told me what a privilege it was. I was and remain unconvinced.

    Nice one and loose plans can often produce delights of spontaneity. Hope you enjoy the travel. And I hear you about the pigs and the processing of them. Tending animals ties you to the land doesn’t it? Those are awful weather conditions with which you had to get the pigs onto the trailer and glad that you got someone else in to assist. Far out, you’ve had an epic amount of rain for September, and bear in mind I’m happy with anywhere between 2 and 4 inches of rain per month. Any less is as much of a problem as a whole bunch more of rain. How is the soil coping with so much rainfall?

    Ollie follows me around the place. He’s my shadow, so he pushes his way into most photos. And now he even sits and poses for photos without being asked to do so. It’s uncanny, but also rather sweet. Spring has definitely sprung! Are you seeing fall at your place?



  35. Hi DJ,

    I was thinking that too about your early winter storm. One hopes that it is not a sign of things to come? Does the weather bureau in your part of the world provide long range forecasts? I watched one today for the next three months and I can’t say that I was excited about what I saw (i.e. more hot and dry weather). Weatherpulse – Climate Update October 2019

    In such extreme cold situations Confucius says: “Man who sits on rock in -20’C weather, notes that bottom sticks to rock”, although I’m frankly uncertain as to what the long dead bloke was going on about!

    The role of the trickster I feel was to keep the group from becoming complacent. Traditionally, I feel that it is an important role. I’ve been thinking about that story recently written by a mate and all of the characters were ever so earnest. Where art thou artful dodger character?

    What a great idea – purchasing materials for future creations. Do any of the materials suggest to you what should be their potential? I’m only thinking that because today I broke up an epic shelf of rock using a rotary hammer drill and the jackhammer and it produced some rocks which I intuitively knew where they’ll go over the next week. Tomorrow I expect to get a few more rocks out of the rich vein, although it is very hard work breaking up large rocks.

    Top idea with the books. I have to review the book shelves this summer. Some books need to go, but plenty more need to stay. And space is always tight. And what with book recommendations here…

    Yup, girlies need girly time to do girly business – and best you don’t get involved! Anyway, that’s my take on matters. What did your lady create during the event?

    Later this month, I plan to have a large-ish (for me anyway) group of people up here for lunch and to also have a guided wander around the place. I rarely open the place, and generally then it is only for people I know well. Overall though, I too enjoy the get togethers.



  36. Hi Pam,

    I’m glad that you too think so about the length of time of the journey. Sometimes I get the distinct impression that long car journeys in your country are considered the ‘norm’ and I’m never sure what to make of that.

    Hehe! Yup, the folks who named that collection of mountains never let the truth get in the way of a good story! But it’s a good name all the same. I don’t doubt that back in those days, the mountains were bigger, but the personalities that lived in them were biggerer again. 😉

    Age does lend both perspective and wisdom. And I reckon nothing teaches a person better than a complete and utter flop, and then having to slowly pick themselves up and get back on with life. Giving up is a price isn’t it? It’s not so bad really, because then I reckon a person learns limits.

    Oh yeah, I have no intimate knowledge of the finances of that particular kingdom, but far out there are precious stones inlaid in the walls of the building, so I just had this gut feeling that the coffers were drained in order to construct the building. Such activities would annoy the daylights out of me.

    Hehe! Parrot camera – cool! Once a path is in place, it gets used and the spaces around the path open up.

    Earlier today I broke up part of a shelf of thick rock. I’m beginning to wonder if the recent excavations haven’t produced a sort of profligate mindset as to the expenditure of rocks. And despite the rock bonanza, there might be more projects than rocks… Peak Rocks is only ever just around the corner again.

    Yesterday was 86’F / 30’C and today it was cloudy and 59’F / 15’C. It even rained late this afternoon. My head is spinning with the changes in temperature.

    Nope. So far I haven’t had to water any plants, and they’re all just getting by on rainfall – and I’m retaining water for summer. Of course, I’ve been selecting for hardy plants for many years. Most of the vegetables that we consume as a society are selected from varieties that do really well on fertile river flats. Now if you don’t have access to fertile river flats, you have to get creative with seed saving and plant breeding. There is a little secret about the Brassica’s where I have the advantage over your part of the world. I plant them in autumn, they over winter (surviving the occasional snowfall and frost), and by early spring, they just grow and have gotten a solid head start. It is possible you could try such a thing, but you might need a cold frame to protect them from your winter weather? Maybe? The cabbage moth don’t appear until late spring / early summer.

    Not sure about the Hellebores, but they love shady and dry conditions. The Echiums are feral, and they’re related to Patterson’s curse. Note that the particular plant was not described as Patterson’s boon?

    Well actually and not joking around – you started it! Seriously, I’d just had a ginger wine and I read your comment about your sons machine, and then took a look around the interweb and made a discovery – no, it is not a tractor.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    It is nice that the missing hour has ended up in safe hands, and I trust that you’ve read the fine print in the contract which specifies its return again come April? Such an elegant mode of choice with which the lost hour should travel to your lovely part of the world. There is something to be said about slow travel by train or ship. For one you get the time to adjust to your surroundings. Aircraft travel can be dislocating, and I really hate the feelings that come with jet lag and felt it badly only once on the flight from here to South America. Most of my other travel has stayed more or less within this range of time zones.

    Mind you, my concerns about jet lag were nothing as compared to our hero’s concerns in chapter XXX. Not good at all, and I did mention to you that attempting to rescue Mordechai was a bad idea which wouldn’t end well. And now the proof is in the pudding so to speak. I’ll be curious as to Lucanus’s reaction to the news. It may endow Merlyn with a sense of ferlessness and recklessness that he otherwise may not have had. Sometimes dead men walking can be fearsome foes.

    Hehe! Yup, the Gods are having a good laugh and perhaps just a minor touch of respect for the attempt. Put in another five hours today and the project and gotten close to finishing, but close is not even ‘good enough’ in this particular case. As would be expected a huge rock was unearthed and moved. But I also tackled a shelf of thick flattish rock (shown in an image over the past week or so) and produced four large pieces from it. Being square edged and thick, these are very useful rocks. Another hour or so work tomorrow will produce another four rocks (I’m guessing) from the thick rock shelf. At least that is the plan.

    Sour cream is a great idea, and one I never would have considered for your purpose. I like the taste of sour cream – and it is a secret ingredient of the muffins that I so like. Yoghurt is good, but this talk of blue cheese (I’m squirmish, but freely admit that it would be full of fungi and bacteria) leaves me feeling uncomfortable. Polish sausage is very tasty. I applaud your good sense and excellent taste, and am glad that there are early signs as to improvement in your gut.

    This daylight savings thing is doing my head in – and mornings are never good at the best of times. Your mention of yoghurt jogged the memory (which was frankly hazy in the wee hours of the morning yesterday) about what I did to the yoghurt. So, at some ridiculous hour of the morning this morning I went to make another batch of yoghurt. But whereeverforartthou was the old batch of yoghurt? Turns out the previous morning, likewise at some godsforsaken time, I’d put the yoghurt back not into the refrigerator, but the freezer. The yoghurt had frozen solid over the course of the day, and so I had to ever so slowly thaw it out on the kitchen bench. You can’t speed up the thawing out process otherwise other bacteria like the dreaded acetobacterium will take over the batch if the temperature rises too fast. Duh! I guess it was better than inadvertently placing the yoghurt in the cupboard…

    Yeah, the film is probably not for me either. Hey, Zombieland 2 is due for release on 17th October down here. It’s gotta be better than the other zombie film that dare not have its name mentioned? Looks like 1917 may definitively have had a bullet budget, and it sure was a big budget. I liked the bi-plane crashing into the barn and the two heroes trying to out-run it. Hmm, yup Europe has always been a lot of trouble on that front.

    Are you getting many slugs now that the weather has cooled? Quick thinking with tying up the corn stalks. How are the cobs going? I looked out the window yesterday as the sun set, and the air was full of flying insects, and the setting sun glinted off them. The dark backdrop of the forest only served to make the scattering light from their wings look like the late afternoon air was full of flying insect sparkles.

    Dorothy was indeed correct – there sure has been a whole bunch of them, but I feel the population has had a gut full of that, and procedures in the two main political parties have altered to ensure that it does not happen again. I just can’t understand what is wrong with asking us lot down here for official assistance in the matter. My understanding is that we were tied up in the original claims somehow, although the details are a bit hazy. I fail to see the outrage in the media, because your official investigation spent two years, spent a whole bunch of mad cash and found nothing. To continue the story indicates to me a certain sort of unpleasant madness has crept in – and it wasn’t accidentally placing the yoghurt in the freezer style of madness. 😉 The main problem with bringing official processes into question, is that it undermines the credibility of all official processes in the mind of the populace. It is a serious error to pursue this strategy.



  38. Chris:

    You only have peak rocks because you use so many . . . Then again, I am not sure that there is such a thing as peak rocks; they do migrate upward here from apparently the depths of the earth. No matter how many we pick up, ever more appear.

    It is slightly possible that we might overwinter broccoli plants in a cold frame, but since it can get down to 0’F here in the winter, that’s iffy. Then the cabbage moths would just show up in the very early spring and eat them anyway. We need a bird that just loves cabbage moth dinners.

    Oh – charades! It is not a tractor . . .


  39. Hi Pam,

    Oh yes, rocks do float to the surface here. It’s like getting a birthday present one of those. Unless the mower hits it first and blunts the blade. Do you sort out your rocks into the various uses they can be put to around your place?

    Ouch. I have no experience with such cold weather. I’m honestly not even sure whether a proper heated poly tunnel would go in such conditions. The old timer hill station gardens used to keep glass houses with heaters in them, but I suspect winters up this way were actually colder back then.

    Nope, definitely not a tractor. 🙂



  40. Hi Chris,

    No, definitely not monarch butterfly caterpillars; I’ve seen them and they are much larger than the ones that are eating the brassica leaves, plus they only eat milkweed which I grow some of. Plus the stripes on the destructive caterpillars are along the caterpillars’ lengths, not their widths.

    I do see monarch butterflies fluttering through the yard, especially around this time of year as they migrate to warmer climes for the winter. A couple of weeks ago I found a monarch chrysalis on a corn leaf as I was harvesting corn. I hung that part of the leaf over the top of a jar so the chrysalis stayed upright and left it on the back porch to develop. A few days later Mike saw the butterfly emerging! I took it outside and let the butterfly climb onto a shrub stem to finish developing. That was the first time I’ve watched the process.

    We had Pam’s weather earlier in the week; 94F on Tuesday, 93F on Wednesday. Yesterday was the day the cold front came through so the temperature dropped through the day. Today the predicted high is 68F, a little below normal for this time of year. I welcome the change. And thanks for sending that lost hour back to us! I look forward to its return.

    I’ll be starting to water the brassica bed and also the leeks, beets, and carrots later today. It hasn’t rained in too long and the topsoil is getting pretty dry after the September heat. The subsoil is still moist from the rains before September however and so no drought here.


  41. @ Pam – BT for the cabbage moths. It’s organic. Kept the bugs off my sprouts (and, worms out of my corn.)

    Leaf miner thrips. You might check out Seabright blue, sticky blue thrip traps. They don’t cost much. I think they helped, this year. Probably would have been more effective, if I had discovered them earlier. They sure caught a lot of bugs, and I haven’t seen them catch any beneficial insects. The company also makes a lot of other organic deterrents. Lew

  42. Yo, Chris – Oh, we’ll return the hour, not too the worse for wear. Of course, if there are problems, real or perceived, as per the contract, clause 34, sub paragraph 34-C, litigation won’t be possible. It will have to go to arbitration. Lengthy, expensive, and weighted in our favor :-).

    Oh, I think Lucanus pretty much thinks, no reason to panic. Too early to tell, and it could be any number of things. Heck, could be the stuff I have … vitilago (sp?) I’ve been having the same symptoms as Merlin, since I was 12, and no one shipped me off to a leper colony. :-).

    Too bad it isn’t early days, in Australia. You could take on a couple of burly transportees. Have them breaking rock for five years, at the cost of a yearly suit of clothes and the occasional wombat, for tucker. :-).

    I had the blue cheese, on whole grain crackers, with a dollop of sour cream. Yum! I would have preferred the Stilton, but it was four times the price, for half the amount. Needs must. Can’t say I liked any of the blue cheeses, early on, but developed a taste for them.

    Mislaying things. Welcome to my world. :-). LOL, when I winge on about my small indignities of age, Eleanor, who’s 22 years older than me, just laughs, and says, “Just you wait…”

    My slug hunting has gotten a bit lax. Mostly, because when I go out, I’m lucky to find two or three. Sometimes, none. It’s been that way for the past couple of months. I was feeling bad about the snails. They pretty much disappeared, a few months ago, and I found a few broken shells. I figure the raccons, got them. The other night, I saw a little fellow, less than a half inch long, with a tiny little shell on his back. That was cheering. They live well away from the veg gardens.

    Politics, here, are getting a bit like sci-fi. The satirists can’t keep up with the reality.

    Is the machine a small bull dozer, with attachments, to do different jobs?

    When it comes time to thin out your books, you might find a good used book dealer, that’s willing to swap, for credit, rather than cash. Usually, you’ll get a far better deal. And, more books! For free! (Kinda.)

    I ran across a short article on Wisconsin and dairy farms. Seems like our current Secretary of Agriculture, is like the one under Reagan, back in the 80’s. His philosophy was “Get big or get out.” Thousands of small farms bit the dust, during that time.

    I followed up on that article about your mountain range. And, your part of it. I didn’t realize that your political chunk was a “shire.” Are there Hobbits? :-).

    I asked the woman whose husband commutes to Seattle, about taking the train. Doesn’t run early, or late enough. So much for that. Lew

  43. Chris,

    Yes, the weather folks have extended climate forecasts. The autumn and winter look to be about “normal” precipitation and somewhat warmer than “normal”. That could mean less snow than “normal” and more rain. It could also mean a lot of wet and heavy snow that doesn’t stay around very long. I’ll see what we get and adapt on the fly.

    DJSpo says “Clothes sticking to rocks will release from rocks. Tongues stuck to metal poles remain stuck to metal poles.” No, I have no first hand experience with the latter, although I know people who have left a layer of their tongues stuck to the metal. Not fun!

    Tricksters are important. In addition to keeping people from becoming too complacent, the randomness often introduces needed change. Hence, Coyote is accorded some respect while being laughed at when his antics cause him problems.

    I scored about 30 beverage coaster-sized round and fairly thin pieces of wood, maybe birch. I teach a class at our outdoor event in early June. These are perfect for wood burning for that class.

    I was at the public library today. Their policy is that if a book is not borrowed at least once a year, it is sold. The non-fiction section is dwindling. The librarians at the local branch are not happy about that. I like spending time browsing through history books but don’t necessarily borrow them. There’s more empty shelf space than used space now, and more people are using the library computers than there are people looking at books. I thought the library was supposed to have books?

    Our home library has a large selection of fiction and non-fiction of many categories. I can shudderingly foresee the day in which our library has more books than does the local public branch.

    The Princess called me today. She got to take a class from her sister-in-law, whose class usually fills up before the Princess can sign up for it. As an added bonus, her sister from central Oregon is in the same class and sitting next to her. She’s having fun. I’ll find out what she made when she returns home Monday night or Tuesday night.

    A largish crowd at our house I define as more than one visitor. We both enjoy a lot of quiet.

    The canopy has been completed. The general contractor has tools and equipment and materials that still need to be removed. I need to schedule final inspection next week.

    Cliff Mass had an interesting article about his recent tribulations at the University of Washington. A friend suggested a book, which I read a few weeks ago, detailing similar problems throughout academia. It seems that the current crop of college students cannot and will not accept that there can be differing views about things, and the powers that be at the universities cater to the overly sensitive students at the detriment of qualified professors. When (if) I remember the title of the book I’ll let you know.


  44. Hello again
    The learning to drive article extrapolated out to other early experiences was very interesting. it explains my financial acumen as a child of WW2 and early death of father. So my goodness, how very important it renders childhood experience as opposed to later happenings.
    You say that you have a job to keep up with blogs etc. Actually you are far better at it than I am. I’ll look at a blog and come across a comment that you have made and wonder how you manage to keep up with so many.
    Family member was fine as she is really tough. She had, very inadvisedly accepted a lift to the village from the said fellow.
    I don’t doubt that the state of the treasury is not considered but I do know people who are eternally hopeful. An odd one that because they are often the happiest of all if they are lucky enough to have no great disasters.
    I have a visitor next week and may have little time.


  45. Hi Claire,

    I also let plenty of ‘weed’ species (whatever they are) grow and all sorts of insects turn up for a feed. Have you had any insights into the identification of your new caterpillar? To be honest, I am of the opinion that greater levels of diversity are indicative of a very hardy ecosystem – so the new critter is a big thumbs up for your efforts.

    Mike was lucky to have seen such a display – and I’ve never seen such a thing. You know, when I was a kid such insect winter stasis cocoons were far more common than now. Last week I was in the big smoke and walked through an inner city area and noted many flowering plants, but no insects at all. It seemed bizarre to my senses that are used to encountering insects all over the place, but plenty of people seem happy with the situation, so who am I to argue.

    At 68’F we are running at about the same temperatures – today at least. Today was forecast to be cool (unlike tomorrow) and so the excavations on the new garden terrace were completed just as the sun set. I’m feeling it now… The new path above the house now extends about 60m / 200ft.

    Some of those plants have very shallow root systems so they can’t access water held deep down in the soils. Unfortunately they have to be watered during dry times. I hear you. I have plans to begin to set the watering system up on the new terraces later next week.



  46. @ Lew:

    Thanks so much for reminding me about BT – I’d forgotten about that. I have never tried it. And thanks for mentioning the thrip trap. I don’t even know what thrips are and will have to look them up. What a great name: Thrips.


  47. @ Lew:

    The pictures of thrip damage look just like my bok choy leaves, so I’ll bet that’s it; thanks again. Thrips must really love that heady weed from Mexico as a whole lot of the photo examples were of that.


  48. Hi Inge,

    Exactly, and there is truth in the old adage which alerts us to the: ‘formative years’. Both you and I were formed by hard times, and I’m curious as to your opinion, but I believe that hard times are part of the normal arc of life. I have friends who are a few years younger than I, and they’ve never known hard times, and I do wonder how they’ll react to them? Knowing that these things can happen means that I do not over reach – although that is an unfashionable concept these days.

    Hehe! If it means anything to you, the decision to begin writing a blog and conducting this enjoyable dialogue took me about three years to make.

    Ouch, not a wise decision in that particular country, and glad that your relative is made of tough stuff. I’d read a short story many years ago about a woman who ended up in a similar situation in that particular country. I probably still have the book of travel stories in the bookshelf – it filled my mind with alarming possibilities. Although at the time I had not read the book, but I knew intuitively that it was a problem for the editor.

    I’ve read anecdotal accounts that people who win the lottery, often rapidly lose their winnings. Your comment probably speaks to that state of affairs? Dunno.

    No worries, enjoy your visitor and hope the weather is really nice for their visit.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Well, yes, the legal system is best avoided when one’s opponent can wield greater numbers and resources. Please be good to the lost hour, tonight is the night that it flies off to finer shores, like yours. One can but only pine for the lost hour, and then feel bereft at the loss. Although they do say that absence makes the heart grow fonder, although I note that absence can also make a person ‘get over’ another person! This is not the case with the lost hour.

    The chickens are totally annoyed with me. I haven’t let them out for a run in the orchard over the past few nights because we’ve worked so late on the upper garden terrace excavations (although to be fair, one evening it rained). But as the sun set below the horizon this evening, I can state for the record that excavations on all three garden terraces have now been completed. And another epic sized rock was cut into smaller pieces today. The poor drill bit which I use to drill and make fractures in the rock has been worn down to a sad looking thing. They’re expensive little blighters those drill bits. Oh well, the cut rocks are highly valued things here.

    And the path above the house is now about 60m / 200ft long end to end. There is a little bit of a way to go yet with the path, but it is not too far as to be a formidable challenge. Me tired, so if I stop making sense this evening, please spare me a thought and cut me some slack. Tomorrow I’ll add the first layer of organic matter onto the surfaces of the lower garden terrace.

    Lucanus does seem rather unfazed by Merlyn’s condition. Since you mentioned it, how does the Vitiligo express in you? If it means anything to you, I doubt very much that Merlyn was spiritually unclean despite his condition, and he certainly seems to have out lived all of his peers. The statistics for rates of Vitiligo were about one in a hundred, which is very common. Have you ever encountered other people with the symptoms?

    I’m frankly uncertain that the folks transported to the colonies would have been such a bargain workforce. For a start, most of them derived from urban areas, and hard work was probably not on their minds! But back in the Great Depression, folks used to work hard in rural areas for a meal, a place to clean themselves and a place to sleep. Given the alternatives, it probably wasn’t a bad trade.

    Lewis, I’m weak and this talk of blue cheese is not something that I’ve developed a fondness for, but I do appreciate that it has assisted your guts. It is a long sad story, but I’ll wrap it up into as few words as possible: As a young kid, my mum ran out of tasty cheese and made macaroni cheese using blue cheese. I was not a fan of the innovation. You’re right though, taste is something that can be worked at, but the scars are deep in this particular case.

    Hey, I visited a local hill station open garden earlier today. It is one of the oldest on the mountain range. Dreamthorpe. A truly beautiful garden, and they had an old orchard with many very old and productive trees.

    Eleanor is likewise striking fear into my heart! Hehe! But the question becomes thus: Would we notice the problems ourselves when at that age? It may be a problem for others…

    Do you get raccoons in your garden? Far out, they’re smart as. Do they sample any of the plants or are they purely carnivorous?

    Hehe! Your politics are very strange, but also somewhat something of an entertaining spectacle. I do rather enjoy comparing Mr Kunstler’s viewpoint with what is reported in the news down here. Hard questions are not being asked in our media, when they should be.

    I’d never thought of getting a bulldozer. Wouldn’t know what to do with one….

    Thanks for the advice about thinning out the book collection. I might try that and know a few places that might be interested in the trade. Hmm. Second hand bookshops are not as common as they once were, but they’re still around.

    The story of the Wisconsin dairy farms is not good, and it has played out here. Mate, anything to keep inflation low.

    The ‘shire’ bit down here is pretty funny isn’t it? A few years ago, the logo for the area was ‘Naturally Cool’ and I could sort of relate to that. What can I say: It’s a gift! 😉 But then Lord of the Rings came along and the logo changed to: ‘Welcome to the Shire’. I’m not suggesting that the logo brought all of the leaf change tourists, but are they really all that welcome? A tough question… Anyway, I never gave them the OK to spend all of my rate money changing the logo.

    Not good about the train. Country trains mostly run on the hour, every hour down here (except for between midnight and 5am). What sort of train service do they run from your part of the world? The authorities are in the process of constructing another underground city rail loop which should be pretty good when it is completed in a lot of years.



  50. Hi DJ and Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. Tonight the excavations on the upper terrace were completed – and the path leading away from the terrace project was extended massively. But now, I’m seriously feeling it and am crashing…. Sleep is calling me… Will speak tomorrow, but until then, sleep (and a lost hour to boot).



  51. @Pam
    Thanks!! We don’t leave for 2 1/2 weeks and there is an obligatory stop for my nephews wedding in North Carolina. As we plan to meander down the Atlantic coast after the wedding we are hoping there are no hurricanes. We’ve been AAA Auto Club members for years and as a member you can get all their guide books and maps for free so I have a stack of every state we might visit as well as a map encompassing the entire region and maps of some cities. Hopefully we can do this fairly inexpensively.


  52. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the link!! There are certainly beautiful National Parks there. We plan to visit two on our trip. Sadly I’ve only been to two others.

    The pitch of the pipe leading from their kitchen sink was not correct so over many years 20 ft of sludge had built up so all that pipe needed to be replaced.

    Doug was the VP of dining nation wide for a large bank in Chicago. He made it though two buy outs until he was let go. Eventually the bank was bought by JP Morgan Chase. His travel in that job was not terribly extensive and basically pretty fun. Also the bank had a limo pick him up at our home to take him to the airport which was at least 1 1/2 hours away. After that job a family he knew hired him to sell their chicken products. That travel was not fun and there certainly wasn’t a limo. Sometimes due to delays he would end up in some out of the way airport with a two hour drive to his destination at night. He traveled 3 out of four weeks usually.

    Yes animals certainly tie you down. We’ve found a very nice kennel nearby for the dogs at a reasonable price. Weather permitting they spend much of the day outside in large yards with other dogs of similar size and temperament. We had to take them there to be approved awhile ago. Luckily they passed. They will be in the same kennel which is good as they are very attached to each other. We feel a bit guilty leaving them for so long as they’ve never been kenneled while living with us.

    Guess what – it’s raining right now though it’s not supposed to be much and we’ll actually have some pretty nice sunny days coming up. Just what I need to clean up most of the garden before we leave. The ground is really saturated now and the rivers are flooding in some areas.

    Ollie knows you rescued him. Leo especially follows Doug everywhere and starts crying if he goes out without him. Big vicious pit bull – ha!!


  53. @ Claire (or, anyone else interested in monarch butterflies) –

    Two books, (avert your eyes, Chris): “Mariposa Road”, nonfiction, (Pyle, 2010) and “Flight Behavior”, fiction, (Kingslover, 2012). Both good authors, and good reads.

    We have a butterfly garden, here at The Institution. Some claim to have seen monarchs, but I never have. We’re a bit off their flight path, and, there’s a close look-alike. Lew

  54. Yo, Chris – Can’t have annoyed chickens. They’ll plot against you, behind your back! :-).

    Congrats on almost finishing, the reshaping of your land. Half expect you to pop up with, “And for our next trick … ” Always something interesting, happening at Fern Glade Farm.

    Vitiligo – Well, it started with a quarter sized spot, on the back of one hand. And, progressed from there. No rhyme or reason. Just pops up and spreads. I’d say, I’ve probably lost about 1/4 to 1/3 of my pigment. I often say, if I live to be 200, I’ll be an albino. :-). If it pops up in my fur, the fur turns white. Sometimes. Eventually. Living in the Northwest, and being light complected (or, am I light complected, just ’cause I stay out of the sun?), people don’t really notice.

    I see people from time to time, that have Vitiligo. I never know quit if it’s acceptable to mention it. I’ve never had a bad reaction, if I bring it up. But I tread carefully. There was a fellow at the retreat, I went to, last year. His had developed quit recently, and was galloping along at an alarming rate. And, he had quit a bit on his face, which can be pretty tragic. Maybe I’m not sensitive, as I came to it so early? Years ago, when I worked in a bar in Seattle, half the staff was going to go and establish a second outpost in S. California. (How I got to California). One of the fellows who was going to go, was just as excited as the rest of us. He was blond, and quit fair. Suddenly, he changed his mind. I asked him about it, and he said, “Well, you haven’t noticed, but I’ve got the same stuff as you do. People don’t notice it, living here. But if I moved to California…” And, yes, it did show more on me, when I lived there. But it was at that time, mostly on my hands and legs.

    Oh, dear. I didn’t know the back story of your aversion to B.C.. I suppose years of intensive therapy, could overcome that. But, as with so many other foodstuffs, why bother? When there’s so many other good things to eat. I have a similar story with cream salmon on toast. Still makes my tummy roll, to think of it. Which reminds me … THE PUMPKIN PIE ICE CREAM IS IN!!! I bought two quarts, last night. I’m gifting one to my neighbor. Maybe.

    Dreamthorpe is, quit the dream. Not many pictures of it, but I thought the house would be more “grand.”

    Will you notice problems with aging. Oh, you’ll notice :-0. And, if you don’t, someone will helpfully point them out, to you. :-).

    I’ve seen the raccoons at the grapes. But otherwise, no. I had a green pepper disappear, the other day. But the suspects are many. More likely two footed, than four.

    When I was following up on the Macedon area, a lot of the PR made it sound like it’s entirely inhabited by bohemians and hipsters. “Young professionals” and “artists” was thrown around, a lot.

    I poked around a bit, looking at the train service. Only four round trips, between Seattle and Portland, daily. I’d thought there were more. The sad state of our rail system.

    I saw an interesting article about a farm in England, that is “re-wilding.” I hope the link works in Australia.

    It’s from Time magazine, under the “Ideas”, section. I also finally got the DVD documentary, “The Biggest Little Farm.” Don’t know when I’ll get to it. I’m deep into “SS-GB.”

    Gotta go eat some bugs. :-). Lew

  55. Hi Chris,

    Rum and chocolate is a good mix. And on that topic who doesn’t love some rum and raisin old gold?

    I haven’t heard from the ATO about student loans. At the moment, enforcement mechanisms are still shaky and reporting (at this stage) is manual. But the writing is on the wall, and if I ever end up working in Australia again, the automatic payments will kick in anyway. So I figure I might as well get on top of it now.

    If your crystal ball reveals anything more than just misty metaphors, please let me know 🙂 Right now, we have only the inklings of some ideas and the future is a wee bit uncertain. So nothing new!

    The orange wine (it actually has lemon in there as well) tasted very dry, and strong. It needs a bit more time and I suspect will go well with some lemonade – or a bit of extra sugar. I am hopeful on the plum wine – it has a lovely colour. The stout was made from flaked barley, roasted barley, malt, brown sugar, lactose powder simmered for an hour then drained into a barrel with warm water and a tin of commercial stout mix. It will end up at ~7% and is best after 6-8 weeks in the bottle. The barrel is still fermenting nicely at about 18 degrees, it should be ready to bottle next weekend. Do you see yourself making more beer in the future, or is sake and wine enough?

    I think it would be major panic stations if there was no rain for a month, let alone 3. Indeed, last summer the roads were full of water trucks topping up rainwater tanks across town, and it was only 6 weeks of less than average rain (our tank got down to 1/2).


  56. Hi DJ,

    Your country, like here is a big place and there are many micro-climates that can have all sorts of unusual weather patterns, so adapt it is!

    Dares can be taken too far, and it makes you wonder if taste buds grow back if they are left on frozen steel? Ouch. When I was in Nepal, the clothes used to freeze solid overnight, it was bizarre.

    I respect the trickster whilst, trying not to give them an avenue in. The do keep us sharp don’t they?

    Years ago I visited a timber mill on the west coast of the island state of Tasmania, and they produced beautiful exotic timbers, all nice and neatly dressed. You would have loved the place. The house here has timber floors which were from the tree, ‘Sydney Blue Gum’, but the timber is actually a red colour and is feature grade (i.e. cheaper) and has a lot of visual interest. It is a bonkers hard timber. How hard is birch as a species?

    Not a good story, and as a suggestion, policies can always be taken to extremes. Surely it would be cheaper to retain the non fiction books rather than replacing the entire collection – or leaving empty shelves. And it also raises the awkward question: Just because a book has not been read in a year, does that imply that the book has no value?

    Hehe! It is funny isn’t it? I enjoy entertaining people, but like you, I too enjoy the quiet.

    Good to hear that the construction work was completed, and good luck with the inspection. Finished excavations on the third highest terrace yesterday. Plans were that there was only a single days excavations, then we got stuck into creating the path leading away from the terrace project and towards the driveway. Time got away – and it may have something to do with daylight savings…

    Has the title of the book bounced back into your memory? The other thing is that we live in a culture which the word ‘nuance’ has been thrown under the bus, and so many people speak in this strange dialect of ‘absolutes’. Life isn’t like that, but if people believe that it is so, then that’s what they feel it is true. Look at how politicians speak to one another – our leaders are letting us down to act that way.



  57. Hi Pam,

    Next week, we have to sort through all the rocks and move them off the terraces… Some of the rocks we unearthed over the past few days are huge.

    PS: Like the addition of the word ‘sometimes’!



  58. Hi Lewis,

    The chickens are of a tricksey disposition and the two smaller white silkies try to escape from the enclosure whenever I open the door in the morning to feed them. Little do they know that Ollie is waiting on the other side of the enclosure, although it is vaguely possible that the silkies are hoping to eat Ollie. You never know and I wouldn’t want to fall asleep in the chicken run. It puts one in mind of sea birds hovering over sailors who survived a ship wreck far out at sea only to run out of food and water.

    Next years projects have been included on the ‘to do’ list which is never published on the off chance that it does not indeed get ‘to done’. I tend to feel that it is a journey rather than a destination. 😉 And possibilities for refinement of systems are always with us.

    Thanks for the explanation as I’ve never encountered anyone with the skin condition. Out of curiosity, are you at risk of getting easily sunburned in summer, and does sunscreen help (if you use it)? It interests me that as a condition it is not greatly studied or understood, but then there is a profit motive in studies I guess and that leads research to wherever the snout can be dipped into the feed trough. You know, there is a little voice that tells me that it is probably very adaptive for people who live in far northern or southern latitudes. Over the years I’ve read many interesting studies about how sunlight is as good for us as it is for the plants. And you may have a natural advantage if you were to move far into the far north – you have mentioned that your ancestors were originally from Finland (please correct me if I’m mistaken in that belief). I try to walk a fine line between getting exposure to the sun and wearing sunscreen to shield my skin from the extreme UV radiation down here. I mostly get it right, but it can be hard to know for sure.

    Treading carefully is a wise strategy, and what did the old timers say about: ‘For fools rush in where angels fear to tread’ (a recent addition to the lexicon I believe).

    I dunno, my eyes see blue cheese (whilst appreciating your preternatural response to the colour of the cheese) and my mind recoils with horror of past wrongs. Can’t say that I’m up for the challenge. And what is cream salmon? Never heard of the stuff, although when I was a kid, you reminded me that there was this widely consumed meat paste stuff which was added to toast. It came in a glass jars, so it must have been OK…

    PUMPKIN PIE ICECREAM! Nuff said! What film did you watch as you supped upon the delicacies of the moment? And sharing is good for the soul they tell me, although sometimes a person feels a sense of loss with the act.

    The house is an early timber weatherboard Victorian farm house from the era. The original inhabitants were considered to be very well to do. What interested me about the orchard was that the notes reputedly added that the orchard fed quite a number of inhabitants of the mountain range. You live in a wealthier country and the houses are bigger.

    Hehe! Well now that you mention it, the lovely lady who used to cut my hair and I’d known for years and years, once said to me: “Chris. You’re not going grey, you are grey.” So by and large I agree with the central tenets of your thesis – and yeah, people happily share their thoughts on such matters.

    Green peppers are a tasty temptation and no doubts the person who thefted off with it managed to do a very good job of justifying the act.

    Ooo, better get writing…

    I have failed to notice these “Young professionals” and “artists” living in the area, but if they say so… Mate, I’m an old fart now and I tell you this: I bring the average age of the area down.

    Four round trips per day is not too bad for such a long train service. I’m guessing it would be about three to four hours each way between Portland and Seattle? Down here that would be the equivalent of the Melbourne to Swan Hill (yes, there are swans there although to your horror, they’re black swans – this talk of black swans being a bad thing always leaves me with the uncomfortable thought that it is the white swans that are mystical beasties) train line. Melbourne to Bendigo is only about an hour and a half or so. The Swan Hill train goes further past Bendigo, as does the Echuca line (which also runs more frequently but not as often as the Bendigo train). Hope that makes sense, although a map will show the howforwhys of it all.

    Thanks and the link works well. Good on ’em. Actually thistles are a pioneering plant that can bring up certain minerals, and eventually they falter. I get them and just mow them down and leave the soil critters to deal with the minerals. Without having first read the article I plan to show some of the uglier forms of life here in the next blog.

    Have you had a chance to watch the documentary?



  59. Yo, Chris – Well, back in the early 70’s, when I lived in California, I spent an awful lot of time on the beach. We were pretty dumb, back then, about sun and cancer. I used to slather myself with sun tan lotion, which, I guess, was a kind of sun screen. But I mostly had to pay attention to my hands and feet and the front of my legs. But, one time, I didn’t realize that I had also lost pigment on the back of my knees, and ended up with huge blisters. An error, not to be repeated.

    Yup. My maternal grandpa was Finn. And, he also had Vitiligo. I’ve had this theory that it takes a genetic predisposition and a chemical trigger. Grandpa was gassed in a coal mine, and after that, it started appearing. He was in his early 20’s. I was taking some kind of medication, to kick my thyroid into gear. And then it started. When I had the first spot, there was some kind of treatment, involving a liquid. paint it on, and hold it in the sun for a few seconds. Gave me blisters. I hear from time to time, that there’s an oral medication. But, it “may” cause liver damage. My liver has been abused, enough :-). Out of all my grandpa’s kids and grandkids, I’m the only one that hit the lucky genetic predisposition. It’s never really bothered me. I just shrug it off. Play the hand your dealt, and all that.

    Cream salmon on toast is like chipped beef on toast (which I find quit tasty.) It’s basically the meat, cooked up in a white sauce. The salmon probably wouldn’t have bothered me, so much, except Dad used cheap canned salmon. Still had the backbones in it. Crunchy. When mom worked, he’d make the stuff, every Sunday. I’d have to sit there, until I finished it. Until the Sunday I lost it all … :-). At least it didn’t put me off salmon, in all it’s other forms.

    I was watching a BBC mini-series, “SS-GB.” Interesting premis. What if the Nazis had won the Battle of Britain, and were occupying most of the country? A Scotland Yard detective has to skate a very fine line between The Resistance, and being under the thumb of the Nazis.

    Yup. It takes about 3 or 4 hours to travel by train, between Seattle and Portland. About the same as by car. If there’s not a derailment or landslide, on the tracks :-).

    I watched “The Biggest Little Farm.” I think you’d like it. Although, some parts will probably drive you crazy. The farmer was a wildlife photographer, so the footage is just spectacular. She was a private chef, who ran a food blog, and was all into healthy and local. So, they wanted to have a farm. But, no money. So, they found investors. (Details, sketchy.)

    They bought 200 acres, north of Los Angeles. 200 acres of blasted ground. Not a thing living, in that soil. But in 10 years, they had turned it into a virtual Eden. Of course, they had two hired guys, and a gaggle of young folks (details, sketchy). One of the first things they did was build an enormous worm farm/ compost factory. (Details, sketchy.)

    But, it’s well worth a look. As the farm came “back”, the wildlife returned. There were always problems with things being “out of balance.” But through observation, and trial and error, balances were struck. There are lots of dogs … and chickens. :-). And the film kicks off with the place being threatened by wildfire. Lew

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