She’ll be apples

Some folks have been telling me of late that they fear ‘climate change’. And they must be right, because they sure looked genuinely fearful to me. Other folks have taken to the streets recently and are pressuring local governments to declare a ‘climate emergency’. And they must be right too, because some local governments have actually declared a climate emergency. Being a reasonably pragmatic bloke, when faced with such words I tend to think to myself: “Yeah. And then what?”

Such a simple question is not as easily answered as it first seems. As far as I can understand things, the climate change predicament is that the day to day decisions and choices that people are making are going to lead to poor environmental outcomes. If these are the outcomes that people are worried about, one possible course of action which can produce immediate results, is to stop doing those things and begin making choices that could lead to a different future.

It really is that simple to take effective action on climate change. Will it happen? Nope.

But given the stark contrast between words and actions, I still hear talk of ‘fear’ and read talk about ’emergency’. Nowadays when hearing these words, I tend to feel that people are expressing fear of consequences for the past and present decisions and actions.

As a young accountant I watched the demise of manufacturing in this country. Heck, I worked for manufacturers and even assisted their owners shut the operations down and sell the machines overseas. I was fearful, I had to put food on the table, keep a roof over my head and pay down the student debt. Speaking of student debt, I watched the debt increase, all the while the real value of my undergraduate (and post graduate) degree declined, because the venerable learning institutions trained far too many local and international accountants.

I don’t actually worry about any of that stuff, if only because as they used to say down here: She’ll be apples mate!

On the other hand, I do actually worry about apples. Earlier today the editor and I passed by an established apple orchard, and it looked really pretty. About an hour north of here is a fertile mountain range where a large percentage of Australia’s apple crop is grown.

An apple orchard on the slopes of Mount Alexander

Nine years ago, the World Trade Organisation told our government that we had to accept imports of apples from New Zealand. Australia loses New Zealand apple appeal. By and large, I suspected that people weren’t too bothered by the decision to undercut our local apple producers with the cheaper imports. There were even rumours at the time that Chinese grown apples would arrive via way of New Zealand and be relabelled as New Zealand apples. At the time, I’d heard claims that it was all apparently ‘good for consumers’. And I’d heard those same claims made before: during the demise of local manufacturing.

Apples and other fruit trees have been grown in that area north of here for a long time. The fertile land was located near to the gold-rush boom town of Bendigo, and so the train line passed through the fruit growing area. With the train line in operation from about 1860, produce could travel either north to the gold-fields of Bendigo or south to the big smoke of Melbourne. And the train line has been in continuous operation ever since.

Some of the rail bridges spanning the rivers are beautiful feats of engineering, like this one built in 1860 in the small town of Malmsbury. The town also has an excellent bakery.

The rail bridge in Malmsbury

Observant readers will note that just below the bridge and leading off the right hand side of the photo is a flat concrete construction. Back when the rail bridge was built, a water race connecting the local reservoir to the orchard area was also constructed. A water race is a concrete lined open channel that flows gently downhill to its destination. The ancient Roman’s used to call such water technology by the name of: ‘Aqueduct’.

It is a marvel to see the water race meandering its circuitous path through the land and across farms, all powered by gravity. Nowadays the water race is empty of water and has not been maintained. And water is now carried uphill and down dale in pipes, which are boosted up hill using electric pumps.

Unlike water, the steam trains in use on the rail line way back in those early days could handle slight inclines or declines. Just like the water race, the rail line also meanders around the undulating countryside. Occasionally, the early surveyors would have had no choice other than recommending a bridge, like this epic one at the town of Taradale:

The epic rail bridge at Taradale

The train line connects one town to the next. And the town closest to the orchard (and viticulture) agricultural area in the foothills of Mount Alexander is Harcourt. There is even a very attractive railway station there:

The railway station at Harcourt

It is a bucolic scene. Trains regularly run past the station (every hour), they just don’t stop there any more and the buildings are all boarded up.

It has been a while (1981) since the railway station was opened for operations

I’m guessing the railway station was closed because there just weren’t enough people using the railway station at the time of closure. That makes sense given that in these enlightened times less than 2% of the population work in agriculture, and the town originally serviced the orchard and viticulture activities of the area. The use of trucks to freight the apples directly from the local cool stores to markets and distribution centres also bypassed the railway station. A 10 tonne crane was removed in 1971, so the services offered by the railways station were hardly required.

Nowadays I’d be pretty certain that a large number of this countries apples arrive by ship, apparently because its ‘good for consumers’. Importing apples is good if you want cheap apples, but the activity employs less people than if we grew them locally, and it is not lost on me that some of the money just dribbles off and away overseas never to be seen again.

Near to the base of the mountain range, there is a large cattle farm. It’s clearly been operating as a farm for a very long time, and along a creek there’s an old ruin. I suspect that the ruin was used to house agricultural workers, if only because it is at a distance from the main farm house, whilst also being located adjacent to a water course, but I’m only really guessing. All the same, the building is a ruin, and it serves to remind me that what is not maintained often goes into decline.

A picturesque ruin on a cattle farm at the base of Mount Alexander

Economists appear to be in something of a state of befuddlement over the state of the economy. It reminds me a lot about peoples fears of climate change, in that people wish it were not so, but at the same time they’re doing their utmost best to ensure that things stay as they are. As far as I see things, if the wages of too many people are kept low (or diminished due to rising costs) just so other people can enjoy cheap stuff, well sooner or later we are going to get into some serious economic trouble. If debt hadn’t been used so freely in the last two decades, and that’s right across the developed world, then we’d already be in economic trouble. And it is worth noting that there is no easy and temporary ‘debt’ solution for environmental problems.

A few days ago I noticed that a rodent appears to have taken up residence in one of the chickens laying boxes. The chickens mostly prefer to sleep on the higher steel rods and perches, so the boxes are usually unused. The rodents are pretty clever creatures and I’m wondering if this particular rodent is a very young and small rat, but I’m not really sure.

A tiny rats nest is continuously being constructed in one of the chicken boxes

Anyway, it’s hard to explain. Fortunately, I’ve worked out how the rodent is getting into the chicken house, and you guessed it, it is an impossibly small gap.

The sunlight and gap in the bedding straw betrays the tiny entrance point for the mysterious rodent

There must be something in the water this week, because the other day the editor and I were at a local microbrewery which also just happens to sell the best gourmet pies ever. And that was when we were confronted by this spectacle.

Trouble has a new name!

The facts speak for themselves in the above scenario, because to me it looks like trouble has a new name!

The road back home from the gourmet pie shop runs along what I reckon is one of the most scenic drives in the country. The road travels through an extensive valley of undulating hills and impressive rock formations (rocks are good). At one point along the drive there is a rock formation which to me looks like a giant wombat is encountering the torso of a human.

A giant rock wombat encounters a human

Work on the new garden terrace project has continued. This week we’ve begun adding the compost into which the seedlings will be planted. When the project is complete, we estimate that the project will provide an additional 200 lineal metres (660 lineal feet) of growing space, all in nice neat rows.

Rows of compost have been placed onto the garden terrace project

We had to take a break from the garden terrace project and do some serious weeding and hedging. That job ended up producing about a dozen wheelbarrow loads of organic matter.

Weeding and hedging produced about a dozen wheelbarrow loads of organic matter

The chickens enjoyed the choicest selection of plants.

The chickens pick through the choicest selection of plants

But most of the wheelbarrow loads get added to garden beds where the plants break down and feed the soil.

A dozen wheelbarow loads of organic materials from weeding and hedging activities gets chucked into various garden beds

Now is the time to harvest the winter (meyer) lemons. If they’re left on the tree any longer in the spring sunshine, the fruit begins to ferment.

Winter produces a plentiful supply of meyer lemons

The first step in processing the lemons is to cut them in half.

The first step in processing lemons is cutting them in half

The lemons don’t have to be cut in half, but doing that places less strain on the fruit press machine.

This fruit press machine is a very elegant and well constructed machine

The acidic juice provided by the lemons is a very useful material which finds it way into cooking, preserving, jam and wine making.

A bucket of lemons produces one and a half wine bottles of juice or about 1.2 Litres

The vegetables in the raised garden beds are growing very well.

As spring gathers steam the extra energy from the sun is assisting the vegetables to grow

Onto the flowers:

The first of the many Rhododendron’s are producing flowers
More Rhododendrons
The first of the seasons Californian Poppies
It is hard to get an idea as to just how prolific the Echium flowers are…
This Bay Tree is in flower
Alkanet (Borage) produces vast numbers of flowers
Bluebells have finally begun to produce flowers

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 14’C (57’F). So far this year there has been 614.2mm (24.2 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 603.2mm (23.7 inches).

74 thoughts on “She’ll be apples”

  1. Hi Inge,

    Selling livestock appears to be something of a mysterious business to me, and I hope your son gets a good price for the pigs. Sometimes I’m joking around about chook-flation, but I’m not really joking around. A decade ago a point-of-lay (a truly questionable description) chicken used to set me back about $10 to $15 each. Nowadays they cost $25 all the way up to about $40 or even $50+ for a show quality chicken. I was amazed that at the recent auction the two birds sold for $25 each. How one’s sense of economics changes with the times. 🙂 Oh well.

    It really is hard to find middle ground on the neighbours question. I sort of feel that people act the way they do, because they can get away with it, and we’ve changed social obligations for very distant and remote monetary obligations. My gut feeling tells me that in the long term we’ll return to the norm which is social obligations, but it is anyone’s guess how far into the future that will be – and what changes that will entail.

    Your mother’s letters sure was a complicated and nuanced story. Has it changed your perspective of the person that you knew? Out of curiosity, did you ever get to the point in your relationship where you acknowledged each other as adults and peers?

    A truly glorious spring day here today. It does not get much finer than today’s weather. Unfortunately I had to work, but I did sneak in some time to put down a load of the local crushed rock with lime. A person cannot be too responsible! Hehe!



  2. Hi Pam,

    Thanks, and the scary dogs are AWESOME! The pugs in the tarantula outfit were the scariest of the lot. Did you have a favourite?

    You’ll be happy to know that both Ollie and Toothy sat outside in the warm spring sunshine earlier today. Both of them were engaged in the important canine activity of ‘cooking their brains’ in the warm spring sunshine. They’re both now sound asleep, whilst Scritchy just looks oppressed because Ollie is not sharing the green couch as she’d like. Scritchy knows every dog-act-trick under the sun and has decided to take action on the youthful Ollie by sitting on his guts. Ollie is pretending to be sound asleep. Dog politics in action!



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Alfred E Neuman provides excellent advice if ever you are confronted by worries. 🙂 Occasionally I worry about something, and usually that means that I consider that I have not put enough effort into countering the worry. Not sure about you, but I’ve noticed that action is a great antidote to worry. Of course, there is always the hang time between worry and action. What a hassle! It is nice not to be wired so as to be overly concerned with worries, is it not? Your mention a while back about the Roman’s philosophy in relation to the location of rocks, struck a chord with me. I’d be curious as to your thoughts, but it seems to me that the philosophy maybe somewhere between fatalism and stoicism, but I’m not really sure?

    Again we dip into ancient philosophies as your next comment touches upon (and please correct me if I err in my understanding) the school of the Epicureans. They’d enjoy a good gourmet pie (it was a beef and stout pie for your info, whilst the editor had a chicken, leek and bacon pie) too. Hey, the place also does a mighty fine rabbit pie, and it is extraordinary. Rarely do you see rabbit meat on offer, but when I was a kid I recall that my grandparents used to occasionally consume rabbit meat. I have some vague memory about people during the Great Depression starving whilst consuming rabbit meat, but that may have been due in part because of the epic drought down here at the time, but I don’t know. Have you ever heard such talk?

    Hehe! You betcha about the pink flamingoes, and I’ll bet the hangovers were legendary. A picture tells a thousand words (as you quite rightly pointed out) in this instance.

    I’ve never encountered watercore in an apple. It is a fascinating condition and the causes are many and varied. Apples invariably ferment with time anyway due to the fungi that come with the fruit. Usually fermentation / rotting begins with the outside skin of apples and so it is pretty obvious (down here) which apples are not going to be good to eat, and those I cut up and feed to the chickens.

    Animals can communicate in all manner of interesting ways, and cats are highly intelligent creatures. Your cat may have been conducting subtle experiments upon you?

    The video was way out of control, and as you suggest possibly over budget! Nice one – and so true. 🙂 No, tell me it’s not true. I’ve never even watched a single Sponge Bob cartoon, not even a single minutes worth, and I know who the character is. Just goes to prove that the kids are alright! You know when I was a kid, I can recall having the thought that: these adults are talking to me like I’m an idiot, and I must recall not to repeat the same mistake when I’m older. And like you, I don’t make that mistake either. I tend to feel that it is the parents natural reaction to their progeny if only because they’d had to wipe their progenies backsides when they were very young, but I’m only just guessing.

    Oh yeah, Sriracha is a bit underwhelming. It is a condiment supplied in bottles at some Asian restaurants. Tapatio sounds interesting and is sold down under. Never noticed it before, but thanks for the recommendation and I’ll keep an eye out. We’ve had a come to Jesus moment in relation to chili’s, and it only came about because we’d been trialling the plants over the past two years. Louisiana hot sauces sounds pretty good to me! 🙂 Yum!

    On a serious note, do have beet sugar sold up your way? I’ve never seen the stuff for sale. A mate of mine produced sugar beet syrup from boiling down the tubers, but it still had a slightly earthy taste to my palate. I was far more interested in how he chucked the stuff in his still and produced ethanol. Pretty much all of the sugar sold down here is derived from the sugar cane plant, which grows up in the north of the country along the coast.

    No, not at all, wild caught salmon, even in cans is a tasty chunk of fish. And fish patties are very tasty. Hey, I was wondering, do you reckon your time in commercial kitchens has upped your cooking game?

    Waste not, want not when it comes to deathless prose!

    Cool. Did the change in the colour of the corn cobs happen whilst the cobs were on or off the plant? I’m still learning a lot about that complex plant and I’m always curious to learn more.

    Hehe! Yeah, I noticed that to, and clearly there is something going on, or as you say, something in the water! Have you ever noticed that I get almost zero readers from the south west of your country? Again, something in the water…

    Well hopefully there is little radioactivity in the water there. Maybe. The British dropped more than just a few bombs down under. It gives me the heebie jeebies to watch films of the tests with all of the people standing there watching the mushroom cloud. British nuclear tests at Maralinga. Hmm, not good and I much appreciated how the government did a cover up which was later uncovered by a Royal Commission. Can’t say that the cleaning up job is continuing there…

    It is nice that the indignities done upon Kennewick Man (never heard of the story before) won’t continue and his bones have been re-interred.

    Seed saving is an enjoyable task. Do you just dry the seeds out? We let them ferment for a couple of days and that cleans them up nicely before then drying them out, but it may not make any difference at all. Peppers are really hardy, but I tell ya, the snow killed them right off. Someone I know has been telling me for a while that they can be grown like perennial plants, and it is just too cold here for that, and I’m guessing the same holds true up your way.

    You’ve said it before, and I can’t argue with you. Collectors can just get a fancy for some items. I recall cap guns from when I was a kid, and they had little circular plastic ammo filled with white powder. They sure made a racket. Such innocent days. I recall buying huge fireworks at the local milk bar… Good stuff, but unfortunately some folks took things too far, as people do.

    It may be a day or two late, but here’s to Mars. I quite like the thought of leaping priests, who no doubts enjoy the exercise during the festival of Armilustrium. It is strange that our societies relationship to the military forces has changed so much in only a short period of our history. It reminds me of the Chinese saying about Empires going up in Hobnailed boots and coming back down again in silk slippers. The way of the world.



  4. Hi, Chris:

    I have just looked through the photos before I go into town for the day, I couldn’t resist since you had mentioned that you were going to put up some exciting pictures; they are just incredible. Talk to you more later.


  5. Hi Chris,

    What a great photo essay (is that the right term?)! I really loved the abandoned train station, such a solid looking building. Even with the trains I would almost consider living there (every hour might be a bit much though), it has a reassuring look about it.

    You gotta watch out for those New Zealand apples. You know, I don’t see many of them about in my travels. Apparently most of them come from the Napier-Hawkes Bay region, an area which is increasingly getting turned over to grapes. The backdoor China import thing is not cool, but I will go out on a limb and suggest the care factor in NZ is not very high :-p They were also very popular in Tasmania, and a lot of orchards got ripped up in the past 20 years as they were no longer “economically viable”.

    In brighter news, the youtube overlords suggested a video to me which I quite enjoyed:
    An old couple restore an ancient, fortified farm house in Northumbria. Scratches a grand design itch, but the presenter is no Kevin!


  6. Yo, Chris – Prof. Mass has a new post up about his take on climate change. I’d say he’s pretty spot on, other than thumping a bit for nuclear, and expecting fusion … which has been 10 years down the road, for the last 40 years.

    As far as the apple industry goes, I suppose risk is acceptable, as long as you get what you want :-). Who are these WTO people, and how did they get in our business? That’s a rhetorical question.

    “Good for consumers”, in other words, cheap. Weasel words, right up there with “our customer’s asked for it.” Who are these people? I want names! :-). I’m careful not to mention Wal-fart, around my Idaho friends. I always get the lecture about “when-we-were-so-poor.” On reflection, I’ve always been a lot poorer, than them. And, I’ve only bout anything from the store that cannot be named, once. It just takes a bit of planning. Instant gratification is not part of the game plan. And that was before the magic food boxes. Which, really, when I think about it, is surplus. Frosting on the cake.

    The railroad bridge is quit beautiful. It will make a lovely ruin :-). Like the Roman aqueducts. The railway station, is also very cool. I hope someone comes up with a use for it. Before lack of maintenance catches up with it. I was curious, though. The chimneys seem a bit outsized for the building. I wonder why? Common rooms with great roaring cast iron wood stoves?

    I think I’ve mentioned I can see I-5 and the rail line from where I sit. I see one train and dozens of long haul trucks. Some time, just for poops and giggles, I’ll count how many trucks I see pass by, per minute.

    I think you should move the wombat and torso rocks, to the farm. They’d make a real “statement.” :-).

    Growing space vs yield is very much on my mind. I’m getting a better grip on how much space vs particular plant = how much yield. Four feet of green beans = one or two gallons in the freezer. Ditto, one Brussels sprout plant.

    So, do you do a rough sort, on those “weeds?” Does the invasive stuff go to heavy composting, or the chickens? Your fruit press is a nifty machine. I’ve seen such, here. They look so Victorian :-). But still do the job. I’m getting a bit excited about the possibility of a Meyer lemon. We got quit a few oranges, in the last Magic Food Boxes. Much to my chagrin, it dawns on me that my well stocked kitchen, does not possess a simple orange/lemon reamer. Another bit of Victorian kit.

    The Rhododendrons are really nice. Those plants are a bit prehistoric, and, given their world wide distribution, were probably around before the continents broke up.

    I had a small bay tree, once. Had it sitting in a pot, outside my shop. It did quit well, until the local lads took to tipping it over, at night. Why we can’t have nice things. So, I built a small wheeled platform, and moved it in and out at night. :-). So they broke my windows, instead. Cont.

  7. Cont. Oh, don’t worry about the occasional radio silence. If your weren’t out there experiencing life, you’d have nothing to write about :-).

    I suppose worry is the same as anxiety. I’m beginning to think that CBT is a useful tool to assess those feelings. Basically, it seems to be a self questioning of what feelings are true and real. Eleanor has some anxiety. Has pills for that. Though she’s good about “taking only as needed.” I think our nightly chats, help. But I may get more systematic about it, without being too obvious.

    If I ever had rabbit, I don’t remember. Not that the idea puts me off, or anything. Too much of any one food and you’ll be deficient in something. Something has changed, in the local apple industry. I didn’t become aware of water cores, before a year or two, ago. My Idaho friends (who know a lot about the apple industry) seem to think it has something to do with storage.

    Well, as far as I know, Alien Cat didn’t do any invasive experiments. I don’t think I was probed :-).

    Dollars to donuts, if it doesn’t say “cane” on the package, it’s beet sugar. And beet sugar tends to be cheaper. Sure, cane sugar is processed, but not to the extent of beet sugar. That stuff is really mad science. I’d guess if your mates keep tinkering with the beet sugar, they’ll get something more palatable.

    Hmmm. I don’t think working in commercial kitchens upped my game much, as far as overall cooking skill. Odd bits and pieces, maybe. But it got me really THINKING about food.

    If our weather was more cooperative, I probably could have let my corn, dry in the field. One or two of the older, dryer cobs were pretty red, when I shucked them in the patch. But the rest turned color, pretty fast, when I moved them indoors, into a warmer, dryer atmosphere. My bedroom :-).

    I’m fermenting my tomato seeds. I’ve got a book or two on seed saving, and follow their instructions. Worked last year, so why tamper?

    I heard a brief news report, the other day, that some court cse was settled, and there’s money to be paid for “down winders”. People who were down wind from our 1950’s nuclear tests. I think it goes to the States, for distribution, and some to South Pacific islanders.

    I watched Tolkien, the other night. I quit like it. LOL, how could they sleep with that wall paper? But now, am curious to read more about the man. Our library system has a few biographies, but they seem mostly focused on his membership in the Inklings (a Oxford writers/social group, C.S. Lewis, et all), or, just on his relationship with Lewis. But I think I spotted one general biography. Don’t know when I’ll get around to it, but I’ll read it, eventually. Lew

  8. @ DJ – What a fun mash-up. Winnie the Pooh and the Beyeaux Tapestry. Though Eeyore looks quit distressed, with his bum shot full of arrows! :-). I’d run across Winnie in a toga. Winnie the Pooh in Latin. “Winnie Ille Pu.”

    Winnie the Pooh, time traveler? Winnie the Pooh, Time Lord?

    If you really want to go down an internet rabbit hole, Google “Beyerux Tapestry mysteries.” LOL, everybody has a theory, none of which will ever be proven. Lew

  9. @ Damo – It’s sad when a series jumps the shark, in three episodes :-(.

    Yup. Crewman #3, always buys the farm. The way the pay scale works, if they have not speaking part, they come pretty cheap. They’re lucky to get a mention, when the credits roll. My favorite little clip is where Rockwell says, “That ain’t right!” when he stumbles across a bit of cross species interaction.

    The stuff they pour on nachos, is a more liquid form of Cheese Whiz. I think they sell it in 50 gallon drums. In my mind, that’s what seperates a good restaurant, from the bad. is that orange stuff on my nachos, poured, or shredded?

    I stumbled across a series I really liked. “Manifest.” Binged watched the first season in three days. I’m glad there’s going to be a season two, as it ended on a real cliff hanger. Plane takes off from Jamaica, and disappears. Then it shows up 5 years later. No time has passed for the passengers. But, the world has moved on. And then, it gets weirder, from there. Lew

  10. Chris,

    I like watching the eagles and hawks. Occasionally they will get too close to the nests of smaller birds. I always laugh when an eagle is fleeing while being chased by a score of smaller birds, which collectively are still dwarfed by the eagle.

    I used to read the Wizard of Id back in the day. It was often hilarious, too.

    Dr. Who? I used to watch those reruns as well. I can’t find it, but there once was a picture, online of course, of the Tardis on the Bayeux Tapestry. What role did the Doctor have at Hastings? Which incarnation of the Doctor was present? These are important questions we need the answers to!

    We did get some rain. It is still sprinkling, with more showers expected tomorrow. We’ve had a bit more than 15 mm so far in 3 days. Then a warming and drying trend, maybe as warm as about 18C over the weekend. Then back to normal temperatures with frost every night.

    Those are wonderful pictures of the old buildings and bridges. I noted on the Malmesbury rail bridge, the center of the picture is almost an arch of the bridge in which a large tree is centered in the background. That was well done, if it was by design. Well, it was well done if it was accidental, too.

    I’ve got a soft spot for old brick buildings, so I truly appreciate the old station pictures. Nice old brick…

    Good luck with the rodent. They don’t need much of a crack to find entry, do they? They almost seem able to shrink or shape shift or just plan materialize through walls.

    Like someone else, I had thought that maybe bringing the Wombat Meets Human rocks back to your farm would be nice. But then…that would upset the local earth denizens where they currently are, upset the balance at your farm, and create all sorts of problems. Best to just admire them in their current setting.

    Wow, you’re getting good growth already in your garden. Being at the other extreme, the trees are still sporting leaves of multiple colors. This has been one of the more colorful and vibrant autumns of recent memory.

    I noticed the discussion on rabbit meat. I’ve also heard stories about starving to death when eating rabbit. “Not enough fat” is the comment I’ve always heard. We need fat in our diets and rabbits don’t supply the right types or enough or something, so the stories go.

    My wife and I both enjoyed the various flower pictures this week. I had to show them to her: when we were designing our perennial flower beds, we decided on a mix of reds, pinks and purples.


  11. @ Lew,

    Winnie the Pooh in Latin? Thanks for the link.

    I mentioned to Chris that I’ve seen a picture of the Tardis added to the Bayeux Tapestry. Maybe Pooh was the 1st Time Lord? Perhaps the Tardis is how he and his friends got there? As I said to Chris, these are important questions we need answers for!

    I’ve gone down the rabbit hole on the Tapestry many times. And did so again after reading your comments. 🙂

    Oh, and Tri-Cities isn’t too far from here. We traverse the north end of the metro area when travelling to the Toppenish area.


  12. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, I kind of like the sound of: ‘photo essay’. A real estate person might try to use the word ‘montage’, but that sounds a bit high-brow for my tastes! Hehe! The building has its own Wikidpedia page (I should trademark that subtle change), and apparently there was talk at the last election about re-opening the station for passengers. The buildings and platform need a bit of work before then… It is a beautiful building is it not? And I feel that the station master may have lived upstairs, rather than in an adjacent house like they normally used to just due to the size of the station.

    That’s the thing isn’t it. Grapes are a higher value product than apples, and they may produce a return quicker than an apple tree. But all the same it takes a few years for either crop to produce. In the area up there, there are some photos of the old orchards and the trees were very large and very widely spaced. Apparently there are insurance issues with using orchard ladders… A few years back I did a grafting course with an old bloke up on his orchard, which his daughter now runs. Now the old blokes dad used to run the orchard before him, so they knew a thing or two about fruit trees. Anyway, he told me that when he was a kid, his dad used to get him to climb the trees in order to pick the fruit.

    And the China bait and switch routine is not cool. Tasmania has a huge apple industry, but even that is in decline. I once spent a delightful afternoon down in the south east of the isle with this very cool old dude who ran a heritage apple and quince orchard. And we talked about mead and swapped stories, all up it was good fun. I believe they still supply fruit trees.

    Thanks for the link and I’ll check it out over the coming weekend! Restore a 500 year old building – what could possibly go wrong… Kevin is cheeky and getting cheekier, which is kind of a good thing.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    I read the good Professors essay earlier this morning. Can’t say I shill for either of those two err, burning-bright-future-and-yet-to-be-proven technologies and all that business. It is funny how the discussion has been hijacked so that it becomes this sort of, you’re with us, or you’re against us narrative. As far as I can understand the story, climate change is not really a political issue, but people want it in that arena for their own purposes. I guess their lungs get a good workout. Speaking of lungs, mine are feeling better after the recent bout of the cold. What a pain that was, still the more permanent alternative is rather final and perhaps less appealing.

    We were talking here yesterday about gates and fencing for the garden terrace project, and it never ceases to amaze me, but it is really hard to get clarity on matters regarding the project until the particular aspect gets closer to being implemented. How anyone believes that the entire place could be planned ahead of time is a serious mystery to me. I guess you could make up a plan, but how it would look after a decade is anyone’s guess. I sort of feel that climate change is a bit like that in that it is not a good idea to continue making the problem worse, some aspects of the situation can be guessed at, some precautions can be taken, but largely I reckon the future is unclear.

    Exactly, we kowtow to some foreign and unelected body which clearly has an agenda – and is supported by our government (the facts speak for themselves in this case), and suddenly the local apple industry is under threat from cheap imports. It makes little sense to me. Economists talk about the ‘multiplier effect’. Say you go to a local store and purchase something that has been grown (or made) locally. The money will be sloshing around the local economy from one person to the next. Send the money overseas on cheap imports and the multiplier effect is almost negligible – because the money has gone off shore.

    Appreciate the name change! Good stuff and Wal-fart and Amazen are great business models to concentrate wealth in the hands of a few. And I doubt that lot can spend the money fast enough to make up for the lost multiplier effect. And there is also the possibility that they use their funds in order to pursue strategies and policies which further concentrate the wealth. I’m always reminded of Smaug the Dragon in that for all the gold he had, little good it did him. Incidentally I came up with a funny name too: Wikidpedia!!!! Hehe!

    The bridges are in constant use, so they must have gotten them right in the first place. And there was some sort of election promise to re-open the railway station, but promises and all that, so who knows? Oh yeah, the larger country railway stations have heated waiting rooms. Just the thing when it is 36’F and you’re sitting on a platform late in the evening waiting for the next train.

    Go on, what sort of truck numbers are we talking about here? I’ve known people who travelled to the USA and they’re always amazed at the volume of truck traffic.


  14. cont…

    Yields versus space is an interesting question, and glad to read that you’re getting your head around the subject. It is complicated isn’t it? I’ve made a lot of changes on that front, and there is also the question as to soil fertility and availability of water. Those two variables alone provide some serious challenges to me. Also I’m sort of mucking around with spacing too and that impacts upon the story that you’re also pondering.

    Not sure what a ‘rough out’ is in relation to weeding, but I chuck the edibles into the chicken run, and the rest gets chucked into wheelbarrow piles and are placed on a garden bed. The invasive stuff is invasive regardless as to my thoughts on the matter and I really see no easier option than just spending the time pulling them out of the ground. Mostly, the plants are just taking advantage of the disturbed areas that I’ve created – and they’re part of that story. Longer term I reckon it is what it is, but the weeding process doesn’t really take as long as people imagine it does. In future years I hope to be spending more time maintaining the existing systems rather than extending the infrastructure, but there is still a ways to go on that side of things. I spotted an interesting article on how climate change may impact upon the ability to supply beer – due to loss of barely growing areas I guess. That hit was a bit below the belt!

    Oh yeah, the meyer lemons are the bizz. Not quite as tart as a Eureka variety lemon, but they’re a much more cold hardy tree where I am. It brushed off the snow, whilst the Eureka lemon appears a bit more challenged. Having a couple of hundred lemons and wondering what to do with them is a good problem! 🙂 Those old school lemon reamers were used down here until only very recently. Somehow electric juicers seem to have taken over, but the reamers just work. Do you reckon you’ll find one in your travels? They used to have sturdy glass ones, and I’m sure somewhere there is a blue glass version? Leading you into temptation.

    Exactly. There is even an indigenous variety of rhododendron way up north in the tropics.

    Kids. It is easy for me to say that it was all the exuberance of youth, if only because it wasn’t my bay tree. Sometimes the kids do it hard though: Teen girl ‘humiliated’ after errant police strip search at Splendour in the Grass, inquiry told. That didn’t seem right to me.

    What a fear – writers block. Ouch! Fortunately I’m rarely anxious about things and there is usually something going on – and when that isn’t happening, well there are all the story ideas on the whiteboard on my desk. Ideas are not so much of a problem, it is more the act of converting the idea into something readable that is the difficult side of the equation.

    In a strange coincidence, this is the second discussion I’ve had this week about what feelings are real and what are not. You may notice that I live apart up in the quiet of the forest. But yeah, it is really difficult to know if someone is feeding you horse manure into your emotional state. If you’ve got any tips other than ‘pills’ I’d be interested, but yeah other than that, be wary and know thyself is about the best I’ve got. And nightly one on one chats is probably a really good way to re-frame a persons emotional state. And probably switch off the news programs wouldn’t be bad idea either!

    Ooo, that would be hard to explain with your feline friend. Those aliens sure did like to probe us accommodating humans. Certainly it would make a useful excuse in certain circumstances back in the day. 😉

    When I get a chance I’ll have a look into what exactly is beet sugar. Like I said I’ve never seen it for sale down here, but we don’t get a lot of corn derived sugars either.

    Thanks, and yeah that was what I was getting at. Thinking about food is a good way to describe the beginning of the food journey. It comes across in your words that you are quite handy in the kitchen, and I reckon it is a good skill to have. I’m not sure why people aren’t more interested in food.

    Out of curiosity, what do your red corn taste like? Or do you use them as flour?

    Yeah, same here too with the seed saving. We’re probably up to about the sixth season now, but I keep bringing in new genetics each season too. You can never be too careful with such things, and diversity is not what it once was.

    I’d imagine a lot of the susceptible ‘down wind’ folks have kicked the bucket. In the article about the tests down here, there were reports that army folk were sent into ground zero not long after the blasts. That sure sounds like using the folks as guinea pig human testers to me. I wonder if the folks who made that particular decision were keen to get that up close and personal to their activities?

    Tolkien sure had a complicated and difficult life. But then he also got a few leg-ups and he was fortunate enough to know an opportunity when he saw one. The scenes in the trenches were horrific. I never knew about the ingenious flame throwers. Very unpleasant indeed. I did enjoy how his characters were superimposed over the battle scenes.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! The eagles here likewise are very practiced at studiously avoiding their much smaller (and possibly also annoying) peers. The magpies will always see the eagles off to easier territory, and those small birds have serious courage. Yesterday I saw an eagle descend straight downwards with its legs and talons extended beneath the mighty wingspan – and I haven’t seen them do that before. Yup, the eagle had spotted dinner. Interestingly, the eagles rarely operate alone and another eagle usually drifts lazily not too far away and ready for whatever action needs doing.

    Hehe! Who can forget that the height challenged king used to stump (i.e. stand on a tree stump) when talking at the peasantry.

    You’re on fire! A Tardis on the Bayeux Tapestry indeed! Funny stuff. Thanks for the laughs. I’m typing away in the dark on a laptop so please forgive any spelling errors. It is a long story involving a train trip.

    Do you use the regular frosts as an indicator of the end of the growing season? Some plants can tolerate frost, and others aren’t much of a fan of the big freeze. Nice to hear you’re getting some rain, and you did have a rather nice summer (relative to previous summer conditions).

    The rail bridge in Malmsbury is a stunning work of engineering, and it has stood the tests of time. The small town sits in a valley so the train had to stick to the higher ground. Quite a few towns are like that and the train station usually sits outside of town, whilst the town stuck close to the water supply (usually a river or creek). My local train station is actually on the far side of town, and me being on higher ground, that means closer to my side which is all rather convenient.

    Thanks, and the rodents I feel have more ‘rat cunning’ than all of us combined. Apparently mice can squeeze into gaps as small as 1cm.

    Imagine the tourists dropping by just to check out the wombat / human / rock interactions. No doubts that would displease the local deities even more. Or maybe I’m just voicing my own concerns in the matter… Hey, I just had this really great idea! You could take the tourists up your way? Hehe!

    Beware the influx of leaf change tourists… Glad your having such a nice season, but isn’t it awful how poor the leaf change display is this year? Hint. Hint. Nudge. Nudge. You were warned! We had a good display last autumn and it just kept going on and on, and the onslaught of tourists was unrelenting. And then one day, they all disappeared and things went back to normal (whatever that is).

    Thursday looks set to reach 33’C, but yesterday and today have been superb.

    I’m glad you’d heard those stories too – as I wasn’t sure as to their veracity. I seem to recall that the stories related back to the Great Depression, but I don’t really know where I came across them. Ah! Just Gogled it and the condition is called Protein poisoning. And it is exactly as you suggested – a lack of fat in the diet. Puts a strange twist on the high protein – low fat diet that people set out to consume. Interesting indeed. I have heard anecdotal accounts that people on such diets can have quite interesting mood swings, but I couldn’t imagine either the editor or I choosing such a diet.

    Thank you and I hope to continue sharing flower photos for the foreseeable future with you and your lady. The apricots have developed a really deep red blush on their skins over the past day or so. They’re still months from being ready to eat, but still makes ones mouth water thinking about the fruit. Yum!



  16. Hello Chris
    I am struggling to catch up today as I slept 11 hours last night! Being a late bird, meant that by the time I had had breakfast the day was half gone.
    Loved the photos of the station and of unused properties plus the scenery. Old stations here have been sold and become private properties even sometimes when trains still use the tracks.
    I lost even more of the day when I watched the youtube thing on the Northumberland old house that Damo cited. I hadn’t realised that it would be so lengthy.
    The wombat stone plus possible friend/victim is fabulous.

    The pig sale was a disaster, I won’t quote my son. He has never had so little money before. So no more pigs will go to auction. Only one sow will produce each year and we can eat the meat.

    I have never heard of apple core water. Ditto of protein poisoning. We ate rabbit during and after the war. I liked the taste of tame rabbit which was not unlike chicken but was less keen on wild rabbit which tasted stronger. I guess that kangaroo meat could pose the same problem.

    Sugar here is beet sugar, one has to search for cane sugar which is more expensive and most places don’t sell it. I prefer cane sugar but Son says that he can’t tell the difference.

    The importing of food that a country could produce itself is insane. We have the same ridiculous situation.

    My adult relationship with my mother was fine but then I seem to be good at this. I was surprised that she hadn’t told me about these translated letters. I only knew about the ones from her father during the war which were brought by a Swedish sea captain plus short notes that came through the Red Cross
    My sister, on the other hand, had nothing to do with our mother for the last 35 years of her life. I had to listen to my mother asking what she did wrong to her other daughter. What could one say?
    There is mention in one of the letters of a cousin’s wife who is in a Siberian prison camp. I realise that everything that I have read about such camps has only been about male prisoners, I was unaware of women in this context. No further mention of her. A female cousin was in a Danish camp; again something unknown to me. Her husband was a pastor and was trying to get her back home; he succeeded.


  17. Hello Damo
    Thanks pointing to the youtube account of the Northumberland house. I thought that the couple were incredible especially the wife.
    However I would never buy a listed building as one is incredibly shackled as to what one is permitted to do. We were lucky when we bought our old wreck in 1957 as it wasn’t listed; goodness knows why not as the original 2 up 2 down had been built in the 17th century.


  18. @ DJ – The Tardis is currently at rest, next to my computer, on top of my printer. It’s quit small, but I figure it’s bigger on the inside :-).

    I passed through the Tri-Cities, decades ago. About all I remember is that they were nice little towns. And, that I was in a store, when an alert came on the radio, in relation to Hanford. It was a test, but everyone in the store, froze, for just a second. That stuck in my mind. Lew

  19. Yo, Chris – I’m glad you’re feeling better. I haven’t had a rip snorter of a cold, in awhile. Figure I’m due. Maybe if you stopped smoking those stogies … :-).

    Some people want to politicize, everything. Too much time on their hands?

    “The future is unclear.” LOL, that was one of the responses, that one could get from the magic, fortune telling eight balls, I mentioned a couple of months ago. Oh, I think one can plan to their heart’s content, but there are always wild cards. Best stay flexible. When I went at protecting my peas from the deer, the first idea was workable, but labor intensive. A few days later, I thought up something better. Without using too much brain power. The problem just needed to perk on the back burner, for a few days.

    No argument. Buy local, is a good idea. There’s been studies … But, when you’ve got local business people buying outside the area, and hiring people that live outside the area, well, I just don’t see much follow through.

    In a totally unscientific study, I’d say there’s about 10 18-wheeler trucks, passing by one I-5, per minute. Wonder what they’re all hauling? How much is “wants” and how much is “needs?”

    Yeah, I’m beginning to think about what to plant, next year. Not too seriously, yet. Space / yield / what I’ll actually eat. Just from what I’ve read on this blog, I’ve gotten more concerned about genetic diversity. Planting seed from a couple of different years.

    Reamers. People collect them, you know :-). There are books. “Kitchen Glassware of the Depression Era.” When oranges began to be shipped all over the US, glass companies began stamping out reamers, by the thousands. Oranges symbolized California (Hollywood) and Florida (sunshine.) A quick E-Bay check lists 105 “blue glass reamers.” Some, quit pricey. I see Amazon has a two piece (reamer & measuring cup) combo, for about $25. You can candy lemon and orange peel. I’ve done it. “Joy of Cooking” tells you how. It’s a bit water intensive. But a bit of candied peel, tossed into just about any bake good, provides a nice zing.

    “Someone is feeding horse manure into your emotional state.” Well, that someone may be you :-). In “Coddling of the American Mind”, they had 9 questions to ask. Here’s a bit more of an expanded list …

    I’ve never eaten my corn fresh. Just the grind. Tastes like chicken :-). Actually, it’s kind of nutty and on the sweet side.

    My friends in Idaho took a weekend to go fish on the Salmon River. They stayed at a river guides, place. It’s the old homestead of a guy named Buckskin Bill, who was a hermit. Idaho seems to have attracted, lots of hermits. He built fantastic buildings, of stone and wood. Including a tower.

    I’m watching one of the Great Courses, right now. “The Celtic World.” Interesting, and a bit maddening. As the professor states, right off the bat, from the time she started to study the Celts, to now, a lot has changed. New theories, new archaeology, DNA testing. But rather than clarity, it seems to get murkier and murkier. Lew

  20. @ Lew,

    Yes, I would agree that your Tardis is larger inside than it is on the outside.

    Tri-Cities has grown. A lot. But so have most metropolitan areas, I guess.


  21. Chris,

    There are a lot of hawks and eagles throughout the area and in a lot of areas where we regularly travel. There is one stretch of highway on the way to the Tri-Cities, maybe 15 km, in which hawks are perching on nearly every pole and tallish vertical things, just waiting for food to appear. Occasionally I see one swoop and reappear with a snack.

    I grew up about 4 km from here, right near the Spokane River and a lot of woods and forests. Osprey, large red tailed hawks, golden eagles and bald eagles lived nearby all year. My mother and I spent a lot of time together watching them. Every few years a group of turkey vultures, sometimes called buzzards, also moved into the area. I spent countless hours watching the hawks and eagles soar and float around. Some come this far inland on occasion. A Cooper’s Hawk often winters in this neighborhood.

    Ah yes, the stumpy king. And who can forget “Frammin on the jim-jam, frippin in the krotz!”? The wizard’s spells rarely worked as expected, did they?

    I get it. You’re training your laptop. In the dark.

    Heard on the bus this afternoon: What do you get when you divide the circumference of a pumpkin by its diameter? Answer to appear below.

    Yes, once we’ve had a “killer” frost, which we’ve had, the growing season is over. The grass becomes dormant, too. The only vegetables I’ve not completely harvested are the carrots. They’ll be fine until the ground seriously freezes, which should be several weeks or longer away yet. They’ll likely all have been eaten by then, however.

    That makes sense about train station locations. Trains don’t like steep grades.

    Thordog, all 45kg of him, could squeeze through a hole about the size of a large grapefruit. Don’t ask me how. I watched him do that once, and I still don’t know how he managed it. He also chewed his way through a chain link gate once, which I repaired and reinforced with rebar. He broke a tooth trying to chew through that, and that ended his attempts to chew through chain link fencing.

    Answer: Pumpkin Pi.

    We get our share of tourists looking for colorful leaves in town. However, most go to one of the several municipal parks that are filled with maples and oaks, or else visit the Finch Arboretum, which is huge and has countless varieties of deciduous trees and shrubs. Early to middle of October is a grand time to take a hike through the arboretum with camera in hand. A google search for “Finch Arboretum” led me to a lot of pictures, many of the fall colors.

    I actually heard the first “starving on a diet of rabbits” story in a Louis L’Amour pulp western, of all places. I’m guessing that if one raised rabbits and cows and chickens, one would do fine eating rabbits as long as eggs and dairy products were consumed also.

    Apricots! When I lived in the Los Angeles area long, long ago, dad had a large garden. In addition to a lot of squash, he raised boysenberries and had two peach trees and an apricot tree. Those are so good fresh from the tree!


  22. Hi Inge, Lewis, and DJ,

    After a disappointing meal this evening (more on this later), I declare the mid-week hiatus in full force (whatever that means). I’m guessing the hiatus must be a real hiatus, and not some sort of pretend hiatus, but I’m not really sure? Who wants a pretend hiatus?



  23. Hi Lewis,

    It really was a disappointing meal this evening. I may write about it next week. Dunno. Maybe?

    Hehe! That’s funny. You know I had to look up exactly what a stogy was. I’ve never smoked, not for any real reason other than I just don’t like it. But compared to cigarettes, cigars actually smell like they are more closely related to a plant based material. The other sort smells like what I’d imagine an out of control inferno at a particularly unpleasant chemical factory would smell like. But of course, I’ve never smoked and people who have, have also recounted to me how much they enjoy the smell, so perhaps there is bias in my opinion.

    Hmm, yes there are people about with too much free time on their hands, and thus they get up to mischief such as you say, politicising things that don’t necessarily benefit from that approach. Of course some folks get focus, when that ain’t called for too, and then there are the other cheeky scamps who are looking for an edge.

    I like how you think. And the wait-for-inspiration guide to better living is a great tool. One of the things that used to annoy me at the big end of town was that I was never allowed the opportunity to cogitate upon problems. The need to address the day to day issues ate all of my time when at work, and so the ability to sit back and just consider matters occurred in my spare time away from work – occasionally in the dark hours of the night. And all that does is drive one’s hourly rate down.

    Yeah well, when the local council hires folks from outside the area, you know that something stinks. 😉 I’ve read that with local spending the multiplier effect can be as high as seven times. And the concentration of wealth means that the multiplier is much lower nowadays. It’s a bit like the story with EROEI don’t you reckon? I see one of your aristocrats is suggesting he wants to put people on the moon again. I have strong reservations that the process will be found to make any economic sense whatsoever. Interestingly, the bloke was talking about getting partners, so perhaps he is pulling a ‘grab for extra cash’ gambit? Dunno, but perhaps there is an argument that he’s looked into the vast cash reserves sitting under the sleeping dragon and realised that they are not worth what they once were.

    You ask the hard questions, and I know not how to contrast wants versus needs. People appear to be batting out of their league in many instances, so I just don’t know the answer. I understand how the story relates to myself, but other peoples motivations can be vastly different.

    I’m really chuffed to read that, and it is a real problem that can only be addressed by getting people back into seed saving. It wasn’t that long ago that there were something like 7,000 variety of apples available. Fortunately, plants like to hybridise, but still the extinction rebellion folks may be on the wrong track and missed the real problems – like genetic diversity in our agricultural crops. Which fortunately is an easier problem to correct, although somewhat less sexy and with lower yields.

    Oh. I can see that about oranges, and they’re a very tasty fruit too. It’s just a bit too cold for oranges here. Sad face emoji! Good to see that the citrus reamers are still available. So, are you going to get a blue glass one?

    When dried, the peel makes amazing fire lighters too. Very fragrant.

    I’m so busted! Glad you are onto my little game. Thanks for the link to the CBT exercises and yeah I reckon they’re all good exercises. Strangely there are shades of occult initiation tests in all of those CBT exercises, and I must say that there have probably been some fascinating people over the years working in that field of study of the mind!

    Oh! I’ve never milled the corn into – is it corn flour? Usually I consume corn fresh on the cob, so last seasons haul was a bit of a mystery to me. It sounds funny written out, but there is little culture of consuming dried corn down here (the plant is a heavy feeder – and not widely grown, although commonly available).

    I’m going to have a look into that hermit.

    But for now, bedtime is calling me and my eyes are getting heavy…



  24. Chris:

    Okay, I give up – just what does “She’ll be apples, mate!” mean? If it was applesauce, I would get it.

    When I listen to it, the murmurs make me uneasy. Mostly, I don’t listen that much, and just get on with things. Maybe a bad idea as I must be missing some trends. Still, the main picture stays the same.

    I love when you take us along on your journeys back in time. The Malmsbury bridge is a work of art, and the Taradales one is huge. I see that you commented that both are still in use; that’s wonderful.

    What a charming railway station at Harcourt. I could not tell in the first picture that it was boarded up and thought it was still in use. Inge mentioned that some old railway stations where she is have been turned into private residences; that has been true here, too. The countryside in my county is just dotted with them, turned into homes. I have wondered – as the trains still use those tracks – how noisy it is living there. Occasionally one is turned into a restaurant.

    That little red house must be the one that you mentioned when we were talking about the regulations for condemned houses a while back? The cows seem to like it . . .

    Oh, gad – not rats again! My life has been so much easier since our house was sealed up against mice. That’s a great photo of your whole flock together. Such a handsome group, but the Silkies always steal the show as they are so . . . umm . . . cute?

    I see a bride and a – what? – an inflatable monster? A strange pair; trouble indeed.

    You have nailed it again – the rocks are a man-eating wombat and his dinner.

    That was serious weeding – a dozen wheelbarrow loads. I use small bins, and I don’t reach anywhere near a dozen fill-ups.

    How lucky you are to have so many lemons.

    Everything is so green and proliferative (is that a word?) there. Rhodies must have a long blooming season as I think I remember seeing them at your house not all that long ago? The bluebells are so cheerful.

    Halloween dogs can sometimes be scary, but mostly they are just hilarious. I suspect that your dogs would react the way our (may they RIP) dogs would have when confronted with a Halloween costume: They would have just eaten it.


  25. Yo, Chris – Give the man a cigar! :-).

    Yes, the multiplier effect. As an example, here at the Institution, the first two layers of management are out of Olympia. The next two up, Seattle. Our janitorial staff, the painting crew and shiftless Jack, the “handyman” (and his minion) are all out of Olympia. I thump on at any opportunity about labor done here, and money received, spent somewhere else. And not just our little corner of the local economy. Not that it seems to do any good.

    Glass reamers seem to be one of those items that when you don’t need one, they’re thick on the ground. When you do need one, they vanish. I stopped a couple of places where I thought there might be one, but no dice. I just happened to think, there’s a kitchen supply store, at our local factory outlet mall. I might check there, tomorrow.

    One of the places I checked … well, about a year ago, I got a vase, at auction. Didn’t know what it was. But it was a stunner. 14″ tall and in an opaque blue and white design. A couple of weeks ago, I spotted what looked like a possible mate, at one of the places I checked for the reamer. So, before I went, I measured my vase and took along a tape measure. Yup. It’s a match. Now, do I need a matched pair? I’ll ruminate on that. Turns out, when I got the vase home, there was a small label I had missed. Made in Poland, about 30 years ago.

    Ground corn is more meal, than flour. Coarser. Most recipes call for a mix of corn meal and wheat flour.

    I meant to mention, if you try a bottle of Tapatio hot sauce, it takes a bit of getting used to. At first, it’s pretty hot, coming and going :-). But, I acclimated, pretty quickly. Now it’s a flavor, with a bit of zing.

    Foggy morning, but will be sunny, this afternoon. Supposed to be sunny, tomorrow. Lew

  26. Chris -PS: The professor of all things Celtic made it a bit clearer, in the lectures I watched last night. Currently, in Celtic studies, they realize that some of the old theories and concepts are wrong … but new theories haven’t quit jelled, yet.

    She also made clear, to me, what was going on when that first mention of Arthur (“…but he was no Arthur…”) was made. A Scottish kingdom attacked an Anglo Saxon kingdom, that was making incursions. Things did not go well for the Scots. But one of their warriors made a good showing but….

    Here’s a bit of the back story.


  27. @ DJ – Yup. More people everywhere. Just out of curiosity …

    When I was born, circa 1950, the population of the world was about 2.5 billion. By 2020, it should be around 7.5 billion. We’re worse than rabbits :-). Lew

  28. Hi Chris,

    I don’t eat any of the corn I grow fresh, but instead grind it into corn meal. Corn meal is coarser than corn flour. From what I gather from my reading, only the flour corn varieties are soft enough that they can be easily ground to flour fineness by manual grinding. I grow a dent corn and grind it manually; it takes two passes through the grinder to get it to the right texture for corn meal, which is still coarser than flour.

    Generally corn meal is used to make corn bread, a baked product, or corn mush, a cooked product. Corn bread is more prominent in southern US cooking than in the north, because wheat doesn’t grow that well in the south while it grows well in the north. Corn mush is almost exclusively southern, I think. I hadn’t eaten it until several months ago, when I realized I’d best start eating up the supply of stored corn that I’d accumulated over the past few years. The nice thing about corn mush is that all it needs is ground corn, water, and a pinch of salt to make a filling breakfast.

    Other ways to use corn in cooking, for instance to make tortillas or grits, require that it be nixtamalized ( The process also prevents niacin deficiency in people who depend on corn as their staple food. There are home-scale versions of this process but I haven’t tried them yet. I think I’ll put that on my list of things to try since it’s so much easier to grow corn here than wheat, in case we get to the point where corn is more readily available and cheaper than wheat.

    Since you mentioned apple orchards … I’ve just finished this year’s apple harvest. Once again squirrels ate all the apples from two of my three trees before they ripened, including the special English dessert apple variety ‘Ashmead’s Kernel.’ 🙁 (If I were naming that variety, I’d name it ‘Squirrel Selected.’ The squirrels ate all the apples out of it before the end of July!) But I was able to harvest about 40 pounds of apples out of the remaining tree even after the squirrels got a lot of those apples too. The squirrels probably think I ought to thank them for leaving me some apples. Not a chance.


  29. @ Pam – my mother-in-law is doing quite a bit better now that she’s healed from the fall a little over a month ago. She’s in good spirits, enjoys visitors and has friends as well as family visiting, and likes the nursing home where she is living. She thinks of it as home now, which it is. We’re grateful that it’s working out so well.

    @ Inge – your mother’s letters are fascinating! Thanks for telling us a little about them. I haven’t read anything about women prisoners during WWII either; what I can imagine of it isn’t at all pleasant.


  30. @Lew

    Geesh, cheese in liquid form seems a bit wrong. But I am pretty sure I still ate lots of it 🙂

    I watched the trailer for Manifest – I do love me a high-concept show, but the trailer sure did have a lot of tears and hugging in it! It seems like a mashup of Lost and a Twilight zone episode.

    I just watched “The Art Of Self-Defense”. Technically a comedy, I feel like it was trying to reach for a Napoleon Dynamite vibe, but didn’t quite hit it. Still was entertaining, 3 stars.

    @Lew & DJ
    The population thing scares me the most. Even in my time over the last 25 years there is a definite increase in people where ever I go. Small things like more crowded beaches, traffic on the road, but also bigger things like how likely you are to catch a fish, or expansion of suburbs into farming land etc. I have done my part to not contribute to the problem, but I think ultimately humans are just yeast in a jar of sugar water. Unless more sugar is found, it will play out the same way.

    I used to regularly eat rabbit – very tasty, especially if young. The older bucks need to be slow cooked. I got stories from my grandfather about catching them when he was a young one during the great depression. He would ride a horse to school and check all his rabbit traps on the way. As a result, we had plenty of vicious looking rusty traps hanging around the farm sheds. I didn’t use the traps as it is a bit brutal (they can be jammed in it for a day), so just went with the shooting option. Nowadays I sometimes see them in the butcher, but pretty rarely.


  31. @Inge

    It was a good episode wasn’t it? The wife was amazing, Mrs Damo and I were in awe of what they accomplished. And they didn’t seem stressed about it or anything. The end result (at least what we saw) looked very nice. I would love to live in something with that sort of history, but as you said, the rules can be very constricting for restoring those old buildings.


  32. Hi Chris,

    “Photo essays” are great – and nice to fall back upon if words escape you 🙂 I always think of montage as how our hero, to the tune of a catchy song, becomes remarkably proficient in a difficult skill within just a few minutes.


  33. Hi Inge,

    Yes, that is the peril of a long nights sleep, but I tend to feel that despite the reduced daylight hours (the following day), a good night’s sleep is still a worthy goal.

    I only know of a single railway station that has been converted into a private residence down here on an active train line – and the freight train line is still used to bring in heavy materials to the port. I can only imagine that the people living in such a dwelling were either trainspotters, or they sleep really deeply. Can you imagine the noise of a freight train in the middle of the night?

    Hehe! Thanks for not suggesting moving the wombat stone, and I’d like to believe that the other human resembling rock is a friend. Giant wombats were not unknown and I feel that they were part of the story of the Bunyip.

    Wild rabbit was a bit of a thing down here too back in the day and I likewise tend to feel that it is a gamey taste. Good call about the kangaroo meat and I was wondering about that too. It is a very lean meat. Mind you, I consume a lot of dairy and plant fats such as peanuts, almonds and walnuts, and also olive oil comes to mind. I’m guessing the folks who starved consuming rabbit, only ate rabbit with no other food stuffs.

    Cane sugar is very widely available down here, and you know, I have never encountered beet sugar. A few years ago I grew the sugar beet tubers and roasted them up. They have a 20% sugar content which is pretty impressive for a plant. I quite enjoyed them and roasted they were quite sweet, and I recall a commenter suggesting that they’d never heard of anyone eating sugar beet before. They’re an impressive feat of plant breeding.

    I don’t understand the food import story either, and it just makes it very difficult to make money off the land. It’s not good.

    Your diplomacy skills exceed my own humble offerings, and it is something that I need to work at. But then, you ask the question: what could one say? The answer to that question is: Nothing. There is little to be gained from getting involved in such matters. I mean, what is in it for you to be the intermediary between a mother and your sister?

    Stalin’s body count was unfortunately quite high, and such a place would not be good. Yes, I too have noted the tendency for the male viewpoint to provide more of a record of the events of the times. A few months ago I read of a Japanese WWII massacre involving some of our nurses and there was a sole survivor. Australia’s most distinguished war nurse Vivian Statham remembered at Australian War Memorial and a follow up to the story: Angels of mercy: Uncovering the secrets of the Bangka Island massacre.


  34. Hi DJ,

    You see hawks down here too, but only rarely. I tend to feel that free-roaming higher order predators are a good indicator as to a healthy ecosystem. If there is nothing for them to eat, the whole system of cycling nutrients / minerals tends to slow down – and that ain’t good for anything.

    Did you move away from the area that you grew up near to? The Buzzards are quite notable birds, and you were lucky that your mom had an interest in the natural world and sparked that inside of you.

    Hehe! Well as far as I understand the predicament for the Wizard in the Wizard of ID, he probably needed to work upon the more pragmatic side of things, but also he was no doubt at risk of falling under his own spells. The true peril of the working mage.

    Double hehe! Nope! The editor went out for dinner with a mate in the big smoke, and I jumped on the train and drove her back home again. The police can have all sorts of random alcohol breath testing stations, and being found over 0.05% blood alcohol content means that one loses their license. You’re pretty good at math. So you’ve got about 9 Litres of blood, so does a 500ml drink at 6% alcohol volume put one at risk of going over 0.05% blood alcohol content? Your quest should your decide…

    Hehe – and that is a triple Hehe! Pi indeed! 🙂

    Of course, your tubers would survive light frosts. Hadn’t thought about them. Do the carrot tops die back during such weather?

    Thordog had determination. Hmm, I’m not sure when you began reading but a few years back I had to completely rebuild the chicken enclosure and run. Getting the chickens to sleep in their new run and hen house was more easily said than done. Sir Poopy, was an expert at ferreting at and eventually breaking the really crazy heavy duty gauge chicken wire on the old chicken enclosure. If only he’d put that much effort into regular exertion he’d still be with us today. I really liked the dog, but far out he was lazy. There were times I just had to kick him outside and tell him to go and get some fresh air. And he’d do the bare minimum.

    DJ, mate the Finch Arboretum is awesome. There is another mountain range that is very similar to the one I live upon but it is a little bit south of here and lower in elevation. They have an Alfred Nicholas memorial gardens Dandenong the images of which you might enjoy.

    That was my thinking too with the rabbit protein starvation. Dairy is good as long as it doesn’t introduce dietary difficulties. There are a lot of plant fats and nuts which come readily to mind.

    Oh yeah, apricots are awesome. And for some reason I never really rated plums, but as I’m getting older I have a very soft spot for the tasty plums. I may even try to preserve some of them early next year.



  35. Hi Pam,

    The old down under saying is a breezy way of dismissing fears whilst stating for the record that things will be more or less OK. Not the sort of thing you want to hear when faced with an emergency, but on a normal day to day basis, it ain’t too bad to hear such words.

    I’m not actually sure as to which murmurs you are discussing, but yes, one needs to try to not get bogged down in the detail but recall that there is a bigger picture. For some reason I thought you were talking about Fleetwood Mac records, but that was just a rumour. Sorry for the bad pun.

    Oh yeah, the country trains here are lovely things (when they’re not full). And both of those two bridges are in constant use. A person might suggest they were made proper like. 🙂

    The cows were indeed investigating the shed. Me, being me, I’d probably fix the building up, if only because it would be a simple project. And it would make a great place for people to stay.

    Well done you. I tried to seal the house against rodents, but the pesky little critters can tunnel. I employed a very strong silicone sealant against the pesky critters today in the hen house and so I’ll be curious to see what their next move is. Without any sense of doubt, the rodents will have some fast moves to pull the wool over my eyes.

    Silkies are such lovely chickens, but they lay so few eggs. I’ll always keep a few of them for novelty and for the joy they bring, but at one stage we had five of them – and that is too many. Many discussions have been taking place in the background relating to these delightful creatures.

    Oh yeah, I wasn’t kidding when I suggested that trouble had a new name… And the trailer had more than just the single pink monster. So innocuous looking, but so much trouble.

    Over the past few weeks the growth has been phenomenal and the paths which are about four foot wide as a minimum were getting over grown.

    Your winters are I suspect just too cold for lemons, but add in a little bit of global warming and you never know.

    More rhodies have begun to bloom over the past few days. It was 82’F here today, and we worked outside on the garden terrace project until about 7.30pm. Lot’s to do before anything can get planted… I may have cooked my head a little bit due to the sun.

    Hehe! Thanks for the image of your dogs consuming the Halloween costumes. Just to let you know, Ollie would be well into that destructive gear too…



  36. Hi Lewis,

    Ah yes, thanks for the smoking temptation, but err, no cigar! Hehe! We could go on like this for a while! 😉

    It was 82’F here today and the sun shone down with some serious force. And things are growing. The editor came up with the details for part of the fencing on the new garden terrace project, so we just had to go out and pick up two proper four foot wide farm gates and then do a whole bunch of work. Not to worry, the recycled security doors will still be converted into gates, it is just that the project takes so many gates… And, anyway, we weren’t really sure how to do the fencing – until this morning. Worked on the project until about 7.30pm this evening, and then I soaked my head in cold water and sat outside as the sun set whilst the chickens were rummaging through the orchard. It was a long day, but I’ve read that people are a long time dead, so you know whilst we’re here and that… Alive and kicking and some such talk.

    Absolutely, it is one of those little economic issues that people love to dismiss. If the money goes elsewhere, then it is gone. It is sort of akin to the beautiful place that our recycling all ends up at: The magical land of away, where the little elves work at turning our rubbish back into useful raw materials. I tend to feel that over the past year or so, some of the global economy, has become less global in nature. Not that anyone notices these things.

    Far out, it is still hot here. It’s 10.30pm and outside the house the air temperature is still hovering around 68’F. I don’t feel that I over did things today, but I guess it is possible that that happened. Parts of the state of South Australia broke century old temperature records today.

    Hehe! Yeah, that happens to me to when I’m keeping my eye out for some mysterious potential purchase. The mystery machine was an absolute find, but more on that later. Actually, my lemon reamer is a plastic variety, but I should add that it used to belong to the editors mother, so it has been in use a very long time. Some of the earlier kitchen plastic items were quite well made, and they seem to be lasting the test of time. On the other hand, I’m less sanguine about the current crop of plastic stuff being sold – and I mentioned a while that I had to go some distance to find quality plastic containers so as to eliminate the final plastic bag wastes.

    Is made in Poland 30 years ago a thing to concern you? So I’m assuming that you nabbed the matching glass vase?

    Ah. Thanks to you and Claire, I’m beginning to get a different picture of corn. You may be amused to note that the huge grass seed is only consumed fresh down here, although some recipes do call for corn flour which is ordinarily used as a thickening agent. I’m going to have to cogitate upon what this all means.

    Hehe! Coming and going. Say no more, my friend, I hear you! And ouch… We’re only just getting into chili’s which I may begin planting out next week. I tend to feel that in a ‘normal old timer’ season like this one, the old timers rule about getting tomatoes (and peppers / eggplants / chili’s) in the ground by Melbourne Cup day will work just fine.

    Cool. So was that another way of suggesting that when it comes to the Celtic’s, the learned folks nowadays haven’t gotten their heads around the story? One of the things that interests me about the Camulod books is that there were just so many different groups of invaders to Britain after the Roman’s left. The actors as someone might quip, were numerous.

    Lewis, I’m likewise applauding the gumption of them priests! Good-on-em, the cheeky scamps. Invaded by the Visigoths and, you know, other minor issues like that. Hehe! What a great way to discuss history. Thanks for the link.



  37. @ Claire:

    I am so glad that your mother-in-law is doing so well.

    We’ve given up growing corn for the time being; we’ve had such trouble with it. I eat a lot of corn products. Even before I had to go gluten free I did so; I grew up on cornbread in Dallas, Texas. I knew about the possibility of niacin deficiency, but enjoyed reading the link you sent to learn more.

    Ha – apples! We have only one decent apple tree and the squirrels got all of those apples – and the peaches. That apple tree has been blooming for 3 weeks now; nice for bees, not so nice for next year’s crop.


  38. Chris:

    The murmurs are those undercurrents of “We are doomed – but everything will be fine”, with business as usual.

    That was a fine pun. Yes – rumours, as well as murmurs. Best not listen.

    I think our mice ate through the thin coatings of silicone sealant. If you are using heavy duty stuff it might work.

    Thanks to your inspiration I culled a bunch of overgrowth yesterday. I realized that I couldn’t pull up all that I wanted to in the actual beds as the birds will eat the flower seeds, etc. during the winter.


  39. Hello again
    I didn’t know the story of Vivian Statham; her capacity for human endurance was astounding. Couldn’t access the ‘angels of mercy’.

    Of course I pretended total ignorance when my mother asked what she was supposed to have done to my sister. I was in a particularly difficult position because I was not permitted to give my sister’s address in the US to my mother. Oh dear, this sounds utterly pathetic following on from Vivian’s story.

    I would have been quite happy to hear the sound of a freight train at night and I guess that one would get used to it eventually anyhow. I remember living close to a church clock that chimed every 15 mins; I ceased to notice it after a few weeks.

    Am I in a quantum situation when I dream at night that I am walking through the countryside? After all I am in two places at the same time.


  40. @ Damo – If you’re up for a bit of a scramble, down the rabbit hole, search “processed cheese product.”

    I saw the trailer for “The Art of Self Defense.” Read a few reviews. Just didn’t wind my clock. I watched, I think, the first season of “Lost”. Maybe a bit of the second season. I think my tolerance for “high concept” and just too weird, might be a bit lower, than yours. My loss, I’m sure. :-). There’s been quit a few of those, lately. “Orphan Black”, “Haunting of Hill House”, “Leftovers,” and that hacker one. Either I lose interest after a few episodes, or, don’t go near them, at all. Guess I’m just too stodgy for New Media. “Manifest” ended with a real cliff hanger (which isn’t a spoiler, really). Three major characters scrambling for a gun … there’s a shot! … return with us in season two, to sort that out. I’m going to peek, just because I’m old, you know. I like a good mystery, but sometimes, there’s too much mystery, and too many unanswered questions.

    Not to worry about too much population. I’m sure a good, rousing pandemic will sort things out. I see Quantas just inaugurated a non-stop from New York to Sydney. What could go wrong? Lew

  41. Yo, Chris – Pumpkin Pi? $10 a Safeway. Not going there. I’m pretty miffed at Safeway, right now. I did my weekly shop, last night, and the night manager actually approached me. Said the lack of the holiday flavors of ice cream were an ordering problem, that was getting sorted. She looked rather horrified, when I told her I wasn’t buying any ice cream, AT ALL, til they got it sorted. To add insult to injury, on my new “Just For You” computer generated offers, there was a 50 cent off coupon, for pumpkin ice cream. All well and good, if you have the product, on offer.

    82F would set a record for a spring temperature, here. I was going to report on the last go around, of heavy rain, but that graph has disappeared from the National Weather Service web site. At least locally. Broke the gage?

    Fencing and gates are always a problem. What works best. How much (and in what form) is too much, and how much is to little. There are books … 🙂

    Hmm. A good bumper sticker might be, “If you expect to sell local, than buy local.” Or, maybe, more to the point, “Go local or go home?”

    The mind boggles. What does it say when you consider the quality of PLASTIC has been cheapened? More crapification of everything?

    Here’s a pretty good, not too long article, about the six kinds of corn, grown in the US. Though, as a few comments point out, the article only has four of them. Jimmy Red, is mentioned. I think there are pictures.

    I happened to stumble on a book, at the library, yesterday. “”Blood of the Celts: The New Ancestral Story” (Manco, 2015). Recent DNA studies. Parts of it look pretty deep. The professor of the Great Courses, seems to be leaning toward the idea, that it’s not so much a matter of invasions of people, but more the invasion of ideas. Time may tell, I guess. Lew

  42. @ Damo,

    You’re experiencing the same thing I am with population. Watching farmland disappear for housing is disheartening. I like to eat! I like your comparison of humans to yeast in sugar water.


  43. Chris,

    I agree. The sign of proper nutrients in the ground is a healthy diversity of life including predators.

    I live 10 minutes by car from the house I grew up in. Twice I’ve moved away from Spokane, twice I’ve returned. The land is in my blood, methinks.

    I was very fortunate that I actually paid attention to mom’s bird watching and some of her other nature interests. Dad was into mountains and trees and hiking, too, as well as gardening. I consider myself fortunate that they had the interests that they did, and respect for nature along with the activities.

    Your blood alcohol question…It depends. One drink as you described for a 100kg man while consuming a large meal would keep the blood alcohol well into the legal range. A 60kg person on an empty stomach who chugged it down in one giant gulp just got over the limit. All I know is, at about 75kg, if I have one margarita with a large dinner, I am fine. If I have 2 margaritas with the large dinner (and these are large margaritas), I better do something else for awhile in order to be safe to drive.

    Carrot tops are currently green and undamaged by the frost. The grass decided not to go dormant after all, and is starting to grow again. I spent a few hours in the warm sunlight watching the grass grow this afternoon. As there were a lot of birds happily chirping away in my hedges and trees, it was truly fascinating and enjoyable.

    Ohhhh, the Alfred Nicholas gardens look amazing. Thanks! At the opposite end of town from me is Manito (pronounced man it toe) Park. It features Duncan Gardens, a formal rose garden and a Japanese Garden. It’s very pretty, but it is really a pain to get to, as it means going through downtown from my house, and downtown seems to be under permanent street repair/improvement and is a slog. It’s faster to get to Finch Arboretum.

    My parents grew plums. I always enjoyed them.


  44. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for describing how you consume corn. There really is no cultural tradition down here of consuming corn meal or flour (other than as a thickening agent). You’ve given me something to consider, and it may well be that a grinder / mill will be in my future. Do you have any tips regarding these machines for the complete novice?

    I have tasted corn bread which is quite nice, but down here is very rarely seen. Corn mush is an entirely new idea to me and I have never ever seen or heard of the stuff before. Nice to read between the lines and note that corn stores well. It would take a fair bit for me to swap from my regular homemade toasted muesli (organic rolled oats, pepitas, and peanuts – add honey and bake for 1 hour 10 minutes and stir three times so as to avoid burning).

    Thanks for mentioning nixtamalization, and I can see that the step is important before the flour can produce a dough such as used in tortillas. Fortunately I have lots of other edible plants that produce niacin so that is not a concern of mine, but on the other hand making a dough and producing tortillas… It seems like wood ash can be used, and that is my most plentiful source of lime in this otherwise acidic environment. Imagine burning up the rocks in the paths around here so as to extract the lime… 🙂 Wheat and corn will both grow equally well here, and a friend donated me a huge batch of organic wheat seeds and I’m yet to try them, if only because they are best planted in autumn down here.

    Ashmeads Kernel sounds like a delightful name for an apple tree. 🙂 We’ve been mucking around with cider and apple cider vinegar for a few years now and we used to use the sweeter variety of apples, but no longer. The more astringent tasting apples work far better in ciders and vinegars. 40 pounds of apples is still a good haul, and please keep your naughty squirrels up in your part of the world! If you feel so inclined, I’d be happy to donate some parrots? 🙂

    I still don’t have any of the summer crops in the ground yet, but am intending to begin the process of planting out seeds this week. I don’t feel that things are too late, but I could be wrong. The weather down under has been very strange of late and I’ll include a link in the reply to Lewis about one unusual positive feedback loop that has kept the drought away (so far) in my tiny little corner of the continent which is otherwise largely suffering from an epic drought. The weekly photos in the blog are at complete odds to the rest of the country.

    Glad to hear that your mother in law is doing well and settling in to her new home.



  45. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! And you called it, so photo essay it has now become! 🙂

    On an unrelated topic, cheese that comes supplied in a tube like, err, say a tube of toothpaste, is just somehow all very wrong. I feel that the question which should be asked is: what is that stuff? And cheese is rarely orange coloured. Tes not natural.

    Hmm, you gotta love stories were thorny and complicated issues are sorted out in under half an hour. Taken to its logical extreme, it is hardly any wonder that folks spruik for nuclear powered generators… I can just hear them going: I’ll just take this plutonium isotope, and a chunk of fencing wire, a bit of C4, and wrap the whole lot around the engine pulleys of the old FJ40 landcruiser, and bam! Nuclear freakin’ power. 😉



  46. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the clarification, and I hear those murmurs too – usually by folks who’d rather not be trundling off to work on a Monday morning. 😉 But exactly, best not to listen, and all we can do is but our best – whatever that may be. And adapt to whatever changes we find ourselves encountering.

    Thanks, and I note that the rodent had already begun scratching away at the engineering grade silicone (tough stuff) over night. But the rodent has already found a new entrance. More silicone is required. It’s a long game and inevitably I will lose, but until that time…

    Yup, finding a balance is an interesting task, and local conditions will vary from place to place. Down here it is usually early spring where the parrots struggle to get a feed – and any time of the year they are onto the dog manure. Ollie being large has been something of a boon to the local parrots, if you know what I mean.



  47. Hi Inge,

    It astounded me too when first I encountered her story. Her capacity for survival in the face of very bleak odds is as you say: nothing short of astounding. Not to worry, their story was not good.

    I would do no less than you when faced with the same circumstances. It took me a long while to realise that some difficulties are not mine to redress, but I may have been a slow learner. It is not pathetic at all, and if it means anything to you I have withheld contact from my mum and pulled away from her after leaving home at an early age. My dad who left when I was very young, was just hopeless and I wanted nothing to do with him. However, the editor who had a very loving relationship with her own mum attempted to rekindle contact with my mum, and she got burned. You know it wasn’t a bad outcome because she wasn’t left wondering as to why I took the path I did. It may surprise you, but I rarely dwell upon the situation if only because pulling away was something of a relief.

    Fair enough, and several decades ago I rented a flat which had a freight train line running behind it. After the initial adjustment period I could easily sleep through the racket, but there is another school of thought that suggests that I had less cares back in those days. 🙂

    Far out. Maybe? Out of curiosity, does the countryside in your dreams resemble your delightful island?

    Which made me wonder. I took a look at the gogle earth satellite images of your island and I noticed that along the water courses the plant cover was far greener than the surrounding fields. What also interested me was that the surrounding fields were all mechanically harvested (or mown). Do they grow grains or is the grass bailed for feed? Anyway, you can see the regularity of the patterns in the fields. Interestingly the only livestock I could see where some sheep and the occasional horse and that surprised me given the percentage of land cleared.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    Your store possibly needs to provide what its customers want, and explanations are possibly not in that list of wants! 😉 Hope they get the holiday flavours sorted soon. Incidentally, which holiday are they referring to?

    I don’t really consume that much ice cream, but I tell ya, after the dismal failure that was last Wednesdays dinner (more on this story to come), the editor and I hit a nearby traditional gelato shop and filled up on gelati instead. Do you get waffle cones in your part of the world? I picked mint gelati which had nice chunks of chocolate in it with lemon (two scoops). Yum! Waffle cones are excellent because there is not much better than packaging that you can eat.

    Ah, the marketing systems are in error. A shark like person would write into the head office and demand that if the coupon could not be redeemed due to lack of local stock, then . That sort of action is not my style, but mileage can vary. We’ve discussed this before, but I really try hard not to provide my details anywhere due to that sort of marketing. The other month I was at the local stock feed store (it ain’t fancy) and the person at the register asked me for my mobile phone number. I was like: What do you want that for? Of course I knew full well why they were asking for it, but resisted the offer to join their marketing club. I heard on the radio today that the federal government had again put forward legislation for a national ID card. They may have forgotten that they’re not very good at preventing hacks on their databases, and rarely do they offer explanations or apologies as to what was lost in the data smash and grab.

    Hehe! Yeah, mate it was almost a record breaking hot day here too! By the end of the long work day outside I felt as if I’d cooked my head a bit. A few minutes with the hose pouring cold water on my skull made the world a much nicer place. 🙂 Speaking of which, the climate here has been mostly sort of normal for this time of year (so far) and I spotted an article which may account for that contrast to the rest of the continent which is in the grip of an epic drought: Plummeting Southern Annular Mode to influence Australia’s weather. Most of the rain here is arriving by way of the Southern Ocean this year. And recently over Antarctica, there was a massive spike in temperature over the stratosphere. Also in positive feedback loop territory, the ozone layer over Antarctica is now apparently smaller than it has been for a very long which is apparently due to the spike in heat down there. All very strange, and all over the shop.

    Mate I’ve heard about them book things. Hehe! A good suggestion, but fencing around terraces on a small holding on the side of a mountain spur is probably not a topic specifically covered in those books. The editors suggestion for fencing is being rapidly implemented. But yeah, your point is a serious goodie, because reducing materials whilst ensuring that the fence does what it is intended to do, is a fine balancing act and can save a person resources and energy.

    Hehe! Love it! Go local or go home. 🙂 I can see that as a sticker on the back of a vehicle! I really try hard to support the surrounding local businesses that provide me with goods and services. And interestingly, of late the local sand and soil place has been unable to obtain the composted woody mulch that I’ve been enjoying access to for the past dozen years. The editor believes that it may have something to do with the fact that the local councils in the big smoke are mixing food scraps into their garden waste streams, so the resulting product is a higher value product which may not serve the same purpose as composted woody mulch. It may be that composted woody mulch is now a thing of the past? I can adjust for that, but it was a good product.

    It is pretty funny isn’t it? All I’m suggesting here is that I have plastic spatulas and plastic serving ladles from over two decades ago that are far hardier than the stuff I’ve purchased lately. Decline is when the older stuff breaks and it can’t be replaced.

    Thanks for the article on corn. The book I read on the subject of grains, by the most knowledgeable gentleman farmer: Gene Logsdon, failed to have lots of colour photos, and so the words relating to corn didn’t quite translate into understanding at the time. I must say this talk of moonshine all sounds very good to my ears. In 2020 we should have something more to say about that subject. Your Jimmy Red corn cobs look stunning. What beautiful colour they possess.

    That is possible, but don’t you also feel that ideas follow cultures and not just isolated people? Dunno.



  49. Hi DJ,

    Yeah. It would be nice to get a soil sample analysis done, but there are only so many resources to chuck around, so I have to implement a less scientific approach and just take a look around and observe what is working and what isn’t. Incidentally I mentioned to Lewis that the composted woody mulch that I’ve been relying upon for many years is becoming apparently hard to obtain. It is good stuff for the soil fungi and was sourced from chipped up and composted green waste from the big smoke residents. I’m sure that down there they are still producing the waste, but something has happened to it of late. The editor believes that the local councils are adding food scraps to the green waste and this has caused many problems. I’ll bet the rodents are having the time of their lives in the stuff (food and toasty warm housing all in one product).

    It sure sounds like it. 🙂 A person has to know their local country. I’ve always lived in Melbourne (or now out of it, but still close enough) and it always surprises me to read how mobile people in your country are.

    Yeah, you were pretty lucky to have grown up under the wings of two such people. As a contrast, people down here are exceptionally urban and when I was a kid with the exception of my grandfather I knew of nobody else who was interested in plants and / or the world outside of the city.

    Hehe! A fine explanation and I bow to your greater math skills. But yeah, you’re absolutely spot-on and people vary widely as to the reactions with their intake of alcohol. Your two margarita test reminded me of the well-known ‘windshield test’. If it works… I tend to stick to a pint (500ml) of dark ale (5% to 6%), and avoid the Russian Imperial Stouts (up to 12%) which are too strong for my senses. I once had a very tasty Canadian maple stout but at 12% it was akin to a Pan-Galactic-Gargle-Blaster with the lemon, brick, back of head, clop situation! 😉

    Time spent outside enjoying nature is time spent well. I usually sit outside in the orchard in the evenings with the chickens scratching their way around the orchard and just open wide to the experience. It is impossible to leave them outside and unattended because as everyone knows: Lots of things taste like chicken; however given that is the case, there are many things in nature that wish to dine upon chicken. I now rest my case!

    Very nice. And yes, constant road works seems to be a thing down here too. It is something that I do wonder about if only because it appears to be a recent phenomena.



  50. Chris:

    Your comment: “Decline is when the older stuff breaks and it can’t be replaced.” is pithily perspicacious. I like it.


  51. Yo, Chris – Nixtamalizaton is pretty interesting. So. How to make your own lime? A lime kiln, in your own backyard! Here’s part one, from Edwardian Farm. Parts two and three are in the top of the index, on the right. All three parts, together, is less than 15 minutes. I also noticed (but didn’t watch) some YouTube films on lime making, on a smaller scale.

    I was curious about burning marble to create lime. I know they did it, in the past. But, I wondered if marble converted to lime, easier than limestone? No definitive answer. Our local post office, here in Chehalis, has no WPA murals. But the walls are covered in white marble. What with all the postal boxes being ornamental brass, it’s quit a little jewel box. Something to keep in mind, when civilization unravels, and one need lime. :-). I’m always running across references to Roman marble going into the lime kilns, after the fall of Western Rome.

    The holidays are Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s. So, you have pumpkin pie, peppermint and eggnog, as the seasonal holiday flavors. Well, I had just decided I was “over” ice cream, when my neighbors care giver showed up with two quarts of peppermint ice cream. They’re back in stock. Yes, we have waffle cones.

    I should maybe explain the care givers. Residents can apply for a care giver. Eleanor, resisted for quit awhile. But, finally caved in. The idea is to extend independent living, as long as possible. It’s less expensive, than going into assisted living. Eleanor has two women who come in, I think, a total of 20 hours a week. They do light housekeeping, laundry, help with food prep. Help keep track of medications. No personal tending, like baths. There are two agencies in town, that provide the service. I don’t know how it’s funded.

    I’ve always been pretty cagey about giving out my phone number and e-mail address. Once I realized that not to do so, would create landslides of junk email and phone calls. LOL, I had a robo call this morning that said “press two to be put on our no call list.” Nope. That and links in junk e-mail to be taken off e-mail lists, just let them know it’s a valid number or e-mail address. Well, I guess marketers have to make a living, too, but I don’t have to play.

    That was interesting about the Southern Annular Mode. So, naturally I wondered if there was a Northern Annular Mode. Yup. And, after a bit of hunting around, it’s the same as the Polar Vortex. Which seems to be the term used by civilians :-). Prof. Mass has a post on our spectacular year for leaf change. It is a knock out, this year. This area has a mix of deciduos (the highly scientific term for “fall off.”) and evergreens. We’re getting a bit of light rain, today, and then we’re supposed to have a string of days as nice as yesterday.

    What’s really a pisser (can I say that?) is local businesses, that don’t spend locally. I saw that up close and personal, and can still get pretty wound up, if I think about it, too deeply. Water under the bridge.

    Peak composted woody mulch? No matter if it’s ice cream or mulch, it’s always a jolt when something that’s been on offer, no longer is. It kind of relates to our talk about the crapification of plastics. Eleanor and I were talking, last night, about how when something old wears out, or breaks, you just know the replacement isn’t going to be as good.

    Yup. Ideas travel more often than people travel, or settle. Even the Anglo-Saxon “invasion” is being rethought. Sure, a lot of the elites fled west, or to Brittany. But there doesn’t seem to be any mass slaughter, in the archaeological record of the rank and file Brits. They stayed in place, and adopted the Anglo Saxon culture. As far as outward looks. Clothes, religion, language. Go along to get along.

    I suppose you heard about the hoop-la over the bride’s halloween costume and K-Mart. It’s comforting to know you have whack jobs, down there. :-). Though I wondered if perhaps she was an American immigrant. If so, maybe you can deport her? I was miffed that K-Mart caved, to her silly concern. The comments in the article were overwhelmingly, not in her favor. And, some were quit funny. Lew

  52. Hello again
    The fields are mainly growing hay which is then bailed. Sheep and horses indeed but also cattle. It probably looked greener by water courses because we have had 18 months of very dry weather. Raining now though and my pond is full.

    Have just had a phone from someone asking whether I know that there is to be an attempt to close down one of the roads leading to my property. I didn’t know and got no info. as to where this came from. Drat, another thing to worry about. I actually suspect that he has it wrong and that it applies to another nearby road. My deeds give me rights over the mentioned road.

    The countryside of my dreams is varied. Some of it is the Island though in altered form. The Island is only my second favourite haunt. The first is the North Downs on the border of Surrey and Kent; so this also appears in altered form. Then there are unknown countrysides as well. I return to certain dream areas quite often. I often wonder whether my glorious dreams are due to the fact that I lead a very self disciplined and ‘dutiful?’ life. Not sure how to describe it really. It is as though the other half of my brain goes whoopee, freedom at last when I am sleeping. All a bit fanciful I don’t doubt.


  53. @Lew

    As a child I used to love plastic cheese (processed cheese product slice in an individual plastic wrap). From your suggested rabbit hole, I think a lot of Americans still love it as an adult! If there needs to be a TM symbol next to your product name, it probably is not going to be good :-0


  54. @DJ

    A while back I horrified a few people when I made the yeast comparison. They were not mollified when I pointed out all the similarities and exponential graphs…

  55. Chris,

    I hear you; soil analysis would be nice, but it’s costly, as could be the suggested remedies. Sometimes simply adding as much organic material to the soil will work just fine. I can tell by how things grow whether or not I need to add more organic matter to the compost bin for the next season. Also, your guess about the food waste contaminants is likely correct. Rodents must love being able to build burrows into the stuff and have a ready food supply in said burrows.

    My dad grew up in the boonies and mountains throughout much of the Great Depression. Hence, the gardening, as he grew up in a situation in which raising a lot of one’s own food was necessary. Being used to trees and hiking and whatnot probably added to the reasons why he bought the house I grew up in since it was, and still is, on the edge of town.

    Russian Imperial Stouts ARE very like unto the Pan Galactic Gargle Blaster. For about a decade I brewed my own ales, before realizing I have the gluten issues. So ended the in-house brewery! I had a normal recipe for stout that could be adjusted. It was about 6 to 7%. I did an Imperial Stout once and it was, ummm, strongly alcoholic. I usually amended it to turn out a fine Scottish ale.

    I had a basic pale ale recipe for about 5%. The Princess preferred that, but lower alcohol. So I tweaked it to about 2% without any loss of flavor. One time I tweaked it the other direction: I added a lot of extra malt syrup and 1.5 kg of honey. Soon after adding the yeast to the 5 gallon carboy, the fermentation began. Sooner than usual and very explosive. I called the brew Cheyenne’s Volcanic Ale after the Finnish Spitz who ignored the entire process. After spewing out a gallon of froth, and due to the normal sedimentation in the bottom of the carboy, the batch yielded 3.5 gallons rather than the normal 4.5. (Thordog, of course, being totally weird, loved to scarf down the sloppy sediments from the carboy. Which made him exceedingly gassy and moderately tipsy, so we kept him away from the process.) Anyhow, back from that digression, I figure that Cheyenne’s Volcanic Ale had to be near the maximum that fermentation gives of 15 to 17%. That was one tasty brew, but we always shared a bottle of it and then only when we didn’t have to go to our jobs the next day.

    One day back in the Pleistocene, Rakhi the Samoyed saw me drinking a beer and kept begging for some. So I poured a bit into her food bowl. She wanted more, so she got more. She was a bit out of sorts the next day. The next time I poured some into her bowl, she took one sniff and ran to the other end of the yard, not returning until she had watched me dump it out and wash the bowl. Smart dog.

    My morning break today was spent on a balcony soaking in the sun. Nice and warmish and clear, the sparrows were making a pleasant racket. Canada Geese kept flying in, as Riverfront Park downtown is nearby, and there are lots of eats and slow moving water for them there. And no hunting in town, so they are mostly safe. As you said, “Time spent outside enjoying nature is time spent well.”


  56. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Love that word. 🙂 Hey, on a serious note, I regularly use a plastic ladle and also a plastic spatula in the kitchen and the two items are well over 25 years each, and they’re still going strong. Have you noticed that some kitchen items these days tend to be made from some sort of silicone based material (certainly no material found in nature)? Today has been intermittently rainy and on the colder side of the story. Brr! I even had a winter coat on at midday today. The state to the south of me (the island state of Tasmania) has snow down to 800m (2,640ft), whilst the state’s to the north of me are struggling with bushfires and extreme heat.



  57. @DJ

    In a strange coincidence (or maybe we talked about it earlier), I am about to bottle some home-brew milk stout. Should be sitting about 6-6.5% and is very tasty straight out of the fermenter. So I have high hopes for it once it has aged in the bottle for 6 weeks. The bottling might be a job for tomorrow, or perhaps Monday (Labour day long weekend).


  58. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the confirmation, and bailing feed does appear to be one of the uses that land on your island is put to, given the runs of tractors that could be seen. Down here from what I understand there are few people these days that bail feed and the properties that have that done for them usually have long established relationships with the very few folks who can actually do that task – and have the machines with which to do so. The employment opportunities are limited given the seasonal nature of the work and the costs of the machines. It was not always thus. I assume the feed then heads over to the mainland? Maybe it was the time of year when the satellite images were taken but the horses and sheep stood out more to my eyes than the cattle, but I defer to your local knowledge. Up here there is a similar mix of livestock. I often observe horses being kept in paddocks that are too small for their needs, but mostly the cattle and sheep don’t appear to be being overstocked. Unfortunately, down here the economic costs of the land means that the sale of the livestock makes little economic sense. It is a situation that seems rather bizarre to me, but oh well I guess it will sort itself out with time.

    If your property title indicates that there is a right of way easement, then you’ll be fine. The bush telegraph is sometimes very wrong, and I’ve been on the receiving end of such news too. My thinking is that because such things are a legal issue, I encourage folks to put things in writing. It rarely eventuates.

    Oh my! The word ‘Downs’ is a funny word to describe an undulating patch of land, however I looked at many images of the area you mentioned and I was quite taken with their beauty. Your dreams are strong, and they take you places. To lead a decent and honourable life, in spite of the inclinations of ones fellow humans, is a worthy goal all of its own, so I dunno, but I respect someone who is ‘dutiful’. Too often people seek to shirk their ‘duties’ and it leads to their undoing. I sort of feel that to do what is needful takes a certain sort of courage that is lacking.



  59. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Where is the Mr Fusion (and hoverboards for that matter) that I was promised as a wee young and very impressionable lad. 🙂 Someone up here actually has a Delorean, and I’ve seen the thing parked near to the local cafe. Not to bag the creation off, but I’m genuinely amazed that the thing is still capable of being driven. 😉 Spare a thought for the mechanic that is paid to keep the machine going…

    Hope things are warmer over your side of the Tasman Sea? It was totally far out cold here today. No doubt that the weather is coming to a city near you, and soon.



  60. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, it is hard to know the underlying details of the soil without spending big bucks down here too, so I just take a sort of ‘add it and see what happens’ approach. Today a mate was asking me whether the soil creation process could be sped up, and I did try that with the new terraces this year, but even with all of the stuff I chucked onto them, I scratched away the surface and witnessed raw clay under all of the organic material. So, I still tend to feel that the three year rule applies to creating mineral rich top soil. If you learn of a way to speed the process up, by all means don’t hold back with the telling?

    Ouch. Another mate was telling me that into the food waste bins in the big smoke, people are adding meat products. And with the rodents, that would be akin to providing catnip to our feline friends. I’m really not sure that it is a good idea.

    Being on the edge of town has its advantages, and no doubt you have more land around your house with which to garden. 😉 Your dad sounds a bit like my granddad who despite not needing to do so, kept his household supplied with fresh vegetables. I have a lot of troubles with visual memories in that my brain just doesn’t work visually, but at whim I can still see the neat rows of vegetables in my mind. It was a huge growing space. And yeah, he used to drag me off on camping trips with his WWII drinking buddies into remote regions of the alpine areas. I ran feral on those trips and loved every minute of them. I’ll bet from hindsight you enjoyed the hiking trips? It was tragic to trundle back into the big smoke.

    Hehe! Glad you enjoyed the Hitchhikers reference. Mate, the Canadian maple stout was seriously like that and the next week I encountered the manager of the pub, and he said that I was, as he put it: “stitched up” as they weren’t meant to supply the stuff in a Pint glass (500ml). I sure felt it…

    And yes, gluten issues would put a dint in the old beer brewing activities, so you have my sympathies, but then on the other hand at least you now understand that something unpleasant was going on in your system and can take action to avoid further complications.

    Not sure about the sugar content of malt syrup, but given the name I suspect that the stuff was rich in sugar. BUT THEN… 1.5kg of honey is akin to adding 1.2kg of sugar into a brew. No wonder the little yeastie critters went into full on party mode. And with champagne yeast, I believe the highest fermentation one can achieve is 18%, but that takes a bit of ageing. Yup, that would do it for the poor unsuspecting, but helpful Cheyenne! Lesson learned and no harm done. Rakhi was of a more staunch canine with serious pester power who learned a tidy lesson. I don’t offer alcohol to the fluffy collective, but years and years ago ‘old fluffy’ the now long deceased boss dog used to pester me for a taste of port. So eventually I relented and she seemed to enjoy a tiny sample. Anyway, a the pestering continued at regular intervals, until she took things too far (as happens). After her small sup of port, she attempted to hump my shoe before heading off to bed and snoring loudly. After that outrage I sort of felt cheap and put an end to the small sips and used to shoo her away. I’m not entirely sure that she was pleased with this turn of events.

    Thanks for sharing the experiences from your part of the world. Cold and rainy here today with bouts of occasional (but still bitingly cold) sunshine.



  61. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, people suggest that the editor and I work too hard, but the young blokes working on the lime kiln in the video you linked to were the entire next level. I loved the video and many thanks for linking to it. The old kilns that they used were constructions of serious elegance, and it was good to see that they were in a useful state of repair. I’ve never seen such kilns anywhere down here, although there is a granite lined farm pond that I’m aware of that looks as though it has been in continuous use since the mid nineteenth century – as it most likely has been.

    Lime is a similar problem to that of salt, in that it is far from here. Although, you may have noticed that I use the locally crushed rock with lime, which comes from a nearby mountain? The mountain was originally a quarry that had been used by the indigenous folks for many millennia. The interesting thing about the paths here, is that plants near to the paths just grow better. Anyway, you may be surprised at the sheer extent of the activities at the many quarries on the mountain and also the vast area with which the items were originally traded. I noticed that in the article, the Mount Macedon range here was said to contain some of the nearest axe grinding grooves to the quarries. Mount William stone axe quarry.

    I don’t know much about the process of converting marble to lime either. It is amazing how many details of our everyday lives we hand over to others, I mean I can just go to the local sand and soil place and purchase lime and/or cement powder and not think much more about the materials. But then, one day the woody compost disappears. A mate told me today that the green waste in the big smoke is now having food scraps added into it, and that minor addition makes for a big change with the resulting materials. And would you believe people put meat products into the stuff in the green waste bins? The rodents would appreciate such nice gestures.

    Lucky you, and enjoy your unsought for peppermint ice cream. Yum! I never knew that about your holiday season extending in one fashion or another from Thanksgiving to New Years. As a comparison, we tend to have shut downs of one form or another, from just before Christmas to about two weeks afterwards, although it is getting less with each passing year. And I have to do paid work a little bit through both of those weeks, just because. The cost of not doing so is too high.

    A wise choice, if only because the next and higher stage of care comes with possible downsides, at least that is what I’m hearing from the Royal Commission into the matter which is underway down here. I can’t say that I’d play well with such rigid systems.

    Talking to robots is not entirely a good idea, although I do see people undertaking the activity, and you were wise to hang up. I get sales phone calls from distant countries where labour is cheap. They drive me bonkers and I just hang up nowadays.

    Cool. I had no idea that the two weather systems were similar in nature. Makes sense that if you chuck a bit more energy at the atmosphere over Antarctica, some of that cold air will drift north. Apparently there was snow down to elevations of 800m (2,640ft) in the island state of Tasmania today. No snow here, although it sure did feel cold and the clouds provided 1/10th of an inch of rain. All gratefully received. Brr! The Green Wizards had their annual visit to the farm day today, and a great time was had by all. Fortunately, we dodged the rain, although the heavens opened whilst we were at the local train station. I noted the good Professors essay and wanted to read that. A similar thing happened here last autumn, and the leaf change tourists were feral for about two months. This is a topic where I’m conflicted about the situation for purely selfish reasons. Hehe!

    Pisser is fine because down here it alludes to an amusing situation. But yeah, it’s not good, and interestingly before I committed to purchasing the mystery machine, I had to make sure the local farm machine repair folks were OK with dealing with the machine. I feel very lucky to have such a business which is not too far from here.

    Exactly, when the replacements are a problem, you just know something is wrong. I read the article over at the Daily Impact about air-conditioning machines and the author raised some very complicated issues about life as it is now lived in the south eastern corner of your country. I’ve never lived with air conditioning in a house, but yeah, I can see how it could become a crutch – and I say that with the experience of having to deal with somewhere between 3 and 11 days above 104’F per year to as high as 114’F. It sure gets hot in the shade here.

    Maybe the local folks were just never that into the Roman’s in the first place, and learned the old adage that: “when in Rome…”? It might have been only the elites that really copped it in the neck after the legions left? But then there must have been turmoil because there was the Arthurian cycle and also the later Viking troubles. Dunno, but there seemed little reason for raiders to kill off the local peasants, where they may otherwise have been able to purchase a meal – this year and then the next year? And all that gold that the Viking raiders were extorting from the local Kings, must have been needed for something?

    Nope, I actually hadn’t heard of the bride’s Halloween costume and K-Mart issue. The only problem I had with the costume was that it wasn’t all spattered in blood like a proper Halloween and possibly also zombie bride. I have heard very rare reports that down here there is the occasional child bride situation, which is frankly not good and not part of the general culture here, but mostly it is an issue for other cultures and that is their problem. We have laws in place against such things, and they are enforced, so I have no idea what the petition is about. Is the person who began it considering moving to such countries where the practice is rife?



  62. Yo, Chris – I’m glad you liked the bit of film about lime kilns. The two blokes who work with Ruth Goodman, on most of the farm programs, are both archaeologists.

    I was poking around to see what a substitute for lime would be. Wood ash. I used a bit of both, on my patch. But, oh, dear. I discovered that potatoes and pumpkins don’t like too much lime. That might explain why the potato and pumpkin, from the same patch, were quit small.

    That was an interesting article on indigenous stone knapping workshops. We have similar, here. Seems like archaeologists are always finding evidence of vast trading networks, here and there. Items turn up in the oddest places, far, far from their point of origin.

    “Contaminated” compost, always seems to be a problem. Given human nature. I hear stories, that they tried compost bin, here, once. To much “junk” ended up in it. Plus, there was never the manpower to turn it, regularly.

    Well, I wandered down to the Safeway, last night. You see, they had this sale. 1.5 quart containers of ice cream for $2.50. But, you had to buy four. Otherwise, they were $4. So, after clearing space in the freezer, I hit the store. Well, as I already had 2 containers of the peppermint, I picked up one of the eggnog. Hadn’t tried that yet. (Tasty, but not very “interesting”. No little chunks of anything in it.) And, I got the last three containers of pumpkin. All is right with the world.

    By the way, ice cream used to come in half gallon sizes. 2 quarts. Sometime, quit a few years ago, there was a switch to 1.5 quart containers … for the same price.

    Yup. The holidays are upon us. Not, you may remember, my favorite time of the year. Seems like everyone is nuts and distracted, and even the simplest errands take more time.

    The weather here, is going to be quit nice, for at least a week. Sunny days. But, I notice the forecast overnight lows are going to hover right round freezing. The Farmer’s Almanac and Old Farmer’s Almanac has revised their winter forecasts. Now they think the midwest and east are going to get slammed, time and time again, with cold, stormy weather. They never say too much, about the Pacific Northwest. Mostly, that it’s going to be weird, without too much detail.

    I’m glad the Green Wizards yearly trip to the farm, went well.

    That was an interesting article about air conditioning, at The Daily Impact. We are a spoiled, lot. Lew

  63. Hi Chris and others,

    I found a home-scale nixtamalization recipe that uses either ash from hardwood trees or baking soda. It’s in Sharon Astyk’s book Independence Days. The corn so processed is called hominy. Here is the recipe (with the caveat that I haven’t tried it yet but plan to):

    1. Soak 3 cups of dry corn in 10 cups of water overnight.
    2. Bring the corn and water to a rapid boil in a ceramic or enameled pot (don’t use a metal pot, the alkali will dissolve some of the metal).
    3. Add one cup of ash or 2 tablespoons of baking soda. You should see a color change, Astyk says.
    4. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 5 1/2 hours until the hulls start to come loose and the corn changes back to its original color. Stir occasionally, add water if needed.
    5. Once all the corn is soft, rinse it with cold water till it’s cool enough to touch, and rub off all the hulls. Drain the hulled corn. That’s your hominy.

    You can serve the hominy as is (add some butter, milk, sugar, and/or honey as you like). Or you can make masa (what tortillas are made from) by grinding the wet hominy, which is the traditional way to do it. Or you can dry the hominy and then grind it, which is easier, and make tortillas from that.

    For grinding grains, you can choose between electric or manual grain mills. You can learn about grain mills here:
    We have the Lehman’s Own with the optional flywheel, which is the best cheap option to grind a wide range of grains. I don’t know if you can get any of these where you are, but you can learn something from the write-ups about the various products and then look for a supplier.

    I grimaced when I read about the sudden stratospheric warming event, because we usually end up with much colder than normal weather from its knock-on effects. Sure enough, next week we are due for an early taste of winter according to the St. Louis NWS. One of the s-words has been bandied about in the forecast, as has the possibility of a hard freeze. It’s not too early, but still.


  64. Hello again
    I don’t think that the bales go to the mainland. I have seen an ordinate number of tractors on the roads and I think that Son said that the bales were going for bio fuel which was proving more profitable than supplying the locals who might need the stuff.

    I have been finding my pernickety, logical life with everything in its place extremely useful in dealing with my encroaching old age. I don’t believe that I have any dementia symptoms and no one in my family has ever suffered from it, so the genes are good. Nonetheless one does become less competent and the memory becomes less good.

    Still pouring with rain and the land is slowly returning to its more usual condition though the water table has not reached the top yet.


  65. Hi Claire, Lewis and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. Today I had plans to finish work at 2pm, reply, and write tomorrows blog. Reality kicked in and I only got the second gate installed at about 5pm. Projects have a way of doing that. Promise to speak tomorrow.



  66. Hi Lewis,

    I completely ran out of time today. The new garden terrace project has been epic, and I’m not far off getting the lower terrace fenced. The season is getting away from me and I have to begin germinating the corn, tomato, eggplant and capsicum / chilli seeds this week. And without fencing, the wildlife will enjoy a tasty feast of seedlings.

    Anyway, I managed to write tomorrows blog at least. Will speak tomorrow, but until then… Hope nobodies upset by my wicked sense of humour…

    I sold something on ebay recently and the cheeky scamp who won the auction, just never contacted me or paid for the item. Who does that? They just went silent, that’s a new one for me.



  67. Yo, Chris – We’re slaves to the seasons :-). Not such a bad thing.

    I watched the program about the renovation, in Northumberland, that Damo linked to. I couldn’t help but reflect that that’s the landscape and weather that the Roman troops experienced, manning Hadrian’s Wall. LOL, when the wife was mucking out the fist floor, with a pick ax, that 300 years of cattle leavings, I couldn’t help but think, COMPOST!!!
    So, a fortified farm house is called a Bastle. Sounds like a bastardization of the word castle. Was that, almost a pun?
    The flock of alpaca were a surprise. That was kind of from out of left field.

    It got very cool, last night. I dug out my winter jumper and threw another blanket on the bed. The overnight low forecast, has been revised down. Solidly in the 20sF. Lew

  68. PS: Flakey, flakey, flakey. Me, that is. I forgot to comment on your E-Bay outrage.

    Happens. Buyer’s remorse. Or, the bloke could have fallen over dead. One can only hope. :-). I think there’s a fairly painless process, for getting your posting fee back, at least. But, in general, you’ll find E-Bay pretty disinterested. Only a platform, don’t cha know.

    The other thing I forgot to mention is that I’ll probably be watching an old classic movie, this evening. “Night of the Hunter.” It became part of The Criterion Collection. That’s an organization that takes a classic movie, cleans it up and remasters it, and re-releases it on DVD. They also include lots of extra “stuff”. Interviews, a booklet with a couple of essays, etc. etc.. I watched all those, last night. I’ll settle in and watch the film, tonight.

    I saw it years, ago, and some scenes stick in memory. I don’t know if The Editor or you would find it interesting. Though it came out in the early 50’s, it’s set along the Ohio River, during the Depression. It didn’t do well at the box office, mostly because the film company really didn’t know how to market it. And, they decided it was an “art” film. The kiss of death. Box office poison. Some critics thought it was a horror movie. Bit of a stretch. I think it’s a bit like American folklore. Maybe it’s a movie, where you just have to shut off some critical parts of your brain, and experience it. Lew

  69. Hi Chris,

    The Delorean was a strange beast, made cool by the movie. I don’t think the reality of an old car, with all the quirks, could live up to the silver screen persona. But, worse things to spend money on I suppose (and a local mechanic business is supported by such follies)!

    The past few days have been a toasty 20 degrees C. Later in the week it drops again to 17. By the time December rolls around it should be pretty much 25 every day for 4 months.

    Sorry to hear about your poor meal experience the other day. Such things are truly a struggle. Especially when the meal has being looked forward to all day (or worse, all week). Such a crushing disappointment! And I am not even being sarcastic!!


  70. Hi Lew,

    The alpacas were a surprise weren’t they? I loved the little bit of history at the beginning, I didn’t even realise that fortified farm houses were a thing. But it makes total sense.

    The ironic thing is, the two of them got that house to a liveable, almost finished, state in only 9 months. On Grand Designs, with budgets that dwarf what they had, along with teams of contractors and no heritage restrictions, 18-24 months is quite normal. One could argue the foundations and structure was already present, but they had to do a *lot* of retrofitting.

    I watched the latest Japanese Godzilla movie (Shin Godzilla) yesterday. Subtitles, but pretty good despite that. Almost a documentary type look at the committees, press conferences and decisions that would happen if godzilla was “real”. There was also a fascinating subtext of nuclear power, deference to US wishes and self determination (I understand the older Godzilla movies had this as well, but this is the first one I have seen). CGI was a little on cheapish side, but was charming. A solid 3.5 stars.


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