Chickens, death and stuff

One of the Araucana chickens died earlier this week. One day she was bossily bossing all of the other chickens around, and the next day she was dead. Chickens are like that, and you never quite know when they’ll drop off their perch. Anyway, I discovered the lavender coloured Araucana chicken one morning sprawled out on her side where she was stone cold dead.

I recall purchasing her many years ago. She was offered for sale as a lavender coloured bird which laid blue eggs. That description may have been something of a flight of fancy, because she was and did, neither claim. To my eyes she looked sort of light grey coloured and laid off-white coloured eggs. After a year or so, I was not a believer of the claims. People dealing with other people in the world of chicken, probably need to keep their wits about them when considering a purchase. Definitely don’t believe the hype and always remain skeptical lest some sly person sells you Bessy the hen, who after several months turns out to be Dexter the psychopathic and highly aggressive rooster.

Chicken returns are very complicated matters unlikely to bring anyone any happiness, and I guess that there is a reason that the French developed the meal: Coq au vin, which can be literally translated as: Rooster in Wine. Nuff said and I’m sure it’s tasty.

Some folks who keep chickens for eggs have advised me to cull the entire flock every 18 months. That’s what commercial egg farms usually do (and possibly less time than that), which I’m sure it’s highly efficient (whatever that means). Nah, when it comes to chickens I’m a bit of a soft touch and have allowed them to reach venerable ages. They get to live out their retirement in peace. I can’t be sure, but birds are exceptionally gifted at teaching their peers, so the flock of chickens here, which contains many sage elders, is reasonably peaceful and always has been.

So far the spring has been very cool, unlike other parts of the country where the heat and dry can best be described as totally bonkers. I’m sure that when the heat arrives here in the New Year, it will be equally bonkers. But at the moment, the chickens are responding to the cooler weather by producing less eggs. Some days, the dozen chickens produce only two eggs.

Despite producing only two eggs per day, the chickens continue to eat, soil their bedding and drink fresh water. The water system has been long established and the water tank attached to the chicken enclosure fills using rainfall collected from the roof of the chicken run and hen house. The rain then works its way into the chicken enclosure using gravity, so there are no ongoing energy costs related to the water – and it is a system that just works.

However, the chickens feed is an entirely different matter. My understanding is that someone, somewhere else, is farming about half an acre of grains just so that my dozen chickens can dine upon their daily snacks of mixed grains. All I have to do is drive down to the local feed store, pick up a couple of bags of mixed grains for the chickens, and then drive back again. Easy. I’ve actually heard the ‘someone, somewhere else’ farming technique described as ‘ghost acreage’, and I quite like the sound of that technical term. When it comes to ghosts, I tend to take my lead from a ghost film of long ago which had the catchy ditty: ‘I ain’t afraid of no ghost’. On the other hand ghost acreage is something to be afraid of and the ongoing drought up north of this continent is pushing grain prices upwards.

Fortunately the chickens also enjoy scraps from the kitchen, plus huge amounts of fresh greens and other produce from the garden. So, all up the chickens are doing OK and living out full and meaningful lives – at least as far as chickens are able to do so.

But then that still leaves me with the problem that the dozen chickens are sometimes laying as few as two eggs per day. Maybe I should just listen to advice and relieve them all of their heads, and begin again. It’s not as hard a job to do as you’d imagine, and with practice it gets easier. Mind you, I have no plans to do that any time soon, and the chickens need not fear for their peaceful retirement.

I often wonder about how my own retirement will play out. Retirement is not a subject that is actually on my mind, it is just that because of my profession, people (of all stripes) regularly talk to me about the subject. It isn’t a subject that I’m interested in, however I like to help where I can and when faced with the retirement question, I offer some friendly advice: Get some friends, join some groups and develop some hobbies. People should pay for such wise advice.

I’ve long since come to terms with my gut feeling which suggests to me that I won’t be able to retire. Anyway, for my generation the retirement age was lifted to the age of 70 a few years back. I’m decades away from that age, and yet I’ve got this gut feeling that due to the future economics of the situation, I’m really not sure that retirement as it is understood today, will even be possible. I’m thinking it will look closer to what my grandparents enjoyed, and I don’t recall them going anywhere at all, and they certainly weren’t buying take-away coffees every day. At least they had a productive garden. But the core story of commercial egg laying chickens being culled after 18 months has never been lost on me (roughly interpreted as: Be productive or lose your head!)

In the meantime, the chickens enjoy a peaceful retirement free from the stress of sharp heavy knives, and I foot the bill.

Scritchy the former boss dog is also enjoying a comfortable retirement

Scritchy the former boss dog is enjoying a comfortable retirement, but it is hard to ignore that her physical and mental health is deteriorating.

This week we worked towards installing the fencing around the garden terrace project. It’s a big project that takes up a big area, and so the fencing is likewise a big job. The first job to tackle this week was creating two gates from the steel security doors that I picked up at the local tip shop.

A steel security door awaits it’s awful fate at my hands

I cut the security doors down to a more reasonable size for gates. The hinges and handles had to be removed. Holes in the steel mesh had to be repaired. Then I cracked out my new arc welder and welded new tops and bottoms onto the gates. I like my new arc welder, and purchased it on a whim after receiving a 50% off offer from a machinery supply business which I’d had previous dealings with. How an arc welder can be delivered to this remote spot for under $200 is a true globalisation mystery.

The next day, the two tip-shop-hacked gates were installed on the garden terrace project.

The author enjoys getting the tip-shop-hacked gates installed onto the garden terrace project

I was particularly pleased with the arrangement that I’d developed for the hinges because the gate can swing both inside and out of the garden terrace. Here’s a close up of how the hinge works:

A close up of the gate hinge arrangement which allows the gate to swing both inside and outside the garden terrace project

Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (sorry, he’s actually an Australian cattle dog) was visibly upset that he was not allowed to stomp the daylights out of the new cement step that we poured.

Boss. All I’m asking for is just one footprint. It’s not much to ask for!

Whilst we were mixing cement, I also dug holes for, and then cemented in, another seven treated pine posts around the new garden terrace project.

All of the treated pine posts surrounding the garden terrace project were installed

Very strong welded wire mesh was then installed on the outside of the garden terrace project on the side that has the gates. The wire welded mesh can be cut to accommodate the differences in ground levels, and the horizontal lines also sort of match the other enclosures on the lower terraces. And the welded mesh is most certainly wombat proof. Wombats are tough as, and they can bend all manner of steel fencing – but not this stuff.

Welded wire mesh was used as fencing on the side of the enclosure that has the gates

The gates and fencing can be more easily seen from inside the enclosure.

Looking at the fencing and gates from inside the enclosure

In future years, the garden terraces will provide us with an additional 200 lineal metres (660 feet) of growing beds. And we’ll sure make good use of that. For this growing season, despite our best efforts, the clay soil is just too new to grow heavy feeding vegetable crops. On the other hand, the roses are growing really well in the conditions, but they were planted in late winter when the project was far from complete, and the plants have been fed regularly ever since.

The two dozen rose plants in the garden terrace project are growing really well

Close up some of the flowers are spectacular, and the varieties were chosen as much for visual pleasure as for fragrance.

Some of the roses are spectacular

Another trailer load of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime was added on the path leading from the driveway to the garden terrace project. This path doesn’t look much, but is around 80m (262 feet) long end to end. Epic!

Another trailer load of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime was added on the path above the house

Sulphur-crested cockatoos are occasional visitors here, and it is hard to ignore them because they screech just to let you know that they’ve arrived. They can live for up to 80 years too, so it is best not to annoy them (or feed them) as they probably have long memories.

A Sulphur-crested cockatoo surveys the farm from way up high

The continuing cooler than average weather (with the occasional bonkers hot day) has meant that the soil hasn’t warmed up much and the growing season may be very short this year. I tested the soil two days ago and it was only 15’C / 59’F which is on the very cold side of things for many of the crops that I usually grow.

Two days ago the soil was only 15’C / 59’F which is cold for this time of summer

Despite the cold soil, we are harvesting heaps of strawberries. And they are very tasty. Most of the berries are being frozen and when we’ve harvested enough, we’ll turn them into jam and strawberry wine (which is really tasty stuff).

All in a day’s harvest! Ripe and very tasty strawberries

The corn seedlings are growing, although the cold soil has meant that germination rates from seeds are as low as 20%. It is enough to make me purchase some corn seedlings (but editor says no and recommended instead for me to buy some patience)…

The corn that did germinate is growing strongly. Germination rates were very low this season

Zucchini (courgette) is doing well and most of the seed germinated. Zucchini is the plant that I believe is the closest relative to that of a Triffid just because the fruit grows really fast.

Zucchini seeds have only just germinated in this raised garden bed

Wild rocket has slightly taken over one of my three asparagus raised beds. That is not a bad thing because the asparagus spears in that bed were still too new to harvest. We’ve been eating fresh asparagus from the other two beds for many weeks now.

Wild rocket is very tasty, and also very fast growing

The apple trees are having an off year. Every second year, apple trees decide that they’d rather grow than produce fruit, so in such years there are few apples to harvest. The few fruit that the trees have produced are growing reasonably well.

Apples are beginning to put on some size

The apricots have produced a very nice crop of fruit and I’m watching them eagerly and will harvest them as soon as they’re ripe. Mostly, we preserve the apricot crop for consumption over winter.

The apricot crop is growing well

Onto the flowers:

The three kiwi fruit vines produced a single fruit last year. Let’s hope they do better this year, and these flowers are an encouraging sign
Nasturtium is an edible plant that happily spreads around the garden
The Lavender against the strawberry enclosure is epic. Spot the odd poppy out happily growing in the center of such beauty
Canary Island foxgloves are tough as, and I have to remember in autumn to source a few more of these plants
The garden bed in the embankment behind the house is a riot of colour and life

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 21’C (70’F). So far this year there has been 715.4mm (28.2 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 715.0mm (28.1 inches).

64 thoughts on “Chickens, death and stuff”

  1. Hi Margaret,

    I believe Damo might suggest regarding your keeping up with the comments situation is that: ‘The Struggle is Real’. A very amusing insight (and nod to his correct sensibilities), but you know I have trouble keeping up with other blogs too, let alone all of the projects here that call for my attention.

    Just for your interest, I have heard stories that the credit limits are now 33 times higher than what you were offered, and there are plenty of folks which use the credit to go on overseas travel. Of course hangovers always follow big parties… Have you heard such stories?

    Thanks for the terminology. The thing I wonder about ‘loss leaders’ is who takes the loss? It could be any number of people involved in the supply chain. I tend to feel that selling goods below cost sets dangerous expectations.

    Hehe! Yah, inappropriate dress is a problem down this way too. You should see what some of the city folk who visit the mountain range during the autumn leaf change wear. I guess autumn in the city is a different experience to autumn weather in the mountains. Hmm. Although I’ve noticed from time to time that during the depths of winter where I’ll be rugged up with woollen hat and sheepskin jacket and multiple layers of clothing, people get out of their cars at the local general store in the cold winter mornings wearing shorts and t-shirts. It makes you wonder how hot their houses are heated? The heating bills would drive me bonkers.

    Ah, your basement is not a cool store, it’s a plant room. All is now explained. I mentioned to DJ a few days back as to just how good some of the damp proofing materials are these days. I guess it would be extraordinarily hard, if not impossible to line the external walls in a basement of an already existing house. Talk about buying trouble attempting such a project. Have you ever heard horror stories of sump pumps failing? Many years ago a plumber was pushing me towards such an arrangement for the roof drainage on a house. The water was to go into a pit and then an electric pump would send the water elsewhere. Except that I had to argue with him for quite a long while because he hadn’t quite grasped the concept that during really big storms – the power can go out and the pit then floods.

    The play sounded lovely, and total respect to the young actor going the extra mile for the performance. That is otherwise known as ‘responsibility’ and ‘commitment’. All very unfashionable words in these enlightened times. Although, there is another school of thought which suggests that the understudy could have also used the chance to display her mettle in front of the audience. I’m sort of torn between sheer respect for the gumption and determination displayed by young Anna, and my more pragmatic side.

    I could barely believe it but the temperature in the shade reached 100’F today, and wow was it hot or what? I spent the day in a warehouse that became hotter as the day went on. On the way home I listened to a youth news program where they were discussing climate change and bushfires. I was almost tempted to phone in and join the discussion on air, but my views are perhaps unpalatable. Hehe! Anyway, a cool change is apparently due to arrive over the next few hours and tomorrow is forecast to be 66’F. It is making my head spin… Hope the snow holds off a bit for you.



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Far out it was hot down here today. 38’C / 100’F, but we had it easy compared to most of the rest of the continent: Early-summer heat to challenge records this week. The entire house is now wide open to the cooler (a relative concept) evening air, and I believe that a cool change will soon make an appearance and will hang around for the rest of the week. However, in most other parts of the continent, the heat will linger and be prolonged – and perhaps record breaking.

    What an historical rabbit hole you led me down this fine evening! Glastonbury is a fascinating place and I would rather enjoy visiting the tor. Alas, it is very unlikely to happen. However the history of the place was beyond amazing from the pre-history all the way to the Norman conquest. The eventual dissolution of the monasteries was of particular note and the old saying about ‘following the money’ would perhaps apply in this instance. Interestingly I wondered how it came to be that the monasteries had become so much of a rich target waiting for the right royal plunder? There is definitely a story in there. I was amazed to read an anecdotal account that a huge proportion of the adult population was involved in monastic duties at the time of the dissolution.

    I also noted with interest the story of Joseph of Arimathea. Lot’s of talk of doings and also possible doings to increase prestige and income in later years. Ah, I can see part of their downfall. Alas for them.

    The Arthurian world as recounted by the author Jack Whyte, is indeed epic! Gaul looks like an interesting place, and I had an insight into the sheer mass of people moving from place to place seeking new territories with which to expand into. Now what was the insight again? Perhaps it was that old Europe had long over reached its resource base, and ecological pressure was immense.

    When I was a kid I went to visit a replica gold mining town (which was established on an actual gold mining town – a good use of existing buildings if ever there was one). I recall with wonder the workings of the old printing press and its many steel type pieces – which were still being used. I’ve never seen one anywhere else, and thus my question to you.

    You are having a retail-pocalypse. How is the war going Brother Lewis? 🙂 Down here, some of the large corporate retail chains are pressuring landlords to back down on their rental demands. In particular they’re closing shops so as to place pressure on landlords. I’m watching that story play out with much interest. Retail does it tough down here from what I can see, although expected returns from large corporate owners appear rather high. There have been a number of apparent very high profile employee retorting scandals, and the ultimate beneficiaries are extraordinarily wealthy. I do wonder how much their wealth is worth if they can’t get around to paying employees correctly – or at least not mischievously.

    Total score with the pumpkin mix, although your description does not make me tend to feel that the outcomes met your expectations. I do often wonder at the sheer genius that is packet cake recipes. I mean the bulk of the packet contents is flour which looks to me as though it is being sold at a premium. I tend to go right back to basic raw ingredients if only because the recipes are usually not that complicated.

    Stay strong and avoid the temptation to complete the collection! Always a peril. I worked in a warehouse today and by late afternoon my head began feeling the heat. The cool change looks like it has finally arrived here as it is now only 60’F outside. My head is beginning to feel less foggy. 🙂 This may be a bad thing though?



  3. Hello Chris
    I remain astonished at the amount of work that you get through!
    The dreadful New Zealand story has full exposure in the news here.
    Meanwhile the fates are gunning for me, one thing after another. The worst is that the powers that be are trying to down grade my road to a bridleway. Motorized vehicles are not permitted on bridleways. As near as I can work out, they can’t stop me from using a vehicle on this road as we have done so for 70 years. However, the form that I have been handed to fill out, is horrendous. Have been spending the week-end notifying other people who are seriously affected. None of us knew what is happening and a friend phoned me with the info. Shall stop writing now as I find myself incapable of thinking of anything else.


  4. Yo, Chris – What can I say about the promise of chickens? “Truth in Advertising” seems to have become “buyer beware.” We actually used to have federal agencies, that kept track of that sort of thing. Still do, but they seem to lack teeth. I suppose money influence has something to do with it, coupled with things change so rapidly now, that it’s like trying to hit a moving target.

    The veg store where I buy eggs, was out, last week. And, the owner told me he didn’t get very many dozen packs. But that’s kind of encouraging. I realized that The Girls, are off the lay this time of year, due to day length and molt. So, wherever they’re coming from locally, The Ladies aren’t being tortured into producing more eggs.

    I wonder if any small chicken flocks manage to be entirely fed on what they can forage. Back when farms were farms, I suppose there was enough spilled grain about, to keep the chickens going. And what they could pick out of undigested stuff left behind by other animals. I think Joe Saltin’s chickens, rotated in behind hoofed animals, might be fully self supporting. And, there’s always the problem with predators.

    The archaeological world is agog, right now. Four Roman eggs were excavated in Britain. Three were broken during excavation (I guess the stench was unbelievable), but one made it out of the excavation, intact.

    Well, as I’ve said before, I think a “happy” retirement depends on expectations. At least your grandparents didn’t have to worry about being wiped out by health care costs.

    Your gates are wizard! Did that bit of filagree come with the gates, or did you create it? You might want to patent that hinge design. :-). Ollie is just channeling his Roman ancestors. It’s in his genes, to mark your concrete work. I always smile when someone comes up with a Roman roof tile that someone, or something has left it’s mark on. Dogs, cats, birds, deer. The occasional small child’s footprint, or a hobnailed sandal. A message from 2,000 years ago … “I was here.”

    The fences and gates marching up (down?) your hillside give a nice … regularity to the landscape.

    Your roses look pretty happy. I can see a bit of new growth. Always a good sign. Work on the path continues anon. :-). Pretty soon, you’ll be able to see it from space!

    I resisted the urge to see what sulphur-crested cockatoos sell for, here. Given their longevity, and a little luck, they’re probably a good investment.

    Well, your corn germination rate is probably due to the weather, maybe. Or, the quality of the seed. You’d never know if they mixed in a bit from previous year’s seed harvests. You might want to cull out some of those apples. Finger nail clippers work well, for that kind of fiddly, close work. You know, in your spare time :-). Might be an interesting experiment to try, on a couple of branches. Reduce each cluster to two … see if it makes a size difference.

    The Canary Island Foxgloves? Can’t save a bit of seed, or, divide the plants? Save a bit of $$$? Just a thought from the armchair. 🙂 (Cont.)

  5. Cont. You can keep your heat, thank you. I suppose you look at the rest of your continent and consider yourselves lucky? Prof. Mass has been banging on about how warm and dry it’s been, here.

    How did the monasteries get rich? Well, usually they were established by nobels, to insure their place in heaven. Money and land. Land which could be used to either support the monastery directly, or rented out. People used to leave them money or land, in their wills. So that masses would be said, to pray them out of purgatory, or hell. There was also income from pilgrims .. if you had a hot property that produced a few miracle healings. Say, the veil of Veronica, or the toe bone of an apostle. Maybe a fragment of the true cross. Chains that held St. Paul, in prison?

    But, they also did a lot of good. At least the “better” monasteries. Value judgment here. They provided some of the first hospitals and places for travelers to stay. Provided education. Established industries. Everything from iron working to fisheries. They were a central authority, and provided direction. Sure, they had a lot of almost free labor. The whole mindset, was different then. You’ll run across a little riff in Wyatt, about doing things “for the glory of God.”

    Good grief. The first two chapters of “The Spear” run over 150 pages. Wyatt needs to take a breath!

    The pumpkin mix was from a pretty good company. And, I didn’t look at the ingredients in detail, but the list was short. Always a good sign. The history and psychology of cake mixes is kind of interesting. They came into being in the late 40’s and early 1950s. At first, it was “just add water.” And, they sat on the shelf. They discovered that housewives wanted to fiddle with them a bit more, so that they could “own” them.

    The big craze over here, now, is something called a dump cake. (Not to be confused with a mug cake :-). Apparently, you throw all kinds of stuff in a cake pan, and it all separates out to form layers, in the baking. I think I may have had one or two at a potluck. Tasty, but pretty spongy and not well organized.

    LOL. Well, I found a complete set of the rooster headed canisters, on E-Bay. All six of them. For the low, low price of $250. Plus $60 shipping. Not tempted at all. But, I’ll keep an eye out for them. Judging from the few that are for sale, they are a bit rare. I suppose because the rooster head was probably easily damaged. I see also, that the molds went to china, when the company closed. There are a few that claim to be “depression” glass. But, the colors (green and pink) are “off.” And L.E. Smith didn’t make them, that early. They are a product of the 1960s. Buyer beware, indeed.

    That was quit an article, about the volcano. Darwin in action? Well, I’ve always said that tourists pay their money, and take their chances.

    I finished watching “Star Trek, Discovery.” Hmmm. What to say about it. Well, it’s a bit histrionic. Lots of scenery chewing. There’s a lot about family, of one sort or another, and all the drama that that involves. By the end of season two, without too many spoilers, the Discovery can move away from the canon, and shoot off in all kinds of new directions. Overall, the time was worth the ride. I guess.

    LOL. But I feel a little “used.” Resistance is futile. According to Wikipedia, the whole point of this series was a “beginning of a wider expansion of the Star Trek franchise.”

    What I did find interesting was the many “behind the scenes” extras, provided with the DVDs. Everything from sets to costume. They really are a bunch of people committed to a “mission.” Mostly people who had watched Star Trek from childhood. There’s such an excitement … and feeling of carrying on a tradition. They really are a diverse and odd bunch of people, and I wondered what life trajectory led them to all wash up, at this time, on this project? Lew

  6. Hi Chris,

    Sorry about your hen but we should all be so lucky to go like that.

    Wanted to clarify that there were no underscores for those acting in the play.

    Hope to find time to comment more about retirement later in the week.


  7. Hi Chris,

    18 months life for a hen! Who are these people, and why keep hens at all if you just plan to bop them off at that age?

    The struggle certainly is real, I had to travel again this week on a plane (3 or 4 times past month). The view was nice in the setting sun, but I was too far away to see the recent volcanically active island. Luckily, in this town I am staying tonight, there is a proper german restaurant that brews their own beer. A nice wheat ale with snitchzel, complete with side of mustard, well the struggle might be real, but sometimes you can forget it 🙂


  8. Hi Inge,

    Thank you, and sometimes the amount of work we do astounds even us. The past week was perhaps a day longer than I’d usually spend working about the farm, but the season was getting on and once the fencing project began it was difficult to not complete the job due to what the wildlife would have done if it was left even slightly unfinished. Your greenhouse incident was perhaps a tidy example. 🙂 The wildlife are a true joy and they keep me on my toes.

    It is possible that the powers that be no longer wish to maintain your road, thus sparing themselves a bit of expense? Dunno. You could always ask the authorities to explain themselves? Some mates of mine have to maintain a very long private road that is shared by a few properties. My understanding is that they and their neighbours have to jointly combine resources and pay for the up keep. However, I’ve noticed that along their road, there is a fence-line and another road on the other side of the fence. I suspect that there may be historical reasons for the duplication, but I don’t really know. It is possible that in the future your good self and your neighbours may have to combine resources and maintain some of the immediate infrastructure in your area?

    On a somewhat related issue, the government has deftly forced me to upgrade my dumb phone to a smart phone. I have to comply if I wish to maintain working in my profession. A sad day that I have long resisted.



  9. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, I tend to feel the same. She was quite plucky right up until her final day, and there could be worse fates in store than that.

    Ouch, oh, Anna really did extraordinarily well in those circumstances. A true trooper, and one to watch. Determination is not something that can be taught, it has to come from within.

    It is a fascinating subject and I look forward to reading your thoughts on the matter. Most people expect me to speak of finances in relation to that particular story, but no, as far as I can understand things, the social side of the story is by far more important.

    Hope the weather has been kind to you and Doug.



  10. Hi DJ,

    Thank you for thinking of me in the land of Down Under. Well unfortunately tomorrow brings the dreaded mid-week hiatus. It is all very awful is it not? 🙂

    Hope you’re enjoying yourself and having some relaxing down time.



  11. Hi Damo,

    Respect for the wombat! 🙂

    Yeah, the person who first alerted me to the awful possibility with chickens (which they kept, for a while) had really wonderful new-agey beliefs – except when it came to productive egg laying chickens. I guess that was just all biz. When the person said the observation to me (and they’re an acquaintance and not a friend) I put my best poker face on, but thought to myself: That’s some cold sh*t, dudette. But yeah, all the same you don’t really want to get too acquainted with commercial bird practices.

    Mate, it happens and there is no judgey stuff here. It has been many long years since I travelled on an aircraft (or anywhere really far away), but I’ve done more than my fair share of plane travel back in the day so guilty as charged. In your case, you are rendering unto Caesar and all that, and mate you just have to do what you’ve gotta do. And yes, the struggle is real (I quoted you here the other day!) 🙂

    I envy you your struggles with the excellent German food – and you are so naughty with that particular spelling!!! 🙂 Surely it has become ‘meme’ status by now? All I can add is: Stay strong Brother Damo and keep up the good fight. The war on quality food is indeed long, sacrifices will have to be made…

    The volcano was not good. Do you know, the editor and I in a true moment of utter stupidity whilst in NZ last century, snuck past the barrier and touched the face of either the Fox or the Tasman glacier (A truly dumb moment)… A couple of tourists were squooshed long after that doing the same stupid thing. If I recall correctly the hire car company was rather outraged that the vehicle had not been returned by the dead. Not a good look. Stranger offers to pay glacier death debt. On a more practical matter, the keys were apparently very difficult to obtain from the deceased. One of those bizarre moments, and believe it or not long ago I worked for a place that had problems with deceased people and their vehicles. A very strange time… Not quite ‘repo man’ but not far off it either.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, a similar thing used to be in force down here too. Now, I just have to be careful when purchasing chickens, and sometimes when the chickens are young it is really hard to know whether they’re a hen or a rooster, and I’m quietly grateful if they’re all hens. Years ago the last rooster that I had was no gentleman, and the little blighter would attack me whenever I went to feed the chickens. I woke up early one morning (not my finest hour) and bopped him as I’d just had enough. Not only was he attacking me, he was killing off the bantam hens. I gave him the benefit of the doubt, but he was a vicious bird and so received what was coming to him. Mind you, I’ve had other roosters that were fine, he seemed to be more the exception than the rule.

    Your veg store is seriously sourcing local eggs. Good stuff, and diet needs to vary with the seasons anyway. I don’t generally purchase eggs, but the way feed prices are going up due to the drought, I’d be amazed if the egg supply is all that good down here.

    I reckon the chickens would be fine here too if I could let them roam all day long in the orchard. They’d do just fine. The thing is something would come along to eat the birds – and it wouldn’t take long. Salatin is onto something, and in a strange twist of fate, I met the bloke a few years and had a few words with him back when he did a talk down at a local farm on the western side of the range. They’d brought him out for the talk, and I really enjoyed his sense of passion and the systems he developed were really good.

    The Roman egg find is amazing. And I’ve encountered the occasional off egg, and it is not good at all. A truly memorable olfactory experience. It makes you wonder what is contained in the egg that was not cracked. Surely the archaeologists are remotely curious? Apparently another intact egg was found in excavations in Rome. Bonkers. Consumption of the contents would not be recommended…

    The gumbmint has had an Orwellian win over my freedom. If I wish to continue plying my trade, I have to upgrade my dumb phone to a smart phone. The decree has come down from on high and there is little choice in the matter. This afternoon I was so angry about it, now however my anger is simmering away on low. I had this thought this afternoon of old George Orwell hanging up there in the northern Scottish islands plugging away at writing – and mate he would have loved to add smart phones to his story. Oh well, I’ve got a few tricks up my sleeve still, but the noose is tightening. Resistance is futile.

    Thank you for saying that. Yes, the filigree came with the gates, and we chose those two wrecked security doors because we knew how they’d look. The details in relation to the hinges was a bit foggy, and inspiration hit me one day about how it should all work. The pin things are called gudgeon pins. A bit like dudgeon or bludgeon, but probably more useful. I could actually do that sort of metal scroll work. Have you ever noticed the front steps here? I commissioned a metal-working artisan to make the stairs up and he cut moon shapes into the steel and wove steel flowers around the stringer beams. When people get around to seeing it (they rarely do), they’re quite amazed. And metal stairs tend to be less damaged during bushfires.

    I asked Ollie about that, and he agrees with you, and says that it is all very unfair that he can’t sign his doggie initials in the cement works. Ordinarily I’d be concerned for his well-being, but one cement step he left about thirty footprints on – and thus he took things a little bit too far. I didn’t let on to Ollie that he had your support in this matter only because he needed no encouragement.

    🙂 Order from the chaos, whilst still being part of the chaos with the garden terrace project. All seems like a good idea to me. The terraces are very aesthetically pleasing. Strangely enough, around these parts people construct houses on terraces cut into the hillsides, yet few people consider using the same excavation techniques to produce gardens. Dunno why.

    The sulphur crested cockatoos are really smart birds, and just to prove how smart they are, they can talk – and plenty of people train them to talk a bit of potty mouth. And the birds play along. U-toob will provide! It’s makes me blush the things those birds say.

    You’re onto something with the corn seed germination story and we’ll have to look at how we’re doing that at the end of the season, and get better at it. Thinning the fruit is something that commercial orchards do. The local parrots happily do the job for me for free. That is how it was done back in the day. Even after the parrots deprivations, there is still plenty of fruit hanging in the trees, although I really do need to purchase (or make) and orchard ladder.

    The size of the fruit trees is something that always worries visitors. I need the trees to be big so that they can develop huge root systems and be less prone to drought shocks. Where I could, I specifically chose rootstocks which produce big trees. It is the exact opposite of what commercial orchardist’s do.

    I just don’t know enough about the Canary Island foxgloves and they are in a tough part of the garden and are thriving, so I have no desire to disturb them and they’re really a bit of a mystery to me and like everything here there is so much to learn.

    We’ve been lucky with the climate here – for the moment. All things are subject to change at short notice and without warning on that particular front. But up north it is truly bonkers. Sydney smoke at its ‘worst ever’ with air pollution in some areas 12 times ‘hazardous’ threshold t.

    Toe bone of an apostle seems like an extraordinary claim, although since you mentioned it, it has probably been used. It rings a bell. Has it actually been used? And the Veil of Veronica is a goodie too and frankly a bit eerie. Careers would have been made speculating upon whatever happened to the veil of Veronica. Yeah, I tend to agree with you in that the monasteries would have been places of learning, and given the number of people involved in them at the time of the dissolution it would have been a good career option for a person displaying certain aptitudes. Did they seek power, or did power just come their way?

    Haha! I’m still in the midst of the King’s explanation of the background of young Clothar – who seems to be taking it all pretty well, all things considered. And Germanus is woven into the tale. The story never lets up for a second.

    A ‘mug cake’ sounds as if it was a concept taken out of a sailor Steve Costigan story! How would it be used in context… Get ya dirty mug cake out of here! Hehe! It’s good and has a nice ring to it. A dump cake sounds like something that would come out of the rear of the cattle dog Ollie. One thing I’ve learned about big dogs…

    Yeah, well in a moment of stupidity last century the editor and I snucked past the barriers and touched the face of a glacier in NZ. A truly idiotic move on our part. Didn’t think much about it until a couple of young tourists got squooshed by the same glacier a few years later. The keys to the hire car were apparently trapped in the disaster, and the hire car company appeared to haved little sympathy for such excuses. What is death when compared to hire asset return dates? Contracts wait for no death.

    Good to hear about Discovery season 2, and I applaud such enthusiasm in the makers. Resistance is futile, and I guess perhaps paying subscribers push for what they want. Politicians appear to have the same troubles, but perhaps on a larger scale? 😉



  13. Hello again
    More power to the elbows of the groups getting together to fight the fires. I hope that they remain safe.
    I always understood that some hens turn into roosters.
    The local authority does not upkeep my road nor do they have to. It is a private dirt road. There is a sinister undertone to do with a local’s attempt to get outline planning permission for 40 houses; he would need to use one of these roads for access. He does actually own the road in question so it is very complex. There are 3 roads involved in the attempt to turn them into bridleways and I believe that I have vehicular rights over all of them. Anyhow, I have now turned it over to my solicitor.


  14. Hi Chris,
    I don’t disagree with you regarding retirement in the future – it won’t look like it does now or at least for very few. Even for those my age more and more people aren’t retiring either because they fear having nothing to do or can’t financially hack it. However, if one wants to retire and doesn’t expect travel and doesn’t expect all the other accouterments people think goes along with retirement it would be possible for many more. As I’m of that age I know many retirees and most aren’t living extravagant lifestyles by any stretch of the imagination and many spend much of their free time volunteering for causes/organizations that are important to them. Just because you retire from a job doesn’t mean you retire from life. Some people, (mostly teachers and government workers) retire from one job, collect a pension and then move on to another job for awhile. It used to be a teacher and some government workers could retire at 55 but that’s pretty rare now. I was able to retire at 60 but now you can’t until you’re 65. I feel like I’m just rambling here but retirement can have many faces. You say you don’t think you’ll retire but what does that mean?

    My BIL just came over. He’s been retired for 8-10 years and was a cardiologist. He’s been training Crisis Intervention Teams for the Chicago Police department which helps officers deal with people with mental illness. However he just did his last session this week and I’m curious as to how he’ll spend his time (my sister is too haha). Hopefully he won’t be driving her crazy.

    I have another friend who retired to The Villages in Florida with her husband when they retired from their teaching jobs. As far as I know they just play all the time. I think you’ll get an idea of their lifestyle from their website That is an example of the last way I’d want to spend retirement.


  15. Yo, Chris – Roosters: Some animals are like people. Psycho to the extent they ought to be put down. Or at least, come to a very bad end. There’ll be a discussion of psychopaths, coming up in “The Lance.”

    So you met the Great Man. Did they touch the hem of his garment? Were people swooning? 🙂 I’d forgotten you met Mr. Salatin. I’m a bit of a fan boy, myself. I’ve read all his books. Julia lets her chickens free range, during the day. There have been losses.

    I suppose, sooner or later, they’ll x-ray the Roman eggs. Maybe do some genetic tests. Now THAT would be interesting.

    You’ve been forced to take up a dumb phone? What the heck! I can’t figure what the reasoning behind that is. I’m feeling a bit hemmed in, myself, but not to the extent that my lively hood depends on it. There’s money in their, somewhere. Someone’s palm is getting greased.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a picture of your front steps. Pitch one in, if you think of it. There are times and places where ornate ironwork comes into play. The New Orleans garden district, comes to mind.

    Oh, so Ollie decided to do a tap dance, on the fresh concrete. Or, a Tarantella. His ancestors were more restrained. In fact, I found an old portrait of one of Ollie’s fore bearers. Show him what he must aspire, to. 🙂

    Why don’t more people do garden terraces? Maybe, it’s the work involved? :-). Lazy slackers. Maybe all those people who read your blog, but don’t comment, view it as a cautionary tale?

    The problem with my seed corn, is that even though I soaked it, overnight, some of it kept wanting to come bobbing out of the ground. I have one Elephant Garlic that pulls the same trick. No matter how much dirt I shovel on it, or how deep I thrust it, it keeps making an appearance. Just out of curiosity, I did a quick search of starting Canary Island Foxglove. Lots of articles on the net. I didn’t delve into the details, but they can either be started from cuttings or seed. Seed should be scattered on the ground, as they need light to propagate.

    Sydney is beginning to look like Beijing. I see the ash is turning ice fields in New Zealand, pink. That was an interesting article about people pulling together to defend their own patches, against fire. Risky business. Here, some rich people just hire their own fire crews.

    Monasteries and convents were often endowed by nobility, so they were often run by nobility. They were handy places, in some cases, to park all those extra sons and daughters. Or widows who were tired of the marriage game, and wanted to “retire from the world.” The reason there are so many orders of monks and nuns, is that, from time to time, someone would have a better idea :-). Usually, to return to a more austere form. Monastic reform swept through, from time to time. Sometimes from the top (the Pope) down, other times, from within. Martin Luther was a monk who started off seeking reform, not separation. I think, maybe, he was played a bit, by nobility, as they wanted to throw off the yoke of the Church.

    “Young Clothar. As you’ve suspected, all along, your REAL parents are a rock star, and a super model. But they’re not coming to get you.” Etc.. My there sure are a lot of characters with names beginning with “C”. And consonants are thick on the ground. :-). Almost as bad a Tolkine, novel!

    The Editor, you and the glacier. Well, no Darwin Award for you lot. Not for lack of trying :-).

    Raining like heck, today. I see by our National Weather Service, that two fronts are coming in, and this is the lighter of the two. I’m sure Prof. Mass will have something to say about it. By the way, “The Daily Impact” has a couple of new posts up. Lew

  16. Chris,

    Yes, the Oregon grapes produce fruit. It’s a bit tart, but I can eat and enjoy the fruit, although my wife won’t touch it. My parents’ house was on much better soil than the sand where I now live. I attribute the good growth of their Oregon grapes versus the slow growth of mine to the better soil at their place.

    The long weekend was VERY nice. We got a lot of relaxing done, something we’ve both been needing. And we visited a branch of the Spokane County Library system – they’re not yet purging their books as the City system is, so we were able to get library cards and get a bunch of books and music CDs and stuff.

    Sad news about your chicken. Kudos for resisting the 18 month thing with regards to your birds. Most people don’t understand that chickens have personalities and they really become pets even though you’re eating their eggs. As you noted, the older hens, whether still laying eggs or not, seem to add a level of order and maturity to the entire chicken coop.

    Chris, nice gates! Reusing someone’s junk is good, something my dad tried to teach me to do. As my wife said when I showed her the before and after pictures of door turned into gate: “That’s using his noggin!” Which is a big compliment from her. Oh, and “That’s impressive.”

    I have to side with Ollie. Whenever I see some fresh concrete, I really really really want to leave a pawprint, er, footprint or a pithy remark or something in the concrete. But my better nature always comes to the fore and I resist the urge.

    The new path is looking good.

    The type of spring you’re having is another good reason to be growing a variety of fruits and vegetables, isn’t it? It looks like it’s one of those years for you when conditions are so changeable that it’s nigh impossible to know when to plant what. At least planting a diversity of things might result in some things growing?

    I read that you’re going to be required to obtain a smart phone in order to do your accounting work? What the blazes? As you said, “Resistance is futile!” The Vogon guard phrased it “Resistance is useless!” So the observation is required that not only are governments using “1984” as a how-to manual, but they are now channeling their Inner Vogons. Interesting times, indeed. 😉

    Thanks for mentioning that nasturtiums are edible. I never knew that before. Gets me to thinking.


  17. Hi Chris,

    Tourists do all sorts of silly things, like ride scooters in 3rd world countries without a helmet, walk up to glacier faces, or eat at a fusion restaurant.

    I could lambast you for the glacier incident, but it was probably pretty cool at the time, hopefully you got a photo. We visited several active volcanoes in Costa Rica. They could go at any time, or not for decades. I guess stay at home is also an option.

    I have decided I need to visit the German restaurant again tonight, just to confirm it isn’t a fluke and they are maintaining standards day to day.


  18. Hi Inge,

    They’re still around to talk about there feats, so I suspect the facts speak for themselves! How funny was the claim about being half price, but twice as good? I can relate to that. 🙂

    Not that I’m aware of, however hens will definitely fulfill most of the roles of a rooster – even including crowing. Very adaptable creatures.

    Good move, it sounds like a legal question to me. We’ve had some interesting things going on down here on such fronts: Developer coached Casey councillors via text messages during council meetings, IBAC hears



  19. Hi Margaret,

    As a culture we kind of don’t spend too much time on the idea of meaning outside of the dominant narrative, and I have noticed that retirement is a sticking point for folks where they’re left asking the hard question: ‘what next’? It’s a fair question too… But yeah, as Yogi Berra quipped: The future ain’t what it used to be. You have to admit he has a good point! 🙂 Spot on too, I wouldn’t have considered that aspect about ‘possible’, it’s kind of a form of letting go, but I’m not really sure. I once heard someone describing as facing increasing irrelevance, but that felt a bit of an extreme perspective to me, with a grain of truth.

    Volunteering is a great idea, but yeah you raise a great point and I have noticed that some folks tend to base their feelings of self worth and status on their job. I was made redundant from a job as a very young bloke and so I never felt the same way.

    Actually that’s a great question and I have no answer for it. My gut feeling tells me that things will be odd by then and so I’m taking a wait and see approach, whilst continuing on with my plans.

    Haha! Oh yeah. Ouch. Well you know, when I stepped away from the big end of town, I had to not use a command way of speaking. The editor I have to say had no tolerance for such things. We worked things out pretty quickly and most the time the editor is in charge of the projects and work – which suits me just fine.

    Scary. Yes, I too am afraid – and need I add that every time I hear the word Florida – I think: Dexter. The books made many fascinating claims about Miami. Not sure I’d enjoy such a place either. Actually crime rates are usually higher in gated communities.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    The particular rooster in question was named ‘Brian’ after the fictional character Dexter’s brother. He was no good, and I woke up early one morning and just dealt to the problem. There’s no good time for such things. And yes, the book did cover the King’s perspective on the matter. He was rather pragmatic about them and the threat they pose.

    Far out, I didn’t think to look for that. They might have been swooning. Hehe! I was pretty chuffed to have a short conversation, but he was busy working the crowd so time was limited. 🙂 I should have got him to sign one of his books. The best ideas I note, often come way after the moment has long since passed… There are just too many predators waiting for an easy snack – and chicken I must add, tastes like chicken with the texture of chicken. As far as live-stock goes, they’re actually good value, but I heard quipped once long ago: Once you have live stock, you’ll have dead stock. I’d hate to have to deal with the carcass of a cow.

    I was thinking about that too, and DNA testing might produce some interesting finds. Given what the other eggs were like, I’m not sure how much DNA would be recoverable, but you never know.

    The phone thing really annoys me. Apparently, it is an ID / authorisation thing and there is no other software platform to be used – and it is heading in the direction of biometric data capture. Spy agencies of yore could not have asked for such a device, paid for by the users… There is no choice in the matter. Other firms were cracking it about their staff having to use their phones during work hours – apparently the devices are addictive and so bans outside of lunch breaks are in place in some firms. What a nightmare.

    Ah, I’ll see what I can do about a photo of the stairs. Some of the gardens down here use metalwork sculpture in among the plants.

    Marcus the Roman Centurion guard dog looks like he means business. It’s in the eyes. Ollie is interested in becoming a Centurion. He almost was knighted this morning for capturing the feral rabbit. It was the closest that they’ve yet been. The rabbit was either stirring Ollie up, or made a mistake which Ollie capitalised on. It was close.

    Haha! Thanks for that point of view. Yes, here lies the cautionary tale. I never would have consider that aspect of the ongoing story. But yeah.

    Thanks for mentioning the issue of light and the seeds. That might be a problem, but taking from cuttings sounds good. There is a little black bird – nice song – but far out the little blighter digs the soil around seedlings and seeds. Something like that might be going on? Have you got any ideas as to why it’s happening?

    Mate, in more ways than one. In really dry years, dust storms in the big smoke can be epic. And up there this is a very dry year. If you get a chance, check out some of the satellite images of the smoke and how far it’s drifting. The implications for the future are there in that story. And what is interesting is that the act itself builds community links. I was interested to read that many of the folks didn’t know each other well before the unfortunate but timely get together. Just by hanging around they know their chances and risks. The media and warnings down here don’t talk up the situation, the message is kept simple as.

    I always appreciate you introducing me to fascinating historical characters. Gee, he was a bit of a firebrand and did some good stuff. One of the humourous sides of life is that some great people can talk equally great ideas, and some really bad ideas all at the same time. It’s complicated.

    A rock star and a super model. A fine pedigree, although he probably needs to work on improving upon his fathers discernment. A difficult task to be sure, but one well worth the attempt. I still have trouble with the good Prof Tolkien because he ran out of steam and used the words ‘and stuff’. Yeah, like what stuff was what I amusingly thought. I say that knowing that I will never reach his heady heights of literary excellence. It is nice to have something to aim for. 🙂

    Cool but sunny again here today. I’ll check on over at the good Prof Cliff blog to see if he is writing about your rain.

    Gotta bounce.



  21. Hello again
    I am appalled at the obligation to have a smart phone. Big brother indeed. I assume that you can still have other phones and wonder what room for manoeuvre is there. I don’t want you to feel that you have to answer this.


  22. Yo, Chris – Where I was before, we had a Ghost Bull. That’s what I called him. He had escaped a roundup, and, for a couple of years made occasional appearances in the back pasture, outside my kitchen window. Well, he started to get pretty aggressive, and finally my landlord put him down. He field dressed out at quit a few hundred pounds. But the carcass was left where he fell. The raptors made short work of it. And, probably the coyotes, at night.

    So, this whole phone thing? Is it mandated by the Australian government, or, your accountants guild? I wonder if it will be used to track billable hours? Sign in when you reach a job site, sign out when you leave? In related madness, my boycott of Safeway continues. Even though I have the card, and get some weekly “deals”, “just for me”, they now have some coupons in the newspaper, that you either have to clip out, and take to the store, or, scan the barcode in the ad, on your “device” and then …. I don’t know, as I’m not going there. I’ve managed to source just about everything I usually buy, except for high octane chocolate bars for less than $2, and, Shiitake mushrooms. But between your agro, and mine, I feel like running off and living in a little stone cottage, similar to Merlin’s in his hidden valley.

    Oh, I think Ollie will work his way up to Centurion, someday. Unless he really puts his foot in it (maybe, literally), I think the lad shows great promise. But, we won’t tell him. 🙂

    Well, I must say that my seeds grew quit a bit better, when I started paying attention to recommended soil depth. :-). I mean, 1/8 inch is just a sprinkling of dirt, over the top. The little black bird? Well, he’s probably hungry.

    Really? Tolkien did that? LOL. I once pointed out to Mr. Greer that he started off an awful lot of sentences with, “Still, …” I got a rather sharp, rebuke. As was deserved. But, I’ve noticed he doesn’t use it, near so much as he used to. :-).

    Oh, dear. Prof. Cliff is banging on about climate change hysteria, again. Most of the comments are supportive. I wonder if there will be unpleasant demonstrations in his classes, and public appearances?

    I saw a trailer, yesterday, for a new Ghostbusters film, that is coming out, next summer. Out of the city and into the country. With a mostly new cast of young folk.

    We may get a bit of wind, today and tomorrow. We’ll see. I can see from my window that northbound traffic on I-5, is moving very slow. Must be an accident. Lew

  23. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for your thoughts on the Oregon grape. Did you consume the fruit in its natural state or did you allow to ferment slightly, or was it in a jam form? Curious minds and all that… Hehe! Yup soil is everything, have you done much different with your sandy soils this year and are the dare I say it fruits of your labour bearing fruit? The soils in the inner big smoke were like your sandy soil and I’m guessing it has to do with them being nearer to the ocean. Although such logic doesn’t apply in your case – unless it may have been underwater at one stage? Anyway, in the big smoke the water used to drain through the stuff until it hit the granite bedrock (which wasn’t that deep). I’d noticed water oozing across the surface of the bed rock when my building excavations went that deep. I did the excavations by hand too, and had to mop up the water with a mop before the inspector turned up. Ook!

    Good stuff, and nice that your library isn’t following the example of the city library. Anyway, why are they purging books? Did a bit of relaxing today as well – there must be something in the water.

    Thanks, and the older chickens appreciate being able to live out their lives and do their chicken business (!) – which incidentally is just another of the services they provide. The orchard soil really appreciates the: nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium among many other minerals. Buying the food in for them is a form of importing soil minerals. One of my goals is constant improvement of the soil, and fortunately our society is so incredibly wasteful that it makes achieving my goal easy as. If ever our society got serious about creating less waste, I’d begin to feel the loss. 😉 I guess it wouldn’t be too bad an outcome would it?

    Can you believe the security doors were only about $25 each at the tip? Bonkers, and I have enough scrap materials left over to create another gate. And the compliment was much appreciated.

    DJ, mate, stay strong and resist the temptation. The people who seek such nice even finishes in their concrete may take umbrage at your artistic license. And I dread to think that Ollie is reading your comment over my shoulder.

    Diversity is everything in an edible garden. At the last gubermint election where I worked counting, I spoke to a bloke who was raising cattle to the north and west of here. It had been a dry and hot year, and he said to me that he’d planted a lot of salt-bush on his property and during the summer he still had feed (which the cattle loved) when all around him was a bit lean. The orchard here follows a similar strategy and there are plenty of different varieties of plants even within the same family. I gamble on early and late varieties too – and that can make a difference.

    Hehe! Yeah, resistance is useless!!! Funny stuff, and dare you take on their poetry at your peril. Hehe! Run for the ear plugs… The authorisation application is a smart phone only application – despite the access being via the interweb and PC. Hmm. It is their idea based on a Two Factor Authentication model. Too bad if you don’t have a smart phone. And I’d have to suggest that all accounting practices now have to pay for their employees phones (not a drama here, but for larger firms it sucks to be them). I’m trying to track down a smart phone that has a long battery life and is fairly indestructible – what I have seen so far of these things does not inspire me with confidence… I’m open to suggestions based on experience. I’ll tell the story this week.



  24. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Yes, do I recall that at one stage you went on an epic scooter ride in a foreign land. A true adventure, and yes, occasionally we all push the boundaries from time to time. We just have to be thankful that we are still here to tell the tale! A young bloke was airlifted back down under after a recent scooter accident in Bali. Not sure I’d like to travel there nowadays due to the sheer number of people – and I’ve read that there are water resource dramas. Fusion restaurant indeed! Yes, indeed a true challenge for the taste buds – and whatever does it actually mean? You’re a braver man than I! I keep knocking back people who ask me to come along with them to experience high end restaurants. Not for me thanks very much.

    The glacier madness was a cold day in early September, so there wasn’t much energy around. And I don’t know whether I’m entirely comfortable putting such photos of me on the interweb… We all know the truth of the matter, but it’s the photographic evidence of the foolishness that presents the real problem. The thought of the huge chunk of ice squooshing me was not even on my mind that day.

    Not sure how you feel about the matter, but just day to day living is an inherently risky business. People forget that, and I sort of suspect that some of the emotions come from that place. Dunno, what do you reckon?

    Where standards maintained? Mate, I’m jealous of such great food heights. 🙂



  25. Hi Inge,

    Thanks, and I too am outraged – one perspective tells me that they are outsourcing the costs of maintaining security on their interweb site.

    Yeah, not a bad suggestion with the second phone, but down here it would also double my cost. I’m getting closer to the acceptance stage. What else do you do?

    Actually, I’ve decided to write the story of it all for the next blog, so no not to worry I am absolute happy to talk about the subject. It is eating away at the benefits of one of my main strategies.



  26. Hi Lewis,

    I sort of recall you mentioning the Ghost Bull from back in the day – although that could be an incorrect memory. I take your point though about nature abhorring such waste and getting on with the job of sorting and sifting through the carcass. Speaking of memories and Ghost Bull’s, if I recall on a related note, some farmer in the UK had to put down the last Nazi cows in existence. Apparently there was some of environmental effort back in the 1930’s to breed and release cows and bulls that would replicate the role of the now extinct Auroch’s in the landscape in Europe. Your mountain lions are bad enough, but with them you might stand some sort of chance (maybe, but probably not), but a rampaging Auroch would be something else altogether. Hippo’s in Africa are some of the more dangerous animals floating around the landscape. Incidentally the photo of the mountain lion peering in through the window would be quite the shock to see in the outer suburbs during a late night. We have no such toothy large animals in theses forests, although there are plenty of things that can lead a person to a bad end. And I don’t mess with the big bull kangaroos and they can happily do what they want to do and get left in peace.

    It is actually the gubermint that has mandated the use of these dumb phones. I have this notion that they’ve managed to outsource the cost of some of their interweb security onto us users of their systems. As far as I can tell, I have little choice in the matter, and am just now trying to track down a device that is hardy enough and with a big enough battery to deal with the rough treatment my current device shakes off with aplomb. They’re expensive little blighters. I’ve decided to tell the story in full on the next blog, but my rattled emotions are nearing acceptance as I admit defeat and render unto Caesar and all that.

    Clothar’s background story is very long and complicated and requires a lot of telling. I note an absence of Auroch’s in any of the books so far. 🙂 And I’m still in chapter two whilst being deep into the book…

    It would be nice to have access to a little spot like Avalon. 🙂 Alas, woe is us, we feel that we know the world.

    I read your comment out aloud to Ollie and he puffed his chest up and stood just that bit taller. Yes, I too feel that he will be one of the nicest dogs that I have encountered. Not to disparage the others, Sir Scruffy was without doubt the most intelligent dog that I have yet encountered. He learned and copied the others, and then finessed. Plus he sulked. What kind of dog sulks? It was very endearing as you knew whatever he was sulking about was important to him.

    Soil depth is very important with seeds. Yup. I read that some of your indigenous folks in really hot and dry climates, planted their corn seeds very deeply. The rule around here seems to be as deep as the width of the seed. How does that accord with your understanding?



  27. Hello again
    The rain is absolutely chucking it down. Am just back from voting. As the result is a foregone conclusion on the Island and nothing that I did was going to make an iota of difference, I was able to have fun with my vote.
    I look forward then to your article next week as I am interested in the details and ramifications of the smart phone story.


  28. Hi, Chris!

    That is very merciful of you, and wise, to keep on your old chickens and not chop off their heads. They already live in the lap of luxury, what with strolls in the garden and a hightech water system. They even have masterpieces on their house! Still, just in case, perhaps we’d better tell them “Danger, Will Robinson!”. Though they may not have TV in their Chook Palace . . .

    How nice is it that your soil thermometer has the best temps for planting some vegetables labeled right on it.

    I never expected to retire, but I am a rural housewife, and who is going to do all this stuff if I don’t?

    Hi, Scritchy! You still look lovely. No use sulking Ollie, though your artistic ambitions may be denied.

    I wonder where your tip shop gets those doors? I’ve never seen any used ones around here. That’s a beautiful reincarnated gate. What fabulous, practical hinges! Thank you, genius idea noted.

    I wonder how many posts and steps and gates there are on your property? The archeologists will sort that out. That’s a double terrace, that new one. 262 ft. – I knew that was a road!

    I don’t like it that you have been forced into smart phone. I don’t have one and have hated them when I have borrowed them, just because I find them difficult to use, but are they much different from a laptop? I remember when my husband and I were shrieking many years ago when he was forced to use the internet for his business. Ha – look at us now, we’re mostly okay with it.

    My husband went to buy ethanol-free gas at the only place around here that has it. The little station has gone fully automated – no person selling Cheetos anymore inside and only cards used at the pumps. I use only cash – so am I going to have to make an exception for this?

    It must smell so good around your place with the lavender and roses and everything else.


  29. Yo, Chris – Off to a late start, today. I slept nine hours, last night! And I slept hard! Don’t know what that was all about.

    I think every once in awhile, I read about attempts to bring the Aurochs, back. I think they were part of the ancestors of today’s domestic stock. Had quit a horn spread, as I remember. Besides hippos, water buffalo can be quit testy.

    Clothar (et all) didn’t have to contend with Aurochs, but there seemed to be plenty of near prehistoric bear and boar around. Oh, and mustn’t forget the Irish Elk.

    Yup. At least you don’t have things with long fangs and claws that might try and hunt you down. Maybe the odd pack of dingos. :-). Actually, there’s a few things you can do to thwart a cougar. Never break eye contact, back slowly away, never turn and run. Same with bears, except with a bear, you should NEVER make eye contact.

    The footage of the cougar in California, was really something. Some of the footage had the cougar glancing into light, and the eyes just glowed, in a rather fiendish way.

    Yeah, best mull over the dumb phone situation for a few days, so you can lay it all out for us, in a considered way. Twice now, I’ve run into an “extra layer of security” situation, that there was no work around. My credit union and the Washington State retirement. Now, you sign in, and then have to go to a separate site (e-mail) to get a code to get into your account. In both cases, you COULD have the code sent to your “device.” If you had one.

    All this supposed emphasis on greater security. I suppose some smart arse convinced the powers that be, that it limits their liability and exposure, to spread around risk. I think it just creates more opportunities for hackers. More points of entrance. I mentioned that to my credit union, and they just looked at me like I was nuts.

    It was interesting, in the Star Trek Discover, they’re about to visit a planet, that doesn’t have warp drive. So, they have to go incognito. When discussing who the landing party is going to be, they take along a junior officer “who was raised in a Luddite colony.” Just a tossed off line, but nice to know in the future, there are still people who aren’t buying the narrative.

    Corn is supposed to be planted, 1 1/2 – 2 inches deep. I think I shoved mine in 3″, had no problems with germination, but still had the odd seed bobbing to the surface.

    Raining like heck, today, with a bit of wind. “Slight chance of snow” is in the forecast for Saturday night, Sunday morning. We’ll see. Lew

  30. Chris,

    Woke up Wednesday morning to 5cm of snow, which is NOT a lot for here. My morning bus was nearly empty: most of the students were not riding. Schools were NOT delayed or closed, parents simply kept them home. My wife mentioned that she saw very few of the 15 year old and younger students either. Why? The RISK of 5cm of wet, icy snow was too great for people to face. We’re doomed. I remember once when we got 30cm in one storm, I walked 15km across town to meet friends for dinner. I then had to walk back the same distance. Did I mention we’re doomed?

    Oh, we warmed up Wednesday night. It started raining. We’re getting a lot of rain now. The snow has all melted.

    Whenever I ate the Oregon grapes, they were freshly picked from the shrub. Where I grew up is close to the Spokane River and about 100m higher elevation than the river. Apparently back in the day, perhaps during several of the Lake Missoula events, that home’s elevation was also a riverbed. That would explain the rocks and small boulders! But it also had good soil, no sand. My current home is all sand…

    So, the leaves and soil prep…A fair amount of leaves were dug into the raised beds. A bunch more were added to the compost pile. Most of them are in bags. I also laid the equivalent of 2 bags atop the raised beds and will dig those in soon after the ground can be worked in March or April. I used to have good soil results from that. Will let you know how it worked during growing season.

    I talked to a youngster whom I’ve watched grow up from a part-time shy teenage library employee to a full-time competent library employee and mother of 2. She said it’s the same thing that Mr. Greer was saying recently: idiot managers with advanced degrees in library science. A young man who works for a different library (both work in the City system) rides the bus with me. He said “this is what the public keeps asking for”. That is what Mr. Greer suggested is the thought stopping “reason” that the idiot managers with advanced degrees in library science tell their staff to tell the public.

    What I DO know is that there was a vote for a library bond issue. My local branch and the main branch downtown (the 2 branches where the youngsters I mentioned work) will be the first 2 to be remodeled and rebuilt. Downtown will be rebuilt, the local will be remodeled and have an addition. Only time I’ve voted against a library issue, although it passed with 60% of the vote. All City libraries will get a remodel. The remodel will be to add a large coffee and food business, children’s play areas, more computers, more large areas with comfortable seating. I saw a plan for the local branch and am still wondering where the books will go. Hence the purging: more “social gathering” areas at the expense of having books. We’ve got a large library in our home, with a lot of fiction and nonfiction books. I foresee this expanding. Dunno where I can put more books, but I’ll find a place.

    If the price to pay for society getting its wastefulness problem fixed is that you get less free and cheap soil improvements, that might be a good “price” to pay. Bad for you, good for the earth.

    $25 per door? Well done!

    Ok, I’ll resist the temptation with concrete and be a good influence on Ollie the Centurion in Training.

    We’ve been able to avoid smart phones. Our “dumb phones” are nearly indestructible, as is the flip top phone we got for my brother in law. My wife spent 3 months 2 years ago tending her sister after a tree fell on sister’s car while sister was driving. Our phones had no service in that remote area, but sister’s smart phone did. I would play with it whenever I visited; neither my wife nor I liked it, as it was very complex. What I’ve seen is that they are all designed in such a way as to be physically fragile. They use a lot of electricity and the batteries run down much faster than our dumb phone batteries.

    One thing my wife bought was a “portable charger”. I have a lengthy conversation each week with a close friend. My wife will hand me the portable charger, which I plug into my phone while talking. The portable charger can charge both of our phones if it is completely charged. It was about $10 at Walmart. When my brother in law was hospitalized for a week last December, the portable charger saved our bacon and kept the phones charged. Perhaps that would be an option?


  31. Hi Inge,

    Your prescience appears to have been working over-time. 🙂 On our news there was a map displaying the results of your elections (it even included your island), and yes, you have a point. As to the result, I’m surprised that people are surprised with the result. It is what I’d describe as a ‘if you are going to do this thing, then stop whingeing and get on with it’ protest vote.

    I can’t really talk about the details, if only because I’m not allowed to and may have possibly signed some sort of agreement not to, but some of the things I’ve seen written and err, artistically drawn, on our ballot papers down here would make a grown person blush. 🙂 I’m not suggesting you did such a thing, but as a general observation about politics down here, the results of the past couple of elections leads me to believe that people are punishing the two main parties by voting for independents in the upper house (I’m not certain that you can vote for your House of Lords!) and the government of the day is forced to horse trade with them. Someone needs to keep a check on power.

    Yes, another step in the long smart phone process was taken here today. Set me back $1,100 from the coffers too, and an extra $10 per month. People look for a drop off a cliff, when the situation is more akin to death by a thousand cuts. By Sunday when I write the story I will feel far less emotional about it all. What do you do? It offends my sensibilities and beliefs – but I am nothing if not flexible and you have to pick your fights.



  32. Hi Pam,

    Thank you, the only time that I meet out the coup de grâce is when a chicken clearly will not survive and nothing is gained by prolonging the suffering. I would apply the same standard to myself. But there was that one time with Brian the otherwise healthy rooster, who was so named after the fictional character Dexter’s (author of the story: Jeff Lindsay) brother. Some apples are just bad and are going to ruin it for everyone else. The older chickens bring stability to the hen collective and it’s just an all round more pleasant environment because they train the newer and younger birds and curb the worst excesses of behaviour. Plus the manure is a remarkable soil additive. Chickens can be a rowdy and rough and tumble collective. Hehe! Yeah, as to ‘Danger Will Robinson’ they have to remember to be nice to the magpies too. 🙂 Incidentally, I am most certainly not forwarding on your suggestion as to a television in their hen house and run. Who knows what the might of marketing may make them do?

    It’s pretty bonkers as to just how cold the soil is down here at this time of year. The fruit trees are loving it though as they have their heads in the warmth and their feet in the moist and cool soils. They’re growing this year. I may have to make an orchard ladder soon.

    Hehe! True. If not you, then who else? Such is the lot of anyone living on land. Spare a thought for the dairy farmers, because the cows never take a day off. And I’ve spoken to commercial orchardists over the years who tell me that the Christmas holidays are busy work times for them (of course things are upside down in your part of the world – it being winter and all). But yeah, I hear you and will likewise have to work up until I can no longer work. Not quite sure what will happen then.

    Scritchy has had issues this week. She’d scratched holes in her favourite bean bag and beans were going everywhere. The little beans have a half life of possibly a million years give or take a few decades. Anyway, I got sick of cleaning the polystyrene beans up and so put an old cloth cover over the entire bean bag. Well, Scritchy is not happy – but I refused to listen to her whining about the cover. It took about three days of stand off, and now she is back onto the now cloth covered bean bag.

    Ah, if you look really carefully at the first image of the screen door as it leans against the house you will notice that some nefarious person has tried to break through the screen door when I’m guessing it was once attached to a house. For some strange reason, the mesh on the door was welded to the security door itself, so without a whole lot of work it was easier for me to repair the mesh than it was to remove it from the steel door frame. You’ll also notice that when the gates were installed they had the mesh attached and repaired. The security doors were never made to be repaired and were probably replaced as part of an insurance job – thus how they ended up at the tip shop.

    Hehe! Yah, the long and winding road, that leads back to the new terrace project. 🙂 And to be honest, I’ve lost count. If nothing else it will keep them occupied and out of trouble.

    I don’t like it any better than you, but acceptance is a nice state of mind to achieve. The thing that worries me is that the devices are clearly addictive. Do you want to find out whether you (referring to anyone) is also addicted to such a device? What I see is people walking around with their heads bent over looking into tiny little screens. Are they zombies? Maybe, maybe not. I have very good posture, but I see things and have read things: Younger generations are growing horns in the back of their head. Posture and symmetry is more important than people realise.

    Far out, console operators are apparently a notoriously underpaid lot at the best of times. Yes, robots are taking our jobs… Recessions and Depressions generally occur when the flow of money in an economy stalls. Squeezing employees and accumulating flows to people who are already wealthy enough is simply just another way to achieve the same result.

    You are very perceptive, and the air here is quite fragrant with all of the flowers. On hot days (and also hot and rainy days) the unmistakable fragrance of eucalyptus oil can be smelled too. And when the huge trees decide to flower, it is a heady scent.



  33. Hi Lewis,

    As a suggestion, your nine solid hours may be your bodies way of recovering from the recent bout of the cold? The last two days I’ve fallen asleep in the late afternoon for a brief nap. This time of year people demand a lot of me from a work perspective, and anyway things will quieten down by the end of next week which is good. It’s a crazy time of year.

    Fortunately, crazy times of year do not put the kibosh on going to the pub for dinner and a pint. I had to finish my reply to you hurriedly yesterday (not my usual style) and rather rapidly because the kitchen at the pub closes at 8pm sharp – and one does not want to miss out on dinner. My normal preference is to eat dinner much later than 8pm, but society suggests that I am wrong in that regard, and there is always a bit of argy-bargy with friends who want to eat at much earlier hours. Which I feel may be driven by children’s routines, although I really know nothing about such things.

    I was pondering the hierarchy of the folks in the Camulod stories today, and one thing that struck me as a contrast with our own times was that the Roman’s never seemed to have troubles with putting younger folks in command. Not sure what it is about us that produces different results these days, but given I enjoyed a nap today late this afternoon (admittedly this was a day off work for me and I’ll work tomorrow), but if I feel that way at my age… Given you’re better read on history than I, do you reckon I’m drawing incorrect comparisons?

    Yup, Tolkien did indeed use the words: ‘and stuff’. It was pretty funny and I can just imagine that he’d been having a rotten day and wrote those words and said to himself: I dunno, the description’s probably good enough and who’ll notice the lack of detail. The editor pointed the use of the words out to me. Well fair enough too, and no doubt you deserved your rebuke for ‘word policing’, but you may have a point too. It is sort of hard to write and not be self aware of your habits, and I’m sure I lean on a few of those habit crutches as well. It is hard not to after a certain increase in volume. Still, one must not get dull, and so a minor scrap (in the fighting sense of the meaning of that particular word) does little harm.

    Ah, of course the good Prof Cliff Mass does not yet realise that the cities were never intended to be sustainable. They serve other, and no less relevant purposes, just not that one. On the other hand, there is a lot of spruiking fears and anxiety relating to climate change. I tend to engage people and ask them what it is that they mean by the phrase as it is rapidly becoming an emotion. Is it something to worry about – yeah, but is anyone really considering what is required to address it – and more importantly when you start asking people what they are willing to lose to address the issue, the responses are very telling. From a larger perspective it appears to be a distraction technique and the term climate change has become an allowable discussion point where other discussion points which are equally valid and perhaps of more immediate concern are not generally discussed or allowed to be discussed. It’s a strategy I guess.

    Yup! Hey, I saw the trailer too for the film when I was checking out the lyrics for the original theme song. How is that for a coincidence? Surely, someone, somewhere owes me commission for social media plugs? 🙂 Hehe! The funny thing was that I hadn’t seen or heard any reference to the film. Ghosts have been on my mind of late because the editor is reading a Jodi Picoult book ‘Second Glance’, which has ghosts as the theme. Anyway, the film looks good and it may be that they’ll just tell a good story. Can’t get better than that.

    Oh yeah, one can’t complain about Auroch’s when there are huge bears and boars roaming around the countryside. And the Irish Elk was notable for its size and ferocity. Exactly too, and the claws and fangs and rending limbs from limb by some of your critters is something to be respectful of. Sorry to make light of such a difficult subject, but I’m guessing that the Darwin Award always goes to the folks who think to themselves in the moment of confrontation: “Now which one was it that you weren’t meant to make eye contact with? Was it bears or mountain lions? I just forget these details. So many possibilities, which one to choose”. And then the unfortunate would happen.

    You betcha. That is the story here too. A second layer of security. Clearly the first was not enough. And given how readily mobile phones are hacked, I doubt the extra layer of security is that good either. Before I get this thing I’m going to have to delve deep into tech geek land and work out how to shut the thing down to a bare minimum. I noted to Pam that one doesn’t wish to discover exactly what habit becomes an addiction – and the zombies on the street do not fill me with hubris. But also I want to get my head around the hidden applications and trackers that seem to stick to the things. The cost Lewis! The cost… Far out.

    Great stuff, and very un Star Trek like. Bizarrely enough, the show always depicts itself as a very homogenous quasi-military culture, which whilst I enjoy the show is hardly an encouraging future. However it is nice that they’ve made space in the future for people who just don’t want to take on all the latest gee-gaws.

    I noticed that one or two corn seedlings had popped up over the past few days so maybe the season won’t be as bad as I’m imagining.

    Hey, I had a really nice scone with jam and cream today. Nice, but it was after consuming that that I felt the need for a system shut down and reboot (i.e. sleep).

    The UK election result was fascinating and the pundits who suggested that it will be a close race should be sacked. Or at least wipe the grotty chunks off their crystal balls.



  34. Hi DJ,

    Haven’t we all been faced with those sorts of days? To be honest, I don’t actually know how parents working two jobs with a couple of kids handle days like that. When I was a kid, I was left alone to do my own thing and as long as I didn’t cause any trouble I was able to continue doing as I liked. But nowadays supervision is a heavy burden that people take on, and I just have no idea what that would be like. Certainly like you I probably would have suggested that they stop mucking around and get going to school… It’s not good, and the flip-side of not training kids in relation to how to assess and respond to risk, is that when faced with risk and the consequences of it, well, it’s just not good. I doubt there is any easy way to teach people about risk other than starting small and going from there. Dunno. What are your thoughts in the matter?

    Good to read that you’re getting some rain and less snow. There is little if any rain forecast here for the next few weeks, but it is still green at the moment. The long term forecast is suggesting rain on New Years Day, but we’ll see. It looks like the monsoon up in the northern part of the continent is just beginning to start and hopefully sooner or later it sends some rain down this way.

    I had to look exactly what you meant by the term: ‘Lake Missoula events’. Far out! Do the local indigenous cultures have anything to say about the floods? I’m not sure that being exposed to such flooding was survivable. And yup, the rocks, boulders and silt would have been a long term benefit to those soils.

    Thanks for soil geeking it up for me. Love it. 🙂 I’ll be very interested to hear how your soil fertility methods work out next season. I treat leaves differently and chop them up and leave them on the ground where they fall, and I’m always curious about collecting and composting them. I see folks doing that with the oak leaves when they fall during the autumn.

    I was following the library story with interest. Mate, ya can’t fight city hall, if only because they have more resources. I assume the local council sells the library bonds and then pays interest and the face value of the bond upon maturity? Never heard of that financing process being used before, but there are investors apparently clamouring for such things. It is funny, but perhaps not so funny, that you mention that the core raison d’être of the institution is not acknowledged and abided by. If only because I reckon that is where mission creep sneaks in. Frankly, the newer purposes are possibly more exciting than boring old books on shelves, and people do like to leave their mark – even when it is a destructive stomp. What do you do? I dunno.

    Hehe! My point exactly, I wouldn’t complain about such an outcome. It doesn’t matter anyway, as our society can only be wasteful until it can no longer be wasteful. When that will be is a far more complicated question to which I have no answer. It is possible that it may be at short term and without notice, but then maybe not either. And maybe the change in culture will be slow – we are having a devil of a time with single use plastics down here – and also a distinct lack of leadership on the problem.

    Thanks. The tip shop has all sorts of treasures, and if I’d purchased the steel new for the gates, it would have been much more expensive and required far more fabrication on my part.

    Pah! I never let on your ideas to the easily swayed and impressionable Ollie. He knows though, because I see him looking wistfully at wet cement.

    That’s my experience too with the dumb phones. They’re indestructible and the batteries last and last. My current dumb phone is about 5 or 6 years old and I’ve dropped it so many times and it is still on the original battery. The screen is some sort of scratch proof material – nothing you’d ever find in nature… I have made a decision earlier tonight on the matter and the editor basically left it to me to choose. I tend to feel that the devices could be built to be less fragile and have a longer battery life – and those were the two requirements I had in mind, but they’re not cheap requirements. It is fascinating that you also have also noted the limitations of these devices. I mean how many glass screens need to get broken before a manufacturer decides to do something better other than selling new phones and replacement glass screens? Bonkers, although maybe I’d be not so good in business. 🙂



  35. @ DJSpo:

    Thanks so much for the portable phone charger idea. My little flip phone is almost 15 years old. It says “Alltel” on it, which was a small company that Verizon took over long ago. It has had its battery replaced once. I drop it occasionally and it is fine.


  36. Chris:

    What an incredible article about bad posture and technology and horns on young people! Bad posture is my Nemesis, and whose fault is that? I recently hurt my foot; that caused me to limp, which caused bad posture. That lopsided posture caused my sciatic nerve to become very angry, causing even more limping, and here I am, though I am not sure where . . .

    I have a feeling that Scritchy’s stubbornness about her beanbag is not due to old age, but to scritchiness. The beanbag’s problem may be due to old age . . . Didn’t the same thing happen to Sir Poopy once?


  37. Yo, Chris – I was reading over your shoulder, your response to DJ. About libraries. If you really want to give yourself the fantods, do a search for “privatization of libraries.” Truly frightening.

    Classy people eat at a later hour :-). I usually eat around 10pm. I’m darned near nobility 🙂 .

    Well, the Romans grew up in a warrior culture, so, from a very early age they’re hearing stories. And, from all the story we’ve read so far, it’s drill, drill, drill from an early age. When you think about it, though, WWI and WWII soldiers were 17 and 18 years old. Sent off with little training, but, due to attrition, could rise swiftly to officer status. Also, way back then, time, or stages of life were different. There was no real concept of adolescence, let alone the extended adolescence we seem to have, today. Life also kicked off, early, as you’d be lucky to make it to 45. :-).

    I’ve wondered, from time to time, if I’d have my wits about me, when confronting a cougar or bear to remember which to make eye contact with … and which not.

    I see what you said to Inge about the cost of your device. I think I had a small heart attack. Just minor. Nitro tablet took the edge off.

    I read a bit about the UK election, last night. I was wondering how that would shake out. The only thing that concerns me is the winning party are those same wonderful folks that brought us Thatcher. Keep an eye on your National Health!

    “….grotty chunks off the crystal ball.” That reminds me. probably time to clean my computer screen. Reading ad driving glasses. :-). Lew

  38. @ Pam,

    I’m glad the idea is helpful to you. It’s fun learning stuff here by reading over others’ shoulders!


  39. Chris,

    I have a lot of days like that. Fortunately, I’m now at a place in my career in which I can just call into work and not show up on those days.

    The risk thing is sad. “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” sounds trite, but there’s a lot of truth to it. In this recent event, I think a lot of the risk avoidance was from parents. I view taking risks as being a required part of life. As you suggested, starting with small risks with proper preparation, then increasing the risks with more adequate preparation, is a very good means to learn how to deal with both the expected and unexpected events.

    However, we are so risk averse in our society that it is scary. I work in the part of our organization that gets all of the phone calls from people needing their snowy roads plowed, sand and deicer placed on hills for traction, etc. Wednesday’s storm resulted in people waking up, seeing the snow and that there was snow on the roads, and calling in angry that they were expected to drive on it and that we hadn’t cleared the roads overnight! We average 110cm of snow per season, and people were upset over 5cm, a 5cm that wasn’t expected to be more than a mm or two?!? It takes us up to 4 or 5 days to due a complete plowing of the 2,500 miles of road in our jurisdiction.

    I hope the rains come through for you. You can never truly get enough rain where you live.

    I’ve not heard many indigenous stories about the Lake Missoula floods. I know that there are some such stories. I’ve met a local author (and read several of his books) and he has spent his entire adult life meeting with and talking to tribal elders and getting their personal histories as well as the old stories recorded and written. He has alluded to some of the Lake Missoula flood stories in some of his books, but I’ve only read 2 or 3 of them in his books. So far. I’ll have to add more of his books to my reading list.

    That author, Jack Nesbitt, is a great guy. Several years ago my wife and I attended a weekend group of outdoor seminars in Montana. A group of Natives (many of whom we know) were teaching several cultural classes. So were some “fur trade” reenactors and a few other people. Mr. Nesbitt taught a class on edible plants available in the forests throughout the region. School teachers could get credit that went to the required education to keep their teaching credentials. It was a fun weekend! And I learned some useful things.

    We also ran into Mr. Nesbitt at a funeral in the central part of Washington. We attended because the deceased was a distant relative of my wife and a Great Person. Mr. Nesbitt attended because this was one of the tribal elders he had befriended and interviewed a lot.

    I read Mr. Greer’s article and comments about the libraries. One partial solution for me is to build our personal library. Some of his ideas for alternate libraries would likely run afoul of laws that would get passed to stifle competition, at least here. However, the reading room idea might be something I pursue someday. Worst case would be to find the proper organization/reading room or whatever to leave our library with as we get old.

    I have a reputation at the job for coming up with, and talking about (only in select circles, mind you) totally harebrained ideas that would be guaranteed to cause a total, er, mudstorm if I actually implemented the idea. The ideas are given only for entertainment purposes, of course!

    I noted that link about posture and horns. Thanks. A coworker has a poster outside her office that talks about that. The human head weighs about 10 pounds. The poster says that for every inch that the head slumps forward, an additional 10 pounds of strain is placed on the body to support the head. No wonder the youngsters are showing severe signs of structural trauma! For us studious types, proper posture is an ongoing challenge. Requiring trifocals makes proper head position difficult at times.


  40. Hi Chris,

    RE: Scooters in Asia / Travel / Tourists etc
    When Mrs Damo and I started our volunteer stint in Laos a few years back, one of the very first places we got taken on our induction tour was the local medical facility. It was grim stuff, and I clearly remember the ICU with dirt and detritus on the floor, and a sticky humid breeze wafting through the room. Not somewhere I would want to be cut open, that is for sure!

    On previous travels, we were always careful to have helmets on at all times, not ride after a drink – even if under the limit etc etc. But, the medical facilities tour really drove it home and reminded us to keep risks low during our year there. Other ex-pats were not so careful. Even now, I see occasional posts on social media from a very nice (but careless) guy still healing after a terrible drunk car accident 3 years ago. He was initially treated in the aforementioned ICU, before getting airlifted to Bangkok to stay for a couple of months, then finally getting sent back to the US. All very expensive, and all paid for by his parents as he did not have travel or health insurance. Need I mention several serious complications and infections caused by “treatment” at the aforementioned local ICU. Terrible stuff, and yet most ex-pats in Laos were not running any insurance.

    In better news, it was Mrs Damo’s birthday yesterday. So I made a decorated butter cake in the shape of a number one covered in smarties. Last year it was a farmyard scene. Not sure what next year will be (perhaps the race car track?) but I have decided it will be tradition to make her something from the old womens weekly cake book. Dozens to go through!

    To go back to risk and life for a minute, we note that here in NZ (and the US for that matter) there is still a little bit of darwinism allowed. Places that would be fenced off in Australia are open for anyone to wander through here (for example, old mining tunnels and an underground cave river system come to mind). NZ also has legislation passed that outlaws suing for injuries caused by accidents. This might be a boost for common sense as well. No tripping over the neighbours garden hose and getting a payout here!


  41. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, who’d have thunk it? And now that I’m aware of the situation in relation to posture, I see it everywhere. Unfortunately phones are used by many people so as to put a barrier up between them and other people. It’s a tool I guess, and I acknowledge that there may indeed be a need for such a tool. Oh well.

    Ouch, not good at all. Hope you are feeling better – and more symmetrical? Hate to be the one to say it, but stretching is a great activity, and I’m constantly stretching at all hours of the day, although people may wonder at what I’m up to!

    You are so correct on both parts of the story. When Scritchy finally shuffles off this mortal coil, so to will the bean bag. I have mixed feelings about the bean bag, and can still recall Sir Poopy upside down with his legs in the air whilst nested in the centre of the bean bag. Alas for his lack of will to movement, for he sped his own demise.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    No way! Oh my Gods! Not good, not good at all. I’ve heard of advertising in your schools as a result of donations to said institutions. No doubt publishers will enjoy the opportunity to flog product at the communities expense. Hope you enjoy the plentiful copies of your former leaders err, story? Hope the leaders include the naughty bits where they acted naughtily? I have no idea what to make of that story either, but I did note that one of the large grocery chains down here ran some campaign to provide funding to schools for I believe sports equipment when parents of students spent money at their stores. And years ago there was a push by the conservative party down here to commercialise the national youth radio station that I have been a long time listener of. Fortunately the push went away, and the conservative party instead appears to have cut funding to the radio station instead, although I may be wrong and am not privy to the details. What could possibly go wrong with such changes? And a library is a cost for the community, not a profit centre. Our politicians sometimes forget that they are there to serve the community and are a cost that the community bears. Lest they forget.

    I agree entirely and it is truly frightening. Earlier I had to look up the exact meaning of the word ‘tyranny’. Hmm.

    Total respect, and I agree 10pm is the right time to eat dinner. So much more civilised and does this feat promote your moniker to: “Sir Lewis the Seasoned Trencher”? I like the ring of that title and would be happy to have earned my stripes that way.

    Clothar has a sharp mind for one so young, but I’m not warming to the character. It may be that he allows his passions to flow directly into his actions, but I’m not really sure and his competence may indeed allow the passions to overflow his cup. What is your take on my assessment?

    The English see themselves as the good guys, but due to circumstances and reach they were pretty fierce warriors. Why do you reckon they dropped that side of their culture? I’ve read a fair bit of history of WWI and WWII and can see that the attrition rates were bonkers, but the drill side of the story appears to have been lost, and that itself is a curious story.

    Such memories are the stuff of life or death. The editor and I were once swimming in an inner city beach that has a nasty rip only a bit off shore. Before I knew what was happening, the editor was swept along with the rip, and in a weird twist of fate, she’d only listened to a radio program a few weeks back about what to do when caught in a strong rip – and reacted accordingly.

    My advice, double your dose of Xanax and maybe chuck in a few extra beta-blockers for good measure! Hehe! Only kidding. You may now know why we were both filthy angry about the imposition. The cost is not insubstantial. My anger today is merely simmering, and I may begin writing the story tonight after replying.

    Quantitative Easing is a funny old business and Old Blighty has been up to some of that gear already. I tend to feel that such monetary acts are an admission of failure, but I do believe that the flip side of such economic stories – austerity – breeds a far greater drama. All up it is a slow sink for the good ship Titanic, but without Europe to drag them down, the anchor may not be as heavy. So it might be a good move.

    Always good to keep ones view of the future clean and clear. Hope you didn’t leave many smears on the glass once you’ve cleaned it?

    Finished the fencing on the terrace project today. I now declare the terraces wombat proof (no small feat). Only steel can halt the forward advance of the marsupials. Brother Lewis, the war is long, there may be sacrifices involved, but in the end we shall prevail!



  43. Hi Damo,

    Mate, your picture of the ICU in Laos was not an encouraging picture. I have spent time in an ICU as a visitor and it was anything but what you described. The people in such places are gravely ill, and it is not a place anyone would go willingly. On the other hand, I applaud whoever took you on that induction tour if only because it reinforces the need to be careful. I believe when we travelled in Laos last century that the Australian embassy in Vientiane operated a medical facility, but I have strong doubts that it had ICU facilities. The eruption survivors have been on my mind, and severe burns are a possibility here too for different reasons.

    I rode motor bikes for a bit over a decade, and I recall once enjoying a beer and then getting on the bike. I would have been under the legal limit, but the difference in my experience and senses was a bit of a shock to me. I reckon I was about maybe 23 at the time. Not good.

    Speaking of medical shockers in remote corners of the planet, how about this: Tradies fixed a doctor’s hand in Antarctica — and now medical experience like this will be shared with the world. Bizarrely enough I could imagine you and Mrs Damo turning up at one of the bases in Antarctica for a stint. I’d enjoy sleeping in over the longer winters. It would be a bit like hibernating for me, although I seem to need more sleep than most people.

    Nobody ever wants to pay for a med-evac bill. Holy Sheet! Damo, you are a God! Now don’t get a big head or nothing, but you mentioning such services reminded me that I didn’t recall paying the recent ambulance service subscription reminder. Further enquiries revealed that neither did the editor. Ook! In a rare lapse of our administrative duties, the email bill had been accidentally deleted. Thus the peril of electronic bills. Far out, the system has entirely collapsed. The helicopter air ambulance often uses our house as a marker on the mountain range. The other day it flew very low overhead indeed and I thought to myself: Hope you guys know what you are doing”… Then I was getting this sort of Apocalypse Now vibe.

    Happy birthday to Mrs Damo, and may she enjoy a lovely, relaxed and enjoyable day. There may be more up to date sources for recipes, but do they taste as good? Haha! Not quite a traditional lolly cake (which candidly make me feel a bit queasy due to sugar overload), but is it a smarty cake? Yummo!

    A true vote for common sense. And also one of the reasons I rarely take tours of the property. The laws over this side of the pond are nonsensical.

    Off to spend some time in chicken and orchard land. Friday looks forecast to reach 41’C. Yay for us!


  44. Hi DJ,

    Nice, and I note that fixed work schedules rarely allow time for unexpected adventures – such as your snow fall.

    There are a lot of kernels of wisdom in some old sayings, and that particular one was used when I was a kid, but you rarely hear it said these days. Another way of putting it is: If at first you don’t succeed try, try again. But basically I reckon it gets down to learning the finer art of gumption.

    Far out, you’re a better man than I, as I might let slip an unfortunate and possibly unappreciated candid view to the expectational callers. I only once complained to the local council about road matters, and that was when they graded the road before a big rain storm and turned the otherwise useful road into a slush pit. As they were doing the job, I asked the grader bloke to reconsider the job, and he quipped that he was just following instructions… The result of those instructions was not good, and they had to bring up some emergency loads of crushed rock to fix the problem – and the job wasn’t necessary in the first place.

    Yeah, it looks like the rain has gone AWOL for a while. And next Friday is forecast to reach 41’C / 106’F in the shade.

    Lucky you to have met such an author. Wow, I too would have enjoyed his company and conversation. Although that is difficult with a funeral, although you know, a wake can be surprising – especially if the person had lived a long and interesting life. And the course would be amazing. As far as I’m aware, there are no such courses in this part of the continent, which is a bit of a shame. Still the forests here nowadays would barely resemble the forests that existed when the indigenous folks harvested forest products here. It might take a bit of effort to get back to that state, but the effort is not impossible and the story of the forest unfolds if one but cares to listen and read it.

    Lewis raised a complicated point about libraries: The privatisation of libraries. That outcome would never have occurred to me – it quite shocked me that attempts were being made along those lines. It seems more bookshelves are the order of the day! Speaking of which, I do actually have plans to rebuild the bookshelves here. The original materials are beginning to fail (and bow).

    Respect for your sense of humour, and please don’t be troubled if I politely ignore any harebrained talk. It’s an effective strategy you have to admit, and if in your presence, you’d score a cheeky grin combined with withering look number four (also effective for such shenanigans). 🙂

    Oh yeah, it ain’t good, and their heads are even more bowed over than my bookshelves. It’s not good at all, and there will be a price to pay for it down the track.

    Better get writing.



  45. Hello again
    I am finding it hard to keep up with the interesting things here but the following seemed important:-

    @ DJSpo
    Beware acquiring too many books i.e. a library. I had many thousands and at the age of 84 have been getting rid of them at the rate of 500 per year. This is burdensome and very difficult particularly as I live in an out of the way place. One charity shop told me that they didn’t want any more books. I also had/have manuscripts, letters, paintings, photographs and vinyl. The vinyl has been dealt with in the main. Stuff has gone and is going to universities, private libraries and relevant individuals. Grandson goes through the books to see what he wants when visiting from Australia. Problem compounded by Son being my only relative in this country.
    In essence I am saying BEWARE.


  46. Chris:

    I too find stretching to be a wonderful remedy and have been using it. Extra nice that it is free.


  47. Hi Chris,
    I am very disturbed that you are required to have a smart phone now. I am curious, however, as to the cost. Many people get android phones at a much lower cost as well as refurbished ones. Is this not an option for you? I’ve had a smart phone for probably eight years now and am on my second one which is 4 1/2 years old. When we got them we opted for the oldest versions available through Verizon. When this one dies I’m seriously considering going back to a flip phone. I don’t use most features and don’t add additional apps. I do like checking out the radar on the local weather though when a storm is threatening. I know quite a few people who have apps for plant and bird identification which is certainly convenient but I wonder how much less likely you are to commit the information to memory if it’s always at your fingertips. In fact I’ve read that’s exactly what’s happening.

    Hoping for rain for you. Our weather has been dry and quite seasonable.

    We eat dinner around 5:30 but then we’re early risers and I’m usually in bed by 9. Supposedly eating close to bedtime isn’t good for digestion, sleep or weight control though you get enough exercise I suppose you could eat anything.

    Like Inge I’m not keeping up well here either.


  48. Yo, Chris – Well, I’m a little hazy on how Multi-National Libraries Amalgamated (sic) makes it’s money, but I suppose the city pays them, but it’s less than the cost of running their own library system. Generally, they fire everybody (thus breaking any pesky employees associations or unions). So, a good chunk of public employees are looped off the city budget. Branches are closed, assets (and land) sold off. And, city officials don’t have to worry their empty little heads about libraries, anymore. MNLA also provides cover, for any unpopular changes. At least, that’s the way I see it.

    Well, Clothar is a bit young, to warm to. Who knows? By the time he’s thirty, maybe he’ll be a Mummer, taking his Miracle Plays on the road? :-). I’m finding the general history and some of the secondary characters, interesting. Ursus, for example. We learn more about his background, as time goes on. I’m up to chapter V, by the way.

    Well, in my study of crisis and disaster, it seems the best course of action is to do SOMETHING. And, the more information you pick up, the more options you may have.

    Austerity doesn’t play well, to the masses. Sacrifice? Are you kidding? :-).

    Well, on one hand, I probably shouldn’t have an opinion about Brexit, at all. Watching a lot of BBC series, really isn’t a qualifier. :-). I suppose it’s just my antipathy toward centralized, and distant, authority.

    Wombat proof? Hubris, hubris :-).

    I just finished watching season 2 of an interesting series. British, of course. Sci-fi. It’s a few years in the future, and there’s a lot of Synths, around, doing all those little mundane tasks, we’d rather not do. Kind of like “Blade Runner.” Over the course of the series, the Synths begin to acquire consciousness, with all the problems that entails.

    I picked up “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” and “The Goldfinch”, from the library. I’ll get to them, over the next few days.

    Julia brought some peanut butter cookies (biscuits?) down to the Club. Quit good. Loaded with sugar and butter :-). Not that I’d say it out loud, but I think I would have used chunky, instead of smooth. Lew

  49. Hi Pam,

    Hey, I reckon stretching gets even more important as you age. I find that I need to stretch my arms and wrists a lot due to all the work here.

    Great news about the raisins. I don’t eat raisins, but there are plenty of sultana’s which are a dried table grape.

    Better get writing…



  50. Hi Margaret,

    It ain’t just you and I am likewise disturbed about the situation. I intend to geek it up a bit and work out how to shut the devices down to a bare minimum. There are all sorts of security holes in the devices, and I have heard tell of hidden applications. At the moment though, I know very little of them.

    You ask the hard questions, and respect for doing so. So, earlier in the week I went to the nice telco shop and had a long chat with a bloke working there. He told me he was on salary with no commission, so I deemed his advice fair and reasonable – and he wasn’t pushing product on me, although I do have to now upgrade my monthly plan (as a hint I was on the cheapie plan that is no longer offered by the nice telco). I mentioned that my requirements were durability and battery life, and he candidly said that the he couldn’t supply such a beast. So I asked just how hardy are these devices, and that was when he showed me his own phone and made the comment: “and this one had lasted me for almost 18 months”. Things that make you go hmm. My concept of durability is probably a bit more demanding than what most people expect. You’re right, a second hand purchase would probably have been a good idea, I just didn’t think of the option, and instead chose a very rugged and tested design. My current phone is about 6 years old and is as good as new. The editors phone is now a decade old, but showing serious signs of wear and tear.

    Do you know, my fear is that the new phone will meet the software requirements, and then after a year or two the demands of the software will make an otherwise functional phone redundant – and thus the treadmill begins.

    No rain to speak of, although the water tanks are at 80% capacity and there is plenty of water in the soil. However, an epic heat wave may visit this week – continental records look set to be broken. It is pretty nasty by all accounts.

    Fortunately I can type very fast due to a government experiment many years ago. No bad thing, and I hope that the Christmas period is not too feral for you?



  51. Hi Lewis,

    How cool is the old bloke producing knitted sweaters for the penguins? I’ve been to visit that particular penguin colony (it’s a huge tourist attraction), but many long years ago. Penguin colonies are found in many places along the coast line (as are seal colonies). Maybe two and a half decades ago, the editor and I used to take the dogs on long night time walks along the foreshore in the huge bay that Melbourne sits at the head of, and if you knew where to look, you’d see penguins returning in from a days fishing. I’m honestly not sure that the penguins are there now. Well, I’m wrong and the penguins are still happily enjoying Port Phillip Bay: Melbourne’s little penguins adapt well to changes in the Yarra River and Port Phillip Bay. Go the little penguins! And who would have thought that there was no actual Saint Kilda of which the suburb of Melbourne was named after? Outrageous!

    About two decades ago I had first hand experience with such a business. Mind you, it wasn’t for long either, because they lied to me in the interview. At the time they were one of the top 100 fastest growing companies in country. When I started looking through the books I noticed that fundamentals were not being adhered to. Nobody wanted to hear what I had to say, so after the shortest time in my career I gave them my letter of resignation. And they had the cheek to not pay me – and got away with it. Mind you, their problems overwhelmed them within about four months, and I enjoyed the satisfaction (which wasn’t that great really), reading about it in the papers. Anyway, I was too hasty in my estimates as I gave them two months grace.

    I just passed the beginning of chapter III today. It doesn’t sound like much of an effort until the fact that it is over 150 pages into the book comes to light! You may be right about Clothar being too young to be likeable. And I’m miles away from being introduced to Ursus. Clothar is just about to be introduced to Germanus who will handle his education and training from that point onwards. Hopefully the Xmas break (I have one full week set aside with no accounting work at all set aside) allows me more opportunity to read. I looked at the to-read list the other day and there are a lot of books banked up behind the Camulod series. I must add though the Camulod folk fought their way to the front of the queue with pointy sharp weapons. Is this a good thing? Or maybe they just know how to fight proper like!

    Exactly. Information and data informs decisions in such critical circumstances. Incidentally, we are set for an epic heat wave next week. Truly epic: Heatwave to deliver extreme temperatures in parts of SA, NSW and Victoria, BOM says. BOM refers to the Bureau of Meteorology.

    No, not at all. Sacrifice can be acceptable, it just depends if the sacrifice is evenly (and transparently) shared. There was a bit of talk in the media a few weeks ago about impending ‘load shedding’. Only one state on the continent has a transparent system in place, and the suggestion that people in other states may imply that the loss is not shared equally was raised as a serious problem. Perception can be as much of a problem as reality.

    Shoot!!!! Too late, I’ve put the wombat proof bit in writing… Not good at all and I do hope the marsupials don’t read the blog.

    The sci fi sounds pretty interesting, but what if the synths decide that they could run the place better?

    Ah, the latest Tarantino film. I read some interesting titbits about Jackie Chan character from that film. Hope you enjoy it, and I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about the film.

    Sugar and butter makes everything taste better! And you may rest assured that I use roasted peanuts in my Anzac biscuits. Smooth – who needs such things?

    Better get writing…



  52. Yo, Chris – I got to see quit a bit of the little penguins, in Martin Clune’s “Islands of Australia”, series. I didn’t realize they were so well spread, around Australia. Comforting to know they’re doing fine, in your harbor. I was thinking about how one would go about making a jumper for a little penguin. I suppose the pattern for a tea cozy, could be adapted :-). The penguins seem to all come in one size, so, no problems there.

    It’s good you bailed on that job, before it became really grim. I’ve had a few times, where I walked away from a job, either because things weren’t as they seemed, or, “things” changed and became intolerable. Handwriting on the wall, and all that. If you can read it.

    The Camulod folks do tell a rousing tail, that keeps you interested. LOL, but I’m beginning to wonder when Clothar is ever going to meet up with Arthur. Next book? Well, gee. What is he? Ten or eleven, where you are? He matures fast, makes dumb mistakes, but learns from them.

    Well, you can take cold comfort from knowing that’s it’s probably hotter, somewhere else, in Australia. Was that a very bad pun? :-). We’re going to have a couple of nice days, then the fire hose is going to be turned on.

    I baked 6 dozen molasses biscuits, this evening. Madness, I know. And I still have enough dough for 2 or 3 dozen, more. I doubled the recipe. Mostly, because I always agonize over how many biscuits to give, to who. Won’t have to worry about that, this time around.

    I substituted apple sauce, for most of the oil called for. Well, that created problems. When I started forming the first batch, even after refrigerating it for a few hours, the dough stuck to my fingers like, well, molasses. But, an application of olive oil to my hands, took care of most of that problem. Because of the apple sauce, the texture is not too crisp, at all. They hold together well, but are soft and a bit spongy. Lew

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