The Eyes of the Overworld

I love the ongoing war of waste. I mean who doesn’t love it, and the war efforts seem like a whole bunch of fun to me. Over the years it’s been one of my strategies to gain an advantage by not participating fully in the ongoing war effort. I figure it takes income to produce waste, who wants to waste income?

However, this week I lost a long battle and had to give ground to the enemy. Upon learning of my loss earlier in the week, I was very upset. Actually I was really very angry, which is a rare state of mind for me. After a day or so, my anger turned into a simmering pit of resentment. A few more days and the emotions cooled and acceptance settled in. I could almost hear the sage words of a very long dead bloke suggesting to me that: “Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s; and to Nature the things that are Nature’s.”

The problem is that I’m just not sure that nature is ready to take my perfectly functional mobile (cell) phone as waste. For some reason I’ve always had a mild revulsion to mobile phones. My feelings are probably borne out of a desire to be contactable when I want to be contactable, and then at other times I appreciate the distance. It is a personal quirk I guess.

When I was a kid, telephones used to be things that were wired into a wall socket and not something that you were expected to carry around with you. It was always an exciting event when the telephone rang: Someone is ringing the house, who could it be, and I hope the call is for me! The only exception to that rule was when the phone rang late at night. At such times it was probably one of my older sisters dubious boyfriends, or possibly some relative had died and the news just had to be shared immediately despite it being the middle of the night. So late night phone calls were always met with a bit of trepidation in those days, but mostly it was always bad news.

Before mobile phones, people made arrangements and had to stick to them – lest their no-show favour be returned with interest. And nobody ever remarked that they ‘Liked’ the death of a relative or friend as they do in these enlightened times. In travels, if you got into a spot of bother, you simply had to find a pay phone or navigate the intricate world of strangers and seek assistance. Yup, fun times.

The first person I knew who had a small mobile phone was a mate of mine. His parents were cashed up and not shy of sharing the loot with him. Other people had mobile phones the size of bricks, with thick antennas poking out the top. Not my mate, because he’d imported this tiny phone from who knows where, and somehow managed to get the local telco company to allow him to use it on their new network. What can I say, the guy had force of personality to back up the parents loot. As an unrelated side story, I met the editor because she was also a friend of his.

Nobody else anywhere had a mobile phone that small, and my mate thought he was royalty. I can’t be sure but I always had a suspicion that his phone bills were epic, but that was cool because there was always his parents loot. I recall that he liked to be seen in public with his tiny mobile phone, and given it’s rarity and my mates ostentatious behaviour, some righteous free speaking folks were happy to share their thoughts with him. Some of those thoughts included a naughty word which sounds like the word ‘tanker’ but begins with the letter ‘w’.

It wasn’t long though before the people who were making derogatory comments to my mate, had also joined the ‘tanker’ party because they had small mobile phones too. And some of those mobile phones were even smaller than my mates device.

For long years afterwards, I resisted the urge to get a mobile phone, big or small. I was happy enough to be contacted through the fixed landline. It worked for me, and rarely was there any work situation where an immediate response was required of me. But in 2008, we moved into a rural area and so had to make some allowances to people who may have wanted to speak with us. So the editor and I both got basic mobile phones.

As we live in a rural area, I picked a hardy basic phone that can be dropped into water and/or onto hard surfaces, has a long battery life and the screen can’t be scratched, if only because it is probably made out of some exotic material that isn’t usually found in nature. I’ve noticed that it is reasonably common that the glass on peoples mobile phones is cracked. Sometimes a sense of mischievousness takes me over and whenever I encounter people with broken devices, I amuse myself by dropping my phone on whatever hard surface is near to hand and then exclaiming: Look, it still works! I’m not entirely certain that other people share my amusement.

The devices sure are handy. Whenever I walk through the city, I’ve noticed that people avoid other people by having their heads buried in their mobile devices. It is a strategy that works I guess, although I have to admit that I’ve been bumped into on a number of occasions by people who appear to be giving as much notice of their surroundings as the average zombie who’s had their fill of brains for the day.

Whenever I see people with their heads tilted downwards as they amble about their day to day activities, it sort of reminds me of a 1960’s pulp science fiction novel written by one of my favourite authors: Jack Vance. The book is titled: The Eyes of the Overworld, and it follows the adventures of the anti-hero: ‘Cudgel the Clever’. According to Wikipedia, Cudgel:

“finds two villages, one occupied by wearers of the violet lenses, the other by peasants who work on behalf of the lens-wearers, in hopes of being promoted to their ranks. The lenses cause their wearers to see, not their squalid surroundings, but the Overworld, a vastly superior version of reality where a hut is a palace, gruel is a magnificent feast, etc.— ‘seeing the world through rose-colored glasses’ on a grand scale.”

Regardless of my flights of fancy, the devices seem to be clearly addictive. As such I’ve always maintained a basic phone because I have no wish to find out if I too can become addicted to one of these devices. And I’m about to be sorely tested, because the government decreed that if I wish to maintain earning money in my profession, both the editor and I have to get a smart phone. My current phone has served me well for the past six years, and now I have to waste it and purchase one of these newfangled and not very robust smart phones. And that is why I was angry earlier in the week.

The additional expense is just another knife in the guts. It seems like every year or so, I’m being told that I’ve got to pay some sort of insurance, subscription fees to access the government websites, fees to the professional body, and fees for increasingly complicated software. And every year it seems like the prices rise for these services, all of which I have no choice not to pay if I wish to continue in my profession. Earlier today I looked up the word tyranny and it is defined as:

“a situation in which someone or something controls how you are able to live, in an unfair way.”

There might be something in that definition.

How’s that for a sunset?

The week has been cool again, although the coming week looks set to bring an epic heatwave stretching right across the continent: Heatwave to deliver extreme temperatures in parts of SA, NSW and Victoria, BOM says. As they say in Star Trek: “All hands brace for impact!”

Many parts of the continent have had epic bushfires already this year, and whilst the air is mostly clear here, some of the particulates from the bushfires are present in my little corner of the continent. And the sunsets have been truly astounding as a result.

Particulates in the atmosphere from bushfires have produced some amazing sunsets this week

During the week we completed the fencing around the new garden terrace project. Steel rails were added top and bottom along the entire upper fence line. The steel rails support the chicken wire and that means that it cannot be easily bent or pushed aside by the local wombats and wallabies. Wombats are tough as, and they have a hardened plate on their back and can easily damage fencing if they decide they wish to go where they will and an inconvenient fence is in the way.

The fencing on the highest level of the new garden terraces project has now been completed. Ollie is impressed.

Incidentally, Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (who’s rugged exterior defines him as an Australian cattle dog despite his personality) is looking uncomfortable in the above photo, because we’d constructed another concrete step.

Another concrete step was created leading up to the upper garden terrace

Ollie has an unfortunate tendency to want to sign his paw print in any wet cement. We have other plans. It is Ollie’s kryptonite. Everyone has one, and that is his. A second concrete step was also constructed.

A second concrete step was constructed this week

The completion of the fencing around the garden terrace project means that we now have easy access to the roses in the middle terrace. This week I was able to install a water dripper line which runs for five minutes every second day. The water robot does not deliver much water to the roses during those five minutes, but it is better than nothing at all.

Also, we had a set of old timber stairs that were originally used on the house. The timber stairs were replaced with steel because exposed timber stairs in a bushfire prone area is probably a really bad idea. This week we discovered that the old timber stairs were the exact right height between the middle and upper terraces, and so we installed them on the middle terrace.

Watering dripper line for the roses and a set of stairs were installed on the new middle garden terrace

The garden has its compliment of frogs, and some evenings the Southern Brown Tree Frogs visit the veranda to snack upon the many insects that are attracted by the house lights:

A Southern Brown Tree Frog on the veranda hunting insects only a few days ago

A decade old Lemon Eureka fruit tree is in the final stages of succumbing to a dreaded plant disease called: “Collar Rot”. The diseased fruit tree eventually starves and dies. About a month or so back I planted a replacement apparently disease resistant Lemon Eureka. Due to the cold spring and early summer weather, the poor fruit tree went into immediate shock and dropped all of its leaves. I then pruned the fruit tree back quite hard. This week, the citrus tree has begun growing replacement leaves:

A newly planted Lemon Eureka has begun producing new leaves

Gooseberries and Jostaberries are almost ripe, and it looks as though it will be a bumper harvest this year.

Gooseberries and Jostaberries are almost ripe

The strawberries continue to produce very well and the small freezer is groaning at the sheer quantity of strawberries.

The strawberries are producing well this season

Raspberries and Blackberries also look as though they’re going to have a good season. A common blackbird lives here and it has a beautiful song, but far out it is eating too many ripe raspberries! A bit of moderation is called for in this instance.

Raspberries and blackberries are also growing strongly

Blueberries are growing well, but as per the raspberries I have to keep a sharp eye on the birds. Needless to say the local birds enjoy blueberries.

Blueberries are growing well

Much of the fruit hanging in the trees has put on good size over the past week or so. How good do these quinces look as they slowly ripen?

How good do these quinces look?

Onto the flowers:

The newly planted roses are enjoying their location
Nasturtium ambles through the garden beds
The garden beds are thick with flowers
We grow a number of different coloured Penstemon’s and they’re incredibly hardy and beautiful
A succulent plant of unknown parentage produced these delicate flowers
One garden bed is dedicated to Gazania’s and they put on quite the show
Toothy enjoys the company of flowering lavender and a lone poppy
I saved the best image for last!

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 716.0mm (28.2 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 715.4mm (28.2 inches).

83 thoughts on “The Eyes of the Overworld”

  1. Hi Margaret,

    It may not have been clear, but the price was for two phones and not one. Things are more expensive down here than where you are. If you ever feel so inclined, you can do a side by side comparison of what you pay for things and what we do. I’m always amazed by the difference.

    Hope the weather hasn’t been too snowy!



  2. @ Inge,

    Thanks for the warning about too many books. I’ve seen that, as my parents had about a gadzillion books. I kept some, but let a lot go, and there are times that I which I’d kept more of them! But your warning is well received. Unfortunately, with 2 adults who read a lot, and with the libraries tossing books, building a personal library appears to be an option unless or until private libraries and reading rooms start to appear.


  3. Chris,

    Ah yes, gumption. A good word for a commodity that used to be common but now seems to be in rather short supply. Perhaps Gumption is hiding with Common Sense and Sense of Adventure?

    Oh, there are times I’ve let loose with a candid view to callers. Politely, of course, but sometimes things do need to be said. I mention what I say to my bosses and they just shrug and say to carry on.

    There are pushes here, and have been for at least 25 years, to privatize as much as is possible, and then some. Unfortunately, the “and then some” often includes things that need to be done, but will never turn a profit; my opinion is that those types of things belong in the public, government domain.

    I promise to do my best to keep from posting my most outrageous harebrained ideas on your forum. Any harebrained ideas that I do post are thus not the most outrageous ones I think of.

    Nice fences. I noticed Ollie was “trying” to ignore some new steps, and I had a wonderful comment ready, then I read your comment that Ollie was uncomfortable BECAUSE of the new step, and I admit that you beat me to the joke. Again. Well done.

    I did notice the bench near the wooden steps on the terrace. It looks to be a nice place for a bench. Does it have a good view from there?

    The color scheme of your new roses is excellent. It’s the colors we chose when we planted our roses.

    As always, the sunset pictures are fantastic. It’s too bad that the wildfires are the cause of such spectacular beauty. I read the article you linked to. That sounds astoundingly hot. May you and the editor weather it well.

    As you noted, you saved the best photo for last. Those garden beds are awesome. Both of the photos of them are great. And the Princess decided that she’s impressed with the nasturtiums, so I have been told to look into adding some to our flower areas.


  4. Hi Pam,

    The penguins are sweet as, and some of the breakwaters in the inner bayside suburbs are fenced off so that the penguins can live on them without fearing feral cats and dogs. Mind you, I’ve seen rats swimming in the bay at night around piers, so they’d have to deal with them, but don’t we all?



  5. Hi DJ,

    Gumption is one of my favourite words, and no doubt the long dead military genius Sun Tzu had it in spades. 🙂 Mind you, lots of folks have it still, I just don’t reckon that it is part of the normal set of skills taught to people. I mean think about what circumstances it takes to learn: “shrewd or spirited initiative and resourcefulness”. It is a heady brew and not encouraged. But yes, you are most correct. Have you by chance read Mark Twain’s classic: Huckleberry Finn? I read the book (and sequel) sometime within the past two years and was mightily impressed, although it should be noted that Mr Twain leans on some tropes within the story, but Tom and Huck were adventurers of the truest sort.

    Yup, there is time for telling it like it is (as you mentioned), and I do that when required. Then other times requires the retelling of a story sometimes couched in the form of a cautionary tale, whilst other times, I just let the proverbial situation hit the fan. It is hard to know at the time which tool to use, and telling it like it is can be a blunt sledgehammer that misses its target. I save that tool for when I feel that nothing else matters and if action isn’t taken and rapidly well, let’s just say that the outcome won’t be good. Ook! Have you ever tried recounting a cautionary tale? I reckon people get it even if they pretend that they don’t.

    Yeah, I reckon that story is a bit odd too. Nobody ever said that government services have to make a profit – that is why we have taxes if only because it is a recognition that the services are necessary and if not provided via means of taxation, they may never exist in the first place. It’s akin to asking whether our elected leaders turn a profit. A bonkers story. Anyway, I’ll bet they don’t… Hehe!

    Hmm, perhaps you need some parameters around your harebrained ideas? Thinking music … … Ah, inoffensive and entertaining is the guiding principles here. Good luck.

    Hehe! Ollie is dirty for wet cement. Some people want to leave their mark in the tallest building, Ollie just wants to leave a footprint or fifty for future archaeologists to ponder. He needs no encouragement! 🙂

    Yup, the view from the bench is superb and I can see forest from here to about 40km to 50km away. The bench was a rescue from the tip shop, but it is a bit light weight and is occasionally blown over in the wind if left in the wrong location. Aluminium is good, but it is not suitable for all purposes.

    Thank you, but I’d be lying if there was any conscious plan to the roses. We just purchased roses that produced colourful and aromatic flowers. They’re growing really well on the terrace, and I seem to have discovered which one was the climbing rose. There was a minor problem (which I can’t talk about) with a storm that scattered some of the descriptive labels…. These things happen.

    Yeah. Talk of weather records being broken over consecutive days does not make for pleasant hearing. It all begins tomorrow here. Apparently the average temperature on the continent will exceed 40.3’C. Given tomorrow is forecast for 30’C, can you imagine what it is like elsewhere for the average to be so high?

    🙂 I reckon nasturtiums would do very well in your part of the world. They die off over winter but leave edible caper sized seeds that germinate with little effort on your part. The particular variety is called: Empress of India.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Hey mate, I’m tired tonight and the heat wave over the next few days is slightly adding to my pre-Xmas worries. Oh well, it is cold now at only 57’F, but it is going to get bonkers hot over the next few days. All part of the craziness of living in a land Down Under. Apparently the average temperature measured across the entire continent may exceed 104’F over the next few days. You have to admit that it is somewhat of a dubious record?

    Of course, I recall that you watched the series on the islands recently. Hope they took you to Kangaroo Island off the coast of South Australia. I loved the place and could have lived in such a remote spot. There was even a sheep dairy which produced beautiful and very smooth tasting cheese. Of course I am easily swayed by good food. Interestingly, despite the sheer size of Kangaroo island and it is over 60 miles end to end, the indigenous folks either abandoned it at some stage in the distant past (long before Europeans turned up on the scene), or died off. Nobody is really sure what happened, but there is mystery there.

    Incidentally this talk of islands reminds me of my favourite island which is Bruny Island (off the south eastern coast of the island state of Tasmania – another much larger island). I met an Asian bloke down there who had married a local lass and he was constructing accommodation buildings and fences on their huge property using the local timber which he was milling himself. I was in awe of the guy and we had a good long and enjoyable chat.

    This talk of tea cozy’s makes me feel very uncomfortable, but no doubts that you are correct. When I was a young kid and used to get up out of bed before the sun had risen and work for the local newsagent delivering the newspapers to subscribers six days per week, I used to deliver newspapers to a venerable institution such that you have wormed your way into (tidy work too if I may say so). Some of the residents (dare I suggest the term inmates and I blame you solely for the thought!!!) were subscribers of the newspaper and at Xmas time they used to tip me in hard cash for my predawn delivery services. Except some of the old dears – usually the female contingent – used to gift me tea cozy’s. Now what they reckoned I was going to do with such a knitted item is something that has always been beyond my ken. However, as a young kid I was always polite and respectful with them, if a little bit mystified by their behaviour. I have little doubts that my final thought on this planet will be: Oh, so that’s why they did it. And the mystery will be lifted for me, but until then…

    Mate, bailing from the job was the only option. I actually set up a meeting with the head honcho so as to ‘tell it like it is’ (I was young and idealistic) and my boss actually managed to cancel the meeting. The accounts folks who reported to me had this strange and unusual ‘deer in the headlight’ stare and just hoped that I’d sort it all out. They repaid my lack of faith in them by not paying me, and the eventual much larger splat when it came was public and messy (albeit a few months longer than I’d originally predicted). It rammed home the lesson that reading the wind is easy, however timing these things is really hard.

    Change is sometimes hard to accept too, especially when a rubbish change is being sold as positive move. A mate worked until very recently at plant owned by a private equity firm, and he appears to have jumped ship and is heading over to the land of the long white cloud where Damo resides. I’m a bit saddened by that, but what do you do? Life appears to be a series of ongoing tragic events and losses. Plus whilst I have a lot of acquaintances, I have only a few close friends – but I do count you among those (it’s been a long, fun and interesting journey has it not?) 🙂

    Putting my marketing hat on, I might quip that there is never a dull moment in Camulod! Yup, you guessed it about Clothar’s age in the book. The chapters are bonkers long, but it has been useful to see how things are on the continental mainland. And I do wonder why the northerners are not attacking the Franks?

    Not a bad pun at all – and given the circumstances gallows humour is rather appropriate! To add another dodgy pun: Things sure are heating up down here (a bit of a groaner): outh-East Queensland’s hot weather breaks records as temperatures hit the 40s. Queensland is of course two states north of here, and 43.2’C = 110’F…

    It’s the time of year for giving, so why not go hard with the cooking? I have no doubts that your cooking would be better than some rubbish present that gets chucked out once your back is turned. And interestingly I encounter the same problem with the dog biscuits and also the human Anzac biscuits. I get around it using a similar method to you except that every seventh biscuit I rinse my hand and ball up the biscuits with a clean and damp hand so that the dough does not stick. But I have to prepare the biscuits directly onto the steel oven tray next to the kitchen sink.



  7. Hi Chris,

    Your last couple of posts left a few uncertainties that I hope to be able to clear up with some pointed interrogation. From the top:

    1) What is the question being asked that you answer with “Get some friends, join some groups and develop some hobbies”? Is it “how should we live our life?”

    2) How do you preserve your apricots? thecrowandsheep’s jam contains halved apricots barely spreadable on bread. “if it’s spreadable, it ain’t credible”. I have a feeling you are hiding some apricot liqueur from the plebiscite?

    3) I thought it was only my older sisters who had dubious boyfriends? There can’t be too many of these guys around?

  8. Hi Chris

    Two phones – now that makes more sense. Hopefully you won’t get sucked in by all the phone’s addicting goodies but I think you’re made of tougher stuff.
    We’ve had very little snow just 1/2 inch last night. It’s nice that snow tends to muffle road noise.

    That is a nasty sounding forecast. I’ve never spent Christmas in a warm climate. Just doesn’t seem right. I’m off for an overnight in Chicago visiting my aunt as she won’t be here for Christmas. I’m sure it’ll be a zoo around her.


  9. Hello Chris
    I loved the photos, believe it or not, my favourite is the frog.
    So I am living back in the dark ages as I use a landline. I do have an ancient, tiny mobile phone but people don’t know its number and I have it permanently turned off. I am supposed to carry it with me when out in the woods in case I have a fall or something. Occasionally I remember to take it with me.


  10. Yo, Chris – That picture of the frog is a show stopper. Calendar worthy. When I opened your blog I went, “Ohhhhh!” He’s in the spotlight. Give him a tiny hat and cane, and he might go all Fred Astaire. :-). Equally calendar worthy are the two sunsets.

    Contactable? What’s that? 🙂 . My cell phone sits on a shelf, near my computer. It is always turned off. Every three or four days, I turn it on, to check for voice mails. Usually, there’s a few robo calls and, maybe, one of the Inmates, nattering on about something, that is never pressing. I don’t even carry it with me, when I’m out and about.

    Landlines got interesting, to me, when you could just pull the jack out of the wall. I used to upset my Mum, as I did that while sleeping. “What if something truly awful happens, and we need to get ahold of you in the night!!!” Well, if the news is truly dreadful, I’d rather face it with a good night’s sleep, under my belt.

    Oh, I remember the bricks. It’s a laugh when they show up in old movies. Or, in movies that are “period.” There was a period of time, when I worked at the libraries. The Library Ladies would sit around the staff room, and play “who has the smallest phone.” It was like an arms race. Maybe because smaller was more expensive? Status display?

    So wombats have hardened plates on their backs? Would it make good armor? Better than boiled ox hide? 🙂 .

    It’s always great when something works out, by accident. Those stairs being just the right size. What are the odds? Better buy a lottery ticket, today.

    Go lemon! Go gooseberries! You know, you might want to think about picking up a roll of deer fencing. To keep the birds off your berries. I know you like to share with the critters, but maybe just here and there, so you get a bit for yourself. It’s cheap and durable. Mine is going into it’s 3d season. Comes in handy, for all kinds of things. Can cut it with scissors, and it’s easier to handle than chicken wire. I’ve got some just laid over my parsley, and it’s enough to keep the deer off. I’m going to put some over my hidden strawberry patch, in the spring. I just tie it with jute cord, to my T posts. I leave the bottom flapping, and, using small bungy cords can pull it up and hook it, so I can get at the plants to weed or harvest.

    The roses look lovely, and are clearly happy with their patch. Succulents and cactus are always such a surprise, when they bloom. The flower forms are always a surprise. The last picture of the red flowers? They look like they’re floating freely in space. I even expanded the picture a few times, and they still look unmoored. Quit a nice and mysterious, effect. Cont.

  11. Cont. I’m not sure if it was Kangaroo Island, but Mr. Clunes was talking to some indigenous folks about why they were uncomfortable going to some island, off the coast. They did live there, back in the Dreamtime, but, apparently there was some shift in their spiritual beliefs, and they decided that the island was where the spirits of the dead, went.

    Funny how many culture’s beliefs about the afterlife involve passing over water. The Romans and their River Styx. Arthur traveling over the waters to Glastonbury (aka, Avalon.) By the way, “Avalon”, in some translations is “Island of the Apples.”

    I also don’t like to be stampeded into something I don’t want to do. But I still don’t get the why of demanding dumb phones. Or, did they even bother to justify the demand? Was it the old “our customer’s asked for it?” I wonder how many older accountants will just toss in the towel, at this point. The straw that broke the camels back.

    I’m beginning to think (probably did, for a long time) that private equity firms are just bad news, all around. Other than for a few people, or investors. Bad for workers, bad for environment.

    People are always going away. But I must say, it took me a long time to get to .

    That’s a funny story, about the tea cozies. Nice that they remembered to put a little something extra, in your bill envelope, but, there’s a certain belief that money is so impersonal. (But I’ll take the money, gladly, any time.) But the tea cozies were a personal gesture. Sure they weren’t stocking caps? 🙂

    I stopped by the Club, yesterday, spreading joy and cookies, all around. Stopped by the veg store, and, they had local eggs! There’s an op-shop across the parking lot from the veg store, but I seem to never get around to checking it out. Well, I stopped yesterday. Found three David Winter cottages for less than $4 per. And, a very cool lion.

    Being a Leo, if I see a cheap, cool lion (that I like), I pick it up. This is a very cheap (thin) hollow metal lion, about 6′ long. Brass? So thin there are holes, in spots. But what’s really cool is, I noticed on the base it said “Award of Merit, 1947.” Less than $2. Taking a quick wildlife census, I now have 4 tat lions. Lew

  12. Chris,

    Nice definition of gumption. I also like what Clint Eastwood’s character said in “Heartbreak Ridge”: “Adapt and improvise.” Very similar.

    I last read “Huck Finn” and “Tom Sawyer” something like 45 years ago? Grand adventurers they were, and gumption seemed to ooze through those stories.

    Sounds to me as if you’ve got a similar box of tools to what I’ve got. The sledgehammer approach is usually reserved for the last resort. Sometimes it misses the mark, but often it does what was intended. The cautionary stories usually are less “brutal” and can go a long way. Sometimes it is clear that neither one will work and then I just revert to my favorite action: do nothing and let the mud hit the fan. Knowing which one to try is more, to me, a result of experience and is more of an art form than anything else.

    Hehehe, I know the elected officials where I work don’t make a profit for our organization!

    Inoffensive and entertaining?!? I’ve got the entertaining bit well in hand. Maybe if I turn the harebrained ideas to poetry and add music? Oh wait, I tried that and the big boss overheard me singing (very quietly!) my new song “Every boss’s hair gets pointy” ala the boss from Dilbert. He was not amused and was as offended as I’ve ever seen him. Oh well, he got over it and I am more circumspect.

    I don’t know what it is about tags on plants. Even with no wind in the car, even on a totally calm day, even when the various plant containers haven’t jostled against one another, those darn tags get scattered and unless I know the plant varieties well, I have no clue what I planted where. Either it’s a nefarious plot, or else it’s the same universal law that disappears a sock from every load of laundry and zaps the sock to a planet filled with squooshy mattress-like life forms.

    I assumed from the forecasts that a lot of Australia will be pushing 45C and above? Ouch.

    My wife was wondering how people in warm climates (or where the seasons are “backwards” on your side of the equator) celebrate Christmas. I remember enough Christmases in southern California that I could explain that all the decorations go up just like here, but without snow or cold and it just plain looks weird. Like Christmas in July would look here.

    “Empress of India” added to the list to search for. I even wrote it down, but I should be able to remember it: it sounds royal and my wife is a Princess. I know she is because she reminds me of that multiple times a day. 😉

    Your smart phone debacle reminds me of something Lew has mentioned: Safeway and its sale prices on groceries only for those who download their app and digital coupons. One of these days I’ll likely complain that that policy is discriminatory against those of us who don’t own a smart phone. It won’t likely change anything, but I might get some amusement value out of it. 🙂


  13. Hi crowandsheep,

    Hope you’re not too cold in winter-land? I’ll be happy to share some heat and don’t worry about it at all, we’ve got plenty and more to spare. 39’C / 102’F tomorrow and then 41’C / 106’F on Friday. No doubt we have done something very bad in a past life to deserve such weather… The plants are enjoying the heat though and are finally growing.

    You’re asking some seriously hard questions there:

    1) Your answer is as good as any. Even when harsh economic winds blow across the land stripping the vegetation of leaves (thus hinting that money may indeed possibly grow on trees), I’m guessing that despite it all a trip to the local pub for a pint is always an enjoyable activity. I rest my case, QED.

    2) Haha! Welcome to my nightmare jam – which is actually more of a conserve. So, you may recall that last growing season I had a surfeit of white Anzac peaches. There were trays of the things and I had no idea what to do with them. They were too soft to bottle, and so that left them to be preserved as either wine or jam. We chose turning them into jam, and it is an OK nice – if somewhat chunky jam as you have likewise noticed. Berries suit jam making far better and produce a far tastier jam. Apricots on the other hand are a firm fleshed stone fruit that is best bottled and then opened on cold winters mornings and added to a breakfast of homemade toasted muesli, homemade yoghurt and preserved fruit. Yum! I sense that you may have taken the path of the dark side with your chunky jam. Beware of chunks my friend.

    3) It sure is a complicated business. My only advice is to go with your gut feeling in these matters. Too often we are trained to ignore our gut feelings, and there are times when our guts know more than our brains. Of course it may also indicate that a person is merely hungry…



  14. Hi Margaret,

    The fault is probably mine as I forgot to originally mention that the price was for two phones. Mind you, some phones exceed even that price and the situation forced me to navigate a world in which I really didn’t much care for. But you know, acceptance is a wonderful place and all that, and it remains slightly over the horizon at this point in time but I’m sure I’ll eventually get there. The phones I eventually decided upon were Cat S41 as they seem fairly basic and reasonably indestructible and more importantly run the correct software. The bloke who cut the house site into the side of the mountain had a 20 tonne Cat excavator so the business must know a thing or two about the meaning of the word: “rugged”. But time will tell, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for your vote of confidence, but hubris and all that business!!! How do you traverse the digital landscape? You have mentioned digital detox days – a concept I approve of (given I’m highly un-contactable when I have no desire for such contact!)

    Right now, your snow sounds lovely to me. 🙂 102’F tomorrow and 106’F on Friday. Ook!

    It isn’t right at all. The iconography is bonkers down here. I’ll head out over the next few evenings and nab some Xmas light photos for the next blog – it is one of my not so secret joys at this time of year. No doubts I have spent time as a moth in a past life to have been so attracted to Xmas lights! 🙂

    Have fun in the big smoke, and your not so secret is that you secretly love the hustle and bustle of such occasions. 🙂 I enjoy such things too but also enjoy my quiet time to recover afterwards.



  15. Hi Inge,

    Thank you, and I love the frogs and toads that live here. They’re always up to some sort of mischief in the garden beds and they consume a huge amount of insects and arachnids at night. A worthy service if ever there was one. I’ll tell ya a little secret about the frog photo, we used two torches as spotlights and no flash on the camera, and if you look really closely at the image you may notice that the circle of light is a bit larger than a circle. The frog didn’t seem to mind the attention at all because the additional lights attracted insects…

    I have a suspicion that the Dark Ages were not all that dark and foreboding, so you may well be ahead of the curve in your understanding of it being a desirable place to be – if your phone carrying is any indication as to your thoughts on the matter? Honestly, I don’t carry the phone around on my person at all, if only because it makes my skin itch and crawl, and so instead I leave it near to reach if I have to be contactable. Such behaviour is considered to be quite quirky, and no doubts you’ve heard claims as to what awful fate may eventuate for you if you’d taken a spill in your forest without your phone? People have said similar things to me. In times long since passed that used to be described as fate.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    The little tree frog is a ripper of a photo. The frogs and toads work quite hard here consuming insects that would otherwise be consuming my seedlings. The other evening I discovered that a massed horde of wood lice munched several cucumber seedlings. Not happy at all. The frog would be dirty for the attention! Had another amazing sunset tonight. The sun was a huge ball of fire as it sunk towards the horizon. I took a photo, but images involving the sun are tricky business so who knows how it turned out. I only really check the quality of photos we’ve taken about once per week. Early on in the blog the original camera just up and died one day. Technical glitches are part of an industrial existence!

    Speaking of which I read the excellent ‘The Daily Impact’ latest entries. The water robot seems to do a good job, although I don’t ask much of it, but if in my job I was put head to head with an AI, I’d win hands down every time. I often remark to clients that if I was as incorrect as often as the AI software, I’d be sacked. That doesn’t mean that mistakes do not occur, but they are far less frequent than if an AI was running the show. Have you ever noticed just how dumbed down our expectations of AI has become these days? In the 70’s and 80’s it was all about having a chat with a computer that was smarter than we were, now I just hope the dreaded things don’t inconvenience me too much – and they are doing just that I can tell you.

    Hehe! Blessed are the un-contactable! Hehe! Surely that was mentioned in the sermon on the mount? No, well, it should have been mentioned.

    Me too, unlike us lot, bad news doesn’t get better with age! Liked your cheeky technique too at pulling the cord out when asleep and transferral of concerns is a hassle of a technique. I once added in an extension phone connection in the house when I was a kid. Being the only bloke in the house for many years I was called upon to do such things (not to mention my Radio Shack past!). So, I was using my teeth to strip the plastic off the phone wires and my mum reconnected the plug and I got zapped on my tongue. A salient lesson to be sure and fortunately I measured it at only 90V or so. Not enough to do permanent damage – anyway that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. Hehe!

    Exactly, it was an epic display of consumption and status. The war of waste is long Brother Lewis. Speaking of brothers, young Clothar has fallen afoul of a foul brethren. Seems like old habits die hard. I had a guitar teacher a long time ago who when he was a kid went to piano lessons taken by a nun. Every time he played an incorrect note or chord, he told me that the nun would beat his fingers with a cane. He gave up piano and learned the guitar instead as the lessons had a less harsh teacher.

    What a great idea about the wombats. Over in NZ marsupial possums (introduced from Australia) are a serious pest – no owls is their problem over there (I can hear a Boo Bok owl hooting right now). Anyway, possum fur can be purchased and it is really nice. Sometimes people say really dumb things and someone asked me once about possum fur if the possums didn’t mind being shaved. Hmm…

    Ah, down here we describe deer fencing as dog fencing. Interesting. Not sure about that as the birds can get into really tiny gaps – one had been in the strawberry enclosure today and we’ll have to seal up the gaps at the bottom of the fencing. We tried to save on steel, but the birds always find the tiniest gap.

    What with the change in weather to seriously hot, I’m now adding a tiny bit of water to the rose terrace every second day. They’re pretty hardy plants and even the ones I was bit dodge on seem to have recovered and are thriving. Interestingly too, with the serious heat, the soil must have warmed up a touch and the seedling tomatoes are finally beginning to grow.

    Yeah, I loved that garden bed image too – and the sheer diversity of plants in there is a surprise to me. The garden bed climbs on a slope – thus the cool floating effect with the red flowers. And just outside the image frame is a hardy sugar maple on the left and a Japanese maple on the right. When I compressed the image (as I have no desire to fill up the interweb) they fell off the frame.

    Hang on, did you just mention that Glastonbury was considered to be one of the locales for Avalon? You mentioned previously that the outcrop used to be an island. Do you reckon there is a bit of cultural memory there from the pre-Celtic folks who inhabited the area?

    Nope and I feel my blood pressure rising, so perhaps I’m not quite at acceptance stage yet. No, we were just told that this is how it is going to be and you have to suck it up. There really was no choice. For a while I considered using a PC Android emulator (i.e. smartphone emulator), but that means I have to carry an interweb connected laptop around with me all of the time. I took a good hard long look at the future, and did not like what I saw and I believe that this is a beginning for such things, so best pick your fights and move on.

    It is strange that you mention that, but over the past few years we have picked up work off older accountants that have thrown in the towel. And I can see why they chucked in the towel, because the powers that be were getting around to asking them to jump the hoops that the editor and I have had to jump or face deregistration. It is neither a quick, cheap nor easy journey and I’m not sure that if I had to face it again I would take the same path. I tend to recommend that people earn an apprenticeship these days – they get paid more with less hassles and less responsibilities too.

    Go with your gut feeling. One story on that front that I’ve seen first-hand is the dismantling and loading up with debt, taking huge fees, and then selling of the remains to the unsuspecting public. And you hear things. In a way it is catabolism in action.

    Get to where is the question? I’m left hanging and reaching for your answer and no doubt you are enjoying your moment of sheer mighty mysticism! Some mysteries you just learn to carry around with you and perhaps that was your intention?

    No, I’m pretty certain that they were tea cozies. 🙂 I could have used a knitted woollen hat – and as dense as I was at the time, I knew that putting in knitting requests would have been bad news. Puts you in mind of the dreaded auntie who used to give boxes of handkerchiefs when we were all kids. Was the auntie trying to tell us that I we were snotty kids? Did you have to suffer such present indignities? Presents and stuff in general were in short supply in those days.

    Go the local eggs! The joy and cookies was a nice touch and would have been well received. Did you have fun doing that? I would have. I see that David Winter cottages are contested tat items. What is your take on that story? As a lion aficionado you may be interested in the: Marsupial lion. One of those would make walking in the dark here to be a truly terrifying (for a short while I guess) experience.



  17. Hi DJ,

    What a film! The hard bitten Sargent taking on the raw and arrogant troops. And I recall the characters mystification as to his girlfriend. Ah yes, and I also recall that it was the first time I heard the naughty word that accompanies Mr Kunstler’s fine blog. I see he has received some unpleasant emails. It is possible the sender was rather foolish and unnecessarily aggressive.

    Mate, you’re doing better than I and respect. Last week is a bit hazy, so 45 years ago is a long stretch for my poor overloaded brain. Hehe!

    Can you imagine notifying such grand personages of that particular possibility that they have to earn a profit by their activities? Like dealing with the elder folk, one has to be careful as unexpected paths may be found to their ends. Just for example, your lot might fine you in order to produce a profit, so best not tempt them. 🙂 And tread wearily seems to be the watchword.

    You are totally naughty, and refer to previous paragraph about not poking such folks. Most dragons have tender spots that can be easily lanced and we must content ourselves with such knowledge. Dilbert is pretty funny stuff – and so true.

    When I was a boss, I used to tell people off that sang. Not because I didn’t appreciate their lack of tune and out of key performances, but because it was just something random and that was fairly harmless and nobody seemed to get upset about. And whenever the telling off happened there was always a bit of sniggering at my silliness and the apparent discomfit of the erstwhile out-of-tune singer. A bit of harmless fun that let a bit of steam off everyone. And because everyone knew it was coming, sooner or later someone would start singing. Dunno, a bit of Sun Tzu in the workplace and it made it all a bit more harmonious.

    It is the elder folk mucking around and messing with our heads with those plant labels. And Lewis has suggested in all seriousness that the fern gully requires a gnome. I can’t begin to imagine the sort of extra mischief that a gnome would get up to whilst my back is turned. Nope, you have to face it, they’re in your garden too.

    The iconography for Xmas is just plain bonkers down here, and it is exactly as you wrote about southern California Xmas.

    The nasturtium is a great colour, really rich. I also grow an orange and yellow variety.

    Weatherpulse – Fires in 2019.



  18. @ DJSpo – Our local auction house is having an on-line only, book auction. I was looking through the pictures and spotted a lot that’s two books on pyrography. One is the newer Schiffler publishing company book, but the other appears to be a how to manual from around 1910. Judging from the costume the young lady on the cover is wearing, in the sketch.

    I might throw a low ball bid at it, just for poops and giggles. Lew

  19. Hi, Chris!

    I got a cell phone in the mid 90’s. There was a killer prowling around, targeting women in cars, and living in a rural area, with a somewhat dodgy vehicle, it seemed a good idea. It was only kept for emergencies. Besides, not too many people I knew had them yet. It came in a briefcase, which caused much mirth years later when we got the smaller ones.

    Naughty Chris: “Look, it still works!”

    I’d say that there couldn’t be a better sunset than that first one. The second one is rather eerie, like something on another planet.

    It’s so funny – from my vantage point – that all those Ollie Barriers have to be put up. Timber stairs make a nice change, especially when they are already constructed.

    I love how you set up the froggie’s spotlight. We often leave an outside light on in the summer nights for the toads. I have not noticed any frogs coming to it to look for bugs.

    It looks like a Berry Year, certainly if the strawberries are anything to go by. Those are handsome quinces. That pink rosebush has gone all out with its blooming, but the nasturtiums are so cheerful. The nasturtiums that I grew last summer were Empress of India. You are right – the last flowers image is the best, though it is awfully hard to choose.

    I don’t have any rats, thank goodness.

    We haven’t heard from Claire lately, have we? Did she say she was going somewhere?


  20. Yo, Chris – Wood lice. Also known as rolly pollies and potato bugs. Bane of my existence. Haven’ figured out a good control for them. But I did discover that they prefer dead foliage, to live. So, I try and keep little dead piles of stuff, close to whatever they want to ravage. I’m not sure if the slug ammonia spray kills them, or not. Doesn’t seem to. They’re well armored. I wonder if there are tiny insect smiths, pounding away at a forge? 🙂

    Yup. The Daily Impact has had some good posts, lately. I read something that said that people are realizing that tech (computers, AI, self driving cars) never deliver on their promise. Young folk seem to shrug that off. Hmmm. What does it mean when whole younger generations have low expectations?

    Yup. The Blessed State of the Un-contactable. As opposed to techno ecstasy. I mentioned to someone how un-connected I was, and they said, “How can you live?” “Quit nicely, thanks.”

    Yup. Avalon and Glastonbury is one in the same. Avalon was the Roman name, Glastonbury, Anglo-Saxon.

    No mystic, here. I used the pointy parenthesis, instead of the usual ones. I guess the software thought I was reaching for some strange HTML. It should have read: “People are always going away (shrug). But I must say it took me a longtime to get to (shrug.)” As long as we’re talking about verbal mysteries, what did you mean by, “I see David Winter cottages are contested tat items.” ???

    No handkerchiefs from aunties, but I had one auntie who gave me and my brother, each, a picture puzzle, every Christmas. After near a decade of that, I was cheeky enough to pick up the box, rattle it, and say, “I wonder what this is?” That was very unkind of me.

    You can keep your Marsupial lion. We have enough long in tooth and claw, wandering about. He is cool looking.

    Well, you have your heat wave and we may have a “hydrologic event.” A flood. The National Weather Service map is lit up green for all of western Washington and most of Oregon. We’re getting an atmospheric river, at the same time the snow level is rising 2,000 feet. Rain + snow melt = floods. Too early to tell where, and how bad it will be. But the rain will set in, tomorrow night, Wednesday. And rain straight through the weekend. We haven’t had a flood here, in awhile. I’m high enough up, not to worry about water. But the Club has been flooded, twice.

    I watched “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood”, last night. Have never been a Tarantino fan. Still aren’t. I fast forwarded through vast swatches. But, it will stick with me, awhile, due to things I can’t mention. Spoilers.

    Off to the Club, as I’ve also got to pick up a lot I won on an online book auction. A nice lot for $10. All books on one of my favorite artists, Thomas Hart Benton. Both about, and illustrated, by him. Lew

  21. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for clearing things up.

    The winter has been relatively mild, a little moist and rather bland,
    like supermarket derived apricot jam.
    Homemade toasted muesli, yogurt and preserved fruit,
    all worthy of experiment,
    once the winter becomes summer’s lament.

    1) I accept your proof without comment.

    2) In what medium do you preserve your apricots? It is the chunks that make the struggle worth living.

    3) Going with your gut at least throws a random element into any strategy to which I think Sun Tzu would give two thumbs up. You see the problem with an entirely rational well considered approach is that it is too easy to game.

  22. @ Pam,

    Claire did post a comment to Mr. Greer’s most recent Magic Monday. Now you know as much as I do.


  23. Chris

    Good point. That movie is also the first time I heard that phrase! While the emails Kunstler mentioned appear to be over the top, on the other hand, Kunstler seemingly cannot make his point without calling the Democrats (and others) names. He really weakens his argument by his writing style and the name calling. I read his twice weekly “Thatphrase Nation” simply for a different viewpoint and for some entertainment value.

    Ah, but as we age, our short term memory weakens and our longer term memory remains intact. Which is a scary thought if I can remember anything about Huck Finn! Actually, I only remember that the lads were adventurous and intrepid.

    Oh, I can only imagine their reaction to the suggestion that they turn a profit! My boss liked Dilbert until he became a Big Boss. As soon as his hair started getting pointy, his liking of Dilbert diminished.

    Seriously, I know where HIS limit is, and my limit for pushing is far short of what I know he will put up with, which is far, far short of what he says he will put up with. (I don’t test the limit.) The next 14 months is going to entail a lot of training of the new techs and transitioning things over to them. And if the boss micromanages to the point where this doesn’t work well, it’s on him. My responsibility in the matter falls far short of antagonizing him.

    I don’t sing often at work, as Cubicle Land is not the proper place. I have a good voice, sang at a handful of weddings, and still can carry a tune and stay on pitch. (I was a music major before switching to physics.) When I do sing, it’s often this time of year. “Viking Jingle Bells” aka “Viking Men” is a favorite.
    I’ve also been known to belt out Robert Service’s poem “Duello” to the tune of “Good King Wenceslaus”.
    Interestingly enough, “Duello” can also be sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”. Which means that the “Yankee Doodle” lyrics can be sung to the tune of “Good King Wenceslaus” and vice versa.

    Another bit of music trivia is that the lyrics to “House of the Rising Sun” perfectly fit the tune for “Amazing Grace”, which fact got me in trouble once while singing at a Solemn Event.

    Yes, the elder folk and gnomes are everywhere. I fight them not and let them have their fun. It’s easier that way, especially when I laugh too. My sister bought me a desk size Zen sand garden complete with small rocks and rakes and a bridge. And a small garden gnome, because she knows that I’m just a shade off “normal”. I love the Zen garden and the gnome.

    Thanks for the wildfire video. I knew that Australia has been hit hard. The amount of buildings and homes destroyed and damaged is astronomical.


  24. Hi Chris,

    That frog picture is a winner!

    In contrast to your heatwave I am currently wearing slacks and long sleeve top. Hopefully it cools soon, not the least because I will be in NSW next week and don’t like the sound of 40 degree days!


  25. Hi Pam,

    You can’t argue with that logic, and yup the really old mobiles were not that mobile with a briefcase full of electronics and batteries. No doubt you may have felt like Agent 99 with such tech gear?

    The skies are chock full of particulates from the various fires raging around the countryside. The light from the dying sun on the second photo was a bit eerie. Anyway, things down here in large parts of the continent are not so good: NSW bushfires burn an area greater than Wales, the result of an exceptional spring. What do you do? At least today’s exceptional heat has caused the tomatoes, eggplant and capsicum to grow… But I’m feeling it this evening. 106’F here today.

    This evening Ollie proved that he was dog enough to be able to leap into the sealed off middle and higher terraces. If Ollie can make the jump, other critters are likely to also be able to do so. He looked inordinately pleased with himself, and we have taken notes on how to thwart him.

    Now that you mention it, I don’t really see the frogs and toads communing in the same locations. Hmm, you might be onto something with that and I’ll keep an eye out.

    I dunno about the raspberries this year, although it may be that the cool spring means that they’re running really late? Dunno.

    Spare a thought for poor Toothy. Over the past few weeks I’ve been hacking into his long haired coat and cutting out bindi’s (weed seeds) that get attached to his coat. As I’ve been typing away on this reply he was making sucking and slurping noises and eventually I’d had enough of that and just cut off more fur. He looks quite dapper with a shorter coat, and hair dressing scissors are fine tools for such a job, if one doesn’t look too closely at the detail…



  26. Hi Lewis,

    Slaters AKA wood lice (and all the other monikers) are tough little seedling munchers. But then it is a similar situation to the Portuguese millipedes in that they convert cellulose into rich soil, so I don’t know whether to be unhappy with them or not. Of late, and like you with your slugs, I’ve been on garden patrol at night and just collecting the wood lice and disposing of them elsewhere in the garden usually throwing them further away. They really seem to take out the weaker seedlings, and who knows, they may be doing me a favour from a plant breeding perspective? Dunno at all.

    It was 106’F here today and my brain feels mildly scrambled – like a couple of eggs on sourdough toast, but without the toast and it probably doesn’t taste anywhere near as good. It is 9.30pm and even so, the temperature is still 81’F inside and outside the house. Glorious achievements have been surpassed today (well done us): Australia’s heatwave registers new hottest day on record, BOM says. And Friday looks set to top today’s temperatures. On a brighter note, with today’s heat the tomatoes, eggplants and capsicum have all just grown because I suspect the soil is now warmer. It is amazing to see the plants taking advantage of the solar energy. I’ll bet the solar hot water is toasty hot too.

    Yeah, well I’ve heard tell that young folks don’t seem to regard ‘free speech’ in your country as much chop either. We don’t have such rights and never had such rights so I’m unsure what they even look like. But overall, I agree with your analysis of the situation and expectations have reduced. I’m not sure how many benefits new and faster computers can even deliver nowadays. And a lot of software applications are returning to their former true selves – centrally driven from a large server. A backwards step from some respects if ever there was one.

    “Quite nicely, thanks”, is a delightful reply and only those that know and appreciate, know and appreciate the pleasant state of being.

    Rabbit hole alert! Lewis, I dived in deep, and my head is spinning. The tales surrounding the Battle of Camlann were fascinating. I ask you, at what point does myth become history – if no history is known? It is irresponsible to claim that because the details are not known and cannot be proven, nothing happened – but some folks may take such an approach.

    That makes more sense to me and many thanks for the explanation. Ah! Well, I read that David Winter cottages are very difficult items to price in an auction, and so I presumed (and please correct me if I am wrong) that the prices for said items can vary wildly. Of course my meaning was not entirely clear in yesterday’s reply and so yeah, I botched that up for sure. 🙂 I read a few stories of serious collectors paying mega-bucks, but of course that sort of discussion may be a bait technique for holders of said tat.

    Naughty Lewis! But yeah, I may have blurted out such a candid opinion too at a young age. Well done you! It happens. You know for the life of me I can’t even recall whether the boxes of handkerchiefs were even wrapped? My money is still leaning towards the snotty explanation.

    Had a lemon crème brulee for dessert this evening. The dessert was a tasty gift, and I’d like to believe that I’m still enjoying minor Christmas bonus gifts after all these years. I very rarely partake of dessert of an evening.

    Has the good Prof written about the impending atmospheric river? No sign of serious rain for us for a while to come. His latest entry about the freezing fog was frightening and not a weather condition that I’ve ever experienced.

    Out of curiosity, did the Tarantino film feature an actor playing the now deceased actor Bruce Lee? I tend to avoid Tarantino films if only because they’re often a bit gratuitously violent for my particular tastes. You may have seen his film Reservoir Dogs and um, yeah. And I’ve often wondered whether the scene in Pulp Fiction with the briefcase was inspired by Repo Man? It’s intense being a repo man, and who knew what was in the briefcase?

    An exceptional artist and thanks for the introduction. Another rabbit hole… 🙂 My brain hurts this evening due to the heat.



  27. Hi crowandsheep,

    Yes, yes, now that you mention it, I’m not generally prone to bouts of obfuscation. A rather tiresome form of dialogue, you have to admit?

    What is this thing: supermarket derived apricot jam? Hmm, my experiences have been similar to yours. We actually used to make apricot jam, but despite using excellent tasting sun ripened fruit, the end product just doesn’t have enough flavour to be worth the while. They’re an early fruit so expectations must be kept low. It takes sun to produce the sugars in the fruit – unless the fruit be berries like strawberries that use tricky chemicals to fool us into believing the sugars are higher than they are.

    Beautiful poetry: “once the winter becomes summer’s lament.” with a dash of rhythm.

    Apricots are bottled using a large electric boiler and 900ml bottles with stainless steel lids and rubber rings. The apricots keep well for at least nine months at the latest and the syrup is water and sugar. The sugar increases the acidity and is a nice touch on a cold winters morning.

    Haha! I too agree and always being predicable means that your enemies may indeed be able to predict your behaviour in advance of your actions. Not good.



  28. Hi DJ,

    The film was a goodie, and I read about Spaghetti Westerns the other evening when I was reading about anti-heroes for this week’s blog. Sorry, I’m digressing as I meant to mention Clint Eastwood in the morally ambiguous role in A Fist Full of Dollars and also For a Few Dollars More. All good stuff and I grew up watching such films although they were in repeat territory by then.

    I’m an outsider to your politics, and as such have nothing meaningful to add other than the politicians should be serving the public first and foremost, if only because that is what they are paid to do. Some of them from my point of view seem to have forgotten that little titbit, and both parties look equally daft to me. Sorry, I have nothing more useful to add on the topic. You could equally apply the same story down here where politics appears to have settled down a bit after a crushing Federal defeat.

    I didn’t know that about short term loss and retention of long term memories. No doubts we’ll all be singing catchy ditties from our youth, but not remember whether we’d had lunch or not. Hope the nursing staff aren’t upset by my future rendition of Smells Like Teen Spirit?

    Who was it that mentioned that power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely? Or I may have misquoted that? You know what you’re doing, I was just gently prodding you as a gentle reminder to play nice. No point chucking toys at the other kids in the sand pit – although it may make a person feel better in the short term. 🙂 And micromanaging is a state of being that I loathe. Good luck!

    The song works perfectly to the Jingle Bells melody. True genius. The Vikings would keel over if they ventured this far south. Fact A: Consider poor Sir Poopy who surely had Viking blood in his soul. Sir Poopy hated summer down here due to a double thick coat. He was regularly shaved during summer, but even so he was not up for it. The Vikings would not do so well here where only mad dogs and Englishmen venture forth when the hot summer suns rays squoosh a persons head (and possibly also a Vikings head as they succumbed to the heat). Hehe!

    When did you learn to sing or was it something you’ve always been able to do?

    I really like the Animals song House of the Rising Sun. There is a house in New Orleans…. 🙂

    Wise. Very wise with the elder folk and gnomes. If you and I are not careful, they may tweak our noses and do far, far worse.

    The weather today was bonkers. And Friday looks forecast to reach 43’C – probably hotter here. At least it is not windy.



  29. Hi Damo,

    The frogs are great aren’t they? They’re spread right throughout the garden.

    Mate, I’m traumatised. The other evening I watched “The Lighthouse” episode. Wow. It appears that the bloke gave up his family for the monster, and at the end he was still chasing losses. The most gut wrenching – cautionary tale – episode ever. What was your take on it?

    Surely you are teasing me? Hehe! Well done you. It’s almost 11pm and I’m wearing shorts and a t-shirt and the temperature in the house is 26’C inside and 24’C outside. The house performed pretty well and reached a max of 27’C about 7pm, but it was 41’C outside and it was hot from the very start today. My head hurts this evening.

    Just to tease you (and you started it!!!) It is hotter in NSW. Just checked out the weather forecast leading up to Xmas for that part of the continent. The best I can suggest is that perhaps Xmas day will be cooler?

    Nice work with the book! 😉



  30. @ Lew:

    A while back I was reading some general information about Glastonbury. I did not know that it was Avalon. Also, am I confused: Did you say that it had once been an island?


  31. Chris:

    I am so glad I am not in your heat! I love cold weather – except for the fact that I could not garden if I only had cold weather.


  32. Chris:

    I always was 99. 🙂

    The photo of the flames in that article looks like Hell itself.

    Ollie: You continue to amaze. I do know for a fact, however, that you only jumped into the enclosures to point out to the Boss where the shortcomings were.

    Toothy: I’ll bet you are the most dapper thing around, and cooler, too.


  33. Hello again
    How you keep up with these comments, I just don’t know. Mr Greer is even more amazing. Certainly I am floundering. Of course I have been told of what might happen to me in the woods if I have an accident and no phone. Have reached an age when I don’t think it matters. Either I am so injured that I die and that’s okay or I would damn well get out somehow.
    The friend I sold some land to, seems to keep running himself into trouble over his works there. He has no concept of the notion of keeping a low profile. He wants a letter of support from me about his current project which is perfectly legal but is suddenly being questioned. I spent most of yesterday going through old diaries of mine to find relevant dates. He is lucky that I keep them. Tomorrow he comes and I write this letter. I know that he will want me to gild the lily which would be a mistake. I shall write the accurate and bare facts which is all that is needed.


  34. Yo, Chris – I’m with you. I really don’t understand people who enjoy the heat. At least with cold, you can throw a jumper on or put another blanket on the bed. Heat? Not so easy to deal with.

    Oh, we bang on about our “free speech,” here, but in practice, it’s not so “free.” Seems like someone is always trying to curb an opinion … or, humor. Not six months ago, here at The Institution, a memo was sent around that threatening speech (even in jest) could get you bounced out of here. Now, who is thretening who? And who decides what is threatening speech. How many times, in my life, have I had my leash pulled, do to something I’ve said? Many.

    Ah. I understand about David Winter’s cottages and auctions. I think auctions might give you a general idea of “value” (a slippery term), but it’s just a general idea. At one particular point of time and place. There are so many factors, in play. Everything from weather, timing or two crazy people bidding against each other. I picked up my books, yesterday. Five items relating to Benton. Two about his art, and three items, illustrated by him. With the fees, and all, cost me $12. Just for giggles, I checked The River, to see how much I would have paid if I had just bought the same items (in similar condition). About $90. So, what’s the value? $12 or $90? I noticed, looking at E-Bay, that “value” of the cottages seems to be down. Or, sliding. Except for early pieces with limited production. Also helps if they’re “mint in box” (MIB). What I think is interesting, is that I never used to see them (at least here) in the op-shops. Now they’re beginning to show up. But things go in cycles.

    Myth, history. Maybe it’s all the same? 🙂 .

    Oh, yeah. Freezing fog. Old hat. Prof. Mass hasn’t said anything about our upcoming weather, but he’s probably waiting for a closer forecast window. I expect he’ll say something, sometime today.

    Yes, “Once Upon a Time…(etc.)” had a little bit with Bruce Lee. But the whole thing had walk-ons, walk throughs and cameos by this actor or that. Everyone from Steve McQueen to Sharon Tate. As far as violence goes, it was rather restrained. Until the last 10 minutes :-).

    I watched “The Goldfinch”, last night. I really liked it, but then, it pushed a lot of my buttons. So, I can’t say I’m really an objective reviewer. Lew

  35. Hi Chris,
    Back from the city and as it was a weekday things weren’t too crazy. In fact I thought it was rather quiet on Michigan Ave (major tourist area) considering the season. No, I the “hustle and bustle” doesn’t really do that much for me though I enjoy our traditional family gatherings as they have been pretty much the same apparently from before I was born.

    I’ve been reading “Our Wild Calling” by Richard Louv and he wrote about a fellow Australian, Glenn Albrecht and his place, Wallaby Farm.

    I also had creme brulee while out to dinner with my aunt and sister Monday night. It is so freakin’ expensive eating out in the city especially downtown. My aunt’s asthma is plaguing her of late. They have been doing a lot of work on the outside of her building which has caused considerable cement dust. She thinks it’s getting sucked in by her heaters. Today she left to visit her daughter and SIL in California and I brought up the fact that the particulates from all the California fires may bother her there too.

    Very cold here today but just for one day and then it’s above average temps starting tomorrow for the next two weeks.


  36. Hi all,

    The radio silence on my end has been due to an extra helping of items on the to-do list combined with the usual seasonal activities.

    First, there was catching up on a yard chore I would usually have finished earlier (raking and storing leaves for next year’s compost piles), but the heat in early fall delayed leaf color change in the oak trees. Their leaves didn’t fall until we had a storm with high winds come through around the end of November. So it wasn’t till the beginning of December that I could rake and collect the leaves.

    Then there was shelling out the corn that I harvested this year. Eventually I’ll be writing a post on that and the rest of what I learned from this year’s garden for the blog. Before that, however, I have to finish and post Part 3 of the current series; the goal is to do that before the end of the month.

    Then there was, and remains, work to wrap up my mother-in-law’s estate (she died the day before Thanksgiving). Mike has the financial POA and we live the closest to where she did so this work has fallen primarily on him, with my help. In late September, when she entered the nursing home, she gave her 90 days’ notice to vacate her apartment, which means that by the 31st we have to have everything out of it. We and Mike’s brother Curt had already taken what we wanted out of it; for the last couple of weeks Mike and I have been going through everything else to donate what we can and recycle what we could of the rest. Among the latter was a 33 inch CRT TV, the ones they made just before the big plasma TVs came out. We had to take that monster to the electronics recycling center (and her estate had to pay to recycle it). The two of us and a heavy-duty hand truck barely managed to get it out of her apartment and into our car. I felt sorry for the two folks at the recycling center who had to remove it from our car (they told us it wasn’t the heaviest TV of its size that they had dealt with, however). We made arrangements with a local chain of thrift stores to take the furniture, clothes, and housewares, but we had to pack the non-furniture into boxes for that, which we finished yesterday. The lamps and umbrellas were too large for boxes so we took them to the thrift store ourselves. The truck from the thrift store picks up the boxes and furniture after Christmas, so we’ll have everything out in time, with just some cleaning to do before Mike turns in the keys.

    This week Mike began dealing with the paperwork end of the estate, which required a meeting yesterday which we both attended, and will go on for awhile into next year.

    On top of this I accepted another volunteer position in an organization I belong to on top of the one I’m already doing. It’s work I enjoy doing and am glad to do for the organization, but it does take more time to do two jobs than one.

    And I wrote out Christmas cards as usual, though with so few people sending them anymore, I may re-think that next year.

    And then it snowed a total of 5 inches or so, spread across last Sunday and Monday, so there was snow shoveling to deal with … and our driveway is about 100 feet long and we shovel the whole thing … and while Sunday’s snow was light and powdery, Monday’s was wet and heavy and stuck to the snow shovel. Which meant handling most of the snow at least twice. Not much fun. But it is bright and sunny today, and extra bright because of the sun reflecting off the snow cover. Rather pretty, really.


  37. @lew

    The last 10 minutes of Once Upon a Time were in true Tarantino style that is for sure 🙂 Not to give spoilers for others, but Mrs Damo and I had only just watched a True Crime series which covered that era and gave us much needed cultural context for the scene!

    As a rule, we both love Tarantino movies, and Once Upon is up there as one of my fav’s for the year. But there is no denying his movies are an acquired taste.

    Unrelated, I watched the musical zombie movie the other day, Anna and the Apocalypse. Wasn’t bad, and I am not a huge fan of musicals. But, I do now want to watch Shaun of the Dead again….


  38. Hi Chris,

    Update: I just had a homemade lolly cake. The cook said she only used *half* the amount of condensed milk from the recipe. It was still quite sweet, but actually pretty good. All the Kiwis in the office didn’t like it so much though, they must have been hankering for the full load of condensed milk….

    Also, love the Vance reference. All of the short stories with Cugel are great, and I think a useful guide for living in uncertain times. I just started one of his earlier books yesterday, Magnus Ridolph.

    The lighthouse episode was indeed traumatic. It all went wrong for me from the very beginning when they tore down the original structure and then proceeded to only get worse. Need we even mention the road….

    1 chapter in on the other book (Australia: Biggest Estate on Earth) – it is already making me sad what the country used to look like. I guess, the takeaway is we could make it look that way again if the decision was made. The contemporary paintings of rural Australia at time of white settlement are very eye opening. There was even a description of my home town Dorrigo that explains things my grandfather told me about the farm. The best paddocks were (and still are) low lying in a valley along a small creek. We called them the “flats” because it was nearly 100 acres of pretty much flat terrain divided up into a paddocks for strip grazing etc. Grandpa always said the flats didn’t need to be cleared when they got the land, which only clicked with me now after reading this book. Of course, the previous inhabitants must have decided to keep them clear, otherwise they would have been covered in dense rainforest within 20-30 years. Our most productive paddocks were due to 1000’s of years of land management practices by the previous owners!


  39. Chris,

    I figured something as much. I knew she had been hit with snow, but didn’t know how much. The rest of the events about which she posted are difficult to deal with and are exhausting. Apologies if I sounded judgmental – I certainly am not. Concerned I was, however. I’ve been where Claire is, complete with snow at inopportune moments when needing to work with more important things.


  40. @ Claire,

    It is good to hear from you. I was concerned that the snow had been much worse than it was! I’m glad you were able to do a fair amount of “chop wood, carry water”. Mundane tasks, especially when outside, have always aided me when having to deal with the other types of things that are on your plate.

    As I mentioned to our host, dealing with estates and clearing possessions out of a dwelling are emotionally difficult and exhausting. More strength and respect sent your direction!

    People who don’t have much snow don’t understand the differences in the types of snow we can get. That wet stuff is heavy and nasty. It sticks to shovels and snow blowers and everything that tries to remove it. I remember too many times of having to hoist a partial shovel of wet-heavy then having to pound it out of the shovel. And it is zarking heavy.

    Hang in there!


  41. Hi everyone,

    Forgive the mid-week hiatus this time because I actually had intentions of replying. However, I had a mixed day of numerous life’s little administrative tasks and work. One of the administrative tasks was going to the telco shop and getting the new phone all connected up. The telco people were lovely and helpful.

    However, upon later doing paid work I began getting phone calls – which I really had to answer – and it was difficult just answering basic phone calls. To the outside world I was cool as a cucumber. On the inside I was having a melt down. Feeling back to my usual relaxed self now, but for a while there the blood pressure was rather elevated. I so hate this device thing.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    For a while there I could hear the blood pressure whooshing in my ears, so if I drop dead due to some sort of weird cardiac failure – blame the freakin phone. Hate it. The helpful instructions on the screen suggested to swipe the screen to answer the phone calls, and it just didn’t work. And what kind of stupid machine doesn’t come with a manual where I can absorb the basics? Bonkers.

    Sorry for the whinge, I was put a bit out of sorts earlier today and my inner ear still doesn’t feel quite right. Talk about wrong patterns and all that. I’ve set aside some time tomorrow (forecast at 111’F yay for us!) to dive deep into the system, but today there was work to be done…

    Exactly about the cold weather, although I believe that humans are pretty adaptable to hot conditions. Doesn’t make it much fun though does it? Oh, more weather records were broken down under today. It’s impressive! Australia’s heatwave sees average maximum temperature record broken two days in a row. The heat is probably not assisting my usual feelings of relaxation.

    Your skills with logic are superb to have picked up on the inherent conflict in the order proclaimed by the institute folks. Yes, I agree. Bonkers. Defamation is a real problem here, and only those with really deep pockets (or case investors looking for a tidy return) can pursue such cases in the system. And it is apparently a very lucrative fee base for people involved in such systems. Best not to give offense in the first place. Interestingly did you note that your Mr Muskstick (a lollie from my youth that looked bright pink and was quite tasty) appears to have won the infamous Thai defamation action. The naughty things that the other guy allegedly said first about where to put the machine was possibly a very unwise course of action.

    That was the thing with the David Winter cottages. The expected (or anticipated) value was declared to be all over the shop, but if collectors are turning their minds and wallets to other items. Mate, your business would have been very complex keeping ahead of the game. Did you ever had any customers who were always on the zietgesit and knew what the next collector interest would be? Reading the winds so to speak. I see Mr Greer has something to say about that today, and I too enjoyed the character and story.

    It is certainly possible, and more importantly, does it actually matter splitting which is which? The Ancients didn’t seem to believe so.

    I’ll keep an eye out for the Good Prof. essay on the subject. And whilst it is being written, stick to higher ground. 😉

    Oh yeah, I was aware that the story plot revolved around the Mansen murders. A grisly business.

    Thanks for repeating the movie reference and I have added it to the ‘to watch’ list and will report again at some unspecified time in the near future. After tomorrow I have a full week off without doing any paid work. It’s my preciousses weeksses.

    Hey, my mates of the big shed fame had a tiger snake enter their house last night. They dealt to it as well. Big snake, and very aggressive. Mate, those guys have some serious cojones.



  43. Chris:

    I was trying to imagine what Sun Tzu would say about smartphones. They seem to me to fit into the context of war. But how does one master a “thing” that has human manipulation contained in it?


  44. Hi Chris,

    Obfuscation can be quite useful when trying to buy a bit of time or for easing out of a tricky situation. Situations are getting trickier.

    Thanks for your apricot preservation tips. Supermarket derived apricot jam and indeed other such jams are available at markets promoting themselves as super. Such markets are populated by super grumpy people, super bad light and super annoying music. And rubbish jam.

    Thank you for your kind words toward my poetry. I am a poet, and I know this.

  45. @ Pam – Yup. Glastonbury (aka Avalon … maybe) was once an island. Or, at least surrounded by tidal marshes, most of the time. After shrugging off the weight of the last ice age, Britain began to rise. Same thing is happening in Greenland, now. Also, the monks, Romans and Anglo-Saxons all contributed to drainage projects. Lew

  46. @ Damo – I’m still not a Tarantino fan. It would have been torture to watch, had I not had it on DVD, with a hot fast forward button, in my hand. Was it really necessary to spend fifteen or twenty minutes (seemed like) watching some starlet (unnamed … spoilers) watch her own lame movie? But, the last ten minutes were a zinger. I may have to go back and watch that again. Not so much violence, for violence sake, as, the bad guys, get their just deserts.

    Anna (etc.) was fun. Kind of a cross between Sean of … and Zombieland. With music! :-). Lew

  47. @ DJSpo – We’ll see what happens. The on-line auction isn’t over until just before New Years. Which (oh, my gosh!) isn’t that far away. Lew

  48. Yo, Chris – Well, we’ve reached the tipping point. I discovered today, that bubbling over with holiday cheer, at this point, is far more irritating than Bah! Humbug! So, today I have been bubbling over with holiday cheer, much to the irritation of many other people. My work here is ongoing :-).

    No manual? That is bonkers. Can you maybe put on a voice greeting, “Our hours are …” And then shut the darned thing down and only pay attention to it, during your “business hours.” ?

    Even NPR had a large article about your heatwave. Prof. Mass, in his never ending effort to take the hype out of weather reporting, said, yesterday, that it’s a moderate atmospheric river. It has been raining puppies and kitties, here, but I’ve seen worse. Time will tell.

    Hmm. Collectors trends. Walter Rinker, a media antiques guy was always pretty good. But, mostly, paying attention to the “Home and Garden”, magazines. Mostly Martha. On one hand, she didn’t help much, as her “by mail” arm of her media empire cranked out a lot of reproductions. On the other, they were mostly American made, and kept a few glass companies alive, for a few more years. And, I think they were marked. So you could tell the real from the repro. Unless some enterprising individual ground them off. As did happen.

    The Manson Murders, the Patty Hearst kidnapping … I lived through it all. But back in those days, information moved a lot slower. So, you kind of watched in horrified fascination, as each new horrific detail was revealed.

    Tiger snake. First I would have screamed like a little girl … then, calmly dispatched it. I realize snakes have their place, in the vast panorama of nature, but they belong in the garden, not the house. It’s a compact.

    I molested some pea blossoms, with a q-tip, yesterday. We’ll see how it goes. Which reminded me why I am re-thinking the Meyer lemon. I ran into Carl, the retired head gardener, at the local big nursery. He wasn’t too keen, on the lemons. I couldn’t remember why. Why? Because, here, they flower in the winter. So, I might have the same problems with the lemons as I do with the peas. No pollinators in the winter. Lew

  49. Hi Pam,

    It is a rather strange thing that despite the extraordinary heat here today, the plants continued to grow. Bonkers. I recorded 45’C / 113’F although I suspect that the thermometer was slight exaggerating, but not by much. I chucked down some water for the plant early this morning. There seems little point hoarding water and not using it when it is most needed.

    🙂 It has been said that one must aim high if they are to achieve greatness.

    Ollie, here – Pam, fencing needed testing it did! Tested it was.

    Back to Chris. Get away from the keyboard Ollie! Toothy is enjoying feeling somewhat cooler on crazy days like today.



  50. Hi Inge,

    There are times such as the mid-week hiatus where I do not in fact keep up with the comments. On the other hand, it took me three years to make the decision to begin a blog, which perhaps indicates my serious side?

    You have clearly reached acceptance on the issue – possibly before other people have done so. We cannot eliminate risk from our lives and many day to day activities which we take for granted are inherently risky.

    I’m unsure how much weight a letter of support will have in the either a planning or building process. It would mean little down here, but I agree with you and would likewise stick to the facts. Would the person in question return the favour that they are requesting?

    I’ve noticed that there is a world of difference between neighbourly relations in rural and urban areas, and your friend may do well to observe first and act second.



  51. Hi Margaret,

    Non crazy time in the city is time well spent and hustle and bustle can be tiring when your usual experience is markedly different. I was planning to dine out on Wednesday evening in the big smoke, but at 39’C / 102’F it was no fun at all down there. Today I was confined indoors working on finishing up tasks before the Christmas shutdown (usually an extended affair down here due to it being summer and all) as the outside air temperature reached 45’C / 113’F which is about as hot as I’d seen here. No air-conditiong inside the house either. Sorry I’m full of my own woes here this evening – and I beg your forgiveness. At 10pm it is still 90’F.

    Never heard of the bloke, although he sounds as if he has some lovely ethics in relation to the animals. An excerpt of the book was available to read. 🙂 They’re doing it beyond tough up in that part of the world. Ask Hazel if she drops by for a visit and a comment here. Hope the animals on his farm are OK, and I leave water out for all sorts of animals as they need a helping hand.

    I’m unsure what dining out downtown means in your language, but I take your word for it. I tend to look for the good value middle of the road places that produce great quality food. Not an easy ask, but they’re there to be found.

    Your aunt would not be doing so well if she were down this way today. The smoke from the bushfires up north has drifted downwards on the winds and visibility is not so good – certainly I could no longer see the horizon from up here and you could smell the burnt vegetation. Yup the Californian fires were epic too.

    Please send some of your cold weather down this way!



  52. Hi Claire,

    No need to apologise, and I have respect for the work that you do.

    Yeah, the seasons are highly variable that’s for sure, and timing is always a difficult dilemma. Do you mulch or chip your leaves in any way? I run over my lot with the lawn mower, but with the warmer winters they disappear over a few weeks as they get eaten by the soil critters.

    Corn is a fascination of mine and I look forward to reading your thoughts in the matter. Incidentally we had the discussion today about perhaps getting a seed raising heat pad. Probably cheaper than running cold frames everywhere – although I could make them too.

    It makes you wonder whatever happened to all those old CRT devices? And it is a truly sobering experience to clear an estate. And the legal process takes an long time, for good reasons too. At least it is winter for you both and such processes by their very nature are winter activities.

    Happy solstice too!

    Hints of taking on a second volunteer role just leads me to believe that you are an international woman of mystery! Top work, and you set a fine example.

    The longer I go on the more convinced I am that the Christmas cards are a nice touch, and also a thoughtful gesture from a more pleasant and congenial era. My view is that people appreciate them, the cards can come from a charity organisation, which I’ve been doing for more years than I can recall.

    I take your piddling five inches of snow (mind you, I’m impressed that both you and Mike shoveled the snow by hand 🙂 ) and raise you a 45’C day. Truly very bonkers down here. Spent the day tidying up my administrative responsibilities before the Christmas period kicks in – most businesses not directly serving the general public’s needs shut down for at least two weeks because it is summer here.



  53. Hi Damo,

    One must stick to the recipe when preparing food for the locals, but I hear you, the stuff gave me sugar headaches, but people at the Waitangi Day bbq were raving about the cake. Which just goes to prove how soft Aussies are compared to their compatriots over the drink… We’re not worthy! I guess for them, and here I’d be curious as to your thoughts, they’re left reaching for the full cream experience. It would be like ordering a pint and receiving only a half pint, well that’s my take anyway. 🙂

    I was hoping you dropped by and enjoyed the Vance reference. Tales of the Dying Earth is just a fun series of stories, and Cudgel is a great character. Magnus Ridolph. Nice one. Summer holidays are the time to delve into the Vance collection. Are you still scoring the reprints?

    Who builds a house that requires an engineered bridge in order to access the dwelling? And to be honest given the wind loads on the crane, I kept waiting for the huge crane to topple over onto the err, not quite what sure to call the construction.

    Mate, if 173 people dying in the Black Saturday bushfires + a Royal Commission at great public expense wasn’t enough to change peoples deeply held beliefs, then I’m completely stuffed as to what it will take in order to make any changes in the landscape. And it is horrendous up in NSW. Your granddad was no doubts on the money, and mostly we shipped off our soils overseas back to the UK. The soils are pretty thin nowadays, but as you are glimpsing in the history – it ain’t necessarily so that what is here today should be how it goes in the future. If ever there is a shortage of fossil fuels and chemical fertilisers, there ain’t no other option on the table than to go backwards.

    Thank you for taking the time to read the book. I’d recommend skipping the bits where he repeats the same point from multiple and numerous sources – that was done to prevent arguments as to cherry picking sources.



  54. Hi DJ and Pam,

    Only those that know, know…

    So I went to the nearby cherry farm this morning to pick up some ripe cherries. Yum! But there were two white Swedish Lapphunds running around, and oh boy did they jump all over me or what! At one point the editor – who was having a nice conversation with the owners – was telling to pay for the cherries, and I was oblivious and in Fluffy land. I miss the old Sir Poopy and other fluffies I’ve known over the years. Except maybe for the one that did the old trick: I am an old dog and just want a pat, before biting me. Not sure I miss that one, but certainly the others were good.



  55. Hi crowandsheep,

    My head is spinning at your words, although that is possibly also due to the heat. Do you reckon situations are getting trickier, or people are getting trickier?

    There is a certain social license to being tricky, and I have long wondered whether it is promoted as a life style choice so that it allows even trickier people to act even trickier than they would otherwise be allowed to be. Dunno.

    You are fast approaching your winter solstice, and the harsh light of supermarkets is perhaps harsher than the harsh light of day? And yeah, people are a bit angsty down here too. Tis’ the season to be jolly angsty!

    It is true, and I was impressed.



  56. Hi Lewis,

    Well done you, and a fine bit of reverse psychology. In the immortal words of the great sage Old Fluffy: ‘That’ll truck ’em!’ Emotions are running high down this way too, and it is tiresome and wears me out. I’m looking forward to enjoying one quiet and a few quieter weeks over the next few weeks. I have no idea why people are so wound up at this time of year, but it is extraordinarily hard to ignore. Ah, the battle is long, and keep up the good cheer. 😉

    I’m coming around to realising that the reason these devices are not that useful is because to my mind they are not intuitive devices. And there are things that go on in these devices that I’m not entirely comfortable with. I’m in the process of shutting down the device, and it may be the record breaking heat that’s giving me a headache, but it may also be the device. Some seriously basic things are really difficult, and I have no idea why that would be. And I found an instruction manual online – however it assumed a level of familiarity that isn’t entirely correct – and the operating system had been updated since the manual was penned. Hmm. Not a fan.

    NPR might have an article on the heatwave, but I’m living it. 113’F today which is as hot as I’ve ever seen it here. And the wind is coming from the NE so the smoke from the fires in the state to the north of here is drifting down with the prevailing winds. It is crazy and up in New South Wales they’re up for a shocker day tomorrow.

    Mate, I’m going to hit the sack and try to get some sleep as the heat has finally worn me down.

    Will speak tomorrow.



  57. Chris:

    Sir Poopy in white – that must have been something. I haven’t been in Fluffyland in awhile, and it’s wearing on me.


  58. Hello again
    My letter is a statement of fact as to the previous usage of the land; this does carry some weight.
    The fellow in question has always been straight with me and given me help over 30 years.
    Your weather is horrendous. Younger daughter has been in Adelaide before going further south to join the elder one for Christmas after which I believe that they are visiting Kangaroo Island where younger daughter has never been. I have been there with elder daughter and I loved the place. Had also been told that there was some spiritual reason why aborigines weren’t there. Christmas in such heat sounds ghastly to me, why can’t you celebrate it in June?


  59. Yo, Chris – You have the heat, and we are awash. 3+ inches of rain, in the last 24 hours. Flood warnings are out, in our county.

    I headed out to a couple of the cheap food stores, early in the morning. I like early mornings as much as you do, but there I was, headed out at 7:30 am. Several of the streets were flooded, but, so far, only 2-3″. Fields are flooded. It was pouring buckets, and, as it is also windy, the rain was driving sidewise. I’m hoping this will be my last trip for tucker, before “the day.” But, as these things go, I forgot something in the first store, but realized it when I was in the second. So, back through the pouring rain, I went. At least I wasn’t out of the parking lot, yet.

    It’s Magic Food Boxes, day. Wonder if they’ll have any extra little holiday goodies? Maybe a 16 lb. turkey? Probably, not.

    Well, I see I have a landslide of “stuff” coming into the library. Someone must have returned from vacation. Right now, I’m plowing through season 7 of “The Father Brown Mysteries.” Always a joy.

    Well, stay as cool as you can, and keep the old family dust mask handy. Lew

  60. @ Lew:

    Neither your peas nor the Meyer Lemon need pollination help. Peas self-pollinate. The Meyer Lemon makes its lemons through apomixis ( My Meyer Lemon flowers in the winter while on the front porch, no insects there, and I recently picked the last of the 10 lemons it bore this year. (These are among the things I’ve learned from reading seed-saving and botany books.)


  61. Hi Chris,

    45C/113F? I fold. You are clearly holding the bigger hand – though I wish it were otherwise and you were merely enduring normal summer heat. I hope the heat wave breaks soon for you and everyone else there! Category 6 on Weather Underground posted about the terrible conditions your part of the world is experiencing.

    We are enjoying somewhat warmer weather, quite tolerable for December, currently 46F/7.8C. It will be warmer yet on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Fine by me as I am old enough to think of snow on Christmas as a pain rather than a joy.

    A happy summer solstice to you!


  62. Chris,

    If I had the choice between Fluffy Heaven with a pack of Samoyeds and/or Finnish Spitzes, or else posting in the internet, Fluffy Heaven would win every time. Glad you had a good time!


  63. Hi Pam,

    It wasn’t just a single white fully either – there were two white fluffies, and they were either Samoyed’s or Japanese Spitz. It is hard to tell the difference between the two varieties, and dare we embarrass the canines by discussing their parentage in public?

    It was much cooler in this corner of the continent today, elsewhere though…



  64. Hi Inge,

    Ah, apologies I had not understood that your letter involved a factual description of the previous land use. Such a letter would tell a fascinating tale if written about the land here. I assume that parts of your nearby land were disturbed by human activities whilst other parts were not given the undisturbed state of your forest?

    It is cooler here today, although the smoke haze is pretty epic. Looking out the window it looks as though rain is settling in, but no it is merely smoke haze.

    The weather over the past few days was indeed horrendous. At midnight the temperature inside and outside the house was 30’C / 86’F which makes for a fitful sleep.

    I too loved Kangaroo Island, and it is a beautiful and wild place. Hope they are enjoying themselves there? Lewis mentioned that it is possible that the island was considered a place for the spirits of the deceased? Most certainly the indigenous folks attributed various places and natural things as repositories for the spirits of the deceased and it is an incentive to conserve the landscape.

    Dunno. Nobody really asked my opinion about celebrating a mid-winter feast in the middle of a heat wave. The heavy food does my head in on hot days. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but does make a lot of people happy?



  65. Hi Claire,

    Yesterday was as hot as I’ve ever experienced it up here in this little hermitage, but you know what as the song says: every hand’s a winner, and every hand’s a loser. So as I remarked to someone the other day, you just play the cards you’ve been dealt and hope for the best. I wouldn’t wish this sort of weather on anyone. Fortunately, the weather turned cooler again today as the Antarctic weather rolled on in (cold but dry). Believe it or not, tonight when I was out with the chickens in the orchard as the sun fell below the horizon, the air was blowing cold at 9’C / 48’F.

    Thanks for mentioning the Weather Underground link and what can I say other than it is a reasonably accurate picture of unfolding events down here. I wish it were not so.

    Hehe! In a truly bonkers state of things – we’re now one degree different from your forecast temperatures. Mind you, other parts of the continent are suffering pretty badly today and I reckon tomorrow’s news will be not good.



  66. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I reckon they were Samoyed’s or Japanese Spitz’s. Although I’m not really sure as the difference between the two is slight. Have you ever encountered show dog people? They may feel that my comment is a touch disparaging.



  67. Hi Lewis,

    I crashed out bad whilst replying to you last evening and despite the heat I could barely keep my eyes open and had to go to bed. At midnight it was still 86’F inside and outside the house. Fortunately, overnight the air temperature dropped due to being on the southern side of the Great Dividing Range which had a cool change. This morning I woke to discover that it was only 57’F which felt very pleasant. Large parts of the continent are still in the grip of the heat wave though. Ceiling fans worked well and kept me sort of cool. The wonderful irony of air conditioners is that they keep you cool in the short term, and are guaranteed to warm you in the long term. Adaption is best anyway, and given the horrid day that it was I chose to do horrid activities that needed doing.

    Did you mean the antiques guy Harry Rinker? If not, the guy has an extraordinary and amusing article titled: The Lackaloot Conundrum. Good stuff, and he nailed the issues surrounding the difficulties of the serious collector. And as to your point about the reproductions, I reckon there is a market for such things, so what do you do? Such people rarely intend to purchase the originals anyway, and possibly never would do so. Dunno.

    Far out. I’d never heard of Patty Hearst and the SLA folk before. A nasty business, and my gut feeling says that we may never get to the bottom of it all. But yeah I hear you, and the drip feed of sordid details would leave a person scratching their heads in true wonder at the crazy goings on. In some respects it reminds me of the ‘child soldier’ dilemma. What is to be done with people who have experienced such harms and activities? Dunno, but I’ve stood in the killing fields in Cambodia and seen what people can do to other people under duress, and claims that the odd situations they find themselves in is the new normal are probably not as far fetched as it may seem.

    Me too, I would have squealed exactly as you described. Snakes are around these parts, but do they really have to be the second deadliest on the planet? It hardly seems fair. Snakes are great lovers of rats and mice, and thus my zeal in ensuring that the rats and mice live elsewhere. And not much attracts rats and mice like chickens and grains.

    A small blackbird (an introduced species) met my wrath this morning because it had worked out how to get inside the strawberry enclosure and had eaten all of them for about a week now. This morning the cheeky scamp was showing other birds just how to do the trick too. It had to go, there is plenty of other produce here for the bird to dine upon.

    I see that Claire answered your question regarding the Meyer Lemon (and thanks to you I know the story behind the origin of the name of that plant). And there are no pollinators here either during the winter months and somehow the trees continue to produce fruit.

    Did you get much more rain today? 3″ is an impressively wet day in anyone’s books. Was there any flooding? Oh! Prof Cliff Mass has some detailed graphs – and I do note that his latest post regarding the poor solar radiation would strike fear into the heart of the true believer in solar power. But then I’ve got this model that suggests that it should be otherwise!!!! Bad Chris. It would be funny if the people suggesting such nonsense were not being serious about their claims.

    Anyway, stay dry and I do hope that you managed to score all of the food stuffs for the big day? Did the food boxes contain any festive feed? I had a nice fruit mince tart today and when they’re good, they’re very good – and these were. Yum!

    The dust mask is a good idea because some of the particles are small enough that once they get into your lungs, they ain’t going nowhere – and will possibly cause health problems down the track. But try wearing a mask for any length of time on a 113’F day and you’ll soon understand why I don’t. There’s no easy way out of that problem.

    Cracked out the new mystery machine today – and it almost wiped me out. Almost, but not quite. More on this Monday morning.



  68. @ Claire – Thanks for the information. Gives me more to chew on, as far as the lemons, go.

    Then why, oh, why aren’t my Alaskan peas producing pods? They’re at their full height (4′) and are quit lush and healthy looking. They’ve been producing blossoms, for around a month. Oh, well. Just scratch it up to another one of those garden mysteries. If nothing else, they’re putting a lot of good nitrogen into the soil. Lew

  69. @ Pam – Bubbling over with holiday cheer, at the wrong end of things, can be particularly effective if you can pull off a slight, manic edge to it. Think Scary Santa. 🙂 .

    As that great 20th century sage and philosopher said, “If you can’t dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with b— s—.” (What the bull leaves behind.) Tip of the hat to W. C. Fields.

  70. @ DJ (and Pam),

    Thanks for understanding, and for mentioning me so I knew it was time to let everyone know what has been going on. I got behind and hate that. I’m still a little behind, but in sight of caught-up status (until the next thing descends, whatever that turns out to be).

    You are so right about that wet, heavy snow … the worst kind there is. The best thing about being in the interior of the country is there are no mountains or bodies of water close enough to make for the epic snow totals other folks have to put up with. I experienced the major snowstorm of 1978 in eastern PA; no desire for a repeat of that.


  71. Yo, Chris – I’m happy that your temps have gone down, and that your brains are back to a low simmer. I hope that’s the last of your really, really hot weather, for the season.

    We got 4+ inches of rain in the last 72 hours. Several roads around our county, were closed, including a major north/south arterial. Not I-5, but the “old” highway. Being the weekend, news is hard to get, except on the local radio stations. Which I don’t listen to. I see that there was a landslide, on the tracks, cutting off the main north/south rail traffic. As I was looking for news, I ran across this ….

    You can skip the video, and just scroll down to the picture. You have your “big fellows,” we have ours :-). I didn’t realize they ranged so far south in Puget Sound. This is what our castaways on Aukland Island, had to contend with.

    Yup. That Harry Rinker. Ah, yes. The tragedy of Lackaloot. He’s quit an interesting fellow. When I was working for the local antique mall, he was here for an antique fest. One afternoon, I got to squire him around. I’m going to have to spend some more time, at his site. I also saw his essay on “10 waus you tell when your collecting area, is dying?” That was enlightening. And, very true.

    I was living in California, when Patty Hearst was in the clutches of the SLA. I’d often wonder, especially at holidays, where she was and what she was doing. The shot out was pretty spectacular, and was carried on live television. She’s had quit a life. Later, she became buddies with the film director, John Waters, and has had cameos in several of his films. She’s the one, beaten to death with a telephone receiver, in his “Serial Mom.” Her crime? Wearing white after Labor Day.

    Happy Solstice. Only 8 1/2 hours of light, here, today. And, just to get all Roman, it’s the 5th day of Saturnalia. The appropriate greeting is, “Io, Saturnalia.”

    Well, the food boxes are always interesting. Can’t say there was a special emphasis on the holidays, other than a good sized bag of dried cranberries. I did score three packs of a good brand of frozen spinach. Things we got in abundance, before, are missing. No cans of garbanzo beans, and very little canned tomatoes. We have been awash, in those. But, plenty of back up, in my pantry. The weirdest thing I got was a jar of grain free dog soup :-). Looked nasty. Eleanor didn’t want to chance it, so, it went on the swap table.

    Off to the library. Lots to pick up. Lew

  72. Hi Chris,

    Multiple days of 100 + temps are really hard on everyone and everything. We’ve had a few times when it’s over 100 and there was much attending to the animals necessary. Do you also have high humidity?

    I was referring to dining in downtown Chicago which is always very expensive as it’s where most of the tourists are. If you get out into some of the regular neighborhoods food is much more reasonable with some interesting ethnic places.

    If only I could send cold weather. In fact it’s quite nice here right now, sunny and in the lower 40’s. Salve and Leo enjoyed a long outing today while Doug was splitting wood.

    For quite a few years we sent out Christmas cards with our different farm animals and dogs on them. Some of the animals had holiday wear and others had their living quarters decorated. This was before digital and phone cameras so we’d just take a roll of pictures and pick the best one from that. One year one of our turkeys injured a leg and as he couldn’t get around much we were going to have to put him down. We decided to set him in a large roasting pan (while he was still alive) and put a festive red bow on him. He was surprisingly cooperative. We do have a warped sense of humor sometimes but it was one of the most favorite of the ones we sent out. Now we send a Christmas letter maybe with a couple pictures though sometimes we don’t get to it and it’s a New Year’s letter.

    I am glad to hear you are getting a bit of a break from accounting work. Your weather is getting much more press around here. You, the editor and the fluffies are in my thoughts.


  73. Chris,

    Many of those spitz-type breeds look amazingly similar. And if the dog is not purebred, but has one set of, say Finnish Spitz genes that dominate, it can look almost but not quite like a Finnish Spitz. So, I just say the dog is part Whatever and looks really cool. I’ve never been around show dog people much, as they seem to take the dog thing much too seriously. But I think that they would find both you and me to be full of heretical comments.

    You asked when did I learn to sing? Well, mom played piano, and as soon as I could read, I begged to learn to play the piano. She also sang, so I just sorta started singing. My younger sister did the same with piano and singing. Dad played flute. The singing talent comes form mom’s side of the family. A few times when my sister and I were visiting the cousins in Albuquerque, we’d all start singing. It was a lot of fun.

    We had 7.5 cm or so of snow on Wednesday. Wet stuff that turned to compact ice on the roadways. Then the temperature started rising, the wind picked up and the rains began. All the snow was gone in the wee hours of Thursday morning. 2 days of 10C weather feels like spring.


  74. @ Lew,

    About your peas: maybe the day length is too short? (although since they are flowering, probably not that – it would keep them from flowering) Or too cool for the pollen to be viable? That seems more likely. At any rate, you’re learning something, and as you said, they are a good nitrogen producing cover crop if nothing else.


  75. Io, Saturnalia Chris,

    Just about finished the Magnus Ridolph book – pretty good detective type stories, but with a Vancian twist. I haven’t ordered any more reprints yet since I have not finished the first 3 I got 🙂 As I move through them I will keep getting more – it will be nice to eventually have everything arranged on a shelf in chronological order of printing!

    True that, re: Black Saturday/127 deaths as a failed call to action. I note the radio today (Triple J via internet) was advertising “Greening Australia”, who want to plant another 500 million trees by 2030. Admirable goal, but is the number of trees the problem, or the distribution?

    I hope you enjoyed the cooler weather the past few days. It is still cool on this side of the ditch, I won’t be acclimated at all for the trip on Tuesday to Brisbane! In an unfortunate turn of events, I have to go the office tomorrow. Due to lack of enough annual leave by many staff members (and the inability of most to budget for a couple of unpaid days), it was decided our closing day would be Monday and not the eminently sensible choice of the Friday just gone. Oh well, it is a half day at least, and catered. I may even take one of those electric scooters down Queen St and look at window displays or something.

    Mrs Damo baked a large quantity of biscuits (cookies?) on Friday. We iced and decorated them before consuming an ungodly amount over the past three days (there are only two left, nope now one). She also sewed up a sail for me to use on the home-built dinghy. We tested it yesterday and the thing actually sailed (to the surprise of onlookers watching from the comfort of the boat club deck). A few modifications are needed for a proper run though, which I finished today, but the winds are too gusty for another test.

    Merry Xmas to you and the editor! And of course to anyone else still reading over the shoulder at this late stage of the week 🙂


  76. Hi Lewis,

    The next week looks pretty cool, with only one day forecast to reach 98’F. The weather is err, interesting and it most certainly forces a person to keep a sharp eye on the water levels in the tanks. So far I’m not doing too badly on that front, but next year I’ll chuck in some more water tanks – nothing game changing, just as always minor increments.

    The hottest and coldest weather occurs after the respective solstices. Someone once explained to me that this is due to thermal inertia, so there is a school of thought which suggests that for both of us in relation to extreme weather, we ain’t seen nothin’ yet! The fires up north are not good at all: NSW bushfire ravages town of Balmoral during devastating day of blazes. In a bizarre political twist down here – and we have spoken about the cult of leadership before – but our Prime Minister perhaps in-advisably decided to leave his base in Sydney (possibly a very smoky place to be) and apparently went on a family holiday to Hawaii and there are unsubstantiated rumours that he was attending a religious conference. Not a move I would have made if faced with the same circumstances and in his position. At least he would have had a good opportunity to see the fires from the air on his trip out of the country. I was put in mind of Nero at a music festival whilst Rome burned.

    How cool were the sea lions – just chillin’ bro! 🙂 And 4+ inches of rain in 3 days is not good. Hope your building is on higher ground? If you get the chance, please send some of that rain down this way, surely you don’t require all of it?

    Did the castaways on Auckland Island manage to eat any of the sea lions? Nabbing one would be a complicated and risky proposition – but they had constructed a forge, so I feel that they were a resourceful bunch which could have churned out a harpoon. Recovering the steel from the shipwrecks whilst sea lions cavorted is not something that I would have enjoyed.

    Actually it was the 10 ways essay that twigged me to your original misspelling of the authors name. It was a truly fine essay, and he’s clearly a bloke who grapples with the more pragmatic side of his hobby. Did you enjoy squiring him about the place? For a brief moment I had this vision of you working as a driver / minder for an author on a book tour. You’d get to enjoy some chat with the bloke, which most others wouldn’t. Book tours and interviews I reckon would be a tiring experience, especially if the author were asked the same inane questions over and over again.

    It is an eerie thought isn’t it? No doubt young Patty was probably living an intoxicating outlaw life and was possibly addicted to the Adrenalin rush that would accompany the acts of outrage on the public. John Waters is a strange and interesting bird from my perspective and no doubt he too has led an interesting life. Kathleen Turner is an outstanding actor and I enjoyed her role in season 3 of the highly naughty and very un-family friendly show of Californication. On reflection I’m not really sure how to categorise that show, possibly it was a gritty rom-com but the jury is still out?

    Io, Saturnalia, Lewis! And well met. 🙂 Certainly the Romans appeared to be having more fun than the average Christmas celebration which seems all a bit meek and mild by comparison. The best Christmas day I can recall was a very hot day where a massive water fight ensued. Unfortunately, some folks didn’t appreciate the spirit of Saturn running amok in their celebrations and the situation has not been repeated – but it sure was fun.

    Did you nab the bag of dried cranberries? I spotted a huge Currawong bird and its progeny thiefing off with the blueberries and a tiny portion of black currants today. I mention this because black currants and dried cranberries taste pretty similar to me. Best to keep backups with tomatoes and given the crazy season this year I’m a bit uncertain about what I’ll be harvesting come March on the tomato front.

    Not suggesting that Eleanor is cleverer than your good self, but even I’m feeling a bit dodge on cans of: “grain free dog soup”. So, the question is: did you open the can and what the heck did it taste like?

    Cheers and I seriously better get writing…


  77. @ Lew
    You may remember that my largest Jerusalem artichoke flowered. Well, it didn’t produce a single artichoke! I still can’t believe it.


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