Compromise is not a dirty word

The scent of Eucalyptus oil is a powerful memory for me. On hot days just outside the front door of the house, the heady aroma of the local forest can be a beautiful thing. But like certain forms of beauty, the aroma can also hold terror.

I haven’t always been a country bumpkin who enjoys days spent in the quietude of the tall Eucalyptus forests. Once upon a time I was an inner city slicker. Back then I talked a ‘big game’ about my sustainable and environmental values, but it was mostly talk. Although in those days the editor and I did walk a lot. We walked to the city to work, walked to the supermarket, walked to restaurants, and most importantly walked to the local cafe for superb coffee and fresh oven baked muffins. Yum!

At the end of the street that we lived on, there was even railway station, the tracks of which ran alongside the local creek. The water in the local creek flowed all year around and on a hot summers day it was a pleasant place to take the dogs for a walk in the shade. In the 1970’s volunteers had turned vast lengths of the local creek from an industrial dump into a lush wildlife corridor, and the editor and I enjoyed the benefits of all of their hard work. The scent of Eucalyptus oil emanating from the native trees alongside the local creek could be smelled there too.

It was an old inner suburb of Melbourne, having been mostly laid out and constructed in the property boom of the 1880’s to 1890’s. The property boom in the area eventually fizzled out in the 1890’s, and an epic recession kicked in, but the small houses with the wide tree lined streets remained. More importantly, other parts of the suburb contained large public gardens / parks and they were planted with many exotic oaks and elms. Today the parks look stunning cool and shady places and they are well cared for. It’s a nice place to be.

The workers cottages and rows of Victorian era terraces in the inner urban area were all small houses on tiny footprints of land. I like small houses, if only because they require less cleaning. But then the Editor, Ollie, Toothy and Scritchy likewise enjoy living in a small house. It is a nice feeling to be able to know when you have enough house.

Of course some people never seem to understand when they have enough. Long term readers will know that I’m a fan of the television series Grand Designs UK. Nowadays, it is the only television show that I’ll watch. And I’ve been watching the show long enough that I was a young bloke when it first aired two decades ago. However time moves on and like the cheeky presenter of the show, I also seem to have misplaced my ring of power that grants perpetual youth.

I know a thing or two about houses, and the editor and I constructed this small house using our own labour, only sub contracting the plumbing, mains electrical and excavation work. So in this seasons Grand Designs UK, it was traumatic for the editor and I to watch the cautionary tales of others. Two couples in particulare were a stand out as they apparently ended up in divorce. All the way through those two episodes, and for a while afterwards, I asked myself the question: Why did they attempt to construct such a huge house given the extreme personal costs? And I couldn’t find any meaningful answer to the question.

I’ve noticed that other people like to talk about sustainability, whilst sharing their concerns about environmental degradation. However, when I look around at the cities built landscape, it is clear to me that the newer areas (and the modifications to the older areas) were never intended to be sustainable and/or environmentally sensitive. The facts speak for themselves, because if either of those goals were foremost, the built landscape would look entirely different, and it could possibly even resemble the suburbs constructed in the 1880’s to 1890’s when people used far less energy and stuff, and produced far less waste.

It is a bit of a problem, but I tend to feel that what will be, will be, Que Sera, Sera. Anyway worrying about such concerns is not a useful activity, because it is simply another form of inactivity. But then you can have extreme weather like what I’ve just experienced this past week, and it is hard not to be concerned.

For those who might not be aware, Australia smashed it’s December heat records two days this week, and may even have pulled a hat trick. Well done us! More records tumble as heatwave rolls on, scientists point finger at climate change. The average temperature when measured across the entire continent hit 41.9C / 107’F on Wednesday and 40.7C / 105’F on Tuesday. And Thursday and Friday were no slouches either.

Friday morning, when I dared poke my nose out the front door, I could smell the heat, which had produced the heady scent of Eucalyptus oil, but also the waft of thick smoke from the epic bushfires which continue to burn in the states to the north and west of this state. It sure makes a person wonder if all those big things that people want are worth the hassle?

The sun sure looked baleful on the bonkers hot day of 45’C / 113’F

Friday was as hot as I’ve seen here, but no doubts the future will be even more challenging. The house is heavily insulated against the heat and cold, but even so, by midnight, the inside temperature in the house reached 30’C / 86’F, which was still cooler than outside. For those that are interested in numbers, here are a couple of photos from the weather station during the day. The upper left hand side of the screen (the blue corner) is the outside temperature in Celsius, whilst the upper right hand side (the yellow corner) is the inside air temperature, again in Celsius.

It sure was a hot day. At one point a can of beer in a cupboard exploded and left a heck of a mess to clean up. I suspect that the heat gave just enough energy to the yeast living inside the can to begin fermenting the sugars in the brew.

In Friday’s crazy hot weather, a can of beer exploded

All summer long, I leave water out for the various critters that also live on the farm, although I’m not sure how much they enjoyed drinking sun heated water on that day, but it was probably better than nothing at all, and certainly it would be better than warm exploded dark ale.

A juvenile King Parrot sits in the guttering on the house surveying the garden
I spotted a locust sitting on a gate

Usually I have no major issues with the birds which also live on the farm. Every now and then, they over do things and harvest too much of a particular fruit, but mostly they’re OK. However, the strawberries are an exception and they are enitrely off limits to the birds. Before constructing the steel cage which houses the tasty sun ripened strawberries and grape vines, the birds took all of the strawberries. And every other critter living here (even the Fluffy canine collective) devoured the remaining few strawberries that the birds missed (no doubts they were probably full up to their eye balls). We just didn’t get any strawberries.

Earlier in the week, a small blackbird (an invasive species) had worked out how to get into the strawberry enclosure. I felt like Dirty Harry when I dealt to the bird, but the strawberries are off limits. And the bird was teaching other birds how to break into the enclosure. We modified the enclosure and added steel rails along the very bottom of the enclosure. It was a very fiddly job, but was eventually completed.

A steel rail was added to the outside of the strawberry enclosure so as to stop bird access
Another steel rail was added to the downhill side of the enclosure

Since the two steel rails have been in place, we have begun to harvest strawberries again.

The strawberry harvest was thwarted for a while

A few months ago we purchased a low centre of gravity mower that is suitable for the steep slope that the farm is on. Originally I was hoping to use the mower to bring large rocks back up the hill, but alas it does not have enough grunt to do the job. On the other hand it is an amazing, and more importantly safe mower and has saved us an extraordinary amount of time.

That still left use with the problem of bringing large rocks back up the hill. For a while we were considering leaving the rocks at the bottom of the paddock, but then I received an offer too good to refuse. A machinery company who I’d dealt with for many years were clearing their stock and offered me a powered wheelbarrow for half price. It was an offer too good to refuse.

The author uses a powered wheelbarrow to bring huge rocks back up the 15 degree slope
These rocks were as big as we’d ever moved before
Rocks are valuable items, such as these additions to the succulent terraces
Rock walls are getting extended now that we can access more distant rocks

For the moment, the dreaded moment of peak rocks may have been defeated. Unfortunately, these wins are only ever short term.

Another cement stair leading up to the very upper garden terrace was completed this week. The next photo shows the wet cement drying in the timber formwork.

Wet cement for a stair step dries in the hot summer sun

The extreme hot weather has caused the soil to rapidly warm on the garden terrace project, and the tomatoes, eggplants, capsicum and globe artichokes have grown amazingly this week.

Eggplant and Globe Artichokes enjoy the hot weather
Tomatoes have even begun to produce flowers

The cucumbers have been very slow growing this season:

Cucumbers have been very slow growing this year

However the zucchini (courgettes) have put on masses of growth in the hot weather:

Zucchini have loved the hot weather this week

The Leeks have produced beautiful flowers:

Leeks are flowering this week

And just because the fluffies were absent from all previous photos:

Ollie is not a fan of the hot weather
Scritchy finds the hot weather invigorating

Onto the flowers (all of the below photos were taken after the heat wave which shows just how hardy they are):

Californian Poppies are a beautiful sight in the garden beds
Feverfew is a hardy medicinal herb
A two year old garden bed shakes off the worst that the hot weather threw at it
Canary Island Foxgloves are stunners
Geranium and Lavender grow in profusion on the farm
The heat has caused the Lambs Ears to produce flowers
Another garden bed with a old Rosemary

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 716.0mm (28.2 inches) which is the same as last weeks total of 716.0mm (28.2 inches).

60 thoughts on “Compromise is not a dirty word”

  1. @ Inge – Well, someone put one over on us. :-). Jerusalem Artichokes don’t produce anything resembling a real artichoke. In fact, they’re not even that closely related. JA’s are closely related to the sunflower, family. A native of North America.

    You eat the tubers. Some French fellow, back in the 1500’s, thought they tasted like artichokes. The name stuck. The Jerusalem part comes from a mispronunciation of the Italian name for them. I think they are a bit like water chestnuts, with a bit of a nutty flavor.

    But be warned. They can cause quit a bit of wind. In my case, it was a regular purgative. But I do understand, that if I cook them in something acid (lemon or tomato), that problem is taken care of. Haven’t had the nerve to try it, yet.

    They can be eaten raw, or cooked. They don’t have to be peeled, but, I think I would. They are a very homely tuber. Lew

  2. Yo, Chris (Response to your missive, of yesterday.) Keep adding those water towers, and you can change the name of your place to “Tank Farm.” 🙂 .

    Yup. The worst weather always comes after the solstices. Your prime ministers little jaunt to Hawaii, made the news here. On one hand, it’s always an easy critique, by whoever opposes the regime. Presidents and Prime Ministers are always supposed to rush off to whatever disaster and pat a few shoulders. Never mind that their visits usually cause so much chaos that the real workers can’t get on with recovery and rescue. But, at least a ruler is expected to occupy whatever palace, and, at least fret.

    We were lucky. Our flood, was a moderate flood. No herds of cattle drowned in barns. Or chickens in their coops. No houses floating down rivers. Mostly just temporary road closures and flooded farm land. We may even get some sun, tomorrow.

    The Auckland castaways steered clear of the old bulls, and just went for the cows and calfs. No harpoons were used. Mostly, they just bashed them between the eyes, with a club. Seal was preferred, and easier to handle. But in a pinch, sea lion was on the menu. Down on the Oregon Coast, we have a roadside attraction, called, The Sea Lion Caves. We visited once, when I was a wee small lad. There’s a huge grotto, under the ocean headland. The waves come crashing through an opening. The place is jammed with sea lions. I can still remember the overwhelming noise … and overwhelming stench. A mixture of fermenting sea lion poop and dead fish.

    Mr. Rinker was an affable fellow, and he wanted to see a bit of the town. Check out the antique shops and other antique malls. He also wanted to see the venue, where he was going to do identifications and appraisals, the next day.

    Well, the dog soup was in a jar, and I realized what it was before I opened it. So, I didn’t. Oh, I knew Eleanor wouldn’t be interested in the stuff. She frets so, over HRH, that she only sticks to the tried and true.

    I picked up an interesting book, at the library. “Secondhand: Travels in the New Global Garage Sale” (Minter, 2019). He also wrote “Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion-Dollar Trash Trade.” The new book had a chapter on the trajactory (sic) of the antique business, over the last 50 years, and the collapse of various types of tat.

    I’m also almost done with “Spear Thrower.” We get a glancing look at where Inge lives. Interesting. Lew

  3. Hi Margaret,

    Usually when temperatures are as high as last weeks were, the humidity is low. However, that is not always guaranteed and much depends upon where the hot air originated. This time, the hot air originated from the centre of the continent, and it sure is hot up there. Mostly the animals, birds and insects on the farm deal pretty well with the heat, and all I have to do is ensure that they have access to fresh water. The chicken enclosure is in a shady location and so inside the airy enclosure is actually one of the coolest places to be here on a hot summers day. The soil is drying now.

    Where you ever timid about exotic food when you were younger? Nowadays, I’m mostly adventurous, but my mum wasn’t blessed with a desire to produce interesting food, although I was never in any real danger of starving. But my curiosity in relation to food was not well developed when I was younger. Lamb chops and three boiled veg is probably not considered high cuisine! Oh well.

    Your weather sounds pretty nice (and not dissimilar from the sort of winter weather I enjoy), and Doug’s work reminds me that the firewood has to be brought in over the next few weeks. It’s one of the biggest jobs of the year here given that we have firewood as the only heating option. Cordial tail wags to Leo and Salve – from the Fluffy canine collective. 🙂

    The turkey photo would have been rather amusing, and I can well understand how it became a favourite. Some animals are just made for the camera – and they love it! Toothy and Ollie are always vying with each other to see who gets in the photographs. Toothy may be small, but he has sneak factor seven at his command, whilst Ollie tends to rely on his sheer bulk. Scritchy does not care for the camera and nowadays keeps herself aloof from the goings on of the other fluffies.

    Thanks – and I’m taking this week for me, as it is the only undisturbed week that I have all year. It may be selfish, but as the years go on I have less benefits, and sick and holiday leave are one such benefit that I have not known for over a decade.

    And doubly thanks! The weather over the past week was truly epic bonkers style. Not sure what that means, but the weather really was not good. Out of curiosity, how is it being reported over in your part of the world?



  4. Hi DJ,

    Was Raheki the Samoyed a pure breed? I’ve never actually purchased a dog from a breeder, and just sort of enjoy the company of whatever canines come my way. Not sure how you would view such a perspective (and I am curious as to whether you’ll get a new canine upon retirement – and my gut feeling says that you should), but the thing is, with a random approach sometimes you can fail abysmally, but other times you can encounter canine greatness. And you never know what journey the canines will take you upon. As exhibit A, I raise the memory of the former boss dog: Old Fluffy. She was a royal pain in the rear when younger, and I’ve never encountered such a wilful independently minded canine until that point. Then one day the old boss dog died, and her personality did an abrupt U-turn in a single day and she became the most loyal and constant companion dog that I have yet to encounter. The loss of her boss dog was so great that her coat shed its colour, which she later regained. I was gutted the day that Old Fluffy had to be put down. Anyway, the switch between Jekyll and Hide was so abrupt that possibly it could provide enough fodder for a canine psychiatric symposium.

    And yup, with canines, near enough is good enough for me – and no the purists probably wouldn’t like to hear such honest critique. 🙂

    Ah, thank you for elucidating upon that matter. I see that you grew up being able to discern notes and scales, and I’m guessing that would have tuned your ears? And training ones voice from a young age to notes and scales is not a bad idea. Some pop songs employ out of tune notes now, but then when I hear such things I’m reminded that one must first know the rules in order to break them successfully. Music was a harsh mistress for me that I was unable to provide the appropriate attention to.

    Absolutely, I mentioned to Margaret that your winter weather does sound not too dissimilar to the sort of winter weather that I enjoy – but you have the odd extreme cold and snowy snap day. It is hardly a hardship such winter weather, although the flipside maybe the sort of summer weather that I enjoy – which is a bit of a nightmare.



  5. Hi Damo,

    Io, Saturnalia Damo, and here is a salute to the old ways that took into account the more human need for enjoyment! My, but we work hard these days…

    Damo, lead me not into temptation for I am weak of will, and the Jack Vance Integral Edition was something that I only became aware of once it was out of print. On the other hand, how the heck do you purchase these reprints from the Vance Integral Edition? Perhaps I am not so strong after all… 🙂

    You must reprise your death tally somewhat upwards, as the end count was 173 people, unfortunately. It was a brutal time, and I recall that the trees rained dead and dried leaves from high in the canopy as if they were falling snow. Possibly it is a subject that should be revisited in a blog? Dunno.

    Well that is the nub of the problem. The birds and animals really need the much older trees because such huge trees have lost many a limb during their days and that leaves hollows in the trunk where the birds and animals can live. When I look at Wombat state forest to the west of here, the trees are largely uniform after long harvesting, and in such abundance that a solid under story or top soil has not had the time to develop. It is a problem for sure, and those forests are reasonably quiet places. For your info, the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires ripped through here, but weren’t hot enough to kill the older trees, and so some of those larger trees even pre-date European settlement. The only reason the loggers never harvested them was because they had hollow trunks and weren’t worth the effort, but that activity ceased at least half a century ago…

    Ah, hot and humid it shall be for you, with possibly a splash of rain. Doing my best Yoda impersonation – it somehow seemed appropriate. Budgeting is not a strong suit, it is not.

    Well done Mrs Damo on both counts. And good biscuits are never to be left untouched and forlorn. A sad state of affairs to be sure. What sort of material was the sail sewn from?

    And a merry Christmas to both you and Mrs Damo too! Hope the trip is pleasant and enjoyable.



  6. Hi Inge,

    The Jerusalem artichokes rarely spread far here either – despite their fearsome reputation. In fact in my experience, potatoes are far more weedy. And I have no idea why that should be the case? Dunno.



  7. @ Lew
    Oh I do know what Jerusalem artichokes are, I have been growing and eating the tubers for years. I don’t peel them and one does get horrendous wind. This particular plant didn’t produce a single tuber which has never happened before.


  8. Hello Chris
    The old Melbourne sounds idyllic. I remember admiring the Victorian metal work (whatever one calls it) around the old cottages in Sydney. They were all removed for the war effort ww2 in this country and then never used. I thought Brisbane was a hideous city when I visited it; everything old seemed to have been pulled down.
    The notion that bigger is better is quite nuts and one of my new neighbours is still battling to finish his huge house while his resultant divorce is ongoing. The thing that I find distressing here are the gorgeous old manor houses which are stripped out and then decorated and furnished in a hideous modern style. The bathrooms being particularly horrific.


  9. Hi Lewis,

    Haha! Very amusing, but water is an issue that is always never far from my mind. It is not lost on me that the original settlement in the nearby hamlet was abandoned due to water shortages way back in the day – and history is a good teacher. The soil is very well drained, and whilst the tall trees may be able to access the underground water, I just haven’t noticed any wells, or farm dams (ponds) around here. Although some neighbouring properties have access to underground water via way of a water bore which requires and extraordinarily energy hungry water pump to lift the water from the deeps. An argument could be made that such activities are theft of water from the surrounding area?

    Speaking of rulers and palaces, in this particular case Kirribilli House seems hardly like a hardship to me, although it would have been very smoky. It was bonkers smoky here today and from down below in the valley, the mountain range was invisible. Anyway, enough of that and I hope you enjoy the photos in the link. There is the chaos factor, and I hear you about that, but then there is always the hope that the rulers (or whatever you want to call them) can bring some resources to bear upon the problem. Other times events overwhelm possibilities and I am reminded of your Hurricane Sandy in 2012 where the authorities don’t look so good. Down here, we had a city almost entirely flattened by a cyclone on Christmas Day a few decades ago: Cyclone Tracy. Life can be a precarious day to day thing.

    The photos from the floods over in the eastern part of your country showing the flood inundated pig farms from a while back were pretty horrific. And you never think about that side of things. A few years back I had the opportunity to speak with a person who’s house mostly survived the horrendous 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. The lady kept chickens and due to the construction of the chicken shed being steel, the chickens mostly survived, whilst half the house burnt down. Anyway, upon discovering the surviving chickens, a neighbour who had stayed to protect their own house, provided the chickens with some water. And the story went that even though it was late in the night, the grateful chickens jumped off their perches and proceeded to drink the water. It is always the little things that get missed during such emergencies.

    Fair enough, when one is hungry niceties can be pushed to the side as common sense and survival comes to the fore (if a person can manage to negotiate such adaptions). The fat in both seals and sea lions would have been quite good additions to the diets of the castaways as there would have been stuff all else to eat on Auckland Island. A few months ago you mentioned rabbit starvation and it was there that I learned that animal fats are more important for the normal functioning of the human body than leaner cuts of meats such as rabbit.

    Very wise of Mr Rinker to visit the auction site in advance of the auction day. The venue would have been telling as to the following day’s adventures for the sensitive person. Did you get any shop-talk tips on the day, or did you both enjoy speaking in generalities (i.e. small talk)?

    I dunno about our canine companions and their predilections. For one thing, whenever I give the fluffies bones to chew upon (great for their teeth) which is about once per week, sometimes they bury the bones only to dig them up a few days later – and then they enjoy them. Do they know something about fermentation or preserving techniques that I am unaware of? It makes the mind boggle, but most certainly the canines have stronger guts than you or I. And a bit of diversity for HRH’s diet might not be a bad thing – although much depends upon what exactly that entails. The devil as they say is in the detail. Incidentally, I know plenty of people that tend to deliberately dissemble when it comes to requests. Then detail is added afterwards. With such folks I dig deeper in the first place, but it can be surprising at the sort of tricks upon the social contract that are attempted.

    A mate of mine works in the trash business, and um yeah, it is indeed a mysterious business full of intrigue. Do you know, two years down the track, we still haven’t grappled with the recycling waste matter. Gawd help us if we ever encounter a more serious and immediate problem of which there are plenty on the horizon. The book sounds fascinating and thanks for mentioning it.

    I’m reading a collection (anthology) of short stories (in addition to the Spear Thrower!) and I am in awe of the story telling skills of the authors. I can’t but help rip a little technique here or there! 🙂

    Had a more relaxed day today, and managed to listen to Mr Kunstler’s latest podcast with Steve Keen (alas the dreaded technology will save us was aired, although with a contradictory end). In the hot afternoon sun I also constructed another concrete stair step and did a huge rock scavenge for fill for the next and final step which I hope to construct tomorrow. I know I did a lot of stuff today, but it just doesn’t quite feel that way. Oh well.



  10. Hi Inge,

    As an adult, I chose to either live right in the inner suburbs, or right out beyond the edge. For some reason the older inner Victorian era suburbs just seemed somehow right to my eye. The ironwork was called ‘lace-work’ down here and it is quite commonly found even today. In poorer areas I believe that it was made from timber and that was called ‘fret-work’ although I am unsure why that is the case.

    The houses were by and large plain, but well constructed with surprisingly intricate details – such as the polychrome brickwork, which gave them a touch of class and difference. And the houses often proclaimed their name high above the veranda on a brick facade, which also contained cement urns, cement shell clams, and maybe cement pineapples and ferns.

    Melbourne has many more Victorian era buildings and areas than Sydney, but that may be personal bias. And I have been to Brisbane once and it was enough for me.

    I’m unsure that many of today’s constructions will look as good in a centuries time!

    Mind you, some of the modifications to Victorian era housing dating from the 60’s and 70’s when the population surged outwards fuelled by cheap cars and fuel and the inner urban areas were very poor, were a bit shocking: such as fake ceilings (apparently some cultures do not value 10ft ceilings – not sure why); and also heavy and unsympathetic modifications to the facades.

    It is a bit of a shame that the old WWII iron wasn’t returned to the rightful owners, but what do you do? The houses would have looked far plainer without their decorative components.

    Ouch and double ouch. Yeah, not a good situation to navigate for your neighbour. And if finances are split, how is the project to ever be completed? And more importantly (and I’m not asking for an answer as this is more of a rhetorical question): Was it a good idea in the first place? Over the past week I was speaking to someone I know about the concept of goal congruence. It is a more important concept than people generally admit.

    And I too enjoy the older manor houses and earlier architecture. I recall that late last century it was possible to purchase old Georgian era mansions down in Tasmania for not much money – and at the time we did consider the move.



  11. Hello again
    I am usually out shopping on Mondays but not today, I won’t be going out again hopefully until after 12th night. Son brings in milk if I need it.
    Yes that neighbour’s planned house is an utter disaster and he should not have been able to get planning permission for it; unfortunately for him he knew the right people. Interesting that that latter fact was not great for him in the long run.
    My mother’s house had lost the ironwork which had once graced the low wall next to the pavement.


    @ Lew
    I was taken to those sea lion caves when my sister lived in Oregon. I found the sight absolutely wonderful. My brother-in-law drove us there but refused to come in. He never wanted to encounter the stench again.


  12. Yo, Chris – Just a quibble. “The scent of Eucalyptus aroma, can also hold terror.” Oh? How? I kept waiting for the punch line. Maybe because it signals fire season? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂

    Exploding beer cans? That is some heat. Or, maybe, the gods are telling you to buy a better brand of beer? :-).

    King parrots and locusts. Steel rails to keep the birds out. Everything is out to eat your stuff!

    The powered wheel barrow is the cat’s pajamas. Ought to come in handy, when you get around to building the watch tower. Hmmm. Or, you can water proof the inside, and secrete a water cistern.

    It’s always a kick in the pants when you get a warm spell (but not as warm as you’ve had) and everything does a growth spurt. I didn’t grow any cucumbers, but some of the ladies, did. Different varieties in different locations. All were pretty much a wash out. Don’t know why.

    The feverfew looks a lot like camomile. Which, by the way is still flowering, here. I even see some new volunteers coming up. My parsley is still banging along. It may become my “go-to” winter green. Most nights, a good handful gets chopped up, and tossed in whatever I’m cooking.

    The geranium and lavender, make a nice color contrast. Cont.

  13. Cont. Your two prime ministers manses, are really something. I had to laugh that The Lodge is referred to as “Australian Georgian Revival Style.” Just tickled my funny bone. It sounds so grand, and over the top.

    In what you were talking about to Inge, you mentioned the wooden decoration on some of the old houses, in Melbourne. Carpenter Gothic.

    I’ve always liked that trim work, on some of the old houses. Must have been a chore, to keep up and paint. I’d guess, some of the plainer buildings in the above photos, have lost their trim, over the years. All that trim work was called “mill work”. Or, sometimes, just gingerbread.

    Here, and I’m sure there, disaster preparedness always stresses having a plan for your animals. When I lived in the boonies, I always kept a carrier handy, for Nell, and a good strong leash, for Beau. Just in case we had to move fast. That’s also when I started keeping a go-bag, with all the hard to replace paperwork. Still have it, and keep it maintained.

    The Auckland castaways were well aware of the danger of scurvy. They all started to show symptoms, and there didn’t seem to be anything on the island, for it. But then they discovered a plant, the root of which, did the trick. Can’t remember what the plant was, but they had to dig the root out of rock fractures. It became part of their regular routine.

    Oh, the Rinker bit wasn’t an auction. It was kind of an Antiques Roadshow, kind of thing. People could drag in their tat, and he’d value it. And, identify it. It was a long time ago, but I think it was 3 items for $1. Charity fund raiser? LOL. Now that’s where he really impressed me. Sat from 10 am til 5 and never broke for lunch. Or, the bathroom. The guy must have a cast iron bladder.

    I can’t really remember what we talked about, as I took him on the tour of the town. Just a couple of things, of no great import. He also did a seminar, one afternoon, for antique dealers, or potential antique dealers. I was a bit appalled. Only about 12 people showed up, and I was the only one from our county. The rest were from the big cities, north and south. But, I noticed, long ago, that antique dealers, as a group, are pretty arrogant. There’s little scholarship, and a lot of them think they know it all. Me, I’ve always known I know a little bit, about a lot of things, and there’s always something new to learn. I probably still have the notes, from the seminar, kicking around somewhere. Of course, that was before the rise of the computer, and we didn’t know what was coming at us.

    HRH’s diet is rather diverse. Sure, she has her standard grain free kibble, but she also gets a lot of table scraps. But only of the veg kind. It’s really amazing how many vegetables she likes. Even, radishes.

    I got a bit more into the book about recycling. His first book was about material recycling. This book, is about the global trade in re-use. “Stuff”, sloshes around the globe. Wealthy countries cast off a lot of useful things. From washing machines to boom boxes. They’re bought in developing countries. But, the market is always changing, as developing countries become more middle class, then they want new items.

    There were a couple of chapters about the clean out, business. Both here, and in Japan. Stuff is sorted into junk, vintage, things that might sell in that country, and stuff that might get exported (by the container full) to other places. Lew

  14. Chris,

    Ouch! Exploding canned ale indoors? Mate, that, as you said, was probably the indoor heat causing further fermentation. That doesn’t happen often.

    I keep a bowl (it used to belong to Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz) of water out for the birds once it gets warm and dry. Regardless of the temperature and time of day, birds (and bees and wasps) drink and drink and drink and bathe in it. It’s open to the air, so it evaporates and stays somewhat cooler than the air temperature.

    Lew mentioned you might need to change the name of the farm to “Tank Farm”. Wouldn’t that mean that the Editor would be “Tank Girl”?!?

    Nice wheelbarrow! I noted all of the safety gear surrounding your face and head. I hope that’s due to forethought rather than a lesson from the school of hard knocks?

    I’m glad the flowers survived that round of heat. They’re looking good. I note that when you posted, it was 11C there and 8C here.

    No Rakhi the Samoyed was a mix. Her mother was purebred. Some of her siblings looked like Rakhi and the Samoyed was predominant. Others were smaller and looked like maybe a Springer Spaniel or similar breed. A friend had one of the spaniel-type pups. The owner was giving them away, so, knowing my father’s preference for medium to large dogs with fur, I got Rakhi and gave it to him one spring. The dog decided that I, not dad, was her human, a fact which rankled dad for many years.

    Interesting story about Old Fluffy. Cheyenne was destitute for weeks after Thor the Irish Wolfhound (mix) died. Once she adapted, a different personality came out. Thor had bullied her and was very arbitrary in his dealings with her. Try as I ight, I couldn’t overcome his innate tendencies. Cheyenne really blossomed in the absence of his abuses.

    Yes, quite, my ears got tuned to music early. Barry Manilow became popular when I was in my teens. I despised him. Not because of his songs, per say, but because he was often just a tad off pitch, which grated on my ears the way fingers scratching on a chalkboard irritate most people. I still can’t listen to his music.

    This winter hasn’t been too dissimilar to what you typically get. Colder at times, yes, but we’ve had maybe 15cm of snow officially, a bit less here. November came in dry and foggy and warm, much as did November of 1976. That winter saw a total of 40cm of snow, rather than the average 110cm. This feels similar, but that can change rather quickly.


  15. Hi Chris,

    Well done with your house keeping so cool compared against ambient temp during the day. I presume it equalised and reached 30 at midnight as you had the windows open to catch whatever poor excuse for a night breeze was blowing about?

    Those Grand designs episoded raised a lot of questions, namely why? I guess everyone wants to leave a legacy, and despite the 20 years of well documented evidence to the contrary, people still think “it won’t happen to me”!

    The sail was done on the cheap with blue polytarp. Not UV resistant, but it won’t be stored outdoors so that doesn’t matter. Some cheeky scamps just make them with duct tape, but we (Mrs Damo) did proper double hemlines on the 20 year old brother sewing machine.

    I think I ordered my vance novels from evil empire Amazon, but book depository (also owned by amazon) might be cheaper even though it is UK based.


  16. Hi Inge,

    A lovely state of affairs to hide in the forest enjoying existence. And like you I have very little in the way of journeys planned over the next few weeks, although this is the only week free of any paid work for the year. I sometimes joke that I have done something very bad in a past life, and am making up for it in this one, except sometimes I’m not joking. 🙂

    Constructed another and final stair step this morning on the stair case leading up to the various garden terraces. There are black currants, gooseberries and jostaberries to pick but it is now too hot in the sun to face picking them. The large rocks which I used the new yellow machine to bring up the hill have been installed in the succulent garden and I managed to sandwich the point of my index finger between a rock and the timber handle of the mattock doing that job. Ouch. These things happen. Soon the firewood will have to be hauled in – and that is a huge job, but it is standing in the way of another shed project.

    All up a busy day, with guests this evening for dinner. By chance earlier today I read a good quote which was attributed to Seneca the Younger: “It is not that we have so little time but that we lose so much. … The life we receive is not short but we make it so; we are not ill provided but use what we have wastefully.” All very stoic.



  17. Hi Chris, and everyone!

    I’m currently running around like the proverbial headless chook, but I wanted to escape momentarily from the smoke and heat to say ” Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!” May the solstice season treat you well.


  18. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm. How to answer your question…

    Last century the editor and I travelled to a number of Asian countries. Most people I know travel to the US, Canada, Europe, Japan, etc. Not us, we went hard core and took a different direction, which was quite rewarding in its own way. For a start I got to see how many folks on this planet live and the conditions they live in, in entirely different cultures. During travel, when you step off the plane your senses are assaulted by the local environment. After a few days, you can’t really notice the difference as you acclimatise, but it can be quite confronting when first encountered.

    In some Asian countries I was struck not by the heat, but by the odour of the vegetation. In really humid countries the very air is heavy with the scent of decaying vegetation with undertones of the prolific life that allows such rapid break down and recycling of organic matter.

    Now down here, the forest is very different. Most of the time you can’t smell the vegetation, but on wet and warm days the air has a pleasant backdrop of fresh Eucalyptus oil. When the tall trees are in flower, the air smells of honey, and it is an elusive perfume which you can only catch if the breeze is travelling in the right direction.

    But when it’s hot, the vegetation smells of Eucalyptus oil, but the trees begin dropping their leaves in response to heat and dry stress. So the leaves begin falling from the canopy of the trees, and they’re dried, and they land on vegetation that is also dried and hot, so there is an under-current of baked vegetation and dust smell as well.

    Hope that answers your question?

    Looks like there’ll be another few hot days, and then some forecast rain. The weather forecast maps sort of indicate that the monsoon may have arrived up north of the continent. Better late than not at all I say!

    I dare not mention that the beer was a dark ale, but a vanilla milk stout. It’s a thing, but the production is small and yeah, the stuff went all over the cupboard. I’d actually forgotten that the can was even in there.

    The wildlife turn up here for a good feed, and they’re not disappointed. I reckon a fox ate the blackbird carcass for only a few feathers remained. This morning, I attached the remaining chicken wire on the strawberry cage to the lower steel rails. That’ll stuff ’em. The staircase leading up to the various garden terraces was also completed.

    Hey, I noticed when the early Britons in the Camulod story built their early fortress, they had a lot of helpers. The little yellow power wheelbarrow makes me feel as if I am in control of six and a half horses. Hope the half horse isn’t in need of its back legs… (sorry for the groaner). I couldn’t move the large rocks any other way, and really large machines will do a lot of damage to the soils.

    I dunno either about cucumbers. Some seasons they do really well, and other seasons, not so much. And one year I had an amazing plant that just produced fruit with very little care. The seeds from the plant did not germinate. There are plans to get serious about seed raising next spring.

    Go the chamomile. It is a nice plant, and I quite enjoy the tea made from the plant. And parsley is as tough as. It survived snowfall here, and is still growing strongly. We’ve found if you let them go to seed, they pop up in the same place each year – and they seem to be getting hardier by the year.

    As a bit of a puzzle, I have both a question and an answer for you: How does one make enemies of friends? Answer: By attempting to urinate on their foot. True story, I was sitting outside this afternoon enjoying the fine weather and a coffee and Anzac biscuit and then Toothy cocked his leg on my foot. Outrageous behaviour.

    Actually I really liked all of the Carpenter Gothic houses and the Oak Hill Cottage and the Seth house were pretty close to some of the styles down here. The weather is very unkind to timber fret work unless it is meticulously maintained. Not always easy and I’ve noted that the iron lace work is far hardier to lack of maintenance. The stuff is now sold in aluminium, whereas the fretwork appears to be made from pine – which is hardly a long lasting timber outdoors.

    Very wise about disasters and animals – and I must add that during this time of year I maintain a small self storage locker in the inner big smoke plus other off site digital backups. I noted that a lot of people were caught out having no basics at all including ID after the Black Saturday bushfires. Life would be hard enough at such times without minor nuisances.

    Go Eleanor. The diet for HRH sounds exactly spot on to me.

    It is a dirty business the entire recycling behemoth, and there are dark players involved in that game. Down here we are discovering piles of hazardous materials in all sorts of unusual and out of the way places in the state. Some interesting characters appear to be involved and I read today that the surface has barely been scratched. Does the author travel to such dark places?



  19. Hi DJ,

    The can was amazing. The force of the compressed carbon dioxide was something else, wasn’t it? The funny thing was that I didn’t hear it and thought that one of the dogs had done something very unpleasant in the kitchen.

    It is a nice thing for you to do, and during summers the birds and insects can get pretty hot and in need of a drink – although not an exploding can of dark ale.

    Tank Girl!!! Funny stuff. 🙂

    Yeah, it is more forethought, although I’m having some troubles with the machine locating which gear is which, and when loaded it likes starting up hill in second rather than first. It is a finnicky machine and the gear popped from first to neutral and began rolling backwards before I released the dead mans switch and brought the machine to a halt. It was a heart starter that one.

    The similarity with the two temperatures was a bit eerie. It has been all over the shop this summer, and another heat wave will make a special guest appearance in a few days. But hopefully some rain arrives after that time.

    Rahki may have just been displaying good judgement in picking her human? Dogs can be funny like that, and you may note the awful Toothy story that I recounted to Lewis today. I was deeply unhappy that Toothy feels that he is more alpha than I.

    Old Fluffy was initially a bad egg, and the cause of a lot of trouble, and then decided one day to do better and become the boss dog. It was all very weird.

    Gotta bounce, guests just turned up

    Merry Christmas


  20. Chris,

    Dogs often do unmentionable things in the kitchen! Cheyenne was picky and her unmentionable (only 1 occurrence) was on a hardwood floor, so no real damage. Thor wasn’t so picky and ruined a small carpet after escaping the yard, knocking down a neighbor’s garbage can, and eating an entire chicken (cooked) carcass that had been festering in 30C heat for a few days. Nuff said.

    Several years ago placing out water for the birds seemed like a good idea. The birds are all happy, and most varieties are very friendly to both the Princess and me, the added friendliness originating when I started setting out the water. IIRC, that is about the time the uneasy truce with the wasps improved, also. Unexpected, but welcome side effect.

    Groaner alert. I see that you mentioned that one of the large rocks trapped your finger against a mattock? Dude, you just reinvented getting stuck between a rock and a hard place. Hope the finger is okay.

    Forethought is good! Thinking about pitfalls and adapting beforehand, or learning from errors of others always defeats learning the hard way. Glad you have a dead man’s switch. I have one on my petrol powered snow blowing machine. Oh, by the way, I know where your half horse is: I have it, as the snow blowing machine is 6.5 horse power. I’m glad we are able to share the horse.

    A coworker has an electric snow blowing machine. Apparently, it has no dead man’s switch and the rotor is either on or off via a manual locking switch. Last February she was using the machine, bundled against the cold with a loooooong scarf wrapped around her neck. You guessed it, the scarf was too long and got sucked into the rotors, throwing her off her feet and darn near strangling her to death with the scarf. She was somehow able to get the machine unplugged from the outlet, avoiding the unmentionable but sustaining a torn ligament in the rear of the knee. Dead man’s switches are important!

    Hope the rain works out for you. These all over the shop seasons are hard: it’s the rapid and extreme temperature differences that are hard to cope with as I age.

    Hee hee, I like to think that Rakhi chose me over dad because of her display of good judgment! Added to that is who did most of her training: I did. She likely bonded to the trainer, deciding that whoever trained her was the alpha male.

    The first spring we owned Thor, maybe about early May, the neighbors had all of their grandchildren visiting and were outdoors. In full view of them, 45kg Thor knocked me over when I was weeding in the lawn and proceeded to “gum” my neck. The children screamed in terror. After the first bit of scare wore off me, I realized he was playing inappropriately and trying to show who was boss. Some strict training rapidly ensued, to which Thor responded well; never again did he mistake who was the alpha, as he understood that the 2 humans resident here outranked him. We had a male friend rent a room from us a few years later; Thor considered him to be lower on the pecking order. Watching friend and Thor sort that out was entertaining! I’m still mostly sure that Thor remained in 3rd place in the pecking order behind me and the Princess.

    So, How to Turn a Friend into an Enemy in One Easy Lesson: Pee on Friend’s Shoe While Foot is in the Shoe. Hopefully you’re getting Toothy squared away on who’s in charge. Hint to Toothy: he who controls the food is in charge.

    Merry Christmas, or, as a parakeet my sister had many years ago would say, “Merry Chris, Merry Chris!”


  21. Hi, Chris!

    Merry Christmas, and happy holidays to you and the editor and Scritchy, Toothy, and Ollie (do I have the hierarchy right?) and to everyone here!


  22. Yo, Chris – The weather here, has reverted back to the usual winter gray. We may even get a bit of sun, over the next week. But right now, even though it’s well above freezing, a bit of wind makes it feel bitterly cold, outside.

    I caught a bit of an interview, on the radio, of a guy from Balmoral, who rode out the fire in his pottery kiln. Quit a story. it was his plan B. He’s stocked it with water, a fire blanket, and an extinguisher. When his escape was cut off, he crawled in the kiln, and rode it out. Reminds me of the guy in Oregon (?) a few years ago, who rode out a wildfire, in his concrete dome house.

    I think you’re power wheelbarrow, is great! It will sure save a bit of the wear and tear, on the Editor and your backs.

    The author doesn’t talk about hazardous materials (aka toxic waste). Probably covered that in his first book. This book is more about things, rather than their component parts. Toxic waste is a problem, here, but not so much as in the past. The fines and prison time are pretty mind boggling. Or, maybe the dumpers are just getting more careful. At least, the laws probably sorted out a lot of amateurs.

    Well, tomorrow is the big day. Big whoop. I’ll do my usual Wednesday round. Head down to the Club and gas with Scott. Nothing special planned on the menu, but you never know what might grab me. Lew

  23. Hi Pam,

    Merry Christmas to you and yours too! I didn’t check the hierarchy too closely, and I promised to them not to discuss favourites if only because gangle freckle chunks might get jealous. 🙂 But Ollie is the nicest of the fluffies. Oops, didn’t mean to write that.



  24. Hi Hazel,

    Merry Christmas to you too. Looking into my crystal ball (the Bureau of Meteorology rainfall forecast maps to be more precise) I see rain forecast towards the end of the next 8 days for you. Couldn’t ask for better than that present than that. 🙂



  25. Hi Damo,

    Gotta bounce, it being today and all. Merry Christmas to you and Mrs Damo, and I hope that you are having a pleasant day up there with family. How’s that for a fine joke – we are enjoying the same temperatures today, but without the rain you may be experiencing. I read the storm was quite err, intense. Will speak more tomorrow!



  26. Hi DJ,

    “Merry Chris”-mas to you and your lady! 😉 Funny stuff, and the things they train birds to say. Some utoob videos of naughty birds speaking could make a sensitive person blush. Hehe! Hope you are both having a lovely day. Gotta bounce and all that, but we shall speak more tomorrow.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Hope the plants are coping with the cold conditions? Dunno about you, but sometimes I’ve noticed that the cold winds do more damage than freezing cold air, but I might be kidding myself too.

    It is a hot Christmas Day today, but not as hot as some of them have been. 81’F and I intend to graze my way through the food today. No point lumbering oneself with the dreaded ‘food coma’ or the slightly more scary ‘food baby’. And ‘nana naps’ as a response to such indulgence is hardly a sociable thing to do – but it sort of sounds nice now that I consider the matter a bit further…

    Had friends around last night for dinner. I’m a bit sad, they’re heading over to the land of the long white cloud (AKA New Zealand), and I’ve lost friends to that country over the past few years. Oh well, stoicism and keep my chin up ol’ chap. On a moments reflection, I can see that the environment over there is perhaps a more pleasant place to be than in sunny and dry old worn out Australia. Oh well.

    Interestingly too, I was wrong. I mentioned that I hadn’t read too many upheavals in the French section of the Camulod books, but yeah, things are dare I say it… Progressing… Clothar in ‘The Spear Thrower (very amusing)”, is encountering vast hordes of people moving through what was otherwise a stable land. And always the explanation is that they are looking for new land, of course that land has to be wrested away from others. And I’m quite enjoying the series of scrapes that he is getting into and out of. A notable body count is following him, so it may be that he is bad news, but he could just be in bad times…

    The guy was a pretty smart bloke. Back in the day, underground shelters used to be a thing, and hamlets and timber mills were required to have these, but you know, they’re expensive and a lot of hassle. I read about one still in use the other week. Now where was it… … Fire evacuation drill in Victoria prepares entire towns for summer bushfire season. The guy in green towards the end of the article is I believe a state government employee, but that is the entrance to a fire shelter.

    Thanks! And the power wheelbarrow isn’t that useful on contour where a manual wheelbarrow is more manoeuvrable, but mate, bringing stuff up hill is not quite effortless, but the thing can do far more than I could even imagine. It is a machine to be used with respect and a touch of fear.

    Hey, are any activities going on at your place today? Hopefully, (is it?) Steve maintains his best manners when at table with the Ladies.

    Speaking of toxic waste and Toxie, the toxic avenger, you may have missed news of a shopping mall event that appears to have gone astray. Hmm, George Romero (from beyond the grave) may have something to say about this one: Westfield Parramatta Christmas event stampede injures several. Who’d have thought that it was a good idea.

    I hear you! Hope you had a good gas with your mate. 🙂



  28. Yo, Chris – Merry Christmas! And, in honor of the day, here’s today’s ear worm. “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.”

    Well, there was a surprise. Written by the celebrated poet, Longfellow, during the dark days of our Civil War. Hmmm. So many versions to pick from. This one is ok, but the others I looked at were even worse. I don’t know. I always sing it with a little more gusto, and speed. More like a hearty drinking song. 🙂

    “Food Baby” and “Nana Nap.” Hadn’t heard those before. I particularly like Nana Nap.

    Upheaval’s in Clothar’s world. You ain’t seen nothin’ yet. :-). I was impressed with his grasp of … his concept of a world view, at the beginning of chapter 5. I’ll be interested in what you think, about that. I did remember that his ideas, are written from a point of view of age. He’s telling us this story from a point much later in time. Hind sight, and all that.

    Looking for new land. The German concept of Lebensraum. Living space. Hmmm. That’s interesting. It goes back to way before WWII. And, I suppose, even earlier than the Germans, put a name to it.

    Well, that’s an interesting fire shelter, but I wonder at the wisdom of building the entrance of wood. I hope it’s got a good fire retardant slapped on it. Looks pretty dry, and crispy.

    Oh, yeah. The Ladies here at the Institution, have some kind of a feed planned. Not that I’ll be going. I’ll just wander down to the Club and gas with my bud, Scott. Don’t even know how long I’ll stay, as I guess they’re planning a feed there, too.

    A few year’s ago, someone was killed in a Black Friday shopping frenzy, stampede. Injuries are not unknown. I wonder if they offer combat pay, for the employees that are tasked with opening the doors? Do they draw straws? Lew

  29. @ all,

    Merry Christmas, happy 2020, and happy whatever other holidays you have celebrated / will celebrate in the next week or two!

    We are having the best Christmas weather possible: sunny, dry, and very warm. About 66F/19C as I type in the early afternoon. Not quite a record breaking high, but close.


  30. Hi DJ,

    Back again from the mega-festivus-entertainmentus-somethingorotherus festivities. Hope you had an enjoyable day?

    That Barry bloke was a bit before my time, but yeah I can see what you mean. Mind you, some artists can turn out the odd ‘off note’ to good effect and there is an enormously successful current Australian band (RÜFÜS DU SOL) that does that, and I always thought that it was a case of ‘knowing the musical rules’ in order to ‘break the musical rules’. But then that also is a deliberate choice by those artists – and perhaps not what could be politely termed of other artists: An inherent flaw from the factory! Hehe!

    The long term forecasts for down here are suggesting that the hot and dry weather will continue, but after New Year’s, the climate influences causing such weather look to be weakening and returning to normal – which is still hot and dry, but perhaps (and fingers crossed) not quite so extreme. Monday looks like another shocker day.

    Thor was a nonpareil to achieve such a snatch and grab on a rather fermented chicken carcass. Temptation clearly got in the way of common sense. And why the heck would Thor choose to release the contents of his guts onto a carpet? I’ve noticed over the years that the fluffies are also partial to rugs over the more sensible (kudos to the more pragmatic Cheyenne) and easily cleaned hardwood surfaces?

    The wasps need water during hot periods so you might be onto something with providing them with water. And I’ve seen them lined up here alongside the European honeybees (both introduced species) enjoying a drink of water on hot days. How the bees cope in other hotter and drier parts of the country is a real mystery to me.

    Haha! Nice one about the rock and a hard place. 🙂 Hadn’t thought of that. The finger is a bit bruised, but no long term damage. I was distracted for a moment by the flies buzzing around my face and my attention was diverted. Ouch. I have a woven hat with a mesh screen which is useful to keep the flies at bay, but yeah it was elsewhere at the time…

    DJ, mate, you are on a roll. What happens if we both need the half a horse at the same time? But then I guess that isn’t likely because when the sun is here, it ain’t at your place. 🙂 And I am truly amazed at how these engines are being produced at such volumes and at such prices, and what is worse, they start first time every time. Electronic ignition is a wonderful thing.

    Not good, and your story reminds me of an old urban myth about scarves and go-karts. There are times when dead man’s switches are a bit over the top, like push mowers, but at other times, they’re kind of needed.

    Is your east of the range part of the world also subject to temperature fluctuations?

    That happens with dogs, and the more time you spend with them, the closer the bond. I know people who believe that owning a dog means chucking it in the backyard and remembering to feed it. However it is my experience that dogs are extraordinarily sociable and they need and will find a place in the hierarchy. Your story of Thor reminded me that you can show love and companionship with our canine friends, but they appreciate and respect boundaries especially if you’re consistent with them. Mind you, that works for people too. As they say, same, same, but different.

    Toothy has always fancied that he would make a boss dog, unfortunately he is limited by personality. But that doesn’t stop him trying it on.



  31. Hi Damo,

    Exactly about how the house works in relation to cooling. Mate, by the time midnight rolled around, the windows and doors were open letting in the poor excuse that was the supposed to be cooler night air.

    I’ve heard people make claims about houses being so good that they require no heating or cooling, but I’m yet to experience such a building. In really hot climates, too much thermal mass heats up and then holds the average heat, and if that is hotter than you’d prefer… Heat chimneys in houses work pretty well combined with thermal mass and lots of insulation, but you normally only see those constructions in older Victorian era mansions where they can be seen as towers with windows sitting up above the roof line..

    This house is a bit of an experiment and the closest analogue is an esky. And it works the same way too. Capture the cold or the heat and try to reduce the thermal transfer.

    Dunno about you, but I reckon 20 years of episodes is a statistically valid number. I do recall that one or two may have came in on time and on budget, and the presenter appeared rather taken. Mate, the legacy we as a society is leaving is epic, so I’m not entirely certain that it is a good idea to add to the heady mix.

    Blue tarp sail. Ingenious, and I would never have come up with such an idea. There is something to be said about sewing skills (nod of respect to Mrs Damo) and the editor scored a new machine earlier this year – and it’s good. I have remarked that it has upped her game significantly.

    Thanks for that. I was surprised by your response and then contacted the publisher who confirmed your worst suspicions. Evil empire indeed. All things pass. Things (at a wild guess) are perhaps not so congruent in the higher places of that particular empire these days.



  32. Hi Hazel,

    We all seemed to have survived the silly season. Merry Christmas and solstice to you too. Hope your garden receives some tidy rain over the coming week. I’m going through the tank water, but so far (at a guess) not at an unsustainable rate.



  33. Hi Claire,

    Happy Christmas and solstice (or whatever) to you too! Tis the time to enjoy the harvest that was, and get excited about the harvest to come. 🙂

    Ideal Christmas weather. Almost perfect – and late greens will even grow in such weather – if your recent snow and freezes hadn’t wiped them out? The weather station showed 34’C / 93’F for Christmas day here and it felt hot, but today we have been given a reprieve and it is not dissimilar from your weather at 22’C / 71’F and the sun is still high in the sky. Bizarrely enough, it feels a bit chilly now that I have become accustomed to bonkers hot weather – but I am most definitely not complaining.

    Despite it all the garden is still growing. You’ve reminded me too, I should check the soil temperature on the garden terraces.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Well this is not my concept, but I declare today: Bump Day. Yes, the goose-bumps have not yet receded from the soulful stirrings of the words and melody. Wow. My education has been sadly lacking, however you are doing me a solid by introducing me to such greats as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. My gut feeling is that he was a complicated bloke. And how dare he bring high art to the masses? He did a remarkable job of that too. Well done to him.

    I listened to the music whilst reading the words of the poem. Wow. Lyrical poetry, and if I am not mistaken Longfellow’s shadow is long indeed as the particular style he used in that particular poem sees much use these days in popular music, although I’m unsure that few would credit such thoughts. I noticed the critical claims as to his originality, but I tend to feel that works are built upon the works of others. How could it be otherwise? I certainly make no claim that I have invented any language or even improved upon the existing structures in relation to language. The claim would be an outrageous falsehood. In my mind it is akin to constructing a house, in that all of the techniques and concepts have long been developed upon. Nobody could ‘invent’ then entire house concept from beginning to end point. Just not possible. The best I reckon a person can achieve is for a house to fulfil both form and function.

    I can see how the song can be sung in differing forms, and drinking songs need not be uplifting. There are times we must acknowledge the departed in both life and location, and then celebrate the times we enjoyed with them. Seems only fair don’t you reckon? The flip-side of joy is sorrow and I’m guessing the mid-point between the two is existence with all that entails. Anyway, I quite enjoyed his poem: Mezzo Cammin.

    Hehe! Yup, the descriptions are pretty funny aren’t they? Yesterday I avoided the dreaded nana-nap as the editor and I spent Christmas Day with my mates of the big shed fame. The double espresso in late afternoon may have had something to do with avoiding the nana nap, as they had served a long late lunch of one of their pigs slow cooked on the spit plus salads after an earlier brunch and much later dessert. Ooo, it was tasty food, and the hours flew by. Turns out their place has won a few awards, including the prestigious: 2019 National Architecture Awards: The Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New). I’m genuinely chuffed to know people who have dedicated themselves to creating something so extraordinary, and they’re doing an amazing job of it.

    I’ll keep an eye out for chapter five, although as you have noted the chapters are indeed long and it may be a while before I get there. Already young Clothar is throwing off the shackles of youth, and perhaps made a friend and mentor in the mercenary Ursus. A good person to know in a tough spot. And I too reckon Duke Lorcas had become slack and not posted scouts – and paid the price.

    Hmm. Maybe it is just me, but I as I am reading the Camulod story, my mind views the Lebensraum story from an ecological perspective. The Romans probably reduced the population through incessant warring.

    You’re good, and I too had noticed the old railway sleepers used in the construction of the fire shelter. I would have used either water tight concrete or rammed earth, but that maybe just me. I am aware of real world examples of the 2015 Wye River Fire where railway sleepers used as retaining walls had burned – which you think would be expected. You may note that I use rocks and steel rock gabions for such tasks. Dunno, I guess if the sleepers could be stopped from igniting, they probably would not burn, but it requires an active response. The local railway line sleepers were replaced with concrete due to the many fires in the area during that year.

    Haha! Yup, I get that about large gatherings. 🙂

    Far out, I wouldn’t volunteer for such work – would you? And yup, danger money would be very necessary. The videos were amazing of the balloon drop and you could see the emotions flowing through the crowd. I hope they had a good time and nobody was seriously hurt? I was also wondering whether the load rating on the balcony was up for all of the onlookers pressed against the railings. Dunno. I guess some things seem like a good idea at the time, but when viewed from hindsight…



  35. Belated Merry Christmas and/or Happy Solstice to all. Not been online much at all this week. Had Christmas #1 at my oldest daughter’s house on Sunday. Went to help my niece and her wife decorate my BIL’s house on Monday. This is the family of my sister who passed away a few months ago. They always host the big Christmas Eve gathering and my sister decorated to the hilt. Anyway much more subdued decorations this year but the party went off quite well Christmas Eve night all things considered. Youngest daughter and fiance stayed with us through Christmas. Doug and Ritchie (the fiance) were all into smoking this brisket which takes a very long time. Doug got up at 2 AM to put it on, went back to bed and then was up at 5 for the hourly spritzing with apple juice. We all ended up a little after 5 as well so are very tired today. The darn thing took 14 hours to cook. As Claire said the weather has been lovely though. We are almost as warm as down where she lives. It was nice not to worry about driving in snow and ice this year. Not much else planned for the rest of the week at least as things stand now.


  36. Yo, Chris – Pretty late today. Slept til 1:00 … but then I was up til 4am. :-). Had to hustle down to the Club, to talk with Susan about the New Year’s Day, auction. Any-who …

    I saw what you said to DJ, about Go-Karts and scarfs being a bit of an urban legend. How about scarfs and sports cars. See: Wikipedia, “Isodora Duncan: Death.” She was an early 20th century personage, who pretty much invented, and popularized modern dance.

    Hmmm. Longfellow. I quit like some of his epic poetry, but some of it is a bit … doggerel. LOL, when I was a kid, sometimes I’d read to my younger brother out of a book of folk tales, and poetry, before bed. Longfellow’s “Hiawatha”, was in there. I couldn’t get past the first line, as my brother would go into hysterics at the reciting of, “By the shores of Gitche Gumee….” Usually resulting in our dad, yelling up the stairs, “Don’t make me come up there!”

    Clothar needed a Ursus. The old warrior really taught him a lot. Little things, in passing. Stuff he didn’t get in the classroom, and could only discover, in the field.

    A lot of old railroad sleepers were soaked in creosote, to discourage rot and insects. Highly flammable, and, perhaps, cancer causing. They’re banned, now, but I see that they can still be bought on the secondary, market.

    I see, over at Mr. Greer’s, that one of your countrymen referred to you head of state as your Prime Muppet. 🙂 . Makes me wish we had a prime minister, instead of a president. Just because it’s so funny, and apt. Lew

  37. Chris,

    Yes, we had a wonderful day, thanks! It was the 1st Christmas the 2 of us have had together at home for 3 years, due to family emergencies. We cherished being together and having a quiet and relaxing day.

    I was in choir in high school. Our Christmas program each year featured a “name” guest. My junior year was a chap named Ted Nichols who had written music for the final year of “Flintstones” as well as contributing music to “Scooby Doo” and other cartoons. He directed us in the Christmas “oratorio” that he composed. One song required our 3 person baritone section to sing a note off key for a required discordant effect. I totally bellowed it out and apparently nailed it. He looked me up later and said “Thanks for the great baritone. You were the only one who got that note.” He was at a largish event our choir attended 16 months later and he greeted me with “You still singing that good baritone?” Made me feel good. Anyhow, there ARE times in which a discordant note is required, but Barry Manilow, well, he just couldn’t sing. My opinion.

    Let’s hope the heat stays below record levels for you. We might get perhaps 1.25cm of snow overnight and maybehaps another 1.25cm on Friday. I’m not holding my breath, and even if it snows, it will be gone quickly. 15 day forecast is for warmer than normal, so if we get anything after the weekend, it will likely be rain.

    I consider Cheyenne to be rare in that she chose the hardwood. Dunno why dogs have to whatever on carpets.

    When the wasps are drinking, the birds stay away. I’ve witnessed what you have, however, that the bees and the wasps might drink at the same time. They don’t get along well at other times. Hydrated wasps don’t seem to be quite as angry. Well, all bets are off on wasps in the ultra hot summers: too hot for too long and nothing calms them down in late August if we’re still pushing 35C.

    Mate, that distraction stuff always hits hard when I’m working outdoors, too. Glad the finger is nothing serious.

    What happens if we both need the half horse at the same time? You’re younger and bigger and likely tougher than I am. The half horse is yours. My neighbor just purchased an 8 HP snow blowing machine. It was inexpensive, but even the 6.5 HP is overkill most of the time and is heavy enough that it is a workout to use.

    We can get pretty nasty temperature fluctuations here, yes. Once my sister’s husband and I were cross country skiing on nearby Mt. Spokane. It was about -12C and snowing fluffy powdery “fake Hollywood” snow. We quit mid afternoon and went home, by which time it was about -1C on the mountain with wetter, heavier snow falling. It was +11C and raining by 9:00 that night. A “Pineapple Express”, a warm storm from Hawaii, had hit. It can get very cold that quickly in the winter, also. Spring and fall can have rapid fluctuations as well. Summer usually takes a bit longer and normally isn’t so severe, although we can go from 35C one day to 15C for the high temperature in 48 hours, albeit rarely.

    Agreed, I’ve seen that with dogs forever. They thrive once they know where they fit in the scheme of things. When they’re not taught that by the humans, they’re as unruly as unmonitored children. And, like Toothy, some dogs simply must push the limits sometimes.


  38. Hi Margaret,

    Happy Christmas to you and yours too!

    Hehe! Good to hear that you’ve got some relax time pencilled in for the coming week. And it was a very thoughtful gesture to assist decorating your BIL’s house. Loss is a funny thing, if only because life keeps travelling along doing its thing, and glad that they could all enjoy a celebration.

    Dunno about the details of slow cooked meat, but I’ll bet it was good. I raise your brisket and can tell you stories of home raised pig slow roasted over charcoal on a rotisserie. My mates do their own butchering – with assistance, and the pig was fed on their excess cows milk – which the pigs seem to like. Yum! As usual Christmas day was again warm – the weather station here recorded 34’C / 93’F.

    No. People are not up at 5am, are they? Really? Too early… Hehe!



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Given the civilised time that you generally consume dinner (respect) I already know you for the night-owl that you are, so yeah sometimes the wee hours can get away from you. Sometimes difficulties can enter into a person’s life without warning though, and they sure can keep a person up of a night. Truth to tell, the editor and I were also up well past midnight last night burning off a remarkable pile of paper that a friend requested that we get rid of permanently. The stars were out and it was cold and there was not even the faintest breath of wind. Unfortunately the recent meteor shower was last weekend when it was very cloudy, because last night would have been ideal for a bit of sky watching. The steel brazier was working over-time churning through all the stuff – which despite claims from the friend, looked to me as though they may have had a bit of a minor hoarding problem. From that perspective it was probably a complicated request for them given they don’t seem to throw anything away. Oh well, mine is not to wonder and it was not my arrangement anyway. I would have said ‘no’ to the request, but I guess the ash will provide some sort of fertiliser.

    Isadora Duncan was a candle that burned brightly indeed and the light from the flame cast very long shadows. Wow. Some people are like that, and her bohemian lifestyle makes folks today look like total light weights. But the car and scarf incident. Ouch. Indeed, “affectations can be dangerous” is a highly cheeky but also insightful remark upon the sad circumstances. I had heard in the long past that a celebrity had indeed met such an end, but as to who it was, or the circumstances, I was oblivious.

    A fine critique! Doggerel indeed – it’s a beautiful word too. Critics were perhaps more eloquent and witty back in the day, and the delivery was far slower. These days any boofhead with a computer can fancy themselves as a critic, and the interweb seems to spawn trolls faster than an out of control whack-a-mole machine. A few years ago I read an eloquent critique of the author Robert E Howard’s stories by the author Robert Bloch who incidentally wrote the novel Psycho. It was a fine tirade of outrage against Howard’s creations. But then it wasn’t lost on me that at the same time there was an undertone of grudging respect, and the facts speak for themselves that he was indeed reading the authors work. I was rather curious about the conclusion of Hiawatha as sailing off into the west because it is a recurrent theme in many mythologies. Anyway, no doubt your father was trying it on, and possibly you may have some other escapade that had he had previously missed. I know I did… 🙂

    Yeah, Ursus is a survivor and an old campaigner, and the young buck did indeed require a mentor. I’ll be interested to see how long the pair continue in their travels. And, I’m nearing the beginning of part two and chapter five. It’s only half way through the book.

    I’ve heard people claim in mock despair – however, I don’t actually reckon they were joking – that creosote was no longer available for preserving fence posts. I’ve heard people use old motor sump oil for similar duties. I tend to reach for timber treated with Copper, Chrome and Arsenic. Yup, everything necessary for a growing body. I’ve noticed that newer less harmful timber treatments are available now, although who knows how they work in the field and what the heck is in the stuff? To my mind it is a bit like the question of preservatives in that they have to be toxic, otherwise something will come along and eat whatever it may that is trying to be preserved. Creosote is commonly found in wood heater flues as it is the gunk build up caused by incomplete combustion. I tend to burn really dry hardwood so the flue is pretty clean year to year. Speaking of which I’ve almost filled up the main firewood shed this morning before the heat of the day kicked in hard. We treated ourselves with a yummy BLT for lunch as a reward.

    Prime Muppet is pretty funny, and I may have mentioned that the bloke appears to have made something of a holiday faux pas (yup, apparently praying in the US whilst NSW burns), but he’s making amends now and turning the Australian Defence Forces out to work in the fires.



  40. Hello again
    Christmas Day produced an unwelcome surprise. I woke up 8.30 am and switched on the kettle. The electrics were out! Phone call to Son to find out if it was just my problem. His were out too. I rang a neighbour next and then a friend in the village. All were out. At least the problem was large enough for something to get done about it. Apparently it had collapsed at 8.27 am. Son cooks on bottled gas so he brought me down a flask of water to make tea with.
    I thought of all those families who would already have a huge turkey in the oven.
    My electrics came back on in about one and a half hours but some were out until 11.30 am. It did get very cold indoors as I am all electric. We still don’t know what the problem was.


  41. Hi, Chris!

    It looks like we have all survived the winter festivals. Now, back to business.

    Your late 19th century reminisces evoke memories of place I’ve never been. Impossible?

    I never realized how very much of your house you and the editor built yourselves with you own dirty little hands.

    The Grand Designs young couple’s big house? Status always comes to mind first. It certainly wasn’t for their 10 children. I knew an old fellow growing up (1960s) who was one of 18 children and you can bet they had a small house. We have a very large stone French chateau with a large stone barn and stone outbuildings being built on the mountain behind us. They have cleared all trees off the mountainside in front of their house so that:
    a) They can see the view
    b) Everyone else can see their house

    That’s one hot sun down yonder. 86F indoors at night is miserable; say goodbye to sleep. I remember when one very hot summer in Colorado my mother told me that their candles had melted. Have you checked your candles?

    The angle of the King parrot shot is hilarious. He looks like he’s thinking: “No more strawberries?”.

    Our cucumbers here don’t like extreme heat, and I’ve never met a thirstier vegetable. I had to water them most every day last summer.

    Thanks for the steel rail at the fence bottom idea. Oh, my – now there’s a machine I could get my teeth into, that powered wheelbarrow, and I didn’t even know they existed. And you have such wonderful rocks.

    What a noble Ollie. The heat does not deter him in his appointed rounds. Oops – I hear he is the nicest dog, too. Poor Scritchy. As a matter of fact, poor Toothy, too. Not only hot, but usurped.

    It is amazing how green and beautiful everything still is there in that heat.

    Gee, I missed Bump Day this year.


  42. Yo, Chris – I’ve never read any Robert Bloch, but I’m always surprised when I run across another book, by him. He really cranked them out, but seems to have hit the jack-pot with “Psycho.” Lucky him.

    I finished the “Lance Thrower.” Now it’s onto “The Eagle.” Last in the series (though, I’ll probably circle back to “Urther.”). And, buckle up. It’s a real doorstop. I’ll keep my hands off of it, til your ready to launch. 🙂

    Creosote, sump oil … it all ends up in the water table. “Better Living Through Chemistry.”

    Kudos for hitting the firewood, early. Best take advantage of any cool (ish) day the gods, deliver. Will you be using your nifty new power wheel borrow, to shift some of that wood?

    Well. The local auction has thrown up over 300 pictures, for the New Year’s Day auction. I’ve talked myself out of the ironstone dinner set, but there’s a Victorian glass box, that’s awful nice. And, a Loetz glass vase that’s making me a bit crazy, even though it’s not blue. :-). Vienna, circa 1900.

    Of interest (but not to me, given my living situation) is a fruit press. Oak and cast iron. Used, but lightly, and someone has given it a good clean up. If it comes up, before I leave the auction, I’ll jot down the price and let you know. Lew

  43. Hi DJ,

    It is nice that you had a reprieve from the family emergencies and could both enjoy a quiet and comfortable day.

    It is possibly a coincidence that you mention Scooby Doo, but the other evening the editor and I travelled to a nearby town to see the Christmas lights display, and someone had actually installed an inflatable Christmas themed over-sized Scooby Doo. I did a double take when I saw the display and did wonder what they were thinking to themselves. No doubts Scooby was involved in a nativity escapade somewhere in his illustrious cartoon career? Hehe! Well done you, and such observations as yours are to be treated as a solid nod of approval.

    Maybe about the heat, and maybe not. This morning there was the briefest of rain. A few desultory drops made their presence known, but I tend to feel that the monsoon up in the north of the continent may have finally arrived. Monday looks like another shocker at 43’C / 109’F. Yay for us… As a general observation, your weather sounds quite nice to me. If you have any snow or rain to spare, please consider sending it down south. 🙂

    The wasps are a pain, and from what I understand and have observed, their hives are in the ground and also in logs, so really wet years knocks colonies of them back quite a bit (possibly due to drowning). The thing is, some of them inevitably survive, so it is rarely a permanent reprieve. They’re not too much of a problem here if only because I ensure that their preferred habitat is unavailable, and so they normally travel to easier locales. But elsewhere in the mountain range, they can be a pain. Mind you, I haven’t observed any of them this year so who knows what that means?

    Thanks. There is a bit of bruising on the skin and nail, but otherwise I’m OK and nothing was broken (fortunately). But things can turn ugly quite quickly and without warning, and so I try not to work outside if the mood does not feel right. You know and just have to listen to your gut feelings.

    I applaud your magnanimous offer of the borrowed half a horse, and I promise to return the half to you more or less in the condition that it was received. Seems only fair to me. Never used a snow blower (for obvious reasons), so I can’t really make heads or tails out of what it would either do or feel like to use. The power wheelbarrow on the other hand is a bit of a beast and has to be used with respect. The gearbox is a tricksey item as on one occasion the machine jumped out of first gear and into neutral – due I reckon to excess engine torque, and so now when travelling uphill I start the machine in second gear. I must say that the incident was a surprising turn of events.

    Thanks for the explanation regarding your weather changes. Not good, and of course humans can retreat indoors during such weather, but I’ve noted that it is the farm animals that really suffer hardship during rapid temperature drops. We’re due for one Monday evening to Tuesday morning and hopefully it brings some rain, but who really knows until the weather arrives. The water is an issue, and so far over the past month I’ve used a quarter of the stored water which isn’t really a lot, but if the water tanks aren’t topped up in the next two months then by the end of summer things may be grim.

    Exactly. The other day a lady explained to me her theory in relation to raising children and it went along the lines of yes, love, but also boundaries and consequences. I noted that both of her children were at the function (one of whom is a mate of mine) and they both seem to have turned out fine to me. As you note the same general theorem could equally apply to animals who share our common spaces.

    Have to fess up as to yesterday’s reply because we went to the pub. Given the time of year, I was expecting them to be quiet, but no people had turned out in large groups – most of which sat outside to enjoy the warmer summer evening air. We sat inside the public bar and enjoyed a ginger beer and parma (which might be an Aussie thing: Chicken Schnitzel with ham, cheese and napoli sauce with chips and salad on the side, although if requested it can be served with vegetables in lieu of salad). Yum!



  44. Hi Inge,

    Not good at all, but glad to read that the electricity was eventually restored. Hope you didn’t get too cold during the time? It is not a bad idea to have access to a mix of energy sources, but not much is as reliable for heating as well-seasoned firewood. Although as I discovered to my horror, one must treat steel wood heaters with beyond the usual level of care. Yesterday, we almost filled the main firewood shed which is a serious achievement given that we haven’t yet progressed to the next decade. Far out, time moves quickly.

    Hope your plans for a roast lunch or dinner weren’t derailed by the electricity shut off?



  45. Hi Pam,

    Or surviving (so far) summer festivals as the case may be down here. 🙂

    Hmm, possible. The world is a stranger place than people generally acknowledge.

    We’re pretty handy folks and the house took eighteen months to construct start to finish. I’m told that was fast, but if the place burns down in a bushfire, we have some ideas to rebuild it even faster and more importantly produce a simpler design. Not sure I want to do that job, but things are pretty crazy weather wise down here, so all bets are off in that regard. I’m told by reliable sources that there will be a small amount of rain on Monday evening, Tuesday morning – following the most recent heat wave 43’C / 109’F…

    Unfortunate. Anyway, I guess in the long term that the materials used in the huge mock-French construction will come in handy. Hope they used real stone. I’ve seen some dwellings where a thin veneer of stone is glued or cemented onto brick work – which itself is only a skin. Not sure that I would do such things, but then I live in a constant state of perplexedness with such matters.

    Ooo! Did you just slip in a sneaky reference to the late 70’s horror film: When a stranger calls? Have you checked the candles! 🙂 One year the weather was so hot and for so many days in a row that the bees wax in a hive melted and the bees absconded. A serious mess and the loss of a hive. I now keep the hives in the complete shade.

    Well the King Parrot can want for strawberries, but I put my foot down and said ‘no more’, plus a bit of extra steel assisted enforcement with that minor problem.

    Thanks for mentioning your experiences with the cucumbers. Hmm. Did you end up pickling yours or consuming them fresh?

    Haha! We love the power wheelbarrow and it is an elegant, if finicky machine. A normal wheelbarrow will get items around easier on contour or downhill, but I can’t match the grunt of the engine when heading in an uphill direction. Those large rocks felt effortless so I was clearly nowhere near the weight capacity of the machine – and it can work on a 30 degree incline up stairs (albeit only with 220 pounds). Bonkers, but causing far less soil damage than a bobcat or excavator.

    I feel for Scritchy too. All three of them are here with me now, and the heat of the day has meant that they’re all sleepy. They’re making me feel sleepy too although there is still light in the sky. Ollie is indeed lovely, and Toothy is somewhat confused about his place in the natural order of things. It happens and he is entitled to his opinions – which he can’t enforce.

    Hehe! It’s a good day, and we all need a few goose-bumps every now and then.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Well, there you go, I hadn’t known that Robert Bloch was a friend and peer of HP Lovecraft when he was younger. The guy produced some serious writing output. I had no idea, but yeah the Psycho story possibly opened many doors for him. It is a curious thing, ‘peoples trajectory’. I listen to the youth radio station which plays mostly new music, and there are some astounding talents, but which of these plays the right notes and melodies at the right times is a true mystery to me – and possibly to them as well. To sum it all up, I have no idea and the wheel of fate is a strange beast.

    Didn’t manage to pick up the Spear Thrower book today, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? Today was very toasty hot, and I just ambled around doing this and that and not much of great import. It seems like the time of year for such activities. Picked up an excellent coffee scroll from a nearby bakery and enjoyed it with a coffee this afternoon. That was a highlight. Fortunately the heat was not as hot as I’d expected because it was cloudy, but still in the late afternoon I mucked around with some of the sprinklers and the sun was knocking me out. Thanks for your forbearance and understanding as to my slower reading speeds, and I am looking forward to getting back into the story. It is a truly impressive re-imagining of an old story and I’m enjoying every single page.

    True. Pollution is sort of like that. I’m no purist but just try to reduce waste as much as possible. It seems like a worthy goal to me as well as being a sensible strategy in these times. If everyone is wasteful then the best thing to do is be cautious with procuring and producing waste. Two years after China refused to take our plastic waste, we still appear to be fumbling around with the problem: Australians create 67 million tonnes of waste each year. Here’s where it all ends up. Gawd help us all if we ever encounter a more serious and immediate problem. The Limits to Growth authors included pollution and resource depletion as two of their variables in their model. The implications of that story is not lost on me. As to Oil, I see that the Japanese are getting serious about protecting their shipments (which the US formerly did) and we’re trying to get into some sort of international agreement with you guys about your Oil reserves. We’re down to something crazy like 30 days reserves. It seems a bit light on to me, but we lack the will to pay for better reserves.

    Speaking of energy, I can’t say that I’ve ever filled a wood shed prior to New Year’s day before, but that’s the goal this year. The power wheelbarrow is better used for bringing stuff up hill. On contour or downhill a manual wheelbarrow is far easier to use. So the upshot is that the machine is best used for bringing rocks back up hill and having the machine means that I can do the job as the mood takes me. I reckon I’ve exhausted the uphill supply of rocks.

    Hey, the Loetz glass vases are very decorative items so a person can be forgiven for desiring one, even if they are not blue. 🙂 Is the ironstone dinner set of English origins? Good luck with your hunting and gathering expedition and stay strong. 🙂

    I’ll be interested to hear how much the fruit press goes for. The one I picked up was something like $450, but there is little interest in such items, and even less suppliers. Speaking of which I had a Steve Earle Copperhead Road moment today – I hear the bloke. Anyway, moving on…

    Speaking of music I had a dreadful ear-worm the other day caused by a petrol (gas) station. Serves me right for getting involved in such dirty business as oil, but that is how things roll sometimes. Anyway, they had playing in the background: Chris De Burgh’s song, Don’t Pay the Ferryman. Very annoyingly catchy, but an interesting story.

    It was nice to have a quieter day, and hopefully tomorrow is cooler and we can get back into filling the woodshed, but Monday is going to be feral hot 43’C / 109’F. Yikes!



  47. Chris:

    No, I never saw “When a Stranger Calls” so I can’t be sneaky.

    And no, I didn’t make pickles, and we had masses of cucumbers. I ate cucumbers every day for months. Maybe that is why I didn’t feel the urge to make pickles. I wish I had.


  48. Yo, Chris – People’s trajectory. It’s really interesting how people end up, where they end up. Talent, and a whole lot of luck. Usually. So much seems to depend on timing, random meetings, etc..

    I’ll have to Google and see what a “coffee scroll,” is. :-). I imagine a pastry horn, filled with some kind of goodies. Or, maybe, something like a cinnamon roll. Had to go to the kitchen, to see how to spell “cinnamon”. Easier than picking up the dictionary and magnifying glass. Or, not. Took two trips to the kitchen, as my brains apparently leaked away, on my first trip. 🙂

    I’m still reading “Secondhand.” Interesting stuff. There’s a waste stream. And, where in the waste stream does an item go from stream to landfill? The author, by the way, comes from a family of scrap dealers. His great grandfather started off as an immigrant “rag and bone” man, and built a scrap dealer empire. His grandmother took him on expeditions to find “the good stuff.” There’s a whole chapter on the inner workings of Goodwill Industries, probably our biggest op shop chain, that’s been around for about 100 years. I found that pretty interesting. There’s a huge second hand trade, between the US and Mexico. Who knew?

    There’s a lot about the psychology of people who cast things off, and people who buy second hand. Clothing quality is going down, and some stuff is lucky to survive 5 washings. But, with the whole “fast fashion” trend, that doesn’t become a problem, until it hits the second hand market. Another bit of pop psychology that’s kind of interesting is that most people when faced with the choice of a well made, $2.99 t-shirt that is used, or the same item that is new, but shoddy, will opt for the new, most of the time. And why buy a plastic used bowl from Goodwill, for a dollar, when the same can be purchased new, from Wally World, for the same price?

    Oil reserves? What oil reserves? Oh, we have a strategic reserve, but the military has some say in what happens to that. Don’t want to run out of petrol, in the middle of Iraq. And something needs to keep those generators running, to keep the air conditioning running, to cool the tents. :-). And, even though the media bang on about us being an exporter or oil, as you probably know, that’s not quit the whole story. We still import a heck of a lot of oil. And, as it is an election year, some of the reserve will go to keeping gas prices low. If the current administration want to be returned to office. Nothing stirs up the electorate like pain at the pumps. I guess the bottom line is, there’s still oil out there, but it’s going to cost whatever the traffic will bare.

    The ironstone set, is probably English. All I have to do is flip it over and take a look at the mark. I wonder if it has a British registry mark? Those are interesting. They were a diamond shaped mark with all kinds of little letters and numbers. With a key (on-line, now) you can tell all kinds of things about production. Right down to the month, day and year, of production.

    By the way, here’s the fruit press.—twelfth-annual-new-years-day-auction#&gid=1843232909&pid=200

    Just in case I get a selling price on it.

    I went to the library, this morning, and picked up an inter library loan. All the way from Missouri. “Tocqueville and the American Experiment.” It’s one of the Great Courses. Alexis de Tocqueville was a French dude, who ran around the United States, with a companion, in the 1830s. He was supposed to be studying prisons, but took a good look around and had a lot to say about a lot of other things.

    I’ve never read Tocqueville, but he’s often referenced. So, it’s a hole in my cultural literacy. So, as with Gibbon’s works, I’ll settle into the lectures, and see what all the noise is about :-).

    The on-line book auction, ends in a couple of hours. So, I’d better get my bids in, on a couple of lots. Wouldn’t it be funny if I’m bidding against DJ, for the pyrography books? Lew

  49. Hello again
    No problem with my Christmas meal as I always eat my main meal at 5.0 pm except for the rare occasions when I go out to lunch.


  50. Hi Chris,

    Just wanted to say thanks a lot for another year of great posts. I always look forward to your next instalment. I’ve got powered wheelbarrow envy – farm based rampant consumerism! 🙂

  51. Hi Pam,

    You missed out, but I have to confess that horror films leave me with total nightmares, and given you haven’t seen the film proves that you are the more sensible of the two of us. 🙂

    Cucumbers picked straight from the garden are a pretty tasty fruit, so I envy you your historical glut. But as you wrote, they do seem to want a drink of water more than other plants, and the way things are going this summer with the sudden heat waves I’m unsure whether I’ll indulge their wishes (although I have been favouring them of late).

    Tomorrow is set to be a truly shocking day weather wise. Fingers crossed that like an exam we get through it unscathed.



  52. Hi Inge,

    Isn’t it nice to be able to eat when one so desires? As a comparison, I tend to prefer consuming my lunch at around 2pm and always have. I usually have a large breakfast of homemade toasted muesli, fruit and yoghurt and by the time midday rolls around, I’m hardly hungry.

    For your interest and I’d be curious as to your thoughts, but it always surprises me that on the days when I miss consuming my normal breakfast, I can feel my body running low on energy by the early afternoon as my body uses the less intensive internal stores of energy. Dunno, maybe it is just me.

    Far out tomorrow is going to be one shocking weather day in this entire corner of the continent. Including the state of South Australia.



  53. Hi Matt,

    Welcome to the discussion, and also respect for your work.

    Thanks for the high praise, and you’re in for a treat for the final blog of the decade.

    Haha! My job is done, and may your dreams be filled with desires for crazy cheap and discounted small holder farm equipment. Mate, that power wheelbarrow is the biz for bringing stuff back up the hill, which is kind of handy when one lives on a slope.

    I may hit you up for seed raising systems advice when winter finally rolls around again – which it will.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    That’s my take on the story too. Sometimes people are just in the exact right place at the exact right time, so I’m with you and luck really is part of the story. But then, some people are great networkers and they can make connections. I’m limited by my personality and may have missed some opportunities because of that, but at least I can recognise the situation. But it’s complex, and I’ll be curious as to your thoughts, although I’m happy with the person that I am, and in order to grasp the opportunities, well that would mean that I would have been someone else altogether. Not sure what the conclusion from all that is, but it can’t be all that bad to retain a sense of personal integrity?

    My friend, usually it is my education that is need of address, but this evening settle in and I will talk to you of the greatness that is a proper coffee scroll. Right, it all begins with a fruit bun. Down here we use sultanas which are a dried table grape, and they have to be in plentiful supply inside the bun. Cinnamon and other exotic spices are added into the mix, and the bun is first rolled into a sausage shape and then curled around upon itself like a snail. Once the fruit bun has been properly baked so that it is fluffy and light (not sure what sort of chemicals are used to produce such an outcome – but I did read about them once long ago) a sugar glaze is added to the top of the bun. Then in the final act of baking excellence an iced topping (usually brown) which sets at room temperature is added – which of course includes a splash of coffee (although to be fair you’d be hard pressed to taste coffee). It is a pastry made to be ripped apart and consumed. Yum!

    Hope you discovered your lost brains? Mine may have fallen behind the couch and the hot weather is not assisting the ongoing losses…

    Yeah, some of those folks who originally got into the rubbish business are sitting on land which is worth enormous sums these days. The only problem I have with that story is that I’d be very uncomfortable living upon such land, and I once used to work for a company that was investigating co-generation for electricity using the methane as fuel which was naturally off gassing from the organic matter within former tip sites. It reminded me of the methane digester for the pig manure in the British TV show ‘The Good Life’. I grew up exposed to such novel ideas.

    The editor reads a blog of a bloke living in one the eastern cities in Canada who makes a solid living out of scouring through rubbish. I don’t personally read the blog but the stories I hear is that the guy occasionally has with troubles of the authorities trying to stop him, and the amazing stuff he finds and makes a living off are pretty amazing. Precious metals seem to be a regular fixture of the finds, and they are melted down and recovered. And why would people throw out cash? So many questions remain unanswered…

    You may recall that many years ago I worked in the manufacturing side of the rag trade and all I can say is that I am very careful about the sort of materials that I purchase. Things are not what they seem. A few years ago I purchased a pair of jeans and I was dazzled by the price. The jeans were a two for one deal, and it never occurred to me that they had a high synthetic content, but they did and I was careless with my choice. I don’t wear them now because they smell musty after only a day’s wear, and I was pretty annoyed to find I’d been duped. Heavy cotton does not smell with wear. Oh well, once bitten twice shy etc. Anyway: Keeping dirt at bay is destroying our gut instinct for survival. Have you read ‘The Gut’ book yet? It is very good.

    As to second hand, I have witnessed on numerous occasions people ordering take away coffees in disposable packaging and then consuming the items in cafes. Yup, the trajectory is not good.

    Surely you are kidding about air conditioning in tents? Probably not though. I have heard the story about exports too and understand about the reluctance – which I can well understand – to refine your light fracked oils in the country. It’s expensive to do so, so yeah I hear you. And exactly, the oil will be recovered, but whether we can afford to do so and pay for it is an entirely different question and much depends upon the energy returned from the energy invested – and people miss that side of the story.

    The fruit press looks pretty good and in working condition. And it’s blue! My press uses steel on the side to hold the presser plate in place, but I’d be almost certain the screws holding the blue steel presser plate in place run deep into the timber. Mate, they have some amazing stuff in the auction and feel free to correct me, but most of it looks quite genuine rather than reproduction stuff.

    Mr Greer has previously mentioned Alexis de Tocqueville and his tour around your country back in the day. I was intrigued. Don’t we all have educational holes that need plugging? The list is long and extensive, at least it is in my particular case! 🙂

    How did you go in the auction, and hopefully DJ doesn’t bid the price up too much? 🙂

    Far out tomorrow’s weather looks set to reach the state of truly horrid and epic rotten. A large part of the state has been advised to evacuate ahead of the weather. Thousands of East Gippsland residents and holidaymakers urged to leave ahead of escalating bushfire danger. It is not good at all, and fingers crossed, touch wood etc. I’ll post the next blog but if I drop off the radar, well check the news for updates…

    A large music festival was also cancelled at the last minute causing chaos. I can’t even imagine being at a music festival in tomorrow’s weather. Oh well.



  55. Hello again
    My only thought on the subject of missing breakfast is ‘Don’t do it’. I never miss my breakfast which usually consists of orange juice, tea and homemade buttered bread with either cheese or pate on it. Plus, in winter, a teaspoonful of cod liver oil which is really necessary in this climate.


  56. Yo, Chris – Retain your sense of personal integrity? You’ll never be King of the World!!! 🙂 . I try not to think much about luck and opportunity, anymore. In my case, those boats have sailed, and I’d rather not think too deeply, on the matter.

    Yup. Coffee Scrolls are pretty much like our cinnamon rolls (which come with some minor variations.) The major difference seems to be the top icing, which with scrolls, are made with coffee. I think your scrolls sound superior. 🙂

    LOL. Last night, in “Global Garage Sale”, I read about the actual rag trade. :-). The part where clothes that reach the end of their usable life are turned into rags. Maybe. Depends on the quality of the cloth. And, quality is going down.

    Something I found interesting. I had heard the word “shoddy”, before. As in, “shoddy merchandise.” Well. Shoddy is recycled wool. Mostly used to make military and disaster relief blankets. Wool is hard to recycle, on an industrial scale.

    The auction was a wash, due to technology glitches. Bad words were said. OK. Two weeks ago, I bid on another book auction, with few problems. Yesterday, when I tried to register, I just kept getting an error message that said I was entering the wrong address in the credit card information. Three attempts were made. No dice. So, Tuesday I’ll stop by the auction house, and my credit union. An exercise in futility, I’m sure. There will be no satisfaction. There will be no names took or heads rolled.

    The auction house uses, I think, very poor auction software. There’s very little instruction on how to use it, and there are mystery icons, scattered about. Lew

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