Ain’t no instructions

Trial and error is a tough way to learn, but for some things I don’t see anyway around using the technique. Last week’s blog included a short note about using coal to produce electricity. I then contrasted coal to the process of generating electricity using renewable energy. And as I was writing the story, I thought to myself: ‘Gawd, I hope nobody thinks that I’m schilling for the coal industry.” #notsponsored

Anyway, it is sometimes hard not to be self-conscious when writing, especially when feedback is immediate over the interweb. And for the record, I don’t take donations from anyone as I cover all of the costs of running the blog out of my own pocket. My writing is a hobby after all. But returning the discussion as to the self conscious aspect of the writing experience, I do sometimes actually wonder who I’m going to piss-off with the latest blog entry. People can get so easily offended these days.

A case in point was the spoof blog essay I wrote a few months back about a fictional experience in a restaurant when the food served could best be described as: ‘not good’. The inspiration for the blog came earlier that week when both the editor and I were served food at a restaurant that could best be described as being: ‘not good’. We handled the situation with good grace, and even paid for the food without consuming it. I know enough about small businesses to know that the restaurant was just having a bad night. And I had history with the restaurant so knew they generally performed better work than that night. It happens from time to time, and if you go to enough places to eat, eventually you’ll encounter the experience. The somewhat fancy and technical mathematical description for that situation is a: ‘statistically valid sample size’.

Anyway, I wrote a fictional account of the restaurant experience, but amusingly decided to describe me acting rather poorly. It wasn’t hard to do either because I’d used every bad complaint that I’d heard over the years to escalate the tensions in the story. I had a blast writing the story. It really was fun for me to write, and it was one of the quickest blogs that I’d written to date. And it was pure fiction.

At one point in the story I may have even channeled (I forget the details of the story now) a horrific video that I was shown many years ago of someone allegedly cracking the complete sads at a drive-through fast food counter. Chicken nuggets may have been involved in the situation as were possibly methamphetamines. It is nice though that such businesses have quality video and sound recording devices, so that the sweet moments of customer politeness can be celebrated long after the moment has passed. Anyway, I was most unimpressed with the actions of the person, up until the moment they declared the truly intriguing threat: “Don’t make me take my ultimate form!” It left the horrendous question in my mind as to what does such a threat even mean? I’ll probably never know the answer to the mystery. And I have little doubts that many centuries ago people making such claims may have been burned at the stake.

The thing that fascinated me about my spoof restaurant outrage story, was that people actually were outraged. Within a week of posting the blog entry, about one fifth of the blog readership simply stopped reading the blog. What can I say other than: ‘Sayonara suckers!’ The loss of those readers is of no consequence. However at the time, I had an eerie echo of the words of the now deceased Australian singer, Michael Hutchence, running through my head: ‘Words are weapons. Sharper than knives’. An astute observation from the artist.

I don’t necessarily go out of my way to annoy people, if only because I realise that people hold grudges, and sometimes they can act upon those grudges. In such circumstances and with such people, it is best not to poke them too hard. Sometimes though, despite your best intentions, things can go awry.

Recently I spoke with a bloke who was having a few troubles with the renewable energy (off grid solar) system on his house. It has long since been an observation of mine that these renewable energy systems don’t tend to come with instructional manuals as to how to live with them. Many of the systems, like my own off grid renewable energy system, are custom one-off systems. They comprise all sorts of components that are derived from many different manufacturers with little thought as to how they’ll integrate as an entirety. I now know enough to know that these systems are inherently complicated and they work far differently than people expect them to.

So upon hearing the distress that the bloke was having due to the troubles with his renewable energy system, I set out to try and enter into a discussion about how to begin addressing the troubles. I’m a deeply pragmatic bloke and if people are happy to whine at me about their problems, they may just have to confront candid solutions to their problems. As an interesting side note, the reaction of mine is probably a personal failing (or strength) of my own, if only because I have noted that plenty of people want to indulge their second or third whine, and I have little tolerance for such words.

The discussion however was fruitful, and in order to make the bloke more comfortable, I shared some of my own personal anecdotes of epic failures with renewable energy. There have been a few of them to choose from, so finding an appropriate example was not such a difficult proposition.

As I am skillful at reading an audience, I could sense that we were beginning to get somewhere with the discussion. But then I had to take a break from the discussion and go and collect my meal from the kitchen. By the time I returned from the kitchen with my meal in hand (for those that are curious the meal was an Aussie chicken parma with chips and salad), the bloke was departing, and so that was that for the discussion. Conclusion – maybe I am not so good at reading an audience.

After the abrupt ending to the discussion I’m now left carrying around the ongoing mystery with me. Did I offend the bloke somehow? Was the bloke actually interested in resolving the problem? Was he feeling overwhelmed? And perhaps, possibly, did he doubt my credibility? I guess I might never know the answer.

Smoke has reigned supreme over the skies this week

Smoke has reigned supreme over the skies this week. You can see smoke, you can smell it, and you can most certainly taste it. I can’t suggest that I’m a fan of the smoke, but things could always be worse on that front, so best not to complain. At least the sunsets are truly epic.

Epic sunsets have been the norm this week. Turbulent skies

The sunsets have been glorious. The monsoon is now active over the northern tropical part of the continent and clouds and storms are beginning to work their way down into this far south eastern corner of the continent. One early morning brought fog over the valley with smoke haze sitting above the fog.

Fog sits in the valley below the farm, whilst smoke haze sits above the fog layer

Observant readers will note the small tugboat looking device in the lower part of the above photo. That device is the remote unit for the weather station which provides details about the weather at the farm. With a lack of summer rain, I had failed to notice that the rain gauge on the device had stopped working.

One afternoon I had an hour or two free and so I decided to dismantle the little tugboat looking remote unit and discover why it wasn’t working. Turns out that at least five spiders had taken up residence inside the workings of the machine. The spiders were unimpressed at my cleaning efforts, and well they may be.

The guts of the weather station remote unit really did need to be cleaned

The weather station works as good as new now. And I have added a note to the maintenance list to dismantle the device annually and give it a good clean.

The weather has been quite humid this week, and Ollie the Australian Cuddle Dog (he’s actually meant to be an Australian Cattle Dog) appeared to be invigorated by the turn to a more humid summer.

Ollie is invigorated by the now more humid summer weather

To be fair to Ollie, he was having an afternoon nap when I took the photo. He usually keeps me company whilst I’m working around the farm, so he is quite an active dog.

The return of the rains has encouraged the editor and I to place several trailer loads of composted woody mulch along the downhill side of the new path up above the house. The composted woody mulch slows the movement of water and allows it to infiltrate into the ground. A few years ago there was a minor landslide at that location, and so the new path and mulch work together to reduce the risk of another landslide reoccurring.

A thick layer of composted woody mulch was placed on the downhill side of the new path up above the house

The firewood bay next to the house and secondary firewood shed are continuing to be filled up.

The firewood bay next to the house continues to be filled up
The secondary firewood shed is also rapidly filling up

There is a bit of urgency about getting the firewood put away for the season because the monsoonal rain has returned for now. Personal experience has shown me that you can grow an extraordinary quantity and variety of mushrooms by storing wet firewood in sheds. Scritchy the elderly boss dog has also discovered that the rains have returned and perhaps Ollie is too large for her to safely attack without fear of retribution.

The elderly Scritchy and Ollie had a fight a few days ago

Another dozen bottles of apricots were preserved. About two years ago I purchased a second hand electric preserving boiler and it is a truly simple and amazing device.

The large electric boiler/preserver was used to bottle another dozen bottles of apricots

The rains, heat and humid conditions have caused the globe artichokes, eggplants, tomatoes and capsicums to finally grow.

The now more humid conditions are causing the plants to grow strongly

The globe artichokes have begun producing some chokes this week. They are very tasty, and I recommend them.

Globe artichokes have begun forming this week

Today I spotted the very first capsicum (pepper) of the season. Due to the usually cooler summers here, the variety we grow are the thinner variety rather than the larger bell shaped fruit.

The first capsicum (pepper) of the season

The dozens of kiwi fruit are looking great and getting bigger with each week.

The many kiwi fruit are getting larger and closer to being ripe

Some of the juniper berries were used to make a small quantity of what is politely known as: ‘bathtub gin’. The juniper bush is the spikiest bush around and the birds leave the berries well alone.

Juniper berries were used to produce some bathtub gin

The male tassle flowers of the corn stalks have just begun to show this week.

The male corn tassle flowers are beginning to show this week

Onto the flowers:

A confused Rhododendron flower well out of season
This creeping rose is a true stunner
The roses on the rose terrace are bouncing back from the recent wallaby raid
A tiny native wildflower
The intriguing bottle brush flowers of the Silver Banksia
The bees enjoy the Californian Poppies
Looking at the garden beds it is hard to believe what a hot and dry summer it has been

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 58.6mm (2.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 28.2mm (1.1 inches) .

72 thoughts on “Ain’t no instructions”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Well we’ve just had a motsa of a hail storm go through, mixed with rain, so hopefully that hit some of the fires near us.

    Re people getting offended by your blogging: I reckon people need to take a chill pill about stuff they read on the internet. Also, it seems kind of … entitled to get upset because a blogger hasn’t responded instantly to your comment. As you say it’s a hobby and sometimes a considered response takes time – I often end up thinking about curly questions for months or longer. Probably I wouldn’t make a very good blogger.

    Looks like some of the regenerative agriculture farmers near me are offering a farm tour in March with a discussion of bushfire resistance and how their various systems coped (or didn’t). The price is a bit expensive but I’m tempted to go – I visited some of those places 10 years ago and I want to see how they’re holding up since I’m doing some of the same things.

    In domestic news – I have successfully cultivated a vinegar mother using commercial raw apple cider vinegar and home made rice wine. Actually, I was possibly a little too successful as the scoby layer is about 3inches thick. Anyways, I now have a useful outlet for my unsuccessful homebrew experiments.

  2. Hi Inge,

    Glad to read that there was no storm damage. Storms have travelled through this part of the world today, and in our nation’s capital the golf ball sized hailstones damaged cars (and who knows what else): Hail storm sweeps through Canberra, damaging countless cars and smashing windows.

    I’m with you. Cracks in the ground during summer indicate a lack of subsoil moisture, but no cracks means that there must have been subsoil moisture for the plants to access. Hmm. Was your previous winter warmer than usual? That additional warmth may have allowed more winter rainfall to enter the ground? Dunno. Most rain here falls as winter rainfall, and any summer rainfall is a bonus although on a long term average I could expect two inches of rain for each month of summer. So far today the storms (which were not dramatic here) have delivered 0.6 of an inch of rain. All very well received.



  3. Hi Pam,

    Ooo! That’s an eerie thought and it would never have occurred to me, but yep you are totally correct. I’m guessing castle foundations go down way deep (or as the Monty Python and the Holy Grail skit cheekily suggests) the foundations sink over time whilst new buildings get added on top. The soil here is actually a volcanic clay loam and so it does not hold water above the surface layer. Farm dams (ponds) leak here, and they usually have to be lined with really fine clay (bentonite) or plastic in order to hold water. Anyway, farm dams attract snakes…

    0.6 inches of rain here today! Yay!!!!! Mind you, the solar power system recorded just a bit over one hour of peak sunlight for the day. A bit of a problem that. What do they say: Two steps forward, one back, so it goes.

    Unfortunately the albino rabbit was spotted on a nearby farm, so I’ll keep a look out for her, but Charlene is a lovely name, and so Charlene it shall be! 🙂



  4. Hmmm, the travails of living off grid.
    Having just stumped up for a new set of batteries after killing my first set by being very, very stupid, I really doubt most people’s ability to live off grid at all.
    Your interlocutor probably didn’t want to hear you confirming his worst suspicions.
    When you grow up with functionally unlimited energy at your disposal any time you see fit to use it, it’s really hard to get used to the idea that energy is not necessarily there when you want it. The missus and I really had to work hard to live within our energy budget – which we were surprised to find hardest during extended wet summer weather (yes, it used to happen regularly).
    The grid around here is pretty unreliable. I know a number of people who are seriously looking at battery sales brochures and considering “freeing themselves” from that unreliability.
    {smiles quietly to himself}
    I do wonder if the Tesla salespeople are more like car salesmen – promise anything to make the sale…

  5. Hi Tam,

    I was speaking with a guy today that was caught in a golf ball sized hailstorm a few days ago in his car on a freeway. Needless to say he pulled over in the emergency lane whilst the storm passed by. The car has some cosmetic damage now, but nothing like what happened in Canberra.

    How did you go with the hail, did you get much rain as well (15mm here today so far)? I read a story a month or so back about hail being found in Queensland under a thick coat of organic matter a few days after the storm hit. Hope the fires take a beating from the hail – or at least fingers crossed.

    Hehe! I tend to view the replies here from the rural viewpoint of social credits. Townies can be mystified by this point of view, but the longer a person conducts an ongoing dialogue, the more social credits that they enjoy – because the runs are on the board. For example Lewis and I go back years before this blog, and I count him as friend, as he is treated as such. Our society tends to interpolate money in lieu of social currency, but I view such a situation as a mere moment in history. If the powers that be knew the future outcomes of their monetary policies, well they might back down from some of the worst excesses, but you know I ain’t gonna stop them from learning the hard lessons that they need to learn.

    As to ideas, notepads, paper or electronic are your friend!

    When Dame Elizabeth stumped the cash for a proper national Open Garden scheme, one of my delights was wandering around other peoples properties and observing how things were done. You never know what you might learn – and I took particular note of the ever hidden utility areas, as much could be learned from observing them. Anyway, all other considerations to the side, wealthy folks have an obligation to stump the cash for such schemes. The general conclusion from my ambling reply is that yeah, you go! 🙂

    Well done you with the scoby and vinegar mother. I am genuinely impressed. 🙂 Nothing is ever truly wasted in the brewing process. We produce a very fine sake, and I’ll let you in on a little secret of ours – we add a touch of rice sugar syrup back to the sake mix in order to sweeten the flavour of the sake. 😉 The editor is the chief of brewing here, and a couple of years back we were at a party which I was surprised to find myself at, and knew hardly anybody there, but anyway the editor and I by sheer chance spent the evening discussing sake with a genuine sake master (who also knew few people there). It ended up being an entertaining evening.



  6. Hi Les,

    I could not have put the conundrum any better. I treat the house batteries with kid gloves, and they are nice things to look at, but one dare not use them to any large extent (you know). 🙂 I often wonder how this will play out with the huge battery installed over in South Australia. Time will tell on that story, but I know folks who used lithium cells off grid. The tolerances with such batteries are too fine for my “she’ll be right mate” approach. On the other hand, they really work well. Just to tease me, could you disclose to me what sort of batteries you went with?

    Mate, the interlocutor was having a barney with his lady about how much electricity his huge LCD TV used, when I posited the opinion that 40’C clothes washes used a huge amount of electricity as well. Pool pumps may have been involved. My heart went out to them and I genuinely wanted to help, but you know people believe what they want, and some people enjoy circular never ending arguments for its own sake because it postpone the inevitable move towards a compromise.

    Mate, I’ve heard of wet summers, but surely you speak in jest? We went through the same thing too, and we just had to get our heads around what every single appliance used, and yup multiple cloudy days over summer cause your normal understanding of the world to come unstuck. When I spot wish fantasies in the newspapers about this renewable energy stuff (as if it is a like for like replacement) I think to myself: Are you sure you’re up for this? It is a great technology, it is just not as good as the output from the usual suspects. I wish it were otherwise, but when you know, you know…

    The grid around here is getting more unreliable too. A few weeks back we went to the pub for dinner, only to realise the power had been out for hours beforehand (who knew?) Anyway the electricity was back on and the beer was cool and they could make pizza’s. There is a school of thought that suggests that electricity will retract at some point in the future on a Last In First Out Basis.

    I’d like to see more people getting those batteries, but I hear more talk than action. From what I understand they are more akin to a UPS battery but when people stump the cash I’ll take more notice, but until then…

    Did you get much rain today? 15mm so far here. Yay!



  7. Hi Lewis,

    I’m enjoying a quiet evening tonight conversing with lovely people such as yourself. The previous five evenings were bonkers, and so much social activity actually raises my blood pressure. Years ago I discovered that introverts such as myself didn’t necessarily shy away from social activities, and I actually enjoy social stuff, I just need a lot more time than most to recover from them.

    It is bit of a possibility that I could disappear in the forest and just go about my business. I believe that may be described as being in one’s ‘happy place’. But at the same the world comes to your doorstep whether or not that is your preference, so there is little point hiding away. I can see that story playing out in the Camulod books. Poor Arthur does not want to alienate any of his supporters by not accepting the hands of their daughters. I was enjoying a coffee and muffin this morning whilst reading and pondering the characters difficulties in the matter of betrothal and alliances. My gut feeling tells me that it may not end well. 😉

    I’m in absolute agreement about going with one’s gut instinct. The gut often knows more about a situation than the brain does, and I reckon it is a bit of an art form to know when to listen to the klaxon warning sirens issued by the gut. The brain I tend to feel deals in abstracts, whereas the gut tends to intuit the circumstances. Although we are often trained to listen to the brain in preference, and I cite the case in point of: Modern Monetary Theory, which I interpret to be defined as: Don’t worry about it –we got this (maybe). My gut feeling tells me that it is otherwise.

    No spoilers please, and as usual you have lead me down a fascinating rabbit hole. Many decades ago a mate took me to a Japanese film festival and we watched the manga sci-fi film ‘Akira’. Some of the film was a bit lost in cultural translation, but it was very intense and visually spectacular.

    The things that I saw for sale as meat in the markets were a bit scary so I was reticent in relation to espousing my thoughts on the matter to the locals and so just abstained. Damo, has had far more experience in that part of the world and may be able to add some additional thoughts on the subject. On the other hand I also recall Conrad Richter’s fine trilogy, and mate the characters were more than happy to chow down on some bush meat (and/or use bear fat as a treatment for lice) so I am probably soft in these matters.

    Did you end up re-hydrating the cranberries before cooking them? I feel that I should add here that lentils and other dried beans are often soaked overnight in order to make them more edible. Hey, I had a delightful banana and blackberry muffin this morning. Yum! Hmm, the idea of a banana and cranberry crisp is floating around in my mind. Is it even possible?

    Anyway, there was a lot of social activity over the past few days, and during one occasion, a really nice person who I’d met on and off for many years offered me some additional solar panels which are perfect for my system. Turns out they’re not worth much nowadays, and I might also point out that the standard voltages changed a year or two back, and at the time I didn’t really think much about the story. It may well be a form of built in obsolescence for such items but my mind recoils from the horror of the thought so I’ll reserve judgement. The extra panels will certainly help with winter solar power production.

    Not sure about the tater tots, but substituting with potatoes in the recipe sounds fine and quite tasty to my ears. We used to make a Greek lasagne called Moussaka. It’s pretty tasty, and I tell you, eggplant is a devil of a vegetable (or is it a fruit) to find tasty recipes for. I usually salt the eggplant beforehand to remove the bitter taste. Seems to work.

    Crunchy granola, earth mothers!!!! Very funny! I grew up listening to Neil Diamond’s Hot August Night and Crunchy Granola was a favourite. Good Lord! 😉

    All those claims on the box are worthy outcomes, and one can but only hope that they come true. Personal notes from manufacturers are always good – as long as they don’t say something like: “We’re really sorry for your loss”, if only because things may have gone in horrid directions. So did the granola live up to the promises, but your comment about gilding the lily tells me that they did (however you have improved upon a good thing)?

    I was confused about this week’s story if only because I sensed that the people in question were happier with the circular arguments with no resolution in sight, than an actual resolution of the problem. Dunno about you, but I do wonder whether we are being trained to accepting such a state of affairs? I see that outcome in your politics and it fascinates me from a motivation point of view more than any other reason. Dunno, but it sure is curiouser and curioser.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Thought you might like this image of an epic dust storm up in New South Wales today: Trangie dust storm.

    The dust is from drought affected soil swept into the air, but still…

    Anyway, imagine it was a volcanic eruption and the hapless dog is happily sitting there enjoying the sun whilst thinking to itself: “They said there’d be an eruption. What do they know?”



  9. Hello Chris
    Perhaps now is the time to shamefully admit that I was initially taken in by your fictional restaurant encounter. It shows how well you wrote it. I can only assume that your readers who vanished, didn’t read further.
    We have had all the pictures of those incredible hail storms and I hope that all continues well where you are.
    I am still puzzled by the behaviour of the land here because we had had the longest dry spell that I ever remember so why didn’t the clay crack? The only difference has been two consecutive autumns of a huge leaf fall. I fell in the woods on Friday and it was like falling onto a feather bed apart from the fact that it was wet.


  10. @ Marg,

    I remember the winter of 78/79 quite well. (Or, as the new junior tech in my program puts it, “You never forget ANYTHING, do you?”) The autumn was colder than normal very early. There was snow in early November that never melted for months. Then the cold hit. IIRC there were about 6 weeks with lows -15F to -25F and highs never above +12F. Sunny days and starry nights and very little snow. Then one day in late January, it warmed up somewhat, there was about 6″ of new snow. Fast on the heals of that was a Pineapple Express from Hawaii and winter got back to “normal”.

    I’ll never forget the weeks and weeks and weeks of cold. I remember the snow plastering the upper Midwest and Great Lakes most of that winter.


  11. Yo, Chris – Well, look at it this way. 1/5 of your readership were precious little snowflakes, who melted away under the gentle satire. Poor things. I think Inge is right. They either don’t read through to the end, or, form an opinion that they don’t shake, no matter what comes later. Or, they take the Social Justice Warrior stance of, “Such things shouldn’t be joked about! Ever!” Some people are just humorless. What sad, little lives.

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the bloke in the pub. Maybe it wasn’t you? Maybe he had an appointment? Maybe he had enough basic information to mull over, and wants to think about it for awhile?

    Interesting about your remote weather station. Our local rain gage reports, seem to come and go. Maybe they should check for spiders? But in our case, I’d guess the innards might be gummed up, by frogs. 🙂

    Yup. Ollie looks invigorated. As if he might tear someone’s leg off, at any moment.

    Your preserver/boiler looks like our ubiquitous coffee urns. Seen in great profusion, at any large meeting.

    Your artichokes are looking yummy. Break out the butter! Peppers are masters of camouflage. Seems like you can check them every day, and they always manage to set two or three pods, before you notice them.

    The Juniper berries are very pretty. Speaking of spiky plants, I noticed this morning that the very large and ancient rosemary, here at the Institution, is full of flower buds. Your corn is looking very healthy. And, wallabies aside, it looks like your roses have bounced back. Roses, as delicate as they look, are really tough as old boots. The little wildflower looks like some kind of a wild geranium. Maybe. Cont.

  12. Chris,

    Thanks for the link to Wilpena Pound. The rock colors are similar to what they have in the general Prescott area, as well as other places in Arizona and New Mexico and Colorado. You nailed the big problem of the high desert: it matters not how hot it is during the day. Night can get downright cold.

    Au contraire. Our circular jokes are simply showing how well rounded we are.

    If they notice the card, then I’ll remove it from the joke board and put it on another joke board not visible from the hall. 🙂 I’d prefer them not to notice it.

    Learning that the job is a job and pays the bills but is not my source for fulfillment has been (and is) an ongoing learning experience for me. Perhaps I’ll learn it in the next 13 months? Seriously, I was taught to find meaning in my job and to “take ownership” of what I do. I’m not sure any more what that latter phrase means. And it’s awfully hard to “find meaning” in a job that one fell into when needing a paycheck, rather than that job being something that was a burning desire to have. And when it’s full of people that you really don’t ever want to be friends with makes it hard to have meaning or being fulfilling, whatever those things mean on a job. Meaning and fulfillment come from doing the things that are important to me.

    As to burning bridges, there’s not much sense in that. Similarly to your experience, I’ve found that burning bridges can lead to someone holding a grudge and the payback comes out of the blue, perhaps years later.

    Yahoo! Warming trend is here! (Or, I’m getting too old for this winter stuff.) +4C for two days now, rain on Tuesday, then highs pushing +10C indefinitely.

    Ya know, too many people get offended and pissed off way too easily. I’m pretty comfortable knowing that not everybody is going to like me and that somebody is going to say something to me today that I don’t like. That’s just how life is. Somehow a lot of people have the idea that life is supposed to be there for their pleasure and that any unfun and unlikeable things need to be stomped out immediately due to their offensiveness for stealing the happiness that we’re all supposed to have by right. Dunno where that mentality came from, but it’s one I run into frequently.

    Nice picture of the now cleansed spider home. I bet they weren’t the least bit impressed when you opened up the tugboat thingy, but they were likely in a major snit by the time they became homeless.

    I remember your restaurant story. I enjoyed the writing, was wondering what had REALLY gotten under your skin, and then came the explanation about its creation. I had a good laugh.

    Meanwhile, your conversation with the whining guy. Another lesson I’m finally learning: people don’t want my advice. They want someone to vent at. And some people (there are several of these at the job now) SAY they want my input then turn glassy eyed and end up doing the opposite of what I suggest. Then they wonder why things tuned to bat doo and try to blame me for it. Someone needs to have a lengthy track record with me before I give advice to them nowadays.

    Good job on the wood! Getting it in the sheds so it can dry out some more before winter is good. I never had mushrooms grow on wet wood here, but various kinds of moss would show up if I didn’t get the wood out of the wet properly.

    Hmmm, bathtub gin sounds good. Maybe that’s a future use of my Oregon grape berries? One year I filled a lot of canning jars with chokecherries and then added vodka to the brim. 5 months later that stuff was ridiculously good!

    My three favorite pictures form this week’s set: the tiny native wildflower is cool. Bottle brush plants are always intriguing. And you know I’m always a pushover for pictures with bees in them.


  13. Cont. I could also happily disappear, into the woods. A nice fantasy, but the reality is a lot more complicated. Sometimes, in all this wrangling about alternative power, I wonder if, perhaps, it wouldn’t be better to just forego electricity, entirely? Seemed to work for a lot of people, in the past. Taking the long view, in the recent past.

    I wondered if Arthur ever was envious of ancient kings. The one’s who took multiple wives. We tend to think of them as just powerful horn dogs, with over active libidos, but it was more about alliances or tribute. A neat solution. But one with it’s own problems.

    Seems like I spent most of yesterday puttering around in the kitchen. Well, I suppose there are worse places, to putter around. I kicked it off with the cranberry crisp. I rehydrated the berries by just covering them with water, and throwing them in the nuker, for a few minutes. Then I followed the “Joy of Cooking” cranberry sauce, recipe.

    As an aside, I really don’t know why we call it cranberry sauce. It’s really, jam. I mean, it’s got chunks in it. So, to me, it’s jam. There was enough left over that I now have a jar of cranberry jam, in the fridge. “Joy of Cooking” throws in the occasional bit of food lore. New England sea captains discovered if they laid in dried cranberries, their crews didn’t get scurvy.

    I think the crisp turned out, pretty well. I had the bright idea to ream out an orange, and put the juice and pulp between the cranberries and crumble crust. I can’t taste it. Maybe, more? I gave a piece to Eleanor, last night, and will see what she thinks.

    I was also low on brown rice, from the fridge, so I made another batch of that. My every three day oatmeal and fruit happened to fall yesterday. Poor planning, on my part. And, dinner was the go-to, veg/egg/rice fried patties.

    Banana cranberry crisp? Not something that interests me, much, but if I had a go at it, I think the acid in the cranberries, would really preserve the color, of the bananas. Now texture … maybe if you sliced the bananas, froze them, and then baked them in. They’d probably hold their shape, better. Maybe.

    The mac and cheese turned out, pretty good, with all my tinkering. I think it was a bit salty, though. My Idaho friend was a bit aghast, by what I had done. But on reflection, I think it might have been my presentation. Actually, the end result wasn’t much different than a tuna noodle casserole. I’ve floated that idea, and will see what she has to say, tomorrow.

    I think about our politics, as little as possible.

    The Trangie dust storm reminded me of pictures of our 1930s dust bowl. Someone get that dog, inside! Call the SPCA!

    I watched “Jexi”, last night. A pity they had to carpet F-bomb, the script from one end to the other. I mean, I have a fairly high tolerance, to that sort of thing, but it was a bit over the top. Maybe they talk like that in the tech world of San Francisco? Maybe, they were trying to be young, hip and with it? Maybe, just being naughty? It really was quit funny. And, had a lot of things to say about our over fascination with tech. And, by the way, it’s a Rom-Com. :-).

    Planned obsolescence. Make small changes, and rake in the bucks. I’m still not over washerless faucets. Great for the faucet manufacturers, and plumbers. The rest of us? Not so much. Lew

    PS: I noticed your mention of saki. The archaeology world is agog, as the oldest saki brewing site, has been discovered in Japan. A lot later, in time, than I would have thought.

  14. Hi Chris,

    Your pub friend, are you saying they ran pool pumps and did hot clothes washes on a solar system? The mind boggles. The LCD TV pales in comparison to either of those, but then I find it weird when people always use a clothes dryer (did I mention in August when it rained *everyday*, we still managed to dry all our clothes). Anyway, pool pumps and 40 C washes on solar. Far out.

    I suspect he just wanted a whinge. I am getting sick of those type of people here at work. Just fix the problem and move on with your life already!

    RE: Bush meat in Laos. Snakes, rodents, dog, weird endangered cats the more common cat, and frogs (sometimes grown in cruel little jar)s. They ate them all. I didn’t mind the frog, which were quite large, the legs almost like a chicken wing, but stayed away from other mysterious items where possible. Do I dare relate the story of a pile of dirty plates found stacked in the restaurant toilet? Perhaps, like the origin of meat, it is best to just not know…

    ALERT: Picard is out on Thursday. Gotta say, the trailers scare me. It doesn’t look like TNG at all, more like the unmentionable new series 🙂 Will watch anyway of course.


  15. @Chris

    RE: hazard burns, lack of good discussion in media and population

    I see Dark Emu has come up a few times in random articles the past week or two. Maybe the message is slowly seeping in? Perhaps it will only take another 2 or 3 major fire disasters to sort us out? I mentioned to Mrs Damo my disappointment in the public discourse the other day, I think the “left” blaming climate change and the “right” blaming greenies for locking up forests is just a short cut to inaction. The common theme is both boogeymen require no new action, self-reflection or deep thought on how Australia might better manage its land and adapt to the reality of a very variable climate. In some respects, this is similar to the “mad max” or “star trek” options most people settle on when thinking of the future so they can excuse themselves from any difficult decisions or analysis.


  16. @Everyone

    For those who can remember, I sometimes post blog articles about the two little boats I am building. Good news – I successfully sailed one last weekend. There is a (I think) great video I made, which shows the river and harbour I am very lucky live on in NZ:

    And if you want to see a little more about the process, including the hand-made sail, there is a blog post with the same video and more pictures etc available on the Zeehan Manse link to the left that Chris is very kind to put up for me 🙂


  17. Hi Inge,

    I could not possibly receive a finer compliment for the spoof essay. Most of the comments in the spoof essay I’d actually heard used over the years, which is a somewhat sad indictment on our societies discourse when confronted by minor problems. It is a challenge to maintain ones sense of propriety when other folks are losing their marbles – at volume. 🙂 The fact they didn’t read through the essay was quite a surprise to me, who knew people did that?

    It’s a mystery, that’s for sure. I read somewhere a few years back that once water is held in the soil that it takes quite a while to move anywhere, and for some reason the time period given was two years and I don’t believe the distance was very far. Water held in the soil also has the added side benefit of not easily evaporating away. Of course some soil moisture is lost to transpiration. I assume nobody near to you has a well that they draw water from the local aquifer?

    There is a well on the property above me, and another way off to the side at a further distance away (and frankly that second one probably wouldn’t impact me at all due to the lay of the land). Sub soil water is a problem because most people believe it is an unlimited resource, but down here that ain’t necessarily so.

    Do try to keep upright when ambling through the forest. Glad that the fall wasn’t painful or requiring of medical attention.



  18. Hi Damo,

    Mate I hadn’t even thought about mentioning a clothes dryer, but yeah – those things eat electricity. The funny thing is that the big LCD TV is a visible item, but I doubt it uses much electricity at all. The computers here are very low consumers of electricity. It is always surprising to discover what items are hungry ghosts for electricity. Respect to you too for the clothes dryer. Total respect. Never owned one myself, although I did have to install one on a house that I was selling – and a dishwasher too, although I never used either machine.

    I tell ya a funny story about clothes dryers. As a young bloke I lived in a flat which had a communal laundry. The laundry had a clothes dryer and that thing used to get flogged to death because the body corporate paid for the electricity. It was a nice arrangement if you can find it. Anyway, things got pretty feral with the machine and you’d have to sit and watch your clothes dry because clothes were stolen, and also other tenants used to unceremoniously dump your clothes out regardless as to whether they were dry or not, and then put theirs in. I was there maybe three, or possibly four months before moving out. The place had an outdoor pool too, and on hot nights the local kids used to jump the fence and take advantage of the facilities. I recall one stonking hot night at maybe 2am just sitting in the water trying to cool off. The flats were adjacent to a rail line too and the freight trains used to wake me up in the wee hours of the morning. Mate, sometimes you have to live a nightmare so as to know when to appreciate when you are on a good thing. 🙂

    Washing horses are yours and my friend! 🙂

    Haha! Here you come to the crux of the problem. Do they want a solution, or do they want to indulge their second and third whinges? Hmm, wars have been fought over less – and the lovely couple were bickering amongst themselves as to who used the most electricity. I can’t say that I’ve ever bickered with the editor in front of other people, but you know social standards are low these days. Anyway, a beer fridge may have been involved in the bickering, although for the record, refrigerators are very efficient these days, and I said as much.

    Thanks for the story about the bush meat, and frog is on many a countries plates. The other stuff not so much. I read a Lonely Planet book written by their travel authors, and it was a story about consuming rat meat in Africa, and the author was not well afterwards. The book read like a series of cautionary tales.

    I’ll indulge my Patrick Stewart whims and expect the worst, but hope for the best. Is this being bright-sided? Dunno… Stay strong and fearless Damo, you never know, you might just enjoy the series? 🙂 Hehe!

    And absolutely I 100% agree with you. Did you not notice a similar vein with this week’s story? I felt the same way after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, and if 173 dead people isn’t enough to evince meaningful and lasting change, then I’m completely stuffed if I know what will. I doubt this round of fires will be thought about in six months time.



  19. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, Wilpena Pound is a beautiful place and the colours are spectacular, however I have never been so unprepared for a high arid-land cold night as the night that hit us there. We were camping in a tent over winter, and apparently the sleeping bags were rated to below freezing conditions. Was the rating adequate? Well, I woke up the next morning before the sun had risen, frozen to my very bones and shaking with the cold. After that experience we purchased a sheepskin rug to throw underneath the sleeping bags, and woollen blankets to chuck on top of them. The high desert is not much fun over winter, and I cannot even begin to imagine the trials that your dad went through.

    Certainly I do not believe that we have reached the end of the circular jokes, and maybehaps we might just find ourselves all the way back at the beginning? It’s confusing these days…

    If it means anything to you, my gut feeling suggests that meaning and fulfilment is not to be found in a workplace. Certainly work can be found in such places, but meaning, I dunno. What does this term even mean? I looked up a definition and mate, they were evasive to say the least. Typical. Given people are seeking the state, what does the word even mean? Hmm. If I could cheekily suggest another word that has, dare I say it, more meaning, that word might just be: Purpose (as in sense of purpose)? Can such a thing be found in such a place – maybe?

    Ah yes, there is an old Klingon saying about: Revenge is a dish best served cold. Of course that saying may be ascribed to a more noble bard than a Klingon bard, but it makes for a memorable quote and no doubts people have translated the bards work into Klingon.

    I run into that mentality too, and it rarely fits the world that we exist in. Perhaps a better way to put it might be: Bad stuff happens, so enjoy things when it does not, but know that the stuff may just visit your happy state without warning.

    The spiders were very grumpy with me, and I have to fess up that I squooshed them. I was a bit grumpy with the spiders and had the upper hand (and riggers gloves) in that encounter. Revenge, cold, dunno, and all that other stuff added with a bit of shame for my actions.

    Hehe! Yeah, who would have thunk it that I could write a spoof story out of the blue. I really suspect that a number of folks did not read the full story, but they probably have no purpose being here in the first place. Reading is an art form.

    I’m less and less inclined to give advice too. However, having said that I tend to observe peoples actions, and they sort of guide me as to peoples genuine motivations. In my profession people sometimes profess that they wish to clean up their mess, and that always rings alarm bells for me and so I ask searching questions about how the situation came to be before even considering taking them on board. I have been burned, and what a great lesson that was.

    Oh yeah, moss and lichen are onto the firewood logs too. Yup, it really strikes me as being weird that the tree stumps here are less likely to be taken out by the fungi – who happily dine upon plant cellulose. I tend to believe that the other surrounding trees give tree stumps a bit of a leg up to keep them going. How else does one explain an almost four decades old tree stump that has not rotted?

    Bathtub chokecherry gin is what you produced there. Vodka is basically un-flavoured and watered down ethanol. I use vodka to produce vanilla essence with proper vanilla orchid beans. Yum!

    I had not previously known that bottle brush flowers (Banksia species named after the Botanist Sir Joseph Banks) were unknown in other countries until comments about how alien they look arrived in my in-box. The native wildflower is a mystery, but I could find it in my book collection if I had some spare time. Wildflowers are plentiful here. And the bees are doing very well.



  20. Hey Chris,
    NiFe. Heavy, inefficient, incapable of being damaged by overcharging or overdischarging, probable service life, 30+ years.
    Easily destroyed by using crap “distilled” water for refills.
    Ah, well, at least I could put a larger capacity bank in for the second try…
    Main reason for going with these is the experience of a friend who went off grid in the late ’80s and couldn’t afford new Pb batteries in the ’90s when they expired from natural causes.
    As for Li chemistry, my experience with laptop, phone, segway and other Li batteries suggests that they are not suitable if longevity is a requirement. LiFePO4 maybe lives up to the hype, but they haven’t been in service anywhere long enough to really know if the theoretical life is for real (In theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice, they’re not).

    WRT wet summers, we’re in a summer rainfall area. We used to get useful winter rainfall from the northern end of the cold fronts that give you the majority of your rain, but they seem to have moved south in the last decade or so and only get as far as Buladelah, 50km south of here. So now, if the monsoon fails, as it did last year, we’re completely stuffed.

    When you say “electricity will retract” I actually think the more general form “infrastructure will retract” is probably the more likely. Nationally, regioinal cellular networks probably go first, as profits come before universal service obligations, then regional NBN (taking phones with it), then leccie, with the local council stuff (roads, bridges, garbage, etc) going in a patchy way in between, depending on which councils go broke first. Cities, of course, lose infrastructure last, due to the sheer numbers of squeaky wheels that live there and the risks inherent (to the elites) of letting the places go to wrack and ruin.

    Finally, rain. ~160mm for January so far. Compares well with the total of ~350mm for all of last year. Hopefully the monsoon will keep on pumping and we’ll get some moisture back in the subsoil.

  21. Hi Lewis,

    Snowflakes is the word, and seriously, they add nothing to the discussion. And I tend to feel that reading is an art form, and over such a forum as this interweb thingee, I can’t actually connect with people who lack the ability to read through an entire essay and discern a meaning. It says much about people that they are unable to face a difficult idea or concept and then make their own minds up about the subject matter. Unfortunately the lack of such an ability in people means that nefarious folks will fill in the power vacuum left behind such an educational mess. Oh well. And wasn’t it the role of the court jester to say or at least hint at things that needed royal airing? I have a suspicion that people who shut down debates are protecting their own perquisites.

    You’re probably right about the bloke in the pub. My gut feeling told me that it was too much for them to consider as they’d lose comforting routines. I really did want to help them though, but some wise bloke may have said something about: Gawd helps those that help themselves – or something to that effect.

    Frogs!!! Never even crossed my mind as a possibility! Mate, if the local tree frogs could have gotten into the tugboat device they would have – and eaten the spiders just for good measure. 🙂 I like the tree frogs. The guts of that machine were a serious mess and it ended up taking about two hours to clean and get working again. I had to hit the electronic circuit boards with a hair dryer because I’m guessing the device was designed not to be cleaned.

    Ollie might come in handy during a scrap. And you alerted me to the bloke with the standard poodle trope. Who knew about that? So I was at the local cafe this morning – checking the mail. But of course whilst I was there I enjoyed reading a few pages of “The Eagle” and Arthur’s unfortunate discourse on marriage, and Merlyn’s alarm that another son of Uther was out and about in the world. Oh yeah, coffee and fruit toast may have also been involved. So a bloke with a standard poodle – a big dog – starts tethering his poodle right next to where I’m sitting. And whilst he is tethering the dog he asks me whether it’s OK to do so? Well that horse had already sailed, and the ship had bolted, so I said something about making sure the dog didn’t slobber on me. Then he went inside the cafe and the dog started barking. It was a menace, and the dog bark originated in the dogs tail as it was so penetrating. I finished up and left, but the guy apologised. As an adherent of Sun Tzu I have a surprise in store for the poodle dude and it may just involve Ollie. He is a scary looking dog.

    I might also have to put on my best crazy eye impression and say with a slow drawl: He ain’t much good with other dogs. I actually encountered someone saying that years ago. The former boss dog Old Fluffy, who was probably bigger than HRH (most likely a Finnish Spitz) was the meanest and fightenest dog around, she’d take on anyone and win. Except for the Crunchy Beagle who never forgave her for trouncing him one day. Crunchy Beagle was a fearsome and arthritic old thing, but all of that was forgotten when he spotted Old Fluffy, and he’d stalk her ruthlessly and relentlessly. All other dogs however were subservient to Old Fluffy, and one day she encountered an actual hunting dog. The two dogs hit a stalemate where they were eyeing each other off when the owner turns up and says: You gotta call your dog off because my dog is a hunting dog and thinks your dog is a rabbit. We separated out the two dogs and so never really knew how the scrap would turn out, although Old Fluffy wasn’t above going for the eyes and then the throat. Once she’d dominated the other dog, she just paraded around going ‘I am the boss’. A strange dog, but super smart and fearless and utterly loyal. When she was young she used to try and out-alpha me all the time, it was tiring, but eventually like the Crunchy Beagle I earned a modicum of respect and she’d follow me around all day long. Ollie has been the closest to that dog, but he lacks the fearless nature of Old Fluffy. Still the Poodle or Poodle dude may know that it must respect me or face the consequences.

    The preserver works in much the same manner as a boiler, although I can state for the record that instant coffee has passed my lips only a few times in my life. Lewis, life is too short for instant coffee. Tea is a preferable beverage. A proper coffee is a thing of beauty and delicacy.

    Have you ever grown globe artichokes? They come in purple varieties too, and I might just try and obtain some of those next season. The tomatoes are from that book too and I spotted at least half a dozen fruit this afternoon. In contrast to my usual several hundred pound harvest of tomatoes, this year is going to be trouble.

    Rosemary flowers over winter, and if your winter is more mild than usual, then you never know how the plant will respond. It survived snowfall here. Are the flowers blue? The corn is looking particularly good and I’m impressed at the thickness and quantity of the tassles. Last year they were not that prolific, although I’m yet to see any silks, but that might be timing more than anything else. I tend to agree with you about the roses, and they do appear to be as tough as old boots.

    Have you ever tasted ripe juniper berries? They have a sort of pine, sweet, and something else unidentifiable to the taste. They’re good and prolific – and the birds don’t harvest the berries for obvious reasons. Plus the berries when ripe are blue.

    Me too, the reality would not be that appealing. That’s a good thought about shrugging off the electricity, it’s possible that’s for sure, and each year the farm gets better adapted along those lines just because it is less work to live here. It would be very difficult to make a sudden transition to no electricity. Yeah, that would be hard especially if I was expected to render unto Caesar. The pound of flesh demanded by the system is not minor or inconsequential.

    That story about Kings having multiple wives in order to appease the supporting petty Kings was aired in The Eagle this morning. The poodle interrupted my reading. Pest. It is an elegant solution out of Arthur’s conundrum, but his values got in the way of pragmatism. I’m interested that Merlyn is apparently applying more pressure than he received to the matter of generating an heir. There is an old saying about the apple not falling far from the tree. And I reckon the saying is mostly true. Anyway as to the problems generated by such a scenario I’d have to suggest that I lack the competence to be able to manage such a situation. 🙂

    We call jam with chunks: Conserves, down here. Do you hear that word used? Although now that I think about it a bit, the word has fallen out of favour and general use these days. We’ve spoken about Vitamin C deficiencies before and I’m always amazed that the knowledge is gained and then lost only to be regained and then lost again. Scurvy is not something that I would wish upon anyone. I wrote a blog essay about someone who I believe may have been suffering from scurvy.

    Citrus juice is always hard to incorporate in cooking – and particularly cakes and biscuits. The zest from the skin of the citrus would produce a tastier cake I reckon. What’s your take on that?

    Yum! Your rice / veg / egg combination is a regular meal here. The Indonesians describe the meal as Nasi Goreng, which sounds far more exotic than rice with vegetables and egg.

    Bananas work alright in cakes and muffins, and the vegans use bananas as a binding agent in biscuits, although I’d probably try raw coconut as a butter replacement. A tough path to follow what those folks are on, but good for them. I’m yet to meet an angry vegan and I feel that my life may not be complete until I do so. The vegans I’ve met seem to be pretty lovely people.

    I hear you about the cheese and macaroni casserole. Tasty stuff, but too much salt leaves me with headahches. I’m weak on that front and am not made of such stern stuff. Down here there is a product called Chicken salt which appears to be a paprika and MSG mix with maybe some other stuff in it. That stuff is tasty, but far out I pay the price for eating it. Lot’s of fresh water seems to relieve the salty dramas. I guess it has been a long while since our species inhabited the oceans in one earlier form or another.

    Good for you about the politics. Your lot is intriguing in its self destructive nature.

    Same, same but different with the dust bowl if only because the images are in glorious colour. The dog must have been either oblivious or extraordinarily well behaved. The fluffies would high tail it out of there.

    Never heard of Jexi, but it is an intriguing story and proposition. The interesting thing about these dumb-smart phones is that they are forever demanding your attention, and they require a lot of modification in order to make them work the way you want them to work. I have shut that baby down, and it whines about being shut down. An intriguing technology, but fortunately I am not easily distracted by such things. But I don’t wish to appear to be suffering from hubris either, as with each annoyance I shut it down a little bit tighter just to be sure that I don’t succumb to the lure of the dark side. So did Phil gain a normal life because of the phone?

    Oh yeah the washerless faucets are a great one aren’t they because none of the cartridges are standard. Good luck repairing those things at some distant point in the future.

    Thanks for the sake article, and yeah I would have thought that there would have been older remains, given that the article alluded to earlier references. Imagine the peasants drinking and dancing! Shock horror! 🙂 It was a genuine pleasure to spend an evening conversing with a genuine sake master and his Japanese girlfriend. Before they turned up I was thinking to myself that it was going to be a long night.



  22. Hi Les,

    Thank you very much for sharing that piece of information regarding the NiFe batteries. I had not known of that problem at all. Someone mentioned to me that they can occasionally be known to last for up to 80 years.

    For your info, the batteries here are sealed Gel batteries (a calcium gel but otherwise Pb plates) and they’ve done pretty well so far at about 10 years old. I can see from the statistics that they’re losing capacity, but that’s to be expected. If they kark it, I’ll probably stick with Pb acid batteries for all the reasons you’ve cited.

    Actually I was concerned that large arrays of Li batteries require a battery management system which measures individual cell voltages down to three decimal places. This sort of fine tolerance makes me nervous that something could go wrong, but that might be me over reacting to new technologies. Dunno.

    That’s my thinking too with LiFePO4 batteries. Before I faded quietly away from the renewable energy forums I’d heard of folks who had dead LiFePO4 cells in their battery arrays, but then that can happen with all battery chemistries and as you quite rightly suggest that the runs are not on the board with the technology as it is a bit too new to know how it will go long term.

    A mate of mine has an off grid setup with a huge wall of deep cycle NiCad batteries. He got them second hand and he reckons they’re about 40 years old now, although the capacity is now something like 20% of the original charge.

    Yeah, I always thought that the climate hammer would fall hard in this part of the world not up your way – and we have a long history of major wildfires in this particular mountain range. The tall trees here still show the scars from the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires, although the property here was on the edge of those fires. I would have sworn that your part of the world was immune from the sort of summers that we get, and the editor and I were discussing earlier in the season as to whether we could be in a more hospitable part of the continent. I just don’t know at all what to think.

    The failure of the monsoon last year was a serious problem for us too, and it barely rained at all for three long hot months and water supplies faded due to slow attrition, so I can’t even begin to imagine what you just been through. They breed ’em tough up your way.

    Yeah, I agree the infrastructure isn’t just the electricity, but it is everything else as well. Jackie French’s excellent article was suggesting in her subtle way that the rural areas probably need to get more self-sufficient on an infrastructure front, and I can’t argue with her – or your thoughts on the matter.

    Whilst we’re discussing such things, I do feel that there should be an option for folks who live in rural areas and don’t wish to abide by the building codes. Otherwise how are the un-insured and under-insured folks going to rebuild with the new building codes? Such a beast could possibly only allow for a small home and to make it un-insurable with the owner being wholly and solely responsible for the building staying upright. Such things used to happen in the past and I’ve met old timers who just built their houses without reference to planning or building codes.

    I reckon the monsoon is here to stay, and we’re in for a long autumn. But I’m just guessing. Spring was non-existent here and then summer was a true horror. Dunno, what do you reckon?



  23. @Pam
    Yeah, I can’t imagine someone voluntarily going through that but it sure did the trick for me.

    I certainly understand why you wouldn’t want to move to Idaho. That area of the country has been really hit hard the last few years. Now in Colorado where you can experience the beauty of snow but it usually melts within a couple of days is a different story. Speaking of beauty this last storm we had resulted in the most beautiful landscape. Friday night we had about 3 inches of heavy wet snow. Saturday morning brought some freezing rain leaving a crust on the surface of the snow as well as a good coating on all branches and even stubble in the farm fields. Sunday’s wind knocked shards of ice on top but the branches still had a good coating of ice. It was clear and sunny so all the ice on the trees and the ground sparkled. It really hasn’t warmed up all that much so some still remains – quite beautiful and there weren’t even any power outages – an added bonus. There are some positives to our winter weather.

    Yes, the shores of Lake Michigan have taken quite a beating. Many beaches have shrunk so much they are being closed. Some homes are also being damaged with the high waves. The lake is supposed to rise even more this year. My sister who lives on Lake Shore Drive has been out of town for a few weeks so I haven’t gotten any reports on this recent storm.


  24. Hi Chris,
    I would have to go back and read that blog that you referred to. I’m beginning to think the best practice anymore is to just keep quiet as people are so easily offended. Either that or just take the attitude that you don’t care if they’re offended.

    Speaking of spiders, a couple of years ago I put on my ear protectors I used when I’m weed wacking. I heard the strangest noise in one ear so took them off for inspection and found – a spider!! Believe I always check now before putting them on.

    That is some fine looking wood. Doug is out right splitting wood from a couple of trees we had removed.

    Sadly the Biggest Estate book is a bit expensive for my budget – almost $70 on all the used book sites. “Dark Emu” though is about $20.

    It’s funny the ways people try to quit or at least cut down smoking. I know several men and a woman friend who hide their smoking habit from their significant others (like they don’t know- ha!) and sneak out somewhere to grab a smoke. My lady friend doesn’t buy cigarettes but rather watches for a fellow smoker and then offers to buy one for $1. These methods though do tend to help people smoke less I guess.


  25. Hello again
    There is a well not very far from me but it is fed from a particular spring and runs in a direction away from my place. There are a number of springs in the area. Why are springs always high up the hills and not at the bottom? What pushes the water up and out? Am I incorrect about this? Considerable puzzlement here.


  26. @ Margaret – But Colorado is sooo expensive, compared to Idaho. (Though, Idaho is catching up). You get what you pay for, I guess.

    It’s raining puppies and kitties, here, and will for the next week. Snow levels are going up, so, more water added to the mix. National weather service is beginning to kick around the possibility of flooding. Glad I live on a hill. Lew

  27. Yo, Chris – There used to be this thing called “reading comprehension.” Along with a lot of other things, it seems to have gone out of fashion, as far as teaching it in the schools. How many times at Mr. Greer’s (and other places around the net) have we seen people pop off, without “getting” what he was saying. Or, even in response to other posters.

    If elected, I promise to see that there’s a frog in every tugboat!

    I think you’re slightly ahead of me, in “The Eagle.” I’m up to the beginning of Part 3, #1. Lance has just returned to Camulod, and is wondering why there are young high born ladies, thick upon the ground. I’ve noticed there are often places in the novel, where things are felt, but not yet quit crystalized. Things not said. Usually, a handy minion puts things in perspective. Lance and Arthur in the cave. Bors pointing out that power is not shear numbers, but also the ability to properly outfit soldiers.

    People have blind spots, when it comes to their dogs. Also, their kids. 🙂 . Other than HRH, I think most of the dogs, here, ought to be put down. Vicious beasts!

    The coffee urns have nothing to do with the instant sludge. Actual boiling water is perked through real coffee grounds. Not that that would measure up to your high standards :-). The Club uses those restaurant kind of machines, and a pretty good brand of coffee. Glass pots. The trick to getting a good cup of coffee, out of those, is turnover. Not a problem, at the Club. What I don’t understand is sullying a good cup of coffee with sugar, or, what passes for cream. Cream powders or flavored cream in (naturally) little plastic pods.

    Well, we all have our “standards” foibles. Mine are apples (no water cores!) and tea. I want what I perceive as a “good” brand.

    I’ve only seen globe artichokes growing here, once. And that was in a south facing greenhouse. Yes, our ancient old rosemary has blue blossoms. Never had a Juniper berry. Somehow or another, I always though they were poisonous. Probably from reading about too much bad gin that killed people. Too many Victorian novels. Dickens, etc..

    A sudden transition to no electricity. The plot point that’s launched a thousand speculative fiction novels on the collapse of civilization. I hope Mr. Greer is right, and that it will be a slow winding down, rather than falling off a cliff. Les outlined a likely course. Or, like Mr. Greer said once (or, maybe Mr. Kunstler), it will be like a film running backwards. Already, out in the American hinterlands, thousands of miles of rural roads are not being maintained. They local governments can’t afford to keep them up, anymore.

    I don’t hear the word “conserves” very often. Mostly slapped on upscale, tiny gourmet jars of jam. Orange zest or candied peel is probably the way to go. I just wasn’t up to it, at the time. For me, it’s a whole ‘nother process that needs to be planned ahead. Yeah, if I do the veg/rice/egg thing, I fry it up as patties, sprinkle on some nutritional yeast and slop on half a can of diced tomatoes. Splash on some hot sauce. If no eggs are harmed in the making of this movie, it’s a casserole that gets trotted through the nuker.

    Re: “Jexi”. Of course Phil lives happily ever after. It’s a rom-com. :-). His love interest is rather interesting. She had a high powered (and high paid) job at one of the big tech firms (The River … you guess which one) and was plugged into social media. And, one day woke up and walked away from it all. Took her tech money, and opened a bicycle sale and repair shop.

    I suppose you’ve heard theres a “deadly new coronavirus, coming out of China. So new they haven’t even given it a catchy acronym, yet. Like SARS, or MERS. We have our first case in the States. Up north of Seattle in the city of Everett. So far, the mortality rate has been pretty low. Only people with “pre-existing conditions.” You know. The stuff no one can get health insurance, for. Lew

  28. It was ten minutes of hail, 1/2 hour solid rain (literally solid, I couldn’t see two metres) and then it suddenly stopped and the bright sun came out. The birds looked very confused, or possibly concussed. No idea how much in mL since the hail broke my rain gauge.

    Respect to the brewmaster if you’re doing saki. I looked it up but it seemed to involve a lot of precision and fiddly steps. I’m more at the ‘stir crushed yeastballs into cooked rice, ferment and strain’ stage of expertise. I did add blueberry jam (not having any proper syrup) to my first effort which was too dry – which made it yummy but also fizzy.

    I can’t really comment on larger solar systems – but I lived in a shed for three years with 100w of solar + 350w of wind and eight 2nd hand UPS batteries. We were at the head of a valley with constant wind so that worked quite well. However, we only ran one light, a couple of laptops, and a small 12v fridge. Also there was a lot of fiddling involved – by no means plug and play. The inverter was the weak point of the system – there wasn’t much choice other than Chinese cheapies for that size system and we burnt out a few.

  29. Hi Margaret,

    I wouldn’t worry about re-reading the blog, from my perspective your reading comprehension has never been short of excellent. That is not something that I would say about most people these days. Alas, nuance and complex dialogues probably do a lot of people’s heads in. 🙂 Oh well, too bad so sad for them – anyway a bit of extra care and attention would do people no harm.

    You’re probably right, and I go out of my way to be polite to people but yeah, some folks see that as weakness, which I always find to be a strange response as it is very telling about the person who expresses their feelings that way. It’s usually all about them – and it’s not a good sign from my perspective.

    Oh my! That’s my nightmare with the ear protectors, and I occasionally leave my helmet on the ground and just hope that nothing crawls into it, but check all the same before donning it. Imagine a bull-ant getting into a helmet! Lucky the spider didn’t bite you. I used to know someone who lost a bit of their ear due to a spider bite and subsequent infection, and I didn’t need to be warned a second time.

    Thanks. The firewood not stored away is a bit damp outside now due to the recent rain, but fingers crossed I get the shed full on either Saturday or Sunday. Not sure when at this stage because it depends on how much sun we get between now and then. It looks set to rain hard after midnight tonight.

    A bit of a shame about the book. I’ll keep an eye out for a second hand copy floating around for you. You never know, but being a local book it will be much cheaper than you can ever purchase it at. I’ve never read Dark Emu, but I see that Damo may be in the process of reading it – and many opinions were expressed about the work.

    It appears to be a very hard habit to kick. I hear you, but I’ve noticed that smokers can’t seem to understand that non-smokers can smell the smoke on them. I’ve never smoked and so am non-judgemental about such things, although I would like to say for the record that ex-smokers can often be incredible anti-smoking zealots. Oh my, can they do that well and impressively and from my perspective I have no skin in the game and so can stand back and watch the sparks fly. The editor used to be a bit full on about the topic, but has toned things down to a no-care attitude with a bit of distance. What do they say: Time cures all ills?



  30. Hi Inge,

    Like you, I too am curious about the workings of springs. In really wet years I have observed a few springs popping up randomly about the farm, and it is amazing to see, if only because they are not usually there. The area about 30 to 40 miles to the west of here is one of the largest concentrations of mineral waters and natural springs on the continent. And I have absolutely no idea as to why the geology there produces them? It is on the ‘to look into’ list and if you encounter a good book or guide on the subject I’d be most interested.

    It is a puzzle.

    I may get another half inch of rain before the sun rises tomorrow morning. Yay for rain!



  31. Hi Lewis,

    What is this ‘reading comprehension’ thing that you speak of? Hehe! Mate, I wish it were not so. Interestingly, I have noticed that people consume written words on ‘little screens’, and what with all of the other distractions that go along with owning the ‘little screens’ I don’t believe that a person could possibly give words their full attention. Words are powerful things, and not to be treated lightly. Although historically, literacy rates were low, so perhaps what can’t be sustained, err, won’t be sustained, and we may well be returning to more usual historical averages? Dunno.

    Mind you, large poodles barking at volume tends to break my reading concentration, so we live in a world full of distractions. Mmm, speaking of which, I can smell the bread baking in the oven. Yum! What were we discussing again? 🙂

    Had a souvlaki for dinner this evening. It was very tasty, and the restaurant has been around for many decades. The lamb is cooked over a charcoal spit and served in a pita bread with lettuce, tomatoes and onion. And given how warm it was here today, the two blokes running the place were having to deal with some serious heat near to the charcoal.

    And back home, I have the door open to the cooler outside air and the rain has only just begun. Hopefully before the sun rises tomorrow, about half an inch of rain will fall. I have not watered the vegetables at all this week.

    Hehe! A solid campaign platform – and the frogs could use the assistance. 🙂

    Actually, I am a little bit ahead of you in The Eagle, but not by much at all. Apparently Uther may have sired another contender (!), and Arthur and the Knights Companions are considering the threat (although not treating it as an opportunity). Although sadly we know where this is all heading – tragedy. But what heady heights they sailed before their fall. I read an article in the newspaper the other day about a woman having her first child and suggesting that climate change and descent from the heady heights of industrial society won’t be too much of a drama because future generations including her own child wouldn’t know any better about current conditions. Wow, well I can’t say that I agree with such thinking, and there are many possibilities including (but not limited to): Grudges; Revenge; Dispossession; Anger etc. Would you call such a point of view as the one expressed: Hubris? Her line of thinking made me feel very uncomfortable.

    Hehe! I have heard that story about ‘my kid, right or wrong’. And seen it in the media – usually reporting on court activities (for some inexplicable reason).

    I hear you about the coffee, and I respect your path, and it is a fine path, and preferable to instant. And I have enjoyed many such preparations. The Bialetti style stove top coffee makers produce a reasonable coffee, and your system sounds very similar. Sugar and cream in coffee is right out. My mind cannot fathom the depths of cultural depravity that people plunge too (no pun intended – but it does work). Coffee is meant to be a bitter taste, but not too bitter, and definitely not sweet. Tes not natural, and is the work of the evil one who never sleeps. Keep a sharp eye out for that one as he may be proffering you cream to add to your coffee – and by its very nature, it’s a deil’s bargain. I know you are too strong to fall for such paths, and you’ve said as much in your comment. Respect. Far out pods are an environmental disaster of the highest order, and I don’t really believe the coffee tastes that good.

    So, what tea do you usually drink? I’m guessing Earl Grey, or English Breakfast, but am just guessing. My favourite is Earl Grey.

    I guess the globe artichokes won’t enjoy your winters, although they see extraordinarily hardy. The chokes are very tasty, and I’ve seen them for sale occasionally in markets, but they are expensive items. A single plant will produce a few chokes each year, but not as many as you’d hope for.

    Nice to hear that you have a blue flowering variety of rosemary. Ah, you know you stuff. Respect. Turns out the juniper berries contain the powerful chemical Thujone. My tree comes from a known source of good repute so I do believe that it is a Common Juniper bush. The history is fascinating: Are All Juniper Berries Edible – Is It Safe To Eat Juniper Berries.

    Likewise, I also hope that Mr Greer is correct, although I could equally enjoy a ‘World Made by Hand’ future. It would be difficult, but hardly be a hardship for me, and I’d have more time to concentrate on the plants. Like some of the characters in Mr Kunstler’s story, I would find the situation congenial to my personality. Of course that may be just my perspective, other people would feel great hardship, but I’ve never known what it is like to stop working – physically and mentally.

    The rain is pouring down like cats and dogs! yay for rain!

    Gotta bounce, it is getting very late here.



  32. Yo, Chris – I’m happy your getting some rain. Are your water tanks, filling up? I keep meaning to ask, do people down there still refer to The Wet, or is it a thing of the past? We have a good long stretch of rain in our forecast, and the weather service is making noises about hydrology, again. Rain comes down, snow levels go up.

    In a way, the woman may be a bit right about not remembering the heights of industrial society. With so much being stored in electronic form, memory is fragile. Which was pretty much the premise of “Second Sleep.”

    I think I’ve only had instant coffee, a time or two … in my life. I’ve been known to forego a cup of Joe, rather than subject myself to that stuff. When I was first starting to drink coffee, I can quit clearly remember my father saying, “Learn to drink your coffee without cream or sugar. There will be times when none is available.” No other information, of course. I often wonder if he picked up that bit of wisdom, riding the rails, or, later, in the army.

    Well, I prefer a good green tea, or, Double Bergamot Earl Gray. Stash brand, preferred. But that stuff is expensive, so, I make it stretch by filling in with a good black tea. I never (except for the one exception that follows) find the Stash brand in the cheap food stores. Except, the last time I hit one, I found a single, rather crushed box of the Stash, Double Bergamot. I was thrilled.

    I think Arthur’s dynastic complications may arise from the young lady he had a tumble with (as related to Lance) who, according to report, died a year later. In childbirth? Or, did she die at all? Perhaps they got tired of Arthur mooning about, and just told him she had passed?

    As Juniper is found on so many continents, I wonder if it’s an ancient plant that’s been kicking around since it was all one big super continent? I don’t think I’d want to sample the plant, unless I had a botanist, on tap. Interesting that it’s a handy source of yeast. A good thing to know. Lew

  33. Hi Chris,

    Respect to you for all the work you’ve done to put together, and keep working, a solar powered homestead. I’ve read enough about how to do that to know that it’s beyond Mike’s and my skills.

    And I agree with you that anyone who thinks they can get such a system going without the kind of experimentation and trial and error (and trial, and error, and …) is not well connected with reality. Even our far simpler, no-moving-parts-except-the-door wood heater has required a considerable amount of observation and experimentation for us to use it as effectively as possible. Unlike the set-it-and-forget-it thermostat, we have to use a wheelbarrow to move wood from the shed about 50 feet to a rack just outside the back porch, then carry it from there to the house in a basket. If we want a consistent amount of sufficient but not too much heat, one of us has to be here to load a few pieces of wood at a time into the stove on a regular basis. One of us has to refill the rack from the shed once a day. And that doesn’t count Mike’s time to find, cut to length, split, and cut to length again the stove-sized pieces of wood.

    Supposedly we are to get a mix of various forms of winter precipitation starting this evening. I would like to put in an order saying “hold the sleet and freezing rain, please.” 😉 Apparently winter weather is difficult to predict. The last winter storm was less severe than predicted; the one before was more severe. We’ll see what happens with this one. Currently it’s not expected to be a big deal.


  34. Hi, Chris!

    It is fair for you to wonder whom you will discomfit with your postings – but not fair to worry about it. It is your blog. Like Inge, I, too, was taken in by your story that time. I just figured that you had lost your mind – until I read further.

    As for the fellow that you were discussing solar with – like Lew, I figure he had a previous appointment. And like you said – he probably was also enjoying venting to someone who actually understood the situation.

    I thought that you were over the smoke. That mauve and gold sunset is really striking. Spiders seem to mess up a lot of your electrical stuff. I try to keep that in mind for here, though we hardly have anything, except in the house, that they could bother. I find it perversely comforting that such a small, insignificant creature can do so much to mess us up.

    It’s nice to see Ollie so perky, though I was shocked and embarrassed to see that he so far forgot his manners as to pick on someone smaller than himself. Maybe he was trying to fix Scritchy’s Whirling Dervish Disease? The one that sends her all over the place like a small tornado?

    I crave composted woody mulch more than chocolate. Your boiler has a spigot. Mine does not. I now crave a spigot, too.

    I was afraid that you weren’t going to get any peppers, but there they are. And hooray for corn tassels!

    I am so glad that the roses are bouncing back. What is the texture of the bottle brush flowers when dry? Could you actually clean a bottle with them?


  35. Hi Tam,

    The rain was feral! And sorry to hear about your smooshed rain gauge. Was it a plastic rain gauge? I’ve noticed the plastic gets a bit brittle over the years as it is probably not UV stable. The plastic rain gauge here seems OK, but the holder for the rain gauge broke a few years back and so I made a new one out of thin galvanised wire mesh. Works a treat.

    Not sure about up your way, but last night it rained mud. A dust storm had made its way high into the atmosphere producing unusual orange clouds. And so when the rain fell it delivered a goodly quantity of central Australian red dust over everything. Even the water from the water tanks was orange this morning. I took some photos for the next blog.

    Sake is quite simple to make, and you are on the money with your approach. However, it can only be made at times of the year when you can guarantee that the mash (rice / yeast mix) doesn’t get past 20’C. It really is that simple, and then the resulting sake has to be refrigerated. The thing is the alcohol content is low, like beers and ciders, so if the temperature rises past 20’C for a period of time, acetobacterium takes over and produces acetic acid. Not nice.

    I have heard that about the cheaper Chinese off grid inverters – and you may note that I use an Australian manufactured inverter. Regardless, you really don’t need a lot of electricity to get by and live a good life. The flip side of that story shows how epicly wasteful our society is.



  36. Hi Claire,

    Thanks, and um, it really gets down to understanding how electricity works from a whole system perspective. That was the tiny little gem of understanding I was trying to convey to the folks in the story by giving them a starting point for their journey which they themselves have long delayed. I don’t know how effective I was at that act, but sometimes you just have to try.

    Most people understand electricity from the perspective of their own end use, and any micro grids that are ever possibly formed in the future will be gamed by the heaviest user, and so they may not last long. The indigenous folks down here have a belief that their souls are in peril if they do not look after what is known as ‘country’. The concept doesn’t really translate well into English for good reasons, but one aspect of that thought from my Western perspective, is that a community is only ever as good as the weakest link. It is a pretty heavy concept, but I do not doubt the veracity of the claim, if only because it fits what is required for a sustainable culture. Yeats spoke and hinted at this in his poem ‘Easter, 1916’. It’s a complex old world and he was a smart bloke.

    Oh yeah! Absolutely! I hear you. Firewood is an incredibly complicated fuel source, so there is no disagreement from me. You may recall that a few years back now, I burned out the steel in the combustion chamber of the earlier firebox due to using rubbish firewood. That act alone sent me on a long journey of discovery and learning but also I changed utterly, and so here I am today, older and perhaps a touch wiser – and I treat the new firewood box (our only source of winter heat) – with kid gloves and feed the beast only the best.

    Good luck with your order! 🙂 I note that the climate seems to ignore our fondest wishes.

    A chunk of my only Black Locust tree fell off in the wind today. Always a fun occasion due to the serious thorns.



  37. Hi Pam,

    Thank you very much for the guidelines, and I cannot argue with the veracity of your observation. As far as I understand things, we cannot control – or even seek to control – the responses we elicit out of other people by our thoughts and actions in the world. It seems to be a fools errand to me to attempt to do so, although many cultures and people make the attempt. I disagree with their goals. However, there are social rules which we have to abide by for the good of all, and those are a good idea. But I really don’t know where the middle ground exists, but your guide is the best that I’ve heard so far.

    The ‘Wrong One’ was me just indulging my warped sense of humour, and also a bit of word playfulness. Words are a fascinating tool that us humans have developed.

    You and Lewis are too nice to consider such a possibility. I’m a bit harsher, and felt that if the lovely couple had seriously wanted to grapple with the problem which they independently raised with both the editor and I, they would have hung around. It is possible that for them the problem was of less significance than my interpretation of the story. Whingeing is a much easier and more comfortable path for some folks. And I must say, the editor and I have not always agreed on things – which is entirely healthy – but we always maintain a united front in public, and if there are disagreements we either accept them and move on, or sort them out.

    It’s: It’s raining mud, hallelujah
    It’s raining mud, every specimen
    blah, blah, blah.
    You might get the reference. Anyway, a dust storm moved ahead of the storm front last evening, and so it actually rained mud over the farm. Red mud from the centre of the continent ended up everywhere. Lewis is gonna love this story… I had an orange mud coloured bath this morning. Would people pay for such things? Probably not.

    Composted woody mulch is the biz. Nothing feeds trees faster and better than that stuff. I recommend it. Do you know when the nice electricity company came through a few weeks back, they left piles of woody mulch at other peoples properties around here. I see these piles all over the place, and you know what? Every time I see the piles I think to myself: I would have dealt with that pile by now.

    Spigots are good, especially when you want to empty a boiler full of hot water. I’d be pretty sure that they are not difficult to add onto an existing boiler. Your son, if he chooses to accept this mission… Don’t put it too close to the bottom or the seal won’t work. And get a stainless steel spigot for a stainless steel pot. #justsayin.

    Me too! There are even a few green tomatoes now. What a season! Hopefully, I can focus more on the plants next growing season. The main learning thing this winter will be seed raising.

    The roses are doing very nicely, and I chucked on the last of the rose fertiliser pellets last evening before the rain set in.

    I really don’t know the answer to that question. I try to leave the bottle brush flowers on the tree because the Honey Eaters adore the flowers. It’s complicated.



  38. @ Pam
    Springs at the bottom make sense, Springs high up don’t. At least that’s how I see it. All the ones that I have encountered have been up hills.


  39. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, I’m happy for the rain too, and almost an inch fell between beginning to type a reply to you last evening and now. Good stuff huh? Still, the rain was a bit odd. Now you may recall that last week we were speaking of the awful matter as to how ancient buildings ended up under ground? Our timing for the discussion could not have been finer (you knew for sure!!!!!), but the clouds last evening were a strange orange colour, and then the rain delivered a huge quantity of red / orange dust from the centre of this hot old continent. This morning there was red mud everywhere, and the stuff had even managed to get into the water tanks. So, when I filled up the bath this morning, the water was a very murky red-ish hue. Last week there was smoke tasting water, this week mud tasting water. All part of the interesting experience that is living here. I took some photos of the mud too, because it was just so weird.

    But here is how it looked like in Melbourne: Brown rain falls in Victoria as dust storm and rain clouds collide.

    I have no doubts at all now that in another millennia, the hanging terraced gardens of Cherokee will be under a thick crusting of some sort of mineral / organic matter. I guess I better get digging again soon and give those future folks something else to wonder about. I wonder what future archaeologists will think about what they find here from this time period?

    Yes, people up north still refer to the two distinct seasons they enjoy as delineated by wet / dry seasons. ‘Wet’ is the exact word that is used for the monsoonal rainfall up there (but not down here). Do you hear that word used in your part of the world?

    The water tanks are rapidly filling up, as we tend to collect far more water than we use. All the same I may add in an additional two water tanks over the next couple of months. You can never be too sure as to how any summer season will go, and best to have too much water stored, than not enough. Believe it or not, it was only 10 months ago that we were down to 25kL / 6,000 gallons.

    Bill and Ted’s excellent adventure also followed that story-line. As the story went, electronic records were wiped out, and so in the future those two stoners filled in the details, courtesy of a time-machine (which they controlled). An intriguing and also highly amusing proposition. I may read ‘Earth Abides’ next after finishing ‘The Eagle’. I feel that in order to psychologically remove my brain from the Dark Ages legend, I might have to travel into the future. There are so many books piled up in the ‘to-read’ collection that I may put the stack up for discussion on the blog and just let you lovely people guide my reading path. Seems like a good idea to me.

    There has been talk today of getting a new dog in order to assist with the rabbit dilemma. Not sure, but with only three dogs, the patterns just don’t seem right…

    Respect. And yes, some standards must be maintained even under fire. Hey, I really liked your dad’s observation. Good stuff. The editor used to be a bit finicky about coffee, and I made a similar observation to her. And to my surprise she took the comment on board and just learned to accept the inconsistencies of quality in relation to coffee. Mind you, that was a long time ago, and it is quite easy to get quality coffee down here in very out of the way places.

    Speaking of coffee, I did a mad dash around the farm yesterday with what must have been 220 pounds of coffee grounds. The fruit trees in the orchards love the stuff, and you know I never see any coffee grounds sitting around the orchards. I understand what minerals the stuff provides, but as to the mechanics of how it disappears into the soil, well it’s a complete mystery to me. Even during hot and dry spells like I just endured, the stuff disappears. Something is consuming it, although I have no idea what it is. I’m considering getting a little tow behind manure spreader trailer for the low centre of gravity mower. And what is of considerable interest is that the ground cover plants in both orchards have begun to green up after all this rain. Usually at this time of year, the ground cover plants are very dry and crispy, but I’m really interested to see how quickly they bounced back this time.

    I reckon you are spot on about the observation as to where your dad picked up that bit of wisdom regarding coffee. I believe coffee rations were supplied to your WWII armed forces. Thus the ‘Joe’ reference. Other countries armed forces apparently supplied other consumables. Incidentally I have eaten an army ration pack whilst on bivouac with cadets in school. The food products were err, interesting and noticeably not subject to perishing, but I noted that nobody starved during the days out in the bush. I quite enjoyed such activities, but not everyone did. Army chocolate is a strange food item.

    Ooo! That is a premium tea. Respect, and I was ooo-ing and ahh-ing over the talk in the product description about using top grade bergamot oils. Which I believe is a citrus product as distinct from the bergamot plant which I believe is a honey-suckle plant. Before I knew that, I always wondered how the heck did they get enough oils out of the flowers (as distinct from the citrus) to produce all of the Earl Grey Tea. Need I also add that this was a favourite drink of Captain Picard? Damo is probably watching the first episode this evening.

    I had not realised that Mordred was the possible son of Arthur. I have read reviews of the Camulod series of books which make the fascinating claim that the series presents Mordred as a sympathetic character. I am very curious to see how the story plays out. Arthur was mooning around wasn’t he? As the King I would have said to him: “Cheer up mate. Don’t look so glum. There’s plenty more fish in the seas”. I mean, he is the King after all. For us mere mortals, things are perhaps otherwise.

    I note the death toll from the coronavirus is escalating.

    Yeah, I was a bit horrified to discover how many different varieties of the juniper plant were around. I got mine from the local gardening club and I’m just hoping they knew what they were doing.

    As it is greening up at this odd time of year, I probably should plant some more oaks. Hmm.



  40. Yo, Chris – That was quit an article about the rain of mud. Yarra River looks like it’s chocolate milk! Give it a millennia and everything at your place, rock gabions, stairways, etc., will all end up at the bottom of your paddock. Dark age past, dark age future … it’s all the same :-).

    I’m up to 5/#4, in “The Eagle.” Nope. We just generally call it “rain”, here 🙂 . But, half a century ago, or so, I read your most excellent Mr. Shute’s book, “The Wet.” Kind of a sci-fi story. I seem to remember a sci-fi story, or two (short stories, different authors), also exploring the idea of, what if The Wet just never stopped?

    Well, I’m sure micro beasties, in the soil just eat the grounds and poop out the nutrients. I’m always amazed when I bury a bag of kitchen scraps, which leaves a small mound. A few days later, and it’s a depression.

    Quit a few years ago, when I decided to stop drinking coffee at home, I started checking out different brands of tea. I wanted a good green. “Good” meaning what I thought green tea should taste like, with no weird flavor additives. After a bit of trial and a lot of error, I finally stumbled on Stash’s “Premium Green.”

    Depending on which King Arthur narrative, you read, Mordred’s relationship to Arthur, slides all over the place. It will be interesting to see what Wyatt decides to make of him.

    Well, things may be greening up, but, who knows what the weather has up it’s sleeve? We haven’t had a frost in about a week and a half, and I had the odd thought the other day, that, what if that was the last frost of the year? That would be very, very odd.

    Well, another kitchen adventure, last night. Usually, when I make hummus, it’s just garbanzo beans, garlic, a bit of olive oil and lemon juice. Pretty tasty. Well, in our food boxes was a jar of tahini. Which I’d never used, before, as it’s so expensive. So, I decided to make “real” hummus, last night. LOL, even though the jar’s plastic seal was intact, some of the oil had managed to leak out. So, it’s wrapped in paper towels, and popped in a plastic bag. Getting the stuff to blend, was more laborious than any peanut butter, I’ve run across. But, I just kept at it, telling myself, “it’s expensive, it was free.” The final result was rather … underwhelming. I think I could get pretty close to the same taste by using … a good brand of peanut butter. I’ll have to look into what else I can do with tahini. Lew

  41. Chris,

    I can imagine living in tents throughout cold and snowy winters. I’ve camped in snow caves while cross country skiing in the back country, and in tents in the snow during December hunting trips. So, I can imagine the hardships my dad’s family went through. It’s not a pretty or comforting thing to imagine. Doing this willingly for a few days at a time is one thing, but indefinitely? Not so fun.

    Our cycle of jokes? Round and round and round it goes, where it stops nobody knows.

    Agreed. Meaning and fulfillment are hard concepts to get a handle on. Maybe they’re like happiness, which I think is something that is a byproduct of who you are and what you do and how you live. Having a purpose? Yes, THAT is something that is possible to diagnose, to define, to articulate, to make a part of oneself. Working with/in/toward one’s purpose, maybe that provides meaning and can be fulfilling and bring happiness?

    I bring happiness into the mix because we are bombarded with books and seminars and ad nauseums on how to be happy. A new employee (middle aged) belongs to a (to me very strange) Buddhist group that is international and which teaches its adherents to seek to be happy all the time. That, to me, is a very ephemeral goal, seeking a feeling rather than learning how to cope, adapt, improve oneself and one’s character. Let’s just say that said employee’s life appears to be a mess and said employee cannot cope with the mildest difficulty.

    Oh, and I also speak from experience: the version of the predominant religion hereabouts that I was taught was big on “happiness” and small on reality, meaning that many of us were, ummm, characters but lacking character. And as you mentioned, one never knows when some bad stuff or other challenge will pop up and challenge my happiness or equanimity or what have you. If being happy or fulfilled or filled with meaning is the goal, well, then there’s likely a lack of ability to adapt to the vagaries that entropy regularly delivers.

    The bard’s work? Apparently it has been translated into every language except one: Vogon.

    I wonder something. You squooshed the spiders. If you squooshed some bananas and added a lot of squooshed spiders, what would it taste like? Maybe “chicken banana”, as everything tastes like chicken? Not that I’m advocating trying that, mind you, as I doubt I could willingly choke down some spiders, but idle curiosity and inquiring minds and all that.

    Perhaps your tree stumps can’t break down well. It takes a lot of moisture to create the rot that tends to break down stumps in this general region. Wouldn’t the added oil of the eucalyptus trees sort of resist soaking up moisture into the stumps? I can’t recall ever seeing decaying sagebrush, which is oily, the branches just eventually dry out due to the desert sun and powder away.

    Those tiny wildflowers look very similar to wildflowers we get here. Never have learned their name, though.


  42. Chris:

    No, I don’t get the reference, but I’ll bet it is from a song from some obscure band . . . 🙂

    It doesn’t get much more interesting than brown rain; I enjoyed the “Victoria” link. With the mud pack that you got in your bathtub just think of all the new minerals that may have rained in. All over the whole area, in fact. For free, no money down.


  43. @Pam re uphill springs

    Sometimes the water from springs on top of hills has travelled through gravel above an impermeable layer from a yet higher area of land and the hill is just the point where the water met a fracture which let it run out (so effectively, gravity is pushing the water through a ‘tube’ of gravel from a higher area).

    Alternatively, if the water ends up getting heated underground, that pressurises the water – the pressure can sometimes push the water up a fracture to the top of a hill too.

    Finally, sometimes you get fossilised water which was in an aquifer which got trapped and then pressurised by rock folding and compression. Eventually, further earth movement pushes up a hill and creates a weak fracture point and woosh, the water shoots up out of the fracture for as long as the pressure lasts.

  44. @Chris,

    I understand those red soils are full of minerals and very fertile – sad for the areas that lost it but maybe a nice soil amendment for your place?

    We’ve been wanting to go help my in-laws whose beef farm got burnt out but someone stole our ute from our driveway. Hopefully it was just kids and we get it back so we can take a load of fencing down and put it up. It’s a good farm ute but doesn’t seem pretty enough to steal for profit. We live in a pretty dodgy area so these things happen. Luckily we mostly use public transport and scooting/cycling anyway so we don’t need it day to day.

    My mother-in-law came up to stay with us for a couple of days for some normality and she is very obviously still in shock – walks off distracted in the middle of conversations, glued to information about the fires, upset at people going to work like nothing is happening etc etc. She left after one night despite the roads being cut again – she plans to camp out at the road closures until she can get back through. ::shrug:: not really sure what to do – just let them talk about stuff I guess and offer help.

  45. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Yeah, no doubts about it – you know my sense of humour well! 🙂

    I’m excited about the mud, and the free minerals, was not a concept that was lost on me. Although I reckon we’ll put off washing the lighter shades of clothes for a while, and I’m particularly enjoying the mud baths – people apparently pay for such experiences. Who’d have thunk it? I put a huge quantity of the water through a large carbon filter we own (think for Copperhead Road purposes) and yeah, it tastes less like dusty desert water, but is still a bit murky looking. Oh well, what doesn’t kill you and all that business…

    I took some photos for the next blog. I have never seen such a thing before.



  46. Hi Tam,

    Thanks for your observations and the information regarding the springs. Slightly to the west of this mountain range is the largest area on the continent with mineral springs. I share a similar topography to that area, although there is less plateau here, and the mountain range is far older here than over there. But other than that, I have no idea what makes the springs work – and so I appreciate the information. Do you have a background in geology?

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your ute. Not good at all, and frankly it is a bit of a dog act. Insurance is a problem with an older vehicle – the dirt rat suzuki is insured for $2,900, so yeah getting a replacement for such a vehicle at that price would be a challenge as well as a serious dent to the bank account. Hmm, what do you, other than hope for the best, but expect the worst. Unless your vehicle has been turned into parts, it will turn up sooner or later.

    That’s not unexpected, and people can have all sorts of reactions and consequences long after the fires are forgotten. And yes, I have heard people tell me similar things after the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 about other unscathed people enjoying themselves in the aftermath. One such comment was directed at my good self, but you know I didn’t take it personally, and took the time to talk to the person once their emotional state had recovered slightly. Two words: Good luck. It ain’t easy. All you can do is be there for them, what else can you do?



  47. Hi DJ,

    I assume your dad had the older style heavy duty oiled canvas tent? Those tents were pretty good, but the ground leaches the heat regardless, and sometimes the oil on the tent abrades or washes away and the seams end up leaking a bit. Don’t laugh, but yurts are quite similar in some ways, but the elevated timber floors in those tents make all the difference. When the ground is frozen, there is little one can do to keep the insides of a tent warm, other than avoiding the ground in the first place. Thus why I constructed the house on 115 concrete stumps holding up an elevated timber floor. The ground has an occasional bad habit of getting overly warm here too over long hot summers. Why invite trouble into the house?

    Fair enough, you win with the circle jokes. Anyway, we just didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, and in fact we were ending up just where we started. I don’t get it… 🙂

    I’d rather be content than happy. I dunno about you, but the emotional state of happiness appears to be a transitory emotion that is hard to grasp a hold of and retain for any length of time, and I feel that it would be a foolish goal if pursued as a general state of being. In fact I have long held the belief that happiness is an extreme emotion which is ephemeral. Whereas contentment is a more quiet form of enjoyment. One can find contentment in pursuing one’s (and I speak in the third person form of that particular word) thing, whatever it may be which gives them a sense of purpose. The hard work that I do here creating this place brings me a sense of purpose and contentment, but I can’t in all honesty suggest that digging soil for six hours would make me happy. Sharing a meal with mates would make me happy, but one must also work in between the happy meals.

    Happiness on the other hand as a goal for a permanent state of being, (and I’d be curious as to your thoughts in the matter) looks to me like addicts attempting to chase the dragon – and so they lose themselves in the chase. Dunno. Regardless it is an exceptionally good goal if you want to waste peoples precious time.

    Years ago, a mate invited me to a party held at his brother’s remote house. It is in a nice location to the far west of here. It is remote, but the houses near to my mates brother’s place surround a Buddhist monastery, so the lives of the people there are entwined with the monastery. I’m a fairly upbeat and straight talking kind of guy, and candidly I found the Buddhist priests to be a rather humourless bunch that I struggled making connections with. Respect to the Buddha and all that, but I am of an earthier sort.

    Exactly, it’s an ephemeral goal, and I deem it to be not worthy of a person’s time. But if they want to spend their time doing that, I couldn’t care less. You are hinting at knowing the dark arts of resilience. It is funny that you mention those arts, but I told someone off the other day for not exhibiting them. A rare occurrence, but in a moment’s flash of insight I felt the person needed to hear what things looked like to me, and in the moment I felt that they had the capacity to cogitate upon their situation – and perhaps grow as a person. Dunno, it was a gamble doing that, but I do wish the person only the best, but could see the core as to why they were in retreat.

    On the other hand I am weak and cannot abide Vogon poetry. Save us!!!!

    Pah, spiders are eaten in many parts of the world, and I have seen deep fried spiders for sale at some exotic Asian locale or two. There is dark talk that the coronavirus was a possible result of someone consuming bats (which are carriers of the disease). If I recall my pandemics correctly, SARS was a result of either consuming or coming into contact with poultry blood, but I could well be wrong. At such times I recall the wise words of Bruce Willis in the film Food Inc, where he is giving advice about cooking meat. The advice went something along the lines of: All you have to do is cook the meat (not his exact words as there may have been an F bomb in there).

    Spot on, the tree stumps are dry as. I suspect the density of the timber means that the water cannot penetrate until insects eat their way in and create tunnels. And the boring insects enjoy damp timber rather than dry timber, so it takes them time.

    I had a few spare moments and so attempted to identify the small pink wildflower. I reckon it may be Wahlenergia Stricta or more commonly known as the Tall bluebell. We have an enormous variety of local wildflowers and orchids, but they are often small and easily walked past.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    The red soil from the central Australian desert has worked its way into my water supply, and so the water is continuing to be a fascinating and intriguing red / orange colour today. I assume that the tiny particles in the water supply will eventually settle. Maybe? That’s my hope anyway. Today, we chucked a huge batch of water into a carbon filter so as to remove the fine minerals for drinking purposes, and the result is good enough, but nothing like the crystal clear water which I’m used to consuming. The filter just didn’t remove all of the particles, so I suspect that they are very fine particles. I had a bath this evening after handling a trailer load of composted woody mulch, and the water was an unusual colour due to the mud/rain. Still, I feel clean enough. Lighter colour clothes may have to wait for a few days before we can get around to washing them. What a drama, however the situation is far preferable to not having water in the first place, and the plants have almost bounced out of the ground due to the extra water from the skies.

    DJ raised the awful spectre of the pursuit of the goal for happiness. Dunno about you, but I tend to feel that contentment is a more worthy (and frankly more possible) goal than seeking perpetual happiness. The Faerie Folk if asked to make a human happy for the rest of their life, would probably make the person happy for a while and then kill them. Such is the way with bargains with the Elder folk, and best not to get involved with their business and leave them well alone.

    Even the rocks are not safe from the passage of deep time. Ouch. And the muddy rain (plus the earlier smoke) this week proved to me that even soil minerals can move huge distances courtesy of nature.

    I see that a victim of the Pompeii eruption has had part of their brain turn into glass. I’d never heard of that happening before.

    Your comment ‘all the same’ makes me wonder whether you just made a circular joke? I’ve heard of those jokes somewhere around here. The Beatles said it best: They say you want a Revolution…

    I had no idea of the local author’s work (Nevil Shute), extent and reach. Wow, I must remedy this matter. Interestingly his books were not taught in school, which is something that seems a bit odd to me. We were down with ‘The catcher in the rye’ and ‘death of a salesman’ at school, but not much local content. Anyway, I loathed the character Holden Caulfield and the story repulsed me, but everyone else seemed really taken with the characters introspection and self-absorption. And I was forced to read it and not provide unwanted candid opinions.

    Oh, in breaking wombat news… ta-da-ta-da-ta-da… a href=”″>Rogue wombat ‘Mr Bat’ relocated to Cradle Mountain after pestering Longford residents. How cool are wombats? 🙂 I hope the poor wombat can adapt to wild conditions?

    That sounds about right to me about the soil critters dining upon the coffee grounds. And following on from that thought, I suspect that given the sheer quantity of coffee grounds that I’ve brought onto the farm over the years, I’ve bred up a substantial population of little critters that eat coffee grounds. It is amazing how quickly the stuff disappears – and it is most certainly not a windy place here.

    You might get a laugh out of this, but when we first purchased the property, there was very little top soil anywhere. The ground was hard baked clay, and rainfall rolled right off it. Anyway, one of the first things I did was to bring up all of the kitchen scraps, and I’d do exactly as you suggested, and buried the kitchen scraps in small shallow holes. Suddenly all of the wildlife began digging up the holes and consuming the kitchen scraps! I sort of figured that it was all cool because inevitably the wildlife probably had to go to the toilet somewhere around here. But yeah, like you mentioned, where the holes were undisturbed, the kitchen scraps broke down really quickly, and the more of the stuff I chucked on, the faster it broke down. It is amazing to observe as a process – and I reckon nothing beats raised garden beds for showing exactly how much soil goodies plants can eat during their growth phase. Wow, the soil stuff disappears. Around some of the largest trees on the farm, the soil level has decreased and the biggest trees which often have substantial buttressing, are sitting on ever so slightly elevated mounds.

    The Stash’s tea does sound pretty good. I enjoy a cup of tea about mid-morning if I’m doing desk work at home. Soothes the senses.

    Yeah, I’m enjoying the story, and young Lance has fallen under the spell of the accommodating and highly educated Elaine. They seem to be enjoying themselves!

    As to your observation about the climate, I could not agree with you more. I’m taking this crazy summer on a day by day basis, and am just hoping that we are having an early and prolonged autumn. As to your last frost for the year, my thinking is that you might see some very cold weather early February. That would be about the time I’d experience the worst of the worst of that sort of weather (if the seasons were suddenly upside down). But stranger things have happened, and climate weirding means that all bets are off and the watchword is: expect variability. Sorry, that’s two words…

    Tahini is good, and will elevate your hummus. It is good stuff and lasts a long time. And we tend to use chick peas rather than garbanzo beans, and a food processor with a sharp blade implement saves much mixing time. Give it a go with chick peas and you may taste some difference.



  49. @Chris

    No formal geological education, so don’t quote me – I just got a bit obsessed with subsurface water after reading Peter Andrew’s book on Natural Sequence Farming and hearing a talk about the dire effects of sandstone mining in the Mangrove Mountain springs recharge zone (the springs supply Gosford and parts of southern Sydney with tap water, not that that is important or anything).

    Also, if you have chickpeas on hand (or any other legume) and you get sick of muddy water, just noting that 1g of flour per 20L water works as a cheap, natural coagulant and flocculant as a pre-filtration step. It’ll help save your filters a bit too and apparently has some antimicrobial effects (probably also reverses ageing and makes your hair curly). Soaking liquid also works instead of the flour but the concentration can be a bit variable so that is more of a suck it and see situation.

  50. Hello again
    I really don’t see how the pursuit of happiness can be successful, it is an occasional gift. Enjoyed all the more for that reason. I agree that contentment is the thing.

    @ TamHob
    Great to have the information on springs though I remain puzzled by their continuous production. I lived once with a 5ft deep well as our only water source and it never went dry even during the driest summer and our serious usage of the water.


  51. Hi Chris,
    Wonderful news about the rain but raining mud I’m not so sure about.

    I saw you mentioned to Lew that you may read “Earth Abides”. It’s a favorite of mine and actually comforting in a way.

    One of my favorite teas is Rooibos. Our local coffee shop serves it and sells a tin of it as loose leaf. We have the greatest coffee shop and amazingly it’s actually making a go of itself. Our book club (the one that doesn’t read all that many books) meets there the 3rd Sunday of the month. They have regular open mic nights as well as other events. There’s always a table set up with a jig saw puzzle too. Speaking of jig saw puzzles I’ve taken up doing a couple during the winter again. I used to do them years ago before the internet was so prevalent. A few years ago I decided to do one and found I had a difficult time concentrating on it which alarmed me. Another side effect of too much time online I think. Anyway I’m getting better at them again. Already finished one and am half way through the 2nd one. I’ll pick up a couple for $1 each used from our library when they have their puzzle sale in the fall. Ahh the joys of being retired.

    We’ve been having some light snow the last couple of days which will last through mid day tomorrow. Right now it’s above freezing so what’s there is starting to melt. It’s been a pretty mild winter this year.


  52. @ Lew – you can use tahini as a spread on bread or toast, just as you would peanut butter. I dislike peanut butter but like tahini used this way very much.


  53. Yo, Chris – Time to hang out the shingle. “Fernglade Farm, Spa. Mud Baths on Tap.” Minerals do move around. Quit a bit of rain, hail, snow, etc., form around little bits of grit of one kind or another, in the atmosphere.

    Oh, I’m deliriously happy, all the time. Some might call it manic, but what do they know? :-). Now that I’m done pulling that leg, I’ll just say that I think any kind of intense emotion, is hard to maintain. Burns up a lot of calories, and can really exhaust one.

    Oh, I saw the headlines about the Pompeii eruption. Didn’t bother to read the articles. I figured someone was indulging in a bit of hyperbole. We all have a bit of silica, rattling around in our systems. Given enough heat, I suppose it would crystalize. I’ve learned to steer far, far away from any archaeological article that originates with the Express. And, sometimes, the Guardian isn’t much better. Pure click bait. I’ve seen many fossils, that are glass like. Wood, bone.

    Just to channel a bit of biblical turn of phrase, “From the Dark Age we came, and to the Dark Age we will return.” Done in sonorous voice over.

    Shute suffers from that dread affliction that strikes many writers and artists. Too popular among the peeps to be considered a “serious” writer, by the Literati. Not obscure and “difficult”, enough. Which is why those people, can be generally, ignored. “On the Beach” and a “Town Like Alice” are probably his two best known works, here. Just last month, my neighbor Eleanor, asked that I keep an eye out for “Alice.” She’d like to re-read it, again.

    The wombat is an advanced scout, for the invasion and conquest of the suburbs. I was going to see your wombat and raise you a Big Foot sighting, but a little deeper dig reveals it wasn’t as exciting as the headlines lead you to believe.

    There’s a mountain pass, up in NE Washington that’s pretty isolated, especially in winter. Sherman Pass. Well, a traffic cam caught … Big Foot. A bit of digging, finds that someone is having a bit of fun with that traffic cam. Over the years, other things have appeared on that cam. Battery lit Christmas trees, and inflatable aliens. No glass brains, as yet. 🙂

    Well, I’m glad Elaine came along. Lance was beginning to look like what we used to call, “a late bloomer.”

    Garbanzo beans and chick peas are the same thing. Which you probably knew, but forgot. I don’t know. To my taste (a purely individual thing), hummus, without tahini is … lighter. I’ve been known to mix plane yogurt, in my hummus, to replace the tahini. To my taste, makes it smoother, and has an added tang (as if the lemon juice weren’t enough.)

    From our “Just a Victim of Advertising,” department. For the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a bit of the bloat. Who knows from where. And seem to have my own self contained wind generator, gently pumping out air, from both ends. Nothing debilitating, but just a small, nagging irritation. So, I decided it was time to drag out the big guns. Yogurt.

    When I went to the cheap food store, the other day, there is was: “Wallaby Organic Aussie Greek Plain Lowfat Yogurt.” Reading the fine print on the container, I don’t think it’s come within thousands of miles of wallabies, Australia or Greeks. It also claims to be kosher, and, the container is recyclable. As much as that means these days. Ah, I see there’s a website. “What makes us Aussie.” That ought to be enlightening. 🙂 . I’ll investigate, that. Well, anyway, it’s got live beasties in it, which is what I probably need. It’s pretty tasty, too. Lew

  54. Chris,

    There were 2 tents. I know that they were canvas and were likely oiled. Dad and uncle had the one, their parents had the other, which was described as a “cabin tent”. Apparently that meant it had a wood floor and wood sides 2 or 3 feet tall. The cabin tent also had the wood cook stove in it, so at least there was a place that wasn’t frigid.

    Agreed, that entire joke cycle was just the two of us spinning our wheels.

    Yes, contentment is something that is there, that can remain. Happiness is an emotional state that is ephemeral, totally. It can feel good, and for some people the feeling seems to be addictive. I wasn’t necessarily happy having to move snow 6 times in 8 days, but I was content with the fact that I was able to do it and that it got done. And I got to be outside and observe the crows and hawks and such. And something was accomplished. As you said, there was a purpose that was pursued.

    Speaking from personal experience, that weird church had us seeking what could be described as “mystical bliss”, and happiness. (Mr. Greer would likely say that it was unbalanced to the “solar” side.) Anyhow, your statement “Happiness on the other hand as a goal for a permanent state of being, looks to me like addicts attempting to chase the dragon – and so they lose themselves in the chase.” is very astute and spot on. The happiness and bliss were very intoxicating and extremely addictive. And impractical as to life in general. Bad feelings on the other extreme occurred if someone popped my “happiness bubble”. But there was no foundation on which to do my life, it was simply seeking that ephemeral, addictive feeling. And there was a very large detachment from reality, as well as a total lack of resilience leading to being a brittle person. So, yes, you nailed it.

    With 3 decades away from that, and finally having learned how to properly think and process things, I recognize that I must keep myself firmly grounded in what I’m doing, spend a lot of time with nature, think about and do practical things. If not careful, I can feel myself drifting into what I call that “mystic state” of trying to be happy. Fortunately, I know what types of activities I simply cannot do, and have learned, or am learning, how to remain aware of myself and feelings so that I can take steps to avoid getting sucked back into that addictive trap. Resilience is a welcome byproduct of what I’m doing now.

    I was totally reminded of resilience and adaptation again today at the job. Someone is Very Unhappy and Angry about being told to continue doing the lower level job that was recently promoted out of. We’re drastically understaffed regarding clerical help in our group, so we’re in an “all hands on deck” mentality to help out until the positions are filled and the people are moderately competent. The Boss assigned me to help out as much as possible, as I’m one of two people remaining who know most everything. No big deal to me, but it is to the other. Adapt, I say, and just do it.

    Meanwhile, a young lady I sometimes see on the bus was visiting with me on this evening’s bus ride. She lived on the streets in various cities for several years. She’s trying to get her life together, relates well with her parents now, has a job. She was reassigned to a position that she doesn’t like, but is glad to be learning how to do something new and that she still has a job. And she will be going to 2 year college this spring, hoping to learn construction skills.

    The difference between her adaptability and contentment and willingness to work is in such stark contrast to the attitude of my coworker.

    Ah yes, the Great Philosopher Bruce Willis. I’m guessing his quote was along the lines of “All you have to do is cook the zarking meat.” See, another Douglas Adams word has a very practical use.

    I looked up that plant species you mentioned and think you may have found it.


  55. Hi Tam,

    Peter Andrews was an interesting guy and I read and own his book: “Back from the brink”. A lot of people are suggesting similar strategies, which basically amount to building top soil and getting more water back into the soil. Best to take the best advice as to what works from any and all sources. The thing that I have noticed over the years is that it is really hard to do those two activities (top soil building and getting water back into the soil) and generate a profit on a farm. Our economic arrangements are such that this is the outcome. However, those two activities are some of the most important activities that have to take place. It is a real dilemma, and I can only pursue those strategies because I don’t have to make a profit from the farm here. In fact, most of the activities here make little economic sense from my perspective, but from other different perspectives, they’re important activities. How will the story all end for our society, well probably quite badly to be frank, but eventually us humans will learn the hard way. It has always been thus.

    Thanks for the tip about the flour. I had not known that, but it makes sense.

    Haha! Now I know of your secret for your ring of power to halt ageing. 🙂 From what I have observed of people over the years, people who consume lots of plant matter derived from their gardens often have excellent skin – and who knows what lies beneath the surface, but it would not surprise me to know that the benefits are not just skin deep.



  56. Hi Pam,

    Wombats are cool. There are few if any fences here, and at nights the wombats happily roam around the orchard cropping the ground cover plants, and providing their square shaped nuggets of fertility. Ollie occasionally consumes those nuggets, which is a bit dirty really. At such times Ollie may excitedly bounce up to me, and I catch a whiff of his breath, and recoil at the horror of his dietary choices. It doesn’t smell fresh. Think of the adventurous skunk: Pepe Le Pew!



  57. Hi Inge,

    Oh yeah, your description totally elucidates exactly what I was trying to grasp. A person feels happiness every now and then, and that is a gift (nice choice of words by the way and the concept is clear from hindsight). And the contrast of that feeling of happiness with the more everyday feelings that accompany this thing called life, is what provides the sweetness of the feelings. I have long noted that people can adapt to a new normal, it seems to be one of the things that our species can do well.

    Anyway, if a person felt such way all the time, well it would seem like a demented sort of state of being to me. And possibly end up not so well for them. I have no idea why such a state of being of continually happy, would even be considered desirable. It is one of those things that is entirely lost on me. A few years ago I was at a workplace and I had to go to the toilet. In the cubicle next to me there was a guy laughing uncontrollably, and I’d never previously encountered someone with that affliction, but I was later to understand that it was an affliction – that you wouldn’t want.

    It was an almost perfect summer’s day today down here. The air was still and the sun wasn’t too hot. And the plants are growing due to the recent rains. Firewood tomorrow!



  58. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, the rain was well received, but the mud was just strange. This was an entirely new weather event for me. I’ve been direct hit by a tornado in the past, and have even been direct hit by a super cell in Melbourne, but raining red desert mud was just odd. It does seem to be settling down now in our water supply. The water pump will suck it out of the water tanks, so I guess I’ll be seeing the mud for a while to come, but eventually the water will become clear again. It may have been foresight or foolishness, I’m unsure, but I got the plumbers to put in the outlets for the valves on the water tanks really low, and so the water pump pulls out the organic matter in the tanks and keeps them clean. Otherwise a layer of err, gunk, can build up in the bottom of water tanks.

    You’ve almost convinced me to read that book next, and the title of the book hints at your comfort. Abides is a lovely word, and people would do well to consider it. People tell me of their upset and concern about the climate, but what do they do about it – and how do they see themselves in that story? Difficult questions that rarely get considered.

    A mate of mine who is of South African origins, and who left these fine shores to pursue a career over the drink and in the land of New Zealand, introduced me to Rooibos tea. It is lovely stuff, plus I recall that Inge is a fan of Alexander McCall Smith who may have mentioned Rooibos in his many novels over the years. Incidentally, I recently lost another friend to that country. Friends are hard to come by to be able to send them over there so readily! 🙂

    Your coffee shop and book club sounds delightful. An open mic night is a great idea, and out of little acorns, big things can happen. I went to the green wizards group today and we had a lovely free ranging chat about the state of the world. Good stuff, and nice to chat with like minded folks.

    Puzzles and board games are making a comeback – and I have also enjoyed jigsaws over the years. The editor and I used to play board games against each other, but we got to this point where I’d destroy her in monopoly, and she would trounce the daylights out of me in scrabble. All good fun. It is crazy what gets thrown out in this here society, and I may have some news about that in the next fortnight as I may have scored something really epic, but until the eggs are laid and chicks are hatched (I’m speaking in metaphors here), it seems foolish to speak of the details.

    Can’t say that it has been a mild summer down here. Next Friday may reach 106’F, but it looks like it will be followed by rain, although I’m not sure yet. At least it doesn’t look very windy…



  59. Hi Lewis,

    One of the things I have noted about the recent epic bushfires is that people seem to have this fixed belief as to what nature should look like. I sometimes feel that this is at the heart of odd comments such as ‘we have to limit CO2 in the atmosphere to such and such a level’, except that at the heart of such a claim is a desire for power and control over something that is largely out of control. The world I have noted will do what she will. And so, I declare one day this week a day for international red rain day. Seems only fair given the gunk that got dumped here. 🙂 I’m voting for Monday, if only because I’m not much of a fan of Monday’s. However, this week Monday is a public holiday!!!! Some people call the day Australia Day, and others call it Invasion Day. I am unfussed either way, because it is a public holiday, although I have not been paid for public holidays in over a dozen years. Ah, the things that we don’t fight for can get taken away.

    I really do enjoy your droll sense of humour! Mate, I could not imagine you being manic. Like Repo man, it would surely be intense if it ever was to happen! The ladies had a rather curious method of treatment for hysteria way back in the day – well done them. Speaking of the ladies, a lady performer from your country has taken out the coveted award for number one song down here for last year. 3.2 million votes can’t be wrong, and I’d call those sorts of results statistically valid. I quite like the artist because she presents a less sexualised version of a female than what the music industry usually asks for, and she appears to be a nuanced and complicated person. Fancy that. The song incidentally was: Billie Eilish – bad guy. Good stuff.

    Oh no! I got totally sucked in by the brain-glass click-bait article. Shows what I know about such things, although I recall as a kid holding petrified wood that looked and felt like a glassy substance and then wondering about it. Thanks for the heads up and I will use greater caution in the future. In those days people ripped the glassy rocks out of the ground and sold them to tourists…

    Enjoyed the voice over. Do you know, years ago a mate said to me out of the blue, that his dad said to him a while back that in fifty years time we’ll all be living like they lived fifty years ago. My mate is a smart bloke, so he probably comes from a family of smarties. But yeah, I didn’t seek the opinion, and it was provided to me after having looked at the projects here, although it was a few years back now. I did rather enjoy your sonorous voice over attempt!

    Those two books are the ones that I am aware of from the author. It is a bit of a shame that people feel that way about success, but you know. If I discover Alice among the second hand bookshops I frequent, we might be able to sort something out. I’m a fan of the dusty bookshops that are stacked floor to ceiling with shelves and tables. And have you ever noticed that such places have a certain smell to them of dusty paper? Speaking of which, I may have to construct some doors for the library shelves here. Dust is a book killer.

    The wombat was amazing, but yeah, your explanation is as good as any! 🙂 Hopefully Simon Pegg was somehow involved with your Big Foot sightings? Wouldn’t that add spectacle and a sense of drama. It is bonkers just how many CCTV cameras are in operation all over the place.

    Lance was indeed a late bloomer. Yes, he was scared of pretty girls and starting conversations!!! Elaine was perhaps just what he needed, although I can see that he is flying to emotional extremes after the brief encounter. The kids would perhaps suggest in their lingo that he is feeling the feels. 🙂

    Really? Well, I have to fess up and say that I actually forgot the other name for Chick Peas. There’s a lot going on, and I’m not getting any younger!!! Hehe! Far out. I can understand your swapping with the plain yoghurt. Makes sense to me, and a lot of dips use yoghurt, so it would work. Tahini has a higher oil content – being derived from sesame seeds – than yoghurt, so yeah that sounds right to me.

    Most of the time I feel that I could eat the equivalent of a horse, but if I was to stop all the hard work, I’d probably have to tone it down a lot. The tahini gives a bit more energy to me in hummus. Which reminds me that I had an excellent tiramisu for lunch today. Yup the hardships and all that, because the green wizards group met up again today to discuss the general state of the world. It is good fun, and the discussions are quite free-wheeling. We spoke quite a bit about electricity and living standards, and I mentioned your comment about living without electricity being a distinct possibility. It’s a complicated subject that one.

    Go the yoghurt to get your gut flora and fauna back and working again. Activated charcoal may also be your friend in this instance – and make it nicer for other people who may or may not be around you. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, but I’d have to say that at least you know what a wallaby is, and could possibly point to a line up of marsupials and point one out of the line. As a hint it would be the tree wrecking one, that’s a bit browner with a bandit line on its face, and is slightly smaller than the forest grey kangaroos that everyone seems to know. 🙂 Be careful the yoghurt doesn’t deliver wallabies to your garden – you may not enjoy the experience! 🙂 Interestingly the whey also has proteins in it, but I applaud the goals of the business. If the bloat continues for a few days after yoghurt and activated charcoal, I’d get it checked out. I had a tummy bug just after Christmas and it was not fun at all but I kept away from antibiotics as there is little point wiping out the good guys as well as the bad guys if you’re not on deaths door.



  60. Hi DJ,

    The cabin tent sounds positively luxurious when compared to the more normal canvas tent in such conditions. When I was very young I heard stories that people used to make their kids sleep on the verandas as it was felt that the fresh air would have exposed them to less disease risk. Over the years I’ve seen a few startling things that leads me to believe that the gains of germ theory may be lost in the future if ever something unfortunate were to happen.

    The wheels sure are spinning, but my brain felt as if it was somehow constricted by a loop.

    Exactly, your snow work was for a good outcome. Nobody in their right minds could be ecstatically happy doing such work, but I hear you, there is contentment upon completion of the job knowing that it was done and done well.

    Mr Greer might be onto something with his observation, as I dare not mention this because I’m not joking this time (and please excuse the unintentional pun) a person should aim to be more rounded. It is not possible to be happy all of the time, and so as a goal it serves the purpose of leaving you exposed to feelings of being unfulfilled, and then some nice person comes along and proposes that they have an answer for you for that problem – although it might cost you. A lot of advertising pushes those sorts of buttons too.

    It is interesting you mention your story, but it is sort of like people seeking to attain high levels of self-confidence, but without the structures behind such an edifice so that it is supported with substance. Dunno about you, but I reckon such a state takes hard work, guidance and an ability to absorb life lessons, but I am perhaps in a minority and unpopular point of view about such matters.

    Addiction is like that, and I reckon nobody ever really knows what their weakness will be, and I tend to feel that moderation is perhaps the antidote to experiencing the darker side of that story.

    Good to hear that you’ve built resilience. I had a different experience and as a kid I was not able to rely on adults for support and so just had to fumble around and sort my own business out, but in the process I learned a whole bunch of useful lessons via the hard way of failing… Oh well, what doesn’t kill us and all that business.

    Well yeah, the young lady in question is highlighting that the flip side of crisis is opportunity and growth. Too cushy and things can easily sour. Hey, the Chinese have a saying about Empires going up in hobnailed boots, and coming down again in silk slippers. That speaks to that particular story too.

    I hear you anyway. I work solely with small business nowadays and have a do what has to be done mentality. I enjoy the atmosphere and challenges and it’s like finding ‘my people’ there. I can’t say that I’ve heard people there griping about not wanting to do a task because it was considered to be a lower level task. I suspect that such an attitude might not work in such an environment. 🙂

    Haha! You knew the quote – it’s a goodie isn’t it. But I tend to feel that systems that begin with the premise: ‘Let’s assume nothing goes wrong’, might be in for unexpected surprises. That point was raised in the film, but the over riding advice was still the same. Cook the meat is an expression we use as a bit of a joke.

    I’ve a got a book containing many of the local wildflowers and it is very good for identification. I’m amazed at the variety of orchids that just pop up about the place. It’s slowly greening up again after all of the recent rain, but next Friday looks set to reach 41’C, but then some rain. Yay for us.



  61. @ Margaret:

    About 10 or 15 years ago I used to love doing jigsaw puzzles. I hope they are buried in a closet. Thanks for reminding me.


  62. Yo, Chris – And, from our “It Could Have Been Worse,” Department … Which reminds me. I think, from time to time, I’d like to see this film, again. Clip is about 4 minutes.

    Hmmm. I seem to remember a fairly recent movie, a period piece (aka: costume drama), about that treatment for female hysteria. And, the quack doctor that developed it, and raked in the bucks. There’s a similar treatment for men, you know? :-).

    And, from our “Sonorous Voice Over” Department … “In a World…” Which, by the way, was a pretty good film. Gosh, we’ve got a lot of departments, around here. Layers of management.

    With luck, the new “Zombieland” movie, will be waiting at the library for me, today. So, I’ll give “The Eagle”, a rest. I’m up to chapter 6/#1. Lance is about to put on his traveling shoes (armor?), again. By the way, I discovered last night that Tommy Chong is in the “Colors Out of Space” film. I guess he plays a wise old, living off the grid, stoner dude. Type casting?

    Yup. If you cut back on all the hard work, without cutting back on the calorie intake, you’ll wind up rolling down to the bottom of the paddock, along with everything else. But in a much, much narrower time frame.

    I’m glad you were able to slip away for a Green Wizard, meeting. All work and no play, etc. etc.. Yup. I imagine a cozy cabin, wood fire and reading by the light of a flickering oil lamp. Wait a minute … where did the oil in that lamp come from? Edit that to, reading by the light of a flickering bee’s wax candle.

    Yup. I could pick that wallaby out of a line up. “It’s him! The one with the roses on his breath!”

    I checked out the “Aussie” yoghurt, web site. Their FAQ’s, were interesting. A typical (if sad) tale. Young couple visited Australia and thought the yoghurt was really good. Retuned home, launched a small artisanal yoghurt company and were successful. Bought out by a huge, multi-national (Damon) and were able to retire to Australia (that last bit is a maybe). The heavy corporate hand, can be seen, here and there, in the FAQ’s. “Can’t answer that … proprietary information.”

    Americans! First they rip off your yoghurt, and then they steal the top spot on your hit parade! Invasion Day, indeed. Lew

  63. @Inge

    I think it depends on the relative size of the aquifer that feeds your well. They can be very large so even your peak useage might be the equivalent of draining a swimming pool with a straw.

  64. Hi Chris,

    Well, we do have a small dishwasher in the current house. I consider it borderline useless, and the owner was very shocked when I said we never use the thing.

    Your story of accommodation long past in the flat with a communal laundry is a bit grim. Didn’t a character in fight club hit up laundries for free clothes and sell them at a op-shop across the road? Maybe one of your good citizen neighbours came up with the same idea…

    I don’t really have any horror stories myself. One house did get condemned, a 120 year old workers cottage in Brisbane, complete with outdoor toilet. But Mrs Damo and I thought it was fine, and the rent was *cheap* 🙂 Truth was, it probably would have fallen down in the next few years – there was a lot of termite action happening!

    Picard feedback: He’d dead Jim. /rant deleted/


  65. @marg

    I got my copy of “Biggest Estate on Earth” from book depository for $30 including postage.

    I also loved Earth Abides. Mrs Damo didn’t like it as much, she enjoyed it, but was unhappy with the choices of the main characters. I agreed with her, but loved the book just the same and felt in the scenario as presented in the novel, it was a realistic play of events.


  66. Hi Lewis,

    Well that film was a new one for me. It’s got a great cast (not limited to the countless frogs), and oh boy do they lead complicated lives or what? Makes my occasional gripe seem like small change. I’ve noticed that stories about New York City (which this film is not referring to) tend to produce mildly neurotic characters, and I have long since wondered whether that was due to nature deficit disorder? Dunno. The short video clip with all of the frogs raining out of the sky looked really, err, real. It does make me wonder what the characters were hoping to find in their self absorption? I realise the Star Trek franchise is but wishful thinking – but at least the stories look outwards and produce a sense of wonder as to what the characters may find there. Of course I do acknowledge that the stories are limited by the nature of the writers, but still. I notice that Damo is noticeably quiet after his encounter with the new Patrick Stewart led Picard story.

    No, I had not known that such a treatment was taking place back in the day. Weren’t our ancestors up to some naughty business? 🙂 A mate’s dad once proffered the opinion out of the blue that every generation believes that they were the first to discover sex. He was a well read bloke that one.

    It may surprise you that there are apparently 13 film trailers that include the words: “In a World…” For the purposes of correctness, I will list the films here, and then following the list I will make a guess as to which film it was that you referred to:
    – The Road Warrior (1981);
    – Goodfellas (1990);
    – Alien 3 (1992);
    – Heavenly Creatures (1994);
    – The Glass Shield (1994);
    – Angels and Insects (1995);
    – Ransom (1996);
    – BASEketball (1998);
    – Jakob the Liar (1999);
    – South Park: Bigger, Longer, & Uncut (1999);
    – Planet of the Apes (2001);
    – Comedian (2002);
    – Knights of Badassdom (2013);
    – Streets of Fire (1984);
    – Predator (1987);
    – Cyborg (1989);
    – Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000).

    Now, I’d like to suggest that you were referring to the South Park film, but you haven’t mentioned those guys before so we can safely discount that option. Then for some reason Predator and Alien 3 jumps into my awareness, and we did speak about William Paxton the American actor who was killed on screen by both those two and a Terminator – he probably needed it – but I don’t reckon you were referring to either of those films.

    Far out, what a decision I have to make here. Honestly you have put me on the spot in a spontaneous how well do I know Lewis quiz quest. So as a film quote once remarked that there can be only one, I’ll pick: Knights of Badassdom, oh no, maybe Mad Max (that’s two guesses by the way). Not sure why I went with that choice, but I await your ‘confirmation’ or ‘don’t know nuffin anywhoo reply’! 🙂 I’m now walking on eggshells and a tight rope. Hehe!

    You are now miles ahead of me in The Eagle so I appreciate the break, and look forward to reading your thoughts on Zombieland II Double Tap. However, know that Woody can do little wrong in my eyes…

    Glad to hear that Tommy Chong is still with us. Respect to both of them for keeping us all entertained with their amusing antics over the years. And yes, actors probably do have to play to their strengths.

    Absolutely about the calories. Mind you we hauled firewood for over four hours this morning with minimal breaks all by hand. After about the third hour I could feel my body running out of short term energy so a couple of Anzac biscuits up my guts and I was back into it. There may also have been a lamington later in the day with my afternoon coffee. But yeah, if I stopped the hard work I’d be a total bubble guts. Fortunately there are many projects on the drawing board. Hey, we finished filling the secondary firewood shed and the bay next to the house today. That is it for firewood for this season. Yay. The old timers weren’t kidding around when they remarked that firewood warmed a person several times over. I intend to grab some cross cut saws over the next year or so. They seem like a good idea to have ready to hand, and quality and sharp saws can cut thick firewood as fast as a chainsaw.

    Haha! I have a few sources of vegetable oils, and olives grow really well here. One job that needs doing is moving the many olive trees into a nice neat grid format that most people seem to prefer. I’ve got a lot of olive trees, but some of them are growing in the wrong location. My mates of the big shed fame actually bought a few truck loads of olive trees that were being – get this – bulldozed. And the trees transplanted really well.

    Ten out of ten for picking the right marsupial from the line up. The nose knows! 🙂

    I have no idea how artisanal products survive take over by big corporates. It takes a huge product margin to pay for a head office and all that that entails plus returns to shareholders. The story makes little sense to me, but depending on market conditions and timing, the product might be better than the alternatives.

    People actually are saying the ‘invasion day’ story, so yeah, that is what is being aired. The Camulod story has shown me in no uncertain terms that people exceeding their resource base will seek finer pastures. Things must have been bad up in Northern Europe for those folks to see Britain as the land of milk and honey.



  67. Chris:

    If a person was happy all the time, how would he know he was happy? It takes contrasts to tell things apart.


  68. Yo, Chris – Falling Iguanas in Florida, and a locust plague in Kenya. Any day now, I expect the weather forecast to say something like, “Cloudy with a chance of biblical.”

    When I saw “Magnolia”, decades go, it was after my sojourn in S. California. Well, when they got to that part of the film, I was gob smacked. For about 15 seconds. Then I kind of thought, “Oh, yeah. S. California. Makes perfect sense.” I wonder if our library still has a copy, kicking around.

    Probably a touch of nature deficit disorder, but, more likely, overcrowding and stress. Bound to make anyone neurotic.

    As far as “Picard” goes, I’ve read the synopsis, and watched the trailers. I am underwhelmed. Also, CBS is doing their usual bate and switch. Stream a couple of episodes, for free, and then slap the rest of it behind a pay wall. I might take a look when the DVDs hit the library … or not. There’s plenty of other stuff to watch. I watched “Operation Finale” the other night. It’s the story of when the Masad, kidnapped and spirited Adolph Eichmann out of Argentina, to stand trial in Israel. Pretty engrossing.

    The film about female hysteria, is called “Hysteria.” Came out about 2012. As I remember, it was a fairly serious film, with only a bit of tongue in cheek.

    That’s an awful lot of work to find this …

    Quit amusing, as I recall, and it may have even been a rom-com.

    I watched “Zombieland: Double Tap,” tonight. Yup. Woody can do no wrong. It was a fun romp from beginning to end. But. There was a line that one of the characters tossed off. “I guess it’s time to tell Lenny, the truth about the bunnies.” That, was a literary reference. Had I been in a theatre, I might have jumped to my feet, and yelled. “Show of hands! How many of you caught the reference?” In this day and age, I’d expect … crickets. It’s from a book (?) / play by, I think, Steinbeck. “Of Mice and Men.” Back in the dark ages, it WAS taught in many an high school English class. Lightyears more interesting than “Catcher in the Rye.”

    Congrats on finishing this years firewood! But really, you should do something a bit more naughty, wicked or extravagant than a couple of Anzac biscuits and a lamington.

    My alarm clock died, today. Gee, lasted a whole year! That one was a wind-up. I think next time, I’ll go with a simple, electric plug in and see if it lasts longer. If my new phone, had an alarm function, like my old phone … Oh, well. Life on life’s terms. Lew

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