Virtual Kebab

The Global Financial Crisis was a fun time to sell a house. In Melbourne it is fashionable to sell a house by the process of public auction. There is not much more of a public display than for all of your neighbours to stand around the street whilst an auctioneer conducts a public auction for the sale of your house. Of course just to add to a persons misery, all of the neighbours had previously been right through the house poking their noses into every nook and cranny before the auction was held during the earlier ‘open house’.

The public auction turned into a humiliating defeat, and that was despite there being two interested parties present at the auction. Nobody actually made any bids on the house, I guess that was how things just rolled during the Global Financial Crisis.

We watched the public auction take place whilst we were out of sight of both the bidders and neighbours, but we could still hear the action. Excitement turned to trepidation, before trepidation rapidly turned to dismay as the results of the public auction became all too clear to everyone.

After the spectacle had died down, a few of the neighbours hung around and commiserated with us. The more sensitive and astute neighbours saw themselves in our circumstances, and so they kept their thoughts to themselves and mouthed platitudes that are to be expected in such a circumstance. One old biddy suggested that if we wanted to sell the house, all we had to do was knock half of it down and and add on an ensuite (a bathroom connected to the main bedroom), and according to her we’d do just fine. Like such a thing would be easy as. Thanks for the advice, and it may also have been the last time I spoke with her.

We’d bought the house eight years earlier. The house had originally been constructed in about 1890, but 110 years of continuous living can wear out a house. There was actually an old timer living in the house when we purchased it. Her kids had apparently decided to move her into a home, and then sell the house. It probably wasn’t a bad idea, especially given the house wasn’t much more than a brick shell with a good roof. I recall that the flooring in one room was held up by six layers of extraordinarily stinky damp carpet. In another room the timber floor was no more than a dark shadow on the underlying clay. The rear of the house containing a kitchen, laundry and bathroom had been constructed using packing crates. And the list of features went on and on.

The editor and I were fearless when confronted by the realities of the decrepit house, and we could see that that despite the general decay, the brick walls of the house were fine and the roof mostly kept the rain outside. So, we stripped the entire house, demolished the packing crate extension, and rebuilt a more modern (and to the building code) open plan extension at the rear of the house and basically repaired the entire house room by room to better than new condition. It took a lot of late nights and long weekends, and in the very early days of us living there, I recall that there was flooring in the hallway and one room and a single power point for the entire house – and that was it. However, eventually the house was repaired, restored and updated to the best of our abilities, and we decided to sell the house and move out to the bush and construct the house here. Unfortunately the house did not sell at the public auction.

Such public failure requires a bit of reflection and thought. There’s no point doing such heavy mind work on an empty stomach, so we headed off to one of the local cafes and availed ourselves of an emotionally settling coffee and cake. And we’d been through the full gamut of emotions that day, and so a coffee and cake settles jangled nerves.

On that particular day, the editor and I talked long into the night. Pizza and tiramisu may have been involved at one point.

It would be a common reaction to be daunted by such a public failure. It would actually be easy to give up when faced with the humiliation as our plans came to naught. However, into the wee hours of the morning we talked and chucked around various ideas as to how to sell the house during the Global Financial Crisis.

As the morning sun rose, we went to bed to get a few hours sleep, and then for the next week, we decluttered the house of excess furniture, painted several rooms a bland off-white colour, and installed built in cabinetry in some rooms. In the backyard we removed the garden shed and water tank so as to give the appearance of more space. Despite my misgivings, we installed a permanent clothes dryer and dishwasher.

The real estate agent hadn’t contacted us by the end of the first business day following the failed auction, so we sacked them and hired a new agent.

For a week, the work days were epic and way beyond what we would normally do. We’d get up in the early hours and just work on the house all day. Long after the sun fell below the horizon, we’d fall into bed exhausted. Despite being initially upset about the failure, we never took it to heart, and instead we decided to just fight it out.

After a week of that activity, the house was re-opened to the public and it sold. When I was a kid, adults used to say: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try, again. It was a catchy saying that one, and it speaks to the character trait of resilience.

However, the deeper insight that I took away from the experience was that the things that we place value on, were not the things that other people place value on. The colours that we had chosen for the walls in a few of the rooms was not to everyone’s taste. I see character and interest, and others I guess, want to fit in and blend. Where I saw a resource in the water tank, other people saw a giant chunk of plastic filling up space in an otherwise large garden. And where I saw unwanted luxuries in the form of a built in clothes dryer and dishwasher, other people saw necessity. I saw a structurally sound building, and other people just didn’t notice.

But I reckon the most painful part of the experience was putting our values out there in public and having the public find them to be wanting. Fortunately for us, we are resilient.

Red dust fell onto the farm during a storm

Wednesday night brought a storm which delivered some handy summer rain. Unfortunately the storm also dumped a whole lot of red dust from the centre of this hot and arid continent. The red dust has even gotten into our water supply, and we are now waiting for the dust in the water to settle.

The farm is not in a windy location, however the storm produced a few very strong wind gusts. One of those gusts of wind tore a branch off the Black Locust tree. The tree branches have some incredibly sharp spikes, and I am not looking forward to cutting the branch up.

A very spiky branch from this Black Locust tree fell during a recent summer storm

We continued adding layers of composted woody mulch onto the downhill side of the new path up above the house. As water gets into the composted woody mulch, fungi will work to bind all of the organic matter together. The binding actions of the fungi will help slow the movement of water during very serious storms which occasionally visit the farm.

More composted woody mulch was placed on the downhill side of the new path up above the house

I began the slow process of clearing unwanted plants from around the trunks of the several hundred fruit trees. One of the citrus trees succumbed recently to a disease known as ‘collar rot’, however I do not know whether I contributed to that disease by allowing some Borage family plants to grow next to the trunk of the fruit tree. I discovered that slaters (wood lice) were consuming the bark off the now ailing fruit tree.

The unwanted plants were cleared from around the trunk of this mandarin

We’ve finished storing away firewood for the year. This week, the secondary (smaller) firewood shed was filled. We estimate that it may be possible that we have two years worth of firewood stored under cover.

The secondary (smaller) firewood shed was filled this week. Ollie is impressed and looking forward to toasting his head in front of the wood box heater over winter

A full compliment of firewood, is like mad cash in the bank, but easier to get access to when living in the boondocks! The firewood bay next to the house was also filled.

The firewood bay next to the house is now full. Again Ollie is impressed!
Scritchy the elder is not impressed by the youthful Ollie
Toothy however is an individual – and he’s OK

During summer it can be a bit unnerving walking around the farm. A person has to keep an eye on where they place their feet, and the local reptiles are unnervingly and forever scuttling out of your way as they dive for cover.

A skink (the local gecko equivalent) cooks it’s head and body in the summer sun

Breakfast is a nice experience at this time of year because fresh forest berries are available in the garden.

Fresh forest berries for breakfast (although they come from the garden beds rather than the surrounding forest)

Last year the three kiwi fruit vines produced a single kiwi fruit. This year there are dozens of fruit hanging off the three vines. They’re not ripe yet, but the fruit still looks great.

Dozens of kiwi fruit hang off the three vines

Nectarines don’t grow well here. The humid and cool early spring weather means that the trees suffer from a fungus called ‘curly leaf. The fungus does what its name implies and the nectarine leaves curl and die. And then the tree has to produce a whole new set of leaves. Needless to say it, but due to the fungus these trees are really slow growing here.

A lone nectarine on this slow growing tree

The pumpkin vines are beginning to grow and spread. The largest vine has even begun producing fruit.

Pumpkins are beginning to form on the vines

A very reliable, but very old fashioned fruit is the medlar. We have a couple of the trees growing here, and the fruit makes a solid jam with a vegemite consistency, or a fine country wine. We tend to use the medlars to produce the fine country wine.

Medlar’s are an old fashioned fruit, and are great for turning into a fine country wine

We have a lot of Chilean guava plants, and they produce a huge number of very tasty (think lemonade) berries. The berries might make an amazingly tasty jam, but it is a lot of effort to pick the small berries, and so we eat them fresh.

Chilean Guavas are very tasty berries

The very first tomatoes were spotted the other day. Without doubt, this year may go down as the worst (and possibly latest) harvest of tomatoes that we have ever produced. Normally we would expect to harvest about 100kg (220 pounds) of tomatoes and then dehydrate them, produce passata (tomato sauce), and also tomato wine for cooking. This year we’ll be lucky to produce one fifth (20%) of a usual harvest due to the bonkers weather.

The very first tomatoes of the season

The globe artichokes are looking sensational, and they are almost ready to begin harvesting.

Globe artichokes are almost ready to harvest

Onto the flowers:

Passionflower is a really lovely flower. The fruit of this cold tolerant variety of passion-fruit vine is surprisingly not very tasty at all
Agapanthus produces hundreds of flowers and the bees and honey eaters enjoy the nectar at an otherwise really hot time of the year
The herb oregano grows like a proverbial weed here. And the flowers are lovely
Fennel is another super hardy and reliable plant. The leaves taste like licorice
Buddleia produces some nice flowers out of an otherwise innocuous plant
An interesting combination of plants. Lavender is now self seeding here
The roses are bouncing back after the recent wallaby smash and grab raid
A very out of season Rhododenron
The Hydrangeas responded well to the recent rains

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 19’C (66’F). So far this year there has been 98.6mm (3.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 58.6mm (2.3 inches) .

77 thoughts on “Virtual Kebab”

  1. Chris,

    Most people don’t get enough time in nature or enough fresh air, which to me means we get to germ indoors, as the indoors is not adequately aired out on a regular basis. Then, between some people never washing their hands in public washrooms and others trying to kill off all bacteria everywhere, it just means we’ll be in world of hurt regarding germs eventually. So I agree with you that we’re losing the gains of germ theory. Add in the questioning of many scientific principles, it seems that an attitude of “If you can’t see it, it doesn’t exist” could become prevalent.

    Loop? As in Douglas Hofstadter’s book “I Am a Strange Loop”?

    Agreed: balance, moderation, knowing limits, being well rounded, doing things to build skills. These things work together to build confidence and resilience. As you suggest, it takes learning lessons and being willing to put in the hard work required to do it. I don’t see many people who do this any longer.

    Your education growing up in the “School of Hard Knocks” is priceless. Suffering and struggle lead to the lessons mentioned above.

    The German general in Hogan’s Heroes would often say, “It’s a perfect plan. What could possibly go wrong?” Then, of course, Hogan and the prisoners would do their thing and the entire perfect plan would flop. “Cook the meat” seems to maybe get to the pith of it and gets to doing rather than simply planning?

    Well done! Two years of firewood stored this early in the summer? Far out!

    Your house story is interesting. What a testament to actual resilience put into action.

    Dishwashers in the house. Give me a break. We had one when I was tiny in California. Dad got one for mom in Spokane, then another when it broke. Heck, by the time we rinsed the after meal crud off the dishes and loaded the zarking machine, we might as well have washed them already. We currently have 2 dishwashers in our house. One is the Princess, the other is me. In my experience, those machines are simply another thing that can break and create a headache and provide a big wet mess to clean up.

    So, a downed large black locust limb? I don’t know if you’ve worked with locust before. Aside from the many large sharp thingies you’ve already mentioned, well, we had a honey locust that dad wanted removed. He cut it down with human powered saw, which was frightfully hard work. Then he decided to let it dry out so that it would be easier to cut than when it was green. Wrong move! Turns out that honey locust, at least, turns to iron when dry. Dunno if that is true of black locust.

    Doesn’t Ollie’s head weigh about as much as Scritchy?

    Sad about this year’s tomatoes, but it looks as if at least the kiwi fruit and artichokes are abundant? Not the same, but at least there’s food.


  2. Hi Pam,

    Absolutely. To be up all of the time would end up being the new normal – and how tiresome would all the shiny happy people be? Mr Greer once mentioned long ago that he spotted a bumper sticker on a car that speaks to the excellent point that you raised. The sticker was something along the lines of: If you’d had enough, how would you know? It is a fair observation, and also a bit confronting.

    Another beautiful summer’s day here today, it was really nice. I was a bit shocked to discover how many weedy plants had grown around the Poopy-quat when my attention was focused elsewhere. I removed them all today and gave the Poopy-quat a feed. I feel a bit bad about that as they were shading and crowding the tree. Oh well.



  3. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, when we rented in a nearby housing estate whilst building this house, there was also a dishwasher which we never used. But in a bizarre twist of fate, the previous tenants had left the machine in a bit of a frightful state, and so we had to clean the insides of it. We’d neglected to check it upon first renting the place and because the rental market was so tight (and still is) that we were just grateful to end up in any place nearby. We’re not fans of renting now, and would prefer to live in a shed (whilst reconstructing a new house) if this place burns down in a bushfire. We have some interesting ideas to implement if the place does burn down in a bushfire.

    Mate, people talk about dishwashers and say how much water they save, but far out those things use an absolute bucket load of electricity to heat the water and some pretty nasty chemicals. I find that plates and glasses feel a bit strange and dry once they’ve been through such a machine. And that can’t be right. Wastewater here goes to the worms and so there is no point in poisoning them, although I do know of someone who did just that with copious use of bleach to their sewage system.

    You’re right – and it all comes back to Fight Club in the end. Chuck is an astute observer of the darker side of the human condition. When we travelled around Australia in a hatchback with a tent, I also observed people who were happy to do that trick in communal laundries at caravan parks. I’m not a fan – and in those places the machines were coin machines, so the act was a double whammy of dodginess.

    Termites can do that to a house. There are termites all over the bush here – and I keep a sharp eye out for their activities, plus have physical barriers on the house. Steel is your friend in such circumstances. The editor was bitten on her foot by a bull-ant yesterday whilst picking asparagus. She is not happy about it.

    I’ll reserve judgement about Picard until I have watched the first episode. Captain Baldy was a fine starship captain and so I feel he is owed a few credits. But like the struggle, disappointment can sometimes be real.

    As an update, I’m getting to the app, but the climate here has shifted to monsoonal weather and so we went into overdrive whilst the firewood was put under cover. It is an epic job and has eaten most of my time. Today was the first day for a while that I have enjoyed some free quiet time. Ate a gourmet pie today (beef and mushroom) and it was good. Here is to a celebration of the small and enjoyable things in life!



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Florida’s Iguana’s sound an awful lot like my rabbit problem. They burrow, but the act of burrowing opens up water channels in the soil and also the animals convert a lot of plant material into poo, and so from a bigger ecological picture perspective it is not a bad outcome. Now of course if a person has a garden (or massive dam) that an Iguana or rabbit is consuming and/or burrowing into, they may feel differently, but those two species seem like opportunists and they take advantage of new niches. But I like your sentiment about: Cloudy with a chance of Biblical. There are some serious Locust plagues over in Africa. Locusts get out of hand when there are not enough birds to eat them. I see locusts here every year, and the local birds feast upon their carcasses.

    Hmm, S. California I’m guessing has a vibe which is a bit new agey, but has no basis in reality? Please correct me if I am wrong in that understanding? I am definitely not a fan of such forms of thinking, but you know, if they want to think such thoughts I won’t stop them. The concerns of the people in the film were quite abstract and I found that to be fascinating. I read an article a few days ago about how the population of Melbourne looks to eclipse the population of Sydney by 2026. I can’t recall the article discussing whether this was a good thing or not, it was treated more as an inevitable and natural outcome. The thing is, we are limited by water down here, and the city can demand, but nature has only so much water to offer – and nobody seems to worry about that side of the story. It is as if they denizens feel that they exist in a bubble where resource and energy limits need not apply.

    Fair enough, I defer to your knowledge on the subject.

    Damo also does not sound like a believer when it comes to Picard – and he may well be right. I will reserve judgement until I have sat down and watched it. Now that the firewood is in for the season I can relax a little bit. Next Friday looks set to bring some shocking hot weather, but then the monsoon returns. A little bit seriously hot, and then a little bit seriously wet would summarise the weather forecast.

    Adolf Eichmann got what was coming to him – not everyone does. There is an old school saying about: what one sows, one reaps. And that blokes debts were quite huge.

    Hadn’t heard of the Hysteria film before. Good to see that the film makers chucked in a bit of the lighter and more enjoyable parts of that particular story via tongue in cheek humour. The bloke was onto something!

    The movie ‘In a world’ was not in my list, but it sounds delightful! I’m a sucker for what looks like a rom-com, and with voice over folks. Do you know where can I get a smoothie around here? 🙂

    Zombies might be on the menu for this evening too. And Woody is da boss! I’m having a quieter day today, although we spent a few hours this morning improving the chances of one vulnerable timber framed shed (the only one – the rest are steel) surviving a bushfire. I can’t explain in words what we did to the shed, but I’ll put the photos up on next week’s blog and that will tell the story far better than I can. It is the little things that you over look that can get you seriously un-stuck in a bushfire. After that job was finished we went and enjoyed a gourmet beef and mushroom pie (although the editor got a beef and chili pie). It is the Australia day public holiday today so there were people everywhere. I’m unused to seeing so many people out and about in the country.

    Hehe! It just so happens that I read ‘Of mice and men’ during High School and I enjoyed the story far more than the sad and introspective Holden Caulfield. Honestly I’m a very peaceable bloke, but I just wanted to knock some sense into the annoying character Holden. For all I know, he may have improved after an acquired brain injury or three. Reading the book was a form of torture, and then when everyone else was fawning over it, I just wondered what was wrong with me to feel the way I did about it. Oh well. Yes, Lenny is a more earthy character, and he had his foibles which cost him his life at the hand of his best mate George. It is a story filled with complicated characters and is presenting life in complicated times. Beware the farm wife who feels that she is better than her situation – it is a recipe for disaster. I do wonder why such a book would be considered controversial because it reported on the times, and the times sure were hard for many folks. I see no gain in pretending that the times were somehow more civilised than the story presents. If ever the complaining folks were presented with similar un-civilised times, they wouldn’t know how to react and would probably flounder badly.

    You may scoff about our celebration, but lamington’s in particular have a dark side to them. He say’s tongue-in-cheek that possibly they should be banned! Woman dies during Australia Day lamington-eating competition. I now rest my case and retire from the field with honour!

    I remember when you got that alarm clock. You did mention that the machine might be in for a good time and not a long time. Now, I have it on good authority that someone who is a regular commenter on this very blog has a Nixie Ice Tube clock. I can only drool at such well constructed and fascinating machines – if only because I’ve never thought of obtaining one. But if you want the gold standard and a super cool alarm clock, well there is your answer. The budget may be an issue.

    I dunno about the wish that your new phone has an alarm. My new fangled Android device has an alarm clock that is sometimes up to four minutes late. How crap is that? To go boldly where no software has gone before. To seek new heights of crap-dom, and to spectacularly fail. These are the voyages of the dumb-phone. I can’t in all honesty suggest that I am impressed with the software. The device seems well built and looks like it will be in for the long haul and cop a lot of knocks, but the software… And they say I have to have this thing.



  5. Hi DJ,

    At one work place many years ago, the toilet had a key due to problems with drug addicts in the area. Now, ordinarily I wouldn’t consider that to be a problem, however one of my work mates came down very ill with a tummy bug. Of course during their many toilet interludes, they handled the toilet key and possibly forgot to apply the principles of basic hygiene, and mate I came down really sick with the same tummy bug. At such times I really do get to understand the greatness that is basic precautions such as quarantine and germ theory. As Lewis may point out, in any zombie film sooner or later someone is going to try and break quarantine. Already there are people in Australia clamouring for their relatives to be evacuated from Wuhan. I can empathise with their plight, but is it a good idea?

    I tend to feel that such basic precautions are chucked away because people feel that the medical industry is a safety net they can fall back upon. There ain’t no guarantee’s there.

    Both yours and Douglas Hofstadter’s sophistry is beyond my ken. I really am starting to feel as if we have started a journey to somewhere, but in a strange twist, we are back were we started. How can this be? 🙂

    I’m not a fan of building self-esteem if there is no substance behind the belief to back it up. I mean in such a situation, if the self-esteem gets knocked down hard, where does the person discover the path to climb back again? Getting up again after a fall is a skill, that a person can only learn by the gentle art of falling. When I led teams, I always let people fail as they learned more from that act than anything I could tell them. If there was an easier and gentler way, I would have chosen it, but I don’t see it myself. I’d be curious as to your thoughts, but our culture doesn’t really address limits and boundaries, and so people inevitably push upon both, but are they really ready to consider the consequences?

    Hehe! I liked the show Hogan’s heroes. It shouldn’t have been funny, but it was. And sometimes I reckon the best revenge is to make fun of those who need sending up.

    Hey, have you ever seen or heard someone making a plan to make a plan? It is a bonkers strategy, but it gets trotted out from time to time. But it certainly could never be construed for action.

    The climate has shifted here, and despite next Friday being bonkers hot – currently forecast for 41’C – the monsoon will follow that, and so it goes. We really had to get the firewood put away before it got too wet to store. Only the sun dries firewood properly.

    Thank you for getting the gist of the story. The story popped into my head because I encountered someone recently who gave in to failure, and it really annoyed me as I had expected better of them. At the end of the day though, it was no affair of mine and if they give up, well so be it, they will learn nothing from the experience. But it saddened me at the same time.

    Hehe! We have the same dishwashing team here: Me and the editor. Nobody else, or no machine will do the job. Everyone tells me how much water they save using such devices, but if the machines heat the water, the energy consumed is bonkers. I learned that the hard way when we mucked around with a hot water clothes wash setting the other day. 40’C water (and I could have heated the water from the sun directly if the stupid machine was set up correctly) used 2.4kW of electricity on and off. Bonkers.

    No, but thanks for the tip and I am aware that such timber is used for fence posts. It must be very hard and dense stuff. I actually quite like the tree, and the leaf shape shows me that it is of the pea family so probably is fixing nitrogen into the soil. It seems to be a pioneering tree.

    Yes, I felt sorry for Scritchy. What do they say about: Heavy is the head that wears the crown? 🙂

    There’s always something to eat, it just might not be what a person expects from a supermarket.



  6. Hi Chris,

    Yay! Ute has been found and towed to repairer. The Ham is to inspect it tomorrow. Cops said it looked like it had been fanged around on a dirt track somewhere so hopefully no damage to the undercarriage.

    Re washing machines- I’ve been washing our clothes by soaking them in the laundry trough and then using a (new) toilet plunger to push water through and around. Our clothes looked clean and smelled ok before (all I care about) but the amount of dirt that came out the first few times was eye opening. Just soaking the clothes got out far more dirt than our high-tech washing machine. I use soap nut liquid too and they’re not really renowned as a deep cleaner.

  7. Hi Tam,

    Great news about the ute, and you may note that a: Ute saved is a ute that does not have to be repurchased! And a working ute in the driveway is worth more than a lost and forlorn ute in the bush. I do hope that whomever took the ute was gentle with it? For all we know the numpties ran out of petrol in the getaway and then dumped the car. Stranger things have happened.

    Yeah, that is an old school form of washing clothes, and it works. I’ve heard of folks doing a similar thing with buckets and manually agitating the clothes in the bucket. If it works… Hey, we also use soap nuts, but chuck in vinegar as well, and also soak things like towels and very dirty work clothes in vinegar. The vinegar is great at neutralising odours and generally killing bacteria that cause them.

    Incidentally for your info, a 30’C wash uses only a third of the electricity that a 40’C wash will use. Seems bonkers to me that the machine heats its own water when we heat water by the sun or the woodbox. Anyway, no doubts we are all sailing the waves of high technology something or other.



  8. Hey, Chris,
    How do you feel about the application of a copper spray to stone fruit trees to prevent curly leaf? I do this every year and it is about 99% effective. I quizzed local gardening writer Steve Solomon about possible negative effects of copper spray and he told me that our soil here in the Tamar Valley has no copper, so we would only be doing the soil profile a favour by adding it.. so I do.
    Did you know that Chilean Guavas were reportedly Queen Victoria’s favourite? She had them grown in Cornwall and made into jam for her morning toast..

  9. Hi Jo,

    Thanks for identifying Fat Hen. I was looking at the plant and going to myself: What are you, and why are you here? I fed one of the plants to the chickens and they wen’t feral.

    As to the curly leaf problem, I just don’t get it. I spray the trees and I get the curly leaf. I don’t spray the trees and I get curly leaf. Not sure what is going on there at all. The local nursery sprayed a tree really thickly with copper solution – the tree was blue. And it still got curly leaf. Bonkers, and so I gave up spraying them.

    If you can get your hands on some of the shrubs, the berries really are as tasty as the legend suggests. Just like lemonade.

    Hope you didn’t get any of the mud rain.



  10. Hi Chris,

    Your house story makes a good case for the emotional state of the average home buyer. I mean, for a purchase of $500,000 item, should 10-15k of incidentals such as paint colour, furniture or a water tank really matter? Don’t most people immediately renovate, or at least plan to anyway? Such questions are rhetorical. At least you and the editor got the job done and got it sold. Many others would take it hard, refuse to take a hint and stick to their guns (how many times do you hear people refusing to budge on price and choose to hold for months or years racking up enormous holding costs?).

    I remember once trying to explain to a ‘friend’ their attempts at flipping with minor reno’s were pointless as house price appreciation is entirely due to land, not the buildong stock. Their success would hinge completely on a) doing it cheaper than professionals and b) finding a buyer that had the same taste as they did. Such comments were not well received 🙂


  11. Hi Chris,

    Sounds like you deserved that meat pie. I craved one the other day, but when presented with the poor, dry and very sad looking options at what passes for a local bakery my cravings went unanswered. Such trials are sent to test us!

    The nixie tube clock is indeed very cool, and I am sure Lew would be very impressed with it. I note it is keeping good time here in a warmer climate. Back in Tasmania, the cooler temps made it lose a few minutes a month. You can buy a upgrade chip for it that receives time stamps from GPS, but I am just happy with a warm, blue glow that approximates the correct time 🙂

    Picard may have disappointed me, but a very strange (and hilarious at times) movie called ‘the lighthouse’ is still in my mind. I don’t know if I can call it a good movie or not, very arthouse. The two characters are both unreliable narrators, it is left to the viewer to untangle what is actually happening. So yeah, not necessarily a recommendation, but it has stuck in my mind, I think I need to watch it again. The whole thing was shot in black and white with a 4:3 aspect ratio as well, just to make it even less accessible 🙂


  12. Lew,

    Good to hear zombie land was entertaining. And now I too can claim to know the literary reference 🙂

    Sorry to hear about your alarm clock. I used to have an windup one as a child. I think the tick-ticking helped me go to sleep. I do find it hard to believe your new phone has no alarm function though, it will be there, hidden somewhere. Based on Chris’s experiences, it may not be worth finding though 🙂


  13. Hi Chris,

    I think the situation with people expecting houses to have a particular look has only gotten worse since you sold yours, due to TV shows on something called the Home and Garden Network. (Why do I know about them? Because my mother likes them. Whenever we visit her we get to see them, because her TV is always on.) Several of these shows exist. What they have in common is an aesthetic, the look-and-feel of houses being successfully bought/sold/remodeled in some combination. Lots of people watch these shows so the look has become common in houses sold above a certain price point, to the point that if your house doesn’t have that look, it won’t sell, or if it does, the price suffers.

    When friends of ours with a house in that price range were getting ready to sell their house, they asked us why their real estate agent was strongly advising them to remodel their almost 20 year old house. We told them about these shows – they were not familiar with them – and how folks have come to expect that look in houses like theirs. They didn’t want to put money into remodeling and figured that a buyer might prefer to re-do the house according to their own tastes. Twenty years ago, they would have been right. But not now. Folks expect houses to already have the look and be move-in ready. It took them over a year to sell their house. The far-away suburban location didn’t help, but since their house had lake access, it would have sold quicker than it did if it matched the look. The look isn’t appealing to my eyes, nor is it practical, but people want it anyway. What a triumph of advertising over good sense.

    We’re in the longest sustained stretch of heating with wood that we’ve tried so far. Our woodshed has three rows of wood in it. The row we’ve burned from so far is mostly birch, not an ideal wood for burning because it’s so light, but Mike received it as a gift from a friend after the tree died and he helped her to cut it down. Gift wood is good wood in our eyes. Because it doesn’t last long the row of birch has been burned up in an alarmingly short time. But we will soon begin burning some more substantial wood such as oak.

    We also have some examples of a wood like the honey locust DJ mentioned that is very difficult to cut and split because of its hardness and stringiness. But it burns for a long time!

    I’m the dishwasher here. Beyond the fact that I do a better job for less money and less damage to the environment than a mechanical dishwasher, we have a small kitchen which is already full of things we actually need.

    Saying that southern California has a bit of a new age vibe with no basis in reality is considerably underestimating how new age-y and cut off from reality the place is. My ex-husband is from there. We weren’t married long, less than three years, but that three years included the equivalent of three to five weeks lived in the place. To say I was a fish out of water there is also an understatement.


  14. @ Damo – Watched another new zombie film, last night. “Ever After” (EndZeit, 2018). German. Not near as fun as “Zombieland: Double Tap”.

    The phone I had before, was a simple flip phone. The alarm function worked, very well. My new phone is also a simple flip phone, but for about half the price. It’s the “old people’s” flip phone. (Jitterbug). Before I bought it, I checked online, about an alarm function. Nope. When I was dealing with the salesman, I made a point to ask. Nope. It’s not lurking in there, somewhere. Lew

  15. Yo, Chris – “Things we place value on, were not the things other people place value on.” Yup. One of life’s hard lessons. You’d think it would be mentioned, in the owner’s manual. Also, things that once had value, no longer have value, as perceived by the mob. Even if still useful.

    Red Dust? Here ya go. 1931. Clark Gable and Jean Harlow. About 2 minutes. Don’t know what’s with the Spanish text, but at least the dialogue is in English.

    Well, with two years of firewood, you can take a year off! 🙂 Like that’s going to happen. But, if you have other big projects, it won’t take so much time to keep the firewood “topped off.”

    Ollie has “impressed” down pat. Skritchy is very much the put upon, Elder Administrator. Toothy, ever the rebel, just goes his own way.

    The berries look yummy. Probably due to lack of exposure, I can’t say that kiwi really excites me. But, I’m glad your getting a bumper crop. You’ll have to figure out something special to do, with the lone nectarine. To honor it’s fortitude.

    Someone recently gave me a small loaf of pumpkin cranberry bread. It has a very tasty “something”, and I asked what the “secret” ingredient, was. The baker really couldn’t think of much that was different … but then remembered that she had used a guava sugar, of some sort. Subtle, but very pleasing.

    The tomatoes are a worry, but, the artichoke makes me want to say, “I’ll melt the butter.” I miss the fennel, from my old place (and, have seed from it). I’m tempted. But, it takes up a lot of space, and throws a lot of shade. I guess I just can’t “have it all.” 🙂 Lew

  16. Hi Lew,

    Wow, even after you said it, I still didn’t really believe it. It would have cost jitterbug extra to remove functions like the alarm clock and sms, but I guess they are aiming at the dead simple, absolutely no frills market. I note a lot of people sleep with phone next to them these days, ostensibly because of the alarm function, but really so they can check socials as a first and last thing of the day. I used to do that, but found it very distracting. These days I have the phone in another room charging at night, and stick to a chapter or two of a sensible book before bed. The added advantage is I have to get out of bed and find my phone to turn the alarm off, no chance for sleeping in!

    Speaking of Germans, I watched a remake of Das Boot a little while back. Great stuff, but I am a sucker for submarine drama. A season two is on its way as well.


  17. Yo, Chris – I guess I’ll weigh in (or, provide a bit of background) on the rise of the dishwasher. :-). I just happen to be reading “The Midcentury Kitchen: America’s Favorite Room; From Workspace to Dreamscape, 1940s – 1970s” (Archer, 2019). They had a couple of pages, about how dishwashers were marketed.

    At the 1939 World’s Fair, the Westinghouse Electric Corporation had a “Battle of the Centuries.” Forty times a day, Mrs. Modern (with dishwasher) squared off against Mrs. Drudge (with sink) in a battle royal. The exhibit also got a lot of play in the magazines of the day.

    There’s also a section about the Nixon/Khrushchev “Kitchen Debates” of 1959. 🙂

    About S. California? What Claire said. It really is a whole different place, with a whole different mindset. I’m glad I got to experience it, as a young person. And, glad I left. Travel does broaden, one. 🙂

    Well, I watched another zombie movie, last night. “Ever After (EndZeit)” 2018. A German entry, to the genre. Hmmm. What to say about it. Well, I didn’t fast forward through any bits. But can I recommend it? Hmmm. Well, first, have you watched much German cinema? It seems to be dark, experimental, and a bit twisted. If you’ve watched any Fassbinder films, you’ll know what I mean. There are inexplainable bits, which I think, don’t sit well, with you. So, precede if you must, but you’ve been warned.

    You do talk a lot about Holden Caulfield. I don’t talk, much, about the entire high school YEAR I spent with Dicken’s “Great Expectations.” Maybe I’ve just buried the memory. Or, maybe it was the intensive psycho therapy. At least “Of Mice and Men” was accessible. A story that at least made sense. Probably not taught anymore, for that very reason. Or, some lame politically correct complaint.

    Oh, I don’t think lamington’s should be banned. But if they were, you could probably rake it in on an illicit trade. Peddle them to school children, or exchange them for filthy money, in back alleys. Maybe they could be issued with warning labels? Have people sign documents releasing the baker of liability? Look at it this way. Eating competitions are Darwin at work.

    Nixie Ice Tube clocks. I really couldn’t get a fix on what they are, exactly, even with net searches. I mean, I suppose they look cool. You can get a kit and build one, for $85. But I did stumble on an interesting site, thisiswhyimbroke (.com). Probably about as funny as the county fair food excursion. There is a thing or two that might be useful. But most of it is flash, and no substance. Reminds me of a catalog I get, from time to time. “Things you didn’t know you needed.” Don’t know how I got on that mailing list.

    I also stumbled on a show that is, perhaps, the flip side of “Grand Illusions.” “Living Big in a Tiny House.” Might be a program out of New Zealand. I watched one 12 minute episode, that was really interesting. I’ll link to it, later. A young fellow that began building his house when he was 17. He’s about 21, now. Mostly build with salvage. Sensible lad. I was particularly taken with his wood stove.

    But, now, I’ll link to an article I saw on NPR, yesterday. About the infant maple syrup business, here in the Pacific Northwest. Who knew? There’s some interesting points.

    As with solar power systems (which reminds me … the young fellow with the tiny house) has the beginnings of solar power … that will make you chuckle) there are odd bits and bobs about maple syrup, that no one thinks to tell you. Lew

  18. @Damo

    Thanks so much for that link. I’m still am hopeful out library can get it but $30 is certainly more affordable than $70.


  19. Chris,

    The venue at which the Princess and I have our usual Thursday lunch dates has put keypad combination locks on the restroom doors. Why? Too many homeless shooting up or otherwise dirtying the restrooms.

    I, too, empathise with the plight of those with rellies in Wuhan. However, if they’ve been exposed and are allowed to come home, then the epidemic spreads. Bad idea. Probably they were in Wuhan by choice and sort of have to live with the consequences? (More on consequences in a bit.) This reminds me of the ebola outbreak a few years ago and a handful of American citizens ill with ebola were brought back to the USA for treatment. Ummmm, not a good idea in my book. There are 300 million other people hereabouts to be concerned about in the event that the dread illness escapes the hospital.

    Medical science to the rescue? I know too many people with Type 2 diabetes to have any confidence in medical science for some illnesses. The treatment plan appears to be to feed various kinds of medications into the person without really explaining that radical changes in diet and activity level are more necessary than the medications. Without the lifestyle changes, more meds are needed. There is now a worldwide shortage of insulin.

    Recursion and fractals mate, recursions and fractals. It might feel like we’re back at the beginning, but it’s simply a similar pattern.

    Self esteem that is handed to somebody is not true self esteem. Self esteem is something one must earn via trial and error and learning from mistakes. Being given what I consider to be false self esteem only creates a bunch of entitled, arrogant brats who need constant positive reinforcement about how great they are. (We’re starting to hire many of these.) I think that your style of leading teams, while it can appear harsh on the surface, actually builds strong people and strong teams.

    But it looks to me as if we’re going out of our way to coddle people. Which means that no limits are learned because people are told they have no limits. Then it follows that there is no balance and no consequences. My workplace is in constant turmoil due to a lack of limits and no accountability and no consequences, at least for people above a certain level.

    And woe unto him who tries to create some limits. A different work group and I share a cubicle wall. It’s a 4 person team, 2 of whom have offices. They choose to have social gatherings and parties in the cube adjacent to mine, making it impossible to hear on the phone due to their noise. When I’ve complained I’ve been told that “we must all make concessions in cubicle land”. My now retired boss got upset with me when their now retired manager complained about my reply that “maybe the concessions at the work place should be that the partying go into a room behind a closed door allowing those of us who work to be able to work.”

    Ooops, a bit off the topic of resilience. However, without the boundaries and limits and balance and consequences and being allowed to fail and learn, one cannot build resilience, nor can one have true self esteem that is gained by developing skills and abilities oneself.

    People like to take the easy way out. Sometimes that works, but rarely. Often the best thing is to understand that the harder path, which might contain failure, is the best way. Fail, get up, try it again, amend it if needed, try it again. Sometimes the path of greatest resistance is also the path of the highest potential for growth. The easy path often turns into giving in to failure and wallowing in grief about it.

    Making a plan to make a plan? Mate, I work for government. That’s all that senior management does: have a series of meetings to form a committee that will have meetings to develop a plan to help us make better plans for our projects. 5 or 6 years ago another layer of high management was created for just that purpose.

    Heat then rain? Could be worse: heat and more heat then heat after that. Most of our snow is gone now, and the forecasts all look for temperatures to stay above freezing at least until February 10. We’ve been getting a fair amount of rain. It was sunny for several hours today.

    The difference in energy usage between a hot clothes wash and a warm clothes wash is astounding, isn’t it?

    Hehehe, yes a heavy head and the crown. Good one.


  20. Hi Damo,

    There is a special place reserved in the deepest pits of Hades for people who attempt to sell dry and very sad looking pies. Note that this cuts some slack for dilettante bakers such as possibly ourselves who attempt greatness, fall in a heap and may have possibly just stuffed it up. That’s just cooking – but trying to sell such matter is the whole next level.

    Really? A few minutes per month is not good for a time piece, but on the other hand – they look really cool and so can be forgiven a few minor vagaries. I wouldn’t have considered the temperature as a factor in loss of accuracy with electronics. Interesting. Upgrades for a clock, that’s a new one for me! 🙂 The ‘brains’ of the solar power charging system compensates for battery temperature. I would really hate to have to use batteries in really hot or really cold environments. Although I recall that you have Tesla’d it in a desert and found no loss of performance or capacity.

    Thanks for mentioning the lighthouse film, and it certainly sounds pretty creepy and emotionally loaded. I note that the film has received glowing reviews elsewhere. Might be one for the big screen? Dunno. You may appreciate that I’ll reserve judgement on the Picard story until I have observed it firsthand? As the Ents say, mustn’t be too hasty!



  21. Hi Damo (cont) – I read your comments back to front and upside down and inside out. It happens to the best of us! 🙂

    Yeah, we do the hard yards when required, and it is a fair comment to suggest that we don’t muck around. Incidentally, Claire wrote to your comment, and they are all great points that were raised.

    I tell you this, I reckon people can agonise over small purchases, but large things such as houses, they don’t seem to apply the same concerns to. I have wondered about that, and I feel that the heart leads the head during such times – thus the return to tribalism that is exhibited by people wanting to purchase a same, same, but different house and enjoy a sense of herd immunity.

    And yeah, I absolutely agree. The potential is now factored in to the price. It wasn’t always thus. But asset price inflation is a real thing, and all that money printing has to express itself somewhere and so it does in: Property; Shares; Bonds; and collectables. I tend to feel that such inflationary activity suggests that the valuation behind the assets reflects lower real purchasing power per unit of valuation. I’m not sure how else to view such shenanigans.



  22. Hi Claire,

    The story was set a dozen years ago. Where did the time go? I did check for the lost time behind the couch and found only dust bunnies and so got the vacuum cleaner out and sucked them all up. I didn’t discover the lost time in among the dust bunnies, but it may now be residing in the worm farm with the vacuum sucked up dust? It’s possible. 🙂

    Exactly. I could not have put it better. I mentioned in my reply to Damo that there is a certain element of herd immunity and tribalism to people’s choices. To my ears it sounds thus: “if we all make the same choices, then the sheer weight and momentum behind those choices will make everything work out just fine.” It is a comforting thought, but I tend to disagree.

    However, the times they may be a changing, and my mates of the big shed fame recently won both the state and national house of the year award. Their place is like nothing else – and despite the same sort of setbacks I enjoy with the wildlife seeking a cut of the bounty, their dwelling is highly productive. But I suspect people hide in their numbers and that requires a certain familiarity. When we sold that house, we just had to superficially take ourselves and our values out of the equation. It hurt to do so. And I am in no doubts as to what that means in the bigger picture. It would be nice if it was not so.

    Well done both of you with the firewood! I’m genuinely impressed and also pleased that you are pitting your wits and muscles to the long haul.

    I tell you, it would be no easy thing for me to burn oak for firewood. About two decades or more ago I met an old bushie down in Tasmania. He was married to an indigenous woman, and together they ran a boat on one of the rivers in the far wet damp west coast. He stirred me up by mentioning that he burned blackwood (Acacia Melanoxylon) for firewood because it was so commonly grown in that part of the state. I grow the plants here and I note that some trees and species are more special than other trees (I have a canoe tree here after all and there is not much more special than one of those), and once long ago I know (as did he) that the blackwoods were the kings and queens of the forests. Thus we shared a moments insight, had a chuckle about it, and then moved on and dealt with things as they are. He left an impression on me, that’s for sure.

    The local eucalyptus species here varies in density from 650kg/m3 to 750kg/m3 and it is hard work to deal with such firewood, but I’m confident that I could deal to honey locust. You may be interested to know that with this seasons firewood, it was produced mostly with electricity harvested from the sun (cutting and splitting). It has taken a decade or more to get to such a place, and even then I realise that the manufacturing side of that story casts a long shadow over my activities.

    Total respect. I do no less, and when I was a kid that was what everyone used to do with dishes. I see Lewis wrote about how it all changed, but I am dubious and have always felt that way about dishes. I actually don’t like dry the feeling of plates and glasses that have been through such a chemical process.

    Yeah, I’m with you too. I went to a hippy festival for a few years, and it annoyed the daylights out of me. Your description sounds like my experience, but on overdrive…



  23. Hi Lewis,

    You may have noticed that I’ve recently added a few extra items of small holder farm machinery here – and that was because nobody seemed to be putting any value on them nowadays. I was a bit shocked to discover that circumstance only by sheer accident and Pam mentioning her own activities. It wasn’t always that way, and I guess you see it in the ‘tat’ markets too? Some of that stuff is quite useful, but if the public gives ‘tat’ no value, then it has no value. Bonkers.

    Not sayin, but Jean Harlow was a hottie. 🙂 Some folks burn brightly and then burn out just as fast.

    The two years of firewood is a bit of an insurance policy in case there is a situation that needs attending to. Sometimes life can be uncertain, and I reckon that with any system that harvests an output from nature you have to store away far more than you think you’ll ever need – if only because the unexpected is always a possibility. And yeah, each year putting the firewood away has become an easier job. Plus there are other projects waiting to be done! The tree dudes turned up spontaneously today and so I put them to work chopping firewood for a couple of hours. It is a complicated relationship, but I need them to do the work, and they need the work. Fortunately I had a plan in mind as to what next year’s firewood involved and so they got stuck into it. Firewood is one complicated energy source.

    Ollie has a lovely nature, however Scritchy is like an old battle axe. Get this, she is well past eighteen years of age and last evening I saw her take a running jump, leap and dive at Ollie’s face – complete with gnashing teeth. Oh yeah, she is one bad apple. Toothy on the other hand skips to his own beat and as a dachshund he takes pride in being grumpy. It must be his German heritage and his attempts at communication are a bit lost in translation, but they sound grumpy…

    When kiwifruit are ripe and tasty, they’re really good. But the point between green and over ripe is but a moment in time. Most of that fruit is shipped green, so it doesn’t taste that good to me. And always the promise of pavlova is in the background with such forest fruits! Yum.

    Never heard of guava sugar before and is on the ‘to look into’ list. The list is long, but glad to read that the bread was tasty.

    Globe artichokes are rarely seen in western markets, although they are very tasty items – and yum, yup butter would make a fine addition. I’m salivating… And yeah, very wise. Fennel is a huge plant, and the leaves are very tasty to my palate. They’re a tasty addition to salads too – where the taste is expected.

    The names for the contest were a dead set giveaway as to the conclusions to be drawn. I had to look up the definition of the word ‘drudgery’ which was given as: hard menial or dull work, and there was a specific reference to a domestic circumstance. Interesting. From my perspective it looks like nothing other than an attack on the domestic economy. I wonder what the powers that be envisioned that Mrs Drudgery was intending to do when she morphed into Mrs Modern? I’ve seen folks walking outside a gym carrying what looks like heavy weights – I could use such energy to store away the firewood, but no I suspect that such activities are perceived as drudgery. Have such folks promoting such thoughts never been to a gym and observed what goes on in such a place? Energy to heat…

    Yeah, both yourself and Claire painted a certain picture of the area that was repeated in Zombieland 2 with the Berkeley character. Nuff said.

    You mentioned the German zombie film recently. I can’t actually recall many German films that I have seen over the years. I am a bit recalcitrant in that area, but frankly I’m unsure that the particular culture appeals to me. I may have mentioned long ago that I used to own an old Porsche 911 (it was the editor’s idea). Anyway, I kept it well maintained and for its age it was pretty amazing. I do recall once that it broke down in an awkward location and a couple of German backpackers proffered the opinion that it was ‘piece of poo’. Thanks for that guys, hardly an endearing endorsement of their nations products. I dunno and remain unconvinced.

    The character Holden kind of annoyed me as he represented many things that I actively dislike. I have opinions about Zombieland 2 though – and thoroughly enjoyed it – but my education is sadly lacking as I skipped Charles Dickens penultimate book: Great Expectations. I tend to value your opinion and so based purely on your comment alone, I feel that just like dodging fast zombies (scary huh?) I dodged a classic. Yes, of Mice and Men was accessible and full of everyday drama and was also a cautionary tale. I tend to feel that it was stomped on because it was politically incorrect, but I just don’t give a toss about that perspective. Why deny history – it seems like an extraordinarily rude perspective, but people give it a go. To me, it seems like a bonkers goal.

    Mate, that was my plan with them lamington’s. Get them banned and then set up a lucrative cash stream from elicit lamington sales. It appears to have worked for other folks in other situations.

    Lewis, the website is funny as. It even had Mr Salatins epic tome: “Everything I Want To Do Is Illegal”. But the website smells like a joke website to me. Bonkers. I am genuinely left scratching my head.

    Thanks for the link to the show and I’ll check it out after replying to DJ. Should be fun, and total respect to the guy. Oh yeah, only experimentation with this solar technology is enough to kick the stuffing out of true beliefs. It would be nice if it were not so.

    It was another beautiful summer’s day here today!



  24. Also re dishwashing, I thought it was super practical but my work colleagues were shocked to hear about the charming country practice of giving the dog first go at the really grotty and/or burnt-on dishes. Ants also do a fine job if one has a few nests that are close but not too close.

  25. Hi DJ,

    Mate the first time I encountered a locked toilet door at a restaurant was at a dive that produced really tasty hamburgers. It was called Greasy Joes, and back in the day the clientele was also questionable. But they used to serve hamburgers with thick cut chips and Dijon mustard. It was worth it just to visit for the food. The ambience was a little lacking, but you know character and all that.

    Mate, that disease is spreading quite rapidly. I’ve read that researchers into diseases are often kept up late at night for fear of influenza like diseases. More people died of the Spanish flu than in WWI – by a reasonable margin too. Swine ebola has spread pretty far and wide and has killed an enormous percentage of the pig population on the planet. And people try and sneak pork products in past customs – several people have been deported from customs.

    Exactly, I know of someone who works (or used to) in that area of research and they said that it was mostly down to activity levels more than diet, although there is a correlation that the two issues are connected. Hey, I read the other day that there is now suspicion that bread that was mixed and par-baked then frozen many months before has proteins that are very difficult for a body to digest. We’re complicated creatures – and I make and bake my own bread.

    Your talk of advanced mathematical principles is making my head spin! Fractals and recursions indeed. 🙂

    I largely avoided having such folks in my work teams, but that was because I stopped managing teams about a dozen years ago when I went into my own business. If parents don’t teach lessons correctly and schools also drop the ball in favour of ‘every kid wins a prize’, what the heck are we left with – and who cleans up the mess? Dunno, but fortunately not everyone is brought up that way. I tend to feel that the future may sort the wheat from the chaff.

    Did I mention my poodle dude issues? Well they sound exactly like your nearby cubicle party issues. Social niceties are often blithely ignored, and that is not a good situation. In fact some folks have studied the Art of War and they may be unpredictable in their response. But the nearby cubicle parties would likewise annoy me. Fortunately it has been a few decades since I experienced any sort of entertainment at work – recessions and changing workplace cultures can do that. But before the recession I got to see one or two years of what went on before and it was an eye opener.

    I couldn’t agree more, the easy path is usually the path to the dark side with all that that entails. But if people want to take such paths, it is really not for you or I to stop them – unless it has personal repercussions, and that is a different matter. But even then it is hard to dissuade people from foolishness if that is what they intend to do.

    Your situation is part of the show and comes with the territory. I personally hate work meetings and keep them as brief as possible. Nobody has ever complained about that, but then I work in small business and there is little fat to burn.

    That sure is a lot of heat you mentioned – says he uncomfortably sliding away from the three heats! The old timers down here used to remark that warm years where wet years. It may apply to your part of the world too? Dunno.

    Heating anything with electricity is a very expensive process – not that anyone notices. It’s a hobby for me!



  26. Hello Chris
    I loved the skink. I do like the photos of small creatures that you show.
    The only occasion when I put a property to auction, it didn’t sell; in fact it didn’t get a single bid. Sold later through an estate agent. If buying a house, I like the interior to be as basic and plain as possible. Shall never forget a bedroom with navy and white striped wallpaper. A daughter painted over it for me. Many houses on the market today have had their interiors ‘beautified’ to such an extent that it would be no small matter to strip the stuff out.
    It is cold here but the sun is shining from a clear blue sky.


  27. Hi Tam,

    Dogs will do that service – and for free. There is absolutely very little waste here – plastic is about it. Have you ever discovered the country food waste hierarchy? Dogs; Chickens; Worms; Compost. Yup, there is something for everyone.

    Ants are a touchy subject here at the moment because the editor has been bitten by a huge bull-ant on her foot. A nasty business. We try not to encourage such critters, and building top soil is one way of getting them to go elsewhere.



  28. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for that, and the skinks are all over the place. Once the sun appears the skinks stop their hunting and then go into sun-bathing mode. They’re lovely creatures, and the steel rock gabion cages are like a giant hotel for them and their kind.

    What a great point. I too would like to know the bones underneath a building if only because I can make a fair guess as to whether the thing will be still standing after a few years. Do you know, with that house I believe I spotted the new owners ripping out the fire rated walls? I couldn’t believe my eyes, and really wondered what they were up to. But you can’t go back.



  29. @Lew

    I’m sorry about your alarm clock. I’d like to share a video of my favorite clock of all time – The Bibo alarm clock which I originally purchased from Archie McPhee in Seattle. I sadly don’t know what happened to it – probably wore out from overuse and now it’s difficult and very expensive to find one of these fine items. Anyway here’s a video for your enjoyment


  30. Hi Chris,
    Your renovation skills are most impressive along with the editor’s. When I was looking for a new home I observed most of the interiors of homes pictured online looked very similar with oak cabinets, hard wood floors and granite counter tops along with all stainless steel appliances. The house we ended up purchasing has formica light blue counter tops, no hardwood floors and no dishwasher. You would laugh at how many people were just appalled at that and the many suggestions we got regarding re configuring the entire kitchen just to be able to accommodate one. Our old place did have one after we added on to accommodate my brothers and in that case it was helpful. They could generate tons of dishes (and dirty clothes) and their dish washing skills weren’t too great so everything would have to be checked. There are just so many hours in the day. However I never put special dishes or good glasses in as especially the glasses quickly looked as if there was a cloudy film all over them which I’ve read is etching. My good stoneware plates had a weird feeling as well. The everyday dishes all seemed clipped on the edges. Anyway no dishwasher here. We had to replace the refrigerator and ended up with a stainless steel one because that’s what was mostly available. They are difficult to keep clean to say the least. Now this house was covered in flowery wallpaper which we did get rid of.

    The red dirt must be a pain.

    I was feeling sorry for Scritchy becoming a pillow for Ollie until I read how she leapt at his face.

    A couple years worth of wood is good security. Doug’s got just about that much under cover now too with more to split.


  31. @ Damo – LOL. I only turn my phone on, oh, maybe every three or four days, just to see if I have any voice mails. Or, texts. Not that I can return texts … Or, want to.

    They advertise the phone for the low, low price of $17.99. I pay about $28, a month. So, you ask, (didn’t you?) How can this be? Well, the usual. Taxes and local use charges. Also, if I wanted voice mail, it was an extra $3. Texting would have been extra. Photos are extra, etc. etc..

    But, when the young man I bought the phone from, realized I wasn’t going to tumble for anything unnecessary, we got down to brass tacks. I’ve got to say, they have the best customer support, I’ve run across. Lew

  32. Yo, Chris – Yeah, your tale of the house auction struck a cord. I do a lot of agonizing over tat that will hold it’s value (for my estate) vs “stuff I like.” The next good tool auction, I’ll link to the pictures, so you can drool. This week, it’s garden furniture and tools.

    Besides being a sex bomb, Jean Harlow could also be very, very funny. The young lady had range. Her movies are also great for getting a look at Art Deco interiors.

    Oh, gosh. You didn’t turn the Tree Dudes loose on the spiny locust, did you? Cruel and unusual punishment! 🙂

    There are a lot of ads, in the book on kitchens. A great many of them have text that kick off with, “Don’t be a drudge….” And the illustrations have a lot of people lounging around the kitchen in tuxedos and slinky gowns. Interesting factoid. The first “real” electric refrigerator was called “The Monitor.” Because it had a conning tower similar to the Civil War Union submarine, of that name. It cost $200 more than a Model T Ford, and they sold like hot cakes. The ice man became extinct.

    There was also quit a bit about planned obsolescence. Back about 1930, a fellow named Earnest Calkins, noticed that manufacturing had outstripped consumption. He and two buddies (Roy Sheldon and Egmont Arens) published a book called “Consumer Engineering: A New Technique for Prosperity.” The bottom line was: “Wearing things out does not produce prosperity. Buying things does.” The appliance industry had links to the automotive industry. So, the idea of a new model, every year, was something to aspire to. I must admit, some of the pictures of formica kitchens, gave me a twinge of nostalgia.

    Besides being “new agey”, S. California was very much about youth and beauty. Spill over from the movie and TV industries. Then there was the Beach Boys and the beach films.

    Well, at least flogging “Great Expectations” to death, didn’t spoil me for all of Dickens. And, at least I could sit through the film of that novel, without twitching, too much. It had some great characters, and cultural references. Miss Havisham was memorable. By the way, I watched “Jay and Silent Bob: Reboot”, last night. Their usual funny selves. But, it was really an exercise in sentimentality and nostalgia. Trotted out every character from every film he’s ever done, for at least a cameo. There was a lot about “family.” But Kevin is looking buff. He’s 49, and, a couple of years ago, there was that unfortunate incident where he was denied entry onto an airplane, as, he was too fat to fit the seats. Boy, the politically correct brigade pulled the stops out on that one. Size-ist! Body shaming! Then, there was the heart attack. Well, you reap what you sow … or, eat.

    Nope. I don’t think that was a joke website. You can actually buy all those useless things.

    I’m glad you liked the tiny house episode. I notice there are more, on YouTube, and I may have to take a look at them. Care to comment on the wood stove, or solar “system?” Might run a single light bulb … on a sunny day. But overall, I have to give the kid high marks for effort.

    One thing I’ve noticed about the tiny house movement is, it seems like they’re always on someone else’s land. Kind of like business using OPM. Other people’s money. And they never say too much about life partners, or other hangers on. Are they as on board, and enthusiastic about the tiny house life style? I’d say, it’s mostly going to be a bit of a fad. Throw a bit of money their way, and they’ll be out of those places, in a flash. Lew

  33. @TamHob, yes, my dog is a very useful diswasher’s apprentice as well 🙂
    @Chris, yes, I have been growing the Chilean guavas for years – they have the sweetest tang. At my last garden I grew them as a hedge, which worked brilliantly.
    re spraying the stonefruit – my experience has been very much the opposite of yours. Not spraying results in a huge burden of curly leaf, while spraying completely eradicates it. The spraying regime is crucial though, miss any steps and I don’t get full protection.
    First spray happens in autumn at leaf fall, to discourage the virus to ‘hatch’ over winter.
    Second spray is at pink bud stage in the spring, and third spray at blossoming, just before the leaves emerge.
    It is important to spray quite heavily, concentrating on the bud and leaf bud swells, as that is where the virus lives. It is also important to spray when there will be no rain for 24 hours, not always easy in early spring.
    It is a bit of a fiddle, but makes for very healthy trees. The other option is covering the the tree to prevent its being rained on during spring, as it is moisture that causes the virus to proliferate. In the walled gardens of English estates stone fruit trees, which were espaliered along the brick walls for extra warmth, often had little verandahs built over them to stop curly leaf:)

  34. Chris,

    Greasy Joe’s? With a name like that the food HAS to be tasty. I read a fantasy series back in the day that had a great spoof of McDonald’s, which they called the “Golden Crescent Inn”. Back then McDonald’s had the reputation of being spotlessly clean. A main character told his apprentice that the food at the Golden Crescent Inn was terrible. “The cleaner the establishment,” he said, “the worse the food tastes.”

    The old Sam’s Pit was a filthy place, open mostly from 8pm until 5am, had no liquor license which didn’t stop them, was full of drug dealers and other shady folks. It was eventually shut down due to health code and liquor violations. One of the County Commissioners complained that “Sam’s Pit was the only place to get decent cornbread after midnight.” Ignoring why an elected official would be hanging out at Sam’s, we DID dub him the “Cornbread Commissioner”, a title he didn’t appreciate.

    This current disease is concerning. Not worrisome at this time, but worth watching. Good luck to the authorities in isolating those exposed to the disease for any length of time: “I’ve got rights!” they say. Oh well.

    I’ve long held to the idea that adequate movement does a lot to fight diabetes. Glad to know your researcher friend says the same thing. Proper diet helps, but adequate moving for most of us takes care of a LOT of things. We didn’t evolve to sit and do nothing.

    I fear the topic might be spiraling out of control.

    Yup, the future will probably separate the wheat and the chaff. People who don’t know how to DO things and who have no clue how to learn? Ouch.

    Oh, yes, the poodle dude. You’ve mentioned him a time or two. Good comparison. Life is too short, and the job is not my life, so the lack of an atmosphere conducive to working is something I decided wasn’t worth fighting – if management doesn’t care, then why should I? It just tells me that it’s another game whose rules I don’t fully comprehend and really don’t care to understand.

    Oh, man, learning to let others fail has been hard to do. But, as you said, it’s their choices, their lives. If I don’t have any dog in the fight, it really isn’t any of my business what others do. This is another one of those lessons that I’m (finally) starting to clue in on.

    We had a work meeting today, supposedly a new weekly one. I’ve heard that before and the meetings are exceedingly rare. Anyhow, it was with the Boss and me and the other 3 technicians. Or, as I called it, Boss Man and the Techs. He thought it a good name for a band. Well, he briefly mentioned the new “Employee Recognition Program”. I asked if, because we have so many new employees, is this program simply requiring everyone to wear new name tags? That actually went over well. I tried to remain mostly silent after that. Quit while you’re ahead, right?

    Yes, usually if our winters are warmer than “normal”, they’re wet. Not always. If California gets tons of rain and snow, we can be a bit on the dry side. The only thing I “know” is that I looked at the dearth of berries on mountain ashes, hawthorns and even many flowering crabapple trees and figured that this would be a mild winter. The way November developed verified that idea. It’s pretty much held to that. Mostly.

    Your upcoming heat sounds nasty. They’ve been talking about it on the Australian Open tennis broadcasts in addition to your comments. Hope it doesn’t last too long.

    On Ollie and the Scritchy pillow. Occasionally I would use Thor the Irish Wolfhound mix as a pillow and we’d nap on the floor. The Princess took pictures, maybe for future blackmail or something? So I have the idea that the alpha can use the others as a pillow. Which may explain why Scritchy gets snarly and jumpy and tries to use fangs on Ollie – an attempt to regain the position that Ollie might actually have taken. Just an idea.


  35. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and I began fixing and constructing buildings when I was a young 24 years of age. The recession and ill economic winds had hit me pretty hard and so I decided to do something different – and was very motivated. The first house I did I lost money on, quite a bit actually, but I learned the lessons and moved on. At the time houses were cheap and mostly in poor condition due to economic forces, and the fact that there was an outwards push (i.e. away from the CBD) into the suburbs, and that push was ever so slowly turning back on itself and reverting. People thought that the areas the editor and I moved into were a bit scary, and some people refused to visit.

    I like your style, and would have done no less. Most places can be modified if that is the outcome that is desired. And dunno about you, but I reckon there is something of a tribalism effect to the story, and so people clamour for whatever is considered to be the norm – whatever that may be. Your place has what is known as character, and that is something to be celebrated.

    Oh yeah, Patrick and Michael may have been many things, however neat and tidy are probably not within their purview of considerations! I hear you about that. That’s true about the glassware too as the glass gets etched by the chemicals – I have no idea what those chemicals even are. And crystal is even more easily damaged by such machines. Have you noticed that hand marks show up on stainless steel refrigertators – it would certainly make a CSI’s job easier! 🙂 I recall you steaming the wallpaper off the walls. One has to accept a certain modicum of good taste, and flowery wallpaper may not be in that sphere. Hey, don’t laugh, but I recall that wallpaper was ‘in’ a while ago.

    I’m wondering when the red dirt will settle in the water tanks. It’s getting better, but the dust is very fine and even bypasses the carbon filter.

    Scritchy is one bad apple.

    Go Doug! It is a worthy goal and when winters are way cold, the wood will come in handy. It is our only source of heating.



  36. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah it is funny how you and I can put value on something, and other people may just think that what we may value (whatever that may be) is total rubbish. I may have mentioned this to you before, but I sort of suspect that this is why some people do not ever attempt to sell their ‘stuff’ which they claim has value. It can be quite confronting to discover how other people feel about ‘stuff’ and there is no finer way to discover, and in no uncertain terms, the monetary value by trying to sell the ‘stuff’. Mate, I was gutted by having to remove the water tank from that backyard, but people just didn’t want the thing. There is a lot of talk about sustainability, but not much action. The water tank now collects water from the roof of the secondary firewood shed.

    Your description about the actor intrigues me.

    No, that would definitely be an awful punishment. The editor and I cut the black locust branch up and burnt it off in the brazier. The ash has ended up in the fern gully as a fertiliser. The ferns up there are having a tough year due to the heat. I have a plan for that area and intend to add a number of the local (and very hardy) mother shield ferns as a ground cover and shade. It should look good, but I just have to get up to the fern nursery in a nearby mountain range once it cools down a bit for the season.

    Did you seriously have Civil War Union submarines? Oh my, the blokes that worked that submarine were very hardy and brave souls. And the propeller was hand cranked. Unfortunately they let the torpedo out a little bit too close for their own good. I noticed that the machine had lost three crews in its service. You’d be nervous if you were in the third crew with that sort of track record.

    The intentional policy of built in obsolescence, lack of repairability, and eventual failure is a cultural failure. I tend to see that perspective in some of the crazy beliefs I read about transitioning to 100% renewables. Nobody ever seems to get around to asking the tough question as to whether we have enough resources to even produce the system once, let alone at the end of life at say 20 years (a guess, but it is probably less), and then build the whole system all over again. I tend to feel that renewable energy systems will eventually look a lot like plants collecting sunlight from the sun via photosynthesis. Some people may not be happy about such an outcome, but at least it will work and be reproducible…

    I enjoy films, but would they lose the magic if you ever worked in such an enterprise? Dunno, but I tend to feel that it might work out that way for me. Fame doesn’t work out so well for many people that experience it. And I have a rule of thumb which suggests that some folks need to rethink their second twitter comment as it may harm their careers.

    Twitching indeed!!! 🙂 Funny stuff, and thanks for the film recommendation. I’m glad that Jay and Silent Bob are on good enough terms now to produce a new film. Like the premise of the film too. Jay apparently fell off the wagon, and I hope he’s OK. I noticed that the young lady actor in Clerks 2 all those years ago was also in Zombieland 2 as the Woody love interest character.

    Really? Thanks for the confirmation and I really wasn’t sure about the reality of the website. It seemed a bit err, interesting.

    I really did like the tiny house that the guy built, and yes they always seem to be on someone else’s land. There are less restrictions about such things down here, but you would not want to make such a choice in suburbia as they would have you out on your ear if it was too visible. It would be complicated on a rural property where there is no house, but I guess what it comes down to is: Don’t annoy your neighbours, and I suspect the local council would not sniff around and cause legal trouble. Multiple occupancy properties (i.e. hippy communes) suffer similar problems.

    I thought the wood stove would do the heating job as it is only a small area after all. The combustion chamber is very small though and it might burn through the timber really quickly and have to be constantly replenished – but then a small space like that probably doesn’t need much heating. Plus there is an opportunity to heat water with a wet back inside the combustion chamber. I noticed the property seemed to enjoy plentiful grass, but not much in the way of a wood lot, so where is the firewood coming from? As to the solar, I spotted an extension cable leading away from the tiny house, and honestly I saw the battery but can’t recall where the solar panel was. You see, from my perspective roof space is a precious commodity and how many solar panels could you get up onto such a small roof without ruining the aesthetics – which are a consideration. To be fair, the solar panels may have been off to the side of the building and out of sight.

    But mate, the house is so far north that how could he power much at all over winter? If conditions were perfect here I’d get two hours of sunlight per day around the winter solstice. As it stands I get one hour of sunlight on average, but average is a map and not the territory. Sometimes it gets as rubbish as 15 minutes of sunlight per day during that time and that is barely enough electricity to run the system. It’s a tough gig.

    Oh hey he mentioned a girlfriend, although we have no idea how she may view the tiny house. I have noted over the years that partners expectations can change and if you take a look around down here you’ll see the rural areas have been drained. So the facts speak for themselves and it is clearly an unappealing life – or is viewed that way. Overall the culture down here is very urban.

    From time to time I encounter people counting upon inheritances, although I have no expectations at all in that regard. A bit of a bummer about being a black sheep and all, but the life is better. Everyone is different though in that regard, and perhaps my tolerance levels are lower than most people? Dunno.



  37. Yo, Chris – Over here, “Greasy Spoon” is kind of a generic name, for any small, grungy cafe, that may or may not have good food. It’s a kind of vernacular short hand. Don’t know where it came from, but I’ve heard it since I was a kid.

    The ferns wouldn’t do it so tough, if you had a few well placed garden gnomes. To guard and encourage. Advise and warn 🙂
    Which reminds me … this weeks local auction is garden furniture, tools and yard art. I’ll put up a link when they get all the pictures up.

    Oh, yes. Both sides in our Civil War had submarines. The Monitor and the Merrimack. Maybe, a few more. Just a few years back, they rediscovered one with it’s whole crew intact. More or less. They could even identify the individual crew members. I think they gave them a look over, and then a decent military burial.

    Speaking of renewables, the most recent post at The Daily Impact, has to do with wind generators. Apparently, the first crop is ending their useful lives, and there’s not much to be done with the vanes. I don’t know. The first thing I thought of, since they’re mostly in flat areas, is to build swales.

    Woody’s love interest had a little cameo in “Jay and Silent Bob: Reboot.” They had quit a long interview with her, in the “extras.” Interesting how she broke into the business. She was literally, sitting on her front stoop, when a film company was filming in her neighborhood. 15 years old. As they sometimes say, about “naturals”, the camera was in love with her. Same with Nick Frost. Wonder what those two are up to, these days?

    I’d guess the young man with the tiny house, probably picks up a lot of scrap, on his carpentry jobs. Back when I had a small wood burner, besides standard fire wood, I was always finding bits and pieces, here and there. I’d even stop the truck for a nice bit of wood, sitting by the side of the road.

    Off to The Club, to gas with my mate, Scott. AKA, Scooter. Lew

  38. @ Chris – Here you go …

    Ooops. I think the Merrimack wasn’t a submarine. It was an ironclad. Another whole class of experimental Civil War ship. Lew

  39. Yo, Chris – Here it is. For your edification and amusement, the Garrison garden furniture, tools and yard art auction. If you click on the fist picture, and then click on the arrow at right, you can view it as a slide show. Or, click on individual pictures to get an enlarged view.

    As I have neither garden (to speak of) or yard, this isn’t one I’ll be attending. 🙂 Lew

  40. Hi Lewis,

    It’s quite a delightful sounding name and it hints at mysterious fooding possibilities. It good be a genius feed, or a complete disaster, and I feel that such places might fly to either side of the spectrum and leave the middle of the road experiences to other lesser (and less challenging) places to eat. 🙂 Never heard of it myself.

    The interesting thing about the area that Greasy Joes was located in was that it was very grungy – and had quite the reputation. Ladies and boys of the night plied their trade in back alleys, and there were frankly some quite questionable folks hanging around. A polite observation was that they were acting like Mr Inconspicuous. I never felt any sense of impending violence there.

    It was an odd place and had an old Victorian era amusement park (with a big dipper) and along the trading street were strip shops where you could buy vinyl records and also Jewish and Italian cake shops. The colours of the cakes behind the pane glass windows looked far better than they tasted, but the presentation was exceptional.

    The area is very gentrified nowadays, and I believe that the site where the burger place sat is now an apartment block. The last time I was there (well over a decade ago) the strip shops were still there but who knows what it is all like now. Sometimes I feel like a bit of a relic as a million additional people have been added to the city in only a decade and I can’t say that I’m a fan of such unchecked growth. Such a rate tends to spoil things.

    The gnomes might not be a bad idea, and I’ll keep my eyes peeled for such folk. They probably would have a positive effect on the fern gully.

    It is a mark of respect to identify the fallen soldiers (or mariners in this case) and then give them a proper burial. The folks paid a high price, and the editors dad told me a story about the German’s recruiting crews from the youngsters of his village for manning u-boats. He opinion of survival was quite candid as it was towards the end of the war and even that far from the coast the folks knew how things were turning.

    I read the article in the Daily Impact with interest. There is a similar problem with solar panels – and nobody has worked out a way to dispose or recycle the apparently quite toxic materials. Oh yeah, and people breezily dismiss notions that the entire system has to be rebuilt from scratch every couple of decades. As a society we are not up for it. And I heard a rumour about obsolescence of solar panels due to changed voltages. I’ll look into that rumour sooner or later, but the people who told me about it had no reason to make it all up.

    The solar panels may make a water tight chicken enclosure roof?

    Clerks 2 was one of the wrongest films I have seen since perhaps Harold and Kumar escape from Guantanmo Bay. Both films were so wrong, but so very funny. Sometimes I just enjoy a really base laugh – and they were very politically incorrect and sometimes so wrong…

    Haven’t heard about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost for a while. Have you heard about anything about them? And is the new Star Trek film crew up for any new films?

    Yeah, the bloke mentioned accessing the scrap to make his tiny house. A wise move and I have heard an account of a bloke that built his house using scrap he scrounged whilst working at building sites. There’s a lot of waste at such places, and I originally wanted to build this house from scrap, but building a house is also a legal process subject to professional capture by project builders, and with the changes to the bushfire building standards – mate I got done. But I didn’t let it get me down, and I just got on with the job. It ended up costing far more than I was comfortable with though, for what is a small house. Oh well, I don’t make the rules, I just gotta know the rules and know how to live with them. It would be nice if the process was easier though because it brings a lot of pain to people.



  41. Hi Lewis, DJ and Jo,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however the mid-week hiatus continues unabated today. Far out it 35’C here today and up until about 2pm I was out in the sun repairing the bright yellow trailer. I was done in by that and had to then run errands. My entire day has been eaten by work. Oh well.

    Fortunately tomorrow the forecast looks set to reach 43’C (that’s 109’F in the other measurement language) and I should have hours for a chat, so feel free and go crazy in the knowledge that replies shall be forthcoming!!! Well unless anything really bad happens, and that would be really bad.

    Until then!



  42. Hi Chris,

    Yeah, the Tesla was quite happy with – 5 degree Celsius overnight temps, I suspect, but dont know for sure, it has active cooling and heating to help manage the battery packs.

    As for houses, I have personally witnessed the inverse relationship between price and care factor. I think people like to look clever on small purchases, and care free on large. The numbers are mind blowing though, with even a 5% saving for a house leading to 2-3 years of labour…

    As for the lighthouse movie, Hmmm, well, I would have liked to see it at the Cinema. But, beware, it is a strange film. I suggest nothing!

    In other news, Mrs damo and I are in Tokyo right now. We are staying in a suburb (not right term, Tokyo is divided into Prefectures), and it feels like a village inside a city. We walk to the train station and pass tiny storefronts selling bread, fish, or clothes mending services. But, we are within a few minutes train journey of the massive Shinjuku or Ueno Prefectures. It is very different, but I can see it how it works. Also, everything is so quiet. 5000 people must be within few hundred metres, living in 3~4 storey apartments bisected by narrow, calm streets and alleys . I feel like an uncultured barbarian when I close a door too loudly! Tomorrow we travel by shinkansen (?) to Hiroshima.


  43. Hi Lew,

    I have read phone charges are a bit much in your part of the world. For comparison, Mrs Damo pays ~15 a month for 2 gig of data and plenty of minutes/texts. If she only wanted to receive calls, that would be 2/month in Australia. Mind you, it is even cheaper in Europe and Asia. I think we are all been taken for a ride! As for support, hah, well I have heard it well spoken of! Glad to hear you found someone who has some worth speaking about!

    Re: star trek movies/Chris
    The last I heard there were no more Simon Pegg movies planned at this stage. Number 3 basically broke even, or perhaps even lost money, so there would not be much enthusiasm I imagine, at least for a few years until they can ‘reboot’ it again?


  44. @ Margaret – Don’t think I could sleep with that clock in the house! :-). Reminds me of that movie (which I only saw the trailer) “Chuckie.”

    I was curious about Archie McPhee. Looks like they’re still there. But, they opened, after I lived, in Seattle. “Gifts, Toys, Novelties and Weird Stuff.” And the clock would be … 🙂 Lew

  45. Yo, Chris – Wikipedia has a short entry on “greasy spoon.” First saw the light of print (day?) in 1906, trotted out by none other than Robert Louis Stevenson. Describing a place he had known in Paris. “Comfort food” is thrown about. And, yes, they can be very very bad, or very very good.

    One of the greasy spoons I slung hash in, was in a very dodgy part of Seattle, similar to what you describe. Seattle, skid row. Before it also, got all yupped out and gentrified. I was coming and going, at all hours of the night, and never felt threatened. That was in the early 70s. A more innocent time :-). The thing is, at least then, if you become a known quantity, to that community, even on the fringes, such as me, the folks watch out for each other.

    When I worked in Portland, in a similar area, I’d lock up the bar/cafe at 3am. Never anyone on the streets. At that time, late 70s, Portland had a mounted police patrol. I never saw them, but could hear the sound of horse hoofs, echoing off the buildings. I figured if I got in a jam, if I could hear them, they could hear me, if I gave a shout.

    I think I’ve seen, most of Kevin Smith’s movies, over the years. But I’m delving into his ouvre, again. At the library, I found, sitting on the shelf, “Yoga Hosers”, which he directed. Staring his daughter. It was very, very silly. I also spotted a copy of “Mall Rats”, which I may watch, tonight. Over a pint of pumpkin spice, ice cream!

    Went to one of the cheap food stores, early (way too early) this morning, and discovered that treasure. A few other things. A pound of good butter for $3. Not bad.

    This new noro virus has me a bit twitchy. I’m keeping an eye on the news. If we get cases in Tacoma, or Olympia, I’ll probably go into lock down, for a week or two. Actually, the mortality rate isn’t much worse than the standard flu, but, hospitals could be overwhelmed. If it gets in the homeless population of our big cities, it could get really ugly. I’ve still got some good face masks, stashed away, from our last smoke event.

    I saw a three minute clip, from Dunsmore, New South Wales. A three minute clip of dash cam footage, of an engine over run by the fire. Unbelievable. From dead calm to winds of 100 kph. Both sides of the road went up, and it was all over in three minutes. The fire crew was fine, and saved the property they were defending. Lew

  46. Hi, Chris!

    It is hard to imagine an option, when faced with a house that won’t sell, other than just keeping it on the market, though I see that you have used another tactic. It took us a year to sell our first house. I have relatives who just walked away from their upside-down mortgaged house and left it to the bank who held the mortgage. The irksome thing is that we continued to pay our own mortgage while they lived for free in the house for 18 months without making any payments. Then the bank sold it and the relatives got a $60,000 chunk of money out of the sale for some reason, while not having to pay any more on the loan. One of them was pretty good at dodging the tax man, also.

    That is useful advice on what worked for the two of you when, after the failed auction, you retrenched and altered your thinking on what might make the house sell.

    It looks like you may have lost half of that locust tree. You are so right – those thorns are something to be reckoned with.

    Poor Scritchy, it’s always something these days. Now she can’t even have a nap without some speckled boulder landing on her. Toothy is looking dapper. So is the speckled boulder.

    Your lone nectarine looks like the lone plum that we usually have – before some wild thing eats it.

    I am so happy to see the tomatoes!

    Your flowers are better than ever. Whatever weird weather you get it doesn’t seem to bother them. Today I planted some snapdragon seeds indoors; they are slow to germinate and grow and the ones I grew last year were some of the longest bloomers of all. I am hoping that last year’s have self-sown, too. In fact, the ones I planted are from seed I saved. I have tried and tried to grow lavender from seed, and there yours are, self-seeding.


  47. Hi Jo,

    Hope the temperature is not too hot for you today? I see that Hobart reached 40’C but things may be different where you are. The weather tugboat is reporting 41’C right now. All very uncomfortable, and frankly rather unpleasant, but not out of the ordinary for this time of year. The plants are coping with the heat far better than I am – at least the tomatoes are growing strongly – but there are reports that there are widespread troubles with this delectable fruit this year. I was told an anecdotal account that a major supermarket chain had to – shock, horror – accept spotty fruit this year.

    I’m a real fan of Chilean Guavas and they are so productive and super hardy once they’re established. I really tried with the copper sprays on the nectarines and peaches, and the difference between where you are and here may also have something to do with the sheer humidity from Autumn through to Spring which can be over 90% for most of that time? Dunno. But it may also be (as you suggest) that I just stuffed the timing up too – or it is too hard to achieve the exact timing due to the humidity. The copper blue tree at the local nursery was a sad looking thing – and they may have taken your advice to the next level – but it didn’t work there. The plants are not traditionally grown in this mountain range. However, the trees here adapt, although they lose productivity and growth in the adaption. Interestingly, the almond trees (which are basically a peach tree) show no sign of the fungus. Dunno, but I gave up spraying a few years back and it just didn’t seem to matter as the results were the same. I’m really not sure what is going on and haven’t considered the matter for a few years now.

    For the record, once the infrastructure here is more or less better than it is now, I intend to put more effort into the plants. One can only do so much.

    There are three hundred various fruit trees here, all demanding my attention. If any were as marginal as those that you described in the English walled and covered gardens, they would have long since been fed to the rapacious wallabies! 🙂

    How is your writing going? I do hope that you are continuing to write for the most excellent publication? It has a noble and long pedigree that particular publication and I enjoy your writing. 🙂



  48. Hi DJ,

    Mate, it is very hot here today, and I’m typing away on this reply to you whilst on the laptop and sitting under a ceiling fan at the dining room table. The ceiling fan in my office appears to have given up the ghost as on the highest setting the blades spin at a desultory pace. And I can hear a distinct whine from the motor. My gut feeling tells me that the brushes are at their wear limit. What a day to discover that failure – and the fan is only a decade old and doesn’t work that hard. It is 29’C inside the house and it feels cool compared to outside where I noted 41’C about half an hour ago.

    Oh no! I thought that I’d gotten in the last word on the circular joke skit (and felt suitably smug to boot), but no! I tend to think that the ongoing circular joke skit makes the world go around. 😉 There’s a ways to go my friend, a ways to go around… Hehe!!!!

    Your contention is spot on, the food was really good there. It was over two decades ago and nobody had heard of a gourmet burger in those days, and mate, they were good. The spoof was very prescient, and in the vein of ‘Bored of the Rings’ parody. I have noticed that there is a direct correlation between “The cleaner the establishment” the greater the gut health issues. Cleaning is good, however, there is a point of diminishing returns whereby more cleaning produces negative health impacts. I have noticed several examples of people who suffer from serious digestive complaints where their dogs also suffer from serious digestive complaints. It is unlikely that this is mere coincidence. Interestingly I am also noticing that there has been a significant rise in auto-immune diseases as well as some intriguingly strange and inexplicable diseases such as antibiotic resistant flesh eating bugs. My gut feeling (please excuse the gallows humour) is that at the core of these matters is people using hospital strength cleaning agents in their homes and their really oddball diets.

    Hehe! Old Sam’s pit sounds exactly like what Greasy Joes appeared to, to my much younger self. Enjoy the food and don’t inquire into other folks business whilst also understanding that the toilet is necessarily locked for very good reasons which don’t need to be explained to the likes of one as innocent as myself. The nightlife there was to put it mildly ‘seedy’, but I never felt at risk of anything dodgy happening. The establishment is now an apartment block nowadays I believe. All for a few dollars more.

    Well, yeah there has been a few occurrences of the disease here (three in this state that they are aware of), but at least the authorities are taking the matter seriously. Imagine being on a flight with such folks? Air travel ain’t what it used to be! The government in an act of wisdom is preparing to repatriate stranded folks to a nearby off shore island and put them under quarantine. And apparently the folks are complaining about the apparent charge of $1k for the service. I wouldn’t hang around in Wuhan waiting for a better and cheaper offer. I have heard it remarked upon before that the gubmint is not an insurer of last resort.

    You’re right too. I know someone who used to work in diabetes research and they remarked once to me that exercise is everything where that condition presents itself, and a greater factor than diet.

    Hmm, the poodle and dude may soon be formally introduced to Ollie. Ollie is very well behaved but I suspect that he will have no truck with foolish anxiety ridden poodles. It is worth noting that Ollie does not suffer from anxiety. They might become friends, but I sort of doubt it.

    Exactly. Don’t unduly wear yourself out worrying about something that makes little to no sense. I only mention this possibility because if it makes no sense, then perhaps it was never meant to make sense in the first place and that is always a possibility. When people talk to me about retirement, they’re always angling for an answer to how much mad cash they need. Nowadays I answer the question by suggesting this: Mates; purpose; and hobbies. And for some reason people always look perplexed by my response.

    It is a good name for a band, and who knows what kind of electronica music that you lot could come up with? Yup, shut the suitcase and enjoy the ride whilst waiting for the benefits to roll on in. Hey, it is 40’C here now, so things could always be worse. I don’t poke clients or employers if only because the benefits are few, whilst the downsides are err, low down. Why invite trouble?

    Nature usually lets us all know what to expect. It is really weird but I enjoyed an excellent strawberry season and a really rubbish raspberry season, and in speaking with commercial orchardists they’re doing it tough too this year. Dunno.

    Are you enjoying the Australian Open? The event is held at a tough time of the year, but it sure does sort the wheat out from the chaff. Cricket is the same and there is a question of endurance to be able to stand out in the sun on scorching hot days and continue to perform. I know someone from the UK who remarked to me that sunscreen was a joke, but down here it is no joke at all, and very necessary. Maybe for them it is though with moderate UV ratings. Despite wearing sunscreen when outside my skin still shows the summer sun. The sun even burns through layers of clothing. I heard a quote about the sun here that: Nobody knows the sun until they’ve felt it down under.

    Ollie may well make a good corporal. He may even make a good sergeant. But as a fluffy captain? Dunno, he’s still too young for me to see clearly what he is capable of. Time will sort that out.



  49. Hi Damo,

    Honestly, I don’t know nearly enough about the practical side of deep cycle lithium battery technology to be able to make a coherent statement about Tesla batteries. I did speak in the past with some folks who used lithium deep cycle EV batteries in an off grid application and they mentioned that there was a need for a ‘Battery Management System’ which measures individual cell voltages down to three decimal places. I opined at the time that such fine tolerances made me very uncomfortable. And they reported that they had the occasional dead cell, but again this wasn’t direct personal experience, so I really can’t make any meaningful statements about the technology.

    However, over winter the sealed lead acid batteries can get down to about 11’C and that does make them a bit sluggish and reduces their capacity. From what I understand the specifications are generally rated at 25’C and they batteries are often not even that warm due to being in a heavily insulated battery room.

    There is a major, major, solar power upgrade project on the cards, and I may know more about that project tomorrow. It is very exciting, but don’t count one’s chickens and something about eggs and roosters, but I have little experience with roosters because they foolishly woke me up in the wee hours of the morning and suffered the consequences. That rooster noise may have had something to do with rats in the old chicken enclosure, so who knows… It was possibly all my fault. All I can say today on the subject is that it’s complicated.

    Exactly, people will agonise about small purchases, and yet they think nothing of larger purchases. This indicates to me that the larger purchases may comport with their per-conceived stories that they hold deeply: Like property always gains in value? I tell you, I have lost money on property, and watched the market slide 40% in a short period of time. It can happen. Although at the moment, the expansionary money supply policies (i.e. gubmint debt printing) are propping up the asset inflation story. In some respects it is a major con.

    Go Tokyo! I would enjoy such a place too, although having read the same book, I would be in no uncertain understanding as to how us barbarians are viewed. 🙂 Perhaps you need to add in an occasional ‘Ugg’ to your casual conversations? Hope the trains are nice?



  50. Hi Pam,

    The ancient military genius Sun Tzu may have once quipped – although I can’t be sure as to the veracity of this quote, and may have even made it up – If at first you don’t succeed, try something unexpected and completely different. He may have been onto something with that thought, although he has been under the soil for so long now that we can hardly ask him? 😉 I guess what I learned from the episode was that people talk a big game, but they really want the expected. As an example, it is one thing to talk about sustainability, but it is another thing to confront the realities of a massive food grade polyethylene water tank in a back yard where there would otherwise be a parked vehicle. I dunno, but I read a very thoughtful article the other day from a lady who was concerned about her families environmental footprint. Now, she set herself the goal of reducing that footprint by about 7% for the year. The implication was that the goal was a formidable goal for the family – and I cannot know the veracity of the claim, but interstate and overseas holidays were mentioned. Now at 7% reduction year in and year out for a decade, that would reduce their current footprint by half, but the commitment was only for a year. Hmm, it is a worthy goal, but it was clear to me that the family wanted their current perquisites, but on a sustainable footing – and it never crossed their minds that it may be an impossible goal. I sort of feel that we are at the stage where one needs to consider adding back into the system so as to make it more productive – and there is a cost to that, but this is a very left of centre point of view. Time will sort it all out so I don’t worry about such things.

    It is 31’C / 88’F inside the house right now at 7pm and compared to outside, it feels cool in here…

    Ah-ha! There is a difference between your country and ours. You have what is perhaps technically known as a non-recourse mortgage arrangement. This means that there is no recourse against the borrower if the payments cease. Of course the borrower may get kicked out or have to abscond, but that is a different matter. Down here the mortgage attaches itself to the house and also the borrower so they are not easily gotten out of.

    There is an old saying about only those who know the system are able to successfully rort it.

    Future shocks, whatever they may be are perhaps more easily navigated when a person has a mindset that allows them to adapt to new circumstances as they present themselves. Dunno about you, but the opposite viewpoint is of people demanding that things be a certain way – even in the face of lived experience.

    Only those that know, know about the thorns of a locust tree. I discovered the effect when weeding as one thorn went into my arm over an inch deep and it was bonkers sharp. I was quite surprised to see how deeply lodged the thorn was when I removed it from my arm.

    Truly, I urge you not to feel any sympathy for the elderly Scritchy. That dog has lived one charmed life and been promoted way beyond her competency. I like her, but she can be a very mean doggie.

    I read a report that tomatoes are in such short supply this year that a large supermarket chain apparently had to accept fruit with blemishes. Who’d have thunk it? And the plants handle the heatwave far better than I am coping. The fluffies are wiped out and the orange freckle monster is sitting at my feet.

    The flowers in the garden have been selected over many years – and some years have been hotter and drier than this one. It is very hot and smokey here today and the wind is howling – all up not very pleasant. But the plants are growing.

    It is impressive as to how early you are beginning your seedlings. And yup, selecting plants is a worthy goal.



  51. Hi Lewis,

    Robert Louis Stevenson is a fine line of heritage for a word. I note that there are some places down here that offer the quintessentially British concept of: Breakfast menu served all day. Those types of places are getting rarer as menu’s often differ between breakfast, lunch and dinner. There was an image on the Wikipedia page of a Greasy Spoon diner in Brooklyn and it reminded me of a place around the corner from where I used to live in the inner suburbs of the big smoke: Danny’s burgers. The place had been going for longer than I’d been aware of it and possibly dated back to the 1940’s, and they cooked burgers late into the evening. I used to enjoy eating there and often the place was packed out with patrons. It surprised me how busy the place could be late into the evening, and the editor and I occasionally used to order dinner there when we’d had a bonkers long work day on the house. The burgers were good, and the chips were better, but alas they did not stoop to such innovations as sliced beetroot in the mix. Ah, the sacrifices we have to make.

    Yeah, such places do not dwell in the middle ground, if only because they cannot enjoy such niceties. And if they survive the test of time, they’re probably either pretty good or pretty convenient.

    Mate, it was bonkers hot here today. The outside thermometer recorded 42’C / 108’F and I just opened up the house to the cooler (well, from my perspective) outdoor air at 7.40pm. The temperature inside right now is 31’C / 88’F which certainly beats being outside in the sun. 🙂 The ceiling fan in my office where I normally reply to comments appears to have carked it, and I will definitely have to replace it. The machine was only a decade young, and possibly well outside the warranty period.

    I may soon be undertaking an epic upgrade of the solar power system. More on this topic tomorrow. It will make a difference to winter electricity production so fingers crossed that the moons align.

    Out of curiosity, I feel that the gentrification was not necessarily an improvement, and would be curious as to your opinion? Granted there might be a sense of nostalgia to my thoughts, but I also never felt in any imminent danger in that place back in those days. And it was a great place to get some really good food on the cheap. Now the area is gentrified, it seems over-run with folks and there is a certain element of pushiness and expectations to the folks there. Plus I feel the sheer volume of folks is a daunting prospect for me to encounter. Dunno, but I don’t visit the area now. Yeah, maybe you got to the heart of the matter in that it was a more innocent time? I like the sound of that thought.

    Yeah, in the inner southern suburbs of the big smoke there used to also be a mounted police presence. I doubt that that is happening nowadays, but from what I’m learning in the Camulod books, such a presence would be a formidable thing to confront on foot. When I was a young bloke doing part time Uni at night after a full day of work I would sometimes very occasionally encounter unusual folks on the train ride home. The strange folks fell into two categories, those who wanted to introduce me to the Lord and couldn’t see that I was more interested in reading my fantasy books, and then there were those that wanted a fight just because. Usually the fight club types just wanted to have a chat with some poor shmuck stuck on an otherwise empty train late at night and especially when they knew that occupants of the carriage had no easy get away. One learned how to defuse angry folks pretty quickly. Nowadays the trains I believe are quite busy – even late at night.

    Mall Rats was quite an amusing film. I tend to prefer the Clerks I and II series of films. Heck, when I think about it, I even liked chasing Amy as it was a complicated story about difficult people. Not sure it was a comedy though, more a drama.

    There is a bit of the exponential growth in the coronavirus, but like you I am unsure if the death rate exceeds that of the more usual influenza virus. At this stage it is a be concerned, but possibly not alarmed until local cases go up at a similar rate. That influenza virus kills a heck a lot of people every year, and I have twice suffered its grip and mate it knocks you down hard for a few days. People who have never suffered it feel that it is a cold, but not so, it is far worse. I get the flu shot now because of experiencing just how nasty the virus is. Yuk! There are three cases now in this state.

    Oh, and it may amuse you to note that Australian’s wishing to escape the Wuhan province into an offshore quarantine have to register their interest. Seriously… We do queues. Mate I’d jump at such an offer, although there is talk and complaints of costs of $1k – which is hardly representative of what such extraction and quarantine would actually cost. Coronavirus evacuations from Wuhan to Christmas Island announced, but questions remain. I guess complaining about the extraction is an option, but I wouldn’t possibly take such an approach.

    We’ve had something of a hot weather record today. Hobart (the capital of the island state of Tasmania), Melbourne (the capital of the state of Victoria) and Canberra (the nations capital city) all recorded maximum temperatures of 40’C / 104’F or over. I’d call that an extensive heatwave, and the bushfires are still going strong. At this stage, only heavy rain over a long period of days and weeks will put them out. There is a large fire just south of our nations capital.



  52. Hello again
    I do wish that we were told how many people are recovering from the coronavirus not just the death figures. I also think that it sounds similar to flu.
    The property that I failed to sell at auction, took 2 years to sell and yet it made the greatest profit that I have ever made on a property. Selling idiosyncratic properties is always a chancy game, easier if it is a conventional home in a street but they have less potential for profit.
    One can’t walk away from a mortgage here either.


  53. Hi Inge,

    Yes, the infection rates from what I understand are increasing exponentially, but at this stage the death rates appear to be around the same as the influenza virus, however these things are subject to change at short notice. And if I recall my history correctly the Spanish flu went through two phases, and the first was less lethal than the second phase. Interestingly people who had survived the first phase were less prone to dying of the second phase.

    Yeah, walking away from a mortgage is a definite no go down here too! We share your legal system and customs, and the banks have transferred much risk onto the borrowers by achieving such an outcome.

    Idiosyncratic is such a nice way to describe the situation. My patience probably does not extend to that sort of time period! 🙂 It is a personal failing.

    Far out it is hot and humid here. Tonight it feels as if I live in the tropics. At 9.30pm it is 28’C / 82’F and very humid. The last time I checked, I’m meant to live in a very cool temperate climate… Mustn’t grumble, but I am sweating in the heat down here. The clouds are sealing in the heat for the night.



  54. Chris:

    I used to run around in circles trying to figure out – and worrying about it – what I could do to improve my footprint. I no longer run in circles, or worry. I haven’t given up, I still do my best, but I see a bigger picture now and, you are right, things get sorted.

    How do you “rort”? Is there a dandy electric tool for that?

    Eeeww. I had a long bamboo sliver run into my arm once and it got badly infected, which rarely happens to me.

    Those snapdragons can take 3 weeks to germinate, and they like cool weather, so an early start is good. This is insurance, as I hope they will be sprouting up all over in the bed. I especially hope to keep this color going. I call it “Velvet Purple Sunset”. What do you bet it has crossed with another color? I had lots of different colors growing.


  55. @ Damo – I see Mr. Pegg has a couple of dramas / thrillers coming out. I much prefer him in silly comedies. But, I see Nick Frost is doing something fun. “Horrible Histories – Rotten Romans.” Looks like my kind of movie. Lew

  56. Yo, Chris – The picture on Wikipedia, of the greasy spoon, is pretty much identical to the places I worked. Except mine were about half the size. Off the right side of the picture frame would usually be booths, or, a scattering of small tables.

    Seems like any fairly sized city, had an “open all night” hangout. Somewhere for the after bar crowd, to go. And, the workers from said bars. Usually, they’d start serving a breakfast menu, after 2am. Some places have a “breakfast served anytime” option. For an extra edge.

    I guess gentrification is ok, if you like that sort of thing 🙂 . But, neighborhoods loose their interesting individuality, and everything becomes blandly same. Poorer long time residents are driven out, due to rising property taxes. “Progress” and business. Creations of areas that are “not my sort of place”.

    By, the by, we have a phenomenon here, called a dollar store. We are getting three of them (all in outlying areas) belonging to the same chain. Besides the one we already have, of a different flavor.

    Your weather sounds awful (to me). And, what a time for the ceiling fan to pack it in. We’re on a flood watch (again) and, there is snow in the forecast, Sunday/Monday. Not very much, if it shows up, at all. We’ll see.

    I watched “Mall Rats”, last night. It was fun. But, there was something I’d couldn’t quit put my finger on, that seemed off. The dialogue seemed a bit mannered. Stilted. They had some extras, on the disc. I guess it flopped at the box office. But, later picked up a cult following, on tape and DVD.

    Yeah, a lot of our nationals are back from China. In quarantine and locked up on some military base, I think in New Mexico. No matter what government or health authorities do, someone is going to be unhappy.

    Which brings me to … The Greek and Roman gods and goddesses are a gift that just keeps on giving. 🙂 I ran across a new one. Momus. The Greek god of sarcasm, criticism and mockery. At one point, the rest of the gods got tired of all his wingeing, and tossed him off Mt. Olympus. Probably after he expressed the opinion that Venus, was just perfect. Except for her squeaky sandals. He had a twin sister. Oizys. Goddess of misery. Apparently, she didn’t have much of a cult following. Lew

  57. Chris:

    Somewhat related to sustainability and footprints, I guess, is this: When driving past one of our grocery stores the other day I noticed that they had little bundles of firewood for sale out front. This is not unusual; there are always little bundles of sort-of-local firewood, shrink-wrapped in plastic, for sale in the winter at exorbitant prices in front of most grocery stores. But this time I saw bundles labeled “European Split White Birch” shrink-wrapped in plastic; sadly, I could not see the price from my car.

    This probably doesn’t happen to you because you all are neat as, but occasionally a log is put in the fireplace that has wet mud stuck to it. After the log is burned, a piece of “pottery” is left, all baked. What do you bet that is how people first discovered how to make pottery?


  58. Chris,

    That’s rough, losing the ceiling fan. 10 years seems pretty short life for one of those?

    We’re having a heat wave today and Saturday: +12C. Then a cool spell then back to +6C during the day and barely freezing at night. Also, a windstorm until Saturday evening, with gusts perhaps as high as 100 kilometers per hour. Rural roads, paved, are getting soft underneath. The gravel roads are turning to mud. This means my busy season at the job starts next week. I have a new tech to be my assistant this year, so this will help.

    I’d say something about the joke becoming orbital, but we might have said that already, in which case we’re getting repetitious, but so far have avoided any cyclonic issues.

    My parents were germophobic. I tend to think today that this limits the good bacteria that we eat, weakens the immune system, and also leads to increased prevalence for allergies. Add in the industrial strength cleansers that you mentioned and voila! Here comes the increase in autoimmune diseases and perhaps even things like increased prevalence of people on the autism spectrum. There might not be exact causation, but my gut (hehehe) says that these things are all interrelated. Add the plethora of fast food, not enough fruit and vegetables, and a lot of problems get explained.

    Sam’s Pit was beyond filthy. My sister was one of the officials who had to investigate it and eventually close it down. The floors were greasy, things were growing all over, etc. There’s a book about different police actions in Spokane from about 1880 to 1995. There was a section on Sam’s Pit. My sister was mentioned by name. I’m not sure I’d want my name associated with that place in any way, shape or form.

    Miner Burger is an attraction in Yakima, Washington. They advertise that if you can eat a Miner Burger and order of fries (Aussies would call them chips), in an hour, the meal is free. I’ve seen the size of the meal. It would feed me for 3 days. I got in-laws that eat gobs of food each meal. They didn’t come close to getting it eaten in an hour.

    I read that Trump and the health authorities have determined that only USA citizens (no foreign nationals) may return from corona virus areas BUT will have a mandatory 14 day quarantine. Only 6 airports are allowed to accept these flights.

    Ya know, if someone has enough assets and potential income to ask questions about how much money they need for retirement, they’re asking the wrong questions and barking up the wrong tree. Your answer of mates, purpose and hobbies agrees with my observations of people who are retired and enjoying it. The Princess was adamant several years ago that I learn a hobby and join a hobby group. I’m glad I listened to her and got into the carving and pyrography. Most of the people in our club have senses of humor that are as fractured as mine.

    A lot of life doesn’t make sense. Humans are too small to make sense of everything. As we’ve been discussing, adapting to changes and being resilient work better for some of us than trying to make sense of it all.

    Yes, we’ve been enjoying the Australian Open. We got to see several of the early rounds live during our evenings, being 19 hours behind Melbourne time. We record the late matches and watch them later, although the Princess did stay up some nights to watch her favorites play live. Alas, our favorites mostly have been eliminated. I’d record and watch the women’s singles final, but the Princess would see me, ummm, paying too much attention to one player’s legs and might get rather upset. Upsetting Princesses is always a bad idea, so I might be content with reading about the match.

    I used to use “SPF 7” in the sun and would tan but not burn. Not now. I’ve developed a skin allergy to most sunscreen lotions. After 9 or 10 a.m. when working outside, I wear a lightweight long sleeve shirt. That works for me. My dad would burn through shirts, however, even in Spokane.

    Thordog was our fluffy captain, although he and Cheyenne fought over that job once she was about 3 years old. Thor was too arbitrary to be a good boss fluffy, but he was established here before we got Cheyenne as a puppy, so that wasn’t going to change. In certain aspects, he was always the boss. For many things, however, Cheyenne, who was infinitely smarter than Thor, was able to be the boss while making Thor think that he was. It will be interesting to see how Ollie operates around dogs who are younger than he is and new to your farm.


  59. Hi Pam,

    Like you, I went through the same journey of feelings before finally reaching the freeing state of acceptance. Understanding about limits, deep history and ecology helped me a lot, and just accepting that what will be, will be – and then remembering to do your best and try and put something back into the land. The land sort of needs the help!

    Rorting sounds like something a rotary hoe machine would do. 🙂

    Ouch. And yup, different timbers produce different reactions, and sometimes you just can’t wash the area impacted by the splinter – and who knows what was on the timber? The local silver wattle produces a similar reaction with me, and somebody told me once that there is a toxin on the branches. It was quite the mess. Nowadays I wash scratches with ethanol, but just in case I got a tetanus booster shot recently. You can never be too careful about these things.

    Snapdragons are really pretty plants, and it never occurred to me to raise flowering plants from seed. It’s a good idea. I generally leave flowering plants to their own devices.

    Yup, those bundles of large plastic bags filled with firewood chunks are seen in these parts too and they are remarkably expensive for the volume of firewood contained therein. I’m not sure about your part of the world, but down here I have always felt that such things were aimed at tourists or cashed up weekenders.

    That thought would never have occurred to me about the clay, but I reckon you’re spot on. Our ancestors were remarkably observant folks, and someone such as yourself, would have noticed for sure. I reckon a lot of things are like that. Imagine discovering yoghurt from some forgotten batch of milk which became too hot in the sun. Or beer from a forgotten batch of barley that has somehow gotten wet during a summer rain. Or how about salting olives so as to make them edible? Surely someone hungry enough discovered a branch full of olives floating in the ocean one day. It is amazing the stuff that is there to be seen right in front of our eyes.



  60. Hi Lewis,

    Did you enjoy working at the greasy spoon? I ask the question knowing that the answer may depend greatly upon the day and the volume of customers. Incidentally, your description matches Danny’s burgers exactly. The image on the Wikipedia page displayed vast quantities of front of house kitchen, and that is not usually the case. What is with the booths? Down here such places have booths, but such seating arrangements are rarely seen otherwise. The local pub for example has a dining room which I never venture into, and then there is the public bar with a long bar to sit at, or there are tables of different sizes located throughout the public bar. There is also the outdoor dining area, which is usually pretty busy on a warm summers evening. I’d imagine that the outdoor dining area is pretty quiet tonight because the unbelievable tropical heat finally gave way to heavy monsoonal rain. Almost an inch of rain has fallen over the farm. Yay for rain!

    It is very humid here right now, but at least the air temperature is much cooler. It is drizzling outside right now and I’m enjoying the feeling of being cold. This morning was so hot and humid that sweat was pouring off my brow, and at one stage I had to grab a dry towel and had to dab and dry my face.

    I received a princely gift this morning from a bloke who is a friend of a friend. The gift came out of the blue, and will entail a bit of expense this end. As always there is a story to the gift which I shall tell on the next blog. I heard about the gift when I was at a friend’s going away (to the land of the long white cloud) party two weeks ago. Other people may muck around, and I’m fine with that, but I am not one such to take that option.

    Yeah, that was the case with such places, and sometimes you just need a feed in the middle of the night. When I was a young bloke my very first girlfriend liked going to clubs (which I disliked, but accepted as part of the package). Getting some food in the wee-hours of the morning was a necessary thing. The crowd at such places was a strange mix, and you’re spot on about the late night workers congregating at such places. I noticed that if a place was any good there would inevitably be off-duty taxi drivers and also the local constabulary on night shift would pop in for a feed. Shift work would do my head in, but for the people who do such work – well they need a feed too. As a long term physical and mental health strategy, and as someone who worked full time and studied part time for many years, I thereafter eschewed girlfriends who wished to go clubbing into the wee-hours. But in my young and dumb phase there seemed little option to avoid that activity! 🙂 Such hardships. I recall falling asleep during one notably boring lecture at Uni.

    Hehe! Yeah not a fan of gentrification. Those seedy areas developed randomly and spontaneously, and they had a certain charm which more gentrified areas most certainly do not as they seek a sameness. But I accept that our points of view may be a minority opinion.

    I recall during the recession in the early 90’s that long term residents of some of the inner urban areas had to sell up and move due to the rising property taxes. The message in that story was not lost on me.

    I’m assuming that your dollar stores are a step below Wally-marts? Three of them though? My gut feeling suggests to me that they may end up cannibalising the other stores market share before turning toes up. It is a race to the bottom from my perspective.

    The weather here has been quite shocking: Victoria heatwave settles in for second day as humidity builds, bushfire risk increases. I have visited tropical areas, and the weather feels exactly like that. For the past two nights I have not slept well due to the heat and humidity.

    Not sure about ‘Mall Rats’ but I do know what you mean. I’d be curious as to your opinion, but I felt that the actors were a bit too old for the rolls that they were acting out.

    Your lot were lucky to have returned. I understand our lot are yet to leave the area, and 150 (of the around a 1,000) have so far applied to leave (we love orderly queues!) I don’t doubt that they will be extracted, but the plan is to leave them on Christmas Island for two weeks in quarantine just to be sure. I note that in your country there has been a person to person transmission of the virus from a person who was not in the area.

    a) I would pay;
    b) I would jump at the extraction offer; and
    c) I would not complain about the quarantine.

    Other’s may differ, and bully for them.

    Damo mentioned a new film: ‘The Lighthouse’, which is based loosely on an Edgar Allen Poe short story. Have you checked out the trailer? The word bonkers comes to mind, but in a good way.

    The other Gods show great discernment at the act of tossing off Momus, but on the other hand, Momus may have provided necessary criticism to those that would otherwise not appreciate the words. Thus perhaps their act precipitated their downfall? Hmm? I noted the story about the otherwise delightful and lovely Aphrodite. I recall in a more recent story that a bloke who recognised that he was on the Asperger’s continuum made an observation to someone that: ‘Nice haircut. Did you do it yourself?’ I don’t believe that the observation was meant to be harmful, it was just how he rolled and communicated, and Momus sounds a bit like that to me. Such folks perform a necessary function of critique, I mean look what happened to the high up folks on Olympus!



  61. @ Pam
    I think your suggestion about the discovery of how to make pottery, is utterly brilliant.


  62. Hi DJ,

    It is not good, but I suspect that the brushes in the motor have packed it in. I’ll replace the current machine with a new fan, and dismantle the dead one and try and ascertain what went wrong. I do suspect that it is the brushes that have failed, but trying to purchase replacement items may not be so easy. I would have expected the machines to have lasted longer than a decade as they are very simple devices, but you know I’ve already had to replace one unit.

    Of course there is always a little story to how the fans came to be, and I was unable to purchase higher quality ceiling fans at the time of installation over a decade ago and so bought two goodies and three not-so-goodies. Two down and one to go. The odds are not looking good for the remaining fan, but you never know it may outlast all of the others. You just can’t tell these days.

    Far out, that would be a hot winter’s day for me, let alone you guys. Holy sheet! Stay safe in the wind. Imagine how the ancient Roman roads fared after the fall of the Roman Empire. Such is your task. I tell you, my own dirt road has slowly become more crowned (the technical word for stuff accumulating in the centre of the dirt road) and yeah I do worry about niceties such as sump plugs on engines. I may have to get out with a rake and sort the mess out.

    About an inch of rain fell here today, which was frankly a relief. This morning felt like I lived in the tropical north of the continent, and sweat poured off my brow when working. I received a mysterious gift this morning and nobody in their right mind looks a gift horse in the mouth? Do they?

    Orbital! Mate, you’re good. 🙂 For some reason your word makes me feel that we have headed out into space – not deep space mind you – but more immediate space. I recall witnessing Halley’s Comet when it passed by in 1986, and dare I say it but the comet enjoyed an elliptical orbit which was, dare I say it: eccentric! We’ve got a ways to go my friend, a ways to go yet!!! 😉 And I did enjoy your mention of cyclonic…

    When I was a kid, a now deceased but very popular author worked in advertising. He penned a natty ad jingle about ‘Louis the Fly’ and it was memorable. But it spoke to the germophobes, and they ran with it. Now I see some cleaning products proclaiming that they are hospital strength and that is not such a good thing. The little critters unfortunately have a very rapid lifecycle and so like the Star Trek characters, The Borg, they adapt fast. And like you say, you randomly kill the good guys as well as the bad guys. I tend to feel that the precautionary principle applies here, and yeah, get a dog that will introduce all sorts of exotic microscopic flora and fauna.

    And yup, I have heard such claims and don’t necessarily dismiss them. The Chinese tend to describe the gut as our ‘second brain’, so we mess with it at our peril. Enjoyed the gut pun!

    Sam’s pit is possibly an example of taking things too far. And also I feel that the owner may not have been profiting from the activities going on there that sealed its demise. And there is also a school of thought that suggests that it is not a wise idea to make a target of oneself by flouting food laws. Incidentally wasn’t it the taxidermist man that took down Al Capone?

    Hehe! Yup. That is the point of such tests of food in take strength! Nobody within the bounds of normality could win such a feat.

    Yeah, I believe there are still some issues surrounding your dual-citizenship folks. There has apparently been a person to person transmission of the virus by a person in your country. The health officials here mentioned something about folks coming in from non designated areas (thus potentially avoiding detection), and so from that perspective it might not be a bad idea to keep routes open.

    Your lady is correct in her assertions, and I agree wholeheartedly! You’re a lucky man to have access to such wisdom. But I see and respect that you are carefully avoiding the upsetting of the getting of wisdom. Not a smart move that one, and I should point out that your lady may take action at your charming concentration upon the attributes of others. Hashtag just sayin…

    Ouch! It may surprise you but the UV here is so extreme I reach for the SPF 50 – and even then my exposed skin darkens throughout the summer and burns through layers of clothes. Doesn’t seem much that I can do about it if I want to get much done around here.

    Cheyenne sounds like he was a smart dog to me, and yeah Ollie might do fine when the time comes for him to step up. Thor sounds a bit like Toothy in that he spends so much time trying to be the boss dog, that he doesn’t get around to actually being the boss dog. Ollie on the other hand has a genuinely pleasant nature and he accommodates the others foibles of which there are many.



  63. Hi Inge,

    Oh my! Apologies I almost forgot – blame the heat and humidity affecting my sleep and squooshing my brain.

    Congrats on surviving Brexit. I do hope the sky hasn’t fallen down?



  64. @ Pam – You’re theory on the creation of pottery, makes perfect sense. From what I’ve read, hunter / gatherers had a lot more leisure time, than we generally suppose. Time to observe what was going on around them.

    Now I wonder who rolled the first little bit of clay into a ball, poked a hole in it, and let it bake awhile, in the fire pit?

    I also save flower seed. Mostly, bachelor buttons and Love-in-the-Mist. Yup. They freely seed themselves. But, sometimes, not where I want them to! Lew

  65. Yo, Chris – Hmmm. “Enjoy” my jobs at the greasy spoons? Wasn’t there a recent discussion here, about job enjoyment, satisfaction and “fun?” 🙂 . Well, a certain cloud of nostalgia, gets thrown over youthful memories. And, one tends to forget, or gloss over the horrible bits. Like the weekly cleaning out of the deep fryer. And, early jobs always yield a bumper crop of interesting stories. Where one is always the hero.

    Your comment on “front of the house” kitchen work, made me cogitate, a bit. The places I worked were in cities or towns. Where commercial real estate frontage, is at a premium. Spaces tend to be narrow … and long. See the door at the back of the cafe? I’d swear, I can see a dish washing machine, back there. Also, usually a good commercial oven and stove top (for the long and slow stuff), food prep areas, and maybe a refrigerated “walk in.” Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a “steam table” just past that grill? It’s where more bulk foods and soups are held at safe temperatures.

    When thinking about road restaurants, or free standing establishments, they’re more square. So, you have a customer counter, runway, work counter, pass through and then, kitchen. You can see the cook, but not in the detail you can when the grill is pretty much in front of the customer.

    Hmmm. Mystery gift. Large wooden horse? Is your departing friend of Greek extraction?

    Final thoughts on gentrification. “It’s just business. Nothing personal.” Just try and ignore the human wreakage (sic) and the busting up of established communities.

    Both the articles you linked to about the weather, and fires were interesting. A fire in the tip? Happens. I found the side bar about load shedding, of interest. I’ve been hearing a lot about brown outs, and black outs, but, so far, not a problem here.

    The article about forest regeneration, was familiar. Scientists were pretty amazed at how fast the forest around Mt. St. Helens, began bouncing back, after the eruption.

    Well, as I predicted a year ago, it’s here. We got a memo, yesterday, that sometime in the next year, our free wi-fi is going away. So, I’ll have some decisions, to make. There will still be a public computer, down in the Institutions, library. But, given how often shared machines are up and down in a community environment, that could be problematic. We’ll see. Time will tell. Lew
    PS: As I cut my own hair, if someone said, “Nice haircut. Did you do it yourself?” I’d be chuffed.

  66. Hello again
    I wasn’t expecting to react at all to the final arrival of Brexit, so was surprised by a surge of happiness. Now there are 11 months of transition so let’s see what that produces.


  67. Hi Pam,

    The ecology down here displays a remarkable ability to bounce back from trauma. It certainly won’t be the same collection of plants and animals as before the fires, but something will grow there. The ash beds left on the bare ground are just too fertile and light filled a place for plants not to grow. All they need now is rain and some time – and to try and remember to look after the land better in future.



  68. Hi Inge,

    Congratulations again, and glad that things are finally moving after three years of stalemate and prevarication. I’m not a fan of stalling once a decision has been made, although I have noted that a lot of other people feel and act very differently when confronted by decisions.



  69. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for understanding. Sunday is writing night!

    All good down here, and the weather was finally cooler. I potted around doing all the little activities that keep this place going. And we made a momentous decision about the gift.



  70. Hi Lewis,

    Oh you’re good! 🙂 I cannot dispute your wise words on that subject. There really is a certain amount of nostalgia to be had from recounting youthful memories and hi-jinks. Although if we are recounting such stories from hindsight, then that is perhaps indicative that we survived the experience (hopefully unscathed). I tend to enjoy the stories of the successful anti-hero who survives by sheer wits or force of personality.

    And cleaning out a deep fryer is a pretty unpleasant job. The oil is collected nowadays and put to other uses, but years ago I encountered a restaurant that had spilled the oil onto the road – and I only knew what had happened because my push bike slipped out from underneath me and I hit the road – hard.

    I realise that such places would accumulate regulars, but did you ever encounter any interesting folks whilst working at such a place? You know your stuff, and the description matches what I have seen of such places. My mates of the big shed fame have a commercial kitchen (for events) and it is exactly as you describe in the narrow incarnation. I had not heard of a steam table before, but yeah such food items need to be kept at a certain temperature so as to not encourage microbial growths. Food is as much of an art as it is a science.

    Mate on hot days down here, I do wonder how the staff are surviving in the kitchen. It would be a test of endurance, and standing near to a grill, toaster, or oven on such days would be only for the toughest. I have nothing but respect for folks who can work in commercial kitchens, as it is a tough school. I do note that staff turnover is often a lot higher in such business than pretty much anywhere else.

    Hehe! He’s hardly of Greek extraction. 🙂 I can’t believe that the Greek’s spent 10 years besieging the independent city of Troy. That is a level of passion that I probably can’t relate to, although I suspect that the folks of Troy really annoyed the daylights out of the Greek’s. You know what though, the Trojan priest Laocoön was correct. And in that spirit of knowing, but still accepting the gift, I have to end up doing a bucket-load of work and have to also unexpectedly throw a chunk of some savings at the dilemma presented by the gift. So yeah, Trojan horse is an apt analogy. Helen of Troy probably should have stopped mucking around and just set the dammed thing alight. They exhibited way too much pride.

    So true too about gentrification. I’m not a fan, but if you live in a society that thinks nothing of adding a million extra souls to a city in only a decade (that had almost previously run out of water in my lifetime), then gentrification is what ya get. It has been a lot of years since I have driven in the city on a weekend that I was gobsmacked by the sheer volume and busyness, where only years before had been paddocks. I fear that I am in danger of becoming a relic of a now forgotten time. A few years ago I read a book written by a female author who described how she herself had assisted in the busting up of established communities in the 1950’s, and I note that her account was written with a tone of a deep sense of regret.

    Oh yeah, tip fires are I’m only guessing one of the ways that recyclables are being processed these days. I mean – and this is total speculation – but if a tip was to be emptied by way of fire, then after a short interval it is ready to be filled up again. Due to the build up of plastics, we appear to have had a number of recycling fires in the past two years, although again I am purely speculating and have no real idea as to what I am talking about. Of course such places are literal powder kegs, all other considerations to the side. Plastic has an enormous amount of energy stored within it.

    You’ve been lucky to have dodged the brown out and black out problems. The other day reached 42’C with humidity, and I read somewhere that the megawatt hour had reached its ultimate form and price on the open generator market. There were some extreme weather events too: Destructive winds tear down power towers, trees and damage homes across Victoria.

    I read that the first confirmed death from the coronavirus has just occurred in the Philippines. One thing that is not reported upon is what is the recovery like for people who were infected and survived (something like 97.9% of infections)? Pneumonia apparently has a much higher death rate, but this one is spreading exponentially.

    Yeah, the forest bounces back pretty quickly after a fire, it just takes many years for the other life-forms that inhabit such environments to re-enter the establishing forests. When you are a slug, it is hard to move far in only a few generations.

    Ouch! I have long wondered about your free Wi-Fi predicament. As a suggestion, even dumb phones can act like modems, although you’d have to check just to make sure. When I’m mobile I used to use my dumb phone connected to my laptop in order to access the interweb, and had done so for many years. The data was included as part of the phone plan and I used it here as an emergency interweb connecting device thingee. There seems little point to me duplicating charges for a phone and a modem.

    I mentioned to you a few years back that I couldn’t believe that you were even enjoying free Wi-Fi. I have occasionally seen places that offer such goodies, but down here they are rare.



  71. Hello again
    Oh yes, I absolutely believe in making decisions and then getting straight on with them.


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