Heavy is the head

Years ago a bloke told me an odd story. There was no surprise that he was recounting an odd story because he was a bit of an odd bloke himself. Odd stories came naturally for him. He was no friend of mine either, just someone I’d bump into every now and then. And he’d invariably talk at me, and so to avoid the inevitable boredom, I became very good at avoiding him. But it’s a small world, and sometimes it is way too small and there is no easy escape from such encounters.

When I’d see the bloke I’d do my best to dodge him, whilst appearing to act all casual like. He was a bit of a nuisance, but otherwise mostly harmless. And a sensitive person can sometimes resent the precious lost minutes wasted whilst having to listen to such people drone on and on (and on).

As it turns out, I wasn’t alone in my feelings. Another local guy I know had accidentally gotten the odd bloke all out of sorts. And that was when he ended up being allegedly bombarded with 300 emails. Yeah, glad I dodged that particular bullet. The editor once encountered the local guy and myself deep in discussion about the odd bloke, and she was laughing about it and said something or other mysterious about a spontaneous group therapy session.

Anyway, the odd bloke clearly liked writing letters, and the odd story he recounted was, as you might have guessed it, about him writing a letter.

The story goes that the odd bloke was flying on an aircraft between the cities of Melbourne and Hobart. And clearly he’d decided to use his flight time productively, by writing a letter of course. He proudly informed me that the letter was addressed to the Greens political party and he was strongly urging them to use their influence to address the most pressing issue of Climate Change.

He seemed very proud of his letter. At the conclusion of the short story I was rather surprised because the sheer irony of the situation may have been lost on the odd bloke.

Fortunately for the odd bloke, I’m not the boss. There are times that I feel genuine sympathy and compassion for the plight of our political leaders. Imagine the difficulty of having to consider the mess of competing problems and predicaments that face our society, and then having to steer a course through the mess. Only to be faced with letters from people like the odd bloke demanding action on a problem that he himself is contributing too.

Of late, a lot of people have become fixated on the environmental concerns relating to air travel, but given that in Australia, the activity is now down to 3% of its only very recent levels, I’d have to suggest that the government can cross that particular problem off its ‘To-do’ list. Now, what’s next…

It has been remarked upon that: Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Why would anyone sane person want the leadership job of such a large enterprise as a country? I can well understand that our political leaders would have to face a barrage of whinges and demands, and all manner of oddness. Years ago I had to manage teams of people, and I can assure you that it is not an easy thing to do.

Back in my big bad old corporate days, teams were something I just had to deal with. That may explain why in these enlightened times I don’t employ staff. Over the years there were tears, drama’s and all manner of other weirdness from staff. The heavy emotional content just wore me down. Most people were really good, but when staff were bad, they were like super bad. And where is a convenient gulag to send the nuisances to?

Gulag’s are probably a really bad idea for miscreants, maybe. Anyway, such places are not really necessary, there are plenty of ways to get teams to do what they don’t want to do. It just takes a bit of mental energy and action.

It reminds me of a story relating to a cat I owned long ago. The previous people who looked after the cat advised me that the feline was a very fussy eater, and would only eat the most expensive of cat foods. This was a surprising observation, and no doubt part of the reason they were giving the cat away for free to me. I nodded sagely and took the cat.

Once the cat and I were out of earshot of the former owners, we sat down for a quiet conversation:

Chris: “So, what’s with the fussy eating routine?”

Cat: “I really like eating only the best foods. Those other humans said as much.”

Chris: “You’re alright, but you look like a normal street cat of uncertain parentage.”

Cat: “But those other humans said…”

Chris: “Forget about them. From now on, you’re going to eat the crap that my other cat eats.”

It took about a day to a day and half of an epic battle of wills with the cat, before the feline admitted defeat. Turns out the cat wasn’t that fussy after all, and ending up eating the crap the other cat ate. The technical word for that earlier state of affairs is spoilt. It is not a good thing to be spoilt. Spoilt is a funny word which is often misused, and I certainly wouldn’t feed spoiled food to a cat.

Such one on one responses work, but they don’t scale very well. They work better at a local level with people you know, or cats. But then here we are today, and air travel is down to 3% of its former level. Only a few months ago, I would never have imagined such a thing was possible. Strange days. With managing people, all I know is that I wouldn’t want to have to be the captain of this here big ship otherwise known as our society.

It has been a very damp and cold few days at the farm

The weather has been both damp and cold this week. It was very unpleasant being outside exposed to the drizzle and rain. Not much work was done around the farm. Some weeks are like that.

As we get closer to the winter solstice, the daylight has reduced and it is getting colder. On Saturday there was only half an hour of peak sunlight for the entire day, and Sunday was little better at about three quarters of an hour. Peak sunlight refers to the energy collected by the solar power system, where one hour of peak sunlight falling upon a 200W photovoltaic panel, will produce 200Wh for the entire day. This technology is good, but it is not good enough to run an industrial society.

With the days getting shorter in length, we turned our minds towards the garden light system. A few years ago, we had a string of LED lights installed on bollards located all around the garden. The lights had a cheering effect and the solar power system is smart enough to switch them on once the sun has dropped below the horizon and then run them for a set number of hours.

Observant and alert readers will notice that the previous paragraph is written in the ‘past’ tense. The garden light project was an epic failure. When the wildlife didn’t knock the lights over, the garden outgrew the bollards and they became hidden.

Down and out – one of many LED garden lights

Something had to be done, and so we began by replacing the largest garden light which is out front of the house. The old bollard was dug up and replaced by a much taller light pole. Due to the crazy wet weather, the cement took two days to set.

Out with the old and in with the new – LED lights

Once the cement had dried a bit we could install the remaining sections of the light pole. It looks pretty good now, and the LED light is more importantly sitting high above the vegetation.

The beginning of correcting the mess that is the garden LED light system

Whilst we were mixing cement (all by hand in a wheelbarrow), we also poured a new cement slab for the bee hive box to sit upon. Of course due to the prolonged wet weather, we had to protect the cement whilst it cures. The existing timber pallet that the bee hive sits upon has been slowly rotting and beginning to break apart during the wet weather.

A new concrete slab for the bee hive box to sit upon is being protected from the rain whilst the cement cures into concrete

Bee hives are interesting things and during winter, the house keeping bees sometimes eject out the dead bees. In the next photo there is also a dead European wasp. The wasps sometimes seek shelter in bee hives (or they attempt to steal honey) but it is a precarious option.

The bees have ejected their dead workers – and most likely killed this European wasp

The soap that was made a few weeks ago is now slowly curing. You know when it is ready for use because the soap changes from a cream colour to white.

The soap made only a few weeks ago is continuing to cure

Despite having days when the solar power system produces very little electricity, we are always looking out for new and useful ways to use the stuff. This week we tested out an induction cooktop, and it worked really well.

Testing out the new induction cooktop

Wet weather is a problem for puppies and young dogs. I have never known a puppy or young dog that has not attempted to, or succeeded in destroying their bedding. And it is only after the animals have experienced the full cold effect of their first winter that they stop being so stupid with their bedding. Fortunately I have access to a ready supply of coffee hessian bags and their kennels are thickly lined with the hessian bags.

She might look well behaved, and she is at this moment. However, all such things are subject to change at short notice and without warning

Bone Wars continues, and old Scritchy puts up a good fight.

Bone Wars continues, and old Scritchy puts up a good fight

Produce and other news from around the farm:

We have harvested a lot of Kiwifruit and there are plenty more
We missed harvesting these Medlar’s and it might be a bit late now
The Snow Pear next to the dogs is always the last tree to lose its leaves and the first to regrow them
A lone Fig
There are plenty of Pomello / Grapefruit
Mandarin’s are just beginning to become ripe
Something is ripping the wheat seedlings out of the ground
A pea has managed to climb onto the custom made steel support frame

Onto the flowers:

Lavender with a Smoke Bush in the background
Stunning Salvia’s
I thought that the Rose last week would be the last for the season
Turns out that I was wrong
Beautiful Geraniums

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 558.2mm (22.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 497.0mm (19.6 inches).

40 thoughts on “Heavy is the head”

  1. Yo, Chris – Well, I suppose we’ve all known our fair share of odd ducks, in the world. They do make for good stories. Maybe a bit sad, that they’re such an ill fit, for the world.

    I’ve often read that anyone who runs for public office, should be rejected. As, anyone who aspires to high office, must have a screw loose.

    Lord save me from people who drag their personal problems, to work. They should leave their problems, at home. And it seems there’s always some bleeding heart around, going, “Oh, you need to cut them some slack, as they’re having problems at home.” Don’t care. Don’t want to hear about it. Yup, I’m just mean. 🙂 .

    There are times when I’ve sought management. But, as I aged, I got over it. Management means your on salary, so, overtime is uncompensated.

    Your light pole reminded me of an illustration from “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.” Second illustration down.


    I’m sure the bees appreciate their new, more stable, slab. The soap is very cute. Especially the heart shaped bars. So twee … 🙂

    Your induction cooktop is very impressive. Space age. But can we perhaps just call it a “hot plate?” Don’t want to give it delusions of grandeur.

    “The Bone Wars.” How many seasons do you think it will run? As many as “Game of Thrones?” Will I need flow charts to keep track of all the players?

    The pictures look so strange, to me. Your seasons are winding down, and ours are gearing up. I’d guess it was birds after your wheat seed. Or, maybe “glacier mice!” Now that the seed is sprouted, tasty, and easily digested.

    The lavender and smoke bush picture is a real stunner. The contrast of the colors. Calendar worthy. Roses can be a real surprise. Sometimes, in the worst winter weather, they will throw a blossom. Who knows why. Both your examples are real stunners. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    It’s uncanny, but it was an Electrolux square model, kind of like a square sausage dog, but instead a machine used to vacuum up dust. Incidentally, looking at the images (a trip on the way back machine) twigged a memory that I’d seen the upright models too. They may even have been manufactured locally under license. Lots of applications of chrome. Yeah, they were very heavy duty, and in a few places in the big smoke, I occasionally come across electronics and appliance repair shops too. But as you note, such businesses have been around for a while and were probably prudent enough to have purchased the building they operate out of. There is a certain awe to be gleaned from imagining just how much such businesses would know about repairing all manner of devices. What interests me is that the original machines were eventually replaced, and often the fabric collection bags were replaced with disposable collection bags. Not good.

    Hey, one of the recently decommissioned brown coal fired power stations today had its eight stacks destroyed. As a fan of epic destruction films, I reckon you might enjoy the brief clip of the demolition job: Engie knocks down Hazelwood Power Station’s eight chimneys . Epic stuff!

    Yup, we made the most of the conditions that day. And discovered that ginger biscuits are best eaten on the day after they have been cooked. That was a real surprise as on the first day the biscuits were soft and chewy, but overnight they turned hard and crunchy. Very unexpected – who knew?

    Did I mention that I’d been chasing a TB vaccination for about 2 years? Anyway, the journey ended today. I had a lovely conversation with an infectious diseases specialist at a public hospital, and he advised me that the vaccination would be almost useless due to my age. In fact, he suggested that there would be downsides and then went on to describe them. I’d been chasing this thing for a few years and had been bounced from one facility to another, but you know, I can take advice. And I missed the shot when I was a kid and that means that the chance was lost then. I know enough about history to know that once not that long ago TB was a serious problem – just ask George Orwell. Such is life. Incidentally, we spoke for a while and he suggested it would be wiser to get a measles booster. I can take advice.

    I’d have to suggest that if such entities equated to 20% of the GDP then perhaps there is a bit of fat in there? But yeah, I hear you, such entities also deliver services to individuals and communities. Oh yeah, the squeeze has only just begun. Am I correct in my understanding that your local and state authorities are unable to go into debt?

    Mate, you don’t need to be Einstein to see all the empty and closed shops in high streets around the country to ascertain the damage. What surprises me is that there appears to be little empathy for all these small businesses, but then the interweb and its cloak of anonymity may bring out the worst in people. People forget that restaurants and pubs suddenly closed down endured such awful stock losses and have had to continue paying many bills with no income. How many food stuffs can be served two months down the track?

    Filthy lucre is a great term – and I’d never heard of it. Education these days! Interestingly the Latin to English definition of the word ‘lucre’ is to ‘atone’. A very dark shadow hangs over that word.

    Well yeah, the local council (think county, but bigger) manages the library services, which the rate payers (property owners) pay for. Mind you, I had to sort out a simple problem with the local council today and I did wonder if they had fallen into the trap of enjoying administering themselves, over that of providing needed services? It took 20 minutes and 2 people to sort out a minor matter relating to the pups.

    John Gerard was a nonpareil and able to build upon the foundations that he could see surrounding him. An impressive effort despite the derision heaped upon him during his lifetime. I do wonder if he quipped: I don’t care a fig. Such words would be fitting for a botanist.

    Petunia’s are lovely plants. Tidying up and clearing. I am impressed, such words predict order, synergy and productivity! 😉

    Ah, a moral dilemma. I’d side with you and respect Eleanor’s wishes. Some people do lie about such things and their words are not to be trusted, but if you can observe the ‘winding up’ then you know the words match the desires. What did they used to say about fools rushing in where angels fear to tread? Honestly, there is little that you in your position can do and what will be, will be. Tis your job to console, not resolve.

    H being a true fluffy is a sensitive and intelligent sort and she knows and has learned. Mate, been there and done that, and only those who have faced the world they’ve known fall away beneath them know that it is a possibility. A lot of people right now are getting that particular memo and I’m curious to learn how it all ends up.

    The guy was a true pain in the rear! And I did my best to dodge him, but far out it was funny the day I met the other bloke he’d harassed and we just had an honest conversation about what a pain the odd guy was. The editor really did think that the whole thing was amusing. The last time I met the odd bloke he was banging on about teslar (sic) power wall batteries. And that was a breaking point as I said to him: Have you got one? Turns out he didn’t. People confuse the knowing with the experiencing. And there is a vast gulf between the two points.

    Hehe! Yup, such successful folks are suspect – and their very actions betray their hearts. Mind you, they’re not all dodgy, it is just a whole bunch of them are. Sad.

    Hehe! Oh, so you have been there too? It happens and people drag all manner of darkness and demons into the workplace. They know not what they do, but when you are dealing with them it takes on a whole different meaning… I once watched a show with the celebrity chef: Gordon Ramsay in a Kitchen Nightmares episode, berating a guy. He said something along the lines of: We’ve all got problems mate, and then he pointed to each staff member and said “problem” before going onto the next one and saying the same word. He wasn’t berating the staff, but raising the issue that everyone endures difficulties and this was part of the journey of life – and not to be used as an excuse.

    Ah yes, no overtime is otherwise known by the delightful moniker of ‘kitchen tabling’. I have heard stories about this going on for employees right now and I am uncomfortable about such things. And I’ve also fallen for the trap. Although mate, I tell you I have done a huge amount of unpaid work over the past two months, but for me it is an investment in the relationships I’ve built up over the past dozen years and they need the help right now.

    The resemblance to the lamp post is uncanny. I doubt they used cast aluminium in those days…

    I’m sure the bees will appreciate their new concrete slab, but all the same I intend to close up the entrance to their hive when I slide the hive box over onto the concrete slab. It pays to be careful in these circumstances as the bees can get easily annoyed. I doubt the timber pallet would last for many more months.

    Thanks and the editor uses a silicone muffin baking tray to produce the soap bars. Silicone is an amazing material for such a use.

    Ah, well cook top is not a description used much down here (that I am aware of). All lost in translation I guess. But I reckon our description is fancier! 😉

    Game of Thrones characters are all light weights compared to the machinations that go on with the fluffy collective. From the heights of success at nabbing the favourite bone (or bone chew) to the lows of failure suffered due to losing the same item to their arch nemesis – oh yeah, the full gamut of the emotional journey is felt. Mostly they have to remember to strive and spend their energies on each other rather than annoying me. This is expected behaviour.

    I’ve been used to warm weather and sunny skies, so the view seems strange to me too. All part of life though. Yeah, and that was my thinking too about the wheat seedlings. The parrots have been very naughty. I intend to replant the seedlings tomorrow.

    Thanks! And the roses continue to surprise us all too. I’m considering giving them some food tomorrow.



  3. Hello Chris
    I definitely wouldn’t want to be a leader in this country at the moment. Poor Boris Johnson must be shaken by all the things that have hit him this year. Actually I wouldn’t want to be a leader of anything and I am also definitely not a team player. My husband and I managed very well as we both let the other get on with their lives as they wished.
    Have been reading about some very tempestuous Australian weather, has it affected you?
    I was envious of all your fruit pictures but then I went out to my greenhouses and picked the first ripe strawberries. Our weather is like very hot summer and they are talking about it possibly being the driest May since records began.


  4. Yo, Chris – The Hazelwood Power Plant, coming down, was pretty spectacular! Too bad they weren’t made of brick. At least it could have been salvaged out. Somehow or another, I thought of the columns of the Temple of Jupiter in Rome, coming down. Visions of ends of empires?

    Everything tastes better on the second day. 🙂 . Look at breakfast pizza!

    So, you can be too old to get TB? Who knew? Or, maybe they just think, if your that old, something is going to get you, anyway, so why waste the resources? 🙂 .

    Forgot to look up if local and state governments can’t acquire debt. I vaguely remember something about that. They can increase taxes … or, issue bonds. Which are, of course, debt by another name.

    I didn’t know the origin of “filthy lucre.” Probably picked it up from a book, somewhere. It just sounds so … nasty. Dirty money. Who cares? Does it spend? The Emperor Titus’s son (I think) was giving his old man a hard time over putting a tax on the public bogs. Titus picked up a coin and said, “Does it smell?”

    Well, I didn’t do any gardening yesterday. I just didn’t “feel” it. So, of course, today it rains. But, the rest of the week is supposed to be nice, and it may clear off this afternoon. Think I’ll bake peanut butter cookies. With toasted walnuts!

    Yup. That’s me. Vent away! From a comment one of Eleanor’s daughter’s made, there’s a certain amount of guilt, involved. That before her first tumble, they had been neglecting her. Well, Eleanor did feel a small bit of that, but, not over the top. She realizes that people have lives. But, she did wish they’d stop by more often, and not be looking at the clock to rush off to their next Very Important Appointment. Some of the Ladies around here, on no solid evidence, speculate on how she conducts her life. I stay out of it, as much as I can. After all, I’m just the dog walker 🙂 .

    Employees as problems. Kunstler, today, touches on that. Well, his post is about the machinations of our justice department (Zzzzz…). But some of the first 20 or so comments, are pretty interesting. Having to do with companies unloading all that pesky real estate. And, maybe a lot of those pesky white collar employees.

    I think it’s admirable that you’re helping out, where you can. Unpaid or not. Bread on the waters. Building social capital. Some of it is bound to come back to you.

    Your cook top looks like surplus off the Star Trek Enterprise. Does it have GPS? Internet connectivity? 🙂 . When you turn your back on it, do you feel like your being watched? Oh, well. As long as it does the job.

    Today is a national holiday. Memorial Day. It’s to remember the dead, and has a bit of a quasi military aspect. People used to clean up the family plot, and maybe have a picnic. They still do, actually. Lew

  5. Hi Chris,
    I don’t know why anyone would want to be a major political leader though it certainly turns lucrative especially once they’re out of office.

    Personally I don’t like flying at all and it’s usually years between flights. There was the period of time that Doug had all those miles and we did fly a couple times a year. As he had “status” and tons of miles from business travel we could usually go first class which made the whole thing much more palatable. I feel lucky to have been able to travel like that. I recall from my much older relatives that flying was quite the event and one got all dressed up for the flight.

    The soap looks great!!

    At least it doesn’t get so cold by you that the dogs are cooped up inside for days on end. Of course Leo and Salve are old enough now that they are quite content to just sleep most of the day.

    Well as per usual it’s turned from early spring to summer overnight. Now temps are in the mid 80’s and it’s kind of humid as well. Things are growing finally. All the garden transplants/seeds are in now so I’m in the midst of seeding some new wildflower beds and clearing out all the invasive garlic mustard, burdock and nettle.

    Things are opening up a bit at the end of the week. Groups of under 10 are OK and outdoor dining is allowed as well as haircuts. I’m awaiting news on the library and I imagine they’ll be doing curbside service soon. Chicago will be a few weeks behind the rest of the state as they’re still experiencing quite a few cases. Wisconsin which is just a few miles away has completely opened and I guess they’re being inundated with Illinois residences.

    Enjoyed all the pics as always.


  6. Chris,

    I’ll catch up in a day or so. A lot of necessary yard work got done the past few days. The Princess returned from her normally scheduled trip, returning home very late Sunday night. There was a lot we needed to talk about. I’m exhausted.

    One quick note…I did mention to the Princess our discussion about dragons and the cure for old age. She simply shook her head and then said something along the lines of, “Are you nuts? You’re too old to hunt dragons. With your allergy issues, you’d go out to hunt a dragon, have the allergies hit, have no concentration and have mild clumsiness as a result. Just then the dragon would find you and you’d be cooked! No dragons.”

    When I’m s simple Viking peasant and she’s a Princess, who do you think won that discussion? 😉


  7. Hi Inge,

    Yeah me neither! That was the core point that I was attempting to get across – it is not a good path in a world of declining wealth, energy and resources. You are lucky to have a leader that knows how to entertain and lead – he’s probably travelled some dark paths of late. But then the rest might have done him some good.

    Hehe! It is quite a rude awakening for me to discover just how big and all encompassing a ‘team’ can be. When first I was thrust into leadership positions (probably because others were smart enough not to fall into that trap) I failed to understand the levels of hierarchy above me, and it was an error, but also something of a correction. But yeah, I understand how you feel about that.

    We do the same thing, and I have no desire to control and seize power. Plenty do, but (and I’d be curious as to your perspective on the matter) then that particular view has an underlying assumption that the person so seeking that circumstance can supply all of the guidance and answers. I know enough about myself to know that I rely on others for guidance when there are gaps in my knowledge. Another way of saying that is that there are many things that I know little of. 🙂

    Well, an Antarctic blast hit here over the weekend, and it was feral cold and wet. However, that was a minor incident compared to the disaster over on the far west coast of the continent. I read that parts of the shoreline are being abandoned. Port Beach devastation may not be rebuilt after battering from ex-Cyclone Mangga storm.

    Ripe strawberries are a thing of greatness!



  8. Hi Margaret,

    Yup, that was my point exactly. Been there and done that for many years, and candidly wasn’t up for it. 🙂 One must know their limitations. There was a defining moment for me when addressing a board where they were trying to offload their responsibilities whilst demanding that my team make no mistakes. The incident left me scratching my head and wondering what I was doing there. And you’re not wrong, those epic book deals could otherwise pay for a multitude of authors – for years. I’m no fan of that state of affairs. Likewise I eschewed writing for mad cash quite a long time ago as I could see where the wind was blowing and wanted no part of it.

    You were lucky to have travelled like that and to have known the finer end of things. I too have known things like that, but not on aircraft. Nowadays I prefer the quiet enjoyments, but maybe mellowing out comes with age? Dunno.

    Thanks, and believe it or not, we’re now having troubles locating additional silicone baking trays. Began another batch of soap today, but far out I was far busier than I ever expected today. Must be something in the water…

    I call the pups by the amusing name of: The Power Girls. And oh my do they fight or what? It would be nice if they contented themselves in front of the fire as do Leo and Salve, but no. Restless energy flings itself around the house – and always there is some sort of mischief going on. I tell ya, it is when things go quiet that the really unpleasant mischief is occurring.

    Mid 80’F’s sounds pretty nice to me right now. 🙂 And I’ll bet the garden is growing like a jungle? How do you clear those plants? The new replacement mower arrived today, and it is a thing of beauty. A very simple and rugged design called a utility mower – whatever that is.

    Good stuff and best wishes for the relaxation of the lock down. Things are opening up down here too, although I can’t understand how restaurants and cafes will work? I do wonder about your BIL’s place.

    Thanks and it is a pleasure to share the place with you.



  9. Hi DJ,

    No worries at all mate. And it is nice of you to take the time to stop by and say hello! Yeah, that is going on here too in the various garden beds which still aren’t tidied up before winter sets in for real.

    Oh, your lady’s trip news has a rather foreboding and ominous note.

    Your lady is wise to kick you hard over that minor dragon hunting matter. 🙂 Women know these things, and you must give over to their wisdom. Hehe!

    Mind you, would the Vikings have stayed at home warming their feet at the comfort of fire and hearth whilst there were dragons that needed slaying? You go first though! Hehe!

    Hey, got my new utility mower today. It is a pleasure to own such a simple and hardy machine. Take that grass – although the machine would probably be useless with dragon slaying. Hey, makes you wonder if a dragon could survive an encounter with a 100hp wood chipper. Oh yeah.



  10. Hi Lewis,

    If the stacks were made of bricks, they’d make for some interesting re-purposing, although 1960’s bricks left a lot to be desired. They used a cream brick in those days and it was architecturally very uninteresting. I much prefer the much older red bricks. There was some mention though that asbestos was used in the construction of the bases of those stacks, so I suspect the whole lot will be carted off and buried somewhere. Although it is worth noting that landfills are filling up quite rapidly. And I do wonder if any of the folks working from home have considered that many of the costs met by their employers are now being met by themselves? I read that the volume of household waste picked up by local council waste collection activities has actually increased lately.

    Wow, the Temple of Jupiter in Rome got sacked hard for everything that could be gleaned, but then survived almost a millennia in decrepitude, only to be deconstructed and then reconstructed in a more-up-to-date format. A brave and perhaps somewhat foolish soul to have done so.

    Hehe! Oh you’re good. The editor likewise bangs on about breakfast pizza. No, standards must be maintained, and some things are just not right, regardless of the prevailing public sentiment.

    Yeah, you have right of it. If I’d insisted I could have had the TB vaccination jab, but I’ll take advice on that matter and be guided. Those resources are thin on the ground but the chase was long indeed and I was torn with indecision. But they’re probably right, for all I know. But yes, that pesky little bug has been around with humanity for quite a long while and my gut feeling tells me that it may be a future problem – as it is in many countries today not too far from here. But the specialists perspective was correct, measles is far easier to catch and can hang around in the air for hours. Anyway, I’m not entirely certain that the excess of international travel that occurred only very recently will be a part of the future. It’s possible that it might get back there again, but I sort of doubt it. Hey try going to a hospital in these times. The guard checked my temperature with one of those gun things before letting me in. He had so much protective gear on I couldn’t understand a word he said. So I just said don’t shoot the editor, but my humour was lost on the humourless guy.

    Hehe! Yah, zis bonds are good are zey not? I was thinking about bonds this morning. Did you know that the common ones issued by banks down here are often five years and then repayable to the holder at their face value? Now interestingly, the banks have been dodging pain and are still booking profits whilst people are enjoying mortgage holidays. It is an impressive stunt. However, the thing is the interest is still accumulating thus the bank profits, but where is the cash as none is being repaid by the holiday makers? It is an accounting entry really. And I do wonder what may happen when the various bonds begin to mature. No doubt the banks will shout for a bail out – and they may get it too. Dunno. They face a slow squeeze – like everyone else.

    Filthy lucre does sound nasty as. It is funny you mention public bogs, but they are getting rarer down here, and for us country folks it can be quite a while between one toilet and the next. I now plan my journeys based on the availability to relieve myself. People would be outraged if I did so on the street – although I have travelled in countries where such things happened – and there are always cameras around nowadays. But if I have to go the horrid problem becomes: What if there is no toilet? It is an important question. Also for your curiosity, whilst travelling in third world countries I got to understand why historically women wear dresses and guys wear pants… The things I’ve seen in distant places and other cultures…

    If it doesn’t feel right, then don’t worry about it. Gut feelings are not to be ignored. You may have dodged some horrid possibility. You never know.

    It sure sounds like Eleanor’s family have flopped from one extreme to another extreme. It is up to Eleanor really to set the boundaries on that behaviour.

    Hehe! Mr Kunstler is an enjoyable author, even when I don’t understand the people and machinations, it still sounds as if schemes are drawing to their natural conclusion. I’m still waiting for miscreants to be punished after the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, so I really don’t understand how the justice system seems to work.

    The more alert in the population have already done so. I did mention a long time ago that: Westfield: Lowy family sells shopping centre empire to French property giant for $32 billion. Is the term for re-buying that behemoth pennies on the dollar, or is it dimes on the dollar? We have neither pennies nor dimes down here, and we don’t even have cents anymore, although there are still 5 cent pieces. Collect enough nickel from the old coins and a clever person could probably make a nickel-iron battery that would last a very long time.

    Thanks, and I did more good deeds today, although I genuinely expect nothing in return. I’m impressed that people are also offering assistance if needed. What is the word for it: Emergent? Not sure.

    Far out man, I hope that negative wave energy isn’t a problem for the induction cooker. I don’t have interweb connected devices other than the stupid phones and computers. Everything else is not connected at all. I pride myself on doing things manually. I can switch them all off too – and do so. It is like the Terminator, why didn’t they just pull the battery out? Do you know how much trouble that would have saved everyone in the film?

    Happy Memorial Day, although it doesn’t sound appropriate to say that, just as you noted about Anzac Day. I’m intrigued by this question, and I may make some inquiries to see what people do. What do they say for greetings on that day for you lot? It is respectful to remember the deceased.



  11. Yo, Chris – Landfills, filling up. Australia is a big continent. 🙂 . I saw the link to Inge, about the storm on your west coast. I had seen a couple of headlines, last night. They got really lucky that the bulk of the storm hit during a low tide.

    Breakfast pizza IS the standard. 🙂 .

    I don’t know about bank bonds, but here we have “certificates of deposit.” Even credit unions have them. The more you deposit, and the longer you hold them, the better rate of interest you get. Though interest rates have been rather grim, the past few years. Interest paid is taxed as income. When the pre-set time period is up, some people take the interest and spend it, some others roll the initial investment, and interest, over into another certificate of deposit. What was that old English banking saying? “Never touch the principal?” If you pull the money out before the agreed upon time, there are fees. But, they are not too onerous.

    Eleanor’s family gangs up on her. There’s more of them. 🙂 . I talked with her, for awhile, last night. She seems a bit more … accepting of the situation. Might be an adjustment in her meds.

    The justice system doesn’t work.

    I don’t really understand the ins and outs of the Westfield deal. Way above my pay grade. But that bit down near the end about the American retail landscape, is certainly true. We’ve talked about “ghost malls.” And, I’ve seen several articles about ideas for repurposing shopping malls. The little old style mall we have here, is quit a bit different, from years ago. That’s the retail space that brought me here. Now there’s very little retail in it. Some state social service agencies have taken over quit a bit of it. And, the Veteran’s Administration. That’s where our multiplex theatre is. Wonder how they’re doing, these days? I think I mentioned that on the rare occasions that I take in a movie, in a theatre, I go on Thursday afternoon, and have occasionally had a private showing. 🙂 .

    I made peanut butter cookies, yesterday afternoon. Just “cause” I added some toasted walnuts. One batch got a bit overdone. Even on parchment paper, they seem to have a tendency to burn, easily. But, reports are, they’re pretty tasty.

    Elanor’s daughter brought me a small loaf of apple bread, yesterday. She’s quit the baker, It was yummy. She is a good baker. You can tell by looking at her husband. 🙂 . Lew

  12. Chris:

    Thanks for the cat anecdote. Anyone – especially a dog – can tell you that ALL cats are bad.

    I love your garden lights.


  13. “Gulag’s are probably a really bad idea for miscreants, MAYBE.”
    Ha!- good one.

    Taking this in a direction I’m not sure you intended, maybe.
    “Heavy is the head” got me to thinking about the difficulty us social primates have in coordinating group behavior, even thought group behavior is what has enabled us to avoid being lunch for big carnivores, as well as build all manner of cathedrals, amusement parks, and video game controllers.

    It’s been argued ( I don’t know if it’s the leading theory or not) that our large brains are the result of having to manage all the complex interactions of groups of humans.

    As a social species, we have gone well past Dunbar’s number, to our detriment, MAYBE.

    so yes, heavy is the head………….

    In other news- we bought a small countertop induction burner, and love it. While I’ve had a hard time finding authoritative info, it sure seems to be more efficient with converting electrons to useful food heating. I can use a killawatt meter to see how much it uses, but no way to do that with our big stove for comparison. Being off grid, I imagine you have studied this point, and can give a real world opinion?

  14. Hi Lewis,

    Well yes, you have a good point about landfills and Australia being a big place. But seriously, not many people want such things in their backyards. The couple I know (or used to know, I guess) who moved back to New Zealand used to live near to a tip that was being expanded. Massive expansion of Ravenhall tip approved despite developer-led campaign. As a general observation, the couple never really questioned where their rubbish ended up. It has to go somewhere. The whole thing is a self-correcting problem though, as societies only produce a huge amount of waste when they can afford to do so. And from a longer term perspective, it is probably not sustainable (and I use that word in the process sense of its meaning) to keep on producing too much waste.

    Oh yeah, there was talk of possible ultra high tides during that storm. A number of beaches that I have observed look like that. One I know of had so much erosion, the toilet block / change rooms for the beach washed into the ocean. That would have been messy.

    I must defer to your good judgement in the matter of breakfast pizza, and note that you have the support of the editor in this awesome culinary circumstance. But no, it changes nothing for me, as it just doesn’t seem right to me. The editor and I discussed this breakfast pizza situation earlier this evening and words were thrown at me like: ‘idiot’, although I can’t really say that I understand exactly what she meant by that phrase. Surely it was a compliment? 🙂

    Did accounting work up until lunchtime and then the editor had me moving rocks all afternoon. I’m feeling it now, but there is a new rock wall under construction. It is a path leading down into the paddock which is on a very small incline. Getting up and down the hill is a tiring activity, and reducing the incline for a major access path is a good idea.

    And after all that, tonight we headed into the big smoke. As you know, we tend to keep our eyes open for bargains and a cabinet maker was selling a custom made bathroom cabinet which had been ordered by a builder who went bankrupt. A sad tale, but a truly beautiful work of craftsmanship – and in solid Eucalyptus marginata or more commonly known as Jarrah. Quality workmanship is worth the journey in and then out again. Of course we stopped off to get some take away Souvlaki which were very tasty. The restaurant area looked like the day after the apocalypse as it both dark and empty with the occasional person walking around seeking some take away food.

    Certificates of deposit are called Term deposits down here – and they work almost exactly as you described. Interest rates are around 1.4% down here (if you ask firmly but politely), but I wonder what they could be in your part of the world? It was funny that time I spoke to the lady at the bank and she said that she was very uncomfortable with the concept of negative interest rates. My understanding is that if you pull the money out before the maturity date – and this is down here – you have to wait 31 days and the costs possibly eat up a lot of the interest.

    Good to hear that Eleanor has come to terms with her situation and the families response. Acceptance is a nice place to dwell in.

    Au contraire, the justice system does in fact work. I read some cheeky scamp suggesting that the system was a system that sought to administer itself. It is a big call, however the definition does not concern itself with outcomes, and perhaps the moniker is suggestive of an outcome – but that don’t make it necessarily so!

    Hey, doesn’t it make you wonder how much salvageable materials will be had from shopping malls in the far distant future? Those slab tilt walls might not stand centuries, especially if cracks get into the slabs and water and air can get in. They’d be a heck of a mess.

    I’m not joking about the restaurant strip looking like a post apocalyptic scene. Without the life provided by the people, it really looked dark and bleak. There were a lot of ‘for lease’ signs up too. And I saw one large building that had been seized by the landlord as it had a notice proclaiming that had in fact happened.

    Yeah, the day time cinema is pretty quiet down here too, and one reason I enjoy day time sessions. It is no hardship. I hear anecdotal reports that plenty of live music venues have had their future seating capacity slashed to something like well under 10%. They possibly can’t make any money on those numbers. Interestingly, there was an article about a restaurant where a number of diners booked in a limited seating environment – and did a no show. Now interestingly I read the comments and there was little empathy on display. Very, very mean.

    Hehe! Yum, tasty biscuits! Like the addition of the walnuts.

    What is apple bread? We have fruit bread which is bread with a whole bunch of dried fruit scattered throughout the loaf – and it is usually served toasted with butter. Very tasty.



  15. Hi Pam,

    Dogs as you quite rightly correct are sensitive creatures and they know these things. Dogs know many things about cats including: Felines are known carriers of the dreaded haughty and disdainful series of diseases.

    Just to prove that dogs are sensitive I now give you the following story.

    Exhibit A: Scritchy was annoyed that we kicked her outside whilst we undertook a brief foray into the big smoke today. So in retaliation at her mistreatment, she took a wee on Ollie’s green couch.

    Human’s are likewise sensitive creatures.

    Exhibit B: Chris no longer allows Scritchy to sleep upon Ollie’s green couch. Ollie is happy.

    Thus proving that it is not entirely possible to pursue policies that keep everyone happy.

    I now rest my case.

    Hope you are doing OK. 🙂



  16. @ Pam – Seen on a t-shirt: “If the world were flat, cats would have pushed everything off the edge.” 🙂 . Lew

  17. Yo, Chris – I was amused by the name of the waste company. Cleanaway. Might as well call it, “Out of Sight/Out of Mind. 🙂 . If you were an estate agent, you’d want to make sure the wind was blowing in the right direction, before showing a property. Wasn’t there an aspiring, evil warlord, in Kunstler’s “World Made By Hand,” who had a strangle hold on the local dump? That he was mining for useful things? Came to a very bad end (deservedly), as I recall.

    The Editor is a wise woman. Cold breakfast pizza with blue cheese dressing! (Did your tummy do a roll?) 🙂 . She had you turning big rocks into little rocks, to give you time to reflect on your heresy.

    Jarrah wood looks very beautiful, turned into furniture and flooring. I bet there’s some nice antique furniture, kicking around, made from the wood. Back when I was in the tat trade, sometimes furniture wood identification could be a bit of a guessing game. Oh, the most used stuff was pretty easy: oak, walnut, maple, pine, mahogany etc.. But every once in awhile, you’d run across something that was a bit of a mystery. Chestnut? Apple or pear wood? And, so much can be done with stains, by a cleaver person. On some pieces of furniture, a tat dealer didn’t want to be pined down, to closely. I had all kinds of guides, to different wood grains. And was still unsure, time to time.

    Don’t know if it will travel, but here’s the current rates of deposit, from my local credit union.


    I don’t think there’s much to be salvaged out of modern construction. Windows and doors, maybe. (Might make good greenhouse or cold frames). Plumbing fixtures (such as they are, these days) and copper wire. Sometimes, I hear of people breaking down trailer houses (don’t know what you call them, there.) Lots of time and effort, and the return on the investment really depends on scrap value. Most of the wood in the walls is very low grade. And, there’s always a lot of plastic and “wood” paneling. Weed control?

    We’re moving to Phase II of reopening, this week. We didn’t have an update on our infected figures, for about a week. In the county. Due to the weekend and holiday. So, when I checked it yesterday, I kind of held my breath. We’re still holding at 35. So, no new cases in a week.

    Our small business districts have that “after the apocalypse” vibe. But all the big chain stores, deemed “essential” seem to be doing a land office business. Traffic has really picked up. I stopped by a small hardware chain store today. (Ace Hardware) People running in and out like they’re crazy, and not a mask or glove in sight.

    I think the apple bread had fresh apples in it. Not dried. They were pretty moist. And, the loaf had a lot of spices in it. A loaf, but very cake like.

    I’m seeing very few pollinators, around. Bumble bees, but that’s about it. I think I’ve only seen one or two honey bees, this year. It’s worrying. Lew

  18. Hello again
    Of course it would be ludicrous to assume, in any partnership, that one of the two has all the correct answers. I have known couples where one of the two seems to have been totally taken over which seems to me to be ghastly for both of them. I don’t deny that conflicts can arise but a pair of sane and moderately reasonable human beings should be able to resolve them.


  19. Hi Chris,
    The schools provide breakfast for students now as well as lunch. Back when I was there (not that long ago) a student could only get breakfast if they were under a certain income level (which the majority were). Now from what I understand free breakfast and lunch is offered to all regardless of financial need. Anyway what I really wanted to relay that breakfast pizza was served regularly and frankly it was one of the healthiest meals they provided at breakfast.

    In other news, our SIL dodged a bullet keeping his job when 25% of his rather large company was laid off. I imagine that’ll mean more work for him though.


  20. Chris,

    My take on underworld and mob/gangster type debacles is that they are pretty much similar to the old Icelandic family feuds. Happy endings are rare and the body count can grow to a frightful level. As to how Gunnar knew he was the best? Well, how do the best athletes know they’re the best? Or the hero martial artist in a martial arts movie? Gunnar’s enemies accorded him a great deal of martial respect, meaning they were very scared of him and never met him in single combat. He only got it in the end when his bowstring broke and he was overwhelmed by sheer numbers.

    Nice analogy: my grass cutting machine does the work of 4.5 horses or however many. Most people won’t think of it in those terms and tend to get careless around the multi-horse mechanisms because they’re well behaved beasties that fit in my hand or that I can push around. That’s when fingers, toes and other human parts go missing.

    I’ve watched your process about how you don’t water the orchard. But the fascinating way in which the orchard is watered without you watering it has been fun to watch evolve. Rocks and ferns and gullies do well?

    Oh, aye, the Princess knows me better than I know myself. I defer to her in these cases. Your comment about Vikings and dragons and “you go first” demands the addition of “And I’ll be right behind you”. I’ve heard that one before. Thanks but no thanks. 🙂

    Yeah, it was a more difficult than normal trip for the Princess. However, some needed things got done and necessary conversations conducted with various people. At this point, you know how it is: we’ll know what people decide to do on certain things due to what they do. Words are cheap, actions speak louder than words, or even back to “A man acts what he is when he may do what he will”.

    Congrats on the new mower. Hope it does what you expect.

    Hmmm, that might be a fun contest IF the 100hp chipper were mobile: Dragon vs Chipper. There could be an entire series made out of that concept. Cameo appearances from Killer Bunny could tie the various series together. Or maybe the dragon could incinerate Chuckie after the Chipper had chipped Chuckie into little pieces when the Killer Bunny chased Chuckie into the maw of the Chipper.

    I liked your cat story. I’ve taken care of a few cats. Little joy involved there. Contrary to one owner’s orders, when the finicky cat refused to eat, I refused to go buy gourmet cat food (which the owner said I would get reimbursed for) and let the cat starve until it ate common cat food. It’s amazing what people and animals will eat when they’re hungry enough and have no choices.

    I’ve been around a lot of “odd blokes”. And blokesses, if that’s the right word for a female bloke. I seem to attract them. But then I remember that once upon a year, I was considered to be an odd bloke in many circles, so I relax and do what is needed. Which is a mix of getting bored, avoidance, or sometimes even having to be a bit rude when I DO have something else that needs to be done.

    Then again, there are times that I can find my inner odd bloke and resurrect him for useful purposes. Quite some years ago, the Big Boss at work turned 50. Outside one of the windows of his corner office is a large advertising billboard. One of his employees (NOT ME!!!) organized a photo collage of building staff and rented the billboard. Our pictures got placed on the billboard, and it was my job to distract Big Boss from opening his blinds and looking out the window until the Gathering of staff had arrived. So I got on one of my tangents on some obscure oddity of Scottish history (which he couldn’t resist hearing and then couldn’t politely get me to leave). The topic get very arcane before enough people showed up. I then turned, opened his blinds while he was talking to somebody else and blurted, “Oh my bleeping bleep what the heck is THAT?”, whereupon he looked out the window to stare directly at the photo of my immediate supervisor pointing at him. Among 50 other photos. Big Boss, after he quit laughing, said that he “thought DJ was just being extra weird and I didn’t know how to shut him up but he did a great job of distracting me and I’ll always be suspicious of his arcana in the future.”

    I like the look of that soap. I’ve got a book on making the stuff. Between toying with that and with plans to toy with fermenting rice, you’re inspiring me to new hobbies post retirement next year.

    Isn’t it interesting that there’s always at least one rose more than what you think is the last rose of the season? Always. It’s like Newton’s 4th Law or something.

    Oh well, Scritchy is learning, or not, a nasty lesson. Even when old, there are some things you can’t get away with, such as the big wee on somebody else’s bed. So Ollie is happy, the puppies will continue to be puppies in the house, and Scritchy is banished from the green sofa. Life goes on.

    But a question arises from this… When talking about the little piggies, one went to market, one stayed home, one had roast beef, another had none, and the fifth cried, “wee, wee, wee wee all the way home”. Had the fifth little piggy met Scritchy when Scritchy was in a, well, pissy mood? Inquiring minds want to know.


  21. Hi Steve,

    Yeah, it was a bit tongue in cheek that one. 🙂 Thus also proving that I’d be an awful dictator – or a middling to average one.

    That was the direction I intended. It is really difficult to co-ordinate group behaviour. And when I was the boss, the teams were generally pretty good, but the levels of hierarchy above me often sought to act in self serving ways, and that was no good at all. I felt that it undermined my good work. As far as I can understand things from an historical perspective, flat hierarchy’s work well and get everyone involved cohesively in the groups direction. But other than that, I suspect that now there are too many folks higher up gaming the system for advantage, and thus why I now work exclusively for small business. There’s is little hierarchy to be found there.

    True, although I had not known the name of Dunbar’s number.

    How good are those machines? Well, I can provide some clarification there. Of course it all depends upon the power setting, but what the solar power system reports is that the unit used 25A at about 55V = 1,375W on the soup cycle. Of course you can dial my machine all the way up to 2400W, but that is a bit hot for cooking. It might interest you to know that my machine switches that sort of load on and then off again, so it is definitely not a constant draw. It pulses.

    At a rough guess, the machine is a far more effective use of energy than gas and heats up quicker. It is not often that I am impressed with technology, but this one is good.

    As a comparison I once trialled an old school resistance coil hot plate – and that thing burned through the electrons at a furious rate. It took a huge amount of time to heat up, and then a long time to cool down. Those machines are a bad idea off grid.



  22. Hi Inge,

    I agree – it is a preposterous perspective. However, many folks make the foolish attempt to coerce and control. I’m honestly not sure what drives that desire, but maybe it is a journey they all need to take? Dunno really, but I see some strange things and wonder about them. I don’t really get involved if only because I have encountered folks saying that their situation is right and then both parties defend it. Honestly I have enough troubles, without buying more when my casually shared observations are unwelcome. It is unpleasant but not all wrongs can be righted, and there was an old saying about Gawd helps those that help themselves. I’m genuinely uncertain about all of this topic and would appreciate some wisdom?

    Well exactly, it is no good at all. The master becomes the slave, although they know it not.

    And yes, I too agree. It is impossible not to have disagreements with your partner. But the important thing is how one conducts oneself during such times. Many have failed to get that particular memo, but I sort of feel that it is a self-correcting thing. The editor and I have a disagreement now about installing a wood fired oven. We used to have one, and used it to good effect (but destroyed it through carelessness), but it is a lot of expense – and we differ on that aspect of the matter. Time will sort that one out.



  23. Hi Margaret,

    As a contrast, I’ve never been to a school public or private where food was provided other than whilst on camp. It is not the norm down here at all. However, from what I understand the practice of providing food to students is also common in the UK too. I’m honestly not sure what to make of that contrast.

    Hehe! Apologies, but I hear you about the breakfast pizza and agree with your point of view. 🙂 I just don’t like the food as a breakfast option, as I prefer homemade toasted muesli yoghurt and fruit. But really I just picked the breakfast pizza thing up as an amusing point of contention that means little one way or another. When I was the little boss man at the big end of town, I used to make a point of stifling spontaneous singing in the office. The act of singing does little harm, and the singers could express their internal pressures, I’d lift my head up and say something authoritative like: ‘cut that out’. And we’d all get a laugh – just because they knew the outcome of their spontaneous acts of singing. It is like a sort of catharsis for the team – and it works.

    Oh yeah, that is happening down here too, and I have heard of ‘kitchen tabling’ going on. Incidentally that fancy term can be defined loosely as working more hours and harder for less mad cash. We are in the beginning, so hang onto your hat.



  24. Chris:

    You know, I loved when we had all those dogs for all those years, but I do not miss all the drama, of which there was much.

    Scritchy still dreams of beanbags . . .

    Thank you – I am okay.


  25. Hi Lewis,

    It is a pretty funny name isn’t it? You and I could riff off that joke for a while: How about Elsewhere International Incorporated? That has a nice ring to it don’t you reckon? 🙂 And the couple I knew were rather worried about the impact the expansion of the tip would have had on their house price. Turns out that it wasn’t that much of a concern after all, and now they are residing back over the other side of the Tasman Sea.

    Oh yeah, the ‘World Made by Hand’ series was full of likely characters, and that bloke was one such. A nasty piece of work, but then the character came unstuck because he bit off more than he could chew and displayed his nature whilst not considering that others could likewise arm themselves and take action. He was a problem that needed to be nipped in the bud – but the solution I recall was not cost free either. Is that a form of rough social balance (benefits and costs)? I do wonder about that side of the story.

    Hehe! Oh, you are like super bad! Two abominations all rolled up into one unappealing food package served at the entirely wrong time of the day. So very wrong, although I acknowledge that many believe it to be so very right. The odds of public opinion are admittedly not on my side, but they’re wrong.

    No rock work today as I needed a break from such work. It is physically hard work, and recovery time becomes important. Instead we cemented in several treated pine posts for the fencing around the middle garden terrace. The original gate was installed on an angle of about 20 degrees from the path that traverses it. And that was enough of an angle to produce a narrower gate. Originally that wasn’t a problem, but then with the low centre of gravity mower the narrow gate became a problem. Who’d have thought that would happen, but previously all the gates were at 90 degrees to the path, and so they were at their widest possibility and I never knew this to be the case.

    Anyway, after that work, we split and moved firewood for the rest of the afternoon. Should make the process of storing the stuff easier next summer. I tend to now feel that doing the firewood in the cooler months is easier than when the temperature gauge is pushing 90 in the shade… I maybe a slow learner though. 🙂 The main firewood shed when empty will gain a concrete floor – such a thing works.

    The wood is beautiful and really dense. The cabinet is very heavy and is meant to hang off a wall, but that doesn’t seem like a bright idea to me due to the pressures on the wall, and instead I’ll add some steel legs to it. I didn’t mention that to the guy that constructed it. Some craftsmen can turn into purists, and you never know when. It is like people who make art out of metal and like to enjoy leaving their art out in the rain to let the steel worm (rust) eat it away.

    But yeah, I hear you about timber species identification. It is not an easy task at all, and when tree species hybridise, who knows what the timber species then becomes. The local over story tree species has a pink tone to the wood, except when it doesn’t – and I can’t pick which tree will and which one won’t.

    I’ve seen American walnut timber down here for sale – it was expensive. Pear apparently makes for beautiful timber. A long time ago I heard a quote about planting pear trees for you grandchildren. One of the local towns has its main street lined with Manchurian Pears, and they are good looking trees. Super hardy.

    Ouch. Yes, the interest rates came through OK, and ouch, we are doing well by way of comparison. Such rates are indicative of either the true value of money (not much) or the inability to make a profit (not easy).

    You’ve confirmed my worst fears and I too believe that not much will be salvageable from such constructions. And yes, glass windows and doors could make for glasshouses or cold frames. A very clever use, although toughened (tempered) glass would be very hard to cut or break properly to fit a new frame. Easier to modify the construction instead to accommodate the existing shape of the glass.

    Down here we may call trailer houses either caravans or tiny homes. Although to be fair, tiny homes are often very well constructed. I’ve never had the desire to sleep in a caravan, but that might be just me. Speaking of which, I read a real life story that sounded as if it came from the pen of Stephen King. A couple disappeared recently over in the eastern part of the state, and turns out they weren’t the first to do so (although admittedly it is a large, unpopulated and remote part of the continent): The ‘Button Man’ could be key to mounting mountain mystery. Note the story about the wildlife photographer… Best not to annoy some folks as they take it all personal like.

    Not much action on that story either. Although up in the far north of the continent, a young bloke died and the authorities may have said something about him having a complicated medical history. Life can be a crapshoot.

    Traffic has picked up over the past week down here too, although it is nowhere near the previous volumes. And driving out of the big smoke last night after picking up the cabinet, it was dead quiet. Actually it is eerie. I suspect as this mess goes on the ability for folks to travel will be curtailed as they run low on funds. I can’t wait to see how much the house insurance has gone up this year.

    The hardware stores down here are crazy busy. Funnily enough nowadays one big box store dominates that market, and there is a lot of community love for the behemoth. Even I feel fondly towards the store. It’s a dirty love! 🙂

    Down here some places have staff with gloves and masks, but it is not common. I talk to heaps of people and some folks who I have known for a while tell me that some customers are emotionally dumping on them. Did you ever encounter such folks when in the book or tat trade?

    Apple bread sounds almost like a danish to my mind. We have apple cake down here, as in spiced apple tea cake – and it is superb (a favourite of mine). That was the particular cake which caused the uproar with the country women’s association group to the north of here. Wow, were they angry or what? But the editor still took out the prize for best apple cake. From my experience they did not seem to take losing graciously, but we won so enough said the facts must speak for themselves in this case. The award believe it or not, still takes a pride of place in the kitchen.

    Yes, that is worrying about the pollinators. Hmm. I have a huge buffer between here and folks who spray, but even so pollinating insects can travel far.



  26. @ Lew:

    You have proved my point – or the t-shirt has. That said, I love cats, maybe because they are so bad.


  27. Hi DJ,

    Interesting about Gunnar’s demise. Very interesting. As a suggestion I have come across the occasional story about such folks, and the ones who survive are either lucky (a chancy thing given what happened to Gunnar – luck eventually runs out) or generous. Generosity is an antidote to greed and envy and general overall ill will.

    It was the crusty old bloke who took a group of us out into the forest for two days years ago, and taught us all about chainsaws that alerted me to the possibilities of that story. Tell ya what, there is the knowing of knowledge and then there is the putting of knowledge into action and foreknowing of the outcome of actions. Yeah, three very different worlds. He was a knowledgeable bloke and the course has saved me from injuring myself – just even in the day to day use of the machine. Some injuries can occur from simple use – and those are insidious and slow to creep up. It ain’t just the loss of digits that are the problem.

    Thank you. It works even in the hottest and driest of seasons, but it takes a lot of years to build the soil and let the trees develop really huge root systems. In your part of the world people tend to use wells more than is the case here – and that can impact upon the story too as over use drops the water table in the soil. I once saw that in a cave in Mount Gambier that has a pool of water with the height of the water in earlier years marked off on the wall of the cave. It was uncomfortable to see that.

    Nah man, I’d rather enjoy a quiet ale in front of the hearth. 🙂 Dragon killing is for the brave or foolish – and who knows which is which?

    People can talk and talk when it should instead become time to act. But then maybe that is how it should be? I honestly don’t know, but I hear you.

    The new mower rocks. A very sturdy and simple construction. I paid a bit extra for a Honda motor too. Your engineering/physics brain would understand my joy of such a simple machine. 🙂

    Well yeah, exactly. Cats can be waited out. A person is only fussy when they can afford to be so, and don’t tell Lewis but if I were hungry enough I’d probably eat blue cheese breakfast pizza. But mate, I’d have to be really hungry.

    It is possible the female equivalent could be called a Jillaroo (trainee). An extraordinarily useful person on a farm and one who leads an interesting life.

    Thanks for the awesome story. Very fun and clever.

    The crusty old white dog suddenly woke up and was on the move. About to take a leak if my guess wasn’t too far off the mark. Had to whisk her outside and then feed her some scraps of homemade pizza which were left aside from my dinner (a better time to consume pizza me thinks).

    Mate, you will so busy, you won’t know what hit you. Yes, hobbies, friends and goals is all a man can ask for in retirement. Sake is well worth the effort, but like beer making it is an early spring, late autumn as well as winter activity. I do fail to see how your Nordic ancestors could have employed the sort of temperature controlled scrupulously clean and sterilised methods used these days. We sort of move with the seasons and that makes life easier. Soap can be made at any time of the year. Oh yeah, youse gonna be busy bro! 🙂

    The roses are a bit of a mystery plant, but they do their thing. One rose flower the other day looked mummified which was odd. The plant seems OK though. We had a very cold Antarctic blast last week.

    Ah, Scritchy is now banished to the floor and Ollie and Plum cheer for joy at the extra space on the green couch. Oh yeah, the little piggie knew way too much about the leaky Scritchy. She does it maliciously knowing she’ll get away with the naughtiness – she seems to enjoy herself.



  28. Hi Pam,

    You are like super bad! But, in a good way of course. You are right though, Scritchy dreams of beanbags. Twas Sir Poopy’s bane that beanbag, and I got rid of it at the right time. Ollie and the sheep pups were eyeing it off and testing the comfort levels and finding them to be good.

    Now you mention it, there is a lot of fluffy drama going on there!

    Nowadays Scritchy reclines on a bunch of towels, blankets and sheets. She is happy enough and doesn’t have to climb up onto the beanbag.

    Have you ever had five dogs at once though? Oh my, the drama… My friends said something about: crazy dog person. Is this a compliment? Yeah, maybe it was.



  29. Yo, Chris – Whinge and rant time :-). Today was absolute craziness, and, it’s not even 1pm, yet. I’m just taking H’s leash off, after her 10am walk, when my phone rings. It’s the front office. A plumber is here, to fix my tub. They’re supposed to give us a 24 hour notice, but … So, in the meantime, Eleanor has a 11:30 doctor’s appointment. Her caregiver doesn’t have enough time to take her. The usual Lady that takes her is having the vapors, so, ta-da! Guess who gets to take her?

    So, we have to leave by 11, and the plumber still has my tub faucet, spread all over the floor. Well, I trust the plumber, and tell him I’m off, and just shut the door, when he’s done.

    Away we go. Of course, H has to come along. So, I’m juggling dog, walker and little old lady. The doctor’s office is way the hell and gone, the other side of Centralia. There is road construction. It’s the hottest day, so far, this year.

    But, we’re home safe, the tub is fixed, and I’m ready for a nap.

    But before I go …I saw something over at Mr. Greer’s that might interest you, if you’ve missed it. Heck, you might even have it. A book … about Australian indigenous farming.

    5/27 8:03 PM, from a poster named Michael Ian Gray. The book is “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe (2014).

    Later … Zzzzzz. Lew

  30. Yo,Chris – Ah, much better now. It was forecast to be 84F (28.88C), today. It’s 86F, right now. Oh, well. Cooler tomorrow and then really cool over the weekend, with, maybe, rain.

    Yup. Playing with a waste company name, could be fun. “Anywhere-But-Here Amalgamated?” “NIMBY Waste Disposal?” 🙂 .

    Anytime I see “cost / benefit analysis”, I always wonder who benefits? But then, I have a suspicious mind.

    Cement work and firewood hauling. Sounds like a “light duty” day, around Fernwood Farm. 🙂 . I’ve always found that if you have a lot of tasks on offer, and can mix them up, the general going seems easier. Or, at least, more interesting.

    Quit a bit of our Victorian furniture was made of walnut. What’s is really expensive is the walnut burl. Or, any burl wood, for that matter. They’d turn it into veneer. Slice if very thinly and glue it over solid walnut. Drawer fronts, and such. What was interesting is, they’d cut a couple of slices, then open it like a book. So, you had matching patterns on either side of the middle line. Drawer sides, backs and bottoms were made of less expensive wood. Also, the back of the ‘cabinet.” Anything that didn’t show. But, even in those areas, the quality of the workmanship was high.

    And, those were interest rates from a credit union. Which, generally, have higher rates of interest than a bank. As credit unions are generally, not profit making entities. They are also, mostly, a friendly group of people, who treat their customers, well.

    Do you have Airstream caravans, in Australia? Those have been around forever. The workmanship was quit high. They were quit the rage, back in the day. There are still clubs, that hold rallies. A well maintained or restored Airstream, can really set you back.

    Difficult customers. Bookstore, library or slinging hash, they are always with us. I think I mentioned that a study was done and 5% of any businesses’ customers should be shown the door. When I had control of a business, I had no problems showing someone the door. Most other situations, you could defer to someone else to deal with a difficult customer. That’s why they get the big bucks. 🙂 .

    Go Editor! Put the biddies in their place! I’m surprised she won. Usually, the judging is a bit rigged, and an “outsider” doesn’t stand a chance. My friend in Idaho had a similar experience with a quilt contest.

    Well, I called “my” lawyer (solicitor?) , this morning. He’s someone who did a bit of work for me, decades ago. And, I see him “socially”, here and there. Anyway, I asked him for a ball park figure for a very simple will. I could probably have done it, myself, but wanted to make sure I had all the “i’s” dotted and the “t’s” crossed. A simple will, a power of attorney and a medical directive all for $200. Not bad, I think. Something else to cross off my bucket list. Lew

  31. Hi Lewis,

    A truly fine rant – however, what do they say about all’s well as ends well? At least the plumber fixed the tub and Eleanor made the appointment and H didn’t bite anyone. Well juggled I’d say.

    A lot of people have mentioned the book Dark Emu book to me of late. It will have to go on the to-read list. For your interest, I have heard it said that Emu’s were not hunted in some parts of the country as they were indicators as to the general health of the country and also timing for land management practices. Yup, there is a lot to learn, that’s for sure.

    We did a lot of work in the adjacent forest today. It is such a nice time of year to burn, although we are very manual and labour intensive and also only covered a tiny patch of ground. I made sure to thank the trees and forest spirits for their gifts. Hey did you come across anything interesting about the Finnish old ways? I have recently.

    Hope you enjoyed your snooze. Yesterday very late afternoon I too had a brief switch off whilst sitting in the hot bath. Despite working much harder today, I didn’t feel like that at all – the work was energising.

    86’F sounds pretty nice to me. Bear in mind that the maximum temperature reached 55’F today, and dunno about you, but I sleep much better when the weather is cooler. How folks in tropical areas don’t go troppo because of the constant heat is a true wonder of nature.

    You win! Those are great names. 🙂

    Did a very odd thing today. I cut the wedding ring off my finger. When I was a younger bloke 25 years ago, my finger was a bit thinner, and the ring is now acting as if it was ring barking my finger and I reckon the gold was giving me some sort of metal allergy as there was a spot of eczema there. I had no idea that gold was such a soft metal, and wire cutters did the job. My finger can now move more freely without feeling like the blood was getting cut off. The editor said no to the use of the angle grinder with steel cutting disc blade. Not sure why.

    My mind is freeing up a bit now, and I’m starting to get some ideas. There has been so much hysterical background noise of late – much of it justified, although some was not so much – that my mind was just full shutting it all out and there was not much creativity going on.

    It ain’t just you, and I too wonder about who benefits from innovations and other scams.

    Can you imagine what it would take to have to lay bricks five days per week for years on end? It is hard work on your hands that job, and I don’t necessarily agree with specialising to the sort of extent that folks like nowadays. It seems like a fast way to an injury. A month or two back I had a chance encounter with an old school brick layer and he used to do all sorts of different skills and just for a few examples: setting out a construction site to working out how to make the masonry chimney draw. Nowadays all they do is lay bricks – and that is a hard job to keep at as one gets older. The older work was more artistic, nowadays it would be like survival of the fittest.

    The veneer mirror process was done down here with furniture too. It is great to see such workmanship and the result is beautiful. From memory I’d seen such pieces from the Art Deco period to about the 1950’s, which is a very small window of time really. The sort of machine that can slice off thin chunks of timber for use in veneers is not the sort of machine you’d want to be having an ‘off day’ whilst using.

    The reason for my excitement with the bathroom cabinet is the incredible timbers and work put into making the unit. Interestingly, I did a bit of price comparison with brand new items, and the quality was frankly not good. It had been a long time since I’d looked at such cabinetry work and I was surprised at how far quality had dropped – and the new cabinets were not cheap. It was not a story that made much sense to me. Incidentally I may not have mentioned it, but the reason I began looking for a replacement was that the current unit leaks water even in normal day to day use. It is what I would call: In for a good time, but not a long time. 😉

    As far as I can understand things, there are no credit unions within cooee of where I live. But yes, they do have such a reputation. I read the other day that the big banks are intending to close many retail outlets. Hope you like the word.

    Far out, those caravans are cool as. From what I understand, they may not have been around back in the day, but I have noted that they are a true favourite with the food truck businesses. And I wonder how the cladding retains such a high gloss. It would be quite dazzling to see in the full sun.

    Collectors can be strange beasts, as we have discussed before. We don’t have too many airstream vans, however, collectors from all over the world export the old VW Combi vans. Salt is not used on the roads down here, so vehicles rust slowly. And that particular vehicle has an almost cult like following.

    5%! I don’t even care whether such a number is accurate or representative, but it feels right to me. There is little harm in showing such folks the door, and it also lowers the emotional tone of a place. Do you reckon such folks are grifters? I love that word too – and there are a few of them around, that’s for sure. Last week when I was at a local store buying the pot that would work on the black magic induction stove, there was a guy arguing at the counter with a bloke at the cash register. At one point he uttered the magic words: “I want to speak to the manager”, to which he was told that he was indeed speaking to the manager. The stupid thing is that the store is apparently in administration and that was the only store for miles around that sells stuff like the black magic steel cooking pots. And here’s this guy just digging the boots in for what seemed like only a couple of bucks. I couldn’t shake some sense into him, well that would be assault, and then my day would take a rather dark and unexpected turn. But how do you talk sense into folks who can’t seem to want to save themselves by saving the things around them?

    Yeah, the editor was pretty chuffed at winning the cake award too against the combined might of local country women’s association branch! Now the secret to winning was that the prize was awarded by the former state premier (your Governor equivalent, although nobody cares once they’re out of office) who had a large family farm in the area. And just to add salt to the wound he told the unhappy representative of the local branch that the cake was so good, he had a second slice. Before that there was a bit of scolding about rules not being followed, and I feel that everyone breathed a sigh of relief when that was stomped upon. It certainly lacked good grace that’s for sure, and every time I go into the kitchen I see the award.

    Getting your will in order is a wise idea. We have a government service that we pay for to attend to the matter. It’s called: State Trustees, and it is a State Government owned company – the Public Trustee for Victoria. It is not a bad option, but you can do your own will too as you note. But a lawyer is a good idea as well. I guess the core point is sorting your business out. 🙂

    We were going to do a film tonight, but work went on so long – well after dark, and then it just didn’t seem like such a good idea. Having the fire outside in the dark was really nice on a cold winters evening. It is probably a deep cultural memory.



  32. Hello again
    My husband refused to wear a wedding ring because he said that it was dangerous with the work that he did, far too easy for it to cause a loss of the finger. Son agrees.
    The airstream caravans are superb, there is one in a field near here and Son always gazes at it with a covetous eye.
    I am curious about the use of coffee grounds in my soil. I put them in my compost bin, which means that it is a long while before they go into my veg. beds. Can I utilise them directly?
    There seems to be a great desire for one to get into debt here. I am the recipient of letters offering me leeway if I am having financial problems. The latest gem said ‘we know you always pay your bill on time but if….’


  33. Yo, Chris – I read a bit of the “Snakefat and Knotted Thread”, book. It’s a lot to take in. The translation, or author’s grasp of English is a bit quirky. And there’s a lot of information crammed into a very few pages. The topics flit all over the place. So, it’s best taken in small doses. But it is interesting, and now I wish I had a list of place names, that relate to my family, so I can see if there’s any geographic connections. So, what bit of Finnish wisdom did you come across?

    So, you’ve gotten fat fingers. Too many sausage rolls and fruit pies? 🙂 .

    The Art Deco furniture could get REALLY crazy when it came to veneers. Rare and highly exotic woods. And, really hard to identify. Especially the high end stuff. Yeah, most modern furniture is pretty much shite. Particle board and photo veneer that “looks” like wood grain. Cheap staples instead of more substantial fastenings. And what’s tragic is that well made, old furniture is going for a song, right now. I think part of it is what’s in fashion, and, also, the idea that the cheap furniture is disposable. Just walk away from it and buy new.

    I must say though, that there are still some furniture companies out there that make high quality, new furniture. For a price. A very high price. But, if you see it at auction, it goes for a fraction of it’s original price. The auction in Olympia often has such furniture. Being the State capitol, and, with all those mountain and water views, it tends to be a “richer” community. So, I see a lot of newer stuff, come up for auction, that is pretty nice. They usually list the name of the furniture company, in the listing. Hmmm. That’s kind of the difference. Cheap furniture has no branding. The high end stuff will have the company name branded on the bottom, or back. Some unobtrusive place. They’re proud to have their name on it.

    Cooee. Maybe your council catchment area? Or, perhaps, the range of the Cooee bird? 🙂 .

    When I came up in retail, we labored under the idea that “the customer is always right.” Burger King did no one any favors with it’s “Have it your way,” campaign. But then, someone came out with a study that stated that 5% of your customers are not worth dealing with, as they wore down your staff and used up resources. I PRAYED that that bit of information would spread. It really didn’t. I don’t think that bunch are, particularly grifters. They usually don’t want to draw attention to themselves. I thought about it, and, I think the 5% are a.) just plane crazy, or, b.) entitled.

    I think it’s pretty nifty that you have a State Trusty, system. Keep an eye on it. Turn your back for a minute, and it will be privatized. Lew

  34. Chris,

    I overread (reading version of overheard) your comment regarding the metal allergy from your gold ring. (Sorry you had to cut it, by the way.) That type of allergy is not uncommon. My mother had to wear white gold for that very reason.

    Agreed. Generosity can take one a long way and help one to avoid *problems*. That’s a theme that runs throughout various Norse sagas, some Havamal poems, etc. The Nibelung story – Sigurd and Brynhild and the Burgundians and that lot -well, part of the problem in some versions was the sheer amount of wealth that they had. And of course, dragons were always associated with vast stores of accumulated wealth. Dragons=misers on steroids with horrid attitudes towards normal folk?

    Gunnar, however, may have had another issue: his detractors seem to have been jealous of his abilities and alleged good looks also. Eventually a streak of Gunnar’s own pride and stubbornness entered the picture.

    Is knowledge without having applied it – as in safely using a chainsaw after some safety lessons – really knowledge? As you hinted, I can watch someone safely use a large chainsaw for days, but if I haven’t tried it myself, I really don’t know how to handle it safely at all. It’s sorta like the difference between book knowledge and common sense in a way.

    I’ve long held to the idea that one’s capacity for knowledge is like a bucket which can be filled with book knowledge, common sense or a combination of them. Once full, the more book knowledge that is added, the more common sense drains out to make room for the book knowledge.

    Foreknowing the outcome of actions? Well, sometimes that is a rarified art form, nearly unattainable. Other times, well, it’s obvious. Like if a scrawny 13 year old DJ were to pick up and use the chainsaw with a 1 meter long blade and try to cut anything with it, said scrawny 13 year old DJ would be missing some body parts because he wasn’t strong enough to safely handle said chainsaw. Disclaimer – I never tried doing such a thing when scrawny at age 13, as even I could foresee the likely results.

    The saving thing for our water supply is that the aquifer gets replenished from the annual rains and snow. It interacts with and may even begin underneath Lake Pend Oreille and interacts with the Spokane River and likely Lake Coeur d’Alene. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spokane_Valley–Rathdrum_Prairie_Aquifer

    Quiet ale, comfortable chair in front of the hearth – always a good idea. Defending hearth and home and the Princess from an invasive marauding dragon is what needs to be done and may be called brave. Leaving the castle and roaming around looking for one so one can build up a reputation? Nah, that’s foolish. Remember, sometimes the dragon wins.

    I like simple machines. We likely both have enough experience, and we’ve both read a lot of Mr. Greer, so we totally get the potential problems that complexity brings. I miss my 1969 Datsun 510. That engine was designed with the mechanic in mind. The engine compartment was roomy, it was easy to work on, and not complex. A scrawny 20 year old DJ could do nearly all the mechanic stuff on that thing. My dad never had to take his old Ford Model A to a mechanic, as that, too, was a simple engine.

    I like pizza for breakfast. Bleu cheese on the pizza? I’ll pass, especially at breakfast. However, I’m with you, as I could eat it if hungry enough. But not willingly.

    Okay, jackaroo and jillaroo. Cool, another new lingo word. :0 I think I’ve heard jackaroo before.

    Which reminds me…We’ve got another local strange critter hereabouts in addition to sasquatch: the dread jackalope. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thyvErUBr-w

    Yes, I’m looking forward to the busy side of retirement from the paid work force. Keeping busy on things that interest me is much more enjoyable than what I currently get paid to do. Much more intellectually and emotionally rewarding, too.

    So, what exhausted me earlier in the week…I did a 6 hour work day in the sun Sunday. Weeded some brick planters and mowed the lawns. The grass was so tall that it took longer to mow the back than it usually takes to mow both yards. Or, as the Princess told me later after she’d arrived home, “hahaha! You mow like an old man now!” That came on the heels of cleaning out the worst of the weeds and grass from the raspberry area the previous day. At least I found that the soil there is wonderful: raspberry canes and leaves have decayed therein for 23 years now, so it is good soil that is 4 inches deeper than when the first raspberry plants snuck under the fence from the neighbor’s yard.

    Ahh, so you are nearing your last rose of the season. Our bushes have the first rose of the season showing off its deep red.

    Friday hit +32C. Saturday is supposed to reach +36C before the thunderstorms roll for the late afternoon and evening. That should drop things back to more normal late May, early June temperatures.

    Lew occasionally mentions the number of new cases in his area. 2 of the past 3 days in Spokane have been what until then had been the single highest amount of new cases. The latest neared Lew’s area’s total in one day, but Spokane is large and where Lew lives is pleasantly smaller. (Actually, the area where Lew lives IS extremely pleasant.) Oh, and the age group locally with the most cases locally? The 20 to 29 year old group.


  35. Hi Inge,

    I try not to think about such things really. For your interest, the editor refused to wear a wedding ring, and I just never really wondered or bothered about it. As far as I could understand the matter, it was her choice to make. Mostly it causes confusion for other people, but then that is their issue and I see no reason to take it on board.

    The airstream caravans are really quite attractively bright and shiny contraptions.

    Great news to hear that you’ve scored some coffee grounds. Good stuff. Imagine the bizarre process of all those great minerals travelling from far distant shores to land at your place. Understanding for me was like everything as it was a bit of a journey. Some of the coffee grounds are compacted due to how they are put into the machine cup handle and then compressed, so those end up on the soil surface as little pats. When I see those about the place, I kick them apart with my foot and then they just disappear. Speaking of which, over the past few years I’ve probably brought back about 12,000kg / 26,400 pounds of the stuff but possibly far more as I lost count a long while ago, and what I’ve noticed is that the more you chuck onto the soil surface, the quicker it disappears. I even chuck it over the vegetation in the paddock and the plants love the stuff. Seriously, the coffee grounds disappear within days and I am entirely oblivious as to what is eating it. Something sure is, do you happen to know what it may be? The only caveat I put on using the organic matter is that if it clumps too thickly it may take a little while longer to break down, but not much longer – and the plants respond well to the additional minerals.

    For the past week I have considered your observation about talking to the trees. It is a complicated subject down here and I do thank the trees for their gifts before harvesting any of them. However, the eucalyptus trees dominate the country to the exclusion of all else and so they are a rambunctious lot. I’ve worked out a middle ground where they extract a price, and I extract a price for my labours – and nobody is happy. I’d suggest that is a good result. But it is the wider land that speaks, and from time to time I get little glimpses, insights and suggestions as to how it all should work, and that comes from the wider land and not the trees alone. You may not have met a eucalyptus tree before. It is complicated.



  36. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, we have all encountered books such as those, and whilst book editors can wield a heavy hand, sometimes they are very necessary evils and can bring a wayward author back to the point of the book and also making sense. I read a book like the one you mentioned not that long ago and encountered the author – what do you say? But yeah, small doses is the way to tackle such works. Ah well, I read an account of one of our Indigenous folks heading over to Finland to meet up with the traditional Sámi people. It was interesting because he made the observation that: “It is crucial that future generations are influenced by practical human application rather than only by technology itself.” The encounter was in North Karelia where there are similarities with rock art here and that at the edge of a frozen lake the people had historically cast their cultural artefacts and tools to protect them from the coming of the light. And then how the sacred places became forbidden and culture disappeared. Oh yeah, that was magic indeed of a dark sort. It happens and history is full to bursting with injustice.

    Sausage rolls and pies (fruit or otherwise) are a worthy use of one’s life. 🙂 The knuckle on that finger is actually far larger than what it was when I was but a clear eyed stripling of a youngster. I can assure you that it has been a very fun ride. But there might be something in the skin allergy to the metal. Surely this difficulty would make me the most useless of all dragons?

    The burl veneers are almost impossible to identify what tree species they were derived from. And every burl is unique to the tree that suffered from the canker, so what do you do? I actually appreciated the fiddle backing of some timbers as it produces beautiful patterns. The flooring here in the house is feature grade (A.K.A. cheaper) but the interest in the grains defies expectations. When laying the floor, I deliberately chose to place the lighter boards along side the darker boards. It is a pleasing effect.

    But yup, ‘particle board and photo veneer’ is another way of saying heavily glued wood chips with a vinyl wrap. Not a fan. Blind Freddy knows that this is the case with second hand locally well-made items, but others have failed to catch on. I really don’t know what to make of it all. The idea that it is somehow all disposable is possibly at the core of it all I guess. You know houses themselves have followed that path, although few may realise that? Their expected lifespan is not good.

    It is funny you say that about the manufacturers stamp on furniture items, but we picked up our dining table second hand for about $100. The guy who sold it said something about it being a keepsake, but then he was ironically selling the table. And on the underside it was stamped with a local manufacturers stamp and the hardwood timber is far thicker than any other table that I have yet encountered. Some dolt had stained it with a dark walnut stain which is very weird for what is a lighter coloured local timber, but you know tastes and all that. Given the sheer thickness of the timber, it was no hassle to sand it down. I’m sure you have encountered such furniture before when in the tat trade? Originally it would have cost thousands upon thousands.

    Only Skippy knows what is meant by the call cooee! 😉

    I too have laboured under that widely held misapprehension. The 5% of customers are representative of the Pareto principle in relation to the energy required to deal with them. Such useful knowledge has not spread down here either, but then now that I think about it a little bit, I was served ahead of a large walking group this morning, so relationships count for something and not everyone panders to the lowest common denominator.

    Too true about privatising such a beast. Gubarmints (sic) forget that they are there to provide services where they may not otherwise be profitable to do so. Otherwise why would we all put up with their more foolish acts?

    Moved a lot of large rocks this morning. The small succulent terrace garden is now almost complete. By lunchtime I needed a break, and it was nice that the Green Wizards caught up electronically and had a lively discussion this afternoon. You may be pleased to note that we did not all agree on subjects and yet still navigated through the mess of opinions.



  37. Hi DJ,

    No worries at all! The eczema on my finger is a real mystery and now I’ve cut the ring off I’ll observe whether the skin improves or not.

    Ha! The characters in the sagas were correct to have done so, but then sheer amount of wealth is a relative concept and I do wonder how the prevailing populations of the time lived compared to those characters? And such hordes are just asking for a friendly (or not so friendly) dragon to come along and help themselves. The Vikings were certainly onto that business with their raiding. One would have to suggest amusingly that they ‘knew their business’. 😉

    Ah, that was clearly Gunnar’s kryptonite. Every Fluffy Hero has its kryptonite and the trick is not indulging exposure to their nemesis. Wasn’t pride one of the early seven deadly sins?

    Book knowledge can be useful if a person encounters a new and unfamiliar situation. Hmm. Maybe book learning is a tool, and like all tools it can be abused and mishandled – like a chainsaw in the hands of the unready. Or even overused. Dunno, what do you think about that?

    I’ve met people who have lots of book knowledge and then used that to claim a privileged position in a discussion. So there may be something in what you say about common sense spilling out due to over use of a person’s brain. An unpleasant outcome, and possibly fatal. Do you know I wouldn’t have considered that story except that long ago I mentioned on the interweb that the solar panels didn’t work very well when covered in snow. It was the response to that observation which really surprised me. An alternative theory was posited by a person who held a model which suggests that my observations were wrong and as such my system was also wrong. It was such a bizarre use of logic (or illogic as the case maybe) that really alerted me to the wider misuse.

    Hehe! A wise move. I doubt I could have used a chainsaw well at such a young age either. 🙂 Thanks for the amusing example!

    Thanks for the link to The Spokane Valley–Rathdrum Prairie Aquifer. Very interesting and it covers a huge area. It is not a competition, but it is worth noting that we do things biggerer down here: Great Artesian Basin. It is possible that the water resource is being abused.

    You are a bloke after my own heart as I too once owned a Datsun 1600 (your 510). That car rocked and I longed for the triple S version. A few years later I owned a Datsun 180B SSS coupe and it was such a fun car. And like you say, so easy to work upon. Dropped a 5 speed gearbox into the beast and it used to rock.

    Enjoyment of breakfast pizza but not of blue cheese just goes to prove that we all exist upon a continuum (with me at one end, and others elsewhere – even though they are wrong). Very sad for them. 🙂 Hehe!

    Thanks for the link.

    Yeah, exactly work is work and it pays the bills. Then there is life! Have you scored any interesting bits of wood recently for carving? Or has that all dried up in these crazy days?

    Mate, not good! On 36’C days I get up early (a true sacrifice) and then work up until lunch and then stop. It is the mid-afternoon sun that cooks your brain. So you know what scrambled eggs are like on a hot frying pan? Well your brain… Hehe! It is easy to do during the in-between seasons as it takes time to acclimate.

    4 inches of rich top soil is like money in the bank, but better!

    Yeah, and enjoy your roses! I shall just content myself with descriptions of garden grandeur during the off season.

    You know I hear so much about the subject that dare not be named, but I look at the death toll. A 30 year old died down here, but he was apparently reported as having a ‘complicated’ medical history. Nobody wants to have a complicated medical history. The death toll down here has barely passed a 100 people. I’m not entirely certain and we may have just dealt well with the circumstances, but more people have probably died on the roads this year in car accidents. Domestic violence seems to produce 1 victim per week too, so who really knows?



  38. Yo, Chris – I’m pretty sure the little book(let) was self published. So the configuration is all on the author. You’d think they’d have given it to a friend or two (with a firm grip on English), and asked “How does this read?”

    That’s pretty fascinating. Shaman meet shaman, half a world away. I mentioned my Sami heritage. I remember my grandmother, and one great aunt used to have an interesting knack. They’d set the table, and, sometimes I’d notice that their was an extra place set. “What’s with that?” They’d get a far away look in their eyes, and say, “Someone else is going to turn up.” And, they always did. Someone unexpected and unplanned for.

    A lot of the Arts and Crafts (aka: Mission) furniture, was made of matched “quarter sawn oak.” It made for interesting mirror patterns in table tops, and such. I think it also strengthened the furniture.

    I remember that nice table you picked up. But, most of the “branded” furniture doesn’t bring much, in the tat trade. You have to get into mid-century modern, and earlier, for the big bucks to start showing up. But even nice branded stuff from the 1930’s, has bottomed out. Really nice drop front desks (four drawers, below, drop front desk with pigeon holes, glass fronted doors above) used to sell from $850-$1200. Then they dropped to about $350. Now, less than $100 per.

    Speaking of the tat trade, the Centralia Square Antique mall re-opened on Thursday. “Please wear a mask, observe social distancing, only one person in a both at a time.” I’d planned to go in on Monday. Give the dealers the weekend to restock their booths. Glad I did. Got an e-mail this morning that some of their dealers are discounting everything, 10-30%, through June.

    We picked up another Covid case, yesterday. Someone in their 30s. I checked the breakdown, today, if anyone’s interested. 20 of our cases are under 60; 12 cases are under 50. The op shops are reopening.

    The Pareto principle (?) is at work at the Club. Always has been. We just heard one of our “problem children” died, the other day. He had had surgery, and overdid it. We suspect his heart gave out. I always steered well clear of him. I always felt he was crazy, unpredictable, and maybe dangerous. He was banned, a couple of times. The one before him was a right wing crazy, who threatened people that didn’t subscribe to his particular brand of politics. Also, swore a lot, which is verboten. He died of Co2 poisoning. Oh, well. I’m sure there’s another one, coming down the pike. Always another one, on the horizon.

    Here’s an interesting article, from our local newspaper. Couple moves to our county and starts a small organic farm. Wonder how they reacted when they discovered there’s no internet, in their neck of the woods. Or, if so, so slow it might as well be dial up.


    And, with all this talk of dragons and bad bunnies, I remember DJ linked to an image of medieval killer bunnies. Yesterday, on an archaeology / history website, I ran across this …


    As an extra treat, they link to the little bit of Monty Python film, of the knights and the killer bunny. I had forgotten the bit about the Holy Handgrenaide of Antioch. 🙂 .

    The rain woke me up, twice, last night. I wonder how DJ is fairing on his side of the mountains? Cliff Mass speculated that they might even get tornados, over that way.

    Oh! I forgot! The story of Button Man is really interesting. Would be startling if you ran across him. Ghosting about. Quit a few years ago, a father son team of recluses snatched a woman hiker, off a trail. Son needed a wife. She had other ideas. I suppose, to them, it seemed like a reasonable idea, at the time. Everyone made it out, alive, but it did not end well for the dynamic duo. Lew

  39. Hi Lewis,

    The actual job of editing a person’s written work is not that much fun. In point of fact I have provided such services and made salient observations as to narrative flow and the realism of characters responses, only to be encountered with suggestions that I read the entire text before drawing any conclusions. Well let’s just say that sometimes I go with my gut feeling, and what it was telling me was not good. And then people who were previously friendly with me act as if I’m the devil. Why would any sane person offer such services to friends? Nowadays I make little comment on such matters, but could actually help – the cost is high whilst the benefits are marginal. Let’s just say that it is OK to make mistakes, but then to repeat those mistakes possibly represents a serious lapse of judgement. Again, I’m going with my gut feeling here, but I’d imagine that over your life you’ve been dragooned into providing such services? I’d like to hear a situation where the situation turned out well, but I’d imagine that commercial editors keep themselves at arm’s length from authors. As an observation, your words flow nicely and the structure of your replies indicates that you wield an excellent command of the language, but then not everyone manages that knack. The written language is not the same as the spoken language, although a crafty person can walk between the two different worlds.

    It is one of the reasons why I would never speak with the mainstream media, despite there being opportunities to do so. The attention span of those folks is not good, and too often they seek to score points rather than explore an idea or just have a good chat about a subject that maybe too complicated to discuss in two minutes or less. I do worry about those folks. On the other hand if other opportunities presented I’d be interested. Of late I have seriously begun to wonder as to why I am continuing to purchase the weekend newspaper. Not only is the newspaper thinner, but my gut feeling is alerting me to the possible heavy reliance upon paid content. Paid content is not a problem, but then that income must be used to support investigative journalism otherwise the raison d’être is lost in the economics of the behemoth.

    Now there has been something of a minor mix up of late. Damo mentioned a 2014 New Zealand film: What We Do in the Shadows. And you provided a critique of the TV show. The two are not one and the same at all. We held a film night last evening and watched the 2014 film and it was excellent. The film was from the same folks that created the film: The Hunt for the Wilderpeople. To be brutally honest with you, I believe you may enjoy the film. As to the TV series I can provide no critique.

    Exactly. Strange things are bubbling just below the surface and we would be wise to attend to those. It matters not what you call these things: gut feeling, intuition, or what have you, it all stems from the other.

    Quarter sawing is a fascinating process. Interesting indeed. Maybe one day into the future I’ll get a portable saw mill. They’re around and very useful machines.

    Out of sheer curiosity why is it that mid-century pieces command a premium? It is not a story that I understand and I’m not a fan of the aesthetics although I can acknowledge that when it was done well, the outcome is excellent. And some houses down here come to mind, but they are also the exception rather than the rule.

    Yup, tomorrow looks set to introduce less restrictions down here too. But I’ll take a wait and see approach before getting too excited. There was some limitation of 20 people in pubs and I can’t understand how such a circumstance would be economically viable. That might be the point of it all though. Good to read that the op-shops are opening. I do wonder how the suddenly unemployed in your country make do in times such as these?

    Some folks manage to extend an air of imminent violence and like you I tend to steer clear of them too. There is an old saying about those who live by the sword, and it is true. And yeah swearing too much can be tiresome for everyone around them. I’d be curious as to your opinion, but to me it seems like a policy taken too far by individuals who indulge in swearing. And I write that as a person who swears, but it is a tool to be wielded infrequently and to good effect. And only then a person must have a long social standing with the people on the receiving end. Otherwise to my ears overuse of swearing sounds like a form of grooming.

    Good for them. I really enjoyed the article and thanks for linking to it. The comments were interesting as well and provide a bizarre vox pop of prevailing sentiment.

    Run away! Run away! 🙂 Dare I say it: How droll are the killer rabbits? Hehe! What an awesome link, and I’m glad that the medieval scribes were having some fun – and also casting moral judgements upon the characters in the works. As to killer rabbits, they’ll do you up a treat mate!

    Yeah, I read the good Professors blog which suggested that storms brewed on both the east and west side of your mountains. That would be an impressive achievement. I do so love a thunderstorm.

    He’d be a complicated guy that’s for sure. Reading between the lines in the story I got the impression that it was not wise to annoy the guy as some people possibly appeared to have done so. To be able to survive such terrain during winter, and also getting through epic wildfires unscathed, well let’s just say that he knows his business and is to be treated with respect if encountered. I get the sense that he takes his privacy seriously, and the article was written with the intention of either bringing the risk to the public’s awareness or perhaps agitating him into making an error. The guy knows a lot of territory and for some reason I was reminded of one of your mountain lions when I read the story. It is possible my grandfather’s and his WWII mates camp out in the bush was in that territory.

    Did no work at all today. It is nice to have a day off.



  40. Yo, Chris – I’ve only got caught up in editing, once. And, once was enough. Other than typos, they really didn’t take much of my advice (?). It’s a mine field, to pass judgement on other people’s creative attempts. LOL. My friend in Idaho sent me a picture of one of her art projects. Yard art. She calls them totem poles of found objects. I told her they reminded me of shish kabobs. :-). But, opined that maybe when she got the paint on them … Back when I did book reviews, I’d usually just pick something new out of the library. But, occasionally, the newspaper would pass along publisher’s review copies. As most were self published, it was the author that was sending it in. Most of it I ignored, and the newspaper never pushed. I think the only self published book I did, was one on mountain lions. Novels, but with a lot of detail on their habits.

    In my life, I have also steered clear of the media. In the first place (especially locally), they always get it wrong. Once, when I had my bookstore, a reporter and photographer showed up out of the clear blue. Some national media figure had just been ambushed, so, I was a bit prickly, anyway. I told them that I felt ambushed, and, if they wanted to make an appointment and come back … Lots of muttering about deadlines. They seemed just gobsmacked that I wasn’t lapping up the attention. Never heard from them, again.

    Portable saw mills can be very useful. There’s a lot of them kicking around this neck of the woods. The old guy (years ago) who did all the wood for a fence I needed, had a small mill. He repurposed an old logging bridge, for the wood.

    I haven’t found much Mid-Century Modern, that I like. I think some of the interest is nostalgia. What grandma had. And, for younger collectors, today, that’s Mid-Century Modern. Some study and collect things from particular designers. Charles and Ray Eames, come to mind. I’ve had books on MCM pottery, and another on glass. And didn’t see a thing I’d want. There’s a few things (very few) that I kind of like. Just because they’re kind of whimsical. With a space age vibe. Franciscan dinnerware, “Starburst” pattern, comes to mind.

    I think swearing should only be used for emphasis or effect. Break glass in case of fire. 🙂 . One can be fairly effective, and not use swear words. I stopped by the Club, yesterday, and I was gloved and masked up. One of the old poops made some comment about my gloves. I told him I was doing procto exams, and he ought to bend over. 🙂 . Well, that put him in his place, and everyone was laughing … at him.

    I wonder if the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch would work on dragons? Inquiring Minds Want to Know!!!

    I wonder if the Button Man isn’t being used as cover, for others nefarious deeds? In other words, is he framed? I noticed he does cooperate with the police, as far as inquiries. But I wonder if he’s telling all he knows, or, has seen.

    Well, today is bath day, for “H”. And, a bit of a trim. Luckily, she likes her baths. I’m heading for Centralia Square Antique Mall, tomorrow morning. Treasure!!! Lew

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