Party Vibe

Maybe it is just me, but the party vibe down in the big smoke of Melbourne is way dead.

It is kind of funny, but people living in the big smoke of Melbourne usually head out of the city and up to the countryside for relaxation so as to immerse themselves in nature. The editor and I on the other hand live with nature up to our eyeballs, so we occasionally stay over night in the city and dine out at some of the lane way restaurants and cafes. For us it is a real pleasure to enjoy a leisurely breakfast, supping a quality coffee, whilst watching the myriad denizens of the fine city go hurriedly about their mysterious business.

Well that small enjoyment ain’t going to happen now, or for the next month and a half at the very earliest. As of last Wednesday night the city is in Stage Four lock down with an 8pm to 5am curfew. Apparently the politicians have suggested that there is no Stage Five, and I guess that means that there is definitely no Stage Six, although some far left historical leaders such as Stalin, might suggest that such a thing is actually possible.

A guy I once knew remarked to me casually that he really loved signage. He may have been putting up a sign at that very moment he made that statement. Anyway, the signage over the freeways leading into the big smoke, has been relentlessly reminding folks about the health subject that dare not be named.

Peak hour traffic in the big smoke

Staying home is kind of difficult in my professional capacity, so my business activities have been rather throttled. Whilst my profession has been choked, I did notice another sign above the freeway suggesting that a career in the police force may be a valid option. Apparently there were something like 3,000 positions recently made available. With declining tax revenues and burgeoning budget deficits for the State Government, I do wonder how all those additional government jobs are going to be paid for. Fortunately that is not a problem for me although I am leery of the large fines being handed out. But I must say, the advertising is rather natty.

Advertising at its finest

The advertising billboard makes the suggestion and contrast that anyone who can learn to deal with the public in what looks to me like a fast food outlet, will most certainly be a battle hardened veteran when in a police uniform. Both the editor and I worked retail in our youth, and it is a tough game I can tell you. Anyway, the state government will probably need all those extra police because the city now has an 8pm to 5am curfew.

Heavy traffic during Melbourne’s peak hour

If someone had told me six months ago that the city would have an enforceable curfew placed on its citizens, I would have doubted the persons sanity. But here we are today, with a curfew in place. It has been a swift ride from ‘the world’s most liveable city’ to ‘the city with the strictest lockdown in the world’. We don’t do things by halves.

The first time I’d even heard of the concept of a curfew, was when an old mate worked for a while in Port Moresby, which is the capital city of the country of Papua New Guinea. He recounted stories to me of hardship whilst in the fine city because the authorities used to lock down the patrons in the bars and clubs, and my mate was totally good with that. Outside in the streets, apparently heavily armed forces used to patrol. Inside the bars and clubs the party vibe was pretty good by all accounts.

It has been many years since I spoke with my old mate. We became fast friends because we used to walk to primary school together. On weekends we used to hang out at the pinball machine / arcade games amusement parlours. We even used to travel all over the place and get up to all sorts of mischief. Fun times.

My mate always used to know lots of people. He vouched for me ‘as being OK’ when I left home and moved into a share house with four other people. I can still recall telling the landlord that the party days were behind us – yeah, we lied. The house had a good party vibe and I got to meet many fascinating people.

Two of the people in the house had a very dubious background apparently verging on the criminal, but they were really entertaining and fortunately for me they took me under their wing. I’m nothing if not a fast learner, and under their social tutelage, it wasn’t long before I could talk rubbish with the best of them. Talking rubbish after all, is a serious and prized skill.

Over time I drifted away from friendship with my old mate, and perhaps I did spend more time with my new best friends. Our friendship became strained and eventually broke. But before it did, my mate began apparently copying some aspects of my life.

By my nature I’m not a competitive person and I set my own goals. Other people feel differently and that’s fine. When I used to work in the top end of town, the editor wanted to own a classic car. So we purchased a 1974 Porsche 911 to sate that desire. It was a beautiful machine, but the repair bills made my eyes water and so we eventually sold it – at a considerable loss.

Anyway, my mate likewise decided to purchase a Porsche, except he bought a 944 model instead. A fine machine in my eyes, and much newer than the car we owned. I would have enjoyed it. However another friend quipped one day: That’s a poor man’s Porsche, and my old mate looked gutted.

But then there was the house situation. The editor and I used to purchase houses that were serious dumps, and we’d fix them up, structurally as well as aesthetically. And we’d do most of the work ourselves in the hope of making a profit so we could get out of debt. The last place we did that too was in a very cool inner urban suburb.

My old mate purchased a house in the less cool, but more affordable end of the suburb. As our friendship had become strained, I hadn’t yet been invited to the house. Then one evening, as the editor was walking home from work, my old mate approached the editor and invited her to check out the house. It was all very friendly and above board.

Later that week following the unexpected invite, the editor and I were at a party. There was a good party vibe there. My old mate casually asked the editor loudly in front of the assembled gathering what she thought about his new house. Quick as a flash, for the editor is nobodies fool, she replied: “Yeah, it was alright”. And that was that.

It has been a very cold week at the farm. A large chunk of Antarctic cooled air drifted north from that polar coldness. The fancy technical word for this sort of weather anomaly is a: Cut off low. And far out there have been some cold mornings:

-1’C / 30’F outside and 14’C / 57’F inside

The morning wasn’t as cold as it can get here, but it was pretty close to it. It sure was even colder in the valley below the farm where the cold air falls overnight and accumulates. In a bizarre twist of fate, it is warmer at this higher elevation.

It was cold up here, but far out, down there it was even colder

Snow flurries fell for hours, however the ground was too warm for the snow to settle and accumulate. The snow looked great though:

Snow flurries fell over the orchard this week

We’re tough here, and don’t let a little bit of cold wet weather stop the work on the farm. Over the past few weeks we have been working on the path up above the house. It is a very long path which begins at the driveway and ends up near to the forest on the other side of the garden terraces project.

This week we created a huge soil bridge so that the driveway and the path were on a similar contour (the fancy name for being on the same level).

There is now a super neat ramp leading onto the path up above the house. Plum approves

Two days of digging and moving soil created a nice flat ramp which connected the driveway to the path up above the house. Onto the surface of the soil we placed a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime.

Some of the soil for the work was removed and relocated from the path widening activities.

Ollie approves of the path widening project

The thick clouds meant that we didn’t really have enough electricity from the solar panels to utilise the electric jackhammer. So, all of the work was done with hand tools. The generator was fired up to put some life back into the ailing house batteries. The batteries need to be replaced, and soon. This renewable energy stuff makes no economic sense whatsoever.

The author in his woollen noddy hat whilst pouring petrol into the generator

We still need more of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime to place over the surface of the path, but I reckon it is looking very good.

The path above the house is nearing completion. Ollie is proud of the result

Some of the crushed rock was placed on a path at the other end of the property.

The path leading into the raspberry enclosure scored some crushed rock

Crushed rock was also placed on the surface behind the second last steel rock gabion cage. The new greenhouse project will be sited on that flat bit of land.

The second last steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up

Despite it being very cold, the colourful parrots still live on the farm and enjoy eating all of the dog manure. Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (who is actually a Bull Arab), being a large dog, must be supporting at least four parrots. The dogs and parrots enjoy a symbiotic relationship as the birds provide hours of entertainment for the sheep dog pups: Ruby and Plum.

A Crimson Rosella sits in a Black Locust and keeps a watchful eye on Ruby

Down in the valley below the farm I spotted a large herd of deer. The stag is enormous and Ollie has had to chase off this herd out of the orchard from time to time. That is one of his jobs.

A herd of about a dozen deer in the valley below the farm

Onto the flowers:

Alkanet are a great source of hardy edible greens for the chickens
This Daisy was sheltering from the cold weather in this Sage
Geraniums continue to flower
Gazania’s continue to surprise and delight
This particular variety of Lavender is super hardy
A local Musk Daisy Bush in flower
Silver Wattles flower in profusion at this cold time of year

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 732.2mm (28.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 707.2mm (27.8 inches).

69 thoughts on “Party Vibe”

  1. Chris,

    I was happy to see the change in our weather happen about on time this year. As you said, cool nights and warm days are the best. Most years we see a change somewhen between August 7 and August 21, although it can happen as late as early September.

    Nothing is better than food with a mug of dark ale, especially if the mug of dark ale brimmeth over. Brimmeth makes anything sound rather biblical, now that you mention it.

    Dogs happen. I’ve yet to understand how people end up with the dogs they get. They just happen.

    Applications of those two courses? Well, in life yes, but the answer is not short. The first course was a survey of world “religions” entitled “east-west philosophies and religions”. It was fascinating. During the section on Chinese ideas, the instructor demonstrated a Tai Chi Chuan form. The 2nd class is what introduced me to the “Tao of Pooh” book. That instructor, whose background was very similar to mine, got a nasty lesson into the lack of ethics in American religious organizations a few years before I was the recipient of similar lessons. In addition to the book recommendation, he had spent some time in China when trying to put his life back together and discovered that there can be viable civilization and culture outside of the background he and I were raised in.

    By the time my church situation was paralleling his, I had already purchased his recommended book: soon after returning from the Alaska grad school venture, the Princess read about a taiji class and signed me up. The forms and other things picked up with studying that art, combined with ideas catalyzed by Tao of Pooh, are still with me today.

    How the 2 courses apply to the job isn’t quite so obvious. Rather, the application to the job is due to the longer term influences and shaping my life has had as outlined above. How I deal with ideas, changes, shocks, people has changed as I change, which I think has a lot to do with the outlook on life brought about by influences catalyzed by those 2 courses.

    May the bees meet the almond blossoms!

    Those Melbourne highway pictures look like Spokane used to in 1970! Surreal lack of traffic. But we live in surreal times.

    Your new paths look good. That is a LOT of work! Princess and I enjoyed the photo of the deer. She said “Wow!” and I said, “Looks like dinner. Where’s my bow and arrows?” 😉

    Okay, so the discussion on the parrots clarified the dog issue: clearly the parrots were talking and you listened when they said they needed you to have larger dogs with more poop so they could have more food and thus support more parrots. I find that it’s always good to listen to the birds. So apparently you listen to them too. 🙂


  2. Yo, Chris – And, today’s ear worm is ….

    A one hit wonder. A cultural relic from The Great Hair Wars of the 1960s. 🙂 .

    3,000 police positions? What are they planning? I don’t know how wise it is, to draft in former retail workers. All that simmering animosity, built up over years of being powerless before the general public. Give them a bit of power, and, well, things might not go well.

    There were rumors of curfews for young folks, when I was a wee small lad. I’m afraid they went the way of school truant officers. Once those things vanished, it was all downhill, from there.

    But, as far as your future in law enforcement, the burning question is: do they have cool hats? Here in the former colonies, we call a noddy hat, a stocking cap.

    As far as your friend goes, remember. “Imitation is the sincerest of flattery.” Charles Caleb Colton, 1820.

    Good to see your finally getting some proper winter weather. About time. 🙂 .

    Paths are looking better than good. What a lot of work. Looks like you’ve been taking lessons from the Romans. So, all these paths, bypasses and roundabouts. Going to start naming them? Speaking of signs, you could have a lot of fun with directional signs.

    Crimson Rossella. 3-$500, here. Venison! Lew

  3. @ DJ – I was visiting a bookman, yesterday, and he was having an insane sale. Any book, a buck a pop. I don’t know if you have it, but I picked up a copy of “Antique & Collectible Pyrography * Burnt Wood: The Burning Passion” by Carole and Richard Smyth. L – W Book Sales, 1995.

    Fascinating book. Boy, some of those early wood burning kits were really dangerous. Lew

  4. Hi DJ,

    The same thing occurs here during the month of February, and an acquaintance who is also a scientist explained to me that this was all due to thermal inertia and the fact that the warmest and coldest days occur after the respective solstices. So, to cut a long story short, we are all in the same boat. It boggles my mind that you can be at 47’N and yet experience similar summer climactic conditions as to what I enjoy here at almost 10 degrees latitude closer to the equator. Your winters are occasionally pretty epic though and err, I’m soft!

    Hehe! Well I dug deep into the collective lexicon and came back with the word ‘brimmeth’, and it sort of fitted the sentence structure. But then if ones cup does runs over, does that lead to a flood? A tough question which can only be answered by the numerals: 42. If you know what the number means, please don’t hold back, it could be important? The dark ale was good, although I prefer the lower waste category of glass and a pulled tap at the bar. In these times though a person must be flexible and take their enjoyments as they become available. Or as the old timers used to quip: No point crying about spilt milk.

    Ruby spent about four hours today running around the farm. At times I’d watch her leaping through the air with the uncommon grace of a gazelle. The dog is sound asleep now as she is exhausted, and Ollie was tired just watching Ruby run around and doing some serious leaping. I hear you, how this trio of canines entered my life is a serious mystery. My gravestone might read: I knew a few good people, and a lot of good dogs (attributed originally to Mark Twain).

    Ah, Tai Chi looks to me like a physical expression of a belief system and a belief system. Mate, you know I have this simple understanding of the world which suggests to me that: Whatever works, and the Tao of Pooh looks to me like a beautiful work. I’m reading The Grapes of Wrath at the moment and therein the story (but not deliberately addressed as the author was a slippery fellow) I see many differing interpretations of religion trying to put on the same hat. They can’t all be right as the characters are failing to connect when a difference is discovered. But then, it is possible that they might all be correct from their perspective, and so whatever works for them is probably the best lens which they can place on that particular aspect of life. I’m always impressed by the sheer scope of comforting ways with which to conduct that side of people’s lives, and having travelled to predominantly third world locales I do see that abundance of different belief systems playing out. And I’d also like to chime in and add that it is a fragile belief system that can’t take a few knocks and come back fighting. Mate, you sure must have seen some things in your time.

    Wouldn’t it be a shame if us humans weren’t able to learn and grow as people? Yup, ideas, changes, shocks, and new people are as much a comfort as they are a challenge to our individual and collective worldviews. But how else does one grow? As a young adult my granddad might have used a rather unflattering name to describe me. It wasn’t personal, he called everybody that name. But now, I doubt he’d use that name (of course him being deceased and all I am certain of my understanding of the matter), so yeah growth is central to a person’s character.

    Hehe! The freeways down here used to look that way in the late 80’s! Thus proving that everything old is new again – and life is a circle, or more correctly an inverted bell shaped curve.

    Hmm. Venison is good. The herd looks pretty good, and Ollie really has his work cut out for him with that stag. I was chatting with a mate the other day and we were discussing the difficulties of a dog having to deal to a herd of deer. Sir Poopy was the most accomplished at the job although extraordinarily lazy, but Ollie is no lightweight and can pack a punch.

    The birds know their stuff. Given they are the descendants of the dinosaurs, you’d hope that the species learned a thing or two. 😉



  5. Hi Lewis,

    I don’t actually know what to make of the health subject which dare not be named. People are landing in hospital down here too. It disturbs me that when a relatively young person dies the media seems to go on a bonanza of reporting. Mind you, there has only been a single person in their 30’s on this continent, and there are about 25 million people down here on this dry parched old land mass. My general grasp of math is not good due to having the school bully sit next to me in year nine. I noted that the kid was not invited back to attend year ten, so that says something right there. But alas, the damage was done and I am incapable of advanced math. However, in Uni I did quite well in Statistics I and II. Not crowing, but High Distinctions were earned. So yeah, my general understanding of the numbers is that it looks fairly representative of the usual course of things in a usual season, but perhaps with a slightly darker edge. Mind you, the virus is no feather weight contender and person would be very unwise to pit themselves against the challenger as they might be knocked to the mat and out by the count of ten. So yeah, be alert, but keep it sensible and know that despite your best efforts things can go wrong.

    Maybe it is just me, but I have had to learn to live through the summer months with the risk of getting burned out by a bushfire. It is an old story and can you imagine what the folks living in the present UK but way back in the Dark Ages had to fear from yours and DJ’s Viking ancestors? Those lot would have scared the poop out of me. The low level of anxiety fielded by the current population is perhaps just a return to the historic norm? Dunno.

    The article you linked too about the food situation did not tell a happy story. I’ve heard similar stories with food banks down here seeing classes of people who would not normally front up for assistance. Also the article was a timely reminder that my peanut seeds have not yet arrived, so just to hedge my bets I chucked in a random order with another supplier of seeds whom I’ve heard good tidings about and have previously sampled their wares (the bread wheat seeds).

    Weasel folks and weasel words. I’d prefer ‘ferret’, because at least I’ve encountered a ferret. Lovely creatures. The only other mention of weasels was the old English nursery rhyme which went something along the lines of: Pop goes the weasel. Why would anyone want to pop a weasel? I see that the Church of England suggested using more wholesome words to the musical score. That alone suggests to me that the lyrics may have been something of a double entendre? Maybe?

    Me neither, but I’m happy to chuck in my twenty cents on kids education as it seems like an important topic. And you raise an excellent point which may be quantifiable. What exactly are the kids missing out on? All good questions, and I have heard reports from parents that they are currently getting a better understanding as to how their children are actually learning compared to the report cards. One alarming thing I heard was that children are doing group work and being marked as a group, and I am very uncomfortable with that as it is a homogenising process which averages out students, allows for greater volumes of testing, and is basically a lazy mechanism for teachers who have to mark the work. Not a fan and it suggest to me that the basic model is flawed.

    Hehe! At this juncture it is important to point out that as a part time night student at Uni, there were no beer busts or spring breaks. After a full day of work most night students were tired and just did what they were there to do. But having said that I am no fan of the Universities as they have over supplied graduates in my profession and even allowed some of them to ply their trade from overseas locales where the living costs are way low. All up, an over supply devalues the qualification and drives down wage rates. There seems to me to be very little return on investment for attending such a place these days, but that is merely an opinion.

    Ah bupkis, well I can tell you a thing or two about bupkis. 🙂

    Of course, the bloke wearing the hat did look like he knew what he was doing, and clearly the facts speak for themselves in the print. The crowd did look chuffed with the invention and its successful implementation. Can you imagine the feeling of greatness that attended the spectacle and day? The folks so attending would have known what was going on and what was at stake. Most people these days know bupkis about agricultural pursuits. Speaking of which the order of peanuts comes with Inoculant.

    Hope the TV’s blaring into the night aren’t a problem for you?

    H is of a noble birth and has a gentile character and so of course she would not enjoy early mornings. I have no doubts that H is aware of the tiniest of peas under 27 mattresses! How did the bath go?

    You’re good. Not only a solid earworm and blast from the past man, but some seriously funny signs. Why would anyone put up a sign for ‘Secret Nuclear Bunker’? Does my head in, and hope Suzanne keeps away from the ‘gators, as there was a sign of a person on a wheelchair at the top of a slope with ‘gators at the bottom of the slope. Not something you see everyday, that’s for sure.

    Clearly someone higher in the pecking order feels that the additional members of the constabulary are necessary. It does seem like rather a lot though. Oh, you’re doubly good and your astute observation has me chuckling to myself. Only those who have dealt with public know. Oh yeah!

    Never heard of the term stocking cap before. You know when I was a wee-young-fella and delivering newspapers to the retirement home, the folks used to knit me tea cosies as a Christmas present. Never quite understood what that was all about, and for some reason I used to also receive handkerchiefs (not that I was a snotty kid). Anyway, I could have used a stocking cap. I got that particular socking cap when I worked at a steel supplier and over winter we had to count steel sheet (1/12th of an inch thick) on cold winters days. The things ya do when you’re younger, but the hat was well made to have lasted this long.

    Pleased to make the acquaintance, and the author is good. How’s this for relevance: “With books, as with companions, it is of more consequence to know which to avoid, than which to choose; for good books are as scarce as good companions.” Hmm, so true.

    The winter weather was remarkably short lived. Although this Wednesday to next Sunday looks set to bring more rain. How much can a Koala bear? Beats me.

    Roman blood? Hmm. Maybe, my Scottish ancestors didn’t seem overly interested in roads, so perhaps some cheeky Roman warmed a northern Scottish maidens bed on a cold winters evening many millennia ago? It is possible. 🙂 I do have a rather large nose (Monty Python reference).

    What? Really? If the dogs catch a Crimson Rosella (an almost impossible feat for the dogs), well they’d eat the parrot. And so you lot are selling parrots for proper mad cash that my dogs want to chase and eat? The world is a very strange place indeed.

    Can you see the horns on that big stag towards the right hand side of the photo? He’s big and Ollie has his work cut out for him.



  6. Hi Inge,

    Apologies, I assumed that you were referring to European honey bees. As a contrast, the native bees here don’t seem inclined to sting humans and they also live in holes in the ground, but in very tiny hives which is why nobody has tried to harvest honey from them. However the indigenous folks were apparently very good at harvesting of honey and care of the Sugarbag bees. I’d try some of the bees here but I suspect that the winters are just too cold for the hives – unfortunately. But for all I know, the species may have been present in this forest before the logging commenced in the 1860’s. I suspect the species will eventually return.

    That happens down here too with bees and wasps and from time to time you’ll see an article about an epic sized hive being relocated from inside a house structure.

    I had a nest of European wasps once take up residence inside a chimney in an old Victorian era house. For some reason which I don’t know the hive died (probably a cold winter) and I had to get a chimney sweep guy to remove the hive remains. The guy seemed very unfussed by the job and was very clean.





  7. Hello Chris
    The work that you have done on your land is incredible, it looks amazing.
    Yesterday was the first time in my life that I have longed for winter, the temperature indoors was 89F. Today is a bit better as there is a slight breeze. My freezer is really struggling and my laptop stopped functioning in the heat as well. Okay now thank goodness.
    Son has just proudly brought me a giant red tomato. Only my tiny ones in the baskets have started to turn red or yellow.


  8. @ DJSpo
    I always liked the following:- A man was walking with the devil when they saw a man in front of them, pick up something that had been dropped. The devil said ‘That was a bit of the truth’. His companion asked ‘Isn’t that bad for you?’ The devil said ‘No, I’ll let him organise it’.


  9. Hi Chris,

    After a very cool start to last week (highs only in the low 20sC, in the hottest part of the summer!), it has gotten hot and humid again. While it was cooler, I dug the potatoes, a goodly amount of them, though I think not as much as last year. I have a theory about why that might be, as the other spring and early summer crops were also low yielding but the crops I am harvesting now – tomatoes, cucumbers, summer squash, peppers, and eggplant – are producing abundantly. The corn has somewhat recovered from lodging and looks set to do well also.

    I looked at your highway pictures and thought, “They drive on the wrong side of the road there.” 😉 I had to force myself to drag my eyes away from that fact to notice how little traffic you currently have. I am sorry about your loss of business, and the economic havoc that is being imposed on everyone. It does appear that something is leading to more sickness and death than is usual, that it appears to be easy to catch, and that people with pre-existing health issues are more likely to get sicker and to die, but beyond that is much harder to be certain about.

    My mother is not doing well. She was hospitalized for observation and a transfusion two weeks ago. They sent her to rehab and she got better; she sounded pretty good when I talked to her a week back. Then she took a turn for the worse and was sent back to the hospital for another transfusion, then back to the rehab center. Then she was diagnosed with that which cannot be named over the weekend. We still don’t know what the original problem that sent her to the hospital twice was, nor do we know if she got the less or more accurate test for the not named thing. She does have a low grade fever and sounded quite weak when I tried to talk with her yesterday afternoon. Even if I or any of my siblings lived in the same town as her, we could not visit her, which bothers me a lot, especially with her sounding so weak. This situation isn’t unique; many others have had to go through something similar. It’s her, and our, turns now.


  10. Yo, Chris – Well, we’ve had 1,688 deaths in our State, as of Friday. Now, I think I read that 40% of the deaths are seniors … over 60. So, if my little calculator is correct, that’s just a hair over 1,000 that have died, who are younger. I could have figured that out with pencil and paper, but, why? As long as the calculator keeps working.

    Yes, yes. School bully (who we’ve heard about many times, before) who squashed your early dreams of being a famous mathematician. I suppose that’s as good an excuse, as any. 🙂 . Beyond figuring out percentages and long division. I’m a total loss when it comes to math. No bully in my background. I figure I’m just stupid, when it comes to maths, that skate anywhere near the theoretical. When pressed, I’m pretty good a geometry, too. But you’re dealing with concrete shapes, there.

    Not too much of a problem, with TVs blaring. I mean, they do, but I only hear them in the halls, or, outside if a windows open. But, I do get a lot of noise, from the street. Sirens and lawn equipment. The beep, beep, beep of trucks in reverse. People nattering on, in the parking lot. And, that damned exotic bird is going to drive me nuts. He squawks at all hours of the day and night. I can hear him, quit distinctly, if my window is open. Closed, I can still hear him.

    I thought you could tell the age of a stag by counting the “points.” At least, that’s what I was told, growing up. Glad I checked it out, before nattering on. There’s no simple way. Varies from species to species and depends a lot on nutrition. Well, if Ollie manages to bring him down, have the head preserved (or, at least the rack) and it will make a marvelous place to display your hat collection. 🙂 .

    Well, H got her bath, yesterday. Such a good dog! We always do a bit of a go around, as Eleanor would rather H’s hair be allowed to grow out. Well, fine, but that would mean monthly trips to a groomer. Not going to happen. Then I picked a gallon of blueberries. Working mostly on a slope. Oh, was I sore and tired. I think one leg is shorter than the other, now. Oh, well. Another gallon for the freezer. Lew

  11. Hey Chris,

    I hereby propose a new name to put on Victorian number plates:

    “Victoria – The Police State”

    Think it’ll catch on?

  12. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the kind words. Aesthetics are always at the back of our minds with the projects. A shed or path needn’t detract from the feel of a place by being an eyesore, and we garner a great deal of enjoyment from the combination of beauty and function.

    Several hours were spent this afternoon on drilling and utilising the jackhammer breaking up the moby rock on the far end of the path up above the house. And I have good reason to believe that the rock sticking up out of the path is actually part of the original moby rock in the raspberry enclosure. Without doubt the rock is some of the hardest granite I’ve yet encountered. Did about a quarter of the job though.

    Sorry to say, but I too get those feelings during the extreme months of the year (February and August). Doesn’t it take a prolonged run of either extreme cold or heat to produce those feelings? Once or twice a year the inside of the house here will reach such unpleasant heights, and you have my understanding and sympathy.

    The question becomes thus: Does the big red tomato have flavour? As a general rule I stick to the smaller and mid sized varieties of tomatoes as they just taste better. Haven’t yet received all of my summer seeds and am waiting on the peanuts – which I’ll trial this year. Should be interesting that’s for sure.

    Hope things cool down for you.



  13. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the harvest update and your garden is always an impressive achievement. Such cool conditions don’t keep the soil warm, but at least the evaporation is much reduced.

    For your interest, we plan to relocate the raised potato beds over the next month or so, but before that I have absolutely no idea how they are travelling. The recent bout of cold weather hasn’t seemed to have killed the above ground parts of the plants – as has happened in the past. I’m honestly not sure what to make of that.

    Out of curiosity, did you mound up the soil around the corn that had lodged and then brought the stems upright again? I’ve trialled that recovery trick and it seems to work. I don’t actually know whether the original corn seeds were planted too shallowly though? I have no idea at all, but sometimes the roots can be seen protruding above the soil level at the base of the corn stems. Dunno. The plant is a mystery and we’re growing less of it as time goes on because it is such a heavy feeder.

    Ha! Word on the street down here is that it is you lot who drive on the wrong side of the road. 🙂 From some respects your countries response to this crisis is perhaps more robust, but at the same time unfortunate and unforgiving. And yes, your observations about the health subject that dare not be named are all valid.

    Claire I’m so sorry, and you have my understanding and condolences. Tragedy is a constant companion on this thing called life. Dying alone among uncaring strangers is an indignity.

    Now you may well be cross at me, but I have had more than my fill of tragedy, and make of that what you will. My dad left when I was too young to recall him. Haven’t seen him for three or maybe four decades and even then it was only brief encounters. My mother was a complicated and difficult woman, and moved interstate about two and half decades ago possibly to escape further obligations. And at the same time as my mum skipped the state, the editor and I got to experience firsthand the editor’s mum’s untimely and unexpected demise which coincidentally occurred in an ICU. The editor’s mother was a truly lovely person, but that was no protection from our collective fate.

    You are about to be tested. Somewhere you must find within yourself to become Lionhearted. It is within you, if you but draw upon it.

    With sympathy,


  14. Hi Simon,

    Hehe! Very funny, and kind of true.

    The words on the Dirt Rat’s number plates read: ‘Victoria the place to be’. Except, it ain’t so crash hot these days.

    Given the state government’s main source of revenue is from GST, it does make me wonder how the heck they’re going to pay for all those extra coppers? Beats me.

    Maybe the Modern Monetary Theorists have decided to chuck caution to the winds and just said to themselves: What the heck, let’s give this theory the good Aussie go! Yeah let’s do this mother…

    It’s an economic bloodbath out there. And I see that our New Zealand friends have just been placed into Stage Three lock down. What does ‘hubris’ mean? 🙂



  15. Hi Lewis,

    It is possible that we don’t have the same virus in play down here. Maybe. The Federal gubarmint has kindly put together how the story is playing out down here: Coronavirus (COVID-19) current situation and case numbers . Look under the heading: deaths by age group and sex. That sounds a bit dodgy doesn’t it?

    I can’t really speak for conditions and outcomes in your country, and it is certainly possible that health outcomes are worse? Dunno, but the difference between here and your country’s experience is certainly highlighting something that is unpleasant and bears a bit of analysis. And with our Federal Gubarmint’s statistics, I’d have to suggest that there is incentive to skew them towards the younger folks in society, but that is a supposition otherwise known as a wild guess.

    Oh, so you aroused my curiosity and I noticed that your CDC is reporting age distributions that sort of look similar to what we are seeing. Age and sex.

    Your 40% figure sounds incorrect sorry to say. But then calculators are not to be trusted, unless you know how to use them. 😉 Hehe! And that presupposes that you have a rough idea what the math answer that the mechanical brain might provide before you get to enjoy the exactitude of more decimal places than you possibly might ever need. Fans of the number pi might keep themselves endlessly amused, but is the exactitude entirely necessary I ask you?

    At High School, my accounting teacher did not allow us students to use calculators except for in the final statewide exams. Interestingly too, with all of the virus school dramas going on, spare a thought for the kids studying their final year at High School right now. My advice to them, try and get an apprenticeship as a fitter and turner. We’ll need more of those folks – and welders and boilermakers too, if I’m not mistaken. Still perhaps it is just me as I do like getting my hands dirty.

    Speaking of which, at the far end of the path up above the house (at the opposing end to the driveway) I began drilling and using the jackhammer to break up the rocks sticking into the path. Four hours of that work today and about a quarter of the job was completed. My arms are feeling it tonight. And woe is me because the rock looks as though it is all part of the larger moby rock in the raspberry bed which defeated me. Mate, that particular rock is one tough chunk of granite and it resists being diminished. But the path must be flat… What did the Romans do when they wanted to run a road through territory where the rocks resisted their efforts? It makes you wonder whether the Romans had explosives?

    Yes, yes, it is imperative to occasionally repeat myself if only because after six years of writing weekly essays I’m creatively bankrupt! 🙂 There are worse things to be, I guess. Hehe! Well the school bully is a good excuse, but in reality it probably was more of a case of lack of aptitude. My brain does not work in numbers, but rather narratives and words. Sad, but true.

    What? No bullies. We could arrange something on that experience front if you’d prefer? Hehe! Bad Chris. Suzanne might do a good job if pressed into service. 🙂 Mate, he was about the only one that I’d encountered. A rather dull fellow to boot. That school had such a weird and aggressive culture, I mean the kids used to organise after school fights, but at least scores were settled and didn’t fester and kids were put to the test. The kids loved it too, the little animals.

    But yeah, geometry is not dissimilar from statistics and both of which have practical and immediate applications. A good understanding of basic geometry is kind of handy when setting out a buildings foundations and dimensions. You’d be amazed how few folks can get their heads around such basics, and often building problems are three dimensional problems. I’ve often wondered whether the sheer wastage on building sites these days is due to an inability to accurately order materials. It’s possible.

    Cities are incredibly noisy places, and some parts of the world are far noisier than others. Some parts of Asia were quite confronting for noise, and I recall coming home from a trip once and had the awful understanding that our built environment reflected our culture. It was a bit of a shock realisation. Have you ever felt that dislocating feeling?

    The poor bird is possibly only squawking at night because the bird is in an artificially lit environment and can’t get a good nights sleep. The poor bird is possibly going mildly psychotic with lack of adequate sleep, and there is a strong argument to be made that the bird might be sharing the pain.

    You might recall that earlier in the year before all of the craziness went down, the editor and I visited Werribee manor, and in the men’s billiard room there were all manner of trophies hanging from the walls. Certainly a few deer heads made a look in among other exotic animals. You don’t see that these days. 😉 Ollie is a large and very powerful dog, but the stag is bigger again and Ollie only dares approach from the rear, alerting the herd to his presence all along. Caution is the watchword here.

    We have an old school hat rack in the hallway where the various hats are stored. Some of the hooks are stainless steel stylised gecko’s and they look really cool. No deer’s were harmed in the making of the hat rack.

    A wise observation regarding H. You may notice that the current batch of fluffies are all short haired. They may ‘blow’ their coats once a year, but trips to the groomers are a thing of the past. Sir Poopy the Pomeranian used to love visiting the groomer and enjoying a bath and clip. H is cut from the same cloth for sure.

    A gallon of blueberries! A respectful haul, and that is unfortunately one of the undocumented downsides of living on sloping land. Did you get all the blueberries into the freezer?

    I’ve almost nabbed all of the materials for the battery replacement project. Supply lines are so weird right now that I have had to jump through some rather odd hoops of late. It sure has been a strange journey that’s for sure.



  16. Chris,

    Yes, thermal inertia is the term I’ve always heard, too. It explains things in the microcosms as well, such as why a freezer runs more efficiently when kept full rather than empty. Or why cooling the house overnight, to get the structure – the thermal mass – cooler, lasts longer than simply opening a few windows first thing in the morning. I observe the latter from many people.

    Mark Twain’s quote is spot on. Thanks for repeating it.

    I’d never really considered Taiji Quan as a belief system, but it really is. Appreciate the insight. Now I have something to contemplate thanks to another one of your comments. Your observations from your past travels confirms what other friends who’ve travelled to third world areas have also observed. Your comment about fragility seems quite correct from my observation as well. IMO, too many belief systems today have lost their solid foundation (if there ever was one) and have a lot of fragile believers.

    I feel sad for those who can’t/won’t learn from changes and new things. It’s as if their belief systems only “work” when everything is going smoothly. I sort of start with the 2 premises that “change happens” and “things are the way they are” and then attempt to function and adapt from there.

    Hehehe. Indeed, one would hope that dinosaur descendants would’ve learned a few things by now. Good one!


  17. Hi Chris,

    I have yet to try hilling up the corn. Perhaps I will try it next year. The cornstalks did turn back up after the big wind in July, but we just received another big wind yesterday after I wrote to you, which has pushed down some more stalks. But anyone in the Midwest has to deal with the likelihood of winds strong enough to lodge corn and other crops every growing season.

    My corn makes the external roots; they are called prop roots. I wish they did a better job of actually propping the plants up. Corn is a heavy feeder, but the young soil here can take that, and it is the grain crop most suited to my climate, besides being the easiest grain to process on a backyard scale.

    Margaret had even worse windiness yesterday than I did. Hope all is well at her place.


  18. @ Claire – I’m sorry to hear about your trials and tribulations. This too shall pass. Lew

  19. Yo, Chris – I think I read that the virus has mutated 7 times, since landing on our shores. Makes for an interesting, general ability, to track the movement of the virus.

    Health outcomes are worse, here. Due to our “health care” system. People avoid the system, hospitals and doctors, as, it’s going to hit your bank account, big time. I also think number of cases, and deaths are under reported. And, every State (and, sometimes within States) gathers statistics in a slightly different manner. Don’t know if you heard, but, statistics are not to be sent to the CDC, anymore, but to the White House. They set up a website, and, of course, it doesn’t work very well. Testing, is also a mess.

    I think quit a few young students, and their families, are doing some serious reassessment of their educational options. We’ll see how that all shakes out.

    How did the Romans handle big rocks? Slaves. Lots of slaves. 🙂 . And, the old tried and true. Drill holes, fill with water, wait for a good freeze. Or, wood wedges, driven in, wetted down so they expand, and …. crack! They probably had a few other tricks up their sleeves.

    LOL. I don’t think you’ll ever be creatively bankrupt. On reflection, I shouldn’t have dinged you about the repeated story. There are probably lurkers on your blog, that come and go. And haven’t been regaled with the tale, yet. Oh, I had some ups and downs with a few fellow students, in my day. But, I’d rather not revisit that bit of past.

    Building wastage. Of course, some of the wastage is sold on 🙂 . I must admit I was chuffed when I built a 185′ fence. Actually, I didn’t build it. I subcontracted the cutting of the wood, to my measurements. Then subcontracted the building to a small group of carpenters who wanted to pick up a bit of off the books jingle, over a weekend. I was chuffed, because when all was said and done, there was just a tiny pile of wood scraps.

    You might have to explain more about “built environment reflects our culture.” If I get the gist of it, if I look at most of the stuff being built, now, it reflects very, very badly.

    That sounds like a very cool hat rack. Especially the hooks. There are some amazing hooks and handles, out there.

    Yup. The blueberries are bagged up, and in the freezer. I’ll probably pick another gallon, tomorrow.

    “Victoria. A good place to be (from)? 🙂

    That was quit an article about the atmospheric rivers. I hope they don’t converge over Melbourne. I see they gave a nod to our atmospheric rivers (aka Pineapple Express) but said they went to California. They missed that they also go to Oregon and Washington, but then, we’re kind of low profile 🙂 . I hope Margaret is all right. There’s some pretty spectacular footage, and radar, of a huge derecho that’s sweeping across the midwest, and, headed for Chicago. A long line storm (can have a front of 100 miles or more) with winds topping 100mph. Chicago has enough problems, right now. Riots and looting, night before last.

    Some of the sidebars to that article, were interesting. Down the rabbit hole. Bilbies being reestablished in NSW. They are soooo cute. But, I think I just settle for a stuffed toy. There was also an article about birds in Australia. You’ve been holding out, on me! Tiny, brilliantly blue birds. I looked them up, and I think they’re some kind of fairy wren. I want a cage full! And, I see the Principality of Hutt River has come to an end. How sad. The world needs a bit of that kind of mad eccentricity.

    Just for giggles, you ought to check into “cottagecore.” Apparently, there’s all kinds of “cores” going around, right now. Comes from the word “hardcore.” But cottagecore seems to be a fantasy of country living. Without any of the dirt, or hard work 🙂 . Lew

  20. @Claire

    So sorry to hear about your mother. At least now most people can have one visitor.

    You are right- we had really nasty weather here yesterday. All ok but no power.


  21. Hi Chris,

    As Claire and Lew said we did have really nasty weather here yesterday. The last derecho we experienced was in 2009 and we were without power for 3 days. No damage for us except some plants knocked over but no power. The estimate is it will be restored by August 15th at 5 pm. However I’ve heard that’s the estimate for all of Illinois so in other words they don’t know. Family in Chicago said many cars were destroyed by falling trees. Doug was 45 minutes away at a doctor who was doing a procedure on his ear as he hasn’t been able to hear from that ear for two months. He was just finishing up when they had a tornado warning and ended up in the basement. The dogs and I were also in the basement. My aunt in Chicago was woken up the night before by shouting and then gunshots as she lives in the neighborhood with the worst looting. Her building was locked down.

    On a positive note we have a good, but loud generator which has kept our freezers and fridge going and also water. We can also charge phones and most importantly brew coffee. The weather which was oppressively humid has improved greatly and we got much needed rain – 3.5 inches in less than an hour

    My BIL’s restaurant also has no power and he’s throwing out food now.

    Your paths are amazing!!


  22. @ Inge – That’s a pretty interesting story, about the archaeological find up in south Scotland. Sounds like they took out a huge block of dirt, and are going to tease it apart, back in the lab. It will be interesting to see what they find, besides the already fascinating things. Lew

  23. Hello again
    You are correct, the smaller the tomato the better the taste. Son says that he slices the giant ones, fries gently, plenty of black pepper and eat on toast.


  24. Hi DJ,

    That makes sense about the efficiency of a full freezer versus a mostly empty freezer, and yeah it is the same matter writ small. Hey, I’ve long had an interest in housing and our societies preferences for heavy cladding has often baffled me in very hot climates. When I lived in the big smoke the house had outer walls that were constructed of double brick. Now a brick is 230mm in length (ask me how I know that…) and so two bricks together plus solid plaster rendering can result in a wall about 480mm thick and four bricks are nearing almost a metre thick. Now when that baby heats up over summer, it sure does take a lot of cooler ambient air temperatures for the thermal mass in the walls to reduce to a more comfortable level – the walls radiate heat inside a house. But all the same the societal preference stays the same. Beats me. And I have no idea about housing stock in your part of the world.

    During really hot weather we leave all of the windows and doors open at night letting the cooler air inside. I can sleep soundly knowing that a very large dog is at hand and there are also heavy duty stainless steel mesh shutters over the openings. Not sure I’d sleep that well if those two measures weren’t in place.

    Ollie earned his feed today as he saw off a herd of a dozen deer which coincidentally looked like the herd in this week’s photograph. Fortunately a camera was ready to hand on the occasion and he can be seen swinging into action.

    Mark Twain loved his dogs and dog encounters. He was an intelligent and astute observer of the human and canine condition! 🙂

    No worries at all. For some reason in the West we’ve developed a belief that our culture is the one and only true choice. It is a risky approach, and you may also have heard such talk before. It was my travels in India that really alerted me to how drab and dull our built environment is and also how out of scale it is. It was actually quite shocking to my senses to have returned and recognised the lack of colour and attention to form.

    Mate, we are in for a period of time which suggests much hurt. It needn’t have been this way, but how else do we as a society get from A to B? Maybe earlier last year, I wrote a blog and mentioned an article with people who purportedly enjoying six figure incomes from investments whilst at the same time claiming that they were pensioners. It was an astounding claim, but there it was in the flesh and what can’t be sustained won’t be, and so here we are today. The article made me feel sad for the lack of empathy displayed and also the certain knowledge that things would go badly for them. And so here we are today. Could they have learned and adapted? Maybe, but the choices we all made got us to where we are today. The road to perdition is a well trod path.

    Hehe! The chickens sometimes look at us mammals with a knowing eye. They wait but a brief moment assessing the scene before them. And then they descend like ravening saurian’s on a nest of baby mice. Mate, the precision, well it’s clinical.



  25. Hi Claire,


    I trialled mounding the soil around the corn stems which had lodged in the occasional winds whilst bringing them back to a vertical orientation last year and it seemed to work. I have wondered whether the seeds were not planted deeply enough in the first place for the particular variety? But I don’t really know.

    About maybe two years ago I read a book by the now deceased author Gene Logsdon and he mentioned that in really arid areas of your continent, the local indigenous folks planted corn seeds at depths that made me quail in fear for them ever germinating. You never know, he might have been onto something and it seems odd to me that we would have varieties which easily lodge in the wind. Mind you, how much breeding efforts go into open pollinated plants these days.

    You are very fortunate to have young soils. The continent here is old and worn down by the ages. This mountain range was apparently formed something like 500+ million years in the past (you wouldn’t have wanted to be anywhere near there during those days). There is an area to the west of the mountain range which reputedly has some of the youngest soils in the continent and potatoes are heavily grown there and I look upon their summer green growth, green with envy! Nah, not really, but the crops in that part of the continent do really well and it is always slightly cooler and wetter than here.

    For your interest I’m planning on planting a far greater diversity of plants this summer. Hopefully the greenhouse gets constructed soon. And I cannot thank you enough for your most excellent recommendation of the Rodale seed raising book which I have read from cover to cover. Now the theory needs to get put into practice.

    Thank you and you have my sympathy and best wishes.


  26. Hi Margaret,

    Glad to hear that you are all in one piece after the derecho! 3.5 inches of rain in an hour is a frightening amount of rain and it tests every single system. Oh, that’s not good about the power restoration, but it is a complicated system and there are a lot of above ground wires which can be easily taken out by falling trees. Sorry to hear that Doug was not at hand for the storm, but then having hearing restored is important too – what do you do? I’ve experienced a direct hit by a small tornado on a Christmas day a few years back and it produced a similar amount of rain (dunno about the winds) and I was grateful the property didn’t get washed down the hill…

    You’re lucky to have houses with basements where you can shelter from such storms. Hope Leo and Salve weren’t too distressed and Doug made it back safely? That sort of weather would have made Dame Scritchy, Storm Detective roll in her grave.

    It is very hard for me to understand how a city as big as Chicago can have gunshots and looting in the street without a massive crackdown by the authorities. History suggests to me that eventually the residents will welcome the military (and spurn the local forces) with open arms if only to restore order. Mind you, I was stopped and questioned at a friendly (and I mean that word literally) military / police checkpoint today. Had a nice chat with some guy who had the word ‘Navy’ emblazoned on his jacket and we made jokes about drawing the short straw for a roster during snow and other extreme weather which look set to arrive from tomorrow night.

    I’m watching your BIL’s story play out down here, except that many establishments still have electricity for their refrigerators. Disposing of otherwise good food is a sheer waste.

    Thank you!

    Now, you may notify Salve and Leo that the bar has been raised and Ollie chased off a herd of a dozen deer today single pawedly. And the camera was near to hand. More on that story later.

    It seems kind of pointless asking whether the power is back on? I had to run the generator again this morning because of thick cloud and ailing batteries…



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Of course that makes sense as such viruses can mutate and change and become more or less virulent with each adaption. Of course the virus has to contend with not being the only player in town and everything around it can respond in differing ways. That doesn’t rule out big body counts, it is just how life rolls and few if actually anything gets to operate in a vacuum, although us humans tend to look for simple answers to complicated problems and situations.

    But exactly, the department which produces the statistics here has every reason to talk up the story for all sorts of reasons and so I suspect that what we’re seeing is fairly accurate of the picture going on here. And it is very possible that the health outcomes in your country reflects the general level of health and also the environment that us humans live in. I’d heard that story about the statistics in your country, but I can’t know the truth of any of that and so can’t make any sensible comment about the story.

    An education can be sought for its own sake, but if big dollars are involved and pockets are not deep, then the awful reality of ‘return on investment’ needs to be considered. Awful huh? Anyway, I’m old enough to have known the occasional much older (and now retired) accountants who earned their stripes by way of an apprenticeship path. I recall one such person telling me that all they had to do to join the professional body and achieve certification was to pay a $50 application fee. I couldn’t believe it as to get the same professional certification I had to complete a degree (with certain subjects), do another five subjects and earn three years actual experience at a certain professional level. It seems like most of my adult life the people ahead of me have been chucking hoops in front of me to jump through. Not sure how I feel about that experience.

    The Universities appear to have over played their hands and ‘shaking out’ is a great way to watch just how that story will eventuate.

    Ah, the methods I use for breaking rocks are not that dissimilar – however without the human slaves. I use electrical slaves (rotary hammer drill and jackhammer) which can speed up the process a fair bit but are still hard work. It may interest you but I notice that even without my efforts the exposed rocks eventually split. The plants always seek a toe hold in the rich minerals – which further breaks up the rocks.

    Speaking of rocks did you see the reporting on some robot which has been sent to CERES? A most unpleasant looking world-let or mini-world.

    Hehe! Funny stuff. I have a well filled bag of funny comments which help defuse comments such as ‘did you just repeat yourself’? That’s what you saw there. 🙂 As an old duffer the comments are really handy to have ready to hand. Nah, I don’t mind at all, it is all water off a ducks back. I’m actually a bit of a smarty pants in an as the kids say ‘real life’ scenario (whatever that is) and I don’t mind chucking in a funny quip in the middle of a conversation as it usually gets people thinking. Although some folks don’t appreciate such comments, and I temper myself when communicating with them.

    There are plenty of lurkers I can assure you. When it comes to commenting I reckon the number is somewhere in the order of around 500 to a 1,000 readers per person who comments. As a joke I could shake them all out of the woodwork by suddenly announcing that the blog was to end suddenly. But that would be tiresome for me. I note a lot of people in your fine country are rather depressed at the moment and appear to have given up the regular writing. They need to get over it. They mourn for what was lost, instead of working towards what could yet be achieved. I write purely for the people who comment and maintain a dialogue, the rest might as well be numbers.

    All true about the wastage and I may have mentioned to you that with this house we scored almost five tonnes of fire rated plaster that was being thrown out from a commercial construction site. The scale of wastage boggled my mind.

    Hey, it is good stuff to employ local tradies to do such work as your fence. And chuffed is the right way to describe such careful and frugal use of materials. I often suspect that the waste is a story of carelessness – a lot of pollution occurs because of that story.

    It does reflect very badly. As an explanation I had the shocking insight after having travelled in Nepal and India for several weeks. I’d become accustomed to the sights, sounds and colour – but also the human oriented scale of most of the built environment in those countries. And upon returning to Melbourne, the built environment looked very odd and in some ways quite bland. At the time we lived in an old inner urban Victorian era working class suburb with small mostly timber houses. At least the old suburb was walkable, and the editor and I used to walk the dogs at night and it was so extraordinarily quiet that it shocked my senses due to the contrast.

    Have hats, will need to store them. It is quite hot wearing a woollen hat and a mask due to the health subject which dare not be named. And somehow, and maybe it has something to do with how I’m wired, but my field of perception becomes much smaller when I have the mask on. Dunno as it is hardly as if the mask obscures my eyes. Had a nice chat and a few chuckles about scoring rosters on extreme weather days with some navy folks working at the police / military checkpoint today. The few folks venturing into such places have to carry valid papers and ID.

    Top work with the blueberries in the freezer. How is the rest of the garden producing? I ate the last of the kiwi fruit this morning. Yum! But sadly now all gone. Onto the mandarins which look like they’ve just come into ripeness.

    Hehe! Like it with the saying, but for some reason the other states seem to want to have us lot all contained neatly within our borders. This thing is just out there. Rumour has it that the New Zealand infection may have arrived by way of cold stored foodstuffs imported into the country.

    The atmospheric river story is going from mildly alarming to something more than that state of alert. Word on the street is that one of the atmospheric rivers might produce another east coast low early next week. You may have recalled the recent stories of coastal erosion, well such low pressure systems tend to drive such oceanic forces. Anyway, all I know is that from Thursday night for about a week, things will be wet outside the door.

    Yes, your Pineapple Express was mentioned with respect (they clearly saw the movie), although I knew that they influenced Oregon and Washington states having learned much about your geology and climate over the years. Hey, as the atmospheric rivers begin near to areas of the continent where they grow bananas, maybe they could be so named down here as the: Banana Express?

    Why hasn’t the military intervened in the rioting and looting in Chicago? How does the national guard think they will foot their pays and equipment if the cities tax bases get eroded by rioting and looting? Seems like common sense to me.

    Sorry, of course the blue Fairy Wrens do live here on the farm. The lack of photographs is due to the sheer fact that they’re seriously fast and bounce through the vegetation eating the many bugs that feast upon the vegetables. If you were a bird that size, you’d be pretty light on your toes too and keep moving lest you become a snack for a much larger bird. 🙂

    Who knew about the tiny micronation of Hutt River? And looking at the article I noticed that there was talk of King Island residents wanting to join Victoria and secede from the island state of Tasmania. Not sure that they’d want that choice right now.

    I quite like the sound of cottagecore, but I do rather have difficulties with the demands these folks are placing on flour supplies! Hehe! Just kidding, it is good to see people baking bread and doing other basic stuff. I noticed the Fight Club characters were into cottagecore and they were particularly good at soap making for fun and profit!

    Dirt, well there sure is a lot of dirt in them thar hills!



  28. Hi Inge,

    Yes, the smaller tomatoes being better tasting has been my experience too. Plus we have the risk that some summers (like the most recent summer) was just not warm enough and long enough for tomatoes to grow properly, let alone large tomatoes. The harvest was only one fifth of what we we’d usually expect. It was a bit of a worry and is one of the reasons behind the greenhouse project.

    The most excellent author Bill Bryson (you may have heard of him) mentioned the English preference for frying tomatoes. 🙂 The cheeky scamp was most rude about the preference.

    I enjoy consuming tomatoes either fresh, dehydrated and/or in passata.

    How do you normally enjoy consuming tomatoes?



  29. @ Margaret – I’m glad you weathered the storm with no damage and hope you have electricity restored before too long. It’s good you have the generator for keeping enough electricity going to the essential appliances so you can keep all your food in good condition and have your coffee too. Our wind was due to a front passing through rather than a derecho, but there was more wind and rain with it than usual. We lost electricity while we were eating dinner, around 6pm on the 10th. We were told it would be restored by 1pm on the 13th, but in fact it was restored only about 10 hours later. No need to buy ice (we don’t have a generator).

    @ all – I appreciate the expressions of care and concern.


  30. Yo, Chris – Well, if our numbers are a bit high or low, it’s still a bad situation. We had 7 more cases, yesterday, in county. And, another death. Quit awhile since we had one of those. I was talking to one of the Ladies, and she’s saying, “Well, I only go to my daughters.” So, I asked her, who her daughter, son-in-law and grandkids see. Do those people mask up and wash their hands? She does like her shopping expeditions, to Wally-world.

    Well, as I’ve mentioned before, a lot of careers “professionalized” in order to try and gain the same status and respect as other professions. Cheered on by government and “learning” institutions with their hands out. Professional organizations looked at other professional organizations, and copied them.

    Well, yeah, you can wait a couple of hundred years for the plants to do their thing, with the rocks. Or, a few hundred good freeze and thaw cycles. See, that’s your problem. Just too impatient 🙂 . I watched a bit of a documentary on the Minoans, last night. They had footage at one of their rock quarries, where you could still see the groves from cutting rock with large bronze saws. Circa 1500 BCE.

    I think I saw a headline that Ceres is an ocean planet. But are there any beach front properties? I don’t know. I mean, space exploration is cool, and all, but spending all that treasure exploring places that will never be of use?

    It’s always such a downer, when a quip is wasted on a humorless person. You will find as you grow older, that quips are also lost on younger people, as the cultural references get fewer and fewer. Peak quips?

    Yup. There is a sameness to the look of western civilization. Although, every once in awhile, I’ll see some film or picture of an interior, and know that it’s someplace “foreign.” The wall colors are slightly “off” and the furnishings don’t quit look … right. Paint your house some bright, vibrant color, and you’ll be the talk of the valley.

    So, what’s my garden producing, right about now. Not much. I mean, I’m pulling out quit a bit of garlic. But everything else is green and growing. So, I harvest blueberries and keep an eye on everything else. I did get one small, yellow cherry tomato (from a volunteer), the other day. Tasty. Gotta get some cold weather crops in, by the end of the week.

    Yes, I’m following the mystery in New Zealand. I read about frozen food being the possible culprit. Oh, no! Is the ice cream supply, in danger? 🙂 .

    Banana Express sounds like a fine name for your atmospheric rivers. Better copyright it, quick!

    I went to one of the cheap food stores, this morning. Hadn’t been in about a month. In general, it seems like the prices are way up, on what I consider “quality” items. Purely subjective on my part. There are no canned diced tomatoes, to be had. They’ve also disappeared from our Magic Food Boxes. I did find some garbanzo beans, still cheap. Those have also disappeared from our boxes. Plenty of other kinds of beans, but, I like the garbanzos. I picked up a few bottles of lemon juice. That comes in handy when I dry or freeze apples and bananas, to keep them from turning brown. Also found some old fashioned rolled oats. But the big score was two 5 pound bags of Bob’s Red Mill, all purpose flour. Price is up a bit on those, even at the cheap food store, but not enough to put me off. As I was with a bottle of Turmeric. Now, I never see that, there. They have a lot of other spices, and, sometimes I can find a good brand, relatively cheap. But they wanted $6 for that one, lone, small bottle of Turmeric. Mmmm. No. Lew

  31. Hi Margaret,

    Apologies, I forgot to mention that kudos is due to you for having a supply of coffee ready to hand, and also being able produce a cup during such extraordinary weather. Ah, the finest things in life are usually the small pleasures. 🙂



  32. Hello again
    Strange, I don’t think that I have ever fried tomatoes. I pick and eat the tiny ones as I walk past. Friends have asked whether they may do the same. I eat them endlessly for months in salads The major cooking is to make and then freeze bolognaise sauce. Son makes lots of passata. I suppose that they get chucked into some kinds of stews.
    Weather still quite insane here. The forecast prates endlessly about storms and floods. Bring it on. We haven’t seen a drop pf water.


  33. Hi, Chris!

    I think that the authorities might be little sanguine with their sign of “You MUST stay home” (emphasis mine). I am, however, most sympathetic for you and the editor being caught up in that.

    That was so cold – inside and out. We had our generator out last week as we caught the tail end of a hurricane. Mains power was out for 2 days, which is not so bad for our area. When the power company guys first showed up on our road my husband took them over to where the line was down (a large tulip poplar had fallen on it). They never seem to be able to find these lines. I thought there was some sort techie computer map thingee, like the Enterprise would have had, to show them at headquarters where the problems are. And we do have smart meters . . .

    In other poplar news, two poplars – one medium and one fairly large – exploded in the storm. They didn’t just break, they blew up. There was a great deal of lightning at the time and I can only figure that lightning hit the ground and came back up through each tree, boiling the water inside (poplars are full of water) and thus the outcome we had. There were no burn marks. There are certain spots on our property that attract lightning more than others.

    That is a very good view of the soil bridge. I am so impressed and want one of my own.

    That is the sweetest photo of you and Ollie on the widened path. Two good mates!

    Isn’t it nice to have such wonderful, moving, color as the parrots bring in cold weather? We have cardinals for that.

    I wish that I could buy a couple of silver wattles; don’t know if that’s possible. It might even be a bad idea here. But maybe our deer wouldn’t eat them. Which is not saying that your deer do, it’s just that our deer never seem to eat new species at first.

    The last crop that I planted this summer was cucumbers, way later than usual. My cucumber vines now have lots of little cantaloupes on them. Yeah, I picked up the wrong clear plastic bag of seeds; cucumber and cantaloupe seeds look an awful lot alike, and both start with C. The question is: Is it too late in the season for them to mature? By September 1 the sun will be mostly leaving our garden in the forest on the north slope.

    I may be at 42 . . .


  34. Chris:

    Blimey! There are no spaces in my comment. There was in the original. Kind of hard on the eyes and no so coherent.


  35. @ Claire:

    I am so sorry that your mother is having such trouble. My elderly parents are far away, too, and it is so hard not to be there for them.


  36. Hi Lewis,

    Absolutely, life is complicated enough without having further complications added onto the steaming morass such as the current health crisis which dare not be named. Incidentally the last time I encountered the person whom I mentioned in this week’s story he may have said that his life was ‘complicated’. I noted that he had flown half way around the world with a young baby. Spare a thought for the other folks on that flight as that may have been a flight-mare.

    A mate who recently moved to New Zealand once had to fly from Europe to Down Under for work and a couple seated in the Premium Economy section of the plane left their child unattended in the Economy section. It was my mate who alerted me to the term: Flight-mare. And his work flew him back over the weekend and expected him to be at work Monday morning. A true dog act, although that may bring into question the delightfulness and upstanding nature of dogs. H would most certainly give a resoundingly solid bite to anyone suggesting such nonsense.

    The loss of flying is not something that bothers me as I didn’t much enjoy the experience and the skies are blissfully quiet these days. On a red-eye special flight for work a long time ago a young lady sat next to me with her young child sitting on her lap. The kid was very bored and restless and kept wanting to run around the aisle (climbing over me at the same time). After about four or maybe five times in quick succession, I turned to both of them and said firmly: That’s enough of that. Some people just want to hear the magic word spoken: No.

    How are the supply lines going for Wally World? As an amusing side story I was in the local supermarket the other morning with the editor and noticed a raft of empty shelves in the refrigerated section. I unsubtly nudged the editor and brought her attention to the empty shelves. Wouldn’t you just know it, but right behind me was one of the store owners and reading the situation he apologised and said that the refrigeration mechanism was being serviced and that the shelves would be stocked soon once the work was done. The shop is an independent store.

    Mate, I became a bit dubious about the word ‘professional’ the day I saw it utilised on the side of a cleaners van. It was a big call after all, and who knows, maybe the folks cleaned up crime scenes or something like that and required a level of professionalism? Some of my required course work which allows me to wave around professional status spent a bit of time on discussing just what was meant by that particular word. It always sounded to me like a justification.

    Speaking of which: University changes would see students who fail classes risk losing access to HECS loans. Honestly, from my perspective the changes are doing folks a favour and stopping them from getting into further student loan debt (HECS or also known as HELP). I know quite a number of people who have begun courses and not finished them. That road is possibly not for them and I approve of having the option cut out from under them as the public pays and the institutions benefit from the practice. If the path is not for them, it is not for them – did you note the example in the article and the epic size of the debt?

    Anyway, people forget where their food comes from: Peak horticulture industry bodies, farmers, workers quash union call to axe working holiday visa.

    Having just written that today we moved rocks, dug soil and placed the locally quarried crushed rock with lime over path surfaces. But being able to get up and do the same tomorrow is not something that my fellow citizens might be able to do.

    Yes, it is true I am impatient and nature has to get a bit of a wriggle on and break up some of the large rocks into smaller rocks. Mind you today we moved some epic sized rocks and just dealt with them as they were. The path up above the house is nearing usability.

    I’d never heard of the Minoans before your reference. My gut feeling suggests a demise due to exceeding carrying capacity of the small area which they lived in. A minor note that: “An intensification of agricultural activity is indicated by the construction of terraces and dams at Pseira in the Late Minoan period. Well, the minor note sure did capture my attention. Not sure why? 😉

    I’m with you about the space exploration. But I tend to believe that we should get things right down here on the surface before we go poking about other parts of the solar system. We’ll never go interstellar.

    Well you can have witty quips just waiting to be hauled out to good effect – and they fall flat on an unimpressed audience. It is a brutal confrontation, and then the other folks have the upper hand whilst you sort of feel deflated. Possibly it may be that the other folks have nothing of their own to say and you and I possibly gave them too much credit in the first place? You never know and it sounds like a good theory.

    I have one witty quip up my sleeve which the editor has forbade me to use. So I’m waiting for some smarty pants driving a way oversized vehicle to make a smarmy comment about the Dirt Mouse or Dirt Rat Suzuki’s. At that point, I’ll say: I don’t need a big car to make my …. feel big – and then watch the sparks fly. The editor feels that this will end up in a physical altercation and so I should not say it. But sometimes a good line just needs airing! Although the editor may be right in this case.

    Speaking about bright house painting, the local council appears to have forced me to paint the house these colours – whilst pretending I had a choice. I had to submit the colours to the local council as part of the permit, and my idea for a shiny and reflective galvanised steel roof was stopped. Shiny roofs reflect more of the suns energy away from the house. Nope, a dark grey roof appeased everybody else…

    Good to hear about the garlic, and am I correct in assuming that you’ll replant some of the cloves? Hmm! Yummo! Yellow cherry tomatoes often have the best flavour.

    Well possibly ice cream could be a potential vector? What a sad loss. Imagine if tiramisu was a vector? The outrage. They do a lot of dairy over the pond on those two islands. They also apparently import a lot of food from you know where, and also export much food back there. Some food stuffs here sneak in from you know where via way of our friends across the pond. All apparently neatly relabelled. But yeah, I’m watching that story too and have heard from people on the ground over there. Loose talk suggests that some rural areas down here will go into a more severe lock down soon. I’m doing OK for supplies although I really would like the replacement batteries to turn up soon.

    Hehe! Banana express it is!!!!

    Well yeah, we had a shocking tomato season down here last summer. The worst that I can recall, and tomato products are still on the shelves so they must be coming from somewhere. Hadn’t looked too closely at the prices, but some items have gone up quite a bit. Garbanzo beans are a favourite of mine and we have been growing them for years. Super hardy and rarely require any additional watering. The Bob’s Red Mill flour score was a score I too would be chuffed with. And 5 pounds by two can produce a lot of loaves – and Anzac biscuits or muffins. You probably can’t grow Turmeric in your part of the world. The tubers are sold down here for vegie patches but I don’t really know and have lost a few tubers over the years although common wisdom suggests they’ll grow OK here. It is a delightful flavouring though and really good with rice. Yum!



  37. Hi Inge,

    Frying tomatoes is not something that I would normally do in the kitchen either, although the author Mr Bryson wrote memorably about the subject when in your lovely country. I’ve often wondered whether the author was in a bad place when he wrote one book on your country if only beause he was doing his best to find fault, whilst trying to be amusing. His family wished to move to the US if I recall correctly.

    Making the pasta sauce upfront is a great idea (I’m assuming you deep freeze the sauce?), and like your son we also make passata (when we have enough free supply of tomatoes). It is a good addition in the kitchen. We’ve also made tomato wine, and it is an excellent accompaniment to dishes with a tomato base.

    Not sure about your part of the world, but I have had some very hot and dry summers and during those days watched storms scoot on past and just tantalisingly out of reach. I hear you.

    Moved a number of very large rocks today and continued work on the path up above the house. Heavy rain put an end to today’s work but it was after 5pm and so what was done, was what was done – and no more than that. 🙂



  38. Hi Pam,

    How are things going in your part of the world?

    Sanguine is a good way to describe the situation. There have been rumours and allegations flying around about just what went on during one of the hotel quarantines. All a bit naughty really. But the streets actually are much quieter and some people are staying home and others aren’t. It is a mixed bag and the threat of large fines is constantly mentioned with of course willing participants in that particular fine story.

    Thanks, and it might just be that the entire state gets put into more onerous lock down soon. Unhappy face emoji.

    Did you score much rain from the tail end of the Hurricane (and yeah, sometimes it is nice to be at a distance from the coast). Between you and I, I always had the impression that the engineers on the Enterprise weren’t always up to scratch – why else would things occasionally go so wrong? 😉 Hey, Poplars can get massive and multi-trunked and there is always the chance that one of the trunks will fall onto an electricity line.

    Oh wow! We’ve had some close lightning strikes here (inductance from a close strike on the neighbours property boundary once blew up a modem as we have high gain antennas on the roof). The strike went through the tree though first hitting the highest point. I have never seen an exploding tree, but yeah the facts would speak for themselves in that case – and glad that nobody was anywhere near the tree when it happened. As a kid I was always warned not to seek shelter from rain under a tree when lightning threatened.

    Well yes, the dump truck could move the excavated soil for your soil bridge. They do work although I would leave the soil bridge for a while so it can compact before driving a dump truck on it. Moved a number of very large rocks today as we worked on the large rocks walls on the old soil bridge.

    Thank you. Ollie has such a sweet and pleasant personality, and the other day he chased off a dozen deer (photo evidence too). The funny thing about him, he looks a bit like the Gargoyle don’t you reckon? It’s a bit uncanny. Right down to the toothy bits, although he is a fluffy.

    Your cardinals are lovely looking birds. 🙂

    I’m pretty certain that the Silver Wattles would be highly invasive – and wow do they grow fast or what? It is sometimes known elsewhere as ‘mimosa’ and the extracts of the flowers were once used in perfume – they do smell nice. Acacia dealbata is the Latin nomenclature.

    Hehe! That’s funny – and possibly something that I would also do. Don’t laugh but I am giving serious thought as to how to identify all of the seedlings when they are in the yet to be constructed greenhouse.

    My gut feeling says yes there is no hope for the melons as the season is too short now. Even the earliest need at least maybe 10 to 12 weeks for the Siberian varieties. The last of our melon seed saving and plant breeding efforts disappeared that way last year and tantalisingly produced vines but no fruit. Then the efforts came to naught. It was all very sad, but I have replaced the seeds with similar open pollinated varieties.

    Well done, my stocks of the most important collectible item are not so great, and maybe even under a dozen rolls. Top work and we live in fear!



  39. @ Lew,

    It seems I forgot to mention the pyrography book you bought. Thanks for the recommendation. I’ll keep my eye out for a copy..


  40. @ Inge & Chris – Fried green tomatoes, are a big thing, in some parts of the States. Particularly, the South. “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe.” Book and movie. Lew

  41. Chris,

    How large is a brick? Ohhh, some of us actually know that one! A classic “Fermi problem”, a class of real world “problems” named in honor of physicist Enrico Fermi, involves bricks. The version I was taught: Assume that the Sears Tower in Chicago was made of bricks. No windows. How many bricks would it take to build it? The purpose is to teach the student to determine all the variables in the system – the Sears Tower and bricks – so that a reasonable approximation can be found. The problem solving skills and thought process are what’s important. So of course immediately after the thing was discussed in class, I ran out and found out the dimensions of the typical brick, as well as the width of mortar placed between bricks.

    I’m also working on the brick patio and am having to place a few more bricks into a few areas. It’s an interesting real-world geometric problem to place these, especially as the bricks are rectangular and they have to abut some circular concrete footings! But brick knowledge is priceless.

    Good on Ollie chasing the deer herd. That’s his job, and it must be gratifying that he’s learning the job.

    Yes, there are some excitingly grand things from many cultures. Art, poetry, music, architecture, ideas, etc… Western architecture has become so *angular* and tasteless that everything reminds me of a prison or a factory. It doesn’t have to be that way.

    I’ve heard much the same on my job: “We’re fixed income retired people!” Yet I look at their property values and find that they recently purchased what I consider to be a mansion or a palace, and I wonder…

    A sharp shinned hawk sat in our crabapple tree this morning. I was waiting for the coffee to brew, so enjoyed the time watching the hawk through the kitchen window. I knew something was up, as the birds all got quiet and the squirrel disappeared shortly before the hawk’s arrival. Hawk flew away almost precisely when the coffee was ready.

    The heat returns tomorrow. 35C to 40C temperatures for a few days. +8C this morning, so I’ve been enjoying the cool.

    Break’s over, back to work…


  42. Yo, Chris – Years ago, there was an article in Harper’s Magazine, about a couple who dragged a small, wailing child, by boat, train and plane, through every museum and restaurant in Europe. They thought the irritation of people around them, was amusing. Well. The push back in the letters to the editor, the next month was epic. Some restaurants here, have a “no children under 12” rule. Sometimes, there’s push back. But, overwhelmingly, the support is in the other direction. People want to eat their meals, in peace. When I worked at the cafe, in Centralia (which had very limited seating, and was a bit cramped), the owner discouraged children by not having “booster seats” or high chairs. Worked, most of the time.

    Well, I never go to Wally-World, so, I really don’t know. I hear there are gaps, but the stories never go so far as to describe what they are. I ventured into the canned veg and fruit aisle, at Safeway, the other night. I really wanted to see what the situation was, as far as diced tomatoes go. Well, I found some, at not a bad price. But, I notice there were many gaps, here and there, along that aisle.

    Refrigeration units in stores and restaurants seem to go on the fritz, with great regularity. Now there’s an occupation young folks could get into, that might provide a pretty good living. At least until we go another couple of steps, down the decline.

    Mr. Greer seems to think that the some of the professional classes, middle managers and layers of bureaucracy are on their way out. Can’t happen too soon. It’s all an artificial construct, that really only works in good times. As an aside, I saw an article about Studs Terkel’s book, “Hard Times.” It’s an oral history of the Great Depression. It’s the 50th anniversary of the publication. You might look into Mr. Terkel. Interesting bloke.

    What the heck? 🙂 . Student loans are a very fraught topic, here. It’s one of the few debts that can’t be discharged by bankruptcy. There were a lot of “diploma mills”, for awhile. Though they are regulating them a bit more strictly. They provided little or no training, and, didn’t deliver on a promised job, at the other end. Our current Fearless Leader ran one that was pretty dodgy. The only thing they were good at was helping the student apply for student loans. What’s really sad is that a lot of them offered training in the trades. Back in my day, it was pretty easy to keep students at their desks and beavering away. As the Viet Nam War and military draft was hanging over their heads. The fellows, that is. Loose your student military deferment, and you were quickly whisked away to foreign lands, with insalubrious climes. But, your right. Some people shouldn’t even attempt a university career.

    We have the same problems, here, getting the crops in. We’ve talked before, about when I was a wee small lad, summers were spent harvesting produce. For a bit of jingle or even mad cash. Buses would show up at the local school, well before dawn, and haul hundreds of us out to the fields. I don’t know what happened. Maybe it was a liability problem?

    Oh, sure you know the Minoans. Theseus and the minotaur. Icarus falling out of the sky. The labyrinth. Atlantis. 🙂 . Bull dancers. They’re pretty sure now that the Atlantis legend came from the blow up of Thera (Santorini), which was about 100 miles north of Crete. It was a large Minoan outpost. The resulting tsunamis devastated the northern coast of Crete (and, other shores around the Med) and destroyed their shipping and military fleets. Never passing up a good opportunity, the barbaric Greek Mycenaeans swept in and picked over the pieces. At least that’s one of the theories.

    Well, when confronted by an oversized vehicle, you don’t have to say anything. Just hold our thumb and forefinger, about an inch apart, and wave it in their general direction. But, that will probably also lead to a physical altercation. 🙂 .

    So, any reason given for you not being able to have a galvanized roof? Just another hoop to jump through? Dance, puppet, dance? 🙂

    Oh, I always replant garlic cloves. Yes, we’ve had problems, here, with stuff from “you know where” being shipped to a third country and relabeled. What we hear mostly about, is honey.

    I wanted to check out a few things about why the military wasn’t called into, Chicago. We have a bit of an odd relationship with our military. Unlike a lot of countries, it’s under civilian control. More or less. Skip down to “Domestic Law Enforcement.”

    You might also click on the link to “Posse Comitatus Act.”

    The state National Guards are funded part by State, part by Federal. I think I’ll leave it at that, as you may have more questions. But, basically, if the military does, or doesn’t do what you want it to (from an individuals point of view), it pretty much depends on which side of the political divide your on, and, who is sitting in the White House. Lew

  43. Hmmm. Pam had a problem with everything being run together, and when I posted, there are no paragraph breaks. Wonky. Also, the linkis not “live.” Lew

  44. @Claire
    We waited for some hours and then Doug took a drive around the area to assess the damage. When he saw the power lines taken out by a tree and heard about all the outages and damages around here we knew it would be awhile. It’s a bit of a process to hook everything up.


  45. Hi Chris,
    Well coffee was on the top of my list of priorities.
    Power returned yesterday afternoon almost exactly 48 hours after it went out. My BIL’s restaurant is still out along with many other people so I feel we were fortunate to get power restored as quick as we did.

    Right now the elderberries are coming in so I’ve spent much time stripping the berries from the stems and freezing. I’ve got 8 lbs so far more than enough for a batch of elderberry mead. There’s still quite a few still to ripen so there will be plenty for syrup too.


  46. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 Yes, the world can be going to the dogs, but a good coffee is a civilised enjoyment.

    Good to hear that the power was restored. Out of curiosity, did you run the generator for most of the days the power was out? Or only every now and then? Apologies for my curiosity, but the generator here has been hauled out a few times over the past month. The new batteries arrived this morning! Yay! But I’ll need some time and good weather to get them into the battery room.

    Elderberry syrup is a very wise winter pick-me-up for when freezing cold and overcast weather casts a pall over the day to day goings on. Have you ever tried making elder-flower wine? It is a fine tasting drop, although the kitchen stinks badly when the flowers are cooked up.

    Elderberries are super easy to propagate too as all you have to do is shove a hard wood cutting in the ground – and nature does the rest. I’ve been intending for a while to begin a hedgerow of elderberry plants, and then just add other plants as the time became available. You might have noticed, but there are plenty of projects yet to complete (and do) before we have too much infrastructure to maintain. Onto the path again tomorrow drilling and jackhammering the moby rock.

    Hope Doug’s hearing is now good.



  47. Hi DJ,

    The batteries turned up this morning. Well that is one less thing to worry about. Did you know that Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries have almost four times the energy density that lead provides? I hope the batteries stay working for the duration! They’re meant to have a long life, but you never know with this technology stuff – until it fails.

    Who knew that making a rough back of the envelope estimate even had a technical name, let alone calling the process something quite excellent such as a ‘Fermi problem’? I do that trick all of the time. I tell ya, the best ideas are usually other people’s ideas! 🙂 As I was reading your quest I thought to myself: Gawd, I hope the windows are deleted from the problem. Well that’s a relief. Then me being me, I was left wondering the question as to just how many layers of bricks would it take to produce such a building but of a level of structural soundness using bricks? Hehe! I’m assuming your professors intended only the single outer skin of the building? You see down here, most modern buildings have a single layer of cladding bricks. Older houses have two layers of bricks which form part of the structure, and the party walls between the last Victorian era terrace house we lived in had walls which were four layers thick (that’s almost a metre). There was not much noise transfer from one house to the next. And funnily enough the neighbours on both sides used to heat their houses, whilst we just enjoyed the heat output from the not insignificant thermal mass.

    So how did you go with the Sears Tower and bricks Fermi problem? Were you even close? And had someone actually computed an answer?

    In the old days the masons would have used a cold chisel with a very wide blade and just scored the bricks and then knocked off a section of the brick which would meet up with the round foundations. The results were usually very neat and mortar hides a multitude of sins.

    In some modern constructions I have noticed that pre-cast concrete panels have been somehow given fake brick outer layers. It is a dead giveaway because where the panels meet because sometimes the runs of bricks don’t line up properly. I do wonder how such panels will weather over time, but it ain’t my problem.

    Ollie is doing pretty well at his role. And he looked totally chuffed with himself that night. Hopefully the deer will learn that there are easier pickings in the area. The stags scratch the bark off the apple trees.

    Ah yes, it is a shame about the angular nature of the built environment these days, and I’m not a fan. You make an astute observation.

    Honestly, I’m not sure how it will all end up, but I do know that the strategy of living within your means works – for now. And large houses just mean larger maintenance and running costs. I personally would prefer a smaller house and a larger edible garden, but that is me. And it does make you wonder: Who are the people trying to impress? You’ll note that in this week’s blog I mentioned the classic car, and also the difficulties of owning such a beast. Well, really big houses are just like that problem, but biggerer!

    I’m not necessarily convinced that fixed income is a continuing possibility. Inflation for just one economic variable can undermine that particular story.

    Respect for preparing a coffee whilst watching the birds. 🙂 Far out, your weather is hot now. As a long term observation it looks as though a La Nina maybe going to establish itself and I saw what looked like The Blob on the sea surface temperature map up in the PNW.

    It was 8’C this evening and the editor and I enjoyed take away pizza, pasta and dark ale from the pub, outside in the cold! We’re used to that sort of weather now and it felt perfectly fine.



  48. Chris:

    How are things going here? Well, here on the farm things are fine, notwithstanding a small, sick, skinny bear that seems to want to join the squirrel squadron that we still feed because of Charlene the White Squirrel. Little Bear even climbed up 3 stories to look in my bedroom window while I was reading right by it and nearly scared the living daylights out of me. At the same time my son popped his head into my room and he was completely bald where he had had a full head of hair the night before when I went to bed. It seems he decided that it was time for a haircut and shaved it all off while I was asleep. So between bear and bald I was a little shaken.

    Son said that we should feed Little Bear. I said that if we do, we would then have a new pet. I do not want a new pet. I have squirrels. But mercy won in the end and I made it a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and left it way back of the house under a tree. Sandwich was gone not so much later. It does look like a good year for acorns at last, when they ripen. I hope bears eat acorns.

    As for how things are in town during the current unpleasantness – it looks much the same to me, though I would say that people seem even more stressed than before. But still a lot of nice friendly people about. One can always find a friendly face – or at least half of one.

    Ollie does look like your gargoyle. That might be a handicap in the making of friends.

    We have mimosas in our area. The are used as landscaping plants. Occasionally they show up in the wild; not often. They smell wonderful. They are Albizia julibrissin. I see that they are also known as the Persian Silk Tree.


  49. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, well I’m glad the parents thought that the consternation of others was amusing. It seems like a very odd attitude to me. There was a lawyer from your country who visited down under a number of years ago and allegedly took their child to a number of ‘children free accommodation businesses’ and then somehow began kicking off a series of legal actions against the businesses – something or other about discrimination and rights although the details escaped me. The situation raised quite a bit of stink, but I believe the businesses had to cave in to the demands.

    Then there was a high end restaurant which back in 1992 allegedly refused entry to a couple and their infant and ended up in court: baby-banning bastion. The byline was: ‘if you’re under 12, eat with the babysitter’. The business now no longer operates I believe although I have no idea whether the case was related to that decision. But by and large people appear to be quite tone deaf and I believe they act inappropriately in that regard, but yes I acknowledge I am in the minority in that belief. My perspective arises because it appears to me to be a form of abusing a commons, and the social environment is as much a part of the commons as the physical environment. Maybe, I’m just old fashioned…

    The supply story is a fascinating story. The largest container port in the country is in Melbourne and I am wondering how the current reaction to the health story which dare not be named is impacting upon supply lines? Dunno, but it would not be impact free that’s for sure.

    And on that note I was grateful to receive delivery of the batteries this morning. The courier sent me a text message to expect the delivery and that it might turn up in a 12 hour window beginning from 8am. I read the message and then did a double take: What the… 🙂 Anyway they turned up within the hour, and I was able to then go about my day, which hadn’t be involved waiting around for a dozen hours on the off chance the courier decided to turn up.

    Picked up an epic sized box of seconds apples and seconds pears today. The pears look great and both items of fruit were grown in the area, they’re just odd sizes and with the occasional blemish. A truly strange story of bizarre expectations – which I don’t share.

    And tonight we decided to support the local pub which is now in take away only mode and enjoyed dark ales, pizza and pasta out in the cold dark weather! A bit of cold weather, ain’t nuffin! Hehe! The food was good, and we discovered last evening that another local establishment sells tiramisu. This claim must be tested.

    Plumbers who install and maintain refrigeration equipment are known as ‘fridgies’ down here. I hear you. If I had my time over, I probably would have gotten into electrical work either domestic, commercial or industrial stuff. Incidentally, refrigeration is an amazing technology which uses very little electricity.

    Mr Greer might be right and one of the undocumented features of working from home is that it becomes possible to know which work to off shore. Wherever possible I head into businesses and build relationships. Very few in my profession want to do that sort of low status work, but I’m cool with that and I can see that without someone doing that work on site in businesses, people and public accountants are struggling. Thanks for the book recommendation. A similar book sits in my ‘to-read’ pile: WEEVILS IN THE FLOUR An Oral History of the1930’s Depression in Australia. The Grapes of Wrath has been a real eye opener.

    The same is true of student loans down here. To be honest such an approach makes a mockery of the spirit of bankruptcy laws. Interestingly, I believe that regulations in relation to insolvent trading for companies have been relaxed due to the subject which dare not be named.

    Anyway, from my perspective it looks as though the Universities down here appear to be up against the ropes. And the restriction of student loans to people who fail a percentage of subjects is not a bad idea at all. We had similar institutions operating for a while down here too – the sales stories I head about them sounded very odd like people signing up for a course in return for an i-thingee device.

    Ah, of course the draft would have provided some serious motivation not to flunk the course. I had not considered or known about that particular aspect, so thanks for mentioning it.

    Yeah it is weird. When I was a mercenary kid I could get as much paid work as I could do, and at some points I was doing three paid jobs, and rolling in mad cash. Dunno at all what happened, suddenly it became unfashionable for kids to work. It didn’t do me any harm and taught me the value of a dollar. Maybe the powers that be don’t want the kids to know what a dollar is worth?

    Not at all! I’d never heard of the Minoan’s before – a sad education was had, but this time I can’t even blame the school bully in year nine. We did more contemporary history like the endless European wars and European Empire and early Australian European history. I’m seeing a pattern there…

    I see the Atlantis reference and Plato’s name gets chucked around. They do say that history is penned by the victors – those cheeky Mycenaeans – they’re only there to lend a hand. 🙂

    Thanks for the suggestion regarding the finger and yes, people can be rather sensitive to slights perceived or otherwise!

    We hear rumours about frozen berries coming from that fabled land of stuff, and interestingly some of the frozen berries have allegedly had Hep A contamination I’m assuming from the fertiliser used.

    What does: ‘pursuant to lawful authority’ even mean? It sounds like an ambiguous phrase. Ah, I see, I guess the authorities have to pull a finger out and ask for help. What a strange situation to kick the leg out from under the table which a person is seated at.

    For your interest, we don’t generally have such provisions and safeguards down here. Interestingly, the finger for the hotel quarantine failures have apparently been directed at personages other than the lustier ones on that particular crew.



  50. Hi Pam,

    Ah yes, don’t feed the bears is probably not a bad idea! I’ve seen the videos of bears breaking into houses and cars and doing all manner of fun stuff. I’m sure the bears are having fun… Anyway on a related ‘don’t feed the animals’ story, some people down here foolishly feed ‘Sulphur Crested Cockatoos’. These are big white parrots, huge things, a squawk which could raise hell and sounds as if it came from there. Anyway, people sometimes decide to not feed the Cockatoos which they have previously been feeding, or worse forget to feed them. The birds live for 80 years and have great memories – and are possibly quite vindictive. They begin ripping apart people’s houses and stuff if they feel maligned. Best not to get involved in their business and bears are possibly likewise not to be trifled with. Koala bears excluded, but again watch for the bad attitudes and sharp claws.

    My, my! You have had more than your fair share of troubles that night. I shaved my head once and it seemed like a good idea at the time to do, except that I let the hair regrow. Tell your son that there is no point giving nature and time (dare I say it?) a head start. 🙂

    Hopefully bears don’t live that long and you can all happily be friends, but keep a can of bear repellent ready to hand just to be sure. Oh, and know how the can works, and maybe practice using the can – it seems rather foolish not to know in advance and then try and read the instructions when a bear is approaching at speed.

    Out of curiosity, do bears eat squirrels?

    Interesting. As a comparison, Melbourne looks quieter to me and there were fewer businesses open and less people moving around. Probably more people walking around now, which is no bad thing. The vibe gives me a headache and I struggled shaking it off recently, but that may be a form of shock too. Dunno.

    Gargoyles need friends. It is possible that Ollie was just trying to make friends with the dozen deer in the orchard? He chased them to the boundary of the forest and then returned triumphantly and no deer or fruit trees were harmed in the process.

    Oh no! Your mimosa tree which is also very attractive has similar tendencies to the Silver Wattle by also going walkabout.



  51. Yo, Chris – Even though we have no skin in the game, as to young children in public places, there are quit a few parents who feel the same way, we do. So, you’re a parent who wants to have a nice quiet “date night”, a bit of a splurge. You’ve safely stashed your own spawn … somewhere. You’ve made the escape from our own kids, do you really want to put up with other people’s? Over here, restaurants that refused service to children and made the media, are overwhelmed with support … and reservations.

    Back in my day 🙂 , children who acted up in public were disciplined, on the spot. Or, taken outside for a good dressing down. I think I told you the story, about having my bottom paddled on a public street, by a complete stranger. Who turned out to be a child psychologist who took my mother for a little coffee and chat.

    I think there’s a lot going on with the supply lines, that we’re unaware of. It’s only what we see, and what we notice.

    I’m so glad you safely got your batteries. One less thing to fret about. Day long waits for deliveries or repair work, are the norm, here. Mostly. You feel like your in suspended animation. Sometimes, you can pin them down to morning, or afternoon. But, not often. Recently, my friend Amanda waited all day for a guy to unplug her sink. He never showed. Turns out he went to the wrong apartment. But, he did unplug a sink, there!

    We have a small apple tree, and pear tree, here at The Institution. The apple tree has a couple of varieties, grafted on. I put out coddling moth and apple maggot traps, this year. Don’t know if they did any good. I picked some of the apples, yesterday, but haven’t cut into them to see how they are. There’s going to be a bumper crop of pears … but I don’t care for pears. Rather than have them go to waste, I’ll probably take a couple of bags to the Club, for the food pantry.

    What’s really sad about the trade school scams, is that our 2 year community colleges usually have a pretty good selection of trades, taught. And tuition prices are usually pretty low. But, some people steer clear of them as they usually require a few classes that don’t apply directly to the trade. And, they may take longer. There are independent trade schools out there, and, with a bit of research, you can generally figure out which ones are legit, and which ones bogus. But how many people do due diligence?

    The Minoans had a high degree of technology. Especially when it came to architecture and, well, plumbing. Bathtubs and showers. Extensive water supply and sewage systems. Things not seen again for 1,500 years, with the Romans. There’s often a bit of speculation as to how much further we’d be along as a civilization, if they hadn’t been, literally, blown out of the water.

    Yes, you really have to be careful buying food, if you want to avoid stuff from … The Land of Stuff. Why I carry my magnifying loop with me, when I shop. So I can read all that fine print.

    One thing I forgot about our National Guard is, they’re often called out for natural disasters. And, mostly, do a darned fine job.

    I watched “Gretel and Hansel,” last night. Pretty good. A bit slow in parts. It was a bit of a different take, on the story, and was told from Gretel’s point of view.

    I read a bit more of “The Journeys of Trees: A Story About Forests, People, and the Future.” (St. George). It’s pretty good. Bangs on about, mostly, five varieties of trees. Giant Sequoia, ash, black spruce, Florida torreya and Monterey pines. Lew

  52. Chris,

    Glad the new batteries showed up. Let’s hope they work as advertised.

    Single layer of bricks is how we did it. The idea wasn’t to get an exact answer, but to correctly identify the problem and its variables and then proceed to the solution – learn the process and how to define a system in a real situation. Then, if one had to calculate the REAL number of bricks while having to account for windows and doors, due to the back of the envelope work, we would know if that other answer is bunkum. When I first started my current job decades back, my supervisor’s boss asked me a question, “Didja do a ‘dumb test’ on these numbers too?” “Oh, like a Fermi Problem?” I asked, adding, “Here’s my estimated numbers for the 2 extremes.” He was pleasantly surprised that I knew what a Fermi Problem was and that I had gone through one for the extreme cases. So, as you’ve hinted, these have practical applications.

    IIRC, the answer to the Sears Tower problem with bricks includes the number “42” somewhere in it. 😉 There was a range of answers. Some calculated from the ground up and assumed all 4 sides were rectangular. I assumed that they were slightly tapered as they went up, resulting in more of a trapezoidal shape. I also included below the ground to the foundation. That part of Chicago has the upper level roads and buildings, and a lower level with more roads and smaller buildings. The Sears Tower foundations were beneath the lower level. But I’d been there and nobody else in the class had, so I was trading on “insider information”.

    What’s sad about those fake brick outer layers is that they don’t match, as you noted. Making those match or not is the difference between a true craftsman and someone in it purely for a paycheck. I did some fiberglass pipe reinsulation on one job I had for a few years, learning from a master craftsman. On the straight runs, the insulation is slit on one side and slides onto the pipe. The slit side then receives some staples so it stays closed. I was taught to then turn the insulation so that the stapled slit is facing away from the normal view, even though this was always under a sink or in a mechanical room. That was the craftsman way. That boss said that if you pay attention to that little detail, then you’ve probably done everything else correctly also.

    One of the friends I’ve had the longest congratulated me on buying “a starter home” when we bought this house. I laughed, as we had no intention of “trading up” to a larger house. This is more than enough for the 2 of us. Otherwise, as you said, cost of heating and cooling, more upkeep, and those pesky property taxes, etc., can become unaffordable.

    A house is for sale on nearby Lake Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, for $27 million. It was on tv. It’s beyond huge, has giant rooms, like 5 bedrooms and 4 baths. The indoor kitchen was ultra expensive. It has 3 outdoor kitchens also, and 2 or 3 guest houses. To keep up with the house and grounds would require a large fulltime staff. Its size made me think of Brandybuck Hall – big enough for an entire extended clan of hobbits to dwell in.

    Yeah, inflation is the hobgoblin that could hamstring us all. The entire Modern Monetary Theory thing can’t end well, and us commoners could easily get caught in the crosshairs.

    A La Nina with a Blob gets interesting. Often with a La Nina, we get slightly cooler weather and more precipitation than “normal”, which means a lot more snow. Unless it’s a La Nina with cold but drought level precipitation. Add in the seemingly random effects of the Blob and who knows what will happen?

    Hahaha you were 8C? We were 7C this morning, but now comes the heat. And more fires, these now fairly local, one just a few miles from here. There was a 2nd one on the Rez this week, adjacent to the last one, which acted as a giant firebreak on one side of the newer fire. That really helped them gain quick control.


  53. Hello again
    I do indeed freeze the bolognaise sauce and also freeze tomatoes in order to make more sauce later.
    Have had a disaster with my runner beans and have just read the gardening section of our local paper and the writer is totally puzzled as he has had the same problem. It is always nice to know that it isn’t something silly that one has done.
    Have a vague recollection that ‘pop goes the weasel’ was mentioned in some earlier comment. It means going to the pawnbroker to pawn something.
    Cooler and cloudy with some light drizzle, humidity still very high. At least my freezer is happy again.


  54. Hi Lewis,

    Well that’s the thing isn’t it? There’s places for kids to go a caterwauling, but then other times the kids have to learn to be respectful of other people. There is a word for that particular learning process. Now what was it called? Oh that’s right: Socialising. Yes, it is awful for children to discover that they can’t do what they want, when they want. It must be a truly awful shock.

    I tell ya, the two Kelpie pups are resistant to training. I believe the word to describe their inherent personality would be: Wilful. Yes, true. Some people recommend chaining them up for hours on end so that it breaks their spirits and they become compliant. I’m appealing to their good sense so that they realise my interests are aligned with theirs but that they do operate within certain boundaries. It is a mental game of tug-o-war with those two.

    Mate, it wasn’t just your day, I was not allowed to do such things either. Punishment was likewise swift and did not allow for any misinterpretation. That was how things were and nobody blinked twice about it. I’m unsure how as a society we went from one extreme to another extreme? It makes little sense to me. Have you ever read anything about this change?

    Oooo, given you heard about the particular story, I’m assuming that your mother was fond of recounting it? It sure is a complicated and fraught topic.

    Dunno what to make of the supply line story as some stuff is coming through, but then there are other shortages and from my perspective I can’t detect any discernible pattern. I tell you what though, there are more items arriving and leaving by air freight (hideously expensive) than more affordable sea freight. A society could quickly go broke if it relied too heavily on air freight. Such a situation might look like there is plenty of stuff, but nobody can afford it. Such a thing happened during the Great Depression.

    Hehe! Once I received the text message from the freight company regarding the batteries, I rang them up and asked for a rough time. The bloke, who was possibly overseas, was very evasive. So I had no idea and went out about my business and left a written message on the front door saying I’d be back soon. And the freight company left the batteries on the front veranda. Fortunately it is rare for people to pass by my house and so they weren’t knocked off. Speaking of which I met a new (old) neighbour earlier today. They’d been around since 2004 and were very positive about the house and all of the gardens. People are slow to get to know other people around these parts.

    What kind of tradie goes to the wrong address and still gets work? Hey, that indicates to me that there is a lot of work which needs doing…

    Never planted one of the multi-graft apples, although they are a really good idea. An old orchardist bloke once mentioned to me in passing that eventually one of the grafts out competes the other grafts, and you could never tell which it would be. Still for limited space the multi-graft trees are great. The local nursery sent me a text saying that their bare rooted trees are now 40% off this weekend. Tempting, but how many trees does an orchard need?

    Pears are a funny fruit as they ripen off the tree and are usually sold rock solid and green when purchased. Dunno what variety you grow in your neck of the woods, but down here the best known variety is Packham’s Triumph. Straight off the tree, the fruit is horrid, but leave the fruit in the kitchen for a week or two to mildly ferment and soften and the pears are superb tasting. Some fruit is like that.

    Well yeah it is a problem with the trade school scams. Incidentally, the Uni I went to used to be known as the ‘Working Man’s College’ and by all accounts it had an excellent reputation. That is the thing with Due Diligence, it requires people to get off the couch and ask some searching questions whilst working out whether people have conflicts of interest. Not so easily done, but longevity of the institution is one good indicator. Word of mouth has value in these instances.

    The Minoan’s suffered a pretty nasty end game. But then they lived large and may have attracted the ire or envy of their neighbours and the neighbours were clearly able to do something about it. But then eventually fate stepped hard on belligerent the neighbours too. Even the Roman’s could only take things so far before collapsing. The wheel of time turns and turns. Sometimes I have this remembrance of playing the game ‘musical chairs’ as a kid and around and around the table the kids would go and when the music stopped nobody know’d! And every time the music stopped one kid was ejected from the game. The game is not a bad metaphor.

    I’m feeling it tonight. Path widening project up above the house – Done! We moved some extraordinary sized rocks today. Turns out winter seems to be the time when the soil is damp enough to recover large rocks from the clutches of the soil. Who knew? But moving them around the place takes pretty much everything we have. Most of the rocks needed two people just to roll them into position. Me tired…

    Hehe! Have you noticed that we are developing a second language which utilises words from the English language, but derives meaning from our common understanding? The land of stuff is a fine alternative description which won’t trigger stupid index searches. People give computer programs far too much credit. As a kid I wrote a database program in machine language on my Commodore 64 and they work pretty much the same these days.

    The Australian Defence Force is also wheeled out for natural disasters. Given they are on the public payroll, it might not be a bad idea for them to occasionally serve the public – who is paying for them after all. They’re doing a fine job here too, and I always try to have a laugh with them at the checkpoints. The weather over the next week looks set to become inclement, so spare them a thought standing out in the cold and freezing rain at that lonely checkpoint.

    Incidentally speaking of weather, what is going on with the Good Professor Cliff Mass? Wow. Cancel culture is a very dirty tactic. Cliff Mass however appears to have erred by mentioning far right folks when there are plenty of better examples on the far left. After all, I have personally seen the killing fields in Cambodia and, yeah, well it wasn’t good.

    Good stuff! I’ll mention the film to the editor. She finished ‘Hollow Kingdom’ this morning and made a vague mention that the author did not like cats, and was perhaps a dog person!

    I’m a bit cagey about Monterey Pines as like the huge Eucalyptus trees here they do seem to encourage fire activity. Did the book discuss that aspect about the trees?



  55. Hi Inge,

    Speaking of bolognaise sauce, meat looks like it is now 50% dearer than only a few weeks ago. Each week I purchase about a pound of meat for the chickens, who as you would know are not vegetarians. The dogs scrap off cut bones seem to be the same price though – but then they are a waste product.

    Beans other than Broad-beans have been a somewhat elusive plant to which I have had little success. It is possible that I grow such plants in too rich a medium (i.e. compost). Not sure about you and would be interested to learn, but I read the other day that beans generally do well in the following season after tomatoes have been grown in the same soil. Dunno, what is your take on that?

    Thank you very much for the explanation regarding popping of weasels. I would never have guessed that particular explanation. Down here, pawn brokers have never gone away, although the businesses are usually confined to inner urban areas. It is quite a lot of red tape to gain a ‘second hand goods licence’, although it probably shouldn’t really be that way. As a kid I recall the show ‘Steptoe and Son’ and all their crazy goings on.

    Your weather describes the weather here. It doesn’t feel cold now, but every day there will be something like 1/25th to 1/5th of an inch of rain for the foreseeable future. The weather bureau has in the past day or so forecast a wetter than usual spring for the eastern half of the continent.



  56. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I have no idea whether the batteries will work as advertised. That might be described as a ‘leap of faith’. I tell you, it was not a cheap leap of faith, and claims about the batteries performance seem a little overblown, but I now know how Lead Acid Gel sealed batteries perform and that was about on spec. Like with the Lead Acid batteries, I’ll really try to baby these new batteries.

    It is kind of like the old wood heater where I had to completely stuff it up and then work out painstakingly where things went wrong – and then change behaviours and systems so that the new wood heater didn’t suffer a similar fate. Although, I might have learned a thing or two in the process and can claim a mid-level understanding of the use of firewood.

    Which I should add is a resource in short supply from what a local supplier was telling me. It was kind of fun though because he’s known me for years and years and he told me that an older Italian bloke was at the business asking why people lived on rural land if they did not make use of the land. It seems like a good question: Why go to the gym if there is work to be done on the land. Why go to the fruit and vegetable supplier if produce can be gleaned from the land. You get the picture.

    Oh, you and Lewis might be interested in this WWII POW history from folks detained Down Under: How a small Australian town thousands of kilometres from the battlefront found itself in the grip of wartime tensions.

    Gotta run as I have to make a phone call…



  57. Chris:

    I have never heard of a Black Bear eating a squirrel, but if I was squirrel and had a sprained ankle I would beware. This small bear climbed a very tall tree just as easily as a squirrel. I have just read that bears will raid squirrels’ nut caches. Therein may lie some antipathy.


  58. Yo, Chris – “Can’t do what they want, when they want.” I’ve known more than a few adults, that are like that 🙂 . Wikipedia has quit a section on “child discipline.” Apparently, the slackening of standards are all Dr. Spock’s fault. No not that Dr. Spock. The other one.

    That was one of the early joys, I found, of living in a small town. If you need a service, just ask around and see whose name keeps popping up. A good sized sample is needed, as, you never know if someone is propping up a relative.

    Musical chairs. An early form of the TV series, “Survivor.” Not that I’ve ever watched a single episode. By the way, a Mimosa is also a fancy cocktail, beloved by the inhabitants of the series “Sex in the City.” Another one I’ve never watched. Hmmm. Wonder how I know all that. Popular culture has a way of infiltrating even to the least interested.

    I’m glad your path widening project is finished. Will there be a ribbon cutting ceremony? A brass band? 🙂 .

    Alternative language is interesting. Kind of like speaking in code. On E – Swamp, it is forbidden to mention the other big mail order company, starting with an “A”. You can get chucked off, for recommending it. So, people just refer to it as “The River.”

    I suppose it’s forbidden to slip the Defense Force a few home baked goods. Maybe a small bag of Anzac biscuits. I’m sure the fellows would appreciate a bit of nosh, at their bleak posts.

    Prof. Mass has been fighting a rear guard action, for about a year. He’s clearly in the cross hairs of some group, and his every utterance is dissected and distorted. The Left can be just as oppressive as The Right. Two groups have broken away from The Club, as they don’t want to wear masks. Two mask wearing groups have emerged, to take up their time slots. There’s an old AA saying. “What does it take to found a new group?” “A coffee pot and a resentment.”

    I’m reading about the Monterey Pines, just now. Apparently, they were limited to 5 small places, in California. But now they’ve spread world wide. And what’s funny is, they grow differently, in different places. In coastal California, they grow gnarled, small and twisted. In New Zealand, they’re straight and tall. The author talks a bit about the early plant hunters. Who spread species, world wide. It was David Douglas who first described the Monterey Pines. I had heard his name, before. Heck, there’s the Douglas Fir, named for him, And, I had cousins who went to David Douglas High School. But I really didn’t know much about him. Oh, my. Was he accident prone. His collecting trips were one disaster after another. Died young, at 34 … accidentally.

    My green beans are banging along, about half harvest size, now. I don’t know what’s up with my Tomittilos. The first year I planted them, I got two great bushes. This year, they are rather small. But, putting out fruit and flowers. Maybe that patch is a bit played out?

    I picked up a pile of DVDs, from the library. Mostly, English mystery series. Also, Toronto 1900, and, another look at Melbourne in the 1920s. That’s not a series, but, a TV movie spun off from a series. “Miss Fisher and the Crypt of Tears.” But maybe I won’t see much of Melbourne. Reading the box cover, it appears most of the action takes place in 1929 Jerusalem. Something about a cursed tomb. Oh, well. I’m sure it will be engrossing.

    Just finishing up “Grantchester”, season 5. Grantchester is a small village just outside Oxford. It’s 1957. It’s one of those police detective and the vicar, double acts. 🙂 .

  59. Hi Chris
    Glad to see that your battery assembly stuff was delivered to you safely. I’m always a little edgy when expecting high value merchandise delivery🙁

    There is a wealth of good info online about all aspects of the LiFePO4 Cells and assemblies. The Battery Management System equipment is well developed. The precision of the charge discharge, charge finish and high charge limit settings is tightly controlled. To protect your cells health. In my limited reading: discharge below 2.5 volts is to be avoided. Happy cells are from 3.2 volts min. to 3.6 volts max charge.
    The 48 volt nominal battery bank level is met with 16 cells in series And parallel together to get the storage value desired
    ( KWH or AH). The requirements on the BMS are more stringent for the Lithium cells than for the Lead Acid type.
    Your dealing with good local folks on your end. Your certainly experienced!
    The discharge cycle life that seems to be most expected is 2000 discharges. That’s good!

    The one situation in your solar system that remains unsolved is the winter sunlight deficiency. If it was me I would look for a farmer or other who grew oil seed and produced his own biodiesel then find a good reliable used diesel gen-set to power the farm through the dark Cloudy times.

    My approach to get the aux power into the system would be to pass Generator ac power at your house 240 vac value into a regulated power 48 volt dc supply connected directly in parallel with the solar cell bank input with diode isolation like the cells have. It could be permanently or switch connected and started and run when needed. Functionally no different than If you had viable wind auxiliary power which is not available in your setting. What do you think?😊

    Different Topic
    Trade training, apprenticeship, private non profit trade schools.
    Take a look at J.M, Perry In Yakima, Washington
    at I didn’t attend there but would today!
    There is one surprise program I saw in their course info. In your work area😁 The present current cost for a two year program is about $42,000 plus usd.

    You would have been a very good Electrician, I was one for a long career and my oldest son is still working although now in management.
    Cheers Al

  60. @ all
    I found Simon Sheridan’s blog on that which shall not be named, extremely interesting.


  61. Hi DJ cont…

    Surely you jest about the Sears tower problem including a 42 in the result? Maybe? I agree with you as really large masonry constructions are often tapered, and for good reason. I tell ya, there is an old Victorian era warehouse not far out of the big smoke central business district and it was being converted to office space which I used to occasional venture into. Formerly it looked as though the building was used as a wool store. Anyway, some of the lower bricks have shifted ever so slightly over the years and just seeing that gives me the heebie-jeebies but nobody else seems to have noticed the slight shift. Although such buildings do have tolerances and maybehaps (thanks for the useful word) the shift is within tolerance – and the facts speak for themselves as the building is still in the vertical position.

    Strangely enough, I’ve also seen brick buildings where the mortar was made to be too sticky and the brick walls crack at the weakest point in the bricks (which are fired clay after all). That is a bit unnerving as I’ve always leaned towards producing sticky mortar. Oh well, not my problem now and the foundations were bonkers down to almost 1.2m deep solid foundation concrete founded on bedrock…

    Hey, your insider information served you well. How many students would have even asked whether the brickwork went below soil level? Only those that have worked on brick sub soil foundations from way back in the day would know such esoteric knowledge. Did you know that in repairing the sub structures of old Victorian era houses I discovered that the old timers had chucked really small sea shells into the concrete foundations mixes?

    So I became interested and years ago had the opportunity to ask an old timer builder how they used to produce concrete foundations in an older era where trucks were not available to deliver loads of to-spec cement. And he replied something along the lines that many hands makes light work.

    Exactly, it is the craftsman way. A few months ago by sheerest chance I happened to get into a conversation with an old timer bricklayer and he seemed a bit miffed that over the years his skill set was eaten into by other professionals. He told me that back in the day, he used to prepare the set-out of a building, supervise the cement pour for the strip footings and then construct the outer walls of a house. Then just to tease me he began speaking of what he knew about constructing chimneys which could maintain a proper draught.

    Hehe! Yes, Starter home = not a posh house. But also a person must understand that it is a choice which stands the tests of time. Others may want for more, and then fail.

    Brandybuck Hall is all nice and stuff, but would the denizens of such places these days wish to house the multiple generations? I have a dark suspicion about that particular story.

    The Modern Monetary Theorists are probably saying to themselves in the wee hours of the dark of night that the old rules don’t apply. For the life of me, I can’t understand why they don’t apply. But then I apprenticed myself with the world’s second oldest profession – or so I have been told. Oh, there are a number of contenders for that particular title! I tell you, the beans really did need counting…

    The climate is weird and getting weirder. Every day for the next week, somewhere between 1mm and 10mm looks set to fall. I really don’t know what I’m going to achieve about the farm next week, but you know, take things day by day and all that. Beware the Blob, if only because it is a bit scary and shows up on maps and for that reason alone it should be feared.

    Well, yes that is the thing, fires produce fire breaks and our Western perspective really struggles with the implications of that story. I tend to believe that the incredible amount of particles pumped into the atmosphere down here during January’s epic fires will produce a crazy wet summer this year. Maybe we need to consider appeasing the rain Gods with more regular burns over a longer interval of time? Otherwise we go from one extreme to another extreme. Bonkers.



  62. Hi Lewis,

    Who even knew that Leonard Nimoy had kids? 🙂 Hehe! When I was a kid I’d heard of Dr Spock, but being a kid the discussions never involved my opinions and so I have basically no idea what the central tenet of the guys thesis was… … Ah, what a character the bloke was. You have to give him credit for apparently going from one extreme to another extreme. I tend to lean closer to the patterns and structure theory and perhaps reach for a middle ground, but I have remarked before to you about ‘the patterns not being right’ – which is a quote I might have ripped blindly from the Top Gun film, but I could well be mistaken. All the same it seems like an amusing quote to me.

    Spare a thought for the poor and long suffering editor who I occasionally and amusingly use the ‘patterns not right’ comment on. I think it’s funny…

    The editor is actually reading a very amusing book, which is a rom-com with a side dose of Asperger’s titled: The Rosie Project, which is a 2013 Australian novel by Australian novelist Graeme Simsion. The editor is positively laughing about the story, although I have not read it.

    It is a joy isn’t it? Someone, somewhere in a small community knows how to get a certain thing which you may possibly want done, and if you can gauge the quality of the person recommending the err, thing whatever it may be, well you know you’re most of the way home with resolving any problem and getting the job done properly. In the city, I never had much surety with such matters and people would sell you down the river. And sometimes they did so without having any social consequences or bizarrely, benefits from having done so. All very dysfunctional from my perspective.

    Mate, I have to fess up and let you know that one very early season I did watch Survivor. It was a long time ago and I became emotionally invested in the characters. What can I say other than I am occasionally weak? Sex in the City was a show about relationships targeted at women and presented from a females perspective. I never understood what all the fuss was about, and from time to time I’ve encountered women who treat the show like secret women’s business. It became a bit like the number one rule in Fight Club: Don’t talk about Fight Club. OK, if that is how they want things…

    There was a cancel culture thing a few years ago when an author was absolutely skewered for writing about a point of view that was not her own. Now where was that: As Lionel Shriver made light of identity, I had no choice but to walk out on her . I enjoyed the film: We need to talk about Kevin. Met a few of those types in my time. It is the paramount role of an author to tell a story – and how can that happen if the author has to tone police themselves based on the whims of others? Like how could anyone who is the ‘life writ large’ personification of Arthur ever recount an Arthurian tale? They wouldn’t have the skillset for the job just for starters. It doesn’t seem right somehow.

    There was no ribbon cutting for the completion of the new path, only an Ollie dog. And that’s enough for me. He’s alright that dog. Never thought about the ribbons, but it is a good idea!

    E-swamp!!! Love it. The things ya learn, Lewis. I tell ya it never even occurred to me to recommend the River of Stuff whilst wading through the e-swampy waters. Conan would have dined upon the musk rats therein – and enjoyed the experience.

    When it was close to snowing I was wondering whether there would be any benefit from taking them a trailer load of dry firewood. Mate, the weather this coming week is so bad, they’d probably appreciate the gesture at that lonely spot. But I can’t figure what is in it for me to do so.

    Yeah, I sort of noticed that about the good Professor. He erred by mentioning the extreme right which is thrown around in your country to mean something else other than what it actually does mean. He really should have stuck to Stalin, Pol Pot, Mao, or even who was the guy in Cuba who liked frozen dairy products? The body counts are good enough to make the turkey shoot easy and who would complain? The left have forgotten who their friends once were and from time to time they should be reminded.

    Loved the quote about coffee and resentment. 🙂 So true!

    Oh, wow, another plant hunter. Douglas Fir and Monterey Pines grow really well here. A bit like the New Zealand experience and they all grow super tall and super straight. But the Monterey Pines are a serious wildfire problem. A company has been harvesting the old Douglas Fir which grow in large planted stands high up on the main ridge of the mountain range – I have a few of them growing here. Sometimes softwoods are needed.

    It is possible that the patch of soil is played out. Unless you bring in huge loads of organic matter, that can happen. I read the other day that I should not grow onions in the same soil for more than two years, so crop rotation is on my mind. The last time I went to the markets I picked up a 22 pound bag of brown onions for $5. Just the soil additives would cost more than that. Something is surely afoot, although with the difficulties the restaurant trade is experiencing it is possible that farmers are having difficulties off loading their produce. Yes, the Onions of Wrath… 😉

    Why would anyone want to mess around with a cursed tomb? Certainly it seems like a bad idea to me. What is your take on that?

    Hehe! The series sounds like one of those old jokes: So there’s a Vicar and a copper at the bar… But season 5 clearly means that the show is onto a good thing.

    Better get writing!



  63. Hi Pam, Al and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but it is 8.30pm and I’m yet to commence writing. Yes, poor time management is a problem which I might have to rectify at some unspecified time in the future. Not sure when as it is hard to get the proper time to address these problems. So maybe one day I’ll be OK at time management. But until then…

    Cheers and will speak tomorrow.


  64. Yo, Chris – Well, it was 91F (32.77C) yesterday, and is supposed to be 100F (37.77C), today. Oh, well, it’s supposed to be 10 degrees cooler, tomorrow, and 10 degrees cooler the day after. That will take us down to a nippy 80F. Might have to throw another blanket, on the bed :-). Might have to take up that fine old custom of siesta. Or, is that cultural appropriation? Maybe I can get away with it, if I call it a “nap?” 🙂 . The freezer is well supplied with frozen dairy products.

    We’re not hearing much about it, but that storm in our midwest was really something. Gargle (there’s another one of those code words) “Iowa Storm Photos” and you’ll get an eye full. Iowa is one of our break baskets. According to one article, 10 million acres of crops were destroyed. Corn, soybeans, wheat. There will be pain, at the supermarket.

    Some of the British mysteries I watch, bang on about how the successful detectives see “patterns”, in things.

    I didn’t watch any of “Sex in the City,” but gathered that it might put a bloke of women, for awhile.

    That Lionel Shriver story was chilling. I guess I can chuck out my short story, told from the point of view of an elderly Chinese woman. Sure, I agree that people should tell their own stories, but, I often wonder, what if their writing is carp? Should poor writing be published just because an author belongs to some cultural group? J. K. Rowlings put her foot in it, but that seems to be dying down.

    E-Swamp had “boards” where people could ask questions and trade information. Such as, “Booksellers Board.” Still there, but for some reason, they’ve buried them deep in the site, and they’re hard to find. That’s where you could usually find references to “The River.”

    Well, taking a bit of firewood to the fellows on the checkpoint might not be of any tangible benefit to you, but it might be a nice thing to do. 🙂 . To really warm them up, you might take them a bottle of your hooch. 🙂 . I say hooch, as you make so many varieties, I can’t keep up.

    I just finished a chapter in “The Journey of Trees” titled, “Kiss Your Ash, Goodbye.” Gosh, we’ve lost a lot of trees. Either through disease, or bugs. First it was the chestnut, around 1900. Next up was the Dutch Elm. Now it’s ash trees, in all it’s varieties. The midwest has been denuded of ash, and it’s still spreading. There was also a lot of chat about if it’s a good idea to give some trees a leg up, on climate change, by moving them further north.

    Well, cursed tombs. There’s all that treasure … and notoriety. I watched the Miss Fisher, last night, and it was a fun romp. Not much appeared to take place, in Melbourne, but I watched the extras, first. Quit a bit was in “London”. But the film makers said that most of the London scenes were actually filmed in Melbourne. Morocco stood in for Jerusalem and the Middle East.

    I think I’d better water twice, today. Morning and evening. Might be a good idea. Lew

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