Can I be forgiven

Mike never really forgave me. How many times do you have to hear the same tragic story told over and over again? There we were – so the story goes – in the hot summer sun driving down the Great Ocean Road just near to the famous surf break of Bells Beach. The roof was off the little 1 litre (61 cubic inches) Suzuki Sierra four wheel drive vehicle and the sun was bleaching our youthful skin and hair. We were on our way back to the house.

All of my mates had banded together and rented a house for the summer holidays in the beach town of Barwon Heads. We sure raised hell in that little beachside town – and had a blast. A week was too short a time to spend with mates at that time of life, so once back at work, I pathetically implored of my boss: “Astrid. You have to let me have another week off work!” And that sad appeal worked. Astrid was a lovely boss after all. Prior to that time, she memorably encountered my friends waiting for me just on the other side of the glass security door. She was a bit taken aback and remarked: “Chris, there are a couple of young gentleman here to see you.” But then she added as an afterthought: “They don’t look anything like you!” Indeed for they were dressed like street kids.

But back to the little underpowered, but more importantly two seater Suzuki travelling along the Great Ocean Road with the roof off, the sun beating down, and the CD player blasting out some solid grunge tunes. Mike was the first one to spot the three young surfer girls wanting to hitch a ride back to town. A brief argument ensued. For the record Mike lost the argument, but won the day on points for his overall sense of adventure. Mr Practical (me), pointed to the two seats which were otherwise occupied, and the lack of space for the three young ladies plus their surfboards. Mike reminded me that he had once observed eight people in the car. He had a point, but I retorted that this was a major highway after all and not some dodgy late night pizza run adventure in an undersized car for you and seven of your mates.

Mike was cool, and stoically resigned himself to not picking up the three young lady hitch-hikers. Instead he just gave them a cheesy grin and wave as we headed back along the highway to the accommodation. Anyway, the band which was comprised of several friends, were probably going to play that night at the beach house. And who wouldn’t want to see how the neighbours rated the loud music?

Going back a few years before that, there was a share house of five people in a snooty suburb. The street name was Royal Crescent and it doesn’t get more snooty than that street name. It was my first house out of home and only one of the people was known to me, and that was Matt. Matt introduced me to his mates: Mike and Tony. It is hard to believe that the five us said to the landlord in all sincerity that the party days were behind us. Mate, we sure lied.

The lie was a sad thing for the landlord, if only because he lived next door with his young family. He sure had his revenge on us though, and most certainly didn’t return any of the deposit.

Mike and Tony had been mates since boarding school. They were like family those two, thrown into a rotten situation and then making the best of it. If grammar school is ten, then boarding school is right off the scale at eleven. But far out those guys sure knew how to throw a party. Here’s a photo of Mike at a very memorable party.

Mike the Viking with cigarette and drink enjoying an epic party

The guys just knew people. Lot’s of people. And people likewise knew they threw epic parties. It is worth mentioning that no party was really complete unless the police turned up. Nay, their attendance was like a barometer as to the general vibe of the party. The more people and the more visits by the local constabulary, the better party was. That was the general consensus. And the parties went on until the wee hours of the morning. The ‘what exactly did happen’ debrief the following day was always an important event to attend, as well as just being fun and illuminating stuff.

Mike worked in sales. And he was good at his job, because during the recession of the 90’s whilst most people were only just scraping by, Mike was rolling in mad cash. For a couple of years Mike used to work around the corner from my place of employment. We used to have lunch together and talk rubbish. He was very casual with time, and fortunately for me nobody much cared what I was up to as long as the debt collection job got done. Lunches used to extend on as long as was necessary. It’s important business talking rubbish.

The business was a computer wholesaler, and who can forget the exciting day the Australian Federal Police raided the business. You coming down to lunch, mate? It seemed like an important question to ask. Nah, maybe later, was the reply. The office I was in provided a good view of the unfolding events. And good to his word, we had lunch much later with a side dish of juicy details. He was cool. The business survived and went on to continue wholesaling, or doing whatever it was doing.

Other jobs he did involved computers and something or other with them. Despite persistent and repeated questioning it was really unclear what some of those businesses were actually doing. Mike was unfazed by the questioning and said just come and have a look for yourself. During the visit the question was raised: So you’re getting paid to set up a virtual golf course for the boss and keep the other staff entertained playing car racing games? Yeah, was the only answer possible. A true mystery for me, even to this day.

Mike and Tony continued with the share houses. For a number of years they had control of a Californian Bungalow, and it was huge place. House mates came and went. Some stayed longer than others. All of them were amusing company. In the backyard there was even a motorcycle buried half in and half out of the ground courtesy of an epic party. As the guys got older, they learned how to be on better terms with their neighbours, who were unwittingly providing them with internet access.

At the end of the lease, the landlord gave them back the full deposit. Turns out the landlord demolished the house and had failed to inspect it before the bulldozer went in. A stroke of luck.

In Mike’s early years it would be a fiction to describe him as being neat. After all it was he who introduced to me the concept of the floordrobe. Mike was too busy living life to worry about being neat. That was for other people. At times the household even had trouble committing to toilet paper. The telephone book was found to be a useful substitute.

If you didn’t look too closely at the state of hygiene in the kitchen you could enjoy some of the best cooking around. But you were warned – don’t look too closely at the kitchen. Despite the excellent food, Mike loved take away food. There was that weird time however, when the house became all super neat. It was akin to entering a Star Trek spatial anomaly and it just somehow didn’t seem right. A friend was couch surfing at the time and paying for the accommodation by doing all of the cleaning. Mike thought that this was the best arrangement ever, but all good things come to an end, and eventually the house returned to its normal state of being.

It has been noted before by others that one thing that private schooling teaches students is how to casually wear a suit. Mike had that act down pat. He was always well presented, but in a very casual manner. If food had been inadvertently splatted onto his shirt, he’d just not worry about it. That was what cleaning was about apparently. Mike’s love of take away food lead to an expanding waistline though, and who can forget the arrangement he had with the tailor? The tailor used to hand-make a custom suit for Mike. The suit was called the ‘Big Mike’, and Mike used to call up the tailor who already had his measurements and ask for a Big Mike in Purple, or Blue. He looked very cool, just like Ozzy Osbourne, but in the early years.

As these things happen, circumstances, economics and time force people in all manner of different directions. We drifted apart and in the last decade only saw each other at as Mike put it succinctly at ‘Birthdays and Barbecues’. Here’s one:

Tony, Chris, Mike and Alfie at a wedding

And here’s another wedding photo:

Mike, Chris and Tony

A few years back at another wedding in a small country town there was a long interval between the ceremony and the reception. Mike and Tony decided to spend that time with the editor and I. We all went to a local cafe and scoffed down some yummy cake and coffee and just talked rubbish for hours. It was as if no time at all had elapsed.

But time had indeed elapsed. On Saturday morning, Mike who loved and lived life to the fullest died suddenly. Mike and Tony were like the brothers I never had. I miss ya mate.

I planted an oak tree as a memorial to Mike. The source of the oak seedling was a bit dubious, and I sort of feel that Mike would have approved of the appropriate gesture.

The author plants an oak seedling as a memorial to Mike

The weather over this corner of the planet has been warm but changeable. A few storms have rolled over the land and the clouds have looked awesome.

Storm clouds roll over the area this week bring warm and humid weather

The greenhouse project has continued. I was hoping to have the building finished this week, however it is a very complicated building. The timber frame received a good coat of paint.

The greenhouse received a coat of paint. Ollie appears to be dodging any and all work!

The door was then hung on the greenhouse. It is worthwhile mentioning that obtaining a timber and glass door at this time of unusual supply shortages was not an easy feat. The door had to be painted. Then we were able to attached the steel corrugated sheets around the lower parts of the greenhouse.

The greenhouse project is moving along. Plum approves

Aviary mesh was attached to various areas so as to provide ventilation. The mesh will also stop all of the wildlife which lives on the farm and in the surrounding forest from getting inside the greenhouse and feasting on the seedlings.

Aviary mesh was attached so as to allow ventilation and stop the wildlife from getting inside the greenhouse

Hopefully the ventilation is good enough to stop the plants inside the greenhouse from cooking on seriously hot days.

More details of the roof ventilation mesh can be seen

We continue to clean up the surrounding forest. I have an odd notion that the job has not been done properly since maybe, say, 1834 at a wild guess. Whilst not quite 190 years ago, it is not that far off the number. A lot of cleaning up needs to be done.

Clean up of the surrounding forest continued this week

Some friends supplied us with a bottle of very tasty Limoncello. An excellent use of lemons, And we have a lemon tree and inspiration. What more needs be said?

Limoncello production

The two sheep dog pups, Plum and Ruby are getting bigger. Their first birthday is in November.

Plum is getting bigger and her tongue is getting longer

Unfortunately for the local skinks (a gecko equivalent reptile) the two girls have discovered the joys of hunting them. Fortunately the reptiles are fast as and plentiful.

A skink enjoying the now warmer spring sunshine

There’s a huge diversity of birds living on the farm. This little fella (a red breasted robin) has recently taken to admiring himself in the car windows.

A red breasted robin enjoys farm life

The Globe Artichokes have been producing tasty chokes. If ever you get the chance to consume one, I recommend them highly. A very tasty vegetable.

Globe Artichokes are producing a few chokes now that spring is here

Onto the flowers:

A huge succulent flower
Aluminium plant and Alkanet (A.K.A. A close relative of Borage) are good friends
How bright are these Leucodendron flowers
All of the trees in the forest flower. It is awesome to see a hugely tall Blackwood in full flower
The flowering Cherries lining this path are a really lovely thing to see and the honeyeaters are loving the easy feed
The orchard has begin breaking its dormancy

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 836.8mm (32.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 824.6mm (32.5 inches).

66 thoughts on “Can I be forgiven”

  1. Yo, Chris – I think, maybe, we’ve all had a Mike in our younger lives. Someone a bit fun, but raffish, and skates along the edge of “illegal.” 🙂 Mine was named Don, and I have no idea what’s become of him. And, have resisted the idea of doing online searches. Sometimes, the past is best left past. You didn’t mention a lady-love, in Mike’s life. Ever the boy who never grew up? I really think Xabier hit the nail on the head, with the Sir Richard Burton quote. “But time will make us other men.” Years ago, I formulated a theory about people. The person at 20 will not be the same person at 30. There may be miles of distance between the two, for better or worse. At least that’s my theory. Your mileage may vary. 🙂 . The planting of an oak tree, is really a nice gesture.

    The greenhouse is really wizard. If your worried about ventilation, or, heat, you might think about curtains for the south facing window. Something simple that can block the sun, if necessary. A bit of shade can really make a difference, to internal temperatures. Might put a screen, on that door, so you can leave it open for additional air flow?

    Lemoncello. I looked it up. My gosh! 30% alcohol? That’s lethal! But, it sounds like it has some really nice uses.

    Plum has a look in her eye, as, “I get you and have your number.” Gotta watch that one. 🙂 . Skinks are kind of fun. Haven’t seen one here, but there were plenty out at my old place.

    I am envious of your robins. Yours are plump and really colorful. Ours are thinner, and rather dowdy looking.

    All those flowers. Are your bees out yet, and in a delirium of the bounty? Lew

  2. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for understanding. The will is good, the flesh is willing, the laws are indefatigable. There is no need to apologise, things are as they are down here and they differ. I’d like to go to the funeral, but the reality is that fines would consume several months of excess income which is something of a problem – and the funeral directors would act as the watch keepers in that respect as their fine would be far worse. Thus I used a weapon which was at my disposal and I could wield without fear or favour – magic. The form was finished at midnight last evening, and I consider that in and of itself to be an auspicious sign. 🙂 To be candid with you I cast the die without fear and just waited to see where things eventuated.

    To my amazement and joy, today several people have been touched by what was really a gift from me to whomever knew Mike, and even those who did not. I sought nothing in return for the gift either. It was my pleasure to cast the spell far and wide and just let events take their own natural course and seek a natural resolution which may have otherwise have been denied by the current events.

    A number of people’s responses have delivered heavy emotions, and that’s cool. The narrative was part of the release and the setting free of the spirit. The forms don’t necessarily need to be observed, and occasionally things can just be winged! 😉

    Far out, I do hope things are easier on you and your family. Your countries laissez faire response has much to commend it.



  3. Hi Xabier,

    The editor and I were greatly amused by your delightful Persian saying. 🙂 Which reminds me that the two sheep dog pups have been known to jump from one raised garden bed to another as if they were recreating a scene from the 80’s arcade game ‘Frogger’. How much damage to a garden can two small pups do? That was a rhetorical question to which I shall supply the answer: A lot! Fortunately the garden is large and the energy of the pups is limited (maybe).

    Ah, this talk of debts and unbalanced scales is somewhat nerve wracking. 😉

    Xabier, I tell you this, Sir Sancho has a sensitive and discriminating sensibility. Due to the health subject which dare not be named, the local vet has been unable to neuter the two girls. Not to publicly discuss such delicate matters, but I tell ya candidly the two girls, well, let’s just hope they have not been wayward… Oh well, whatever happened we’ll just sort of support them. It’ll be an adventure…

    Thanks! And all the best to you too! 🙂

    And I am in your debt. Thank you very much for introducing me to Sir Richard Francis Burton. What a character, and some people have been put on this planet in order to make the rest of us look bad, whilst at the same time they set the gold standard. He was a true giant.

    The poetry was beautiful, well received and very appropriate. Hope you enjoyed more of the story. 🙂



  4. Hi Lewis,

    It is possible that there is a cultural difference which is beyond my understanding. Down here, I’ve noticed that we have the opposite gender situation. And just as a random example I was politely standing at the ATM this morning (no drive through banks here! Far out what a concept) and an elderly lady was utilising the machine before I could utilise it. Because sleepwalking is for others, it was obvious to me that the lady was not wearing a mask. Deliberately she turned to me and attempted to feign forgetfulness whilst at the same time commencing a discussion about masks. There was no upside to even engaging in the discussion, so I just bluntly stated that: “it doesn’t look good”. The lady then scuttled off about her business, and honestly it was of no concern of mine.

    Anyway, I was at the ATM because the tree dudes were scratching around for some work and I see no reason to blunt such enthusiasm. And even better, they’re starting to see the story. Oh yeah, this is a great thing. It’s only taken almost a decade, but they get it. There are benefits to being a primary producer. Actually I’m reading that down here that we are having a shortage of farm workers because the international borders are bit squooshed.

    As to dissension, well it wasn’t just at the group. You have a sensitive eye and soul because you guessed correctly. In the story this week there was an unmentioned yoko. May you never encounter a yoko. Flipping through the photos last evening (no digital cameras in those days) I came across an image of her. Trying to keep in the vein of a proper wake, I couldn’t really mention the yoko story. Mate, I tell you I’ve learned a thing or two in my life and one hard won lesson is that all other considerations aside, if a yoko of your mates choice takes a dislike to you, well it’s game over man. And that happened a dozen years ago. Drifting apart was a polite way of stating what actually happened. The thing is I knew that people who don’t like themselves tend to fear people who are polite to them. I thus knew how she wanted to be treated, but I didn’t want the burden that doing so would place on me, and so I just stoically faced the loss. It happens and I’m sure you’ve experienced that happening too.

    I wasn’t as quick on the uptake as you in that regard, but yeah from hindsight it is obvious. Once you teach to a test, well the outcome is baked into the cake. I was seriously disappointed to see that this was the case at University too.

    Thanks! And the oak tree was planted in a good paddock. A lady from around these parts once remarked that the best gardeners are often also plant thieves – and who can argue with such logic. 😉 The soil the oak was planted into was a beautiful chocolate brown colour as I’d been adding minerals to that area for a while. It’s really starting to take off there. It’s pleasing to see nature being repaired in action.

    Actually I’m really cool about everything. The hardest part was speaking with Tony the day. I experienced grief the likes of which I’d found exceptionally distressing, but I can keep things together having known plenty of tragedy beforehand. Despite everything though, those guys are like family, but family you’d want to spend time with. Not the other sort…

    Seriously, are you still managing to harvest other peoples tomatoes?

    Sorry to hear that the local art trails event has been cancelled. That sort of thing has been happening this year… Actually I noticed the Benton murals and they were epic. Ah, I see it makes sense having apprentices for such work. Only fair to hand on the skills and a bit of the umbrella of status.

    What a thought. A goodie too. I’m now thinking of ‘grey nomads’ as camel riding desert folk with long swords and bad attitudes. The sweat evaporates from the skin the moment the unrelentingly hot sun strikes flesh. Shade is nowhere to be found. Birds of prey circle lazily overhead waiting for the folk of the desert to falter. The onse who are not to recover fall and are left to fend for themselves. And yet never a more generous folk are to be encountered should you be so lucky as to find them in such a mood…. Foes quail at their approach, whilst friends are merely nervous. Mate, I’ve read far too much pulp fiction! Hehe!

    Eleanor’s grand daughter has a delightful sense of humour, and you need to be careful as to what you wish for. 🙂 How funny would that be? Honestly it is a big call and the child has huge boots to fill. Still we may be all surprised how it turns out.

    Thanks for not linking to the grim articles as my brain is a touch over stimulated these past few days. Not sure why… Oh well.

    Exactly about the past. Sometimes it’s best left well alone, and you know some things are just not meant to continue, they’re just there for a time and that is how they roll. You never really know how situations will eventuate. I had a strong premonition that morning too. Not sure what it meant, but the premonition suggested that: It’s time. My old mate Alfie lives not far at all from a commenter here and I had a strong and unshakeable sense that I should introduce them. Dunno where that came from, but all the same it was there on the fateful morning.

    The Sir Richard Burton poem was stunning. I was floored. The guy was err, nonpareil. His command of language reminded me of the editors favourite uncle who died a year or two back. He was in his 90’s and had survived WWII, but he had a knack for music and languages. Some people do. He was an accomplished organ player for the military and the freemasons and heard things in music, well anyway it would have been like just another language for him.

    Curtains are a great idea and one I had not considered. People use shade cloth for that purpose and I guess I could have some on a roller. Hmm. There will be a further large vent on the rear gable end of the building. It should be fine. Maybe…

    Oh yeah, Limoncello has some kick and bite. You could say that it’s a bit toothy! 😉

    Thanks for the warning. Ruby is mischievous, but Plum is plain devious. Those two dogs are close to wild stock and it shows in their demeanour. Ollie by contrast is a true gentleman.

    Thanks and the robins are hard workers in the garden – that’s how they are plump! 🙂 Between the robins and fairy wrens insects rarely get much of a toehold in the garden.

    The bees have been out and about ever since the almonds first flowered, and maybe even before then. I spotted the first tiny apricots today. Yay! They’re my favourite stone fruit.



  5. Hi Chris,

    So very sorry to read of the loss of your good friend. It is so emotionally jarring when it is so unexpected. Thank you for writing about him. He seemed to be a fun and interesting guy.


  6. Hello Chris
    You have described a life and world that is completely alien to me. I think that I must have grown up on another planet.


  7. Yo, Chris – Go Tree Dudes! Wonder how long it will be before they start working for food and booze?

    Ah! The yoko situation. ‘Nough said. Got it in one. Can’t say that sort of thing comes to mind, as happening in my life. But, perhaps it’s because I’d tend to shrug, and get on with it. I do remember one pal, who, well, we were supposed to have one “guys” night out a week. Which was always thwarted by some emergency, concocted, at home. So, I just threw in the towel and moved on. Maybe I just had a low tolerance for plans spoiled, on a weekly basis? I don’t have time for this?

    Oh, yeah. Still at “other people’s tomatoes.” If they’re falling off the vine, I’m not letting them go to waste. Had a funny situation, yesterday. I had given H her bath, and we were sitting out to dry her out, at bit. To set the scene, I have a neighbor who has a daughter, who’s an on again, off again, junkie. Who has a hyperactive 5 year old. But the point of the story is, the daughter also has a “fiancee”, who’s quit a piece of work. The meth mouth is the tip off. Terrible dental problems, or, the lack thereof. Anyway, I’m sitting kind of out of the way, but with a clear view of the gardens. Here comes meth mouth, he stops and begins to make a lunge for the tomatoes. I yell “Oi!” Really, really loud. Caught him by surprise. “I was just looking.” Me: “Yeah, sure.” So, off he scuttles. But, on reflection, I know that by the time he reached my neighbors apartment, he’d dismissed the whole thing from his mind. Eleanor witnessed the whole thing, and we had a good laugh. She told me she reamed out the same group, the day before, for entering the building without masks.

    All the artists who are involved in “Art Trails”, also have a co-op gallery, in a downtown store front. Each one has two or three pieces of art, on offer. Don’t know how their doing, but the severe lockdown has been eased. I’ve never seen anything that grabbed my attention, but then, I only look through the window. I’d say, in general, “social distancing” in that space is not a problem 🙂 .

    Follow those premonitions. They usually do no harm, and often do a lot of good. Even though you may not know it. I usually refer to it as, “I felt called to …” Called by who or what, I know not.

    Mischievous and Devious. You don’t stand a chance 🙂 .

    Well, I chowed down on the stuff from Shona’s Cafe, yesterday. Hmmm. Mixed reviews. The lamb pastie was very good. Perfect crust. A goodly amount of tender pieces of lamb. Some kind of peppercorns? But not hot. Maybe, capers? I’m sure there was some onion, and maybe another veg. But I wasn’t paying attention. It wasn’t mint jelly, it was some kind of a mint sauce. Almost clear with pieces, of, I presume mint, floating around in it. A kind of sweet and sour, flavor. Went quit nice with the pastie, as long as I didn’t overdo it. The cheese and onion square, was a bit of a disappointment, unlike last time. A bit stale, I think. The top crust was very nice, but the bottom crust was so tough, I couldn’t cut it with a fork. So far, what I’m getting based on just two visits is … quality is uneven.

    I’m reading an interesting book, I got from the library. “The Innovation Delusion: How Our Obsession with the New Has Disrupted the Work That Matters Most.” (Vinsel and Russell, 2020). I’m just getting into it, but near as I can tell, they’re banging on about how the world is divided into two types of people. “Innovators” and “Maintainers.” They also differentiate the difference between true innovators, and people who just use “innovation-speak.” (New!!! Improved!!!).

    Of course, they’re primary target is the computer and tech world, but they promise to get onto such things as infrastructure. They’re also promising solutions, by the end of the book, but we’ll see. Might just be another “Ain’t it Awful”, screed. Lew

  8. Hi Chris,

    Condolences on the loss of your old mate.

    I’m sure he forgave you but he probably wouldn’t have forgiven me. The prudent crowandsheep thing to do would have been to first free up some room in the passenger seat after which three (or more) surfer ladies plus surfboards would have comfortably fit in for an enjoyable ride.

    Some years back someone once bemoaned to me about the lack of “characters” on the ground today so it is good to hear you had the pleasure of encountering even a couple (or more) of these rare specimens.


  9. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks very much for your kind words and understanding. I tell ya, that was one crazy day and I have not recounted the full story. On learning what happened I was trapped in the most awful of predicaments and um yeah truly crazy stuff. I have no doubts that his spirit was co-ordinating the ensuing mayhem from beyond. However it is also a solid reminder that life is a precious and fleeting thing.

    Mike was a real character, and he lived his life without concerns for the social niceties, but at the same time he was such a lovely and entertaining person with a sharp eye and an even razor sharp tongue. You can quote me here: If he was around, you would most certainly not be down. A dodgy attempt at rhyming on my part you have to admit, but you get the gist of the story.



  10. Hi Inge,

    At the back of my mind today I had your comment circling around and around the crawlspaces.

    Here’s the thing. As a very young adult, two very fascinating people with dubious backgrounds took me under their wing and not only showed me a world which I otherwise would not have seen – but that world is there all the same – but they also taught me how to navigate social circumstances with a practised ease that belies the reality.

    The world is a strange place, and courtesy of those two I am able to see social currents that would have been otherwise hidden from my understanding. Plus there was a certain learned fearlessness taught which I would never have learned.

    Sometimes people touch upon your life in ways that you’d never really have considered.

    Incidentally, it is possible to glide in other social worlds that are far from home. I believe that I understand where you are writing from, for you speak from my home too. The other place are worthy of keeping an eye upon as if you had an obstreperous dog asleep lying in the corner.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! There is a business which apparently operates a list of Willing Workers on Organic Farms as well as of course the host farms. The willing workers provide about six hours of labour five days per week in return for food and lodging, so your suggestion is in fact not that far fetched.

    However, given the long history here with the tree dudes, I doubt that the willing workers would work anywhere near as hard or as unsupervised as those guys do. It has seriously taken almost ten years to build up such a relationship of trust and understanding about what I’m trying to achieve here. And they get it now. Can you imagine how complicated it would be to attempt to reach that point where the person only had a few days on the farm? I’d struggle with that translation task, but it could be a personal failing. And gawd save us all from the ideas guy/gal who all they want to do is direct the activities and/or make endless helpful suggestions thus neatly avoiding actual physical work. Far out!

    You just kind of nailed the situation in one with the yoko. Mate it caused me a huge amount of pain at the time, and that is probably why I’m taking things pretty well now. I have been wondering about the why of that story. And yes, your thwarted guys night scenario was sort of what finished the friendship with Mat (sic) who I’d mentioned in the story. And just to add serious salt into the wound it all took place around the same time. But yeah, I exactly mirrored your response because how much time do you want to chuck at the situation. Exactly, my tolerance levels are likewise as low as yours. 🙂 Far out. Don’t you reckon it’s funny how these scenarios play out time and time again in different times and places?

    I applaud your approach to the tomatoes and would do no less. There was that time when I used to live next to a rather easily irritated and perpetually dissatisfied young lady who just happened to have a very old and well established apricot tree which she failed to pick – but at the same time whined loudly about to all and sundry about the falling fruit and fruit bats. Some people just can’t seem to recognise opportunity when it presents itself. Fortunately that problem was easily resolved.

    You’ve painted quite the picture with snaggle tooth ice man. Good on both you and Eleanor. Such folks generally shy away from escalating troubles for obvious reasons which should be spelled out: They have enough of their own troubles…

    Oh you are super cheeky! But I’m in a bit of awe at your clever word play. It is possible that the co-op might need to go online to access a wider market, or paint to the local market tastes. Somebody will be on the hock for that bricks and mortar store front.

    Dunno either, but I shall take your advice and hopefully it doesn’t end badly for me. I don’t know where this stuff comes from either, but the certain suggestion was there that morning. Can a person appreciate external insight without fully understanding the source? Dunno, there are plenty of things I have to accept and not understand at all so maybe that’s cool?

    Do you have any idea as to why the quality varied greatly from the initial purchase? For the price my thinking is that the business has factored in some wastage. Efficiency and quality are not usually companions on that food journey. At a wild guess, the cheese and onion square may have sat too long in the pie warmer to get that sort of a finish. It’s not good. I once encountered a pie where the filling had dehydrated and was like one of those archaeological digs where other than indications, there wasn’t much left. A truly revolting experience. My gut feeling suggests that the inconsistency might be a larger problem which they may overcome in time. I’d probably give one benefit of the doubt as most places can just have a bad day and you can be there all unlucky and stuff being on the receiving end.

    It’s a big call by the authors to divide the world into those two categories. By my reckoning, some people can’t do either of those activities and they possibly might fall into the ‘consumer’ category. Then there are those that can’t even manage any of those categories and they just want to see the world burn and a suggested name might be: ‘destroyer’. I look forward to whether the authors can suggest workable and affordable solutions to I’m not sure what the problem exactly is, but hope they have a clearer idea.

    Speaking of double speak, I listened to the youth news today and someone seriously was spruiking unproven energy ‘technology’ as an alternative to the actual stuff we can do today. Can’t say that I’m comforted by such wild talk.



  12. Hi crowandsheep,

    Thank you for the kind thoughts. 🙂

    Ooo. Like your style which could roughly be translated as: Mike-get-out-now, there is business to attend to! 🙂 Between you and I, it is actually very likely that Mike was thinking much the same thing about doing that to me. 🙂 Fortunately the vehicle had a manual gearbox and this undocumented vehicle feature is a notable deterrent to all sorts of mischief.

    They were characters alright. Lovely people and a whole bunch of fun. It was all chance encounters too. In the story I recounted that I had met them through Matt. Now Matt I went way way back and we used to walk to primary school together and were good mates. There’s a lot of just history there.

    How’s the autumn going for you?



  13. Hi Al,

    The facts speak for themselves in this case:

    A) I would love to blow some rocks up;
    B) The editor has a cooler head in such matters; and
    C) Circumstances and opinions can change. I cite the following evidence – The editor recently expressed regret that we had not indeed blown one particular rock up.




  14. Hello again
    I felt a bit guilty after my last comment as it gave a false suggestion about my life. The fact is that I never smoked, drank or partied as I was essentially solitary. But, my mother always expected me to be found somewhere in a gutter. I slept out in the summer alone in empty houses and in the woods from the age of 13. At 16 I still remember the exhilaration of running naked along the edge of a beach in Tangier my very long hair blowing in the wind. How’s that for an image! My mother never expected me to return home to the UK.
    I never got into any trouble at all but I was totally aware of the dangers in the world and probably as streetwise as it is possible to be.
    The only times when I was on the verge of trouble was when I was accompanied by an idiotic other which was something that I tried to avoid.
    So apologies for my previous comment.


  15. Yo, Chris – Ya just can’t get good help, these days. 🙂 . Eleanor has a helper / caregiver, who’s been with her for awhile. The helper’s husband is about to undergo some major surgery. And, as a side light, it’s taken awhile to get the surgery scheduled, because the spare part comes from, (ta-da!), Australia. A bit of a sleeve to wrap around an artery, so an aneurysm doesn’t blow out. The point of this story (there is a point) is that her helper will be gone a week. Eleanor could get a temporary substitute, but has decided against it, due to all the breaking in and training. Eleanor has supervised and trained many people, in her life, but, for such a short period of time, figures she can muddle through. Sometimes the “help” doesn’t justify the time and effort put in. The Tree Dudes and you have reached an understanding, as Eleanor and her helper have.

    The yoko syndrome. I seem to remember telling someone, somewhere, somewhen, along the way, to give me a call, after the divorce. No other details come to mind. Just that I said it, in a situation, like that.

    Well, I called the number for the mysterious Mr. Gilbert, this morning. Zilch. Nada. Nothing. Just dead air. Not even the decency of a “This number is no longer in service.” I asked the Master Gardeners, this morning, if they had heard of Mr. Gilbert. Both are life or long time county residents. It rang bells for one. She lives out toward Onalaska, which is close to Silver Creek. She said there’s a “lot of Gilberts” out that way. When I described the prints to her, she’s pretty sure she has seen the “Skeletons Flying Kites,” somewhere. She’ll think on it.

    I know it’s difficult, not to wonder about the sources of those psychic nudges. They are a bit freaky, but, you just have to roll with them. If nothing else, they always make for good stories. 🙂 .

    The two times I’ve been to the cafe for pies, it was on a Saturday morning. Perhaps I should try other days. But, at those prices, I’ll probably only be stopping by, once or twice a month.

    Well, here’s an interesting story about our wildlife.

    Seems obvious to me. The Cougar God wants an occasional offering, of tender young things. It’s not as if children aren’t thick on the ground. 🙂 .

    The authors of “The Innovation Delusion” see technology as just about everything man made, around us. Which, due to familiarity, we often don’t see as technology. What they’re thumping on about (at least to the point I’ve read) is innovation is all fine and good, but you can’t forget the maintenance and care. Of what you’ve got, before running off and adapting something and calling it “new.” Lew

  16. Chris,

    Catching up from last week maybe…We got no rain. However, the system DID clear out the smoke eventually. Some of the burning areas got just enough dripping on them to aid the firefighters who, at least in Washington, have gained a firm upper hand on things. Air quality has deteriorated from “Good” to the low end of “Moderate” today, which even as late as Saturday morning would’ve been a “clean break” from the thick smoke. Another system coming through that WILL bring some rain. Or so they say.

    My education appears to be lacking, as I’ve never seen “Spinal Tap”. However, having been around a lot of musos in the day, well, yeah, a lot of them seemed to be like that. Your link to the cricket bat? I need to see that movie. How many times recently have I at least somewhere deep inside wanted to grab a cricket bat and started whacking away on things? Although after work today I DO get to go outside and whack away on some limbs with an axe. 🙂

    The weather has definitely flipped from late summer to autumn. We’ll try one more of our carve at the park ventures, well separated but outdoors and visiting. After that, it will be too chilly for most people to just sit around without having some type of fire, which isn’t legal at the park.

    Objective press? No no no! That’s a concept that was brought to the fore (likely not the first time) when I was growing up. Our “free press” meant that it is supposed to be able to criticize government without fear of being imprisoned or worse. Most local newspapers always had a side to take, which often led to the creation of a competing newspaper to take the opposing view.

    One wonders about Scritchy…was she perhaps an incarnation of a dog that was one of the Stanley family’s favored hounds from circa 1485? She certainly followed the Stanley family battlefield process! Maybe the Stanleys learned that from observing their hounds?

    Agreed, those 10 minute plumbing jobs that wouldn’t be needed if they’d been designed correctly suck. Arg!

    My mate passed on Saturday. Won’t be attending his services. What we’ve been doing on the Rez, regardless of which Rez in this region, is that a few close family members can attend at the funeral home, others can stay in their cars. Ditto at the cemetery. “Participate from a distance”. Not the same, but better than not being there at all.

    The picture at the top of this week’s article, your mate in profile looks very much like a former BIG big boss I had. The front view not so much. However, he, too, was wired very differently than everybody else. Your mate sounds much more fun, however! The stories you wrote about him, as well as the oak of dubious (may I say dodgy?) origin you planted for him, well, you honored him well.

    The greenhouse is looking good. Hope your ventilation design works! It looks like it should. Ollie had the right idea to slink away from the hard labor.

    I note that there are 3 chokes in your photo. Are those the 3 chokes Artie got for $5?

    Skinks are a nice type of wildlife. They’re not poisonous. They can’t maul you do pieces. They’re cute and entertaining.

    That path lined with flowering cherries? That’s got to be a refreshing view every day. I’ve always liked it when the trees are blossoming.

    Well, work break is over.


  17. Hi Chris,

    Autumn proper looks to be upon us toward the end of the week and it is so long for another summer. It was a respectable passata season this year by my humble standards (>10 L) but I am sure worthier hobby farmers and supermodels would not even get out of bed for less than 10 L of passata. I may have utilized your recipe, which, if memory serves, consists of 80% tomato and the rest whatever worked.

    One technical question: How is Ollie going? If memory serves once more, did the home where you got him from suggest he was going to be difficult? Looks to be settling in fine from my perspective.

  18. Hi Chris
    I wrote an answer to the moby rock blasting problem but the comment disappeared into the ether.
    I detailed that the no blast decision occurred some time before my arrival to your blog. I would have suggested seeking info from friendly neighbor’s who may have had experinces with similar rocks. Or checked with local licensed blasters and mentioned using blast protection matting to guard the house from debris. Modern blasting offers lower energy options. Another presently available method would be to use a bigger pneumatic hammer drill. Yours looks to be a 35 ft pound rating. you can get manually held air operated rental with trailer mounted Compressors that run hammers That are much more powerful. Here There are companies that sell and work with large rocks.
    Let me see if this goes thru.
    Cheers Al

  19. Hi Chris,

    That’s a lovely eulogy to Mike. I was practically in the car with you both with the wind blowing in my “hair” watching the surfer girls disappear in the rearview mirror. I think the Mikes of this world are very important to break us out of our monotony and introduce a bit of randomness into proceedings. The best moments are usually the ones that happened purely by accident and it sounds like Mike gave you plenty of those.


  20. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all, and many thanks for the story. Wow! Mothers I have noticed tend to be concerned about their offspring even when said offspring are doing very well. It seems to be something that comes with the territory. 🙂 The editor’s mother, who was a very lovely lady, was also rather fond of regularly verbally sharing her concerns for the editor – a lot. I can still hear her voice today after all these years. Given that like you, we too live in a wild locale, her mother if alive would be no doubt still be sharing such anxieties. Your mother would probably do no less for you!

    Like you I have never smoked and it is worth mentioning that one of my older sisters went right off the deep end with drugs, so I didn’t need to be told a second time as to the potential downsides of such things and so avoided them like the plague. I reached a nice middle ground with alcohol but had to go off the rails as a young bloke in order to get to that place.

    Respect. It is so rare to find people who do their own thing and baulk at the dominant narrative, but then, like you mentioned with the street-smarts, learning such skills involves surviving the risks whilst being able to learn to see the hazards floating around simply waiting to trip you up. All the while the enduring spirit of Myrddin returns again and again. Ever was it thus and clearly you are infused with such.

    I’ll tell you a funny story, I recall getting into serious trouble as a kid when I stupidly asked for permission to head off an adventure into the city. A foolish move on my part, especially given I had never thought to do so before that time. Bizarrely, and I tend to believe that this touches upon the gentle art of responsibility, in that it is a truism that it is better to seek forgiveness than seek approval.

    Years ago we considered going to Morocco, and you were lucky to have done so whilst it was possible. 🙂 The world has changed, but to be candid it was I who pulled the rug out from under the overseas adventures. Life seemed plenty full of adventure at home.

    No need to apologise as I have always delighted in your words. 🙂



  21. Hi Al,

    Ah, please forgive me! The system here is far from perfect. As you would know, the metal perfectium is also found in the delightful land known as unobtanium. What a hassle and I tell you truly this: I read your lovely comment and then accidentally deleted it… Sorry! 🙂 All my fault.

    And yes, the no blast decision occurred back in 2009. My mates of the big shed fame had to blast a huge quantity of rock from their house site and it looked like a lot of fun. 🙂 It is on a video which I tried to link to, but is behind a utoob (sic) paywall unfortunately. All depends on whether you are happy to pay to watch the 50 minutes of footage, and the editor and I are in there too. How ironic is that given that we don’t watch TV?



  22. Hi crowandsheep,

    10L is a fine quantity of passata production. Glad to hear that the autumn rains and weather are arriving. Autumn I have noted is sometimes like a mini and brief spring. Not sure I even got that close last year to your passata production due to lack of tomatoes, which is a very disturbing turn of events. But has also led to the construction of the greenhouse project. It is a universally known truth that a gentleman can learn from his mistakes. Yes, I’d like to believe that I’m a gentleman. Hehe!

    Memory is foggy, but the original passata recipe may have been derived from Jo in the city of Launceston who is a sometimes commenter.

    Thanks for asking, and Ollie is doing really well and possibly he is the actual gentleman of the household as his behaviour cannot be besmirched. Can’t really say that he has needed the doggie therapy that the shelter offered. And to be candid I have since wondered whether the shelter folks actually know much ado about dogs. Dunno.



  23. Hi DJ,

    Glad the recent weather system reduced the smoke. However, reading the recent essay over at the good Professor’s blog I note that your state is due an atmospheric river (or two) over the next few days. The imagery was superb, and um yeah, hope that you only get the edges of such a beast over on the eastern side of the hills. Yes, WILL should be capitalised as all such things are subject to change and with no notice. The next few days look a bit wet here too, so hopefully we can finish the greenhouse project tomorrow. Maybe…

    An axe is a touch handier than a cricket bat, but possibly lead to less coronial and other inquiries by the locale constabulary. You never really want to be described in the media as assisting such folks with their inquiries. Muso’s, yes I’ve known a few such folks, and you will notice the reference to a band in the story. It was a subtle reference, but there all the same. One of the guys was in a slightly successful band at one stage, and I really liked the guy except he had an ego the size of a whale. At parties he used to conduct a Séance whilst having this awful trick of grinding his teeth. The sound of enamel scraping on enamel was err, toothy and unforgettable.

    I do hope that the limbs were not injured when they met the gentle ministrations of the axe?

    That is the thing about outdoor events. I have heard interesting talk of solutions to such things today.

    Interesting and you were very lucky to have seen competing viewpoints in the media. Dunno, but at a wild guess journo’s might be fearful for their jobs nowadays. Our government has begun moves to make the two major tech giants Gargle and Faceplant pay for their news content, which to date they appear to be getting for free. Many local mastheads have bitten the dust of late.

    Oh those Stanley’s. I see that the Wikipuke entry suggests that: “The Stanley family later fabricated a Norman origin, at the time more prestigious than an English one, by pushing Ligulf back in time . A fine move.

    Sorry to hear of the passing of your mate, and may he rest in peace. The car solution on the rez is a very neat solution. However, that is right out and not possible here. 10 people. No more, no less. Blame my mischievous sense of humour but I’d hope that the deceased is not included in that count. The funeral directors would be. Weddings, funerals and religious services in Victoria

    Mike was a fun guy, although when he required, he was serious indeed, but he knew people. The oak seedling, well there is a story there…

    Thanks about the greenhouse and I’m hoping to get it completed tomorrow.

    And Artie is always correct in these matters! 🙂 Hope he doesn’t choke whilst laughing at his own jokes – mate, that’s something I’d do!

    The cherry trees are lovely and each year they put on a better show. They just like the conditions here and I note that if given half a chance, the trees would no doubt take over the entire mountain range. It would look nice. They self seed prolifically.




  24. Hi Lewis,

    It is funny you say that about good help these days, but I had a discussion about such matters earlier in the day. And some good appears to have come from the discussion. I feel good about this outcome. Others may feel differently and I accept that. But oh yeah, it’s a truth universally acknowledged that a temp-fill-in person can hardly be expected to perform the same tasks that a competent person can, despite expectations to the contrary. Eleanor is correct, and hope you’ll be able to assist her during this time.

    Your neat response to the yoko problem was both amusing and pithy. The thing is, did you ever hear from the person again? Sometimes peoples sense of difficulty in wanting to address their earlier poor decisions kind of gets in the way of repairing the past and the current times. I’d be curious as to your thoughts on the subject, but to me I’ve noticed a sense of: If I don’t acknowledge X problem, I never have to suffer the loss that arose as a result. And also there is that little pesky problem about not making the same mistake a second time around, but that requires prior acknowledgement of the problem.

    When looking through the old photos for this weeks blog I came across a photo of an old mate who suffered occasional bouts of lying. It was a disturbing thing to encounter that behaviour, and whilst it never had any impact upon me, I noted that other people were impacted by the occasional bouts of lies the guy spouted. It was interesting to see all that playing out, and um yeah. Anyway, I went to his engagement party once and just didn’t bother purchasing a present based on my gut feelings of what the future held in store. Turns out I was correct in my guess too. Not sure whether it was hours or days, but it wasn’t long at all. Oh no. I was wrong, no now that I recall, he was the bloke who pinched my identity when he got into trouble with the police for speeding in his car. Actually I was really super annoyed by that act and it was a devil of a problem to fix. What a rotter.

    Mate, I’m starting to sound as if I have a huge body count of ex-friends trailing along behind me, but I’d like to believe that this is just par for course with life. Maybe… I guess some people avoid such troubles by having been taught good lessons by their parents. Perhaps such people make new and interesting mistakes? Alas, the school of hard knocks is what fills in the gaps when parents are not so good. At least I know what to do nowadays when encountering trouble. Hard lessons learned all those ones.

    Did the phone simply ring out? Hopefully, the esteemed artist is not deceased and being consumed by his pet Bull Arab? Actually, Ollie is lovely and would never do such a thing, the two kelpie girls on the other hand… Hope your contacts turn up something on the artist. You’re doing the detective work by simply asking questions. Did you ever consider such work when you were younger?

    Thanks for the advice on the psychic nudge, and I will roll and see where the dice ends up.

    That’s the thing about such a food place. You sort of have to know their routines so that you can make the best call about when to purchase. To be frank, at such prices (and I note that food is usually far cheaper in your country) it is probably not good enough, sorry to say. The gourmet pie place I frequent has a magic cooker which can take the pie from frozen to crispy toasty deliciousness within about five minutes. It’s black magic of the darkest stripe and the pies come out of that machine as if they had been slow cooked in the oven. Dunno what that machine is and how it works, but it sure would use a lot of electricity! But it also works and reduces their food wastage considerably because the produce can be made, frozen and then reheated to match demand thus eliminating the quality problems you encountered. Do they do frozen take away? You can control the defrosting and reheating that way.

    The return of everyday encounters with wildlife is all part of the slow decline.

    Hehe! Oh you are like totally super bad! Respect. 🙂 I read an amusing line from the author Jeff Lindsay who penned the excellent Dexter series (bit of a fan), where he suggested that one ‘never sees abandoned Bentley’s’ before making a similar and unflattering comparison similar to the one you made, although I’m not really sure what he was talking about. 😉

    The authors have a fine point in relation to maintenance and care of stuff. And yes it is not lost on me that technology is everywhere. A stainless steel fork with which to eat a gourmet pie is technology, I get that. Do the authors dare suggest that people can pick and choose what technology that they burden themselves with?



  25. Hi Simon,

    Hehe! Glad you enjoyed the story, and Mike gave me heaps about that incident. It was a beautiful summers day too, early January and the sun bites your skin and the warm air flowed through the open roof. Grunge music was definitely involved. Alas, the loss was real. I had this ratty blue rip curl cap at the time too. I loved that cap as it had serious mojo, but due to excess wear it was a bit err, lived in looking. Other people may call that by some other name such as, filthy. But the blue cap had mojo. Lost the cap at a TISM gig whilst deep in the mosh pit. It seemed like a fitting end. The Hoodoo Guru’s played afterwards and it was a great gig, but the blue cap was alas long gone where all such things lost in mosh pits go. Mike and the gang were all there too. Nobody mourned the loss of the blue cap, oh well.

    Great point. Yeah, of course. Randomness. I guess whenever you step away from the well trod path of the dominant narrative, you’re by the very act in uncertain waters and who knows where the tides will take you. Interesting. Thanks.

    Have you encountered such people? And more importantly did you have fun?



  26. Yo, Chris – Well, our weather took a turn. Pouring rain and blowing. And, rain in the forecast, for as long as the forecast goes. Autumn rains are here! Well, what do you know. The Autumn Equinox, was yesterday. I also noticed a scrawl at the bottom of my calendar page. Last year, we got our first light frost on the 28th. And, the next week, we had 5 days of hard frost. But that was a El Nino year, which this year isn’t. Not that I’ve worked out any pattern in the El’s and La’s and frosts. 🙂 .

    Actually, 9 of my 12 years at the library, I was, to all intents and purposes, a temp worker. The basics were all pretty much the same, but I had to figure out each individual branches quirks. Their “culture.” LOL. Actually, I was more concerned with which branches had the best tucker and nosh, in their staff rooms. 🙂 . Some branches were food deserts. Others were quit lavish, between the staff bringing in “goodies” (sometimes home made) and customers bringing in stuff. The holidays could be particularly lush.

    Oh, I’m sure Eleanor and I will muddle through. I can do any light shopping. She does have her daughter, around, so she can cover the more intimate things.

    Hmm. Did I hear from that person, again? Probably not. Other than the comment, all other details are lost in the mists of time. Completely different incident, but once I was invited to a wedding. Now, this couple had never invited me to dinner, or, to one of their parties. I was in the Tat Trade, at the time, and I really think they were angling for an “instant heirloom.” It was an RSVP. So, I wrote a very polite note back, sending my regrets. But I couldn’t attend as I had a previous engagement in Portland, to do something … well, something that I can’t go into the details of on a family friendly blog. Let’s just say a blow-out with a rather “Roman” theme. 🙂 .

    Oh, I think having a body count of ex-friends, is pretty much a function of age. And, what we talked about before. People change. And, looking back, I think we all had “friendships” we wish we hadn’t allowed, or encouraged. Lessons learned, indeed.

    Nope. The phone call didn’t ring out. There was nothing there, at all. Just “dead air”, as they call it in the radio biz. Can’t say I ever had a conscious thought to be a detective, but, I sure read and watched a lot of mysteries. Still do. But I’ve always been intensely curious about people and situations. Here’s a good one.

    A couple of nights ago, I was taking some garbage out, about 2am. Three helicopters flew over The Institution. Couldn’t tell if they were military, or something else. It was a clear night, but they came in really low. And the noise! Really rattled the windows. The last helicopter dropped something. A small flashing red beacon, cable, and something small on the end. It drifted behind our digs, and probably into the forest park land. Now what in the heck was that? Whatever it was, it gave me a very weird feeling.

    Now, if I was given to conspiracy theories … There’s been one around, for decades. It runs something like, the black UN helicopters are going to land Chinese troops to enslave the populace. (See the film, “Red Dawn.” Either version. But the film didn’t create the conspiracy theory. It was inspired by it.). We are nothing else but inventive, over here. 🙂 . Which reminds me. I saw an interesting statement, the other day. “The American mission statement is, “No one is going to tell me what to do.” They ought to inscribe that, on our money.

    Hmmm. Frozen food take away? Not that I’m aware of. But then, I do so little take away. But, the grocery store has an aisle, with every kind of frozen food, imaginable. Full meals you can take home and nuke.

    Well, maybe that will be one of the author’s solutions. Here’s a bit that caught my eye. “Yet, as we have seen, most human activity centers on using technologies, not creating them. Stories of our everyday interactions with the material world have largely gone untold.” My thought is, we don’t hear about those things, unless something goes disastrously wrong.

    At the point I am now (early days … pages?) they’re talking about maintenance, and how most people would rather not think about it. They just want their stuff to work, and work, forever. They’re talking about “deferred maintenance.” Which is maintenance postponed, either due to lack of money (my thought: or lack of expertise?) or interest.

    On-line auction, this afternoon. So do I really “need” a pair of old cast iron bookends, of Rodin’s “Thinker?” Or, another set of trumpeting elephants? Not that I already have either. 🙂 . Lew

  27. Hello again
    Tangier wasn’t actually part of Morocco at the time. I think that it was a city on its own. It became part of Morocco 5 years later. I did do a thorough tour of Morocco many years later and really loved the country and the people.
    Absolutely agree with the fact that it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.
    We have finally got rain thank goodness, long may it last as then I can give up watering the veg. for the remainder of the year.


  28. Hi, Chris:

    What a charming – and fun – tribute to your friend Mike. I am sorry that he is gone, but you were so very, very lucky to have known him and to have such memories.

    That is the first time that I have encountered “floordrobe”; thanks, that’s a useful one. Don’t get carried away and keep Mike’s oak tree too neat; at least let the acorns lie around a bit.


  29. Hi Chris,

    As you’ve described him, Mike reminds me a bit a bloke I used to be friends with, Zed. In our case, it wasn’t so much that we drifted apart as had an acrimonious parting. Long story.

    Anyway, Zed was fun to hang around with as he had major insecurities with the opposite sex which he made up for by massively overcompensating and putting on a big, braggadocious front. The advantage of that was that he was always introducing himself, and by extension me, to girls at bars and clubs.

    One year by pure chance, we both happened to be in China at the same time and met up for a weekend in Chengdu during which time he managed to organise dates with two of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen (not at the same time, obviously!). The women in Chengdu are known for their beauty even in China and I can certainly vouch for that. It still makes me laugh to think of that weekend because Zed was doing his usual hugely self-conscious routine that I’d seen fail so many times before but because of the language/cultural barrier, the Chengdu girls just seemed to find it funny and charming. Meanwhile, the other three of us completely lucked out. A fact which Zed would not hesitate to remind us of. Nevertheless, that was a very fun weekend.


  30. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, indeed happy autumnal equinox! It ain’t just your part of the world where the weather has suddenly turned. Oh my. It was not meant to rain here much this evening, but far out over half an inch has fallen already and tomorrow looks like what I’d describe as a ‘wash out’: Polar air reaches Australia. I’m starting to seriously worry about this summer and just how wet it may get… El Nino this year fo’ sho’! 🙂 That particular weather website has the best satellite imagery. Thus proving I’m a sucker for good photography.

    Do you know that down here, if you are a casual employee for over 12 months you are entitled to be placed on the permanent payroll? Things are different elsewhere and 9 years is part of the furniture as far I’m concerned. But I can’t dispute the central tenet of your business food thesis, and yup I too have so noticed just how different one workplace from another can be. A culture of giving within reason, is not a bad culture at all.

    It’s good that Eleanor’s daughter can assist through the time of muddling. My mates of the big shed fame recently asked me the hard question as to just how long do I think we can hold out here as we get older. It is possible I’ll have to bring in younger outsiders sooner or later to take over, but then that really is what the ye oldie timey apprenticeship system was about.

    Yes, you mentioned that the details are lost to time, and it is a great saying says he busy memorising it. 🙂 Wow, that’s some cheek to try and extract tat trade booty. And a fine reply too. 😉 Things are strange down here, as I heard a serious but also odd discussion on the radio today about gubomorment limitations of the number of dancers at weddings. It sounded like a really strange requirement, and I guess if it looks strange, and sounds strange, it probably is strange…

    Thanks, and I was feeling a bit like maybe it was just me with the body count of ex-friends. Other people seem to have little troubles on that score, but then in quiet moments of honest reflection such people have told me stories of difficulties. Maybe like you say it is a truism that some things just change, and you can make bad calls from time to time.

    Hmm, the editor once considered working as a spy as they were recruiting way back in the day and it sure beat unemployment during the early 90’s. She changed her mind and went off and did something else with her time. I saw the other day that they were recruiting again. What a bizarre job it would have been. I tell ya, accounting forces subtle changes on your personality, and plenty of jobs do that trick, but I do wonder if a successful technique for the work of a detective is to be able to compartmentalise or even forget the day job? The things you would see in the job would affect your faith in your fellow humans. Dunno. Does working in a library affect upon your personality?

    Ooo. Yeah that would give me a creepy feeling too. Sometimes during summer, helicopters do low fly overs of the farm and surrounding forest with infra red sensors looking for fires. Not to be disrespectful, but whenever that happens I think of Apocalypse Now and say to the editor, just like back in ‘nam. You can feel the copters coming in from miles away well before you can see or hear their engines. I tell you this – the quiet from the sheer lack of large aircraft flying overhead has been a very good thing.

    Unfortunately the nobody telling you what to do thing with the money would work just fine if you weren’t sending those bits of paper overseas. The Japanese have had that trick down pat for quite a while, but relented a bit recently. Not sure that was a good thing.

    No, I don’t do take away either. Despite the recent pizza and dark ale take away fest due to the health subject which dare not be named. I was recounting the story this evening to a lady who asked me about it, and remarked that standards had indeed dropped and we were just dealing with 1’C / 34’F weather and sleet and still doing the take away pizza and dark ale business.

    Speaking of technology, the gas extraction story down here ties up nicely to that particular sentiment expressed in the book. We’ve become reliant on natural gas so as to extract the nitrogen fertilisers. What happens if we run low or out of natural gas? Most of the arrangements are established to suggest that they’ll go on forever, but finite resources are finite no matter how you try to spin them.

    It is also funny you say that about maintenance. We had a failed airline down here years and years ago. My neighbour at the time who was a pilot for the surviving airline, suggested that just prior to the collapse the failed business had neglected maintenance. Hmm.

    Book ends are useful, but I feel the need to point out that a herd of trumpeting elephants could crush your entire book collection. You were warned! So don’t blame me when you take on exotic pets and it all goes haywire! 🙂

    Mate, it is raining cats and dogs outside. I took Ollie out to go to the toilet and he bravely faced the rain. The two girls did their best dodge act and may not have gone… How long can they hold on is an important question to which I might discover the answer. Far out the rain just got heavier if that is at all possible.



  31. Hi Inge,

    My understanding of African history is not good. That part of the world would have been an amazing place to visit back in the day. Please note the use of the caveat ‘back in the day’. We stopped travelling far many years ago because things are not what they once were. Out of curiosity, did you travel south through France and Spain to get there? It would have been fascinating.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that forgiveness is indeed simpler to achieve than the dark art of permission seeking! 🙂

    I was thinking about your story, and it occurred to me that I too ran wild as a kid and rarely, if ever did I ask for permission. Instead I understood what the basic requirements of me were and then went off and did my own thing. This is not a whinge, but a general statement of my mindset of late, the restrictions placed on me due to the health subject which dare not be named are seriously chafing at my collar, like the wolf observed of the dog in Aesop’s tale.

    Also it is interesting, but we are now in a time where if asked people provide a publicly accepted response, but in private the things I’m being told are otherwise.

    Good stuff that you finally got the rain that your garden needed. It is absolutely bucketing down here right now. Too much rain is as bad as too little rain.



  32. Hi Pam,

    Thank you very much for the lovely words. And yup, some people explode into your life, make an impact, and then like the doppler waves of the explosion they again retreat. Nothing is forever, like err, unfixed Mr Dumpy’s! 🙂 (hope the project is going well) However, as you rightly say, it is a real pleasure to have known the people. Mike and Tony taught me how to talk total rubbish with the best of them. There are times that this useful skill has come in handy, and some friends have noted that I am able to ‘sing for my supper’.

    Years ago I worked for a very wealthy bloke and he once casually introduced me to a genuine Lord from Inge’s part of the world. Without Mike and Tony I would have been rather socially intimidated, but no. Oh, G’day mate, pleased to make your acquaintance. I’m sure he thought I was an idiot, but other people have likewise formed such opinions – and they’d be wrong! 😉

    It’s a handy term the floordrobe. The editor used to have a mate who also was fond of the floordrobe. Hope that you are not involved with that state of care of clothing? Anyway at the risk of offending you, I have noticed that people who utilise a floordrobe, well lets just say that the mindset extends to other parts of their lives.

    With such a pedigree, that oak tree is going to be one big messy tree. However the shade it casts and the acorns it provides will be of great benefit to the surrounding country.



  33. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the story. Mate, anyone with the name Zed is bound to be an interesting and entertaining character. 🙂 How cool is that name too, it’s like having the name Rufus, or something like that?

    But yeah, sorry to hear that the parting was acrimonious. That’s tough, and been there and done that, although not for many a year now. Like sands through the hourglass, time has taught me some minor diplomacy skills. 🙂

    The rain has been torrential here for a few hours now. It’s very wet outside.

    Zed does sound like fun, and kind of handy. It’s actually a real skill to be able to ‘break the ice’ as it used to be so politely phrased. There is a real subculture out there who relentlessly practices such things, and I read about them years ago. I can’t recount the exact details of a story here because it is very family unfriendly, but a long time ago I happened to notice one such person (let’s be candid here, they’re mostly guys) who was practising out the front of the local supermarket. I just looked at him, did a double take, had a WTF moment, and then just gave him my best: ‘you’re an idiot look’. Pah, they love the attention. Best not feed the beast is the wisest course of action.

    Thanks very much for the Chengdu story. Yup, such stuff is the stuff of legend, and it is nice to have been involved in such a story. Zed is like, super bad! Hehe! So I did a Gaargle search on the subject matter, and I heard a story years ago that somewhere in Gaargle HQ they have a screen which randomly pops up particular searches. Makes you wonder what they’d think of that particular search… 🙂 Sure it was for research purposes for the blog, they’d probably say.



  34. Yo, Chris – That is really an interesting picture, of the polar air encroaching on Australia. And the clear line of dusk/night, sweeping across the continent. We got over an inch of rain, yesterday. Walking H was problematic. Generally, I just tucked her under my arm, like a football, whisked her out, did the deed, and retreated, post haste. Still got drenched. 🙂 . My Ukrainian tomatoes are showing a bit of color … and, promptly rotting. Interesting color. A kind of red/purple. Oh, well, At least I’ll be able to save seed. Might try drying some. Even green.

    Employment laws here, are a real hodgepodge. Some State laws, some Federal. Some companies (ever rarer) are more generous. If you weren’t a “permanent” employee at the library, you never got any benefits like health insurance or paid vacation. Holidays. But if you worked over 23 hours a week, after three years you could access the State retirement system. Which I did, much to the chagrin of Human Resources. 🙂 . There have been several court cases, here, (most notably the UPS delivery service) that went in favor of the employee. Employees who worked almost full time, for years, that received no benefits. Or, pay increases.

    Sounds like your mates in The Big Shed, are wondering about their own longevity, on the land. Here, at least in some periods, there was an idea that old farmers and their wives, would “retire to town.” Hopefully leaving the farm in the hands of one or two children. But, every situation was different. We recently had a case where an old guy who had extensive berry farms, left the business to his two sons. Who could not get along. It ended up in court, and a judge had to figure out how to split the farms and business.

    Let me be clear, the “Roman event” was pure fiction, to wiggle out of the wedding invite.

    Hmmm. How did the library affect my personality? Well, I’d say just about every job I’ve had has made me more and more sour on the quality and intelligence of the public … and, my co-workers. The good ones just amplified how truly awful, the rest were. No wonder I needed five years in the wilderness, to recover some sense of equilibrium. Five years here at the Institution, and I’ll probably need another five year break. 🙂 .

    I saw just a headline, about three Australian aluminum plants, that are going begging for energy. We have quit a few aluminum plants, here in the Pacific Northwest, as our hydro power keeps them ticking along. I think the headline mentioned your plants were gas fired.

    Well, I didn’t get either pair of bookends. When the auction opened, the elephants were already bid up to more than I was willing to pay. Someone kept bidding against me, for “The Thinker(s).” Down to the last minute and a half, I kept getting outbid. When it hit the price that was slightly more than I’d pay on E-Sell, I dropped out. There are two sets, there. But, instead of buying those, I finally bit the bullet and ordered 25 pounds of dried cranberries. I like to mix them in my oatmeal with the blueberries. Put them in mufins. Makes the blueberries go further, and, I figure double barreled antioxidants, almost daily, can’t be a bad thing. Besides, they taste good 🙂 .

    The first seller I looked at, was the cheapest, but, they wanted me to go through the song and dance of “creating an account.” Nope. Not going there. The second, slightly more expensive, allowed me to just buy the things, and get on my way. With the shipping, it came to $4 a pound.

    I keep forgetting to mention, Ruth Goodman has come out with a new book. “The Domestic Revolution: How the Introduction of Coal into Victorian Homes Changed Everything.” It’s on my NEW!! IMPROVED!!! hold list. Lew

  35. Chris,

    There was no atmospheric river here. Seattle? Perhaps a river ran through it, but it was more of a brook here. But we did get about 4.5mm of rain. We might get that much again on Friday due to the 2nd atmospheric brook. We are 20% below normal for the October 1 to September “rain year”, so anything is more than welcome. And the air is clean and breathable.

    Our cell phones, of the dumb phone variety, were 3G, which is quickly disappearing. Coverage even in our home was spotty, so on Monday we upgraded to 4G. Smart phones. Oy, these are a pain in the elbow to figure out. But the customer service is excellent from the local store, and they have helped us both over the phone and on visits back for help. They are about a kilometer away. I miss the dumb phones, though. Because they were dumb, there was a slight chance that I could outsmart them. Not so easy with these smart ones.

    Grinding teeth during a séance? Seriously? Sorta ruins the atmosphere doesn’t it?

    I didn’t need to do much with the axe, as the limbs were those I’d sawn down weeks ago and were dead when that happened. Brittle and broke easily. Anticlimactic, if you ask me, as I was looking forward to pretending I was hacking heads off orcs with each swing of the axe. Very therapeutic, that. 😉

    Journos have been losing jobs for so long that it’s a wonder that anybody majors in that in university now. There are a LOT of independent journos now who start writing and putting things online under the name of some new “newspaper”. If it could guarantee me a press pass to events I’d want to attend, well, maybe starting some online news thing called “Princess Prints the DJ” or something.

    I can still find multiple sides to the news when I want. Getting something useful is a different matter, but reading various sources from different slants works sometimes. It’s a matter of figuring out the journo’s slant, then wading through piles of drek to find a kernel of actual event, then comparing with the versions of other journos. One of our teachers in high school actually tried to teach us to do that.

    Funny, funny Stanleys. The fabrication didn’t work, as I’ve heard that everyone knew their ancestry anyhow, as the name was a dead giveaway. Not that it was making a difference by the late 15th century. Heck, due to their archery prowess, both the Lancastrians and the Yorkists liked allying with leading Welsh families, so a family with Saxon ancestry that had intermarried with Normans for a few centuries had ceased to be a big deal, especially if they were good fighters, could bring a large contingent , and were loyal and trustworthy… Ooops. Richard III forgot about that loyalty thing WRT the Stanleys and Rhys ap Thomas from Wales, who historians think slew him even though he was a “trusted” ally of the Yorkists.

    That’s pretty strict criteria for funerals and weddings, both of which I view as being necessary. Our governor just eased our guidelines for both, but they’re nowhere near what used to be. I imagine the Princess, her brother and I will continue to do the car thing.

    The Princess picked up a box of Bartlett pears and about 2 dozen bell peppers of various colors. I still have half a box of Fuji apples to dry and a box of honeycrisps. We’ll save some of the honeycrisps and pears for fresh eating, eat some of the bell peppers. And I’ll pickle some of the bell peppers and maybe dry a few. Variety is the spice of something, right?

    Oh, yes, our governor and apples. There are laws in this state regulating the transport of fruit. Taking homegrown tree fruit out of one’s own county is forbidden. Signs everywhere. By law, no apples, even commercially grown, can be transported from west of the Cascades to the east side. Something about an apple maggot. So, as a gesture of solidarity with some of the communities gutted by the fires, the governor brought some western Washington apples to the east side. They were infected with the maggot. He is now being called “Johnny Applemaggot”.


  36. Hello again
    Our hot summer has finally ended, I woke to 46F and shivered.
    While aware that Morocco is part of the African continent, I had never thought of it as African before. The population is not black so it is better described as Middle Eastern.
    It was a trip by ship from London to Gibraltar then ferry to Tangier. For the return, a car was bought in Gibraltar with money obtained from changing Guatemalan gold coins in Tangier. I understood that Tangier was the international hub for this sort of thing.
    Petrol was very cheap in Gibraltar and enough was bought for the entire trip home. The memory of that car absolutely packed with petrol cans makes me flinch now.
    It was an 8 day trip up the Spanish Mediterranean coast and then straight up through the centre of France. The Spanish road was terrible and we got lost at one point and ended up in a village where a vehicle had never been seen before. The AA had given us a route map which entertained the Gibraltarians as the road mentioned was under the sea. Camped in fields at night. My companion on the trip was my Gibraltarian boyfriend.
    I was still at school and was a week late for the start of term. Had written to my mother, so perhaps she told them that I was sick. We weren’t a family with a telephone.


  37. Hi Lewis,

    The Japanese satellite photos around the equinox on the website link were rather impressive. And the polar air morphed into a minor blizzard this afternoon. The snow settled on the ground and despite having experienced heavier snow falls (the one two years back was notable), this time the snowflakes (not the human sort, but the stuff that falls from the sky) were larger than I’d ever previously seen. Fun stuff and the camera, editor, dogs and I all frolicked about in the late September snow. Bonkers weather for this time of year, and may seriously impact upon the fruit harvest. Oh well, you make plans and then nature decides otherwise, that’s life. Despite all that, the snow was fun as! The flower photos this week will all be flowers-in-snow images. 🙂

    And like your part of the world, an inch of rain fell over the farm during the previous evening. H is of a noble breed and your actions prove that her feet are too precious to touch the ground during such extreme weather. I note that Plum was likewise reluctant to venture out into the rain and I was surprised to discover that she had not left a puddle of urine anywhere over night. Talk about bladder of steel…

    Yeah, I hear you about the drenching and like you I was also performing a good imitation of a drowned rat after having dewatered the three dogs in the pouring rain late at night. To my dismay, two of dogs did what they were required to do. Plum is like an international canine of mystery.

    As an interesting difference, those varieties of tomatoes down here are described not as a Ukrainian variety, but as “black Russian tomatoes” and nobody blinks twice about the name, no doubt the name change in your country was something of a nod to your local culture! Strange days, my friend, strange days. My experience with the black-red tomato varieties is that they do best in really hot and sunny seasons. We grew and harvested a few last summer and have done better in previous much warmer years, but I don’t really know whether the effort is worth it. Out of curiosity how did they taste? Where they any better than the other tomatoes which struggled to ripen? Strangely enough, the yellow mid-sized cherry tomatoes are the best of the lot in my climate. Over the years I’ve been selecting for larger varieties, but we’ll see.

    Ah, ’tis a truth universally acknowledged that HR is there to represent the interests of the employer and possibly not the employee. There is a built in conflict of interest with those folks as they receive their pay-check from the employer, so that should be something of a red flag. But nice work on your part working the system. 😉 One has to know the system in order to be able to work the system. Honestly, the tide of opinion may possibly have turned against UPS because the company may possibly have taken things too far. The temptation to exploit is always there in our culture, and it takes a strong person to take a wider view. In small business I get no paid leave, but then my working week accommodates this fact and I make no bones about it with people. Of late I have had to remind several people who were pushing at my boundaries that I have had only a single entire week off any work within the past three years. It’s a sobering reminder to people who enjoy well defined perquisites, but I have chosen and organised my life around that possibility. But I tell you without those limitations fixed in place, a person could get overwhelmed – I can see that.

    In other news, I’ve talked the editor into obtaining a large wood chipper machine. We’re working with the tree dudes more now and during summer we have to sort something out with the small leaves and branches which we can’t burn at that time. Of course the reality is that we could burn during that time on carefully selected days, but the law is the law and I respect that blanket rule to save us from idiots who know not what they do. So yeah, wood chipper. I went to the farm machine repair guys and they have a second hand machine which they can maintain and I can trial. How good is that? So yeah, we’ll give the machine a go in a week or two and see how it works. We have to do something in order to adapt to the workload.

    Farmers retiring to town was a thing here too. But of course the difficulty arises when a number of children of the farmer are seeking a slice of the assets without perhaps partaking in the work. Therein lies the devil in the detail, and succession plans are rarely organised ahead of time because that means that losses have to be accepted prior to the losses being realised. It is no different really to gubarements who fail to plan for decline. Same, same, but different. They don’t want to be the bad guy and so they pussyfoot around and then life intervenes and something works out. I see people hanging on too tightly, and they are in pain. Not my mates of the big shed fame, but other people. But yes, my mates were likewise raising this question with me as perhaps they were considering it. It is an interesting question that’s for sure.

    Yes, yes, of course I realised that the Roman event was but a joke. I got that concept yesterday. Subtlety, I can do that too you know! 🙂

    Now I know only a bit about the aluminium smelter which operates in a small town with a deep water port in the far west of this state. The other two, I know next to nothing about. From a technical perspective, the aluminium smelter in this state operates a bit like a truly massive dump load. The thing about solar and wind is that there are occasional times where they generate too much electricity and nobody really knows what to do with the stuff. At those times it is not possible to slow the coal fired power stations and they just happily chug along doing their thing (more or less). If you don’t get rid of the excess electricity somewhere, and you can’t switch the supply off from the renewables – and you can’t with wind, the whole grid could pop in a very unpleasant way. And aluminium smelters work like giant dump loads in the grid in that they can absorb whatever you want to chuck at them. However, they have the alternate problem in that you can’t disconnect them either for too long otherwise the aluminium sets in the pots and this is a bad thing – a very expensive outcome. So the whole grid becomes like a super huge juggling game, and eventually someone somewhere will drop the ball. Ouch. I used a small dump load device when I installed the wind turbine and it was an interesting learning experience. Most of the big plants here are coal fired. The gas fired plants are newer, but our demand will apparently exceed supply for gas in only a year or two. Most gas down here is exported.

    Sorry to hear that you faced the determined might of the dastardly personage in the form of a collector with more dollars than sense. Ouch. Been there too. The dried cranberries will most certainly bring you shorter term pleasure, but possibly the antioxidants are worth it. $4 a pound is pretty good. Cranberries are rarely seen down under, and I substitute jostaberries and also gooseberries and they taste more or less the same to me.

    Oooo! I look forward to reading your review of the new Ruth Goodman book. Yes, coal would have done just that as it was a concentrated form of energy. Imagine the sheer stink and pollution in London at the time of coals peak?



  38. Hi DJ,

    It is possible that your atmospheric river took a minor detour and arrived here over the past 24 hours via Antarctica. You never know about these things, but last evening an inch of rain fell over the farm, and then late this afternoon I swear that it looked as if we were in a blizzard. There was snow everywhere, and it was a lot of fun, despite the possible complications with this seasons fruit crop. It’s cold outside right now, but has now warmed up to 2’C. During the snow we got to experience that most useful of number of 0’C. Brr.

    Nice to hear that your air is now much cleaner due to the autumn storms. Hopefully the rainfall picks up now.

    It’s a bit of a thing to transition people over to smart phones as they are far more complicated and far less secure devices than the old dumb phones. I had no choice in the matter if I wanted to continue earning a living, and so simply resigned myself to the burden. Yeah, if I were you I’d spend some time learning about just what applications on the device, have access to the device and then how to reduce software to the bare minimum. It amazed me at how much data was being chucked around and sent from the various chunks of software. It’s impressive really.

    The filing of the tooth enamel was good to observe from a purely objective perspective as having learned that it is a seriously bad idea.

    Take that ya Orc mongrels, he says as he swings his battle axe at the nearest orc head or neck. Either hit would do the job quite nicely. Do orcs have feelings in the matter? Tolkien hinted that the origins of Orcs were that they were once Elves, or were they once Dwarves? It’s a bit like if zombies took over. Is this evolution in action? Did you ever get a pole saw?

    At one stage I read a reputable account which suggested that more students were apparently studying journalism than there were actually jobs in the country. This is a bad thing and the same thing has occurred with my own profession. Over supply is good for employers as it drives down wage rates and student loans is indeed a profitable business on many fronts. But then concerns about over supply does not address the core issue of what to do with an over supply in the first place, and it is no different from an ecological perspective of kicking the can down the road. And also hoping that something works out. Unfortunately, in this particular case failure to match supply with demand or demand with supply is always possible.

    Looking for multiple sides of a news discussion is I guess important, however of late I have given up on following the detail of the news and nowadays read the article headings so as to get a feel for the narrative that is being purported. I tend to look at results, and the news last federal election suggested that it was a close race – which it was not. Brexit was also reported as being a close race – which it was not. And your last election was being reported as a shoe in for the Democrats – which it was not. So, there is a lack of credibility based on outcomes versus what was reported. And um, when I now see articles in our news media suggesting that Biden is in like Flynn, well mate based on past outcomes – he might be electoral road kill. The job of the media is there to report and not attempt to set the narrative. These are two different goals and they are not compatible.

    Haha! Yes, packing a solid punch when in a tight corner may have made the difference with the Stanley’s in those historical instances. Sir Rhys ap Thomas was an interesting bloke, and I noticed that Yorkists slighted his ancestral castle and confiscated lands. An error as it may have forced young Rhys and his family into a corner where old grudges were kept quietly in check until dark hours presented an opportunity to settle them. Hmm. Unwise of Richard.

    Mate, in these crazy days you have to find your path based on the inherent risks.

    Variety is indeed the spice of something or other – I forget what it is exactly, but it sure sounds good! Top work with the preserving too. Never preserved bell peppers (we call them capsicums) before. Are you pickling them?

    Apple maggots are known down here as fruit flies, and they are now about 70km north of here, although they have no easy life there. It’s a bit of a worry, but there is a lot of not easy land for those flies to get through before they arrive here. I did mention to you that you are only ever as good as the weakest link… I mean, our ancestors brought foxes and deer down under, and how is that working out? I have those plus rabbits all loitering around the edges of the farm just waiting for their day in the sun when Ollie and the girls are asleep in front of the warm fire, as they were tonight on this abominably cold Antarctic themed spring night.

    May have scored a 9hp second hand wood chipper. Looks good.



  39. Hi Inge,

    Most certainly 46’F is a brisk morning. Brr! As a comparison, spring has left the building today and by late afternoon it was 32’F and it looked like a blizzard was blowing outside the windows. Heavy snow was falling and the individual flakes were as large as I’d ever seen them before. Quite astounding weather really. Snow fell in South Australia too. This weather event may seriously impact upon the fruit crop this year, but we’ll see as rain arrived later in the day and began to melt the snow. Dunno. Agriculture is a tough and uncertain gig.

    Morocco from what I have heard sounds like a lovely and fascinating country. And yes, Gibraltar is not far at all. Looking at the map yesterday I was left wondering whether the Spanish were eyeing off that small parcel of land and waiting for an opportunity to present itself. The land has a commanding position on the sea lanes.

    Your story is amazing. There is most certainly a story lurking there about just how you came into possession of Guatemalan coins? But the facts speak for themselves and if funds were tight enough so that you had to carry cans of petrol, well, my guess is that it was not a lavish well funded trip. But certainly you would have seen some interesting sights on the journey back. Glad you weren’t in an accident with all those cans of petrol.

    With the many machines about the place I too have to store and transport petrol and despite the everyday-ness of that arrangement, it is actually quite a risky thing to do.

    I’m assuming that your assumption about what your mother may or may not have told the school was something that was never clarified? It is possible that enquiries were not made by the school – well, at first, and then I’m guessing that it may not have been possible for your mother to actually tell the truth of your whereabouts without social repercussions? An interesting dilemma.

    School is not all that it is cracked up to be. I hated the many changes involved in transitioning from a very hippy dippy school to that of a more English than the English grammar school. I attended the new school and then decided that it was a bad idea, or someone’s idea of a bad joke and made the choice not to attend. To be candid I didn’t get into trouble. There was a stern talking to, and I recall words being mentioned that if I didn’t like the school after a month that I could choose otherwise. Even at the time I knew the words for the lies they were. It wasn’t an option and acceptance had to be found. Sometimes a wild nature does not fit into the required narrative. It happens.



  40. Chris:

    Fruit flies absolutely decimated our figs this year. If I’d gotten on to them immediately, I think I could have saved a lot of the figs, but I had other things to do. Next year all I can think of is maybe to set up a lot of traps before I even notice them.

    Another problem was that wasps started chewing on the fruit first, thus opening it up to the fruit flies, so I have to do something about the wasps, too, which is a shame as they can be quite beneficial.

    And I hope that flies are flies as I don’t know if we have your fruit flies, Mediterranean fruit flies, or maybe DJ’s.


  41. @Inge

    That was quite a story! My mother never quite trusted us either. Maybe she was thinking of how she broke rules herself.


  42. Hi Chris,

    Enjoy the snow. Even for those of us who have more than enough snow the first one of the season is pretty exciting.

    Still swamped here so have been unable to comment more and there are things I’d like to say but then when I get on I find that I have forgotten them.

    We’ve been having beautiful weather here though still no rain. That changes Monday as an Arctic blast is due to arrive dropping temps way below average. No snow though.


  43. Yo, Pam – It will be interesting to see what Ms. Goodman has to say, about coal. When I worked in one library branch, we had an English couple, that came in. They were part of our local Ramptha cult. They both always wore a lot of black leather, that had clearly been purchased in leaner days. But I digress … 🙂 .

    The thing was, they both reeked. What I first thought was goat pee. But all the books they returned also reeked, and were covered with a fine, brown layer of, well, reek. I finally decided they must be burning coal. I had to clean those books, and bitter complaining to the building head, yielded no joy. Can’t alienate the customers, you know. For any reason.

    I understand that some varieties of coal (expensive) burn cleaner, than others. Of course, as our county is rich in coal, we may all end up burning it again. Lew

  44. Yo, Chris – Your snow was very nice. What we’d call a “light dusting.” 🙂 . I followed the link and the dog in picture number 2 looks like one of Ole’s relatives. I watched the short video. Very, very pretty. Snow in small amounts, for a short period of time, is quit striking. It’s good you don’t have the human kinds of snowflakes, falling out of the sky. Does a lot of damage, and, is very messy.

    Our weather cleared off, yesterday afternoon, and into the evening. It was so nice Eleanor, H and I sat out in the evening, for awhile. Looks like next week, we’ll have nicer fall weather. Fog in the morning, that burns off for nice afternoons.

    I also had the idea, that maybe the air circulation around my tomatoes, isn’t very good. I’ll get in there, the next clear patch, and cut out some of the non producing stems. Worth a whirl. That is interesting about the difference in the names of the tomatoes. All politics, I’m sure. I picked my first tomatillo, yesterday. I mean, there’s only going to be a handful, but a big fellow had burst his husk. There are small shallow grooves, on the outside. Might be insect damage, might be that it just got so large, it burst it’s skin, a bit. I’m going to cut off the bad parts, and try it in a salad. Also, save some seed. The grapes have turned purple, and I tried one, yesterday. Still a touch tart. But, I’ll have to beat the raccoons to them. They have seeds, so, I’m thinking grape jelly?

    Working the system, at the library. Here’s a good example of asking permission vs just going ahead, and apologizing, later. 🙂 . The library paid us, every two weeks. As I was a substitute, I had time cards coming in from multiple sources. I was not supposed to work more than 40 hours a week. I think, maybe, because there was a State law, about paying overtime rates. But, sometimes, I’d have, say, 35 hours one week, and 45 the next. Oh, I never claimed the overtime. My nefarious plan was to not exceed 80 hours for one pay period. No one noticed for 2 1/2 years. In the meantime, I had more mad cash, AND was racking up hours toward retirement. When they finally caught up with me, I just played dumb. Got a slap on the wrist, said, “Sorry.” and went on my way. 🙂 .

    The “Innovation” book was pretty interesting, last night. Stuff I kind of knew, but hadn’t pulled into focus. One problem is, there’s lots of mad cash around for exciting NEW! projects and cutting edge technology. But they never figure in the maintenance costs. So you have these elaborate systems, and when they start breaking down, it’s big bucks to repair them. Which isn’t often found. As the authors point out, when budget crunch time comes, it’s usually maintenance costs that take a hit. This applies to government, business, education and health care. The authors are also spending a few chapters on how the “maintainers” are looked down on. A lot of it is a status and class kind of thing, and how those attitudes are perpetuated.

    The wood chipper sounds like a really good idea. It will also come in handy if any inconvenient bodies, show up. Although you’ve got the bio-digester, for that. See “snowflakes,” above.

    Coal: See my comment above, to Pam. Also, I think I’ve mentioned that we have a coal fired electric steam plant, here. We had our own coal mine, but it was shut down, due to pressure by the Greenies. Now they rail in “cleaner” coal from Wyoming. Closing the mine part of the plant (it was right next door) threw 350 people out of work.

    Well, the Mysterious Mr. Gilbert, remains, still mysterious. I bit the bullet and paid a visit to one of the Inmates (Grandma Gen) who was born, raise, and lived in Silver Creek. I was hoping for “Oh, yes! Robert Gilbert. My sister dated him in high school!” No such luck. Rang a slight bell. Of course, Grandma Gen may have a memory surface, in a day or two. Next up, the local historic society, and the Art Trails folks. I tried the phone number, again. This time, I got a “No longer in service”, recording. Why I didn’t get one of those, yesterday, I don’t know. But that’s tech for you.

    Rant ahead! Or, maybe just general whinging. 🙂 . I’ve been a little curious about how some DVDs, of some series, seen to not have appeared, in the general time they usually do. So, I did a bit of Gargling around. Didn’t get an answer to my query, but I’d guess it’s supply line problems. For all I know, those discs are made in The Land of Stuff, or, somewhere, nearby. Or, maybe it’s something as simple as they can’t source the plastic cases. I’m hearing a lot of stories (yeast) about how manufacturers have the product, but can’t source the packaging. Foil pouches or small jars.

    But, I did see a lot of articles (a year or two old) about the immanent death of discs. But, the Net – FA company, had some interesting things, to say. They used to be all mail out DVDs. Now, they’re trying to go all streaming. BUT, they still have 3 million DVD subscribers. And that sector still makes them money. A lot of money. Even though “We haven’t lifted a finger, to encourage that kind of behavior.” I’d guess a lot of those 3 million people, are rural, and have shite internet service. I may have to sign up, just to encourage them 🙂 .

    I am disturbed (and angry) that my library is pushing electronic books and streaming movies. I an upset when I hear stories like DJ’s and yours, where your forced to “upgrade” your phones. Think I’ll start a movement. I’ll call it, “A Technology Too Far”. If I run for office, I’ll include it as one of my major planks. 🙂 Lew

  45. Hello again
    I don’t remember how my mother dealt with the school.
    The gold coins certainly weren’t mine and the holiday was not lavish.
    My boyfriend’s sister was married to the son of the president of Guatemala. A life which seemed to be either splendour or fleeing for ones life. Not my cup of tea at all. I only met her once just before we left on the trip, so assume that there was a connection. The coins were the most beautiful that I have ever seen. I was promised one of them. It didn’t happen and that still rankles..
    My boyfriend looked like death whenever we prepared to go through customs so I took the damn coins off him and later the currency that we brought back. He still always looked nervous so I was always taken aside by the customs and asked what he had with him. Funny really as there I was, a child with pigtails hanging down her back who could quite truthfully say that he had nothing.
    One of the great things about being as old as I am now is that I can tell these stories as the others are deceased. I am always being told that I should write my autobiography but this is not on as too many people would get hurt. I discussed this once with someone who had written his and he said that one just wrote and didn’t care but that is not for me.


  46. & again
    I forgot to say that Spain does indeed want Gibraltar. However Spain owns Ceuta and Melilla on the Moroccan coast and I have always thought that if they had Gibraltar as well, then they would control the entrance to the Mediterranean.

  47. Hi Pam,

    Sorry to hear about the fruit flies taking your figs (a truly tasty fruit which I normally convert into what is possibly the finest of the jams / jelly’s – lovely stuff). Yum. But yeah fruit flies are a problem here too. When I was a kid they were a long way away at the northern state border, and over the years the insects have moved further south. At least the area 70km north of here has serious incentive to eradicate the insects. They grow much of Australia’s commercial mainland apple crop there. It’s a problem and it’s not really all that far from there to here. What do you other than adapt to the circumstances as you find them?

    There are a lot of wasps, so it is hard to know which will be beneficial and which won’t be. In fact most insects are sort of like that, and I honestly don’t know enough about them. You have heaps of trees so I’d imagine your bird population is quite good and they’d feed on the insects, but as you know timing and all that and sometimes there are insects and no birds, and at other times there are birds and few problem insects. Out of curiosity do you have a thicket of dense shrubs that small birds can live? Those small guys do the hardest work in the garden with insects.



  48. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 The snow was fun, but apparently we are now well into the growing season, maybe… I tell you, I really hope that this year is not a repeat of last year’s disastrously short but crazy hot growing season. Not sure how many of those seasons we can survive… The greenhouse project was an outcome and consequence of last year’s crazy growing season. If you’d told me those growing conditions were possible I would have doubted your sanity, but then there they were…

    Haha! Blessed are the verbose, and I look forward to reading your future thoughts! I keep note paper ready to hand when inspiration strikes and like you wisely observe, thoughts are as ephemeral as wisps of the winds and can likewise easily disappear. Have you checked behind the couch? Or possibly Salve and Leo may have chewed upon the thoughts? It’s possible.

    There is definitely something in the water for you to also be enjoying a polar blast. Hmm, hope your firewood is stored out of the weather. Brr!



  49. Hi Inge,

    It’s possible that your mother accommodated your early wild nature with the school, and thus the topic never needed discussing with you. Of course I don’t know the details and neither of us can ever really know them, but oft times I have noticed that you can find unlikely support in unexpected places where the people providing the support recognise themselves in your actions. I’m guessing that may have been a factor in your story? Dunno, but that’s what my gut feelings tell me.

    The petrol cans sourced from Gibraltar were a dead giveaway that lavish was not your general experience during your adventure. Out of curiosity were you drawn to this adventure? The balancing act as you described is not to my liking either as any misstep could lead to a general undoing. Of course Tolkien reminded us that adventure could be foisted upon the competent with the wild streak whether they desire it or no. And so you found yourself. I would have loved to have been there in what would have been quieter and simpler days, but alas the world is a busy place now.

    Yes, promises can dissolve into the constituent words that make up the spell. It happens.

    Inge, I hated going through customs too. It is a character flaw, although your friend may have had larger concerns than my own minor ones? The demons he was carrying with him were perhaps larger than the reality? Some people carry that load. Of course as you noted the practical aspects was that he attracted a lot of attention by letting them have their sway.

    It is worth noting that you would also share in the hurt caused by the act, but it is your choice. On the other hand the act of writing may be cathartic. You never know, and it is possible that you might be too close to the story to see the bigger perspective. Your concern for others is commendable.

    Inge, those territories are only held for as long as they can be held. It was a serious shock to me to discover that there were nine of them.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Tis true what you say, but at the same time the snow was so much fun and a fruit disaster all wrapped up in one frozen package. Over night the rain fell again heavily and the air became marginally warmer and surprisingly this may just have washed the ice off the fruit trees? The conditions are so far beyond my experience to know where they’ll end up. The fruit trees are hardier than any of us can imagine though.

    Interestingly I was listening to the science hour on the radio on Thursday morning and the current thinking is that after the big rock hit the planet 65 million years ago, the only dinosaur survivors were the birds who lived down under at the time, and then over the following eras they recolonised the rest of the planet. The conditions in the years after the big rock hit must have been atrocious.

    I thought that too about the dog in the picture. It really did look like Ollie bounding around the snow. Ollie had a blast yesterday in the snow, but Ruby enjoyed the frozen conditions the most out of the three of them. Mind you, Ruby would most happily dine on human snowflakes whom had enjoyed the misfortune of inadvertently falling from the sky. She’s a mischievous cheeky little scamp that dog. 😉

    Your weather sounds almost perfect, and such times are the stuff of pure pleasure.

    Yeah, I dunno about air circulation around tomatoes, although your point of view has more support than my own. I’ve grown them as sprawling vines, tied up vines, and in bushes and in the end the climate has more to say about the harvest than all other considerations. However, providing the opportunity for the ultimate growing conditions is definitely an advantage.

    Ah. I’ve got a few Solanum family plants growing here and skin splitting is I reckon a sign of too much recent watering whether that is by irrigation systems or rainfall it matters not. The fruit where the skin splits probably needs to be harvested soon as who knows what gets under the broken skin? But if the weather warms the split can heal. The grapes sound intriguing, and the vines here have not yet produced a crop, so you’re miles ahead of my experience. Isn’t there a grape jelly in your country known by the name of Goober Grape? It sounds intriguing.

    Like your style with the full time hours on the casual employment situation. 🙂 Good stuff, hey did you know that if you were down here, they possibly would have had to cough up for the overtime too. Of course health insurance is not tied to jobs down here and I have basically no idea what it even means in your part of the world. All I know is that I would not like to be sick and in need of treatment in your country. Not to worry, the scales balance up nicely and houses are crazy unaffordable down here, so you win on one hand and lose on the other, and things are just as they are.

    Simon who writes the blog I’ve linked to was only today suggesting that the observation made in the Innovation book also plays out in the world of high tech software. Externalities are rarely factored into systems. I tell ya the red tape involved in business down here would make your head spin.

    But exactly, yes the maintainers are looked down upon as a low status group. Mate, it is not lost on me that most of my neighbours believe they have higher social status than I due to the simple fact that the editor and I do most of the work around here, all manual and stuff. They’re wrong of course, not that they know it. I was however thinking over the last couple of days and pondering upon the recent mulch neighbour incident. It is possible I need to learn tools to better navigate such incidents as they might come in handy in the future. Have you ever heard of a book: Conflict resolution for dummies, or an idiots guide to such matters? Even if I learn just one useful technique from the book I’m better off than today. Can you recommend any useful source?

    Hehe! As to biodigesters there are a few choices here. Either the worm farm or the dogs will do the job. No doubts about it. A pig farm would be handy, and some people have done just that, but they have questionable morals, whereas I’m just having to deal with hypothetical snowflakes falling from the sky. It’s not my fault they fell. 🙂

    I see that Oilman2 over at Mr Greer’s linked to a truly astounding article on large ship engines being used as electricity generators. This reminds me that I took a great photo yesterday of the solar panels all covered in snow. Some folks need evidential proof – whatever that is.

    The local coal mine shut down was similar to a story recounted to me where apparently one of the local council folks suggested to someone around here that it was better outcome for the environment that firewood be sourced from slow growing red gum forests way way away and far to the north of here on the states border. Bonkers. Yes, people can believe some truly strange things. It is possible that the coal mine was shut down because it was no longer economic.

    When phone lines get disconnected, the mind works in mysterious ways and can present several possible options, most of which aren’t good. Perhaps the artist decided to disconnect himself from the technosphere thus improving upon the purity of the artists vision? My gut feeling tells me that this is unlikely. On the other hand I have noted that for some unknown reason the value of some artists work increases after their untimely demise.

    I’m hearing plenty of anecdotal accounts of supply shortages. I’ll tell you an odd one from over the past week. I had an order in with a supplier I’d dealt with and purchased from for a long time for and they unceremoniously refunded my money for an order for spare parts on one of their machines. Do I purchase from this mob in future becomes an important question? I think not.

    Which brings me to the dilemma of the wood chipper. I watched a few utoob videos of the model in action. Honestly it seemed a bit light weight, and the editor has agreed to consider getting a biggerer model machine. With how home insurance is going up and up, we need to work on a plan B and C well before it is required.

    Mate, I tell ya I was honestly rancid angry about having to purchase a smart phone – and so was the editor, so your reaction is not alone. You have to pick your battles though, and that one we lost. As perhaps has DJ. Yes, I noticed that 3G is being switched off in your country. It is still going here, but I noticed a while back that 2G was only recently switched off. Up here occasionally the phone switches back to 3G because reception is so poor. I dunno what they expect.

    Like your election motto!



  51. @ Lew:

    We will definitely burn coal again; we will have to. Which makes it a shame that we have sent so much of it overseas.

    I have ordered one of Ruth Goodman’s other books: “How To Be a Victorian: A Dawn-To-Dusk Guide to Victorian Life”. I wanted to read that one first. After reading about Ms. Goodman, I really became excited about it. She has worked with the BBC on some historical shows like “Victorian Farm” and “Wartime Farm”.


  52. Chris:

    We do have several thickets of dense shrubs and I plant more every year. You are right – birds like that. We have lots of birds. And we have so many insects sometimes I think I am in the Amazon. All in a forest, because around the house is an entirely different habitat, but we have the plus of the forest for those creatures like like it.


  53. Chris:

    And congratulations on the snow – I think. We have had one of the coolest Septembers in 30 years.


  54. Hello again
    Not sure how much my childhood should clutter up your blog.
    I had assumed that we were just going on a holiday it only dawned slowly on me that there was more to it.
    Your gut feeling about my mother is as wrong as wrong can be. She didn’t want me to be at school, she wanted me out earning a living in order to help her financially; hence my puzzlement about the schools apparent acceptance of my absence. My mother never had anything to do with the school and my boyfriend had payed for my coming years school uniform.
    When I won a scholarship and went to this school for an interview at the age of 11, I was the only child being interviewed who was unaccompanied by a parent.


  55. Yo, Chris – Fingers crossed that your fruit trees, ride it out through the spate of cold weather. Time will tell … Your right about tomatoes. No mater how you grow them, tie them up, let them run wild, they just seem to do their own thing. They either produce, or they don’t. I carefully cut the bad parts out of the tomatillo, and added it to a big salad, last night. Which included “other people’s tomatoes.” (Is that like investing with other people’s money?) . It added a bit of a citrus like, lemony flavor. The tomatillos are a mystery. They’re in the same bed, maybe two feet apart. I water, daily. The one that hasn’t produced any fruit, always looks parched. The one with the fruit, rarely looks stressed. Why? Is the water retention within a two foot area, so different? Apparently, so.

    The earliest dinosaur / birds fossils, are found in the Land of Stuff. Not that far from The Land Down Under. But, you’ll have to come up with some earlier fossils, of the proto birds, to make that theory fly 🙂 .

    I was puzzled by the Goober Grape. I should have known. “Goober” is another name for peanuts. The product looks frightening. I’m sure the ingredients list is horrifying. But think of the NEW! IMPROVED! convenience of only having to deal with one jar! Probably saves seconds, in constructing a P & B sandwich. And, as an extra bonus, only one knife to clean up! Sounds like a win, win, to me. 🙂 . “Goober” is also a name of endearment (?), in the deep south.

    Well, if I had kept copies of my time sheets (document, document, document!) and turned it over to the State Labor Relations Board, I probably could have gotten some mad cash. But since my working overtime was voluntary, and not forced, I would have had a pretty weak case. Also, a small amount of mad cash, wasn’t my intent. It was that retirement. Rack up the hours, as fast as possible, to get “vested” in the retirement system. You need 10 years worth of full time work. Or close too.

    Houses are crazy unaffordable, here too. $85,000 worth of loan couldn’t get me anything the bank would finance. Even with a large down payment.

    Conflict resolution. I’d just do a search at The River, under books. I’m sure all sorts of stuff would pop up. But, as far as recommendations go, I’m empty. We had many a training session, at the library on “how to deal with a difficult, patron.” Some of the things I remember were, to keep your voice low, and speak slowly. If the patron interrupts you, just be quiet and let them run on, until they run down. Then, try and state your case again. If they interrupt, again, wash, rinse repeat. Sooner or later they run out of steam. Try not to say “no”, but offer alternatives courses of action. If an impasse is reached, offer to refer the person to your supervisor, as they may have a solution. Did I follow all those steps, all the time? Of course not. Sometimes I’d just say, “Get out of my branch, you nut bar!” Or, “What the H E double hockey sticks is wrong with you?”

    For an artist to show increases in value, after death, they’d have to do a lot of PR, during their lifetimes. Or, have a “champion” with a lot of pull. Sometimes, a wife (it was usually a wife) would step into the gap, and beat a drum, until people started taking notice. Sometimes, new information is uncovered, that makes the artists work, more attractive. Or, tastes and fashion changes, and works becomes desirable.

    As an example, I collected a few lithographs by a fellow named Alex (or Alexander) Blum. I collected him, because I liked the WPA (Works Progress Administration) feel to his work. (They were done in the 1930s) And, a lot of his subject matter was used bookstores, and antique and second hand shops. When I started collecting his stuff, I couldn’t find out much about him. But then I discovered that in the 1950s, he started illustrating some of the the Classics Illustrated comic books. Which are pretty collectible. So, that enhances the interest in his early work. I didn’t lift a finger, but I notice that more and more people made the connection, and prices began to rise. More biographical information began to appear, online. I toyed with the idea of collecting some of the comics. In “not mint condition” the prices are low. But, I really just couldn’t work up much enthusiasm. Subject to change. If you Gargle “Classics Illustrated comics illustrated by Blum”, and click “images”, you get an idea of the many comics he illustrated. When I was a kid, I had, and read, many of the Classics Illustrated series.

    So if they shut off 3G,will my toaster stop talking to my refrigerator? Will they have to be replaced? How … convenient.

    I started watching a mini-series, the other night. “Dispatches from Elsewhere.” Sally Fields is in it. It is a very, very odd film. I keep groping for something to compare it to. Maybe, “Brazil?” “Donnie Darko?” The series, “Lost?” Mysteries, on mysteries. Then I find out that it’s based on a true story. On a documentary, called “The Institute,” that came out a few years ago. There’s a short entry.

    I did a bit of looking around, to see what the DVD section of Net Films was like. Going to their main website, it is true that they haven’t lifted a finger to entice people in. It appears there’s not much there. But, I continued to search, and finally found access to their entire catalog. And, it is extensive. Lots of stuff I would like to see. And, several things that the library used to have (lost, damaged) that I’d like to take a second look at. If it’s not too expensive, I may give it a whirl, just to “stick it to the man”, a bit. Keep it profitable. Lew

  56. Hi Pam,

    Imagine burning coal for home heating fuel? Far out, what a picture you’ve created. When I was a kid I recall that people used to burn something call Briquettes, and they looked a lot like coal or charcoal. Not sure what they were really. And further back than that I recall people burning diesel fuel and they had these little fuel tanks on the side of the house that a large truck used to pump liquid fuel into. That was back in the day when only the living room was heated. Peoples expectations these days as to home heating is a bit bonkers.

    Not good about a cold September for you. Spring last year here was almost non existent. Feral growing conditions… The snow was fun although I’m now anxiously observing the fruit and blossoms forming on the trees.

    Very wise with planting small patches of dense shrubs. 🙂



  57. Hi Inge,

    Your stories are fascinating, and they paint a picture of a world that I have never seen or known about, so yes feel free. You have an enormous stash of social credit, so fear not! 🙂

    It is funny you mention that about the tension between school and work so as to assist the household income, but when I was first at work as a young adult there used to be a job with the description: Girl Friday. I’m sure there is plenty of history behind the name of that job, but that was how the work was advertised.

    My mother had little to no concern as to my schooling, subjects or results either. It was you lovely people who alerted me to the story that it was my grandfather who organised, paid for and sent me to the grammar school. That was not clear to me until that point, but the story fits the facts well. No wonder there was no inheritance as it would have cost him a pretty penny.

    Sorry about guessing incorrectly with your mothers motivations and please accept my apologies. As a bit of background a long time ago I worked for a very unpleasant person. He was a right so and so, but I needed the experience for my resume. Anyway, after that experience ran its natural course I decided to play a game where I guess at a person’s motivations based on only the facts I have to hand. Then I’d compare my guess to the outcome and just sort of got better at guessing motivations over the years. This of course does not suggest that I’m correct all of the time as you have so alerted me. You’d be surprised how grubby some peoples motivations are.

    You had gumption to have done so and then achieved a place. As a side note, if I were assessing your scholastic abilities, I would have taken note that you were unattended and that would have indicated a level of self motivation which is more rare than you’d imagine.

    The editor does extremely well at aptitude tests – far better than I – and neither her nor her parents thought of the scholarship option. You did very well indeed.



  58. Hi Lewis,

    Fingers crossed alright for the fruit trees. It’s 37’F outside right now and there is a slight frost risk tonight. What a season. If I had planted tomatoes outside right now, they’d probably not feeling so well…

    Yeah, tomatoes skip to their own beat and do their own thing. This may make them Fluffies, but the jury is still out on that matter. 😉 It all depends on how much work you want to put into them, but really the climate and soils are far greater influences.

    Other people’s money, too true. History has suggested that lending money at interest is a definite no-no, but as a species we do like pushing at the boundaries. Soil is that different from even a foot away. I see that play out here all the time, and can you imagine the awesome amount of work the indigenous folks did to create or improve upon the epic top soils that the Europeans found – and then mercilessly exploited over such a short period of time. A truly awesome feat on both counts.

    The theory does not indeed fly. Nope, there is a theory floating around that all birds nowadays descended from the down under survivors of the Chicxulub impact.

    Goober’s are peanuts and/or a term of endearment? Wonders will never cease. I never would have considered that explanation.

    It is often wise to play the long game in such matters and the overtime hours would have been merely an interesting side story, which may have derailed the entire venture. I respect your cunning and resourcefulness. It has oft been remarked before that only those who know the system, can indeed play the system.

    Far out, we worked until sundown tonight and can say that the greenhouse is now completed. Yay! Me tired, but I also have to write tonight… Ook! The building almost has a Japanese look to it given the corner posts and door posts are exposed for their aesthetics. That was the only concept idea we had going into the build and we let the building dictate where it needed to go. Already this evening there was talk of a few tweaks that would make the building even more useful, but we need to first see how it rolls this season.

    Mate I recall the days when I was paid $26k per year and a one bedroom flat cost $35k. A small Victorian era workers terrace house would cost about $90k. And people truly believe that they are better off these days. Me thinks not.

    Thank you for the advice on conflict resolution. I’ll investigate further and keep you posted. It is a subject that somehow seems important for the future.

    A Gargle search on Classics Illustrated comics illustrated by Blum produced an astounding number of covers and comics. The artist was really good. Actually the classics illustrated were an ingenious concept. Ah, Audrey Blum was a superb word artist but I was unable to discern whether she had also done the artwork. It would not surprise me.

    Yes, indeed your toaster may be bereft at the loss of contact with your refrigerator. Please accept my condolences… 🙂 Far out, nothing is connected here other than by way of the modem. What a fine joke that is and nothing is asking for hacking more than the unattended device.

    Who knew that such games even existed? And to think that at one stage 10,000 people were engaged with the game? It’s actually quite impressive. Given that the film / series was odd, did you enjoy the story? Pokemon did that too recently. It was a bit crazy.

    Yup, all wise.

    Oh no, it’s almost 9pm. I better get writing…



  59. Hello again
    Back to that school interview. I was given a very difficult piece to read before being interviewed and then the interviewers quizzed me on it. I was providing what I deemed to be acceptable answers when I suddenly realised that the answer that I had just given was impossible. I corrected it and explained why it had been impossible. I always reckoned that that was why I got in.


  60. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … I got curious about briquettes. So, down the rabbit hole, I went, so you don’t have to 🙂 .
    The first thing I thought of, was charcoal burners in the woods. They seem to figure a lot, in stories and fairy tales. Always an outsider, loner kind of blokes. Sometimes, rather sinister. What’s interesting is that charcoal burning was a technology, that spread worldwide, very early on.

    But, I thought charcoal was made of wood, so what does that have to do with briquettes? Well. A briquette can be made of coal dust, charcoal, sawdust, wood chips or paper. Peat?

    The first apartment I moved into, had a diesel fuel heater. With the tank on the outside of the apartment. I had never run across such a mechanism, before, and was a bit leery of it. Due to it’s advanced age. The trick was, to adjust it so that a small amount of fuel, dripped into a pan. At a constant rate. Then you took a twist of newspaper, set it on fire, shoved it through a trap door, and hoped for the best. When the fuel fired, it gave a frightening roar, and, as it was made of mostly sheet metal, it rattled and shook, and sounded like a jet plane taking off. Right in your own living room! Exciting times. 🙂 .

    “His Girl Friday” was a 1940 film, staring Cary Grant and the incomparable Rosalind Russell. “A screwball comedy.” Which is what they used to call rom-coms. :-). Back in the Dark Ages. The film popularized the term, but it’s origins are found in Defoe’s novel, “Robinson Crusoe.” From his Man Friday.

    Hmmm. Be careful what you speculate on. Someone, somewhere will probably try and gene splice dogs and tomatoes. I’m sure both will be NEW! and IMPROVED!. Seemed like a good idea, at the time.

    Can’t wait to see the pics of the completed greenhouse. Going to cut a ribbon? Smash a bottle of cheap bubbly on a corner? So, it has a Japanese feel to it? Well, if it doesn’t work out as a greenhouse, you can always turn it into a garden tea house. 🙂 .

    Who is Audrey Blum? The artist was Alex, or Alexander. I think on that page were some illustrations of his black and white prints of book and tat shops. Some of which I have.

    Yup. You’d better “get on the stick” and start writing. Hmmm. Where does that term come from? Ah, been around for awhile and means “get going.” Probably had something to do with airplane joy sticks or automotive standard transmissions. Which thought somehow inspired todays ear worm. Four minutes. James Brown. “Get on the Good Foot.”

    That will have you dancing around the room, with the dogs. Lew

  61. PS: I just had an interesting thought. How my last post would look, as an animation. Charcoal burners morphing into briquettes. Tomato headed dogs. Diesel heaters morphing into jet planes. Crusoe and Friday, drifting through followed by Alec Blum and James Brown. Green houses morphing into tea houses. I can see it all in my minds eye. It’s very strange, in there. 🙂 . That I had the talent. Lew

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