Where ever you find yourself

There was a line in the 80’s TV show Cheers where the character Norm, who’s wife was apparently at home whilst he was at the pub, suggested that: Women. You can’t live with them… pass the beer nuts. It was a bit cheeky for the character to have said so, but you know, some arrangements aren’t for everyone. As a comparison I’m rather fond of drinking dark ales and talking rubbish with the editor at the local pub. The local pub after all, has only recently been allowed dine-in seating again under strict conditions. And truth to tell, take away pizzas and beers in near freezing winter conditions outdoors was a fun experience, but at the same time it was also possibly over rated.

But yeah, back to Norm. Off grid solar power systems, can’t live with them… pass the beer nuts! During winter I noted that the lead acid batteries which are more than a decade old and supply electricity to the house, weren’t quite their usual chipper selves. The batteries weren’t dead yet, however it was more as if they’d gotten a bit long in the tooth and no longer decided to store as much electricity as they once did.

Of course, entropy is a constant companion on the journey that is life. And it is also a truism that as a person ages, they are less able to work as hard as they once did. The batteries are no different. They’re not dead yet, they just don’t hold the same sort of charge they once did when they were in the prime of their youth. It happens. Even the best dark ale goes flat eventually.

Observing how the batteries were performing during the recent winter, we decided to purchase a brand new set of much smaller lithium batteries. The purchase occurred after much soul searching, bank balance considering, and all round belly button gazing. I contacted the supplier and asked whether they had the stock on hand and could deliver to this remote spot. The supplier responded in the affirmative, the bank balance was drained, and the new batteries were in our hot little eager hands within only a few days. Smooth stuff.

Whilst the purchasing story was going on, I took a deep dive into the details of this new lithium battery technology. Turns out the stuff is complicated as. It’s a good thing that we can do complicated, if needs be. But just in case we couldn’t do complicated, and something went horribly wrong, we made the decision to dig a little bit deeper into the savings and purchase a single spare battery. After the genuinely pleasant, but remarkably expensive first transaction, I’ve now discovered that I’ve been put onto back order and have another month and a half to wait before the spare battery arrives. Fortunately I’m not in a hurry for the spare battery.

Here is the strange thing though: I’m hearing all sorts of anecdotal accounts from various sources which suggest to me that supply lines are under extraordinary strain at present. A year ago this was not the case, but today it is. And few people want to take notice of that particular story. Neither is the story discussed in the records of our societies affairs (A.K.A. news media), but it is there all the same.

As I’m an old fella now, I can make valid comparisons to the recession of the early 90’s. It was the recession that we had to have, apparently or so they told us at the time. I was forced through no fault of my own to work in corporate debt collection for four years, or face unemployment. It was not a hard choice to make, and the job taught me about the darker side of the human experience and the sheer lack of variety in lies.

The job was hardly well remunerated, but it did pay far better than unemployment benefits (‘the dole’). One notable memory from that time was that a good mate of mine was badgering me about going out and spending lots of mad cash. Unfortunately, despite the job being better remunerated than the dole, I hardly made enough mad cash to survive from pay cheque to pay cheque. Chuck into that heady mix of trouble an unexpected bill, and finances could get very exciting indeed.

Anyway, it was a truly embarrassing experience to explain to my mate, who seemed unencumbered by a regular job and candidly received most of his mad cash from his well financed and free handed parents, that the recent unexpected car repairs (which I had to provide the labour for) meant that I was now faced with the choice of heading out with my mate, or purchasing some new socks. Only those who have experienced worn out clothes will truly know what the word threadbare means.

Those days were different though as the dilemma faced was that there were items in the shops for people to purchase. It was simply that mad cash may not have been ready to hand for people to complete the purchase transaction. The same was true of The Great Depression during the 1930’s.

The story however now appears to have been flipped on its head. I have the mad cash to spend, but the supplies may not be there in the shops. The outcome is the same, although the story this time is admittedly different and is a credit to the mad skillz (sic) of the Modern Monetary Theorists. So now I play the waiting game for next the month and a half and so wait for the spare battery order to be fulfilled. Unfortunately a person cannot foresee every eventuality, and there are a few things that I am waiting upon, besides the battery.

The supply story is quite interesting. For readers who have been living under a rock, metropolitan Melbourne is currently placed under one of the strictest restrictions in the world, all due to the health subject which dare not be named. It is an impressive achievement for a city of 5 million souls. The farm is located several kilometres (which equals slightly less in miles) outside of that metropolitan area, but from here the restrictions appear to be like watching a slow motion car crash.

It isn’t only orders for stuff delivered through the postal system that are mildly challenged. Weeks ago I did a click and collect purchase at a hardware store. The item I had on order was very heavy at 32kg / 70 pounds, and I looked in despair at the petite young lady wearing a mini skirt and tights, who was valiantly bringing orders out to various people in waiting vehicles in the wind swept car park. You had to book ahead too in order to arrange collection. And customers were not allowed to assist the young lady loading the stuff into their vehicles. There was a young bloke also doing that work, but he casually disappeared and was not seen again. Eventually after 40 minutes of waiting, the above mentioned young lady and an equally small colleague brought the heavy item out and proceeded to load it into the dirt mouse Suzuki. A truly painful experience.

Such strange days. It is actually hard to think straight sometimes with all the restrictions and noise in the media, and especially with all that lot pushing the fear button really hard. Despite all that background noise, what I am seeing is that there are escalating supply issues. And having no money and being unable to afford to purchase stuff, is not really all that different from having money and discovering that products are unavailable to be purchased.

Which brings to mind a recurring memory from childhood playing a game of ‘musical chairs’. It’s a brutal game where kids circle a bunch of chairs to the sound of music. However there is always one more child than chairs. When the music stops, the kids stop circling the chairs and just try and grab whatever chair is nearest to hand without getting into fisticuffs with the other kids – not always achieved. I did mention that it was a brutal game. The music starts again, the circling recommences and there is one less chair and one less kid.

The thing about the game though, is that it taught me that sometimes in life you just might not get the chair and where you are is where you end up.

The greenhouse project has now been completed and is in use

The greenhouse project took a further two days of work to complete. There were a few minor changes to the polycarbonate sheets above the front door and also the rear window. We thought that the white painted upper edges of the roof joists above the door needed to be seen. And crucially after many suggestions from the editor and many of the lovely people who regularly comment, we added another two racks of seven foot long shelving.

The shelves were constructed from scrap steel we had stored. Over a few hours the steel was cut, welded and then anchored into the greenhouse.

Two additional upper shelves were added into the greenhouse

As can be seen in the above photo there is plenty of space for raising seedlings. To put the space into some context, here is Ollie and I enjoying the spring warmth inside the greenhouse.

Ollie and I approve of the new greenhouse

Just behind the greenhouse we placed a very solid and heavy table with which to pot out all of the various seeds for the growing season.

The rear of the greenhouse with a potting table

Very observant readers will note in the above photo that the polycarbonate sheet above the rear window comprised two sheets last week. We replaced the two joined sheets with a single sheet from the leftover scrap.

The potting table assisted greatly, as we were able to easily set up a production line for all of the many varieties of plants which we are hoping to grow from seed this season.

The seasons plant seeds were sown into plastic tubs (seedling flats)

And there is still more space left inside the building! The building works well so far and late this afternoon the outside air was 26’C / 78’F and inside it was 32’C / 89’F. Good stuff.

The early fruit trees look set to produce a decent harvest this year. Admittedly it is unwise to count ones fruit until it is harvested, but all the same, the trees are looking good.

Apricots have put on decent size in the past week, despite the recent snowfall
Almonds are also growing strongly

In the warmer spring weather earlier today, the bees were everywhere harvesting pollen and nectar from all of the many flowers. The native bees were also out and about foraging.

A happy European honey bee enjoying this Alkanet flower

Onto the flowers:

Blue Rosemary sprawls throw a garden bed
Succulents have amazing flowers
The plants in the succulent terraced garden are beginning to grow well
Echiums are adored by the bees
Daisies soak up the afternoon warm spring sunshine
Forget me nots must be the easiest plant of all to grow – they’re like weeds
Bulbs grow throughout the orchards
Could it get any cheerier than these Leucodendrons?
Bluebells happily grow in the shade of this decade old olive tree

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 894.4mm (35.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 874.4mm (34.4 inches).

52 thoughts on “Where ever you find yourself”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    The smart phone deserves to be kicked for waking me up an hour early, and I’d do it too, except that the thing was very expensive to purchase and might possibly survive the much needed chastisement. Knowing the sort of person that I am and the editor is, I purchased the toughest smart phone devices that we could purchase. The population may be beguiled by slim looks and the latest fads, but not us, we chose the super practical option. And I have dropped the device so many times now that the choice has played out well.

    Anyway, super out of sorts and mildly bleary and way out of focused was how things rolled that morning… A terrible fate and I would not wish it upon anybody. Although now I ponder the question further, there are a few choice individuals that would deserve such a fate. Isn’t it unfortunate how we accumulate disasters in the rear view of time, despite our good intentions.

    It’s is actually quite interesting that particular matter, because it raises to mind two different but related stories. So there was a local bloke who lives up here part time six months of the year (or so he told me), and one day out of the blue I discovered that he was standing out the front of my house. Who are you, and what are you doing here, were the questions posed, to which he supplied a piddling and easily poked excuse. He dobbed me into the local council the next day. It is an unwise act to eat and poop in the same locale, but there you go and some people do just that. Not a fan of the bloke, and it was with considerable joy to note that he is now selling up and moving on. Yay!

    Anyway, the person at the council who lives not too far away responded to the dobbing in, but was again in the wrong. The person appeared to be more interested in exercising the dreaded instruments of ‘power and control’ rather than responding to what might have been a mischievous complaint. Regardless, it is good to know a persons true colours. Anyway, that person now appears to have abandoned their local residence for other pastures during this time of lockdowns. I tell ya, we are in interesting times.

    What is not lost on me is that people living up here who are more invested in the local culture and land, well they don’t act that way.

    Truth to tell we worked late yesterday and I was in a bit of rush when replying, thus the awful spelling mistake. Imagine if I’d accidentally instead typed the letters: Dognuts! All around the planet people who were listening in our delightful conversations would be blushing with embarrassment. 😉 It’s doughnuts down here, which is clearly derived from the words dough and nut. Which after a short dive into linguistics and the intersection of the English language and nods to various cultures brings us to the: yod-drop

    Mate, I was socked in for most of today too. Thick cloud, at times heavy rain, and less than an hours peak sunlight for the entire day. The good Professor wrote about the fog subject and its interaction with smoke particles. This subject is of most importance to me and despite not being in your part of the world, the blog is of immense continuing interest.

    The pea family of plants is continuing to do my head in, so I can’t offer much in the way of contrast. My experience matches yours and there must be something that we are missing here, but what it is maybe beyond me. However, I am now down to a single lone pea through the winter survivor (excluding the many very cold hardy broad beans), and will most certainly save seed from this prodigy of plant prowess.

    On the other hand all four (or was it five) varieties of lentils have now begun to sprout in the greenhouse. Conditions are possibly very fluffy optimal in there. Instead of purchasing seed, I bought bulk packs of organic lentils for sprouting as they’re the same thing, just way cheaper.

    Ah, yes the pier and block style of construction was quite well known until about maybe the 90’s when concrete slabs became De rigueur. Interestingly, the older style of pier and block set out for a buildings foundations took a massive amount of skills. I told you that a few months back I had a chance conversation with an old bloke who used to do such work, as well as chimney building and other complicated masonry structures. Anyway, out of the 115 odd piers we set out to construct this house, there is only one that is slightly out and we simply packed it out. It takes a lot of skill to build a house that way, and also keeping a house off the ground loses less internal heat to the ground in winter, and is better insulated from the heat in summer. The engineers and surveyor worked me hard too as the post holes go down at least 2.5m / 8.25ft and are full of concrete. I got stuck upside down in one of those holes during construction. Not good. The editor rescued me…

    Anyway, the squirrels could use the feeding, but the opossums are far more likely to consume the meat! Hey, traditional timber houses that I’ve seen were usually suspended off the soil by way of timber bearers and joists in combination with floorboards.

    You and me both with the Calefactory! Brr! But I recall that when I was a kid, nobody considered it normal to heat an entire house. The living room was warm, and I recall as a kid that you’d hang out in the kitchen for similar reasons during winter. The monks sure knew where their worth was by keeping those records less subject to the cold winters that a par for course in northern Europe. Brr!

    Yes, very naughty those two terrible twosomes, and no doubt they egg each other on to new lows. Plum and Ruby are a bit like that, that’s why I don’t let them free roam around the farm together. 🙂

    Blessed are the competent, for they are busy. Might trademark that phrase. Worked until past 7pm tonight… I’ve heard other stories of people working from home, but the stories don’t sound like work to me. Hmm. Ah life in a big corporate. Unfortunately I am not in that particular comfortable and perhaps sedentary situation.

    The title of the book ‘Little Women’ is genius. The subtext only became clear after having read a summary of the plot. The book may get onto the ‘too read’ or the film onto the ‘to watch’ list. Thank you for the recommendation. What a house too, and imagine those guests! The Hillside Chapel was of particular interest to me. I loved the barn style doors the peak of which aligned with the roof high up above it. Most impressive. Even more impressive again was Winslow Homer’s works.

    Well, well, well, you brought back to mind a long forgotten memory. I’d seen the BBC version of The Secret Garden back as a wee young lad, and rather enjoyed the story. Interesting.

    Hope H survived the bath with you unscathed! It is after all, a well known fact that fluffies are notorious for having their own thoughts. 🙂



  2. Hi Chris,

    The stevedores in Sydney are striking at the moment. It’s been going on for weeks. Last I heard it was in court but there were big delays and ships sitting around waiting for an opening. Not sure how much of a role that is playing in the supply chain delays. Apparently the average base rate for a stevedore in Sydney is $170k a year. That’s with about six weeks annual leave. Not bad work if you can get it.

    I did the click and collect from Bunnings last week after resigning to the fact that our dear leader is probably not going to drop stage four restrictions for a while. Took me forty minutes to get my stuff :/

    Update on the magpie situation. There was a tense standoff on Friday as I walked into the backyard to find that the two young ones had decided to camp out under the anvil near my shed. Of course, I hadn’t realised they were there until their muffled cry brought mummy (or maybe daddy) flying over the fence. I don’t speak fluent magpie but I’m pretty sure I was told in no uncertain terms not to take one more step. Anyway, that was the last straw for me so I took the next opportunity when the parent was away to try and scare off the young ones. This is not so easy because young magpies are either really dumb or half blind. You can actually walk right up to them and they just sit there. I finally managed to scare them off and haven’t seen them since. This is actually a good thing because I had noticed that when magpies are around, all the other birds disappear. They are back now including my favourites the New Holland Honeyeater. Order is restored to the garden 🙂


  3. Hello Chris
    Supply lines are a very sore subject here. Living on an island has always made this difficult but it is now much worse. Son is having a nightmare getting materials and is constantly being told ‘We don’t deliver to the Island’. A heavy price is tacked on for delivery when firms do deliver.
    It must be incredibly difficult to learn to think for oneself if one grows up in a tight religious community. Strange to think that an argumentative home might be a good thing. Question of degree enters here though.
    I question whether enough light is entering your greenhouse but perhaps it is okay where you are; it wouldn’t work here.
    A huge branch is hanging down getting ready to fall on the roof of one of my sheds. It is still partially attached far too high up for Son to do anything about it. We have removed anything that is important to us, from the shed.


  4. Hi Chris,
    The greenhouse looks great!! I’m glad Ollie approves. Next year you’ll be able to start your seedlings earlier. Depending on the plant I start seeds between February and April. Peppers need to be started very early and never seem to grow that well which is why I usually buy plants. My starts are under grow lights in the basement.

    We were supposed to have a freeze last night but it stayed just above freezing though there was a heavy frost. I threw some sheets over my pole beans and they made it through. We have warmer than normal temps forecast for the next week to ten days so I think I can get a couple more servings of fresh beans this year.

    Our area restaurants and bars are now limited to outside only just when them weather is getting cold. I know some are flouting that order and some local law enforcement officials are looking the other way.

    My book club has decided that we’ll take the risk and meet at member’s homes who have large rooms rather than do a Zoom meeting. I was a bit surprised as I thought most of them were pretty risk averse.


  5. Yo, Chris (As to this weeks blog post) – Your timing must have been good, as to the lithium batteries. Your original purchase must have pretty much cleaned them out, or, close to it. Close enough to shortly tip “in stock” to “out of stock.” Interesting what Simon said about stevedores being out on strike. I think here we call them, longshoremen. For an interesting look at the history of waterfront shenanigans, see Marlon Brando’s, “On the Waterfront” (1954), for a look at one particular time and place.

    Supply line stories, are out there, depending on where you look. I think I linked to one from the Atlantic. You won’t find anything in the “everything is fine”, Pollyanna media. One doesn’t want to spook the horses. Or, sheep? 🙂 As with the Fall of the Roman Empire, I suppose there’s a plethora of causes of supply line breakdown. Any one or two in isolation, doesn’t look so bad. But the big picture? Not so good.

    The sock story is a pretty good illustration of the moral fiber (aka, sense) it takes to not bow to social pressure. No money? No problem. Put it on “the card” or dip into those savings. Or, just overdraw your account and worry about the charges, later. We’re surrounded by that kind of pressure, either external or internal.

    As far as products vs money supply, there was an article recently that talked about the middle and upper classes (those that are still employed) stashing huge amounts of mad cash in savings. Why? Well, there just isn’t the opportunities to spend, due to you know what. Not so many meals out. Little foreign travel. A lot less commuting expenses. Not so much spent on “work clothes.” It all adds up.

    The greenhouse interior looks like a little temple. Maybe chuck a small statue of Demeter, in there. Or, that patron saint of gardening, we were talking about. 🙂 . Whew! Looks like the fruit survived the cold and snow.

    The rosemary is very pretty. Our venerable old rosemary has thrown a few flowers. I can’t remember exactly when it pulls out the stops and goes full on. These flowers might just be on a few confused branches? Time will tell.

    Succulents and cacti are such interesting plants. As with ferns or the fungi. Just so many varied forms and colors. Forget-me-nots are a bit weedy. 🙂 . I planted them once, and they pop up here and there, all over the place. Ditto, Love-in-the-Mist. I’m also seeing some camomile in odd spots. I’m hoping the parsley takes suit. At least I can eat those.

    I saw an article that the Greenies are all atwitter as several Tasmanian devils, have been released into the wild, of Australia. All this re-introduction of carnivorous beasties, doesn’t seem, to me, well advised. Here, if it’s not wolves, it’s Grizzly bears. Just recently, a bunch of “weasel-like Fishers” were re-introduced up on Mt. Rainier. I think it’s all a miss-guided attempt to return to some mythical “golden age.” Tears will be shed, further down the line. But it seemed like such a good idea, at the time ….

  6. Yo, Chris (again, to respond to your missive …) . Well, I had a rude awakening, this morning. A half hour before my alarm was to go off, I was awakened by a loud buzzing grinding sound. That went on for almost an hour. A few weeks ago, someone had knocked a power pole a bit out of kilter. So, the electric company showed up, early this AM to set it right.

    Well, when a fellow shows up uninvited and unasked, one can figure he’s up to no good. What did he expect to find? A massive Mari-hoche growing operation? A bevy of young women, enslaved to toil in the orchard? It’s good you didn’t have the wood chipper, at that time. Highly suspect! An then to call on a like (feeble) minded member of the Council? Such people should be put in the stocks of the town square, with the epithet “poop-stirrer” hung round their neck.

    People wonder why Americans are so touchy about property rights. It’s just that sort of thing. Eventually, you either get with the local culture, or get out. Nobody really wants to hear their wild “better ideas.” And aren’t really interested in “how we do things”, wherever they come from. And, somehow or another, the whole story brings to mind The Grasshopper and The Ant, or, The Country Mouse and the City Mouse. Though I really can’t tell you why.

    The peas are a problem. They were planted in good composted soil and I even sprang for some pretty expensive inoculant. And what will I get out of it, if they manage to produce before the first frost? Fresh peas for two or three meals. I really think I get these ideas in my head, of what I want, vs what’s possible. Given my limited space. Four feet of peas for 2 or 3 meals, or four feet of green beans, that gave me 2 gallons, in the freezer? Yes, I like the idea of big hulking tomatoes, but, it’s the cherry variety that are more dependable, and they sure do dry, nice! So why do I bother trying to grow stuff that either doesn’t produce much, in my limited space, or, is pretty “iffy”. I think it’s that external / internal pressure I mentioned, earlier. More internal, in my case, I think.

    Like you, I have discovered that seed or root stock, from the grocery store is a lot more thrifty, than a lot of the “certified” stuff. And, works just as well, if not better. At least I found that out from garlic and “blue” organic potatoes.

    “Post and block” is usually, here at least, a wood post with a pre-cast concrete footing. That little 365 square foot house I had, sure benefited from laying down a ground cover, and filling in the floor joists, underneath, with insulation. Boy, that was a job, but very satisfying to finish. The the winter temperature in the house, improved immensely. Most of the houses I can remember from the 1950s, had rooms that weren’t heated. Of course, in our climate, moisture, damp and mold were always a problem.

    That whole pack of interesting people, around Concord, we sometimes called “The New England Transcendentalists.” I don’t think Mr. Greer has said much about them, and I wonder if he will. See: “Brook Farm.” Ideals met reality, and it all came to a bad end. The Alcott’s neighbor, Nathaniel Hawthorne was involved in that, and later wrote a satire called “The Blithdale Romance”, about the experience.

    H got her bath and trim. I think she really likes the attention. When finished, ran around like a crazy woman, giving those dog barks that let you know they’re happy.

    I checked on the grape vines, today, and I guess I can forget making jelly. Hardly any there. And, no empty stems, so, it’s not the birds or raccoons that got them. They just didn’t produce much, this year. I ate a couple of handfuls, standing among the vines. Very tasty, but that’s going to be about it, for this year. Lew

  7. Chris,

    The greenhouse is really turning out well! Good that both you and Ollie approve.

    We’re having supply chain issues too. The latest: Now that the manufacturers are catching up on toilet paper, at least locally we have a shortage of canning jars and supplies. I needed a few more quart jars for the last boxes of dehydrating apples and there were none to be found. Ditto with pint jars. Same story everywhere: “none in town and nobody can get any.” I scored 8 half gallon canning jars, which, with the pint jars I had remaining, will get me through this season.

    We played musical chairs once in the 8th grade in Catholic school. One of the students had an injury and couldn’t participate, so ran the music. That allowed Sister to participate. Eventually, two were left: Sister and Quick Skinny Darrell. Music stopped, and Darrell “quicked” himself onto the chair, where he was met with an expertly timed hip check from Sister. Darrell rapidly found the floor the floor and Sister sat in the chair, the clear winner. Most of the students cheered.

    Thanks for all of the flower pictures. Perfect timing. Ours are done for the season, even though we’ve been at 25C still during the day. That is supposed to change within the next week. Cooler times are coming.

    Back to last week, no you’re not dodging my answer. You wrote what I was trying to say in a more comprehendible way. Some thinking takes a few minutes, some hours, some a marathon of days or longer. Often the result is to accept, adapt, carry on. AKA your idea of “suck it up”.

    The barometer needs no external energy or winding up or anything. There’s a needle I can twiddle to match where the barometric pressure needle is. Then, when the pressure has changed, I can tell if it is increasing or decreasing. Nice, ancient old school device.

    I, too, miss the Commodore 64 trick. It worked much of the time. Sadly, the smart phones just don’t cooperate with that.

    I never thought of the connection between objectivity and free will. That’s a very interesting point you make. Your observation that we’re no longer trained to examine our thoughts’ origins is something I’ve noticed also. I’m in agreement that that lack of training appears to be deliberate. Hehe, in order to sound convincing, the perpetrators of the farce need to nearly believe it, then eventually they do. Falls under that “What you contemplate, you become” category, methinks.

    Snarkily, however, on the origin of thoughts…Ya mean that my thoughts aren’t all perfect and factual and innocent and free instantaneous gifts from the great prophet Zarquon?!?


  8. Hi Simon,

    Mate, went into the big smoke today and the vibe was weirder than I can ever recall. There is a sub current of the grumps and smouldering anger going on in there.

    Yeah, thanks for the heads up on those guys. Wow. Based on your report – which I have no trouble believing – they earn more than I did when at the top end of town with a significant and expensive education behind me. And I’ll bet they didn’t have the load that I had to carry. Whatever, I now work in and with small business and they are struggling, so this is not good optics at all. I have a mental vision of pigs with their snouts in a full feed trough. I love the ABC and most especially Triple J, but ABC staff vote against pay rise freeze despite government push.

    Still give someone access to the printing press and they will push the ‘me’ button. AusPost invites volunteer parcel deliveries while executives eye bonuses. If you get a chance, I suggest exploring the language used by the executives, as it is fascinating case of…

    Your experience mirrored mine, and I have only fond feelings for the business, but yeah 40 minute waits for customers are probably not a wise idea. I hadn’t factored such a stay into my day and um was pleased that I’d had the foresight to go to the toilet before heading off on that particular journey.

    Haha! If the magpies transmitted the basics of the instruction to you, well if anyone asks if you’ve been told today, you can answer in the affirmative! You should see the magpies attacking a wedge tail eagle! Talk about cojones. Anyway, thought you might enjoy this: Parrots moved from wildlife park after swearing at visitors. The cheeky scamps!



  9. Hi Inge,

    The same is true here too, and for some weird reason this particular area is in a black hole for even basic postal deliveries. You cannot send a letter here to this roadside address. Before moving up here, I had no idea that such delivery vacuums were even a remote possibility. Bonkers. I hear you about that, and getting a courier to deliver something up here is a nightmare to, so your island experience matches mine.

    When the former dirt mouse Suzuki died one evening in the big smoke a couple of years back, I had to get a taxi to bring the editor and I back home. Can you imagine the fright that the poor taxi driver had when he had drop the editor and I off on the road up above the house late at night in the middle of forest and in thick fog? All the trip back I engaged with the bloke in order to soothe any misgivings he may have had and warned him well in advance about where we’d end up. At the end of the journey, the driver remarked that he had never before been tipped so well. Anyway, after that experience the former dirt mouse had to go.

    It is an odd thought that perhaps growing up living in a house of discord opens the possibility that adults can be a bit bonkers and you’d best keep your eyes and ears open as a defence mechanism, but there you go. People who have never known trouble, are likely to become unstuck at the first hint of trouble. Not so for the experienced and fleet of foot, for they know where things can go. 😉

    What? And the words: ‘They’ll think of something,’ doesn’t carry the same force and weight as the words: ‘Give over to this doctrine, and your soul will be assured a place among the favoured’. Not sure about you, but those words sound very much the same to me.

    But yes, it is a question of degrees. But at the same time, the waters are very muddied. Dunno.

    Ah yes, of course. The greenhouse as it stands would not work in your climate. Being at the more southerly end of your delightful country and having a maritime climate, we do share some similarities in growing conditions and length of growing season and varieties of plants. However, in your travels down under you may have experienced the awfulness of summer extreme-UV ratings, and so the greenhouse has to accommodate that story. Despite today looking as if winter had arrived with force, the UV is still rated as High, and you may not experience that effect of the sun where you are. If the building was in your part of the world, the entire building would be sealed to the nth degree, so yeah I am in complete agreement with your observation.

    Ouch, and best wishes for the inevitable shed and branch confrontation. You never know, it might end up OK. I can’t really tell when or how large branches will fall.



  10. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you, and would you believe that the four legume varieties have already produced sprouts(red lentils, French lentils, chickpeas and mung beans)? Hopefully the greenhouse gives us an edge, and I’m monitoring the external soil temperatures and yesterday it was only 53’F, so the growing season is yet young. Outside right now it looks as if winter has returned with force, although there is little to no wind. However inside the greenhouse the conditions are cold, but not too unpleasant.

    Any seedlings probably won’t be planted out for another three to four weeks at this rate.

    Ooo! Peppers drive me bonkers too. One growing season a few years back the season was that super-hot that the peppers grew and fruited really well, but that was the teaser season. Last year was an epic flop for those plants, and the few peppers that grew tasted revolting due to the cold weather.

    My mates of the big shed fame report similar problems with peppers and they have almost perfect conditions and growing space, so I’m thinking that this is just how it might be. Still, we’re giving it another go this year with very small and very mild chilli’s, to which peppers are related. I suppose that by the end of the growing season I’ll have more experience with the plants. What do you do other than give up on them? I like mild chilli’s…

    Good thinking with the sheets and your beans. 🙂 Out of curiosity, do you grow many peas? I’m not really sure at all why they don’t grow well here. Years ago we had a really top notch harvest of snow peas, but then the name might be a dead giveaway, and maybe it isn’t hot enough here for them? It is also possible that I plant peas in too fertile a soil. Sweet peas grow around the garden beds and orchard like a total weed, but they are toxic.

    No business flouted that particular law for any length of time as very public examples were made of the businesses. Margaret, the fines are truly epic, like really massively huge. Had to go through the military / police checkpoint today and at least the police are polite and talkative. The military folks on the other hand don’t look pleased to have drawn that short straw. I’ll bet they got snowed on too last week… 🙂 But the really stupid thing is that nobody patrols the back roads – that looks like a deliberate system set up to fail.

    Well, fatigue and sheer disbelief at the economic carnage has set in down here. And candidly I miss face to face catch ups with friends (and hope that doesn’t all sound a bit whingey).

    Just use your common sense and if people are unwell, then don’t attend, or they shouldn’t attend – it is not a hard act to follow. It appears that a person from the big smoke who was infected, skirted around the stupid failed roadblock system and infected a couple of people in a rural area. How dumb a system is that?



  11. Hi DJ,

    Thank you, and Ollie, it should be told, always gives his paw of approval to the various projects about the farm. Tonight it looks as if winter has descended over the farm. There is a huge stream of moist tropical air which originated over the Indian Ocean far off and away over the north west of the continent. We’re barely getting an hours sunlight each day all week and it is cold and wet at about 4’C outside right now. Brr! That’s La Nina for ya, but at least it reduces the possibility of huge bushfires, so mustn’t grumble and all that.

    Anyway, the greenhouse will earn its keep this year on quite a number of fronts, seedling supplies is just one of those fronts. Think of it like the People’s Liberation Front of Seedlings! 🙂

    Yeah, that makes sense about the lack of supplies in relation to canning supplies – which we call bottling and/or preserving down here. The funny thing is that the bottles (your mason jars) are hardy, the stainless steel lids will outlast both you and I, but the rubber O-ring seals, now they are the weak part. Second hand supplies used to be had by the huge box on the cheap. Few were interested back then.

    Hehe! Go the sister, she had an advantage over the kids in that game. It is good to see a bit of pluck! I’d be cheering along with the other kids too. 🙂

    The next week doesn’t look set to exceed 20’C, so it is a bit of a worry for this coming growing season. Walked around the orchard in the late evening cold and damp and had a look at how the fruit is going. The apples have not yet blossomed. Prepare thyself (hopefully) for flowers for the rest of your winter. I spotted some rhodies tonight.

    Thanks, and if ya can’t fight it, best roll on. What else do you do? All your energy can be taken away in the fight and to no outcome. Best to deflect those unpleasant energies and get on and do your own thang.

    I really appreciate your words regarding the barometer and had wondered about it. Might have to get one of those devices as the air pressure changes are a good weather forecast.

    Incidentally the Commodore 64 keyboard was sturdy enough to cope with the punishment of an annoyed operator.

    Don’t you reckon that is the beautiful self limiting thing when such techniques are taken to their logical extremes? The perps fall for their own Kool-Aid and thus force and face their eventual demise. It’s kind of neat when you consider it.

    “To say a few words on my own behalf.” 😉 Hehe!!!!!



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Actually it is a bit scary just how tight the timing has been. We watched were the wind was blowing and just had to jump in at the deep end. The funny thing is, I don’t even know whether these new batteries are any good or not (although they do work), but just had to move. The first choice for the batteries was another local mob, but I spoke to them and they were having, get this lead time issues on manufacturing. They don’t make the cells down here, but they do put the cases and electronics together. Yes, the guts of the batteries do have internal electronics, so I hope they know what they were doing…

    The place I bought the batteries from were pretty happy to sell them, first time around anyway. There is often a lot of talk in the population about batteries, but when it comes time to pay for the technology most people baulk at the cost.

    Newcastle port up north is a coal export port. I must say, they appear to be on a very good wicket. It is not lost on me, but is lost on a lot of people, that Melbourne – which is in the grip of an epic and unrelenting lock down (it’s brutal) – is also home to the largest container port on the continent. Just sayin. The mood in Melbourne looks glum to me, and I note that there are now plenty of people walking around not wearing masks. So I suspect sullen will soon turn to anger. The incumbent gobarmint is lucky that they don’t face an election now at a wild guess. What people say in private is now very different to what they say in public, and if someone comes along with kooky ideas, cute armbands, and jackboots, but get people out and about again, well they’ll get some serious support, sorry to say. The polls tell a different story, but I dunno I can only go with what I’m observing.

    But yes, the big picture is not good for supply. I don’t know whether the population is that keen to get back to making their own stuff locally, but they might have to get used to the idea.

    The mate I mentioned in the story in relation to the socks was flabbergasted that I was that broke and would continue to be so for the immediate future. He was so well financed from his folks that he just asked and they seemed to give. It was odd though because his mum did the giving and his dad had stern disapproval of the entire situation. My mate had apparently lived in the same house as them for years and not spoken to the dad. I can’t even begin to imagine such dysfunctional domestic circumstances going on in there. But my mate had plenty of mad cash, which interestingly he wasn’t too liberal with when it came to other people. An interesting character. The last time I encountered him was at a wedding reception and his lady had what looked and smelled like stale fish, whilst he scored the chicken. She asked to share, he appeared to refuse and I was mortified at the response. Some people get better as they age, others well…

    There is truth in what you are saying about opportunities for spending. But I also see people concerned over debt levels as decisions about future abilities to pay were based on past circumstances. Not a safe assumption at all.

    Yes, indeed the Greek goddess Demeter would be most welcome in the greenhouse. Thanks for the suggestion. Took a walk with Ollie around the orchards this evening and it looks as though plenty of fruit pulled through the snow. Interestingly, the apples and pears seem like a smarter fruit as they delay their blossoming until later in the season. A wise move. The Bay Tree is full of yellow flowers. I don’t really use the leaves of that tree in cooking as when I was very young someone told me that they were toxic and I’ve never been able to shake the ooky feelings.

    Mate, you should see the ferns banging along in the fern gully. There are new fronds forming all over the place. It is lovely to see. Glad you liked my joke about the Forget-me-nots! Ah yes, Love in the Mist and chamomile also perform similar feats of easyness. Bizarrely, carrots have established themselves in the orchard.

    On the youth news radio this afternoon, in between serious discussions about the impending federal budget this evening, there was a guy who was involved in the devil release program (that does sound a bit odd doesn’t it? Hopefully there is no green pea soup) and he was really pumped about the devil release project. It is not a bad part of the world that the devils are released into, but I’d hope that there was enough food in there for them all.

    The fishers look a lot like honey badgers, and those are one formidable animal. Err, good luck!

    I wonder what the buzzing grinding sound was? It is no civilised way to be awoken. Rotten luck ol’ chap! Hey, years and years ago I knocked out the local electricity grid, and whilst the fix was reasonably brief – but very public – the bill was substantial. Ouch, lesson learned and don’t do it again.

    Yeah, exactly about the intruder alert on deck one outside the front door. What was he thinking is a question that has bothered me? I’d let sleeping dogs lie if the shoe was on the other foot, but no. And the excuse for being there was very thin indeed. Not a fan, and glad the guy is moving on. But there is a larger story, which folks in your country probably have a better handle on, about getting involved in other peoples business. He could have simply just asked me and I could have shown him the documentation thus saving a whole bunch of trouble. But no, he knew best.

    And that’s the other thing too about new fangled ideas in rural areas. You can’t talk about them, you either do them and prove others to be wrong headed, or you shut up about them. It really is that simple, but some people have other ideas and talk is cheap. I’ll bet you’ve seen and heard your share of that story over the years?

    Yes, I too followed a similar strategy with the peas – including the inoculant. There must be something basic that we are doing wrong. One idea has been floating around the back of my mind is that the peas might not enjoy fertile soil because after all they can access nitrogen from the air. That would indicate that they are pioneering plants, much like the wattles and all manner of weeds here which enjoy infertile soils. Dunno, but it is possible. That’s my only guess too.

    Big rains are set to fall here tomorrow night for the next two days. The forecast looks epic. A nice consistent rain is good – this La Nina thing is something else.

    People tell me this stuff is expensive, but with a little bit of imagination gardening can be cheap. Did I mention the cost of the memorial oak tree?

    Nice one with the work under the floor in the little house. We did a similar trick and strung up wire mesh under the floor and placed thick glasswool insulation bats. Your winter experience matches mine. It’s good stuff. It’s not often done either.

    Did I see H on the interweb? Hmm (the editor forwarded me this amusing article): Even the devil pulled out a vat of holy water after seeing that face. Comic genius.

    Your grapes are far more advanced than the ones here. There are varieties for cold climates, but after you’ve trialled a variety for a couple of years how do you pull the vine out of the ground?



  13. Yo, Chris – Yup. The supply lines are shaky. I notice the oddest gaps. Q-tips? A certain brand of dish soap? We may have to get used to the idea of not getting what we want, when we want it. If ever. I noticed the auction in Olympia is clearing a nightclub or lounge. Everything you would need, to set up such an operation. If you wanted to try, in these times.

    Battery costs. Something the solar cheerleading squad, would rather not think about. Sounds like a stunning capital outlay. Or would replacement of batteries fall in the “maintenance” column? I finished the book on the innovation delusion. I hope the movement takes off. I haven’t checked out their website, yet. But, they’re doing a lot of books, articles and talks. They seem to be getting a lot of adherents, but will it be enough?

    Well, from 9/11 on, it seems pretty clear people are willing to trade freedoms for (perceived) security. We have four groups, here, that are concerning. The Oath Keepers, Boogaloo Boys, Q-Anon and Three Precentors. And various other incendiary groups. There was a recent article in Atlantic, on The Oath Keepers. I had the odd thought that if these groups joined together, that would probably not be “a good thing.” But, most of these outfits are run by megalomaniacs who don’t want to share power, or, the money they rake in. And they vary on points of ideology, a bit. But, I think it’s wise to keep one’s ear to the ground, and nose to the wind. At my age,a hard stance to assume. 🙂 .

    When I had my bookstore, my major competition seemed to just keep chugging along. I really think it was family money, or a trust that has kept him afloat. I noticed even with the shutdowns, and all, he’s still open. How? As far as the young lady and your “friend”, why does she put up with it? Perhaps she too has “great expectations.” It will be a sad day if mom checks out first, and moneybags dad leaves it all to his dog. 🙂 .

    Yesterday, the “Obscure Roman Deity of the Day” was Mellona. Goddess of bees and bee keepers. Out of curiosity, I wondered what the Catholics had on offer. St. Valentine …. or St. Ambrose. I wondered who is the leading contender? I went down the rabbit hole, and discovered someone had asked just that question. But they wanted to download me the solution. Not going there.

    Bay leaves. Information You Didn’t Really Want to Know. After Suzanne Who Always Has A Better Idea, tried to put me off my brown rice, by telling me it had little barbs that would rip my stomach out, and I ignored her, she changed tack. Did I know that brown rice has huge amounts of arsenic, acquired from nature? Well, I looked into it, and it does. Given the amount of brown rice I eat, probably something I should consider. But, if you soak it overnight, you can leach most of it out. So, I’ve started doing that. Not that I’m going to give her the satisfaction of knowing that. But every time I have to soak my rice overnight (or, forget to) I do not think kindly of her. But, I know how ideas you get in your head are hard to shake out (see: Lew’s belief that white veg doesn’t have much nutritional value.) There’s some truth that bay leaves are poisonous. Certain kinds of bay leaves. You just need to make sure to purchase a culinary bay. I had one in a pot, for quit awhile. A very nice plant, and a leaf or two really jazzed up the soup.

    We have a couple of falling apart and rotting wooden planting barrels. I’ve notice a few really nice ferns have established themselves around it. All that rotting wood. I suppose they think they’re in the forest.

    Tasmanian devils, Fishers. No chicken fortress will be able to withstand the siege, if within striking distance.

    Why would you have to show him your papers, at all? Did he represent a civic entity? Have a badge or ID card? That’s a rhetorical question. Of course not. He was just curious, or miffed, or outraged by something, and decided to stir the poop. Here, especially out in the country, no trespassing signs, are in great evidence. You just have to make sure you drag the body, over your boundary line, or into your house. Shooting someone in the back is rather bad form (they were running away: leaving), but can usually be gotten around.

    A few years ago, someone was complaining in the paper about moving here and having to put up with an unsightly (to her) wrecking yard, and the smells from the farm next door. Oh, the letters in response were gems. The auto wrecking yard was beloved by shade tree mechanics, county wide. Need a part for your old junker or classic car? He’s probably got it. And that farm next door? She didn’t notice she purchased next to a commercial dairy? Wonder if her name was Karen? 🙂 .

    You might be onto something with the peas. Sometimes, too much care is worse than low maintenance. Killing with kindness?

    Ah, the Memorial Oak. I figured you had used, what we call here, “the five finger discount.” 🙂 .

    I think I need to really prune back the grapes. Eleanor made the observation last night, that they look nothing like what you see in vineyards. Into the books and down the rabbit hole. As I have also seemed to have inherited some rhubarb and currents, I’d better look into care and feeding of those, too.

    Last night I watched Disney’s “Zombies 2.” I remembered I had kind of liked the first one. But I had forgotten, it’s pretty much a high school musical. Well, one fast forwards through the inane lyrics and dance numbers, and gets back to the story. The first one was about tensions between a small town’s zombies and humans. This one threw werewolves, into the mix. The last scene was of something bright, falling out of the sky. So next up, I guess it’s aliens. Do the vampires know about this? 🙂 Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    If I’m reading the signs properly, things could get interesting if at least some restrictions aren’t eased on October 19. Seeing a lot of cases now of Andrews supporters turning against him given that it’s clear there’s no way the target numbers are going to be met for the foreseeable future. I’ve also noticed quite few more people walking around my neighbourhood without their mask on recently (they have it pulled down over the neck). Based on Andrews record so far, i don’t see him backing down so I’d say things are getting primed for a mass revolt. Not sure what that would look like but you never know.

    Interesting that the federal budget was explicitly predicated on there being a mass vaccination next year. You don’t have to be an anti-vaxxer to see that the history of vaccination programs is not all smooth sailing. There’s been plenty of screws ups. This idea that we’ll get a vaccine and everything will be peaches and cream is very optimistic in my opinion.

    Funny about the Auspost execs. I worked briefly at AusPost and that year Ahmed Farquour was the CEO and he gave his bonus to the employees because they missed out on theirs. Never liked that guy but at least there was some kind of noblesse oblige in his gesture. So, we’ve got ABC, Auspost execs and stevedore unions refusing to freeze their pay and take one for the team. That’s a motley crue if ever there was one 🙂


  15. Hi Simon,

    The vibe in Melbourne sure is weird, and I’m certainly seeing plenty of people thumbing their noses at the ongoing restrictions – despite the risk of serious fines. Dunno, but it looks to me a lot like a deeply sullen response – especially when new case numbers are less than can be counted on two hands.

    I noticed more than a few people not wearing masks at all in the inner northern suburbs – and interestingly the checkpoint I had to travel through to exit the metropolitan area had a new request for people to wear masks (whilst in their vehicles). That was a new requirement to me.

    To be candid I am wondering if this is all somehow linked to our states decision to go it alone on the belt and road initiative. An unwise geopolitical move, but then there is also advantage to be gained in division, and geopolitically we are walking both stories and both pleasing and displeasing our masters. Dunno. The US rescued us from the Japanese during WWII and we owe them a debt. Lest we forget.

    Anyway, I purchased a physical copy of your book. Too much screen time makes for difficult reading for me, sorry to say. But a physical book, well that is a thing of beauty to enjoy. I look forward to reading it. As a bit of feedback, the river platform made it awfully hard to purchase the book as the captcha’s were way out there esoteric. Eventually I just used the audible captcha. And just for good measure they chucked in two factor authentication. WTF?

    As to mass vaccinations, well the new narrative could be possibly described as: ‘The Never Ending Problem’. 🙂 Get ready for the next surprise…

    Have you noticed that kids in years 7 to 10 are not getting back to school any time soon? If you wanted a willing workforce of apprentices, the best thing to do would be to derail their educational dreams. University is over rated after all.

    Honestly, the policies are so transparent that I’m a little bit in awe.

    Incidentally a number of Universities have also trod that path and with regrettable real world consequences. I would have voted for a pay cut as it would have been in the best interests of all, but most institutions decided otherwise. Bonkers.

    To quote one of my favourite songs: It’s hard to dance with a devil on your back, so shake it off!

    There is an amazing atmospheric river with origins in the Indian Ocean to the far north west of the continent. Watch out, it looks set to dump some solid rain tonight and tomorrow. Exciting stuff.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Well yeah, that is the thing isn’t it? It drives me bonkers as I point to this supply incident or that supply incident, and people suggest to me that yeah I hear you, but look at this plenty over here. What do you do? I’m busy plugging gaps and sorting things out.

    At the moment I’m re-reading Mr Kunstler’s fine work: ‘The World Made by Hand’ series of four books. And I read today a minor and very fleeting reference to the central point of this week’s essay in the text. Oh well, it is a truth universally acknowledged that the best ideas are other peoples… On the other hand, it is nice to see that predictions can often turn into realities. The world that the author created was a place I’d enjoy living in, despite the inherent risks. But perhaps this farm is already located in a rather risky locale, so perhaps the reality is that I need to feel alive and like I’m living.

    The battery cheer leaders often make an implicit assumption which drives me totally bonkers. They suggest that battery technology will somehow just get cheaper just because they say it will be so. I’m pretty sure that Star Trek Dilithium crystals are a make believe technology. Like where the heck does that idea even come from that somehow things will get cheaper? Do houses get cheaper? I think not. And what is the supposition based upon? It sounds like a statement of faith that the deepest delver into a cult would suggest so as to support their position. My thoughts on the subject are that it is very unlikely that batteries will get cheaper any time soon. And experience has taught me that things will be otherwise.

    Speaking of the innovation delusion a mate of mine used to volunteer at ‘repair cafes’ and the stories he told me about waste would shrivel your bowels in fright.

    Yes, it is unfortunately true. I heard someone not long ago suggesting that it is an inherent feature of our species that we move to safety. So freedoms get chucked out the window. Mate, you haven’t been in Melbourne recently… Far out.

    I pay little notice of such groups. The media is obsessed about far-right groups, when the far-left groups are every bit as dangerous, if not worse. I have stood in the killing fields of Cambodia maybe a year or so after Pol Pot and his cronies were given short shrift by the Vietnamese army. Mate, the trenches could be seen and there were chunks of clothes sticking up out of the ground. And not just the occasional bit of fabric, but more than the brain could comprehend. I don’t need to be told a second time to be wary of what our fine fellows are capable of doing. I must add that in those days the tourist spots there were rather quiet and hauntingly beautiful.

    But yes, it is wise to keep one’s ear to the ground and keep abreast of the currents and eddies. Try not to get washed away by the surf whilst your head is upside down – or near to the ground. You mentioned to me a while back that dogs enjoy looking at the world upsides down, just because. They run the risk of other dogs in the near vicinity biting their exposed under-bits. Perhaps I spend too long hanging out with dogs?

    It is super weird that some businesses can open and not appear to make any financial sense. Trusts are a possibility. Deep assets with which to draw upon is another possibility. And don’t forget that some folks indulge in money laundering. Never encountered one of those, fortunately. It would be a dark pit which you could never climb out of.

    I dunno why the young lady put up with the rubbish from that particular old mate. One can never really know another persons motivations, but I was wondering if some sort of grooming hadn’t gone on. I would never have refused the editor if put in that same circumstance, but everyone is different. However, there are costs to actions and I was wondering how the lady pushed back at my old mates actions? Life would be neat if it worked out that way, but last I heard he scored the pot of money, but it came with costs.

    Mellona if the current images are any indication looks like a winsome lass. Indigitamenta unfortunately gave me a laugh. Dunno why but for some reason I had a bizarre notion that it would have been similar to catalogues such as DSV-IV.

    OK, so say you had to go with to the local for a pub feed and had to choose between the two saints, well it’s a no brainer and most certainly I would pick Mellona. 🙂 Now let’s say theoretically that particular choice was deemed unsuitable, I’d probably hang out with Saint Ambrose as from reading of his background he seems more super-chill and probably wouldn’t waste the lost hour berating me about doctrine. You have to admit that it would get rather tiresome to be out for a fun evening only to be berated, or even worse held in the company of a total dullard. Heaven spare us from such an awful fate. 🙂

    Mate, I don’t know about the arsenic in rice err, situation. What I do know after much travel in Asia is that an awful lot of people consume an awful lot of rice. As a wee comparison, just before the dreaded potato famine, many folks in that so affected blight ridden country were consuming a diet sourced from of up to 90% potato product. Any policy taken to extremes can be made to look bad. Some extremes are actually bad, so best mix the food stuff in with other grains and then you don’t have to worry about it.

    Now having just said that I have to out myself as feeling a bit ooky with bay leaves for similar reasons. However the trees were purchased from reputable sources and so they probably are what they are. Hopefully.

    Speaking of atmospheric rivers. Actually no we weren’t, but we are now!!! La Nina rocks out: Wet and stormy week in Australia. Check out the awesome satellite image. It is hard to miss the atmospheric river. And it is a touch wet outside right now…

    Yes, of course, the ferns would love the conditions of the rotting timber. 😉 Hey, I fed the entire fern gully with huge quantities of the wood chips as supplied by the nice electricity company months and months ago, and they are doing so well. You can see how the fronds unfurl, but you probably see heaps of that going on in your corner of the world.

    There is a similar carnivorous marsupial animal in Tasmania which would give chicken coops a run for their mad cash: The spotted quoll, or A.K.A. native cat.

    Believe it or not, the house had a sold sticker on it today. That must be something of a record. It usually takes up to a year to sell rural property, but not now. No sir-ee. I hope the purchaser actually physically inspected the property, but whatever, as that ain’t my problem.

    The shooting in the back thing actually did happen down here. It may have been in Sydney and the crim pushed things pretty far and allegedly made threats as to future escapades, and the homeowner allegedly shot him in the back as the crim fled. I guess the problem goes away at that point.

    Hehe! Yes, we get such sorts down here too. You think a dairy farm and car wreckers is bad news. Someone apparently moved next to the Sydney Opera house and complained enough that the volume is now closely monitored. I’ve heard stories of audibility difficulties for patrons. Bonkers. At such places they need to turn things up. Why would anyone move next to such a place and believe it to be otherwise?

    The pea story is a mystery to me too. But sweet pea grows around the farm like the true helpful weed that it is.

    Well, I’d like to believe that Mike would have approved of the gesture. There was no financial loss to anyone for me having acted so – just to set the record straight. It just wasn’t quite legit.

    I dunno about the grape vines, and I tell ya that years ago I encountered by sheer chance the oldest grape vine in the state. The grape vine certainly didn’t look as though it was heavily pruned, in fact the vine was enormous, and more importantly in a pub far off in the north east of the state. Which was closed at the time, but I could see the vine and read the fascinating information sign.

    Did you just type the words ‘musical’? My mind is a haze of I dunno, something or other. I forget. Your most judicious use of the fast forward button does you credit. Hehe! Out of curiosity, how did the zombies in the movie contribute to the well being of the small town? It seems like a big ask.



  17. Hi, Chris!

    “Fearless gardening” – we can do nothing else with our sites, you and Lew (who the term came from) and I.

    I came across another quote last night, uttered tongue-in-cheek:

    “A great many people have become fiscally crippled of late”. 1930s, P. G. Wodehouse

    That is the most perfect greenhouse ever, especially with the two non-vegetable inhabitants in it. Already in business, too.

    Thanks for the flowers. We still have quite a few, but they dwindle.


  18. @ Inge:

    That is what we do with our vehicles when a dead branch too high up to remove becomes noticed over the driveway where we park them – we park the vehicle somewhere else until such a time as the branch falls. This can sometimes be a long time.


  19. Chris:

    Did the oldest vine in the state produce many grapes? I mean, recently? We pruned the heck out of our one grape vine this spring and early summer, 3 different times, I think – and got quite a few more grapes than usual. And this, in a shady spot.


  20. Yo, Chris – Supply lines. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. 🙂 . I got a book, yesterday, from the most excellent cut-rate book place, Hamilton Books. “Britain After Rome: The Fall and Rise 400 to 1070” (Fleming). Pretty interesting, as (so far) it really takes a look at the economics of the situation. Part of it is the idea that surplus (which expands or maintains the economy) began to dry up, for one reason or another. Also, by about 350, the town infrastructure was beginning to fall apart. But at the same time, money was being spent on lavish villas. There was a shift, among the money folks. Instead of pouring money into civic projects, to display your Roman “flash”, Roman flash was displayed on a more private level. It was civic disengagement. So, why? Perhaps it just wasn’t important to wow the plebs anymore. Or, the central government, for that matter.

    Re-reading “World Made by Hand?” Looking for a blueprint? 🙂 .

    I think, maybe, that assumption that batteries will get cheaper is just another bait and switch, from the Innovation crowd. DVDs were going to be cheaper than VHS and CDs were going to be cheaper than records. Didn’t happen, did it?

    The book on innovation had a chapter on repair cafes. And other DIY workshops. Hand in hand with that is the whole “right to repair” movement. Some libraries are building up collections of tools, that can be checked out, just like books (remember those?)

    No argument from me. Left or right, conservative or liberal, extremist groups can be dangerous.

    I can’t say I’ve ever run across money laundering, up close and personal, either. But, having just watched “The Deuce,” it’s certainly in evidence. Fat envelopes of cash going hither and yon. Any business that deals in large amounts of cash, especially in small amounts, but with great volume, is suspect. Laundermats, come to mind. I must admit, when I’m having “work” of one type or another done, I make it clear up front that I pay cash. Sometimes I get a bit of a discount. Now, if the business pays every penny of tax due, is none of my concern. Which is why some quarters push for a “cashless” society. I’ve seen businesses that even post signs that say, “Discount for cash.” The question, “Do you want a receipt” is also thought provoking. When I take the coin that collects, in the natural course of things, to the bank, and run it through the counting machine, I think it’s interesting that I get a receipt (from the machine), and if I want cash, I take it to a teller … who deposits it into my account, and then disperses the cash from my account. Why? Tracking. A record.

    I think the Roman Indigitamenta was an attempt to make sure that all the vast mob of deities were perpituated (the 10¢ word of the day.) No one (at least Roman) wanted to brass off a deity through benign neglect. I think it was the Greeks who occasionally set up alters to “The Unknown God.” Just in case there was someone out there, that they didn’t know about.

    Actually, St. Valentine makes a lot of sense. Given the amount of candy, slopping around on St. Valentine’s Day. 🙂 . But, honey was important to the Romans, as you know, it was about the only major sweetener, they had.

    That’s quit some atmospheric river you have, going there. Looks pretty much like our AKA fire hose. I see there’s been some pretty terrible floods, along the French / Italian border. Atlantic Magazine has a picture feature, and it’s pretty grim.

    Well, it seems rural properties are being snapped up at a terrific rate, worldwide. Although, my Idaho friends are going to drop the price of their house, a bit. LOL, people running off to the countryside. I hope they don’t mind the smells, eye sores and poor or no internet service. I wonder if the net of communications satellites that Mr. Musk is shooting into space will help that last problem?

    Well, there were all sorts of problems with the Disney zombie movie. The economics of the whole thing didn’t seem to make much sense, except for one ice cream vendor, who sold “interesting” flavors to the zombies. The plot, such as it was, had something to do with a “moonstone” crystal, that the early pioneers discovered was some incredible (a dilithium crystal?) power source. That ran the town and gave them prosperity. For some reason, they were going to decommission their crystal plant. Why? Unknown. And, a replacement power source? Unknown. Actually, the whole point of the film, was to illustrate how good it is when humans, zombies and werewolves, WORK TOGETHER!!! I really expected them to launch into choirs of “Kumbaya”, or, being Disney, “It’s a Small World, After All.” Maybe that pop soda commercial about the whole world singing. Maybe they did. Those are the parts I fast forwarded, through.

    Much more satisfying was the film I watched, last night. “The First Cow.” The first 5 minutes or so are in the present. You get to see some nice shots of the Columbia River, with huge ocean going ships. Portland is a deep water port. Then we’re back to 1830 (or, thereabouts) Oregon Territory. A man is in the woods picking … chanterelle mushrooms! I really can’t say much else (spoilers), but if you want to get a good look at what our forests really look like, this movie has it in spades. And, there’s cooking! Given that the nickname of one of the primaries is “Cookie.” I must also say that finally, a film got the Pacific Northwest natives, “right”, as far as dress. Our folks got most of their fibers, from cedar trees. Which are pretty good at shedding water. So you see lots of capes and hats made out of twisted cedar fiber. Not to be confused with the “twists” that everyone is hawking, and using as a medium of exchange, early on. Those “twists” were tobacco. You also get to hear a bit of Chinook jargon. It was a trading language, spoken on the frontier. Anyway. I quit enjoyed the film, and recommend it.

    I’ve got two racks of tomatoes in the dehydrator. An orange “cherry” tomato, that has a very nice taste. Lew

  21. Chris,

    That’s brutal weather for early to mid spring, well, for you. That’s not atypical for here, but can totally devastate your growing season. Hey, but you got a greenhouse that should help!

    Sister had it tough that year. The previous 8th grade teacher was very unique and upbeat and cheerful and talented and very popular. Oh, some chap named Bing Crosby was the uncle of the previous teacher, who had the family musical and acting talents along with a mathematical genius of her own. To say that we were disappointed that her order had moved her would be an understatement. So some of the students never even tried to be human, but took it out on the new Sister. So yes, some of us cheered wildly when she literally unseated one of the troublemakers.

    Some of the others enjoyed bullying one of my friends, who Sister decided would be the lead and hero in a small play, set in the 1880s “old west”. Rather than acting, the bullies truly pushed and hit him hard during the rehearsals. I had a small role as a Native who swung a tomahawk at some of the baddies. So, when they hit my friend rather hard, I swung very hard for someone’s head. He ducked and got rather angry, stopping the rehearsal. I calmly told him, loud enough for ALL to hear, that if they hit my friend that hard during the play, I’d make sure I didn’t miss during the play, no matter how many tries it took. They toned things down a bit. And to put one thing in perspective, I was VERY small for my age and was dwarfed by the other boys in that class, yet they still got the message. I guess having a hard wooden hatchet narrowly missing your head will do that.

    The old Commodore 64 keyboard was almost indestructible. IIRC, it took second place only to the old American Tourister luggage, the stuff that passed “The Old Gorilla Test”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q5sEIWlQO7A

    Yes, I enjoy watching the Kool-Aid makers falling victim to their own foolishness. Doesn’t always happen, but it sure is fun to watch when it does!

    Rain forecast for this weekend, then on to more normal October weather. I can’t remember it being this hot this late before. And to think that in 2019, we were having snow showers in September and throughout October!


  22. Hi Pam,

    I couldn’t say whether the oldest vine in the state produced any grapes at all. I defer to your good self as I have very little experience with the plants. The 10 vines growing here are only a bit over two years old now, and Ruby chomped one of them in half… The vine is in the town of Chiltern in the north east of the state of Victoria, but I noticed that the state of South Australia boasts of older vines.

    Yes, absolutely, how challenging are the sites we find ourselves in? Hmm. Tell you what though, the challenge gets a persons brain working.

    Thanks for the P. G. Wodehouse quote. Had a number of interesting conversations with bank staff of various stations today.

    Thank you for the lovely and kind words. Ollie sends cordial tail wags to you and yours. Would you believe it, but the four varieties of lentils have all sprouted inside the greenhouse? Wow!

    2 inches of rain has fallen in the past 24 hours…

    Hopefully the rain doesn’t wash away the flowers, but I should be able to rustle some images up for next week. 🙂

    Hope it is not too cold there yet?



  23. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comment, however I’m going to dodge you and reply tomorrow evening. I decided today to have a quieter day, sort of like a mental health care day. The day was most enjoyable.

    Promise to speak tomorrow.


  24. Hi Lewis,

    All that talk of super-chill this and super-chill that yesterday made me want to have a quieter day today, and so I did just that. Feeling super-chill as a direct result – it’s a nice feeling. 🙂 A lamington was definitely involved.

    2 inches of rain has fallen so far from the atmospheric river, and there seems to be no end to this rain. It is rather damp outside. At about 3am, or it may have been 4am, the rain was so intense that it woke me up. And upon hearing that deluge hammering on the roof of the house, I had to get out of bed and check the water inlet filters on the water tanks. A good thing I did too, because the filters had blocked up and a house load of collected water was spilling down the sides of one of the two water tanks. It was easy enough to clean the stuff out of the filter, but I sort of ended up rather damp despite the large and sturdy umbrella. Very few water systems can cope with such a deluge, but the side benefit is that the drains and roof get a thorough cleaning.

    Why-ever in the middle of the night this would happen is a most important and little asked question? I fully expect that most other people in the area probably just let the water run, but that erosion can create a lot of damage and basically I can’t sleep well if that sort of thing is going on. Oh well.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. Interesting indeed about the reallocation of surplus wealth from the public to the private villas of the western Romans. The idea makes a certain form of sense from an economic perspective. Yes, I can see how that happens. Plus people eventually get weird and forget how the surplus wealth was accumulated in the first place. And weird rapidly turns to soft, and they can no longer hold onto it. In order to protect those private interests, it takes a lot of public wealth, and if it is being hoarded and concentrated, then yeah the villa folk might be in for a big surprise – as no doubt they were. Armies are not cheap.

    Hehe! Yes, inspiration can be found in al sorts of areas – and Mr Kunstler introduces many subtle themes and ideas in those four books.

    Oh yeah, CD’s and DVD’s were definitely not cheaper than say a vinyl LP’s or magnetic audio tape. I suspect that the price may be indicative of what the market can bear paying, and there is an element of that too. Large batteries like the ones I got my hands on involve mining and refining efforts that boggle my mind. They might come down in price, but then again, they might not. My money is leaning towards the not coming down in price story.

    There was an article on the ABC news website about a journalist taking an electric vehicle on a long country drive of several days. At some points, the journo only just made it to the next charging station, and what interested me was that it was casually mentioned that a normal standard household powerpoint which down here can provide a continuous supply of 2.4kW is not enough – even if left overnight – to charge an electric vehicle. And then it may have been mentioned that the vehicles will come down in price. Those things are way expensive. And what really surprises me is that nobody seems to notice that closing down large scale electricity generators without replacing them, is an incompatible goal with a greater uptake of electric vehicles. Bonkers – that’s what it is. You can do one, or the other, but not both in this circumstance.

    Maybe the Romans in Britain towards the end faced those competing choices? And then failed abysmally.

    Sorry mate, I’m having a quiet day today. Will speak tomorrow.



  25. Chris,

    Quiet days taking care of oneself are vastly important. Glad you took some time off! I can sense one of those quiet days approaching for maybe Saturday.


  26. Yo, Chris – There’s probably a mechanism and an ap, to clear out the water intakes, while you lay toasty in bed. What could possible go wrong? Somehow, I got an image in my head of you being whisked off, by an errant gust of wind. Like Mary Poppins! 🙂 . Like rust, erosion never sleeps. Reading your post, I got to thinking about one section of our back slope, that’s getting a bit of a canyon, carved in it, during heavy rains. I wonder if I put a couple of big rocks, where the gully beings (it’s actually a very small gully, so far), would break up and slow down the flow of water? I might talk to the Master Gardener’s about it.

    Armies are not cheap, but, if there’s no military or civilian oversight, the roads become unsafe and our old friends the supply lines break down. As often happened in the Camulod series. Best you can do is travel in large groups, and provide your own security. Sometimes it works, sometimes not.

    The author of “Britain After Rome” also looked at three town responses, in the 5th century. After stating that there was very little written evidence, and a lot unknown. In one area, the towns emptied out, but a hill fort was re-enforced and re-occupied. Up on the Wall, a quasi-military (war lord?) culture developed around a few of the old forts. And, in another town, the suburbs were abandoned, walls re-enforced and a lot of former activities (farming, etc.) that were done outside the walls, moved inside. There was general depopulation (plague, emigration to “safer” parts of the empire). But, in the early part of the 5th century, there were still people around who remembered what it was like to live in a well regulated society. The author wonders what they thought.

    Well, the cost of solar panels, came down. But not the batteries. The story about the journalist and the electric car reminded me of an interview I heard, with two cheerleaders for self driving cars. The journalist did get to the level of “what about avoiding pedestrians”, and, of course, they said that the car would detect people’s devices. But the journalist never took it to the next level. What about people who don’t have, or want, devices? I guess we’re road kill. And, I suppose, you’d better keep your software, updated!

    Once a month, a big truck shows up to shred “sensitive” documents. I noticed the motto on the side, this morning. “Secure Destruction You Can Trust.” Got my mind going. I wonder if you can contract with them, to take out that irritating small village, over the hill? Or, maybe a political opponent? 🙂 .

    So, you’ve taken a kick-back, day. Called a “mental health day,” in some quarters. Lamingtons are all well and good, but where’s the meat pies? Or, is that gilding the lilly?

    Well, that got me to ruminating. But first, a disclaimer. Some of the stuff I’m going to discuss does NOT reflect on the Editor, and you. The two of your work harder than any ten people I know (keeping in mind I live in an old folks institution.) 🙂 . You pay your dues. Take any down-time you can snatch. That being said …

    Somewhere, over the last couple of days, I read something about a cultural thing, where people think they deserve things. Maybe it was in the “extras” of the series, “Dispatches from Elsewhere.” Which I’m almost done with. And how that attitude may be injurious to people and societies. Which rang a small bell, in my head.

    Years ago, there was an advertising campaign. You heard it everywhere, and it went on for along time. “You deserve a break, today.” It was as popular as, and right up there with, “Have it your way.” I’m beginning to wonder if some of the ills of society, can’t be marked down to advertising? It enhanced some people’s natural inclinations, that they had kept tamped down. Which leads us to “You can’t tell me what to do.” Which I think, is a motto on our money. 🙂 . Recently, a fellow shot two people (killed one) because he got mayo, on his hamburger. Another hurricane is barreling toward our gulf coast, and, per usual, some people will not evacuate. Because, you know, “You can’t tell me what to do.” You think Darwin would have sorted this all out, by now. Lew

  27. Hi Chris,
    You asked if grew peas. I only grow pea pods or snap peas even though I love fresh shelled peas. It’s just too labor intensive. When I had more room I did grow and shell some but like I said the time involved just wasn’t worth what I got harvest wise.

    I sure hope you don’t have another bad growing season. At least your seedlings will be OK in the greenhouse.

    The next few weeks are filling up more than I’d like so may not comment as much as usual. Still having company and I’m trying to get all the fall work done outside as well.

    The pigs had their one bad day yesterday. The first one was a real hassle to load but the other three went in pretty well. Doug is thinking of selling the trailer he’s had for 35 years and getting a used stock trailer that will have a ramp that’s much less steep. He can just open it and put it up by the pen a week or so before loading so they can get used to it. Beautiful weather but we are now inundated with wasps, yellow jackets, stink bugs and asian beetles. The beetles can get through any hole and end up in the house. This seems to be a particularly bad year. Supposed to go out to lunch tomorrow outdoors but wonder if the yellow jackets will be an issue.


  28. Hi Chris,

    Let me know when you receive the book. I’ll be interested to see how long it takes to arrive. One of the Australian online retailers picked it up and added $9 to the price. That’s less than they added to my fiction books where they almost doubled the price! Then they say there are no returns even though I specified that returns are acceptable. It’s ridiculous. I know exactly how these online stores are set up from a technical point of view. There is no work required on their part. They just shuffle data around and take a cut. So, there’s no reason for them to jack up the price that much. It’s just profiteering. It’s also dumb business because I’m not going to refer anybody to their site. For all the hate that Amazon gets, at least they use the price I set.

    Australia is in an interesting position because politicians and health officials can’t afford for the test positive rate to spike beyond even very low numbers. The result is that they are in permanent doom and gloom mode. Not sure if you saw that NSW got 12 cases and the health minister there was saying how you’re not safe at home anymore because somebody apparently got it at home. Imagine if that goes on for a year or two. Just endless pessimism from our so-called leaders.

    One of my favourite tv series is Civilisation by Kenneth Clarke. Worth a watch if you haven’t seen it. He says societies are very rarely defeated from they outside. They normally implode through lack of confidence. That certainly seems to be where we’re headed at the moment.

  29. Hi Chris,

    That’s a great greenhouse you’ve built! Speaking of spare parts, I had a mower that needed fixing. Rats had gnawed their way through the fuel tank to drink the delicious fluids within (we get a special kind of petro-rat in Cornwall) so I needed to buy a new one. Long story short, it took three months for the part to arrive, with the repair guy saying they were ‘almost out’ of spares for all sorts of garden machinery and no idea when (or if) they’d be available again. Good job I had a scythe as backup, which did the job albeit with a bit more effort. Other bits of equipment are also starting to get scarce.

    I’m watching a TV programme at the moment that I’m sure would resonate with you. “Long Way Up” is an epic motorbike trip by the Scottish actor Ewan McGregor, and his mate Charlie. They are travelling all the way from the tip of Chile to Los Angeles – and they are doing it on prototype electric Harley Davidsons. Honestly – it is such an eye opener for them, as well as the viewer! The first episode they were filled with idealistic musings about helping the planet etc, but then reality set in once the trip started …

    I’d say the main theme of the whole show is them grappling with the limitations they hadn’t even thought about. For example, the bikes don’t seem to be able to charge off anything but uninterrupted grid supply – and they won’t charge in the cold (they have to bring the bikes overnight into their hotel bedrooms in Chile and Argentina). On a couple of occasions (so far) they’ve had to have a large diesel generator dispatched to them on the back of a truck while they are stuck in the middle of nowhere! This is despite the company which built their electric back up car fleet flying out to install charging points every 100 miles along their route. The custom-built electric car backup fleet also keeps running out of juice in tricky situations.

    Still, I’m only on episode four, so we shall see how it goes. I do enjoy watching these kind of adventures, and they are pioneering spirits in a way.

    Hope all is well.


  30. Hi Inge,

    Who knew about the arsenic in brown rice? Honestly even mentioning the chemical puts me in mind of the film: Arsenic and Old Lace. Quite amusing in a very dark comedic way. 🙂 Let’s hope nobody interpreted the film in the literal sense and decided that it was a ‘how to’ manual.

    Far out, the winds roared and the rain was a deluge and it all woke me up in the middle of the night again last night. Two nights in a row of disturbed sleep… Only those who have epic trees within their immediate vicinity would understand the undocumented side effects of such winds. Fortunately there were no trees down here, but elsewhere on the mountain range I noticed plenty of downed trees and limbs.



  31. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for understanding. There is a time for work, and then there is a time for recharging the batteries with a tiny bit of self reflection chucked in for good measure. It would be unwise after all to indulge in too much introspection, so a little bit is OK by me.

    In the end 60mm of rain fell and outside everything is wet and damp. This of course is an opportunity for a late season burn off, and my intention tomorrow is to do just that. There was a massive old and very dead yet-in-the-air tree stump left over from the loggers that was on the edge of the forest that I’ve long wanted to burn off. Tomorrow is the day. I have no idea what the loggers were thinking leaving the stump in that rather precarious state, but near to it I discovered a broken cable of reasonable diameter and just know there is an untold story there – possibly involving a large bulldozer. Oh well…

    In many respects, we share a remarkably similar climate and things can vary wildly. I’ve seen photos of snow on Christmas day in this area, and that is only a few days after the summer solstice. The day I met Joel Salatin, who was a guest of a nearby farm, he remarked with a sense of trepidation that having to live with such a climate of extremes that can be found down here – with frost risk any day of the calendar year which was mentioned by way of example – would be a difficult situation. So yeah, atypical is the way of things.

    As always there is more to stories than meets the eye. Deeper currents, and hidden meanings is the word that you heard. Actually that is several words, but you get the gist of my meaning. 😉 Ouch. So I listened to Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra sing their Christmas song and can’t really argue or dispute their individual performances as they both were equal talents, no doubts about it. Dunno whether I’m a fan of the warbling technique they employ with their voice, but the talent is just kind of out there all the same…

    You’re good! Can’t say for certain, but you kind of informed the other kids that there would be consequences for their actions. Respect. Mate, kids are brutal little animals despite their parents convictions to the contrary. A well handled hatchet can provide all the advantage that one needs when in a tight corner. 😉 Far out, I too was a small and skinny kid, but the more English than the English grammar school taught me to fight through sheer necessity. The kids were organised enough to arrange for after school fights. It took one of those sessions for me to wake up to the simple fact that I knew nothing of that culture, and the local dojo at night for many years filled me in on the finer points of the not so gentle art. What else do you do – but a tomahawk is a admittedly a handy bit of kit, oh yeah.

    Thanks for the ads, very amusing. The gorilla test reminded me of the infamous and apparently made up at the last minute but now well regarded, moose-test. Whatever will they think of next?

    Yes, it is a truth universally known that those who pedal Kool-Aid as a solution, eventually fall victim to the same. The universe does have some neat tricks up its sleeve – just like Bullwinkle…

    How did the Rez go with the epic fires this season? You’d kind of hope that things are settling down on that front now?



  32. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for the advice regarding the peas. They truly are a plant that seems to dodge and weave and just play the total trickster down here. But then just to really mess with my head, one random year they’ll produce a bumper crop. Hmm, you’ve provided much to dwell upon.

    Ah, of course different varieties of pea, and I’m guessing that snow peas are a snap-pea variety? The entire pod is consumed in that case. Very tasty too, it is just the plant is elusive. Oh well. And yes, there are easier plants than those if space is at a premium.

    The climate here sometimes does my head in. From Monday through to today, we’ve barely had an hours peak sunlight per day which is totally bonkers for this time of year. Thick cloud blocked out the sun most days and the wood heater has run at night. The plants in the greenhouse have sort of stalled. And two and half inches of rain fell. Anyway, it looks like things are slowly warming up from tomorrow. Crazy stuff.

    No worries, I always look forward to your comments and hearing about the ongoing account of activities at your place.

    I intend to try out the new second hand scary old wood chipper tomorrow. Fingers crossed the machine works as intended. It’s a real old school beast of a machine that one. Plus we’re going to try and get in a good burn off whilst everything is so damp.

    Don’t we all get one bad day? I tend to focus more upon all of the good days. 🙂 Margaret, my mates of the big shed fame raise and process all of their pigs on site (with the help of a butcher) and the meat is superb, and I say that as a person who eats vegetarian when at home. The meat produced is far superior to store bought ham.

    It is funny you say that about the trailer, but the editor and I do a similar thing and feel much the same about infrastructure and machines here. You do the hard yards for years and years – like with your old trailer – and then one day you’ve just had enough with it, and can be in a position to do something about it. Whatever makes life easier seems to be worth the effort and expense.

    Speaking of which, I had the tree dudes up here today working, and those blokes can do more work in a few hours than I can do in days and days. So yeah, sometimes you just have to chuck some money at a problem. And hope the new stock trailer works well for you and Doug.

    Yeah, the European wasps (or your yellow jackets) really need traps to be set. It is a revolting job cleaning out one of those traps, but what else can you do? I’ve never had to set out a trap here yet, but I can imagine that eventually there may come a time when one is necessary. The bees and other insects on the other hand are doing very well.



  33. Hi Simon,

    No worries at all, and the book was not at the post office this morning. I’ll shoot you an email when it turns up. Fair enough too about the river of stuff site, and I don’t waste energy bagging off such behemoths because they are occasionally useful. 🙂 It is a bit like busting the arse of a rabid and highly vocal vegetarian who you are otherwise quite fond of, whilst they were caught red-handed down at Danny’s burgers in Fitzroy North in the wee hours of the morning chowing down on an old school burger. You know the type!

    It’s actually a really good thing that your book was picked up by a large online retailer, despite the apparent profiteering. There’s quite a decent market for non-fiction books. It’s a bit sad, but I really do miss the epic and over scaled Borders store down in Carlton which used to be open until 11pm. You could just cruise the well stocked shelves. And, um, it is possible though I might be wrong, but I can’t ever recall exiting that store without a book in my hand.

    The bookshelves lining the hallway are groaning under the collected weight of paper… And doors have become a highly desirable item on the ‘to do’ list in relation to the bookshelves due to the dust issue. Might have to do something about the whole arrangement sooner or later. What do you do with bookshelves at your place?

    Ah, the awful never ending story – it sounds like a nice story line until you find yourself stuck in the details. It looks like the recent news accounts are that things will not be lifted any time soon. What do you do when your leaders are proposing the impossible goal. Goals after all should be achievable for them to be feasible.

    I give you music: Slowly Slowly wrote us a Quarantune for those in lockdown simply called ‘Melbourne’

    Thanks for the reference. Never heard of it, but then I’d never heard of Herman Hesse either, and my education is sadly lacking – which you lot are assisting rectifying! Dunno about you, but it is fair to say that these things are a journey rather than a destination. 🙂



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Have you ever encountered a subject that is much discussed, but at the same time no clear answer ever emerges from the primordial murk of conversation? Devices and mechanisms designed to avoid the dreaded situation of clogged up filters in water collection systems which fail at inopportune times due to heavy quantities of rainfall and accumulated muck are a topic of conversation among the rural cognoscenti. It is a bit like discussing the weather and all opinions can be placed upon the table and examined! Other subjects are not so thoughtfully dissected, unfortunately.

    I intended another day of slow cooked mental health care, but the forces of life had alas, other plans in store. Still it is nice that the ‘store’ in this case is still open for business. Hehe! Far out. The tree dudes arrived this morning and did some good work. There was this old and burnt in 1983 bifurcated tree stump which the loggers had bizarrely left hanging up on a rock so that it air dried. Anyway, I got the tree dudes to drop it to the ground so that I can begin burning it off tomorrow. A nice day of cleaning up the forest will do my head the world of good. Anyway, those tree dudes worked pretty hard and I’m glad they did that particular job with the tree stump. My chainsaw is described as the Magnum, which is all very masculine and stuff. The tree stump by way of comparison would be the Megalodon. A freakin epic thing, just like those prehistoric sharks.

    And whilst the tree dudes were working, the editor and I sailed the wide and choppy accountant-seas. Fun times on the high seas. Yup. News today was that there is only a 50/50 chance that restrictions in the big smoke will be lifted. The mood is getting grim down there.

    Your image of Mary Poppins getting tossed hither and yon by the mighty winds two evenings ago was quite alarming. Mary Poppins was made of sterner stuff than I, that’s for sure. But yes, erosion can eat slowly, but sometimes it can consume voraciously, leaving not much in its wake. We tend to use rocks to do that job of slowing the speed of water, because that seems to be the trick of it. The rocks also disperse the energy of the water which you don’t really want to concentrate anywhere.

    Exactly that is the thing with armies. The trick might be to assess the cost/benefit of such a fighting force and also keep them honed. No point if they take their pay but they are useless at their task. Common sense really.

    Wow, the suggested responses to Britain After Rome, makes for difficult hearing. How many towns these days have walls? Mate, if the state government can’t seem to stop city folks from heading into the rural areas, well it just looks like one big system set to fail from my perspective. Incidentally emigration to other parts of the country has been going on from this state. I recall that the same process happened during the recession of the early 90’s, and the editors best friend did that trick too in those days. You think life is smooth sailing, but then someone puts a hole in the boat and you start taking in water. What do you do?

    So true, solar panels are cheaper, but the wire is most definitely not cheaper. Far out that stuff is wicked expensive. And the system relies on many components, not just the solar panels. So people are basically bonkers and talking rubbish about this technology.

    I see that Jason Happenstall has mentioned a Ewan McGregor electric motorcycle story which I believe Damo also mentioned. To be candid, the stories told match my experiences with battery technologies. It’s good stuff, but it ain’t nearly good enough.

    Phooey to that! My device is not detectable to other devices as I switched all that unnecessary technology off. It can be done, but the stupid device keeps trying to switch the various bits and bobs back on again, although my ear sometimes when pressed to the screen is part of the problem there. Oh well. A lot of the contact tracing applications utilise those technologies, and it is all good until someone points a finger at you (or runs you over in their autonomous vehicle) and they’re in the wrong. I have strong opinions about the fallibility of technology.

    What a great motto for a rampaging band of Vandals or other assorted Barbarians: Secure destruction you can trust. Hehe! Hopefully not coming to a village near you soon…

    You’re good! Yes of course there was the mentioned lamingtons, but there was also a very excellent: Beef and Mushroom pie. Yes, yes, I am a vegetarian, but sometimes and this occurs when at home. However one must flexible in their outlook and like they used to say back in the day: When in Rome. Did I mention the Eccles cake? The baker teased us with a cake warm from the baking oven. So good.

    Unfortunately belief is fine and all, but expectations of deserving things is a belief system. And sometimes such systems work, and sometimes they don’t work. But yes, expectations have somehow gotten out of step with reality and unfortunately we find ourselves in the land of less stuff, and this is a real problem for many who are used to more. They have my sympathy, but you know, we work and we work hard, and were discussing retirement the other day with the tacit acknowledgement that this would be unlikely for at least two decades. My mum retired on a nice wicket in her mid fifties from memory, and that outcome seems just staggering from my perspective. Getting paid not to work seems like an odd thing to me, but I dunno plenty of people get to enjoy that state of affairs. I dunno. Seriously that one has me beat.

    Of course advertising, and available energy per capita and loose economic policies has lead to where we are today. It’s not a pretty sight, but humans are pretty adaptable.

    I’ve been coming around to the perspective that school kids in year 7 to 10 are getting messed around right now so that they cast off their parents yokes of University dreams. Hmm. Strange days indeed.



  35. Chris:

    Do take care of yourself!

    That is a nice amount of rain you have had. We get some every few days, which is just right. No, it has not been very cold here, perfect I would say. October is our best month as far as weather goes.

    I have been reading a book on dog breeds and was struck at how similar the Smooth Collie is – a very old breed which is the Rough Collie (Lassie) with short hair – to Plum and Ruby (leave the grape vines alone Ruby). I suspect there may be some Smooth Collie in their backgrounds. I send this just for the photo:



  36. Hi Chris,

    Just a brief comment this week as I am near completion of the backlog that built up in the craziness of the last two months or so. I am anxious to get the rest of the backlog taken care of! I might even make a blog post toward the end of the month if all continues to go this well.

    First, re supply lines: Mike and I belong to a small natural products co-op based in Iowa, from which we and several other households put in quarterly orders (solstices and equinoxes) for such of their stock as we wish. The order is trucked to one of our houses, divided up into each household’s order, and then delivered or picked up as appropriate.

    We had no unusual issues with the March (spring equinox) order, but I and others were unable to order some of the items we wanted in June due to their being out of stock. Then the co-op attempted to update their ordering/accounting/financial software in July. It has not gone well. We peons aren’t told the details, just that there have been delays in implementation. On top of that, remember the derecho that hit Iowa in the summer? The co-op’s main office and warehouse got hit by it and suffered damage. The upshot was that not only were there still out-of-stock items listed as such when I made my September order, but three or four items I ordered off the website that were claimed to be in stock didn’t show up in the order due to actually being out of stock. Software issues? Problems with their suppliers not shipping everything they ordered? Could be either, maybe both.

    Second, my cell phone provider sent a text a week or so back telling me that they are beginning to phase out their 3G network, with phaseout to be complete by February 2022. I have a 3G flip phone. I’ll probably be forced into buying a phone that is billed as being smarter than I am. >heavy sigh<


  37. Yo, Chris – Well, that’s what the rural cognoscenti do. Kick around work-arounds, fix-it insights and labor, or money saving ideas. You may remember (though I don’t remember the name of) a monthly newspaper that Bob, the Bachelor Farmer, received. All kinds of clever devices, that could usually be constructed out of the farm scrap heap, that was sometimes three generations deep. When some new gizmo appeared on the market, they also investigated how “good” it was. Also, lots of tips on keeping your equipment up and running, even if it meant resorting to bubble gum and bailing wire.

    Go Tree Dudes! Yup. Magnum as a masculine and stuff name is branded on a lot of things. One comes to mind. But, discretion (and a family friendly blog) prevents me from saying anything further 🙂 .

    While walking the dog, I took another look round our erosion spot. Hmmm. Raw material to work with. There’s a concrete paving stone, near-by, that seems to be paving nothing. And, a few large rocks. This may be a “do”, don’t ask permission kind of mission.

    When you start taking on water, best bail.

    I hadn’t even thought about the wire involved in a solar electric system. That’s the thing. Unless you’re familiar with those systems, up close and personal, all the bits and bobs aren’t taken into consideration. I know I don’t have the experience to make any pronouncements on those systems. But a lot of people seem to think they can expound on the ins and outs. Talking rubbish, indeed.

    The comment Jason made about machine parts, was disquieting. I think those rural “eyesore” junk yards are going to become more and more valuable, for parts, to keep things up and running.

    Sounds like you were rolling in good nosh. “The At Home Vegetarian.” Sounds like a good title for a book, or TV series. 🙂 .

    “Getting paid, not to work.” I suppose it depends on what you do with the time.

    Walked the dog, and then got my flu shot. A nice young Pakistani man came down from a pharmacy (chemist?) in Olympia. I was first on the sign up list, so, I was a bit curious as to how many others here, availed themselves to the vaccine. Four. Four out of 40+. Of course, I think some of the Ladies get them from their doctors. Or, they’re sticking with the tried and true, either a local chemist, or, even Safeway. Of course, there’s the anti-vaccine camp. (Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea). LOL. They have a reaction to the idea of the injection. About the same idea as if you had proposed cooking and eating a small child. I usually waltz into my local clinic, and get the yearly shot. But, I did a bit of a risk analysis. More likely to pick up “you know what” at the clinic, or less likely on my home ground? It’s all a crap shoot, but I felt more comfortable getting it here.

    After all that, I loaded up two more trays of tomatoes, for the dehydrator. I went to the library, yesterday, and picked up two interesting books. “Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World” (Stanley). Nonfiction. A scholar stumbled on an interesting story, with lots of documentation (mostly, letters). In the early 1800s. a very unconventional Japanese woman, after three marriages and divorces in her rural burg, ran off to Edo (Tokyo).

    The other book I got was “Perilous Bounty: The Looming Collapse of American Farming and How We Can Prevent It.” (Philpott). Speaking of which, I went to the veg store, yesterday, to pick up a lettuce. $3!!!

    I may have to go back to the library, today. I’ve got some stuff that’s been “in transit” for ever so long. Including three zombie movies. I’m sure they’re probably sitting in a box, in the back room of the Cheahlis library, “cooling off.” Lew

  38. Chris,

    60mm of rain? Wow! We might get between 6mm and 12mm this weekend, or as a friend quipped earlier, “an entire October in one day!” Glad you’re planning on doing the burn during such damp conditions. Get the job done but save the forest and all that. 😉 Be interesting to find out the story behind that cable though…

    Yes, there are some similarities. We’ve had frost in early July once or twice, and frost happens in September sometimes. August? No. And no snow in July or August. We get much colder than you, you get somewhat hotter than us, but yes, there are a lot of similarities. Perhaps the cold and volume of snow is one major difference, and you seem to average about twice our average annual rainfall. Yet, for both of us, there’s a definite arid time of year.

    Ah, the dojo. A classmate in high school was learning karate. I was thinking about him recently – he was probably the most mentally disciplined classmate I had. Probably due to the MA training. None of his brothers, older or younger, took karate and they lacked his focus and discipline. That’s something I sorely needed in those days.

    There were some fires on the east end of the Rez that burned a lot of timber and brush and some buildings in the small town of Inchelium. The BIG one that started in Omak and blew south and jumped the Columbia River? That turned out to be hideous. A lot of homes destroyed, the old lumber mill in Omak destroyed (it was not in operation for 10 years), half a million acres burned, trees and brush. A lot of missing livestock. Not all of the results are known, yet. However, there was enough rain that everything got contained and, at least near Omak, the burning stopped. The Princess drove through part of it 2 weeks ago and found that all of the burned area is ash and charred sagebrush. Some homes survived. Pretty devastating. The fires in Oregon are still smoldering. We’ve still been getting some intermittent smoke from them and from California.


  39. Hi Pam,

    Yes, looking after mental health is an important thing – and especially in these times. Given my paid work I occasionally hit the full on psychic wall of heavy emotional content courtesy of other people and their financial concerns. That’s a bit confronting, but you get through, they get through to somewhere, and fortunately it is only a very rare event. Such things only very occasionally go with the territory.

    Your weather sounds almost perfect. It is such a great season when a little bit of rain falls every few days.

    My hands smell like eucalyptus oil as the new second hand 9 horsepower scary old wood chipper (not my description – blame the interweb) was taken out for a spin today. 🙂 The machine worked just fine, but it did take a little bit of time to work out how to get the best out of it. An interesting machine, and I now have two small piles of chipped up forest litter.

    Yes, your supposition is correct about the two young cheeky scamps. There is a rumour going around and it has been circulating for a very long time, that the Kelpie breed has some dingo blood in them. DNA tests suggest that this is false, but the rumours have never died off. They’re quite remarkable dogs and they’ve both run and around the farm all day long today, and are now sound asleep. They enjoyed some beef off cut scrap bones too. Happy days!

    How is Mr Dumpy going? Hope the most complicated part of the job is completed before winter sets in.



  40. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello and I look forward to reading an update on your growing season and all the lovely produce I’m sure your garden has provided over the past season. You’ve had a rough year this year, so I doubly appreciate you dropping by to say hello. 🙂 There are always so many things to do, and we dropped the ball on a number of activities around the farm whilst the greenhouse was constructed. Had an epic burn off today, the loggers haven’t been here for decades, but they sure did leave a mess.

    The co-op sounds like a great idea. Updating a businesses inventory and accounting systems on the other hand is never an easy task. Done a few of those jobs myself, and they are a bit of a nightmare to be honest. Mind you, the sort of drama’s you mentioned were not part of my update experience. However, it is never a smooth thing, and you’ll always have strange and unexpected problems cropping up. But the derecho would have been like the icing on the cake. That weather event was epic in scale. So yeah, problems heaped on top of other problems is the name of that game.

    Oh no! The flip phones just work, until someone decides on your behalf that they no longer work. Claire, it annoyed the utter daylights out of me due to the sheer waste. There was nothing at all wrong with my old phone, as I’m sure your old flip phone works perfectly fine too. What do you do? Sometimes you get backed into a corner and have to do other than what is your natural inclination. The old military genius Sun Tzu mentioned that it was always unwise to back an opponent into a corner.

    But then there is the whole render unto Caesar business, and there is something in that. Yeah. Some losses are just foisted upon you.

    I had to learn step by step how to shut those smart phones down, as they do all manner of things without your consent. The outcome is possible, but the situation forces you to address it. If there were an easier way…



  41. Hi DJ,

    Yes, but to be precise the final tally was 65mm of rain. That’s funny about an entire October in a day! Very amusing.

    The burn off so far has gone well, but it is super-hot and I struggle getting near the core of the fire. At one point I could feel radiant heat burning the whiskers on my face whilst at a considerable distance. Not fun, and potently aromatic to boot.

    It’s funny though, when I was out in the forest today I had this rather odd notion that perhaps without the regular burns which yours and our first nations folks conducted, well it is hardly surprising that all manner of plant diseases got a toe hold and then spread. It is possible that the fire might act as a sterilising as well as a fertilising agent. I was taking a close look at all of the accumulated forest litter today, and it interested me that some of the humongous trees in that locale had a bit of die back. I doubt anyone had been in that area since before the Ash Wednesday fires in 1983. The massive tree stump which the loggers left sure showed signs of that fire – and whilst it wasn’t 40 years ago, it sure is close to that.

    The broken cable was located near to the epic tree stump left by the loggers. I took a photo and we’ll see whether the photo turned out or not. Dunno, but there is a story there.

    It was the arid times of the year when the rain simply disappears that twigged me to the similarities. And interestingly, we may get more rainfall than you even in a drought year, however your rivers are far larger and more reliable, so it evens out a bit. The local river here can dry up leaving only mud… Mind you, it is flowing pretty well now.

    Actually it was hard to make the decision in relation to the martial arts. Circumstances pushed me in that direction rather than me actively seeking it out. And thinking back on that time, it is kind of odd that I didn’t bother even shopping around the various options. It was as if fate stepped in and said – here is where you should be. The issue of free will and how much you actually have is never far from my consciousness.

    Thank you for the update as to the fires and the Rez. Glad to hear that the big fire was eventually extinguished by the rain, but I’m very sorry to hear of the loss of houses. Pretty devastating is good way to describe such conflagrations.

    With your words in mind, I worked the forest today. But despite my efforts here, most people don’t do that job and it has to be done.



  42. Hi Jason,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello! You are always welcome here.

    Over the past few days, and despite the cold and rainy weather, the lentils have sprouted in the greenhouse. Yay!

    Rats have this awful habit of chewing upon the most difficult to replace item, so your experience does not surprise me at all. A few years ago a rat gnawed upon an air-conditioning hose in one of the cars. The gasses were under pressure and when the pressure was released, the rat did not fare so well.

    Glad the petrol tank was eventually sourced. What a fine joke it would be if we had petrol available and no machines with which to use it in. But yes, I too am encountering all manner of strange shortages. Thanks for mentioning the scythe, it is a good idea. I’ve got an old one made of Sheffield Steel.

    Other people have mentioned this show too. What you said resonates with me in relation to my experiences with batteries. As a technology they’re good, they’re just not good enough. I hope that people viewing the program get a solid wake up call and don’t try and bet the farm on this technology.

    By way of comparison, here is a similar tale from down under: Electric car put to the test in regional and rural NSW. Total respect for them giving it a bash, but the line “In fact, a single one-hour charge in a fast charger used more power than my three-bedroom home used in three days.” should ring alarm bells. But no… And using such a vehicle off grid is a total and utter impossible joke, although I do know one bloke who did that with a Nissan Leaf but he had an epic sized system. Like really epic, and he charged in the big smoke at the other end of the journey. Hmm.

    Hope you and your family are well too. 🙂



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Totally agree with your point about kicking around work-arounds as part of the rural existence. One of the things that is a bit odd near to where I live is that there is a bit of commuter, err, what do they call such places ‘bedroom towns’ or some such? I dunno, but you get the idea. The investment made by a person who can earn their living elsewhere into an area is not quite the same as what I’ve noticed with the old timers. Those old timers are getting a bit thin on the ground too, so nowadays more often than not I just have to work through problems and keep on muddling on.

    We have a magazine which from memory is called Choice (Australian consumer organisation), which does testing of consumer products. There is also Low Tech Magazine which would probably be much closer to Bob the Bachelor’s magazine.

    Repairing items is not always as easy as you’d imagine – and some devices were never intended to be repaired and/or maintained – which is probably part of the story with the book you were reading recently.

    The tree dudes are cool. Spent most of today working in the forest margins cleaning up. Always cleaning up. We had an epic fire today which was built around the megalodon tree stump. An epic sized monster which the loggers had left hanging in the air propped up on a rock for probably more than four decades. I found the broken steel cable near to it and at such times it makes me glad I had a tetanus booster shot within the past year. Lots of sharp edges.

    Anyway, just went out then in the dark and pushed the fire together, but I reckon this one might be still burning in two days time. You could suggest that the fire was Magnum sized! Cheeky!

    If the job gets done with the erosion and nobody knows the who or why of it, could there possibly be any recriminations? I’d probably leave it alone though, unless it was going to impact you directly. If one of the large rocks gets away, people might start asking questions. Had one of those once, and a large rock bounced down the hill and there was not a darn thing I could do about it. It eventually stopped rolling as it hit a tree which was big enough to put a halt to the rolling. Nobody lives below the farm anyway as right along the bottom of the property is a fern lined creek and the land rises up behind the creek before continuing its descent to where people actually live. But yeah, some things can get away from you with consequences…

    It is hard for me not to go into technical details with the solar power system, and not because I want to, but it is because I need to. This has been noted is a dangerous thing for other people! 🙂 On a serious note the cables for the low voltage stuff are as expensive as the panels – if not more so. Bonkers. Yes, and I hear the rubbish stories all the time, and now respond by asking whether they have a system installed. Such a response is bizarrely often unexpected. What do you mean I have to experience with this stuff in order to talk about it? The horror on peoples faces as I call their bluff – priceless. It’s kind of fun in a harmless way and has the added side benefit of not having to listen to people singing the hymn ‘Technology will save us, ever and ever, always thus’. You may have heard of that hymn or have been exposed to it?

    Did you manage to try the pies again?

    Jason is right too about the parts. The thing about the wood chipper is that I could have obtained a much larger powered machine, but that was from the same mob that recently couldn’t supply basic parts for one of my existing machines. Not good. So it looks like I’ll take the new second-hand scary old wood chipper machine from the farm machine repair guys.

    I used the machine for several hours today and it was quite good. It didn’t jam up once or stall so it performed about the way I’d expected that it would perform. Good enough for me.

    As a consequence of using the wood chipper, my hands now smell like eucalyptus oil. Never experienced that before.

    Ooo, it is a good title for a book. Should we trademark or copyright it?

    That is true about being paid not to work. I hear ya. If I was retired, well I wouldn’t do much different from what you’re doing and I’ve often mentioned to DJ that people need: purpose; mates; and hobbies. What I was actually referring to in the comment was people I know working at home for big corporates, who frankly don’t seem to be working. It is an unwise thing after all to publicise that your job is not necessarily required.

    Good call getting the flu shot. Mate, you don’t want that disease beast, believe me. Had it twice now and it whacks you hard in the head and you go down like a sack of spuds. Now I get the flu shot. Very wise. I went to the local chemist for my flu shot and they seemed fine, although there was a bit of a queue. We do queues down here.

    That’s the thing isn’t it with the clinics. You don’t know and it is a crap shoot, so best be careful is the watchword of the day. Incidentally, I have read several reports that their income is way down for the exact reason that you mentioned.

    Hey, one of the older apple trees has blossomed and the bees were all over it today. Fingers crossed for the harvest…

    Have you commenced reading the book “Stranger in the Shogun’s City: A Japanese Woman and Her World”? It sounds fascinating, although you’d hope that the lady in question took a good look around her and then wrote down what she observed? And as to the other book, did the authors make any meaningful suggestions? It seems like a big call. I tend to think that it will end badly, but that is me. It is a real struggle to get people working in agriculture and there is a labour shortage right now due to the closed borders.

    Be careful with those zombie films, you never quite know if they are a bit bitey! 🙂

    I’m exhausted tonight. It’s hard work what we did today. But on the other hand, the area is starting to look pretty good. Had an idea when I was working out in the forest earlier today and I did wonder if plant pathogens didn’t get more of a leg up in forests that were unmanaged? A cool fire would probably assist in fertilising the trees, but it might just also kill off some pathogens and pests. Dunno, but it would be interesting to see if someone had done any research on that.



  44. Chris:

    I am glad that your wood chipper has turned out to work well, and your sinuses might be pretty clear from the eucalyptus.

    I, too, had heard that Kelpies have Dingo blood. I still don’t necessarily discount it. DNA tests can be a bit iffy occasionally.

    Mr. Dumpy is coming along superbly, if slowly. Monday my son goes to the Big Smoke of Richmond to pick up metal to rebuild the floor of the dump bed.

    That is a fascinating idea that you posed to DJ about regular burn-offs and plant diseases. Makes perfect sense.

    I misread one of your comments (to DJ again?) about martial arts as “marital” and for a moment I wondered at you “shopping around”.


  45. Yo, Chris – “Bedroom communities.” As far as the ever diminishing supply of old timer’s, as things go, pretty soon you’ll be one 🙂 .

    Here we have “Consumer Report’, and one other one, whose name I can’t remember. Been around for years, and they don’t take any ads, so, they’re pretty straightforward.

    A website I mentioned before (and, had a devil of a time finding again), is ifixit (.com). It was mentioned in the book I read about innovation. It’s a great site. They have all kinds of repair manuals, for free. They make their money on selling kits to repair different things. Those weird tools that can be found nowhere else. And, they sell parts. They are also in the forefront of the “right to repair” movement, and have been effective in getting laws passed, and pressuring manufacturers.

    Well, the erosion and subsequent possible flooding, would affect me, second hand. Kinda. The bottom of the erosion is a narrow, grass strip, a sidewalk, and then the doors to the garden room … and, the door to the electrical / water / security / etc. etc.. room. I doubt those doors are water tight.

    Well, we all have our hobby horses to ride, and things to bang on about. 🙂 . With you it’s solar. With me, books, films and the obscure origins of different kinds of tat. Realizing this character defect is pretty common to all people, including ourselves, we can only be tolerant. Besides, it’s fun. 🙂 .

    Haven’t indulged in the pies, lately. I’m sure I will again. But, the price and occasional lapses in quality, have put me a bit off. And, this month is a bit tight, jingle wise.

    A film, and a wood chipper. There is a connection. Last night I watched “Blood Quantum.” Something new to add to the list. A zombie movie about Canadian Indigenous People and zombies. So, is it a Canadian zombie movie, or, an indigenous people zombie movie? Classification is all. And, before you ask, they were fast zombies. Any-who. The premise is, Native People might be bit by a zombie, but not become infected. Not that they can’t be ripped apart, or eaten. The zombie salmon, are kind of fun. 🙂 . So, the wood chipper. A wood chipper you could probably only dream of. Big enough to block a bridge. Probably big enough to have handled your Megalodon tree. Zombies, being rather stupid, run right into the chipper, and are expelled out the exhaust chute, into the bay. Overall, I liked the film, and I think any zombie film fan would find it worth watching.

    So, did all that eucalyptus oil leave your hands, baby soft? 🙂 .

    Well, after my round of flu 15 or so years ago, it’s an experience I’d rather not repeat.

    Go apple tree! I was getting a bit low on garlic, so, before the storm came in, went digging about in the garden. I think I pulled out about 10 pounds of garlic and potatoes. Good I did. We had 2″ of rain.

    I’m really not that far into “Stranger in the Shogun’s City”, to draw any conclusions, yet. Still wading through the setting of Japanese history, to that time, the family background of our heroine (dad came from a long line of priests. Who also had a lively pawn business and loan outfit, going on the side. So, in this small backwater, they were big fish.)

    Perilous Bounty is also setting the scene. Why California and the Midwest agriculture, is so vital, yet so doomed. The whole thing is pretty unsustainable. (Water, labor costs and topsoil) I read a chapter on the flood of 1862. Which I had recently read about, somewhere else. And, it turns out that it wasn’t so much of a one off, but something that happens pretty dependably, every 150-200 years. By the way, now that the fires are beginning to wind down, in California, watch for the mudslides. They’ll be making headlines, next.

    I think the idea you had about pathogens and pests is right on. Not only do fires check those things, they contribute to the health of the trees. And, a healthy tree is much more likely to be able to resist pests and pathogens. But, since you lack a degree in either forestry or biology, you’ll probably be ignored. 🙂 . Lew

  46. Hi Chris,

    All good here, thanks. Thanks for the link – I’ve watched a few more episodes of ‘Long Way Up’ and now they have got to warmer countries the bikes are running a lot longer between charges – about 140 miles. Like you say, it’s a great technology but we can’t just swap it out for petroleum and think it’s equal. Funnily enough, I don’t think they visit any lithium mines on their long trip…

    That sounds like fatal mistake for your hapless rodent, and I can almost feel a new saying coming on along the lines of “Curiosity killed the rat”!

    Glad to hear about the lentils – I sprout them in a little tray for eating. It always amazes me how easy it is to get them going – along with mung beans, chickpeas and brown beans. I’ve taken to ordering this in bulk – it’s quite a cheap way to get healthy salads during the winter.

    Speaking of shortages, I decided to buy a kettlebell back in March as I had read an article about a bloke who swapped his whole gym for a 20kg lump of metal. Given that my local gym had shut and we were more or less locked indoors I decided to get one. I immediately discovered that it was basically impossible to find one i.e. not even any online shops would sell them as they came from China, and all trade out of China was at a standstill. By July I was growing impatient and Google must have sensed this because an ad popped up for ‘British made kettlebells’. Some entrepreneur had set up a factory making them on the outskirts of London and was seemingly making a packet casting them and then shipping them out like hot cakes. I ordered one and it eventually arrived in September (there was a long waiting list) – very high quality but not cheap. Probably my first direct experience of deglobalisation in action.

    I was at the woods today, chopping wood, cutting grass (with the mower – probably the last cut of the season) and harvesting chestnuts, pumpkins, sloes and medlars. These last ones are an interesting unfashionable fruit that I plan to turn into fruit lathers. I also picked some ‘interesting’ mushrooms.



  47. Hi Jason,

    Good to hear that things are good. Your last essay had shades of the crazy goings on down here so I was a bit concerned as I thought your mob were more sensible than our mob, and it is crazy strange in Melbourne nowadays, sorry to say. This may indicate that crazy days are coming to a town near you and possibly soon.

    Range is the thing isn’t it? It is lost on most people that vehicles are usually manufactured so they have a range of 600km (about 370 miles), although I’m not really sure why that goal would be. Electric vehicles don’t even come close. My old Kawasaki GPX-250R would easily make 600km on only a tiny tank of fuel. Motorbikes don’t really have the space for large batteries. How could they?

    Very amusing about the lithium mines, but yeah!!! 🙂

    I’ll tell ya a funny story, there is a main road that drops from the highest point in the mountain range then descends all the way down to the elevated plains at the base of the range. A lot of people on push-bikes test their mettle against the incline. The other day I saw a new mode of transport though. Two thrill seekers were on skateboards and they roared past me going downhill way over the speed limit. An impressive achievement. I’ve seen a few people moving around the city on electric skateboards, but again where to put the batteries is an inherent flaw in the design.

    You’re on fire, and that line is a goodie. The mechanic and I had a bit of a moment of awe at the sheer chutzpah of the rat and its eventual demise. But did it have to be the most expensive pressure hose under the bonnet of the car?

    All those sprouts are actually seeds which can be planted. I saved heaps buying the organic lentil seeds in bulk and their germination rate makes me feel as though they might just have Triffid genes. I’ll chuck in a photo.

    So, the guy is onto something and kudos to him for being an early adopter. It just so happens that I know a personal trainer, and they contracted with a steel works to make the equipment they could no longer get. And the price, well that’s the future.

    I’ve got a few medlar trees growing here. They fruit really well. Never thought of producing fruit leathers with them. The jam is very high in pectin so the fruit produces a tasty jam with the consistency of vegemite (your marmite) and since I grew up eating such stuff it didn’t bother me. However, the fruit is best used to produce a far more tasty wine, so that is where my crop goes nowadays.



  48. Hi Pam,

    The eucalyptus oil on the hands and arms was an undocumented feature of the scary old wood chipper. It’s a funny old machine as it has a direct drive between the motor and the heavy flywheel so when you pull the start cord, it takes a fair bit of effort. Best keep fingers away from the flywheel and cutting blades, may be the wisest course of action. Mr Dumpy no doubts has plenty of hydraulics and other situations where extreme care must be exercised. Fortunately I can do careful, and I did have to shoo the editor away from the machine.

    I don’t discount the dingo blood either. Both Plum and Ruby have very upright ears which is generally considered a sign that a dog has wild canine heritage in their blood. Of course it is impolite to mention here that Ruby occasionally has ear wardrobe malfunctions. Oops. Shouldn’t have mentioned that in public, but she does! However, what Ruby lacks in genes she makes up for in super-naughtiness, and so she has become Captain Fun of the farm. Oh yeah, she’s a little devil that one, but very lovely.

    Ah, it is worth mentioning here that the bright yellow trailer also had to score a new floor of sheet metal a few years back. It is a truth universally acknowledged that the steel worm never sleeps…

    Thanks, and the idea as to plant diseases popped into my head over the weekend when I was closely looking at how the large trees grew in one section of the forest which we were cleaning up. There is definitely a story to be told in there.

    Pam, you make me blush with such talk! I blush easily… 🙂 Let’s just hope the editor doesn’t hear such loose talk. Hehe! No doubt she would suggest: Who else would put up with such nonsense (as I deliver)! That’s a statement of fact and not a question.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    That’s an uncanny thought about turning into an old timer, but then you’ve got the right of it. The question then becomes what is the best way to communicate if such a title was unwittingly bestowed upon a person? It is an important question. One of the reasons I quite like the World made by Hand series is the sly humour going on all the time in the background. Especially the New Faith folks interactions with people they meet and their hamfisted attempts to convert.

    The humour is of interest to me because many people have remarked that where the farm is located is God’s own country. A funny thing for people to say, but I’ve heard it said often enough. Over the past few years I’ve been practising ‘sharp as a tack yokel’, and sometimes on hearing that catchphrase I feel like replying: ‘Never met the bloke, but he sounds like he’d be good to have a beer with.’ I’m sure there’s more smarty pants responses, and the series of books delivers them in spades – much to my ongoing amusement. With everything going on down here, I felt the need to enjoy some time with literary fictional friends, and I don’t mind re-reading books at all. Some folks might want to head out ever and yon into new literary waters, and I do that too, but sometimes a bit of comfort is the order of the day.

    Advertisements are a bit like donations-with-strings in that they possibly bind, and your Consumer Report and our Choice folks use subscriptions to dodge that bullet. But you know, sometimes advertisements are necessary and that is just how things have to roll.

    Can you imagine plying the tat trade down here with the crazy serious lock downs in place? We had some super-weirdness with ebuy recently. We sold something as pick-up only and made it pretty clear if a person can’t do that, they shouldn’t bid. So someone won the auctions and then asked to pickup the stuff after the lockdown was resolved. Well looking at the media it doesn’t seem like that option is on the table anytime soon, and in fact due to one city person allegedly sneaking into a country town recently, well let’s just say that things have become tighter. It was noticeably quieter up here today. Yeah. Anyway, that auction was cancelled and a country person is now apparently picking the stuff up.

    Thanks for mentioning the ifixit website as I’d not come across those folks. So far utoob has provided guidance for most items, but the ifixit folks have some seriously good tools for purchase. Hmm. Oh, my mate who is an electrical engineer is on board with fixing the old radio. I need to learn how to fix such things as some of electronics which the house relies upon may require attention in the future.

    Oh, yes, the erosion is a problem for you to consider. Sorry to say. The local council this year graded the dirt road up above the house. And for some strange reason they cut a drain in the road which channels water down onto the house. Not sure why they did that, but maybe it was none of their concern and they just did what they did because that was what they did? The previous time they graded the road I spoke to the driver of the grader and asked him not to do the job because of the impending weather conditions. Following orders was the response. Well, the council then had to bring up about four truckloads of crushed rock. So unnecessary, but local knowledge is sometimes discounted, although I can see how this situation came to be. The fires in Paradise are a good example of how that could go wrong where too many people possibly expressed a voice which suggested to not manage the risk in the first place that they encountered the downsides of the risk.

    It is fun isn’t it? Hehe! Fortunately your talk of books, movies and rare tat finds is never dull. Plus like me, you may have learned over the years to not indulge our vices too much! Well, I’ve not yet encountered that in you – although please do not take that as a personal challenge!!!

    Those pie conditions would put me off too. In order for a relationship to become established there must be more wins than losses. The gourmet pie place we go to is about 95% wins, and that is an exceptional outcome. The losses too are usually due to heating issues. They have a magic cooker, which mildly scares me because it can take a frozen pie and make it taste as if it had just come out of a proper oven. Black magic stuff.

    Speaking of black magic cooking, and I know you are a kitchen odds and ends guru, I trialled a small high quality stainless steel fry pan for use on the black magic induction cooker. I love that machine as it weans us off the small amount of natural gas we do use and makes better use of the sunshine. On a side note, I miss the wood oven and stove… Anyway, have you ever used a stainless steel fry pan? It doesn’t work like any fry pan I’ve ever used. No doubts it will take time to adjust to.

    Zombie salmon is intriguing. The film has been added to the to-watch list. Fast zombies… You knew the first question that I’d ask. Respect. 🙂

    The eucalyptus scent was quite nice, but UV is now rated as high and so despite the day being cool and sunny, I cooked my head yesterday. The seriously hot fire didn’t help either. Took it easy this morning as doing that act feels like a monster hangover. A very fatty sausage roll purchased at the local bakery helped soothe my shattered nerves and after that I could get on with the day. For the next half year there is no mucking around in the morning: get up early and work then finish by early afternoon. The head pain is not worth it.

    Yes, I had the same experience with the flu, although I needed to be told twice in that instance. The first time I picked up the virus was from a discarded tissue which was left behind by a guy who did some tree work here and his business card suggested that he was a champion axeman. He did a job that nobody else wanted to do, and it took him about fifteen minutes and cost more per hour than what a Queens Counsellor earns. But you know what? Nobody else could do the job, and the job had to be done. I asked a lot of people. The guy told me that the tree had kept him up half the night, but mate was he good or what? It was like encountering the ultimate alpha-male that guy. Oh, and it was his offsider assisting with the job who had the flu and dropped the tissues which I came into contact with. The whole situation was bonkers from start to finish, and it taught me some good lessons in life, so yeah flu shots. I hear ya.

    Better get writing…

    Fancy that, priests getting into the pawn business. You’d hope they were more honest than pay-day loan sharks? Way back in the day I have purchased (but never sold) stuff in pawn shops. From my perspective they were quite fun places, but at the same time I could smell the dark side.

    Oh yeah, your mention of the agriculture in that part of your country and the epic floods (not to mention earthquake risk) led me to further reading on the area. So, I noticed one statistic which suggested that despite having only 1% of the landmass, the area produced a quarter of agricultural output. Not suggesting that such is a risk, but it sure looks like that to me. It is akin to a business having only a few very large customers.

    I don’t seek recognition for any ideas which bounce around my head, although I will incorporate the insights into how I manage the surrounding country in relation to the plant diseases, pathogens and insects, and who knows the outcomes might just benefit everything living here. Further afield may just have to fend for themselves until they are hungry enough or battered around enough by nature to take the time to listen. What else can you do?



  50. Yo, Chris – Best way for an old timer to communicate, is, think long and say little. So when they open their mouths, it’s an event. Sharp as a tack yokel, is an old timer, in training. 🙂 .

    Advertising as donation with strings attached. Sounds like politics.

    When I was selling on EBuy, I kicked off every listing by pulling out the HTML big guns. “US Shipping Only.” All in caps and in bold. Two or three times, when the auction came to an end, it turned out the buyer was in Canada 🙁 . They got a refund, but not their stuff. Shipping stuff out of country was expensive, and, required lots of paperwork. Some people seem to think that directions do not apply to them. Because, they’re so special, or something. I always hope that being said “no” to, that the shock will kill them.

    So, the city person that snuck into the country? Did they shot them, or just put them in the stocks for a week, so people could throw things at them? And, pray tell, what was the important mission that brought them out to the countryside? Haircut? In search of the perfect meat pie?

    Interesting about the road grade drainage. Maybe the goggly eyed fellow, that showed up on your doorstep unbidden, with the buddy on the council, arranged it? A parting shot? Or maybe I indulge in too many conspiracy theories?

    Speaking of movies (we were, weren’t we?), last night I watched “White Zombie.” 1932. It was the first film Bela Lugosi made, after “Dracula.” Mid-speed zombies. And not the usual “rotting and risen from the grave”, type. More a sleep-walking variety. I made a big bowl of popcorn (garnished with chopped garlic and swiss cheese. A dash of soy sauce. Tried a few of the dried tomatoes. Tasty, but they’re a bit to precious for popcorn). So, the film takes place in Haiti, origin place of all things zombie. There was over-the-top histrionics and scenery chewing. I got to thinking about that. That style was a relic of the silent films, which were take-offs of theatre. Where you had to use really broad gestures, to get across the action to the person in the last row of the theatre. Took awhile for a more natural form of acting to become established. It was a fun film, and I quit liked it.

    The DVD had a “catalog” of other films the distribution company had on offer. Probably a hundred or so, some from the silent era, but mostly 1930’s a 40’s. Lots of different genres. Horror, westerns, sci-fi, mysteries, film noir, etc.. Even a few old serials. (Dead End Kids, Flash Gordon) Flipping through them, was interesting. I didn’t realize that Lugosi had done so many films. Mostly seemed to be horror or mysteries. Judging from the covers, it’s interesting how many of the films (Lugosi, and otherwise) had apes or gorillas as the mysterious evil force. It was like a theme. Now, King Kong didn’t come out until 1933. I think (maybe) all this fixation with demonic apes can be laid at the feet of our old buddy, E. A. Poe. due to his 1841 short story, “Murders in the Rue Morgue.” Sometimes seen as “Phantom of the Rue Morgue.” Which is also remembered as being one of the first true “detective” stories.

    Magic Cookers sound a bit like microwaves (aka, nukers.) I’ve always thought it was all done with smoke and mirrors, and that that food really isn’t cooked. 🙂 . Hmmm. Stainless steel. I go cast iron, all the way. But, from my stint in the hash slinging trade, I remember a bit. You usually have to use a bit more oil, and, moderate temperatures are best, for cooking. Also, never touch them with a metal utensil. They will scratch, and then, food is likely to stick. They do acquire a bit of a “seasoning” layer, but nothing like cast iron. At least, that’s what comes to mind.

    I’m just getting into the part of “Stranger in the Shogun’s City”, where her letters are starting to appear. I really don’t know how much observation one will get from those, as our heroine is a bit self centered. But the author is really good at filling in background material, on what life was like in Japan, at that time. Our heroine’s life covered the end of Japan’s period of isolation. The 200 years when they had little outside contact. You think your lockdown is bad! 🙂 . I wondered a bit about her three marriages and divorces. Well, the first marriage happened when she was 12. And, 1/2 of Japanese first marriages, at that time, ended in divorce. It really wasn’t a big deal. They felt there would be a lot of jostling around, until the “right fit” was attained.

    1/4 of our ag output doesn’t sound like a lot (from California), but when you look at individual crops, most of it comes from California. There’s an interesting story about a fellow who’s a big farmer, who grows mostly melons and almonds. One of the few people who worked his way up from field worker, to owner. Well, the melons don’t use much water, but, they are labor intensive. The almonds can be harvested by machine, but use a lot of water. It takes (according to the book) a gallon of water to produce one almond seed. Kind of makes me feel guilty, about all the almond milk I slop down.

    But, the bottom line is, between problems already built into the system (water, labor, drought and flood) and the looming climate change, things are getting pretty tenuous.

    Speaking of weather, we’ve had 6+inches of rain, over the last 72 hours. But, it’s supposed to be nice tomorrow, and then nice from Wednesday, on. We’ll see. Seems like every time I took H out, yesterday, it was pouring down. With clearing in between. Natch.

    My Idaho friend and her daughter went to Napa, the other day. Her daughter needed a new computer, to help launch her into the wonderful world of real estate agent. They went because Napa has a store called Best Buys, which is a big box electronics chain store. The first three they looked at were out of stock in store, and on-line. No delivery date. They finally ordered a fourth, which is supposed to be delivered around the 20th. We’ll see. Also, printer cartridges were not to be had.

    I ordered some iris tubers, back in early August. They have not appeared. But, the website said, due to you know what, 6-8 weeks. So, I’m still in the window. I may be planting them in the snow, if at all. Lew

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