Make do

Friday lunchtime found the editor and I stuck in traffic heading back out of the city. The vehicle edged slowly past the road works and other slow points along the journey. Buses stopped in the left hand lane to disgorge passengers whilst also letting new passengers onboard. The other vehicles on the road waited patiently. The day was warm, and the sun shone down through clear blue skies. Where the sun touched your skin, you could feel the suns bite. The air filled with the smell of the heat and all the pent up energy of those combined engines ambling along the hot asphalt.

The road was long and we were heading to the nearest freeway. Alongside the road where the cars could not venture, sometimes there were houses whilst at other times collections of small shops. At one point along the journey, the state government had constructed an enormous bridge so that trains no longer ran at ground level, because they now ran in the air. Buildings were rarely more than two stories high, but the residents of the few apartment blocks which overlooked the new elevated train line would certainly have had a good view of the workings of the train system.

Stuck in the traffic, as a passenger it became hard not to notice the small shop attached to a large brick house. The large house dated to the 1970’s and the builder had used what is sometimes called ‘cream bricks’. To my eyes, the brick cladding on the house has an odd light orange colour. It is probably not wise to consume cream which had somehow turned a light orange colour. The small shop at the front of the large cream brick clad house proclaimed that the services on offer were a ‘Cobbler’.

A cobbler is a person who can make and repair shoes. Having worked as a factory accountant for a shoe manufacturer in my earlier days, the sight of a cobbler brings back wistful memories. The traffic moved on as it slugged up the road in the summer heat, and the editor listened to my observation: “I’ll bet that dude knows a thing or two about shoes”. Sadly, most people upon encountering a damaged shoe these days would just go and buy a new pair of shoes.

A few weeks ago a mechanic advised me to get a replacement set of four new tyres (tires in US parlance) for the dirt rat Suzuki. Being able to take advice is something that may come with age, or also possibly with a families economic position. It’s been my professional observation that people deriving from ‘old money’ families are more prepared to ask for and pay for advice, and then act upon it.

The nearby town is small and yet it has two tyre dealers. One of the tyre dealers has always been reliable over the past decade, and so there is no reason to visit the other dealer. My visit to the tyre dealer this time was no different than any other visit. The bloke at the counter took my requirements for the dirt rat Suzuki. We had a lovely chat about the joy that is owning a Suzuki four wheel drive: Small; cheap to run; and goes anywhere. Then the bloke casually mentioned that he was only able to obtain one choice of tyre in that sizing.

I’ll guess I’ll take a set of them, came the only sensible reply.

What else do you do? Way, way, back in the day, that particular situation would have been stated as: you’ve got Buckley’s or none, meaning that there was no other choice or chance. The saying came about due to the improbable survival of the escaped convict William Buckley – a truly fascinating tale, but for another time. The bloke candidly enlightened me that they were having serious troubles sourcing product for customers. If that was the first time I’d encountered this response it would be a surprise, but unfortunately it wasn’t. He also mentioned that his brother was a steel fabricator (i.e. a person who makes steel things) and he was also having troubles sourcing reliable quantities of steel for his work.

The candid story did not surprise me as I’d also worked for a steel distributor way back in the day. What can I say, other than I got around a bit. Back in those days most of the steel sold was Australian made. However, they were in the early days of supplying imported steel which was demanded by the consumers in order to lower costs, and the distributors knew what that all meant. Mutterings were occasionally overheard in relation to the quality of the structural steel, but if the paperwork said it was all OK, it was all OK.

Maybe it is just me, and also possibly because I live on a rural property, but I end up purchasing some very unusual supplies. However I’m encountering more supply shortage stories like that tyre one. Another recent example was that last weekend I cleaned up the electric pump which supplies the house with water at pressure and on demand from the water tanks. It’s a complicated system and the electric water pump is protected behind two steel fire shields. One fire shield is good, but two is actually better. The downsides of the fires shields protecting the water pump, is that spiders love to spin their webs in a nice cosy spot safely out of the weather. As the spider webs were cleaned away from the water pump and its workings, the rust spots on the water pressure tank became apparent. The local water pump shop in the nearby town informed me that they had only a single water pressure tank in the size that I was after. Yes, I’ll take that, thanks very much.

And on and on the strange supply shortages experiences pile up. This has only been a recent occurrence of about half a year maybe longer, but it does seem to be getting worse in my experience. Perhaps if it doesn’t improve soon, more people will begin to notice. Adaption and grasping at opportunities is possibly the best approach in these circumstances.

Over the past few months we’ve been keeping our eyes open for a pair of matching draw units for the bedroom. Long term readers will note that we are not adverse to purchasing high quality older furniture and then restoring the items to better than new condition. And so this week we began restoring some 17 year old locally made solid hardwood draw units. Why anyone would stain local hardwoods a deep red colour is something that is beyond our understanding. Easily fixed though.

Restoration of these two draw units for the bedroom has begun

It is worthwhile recalling that newer furniture of dubious materials, uncertain parentage and dodgy construction is possibly also very difficult to repair.

The excavations for the new shed site continued this week. We dug further back into the side of the hill and also widened the site. It is almost impossible to discern how long the excavations will take, but certainly they will be ongoing for several months. At almost the perfect location we uncovered an epic Moby (Body) Rock II. The rock is huge.

Excavations continued this week and we discovered a huge Moby Rock. I’m tired and Plum is in awe

Observant readers will note that in the above photo, Plum and I are sitting resting upon the huge Moby (Body) rock II which was unearthed. During the week we also constructed a new steel rock gabion cage (which can also be seen) and have began filling it with rocks excavated during the digging. The steel rock gabion cage retains the soil at one end of the garden terrace project (the terrace with all the roses). And the excavated soil was covered with a layer of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime.

All the excavated soil did not simply disappear! To the contrary, clean soil is a valuable resource and we have been moving it to another part of the farm so as to produce a gentle gradient path leading into the orchards.

The excavated soil is being used to construct a path leading into the orchards which has a gentle gradient. Plum is even more in awe at the sheer genius of doing two projects at once!

It wouldn’t be Fernglade Farm if we hadn’t moved an epic sized rock. Some rocks are in an appropriate location, others need to be relocated to an appropriate location.

The author looks pleased but also very hot, after moving this epic rock

Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading the book: ‘Cesar’s Way’, by the author Cesar Milan. It is an incredible book about dogs, and shares the authors insights into the inner workings of our canine friends. We’ve instituted many behavioural changes with ourselves and the fluffy collective, and the results have been good.

The author appears pleased with the fluffy collective

Now that we have a greenhouse, we’ve begun experiments with some very useful tropical plants which otherwise we’d have no chance of growing in this cool temperate environment.

We’re conducting experiments with growing peanuts, sugar cane and ginger in the recently completed greenhouse project

The weather sure has been warm to hot this week. The little gecko equivalent skink reptiles whom spent most days hunting in the garden beds, are abundant.

Skinks are abundant in the garden beds

My favourite vegetable is Globe Artichokes and it is fortunate that we grow dozens of the plants. The taste is superb and once established the plants produce the edible chokes for most of the growing season.

Well established Globe Artichokes produce the edible chokes in abundance

The grapes on the vines appear to be slowly getting larger. All of the varieties we grow here can be eaten either fresh (i.e. table grapes) or converted into wine.

Grapes on the vines appear to be getting larger

The peas and beans are reaching for the sky. I can well understand how the story Jack and beanstalk came to be as the vines just love to climb.

Pea vines love climbing

It has been a great berry season and the small freezer is becoming rather full of berries stored for producing jam. So far we’ve been harvesting strawberries, raspberries and red currants. In another month or so, the blackberries will be ripe.

Blackberries slowly ripen in the summer sun

We grow a large number of red and black currants as well as gooseberries and jostaberries and in a few weeks we’ll be swamped with those.

Red currants ripen in the warm summer sun

And we have a mystery. A small flowering Quince has produced tiny fruit. Does anyone know anything about these fruits? We grow, process and consume the larger variety of Quince, but were unprepared for these tiny fruits.

Onto the flowers:

Native wildflowers are enjoying the conditions this year
Silver Banksia’s are an intriguing flower
Some Salvia’s planted late last summer survived the hot and dry conditions
This was the first of hundreds of Agapanthus flowers
The Roses go from strength to strength
How lovely are these multi-coloured Roses?
This Daisy and Gazania both bounced back from near death last summer
Gazania’s are like the harlequins of the plant world
Poppies might be a bit weedy here as this one turned up in an unexpected location
Californian Poppies and Geraniums make a lovely super hardy and glorious flower bed

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 20’C (68’F). So far this year there has been 1120.4mm (44.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1116.2mm (44.0 inches).

65 thoughts on “Make do”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    Well it’s just you and me mate. I always said that it would come to this. Hehe! All those lurkers out there happily reading away but too shy to commit to a comment. 🙂 I write for the people who do comment. The others, well I don’t really know who they all are. It’s a mystery, but I can handle mysteries. In Search Of: The Lurker monsters of the deep. It would probably be a rather dull story, but it would be most interesting to see Mr Nimoy host the show from beyond the grave. That would lend the show some serious gravitas don’t you reckon? Would he come back as a vampire or a zombie?

    Yes, I tend to agree with Mr Kunstler in that regard, for if the centre can’t hold, the grip will be loosened. Like you, I’m not into that techno-fetish future either. It all appears rather unseemly to me. I believe things have progressed too far and civil liberties are being trod upon. In one of Mr Vance’s most excellent Demon Series of novels, the author posited the theory that civil liberties must be exercised and maintained even at the risk of inconvenience to others. The side story in the books involved an historical look at how criminals could be managed in an era of interstellar travel, but at the core there is some truth to what he wrote. Dunno about you, but I have and still do wonder about the middle ground in relation to that particular story – and know not where it is. Of course this may be due to the story falling into the realms of philosophy and that is not my strong suit.

    Well, you have the right of it there, and Mr Kunstler has made clear his position on the subject of going it alone (like what I do here) in the future in his ‘World Made by Hand’ fictional series. Thus why I re-read the series every couple of years as it is a solid corrective to hubris. Of course, if nothing else I am an alert student and can, and also have taken evasive manoeuvres numbers four, five, seven and eight. Of course it would be telling to detail them here in a public forum, but you know…

    Had the tree dudes up today, and as usual they did an awesome amount of work. Those guys work hard, and they also recognise that that is how things roll here, as I lead by example. I kind of feel for them as they are unable to get back to the Pacific Islands to see their kin this Christmas. Tis the season to be super-weird I guess. Oh yeah, things are strange as right now, but we’ll all be fine one way or another.

    Hehe! The neighbours may have been mildly freaked out that the huge rock was moved. Late yesterday I observed them having a ‘what the ….’ moment after they realised that the rock had translocated (I’m reaching into Star Trek terminology here) into a more suitable and appropriate location. It was kind of fun to be so blatantly mysterious.

    Sorry about the math talk. All the talk about infinity was perhaps a result of replying to too many comments before settling in and writing today’s essay (a spill over from comments on another website). 😉 And that all occurred after the big rock move on a hot day. Things were not fluffy optimal in my brain yesterday. Hope the blog made sense, although it has been through a few edit processes.

    Imagine if your share house cigarette butt disaster had taken place in a plastic bag? At least it is easy to extinguish paper bags. What is a flaming box fan? I’m intrigued at the reference. Anyway, it all goes to prove how easy it is to make a serious mistake. Saw a young bloke this morning with a prosthetic leg and his arm in a bandage. He’d been through some rough times.

    Lewis, you are super-naughty! Hehe!

    You know, I admire William Shatner’s work ethic because I too follow the role of: “became a working actor who showed up on time, knew his lines, worked cheap and always answered his phone.” Hard work is never out of fashion as it lays in the ground work for better times. But alas, he went through some tough times as well before things turned around, so I can now better understand his crusty outer demeanour. I get that. And wow, yes his personal life has been difficult and the journey he made with Nerine is one that would challenge anybody. So yes, I am incorrect and drive and determination (and also focus) can be seen.

    Nothing wrong at all with wanting some time out to cogitate and recharge the batteries. Some folks just like having lots of people around them, and like you, I’m not one of those either. I enjoy social time, but time to recover is vitally important. Ya get what ya get.

    There is truth in what you say, but goal congruence is a difficult – but not impossible – way through that maze. Dunno, it involves compromise and making do, but the other person has to also have those abilities, or have the enthusiasm to learn them. When I worked in the top end of town, I tended to hire folks who spoke to the gentle arts of enthusiasm combined with ability to learn. There is a certain sort of learned helplessness in our society and it is viewed with misplaced pride, and I am very uncomfortable about that outcome.

    Rain is good and necessary. You might be getting it easy? Some parts of this continent appear to be enjoying more rain than they bargained for! Vampire Cleanup Department looked like a lot of fun. Good stuff. Hey, I might get to watch the Arthur film before you do, then um does the first review become ‘the’ review? Inquiring minds want to know?

    Yes, of course all manner of unpleasant natural events occurred during the declining days of the western Roman Empire. I doubt that we as a society are much better placed than those folks were to weather such a consistent storm of unrelenting punishment.

    No! Tell me it’s not true. It is! We could all use with some blurting and bullwhipping (whatever that is). 🙂

    Sorry to say, but I headed off the farm earlier this morning to pick up some stuff at the supermarket in the nearby town as well as running all the other errands in one big loop, and I was half way there when I realised that I had forgotten my mask and had to turn around and get it. Do you know I’ve noticed that it is generally older folks who seem not to adhere to the mask rules – and admittedly the regulations are confusing. If in you are in a high risk category, you have to be more cautious, sorry to say.



  2. Hi Inge,

    I’m terribly sorry, but I accidentally missed replying to your comment yesterday. Please forgive my oversight. Possibly something to do with over exertion and moving large rocks in the hot afternoon summer sun.

    Imagine the sheer intrigue you’d cause your neighbours and the local population in general if you purchased the monolith and then installed it in a highly visible location? Of course given the ocean knocked over the monolith there would be a need to secure it properly, and concrete is good for that purpose. It’s really nice that people up your way can find amusing ways to keep the population intrigued and entertained in these strange days. It brings to mind the bloke who wore the medieval plague doctor mask. The news down here is that further lock downs are taking place?

    Hehe! And yes, your Banksy is a proper trickster and I thoroughly approve. He’s even done some work in Melbourne too, and a clueless plumber put a whopping great big hole through the art work. And the artist was most nonplussed with that, although I’ll bet the owners of the house had a right fit that day. Funny stuff, and glad that I was not involved!

    It is really hot down here in summer land. But you know, the plants need the heat. I have not had a single cucumber plant germinate this year. Very unusual and I have no idea what is going on there. Do you grow those plants?



  3. Hi, Chris!

    Once upon a time I wished to become a cobbler – or a book binder. Alas, neither one of those ambitions was realized. I do still very, very occasionally take shoes or boots to a cobbler. We seem to have mostly such cheap shoes now at our house that if I can’t fix them with Shoe Goo or Gear Aid I just throw them away and buy a new pair. Shameful.

    We haven’t had to buy tires lately, so I can’t speak to that, but your mention of steel is interesting. My son is always sourcing steel for something – he needed a lot for Mr. Dumpy’s dump bed. And a couple of days ago he went off to a salvage yard nearby and bought a piece to turn into liners, with the ceramic liners, for the wood stove. As far as I can tell he can usually find what he wants within an hour’s drive, if not right here. It is all secondhand, of course. The last piece was, I think, a 120 pound (54kg) piece at $.15 per pound. Did I ever tell you that my son learned his metalworking skills because he was apprenticed for 6 years to a well-known bronze sculptor here, starting at age 18?

    That’s a very attractive little table. Is that what we here would call a nightstand, something put on each side of one’s bed to pile 11 books on?

    That’s a beautiful shade of rose, the orangey one. The delicately hued yellow one is exquisite, too.

    My first Fava (Broad) Bean was up yesterday. I planted them November 21. It took me awhile to get hold of the seeds or I would have planted them earlier; they were pricey things, too. Three weeks seems a good germination time to me since it is sort of winter here, and we do occasionally get below-freezing nights. I don’t know much about them; this is just an experiment.


  4. Hello Chris
    I am so envious when you mention sun and warmth. It is so grey here that I need to have the electric light on during the day; wet as well.
    I noticed that you made a prior mention of making jam with fruit that had been frozen. I have never done this, have always made jam as soon as I had picked the fruit. An curious to know whether it makes any difference.
    Also a previous reference to free speech. It certainly doesn’t exist here any longer. This seems very dangerous to me as it means that one no longer has any idea as to what people are really thinking.


  5. Hello Chris,

    Thank you for sharing your perspective of being flexible and making do. I believe that open-mindedness and the ability to accept reality as it unfolds will be the most important personal character skill to develop, to thrive in times of descent.

    Here in the shipping country of the Netherlands, international cargo traders blame a lot of short supplies of a lack of shipping containers. According to the news media here, the oligopoly of international shipping (20 companies do 90+% of all container shipping) have decided to reduce their fleets and several ships are temporarily (?) off duty since March. Consequently, the flux of containers has been broken and empty containers are in the wrong place. It is a story that is difficult to check, my friends in China could not confirm this. I suspect that this is only part of the reason why supply chains are creaking and breaking.

    Quinces are all fantastic fragrant kitchen companions. Which species do you have? The Chaenomeles family is prickly and diverse.
    In the town where I live, the municipality has planted thousands of bushes of Chaenomeles japonica, since they flower fine and are virtually indestructible. Now, just before the shortest day of the year, is the season for the fruit. Strangely enough, I think that I am the only person in the whole town who is picking any of the fruit, despite telling all my friends what a joy these fruits can bring!
    The bright yellow little quinces hang on to the leaf-free bushes deep into the winter and spread a faint fragrance of lemon. (quite different from JMG’s latest citrus smelling story…)
    The flowering quince makes a delicious jelly and last week I made 5 pots of 400g each. I like this jelly even better than the jelly from the European classic Cydonia quince. There is of course a tradeoff, since the Cydonia fruits are easily 10x larger by weight and therefore easier to process. Also the Cydonia has no thorns, so the picking is less painful…
    If you are lucky, you have the Chinese quince species (Mu gua) which is both delicious and medicinal (antiviral – probably extra useful in these strange times).

    Culinary regards,

  6. Yo, Chris – Everything old, is new again. Back in the day (into the 1920s) New York and Chicago had their Els. As in, “Elevated Trains.” Before the subways went everywhere. Passing commuters could catch glimpses of life in first floor apartments. The artist Edward Hopper, did several paintings of life glimpsed from the Els.

    Here in the States, you often see, especially on main roads, small shops that have been plopped into what was the front yards, of fine old houses. There are at least two, just a couple of blocks from where I live. One was a barbershop, that I frequented, before I started hacking away at my own hair.

    Cobblers seem to be one of the few repair businesses, that are still with us. Maybe it’s because out in the country, or, rural areas, if you have a good pair of boots, you want to keep them in good shape, as the initial investment is pretty pricey. You may remember the year or so I worked at the place making wooden clogs. One day a week was given over to repairing old sets of clogs.

    I remember you mentioning working for the shoe manufacture, but a steel distributor is new information. Dare I say, “cobbling together a life?” 🙂 .

    Hmmm. All this talk of cobblers reminded me of a couple of things. In the tat trade, every once in awhile I’d run across sets of “vintage cast iron shoe lasts.” There are a lot around, so, at one point they must have been as common an item as cast iron meat grinders (also in great supply). People liked the shoe lasts, as decor. Usually, around fireplaces to give an “old time” look. They’ll still be around when things get desperate.

    Don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie “Kinky Boots.” Came out in 2005. Not to be confused with the later musical. Nick Frost is in it.

    The bedroom units are very smart. And, will look smarter with the stain off. If you happen to run across a furniture manufacturers label, please preserve it as best as possible. For future tat dealers. 🙂

    I hope the big rock doesn’t shift and smoosh the gabion cage. LOL. Well, we’ll take your word for it that your sitting on a big rock, as, we can’t see it. The new path looks quit inviting. All shady. Plum is either easily awed, or easily amused. 🙂 . She knows which side her treats are buttered on.

    We’ll follow your garden experiments with interest. Why not? Throw it in the moat as see if it floats. So to speak.

    The Globe Artichokes are quit striking. And the grapes and peas look well on their way. The red currents like little jewels. I think I mentioned I’ve inherited a couple of bushes. Red ones.

    That native wildflower looks a bit like some kind of wild geranium. The shape. Maybe. Don’t you have something like a “Field Guide to Australian Wildflowers?” The color is very pretty.

    Ah, now that looks like a proper poppy. One that might yield something medicinal. Or, at least seeds for some poppy seed buns.
    The roses sure are moving along. The multi-colored one looks a bit like a “Peace Rose.” But not quit. My mother had a few. We have a patch of flowers, near our grapes, that look a lot like your gazinia. They’re pretty freely self seeding. Not to my taste, but other people like them, so I give them a shot of water, when I water the grapes. Cont.

  7. Cont. Mr. Nimoy would be a vampire. Vampires are usually, more of a class act. And Mr. Nimoy had class.

    I read more of Mr. Kunstler’s book, last night. No more startling insights, but the stories are interesting. I did notice the couple up on the island, not far from here had some interesting thoughts. That the Great Depression was more about the scarcity of money, than the scarcity of goods. But if you had both together … things would get very bad. What also caught my eye was “I fear that we might start having crop failures, particularly in our commercial, monoculture-favoring agriculture. Every time that’s happened in civilization, it’s always ended badly.” You may remember I just recently read a book about the tenuousness of our commercial agriculture, in California and the mid-west.

    A lot of people can’t connect with family, this year. Or, can, at their own peril. Even though I’m an orphan, and glad of it, I do feel for those people. Especially the one’s (like your Tree Dudes) whose culture has always been heavily invested in family connections. Speaking of You Know What, I just heard that the Building Manager (Ooops! Assistant Housing Director) over at our sister institution in Centralia, well, her husband has That Which Cannot Be Named. She’s tested negative, twice, but is still in quarantine. The inmates over there must be running wild! No supervision! Lucky them. Another fringe benefit of all this. No carolers caterwauling down the hallways. Disturbed my nap, last year. Not that I hold a grudge … 🙂

    Well, if anyone mentions the rock you moved, just mutter darkly, “Aliens.”

    Box fan …

    It was old, but not that old. The motor caught fire, and, as the blades were still spinning, shot flames 6 feet into the room. Why I’m very leery of running anything unless I’m home, and awake.

    I always said of old character actors, who worked steadily, year in and year out, “Showed up on time, know their lines, get along with everyone.”

    Ah, Shatner. Before Star Trek …

    I actually saw this, years ago. What the trailer doesn’t emphasize is the sheer amount of wall to wall pulchritudinous cheese cake.

    Does the first review become “the review?” Is there money involved? If not, I have no ego invested in order of reviews, first, or otherwise. Whatever floats your boat 🙂 .

    Bullwhipping …

    Three minutes. You may remember that the Evil Stepson’s spawn (the child ain’t right!) used to snap his whip, from the time he got home from school, til dark. When he wasn’t taking axes to tree stumps, for the same amount of time. Disturbed my naps. Hmmm. Might be something you might want to add to your repertoire of “evasive manoeuvres.”

    Ah, yes. The mask shuffle (or tango.) It’s interesting to watch people in parking lots. Out of the car, halfway to the store, a double-back. Retrieve mask. Resume forward march. Well, people are getting more exercise, these days.

    H got her bath, yesterday. Lots of mats around her feet. Always dicey. She doesn’t like her feet messed with, in the first place. Who knows why? And it’s a delicate operation to figure out where she ends, and the mats, begin. But no disasters.

    I finally made up the pea and swiss cheese salad. Peas, cubed Swiss cheese, a diced and fried onion, some diced up bacon. One part mayo to two parts sour cream. A bit of ground pepper, on top. I fried the onion in some of the bacon drippings, I saved. Tasty, I think. Gave some to Eleanor. Review to follow 🙂 . Lew

  8. Making do.
    A combination of ingenuity, resolve, necessity, thrift, and a dash of resignation or the joy of tackling a challenge, depending on the overall situation and the day’s mood.

    It’s a behavior that is in short supply amongst the comfortable first world, and I expect will be done a lot more in our future. We have seen bit of supply chain oddities here, and I expect it may get worse for a while.

    Another ripple effect of the scourge that will not be named, and another reminder that outsourcing too much to other countries has some risk we may not have been fully considering. Even the price of basic lumber has shot up, and it’s just coming from Canada generally.

    I actually think that making do is a good exercise for the brain, as one is forced into mental realms not of one’s choice, but necessary.

    Much of the consumer economy here in the U.S. is about minimizing effort and turning us helpless and passive. Convenience doodads that save ten seconds amaze me that someone buys them.

    Maybe I missed it, but will you have to alter your plans, or is Moby Rock II not in the way of the new shed? I suspect expanding grout is not an option! : )

  9. Hey Chris,

    Well, it would be very surprising if you could have what happened this year without supply chains disruptions. Apparently China said their exports had grown 6% this year. I find that about as believable as the idea they eliminated the virus. Who exactly was buying all these exports?

    On the subject of people buying land in the country, there was a company-wide meeting where I’m working last week that was done via teleconference. A senior manager called in from his new ‘tree change’ property somewhere or other. The lazy 50 acres apparently. I wonder who maintains the property for these kinds of people when they’re not there?

    Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Secret Chiefs so far. It really takes off when the sexy Russian witch joins the fray 🙂

    I’ve been chipping away at the next novel but only get an hour or two in the morning before work starts which is a bit of a bummer. Gone are the heady days of writing a whole book in three weeks. Sigh.

  10. Hello Chris
    I failed to answer your cucumber question. Both Son and I had a disastrous cucumber year i.e. none at all. This has never happened before.


  11. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for yours and your sons experience with cucumbers this year. It is certainly odd, and also unexpected. Even the seeds set out in the greenhouse have not yet germinated. I’m honestly not sure what to make of the situation.

    We sure do get a lot of warmth down here during an ordinary summer. Sometimes there can be a tad bit too much warmth for comfort. Today reached 89’F. In no time at all, the tables will be turned, and it will then be you who is enjoying the summer warmth and I will have the wood heater running.

    The berries all produce over a long period of the growing season as we have chosen to plant heritage varieties. So with jam we have to freeze them and then produce the jam – which is done in bulk, so it is not few jars, but dozens of jars. The general order of berries here is: Strawberries – Raspberries – Currants – Gooseberries – Guavas – Blackberries. They’re all good and the sugars are higher as the season progresses.

    The editor runs the jam making side of things and a few years ago after a failed batch of strawberry jam, she delved into the science behind jam making, and has not looked back. The website may have even been called that very title. Raspberry jam is an absolute favourite.

    Yes, unfortunately the same is true here too. There are times when I read some blogs written over in the US and know that if I were to pen such things, well I’d have the pants sued off me. A few months ago a public figure was successfully sued for ‘liking’ an odious comment that they had not written. Free speech is not a reality these days, and from what I understand it is not even a part of our constitution. What do you do? It is possible that things could get far worse before they get better.

    And of course, I agree that the result is that people will say one thing in public, and another in private.



  12. Hi Pam, Goran, Lewis, Steve and Simon,

    Thanks for the lovely comments but it is the mid-week hiatus. Promise to reply tomorrow.

    It is possible that the grumpy wombat has cancelled Christmas this year given the state of the festivities. Possibly marsupial scats were involved? It makes one wonder.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Really? I hadn’t known that as I’d had the odd notion that the underground railways in New York came first, although I’m not sure why. I’ve read a bit about the history of the trains and trams down here and what surprises me is just how much easier a time of it they had in those days undertaking large civil infrastructure works. I realise that they are constructing another underground rail loop in Melbourne right now, and by sheer chance I walked past the opening of one such station the other day and it was pretty epic.

    But all the same, if a railroad needed building it just kind of happened – yeah, let’s do this mother! 🙂 But after a while that sort of large scale public infrastructure got dumped stopped and then after WWII everyone seemed in favour of roads, which frankly off shore a lot of costs onto the users. And then those rail and tram networks stopped expanding. Recently, they have expanded the train and tram networks a bit, but I’m hearing that people are afraid to use public transport due to the health risk, but zero cases in the state (other than quarantine hotels) so just sayin.

    You know, I had the opposite thing happen where my mum used to cut my hair, and then maybe when I was seven or eight I said enough is enough – she’d been drinking and cut my ear with the scissors – and so I took myself off to the barbers. It was a very old school experience in those days. A mate of mine is in a barbershop quartet, although he isn’t a barber.

    Exactly, and I find it interesting that quality work boots are still made down under, and I always buy the locally made leather boots. Although having been in the industry it is possible that there is some import content such as the sole, but I might be wrong too. The work boot manufacturers always have super tough names too like Red back (my fave) after the deadly spider, or Mongrel. Good fun, and good boots too.

    Speaking of which I’m trialling using oil skin gaiters over the boots when digging and why I never used them before is a real mystery. I used to wear army gaiters over boots in cadets at school. They work.

    Hye, the old timer irons used to be seen fairly regularly too. Mate those things were hot and heavy and I’ve seen images of people using them where the handle is wrapped up in a thick towel. People made do in those days, although I have heard of people ironing sheets and I don’t get that story.

    I saw Kinky Boots back in the day and it was a fun film. Musicals though… Some brands of footwear can become larger than life, and I recall that back in the punk era Dr Marten’s boots were all the rage. I believe they have vegan varieties of those boots, but I dare not mention the origins of the oil used to produce the plastics…

    OK, yes there is a label on the draw units. I believe the label was ironman. Another tough name. The units are extraordinarily well constructed, and we’ll use tung oil to bring out the natural yellows of the native hardwoods.

    The Moby Rock II is almost the entire face excavated out of the earth behind me. It’s big and as long as it doesn’t stray off contour it should be fine. Actually if that happens then it is all more than fine with me.

    Plum has a lovely nature but as you hint at, she is easily bought. This is not necessarily a bad thing as a dog with expensive habits would be a sore trial. Yes, unpleasant. 🙂

    As I was reading Cesar it became clear to me why shelters are so crazy about wanting to see whether their dog will kill your dog. This is not a fault of the dog, but a fault of the owners. So the whole arrangement annoys the daylights out of me because I just expect the dogs to get along and so I run their world that way. For the dogs to be cracking the sads about their fellow creatures means that they are running the show. Common, yes. Optimal, no. Even super scary looking Ollie just has to fit in and deal.

    FAB – that’s Thunderbirds speak for Fully Acknowledged Broadcast just before TB2 blows up something or other. 🙂 Appreciate the vote of support for the plant experiments – if we don’t try and fail, how do we know what success looks like? The greenhouse has opened up a world of plant possibilities. This year would be looking not so good without that building.

    Respect the red currants. Both the red and black varieties are real givers, and they produce so many berries that the birds hardly have a chance keeping up with the growth.

    It was 89’F here today, but now the fog has rolled on in and it’s only 59’F outside right now.

    The plant is Dichopogon strictus otherwise known as the chocolate lily. Super hardy flowering plants.

    Hey, I may have mentioned to you a while back that the nice electricity companies were getting remote people off the grid: Off-grid dream becomes reality as bushfire threat creates new era for power networks . Fascinating, and I do wonder if the people who get such a system handed to them learn how to baby the system along during the worst of times? Dunno.

    Some of the photos were very interesting from a fire ecology recovery. If you get a chance look at the photo: “Amanda and Srisa’s property was at the end of 4 kilometres of powerline, in Eurobodalla.” The trees that have some distance one from the other to the left hand side and above the buildings are barely burnt. The trees on the edge of the forest in thicker densities have likewise have recovered better than their peers. So much to see there.

    And I count 28 panels. We’ve got about 42 in place… Just sayin…

    Bed is calling!



  14. Hi Chris,
    You’ve prompted me to look for local shoe repair shops and there are about 1/2 dozen that are within 45 minutes of me – who knew?

    I have passed on info regarding Cesar Milan’s book to my daughter the owner of pandemic puppy, Ruth. She has been getting some obedience training locally and there has been some improvement though she’s chewed several pieces of furniture lately. When she was younger (she’s now 9-10 months) the chewing was less and not nearly as destructive.

    We had a Christmas gift exchange with my older daughter’s family as we don’t see them on Christmas day. Normally this event would be at her home but as her husband is over the top in his reaction to that which must not be mentioned we ended up exchanging at younger daughter’s home, outside in her backyard. Ruth was given a gift which the pet shop owner was almost indestructible. Within 1/2 hour the seemingly solidly made pig had been disemboweled and a leg removed. Anyway it was a cold get together as it was in the low 30’s but at least sunny and calm. By the way I’m tired of referring to them as older daughter and younger daughter. Oldest is Cecily and younger is Carla. They are almost 8 years apart in age. My twin granddaughters are Anna and Abi and are 15.

    How great it is to have long relationships with local businesses.

    With the shortages best practice is to plan ahead something that more often than not isn’t done.

    Whatever happened to peak rock?

    Weather here has turned pretty cold but in the normal range but practically no snow.


  15. @Lew
    So you don’t like Christmas carols either. You are quite the scrooge :). My mother would have liked you. One of the items I inherited from her is a doormat at my frontdoor with the Grinch and “Bah Humbug”.


  16. Chris,

    That mystery quince looks like what I get on my quince bushes, and my tiny quince remain as hard as…All I can say is: It is an itsy bitsy, teenie weenie, yellow quince like fruity thingy…

    Back to last week for a moment, after an exceptionally busy several days hereabouts…3 or 4cm of snow needing attention most days…Yes, I prefer “hands on”. It is too easy for me to get caught up in overly theorizing and losing sight of doing what must be done. Remaining hands on is good for my mental outlook, as the Princess can well attest.

    Are you and I in error regarding proximity to the power brokers in office jobs? Depends on what one wants out of life and jobs, doesn’t it? To get and remain in those positions seems much too political and stressful to me.

    “With few or no services in rural areas comes greater freedom to act, but also a far higher degree of responsibility than people have become accustomed to. ” Well said. With freedom comes responsibility, a principle that appears to have been forgotten by too many.

    Well, the burned hand IS doing very well. I agree that good patients must have a lot of patience. Further, bad patients tend to lack patience, or, as I say, “You’re no longer a bad patient. You’re an IMpatient.”

    This week is the Princess’s monthly trek to aid her brother. He wants a certain brand of canned chili. That brand has been “on sale” at the local grocery stores, so it can’t be found, except in “cheesy”, “extra hot”, or similar odd formulations. I finally bought him a few cans of “thick”. The Princess said that he wouldn’t like it. I reminded her that due to the unmentionable and several other things that we have discussed (all related to the long descent type idea), there are some things that sometimes can’t be found, and that a substitute item or going without are the only options. So she said, “In other words, he needs to adapt to what is available.” Yup. It’s not just food, or toilet paper (I’m STILL mystified by why that gets hoarded) or cleaning products or tyres, or whatever. It’s cycling through various things. You summed it up nicely with “Adaption and grasping at opportunities is possibly the best approach in these circumstances.”

    Congratulations on finding Moby Rock II. Soon there will be an entire family of Moby Rocks, maybe even enough for an entire clan! While blasting them into little bits would be most enjoyable, discretion and better valor come to mind. I’m guessing that adapting the project to Moby Rock II is well under way?

    The path to the orchards is coming along nicely. Glad the dogs are in awe of it. Keeping them in awe is part of reminding them who is the alpha and who isn’t. 😉 Seriously, glad to see that you and they are getting things solved to some degree. The thing that changed how we related to Thordog was when I took him to obedience school. He caught on quickly during and after that.

    Thank you again for the flower photos! I think Al mentioned last week something about the sun not being around much? And his part of the state is typically sunnier than here. However, there are times in which the entire region gets socked in with clouds and small passing storm systems and maybe fog. We’re in one of those trends now. Gonna get between 7 and 10C here for a few days, but with mostly clouds. There’s about 6cm of snow on the ground now, which will disappear quickly, putting Spokane back into the typical December 50 shades of grey. Pictures of bright flowers are especially welcome during the 50 shades of grey season.

    Took the car that got rear ended in November into the body shop today. They called me a few hours later. After taking off the damaged panel, they discovered more severe damage to the back hatch. So, twill take until Friday or maybe even Monday to get the other parts in and finish, as opposed to being without the car for two days. The Princess did take me to the car rental place today, the rental being paid for by the other insurance, so I do have a car if I need one. But…it’s a Dodge Charger which is entirely useless in the snow. How do I know? Because we had about 2cm of wet sloppy snow that was as slippery as an eel today, and Mr. Charger didn’t like it one bit. Fortunately, that’s mostly gone and the roads should be fine for the next week or more.


  17. @ Margaret – “Bah! Humbug!” My standard Christmas greeting! 🙂 .

    Or, as I often say, “If I could catch the little b______, I’d kick the crutches out from underneath Tiny Tim!” 🙂 .

    I stole that from someone, years ago. Can’t remember, who. Hmmm. Something similar was said on “Gilmore Girls.” Which I have never watched, and know nothing about. Lew

  18. Yo, Chris – LOL. Running VERY late, today. I stayed up way to late watching season 3 of “Westworld.” Finished it. I see there’s to be a season 4. Hope I live long enough to see it 🙂 .

    The whole history of street cars, is interesting. Was there a conspiracy of the auto, tyre and gas companies, to do them in?

    The picture of the discarded street car, made me very sad.

    I sang barbershop, in high school. I was a “first tenor.” That’s the guy whose voice soars to hit those high notes. Sigh. Doubt I could still do it. Lack of practice. And the booze, pills and cigarettes … 🙂 .

    We still have at least 12 companies, that still make work boots, in the US. If the quality is good, people will pay the price. At least, for work boots.

    Odd that. One of the auctions, that’s on now, has a box of the old irons. They make good bookends. I knew a fellow, here in town, who collected them. He had one or two hundred, all from different manufacturers. People collect the darndest things.

    Doc Martin’s were de rigueur, for the punk rock crowd, back in the day. After my time.

    I poked about to see if I could find out anything about Ironman furniture. Not much. Some sources say it’s Australian made, others, China. Might have been sold to The Land of Stuff. But, I did run across an interesting article. Or, you may find it interesting. Still a lot of furniture, made in Australia.

    H is really funny about getting along with other dogs. Some she takes to, some not. Maybe the one’s she doesn’t like have poor personal hygiene? She seems to get on best with dogs her size, or smaller.

    I never watched the Thunderbirds. The few glimpses I got, well, I thought the puppets were creepy.

    It’s interesting and fun, to consider plant possibilities. Which reminds me, I got a post card from Territorial seed. If I order before the end of December, and use the secret code, I get free shipping. Nothing to be sneezed at, these days. So, I’d better take stock of seed I’ve saved, and see what else I may want to order.

    I took a dive down the rabbit hole, as the chocolate lilly was neither brown, nor looked like any lilly I’ve ever seen. Ah, it smells like chocolate. And, I suppose because it has a tuber, it falls to the lilly family. I also see that it’s good bush tucker. The tubers are sweet when young (but, bitter when old) and are good raw or roasted.

    That was an interesting article about the Stand Alone Power Systems. The program does give people a leg up, but, I suppose it then depends on what they do with the systems. Will they investigate the care and feeding, or, just depend on the power company to keep it up and running? From your telling us the story of your system, I can see all kinds of week links. Batteries, generators, diesel to run the generators. Etc.. I was also a bit disturbed by the “…don’t need people to come and clear trees underneath the wires.” So, you just let the brush pile up? As far as fire recovery ecology recovery, you see things I don’t. Due to your infinitely deep experience. And, as far as 28 panels, vs your 42, is it some kind of an arms race? 🙂 . My solar power array is bigger than yours? Maybe they just haven’t caught onto the fact that the answer to Life, The Universe, and Everything, is … 42?

    Well, I’m feeling like a cleaver boy. I wanted to get down to the library and get the “Arthur & Merlin” film. The library closes at 6. When I took H out at 4:45, it was pouring down. But, I had the idea to check the weather radar. Looked like there was a break, coming. Went out at 5:30, and it was dry. And remained dry, for my whole trip to the library and back. So, tonight I’ll watch the film, and pig out on the last of the pea and swiss salad. I even checked to make sure the film would play. No dreaded “Will not play in your region.” Hasn’t happened in awhile, but that doesn’t mean it won’t. No unpleasant surprises.

    It was after dark, when I took my walk. Some houses have no Christmas lights. Other’s look like half-hearted sad attempts. And, there were three or four that you could see from outer space. The new Christmas light gizmo, this year, is something that projects giant moving snowflakes, on the side of a house. There’s two or three in our neighborhood. Not a bad effect. Lew

  19. Hi Pam,

    Quality shoes are never a regretful purchase! 🙂 I’m very particular about work boots, as I wear them most days, even at client’s workplaces. Your ambitions did you proud and they’re both good trades and likely to be in demand long into the future. Between you and I, I know absolutely nothing about book binding. It’s a mystery trade.

    Wow, that is way super cheap for steel. For your general curiosity, second hand steel is not so easy to come by down here as most is sent off to China for recycling. Some of the really old thick corrugated galvanised sheets are amazing quality, but they’re becoming harder to source. The newer and thinner sheets are OK, but not as good as those older sheets.

    Respect. Did your son complete his apprenticeship? I sense a story there because you used the past tense. I used to live across the road from Peter Corlett and he was a really lovely bloke and one of my favourite neighbours.

    Hehe! You guessed it correctly and that is exactly where the draw units will end up (you may note the symmetry of the two units?) Your book collection does you credit! Isn’t it always the way that the book collection keeps on filling up? It is hard to dodge book recommendations here, but don’t tell anyone. Did a bit of a stock-take recently and pared back the collection by removing some not to ever read again books. How do you handle such tough decision making exercises?

    Top work with the broad beans. They’re super cold hardy, so you might be amazed by them. Certainly they survived snow and bitingly cold winter winds (although I plant them very densely) when no other bean would do so. If they survive your winter, they’ll be off and racing (as did the wheat) when spring arrives. If they survive, I’d recommend trialling green mustard next as that is my go to winter green.

    One of the two ginger tubers sprouted today in the greenhouse. It’s exciting!!!



  20. Hi Goran,

    Thanks, and yeah it is all about being nimble and being alert to opportunities, and then seizing upon them. Not always easy, and as the saying goes: Opportunity often comes knocking at the door but it wears overalls and looks like hard work.

    You know, this is the second time today that I have heard that story about shipping containers. Honestly, and I’m not messing around with you here – the story sounds phoney to my mind. I used to work in the transport industry, and one thing that I have not seen is a shortage of shipping containers. Far out, there are yards full of the things stacked six containers high. Hmm, I’m not a believer.

    I applaud your enthusiasm for the fruit, and will now share a little secret. They’re one of my favourite fruits. I’ve got a couple of Cydonia trees growing, and also the Chinese variety and each year get some fruit – but not enough at this stage as the trees are too young. Purchases have to make up for the production slackness of the trees. Over winter, and at your stage of the year, we stew the fruit with a little bit of sugar and mixed spice. There is nothing finer to add to home made toasted muesli on a cold winters morning. 🙂 Yum!

    And oh yeah, the Quince jelly is a real treat. And thank you too for mentioning the Japanese Quince. Interesting and I had not previously encountered this variety. Intriguing!

    Well that’s the crazy thing isn’t it? I see unpicked fruit trees in Melbourne and wonder why that might be the case? And yes, like you I harvest any and all of the wild fruits around these parts. It is bonkers not to do so, but it seems unfashionable to do so. Makes it easy for folks like you and I who are alert to such things.

    You know I believe that a diet rich in diverse plant materials can provide some resistance to everything out there which wants to consume us. I wonder about your part of the world, but down here people don’t consume nearly enough ‘leafy greens’. And even less people consume plants freshly picked from the garden. It won’t end well you know.

    Out of curiosity, have you given any thought to producing edible plants over the winter months in your locale? Or old school preservation techniques?



  21. Hi Steve,

    Yeah, like what you said. Exactly, and I could not have put the concept any better. The old timers used to bang on about Carpe Diem (or Latin for Seize the Day).

    Dunno about you, but if my mood feels a bit off, I sort of take that as a warning sign and go and do something else with my day.

    That container shortage story doesn’t ring true to me because I’ve seen massive yards full of containers stacked six high. Honestly, I’m not a believer, but am prepared to be wrong. The story is possibly a smoke screen: Don’t look here, look over there…

    Things on a lumber front seem fairly stable down here, and there are vast local quick growing hardwood forests, and also there is salvage of dead trees from bushfire ravaged areas. And some of our lumber comes from New Zealand too. And if the land of stuff keeps slapping bans on our export markets, well I dunno. But we are being punished as I’m guessing an object lesson to you guys, no doubts about it. Fun times, but no timber shortage down here. Geo politics at the moment is in err, a state of flux.

    What a good point. Yeah, forcing people out of their comfort zones and into a world where they might just have to make-do. An interesting observation, which I had not considered.

    No, not at all. Moby Rock II is (at this stage of the excavations) in the exact right spot. It’s uncanny. And yeah, the rock shelf is freakin’ huge. But I’m quietly hoping that the rock does not extend off the contour that it is currently at. I guess we’ll find out sooner or later…

    The berry harvest this year is nothing short of astounding and the freezer is rapidly filling up with the berries.



  22. @ Margaret
    My younger daughter is also a Carla. She is 56 and the name appeared to be unknown here when I gave it to her. Now it is extremely common. A close friend also has a Carla and I have to say ‘your Carla’ or ‘my Carla’.


  23. Hi Simon,

    What? Well it all makes a good story and Mark Chopper Read once quipped that he never let the truth get in the way of a good story. I used to have a post box at the same post office as him, and one day inadvertently upset the nice people working at the post office counter by making a dumb joke (but in context to the general conversation) about ears. They corrected me rather rapidly and truly looked horrified, and I was more careful after that time. Never saw the guy.

    Two comments have already mentioned container shortages. Like seriously, there are huge yards of the things stacked six high… WTF?

    I’m with you in that belief. It is just not possible to shut down cities for months at a time and have productive enterprises go on as before, yet biggerer. The story makes little to no sense to me, but hey, if they want to peddle it… I have no beef with that lot.

    Far out you made me laugh! What the heck? What even is a lazy acre other than an unmanaged forest waiting to go up like Natashya’s apocalypse? You must stop writing immediately. I almost spat coffee all over the table today at the local general store reading your book. It was a real effort to not do so, and the locals – who have seriously long memories – might think I’ve got the cooties if I had done so. I blame you and your writing! Hehe! 🙂

    Ah yes, welcome to my world of working and limits. Yeah, life is tough. Yup. Better an hour or two than nothing at all is my take on that story.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    It is a bit of a surprise, but if the leather uppers of a shoe are OK, then the soles can often be replaced by a skilled cobbler. Hey, clothes can be repaired too, and down here the local dry cleaners usually have connections to seamstresses who can just work magic on clothes repairs. The dry cleaners farm out the work.

    Yeah, there have been a few articles about the fate of pandemic puppies, so Ruth is not so much of a surprise. Dogs need exercise and challenges or mates, otherwise they get bored. People over do the affection side of the story. It is possible that Ruth could do with some timeout on the farm in the company of Leo and Salve. And those two rapscallions would most certainly enjoy the stay.

    Ruth is probably super-bored and more regular walks would be good for Cecily and/or her partner as well. Go Ruth! Hehe! Indestructible is always a big claim and hey, it just tempts the dog chew gods huh? 😉 Funny stuff.

    And thanks for the introductions and pleased to meet the family. 🙂

    And yes, I rely on the local businesses as much as they probably rely on their local customer base. It is really nice to be known, especially as I’m a bit quirky and generally polite and people are trained to see this as being lower in the pecking order. I abide my time and come back ‘sharp as’ with a pithy observation or three and so it has gone on for over a decade. But, they all look out for me and I’m really grateful for that and never give hassles.

    I’d be curious to hear how you approach the problem, but sometimes there are just things that I have not considered and those shortages of stuff hit pretty hard.

    No, yes, peak rocks is real. We’re just excavating more rocks out of the ground, therefore the cost to obtain more rocks is much higher than previously. A cheeky scamp might suggest that the rocks returned on the energy invested has drastically fallen over the past few years.

    Nice to hear. Snow is lovely and only a little bit here and there is a real pleasure. Ice storms, yeah not good. It’s been warm here this week, but tomorrow it looks set to rain. Up north they’re having epic floods… Said that was going to happen after all the smoke from the bushfires, but who’s listening…



  25. @ DJSpo:

    “I agree that good patients must have a lot of patience.” That is so funny. If Chris said it first, it’s still funny! And so is this of yours: ‘Further, bad patients tend to lack patience, or, as I say, “You’re no longer a bad patient. You’re an IMpatient.” ‘


  26. Chris:

    I would say that one more year would have really set my son’s skills, though certainly it takes much longer than 7 years to become a master. But my son does know well enough how to create a bronze sculpture from conception to the finished product, of all sizes. Some of the stuff they did was way bigger than lifesize. We have a small foundry here at the house, though it is not set up right now.

    I looked through some of Peter Corlett’s sculptures. Incredible work. Thanks.

    I happen to have a lot of green mustard growing right now, planted in late summer. It is a variety that I particularly like because it is so mild: Early Mizuna Mustard. I have a bit of red mustard, too, but it is really too spicy for me.

    Great news about your ginger. I hope that some of it will flower as the flowers are exquisite and smell like – ginger!


  27. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, yeah you’re onto something there and Mr Nimoy would have made a good vampire. And yeah he was an interesting bloke. Don’t we all love a bit of inscrutability?

    Yeah, the couple on the island story was a bit unsettling as it didn’t end well. Nothing to do with the author mind you, just a rubbish day when things don’t go so well. And yeah, that ending is a possibility with Ollie too, but he is learning wariness. When he first arrived he took his tasks to mean that they were a contact sport, but he’s learned the hard way through the school of hard knocks to use a bit more care in his interactions and lead from the rear. He’s pretty clever really – a lesser dog would be dead. The deer really are the biggest around.

    Exactly though. Yup, then scarcity of money. This time around scarcity of goods. How could it be otherwise? The talk of container shortages defies my observations, but you know…

    Large scale agriculture is a thing and without it there is no way so many non agricultural workers could be otherwise fed. However, we produce next to no diesel fuel… Yeah not good, and I heard a minister of the goberment provide the statistic that half of all the calories on peoples plates down here arrive via way of fertilisers produced from natural gas. That is so not good, but the alternative is what I’m up to, and the yields are OK, but nothing like industrial agriculture. Ook! And yes, I do recall you mentioning the book.

    Here’s to the orphans! But yes, I feel for all the people who can’t connect this year, or are connecting in inhumane ways. I take no joy in the current circumstances, but what did we all expect? Nothing can go on forever and ever like the recent experiences.

    The Tree Dudes looked bummed out about it all, but they hold out hope for the future.

    Oh the rotten carol singers to have done so. No, it’s too early to forgive such awfulness so hang on tight and I applaud your ability to learn from the past. Had a vehicle pull that trick on us at 4.30am a week or two back. People have been shot for less.

    Hehe! Aliens! Never thought of that reply, but yeah good one. I’m yet to hear about the rock, but this is merely a matter of timing, and the timing has to be just right. It was most certainly noticed.

    Thanks for that, and I’ve never seen one of those box fans before. The experience of the flames would have been a disturbing experience – and a wise point of view. I removed the wind turbine for very similar reasons. Let’s just say that the dump load in the wind turbine circuit became very hot. Good experience, not keen to repeat it.

    You have made that observation before about turning up on time and knowing ones lines. There are times that I am exasperated with other peoples ability to see tasks through to completion. Is it fun to do so? No. But is it necessary – probably. Maybe I’m old fashioned.

    Clearly the downside of taking on any work is that sometimes the work is rubbish. Been there and done that. Occasionally I have had to sack clients that are too problematic – especially if they say one thing and do the opposite. And dunno about you, but generally if people are in a huge mess, there is probably not much that can be done.

    In this particular instance it appears that you will in fact get to watch the film first. Friday evening I may settle in with a glass of elderflower wine and watch the film. Had to work late again this evening – lots of stuff has to be completed before the arbitrary Christmas deadline. Not sure why it must be so, but it is. Hope you enjoy the film. And no, no egos will be harmed in the review process.

    Who can forget the evil stepson and spawn? Mate you were a saint to have lasted as long as you did. The water situation was a serious concern too.

    Hehe! People are getting more exercise these days!!! 🙂 And good to hear that H was not injured in the bathing and de-matting process. Old Fluffy had one such matt over her rear end and I had to cut the chunk of crusted fuzz of her. The smell was err, strong, but she just didn’t seem to care and merely looked inconvienced.

    Did I mention that I finally bumped into the homeless dude I speak to in the big smoke? He sells me the big issue and has been doing so for years. Hadn’t seem him for about most of the year and often wondered how he was going. Anyway, I had to fess up that I’d cheated on him and bought a copy of the magazine from another vendor when I was in the city last week. Slipped him some Christmas cash though and he seemed pretty chuffed. I enjoy the magazine too.

    The death of those streetcars read a bit like the demise of the Roman Empire. It wasn’t one killing blow, but lots of them all at once. Interestingly the tram network down here has had infrastructure put in recently to speed up the network – and that infrastructure has often come at the expense of the vehicle traffic. Lanes have been removed and super stops have been installed – basically stops where people don’t have to step down off the tram as the platform has been raised. I’m watching that story.

    Hey, all voices fade over time – even the very best of them – but dumb or boring was never good in the first place. Oh yeah.

    It’s funny that about work boots, but the same is true down here as well. I noticed that: RM Williams bought by Australian mining tycoon Andrew ‘Twiggy’ Forrest. There had been no talk of aliens, but there were rumours of declining quality.

    Your interests bring you into contact with collectors – and they’re an interesting breed. But old irons? Dunno about that one myself either.

    Thanks for the link to the local furniture designers and makers. Good stuff and it is pleasing to see such high quality work.

    H is not unusual, as dogs can be overwhelmed when facing a much larger dog. It takes them some time to get to the core personality of the larger dog, but it only took a few days for Sir Scruffy to show to the other dogs that Ollie wasn’t so big after all. And Ollie and Mr Toothy were best mates and they were hugely different in size.

    Creepy puppets blowing stuff up. The guys who did South Park produced a puppet film: ‘Team America’. The theme song was a hoot: AMERICA F*#K YEAH!. Oh yeah, it has some naughty words… Very silly.

    One of the two ginger tubers finally produced a shoot. Yay! This greenhouse thing is awesome. Free postage is a good offer and spring is really just around the corner – it’s not that far away for you.

    Never smelled any chocolate scent from the plants, but I may just dig up a tuber. Had no idea that they were possible bush tucker.

    Well, the main problem as I see it for the folks thrust into off gridness is that the system slowly and inexorably breaks down – every day. And one day it has to be replaced. I’m unsure that people who have been relying on the grid may expect that. And if they abuse the system it will wear out or break faster – and I get the impression that the poles and wires aren’t being replaced… Far freakin’ out! The 42 concept had not occurred to me, but yeah. Super-weird.

    There are some Christmas lights on around this year, but there are no concentrated street wide displays. I’ll be the people living there are unhappy about it. Patterns are being broken – what will take their place?



  28. Chris:

    Here is an excerpt from a book that I have been reading, “Motorin’ Along!”, about the early automobiles. This particular situation involved bootleg manure! The family were in California on a visit from Pennsylvania in 1927.

    “Twelve days after leaving Pennsylvania, the Youngs reached California. Since it would take some time to transact their business, Earl looked for an odd job to pay for the family’s stay. And what an “odd” job he found – he and another man bought and sold bootleg manure!

    It seems that farm workers at the time worked on beet ranches using their own horses and mules. They usually had an agreement with the ranch owners to leave the manure on the fields, but some sold the stuff to certain daring fellows who’d sneak onto the ranches at night and haul it away.

    Earl became acquainted with just such a businessman who bought the manure from the worker for $5 and sold it to the orange growers for $14 a truckload. The bootlegger hired Earl to drive what might be called a getaway truck.

    The work turned out to be every bit as dangerous as driving for bank robbers (it was the rare bootlegger who didn’t get shot at during a night’s work). With business concluded, the Youngs turned the Studebaker eastward.”

    One wonders what business Earl came to California for, considering his choice of odd job.


  29. Hello Chris
    There is talk about a container shortage here as well but am afraid that I haven’t paid any attention to the details. They may be caught up in a log jam.


  30. @ Pam,

    Glad you enjoyed the IMpatient idea. That is an original, as far as I know. Maybehaps I should trademark it.


  31. Hello Chris,
    Then we are two secret quince-fans. I promise to tell nobody.
    IMHO, any apple-cake recipe is vastly improved by substituting quince for the common apple. The fragrance turns enchanting and the slightly more acidic tones make the usually-too-sweet cakes more balanced in the flavour.

    Regarding eating healthy, we are in a multi-decade-long war on food. An acquintance of mine, the cardiologist Remko Kuipers, did research on evolutionary biology and measured blood of hunter-gatherers and compared with sedentary modern Europeans, and wrote two excellent books about this (unfortunately only available in Dutch). He explains eloquently that the “convenience-food”-trend is killing us. It is very good for the shareholders of corporations like Unilever and Coca cola. Every generation here gets fatter and sicker.
    I like this infographic, I think you will understand even though the text is in Dutch (scroll down to the middle of the article):
    The orange balls indicate how many 20-year-olds who eat daily heart medicine. It has gone 20x in 30 years. Madness.

    For many reasons, not only for physical health, I try to eat (and serve the rest of the family) fresh greens every day of the year, and at least every second day I eat some home made kimchi or other fermented vegetables or drink, to restock the gut-fauna.
    We have mild frosts, so not much grow in the winter, but several plants keep well “on the stem”. Elliot Coleman’s 4-season harvest has been a great guide to plan for year-around harvest. Today I picked arugula salad, swiss chard and savoy cabbage, all of which I seeded in august and early september. I also grow some unusual winter-vegetables like “Alexanders”.

    I had to look up the English name on Wikipedia and there I found this beautiful sentence: “Alexanders is native to continental Europe and has long been naturalised in Britain and Ireland where it is widely dispersed and – in addition to other disturbed habitats – commonly found on the sites of medieval monastery gardens as a persistent relic of former cultivation.”
    This indestructible plant keeps on growing, centuries after the demise of monasteries, producing great food during the winter, when most other greens die off, and sadly enough most of the generous foliage goes uneaten these days…

    When the frosts are hard, I cheat with indoor grown microgreens. Today, for example, I have pea-shoots and sunflower-shoots in 1″ flats with soil, coming out next week for Christmas dinner.

    The rest of my family is vegetarian, but I try to slip in some bone marrow once in a while in a soup etc., I also think that a diverse sampling of various animal parts is beneficial for long term health.
    I follow the credo of Michael Pollan: “Eat food. Not too much, mostly plants.” (But I have not dared to venture into his latest domain of psychedelic mushrooms…)

    Wish all of you good health and happy holidays!


  32. Yo, Chris – I finished the personal stories, in the Kunstler book, last night. I’m into the part three. I thought the stories of the baker and the bourbon maker, were really interesting. When he was going on about the corn, for the bourbon, they never mentioned the variety. But, I wondered if it was the Jimmy Red corn, that I grow (well, not last year). The tale of recovering an almost extinct variety, is so similar.

    There were odd times down on Tower Avenue, when there were no cars on the street, no people on the sidewalks, and no one in the bank. It was all very Twilight Zone. Lasted two or three days and didn’t seem to come at any particular time of the month, or year. I often thought, “There’s no money moving around.”

    Well, there’s a container shortage because your hoarding them all in Australia. They’re probably full of toilet paper 🙂 . You may remember a story I told, early on, about when I was commuting to Olympia. There were miles and miles of rolling stock (box cars) on sidings. It was because of some economic slowdown. Not 2008, but something earlier.

    Really? No box fans (or, not many) in Australia? They’re pretty ubiquitous, here. I only have one small one (10″ x 10″) now. It’s ideal for sliding open the window a bit, and blowing cooler air into the apartment. But, I’ve had some real monsters, in the past.

    I watched the Arthur film, last night. As you have not seen it, I’ll just say, “not bad.” There are many versions of the Arthur story, and this is just one of them.

    H doesn’t have problems with butt mats, but that’s because when I trim her up, I always make sure that everything “back there” is trimmed up, short. I’m forbidden, on pain of death, from touching her tail. But, she keeps it flying, like a flag, so that’s no problem. Trimming up her nether regions, is the last thing I do, before tossing her in the tub. I always tell here, “This embarrasses me, as much as it does you.” 🙂 I don’t know what’s up with her. She’s been quirky, weird, the last couple of days. Just little things, but out of character. This morning, we walked down the hall (as we do, three times a day). I opened the door to the stairwell and she didn’t want to go through the doorway. Why? Got me. Omens?

    I’m glad the homeless dude, showed up again. I know you were concerned. Any clue as to where he was for a year? Surf bumming on some beach? Taking care of a sick relative? Some mysteries, will remain mysteries.

    Back in the late 1970’s, Portland had a mayor named Neil Goldschmidt. He was very forward thinking about transit. Several of the downtown streets were made alternating one way. A few were closed to cars, except for trollies and buses. They became pedestrian malls. Light rail began to be constructed, out to the hinterlands. It was a grand master plan, and it came into being, and works quit well. He was later tapped to be President Carter’s cabinet member, in charge of transportation.

    That was an interesting article, about the Australian boot company. Re-localization? Not a bad thing.

    Go, ginger tubers! Any plans for turmeric? You know, in your spare time 🙂 .

    Stuff I saw that may, or may not be interesting.

    About time? Ya think?

    Little Greta is in New Zealand, being sour and grumpy. It’s been discovered, that under some conditions, Tasmanian Devils are bioluminescent. An Israeli company (Firmnetafilm) has developed a method of watering rice, by drip irrigation, so fields don’t need to be flooded. Lew

  33. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, I liked those stories too. Especially as the baker was coming to terms with the equipment – I get how that played out as it is the exact same with equipment here in that you just don’t know how things will work, whether they are easily repaired, and then ultimately how long will they last? These are more complicated questions than they may first appear to be. And the distiller bloke was considering vertical integration – that’s the fancy business description. Both folks were taking it back to basics.

    It’s not a bad strategy really. Like, when things aren’t working, it is not a bad idea to cast your mind back to when they actually were more functional and then ask whether that feat can be repeated and what is necessary to do so? If it is even possible – and that may be a big call in itself.

    Yeah, exactly, no money floating and moving around sure does sound like what a recession or depression looks like. Of course an alternative theory would be that the demographics of the town changed and job opportunities were suddenly further afield. Commuting towns can be strange places and super quiet during the day.

    Hehe! Sounds about right – and of course they’d be full of toilet paper. The container shortage story sounds very strange and unlikely to me. Like shutting down major cities in the land of stuff wouldn’t produce some crazy shortages – and we’ve all become over reliant on the stuff. I guess some news would be hard to take, like the flow of stuff is drying up, and thus the joy at discovering a narrative – any narrative – which suggests that things could be back to normal in no time at all. I’ll bet the fine citizens of Rome thought the same as they let Alaric I into the gates? This bloke seems to know what he’s doing and he can sweep away the detritus of slothdom that is bogging everything down and hopefully the bread and circuses can kick off again? And I note that Rome fell to famine way before it fell to the sword.

    I’ve heard that the sheer number of trucks on US roads is quite astounding to see. A lot of stuff still moves down here via ship and train, as would happen in your country too. But trucks dominate. Makes me wonder where all that diesel is coming from to run them all? Our local sources are only a tiny fraction of what is used.

    Tomorrow night the plan is to watch the Arthur film, until then… 🙂

    to be continued…


  34. Hi Lewis (cont)…

    Box fans aren’t really seen here, but they are remarkably similar to the small electric fan heaters which use an exorbitant amount of electricity. Had a flat mate once who ran theirs 24/7 during winter and the bills were phenomenal.

    Pedestal fans are a thing down here, and I’ve seen them in old school movies from your country. One notable occurrence was a home made swamp cooler which electrocuted its maker.

    Out of curiosity, do you have a favourite among the many Arthur films, and would you be willing to name the film?

    Butt matt’s. 🙂 Yup says it all and Sir Poopy made regular visits to the dog groomer. I made friends this morning with a white Swedish Lapphund and its smaller Pomeranian mate – also white. Had a bit of a scratch in the deep fur (it was a hot day here too today) and felt a few matt’s. That’s how it goes. Dunno why, but I don’t have to bathe the dogs and they smell very neutral – not sure why that is. And they never get fleas, although if they poke their noses into places in the forest where they shouldn’t, they pick up ticks. Pesky things ticks.

    Makes you wonder what is going on in H’s world? Dogs are sensitive to smells, so I’d take note and if she says avoid the area, avoid the area. You never know what illnesses dogs can smell. Dogs have been known to detect skin tumors in their owners, so I’m always watching to see what the dogs are interested in. Of course sometimes it is a juicy wombat scat, and then I clear them off it, but dogs…

    Exactly, light rail street cars are awesome to use and heaps cheaper to run than a full on dedicated rail service. The tram network in the big smoke is huge and easy to use – if you can work out the ticketing system, which would be very hard for people from out of town. But it’s easy to get around once you figure out the ticketing system which uses prepaid and topped up smart cards.

    The more manufacturing which comes back here, the more resilient we’ll be. It really is that simple. From history, I recall that the UK off shored a lot of its manufacturing to the colonies before WWI – and how did that work out for them?

    The ginger is amazing as I’ve never had a tuber sprout before. And also interestingly the sugar canes are enjoying the extra heat in the greenhouse and the buds are getting larger and roots seem to be appearing. The pith on the sugar cane is really sweet.

    The news is good on that real estate front. On the other hand it opens up opportunities for those who can stand to live with some risk. And you know, over time those areas will lose their tax base and they won’t be able to enforce building codes, it takes tax revenue to do that, and then people can start constructing their own dwellings based on local materials whilst adapting them to local conditions – because they ultimately bear the risk. Insurance is going to be a real problem. The houses won’t look like they do today though. The home in the middle of the flood waters is in the photo in the article is possibly not a good choice given the local conditions…

    There is a big cyclone approaching Fiji. And there are some reports that up north they’ll get a big one this year too. Already some places up there in the tropical north of the continent are getting pounded by heavy rain.

    I look into Greta’s eyes and I see anger. As a personal general rule, I avoid angry people. Anger can only take a person so far and they need to develop other tools in their mental tool-kits. As far as politicians go Jacinda Ardern seems pretty nice, I mean her husband wore a woollen jumper purchased from an op shop. How cool is that and how many politicians have that sort of sensibility?

    Hey, on the other hand I do like how all timelines have been pushed out to 2050. It is an impressive act of belief. And declarations of climate emergency sounds like whistling in the wind. And all the while in the background, things err, dare I say it – progress.



  35. @Inge
    We tried too pick names that weren’t too common at least at the time. I don’t personally know any other Carlas. Cecily was quite uncommon when she was born in 1974 but then a major character on the long running soap opera, “All My Children” was Cecily so of course more Cecilys popped up.

    Our extended family repeats many names. I’m Margaret Mary as is my cousin and both of my grandmothers as well as one great grandmother. There are three Marys, two Noras, two Michaels, two Thomas’s, three Kathleens, two Martins and two Jennifers. My niece, Katie’s (one of the Kathleens) brother is Matt and she married a Matt. My cousin Katie is also married to a Matt. This results in some confusion from time to time.


  36. Hi Chris,
    I manage to keep high quality shoes for quite some time and by the time they are wearing out my feet have increased in size, yet again.

    Ruth is Carla’s dog though I certainly don’t expect you to keep my family members straight. She is actually walked about four miles a day in several walks and has plenty of things to chew on as she has in reality taken the place of a child in that household. She has a lot of terrier in her so is just a high energy dog. In the city play dates are actually arranged for dogs as well as children. Leo and Salve tolerate Ruth as she’s a bit much for them being much older. Each time she comes for a visit they get along better.

    As far as dealing with shortages we’re just keeping more of an inventory of items we anticipate we’ll need in the future which isn’t a bad practice anyway.

    Enjoy your visit to the pub. This is not something available to us and even when it was on a limited basis this summer as members of a higher risk group we tended to avoid them.


  37. Yo, Chris – I also noticed the distiller bloke banged on a bit about “value added.” Doing something that costs the manufacturer, little or no extra cost, but is perceived by the buyer, as getting a bit extra. The Cajuns down in Louisiana have a word for it. “Lagniappe.” I also found it interesting about the farm census. Which I had never heard of. That the distiller discovered his operation, pretty much mirrors the farm in the same place, 150 years ago.

    Oddly enough, I started reading a new books last night (before more of the Kunstler), called “Fixation: How to Have Stuff Without Breaking the Planet.” (Goldmark). The author and her husband, with friends and students, started throwing repair workshops. In cheap store fronts and at farmer’s markets. Sometime, for a month at a time. Borrowing a bit from Michael Pollan, she’s developed a bit of a simple philosophy. “Have Good Stuff (Not Too Much), Mostly Reclaimed. Care for It. Pass It On.”

    She told an interesting story, about an insight she had (via, a talk by an archaeologist.) OK. What separates us from the animals? Tool use. What’s the simplest tool? A rock. But some animals also use rocks, too. What’s the difference. Well, if an ancient human found a good rock, for pounding seed or smashing bones to get the marrow out, instead of casting it aside, and hoping for another good rock to come along, at the right time, the ancient human drops it in their pouch. Hence, the invention of “stuff.” 🙂 .

    Also, I spotted an article (in our local newspaper, no less) about recycling wind generator blades.

    But I wondered about the energy use, along the way. The energy to haul the blades to Missouri, the energy to shred the blades (that must be some chipper) and the energy to haul the material to a cement plant. Seems it might be more energy efficient, to just bury the blade, to make a nice berm for water retention? But then I wondered about the chemicals, leaching out and getting into the ground water. There’s enough of that, going on.

    Well, I certainly see many trucks, zipping both directions along the freeway, from my perch. They certainly make freeway driving … interesting. Especially when it rains, and they throw up giant sheets of water.

    Oh, we have a lot of pedestal fans. I think Eleanor has three of them. She’s constantly tinkering with placement, to get optimal air circulation. Well, everyone needs a hobby. But, I know what you mean about the old fans. Some of them are really striking. The design. I had a nice one from the 30’s that I used in my shop. Had it perched on the top of a book case, to circulate warm air from the ceiling, down where it was useful. When I closed up shop, I gave it to a fellow who collected old fans 🙂 .

    Favorite Arthur film? “Camelot.” 🙂 .

    H never seems to have fleas. Probably because I wash her in Dawn dishwashing soap. Doesn’t bother her skin and kills the critters. That stuff is also recommended for the garden. I’ve used it, and it does do wonders.

    Who knows what goes on in H’s head? Her command of the English language, is pretty good, but complex concepts, seem beyond her. Sometimes, she has long muttering conversations, and probably thinks we’re pretty stupid, because we can’t seem to follow what she’s getting at. Sometimes (on both sides), it’s like playing charades.

    The Portland transit system (and, maybe Seattle) is interesting as within the boundaries of the Central Business District (the CBD), rides are free. “Fare Free Zone.” So, in the downtown, if you have a journey of five or six blocks, you just hop on and off.

    I’ve had ginger, sitting a bit to long in a plastic sack, sprout on the counter. With no help from me. Other than neglect. 🙂 . It’s own little greenhouse, I suppose.

    Well, we’ve had 6″ of rain, in the last 72 hours. The whole of western Washington, and most of western Oregon, is lit up green on the National Weather Service map. Which means possible flooding. We should know more, by the weekend. An atmospheric river. But the temperatures, day and night, are a steady mid 40’sF.

    Well, here’s something interesting from The Wonderful World of Archaeology.

    Wow. Silk, all the way from China to Roman Britain. Useful, but probably not as tasty as tea and oranges. 🙂 .

    Saw an article, “Kangaroos Can Ask Humans for Help.” Looks more like a wallaby, to me.

    Greta continues to be grumpy in New Zealand.

    Magic Food Boxes, come, tomorrow. Lew

  38. Hey Chris,

    Glad to hear the book is having the desired effect. Maybe for fun I should put a warning on the front: “The author will not be held liable for any injury, damage or loss of social standing caused by the reading of this book.”

    People buying in the bush without knowing the story is a real thing. A guy I used to know’s father died in the Black Saturday fires. They had a place in the bush and he just decided to take a day trip to the property that day. It apparently didn’t even occur to him to check the weather forecast/warnings.

    I don’t mind working with limits. But now that I’m back to corporate life again it just amazes me how slow things move and how many trivial distractions there are that prevent anything getting done. I can’t remember who said it, but the line went something like “a taste of freedom can make you unemployable.”

  39. Hi Chris,
    The holiday is moving right along! The idea of “solar powered outdoor lighting” is an oxymoron as applied to the Mid Columbia Basin. No Sun!. The system for my daughters family was turned over last night for use. The sunlight deficient panels are connected in parallel with an unregulated 1 amp supply (wall Wart) plunged in to the house which will charge the storage gel cell powering the very low powered light strings which are very efficient . A good lesson for the son in law that might rub off on the kids. I already learned from my friends down under about the winter dark. I over estimated the weather for the time of year. It’s still been fun for me. I love to build things and have built up a good supply of resources to to so.
    Next I get to setup the 12 volt 16 Ah LiFe PO4 battery and 20 amp PWM charge controller which has that very popular chemistry capability in its set up menu. My fully adjustable power supply will play Mister Sun. ??


  40. Chris,
    The Supply Chain vs Shipping Container shortage story line.

    At various times in the past large quantities of containers would stack up in west coast ports. The price of new condition boxes dropped into the realm of what junkers sold for. The story was that the demand and shipment for US goods affected the return of empty containers to the eastern source countries. It would seem to me that the shipping of empties involves considerable costs for someone in the markets. I have always thought that offshoring industry doesn’t lead to fields full of rainbow farting unicorns for the enjoyment of the inhabitants of the offshoring lands.

    Anything Goes and Nothing Matters

  41. Hi Pam,

    It’s good to be back! 🙂 Your comments often arrive just as I switch off the computer and head off to bed.

    Just for your info: The pub was good and we sat outside drinking apple cider and also an intriguing drink called ‘lime sour’ which was actually sour with coconut and lime overtones, but very nice. At one point the clouds delivered a little bit of drizzle, but we’re made of tough stuff and just kept on eating and drinking regardless. Phooey to drizzle!

    You know, of all the things that I’d imagine that we’d discuss on the blog, Bootleg Manure was not one of those. 🙂 What a character and story! I recall that city people uninvolved with anything at all to do with the soil way back in the day longed for the automobile because their delicate sensibilities were rattled by the awful sight and aroma of horse poop on the road. As a side observation, the carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides produced by automobiles probably hasn’t worked out that crash hot. But back to horse poop, it was something that horses just do, but it was also a resource that would not have gone to waste.

    I salute Earl’s style, flexible morals and general panache! 🙂

    Far out, and total respect. Your own foundry. Nice work. I have this vague inkling that the skills learned by your son in that area may be a solid bargaining chip for you all in the distant future. One of the things which became obvious in the ‘World made by hand’ series of books penned by Mr Kunstler, was that artists found gainful employment when high technology became redundant.

    Peter was a really lovely bloke and at times he allowed me the use of his workshop and tools and I am forever grateful for his assistance.

    Ah, mizuna mustard is certainly a cold hardy variety and that plant volunteers here.

    The green mustard I grow has some serious bite! Cleared out the bed of green mustard’s today as we’d saved seed. Put all of the stalks through the electric chipper and hopefully plants will turn up later when they are good and ready. The big scary old petrol wood chipper was then also used for about six hours today. My brain now hurts but this is to be expected as although this afternoon was cold, the sun had authority.

    Thanks and I have never seen a ginger flower and am looking forward to making its acquaintance. There is a Japanese ginger plant which might do OK in a cool temperate environment – and it is the flowers which are edible. I’ve been wondering about that plant – but there is always a lot to do and time is precious.



  42. Hi DJ,

    Very funny, and your words remind me of a catchy little advertising ditty, but no, it was a song about bikinis. 🙂 Very catchy, and now I am having to listen to UK band ‘The Wombats’ to get the catchy ditty out of my mind. Why a UK band would have the name of an Australian marsupial – who I see all of the time – is a true mystery. Some mysteries are meant to be left unsolved.

    It ain’t just you who is busy. I’m suffering from the – this must be completed before Christmas demand. Alas, it is my awful duty to deliver unhappy news…

    That makes sense, but as a comparison I’ve always been deeply rooted in the practical day to day matters, and the theory and anxiety about the future is something that afflicts others. But having said that, I have to remind myself to stick with the hands on side of things. The main issue with that is that being hands on limits a person socially in that as things now stand this response is viewed as a low status option. And I have no idea why it should be, but there it is all the same. Your lady is wise, listen to her. 🙂

    And should I be worried that we have settled on 42 solar panels as that gives the best middle ground response?

    Exactly, my brain is not wired to do politics in any meaningful or successful way – as might be the case with your good self. 😉 It is an awful thing to sometimes blurt out the truth as you see it. And I’ve upset some board meetings in my time… Chagrin may be the appropriate word? People get rather uncomfortable with such news and then they relegate you to the sidelines because they’d rather hear other more blissful news.

    I’m genuinely surprised to see how easily folks are giving up their civil liberties. But whatever, I can adapt and outside the catchment freedom is increasing due to the difficulty of reach. Always has that been the outcome.

    Good to hear that your hand is healing nicely. I used chippers (electric and petrol) for about six or seven hours today and was grateful to finish the day with all of my digits intact. A mistake with either machine would be unpleasant…

    Sorry to say, but adaption is the best approach for now. Who knows what the future holds in store for us?

    DJ, no! I must be firm in this regard, as Moby Rocks are really difficult and immovable objects that need the utmost respect. Who knows what wombat god put the rock there just to stick it to me at this inopportune moment?

    The fluffy collective were run around all day long today. As a consequence they are now soundly asleep. The sheep dogs in particular require a lot of exercise.

    Al is conducting experiments with your intriguing sun at the latitude where you live. Winter sun is not good here, it could not fare better in your part of the world, could it?

    At least you didn’t end up with the: Chrysler Valiant Charger. At one time it was the fastest accelerating vehicle in the country. A true beast of a machine – and possibly not much good in the snow either.



  43. Hi Inge,

    Yup, I agree. A shortage of containers may mean that they are in abundance in one part of the world, and in a shortage in another part of the world.

    Globalism was always not going to end well. What did people expect?

    I hope that your daughter up north of here is doing OK? They have had some serious rain up there.

    Down here it is cool and sort of dry.



  44. Hi Goran,

    Your quince secret is safe with me too, although we have kind of splashed the news all across the interweb! But whatever, they are a great fruit.

    Thanks for the link and no translation was necessary as the graphs told the story. Mate, I dunno I worked outside in the summer sun today for about six or seven hours just feeding organic stuff into a chipper. Spending too much time being sedentary and out of the sun and in the fresh air is a real health problem. It’s not going to end well.

    Exactly, fresh greens, and where they are not possible, fermented vegetables is a great idea to include in a diet. People have some strange ideas about food, and I just nod my head and respond by saying: yeah. But few people eat a lot of fresh greens or fermented vegetables and that is not good.

    Good stuff! And yes, we all have to be realistic about the sort of climates that we live in. Arugula is a favourite leafy green of mine. Yum!

    I’ve never seen the plant Alexanders, but I see that it is used as a replacement for celery – which frankly is a very difficult plant to grow. I use Lovage for that flavour and it is super reliable. Indestructible edible plants are the very best of them all! 🙂

    Exactly, I’ve told people who live in apartments to grow microgreens and / or sprouts. How hard could that be? Respect to you.

    Haven’t come across Michael Pollan’s forays into the world of psychedelia, but his take on food is a beautiful middle path and it resonates with me. I have heard news reports that psychedelic mushrooms are being used with terminal patients to good effect.



  45. Hi Margaret,

    Ouch, and yes that would be difficult with quality shoes. The leather work boots take a bit of wearing in for the leather to become supple and fit my foot properly. Shoes were always like that back in the day. As a kid I recall that the shoe shop would actually measure your foot length and width and then they measured the arch. It was a very complicated but quick process, and shoes came in all sorts of sizes. Nowadays I believe they just cut to length and not width or arch. Not good.

    Apologies, my brain is nearing 100% utilisation and so slips can occur… Ook. Your daughters have lovely names. Far out! Four miles a day is way more than the fluffies get on their ‘official’ walks as a pack. Hey, that is good for their health as well as the dog.

    High energy dogs can be a handful but you know, they give their energies to the older dogs, and Ollie sure perked up Mr Toothy when he first arrived on the scene. Ollie is pretty relaxed nowadays, but Ruby is the highest energy so she gets twice as much running around time as the other two. And they ran around all day long today and are now all out for the count. 🙂

    I was on the electric and petrol chippers for about six or seven hours today in the sun and am now feeling it…

    I trialled feeding in the vegetables to the chipper and then using the results as mulch. I’ve noticed recently that the vegetable beds which are mulched that the plants are growing faster – even when Eucalyptus mulch is used.

    We’re doing the same too with keeping more inventories. I’m really unsure where all of this is going.

    The pub was very nice, and we sat outside and enjoyed drinks and feed. It is nice to see things getting more or less back to some sort of normality, although unfortunately the state to the north of here has had some sort of drama and is now been ostracized. This I expect will go on for a very long while due to the sheer investment in the narrative. It’s not good.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    An unhealthy dinner was calling my name this evening. Made a pancake from spelt flour and then fried up two eggs – leaving the yolks runny, and then cut a small section of the pancake off and slathered it in raspberry jam. So good! I spent somewhere between about six and seven hours just feeding organic matter into the scary old wood chipper and yeah, me tired. The fluffies ran around the farm too for most of the day and they are tired too, although I relented and gave them a small section of pancake each with raspberry jam and they might be getting a bit of a sugar rush too. They have gone from sleepy to agitated…

    Nobody does Lagniappe down here in the sense of the meaning of the original word. Although I scored some extra soles for my latest work boot purchase and am feeling unnaturally good feelings for the seller. I see that Mark Twain commented upon the most excellent word. The distiller is correct too. The raw product is sold for very little, but if the product can be imbued with untold extra goodness, well it is worth far more. As someone who lives in a country once famously described by a prime muppet as a ‘banana republic’, well I reckon the distiller is onto something.

    Sadly I may not get to watch the film tonight. Plans have gone astray. I worked much later than my darkest dreams imagined possible (it was an epic job), and then I phoned a mate who has been doing it hard since my old mate Mike died. The oak tree which was planted in memory of Mike was mentioned – as was the story. I’d been lax in making that call, and am catching up with all of the various people who I should have phoned long before I actually do just that. It is hard to find the hours in the day to do what needs doing. Hang on, maybe the hours fell behind the couch? Hmm. Nope, they’re not there.

    A mate of mine worked in a repair cafe for a while and he was amazed at the sheer number of items brought in to be fixed. And also how simple some of the fixes were. Incidentally I really liked the clever play on the sensible words of Michael Pollan! 🙂

    And hey, the pouch with which to store the rock is also a tool / technology. But yeah, the invention of ‘stuff’ sounds plausible to my mind.

    That’s nice about chipping up the wind turbine blades and adding them to cement mix. Have you ever seen one of those car chippers in action? Far out – don’t get your fingers caught in one of them! The article seemed rather sure of the future, but I did some rough math and worked out that to get from here 7%, to 100%, you might need about 800,000 turbines. That sure sounds like a lot, but someone can probably correct my math there. Whatever the case may be, that sure is one heck of a lot of turbines, and I do wonder if the resources, like rare earth minerals are even there to do that awesome task. And exactly, there is a lot of poisoning of the planet without adding to that dreadful state of affairs. And then in two decades time, or less we have to reproduce the entire system all over again.

    And what happens if people chuck more electric vehicles on the grid? Me thinks that 800,000 turbines won’t be enough, but what the heck would it even look like? Bonkers. My brain is recoiling from the frightful prospect of a world full of that many 300ft wind turbines.

    Try being on a motorbike and getting splashed by those truck geysers. Down here the wind is a problem with the large trucks and their dog trailers. You can get buffeted around overtaking one of those behemoths – but if they weren’t on the road there’d be less stuff. It’s complicated.

    The state to the north of here has had an outbreak and is now being isolated. I’m pretty certain some peoples Christmas plans have now been thrown into disarray.

    Eleanor is clearly sensitive to the movement of air. 🙂 Best not pass wind in her presence. This is of course only a gentlemanly act not to do so.

    What someone collects old fans? Are you pulling my leg and kidding me around? But you have previously also mentioned that there is a collector for all manner of things. But the older pedestal fans have a certain sort of Art Deco finish to them. And they work too. The motors would be very long in the tooth now, although not hard to repair.

    Thank you and that is a good retelling of the tale. I may have to do something about that, although the word ‘musical’ was noted, but exceptions can and nay sometimes must be made. 😉

    Never heard of Dawn dish washing soap either. Interesting that it does not bother H’s skin. Nowadays I use our own olive oil soap as dish washing detergents give me contact dermatitis. A very unpleasant skin condition, so it is no hardship to make our own soaps.

    Who can possibly forget the game charades? The three of you (your good self, Eleanor and H) are probably skilled practitioners. I’m hopeless at that game: What are you doing? Flapping your arms like a bird? No. What is it then? What’s that now? Don’t stick your fingers up at me, are you giving me the bird? And so it goes on, it would be far easier if the game was abandoned and they just told me rather than all that unnecessary flapping around of arms and miming and stuff.

    That is interesting about the free ride zone in the CBD. Did you know that the exact same policy is in place down here with the trams? Nice if you live in the city.

    Actually neglect is not a bad name at all for a greenhouse building! I’ve never grown ginger before, so have no idea. Good to hear that the plants are hardy if neglect can get them to do their thing.

    Oh my gawd! 6″ of rain in such a short period of time is horrendous. Stay safe and keep off flooded bridges and causeways.

    The find is amazing. And to have thought that in or around 360 AD Chinese silk with 97% pure gold thread could have ended up in the far western end of the Roman Empire. It’s quite an astonishing find. There were hints of an unparalleled patterned glass find, although there were no photos.

    What a mob of Kangaroos. Did you notice the huge bull in the centre of the mob?

    Oh no! I see that Greta maybe trash talking our New Zealand friends. That is not nice at all. You have to be careful of people who trash talk others if only because you never know when they may trash talk you next. The inference being that in the past it was deemed acceptable behaviour.

    Who knows what delights are in the magic food boxes?



  47. Hi Simon,

    Hehe! Yes, the editor has been having fun at the local cafe with your book. When I’m away from the table and ordering food and coffee (hmm, coffee is good), she leaves the book with the front cover art facing upwards. I’m pretty certain the local notables may have taken note, for that is what notables do they note things, and judgements may have been made. 🙂 I just own such things and act all cool and stuff.

    Actually, if I were you, I’d personally be worrying about the denizens of the fine suburb of Collingwood coming to get you – just sayin!

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your former mates father in the Black Saturday bushfires. Not good. And I heard stories of people astounded that things could have gotten so bad that day: I was building a chook shed and then all of a sudden… I actually heard that said in an interview. I was in the CFA at the time, although had only been a member for a month or two. People said they weren’t warned, but the news leading up to that day was full of warnings. Dunno. Can’t say that things have improved since those days, although the Vic Emergency website is actually pretty good.

    Far out! That’s a great saying. Good luck, you’ll be fine. Give it a few months and who knows, you might like it. Anyway, that’s what they told me as a kid when I had to go to the more English than the English grammar school after having spent two years of high school in a hippy dippy school. I reckon they were lying to me.



  48. Hi Al,

    Thank you very much for a lucid possible explanation in relation shipping containers. So there may be plenty of shipping containers lurking around the globe – they just might not be evenly distributed. A bit like decline and standard of living really.

    Offshoring does work for a while, and then risks build up behind the cheap fun unicorn farting phase. The risks get bigger. Then they get biggerer (which you may note is bigger than bigger). Then after a while reliance can be used to threaten and cajole – a very unpleasant and ungentlemanly act, but all the same, the world is not a nice place.

    Mate, I’m so glad that you undertook the solar light experiment. It’s not good is it? And for three weeks either side of the winter solstice I can hope for one hour of peak sunlight per day, sometimes more, sometimes less. And sometimes it’s a lot more, but other times it is whole lot less – as you are discovering.

    Good stuff. Your sealed lead acid battery is fine with trickle charging, but as a word of advice just keep an eye on the PWM charger to ensure that once the LiFePO4 battery is full it isn’t trickle charged. They don’t like that. Also I found that the battery chemistries for these batteries varies a bit and they each demand different charging regimes so watch for voltage jumping around. That’s when the PWM charger and the BMS inside the battery are fighting each other for supremacy. Given your voltage is variable, I’d just back it off slightly and watch and observe until the battery voltage become stable.

    I dunno how long the LiFePO4 battery will last, but at the moment I am actually impressed with them and they will make a difference for you too when the sun does eventually shine again.



  49. @ Margaret
    I can certainly see the potential confusion amongst so many similar names. At one time people were given the name of another family member. I don’t use my first name as it is the same as my mother’s was. We had identical names until I got married.
    Carla has become extremely common here, I don’t know why. In fact I know another one locally.


    Hello Chris
    Son spotted something extraordinary when looking out of my window. A jay was burying an acorn, that is normal; but then the bird collected leaves and packed them in on top! We sure underestimate other living creatures.
    I haven’t heard from Northern daughter recently so don’t know how she is getting on.


  50. Chris,

    Putting catchy tunes in peoples’ heads is one of the many free services I provide. Notice that my free service also gave you the motivation to listen to the Wombats. Which makes no sense that Wombats is a British band, but who are we to quibble with them? They make money singing and banding, we are mere peasants who must work. 😉

    I’ve long been the bearer of unhappy tidings on my job. My immediate supervisor, the one who retired 3 years ago, never gave bad news to people. Not him, he was a Nice Guy. So he always assigned the relating of bad news to me. Nice Guy, my left elbow. 🙂

    Hands on work has been considered lower status for some time, from my point of view. Yet, without the hands on jobs, where would we be?

    42 is the default balanced position for most things. Toilet paper rolls, number of solar panels, why did a British band call itself Wombats, what would’ve happened if William the Conqueror had lost at Hastings, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin, etc. The usefulness of 42 is amazing.

    Precisely, my brain is not wired for politics. I’ve learned “The 42 Moments at the Job Where Silence is Golden”, but that doesn’t mean that I’m wired for politics. It just means that I choose when and how to say things perhaps a bit more wisely than I once did. Yet, I still find myself banished to the sidelines. Which is fine with me at this point. When on the sidelines, one is seldom in the crosshairs.

    The entire lack of balance with the unmentionable responses and reactions is disconcerting. I’m fortunate in that the Princess and I are both relatively happy staying at home, mostly. Although going to the local tavern for a meal and some of their awesome “Pike Kilt Lifter Scotch Ale” sounds really good today. Alas, alcohol take out is not allowed.

    It is always good to be extremely careful with a side serving of supreme carefulness when using the chippers. We don’t need to read a blurb from “7 fingered Chris who added bits of human protein to his mulch”. That would not be good reading at all, and would be entirely unhealthy for your fingers.

    Adaptation is an interesting thing. We constantly adapt, or need to. But we don’t notice it so much when times and events are “good”. We only notice it, if we notice it at all, when times are “bad” or “challenging”. There’s a value judgement in there, and the moment we say that such an event is “bad”, it makes adapting to the changing situation that much harder. But humans are animals, after all, and animals like their routines. I’m sure you’ve seen how quickly the Fluffy Collective gets surly when the routine is changed and/or ignored. I’m trying to learn how to do what needs to be done and leave the thinking and conclusions for after. Hard to do. I like my routines.

    We are somewhat further from the equator than you are, so the winter sun is even more fickle here. Al is 46 degrees north plus a bit. I’m at about 47.5 degrees north. But solar is interesting. When I had to move some snow Friday and Saturday, it was below freezing, maybe -1C, and cloudy. There was a thin layer of ice on the sidewalks and driveway after removing the snow. Yet there was just enough solar radiation even through the clouds that the ice was gone within 90 minutes. Yet that amount of solar coming through wouldn’t have done a single thing to provide electricity through solar panels, even if they didn’t have a blanket of snow on them.

    For comparison, Melbourne is about as far south of the equator as San Francisco is north.

    The Chrysler Valiant Charger was an interesting car, yes? A friend in high school had a Chevy Nova, which was similar. Had a lot of zip to it, but was not very practical in our winters.

    Now the first thing I thought of when I saw “Chrysler Valiant Charger” was: Despite impossible odds, Lord Chrysler, astride his Valiant Charger, led an attack on the numerically superior invading army. Although the venture was doomed, it did allow his king to escape to fight again another day, Lord Chrysler’s heroics gaining him an epic poem in his honor to commemorate the event and the life that he gave for his liege.


  51. Yo, Chris – Here, it’s the 18th. The second day of Saturnalia. It’s also the festival of Epona, the Celtic horse goddess. Hmmm. Interesting. She was one of the few Celtic gods, whose worship spread, empire wide. It’s speculated that she spread, as the Celtic Roman auxiliary calvary, took her along for the ride. 🙂 . Me, I’m looking forward to the 23d. Festivus (for the rest of us.) I’m already working on my list, for the “airing of grievances.”

    Runny egg yokes are a crime against humanity. And maybe, chickens. Nasty texture. I want my eggs over hard, scrambled, in an omelet, or boiled. Nothing moving.

    Oh, you’ll get around to the movie. Self care, and care for others, takes priority. As it should.

    The folks running the repair cafes discovered something interesting. Many people wanted their items repaired, even when the repair cost twice as much as just getting on The River in South America, and ordering a different one. They did a bit of a survey, wondering if it was some kind of “save the planet” impulse. Nope. Not usually. People were fond of their stuff, when it worked, and just didn’t want to let go of “their” stuff. And I wonder if maybe there isn’t some anxiety over, “Will it be the same?”. Or will it have some N*E*W improved feature, that just complicates things?

    The thing I noticed about the article on wind generator recycling is that GE (General Electric?) Renewable Energy thinks it’s great. If I remember correctly, that company is pretty adept at green washing. But, of course your right. No amount of renewables is going to be able to maintain our civilization at present levels. Period.

    Yup. The guy collected (and restored) old electric fans. So, at least, there’s one collector out there. If you Gargle “vintage electric fans” and click on images, there’s quit a lot. I like the deco ones, with lots of black enamel paint and brass fittings. E-Buy has over 2,000 on offer. Quit a few are not very expensive,at all.

    Yup. “Camelot” is a musical. All singing, all dancing, cast of thousands, in glorious living Technicolor™. 🙂 . But, in it’s defense I must say, it is one of the last old Broadway musicals, that had some real toe-tapping numbers and the lyrics made sense. The songs move the story along. And, they’re memorable. I can still belt out some of the lyrics, even after all these years.

    I was also disappointed that there were no pictures of the Roman ladies “grave goods.” Ah! Here’s a pretty good picture of the glass vials.

    This is also interesting ….

    I think it’s also interesting that under her head was a pillow stuffed with bay leaves. The long black thing-y in the glass case is probably the jet dauber, for perfume.

    You never know what will turn up where. In the book I’m reading about the world history of magic, there was mention of an Egyptian burial, that had a bronze ornament on the chest. An ornament that was 1,000 years older than the burial, and from Babylon. So, attaching value to old objects (collecting?), even happened in ancient times. Tiberius had quit a collection of fossils, at his villa in Capri. And in Pompeii, there was a marble table that was around 100 years old.

    Well, we got our first round of Magic Food Boxes. The usual mix of canned fruit and veg. Another jar of the organic honey, but I’ve got enough, so, will probably pass that onto the Club. There was a small, frozen smoked ham, but I’ve got enough meat in my freezer (that I’ll probably never get around to eating), so, I passed that along to one of the other Inmates. There was a cardboard canister of corn grits. Gee, I haven’t had that in awhile. So, I kept it. You make it in a loaf pan, put it in the fridge, and then cut off slices to fry up. I understand it’s really good with bacon drippings, so, since I have some of those … Why not? Wonder what will be in the afternoons boxes? Lew

  52. Hi DJ,

    A very astute observation, yes the band did look like they were having lots of fun up there on the stage. Meanwhile today the editor says ‘dig’, so I dug. Can you dig that? Yes, well at least I can dig it and we excavated another four feet of clay from the new shed site. I now know with some certainty that there is another 24 feet of excavations to go and the good news is that the Moby body Rock II is running along on contour.

    By the time 6pm rolled around and after two longs days of hard physical work my brain actually shut down and I fell asleep for a quick nap on the couch. Even Ruby and Plum fighting was not enough to wake me, although Ollie putting his snout in my ear did wake me.

    Really? I note that you were compliant with the always Mr Nice Guy supervisor. Anyone with that sweet deal – especially when it comes to dealing with the public – would no doubt not hassle you in return for you getting hassled by the public. At least that is my best guess as to how things rolled.

    Yes, all true. As was once spoken by Rodney Dangerfield, “the world needs ditch diggers too”.

    Now I’ve heard that story about theologians endlessly arguing about how many angels dance on the head of a pin? Surely they could not have been that bored to have come up with such an odd notion? Or more likely they’d eaten way too many oats with that odd black fungus with the funky side effects? So many questions, so few answers and even the number 42 can’t explain such righteous contention.

    I’m fine with the side lines too. More fun happens in such places. And incidentally as a general observation, you’ve produced a workable navigation for yourself in those circumstances, as distinct from engaging with the topic. I like that approach as one needn’t become entangled in other people’s dramas.

    If the kilt were actually lifted, we’d probably all blush and need a proper ale to recover our sensibilities. What a strange world we live in now. During the epic long lock down, by way of comparison, we were able to get take out, but no dine in. Winter take out was brutal.

    Anyway, one can always easily make their own alcohol supply. Did a bit of that work today.

    Thanks and I appreciate your general concern, as I too feel that it is a good thing to retain all of ones digits. Living on a farm, it is not lost on me that serious accidents can happen in a matter of mere moments. For your interest, as a consequence I’ve developed a slower more methodical approach to work around the farm. Carelessness is not a positive character trait in such a circumstance.

    Given you are close to retiring, you need to get another couple of dogs. Dogs will teach you how to live in the moment, although candidly they are not always careful. There is a weird balance to be found in there somewhere between living for today, and living for the future. I try to do both and it more or less works for me. One of the communication goals in all the current goings on is take peoples minds away from the today side of that story. That alone intrigues me, and it must mean something.

    The past decade has taught me much about that huge fusion reactor in the sky – and I agree with your observations. When I first sallied forth on the solar journey it was with the belief that the sun is in the sky, so yeah. But not so, them photons be slippery little blighters. Nowadays I point people in the direction of plants and suggest that if they ain’t growing, there isn’t much energy in the sun. Sometimes it helps to dumb down the story to an understandable narrative.

    Yes, and Melbourne has a similar climate, although San Francisco looks drier to me. Melbourne benefits (as do I) from the moisture laden winds emanating from Antarctica. Although there are years where they do a no-show and they are troubling experiences.

    Ah yes, there are surprising similarities between the cars produced in the US during those days and the ones produced nowadays. Between you and I, I am uncomfortable that the engineering and technological advancements were used to produce larger vehicles. You may note that I keep such things small, although recognising that this is at a personal disadvantage. The new dirt mouse Suzuki is about 20% lighter than the previous model as it is now about 800kg, and the new engine is smaller at 1.2L displacement. It is zippy enough for us.

    Your valiant steed reference was entirely lost on me.



  53. Hi Lewis,

    Even a brief reading into Saturnalia you can see the origins of Saturn ruling over an age of innocence and abundance which is a story repeated elsewhere. Saturnalia provided a delicious catharsis don’t you reckon? Ah, I note that your book nemesis: Dickens (who else could it be?) perverted the celebration by making it family friendly – and so here we are today. His weights are adding up. Yes.

    A couple of serious movie reviewers took it upon themselves to perform a parody and review the year 2020: Margaret & David Review ‘2020’. It is a very amusing performance. I think it is kind of good that serious people can make fun of themselves. And I believe we may have spoken in the past of serious people doing exactly that role in movies. There was a Sean of the Dead news moment about: “cutting off the head” with the zombies. All good fun – and we can’t be serious all the time, can we?

    An old mate who I have not heard from for years – except when my old mate Mike suddenly died – was born on that exact day. I used to rib him about being ripped off for birthday presents in that people purchased a combined birthday / Christmas present – which they did. I tell ya this: The pain was real. Oh yeah, he got really grumpy with me, but he was such a stirrer himself that he was asking for the stirring. Otherwise I don’t stir up people because they can get upset, but if they can dish it out, that’s a whole ‘nother story.

    Yum yum! Runny egg yolks are good, but I know the chickens involved. The advice from the character played by Bruce Willis in the movie Fast Food Nation comes to the fore when the chickens are unknown: All you have to do is cook the f!@#$ing meat. Good advice, but even then the toxins from salmonella are still present in well cooked eggs. I became rather ill a few years back after consuming some dodgy eggs. The scrambled eggs purchased in the morning tasted a bit odd to me, however by late afternoon I was out for the count and the scrambled eggs were in the worm farm. Yes, when good days suddenly turn really, really bad.

    The chat with my old mate was good, and appreciated. Lewis, I tell ya what, I do what I can and sometimes the demands are great. As events are winding down to Saturnalia or Festivus, well I have had some space open up to get to do things that needed doing.

    We continued the excavations for the new shed site up above the house today. It may surprise you but I enjoy the physical labour and sense of purpose gained from doing such work. Plus we get ideas about how this place should look and function. If we hadn’t done all that work, I doubt that the land would reveal itself to us. Anyway, the excavations progressed another four feet, and at a rough calculation there is another twenty four feet of digging to go. Let’s just say that it ain’t a quick dig! 🙂

    What an interesting perspective. Yeah, comfort in the familiar appliances which would hopefully get repaired, and fear of the unknown should a new appliance be required. That makes sense and it is also an acknowledgement that new is not always perceived to be the better option. I’ve got a food processor from almost a quarter of a century ago and it works just fine. The newer and more powerful device is actually a better machine, but one of the plastic chunks cracked and we had to repair it with serious epoxy resin. So yeah, nobody needs to clarify my thoughts on the matter.

    Incidentally, I enjoyed your comment over at Mr Greer’s! Rings of power are always handy, and I use that excuse myself from time to time. My old mate told me that he was enjoying a keto diet with some sort of 16 hour fasting regime which I didn’t understand but was too polite to inquire into further. The last person I heard on that diet ended up in the throes of divorce, so clearly my gut feeling (please excuse the pun) is not good about that regimen.

    Yeah, I don’t worry too much about such talk. The numbers don’t stack up and I clearly doubt that there are the minerals available to construct hundreds of thousands of gargantuan wind turbines. As a technology, they’re fine, but not on that scale.

    Good for him being able to restore the old fans. Over the years I’ve noticed that there has been a serious decline in the number of stores which offer services repairing complicated electrical appliances. I’ve got an old FM tuner which was one of the best of the best and will delve into that world over the next few months. just waiting for a quieter moment – surely that will happen? Maybe? Blessed are the competent, for they are busy! 🙂

    No need to defend Camelot, and between you and I, I have actually enjoyed musicals. Although I’d appreciate it if you didn’t quote me on that! We went to see a musical theatre presentation at the Comedy Festival two years back now (cancelled last year, and you probably know why). The production was the Aspie hour, which was a production about people with Asperger’s syndrome and an interest in musical theatre, and I really enjoyed it, despite the awkward moment.

    The daily mail hates my interweb protection, but I did a little work around. Fascinating photos. The scallop shell ornamentation is superb workmanship. I note in the article that the remains of a bloke dubbed the ‘last roman’ was also found in the area.

    It is an impressive feat to take a 1,000 year old object into a grave, for it to be preserved and re-discovered a couple of millennia later. Kind of makes you wonder whether the deceased had a premonition?

    Ah, corn grits! I’d read about them in the Gene Logsdon book on grains. Interesting and they’ve been nixtamalised. Never tasted the stuff myself as we eat corn fresh here and then save seeds for next season. Bacon drippings, yummo! Why not indeed.



  54. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to say but your northern daughter is now facing movement restrictions due to the health subject which dares not be named. Crazy days.

    The rainfall and flooding up in that part of the country was severe, but nothing at all like the cyclone which hit the pacific nation of Fiji. The recorded wind speeds were more than I can recall hearing before.

    Thanks for the story of the jay, and I never underestimate our fellow creatures on this fine planet.



  55. Hi Chris
    First, thank you for commenting on the need for vigilance and care with the Lithium Batteries. It is fun putting to real work the really expensive pieces of Hanford government surplus obtained for much less than cost at public Auction. Usually referred to as, “WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING FOR” by the other principal person here.

    Now about working smart and safe in the heat!
    Much of the hands on work in our desert country at Hanford. Is done year round in all weather . An outer layer of clothing offering protection from contacting and depositing radioactive material on or in your body, the clothing is in summer , very hot and fastened with adhesive tape at the wrist and ankles. Surgical gloves and rubber boots on hands and feet. Very uncomfortable and potentially very dangerous.

    One of the means used to mitigate all these issues is to provide small temporary shelters equipped with moderate sized air conditioners and seating and a supply of cool drinking water these are insulated and accommodate from two to several people, they are sometimes on wheels and as light weight for movement as practical. When the workers feel the need they can go in cool down and return to work when refreshed. This equipment could be at a fixed location on your property. Or be movable. Get hot ,cool down , now back to work , you slackers!


  56. @ DJ – Oh, I don’t know. “Chris of the Seven Fingers” sounds like a good Viking name. You’d hear it, and think, “Ah! I bet there’s a tale to be told, there.” 🙂 Lew

  57. Yo, Chris – Thought of another possible reason why shipping containers are disappearing. Tiny houses. And not so tiny houses. Over the last couple of years, I’ve seen several articles on “Clever Things To Do With Shipping Containers.” Garden sheds. Home artists studios or offices, at the bottom of said garden. Bury them in the ground for clandestine mari-hochie growing operations. I don’t know if it’s still there, but for years there was a business, just north of Centralia, that sold used shipping containers. You could see it quit clearly from the freeway.

    Kilt wardrobe malfunctions. There are websites … 🙂 .

    “Baby, Can You Dig Your Man?” (see: Stephen King’s “The Stand.”) “Baby, Can Your Man Dig?” 🙂 .

    Margaret and David are a hoot! Well, if you can’t laugh at yourself …

    Somewhere along the way, I ran into someone whose birthday fell on Christmas. Brother of a high school friend? But his very sensible parents just decided, “We’ll celebrate it on June 25th.”

    Oh, I acquired my antipathy to runny eggs, years before anyone thought to scare people to death, with tales of eggs and salmonella. I find the texture slimy, and the taste … well, just indescribable, and not in a good way. 🙂 . By the way, in one of the food boxes was two 8oz containers of “Whole Milk Fresh Mozzarella in Lightly Salted Water.” But then I noticed the use by date was December 9th. I don’t think I’m giving them, a whirl. The food boxes are more than welcome, and much appreciated. But, you’ve got to watch the expiration dates.

    By this time next week, Christmas will be over. What a relief.

    Oddly enough, I was reading more of “Fixation”, last night, and they were talking about plastic parts. They track successful repairs, and unsuccessful repairs. And the reasons. Broken plastic parts headed the unsuccessful list. There are so many different plastics, and glues, that it’s luck if you hit the right combination. Sometimes replacement parts are available, if your willing to spend a large chunk of time on the phone.

    I’ll keep my thoughts on the Keto diet, to myself. Damo was/is a devotee, and I’d like to keep him as a friend. 🙂 .

    I’ll keep the musical thing, to myself. Send blackmail check to …. 🙂

    I also enjoyed Aspie Hour. If you can’t laugh at yourself … There was a cartoonist, John Callahan (since, passed) who was quadriplegic. He had no patience with the Politically Correct who tip-toed around how to address his situation. Handicapped? Differently Abled? Physically Challenged? Callahan would dead-pan, “I prefer maimed.” That left them gasping 🙂 .

    Corn grits are a bit bland, but you can tart them up and take them out to lunch. Interesting things are done with cheese.

    The afternoon Magic Food Boxes were rather uninspiring. The produce / dairy box was pretty skimpy. A bag of apples (which look quit good), a bag of potatoes and 2 pounds of shredded skim milk mozzarella. And some very sad looking … tangerines? Nope. Very small and sad looking oranges. Whatever they send is quit welcome. But I’m glad I still have some carrots and beets in the ground, and plenty of parsley.

    So far, the atmospheric river has been pretty much of a no show. At least in our corner of the State. Lew

  58. Hi Lewis,

    That’s possible about ‘tiny houses’ and I have nothing but respect for people who can convert a shipping container into a home. The raw material is difficult to work with that’s for sure, but on the plus side they’re sturdy constructions. The building codes are such that they’re not a favoured outcome, but then I suspect the building codes will be slowly wound back – or become unenforceable in the future. There is some serious talk down here about removing some building permits for small (600ft) or less dwellings, but until it is in play, well it’s all just talk. Anyway winding the system back is probably a preferable option which at least maintains some sense of compliance.

    Anyway, the whole permit process system is extraordinarily expensive – and I took the cheapest path possible which involved large amounts of sweat equity. On the flip side, at least the process was quick – at three months each by two permits.

    It is possible that shipping containers are being hoarded somewhere and used as a ready supply of very high grade steel when needed at some future point. That is just a wild guess though, as that is what I would have done by way of a response to escalating geopolitical tensions. The highest grade iron ore is coming out of down under at the moment, and the country of stuff is chomping at the bit to throttle our export trade, but I dunno whether they can stop the flow of iron ore and other minerals from here. It’s possible, but probably unlikely. We’re being made an example of to your good selves, and it is worthwhile noting that as a strategy, the core is best attacked from the periphery.

    Really? Well who knew about the risqué kilt websites. Far out!

    Well, now that you have mentioned Stephen King’s most acclaimed book, it has not yet arrived at the post office. Possibly it won’t make it before the dread deadline which is next week due to some religious outpouring of cheer, joy, and loot! Hey, they’re few lights around this year because um, people have been instructed not to do so.

    Glad you enjoyed the 2020 review. It was pretty funny, and I really loved how they vehemently disagreed with each other. Those two are serious movie reviewers too – of long standing. 🙂

    Those parents of the Christmas birthday baby were awesome with their clever response to the dudded prospect of combined presents. Well, they set those wheels in motion, so now they have to pay the price. The dude may have gone postal otherwise? It’s possible.

    The editor shares your belief in relation to runny eggs. I’m at the other end of that story and well you know already. It’s all good, we eat upon a continuum and only time will tell whether a person’s choices are fluffy optimal, or more likely sub-fluffy optimal. Yes, the journey of life is a bit like many of the projects around here in that I’ll be able to discuss the full extent of the story, at the end of the story, but before then – it’s an open book. Well, that’s my story anyway, and runny eggs are yum yum! But I know the chickens personally, and back in the day when I was groomed to enjoy runny eggs and chickens were not kept in the same conditions that they are kept in nowadays. There are awful times of the year when purchasing eggs becomes a way of life, and at such times I pick from producers who provide the most amount of room and paddock foraging for their hens. Everything else looks a bit like a scene out of ‘Blade Runner’ but substituting chickens for humans and robots.

    Best before dates and Use by dates are a legal response. The thing is, if you step outside that system, you have to understand the production and deterioration process well enough to be able to make a sound judgement. Not many people have that sort of knowledge or skill base these days. It is all part of the larger problem of becoming distanced from the sources of the foodstuffs which keep us all alive. I’m sure the Roman’s missed their daily bread at one point in time, and there was probably much wailing and gnashing of teeth by way of response.

    Yeah, well my mates of the big shed fame have a well known brand of food processor and the thing has plastic gears in the drive head. Of course plastic gears work to save the electric motor from being burnt out due to overload. Except that the two predicaments mean that the machine doesn’t work as you’d expect it too. So they bought a commercial mixing machine, and it’s pretty awesome.

    Damo has been a bit quiet of late because he is now gainfully employed. It’s a long story. An old mate of mine lives not far from Damo and one morning I woke up with the distinct thought that I should connect up my old mate with Damo. Call it a premonition and/or foresight or whatever but the thought was unshakable. But then, and here is the weird thing, later that day I learned that my old mate Mike died, and so my other old mate who was in a photo on the story I wrote about it all, and now lives near to Damo became caught up in assisting with all the complicated matters around the sudden demise. And everything has been complicated by the health subject which dare not be named. And despite it all life goes on, so I have made everything known about introducing the two people, but my old mate wanted some quiet time out to recover – and fair enough. And I need to make phone calls, like not emails and written words but actual phone calls, and I have been swamped of late and am now holding up the whole introduction process but am slowly being less recalcitrant. So there, now you know everything.

    The Aspie hour folks were really sweet, and glad you enjoyed it too. John Callahan would have been able to utter the utterances which need airing but were not fit for polite company. Fortunately us fluffy pirates are not polite company although we do have to skirt around the dreaded social norms. Some of us may have been raised on a diet of British TV with all the unsubtle innuendo and this has given us a leg up.

    You scored well with the magic food box. And I like your style.

    It ain’t just you having to deal with atmospheric rivers. Oh no, not one of those again… Widespread rain headed for the southeast. Pretty awesome huh?



  59. Chris
    A bit more about the condition when cool down areas were used. Temp 75 d f at 9:00 am , 85 d F after 10 am , 1:00 pm on 90 +.
    Work was manual digging and earth moving . Cooled ice water was dispensed from sealed jugs into conical paper cups,
    (Could not set them down. ) heat conditions monitored by health safety tech to determine max work/ break intervals.
    Actually had special hand held thermometers that gave readings taking into account temp, humidity, sun effect s .
    Had an index that was calculated. Called :WET BULB,, GLOBE TEMPERATURE. WBGT. . Was applied into a calculation of how long people could work with out rest periods in shade as minimum. Cool down areas with AC. Really helped.
    Managing work was a challenge ??

  60. Yo, Chris – Interesting. Building permits just came up, here. The Chehalis city council just passed a rule, limiting “congregate housing.” That’s housing where people share dining or bathroom facilities. What set them off is someone applied for a permit to build “aritst-loft” type housing, in the downtown area. Anything pre-existing has been grandfathered in. Dwelling units must be at least 310 square feet, and have bathroom and kitchen facilities. They said they realized that congregate housing was more affordable, but though well managed to begin with, might deteriorate down the road. They wanted to “head off any future trouble.” I’m sure the “right” sort of people will be able to get variances.

    Hmm. As far as hoarding containers to have a ready supply of high grade steel, do you think people think that far, ahead? Well, maybe someone is.

    “The Stand” is running on TV, here, now. I wonder when it will be out on DVD. No release date, yet. Yup. Our posties are doing it rough, right now. And the two other major delivery services. They arrive here at the Institution, daily, with piles of boxes. Eleanor ordered a coat, that was on back order, for three months. It finally showed up. Luckily, it was exactly what she wanted. But then they put it on sale. But, she fully expected that, and took it in stride.

    The Editor is wise in many aspects. Runny eggs, breakfast pizza … 🙂
    I passed on the mozzarella, as not only was it well passed it’s “use by” date (as opposed to “best by”), but the “lightly salted water” was pretty murky.

    I think I know the brand of food processor, of which you speak. In fact, just the other night in the book “Fixation” they were discussing it. K A? There was a lively discussion a few months ago, over at, I think, Mr. Greer’s about that very machine. And that the way more expensive version, has metal gears. “Fixation” rated that company one of the best for repairability and access to parts. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting one, myself. The come in blue. 🙂 .

    Ah, you’ll know when to introduce Damo to your old mate. You’ll sense when the timing is right. Maybe when Jupiter and Saturn, align. Which is happening this week 🙂 .

    Before Callahan was well known, he got a lot of flack from the SJW’s. Until he’d come rolling in 🙂 . I actually saw him, late one night, as I was waiting for a stop light, in downtown Portland. Shooting through the cross walk at about 100 miles an hour, with a care-giver (I presume) clinging to the back, screaming in delight.

    Our atmospheric river is the type that has been coming in waves. With clear spots, in between. Tuesday, it’s supposed to clear off and the rest of the week be quit nice. We’ll see. Haven’t heard of any river flooding, but there are landslide warnings, out.

    The Old English medieval word for hiccups was “aelfsogooa.” Because hiccups were caused by elves. Who knew?

    After a lot of shoring up, and restoration, the tomb of Augustus is opening to the public, in March. Cliff House, and iconic hotel and restaurant in San Francisco, that dates back to the early 1900s, is closing down.

    “More Mammals are Hiding Their Secret Glow.”

    They’re having great fun in your museums, running about with black lights, to see who lights up. We know so little about how animals perceive the world, I wonder if some animals see on the ultra violet spectrum?

    And, finally, here’s a recycling problem …

    Every time the economy tanks, these kinds of articles pop up. Owners have been known to file off all the serial numbers, before abandoning a boat. Well, there’s an old saying. The two happiest days in a boat owners life, is when they buy a boat, and when they sell it.

    The Idaho wedding went off, without a hitch. I received pictures. A beautiful old lakeside lodge, snow on the ground, outside. But not too much. Lew

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