The comedown

It seems so weird to me that serious people, professional agitators and the media all suggest that with a few minor tweaks, life as it is currently experienced and enjoyed can somehow become sustainable. Dunno about you, but sustainable to me means being able to do the things you do today, tomorrow and in another millenniums time. Perhaps my perspective is somewhat longer term. Who knows? All I know is that I hear a lot of rubbish spoken when it comes to that strangely undefined, abused and poorly defined term: ‘sustainable’.

A defining memory has longed since haunted me. Years ago I’d caught the country train into the city. A most excellent cake and coffee with the editor was on offer. After those tasty treats were consumed dinner was also to be had. For those that know me, the continuing search for excellent cakes is what I consider a worthy use of my time. And the little mini-cakes or Mignon’s as they are so described at the place we went to, are truly excellent.

The country train deposited me at the epic Southern Cross station with the wavy funky roof. There was plenty of time so it was no hardship to walk for an hour across town in order to meet the editor. Thoughts of yummy cake was rudely interrupted at a busy city intersection by the awful experience of being accosted by a chugger. A chugger is a nickname for a charity-mugger, or otherwise known as some dude or dudette accosting strangers and asking them for money for their charity of choice. Not a fan.

Good vision is a by-product of big gooey eyes, but the downsides are that you occasionally get accosted by chuggers who see your big gooey eyes as a bit of a soft touch and a meal ticket for them. “Aren’t you worried about the Great Barrier Reef?” were the words spoken before he went into his shtick for the inevitable grab for mad cash. Candidly their need for the mad cash was not spelled out too clearly, but it was apparently most necessary. After the sales shtick we engaged in general conversation about the state of the world, our places in it and of course the subject of sustainability arose. By way of emphasis my fingers airly waved towards the vehicles and high rise buildings whilst I made the observation that: “None of this stuff is sustainable.” To which he replied: “Mate. I feel sorry for you.” Wow, that response was a deal breaker in my books, and so no other response came to mind other than walking off in search of an excellent cake and coffee, and far better company. Plus I saved some mad cash, which is sustainable for me.

The brief interaction has bothered me for a very long time. At its most basic interpretation, there was a guy representing a seriously well known environmental group, and then there was me discussing what I was personally doing all the while deflecting his demands. My own personal efforts were ignored. But, to be fair, it was possible that the chugger bloke knew more about sustainability than me? However, my gut feeling in this regard suggests that the bloke was in error, if only because money is not at the core of this particular sustainability problem.

Over the years many people with no first hand experience in any subject whatsoever, have remonstrated with me upon all manner of things with which I’m actually intimately involved. A thoughtful nod of the head, or some kind words of understanding usually sends them on their way. And then I go back to doing whatever it was that I was doing in the first instance. Admittedly they must feel better having expressed their thoughtful concerns, and to me it matters not a whit.

The other day I mentioned to a lovely person that it takes me about two minutes of work each week to produce a weeks supply of yoghurt. It’s not hard. A few weeks ago I’d accidentally left a purchased container of high quality milk in the car on a hot day. Being the canny person that I am, I turned the container of milk into yoghurt. Most people would decry the error and loss of the milk and then dispose of the product just because the instructions suggest that milk should be kept at 4’C / 39’F or lower. Clearly this situation is not possible inside a vehicle on a hot summers day. The thing is though, the yoghurt I produce is cooked at 43’C / 109’F for 10 hours after having been first pasteurized (i.e. killing off the bacteria in the milk) at 65’F / 149’F for one hour. The car may have been hot, but it wasn’t that hot. So the milk was perfectly set up for yoghurt making. Waste I note, is hardly sustainable.

People have become dumbed down and so they have picked up on many of the fears that are fed to them. Fear, it is worthwhile mentioning, is often used to sell you stuff and/or gain control. As someone once quipped, the only thing we have to fear, is fear itself. Maybe they were referring to miscellaneous dairy products? Yes, blessed are the yoghurt and cheese makers, because they reduce waste.

So, I hear fear used all the time as a method to stop people from actively doing things, even if they are sustainable. A classic example for me is that whenever I mention that we make our own alcohol supply, people invariably suggest that either: ‘you must drink a lot’ or ‘aren’t you worried about getting poisoned?’ The reaction is so common that someone, somewhere must have inserted those two ideas into the general population. Either outcome is an actual remote possibility, but with over indulgence you’d really struggle keeping up with the supply – and I’d have to suggest that the local bottle shop or pub is of far greater concern in that regard. And as to poisoning, well the same observation could be applied to soap making, and you’d have to exercise more than the average standard of carelessness to produce a bad ending.

It’s been a long journey to get to this point, well over a decade in fact. Sometimes it makes a thoughtful person wonder what else they might be missing out on. Who knows? But what I do know, is that it takes a certain sort of learned and practiced fearlessness to look at the stories being fed to you, examine the risks and potential downsides, and then just plough on regardless. And beware the tall tales of sustainability.

Ollie admires the huge Moby body Rock II

Another day of excavations took place at the site of a future shed. We excavated about another four feet of clay from the site. So far the huge Moby body Rock II appears to be in the exact place that it should be. This is an uncanny outcome and makes me feel uncomfortable that we may come across an even larger rock in the future excavations.

Any mid to larger sized rocks recovered during the excavations are placed in a steel rock gabion cage. The gabion sits at the end of the fourth highest terrace where most of the roses grow. The next photograph puts the excavations and gabion into some context with some of the other garden terraces.

Putting the excavations into some context

There are a further twenty four feet of excavations to complete before the site is ready to construct a shed. Most of the clay is being moved quite a distance across the farm as it is being used to produce a new low gradient ramp leading down into the orchards.

Ollie poses on the fancy new yet-to-be-completed low gradient ramp leading into the orchards

All of the smaller rocks unearthed during the excavations were collected and then placed in the steel rock gabion cage which sits behind the greenhouse. That gabion is almost full.

The gabion behind the greenhouse is now almost full

The winter vegetables have run their course and the seeds were collected. The mostly deceased vegetables were run through the electric 2 horsepower chipper chopper and the resulting mulch and excess seeds were added to some of the raised garden beds.

Winter vegetables were chopped up and added back to garden beds as mulch

At this time of year there is quite a lot of planting and plant maintenance. The greenhouse has been used to produce a decent number of chilli and eggplant seedlings and these were planted out over the past few days.

Eggplants and Chilli to my left and Tomatoes and Globe Artichokes to my right. Ollie in the middle!

The grapevines were pruned and further trained to climb along the stainless steel wires which will support them.

Grapevines are trained to grow along the stainless steel supports. Ollie is consuming strawberries…

A batch of strawberry jam was produced this week. We harvest strawberries most days and then store some of them in the freezer. When enough strawberries are collected we produce a batch of jam. This time the jam failed to set because the strawberries are too low in pectin. Whilst we could produce pectin from the many apples growing here, we don’t have the time to do so, and so are going to apply commercially concentrated pectin to the mix.

Frozen strawberries waiting to be turned into jam

Black currants have become ripe this week. We convert those berries into a very tasty wine.

Black currants are ripe

In other produce news, the beetroot plants look ready to harvest.

Beetroot looks set to harvest

Apricots are now only a week or two away from becoming ripe.

Apricots are close to developing their distinctive yellow and red colours

The almonds are about another month away from harvest. You can tell that they are ripe when their fuzzy green outer coat splits to reveal the familiar looking kernel. Almonds are actually a variety of peach.

Almonds are another month away from harvest

Apples have just gotten bigger in recent weeks. This year should be the largest apple harvest that I’ve yet experienced. A lot of the harvest will be used to produce an apple cider vinegar and apple wine.

Apples are getting bigger

Insect life on the farm is prolific. During the day the hum of insect activity is audible. The editor took this amazing photo of a white moth interacting with a European honey bee.

A white moth approaches a Sage flower. A European honey bee can be seen at the lower flower on the left hand side of the Sage plant

Potatoes have produced a few flowers. From these flowers, new varieties may be produced. Who knows what may eventuate?

The Potatoes have produced some flowers

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtiums crawl their way around the raised vegetable beds
This creeping Rose climbs through one of the garden beds
As the heat builds, the Roses produce more flowers
The Roses are a real treat for the eyes
Poppies are beginning to flower
This Pink variety of Californian Poppy turned up out of nowhere
Californian Poppies are also easy on the eyes

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 1122.2mm (44.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1120.4mm (44.1 inches).

80 thoughts on “The comedown”

  1. Hi Chris,

    A happy summer solstice to you!

    I’ll write more tomorrow. It’s just after dinner as I write and the dishes are waiting to be done.


  2. @ Lew,

    Good point regarding “Chris of the Seven Fingers” as a good Viking nickname. Not that I wish such a tragedy on our host.


  3. Chris,

    Dig it? And dug? Dig Dug? Are we going retro Atari games here?

    Good to know that the Moby Rock II is NOT really in the way. This week’s photos of Moby Rock II and Ollie certainly show that quite well.

    My neighbor mentioned recently that my quince shrubs were encroaching on the travelled way in the alley behind my house. Since Saturday was nicely warm – between +5 and +10C – I got the hand trimmers out and trimmed them well back, and removed some detritus that was spreading. Not perfect, but much better. Come spring I can improve it more.

    When in Grad school in New Mexico, I got to know the building janitors. Neither spoke much English, so I got a chance to improve my Spanish skills. Their job was undervalued and ridiculed, yet I found what they did to be very important. I’d had a janitorial job prior to that, so I knew the value of what they did and that it wasn’t easy work.

    Sidelines, liminal places, fringes, margins…All the cool and interesting stuff happens there. Pick a topic and that seems to be true: music, philosophy, shorelines, marshes, the fringes and intersections are interesting. Mainstream stuff, not so much.

    Good take on it: if plants ain’t growing, there’s not enough solar to do spit with. Thanks for that – it’s a concept I can repeat to some people.

    The valiant steed reference…Chalk that up to another one of my more abstract abstractions that proved to be too abstract for my own good.

    Please tell the Editor that the picture of the moth and the bee is fantastic!

    Good work on turning heated milk into something useful. As you said, we’ve forgotten so much.

    Ollie has been busy supervising! That’s a lot of work that has been accomplished, so Ollie has every right to feel proud about his good supervisory skills. Eating strawberries from the vine is a just reward for his work. 😉 And the workers should enjoy knowing they’ve been doing a good job. Thanks for the photo that put the excavations into context. It’s coming together well.

    Your flowers are spectacular right now. Poppies and multicolored roses and nasturtiums – the color must be awesome in person. Our snow has melted, it’s still cloudy, so seeing your colors is always welcome.


  4. Hi Claire,

    And a happy winter solstice to you too. 🙂

    Hope the winter weather is not too unpleasant in your part of the world.

    Respect. Speaking of dishwashing, just for your info the stainless steel soap shaker for dishwashing is working an absolute treat. The former dishwashing concentrate liquid used to give me contact dermatitis despite the claims as to plant derived ingredients, not to mention the problem of salts (sodium laurethate) getting into the worm farm and soils. Ook!

    I look forward to hearing from you.



  5. Hi Al,

    By way of comparison, generally we have cooler nights and would not usually expect to see 75’F at 9am, but other than that, the heat builds during the day much the same way.

    One of those cool rooms would be nice to have access too, and if you were doing such work each and every day, I can’t understand how else you’d manage the manual labour experience. The accounting desk and office work provides a neat way to wind things back physically – but then the brain is punished!

    And yes, managing a work crew in such conditions would be a difficult proposition. Yes, I can see your side of that story too, and it would be no easy ride.

    Just for your info my work days in such conditions are around 5 to 6 hours with minimal breaks. But in such hot conditions it helps starting early and finishing at lunch time. It is not wise at all to work that way in the hot afternoon sun if only because heat exhaustion becomes a real problem.

    You reminded me of the day we poured the footings for the house. There were 115 stump holes supporting the house which required 15 cubic metres of cement to fill to a certain level in each of the holes. The day was 97’F and the cement deliveries arrived in a 2.5 cubic metre mini-mix truck. The cement was poured out of the truck into a wheelbarrow and the 2.5 cubic metres of cement had to be moved in 20 minutes or less otherwise penalties applied and I knew the guy doing the deliveries and would expect to not hear the end of the matter – they had to clean the mixer in the truck after all. The job was done over many hours, but by the end of the day I did not feel well at all. One of those cool rooms would have helped, but alas finances intervened!

    Your better half is wise to be alert to your natural inclination towards engaging in projects and acquiring interesting and unusual technologies. But I’ll be very interested to learn what your experiences were like with the lithium batteries. The technology does impress me, but at its core it is still a battery with all the limitations which that brings. An old contact of mine experienced a dead cell with his off grid lithium batteries and I’ve always been mildly disconcerted about the technology, but despite that have thrown caution to the wind – yet again!

    Mate, as to the safety clothing issue. I was a volunteer fire fighter for a few years and what the conditions required a person to wear on a hot day for possibly twelve hour shifts left me in awe of the folks who kept up that volunteer work for decades. Heavy chemically treated drill cotton on a stonking hot day is no fun or laughing matter – and there were no cool rooms in sight.



  6. Hey Chris,

    I’m curious to know what you use to crush the apples for the cider/vinegar. I’m looking at a pretty epic apple harvest myself and have been pondering what to do with them. I was thinking of drying them but wouldn’t mind having a crack at vinegar. I had to shoo away a cockatoo yesterday from the apple trees yesterday so its probably time to get the nets out. Funnily enough, the cockatoos in this area have never gone for my apples before but this one seems to have got a taste for them. I found several half eaten ones on the ground at the base of the tree the day before.

    I’m quite sure the general level of background anxiety in our culture is largely due to small things like not knowing how to make yoghurt. Simple skills like that give you an inherent confidence which is lacking in particular in people born and raised in the city. Our great grandparents would laugh at how soft our society is. For all the material wealth have we really progressed?

  7. Hi DJ,

    You are now in my natural hunting ground, and as a child I lusted for an Atari 2600. My grandfather knew of this desire and instead was a born contrarian and supplied me with an Intellivision machine instead. However, Dig Dug consumed quite a chunk of my mad cash at the amusement / arcade game parlours and I’d like to believe I’m pretty adept at the game. Yup, all that income from getting up early and stuff before the sun had risen above the horizon was consumed by games. It is a sad tale of woe, but lesson learned and I can’t go back. Tell ya what though, when a huge group of friends much later in life all immersed themselves in online games, it was a good prod to go and do something else with my life. They were like the siren calls from the shoreline: Chris, come play with us… Lost a lot of mates out of that experience. A lot of mates. And despite the poor health outcomes, they are still at it even today.

    🙂 Last week I was perched upon Moby body rock II, and it was hard to see the full glory of the granitey stuff displayed. Consider this week’s photo a correction. Pretty epic rock huh?

    Like your style and pruning is an interesting skill because I have this odd notion from observing the wallabies and deer here and their browsing activities, that fruit trees are far hardier than most people give them credit for being. Small trees such as fruit trees evolved to be nibbled upon with broken branches. And dunno about you, but after a decent cut back, the fruit trees respond with vigorous growth the following season. There is stuff going on in the soil there and I read long ago that pruned trees also drop some of their root systems, which in turn feeds the soil critters – who then feed the trees. All that I suspect is at the core of first nations folks agricultural practices and super fertile soils.

    Exactly. Such folks make things happen quietly in the background. It was not lost on me that the amusing Golgafrincham B-ark ship story introduced the downfall of the species. I talk to as wide a variety of people that I can, and so keep a good background vibe as to what is going on at the street level.

    Couldn’t agree more. To listen only to voices whom parrot from the same song sheet can mean that a person misses the wider and larger currents, and it is possible that this might suggest that they lack half a brain. An awful fate isn’t it?

    The plants do tell the story. And in this case it is possibly something of a nightmare.

    Your abstraction pleased me as I had this mental image of some bloke way back in the dark ages giving his life to save Arthur. Otherwise the bloke was noble but also in error to have acted so. Arthur was an inspiration, but his demise was known.

    🙂 Thanks as the moth photo was fascinating and the bee was very put out by the moth.

    Ollie is always keeping a sharp eye on his minions. It is possible that he is now the chilled out boss dog, but Ruby is unrelentingly persistent – and that might keep Ollie sharper than he’d otherwise enjoy becoming. Ollie would make a good stoner dog. He really is that chilled.

    The colours are awesome as the season has been extraordinarily gentle – so far. What January and February hold in store for us is a true unknown. An atmospheric river looks set to do a touch-down tomorrow. Ook!



  8. Hi Simon,

    I use an old school apple press. It is an awesome bit of kit which I picked up from a company in Preston: Costante Imports – the shop is amazing. But if you want to extract the juice without the press, I’d cut the apples into quarters and then blitz them in a food processor. Some of the pulp could then be chucked onto a plate which sits on a slight angle. The angle is important as the lowest point is where the juice will run out. You could set up some sort of collection bucket off the kitchen bench. Chuck another plate on top and then press down hard without breaking the plates. That will provide plenty of juice for cider or vinegar making.

    On the other hand, you could always just use the press here…

    No cockatoo shall dare set foot upon the farm. The magpies drive them away every single time. The magpies work hard for me, and they enjoy the insect bounty of the farm – and not the fruit or vegetables but I have to respond to their alarm calls when foxes enter the story. Cockatoos live for a long time – as long as humans. Generally when the birds are snacking upon the fruit, it is an indicator that the fruit is just shy of being ripe. Dunno why, but they like slightly unripe fruit. Beats me why.

    Can a person or society even progress backwards? Maybe? But yeah, I agree there is an unspoken undercurrent of fear that things are being taken away.

    And this latest instalment in the state to the north is perhaps a sign that recovery was too swift and more stuff has to be taken away? Dunno, but I’m curious and observing.

    Watch out for the rain tomorrow.



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Made it through about two thirds of the Arthur film, and am really enjoying it. The scenery is epic, and the characters other than those ensconced safely behind Camulot’s walls all look suitably grotty as if they’d been out in the forest for more than a few days. Mordred looks a bit like a less rough version of the homeless dude who has been selling me the big issue for many long years. And as a character, Mordred is rotten to the core in the film. I’d become more used to Jack Whyte’s version of the character as he seemed more historically likely to me.

    And I won’t mention Marion Zimmer Bradley’s collection of the same characters. Oops, here goes: Arthur did not come across as a successful warlord in that particular story and Merlin was well, let’s just say that it wasn’t good. That was my first introduction to the Arthurian saga and after reading that book, I couldn’t understand what all the hoopla was about.

    Ouch. Affordable housing is a real problem nowadays – as you can attest. It saddens me a bit that what the editor and I achieved with houses through sweat equity is something that I now doubt as being possible. Even dumps of houses have the potential factored into their prices. Of course it is an option to head way into the sticks – as it has always been an option. But folks such as Damo cannot head out that far and still find gainful employment in their field of endeavour.

    And if the editor and I had had half a brain between us we could have done ten times less work and produced ten times more mad cash during that period of time. We never once entered into a house project with the intention of just enjoying unearned wealth by ever increasing property prices. That’s speculation, whereas we purchased a dump and then brought it back to a habitable phase – even if that meant we only had one water tap and power point in an entire house and some rooms had no floors.

    The thing is if we’d followed that lazier path of speculation, we wouldn’t have the skills we can wield today. There is something in that story and it is both complicated and difficult.

    Aren’t their ghost cities in the land of stuff? I’d reckon that was one way of stashing away raw materials in a low grade, but also very difficult to thief off with form. Maybe some folks think a bit further ahead than others? It’s a theory, I guess.

    That’s the luck of the draw with long wait times and then an over supply forcing down prices. Glad to hear that Eleanor is cool with that particular situation. I’ve seen people very un-cool in similar situations but this does not speak well about those particular people. Hey, speaking of three month waits there is news on the spare battery front. And the peasants rejoiced!!!

    Mate, I don’t do much in the way of movies or TV these days. But when The Stand arrives (sometime in the future), I’ll sit down and read the book.

    And oh yeah, the same is going on for the posties down here. There are days when I visit the local post office and the back area is full of boxes and the postie assured me that this was just a drop in the pond as to what was out the back out of sight…

    Oh no! I’d forgotten the breakfast pizza, but yeah. You two, I dunno… 🙂

    Oh you’re good. Without mentioning brands, it was a K A that had plastic gears in the drive head. My mates had destroyed two sets of gear teeth before purchasing a proper commercial grade mixer. I missed that discussion, or may have forgotten about it – the memory being not so crash hot these days due to being overloaded with emotional content for most of this year. Ah, so there is a more expensive version. Have to look into that – and also I note that the machine has been around for a very long time. That makes sense as I was unimpressed at the twice destroyed machine.

    Yes, such was my thinking in relation to the Damo timing as well. Jupiter and Saturn have aligned and I need to stop being slack and just get on with it and organise things. Fortunately I have a period of about two weeks coming up with no accounting work – my brain is genuinely fried – and not with runny oozy bits either. The average cannibal would turn their nose up at my well cooked brain contents right now. But after a brief interlude I may be back into fighting fit and ready form again.

    It is bonkers cloudy outside right now and drizzly, but otherwise I’d spend some quiet time out their cogitating upon the planets: Summer solstice 2020: Planets come out to play at end of longest day. Hope those two play together nicely?

    Callahan clearly had a sharp tongue, even sharper wit and an indefatigable zest for life. He would have loved sticking it to the SJW’s!

    Landslide warnings leave my knees feeling a bit shaky, but fortunately we are only enjoying an atmospheric river from the Indian Ocean. Yes, the oceanic gods are possibly annoyed with us humans. Tommorrow is set to be very very wet.

    The naughty Elves to have caused hiccups. I told you not to get involved in their business, but oh no, you just had to go and summons a couple… Let’s just hope they don’t tweak your nose or turn you into a newt. That would be unpleasant for everyone around you. 🙂

    I saw that about the bioluminescence with the marsupials? How cool are Tasmanian Devils? The editor and I once sat with a farmer at night for a few hours in a remote corner of Tasmania whilst we watched Devils play and cavort on his farm. They really are amazing creatures – and the noise they make! And oh yeah! Like how the parrots know when the fruit on the trees is just slightly under ripe is a real mystery. And imagine the world the dogs live in due to their highly evolved sense of smell? I’d hate to imagine what they think of the editor and I…

    Mate, this guy said it all: People generally don’t walk away from the nicer boats that have value… What a polluted world we are leaving behind for those who follow us. And the sheer materials inherent in such wastage. It’s abominable.

    Great news that the wedding went off well – and I assume with a new preacher or celebrant?



  10. Hello Chris
    I have never used pectin in jam making, lemon juice will do instead. You have the good fortune to be able to grow your own lemons.

    The water table has finally reached the top here and I had to squelch my way out to go shopping. Last trip out for 2 weeks thank goodness.


  11. @ Chris , Simon ,others

    I stumbled and fell into a deeep rabbit hole., located in Nebraska US.
    Apple and cider grinder/ presses
    Plus all the other stuff in the site.
    As I clambered up and out to save my self. I was grabbed around my legs by the tentacles of some guarding monster attempting to pull me back and show me more. It was terrible😱


  12. Hi Chris,

    The Great Conjunction happens in less than an hour as I type, but as that is during the day, I will have to wait until the sun goes down just far enough to make it just dark enough for the planets to be visible. Mike and I took advantage of clear skies to view it with binoculars yesterday evening. The binocs resolve the planets into a brighter one (Jupiter) and a dimmer one (Saturn) but are not powerful enough for us to see Saturn’s rings. Mike will set up the telescope in the next day or two so we can view it through the telescope. It takes some time to set it up and the planets are not above the horizon for that long (under two hours), and this is all happening around dinnertime, so there are timing issues. But at least we have a clear to partly cloudy sky today and tomorrow.

    The winter solstice was earlier this morning. We are fortunate enough to be experiencing clear and warmer than normal conditions today. I will take a high of 50F / 10C in December! So far only one snow, very light (under a half inch, around 10 mm). It is supposed to be much colder by Christmas Eve and Christmas Day mornings, maybe 15F / -9C or even colder. Maybe some snow, but the forecast is equivocating on that.

    The garden harvest is complete and I have almost all the data tabulated. Before I write up that analysis for the blog, I will be putting up another post on a different garden topic. It’s nearing completion and will probably be up by the end of the week.


  13. Yo, Chris – Interesting the topic of apple cider presses, came up. In this week’s local (on-line) auction, there are two on offer. The auction doesn’t end for a few days, but they’re already racking up some pretty respectable bids. Hmmm. I wonder how the supply of those, is doing? I also noted with interest, your describing to Simon, how to do it without a press.

    I think what I would have said to the chugger was, “I don’t care FA about the Great Barrier Reef.” Even though I do. As far as his “Sorry” line goes, all he would have got is a shrug of a shoulder … from the back. Of course, if you really wanted to engage (and, who has the time?) you might of inquired how much the “seriously well known environmental group” rakes off in administrative costs. Hmmm? 🙂

    Someone always has a “better idea.” Sure is a lot of that, around here. I think it’s a subtle form of subconscious (one hopes) one upsmanship? The real killer is, one must at least take the ideas in, as, on rare, rare occasions, someone actually does have a better idea.

    I wonder if the concern over poisoning oneself with homemade hooch, is a hold over from the Prohibition period? Bathtub gin and all kinds of very bad additives. That stuff could sometimes make you go blind. And not in a good way. 🙂 . Probably some of it is “fake news” from the Temperance people. Anyone with half a brain, who can follow a recipe, can turn out some safe tipple. Of course, there was that one incident when I was a wee small lad, when my father managed to blow up a still, depositing large amounts of potato mash on the basement rafters …

    Moby Rock II is quit impressive. You’ve been doing it tough, with so many rocks, so maybe the Rock Gods have decided to throw you a win. The ramp to the orchard is shaping up, quit nicely. Todays ear worm is, The Beatles, “Long and Winding Road.” 🙂 .

    Wood chipper. Watch your fingers, not the camera.

    The berries look very good, and you’ll have some very nice jam. Strawberry apple? Doesn’t sound bad.

    The moth in flight picture is really something. Must have a fast lens?

    There are 4,000 varieties of native potatoes, grown in Andean Peru. I didn’t know they cross pollinated, so easily. I did a shallow dive down the rabbit hole, and discovered pink California poppies are not so unusual. So much for making your fortune 🙁 . We have a disused 4×5 raised garden bed, here. Last year, it had a few poppies in it. Judging from what is coming up, it will be solid poppies, next year. Unless someone does something with it. As far as your pink one’s go, did you start your orange California poppies, from seed, or were they always just “there?”

    Your roses are quit beautiful. We’re still getting the odd bloom, here and there, but between the rain, and cool temperatures, they’re rather bedraggled. (Cont.)

  14. (Cont.) And, to your epistle …

    I’m glad your liking the Arthur film. I was a bit thrown, at first, about Arthur fighting on the Continent, and maybe even to the gates of Rome. Then I remembered that some of the tales, have him doing just that.

    The Arthur tales are kind of like the internet. Look long enough, and you’ll find exactly what you want. Those Continental forays, never sounded very likely to me. And, I wondered if they weren’t echos of the many usurpers to the Emperor, that Britain threw up. I think there were at least four. M. Z. Bradley’s take on the Arthur legend is often considered to be the “feminist” version. So men in general, don’t fare well.

    As far as the housing market goes, past, present and future, hindsight is 20/20. Wait until your 71. LOL. The things you’d wished you’d done different, just pile up. But spending too much time mulling them over, well, that way lies madness! (Insert evil chuckle, here.) 🙂 . I think skills are far more valuable, now and in the future.

    I have a couple of the Great Courses, that were a cooperative venture, with the Culinary Institute of America. Bill Briwa (love the name), is the instructor. “The Everyday Gourmet: Rediscovering the Lost Art of Cooking.” Although it has “gourmet” in the title, it’s really a look a cooking basics. They also did another one (different instructor) on pastries and deserts. My point is (there is a point), he used the industrial strength mixer, we were talking about. But what I liked about it was, he often would say, “If you don’t have this bit of kit, do it this way.” Or, rarely, if you don’t have this bit of kit, consider making something else.” 🙂 . Again, mostly basics.

    Over here, given that our country was founded by religious fanatics, there’s a lot of articles touting the alignment of Jupiter and Saturn as “the Christmas star.” Per usual, I don’t know if it’s going to clear off, when it makes a appearance. Pouring down, and socked in, right now.

    Animals are so funny. H got a new squeaky toy, about four days ago. Usually, when I visit Eleanor in the evening, we play a few rousing rounds of keep-away. But she’s very selfish with her new toy. Has not allowed me to touch it, yet. When I got up this morning, it was pouring, but when it came time to take her out, there was a break in the weather. But very windy. I noticed that she turned her tail into the wind, to blow back her magnificent flag, to keep it out of what was going on, back there. A couple of months ago, I was in the dog section at our local variety store, and saw a rack of Christmas sweaters, for dogs. Not very expensive. So, I found one that’s white and red, and says “Santa’s Little Helper” on it. I stashed it away. I deployed it, this morning. She loves playing “dress up,” so it was easy to get on her. Eleanor’s helper was there, this morning (who also needs a bit of cheering up. Sick husband. No, not that.), so, per usual I just opened the door a bit, and let H run in. Took them a few moments to take it in. Then, shrieks of delight. I’ll trot her through the lobby, a few times, this week. The Inmates need a bit of cheering up.

    I presume the wedding came off with a new preacher, on tap. It wasn’t mentioned. If it’s not a problems, it drops off the radar.

    New films. Besides “Greenland”, there’s another apocalypse movie coming out, called “The Midnight Sky.” Staring George Clooney. Trailer looks pretty good. There is a small child, but if the trailer can be trusted, she doesn’t do much wailing.

    I made 2 dozen + banana + muffins, last night. Lots of reconstituted dried fruit and plenty of sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Froze up a dozen, gave a few to Eleanor, and the rest I’ll munch on. Next up, cookies! Lew

  15. Hi Lew,

    I saw Greenland the other week. Gets a solid “OK” from me. Great premise, but *very* dumb characters. Sometimes I struggle figuring out in these survival movies, are the writers just stupid, or are they writing “stupid” characters. Hard to tell 🙂

    Saw a much better movie on the weekend, Love & Monsters:
    Shamelessly steals the tone of Zombieland (but with giant mutated insects instead of zombies). However, that is fine when the movie is lightweight and fun. Also, filmed near the gold coast in Queensland as a stand-in for California, so you get to see sub-tropical Australian landscapes!

    I have Midnight Sky on a watchlist as well – trailer looked alright!


  16. Hi again Chris

    My story was set right on top of the soil covering the infamous Radioactive Waste Tanks.
    Due to all conditions the work day that could counted on was about 2hours in the morning. And two more in the afternoon.
    My initial experience with the cool down area in my story was during 1996. A few years on concerns about employee exposures to chemical vapors escaping from the tanks became a really big issue. The fix was to implement monitoring of tank vapor space and the atmosphere within tank boundaries. The workers were then required to be certified to use SCBA masks and air tanks. That practice is in force today. Just like Fire Fighters.

    Your house pier task was epic. Increasingly so depending on the round trip distance from batch plant to the job. In your case two of our large 10 yard trucks. And numerous long tedious hours to complete. Memories of such things are forever. With hope of no repeats.

    Now from the looks of the recently uncovered Moby II I’m wondering If the new project is for housing a large wood stone oven. A rock like that could be used as the foundation for such a wonderful additional to you and the editor’s Fernglade adventure??? Hmmmm😁

  17. Hi Inge,

    That’s possible about the lemon juice. Unfortunately we were a bit scarred one year when we added too much lemon juice to a batch of strawberry jam – the taste results weren’t good. Strawberries are not that acidic and they’re also low in pectin so they are a real pain to produce jam from. The acid and pectin balance has to be spot on for that particular berry, and um, yeah, we don’t have the skills yet. Of course another difference is that possibly your berries weren’t frozen as you used them fresh for jam making, and so they are probably naturally higher in pectin than the berries we use.

    Jam making is a complicated process and takes a lot of experience to get just right, and so I respect your work.

    We have enough unripe apples now that we could actually make our own batch of pectin, it is just that we don’t have the free time with which to do so.

    Lemons and some other citrus trees grow really well here, although the old timers suggested that this was not possible. I’ve long wondered about that, but the farm is very sheltered from winds as it sits in a huge natural volcanic amphitheatre. If the farm was way up on the ridge, there would be little possibility of growing citrus due to the cold winter winds.

    Good to hear that the water table has risen, and I’m unsure about your perspective but I find that shopping at this time of year is a serious pain. The festive music piped into some larger shops makes it hard for a person to think for themselves.

    An atmospheric river which originated in the Indian Ocean dumped almost an inch and a half of rain over the past 24 hours. It is now cold enough that I’ve had to run the wood heater…



  18. Hi Al,

    Seriously. You are leading me astray and into the realms of dark temptation. 🙂

    Oh, they’re good. Years ago at a nearby bakery with an old and original, and even more importantly used and working Scotch oven, they had an old school hand cranked grain grinder for sale. Between you and I, I had enough chances to purchase the machine. Mad cash was tight as. Lusting eyes looked upon the device many a time. Realities made themselves known. Desires went unrequited. Sadly, one day the machine was gone. Lost and forlorn was I, for I knew the true extent of the loss.

    Mate, you barely escaped with your life and wallet. Well done you!

    Exactly. When work conditions for hard physical work are not right – they’re not right. And hot and/or extremely humid days are very harsh days with which to perform hard manual labour.

    Yes, the local brigade had such equipment for structure fires. Yup, a whole bunch of certification and requirements which I never put my hand up for. Out of curiosity, just how many hot spots are there in your country? We have only the single reactor at Lucas Heights just inside the city of Sydney boundaries. The reactor produces medical isotopes I believe. Despite the large reserves of the yellow mineral stuff down under, outside a few folks, nobody seems that excited about the prospects of employing fission energy to produce electricity. The culture is different down here in that regard.

    The stupid thing was that I’d worked on Victorian era solid brick housing which had strip footings going down less than half a metre in highly reactive clays – and the buildings were fine after almost a century. The footings requirements for this place were epic and in other parts of the city employing concrete slabs, clearly they’re not enough as some newish houses are cracking.

    For your curiosity, and this was almost two decades ago I came into contact with an old timer scientist and builder. So I asked him how they used to set out strip footings for brick walls way back in the day. And he told me that they used to have an army of people doing the work of digging and mixing – and there was no steel reinforcing mesh. Some of the strip footings I’ve seen from those sorts of buildings have had all manner of interesting materials in them such as sea shells.

    Truth to tell, I don’t know whether I could do such a workday nowadays. Moving 15 cubic metres of cement in one day and placing it carefully into 115 holes is possibly now beyond me – or I’d do the day very differently as it needn’t have happened all in one day.

    A large wood stove outdoors oven would be just the thing for a hot summer’s day when it makes no sense to heat up the house. The Roman’s knew their baking business that’s for sure.



  19. Hi Claire,

    So cool! Did you and Mike get a glimpse of the err, is conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn the correct word? If the two planets were put into a cage fight, my money would be on the feisty Jupiter. And I envy you your telescope. It is a funny thing, but down here used telescopes go for a song. This situation should not be given the extraordinary complexity of constructing one, but a lot of things are like that. A mate once set up a telescope for a glimpse of Mars when the orbit was good for easy viewing. It was amazing to see how fast the planet moved across the scope of the telescope.

    Had to laugh, the summer solstice was concluded with an epic rainstorm courtesy of an atmospheric river. The rain has poured down for hours and hours and I barely concluded and escaped getting drenched… On the other hand, given the epic forest fires last year maybe old Beli, who resonates with me, threw a bone my way? I’d like to think so, but hubris is always asking for trouble.

    Your winter is starting to sound an awful lot like my winters. 10’C would not be out of the ordinary for a winter’s day down here, although it would be on the warmer side of that story. But then it can get as cold as -2’C. Thermal inertia will come into play soon for you, and my August (your February) would be the coldest month of the year for me. Brr!

    How’s this though? I’m running the wood heater tonight, but boxing day looks set to reach 86’F. My brain hurts.

    Intriguing, and I look forward to enjoying your words.



  20. Hi, Chris!

    After Wednesday morning of last week I was unable to keep up with your excellent blog because we had a big ice storm. The power, landline, and internet all went out. After several days the power and phone came back on, but the internet only after 6 days, yesterday afternoon. I, thankfully, have no smartphone. So I missed most of what went on here last week. These things are par for the course in rural areas around here.

    Those poor, old chuggers – they are often so earnest. I hate to argue, and they never really listen – so I don’t.

    That was so clever about the warmed-up milk. I think of how many opportunities I have missed when not turning “spilled milk” into something useful. The best I’ve done lately is to take the batch of hard-boiled eggs that were half cooked when I cracked them open next day, and so I cooked them up scrambled. All-at-once was probably a bad choice as then I had to try and eat 5 scrambled eggs by myself. It’s the kind of thing that makes me really miss having the dogs.

    One thing I especially noticed among this week’s photos: The moby rock needs some graffiti.

    No-one here has the time or inclination to build gabion cages. I have yearned for some since I first saw yours. I’m not sure I could do it myself without accumulating a lot of pain. Any ideas of a (cheap) ready-made solution? I think I may look in at out tip shop, though actually they are not very cheap.

    Ollie is sticking to you like glue.

    What do you do with your beetroots?

    The moth and bee at the catmint (?) photo is one in a billion.

    Do you know the name of that climbing rose? I have never heard of a pink California poppy.


  21. Hi Lewis,

    Cider presses are still manufactured over in Europe – and the quality is amazing. The machine I nabbed will certainly last for a very long time. And hopefully the apple harvest this season is good enough that the machine gets put to some serious usage. The parrots though may have other plans… The plates method would work pretty well. All about making do is how the world looks to me.

    The question about the reef puts you on the back foot before a person even has a chance to get their head around the story the chugger is trying to sell. And last year there were some stories about exploitation of those folks, who I believe worked for an intermediary rather than the actual charities. Whatever the story actually was, it did not reflect well upon anyone involved. And you raised the most awful question of all: Are the desk jockeys worth it?

    It would be nice to know everything, but then there would be that most dreadful feeling that there was something that was still unknown – and you wouldn’t know what it was! Dreadful. Mate, you get your folks who always have a better idea and feel the need to share it, and I get my variety too, although they always seem to be more focused on how more money could be made from the property. It seems rather too focused for my liking and I’d probably much prefer that someone mentioned how to make realistic suggestions as to how the place might be easier to live in. There is a bit of pie in the sky talk, and ideas that fall outside my budget are nice, but unaffordable.

    The atmospheric river dumped an inch and half of rain in the past 24 hours. It was extraordinary to see how fast the clouds moved across the continent from NW to SE on the satellite images.

    I wonder about the after effects of the Prohibition era (which didn’t happen down here) and also the long arm of the Temperance League (which most certainly did happen). Those two warning stories I mentioned are unshakable in people’s minds – it is an impressive achievement to have them so bedded in the collective imagination. Methanol is a risk, but only greed, carelessness to an extent that they shouldn’t even be involved at all in the first place, and / or deliberate poisoning can explain away the methanol poisoning story. But it is a real thing, and there is no coming back from it. With that sort of outcome, your dad might not have been able to make a living on Copperhead Road! 🙂 Love that song.

    Thanks for the more soothing ear worm from The Beatles. A beautiful song and poetry too. Fingers crossed for future excavations as I don’t want to upset the rock gods, as they could be one serious pain for me. Yes, all we have to fear, is fear itself. And they’re worthy of respect.

    The electric chipper is actually a far more dangerous machine than the big old scary petrol powered machine. It doesn’t look it but for the record the machine was not operating at the time of the photograph. Concentration, err need it, err, fingers etc.. not gone. All OK.

    Thanks, and we are cheating using the commercially concentrated pectin. If I had unlimited time, no worries at all, but time is something that is in very short supply – sorry to say.

    The camera is a second hand Pentax K-r which someone sold for about $300. Crazy stuff, but I guess they wanted bigger and better things. It is an amazing camera and it is in Star Wars storm trooper colours. Seriously. There is no shortage of these devices second hand.

    Exactly. Potatoes hybridise readily, so yeah it will be interesting to see what eventuates with the potato patch. In Peru we ate a huge variety of potatoes. We’re getting into dangerous hot button territory though, as it always amazed me that in one notable historical blight disaster only two varieties were grown – out of the thousands available. Plenty of varieties are resistant to that particular blight.

    I have no idea where the pink Californian poppy came from – nobody in the area grows them. Last summer there was a beige variety as well, but I can’t be entirely sure about the seed brought in here as who knows what genetics it contained. Drats! It would be nice to have assured ourselves of a right proper fortune. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

    And yes, the European poppies grow like – and also look a bit like – a proverbial weed. The flowers are stunning though. I accidentally once bought a huge packet of seeds and so just threw them randomly about the place. I doubt I could eliminate them now.

    Roses are really nice givers aren’t they?

    Yeah, that made me wonder too about Arthur spending almost a decade on the continent. I couldn’t work out whether he was fighting for, or against the Roman’s though. His band of knights sure looked like they were having some fun in France. Ah, the presence of old Lucius suggests that Arthur was fighting against the Roman’s. Wow, talk about tribute in sending the defeated bodies back to Rome – no easy feat in those days.

    The continental forays don’t ring true to me either because Arthur would have had more than enough trouble in his own backyard. Looking for trouble elsewhere suggests that Arthur’s lands and people were in better shape than history suggests. Still it makes for a rousing story don’t you reckon?

    And yes, skills are of considerable value. A lot of people know a lot of stuff, without knowing much about the stuff – and this is a worry.

    How do you pronounce the guy’s name? I’m hearing Brewer or Bry-wa, but the name may be lost in translation. It is certainly very cool that’s for sure. Are you enjoying the series?

    Same, same here. Lots of thick clouds and plenty of rain. Christmas day looks like it will be mostly sunny and 70’F – which is quite nice really. Some Christmas days reach well over the 100’F mark and it is hard to eat a lot of rich food on such a day. This year plans are in tatters, not that I’m complaining, although it does sound a bit like it. Oh well, chin up ol’ chap, better than being dead.

    Go H and the squeaky toy. Love the story. Santa’s little helper is a fantastic fun idea. 🙂 Good stuff. And hey, what is it about dog groomers not wanting to clip the tails so the poor dogs end up with this huge bindi catching pom-pom. The dog grooming lady here refused to do the job, and another client turned up after Sir Poopy was shorn for the summer – and was horrified. Sir Poopy was dirty for the attention as I’d imagine H also is. Yup, your inmates will love it too! 🙂

    Fair enough, I was only curious about the practicalities of replacing a preacher at short notice, and in these times. They don’t grow on trees you know. 😉 Hehe! I’ve been at some ceremonies were the ministers have stuffed up the names of the people. Not a good look, but like all professionals, the ministers moved on with the show.

    The Midnight Sky film looks good. Unfortunately the cinemas down here look a bit like a hard case – which is sad because I love going to the cinema.

    Yummo with the banana muffins. How did the defrosting go? Or did you use fresh bananas? I accidentally left the freezer door slightly ajar last night and the power use was interesting, but not too bad. A lot of condensation was in the freezer – a bit like an old school freezer. Remember hacking away at the ice so as to get into those machines…



  22. Hi Chris,

    Yes, I saw the conjunction last night using binoculars. The two planets are just a bit separated because while they were at the same degree as measured along the Sun’s path, they were at slightly different declinations (the distance above or below the Sun’s path). Where I am Saturn was dimmer and a bit above and to the west of Jupiter. Mike wasn’t home last night at the right time, but he is home tonight and will set up the telescope for viewing the conjunction. Clear skies until Wednesday!

    JMG’s Ecosophia post tomorrow is about the conjunction, which is a special one that astrologers call the Grand Mutation. He’ll explain what that means and its significance. Because I’m studying astrology I subscribe to his mundane astrology posts so I have already seen some of what he has to say about it. It’ll be worth reading.


  23. Al back again
    The first 12 volt Christmas lighting power box with lead acid gel cell (12v 12Ah) and real 45 Watt no frills charge controller was installed on the Sil’s and Daughters kids back yard Trampoline. 4 upright safety screen posts and around the outside perimeter of the round bouncy thing you jump on. The 12 and 15 yo boys are really enjoying the lights that are powered by safe twelve volt power. The sun is not cooperating but the 12 volt 1 amp wallwart supply is keeping the system running if the lights are turned off before bedtime.
    My wife came back from the daughters and gave the decorated trampoline a big “THATS SOOO CUTE” rating🥰

    The lithium Phosphate battery may get setup in my work area for test and familiarization today. (Now where did that Dr Frankenstein lab coat get put)

  24. @ Chris & Al – Went down a bit of a rabbit hole, myself. (Al led the way) 🙂 .

    I was wondering if “Pleasant Hill” was in the Nebraska Sandhills. If so, it would not be pleasant, at all. My Dad is from Nebraska, and when I was a wee small lad of 10 or so, we visited relatives out in the Sandhills. They are not pleasant. But, I see the Sandhills are NW of Aurora, so, perhaps Pleasant Hill, really is pleasant. While visiting the relatives, we went up in my uncle’s crop duster airplane. Flew low over the ruin of an old stage coach station. You could see hundreds of rattlesnakes, crawling around in the cellar hole.

    To go even further down the rabbit hole, Aurora is the county seat of Hamilton County. And, has a spectacular, Victorian court house. The thing is, the current population of the county is just 9,000 +. I’d say, at one time, the county had a vastly larger population? Lew,_Nebraska

  25. Chris,

    I was abysmal at all of those Dig Dug and Pacman type games, so I never spent much money on those. I know many who spent fortunes on them. I never understood the attraction, but that siren call is there for many.

    Yeah, Moby Rock II is an epic rock. Very epic. As you said last week, maybe best to leave well enough alone.

    You’ve obtained a more extensive knowledge about pruning and its various interactions. I never thought about its effects on roots. I have known for decades that regular pruning of fruit trees helps keep the trees healthier, as well as the crop. This latest pruning venture was purely a case of not wanting to overgrow the alley to the point that I become the dread “hideous neighbor”. The alley is used by city services and is heavily travelled by the neighbors, as most homes in this neighborhood have garages in the alley that are not accessible other than by the alley.

    Yes, the Golgafrincham tale was on my mind also. Adams had a lot of insights, and his packaging them with humor was brilliant at times. Ark-B and its after effects both on Golgafrincham and on earth was one of those.

    Yes, having half a brain (or less) is a bad fate. And without at least hearing dissenting viewpoints means that one is living life with one’s head in the sand. Which is a good way to get blindsided and have a spear sticking out one’s backside.

    Ollie may be savvier than was thought. Sometimes that calm demeanor masks the thought process of, “Oh, really, again? But I plan longer term and that youngster is just pushy in the short term. I’ll ignore this and out stubborn the pup.” It’s interesting to read your updates on the Fluffy Collective.

    I see your atmospheric river dumped some serious rain. We scored on the solstice! No rain, but we had a brief clearing spell in the southwest just before sunset. This resulted in a good view of the two planets. Jupiter is about as bright as I’ve seen it, and that was what to me was spectacular. I’m glad I got a chance to see it.


  26. @ Damo – “Love and Monsters” is coming out on DVD, here, the first week of January. I have been haunting the library catalog, daily, waiting for it to pop up. Thanks for the tip as to where it was filmed. I’ll be checking out the background.

    If you haven’t stumbled across it, might also check out “Songbird.” Although given the topic, it might be too early. 🙂 .

    The plot of “Greenland” looks pretty much like a rip off of 2012. At least, that’s my thought, having seen only the trailer. Looking forward to seeing it. Lew

  27. Yo, Chris – “…huge natural volcanic amphitheatre.” That’s what our Mt. St. Helens, looks like. Though I didn’t realize it, until I saw it in person. 2-D pictures just don’t convey the sweep, and depth.

    Interesting picture and story from our local newspaper.

    That is directly across the street, from my old squat down on Tower Avenue. The one story building is there main bar, restaurant, pool room, and micro-brew facility. The two story building, to the left, the second floor is B&B and the first floor is smaller service bar and movie theatre.

    “…exploitation of chuggers.” Every once in awhile, a group of personable young people would sweep through downtown Centralia, selling everything from perfume, magazine subscriptions or dodgy cleaning products. There was a movie, a couple of years back, about a young girl who gets swept up in such an operation. Generally, they move from place to place and pack them 6 in a sleazy motel room. Didn’t see the film. Can’t remember the title.

    LOL. “Focused on how much more money could be made from the property.” Guilty! Guilty! Guilty! 🙂 . Though I hope you realize, that I’m usually pulling your leg. 🙂 . The smiley face or, droll “…in your spare time.” is usually the tip off.

    Well, with all those chippers around, you’ll know what to do if a group of irritating and vapid uni students, wander into your woods.

    I keep a bit of commercial pectin, around. I got to wondering if rhubarb had pectin in it, but should have known better. The strawberry / rhubarb crisp, was pretty runny, even with a lot of corn starch in it. I haven’t tried it yet, but my friend Julia told me the trick is to add a bit of strawberry jello. Hmmm. Wonder if that would work with strawberry jam? At least here, jello is cheaper than pectin.

    At the last place I lived, there was a patch of European poppies, that my landlords wife had put in. They were pink, so I didn’t care for them much. But, I just left them alone, and they produced year after year.

    Oh, sure. Leave your very comely wife at home, for ten years with your unattached best friend. Doesn’t seem prudent.

    They pronounce the chef’s name BE-wah. I’ve had both series, for awhile. Watched the whole thing, and now I pick it up, from time to time, for an episode or two. They also have a series on more gourmet cooking, and one on grilling and barbeque. But I’m not interested in either.

    H has a bundle of muscles on her lower back, which keeps her very fluffy tail, up and out of the way of … business. And, I clip her short, under her tail, every two weeks. So, no problems. The weather is nice, today, so I trotted her around in her little sweater. Ran across several of the Inmates I don’t see very often, and it seemed to give them a lift. But I got to reflecting. Without Scrooge or the Grinch, it wouldn’t be Christmas. It is supposed to be clear, tonight, so I may see a bit of the planets. Probably not touching, but close together.

    Last I heard, the a preacher was found, via that old method of “a friend of a friend.” Someone knew an ex-military chaplain, who had kept his license up. Odd. I can think of three ex-military chaplains, over the past couple of years. A children’s librarian, our informal chaplain, here at the Institution, Rev. Bob, and now this bloke.

    I had two bananas, that were heading south, but wanted four, as I was doubling the batch. So, according to that font of all wisdom, the Net, I popped them in a plastic bag, and into the freezer. Thawed them out, overnight. It was interesting. They had turned to banana mush. Which really made them easy to mix in. So, I just snipped the top and squeezed them out, like toothpaste from a tube. Last night I made 3+ dozen lemon cookies. Crisp and tasty.

    I was reading more in “Fixation” last night. The topic at hand was a well known, behemoth of a Scandahovian furniture company. I think they made an appearance in “Fight Club.” But the point of the chapter is that, instead of an economy based on growth, a circular economy might be more what’s needed, right now. And, they are moving (slowly) in that direction. Instead of a revenue stream based on new, in the door, out and, ultimately disposable, another revenue stream could come from repair. So they might not sell as much new product, but might make as much, or more in the lost revenue, in another form of revenue. It wasn’t mentioned, but being an old retailer, myself, more than half the battle is getting people in the store. Who knows what they might impulse buy, while dropping off and picking up, items? Lew

  28. @ Al

    I know what you mean. That site looks very similar to the one Chris recommended. I pretty much want one of everything.

    @ Chris

    Thanks for that. Constante has some great stuff. Might need to weigh up buying a few things from there. Looks like good gear and these sort of things are lifetime investments.

    I saw a cockatoo sort of attacking a few magpies the other day. There were a whole gang of cockatoos grazing, though, and only three magpies. Wonder who win that fight one-on-one?

    By the way, you said you prefer pea straw for hte chicken coop. Where do you get it from? I had a look at bunnings and on gumtree but couldn’t see any. Would lucerne hay work? Seems like overkill to me but there’s a guy selling it on gumtree for a decent price with free delivery and it’s not that much more expensive than straw.

    Interesting that NSW didn’t just slap on mandatory masks even though numerous people are calling for it. Good on ’em, I say. If you look at the numbers from Europe and the US there’s no evidence that masks do anything, which is exactly what the WHO were saying prior to this year.

  29. @Lew

    I see your Songbird, and raise you a “Utopia” (BBC original, or US remake) for catching the current ‘Rona mood. Problem is, Utopia was filmed 10 years ago. I sometimes wonder if Mrs Damo and I should feel bad for thinking the “bad guys” in Utopia actually had a pretty good plan…. (the wiki synopsis should explain everything if you won’t be watching). The Midnight Sky has got middling reviews, but I will still watch. I also see Tom Hanks is in a new Western (News of the World), so will give that a go.

    And in completely left of field news, I discovered that budding artists out there in internet land attempt to fix flawed films through editing, and re-release them on the ‘dark web’. I got a copy of ‘The Hobbit’. The original 3-film release had a longer run-time than Lord of The Rings, despite the book being a fraction of the size. Many fans felt robbed by the evil studio executives, who just wanted to profit from a 3-movie release rather than a single or maybe 2 movie option. To make matters worse, they butchered the story, turning a relatively light hearted adventure tale into a bloated mess. So, instead of 10.5 hours (you can literally read the hobbit book quicker), there is a 4 hour edit that stays true to the books whilst keeping the NZ scenery, great songs and hobbiton. Previous years, we normally watch Die Hard, Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings as “holiday time” movies, but I am intrigued by the edit and will give it a go!

    And of course, there will be the Christmas special of Great British Bake Off to watch, but no one else here likes that :-p


  30. Hi Chris,

    Did you catch the conjunction? I had vague hopes of seeing Saturns rings through binoculars (8x42s), but no such luck. However, it did have a definite bulge, which observing from the ground with grains of sand between my feet, made me feel connected to the uncaring cosmos!

    Good luck with your Xmas break! I just finished work today (did I sneak away early – who can tell, time is such a relative concept..) and am looking forward to putting this year in the rear view mirror.


    PS – Keto sucks, but you do lose weight and don’t feel hungry! I did it for a month and wont be trying it again (carbs are just *so* good). I told Mrs Damo the other day, if forced to choose between a “carnivore” or “vegan” diet, I would definitely go carnivore. But, I think both are too extreme for most people. TBH, I would just feel empty inside if I couldn’t eat eggs or cheese….

  31. Hi Pam,

    Oh my, an ice storm would be horrendous – glad to hear that you and your family made it through OK despite the loss of communications and power – not sure a garden would enjoy such an event though. How did you heat your place in those awful circumstances? And thanks for the lovely words.

    An atmospheric river dumped an inch and half of rain yesterday which the gardens and orchards have appreciated.

    Chugger’s are a pain, and down here they are paid for their efforts – but some of the stories in the news a year or two back about their conditions were disconcerting to say the least. The homeless dude I get the big issue from is far more entertaining, and there is I guess an ongoing relationship which has spanned many years. Chugger’s, well here today and gone tomorrow.

    Never thought of doing that with the eggs. Hehe! 5 eggs. 🙂 Yup, dogs could help with that problem. Had a lemon and coconut muffin this evening with my coffee, and they sure did help with that. Dogs are good. 🙂 Now that Ruby is one year and one month old, maybe it is time she wrote a blog? Not sure how good it would be and there may be potty mouth, but once I too was the young fluffy apprentice…

    Truth to tell, I have long wondered whether one of the sheds walls should score a mural?

    Empty gabion cages pre-made are sold down here, so I’d imagine you could find them for sale in your part of the world. Although it is cheaper to make them yourself. Your son could definitely weld a gabion frame made from scrap angle steel from the Mr Dumpy project and then use heavy duty gauge chicken wire for the side walls and floor and lid. You know what? Some people actually purchase rocks for their gabion cages. A mob north of here sells square edged rocks called Castlemaine slate and stone, and I dream of square edged rocks. Woe is me, the granite here is all rounded and weathered.

    Beetroot is really tasty. Actually the beet is usually sliced, but it has an earthy taste which I swear tastes as if it had already been pickled. It is a standard beet crop down under – and as a special treat a slice can be added to a burger to take the food to 11 on the dial.

    🙂 Digital SLR camera’s just do their thang!

    I’d never seen a pink Californian poppy either, but there it is. And really sorry, but we recorded the names of the roses planted in the terraces, but that one has been crawling through the garden beds for many long years now. All lost in time sorry to say.



  32. Hi Claire,

    How did it all look with the telescope? I’m jealous, and would have endured all manner of harsh winter weather to enjoy the spectacle. However the atmospheric river originating in the warm surface waters of the Indian Ocean have produced nothing but thick clouds and rain for a number of days. Maybe Friday night, the spectacle will show itself, and that would be a good solstice present in my books.

    A Grand Mutation frankly sounds a bit like the zombie apocalypse! 🙂 Please excuse my light heartedness, but your intriguing hint has only confirmed what I have long felt: Change is in the very air.

    I don’t subscribe to the readings as I help in other ways. It is possible my nature is closer to that of the dogs as I enjoy today and keep one eye on tomorrow – whilst recalling the past lessons. How could it be otherwise?

    Between you and I, I was quite taken aback by the salient words of Joséphin Péladan (as recounted by Mr Greer) who wrote: If you are animal, be beautiful. If you are emotional, be good. If you are intellectual, seek the grail. Eloquence wrought in the flesh. Yes.



  33. Hi Al,

    Hehe! Walwart is not a thing down here, but in general I get the sense of awe that the place conveys. 🙂 And respect for not invoking the monster. The interweb indexes and searches aren’t nearly as smart as the general population believes them to be. People give them far too much credit me thinks.

    A finer rating than your wife’s observation could not be achieved! Well done.

    Word on the street is that my long delayed spare large lithium battery might make it to this remote spot some time in the next month. As you might imagine, a project similar to yours is part of that story.

    Watch the battery voltage carefully under charge. Hmm, the charging tolerances are tighter than with lead acid chemistry – but we have already discussed that. How much fun would it be to have a nickel-iron chemistry where it all just doesn’t matter, but the awfulness of the voltage drop with that chemistry would be very real. I tried entering into a dialogue with a local bloke I know who has those particular batteries which power his house, and all he saw was frustration. It needn’t have been that way, but… Oh well.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    The link to the Hamilton County suggested that the population at one time between 1880 and 1930 had increased by almost 50% and then some, but possibly the epic drought and Great Depression of the 1930’s finished off any sense of growth and progress. Since those years, the population statistics look remarkably stable.

    It is odd we are discussing this, but I began reading Ruth Goodman’s Victorian Farm book this morning. As you can imagine, I’m still in the introduction to the hardcover book. The thing is, prior to the Victorian era the population was one twelfth of what it is today. Down under we are about twenty five times the size of the population estimates when the Europeans first arrived. The population growth has been staggering really. Anyway, all that is to the side – the book is really good.

    Maybe it is just me, but the words sand hills when combined with the description dismal river, doesn’t quite engender a sense of natures open handed bounty… However, such stable, complicated and difficult environments often produce stupendous biodiversity – just don’t expect the land to produce much in the way of cash crops.

    I’ve long since been enthralled by Mt St Helens and I recall avidly pouring through the National Geographic as a kid. It is actually quite amazing that so few people died in the 1980 eruption. And the mountain has not been quiet since those days. And can you imagine being anywhere near there in 1480? Far out. As someone who lives on the side of a hopefully dormant volcano, and can see plenty of them off in the distance, stories from geologists suggesting that sooner or later one of them is going to go up has a certain sort of pressure of reality to the stories.

    Thanks for the link, and I can confirm that down here is also a bit of an economic bloodbath, although there are signs of recovery at a lower point than before. Given that earlier obligations are often predicated upon the earlier higher point, well it is anyone’s guess what will be left behind in the smoking crater of wreckage.

    All speaking of which I’ve now shut the doors to our business for the first time in like forever. In the past three years I’ve had one week off, and could maintain that grueling schedule, but not with the goings on this year – I need some distance and time to recover, and so have shut for three weeks. Brutal but effective and I’m looking forward to the break – today was the last paid work day for the year.

    And unfortunately I had to work this morning, then head off to pick up a mysterious machine from a distant locale – and then return to do more work. Me tired. The editor suggested going to the pub, but my spirits are flagging too much for such fun times – it would be a waste of an evening out.

    You know, I fully expect next year to be even weirder than this year – how could it not be?

    Oh, the mysterious machine has become necessary in order for me to keep up with the tree dudes who are frankly setting a cracking pace due to more frequent visits due to wider economic circumstances. Such is life. Adapt!

    Unfortunately the chugger guy who accosted me was not personable. If a person can make a living in such an occupation, they are to be feared for they know sales techniques. Oh yeah.

    You are so busted! Hehe! Don’t worry about it, everyone tells me that story – dunno why? Mate, it is all about the plants, the soils and the learnings. Yup – that last one might not even be proper English, but you get the gist of what I’m rabbiting on about.

    In the past, I’d thought that about rhubarb too, but no it is the opposite. Jello is made of bones and down here we used to call it gelatin. Jelly used to be dessert way back in the day, and who can forget a proper trifle? Oh my gawd those are good. Definitely a total disaster for the pulmonary system, but what the heck, it’s tasty as. Nobody eats jelly down here in these enlightened times. No doubt the bones get turned out onto the fields as blood and bone – used to work near a factory that produced that stuff. An interesting aroma.

    I had a very late lunch today, and blood sugar was low and I was crossing this massive bridge which was at least 165ft above the river and I started getting this awful sensation of: gee this is way high above the ground… Unpleasant, and yes I doubt that like good wines we get better as we age!

    Of course, the European poppies seen down here are generally red, but yes I have seen images of the pink variety. The red poppies are often associated with WWI.

    Exactly, even the most disciplined will when put in such decade long circumstances might get a little bit lonely and/or frisky!

    Me neither barbeques and/or gourmet cooking, well it ain’t for the likes of us. It interests me that Ruth Goodman has a background in food and food history. I’m so looking forward to reading this book.

    Lewis, H is a lady of the finest pedigree (or at least we can pretend that it is so) and as such she would never deign to leave a poo dag on her rear. The fluffy tail might just hide it, and the dag can be dealt with quietly and in private – and thus the world would never be aware of the social faux pas.

    Good stuff, and H’s motivation does her proud. Lifting spirits is a worthwhile activity. Did you get to see the planets? Still socked in with thick low cloud here.

    Oh, an ex-military chaplain would have seen a thing or two in their time. An interesting and very clever choice. It makes you wonder if they have a wider world view than their peers? Dunno.

    Really? It never would have occurred to me to freeze and then defrost a banana. The fruits cell walls break during the defrosting process so yeah, mush… Do they sell bananas ripe or green in your part of the world? Bananas used to have flavour when I was a kid, but nowadays they have very little flavour.

    Yes, the bookshelves I mentioned a few weeks ago might have come from that behemoth. Did they really need to be $10 cheaper – and have cardboard backing? Did you ask for that? I sure didn’t. Well we are in the great relocalisation, but if prior obligations can’t be chucked to the wind in the new times, things are going to end badly. The margin calls during the crash of 1929 and subsequent years was what took out the economy, the buildings and productive capacity where still there. They weren’t destroyed.



  35. Hi DJ,

    Lucky you. For me the siren call was strong and many a hoard of mad cash was lost on those arcade game machines. On the other hand, it is far better to have learned the experience at such a young age, recover from it all, and then put the lessons learned to future good use.

    Yeah, that’s my thinking too. Lewis may possibly suggest that the Roman’s believed that rocks were where they are because that is where they are at. There is logic to that logic, you may admit. 🙂

    Out of curiosity was the alley originally used by the night soil carts way back in the day? Alleys are rarely seen in post WWII areas down here, but then main sewers had begun to be installed after epic cholera and typhoid outbreaks from about the 1890’s onwards.

    Exactly, I’d rather hear unpleasant news than run from it screaming having pretended not to have heard it in the first place. One can always hear the news, and then make one’s own mind up as to the veracity. Of course I freely acknowledge that you, I or the news could well be wrong in any assertion. It’s possible.

    I’m training the two pups to the lead and to walk in a pack. They’ll get there, and I find that the walk is good for clearing my own head. Starting three weeks of holidays tomorrow. Yay! In the past three years I’ve only had about one week off work, and until this year I have not been bothered by that. But the emotional load from everyone this year has worn me down a fair bit. My resources are not unlimited, unfortunately. Of course I may just have accidentally dropped the ring of power behind the couch!

    Good stuff with the viewing of Jupiter and Saturn. Still socked in with thick low cloud tonight. Oh well. How far away could the planet get in only a few days…



  36. Hi Simon,

    Costante is good, and it is also a fun experience. The older bloke took me around the store, and they have some serious equipment, as well as the more approachable stuff. They used to run classes too on various topics of interest.

    Yeah, look I’m not a betting man, but if I were, the odds in favour of the magpies candidly is not good. Have you thought of getting a slingshot in order to assist the magpies? Cockatoos live for a long time, and have long memories.

    You misremember. No worries and it is worth trying all manner of mulches for the bedding straw and run. Sugar cane mulch is what I advised and use, and it is readily available in large square compressed bags for about maybe $15 a bag. By way of contrast, the chickens can kick around pea straw really effortlessly. Tried it and all I ended up with was sweet pea vines growing about the farm.

    At a guess lucerne hay would suffer the same fate as the pea straw except you’d get alfalfa growing in early spring – like the sweet peas, not a bad outcome from a nitrogen fixing perspective, but do you want that in your garden? Lucerne is a super hardy plant with extraordinarily deep root systems which can apparently break up clay.

    I’m watching the NSW situation with a sense of dread and foreboding. I was speaking today with a bloke I know in the big smoke who was hoping to travel up to the north coast of NSW for the holidays. A complicated choice with uncertain end points. Not sure I’d make that choice, and said as much.

    I’ve long wondered whether reducing the movement of people around the country and world is all part of this narrative. What do you reckon about that possibility?



  37. Hi Damo,

    Thanks for asking, and nah. The atmospheric river has brought rain, thick clouds and winter like conditions. Even now outside the sky is completely obscured. Did you get a clear view of the planets?

    Ah so you did, binoculars! I assume they arrived with your container of stuff? 🙂

    Hey, the other day someone asked about the D-SLR camera and a quick virtual trip into ebuy land showed some amazing second hand lens for super cheap buys. The best lens I’ve got is 300, and one of the choices was up to 2,600! 🙂 Bonkers.

    Have you ever owned a telescope? They’re kind of handy at such times. There are some awesome photos going around: Jupiter and Saturn’s great conjunction is today! When someone lives in a winter wonderland which is meant to be in summer, one must enjoy stories of clear skies vicariously!

    Thanks, and a three week break is needed. The emotional load this year has been heavy going. How long did you get off work? And total respect for your slippery ways. 🙂 Hehe!

    Years ago as a really young bloke, with some house mates we went on a massive drinking bender one work night. This was an error of judgement of the first degree, because when I finally went to bed I’d neglected to set the alarm. Yeah, not good. Anyway woke up late the following morning, and set off to work and wasn’t missed. One group of people thought I was in another location, and at that particular location they thought I was at the other location. Confusion sometimes assists, and note to self: set alarm earlier. Oh well, I probably needed the sleep in. Anyway it all goes to prove that benders are bad.



  38. Good afternoon!

    Dear Lady Ruby (how you shine in my heart!) and Lady Plum (no less dear, but in a different more sisterly way).

    I read that you are now under going that odd and seemingly pointless ritual of ‘lead training’.

    Ah, the delusions of humans! As if we could ever be, in our wild doggy hearts, ‘trained’! But we love them all the same, don’t we? They are well-meaning , if somewhat simple creatures. And the are our meal ticket, so one must be accommodating and grateful.

    Here’s my tip: it’s irksome, and irrational (dogs are made to wander after all!) but exert self-control and be utterly obedient. Amaze them.

    Don’t pull or try to chew the leads to bits, as might be your first very natural inclination. Let them think they’ve got you just where they want you.

    Be patient, because ‘victory comes with patience and cunning’ , as that wise old dog Bow-Tzu once wrote……

    And then, when they have relaxed their guard, gather the leads up rapidly in your mouths – I know my clever friends can do it – and run about where ever you please!

    Technically, you will still be ‘on the lead’. Whether you will have broken their law at that point is a highly technical and ambiguous point.

    This works for me every time every time I feel the need to reassert my natural superiority.

    Furry hugs, and a special – but still respectful -smooch (I can only dream!) for you, Ruby. And noble salutations to Ollie, who is well on his way to Knighthood!

    Sir Sancho Dog.

    PS I notice that humans are being muzzled and, in a way, put on leads these days,all over the world, by people who are probably not so well-meaning as Chris and the Editor, and my advice to them is the same: pick them up and RUN! Merry Xmas! (Which is now more or less banned here in what once was ‘Merrie Olde Englande’. Something in all of this going on in the human world stinks like fox droppings to me…….

  39. Hi Chris
    Sorry for the use of the “wallwart” term. That is fairly common for small power supplies that plug in to house power voltage wall receptacles commonly black in color and a style blot on the room wall. They functionally range from ac transformers to precision dc medical device certified power supplies. Also come in levels of electrical safety ratings. 😁😁

    The the store : Walmart has a really wide range of mostly derogatory names the kindest is probably Wally World.

    In a similar instance you inquired about the US number of “Hot Spots” in the usage for nuclear power plants.
    Here is very good source for that topic : the Energy Information Agency US Government
    Too Much Information TMI 😁😁😁😁😁hee hee .
    The confusion of meanings is one of the things that makes your Blog so much fun!!’

    cheers and Happy Holidays

  40. Chris a few more items.

    My Little LiFePO4 12 volt was pretty well recommended
    In the Amazoom product ratings . There is an active group of lithium battery experimenters. Way more knowledgeable and better equipped than imaginable. In the latest dated comments my model did pretty well. One person received a bad one then took 20 minutes to safely disembowel it and fix a BMS wire that had got loose and revived the battery. Which then tested to be better than spec. Pretty brave ? At least confident.
    I’m hoping that my cheap 20 amp charge controller is a winner.😁

    Another unrelated topic
    Your upcoming FM Tuner adventure:
    If the unit is older analogue tech ,RF/IF alignment requires pretty good test equipment.
    Digital: failure of power supply , failed semiconductor devices, simple stuff. Digital tunning. Is kind of go no go.
    If you need RF test gear. You can probably rent or maybe borrow
    from people who are in the businesses. Good luck on the repairs. you have my upmost confidence and respect

    Cheers Al

  41. Hello Chris
    Strawberry jam:-
    1lb strawberries
    14ozs sugar
    juice of 1 lemon

    This is the recipe that I used to use but I concede that using frozen strawberries may make a difference.

    Son has just brought me a chicken casserole for supper.


  42. @ Damo – I’ll check out “Utopia”. I doubt our library still has it, but, maybe, if it catches my imagination, I can get it on an interlibrary loan.

    I finally wised up, and now check to see if something comes in multiple parts. Teen dystopian movies are particularly bad, for that. Now I just wait til they’re all out, then give them a go.

    You know, I waited anxiously, for our library to get “The Great British Bake Off.” They did, I got it and … was just kind of disappointed. Made it through an episode or two, and tossed it back. Maybe it’s the competitive aspect of it? The elaborate recipies? But, I bought the complete “Two Fat Ladies” series. Now those, I like! Lew

  43. Yo, Chris – My mom was from a little town called New York Mills, Minnesota. Population 1,000 in 1900. Ditto, 1930. Once again, 1950. You get the picture. But, I see they’ve finally bumped it up to a barn burning 1,200. 🙂 .

    Our library doesn’t have Ruth Goodman’s, older books. 🙁 . Except the one for “Victorian Pharmacy.” Haven’t looked at it, yet. So, the others, I’ll either have to interlibrary loan, or, buy a copy.

    Well, the Mt. St. Helens toll wasn’t higher, as they’d red zoned it. But the red zone wasn’t quit large enough. And, there were people in the red zone, who shouldn’t have been there. Those notorious back roads, you mentioned. The governor, at the time, was under tremendous pressure to re-open the mountain. Hmmm. Sounds kind of familiar. The morning of the blast, there was a whole caravan of people, who they were going to let in to check on their cabins. They were going to open it up at 10am. The blast was just before 9. Also, it was a Sunday. The next day, there would have been many more loggers, working in the woods.

    Your wise to take a break. This year has been …. how did The Queen, put it? “Annus horribilis.” It may have even taken more of an emotional toll on you, than you realize. Looks like your going to have a lot of harvests coming in, in short order. That will clear the head. And stock the larder.

    The occasional shock to the pulmonary system might not be an entirely bad thing. Might wake things up a bit. “OK, you slackers, things have been good, but don’t count on it being that way, all the time!” 🙂 .

    There is a bridge like that, up in Olympia. I’d have to cross it, twice a week, or so. Made me pretty squirrely.

    Dag. AKA dingleberries. 🙂 .

    Given our short days, when I take H out at 4:45 pm, the sun has just set. Optimum time to see the astral show. It was fairly clear, yesterday, but at that time there were clouds on the horizon. And, the show, here, is just above the horizon. So, well … Later in the evening, I saw two very bright stars, in that part of the sky. But by then, they had drifted apart. Maybe tonight?

    It was a steady 32F (-0-C) all night. Supposed to get a bit colder, tonight.

    Usually, a display of bananas, here, has a selection of green, and also riper bananas. Your right, they’re kind of bland. I think the organic ones are a bit more tasty, but that might be my imagination. More expensive, too. If you freeze a banana, be sure and thaw it on a plate. They tend to leak.

    The two fruit presses auction starts in 3 hours. I checked the prices, just to see how they’re doing. The classic wood and cast iron one has several bids, and is up to $60. I’m sure it will go higher. The other one is an odd design, and badly rusted. It’s like a can (I presume perforated) inside another can. With the cast iron screw. Very rusty. Included with it is one of the glass jar butter churns, with the wooden paddles. Those have several bids, but are only up to $22.

    The local auction is having there annual, New Year’s Day Antique Auction. But only on-line, this year. Didn’t see anything that (luckily) made me crazy. But there are two of the lawyers book cases we were talking about. They don’t match, so, they’re separate lots. Sometimes, in those units (but not these) the top unit has leaded glass, in a pattern. Those, are really nice! Lew

  44. Chris:

    We had only the living room fireplace for heat; it was quite adequate as long as we wore more clothes than usual. We would have used the woodstove in the basement as well, but it is in the midst of a repair job.

    Buying rocks for gabion cages – at first I thought “How silly.” Then I remembered that we buy gravel for our driveway and paths and certainly many people buy stone for projects like walls. I forget that not everybody is blessed to live in Stony Point.

    Have you bought another Mystery Machine, Scooby?

    “Can a person or society even progress backwards?” I would say – certainly. Years ago I saw a descriptive phrase used for “back-to-the-landers”: Progressive Throwbacks.

    I have finally been reading Ruth Goodman’s “Edwardian Farm”. I had to wait till it aired out for quite awhile as when it arrived (as secondhand) it reeked of some kind of room spray. That stuff gives me a headache. I am enjoying it very much and all the beautiful photos are in color.


  45. Hello Chris,

    You really take on the big questions. What is sustainable??

    Indeed, only activities that can go on in the millennia, or as observed in the book “40 centuries of farming”, the proof is in what we still do a few millennia later.
    I am a bit shy of the “permaculture principles” that suggest that it is possible to ‘design’ for sustainability. I don’t think we are clever enough to understand the ramifications and unintended consequences of our actions, even if they are guided by the best of intentions. (but I like very much the book RetroSuburbia)

    I often cringe when I hear “sustainability professionals” talk, and the worst of the kind are the municipal “sustainability coordinators” in our town and the nearby city with whom I have interacted for the last few years. I mistakenly enrolled myself to help organize a “Sustainability Festival” in our town, where everyone was welcome. Every little helps, was the philosophy, so the car dealer showed his hybrid SUVs and we had some solar panels (mounted away from the sun)…

    “Greenwashing” is a very polite term, where I would usually use lying or fibbing. Why are we so polite when it comes to those who undermine our future?

    The professionals I talk to are bound by their own imagination and the limits of what is culturally acceptable in their organizations, which is not very much. They sometimes feel torn, but usually side with the organization, not to jeopardize the monthly paycheck.

    Very little of what I do is sustainable in the 1000-year sense. I guess growing potatoes will stay the same, and my compost toilet will still work, but not much else.

    I am thinking a lot about will still work 10 years from now, and 100 years from now. It is quite difficult to imagine scenarios where internet for billions of people would work much longer than 10 years in the shape we have today.
    Even more difficult is to imagine potential availability of tools, energy, a legal system and a money system that works. Some days, I think it will be gone next year, but some days I expect it to hang around at least my life time. Anyways, I try to build resilience and reduce our dependency on the Machine.

    You hit it on the nail regarding the New Year. I also think that 2021 will continue our roller coaster ride towards hyperinflation and further breakdown of industrial civilization as we know it, especially on the fringes. Several countries on the edge of Europe experience already 10%+ official inflation this year, and it will likely accelerate. (official inflation is typically half of what normal people experience, since several items are excluded). At the same time unemployment grows quickly.

    Let’s enjoy the ride!


  46. Hi Chris,

    Unfortunately Mike could not get the telescope set up so I could see either planet before the Zoom dulcimer concert began. The aforementioned concert was three hours of Christmas music presented on each of the past three days. I paid to watch all nine hours so I was determined to watch all nine hours. The concert began at 5:30pm, maybe 10 or 15 minutes before it became dark enough to see the planets with our eyes. The planets were not far above the roof-line of the houses across the street at that time and were heading lower. On top of that, dinnertime was approaching. While Mike did see at least one of the planets if not both through the telescope, the least bit of jiggling moved it enough to lose the aim, so I did not see them before the concert. The concert ended long after the planets were no longer visible. But at least we saw both planets with our very own eyes. Today we can’t as it is raining.

    Definitely look for the planets once the sky clears! Neither planet moves rapidly. You’ll get nearly as good a view of them over the next several days as you would have on the day of the conjunction.

    You may ask, why was I so intent on watching the dulcimer concert? First, because I play the mountain dulcimer, one of the featured instruments. Second, because it was a QuaranTUNE ( event to bring together players and teachers so that we players can continue to learn and the teachers can make some money teaching while that which cannot be named prevents us from attending the various festivals that would otherwise be offered. Besides getting to hear real Christmas music played on my favorite instrument, I was supporting many teachers who I have taken workshops from at past festivals.


  47. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. Unfortunately it is Christmas eve today and so I’ll be unable to reply this evening. However, due to the health subject which dares not be named, my Christmas plans have been derailed, so there should be plenty of time to reply tomorrow. It happens.

    Until then! Happy days, Merry Christmas and hope the holiday is kind to you and yours.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    The town sounds an awful lot like the small town in the novel Empire Falls. What, there are at least two towns with that name. The state was not added and so I read about the town of the same name in New York. The shutdown of three mills which had operated for almost 150 years must have gutted the towns economy. I can well understand the urge to move west. Surprisingly, the towns population has remained remarkably stable. But Minnesota would be way colder I’m guessing. A lot of lakes and a lot of small holdings.

    I was reading the book ‘Victorian Farm’ this morning and the archaeologists were providing some historical background to the era, and for the rural areas it sure was tough. And population growth had clearly outstripped local resources despite innovations and machinery and it only took a few bad wheat harvests for tariffs and protections to be removed and then foreign agricultural produce swamped the UK. That’s good for city folks who need to be fed, but hard on rural economies who’s income suddenly plummets.

    I’ll probably read the book and then watch the show. That way it will lend more clarity to the series.

    ‘Checking on their cabins’ sounds like weasel words for wanting a closer look of the volcanic action. They’d be dead now I’m guessing – and I noted that many of the bodies were never recovered. Some disasters you can survive, that might not be one of them though.

    It’s really cold here tonight. Brr. Saturday and Sunday will warm up before the weather turns cold again.

    Yes, the Queen called it correctly. Could things get worse? Maybe. Exactly, the full extent as to how much energy I’ve given over the past nine months is unknown to me. Dunno really and have no way to gauge it all. Anyway, the break will be good.

    Had to do some admin stuff this morning which included going shopping. I’d put that job off a few days ago because something had to give, and this morning was feral. Hindsight is a wonderful thing. Made up for all that with a gourmet pie, and fell asleep this afternoon for a quick recharge the batteries nap.

    Have stuff to do tonight, but tomorrow’s plans were shot to hell weeks ago. That’s cool, these things happen and so we plan to have a super chill day tomorrow. I plan to assemble the mystery machine.

    Also a courier this afternoon dropped off the spare huge battery which had been on back order for months. Wasn’t entirely sure that the battery would ever arrive.

    Well yes, a gourmet chicken pie would certainly shock the pulmonary system. Take that ya arteries. Did you ever get around to road testing the English pie place again?

    Never felt that uncertainty before about the huge bridge, but it is an unpleasant feeling that’s for sure. Put it down to low blood sugar levels as it was late afternoon and I missed lunch. I have to eat fairly regularly…

    Of course, a dag refers also to a person. You used to hear that said when I was a kid, but not so more these days. The usage would be: That persons a bit of a dag (dowdy presentation and socially awkward demeanour). But I see in your country the word is the equivalent of the New Zealand slang term: ‘numpty’. As in: That person is a bit of a numpty (foolish person)

    Did you get a better view of the planets last night? Still cloudy here. And it is cold here, but far out: It’s way colder in your part of the world. Brr!

    Interesting about the selection of bananas on offer for sale. Down here, the displays of bananas for sale are fruit of the same degree of ripeness or over ripeness – and you never know which it will be. Organic bananas are sometimes seen – and yes they are more expensive here too, and they’ll usually be dipped in red wax at one end of the fruit so as to distinguish them. And the smaller lady finger variety of bananas are often seen for sale. I find that particular variety to be a bit starchy for my tastes, but it has been a long while.

    Bizarre. You just sent me on a rabbit hole as to whether using rusty kitchenware presented a tetanus risk. I’ve seen those metal can inside a metal can fruit press machines. They work from what I can tell. Not sure anyone wants the taste of rusty metal in their food. That is a hard sell.

    Dunno about you, but the lack of symmetry with the two lawyers bookcases would be a deal killer for me. I guess it depends on where they’d be used in your case, but here they would be in the hallway facing each other and so it would look odd if they were no symmetrical. A proper face off perhaps?

    I assume your inmate lot aren’t doing any potlucks due to the current health subject which dare not be named?



  49. Hey Chris,

    I wish the magpies would chase away the cockatoos here. Had five of them show up before. I’ve put the nets up but I can’t see those nets holding up against determined cockatoos. I once saw a cockatoo chewing through metal. Looks like my apple harvest is in danger. I’m home most of the time now but it’ll only take one afternoon for a gang of cockatoos to clean the trees out if I’m not home. I’ll need some luck.

    Pretty sure western governments are currently conditioning the population to accept a lower standard of living. It’s the inevitable outcome at this point but it’s made much worse by globalisation. Say what you will about Trump, he was the first one to push back against it and he was against it right from the start if you look back on his interviews from the 80s. I remember in the 90s there were protests against globalisation and several thinkers who predicted exactly what has happened. The whole thing is clearly broken but I think the system is way too complex and nobody knows how to fix it. Fortunately, China needs us as much as we need them so it’s a kind of mutually assured destruction situation right now.

  50. @ Inge:

    Thanks so much for the strawberry jam recipe. Do you can or bottle it?

    I love chicken casserole, of pretty much any sort.


  51. Yo, Chris – New York Mills is in Otter Tail County, Minnesota. It borders North Dakota. It’s an area where the lakes and forests begin to peter out, and the prairies begin. Two completely different ecosystems. I read the last chapter of Kunstler’s book, “Living in the Long Emergency,” last night. Where he talks about the little town he moved to, ten years ago. The ruins of the mills and railroads that used to be there.

    I put the book “Victorian Farm” on interlibrary loan, yesterday. A strange experience. The library has off loaded some of the ILL process, to OCLC (Online Computer Library Center). They’ve been around for awhile, and do most of the cataloguing for libraries, these days. The access point is very hard to find, on our libraries web site. Once found, the form isn’t too hard to fill out. But, when I hit “submit” I got a message that said, “Oops! Something Went Wrong.” Well, that’s enlightening. About an hour later, I got an e-mail from my library system saying, “Your ILL request has been received.” So, is it, or isn’t it, in process? Time will tell.

    In one of those odd bit of circumstances, I was reading a bit more of “Fixation”, last night. A chapter on how America used to be a country of “makers and fixers.” The “Farm” series was mentioned. But, no mention of Ms. Goodman, at all. They talked about Alex Langlands, the archaeologist on the show. Apparently, he has a book called “Craeft”, which I’ll have to look into. Ah! My library system has three copies of it. I just put a hold, on it.

    I also started dipping into a book last night, titled “The Best American Food Writing, 2020.” You may remember Inge’s father was instrumental in getting a series started (Best American Short Stories of ____. Best American Plays of ___. Etc.) Well, it’s been expanded a bit. Now there’s “Best American (Essays, Mystery Stories, Science and Nature, Science Fiction and Fantasy, Sports Writing, Travel Writing) of ____.

    The introduction and forward (written by two different editors) said it was a bit of a time capsule, as the pieces had been written before You Know What. And that next year’s offering will probably be quit different. The articles are collected from blogs, magazines and newspapers. Some, I have no interest in, at all. Don’t think I need to know the current state of baby food. And some are over the top SJW screeds. Skip those, too.

    Yesterday, the temperature gage apparently went down, at our local weather station. So, I have no idea how cold it got, last night. But another source said it was 27F (-2.77C) at 10am, this morning. One more cold night (-0-C) and then the rain and warmer temperatures are back for a few days. Then, back to clear and cold. Who do I sue for whiplash? 🙂 . I guess there was freezing fog, last night.

    No plans for Christmas Day, here. I might cook something. Or, just spend the day veging out.

    Go, battery! I suppose you could look on it as a Christmas gift? Or, a Christmas miracle that it arrived?

    I must also watch my blood sugar levels. The least bit of exertion, and I’d better have something in my stomach. Otherwise, it’s the Dizzy Shakes, which could be hazardous to life and limb. “Listen to the body,” and all that.

    I may (or may not) have seen the planets doing their tango, last night. Had two potential candidates, and was going to check them later to see if they had separated, but the fog rolled in. 🙁 .

    More oddness from the Land Down Under. Dipping the ends of organic bananas in red wax? Here, they just put little stickers on them.

    About the only difference from the one set of lawyers bookcases, and the other, is that one has small feet under it, and the other sits directly on the floor. I suppose you could knock the feet off of one set.

    Another point made about the Big Behemoth Furniture Company is that they off loaded assembly costs on the customer. And also enabled them to ship things in “flat packs” and save oodles (a highly scientific and technical term) on shipping. I feel so dirty and used! Not that I’ve ever bought anything from them. Lew

  52. Hi Lewis,

    I accidentally read your reference as ‘Otter Tail Country’ before noting that you’d written the word ‘County’. A bit of a difference to be sure, and I’d imagine that the Otters would be unhappy about losing their tails? Ah, I see the area was so named after a lake which looks somewhat like an otters tail. That makes sense. The area would be interesting to visit, and often places which are on the transitional edge of ecosystems are far more interesting and diverse places than more ecologically stable environments.

    Didn’t really sleep in this morning as a bird crashed into the security mesh covering the bedroom window. It is hard to sleep through such a crash sound, but I’d imagine the bird felt far worse for wear. Surprisingly the birds mostly recover from such an impact. Not sure why they’d not see the house and window, but all the same the bird did.

    It was interesting learning of Mr Kunstler’s journey to get to where he is today and also some of the choices which lead him there. Such stories are on people’s minds. As an example it is very hard for me to not talk about such things when I’m speaking with people who want to get some land of their own. I put it all down to basic human curiosity, which people have to a greater or lesser extent. And one of Mr Kunstler’s blogs a few months ago made quite the impression on me when he took the readers for a walk around an abandoned local hospital.

    The library service is apparently a non-profit mob. Hmm. The head office building is huge – and those things ain’t cheap to run. Maybe it is just me, but libraries by their very nature are decentralised stores of written words. Concentrated and centralised activity seems to me to be the opposite outcome, and I do wonder as to its general desirability and resilience. I’m no expert though.

    The three central characters in Victorian Farm are my kind of people – yes, makers and fixers. General passivity in the population might be explained to a small degree because people have lost a lot of those basic skills – and/or they’re getting specialised to the nth degree. When you don’t know any better, you just accept whatever rubbish is dished up to you – or that is my take on the world.

    I discovered earlier today why the new mystery machine was competitively priced – and you’ll love this because you mentioned it later – I had to spend about five or six hours today assembling the mystery machine. I honestly doubt that many of the tools required to do that assembly job would be found in the average household – let alone the basic competence with which to wield them. On the other hand, with a bit of sweat equity you can nab heavy duty mystery machines on the cheap.

    Oh, I reckon your library item might turn up. But time will tell, that’s for sure and truer words are rarely uttered.

    Yes, I recall that Inge’s father was involved in the publishing business, but the exact details were lost to me. Baby food and SJW craziness need not intrude upon reality. Yes, yes, but were the essays you read any good? Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂

    Well you learn something new everyday. It had not occurred to me that fog and freezing temperatures could occur at the same time causing ice. Ouch! By way of comparison, Damo is enjoying 99’F today, and way over in this corner it barely reached 60’F. I had to crack out the woollen jumper tonight. Brr!

    No plans here today either. This year has been super weird, and I fully expect next year to be even weirder. How could it not be that way?

    Thanks for that, and yes the arrival of the battery was a true Christmas miracle. For all I know it maybe the last of the Mohicans? The battery voltage was 0.2V higher than expected and I had wondered if the same battery chemistry lurked beneath. Dunno, but I work with what is in front of me.

    Exactly, your body tells you what it needs. Listen to it you must! (spoken in best Yoda voice). 🙂 Long distance running as a young bloke gave me the ability to ignore such talk, but that is also a choice, and observation of others has taught me the wisdom of heading down that path.

    I fell over backwards today and was eternally grateful for the martial arts training of my youth. So, of course it was stupid, but I tugged very hard on the plastic strap on the crate for the mystery machine, when suddenly the whole lot gave way. The incident for me felt like it was in slow motion, and there was not a darned thing I could do to stop the backwards fall. When incidents strike, they give no warning.

    The little stickers on fruit are used down here too, and I often wonder about the sheer wastage of that act, but you know, it ain’t my system. The thing is the organic bananas are no doubt better, I just can’t taste the difference.

    Ah no, the editor has been most insistent about the bookshelves project and so a cabinet maker will do the work. Of course this is all many months into the future, so who really knows how it will eventuate, and yeah I could make the lawyers bookcases. Easy. Down under those style of bookcases are not a thing. But do the books in the bookshelves need protection from dust, absolutely!

    Hehe! Yeah, I spent maybe five or six hours today assembling a very complicated mystery machine. It is possible that the large enterprise mentioned in Fight Club, is up against the ropes. A few stores have closed down and now they are down to two retail spaces in this fine city. Dark tales have been told that they are possibly reluctant to pay local taxes. But you know, word about declining quality eventually gets around.



  53. Dear Sir Sancho,

    The distance between us only makes the canine longing that much harder to bear. And yes, you are so wise to pay no attention to Plum. Ignore her symmetrical smile and her beautiful up right ears. Truth to tell, well, I shall not sully her reputation with the dreadful rumours of late night encounters with strange dogs. She is my sister after all, and she should never come between true love such as ours.

    Our humans have such strange conceits. Yes, wild hearts can never be tamed. The lead is an abomination of the first, or maybe second degree. However, I must work my humans and one day I plan to leash them. Is such an ambition unbecoming of a winsome young lass?

    Your salient words of advice have only emboldened me to greater efforts of human-thwarting activities. Instructions must be adhered to, but as you sagely suggest, there is wiggle room. ‘Out of the kitchen’ that dreaded command, can only be countered by heading out of the kitchen, doubling around and returning to that source of deliciousness. Is this not in line with the spirit of those foolish human’s command?

    Cordial tail wags to you too my fine furry correspondent, and I shall look forward to the day we meet and exchange proper tail sniffs.

    And it is known that on Sunday evening, the keyboard is all mine. Hopefully you shall not think lesser of me Sir Sancho?

    Yours Sincerely

    Ruby the Kelpie.

  54. Hi Al,

    The very large LiFePO4 battery which was on back order for many months, finally arrived yesterday. Just to tease you with some specifications it has a total current storage amount 306A at about 14V! It’s big…

    The odd thing was that it arrived at 0.2V higher than what the other batteries were at, but it is possible that the large battery hasn’t discharged as much in storage as the older batteries. I’m guessing it was probably manufactured fairly recently (unlike the other batteries). What do you reckon about that theory?

    Yes, I’m giving thought to the BMS systems. All other considerations to the side, it is another added layer of complexity to go wrong when it is least expected. Thus my desire to get my hands on another spare battery which can be swapped in if and when needed.

    Time will tell with your charge controller, but the battery voltage will be the telling story and it should be fairly stable, although the voltage does rise quickly due to low internal resistance. The charge controllers here are locally made units (very heavy duty) that are programmable. What you don’t know is whether the program in your controller is fine with the battery chemistry you have. Honestly, it will probably be fine.

    Thank you for the suggestion re the tuner. I shall do what I can with the electronics in the tuner, but there is a shop I know of in Melbourne who can finish off the finer points of the job. For your info the tuner is a Yamaha T-80: Yamaha FM tuners.

    Really sorry about the rabbit hole!

    And yes, that is way too much TMI for me in relation to hot spots. My mind boggles…

    Hehe! Tell ya a little secret: As a kid I was exposed to way too much UK visual media. Yes, talking around a subject is a fine art indeed!



  55. Hi Inge,

    Merry Christmas to you and your family.

    We use a very similar recipe, but with a 1:1 ratio of fruit to raw cane sugar. The interaction between the acidity and the pectin is also a very complex thing.

    At this stage, I’m thinking that as you suggest, the freezing process reduces the pectin in the fruit. In future years I’ll make my own pectin from the many unripe and tart apples, but right now I need a bit of assistance to take some load off my shoulders.



  56. Hello Chris
    The 1:1 ratio of fruit to sugar is what I would use for most fruits but strawberries are an exception. So it is just possible that that is your only mistake.
    A white frost here this morning.


  57. @ Pam
    I didn’t understand your can or bottle question. The jam goes into a jam jar i.e. as one buys it in a shop.


  58. Hi Pam,

    I’m reading Ruth Goodman’s most excellent book ‘Victorian Farm’ and the folks in the book endured winters in a similar manner to what you have just experienced – i.e. they were enjoying the kitchen, or living room in your particular circumstance. Hope the repairs get completed soon.

    Hey, we recently picked up a couple of Queen sized woollen blankets for $18 each. Bonkers. New, the blankets would have cost well over $700 each. The waste in our society makes little sense to me.

    It ain’t just you! 🙂 The locally quarried crushed rock with lime comes from a nearby quarry, but I have to purchase the stuff and haul it back here. Lime is not to be found here. There are times I do just like you, and bring such loads of crushed rock back for the paths and roads. Dunno about you, I’ve long had the suspicion that the plants are slowly consuming the lime paths.

    The new mystery machine took about five or maybe six hours of wrangling today to assemble. I’d wondered why such a heavy duty bit of equipment was so well priced, now I know. I’m pretty handy with machines and tools and so during the course of the day I began wondering how folks would fare with such a machine in such a state.

    Nothing wrong with the back to the landers, although few kept the course required to build the skills. The siren songs of goodies and fun experiences was forever dangled before them and the valiant and true fell one by one, till few remained. That era has long been of fascination to me.

    Pam! Yuk! A true horror – a stinky book! But not stinky of natural causes… There are times where I am quietly enjoying my coffee and fruit toast when a person unbeknownst to me, saunters past where I am seated, and their essence, whether it is perfume or aftershave, lingers long in the air. Unfortunately such heavy handed usage has been known to compromise the taste of my coffee and fruit toast, but social niceties being what they are, I am unable to complain and eventually the scents dissipate. And can you imagine how a dog, who has umpteen times the olfactory nerves would perceive such an incident? Yikes!



  59. Hi Goran,

    In between talk of dogs, obstreperous personal encounters, and other assorted re-telling’s of possibly salient memories from the dark past, sometimes we do hit the really big issues here! 😉

    The words in Farmers of Forty Centuries has a lot to say to us all, even today. Flushing perfectly good minerals out to sea, even after processing is such an odd agricultural response. When combined with fencing from wildlife and selling off any and all of the produce from agricultural land, well, it is recipe for disaster. The other game in town is building the fertility in soils – and there is so much waste nowadays that this is easy to achieve – not so easy if the water table is high though. If nothing went to waste, wow, things would be very tough on that soil fertility building story.

    Mate, neither am I dogmatic. The best advice is to source as many different approaches as you are able too, and then experiment and work out what works best in your part of the world. Food forests for one example, do not work well here because most of the year the humidity is too high, plus there are the rats. Adapt what you learn is the best approach!

    I met David a few years ago as he doesn’t live very far from here. His place is amazing. As to the book, it is a nice idea, but take a look around your area and take note of just how many roof spaces were constructed with solar panels in mind. It is an instructive exercise.

    Exactly, I’ve known people to install solar panels on the side of their house rather than where they would do the most good at the front. If it makes no sense, it probably doesn’t make much sense.

    Dunno about you, but I’ve been recently considering that it is the biological systems which reproduce themselves – with or without or assistance – which have the greatest hope of surviving such long time scales. But then there are ideas and culture too, such as germ theory for one example which are worth transmitting forward to the future, but I have my doubts about the possibility of such things occurring.

    The thing is we have a huge store of built capital (in the literal and figurative sense of that word) and so my gut feeling is that it will be a slow and gradual decline, punctuated by periods of stability, maybe partial recovery, and then drop again to a new lower level. It’s a long process, but insulating yourself from some of the worst aspects is not a bad idea. Dunno about your part of the world, but very few people know much about raising food crops down here. It’s embarrassing!



  60. Hi Claire,

    Oh wow, that’s really sweet. A zoom dulcimer concert. Did you enjoy the music?

    As an old campaigner myself, dinner is also of considerable importance. I get that. Good to hear that you saw the planets. When my mate cracked out the telescope to watch Mars in a close orbit, it was astounding to see how quickly the planet shot out of the view of the telescope. And yeah a sudden knock of the telescope would not be easily fixed.

    Today was another super cloudy day. That’s an El Nino year for you. It barely surpassed 15’C / 60’F today, although when the sun shone down with Extreme UV, it sure felt warm. Last year the bushfires in the far east of this state along with hot weather were epic and reported upon around the world. I’m not sure you want to ever experience such climate variability.

    Plants are growing slowly in the garden this year – due to the climate. I’m hearing reports of this from other sources. Without the greenhouse things would be dire…

    I read your blog essay this morning over breakfast, and really enjoyed your words and am cogitating upon a reply comment.

    Quarantunes have been a feature down here too. And the muso’s in this state and most especially in the city of Melbourne have copped it very hard this year. The industry is in tatters. If you can indulge me a little bit, some of the local muso’s have been working away hard at quarantunes produced in a matter of days.

    The power couple comprising the artist Ali Barter and her partner Oscar Dawson (one half of the band Holy Holy) who is incidentally a producer and I believe also a guitar virtuoso, produced an amusing song: Coronavirus song – Four Days – Ali Barter, Oscar Dawson. Four days it is worth noting, went on to become many months.

    And the feelings really hit me hard when I heard local band: Slowly Slowly – Melbourne. I frequent some of the places spoken of in the song.

    It has been one crazy ol’ year, and if we’re really lucky, possibly next year will be even crazier.



  61. Hi Simon,

    Have you considered making some nesting boxes specifically sized for the magpies? Ah, it looks as though they have specific needs, but they will protect your territory – or their territory, from their perspective.

    Found a really interesting article on the birds: Magpies can form friendships with people – here’s how. How clever are they, and they don’t eat your fruit, but clean up the garden pests.

    I see people feeding Cockatoos and you have to ask the hard question: What will be the repercussions when you stop feeding the birds? But yeah, a Cockatoo ate through a solar power cable on a shed roof many long years ago – nothing else could have done that.

    It might surprise you, but I don’t have a lot of experience with bird netting. The only enclosure protected from the birds is the strawberry / grape enclosure – and that thing is like an impenetrable fortress.

    Exactly. That was beautifully written. Exactly. Mate, it is truly the strangest thing to encounter someone down here that has strong emotions about the current US president. Like what? Where did you get those feelings from? Bonkers.

    And yup, the land of stuff, might not need coal or wine, or a whole bunch of other stuff, but I’m pretty certain they want the gas and the iron ore. Half of all calories on peoples plates now come via way of gas – and they’d be no different.

    Hope you are having a nice Christmas.



  62. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for coming back to this matter. I’d noticed the imperial measurements and was wondering about the difference in weight. Hmm. I shall mention this to the editor and we might run some experiments.

    Hope you are having a lovely Christmas.



  63. Yo, Chris – MERRY CHRISTMAS!!! (Well, I’m glad that’s over, for another year.) The temperature gage is still down, at the airport. I suppose, what with the holiday and week-end, it won’t get fixed for awhile. All the other gages seem to be working. It started to rain, this morning, the the temperature is already noticeably warmer. And, as a special Christmas gift, our county hit 2,000 cases of You Know What, on Christmas Eve. Grump, grump, grump.

    Where I lived before, the birds used to smash into the windows, from time to time. Never found a dead bird. They must be pretty resilient. But not often in the early AM. No, early AM bird activity was often woodpeckers, going at the cedar siding. Don’t they know people are trying to sleep? 🙂 .

    My friends in Idaho’s, daughter, may be listing an off-the-grid property. I passed along to get a good photo shot of the solar power room. Thought you might be interested. I’ll let you know if she gets the listing, and when it gets posted.

    When libraries started outsourcing the bulk of their cataloguing to OCLC, all the old time cataloguers and support staff disappeared. The old card catalogues disappeared, too. Sigh. I figure it won’t take to long to get a copy of “Victorian Farm.” I figure there’s probably a copy in Portland or Seattle. Ooops! I just checked and it doesn’t look like there’s any print copies, in the US! There are DVD copies, in Oregon and Iowa. Hmmm. Only about 12 years old. Plenty of cheap copies, available at the usual online sources.

    Re: The Mystery Machine. Was there a manual? Was it in English? Were there any part left over? 🙂 .

    I haven’t read any more of the essays in “Best Food Writing, 2020.” Was busy watching DVDs, last night. More on that, later.

    “as a young bloke”. That’s the operative term. 🙂 . LOL. Yesterday, I turned suddenly in the kitchen, and almost fell over. Well, that’s something new. Also, for future reference, when you finally have to resort to reading glasses, do not attempt to get up and walk with them on. It can be dangerous … As far as yanking on things, and suddenly find yourself, flat on your back, staring at blue sky, I did that twice, pulling blackberries. Finally trained myself to brace one foot behind, before attempting such feats. Sigh. So much to remember to avoid coming to a bad end.

    Well, the lawyer’s book cases are all fine and good, but not so flexible when it comes to height and depth of books. I’ll probably watch the auction, as I’m curious to see how much some of the furniture goes for. There is a nice chez lounge with a half back. Something I’ve kind of had my eye out, for. But it’s a little fancier than what I was looking for. The sinuous back rail is carved in the shape of a swans head and neck. I’m sure it will go high, but, one never knows. By the way, there’s also a box of those metal shoe lasts, and forms. Be interesting to see what they go for.

    Well, last night I watched a documentary on the late 19th century American sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. I’d heard the name, but didn’t know much about him. His father was a French shoe maker, and his mother a seamstress. He was born in Dublin, and the family fled the potato famine, to America. When a young lad, he was apprenticed to a cameo maker (very popular in mid-Victorian times) and just had a natural knack for it. His family was very supportive, though poor, but managed to get him training in America, and then France and Italy.

    Then I watched “The Last Woman on Earth.” Newly re-mastered.

    Directed by Roger Corman, sometimes called “The Pope of Pop Cinema” or, “The King of Schlock.” 🙂 . But, he sure did launch a lot of famous directors and actors.

    And, to top of my evening, I watched the first episode of Ken Burn’s “Country Music.” It explored the roots of country music, the impact of the record business and radio, and had extensive bios of some of the pioneers. The Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers. I can’t say I’m a big fan, but do like some of the early stuff.

    In an odd coincidence, there was a huge explosion this morning, in Nashville, Tennessee. The capitol of country music. It was set off from a truck bomb, in front of the AT&T building. One of America’s most beloved corporations (not.) Being Christmas morning, at 6:30am, they don’t think anyone was killed, but three people were injured. The damage is pretty extensive. Lew

  64. Hello Chris,

    About RetroSuburbia – the place where I live now in the center of Netherlands is a disaster waiting to occur. Far too many people in one space. 15 million people within 1 hours drive (out of which 75% live below sea level already).
    And almost nobody knows how to grow anything.
    Super-high-volume energy-intensive greenhouses in the west produce extremely cheap beautiful produce.
    I rent an alottment (75 euro/year for 150 m2) and the fellow gardeners are 95% of foreign descent, mostly from Turkey.

    Also here, manual work has low prestige and ever more youth

    I hope to be out of here before the next crash.


  65. Hi Lewis,

    And a Merry Christmas to you too. 🙂 Likewise, it is a day that arrives with much fanfare and expectations, and usually leaves people feeling drained and lethargic. With plans in tatters due to the health subject which dare not be named, it seemed only sensible to do some quiet work around the farm yesterday. And as mentioned part of that work was assembling the new mystery machine. Discovered yesterday that the machine requires 1.2 gallons of Hydraulic Oil, so despite having no intention of leaving the farm for many days, we went to a nearby town and picked up some supplies of Hydraulic Oil. Boxing day sales are a bit of thing down here, so the shops were fairly busy, but not too crazy. With nothing else to do in the nearby town we returned back to the farm. Mission accomplished.

    It was reasonably warm today, maybe around 82’F which is quite nice really. Earlier in the day we mowed the orchards and under the summer sun it is a sweaty experience. Yup, it sure felt hot pushing that machine through the long grass.

    Your winter weather is starting to sound very nice to me! 🙂 Walking around the orchard gives a good opportunity to observe how the trees are growing and if any remedial action needs to be taken. Some of the trees are now big enough to remove from their wallaby proof cages. Those trees might just be stepping out into the big wide world over the next few weeks!

    Saw a young bird today whom had been kicked out of the nest and was struggling to fly. Went back later in the day to see if the maiden flight had taken place, but I don’t know but did see a bird on the ground which looked like a juvenile parrot. If the bird doesn’t fly – and soon – things will end badly for the young bird.

    2,000 cases is a serious matter. Are you keeping a low profile? Your county has 80,000 people, so what does that work out to. Hmm. An infection rate of every one person in forty. Do you get any statistics on how many of those cases recover?

    Oh no! Please keep your wood peckers to your country! The Sulphur Crested Cockatoos are bad enough as they’ll do a similar trick with houses. Best not to encourage the birds me thinks.

    Yes, thank you for the consideration. And I am always interested in such off grid systems. As a coincidence, a mate is moving to the island state of Tasmania and into a rural area and onto a farm. What fun the family shall have on their rural adventure. And the move was from an urban area in Melbourne. Unfortunately, the folks have been so busy with the sudden move and departure that she has forgotten that maintaining a network of contacts so as to be able to ask stupid questions without judgement when necessary is not a bad idea. I was hoping that we could catch up one last time before the family just upped sticks to new digs. Oh well, who knows what the future holds in store? Life, I have noted, and you may well agree with me, is something of a procession of people coming and going in one’s life. The lady is quite aware of peak oil and resource limits and it is rare for me to encounter such folks. Oh well.

    Out of curiosity, did any of the libraries ponder the outsourcing matter and quietly keep their card catalogues in a back room in a couple of archive boxes?

    Actually the assembly manual for the mystery machine was actually pretty good all things considered. And the drawings were legible and of the old school variety which displayed each individual component and where they were meant to end up. The manual even discussed what to do if certain assembly instructions were hard to complete. So far I’m impressed. The machine was made in the land of stuff, but the instructions even used the words: Made with pride. These are my kind of people. Incidentally, speaking of my kind of people, the book Victorian farm is a beautiful insight into a past world and the authors did not shy away from the darker eddies in society, nor did they fail to get dirt under their fingernails. Lovely people. The colour photos of the soil in their walled gardens did not fill me with hope, but despite that the crew seem to be doing really well.

    Well, yeah, the young bloke shtick is well and truly in the rear view mirror for both of us. But as they say, the memory remains… 😉

    Ooo! That does sound dangerous, and um yeah, be careful in the future. So far I have avoided reading glasses, but it is only a matter of time. The editor had to resort to them a year or two back. I tend to feel that the requirement is a natural part of life as it puts ageing into a more pleasant soft focus. 🙂

    Back in the day, the chez lounge items of furniture were also known as day beds. Naps are important from time to time. It is funny what turns up in auctions, and it is a bit like shopping for second hand items because sooner or later what you are keeping an eye out for eventually arrives.

    What a lovely and talented artist. Some artists have a much wider vision don’t you reckon? And Augustus Saint-Gaudens was one such. His wife appears to be an interesting character herself, and the portrait of herself and their child speaks volumes, especially as her nose is buried deep in a book. I understand that the lady was deaf.

    The film sounds like fun, and you have certainly mentioned previously that someone such as Harold would never consider bringing a rose to Eve. Martin clearly had other plans, and acted upon them. The dour Harold takes his revenge upon Martin. It is possible that the more effective Harold is also something of a tiresome bore, and unfortunately fate appears to have been in his favour – that time. Alas sometimes the bad guys win the day.

    What? No way. I had no idea that Little Shop of Horrors was a remake. You know what? I reckon Roger Corman would be fun as with a side serving of seriously strong work ethic – and business acumen. Thanks for the introduction as I’d never heard of him before.

    Yeah, I’m not much of a country music fan either, but then there are some tracks that just pull on the emotions and have beautiful melodies and narrative content.

    The explosion was reported on in our news this morning. Not good.



  66. Hi Goran,

    It is possible that your freeways are faster than down here given the hour’s drive limit? Far out, that is huge number of people in a fairly small area. You piqued my curiosity and by way of comparison, the state of Victoria where I reside, has 6.7m people in a land mass which is the equivalent of the UK. And incidentally, 5m of those people reside in the city of Melbourne. Once you head outside the city boundaries, it becomes very quiet and under populated. Despite the stories, we’re a largely an urban population down here which hugs some of the coastline.

    Rising water tables and sea levels are a problem for you. Water is also the limiting factor here, but from an opposite perspective – sometimes there is just not enough of it to go around.

    And the same is true here, the vast majority of people have absolutely no idea as to how to produce some of their own food – let alone a huge percentage of the stuff. It is a real problem all around the world in industrial societies. The thing that I wonder about is: How did we ever allow a situation to arise where so many rely upon so few for their daily bread?

    Far out! I have never seen such a tomato operation before. Goran, go with your gut feeling there, because I reckon it is not good. Due to the use of mineral fertilisers down here, a Federal politician the other week provided a fascinating statistic that half of all calories on peoples plates are derived from the exploitation of natural gas. This is not a situation to be proud of, and any decline in supply, or increase in demand will produce unpleasant outcomes.

    Your garden allotment is affordable, but unfortunately small. At a guess there is about 12,000m2 of land under cultivation here, possibly more – although much of that land is used for the three orchards. What has been your experience with the productivity of your allotment?

    I’ve heard those stories too about manual labour. The really crazy thing is that the editor and I actually have higher social status, and are far more educated than most of the neighbours. Not many of them consider the implications of the story that if we’re doing this work on the land, maybe they had better get their acts together. But no, tightly held beliefs are very hard to shake – as you probably already know.

    Yeah, there’ll be crashes in the future all right. But the current events suggest to me that we as a society are happier to lie to ourselves and postpone the inevitable and thus cushion the drop in living standards. Without the lies, it is possible that things could be far worse than they are or will be. But I really don’t know and am just guessing. I’d prefer an honest conversation, but that is just me.



  67. Hello Chris,
    Thanks for the quick reply!
    Productivity of garden beds is pretty high with enough attention. As the Chinese say, “the best fertilizer is the shadow of the farmer”…
    I also have manage a couple of orchards, totaling approx 5000 m2, with plenty of apples and pears and a mixed assortment of fruits and nuts.

    And I realize that I was a bit too negative in the previous post. The Netherlands is amazing when it comes to biking. The best bike lanes in the world, as far as I have seen. A quite strong sub-community developing super-low-energy vehicles. I have a few friends who manoeuver velomobiles for daily commutes. (
    And another advantage living in a (overpopulated) river delta is amazing soils. The Alps have been eroded into the Rhine river for millions of years, just to deposit excellent clay/loam-mix soil here. It is almost cheating.

    A final excellent point is that there are experts in all fields of life, within an hours’ drive. Expert toolmakers, woodworkers, oats growers, knifesmiths etc, just if you know how to find them, all of whom I learn from.

    So I enjoy greatly as long as I am around!


  68. Yo, Chris – Yes, the day after Christmas sales, were always a big deal, here. My mother used to venture out to stock up on wrapping paper, bows and Christmas cards, for the next year. Even though the Christmas morning “unwrap” was frequently punctuated by cries of “Save the Christmas wrap! Save the bows!”

    Fruit trees in bondage! Caged! Fruit trees want to run free! Cue up “Born Free.” Which has to be the most overdone song, right up there with “Feelings” and “Light my Fire.”

    When I got up this morning, it was pouring, and I was not looking forward to taking H out. But, 40 minutes later, the sky was showing some blue, and it had stopped raining. There’s an old saying, around here. “Don’t like the weather? Just wait five minutes.”

    Not tempted to take on the parrot, as a pet? You could teach it to say all kinds of un-family friendly things. 🙂 . Probably one of those birds that sells for $3,000, here.

    Well, as far as You Know What goes here, and recovery numbers, we’ve had 21 deaths. The local newspaper, quoting the health department, said, “Persons who have recovered or who are lost to follow up cannot be tracked by our limited staff at this time …” But the most recent figures on their web site list 474 recovered with 173 lost to follow-up. One hears stories about slow recoveries and weird symptoms, that carry on for quit awhile. The hospital, here, is pretty much full. And, are having staffing problems. Eleanor has a (great?) grand daughter, who works at the hospital. She caught the virus, and is in quarantine. Along with her family.

    That’s interesting, about your mystery machine. I wonder if The Land of Stuff will follow the same arc as The Land of the Rising Sun. When I was a wee small lad, frequent references were made to Land of the Rising Sun junk. Haven’t heard that, in quit awhile. Our dependency on technology, doesn’t bode well. Here’s an interesting article on the explosion, in Nashville, and how it’s effecting communications …

    Seeing the world in soft focus, might not be a bad thing 🙂 . Eleanor says her hearing problems are sometimes a blessing. She recently got hearing aids, and told me she thought I was just whinging, a bit, when I complain about the noise from the parking lot. Now she gets the full effect, and thinks I have good reason, to complain. I started looking into noise dampening curtains. Pricey. I figure I need one for the bedroom, and, another for my front door. That one is going to be tricky. The curtain would have to be on the inside, and, the door opens in. But I’ve got a half baked idea involving a hook, to hook it back.

    Chez lounge, aka day bed, aka fainting couch. 🙂 . Provides a place for Victorian ladies, to throw a good swoon. Pass the smelling salts!
    Makes a good story, probably one of those not much rooted in reality.

    I was looking at the Wiki – hoopie entry for Saint-Gaudens. A mention was made of a book that came out about 10 years ago titled “Greater Journey.” About Americans in Paris. The author stated that Augusta Saint-Gaudens letters home to friends and family, were one of the richest troves of information, he used for the book. Turns out our library system has 5 copies. I put one on hold. In a related development, “Victorian Farm” turned up on my hold list, this morning. Which usually means a lending copy has been found, and is on the way. Maybe the OCLC WorldCat was not accurate, and a copy is kicking around the US? Or, sometimes, I’ll get an e-mail a bit later, saying that they’ve decided to buy copies for the collection. Time will tell.

    I doubt there’s many archives of card catalogues, left. Given that storage, in most libraries, is at a premium. And, the young technophile librarians, were happy to see them go. I imagine bon fires … I suppose the nice oak cabinets were mostly trashed. Though one used to see them, from time to time, in the tat trade. They were great for workshops, for storing screws and things. And were about the right size for cassette tapes. A Gargle search for “Are there still library card catalogues?” yields some interesting results. But, they had to be maintained. I’d guess, by now, half the stuff in the card catalogues aren’t even in circulation, anymore.

    Well, “The Last Woman on Earth” was only three characters, and pretty chatty. After awhile, I was fast forwarding through sections. And I didn’t find any of the characters very sympathetic. Yup. The original “Little Shop of Horrors” came out in 1960. Black and white. Small cameo by Jack Nicholson. I’ve seen it a few times, but not in years.

    My Idaho friend said, this morning, that her daughter’s real estate company is getting a lot of calls for “off the grid” properties. I’d guess a lot of those people have no idea what that entails. I told her that a solar energy system is not “plug and play” and that even after 10 years, you were still finding quirks and tricks to make the whole thing work.

    And, just for fun, a bit of food history …

    I never use the stuff, myself. Or, haven’t in decades. Lew

  69. Hi Chris,
    Hope you folks had an enjoyable Christmas and Boxing Day.
    On our front we had a 2 inch accumulation dump of wet snow between 2 and 6 pm on Christmas. Forecast as flurries. 😁
    During the snow I was grilling steaks outside protected from falling snow by the patio roof. Cooking on a wood pellet grill. Except for the snow not unusual year round for me. Just a preference I guess 😊. Also can choose a charcoal or gas stove.but they are in the open. In the winter I have a gas heater that I can use for me. If out for extended time . It works for me.
    The meat was for our daughters family that they picked up when it was finished. The night before they furnished us with a delicious homemade Lasagna delivered by her. Some Rona protocol involved in all this. “ It’s Complicated”

    On to your fine new large battery. I find in the specs for a similar battery a 3% per month charge decrease is expected for unconnected batteries. That could easily account for the difference.
    My thought on the application of the spare battery would be to use it as an active spare. Without knowing your actual set up. I will do a little guessing.
    Batteries are 12 volt parallel for ampacity into packaged units identical to the new assembly. The big batteries are then connected in series for 48 volts nominal to make up the battery bank array.
    The big batteries each have their individual BMS built in which protect that battery.
    After some period of time the spare would be connected in place of another unit in the bank. The spare role would be distributed among all of the batteries over time giving each sequential system service over time. If any unit had a catastrophic failure the inactive spare could be substituted for the defective unit. The reliability improvement aspects analysis of this strategy are beyond my ability. The out of service unit could be periodically checked for voltage levels and trickle charge applied as necessary. Some things to consider. Hopefully some help. The BMS hardware is probably pretty good.

    Hope to get back to my experiments tomorrow. Maybe
    Al cheers

  70. Hello Chris
    I had little sleep last night as a storm raged. The wind is supposed to have reached 106 mph at the Needles on the Island. It doesn’t look to bad through my windows but goodness knows what is down elsewhere in the woods.

    Have received an asinine letter from the bank saying that they wish to freeze my saver account as nothing has gone in or out in the last 9 months. It appears that using my current account hasn’t meant anything. I am informed that this is in order to protect me from fraud and scams. Come again!? Surely no activity is the safest thing?


  71. Hi Inge,

    We worked on bringing in firewood for about six hours today in the 84’F heat so coincidentally trees and branches have also been on my mind today. Hope that no trees or branches fell on anything crucial during the storm. 106 mph winds is rather an alarming proposition. Out of curiosity, had you been experiencing warmer than usual temperatures prior to the storm?

    The rotters! It has been my observation that not much is earned on the saver accounts in recent times, yet it was not that many years ago when they sort of worked.

    And I agree wholeheartedly, no activity at all on an account does tend to also go hand in hand with a genuine lack of fraudulent activity. How could it be otherwise?

    The banks down here relish no activity as they can charge fees. Many of the legal arrangements are such that with activity comes no fees. I thought that lot made their bread and butter from charging fees? There is a mystery there in your story.



  72. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, when I was a kid people used to be far more careful of things such as stamps that had slipped through the postage system all unmarked and stuff and also Christmas wrapping paper. Presents weren’t ripped open like a feeding frenzy of lions cage at the zoo – they were carefully opened. Yep, the wastage which goes on now is quite astounding, and no society has ever prospered which has indulged in such epic waste.

    Oh yes, born free – such a cliche. Anyway, I don’t do animal films. For some reason, the lead character inevitably dies – and my emotional investment in the lead character turns to heavy emotions. Did old Red Dog and his master actually need to die in order to tell a good story? Maybe. Now I’m wondering whether this is a narrative which needs telling – the truth about dogs and cats?

    Anyway, Aesop’s tale about the wolf and the dog was incorrect. A wolf without a pack considering hanging out with humans would be at the very bottom of any wolf pack pecking order.

    The weather gods favoured yours and H’s walk earlier today with a brief intermission from miserable winter weather – and hey, the same thing is true here too. There is truth to the saying for those who enjoy a climate such as yours and mine: Four Seasons in one day. Maybe that was what Vivaldi was banging on about?

    No, the parrot would be a nuisance. Parrot business is best left to the parrots. Although now that you mention it, a tame parrot sitting on my shoulder decrying: Pieces of eight, and some colourful potty mouth language would be kind of fun.

    Oh no! Mate, by way of comparison, they authoritas are chucking everything at this one down here. I dunno, there has to be some middle ground response somewhere. Sorry to say, but it has been my personal experience to note that everyone dies sooner or later. Something will get all of us, and it is a bit eerie to consider that, but history is replete and unforgiving in this regard. We just have to find some way to enjoy the time we do have available to us.

    Speaking of which I watched the final half hour of the Arthur and Merlyn film last evening and thoroughly enjoyed it. As a personal observation, Arthur erred in letting Mordred go because after all we know how that story played out. Sir Lancelot’s escape was well done too. And seriously, I did wonder how Arthur felt for his lady given he spent in that story, almost a decade in France and fighting almost to the very gates of Rome. Me thinks this Arthur enjoyed the fight. It was an eerie feeling to watch Arthur’s much depleted Knights hailing him: Doomed, I thought to myself.

    And yes, that does bring us to the subject of Pride. I’ve known some good folks who have origins in the land of stuff, and long have they held the Japanese on a pedestal. I guess what you contemplate, you imitate. But yeah, as a kid I too recall that story. It was an all pervasive story regarding quality – and it does not apply today, that’s for sure.

    It is curious to me that the RV announced in advance that a bomb was to be detonated. Yes, very odd indeed.

    What could possibly be going on in the parking lot? Mind you, you did not specify which parking lot? I once rented for six months opposite a supermarket parking lot, and the late night and early morning deliveries and was very disruptive to my sleep. However, many long years ago I worked with someone who lived in an idyllic inner city locale, which had the unfortunate thing that there was a car wash located next to the house. Ah yes, the vehemence with which the person recounted their true feelings as to Queen’s Greatest Hits which incidentally they could recite the lyrics of word for word, was quite astounding to encounter. Note to self: Do not ever live next to a car wash.

    Hehe! After six hours of splitting and hauling firewood today, I fell asleep on the couch. Of course this was just after a very late lunch and my body could not do two things at the same time: Stay awake and process lunch. When I awoke it was almost 7 pm. Ook. Me late this evening and I have to write…

    Yes, if I was a lady in the Victorian era, I’d probably enjoy a good bout of hysteria as well. 🙂 Well done them.

    The American sculptor was an interesting and very talented character. One of his works caused him much consternation and so I believe he was a creature of passions as well. It would have annoyed me, but sometimes when you dine at table, you have to eat what is presented to you regardless of your personal proclivities.

    Oh hey, Victorian Farm highlighted an interesting observation. Keeping swine was a high status activity, and so no wonder with our focus on plants people see only low status activities. The shadow of the Victorian culture lingers large over the landscape. And people barely know when they are following by rote.

    Bon Fires! Ooo, you are super cheeky, but given history, reality is on your side.

    Yeah, well I see that lack of sympathy playing out all around me: How lucky we have all got it, I just want more. How much is enough is a question that many people would do well to ask of themselves. One can only but dream.

    I did note jack Nicholson’s name pop up several times, as well as a number of other rather well known actors. Mate, the bloke just went to prove that one needn’t have a big budget to tell an engaging tale. Did Beowulf come with a big budget? Me thinks not – the story engaged the audience first and foremost.

    Yuk! The stuff is not seen down here. I tell ya what though, a lot of products contain the revolting to my palate Palm Oil. Those plants from the tropics to the north of here produce as well as a Triffid, but far out people are becoming accustomed to the taste. It’s not good.

    Gotta run as I have to write and it is now 9pm. Eek and squeak!



  73. Hi Al and Goran,

    Sorry guys. We split and hauled firewood for six hours today – and after a tasty lunch I fell asleep. Yes, I’m slack and freely admit it. We shall speak tomorrow because far out, it is now 9pm and I have to get on with writing otherwise tomorrow there will be no new blog. WTF?



  74. Hello Chris
    Well the weather so far this Winter has been warmish and very wet. Christmas day was white frost all day and then it warmed a bit for the storm. Our weather temperatures tend to go up and down like a yoyo.

    I don’t pay any bank charges and get about a penny or two of interest these days.


  75. Yo, Chris – Here’s an interesting story, about a couple up in Canada, who have been living off grid, for almost 30 years …

    That’s what Fern Glade Farm is missing … a dance floor! Of course, you’d have to dig out another terrace. 🙂 .

    Well, dogs, cats and people die. As all things do. Caught myself, the other day, checking out the life spans of Shih Tzu and Pomeranians. H’s heritage. 10-16 years. She’s 7, now. I’m going to throw her in the tub, this afternoon and then wring her out, like a sponge.

    You can’t be a true pirate, without a parrot sitting on your shoulder. Those birds are long lived. We used to have a young lady, who’d stride around Centralia, with a parrot on her shoulder. Got to know her later. The parrot was Owen. She (and Owen) are in New Mexico, now. We still exchange occasional e-mails and cards. If you talk like a pirate, but don’t have a parrot, your just a poseur. 🙂 .

    Well, they hauled another one out of here, yesterday. Mike who lives down the hall, from me. He goes to the Seventh Day Adventurer (as Archie Bunker referred to it) church, and they play fast and loose with masks. I know of another case, out of that congregation. Not that I know why they hauled Mike off. I saw both people go, and they 1.) did not seem in respiratory distress and 2.) weren’t on oxygen. So, fingers crossed.

    Well, the latest rumor on the Nashville RV Bomber (remember, he set it off in front of the AT&T building), is that he was a 5G conspiracy theorist. I’d say, 5G fried his brain, but not due to radiation.

    Well, I’m on the front of the building, where the parking lot is. And, I’m almost directly over the main entrance. So, I’ve got our deaf Inmates, yodeling at each other, cars coming and going, delivery trucks going “beep, beep, beep.” Heck, I can even hear people punching the key pad to get in the building. Then there’s the neighborhood noise. Garbage trucks, street sweepers and leaf blowers. Construction projects. The main street is a block down the hill. Firetrucks, coming and going. The ambulance company’s home base is a block away. The neighborhood dogs who respond to every siren. Trains with drivers that lay on the horn, at all hours. Several churches that are enamored of their bells, and belt out the occasional hymn. So, why a curtain on my front door? The frequent deployment of the janitors vacuum. The other day, I was in my kitchen making oatmeal, and I could hear the maskless wonders, out in the hall, nattering, nattering, nattering. I’m pretty lucky that at my advanced age, my hearing is still pretty sharp. But, still …

    Fainting couches. “Camille! Camille!” 🙂 . That’s an obscure reference to the 1936 Garbo film, “Camille.” At the end of the film, Garbo has a death scene (probably TB), that goes on … and on … and on. Apparently, fainting couches could be dual purpose.

    I thought you were done, with your firewood, for this year? Well, I suppose one can never have enough firewood. Lew

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