Never gonna be expectational

On Thursday night the editor and I headed into the city for a night out. When you live in the bush, you don’t really need to venture into the countryside to suck up some relaxing vibes, because the relaxing vibes are around you, all of the time. Nope, we head into the city to suck up some edgy urban vibes, so the other evening we ventured into the city.

It was common knowledge that at midnight of the day we ventured into the city, some restrictions pertaining to the health subject which dare not be named, were intended to be lifted. Of course, not all of the restrictions were to be lifted, it was just that we were no longer required to wear masks when walking around outdoors in the fresh air – even when nobody else was around.

That night there was a bit of police presence in the city, but I ignored all that and instead noticed the row of five empty shops, or the ubiquitous ‘for lease’ signs hanging from building facades. Long ago I read that empty shops are like a cancer, in that they spread. There sure must be a bit of cancer in the city.

We had a lovely dinner in a very touristy area, but couldn’t but help note that there were at least as many staff as there were customers. The place was a ghost town. This has not always been the case, and in previous times not all that long ago, the placed rocked with people even in the depths of winter. The unfortunate side of our profession is that the editor and I see the underlying realities with businesses, and there are few businesses which can have more staff than customers. Of course there may be the occasional notable exception to this rule.

The editor and I love to walk around and it is our preferred sport. Some folks enjoy the sport of swimming, others prefer the gentle sport of riding bicycles upon country roads in packs of angry males where as a bystander, you can’t quite see the testosterone, but you sure can smell it. Instead, we prefer the slow pace of walking. You can take in the vibe of an area at the slow and measured pace and that is when you notice things.

One thing I observed whilst walking around were three separate incidents of people driving brand new Bentley’s around the cities streets. It sure must take a lot of mad debt, or a whole bunch of mad cash to own one those vehicles, but whatever the case may be, it is not for the likes of you or I.

Years ago I read a series of fictional books by the author Jeff Lindsay. The author penned a series of books following the adventures of the likeable psychopath: Dexter. It is worthy of note that the character was probably incapable of forming emotional links to the other characters in the book because (in the book Dexter is Dead) when considering his own children he posited the thought:

“There are millions of homeless children in the world—which proved again that kids were a low-value commodity, didn’t it? I mean, there are very few homeless Bentley’s in the world.” (A quote from the excellent book Dexter is Dead by the author Jeff Lindsay)

There are times that I really do wonder what sort of world we are leaving behind for those that follow after us. It is very possible that the choices we as a society are making today, don’t reflect all that well upon us as a civilisation.

Regular readers will recall that last week this corner of the continent was hammered by an epic storm which had swept up from the frozen continent of Antarctica. My neighbours were without electricity from about Wednesday to Sunday lunchtime. But spare a though for the people living on a nearby mountain range to the south east of here, as there are still about 3000 homes without electricity. The talk in the media has been that that state of affairs may continue for a month, although my opinion is that this target is rather ambitious.

In another part of the state, a coal fired power station which apparently supplies a quarter of the states electricity is having a few problems due to the storm: The Yallourn plant is scheduled to close in 2028, which I believe is four years early: but according to the article, at least the 1,450MW generator will be replaced by a 350MW battery.

Now math is not my forte, but certainly 1,450MW supplied 24 hours per day looks very different to 350MW supplied for an hour (noting that batteries are usually measured by their maximum energy output over a period of an hour). And when the battery needs to be recharged, it too becomes just another user of the electricity that is generated. Maybe the difference is just semantics on my part, but then again maybe it isn’t and with over a decade of experience living in a household powered by batteries and renewable energy technologies, I’m not necessarily sanguine that the promised future is going to look like what the bright green ideologues believe.

But basically, changing the supply and delivery of energy to people and households, fundamentally also impacts upon the underlying social arrangements. Take for example a theoretical super cloudy and not particularly windy winters day: if we relied entirely upon renewable energy systems, then there might not be enough electricity to go around. Imagine your boss telling you to not come into work today because there is not enough electricity to run things, and by the way don’t expect to get paid either. The unfortunate person who now looks forward to a day at home with no pay, has no money to spend, and so that further reduces the economy. And modern economies rely upon the mad cash to keep on flowing around whilst it moves from person to person. It all kind of reminds me of the quiet scenes I observed whilst enjoying breakfast in the city the other day:

Melbourne is famed for its lane-way cafe and coffee culture. Brekkie was excellent – go now!

I could pontificate upon the woes of our civilisation, or provide a list of future action plans but – boring. There’s an Indian bloke who works at a petrol (gas) station whom I’ve spoken with for years, and the other day he summed up the situation nicely when I asked for his thoughts upon the current state of the world: “Yeah, it’s going to get really busy again. Then it will get really quiet again.” Very droll, but also very insightful into what an intermittent economy actually looks like on the ground.

Sunday morning was super frosty in the valley below the farm. In fact it looked as though the cold air had sucked the very colour out of the world.

Cold frosty air pooled in the valley below the farm

The project creating rock lined paths in the garden terraces is now completed. This week the highest garden terrace received well over a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime. It is a really nice surface to walk on during these sorts of cold and damp years, and additionally the lime from the paths will greatly assist the vegetables growing or set to grow at some future date in the rows.

The crushed rock with lime surface was completed on the highest terrace

Getting the crushed rock up to the highest garden terrace meant driving the power wheelbarrow through the newest orchard. And there has been so much rain that the ground is very saturated there.

The power wheelbarrow ripped up the sodden soil in the newest orchard

We’ve also begun widening the path which is on the downhill side of the cantina shed. It is a complicated project because there is a water tap in the garden bed which needs to be relocated.

The path downhill of the cantina shed is set to be widened

The Fluffy collective are stoically enduring the cold and damp winter conditions, and Ruby the sheep dog has been known to treat Ollie the fearsome looking but very gentle Bull Arab, like a personal heater.

Ruby the Sheep dog treats Ollie the Bull Arab like a personal heater

I’ve often been asked to include images of some of the interesting things which I observe during the week, and so here goes:

The 1883 heritage listed staircase in the Hotel Windsor
The cake display outside the Hopetoun Tea Rooms. Concerned readers may sleep easy as one piece of lemon meringue pie cake was harmed just after this photo was taken
Yes, that really does say ‘Moon Calendar 2019’ and this scene is painted on a fence in the very trendy area of Collingwood – I’m not really sure what the owners of the house are trying to declare to the world, but does my lack of understanding even matter at all?
And the letterbox strenuously rejects junk, but also mysteriously rejects wolf. Last time I checked, there were no wolves roaming around this continent, so it is probably a safe bet. Ah, a true mystery! It is worth noting however that there was actually a deer spotted nearby recently.

Onto the flowers:

This Agapanthus flower is very confused and should not have formed
Rosemary flowers are always pleasing during the grey winter months
Geraniums flower all year around here
This Penstemon is at the end of its season, but still looks great
Funky fungi funtimes!
More funky fungi funtimes!

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 3’C (37’F). So far this year there has been 610.2mm (24.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 576.2mm (22.7 inches).

53 thoughts on “Never gonna be expectational”

  1. Yo, Chris – Oh, the businesses will come back. Seems like there’s always someone with a dream, around, ready to take a flyer. Did you know, there’s 434 synonyms for “take a chance?” 🙂 .

    I know what you mean. Having been in the restaurant biz, from time to time, and slinging a fair bit of hash, I can figure out what’s going on in a restaurant. From a slightly different angle, from yours. Sometimes, even when the service is abysmal, I still leave a pretty good tip. As, I can tell that whatever is going on, is no fault of the server. And, they’re trying their best.

    Maybe it was the same Bentley? Circling the neighborhood? That’s a great quote by Lindsay. “But no!” Shrieks the bleeding heart, crocodile tears, running down their face. “Children are SO precious!” Given we’re approaching a world population of 8 billion, not so much. The work of actuaries, is pretty interesting. What is the value of a human life? Well, it depends …

    A rising population and a reduction in energy production. What the heck is going on? Is it a simple, “Seemed like a good idea, at the time. What could possibly go wrong?” Or people who don’t seem to have much imagination, beyond a quarterly report?

    The photo of the frost, below the farm, is calendar worthy.

    The tracks of the wheelbarrow, remind me of the ruts left behind by the wagons on the Oregon Trail. Which I saw when I was a wee small lad. Out in the middle of nowhere, in Nebraska.

    I’ve been watching to many murder mysteries. That is one grand staircase, but all I can imagine is a body falling through space. Did they jump, or were they pushed?

    Oh, the cake display is really something. I’ll take two of everything, please. One for now, and one for later. 🙂 .

    The moon calendar is obviously Women’s Business. Not for the likes of us to understand. Now the letterbox? Clearly the home of Little Red Riding Hood and her grandma. Or, the Three Little Pigs.

    Well, since you mentioned fungi …

    The Editor and you may find some of the comments about photography, interesting. We have a federal government fungus collection in Maryland? Who knew? And, why? Lew

  2. Hi Pam,

    Fair enough about the artichokes, and there is a lot to grow, limited space, limited sunlight (I’m sure you’ll appreciate that as well 🙂 ), and time is always getting away from us, despite our best intentions.

    Ook! Sorry to hear about the loss of your walk in pantry and I hear you about things being in their right places and a place for everything. That would throw me off my game in the kitchen too, and everything would somehow not quite feel as right as it once were. Yes, good luck with the adjustment, and like everything time will take care of that.

    Never spent time with anyone who is accident prone, but it sounds like a bit more of a problem for those around them. Best if they are kept well out of the kitchen, and anywhere that serious things are taking place. This especially applies to serious locations where things are being cut – whatever those things may be. Yes, it is a problem.

    I do my utmost to avoid accidents, and truth to tell I’m still kicking myself about the slip and fall onto my left shoulder when attempting to replicate the strenuous efforts of Sisyphus. Yes, that is the problem that keeps on giving. Oh well, mustn’t grumble and I hope your folks settle into their new abode and don’t drive you crazy in the meantime (noting that a little bit of crazy is to be expected).



  3. Hi Margaret,

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that tree removal is not a cheap process if professionally done. It makes me laugh when I hear city folks concerns about goings on up in the bush in relation to trees, because if they knew just how hard it was to drop a tree and then prepare it ready for use as firewood (or even in a portable mill for that matter), they’d just keep their opinions to themselves, otherwise I’d be sorely tempted to put them to work and then they’d know the truth of the matter! 🙂 They needn’t worry themselves, but still they do worry as it is easier than dealing with issues in their own lives. 🙂 What do you? I guess the reality is that there are some folks who undertake mass land clearing, but they are generally the exceptions and mostly they use massive equipment like bulldozers and chains.

    Doug mate I hear your pain, and Margaret please do convey my sympathies to Doug because I too actually did just that. 🙂 The tree fell in an entirely different direction than what I expected and I could see it happening in slow motion. It not only fell upon the local power cable, it broke the cable and knocked out the local electricity grid. And the power company sent me a bill for $1,100 for the repairs. Fortunately an electricity crew was nearby and they righted the pole and repaired the broken line. The local council also became involved (there were people everywhere that day) and to everyone’s amusement the tree felling guy working for the local council after berating me, also stuffed up dropping the adjacent tree which was damaged and it fell in the same direction as the power cable. And in a fit of pique, the guy and his council crew left immediately afterwards and we and the electricity company folks had to clean up the site. I tell you it was a day which I have no desire to repeat. What an utter disaster.

    Interestingly, the electricity company could see that the trees were not as good as they appeared to be, and many months later they came through with an arbourist and did a massive assessment and clean up job. The lesson learned for me was that I should never have become involved in the first place as I don’t have the skills for such dangerous work.

    Yes, small scale abattoirs are becoming rarer down here too. I sort of feel that in the long term, this job will eventually be done on the family farm, but it is a real skill to do it properly and humanely and a person has to practice this. My mates of the big shed fame are pretty good with such activities and one day I’ll have to go around and get a lesson from them.

    Awesome news about the rain! 🙂

    Hehe! Two words – Good Luck!!! Hehe! Sorry for my mirth at your discomfiture, but it’ll be over soon. 🙂 I’m sure you’ll eventually have fun and hopefully Carla enjoys herself too and there is always alcohol on the day.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    I’m unsure what exactly happened the first time around with the battery charger, but the second time around the machine worked as promised and that’s good enough for me. The company sent me a lovely printed ‘hand written’ note asking if I’d be kind enough to leave a gargle review for them. It was a nice personal touch actually and I’ll see what I can rustle up for them. And yes, there is just no space here for machines that don’t want to work properly. I’m really onto getting machines repaired and serviced, and if that is no longer possible they get sent off to the farm (that is the farm that does not exist but will take the beyond economical repair machine). I’m sure you’ve heard someone make the disingenuous claim that old fluffy is headed off to the farm – I never really understood as a kid why adults lied so badly.

    Yes, thanks for the correction and Sasquatch hands it is! Now that you mention it, the opposable thumbs are actually pretty handy. Speaking of limbs, digits and stuff I went to the physiotherapist this early morning in relation to my shoulder. It was a really good session and things are looking good in shoulder land. I was given a few more stretches and yeah, it is healing nicely, but slowly. Not a whinge, just an update.

    It was a really interesting film wasn’t it? And you’re so right, society keeps drawing them back in. I’ve heard it explained away that others have to risk their lives if the person in question gets into trouble, but then there is an assumption which I’m not convinced is valid that the person wants assistance. They might not not want assistance. Once the Alaskan bus was found, it didn’t look so good for the Alaskan bloke, but then is it really up to society to question the guys intent – another person might have survived and thrived in those conditions. In earlier times such folks were explorers and if they came to a bad end, well it is tragic, but nobody thought to stop them from going in the first place.

    A fresh chunk of salmon on rice with lemon sounds really tasty. Did you add any herbs or seasoning to the salmon? In a rare break from the patterns, we were at a fresh food market last Friday and picked up a smoked ham hock and cooked it up over the weekend with red lentils (which are actually an orange colour). I’ve got a bowl of that and some toasted fresh home made bread (left over from lunchtime) and butter for dinner this evening.

    Had to laugh about the pat of butter on your meal! You sounded like Jason Sheehan from his book Cooking Dirty where he was outraging the ladies in a cooking school by adding scrumptious chunks of butter to a recipe! Hehe! Butter tastes good.

    “Only took me an hour. 🙂 . Had to be placed … just … so.” Lewis, sometimes you just need to be instructed properly and thoroughly!!! Hehe! Better you than me, and I have to fess up here that I always check with the editor before planting things out – no point re-doing the work is there?

    Your country is hot and getting hotter sorry to say. It was the winter solstice today and I can’t remember a finer winter solstice than today 46’F sunny clear blue skies and not a hint of wind. A very nice day to be outside.

    I agree that businesses will come back, the property market has to first crash hard so that rents become affordable. They’re a big impost on businesses and the security asked for down here on commercial leases seems a bit heavy handed to me. Look, I have no doubt that something will happen to reduce the cost base for businesses – and that can be a pretty wild ride too, like inflating the currency out of existence (the MMT folks seem hell bent on that outcome). All I know is that things will get interesting. And yup, people are inherent gamblers otherwise things would be very different indeed – the phrase ‘they’ll think of something’ is like the ultimate roll of the dice.

    I absolutely agree, and it used to be unnecessary to leave a tip down under. It actually wasn’t part of the culture, but nowadays when eating out for dinner I always leave a tip. If you know what’s going on in the background, you know and you can’t ignore it. They used to say that ignorance of the law is no excuse, but nowadays on several fronts I’ve noted that the presumption of innocence is being chipped away at. The gobarmunt did a doozy a year or two back with a little program called: Robodebt. And the robot apparently wasn’t always right either, and here is the kicker: If it was wrong it was really hard to find anyone to talk to or write to about the problems. It was a bit like the malfunctioning robot on Robocop: RoboCop (1987) – ED 209 Malfunctions Out of control A special guest death ensign – you never want to be one of those.

    Yeah maybe it was the same Bentley, except it wasn’t! The Dexter books are just so wrong and in looking up the quote I came across a website full of quotes from the book – clearly it is a quotable book. Not sure that I could work as an actuary and I probably don’t have the math skills for the job anyway. But yeah they have to spend their days worrying away at some unusual problems.

    All of those and with a side serving of: “I’ll just do this over here and it won’t matter much”, except that the cumulative effect of such thinking is leading to some dramas. The outcomes though that I’m seeing around the place is not at all how I imagined things would work out. It’s all very strange and unexpected that’s for sure.

    Thanks! And there was another frost this morning, and the roads had black ice as in the valley the temperature was 32’F. Brr. It was a bit warmer up here, but not by much.

    It is one thing to use a fossil fuelled machine to leave tracks in the saturated soil, it would have been brutal on the horses on the Oregon trail. Yup, the land bears the scars, for a while at least.

    Jump or pushed sounds sort of similar to the stabbed, or stabbed-off story I heard once being recounted by a comedian who’d gone right off the rails but for that moment and show was doing OK.

    The cake display provided the lemon meringue pie which I mentioned last week in glowing terms. It was really good. Did you notice the tile work? The Romans would have appreciated such work, and the arcade building the tea room business is located in is stunning. The building itself is a work of art, just beautiful.

    Exactly, secret women’s business, but there had been requests as to the unusual things which I observe during the week and there is a lot of that stuff going on.

    Thanks for the link and I intend to read about fungi whilst enjoying my pea and ham soup with toast.



  5. Hello Chris
    Thanks for the fascinating photos from town; I keep going back to look at them again.
    Do you really think that there will be a property price crash? Things continue on the crazy upward path here and I can see no reason for it to stop. I am amazed at how much wealth seems to be around here.
    The new owners of the nearby mansion have still not moved in but I hear that they are moaning at the fact that they can’t get rubbish collected. Welcome to country living!
    Rain is pouring down and all my heating is on. Summer arrived for a few days and then departed.


  6. @ Margaret & Chris — Well. Coincidence, and all. This just in from my friends in Idaho, this morning. Just so you know the cast of characters, Cheyenne is the daughter (the newly minted real estate dealer) and Shalen, their son-in-law.

    “After that Cheyenne was coming out of the mountains from her in-laws cabin. No more than 15 minutes after she left Shalen started cutting down the last tree next to the family cabin. The tree broke off about 8 ft above the cut and landed on him. They had to lifeflight him to Boise, his mom went down with him. She called Cheyenne from St. Al’s. They revived him twice before lifeflight.
    So we jumped in the car and headed down.
    So here’s what we know. He’s in a drug induced coma to keep his blood pressure down. The list of injuries is as long as your arm. Both legs are broken below the knee and I think one foot is crushed, He’s lost part of his small and large intestines, lost part of his liver and they had to repair his stomach. Kidneys are damaged but they are working okay. The pancreas got knicked and one lung had collapsed but is up now. Lots of fractures in his back but they think that they can heal on their own with a back brace.
    He’ll be in the ICU for about a week then will head into rehab which could be 6 weeks.
    They haven’t sewed him up all the way yet. Watching for infection and hoping the internal blooding slows down…these are the first hurdles to overcome before they close him up and set his legs.”

    Life can change in an instant. Turn on a dime. Lew

  7. Yo, Chris – They always ask for reviews when the thing is hardly out of the box. How about waiting a year, and then asking? 🙂

    Oh, I appreciate the updates on your shoulder. Just lends ammo to my “surgery is not always necessary,” theory of life.

    “Another person might have survived and thrived.” Yeah, like a person with a good map. Not far from where he shuffled off his mortal coil, there was a cable car over the river, that had trapped him. Also, within striking distance, was a cabin just filled with goodies. Both of which were shown on most maps.

    One should indulge in a bit of meat, when your body tells you to. The ham hock sounds really tasty. Here, the origin of our “split pea soup” was a ham hock and dried peas. The canned stuff is a pale version, of the original. I threw the salmon in the freezer. It caught me by surprise, so I’ll have it when the mood strikes. I’ll probably have it with just the lemon, a bit of butter and fresh ground pepper. Butter is only a delivery device for the lemon and pepper 🙂 . Same with the potatoes. Keeping it simple really enhances the flavor the salmon or potatoes. Potatoes get a bit of fresh chopped parsley. Come to think of it, it wouldn’t be bad on the salmon, either.

    Oh, planting Elinor’s flowers and veg, wasn’t an onerous task. I’m just glad we got them out of her kitchen, and into the ground. I told her the Plant Abuse Police were going to show up, and haul her away. The petunias she planted were purple. I told her they were pretty, and that old ladies liked purple. She thought that was an accurate, and funny observation.

    It was 82F, yesterday. And is supposed to be 10 degrees warmer, today. We’re supposed to have a couple of days of 70s, and then back to the hot temperatures, again. I watered, this morning, and will water again tonight, if things look stressed. Some of the replanted sunflowers, are up. Spent some time weeding, when it got cooler, last night. Canary grass. Bane of my existence. There’s one bed where I’m going to lay down some cardboard, to knock it back.

    Our summer solstice, was yesterday. All downhill from here. Which also happened to be Father’s Day. Not that we have many fathers, around here.

    Robo Debt. Interesting. Not exactly related, but I saw an article about our infrastructure package, that’s floundering it’s way through Congress. Some members of Congress want to finance it by privatizing everything that isn’t nailed down. And then the article started banging on about Australia, and how it didn’t work out so well. As if we didn’t have home grown examples of “not working out so well.” But, a quick check of Wick Hoopie, and I found “Privatisation in Australia.”

    The Robo cop clip was great. I could almost hear the wheels turning, among the office fauna. Before the body was even cold, “How does this effect my place in the pecking order?”

    I thought “…special guest death ensign…” was “crewman number six?”

    “Galaxy Quest.” The best sci-fi parody, of all time.

    Where we saw the Oregon Trail wagon track (almost a gully, worn in the prairie), was near Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff. In a flat and featureless landscape, they were navigational beacons. Disparate threads of wagons, came together and moved toward those beacons. So, even over 100 years on, they were still noticeable. Scottsbluff is covered in graffiti, from those long ago explorers, and settlers. There is water, there.

    The arcade building is really lovely. And, the mosaic, a knock out. Why can’t we still build buildings, like that? Cost and maintenance, I suppose. I watched an interesting documentary, last night. “Going Attractions: The Definitive Story of the Movie Palace.” Here in the States, we had hundreds of them. Back then, each movie studio had it’s own string of theaters. Portland sure had them. The Fox, The Paramount, Music Box, Bagdad, etc. etc.. Some are still left, and have been restored. But not many.

    Your looking rather dapper, in your sporty chapeau with bumbershoot. 🙂 .

    Oh, I love your pictures of quirky and interesting urban things. One can only rhapsodize over so many pictures of Fox Gloves. Though I never tire of Ollie, looking majestic. 🙂 Lew

  8. Chris,

    I recently read that Microsoft might be having a Spinal Tap moment. Yes, there is a rumor that Windows will soon go to 11.

    “Of course many a good dog has been known to slobber and after all, dogs can be the best people.” Extremely well said! Several of my favorite people have been dogs.

    I’m glad you had a good trip to the big city. Things like that need to happen now and then. Due to our numbers dropping to my comfort zone, I got take out fish and chips from the local place. The ladies who work there were VERY appreciative of my business. The place was almost deserted on a Saturday afternoon. Looking forward to getting there more often now.

    That photo of the staircase is awesome. The Princess especially enjoyed it. The photo of the frosty valley was also exceptional, as Lew has mentioned. That actually looks similar to parts close to Spokane in the winter when there’s no snow, or as I call it Spokane’s 50 shades of grey.

    That Indian bloke from the petrol station is wise. People used to ask me what I thought the stock market was going to do. I always pulled out an old quote: “It’ll fluctuate.”

    Good job on your pathways’ completion. It’s always nice when the results of so much hard work are visible. Those power barrow tracks totally show how wet it has been there.

    The cake display photo is also very good. Kudos on causing harm to a piece of lemon meringue pie cake. Those are so yummy that they’re begging to be harmed. It’s nice to help them fulfill their wishes.

    The raspberries are very tasty. Not many ripening yet, but there will be plenty ripening soon. I gave a few to the Princess from Monday’s batch. She said they were really good but there were only enough to tease. The berries are also sprouting a lot of new shoots for next year.

    The extended weather forecast is Very Grim. Today is the first of 15 consecutive days forecast to be 32C or hotter. If we do indeed get that hot for 15 consecutive days, it is a new record, I believe. Also, in that string are 5 consecutive days, Saturday through Wednesday, forecast to be between 39C and 41C. That many consecutive days at or higher than 38C would be another record. Some of those days might set individual records, too.

    So, I’m getting up earlier to get the outdoor things done. I also moved all of the containers under the patio roof. They’ll still get some sun, but not excessive amounts during the hottest times of day.


  9. Hi Chris,

    Nice photo of the cake stand, you tease of course. We found a great bakery last weekend, but unfortunately it is a bit of a drive, located as it is, in the trendy part of Fremantle.

    I got a bit of manflu and didn’t go to work yesterday. Stayed at home and made a soup instead. A bit of Xmas ham still on bone that was in the freezer, lots of potatoes and few other bits and bobs. Didn’t have split peas, otherwise would have gone for the classic!

    In fun news, a hot water pipe, buried deep in a wall somewhere, is leaking. You can hear the hot water tank running constantly. So I toggle the feed tap on and off as required whilst we wait for repairs. One advantage of renting is someone else pays for this, I don’t think it will be cheap to repair as walls are all double brick, concrete slab floor and no access underneath the house..


  10. Hi Damo,

    Next time you and Mrs Damo are in town, I recommend the tea rooms – the testing must continue as the evil statisticians demand solid sample sizes and the evil ones must be appeased! 🙂 I believe it was you who warned me to avoid the claims to ‘award winning blah blah bakery something or other’ so this leaves personal experience to assess the veracity of the claims – or at least that is my excuse. 🙂

    Yeah Freeo is a ways away from Perth, and that was quite the surprise. It makes sense that you’d find one there, but then without repeated visits how does a person confirm whether it was a one off lucky day, or is the quality a lifestyle choice for the bakery? Hey, you didn’t tease us all with descriptions…

    Sorry to hear that you have the ol’ manflu, it is definitely going around and both the editor and I had a bout of that a few weeks ago. That is what sick leave is for though. Your soup sounds good. Hey, when I was a kid my mum used to make up a hot lemon and honey tea with a dash of rum – just because. Just the thing for combating the dreaded manflu and I got the editor to whip one up during the most recent bout. Good luck and wishing you a speedy recovery.

    Far out, it seems to be a bit of a thing nowadays to place lots of plumbing pipes into the concrete slabs and yeah a person might wonder how that lot ever gets fixed if it breaks – and your example sounds like a freakin’ horror show.

    Didn’t Jane Austen commence her classic book: Plumbing repairs with Prejudice, that: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that eventually all pipes will leak, whether under pressure or no.” A classic trade book.

    Hey, you might get a laugh. So I purchased a el-cheapo licence key for Orifice 2019 surfware from boss dork number one company, and it works… Ook! Went back to buy two more licences and seller is no longer proffering said products. Exciting times!



  11. Hi DJ,

    What? But yeah, really liked the Spinal Tap reference, and the surfware will probably work about as well as those amplifiers. I really loathe mucking around with this sort of stuff. As an update, at least the laptop seems to be working now (other than the audio functions).

    Glad you enjoyed that observation on our canine friends, and they really are good fun creatures. The two sheep dog girls are very spicy and energetic dogs and forever up to some sort of mischief. The dog trainer bloke at the recent ag show remarked that they are a dog that can think for themselves.

    Well done you! I assume that you shared some chips with your lady? And respect if you scarfed them all down for yourself. Hey, do they do thin or thick chips? And do they call them chips or fries?

    That staircase is a stunning bit of engineering and it is getting up around 150 years old. I’ve never noticed any movement or cracking in the stairs and have tried to imagine how they constructed it back then to such a high degree of quality and longevity. I believe that it is concrete, but I might be wrong about that.

    A wise strategy and I too try not to get pinned down on predictions like that – for example I never would have expected the house market to keep getting pumped up into the stratosphere. It is crazy down here in that regard.

    Ooo! The cakes are very good. I’ve never taken a photo of the business before because there are usually so many tourists milling around the windows – for good reason. Are there good cake shops or bakeries in your part of the world? I’m starting to think that it may be a local thing down here, but don’t really know.

    Good stuff with the raspberries. Are you keeping up the water to them especially given the heat forecast? The heat will work in your favour with the taste of the berries, and surely your lady will approve? Mind you, they might not enjoy Saturday through Wednesday, but raspberries survive such heat from my experience – but they will need water. You know where the rain has gone? Atmospheric river set to deliver a deluge from coast to coast. Too much rain is as bad as too little rain – you know it was all the epic fires from the black summer of 2019/2020 which caused this.

    Good luck and keep out of the afternoon sun. As a reminder: Only Mad dogs and Englishmen would be out in such weather!



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Buyers remorse might be a bit of a problem for reviews conducted a year after the purchase. Imagine the stink from those, but I tell you a weird thing about computer stuff and components etc, people genuinely review the products ages after having bought whatever it was. And some of the reviews are far from flattering, but I appreciate hearing the warts and all story, because it saves a lot of heartache down the track. Picked up a second hand sound card for the laptop from a pawnshop dealer who sells on ebuy. Super high quality sound, second hand and very cheap. And the faults of the sound card, well I can live with them and they suit me just fine. I just can’t understand how such high quality items can get discarded – obviously there is probably a sad tale with how it ended up in a pawnshop.

    Hey, I’ve got another saying along these lines: If they can’t get the sale right, the after sales service is not going to be better. 🙂

    Exactly, I said to the physio that I’m reluctant to see the surgeon and so have every incentive to do the exercises – which I did despite getting home tonight at about 9.30pm. We were in the big smoke today and stopped off to get coffee and cake (a tiny little New York Cheesecake – which is superb) and gourmet burgers and chips for dinner. Yum! It is a bit hectic when we get home because there is a lot to do and the bread just finished in the electric oven.

    Yeah, like a person with a good map. 🙂 It’s awful, but I’m kind of chuckling at that observation, but you’re absolutely spot on. The facts don’t reflect well upon the individual. We heat with firewood which we produce and it has taken a huge amount of years of experience to understand that energy source completely from beginning to end. You can’t just head out into the forest and mountains and expect to survive, although a person could get lucky – maybe. The odds sure are against them which is why people like cities.

    The ham hock is very good, and I mixed up the lard with some organic rolled oats and fed that to the chickens. Mate, they fell upon that stuff and it was pretty rough in the world of chicken for a while. And exactly, you can replace the lentils with split peas and it is the identical meal. We rarely eat meat at home, but when out and about I have no dramas about that. But for some guests we cook meat and will always purchase the best quality meat that we can find. The quality difference is amazing, and I’m quite horrified by what is considered a roast chicken these days as they are very scrawny compared to what I recall from when I was a kid. It surprises me that few people have noted the change and I’m not sure why.

    An atmospheric river originating from the Indian Ocean to the North West of the continent looks set to arrive tomorrow. Yay, more rain… The peasants are not rejoicing this time around. And the cool and wet conditions look set to continue for the immediate future: Negative Indian Ocean Dipole developing – here’s what that means for Australia . Ook! Oh well, it doesn’t rain, it pours.

    Ah, of course the lemon and pepper would be the flavour hit, and I’m a fan of pepper and have once or twice over done it – and it can be as hot as chili. 🙂 Hey did your parsley come up again in the same spot? I’ve got two small patches and they just reappear every year, although they are coming to the end of their season right now.

    Plant Abuse Police were going to show up, and haul her away! Hope Elinor has a sense of humour about these things, but my gut feeling says the answer might just be a solid yes! Hey, Elinor might be onto something as the Romans liked their purple too. 😉

    Yikes! If your weather is an echo of DJ’s and Al’s, you might be in from a hot few weeks. At least the garden will grow – if it gets the water.

    Not having too many fathers around probably isn’t a bad thing – can’t say that I’ve ever missed my dad. I met him as an early adult, and well he’s OK, but my gut feeling suggested that it was no great loss. Some folks have kids when they probably shouldn’t have done so, but times were different on that front back in those days so I can understand how things came to be – and he said as much himself.

    Winter solstice was yesterday here, and it was the finest winters day imaginable. It was cool, but blue skies reigned and there was not even the merest breath of wind. A truly lovely day. Tomorrow, well things are set to get very damp for many days. Oh well.

    I’m pretty sure that the Ruskies also provatised everything after their empire collapsed. The policy is a mixed blessing I guess. But certainly there is a strong inclination to shut down the ageing coal fired power stations and curporate interests are hardly aligned with the public interest – they don’t need to be.

    The Robocop film was so full of scenes exactly like that, and I reckon you are spot on – certainly the actors didn’t quite portray the level of shock that the average person on the street would experience in the same situation. Did you like the scientists in the background frantically trying to switch off ED209? Like the Terminator, someone should have pulled the battery out of the pesky machines.

    You just know crew man number six is gonna become slime food for some inexplicably alien, alien. Thanks for the clip. 🙂

    The navigational beacons were a good idea for those on the trails, but if I were the local indigenous folks I would have messed with those, but then I guess you wanted the settlers elsewhere. Hmm.

    It really is a very beautiful building and full of lovely touches like the tiles. There is also Gog and Magog and they perform certain functions at certain hours of the day. A truly stunning building.

    Those cinemas were the sort that were in operation up to the early 80’s before the megaplexes drew the crowds away. There are still some in operation today, but it is a former shadow of what once was. I actually liked the older cinemas. What happened to the buildings in your part of the world?

    Thanks! 🙂 Bumbershoot indeed. 🙂

    Ollie is a gentleman, and I dare not publish a blog without including him in at least one photograph. There’d be open revolt – and that would be revolting. 🙂



  13. Yo, Chris – I always check out the reviews on things. But I tend to discount the bad reviews, if there are very few. Though they can be fun to read. 🙂 . As we’ve discussed before, a certain small segment of the population is bat-shite crazy, and can be ignored.

    There’s a few scenes in “Land”, where the heroine is trying to get in firewood, for winter. Didn’t go well. It’s a science … and, an art.

    You may remember my chickens got an afternoon treat, of rolled oats, plane yogurt, chopped up banana peels and crushed eggshell. They came a runnin’! I had one escape artist, who managed to find a way out of the run. After a couple of times of chasing her down, I smartened up. Didn’t take her long to smarten up. You want treats? You stay in the pen.

    Well, parsley is a biennial. But at least here (and, it sounds like there) it freely self seeds. It’s even popping up in some of the neighboring beds. The small plants easily transplant, if you need to move them around. Snipping or pinching off the seed heads, keeps them bushy and producing. Though some people find the flavor a bit strong. Bring it on! I say.

    “The rain falls equally on the just, and the unjust.” Try and keep that in mind, when your out in the middle of the night, cleaning out the water tank filters. 🙂 . Sounds like your ground is going to get saturated, again. You might have some more trees come down. Heads up! We’re going to have three glorious days of perfect weather. And then it’s going to get hot. And hotter. Forecast for Saturday and Sunday is 100+. 37.77C+. I water in the morning, and then check things out in the evening, to see if anything looks stressed.

    Master gardeners were here, today. I fooled around in the canary grass bed, and dug out the place where I’m going to plant the zucchini. Not too late. Matures in 55 days.

    Not having a Dad didn’t seem to hurt Stephen King. And, I don’t know if you’ve heard the story, but he did leave something behind. In the attic was a box stuffed full of horror and sci-fi magazines and books. There was even some Lovecraft. Clearly, Mr. King found them at an impressionable age. 🙂 .

    I don’t know about slime food, but there’s been a lot of articles about the rise of sea snot. It’s taking over the oceans!

    Chimney Rock and Scottsbluff, are large sandstone formations. So, there’s really not much messing about you can do, with them. Although, one summer when we were there, well, Nebraska has spectacular lightening storms. A spire of Chimney Rock was blasted off by lightening. They found chunks of it, three miles away. We used to go to the top of Scottsbluff, which is kind of a mesa, and you could see almost all the way to Omaha. And, in the long valley, stretching away, there were dotted odd little squares, surrounded by chain link fences, with a single trailer. Missile silos. Dozens and dozens of them. As far as the eye could see.

    The Gog and Magog reference is entirely lost, on me. Elucidate, please?

    A lot of the glorious old cinemas were torn down. They went to rack and ruin, pretty fast, if not maintained. Some were granted landmark status, but those laws don’t have teeth. Mostly, only the facade has to be preserved. Some were split into multiplexes. Come to think of it, what happened in Centralia, is pretty typical. We have the Fox theatre, which has been undergoing renovation, for years. As funding is cobbled together, from here and there.

    That was just a block down, from the theatre I squatted in. Fast becoming a total ruin. And, three blocks the other way, was a theatre that has become a kind of mega-church. So at least the building is maintained, and, most of the infrastructure is still left. Lew

  14. Chris,

    Thought you’d enjoy the Spinal Tap reference in that article. Ya know, if your laptop is working EXCEPT for the audio functions, it might mean that it needs a good amplifier. Maybe one that goes to 11.

    I like dogs that can think for themselves. Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz could when she wanted to. Rakhi the Samoyed? You could WATCH her think and problem solve and invent games. There were times Rakhi acted more like an adult human than many humans I know.

    Share the chips with the Princess? Are you nuts? No wa… OOOps! She saw that and interrupted my typing. 😉 I would’ve ordered extra cole slaw and shared the entire meal with her, but she was on her regularly scheduled venture to care for her siblings in Toppenish. I had to suffer and eat it all. 🙂 Oh, and they call them chips. They’re pretty standard french fries. Even the locally owned fast food chain, Zip’s Hamburgers, has fish and chips, and they, too, call them chips.

    That staircase reminded me of something. I finally remembered what. We visited this when on vacation about 10 years ago. This is in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

    I’ve mentioned how ridiculous our housing market is at times. Apparently, there has been an advertising campaign in Silicon Valley about Spokane for several years. We need 2 consecutive severe winters – extra snowy, extra long and a lot of Arctic blasts – to scare some of the southerners away.

    Yes, there are good bakeries here. There’s a grocery store near the entire Spokane County campus. Before the unmentionable, they featured a large deli as well as hot food bar for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as a salad bar. Indoor or outdoor seating. They still have the entire large deli. We enjoy getting sandwiches and some of their prepackaged salads there. They also have a very good bakery. Their chocolate turtles are gluten free and are most excellent.

    Oh, yes, giving the raspberries liberal amounts of water. Tuesday I picked a handful of berries, so there were slightly more than a tease for both of us. They are very sweet this year. The berry season is just barely starting, so we should do well. I’m also getting some volunteer plants in the compost pile. Probably cantaloupe. I’ll transplant a few to the garden beds in a few days and hope for the best.

    I was outdoors doing some weeding at 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. That definitely beat the heat. Being neither a mad dog nor an Englishman, but rather a Viking 😉 I was glad I woke up that early to avoid the afternoon heat. Wind is an issue for Tuesday and Wednesday. We’re currently experiencing sustained SW winds of 22km per hour with gusts upwards of 35km per hour. Not exactly what we want with the heat. They’re now saying that the all time highest temperature record of 108F might get matched or beaten this weekend. Very glad the AC works. The furnace guys will visit Thursday morning for the annual maintenance work, too.


  15. Hi Lewis,

    Had an excellent belly laugh today and really wanted to share it with you. So the book I ordered (unfortunately having to use the river of stuff) a week or so back about my old Sensei, arrived in the mail this morning. The book looks like it will be an interesting read because as a martial artist he is an extraordinarily accomplished individual and his early life was pretty rough. I only have fond memories of the bloke and the years spent training there. So I’m flicking through the book earlier this morning and came across a photo of my younger self about to get thrown across the mat by the Sensei himself! It is a truth universally acknowledged that a person learns how to fall by being thrown around a lot. 🙂 Although candidly I wouldn’t want to have to explain to him how my recent injury came to be… Ook!

    I think the link might be clickable to blow up to a larger image, but whatever, I’ll chuck in a better quality scan in for next weeks story – which came about through a really weird set of random incidents over the past few days. So weird, but life can be like that sometimes and maybe the story just needed airing? Dunno, stories get a life of their own. It astounds me though that I was in the presence of a very accomplished person, and was entirely oblivious – life can be like that, and over the years I have had the very good fortune to get to know some amazing and extraordinary people. But me being me, I just kind of you know, just hang out and treat them like anybody else. 🙂 There is a certain sort of appeal in that approach.

    Your sneaky use of bending of the blogs comment rules does you credit, and I really enjoy word games. When I was a young bloke my mother was watching a documentary on some old hippy who came up with this funny cartoon concept of ‘Keep on Trucking’. Now I must have been under ten, but it wasn’t hard to know what the hippy cartoonist was going on about. My mum issued dire threats and sent me packing as she thought that my presence was not required during the documentary. What I was actually thinking was that some folks come up with one good concept and they run with it, but I chose to keep my opinions to myself at risk of retribution that day.

    But yes I totally agree, if a product review has only a few negatives, but mostly positives it’s generally OK. I read the negatives anyway so as to ascertain whether they can be brusquely ignored. I’m surprised at how illiterate some of the negative reviews actually are – it’s embarrassing.

    Sorry, but in my dotage I require a refresher course. Was the series you mention as ‘Land’ the UK series ‘Land Girls’? We discussed that series a while back. And there is a shortage of firewood in this here country: Australia feels the chill of winter due to nationwide firewood shortage. The best bit of advice that I gave to my friend who moved her family to the island state of Tasmania was to become a regular at the local firewood supply. I know her and family well enough to know that they’re not up for the job of creating their own supply despite having their own trees. When the darkness comes, firewood is our friend.

    Yes, and thanks for the verbal reminder, but because of you I began to feed the diced up banana skins and ends to the chickens, and they get some of that gear every single day. I never discover any scraps left over. Thanks. 🙂 And yup, you trained the obstreperous chicken and I can only take my hat off to your efforts. I’ve taken the easy way out and given them a safe environment and hardly allow them out into the orchard these days. The chickens live a charmed life, but they just aren’t able to free roam. The foxes continually ignored my presence, I couldn’t believe it, and I can’t sit out in the orchard with a rifle waiting to bop the odd fox who dares to attempt to take a chicken. And the dogs are useless as they were bred for herding, and so they overly enjoy herding the chickens. It’s a problem which I am yet to solve…

    Ah, of course a biennial. Yes, that makes much sense. It is very possible that most folks have forgotten to consume herbs? When I was a younger bloke, fresh meat was supplied from the butcher with sprigs of parsley, but I guess that would freak people out these days.

    Hehe! Yes, indeed. 🙂 I headed to the post office this morning and noted that a new tree had fallen and been dissected in almost the exact same location where there was a photo of a tree on the wire in the ‘after the storm’ blog last week.

    You might be in for a wicked fire season with that sort of weather. Stay alert.

    Zucchini is a super fast growing plant, but the canary grass bed sounds truly awful. If at first you don’t succeed, dig, and then dig some more. Few grass type plants can survive that sort of continued punishment. But then you have to recall what happened to your resident helpful Mike and marshal your reserves of energy.

    Earlier today I sowed the seed of an idea with someone I know who is super dynamic and I much respect, to take a few days off soon for some well earned rest. I don’t badger people, and mostly these days I sow ideas and then depart the scene of the crime! It’s really up to them, but the idea is now out-there. When I was a younger bloke I’d hector and cajole, but in my dotage I’m more realistic. I’ll bet you’ve been there and done that – and the Club comes to mind! 🙂 How are they doing anyway, you haven’t mentioned them for a while?

    I didn’t know that about Mr King, and you’ve piqued my curiosity. Some peoples dads are actually a negative influence and so there are advantages if they are actually elsewhere.

    Oh yes, sea snot is truly awful, and pity the poor marine critters that have to swim around in the gunky excretions. 🙂 Speaking of which, and here I can squarely blame Mr Greer and Mr King, because I came across the word ‘rugose’ in the book: The Stand. So, now I know what it means – and yes, it sounds very Lovecraftian.

    Mate them talisman’s in Nebraska are very powerful indeed. When I was a kid there was always the ever present threat of the potential outcome those talisman’s produced, and the logical but highly fictional end point for them was Planet of the Apes. I had the good fortune to read the cartoon synopsis for the film in Mad Magazine, before actually seeing the film. The cartoon scene in the church where the humans were worshiping the potent talisman was extraordinary – and I just wondered how the sick were feeding themselves.

    Always pleased to introduce new obscure topics to you: Gog and Magog. You might have to hit the escape key after the page loads.

    Thanks for the link to the Fox Theatre. Fun stuff and the photos were really something else. The externals of the building left a bit to be desired but I’d be almost certain that the internals were amazing. The cinemas down here seemed to have embraced Art Deco elements for some unknown reason.



  16. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, the reference was pretty funny, but I do wonder if folks in boss dork number one land actually have a sense of humour? It’s possible and they could run with the Spinal Tap idea? Stranger things have happened.

    My memory is super hazy, but was it you that got me speaking of martial arts, which lead me to look up the old Sensei? Turns out, the bloke was something of a prodigy – and I had absolutely no idea. He was a really lovely bloke. Anyway, I ordered a book about him and it turns out that there was a photo of him about to throw me across the mat! Funny stuff and I was highly amused to see that. I put the photo in a link to my reply to Lewis… Ah yes, younger days and all that. 🙂

    Rahki the Samoyed is my kind of dog. And Spitz’s are amazingly intelligent too. Mate, it is a hazardous and challenging environment here for a dog and I’d do the fluffies a disservice if I mollycoddled and overly protected them. They have to learn the risks for themselves and then teach each other. When the snake turned up last year, both Plum and Ollie were curious, but they both also knew that it was bad news and not to be trifled with. I just can’t always be there to watch out for them, so they have to learn to exercise their own judgement. That’s a super risky approach, but what else do you do?

    Hehe! That’s funny about the chips. 🙂 Truth to tell, with cakes we have a you cut and the other person chooses rule – equity is never far from that situation! If the editor attempted the looking over the shoulder at the screen or keyboard trick, I’d mysteriously say that: ‘oi! blokes need blokes time!’ It means very little, but it’s an effective few words. 🙂 I must say that I applaud your stoicism in the face of such hardship, and can only but commiserate with you on the awfulness of having to consume all the chips yourself. A true test of endurance, and you’ve clearly triumphed in the face of adversity!

    What kind of design produces a choir loft twenty two feet above floor level with no access? Surely the designers assumed that the choir of heavenly voices would be enough to ascend the singers into the alcove high above the pulpit? Yes, that explains that, but how the heck were they going to get down again? Ah, perhaps here ol’ Dante and his inferno suggests several possible answers – hope the priest isn’t able to see the goings on up there! (alright, alright, I’ll get serious). OK, the staircase is a superb work of a master artisan / craftsman. It’s good. I’d love to be able to see such a construction and really take a good long look at the intricate details.

    Yup, the two really cold winters will do the trick for your newcomers. I get people pestering me about how cold it is up here and am often tempted to suggest to them that if they simply wore clothes appropriate for the conditions… But do I need the aggro from them? Probably not.

    Speaking of right for the conditions, there was an interesting article on the rebuilding after the epic black summer of fires two years back: Can’t stay, won’t leave. The final few lines resonated with me. As I also live in a very high risk area I’m interested in such experiences.

    You are lucky to have good bakeries nearby, and what the heck is a chocolate turtle? I’ve never heard of such a thing before.

    The heat will produce some nice flavours and aromas in your berries as long as the water is kept up. They wouldn’t mind a bit of afternoon shade too.

    Vikings definitely gave the Englishmen – and possibly also mad dogs – a run for their money for centuries, so you’re onto something there. Hey, I’ve never really came across the final straw for the end to the Viking raids in ancient Britain. Do you happen to know what put an end to them?

    Mate, on a serious note, stay safe and I do hope that your ladies cousins and family are OK in those conditions?



  17. Hi Inge,

    I really must apologise as for some reason unknown even to myself, I accidentally overlooked your comment. Ah, the old brain isn’t the sharp tool that it used to be. Oh well, moving on… 🙂

    Glad to hear that you enjoyed the photos from the city and I was thinking of you and your request when I took them. The staircase is really something else, and Melbourne is quite well known for its small laneway cafes. The food and coffee is usually pretty good and the ambience is delightful. We both enjoy the art of people watching and try to out do each other with the silly stories we make up about the people that we see. I’m not sure that the people would enjoy those stories, but you never know.

    I really don’t know about the property price crash. I’ve heard it said that you can go broke by not having any money, or alternatively having a lot of money that is worth nothing. The money printing antics appear to be favouring the latter option given the sky rocketing property prices. But with each drift upwards, there becomes a widening gap between what people earn, and what they can purchase with what they earn and with stagnant wages, the gap widens each year. I honestly don’t know how much inequality we as a society will put up with – I suspect that the reality as to that question might be very wide indeed. But I see empty shops and hear of the floundering apartment market and it takes consumers to have a consumer based economy. It’s a mess, but it is very possible that the alternatives are far worse indeed.

    Yes, unfortunately I tend to agree with you in that I too see no reason for the madness to stop. One of the interesting side stories in all of this is the reduced movement of locals out of the country – which as you’d be aware overseas travel is an import.

    There is a difference between money and wealth – they’re not the same at all. Money is a claim upon wealth, but it isn’t wealth by any stretch of the imagination.

    Hehe! Yes I too have once heard a very wealthy gentleman decry at the fact that the local rural council refused to collect his rubbish. It happens, and one of the things I love about this area is the absence of services. That’s freedom to me, but others may struggle (and I’m certain you would not find it to be a struggle either).

    Sorry to hear that the summer has now disappeared for you. I experienced that first hand last summer and it was hard. Another half inch of rain fell today, and the long term forecast is suggesting that colder and wetter conditions look set to continue. Are you getting much use out of your greenhouse this year? I moved the two tea camellia plants into my greenhouse a week or so back one of them is about to produce flowers.



  18. @Lew
    Oh dear, how awful. I may have to pass this on to Doug the next time he gets it into his head to fell a tree on his own.


  19. Hi Chris,
    Doug used to butcher our chickens and at that time we had a plucking machine which made the job just barely tolerable. We no longer have that machine so I don’t think he wants to take on that job. On occasion he’s done one or two if there’s some leg issues that indicated the bird wouldn’t make it to the butchering date. He said now that he knows that our usual place is the only game in town he’ll make his date a year in advance (which he already does for the pigs at a different place) and order chicks as close to 8 weeks prior as he can get.

    Thanks for the good wishes. We need them. We are at that point where we wonder what were we thinking when we agreed to this.

    Loved all your pics this week (well they are always wonderful). There’s quite a variety of settings. The constructed paths sure cut down on the ruts. We actually have quite a few chances of rain in the next week without really hot temperatures so maybe things are looking up.


  20. Yo, Chris – Bat poopery just doesn’t have quit the pizzazz of what I said. But the more I say it, the better I like it 🙂 .

    Odd, that. I just saw a segment on the Loretto staircase, in the last six months. I think it was an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries,” hosted by, I think, Mr. Shatner. Quiet an engineering feat, even if the divine didn’t have a hand in it.

    Wasn’t it a bit creepy, to come across a picture of your good self, in a previous incarnation? Have you looked into being paid residuals? 🙂

    Oh, the cartoonist who did the “Keep on Truckin’ was quit well known, back in the day. Robert Crumb. He also did “Fritz the Cat.” I thought he had also done “The Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers,” but that was another cartoonist. Gilbert Shelton. Underground comics. So naughty, at the time. I think I have a small pile, kicking around, somewhere.

    Oh, “Land” was that motion picture about the woman, who had some personal tragedy, and bought a gazillion acres of land, and moved out to a decrepit cabin, with no skills to speak of. But she had books! And, I hope a good map. 🙂 . Do watch it. Her cluelessness will irritate the heck out of you.

    Parsley was my go-to winter green. I threw handfuls of the stuff, in a lot of my winter casseroles. Some of the restaurants I worked in, tossed a bit of parsley on the side of whatever dish. Dress it up a bit, and take it to town. Sometimes called “garnish.” Some places resorted to plastic parsley. Not places I worked, but places I’ve ate. I wonder about the logistics of that. Do you run it through the dish washer, between uses, or just toss it? You also often see it in meat display cases.

    Yes. Sometimes it’s just better to make a suggestion, and leave it alone. Plant a seed of an idea, and see if it takes root.

    Rugose is a new one, on me. Wrinkly and brain-like. Got it.

    Gog and Magog. One wonders at the thought process, that went into picking those two particular chaps. Waste your time and these two guys will come for you? I must say though, that the sign under Magog, “My Lady’s Button Boutique,” kind of takes the edge off 🙂 .

    The movie palaces of the 20’s and 30’s came in all different styles. Moorish was big. Egyptian. But quit a few were Art Deco. Lots of neon. I suppose that “look” carried over into the present cinemas. Who doesn’t like Art Deco?

    I read the article that you linked to, for DJ. What do people do?

    Well, we’re really going to get hit with hot weather, Saturday through Monday. I do not envy Al and DJ. Prof. Mass has an article. There’s also, this …

    I made sure that Elinor knows how to set her A/C (check) and that it’s working. (check). I worry that the grid might go down. It’s going to be under terrific strain. Lew

  21. Chris,

    I’m hoping Microsoft simply does one of their service pack upgrades and, after it is completed, your software has mysteriously been renamed Windows 11. Sigh. Maybe pigs can fly. Software upgrades always irritate me. We just had major upgrades on our smart phones. Ugh! A couple features disappeared, it looks different, and some autofill functions got overwritten.

    Yes, we’ve chatted about Martial Arts at times, which has led you to your Sensei. From the short biographies you’d linked to a few days ago, I sorta picked up that he was a prodigy. Glad you were able to purchase a copy of the book! That photo is evidence that you were once very young.

    Having dogs in an environment such as yours is similar to what life used to be like. And it’s not that different, apparently, from raising children. Teach them what you can, but they still have their own minds and make their own choices. Risky approach that you have? I think realistic and natural are better descriptors. Life happens, including disasters.

    Oh yes, we have that same “I cut, you choose” rule too. Funny how it works out, though: regardless of who cuts, the Princess somehow ends up with the larger piece. 😉

    Funny, but we had similar questions when we were looking at that staircase. It was actually pretty awe-inspiring in person.

    The winters of 2007-2008 and 2008-2009 were snowy and cold. We had a new neighbor as of July 2007 from San Jose, California. By early January, said neighbor announced that she was moving back. She moved in May. And the worst part of that winter hadn’t hit yet! Our second winter here was the dread 1968-1969 winter, another doozy. We loved it.

    Interesting article about those fires. There’s no good answers. The towns of Malden and Pine City, just south of here, both went through this last September. Over 80% of Malden burned down, and about 50% of Pine City.

    Okay, a turtle is pecans and maybe caramel with chocolate on them. We actually get chocolate turtle cake, which is basically a decadent form of a brownie. When in doubt, ask the expert, so I found a recipe from Betty Crocker. The piece that is pictured at the start of the article looks much like what we purchase. I cut, Princess chooses. For that turtle cake, I make sure that the pieces are identical in size.

    What ended the Viking raids? Well, several things. A lot of trading villages and cities were founded, such as Dublin and Limerick in Ireland. Too many armed men and fortresses there, and the trading was lucrative and less dangerous than raiding. Then a bunch of England was conquered by, ceded to and settled by Vikings around the time of Alfred the Great in the late 800s, although the Saxon kings soon took over rulership again. The raiding parties kept getting bigger and bigger. By the late 900s, there were Scandinavian kings, and wannabe kings, leading the raids on a national scale. Eventually, Swein Forkbeard of Denmark conquered England in 1013, but promptly died. His son, Canute, eventually conquered England in 1016. The Vikings had taken over. Thorfinn the mighty, Earl of Orkney, led Viking raids all over Ireland, western Scotland and into England a few times circa 1030. Then the Norman Conquest, and the resultant feudalism and armed men and castles everywhere really put a kibosh on Vikings in England. (This eventually happened at enough places that the raiding ended.) Swein Estrithsson of Denmark, Forkbeard’s daughter’s son, tried to assist some Saxon rebels with another massive Viking raid, but was bought off by William the Bast@&d, er, Conqueror. But that was almost more of an invasion than a Viking raid. Magnus Barelegs, king of Norway at the end of the 11th century, went on a long Viking raid into Ireland and Wales. About the final Viking recorded was Sweyn Asleifson of Gairsay in the Orkney Islands. He was killed during a Viking raid in Dublin in 1171.

    Thanks for the wishes for our welfare. Most of my in laws have AC. Not all do, and this could get brutal. I hope the electricity grid holds up. If all else fails, we can move into our basement. The warmest that it has ever gotten in the summer is 22C, so it is a good refuge if the power quits.


  22. Hi, Chris!

    I always love seeing photos of your Big Smoke. Only one slice of Lemon Meringue was harmed, eh? The stairway is a house of cards. I have to tell you that I think there may be a few screws loose in that Big Smoke, though at least they are full of good humor, if wall murals and letter boxes are any indication.

    Your agapanthus is blooming in mid-winter and mine, planted 2 years ago, still sits in its bed with a few scrawny leaves and never a bloom yet. Maybe it just is not getting enough sun. Dare I move it?


  23. Lewis,

    Please extend my sympathy to your friends and their family in Idaho. Shalen’s accident sounded truly horrific. Some news can be good, whilst other news you wish that it never was. And yes, life can turn on a dime and from what you wrote, Shalen’s life will never be the same again. Nobody knows the future and some people have deep reserves of resilience with which to draw upon in times of crisis – and I can only hope that Shalen is one such.

    With sympathy,


  24. Hi Pam, DJ and Margaret,

    Tis the dreaded mid-week hiatus and candidly we’re making a dash for the pub before the state gets locked down again. A certain sort of fatigue in relation to this response is beginning to settle in, but I’m keeping my chin up, stiff up lip and all that – and a pint of the areas finest will also assuage ruffled nerves. 🙂



  25. Hi Lewis,

    I left a separate note below in relation to Shalen, and was wondering if you have had any updates? The family would be freaking out right now, sorry to say.

    Bat poopery does have a certain sort of ring to it. It would almost be the sort of thing you’d hear spoken in that 1960’s version of Batman. I was always left with the feeling with that show that there were ripe undercurrents flowing just out of sight.

    Mixed up another half a cubic metre (0.65 cubic yards) of compost with other stuff today. The resulting mix was placed onto the highest garden terrace, and I reckon there is only one more load of that stuff to complete the job. In future years, those terraces won’t need as much in the way of soil food, but this year it is an epic job. I dragged the electric cement mixer up there and used that machine to mix up the ingredients and it did an amazing job.

    Hehe! Do you reckon the story has some truth to it that the carpenter refused to charge for the work undertaken on the Loretto staircase? It sounds a bit far fetched, but I could see that construction of such buildings would become a community matter.

    No, it wasn’t creepy to come across an old photograph of myself about to be thrown by an 8th dan black belt. I didn’t stand a chance. I was pretty chuffed actually. I attended the Dojo because I was thrown into a very aggressive culture and the kids expected you to know how to fight, so best give them plenty of reasons not to want to fight you in the first place. An almost certain loss at my gentle hands is one of those reasons. 🙂

    That’s the guy: Robert Crum. He’s still around too. Yeah, the underground comics would have been very cool.

    Oh, that film, well maybe. Do I need to be razzed up by incompetence? I can’t say for sure, but possibly the answer is no.

    Parsley is referred to as garnish down here too. Plastic replica food sounds kind of really weird as a concept. Not sure that I’m a fan of such novel ideas. I’ve noticed occasionally that plastic forks and knives (take away – which I avoid like the plague) have begun to be replaced with wooden items – at least they compost up readily.

    Well yeah, heavy handed hectoring may occasionally get the job done, but people end up hating you for having gone down that path – and then the awful flip side is that they might become dependent and lazy in their thoughts and actions because they’ve outsourced that job to someone else – I’ve never been involved in such an outcome, but I’ve seen it taking place.

    Gotta run! Will speak tomorrow.



  26. @ Margaret & Chris – I can now better see, why arborists get the big bucks.

    Shalen update: They keep finding more and more broken stuff. All the ribs on one side, and some on the other. The major concerns right now, is keeping his blood pressure down. And, for the swelling in his legs to go down enough to do some repairs. Oh, and his kidney’s aren’t functioning up to tic.

    But, on the bright side, no brain damage. He’s got a breathing tube in, so can’t talk. But, he can blink his eyes, and squeeze his wife’s hand, to communicate. When the tube comes out, he’ll be able to talk, just fine. Lew

  27. @ Margaret – Before my friends moved to Idaho, I helped them “process” 200+ chickens. They skinned them. A really, really easy process. Of course, we do all love our crispy chicken skin, but if you’re shooting for easing the task, it’s the way to go. Lew

  28. Yo, Chris – Once Shalen is out of the hospital, a lot of his rehab can be done from home. But which home? Storm clouds are gathering on the family horizon. His mum has “plans.” So does his wife. (My friends daughter.) The wife is showing remarkable restraint, and just bidding her time. Until the breathing tube comes out. Shalen’s mum drives him bug … poop. So I’d lay odds as to where he’ll end up. 🙂 .

    Batman was ripe for parody. Still is. I think Mad Magazine sent him up, more than once. There are also very naughty parodies, kicking around. 🙂 .

    Effort / benefit analysis. Is it worth hauling a very heavy cement mixer, to the top terrace, to get a good mix of compost? Apparently, so. If you’ve got a better tool for the job, than mixing it about in a wheelbarrow, it makes sense to use it. You probably also get a move even mix of compost.

    Wiki Hoopia has a pretty good entry on the Loretto staircase. Even probably identified who made it. And, there was even an entry in the Sister’s account books, that a fair chunk of money had been paid to this fellow, “for wood and carpentry.” He probably gave the Sisters a good deal, but they didn’t get off scott free.

    This year’s crop of plastic forks, are looking very good, in my garden. 🙂 . Great for keeping the cats at bay, and, for marking where I’ve planted seed, from year to year. They get re-used, over and over.

    I finished the book on Shakespeare (yes, I think it makes a pretty good case for Sir Thomas North “influencing” a lot of Shakespeare’s plays) and the book on the peopling of Europe. Now it’s onto Lewis’s “The Premonition.” I’m having a hard time, putting it down. So well written. It’s about You Know What. And, I don’t know how interesting it would be, to someone outside the U.S.. I’d always thought highly, of our CDC (Center for Disease Control.) Now, not so much.

    The heat will settle in, day after tomorrow. I’m making some preparations. Had a talk with our night manager, last night. At least she will be here, over the weekend. In case the building circuit breakers trip. But if the grid goes down, we’ll be in a bad way. I started freezing up ice, this morning. Might come in handy. Lew

  29. Hi Pam,

    The big smoke of Melbourne has a lot of life left in it and there are all sorts of nooks and crannies and out of the way cafes there, restaurants and roof top bars over there. It is a really fascinating city, but yeah things are a bit super crazy right now. Tell ya what though, that hasn’t stopped us from enjoying the facilities, other folks, well that is their story and they have to sleep with that story at night.

    Well yeah, it was unfortunate that we didn’t have more time to sample the businesses wares, all for research purposes of course. Honestly it was really hard to know where to draw the line. But you can rest assured that today, some very high quality scones with home made raspberry jam and double thick cream were utterly consumed for morning tea and there might have been a lemon slice in there at lunch time. It is true that we’re doing things hard, but I can assure you truly that it is all purely for research purposes. I’d hate to think that there was the remotest possibility that you fell for a sub-par scone, it would be awful and the guilt would never leave me (at least for a short while anyway). 🙂

    Hehe! It was pretty quirky wasn’t it? Some of the street art is truly astounding, although I must say that some artists don’t go out of their way to conform to the expected norms. Years ago I managed to capture an image of street art of a guy in full combat gear pointing a wupon at the viewer with the caption: “You are free … To do what we tell you”. A rather large building now obscures the art.

    It depends on how hot your summer is. The Agapanthus here normally take a while to become established and produce flowers, but in the hottest and driest years they’ll produce flowers which the bees will adore. You might be able to dig the plant up, but I had to get the jackhammer onto that job last time I tried. Good luck. The plant roots are similar, but perhaps larger and thicker to what potatoes send out.



  30. Hi Margaret,

    Yes, a feather plucking machine is a godsend for processing chickens. My mates of the big shed fame have a stainless steel unit and you might get a laugh out of this, but in my ignorance I was looking at the machine years ago and asking them the hard question: What is this thing? 🙂 It is an amazing contraption and the dead chicken spins around and around and the rubber protrusions in the drum pluck off the feathers neatly in no time at all. Imagine being the person who came up with such a machine – and the thing works too. I had a look at how things were done in the past, and I have a great memory for sounds and can unfortunately recall the sound that is made from ripping feathers from a chicken carcass.

    I’m happy to eat meat when off the farm, but we have a primary focus on plants and eggs. Such a diet is not inspiring, but it will keep a person alive and healthy. But when at the pub I’m more than happy to scarf down a chicken schnitzel. Yum! 🙂

    You know, your processing situation kind of reminds me of the bind that I’m in down here in that in the local area there are certain suppliers, and eventually it comes down to a two way street where there is certain sort of mutual obligation and relationship involved. Which reminds me that I’m now getting the various farm machines serviced in the off season rather than at peak times and may have to continue sending them down for service. Doug is spot on to plan that far in advance. I’ve heard on the rumour mill that firewood is desperately in short supply this season (hardly a surprise to me) and that story suggests much in relation to Doug’s longer term plan.

    Hehe! And thanks. Sometimes, you can get caught up in events which at first seemed one way, but were actually another different path altogether. It is hard to know how to respond to such circumstances, but my strategy is to just kind of roll and see where it leads. My only fear in relation to your situation (and this is my concern and clearly not theirs) is that the people involved put as much effort into the days afterwards scenario, but time will sort that all out. In the end, a signature on a piece of paper is merely that. The paper may lend some force in some circumstances, but in different circumstances it may be blithely ignored – and then trouble sets in. It ain’t an end point, it is another beginning and isn’t that fun?

    Thank you very much. Yesterday I rolled down the path in the highest garden terrace using a fully laden hand wheelbarrow and added an extra 0.65 cubic yards of compost plus the extra additives into the garden rows up there. There is probably another load of that stuff with all of the work that entails, but it keeps us fit and active! 🙂

    Hope you score some more rain. Have you measured the soil temperature in your vegie beds?



  31. Hi DJ,

    Yeah it is a real pain, and I hear you about the smart phones. One of the basic functions on my device (messaging) one day out of the blue not that long ago began mysteriously to malfunction. Then in no short time, the dread beastie stopped working. I then had to purchase third party software that did the same job I was previously getting for free. And what is with all of the silly names for this software? And believe me, I went through the help forums trying to work out what had went wrong – as I’m sure you also did after your major upgrade.

    But anyway, one out of three computing devices has now been upgraded to boss dork number one version 10. The thing is, I need to set aside a day for each of the two remaining machines, and that always comes at a personal cost – it is no fun to be mucking around with this stuff. And the editors machine gets done last on the basis that it will be less hassle as once sufficient experience has developed – hopefully things go easier. That’s the plan anyway.

    That was the thing that struck me too about the Sensei. Here I was trained by this prodigy, and I had no idea. He was such a formidable presence, but also a really lovely bloke that he just didn’t need to talk up his runs on the board – he was the runs on the board. You got me thinking about all this when you mentioned that boxers were trained to respect the person, and that was similarly taught in the Dojo. It is a funny thing to intuitively realise that in that particular circumstance, the boss was the boss in that Dojo and nobody else came close, but if we’d displayed the willingness he would have trained us to his level. And yes, it is quite amusing to see oneselves younger incarnation in a serious book on martial arts! 🙂

    Life does happen, including all of the various disasters. I don’t know anything about raising kids, but I can see that others hold on really tight – and that strategy often backfires, but you know it is a commonplace aspiration. I’m reading Stephen King’s The Stand at the moment and am really enjoying the book. The author plugged in an almost comedic chapter of scene after scene where all sorts of hapless characters survived Captain Tripps only to have met their ends through the most stupid of circumstances. I should not have been chuckling about that chapter, but it was kind of funny. The thing is though, the characters were free of their restrictions but knew not their limits.

    Ah, DJ I respect your desire to indulge your lady and mostly subscribe to your point of view. But occasionally, and I do this randomly, I chose otherwise just to keep the her scrupulously honest and appreciative of the times when fate turns against me. It’s not quite chivalrous, but I can’t always be good. 😉

    I see that Lewis has spilled the beans on the Loretto staircase. Free for such high end work sounds like a claim that is too good to be true.

    That’s what you call San Jose soft. Did you know that the council building there sort of looks like a Dalek to me? Or at least R2D2. Imagine what sort of baloney the doors would say as they allowed your passage? Glad to be of service…

    Out of curiosity, have Malden and Pine City began rebuilding? The building regulations were significantly increased so that replacement buildings could survive wildfire and that was what the BAL-FZ (which is what I had to deal with) was all about. You’d think that at some point common sense would prevail and really basic and cheap houses would be allowed that were uninsurable? As a response that makes sense to me, but no we went the entire other direction. I see that a major building collapsed in your country in the sand state.

    Thanks for the explanation, and whilst being different there are certain similarities between a chocolate turtle cake and a sticky date pudding. Yum!

    Thanks for the most excellent history lesson, and the Vikings clearly had a well earned reputation. Sweyn Asleifsson was quite the character! It is of interest to me that historically speaking the end of the Viking raids must have lead to a increase in the population and it wasn’t too many years later that the Great Famine 1315-1317 was followed not long after by the Black Death.

    My pleasure and you and I and your folks live in a sometimes very harsh climate. I regularly deal with such summer temperatures and it is possible to get by without AC, but houses these days are hardly fit for the environment with which they are constructed. I really do wish you and your family well through this trying time.



  32. Hello Chris
    I realised that you had missed my comment but I waited as I had noticed you usually catch up with these. I guess that you do a run through check or perhaps the Editor checks up on your possible short comings.

    Elder daughter has mentioned to me (Australian values). Entertaining satire though the language could do with some pruning.

    Warm and wet here. The wild is growing rapidly and trying to overcome me while the stuff that I plant is in real trouble and scarcely moving.

    Off to a barbecue this evening for a neighbour’s 50th birthday. The first time that I have seen such excitement for a long long time.


  33. Hi Lewis,

    Arborists do indeed get the big bucks, and a champion axeman is rare these days – it is not a job for the careless or unskilled. And although the crew of the tree dudes changes slightly over the years, there are a core few members that have earned their stripes. It is not a job to hurry and I never interrupt them at their work. Shalen is very lucky that he is alive. When I was a very new member of the local fire brigade, one of the members died when allegedly a tree they were cutting fell upon them. Despite being trained in the use of a chainsaw, I have no skill in the tree dropping arena and only really know what to do once the tree is on the ground. Someone once said to me to always trust an older bloke in that job as he’d already had to survive many close encounters in his days and as such probably wouldn’t take any risks. Sound advice.

    I hope nobody expects Shalen to do any ‘splainin because what happened happened and there ain’t anything that anyone can do about it now, so there is no point berating the guy – he already has to face punishment enough.

    What a nightmare scenario, and I’m guessing that some practicalities might rear their head in that particular lady-stand-off. I mean someone has to earn a living and that might prove the decider in the matter of who is going to do the day to day care. It won’t be a simple matter that’s for sure.

    Batman is ripe for parody! 🙂 Yeah, hey the recent Joker film, which was remarkably very good, kind of raised the awful question which might not have been asked before in that fiction franchise: Were the Wayne family driving the rest of the citizens of Gotham city into economic misery? By the end of the film I was kind of sympathising with the plight of the Joker and how he came to be the person he ended up being. Sun Tzu suggested something or other about not backing ones opponents into a corner from which they had no possibility of escape.

    The cement mixer is bonkers large – and one of the few machines I’d perhaps bought which was too large for purpose. But then I dunno as I haven’t used a smaller cement mixer. For all I know the machine might be awesome and thus this points to the dilemma of unwittingly getting something right the first time around and not knowing it. Anyway, the machine is on wheels on two of the three legs so I could haul it up the hill. The leg without the wheel is a right pain if it accidentally clips your leg – ouch!

    The mix turned out pretty well all things considered and I had the mixer on the middle terrace and then had to haul the result to the top most terrace in a wheelbarrow. That was the hardest part of the job, although no part of the entire job left me sitting on my backside.

    Hey, we eventually got those scones this morning which I missed out on two weeks back due to the storm damage. Everywhere I went today there were huge machines tackling the storm damage and I noticed one property where it looked as though dump trucks were adding forest materials to a massive burnoff pile manned by three very large and constantly moving excavators. It was a ways off the road as I’m guessing the greenies would get annoyed that the stuff wasn’t chipped up – if that was even possible. The cleanup job will take months and I finally came across areas where the storm winds and rain were brutal enough to lay waste to a couple of acres at a time of forest. It would have been very hard on the forest critters during those days of the storm – and also afterwards.

    Wiki hoopla! Like it, and yes that shall be the unofficial moniker. 🙂 I was reading about the Great Famine of 1315 – 1317 and that century in Europe would have been horrendous and I can see why the authorities and the church lost much credibility.

    Who would have thought that the sisters would possibly stretch the truth in relation to the spiral staircase. The cheeky scamps. No doubts the staircase itself would perhaps increase tourism to see the miracle? It is a sound business plan.

    Oh yeah, someone I’ve known for many years suggested to me today that down here we are soon to go into another lock down due to the health subject which dare not be named. It is possible that we’ll all go broke fighting this one.

    Cats are awful like that. No, a garden bed is not a giant kitty litter tray, and no you may not do your business there. Mind you, the two kelpie sheep dog girls have somehow decided collectively that digging deep holes in two raised garden beds would be an awesome activity. I need to put those two dogs to work so that they are kept out of mischief.

    Sir Thomas North was one of those people put on the planet to set the bar higher and give something to aim at for us lesser folk. 🙂 There must have been interesting circumstances going on at the time in that part of the world to have produced a person such as Sir Thomas North and Shakespeare. Or am I off the mark with that thought?

    Michael Lewis is a great author and I have enjoyed several of his books. Glad to hear that you are enjoying his latest installment. And yes, declining credibility is a problem, that’s for sure.

    Hope that the power stays on and that the heat is not too severe. If it gets windy as well, that will be a major problem.

    Rugose is a very strange description, and it all sounds a bit ‘Silence of the Lambs’ to me.

    Gog and Magog look pretty stern and unyielding and so are probably very handy at the protection game. Hehe! Yes, the button sign looked so seventies that it hurt. The building is in incredible condition and it is a real pleasure to walk through and just look around at the intricate detail. I noted that an apartment building collapsed in your country. Horrendous.

    Speaking of art deco, I used to live around the corner from the: Westgarth Cinema which is still in operation today. Back in those days it was called the Valhalla Cinema and they used to run a late night screening of the Blues Brothers film on Friday nights (yes, yes, it’s a musical). So I’m sitting with my girlfriend at the time during the intermission of the late night film when a whole bunch of folks wearing Blues Brothers clothes loudly awarded us the virgin award – I guess we kind of looked tired at that late hour and also possibly very clean cut. I was rather bemused with the award. Some people get into mensa, and I on the other hand was awarded more dubious claims to fame. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Yeah, the article about the bushfire recovery was a ripper, and I must say that the academic took a very strong and unwise stance, but you know it’s an opinion I guess. I’ve got another interesting article up my sleeve about this topic, but have put too many links up tonight. More on this later. The FZ rating cost claims don’t match my experience, but then I did have to construct the small house myself – a larger house at that fire rating would break most families.

    Good luck with the weather. Another two thirds of an inch of rain fell here today. I got some photos of the tree damage in other nearby locales. Shocking stuff.



  34. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for understanding, and sometimes errors do slip into the system. In my working life at the big end of town I once had a very difficult discussion which should have otherwise been very simple with a Board as to why a set of accounts could never be perfect, and they failed to believe or even understand me. Personally I believe that their belief was a crude attempt to offload responsibility for the dull finance side of the business, but who really knows what motivations drive other people? Beats me.

    The editor does not read the comments.

    Inge, thanks for mentioning the Australien values and I’m watching the goings on with a certain sort of fascinated horror and my future votes are not going to either of those political parties. One of the people mentioned was a whistleblower and they threw the book at the guy, although it has since gone quiet and the practices changed.

    Yes, it was sort of similar here last year as the forest bloomed with growth, but the vegetables – not so much. I looked back at the late December photos and the tomatoes were barely passed being taller than seedlings. Have you had such a growing season before?

    Hope the barbecue was nice.



  35. @ Inge – If we all liked the same things, the world would be really, really boring. 🙂 Lew

  36. Yo, Chris – It’s not as if Shalen doesn’t know his way around the woods. He worked for the Forest Service, for years. And not riding a desk. I wonder if the bark beetles had anything to do with it? They worked on his legs, a bit, yesterday. His liver is cranking out too much bile, but once the intestine is repaired, they’ll run a tube to it… yeah, I don’t understand it all, either. He was to be off his air tube, for 15 minutes, yesterday. But managed to make 45. But the doctor has said he’s not out of the woods, and still may do the Reaper Shuffle. Finger’s crossed and give that prayer wheel, another spin.

    Yes, where DID that Wayne family money come from. You may remember the exchange between, I think, Batman and Robin. When asked what his superpower is, he said, “I’m rich.” There’s a story in that quip.

    Re: The cement mixer. Sometimes, we fall face down in good fortune. While avoiding bashing one’s head on a rock. 🙂 . Little did I know that my little chest freezer, would turn out to be the best working surface, in my kitchen.

    Well, they’ve got to burn off that slash, as soon as possible. As you well know. That stuff makes great fuel, once it dries out.

    Well, there’s a long tradition of plumping “miracles,” to goose the tourist trade. All the way back to Glastonbury … and further. “Oh, look! We’ve found the bones of King Arthur. And Guinevere!”

    Sir Thomas North, was a second son. And, as his brother and he had an on and off relationship, he did it hard, money wise. That “Sir,” by the way, came from a battlefield promotion. There were clues, that he wrote plays. Now, vanished. And may have sold them to Shakespeare, when he fell on hard times.

    (We take a short break, as the stars are aligning, and there’s an E-Bay auction ending, and, a food box due to show up, at any time.) To Be Continued …)

  37. LOL. Yo, Chris – Continued … after about an hour of total chaos.

    The food boxes and the auction ending, arrived almost simultaneously. First thing I’ve bought at auction, in a long time. Not Currier and Ives, but four English temperance prints, from about 1830. This link may work …

    A bit of distilled water, and some bloating paper, and that ought to take care of the water marks. I got them for $12.50 for the lot. The shipping is more, than the cost of the prints. If you click on “See Original Listing,” after the title header, you can see all four.

    The food box was it’s usual mix of good stuff, and junk food. To keep, there’s a dozen eggs, cans of diced tomatoes, a good brand of hot sauce, some good canned chicken. No fat, canned refried beans. There’s a box of salted carmel pretzel biscuits. Which I may have to sample. Purely in the interest of science. 🙂 Lots of strange packets and boxes of mixes. There’s also a pouch of Tasty Bite, Organic, Indian Channa Masala (chickpeas with Tomato, Onion & Spices.) I have very little experience with Indian food. Hmmm. Add some chicken and on a bed of rice? Might be tasty. Most of the ingredients are pretty straight forward. But, back to your epistle.

    The collapse of that building, was just horrific. There was some security footage, from a near by building, that caught the event. There’s lots of information, as to why it happened, but it’s early days, and all at cross purposes. But, it was built right on the ocean. About 40 years old. There’s a best selling book, that has “The parable of the wise and foolish builder.” Something about not building on sand.

    I saw another article, about Key West, Florida. Something about how the city was broke, but was going to go ahead and start raising their streets. Due to more and more frequent flooding.

    The Westgarth Cinema, looks like a little gem. The documentary I watched mentioned that neighborhood cinemas, and cinemas in small towns, were scaled down models of the CBD movie palaces. Looks like the Westgarth has some nice stained glass, on the second floor.

    Brushfires? Never fear. The Fire Monks are back on the job!

    Battening down the hatches, and preparing for The Big Heat. I made a huge bowl of bean salad, last night. Something cold I can just pick at. Also included in our box this morning, was bottled water. A first. Lew

  38. Chris:

    We had a cold spring, and a mostly cool summer so far, so I guess my agapanthus is just sulking. Thank you for letting me know that I might need a jackhammer to move it. I haven’t got one.

    I could swear that I remember a photo on your blog of the mural with the fellow and the wupon (are we being clever, or is that a boo boo)?


  39. Chris,

    I just had another Windows 10 upgrade. This is the one where they want us to give up passwords for either fingerprint or facial recognition. Not happening here. The other option is to have a PIN. I don’t understand, but that’s what they’re trying – no more passwords. As well as a bunch of other oddities. I was able to put off doing anything for a few days…Good luck with your upgrade plan for multiple machines.

    The Stand was one of my favorite Stephen King novels. The other was the Dead Zone. He had a book of novellas that included “Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption” and “Stand by Me”, both of which turned into fine movies IMO.

    I HAVE to be good to the Princess. Severe pain in various body parts ensues when I’m not. Lately, there has been the (joking of course) threat that she’ll make me sleep with Cheyenne, who, of course, is buried in what was her favorite place in the yard. So I try to be good. Very good. 😉

    Oh, the staircase maker might not have been paid in money. But he was probably obtaining major brownie points from the Church.

    Oh gag, I looked up San Jose city hall. R2D2 or a Dalek indeed! Spokane has twin apartment buildings downtown that look similar. When they were newly constructed in about 1970, they were referred to as “The Trash Cans”.

    I dunno where Malden and Pine City are in the process. I do know that they did not get any federal money for recovery and rebuilding. Politics, right? A lot of the homes remind me of those in the article you had linked to. IIRC, the electric and phone utilities were replaced.

    Basic and cheap homes? Like in homes that are affordable? What the local builders call “affordable” aren’t new homes I could ever buy. It think they mean affordable to San Jose people. There’s no money in building truly affordable homes. There is a huge need for them, though.

    Once the Migration Period really ended, then consolidationand eventual stability via feudalism, there was less opportunity for a small gang to go raiding, so populations could grow again. Once a population has exceeded it’s technological ability to feed, clothe and house its people, that society is perfectly set up for severe problems due to drought, one or two bad growing seasons leading to famine, and pestilence. Hence the 14th century, as you noted.

    Thanks again for the good wishes. Saturday is forecast to be the first of the HOT and blisteringly hot days. I’ll keep you informed.


  40. @ Lew


    Hello Chris
    I don’t remember a growing year as bad as this one is turning out to be.

    The barbecue was superb, I have never before seen such a quantity of varied food at a do of this kind. They had set up a huge marquee so the food was under cover. I left with a gift of sufficient to feed me today.We were all outside as the weather was kind to us. I met many interesting people too, A good thing really after the isolation that we have all had to endure.

    The couple who bought the grand designs property have now moved in and were at the barbecue, a very interesting pair.


  41. Hi Lewis,

    Well Shalen may have learned the hard way that trees are very unpredictable. When I accidentally took out the local power grid many long years ago by dropping a tree onto the wire, the fine was punitive and may not have been the full cost of the story. Anyway, people came from everywhere that day to gawp at my error. One of the group of folks was the tree crew from the local council. The lead guy put on a bit of a show at removing a dangerous tree, and it fell in a totally unexpected direction. Only the tree knows its own business sorry to say and the power company folks seeing that effort may have gone easier on me with the fine. It was still about $1,100 and my fear at the time suggested a larger number. I’m also sorry to say that all other considerations to the side, it is not a job to do on your own. But really none of that matters and it is a bit late for such words. I hope he pulls through.

    That particular background to the Batman story is pretty interesting isn’t it? It is so obvious from hindsight, but not at all clear at first glance.

    Caught the train into the big smoke today to catch up with the Green Wizards. Good fun, but alas no more tiramisu – it is a dessert travesty. There’s plenty of construction activity in and around the city. Masks have to be worn on the trains and the conductor said several times over the loudspeaker for everyone to wear their masks and concluded by adding that we don’t want to go into lock down like they’re enjoying up in the city of Sydney right now. Nice. Last time I checked, apparently there are meant to be no cases here. On the train ride into the city, the lady sitting opposite me saw all of the construction work and remarked to me that the city is a very ugly place. The skies and light today were a particularly dreary shade of grey – the sort you’d imagine that some set designer of a New York crime drama chose as their favourite winter scene. I said to the lady that it is not all ugly. By way of explanation for her comment I guess, she remarked that she lived in the country, and her clothes reflected that.

    Well you know that the almost face plant on the rock all those months back has been on my mind of late. And you’re right too, I was very lucky that day as things could have been much worse. As a bit of an update on the entire matter, I have had to change the way that I physically work around the farm. Slower, more cautious and careful of where my feet are being placed. I can change and accept the change with good grace. The editor asked me to do something on Thursday which I considered a bit risky in the conditions and I just said no, and that I’d do the task a different way. Of course accidents will still happen that much is assured, but it’s not a bad idea to reduce the risk of stupid incidents – like the almost rock face plant. If hard lesson needed to be learned, the outcome wasn’t as bad as it could have been, and for that I’m quietly grateful.

    Hehe! The chest freezer is probably at the right height, and I’d be almost certain that the lid is made of very hardy and solid materials. 🙂 When you said that you’d bought something recently at auction I was kind of wondering if it was something for the kitchen, but no.

    The forest materials lying around will dry out and season just in time for a worrisome conflagration come next summer. Not good, but it kind of surprises me that the state gobarmint has decided to take on board that task for themselves. You’d think that an easy way to clean the forests up quickly would be to allow folks to come up and harvest the firewood for themselves at their own risk. How hard would that be? But no. It is a bit like the blackberries (your bramble berry) – rather than spraying the stuff every year for it to grow back, just tell people to come up and harvest the stuff at their own risk, but no. Admittedly that plant does form new roots when a cane tip settles on the ground.

    Oh yeah, we’d spoken a long time back regarding the graves of King Arthur and Guinevere being tourist destinations. Funny to think of a religious organisation that way in the folks have to put on a show for the public.

    I did notice that about Sir Thomas North knighthood. He would have been a formidable intellectual presence. Just got reminded about the masks over the loud speaker (I’m still on the train but now deep into the countryside). It interested me that Sir North earned an annual pension for services rendered, and he has doing the battle thing into his middle age which quite surprised me. In those days I guess old soldiers would have been like old arborists – they knew their business.

    I too take a short break to pack up and alight the train!


  42. Hi Lewis (the double secret cont from home reply),

    Ah, the dread progress of inebrity – been there myself a few times. The prints were quite fetching and with the exception of the Spanish Legion recruiting office and possibly also the guy in a stupour at his desk, the other two looked to be having a grand time of it. Out of curiosity, how did the Temperance League work their stuff so that these prints were titled: The Life of a Gentleman? I didn’t quite understand the why of that title as the historical context was lost on me. I’m assuming that it was a bad thing to be thought of in that regard? When I clicked on the link I’d originally thought that you’d scored the 1872 print of that groups massive shindig at the Crystal Palace. There are an astounding amount of people in the picture and if you look really carefully there is some guy in the centre standing at a pulpit, err sorry, a podium.

    I salute your forays into the field of testing so as to extend the scientific endeavour. So, how did the pretzels taste? 🙂 As a very dumb question, why would refried beans have fat in the first place? I’ve only ever encountered such beans in a sort of thick tomato based sauce – quite tasty too. Indian food is very good, but often quite spicy. There is an organic Indian restaurant which the editor and I occasionally eat at, and the food is superb. It has looked the same for as long as I can recall, and the food is just the thing for a dark wet winters evening. Rogan Josh is a personal fave – the finest lamb meal you’ll ever eat, oh, well unless you know where to go for a proper souvlaki. So good, but too much meat affects my sleep for some reason, but the souvlaki are so good.

    Yeah, that was my gut feeling with the collapsed building. And aerial maps sort of indicated to me that the entire land mass looked to me like a giant sandspit. It might not be that landform, and perhaps there is some solid bedrock under it all, but sandspit is just a wild hunch based on a cursory look. I’d imagine that dwellers in nearby apartment blocks are feeling less sure of the longevity of their own buildings right now. I’ve often wondered to myself how all these epic over scaled buildings will go over the long term. Gravity has a bad habit of bringing the earths back to itself.

    Good luck with that job. It’s been a long time since I’ve visited the ocean, but I noted that the ocean had after a really big storm washed over the main road leading into the tourist town. It’s been a while now, so who knows what is going on down there. I used to like visiting the town because it was super sleepy.

    The Westgarth cinema is a truly beautiful building inside and out, and it works perfectly well and serves the needs of the locals. Shopping malls are around in the big smoke, but there is considerable distance between them and so they aren’t always convenient. The inner suburbs are serviced by strip shops. In the outer suburbs things are different again and there you find big box stores. Country towns are different yet again, and they have a central area for shops and then a slightly detached and more out of the way industrial area for the more fundamental local services.

    Small country towns have none of any of that, and they still retain the main road shops and pub and that’s about it. If you dropped someone in from a century ago, they’d still recognise the main street and the various functions.

    Go the fire monks, and I doff my hat to them. Those folks are practical AF. I like them, but at some point in the far distant future, they might have to act proactively – and I’m not sure how that would sit with their creed? If they had my back though in a crisis, I’d trust them for sure.

    Bean salad is very wise – and we also do salads in such weather (but can bake fresh bread outside of the house).

    Speaking of fires: The debate over fighting fire with fire in the Kimberley . The article is one of the few that I’ve seen which really portrays the utterly divided nature of the entire debate and reality. As a thought experiment I began counting the number of diverse opinions, but soon lost count in the swampy murk of entrenched interests. And all but a few of them are utterly disconnected with the country.



  43. Hi Pam,

    Ah, a jackhammer you may not have (and use the clay spade to in that machine – just in case I’d not mentioned that), but I’m sure you have a strapping son who can substitute at a pinch using a mattock (or axe). Seriously the root systems for Agapanthus plants are very large and super hardy. That is how they survive 100’F+ weather and continue to produce flowers.

    Now let’s get down to business, an electric jackhammer with a clay spade can dig even the toughest of clay soils in the blink of an eye. Just a suggestion. When we first arrived here the clay soils had no top soil to speak of and the clay was as hard as concrete. I used to swing the mattock at that stuff and the hardness defied imagination. Of course if you have plenty of time then additions of organic matter or minerals such as gypsum will do the breaking job – but if you’re ever in a hurry nothing beats an electric jackhammer with a clay spade.

    How’s Mr Musty and Mr Dumpy going?

    Haha! Your memory serves you correctly, and indeed there was a photo of that artwork. I spoke earlier today with a friend who also admires the local street art and it has an ephemeral nature.

    And we are being clever indeed! Miss-spelling is a simple way to discuss unconventional subjects and throw off the stupid interweb robots that crawl through the murky web spaces doing whatever it is that they do. When I was a kid I wrote a basic version of a database and they may be bigger and better nowadays, but same, same at the core idea. The advances aren’t as advanced as some would make you believe. 😉



  44. Hi Inge,

    Yikes! As a general rule of thumb, it is never good to experience a climate extreme, but sometimes you find yourself immersed in one and having to deal with that all the same. Hmm.

    After the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 a lot of particulates were thrown into the atmosphere. The following summer was cool and wet and I recall that during January in 2011 almost 10 inches of rain fell in 5 days, and I’d never seen so much water falling out of the sky before. And in those days the systems for dealing with that volume of water on this property were not as well established and tested as they are now.

    Your barbecue sounded like it was fun, and yes social isolation is not much fun at all. A bit of distance and quiet time is nice, too much is a bad thing and as always there is some middle ground to be found.

    Oh good stuff. I’m really glad that you had the opportunity to meet the couple who bought the Grand Designs house, and did you discover what the excavations were for? I guessed a pond, but for all I know they might have been digging a bunker or root cellar.

    Did anyone in your area make any indications that they were interested in growing edibles or raising live stock?



  45. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I had to go to the dark side of the force and begin the slow upgrade process knowing full well that the former version of the software worked perfectly fine for us. What do you?

    Yes, an update arrived today and discovered that news was being proffered onto the computer desktop. Ten minutes later, that little innovation was shut down. I hear you about the pin number and these have replaced passwords for some reason. For your interest I’ve been looking at a howtogeek website which has lots of useful suggestions for getting rid of some of the upgrades and making it look more like Windows 7.

    I can well understand how Stephen King’s short stories make better films than his longer stories – the reason is obvious. And speaking of which I’m nearing page 500 of the total of about 1350 pages with The Stand. It is a very difficult book to put down once it has been picked up. Yes, very difficult indeed.

    Ah, your lady has a strong right arm hook, and you would suffer the consequences should you ever run afoul of her. You’re a wise man to be wary, and possibly also a very lucky man. 🙂 To still be alive and kicking that is!!! 🙂 Yes, there is no try, just be good. I was trying to come up with some dodgy Yoda talk and not sure I hit the mark there – oh well.

    I’m sure the work that the master carpenter performed on the staircase which incidentally was probably well known about in the community, would have set him up with enough work for the rest of his life. Unless of course the entire community decided that they couldn’t afford to pay for his work given the high standard of output – and then he’d be out of a job. That’s called over-achieving.

    Well in the book I’ve now met the very naughty Trashcan man who will come to a very messy end no doubt. So a building dedicated to the bloke would probably have a serious case of the bad karma. Hey, it really does look like a Dalek or R2D2 – I’ll bet the architect was a Star Wars fan?

    There are regular updates from that mountain range without power: Sixteen days without power: Meet the Mount Dandenong residents adjusting to life off the grid. Call me picky, but one chunk of firewood does not keep a house warm for very long at all, and also the firewood doesn’t look to me as if it is a local species of tree – it looks a bit like redgum which comes from forests way up in the northerly dry country. But I could be wrong. And as a further observation – and it is as cold here as there – they need to wear more clothing and hats. Well at least they’ll be learning slowly.

    Yup, building a house isn’t what it used to be. Hey, I’ve heard of towns down here taken over by city folks and tourists where the town had wasn’t able to field a football or netball team. The thing is that the long term locals get priced out or their kids can’t live in the town – even if there is work to be had there. It’s bonkers. And you’re right, there is a huge need for such a thing as affordable housing.

    Ecological limits are a real thing and we ignore them at our peril, but all the same we ignore them to our peril! Always was it thus with western culture.

    How did Saturday go? Stay safe and seriously keep an eye for windy days with the wind coming from the south.

    It is still wet and cold here.



  46. Yo, Chris – Well, taking out your local grid, must have given the local folks “opinions,” about the new kid on the block. 🙂 . Tough to recover from THAT sort of reputation.

    Good you got to have a meet up, with the Green Wizards / Melbourne Division. But no Tiramisu? Names must be taken! Heads should roll! Peak Tiramisu? 🙂 .

    We do “dreary shade of gray,” rather well, here. Keeps the punters, at bay.

    After landing flat on my back, staring at the sky, twice, while pulling blackberries, I finally learned my lesson. Especially since … well, there was this two wheeled cart, full of cedar shingles, that had probably been lurking in the weeds for 30 or 40 years. My head missed it by inches. Where to put one’s feet and how to distribute weight, with a quick shift of tension, in mind. Not a time to Zen out, until it becomes second nature.

    Get their own firewood? It’s like the produce around the Institution. They want it picked, washed, and delivered to their door. In the case of firewood, cut to length, split, and delivered to their door.

    Queen Elizabeth I, was a bit miffed about the number of battlefield promotions. Each of those people got a small (very small) yearly stipend. In some ways, she did watch her pennies. But, Thomas North really got a leg up, when he did something to help put down the Essex rebellion. Details are scant. But he did something, in support of the Queen, that finally brought him to her attention. Sir Thomas North’s life was a real roller coaster. His fortunes rose and fell, due to things he did or wrote, family problems, national politics, etc..

    I think the Temperance Leagues were trying to make the point, that you didn’t have to be of the lower classes, sitting in the gutter. Even a gentleman could slid down the social scale, for tippling too much. The Currier and Ives I’d REALLY like to get, is “The Drunkard’s Progress.” But those can be quit pricey.

    O.K. I CONFESS!!! I bought another Currier and Ives. It arrived, today. “The Brave Wife.”

    Well, that’s interesting. I was looking around for the poem, at the bottom. A bit of Victorian sentimental doggerel. Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman, it’s not. Couldn’t find it. But I did find out that the fellow is Major General George B. McClellan. He did survive the war. And led an interesting life. Seems to be a little known fact, about this print.

    The chocolate salted pretzel biscuits were quite tasty. Salt, sweet and probably some fat in there. Hit all the high points, our species seems to crave. But even refrigerated, the chocolate was a mess, to eat. But, I took care of the problem. 🙂 . Refried beans often have a bit of pork thrown in. I think the no fat claim is to cater to the vegetarian crowd.

    Sunny Day Flooding, aka Tidal Flooding. Becoming more and more of a problem, not just in Florida, but all along our east coast. If I owned anything down there, I think I’d price if for quick sale, and get out. Our naval bases are quietly adapting. They get the money for it, by using a lot of euphemisms. Depending on the regime in power, you can’t say “climate change,” or “sea level rise.”

    That’s pretty much the layout of our cities and towns. A lot of it has to do with zoning.

    The brushfire article. All those different agencies, and, I’d guess, they mostly don’t talk to each other. And everyone has their own ideas about “best practices.” And, turf to defend. I’d say the indigenous folks have the best ideas. Smaller, rotating tracts. Which preserves a lot of the plants and wildlife. In “The Premonition,” (Lewis), it turns out there was a pandemic plan, hammered out, early in the 2000s. But it was a tough go, as he states that you’ve got to get all these different government agencies on board. And each one is in it’s own little box. “Official” channels are pretty worthless. It’s the unofficial channels that have value.

    In the original “The Stand” miniseries, Matt Frewer (aka Max Headroom), played the part of Trashcan Man. He was perfect. Totally demented. You mentioned the chapter about different people who had survived, and then managed to do themselves in through one stupid misadventure or another. That chapter was left out of the original book. I’m happy King finally got enough clout, to restore the original version.

    Well, it was 90F, yesterday. And here we go! 100+ for the next three days. Prof. Mass had a post on where the heat is coming from. Eastern Washington. I have a proposal. We place gigantic fans, on the Cascade crest, and blow the hot air back to eastern Washington. Solar powered, of course. Seems like a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?

    I watched “Kong vs Godzilla,” last night. Well, a few days ago, I watched the “extras,” and it seemed to indicate that one should watch “Kong: Skull Island,” first. I had seen it, but it was awhile back. Turns out my local branch had a copy on the shelf. So, I got that, watched it, and then tackled the new one. They could probably stand on their own, but it does provide a bit more “depth.” The new one is pretty good. Plot’s a mess, but levels of general destruction, are satisfying. Worth a bowl of popcorn. Lew

  47. Chris:

    An electric jackhammer with a clay spade. Got it. Thanks.

    Mr. Musty has complained a little of aches and pains, though he still stalwartly labors on. You see, a mouse has been gnawing on him again and he finds it discomforting. Mr. Dumpy has been in the hospital so long that one wonders . . . And my son has just gotten engaged to the world’s nicest girl – I couldn’t be happier – and she is coming for a long visit (she lives in Long Island) and the house will be full up and my son will be busier than ever. And she is bringing her cat, thank goodness. I am pet-starved.

    I have used misspelling myself. Just wondered if I had missed something.


  48. Hi Lewis,

    The thing with stuffing something up royally and very publicly here is that the well earned reputation sticks to you, and if you stuff up big enough, folks will be still talking about it in forty years time. I’ve actually heard people discussing the day that the contractor at the local reservoir used an angle grinder in long dry grass during a very hot and dry summer and set fire to a goodly swath of the mountain range. But here’s the thing, a few weeks later (in 1983 Ash Wednesday fires) an even bigger and more deadly fire swept through and was stopped by the already burnt forest. The guy went from zero to hero, but his error is still being analysed by the locals. I lost a bit of credibility that day for sure. What do you do, accidents can happen and sometimes you learn your limits the hard method via the school of hard knocks.

    Yeah it was a great catch up, but alas you know my thoughts upon the subject of tiramisu and it was with a certain sort of resignation that I ordered the Kit-Kat cheesecake. A flexible approach often yields results.

    Ah, the ebb and flow of the seasons leading to fifty shades of grey during the winter months. All part of the great turning of the year.

    Ouch. But yes, your fall experience matches mine almost exactly. What did the oracle at Delphi suggest about changing utterly?

    Hehe! Firewood is such a wonderful and very mature technology and um, most people have like zero idea as to how to access and use the stuff. It is a complicated technology and requires years of planning of supply.

    I saw that about the Essex rebellion and Sir Thomas North, but had not realised that his writings made him something of a firebrand.

    Ah, of course – that point which the Temperance League were trying to make was utterly lost on me, but it makes sense after having read your words. From The First Glass To The Grave sounds like a complicated and difficult journey – where is the redemption tale were the hero of the journey confronts himself and becomes better for the experience? I must admit that the wife at the bottom of the print looked rather unhappy.

    Oh, I quite liked the brave wife print – and you know that things are going to end badly for him, except that in that particular case the bloke survived the carnage and in the print he looked every bit the commissioned officer. And yes, I too read the doggerel.

    I salute your stoicism in consuming the chocolate pretzels! 🙂 And no cakes were harmed here today.

    Actually today I moved about ten very large rocks as we worked on a project which involved sorting out a rock wall near to the machinery shed. The large rocks which were originally there were unnecessary and could be used elsewhere – plus we widened the path. After the cool down and stretching session earlier tonight I don’t seem to be doing too badly at all. The shoulder is on the mend, but not back to where it was – still relocating ten large rocks is a good sign.

    And did I mention that I’m almost at page 500 of Stephen King’s epic tome – and are really enjoying the story. The death by stupid misadventure chapter was actually quite funny. There are comedic elements to the story which have been ever so subtly placed, and I feel that I’m in the presence of greatness when it comes to story telling. Overall, it was a top notch recommendation on your part.

    Yeah, me too, I’d get the heck out of there. The news here allegedly mentioned the dreaded spalling in columns in the car park. If I were in nearby constructions I’d be getting some serious investigations into the structural integrity. I’d heard that down that way people on the gobarmine payroll were unable to use those words.

    That is the thing with the burn off processes in that state – and despite it all I reckon that far western state does things better than we do down here over in the south east. But yeah, there are so many vested interests and turf wars that I just get on with the job at hand. The indigenous folks have the right of it in that local issues have to be addressed by locals.

    The response down here wasn’t much better. In fact I’d use the phrase incompetent to describe the various responses which Mr Lewis is alluding too. It doesn’t look good.

    Far out, did it get to 100’F and how is the power holding up? Hey, your idea might just work!

    Oh no, you left out the most important chunk of information: Who won? Godzilla or Kong? My money is on Kong winning the cage fight, but dying in the process. The trailer looked like a lot of fun.

    Shoot, it’s late, I better get writing!



  49. Hi Pam,

    Actually as another suggestion, you can also get little auger bits which attach to battery powered screwdrivers, and my mates of the big shed fame had one when I helped them plant out a lot of trees many years ago. It seemed like a nifty device, but the jackhammer with clay spade will do so much more (and can occasionally cut through some rocks).

    To dear Mr Musty: Mate, I hear you bro about them aches and pains, and us old fellas have to stoically persevere when softer types fall by the way side. Just keep an eye on the pesky rodents and should they ever dare bite through a high compression air conditioner hose, well they’re gonna get blown up just like what happened to the rat here. It is some consolation I guess. But yes, the incessant gnawing does produce feelings of discomfit. Ouch!

    To dear Mr Dumpy: Chin up ol’ chap, but remember to get your act together and get back to work lest ye be dragged off to the scrap metal merchants. Them fellas are always hungry for metal, so just saying matey – you’re on notice, so watch out and get better soon.

    Pam, I’m really happy for you and your son. It’s really lovely, and I can only hope that your house is full of light and laughter and who cares if they don’t all get along, so long as they’re neat! 🙂

    You haven’t missed anything!



  50. Hello Chris
    Son and I seem to remain the only people in the area who have edible livestock or grow fruit and veg. The only other one that I knew, has stopped.

    The whole that was being dug seems to have been for a gas tank!

    There is a dire lack of heavy goods vehicle drivers in the country. This is producing some quite serious shortages. Son is in the middle of a job and can’t get cement on the Island. Also (oh dear) we are being warned of potential food shortages as a result. I regret to say that this makes me want to laugh.

    Am being besieged by someone who wants some outdoor work. Great, he is more than welcome. His father did work for me and he helped his father a bit here when he was about 16. The poor fellow works in the family business and has been transferred into their office which he hates and wants some exercise in his spare time. So I’ll see how this goes.


  51. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, I scored 3, two pound bags of lentils, off the swap table. You always talk about lentils, but I’ve never fixed them. Oh, I get the part about the boiling and all, but do you add things to them? How do you serve them.

    There was also another box of the chocolate pretzel biscuits. Purely in the interest of science, I grabbed them. And tossed them in the freezer.

    Well, there were a lot of Currier and Ives prints that were “The Fruits of Temperance.” I think I’ve also got “The Tree of Temperance.” I do know I have this one …

    There was a report that a woman was standing on her balcony, when the building went down, talking to her husband. She observed that the swimming pool collapsed, first. She hasn’t been heard from, since.

    More on Lewis’s book. Way back in the Bush II administration, this group of people came together, across a lot of agencies. To pound out a pandemic plant. They were all a pretty quirky bunch. Mavericks. “It’s often individuals who pick up the baton, and they’re not even doing it as part of their day job description.” … “Scattered throughout these organizations, there are these people, but they aren’t organized, trying to compensate for the deficiencies in the system.”

    Who won, “Godzilla vs Kong?” Do you really want a spoiler? 🙂 .

    Didn’t …. quit …make … it. Only got to 99F, yesterday. Couldn’t quit squeeze out that last degree. One down and two to go. Today and tomorrow are to be right around 110F. I watered morning, and evening, yesterday. Interesting what was heat stressed. The rhubarb. It gets watered, along with everything else, but maybe I need to pay more attention to getting under the leaves. Keep Cool, With Cal! (Coolidge, that is.) 🙂 . Lew

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