Broken Dreams

The local pub has been shut for a few months now. A concerned person sometimes wonders if the local establishment will ever reopen at some unspecified point in the future? It’s possible that they will, but the current restrictions limit the number of patrons dining or folks drinking indoors, to a maximum of ten people. That’s hardly an economic proposition for a business which can comfortably seat at least a hundred people indoors.

The previous week during a particularly unpleasant Antarctic storm, the outside air temperature was 1’C / 34’F, and I swear that it was sleeting. Outdoor dining is not an option here in this mountainous corner of the Australian continent for most of the year. And there are times when I suggest to the editor that outdoor living here is much like riding a motorbike, in that the conditions are only good about 25% of the time, maybe less.

Many years ago I used to ride a motorcycle for transport, and they are super efficient machines. Most of the bikes I owned were manufactured in Japan, and those guys have an amazing ability to produce machines that are super reliable and also easy to live with on a day to day basis.

However, whilst the clever Japanese folks were able to construct machines which could shrug off the worst of the weather extremes down under, they weren’t actually able to do anything at all about those weather extremes. I’ve sat on a throbbing Yamaha XV750 V Twin, when the air temperature pushed over 40’C / 104’F in full leathers, and just sweltered. Alternatively, the winter months brought incessant rain, and spare a thought for encountering steel tram tracks on a wet day. The city of Melbourne has the largest street car network anywhere, but far out those steel tracks on the roads sure are slippery in the wet.

The editor and I had to face facts, the pub is shut and it wont be open any time soon. Being the crafty and resourceful folk that we are, we headed into the nearby town one night last week to see what could actually be enjoyed for dinner. For some unknown reason, this local government area is not in lock down, unlike the five million souls who live in the nearby big smoke of the city of Melbourne. Those folks haven’t been able to go out for dinner for longer than pretty much anywhere else on the planet, and they have a strict night time curfew to boot.

In this rural area, we don’t need a curfew. That is only because there isn’t much open after dark! Our investigations revealed that there were a few businesses catering to hardy souls like us, who dared venture out after dark to see what feed could be gleaned.

The editor and I had our sights set on the local Vietnamese restaurant. We hadn’t entered the business before, and the business looked quiet enough. Fully masked against the health subject which dares not be named, we stepped a foot inside the restaurant, hoping for an exotic feed that wasn’t a cooked at home meal. We proceeded towards the counter and engaged the young lady who was performing the front of house job. “Can we grab a table for two?” was proffered. The young lady looked crestfallen as she had to turn us away. The place was empty and yet still full – it had ten patrons.

We made our sad retreat wondering whether the place served a decent Bánh mì or Salt and Pepper Squid, but never knowing the real answer. We’re made of sterner stuff than that though, and a little bit of rejection can be blithely ignored. Still fully masked, we walked down the street in the rain, and eventually peered into the local Chinese restaurant. They were doing a brisk take away business, but I counted only seven people dining. Hallelujah!!!

Our moment had come! And so we availed ourselves as patrons eight and nine, and enjoyed quite a decent Chinese meal. When I was a kid, a dim sim (or also sometimes known as dim sum) was a food item which was massed produced in factories that produced something which looked like a fat deep fried sausage ordinarily purchased from the local fish and chip shop. The sensitive gastronome hoped that the deep frying process thawed out the only but recently frozen food item! Sadly it was not always the case. The quality of the dim sim’s are what sets apart the above average Chinese restaurant from the merely average, and I can report that they were very good.

Many experiences are like that for us these days. We have a plan in mind, we set out to ensure the plan gets enacted, reality kicks in, and that’s when the original plans get chucked out the window, and we simply resign ourselves to some sort of compromise which sort of like what we had originally planned. The other day I had to make a really weird click and collect order. Click and collect is a description of pre-ordering from a business what you want at some earlier point in time, and then standing out the front of the business waiting for the staff to bring the stuff to you. Outdoor shopping sure is exciting during winter, but notably it also discourages spontaneity!

Most of those orders get placed over the internet, but I’m a bit old school and usually phone businesses in advance to ensure they actually have the stock. So, I generally speak with someone at the business. Word on the street is that in the near future with 80% of the population vaccinated, shops will be open for outdoor shopping – whatever that means. Although I can’t imagine that it is much different from what is going on today.

So, I was on the phone to the bloke at business and asked for ten boxes of stuff (ammo perhaps) to click and collect. He says to me, we’ve only got three boxes of that particular stuff. I guess I’ll take those three boxes, seemed like a reasonable reply. Then he says, now we can supply you with seven boxes of this other stuff (which I’d never heard of). Are they OK, seemed like a reasonable question to ask. Yeah, came a hesitant reply. OK, I’ll grab seven of those boxes. My life has been like that for quite a while now.

The Limits to Growth Standard run forecast chart

Observant readers will note in the above graph that as the decline in industrial output (i.e. supply of stuff) occurs, so to does a decline in the quantity of food. The two are invariably linked, and I noticed in the news this week, that the land of stuff has placed an export ban on mono ammonium sulphate (MAP). They were a massive exporter, but now no more. Apparently, it is unrelated to trade wars too, they just want to ensure that they have enough for themselves.

MAP is an interesting mineral as it gradually dissolves into soil releasing phosphoric acid, whilst creating a small zone of moderate acidity around each granule in either calcareous or alkaline soils (i.e. soils of basic pH). The mild acidity also helps plants grown in those soils to access other trace elements. Basically, plants grow better, and more importantly faster, with this stuff. It also affects the nutrient density of foods. And not that you’d know it, but grain growers use this stuff by the truck load every year, and yet the land of stuff has said – no more. There are alternatives (such as rock phosphates), but really, they’re not as good, by a considerable margin (maybe about 20 times less effective) and farmers have gotten used to access to the heady MAP stuff.

This week, an epic scaled storm brought tropical moisture down from the Indian Ocean far to the north west of the continent. The scale of the storm was absurd and covered a goodly chunk of the entire east coast of the continent. Here at the farm, the storm presented itself as a warm, wet and humid week, but nothing to be overly alarmed at. It is just very wet right now.

Despite the rain, the editor and I ventured a little bit north of the farm to the goldfields area to check out some ruins dating back from the late 19th century.

The remains of Garfield water wheel

The goldfields area covers a vast swath of land far to the north of the farm. It’s astounding at the sheer number of ruins from those gold rush days which now litter the forests. We visited the former Garfield water wheel, which was a massive water wheel which once powered the attached rock crushing plant. The ore was crushed and then sifted for gold. There isn’t much left nowadays of the industry other the massive stone works which looks like some weird temple or site of worship!

The water was supplied from a nearby reservoir which dammed up Forest Creek.

The reservoir on Forest Creek

The dam wall was constructed manually in the mid to late nineteenth century, and for folks accustomed to fossil fuel powered excavators and bulldozers, the scale of the engineering works produced in those days is nothing short of astounding.

The dam wall for the Forest Creek reservoir

Whilst out and about and exploring the area, we stopped off and enjoyed a nearby botanic gardens. The gardens were paid for by the proceeds from the gold rush, and they were originally designed and set out by the great Baron Von Mueller.

The botanical gardens at Malmsbury

Observant readers will note from the above photo, that it sure has been wet of late! The gardens are bordered on one side by the Coliban River, and the train line to the goldfields and the river port of Swan Hill unfortunately has to cross the river. The keystone arch granite train bridge is an astounding engineering feat constructed in the nineteenth century, and remains in use today.

A granite keystone rail bridge crossing the Coliban River

With all of the rain of late, we also decided to check out the nearby Turpins Falls on the Campaspe River. It was rocking!

Turpins Falls on the Campaspe River

We also did some work around the farm this week. We’ve been in the process of widening the many paths on the farm so as to accommodate the much larger equipment that we now own. Basically, the original paths were too narrow and can’t be easily used with the new low centre of gravity mower.

The path leading from the house to the chicken enclosure and secondary woodshed is perhaps the narrowest path on the farm. We began widening that path this week.

About six hours of excavation work took place next to the secondary woodshed

All of the soil excavated had to go somewhere, and so we relocated it to the opposite side of the farm where it was used to widen and smooth the low gradient ramp project which leads down into the two lower orchards.

Work on the low gradient ramp project continues

In early spring produce breaking news, we spotted the first strawberry flowers earlier today:

The first strawberry flowers of the season

And in food consuming wildlife breaking news, the family of King Parrots have been more frequent visitors to the farm of late:

A King Parrot. It’s good to be the King!

Onto the flowers:

A bluebell grows between rocks
These geraniums smell like lemon sorbet if brushed up against or crushed
The many succulents are in flower right now
These hellebore flowers look set to release a ton of seeds
The bees adore the echium flowers
Leucodendron’s are just show offs

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 956.4mm (37.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 909.0mm (35.8 inches)

58 thoughts on “Broken Dreams”

  1. Hello Chris,
    MAP is one of the features of the “green revolution”…
    In the next town from where we live, the regional waste water company installed an expensive machine from Canada a couple of years ago, that extract MAP (a.k.a. struvite) out of the sewage. 1 ton per day, from a population of approx 500,000 people.

    I was there on an open day when they proudly presented their equipment. So I had a chat with one of the engineers who was responsible for this particular building. “Thermodynamically stupid – we first mix the urine and feces and rainwater and rubbish, then make a big effort to extract the urine as a solid salt. Better to use the liquid gold directly on your fruit trees – it is safe and energy free.”, is what he said more or less.

    I note that most the water bodies in today’s photos are brown in color, probably from agricultural soil runoff…

    Have a good day,

  2. Hi Al,

    Many thanks for the encouragement. The burnt smell was coming from the two defective electrolytic capacitors which were removed from the power circuit. The two defective capacitors were the largest of the capacitors at 4700uf at 42V. I replaced them with the same capacitors rated to 50V.

    Speaking of nice design, the thoughtful manufacturer (Technics) positioned all of the capacitors on the circuit board so that the polarity for each capacitor faced in the same direction. I can’t imagine you’d see that happen today.

    Yes, that can happen with copper water pipes. I’ve had the flexible plastic pipes used on a number of houses, and so far I have not had any trouble with them. The problem with complicated plumbing hidden in walls is that the complicated plumbing is actually hidden in the walls. Easily repairing such systems is a bit of a nightmare really. And I am no fan of concrete slabs with embedded pipes.

    Small dwellings are in short supply down here too. The system appears to be deliberately skewed towards producing much larger family homes. But mate, undertaking any build that is not a project house down here is a nightmare of paperwork.

    And yes, something does have to give. Fixing such a job means going through the plaster (drywall in US parlance?) or through the external cladding. If I didn’t have to worry about what the editor might think about the visuals, I’d put the whole lot in easily accessible conduit (or cable and/or pipe boxes in each room). Unfortunately such an approach is not an option.



  3. Hi Goran,

    Absolutely! It is a very beautiful book which approaches the entire batch of problems from the point of view of dealing with people as they are, and not as someone else wants them to be in an otherwise ideal and/or ideological perspective. And exactly, we are so way deep in drawdown right now as a species, and you know, we got there through good intentions. But it cannot last. It really is that simple.

    Oh, yeah, look you and I both know that grand plans are not destined for greatness, and perhaps the 2017 book was mildly overly optimistic in that regard? The facts suggest that they were wrong in their optimistic assertions. And anyway, pollution is but one problem, and if that were solved that problem, then the next problem would be resource depletion, and so it goes on and on, around and around all in circles – and nothing ever gets done, and here we are today.

    The mono ammonium sulphate issue should be ringing klaxon loud alarm bells. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe the next best substitute (hard and soft rock phosphates) are twenty times less effective than MAP (and I have not used either). I really do hope here that they’ll think of something, but my gut feeling suggests that things will be otherwise in this particular regard. In the short term, we may source from other countries at a higher cost, but in the long term, it’s not good. What fascinates me is that I recently came across a rough map of the continent which displayed the original grain growing regions of the indigenous folks, and it was far larger than what we can achieve today.

    It may interest you, but I’m always speaking of the various bird species which live on the farm and enjoy the surplus produce. Very few farms I’m aware of operate on that basis, but the thing is, all of those birds are concentrating guano on the farm and also in the surrounding forest. People don’t think in terms of systems. And I suspect that in a lower energy and resource future, those are the sort of systems people will need.

    Speaking of Brazil, you may have heard of the recent decline in coffee bean production?

    I mentioned to a mate of mine who also gardens, that it might not be a bad idea to compost his own wastes, and was amusingly told that it was a step too far. And my mate is more learned in growing plants than the average person on the street. Far less than 2% of the population are actually involved in agriculture now, and they don’t see this one coming. The problem is so epically scaled, that I don’t even know where to start with people. It is exactly as you wrote: consequences… If I knew where to start, I would start. Believe me, everything of an organic nature has been returned to the soils here for over the past decade, and it is a slow, but accelerating process. It can’t be hurried, and that is a major worry for the future.

    Yes indeed, where did the cheese get too? 🙂 Thanks for those memories of that particular concept.

    Respect for the work that you do too.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    No worries at all, and I hear you about that too. There are times where people just assume that my brain can take in more information about unusual and esoteric topics, than it actually can. Like say just for one example: installing unusual operating systems on an old Mac device. Even now, my brain recoils at the horror of having to subject itself to such outrages. I merely mentioned the option because it is a valid option if you want to do the hard yards in that regard. But if you have some spare mad cash to splash, I’d run for the hills and just grab a reconditioned fruit device.

    Speaking of which, the editor informed me yesterday that after using the new full-on low centre of gravity mower that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to keep the older and much lighter machine (which was close to being sold). An interesting thing I’ve discovered over many years with farm machines is that sometimes they can look very similar, and yet they do vastly different tasks well. I’m of the opinion that few if any machines do a whole lot of different tasks well, and mostly they specialise at some aspect.

    Spoke to our mates of the big shed fame a few days ago and it looks like christmas festivities are probably going to be scuttled again this year. The health subject which dares not be named is a very divisive matter and has created all manner of strangeness. Oh well, moving on…

    I don’t have that luxury of a set working day, or a fixed lunch break, but I do know of people who shut their businesses down for a set lunch break each day. I can well understand why they would do that. And I do know of someone who works for the public service and enjoys a daily morning tea break. Yeah, I remember those. Anyway, don’t hassle the computer dudes when they’re at lunch as they might hate you forever! Good luck, and they sound alright to me.

    That’s true about the search, but still the error message returned has absolutely no relevance to the actual problem. The problem you have with your suggestion is that if you worry about it too early on and try to do something about it, you might find yourself in the horrendous position of the trailblazer. Not good.

    Hehe! I quite enjoyed Revenge of the Nerds! 🙂 It was pretty funny.

    That’s some good advice from your contacts at the local library. Just also adding in that if the processor for your fruit device is Intel based, the thing will run Windows… You probably didn’t want to hear that though! 🙂 And I’m just being super cheeky at your expense. Man, I had to learn how an Android smart phone worked, and those things aren’t intuitive at all from my perspective, and there are no instructions how to use them. Like the library dudes and/or dudettes advised, gargle is your friend here. You already know, but I type in searches: ‘how to android blah, blah’, and discover the answer. The search facilities aren’t really as smart as people would have you believe and the interweb looks pretty dumb to me. The books are a good idea too. I reckon you’ve been on the same machine since we began chatting?

    About the supply issues, I think that is exactly it, the larger supplies are being continued, but the more obscure stuff is being throttled and/or squooshed. Seriously, the mono ammonium phosphate issue is a big deal for us down here in relation to grains. Maybe not as much for you guys as your soils and country has better mineral reserves – but they’re not inexhaustible and I’ve read that they’re not evenly distributed on your continent as well.

    Thanks for the explanations regarding the banks. That makes sense, and I did wonder about that. Out of curiosity, do ATM’s feature heavily in your part of the world? I remember when the machines were first introduced.

    It is interesting you mention that about having the skills to navigate society, but the state gobarmints down here are having a bit of a hissy fit because plenty of older folks don’t want smart phones. And um, the state folks want to process vaccination passports via that delivery method, and yet plenty of people don’t want or need such devices. Interestingly the federal gobarmints maintain the health database which records who got what and when, and happily supply paper copies of such documentation. The state gobarmint has to cut people some slack here. I spent a few hours today sorting out that mess for the editor and I. Crazy stuff, and it looks like bureaucracy run mad.

    That’s true, some employers do take a heavy hand to their employees in that regard. But mate, I work for small business and they usually can’t afford such affectations or heavy handedness. They’re my people. There was serious talk that the rivers distribution warehouse over in the south east of the big smoke was set up in such a way that the staff didn’t have time to go the toilet. Mate, I know how I’d respond to such restrictions, and they wouldn’t like it… The thing is, you can actually extract every last ounce of flesh, but there are consequences to doing that, so I would never recommend it as a course of action, but then I know when enough is enough. Some people can be a bit hazy about that matter.

    Oh really about Nick? It’s an option, that’s for sure. And I have no doubts plenty of people will try that path. I’m curious to see how things turn out.

    Hehe! How good is that saying? Norm!!! 🙂 Hey, you started this sausage thing, and somehow it even worked into this weeks essay. How funny is that? I also had a really weird dream that my mate who is now deceased bumped me from a plane seat. He then flew off, and the next available plane was from an airline business which went out of business at least a quarter of a century ago. The friendly staff were trying to reassure me that the plane would be OK after all those years, it’s not a drama at all. I was a bit hesitant… And I awoke before discovering what happened. What a nightmare. At least back in those days they served proper meals on planes, which may have included sausages.



  5. Chris,
    Regarding birds and other wildlife – of course they are our friends. A certain part of the production is to lure them into the production areas… Along the side of the vegetable growing, we have quite a few elderberries and rowan trees and other bird food. And most of the useful wildlife is in the soil. Your organic additions over the years have made your farm a heaven for protozoa and worms!

    And ATMs… Here comes a rant:
    There is a war on cash going on. In the Netherlands, we have today 3500 ATMs, down from a 8700 ATMs in 2008.
    More and more shops don’t accept cash, but want us to pay electronically in their stores.
    In Sweden it is even worse. When I was there this summer, I met a young woman (25 or so years old) who claimed to not have used cash for more than a year. “I dont even know what the bills look like anylonger”.
    They have all forgotten that Cyprus (another EU country) blocked all digital bank accounts in 2013, and allowed only purchases of 100 euro per day, or 50 euro ATM withdrawals.
    And of course there are more examples in history when bank money disappears or becomes useless…
    Aargh… I’ll go back to my trees, to lower my blood pressure.


  6. Hello Chris
    Loved the photos, particularly the one of what did indeed look like an ancient temple. It would have been a real puzzler without the info.
    Your bluebell looks like a Spanish bluebell. They arrived here in Victorian times and interbreed with our wild ones. I have a huge batch of wild ones in my woods and worry about the Spanish ones increasingly appearing in nearby gardens.

    Very wet and windy here.


    @ Lew
    Just one of my Jerusalem artichokes has flowered. It has 5 flowers and is about 20 feet tall, way above all the others.


  7. Yo, Chris – Your blog post. Stairway(s) to heaven? 🙂

    “Everyone talks about the weather but no none does anything about it.” The weather here makes motorcycles … problematic for a good chunk of the year. But, there are always a few brave (or foolhardy) souls who venture out, all the time. Darwin at work?

    It’s always upsetting, when one’s mouth is set for one kind of cuisine, and one must substitute another. Chinese instead of Viet isn’t such a great leap. Still, it’s not the same. Seems like a good place for todays Profound Thought. “Unless we accept uncertainty, we cannot move forward.”

    A lot of people here, load their own ammo. An arcane practice (to me) but it’s pretty common. Whatever happened to the advertising slogan, “Accept no substitutes?” 🙂 .

    That graph would make a nice tattoo …

    Which brings us to mono ammonium sulphate. Simple searches for “is MAP the same as ammonium sulphate?” and “Where does mono ammonium sulphate come from?” yielded little useful information. I wondered as ammonium sulphate is used in the production of many things. Fire extinguishers, wood pulp, pharmaceuticals. But what really caught my eye was that it’s used in lots of baked goods as a “dough conditioner.” Might have to rethink (or expand) my thoughts on the rise of gluten intolerance as just down to different varieties of wheat and milling.

    Our monumental works may become temples or sites of worship. Hike up that stairway looking thing, throw yourself off the top, and heaven (or something) may well be at hand. Later people thought the Romans must have been giants.

    Earthen dams are a bit dicey. They don’t last as long as the concrete jobs. But then, those don’t last forever, either. The Victorian railroad bridges always remind me of Roman aqueducts. Wonder if they’ll last as long?

    Turpins falls is really pretty. Looks like a good place for a picnic.

    Lots of earth moving around Fern Glade, this last week. Go strawberries! The parrots know where the good tucker is. (Cont.)

  8. Yo, Chris (Cont.) – Well, just so the low center gravity mower doesn’t become yard art. 🙂 You may remember the last place I lived. Over 100 years of formerly useful things, that had become yard art.

    I wondered how the Guys in the Big Shed were getting on. You hadn’t heard from them, after the Big Storm, and I didn’t want to keep nagging for news. It’s three months ’til Christmas. Things may change.

    Yes, just about every job I’ve had, it’s always about juggling lunches, dinners and breaks. And, to stay open. It’s rare to find a place that actually closes down. It was more common, in the past. We have State labor laws, about breaks and durations between breaks. Of course, some employers fudge quit a bit on that. Sometimes at the employees request. But, sweeping generalization alert, I think a lot of those employers who really abused that, are the one’s scrambling for workers, now.

    Trailblazer or “early adaptor?” 🙂 . But there are times when I search for something, and think to myself, “Oh, come on! I can’t be the only one who’s had this problem!” And usually, I’m not. But sometimes it’s a case of getting the search term right.

    Well, the problem is, The Fruit Company started making it’s own chips, a couple of years back. Instead of Intel. Which is why I can’t upgrade to the current operating system. Cute, no? And, yes, it’s the same beast that we’ve been chatting through, all along.

    Yes, ATMs are pretty common here. But, it’s interesting. When I go to my bank, the line for the ATM is either short, or none at all. The drive through line for the teller window, is always very long. I really think part of it is people just not wanting to deal with tech, and part is a craving for human contact. When I had to actually go into the bank, the other day, to get coins counted, I overheard an interesting exchange. A major bank, after years and years, has pulled all services out of our county. It started slow, and then accelerated. Any-who. There was an elderly couple, that mentioned, that bank had finally pulled out the ATM. Many banks have reciprocal agreements. They can use each other’s ATMs. Sometimes it’s free, sometimes there’s a fee. The old couple were wondering if they could use the Credit Unions ATM. It all sounded very murky. Could they use it? Maybe. Would there be fees? Maybe. How much would the fees be? Unknown. Now, our Credit Union staff are very gracious and helpful. I really think they just didn’t know.

    Vaccination records. There’s an Ap, for that. 🙂 . In that pandemic movie I watched, “Songbird,” people wore bracelets. And, you’d better have a yellow one! A device could read info from the bracelet. I’ve got a little paper card. Hope I don’t loose it! They do just keep squeezing one, from one angle or another, to buy into those things.

    I think I’d rather stockpile something I can eat, rather than a pile of tablets. I’m sure I’ll get to talk more to Nick, later, at length.

    Speaking of sausage … 🙂 . I notice The Club has a biscuit and gravy fund raiser, every Tuesday morning. Now, by biscuit, I mean a (hopefully) fluffy little bread product (not a cookie) and the gravy, is usually a sausage gravy. Half or full orders, and the full is less than $5. My mate Scott and I are going to rendezvous there, tomorrow morning.

    Well, yesterday seemed busy. I went down to the Club in the morning for a cuppa. I stopped into the veg store, to see if I could get some good eggs. The last dozen I got in our boxes, had a pull date of February, 2021. I sprang for the organic / free range. $6 a dozen! Next time, I’ll get the almost as good, local eggs. Just under $4 a dozen. Gave H her fortnightly bath in the afternoon. Then I picked another gallon of blueberries.Yup. They’re still producing. I think they will, til the first frost. Our overnight temps are supposed to be in the 30sF, toward the end of the week. But not as low as freezing. Coming soon to a garden near me. On the agenda for this afternoon, is green beans. Pick, blanch, freeze.

    I watched an interesting documentary, last night. “Enough to Live On: The Arts of the WPA.” During the Great Depression, there were several programs to keep artists from starving to death … or, rioting in the streets. There was a lot of fear, among The Powers That Be, at that time, that revolution might sweep the country. So they were willing to shake a bit of jingle loose. It was all the arts. Painting, sculpture, graphics, writing, theatre, symphonies … etc. etc.. I saw some great paintings, last night. I may have to watch it, again. Lew

  9. Chris,

    Your story about Old Fluffy taking down the larger hunting dog reminded me of Rakhi the Samoyed. One summer, I worked graveyard shifts. I stayed up all night on the nights I didn’t work so as not to disrupt my sleep schedule, which resulted in my taking long walks with Rakhi at 2:00 a.m. On one such trek, a pack of dogs charged at us, the alpha being huge. I dropped the leash and gave Rakhi the okay to do what she needed. She leapt on the huge alpha dog’s neck and started ripping and tearing. He got away and ran off, yelping with his tail between his legs, followed by the rest of the pack. She received appropriate belly rubs and snacks.

    Your reply about the Old Ones. I’ve had some interesting experiences, none that I will share on a public forum. (Plus any one would take a long time to tell.) There’s definitely more sentient beings running around than us mere humans care to acknowledge. I’ve read too much mythology from many cultures: getting noticed by a deity or what have you often has later rather nasty ramifications for the human. For whatever reason. Just going about my business, quietly, is good enough for me.

    We received another 8mm of rain Thursday night. September closed with a total rainfall for the month nearly twice normal. There was a light frost Saturday, the first of the season. Leaves are turning color.

    That is a fantastic photo of you and the Stairway FROM Heaven. The Editor knows how to take good photographs.

    Glad you were able to get a good meal out, the other day. We’re back to getting take out on occasion. It’s not the same, but at least we can still support the local eateries to some extent.

    I really enjoyed the photos of your outing. Thanks for sharing some of the local sights.

    Turpins Falls reminded me of something. There was an English highwayman back in the early 1700s, Dick Turpin. He led a rather interesting life.

    I had to investigate Dick Turpin many years ago because I had a coworker who was very tall and named Dick Turpin, “like the English outlaw.” Another gent who worked there was short, Dick Adams. They worked together a lot, and joked that when you called their department 2 Dicks always showed up to do the job, “because 2 Dicks are better than 1”. Naturally, they were commonly referred to as “Big Dick and Little Dick”.

    I see from the pictures that Ollie is properly supervising the digging and pathways projects. He seems happy with the progress. I hope he appreciates the hard work you’re putting in on the projects.

    Things are busy here. Normal yard stuff, and finally nearly finished with the renovation of the front porch cement. It’s looking good. Plus, the Princess has a lot of craft projects for me to help her with. She has also asked me to work on a few wood carvings for her. Busy is good.


  10. Hi Goran,

    Your previous comment somehow was trashed by the software. WordPress can have a mind of its own sometimes.

    As a society, our treatment of our own wastes says much about culturally how we are as a civilisation, and it is one of the many things which we do that are unsustainable, but on a grand scale. Such an epic waste, and no civilisation has survived such folly.

    The waste water machine you wrote of sounds utterly bonkers to me. And we pursue such technological strategies lest we inconvenience ourselves. But to not inconvenience ourselves, just means a whole world of hurt and pain down the track.

    And I can’t argue with you. We mine and process finite reserves of minerals to create MAP. That is then transported to distant parts of the world, where growers use the soil as a medium to grow plants in (but not as a resource to improve), but ultimately, the vast majority of the output ends up in the ocean via a long story which includes our guts. And that vast pool of ocean water is too diffuse for us humans to recover the minerals, but it is on a large enough scale to harm the life in that environment. It makes no sense whatsoever, and cannot be sustained under any conditions. In the very long term, things will recover, but the transition for our species will be brutal.

    Respect. Birds love elderberries. In fact, they love the elderberries far more than I do, and so I grow the very easily grown plants specifically for the birds. Rowan trees are scarce down under, and it may be likely that they do not adapt well to the occasional hot and dry summer that the plants here have accommodated.

    I hear you about the ATM’s. Way back in the day, the banks from my recollection, were not fans of the machines as the cost was far more for the banks to operate than they earned for them. So it does not surprise me that the machines are being removed. The decline is occurring in the reverse order of the ascent. In fact the nearby local township used to have two ATM’s for the particular bank I utilise, but one was removed at the beginning of the current health situation which dare not be named.

    As to cash, well, I’ve stood in line at a shop when their electronic facilities failed, and discovered that I was the only person with cash to pay for the goods. I paid, and left whilst the other customers fumed.

    It’s possible that might happen with the money, but down under, demand seems to be getting squashed pretty thoroughly, so I dunno. What you write is possible, but the future is turning out to be weirder than I even guessed. How does that compare to your view of the future?



  11. Hi Inge,

    The forested areas in the goldfields are littered with ruins from that era, so I plan to take a look over the next few months and see what a century and a bit of benign neglect produces with industrial ruins. I’ll try and remember to take the camera along and post as many interesting photos of the ruins as I can. The original water wheel would have been twice the height of the ruins as the axle originally was at the very top of the stone work.

    Thank you so much for the exacting plant identification. Ah, yes I can see that this would be a potential problem for your local plants. As far as I can understand how the plant grows here, it moves along the ground as tubers, so your local variety will be safe and secure for many years. In fact, it is possible that the Spanish variety won’t survive in your forest, because from what I note of them here, they love perfect drainage, and don’t do all that well in saturated soil – which you get many years (and I get in some years like this one). Your neighbours may live in highly modified environments with better drainage than your property which favours the Spanish variety over the English variety. Just a wild guess. So my gut feeling suggests they’ll be OK.

    It’s a bit wet and windy here too.

    The local general store appears to have been visited with the dreaded health subject which dares not be named. I’m gutted for them, and fortunately wasn’t there at the time. I hope they’re OK. It looks like someone visited a different cafe in the surrounding area each day for a couple of days, and they all have red flags now. My brain whispers suggestions to me as to what sort of person would do such a thing. Look you know, the locals will close ranks against unknown folks, how could they not? Far out.



  12. Hi DJ,

    Out of curiosity, were your night shifts a rotating shift or fixed? Some folks are forced into rotating shifts, and I don’t really understand how their body clocks would ever cope with such continual abuse. And also, how did you manage your Vitamin D levels during the graveyard shifts?

    Go Rahki! Well done to her, and she earned her feed that night. That is the thing with attacking dogs, they’re opportunists and if the local crew are better fed and well rested, they’ll have the home side advantage. But all the same it takes guts and courage to take down the alpha dog of a possibly moribund pack. Samoyed’s are beautiful dogs, and they are one step up on old Fluffy and also Sir Poopy for that matter. Who knew that some folks spun Samoyed fur as a wool? Wonders will never cease!

    Exactly, that is my take too on the elder ones – don’t mess with them or their business for things will go badly. Best to leave them well alone and provide no reason for offence, in fact it would be far better if they owed you, rather than you owing them. For some reason I have a story of the faerie folk burned into my consciousness. The story was of a human wanting to be with them forever, to which they replied that they could kill the human and bury them then and there and thus the desire would be fulfilled. Ouch.

    Autumn has arrived for you, and I’m glad to hear that the rains have also returned. Some days here are sunny and sort of warm, and other days it is like late winter weather and the rain falls and the winds occasionally howl.

    I shall pass on your words of commendation to the editor. She’ll be chuffed. 🙂

    Mate, yeah, it’s a moment in time eating out down here. The local general store appears to have been visited by a person who also visited a number of other cafes in the area across several days, but unfortunately had the health subject which dares not be named. It speaks of an enjoyable existence, except for the sheer hardship they may have caused. Man, I don’t even know whether they’ll be open, and there ain’t many other options around these parts for the locals.

    No worries at all, and it is a pleasure to share the local sights with you. People tend to think of down under as one vast arid land, but as you can see the actuality is very different. Kind of like your country with all its various extremes.

    Hehe! Thanks, but your more learned colleague Lewis, beat you to the highwayman reference. 🙂 Gotta be fast here, and learned! However, on the other hand, that is quite amusing and I can see that you also grew up with a diet of English films with all of their amusing bawdy innuendo… 🙂

    A person can only hope that the fluffies enjoy the work, but it is equally possible that they wonder what all the fuss is about.

    That’s great news about the cement. Does the surface layer you’re applying provide any sort of water protection for the lesser underlying concrete?

    Busy is good, and also a nod to your lady who is very wise. 🙂



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Had to laugh this morning. I didn’t even know, but faceplant and friends went down in a ball of flames this morning, but as I was looking at this blog website statistics and wondering what it all meant (whilst not knowing of the outage), possibly all those bored folks longing for digital content, were hanging out here. Who are these people? They certainly don’t comment.

    You make a solid point, and the low centre of gravity mower is in working order. Look, we just weren’t going to get much mad cash from the sale, and so we might as well get the use of the thing here. The same could be said about the mad cash and yard art! 😉

    That’s my thinking too about Christmas plans, and we’ll just wait and see. It’s not the end of the world. I’ve been threatening to make the editor watch the Christmas film: Die Hard. So this may be my chance. Although I might enjoy re-watching Groundhog Day instead. I don’t get hung about Christmas plans.

    That is true, and even today I ate lunch at the desk I worked at, and in between reading The Great Crash 1929, also had amusing witty banter with a lovely lady who I’ve worked with for many years. Went into the big smoke today for work, and fortunately I had the vaccination a week and a half ago, because mandatory orders and all that stuff are becoming very serious. Also sorted out the goods story we spoke of the other day, and curiously the items were made in the good old USA. It is nice to know that some supply lines are continuing. I was hoping that I wasn’t involved in a car accident as that would be very unpleasant for everyone, what with the goods on board…

    It is rare to see businesses close for lunch, but who knows what the future holds in store in that regard? In such a market where there is good demand for labour, it is a truth universally acknowledged that employers have to be nice. I have worked for some not nice employers.

    Far out man! The local general store has had an incident with the health subject which dares not be named. I hope they’re doing OK, but don’t really know. Fortunately I wasn’t there at that time.

    Does anyone really want to be an early adapter? 🙂 But yeah, getting the search term just right means sometimes getting into a different headspace and working out what other people call whatever it is that you’re trying to do a search upon.

    Your machine is to be commended for having stood up to the test of time. I was aware of the fruit chip situation. It interests me now that the hardware underneath isn’t that much different.

    Really? You know I’m still yet to encounter a drive through bank. I spotted a couple of drive through testing stations for the health subject which dares not be named today. It’s not the same thing at all though. The ATM’s here get a bit of a workout, but you do have to park and walk up to them. I was in queue for the ATM the other day, and looked into the branch and noticed that it was empty, so I went inside, but forgot to take my phone with me and couldn’t electronically check in to the business (which they helped me do). That was awkward. And one of the tellers was mucking around and sprayed in my general vacinity with hospital grade disinfectant. I was not amused, but I cut them some slack as people are a bit strained these days down here.

    Just for a bit of difference, all of the ATMs down here can be used, although some will charge a fee, and some won’t depending upon the background agreements I guess. The mobile (cell) phone system is similar as any of the towers allow people access, but I’m guessing that the treatment they get is very different.

    Very funny, but there is an app for that vaccine record thing. It astounds me that the technology was put into place not long before all of the craziness went down. Yes, who could forget Songbird – I didn’t watch the film because it is actually a bit too close to my current experience. It makes you laugh to think that we have to pay for these devices, and what with all the use others are making of them, there could be a strong argument that the wrong persons are paying the bill.

    I hear you about the food, but was wondering if Nick had meant something darker in relation to the tablets? I don’t know the guy though and can’t fathom his mind.

    Oooo! The fluffy bread food item sounds nice. How was it? In Asian cuisine, such a dish may be called a Char siu bao. They’re very tasty, as long as the meat is cooked thoroughly.

    That’s not a bad price for free range eggs if you bought them down here. They can range up to $8 a dozen. Generally eggs at farm gates are about $5 a dozen, which from my perspective seems pretty cheap. A happy H is a clean and bathed H – or maybe that is everyone else around her? Hey, you ended up having a pretty good blueberry season after all. The ones here are producing flowers right now.

    We’ve spoken about the WPA folks before, and they produced some lovely buildings. It interests me that the arts folks down here appear to have been thrown under the bus. Music in particular has copped it pretty hard, and who knows what the future holds in store for them?

    Hehe! I can assure you that after a decade of riding motorcycles and using up all nine of my lives, I had to go and do something else less hazardous to my health and maybe regain one or two of those lost lives. Commuting is a fascinating experience on such a machine, and it can lead to some exciting encounters. Even today, I remain dead calm during such vehicle incidents, and that was due to sheer exposure on the motorcycle. The weather issue here is exactly the same as you describe in your part of the world, and it is no fun at all.

    Thanks for the advice and today’s profound thought. Always appreciate your perspective on the world.

    It’s not a bad idea to consider with the ammo, but there are only so many interests that I can get my head around. Time is always in short supply, and the list is long and distinguished!

    Ha! I don’t think so my friend! 🙂 I’ve got no problems with tatts, they’re just not for me. My life is already exciting enough. And it looks as though the local general store will be closed tomorrow…

    Oh yeah. Most people who consume the bread I bake, enjoy the experience and usually eat all of it and then search for more, especially if it is fresh from the oven. It contains none of that stuff, and so is a denser loaf than what people are used to purchasing. It also doesn’t produce allergic reactions from what I’ve seen. My mates of the big shed fame, enjoy the bread, but have a preference for very fluffy and light sour dough, which was produced by a relative, so they had access to heaps of the stuff. The relative didn’t divulge the secrets of their trade to my mates, so a couple of years ago I gave them a reality talk about the bread. They still like the fluffy bread and fair enough.

    Years ago another mate worked in a sourdough bakery, and he spilled the beans on the bakery to me that during winter, they used to add bakers yeast to get the loaves to rise in the cold weather. Hmm. Bakers have their secrets…

    I read a really interesting book on the subject of grain growing on a small scale and the author went into great detail about the chemicals used in baking. If you’re interested I’ll dig up the title and author?

    The wheat has something to do with the story too, as protein levels in the grains have reduced somewhat over the past decades. I purchase a strong untreated flour which is meant to be higher in protein, but it costs.

    I became very curious about grain growing at this location, but now realise that it will probably all come down in the end to tubers such as potatoes and friends… Ook!

    You’ll get no argument from me there, the drop is quite high and the landing would be profoundly painful, if not deadly. What do you reckon? Will people say the same of us at some point in the future? I do wonder what the future of our cities will be, whether we demolish the skyscrapers at the end of their useful lives, or whether we abandon the buildings to fate? What is your best guess?

    I wonder that too about those constructions, although the rail bridge has stood up to almost 150 years of continuous use. Whilst we were there, two current locomotives were towing an older diesel electric locomotive (I’m guessing) to the steam rail society at Castlemaine. They operate a side line from Castlemaine to Maldon, but sometimes they’ll run unusual trains into the big smoke. The drivers have to keep up their hours I guess.

    I note that DJ mentioned old Dick Turpin.

    The parrots are always with us. 🙂



  14. Hi, Chris!

    You have been such busy bees lately, I don’t see how you did get any farm work done. Widening paths is a noble, and practical, gesture. I can barely squeeze along most of ours. However, we did finally get a tomato – a yellow Pork Chop Tomato. It was impressive that it actually grew to a nice, large size. What was not impressive was that it had tiny brown spots all over it, so I threw it to a deer. The spots were not our usually blight, so I don’t know what’s up.

    It sounds like you have adjusted to the new normal in the big smoke, and around you. Good for you.

    I loved seeing the parrot again, and the bluebell.


  15. The Temple of Mammon reminded me of some of the dark, brooding, mysterious ruins in the Tolkien trilogy. Certain echoes and spirits may still linger……………

    One needs to remember that many amazing and still standing old and very old structures were built with muscle power. A low energy future may not preclude a built environment, but I suspect the need for each such structure will be very carefully considered before beginning. (Of course, in less egalitarian times, mere whims may still be enough to marshal great efforts).

    Phosphorus- don’t mean to beat my drum too much, but I’ve been watching this particular aspect of the peak unfold for a while now. Time to renew old patterns. I discussed phosphorus and closing the circle in this post:

    The keep calm and carry on thing is working less and less for me lately. Too many harbingers.

  16. @ Inge – My Jerusalem artichokes didn’t flower, again. But then, they’re in a tub, so, might be a bit root bound. Mine only grow about 3 feet tall. Next year, I’m only going to put in a fewer tubers, and mix in some nice composted chicken poop. See what happens … Lew

  17. Yo, Chris – Yup. I saw that about Faceplant. This old interweb thing-y just keeps getting shakier, and shakier. Every upgrade is worse than the last. I shudder to think what the next library catalog upgrade will be like. Be careful what you wish for (speculate on). You may not want them to comment. 🙂 . But, you screen. Might want to let one or two through, so we can all have a good laugh.

    Hmmm. Christmas films. Almost any version of “A Christmas Carol.” (Dickens). Though you may want to look at some of the old black and white versions, from the 1930s and 1940s. Just for a change. Or, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” 1946. Interesting. It fell flat on it’s face, when it was released. And then became a cult classic. It’s been done to death, here, but if you’ve never seen it, it’s worth a look. Just not every year. Multiple times. Then theres “The Best Christmas Pageant Ever.” Or, “The Charlie Brown Christmas.” And, last but not least, “A Christmas Story.” “You’ll put your eye out! No BB gun!” By the way, you can buy replicas of Dad’s lamp, in two sizes. 🙂 .

    The news about the general store, and other businesses, in your hamlet, just bites the big one. 🙁 . Bound to happen, sooner or later. But that doesn’t take the sting out.

    Early adaptors are probably the same people who scream “First!” When posting to a blog. I’m amused when Mr. Greer tosses them out on their ear. I used to think early adapters should be hunted down, and dispatched. And, their progeny. As it’s probably an inheritable trait. Either I’ve mellowed (not likely) or, I just don’t care, anymore. I figure karma will catch up with them, sooner or later.

    LOL. The bank teller probably thought if you were so disorganized, as to forget your phone, gosh knows what else you’ve let slide 🙂 .

    Given what you’re all going through, I didn’t think you’d watch “Songbird.” Maybe in ten or twenty years, when this is all just a bad memory.

    I don’t know what Nick’s reasoning about the tablets are, we had but a brief time to talk, and a lot of catching up to do. But I managed to slip in that skills and social connections, were the way to go. Maybe it gave him a bit of food for thought? He knows his way around wood.

    The biscuits and gravy were quit good. So, probably not good for me. But, it supports the Club, and once a week, probably won’t kill me any faster. The biscuits came out of one of those refrigerated dough tubes, I told you about. So they were light and flakey. I forgot to inquire about the source of the gravy end of things. Tasty, but needed some fried onions. Millard Effect, and all that.

    I think I recommended the small grain book, to you. I didn’t realize it had a lot to say about the baking end of things. Maybe the book by Logsdon. I’ll check our library.

    The abandoned buildings will probably be left to their fate. As a species, we don’t clean up after ourselves, very well 🙂 . I found those DVD series, “After Us.” (or, something like that) pretty fascinating. First the skyscrapers are taken over by plants and birds … then, eventually, they tumble.

    The profound thought came from a new book called, “The Golden Flea.” Already back at the library, so author, escapes me. The author and his family, have lived for years in The Chelsea Hotel. An interesting story, in itself. It’s in New York, and many a famous artist and musician has lived there. I read a book about it, a few years back. Anyway. The Golden Flea was a collection of flea markets, in the neighborhood. On weekends, empty buildings, parking garages and open parking lots, became one vast flea market. Hundreds of vendors. It’s about the interesting characters that came and went, over the years. Of course, it’s all gone now. The whole area has been gentrified, and the empty buildings and parking lots turned into condos and boutiques. I found it interesting, probably due to my background.

    Another day, another Currier and Ives lithograph.

    Look at the blue on that bird! 🙂 . I must say mine … the color is just as vibrant, but somehow, a bit “softer.” That’s it! Enough lithographs for awhile. He has three more I was interested in, but decided I really don’t want or need. I keep hoping he’ll come up with “The Drunkard’s Progress.” Which will be pricey. Lew

  18. Chris,

    I had 2 primary work sites the Summer of Graveyard Shifts. Site A was 2 nights per week, not consecutive, fixed graveyard shifts. Saturday and Sunday were rotating shifts at Site B. I was also on call for any shift the remaining 3 days. So…the other 2 weekend people at Site B had no problem NOT working graveyards, so I was able to fix it with the office that I worked graveyard on all 4 scheduled days, and that I would not be on call for day shifts, only swing and graveyard. That worked well for my sleep. I have no idea how I kept up with the Vitamin D.

    I’d not heard that people spun Samoyed fur for wool, but it doesn’t surprise me. They have a tremendous amount of fur, and there are gobs of it during the spring shedding season.

    I’ve heard that faerie folk story before. It’s a definite “be careful what you wish for” tale!

    Maybe some sprinkles on Wednesday, and then more frost scheduled later in the week. Some trees are looking really nice with their leaves turning. Knowing that we’re about to lose the summerish weather ( Sunday through Tuesday were near +23C), I worked extra outside Monday and Tuesday to get a few projects finished, especially the bulk of the concrete work.

    That’s sad about the person who spread the unmentionable all over. Puts everybody else into a worse situation. It would make me want to do something, er, not nice to that person.

    Yeah, what we get exposed to about Australia is the outback, mostly the arid stuff. The movies do that. Occasionally something other than desert, but not often. It’s fun to see what else is there through the eyes of someone who lives there.

    Some English films and TV shows are extremely funny. And the humor is radically different from typical American humor. I find the English version of humor to be a welcome change, especially with the bawdy innuendo.

    The cement. For much of the weathered areas, I placed a layer of premixed concrete that included concrete adhesive. That should adhere well to the underlying layer and provide protection from the moisture. Then, over that material, I added a layer of Quikrete. The Quikrete was also placed on the top level of the porch (mostly unweathered area), as well as a large weathered area on ground level. It should add some moisture protection as well as making everything look uniform while also being somewhat smoother than the premixed stuff.


  19. Hi Pam,

    Thank you and it has been a year of change for both of us. 🙂 I’d like to think of the work along the lines of slowly but surely, we’ll get there, like the proverbial tortoise. Truth to tell, it gets easier to live here each year, and the systems are also much better established and tested under all manner of unusual and sometimes extreme conditions.

    No doubts about it, your paths would have once begun as easily navigated tracks through your property. Then, as time went on, the vegetation encroached upon the excellence of the paths until you dared no longer venture upon certain paths after a solid rain? I only know that because, that is exactly what happens here, and then a person must hack and slash at the obstreperous vegetation.

    I hear you about the poor tomato harvest and feel your pain. Most years we harvest well beyond 200 pounds of the fruit, but last year was a problem – and it is warmer here. The brown spots could just have easily been weather damage? Dunno. Sometimes the fruit here get hail damage, and that presents as red spots. All very unpleasant, but the fruit is still edible. I spotted the very first tomato seedlings today.

    Once we accepted that we had no choice in the matter, the tension drained away, it was kind of like facing your birth date popping up in the draft. It is hard to fear what you’ve already faced. It is brutal down here, and hold outs are becoming non persons. It interests me greatly that the politicians have not subjected themselves to the mandatory processes which they’ve heaped upon the public. They are fools for not acting so.



  20. Hi Steve,

    The patina of age sure hung over those ruins from the gold rush. The original no longer there, ore crushing plants attached to the water wheel apparently did create quite the nearby echo. Can you imagine working under such conditions? A person would rapidly lose their hearing. At one time, the crushing plant there employed 70 people.

    Well that’s it isn’t it? People believe that it is either business as usual, or back to the caves. And they’re wrong on either front. Humans use technology, and have developed and honed appropriate tools over an inordinately long period of time. That’s just how we are, and it is what we do. We might not be able to keep the really high tech stuff going.

    Yes, you and I are both aware of the phosphorus problem, and truthfully the orchards here had to survive many a year with deeply impaired available soil minerals. And the slow growth of the trees reflected the underlying mineral (and soil life form) issues. It’s no exaggeration that I’ve distributed over 40,000 pounds of coffee grounds in the orchards over the past many years (plus other stuff), and anyway, very little organic matter has ever left the property. Nowadays I mix other minerals in with the coffee grounds, notably agricultural lime, and things are really zipping along as a result. But what I’ve learned out of all of this is that it is almost impossible to scale to organic growing methods on a large scale. The current systems we use to support our species are broken from the factory, and there is no getting around that not inconsequential matter – although I’d be more than happy for someone, anyone, to prove me wrong.

    Yes, I agree, the number of alarming matters is rapidly escalating. Mate, what do you do, other than keep on going?



  21. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, the Vitamin D question is interesting from your work. It is possible that because you were in the summer months, the sun you did see may have provided far more energy to you than the winter sun, but I don’t really know and have wondered about that matter with shift work.

    The editor’s grandfather used to work night shift at a tannery operation, and he lived to a ripe old age, so it may not be that big an issue.

    It was a wise idea to wangle the shifts so that your sleep patterns were fairly consistent. I’m guessing most people hated the weekend work as it limited their perceived social lives, but seriously I’m not entirely convinced that I enjoyed the weekend night activities which my mates seemed hell bent on doing. They used to stir me up about heading home early, but you know full time work and part time Uni was not their experience. They could waste the weekends. How did the night shift work out with your friends?

    Yeah, people are quite adventurous, and I have no experience with turning dog fur into wool – I spotted the reference on the wikitrouble page about the dog breed. Who knew? Ollie is blowing his coat right now, and err, dust bunnies need vacuuming.

    Possibly the lesson to be taken away from that particular faerie tale was that one must not assume that virtues and morals are equally shared among folks unknown. And read the fine print! Always a wise act, except for those annoying I agree to software buttons, except that you have no real choice not to if you want to use the software.

    Wise to get the concrete work sorted out whilst there remains enough heat to cure the product. Someone showed me an artists impression of a Mars colony the other day, and I thought to myself: good luck with getting that concrete to cure in so cold an environment.

    Well, I doubt we’ll ever discover who the responsible person was, but we do know that they are now in isolation, because the response was all very official. I was there late that afternoon, but it was way outside of the time period, which was morning.

    Thanks for saying that, and likewise it is a pleasure to share the mysterious land all around me. It’s pretty quiet in the rural areas here, and if you suddenly teleported here, you’d probably imagine that you had also been dropped through a time portal to twenty years in the past! I’ve felt that feeling from time to time in my travels.

    Yes, I too see the differences between the two cultures. It is kind of like the many subtle differences between the two films: Death at a Funeral; and, Four Weddings and a Funeral. Both cover similar narrative grounds, but from very different cultural perspectives. They’re both great films.

    Ah, interesting, and glad to hear that the concrete work has progressed nicely. Down here I believe they call quickcrete by the name fencecrete. Concrete has been an interest over the years, and the mixture can produce all sorts of long term results. Your work sounds good to me.



  22. Hello Chris
    Do you know how deep in the soil the bluebells move across? I ask because I have a thin line of bluebells along a boundary fence. On their other side is my narrow driveway. The bluebells refuse to cross this driveway into the extensive woodland beyond and I do want them to. The driveway is not made up, it is simply the clay that is everywhere.

    Although all our news says that there are shortages in our shops, I haven’t noticed it. But oh how food prices are rising! I bought 2 large tomatoes on Monday. They were £1 each!


    @ Lew
    All my fruit and veg. plants have to be in containers as the woodland is completely tree root bound. I do have 2 varieties of Jerusalem artichokes. One much larger than the other. However none other than the flowering one, are more than 4 ft tall. Oddly enough they seem to grow well in rough conditions so I am not sure that they need feeding.


  23. Hi Lewis,

    A fascinating article on the extraction of water from the atmosphere. Candidly it sounds like a technology from the fictional desert planet Dune. 🙂 I’ve been aware of the process and like the article suggests, it is a similar technology to air conditioning. In particular, and not to be a buzzkill, but the guy in the article made the astounding claim that his solar power system more than covered electricity usage in his home and also for the water from atmosphere extractor. I dunno about those claims because I live in a world where the sun doesn’t shine at night, and some winter days produce only 15 minutes of peak sunlight. Let’s just say that I’m not a believer in that hype. You can do the same trick overnight in a desert with a plastic bag – a good survival trick if it ever became necessary – although not on such a scale as the electric machine thing. But if you had plenty of electricity, the machine would work. The city of Perth where Damo resides is reliant on about six desalination water plants. You do what ya gotta do.

    To be honest, you could probably make a bicycle powered condenser, but providing the turning motion might use as much water as you produce.

    Did anyone get to the bottom of the outage? I heard some loose talk about messed up redirection tables, and that may be true for all I know (which is not much in that particular instance). We should start some even more loose talk about the outage and come up with some seriously outlandish suggestion. Here I will offer an early example: The space lizard people cut the cord for the main servers at the facilities just because an expose was about to be splashed all over the interweb about them and their dark doings. That sets the bar quite high for both outlandishness and foolishness. Dare I put you to the test to outdo this award winning pile of dog poop of a story?

    Mate, truly, do you really want to read what Biblewoke has to say? I now see the handle and just delete the comment. Of course there may be something important in the comment, but then again, maybe not. Just going with my gut feeling there. Some of the bot trolls are getting better than they were, but unfortunately for them a four year old could probably pen a more realistic comment. Over the years there have been a handful of comments that I was unsure of, and those I deleted because of the precautionary principle.

    Lewis, you’re scaring me when you recommend Dickens. 🙂 Do you know, I’ve never watched the film: “It’s a wonderful life”. Yeah, it does have a certain sort of cult following, doesn’t it? The Charlie Brown Christmas sounds fun. And woe is my poor education as I had not even heard of A Christmas Story, and yeah I can see that the BB gun would be a problem.

    You’re right, it was bound to happen sooner or later. I’m of the opinion that this one is gonna visit us all sooner or later, and much like the Bumpuses smelly dogs, it’ll probably be annoying to say the least.

    A mate of mine used to get pole position on Mr Greer’s blog, but was pleasant enough not to shout ‘First!’ I tend to agree with you, such folks need to be tossed out on their ear. Anyway, after searching questions were asked, my mate confessed that he’d sussed out the pattern of posting. I thought that he had some sort of blog sniping software… I’m pretty random with the exact time of posting, although it is a Monday morning, usually between 8am and 10.30am (my time). There is a process to get the computer to sort out that matter, but I’m old school in this regard.

    Hehe! Yeah, maybe you’re right. I’ve known them at the bank for many years, but you know it is my opinion that few if anyone’s mental health has improved over the last year and a half. I just cut them some slack and hope they don’t take that to be some sort of licence to misbehave in future. Always a risk.

    That Songbird film just can’t happen, it’s too soon… The hurt is real. 🙂 Far out, maybe I’m not mucking around. Yup, you called it, ten or twenty years, maybe.

    Nick sounds like a useful bloke to know in a scrap, and he’ll probably like you say, ponder your thoughts.

    I have it on good authority, that in the present circumstances, the old food rules no longer apply. Well that is what the lovely lady told me recently, anyway. It was pretty funny, because I was purchasing a lemon drizzle cake at the time, and have a similar approach to you in this regard. A little bit does no great harm, a lot is probably a problem. Biscuit dough is so easy to make… Oh well, it gets folks cooking and this is a good thing.

    I began reading about the Maillard reaction, and the chemistry began to make my head swim. So I’ll tell you a saying I heard from a certain potty mouthed celebrity chef whom we’ve discussed before. It sums up the effect nicely too: If it’s brown it’s cooked. If it’s black it’s fooked. His words, not mine, but it conveys a general cooking technique to the dilettante in the kitchen.

    Nope. It wasn’t Gene Logsdon, although his book on growing grains was outstanding. It was Homegrown Whole Grains by the author Sara Pitzer.

    Ouch. You wouldn’t want to be there the day the skyscrapers take a nose dive. Thanks for that, and I can see how that would come to pass.

    Hey, I hear you about that, and gentrification has undone some wonderful areas during my experience too. You know we left the city over a decade and a bit ago. The aspirational neighbours did my head in. One of them planned to construct a seven metre (about 23ft) high wall on the northern boundary of my back yard. I can understand a small renovation, but that was a monster. The whole backyard would have been plunged into shade for most of the year. And after they took that giant dump, I heard they moved on as by sheer chance I saw their house up for sale. Hmm.

    The blue is pretty awesome, and dare I suggest that it is about to make a meal of some of that fine looking fruit?

    You are in danger of running out of wall space (as I am with sheds to keep the farm machinery out of the weather). 🙂



  24. Hi Inge,

    I’ll have a very close look at the bluebells. Certainly they appear to be spreading from a tuber, which suggests some form of division of the tuber. And I have not seen them cross a path anywhere here, of that I’m certain. I’ll have a better look in the light tomorrow, and post some photos for you.



  25. Yo, Chris – I figured you’d geek out on the water catchment article 🙂 . Leaving aside the whole problems of solar, that we’re well versed in, I think those eye watering prices are more about aesthetics, than function. That it could be done cheaper, and, perhaps less complex. Somewhere along the way, I have a very clear picture in my mind as to how to harvest water in the desert. Dig a shallow pit, put a catchment container in the bottom, stretch a piece of plastic over the top, weighted down with stones, place a small pebble in the middle of the plastic so the condensing water runs down the underside of the plastic and drops in the catchment basin. Wonder where I picked that up?

    Faceplant Boy discovered the aliens nefarious plot, to suck the brains out of his users, using the Wi-fi pathways. Or maybe, just 5-G. To beat back the aliens, he had to recover the Hammer of Thor. And, do it all in six hours, to be home in time for dinner. Or be shot into outer space. Of course, in real life, he doesn’t give a fig for his users. Of course, he’s very miffed to be bothered with this stuff. I’m sure he whines, “It’s just a platform! I should just be raking it in, and not concerned with the details. It’s covered in the fine print!” Sooner or later, responsibility bites him in the ….

    With a handle like bible woke, no, don’t put the comments through. Get enough of that round here, as it is. I see Alyson has made a reappearance. Way back in the early days of computers (dial up era) I used to get a lot of spam, whose subject always starts off, “Alyson…” etc.. I finally figured out (but never clicked on any of those e-mails) that you were supposed to think, “Oh, I should tell them they have the wrong address.” I just figured Alyson could look out for herself. Well, after many years, she’s back again. Maybe the perp was in jail, in the meantime?

    Dickens must have been off his feed. In print, “A Christmas Carol” is a slim little volume. Dad’s lamp, from “A Christmas Story.”


    I think it was the only thing he had ever won.

    Oh, skip the chemistry, as far as the Maillard Reaction, goes. Brown something and it tastes better. Often creates that fifth flavor, umami. First discovered when someone accidentally seared a Mallard duck.

    I’ll have to see if our library has “Homegrown Whole Grains.” I’m a little miffed at the library, right now. I’ve got stuff in transit, and can’t seem to get a straight answer, as to when the courier comes. Seems to be rather hit and miss, these days. Something, something about a new automated sorting machine, up at the service center. Why does, “Seemed like a good idea. What could possibly go wrong?” come to mind?

    Watched an interesting documentary, last night. “Alone on the Island of the Blue Dolphins.” Back in the 1950’s, a guy wrote a book based on a true story. “Island of the Blue Dolphins.” It became (and still is) a popular book. Won a lot of awards. A young adult book, though adults could get a lot out of it. The true story goes, back in the 1830s, a small population of Native Americans were evacuated off an island, off the coast of Southern California, by the Spanish. Reasons, unclear. Either because she was missed, or hid, a young woman was left behind. She lived on that island, alone, for 18 years. She was finally retrieved, willingly it seems, and lived with a kind family. But, seven weeks later, she died. Interesting documentary. Lew

  26. Hi Chris,

    That’s a really interesting photo of the ruins of the water wheel. South of here, in the Missouri Ozarks, there are water wheel ruins and other ruins of industrial technology from the 1800s. I’ll look forward to other such photos that you post. Tell the Editor that having you stand near it for scale added greatly to the appeal. Without you standing there I would have guessed it to be much smaller than it is.

    It seems quite late in your spring to be getting sleet, like what happened about 6 months ago when we got the latest and largest measurable spring snowfall I’ve experienced in the 37 years I’ve lived here. I hope that none of the fruit buds on your trees were adversely affected.

    I too am sorry to hear that your general store had to close due to people bringing the unmentionable to it. Lots of people seem to be in one or more of the first three of Kubler Ross’ five stages of grief (anger, denial, bargaining) regarding the unmentionable. Until a higher percentage of people reach acceptance, we are probably stuck in the present quite unsatisfactory situation.

    Meanwhile, it continues warmer than normal here. We may set a daily high temperature record on Saturday. I’ve begun preparing a bed for planting overwintering potato onions and garlic. Starting next week the moon phase and sign will be good for that sort of thing. This weekend I have an online dulcimer festival to attend. Time to trim my fingernails!


  27. Chris,

    I think you’re right, as I probably got enough sun exposure during those summer months that it wasn’t an issue. It hits some people hard starting in late November here. I don’t know how my coworkers coped with the shift work. Those of us that never worked day shifts, however, seemed to fare better on the graveyard shifts than did those who rotated shifts, so maybe I can guess.

    Oh yes, the expectation that the faeries in the faerie stories have minds and attitudes and goals similar to ours. Bwahahaha! Get in a room of several people and you’ll find that that expectation doesn’t work out very well. Then add in some type of non human entity? Read the small print, for sure. Or better yet, just walk away.

    You saw right through me. Clearly, I wanted to get that concrete project done when it was still warm. It just seems to cure better if it stays above +5C. It wouldn’t surprise me if I have to do more work on this next summer. That happens with these things. Plus, it sprinkled for about 2 hours this morning. Dunno what that’s gonna do to the curing process.

    Samoyed fur…I spent an hour on the phone being interviewed by the pet adoption people earlier today. Then I spent an hour texting back and forth and have a “meet and greet” appointment set up for Monday to meet a puppy – Samoyed and American Eskimo mix. If that works out, then we get a trial visit at our house for a few days. If that works, we can then adopt the puppy. I may have to learn how to turn the fur into wool. Or maybe drill holes at appropriate places and blow the fur into the exterior walls as insulation?

    Spokane (and the northern part of Idaho) used to have a saying: “Welcome to Spokane. Set your clock back 30 years.” Not so true any longer. Although people from very large towns might disagree.


  28. Hi Claire,

    Deep down I’m something of a shy person, but over the years with the previous paid writing and of course the blog and all of the photos, it’s kind of like regular weekly aversion therapy but over many long years. 🙂 Actually the recounting of stories on the spot, is a sort of skill which I employ in many areas of life nowadays. It’s a form of magic actually.

    It’s amazing what our civilisation casually leaves behind us all. Thought you might enjoy this image of what the wheel used to look like. The scale is astounding:

    Yes, climate variability does seem to be the new world order. 😉 I recall your late snowfall with a sense of dread and trepidation. I don’t know yet how things worked out on that front with the fruit set loss, but time will tell.

    It is an unsatisfactory situation, and few people will admit what an incredible waste of time it was to pursue the mass lock down strategy, which now appears to have been abandoned in favour of this even more weird and terrifying – any moment your lucky numbers will turn up – strategy. Mind you, those folks are fighters and they’re back in take away only form tomorrow for the staff that aren’t now having to isolate for two weeks. I respect that tenacity.

    But your larger point is correct, and loss is underlying everything right now. It is possibly why there is so much continual talk of death, because it is a death of sorts, I guess. You know, the trigger on all this was pulled a long time ago when I was but a wee young thing. We could have as a species chosen differently, but I understand and accept why things turned out as they did.

    Well done you on several fronts! 😉 The summer vegetable seedlings are rapidly sprouting, and I’ll plant the whole garden out in a few more weeks time. As you yourself know, it’s a big job…



  29. Hi DJ,

    Mate, it was a wild guess and also a touch of supposition. The sunlight affliction issue is a thing down here most years during the winter and early spring months, thus the massive increase in colds and flu’s, which coincidentally is less of a problem in the state to the north of here. So, things would be worse on that front given the latitude you live at – at a guess. However, rotating shifts seem like some sort of unnaturally cruel act to me, so I hear you about that. I like my patterns, and whilst you may laugh, I’ve noted that even those whom grouse for random acts of spontaneity, also like their patterns. And it has been my experience that our bodies respond better to sleep rhythms when they are sort of consistent. To muck around too much with those patterns is to ask for serious trouble.

    Hehe! So true in regard to motivations, death, flies and stuff. 🙂 Exactly, we assume that we know, but what if we don’t know? And then what subtle forces are being arraigned against us because we pretend to know? Best not to muck around with their business seems like the wiser course of action, and maybe help them out a bit. I do that act far more frequently these days.

    Hmm. I reckon you’re caught in a trap and might not be able to move on (sorry, couldn’t help myself there with the dodgy music puns!) Concreting here during the winter months is something you don’t see me doing, but I reckon you’ll be OK, maybe. My experience has been that a bit of water each day is a good thing, whilst too much will possibly cool the chemical reaction down far too much and slow the eventual curing process. What do the experts say in this regard? I might be too conservative in my approach. Mate, I dunno either… That makes two of us! 🙂

    Oh DJ, you are far more restrained than I in this regard, and have noted that I recounted similar stories with Ollie but with a more exasperated air. I can only commend your agreeable nature and you’ve provided a standard to perhaps rise to. Look, here I have to vent… Sorry… The shelter folks actually offered me free doggie counselling services when I adopted Ollie. WTF? My actual thoughts at the time were that these people had no idea about dogs, he’s a real gentleman of a dog, so I didn’t know what they were talking about and Ollie and I now just avoid those folks. Fingers crossed for you that it works out smoothly.

    Like the saying! 🙂 A very old timer around these parts once suggested to me that development was deliberately stifled around here, and that was when I knew that I’d met my people. 🙂



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Oh yeah, water is a major issue down here (as in California) and so such stories are like catnip, and just for good measure they threw in a mention of solar power. To be candid, I’ve seen electrical sub stations for entire streets that were smaller than that water harvesting industrial installation. When Christmas used to be celebrated, you may recall that I was a fan of one street in a nearby town where the residents went feral with Christmas lights? Well at the head of the street is a similar looking electrical substation which hums ominously due to the prodigious light works of that street. And it is actually smaller than that air to water device in the article.

    The trees harvest water from fog anyway, and as the sun rises upon a foggy morning, you can hear the droplets of water falling from the trees (and also collecting into the rainwater tanks).

    Mate, I’m not saying that your most excellent water harvesting device was used in an episode of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, but it kind of sounds like that. 🙂 And if it wasn’t Skippy, then surely the Leyland Brothers would have covered such a neat, simple and ingenious method? And it works. I’m sure the plants in that environment employ many clever tricks and stratgems to harvest precious water.

    Hehe!!! I totally cave in and admit defeat. That was a classic story. Thanks for the laughs. And yes, the main problem with making oneself a fat rich target, is that other people want in on the action, and they’re not always nice, those cheeky scamps. It would be a super nifty strategy to lead a particularly unappealing looking but otherwise quite pleasant life. I might have to consider doing that?

    Decided to have an admin day today. I woke up in the middle of the night last night with my heart racing (measured at 77 beats per minute!) and with the awful thought that the freakin’ thing I was forced to have was going to do me in. Then, reality kicked in and I realised I had too many things on my plate to handle and had to spend the day sorting them all out at a slow and steady pace. It was a long day, but also fruitful, and I didn’t even get to dinner until almost 10pm. It’s past 11pm now, but late nights are easier than early mornings… My brain has been overly stimulated this week.

    In other news, the general store looks set to open on a take away only basis tomorrow. Yay! You might not appreciate the finer points of the situation, but I’m guessing half of their usual staff would be in two weeks isolation now, even if they test negative. It’s a crazy situation, but those folks are fighters and I respect that.

    With all that is going on down here of late, I have this vague feeling that I should watch the film Rocky III. 🙂 I have this film recommendation on very good authority.

    Look, you did ask about the more unusual comments that get regularly deleted. To be honest, I’m surprised they keep posting. You’d imagine that whomever it is checked to see if the comments were actually posted? I can’t imagine that robots would be interested in bible wokeness? Maybe they are? I get a really ooky feeling if I read the comments too as the method of writing is very similar to that of legal writing. Just as an example, a person makes an argument and then points to a source, which I really don’t have time to read up about. Legal arguments are often presented the same way. Here is an argument, and here is the supporting legislation or precedent. Like I said, it’s all a bit ooky.

    Mate, beware Alyson. Maybe the person is harmless, maybe. Anyway, surely you recall the bunny boiler scene in the film fatal attraction? Scared the daylights out of me and promoted a wise cautionary tale.

    Speaking of bunnies, I began training Ruby to the job of boss bunny dog tonight. So I took her out rabbiting after dark and she acquitted herself well, although it is only early days. To be honest, I’m rather embarrassed by the current fluffy collective. Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy would never have put up with the garbage that the rabbits have been dealing of late. And of the three of the current collective, Ruby displays the most promise. If one of the dogs doesn’t rise to the challenge soon, I’ll have to go and bop the rabbits myself. They do have to earn their feed those dogs, as do I.

    Oh you’re on fire tonight! I enjoyed your Dickens comment immensely! The lamp scene was pretty funny. I doubt that the wokesters would allow such a scene in a film these days. So very wrong on a number of fronts… Yet somehow, so right too.

    I’ll take your word for the Mallard duck business. Roast duck is very tasty.

    The book is pretty good and it is geared towards small grain production which is pretty useful really.

    Why would a robot be cheaper than a human in book sorting? And how is that even possible?

    Thanks for mentioning the documentary and I’ll check it out tomorrow. Bed time now. Sleep is calling…



  31. Hi Chris
    Those two filter cap replacements should possibly be of the highest temperature rating. If the SU- 610 amp lives in the neighbor hood of the wood heater the extra room heat present may have worn them out during their time in your well insulated house. They have a fairly tough capacitor task to level out the the rectified power in the amp. Another possibility is a bad lot from original parts manufacturer. Take your choice ??.

    The component directional orientation on printed circuit boards is pretty much necessary. Being able to read the component color codes or printed Identification marks from left right or top to bottom is required. I used to do some pc design/build . Mostly for very small commercial and for my own small private business needs. Your friends at Plasmatronics could show you through the process if they haven’t already. My experience was in the 60s. The advancements since have been mind boggling. Hmm ? I’m not sure I want my mind anymore boggled than it is now days ?.

    Thanks Mate for the vote for plastic over copper plumbing. The plumber under consideration holds modern plastic pipe in high regard. The work planned can be all reached by removal of small areas of sheet rock being removed and replaced. And I got folks available in that line of work who are not me.?.

    Cheers for now Al

  32. Hi Chris,
    Great pic of the water wheel. Sounds like more exploring is in order. Glad you and the editor found a place to have dinner. Did you notice a steep increase in prices? We’ve been out some and sadly the cost of eating out now will cut back on our frequency.

    We survived Ruth’s visit. Actually she was much better than I expected. Still I was glad to have her gone and things get back to normal. I think Salve was too as Ruth bugs her quite a bit wanted her to play.

    We’ve been getting rain!! I think I can put the hoses away now. Yesterday was pig loading day which is usually a challenge. Every year Doug make some changes trying to make things go smoother. This year he parked the trailer right at the gate of their pen opened the ramp and put feed inside. One went in and out regularly but the other two just stepped on the ramp. The first one went right in but the other two weren’t as easy. They’ve been getting their daily marshmallow and love them along with apples and acorns. We were finally able to lure them up the ramp by throwing a trail of marshmallows so all in all it went fairly well. All three were around 300 lbs.

    I’ve used an ATM once. We don’t even know where our ATM cards are anymore. I also use cash as much as possible. In fact we’ve often gotten a reduction in price for repairs when we offer cash or check.

    You might recall that I planted raspberries and blackberries this year. I just received Gene Logsdon’s book about berries. I’m a bit unclear how to prune them especially this first year.

    You asked me a question last week and I answered it but the comment never appeared. Maybe an error on my part. Anyway I forgot the question and if I go look for it I’ll never get this sent :).

  33. Yo, Chris – All this talk about dog hair …

    And, there’s actually a book out there, “Knitting with Dog Hair.” Your resident fiber maven may find the article interesting.

    The old picture of the water wheel, certainly put things in perspective. Reminds me of the giant ferris wheels, they had at some of the old world’s fairs.

    I think I might have seen the nifty trick for harvesting water, in an old Boy Scout manual. Maybe. The black and white sketch sticks so clearly in my mind. Amazing what sticks (or does not stick) in the old noggin.

    Hmmm. You remind me a bit of a neighbor, of mine. But what was your temperature, blood pressure and oxygen levels? 🙂 But True Confession time … The other morning, I sneezed twice, and then blew an enormous blood clot, out of my nose. It wasn’t a bleeder. Given my chronic nasal drip, that happens from time to time. Why I keep children’s saline spray around. Any-who, can’t say I was particularly freaked out, but decided to check out a few reasonable web sites to check up on this blood clot / jab thing. The people who had problems, had them within ten days of getting vaccinated. They also had high blood pressure and fatty blood. Frequency? 4 per million. I’m almost more likely to get hit by lightening (1 in 500,000). Think I’ll turn it around, a bit. If you get the vaccine, you’ll be hit by lightening. Probably because the vaccine makes you magnetic. And, yes, that idea is floating around out there. Maybe quarantine is leaving people with too much time on their hands? People need hobbies! 🙂 .

    Go, the General Store! I hope they didn’t loose too much produce ad dairy.

    I didn’t watch “Fatal Attraction.” Another one of those films where I saw enough trailers, and read enough synopsis, that it didn’t appeal.

    There’s a coda to Dad’s lamp ..

    And, you can buy replicas of the lamp, on-line. In many different sizes and price points.

    I stopped by the library, yesterday. Our system has one copy, floating around out there, of the grain book. I put a hold on it. I also picked up the sequel to “Hollow Kingdom,” “Feral Creatures.” Read a bit of it, last night. Too early to tell if it’s as good. But, I caught myself skimming through bits, as I just wanted to get back to the story line. Might have just been my mood.

    I mentioned Thor’s hammer, in my Faceplant fantasy, probably because I picked up a copy of “Thor: The Dark World” DVD, off the shelf. Watched about 20 minutes of it, and threw in the towel. Too many long names, with too many consonants. And nine realms? That’s as bad as “seven royal houses.” There was no flow chart, included in the DVD case. But I think, on reflection, what really got to me was, well, sure, it’s got a lot of action. But the scenes cut so fast, I had a hard time keeping up with what was going on.

    We had scattered showers, yesterday. In the afternoon, we got a real deluge, for about half an hour. A real gully-washer. It’s supposed to be nice, today, and I’ll see if I can pick another gallon of blueberries.

    I discovered that Mr. Greer’s site is one where “Your Clock is Ahead.” Hmmm. Maybe his clock is behind? 🙂 . Anyway, while I was at the library, I read his post. Yup. Pretty much what I saw and experienced in my education and job life. When will it end? Lew

  34. Hey Chris,

    Well, look at you being able to leave the house and go bushwalking. Here in Melbourne we’re apparently once again able to remove our masks to drink alcohol from tonight. Funny thing is, I always thought it was illegal to drink alcohol in the street here. I remember when I went to Britain thinking how strange it was that people were just boozing on in parks and pretty much wherever they wanted. Oh well, the law doesn’t seem to matter much in this country these days. It’s whatever they want it to be. Although, I did notice the unions have started making noises about legal challenges to the vaccine mandates. Even the CFMEU. I suspect the number of members threatening to quit might have been a touch higher than what we were led to believe. Apparently the rule requiring judges to take the vax has also been withdrawn on legal advice. How dodgy is that. That would be a funny lawsuit actually if the judges sued the government. Who would hear the trial?


  35. Hi Simon,

    You did say that things would get weirder, and I agree, things are indeed weirder now, and I doff my hat to you for your prescience. The mandatory thing just pains me, I’m not a fan and have been given my marching orders on three separate fronts now. I see ol’ Barnaby has argued against mandatory orders for some of the very people making those orders. It’s not good optics. Barnaby Joyce says mandating vaccines for federal MPs ‘will lead to a fight’. Those muppets are paid to have those arguments and fights – that is their role after all, and if the fight is too much for them, maybe they’re not up for doing their jobs, or maybe it just doesn’t make much sense, and they’re having troubles justifying it. Grrr. That is my rant for this evening.

    Thanks for the heads up, and I see that there is an article on those legazl folks from only 37 minutes ago, alas it is behind a paywall and there is no other reporting of it anywhere.

    It’s my website… Here I will break my own rule. This seriously pisses me off. Ah, I feel much better now.

    Mate, the editor and I have been crushed between the hammer and the anvil on this front, and yeah, what do you do? She was not very well after the first course for a couple of days.

    Hope your garden is growing well! Had the first tomato seedlings germinate in the past few very pleasant days of weather.

    My best guess is that now the increasing incidence of tier one sites, will be the new spontaneous lock down, also known as the ultimate slam dunk. But time will tell. We are but small fry.



  36. Hi Al,

    From memory, and you are seriously testing me here, the power amp filter capacitors were rated to 105’C, and I selected for a higher than original voltage. Fingers crossed that I got that choice right?

    An alternative perspective is that the two original chunky 4700uF capacitors were over three decades old and had worked (and still did) valiantly during those long intervening years, and so my gut feeling was that they were at their end of life anyway.

    Al, you are so going to love this. Over the past decade or so, I have occasionally visited the Plasmatronics dudes in their factory and enjoyed a chat with their technical, repair and assembly folks. They were really cool people, and what I learned from those visits was that the solar battery charger controller devices were constructed with the absolute minimum of electrolytic capacitors, and they are also rated to work in ambient air temperatures of 55’C without de-rating. Most of the other 80A equipment from other suppliers relies upon mechanical cooling fans, but not Plasmatronics stuff. The devices deal with the world which is experienced, and not some other more idealised version of the world which doesn’t have to sometimes get super hot days (like what you and I occasionally experience).

    Yes, I have a lot of experience with both copper and plastic pipes (not to mention galvanised steel) and by far the most reliable is the plastic. My only advice would be to ensure that the plastic is not exposed to the sun unless the piping and connectors etc. are stabilised to UV radiation. You won’t regret it.



  37. Hi Margaret and Lewis,

    So I responded to Simon and Al, and then was on a phone call this evening. And by the time the conversation wound up it was 10:45pm, and I was wondering where the evening had gotten to, except that I knew full well that it had disappeared in a general chat-fest. I am nothing if not a chatterbox (you may have noticed). 🙂 Except that at 10:45pm I was left with the conundrum that the editor would want to go to bed soon. What to do when confronted with such a situation?

    Bribe her with chocolate seemed like the best option. Winning! One Lindt ball later, the editor reluctantly agreed to a further 15 minutes, which frankly is not nearly enough time to reply to your lovely comments, but this is all that I have available for me to work with, and will have to suffice. With nothing planned tomorrow evening, I promise to reply tomorrow. Until then, I shall do my best in the time remaining available to me…



  38. Hi Lewis,

    20 minutes and counting down…

    What? Knitting with dog hair sounds intriguing, and possibly something that might be right up our alley. Ollie is blowing his coat right now, and the other day in my office / computer room (which is frankly not as large as the editors corner office) I opened the door to the outside world and a gust of wind blew a lot of dust bunnies from under the dogs couch.

    Speaking of bunnies, Ruby has again valiantly taken on the wabbits in the orchard this evening, and even spotted a wabbit the editor didn’t previously spot. Ruby has made no notches on her food bowl yet, but she’s trying hard. I of course was on the phone happily chatting away whilst all this canine-wabbit interactions were going on.

    I’ll pass the article on to the editor and see what she learns from it.

    Hey, speaking of ferris wheels, did you hear that the huge one in Melbourne was recently allegedly decommissioned? The thing is huge and may have been called ‘the eye’ or something like that. We travelled up to the goldfields ruins today but this time took a couple of hours walk through the forest. There were ruins and mines everywhere. Way back in those days, the area must have been jumping with people living in out of the way places. We took the camera along but haven’t checked out if the photos turned out.

    I assume that the depopulation of rural areas which began in WWI and peaked during WWII cleared out the forests of people, but couldn’t find any word on that. I recall reading a local history which suggested that after WWII there was only one bloke living up in this entire mid to eastern part of the mountain range, and he was notable for his fear of snakes and so regularly back burned the forest undergrowth – although that may have been his story which he gave and he was following the previous indigenous practices and thus keeping the forests more open than they are today? Dunno, and I can’t now ask him.

    Yeah, I hear you about that, and there is only so much which can stick in the mind and be recalled at will. There are so many areas of interest I’d like to learn, but reality kicks in and the old brain is full, and something might accidentally fall out if too much is squooshed in. 🙂

    Fair enough and you may laugh, but this one rattled me. Look, there have been so many changes in the advice given, and the things are mandatory for some, and then that gets over turned for some but then not for others, and I don’t know. How much stimulation on this subject can my brain handle? Probably not much more. The sheer lack of inconsistency has the lizard side of my brain shrieking klaxon calls of warning, and yet I’m forced. I don’t see the body count and that is another issue, but you know in the end I do what I’m told to do because the consequences for not doing so are pretty severe, and the reach is great enough right now that I can’t become a non-person without serious consequences.

    The stats here after 10 million doses indicate that the risk is about 3 in 100,000. Admittedly the risk is low, but this is new too, so there is unknown risk as well.

    I went there this morning and purchased a take away coffee and also grabbed some milk. I’m very impressed with them for such tenacity.

    Editor says bedtime, and I worked in a few extra minutes. We can’t be good all the time, can we? 🙂



  39. Goomorning! Chris
    When ewe awake:
    My wife and I have hopefully dodged a case of pandemic
    Plague. We were exposed ,in our home, on this past Sunday to Covid by a visiting friend who is my wife’s daily morning walking companion along the Columbia River front walk paths which exist for several miles here.

    The friend had a bit of a cough during the visit. She stopped at a pharmacy and purchased a Covid home test kit ,which was only approved by our gummint health authority a short while ago. She tested positive for Covid both times on two tests so went to facility which offered an older and supposedly more accurate test which came back also positive for Covid. We were concerned about that.
    My wife had more exposure to the coughing than I ,so she arranged to get tested on this past Tuesday. The results came back on Thursday as no Covid detected. Hooray! Of course before the good news got completely around worry spread like a rampant wildfire. Thankfully, things seem normal this morning ??. The friend who like us was vaccinated earlier this year is feeling better and is at home for another week or so . Hopefully things continue well for Her.
    Opps 10 AM. I gotta have some breakfast!

  40. Yo, Chris – I really like the subtitle of the book on knitting dog hair. “Better a Sweater from a Dog You Know, Then a Sheep You’ll Never Meet.” 🙂 . If one was intentionally getting a dog, for fur, I’d say a long haired dog that sheds a lot?

    See? You should have built that stone tower. Put your office up there. Penthouse office trumps corner office, every time.

    I know they have a big Ferris Wheel in London, called “The Eye.” I think I might have seen the Melbourne Eye, in an episode of “My Life is Murder” Which, by the way, has a season two, out on DVD. Safely on my hold list.

    What is it about ruins? I think part of it is curiosity about what has gone before. And part of it is “What could I do with this?” That way lies madness, and “Grand Designs.” 🙂

    What’s worse is when something falls out of your brain … and then you step on it. More good pairs of shoes have been ruined …

    I think people become conscious of their own mortality (one hopes) and then deals with it, to a greater or lesser degree.

    I picked another gallon of blueberries, last night. There are still some to be picked, and even green ones, on the bush. But, we may get our first frost, Monday night. We’ll see.

    I went to the grocery, last night, and life is now complete. The pumpkin pie ice cream is in! I almost missed it. There were only four quarts left in the case. I bought three. Never mind room for pictures on the wall, it’s freezer space that’s in short supply. I need to get in their and reorganize. And, make a final count of gallons of blueberries. Lew

  41. Hello Chris
    I have just shown Son the photo of that incredible wheel having previously shown him the ‘ancient temple’. He is fascinated and wonders how deep it went there.

    Ren has blotted his copybook. he got into one lot of chickens and killed 4 of them. Another 6 vanished. One of them turned up in my garden but Son failed to catch it. If they don’t go home rapidly foxes will get them.
    Ren will now be kept tied up.


  42. I see y’all had another temblor, nearby. Only a 4.9 so 10 times less exciting. Maybe you slept through it? Best wishes from an Upper Corner of Lower Alabama farm girl who knows that the best thing coming out of Auburn is Interstate 85.,-230.36133&extent=-24.00239,-193.79883&range=week&magnitude=all&sort=largest&listOnlyShown=true&showUSFaults=true&baseLayer=terrain&timeZone=utc&settings=true

  43. Good evening

    While Ruby was trying to do her duty with the bunnies, Sir Sancho was chasing another sort of tail, at high speed.

    Flopped as usual in a disconsolate, and very bored, state ,at my feet on the inter-city train to London, he was galvanised into action when a certain saucy ladydog trotted by.

    Sleek, neat, gingery, and utterly indifferent to the noble Sancho, she had more effect on him than would a proffered sausage roll.

    Up he shot, ears pricked (if those of a spaniel can do so?) tail sticking out in rigid excitement, rear legs , er, quivering, and stuck his head into the aisle, nose twitching

    He looked right, then left, repeatedly; then up at the ceiling (?) and finally out of the window (??), panting furiously: but Love on all fours had eluded him. The Encounter had been Brief, so much so that one party hadn’t even noticed it…..

    What can she have adorned her naughty little furry person with, I wondered?

    Was it the intoxicating and hard-to-resist aroma of ‘Heat!’, or the slightly edgy and dangerous scent of ‘Bitch!’ – both by Doggior?

    Whichever, it was powerful!

    I reproached him with what Lady Ruby, his One True Love would think about such behaviour. Was this the comportment of a doggy Knight?

    ‘Ah, but you see, my lord, that little bit of fluff would only have been one of the buds: the Lady Ruby is always my flowering bush!’

    Isn’t he romantic?! Best not to let Ruby read this, all the same……

    All the best


  44. Chris,

    Hehe. Yes, humans like patterns/routines and can get wildly out of sorts when the routines are disturbed. Compare with your Fluffy Collective and you’ll probably find that the Collective and the humans are very similar in that regard.

    As you noted, the sleep pattern thing is not to be trifled with. Rotating shifts is difficult at best, and becomes exponentially harder as we age. Proper sleep, quality and quantity, is very important.

    Agreed. Best to know what we know, know what we don’t know, and help all of the other living things in our area, moving on afterwards to the next project. Then the chips will fall where they will.

    Oh, the concrete work is done for the season. We’ve had good frosts the past few mornings, with more scheduled. That last batch of concrete work I did, well, I may need to redo next summer. It got too cold too fast, apparently, for the curing to work properly for the Quikrete. At least it was the least weathered part of the project, so it’s not as critical as some other areas. In one of my more brilliant moments, I decided to save that part for last just in case.

    This particular dog rescue/adoption group clearly spells out their process on their website. Then they discussed it with me very early during the first phone conversation, loudly hinting at the idea that if I don’t like their process, I should look somewhere else. When reading their website, and similar criteria with other groups, it quickly became apparent that “the process is the process”, so I need to accept, adapt, move on. The “pet adoption” fee primarily covers their costs up to the date of adoption.

    I was told that if I go through an approved obedience class with the puppy, I will get a substantial refund of the adoption fee. Which refund I think is LESS than the cost of the class. 😉 At least it’s not required.

    The title of a children’s book caught my eye at the library, so I checked it out and read it today. “We Don’t Eat Our Classmates” is the title. If my memory is still working, the “monsters” in my first grade class didn’t bite or eat the other kids. They ate paste instead. And that totally drove the teacher bat-guano crazy.


  45. Chris:

    You always have eye-opening things to say. Thanks!

    (as in your last paragraph in your comment to me)


  46. Hi Margaret,

    Your words were prescient, because yesterday we went back to the goldfields area and went on a loop walk through the bush. The number of stone ruins where people once lived and worked was astounding, and nowadays the bush has taken it all back. There are even mines just in the middle of nowhere. Probably not wise to walk around there after dark.

    It is interesting that you mentioned that about prices, because the restaurant served decent sized main meals and they were from memory about $24 each, plus a side order of rice and the dim sims, of course. That sort of price indicates a level of sustainability for the business – there is such a thing as too cheap, and some businesses do chase sales over profit. Businesses can’t pursue that strategy for too long as they inevitably burn through their cash reserves.

    I hear you about increasing prices for food though. 2.2 pounds of mince meat (1kg) now sells for $16. I usually purchase half that amount each week and chuck it into the dog breakfast and chickens breakfast over two days. The chickens unrealistically would enjoy eating such treats every day!

    In breaking fluffy news… Plum caught a rabbit today, and Ollie manage to eat over half of it. He looks very lethargic this evening, and Plum saved me the cost of feeding them all tonight.

    Hehe! Well Ruth is young and would have enjoyed the doggie companionship, whilst Salve probably now enjoys some quiet time.

    Yay for rain! That’s so clever with the marshmallows. Your piggies would have lived a charmed life, and soon your freezers will be replete with pork. Had a pulled pork roll today for a late lunch, I wanted to get out and spend some money at the local general store after their recent travails. It’s take away only now, and spare a thought for the folks doing the front of house as they might not have a break for another eight or nine days due to sudden staff shortages. Far out.

    Truthfully, cash transactions are becoming few and far between down here. Before all of the current health subject which dares not be named, people used to offer discount for cash, but not any more. I just try to fit in and fly below the radar.

    Good stuff with the book, and I’ll be interested to hear your thoughts on the book as I have not read that particular book. People get very caught up in such pruning matters, but we’re a bit loose on such matters, and with the raspberries we simply hedge trimmed them to about two feet off the ground even in their first year, and also removed dead canes. Plus, each year they get super fed (not agricultural super fertiliser, but the odd mix of compost plus additives I use), and I just chuck the stuff into the beds and the plants grow happily. Blackberries were more or less the same except that we trimmed to about three feet off the ground, but same same otherwise. I’m no expert, but we get good crops most years.

    This year with the strawberries in a nod to Claire, I hit them hard with the line trimmer and removed a vast swath of runners. I have no idea how that will work out.

    I forget stuff all the time now. You should try living down here near to the most locked down city on the planet. Nobody is bringing their A-game to the table! 🙂



  47. Hi Al,

    Yeah fingers crossed there for ya, mate! How is your fine lady recovering? I do hope that she has not been neglectful of physical rehabilitation? As someone who now has a daily stretch routine due to the dratted shoulder injury, I kind of feel like proselytising! 🙂 Nah, just kidding around, I do hope that her recovery is speeding along nicely.

    You’ll probably all be fine, maybe. Spare a thought for us down here because if your ladies friend had visited many businesses here during her sick phase, those poor businesses would now be thrown into chaos – as would your life. Ook! You and your lady might be sealed in your house for the next fortnight. No going out anywhere… Regardless of vaccination status or test results.

    When Simon and I are grousing about the health subject which dares not be named, we’re not actually talking about the health subject, we’re talking about the extraordinary loss of our former lives and the dark implications for anyone caught up in the odd web of craziness down here. Had I gone to the general store a few hours earlier, my life would be quite different now. The game whack a mole is probably the best analogy, and nobody wants to be the mole that cops a padded whack on the head.



  48. Hi Inge,

    I can’t really say for sure, but I don’t believe that the water went too deep. As a bit of background reading on the wheel, the monster (which was the biggest in use on the continent) had 72 buckets each of which could hold 5 gallons of water. People with a finer grasp of physics and mathematics than I, could probably calculate the horsepower obtained at the axle of the wheel.

    But basically the lower masonry works were full of water the first time we visited, and were still full of water two days ago. The murky brown colour is actually due to suspended clay particles which are being agitated by the weather. Interestingly, the previous weeks photos all contained water, and when they were not cloudy brown like at the water wheel, the water was a dark colour due to the tannins from nearby eucalyptus forests. The old timers used to plant vast swaths of pine trees around their reservoirs to avoid the discolouration from the tannins. It’s not like the water tastes differently, but people have expectations in that regard.

    Oh Ren. Foolish and impulsive Ren. Tolerance my doggie friend can only extend just so far, and not beyond. Be careful there, Ren. Some dog trainers suggest putting some dogs on the chain, but I have fortunately so far avoided the need for such responses. Plum caught a rabbit today, and I’m very pleased with her hard work.



  49. Hi Ann,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Thanks for the heads up on the shaky, shaky earth business. It is worth noting that the quake occurred about a hundred miles or so north of one of the more recent volcanoes on this continent (they’re all over the place down here, but erupt only very rarely) at Mount Gambier.

    Victorian and South Australian border towns of Murrayville and Pinnaroo struck by magnitude-4.8 earthquake. Pinaroo it should be noted sounds a lot like a game of pin the tale on the kangaroo (or more formally: pin the tail on the donkey). 🙂

    Respect to the farm gals!



  50. Hi Xabier,

    It is worth noting an event of great import! Plum nabbed a rabbit today. Ruby the boss dog is now eagerly bouncing around this evening for her chance to shine in the glory of scoring a few solid rabbit runs on the board. Yet Plum with her perfect ears and long legs, but slightly too wide set eyes, got there first. What was that Ruby? What? Oh, Ruby chimed to remind Sir Sancho that Plum suffers from anxiety and that this is an unappealing trait in a sheepdog lover. I’ll just have to take Ruby’s word for this.

    Whilst I was typing away upon Plum’s excellence earlier today, Ruby read of Sir Sancho’s misconduct on the train, and has decided to remind the randy spaniel that a true love is forever. However, just in case this message is lost or somehow misinterpreted, Ruby thought that she should mention that Sir Sancho’s recent love interest might be in far deeper and more dangerous waters than the little bitch knows.

    At times like these, a sensitive soul such as Ruby leans upon the words of the great poets in order to soothe her savage, sorry what did you say Ruby, err, the correction was lost and forlorn, heart. But when the great poets can’t quite hit the right note, there is always the lyrics from: Soko – I’ll kill her.

    Sir Sancho, you were warned, a Kelpie’s love is for a lifetime, not just for some flirty activity on public transport.

    Yours as always,

    Ruby sheep dog extraordinaire, and boss dog of the Fluffy Collective

  51. Hi Pam,

    Thank you very much, and that is high praise indeed.

    It was a lovely day here today, and we cleaned up a section of forest which borders upon the neighbours property. They sold that property recently, and I’m curious to see whether the new owners of the property will construct a house upon it. Anyway, neat is a way of life here and messes are a challenge to the senses!

    I assume your growing season is coming to a close now? Did you get the warmer weather recently that other parts of your country were experiencing?



  52. Hi DJ,

    Hey, sometimes as a tension breaker, I’ll just say to other people that the patterns aren’t right. It’s a pretty effective thing to say, especially when the patterns aren’t right, but the funny thing is, nobody really knows whether I’m joking around or not. That just adds the to fun for me. The editor groans whenever I say it, but the patterns might not be right!!! So much fun. I’m not even sure where the one liner came from, but possibly it came from the Top Gun film? Anyway, I’m pretty sure the first time I wrote it to Lewis I’ll bet he spit tea all over the computer keyboard. 🙂 I’ve probably over used the line now. Oh well, have to dig deep for some other witty one liner.

    Exactly. Mate, I don’t mess around with sleep as it can seriously impact upon your mental health. One of the reasons I left working in the big end of town was that my brain was too over stimulated all of the time, and that impacted upon my sleep, and I’m just not wired for that sort of situation. Mind you, those sorts of roles are very hard to fill, and people have to give themselves over to the role, and that lacked all appeal for me.

    Yup, those chips will fall where they will. And there really isn’t a whole bunch that we can do about the bigger picture matters.

    Brr! I’m starting to feel cold just hearing about your weather. Frosts, not much marks the end of a season like those cold things. I forget, what is your main heat source for the house?

    Was your thinking ahead happy chance, or a well planned outcome with the concrete works? Despite the frost, if the daytime temperature rises high enough, you could make up your own mixture of cement. But the job is now done. Yay! Are you happy with how it turned out?

    Fair enough with the dog adoption people, they’re kind of all like that now, and it was a rude awakening for me to the new processes when we picked up Ollie a few years back. Long ago, there just wasn’t that sort of rigmarole and maybe I was left hankering for the older and simpler days? You probably heard me whining about it at the time! 🙂 The two Kelpie girls (Plum and Ruby) were more along the lines of the old school arrangement, which was for us just a chance encounter and opportunity. The fees sound reasonable too for your mob.

    Yeah, I wouldn’t worry too much about such training things either. Dogs are dogs, and they’re all different. Plus I kind of have an odd notion that in homogenising dog training, the chances to be surprised (in a good way) by the dogs is lessened. A good analogy for that is that many sports nowadays prefer their athletes to conform physically (tried and true path and all that stuff), and that sometimes rules out the outlier who may have advantages. I’ve been pleasantly surprised by some dogs over the many years.

    I’d certainly hope that they didn’t eat their classmates! Parents have been known to get rather upset by such circumstances, and then come the recriminations. 🙂 It’s a pretty amusing premise for a book.



  53. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that is a pretty funny subtitle. Alas, the editor has been as busy as I have been the past couple of days and has not yet read the article. I ran around early today in the house with the vacuum cleaner and sucked up an inordinate amount of dog hair, so you’re giving me ideas here.

    Hehe! Not many people generally go out of their way to get a long haired dog that sheds a lot! There is almost an amusing personals ad in there somewhere: Canine wanted for fun times. Must have long hair and sheds a lot. References preferred. 🙂

    Actually long haired dogs with thick coats (or double coats) do it super tough down here over the summer months. Old Sir Poopy kind of hibernated the summer months away, even after being clipped. Of course, he was a bit lazy, except when he wasn’t being lazy, but then he went back to being lazy. His lifestyle choices did not pay dividends. The funny thing is though, once Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy passed on, that’s when the rabbits turned up. It is possible that those two dogs were eating rabbit. I used to wonder how Sir Scruffy became so fat (but he could seriously run hard downhill when he needed too) and I’d monitor his food carefully. Turns out he was eating a lot of fresh rabbit.

    Anyway, Plum nabbed a rabbit today. Yay for Plum! I hadn’t realised this had happened, and we called her back inside. She returned dutifully, yet reluctantly. Ollie then went outside, grabbed the rabbit and was sitting in the orchard happily munching upon it. He’s now farting, a lot. The editor walked into the room a few minutes ago and recoiled from the stench. Ollie is clearly working hard to ensure that I get plenty of quiet time. 🙂

    You told me not to build that stone tower. 🙂 Something, something about it not being necessary, and then if I recall correctly, you may have mysteriously added in a final word which may have been the word: ‘yet’. Yelling from one room to the another, I notified the editor that there is a season two for My Life is Murder, and whilst she didn’t venture into this room (for some unknown reason relating to Ollie), she made approving noises and thanks you for the recommendation.

    Actually the ruins we encountered had been through some rough times. I noticed an interesting construction technique which I would not previously have considered. With one of the stone walls, I noticed that the stones appeared to be mortared with what looked to me like mud and straw. Given parts of those walls held up for more than a century, it kind of works. The stone houses would have been cold in the winter months. Also the blacksmith house had a couple of posts out the front (missing the rail) and I’m guessing people used to hitch their horses to the rails whilst the smith went about the work required of him.

    And the buildings were rather compact in size, unlike the ones in town which were standard Victorian era buildings. But yeah, I hear you about madness, and the grandness of designs.

    Ooo, not good at all, and I can’t imagine that you could put the chunks of brain back after they’ve been trod upon.

    I agree about your mortality observation. Years ago we may have discussed how the Victorian era folks were obsessed about death, well I kind of reckon we’ve returned to those obsessions, and I find that to be sort of disturbing, but aren’t really sure why. It seems to me that the news is full of articles promising death something, something power and control. And there are times where I imagine that the journo’s are mourning the decline and fall of our civilisation, but I don’t really know. Maybe the health subject which dares not be named, is the only form of death they’re permitted to talk about? Anyway, after what is it now, nineteen months, and the most severe lock down on the planet, all that ceaseless talk is even wearing me down. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Do you reckon societies or civilisations can eventually come to terms with their demise,or imminent demise?

    Your blueberry bushes are prolific. I’ll bet they’re tasty in breakfast (or whenever) on an otherwise cold winters morning?

    Are you certain that life is complete? Do you hold the correct number of toilet paper rolls? 🙂 Oh, that is good news, and yes, your life is replete. Beware the forgotten stuff at the very bottom of the chest freezer though, and pray that it does not bite. How many gallons of blueberries did you end up with?

    Did a bit of forest clean up today. It was a massive job, but is now done. The old timer loggers left a lot of rubbish in their wake, and it is no small task restoring order to the chaos. Speaking of which, only another month to Dexter…



  54. Yo, Chris – All this talk of rotating shifts … Years ago, I had a good friend, down in Portland. He worked for a large paper making outfit. They had rotating shifts. So, he worked them, for years. While raising two teen aged sons, and, being saddled with a tavern in Portland’s ghetto. Which he could never quit unload. He’s gone now. I still miss him.

    You say the patterns aren’t right. I say, “It disturbs my sense of Wa.” Which is a Japanese concept meaning, sort of, harmony. If I were politically incorrect, I’d say, then I try and look inscrutable. 🙂 .

    According to the article, the dogs raised for hair have gone extinct. I’m surprised. Looking at the painting, those were cute dogs! Of course, back then, dogs, the different breeds, were raised more for specific jobs. Dog hair probably wasn’t high on the list.

    Go, Plum! Lady Rabbit Bane?

    London has “The Eye,” and Melbourne had “The Star.” Ferris wheels, that is. I see “The Star” has been closed down. Permanently. After only thirteen years. Reasons given were You Know What … and, lots of high rises being built in the Docklands, which blocked the view.

    Speaking of Melbourne, I started watching “Ms. Fisher’s Modern Murder Mysteries.” Season 2. You may remember the Miss Fisher mysteries took place in 1920s Melbourne. Ms. Fisher, is Miss Fisher’s great niece, and this series takes place in the swinging 1960s. Lots of white go-go boots. 🙂 . Must be tough to film something period specific, like that, and not let anything built after 1970, get in the picture.

    Mud (or clay) and straw. A technique of building that goes WAY back. Hitching rails or posts. You see them in every TV western.

    I see the Victorian’s as more accepting of death, than obsessed. Sure, they had all these social rules, for mourning. There is a series, called “Dead Still.” It’s mysteries, but the premiss is pretty interesting, Ireland in the 1880s. The lead character is a photographer, who is renowned all over Ireland as taking the best pictures of the departed. Don’t know if there will be a second season. Hasn’t been cancelled … or, renewed.

    Do societies and civilizations come to terms with their demise? I don’t think they know it’s going on, when they’re in the middle of it.

    No worries. Still have 45 rolls of the paper stuff 🙂 . The grocery store was out of pumpkin spice bagels. Which are quit good. Well, it’s a regional bakery, and they have an outlet store, here. So, I headed up, yesterday. They had the pumpkin spice bagels, and also oatmeal p/s cookies and donuts. Not worth repeating. This weekend, I’m doing a serious clean out and reorganization of the pantry, fridge and freezer. I’ll do a blueberry count, then. I also stopped by the veg store, and picked up the local yogurt. Bring back the jar, and save two bucks. While there, I ran into the woman I used to buy eggs from. She’s back, and I’ll be getting a dozen good eggs, every Sunday. More than I can use in a week, so Elinor and I are going to rotate.

    Before your time, but when I was a lad (and dinosaurs ruled the earth), there was this concept. You may have heard of it, and thought it myth. But it did exist. It was called … Quality Control. As day follows night, when it disappeared, then came the Crapification of everything. You may wonder why this came to mind. Well …

    I got a two disc set, of a new English mystery. Being obsessive about being low on the hold lists, I was the first user. Disc one, would not load, or play. The one time it did, it froze, about three minutes in. I cleaned my machine … I scrubbed the disc with alcohol (twice). No dice. Disc two was fine. So disc one is defective. No quality control. Seems to be happening with greater frequency. Lew

  55. Hi Lewis,

    A guy I know works in the pre-prepared home meal industry in the purchasing area, and that business supplies their product to a large chain of supermarkets. Actually on a side matter, the product looked alright to me, but the supply lines just for that one product were bonkers. Anyway, he was talking about such supply related issues many months ago. I sort of suspect that this issue has been known about for quite a while, but the repercussions are now only being felt (or more likely forewarned about). If I had to hazard a wild guess, the inventories of stuff have been whittled down. Like take plastic moulding, down here we have maybe two months supply of the, I believe they’re called noodles (the raw product), and plenty of manufacturers down here can do amazing moulding techniques, but we have absolutely no producers for the raw materials. That’s kind of how it works nowadays, and the mass interconnectedness of stuff is being slowly unwound.

    One of the good things about your country and mine, is that at least the raw materials for food are not as great an issue as in other parts of the world. Transport from the farm producers to the cities could be prioritised if needed, but it’s probably not a sustainable proposition.

    Oh my gawd! No disrespect intended, but your friend of the rotating shifts’ workload sounds a lot like my worst nightmare. Sorry to hear of his passing on.

    Well that’s the thing with drinking holes, and other small businesses. You can’t make money on marginal businesses if you expect someone else to manage those businesses. Way back in the day, I believe that this situation was possible, but nowadays that old dream looks like a hangover from more recent lavish times. The thing is though, a lot people haven’t shaken that particular dream from their minds, and that can lead to trouble.

    Thank you for introducing me to the Japanese concept of Wa. Yes, I can see how this concept would bring stability. However, and here I out my western mindset, how does the social concept resolve itself if confronted by a collective madness of the group, or the pressure of a sudden external influence?

    And fortunately, we are far from politically correct here! 🙂

    Yeah, from the painting, I thought the dogs had the look of a miniature poodle. Hey, dogs are raised for specific jobs nowadays. The terriers I’ve known are extraordinary in their abilities to hunt small game, like rats (read they have obsessive personalities). Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund could easily herd off a dozen deer (Sambar deer too) off the property, whilst he had a knack for hunting foxes and rabbits. Ollie apparently was bred to bring down and subdue wild pigs (a frightening encounter). And Plum and Ruby were bred to herd sheep. I suspect people just don’t consider putting dogs to work? From what I’ve seen, the dogs want to work and be useful. I’ve seen kids express that too, and heck I wanted to work when I was a young bloke.

    Hmm. Last time I asked the question about Plum’s impending title, we came to the general conclusion that it was yet too early to tell. Are you indicating a motion for her elevation in rank?

    Of course, the Star. I read somewhere that when that big wheel was originally designed and built, allegedly the tolerances were for I believe, a maximum temperature of 104’F. As you know, things can get hotter than that down here (as in your part of the world), and the machine was put through a period of redesign and modification to cope with reality.

    Hehe! White go-go boots. Yes, I saw many of those items in the Mary Quant exhibition, which was surprisingly quite enjoyable. Not ideal in muddy conditions those boots.

    That was probably where the hitching rail idea which popped into my head originated from. I’ll bet there were even some of those in the series, Kung Fu?

    I passed the series recommendation for Dead Still onto the editor. You’re getting a good feel for the editor’s taste in narratives!

    Yeah, you’re probably right there. Given the awful energy crunch going on all around us, you’d think that people would be more concerned than they are, but no. So I guess you’re right. I just wish the folks so excited about utilising natural gas as an energy source were a bit more honest with themselves about actual reserves.

    It’s nice to have one less thing to worry about, and 45 rolls says that you are in the safe zone. I’m something of a thrill seeker and probably have less than two handfulls of rolls. Should I be worried? 🙂

    I had to look up exactly what an oatmeal p/s cookie actually was. It sounds intriguing and possibly very tasty if not sourced from a major chain.

    Your yoghurt deal sounds ideal, although here I feel it necessary to add that the stuff is quite easy to make if one has access to good quality milk. A few years ago I knew someone who sold raw milk as bath milk… People do what they gotta do. 🙂 Yoghurt is a difficult topic in this household as I did a coup one day many years and took over that job from the editor. There were a few failed batches, actually more than a few, and I decided to forget about the current process and re-learn the art from scratch. Sandor Katz was a good guiding hand in this regard.

    Haha! Oh you’re funny. 🙂 About a week after I completed my final high school exams, my mother organised a job for me on a manufacturing line making computer disks. So I worked there for a few months, as I’m guessing she pulled some strings so that I wasn’t hanging around the house during the day and otherwise enjoying myself. And, I noted at the time that the products went through a quality control team before being packed and taken off the line and sent to the warehouse (that was my job). I did a lot of running around most days between the line and the warehouse, and kind of enjoyed the work. I’m of the opinion that a lot of items are produced now with the idea: Let’s just assume that the product was made correctly and within tolerances…

    Sorry to hear about your DVD disaster. That hurts. Between you and I, I kind of feel that streaming services may overtake your love of physical product before too much longer. Probably not a bad idea to upgrade your computer given this is the case. Did you manage to speak with the local computer dudes?



  56. Yo, Chris – It’s lucky we live in big countries. Supplies of this and that may be found in out of the way places. Or, not. If you look at the ingredients lists on pre-packaged or frozen this or that … well, the lists are long. It’s funny. When I look at a recipe, if there are too many ingredients, or, they’re rather exotic, I’m more likely to skip making something. Yup. I’m pretty sure the raw end of plastics are called noodles.

    Some of the many people who bought the cafe next door to my place on Tower Avenue, that I eventually worked in, had that funny idea that they’d just sit back and “manage.” No wonder the place went through 7 owners in 15 years. New owners always made me nervous, as we shared a building. Funny, too, they never stopped in to talk to me, before taking the plunge. I’d go next door and introduce myself, and somewhere in the conversation, just off handedly ask if they had ever bumped up agains the restaurant business, before. Usually, not. Doomed, doomed.

    Re: Wa. How does the concept resolve itself … see: WWII. 🙂 .

    Well, yes, dogs are still raised for specific jobs. But, like most off road vehicles, many of them never leave the pavement 🙂 .

    How many rabbits would Plum have to get, before getting an elevated title? A goal should be set. Give her something to aspire to. Three?

    I read a bit that The Star had been taken apart, tinkered with, and put back together. Never ends well when you low ball the tolerances.

    The Editor’s tastes may be a bit like mine. Quirky with a touch of the macabre. 🙂 . It’s not calculated. More like throwing spaghetti against the wall.

    Should you be worried about supply? Only you can decide what to focus on and fret about. 🙂 . Not quit on the same topic, but I’ve been ruminating lately on how much tougher … more resilient than the people around me, I am. I’ve never thought of myself, that way.

    I’m sorry I got all cryptic with the p/s cookies (biscuits). I just got tired of typing “pumpkin spice.”

    Interesting you mentioned Mr. Katz. He’s got a new book out. It was on the library “new” list. I put it on hold. The library catalog has been losing it’s ability to tell me how many holds are on an item, or where I stand on the list. I need to make noise, about that.

    I haven’t talked to the Computer Dudes, yet. Other things came up, and I’ve worked out a few tolerable work arounds. For present. Lew

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