Waste A Day

Few things scream the word ‘decline’, more than an inability to obtain basic items, whilst also paying record high prices for fuel. The other day I paid $1.839 per litre (3.8 litres to the gallon) for fuel when filling up the petrol tank in the little red Dirt Mouse Suzuki. That was something of a price record for me. Fortunately the little red vehicle requires very little fuel in order to operate in the first place, but even so, the costs quickly add up.

After noticing the record high fuel price, I’d decided to obtain a photo of the price board, purely for research purposes for this blog. At that very moment though, disaster almost struck. Fortunately disaster was narrowly avoided by the quick thinking actions of the editor who alerted me to an impending doom. Being a bloke, it’s probably better if I focused on one activity at a time, if only for considerations of personal safety and also for the safety of the people around me. Unfortunately, in this particular case I was exclaiming to the editor about the high price of fuel, suggesting that I nab a photograph, and almost reversed the little red vehicle into a stand of firewood which was for sale at the petrol station (gas station in US parlance). Yeah, not my finest moment.

Fuel prices are on the up

However, disaster was narrowly avoided, and I scored the photograph. Winning! And apparently, world oil prices actually fell about 10% in the past day or so due to some new news in relation to the health issue which dare not be named. No doubts about it, with such crazy goings on, we’ll all be thrown into lock down again sooner or later. That possibility also screams the word ‘decline’ at me.

Energy is such a fascinating topic, and I’ve been pondering the subject deeply of late. A recurring theme with visitors to the farm is that both the editor and I: ‘work hard’. I’ve never been entirely sure what people mean when they make this observation, but all the same, the comment is heard often enough that it must mean something. At this stage, my best guess is that people are suggesting that the editor and I undertake a lot of hard physical work around the farm. That seems the most likely explanation, although there are also several other possible interpretations.

Other than the editor, nobody else might have noticed that Plum and I were reclined upon the couch a few hours ago with the late spring afternoon sunshine streaming in through the window, as we and had a short and well deserved nap. I guess that like the editor and I, the two Kelpie girls are also very high energy creatures, but when some time-out becomes necessary, opportunities to recharge the energy levels are taken.

Ruby and Plum recharge their energy levels in the late spring warm afternoon sunshine

The two Kelpie girls are high energy dogs, and so they’re a good match for the high energy levels of the editor and I. It’s probably an important thing to match energy levels with the people and environment around you. Anyway, it brings to mind an incident from at least two decades ago.

The incident was the last time in which I ever applied for employment with the government, and I mean any level of government. So there I was all those years ago in an interview for a government agency which managed a renowned and prestigious institution. The people interviewing me were discussing the various initiatives that they were hoping that I would achieve as an employee. As is my wont, I let them talk whilst making mental notes as to their various requirements. They soon talked themselves out, and being a good listener, I then began to address the various points which they’d raised.

My employment sales pitch went something along the lines of: Yes, what you want is certainly possible, and here is an example of how I implemented such systems and changes in the past – and by inference, here is what I can do for you and the renowned institution. And it was during the interview when the realisation slowly dawned upon me, that I was scaring the daylights out of the very same people conducting the interview.

Admittedly, it is very hard to know the inner workings of another person, or even their motivations. But I had a vague hunch during that interview that the people didn’t actually want change, but instead they wanted to talk about change. And here was me, scaring the absolute daylights out of them, by simply suggesting that we could actually initiate changes, and here is how I’ve done this in the past, and here is how we could go about doing just that here. It became quickly obvious to me that our energy levels were just not matched up at all.

Needless to say that despite exceeding the criteria, I wasn’t invited to work at the renowned institution, and so I ended up having to go back again and work with the big end of town again, in senior roles. They weren’t my people either. The long and exhausting meetings, convoluted politics and bizarre argy-bargy just used to wear me out.

I did however eventually find my own people in small business. That however required me to take a step back and away from the perquisites of being an employee, and join in the fray at the small end of town. It was a worthwhile choice, because they’re mostly all high energy folks, and so they just do what needs doing. Most meetings I have these days are brief and perfunctory. Meetings run along these lines: How has your week been?; What is the issue; What can be done about the issue; Who can do anything about the issue; and then: Let’s go do this mother! Yeah!

The alternative and much more dominant and prevailing culture requires just so much more time and energy, that I really do wonder about the efficacy. And in a world of decline, can such sluggish cultures react quickly enough to rapidly changing events and new information. My gut feeling suggests that they won’t – and that is what an ‘interesting future’ looks like to me (in terms of the ancient Chinese apocryphal curse). But the thing is, neither do I want to waste a day, whilst they muck around and dither and dather.

This spring has been cold and wet. Earlier in the week, a large tropical storm dumped a small quantity of rain over the farm.

A tropical storm dumped a small quantity of rain over the farm

For two days this week, the tropical storm brought low level clouds, drizzle and bonkers high levels of humidity. True believers from the school of: ‘Solar Photovoltaic Technology will save industrial civilisation’, might want to seriously ponder the realities of the next photo:

Two days this week thick low clouds and high humidity hung over the farm

The thick low clouds were spread extensively across the entire state. Thursday produced a measly forty minutes of peak sunlight for the entire day. Friday was marginally better at an hour and a half of peak sunlight. All I can say is that such dismal output at this time of year, only one week out from the official start to summer down under in this corner of the continent, is candidly not anywhere near enough to run an industrial civilisation. Sorry.

However, despite the cold and wet spring so far, the many elderberry shrubs on the farm have begun producing their unusual and distinctive smelling flowers. Fortunately, the unusual smelling flowers produce the most delicious wine, and a batch of that stuff was made this week. It should be noted that the kitchen must be aired out after the production of that wine. The smell of the stuff cooking is memorable, but the taste of the resulting product is very good. It’s all something of a mystery.

A batch of elderflower wine was produced this week

On Sunday, the sun finally shone over the farm, despite the air temperature being cool. The garden terraces were again weeded, the irrigation system was established, and the tomato seedlings were all planted out.

Dozens of tomato seedlings were planted out on Sunday

There are still a few varieties of vegetable seedlings yet to plant out, but the soil is just not warm enough yet for them to survive out of the greenhouse. This coming week looks much warmer than any time since last summer, so hopefully things will get easier.

The door nearest to the kitchen leads to a number of raised garden beds. All manner of greens are grown in these raised beds, and we’re sort of still in between the varieties of winter greens and the summer greens. And of course there are three permanent raised beds dedicated to asparagus plants. We have to allow some of the greens to produce seed so that they can be re-sown in mid autumn, so planting is a staggered activity.

The raised garden beds adjacent to the house produce a huge quantity of fresh greens for the kitchen

Somehow despite the cold and wet weather of the past few weeks, the path in the centre of the raspberry enclosure has, err, disappeared. It will probably be a very good raspberry season.

Where is the path through the raspberry enclosure?

The weather still hasn’t been warm enough for any strawberries to ripen, and frankly compared to previous years, this is very late. However, the strawberries have grown well and there are heaps of unripe berries in the enclosure (and one large Bull Arab in full flower).

It looks like it may be a late, but very fruitful strawberry harvest

The chickens are enjoying the weather and the copious quantities of fresh greens, and are producing up to about eight eggs per day. In such wet and cold years, a covered over chicken run keeps the chickens healthy and the deep litter in the run smelling fairly neutral. If the deep litter smells of ammonia, then that is the soil fertility from the chickens manure disappearing into the atmosphere.

The chickens enjoy the sunlight in their sheltered chicken run

Most of the stone fruit harvest will likely be very limited due to a late frost combined with a heavy hailstorm which damaged the blossoms. However, apple and pear trees naturally flower later than stone fruits, and so there are heaps of these fruits growing in profusion on the trees in the orchards.

Nashi Pears developing on this tree
It should be a good season for apples

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtiums and Comfrey compete for growing space near to a Wormwood. Note the butterfly
Geraniums grow so well here that they must be in their preferred habitat
Sage is a very handy medicinal herb, but is also just a lovely looking plant
Each week produces more Rose flowers
This old school Rose is a real stunner

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 20’C (68’F). So far this year there has been 1,165.2mm (45.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,155.8mm (45.5 inches)

52 thoughts on “Waste A Day”

  1. Yo, Chris – Your excitement about the cost of gas would have had more impact, if you’d done the maths and figured out how much that is in US gallons. All I see is $1.81, which is less than half of what I paid, last to the pumps. After all, I’ve worn out dozens of pencils, to nubs, figuring out the conversion of F to C. 🙂

    My, that price must have got you all excited, given you almost bashed into a large quantity of fire wood. Not good for the blood pressure. I do a lot of yelling, when riding with my buddy Scott, not being a passenger very often. As he talks and talks and talks and wanders across the center line, into oncoming traffic. I don’t know about my blood pressure, but it sure clears my sinuses out.

    Ruby and Plum are practicing their photosynthesis. Probably, through their noses. You’ll know when they’ve attained the knack, when their eye’s show a slight shade of green. Chlorophyll nirvana has been achieved. They probably take in vitamin D, via the same route.

    I’m sure you know, that when you want a job, you just use the same vocabulary … language, used in the job announcement and interview. That old school trick of parroting back, whatever the teacher wants. You can always spot a beauracrate (well, that’s interesting. Spell check doesn’t recognize that spelling…) by the language they use. One of our Club board members can usually jam “the narrative” into a sentence, two or three times. My eyes ache from rolling.

    So, usually wanting a job, I just assumed the protective coloration of whatever the babble was on offer. Little did they know … As far as being productive, there were some branches I worked in, where I was told in an offhand way (and sometimes not so off hand) not to be so … competent. Made them look bad. Most branches were staffed by people who valued, and did themselves, turn in a good day’s work. Those places were a joy to work in. No foot dragging.

    Nope. Beauracrates don’t like change, unless you smuggle something past them, that works, that they can claim credit. They also probably intuited that you wouldn’t let that happen. You probably reeked of credit where credit is due.

    I’m glad you finally found your tribe. Makes life a lot more pleasant and rewarding.

    Your tropical storm picture, pretty much looks like our skies, as they are, most of the time. You can see where weeks of that (months?) might get a person a bit down in the mouth. If your not a native and just roll with it. Lovely photo.

    May the tomato seedlings, soon become a productive tomato jungle. Are you sure there’s an enclosure, among the raspberries? Someone might have made off with it, and you’d never know! 🙂

    Ollie is a special blossom. I wonder if he’s ever a bit lonely? The Girls have each other, as do you and the Editor. But Ollie is a singular entity, at Fern Glade Farm.

    The chickens have a room with a view! How many do you have, now?

    Are you sure that’s a butterfly? Looks a bit like the dreaded cabbage moth, to me. You’ll know it’s them if you try and give them a good spray with the hose, and they flit between the drops. Maddening creatures.

    The rose photos are lovely, and that last one with the perfect bud is a photo of perfection. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Just checked to see whether the good Professor had updated his blog on your repetitive atmospheric river injury, but no. Despite the lack of news on the academic side of that story, it seems that nature will have her way with your part of the world. I noticed that someone over at Mr Greer’s reported that there was flooding from a number of rivers in Washington state. Yikes!

    We had something of a mystery here tonight. A heron landed in one of the tall trees on the edge of the farm. You know it’s a wet year when herons turn up! Anyway, the bird let out prodigious squawks of a previously unheard nature and that set the Kelpie’s barking in response. What is this interloper? Anyway, I spotted the massive bird majestically flying away from the large trees and then understood the source of the noise. But in a bizarre twist of fate, I reckon I spotted an old twin prop engine DC-3 doing lazy circles over the Barringo valley just below the farm earlier today. I’m impressed that anyone has kept such an old and venerable beast maintained. And the pilot looked like they were having a lot of fun pulling circles.

    Hey, occasionally the local online rainfall gauge misses an inch of rain here and there. From what I understand the remote monitoring stations are connected up over the interweb, and a lot of things need to be resilient in order for that data recording to continue. That ain’t always so.

    The climate here is not dissimilar from your part of the world, and so cherry tomatoes just grow better. The thing is that I’ve been selecting for hardy mid-sized, but cherry based tomatoes, for many years, and so I don’t really know what the red variety even is these days. The yellow cherry variety is clearly Bob’s Crazy yellow cherries which I picked up at the local gardening club, and I’m trialling some Black Russian varieties this year.

    Ouch. I wrote about the tragedy of liars a month or so back, and it doesn’t matter how much the institution may wheedle or prevaricate, because if it can be proven they’ve spoken a falsity, then there may be a long term problem.

    🙂 Things are slightly warmer here over winter, and so the elderberry seeds germinate in spring, and hardwood cuttings readily take. They still go full deciduous though. The local birds happily spread the seeds, and that is no bad thing as it provides them an easy feed in the future.

    Ah, thanks for the additional information as the gargle search now produces solid results for Robert Gilbert artist, Death on a horse. The work evokes emotions. Do you believe that the artist was producing a work of one of the famous four horsemen? Or a play on a Calaca from Mexico?

    Yeah, it can be quite surprising what educational achievements are held by folks in the music industry. Dexter Holland lead singer of the legendary and very successful punk band ‘The Offspring’ apparently holds PhD in molecular biology. He also graduated High School as class valedictorian too. Some people are notable high achievers.

    Nope, I dodged the discussion of cleaning. It is perhaps something of a necessary evil – as you may agree? It probably didn’t need airing, and would most likely be a dull topic. But you know, spring cleans are necessary.

    Lewis, my grasp of mathematics precludes providing the answer. Of course, I could be dissembling there, and just not want to fess up to being able to perform the necessary conversion calculation. And I’ve done ‘F to ‘C conversions back and forth for so many years that I recall the formula on my death bed after years of dementia. No doubt they’ll wheel me out as some sort of human calculator with just one trick.

    I’m not suggesting that Scott is a hazard on the road, but it kind of sounds that way based on your account. Anyway, how do you observe he’s over the line if you’re yelling? So many questions, so few answers!

    Who knows about the sunlight energy and the canine species, although you might be right. I’ve noticed that dogs have a certain tendency to want to cook their brains in the hot summer sun, and this cooking of brains thing may be a good defence against zombies, but it also might provide them with extra relaxation energy. Nobody has proven or suggested that it is otherwise.

    Oh really, well not all meetings are exciting, even when it involves Clubs and people you’ve know for years. Mind you, given you probably have known them for years, you might just well be onto their business. But really ‘the narrative’ three times? It seems a bit over the top.

    Mate, I’ve been in some work places where politics supersedes the primary goal which is to sell stuff and make some profit. Only very profitable businesses can support such monkey business, and they’re no fun to work at. However, all things are on the inverted bell shaped curve, but in the biz world they call that the ‘product life cycle’.

    There was probably a bit of that going on, and the other unstated thing was what you previously wrote: they didn’t want to look bad by way of comparison. Such points of view are all about them, and the people worried about that face a certain lack in their personalities.

    That sunlight deficiency syndrome thing really does seem to get to plenty of people, even down here in this corner of the planet where the winters are basically pretty mild. I tend to believe that the health subject which dare not be named is also influenced by the seasonal lack of sunlight, which suggests basic health responses such as what they did during 1919 with the Spanish flu.

    The tomatoes have grown today, which is good as I was a bit worried about transplant shock. Who knows what is going on in the raspberry enclosure, and for all I know, you’re right and the fencing has disappeared along with the path.

    Nope, Ollie is fine. Plum hangs out with Ollie for a lot of the day, and those two are of a similar temperament. Plus Ollie follows me around whenever I’m working on the farm. He’s doing fine on that front.

    Fourteen chickens, although the number does vary a bit. If they’re going to drop off their perch, winter will be the time that takes place, but they can do that trick any time of the year, really. Down the track I might consider breeding chickens, but today there is more work than I can feasibly do, and many projects have to be done.

    Thanks for the correction. It is indeed a cabbage moth. I watched a ladybird the other day consuming aphids on a green mustard.

    Thanks for saying that, and I have passed on your words of appreciation to the editor who took that photograph of the rose.



  3. Hello Chris
    Great photos as usual.
    Job interviews haha. I used to enjoy fitting into them. The one bad one was when I was interviewed by a row of 5. Whatever I replied, always annoyed at least one of them.
    Omicron has a great anagram i.e. Moronic
    Very very cold today.


  4. Hello Chris,

    What is your recipe for the elderflower wine? Would you be comfortable to share how to make your tempting concoction?
    Until now I have only made syrup for drinking (flowers, lemons, sugar, water). Do you add lemons as well, or only sugar and yeast?

    Small business is not profitable enough (no monopoly power) to do that kind of junk-talk. Inside the multinational corporations where I worked, I found this mentality on the factory shop floor as well. Since everything is concrete and measurable, everyone can see what the output is and the quality. The further away from this reality, the less concrete is work and the more bs and politics fills discussions and meetings. Imagine a global R&D strategy policy department, and shudder.

    I see the same thing in government. The local people on the ground who actually work are often great, but the office and the departments, well that is another story.

    During the last year, I have had more and more contact with people in the department of agriculture, and it seems to be well-paid jobs. The main tool they work with is handouts for this or that. A money-spigot that opens and closes on their call. And lots of people hustling to take what they can of the servings. Internal fights for pet projects to spend money on. Lots of discussions. Not my idea of fun. Some people love it.

    I think the best writer on the topic of BS-jobs is David Graeber, with his classification of roles and the concept of “managerial feudalism”. From a long descent point of view, I think we have the choice of East Rome (reduce complexity and roles) or West Rome (keep everything running until it doesn’t). One lasted 1000 years, one 100 years. Until now, I observe nobody driving complexity reduction here.

    In our town, petrol peaked at 2.10 euro per liter (8.5 USD/gal) last week. I drive very little, so for me it is not a problem.
    Maybe the cost of energy will force a reduction of complexity?
    Let’s see where the squeeze comes next.

    Have a great week!


  5. Yo, Chris – Any flooding seems to be happening well to the north, of us. Knock on wood. Last night and this morning, it wasn’t raining. But looked like it was going to, any minute.

    Herons are so cool. Don’t know why, but I always feel “lucky” when I see one. We have them, but they’re mostly seen around water. But once, when I was fooling around up in the woods, I saw one silently flying between the trees. Now that was odd.

    The Institution doesn’t seem to care much if they lie or not. As there seems to be no consequences. So, why not?

    Oh, Death on a horse often makes solo appearances, without his three buddies. At least, in art and stories. I went back to the antique mall, yesterday, and bought a few more lithographs. It was interesting going through 25 or 30 of his unframed lithos. Apparently, quit by accident I picked up two of his “darker” lithos, which got me interested in the first place. Most of his work is not like that. Lots of nautical / boat works. Several “people” lithos that have a very 1930s WPA feel to them. Old duffers on a store porch, guys playing pool. What looks like a grandfather and grandson, wandering around a country cemetery. I left a short note for the dealer, wondering if the author was still alive. I want more information than that, but, dealers are often cagey about where they source there stuff from. In my wildest dreams there will be letters, diaries or journals. Even wilder, that the old guy might still be alive. I figure he’d be in his upper 80s or low 90s.

    That was the same dealer that I bought “The Boy’s King Arthur.” I took a closer look at it, last night. Oh, my. It’s adapted from the Sir Thomas Malory. More lifted direct than adapted from. The language is very thick and archaic. I doubt I’ll read it.

    Old planes are a lot of fun to watch. We have a veteran’s museum here … and, an airport. So every once in awhile, someone flies in an old crate from WWII. What I really like to see are the old biplanes. Not many of those around any more. The other night when I was at Elinor’s I caught a bit of a newish Australian series called RFD. Royal Flying Doctors. Library doesn’t have it, but it might not be on DVD, yet. It’s about doctors that fly into the bush. Don’t know if I’ll care for it. There seems to be a lot of soap opera hijinks, among the doctors. And some subplots involving their angsty teens. Of which I have no patience.

    Cleaning is all well and good, but I’ve just never accepted that you just can’t do it once and have it done with. A job well done, and then you just have to turn around and do it again. What a pain in the …. ear. 🙂

    “… that I recall the formula on my death bed, after years of dementia.” Funny! Very funny!

    First Scott strays across the traffic line, and then I start yelling.

    So, chickens usually die in the winter … except when they don’t. Got it. 🙂

    Lady Birds (here we call them Lady Bugs) are such cheery … and useful little insects. There were quit a few of them around, last year.

    H got her bath, yesterday. Elinor had dug up some who-knows-how-old doggie oatmeal soap, “for a change.” Oh, I know what’s going on, there. There’s been a lot in our news about soaps and deodorants having some kind of cancer causing ingredients. So some dodgy half heard news report and Elinor starts fretting about the soap. Whatever. Lew

  6. Chris,

    I remember a lot of trips out into the mountains/woods in which I enjoyed the wildlife and the sounds of the wind and the water and didn’t see another human for days. Very relaxing and recharging.

    “Fat less, slim tea”? How funny! Yes, as you surmised, some nicknames don’t translate well from Old Norse. There were some wonderful nicknames in the 1500s along the English/Scottish border, though, that need no translation. Some are Ill Will Armstrong, the Laird’s Jock, Noseless Clemmie, Jock of the Peartree, Fingerless Will, Ill-drowned Geordie. Some of those had some interesting stories, I’m sure.

    The Ponderosa Pine Technique was my favorite. It was a LOT of fun. Because I was so thin and the tree had huge trunks, I was “invisible” and could pull that trick multiple times on the same people.

    Those are hideous petrol prices! There would be events featuring pitchforks and feathers and hot tar if those prices were tried here.

    Nice photo of the relaxing Kelpies. Good to hear that at times you work hard reclining on the sofa! That is work well done and is very rewarding.

    What an enjoyable story about your government job interview. Having been on several interview committees, I found myself to be at odds with the other members as a normal matter of course. I tended to favor the ones who might change some things for the better. But often the government motto is “Mediocrity is perfection.” Trying to effect change for the positive runs counter to the motto.

    Nice photos of the storms and clouds and foggy conditions. I’m surprised any electricity was generated oi those conditions. I remember driving near Lind, Washington, several years ago, very slowly in near blizzard conditions. Not a week later, the governor of our state said that a huge solar array would be built near Lind “because the sun always shines in Lind.” Apparently, my memory must be wrong, and I wasn’t driving in a nasty snow storm. Nope, that was sunlight falling sort of sideways like. 😉

    Got the last big yard chores done today. Record high temperatures for a few days here, +14C on Sunday and nearly that warm Monday. 3 more days of this to go.

    I was sitting outside Sunday, enjoying the spring type weather and listening to the birds. It suddenly got totally quiet…A LARGE hawk flew over the yard. Not sure what variety it was, but it was bigger than the frequently visiting Cooper’s. It took a few minutes before the birds started chirping again.

    Your roses are looking very good. Thanks for showing those.

    Did the jack o’lantern photos find their way to you successfully?


  7. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the kind words on the photos, and here I must add that I spared everyone the dull details of the spring cleaning efforts. I don’t mind cleaning the house, but there are other things in life I’d much rather do! 🙂 Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Oh, being interviewed by five people is like my nightmare interview. There is no way that any five people could agree on anything, and surely common sense suggests that there is no feasible way that you’d end up reporting to all five of them? So, did you get the job after that crazy rigmarole? And if you did get the job, did the excessiveness stop there (no need to name names here)?

    Initial reports are that it is a very mild variant and so it is really nice that the media seems to be having a massive freak out.

    I see that Simon has penned a superb essay. He’s hitting some serious sixes.

    As a contrast, the heat has been turned up here at about 86’F. It’s quite pleasant really after the long run of cold and wet weather.



  8. Hi Goran,

    I’ll have to check with the editor in relation to the elderflower wine recipe. That’s her area of speciality which I only know the generalities of. The wine is well worth it, but the smell during the cooking process is notable. I’ll post the recipe in a couple of days. It probably is only those ingredients as the sugar is converted into alcohol by the yeast and the flowers provide the taste.

    And that is one of the big benefits of small business – they cannot afford to muck around, and so they don’t muck around. I used to have a background as a manufacturing accountant, and so yes, the numbers are the numbers and cost over runs are always questioned and investigated. As you suggest, it’s only once you move further away from such activities that abstract ideals and politics come to the fore. Basically they have enough free time with which to conduct such programs. Hmm.

    I once worked in a transport company, and the blokes on the floor were exceptionally polite and just got on with their jobs. The blokes in the office were something else altogether. It was an aggressive culture that one and I didn’t hang around long.

    Hehe! Sorry mate, you have to laugh about the agriculture situation. There was an old farmer saying about such matters from many years ago: I don’t see anyone around here with dirt under their fingernails. 😉 An astute observation is I must say so, and I don’t know who it was originally attributed to.

    Yes, that book has been discussed here in the past and it comes highly recommended. I dunno about other people and can’t speak for them, but I expect to work in order to gain a return. Doing such a job would kill my soul.

    Ouch! Double Ouch! I just did a conversion to Aussie Dollars and that works out to be just under double what I pay. Yikes! Best not drive much, or if you do, drive a small efficient vehicle. The social arrangements down here are not set up for people who do not wish to drive a vehicle – it’s not good, but it hasn’t always been the case and the future will in many ways a repeat of the past. I try very hard not to drive into Melbourne (although I did go in today to pickup some steel, stationery, signatures, assist a client, get coffee grounds). Basically if I’m going to have to drive I do all of the accumulated errands in one run. Most of my work gets done remotely from here although I’ve done that for well over a decade, but it does seem to be catching on with other people.

    The fertiliser issue is massive. Switching from industrial agriculture to organic agriculture is not for the easily frightened – as you probably also know!



  9. Hi Lewis,

    I note that the good Professor suggests that your recent bout of very wet weather is extreme, but not record breaking for the month, but when viewed on a quarter (September through November) it is a record. I’d imagine that British Columbia is looking forward to a predicted dry spell. Hope they’re OK up there? We’ve had virtually no news on that front. They’re probably way to busy writing about health matters as they most likely don’t have to get out of the office to do so.

    You know its been a wet year when Herons are lurking about the taller trees in the surrounding forest. 🙂 And yes, like your experience, they are very silent – except when the bird is sitting in the tree announcing its presence. Speaking of which, I’ve heard the sounds of a Koala in the immediate area over the past few weeks. What an horrendous call they make. Just imagine for one second that razorback the killer mutant feral boar is coming to kill you – that’s what they sound like.

    And a possum, think it might have been a brush tail possum, so it is quite large, turned up and ate many of the leaves off a fruit tree. Well, as things go, a Powerful Owl turned up and ate the possum. That will be the last tree that that particular possum dines upon.

    Went into the big smoke earlier today to pick up some steel I had on order for the shed project. I’m starting to feel more comfortable that we’ve got most of the materials required to complete the project. Maybe over the next week, we’ll begin dismantling one of the existing sheds in order to gain the rest of the materials from. And we have to move the water tanks too. Oh well, always something to do.

    It was actually pretty warm in the big smoke today. About maybe 86’F, which is quite the shock after such a cold and wet start to the growing season.

    That can happen about the lies. The problem is that you know, the tragedy of the liar, the curse of ancient Cassandra and all that. Probably not the wisest course of action. I don’t know how much faith I have left in the media. It wasn’t always thus. Someone told me the state gobarmine managed to get their surprising legislation through which gives them extraordinary powers.

    Just an idle thought, it is possible that people have less fear of the other three horsemen as they believe they might be able to side step those risks, but old death, not a chance. Thus why you see him riding solo. Dunno, but I’d be curious as to your thoughts on that. Nothing wrong with dark themes in art, life is not always the land of milk and honey (it’s fascinating that expectations were once much lower than they appear to be today).

    I can see what you mean about the 1930’s WPA feel to the art work. Have you heard back from the dealer?

    Thomas Mallory is an intriguing dude, and I note that he purportedly supported both side of the War of the Roses at various times. What a nightmare to be pushed hither and yon. But there was also some loose talk of him being something of a criminal turned author. He most certainly lead an interesting life. The language is a barrier, however the far larger barrier is the use of words to refer to all manner of unknowable customs and items of such an age. The subtleties and background of Beowulf would have been largely lost on me had I not had Professor Tolkien’s translation of the original verse and also his most excellent explanations.

    The Royal Flying Doctor Service is a real thing and has a long history, although candidly I have no idea how angsty teenagers would fit into such a story – unless of course they’re being treated. Sometimes it is easy to forget what a vast and thinly populated continent this one is – especially in the interior, and those dudes fly where needed. In fact most folks down under reside in urban centres, the ideal of Crocodile Dundee is a myth. Mind you, it is also part of the reason I can see forest stretching to the distant horizon from some points here. And yes, angst is fine and all, but need it be shared if there is no resolution in sight? Being angsty for the sake of being angsty is a lifestyle choice for sure.

    Oh you so nailed the problem with cleaning. It’s the never ending job, therefore in order to tame this wild beast, minimum standards must be decided upon and then adhered too. Of course from time to time as I experienced last week, other standards may be superimposed, and as such one must take a somewhat flexible attitude and then get to work and attack the problem. Then we can go back to normal.

    How’s your computer going? Has it recovered from its bout of spatial anomaliness?

    Mate, I’d yell too if I was in the car and it veered out of the lane. Some folks are overly critical of other peoples driving skills, and then there is the ‘watch out’ moment of critical intervention so as to avoid an accident. Your yelling falls into that latter category.

    It’s funny, but when I went into Melbourne today I can’t but help notice the almost complete lack of insects. It’s astonishing, because this farm is jumping with life. The interesting thing about Melbourne is that you can smell the aroma of flowers. It’s quite striking.



  10. Hello Chris
    I didn’t get that job. Unusual for me as I normally got the job if I got to an interview. However I was delighted to see it re-advertised a month later when I was happily established in another job.


  11. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, it’s beautiful to immerse yourself in such an environment and very relaxing for the mind. And I dunno about you, but I’ve noticed that after a few days of such immersion that my senses in relation to the surroundings improve. Especially my hearing, so I’m kind of guessing that day to day your brain has to work to blot out background noises – and we are a noisy civilisation!

    That tea name was super crazy, and yeah perhaps don’t believe the hype! Ah, advertising standards are perhaps lower in the country which originated the unusually named tea? Now, most of those names are common sense stories, but noseless? I’d hate to consider how a person would lose their nose way back in those days. Cauterising the wound would have been an horrific experience. ‘Keep Clemmie down, we’re just heating up the sword!’ Ouch. And the other one that piqued my curiosity was the moniker ‘ill drowned’. I assume the name label was applied after the incident. I guess maybe Geordie’s health was better before the incident? 🙂

    Ah, DJ, the consequences of the Ponderosa technique may have been swift, but then for all I know you might have been a fast runner and a deft fighter? Or maybe the other kids didn’t know it was you, thus the invisible. Possible, maybe.

    Mate, here am I whining about petrol prices and along comes Goran who proves the point that things could always be worse. Driving in that part of the world would be an expensive experience.

    Speaking of which, I drove into the big smoke today to pick up some steel I’d had on order, plus do a whole bunch of other activities. And far out it was hot in Melbourne today, but in an ordinary summer I’d consider 30’C a really pleasant day. But my senses have been attuned to a cold and damp summer and so yeah things feel hotter than they probably are. Got the steel safely home again, and now have most of the materials to hand for the shed project (although I have to decommission an existing shed to get some of the materials). Life wasn’t meant to be easy.

    Exactly, if one works hard, they have to spend time recovering. When I was a young bloke this was not necessary, but now that I’m an old fella, this is definitely necessary.

    Hmm, there is a school of thought which suggests that the pay keeps on rolling on in regardless as to whether anything gets changed for the better (or even changed for the easier), so why bother may be part of that story? I’ve heard folks ascribing far greater prowess to such institutions than the institutions possibly merit and I do wonder about that. However, in my first adult job I was made redundant (the entire department was so it wasn’t personal) and I kind of never wanted to, how is it put: Rest on my laurels.

    You weren’t the only one surprised. Of the 40 minutes of peak sunlight, the system itself consumed one third just doing whatever it is that it does. And yeah, the governor might be wrong there. The farm is at 37’S (with a climate of about 44’S due to elevation) and you’re about 47’N. My gut feeling is that winter days around the winter solstice will set the bar. All these systems are only ever as good as the worst day, but people love to talk in terms of averages. Nature doesn’t work that way, but the talk is a neat argument all the same. The solar energy system has a lot in common with agriculture and gardening in terms of generation.

    🙂 Over night lows are around 14’C here, but can drop into single digits. Your weather is positively toasty warm.

    Yes, I really enjoyed the cheeky horror faces grinning at me. They were excellent. The reply may have ended up in your junk folder.



  12. Hi Inge,

    If I had to hazard an opinion, I believe that you dodged a bullet there. Five people at an interview suggests a rather unusual workplace culture. One exception springs to mind and that was if it was for a very high end and senior position and you had to meet the board who you’d have to work with. But then my original opinion might still be valid. Anyway you did not indicate whether this was the case one way or another.

    There is something very satisfying with what you observed, and it perhaps hints that the workplace had an unusual culture.

    I might not have said it, but I loved the anagram. As a civilisation, we have kind of lost the plot, but I believe that this is symptom of a greater problem, which is the utter lack of vision for our society. Mindless consumption is probably not all that fulfilling for most people – and here we are today when the opportunities to mindlessly consume are reducing.



  13. Hello Chris
    The job was for a lowly position and I agree that I dodged a bullet.
    That anagram has now made the news here. It must be either adored or hated by people here.


  14. Hi Chris,

    We are having a mild summer season so far. The fruiting veg aren’t so successful but the leafy greens and the flowers and ornamentals are flourishing. The occasional really hot day or couple of days will burn all the rose blooms but other than that it is a pleasant change.

    The first half of the year was weird. Rainfall was only 4mm off the (10 year) average. But it all seemed to be different. The historically rainy months were dry and the historically dry months were rainy. Well except for July which never has any rain. Quantitative measures on weather just don’t jell in my brain. If the current standards of weather prediction are anything to go by then when “AI” helps solve our problems we will be in for a rough time. The human-knowing of when to plant crops based on when migratory birds return and when the large trees bud for leaf and flower is far more sensible. 

    There is a pair of storks that stagger about the garden for several days in spring when they return from up north. I feed them meat scraps. They also visit for a while before they leave again in autumn and expect to be fed. Last autumn there were four.  I fed them but they didn’t leave. They overwintered here instead. So I knew something was afoot and when the oak tree flowered early in the season I planted everything even though I wasn’t ready. There was a bad frost about a month later but the frost cloth did its job.

    The human element, the person who knows, is not always so easy to find these days. We still have local hardware stores that keep that knowledge alive. But the person who knows people is fading away. The library/bookshop/homeindustries/internetcafe all in one shop that had a fierce old lady who used to shout things like “give her that book about the Antarctic. She won’t like it but she needs something to buck her up and stop worrying about herself all the time.” hasn’t been able to reopen after being destroyed during the July unrest. Online libraries that say if you like this book maybe you would also like these are dismal. There must be sites that are portals to real people. Somewhere where you can read an occasional book or DVD recommendation. Or make a comment like 
    I was press ganged into reading Dale Carnegie’s book How to Win Friends…  I am feeling more than a little frayed as a result and don’t know what to read next. I enjoy Frank Herbert, Alexander Mccall Smith and would like something rejuvenative. Any suggestions?
    A site like that with a donate button like the one on Greer’s page. I can’t ask Gargle where to find that now can I? (Maybe one can and I just don”t know how to.)

    Your roses must be a joy this year. You repositioned them to give them more space at the end of last season didn’t you? I am sure that they will reward you. I am on the lookout for the Canary Island Foxgloves that you grow. I am sure they will do well in my garden too.

    Kind Regards,

  15. Hi Chris,
    Looks like Plum and Ruby are coneless now. Bet they’re glad.

    We’ve gotten the comment about working hard pretty often too. Wonder if some feel guilty for not working as hard or being productive on their property. Actually I’m to the point that I don’t want to work quite as hard. I turned 70 on Thanksgiving and feel that I’ve gotten to the point in my life that I don’t need to prove anything. I still plan to do plenty but just not at the same pace. Doug feels driven to be “productive” all the time always saying , ” I have to do something productive today.” I’ll respond “why”. It’s OK to be non productive from time to time IMHO.

    Good to hear it’s warming up a bit. Here it’s been pretty close to normal temperature wise but no rain or snow. The creek at the end of the road which finally ran some by the end of October has stopped and in fact looks even dryer.

    We had the big family gathering for Thanksgiving at daughter, Carla’s house. I expected that my birthday would be recognized as it actually fell on the day but it ended up much more. Carla, her husband, Cecily and Doug had put together a whole garden theme and many people were dressed to go along with the theme. There were birthday video greetings from friends around the country and a slide show put together by Cecily (who always does a bang up job). Anyway was alot of fun.

    Your strawberries and raspberries look amazing. Good to see more sunny days in the pics.


  16. @Goran
    I have three of David Graeber’s books, “Bullshit Jobs, “Debt: the First 5000 years and just received “The Dawn of Everything” for my birthday. Can’t recommend them enough. I had loaned “Bullshit Jobs” to my oldest daughter and she’s finally read it. She chose to homeschool her daughters and not work outside the home. She’s felt somewhat inferior to woman who work mostly due to other people’s reaction to her choice. She said she felt, after reading the book, that she had made the right choice.


  17. Yo, Chris – Looking at the weather radar, it looks like most of the action is north of Seattle. BC is getting it, again. But, they had enough of a respite between storms, that the flood waters were just topped up. Near as I can tell from the thin news. We’re getting rain, on and off, but nothing outrages. Tomorrow we may even see a bit of sun. The road east of my friends in Idaho, was supposed to be open by now. But will be closed for another week. The traffic is horrendous through there town. But the local businesses are dancing in the streets, due to the increase in trade. So, anytime business gets slow, just dynamite the other road. Simple.

    Possums, owls. Vast panorama of life. Even though they’re very grumpy, I think it is so cool you have a koala, around. From what I’ve read, their population took a big hit in the last round of brushfires.

    Disassembling sheds, moving water tanks, assembling sheds. You guys are just gluttons for punishment 🙂 . I’m glad you think you’ve managed to gather all the necessary materials. Measure twice, cut once.

    Well, that’s interesting about the four horsemen. In the Old Testament, they are Sword, Famine, Wild Beasts and Pestilence. In the New Testament, they are Conquest, War, Famine and Death (aka The Pale Rider.) And your speculation is correct. Other than Death, the others might be dodged or survived. Death, not so much.

    Haven’t heard back from the dealer yet, and may not. As those things go. Besides Thomas Hart Benton, the resume I got of the artist states he was also a student (where? when?) of an artist named Ben Shahn. Whose work is described as “social realism.” Not to be confused with the Ash Can School. 🙂 . Shahn did some interesting stuff. Worth a peek.

    Mallory had the time to write his Arthur Opus as he spent a lot of time in the slammer. Besides his political ups and downs, I seem to remember some story about his forcing his attentions on a Lady.

    Well, the bit I saw about the Royal Flying Doctors had a lot of hanky panky going on between some of the married doctors. Married, but not to each other. So, the fallout from all that got the teens all angsty. Near as I could tell, from the bit I saw. “Mum and Dad are getting a divorce, so I’ll get all angsty! That will teach them! And make things sooo much better!” And one of the doctors, feeling all guilt ridden, and things, thinks she should inform her boss that she’s been fooling around with one of the other doctors. Her paramour doesn’t think this is a wise course of action. And can’t she just keep her mouth shut? And I get all this from watching the show for all of 20 minutes. Plus there was two bush rescues, of different lost / injured people. As I said, pure soap opera.

    Nope. The spatial anomalies won’t clear up, on their own. I can’t access about 1/3 to 1/2 of websites. But that’s ok. Anything important I can check at the library.

    I had all the makings for another batch of dressing, so I made it last night. Had some for dinner (with cranberry sauce!) and put the rest in packets, in the freezer. I’ve still got some oatmeal cookies, left. Think my next foray into baking will be banana / cranberry muffins.

    I finished the book on the history of libraries (and, by extension, books). As I said, it was heavily researched and scholarly, but very readable. But I was reading along when I ran across an unknown word. “Fissiparous.” Really couldn’t tell what they were driving at, from the context. “…made for America with it’s fissiparous of multiplicity of faiths.” So, what does this mean? Ah …

    “Inclined to cause or undergo division into separate parts or groups.
    “she was unsuccessful in holding a fissiparous membership together”

    According to the OED. And who am I to argue, with them? Lew

  18. Chris,

    Yes, I noticed the same thing. It takes time for our senses to turn back on when we’re out of the noise of the city. I paid extra attention to how noisy the city is this morning when sitting outside enjoying my coffee. And we live, not on the outskirts, but not in a business district either. It’s noisy.

    Yes, Noseless Clem and Ill-drowned Geordie have 2 stories I’d love to hear. You nailed my idea on Clem, although I’d add, ala Braveheart, a loud “You do it, I’ll hold him down!” As to Geordie, well, how do you not quite drown him? Is he alive, or is he “mostly dead” from Princess Bride?

    Another name comes from Sir Walter Scott’s “Fair Maid of Perth”. Quote: “You want to know my name? My name is the Devil’s Dick of Hellgarth, well known in Annandale as a gentle Johnstone.” I don’t know if Sir Walter made up that name or had access to some records that included it. Either way, it’s a good name for a ruffian.

    The other kids knew I was the “Ponderosa Snowdropper”. But, I could throw snowballs better than they could, was one of the 2 fastest in the group, and also got caught unawares by some of the others once they’d figure out how to do it. Twas good fun.

    Glad you’re getting your building materials. The warmer weather is good for you, but maybe it could’ve waited until you were done with the steel work? Longer recovery time as we age is one thing, but it’s compounded when working in the heat before one is acclimated to it.

    Ah, you’ve run into the idea that some of my colleagues took advantage of: I’ll get paid regardless of how little I do. Several managers really excelled in that atmosphere. It was entirely against their “best” interests to hire someone who wanted to change things, or who was smarter than they were, or who worked harder than they did. Government. I always figured that I was being paid to get stuff done, so I better get stuff done. My junior tech thought the same way. We weren’t always popular in some circles. 😉

    Average? What the heck is that!?!??? Our “average” snowfall is about 112 cm per year. We have never had exactly 112cm in any winter since I moved here in 1967. Ditto with temperatures, and hours of sunlight, etc. Your experience shows that “average” doesn’t happen in any uniform manner in nature.

    Yeah, our toasty warm weather. The overnight lows have been higher than the “average” daily highs. What is this “average” stuff, again? 🙂

    Your reply eventually made it into the “bulk” bin. It was lost in the wherever for quite a while though. My cousin suggested that those projects were based on the Princess and myself. Lacking other models, what else was I supposed to do? 😉


  19. Hi Inge,

    A lot of people nowadays casually throw around the saying that a person needs to: ‘read the room’, but despite the rhetoric, I actually don’t know that many people who can actually wield that skill. You however, possibly did so in dodging that job. Regardless, luck was in your favour that day.

    I’m not really a person for forthright opinions but, it really is weird that a basic job would require five people to conduct the interview. A sensitive person might suggest that the five folks had little otherwise with which to occupy their time. And I write that as someone who only just finished work a few minutes ago at about 10pm… Even dinner was consumed whilst diligently working away. This is not my usual state of affairs, but sometimes events get away from me, and today was one of those times.

    Yeah, I was speaking earlier today with a mate about that, and I can’t actually say why, but I feel very little emotional investment in either narrative. Dunno why, but perhaps the whole thing just seems a little over the top to me. There are other perhaps more important issues with which to concern oneself with, but this is a distinctly unpopular perspective.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    This afternoon was a very tropical monsoonal kind of afternoon. It was quite warm earlier in the day, and then the thick storm clouds brewed in the skies, and it rained heavily – elsewhere. Flash flooding warnings issued as storms lash Melbourne, state’s north. I had to work late this evening and have only just finished at about 10pm, but the work was accompanied by the flash of lightning and the deep clap of thunder. Hmm, for whom the bell tolls.

    And speaking of which, the state gobarmine managed to get agreement on their pandemik legislation late this afternoon, but it has been much watered down, to most peoples vast relief. I expect that originally they went in with an ambit claim. It certainly got people out in the streets. One side effect of all the current shenanigans is that there has been a vastly increased interest in the political machinations. We’re an apathetic bunch down here, but there are limits to being pushed around willy-nilly like.

    The folks in BC might be a touch sick of the water soon. The news is almost non-existent on that front down here.

    Yeah, bizarrely, that is the flip side of a town bypass coming unstuck. I’ve known of a few country bakeries in small towns that were bypassed, and then the business had to reinvent themselves, and also begin to engage with the locals and their needs. Sometimes, the businesses end up being a destination in their own right. I always tend to believe that once the tourists are gone, it is the locals that keep local businesses going.

    Actually, I had the door to my office open for the cooler evening air and I could hear the Koala whilst sitting at the desk. The Koala moves around a bit. This wet and cool year may allow the Koalas to access local trees which in drier years might not have as high a water content. But you’re right too, the Koalas are doing it super tough because of the large scale bushfires and the fact that few if anyone wants to manage the forests properly. Stressed trees make for stressed wildlife, but this is a somewhat unpopular view.

    Punishment – you may be have a good point there. I’ve done something very bad in a past life, and now must make amends. Hope I wasn’t slothful, I’m not really into sloth as you may have noticed. 🙂 Nah, it would have been worse than that I reckon.

    And I take that advice to heart about measure twice and cut once. Materials are expensive, so it is best that they are not wasted.

    Hmm, that’s my best guess. Everyone thinks lady luck is on their side, until she ain’t. But the skinny bloke with the sharp scythe, when he decides to come for you (the nebulous you, not anyone in particular), history suggests that the odds of escaping are frankly not all that crash hot.

    Ooo, Ben Shahn is good isn’t he? I actually really enjoyed the social realism and some of the work had a sort of playful note to them. Really interesting. The Ashcan School is really something else. I loved looking at all the images of the art they produced. Beautiful and often gritty stuff. Thanks for the continuing education.

    I’d read that bit about Mallory, and the offence was described in very odd terms relative to how the offence is known today. Now obviously, the entry I read did not describe any of the details of the incident, but there was something odd about the way it was described. I mention this purely for historical comparative purposes but apparently if the act was consensual with a married lady, but not in accordance with the will of the husband, well mate, old Thomas would fall foul of the law. He seemed to have something of a knack for doing just that, but then he left works of literature which are still in circulation how many centuries later. Maybe it was just his fate.

    Well, and there you have it. If that soap opera lot were in the fifteenth century, instead of dealing with angsty teenagers, they’d be in the slammer. And conditions may vary in such a place in accordance with sentiment and family money.

    As a kid who went through a divorce, or two, I can’t really suggest that I felt even remotely angsty about the situation. My dad was not good father material in the first place, so it was no great loss as far as I could tell. To be honest, I really have no idea what I missed.

    Holy carp Lewis! There was a huge flash of lightning outside. The entire sky lit up. Yikes! Sometimes when there is enough lightning, the garden lights switch off because the solar controllers detect some significant voltage coming through from the solar PV panels – and I’m guessing the controller thinks its daylight (the garden light program is set to detect daylight and switch off). Did you know that lightning strikes fertilise the soil – it’s a rough and ready way to fertilise the soil though.

    Well if it gets bad enough with the computer, we could pitch in and assist you with a new old upgrade. 😉

    Yum! Your meal sounds delectable. Had a chicken parmigiana (also known as a chicken parma) with chips and salad last evening. As for dressings, there was a very tasty dijon mustard based salad dressing. Some places go for seriously complicated balsamic vinegars, and I’m not into those at all. I like vinegar, but not the balsamic variety.

    Fissiparous! You’d kill your opponents in a game of scrabble. 🙂 The word fission comes to mind, so I can see the splitting definition part of that word. Not sure what parous refers to, but it may have origins in another language?

    Here’s what the 1953 edition suggests of the word:

    fissi-, fisso-, comb. forms of L fissus see FISSURE, as fissidactyl with digits divided, fissiparous reproducing by fission.

    Well that explains everything, maybe…



  21. Hi Elbows, Margaret and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however I had to work late this evening and didn’t manage to finish until about 10pm. It’s now 11pm and I can barely keep my eyes open – or write anything amusing for that matter.

    Promise to reply tomorrow.



  22. Hello Chris
    I wonder whether those 5 interviewers were vying with each other for status.


    @ Margaret

    At the ridiculous age of 86, I definitely have to pace myself. It is short stretches all day of work, rest, work and rest. I try to make sure that I have done one extra thing each day apart from all the standard things.


  23. @ Elbows – Well, there’s a site called Goodreads. But, it’s owned by a multi-conglomerate with the same name as a river in S. America. 🙂

    If you search “Alternatives to Goodreads,” many articles and suggestions come up. Lew

  24. Yo, Chris – Job interviews. Well, my local library usually had a group of three, to interview. County manager, branch manager and head of circulation. And this was even for such lowly jobs as part-time library page (shelve books, empty book drops.) And the whole process took about two months. When I went back to substituting, I gave two months notice. My replacement arrived, one day after my last day.

    Sounds like you’re having a bit of weather 🙂 . Ah, I see lightening doesn’t need to strike the ground, to provide fertilizer. Lightening creates nitrogen in the air, which is then diluted and falls with rain. Scattering around coffee grounds sounds like a lot less drama. The only news from BC, yesterday, was that they’re rationing fuel.

    I’m glad you liked the Ashcan School of art, and social realism. Just me striking a blow for realism in art. Which might make a good t-shirt or bumper sticker.

    I remember that the whole Mallory story … well, it didn’t sound like we were getting the whole story. Given the gaps in the historical records. But I just had a thought. Maybe it was consensual, but he was caught “playing” above his station? That may have been his real “crime.”

    These days, I think some teens look for opportunities to be angsty. If it wasn’t Mum and Dad getting a divorce, it would be something else.

    Back to beans and rice. Enough of all that rich holiday food!

    I’d be great at Scrabble, if I could spell. 🙂 . Depends on if they allow dictionary use, or not.

    And, from our “That’s New,” department. This morning when I picked up H, she decided the proper place for one of her chew toys, was out in the hallway. Why? What goes through her head? Lew

  25. Hi Inge,

    Sadly, that is a good explanation. The things people will do for status. I don’t know about your stance in the matter, but I’m just not driven by status. I can’t really even say for sure why that would be the case, but maybe it seems to me like an ephemeral and fleeting thing, and whilst most things pass and decline and I acknowledge that circumstance, some things like status can evaporate very quickly indeed, so I dunno. It’s complicated.

    Hot and humid here today. By mid afternoon it had reached 87’F but then a monsoonal storm rolled in and dropped half an inch of rain, and some of that fell in only a few minutes. Tomorrow looks dry and cool, and that is perfect weather for the work I have planned.



  26. Hi Elbows,

    Your description of the current growing season matches my experience here exactly. The fruit trees are growing well too, other than apples and pears, there is little other fruit. I must say though that the Globe Artichokes are growing and producing very well. We had a few warmer days this week and the tomato seedlings have almost doubled in size. I tell ya what though, you learn more with each passing season. A late afternoon monsoon hit here today and dumped half an inch of rain, and now – thick fog.

    Elbows, I’m not entirely certain that AI would be trustworthy. If a computer really became sentient, how do we know that elimination of pesky humans would not a goal of the machine? I’ve seen The Terminator film. But yes, I do take your point and planted out the tomato seedlings when the soil conditions and forecast seemed right. The old timers used to have a rule of thumb about planting them on Melbourne Cup Day which is the first Tuesday in November, but almost a month ago the conditions were certainly not warm enough for the seedlings to survive. The peas I planted at that time survived, but the beans died, and they’ve since had to be replanted (fortunately I did not originally commit all of the seedlings).

    Birds know when they are onto a good thing! 🙂 Late frosts are a pain, and two years in a row now they’ve been a nuisance risk and adversely affected fruit production. The apples and pears are smart enough to flower later in the season. Oh well, there’s always next year I guess.

    Exactly, and I hear you about the local hardware store. The local hardware store was shut down a few years ago and replaced by another supermarket – this time a German branded supermarket. On the other hand there are a number of local businesses I support with purchases and I’ve known the people for over a decade now. And they look out for me, and that is good local sense. The potential loss of all of those local connections was one of the main considerations in outcomes due to the health subject which dare not be named. It’s weird down here. A mate of mine hails from near to your part of the world and I hear the stories. It’s not good, sorry to say.

    I just finished my third or fourth re-read of Jack Vance’s: Dying Earth series of four books (it was printed in a single paperback). I rather enjoy and enjoyed the various tales of the anti-heroes in a far flung future. It’s a fun series of books and the author has much to say upon human interactions.

    I believe Margaret has involvement with a book club and so may be a far better guide to this than I.

    Yes, the roses are now 1 metre apart (3.3ft) and they all transplanted really easily. I was surprised at how well they have recovered, and a few are now producing lots of flowers. The succulent garden is in bloom now too.



  27. Hello Chris
    Status means nothing to me at all. However, I live in what is probably the most class conscious country in the world. It always amuses me to surprise people by adapting to their class. I have lived in so many styles that I can easily do this by changes in accent, verbal usage and physical behaviour. I have literally seen people jump with shock as they decide that they must have misread me.


  28. Hi Margaret,

    The Kelpie’s are very happy to now be out of their cones. Thanks for asking as to their well being. Plum has fully recovered, but Ruby has some mild inflammation around the wound, but the veterinarian suggested that given the situation it would take about two to three weeks to heal completely. She’s done it tough that girl, and dogs being what they are, Plum and Ollie have certainly taken advantage of their fearless (and fun) leader being laid a little bit low. Yes, very nice. Plum even has some aspirations to leadership, but frankly she lacks the personality for this role.

    I agree with you with your observation, and such comments are more about the person who is making them, rather than any general observation on the actual work done. I’ve now started replying to the comment by saying: “Yeah, we don’t muck around!” Nobody has yet worked out what to say when confronted with those words.

    Actually I totally understand the age concern. We’re busy trying to make this place easier to live in as we get older. Do you know, and I haven’t made a big deal about it, but the primary firewood shed sits at a slightly lower elevation than the house. Pushing a full wheelbarrow load of firewood up the hill, even that small incline, is no joke at all.

    Tuesday night, I came across a bloke who had a utility vehicle and had been pulling a huge trailer load of firewood back up the hill. Except that I reckon the vehicle was perhaps overloaded and he’d broken the axle on a really steep section of the road. I was mildly worried about doing just that on that particular section of road when I had to haul the huge trailer load of sheet metal back. The little Dirt Rat Suzuki was struggling, but made it OK and I wasn’t flogging the car. Anyway, I guess the upshot of the story is that you have to make allowances for things as they are, and not as you want them to be.

    And if it means anything to you, I tend to temper the editors work activity suggestions. And it is OK to have a more chill day.

    Ah, your creek is seasonal too. Half an inch of rain fell today in what looked like a tropical downpour. And the water inlet filters failed due to the accumulated gunk. Those sorts of storms are very testing of the infrastructure.

    Good stuff! Have you got your Christmas decorations up yet? 🙂 Actually do you obtain a tree from the local tree farm?

    It is nice to enjoy a few warm days this week, although it is cooler now with thick fog…



  29. Hi DJ,

    Hope your coffee was good? Actually the reason I’ve mentioned the senses thing to you was because due to the crazy lock downs here (need I remind you that I just inadvertently ended up near to the epicentre of of the worst on the planet, and may have strong feelings on the subject 🙂 ), but I’ve spent far more of the last two years surrounded by the bush and surrounding rural areas. Like, I didn’t head into Melbourne much in the first place, but it basically ended up being once a week, and the weird thing is that I now see the city differently. I hadn’t expected that outcome.

    And I salute your good choice: Right in, or right out you get amenities. In the middle suburbs, maybe not so much and there are downsides to living in such a place. It’s complicated, but I’ve long held that belief. Things may be different in your part of the world?

    Oh DJ, you’re gonna totally hate on me, but I have not watched either Braveheart or Gladiator. Sorry, so much to do, so little time. Well, that’s my excuse anyway. I might get some quiet time over the Christmas break, but then again, maybe not. I’ve got plans, and not much time… Now, I have watched the Princess Bride, it’s a classic and it has quite the cult following.

    I must say that the incidence of the Fair Maid of Perth and the Battle of North Inch contained such complicated local politics and subterfuge and long enmity, that I was barely able to follow the details as presented in the story. It’s possible that the fight had much larger meaning for the folks involved than the crazy goings on in the story suggested.

    Hehe! Of course, practice makes perfect in this instance. 🙂 Hey, I’m trying to train Ruby to catch food that is thrown at her. I’ve never known a dog not to have that innate trait, although many have been more skillfull practitioners. She seems to be disinterested in the activity. Do you have any suggestions as to how I could train her in this necessary technique. There is a practical side to this, and given the various things around here that she can encounter, it’s an advantage for her to be able to estimate trajectories. Anyway, she’s still not 100%, but is recovering slowly.

    We now have a run of three dry and cool days and will make the most of them. Of course, half an inch of rain fell today in a tropical downpour. And you’re right, the warm weather this week was quite the shock to the system. It reached 31’C here today, but was very humid.

    Mate, like you and your junior tech, getting paid to get stuff done, is what I also do. And it is why I work with small business nowadays. They just don’t have the surplus to allow much mucking around. And this works for me because I avoid the messy politics which I really wasn’t very good at. You may have noticed that speaking one’s mind in a corporate hierarchy is rarely well received?

    Average is a concept which derives from the fourth planet circling the nearby star, Alpha Centauri. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but I heard that the real little furry creatures of that planet, know. 🙂

    However, in the absence of certain knowledge, your observation sounds good enough to me. 🙂

    Hehe! Ah, so that is what your lady looks like. Right note to self, on dark nights when the moon is full, don’t annoy DJ and his lady. They have a somewhat sharp pointy toothy aspect to their demeanour.



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Holy cow dung batman! Thanks for the interesting article on harnessing the ammonia in industrial cow dung. Look the thing that leapt out to me, sort of like spotting a chugger about to shake you down for some cold hard mad charity cash, was that the process utilised a 50 kilowatt plasma torch. I didn’t even know plasma cutters had that sort of rating, and it lead me on interweb rabbit hole as to how such a beast would be powered on a dairy farm. So three phase power is how. My little off grid solar power system could never hope to power such a beast, so before anyone put the machine to the test, did they ask whether the ongoing electricity required produced as much pollution elsewhere? I mean the technology seems super nifty…

    A few years ago I was reading a Gene Logsdon book on manure, and he’s an excellent author by the way, but he wrote that the old timers used to just bring the cows in over winter in a barn where they’d do their business on a floor of straw bales. Now of course cows will browse the straw bales, but the urine and manure gets mixed into the straw and so the stuff gets used as fertiliser at the end of the season. It seems simple enough and low tech, and in fact is the actual system I use with the chickens. Most hen houses and runs stink of ammonia, but mine is very neutral smelling. This stuff is not hard, we just want what we want and dairy farms are paid depending upon the bacterial count of the milk produced, so they possibly have an incentive to run the place like a factory. Cows may have other ideas and there is a lot of cleaning that goes on all the time on a dairy farm.

    Your permafrost idea has much to recommend it, but I’d chuck it in the technically feasible, but perhaps economically bonkers category – but you knew that already! Thanks for the laughs.

    Really? How does a person hand over skills if there is only a single day with which to do so? And I’m not going to wonder whether the three people had anything better to do with their time, but maybe I will. Interestingly, the employee shortage thing down here appears to be real, and I’d be impressed to imagine that this circumstance is an engineered arrangement? I mean someone, somewhere must have realised that there’d be consequences to the other policies brought into play over the health subject which dares not be named? Dunno. Employers have had it pretty good for a long while, and all good things come to an end, eventually. The one I laugh about is the shortage of auditors. The stories I’ve heard of people who used to work in that area and the long hours they’d be expected to do. It’s a health and safety issue for the people having to work those long hours, plus it looks a lot like exploitation to me.

    Yeah, a bit of weather, but nothing like what took place in BC. Earlier in the day was very hot and humid, and then about maybe four or five o’clock this afternoon, the heavens opened and a tropical downpour dumped half an inch of rain. It’s now pea soup outside. Fortunately tomorrow looks drier (not something I’d normally write in a drier season). It was a real monsoon.

    And yes, scattering around coffee grounds does sound like a good idea. I’ll tell ya something interesting, the Jerusalem Artichokes have got off to a flying start this year, and I reckon they’re now taller than where they finished last year. I’ll be curious to see whether they produce any flowers. Dunno.

    🙂 Realism in art has a lot to commend it. I see that Mr Greer has touched up on the subject of architecture today. And I’d never previously heard of the belief in Tartary. Clearly I need to get out and about more often.

    Speaking of which, I did get out this morning to get a coffee and check the mail and pick up some groceries, but otherwise had a quiet day at home. Did a little bit more spring cleaning and wiped the dust off the ceiling fan blades (they could have been handy earlier in the week). But I dismantled the two computers and hit them with the air compressor to blow out all of the accumulated dust. You’d be amazed how much gets collected in there. We should go all forensiks like and plate the stuff out and see what grows. It would be fascinating and a little bit yucky.

    Went to the pub for dinner and that was pretty nice. Spotted some other regulars and said hello. There is a mens group who catch up there regularly and they seem like good mates.

    Yes, that was my thought too with old Mallory. Batting out of his league and annoying his betters. Yes.

    Dictionary use is always an advantage at that game.



  31. Yo, Chris – The article about cow manure and zapping it with lightening bolts, brought the saying “Lightening in a barrel,” to mind. But I had it wrong. It’s “Lightening in a bottle.” “Succeed in a way that is very lucky or unlikely.” It’s an allusion to Ben Franklin’s kite experiments. Lightening in a shipping container?

    Gene Logsden knows of which he speaks. I’ve learned a lot from whatever of his I’ve run across. I did the same thing with my chickens. In winter, I’d add a bit of straw, from time to time (usually, when freshening up the nesting boxes) and fluff it up with a fork. Never had problems with ammonia smell. And, it sure was rich stuff to toss around, in the spring. As my chicken coop was on a slight slope, it had a bit of a gap under one end. I think the stuff on the floor of the coop, breaking down, kept the Ladies a few degrees warmer.

    As I remember from a couple of Ruth Goodman’s series, back in he day they kept dairy utensils clean with salt, water and sunshine.

    “…technically feasible, but perhaps economically bonkers.” Seems to be a lot of that going around. 🙂

    Oh, at the library it was never about passing on skills. I never even saw the person who replaced me. I guess they liked to “start fresh” in case previous person had developed any bad habits. 🙂 Somewhere in that two months, there was a two day training session, at the Service Center. Library policy, and all that.

    I stopped by the library, yesterday, and had time to read Mr. Greer’s post. I had also not heard of the Tartary Empire. I wondered if Mr. Greer was pulling our leg, but, it was a real concept. Now raised to fringe theory. I was a little concerned about his theory that fringe theories move toward the center. There’s some weird stuff out there, on the fringe.

    I’m a bit miffed. Saturday is that yearly orgy of civic who-who, the Santa Clause parade. I might as well forget, going down to the Club, in the morning. And probably won’t be able to get to the library, til late afternoon, when things clear out, a bit. I see my interlibrary loan of “Dirty Cooking,” is somewhere between the Service Center, and here. I don’t know when it will land.

    Last bit of clear weather we had, I cut my Jerusalem Artichokes down to about 6″. Just to keep them looking neat and tidy. I can dig as needed, all winter long. Lew

  32. Hi Inge,

    It’s a bit of a skill to blend in as and where required. Many long years ago I became aware that we give ourselves away in many different ways, some of which are mere reflexive actions and mannerisms that people do without even the merest of thoughts. In effect a person has to play along with the game and there is an element of training involved. And the astute observer like yourself, who cares not a whit for status (and neither do I), can observe and mimic. The minutiae is quite astounding really, even how a person wears a suit upon their person can suggest much.

    Class is an issue down here too, but perhaps not as long ingrained as in your country, but still it’s there.

    I dunno, the game just lacked appeal, mostly because it’s not possible to win, and I really don’t understand what is won anyway.

    And I can’t speak for you, but it is far easier for me to get things done, if I don’t alienate other people, and that is one of the downsides of the class game. Some people feed off that, and there is something rather sordid about doing so. The mulch guy I wrote about possibly suffers from that, but it’s more common than is usually acknowledged.

    It’s a very complicated thing which you are discussing.



  33. Hi Lewis,

    It is very possible that those parts of your country are facing a longer term trend and shift in climate? I dunno, but this is an issue I spend a bit of mental and physical effort addressing here as it also directly impacts upon myself. Basically, the official prognosis is not good, but then that does not then imply that nothing can be done. There are plenty of options with which to respond to shifting climates, but I’m seriously in the minority opinion in regard to implementing them. Mostly the official view represents a sort of learned hopelessness, when in fact the indigenous folks have some good workable solutions. The unfortunate thing is that the people with their hands on the policy levers in this regard, are kind of offended by the good workable solutions. So, that lot only want to throw more technology and energy at the problem, and yet it escalates past their control, and yet they don’t want to let go of that control. Their level of failure is embarrassing, but do they let go, nope. My gut feeling suggests that control will eventually be relinquished from cold and dead hands.

    Who knew the ancient Greeks used coal with which to heat their homes and also cook. And oh yeah, I hear you about that, because what amazed me was that they did not waste any of the heat. I counted maybe four separate spots on the device with which they cooked food. How good is that? I’d read somewhere long ago that the ancient Greeks had denuded their forests and so I’m astounded that they’d used coal. Who knew? And then, my thinking goes, if they knew about that use for coal, what other Mediterranean civilisations also used coal? It’s not like all of that lot didn’t travel extensively and exchange ideas. Could the Roman bread ovens have also been fired with coal, or a mix of coal and firewood? Rome would have stripped the forests around itself in quick order if some other more energy dense heating fuel was not employed.

    Honestly, I’m not inclined to repeat Benjamin Franklin’s kite experiment. It seems extraordinarily risky (despite the use of the dry silk as a potential insulator – good luck with that). What interested me about the experiment was that they used a Leyden Jar which is a very early form of capacitor in which to store the collected charge. Now of course the inner geek fires up at such loose talk – and I have a small stack of them on the desk here which have to be chucked into the Kenwood FM tuner before the next hottest 100 + 200 of the year otherwise I’ll have to listen via the low fidelity interweb. Not keen to do that. Interweb compressed music is fine, but it has it’s limitations, but I’m digressing. Oh! I almost forgot, a Leyden Jar looks almost identical to the ancient Baghdad Battery.

    And speaking of weather, we’ve hit a three day run of cooler weather. Today was only 63’F, but sunny. The UV from the sun is a killer, despite the cool air temperatures. With the cooler weather forecast we got up early this morning, and mate we can work hard, but today was bonkers. Just below the new machinery shed we had to cut in a flat site for the many water tanks which will be placed there. One day I should get a drone camera in to make sense of the farm for the readers… Anyway, we started early and finished by 2pm and cut in to the slope a site of about 52ft long by 7ft wide. The plan is to finish the work tomorrow – maybe. We did the hard yards today though. We took ourselves off for a well deserved lunch, returned home, and promptly fell asleep. My body was shutting down at that point. Still I felt pretty good after the hour and a half shut eye. What a day of work… I hope to use the soil from the mounds – yes, those mounds – tomorrow.

    Exactly, the chickens are producing seriously rich fertiliser, so why waste it? And the nose knows! Yup. But it just takes that little bit more effort to capture the nitrogen as well as all the other minerals, and commercial agriculture really struggles with that side of the story. Plus, there is a tendency to over stock which just increases soil mineral problems. I dunno, but I do know that civilisation is in for a big shock should they ever have to go organic on any large scale.

    I absolutely agree, over winter the decomposing and mildly damp straw / manure / litter combination does keep the ladies warmer. It just can’t get too wet.

    Respect to Ruth Goodman, and yup the sun does the job for free.

    Ah, but then what if the person had developed good habits? Mind you, when old Scritchy passed on – she had some serious dementia – I was kind of hoping that Plum and Ruby did not pick up any of her bad habits. The former boss dog on the other hand did pass on good habits to her crew. It’s a mixed bag, but generally I have this awful feeling that your library system has way too many levels of hierarchy.

    Training is good, but experience also has much to recommend it. Training is probably one of those power and control things we occasionally speak of. It can be measured, but experience is a more complicated issue and is not evenly disbursed. Hmm.

    I’d also wondered whether Mr Greer was pulling our leg too. And the Editor also read the blog and was asking the hard question: WTF? It turns out that it’s a real belief thing, Who knew? Some of those buildings in the essay did in fact resemble fortified bunkers. And we also now have an idea of one of the early interests of Mr Greer. 🙂

    Mate, it’s not good. Hunker down at home and avoid the crowds. I’d do the same. Incidentally as a cultural comparison, such things do not take place here with such parades. And things are so crazy nowadays that, I dunno, let’s put it this way, it wouldn’t happen.

    Jason Sheehan? Respect! It’s a great read.



  34. Hello Chris
    I am trying to get to grips with the metaverse and non fungible tokens. Ye gods!


  35. Hi Inge,

    Yeah, I’d heard that talk too, although candidly I have no understanding as to what it all means, and so here your knowledge surpasses my own. Years ago, and for some reason unknown to myself, we watched a film on that behemoth. There was one point in the film where the original name was: ‘The Facebook’, and some dude suggests to drop the word ‘The’, from the name, and I guess his fortune was made then and there.

    I dunno, it is very possible that the whole thing is a flash in the pan. I grew up before the interweb, and so if you wanted to research something, you had to have an encyclopaedia (if you were lucky) or head to the library to chase up references. And there was the always the dictionary and thesaurus. And my education was poor because I just wasn’t exposed to that much television. The kids have it much worse these days.

    And I’d heard about those fungal things too. There’s an old saying about more dollars than sense, although I’m not entirely sure how that relates.

    One of the great problems with quantitative easing policies, is that ever so slowly the quantity of dollars increases relative to availability of actual items of wealth, and then strange things happen.



  36. @Elbows

    Re: book selections

    I’ve found many books here and on JMG’s blog as well as a few others. If I’m reading a non-fiction book I check out the Bibliography for other books on the same subject. My book club, sadly, is on hiatus for a bit. It may just have run it’s course. Only half of the members read regularly.

    I recently started volunteering at a used book store. While I’m doing it to support the local organization my motives weren’t all altruistic. I enjoy talking to the customers and other volunteers as they read extensively and have their own suggestions.

    Lew mentioned Goodreads but as he said it’s owned by the large river company. I’ll check out reviews when people recommend books but also find other reviews.


  37. @Inge
    Yeah, I’m seeing that as well but do keep chugging along. As the saying goes, “Use it or lose it.”

    My mother-in-law when in her late 80’s had a bout with a respiratory illness that left her bed ridden for a time. By the time she recovered she needed to use a wheelchair to get around. She persevered though and over time was able to navigate the halls of the care center where she lived in her walker some of the time. When we brought her home or took her out to eat she was able to get around enough that we didn’t have to bring the wheelchair. Even though she didn’t have an order for physical therapy, the PT at the care center helped her use some of the equipment when there was time. She particularly worked on climbing stairs.


  38. Hi Chris,
    We’re working on making things as low maintenance as we can here too. Pushing a wheelbarrow uphill is no fun.

    The creek has always been running while we’ve lived here. Neighbors who have been here for decades have never seen it like this – not good.

    We just got our tree this morning – a white pine. I got rid of many decorations when we moved. We had quite a few at the big house and many were for the benefit of my brothers when they lived. Patrick and Marty always decorated to the hilt and Marty still does in his apartment. His tree and village take up at least 1/3 of his living room and is complete with light posts and a running train. He starts setting up in October. My sister and I just received an email from the man who worked most closely with Patrick in his last apartment. He was reminiscing about Patrick’s extensive decorations and how much everyone there missed him and the decorations. Hard to believe it’s been five years already. When he was living with us our electric bill was noticeably higher in December.


  39. Yo, Chris – Yup. The weather seems to be getting weirder and weirder. About all one can do is stay loose and flexible. And plant lots of different things, so you have some variety.

    Funny, but I never thought much about the Greeks, Romans and coal. Never mind all those braziers sitting around the place. 🙂 . We never think about how downright smoky, Roman and Greek cities were. A shallow dive down the rabbit hole states that both the Greeks and Romans pretty much used surface coal, and didn’t really mine the stuff. I’d add, “that we know of.” Tomorrow the archaeologists could discover a vast Roman coal mining operation. Then there was sea coal. The stuff washing up on beaches.

    I seem to remember (tip of the hat to Disney) that Franklin’s experiment also involved a brass key … Ah, yes. The Bagdad battery. Many a dissertation has been launched over what they were and what they were used for. Best guess: electroplating metal. The ancient world is full of surprises.

    So, I may have entirely lost the plot, but if you move the water tanks to below the shed, will you be pumping a lot of water uphill? That was a lot of earth to move. You deserved a good nosh and nap.

    I suppose training an employee from the ground up, in some ways, was a search for the “perfect” employee. 🙂 . A semi-mythical beast. What’s interesting is, having worked in 17 (of 27) branches, it was interesting that each branch did some things a little different. I was flexible, if nothing else. And, after working for awhile, I realized that my roll (though unstated) was, I spread around some different practices. With tact. Some branches did some things better, and I could introduce a bit of change. I was also the carrier of news (ie: gossip). 🙂 .

    I got an e-mail that “Cooking Dirty” is waiting for me, at my branch. I’ll probably pick it up, tomorrow.

    The weather here was glorious, this morning. Clear but no frost. Just about perfect. Good thing. I had to go put air in my tires. Stopped at the cheap grocery on the way back, and scored some pretty good stuff. Then home to walk the dog. Said dog is now visiting me, as Elinor had a scheduled doctor’s appointment, this morning.

    I’ve decided to attempt to go to the Club, tomorrow morning. I talked to my friend in Centralia, and she has a box of food in her trunk, for the Club. I don’t think I’ll have any trouble getting there (fingers crossed), but getting back, I’ll have to take a roundabout unfamiliar route. Maps will be consulted (remember those?). Lew

  40. Hello Chris
    Go to ‘notayesman’ for 3rd Dec. Trawl down the comments until you get to ‘Inside Australia’s covid internment camp’.
    Is this true?!


  41. Chris,

    Yes, thanks, the coffee was good. I use the Bodum almost exclusively for our coffee at home. It’s good that way.

    I grew up on the very edge of town, about 4km from here. It is still the very edge of town. The Spokane River and Riverside State Park are below the ridge at the end of the street. And there’s a large cemetery nearby, so more development is precluded. It was extremely quiet there most of the time. It was common to hear the coyotes howl and yammer. We get periods of quiet here, but I miss the near rural quiet from my parents’ house. I envy you the quiet you’ve got…much less human machinery noise is pleasant.

    We can walk to several stores and the library from here if we choose to. Go up 5 Mile Hill to the (what we call) ritzy suburbs, and there are no stores at all, just houses, churches and a school. Nasty drive to get anywhere in the winter from there. I like our location.

    No Braveheart and no Gladiator? Cool! Nothing wrong with not seeing everything. I liked Braveheart when it first came out, but I can’t watch it now. I still enjoy Gladiator. And Princess Bride.

    Sir Walter Scott can be hard to read for the reasons you gave – but the writing style of that era was to give detail ad infinitum. Took me forever to wade through Scott’s Rob Roy.

    I have no suggestions about Ruby and catching airborne food. I’ve seen many dogs who couldn’t catch food or anything. Rakhi picked it up quickly…I started from a few inches, then gradually increased the distance. But she could catch frisbees and pinecones and anything she wanted to catch. If it was food, Thor would catch it. Ditto Cheyenne. So far, Avalanche isn’t interested in learning how to catch food tossed to her. It just bounces off her snout onto the floor, where she happily hoovers is up. In other words, it’s almost like either the dog gets it and learns or doesn’t.

    The temperature peaked at the house at +17C. Officially it was a bit less, topping out at +15C, slightly shy of the all-time December warmest day on record. Now we’re easing back to winter, perhaps some snow Saturday morning, definitely snow Monday and Tuesday.

    We’ve been taking Avalanche for walks nearly every day. Walking is good for her and good for me and good for the Princess. Sometimes we take her to a nearby park. She sees the huge grassy area and says, “Papa, let me off the leash and let me run! See all that grass I’m supposed to RUN in it!” And if I did so, the last we would see of her is her curly tail disappearing over the horizon. She is fast. I’m not.


  42. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, it’s sorting out the little things that you have to do everyday and just making them easier is what we’re sort of trying to get right. As clearly are you and Doug.

    Firewood is such an interesting topic and fuel. I guess if I was born into this life, I probably wouldn’t have made as many errors with the firewood systems and processes, but then conversely, I might not have been able to see the entire process with unbiased eyes. So, it’s a mixed bag really. I’ve already had a few people tell me that it is a lot of work to correct all of these things, but then, they don’t know what it means to live with such systems. To me it seems easier to correct the systems and move on with life. And firewood is our only heating fuel. The winters would be very cold without it.

    Yes, it is most certainly not good. Incidentally, down under creeks are so described because they are generally not expected to run all year around. There are times of the year when the local creek at the bottom of the property simply dries up. Even the local river will dry up from time to time, and I’ve seen that. I don’t rely on such water sources, and your creek may kind of be an above ground representation of what is going on with water below the surface.

    That variety of pine is unknown down here, and I believe that it is the biggest tree in the eastern part of your country. The amusingly named: Boogerman Pine, is pretty big.

    Thanks for the image of Marty, his Christmas village and running train set. Has it been five years all ready? Time has an awful habit of slipping by. Has Gwen recovered enough to be at the family festivities with Marty this year?



  43. Hi Inge,

    I’m sorry but I can’t verify as to the truthfulness of the young ladies story. It has the ring of plausibility to it though and she admittedly moved to Darwin from Melbourne, and some things down here make no sense at all, and certainly common sense and science need not apply.

    Damo and his lady were stuck in a one room hotel room for two weeks, and then had to go through another two week home quarantine in a different state.

    And last year I had to traverse military and police checkpoints and display identification and papers.

    Basically one standard appears to have been inverted, and that is the concept that people are innocent until they are proven guilty.

    I have a few friends who have decided not to get the vaxes.



  44. Hi DJ,

    Bodum’s are pretty nifty devices, and they just work. After the previous coffee machine breakdown we bought a Bialetti, which like the Bodum makes a tasty brew. Always good to have a plan B in an emergency, and the loss of a coffee machine is always a cause for concern.

    The tea camellia’s now reside in the greenhouse, but candidly they are so slow growing in this environment, that a couple of cups, and the shrub would be stripped of leaves, and probably wouldn’t recover in time for another cuppa any time soon.

    Out of curiosity, what does ‘almost exclusively’ mean?

    Hey, not to put too fine a point on the matter, but the cemetery didn’t seem to be too much of a problem for the housing development in the Poltergeist film. Do coyotes roam near to towns? Yikes. I guess Avalanche would warn you in advance of such kindred beings, but she’d probably have your back in a stand off – maybe, and in her advantage, she’d probably be better rested and fed than a pack of coyotes. It’s a frightening thought.

    Actually, it can be pretty quiet up here, and during the long lock downs, the lack of human noise was notable. However, the wildlife makes plenty of noise, and I know most of the bird calls. Not all of them though, and some birds can be very elusive.

    Most of the time, we’re pretty quiet, although today we used a bit of machinery as we finished off the construction of the site which about 27,000 litres of water will be stored in various water tanks. It’s been a big job, and I’m feeling it tonight. The site cut is about 15.7m long by 2.1m wide and almost dead flat. And as you’d imagine, we ran out of soil earlier today and had to go scrounging around… An old timer local excavator driver and all round top bloke, once quipped to me that you never have as much soil as you think you will. He’s right too.

    Yeah, exactly, you are in the part of town with amenities. That really nails the problem with the burbs, there are often no amenities. I have no services or shops anywhere near here, but there are other amenities such as: space and quiet, and I place a high value on those.

    OK, there is a story there. Why has your opinion changed on the Braveheart film? Please understand that I have not seen the film and do not know of the story. The opening battle scene of the Gladiator film – which is all that I have watched – was quite the eye opener.

    I’ll try your suggestions with Ruby, and in fact have done so. However, she is very similar in response to Avalanche where the food can bounce off her head and fall to the ground before being consumed. This is an entirely new dog experience for me, and Plum picked up the skill very quickly. I just have this hunch that the skill will give them an advantage should they come across the wrong sort of wildlife here. Mind you, Ollie and Plum didn’t want anything to do with the snake, but this is no guarantee as to future behaviour.

    So are you happy you got Avalanche? 🙂

    DJ, it was warmer at your place today. What is with that? Mind you, the 15’C made it easier to do a very hard days work, and there was absolutely no competition for tables for the well deserved late lunch. Talk of snow is all well and good, but when your winter temperatures exceed my summer temperatures… Hey has the planet flipped upside down? 😉

    Oh yeah, a very wise call. DJ, don’t be lulled by a pretty smile and soothing words of reassurance from Avalanche. Trust must be earned. Two days after Ollie first arrived here, he somehow managed to slip out of his collar – and I have no idea how he did that trick. Anyway, he sauntered around the garden and announced his new found freedom, and I bowed to the inevitable, but not all dogs are that reliable – or sneaky.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Weirder and weirder is about the right of it. I believe that it reached at least 59’F here today. I was looking at the raspberries and strawberries late this afternoon and there’s heaps of fruit, they’re just all green right now. It’s a really late season this one.

    On the other hand, the very cold summer weather is almost perfect for bonkers hard work, and we finished the site cut today for the water tanks below the new shed. It’s dead flat at about 7ft wide by 52ft long. And we’d miscalculated and made the area a bit bigger than the original plans due to not factoring in the sloping edge. Oh well, so we ran short of soil and had to move soil from those mounds. All of the soil from those mounds was removed and I can assure you that no bodies were found or disturbed during the process. Thankfully. I was a bit dubious about the mounds, but they may have been caused by the loggers who used to use bulldozers and chains with the trees. The mounds were most certainly not natural.

    Tomorrow we’ll chuck a layer of crushed rock with lime onto the flat surface in order to protect it from heavy rains which are forecast over the next few weeks. The water tanks will actually sit on a fine bed of rock crusher dust, which coincidentally is an excellent fertiliser.

    And you’re right, diversity of plants is the best strategy when faced with climate weirdness. As time goes on, food availability will be more of an issue.

    Those civilisations were active for a very long time, and so I kind of believe that surface coal would have been exhausted rather quickly and sooner or later someone would have come up with the bright idea to create a open coal pit mine. It doesn’t require a big leap of imagination. Their limitation would have been the water table as pumping any water from the bottom of the pit would have cost heaps. Such small mines would be almost impossible to spot these days, and our civilisation with its water pumping abilities most certainly would have erased any traces of such ready ancient sources of fossil fuels. Mate, I had no idea that they even used coal for heating and cooking.

    Sea coal is fascinating, but probably a very localised fuel source. It would have improve the local economies of the towns where the stuff floated in. Apparently the stuff ignites easily and burn hotly, and is very different from mined coal. Never encountered the stuff. Have you ever heated with coal? When I was young a mates parents used to burn coal in a combustion heater similar to a wood heater. They used to buy the stuff in big bags, slightly bigger than animal feed bags. Dirty stuff, but it seemed to burn well enough.

    Well, yeah, like the use of coal in those very well designed ancient braziers. Humans are pretty adaptable, so I don’t worry too much about the future, it just however might take a lot more work living than today seems to. And the best guess is good, but there are other uses the charge could have been put too – and after a couple of millennia, how would we know what they are, other than by inference.

    Speaking of which, the shed project (stage one) is banging along nicely. Hopefully next week we get back into construction. The dogs ran around the farm like crazy today, and are now all soundly asleep. Plum smells mildly a bit like dead rat, because I caught her rolling around and perfuming herself on one. This is most definitely not lady like behaviour, and I chucked the dead rat into the worm farm. She didn’t seem to mind as the deed had been done.

    An awesome question! 🙂 You have an astute and observant mind. Respect. Did you believe that I had not thought of this water pumping matter? Hehe! There will be a household water pressure pump that can run 3 outlets at once hooked up to all of those water tanks which are fed from off the roof of the shed. However, gravity tends to pull water downhill and so there are plans to create a super huge vegetable garden in the land immediately below the water tanks. Gravity may indeed do all of the work if the pump fails. 😉 Some people think that I’m half asleep, this is only half true, and it may well be that I am only half awake. The editor and I spent an entire day a month or so back considering the many issues here, and we decided after that day to make some changes. We don’t muck around.

    I totally agree with that sentiment. There is no perfect employee, and such things smack of dream house, or dream wedding etc. They’re all bound to disappoint sooner or later, or vice versa as the case may be. Interestingly, and I’d be curious as to your opinion, but I believe that tact is a personality trait which somewhat lacking in these enlightened times. And in fact I believe that it is something which is actively discouraged.

    Did you pick up Jason Sheehan’s most outstanding book? I really enjoyed his view of life in a commercial kitchen and the people who worked there. I decided to begin reading Stephen King’s book ‘On Writing’, and I’m rather enjoying the read. He has an interesting take on teaching the art of writing via the path of recounting various incidents along his way path. I had not appreciated that as an author he had come into so much criticism. It seems a bit rough.

    Writing is not a tortured experience for me, and I write what interests me, although I have to add that in the past two decades the remuneration side of that story has declined markedly. I used to enjoy seeing words in print and receiving cheques in the mail. Oh well, I made the decision long ago to write for the pleasure it brings, and our conversations are all part of this. You can’t put a price on those.

    Did H behave herself? Actually is she less anxious these days? And pray tell, what did you score? On that front, the editor is rather enamoured of some lindt Christmas chocolates, and I have been volunteered to doll them out. You’d think that such a job would be easy and simple, but no.

    Always wise to check a map beforehand and generally know where it is that you are required to go. Not much of a fan of GPS devices unless I’m seriously lost – which is a very rare situation. Your journey is all in a good cause.



  46. Yo, Chris – After a weather wise glorious day, yesterday, today the weather was positively filthy. Bahaha!!! Take THAT Santa! 🙂 We’re probably going to get a few nights of frost. About time.

    The mounds might have been logging “slash piles.” That weren’t burned, but just left to rot back into the ground. Maybe. Otherwise, got me.

    The Romans mined just about everything. Silver, gold, tin, salt, etc. etc. As far as water in mines, goes, I remembered that I had seen some ruins of an old Roman mine water wheel. Somewhere, sometime. So, a trip down the rabbit hole uncovered this …


    Just about everything you’d want to know about Roman mining and quarrying. Including a few paragraphs on water removal.

    Sea Coal was first called that, as it washed up on the shores. Later, the name was used for coal that was shipped, by sea, to London.

    The best book on coal use, at least in 17th-19th century Britain, is Ruth Goodman’s book. Kind of an esoteric topic, but, it’s Ruth. So, readable and fascinating.

    So, what’s the Plum / Ruby score for rabbits and rats? Maybe you should set up a scoreboard, to encourage them on? 🙂

    Ah! A super huge vegetable patch. I see a roadside stand or stall in a farmer’s market, in your future. Saw an article last night, that there’s been a study written that claims farmer’s markets are all about white supremacy. Didn’t read much of it, as it was all so silly.

    Is tact a personality trait? Hmmm. Nature or nurture? But, I think you’re right. Not much tact in the world, these days. So, I’d say perhaps more nurture. As back in the old days, children were encouraged to be seen, but not heard. And not to blurt out the first thing that crossed their minds. I blame Art Linkletter. From 1952 to 1970, he had a television program called, “Kids Say the Darndest Things.” Where children were encouraged to blurt out embarrassing things about their families, teachers and communities.

    I picked up “Cooking Dirty” from the library, today. Two of the employees asked that I read it fast, and, would I mind if they extended my due date. So they can read it. See what you started? 🙂

    Oh, H was her usual good as gold self. Mostly wallowed in my chair.

    I got two huge bags of food, from the cheap food store, for $18. Tuna, beef hash, diced tomatoes, and peaches for less than $1 a can. There was some quart jugs of applesauce, 3 for $1. A few other things.

    Well, I headed to the Club, slightly earlier than I usually do, and didn’t have a problem. I stayed at the Club longer than I usually do, and headed back an hour and 15 minutes, after the parade had started. Didn’t have a problem taking my usual route. The whole thing was done and dusted, by then.

    I went to the library, and, they were having a “Friends of the Library” book sale. The first since You Know What kicked into gear. I bought two bags of books @ $5 a bag. Mostly for the library here at the Institution. But, a few things for me. The Regime has started opening the community room and library, days and into the early evening. Subject to change at the drop of a hat. Lew

  47. Hi Lewis,

    Late this afternoon the hot sun was beating down upon my head (which was hiding under a broad brimmed hat). The air was cool so I broke my usual rule and continued working after a late lunch. I spread around many wheelbarrow loads of the organic matter from the chicken run. The organic matter is potent stuff and it gets applied to damaged areas of the farm in order to give the area a kick start. So, I was throwing the stuff around and then it occurred to me that the Arthur book you mentioned was written by T H White (The Once and Future King), whilst the Camulod series of books were written by a Jack Whyte. Is the name a coincidence? Dunno. Anyway, those are the thoughts which pop into my head after too many hours working in the sun. Did you decide to read the book?

    Santa will definitely get a soaking if that sort of weather continues. Have you ever noticed that depictions of Santa’s sleigh doesn’t include a seat belt, and neither does it have provision for the driver when there is wet weather. It’s like having an open top convertible and some nefarious person stole the soft-top. Hope that red suit is water repellent, or the dude might end up bedraggled and frighten the kiddies. 🙂

    Nah, although that is a good suggestion. The slash has long since burnt in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, mind you the stumps the loggers left strewn around are still hanging around like a bad smell all these decades later. The mounds were clay with a thin burnt layer. It is possible that the loggers used bulldozers to scrape piles of stumps together and we’d long since cleaned up and all that was left was the scraped together mounds of clay. There were some remains of a burnt out car in that sort of area, and the car looked like it dated back to the 1930’s / 1940’s. The rusted out steel chunks were hauled off to the scrap metal recyclers at least a decade and a half ago. It’s all a bit of a mystery really. There used to be the remains of an old potato shed near to all of that too. Nobody around that I’ve asked here knows anything about it.

    Thanks for the link to the Roman’s mining methods and labour. It is of interest that the demand for marble increased even as the economy which paid for it was in terminal decline. And the centrally owned slaves did it super tough. The thing is a lot of those mining techniques were used up until recent times.

    Hehe! Yes, I too noticed that there appeared to be some sort of rebranding effort with coal from over the seas.

    A fine book recommendation and yes, I really enjoy Ruth Goodman’s physical work as well as the presentation of the results. It’s a proper historian who will put themselves to the test!

    If you take rats into consideration, Plum is now at 2+2, whereas Ruby is only at 2 rabbits and no rats. Rats are tough customers.

    Ha! I don’t think so. We’re hitting the upper limits of the present vegetable arrangements and so was part of the recent planning session. You may find it difficult to believe, but a larger more consistently arranged growing space will be easier to maintain. The current arrangements are a bit too complicated.

    Oh, that’s not good, although I can understand how it might be amusing, but still. So the other day I noticed a bloke who had a dog which was whining. Instead of dealing with the whining, the guy gave the dog attention and kept ever more loudly saying ‘shush’, like he could rationalise with a dog. That’s crazy, but I see people doing that with kids too, so some behaviour gets normalised for sure. The other one that is weird is that occasionally when the editor and I are at a table at the pub in the public bar, some parents allow their kids to come up to our table and just holler and yammer and generally play up. It’s a public bar where adults are drinking, probably not a wise move, but it happens often enough to be noticeable. I assume you see such stuff going on in your part of the world?

    Cooking Dirty is a really great read and a wonderful insight into the business end of commercial kitchens – I’d be interested to hear whether his experience matches yours? Never worked in a commercial kitchen myself, not for any good reason, I just never thought about it as an option for mad cash. I might easily have done such work as a late teenager for some extra mad cash for sure.

    H sounds like a lady of the finest order. Happened to overhear a conversation with three older ladies the other day. They may have been attached to the local chapter of the country womens assoc, but from the talk there did seem like a lot of politicking going on – best not to be involved in such things.

    Total score. Last week the grocery bill was over $150, and there didn’t seem to be that much stuff given the cost. Yikes!

    Well done you, dodging the parade is like dodging the hordes of leaf change tourists… I hear ya man and salute your efforts! 🙂

    Good to hear that some things are beginning to get back to where they were.

    Better get writing!



  48. Hi Chris
    It’s been a while since I last visited at your blog. Every thing is going well at least on a personal level here. Our weather has been at record braking high levels throughout the late summer and fall. These conditions are not in the usual range for normal weather for the first week of December. (Below freezing to mid forties is usual )
    I hope the precipitation region wide gets into normal ranges. If not next summer will likely be a catastrophe for all northwest crops . A huge slow melting snow pack is necessary to provide viability for all the irrigated crops and rainfall is necessary for naturally watered agricultural stuff including the whole summer drought affected US west. Hopefully the northwest storage reservoirs are getting full from the winter early rains. Water over the dam is a good thing!. Canadian western storage reservoirs are a really big part of the hydro picture too,

    Looks like the fern glade farm projects are coming along well. I was interested in the recognition that crushed rock dust had the same value as fertilizer as did the rain related leachate from the crushed limestone that you have been applying all over path ways and road ways and which caused the phenomenal growth in the vegetation that was attributed to the runoff filtering through your crushed gravel.

    The idea occurred that using the rock crushing fines or better yet a slurry made with fines mixed with wash pond water then mixed with organic poop / black compost combined as a ready to use instant soil.😁😉😕 humm Hee Hee.
    Seasons Greetings!,

  49. Yo, Chris – Another supply line crisis. New York delis and bagel shops are running out of schmear! Which is a cream cheese based spread for said bagels.

    What with your ruminations on the authors Whyte / White and the workings of Santa’s sleigh, yeah, I’d say you’d been out in the sun too long 🙂 .

    Read the book? Which book? There are so many. Perhaps you mean “A Boy’s King Arthur?” I probably won’t read it. There are many other books to read, where the language wouldn’t be such slow going. I’ll content myself with gazing lovingly at the many fine illustrated plates.

    For being out in the bush, there seems to have been a lot of activity around the farm, in the past. A deep dive into the land records, might be interesting. Along with researching previous land owners. A winter’s task, I think.

    Go, Plum! The coronet is within her grasp! 🙂

    I stay out of places where there are free range children. It’s why I steer clear of some of the Club functions.

    I never cooked on a line, as in “Cooking Dirty.” I did work “front of the house,” in one place, like that. Food waiter. For three months. That was bad enough. Sure, I worked in some places that got pretty busy, but not to the degree Mr. Sheehan writes about. I read a few chapters, last night. I think I’ve read the book, before. I know I’ve never interlibrary loaned it. So, the only thing I can figure is that our library system must have had it at some point, and either lost or retired their copies. I’ll read it, again.

    I really liked one of the aphorisms, at the beginning of the book. “What matters is what you don’t know. That’s where they’ll get you.” Said by Patricia Calhoun (who?) who is apparently an editor and actor, in Colorado. I like some of Sheehan’s turns of phrase. As when a cook doesn’t show up, because he’s died. Due to “complications of lifestyle.” They ought to make that an official reason for death classification.

    In an odd twist of fate, I also picked up “The Best American Food Writing, 2021.” I read the forward and introduction, last night. Looks like it covers the beginning of You Know What and recent political upheavals. I’ll set it aside, until I finish the Sheehan.

    My weekly grocery bill is about $40 dollars. But then, I don’t have a spouse and three dependents. 🙂 But I probably spend more, as that doesn’t cover bulk purchases that I make over the internet. Pounds and pounds of sunflower seeds and dried cranberries, etc.. Lew

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