How can I make it OK

The guy looked kind of familiar. He was delivering some supplies for the new shed project. The supplies were 6m long (almost 20ft in length) and I had no other way of bringing the items back to the farm. Curiosity got the better of me: ‘Didn’t you deliver materials here a dozen years ago?’ And he replied with ‘Yup’, before then taking a good look around and going on to say: ‘Don’t you ever stop.’ It wasn’t a question.

In recent weeks the Editor might have suggested that I’ve been a little bit tense over the uncertainty and complexities surrounding obtaining materials for the new shed project. And during that time we’ve been constructing the thing, we’ve also been working on paid work, maintaining the farm and trying to take some days off. I’d like to imagine that I’ve been as cool as a cucumber – it’s certainly possible that this was the case.

However, the truth is, I have been concerned that I might not be able to obtain the materials for the new shed project. And the costs are coming in at about 40% more than I’d anticipated. It’s like being stuck in a bad episode of Grand Designs UK and the cheeky presenter is asking the tough questions: So what was the budget? And how did it end up?

So, the delivery bloke spoke the truth – the Editor and I haven’t stopped for many weeks now. Obtaining some of the materials has been an interesting, expensive and sometimes complicated experience. It also doesn’t help that the state government is requiring people to wear masks due to the health subject which dares not be named.

Masks on summer days, can’t live with them

The concept of wearing masks is usually sold by the government as a small impost. On stonking hot summer days, wearing a mask is an abominable experience.

The warehouse was seriously long and the summer sunlight poured in from the tall openings at either end. The Dirt rat Suzuki and bright yellow trailer took up almost no space at all. Truck bay number five was now in use by yours truly. Whilst standing next to the trailer, I spoke with the warehouse guy. He didn’t make any pretence at wearing a mask, but I could not take such liberties. So much for a small impost. Sweat was dripping from my forehead and into my eyes. And the mask was damp. Gawd, with all that sweat, I hope the bloke didn’t think that I was ill, if only because he might decide not to supply the steel. Knowingly, he said to me: ‘Usually the air blows through the warehouse, but not today.’ Lucky me. To take my mind off my discomfit I said to the warehouse bloke: ‘Mate this is the best warehouse layout I’ve seen for a long while.’ Hearing that cheered him up, despite the heat. He then told me that the new management a few years ago allowed the warehouse guys to rearrange the warehouse, and it took more than a few weekends of work. It was a great layout. The steel was loaded onto the trailer and I was quickly on my way, and relieved to be rid of the mask.

In hot weather, mandating masks for hours on end is an act of cruelty. Recently, I’d been offered some reasonable paying work, although it is a long work day. In the past with this job I’d begun at 7am and finished at 11pm. I quite enjoy the work, and speaking with the public for hours on end is no hardship for a person as chatty as myself. But if I have to wear a mask on such a long work day, no amount of pay is enough for that torture. Technically speaking, they can go f!@# themselves and find someone else to do the work.

Turns out that others feel much the same. During a recent walk in the inner suburbs it was not hard to spot the ‘help wanted’ signs.

Having trouble staffing businesses

I now know more than a few restaurants that are having serious troubles staffing their businesses. Many no longer open seven days a week, and some are spontaneously not even opening for some shifts – especially lunch shifts. It is not hard these days to spot the owners having to muck in and wait on tables. Generally the staff look run off their feet to me. And they’re all required to wear masks. It’s cruel and it’s pushing people out of the industry. But for all I know, that might be the desired outcome of the policy? The thing is though, if the staff and customers have all been double vaccinated (which they have to be in this State), then it seems like an arbitrary requirement.

Most people I know are reasonably understanding about the situation and respond gracefully to the circumstances. But there are always a few people though who are oblivious to the experiences of the people who are serving them, and to those people I say: to be patient is just a small impost.

Another week, another bunch of truly odd weather. Some days were warm and sunny, whilst other days would challenge the faith of the true believers that solar power will save industrial civilisation.

The sun sets as storm clouds gather

It wouldn’t be this crazy ‘year without a summer’ unless there were a couple of days of foggy weather. Fortunately there were a couple of days of foggy weather.

Ollie enjoys the aromatic scents of compost

On Thursday the sun did finally produce some warmth. The Editor and I used the fine weather to construct the remaining half of the roof trusses for the new shed project. These were then installed onto the shed frame.

The author at work on the shed project

Heavy duty steel strapping is used to tie all of the roof trusses to the timber posts. The strapping is a very clever arrangement and has some neat tensioning devices. The farm was directly hit by a minor tornado on Christmas Day many years ago, so I like to ensure that the roof on any structure we construct is well anchored to the ground. It seems only prudent.

There is a lovely symmetry to buildings

Some of the materials for this shed were recovered from the shed which we deconstructed last week. The demolition work produced a lot of chunks of concrete which had been used to anchor the timber posts to the ground. Most people would discard those chunks of concrete, but we have other ideas for them. The chunks of concrete are perfect fill for a new set of concrete stairs.

The first step for a new set of concrete stairs was poured on Saturday.

The first step in a new set of stairs was poured this week

Saturday was hot, and it was the third growing day (a day in excess of 30’C / 86’F) for this season. Not a bad effort given that we are only a few days out from the summer solstice. Anyway, the cement set very quickly on that hot day. This is a good thing because the dogs have this odd inclination to attempt to sign their paw prints in wet cement.

Sunday, well, it turned cold and rainy again. This was the perfect weather to cut up the Moby (body) rock. Long term readers will recall that during excavation works a few months ago, we unearthed a bonkers hard rock. Most of the granite on the farm is easily worked with the right tools, but not that rock. It was special.

Being a specially tough rock, required especially tough tools. The inner twelve year old in me wanted to get someone in to blow the rock up, but unfortunately that required an excavator. Getting such a machine into the site would be too difficult. We scratched our heads wondering about how to deal with the rock, when the local equipment hire bloke suggested getting in a special blade. It sounded expensive, and was just that. But we thought that we’d give it a go anyway.

The author looking clean and cutting into the Moby (body) rock

That was one of the dirtiest jobs that I’ve undertaken for a very long time. The blade was cooled with water and so there was not much dust, but there sure was a lot of mud.

Now in gumboots and having cut deeply into the Moby (body) rock

The blade was 16 inches in diameter and could make deep cuts into the rock. I crisscrossed the surface of the rock and then used the electric jackhammer to remove the chunks.

The demolition process also involved the electric jackhammer

In between the rain storms, the sun shone. The demolition process produced quite a number of irregularly sized granite bricks.

It wasn’t a quick, clean or easy job

I spent many hours slowly reducing the size of the Moby (body) rock. But eventually, the job was completed.

Ruby wonders: Hey dude, where’s my rock?

In breaking produce news, the little Issai kiwi berry vines have produced some tiny fruit. The four vines are about two years old now, and I’ll be curious to compare how the smaller variety taste. The larger variety of kiwi fruit are very productive vines here, even in cold and wet summers, and so I have high hopes for the smaller variety.

Very early and tiny Issai kiwi fruit on the vine

Onto the flowers:

The hot day caused the roses to bloom
Geraniums are a favourite of mine and they can produce a wall of flowers
And Geraniums are super colourful
European poppies grow through some of the garden beds

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 18’C (64’F). So far this year there has been 1,218.8mm (48.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,213.4mm (47.8 inches)

56 thoughts on “How can I make it OK”

  1. Yo, Chris – Nice comment from the Delivery Guy. Someone who knows the before and after. Nothing wrong with a bit of a cheering section.

    I’m sure you would have come up with something, even if you couldn’t get exactly the materials you wanted for the mead hall. Your mantra for today is: “I am resourceful.” 🙂 . And, you are. You’ve illustrated that, time and again.

    It’s promising that the new management turned the warehouse guys loose, to figure out their own arrangements. That’s a story you don’t hear very often. I notice he said “a few years ago.” Apparently, they don’t have a problem with staff retention. Fancy that.

    In the news here is a well known pizza chain, that fired a manager who had been with them for 12 + years. He closed three hours early, as he had no staff. That won’t go over well, with the chattering classes.

    I can’t say our weather is odd. Except it seems like we just haven’t had a good hard frost, yet. Sure, our coldest weather comes after the first of the year. But we usually have SOME good hard frosts, by now.
    Also in the news is the “Doomsday Glacier,” down in the antarctic. All kinds of dire predictions, of what will happen when that baby tears loose.

    All those nice piles of compost and wood chips, right next to the road. A nefarious person could cart it right off. (Looking at you, neighbor.) I know of some nice old Albanian ladies, who might be convinced to throw a bit of an evil eye. 🙂 .

    The “symmetry” photo. I’d say Ollie is supervising. But he brought a Walt Whitman poem, to mind. (“Song of Myself”.) “I lean and loafe at my ease … observing a spear of summer grass.”

    Looks like a good start to the stairway. Moby Rock, we hardly knew ye. In the gumboots picture, it looks like a wonky loaf of bread. I suppose you’ll use those nice stone chips, as stuffing for the stairs?

    All the flowers are very nice, but, wow!, those roses are a knockout.

    I now have a cheesemonger. Stilton cheese is on the way. Interesting. Some Stilton comes with dried fruit. Blueberries, lemon, apricot and pear, were mentioned. I’m old school. I’ll stick with the unsullied. Lew

  2. Hi Inge,

    I wouldn’t have predicted the current turn of events, let alone the hysteria.

    Hehe! Post boxes are generally there for the ease of delivery of the item. They serve a functional purpose and visual amenity concerns are perhaps a trifle pretentious (that is my guess at the motivation for the move). And you can only wonder whatever were they thinking?

    Quantitative easing has err, eased the lives of some folks. Jokes aside, there is truth to that pithy observation. But yes, the worst social encounters I have had in these parts are with new money folks. Most are pretty well adjusted to the social niceties, but some have something to prove. Incidentally one of the reasons we moved out of the big smoke was because the previously bohemian suburb became over run with aspirational folks. It wasn’t always thus.

    I wish it were not so, as it creates a lack of vision for the future. You see, people who have won the lotto believe that they are somehow special, when all they did was win the lotto. And I’ve heard that the vast majority lose the gains from the win.



  3. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Well rural living does present certain challenges, but I am generally very polite around here to people who can return that act of good grace. I’m sure you know what I mean.

    Oh you’re good. Yes, those old engines are rather adaptable, and don’t generally come with a bunch of computers that might crack the sads over the lack of urea additive (no need to name names here).

    The funny thing is that I’m getting used to adapting to the crazy climate variability. That sounds weird, but I’m now watching the seasons closer and adapting the planting in various ways such as spacing and watering. You can adapt. I’m sure things are getting a bit odd in your part of the world too?

    Screws over nails, and heavy duty corrosion protected screws too. These things are monsters and are rated to cope with treated timbers (Copper, Chrome and Arsenic treated).

    My pleasure, and how good are the poppies? They’re real givers and turn up every year regardless of the conditions.



  4. Hi Margaret,

    It’s funny but tonight I was yakking with some friends about livestock shelters. Yours are good. I assume that Doug uses a tractor or the gator to pull the shelter around the place? My mates of the big shed fame use almost identical looking pig shelters too, except they’re on skids and the tractor hauls them around.

    My mate I was speaking with tonight, has sheep by the way, but for some reason doesn’t want to purchase a tractor. Have you got any idea if there are any portable small animal shelters that might suit someone without a tractor? That question was outside my experience. I’d have a barn and herd them into that during really hot or really cold weather, but that’s me.

    Ooo! The heat lamp is a good idea especially in those circumstances. A mate of mine has castrated pigs and he always mimes the movement to occasionally make me feel uncomfortable for a few cheap laughs, but he’s very respectful of the animals he has and doesn’t enjoy that side of things. It seems that it is a swift action. Far out, the little piglets would be like the Kelpie girls were a few weeks back (but maybe not as bad), but still there’d be serious stress which would weaken them. Smart thinking.

    Good to hear that Gwen is doing well and recovering and will join you with Marty. Yes, things are ramping up. Our Deputy Prime Muppet managed to contract it and was apparently largely unaffected. By all accounts he allegedly seemed more disturbed at being sidelined. It’s rough if things work out that way, especially at this time of the year.

    Hehe! My mates are smitten with the goat breed and so I’ll get to meet them over the next few weeks. Should be interesting and I’ll ask them about the most fightenest goats in town biz! 🙂



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, the delivery guy is a good guy and works for a local business, so we had a brief chat about things. He did seem like he was looking forward to the holidays. People are a bit strung out down here due to being in epi-centre of super crazy stuff for the past almost two years now.

    Hehe, well I’d like to think that I’m resourceful. Actually I had a Plan B for some of the materials as there are still a few old school house wrecking yards around, and they’re usually pretty good folks who run them. One thing they’re not nowadays is cheap, but what is nowadays?

    I’m glad you noticed that, and I was kind of wondering if you were ever let loose in the book store biz (other than your own) and was able to set things out as you needed? I mean those guys worked that side of the warehouse biz and they knew how the materials were moving around and how trucks, cars and trailers were getting loaded up. They’re the ones to ask, not the arm chair theorists. I often wonder about this when people talk about farm plans – I’m yet to ask someone if they’ve implemented their ideas…

    Thanks for the pizza sacking news. What stuck out to me was that he’d allegedly organised a 55 hour cap for himself. And reading that I wondered… Those are some brutal laws in that expensive area. Hope they pay well to match the costs?

    Chunks of Antarctica have been slipping into the ocean for a while now. Actually quite a while. Yeah, if they’re in the ocean and break away – no probs from an immediate sea level rise. But if they slip off the land. Ook! And the dark land underneath warms up as does ice free oceans. It’s complex, but not all that very hard to understand the why of it. Rating out ten. Not good ten level. Yup.

    Possibly, but I’m betting that people are too lazy to pilfer the stuff. I could be wrong, but nobody around here gardens diverse edibles at a serious level. That’s a serious worry, and I wish it were not so. However, I met someone recently around these parts that has some edibles. I’ll slowly develop things and see where it goes. Sooner or later things will change on that front, but for now people seem pretty well fed.

    And that is why Ollie is as lovely as he is. 🙂 I daydream a bit too, but usually my day dreaming time is sitting in the bath looking out over the view and cogitating upon the world. I get the best ideas in that space. 🙂 Showers should come with a mental health warning: This device may cause a permanent lack of relaxation and meditation time and lead to mental health issues – you were warned. Imagine that warning?

    Hey, the stone chips are like little granite bricks. Haven’t worked out what to do with them all yet, but they’ll probably add into a gabion or a staircase. They’re kind of perfect for stairs. Incidentally the space will be used to grow a selection of vines. Passionfruit, hops and kiwi fruit. I’m reluctant to let that lot loose in the orchards.

    The roses are producing more flowers every week. And most of them were also chosen for their aroma, so it smells nice in those garden beds too.

    Speaking of which, last week when we went into the city, the gardens were dead to insects. That was so weird to see. Up here things jump with life and so the difference was very stark.

    Yeah, stick to the basics. Stilton has a strong flavour, so it probably doesn’t need the assistance.

    Sorry mate, will speak tomorrow. I’m guilty of chatting tonight. It happens and sometimes I disappoint even myself! 🙂 Not really, it was a fun chat.



  6. Hello Chris
    I agree with your delivery guy. On the other hand, you would have to change the supposed purpose of your blog if you stopped.

    That shed looks far larger than I had initially realised, it is beginning to look great.

    I am back to just doing survival shopping as masks have become obligatory again.

    Have just remembered that we had a second man here with old money many years ago. I found him very interesting. Top aristocracy and linked to royalty. He had been born completely deaf in the days when such were confined to an institution. He was sent to his grandmother’s estate where he ran completely wild and taught nothing until he was about 20.
    When he told me this, I pointed to a baby in a pram nearby and said ‘like that?’. He said ‘No’ and pointed to a bird in the sky and said ‘Like that’.


  7. Hi, Chris!

    Screws – you did not disappoint me.

    Yeah – building supplies have gone way up again here, too. We have a sawmill near us and my son has made a deal with them to buy some of their seconds quite cheap. It’s really high-end timber, a lot of it beautiful and durable.

    I can hardly breathe with a mask on. Luckily, things are more lax here and not everyone wears one. I keep one hanging on my ears in case I need to pull it up. I seldom go into town now anyway.

    All of the restaurant managers that we have talked to are short-staffed, and they all say it is because of government payouts. Too many people at a certain income level can make more money by not working. That is what I hear, anyway; don’t know if it’s true.

    Ha, ha! A fortress set up around the drying concrete.

    As ever, thank you for the flowers. You have roses blooming in my December, and I could swear that last year, in your December, you had roses blooming, also.


  8. Yo, Chris – Well, when I worked in the chain bookstores, everything was pre-planned, right down to the inch. 🙂 . The first 20 feet of the store was called the “Golden” 20 feet. That included the cash wraps. Every week, we’d get layouts of what to put where. You see, publishers gave better discounts, if their stuff was “featured.” A bit forced, but, it did keep things looking fresh. The rest of the layout of the store was pretty standard. Fiction on the right, non-fiction on the left, kid’s books in the back. The idea being that, being a nationwide chain, if you walked into one store, then another, you could navigate your way around, pretty easy. If you wanted to make changes, you could run it by your regional manager. But you’d better have it pretty well thought out. I really didn’t find it onerous.

    Interesting that the pizza manager, put a 55 hour cap on his hours. I know nothing of pizza chains, but, retail chain management is pretty much salaried positions. So, if you figure out your hourly wage … sometimes it can be pretty grim. When I managed, I tried to keep it to 40 hour weeks. And, if I worked over 40 a week, I could maybe take the odd hour off, here and there. But during the holidays, all bets were off. 80 hour weeks were not unheard of.

    Interesting to see how the local edibles story, will play out. I wonder about Ye Olde Days. I bet even the hill stations, at the wealthy end of your range, grew a lot of their own veg and fruit.

    Hmmm. If you’re going to put a lot of vines in the old firewood space, maybe pop in a bench? An arbor? It might make a nice little cozy retreat.

    Maybe the insects prefer the bush, to the city? Probably better tucker.

    I bought some “Old Croc” Australian cheese, yesterday. Spreadable sharp cheddar with peppers and bacon. Pretty tasty. I also picked up some English sharp cheddar. Veg rennet. Also tasty. Had some melted on popcorn. While watching “The Werewolf Within.” Which is a comedy. Not bad, but, could have been better. Too many scenes of people yelling at each other and talking over one another.

    This morning when I walked H, I heard an odd bird call. We were up under the grafted apple tree. For some reason, one variety of apple has held on. Even with all the wind we’ve had. Turns out it was a woodpecker, industriously working over the fruit. And then a hummingbird showed up, and was plunging his sharp little beak in.

    I’m going to make ginger cookies, today. The kind you use cookie cutters on. I’ve got all kinds of Christmas cutters. But, I discovered I was very low on all purpose flour, and, powdered ginger. So, I made a trip to the store that has most of the Bob’s Red Mill. Prices are up. A five pound bag of all purpose flour was marked $12+. With a sign that said “temporary price reduction.” But what I noticed is, when it was rung up, it came in at $7+. I see they have 25 pound bags for $40 some dollars. I’ll pick one up, after Christmas.

    That store is an old independent, that’s been around since the 1940s. It changed hands, a couple of years ago. Prices are generally higher. Lew

  9. Hello Chris,

    Warm greetings for your summer solstice celebration to you and the Editor. Up here on the northern half, we have now the longest night of the year, and if we don’t heave a glass of mead, the days won’t regain their former length and strength. At least that’s what I heard, and I won’t take the chance by skipping a sip.

    The kiwiberries (‘Issai’ and friends) are in my palate superior to the fuzzy kiwifruit. Here in Holland, they are flowering a bit too early, often annoyed by the last frosty nights of May. I know a commercial grower who has a kind of roofing-cloth that he can roll out above the vines to protect them in that stage. I did have not yet done that here, so we can only harvest every other year…

    Your shedflation cost of +40% is probably only partly due to misunderestimation of the price. Here the QE-debacle is starting to materialize as well. I am not at all happy that our central bank keeps printing like there is no tomorrow. Last Thursday they announced that they would actually double the speed of the (digital) printing press. (And they announced happily that it has no impact on inflation, promise!)

    Now is a season for taking cuttings, and I made a few hundred cuttings of kiwiberry of four varieties, to propagate. I don’t like to work with rooting hormone, but I am trying different kinds of heat mats this year to see if I can improve rooting success. I’ll let you know.


  10. Chris,

    Thanks for the suggestion to run Big Bertha every few months during the warm season. This summer is also the year to do some maintenance on Bertha. For now, Bertha is running like a champ.

    I made the mistake of looking at the long-range forecast which goes out 15 days. After the typical thaw, rain, freeze, snow, thaw, freeze, snow, it appears that after Christmas we will get some “modified” Arctic air and have low temperatures approaching -16C for several days. This means that some of the high temperatures won’t climb above -10C. So much for growing coffee or tea here!

    Yes, Las Cruces had low humidity. But the evaporative coolers had a rotating sponge that dipped through a water reservoir. There was a fan behind the sponge, so that wet air was added to an already hot room. The air temperature was unchanged, but it raised the indoor humidity to intolerable levels. I chose not to use the monstrosity.

    I feel your pain with the masks in the heat in spacious surroundings. Once the mask is wet it adds to the misery. I remember building asbestos containments in 30C air temperatures. Some of the structure was outdoors in the direct sun. Once we got the framework enclosed in plastic, it was beyond miserable. And we had to wear long sleeve Tyvek suits with hoods, as well as a respirator with both dust and chemical cartridges. We went through a LOT of gatorade.

    Many of our restaurants are also having difficulty retaining staff. From the staff I’ve mentioned this to, it’s a matter of extremely rude and sometimes violent patrons, low pay, overwork, and said rude patrons refusing to leave tips. Career restaurant staff has quit in droves. Some patience and kindness is a small impost.

    Ahhh, if you are, indeed, having a year without a summer, then the fog makes things right. After all, for many of us, fog does not exist in the summer. So, congrats on the foggy days that lent support to your unsummer hypothesis.

    Your projects are coming along nicely. While I liked that particular Moby rock, it did need to be knocked down to size. The framing of the shed looks good. Avalanche can sympathize with Ruby about the missing rock. With Avalanche, however, it is missing chew sticks. I had an outdoor fire burning for a few hours while outdoors with her a few days ago. She thinks the firewood is really her stash of chewables. She gave me the stink eye every time she saw me add a few sticks to the fire.

    Your flowers are looking spectacular. Hopefully you take the time to stop and enjoy them?


  11. Hi Inge,

    🙂 Yes, imagine Fernglade’s Armchair theorist sessions 101. I tend to show by example. There are of course other ways, and if people believe those are OK then that is their issue.

    Thanks and hopefully the shed is suitable for our needs. The longer I spend at this farm business, the more I appreciate excess shed space – and I desperately need a proper workbench.

    Masks at shopping have never gone away down here. It’s brutal on a hot day, and the people who do the afternoon shift on such days suffer terribly. Incidentally, the rules are so weird that say in a restaurant the customers don’t have to wear a mask, but the staff do. That sadly sends a strong message which I am uncomfortable with. There are many elements pushing agendas right now to completely stuff up Christmas, and I am losing the last vestiges of support for those numpties. Fortunately we are having both state and federal elections next year.

    What an interesting character. I assume that he could lip read? That’s the thing too, just because a person has no hearing, doesn’t imply that they are stupid. I’d imagine that the bloke had an interesting take on the world? Were you able to converse with him with more complicated subjects?



  12. Hi Pam,

    Nails have their place, and we used galvanised framing nails extensively in the house timber frame, but the shed probably needs something more, and that is where the screws come in. For your info, they are Type 17 Screws 3 inches long. Very strong.

    Well done to your son. Very canny, it probably runs in the blood? 🙂 I tend to believe that this is how the future will operate, but it also happened in the past too. I didn’t mention it at the time but the with the timber order I was originally told ‘no’. Interestingly, the bloke who owns the place is I believe good mates with my former neighbour who I was hopefully on good terms with. Anyway, the following day the call came through and ‘no’ became a ‘yes’ – which I was grateful for. Dunno if calls were made, but it’s very possible.

    Pam, they really do want to leave their paw prints for posterity!

    Possibly so. 😉 There are a lot of roses.



  13. Hi Goran,

    And greetings to you too and may your winter solstice be uneventful. Soon the days will be getting longer as time marches on its way. And I salute your fine choice of mead which is consumed for good reasons (and we have a very smooth aged five year old batch of mead – it’s good, but well, there’s a story as to why it doesn’t end up at the table). Very wise to leave nothing to chance in this instance. I may well enjoy a ginger wine myself. Incidentally the ginger tubers haven’t sprouted yet – despite being in the greenhouse.

    Ah, thank you for the feedback on the little Issai kiwi fruit as I had wondered about them, and you never see the fruit for sale. On a serious note a New Zealand friend alerted me to the fact that the skin on the furry variety is edible, and I’ve been eating them that way for years, but it’s not for everyone. Most people peel them, but I’d imagine that a lot of minerals and nutrients are in the furry skins.

    And hey, my apricot trees suffer from that late frost fate. Some years they work, and then there are years like this one. Still, I have a hunch that it is wise to attempt to plant plants just outside their natural range because the effort itself can be quite rewarding and occasionally surprising. Citrus are another fruit tree which is right on the margins here.

    I totally agree with you in relation to the QE debacle. I read an eminent professor of the subject of economics recently suggesting that yours and my point of view has been debunked. I am not a believer in that debunking possibility. The Great Depression produced lots of goods but money was in short supply. We may find out the extreme other side of that spectrum where there is plenty of money, but few things to purchase. That’s my best guess at this stage.

    I understand your reluctance with the use of hormones, but I read somewhere years ago that willow water provides a similar boost to cuttings. It would be worth running the experiment. Once I’m done with the infrastructure (a while to go on that) I’ll definitely begin expanding the orchards, berries, tubers and vegetables. It’s on the to-do list.



  14. Hi DJ,

    🙂 A little bit of preventative maintenance goes a long way. Actually the mechanic jokingly suggested that with a combination of fuel stabiliser and every two months running the small engines until they get up to operating temperature, that he’d be out of a job. Small chance of that though. I’m hoping that with the new shed layout, it will be easier to do just that with the machines.

    Holy carp DJ! Mate, I don’t know much, but with weather like that, I do know that things will sure get cold for you and your lady soon. Brr! I look forward to updates. Tea and coffee, well they’ll be toast (sorry for the bad food pun).

    That makes sense about the machines. A rotating sponge arrangement would also be very inefficient. How could there not be gaps between the sponges and so the temperature would pulse. I believe that the one I purchased works like a filter and the water is pumped to the top of the filter and then gravity slowly pulls the water back down again. Of course some water will be lost to the atmosphere in the room, how could it not? The hot summer days here are usually on the drier side because the air is pulled down from the centre of the continent – and it is arid up there (maybe not so much this year). It’s not a desert (although some parts are), just more of an arid country.

    The minimum wage here is higher than your part of the world, but costs here are notably higher so it would be hard to compare between the two. It’s rare to see or hear rude customers, but even so I’m sure it happens. And interestingly, tipping is not really part of the custom down here, but meals are far more expensive I’m guessing. It would not be unusual to spend between $70 and $100 on dinner nowadays for two meals and two drinks. Costs have increased significantly of late.

    Thanks. Even in drought years you can have summer foggy nights where the fog sits like a blanket over the mountain range (which is predominantly forested). I assume that the trees transpire moisture, but don’t really understand the process. When the sun rises, the fog burns away, but during the night you can hear the moisture dripping from the leaves – and it may not have rained for many weeks at that stage. And moisture collects on the steel roof of the house and drips into the water tanks in the morning (not much, but if you were thirsty).

    The Moby (body) rock was asking for it. Truly, the rock started it, and it wasn’t my fault. 🙂

    Let’s just say that Avalanche may have more fluffy in her than we previously imagined! The fluffies likewise enjoy chewing on sticks. A notably cheap way to keep their teeth clean, and more importantly, sharp. Avalanche practice that look and one day, more treats shall be yours, but remember this one little lesson: Don’t over do it, nobody likes a sulking it’s socks off kind of canine.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, I had not appreciated the size of the book chain. But I can see that about the familiarity for the customer. When I lived in the inner suburbs, I used to really enjoy hanging out at the Borders store, and never left the place empty handed. The sheer volume of stock meant that I’d always find something that piqued my curiosity. The place was like a spatial anomaly in that you’d venture into the anomaly and then depart hours later wondering where the time had disappeared. And I wasn’t the only person doing that… Funnily enough after a day in the big smoke today, we stopped past the place where that Borders store used to be – it’s now a very sparkly and really interesting cafe (which used to be around the corner from there). I’d heard a rumour that the cafe was moved into the former Borders store because the owner of the building which the business used to inhabit jacked up the rent past their desire to pay – and so the business moved. If you’re interested (and the images are well worth it) try a gargle search for “brunetti classico carlton images”. I didn’t give you a link in case your laptop was sucked into a spatial anomaly. Spatial anomalies suck, unlike the mini cake and coffee we enjoyed before dinner (gourmet burgers and chips). I probably won’t be going into the city for a few weeks now so one must live it up whilst they can do so.

    As we get nearer to the end of year brief summer break (although I have some paid work every week – yes, yes, done something bad in a past life and all that) I am starting to feel a little bit on the tired side and am looking forward to the break from paid work. A persons profession works odd changes upon their brain. I’m sure you noticed such things with long term librarians? Hey did you ever come across librarians who wanted to work with the books, but the public were a bit of a problem to achieve that book goal? I used to believe that accounting was about numbers and systems, and it is to an extent, but it really is mostly about people.

    Mate, perhaps that 55 hour thing stuck out like a sore thumb for me because I once long ago got wrapped up in that salary position must work all hours mentality. Nobody can keep that up for too long, and unlike your hour here or hour there and mostly 40 hour weeks, I experienced that the flexibility usually only went in one direction. I didn’t work there for very long as it was exploitative. The pain was real. 🙂

    The other problem I really had in not giving myself over to a job was that I pursued making money on fixing up derelict houses on the side, and the time pressures between the two income streams became too great for me to manage.

    It’s funny you mention that, but your supposition is correct. The old hill station gardens had orchards, and berry beds and vegetable patches. They were kept just a bit out of sight and I guess I display my social status by having such things right outside the kitchen. Incidentally at the bottom of the mountain, they used to have a dairy which supplied the residents. There have been so many changes over the past century and the more I read about the history of the area, the more I understand that at one point there were a lot wider varieties of skills keeping the locals in good order. Mostly what as survived are the old gardens – sans orchards (although there are some remaining orchards for people with eyes to see).

    I like how your mind works with the bench seat.

    Nope, the city is increasingly a dead zone to other forms of life.

    Man, grass fed cheddar cheese sounds like heaven to my taste buds. Yum! I’m assuming that old croc refers to a pottery or ceramic crock and not a crocodile? Oh no, it was a crocodile. The advertising looked like fun – the cheese in my beard indeed. 🙂

    Lot’s of yelling reflects very poorly upon the script writers and actors. It’s hard to have dialogue when everyone is in a high state of emotion. And who can stand to listen to them braying?

    The birds will leave nothing to waste. It doesn’t surprise me that apples are still on the tree at this time of year. Are there any left? I’d imagine that they’d be a sweeter apple variety as the tree would have had longer to harvest the sunlight and produce sugars. But don’t know and am only guessing. All apples are useful fruit.

    Double secret yummo! Ginger cookies are very tasty. How did they turn out? Good score on the flour too. Handy work. All purpose is a goodie variety. I stick to the higher protein flour these days as well as the continuing experiments with spelt flours. They’re good for baking.

    The independents often don’t have the purchasing power to ‘cliff’ suppliers. A revolting practice, but it apparently happens. Best to not be dependent on those players. I shop at an independent too, and yes I agree with your observation.

    Me falling asleep at the keyboard. Have. To. Go… To…… Bed…… Sleep………. Is…………… Calling………………………….. Me………………………….



  16. Hello Chris
    Full agreement here, showing by example is always the best way to go.
    I didn’t get much of a chance to talk with the afore mentioned man, He lived on an estate where I was a live in maid of all work. I worked a six and a half hour week.
    He could indeed lip read and to an amazing extent. He could do it even if he only saw the side of ones face. Many people disliked him and thought him to be stupid (strange how some don’t like difference). They would speak rudely about him in his presence and this used to worry me because I would note the expression on his face. I don’t think that he was safe if he got angry. He had history in this respect. Was banned from having a knife of any kind. This amused me as his walls were hung with every imaginable kind of blade!

    He was very grubby, doubt that he ever had a bath. This was over 60 years ago before showers were used here. I tried to do something about this and had one amusing tiny success. he was in the scouting movement and one day when he was dressed to go to one of there meetings, he showed me that he had washed his knees. I guess that I gave laughing approval.

    One time, the lady of the house told me that he wouldn’t let anyone change his sheets and she reckoned that they had been on his bed for a year. I said that I would do it. I walked in and told him that I had come to change his sheets. He stood meekly aside and the job was done. You should have seen those sheets, they were the colour of mahogany.


  17. Have you mentioned what’s up with the tails of your trusses having varied lengths? Inquiring minds want to know.

    I’ve been cracking out hazelnuts and trying recipes, most of which involve things like maple syrup and cinnamon or chocolate. All the kids will be able to be here for Christmas, so we’ll need plenty of snacky things.

    That and helping out at the local food pantry for those in need. Numbers are way up in the last year.

    The future is murky. “Difficult to see. Always in motion is the future” as the little green guy said.

  18. Yo, Chris – Happy solstice, to us! It’s all downhill, from here. And, we may have a white Christmas. Or, maybe the day after. We’ll see. And, the big news, “that awful woman” is retiring. The boss of our building manager, who did all the changes. I do wish we had been on the scene, when karma finally catches up to her. I don’t wish her well. I happened to get the flyer, from our building manager. I’m afraid I made some inappropriate noises. :-). Whoops and hollers.

    Brunetti is very handsome and stylish. So’s the food.

    Well, you’ll get a few breaks, coming up. Christmas, Boxing Day, New Years. You need them. You’ve been going flat out, for awhile now.

    Computers get in the way, more than people, when it comes to librarians achieving book goals. One children’s librarian I know quit, because she said she signed on to work with books and kids. Not spend all her time fiddling with computers. But I think I mentioned that librarians who don’t have to work with the public have more status, than those that do work with the public.

    There are still dozens of apples, clinging to that tree. They’re yellow. Might be Golden Delicious. Once again, they were buggy, this year. I do need to do more about that.

    Well, the ginger biscuits. I tried to do the cookie cutter thing, and ended up with flour, everywhere. And generally, everything was a sticky mess. So, I finally threw in the towel and just rolled the dough into balls and flattened them out. I think they’re pretty tasty, but, haven’t heard from anyone else, yet.

    I watched some more of “My Life is Murder,” last night. Who knew New Zealand had a bird called “Morepork.” AKA ruru AKA Tasmanian Spotted owl. Captain Kirk had a little cameo, in one episode. Played an old roue, hitting on our detective, Ms. Lawless. Type casting? 🙂 Lew

  19. Chris,

    I enjoyed the pun. I speak fluent pun. Have pun, will travel. Punadin. (Gaggle: Have gun, will travel card. That should lead to several pictures of the card Paladin used in the old western, Have Gun, Will Travel.) I know, this is bordering on PUNishment.

    Our state’s minimum wage is higher than most. However, restaurant servers and some other restaurant staff have a MUCH lower minimum wage, as they are expected to more than make up the difference via tips. I would rather pay more up front, not have the tipping debacle. One local restaurant adds 18% to your tab for the tip, then strongly suggests that one tip an additional 15% to 20%!?!

    I assume that Wednesday afternoon through most of Thursday that there will be a lot of dripping from the ceiling of the patio. It will be about +4C with rain on top of the snow we currently have. That tends to gather on the underside of the patio roof and eventually drip onto the patio. Or into the unsuspecting mug of coffee that is on the patio table. 😉

    It is ALWAYS the fault of the Moby rock. Always. It’s a physical law almost as strong as Newton’s laws of motion.

    Avalanche says:
    My teeth are sharp,
    My jaws are strong;
    I chew on the unwary.
    I’ll tear your gloves
    And rip your shirt
    Of results I am uncaring.

    She thinks that is a good message for the Fluffy Collective. I think it’s merely droll Doggerel.

    She got out of sorts Monday for some reason, didn’t want to go down the 3 steps to get outside. She got extra attention and praises and play time with papa Tuesday. Papa is tired, but was able to get some indoor maintenance projects done also. Plus normal chores. Chop wood, carry water. She is much better tonight.

    We had fog this afternoon. At -5C, fog is bad. It congealed on the roads, leaving a slick on the roads prior to more snow falling. Glad I don’t have to go anywhere. Freezing fog causes problems. About 15 years ago, most of the eastern half of the state had freezing fog for over a week. Although it was very picturesque, the ice buildup took out a lot of power lines. The entire towns of Creston and Wilbur were in the dark for days. Nasty, it was during a cold snap also. Driving through those towns was surreal.


  20. Hi Inge,

    Over many years I’ve encountered quite a number of people who insist upon exhorting others to undertake activities. Some of those folks rely upon excessive repetition of demands to get what they want. I’m not much impressed by such folks, and in fact actively avoid their demands through all manner of stratagems. Culturally it doesn’t work all that well with me. My motivation springs from actions, not words. Having said that, words are fine and useful, but actions do speak louder.

    Ah, lucky you. You’ve experienced the upper classes from the under belly of the beast, and that would provide you with a superb view into the inner workings. And if I’m not mistaken you absorbed what you observed?

    You know, over the years I’ve encountered a few members of my gender who use such techniques such as the great un-washing to keep other people at a respectable distance, much like an angry and unpredictable dog keeps folks at bay. From the persons I’ve encountered who take that dark path, I can’t really say for sure whether it is an active choice, but more rather a reflection of the inner workings of their mind. From a number of respects, the current mass hysteria has a lot in common with that sort of outcome.

    And I’m sorry to say, but there is a mid-point to be found between the lady of the house indulging such behaviour and the generally accepted social rules with which we all have to abide.

    I had a bloke reporting to me who went down that dark smelly path, and I counselled him along the lines of: here are the two goal posts of normality, you are outside those two goal posts. He resigned, which was a shame. He’d become smitten with one of the girls in the marketing area and she rebuffed his advances. It was a shame because he’d been doing a good job up until then. She wasn’t worth it you know!

    We’re trying to get a glimpse of Comet Leonard tonight, but a cloud band has formed on the horizon and is slowly gaining in height. Oh well, maybe tomorrow evening.



  21. Hi Steve,

    Must I divulge all of my carpentry secrets? 🙂

    The corrugated steel roof sheets have been cut to eight foot lengths. Only maybe five or six of the roof trusses need extend out to a little less than such a length, and the truth is that I have not yet trimmed them all, as you noticed. I was unable to purchase timber in the exact lengths I required and have had to make do with what was supplied. That part of the project will get sorted out over the next few days.

    Unfortunately I have to time the installation of the roof sheets just so in case it rains. Once the roof sheets are on, I have to collect the concentrated water – somewhere – and this is not an easy or simple proposition and requires several water tanks to be moved. Timing becomes critical, especially in such a cold and wet year as this.

    In Europe they have a product called nutella which is some sort of hazelnut based paste. It’s quite yummy actually. I wonder what hazelnuts taste like if they’re simply crushed up like peanut butter? Dunno. My three hazelnut shrubs are yet to produce any nuts…

    Hope that you and your family have a delightful Christmas.

    Respect. A very worthy cause. Hey, just out of curiosity, have you heard of fertiliser shortages in your part of the world? For the first time ever, a few days ago I heard an advertisement for fertiliser on commercial radio, but in the big smoke. That was weird.




  22. Hello Chris and Steve,

    Nutella is indeed a hazelnut-based product by the Ferrero brothers, who became the wealthiest people of Italy in the day. It is a lot of sugar and palm oil and not my favourite hazelnut spread.

    The best spread is indeed made of lightly roasted hazelnuts that are mashed like peanut butter. We have two producers of organic hazelnut spread in Holland, one of which (Frenken) has his own hazelnut orchard. Expensive and delicious.

    I bought a screw-mill this year, but I have not tried it out yet. 5 kg hazelnuts are waiting for my having time to shell and process, I’ll let you know how it turns out.
    I got one of these: and it can press oil, that I have tried, and it is also supposed to make peanutbutter-like substance of the nuts.


  23. Hi DJ,

    It’s outrageous, I demand a refund! So, we were hoping to get a glimpse of Comet Leonard tonight, but no, after a cool but sunny day with bright blue skies, the fog has moved in yet again. Drats!

    And I noted that Gene Rodenberry was involved in the western. It’s a great storyline. Need we introduce PUNitive measures for those who produce dodgy puns? 🙂

    Please bear in mind that tipping is not part of the cultural norm down here (although nowadays I do tip), but how does an employee ensure that the tips go from the till (especially in these electronic payment days) to the employee? And I’m guessing that the authoritas down here would have a fit because that stream of income to the employees in your country might fall outside the income tax system… The horror!!! Don’t worry about multinational tax schemes though…

    Hey, in those sorts of weather conditions, does the snow occasionally slide off the roof? I’d imagine that the water getting under the snow and ice would send the stuff moving? I dunno, just guessing. A shame about the coffee shrub. Oh well, back to the drawing board.

    Ha, that’s funny. Incidentally, the Editor and I were discussing the little granite bricks created from the Moby rock this evening and have decided that the larger examples would be perfect for use on the new shed project. They’ll be used to protect the downhill edge of the earthworks. Rocks are valuable items and that lot all have square edges. That never happens here.

    Thanks for the poem and the fluffies send their regards and cordial tail wags. Incidentally, the poem was really good, but to sum up the central tenet of your thesis: Avalanche is a puppy, and will sometimes do as she will? That should be the Executive Summary. Go Avalanche. A doggerel indeed… Thanks for the laughs.

    I hear you about the wood chopping and fetching of water. There are a lot of work demands upon me as well prior to the silly season. That I’m guessing is an arbitrary deadline thing. As a result, me also tired, but I can’t quite shake the feeling that some opportunities are now slipping just outside my reach. Oh well, what will be will be and all that.

    That horror fog story was right out of the annals of: things could always be worse. I had not known about that aspect of freezing fog. Yikes!



  24. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 And a happy solstice to everyone here. The weather was quite pleasant here today, cool, but with sunny blue skies. And with clear skies I was really hoping to catch a glimpse of Comet Leonard, but as the sun went down, the fog rolled on in. So much for that sky show. A local astronomer took a superb photo of the Comet:

    Stunning photos of Comet Leonard in Australian and NZ skies show it is a bright Christmas cracker

    Even without the fog, the comet is now below the horizon. Who doesn’t love a good comet? Especially at Christmas time.

    The sugar shortage is probably a bit of a worry, and that stuff is used in more production than you’d imagine. I guess you guys can swap in corn syrup, but I’d imagine that ethanol production is probably a bit dicey. Which is of interest because I had heard that imported spirits are in short supply here – as I’m guessing ethanol would be.

    Most cane sugar here is grown up north on the east coast, unless they get a big cyclone. Haven’t noticed that it is in short supply here. But did you hear about the chips (fries) issue in Japan? Apparently the flood areas to the north of you supplied them. The humble spud doesn’t just grow in any old soil.

    Ah, the lazy crazy silly holidays. 🙂 Far out, I’m starting to worry that I’m missing out sourcing some items. I just can’t be over everything, it’s too hard to do so and lead a life. I tell you what, the other day I was in the big smoke and heard on commercial radio (at the workplace) an advertisement for fertiliser. This was in the big smoke too, not some rural radio station. Well, that was a first.

    Actually what is the difference between those two unpleasant situations. Hmm… … … Ah, Armageddon is very bad, possibly involving a film with the actor Bruce Willis, whilst Apocalypse is less bad possibly involving a revelation which may or may not have something to do with the Roman Empire.

    Hehe! Sometimes the moment requires an unpleasant revelation. Hope things will improve and the changes over the years were a bit of a bummer. A bit like the old English divide and conquer strategy, but I wouldn’t take that too personally, that’s being trialled on a society wide basis from what I can glean from the events. I note that Damo’s state will close its borders with the rest of the country from Boxing Day. Things are moving fast around here. It makes my head spin and hopefully it doesn’t drop off my shoulders as that would be a disgusting mess. Zombies are not known for their clean and tidy deportment.

    Brunetti’s is a fun place, and I’ve frequented the business for a very long time. The little cakes are very good indeed.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts. Yeah, I actually do need to take it a bit easier, and will try to get some relaxing time in during the next three weeks, but the paid work is being piled on. Mustn’t grumble as the guy who serviced the Dirt Rat Suzuki casually suggested that the old girl still has some life left in her, but a day will come… And paid work might assist that replacement.

    Oh yeah, there are a lot of work places like that, and I’ve heard people saying similar things about plant nurseries – which isn’t all about plants after all. Customers and stuff. I’d forgotten the bit about the desk jockeys feeling superior. It seems a bit pretentious.

    I don’t really have a lot of experience with bug infested fruit, mainly because of the wide variety of bird life. The birds generally get the insects before they get to the fruit. However, other birds help themselves to the fruit, so it’s a a win here and a loss there. Mind you, the yellow jacket wasps can be a pain with fruit, but they don’t get much of a foothold here, mainly because there isn’t all that much for them to eat all of the time.

    🙂 The ginger cookies sound delightful, and ginger biscuits are a personal fave. You used to see them more when I was a kid.

    Well I’m confused the Southern spotted owl is sometimes called a boobook owl, which is not my boobook owl which has a different Latin name. The bird could easily be in this part of the world though. William Shatner has had a remarkable life.



  25. Chris; It’s a tad cold here right now, so I’m disinclined to work outside. I think I’ll treat you to a brief rant triggered by the fertilizer question.

    Fertilizer supplies are adequate, but prices have skyrocketed. As has been the case for decades, farmers are pinched between input oligopolies and gov’t policy that ensures cheap food. This looks like it will be a doozy of a clash if prices don’t settle down. As fossil fuels wane, we’ll once again see the real cost of food.

  26. Yo, Chris – Our weather forecast if up in the air. 🙂 . I saw a cartoon that would warm the hearts of any grammarian. “The Ghost of Future Perfect Passive: ‘Ebenezer! (Scrooge) You Will Have Been Disappointed With Your Life.”

    But, the weather. Maybe snow. Maybe some accumulation. Predictions seem to change, hourly. From our “be careful what you wish for” department. Wasn’t I whinging on about lack of a hard frost? Well, Sunday and Monday nights, it’s getting down to 23F (-5C). I’ve already got three blankets on the bed. Where’s that fourth?

    Oh, I wouldn’t worry to much about missing Comet Leonard. It would look nothing like the picture. More a little bright smear, in the sky. As far as spectacle goes, space junk is a lot more exciting!

    I wouldn’t worry too much about sourcing stuff. It’s either there … or, it isn’t. I still have 16 pounds of sugar, in my cupboard. But finished one off, baking cookies. Time to look for another bag. I used the last of the dark molasses, so I better start looking for that. And, I need to take stock of my spices. This morning I hit 42 rolls of personal paper products. So, I’ll keep an eye out for another 12 pack of that. Hasn’t been a problem, so far. But I doubt I’ll be out and about, looking for stuff. At least for the duration.

    I finished watching “My Live is Murder,” season two, last night. I got curious. Our intrepid detective is always scooping up murderers, and then….? I see neither New Zealand or Australia have capitol punishment, anymore.

    Speaking of crims, the crimes du jour around here are stealing catalytic converters and breaking into, or carting off ATMs (Automatic Teller Machines, from banks.) A new twist on that. Someone blew up an ATM, last Sunday morning. It was close to where one of Elinor’s daughters lives. Quit disturbed the morning coffee. The FBI is being called in on that one.

    I made a big bowl of popcorn (with cheese!) and watched “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.” It’s the second in the Venom series. Woody is in it. Woody does evil. Woody is looking really good. How does he do it? CGI? Goat gland injections? Lew

  27. Hi Chris,

    A belated happy summer solstice to you! I’m sorry that the fog prevented you from viewing Comet Leonard. Thank you for the link to the photos of it!

    It’s still way warm for being just past the winter solstice. The high will approach 68F/20C on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Not record-breaking, but quite close. It’ll cool down after that but the local weather forecasters say the highs will be above normal for as far ahead as their models can predict.

    Speaking of freezing fog as some of you were, we had that Monday morning. Because St. Louis is nearly surrounded by rivers, many people drive on a bridge over one of the rivers to get to work. Elevated surfaces, including bridges, freeze first … and they did, and vehicles crashed into each other as a result. Apparently nobody died in any of the crashes, which is the one bit of good news about them.

    The US is fortunate in regard to having plenty of natural gas for making nitrogen-based fertilizers and enough of both phosphate rock and potash for agricultural use for at least some time. In the future, we might find ourselves in the position of countries that are rich in resources that other countries want.


  28. Chris and Goran; Hazelnuts.

    I have a rather large planting of them, and have been experimenting with uses. Yes Goran, I bought the Piteba oil press last year, and while it takes some fiddling to get rolling, does press out oil.

    I made some homemade “Nutella”, but it’s more sustainable. Nutella is problematic because of the palm oil plantations that are destroying rainforests.

    I also made some nut butter. Hazels have so much oil, that the butter is rather fluid, but quite yummy, especially if roasted a bit beforehand as you mention.

    Am cracking out more this winter, and plan to try other recipes.
    Here was a post from my very occasional blog describing my trials from last year’s harvest.

  29. Hi Goran,

    I don’t consume the hazelnut product so I have little to idea as to how it tastes, but my gut feeling agrees with your words. Years ago, a mate of mine used to consume the stuff by the jar – he really used to go hard on eating the spread. Probably not good for his health, but he’s still around. Incidentally, I’m not much of a fan of the taste of palm oil. Yes, the plant is productive in volcanic tropical soils, but the taste does not appeal to my palate. In terms of plant oils I tend to stick to coconut oil and olive oil, and olive oil is locally produced in quantity – it’s good. I’d be curious to hear about your plant fats dietary options, but nowadays I prefer butter to margarine. It’s funny, but when I was a child my taste preferences were the other way around and I preferred margarine. These days I just really don’t enjoy the taste of the stuff. The recipe may have changed over the years?

    Oh yeah, the organic hazelnut spread sounds very good indeed. Actually, we make our own peanut butter from roasted unsalted peanuts (which I have to buy). I chuck them in the food processor and blitz and in maybe a minute, a very tasty peanut butter is produced. It’s really simple to make, although it is sadly not warm enough here to grow the peanut plants. I trialled them last summer in the greenhouse and it was a waste of time. My mates of the big shed fame are setting up a huge commercial sized poly tunnel, and they might be able to grow them there (they get more sun and heat than here). I might ask them about that.

    Hehe! Mate, it ain’t just you – I too bought such unit and have not yet used it (there are no olives to extract the oil from yet). It was Steve who alerted me to the hand cranked machines. Incidentally, thanks for the link and I’m drooling over the image of the unit that has the two horsepower electric motor hanging off the side. 🙂

    You know, I’d try blitzing the nuts in a food processor just to see what happens. You never know. It might be worth sharpening the blades beforehand.



  30. Hi Steve,

    Your cold winter weather scares me – yes, I’m summer soft and admit it freely. 🙂 But yeah, I too would retreat indoors. Mate, last Sunday when I cut that rock up, this so called summer weather was cold and wet and I dodged bouts of heavy rain, but ended up getting soaked all the same and very muddy. Still, perhaps that was better than inhaling all of the rock dust and whatever came off the industrial diamond cutting blade. At the end of the job my overalls were so muddy I just turned the hose on them whilst I was still wearing them. A day to remember, and not one that I’m keen to repeat. 🙂

    Incidentally, I did purchase one of those hand cranked grinders after you mentioned them a while back. I haven’t had much of an olive harvest in the past year or so due to the cold and wet summer weather, but there is always next year which inevitably will be warmer.

    Thanks for the link. It raised my blood pressure! 🙂 Far out, best not to be reliant on such sources. You know I’ve never applied synthetic fertilisers to the soils here, and things are going well albeit slowly, but my yields can’t compare to the yields from soils fed with synthetic fertilisers. How could they? On the other hand, I’m seriously putting thought and action into the soils.

    You’ll note that with the image of Ollie in the recent blog, there is a large heap of compost which forms the base product of the stuff I add to the vegetable and berry beds. But sadly, compost is not enough and other minerals are required. What do you do?

    I mentioned to Goran that I’m no fan of the taste of palm oil. Yes, the plant is a prolific producer in tropical volcanic soils, but that doesn’t change the taste to my palate. It’s a hungry old world.

    Thanks for the tip about roasting the nuts prior to processing. Just for your info I grow a few different nut trees here: Bunya nut (an indigenous tree); Almonds; Hazelnuts; Walnuts; Chestnuts; and Horse Chestnuts (used for the saponins). A few years ago I planted a Pecan, but it is slow growing (but hasn’t died either).



  31. Hi Claire,

    A happy solstice to you too. This year was cooler, but still sunny. The weather was beautiful actually and the blessings were good and proper. Need I remind you that the recent Alban Eiler included a 5.8 magnitude earthquake and a total no-show for Coel. Yeah, thanks for that mate. A truly ominous day, but far out, what are you meant to do? It’s probably not a good omen.

    Yeah the photos of the comet were awesome. Tonight was yet another humid evening but at least tonight I can spot Venus although the sheer humidity is obscuring all but the brightest sky objects. It’s not meant to be, but I’ve enjoyed other comets over the years so mustn’t grumble.

    You alerted me to the fact that the cold evenings here were part of the slow growth of plants here, and I’ve always appreciated your insights. Christmas day the forecast is only 1’C off your forecast temperature at 21″C / 70’F. Still, heavy meals are often easier to digest on cooler days than crazy hot days. Unfortunately this probably means that no water fight will take place this year. 🙂

    But, I’d have to suggest that something has changed in your part of the world. For winters here, that would be a seriously warm day, probably record breaking.

    Some of the bridges here utilise road heating. Can you imagine the electricity that would take to heat a bridge deck? I drive very slowly over the local bridges during frosty winter mornings. Glad to hear that nobody was killed in the incident.

    Liebig’s Law of the Minimum suggests that we’ll never really know what element of any system is in short supply – until we’re faced with it? Our desert / arid regions have reasonably fertile soils too, but with no water to irrigate them… Your aquifers might be the weak link? And it takes a huge amount of diesel fuel to transport minerals across the country – and the costs are increasing. My gut feeling is that we are heading to a time where there is money to pay for things, but little to purchase. It’s actually the polar opposite of the Great Depression, but perhaps with similar results.

    Most systems can make little to no economic sense – for a short while. But in the long term systems have to pay their way, and I don’t really know where the tipping points are.



  32. Hi Lewis,

    Oh that’s genius, and I doff my hat to you and retire from the field. 🙂 Up in the air indeed + Ghost of Future Perfect Passive! Hehe! Funny stuff.

    I always thought to myself that old Ebenezer would have to work doubly (or quintuply) hard to make up for lost time. I don’t mind a redemption tale, but that bloke was the cause of a lot of pain for other people. I reckon he was headed down… 🙂 What’s your take on redemption tales?

    Thanks for the laughs. Language is so much fun. I’m feeling a bit more relaxed today – yesterday was hectic on a level that I don’t often experience. So many demands, so few minutes in the day. And earlier in the day I spoke with an old timer who – and I’m left wondering here – got into some trouble and was told off. It was an unsettling experience, but these things sometimes happen.

    Anyway, today we poured another stair step, and then went on a sourcing day. From Saturday onwards, obtaining stuff may be more difficult as it is summer and all and with some notable public holidays, and plenty of businesses shut down for a few weeks. I unfortunately am unable to do that, but I’m keeping work down to one day per week. I need the break from that work in order to rest my mind. The work demands subtle changes of a personality and I’m reluctant to give over that part of me.

    Oh! And I reached out to someone I’ve known for many years today, and who knows how things will turn out? Plans to catch up were mooted. This is a good thing.

    Anyway, we went all over the place to pick up supplies of this and that. Scored some steel shelving for the new shed project and – a work bench. A guy needs a work bench, although I’m not quite what for yet, but it will probably prove quite useful. I’ve got a number of tools that would work better if attached to a bench.

    We might get onto beginning to put the roof up on the shed tomorrow. No point mucking around, and I reckon I’ll eventually be dead a long time and then I can rest. But until that day, there’s work to be done!

    Yes, I do recall some casual and perhaps in hindsight – loose – talk of the lack of hard frosts. You brought that on yourself with such talk. 🙂 Holy carp, yes that is definitely a four blanket night – and maybe even a five. The Christmas weather forecast here isn’t that far off what Claire is going to enjoy. Such toasty winter weather is perfect for an outdoors picnic. Do you reckon you’ll score a white Christmas?

    Halley’s comet was pretty awesome, as was the Hale-Bopp comet (a fascinating name sounds like an 80’s sugar syrup sweet pop song). Hey, imagine the show the international space station will put on when the Earth finally reclaims its own! Hope we’re not anywhere near the landing site. Ouch.

    Thanks for saying that, as the sourcing issue worries me just because I’m only one step ahead. It’s like that scene in Indiana Jones when he’s running out of the cave whilst the rolling ball behind him was about to squoosh him. A great film. I guess a lot of archaeology isn’t really like that, but why let the truth in that case get in the way of a good story?

    Yeah, we use a bit of sugar too in wine making and jam making. I went to the supermarket today and other than milk powder I didn’t notice any lack. The milk powder I believe comes from our mates over the other side of the Tasman Sea on those two islands. I’d expect that much of their dairy ends up in the land of stuff to which they have close ties. Over here, we’re a bit on the nose for the land of stuff these days, although they still want our iron ore and natural gas.

    Good stuff with the bottom paper. I applaud your common sense approach and note that we have less than a dozen rolls. It won’t end well you know!

    Well, I believe that the premier at the time in the final hanging was over heard to allegedly say: this’ll win the next election. I’ve never really found good reasons for or against capitol punishment. I’ve presumed that the act was stopped down here more due to a circuit breaker in escalating actions, but don’t really know.

    Oh yeah, I hear you about that. I reckon someone tried to pinch the tires off the Dirt Rat. Some of the threads on the studs which hold the wheel nuts were threaded, and one nut was missing. Not something you want to find, but there you go.

    Well there is a school of thought which suggests that intentions are rather different in relation to destruction when compared to theft. Yes, it sends a strong message.

    Go Woody! But an Evil Woody? I can hardly contemplate the thought because Woody is da man!



  33. Hi Chris,

    Enjoying the progress on the new shed.

    Masks are awful in hot weather. One good thing about cold weather – the mask is tolerable.

    The unmentionable is reeking havoc with holiday plans. Marty is sick though not bad but he can’t get a text so no Christmas Eve party for him. There’s a few other family members in a similar situation. Oh well not much one can do.

    Still no measurable snow and a record has been set. Rain in the forecast tomorrow through the weekend.

    Happy Solstice to you, the editor and everyone here.


  34. Yo, Chris – Io, Saturnalia!!! “Io” is pronounced “Yo.” Who knew? It’s the last day of that holiday. Today is also my favorite holiday, Festivus! (For the rest of us.) Working on my list of grievances. Making a list, and checking it twice 🙂 .

    Yikes! Prof. Mass has some pretty dire predictions. Records will be set. Seattle may not get above 32F (-0-C) for a week! Day or night. He also has a chart for Spokane, DJ’s neck of the woods. 20 below -0-F. I think that’s -28.88C. Yup. Looks like we’ll have a white Christmas. Or, at least, Christmas night. And then there’s a lot of possible snow for the next week. It’s going to be a mess. Lots of snow, melt, freeze. Wash, rinse, repeat.

    To me, Nutella tastes like a can of chocolate frosting. Tried it once.

    Redemption tales? I’m probably not a good person to ask. As I tend to not be very forgiving. Our Program tells us that we should jettison resentments. Some, yes. Other’s I hold close. Seems to work for me. Mileage may vary.

    Yup. A guy needs a workbench. They come in handy. And the Editor may be happy to get some of your mess, out of the house. 🙂 .

    Hale-Bopp was one of the few comets I have seen. Underwhelmed. A dime sized smear in the sky. Big whoop. At least it showed up at a decent hour. Now space junk … more like the disaster films I’m so fond of. By the way, I picked up a new bio of James Ivory (of Merchant Ivory). He also loves a good disaster flick. Funny, he never made one.

    Some archaeologists do NOT care for Indiana Jones. Smacks a bit too much of treasure hunting, and less of the hard yards of the actual job. And some feel it actually encourages treasure hunting. Funny though, how many young archaeologists sport “The Hat.” 🙂

    I’m not sure how I feel about capitol punishment, either. Better be sure you’ve got the right guy. But I also have a problem with locking someone up, for life. Mainly, due to costs.

    Also from the library, I picked up a book, “Doom: The Politics o Catastrophe,” by Niall Ferguson (2021). It’s pretty dense.

    Stopped by my cheesemonger, yesterday. The Stilton was not in 🙁 So, I soothed my savage palate with another tub of the Old Croc spread. And picked up something new, to trial. Horseradish (white) cheddar cheese. From Wisconsin. Very, very tasty. Lew

  35. Chris,

    Too bad about your cloudy skies versus The Comet. Welcome to our typical December, as in “Comet? What comet? All I see is clouds.”

    We just finished our 36 hours of thaw. Snow slid off the nearby metal roofs. It won’t slide off the asphalt shingle roof. Now it’s icy again. Snow showers expected through early Monday. The forecast keeps getting revised…the coldest night might hit -20C. Been a few years since we experienced anything that cold.

    I thought repeating or creating a dodgy pun IS PUNititve?!?

    Oh, well, yeah. Gods forbid that the taxing authority be cheated out of even a penny of what they think is owed to them by the working class. If you’re rich enough, then there are all sorts of ways to avoid paying… Has always been that way, I would guess.

    Cool! Homemade little granite bricks. I can see a quote from an updated book “…and homemade little granite bricks from Fernglade Farm were REAL homemade little granite bricks from Fernglade Farm.”

    Indeed, Avalanche is a puppy. She has taken to your advice when in the car with me. I go into the shop, and she is in the back. I return and she is in my seat, just waiting to drive the car. She knows good advice when she reads it.

    We’re about out of bread. Friday will include my baking a loaf or 2 of gluten free Irish soda bread. That should keep us for a few days.

    Thanks for the link to the huntsman spider incident. You never know when a creepy crawly will hitch along for a ride on your pantleg, do you?


  36. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and we put up more of the roof timbers today. One more day of that and then the steel cladding will go on. It’s a pretty exciting project, and it will make a huge difference to how the farm works. There’s far more to come with that project.

    Yeah, exactly, the masks are sort of tolerable in cooler weather, but summer days are an abomination. Mask mandates were increased as of midnight last evening, and I noticed that it was quieter today as a result. I have a hunch that this is the desired outcome, but don’t really have any great comprehension as to where this is all going. Some people make the most astounding claims about all these current events, but my thoughts are that I just don’t know.

    Yes, the same is happening down here too. Sydney Airport says 80 flights cancelled as COVID-19 puts strain on airline staff. I keep suggesting to people that interstate travel is being stymied, but do they listen? The only way to use less stuff, is to use less stuff – not many folks want that though. Oh well.

    Sorry to hear that, but on the other hand from your account, they’re not too badly ill. Things could be worse.

    What was the weather record? We’ll have a cool Christmas at 70’F.

    Happy Solstice and Happy Christmas to you and yours (and hope the celebrations go ahead and everyone has fun).



  37. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 I quite like the idea of Saturnalia, having some fun and sending up the toffs. 🙂 An excellent act of catharsis. I heard that it was that later cult which took over that put an end to the debauchery of Saturnalia which directly lead to the fall of the Roman Empire (the western chunk at least). They were just so earnest… Party poopers! Oh no, I accidentally just typed part poopers and I don’t know what that means, but it doesn’t sound quite right somehow…

    And Festivus for the rest of us. I can only but hope that your airing of grievances are delightfully awkward and leaves the people around you feeling uncomfortable – and chastised. Not sure that I have any grievances right now myself, I’ll have to get back to you on that. 😉

    Had a very late lunch today with my rapidly becoming favourite lunch option of Banh Mi. It was a bit warmer today, but the sun was a knock out. We worked on getting up more of the roofing timbers for the new shed. We had to work out how it was all going to work with the timber we have available to us. Not as easily done as you’d imagine. The Editor tends to take charge of the scrap management processes. We both hate wasting materials.

    The good Professor words don’t surprise me in relation to low level snow. Thermal inertia at work I believe. I hope DJ is braced for the: “Quite a bit of snow near Spokane”. Sounds exciting. And those sorts of cold temperatures strike fear into my heart. Tes not natural!

    I’m not much of a fan of nutella. I believe you have to grow up eating the stuff. It tasted too sweet for my palate. Tell ya what though, I had a delightful fruit mince tart this afternoon with lunch – always well deserved after a hard days work.

    Mate, I tend to agree with your perspective on that matter. Some folks are just rotten, and there is a mid point between the ‘forgive and forget’ belief and the ‘eye for an eye’ belief. The requirement seems ludicrous to me as if you know someone is rotten, you can be better prepared the next time you encounter them. Forgive and forget sounds too much like resetting the clock for my ease of mind. There is a need to learn from past errors or bad interactions as well – and that includes our own role in that encounter / incident.

    Hehe! You’re probably right about my project stuff piling up in the house.

    The comet put on a good show down under. Ah, James Ivory does not shy away from the deeper topics. Out of curiosity, do you prefer the man made kind of disaster films, or the natural world re-establishes the correct order of things kind of disaster film?

    Mate, the hat is cool, that is why it was worn. But I hear you, although the little devil on my shoulder says go on and ask: Are you certain that archaeologists and treasure hunters don’t have at least some sort of overlap in their activities?

    I tend to agree. There are significant costs to locking someone up for life, and to what end? If there is no question of doubt. There’s probably a need to have the right people doing the err, final job as it is not for everyone, and should not be for just anyone. There was some discussion about the Green Mile. And speaking of which, the Editor just finished Mr King’s The Institute, and thought that it was a superior book to The Stand. Even had a proper conclusion.

    Tis the season for dense. 🙂

    You know I can’t feel bad about the Stilton, like I feel bad for you personally, but blue cheese doesn’t really work for me. All I can say is that I’m holding on too tight to past pain. Perhaps I should simply forgive and forget? But macaroni cheese should never have blue cheese – it’s not right you know.

    Now horseradish cheese, that sounds awesome.

    Haven’t checked out the Christmas lights for a while now. Might have to do something about that. I see that interstate air travel here is turning into a – dare I say it – disaster film? What a segue! 🙂 And I now retire from the field in full glory having performed a couple of neat tie backs!



  38. Hello Chris
    Capital punishment ceased here after the execution of Timothy Evans who was found to have been innocent.
    The huntsman spider incident made it to the news here.


    A Happy Christmas or whatever to everyone here.


  39. @ Margaret – Yup. I think in the original “The Stand,” the casting was just about perfect. I think our library still has a copy of that. I’ll have to give it another look.

    Ya’ All have a Merry Christmas, and a Happy and Prosperous New Year! Lew

  40. Yo, Chris – To continue DJ’s riff on granite blocks (and taking it to absurd ends), are they organic and natural? Gluten free? Pooped out by contented free range, grass fed Wombats? Inquiring minds want to know. 🙂 .

    I feel poisoned. Too much chocolate and exotic cheeses. I will pay for my sins. Weeks and weeks of brown rice and veg. I’m afraid to get on the scales. I don’t know if you have them in Australia, but here we have orange flavored chocolate balls. They come in a little box, and are foil covered. Before taking off the foil, you give them a right hard smack on the counter, and when you peel off the foil, they’ve separated into neat segments. They come in milk chocolate or dark chocolate. I got the last dark chocolate one, at the grocery the other night. And then there are the white chocolate, peppermint “kisses.” Oh, my!

    Well, that “Later Cult”, pretty much just fiddled the date a bit, and even extended the festivities from seven to twelve days.

    The real party poopers were Cromwell’s mob. Their regime may have lasted longer, if they had laid off Christmas. Nothing seems to have stuck in the common folks craw more than the banning of anything that smacked of a seasonal winter holiday.

    Banh Mi sounds very tasty. I see it’s a fusion of Vietnamese and French cooking. My, those French got around. A lot of our deep South cooking (New Orleans) is French inspired.

    I went down to The Club, this morning, to clean off the pantry shelf. So they have room to spread out the big feed, tomorrow. It starts at two, and I may go down around 3:30. When the ravening hoards have moved on. Depending on the weather. I think we’ll be hearing a lot of that. One of the fellows I talked to this morning, came in from Toledo. That’s a little town to the southeast of us. He said the rain out that way was getting a bit thick. 🙂 .

    I was surprised that the parking lot wasn’t overwhelmed with last minute shoppers. As it has been in past years. Things seemed rather sedate, with plenty of spaces available.

    I wonder if Nutella, was perhaps better, back in Ye Olde Days. Like a lot of other things, they’ve probably fiddled the recipe.

    Man made or natural cinema disasters? Hmmm. Either / or. Well, I have the feeling that, perhaps, natural disasters have a slight edge. The spectacle. If they’re done right. It’s hard to beat “2012.” “The Day After Tomorrow.” It’s interesting that “Deep Impact,” and “Armageddon” came out about the same time. And, were about the same topic. But “Deep Impact” was far, far better. Sorry, Bruce. 🙂

    I also read “The Institute.” And thought it very good. But better than “The Stand?” I’d beg to differ.

    I agree that if my introduction to Stilton was in Mac and Cheese, I’d probably feel different. On the other hand, my fondness and appreciation for blue cheeses has come late in life. Now here’s something interesting. My cheesemonger told me she didn’t know if I wanted the blue cheese Stilton, or the plane. It comes in plane? So, she ordered both. And, I’ll try both.

    Well, it’s almost Christmas Eve. Almost over for another year. I wonder what the New Year, will bring? Lew

  41. Hi DJ,

    Well yeah, this year has been one giant cloud burger. Even last night I thought that after a mostly sunny and warm, we’d get clear night skies. But no, and today is foggy with slight drizzle. On the other side of the continent, things are scorching.

    You can fall off metal roofs too, even when they’re dry they’re just that little bit slippery, so snow has no chance. Hey, those asphalt roof shingles, are they a fire hazard? For some reason I’d reckon they’d be easily burnt – or melted in a fire. You do not see them anywhere in use down under (although like everything, I’m sure that there’d be an exception). The local gardening club used to have a building with a thatched roof, and it looked great, but far it burnt quickly when a bushfire struck nearby. The owners of the club changed their minds about many things after that day.

    You and your lady may have become – dare I say it – summer soft? Those low temperatures scare me.

    I don’t wish to PUNcture your pun balloon. Well, maybe just a little bit. Hehe!

    That’s my thinking too about the taxes, but then I’ve noticed that it seems to be part of human nature hard wired in for many folks to believe that there is some sort of edge that they are personally missing out upon. I could be wrong, but then again maybe not.

    I’ll chuck a photo in of the little granite bricks on the next blog. After the long muddy work day, I really had no desire to go up and take a closer photo. And I was grateful to see the end of that machine and hand it back. Still, mustn’t grumble as the job got done. Some jobs are like that, and I had no love for that work.

    Go Avalanche! Now there was this other trick the fluffies employ…

    Good to see that you are baking your own bread – because then you know what is in it and despite the fact that I have no idea what that bread actually is. If it means anything to you, the reduction in supply of stuff from the land of you know where, is having all manner of surprising impacts. Really fluffy bread that people have come to expect takes a lot of stuff to produce. I bake a denser loaf, because that is what bread looks like.

    Postie finds injured Tasmanian devil joey in Australia Post letterbox.

    Yup, all the important news is to be found here! 🙂



  42. Hi Inge,

    Well that example is the unfortunate downside of the policy. I guess it also proves that all policies can be taken to their logical extremes, or abused. Perhaps the very people making such judgements should themselves be subject to the same outcome if they stuff it up and get it wrong? That would focus their minds and reduce acts of carelessness and error.

    But on the other hand, there are a couple of felons in our systems and they’re held for life and there is no doubt whatsoever. What is the point of that cost for the community?

    Those spiders are here too and over winter they reside under the bark of trees. And they’re super fast when required to be so. In warmer weather, they get active at night. Always surprising to encounter.

    And I linked to an article about a devil in a postbox in my reply to DJ. Grumpy little things, but they’re also quite sweet.

    Wishing you and your family a Merry Christmas. Hope that your son has supplied some delightful ham or pork for your table?



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Thanks for the laughs. The granite blocks are definitely not organic. I guess that the age of the mountain range is such that most of the rocks are rounded, or at least have rounded edges. I’ll chuck in a photo of them in the blog I was going to write tomorrow night.

    Might get into a bit of planting tomorrow. This growing season is going to be super short, but maybe the pumpkins will do something in the next three months? A couple of weeks after that, the season is usually done.

    Well done you. Technically you have what is delightfully known as a ‘food baby’. Of course this situation may have been accompanied by the dreaded ‘food coma’. Always a dangerous time of year. And I have to admit that after working out in the hot sun (despite the cooler air temperatures), I crashed out early last night. It’s crazy, but today is foggy and drizzly. Nice, but it sure beats Damo’s experience of a super scorching hot day (104’F I believe).

    Ah, the link to that website was not allowed for people down under, but anyway, so that explains the twelve days of Christmas. Domination via increased public holidays sounds like a great idea. I’d imagine that the Roman economists of the time were having a fit about declining labour productivity? They always seem to go on and on about that. Boring. Then Rome crashed.

    I tend to believe that the lessons learned from the Cromwell Christmas challenge have not been kept in mind by the current mob? They’re doing their level best to make it weird down under, as I’m sure they’re giving it the good go up in your part of the world?

    In much of that part of the world, I can assure you that dudes travel around on push bikes with basket loads full of French bread loafs. You know the really long drawn out variety of bread? And they’re excellent. When I was sick in that part of the world (stomach bug) the French bread was a good food option.

    Wise to wait until the ravening hordes have done their best to dominate the table. Respect. Hope you have a good yak with the folks there.

    Hey, well it was quiet around these parts yesterday. People are genuinely fearful, although why I have no idea. What they should be worried about, is not what they are worried about. I guess the mismatch doesn’t hurt all that much.

    It’s possible. Butter tastes much the same to my palate too, it was the margarine that has changed flavour. I assume that lots of things are like this – for our convenience.

    Yes!!!!! Deep Impact was awesome.

    Well there are a lot of opinions on the interweb, but it was an excellent read. 🙂

    I too wonder about the New Year. So this is Christmas… I’ve heard that a bit of late, but aren’t really sure as to what John was going on about. He may have had something there, especially the bit about ‘and what have you done’. Didn’t the old Krampus used to travel around with switches?



  44. An excellent holiday to all, whichever version(s) you celebrate!

    On the 24th the high in St. Louis was 73F/23C, tying the daily record. We all remarked on it at the family Christmas celebration at Mike’s brother’s house. It won’t be that warm today, but the warmer than normal weather will continue for the next several days. We are supposed to get a good rain in the coming week, which I’ll welcome.


  45. Yo, Chris – Well, that was a surprise. We’re not supposed to get snow, until tonight. But when I shuffled off to bed around 1am, it was really coming down. Looks like we got about 2″. It was still snowing this morning. But now it’s turned to rain, and the temperature is going up. For now. The word for today is … slush. I’m hoping that by about 3:30, the streets will be clear. It’s supposed to get down to 24F (-4.44C) tonight. And 14F (-10C) tomorrow night.

    When I took H out this morning, she seemed underwhelmed by the whole thing. I was just trying to stay on my feet, and not fall and break a hip 🙂 .

    Food Baby, indeed. I’m deep into season ten of “Call the Midwife.” Using that as a handy reference, I’d say I’m about three months along. 🙂

    Far left or far right, they’re a bit bonkers about Christmas. For gosh sakes, give it a rest.

    My Dad had rather vague memories, of France, after WWII. Blame the vino. But he did mention French women, on bikes. Unshaven armpits and a loaf of French bread, tucked under each arm. Gave a certain zing to the loaf, I suppose. 🙂

    John? John who? I thought maybe you we’re referring to that gospel quartet. But only Matthew and Luke referred to the reason for the season. John was onto other things.

    That was a fun article about the little Tasmanian Devil, found in the letter box. I seem to remember you found a Quoll, in a trash bin. Were you more plugged into social media, you to could have become an internet star! Oh, well. Opportunity lost.

    I’m almost done with the autobiography of James Ivory. Then it’s onto the young, H. G. Wells. Lew

  46. PS: Krampus brings coal and switches, to bad little boys and girls. If they’re REALLY bad, he pops them into his sack, and they’re never seen again! Lew

  47. Hi Claire,

    Seasons greetings to you and Mike, and hope that you both had a really lovely day.

    I’m not mucking around, those sorts of temperatures would be nearing a record maximum for this part of the world during June. But not to worry, it was a maximum of 54’F / 12’C and this morning brought winds from the cold south and drizzle. Very unpleasant, but a great summers day to work outside – all day long. I was actually quite cold…

    Oh, and the white variety of strawberries are taking over the strawberry patch. They’re very tasty. Planted out the pumpkins today (you’d probably describe them as squashes) as well as the single melon (a waste of time this year). It’s warming up towards the end of the week.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    The snow sounded pretty nice – until the rain hit that is. I have not experienced that weather as usually the snow slowly melts away. Hehe! Yes, the word would be slush indeed! Did the streets clear up by the afternoon? Far out that is cold and definitely represents a four blanket night, perhaps even a five blanket and one H (for the feet of course, if Elinor can spare her).

    The weather has gone crazy here. Damo’s side of the continent is baking in record breaking heat, and over here, well 54’F today, windy and the thick clouds drizzled for hours this morning. Of course I took advantage of the cold weather and worked outside for the entire day. It’s now quite late and I haven’t yet begun writing, but no matter such is the way of the holiday season with no summer. Apparently it will get quite hot towards the end of the week.

    Hey, I planted out the pumpkins (squashes in your local variety of the language) today and they’re looking good. I put the spacing for the seedlings at about four feet and we’ll see how that works out. I don’t really know. But before I planted them all out, I had to clear the old sapling fenced enclosure. The weeds were at eye level, and that is not conducive to planting seedlings. I’d like to suggest that I was testing how land goes after being let lie fallow, but that would be a lie – I just didn’t get to it before now. And all those weeds grew this year. Anyway I dropped the unwanted plants and then mulched all of it up. The result was a nice fine black loam, but the top soil there was only about an inch thick, so I might have to deep rip it before next season, and then apply lots of soil food. I don’t really know. And all of the weeds had left the soil looking quite dry, which was unexpected.

    Oh my gawd, you’ve got a good point there about walking H in the slushy conditions. Mate, try having two Kelpies and Bull Arab on leads and that lot have pulling power, there are times I hope they don’t wrench my arms from the sockets, but in your situation, even H could throw you off balance. Yikes!

    Hehe! You’d hope that the experienced mid-wife could discern the difference between a food baby and an actual baby? 🙂 Mate, three months myself after yesterday’s most excellent feed.

    Have the far right or far left got nothing else to bother us all with? They’re very boring you know. And they sow the seeds of their own demise. Foolish people, they probably weren’t corrected enough as children. 🙂

    Nothing wrong with a few pheromones here and there for good measure. For all we know, it may have been part of the allure?

    All I can add here on my ‘John’ defence is that a small shot of rum may have been involved. Yes, I know that I’m going to hell, but at least some of my mates will be there.

    Far out, instead of the wind dying back, it’s actually picked up. If I hadn’t worked hard outside all day long today, I would light the wood fire. Alas, despite the cooler temperatures, I feel overly warm this evening.

    Alas, so many opportunities get lost – it’s hard to know where to start. We can only but do our best.

    The tree dudes splinter group turned up this morning looking for work. I was in a generous mood and so put them to work and provided a tidy seasons bonus. The only thing I’m left wondering is whether I’ve navigated the local Samoan politics deftly. Probably did OK though, maybe. All I can say is that it’s complicated.

    Better get writing, it’s almost 9pm and I have not yet begun.



  49. Yo, Chris – Well, the temperature didn’t get as dire as predicted. Only got down to 30F (-1C), last night. I’d say the arctic air, headed our way, only got as far as just north of Seattle. From Seattle to here, most of the temperatures are around the same as ours. But, it looks like we got another inch or two or snow, overnight. And it’s still coming down.

    I’d usually go to the Club, on Sunday morning, but, I think I’ll just sit tight, today. By late yesterday afternoon, the pavements were clear, so I went down then. Didn’t look like it was near the turn-out of Thanksgiving. There were about ten homemade pies, in several flavors, and they were untouched. But, there were enough people around to talk to. I think a lot of people from outlying areas decided to stay home. And, after all, it was Christmas. Lots of other obligations to attend to.

    I’ve got a patch like that. I’ll support your “fallow” if you’ll support mine. 🙂 .

    “…weren’t corrected enough as children.” I’ve got one down the hall, and I often observe to Elinor that I think she was spoiled rotten as a small child.

    That was a terrible pun about the Tree Dudes. Splinter group, indeed. 🙂 . Well, if one of the original group spilled the beans about rich picking around your place (for hard work), then it’s there lookout. Maybe a small shot of rum was involved.

    Well, last night I watched film three in the “Resident Evil” series. “Extinction.” It was pretty good. Well worth the bowl of popcorn, I made. Mutant zombies, galore. Very cool explosions. Zombie dogs and flocks of zombie crows. There was also a trailer for a film I’d like to see. Not part of the series. “Zombie Strippers.” Looks so bad it might be good. Lew

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