Been doin it for a bit

It wasn’t quite two decades ago, but it was probably close enough to that. The Editor and I were living it up in the inner northern suburbs of Melbourne. Plentiful cafes where the barista’s knew how to prepare a proper coffee. Walking to the supermarket was a reality. Trams ran along major roads, and the Victorian era heavy industry had given way to expansive park lands with century old shade trees.

The streets were lined with Victorian era houses where the social status of the occupants could be readily identified from a quick glance at the ornate facades. Someone casually remarked to me, “there’s quiet money in those streets.’ We managed to move there by purchasing a house that wasn’t much more than a hundred plus year old double brick shell. The shell was purchased at a public auction, and some numpty also wanted the wreck of a house, and he managed to spend a year of our accumulated savings in a matter of minutes. But we wore the numpty down, and won the auction.

There is not much to recommend living in a house with a single power point. The timber floors were held together by six layers of carpet. Strange chunks of unidentified minerals spewed out of the kitchen taps. But it was home, and the roof kept the rain off our heads, and sometimes that’s enough.

Restoration of the house began at the front, then proceeded to work towards the back. It’s probably something of a personal failing, but I do try to correct the variables which lead to poor outcomes such as six layers of carpet being the only thing which held together what was left of the timber floors.

The rear of the house contained the kitchen, bathroom and toilet and it had all been constructed of packing crates. You’d imagine that the local government would happily turn a blind eye as I replaced the ramshackle construction with something which complied with the building codes. Nope, they were super-cool with the existing ramshackle construction, and I had to obtain a permit to demolish and replace it.

As part of the permit process, I spoke with the neighbours and they wanted to see a brick wall replacing the ramshackle construction. The Editor and I agreed with their requirements and the local government eventually issued the appropriate permits for the work. The only problem was that I’d never laid a brick wall before, but no matter.

My lack of experience could be circumvented through research. So, I headed down to the local newsagent to see what sort of owner-builder periodicals they had on offer. After a while a hippy magazine came to my attention. It had a Questions and Answers column with an old timer owner builder. These were my kind of people!

The blokes email address was given, and having no shame at all, I sent him my question which was: How did the old timers produce cement footings and lay brick walls? My thinking was that if the old timers could do something with low-tech tools, I could do that too. And the bloke replied with an extensive answer and published his reply in the next edition of the magazine. How cool was that? And the answer was technically very helpful.

Of course, I also read the hippy magazine at my leisure. It was a fun magazine, and who knew that there were all these people leading fascinating and interesting lives? My own life by comparison was OK, but it wasn’t that interesting. The difference was hard to ignore, and the top end corporate existence wasn’t quite working out for me.

Oddly enough, I felt that I could pen better essays than a few of the ones I’d paid to read. So why not give it a go? I got in the ring and began writing essays all those long years ago. I wrote essays, the Editor edited them, and they were set free and fired off to all manner of publications. Most were published, some went into the deep void where spatial anomalies consume pesky crews of bad sci-fi fiction. And there was always the notorious bubble / Carmen Miranda article which I hope never again surfaces to see the light of day! The Editor made me do it.

The magazine format was fun to write for. Replies came long after the heat and passion of disgruntled readers had long since dwindled to nothing. Vitriol is not something that hurts an author when encountered three months after the article was published and the cheque was cashed!

Time moved on and publishing articles on the internet offered a far more immediate forum for feedback from disgruntled readers. Trolls – aren’t they a fun lot? The first time I experienced being derailed by what is now known as a troll, I was quite hurt. People wouldn’t dare say such things to my face – I’d thump them. But things are different online, and the format took a little while to adjust to.

Sadly, over time the remuneration from the magazine and online publishers began to dwindle. The output however increased. And the demands from the publishers were still the same: hurry up and wait, and can you provide a higher resolution photo, with only two hours notice?

After many years I parted company with them all and took a break from writing. During that time, the writing bug didn’t go away. I probably made a right nuisance of myself penning regular comments in the fairly new format of the internet blog. The now defunct Archdruid Report was an absolute favourite, after all, it’s not every day you get to chat to a Druid, especially an Arch one!

The circumstances continued like that for maybe three or perhaps even four years, who now remembers? But whatever, I slowly felt as if I had something to say and the editor suggested that I start my own blog. And here we are today, and we’ve come a long way since then baby! 🙂

Last year due to the health subject which dare not be named, our annual pilgrimage to see the super-awesome Christmas light street display in the nearby town was cancelled. Seriously, the people were asked not to put up their super-awesome Christmas lights. I don’t approve of such measures. And the authorities this year either relented, or forgot to tell the houses not to put up the displays, because they were back! And despite the many hardships, we visited.

Super-awesome Christmas light displays in the nearby town

Due to all manner of timing issues, such as the restaurant we went to beforehand closing early on Christmas Eve, we arrived to see the light display when the setting sun still cast a pink blush on the low clouds. That soon changed.

So many Christmas lights…

It’s nice to see a bit of Australiana in the light displays, and you’ve gotta love a Christmas Kangaroo being chased by a multi coloured Reindeer. It’s hard to explain.

A Christmas Kangaroo light display

The weather this week has been unsettled, some days are mildly warm, and others were downright cold. Today for example the maximum was a mere 12’C / 54’F. An impressive effort for summer. Apparently there is a comet to be seen in the southern skies just after sunset, but the constant cloud this year has prevented viewing the spectacle. The cloudy sunsets however, have proven to be spectacular.

Stormy clouds eliminate the opportunity to view the comet

Work on the new shed project continued. We began adding battens to the roof trusses. The timber battens tie the roof trusses together and are what the corrugated roof sheets will be anchored to.

Some blue roof battens have been added to the roof of the new shed

The pumpkin seedlings were intended to be planted into the old sapling fenced enclosure. However, when I went to clear the enclosure the weeds were almost as tall as I am. I used the brush cutter to drop all of the unwanted vegetation.

Most of the unwanted vegetation in the enclosure was dropped to the ground

Then I used the utility mower to mulch up all of the dropped vegetation. And the pumpkin seeds were planted into that rich organic soil. I’d like to suggest that I was experimenting with letting land lie fallow, but that would be a lie! I just didn’t get around to the job earlier.

Pumpkin seedlings were planted out in the rich soil

In other work around the farm, the new set of concrete stairs had two additional steps added. The fill for the new staircase comes from the cement recovered from the recent de-construction of a shed which took place two weeks ago.

Two additional steps have been added to the new concrete staircase

Despite the cool and damp summer, we’re sort of learning how to manage plant growth in these conditions. The tomato seedlings are getting a bit of attention and I’m varying the watering arrangements so as to keep the soil warm. Watering cools the soil, and this tends to slow plant growth.

Tomato seedlings on the left, roses on the right

The Jostaberries and Gooseberries are almost ripe, as are the black and red currants.

Black currants are ready to harvest

The other many varieties of berries are only now becoming ripe. Interestingly a white strawberry is the most tasty variety this year.

Fresh summer berries! Yum!

Onto the flowers:

The garden beds produce delightful colours and rampant jungle like growth
This rambling rose runs through a garden bed
Penstemon produce lovely almost foxglove type flowers

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 1,219.4mm (48.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,218.8mm (48.0 inches)

58 thoughts on “Been doin it for a bit”

  1. Yo, Chris – Funny how life falls into place, due to circumstance and chance.

    A ban on Christmas lights? And what was the reasoning behind that bit of bureaucratic nonsense? Did someone think they were Oliver Cromwell? There was a lack of Christmas lights, last year, but it had nothing to do with ordinances. I think people were just too blue, to splurge much on lights. But they’re back, this year. Big time. I couldn’t quit help but thinking, “And now they’ve all got to come down.”

    Your Australian displays are always so interesting. But who needs Christmas lights, when you have such colorful skies? That picture is a knock out. Makes the Christmas lights look kind of tepid.

    Ollie in the “additional steps” photo. I finally figured out that I think he’s been studying the Dwayne Johnson Method of Acting. Those soulful, thoughtful looks off to the distant horizon. In the Jumanji films, several of the characters comment on the Johnson “look.” It’s kind of a running joke.

    The currents remind me that I have to prune and fertilize ours, in the next couple of months. Now that we’ve had an honest to gosh hard freeze, pruning is much on my mind.

    When I first saw the berry picture, I thought, “My gosh! Chris has gone color blind!” Who knew there were white strawberries?

    The rambling rose is quit pretty. The last house my father had, a rose rambled right up a 60′ cedar tree. They seemed to bump along in companionship. It was quit a striking sight. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Snow at your place, cold weather here today, but Saturday looks set to reach 97’F, which admittedly is warm. My head is spinning Exorcist style at the strange gyrations with the weather. Tell you what though, the pumpkins (squashes in US parlance) I planted out yesterday have grown. That surprised me. Interestingly I hardened off the seedlings for a few days beforehand this time around just prior to planting them. It may have helped. Still, conventional wisdom suggests that such plants are not easily transplanted.

    Yeah, the party poopers took a big dump on Christmas lights last year – and the authoritas just said a big fat NO. I don’t see the big deal with them in relation to risk from the health subject which dares not be named, but you know everyone is different and I can accept that.

    On the other hand, the strange footing that people have been placed upon does tend to allow for opportunities to do things different like. Please excuse my appalling grammar in this instance, I felt that the diversion introduced a nice touch of realism to what is possibly going on. I barely read the news these days, but it was hard to ignore the article on the tens of thousands of flights cancelled due to the health subject which shall not be named. Mate, it probably beats fisticuffs at the local gas station.

    Nature is in your face here, and that dusk skyline was awesome to behold. Glad to hear that you enjoyed the show and it is a pleasure to share the place with you, albeit virtually. I encountered an Echidna today doing its thing and hunting out and feasting upon ants. Ruby spotted the Echidna first, circled around it and then left the critter well alone. They can dig themselves into the ground and present the world with a super tough spiny carapace. Ruby knew that she’d been beat. The biggest risk for Echidna’s are motor vehicles who don’t care to slow down for them. I’m rather fond of the monotremes, for the enemy of my enemy is my friend.

    The Rock is a very good actor and we’re of a similar age. Mate, I wouldn’t want to face off against him in a cage fight as his height would provide some serious advantage. It’s a good joke too, and often the best jokes are those that we are all familiar with.

    The currants don’t need nearly as much attention as you’d imagine. I barely do any maintenance with them other than the occasional hack back of extraneous branches. Hmm, did we discuss recently that it was a matter of some pride a couple of centuries back for a person to grow the largest Gooseberry shrub in an area?

    Candidly, we spend far more time on getting the infrastructure set up properly, than on the plants. They kind of look after themselves if timed correctly and then properly fed and occasionally watered. Today, we installed the rest of the roof battens on the new shed project, and managed to even get a couple of corrugated steel roof sheets onto the shed. It felt pretty good to have achieved all of that. And the work day was very long. But you know, make hay whilst the sun shines is how the old timers would have put things.

    I reckon we won’t finish the shed by New Years, but we won’t be far off that. Time is pressing, but at least all of the materials for all of the projects seem to be on site now.

    It seems like the white strawberry was developed down under only very recently: White strawberries just one of the new varieties being developed in Australia. It tastes pretty good too. The Editor purchased the initial plant and it has reproduced and hybridised really well.

    The rambling rose up the Cedar would look really lovely. Over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, a notable garden has one of the largest Cedar’s in the state and every year they switch on the huge Christmas lights. You can see the tree lights a few kilometres (miles) away.

    It is funny how that happens isn’t it? You once mentioned that the Roman’s believed that rocks were where they were meant to be, and I’ve cogitated upon that philosophy and reckon it is true for people as well.

    The good Professor appears to be suggesting that variability may be the word that you heard with your current cold snap. He did note that more people are killed in your part of the world due to accidents related to cold snaps than with heat waves. I can see that.

    Absolutely, I unequivocally support your fallow patch! 🙂 And just to mention it again, bizarrely the pumpkins planted only yesterday, grew today…

    Hmm, spoiled fruit is often thrown into the worm farm, or fed to the chickens. Spoiled is not a good outcome in my books, but nowadays the word has more positive connotations.

    🙂 DJ started it with the puns! Hehe! Yeah I was a touch generous yesterday, but it’s Christmas and clearly they needed the mad cash. I heard from them that they’ve been unable to travel back to Samoa for a few years now and catch up with extended family, and it’s been hard on them, but I reckon this is the new reality.

    So bad, it must be good! Yes, Zombie Strippers, a modern classic! Actually, it looked like fun. Speaking of zombies, I’m yet to make a new years prediction.



  3. Hello Chris
    That is a gorgeous sky.
    The raspberries made my mouth water but the white strawberries did nothing for me. Who would have thought that colour matters in this context. I have never encountered a white strawberry
    I never get to see Christmas lights though I gather that they are around if I leave my fastness. They seem weird to me. Perhaps that is because I was a wartime child when there were never external lights of any kind.
    My Australian grandson goes to university in February to study civil engineering and surveying. At least they sound like worthwhile subjects to expend all that money on.
    Quite warm here at present but very wet.


  4. Yo, Chris – It got down to 21F (-6.11C), last night. We’re not going to see any temperatures above freezing, until at least Wednesday. There were snow flurries all night, but the depth seems to be holding at 4″. The roads are a mess. Cabin … fever … setting … in. 🙂 . I heard this morning, most of the caregivers called in to say they wouldn’t be coming, due to weather. I actually saw a snow plow, this morning. Well, a dump truck with a blade attached to it’s front. Didn’t seem to be moving much snow around. Oh, well. This too shall pass.

    Judicious use of appalling grammar can be used for good literary effect. Besides, if you use it by accident, and someone calls you on it, you can always say you were using it for literary effect. 🙂 .

    Well, as far as the cancelled flights go, look at it this way. It probably put off the end of oil, a day or two. 🙂 .

    Treasure your Echidna. I see they’re a bit endangered. Interesting little critters. They can live as long as 60 years.

    I don’t remember talking about a competition for the largest gooseberry. But, there’s always some kind of competition for growing the largest, whatever. The white strawberry article was very interesting. The line that jumped out at me was …providing consumers with more variety.” I’d say consumers have more than enough variety. Oh, well. I guess it keeps people employed.

    Better keep you steel roof sheets in the shade. With the heat you’ve got on tap, they might be a bit hot to handle. I meant to mention I really like your fallow enclosure. The stave fence looks so nicely rustic.

    I do feel for the Tree Dudes. Some cultures take family connections more seriously, than others. And from what I’ve read, their’s is one of those cultures.

    I got curious about blue cheese Stilton and regular Stilton. And fell down a rabbit hole. Blue cheeses are caused by Penicillium. Which comes in several kinds. Some makes blue cheese, some can be used as antibiotics. Some people react badly to blue cheese. But then, some people react badly to the antibiotic. Blue cheese can also be addictive. 🙂 . It’s a mild opiate. Bits of the cheese protein “…attach to the same brain receptors as heroin and other narcotics.” You get a little shot of dopamine. The pleasure hormone.

    I’m well into the H. G. Wells biography. It’s very well written, and engaging. Poor man. Early on, he was often hungary or poorly fed. His mother kept apprenticing him to drapers, because they dressed nice. Through chance and determination, he managed to claw out an education, for himself.

    I’m also reading a novel, which covers a bit of food history I was unaware of. “Miss Eliza’s English Kitchen: A Novel of Victorian Cookery and Friendship.” (Abbs, 2021). Eliza Acton, and her cook Ann Kirby wrote a cookbook. It became very popular. The more famous Mrs. Beeton lifted a large part of her recipes, from Acton. Not to worry. Acton’s book stayed in print, a long time, and made her a lot of money. Lew

  5. Chris,

    I notice that Lew has as much snow on the ground as I do! I just get out in it and acclimate, etc. Had to run errands Monday on newly fallen snow. It works out okay if I time it right, which doesn’t always happen.

    Nah, the asphalt shingles aren’t a terrible fire hazard, but of course burn well once ignited. The metal roofs, of course, aren’t a fire hazard, just slippery. The HUGE shed next door has a metal roof, and the snow was slowly sliding off of it over the weekend. I took aim with a snowball, expecting a direct hit to break off a small chunk of overhanging snow. Nope. The entire batch of snow that was hanging over the roof edge fell with a loud “Whump!”

    The bread I bake is denser, also. I mean, bread is supposed to have substance. The “Wonder Bread Effect” of taking a slice of hideous commercial white sandwich bread and rolling it up into a wad the size of a spit ball tells us that that bread is worthless. I like my bread to have fiber and nutritional value.

    Thanks for the link to the Tasmanian devil in the mailbox. That was a fun article to read.

    Okay, here’s a bit of a PUNitive recollection 😉 I spent Christmas with a friend in Chicago one year. His entire family got together one evening, and their mother was showing slides from her trip to Alaska. (Yes, slides. This WAS 40 years ago, after all.) Somebody made a pun, then my friend replied with a pun, after which I entered the fray. We punned nonstop for over 30 minutes. Twas a lot of fun.

    However, not every contest of puns ends in so friendly a fashion. I refer, of course, to the PUNic Wars between Rome and Carthage. Historians don’t know which side made the actual pun that was so offensive as to begin such a debilitating war.

    Thanks for the pictures of the Christmas lights, The Christmas Kangaroo was a big hit here.

    I bet your pumpkins will grow superbly in that soil. That’s a lot of mulch you added there. Hope it works out. Getting some hot weather will help. I wonder if your peak hot day this week will coincide with our peak cold night…

    Your projects are coming along well. The shed is looking good, as are the new steps. It’s a lot of work.

    I had some stray thoughts over the weekend. I was outdoors as the area’s crows were looking for that evening’s roosting area. They were flying by in groups of 5 to maybe 18 crows – pretty normal sized murders of crows. Then I recalled an old joke that a gathering of only 2 crows is attempted murder. At that point, I remembered a recent morning walk in which the entire neighborhood’s crows were gathered together on lawns and the street, entirely filling up 4 yards and an intersection. There were hundreds of crows in that gathering. Would that many crows together be called mass murder?

    One evening I noticed Avalanche was dreaming and chomping her teeth like she was eating. Hmmmm, at times I daydream and wish I was eating a good Reuben sandwich or something, and my mouth starts to water and my teeth start to pretend that they are chewing. Would my daydream and Avalanche’s dream fall under the heading of mental mastication? Questions like this and the crow question are troublesome. Not that I don’t know the answers, but that I thought of the questions in the first place. 😉


  6. Hi Inge,

    The colours of the sky were gorgeous. Right now, the setting sun is producing a strong orange hue over the land. It was quite a pleasant day here today.

    It turns out that the white strawberry varieties were developed down under. That was news to me too. The flavour is very good, and I’m noticing that the longer the berries are on the plant, they get this slight pinkish blush. The article suggested that the variety didn’t grow true to type, but it seems to be doing just that whilst also taking over.

    Wise to have a fastness to retreat to in these troubled times. You may not be aware but there is a certain ostentatiousness to the light displays, and from some perspectives it becomes a gift of entertainment from those who can afford the display. After all, nobody is charging visitors to view the lights, and in these days how much entertainment is free? It does more good than harm.

    As a dissenting opinion, I view such education from the unflattering economic perspective of the ‘return on investment’. For some odd reason it appears to me that such education has become vocationally based and so it excludes niceties such as the ability to think for ones self let alone garner a sense of time and perspective, and thus my particularly unflattering lens shines a vastly different picture upon the entire subject. I freely admit that I could well be wrong, and best of luck to him. Do you know whether it was the young blokes free choice to pursue those subjects?

    The farm is still very green, but the lack of heavy rainfall during the previous few weeks has dried things out. Ordinarily I’d be whining about such an outcome, but not this year.



  7. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, it is super weird that Lewis has enjoyed as much snow as you did. And reading the good Professor’s weather related blog I thought that you may have been receiving a solid dump of snow. Turns out that the locals (i.e. you and your lady) know how to cope with such snow dumps. Here I have to out myself as being totally unprepared for such weather KAOS (as distinct from Control) and like Lewis would have suffered valiantly from cabin fever – but with a side serving of 100% pure whinge. You of course are more stoic.

    Thanks for the on the ground report in relation to asphalt shingles. I’ve never seen such a roof before. I have an odd hunch that during super hot days down here, the asphalt would melt – the roads sure can. What a mess! It makes me wonder if any such roof cladding exists in Al’s part of the world?

    Good shot ol’ chap! You may not ever have experienced a game of cricket, but your snow throw with cascading effects was like hitting a six! I’ll leave you to gargle and interpret the words just typed out.

    Many years ago we camped out over night in the old gold mining town of Walhalla (kind of sounds like Valhalla doesn’t it? Beware the ghosts!) The old miners removed the top of a small mountain so that they could construct enough flat land to accommodate a cricket pitch. Anyway, it was a small oval and I heard that the local rules were ‘six and out’, meaning that if you hit the ball over the fence, the batsman was automatically out. Saved a lot of trouble trying to find where the ball had got to as it rolled off the steep slopes.

    Walhalla Cricket Ground

    A lot of unusual chemicals and minerals are required to bake such spit ball bread, it is not my preference. I too prefer a denser loaf as do the chickens whom enjoy any leftovers (not a likely circumstance, but more of an occasional treat).

    Ah yes, who can forget the dreaded slide night? One of the unusual side effects of the digital photography age is that vast numbers of photographs are regularly taken. Are they all good? Maybe not. But in those days, each photograph had to count. But did you need to sit through a showing of all of them? So many questions, so few answers…

    Thank you for the introduction to the ancient Hannibal. Scipio Aemilianus was noted for his puns, wit and also dedication to learning and putting himself to the test. And the Siege of Carthage was truly awful. There’s no getting around that. It fascinates me that such greats arrived on the scene to contest their mettle.

    My brain hurts from immersing myself in that history. But better to be aware of the forces that move and swirl all around us, than to be an ostrich. There are enough of them.

    🙂 The Christmas Kangaroo is pretty cool. Mind you, on the farm they can reach beyond my height and I tell ya truly, I wouldn’t dare try to hang seasons tinsel around the neck of a bull. I reckon we heard a Koala in the nearby trees this evening. The tall trees here have a better canopy than other trees in the surrounding forest – for all sorts of deliberate reasons, and yeah, Koala.

    Ah-ha! No mulch was added where the pumpkins now grow. The layer of loam was all that remained of all of the plants after I’d dropped them and run over repeatedly with the mower. The existing soil was mixed in as a side matter. Today the area smells pleasantly of fermenting vegetation. I’m assuming the soil critters are going crazy and the pumpkin seedlings are getting a solid feed.

    Saturday looks like the super hot day this week. How does that compare with your part of the world?

    It’s not as much work as you’d imagine. 🙂

    Appreciate your crow word play. And I believe that technically you may be correct with your conclusion. But is it grammatically correct? That’s the real question, to which I don’t happen to know the answer. I could give you an answer, but whether it would be the correct answer may be a subject that is open to debate.

    Yes, a dream which involves mental mastication poses little risk to either you or Avalanche. But then, let’s pose the question: What if Avalanche swapped her dream meal with you? It could quickly descend into nightmare. 🙂

    I tend to wake the dogs up if they are having a nightmare. They seem grateful for that small act of mercy.



  8. @ DJSpo
    I was always taught that if you see a large number of crows, they are not crows, they are rooks. That does appear to be the case here. We have rookeries but not croweries. Of course it may well be different where you are.


    Hello Chris
    Yes it is very much the young man’s own choice. I agree with you on the subject of education in general. One is being taught what to think not how to think and this has got far worse recently.

    The fates have cast their beady eyes on Son. He has been caught driving @ 35 mph in a 30 mph zone. His boiler has packed up and now the clutch has gone on his truck. He limped in this morning with gout in his knee complaining yhat these things were supposed to come in threes and he had four.

    A very strong wind is blowing outside.


  9. Hi Lewis,

    It is hard for me to fathom that you could be enjoying as much snow as DJ is in his part of the world. It was 73’F sunny and pleasant here today. All of the work done on the new shed project has meant that some of the day to day necessary things which keep the house in good order have been neglected of late. Today, this oversight was taken care of. Mate, I honestly have no idea as to how other households cope with the unrelenting volume of administrative tasks required to keep them all functioning? It is possible that many activities in other households are falling by the wayside? Dunno, but fortunately we don’t have kids, because I’d get them to work alongside with us. I guess other folks would get upset by that, but I worked as a kid and felt that it taught me many useful and valuable life lessons. As I’m sure you did too.

    Thanks for the verbal image of the dump truck with the snow blade not getting far at all! Has the snow melted away yet? I’d simply hunker down in place too. Extreme weather does tend to bring communities to a standstill. I’m assuming your weather is more extreme than what most of the folks in your part of the world are prepared for?

    What a great idea! Says he rapidly committing to paper your cover all circumstances excuse for massive grammatical blunders. It is of course best to be prepared in advance for such criticism. 🙂 The critics surely wouldn’t have thought far beyond their first rude interjection?

    Chess is a game that I know the rules of and can play, but my mind baulks at the requirement to consider too many moves ahead, and often the game is won by those whom have practised long and dutifully for many years – and aren’t surprised and can comprehend where things are heading! I’m having to be across so many different areas in day to day life that proficiency can be claimed in many areas, but mastery? Oh well, we all do what we can.

    Oh, I hadn’t realised that Echidna’s are endangered. They’re quite commonly seen around these parts and are often on the farm during the summer months. I suspect that motor vehicles are a serious risk to them as they waddle along the ground and unfortunately dig in when pestered by other animals (including cars). 60 years! Yikes. Best not to annoy them, memories are long.

    I forget a lot of the little details. It would probably be a burden to be able to recall all of the minor details? Imagine that?

    The white strawberries are an odd experience for me too and at first I’d believed them to be unripe berries. And we’d only ever purchased one or maybe two plants, and I guess they were well adapted to the exact soils and climate here. The taste is good, but they don’t keep well, although I do not spray them with preservatives. Over summer we freeze enough berries before then preserving them in batches of jam. Some jams keep far better than others and the blackberry jams are the best of the lot, although I’d guess they’d have the highest sugar content of all berries given how late in the season they are. Raspberries however, produce the best tasting jam.

    In the hot weather I sacrifice long held personal preferences and get up early and get into projects. But yes, the dark steel corrugated sheets do get warm to the touch on hot days. The shed itself is quite well ventilated, and over the past day or so we’ve added steel mesh over the openings to ensure that bats and small birds don’t set up house inside the shed.

    Thanks, I too enjoy the aesthetics of the sapling fence enclosure.

    Yes, I also suspect from conversations with the tree dudes over the years that ties with the home country are very strong. The world is perhaps getting bigger again?

    Oh, didn’t know that. Are there any health gains to be had from consuming the blue cheeses? You never know, although it is possible that there is little money in the subject and it has not been studied from that perspective. And the dopamine aspect is fascinating. Who knew? Still, I respect your cheese of choice, but for me the ancient pain cannot be lifted.

    I’m having a hard time imagining a young HG Wells being apprenticed to Drapers. His mother sounds as if she were prone to flights of fancy, and his father. Hmm. What a precarious upbringing, but still it fired something that was present within him and was maybe his initiation rite?

    Not to tease you, but the dining area inside my mates of the big shed fame’s commercial kitchen has a wall of books on food and cooking. As a subject the art has inspired many books.



  10. Yo, Chris – LOL. Any comparison to DJ’s weather is a fluke. They do the hard yards, over there. We got down to 27F (-2.77C), last night. I even kicked on the base board heaters, for awhile. Usually, I get along quit nicely with just the small bathroom heater. Which I plop down between the living room and bedroom. But not last night. Or, I bake something 🙂 .

    Any time I looked out, last night, it was snowing. I’d say we have about 6″ now. When I took H out, it wasn’t snowing, but tiny ice crystals were coming down. They reflected light, and looked like diamonds on the fresh snow.

    I don’t think any of the caregivers made it in yesterday. And, some of the Ladies need 24 hour care. Looks like one or two made it in, today. Food box delivery for us, tomorrow, has been canceled. The treatment center across the street is having a hard time getting food in. Usually, an 18 wheeler backs up the long, gentle slope drive to their loading dock. Not today. He’s stuck in the street, and they’re offloading food into a pick-up truck that looks like it has snow tires and 4-wheel drive.

    Cabin fever is setting in. There are Ladies, wandering the hallways, nattering. And not to each other. 🙂 . Looking at the forecast, looks like I’ll be sitting tight, at least til Sunday. Prof. Mass has a very good post (12/27) on why our roads are such a mess, when we get weather like this.

    I played chess, when I was a kid. But not in years. But I tend to avoid competitive things. Yes, I’m a poor loser. 🙂 .

    Like Inge (I think), I can’t get the idea out of my head that white vegetables, like cauliflower, have little nutritional value. So white strawberries… Of course, where does that leave potatoes? I have no problems with them. Maybe, because they have brown skins, that you can eat?

    Blue cheeses have a lot of calcium, that helps bone density. Also, vitamins A and D, potassium and zinc. Might help to strengthen the immune system.

    LOL. After saying I’m not competitive, I accept the Big Shed Cookbook Challenge. I thought I had around 300. A quick count comes up with 297. And, there’s probably a few others floating around. But then one must consider quality. I steer clear of trendy celebrity cookbooks. I’m also not interested in trendy restaurant cookbooks. But must a cookbook have recipes? I have several on the history of food. And, a few memoirs that revolve around food.

    I learned a new Australian word. “Larrikinism.” There was an article about your graffiti artist, Scott Marsh. Sometimes referred to as the Australian Banksy. Though he doesn’t care for the comparison. He actually reminds me of a political cartoonist. But instead of flogging his wares in the pages of a newspaper, he uses walls. Lew

  11. Dear Chris,

    Your writing is wonderful. Thanks for going on. I hope for another year of reading your texts and the commentaries of the erudite commentariat that coalesce around your pennings.

    I would like to share something else. On another blog you mentioned a confidence crime/scam that you witnessed.
    An interesting part of a lecture by Aldous Huxley came to mind:
    The whole lecture is great, he was indeed a sharp saw.
    Approx 1/3 into the lecture he talks about suggestibility, that 20% of the population wants to believe everything. With examples ranging from Hitler to this funny excerpt:
    “I was talking not long ago to a man who manufactures records which people can listen to in the—during the light part of sleep, I
    mean, these are records for getting rich, for sexual satisfaction, for confidence in salesmanship and so on, and he said, its very interesting, that—these records sold on a money-back
    basis—and he says there is regularly between 15% and 20% of people who write indignantly saying the records don’t work at all, and he sends the money back at once. There are on the other hand, there are over 20% who write enthusiastically saying they are much richer, their sexual life is much better etc, etc. And these, of course, are the dream clients and they buy more of these records”

    There are lots of people out there who very much like to follow.

    Best wishes to all of you for the new year!


  12. Hi Chris,
    Didn’t realize you had been writing that long. Hope you keep on for a long time.

    Glad you were able to get out to see the Christmas displays. I remember when displays were banned during the oil embargo in the 70’s. When we were kids there was a neighborhood close by that was decorated to the hilt along with moving figures in the windows. There was always a long line of traffic but I guess all the neighbors were on board for it. Personally I wouldn’t want to be near any of the huge displays that draw lots of vehicles. It’s quite beautiful when snow falls on the lights and they shine through.

    That is one beautiful sunset.

    Carla and SIL, Ritchie and their dog, Ruth came for two days arriving on Christmas Eve morning. Whenever they come it’s like they moved in – stuff everywhere. But they can pack up in no time when it’s time to leave. We all went to my sister’s for the annual Christmas Eve gathering. A few people didn’t make it due to the unmentionable but all in all it was back to normal with a crazy hat contest, white elephant gift exchange and too much food. Marty and Gwen didn’t make it but Gwen was able to stay at Marty’s and in fact is still there so they are pretty content. I imagine they’re having a junk food fest.

    Now when people are learning a new home repair skill they use You Tube primarily. Have you? Doug uses it quite a bit.

    We are finally getting our first measurable snow – about an inch as I write. Originally the forecast was 3 – 5 inches.


  13. @ Inge,

    Rooks and rookeries? How interesting. I’d forgotten about rooks. Alas! North America has no rooks, just a lot of North American crows.


  14. Chris,

    North of Seattle has about 7 inches of snow in the Lake Stevens area according to my friend who lives there. La Nina years are weird. The storm track can change any time and bury us. Or not. Could stay like this and try to freeze us out.

    Nice “Get Smart” inclusion! And stoic? With a 1-year break, I’ve lived here or other cold weather places since 1967. It’s either get used to it and deal with what weather happens or move somewhere else. I’d whinge about your weather if it occurred here with your hear extremes.

    Yes, there are asphalt shingles in Al’s area and in other places with similar climates. The BAD thing that happened wasn’t on a house, however. The State of Washington’s Dept. of Transportation decided to try an experimental road surface near Dusty, WA, which has a climate very similar toAl’s. The civil engineers decided to pave a stretch of State highway with old rubber tire shavings mixed in with the asphalt. (I’ve long maintained that many civil engineers are lacking something betwixt the ears.) Asphalt gets hot; routinely in Spokane summers, one can fry an egg on the asphalt. It’s hotter in Dusty. The rubber ignited. Yup, the road caught fire! That idea went up in flames.

    Ah, but I’m the odd American who has actually played cricket! There were a lot of Chinese and Indian subcontinent students in Fairbanks. I was pals with several of these students, so I partook in several of their cricket matches. Interesting game to play.

    Cool! Walhalla cricket ground! Thanks for the link. This quickly raises the question: does Odin have the einherjar occasionally play cricket for conditioning and as a break from their daily battles?

    Yes, the spit ball bread is full of weird chemicals. It’s laden with preservatives. Ugh. That stuff can last forever, which doesn’t make it any more edible.

    Fermenting vegetation? I like that aroma. It lets me know something good is occurring.

    Hehehe, our coldest night should be Friday, which is sorta kinda your Saturday. So, your hottest might coincide with our coldest.

    If it is technically correct, I don’t give a fig about grammatically correct, especially where the corvid species is concerned. I’m certain that the crows are smart enough to figure out the correct grammar for themselves.

    Now, if Avalanche’s mental mastication dreams are about a fresh haunch of auroch or reindeer or something like that, for that to pop into my dream wouldn’t necessarily be bad. I’d just start a fire and broil said wild beast over the open flame.

    I’ve also normally woken our dogs when having a nightmare. They appreciate it. I know I appreciate it when I’m having a nightmare, and someone wakes me up.


  15. Hi Inge,

    That’s very good news about the young bloke. I can’t be too certain about other peoples experiences, but I was always free to choose what subjects I studied. In fact, I believe that my prospects on that education front were considered to be rather poor. I have no idea as to why the adults in my life felt that way, but they were not shy about sharing such thoughts. Anyway, I’m rambling, but the comparison which springs to mind is of children being pushed by adults into specific streams of education, and that story often doesn’t play out well. I can’t be entirely sure, but I believe it may have something to do with the kids attempting to pacify the adults (for a while), and the kids having no buy-in with their educational options. So, the young bloke sounds as if he’d gotten off to a good start on that front. 🙂

    But exactly, rote learning does tend to teach a student what to think, and not how to think. I learned how to think outside of educational facilities. A bit of a shame that the skills aren’t being taught, but then maybe this way is the best? Imagine a society where a majority of people could assess what was being told to them? I reckon it might be a version of mayhem.

    Ah, well, yes, all bad luck – and a touch of personal involvement. Perhaps your son needs to slow down and take a bit more care with his activities?

    Another beautiful cool and sunny day today 74’F. Looks set to change tomorrow and get toasty warm (for a few days at least).



  16. Hi Goran,

    Thanks, I appreciate your kind words. To be candid, I have to skate a fine line with the blog, and there are many things which I’d like to write about, but yeah, things are what they are down here. We have no bill of rights or even freedom of speech, and so I have to navigate all that craziness with the topics. Some of the blogs penned in the US which I read, if written here would end up with me being slapped hard with lawsuits. Down here began as a penal colony and the legal system reflects that historic reality.

    And the folks commenting here, yourself included, are lovely, insightful and very thoughtful people. It is a pleasure for me to read the comments as they roll in.

    Thanks for the link to the lecture and I look forward to hearing it. I have to confess to never having read the book, ‘Brave New World’. I assume that you are recommending the book and author?

    Yeah the suggestibility issue is a real problem, and I can’t speak for others, but I tend to view events from the perspective of narrative, so I’ll be really curious to hear what the author has to say on the subject. Incidentally, the blog has been rather helpful for me professionally as I’m often put in the position of having to explain very complicated arrangements, and the blog writing process provides a form of training in rapidly developing a narrative and then communicating it. It’s not as easy to do as you’d imagine. 🙂

    You know, eventually it won’t be possible for people to follow, and then new and better locally adapted stories will replace the one big dominating story, and what an interesting place the world will become again!



  17. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and it’s good fun. It’s funny to realise that the blog was begun back in mid 2014. And you’ve been here for a lot of that time. Haven’t we all had some ups and downs over the years? And the farm is barely recognisable to me from what it was like back in those days. We’re kind of doing things here as time and the resources become available to do them, and so the place has evolved. By the end of the current lot of projects (maybe March at this stage) every shed would have been through two builds (build, de-construct, then reconstruct).

    Oh! I hadn’t known that had happened during the Oil embargo to the Christmas lights. Thanks for sharing the story. And I’m torn about that matter because I enjoy the light displays, but the masses of people would drive me bananas.

    Yeah, the colours of the sunset were superb that day. Out the window right now, the setting sun is producing a dusky yellow / orange hue to the sky, but that red in the photo was something else. It looks clear-ish tonight so I might grab the binoculars once it gets dark. The comet orbit is getting low to the horizon now, but who knows until you take a peek?

    Hehe! Carla and your SIL (plus Ruth) sound like delightful guests in that they don’t overstay their welcome (always a risk) and know how to clean up after themselves. I hear you about the too much food, but it’s so good and must we stint ourselves? 🙂 I’m so glad to hear that Gwen was able to stay with Marty during this time, and yup things be crazy on that front.

    Yes, I too check out utoob videos when confronted with the unknown. They’re usually pretty good. Doug is onto a winner strategy with that approach. But I didn’t need any assistance with the shed construction. Way back in the day when I first began repairing houses I used to check out how builders resolved problems in the real world. But back in those days there were no security cameras or piles of expensive building materials lying around with security fencing on construction sites like there are nowadays. Things were different back then.

    Enjoy the snow, it sounds lovely. 91’F tomorrow and then 100’F on Friday, but it will cool down after that. The shed is coming along nicely and I got half of the roof sheets up today. Might have to get up early tomorrow and finish the roof before it gets too hot.



  18. Hi DJ,

    It’s about 9.30pm here now and for once the sky looks free of clouds so I might try and get outside to see if I can get a glimpse of the comet through the binoculars. There is still a bit of light in the sky, it is a sort of blue-ish colour.

    It was a warm day here today and in the morning I put up half of the corrugated steel roof sheets on the new shed. I might have to get up super early tomorrow if I want to get the other half installed. Charcoal grey corrugated steel roof sheets are notoriously hot to touch on toasty summer days! 🙂

    I’m hearing the 7 inches of snow, and it strikes fear into my heart! What do your words actually mean: Could stay like this and try to freeze us out. I’m mildly frightened! 🙂 Of course it may be my imagination playing up. 100’F on Friday, so probably not a good outside work day. I actually had to do several hours of paid work today in the late afternoon. Yeah, no rest for the wicked, and stuff.

    Thanks! Yeah, missed it, by that much! Hehe! I loved that show when I was a kid. Apparently they used to just ad-lib through the show. You’d have to be switched on to accommodate such spontaneity, and who can forget the cone of silence which didn’t work. A fine use of plastic.

    You’re right, people acclimate to the climates they find themselves in. The old timers around here suggest that if people can survive two winters here, they’ll be around for a while to come. You’d be surprised how many can’t deal with the cold and high humidity never ending winters here. I’m always surprised when people install swimming pools when they’re located at higher altitudes in the mountain range. On average, it’s a bit cold for swimming even on the hottest of days.

    Oh no, what a disaster of an idea. And very funny too! Old tyres (different spelling down under, but same, same) burn with a stink and ferocity which is awful to behold. I’ve known of farmers who collect them and use them as fuel to burn dead livestock – such as horses. A revolting stench, but it does the job.

    On super hot days, like I mean when the air temperature in the shade pushes past 110’F, the road surfaces can become quite liquidy, and the trains have to reduce their speed because the tracks expand. Revolting weather, but sooner or later it will make a reappearance.

    Respect. Cricket is the game of gentlemen, and this marks you as a gentleman, of course if your lady says otherwise then I can only concur with her good sense. 😉 It’s quite astounding to have a game which can play for five days and end up in a draw. But there are times when it can become a serious nail biting finish. I actually enjoy the game and would like to play with a local club, but time is short and sacrifices must be made – like getting up early tomorrow. The Indian players are strong competitors, oh yeah. At school I used to captain the fourth team (i.e. we played for fun and few cared as to the outcome!)

    Walhalla would be an interesting place to encounter Odin and the Einherjar playing a game of cricket, but just to be prudent I would rather be elsewhere at the time. They have a reputation.

    Mate, I really do wonder at the sorts of food stuffs that people chuck down their maws. There is more to the old saying that you are what you eat than people actually understand.

    A wise path to take with grammatical errors and it is funny that you mention corvids. Delightful birds.

    Just going with my gut feeling here, but if either you or I actually encountered a real live Auroch, we’d crap our dacks! Hehe! But I agree it does seem safer to encounter such beasties in the realm of dreams.

    And yup, the fluffies likewise appreciate being brought out of a bad dream.

    Gotta run outside and check the comet situation. Report to follow. Venus looks quite high in the sky at the moment and the comet is meant to be to the left of Venus (from my perspective just to be technical).



  19. Hi Lewis,

    In breaking comet news (as distinct from Deep Impact news – not something you want to ever hear), the night sky tonight was clear for the first time in weeks. I had a good look around at the sky but couldn’t spot the comet at all. On the other hand I enjoyed marvelling at just how full the night sky is of stars especially when viewed through the binoculars. Several of the planets were easily spotted. And it is very dark outside as the moon hasn’t yet risen. You were right about the comet.

    Thanks for the article on food prices, and the suggestion that prices won’t come down any time soon reflects what I’m thinking about the subject. I’m a bit dodge about consuming too many soyabean products in a persons diet. I hear strange stories about what the food system is doing to people, especially the young who seem to be entering puberty early from what parents tell me. That might not be a good thing, but nobody seems to be too concerned. Oh well, strange days indeed.

    Territorial seeds would be a fave of mine if I were in your part of the world. I spent many hours earlier this year exploring the words of the bloke who set that company up. He’s a smart bloke and has much to say, and I may have read three books. His words changed the way I fertilise the vegetable patches, orchards and garden beds. Hmm, and he’s right too. His words threw a lot of my former understandings onto their head, and he now lives in the state to the south of me in a similar kind of climate.

    Six inches of snow strikes pure fear into my heart! Yes, I’m summer soft, I freely admit this. I hear you about that with the heaters. Sometimes you need a bit of additional assistance. Oh yeah. That’s as cold as it would ever get here and I’d have the wood heater ticking along all day. Brr! And yeah, I too would use the inside electric oven to bake items. I’ll bet Ruth Goodman has something to say about the kitchen being the centre of older houses?

    Thanks for the description of the ice, it sounds lovely. A year or two ago it snowed here at night and what astounded my senses was that there was so much movement all around me with the falling snow, but that was accompanied by so little sound. I listen out for the noises around me so as to be forewarned of trouble.

    Good to know that you’ve stocked up the pantry for just such an eventuality. The thing is, I doubt other people have thought that far ahead. It is possible that the 18 wheeler might have slid down the hill if allowed to get any closer. Imagine that happening. Yikes!

    Watch out for cabin fever. Many a b-grade horror film was based on that premise, and do you want to wake up to find yourself in a b-grade horror film? Certainly that would involve loads of fake blood being splashed around.

    Oh no! Nattering to themselves isn’t too bad, if they’re full on arguing with themselves, that would be a serious problem. I often wonder whether people on mobile phones are talking to themselves. I wish they’d be quieter about it, but you can’t expect miracles.

    Hehe! No stress at all about that, we all have our kryptonite. 🙂 I refuse to play the Editor in scrabble as I get wiped out. It’s brutal. But then she won’t play me in Monopoly for much the same reasons. We’ve reached an impasse and just don’t play those games.

    The protein folks seem rather enamoured of Cauliflower. I don’t eat it because the vegetable just doesn’t inspire me and I probably couldn’t grow it here anyway. I’m sure it’s fine though. People hold weird notions about vegetables, and someone once told me that (I may have erred on the vegetable) consuming celery takes more calories than it supplies. I believe that this tale is incorrect. It is possible that celery growers came up with the story in order to push product? Dunno. Potatoes come in blue, purple, yellow and red varieties too. A plant that doesn’t mind getting around a bit… 🙂

    Hmm, I expect that in the near future calcium and phosphate content in peoples diets will become something of an issue. Isn’t Vitamin D linked to the immune system? Mate, I’ve been getting plenty of that vitamin recently. It surprises me to hear of people with mineral and/or vitamin deficiencies in their diets, but always was it thus, but probably worse.

    Speaking of sunshine, I installed half of the corrugated roof sheets today. I’m hoping to get the other half installed tomorrow, before it gets too hot. A cat on a hot tin roof, has physical meaning to me. It’s stupid that dark colours are preferred for sheds rather than a surface that reflects sunlight energy. Oh well. The shed is coming along nicely, and because of the dark colour for the cladding I’ve added in additional ventilation. I pinched the ventilation idea from the chicken run which is very temperate, even on super hot days. I reckon it will work well.

    I reckon you will definitely win the Big Shed Cookbook challenge. Although I will ask them the next time we catch up. But my gut feeling suggests that you’re ahead, just. 🙂 It’s interesting, but my mates also share your perspective, and for some reason a book on ‘burgers’ caught my eye the other day when we were there. It was ostensibly a history of the foodstuff.

    Mustn’t grumble, but I had to do several hours of paid work this afternoon and didn’t finish until about 7.30pm. Something, something, bad stuff in a past life, or something like that.

    It’s a good word isn’t it? 🙂 Yes, it can apply equally to differing social stratas as it refers to the act and not the person. Pulling a burn out in a hotted up car, or an ex-Prime Muppet noted for his beer drinking prowess can both equally be described as Larrikins.

    I’d never heard of the artist. He’s based in Sydney though. His works were quite the rabbit hole. I agree, he does tend to lean towards political and also a bit of social commentary. He’s good. Cartoonists in newspapers can be err, cancelled and put out of work. It’s hard to cancel graffiti.



  20. Yo, Chris – It got down to 25F (-3.88C), last night. But what’s odd is that there was some melting, yesterday. Even though the temperature never got above -0-C, Might be because our weather station, is down in the valley, where the cool air pools. Up here on the slope, we might be slightly warmer. Or, there’s some thermal dynamic something or other, I’m unaware of. There were ice cycles hanging off the bottom of my truck.

    This morning, the sun is shining and the sky is a flawless blue. The glare off the snow is pretty feral. A flock of birds was working over the apple tree. It’s not supposed to get above -0-C, today. But then we’re having three days of temps near 40F (4.44C). But, night time lows will be about like last night. -3,88C. So, we’re going to see thaw, freeze, thaw, freeze. And there may be a bit more snow. Maybe.

    There are signs on all the garbage drops, that the garbage man has not been able to make it in. And to please hold your garbage, for a few days. Of course, as in past, some will chose to ignore that, and the dumpster will probably be overflowing. Yesterday, I saw the night manager talking to four of the Inmates, at the end of the hall. She had just posted a sign, not to run the heater, higher than a certain temperature. As it trips the circuit breaker. There was total incomprehension, all around. Mouths hanging open. Part of it was, I’m sure, “How can this be!?” and part, “You can’t tell me what to do.” I still think, there would be a lot more co-operation, in matters like this, had Management come in with a different style. Oh, well. There may be changes on that front. Maybe for the better, maybe worse.

    Sorry about the comet. One wonders what our ancestors got so excised, about.

    Oh, I think soy products in moderation, can be OK. As with a lot of things. But they stuff it in everything, these days. And as with a lot of other things, I wonder if the processing has anything to do with the side effects.

    Oh, Territorial Seed is good. I just wish they wouldn’t use the most expensive delivery service. Our Postie (who is a gardener) brought that to my attention.

    Raw cauliflower isn’t bad … as long as you have a tasty dip to smother it in. 🙂 . Well, celery. You asked. So, down the rabbit hole I went. Celery only has 9 calories per stick. Between the chewing AND metabolism, according to a 2016 study, you actually burn 19 more calories than is in the stick of celery. Mileage may vary. Of course, if you smear it with peanut butter, and lay on the raisins (Ants on a Log), all bets are off. 🙂 .

    The Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, reference, crossed my mind, yesterday. But then I thought, “Can’t use that. Chris is putting on a steel roof.” But, as long as you’re playing fast and loose with references … 🙂 .

    I’ve run out of stuff to watch from the library. So, I dipped into some of my old cooking DVDs. Great Courses, “Cooking Across the Ages.” As it comes with a book / study guide, I counted that as one unit, in my cookbook tally. 🙂 . I doubt I’ll add much to my collections, as, frankly, I’ve run out of space. Not that that will probably stop me. Sheehan had a mention of cookbooks he found the most useful. Some, I have. Some, I’d like to get. I checked out a couple of them from the library. Payard’s book on cookies (biscuits), looks useful.

    I’m glad I posted the article on the economy, to this blog. As it disapeared in short order. Yes, it’s a bit long. But I think the man has useful things to say. Referring to him as a “doomsday prophet,” was not helpful. Makes him sound like a wild-eyed nutter. And, I don’t think he is. Lew

  21. Hello Chris,

    You are completely right. We do live in interesting times, that is well known, but that our future will be even more interesting, thanks to local divergence of cultures is something I never pondered!

    And yes, I do recommend Brave New World. Especially in parallel with 1984. The main difference is that in Brave New World, the leadership uses comfort instead of fear to mold the loyal masses.
    (sidestep: I think that the SmartPhone is a kind of silicon-based soma (the fictional drug that the population is hooked on). I watched an interview with Yuval Noah Harari today, where he said that he had ditched his smartphone to minimize the temptation to fill his days scrolling…)

    I also very much enjoy the writing style of Huxley, IMHO on par with Orwell. Something to aspire for.
    And indeed, writing so that someone else can follow the thoughts is hard. Maybe empathy is the key skill?

    Take care,

  22. Chris,

    I gotta quit eavesdropping on your conversations with Lew. So, the Editor wins at Scrabble, and you win at Monopoly, which some people call Monotony. (I’m not one of them. I think it’s a great game.) This calls for some imagination and a meeting of the minds. Concoct a way to combine the 2 games and play Scrabopoly.

    If you have clear skies at least you have a chance to see the comet. Clouds galore here. Mind you, the clouds aren’t necessarily a bad thing. Without the clouds, we would be hitting those -20C temperatures. Instead, the clouds gather late in the evening, keeping things no colder than -15C. We’ve been awakening to a dusting of “fake Hollywood snow” each morning. Simple stuff to remove: brooms work wonderfully with this. We are expecting between 5cm and 10cm overnight Wednesday into Thursday. Folowing a Wednesday high of -10.5C, the snow showers should keep our temperature no lower than a balmy -13C. (Actually, balmy is the wrong word for this. There was a breeze from the north all day.)

    There have been some La Nina years in which the storms mostly dump on California. That means that the Arctic air stays over us, keeping our temperatures well below normal. If the storm track moves north to hit us, then the worst of the Arctic air will move north of us, leaving us with “normal” winter temperatures and more snow.

    Don’t forget the phones in the shoes! That was a great show. Only Don Adams could say “Missed it by that much” perfectly. It wasn’t just the timing, it was his voice, too.

    Ewww! Burning tyres and dead animal together? Revolting stench, as you said. That might be understating it somewhat?

    The Fairbanks cricket matches were for fun, so there were none of those multiple day matches ending in ties. Matches tended to end when people got hungry.

    I’m envisioning the einherjar playing cricket. I bet it would be similar to Brockian Ultra-Cricket, in which the participants bash other participants and onlookers over the head.

    I agree that meeting a real, live aurochs would scare the bejeebers out of us, among other things. Heck, meeting up with an angry moose is bad enough! They are big and strong and fast and can be mean. An aurochs would be much worse.


  23. Hi Goran,

    Oh yeah, it takes a lot of energy and stuff to centralise cultures. Even the Romans had to adapt and blend the various local cultures with theirs. Historically, divergent local cultures were more common than they are today. And the big issue which also hit the Romans hard is that they were geared to expand, and neither their culture, nor ours, have a way of dealing with decline. Who knows what will rise out of the collision between ideals and reality? Probably a blend of whatever worked in the past, and something entirely different depending on what things look like in whatever part of the world we’re talking about. When cast upon local resources, the land shapes the resulting culture and not the other way around. Anyway, that’s my best guess.

    Thanks for the book recommendation. It’s now on the to-read list. 🙂

    And oh yeah, people love those smart phones. I don’t see the appeal myself and ended up getting forced to purchase one, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to operate my business. Two Factor Authentication became a serious issue and the gobamint has its own smart phone app available on no other platform. Oh well.

    Some people can turn anything into an addiction, and you never know what that thing will be until you’re hooked on it. An unpleasant business. Like any tool, use it well, and try not to overdo it!!! Easier said than done from what I see around the place.

    Harari is an interesting person. I might well disagree with him about his view of the future.

    What a question. Empathy is harder to manage than what you’d believe, too little and the person becomes a problem to wider society, and too much empathy and the person has internal problems dealing with society. Dunno, but I’d imagine that there is some sort of middle ground position there?

    We’re getting some warmer and drier weather now and the plants are starting to grow. Plants really need the heat.



  24. Hi DJ,

    Scrabopoly! Ah, your fortune is soon to be made, if people can understand the game. 🙂 The minds in this case have met on the individual issues and we decided to not play against each other. Mate, I get totally destroyed in Scrabble by the Editor, it’s brutal. There were times I’d demand to confirm the obscure word using the Dictionary, and the dictionary was not on my side. And here’s the weird thing about it all, I’m doing the writing, not her. How does that work out? Far out.

    Oh man, last I checked it was 31’C outside and sunny. I went hard today and finished installing the roofing on the new shed. It’s looking good, but don’t look too closely at the boot prints and fine metal shavings all over the roof. 🙂 The wind and rain will wash them clean. I finished the job at about 2.30pm and the last hour and half was a bit of a trial. Sitting high up on the roof was very hot and the dark coloured steel was hot to touch. Fortunately I have a stock of Gatorade for such an occasion. And I enjoyed a very salty lunch, cleaned myself up and promptly fell asleep on the couch with Plum for half an hour. Roofing is perhaps not a job to be done on a hot day?

    There were plenty of stars in the sky last night, but no comet. A bit of a fizzer really. And oh yeah, the clouds help to keep winter weather warmer than it would otherwise be. That happens here too. Maybe it is just me, but I don’t see a great deal of difference between -20’C and -15’C, but then I have no experience with such weather. Can you actually feel that difference? I’m not sure you’d want to swap with the 38’C which is forecast for tomorrow? Interestingly, the rain looks set to return next Wednesday, so I better sort out the water tanks and drains on the new shed before then. I still haven’t worked out how to get the water tanks to the new site. I may roll them there? Not a bad option.

    I haven’t heard that the La Nina event has finished, but it usually does dissipate around this time of year. But like everything weather related, it depends! Hope things warm up for you soon and end up less extreme.

    The shoe phone was pretty funny, and it had a rotary dial too from memory. It was a clever show.

    There was a tyre dump maybe two years ago which the authorities were worried was going to be set alight. Call me cynical but I’ve noticed that many such facilities seem prone to fires. It would be impossible to put out. A fire got into an open cut coal mine a few years ago. What a nightmare scenario. Last I heard it was put out which is an impressive effort.

    Getting hungry is always a good time to stop. Out of curiosity, did you bat or bowl – or both? Thanks for the laughs, I’d forgotten about Brockian Ultra-Cricket. What a memory lapse! 🙂 Yes, hit then run and apologise from a safe distance. A sound strategy. And yes, I see what you mean about the einherjar enjoying the game.

    Do you get moose in your part of the world? I thought that they were in the land of Rocky and Bullwinkle a bit to the north of you.



  25. Hello Chris
    Thought you might like this bit of info. on the radio this morning. ‘London has had 12 minutes of sunshine in the last 16 days’. So much for solar! There was a bit more about our warm weather (it is indeed though very windy) and the extreme snow/cold elsewhere. I gathered that this was due to the current positions of the jet streams.

    Re: scrabble, a game that I hate, I suggested that every time a word was completed, the genius in question should have to supply a sentence that included the word. Not an idea that was taken up though I still think that it is a good one.


  26. Hi Lewis,

    I had a good read this morning of the dissenting economist article, which incidentally was still there for me. I agree with the blokes assessment of the situation. It’s kind of crazy how people are suggesting that the current economic policies being pursued across the globe don’t matter. They do matter. I guess the guy is hinting at the confluence of variables: unemployment; inflation and asset price maintenance. My gut feeling suggests that what is going on here right now is that it is possible to address two of the three variables, but the pressure will squeeze out of the third variable and make a mess. Like standing on a tube of toothpaste, but perhaps far worse and for a whole bunch more people.

    The Doomsday label was a poor choice of words from my opinion. It conveys an emotional additive where none was required.

    Mate, those are some cold temperatures. Hope you and H are keeping warm? You’d imagine that H would be in her element during such weather? Ah, that happens here where it is warmer at elevation over winter. My understanding is that cold air is heavy and gravity pulls it down the hill leaving the folks in the valley cold, and me hoping to avoid a frost. 🙂 I didn’t know that was how things worked when we bought this property – it was just cheap land with reliable rainfall.

    The photo of the fountain with icicles near to the library was stunning. Thanks for that as I’ve never seen such a thing before.

    Just to bring your mind around to sunnier climes. It was 93’F here today and I installed all of the rest of the roof sheeting and capping on the new shed. This morning I made an exception and got up early and just got on with the job. Finished at about 2.30pm and candidly the last hour and a half up on the hot roof in the full sun was not an enjoyable experience. Still, the job is now complete and we’re set to get on with cladding the walls of the shed. It’s looking good, but far out when I was up on the ridge capping screwing it into the timbers my skin on my knees and legs were burning hot when they came into contact with the dark coloured roof sheets. It was the punisher of a job. Mustn’t grumble though.

    Thank gawd for rehydration solutions and Gatorade. Had a lunch of freshly baked bread, tasty cheese and tasty cherry tomatoes smothered in salt and pepper. After lunch I sat for a while in a cold bath to cool off, and then promptly fell asleep on the couch for about half an hour. Plum took advantage of my winding down state and jumped up onto the couch. But yeah, hot work. Tomorrow is set to reach the ton, or 100’F.

    No, really? How can people not understand that garbage bins cannot get picked up in those sorts of Deep Snow conditions. I hear you about that, present expectations cannot be sustained, and look at the sheer craziness that is the official pronouncements as they try valiantly to paper over the mismatch. I dunno, but I do know that I would not have arranged things this way – and probably been universally hated for even trying. Best I’m not involved. I mean look what happened to your ex-Prez Carter. He at least began the hard conversation. But did anyone want to hear that? Nope.

    Hehe! No worries, I gave the comet watching thing the good Aussie-go, and it was a fizzer. On the other hand, the night sky was full of stars. There isn’t much in the way of light pollution here and when the night sky decides to put on a show, it’s a good show – just no comet (this time around).

    Yeah, exactly with the soy beans. I absolutely agree with you in that there is a middle ground there and a bit of the stuff is really good for you. But unfortunately, my understanding is that the humble bean gets used as a filler and treatment methods in the west are not the same as the treatment methods in the east. It’s possible that consumption of the bean would benefit from it being mildly fermented. Anyway, I’m no expert with that particular bean. If push came to shove I’d focus more on lentils and other legumes. The snow peas have produced some pods and they are super tasty.

    Have you considered writing in to the folks who now run Territorial seeds and asking for a slower and cheaper freight option? We don’t have a lot of choice down here in that regard so I don’t really understand what you meant. I’m able to source such seeds from the local gardening club who I’m assuming buy and trial the seeds in bulk. Many of the seeds are heritage varieties or at least will open pollinate.

    Is caca the word that you heard in relation to cauliflower? It just has very little taste to my palate and I’ve never grown it here and for all I know it is very sweet and delectable when freshly picked. The celery situation reminds me of the feasting upon rabbit meat issue. You can do it, but I dunno…

    What? No way. This is an absolute first. What happened to the library hold list you usually manage so well? And respect for adding it to the tally. 🙂 I checked the rules and you’re good to go. Hehe!

    Isn’t that the thing with collections? The Editor suggested to me to not purchase more farm equipment, but the temptation is ever present. Hey what were some of the books that Mr Sheehan suggested?

    How crazy were the folks trying to circumvent the highway closure? That’s bonkers and the amount of effort spent trying to extract them from their unwise choices is unsustainable. Years ago I had an argument with a mate who’s GPS system told him to travel down a very poor back road which the computer presented as a short cut. I knew the area well and said as much, but he just disregarded my local knowledge. The situation annoyed me, but at least I was driving and could disregard the craziness.



  27. Hi Inge,

    Exactly. It is difficult to get the concept across to people, mostly because I suspect that people don’t want to hear it. Most years I will experience at least three days where there is 15 minutes or less of peak sunlight. And I’m much closer to the equator in terms of latitude than old London town, so I cannot even imagine how things would roll there. But your report does not surprise me at all. I wish it were not true, but they really are all kidding themselves.

    I noticed that with the warmer weather today, the tomatoes have produced some flowers. It’s exciting! This year I planted them at wider spacings of two feet, but I’m experimenting with working out what works best here.

    It was a rather warm and sunny day today and I put up the rest of the roofing sheets and capping onto the new shed. By late afternoon, the steel was very hot to touch and it burned the sides of my knee caps a bit even through my overalls. Ouch! At 10pm I’m still cooling down from that work. I had to reapply sunscreen as sweat was washing it off. UV is extreme here right now, and sunscreen is necessary, although I believe it is not necessary in other less extreme parts of the world.

    The hot day ripened more of the berries too. About time. I have a love-hate thing with the warmer weather. Due to I’m guessing my heritage (far to the north of you), I can deal with hot summer days, but I don’t really enjoy them – as some people seem to be able to do. It is possible that those people aren’t working their backsides off during such hot days and maybe that is the difference?

    The forecast is for 100’F tomorrow and I have no plans to work outside in that. The 93’F today was at my upper limit, especially as I worked long into the early afternoon.

    You’ve had some shocking storms this winter. Are those sorts of weather conditions normal for your island?

    Hehe! Your suggestion was fun and a good one. Now the Editor is fond of recounting a story where she got into trouble with her English teacher in primary school, for that very reason. A complicated word was given to the classroom and unfortunately the Editor was picked to put the word into a contextually correct sentence. So she provided the following sentence (I forget what the word actually was): “I looked up (provided word) in the dictionary, but could not find it.” How funny was that response? The teacher was irate, and this is probably why children don’t learn how to think for themselves!

    Has your sons brush with ill luck turned?



  28. Hi, Chris!

    You really are a veteran writer. That’s why you are so good. And you know how to use all of that good material that you have at your fingertips – past and present – to entertain and inform. You must have a pretty good memory, too. I remember clearly when you started your blog. I was so excited because I had read your comments at ADR for years and loved them. Also, at that time I got my first laptop and didn’t have to share the family computer anymore.

    It was 72F here for Christmas, in the 60sF all week, and to be 72F again this weekend, all of it at least a steady 20F above normal. Boy, it’s great. It could easily be feet of snow. One winter we had 3 feet in one day.

    We renovated a small house in the early 1980s. It was nowhere near as bad as the one you did. In fact, it was pretty structurally sound. It was still a lot of work and I was expecting our first child so maybe I wasn’t up to speed, though I remember a lot of hard work! We lost money when we sold it and rather wished that we could have packed the sweet little house up and moved it with us.

    Yum – pumpkins to come!

    I love the tomato-rose road. Romato Lane. Roamato Road? I think DJSpo has infected me . . .

    Ah – the flowers . . . Thanks!


  29. Naughty words!!! Naughty words!!! Lost the whole darned post. How heartbreaking. I’ll reconstruct it, later. Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – Once more into the breach … It got down to 30F (-1.11C), last night. And, we got a couple more inches of snow. Prof. Mass has a pretty good post about what we’ll be going through for the next couple of day. Slush freeze. It’s now early evening and … it’s snowing, again. I wish Al and DJ would send us a nice Chinook Wind.

    A small flock of American Robins have found the apple tree. There was a Varied Thrush, on the ground, working on his apple. A Robin thought it should be HIS apple. Even though the Thrush is half the size of the Robin, he stood his ground and gave him what for. Funny how some species of birds, the Thrush, Woodpecker and Hummingbirds are pretty tolerant of people being close by. The Robins are rather flighty. 🙂

    H just powers through the snow, dragging me along behind her. But, she gets clots of ice in her paws, which are very hard to work out.

    Out on the fringe, there are a number of people very much against the Federal Reserve Board. I’d say the economic “Prophet of Doom” at least considers impacts on the “little people.” Seems like the Fed is mostly interested in big banks and Wall Street. As history rhymes, and this is like the inflation of the 1970s, I shudder to think what our next couple of presidential elections, will bring. The last time around, it was Ronnie Reagan, best bud of Maggie Thatcher. “Morning in America” (his slogan), indeed. Being an old actor, from the golden age of Hollywood, I always expected him to break into a song, accompanied by a bit of a tap dance.

    I’m glad you liked the library fountain. Right behind it, a wide series of steps, sweeps up to the colonnaded entrance of the library. It’s a favorite spot for wedding photos, and such. The fountain was not my idea 🙂 .

    Congrats on finishing the roof. “There is an end. You only have to do it once.” (© Lew). At least working on the walls, you can move around a bit, and take advantage of any shade.

    Being a small town, we can at least see the major constellations. I’ve seen the Milky Way, a few times in my life. Not to be forgotten. Like falling space junk. 🙂

    Yes, I think soy products are better for a bit of fermentation. And not jacked with chemicals, like commercial bread, to hasten the process. The soy sauce I use is fermented in large wooden barrels. I had a bit of rice, chopped up fried egg, mushrooms and peas, last night. With a bit of soy sauce on top. Brussels sprouts with butter and pepper, on the side.

    Our postal service has the cheapest shipping. You can choose. A bit slower delivery (fine by me), and you get a pretty good rate. Some sellers offer this. Then comes United Parcel Service. Then FedEx.

    Cauliflower is a delivery system for getting dip from the bowl, to your mouth. It always seems to be included on raw veg trays. Along with celery and carrots.

    All the library branches and service center have been closed since last weekend. I’ll probably get a glut of stuff, next week. Last night I watched a couple of U Tub documentaries. One of excavating a Roman British fort. The other on Herculaneum.

    Collections. Well, you have to collect the WHOLE set. 🙂

    Sheehan had some suggestions for cookbooks, for cooks. Things he found useful. The Larousse Gastronomique. McGee “On Food and Cooking.” James Beard. Julia Child. Dornenburg and Page (?). Pepin. Payard (Cookies / biscuits). Patricia Wells (Salads). Most of these people are strong on technique.

    He also recommended the French Laundry (that’s a restaurant) cookbook. Which I think might have been a case of restaurant envy. Not to be confused with the other kind of envy. Though given the macho world of the chef … 🙂 Lew

  31. Hi Pam,

    I’m glad that you got your parents out of Colorado. I tell you this truly, don’t you feel that there are times when you are only ever one step ahead of whatever horrid thing is coming along after us? Far out. It pays to be alert, and as someone amusingly suggested to me years ago: the world needs more lerts! You did really well doing that recovery trip all those months ago and I hope that your Christmas wasn’t too crazy as a result?

    Thank you for writing that. It is a pleasure to share the farm and the stories with you too. 🙂 Candid disclosure alert!!!! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! (that’s a klaxon warning siren) I might not have mentioned it before, but another of the reasons why I began writing the blog was that way back in those old ADR early years I used to write that I was doing this and that (as colourful background to the other more pertinent and occasionally relevant comments) and I thought to myself that I better add some photos otherwise people might get the wrong impression! It’s still fun over in the new improved version of Mr Greer’s writing. He always has something interesting to say and despite the distance I count him as a mate.

    Wow, that’s a warm Christmas, and about the same as what I enjoyed (except that UV here was rated as extreme). Yeah, it is pleasant weather I hear you about that. On the other hand it was 102’F here today with the same for tomorrow. But not to worry, next Wednesday looks set to deliver between one to two inches of rain and a return to cooler conditions. The corn and tomatoes are loving the hot weather.

    You’re a real trooper to have continued to work on the house with the first child on the way. And it is technically feasible to relocate houses and there are businesses down here that do just that job, although they have to be weatherboard houses. Relocating a brick house is a bonkers idea, but I’m sure someone has attempted it – somewhere. Imagine that level of crazy? And yes, I too have lost money on a house that I put a huge amount of effort into. Try suggesting that possibility to people nowadays and you’ll get looks of blank incomprehension. Oh well…

    🙂 The Editor suggests that this week will be all roses. And you could do worse than following DJ’s amusing take on the world.



  32. Hello Chris
    The teacher should have laughed and then complimented the Editor on her superb sentence.
    I don’t think that there is a norm for our weather here other than that it is always warmer than the mainland.
    No further disasters have hit Son and the truck has gone for repair; admittedly at extreme financial cost.
    I have never noticed that proximity to each other effects tomato plants one way or the other.


  33. @ all
    I can’t remember who thought that I don’t care for white veg. Not so. Roast celeriac is, in my opinion, the finest veg. there is.


  34. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry to hear that the interweb ate your words. It’s a hungry beastie which sometimes can and will devour tomes without prior warning, and all in the blink of an eye. A sad state of affairs. However, on the other hand I recall that we’ve discussed way back in the day, that mail order catalogues were hung from a string in the back of the out house. Now of course being an out house, the catalogue was read and then err, how do I put this politely, used. 🙂 I reckon I can say with a good degree of probability of certainty that nobody anywhere has ever taken a physical dump on my writing. See, comments can occasionally disappear, but there are at least some technical advantages to this here interweb forum!

    Far out man, it was 102’F here today. We closed up the house this morning and put all of the fire shutters over the windows. The shutters are a strong stainless steel mesh and they let the light through but resist the heat – as does the double glazing which runs to almost half an inch thick of glass. The windows were a crazy fire requirement, but from hindsight were probably worth the expense and hassle (they were very heavy during construction). The whole house is now open letting in the cooler evening air, and the shutters also allow me to sleep soundly.

    A car just went past on the road and raised a huge volume of dust which drifted down across the orchard and house. The hot weather today dried out everything but wow did the corn and tomatoes love the heat or what? I reckon the corn seedlings doubled in size today. A bit like Audrey II from The Little Shop of Horrors – yes, yes it’s a musical! 🙂

    Birds know and can assess a situation based upon past experiences. Take for example the family of magpies which has lived here for as long as I can recall. They know that the Editor and I are OK and mean them no harm. They additionally know Ollie means them no harm, but they sure know to fly away when the two Kelpie girls are running amok. Super smart birds, and I have no doubts that the Thrushes are observing you very closely and might even hold opinions as to your good intentions. Mate, if I were as small and vulnerable as a Robin, I’d be fast and flighty too. Birds from what I’ve observed are very happy to consume other birds.

    Poor H! Clots of ice sound horrendous. Have you ever considered clipping the fur around the bits that attract the worst of whatever environmental issue which happens to be around? The Pomeranian’s I’ve known over the years have had to have their coats attended too. Spare a thought for the now deceased very furry Sir Poopy whom I got clipped regularly during the summer months. He suffered in this hot and arid country with no reindeer, but totally loved the chance to run down a herd of Sambar deer. It was in the blood.

    I agree with your summation and fears, but this time around there is no North Slope or North Sea oil fields with which to pump dry with abandon. A bit of a shame that. What we might experience soon is the words, without the energy juices to back them up. What a fine mess that will be. Still they might just fade away through an inability to deliver the goodies and become increasingly shrill yet irrelevant. It is the risk they run.

    Hehe! Yeah, I didn’t mind the fountain at all. Sure it’s a bit over the top, but it lends something to the overall composition. So many buildings and public arenas these days are rather unpleasant to be confronted by, so wedding photos on the steps are a rather positive vote of approval on the part of the wider public.

    Thanks for saying that about finishing the roof. I would have gotten back into the wall cladding job today, but 102’F in the shade is too hot for me. Instead we hid inside the much cooler house and did paid work, and can you believe that even on New Years Eve I was getting email queries which ended up being a total nothing burger? No thanks either. Mate I tell ya truly, I’ve done something very super bad in a past life to have to work so hard. Oh well, moving on. And yup, the walls should be an easier job.

    The Milky Way is very easy to see here on a clear night. Usually winter provides better viewing than summer when the Eucalyptus trees emit their oils which adds a certain haze to the air. It’s a spectacular sight too and you can even see the lesser or greater Andromeda galaxy (I forget which it is), but in the big smoke, most people only get to experience a few of the brighter stars and planets. It truly is a poor sky there. The International Space Station at 400 odd tonnes will make quite the splash in the sky when it finally falls back to Earth. Awesome to behold, and hopefully you and I are nowhere near the landfall!

    Well that’s it isn’t it? Some plant products have traditionally required processing by say fermentation in order to extract the essential pan juices, or the best from the plant product. Can you imagine the extraordinary work and plain old good luck and observation which went into learning those processes? But I’m a bit dodge on unprocessed soya beans as a fill. Look I could well be wrong in that belief and would be happy for someone to correct my beliefs, but until then. And yup I too love soy sauce. It’s a great additive to rice dishes. Yum!

    The postal service here is pretty good too down here for deliveries. As far as I am aware, nothing for me has ever been lost that I’ve known about – and how good is that? Couriers are pretty expensive and a month or so back a courier delivered something from the other side of the big smoke to here and it cost me about $140. Mind you, I didn’t have the time to head over there and grab the stuff and nobody locally was supplying the goods. What else do you do?

    Ah. This week is a holiday closure for your library system. Mostly businesses here close down for about two to three weeks it being summer and all, however it varies and the customer facing businesses have less opportunity for that break. I deal with all sorts of businesses and so hardly ever have an uninterrupted week away from paid work. But then I also arranged my entire life around that outcome, and few other people seem to want to provide that sort of service. It’s an unfulfilled niche.

    Oh Lewis, lead me not into temptation. The WHOLE set you say? 🙂

    Out of curiosity, do you come across books on food which discuss how the ingredients work together to create a coherent whole? I’m not particularly a fan of novelty and my palate can detect unusual and inappropriate background flavours, so perhaps I have a form of bias with that thinking? Not sure really.

    Oh yeah, Mr Sheehan really told it like it was with that culture. I kind of believe that if I had to work in that culture I’d shop around until I found one that fit. It doesn’t seem at all unusual that those workplaces have high turnover of employees.

    It’s cooling down now.



  35. Hi Inge,

    Hehe! I just asked the Editor about the reaction, and the teacher expressed the opinion that she was a smarty-bum. I dunno, school does not encourage critical or independent thinking, and that was a good example. A bit of a shame that, but what do you do? When I ran the graduate program for a big corporate I really tried hard to get the graduates to think for themselves on the basis that it saved me a lot of work and hassle.

    And I used to let them try and fail. Such experiences were a better teacher than I could be, and if they didn’t want to listen to advice or take guidance, who am I to stop them?

    But you know I recall in English classes that I was requested to write a creative style of essay. So I’d write something very creative, and was marked poorly as a result. English was my worst subject if only because I had no idea as to what the criteria was for the answers. The other subjects were perhaps more honest in their requirements for rote learning. 🙂 English classes pretended that it were otherwise.

    Thanks for your perspective on your climate. It was 102’F here today and I did not work outside. No way. Apparently the rains will return on next Wednesday and the air will cool down again. It has not been much of a growing season this year.

    Yes, clutches are very expensive to replace and glad to hear that your sons bout of troubles is over for the present. Such times make me feel a bit twitchy as if I’ve annoyed some minor deity who seeks revenge upon my carelessness! Actually, from another point of view, it is not a bad idea to replace such a consumable item in a motor vehicle. I doubt that the items are made in your country nowadays.

    Usually in warmer years spacing with tomato plants has not been an issue here either, but cold years can be challenging for me because the soil does not get warm enough on average and the extra sunlight provided by the wider spacing warms the soil – and the plant grows better. I read a thought somewhere recently which suggested that plants grow at night, and so I reduced the watering regime towards the end of the afternoon, and that seems to have helped keep the soil warmer. Dunno, I’m learning on the job so to speak!



  36. Hello again.
    Surely the teacher didn’t use such language?
    I used to get good marks for my essays but remember getting a very bad mark on one occasion and feeling much aggrieved and thinking ‘ didn’t she realise that I was trying to do something different and very difficult’.
    Son just came to say that his truck was ready for him to collect. He is astounded having guessed that it might be at least 2 weeks. Mind you the cost is over £900!


  37. Yo, Chris – It got down to 30F (-1C), last night. One more cold night, and then we’re back to warm(ish) rain. Looks like a lot of the snow melted off my truck, yesterday. This afternoon I’ll walk down to the other end of the building, and access the slope, down to the intersection. Might even manage to get out for a cuppa.

    I’ve lost the plot. How were the catalogues used? Reading material? 🙂

    Well, that is hot! Given the choice, I’d rather deal with cold, than that kind of heat. Without the snow. I am so over the snow and ice. But, that heat. Good for your corn and tomatoes.

    Oh, H needs a good trim. Before, I cut the worst of the mats out. I’m not allowed, anymore. :-). Other than a bit under her tail. When the weather gets back to normal, she’ll probably go to the groomer. Once the caregiver is settled in and the weather gets more predictable. But, no matter what’s done, it won’t be “right.” From Elinor’s point of view. Oh, well. It grows out. Were she my dog, she’d have more of a terrier cut, all the time. Easier to maintain.

    The folks from Mexico have a big bash for girls, when they reach their 15th birthday. It’s called Quinceanera. Do a search and check out the images. It’s quit a blow out. The young girls in fantastic gowns and young boys turned out in formal wear. I’ve seen several parties, using the library as a backdrop for photos.

    Well. Tonight’s New Year’s Eve. That kind of snuck up on me. I suppose there will be fireworks, and other loud noises.

    Early on, there were people who claimed not to get deliveries. Turns out the postal service has a very cheap (under $1) tracking extra, you can throw on a package. That cut the bogus “not delivered” down to a minimum.

    Well, the library has not been on a holiday. Oh, the odd day around Christmas and New Years. But they’ve been closed due to weather. All 27 branches, all seven counties.

    There is some material out there, about flavors enhancing one another. Or, not. But you never know when an unlikely mashup may prove very tasty. One time, an old guy showed up at a Club potluck with what looked like brownies. Made with Valveeta cheese product. Said it was his mother’s recipe. Probably, one of those horrendous recipes from the 1950. But, I gave it a go. It was really tasty! I had a second (larger) piece.

    My friends in Idaho are buying another house. I suppose they’ll rent out the duplex they’re living in, now. They were feeling a little cramped, and, she says she needs a project to work on. Whatever. At least this one has a wood stove :-). Lew

  38. @ Pam,

    It has been years since I was considered contagious! I’m glad I could add something. 😉


    @ Lew,

    A tree fell on my sister-in-law while she was driving in snow a few years ago. Very serious injuries resulted. Had she been 4 inches taller, aka my wife’s height, she would have died. As it is, the broken bones in her spine caused her to lose 2 inches in height. Her health has never been the same since, either. “Avoid getting hit be falling trees”, I say.


  39. Chris,

    “And you could do worse than following DJ’s amusing take on the world.” Thanks for that! That brightened my day.

    Not that the day was dark, by any means. The sun was shining most of the day. Which means that the skies are clear, so that tonight actually WILL get down to nasty temperatures, say -20C.

    To answer some of your questions…Having grown up here back in the days where these temperatures occurred most winters, I have some abnormal views on “extreme” cold. When growing up, we used to flood our back yard during the first cold snap so that we could ice skate in our yard. Several neighbors also did this, and we’d take turns skating at each other’s homes all winter. Of course, by late February and March, the yard was a sodden mess of standing water for several weeks.

    Meanwhile, I don’t view cold temperatures here to be extreme until they drop below -25C. Or if there is a windspeed greater than 15 km per hour at -17C. I really don’t notice much difference in temperature between say zero C and -8C, by which temperature I need an extra layer on my legs. The next break comes at about -18C, below which point my boogers freeze inside my nose. So I CAN tell the difference between -15C and -20C due to freezing boogers. Oh, and I need to have something over my face to breathe through by -20C. The next real change hits at -29C, which is just plain uncomfortable and necessitating a lot of additional layers and mittens rather than gloves. The coldest weather I’ve been in was -34C, both in Fairbanks and in Spokane. The experts in Alaska said that the next big change hits at -40C, which also happens to be -40F. They also said everything shuts down and nobody goes outside at -57C. I just know that below -20C, I don’t do anything strenuous outdoors.

    The type of roof matters not. Roofing is a job not to be done above 30C. Too hot. Mad dogs and Englishmen…And yes, roll the water tanks. If it’s a mild downhill, even better. If it’s a steep downhill, the editor can roll them down to you, the barrel catcher. Hmmm, I just invented a new job, barrel catcher. 😉

    Yes, this is about when the La Nina fades. The precipitation and temperature effects for us are usually delayed from when the event starts and stops. The winter of 1968-1969 was a typical time frame for a La Nina winter, as was the winter of 2007-2008. In both of those, winter really hit with a vengeance in January. Early January in 1969 and late January in 2008. A few years ago, a La Nina winter was mild until February 4. 6 weeks of endless snow followed.

    There was a property west of town that was used as a tyre dump for many years. It caught fire once. Nasty to put out. Tyre dumps and fires lead me to think that spontaneous combustion can happen under certain conditions.

    Cricket? I batted. Or TRIED to bat. I played too much baseball. The swinging technique is decidedly different in baseball and cricket. Different like the Heart of Gold spaceship kept dispensing a drink to Arthur Dent that was almost exactly unlike tea.

    Do we get moose here? Oh yeah. My brother-in-law and I played tag with a young bull while late season archery hunting for elk once in December. But that was fairly high in the mountains southeast of town. The young bull was pretty scared of us. There’s a bull moose in this neighborhood, also. It’s a straight shot down an arterial from 5 Mile Prairie to the Spokane River. Sometimes he detours and wanders a kilometer east of the arterial and visits this part of the neighborhood. He left a large calling card in the front yard once which got added to the compost pile.


  40. Hi Inge,

    Yes, the teacher did indeed use such language sorry to say. I would have been amused by the response and then posed another challenge, but that’s me. It is a sad way to stomp learning.

    Exactly, as far as I can understand the requirements is that you were being graded as to whether you met the requirements – whether they were explicitly stated or not. To deviate outside of those requirements invited the ire of the teachers. I’d be curious as to your opinion in the matter, but it is assumed that we know the objectives of such institutions, but it is possible that we don’t know. I was very disappointed upon discovering that University was more of the same.

    I’m uncertain as to what you mean by the word ‘truck’ as that can mean many different things depending upon the country. But that would have been the price I’d imagined that it would cost to perform the repairs. It is a complicated job, but can be done in a day.



  41. Hi DJ,

    🙂 How’s the snow? Far out that is some seriously cold weather. Stay warm, and did it end up getting that low? It was another hot day today here, and now it is cloudy and the heat can’t escape. It’ll probably be another very warm night.

    That’s a rather ingenious was to create a temporary ice skating rink. 🙂 You were lucky that the water pipes didn’t freeze before you could flood the yard. Do the water mains ever get cut due to seriously hard freezes?

    The freezing booger test sounds very reliable and surely someone, somewhere must have written a paper on the subject? Oh my, those extreme low temperatures sound revolting. By comparison, with the hot weather I get up early and work until lunchtime. After lunch my brain shuts down and only a brief nap and some rehydration solution – i.e. salts – can cure the heat exhaustion.

    How could anyone survive for long at -57’C? It would be akin to standing on the surface of a cold spot on Mars. Why anyone would want to travel there is beyond me.

    Haha! I don’t think so about attempting to catch several hundred kilograms of plastic rolling at me at speed. 🙂 Nope, controlled descent will be the way of it. Hobbits rode barrels out of the dark elves stronghold in The Hobbit.

    I dunno about the fading La Nina this year, but in most years it does dissipate at this time. The rains look set to return on Wednesday with a vengeance. There is a tropical cyclone ‘Seth’ off the east coast of the continent right now which appears to have stalled over the ocean. It’s picking up moisture the entire time it hangs over the ocean and we’ll apparently get the outer edge of the storm – which is termed an east coast low. A lot of rain is forecast. I’d better get the drainage and water tanks sorted out for the new shed over the next few days before it arrives.

    The other thing with those tips are that nobody really knows what’s in the guts of them. And there are always the occasional arsonists around – pesky folks. One of them made life around here a bit of a misery over half a decade ago.

    Ah, thanks for that. Yes, I can see how the technique for batting would be different. Baseball isn’t played much down here, but softball is, or at least it was when I was a kid. Due to the health subject which dare not be mentioned, I’ve heard anecdotal accounts that many local rural sport teams are having a hard time getting people to play. I don’t believe that it is due to fear, but more due to interruption – players went off and did something else with their lives.

    Ah, your bull moose is a very thoughtful fellow to leave you with a gift. 🙂 The Sambar deer here are an occasional pain, but the dung beetles sure do enjoy their scats. Still, I would not fence or net the orchards as that would deprive many critters of an easy feed – and each of those critters adds to the fertility of the farm.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the dash-cam footage of the tree falling onto the highway. The driver sure did get lucky, and I doubt that at that speed and in those conditions that the car would have been able to pull up to a stop.

    🙂 Yes, save your hair! Far out man, I’ve noticed that hair seems to get thinner as people age, but whatever. My grandfather was bald as an egg in his early twenties, from what he told me. WWII might have been a touch stressful? A very long time ago I did a very stressful job where the folks employing me used to be very negative. What’s with all that negative energy dudes? But yeah, my hair began falling out whilst working there due to the stress and crazy long hours of that environment. Some grew back after I quit, but it was never quite the same, and by the time I’m your age, our hair patterns will most surely be aligned. 🙂 I’m guessing that the future will be err, interesting and this probably indicates mild levels of stress!

    Glad to hear that you made it to the Club for a cuppa today. How was attendance given the conditions?

    Oh you’re like super cheeky! You know how the catalogues were used twice in the single sitting during an out house adventure. 😉 Makes for a rough wipe. Had some mates in a share house years ago who put the telephone book to such a use. Worked for them and saved mad cash, and I call that ingenuity. It’s funny that these days something like the old phone book just wouldn’t get published and distributed. I’m sure that having such public data would be tempting to some nefarious sorts, but still in the past we just didn’t need the sort of crazy high tech approaches that get taken these days. And back then people who needed it, could specify that they wanted a private number, it wasn’t a difficult thing to obtain.

    The corn almost doubled in size again today. Given we have to move many of the water tanks, I’m being rather liberal with the watering regime for a few locations about the farm. From my perspective it is better to use the water appropriately and thus empty the water tank, than waste the water by just dumping it.

    It was hot again today, and we worked in the morning, had a late lunch and then a brief siesta. It works at this time of year, and unfortunately I have to get up early again tomorrow and work. Something, something, super naughty in a past life.

    Mate, I’m occasionally a thrill seeker and would just get H groomed for the conditions – or do the job myself. And yes, I agree a terrier cut would be about right during the warmer summer months. But it really doesn’t matter much, Elinor holds her opinions and need you fight over those? Life is short and you have to pick your fights.

    I had not heard of the Quinceanera ceremony before, but from my perspective our culture sadly avoids marking time and does its level best to avoid imposing obligations – and benefits – upon the population. And initiation ceremonies have kind of been hijacked too and end up being light weight imitations of an earlier time – like the first time you get drunk with your mates. There are better ways to conduct a society, but few seem to want such a rigid outcome. And I guess there are reasons for that.

    Yeah, who knew that another year has just finished? I often make jokes early in the the new year with people I know by saying: It’ll be Christmas again soon. I dunno, somehow it seems more funny to me than them, and you’d probably call it a groaner?

    Wow. That’s a lot of closures due to the weather. Your hold list might not be a priority when they open back up again. Hey, have you heard of any building damage from the snow?

    Yes, the out of left field mash-up. Makes sense, although I have no idea what Valveeta cheese product is. Never heard of the stuff. Sometimes I imagine that sports teams miss those opportunities when they get stuck with a mindset which suggests that only certain outcomes can prove a winning combination. They’re wrong and it is not an adaptive strategy. For some odd reason I’m getting utoob recommendations for the film Moneyball. I have no idea why, but I do enjoy the authors writing.

    Yes. Get – A – Wood – Stove. I can’t make it any simpler than that. And get a good one. Nuff said.

    Decided to write tonight, and the patterns tell me that it is a Sunday, but my brain suggests that it is a Saturday. Very confusing… 🙂



  43. @ DJ – “Boogers … boogers … ” Used to terrify Used to terrify younger siblings. 🙂

    Terrible story about your sister-in-law. Life’s a crap shot.

    I saw a headline, that the temperatures in Alaska, are warmer than S. California. It’s a year where everything is upside down. Hmm. There was an old Revolutionary War marching song, “The World Turned Upside Down.” As I remember. 🙂 .

  44. Yo, Chris – It got down to 18F (-7.77C) last night. But that looks like the end of it, for this go-around. For at least the next week, temperatures are well over freezing. Oh, a few nights the forecast flirts with -0-C, but nothing seriously lower. So, the Great Freeze is over, and now the Great Thaw will begin. There’s a lot of rain on top of the snow melt. I suppose we’ll be seeing flood watches, now.

    I flirted with the idea of going down to the Club, this morning, but think I’ll just sit tight. Might go down, this evening. Tomorrow morning. Might even make it to the store.

    If bad luck comes in three’s, does that also follow for good luck? Maybe the fellow who dodged the tree, should have bought a lottery ticket, that day?

    If I could just move some of the very thick hair I have, from the sides and back to the top … Oh, yeah, that’s what they do with hair plugs. You think that with all the Wonders of Modern Medical Science, they would have come up with something more benign, by now. Given the huge amounts of money that have been poured into that area of research. There’s mad cash, to be made.

    Well, that explains the run on personal paper products. (AKA, TP). It’s the shortage of catalogues and phone books. 🙂 . Getting a phone number, these days, can be an ordeal. Wading through all the websites that offer to get you a number for “a small nominal fee.” When the information is out there for free … if you can find it. The library has many free data bases, including phone numbers.

    Someone was working at our library service center, either today or yesterday. I had a book “In Transit” since before the freeze. Katz’s new book on fermentation. This morning, I noticed another book had slid into “In Transit.” A book about Ray Harryhausen. Who is he, you might ask. “…animator and special effects creator.” He was responsible for a lot of those monsters, you see in 1940’s and 50’s sci-fi movies. And who can forget his skeleton army from “Jason and the Argonauts.” His last film was “Clash of the Titans.” In certain parts of the nerd-verse, he da man! 🙂 .

    Yup. Christmas will be here before we know it. More’s the pity. With the holidays and weather closures and openings, my days are also all mixed up. Or, they feel that way. Ever take a nap, and have that moment of disorientation, when you’re not sure if the sun is coming up, or going down? Happens.

    I don’t think we got enough snow, to cause any serious building damage. Now frozen pipes …

    If you’re curious about what $185,000 buys, in Council, Idaho, do a search for “102 Bleeker, Council, Idaho.” Actually, given the current property market, I think that’s a bit on the low side for 3 bedrooms and a bath. Must have been priced for quick sale. Lew

  45. Hi Chris,

    I like heat. 30C isn’t hot; it’s just about perfect. I can work for a long time at 30C. 40C, on the other hand, that’s too hot to work in.

    We ended this abnormally warm December with yet another abnormally warm high temperature of 68F/20C on the 31st. Much colder weather is entering our area today. Tomorrow’s high is predicted to be 22F, with the low Monday morning around 9F/-13C. But at least the snow is staying to the north of us.

    @ DJ – my father occasionally made an ice rink in the back yard when we lived in Ann Arbor, MI during my childhood. The city made an ice rink in the park a block away every winter and put up a warming house with benches so we could put our ice skates on in the warming house. We skated there often.


  46. Hi Claire,

    Hehe! It was that hot here today and we did 5 hours hard work on the shed. I’d like to put your claim to the test here to see how it stacks up under local conditions! 🙂

    You got me wondering though. It turns out that down here during summer, we’re physically closer to the sun than your part of the world ever gets during summer due to the elliptical orbit of the planet. So the summer weather is actually different here, which is also probably why so much of this continent is arid. Not quite a desert, but arid all the same. Plus the other thing is that the ozone layer is thinner here, and on top of that there is less air pollution from natural and artificial sources and so we enjoy even more UV radiation than you’ll ever experience. The air temperature may be the same, but the sun is an absolute knock out to experience in the flesh.

    Here is a short article from NASA about the subject: Aerosols over Australia.

    Temperature extremes always worry me, and you don’t necessarily want a warmer winter, so it is good to hear that conditions are shifting. Plenty of fruit trees and other plants require hundreds of hours of temperatures below 7’C in order for them to produce fruit. I’ve had some winters which pushed that envelope and the trees grew, but fruit production was minimal that year.

    Yup, we mess around with the biosphere at our peril. A bit of snow is nice – from my perspective that is, although I would have no idea what to do if confronted by a wall of snow. It probably wouldn’t be good for my continuing health! 🙂



  47. Hi Lewis,

    The fish rain was pretty creepy, and it makes me wonder just how far those water spouts could suck the little fishies? Probably for quite the distance I’d imagine. It’s a bizarrely random way of nature re-stocking fish at considerable distances from waterways that might not otherwise connect up.

    And, I just discovered thanks to Claire’s comment, that down under, we’re physically closer to the sun during the summer months, than the northern hemisphere ever gets due to the planets elliptical orbit around the sun. That was news to me. Little wonder people look forward to the summer months in your northern climes. It can be a bit challenging here.

    We got up early this morning (Yikes!) and continued to work on the shed. Clad one side of the shed, and made it to about half way through the other side before the sun started to seriously cook us. Ouch, it burns my preciossssess (said in best Gollum voice).

    Don’t underestimate those Finns for a novel solution to a pesky large repair bill. And they looked like they were all having a fun time. Having purchased some very large LiFePO4 batteries for the house at considerable expense, I’m a bit concerned about issues such as longevity, but nobody really knows how things will work out with this stuff. It all depends on chance and usage, and batteries are great as long as you don’t use them.

    Anyway, we know how the bloke felt about the repair bill. It amazes me that the batteries lasted that long.

    Snow, then flooding has a kind of biblical ring to it, as in a bad thing. 🙂

    Did you make it to the store? I dunno about wet and icy conditions, it seems a touch risky. On the other hand your larder may have been depleted?

    You’ve got a point there. Hmm. Now that I consider the matter, people do tend to focus more on bad luck than good luck. This may suggest something about peoples expectations. However, I have noticed that people who win the lottery, more often than not, lose the random gains. The thing about winning is that people can become accustomed to the expectation, when it is not necessarily a likely outcome. Hmm.

    Isn’t it a bit like hover-boards and nuclear fusion? All that research on hair loss, and we’re still a bit on the short side of that situation. I heard an amusing joke about the use of pubic hair in plugs – It’ll straighten out eventually… 🙂

    Really? Well I hadn’t known that about library databases. Interesting. I thought that it may have been some sort of privacy issue, but I’d imagine that there wasn’t much money in printing phone books and then distributing them around and yeah, quietly ditched.

    Oooo! I’ll be curious to read your review of Katz’s latest instalment. Always interesting. I’d never heard of Ray Harryhausen, what a giant of the arts. And an inspiration to some big names in that medium.

    Mate, sometimes the alarm goes off, and the evil beast gets switched off and I fall back to sleep. That’s a risk. 🙂 Did I mention that I got up early this morning? It’s something of an achievement, but far out it was hot in the early afternoon sun. I was glad to have started work early.

    It’s a sleepy old town. Compared to here, it’s pretty affordable.

    Better continue writing! 🙂



  48. Yo, Chris – As far as fish falling out of the sky, who can forget “Sharknado?” 🙂 . Which was a documentary, right?

    That’s a great deal of progress, on the shed. Now you’ve got a bit of shade to catch your breath in. No argument here. I am also “not a morning person.” But as I’m a slave to the Little Miss, next door, my alarm goes of at 8:45, every day. Which I make up for with a very long nap, every afternoon.

    The weather is on the warm. The overnight low was at 10pm, last night. 30F (-1C). Since then it’s been a steady rise. It’s 9am and the temperature is 36F (2.22C). It’s on it’s way to 43F (6.11C). The streets will be sloppy, and there may even be a bit of minor flooding, as the drains will be plugged with slush. But, still, easier to get around in than a solid sheet of ice.

    Yup, I made it to the store, last night. The trip there and back was over mostly solid ice. Walking in the parking lot was dangerous. I almost didn’t make it out of my parking spot. The wheels just spun … Oh, there wasn’t anything I couldn’t have done without, but, I thought the streets would be in better shape, by then. And, I’m heading down to the Club this morning. With me gone a week, the food pantry took a pretty hard hit. There were a few tinned goods, on sale, that I wanted to take in with me, this morning.

    The library data bases are pretty cool. Some are open access, some you can access from home, with a library card. Some you can only use in the library. It really depends on the agreement made with whoever owns the data base. During my time at the library, I introduced many a young gear head, to the wonders of the automotive data bases. Repair information, with plenty of sketches, that could be printed out.

    I dug through the small pile of DVDs, I have. Found a couple that I hadn’t watched, that someone had given me, somewhere, along the way. Bela Lugosi in “The Devil Bat,” (1940) and “The Giant Gila Monster (1959). The special effects were pretty funky. Mr. Harryhausen had nothing to do with these films. But they were pretty fun, in their own way. Especially the Gila Monster. Monster threatens a bunch of hot rodding teen-agers, and they may have to cancel the sock hop! The horror, the horror. 🙂 .

    Of course, my friends in Idaho, didn’t pay the list price, for the new house. As she pointed out. 🙂 . It has to have an inspection, on Wednesday. If it passes that, all systems are go. Lew

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