Better off super-chill

Recently, I haven’t been taking care of myself. I’d actually forgotten what it was like to feel relaxed. Hardly surprising after all. It’s come after two of the craziest years that I can recall. And as an old fella I can actually recall a few years. Yeah, frickin crazy days. On Friday morning I remarked to Sandra, that I would do no work, and I did exactly that. It’d been about my fifth day off work in about four months.

I can’t keep up the pace, what with everything going on in the background. Something had to give. Things have been really weird down here for about two years now. Let’s not forget the police and military checkpoints which I had to regularly navigate. Those things set my heart racing despite me having the appropriately signed papers and proper ID. Or the constant reminder on the news that X number of people had died that day due to the health subject which dare not be named – and that was repeated on the hour, every hour. Plus plenty of businesses were shut – for our safety of course, like music and dancing, which seems to have been viewed as something of a real problem.

Turns out the health subject which dare not be named has apparently produced something like a 4.6% increase in mortality when compared to the previous five years. And I believe that three quarters of the people who died, had three or more other health issues. That’s according to the statisticians at the Australian Bureau of Statistics, hardly what you’d describe as an excitable mob. I recall one news article proclaiming what a tragedy it was that some bloke who was 100 had died. Far out, at this rate with all the ongoing background stress, I’m not entirely sure that I’ll make it anywhere near that hallowed age. You know, I’m sure the statistics is a comfort to my old mate Mike. He died a while back and apparently his medical appointments had been allegedly cancelled due to fear that he’d get you know what. Look, it’s hardly the 50 million dead from the Spanish flu in 1919 when there were four times less people on the planet. But it ain’t even close to the estimated 30% to 60% of the European population killed from the Black Death. Hmm. Serious mortality rates I’ve noted, generally follow a famine or great and prolonged hardship. And last I checked, the supermarket seemed fairly well stocked, despite a few minor shortages.

It’s frankly a relief to see that articles on the health subject have now dropped to two thirds of the way down the interweb news pages. But with oil prices over US$90 per barrel, I doubt that things will return to normal any time soon.

Anyway, the constant poking, prodding and intrusions for almost two years now has worn me down a bit. Plus we’d been motivated by the various inexplicable material shortages to set some serious goals for upgrading the farms infrastructure. We reached for the stars with our goals! However, we didn’t quite achieve all of those starry goals, but all the same, we’ve produced some amazing results.

By Friday morning though, I’d had enough and called for a day off. Our main goal in recent times had been constructing the new larger replacement shed. That project is not completely finished, but it’s good enough, and it is far better than any previous arrangement we’d had at the farm. The only other non negotiable deadline facing us was to bring in the remainder of the firewood before the summer ended.

The sun sets in a partially cloudy sky

Summer has been very cool and mild. The nights have been cold again. I’m having doubts that the tomatoes will ever ripen, and over night moisture settles on the ground of an early morning. The moisture is not much good for firewood left out in the paddock to dry in the sun. The stuff is best stored away when it’s super dry. So we spent a day hauling and stacking firewood just to ensure the firewood job was completed for this season. It was a relief to get the job done at this time of year without disturbing any crazy deadly poisonous snakes. Do they really have to be the second deadliest snakes on the planet?

The secondary firewood storage now contains enough

Ah, no more urgent deadlines, plus a day off with no fixed plans. It was like heaven for me. A very tasty Bánh mì was consumed. I may have even had an afternoon nap on the couch accompanied by a Kelpie dog. It was pure bliss doing nothing of any consequence, and just the sort of day I needed.

With no pressing deadlines and a bit of relaxation time enjoyed, future projects can now be done at a more leisurely pace. It was a pleasure to break ground on a new project this week, and just take things a bit slower.

Plans are afoot to enlarge the greenhouse. The existing greenhouse was something of an experiment. We weren’t sure if the building would prove to be useful. Most greenhouses and poly tunnels I’ve observed are based on designs that originate in the cooler northern hemisphere. They get way too hot for plants on stonking hot down-under-summer-days. Even these sorts of year-with-no-summer produces conditions inside a greenhouse that is too hot for the plants. The buildings require more ventilation than you’d see elsewhere. With that thought in mind, we constructed a greenhouse with more ventilation. And the experiment worked. I’ve never had it easier to grow huge amounts of seedlings. Why not make the building bigger, and incorporate other ideas into it? And that’s what we plan to do.

A few days ago, we broke ground on the project and began the earthworks.

We broke ground on the greenhouse expansion project

Before anything can be constructed, we have to create flat land. In this case, the soil will be retained on the lower side by a series of steel rock gabion cages. The soil was dug, a new steel cage was produced, and rocks from an existing cage were removed from their cage and relocated down to this new location.

The power wheelbarrow and mower and trailer were used to bring rocks back down the hill

Moving a cage worth of rocks was far quicker than what I’d imagined. I drove the power wheelbarrow down the hill. Sandra drove the mower with an attached trailer. The new steel cage rapidly filled up. After three runs with the two machines, the new cage was full of rocks and waiting to be sewn up.

New steel rock gabion cage – done!

Alert readers will realise that there is an empty steel rock gabion cage just waiting to be sited next to the one in the above photo. Relocating cages and rocks will continue for a few more weeks before the next stage of the project begins.

As part of my more relaxed mindset, I decided to undertake a frivolous project that had been bubbling away at the back of my mind. I used an old car radio I had spare, plus some scrap plywood and decided to make an old school ‘boom box’ radio for the new shed! It looks pretty cool in a strange timber retro kind of way.

Back with another of those block rocking beats!

It was a fun project, except one of the stereo channels appears to be faulty. Back to the drawing board. Oh well. Concerned readers will be relieved to note that I have ordered a replacement car radio, and can’t wait to doof the neighbourhood with some block rocking beats.

Due to the cool growing season, things have been really slow on the food production front. We’ve got heaps of greens, and everyday we harvest blackberries for breakfast. There are more beans than I know what to do with, and it looks like the corn will soon be ready to harvest. But other fruit crops such as the grapes seem a bit slow to ripen, as does the plentiful and very tasty Chilean guavas which are still too firm to eat.

Lot’s of Chilean guavas, all as yet unripe

Even the zucchini plants aren’t producing the sort of monster fruits that normally make you wonder if a Triffid has taken up residence in the garden.

Zucchini’s (courgettes) are slow but getting there

Fortunately there are a couple of warmer days coming up this week. Fingers crossed the huge number of tomatoes ripen. There’s no guarantees when it comes to nature.

Onto the flowers:

How lovely are Geraniums?
Penstemon flowers delight in the conditions
The past few weeks have been drier and the Roses have responded well
The Roses come in a number of shades
How spectacular are these beauties?

The temperature outside now at about 9.00pm is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 103.0mm (4.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 102.4mm (4.0 inches)

66 thoughts on “Better off super-chill”

  1. Chris,
    If you don’t have a stupid amount of zucchini’s after having planted them, the end of the world really is near!

    My old man and three other guys went in on a communal garden at work (back in the late 70s, when people and governments dimly thought “maybe we should consider oil doesn’t grow on trees). One guy said “I like zucchini” so they planted them (maybe too many?). My dad brought multiple shopping bags home every day!

    I avoided them like the plague, but now I will eat them (my wife likes them).

    By the way, that’s a beautiful farm! Dealing with a slope like that makes my brain hurt.

  2. Yo, Chris – “Old fella?” As my 94 year old neighbor states, “Just you wait!” 🙂

    You may not have reached your starry goals, but I’d say you’re well into the stratosphere. How’s the view from up there?

    Look at the positive side. Might have been THE most poisonous snake in the world … with an attitude.

    A day off is always welcomed. A “day of rest” used to be mandated. It’s in the bible 🙂 . One of those things modern life has chipped away at. Now the Romans, had it down. And their holidays often lasted several days. By the time of Marcus Aurelius, they had 135 a year. He tried to trim them back, a bit. Everyone decided he was just a party pooper, and generally ignored him. One wonders how they ever found the time to get around to building an empire?

    Rocks went up the hill, rocks went down the hill. Something, something, old Revolutionary War marching song. Mr. Burns is going to do some series on our revolution. After a series on Benjamin Franklin, the Holocaust, buffalo (bison) and a few other things I can’t remember. Wonder if he takes days off?

    Finally. Ollie looks suitably impressed and even rather excited, by the gabion cage.

    The radio looks really nice. “Steam punk,” I thought.

    I’d say you can count on a bit of guava jelly. But I may be counting your guavas, before they ripen.

    Geraniums. The workhorse of the garden. I see penstemon are related to foxglove. And, have some medicinal uses.

    The roses, as always, are lovely.

    I may (or may not) have mentioned that the lady from the veg store, who sold me good eggs, has quit and moved onto a higher paying job. Now she was the one who was trying to get me some stilton cheese. For months. Low and behold, when I stopped by, today, there it was. Now to decide what to smear it on.

    No worries (much) on the egg front. I ran into my friend Julia, and she’ll bring me eggs. The only thing is, it will be a bit hit and miss. But that’s ok. I’ll take what I can get, and I’ll be happy! 🙂 Lew

  3. Hello Chris
    That is a glorious sunset.
    Don’t let the insanity everywhere, get you down.
    Storm Franklin has been raging since yesterday evening. There has been far less in the news about it and yet the gusts around me are worse than storm Eunice. Result is that I’m not going out for my usual weekly shopping expedition. The gap between the noise of a gust and the time when the trees move, is quite amazing.


  4. Greetings Cugel (the Clever?) 🙂

    Yeah, it’s been that kind of an end-of-the-world growing season, that’s for sure. The summer days haven’t been all that warm, and the nights have been even colder. It was 7’C / 45’F this morning. Mustn’t grumble! But the lack of monster Triffids in the garden is a bit of a worry. Everyone needs a Triffid in their life.

    Hehe! I hear you about that experience. It’s been said before elsewhere that too much of a good thing, is in fact a bad thing. My mate Mike whom I mentioned in the blog had a thing about mushrooms. He grew up on a farm to the south west of here, and his dad grew lots of mushrooms – and my mate hated them with a passion. Probably seen too many of the things in one short life.

    Sandra and I will happily consume any and all zucchini’s and we also add them into the dog food mix during the winter months. Dunno how that will play out this year. My mates of the big shed fame taught us a very excellent recipe for stuffed zucchini flowers, and it’s good. The same stuffing can be used in dare-I-mention-it field mushrooms. Yum!

    Thank you for saying so. I read a book by the most excellent farmer, author and all round good guy, Gene Logsdon where he mentioned casually that farms used to look better back in the day. It seemed like a worthy goal, and hardly takes much more effort than slapping some rubbish building together.

    Flat land. I dream of flat land. It is not for I…



  5. Hi Inge,

    Truth to tell, I’m rather pleased that I get to enjoy the glorious sunsets as distinct from the err, less enjoyable sunrises. Those dratted things would impact upon my sleep. The mountain saddle rises up past the farm and blocks the early morning sunlight. This is possibly not good for solar power production during the winter months, but far out I enjoy the lack of early morning direct sunlight. Sometimes, as you’d understand, you just end up where you need to be. 😉

    Sandra candidly is having more difficulties with the insanities than I am. It was seventeen years ago that I learned that we’d reached peak oil, and what all that meant for the future. I’ve long since been in the acceptance stage, and maybe my early experiments with solar power was part of the bargaining phase, but hey at least I gave it the good Aussie-go. I reckon her friends are suffering because they worry about their kids futures, but they can’t really understand why they worry, they just do worry. The cognitive dissonance is building in the population. I wouldn’t have arranged things thus, but then who really wants to talk about limits? Aren’t limits something for other people? Hehe! Anyway, I’m up for the discussion, but it does not make for relaxed times with friends. I’m grateful that I have friends who are more than happy to talk about this stuff. I tend to wonder whether people intuitively understand all of this stuff, and I have an inkling of a suspicion that they do understand way deep down. But I don’t really know.

    What, another storm already? What did you do with the last one? 🙂 Sorry for the brevity. Wind gusts are really strange things to observe in forests. That happens here too and you can see the wind moving through the tree canopies, sometimes fast, sometimes slow, but always interesting and the paths through the trees shift. There are times where wind gusts slam into the side of the house, and that’s no fun at all. The strongest gust I’ve recorded at ground level is about 30 miles per hour – but mind you, that was recorded at ground level. The tall trees swayed alarmingly that day. As I tell the Editor, ’tis better to bend with the ill winds.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Your film choices were an inspiration to me with this weeks title. I don’t know if you’d be aware but I think that the creators of that particular film where riffing (gawd this spell checker is useless and do’ know nuffin anywhoo) off the title of the 1985 John Cusack film: ‘Better Off Dead’. Not to go into too much detail, but there was an amusing side story in that film of a paper-boy (and I was one such person at the time, so the memory locked in) demanding his two dollars and collecting upon the debt. Sorry, I digress…

    John Cusack’s sister I reckon has enjoyed a far longer career, and is a great character actor. I dunno why, but there are times I recall the film: ‘End of the Tour’. It was about the author David Foster Wallace, let’s not go there, please, being interviewed by some dude from Rolling Stone magazine. The word poignant comes to mind, and I’ve never really been able to shake the memories of that film for some inexplicable reason. The famous book the guy wrote, I’d probably burn it… Oops, can’t say that.

    Dude, everyone knows that Seattle is full of garages where interesting stuff happens. You may have heard of the local act ‘Nirvana’, well those guys were part of a genre described as ‘garage bands’. So in order to have that genre of music, one must have garages. It stands to reason and my logic is sound. I have also noted that another enjoyable blog that I read ‘Granola Shotgun’ had previously resided in a garage. Mate, I’ve lived in share houses where the best you could hope for was not being annoyed too much in your bedroom – and even then limits were a touch fluid and annoyances could occur any hour of the day or night. Yup, the garage bands were also probably annoyed by such activities, that’s why they sounded so (please excuse this break from the usual protocols): seriously pissed off. I’m genuinely surprised that people don’t feel that way nowadays. Beats me why.

    Go on, did you watch the film? The premise sounded a bit dodgy to me.

    Oh yeah, you’re right. The vapours are missing from polite society. Dare I mention that not many ladies are being treated for hysteria either – an intriguing business! 😉

    You called it correctly, the snake I had no mutual business, and so we parted on not quite amicable terms, but more one of an acknowledgement of mutual destruction. Perhaps I’ve developed as a human being for coming to that arrangement, but I really don’t know. The reptiles scare the daylights out of me, as I’m sure I do to them.

    Thanks for that. At certain times of the year, locally grown turmeric tubers are available for purchase. I doubt they’d enjoy your winter months and the rot got them here the last I tried them, but I am tempted to trial them in the new greenhouse (when it is constructed).

    Ah! First tenor, an illustrious position to hold in the quartet. As someone else who has a voice pitched in the higher ranges, I hear you bro! 🙂 Deep resonance is not for the likes of us. But then, the tenors often get the lead parts. Oh yeah. Did you enjoy the barbershop quartet?

    I’d heard that metal grates were getting pinched at an alarming rate during the 2008 economic crisis. The Editor and I were discussing such events this evening. Mate, I learned about peak oil way, way back in the early 2000’s and have had a lot of time to come to terms with what that meant. Other people, they might never hear of such things, but the ripples, they will feel, yes they will. What amazes me is that serious people still keep on discussing energy independence. I guess that’s the bargaining phase huh? Far out…

    Out of curiosity, do you have any ideas as to why there would be so many changes to the library catalogue system? It seems like a super basic relational database problem to me, but maybe I’m over simplifying the situation?

    You’ve said that before: ‘about just you wait’. I don’t believe that I will make it to that age. I’ve been exposed to all sorts of industrial horrors over the years, so I just dunno. Let’s just say that my confidence is not good.

    As to the starry goals, well I was going to title this weeks blog ‘Star Sailor’, which I reckon was a pretty good title. Unfortunately, the title was also the name of a reasonably successful UK band, and titles are free of copyright, band names – not so much. One must be flexible with such things and not raise the ire of people who may be better funded than myself! Anyway, the view is looking good from the top of the world. You do know that down here we think that it is you guys who are at the bottom of the world? 🙂

    A day off was such an enjoyment that I’m planning another one this week. I’ve gotta wind things back a bit. I put everything I had to give into that shed, and now feel pretty happy with the result. But I’m also in need of a bit of rest. Years ago I worked crazy long hours at my first serious senior role. The Editor thought I’d lost my marbles, and she may have been right. I reckon they saw me coming and took full advantage of my early desire to prove myself and test my mettle. The job was good for the CV, and knowing what to avoid in the future, and that was about it. That was a crazy job, and I’m sure you’ve had your experiences with such work places? Everyone does come unstuck sooner or later.

    Do you know that in my lifetime, the number of public holidays has actually reduced? When I was younger we used to get Easter Tuesday, and let’s not forget Melbourne Show Day. I was pretty miffed when they were taken away. Serious economists mumbled something about labour productivity, but because they were mumbling, I didn’t quite catch what they said. But I sure noticed the loss of the public holidays.

    Hehe! You got me thinking about ol’ Sisyphus when you first pointed out years ago that I was moving rocks up and down the hill. He probably did something bad too, and annoyed his betters!

    Ollie is a gentleman and as such he can respect hard work when he sees it.

    Hmm. Never thought of trying a guava jelly. It would be awesome tasting because the fruits when ripe really do taste like lemonade.

    Thanks for the tip regarding the penstemon. Very interesting indeed. I had not known that about the medicinal uses. I might check out my herbal references.

    The radio is pretty fun project. It ain’t all serious here. 🙂

    Ook! Sorry to hear about the eggs, and Julia has not been consistent, but if that’s no bother for you, then you’re doing OK. Mate, chickens and eggs… The agricultural show is coming up, and I may purchase a few more chickens this year. One day, I may have to begin breeding chickens, but the processing doesn’t trouble me as much as the crowing at all hours of the night… Tis a poor choice indeed to want to wake me at the crack of dawn.



  7. Hello Chris,

    Ventilation and greenhouses is the thing. Not easy to get right. Especially not this week when we had six storm days in a row. (Unprecedented. First time in recorded history…)
    I have a 120 sqm polytunnel (6x20m) by Rovero, state of the art stuff. And on each end, above the sliding door, I have mounted flaps that open with heat (using a paraffin piston arrangement – Bayliss XL) and closes when it gets cooler than 20C inside.
    However, on Wednesday, when the first storm struck, one of my flaps was blown out. Of course I remounted it, steadier. On Friday, when the second storm hit, both of them were blown out and I had a handful of holes in my poly-plastic-cover. And a tilt of 1 meter along the whole length of the tunnel. What a storm.

    And what a good learning moment. I realized that I had mounted one component incorrectly, which made the whole construction weaker. That is how it goes when I get arrogant and don’t read the mounting instruction in every detail. I missed two screws on each side…
    I got help from my farmer friend who pulled the tunnel straight with his tractor. Diesel friends are worth a ton.

    Today another storm day and some more damage, but nothing major. Just amazing amounts of water and one door slide is tilting into the mud. Fixable when the sun comes back.

    It is humbling to see the powers of the storms, and I am already thinking about how to make better living wind breaks in different directions.

    An aside – last week I happened to hear an interview with another Chris on a small farm, who just like you writes an excellent blog. Maybe you know this one?
    A friend of mine is reading his book right now, and soon I hope to get that copy to borrow. It sounds quite interesting and relevant to the bumpy road ahead.

    Good that you took a day off before the day took you off. Too many people run into burnout and depression and all kinds of nasty walls. I hope you get some more time off to recover.


  8. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder, to Inge. “Intuitively know…” Yes, I agree. But instead of realizing that it’s hard edged things, like limits to growth, they’d rather blame social issues. More squishy things. They really can’t get all worked up, and blame oil. It’s easier to blame people and groups. Targets are more at hand.

    Well, I watched “The Man Who Killed Hitler and Then the Bigfoot.” Actually, it was a pretty good movie. As long as you can a.) accept that someone bumped off Hitler (not that it made much difference) and b.) there is a Bigfoot, out there. I don’t think it would have “worked” with anyone other than Sam Elliott,

    I also watched the first episode of the new mini-series, “Around the World in 80 Days.” Stars David Tennant. It’s off to a promising start.

    Nir-who? 🙂 The first place I was in, was a share house. It was OK, but the other four guys were older and the lack of privacy bothered me. So, when the garage opened up, downstairs, I beat it. Housing was very tight, in Seattle, in 1968.

    “Hysteria” was a movie, in 2011. A rom-com 🙂 . Quit good, as I remember.

    Snakes also give me quit a turn, on first sight. As I’ve mentioned before, we have no poisonous snakes, here. But it takes me a minute, to remember. I wonder if climate change will bring some into our range? And, of course people keep all kinds of “exotic” (and dangerous) reptiles. Heck, my friend Amanda (who lives across the street) keeps an albino boa constrictor.

    As I remember (50+ years ago), barbershop quartet was quit fun. Of course, my voice is gone, now. The booze, the pills, the cigarettes … 🙂 Sometimes I wonder if I could get it back, again.

    Back in 2008, someone pried the bronze letters off the Centralia library. When times get tough, people start stealing metal. Anything that isn’t nailed down. Though they may steal the nails, too. Catalytic converters theft, is getting epidemic. They’re making it a felony, in this state. I lost one, when I was living in downtown Centralia. Maybe it was 2008. And I parked a block and a half from the police station.

    Starry goals. When I was a wee small lad, and hung around that high end antique store, she had a seal. For wax, I’d guess. Very fancy enameled porcelain handle, with a family crest as the seal. There was also a motto. “Ad Astra per Aspera.” “To the Stars through Difficulties.” Also the motto of the State of Kansas and the Royal Air Force. If Fernglade Farm needs a motto, you might consider it. You can even get it on t-shirts.

    The library catalog? Planned obsolescence and making money.

    Jobs with crazy hours and unrealistic expectations? Only for the young and … uninformed. The term “gun fodder” comes to mind. The crazy hours I put in managing bookstores …

    Holidays? They give and they take away. Today is President’s Day. Used to be, we had two holidays in February. Washington’s birthday and Lincoln’s birthday. Then they came up with Martin Luther King Day. Also in February. Can’t have three holidays, in February! Western Civilization, might collapse. So, they combined the birthdays into one day. Which is, today. Not that you’d notice, other than the postie won’t come. The garbage was still picked up.

    My friend Julia mentioned that she’d just taken 5 roosters, to the local poultry auction. Still to go is another rooster and a banty hen. Why the hen, you may ask? She either won’t raise her chicks, or kills them. Julia’s son said she had to go, as he was tired of raising chicks on the dinning room table.

    It was supposed to snow, this morning. Didn’t happen. Snow is now off the local forecast. For the moment. We’re going to get some really low overnight temps. In the teens.

    Finally talked Elinor into taking H to the groomer. I’ll do it. If it happens. You have to drop your dog off in the morning, and pick them up in the afternoon. Elinor is already working herself into a state. H is going to run out the front or back door, get hit by a car or be lost. It’s a wonder Elinor made it to 94. Given the constant state of terror, she lives in. Lew

  9. Chris,

    During the endless work that March, I did okay. I lived in the same town where the job was; I lived a 5 minute walk from our shop, while also being a 10 minute walk from groceries and laundromat. As a result, I was able to keep up with cooking and laundry and grocery shopping. Was I tired? Yup. The guy that cracked the sads? He lived by himself in the boonies, so he was behind on everything. When he ran out of coffee at his home, it was over. That’s something we can ALL understand.

    Also, he had a much more physically demanding job than I did. He did actual asbestos removal while wearing all the protective clothing and respirators. Normally, I was tech support and secured the bags of asbestos waste and double bagged it, requiring the funky suits and respirators. However, due to the multiple work sites we had operating, I performed the most tech support and also coordinated that adequate equipment and supplies were always on hand at the multiple worksites. You know, the background chores that kept everything moving smoothly. So, I was neither physically nor mentally exhausted by the large amount of work. Tired from no days off and the long days? Well, yeah, so I was glad for the eventual day off.

    I dislike the constant prodding about things, also. But you and I are different. We observe and think and plan and adapt. That said, there IS a huge difference between pointing something out and urging people to be prepared, versus beating the proverbial horse to death. As the latter is what we’ve got right now, it’s not surprising that many people (most?) ignore the self-anointed experts.

    YES, dogs know things and sense things! I’ve always listened to my dogs’ intuitions. Well, not always, but bad things always happened when I ignored them. A recent story from my friend, owner of Killian the Doberman…Friend mentioned that she has noticed a car with a “weirdo” at the local park where there are often kids playing. She asked if I thought she should confront the guy. I said that’s a good idea if she wanted to get shot. She laughed and related that the previous morning, as she and Killian neared that car in the normal course of their walk (it was parked next to the sidewalk), Killian started barking ferociously at the car and acting very protectively of his owner. The dog KNEW something was wrong with that car.

    Critters…Get torn apart and partially eaten when still alive or die a nasty death due to the snake/spider/whatever venom while maybe getting partially eaten while alive. Not much of a choice there! Eventually end up as fertilizer either way, I suppose.

    We had a 20% chance of snow turning to rain Monday morning, and no snow accumulation if it did snow. Bwahahaha! We had over 5cm, the wind was blowing with fierce gusts, the snow was drifting. The temperature was decreasing throughout the day as the cold front is arriving. We won’t see above freezing until Friday, with consecutive nights of near -15C expected with -30C wind chills expected. We’re planning on mostly staying indoors. The wind makes things rather brutal.

    That’s a nice looking boom box you made. Hope you figure out the stereo issue. Gotta have your tunes! And no, that’s not a frivolous project. You used some of your creative side to design and make something. Different type of designing than what you normally do for the sheds and making flat earth and such.

    That’s a wonderful sunset photo. Thanks for sharing it. A good sunset is hard to beat.

    Good on you, mate! A day off. A more relaxed approach moving forward. Using motorized equipment for the heavy lifting and moving. Slowing things down has a lot to be said for it. Sanity, for one thing.

    The roses are spectacular, as usual. The flower photos are a welcome sight.


  10. Hi Cugel,

    Thought so. You display impeccable taste in literature, and as you probably already now know, I’m a long time fan – as are some other semi-regular commenters here. Go on, what’s your favourite title?



  11. Hi Goran,

    Exactly, and you know what? It’s very possible that I’ll have to alter the ventilation for the new greenhouse depending upon the climate. At best the ventilation represents an average response to the conditions. Right now on super hot days, and the hottest it got to this summer was 39’C, but that’s chicken feed to the 45’C I’ve experienced in much hotter years, but I left the door open, gave the plants water, and the shading in the polycarbonate (it’s a weird light brown colour) seemed to work just fine. Water is the key in this instance, but I don’t really know and am just experimenting. So yeah, it’s not easy to get right at all.

    Ah, by comparison the new greenhouse won’t be that large, but it will come in at around 4m x 6m, which is about a fifth the size of your monster poly tunnel. Ah, your poly-tunnel is a most excellent construction although the structural members look a little bit on the thin side to me, although I have noted down here that folks tend to use very heavy duty stiff plastic conduit to perform the same job that your galvanised steel truss arrangements appear to be doing admirably well and far better. The plastic arrangement tends to bend during super hot days which is what you’d expect. You might get a laugh but the posts I use are 100mm x 100mm cypress pine which is resistant to rot the same way that say Black Locust is. What can I say, one Christmas Day I was directly hit by a minor tornado and made the decision to tie everything down to the earth and over engineer the supports.

    I hear you about the automatic process with the openings in your system. It’s a great idea. At such a scale as you are managing, you need a little bit of extra assistance – just in case. It’s a good idea, and hey, the really old school greenhouses down here attached to the very old hill stations used to have manual versions of those ventilation arrangements (local labour served the interests of the wealthy land owners in those days) and tell ya what, I’ve also noticed some furnace arrangements constructed within those old buildings. It gives food for thought at the sheer expense required to fuel those monsters during the winter months. It’s amazing how things used to be done back in the day.

    I can’t believe at the battering your part of the world has had to cope with. One storm directly followed by another storm. Such conditions test your systems, and at least you were able to get some assistance (and yes, diesel is good, in fact it is very good, and going way up in price at $1.90/litre the other day! Ouch!) to restore order in the aftermath.

    Mate, you can be onto the detail, but every now and then, nature stomps in, puts you to the test, and suggests that you need to do better. How do you even patch up the holes in the plastic? I once had a hole in a polyethylene water tank, and that was when I discovered how difficult it was to repair such types of plastic. Eventually I had to get in a bloke who specialised in plastic welding for a job, and he sorted it out with a very strange looking and rather expensive plastic welding machine.

    Good to hear the most recent storm wasn’t too bad. Yikes! The winds…

    My mates of the big shed fame like you, are also exposed to the winds and they can be brutal. And they’ve also come to the same conclusion that a shelter belt is not a bad idea. Sometimes around here you’ll see the really old-timey farms and the fences have hawthorn and cypress fences. It makes sense, the thorns in the hawthorn stop cattle escaping and the cypress break up the winds.

    Thank you for the introduction! 🙂

    Thanks for the kind words, and I know my limits. My mate Mike who I mentioned this week used to quip: Only those who’ve fallen off know truly where their limits are. And he was right too.



  12. Hi DJ,

    As a young bloke I did a similar thing (not the sads cracking, but the living close to everything biz) and rented a flat in North Melbourne. I worked in Melbourne and so just walked into the big smoke for work, and didn’t own a car. It was alright, and if I needed to get somewhere, well there was always the push-bike and it never occurred to me that 20Km was too far. The Queen Victoria Market was a short walk away and I’d pick up the fresh greens and fruit there on a Saturday morning. The problem you get is that the further out you move from the centre of the big smoke, the less facilities there are. In the very inner burbs there are parks for public use and they have huge large old shady trees. On the outskirts of the city, parks are something that those local councils want to hit with the slasher and a tractor and they become dead zones in high summer (I’m sure you’ve seen a few of those). It’s not the same, and the inner burbs people sometimes might do well to see how the rest of the folks live? I noted that another large coal fired generator has been slated to shut early. This one is the biggest in the land at 3,000MW. It won’t end well.

    However, yes, I do understand that lack of coffee! What an awful thing for the sads cracking bloke to endure. Civilisation can be circling down the toilet bowl, but no coffee is an affront to zombies everywhere!

    Thanks for the explanation as to how you navigated those crazy long work days. Your story reminded me, and this was something that Lewis also mentioned, but such long work days are for the young and unsuspecting. Like you at that same stage of life, I too would have done the work, but a day off here and there would have been gratefully received. I tend to avoid such work cultures nowadays. Is that wisdom? Maybe…

    Yes, it is a wise path to observe and weigh up the evidence that your mind accrues, before then planning and acting. There’s so many people claiming expertise nowadays that it is alarming, but down here the politicians are weighing in and making decisions which I tend to view as a warning klaxxon. I could be wrong, but then again I was speaking to a lovely lady I know about what a mate of mine has chosen to do. She asked me why would he act so, and the best response I could then imagine was: He might be right, you don’t know. I tend to believe that we are in a time of uncertainty and people are acting as if they know something, when I tend to listen to the folks who say: I dunno, it’s weird. It’s often expected to make a decision when there is little data or information to hand, and that is when caution and prudence are called for. Very unfashionable traits they are (in my best dodgy Yoda voice!)

    Unfortunately every time I read the name Killian, my mind reads the name: Killer! One of the dogs in the Muster Dogs Kelpie series was named Lucifer, ask the trainer why that may be so? 🙂

    Oh, I forget, sharks take swimmers and surfers quite regularly along the coasts. And I also neglected to mention the salt water crocodiles. Very efficient critters and 300m years of lineage unchanged suggests that nature got those two just right (like the three little bears fairy story – they were preparing dinner guest!!!!) But yeah, life is kind of like that, and we return back to the soil one way or another.

    Far out dude, that is some super chilly weather. Stay warm. And hope that you have nowhere urgent to travel on those evenings. Won’t mention that it is meant to be 32’C tomorrow. Finally, fingers crossed that the warmer day gets the tomatoes ripening. Ate two yellow tomatoes which were almost ripe, earlier this evening. They tasted pretty good.

    I figured out the stereo issue. The unit is rubbish, but the speakers are good. I ordered a replacement unit and am looking forward to getting the boom box rockin’. Actually, I do rather enjoy making things, and reading a book about rubbish (Rummage), the author mentioned that people who were able to make things generally had a better eye for salvage of items that would otherwise go to waste. What I’ve taken away from the book is that our western culture has been so awash with easy cheap energy and stuff that we’ve been wasteful. But it gets interesting when you realise that that waste stops the moment the economics of the situation dictate that it should be so.

    Like slow food, we’re doing slow-farm! 🙂 It was really nice to have that day off any and all work.

    There are more flower images to come! Glad to hear that they bring some summer into your wintry corner of the planet.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    You’re right about that, people look for a soft target, and anything that will take the lens away from their previous choices is probably welcome to fill that role. A bit of a shame really. The Editor is coming to grips with a lot of this stuff right now, the big issues, and it’s giving her a headache. I tend to think that a lot of peoples dreams of the future are under pressure right now.

    Speaking of health related issues, I travelled into the big smoke today on work, and stopped off to pick up the coffee grounds. The lovely young lady there asked me: So, have you had it yet? We had a laugh and I replied: Have you? Mate, you’ve gotta laugh. I’m hearing of people getting it now, and by and large they seem OK, but then most of them aren’t in a high risk group – maybe that is just the people I know though. I know of some folks who are sick of wearing a mask all day for work, and the threatened booster was an issue and they’re taking a hiatus from work.

    I like your description of social matters being squishy things. Yeah, I can see that. But still that oil price keeps on rising! Mr. Mojo Risin’! 🙂

    Good to hear about the film. The reported box office takings appeared to me to be a horror story. I could see Sam Elliot pulling off that role. And that other bloke you mentioned, well, he had it coming that’s for sure.

    Around the world in 80 days looks great, and also humorous. Yes, why can’t we catch a train like normal people? Back in the day, there must have been people wealthy enough to go on such adventures. I recall one such bloke who was described in the book you recommended to me a few years ago: The plant explorer. It was a great read, but the tide of opinion was turned against the plant explorers efforts. I was looking at the corn today and noticed that the tassel at the very top of the plant bizzarely has kernels on it. I have never seen that happen before. I’m going to have to get a photo tomorrow. It was weird. Some of the cobs look like they may be ready to harvest. Yum!

    Very funny, you know… 🙂 Gotta support the locals dude! Hehe! That band were touring down under when they came to international success. Tickets to their shows were pretty cheap, and to the bands credit they continued with their tour. Respect. Some would not act so honourably.

    Oh yeah, I would have taken up in the garage too under those conditions. I hear ya. Mate, I have mixed feelings about such living conditions. They were fun, but then the fun was laced with ongoing drama, and yeah, like you I sought my own space to escape from the worst aspects of it. The worst thing was when people ate my food. I’d get home late at night after a full day of work followed by several hours at University, only to discover that the food had been eaten. I didn’t need to be a wise elder to know that you can’t eat money. I’ve lived that experience. And no the experience didn’t chill me out as I was asked to do so! 🙂 Far out.

    Thanks for the laughs. What a fun film! Who knew? And how did I miss that one? Ah, the hazards of the trade.

    Actually it is possible that some more dangerous reptiles will move into your area. It’s also hard to know what is in peoples private collections. I noticed that in the Rummage book there was a reference to how the poisonous and toothy critters at the zoo had to be euthanased during the blitz. Can you imagine the lions getting out and running amok?

    Pets are rightly nervous of pythons. Hmm.

    Lewis, I dunno, you did sound like you were having fun there for a while. Was the loss of the tenor vocals a good trade? And you might not be the person you are today if you had not had all those experiences?

    Mate, I’m still trying to get my head around how a person could steal a catalytic converter quietly. It just doesn’t seem possible to me. Parking near to the station might have a similar unrealistic quieting effect similar to parking your car in a gated community. Hehe!

    When I was a kid I read Alfred Bester’s book: ‘The Stars my Destination’. It was a great sci-fi, but at the end he was off on his own in the distant stars. It didn’t seem like that great an option to me. The jaunting would have been super-handy, but leaving the planet, that’s not ever been my bag. Hearing people say they want to go to Mars kind of weirds me out. They might not enjoy the experience.

    Hehe! Yeah, you called it. I’ve also heard the term ‘cannon fodder’. Nobody wants to be in that category.

    Western Civilisation might not collapse, but the economists will surely attempt to sulk their socks off in the corner. Imagine the labour productivity issues with three public holidays in one month. People might enjoy themselves. Actually that is true down here too. Christmas day and Good Friday, most places are shut, but the other public holiday, it kind of depends. When I was a kid, the shops used to shut at 12:30pm on a Saturday afternoon, and that was that. People had better social lives back in those days, I know, I was there and I saw what the adults were doing.

    That can happen with chickens, and it depends upon the breed I reckon. I don’t have enough experience with breeding chickens, but I have heard from people who do so that that happens. Despatching the excess roosters would be tiresome. But then if it had to be done, and that does have to happen when breeding chickens.

    Brr! Crazy cold weather. Stay warm. Mind you, it might be a good test for the new tires? It’ll be 90’F tomorrow and I’m hoping that the brief burst of heat gets some of the tomatoes ripened. Had a mostly yellow tomato this evening and the taste was good. I’ve turned off the irrigation so that the soil stays warmer.

    Don’t tell Elinor that one day at the dog groomers they returned me the wrong dog, and bizarrely, the other people took old fluffy home instead. That was weird. Anyway, when it finally got sorted out and we got the correct dog back, I watched out of the corner of my eye whilst old fluffy ransacked a stand of dog treats in the shop. The people at the shop were distracted due to the events. I noticed that due to the lock downs that business has not shut it’s doors permanently. Usually they were great, but not that day. And don’t tell Elinor the story. 😉



  14. @Inge
    Been following your descriptions of the storms and also checked out some pics of the damage. So glad you are OK and your son checks in on you. We’ve had some pretty windy days, sustained 30 mph with gusts up to 50 mph. One night last week Doug heard a crash in the middle of the night but it took a couple of days to figure out a piece of metal flashing had been striped off near the roof peak. Hope this all ends soon and you can break out of the house. Also, thanks for your book recommendations past and present. I’ve read many books suggested by commenters here.


  15. Yo, Chris – Actually, in 1889, a New York reporter named Nellie Bly made it around the world in 72 days. She was inspired by Verne’s book.

    Sounds like you have mutant corn, there. 🙂 . It’s the next evolutionary step. External kernels. No more messing with the husking. Your fortune is made! Of course, there’s always collateral damage. No more corn dollies!

    It was probably best I moved out of the share house. One day, I was in the dinning room, ironing shirts (as one did in those days). A girlfriend of one of my housemates, as watching me. Suddenly she exclaimed, “You know how to iron a shirt!” And gave her boyfriend a very speculative look. 🙂 .

    Oh, it’s probably best I lost my tenor voice. I might have gotten a wild idea to try and make money out of it. Probably wouldn’t have happened.

    Last night I watched “The Eternals.” Soon to be another comic book inspired franchise. Ten aliens come to earth, and are the basis for all our myths. They also goose our cultural evolution. It was pretty good. Popcorn worthy. Lots of twists and turns. I also watched a bit of the new “Rocky Horror Picture Show. At first glance, like the new “The Stand,” the original was better. Due mostly to casting.

    We (at least in my lifetime) had pretty normal Saturday shop hours. maybe an hour shorter. But Sunday was always “a day of rest.” And now it’s 24 hour everything. In 50 short years. Well, looking back it seemed short 🙂

    Well, it got down to 30F (-1C), last night. And when I got up this morning, it was snowing. Just light, like laundry powder. Yup. Still trying. I’m leaving for biscuits and gravy, in 15 minutes.

    Well, I’ve heard of babies being swapped at the hospital, but dogs at the groomer? That’s a new one. And, no, I will NOT tell Elinor. Lew

  16. Hi Chris,
    Well I’m glad you finally taken a day off. Sounds like your mental health required it.

    Have you given extra zucchini to the chickens. Ours always love it. Funny the pigs aren’t too crazy about it.

    Your kids are always your kids no matter how old they get. I think mothers worry more but I know plenty of dads who do as well. Cecily is pretty aware of what’s most likely ahead but Carla, not so much. It’ll be a lot harder for her sadly. Personally I don’t dwell on their issues too much because as I tell them only they can fix it. Interestingly, Cecily’s marriage which was very shaky has improved since the unmentionable – even with her husband working from home and taking over their bedroom as his office. She always tended towards depression and shortly after the lockdowns she hit rock bottom more than she ever told me at the time. She found an excellent therapist and has changed how she reacts to her obsessive compulsive controlling husband and things have really changed for the better. In fact she told me she thought they would make it after all. A year ago I had given her a book about stoic practices as they have helped me. She has in the last few months really taken that up which had made a real difference.

    On Sunday Doug and I went on a birding walk with the local Audubon group to a spot known for bald eagles. I recently learned that Illinois is only 2nd to Alaska in the number of bald eagles. Anyway we saw around 10 adult and juvenile eagles along with two species of swans, sandhill cranes and a half dozen different kinds of ducks. We had to get there at 8 AM which you wouldn’t have liked haha. Some of the members of the group where pretty intense though. They were very knowledgeable though. Apparently there is competitive birding. Now that I know the location of this place Doug and I will go on our own. We had to register for the walk and received an email listing all the species and the numbers seen. I’m not sure how one counts 150 Canada geese. I’m assuming there is some way to estimate it.

    Today we are experiencing some thankfully light freezing rain. Makes for treacherous walking.


  17. Hello Chris,

    Indeed – ” What I’ve taken away from the book is that our western culture has been so awash with easy cheap energy and stuff that we’ve been wasteful. ”

    In his excellent book on small scale farming by Richard Perkins, he says something like that: “The value of our waste is a measure of our affluence.”
    He got metric tons of lumber that had got “color” damage due to water splashing, for free from a saw mill. Apparently unsaleable.

    On the other hand, it can take years for systems to readjust. I was in Russia in 1997, hitchhiking with an empty coal train on the Kola peninsula, heading for Murmansk. We stopped at a double-track at a station to give way to another coal train coming in the other direction. Also 40 wagons long. Also empty. I asked the train driver why they were driving empty coal delivery trains back and forth: “-We need to follow the time table, otherwise we get fired.”

    Thinking about my friends in Russia made me depressed all day long, today. I am so sad about the unnecessary killing going on there.
    I suspect it is all due to the lack of positions as “ex-dictator” in the Russian constitutional system. They did it much smarter in China, where it was possible to be President for 10 years and step down to a safe and cushy back-stage position. Unfortunately, also there, it seems like Xi is removing his own exit door…
    In most places in the world, the most dangerous job around is to be ex-dictator. Most are killed or imprisoned.

    Regarding the plastic mending, it is nothing fancy. Just very, very good polyethylene scotch-tape on both sides of the hole in the plastic, and it keeps for at least five years. Water tanks is a different story, that is difficult!

    Peace to all of us,


  18. Chris,
    I like Cugel’s Saga (maybe because he finally defeats his nemesis). The whole Dying Earth Series is brilliant. The stories have stuck in my memory for about 50 years; they are that good.

    The funny part of these stories is that everyone is trying to get one over on everyone else, and usually screwing themselves over badly.

    A brilliantly created world!

  19. Chris,

    It made it down to -13C Monday night. Brrrrr! I did venture outside to play with Avalanche, who prefers the out of doors especially when it’s cold and snowy. The sun was shining, the wind had died down, except for occasional gusts, and the temperature achieved a distinctly unbalmy -7C. Dressed appropriately it wasn’t bad in the sun. After awhile, however, the sun started to set, the wind picked back up, and it was clearly time to retire to warmer environs with a nice hot cup of Earl Grey.

    That book you mentioned is correct, or so it seems to me. Once it’s economically unfeasible to waste things, a lot of junk will remain unpurchased, and things that are owned will be repaired, reused, or repurposed. Wealth and haste both often lead to waste.

    We started a new thing at carving recently. Twas in a magazine. A bunch of us are working separately on the same thing, and each month there will be a new thing to carve. First is a barking dog. Then there’s an inanimate object. Somewhere along the way a fence or a shrubbery gets added in. Maybe a person. Hmmmm, a shrubbery and a person, perhaps a Knight who says “Nee!” Then another dog, perhaps. By October or November, there will be an entire scene carved by each of the participants. For those of us that have never carved a large scene, this is a good exercise. It will be interesting to see everyone’s additions each month. The dog is supposed to be completed for the March 5 meeting. Tis a fun challenge for me, as I mostly due pyrography.

    Ohhhh, good point! Crocodiles and sharks haven’t changed much for eons, literally. Those are also critters best avoided. Others, perhaps mythical, include the dread purple cow, the American jackalope, and, in Scotland, the elusive wild haggis. 😉

    “It’s often expected to make a decision when there is little data or information to hand, and that is when caution and prudence are called for.” Yes. Well said. Sometimes the best thing to do is to do nothing. Gotta have time to study, to observe, to assimilate, to plan and then prepare. Immediate action is often the incorrect thing. Can’t adapt if you’re not taking the time to “listen” and think. But that is sooooo unfashionable.


  20. Hi Cugel,

    Respect. It’s a great series of books isn’t it? I recently re-read the Dying Earth series, and enjoyed all of the stories more this time around than the second or third, or maybe it was the fourth time around. So good.

    Yeah, that aspect is hard to ignore. I noted that not every character in the story tried to pull that trick, and most who didn’t fared pretty well. It is just that there were more characters trying to gain an advantage over our anti-hero.



  21. Hi Goran,

    You betcha that’s true. For about maybe eight years, maybe longer now, I’ve nabbed all of the coffee waste from a business in the big smoke. They’re great people, and the coffee waste is amazing stuff (grounds and husks). But yeah, sometimes customers seeing me do that are curious and ask questions, others ignore me, and yet others look horrified lest I acknowledge them and drag their status down. Funny stuff. I would have taken that lumber for sure.

    Really? Wow, I would have thought that such craziness would have been stamped out hard by the brutal economics. Mind you, they might have had plenty of oil to power those trains. It’s a quarter of a century ago, and things were different back then.

    If I had to suggest something to you: Your continent is possibly in for further shocks in the future. Energy is not plentiful, and neither are resources. That spells trouble to my mind, but I could be wrong.

    Regicide has always been with us. Your history is replete with examples. Always was, always will be. I recall troubles in Nepal from a few years ago. It’s a contact sport, and it is always a risky endeavour to seize the crown.

    Ah, a top idea with the repairs, and thanks for sharing your experience. Out of curiosity, do you grow vegetables outside of the poly tunnel?



  22. Hi Chris,
    Love your boom box – I’ve wondered for a while about doing that. Presumably is 12V – is it battery powered to (portable)?

    There’s so much stress and anxiety everywhere. We all need to place much greater value in our mental health – glad to hear you’re making time for it!

    All going well in Adelaide, though not immune from the anxiety. Huge stone fruit harvest, pommes just coming in. We even have a few macadamias (for the first time). We’ve loved the cool summer

    Cheers Angus

  23. Hi Margaret,

    Truer words have not be spoke for a while! I really did need the day off, and people curiously seem hell bent on keeping me working. There are a few paid jobs I do that should have been neatly wrapped up and completed, but what is ever neat? The problem as I see it is that people around me are stressed-out for all sorts of reasons, and the stress-out is spilling over into my world. In order to cope with that level of continual stress, slowing down is about the best response. There’s no point in getting swept along those rapids… If there were a better way, I’d take that path.
    The extra zucchini stores really well (until about early spring) and each week we add some to the dog food breakfast mix. The chickens also enjoy eating the massive fruits and they leave just the tough skins. I once tried blitzing the tough skins in the food processor so that I could feed them to the chickens. The skin was tougher than the food processor. Ook! Nowadays I chuck the skins into the worm farm. What do you do with zucchini skins? I’d bet goats could eat them?

    I’ve observed that sentiment, but you have to understand – the concept is outside of my experience. My mother left the state just after we got married, and one reason for that (I reckon) was to get out of helping Sandra and I raise kids. Hmm. As I said above, I don’t really know, but the move left us in a pickle.

    Ook! Look it maybe to Carla’s advantage not to be aware of things, the future and stuff. A lot of people can go through the five stages of grief and we don’t really know how things will work out on the ground. Like, could you have picked the events of the past two years? It’s been weirder than I could ever imagine. 🙂 Yikes, not to disparage the gentleman, but your description using the word ‘controlling’ is a red-flag in my books. On the other hand, from my understanding, you seem to have plenty of contact with Cecily and things sound like they’re on the up for them.

    Sandra is finally coming to grips with the thought that maybe the future ain’t all that bright. It can be a bit of a shock to people. I learned about peak oil a little bit before the time it peaked, which apparently was about 2005 for conventional oil. One of the undocumented benefits of writing for the hippy press, I guess… Anyway, it’s been long enough to absorb the implications into my world view.

    Well done you two. Yeah, birding is a good hobby, and I’ve heard of the competitive nature of that interest. 8AM, holy carp! Is the sun even up at that time of the day? Hehe! Good luck with the counting of the Canada Geese next time you and Doug visit the place, just a word of warning: Don’t dispute the counts, when the people who are making the counts are there. Just going with my gut feeling there. 🙂



  24. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I feel cold just reading about how cold it was there. Those sorts of temperatures just aren’t right somehow. Brr! Won’t mention that it is 19’C at 9.30pm and um, the windows are open letting in the cooler evening air. Oops, broke my own rule there.

    Did Douglas Adams write in one of his many books that the world’s problems could usually be solved over a good cup of tea (and Earl Grey is an outstanding choice – Star Trek captains would agree)? Something about brownian motion… 🙂

    After it err, you might call it warm up (I would use that choice of language though) did Avalanche willingly retreat to the warmer house environs?

    That’s the central tenet of the authors thesis, and just in case anyone dare voice a complaint or even an opinion suggesting otherwise, the book is laden with one example after another. To be honest I’m getting flashbacks of Bill Gammage’s book: The Biggest Estate on Earth. Both are scholarly works and are no doubts correct in their findings, but all the same, the findings may offend plenty of people. Those who agree, or were on the fence, probably don’t need to read through the countless examples. The concept sounds reasonable.

    You were warned. Right here goes: “Ekke Ekke Ekke Ekke Ptang Zoo Boing!” I warned you!

    I’ve noticed that you have a penchant for pyrography work, but assumed you also did other carvings, but that that technique was your favourite. It will be interesting to hear how the challenge goes. Is that technically described as a screen? You might work some pyrography into the design? Why not?

    Those are funny. Thanks for the laughs. You’ve probably heard of the mysterious: Drop bear.

    Check out the artists impression….
    Dropbear Image attributed to: By Yamavu – Own workThis file was derived from: Phascolarctos cinereus -ZooParc de Beauval, France -upper body-8a.jpgAuthor frank wouters (CC-BY), CC BY-SA 3.0,

    Look at the bones! He’ll do you up a treat, mate!

    It is unfashionable to stop, think and consider. And the amount of noise that people have to exist with makes it pretty hard going. But then sometimes there is no information to be had and you face something of a predicament, and you have to make a choice. Many months ago, I looked up the history of the term: ‘Hobson’s Choice’. Turns out that it so named after a canny operator.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for the continuing education, and Nellie Bly – what a character. Also, it is astounding that Jules Vernes fiction produced a real world result.

    Oh, I forgot to get a photo of the mutant corn. Been busy today and had to work late. The Editor is having dinner with a friend so cooking and cleaning took much longer than usual when we both muck in on the job. Oh well, mustn’t grumble. I’m fed, the dogs are fed, the chickens are fed and the kitchen is clean – can’t ask for more than that.

    It was warm here today at 91’F and it looks as though it will stay warm tonight, although not that hot. Hopefully the warmer weather ripens some of the tomato crop. Dunno.

    Turns out the kernels growing in the tassels is a thing: Tassel Ears in Corn. Possibly I need to arrange the kernels in a manner whereby they bear more than a passing resemblance to a deity with well heeled followers with deep pockets. Then our fortunes will be made!

    The corn dolly’s are really interesting. Hmm, makes sense too. For some reason I get a kind of Stephen King horror story vibe from them, although traditionally they did not appear to be something to fear.

    Far out, that does sound like share house trouble. Your share house mate would not have appreciated the unflattering comparison, and really, to me such antics are hardly a method to inspire others to get to work. Some cultures revel in what I once heard described as ‘heavy pruning’ – such methods leave me feeling cold and wanting to be elsewhere. But all the same, you do see people trying that gear on. Words sometimes are like weapons.

    Hehe! Mate, you should see the state of the music industry down here. It brutal after two years of you know what. Interestingly, I read that the government appears to have booked a regional stadium show for the Foo Fighters next week – you may have heard of them? I do wonder how folks in the music industry feel about that given that the same mob has shut down their business activities. Hmm.

    Sounds like a fun film, but I dunno about the super hero films they just don’t call to me. Muster Dogs on the other hand… Kelpie’s, lovely creatures. 🙂 But then I’m biased in this regard. Who’s in the new Rocky Horror Picture Show? Oh my gawd – what a question I just asked. The behemoth has been running continuously for 46 years, and was penned by an Aussie and Kiwi. Go figure, must be something in the water. The more I looked into that question, the harder it was to determine with any level of accuracy, what the answer was. Only you can say. No frame of reference you see. It would be akin to doing a Sudoku puzzle with no numbers provide to start off with. My brain now hurts and I can almost hear that catchy ear worm – the time warp…

    I hear you about that, and where will be in another 50 years? Probably pushing up the daisies is my best guess. The odds are good for that outcome. Look, I dunno it is all that great a thing to have the shops open all that time. What about sports, and catching up with people. A mate referenced the Bowling Alone book recently. I must read this – eventually. I can understand why you may have skipped a bit in the Rummage book, I mean the author made the point, I agreed with the core tenet of her thesis, and now I feel mildly bombarded with more examples than I know what to do with. And Norah Lofts Wayside Tavern is starting to look rather appealing at this unfinished stage… Am I weak? Maybe… What to do?

    Your weather is at least understandable to my mind – the lower temperatures reported upon, let’s just say that I’m a bit summer soft even in this year of no-summer. Did you get any biscuits and gravy? On such moments, world events can turn. 🙂 I missed out on my chips and gravy this week, and I’m feeling the hurt and can only but enjoy your food stories vicariously.

    No seriously, the other owners really did take the wrong dog. I fail to understand how that could happen, but it did. And Old Fluffy was such a character she just went along with that rubbish. Yeah it was all fun for her. I think the words that spluttered out of my mouth when at the dog groomers was: “This is not my dog”. At such times, simple language can convey a much deeper sense of the underlying reality and seriousness of the situation. I really do wonder about the other people – it was so weird that it happened.



  26. Hi Inge,

    I’m rather partial to hearing from people who can hold a note and have at least an ear for the accepted musical scales. It seems to help.

    But then sometimes, some folks understand the rules of music well enough that they can chuck in an off note here and there for effect or fiddle around with the timing and lend their own signature to the overall effect.

    There’s an Australian band that does that very well. Talented musicians, and they just ever so slightly bend the rules and sound like nothing else.

    Hope the storms are now in the past, and that there was not too much damage in your immediate area? I wouldn’t have wanted to be on a ferry between your island and the mainland when the worst storm gust hit. I don’t get sea sick, but the Editor does, and the ferry ride between the north and south island of New Zealand was a shocker. Mind you, the ferry ride between Kangaroo Island and the South Australian mainland was horrific – and through shark infested waters just for good measure. I’ll bet you’ve experienced some interesting ferry rides over the years?



  27. Hi Angus,

    Thanks for the thumbs up mate! You might appreciate the technical specs, but the radio is powered by a 15 year old Fullriver AGM 12V 200Ah battery. Still going strong too after all these years. That battery is charged by two 200W 12V solar panels. I’ve got plans to replace the car radio head unit as it’s very old now and doesn’t work in one of the stereo channels. I scored the supposedly ‘reference’ grade speakers up for $50. They’re awesome. It was such a fun project to make, and the power cable is as you might guess, very long but it can’t really go all that far from the battery – voltage drop is a bummer at extra low voltage.

    Yeah, things have been super weird over in this state for almost two years now. Last year in between the lock downs we went to the comedy festival to see Michael Hing, and he said that visiting Melbourne was like encounter five million people with PTSD. Yeah, an extreme statement, with a grain of truth. Your city and state appears to have fared much better. I doubt I’ll ever vote for the ALP again.

    Oh yeah, you guys have had some serious rainfall too. Isn’t it strange how green it is at this time of year? Well done with the Macadamia’s. Have you tried them? Despite all my whingeing about the crazy no-summer climate, it is nice to have a break from the extreme heat of previous summers what with all of the continual fire risk.



  28. Hi Chris,

    Nice looking radio, and those speakers look perfect as an interim solution whilst your 6x9s are on the way 🙂


  29. @marg

    I would love to see bald Eagles (and a lot of other north American birds, hmmm Road runner, oh and cedar waxwing). I am not sure if it counts as competitive birding, but mrs damo is doing a ‘big year’ for the Perth region. She has well over a 100 species already, including a couple of rare migrants which should help with her total. As she frequently shares her finds on Facebook, and logs everything on ebird, most other birders we bump into whilst out birding already know her.

    A couple of weeks ago, we were walking along a beach on the south coast and saw a strange looking gull. We both knew it was rare, but it wasn’t till later that day we figured out it was a ‘common gull’, as in, common in Europe and Russia, but most definitely not Australia.

    We had the big camera with us, so uploaded photos to Facebook and got confirmation that we are the first people to ever record this bird on mainland Australia!! Several people immediately drove 5 hours overnight from Perth to try and see it the next day!! Such is the exciting world of birds 🙂


  30. Yo, Chris – We had a minor inspection (fire alarms), yesterday. So there was a bit of cleaning and picking up around my place, too. I always swear I’ll stay more on top of that stuff, but it comes to naught.

    Our weather is not that far behind DJ’s. It got down to 19F (-7.22C), last night. But, it’s clear and sunny, today. Snow keeps popping in and out of the forecast.

    The article about the tassel ear corn was very interesting. And the crazy top! That was just … crazy. It’s funny how nature throws a curve ball, and something that seems rare turns up. And then turns out not to be so rare. As I’ve mentioned, I had one chicken who laid the occasional egg, that had a surface exactly like a walnut. Turns out it’s not that unusual, and the eggs are fine to eat.

    I watched the rest of the newish “The Rocky Horror Picture Show,” last night. Actors one might know? Not so much. Tim Curry was back as the narrator. My, there’s the passage of time, writ large. Adam Lambert (I’ve at least heard the name) played Eddie. Ben Vereen played Dr. Scott. He’s an old comedian / hoofer from way back. Most of the rest of the actors were, as I gathered watching the extras, refugees from Disney, Nickelodion or Broadway. I finally figured out what bothered me, about this new version. The timing, the delivery, the emphasis, was off. Even though the songs and dialogue were about identical. But, the toe tapping tunes were all there. Who can forget that great anthem, “There’s a light (over at the Frankenstein place), There’s a light (burning in the fireplace) …” etc.

    But before that, I watched “World War Z.” Fast zombies. Very fast zombies. I saw it, nearly 10 years ago, when it came out. But I had forgotten chunks of it. There’s been talk of a sequel, but the ups and downs of getting it to the screen are about as bad as, well, a zombie apocalypse.

    I’ve referred to “Bowling Alone,” a couple of times. I guess there’s an update. I sure see a decline of civic involvement, over time. I see my interlibrary loan”UnRoman Britain” is waiting for me at the library. I’ll probably pick it up, tonight. I’ll take a cursory look at it, tonight, but probably won’t get down to giving it a good read, for a couple of days.

    Misery loves company. The biscuits and gravy didn’t happen. 🙁 . it was a bit of a complicated snafu, but when I got to the Club, it was locked. Well, that’s a first. But, people jumped into the gap, and it was all sorted in short order. But the B&G didn’t happen.

    I noticed the pantry was looking a bit bare, so I did some shopping, last night. Hit a couple of the cheap grocery stores. Hard to tell what I spent on the Club, as I bought some stuff, for me. But I’d say just under $40. I usually buy in three’s and four’s. I picked up mayo, mustard and catsup. Some tined tuna and ravioli. A couple kinds of soup. Peaches, pears and pineapple. Pork and beans. About 4 bags full.

    We get one of our food boxes, on Friday. Will be interesting to see what we get.

    Your not too far off with the Stephen King reference. Corn dollies were sometimes called poppets. And were suspect, at some times, in some places. Black magic. Think voodoo dolls. Then there are the Amish dolls …

    So, why no faces? There are theories, mostly to do with their take on religion. Might be, “All are equal in the eyes of God.” Or, maybe, the prohibition against graven images. Or, maybe it’s a simple as, “We’ve always done it, this way.” 🙂 Lew

  31. Hi Damo,

    Mate, had the radio working perfectly with crystal clear reception of Triple J, went to take a photo. But first before taking the photo I thought I’d just screw the rear chunk of plywood to the boom box, and then something changed and the reception is now not what it once was. I’m not blaming Hack and all the news of the day, but you know, it kind of looks like it was their fault.

    It’s heaps better than the previous radio, but I’ll have to shift into fault finding mode and take the arrangement back to the point at which it was working perfectly, and then try and work out what went wrong. It is possible that the antenna was damaged in the post as it seems a bit bent out of shape.

    Hey, remember when cars used to sport antennas made to look like maps of Australia, but made out of very sturdy coat hangers?

    Oh well, nothing was meant to be easy.

    You two really are listed as having spotted the common gull first, and I note that the gargle search returns the six days later folks. How does that work? Have you or Mrs Damo annoyed someone at gargeel? 🙂



  32. Hi Lewis,

    There must be something in the water in that corner of your country to want to do something like that. ‘Tes not natural, to quote the dude in Cold Comfort Farm. But I don’t worry about such things because from what I’ve seen so far of that process, nature produces a cheaper product. And all of those lab processes, as far as I believe them to work, they require feed stocks which are usually food items themselves, and those things are never cheap. But it does make a good story, it’s a bit like trying to reproduce the now extinct (from under a century ago) Tasmanian Tiger (Thylacine). There are always reports that the animals are spotted, but the bounty hunters way back in the day were well paid – and effective.

    That kind of clean up statement flies in the face of the reality of the reversion to the historic mean. Can your new found enthusiasm for cleaning be maintained when there are interesting books to be read – such are the questions that all right thinking people face. And I already know the outcome in advance. 🙂 Good luck.

    Mate, I’m so weak – like your belief in maintaining things in better order than they currently are in – for I put down Rummage. There was nothing more to learned, just more countless examples – and I couldn’t take any more in as I’d already agreed with the authors thesis. The endless examples just didn’t form a cohesive narrative, it kind of looked to me like belabouring the point. So I picked up Norah Lofts: A wayside tavern. Forty pages in, and I’m enjoying the book. Rummage by way of contrast was hard work, and I just didn’t need the convincing.

    Hope your place was toasty warm with those sorts of frozen conditions? But more importantly I was wondering if any of your inmates are fresh air fiends during such weather? Or do they have their limits? Hmm.

    How’s Scott’s recovery going? Is he doing OK?

    The ear tassel corn is super weird – and I’d never seen such a thing before. I’ll harvest the first cobs tomorrow. Yum! Nature is pretty adaptable, and I’ve noted that during warmer years, some of the fruit trees produce blossoms and tiny fruit during the autumn months. Is this a preview of the future? Or is it an insight into the past conditions the trees existed in? Dunno. It doesn’t mean nothing though.

    I’ve had those eggs too, and shell surfaces are pretty weird. I’m not sure what causes that either. Eggs are almost like a chickens signature in that the birds produce mostly consistent eggs, but the eggs vary between one bird and the next. One chicken (a bantam Leghorn) used to produce eggs with an unusual flavour. I fed those eggs to the dogs.

    Ah, so it was the 2016 remake of the 1973 classic, which received quite good reviews from what I noted. One of the comments oft-repeated was that the actors put their own spin on the remake. It might have worked, but also expectations could have been very high causing a lot of tension. I have this odd hunch that the actors involved in the original did it for a bit of a lark – thus the genuine factor which you sort of hinted at. Dunno, I’m no expert, and it is a musical!

    Fast zombies though… Frightening creations. You know, I’ve never seen the film nor have I read the books. Honestly, there was trouble filming the original film from what I heard (from memory), but I can’t now recall the details. I could be wrong. But did you enjoy the fast zombie horde film? The scenes I’ve watched are horrific – and the walls didn’t seem to help. Yikes!

    I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about unRoman Britain. It’s an interesting premise, and who knows, the arguments might be new and convincing? Did I say that I’m enjoying ‘A wayside tavern’? The author keeps up a similar narrative pace to Jack Whyte. Every scene and word counts. Sometimes my mind hovers over texts that I’m reading and I have Inge’s words hovering just at the edge of my awareness. And I’m hearing: Concision! Yes, yes, no unnecessary extra words, I get it. 🙂 With the blog essays I now write with that concept in mind and attempt to be ‘to the point’ and avoid unnecessary verbosity. In the comments, you may have noticed, we can let our hair down – not that I can claim such an august estate these days in relation to flowing locks gently billowing in the breeze. Probably shouldn’t be using the word ‘gently’ either! Can’t always be good. 😉

    I do love the word snafu, but sorry to hear that it didn’t work out so well for the biscuits and gravy. They would have been just the thing for a cold day too. Gawds, you weren’t locked out for long in that awful weather were you?

    Went to the nearby town this morning and picked up the replacement radio. These things are crazy cheap nowadays. In fact they are so cheap as to not be understandable. Still, I guess there wouldn’t be much of a market for the things given what car companies stuff into vehicles these days (good luck sourcing the chips those things) and call them radios.

    Got the boom box working perfectly, put the back panel on, and then the radio reception became strange. It is possible that the antenna is broken as it was a touch bent in transit. I’ll have to do some more investigation on the set up on another day. The local pubs kitchen closes at 8pm, and the kitchen staff wait for no customer. Got there with time to spare and had a nice dinner and a pint of an intriguing mixture known as a Mandarin sour. It was sour, and very good. Yum! We were able to sit outside too, it hasn’t been a warm day, but neither is it cold. It’s getting darker early too…

    Top work with chucking some stuff into the Club pantry. It’s for a good cause, and plenty of people are doing it tough. I wouldn’t at all be surprised if there was an economic lurch downwards this year. I could be wrong.

    Your food boxes are always intriguing as to learn what they’ll contain. Have you discovered any pattern to them?

    Oh! Well I learned that poppet’s are a beneficial form of magic, and are commonly associated with aiding others. They do alarm me unnecessarily, not sure why. I just get an unspecified ooky feeling whenever I see them. The witch bottles are very interesting items.

    It’s also easier not to put a face on the dolls, so it could be done for an economic reason? The article suggests that back in the day, the Amish dolls did have faces. But then some societies prefer conforming behaviours and symbolism.



  33. Yo, Chris – All this tinkering with food stuffs. I wonder how much of it is just to rake in money from venture capitalists? Seems to work for Mars boy. I’m enjoying “Eating to Extinction.” Besides chapters on specific plants, he throws in a lot of interesting information about the development of different plants. A chapter on grains, a chapter on tubers. “Landrace” is thrown around, a lot.

    I pretty much skimmed through “Rummage.” For the reasons you mentioned. LOL. The Editor is made of sterner stuff, than you or I. 🙂

    I’m glad your enjoying the Norah Lofts. That poor old centurion!

    It was 19F (-7.22C) at midnight. By 8am, it was 30F (-1C). We did get a very light dusting of snow. Just stuck in the flower beds, a bit. From here on out, it’s getting a bit warmer. Rain is coming back.

    Oh, we just had to wait about 20 minutes, before someone came to open the Club. And there’s a covered, out of the wind place to sit. Some people returned to the warmth of their cars.

    I forgot to mention, Scott showed up. Limping across the parking lot. He’s still got a bit of pain, but that may sort itself. They repaired the meniscus, but his doctor is pushing for a partial or full knee replacement. He doesn’t want to do that. He said his mom had replacement knees, hip and shoulder, and was never without pain. If pain is his lot, he’d rather do it with factory standard parts. 🙂

    Yes, they did have a lot of trouble filming the original “World War Z.” And are having about the same problems, getting a sequel off the ground. Script changes, director changes. Options running out. And now that Mr. Pitt is a lot more famous, scheduling problems. That zombie swarming scene is Jerusalem being overrun. But there’s another scene, a very quiet scene, that really sticks with you. A zombie with snapping teeth. The stuff of nightmares.

    Come to think of it, the new “Rocky Horror Picture Show” is very “high school musical.” Everyone trying to be the star, and outshine the others. Given some of the actor’s backgrounds, that makes sense.

    I did a bit of a skim, through UnRoman Britain. Lots of photos and sketches. One thing I hadn’t thought of, before. The Anglo-Saxon kingdoms, pretty much followed the old pre-Roman tribal boundaries. And even in late Roman times, people were still identifying themselves by tribal identity. So it’s not too far out to think the native Britains, pretty much just picked up where they left off, when the Romans came.

    And, in other Wonderful World of Archaeology news, they’ve just uncovered a huge Roman mosaic, in London. Looks rather like an Oriental carpet. Up in Scotland, they’ve uncovered an almost complete dinosaur skeleton. One of those flying toothy ones. And closer to (your) home, up in Queensland, they discovered a prehistoric crocodile, with a small dinosaur, in it’s tummy. The condemned man ate a hearty last meal. 🙂

    Getting back to UnRoman Britain, there was a series about a Roman Britain “detective.” He was a mosaic maker, but lived in one of the traditional round houses. He was good at solving crimes, as he could see patterns.

    Your boom box. Chris goes ghetto. 🙂 . That’s interesting about the reception problems. And that story you mentioned to Damo, about auto ariels being fashioned from coat hangers in the shape of Australia. Funny! Back in the day, TV reception depended on an ariel that sat on top the TV. They were called rabbit ears. Many a comedy sketch was built around getting the rabbit ears, just right.

    Last night, I checked out a new “dollar” store. Well, no. But, I did find some treasures. A 6 pack of paper towels for $5. Lots of soups for less than a dollar. Canned chicken, ditto. And the potted meat one of our stalwart volunteers likes, for 60¢ a can. That’s usually a dollar, at the other dollar store.

    The only pattern I’ve noticed with the food boxes, is that over the last year or two, the … quality (?) has gone down. We used to get 4 pound bags of good cane sugar. Haven’t seen any of that, in over a year. It’s been such a slow process, that it’s hard to put a finger on what’s missing. But things are.

    I’ve always thought that most dolls are pretty creepy. Another thought i had about the Amish dolls is that rag doll faces usually involve buttons. Most Amish don’t use zippers (or velcro), and resort to buttons. Might not be any left over for dolls. But other Amish groups don’t even use buttons. As they might get ostentatious. They use pins or hooks and eyes. Each group is pretty autonomous, and there are many different ideas of what is permitted, and what is not. Lew

  34. Hi, Chris!

    That ‘s one funny – but cool! – radio.

    If you look at the very worst pandemics, I think you will see that they were all bacterial infections, not viral ones like this one. Oh, well. One does what one has to.

    If your tomatoes have started to ripen, with a bit of pink or orange, once it is too risky to leave them on the vine, you can cut them, be sure there is some stem on them, and hang them up in the house to finish ripening. That often works. If I had a greenhouse – and congrats on the enlargement – I might try hanging some inside there.

    My son has all these boards that he has bought on the cheap from a nearby mill. He is now charring them with his propane torch, they are allover black, because that is supposed to help preserve the wood and he is going to make raised beds with them. I think they are mostly white oak; not sure.

    The penstemons are charming, and thanks for the roses and geraniums.


  35. Hi Chris,

    Bad luck on the antenna, it could indeed be Hacks fault. I struggle to listen to that, mostly just two talking heads from the “opposing sides” yakking about nothing rather than actual good reporting. Remember when the morning show between 9am and 12 used to intersperse music with actual journalism. Good stuff!

    Coat hanger antennas were all the rage, extra points if on a falcon wagon!

    Maybe I annoyed Google by using duckduckgo instead? Good work on finding the record of us though, I actually wasn’t sure where you would find it (we logged the data via eBird, but I think another group also tracks it).


  36. Hi Damo,

    I really don’t know what I’ve done to cause the suddenly poor reception. It’s something of a mystery, but after replying here I’ll do some reading up on making another home made high gain FM antenna. Really good FM specific antennas are not as easy to find these days. The one hanging off the side of the house is specifically tuned and calibrated for Triple J. I kid you not, I had to make that thing from scrap aluminium, and it works a treat. I may have borrowed the blog title from System of a Down: Aerials in the Sky. A very good song too. Creepy as video clip. I saw them when they played the Big Day Out – they were good. Here you go, the antenna has proven its worth many times over, and they don’t make them like that any more, in fact, they never made them like that in the first place: 2015 March posts x 5

    Yeah I do recall the three hour long morning show which switched between music and news. It was a good format, but I imagine that budget cuts sunk that particular ship. The presenters regularly remind the listeners that things are done on the cheap. I reckon it keeps them sharp. Any idiot can throw lots of money at things, but to do a lot with a little takes more effort.

    That’s the problem with gargle, it’s good but you feed the beast. Far out. It’s not a bad analogy really.



  37. Hi Pam,

    Thanks, Can you imagine me heading down into the hood with that boom box, doofing the neighbourhood and also carting along the 70kg/154 pound battery in a wheelbarrow? It sure would get some attention! But it’s got a certain sort of retro-home-made-punk look to the setup. Now if I can only but get the thing working. Reception is poor here due to mountains and stuff.

    Pam, I dunno, what troubles me about all of this is that it has become politicised. If it was a genuine undeniable health concern (which it partially is), that would not be a possibility, and yet here we all are today. There have been some calls for a Royal Commission in this country into the entire matter, and it would be fascinating to uncover the money trail. But I dunno whether that will happen. But I’m like you and just do what I’ve gotta do. It’s the middle ground.

    I’ve read about the tomato treatment, and might try that. Ruby got into the tomato patch today and in the process of chasing a very healthy looking rat, her normally beige fur has turned green. Yes, and a path was also cut through the tomato patch. Hmm.

    After two years of no-summer, a much larger greenhouse is certainly worth the effort. We continued to work on the project this morning and moved another rock gabion cage. So many rocks…

    I’ve seen that preservation process, and by all accounts it works. Some of the tree stumps left over from the loggers were burnt in the 1983 Ash Wednesday fires, and the timber inside is in pristine condition. He’s onto something for sure.

    Expect more flowers this week, and we planted a couple of new varieties of Salvia’s this week. Super hardy plants.



  38. Hello Chris
    Hmm, ‘tampering with the rules of music’ of course it can be done but the line is as thin as a strand in a cobweb. It is a rare attempt accidental or otherwise that doesn’t make me wince.
    Glorious sunshine at the moment. It was the same yesterday and then it suddenly went dark and the ground turned white from a hailstorm. A short while later it had all melted, the grass was green again and the sun shone.
    Daffodils and primroses are starting to flower, hurrah for approaching Spring.


  39. Hi Lewis,

    The main issue with printing lots of mad cash and expanding the money supply is that the excess stuff has to go somewhere. What really annoys me about the whole financialisation of the economy which took place during the recession of the 1990’s, was that even back then I knew it wouldn’t work out well in the long run. Mad cash gets poured into ‘financial assets’, but from my perspective that is a disincentive to put the stuff into enterprises that make physical things that people actually need. I suspect that at the core of those policies was that people wanted cheap stuff, and lots of it. I worked in manufacturing in those days and watched factories get shut down, and the machines shipped overseas. I wasn’t a fan of all that, and at some point you have to bring some of that back home otherwise foreign powers have it over you.

    But you’re probably right, but I reckon those food innovations might be a call to venture capitalists by people looking to secure their jobs. So far from what I’ve read or heard, the stuff costs more to produce that way than what nature does. There’s probably a good reason for that. And scientists do it super tough economically because they have to continually reapply for their jobs.

    Mind you, the Centurion in Norah Lofts book has had to take a good hard look at his life and the opportunities available to him. What interests me is that the young lady who has taken the lead in their pub venture was described by him as more than ‘a touch naive’, when in reality it is the Centurion who’s ideas regarding the future are unrealistic and way out of touch. It’s a great book. And the Editor slogged her way through more of that book than I read.

    Good to hear that your wait in the freezing conditions was only 20 minutes. I’ve been involved in such mix ups too. That’s where stoicism comes to the fore. Have you ever read Meditations by Marcus Aurelius?

    Go Scott! That’s an option and it would most likely be the one I would travel too. The recent shoulder injury highlighted to me that there are other options than the surgeons knife and there are costs and benefits to those paths. And yes, I would most certainly listen to other people who have been through that option before jumping in to the fray.

    Far out dude. Just watched the teeth chattering scene and it was very intense. Former scientists make good zombies, but the teeth chattering was a very strange addition that just lent the scene that little bit of extra horror. Here’s hoping that zombies aren’t present in nightmares, or reality. Unpleasant creatures.

    That was my thought too with the remake. A movie with a bunch of individuals attempting to steal each scene so as to big note themselves would seriously struggle trying to recount a cohesive narrative. There are times when the story is paramount, and the actors have to shine by doing their jobs.

    It’s interesting that unRoman Britain covered that aspect, but such tribal boundaries back then may have reflected geographical realities – watersheds, mountain ranges, valleys, oceans etc. I noticed in Norah Lofts book that the author mentioned the Iceni and I’d not heard of those folks before. Ah, of course Boudica.

    The mosaic is pretty huge, and I see what you mean about it resembling an oriental carpet. You’d hope that the building – a dining room apparently – had a hypocaust to keep the feet warm in the colder winter months? I missed the fossil crocodile with the dinosaur up its guts. Unchanged, so many years. One of the side bars of the article pointed to a current article: Three-legged, 4.3 metre (that’s 14 foot) crocodile pulled from Queensland river after eating two dogs. Hmm, They get bigger than that.

    Nothing wrong with seeing patterns at all. In fact, I’d have to suggest that a lot of life is patterns, and despite peoples words to the contrary, people seem rather fond of them. I sometimes joke with you that the patterns aren’t right! It’s funny, but people often project the shadow (Jung) and um, I’ve heard accusations of a lack of spontaneity from people who couldn’t apply that word to their own lives. Hmm. There are times I suspect that people do a lot of the unusual activities they seem to want to do, because there is a underlying belief that if they do that, they’ll be able to continue doing that the following day, and the day after that. There’s a sense of security from all that which candidly doesn’t look that much different to me than ingrained rituals.

    Yeah, it used to be a thing with those amusing map shaped aerials fashioned out of sturdy coat hangers. You see back in those days, it was not uncommon to have the antenna ripped off the front fender of your car. Thus the popularity of the powered and retractable antenna – which the radio still has the electronics to control. It’s funny to me looking at the arrangements with the car radio because the fascia can be removed. That was an anti-theft option from way back in the day, but who can now recall such niceties when the things are so dirt cheap and aren’t worth pinching?

    Hehe! I recall the rabbits ears on top of the old vacuum tube TV’s. Appalling aerials.

    Is this the new dollar store that was recently closed? I’m sure it’s good, but 60 cents a can? The blood and bone folks would probably charge more for an equivalent weight in fertiliser. 😉 I can’t recall when you last scored a four pound bag of sugar. Things are odd here too. The Editor was in the big smoke the other night and had dinner with a mate of hers. She walked back along a city street that used to have a lot of motorcycle shops, like new Japanese bikes and scooters for sale, plus other shops selling all the gear. Apparently they’re all gone now, and I can recall those shops from my earliest memories. They’ve been replaced by dumpling and ramen shops plus a lot of decay. It’s like a scene out of Blade Runner… The process was slow given it’s occurred over two years, but from another perspective, if you hadn’t personally witnessed the slow changes, it would seem fast.

    I’m with you about the dolls. Can’t say for sure why I feel that way, but I do. Oh, that’s a really good point about the buttons being used for eyes, but then historically buttons aren’t hard to make, and the canny person could make them from hardwood or bone. Dunno. My gut feeling is leaning towards your ostentatious explanation, but I don’t really know much about that particular culture.

    Moved another rock gabion cage today. It’s all in place and filled now. Two moved, another four to go. 🙂 Then I might get the machine in to do some earthworks. Exciting! Had a really late lunch today which was delightful as my flour order also arrived at the post office. I’d run low on yeast, but could have gone sourdough if I really had to – fortunately at this stage I don’t have to. And the Dirt Mouse Suzuki had all of its tires replaced. The other day we noticed that a bubble had formed in one of the sidewalls of the rear tire. Never something that you want to see – and there was no sign of impact or scratch, just the bubble. Probably shoddy manufacturing, but who knows. I replaced all four of them. At the last service, the mechanic who I’ve known for years advised me that they were due for replacement. I don’t muck around with servicing of stuff. It’s easier to look after stuff.

    Did I mention that I’m enjoying Norah Lofts book? 🙂



  40. Hi Inge,

    You’re right about music. The scales from what I understand are a long agreed to series of progression of notes. Being something of a music geek from way back, I noticed that the spacings of the frequencies (in terms of Hz or cycles per second) with the notes altered, so I’ve long since assumed that what we expect to hear is something that we’ve become accustomed to as distinct from a rigid progression. But I don’t really know, but after my earlier attempts at guitar and reading music, I can now hear when notes are off. It kind of grates on the ears a bit, but it can be done well.

    Good to hear that the progression of storms has abated a bit in your part of the world and that the sun is now shining. Your daughter is in a rather damp part of the continent right now, although some parts of the east coast are getting more soaked than other parts.
    Wet weekend weather for Queensland and NSW as cyclone brews in north-west, BOM says. 500mm is just shy of 20 inches of rain.

    The weather here is all rather dull and uninteresting, and on the cooler side of things for summer weather. Nobody wants to experience exciting weather, do they?

    I’m reading another book from your part of the world: Norah Lofts: A wayside tavern. I’m rather enjoying the read. What have you been reading lately?



  41. @ Pam – Better not wear your tennis whites, near the raised boxes. Til they’ve got a chance to weather and mellow 🙂

    Years ago, there was a craze to butane torch oak wood. A light sanding, and the grain would really show. Then a seal. People would build furniture out of it. Lew

  42. @Damo

    100 species – good for Mrs. Damo. There were 30 species sighted on that day we saw the Eagles and in the winter yet. I recently found out that Illinois, the state were I live is 2nd only to Alaska in numbers of Bald Eagles. No road runners here but we do see Cedar Waxwings, generally in flocks after berries, from time to time. I’d love to see some of the birds of Australia. Maybe you’ve seen it but there’s a movie, “The Big Year”. Now that’s competitive birding in the extreme.


  43. Yo, Chris – It got down to 21F (-6.11C) last night. Oh, well. One more cold night and then the rain is coming back, along with warmer temperatures. Bright and sunny, today.

    No argument here. People wanted their cheap stuff, and now they’re paying for it, in a lot of different ways.

    The thing about those “scientific breakthroughs”, in a lot of areas, is that they don’t scale up. And stay profitable. And, as with recycling, if someone can’t make money at it, it won’t be done.

    I read something interesting, in the “Eating to Extinction.” It was talking about soy beans. Once a month, a ship carrying 60,000 tons comes in, from Brazil. Owned by The Land of Stuff interests. Takes 5 days to unload, in Liverpool. There’s a highly automated plant (the author noticed that there were very few people about) and in 4 hours, the stuff all shoots through. This and that are removed, and animal feed piles up at the back end. Solvents are used to remove this and that. And then the solvents are washed out. Wonder if they’re able to reuse them? If not, where do they go?

    I’m glad your enjoying the Loft’s book. Sometimes I pick a winner.

    It wasn’t the cold I minded so much. It was waiting for that first cup of coffee! 🙂 . I only drink tea, at home, and coffee at the Club.

    Much to my surprise, Scott dropped by my place, yesterday. He had some pants to give me. So we chatted for awhile. He took the stairs up … but the elevator down.

    Ohhh! I had meant to find the teeth chattering scene. Glad you found it. I wonder if the director came up with that bit of business. Or if it was the actor? Sometimes actors come up with really cleaver things, that make a scene.

    I had wondered if the tribal boundaries might have a lot to do with geography. There doing some interesting DNA studies, now. Looks like the Anglo-Saxon “invasion” wasn’t as overwhelming to the native population, as thought. There’s a lot of Brits that turn up in their cemeteries. They more adapted the lifestyle of the Anglo-Saxon, than being displaced. Just as some of them had done when the Romans came in. After Boudica did her thing, the Iceni were pretty much wiped out, as a tribe. They pretty much disappear from history.

    As the London mosaic is at a construction site, it will have to be lifted and moved. Then they’ll discover if it has a hypocaust, underneath. They think it might have been a mansio. One of those government sponsored inns, for travelers. There was another Roman Britain mystery series, I read. About two sisters running a mansio. It was lightly touched on that they were refugees, from Pompeii. Of course, the building just as easily might have been the governor’s palace. With a river view! 🙂 Your joking about patterns was in the back of my mind, when I mentioned the mosaic artist.

    Autopilot, routine, superstition … we do spend a lot of time “out of it.” I made my every-three-day batch of oatmeal, this morning. That’s pretty much automatic. Until the morning I forgot to add the water. Something must have disrupted the process. Phone call? Someone at the door?

    I think your radio reception problems are caused by aliens. UFOs in the area. At least, that’s what happens in the movies. 🙂 When aliens are in the area, radio reception goes wonky. As happened in “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.”

    Yup. It was the “dollar” store that was closed on a previous occasion. I feel a little guilty, taking that stuff to our stalwart volunteer, but he loves it. That company also makes something called “Vienna Sausages” in an equally diminutive tin. Sometimes, I take him my cheesy popcorn. Or, the Chex mix.

    Getting back to changes in the food boxes, when we get the government commodity box, besides there being no fresh produce, there was also a lack of that 2 pound processed cheese product. Usually, everyone gets a pack. And, there’s usually a small box of extra, down in the lobby. This time, I got one, but I don’t think everyone did. Usually, there’s a lot on the swap table. There was none. We sometimes got a box or two of different breads. Also left down in the lobby. Haven’t seen any of that, in a couple of months.

    This morning we got our local box, from our local food bank. Not bad. A little I keep, brown rice, one can of black beans, a two pound bag of frozen peas and carrots, a pound of frozen ground turkey., a dozen eggs. A mac and cheese box that’s so smashed I wouldn’t take it anywhere. There’s plenty for the swap table … tinned green beans, a bag of marshmallows, some decaf tea, candy canes, a bag of biscuits, top ramen. Plenty for the Club. Two bags of dried beans, tinned corn, peaches, tomato sauce, oatmeal, shelf stable milk, brown rice, some soup, a tin of “beef and juices” (?), a box of pasta, peanut butter. All that fits in one box. So, there’s a lot of 1’s of things. But I can usually fill in more, from the swap table.

    That’s a hellacious amount of work, to move those gabion cages. But, I guess the pay off is getting to have fun with the earth moving machine. There’s a lot of photos of hill forts, in “UnRoman Britian.” Maybe throw up some defensive berms, while your at it? 🙂 Lew

  44. Chris:

    But why – why? – is Ruby green? I never turned green working with tomatoes, except with envy at my neighbor’s patch.

    So many of our rocks are just small stones. It would take an awful lot of them to fill up a gabion. I think that you just plain have more rocks, which I used to find hard to believe. I was digging up beds today, beds that have long been there and tilled. And what are they full of? Rocks. Not as many as there used to be, I’ll grant you. I planted spinach and radishes.


  45. Hello Chris
    I read and liked books by Norah Lofts, a long time ago. All that I remember is that I liked them.
    At the moment I am reading and alternating the memoirs of Peter Ustinov ‘Dear Me’ which I mentioned before and ‘Limits to medicine, medical nemesis: the expropriation of health’ by Ivan Illich. Both are worth reading in the main but with some less good bits. After which I’ll continue my re-reading of the Amelia Peabody books by Elizabeth Peters. I am up to vol. 14. They go to the charity shop after I have re-read them. Dare I say that they may appeal more to women?


  46. @ Inge – I think there’s an Amelia Peabody TV series. I’m pretty sure it’s on my libraries “new” list, and that I put a hold on it. Ought to be interesting. Lew

  47. @ Lew
    Even the thought of an Amelia Peabody tv series appals me. Read the books. Look up Amelia Peabody series in Wikipedia; but be careful as it does give away all the plots; enthralling non the less.


  48. Hi Inge,

    The author (Norah Lofts) recounts an engaging tale. I was able to read for a couple of hours on the bus today – pure bliss. No distractions, just solid reading.

    Hmm, Peter Ustinov appears to be a nonpareil. A fascinating person of interest. To be candid, some of his ideas are an anathema to my own ideals, but then it is no hardship to enjoy peoples company whom I don’t necessarily agree with. Good grace is lacking in these enlightened days. What a remarkable gift for the spoken language the bloke had.

    As to Ivan Illich’s book, I’m bemused that it is considered a topic of some controversy. Many long years ago I attended a doctor for a health issue and the bloke was whining about how hard he was working. Woe is me was the tone, and I had not encouraged this line of conversation. So I gave him a speculative look and said to him: So, have you seen more than 80 patients in a day? And wow did things become business like and to the point from then onwards. Hmm. There is an inherent conflict of interest in the relationship and I believe the financial arrangements reward multiple visits rather than simply addressing the issue on the first visit. Things may however be different in your part of the world. Every day I add apple to my breakfast and the children’s rhyme: An apple a day, keeps the doctor away – is heard.

    Hehe! I read widely and am not fussed about such things, but then growing up without a dad might have not programmed in such barriers? I dunno, but I care little about such distinctions.



  49. Hi Pam,

    Further explanation is clearly required here! 😉 Ruby is a graceful dog who loves leaping through the air like a gazelle. However, unlike a gazelle Ruby is more the predator than your average gazelle. Mind you, she has not been put to the test against a larger beast and may come unstuck in that match-off. It’s a risk that she runs. Anyway, as usual the tomato vines have sprawled (yes, yes, I do need to restrain them somehow). Ruby had access to the area where the tomatoes grow, and she spent her misbegotten time leaping through the tomatoes – thus forging a path through the green tomato jungle – and chasing after an errant rat which was stupid enough to be discovered there.

    The tomato patch needs to be moved to the sunniest spot on the farm, but how many hours are there in the day? A huge-erer vegetable patch is on the to-do list and as a little information teaser, many of the citrus fruit trees will be moved there. It is however a job for another day at some unspecified point in the future.

    I’ll put a photo on the next blog of the steel rock gabion cages, and you too will note that many of the rocks used were rather small. Little baby steps is what is required with that job. I’m often reminded of Helen and Scott Nearing with their rock works.

    Good stuff with the planting, and that sure is getting them in the cold ground at the earliest opportunity. Respect. Hey, don’t you notice that the soil gets consumed and is converted into edible plants? At least your ground is not frozen – that is beyond my experience.

    Self seeded kale plants are turning up in the vegetable terraces. Yum!



  50. Hi Lewis,

    My understanding of the process is that Hydrogen is currently produced using Natural Gas as distinct from the electrolysis method. So I dunno about hydrogen powered cars and have never actually seen one. It might be a good idea?

    We love energy stuff down here and speaking of which there was a test recently in relation to hydrogen: World-first hydrogen tanker arrives in Victoria to test potential for exporting fuel source to Japan. Hastings is a deep water port to the south east of here. Ah, fascinating, they used the plentiful brown (i.e. very damp) coal to produce the stuff.

    A cold night followed by a bright sunny day, kind of sounds to me like spring is not too far around the corner for you. Happy days! Went into the city today. The trains were again cancelled due to track maintenance – can’t argue with that – but the buses arrived on time and it was really pleasant. I have no idea at all why people hate on bus services, but I reckon it might be a snobbery issue. Whatever, I on the other hand had the pleasure of reading Norah Lofts for several hours on the journey to and fro, and I now understand what you mean by your words a few days ago suggesting: ‘poor Centurion’. Yeah, he got a bad deal, but also acted honourably as he faced a Hobson’s Choice. The book is actually a really dare I say it – a novel – approach to learning about history. 🙂

    It was a lovely day in the city, and my mates and I ate at a sort of fenced off park that had various food vendors. I was thinking the food truck scene in the film ‘Chef’, but the food was somewhere between that and fair ground food. The food was good but not great like I was expecting (but I’m happy with that outcome), we had an outdoor table shaded by a large umbrella which kept the worst parts of the sun off. It was pretty hot and humid there today and I had my wide brimmed hat keeping the worst of those rays off me. The conversation was pretty good and lively though and ventured through many topics and areas of interest. It’s a target rich environment out there these days.

    Scale and economics are issues that people don’t generally consider when talking about technology, and what is possible can sometimes be unaffordable in terms of either capital and/or resources. The first large solar panels I purchased were $750 each. A few of those put a dent in the bank account for sure. It was only when volume production moved to the land of stuff that the panels got cheap – but the joke is none of the other components got cheaper. Admittedly I use a lot of locally produced content in my solar power systems.

    Holy carp! That sure is a lot of soy beans. Dunno whether I’d be too keen to feed too many of those beans to animals but then I use mixed grains for the chickens and make a lot of dog food from scratch. Sure the plants capture nitrogen from the atmosphere, but they must take other minerals from the soil as well. The shipment of soil minerals around the globe in various formats is something that I don’t really comprehend, if only because without the addition of other minerals it’s a losing game. It’s like the coffee grounds in that it makes no sense at all to treat them as a waste product – but we do.

    Curious minds want to know whether you’d already quaffed a tea earlier in the day before then heading to the club? It goes without saying that some people shouldn’t be let out in public before their first caffeine hit of the day! Let’s just politely suggest that personal experience guides me here.

    At least Scott is managing to hobble around the place. From my days of distance running I recall that downhill the jarring on joints was worse than what was received when running uphill.

    I’d read about the fate of the Iceni yesterday, and the end which the Roman troops dished up to them sure was personal. But then I’d wondered that about the Anglo-Saxon’s as to how many local folks were displaced, and how many were simply integrated? And I doubt that folks in the outer-lying and remote areas were as helpless as the author made them to appear. The same is true today, and probably why the authoritas would like to remove people from areas where the likes of I reside. 😉 You always get some tame academic suggesting that for our safety… Towns get wiped out too down here.

    I’d read that theory about the mosaic belonging to a Mansio. Oh my goodness, there are a number of Roman Britain mystery series. Which one did you refer to?

    Who knows what interrupted your chefing away acts of culinary magic? At such moments I suggest to the Editor that I am but a man and are thus limited to doing one thing at a time. Always elicits a response! 🙂 Note to self: Do not over-use this technique…

    Moog’s are what I think about when the mind recollects Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Lot’s of build up and creepy plot development, and then 1970’s synthesisers meets aliens. For sheer shock value, nothing beat the 1980’s film Alien. Unstoppable and a Moog would have had no discernible difference in the outcome. I ask you: Would fast zombies stop and appreciate the genius of the Moog? Me thinks not.

    If your stalwart loves the produce, who are we to argue? I’d rather note appreciation than polite disinterest during such gift giving processes.

    A mate of mine finally showed me what that 2 pound processed cheese product which is both strange and liquidy of the most remarkable shade of orange. I can’t say that I looked at the stuff and thought to myself, this will be genius. And just to out myself here, I’m soft and was not willing to even taste the stuff.

    Your local food box seems like the better option to my limited understanding of the matter. And I did notice that you picked the finest choices from the mix (I would have chosen similarly from the stuff).

    A berm is a good idea and would probably help against bushfires as well, but why mess around with such footling options. Why not think big and go for something like Old Sarum?



  51. Hello Chris
    I avoid the medical profession and all medication. The situation vis a vis seeing a doctor has deteriorated badly here.
    Perhaps you would both enjoy the Amelia Peabody books. There are 20 of them and they should be read in order. Go to the site ‘Fantastic Fiction’ and look up Elizabeth Peters and you will be able to check them out. It is a very useful site if you don’t know it.


  52. Chris:

    Lady Greensleeves . . .

    Baby rocks and baby kale. Soon you’ll start going by the name “Big Daddy”.

    Our ground is not frozen – right now. It was, but I hope we are in the clear.


  53. @Inge and Chris
    My brother-in-law is a retired cardiologist and my late sister, Mary was an oncology pharmacist. They have/had little good to say about our medical system.

    A book that addresses at least some of this is “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, the Certainty of Dying, and Killing Ourselves to live Longer” by Barbara Ehrenreich.


  54. Yo, Chris – I guess it makes sense to put a hydrogen station, here. Right on the main interstate, halfway between Seattle and Portland. I notice they’re partnering with our local bus service. Wonder if they’re going to hydrogen busses?

    It got down to a balmy 28F (-2.22C), last night. We’re in for a big weather change, this afternoon. The return of warm and wet. And maybe a bit of wind.

    Sounds like you had a great picnic in the park. As there was no Tiramisu mentioned, I presume it wasn’t a Green Wizard meet-up.

    Processed cheese product. An orange color, not found in nature. I was just reading about cheeses, last night, in “Eating to Extinction.” Did you know, there’s a company in Denmark (in business since the 1880s) that has 100s of cultures for different cheeses and yogurt? You can order up any cheese imaginable. Just add milk 🙂 . I’m about to read the article on Stilton. I picked up some at the veg store, this morning. Along with the locally produced yogurt.

    Oh, I had a cuppa tea, before I headed down to the Club. But it doesn’t hold a candle to the coffee caffeine jolt.

    Before his knee gave out, Scott was a great walker. Sometimes 5 miles, a day.

    Hold on. Roman British mystery series, coming up. I think one of the best is “The Eagle” series, by Simon Scarrow. Especially if you’re military minded. About a centurion and his optio, during the conquest and after.

    The series about the two sisters, running a mansio, is “The Aurelia Marcella Mysteries” by Jane Finnis.

    The series about the mosaic maker is “The Libertus Mysteries” by Rosemary Rowe.

    There’s the “Medicus” series, by Ruth Downie. He’s a doctor in the Roman army.

    There’s also a “Vindolanda” series, which I am unfamiliar with. But it’s written by Goldsworthy, who’s a well respected archaeologist / historian. I have several of his non-fiction books. All of these series take place in different time periods, of Roman British history.

    I should really watch “Close Encounters”, again. Been awhile. And I guess there’s some expanded cuts, out there. Last night I watched “1941” It’s an old comedy, 40+ year old. John Balushi and Dan Akroyd. Based on true events. Days after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the west coast thought the Japanese might invade. Rumors were rife, and in LA, people went generally nuts.

    I forgot to mention, there was also a box of couscous in our food boxes. But, as I had a box languishing in my pantry, for several months, I took it and the newer box, down to the Club. I also forgot to mention something else, I kept. A pound + of dried raisins, cranberry and cherries. Will go nice with my oatmeal. Or, muffins.

    The Master Gardener’s were here, this morning. They were doing a seminar on rose care. Nice to see them after the long winter. Week after next, weather allowing, they’ll start up their weekly visits. I asked when I should start my tomatoes and peppers, inside. NOW! Lew

  55. @ Margaret:

    I have just ordered “Natural Causes: An Epidemic of Wellness, etc.” Thanks for mentioning it!


  56. Hi Inge,

    I use such services sparingly and always read up on what I’ve been told afterwards. But more than that, I try to eat well, get plenty of exercise, maintain a sense of purpose and connection to the wider community, drink water and sleep well. Those are the basics really, but life can throw some curve balls. I’m beginning to get the impression that there are a lot of underlying health conditions within the wider community.

    Thank you for the book referral, and already I have learned that there are more pyramids in that part of the world than I’d previously understood there to be. 🙂

    Oh my, the website is all encompassing! It’s on such an epic scale that I don’t even know where to begin. Thanks for mentioning the website.



  57. Hi Pam,

    I had not previously understood that Greensleeves was a tragedy. Ruby is a delight but of course tragedy always lurks unseen, but at this moment, she’s delightful – with a tinge of green to her coat.

    The Editor definitely will not call me by that name. I can’t see it happening… 🙂

    Fingers crossed that you avoid any late frosts this growing season and that the weather smiles upon your land.



  58. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, you know, we’ve experienced that system failing in the most personal way possible through utter carelessness. And I’ll use the system if required, but I prefer to avoid it if at all possible. The old adage of: An apple a day keeps the doctor away, was as much a forewarning as it was of introducing the idea of consequences.

    Ah, isn’t that the author who penned the book ‘Brightsided’? This must get on the to-read list.



  59. Hi Lewis,

    Plenty of cars down here run on LPG (Liquified Petroleum Gas). Candidly, I’m not actually sure what the stuff is, or even where it is derived, but it is half the price of normal fuel, but I understand that it does not contain the same energy that petroleum does – and so you use more. But in the big smoke I have seen buses run on Natural Gas – they have that information plastered on the sides of the buses with the suggestion that this is somehow more green than diesel fuel. I don’t even understand that story.

    Ah, so there you have it. Apparently when Hydrogen is burnt, you get water vapour, but you also get some Nitrogen Oxides (note the use of the plural). It also doesn’t appear to contain the same amount of concentrated energy as petroleum (oil derivatives) and basically it has to be used in a fuel cell with the crazy rare earth metals that they need. But I have noticed that some wealthy folks seem to be pushing for Hydrogen. It’s an option, but would I bet the farm on it? Dunno, probably not.

    Balmy indeed! 🙂 Nice one. Things down here look set to be on the warmer side of things with a side serving of tropical storms. La Nina, she be flexing her muscles again, although people in the two states to the north of here have had epic flooding. The amount of rain falling there is bonkers. By comparison things have been rather settled here.

    However, seeing the writing on the wall in relation to impending weather, I connected up the rest of the ground level storm water drains this afternoon at the new shed. I also used silicone sealant to seal up the roof gutter drains. Plus – winning – I worked out what was wrong with the antenna with the boom box radio and then fixed that in a jiffy. Grounding, Mr Watson, grounding… I used a large steel shelving unit for that purpose and the antenna is thus extended far beyond its small stature.

    You presumed wrong, and we are a flexible bunch and met in the park with all of the food trucks. I unfortunately sat in the afternoon sun for a few hours and may have cooked my head. The two banana smoothies and bottles of water didn’t quite do the trick. I woke up this morning with a mild headache – hangover like – and quaffed down a rehydration solution and some carbon to settle my guts. And then headed out and worked again in the summer sun… Felt better within minutes.

    Lewis, woe is me for no tiramisu has passed my lips in such a long time. The hardships I have to endure due to the current exigencies. It’s truly awful. 😉 Mate, things could be worse.

    Thanks for the tip on that company. Actually, the yoghurt culture I began that journey with came from Bulgaria of all places. And um I also nabbed some local cultures to add into the mix, and I’m currently back slopping (an awful term) from one batch to the next. Curiously it was the Bulgarian mix which I kept in the freezer and added sparingly which began to smell like feet that hadn’t been washed for at least two years. I ditched the stuff, continued to back slop and it seems fine. Just in case, I picked up a local mobs freeze dried bacteria culture and add a tiny bit of that each week. Possibly one day I’ll get some raw milk from around the various contacts I have, and then add that to give it a super boost of culture.

    Try as you may, I remain unconvinced about the Stilton. Some scars run deep. The pain is real. I’m soft. You get the picture! And I’m in awe that your palate is refined enough to enjoy such treats.

    Thought I heard a Stag roaring off in the forest a little while ago. That sounds produces some chills. Have you ever heard a Vixen scream? Never heard wolves or bears – please keep them in your part of the world.

    Sorry to hear that about Scott. Does he reckon he might get back to walking the 5 miles per day?

    Thanks for the book recommendation. I’m reminded of Simon Pegg and Hot Fuzz. Being too effective can often make for a more difficult life than if one were bumbling. And the higher echelon’s can often expect more from such people.

    So many books – oops, my brain just exploded as I have to write this evening. And the Editor interrogated me about this evenings essay. I have this vague superstition that I should not talk about what I intend to write about. Such concerns are brushed aside as irrelevant. So I’m caught in a trap when pressed for details, when nothing has even been committed to text. I worked out a rough middle ground when faced with this conundrum – I get her to promise not to quibble about any details and/or make judgement until the editing process has begun, otherwise I say nothing. It works, but the superstition is hard to shake. Surely you can understand my reticence?

    I ask you: How have I not seen this film? I must remedy this lack, alas I have already committed my time. Lewis, you are like a massive tease. The film will no doubt be as wrong as Animal House… A fave film of mine, dunno why, it just is. And people are nuts right now, so maybe we can claim that there is cultural and historical relevance to the film? But I have to write soon… It’s almost 9pm! Did your mum, or someone else’s mum, ever tell you that you were a bad influence? 🙂

    Have you tried the couscous? It’s cracked wheat isn’t it? I don’t mind the stuff, although it tastes rather bland. Total score with the raisins.

    I’ll add in a photo of the self seeded rose, which has pink flowers. I’ll have to relocate the plant. Hope you learned something from them? Better get writing… Oh my gawd!



  60. Hi Chris,

    Yes she also authored “Brightsided” though is best known for “Nickled and Dimed”


  61. @Pam

    I read the book some years ago but it’s on my list to reread. Some is pretty technical. The author has a PhD in cellular immunology.


  62. Yo, Chris – Overnight lows are back in the mid-40sF range. But the rain. I noticed this morning, the hydrologic outlook is for flooding, Monday to Wednesday. We’ll see.

    Yup. Barbara Ehrenreich. Gets my vote, all the time.

    Ah! Not the same energy as petroleum. So, works out fine for a great lumbering bus, that doesn’t need to go from 0 to 60 in sixty seconds. With all those rare earth metals, and such, doesn’t sound very sustainable. But someone will make money out of it, in the meantime.

    I’m disappointed that getting your radio to work was a simple as grounding. I was plumping for aliens.

    I’m happy you got to meet with your green wizard mates. Hmmm. Maybe someone needs to establish a tiramisu food truck?

    The name of the Danish company that makes the cheese cultures is Chr. Hansen. I did a shallow dive down the rabbit hole. Interesting company.

    Oh, I really don’t care if you eat Stilton, or not. In fact, I’d rather you didn’t. Means more, for me. 🙂 But the story of Stilton is pretty interesting. And reflects what’s going on in Cheese World, in general. Back in the 1990s, the European Union’s Protected Designation of Origin (PDO), declared that to be called Stilton, of course it had to come from a certain place. And, that it had to be made with pasteurized milk. The Stilton Cheesemakers’ Association, supported this. So, a fellow (an American, no less) enters the picture, and begins to make cheese the old fashioned way, with unpasteurized milk. In England. But he can’t call it Stilton. So, he calls it Stichelton, which is the old English name for the town of Stilton. England’s major cheesemonger is supportive of “farm house cheeses.”

    I’ve heard elk bugling, but that’s about it.

    If Scott can walk 5 miles a day, again, didn’t come up.

    I’m sure there’s some other Roman Britain mystery series, out there, that I probably missed. Bad influence? Do I care? Nope. 🙂 I just throw opportunities out there. It’s up to you to pick and choose. A lot of responsibility, I know, but there you have it.

    As far as keeping your essay under wraps, it’s common, among authors. But, as long as you keep it in house, I see no worries.

    I’ve eaten a lot of wheat bulgar. I suppose I should have kept the couscous and made tabouli out of it. It’s just that there’s so many things to possibly eat. Kind of like books. 🙂

    It will be interesting to see your rose volunteer. I really didn’t talk to the Master Gardener’s about roses. I was on my way to the Club. In fact I teased them and said I didn’t need the seminar, as I was born in the City of Roses, and know all about them. 🙂 . Lots of eye rolling. They had a turnout of 8-10 people. Which given recent events, as pretty good. Lew

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