Detachable face

Last week a whole bunch of scrap materials (including an old car radio), were used to produce a boom box powered by the sun. It’s for the new shed. Not a bad idea, although some of the details were a bit dodgy. Take for instance the car radio itself. One of the two audio channels didn’t work, and the stupid thing had a radio design which was so poorly contrived, that it couldn’t pick up any signals from the national youth broadcaster: Triple J. Basically, the thing could play mp3 audio files through one speaker, but other than that, it was useless.

Sandra saw the despair in my face at the lack of Triple J reception and dodgy sound, and made the friendly suggestion: Why don’t you just get a better car radio? A top idea! Thursday morning we headed out of the hills, stopped off at a few places along the way, but more importantly dropped into a car parts retailer in a nearby township. Who needs to pop some tags when high quality car radio’s are crazy cheap nowadays?

Saw a high quality radio for not much mad cash, bought a high quality car radio for not much mad cash. Installed it later that day. Triple J was being received loud and clear, that was until I did something weird to the antenna. Time was short, and the kitchen at the local pub closes for last orders at 8pm sharp, and so the mystery as to what went wrong with the antenna had to wait for another day.

Being something of an amateur electronics geek from way back in the day I was eventually able to work out what had gone wrong with the antenna. Electronic detective work necessitated dismantling the thing and taking a good look at each of the components. Turns out the antenna wasn’t properly grounded. So I attached it to a large metal shelving unit and Triple J is now being received clear as!

Triple J coming in loud and clear on the new car radio / boom box

The physical design of car radios in that format hasn’t changed much in three decades. As I installed the new car radio, the thought popped into my head: With the high quality unit costing very little mad cash, why did the fascia panel need to be detachable? A removable fascia panel was originally considered a deterrent to theft. There’s no point stealing a car radio without the controls (on the removable fascia) with which to operate the thing. Way back in the day, car radio’s were actually regularly stolen from cars, and then fenced. Being fenced means that the crim would sell your high quality expensive car radio at the pub – possibly not the local pub – or in the classifieds (a weekly printed form of eBay) to someone else for a tidy profit. But when car radios cost very little, and there doesn’t seem to be much of a market for them anyway, why keep up the design of the removable fascia panel with all the additional manufacturing complexity and cost that design would entail?

But mostly, the detachable fascia panel reminded me of a car radio (one of many) that was stolen almost three decades ago.

Time changes us, and way back in those days I had a falling out with a mate who I’d known since primary school. We didn’t fight or anything like that, but maybe the experience of having him in the same share house gave me too much of an insight into the guy. Whatever the case, after moving out of the share house, we drifted apart and things were never really the same again.

We’d kept in touch, but I avoided him, there were other friends I’d prefer to spend time with. Then he asked me if I wanted to hang out with him and his girlfriend. My mate was living at his grandmothers place in return for helping out around the household. I thought to myself that maybe this is a good chance to reconnect and just plain old hang out and talk rubbish for the evening.

I parked the car on the street outside the house. The vibe was a bit weird, but we talked some rubbish, and my mate seemed insistent on watching an episode of an odd cartoon: ‘Powdered Toast Man’. People who know me well, know I rarely sit down to watch television, but I made an exception then due to the friendship issues. The cartoon didn’t appeal, and my mate had the volume way up loud.

The night finished not long after the cartoon ended. I said my goodbyes and may even have mumbled something about doing that again sometime soon. We went back out onto the street, and yeah, someone had ripped off my car radio. And it was an expensive car radio. My mate seemed ever so slightly too interested in my emotional reaction to the loss. A little Devil on my shoulder whispered that he’d set this up, but I didn’t really know. I did know that his brother was a car nut and was at that time restoring a car. Anyway, so whilst I set out to reconnect with my old mate, someone disconnected and thefted off with my expensive car radio.

The visit was not long. And I made a decision then and there that I’d made the right decision in the first place to pull away from that friendship. All those thoughts took place in moments, but seeing my mate look for an emotional response gave me the creeps, and so I gave little away other than an utterance of some appropriate profanity.

Headed out of there, and went to file a police report thinking I could claim the expensive car radio theft on insurance. That was when I learned that some policemen have no sense of humour. During the filing of the report, I humorously remarked that: “Even worse was that they stole my Bob Marley CD”. It sounded funny to me, but Mr no-humour gave me a look and asked: Have you been drinking? We were all business after that. And the insurance didn’t cover the theft of car radio no matter how expensive the thing was. So in some ways, I’m kind of glad that these car radio things have little apparent value nowadays, and I get to listen to Triple J loud and clear.

The earthworks for the greenhouse expansion project continued this week. Another 8 foot long steel rock gabion cage was relocated. The cages and rocks are being moved from the site of the current greenhouse.

It takes about a day of work to relocate a rock gabion cage. The previous weeks cage has to be sewn up with heavy duty wire. A flat site is then prepared for the next empty steel cage, and then the empty cage is place there on a bed of rock crusher dust, and then levelled. An existing full rock gabion cage is cut open (without damaging the cage itself) and the rocks are removed and relocated. At the conclusion of the work, we are left with an empty steel cage to which we’ll do the same thing over again next week.

Rocks are driven down the hill and then placed in the empty rock gabion cage

After a lot of work, the steel cage gets filled with carefully placed rocks. The rocks may look randomly placed, but the reality is otherwise.

A steel rock gabion cage waiting to be sewn up next week

With two rock gabion cages now in place, I spent a few hours installing the ground level storm water drain which runs around the new shed.

A surface level storm water drain was installed at the rear of the new shed

The new shed project has allowed us to de-clutter some of the other sheds. Sandra seems to have taken over the cantina shed, which I have now nicknamed: The Chick Cave. It seems appropriate, to me at least! We had a steel shelving unit which was converted into a work bench using some scrap plywood and timber. It looks good and is super strong.

A shelving unit was converted into a work bench. The thin shelf is for seed drying

Many of the raised garden beds adjacent to the kitchen were given a hard prune. One of the very best summer leafy green plants is perennial rocket, but towards the end of the season it has to be ruthlessly cut back hard where it will then produce another flush of leaves. All other Brassica species of plants are destroyed by cabbage moth larvae – it’s brutal.

Perennial rocket was cut back hard after setting seed

The Globe Artichokes were also cut back hard. The older stems die off and dry, whilst new growth appears at the base of the plant. All of the older stems were put through the 9hp scary old wood chipper. That machine is a beast of a machine, and it chipped up all but one huge base of dried stem that was four inches in diameter and it was so tough that you could have milled floorboards from the thing. The chipped up material was chucked back onto the garden bed soil.

The Globe Artichokes were cut back hard and then chipped up

The corn was a bit weird this year. The plants produced Corn Ear Tassels. I’ve never seen that before:

Corn ear tassels – it’s a thing!

We didn’t plant that much corn this year compared to previous years. Earlier years produced too much corn which soon went starchy tasting. In those earlier years there were more cobs than we could eat or preserve, and so we planted less plants this year.

This week included a few warmer days, and the very first tomatoes have slowly begun to ripen.

These are some of the first slowly ripening tomatoes of the season

Ruby managed to scale a six foot soil embankment so as to clamber into the tomato enclosure. She must have had fun chasing a rat in there, because her fur ended up becoming tinged with a green hue from coming into contact with the tomato plants. Many of the tomato plants were squashed in the process.

Ruby, green rat hunter extraordinaire

The other day we spotted a kangaroo enjoying the plants in the paddock below where the new gabions were installed.

A kangaroo enjoys the plants in the paddock near to the new shed

It’s been a cold summer which hasn’t suited the tomatoes, but the beans have loved the conditions: We’ve been experimenting with bean salad, and have settled on a fermented bean salad. It’s very good.

Beans a-plenty

Despite the dry conditions of the past few weeks, Kale seedlings are springing up all over the place.

Kale seedlings are springing up all over the place

And I needn’t have worried about the zucchini. The plants really are related to Triffid’s – turn your back on them for a moment and they’ll produce monster fruit.

Zucchini – ever reliable this happened in under a week

And adjacent to the terraces that contain the many varieties of rose plants, a self seeded rose has grown. I’ve never seen that happen before. It’s a pink flowering form, and I may have to relocate it.

This Rose was produced from chance seed

Onto the flowers:

Towards the end of the summer when most plants are done, Salvia’s shine
We grow a lot of different Salvia plants. They’re all good plants
This is a very bright and cheery Geranium
A flowering Eucalyptus is enjoying the conditions

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 104.0mm (4.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 103.0mm (4.0 inches)

53 thoughts on “Detachable face”

  1. Yo, Chris – One wonders how you’ll recycle the dodgy old radio :-). Worm farm? Triple J or coffee. Pick one. 🙂 But I must say, the end result of your radio adventure is a very handsome unit.

    It was nice of you to explain to your younger readers, that the classifieds were a weekly printed form of e-Bay. It’s always amusing to stumble across something, that the younger folks have no clue about. I think my all time favorite was the young lady who thought the Great Depression had something to do with mental health. Well, not on the surface.

    I’d say your suspicions were correct as to who stole your radio. But there’s always a bit of lingering doubt. Enough so that beating them senseless seems an over reaction. Yes. One quickly discovers who has a sense of humor, and who doesn’t. As I discovered with our Institutional building manager. Total incomprehension. It’s amazing what insurance doesn’t pay for, if you read the fine print. My credit union keeps sending me an offer of some life insurance. Free, to $2,000, but you can pay a bit and get more coverage. But I read the fine print, and really can’t conceive of any turn of events, that would lead to a pay out.

    I’m sorry you have to move all those gabion cages, but it’s really worth the effort. Sure they hold back dirt. But they’re also soooo pretty.

    The shelving unit to work bench is a bit of presto-chango. Back when I had a bookstore, I made a bit of shelving out of these …

    Shelf links, 2×4 basics. They worked out really well, but you had to make sure your 2×4 lumber was straight.

    You may be onto something with turning the artichokes into floor boards. Or maybe paper?

    The corn ear tassels are an oddity. Convenient for the birds. Whew! Finally a bit of red in the tomato patch. Go, tomatoes!!! I wonder if the kangaroo has a joey, in her pouch. Keep an eye on her.

    Green beans are such a dependable crop. At least (knock on wood) I’ve never had a failure. Even through our heat, last year. You could stun someone with one of those zucchini. Hmmm? Zucchini cannon?

    The little volunteer rose is really pretty. Wonder who it’s parents were? I don’t think rose seeds are that easy to start. It must have been a combination of exactly the right weather and soil.

    Possible flooding, in our forecast, again. Prof. Mass had a post about it. Still to early to know which rivers, and how high. We’re supposed to get 4-7″ of rain, over the next couple of days. And there will be a lot of snow melt. Time will tell. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Some things it would be best if they were never made, and so the old radio has begun its journey to oblivion, and beyond. Nobody wants to go to such a place, and fortunately I send only a few such things in that direction, but there the cursed thing is doomed to go.

    The new radio on the other hand is at the other end of the quality spectrum, and the joke is that there was not much difference in cost between the two radios. I’m mildly troubled by what that hints at, and the replacement was a clearance item. I find it to be mildly disturbing that there is a need to produce new models with the passing years. I have this horrid idea that phone technology (just for one example) has jumped the shark in terms of innovative features. I think we can thank the Fonz for such a useful term. We didn’t get too much in the way of US culture when I was a kid, but I do recall enjoying the series Happy Days, but my favourite was Mash. The emotional depth the stories delved into was pretty good for the likes of TV.

    You mentioned steam punk with the new boom box, and that resonated with me. The end product looks pretty cool, thanks for saying that. What surprised me was how little energy the unit uses, and a clever person could add in a small solar panel, a lithium battery and a charge controller, and the device would probably sell fairly well. I’d had the idea for the boom box at the back of my mind for a few years now, and so it’s nice to see the project come to fruition.

    I have a hunch that if the economy hits the skids this year, the cool kids might embrace such hand made responses. They’re fun to put together and also fun to use. Plus you can doof the neighbourhood on a tight budget. 🙂

    Hehe! Glad you noticed by explanation to the younger readers in the audience. Mate, those were the days. 😉 The classified advertisements were usually paid for based on word count, and so you’d have to second and third guess whether the seller was using enough appropriate words and whether it was worth your time to head out and look at the thing for sale that the text was describing. I must add that such challenges honed peoples reading comprehension skills. It does not surprise me that the free short video platform bigbrothertok has become so successful. It’s not a good endorsement for our educational system, but then English lessons at High School bored the daylights out of me – thus also producing my lowest subject mark at graduation. Hmm.

    The Editor and I were chuckling over your experience with the clueless young history student who presumed to know too much about the Great Depression. That’s hysterical, but also perhaps not so great an educational outcome. Oh history, you poor thing, have we not transmogrified past thee? 😉

    Well I have to give the benefit of the doubt in that instance, but on the other hand I was only there for a bit over half an hour that evening so it was a precision strike which suggested to me a potential lack of randomness to the patterns. I had that radio bolted in to the chassis of the cars dashboard, so it was not an easy take down. But you know, as I previously mentioned, I do have to give the benefit of the doubt and all I had to go on was the whisper into my ear as to what actually went on that fateful evening. And that ain’t facts last time I checked.

    One of the things which amuses me about the rare person who messes around with me every now and then is that I trained for five or six years with one of the greatest martial artists that this country has ever produced. It was sheer chance and naive chutzpah that I waltzed into that Dojo and jumped the waiting queue for a place there. And even as an old fella, I’ve still got some stamina and flexibility, so I suspect that such folks rely upon the usual niceties of the social arrangements. That’s fine, as long as those niceties can be upheld. And that training way back in the day taught me that physical responses are to be avoided, but I’m really not sure that most other people have gotten that memo. A lot of people don’t appear to be able to weigh up risk properly.

    Your former manager sounds like a bit of a nightmare from the hints your provided over the years, but then at least such a person has to cast too wide a net, unlike remember Evil Step Son?

    There is some pretty serious flooding up on the east coast of this continent. Epic actually, and we discussed flood insurance at the last time that happened, and it’s happening again. You can purchase flood insurance, but it’s expensive and probably out of reach of the average householder. So yeah, it’s amazing what isn’t included in insurance policies, and also to whom the payout goes in the event of an insurable incident. It might not always be where you’d imagine it would go.

    No stress about the big relocation of infrastructure. There’s no waste other than the tiny amount of fossil fuels required and our sweat equity. And we’ll get a much bigger greenhouse – it’s kind of needed. 🙂 And there is a symmetry to the rock gabion cages which just looks cool.

    I’ve never seen anything like those storage shelves in the link you provided. It’s a clever system and for heavy loads would – as you hint at – work better with hardwood. Timber is a lovely product, but part of the magic of carpentry is making the most from lumber that is rarely straight or of the same dimensions. That stuff shrinks. We laid the hardwood floors in the house during the wettest year in recorded history here, and despite six months of seasoning, the floorboards still shrunk. It gives the internals of the house an aged look.

    Actually the birds haven’t tried to consume the corn ear tassels. At the moment the birds are very excited about the huge quantities of elderberries – which I grow and leave for them.

    Mate, I’ve never produced such a great crop of beans before, and so your words are super encouraging. Serious people suggest that the plants should be planted so that they grow during the winter months, but it is too cold here for such things. Now I ignore such advice and get a crop of beans. Do you grow a few different varieties or do you have a favourite?

    Thanks for confirming my suspicions about the self seeded rose – I’ve never seen such a thing before, and have no idea why that particular spot suited the seed. A mystery which I may have to look into at a later time. It isn’t the colour or size of a wild rose – and that in itself is interesting.

    The heavy rainfall does not surprise me – you may recall a volcanic eruption a few months ago now? Don’t cross flooded roadways, and you’ll probably be fine – maybe! 🙂 Why do people do that? It’s bonkers. I see the good Professor has an essay on the rainfall event. Fingers crossed that DJ and Al get some solid rainfall in their part of the state.

    Thank you for the confirmation in relation to the author Barbara Ehrenreich. I must remedy this lack, but where to start? Can you provide a book recommendation?

    The planet is a miser when it comes to rare Earth metals – thus why they are rare. 🙂 There aren’t that many mines for the stuff and the big one is in a land of stuff client state. Of course one is being developed in the dry north west of this continent, but the processing of such ores is no small thing. It’s one of those things that sound good in theory, and could probably be done quite well on a small scale.

    I did not say that aliens were not involved in the antenna repair. Some secrets have to stay here and not be splashed about the interweb.

    Wow. I checked out the culture makers website. The thing is, you can make those sorts of products using very little and who knows, the local biota might be a revelation. With the yoghurt making process, I keep it super simple and reproducible at the scale here. The problem I had was not the back slopping process, it was the introduction of the tiny amount of top up bacteria. I don’t even know if I have to keep that up, I just do it out of habit more than anything else. But more importantly, years ago there was a coup in this household where I took over the yoghurt making duties.

    Hehe! More Stilton for you, yes! Those Europeans have had some fun protecting their products over the past few years. Does it make a difference, I don’t know, but even the champagne yeast we used to purchase is now labelled as sparkling white yeast. Like it makes a difference to the outcome. Such protectionism discourages creativity, but probably is good for profits. One of the most notable cheese enthusiasts in England was formerly a member of a very successful rock band: Blur. They had some massive hits. Alex James is the bloke and he’s into cheese in a big way. He might be the big cheese in that country? Who knows?

    We’re cool, I not so secretly enjoy the curated reading homework delivered by the lovely people who comment here. And it works both ways, you after all delved into Rummage recently.

    Thanks for the info on my superstitions regarding the essay writing process. I get uncomfortable talking about the essay in advance, because sometimes the things write themselves – and who wants to hear that? And of course I have no desire to argue with anyone about what may be penned. What a carry on that would be.

    Yes, life is short and there are so many good foods to explore and even better books to read. That’s tragic, but then it also reminds us to make the best of the time that we do have available to us.

    Oh such hubris with the master gardeners. I’m in awe but also hope they do not do anything sneaky with some of your plots.



  3. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for the book recommendation. That’s definitely what I’d describe as a vote for Nickled and Dimed. 🙂

    Had a small handful of ripe tomatoes today, mostly yellow short season varieties, but one must not grumble about such tasty gifts. Well, maybe a little bit of grumbling is in order!



  4. Hello Chris
    I had never heard of tassled corn before, it sounds really weird. Haven’t heard from younger daughter in the north of NSW so don’t know how she is faring in the wet.

    @ Margaret
    Thanks for the book recommendation. I had never heard of Barbara Ehrenreich but bought the book while out shopping this morning and am already reading it.

  5. Yo, Chris – “Happy Days” and “Mash” are in pretty constant re-runs, here. They’re at different times, then when I go to Elinor’s. She complains about the constant re-runs. The old “300 channels and nothing to watch.” Of course, our tastes are different and there’s things I’d watch, that she won’t. And, it’s her TV. Sci-fi is off the table. But, if there’s a good documentary on the “educational” channels, she’s interested. Last night we were reduced to watching “Golden Girls.” She’s up for the English mysteries, but usually I have to explain who is doing what to who, and what the relationship is, between the different people.

    “Innovative features.” They” can’t seem to settle on a set of good, solid features. Can’t make money, with that. I certainly see it in the library catalog. I seem to have lost the ability to search for new stuff, that will be in the catalog, before it turns up on the new list. 🙁 . And where one is in the queue. Or if there is a long queue. Which sometimes is the deal breaker, as to if I put something on hold, or not. Not even the library staff can access that information. I think a large chunk of ordering, has been outsourced. Maybe.

    Oh, there are solar radios, out there. And usually they also have a hand crank. Which is the weak point. They break.

    Well, it certainly has been raining, here. Can’t say how much, as, the rain gage at the local weather station seems to be down (again.) But according to the radio, we’ve had 2-4″. With another 2″ due, tonight. It’s early, yet, but it doesn’t seem like it will be quit as bad as last time. Maybe. Minor flooding. So, why do people drive into flood waters? Part of it is, I think, good old American “You can’t tell me what to do.” And, whatever errand I’m on is soooo important that it supersedes preservation of life. The radio is constantly telling people not to drive into water as 1.) you don’t know how deep it is and 2.) there might not be any road left, under that water.

    I grow Kentucky Wonder, green beans. The seed is very easy to save. In fact, I shucked out some seed, just the other day. And usually I mix last year, and the year before’s seed.

    Gee, which Ehrenreich books to read. “Nickel and Dimed” is very good. Read that, and you’ll know why employers are having such a hard time filling jobs. And why people are looking for something better. The one Margaret mentioned, “Natural Causes”, is very good. I read it when it came out. “Bright Sided”, “Bait and Switch” and “Fear of Falling.” It just depends on what approach to our (naughty word here) society, you want to read about. She’s an engaging and thoughtful writer.

    I’m winding down “Eating to Extinction.” The author really makes the point that many foods are dependent on site specific bacteria. I forget if it was beer or cheese, but one type depends on hanging old leather outside, and scrapping off the resultant mold. There was a chapter on perry. Which is like a cider, but made out of pears. But it’s a lot fussier to make, than cider.

    He also talked a bit about the establishment of the “cold chain.” A refrigerated supply line, to get stuff from the source, to us. Probably just a fragile (if not more so) than the garden variety supply lines.

    And, he talks a lot about landrace. Funny he doesn’t mention “terroir”, but that might be a harder concept to grasp, than landrace. And is there a difference?

    They cleaned out Dick’s (get the inflection right) kitchen, yesterday, and there was a huge box of tinned food. I picked up another two bags for the pantry, at the Club. And there was still plenty of good stuff to leave for the ladies. Someone slipped me $25, yesterday. I may splurge a little bit. There are some things, even carp quality, that are a bit pricey, to my thrifty mind. Peanut butter, jam, mayo. When I can find them at a price I can stomach, they disappear, fast. Catsup and mustard. Think I’ll hit a couple of stores, tonight. If the roads aren’t flooded.

    I’m wallowing in “Doctor Who” season 13. Such great fun. Lew

  6. Hello Chris,
    Just wanted to share my recognition of your constructive path to a better world. Your weekly updates are a beacon of sanity in an otherwise disturbing world.

    This week I have cried for my friends in Russia and Ukraine, who have been pushed into a meaningless war based on a religious delusion by a small group of aging men who have no retirement plan.

    I am sure that there are better ways of using the last oil and ammonium nitrate, than driving tanks and bombing homes.

    One tragic fragment of the delusional perpective was exposed this weekend, when RIA Novosti mistakenly(?) published an article extolling the Russian Victory and Unification of the Complete Country. It was captured by
    (If you don’t read Russian, you can ask chrome or to translate all of it.)

    Here is the beginning: “A new world is being born before our eyes. The Russian military operation in Ukraine has opened a new era – and in three dimensions at once. And, of course, in the fourth, internal Russian dimension. Here begins a new period in both the ideology and the very model of our socio-economic system – but we shall talk about this separately later.
    Russia is restoring its unity – the tragedy of 1991, this terrible catastrophe of our history, its unnatural dislocation, has been overcome. Yes, at great cost, yes, through the tragic events of the actual civil war, because now there are still brothers shooting at each other, separated by belonging to the Russian and Ukrainian armies – but Ukraine as the anti-Russia will no longer exist. Russia is restoring its historical wholeness by gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together – in its totality of Velikorosses, Belarusians and Little Russians. If we were to abandon this, if we were to allow the temporary division to take hold for centuries, we would not only betray the memory of our ancestors, but we would be damned by our descendants – for having allowed the Russian land to fall apart.”

    I am so sad that we men so often use violence – and that aggressors so often get away with it. Like Russia in Georgia in 2008, or USA and NL in Iraq in 2003, or France and Sweden and Nato in Libya 2011…

    Thanks for the picture of a green sea of beans. That gives hope.


  7. Chris,

    Things got rather hectic midweek. After we got through that, we took 2 down days just to be family. The entire household enjoyed that.

    I met my friend and Killian the Doberman at the park on Saturday. It was a glorious day, warm and sunny. (Yes, the arctic temperatures are behind us now. We bottomed out at -17C!) We hooked Avalanche up to a 50 foot lead and let her and Killian play, run, wrestle, whatever. Fun stuff.

    It’s noonish on Monday. It has been raining for 18 hours. So far, we’ve had maybe 18mm or so. It’s supposed to end overnight, then another wave to hit Wednesday. Flood warnings in effect for most of the state. Alas, it appears that Al’s area is receiving but a trickle, at least according to our local news. Hopefully the next wave will do a bit more. Avalanche is enjoying an indoor day.

    Your radio project, version 2, looks very good. Glad you got the new radio and sorted out the antenna issue. A properly grounded antenna is very important. An alternate universe Miagi would say: “Grounding antenna very important. Don’t forget to ground.”

    Old mates…Over the past 3 decades, meeting up with mates I either grew up with or else knew at the “weird church” has never gone well. I tend to think that there’s a reason people drift apart sometimes, although the reason isn’t obvious at the time. Your mate’s “expectations” of your response seem eerie to me. Strange experience you had there.

    What? You can’t just set up the gabion cage and randomly dump in rocks?!? Seriously, placing rocks in the cages is an art form, a craft. It’s a real-time exercise in practical 3-D geometry, isn’t it? Getting one cage moved and refilled in a single day is impressive.

    That drainage system is looking good. Hope it works as advertised.

    Chick Cave? Bwahahaha! I blew a mouthful of tea all over Avalanche when I read that. She had the misfortune of walking by at precisely the wrong moment. She got rinsed off outdoors via the atmospheric river.

    Cool! I’ve not seen flowering eucalyptus before! Thanks.


  8. Hi Inge,

    I’d never heard of nor seen tassled corn either, and I agree it was very weird. Strangely, the parrots have not attempted to consume the corn kernels. Despite the cooler summer and dry of the past four weeks, the corn is very sweet this year. I stopped watering the vegetables weeks ago in order to ensure that the soil stayed warmer – watering the soil with cold water cools the plants root systems and further slows plant growth.

    That storm from up north is finally being felt here, and almost half an inch of rain has fallen already today, with Saturday predicted to have the heaviest falls – but the rain down south here is nothing like what is going on in the two states to the north. Holy carp!

    Not too far north of your daughters locale looks like this: Flood rescues in northern NSW resume as rain expected to move south, Ballina on flood alert. Her town is probably going to be fine as I have not read any news from there, and in this case no news is probably also good news. It’s a big storm, and the recent Tongan volcano certainly has dumped a lot of particulate matter into the atmosphere.



  9. Hi DJ,

    Time out is always good for the mind and soul, and glad to hear that you caught up with the family.

    Aren’t dogs fun? Hey, did Killian and Avalanche manage to tangle up the 50ft leads? I reckon they might have enjoyed doing that trick.

    18mm of rain is awesome for you at this time of year, and I assume that your ground is no longer frozen and so the rain is soaking in to the soil? It’s good timing for the rain and if you get a bit of warmth now the plants will spring into life.

    It’s really humid here right now but despite being at only 17’C, it feels far warmer than that. Half an inch of rain has already fallen today, and it looks like another two inches will fall this coming weekend. Right now it is sort of a strong sun glare through the thick clouds and raining. Bonkers weather.

    Fingers crossed that Al gets some of the rain. He’s in a dry part of the world. I’d imagine that things are pretty damp over west of the ranges? The flooding up in the north of this country along the coast is no joke. Drought is bad, but heavy rain is far worse.

    Hehe! Yeah, not grounding the antenna was a rookie mistake, however you may note that I rushed that bit of the job due to the imminent closure of the local pubs kitchen at 8pm sharp. So by my reckoning, getting the antenna fixed (two days later) and enjoying a pub meal and a pint that night makes up for the rookie error! 🙂 I do wonder sometimes about how much basic knowledge of stuff has become lost over the years? It’s not like I could bring in an ‘expert’ to sort out what went wrong with the reception. We’re often cast onto our own resources due to where we live – but I rather enjoy that challenge. Respect to Mr Miyagi! May such people bring equal parts irritation, followed by knowledge to folks who need such things. 😉

    Yeah, I hear you about old mates and that situation. Makes sense too, you’ve moved to other things and other ways of seeing the world. You know I couldn’t be entirely sure that was going on, but it kind of appeared to be like that.

    I write these stories so that it’s like – these are some of the people I’ve met and here is what I’m guessing was going on, and then what happened next. When I was a kid, and you might be able to relate to this given your experience with the ‘weird church’ business, but adults often told me that things were one way, when their actions suggested something else altogether. I was kind of lucky that the adults didn’t really give me a whole bunch of attention because I could compare what they were saying with their actions and then make up my own mind. I usually kept my own counsel too because calling out their err, lies, tended to produce a very emotionally charged response, so a yeah, whatever response combined with blank face was an easier path.

    But neither did they take the time to talk to me and say that here are some of the people and situations you might encounter, and you’re going to want to have to think about what to do when you do encounter them. And this week the story involved someone who I’m guessing fed off negative emotional states – and further to that it is possible that the person also set up such situations so that they could probably bask in the energy from that. Now, it’s all guesswork on my part, but that’s kind of what it looked like. And you can see how I navigated that situation and the consequences. That’s the core of the story really.

    Hehe! Technically I could just dump rocks into the gabion cage. Would it look as good? Maybe, but then maybe not! The rocks at the front and visible sides are carefully placed, whilst the less visible rocks are dumped in. Some people use smaller rocks around here for their rock gabion cages, but I don’t believe the visual effect is as good.

    Just checked out the drainage system during the rain and despite the half an inch of rain, there’s barely any water in there. The past four to six weeks have been relatively dry so most of the rain soaked into the ground. The sun is now shining, and it is 99% humidity outside…

    On the other hand the water tanks connected up to the shed are rapidly filling up. Better roll the other tanks down to there soon.

    Hehe! I was astounded that name slipped past the Editors attention. There may have been a withering look, but I was undaunted by such things – and only mildly nervous there’d be consequences… 🙂 Go Avalanche, and beware tea spitting incidents my fine furry friend!

    That’s a flowering gum and ordinarily they struggle in the clay soils here. They originate from Damo’s corner of the continent where sandy soils prevail. Hopefully more flowers are produced over the next week or two. The bees love those trees and flowers. All of the tall trees of the forest flower here at times and very occasionally the air smells of honey.



  10. Hi Goran,

    Good to hear from you, and thanks very much for saying that. I try not to worry too much about the state of the world, but rather focus on the ‘what now’ question, and you can see my responses to that here. Worry is a worthwhile activity, but before worry, chop firewood, fetch water, after worry, chop firewood, fetch water. 😉

    Far out dude! Brent Crude just hit US$100 barrel and WTI ain’t far behind.

    One positive note about peak oil is that most armed forces are heavily reliant on fossil fuels, so err, those sorts of activities will most certainly be in decline.

    I have to apologise here, but down under we are so far removed from European politics that it really has very little to do with our own national interests. I tend to view these situations from an historical but also the far larger ecological lens. If I may be blunt, and all other arguments to the side, Western Europe is in some serious trouble on an energy and resource front. That’s what $100 a barrel Brent Crude tells me. If there was heaps of the stuff, it wouldn’t cost that much. And oil underlies everything that we do. Sure the war is bad, and there may be valid grievances going back years and years, but mate, there’s other trouble coming.

    And there’s always hope to be found in a garden. Being able to produce something is a practical skill that few people can lay claim to. It’s not a bad idea to spend less time watching the news, and more time working upon the ‘what now’ question.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Had a massive sourcing day today, which was handy as some things needed replacing. We’d been dithering and dathering about replacing the main kitchen knife used in food preparation. Now if you can explain to me how a chef’s knife of a good brand made from a solid ingot of Japanese stainless steel costs only $45, cause mate, I can’t explain that. It’s a beautifully made chunk of kitchenware. Makes no sense to me, but then plenty of things don’t.

    Had lots of interesting experiences about the land today. For some weird and inexplicable reason, people working in hospitality (cafes and restaurants) and also retail have to wear masks all day long, but the public doesn’t have to. That’s another thing that makes no sense to me, it seems like a politically motivated decision as distinct from anything based on science. I’m not a fan and feel very uncomfortable about this situation (and had an honest conversation with someone about that today on the other end of the arrangement) because it is creating an: ‘us and them’, mentality. That won’t end well, and I always recall the Onion Soup scene in Fight Club. It all comes back to Fight Club, you know. 😉

    300 channels and nothing to watch indeed! I forgot to mention with the now deceased and gone to car radio heaven older radio, the only radio station it would pick up clearly was some sort of community radio station that was playing music from the 1950’s and earlier. I’d descended into hell, but then you might say the same thing if confronted by my taste in music. 🙂 It’s true!

    English mystery series with a side serving of soap. The explanation as to all of the relationships and connections was probably a good idea. Good to hear that you’re enjoying Doctor Who. I grew up watching that show, as an episode used to be on most week nights. It’s had an incredibly long run. Tom Baker was my favourite Doctor Who. I have not watched any of the recent incarnation of the show, but given it began in 1963, the creators must have gotten something just right.

    It’s all rather disturbing how frequently your library catalogue systems changes. You wouldn’t imagine library systems would actually need to change much, but then a lot of things are like that. Nobody enters the world of libraries because they want excitement. Of course, there would always be a few adventurous souls who do so, but I’d imagine working with books has an appeal, which say working with children doesn’t. The change to the system is probably all something to do with progress, but I don’t see the need for all that change.

    Yes, of course the hand cranked dynamo. My digital multi-meter has a battery (which I’d have to crack open the device in order to replace, as the battery has long been defective) but also neatly has a hand cranked generator. It’s worked for many long years and proven to be a good choice of power for the unit. Hasn’t let me down yet, but might one day. Always exciting.

    That’s good news about the rain in your part of the world not leading to flooding. Things are pretty dire up north of the continent along the coastline. Yikes! One part of the coastline received more rain in a couple of days than I’d see in the highest rainfall year on record. Very damp indeed: How unusual is all this rain we’re having? The answer? Very. 1000mm = 3 foot and 3 inches of rain. I did mention that the Tongan volcano ash cloud was going to produce some strange and possibly very wet weather.

    Did you know that it hardly takes much water at all to float a car away. It’s a surprisingly very small amount of water.

    I take my hat off to your beans, I thought that the ones here were prolific, but that ain’t nothing compared to Kentucky Wonder green beans. Holy carp the rain is pounding on the roof hard. I better go check the drains to ensure they’re not clogged up with gunk. A brief but very heavy rainfall. This weekend will be interesting weather wise. Not sure that I’m comfortable about interesting times.

    Two votes for Nickel and Dimed just about sorts out the voting tabulation.

    Oh yeah, absolutely site specific bacteria is necessary, and let’s not also forget soil minerals, climate, water availability, and soil structure. There is so much that has to be gotten approximately right for plants that it somehow amazes me that as a species we grow as much as we do. However, did the author cover the issue of a lack of diversity in our seed stocks? Concentration of ownership in that area is a bit of a wee problem I reckon. Landrace varieties are really how things used to be done before the concentration of seed production got to where it is today. And if you’re careful enough, you can breed landrace varieties out of the current batch, you just have to experiment a bit. There’s books on that subject, which I should obtain and read. The slacker side of my gardening efforts with plant breeding does inadvertently work towards that goal anyway: What me worry? 🙂

    And oh yeah, terroir is a thing, and same plants grown here will produce different outcomes elsewhere. So much depends, and the history of land use in an area can also effect this. It’s complicated, but I aiming for ‘good enough’ as distinct from ‘perfect’. Perfection is over rated!

    To be honest I don’t believe that there is as much difference between the two concepts as you’d imagine. Landrace refers to the plant variety which has become locally adapted to local conditions. Terroir, differs from this slightly in that if for example you took that landrace plant to a new location – even not that far from the original point of breeding – it would refer to the characteristics of the end product, which may or may not be superior. At least that is how I believe the words are applied. The French word has elements of ‘character’ but this might also mean some sort of description derived from people sensitive enough to discern it. It is possible that deep down I’m a peasant! 🙂 Where is the tiramisu, that’s my question for the day?

    I’m a bit lost and may have inadvertently forgotten, but why was Dick’s kitchen being cleaned out? Did you score any bargains? And stay off flooded roads and bridges – always a dicey proposition! 😉



  12. Hello Chris
    I appreciate the fact that you don’t want your blog cluttered up with the anxieties of the Northern hemisphere but you might like the following.
    The only person that I know who was in the Ukraine has finally managed to make it back to the Island with his Ukranian wife and a baby. I assume that he has had to abandon his business there. Anyhow: he stated on television that when he was growing up, he thought that the Isle of Wight was the most boring place on earth. I thought ‘oh how one lives and learns’.


  13. Yo, Chris – Change of schedule. So, I’ll have to answer in detail, later. But reading over your shoulder …

    We have a pretty large Ukrainian community, in this county. Most of them were religious refugees. We have one very elderly lady in the building, Titiania. She speaks little English, but I always say hello to her, and get a cheery wave back. There’s a Ukrainian pastor, really nice guy that I’ve talked to when out in the garden, and he’s coming and going. He and his family seem to look after Titiana, And, she has a care-giver who speaks Ukrainian.

    One always hears about … “We hadn’t seen each other in seven yers, and it was like we were never apart.” I think looking up old friends, one hopes for that. But I think it is rare. Or, wishful thinking.

    Another thing we’ve not seen in the food boxes for a long time, is honey. We used to get a good organic honey, pretty regularly.

    I saw an interesting article, on inflation.

    $10 for a tube of toothpaste? I better stock up! 🙂

    Off to the Club. Will get back to you, when I return. Lew

  14. Yo, Chris – Back! Things got a bit wonky, this morning. Elinor had a dentist, or eye doctor (’cause I can’t spell optometrist … oh, I can!) appointment. I should have known I’d be asked to watch H. I had intended to head down to the Club, with my load, but that would have to be put off until she got back. I had H for about a half an hour, when her caregiver came to tell me she had canceled the appointment, and I didn’t need to watch H. So, I beat it down to the Club.

    Yesterday, Elinor had another anxiety attack, called her daughter, and then they called the EMTs (ambulance). They carry a portable heart monitor, so, she wanted to see if it was an anxiety attack, or a heart attack. Heart was fine. Which removed a lot of the anxiety. Not on my watch, so I missed all that. Tomorrow, I may (or may not) be taking Elinor to her doctor. Hopefully, to get meds to avoid anxiety attacks. I’m tempted to slip her a very special brownie, or biscuit. That would mellow her out. 🙂

    The next batch of knives they order in will be double the price.

    LOL. The 1950s music was my music. Though, really, more the 1960s. But, there were some pretty good tunes in the 1940s and 1950s. Although there were those embarrassing incidents where my parents would trot me out, in my short pants, to entertain visitors with a rendition of “How Much is That Doggie, in the Window.” 🙂 .

    The English mysteries, are changing a bit. Used to be, if there was a body on the floor, you got a quick glance. Maybe a leg. Probably following America’s lead, they now linger on the gruesome details and pools of blood. I never cared for the original Doctor Who’s. So low budget and hooky. I mean really. An alien who’s blaster is a toilet plunger? See: Daleks. But from the re-boot, I became an avid fan. And, all the spin offs.

    Periodically (usually about 2 years), whoever the library bought the catalog from, no longer supports the software. Then the hunt is on for a different catalog. Not necessarily from the same company. The library system used to have a pretty extensive IT department. Lovely and helpful people. And they could tweek the catalog, a bit, to get it to do what they wanted. But I have the feeling that that department may have been gutted, and a lot of things outsourced.

    The pictures of the Australian flooding look very familiar. We seem to have dodged the bullet, and the flooding here is minor. Unless it happens to be your property, that’s flooding. But I noticed last night that the rain was less, with breaks in between. Looking at the radar, the atmospheric river had broken up into bands. Interesting article. “…rain, which has many contributing factors.” I notice they mention warming oceans (which, as you know, causes more moisture to be taken up by the atmosphere) and La Nina. So why not toss Tonga, in there? Dare I say, a perfect storm? What I’ve also noticed (as have others) is that these heavy storms sometimes (more than in the past?) stall, instead of moving through with dispatch.

    The thing to remember with “Nickel and Dimed” is that the situations she embeds herself in, the jobs, well, I’d say a good chunk of jobs (50%?) are like that. Probably more so, now, than when the book was written.

    Well, that’s kind of the point of the book, “Eating to Extinction.” The lose of diversity, not only in plant stocks, but everything else from animals to cheese. Last night, I was reading about tea and coffee. Somewhere in there, he threw in the word “terroir.” But the author seems to prefer “landrace.” They are, I suppose, slightly different. Same, same, different. Terroir sounds a bit hoity toity. Landrace is easier to grasp, for peasant farmers, such as us. 🙂

    Dick’s been sliding downhill, for about the last year. Cancer, etc.. As I avoid his caregiver / girlfriend and him, as much as possible, I don’t know any of the details. Just a few odds and ends. But last week, I heard her say that Dick was going to the hospital, and wasn’t coming back. And, she and his daughter started cleaning out his apartment. So, on Sunday, an enormous box of tinned stuff, appeared in the lobby.

    I’m having a bit of a … moral (?) conundrum (?). I don’t quit know how to feel about Dick’s shuffling off his mortal coil. Can’t say it makes me feel happy. But then, it doesn’t quit make me sad, either. Maybe it’s that I’m not sorry to see him gone, but the way it’s coming about isn’t very pleasant. If he’d moved to Idaho, or something, I would have helped him pack the car.

    Dare I say it was (another) perfect storm? Between the food box on Friday, the clean-out and a trip I made to the dollar store last night, I hauled 6 bags of food into the Club, for the pantry. Looks pretty flush. That will last a week or so.

    On the way back from the Club, I stopped at one of the local feed and seed stores. I picked up some Amaranth and Quinoa seed. Because, why not? 🙂 . I also picked up a couple of tomato seeds. Sweet One Hundreds and Mortgage Lifter. Because Elinor had her head set on those plants, last year. And didn’t move fast enough to get starts. And even though she had a couple of good varieties gifted by the Master Gardeners, she moaned all season about the one’s she wanted. I hope I can get them started. Lew

  15. Chris,

    Ah, no tangled leads. Killian is *mostly* well behaved off the leash, so he doesn’t need a long lead. If he were on a long lead, I could see those two entangling the leads just because. And thinking it was fun.

    So, we got 20mm finally. More on the way Thursday, maybe some trickles Wednesday also. And it is almost HOT. 15C today. Remember, it was but 5 days ago that it was -16C. Today was the warmest day of the year so far. Oh, some of the ground is thawed, sort of, some still has ice on it, mainly the shaded areas that never get sunlight.

    I daresay that it IS spring here now. (Feverishly looking around to see if there’s snow falling to prove me wrong.) It’s the birds. Several varieties that show up only for spring have gotten here, and they’re letting us all know all about it with their singing. It was a pleasant morning, sitting outside, enjoying my coffee, and listening to the spring songbirds.

    Rain is good. Heavy rain on drought-parched, sunbaked hard pan dirt spells massive flooding.

    Ya know, having a good pub feed is much more important than immediately getting the antenna grounded. Good beer, proper food, or miss out on that to get the grounding just right? No contest. Food first!

    There ARE people who DO thrive on others’ emotional responses to stress. Some people call them psychic vampires. Your response was the exact proper one. By knowing yourself, sensing the real situation, then not giving any highly emotional reaction is the best way of dealing with that type of person. And the best way of just plain dealing with the stolen car radio anyway.

    Seems to me that you’d want bigger rocks on the perimeter of the gabion anyhow, lest they slither out. Smaller ones can go into the center. And, as you said, the large rocks look gooood.

    Oh good, more rolling barrels. Sounds like a lot of fun!
    Are you going to have the Editor roll them downhill so you can stand at the bottom and catch them this time? 😉


  16. Hi Inge,

    It seems only sensible given how high emotions are running right now. I’m of the opinion that there are those who like to stoke the emotional fires, and there seems little need to feed, or even entertain, those beasts. I have zero tolerance for such things, and won’t encourage them. It is after all hard to maintain a civil discourse when people are foaming at the mouth like zombies seeking a decent feed of brains. What is going on, is the both the present and the future, and our species could have walked a step or perhaps better a hundred steps back from that precipice, but no we chose otherwise. So here we are today, and I appreciate, encourage and respect civility.

    The person that you know was lucky to have acted upon the earliest advice. You know, I live in an area which is very susceptible to epic scaled bushfires. Before the truly awful 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, the Editor and I were part of the local volunteer brigade, and the warnings were clear to see and reported upon in the media for that day, and also leading up to that day. However, in the aftermath people suggested that there were in fact no warnings. What I deduced from those incorrect suggestions was that many people ignored the warnings, just because.

    And a few weeks ago I put a few brain cells towards that distant
    rambunctious part of the world and my brain suggested: Get out, now. And yet people didn’t respond.

    I have read deeply into the history of how my own personal risk in relation to bushfires works and have taken steps to reduce the risk despite the offence that other people may take from those actions, and continue to do so. Geopolitically this same response would have been appropriate, but few wanted to give ground. So here we are today, and that’s life.

    But I am more importantly uninterested in excuses and blame.

    Hope that your weather has stabilised and perhaps is slightly warmer and less windy? A powerful storm looks set to hit here on Saturday. Have you heard from your daughter? Things are crazy up in that part of this country.



  17. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I have trouble just keeping electrical leads untangled, let alone dog leads with all the randomness that is invited by our canine friends. Actually, years ago I read of seafarers and how they used to lay down their ropes in such a fashion so that they did not produce kinks, and believe it or not I’ve continued that practice with the 20m and 30m long electrical cables – not to mention the water hoses. The copper in them twists (as does the hoses) and so it is better not to twist the cables in the first place. And let’s not mention the prohibition of driving machines and/or wheelbarrows over electrical cables. Much sooking can ensue if such a thing occurs.

    Killian is perhaps the more level headed of the two pooches? Still we can cut Avalanche some slack as she is yet young.

    15’C is quite a pleasant temperature at that time of year. You could almost feel the sting of the sun I’d imagine? But seriously, don’t put the kiss-of-death on your early spring predictions, although from a record keeping perspective it is now officially autumn here. Step outside into the tropical conditions and it is kind of hard to imagine that it is autumn, but maps versus territory – always problematic.

    Good to hear that the songbirds are enjoying the conditions at your place. I’ve noticed that winter growing plants like the kale (I dare not mention the variety because of geopolitical tensions right now, but yeah it’s origins are from that country) have grown very strongly since the deluge yesterday. I should move some of the self seeded kale seedlings, but then there are plenty of things that I should be doing and a sensible person must take their time and enjoy the ride – don’t you reckon?

    Hehe! Well, truth to tell the idea that the antenna was not properly grounded was not even on my radar before heading to the pub and then sleeping on the problem for two days. It’s amazing what a combination of beer and decent sleep can achieve. And I’m starting to get ideas for next weeks essay. Hmm… Would more sleep produce a better outcome? Probably not given how the folks in the film ‘Awakenings’ were getting by.

    I’ve heard that term psychic vampires, and had wondered about the appropriateness of it, so thanks for mentioning it. The interesting thing that troubles me is that I once came across such a person and I inadvertently fed them emotional energy. Yes, I’m sure they just wanted to feel something. The Editor told me off for having done so, and when cooler heads (let’s just say that I was prodded and poked by the person) prevailed I had to acknowledge that I did wrong in that instance. Try our best we might, achieve above average we shall (said in best Yoda voice – although I doubt Yoda would be much impressed!) And you’re right too, some things remain broked (!) like that stolen car radio.

    As an a sad, but also somewhat amusing side story: That particular vehicle was so easy to break into, that I kept down grading the car radio until I ended up with a unit that was so dodgy that it wasn’t worth the while of the thieves. Thus I learned the lesson of the monasteries of the dark ages: don’t have anything worth nicking, because it might attract folks who want to nick it, and they’ll do so if presented with the opportunity. All very sensible from hindsight.

    Hehe! Yup. That is exactly how the gabion stacking process works. Might move another gabion tomorrow, but 31’C and humid sounds very unpleasant. Mustn’t grumble though as Tolkien once wrote: Tis the job that isn’t started as takes the longest to complete.

    Mate, you’ve gotta love an accordion. We sold one once, and the people who turned up were interesting folks. It’s good to see that the musicians have the blues on the run. Right where that business should be. And by the way, this was the exact sort of music that the old car radio could pick up. Hmm, it’s not exactly the national youth music broadcaster, well maybe back in 1955. I’d imagine back then respectable adults were suggesting that the music was the work of the devil. 🙂 Ook!



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, I’d imagine that down here we have plenty of such communities down here. I used to occasionally speak with a bloke who moved down here from Poland and worked as a long distance truck driver. He was a neighbour of a friend, and him and his wife were a blast and we shared a few beers over the years. Alas the friends moved back to New Zealand at the start of all of this craziness, and one of the couple posted a comment here within the last year or so. They were fun and I miss ’em, but tis a long way to those two huge islands and I don’t travel much nowadays. Best to get used to such restrictions earlier rather than later. What do you reckon about that response? And the price of a barrel of oil is on the up and up. A mate of mine purchased a stash of the refined product and he might be onto something with that approach.

    But regardless, I have very strong reservations that the leaders of either of those two warring countries have put many brain cells towards this remote part of the world – and in fact heard that very opinion said in a second hand account on the youth news program this evening. The quote went something along the lines of: What do you think of Australia. Answer: I don’t. A rather honest response. So I’ve chosen rightly or wrongly to not give them any of my brain cells. They’ve gotta sort their business out, it’s none of my affair.

    Old friends do produce that sort of wishful thinking. And then you meet them again, everything slides back into place, and you think to yourself: This is why we no longer catch up. Imagine being either Paul Simon or Art Garfunkle and having to earn some mad cash at a gig! A perfect memory would avoid such engagements in the first place, but then who wants to be burdened with a perfect memory. What a hassle!

    Honey is a very expensive product, so that doesn’t surprise me. We have to stock up with the stuff soon.

    Yeah, I read the article on inflation and there’s a weird story behind a $10 tube of toothpaste. It’s not like you can’t make a similar product yourself. I must add that it impresses me that price hikes are being blamed on geopolitical events without kind of explaining why they were on a similar trajectory before the incident. Yes, things were OK before the incident. 😉

    Don’t your EMT services charge for call outs? The Ambulance service down here is definitely not a free service, however an annual membership of the service tends to avoid such fees – and keep the service operating. I have heard rumours that the emergency help line 911 in your country and 000 down here has occasionally had troubles dealing with the volume of calls.

    Yes, some people do require additional assistance to chill out.

    The emergency services would be doing it pretty tough in the two states to the north of here. The floods have been epic. I believe that people in a few suburbs in the city of Sydney have been given orders to evacuate by 3am. Dams have filled are now spilling apparently.

    Actually, that was my thinking too with the knife. It’s a beautifully made chefs knife from a solid ingot. I’m scratching my brain wondering if there is anything that I might have missed. Always a problem, but what do you do? I think now I’ll concentrate a bit more on getting the infrastructure just right. But you’re twice as right that things might get twice as expensive. I’m already hearing that the second hand market is on the up.

    I’m so enjoying Norah Lofts book. A delightful tale full of crafty and intelligent women. One of them has just outwitted the local gentry and held the creditors at bay for a while whilst she sorts out business at the inn. A lovely story.

    Hehe! Yes, I too recall that charming song. Please refrain from singing and more lines from the powerful ear worm, otherwise I might have to bring out the big guns: Rage against the machine…. Just saying!

    A toilet plunger for a blaster on the side of a Dalek!!!! Thanks for that as I spat my dinner all over the screen. Hehe! Well hey, let’s talk old school Star Trek. Goatees used to represent the Klingons or Romulans, those props would have cost a bit in not shaving for a while! 😉

    Ah, the company supporting the software wound up and the work was no longer done in house. So at what point does it become cheaper to bring back the card system? It’s not as if such a system didn’t work. Are you aware of any libraries who have gone down that low tech but resilient path?

    I doubt that anyone serious has even thought about the Tongan volcano and the effect on weather the ash cloud produced. But I agree if anything the storms are bigger, but also slowing. A complicated mess and probably not something that it is wise to mess around with in the first place – except that we did. Liked the Perfect Storm pun too, how good was that film?

    The book Eating to Extinction (I disagree with the inherent premise in the title because people are super resilient like rats and cockroaches are) is how things are playing out on an agricultural front. I’m not comfortable with such an outcome, but so few people are involved in producing food and they want stuff that is cheap that probably the vast majority of the population doesn’t even have a clue as to what we are discussing. Here’s to the peasant farmers! 😉 A low cost base is usually a good path to survival.

    Ah, that was a complicated story about your Dick, and well you know is it much different from the geopolitical troubles? People ask and expect you to care about situations, but how much can you really care about? And it is not as you were close to Dick, but as you point out, in a pinch you’d assist but neither would you hinder.

    Respect and well done with the club pantry. The stuff has gone to a good home.

    Even down here we have heard stories of the mortgage lifter tomato. It’s a great name and story to the seed isn’t it? Ah Elinor, when at a party, tis best to enjoy the folks who attend, and not cry of the ones that didn’t attend or got away. An unpopular perspective to be sure.



  19. Hi, Chris!

    There is a wren here that, when he is especially happy, sings: “Scritchy! Scritchy! Scritchy!” He was doing so this morning. Here’s to you Dame Scritchy.

    The Editor was on top of things as usual. And except for all the work involved, that was a simple antenna fix. Good for you and Triple J!

    Love your description of “classifieds”.

    I have always heard: “Never joke with a policeman.”

    I had not realized that your were so careful about placing the rocks in a gabion cage. More work! It makes a lot of sense, though.

    Er, what goes on in the Chick Cave? Reminds me of when I was a girl and we girls had our own homemade clubhouse and the boys had their own.

    I am sorry, but that is the ghastliest corn I have ever seen.

    Okay, Ruby. Got it.

    Beans, kale, and Triffids – yay! Obviously still just planting cool-weather crops here.

    What an interesting little rose. I have never been able to start one from seed. And thanks for the rest of the flowers!


  20. Yo, Chris – Travel is for the young? 🙂 . I haven’t traveled out of the county in, well, years. Unlike my wandering youth.

    Old time farmer’s seemed to have had a stash of petrol. Depending on the size of the operation, they could even extend to underground tanks.
    I suppose our propane tanks are a faint echo of that.

    I’m pretty sure our EMT services, are covered by our Medicare program. At least I’ve never heard any oldster going into shock, over an ambulance bill. My friends in Idaho can (and do have) a yearly quit reasonable policy for life flights. They’re son-in-law didn’t have it, and the bill was pretty horrendous. “First Responders” do the hard yards, and yeoman service. Often, heroic.

    LOL. Don’t get testy. You notice I did NOT link to the “charming song.”

    But something I will link to is a trailer for a movie I watched, last night. “Kubo and the Two Strings.”

    I thought it was an animated film. But then I watched the DVD extras. It’s all done with stop motion hand puppets! All the sets were pretty much built to scale. The rural village, the bamboo forest, etc.. The detail of the miniatures was amazing. Right down to the stitching on the costumes. Ah, here’s a two minute clip of how they made it.

    Oh, I suppose there are still card catalogues, out there. Probably in out-of-the-way rural libraries. The thing about outsourcing is, it gets rid of all those pesky employees, what with their health insurance and retirement, and such.

    Ah! Perhaps we have a little misunderstanding. The title “Eating to Extinction” doesn’t refer to our extinction (though if you follow it to it’s logical conclusion…) but to plant (etc.) extinction. That we’ve lost a diversity of flavors. I was reading about coffee, last night. Turns out, most coffee is descended from two little clutches of plants, that were taken out of the Middle East back in the 1500’s or so. So they’re genetic pool is quit small. While at the same time, there’s many species of coffee, out there in the wild. A lot of them taste like ca-ca. But some show promise. There’s even one up in northern Australia. So, the trick is, find a palatable variety, that’s resistant to the rust. Before they disappear, in the ever shrinking wild.

    My usual response to someone moaning about the demise of a really difficult person, is, “Won’t leave a whole in my social schedule.” Which is always received as a shocker. Sorry. I am not here to sooth.

    Theoretically, Elinor’s caregiver is taking her in for a doctor’s appointment, this morning. And I’ll be pup sitting. Maybe. We’ll see. Lew

  21. Hi Chris,
    That corn ear tassel is pretty weird. Doug scored a big chain link section that I’m going to use for bean and cucumber supports this year. It’s much sturdier and taller than what I’m presently using. My kale survives over the winter. It looks pretty dead but as soon as things warm up it sprouts.

    Glad to hear that you haven’t been too impacted by the floods – been following the news about them.

    “Nickel and Dimed” was the first Barbara Ehrenreich book I read.

    We are finally starting to warm up around here. Some of our spring birds are returning and we’re happy to hear the song of the cardinals.

    Enjoyed your story radio story. To be honest though sometimes I just want silence. In the bookstore we have an old CD player if we’d like to put on music for the volunteers and customers but most of the time I leave it off.


  22. Hello Chris
    I haven’t heard yet from NSW daughter but other daughter reckons that she will be okay in her precise neck of the woods.
    I pretty much agree with what you wrote in your previous reply to me. Certainly get out fast would be my intent in such a situation. I was always surprised at those who didn’t leave early before WW2. People cling to what they have.
    The coastal footpath lot are going to reconnoitre my land again tomorrow. Son reckons that they will find it impossible to get through. I hope that he is correct. Apart from fallen stuff, the ground is a clay swamp at present.


  23. Hi Pam,

    Dame Scritchy the venerable elder managed a fine innings of 19 years. And her final visit to the vet was also her first. She was one tough dog. It’s lovely that your birds are singing about her life. Plus bird song is a good sign for pleasant spring weather!

    Hehe! Yeah, the new car radio was a great idea, although I had to convert the idea into a working boom box. And can you imagine how torn I was: miss the kitchen at the local pub – or fix the antenna? What to do? Pub was the answer. Had the machine playing today as we relocated another rock gabion. Another two or maybe three days of work and that job will be done. Yo! 🙂

    You and I know what classifieds are, but do the kids? Hmm. It’s funny we’re talking about this subject but…

    Your advice is sound, but the bloke was a miserable sack of dog poop. If I’d been drinking there would be no way that I would have been there. I reckon he just didn’t want to fill out the report – it might have affected the stations key performance indicators. You never know.

    Exactly. You know. 😉 And I shouldn’t ask. Hehe!

    The corn was pretty weird. I hear you about that. Have you ever seen the like? It may have been related to a Triffid.

    May you enjoy a bountiful harvest and kind growing conditions. Bought a Babaco today.

    Hey, I’ve never deliberately grown a rose from seed either. How this plant came to be is something of a mystery.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    Have you ever seen the like of that corn? It’s an open pollinated heritage variety which may have been described as True Gold. It’s really sweet and I’m leaving the kernels on the tassel ears for the birds. We grew so few corn plants this season that I dare not save seed from them, and have in fact already procured next seasons seeds.

    The greenhouse project is coming along and we relocated another gabion today. Next week will take that wall out to about 30ft as each cage is 8ft with a shorter one on the end.

    Out of curiosity, how tall (roughly) is the big chain link section? We use very sturdy chicken wire to about 4ft, but the plants could grow higher easily. I’ve seen steel reinforcing mesh used, and that seems very sturdy.

    Wow! Your Kale is super tough. I assume that it regrows from the base of the plant? It’s a bit warmer here, and the Kale grows up to about a month before the winter solstice and then it just hangs in there not dying, but not growing either. When the new greenhouse is in place, we’ll try some kale in there to see what happens. Picked up a Japanese Ginger plant today.

    No, the floods have been in the state to the north of here. Mind you, tomorrow evening a storm looks set to dump between an inch and two inches of rain, and then the weather is going to turn cooler for the next week. Not good for the tomatoes.

    🙂 Good stuff with the birds. Did you put out your feeder for them?

    I hear you about the silence and also appreciate silence when I’m in the company of books. How is the book store and club going? Sometimes its nice just to catch up and talk with people you know well.



  25. Hi Inge,

    The worst of the storms and flooding looked as though they were both to the north and south of your daughter, so I also believe that she will be OK. Mind you, that state had evacuation orders in place for half a million people today. I can’t ever recall such a thing.

    A storm looks set to hit here tomorrow night with between one and two inches of rain. It’ll be interesting and the rainfall forecast map has shown the storm location has been moving around quite a bit over the past few days. I like to keep an eye on the weather so as to be prepared for such storms – the landslide a few years ago was a salient reminder as to the power of nature.

    The greenhouse expansion project is continuing and we relocated another rock gabion today. It felt very hot today at 86’F due to the high humidity.

    I don’t really know enough about how such stories play out in other peoples minds. With the recent example in Europe I watched what was going on and thought that it might not be a bad idea to get out early. The thing is other peoples motivations are often murky, but I have this weird hunch (which you describe as clinging to what they have) that there is a sense of disbelief that bad things can happen. I’m not burdened with such beliefs, but society does tend to encourage that particular belief.

    I’m not certain about property titles in your part of the world, but we share a common legal history and system and I believe that it is only the very rare older titles which own the land down to the high water mark. Still I too would be unhappy with people tramping around the property where we live. And need I remind you of the horse trail riders who just decided one day to take a ride out of the forest and through the orchard. Most people are fine, but then if ever numbers increase – the strange incidents increase in lock step.



  26. Hi Lewis,

    That’s such a lovely way to put the situation. I always worry when travelling in exotic locales: Where is the next toilet, and what if there is none to be found? My youth was a wandering experience too, and maybe that is why I value stability? It’s like moving house, due to having a single mother I moved around heaps – certainly enough for one lifetime. It is possibly a very dull mindset, but then how much excitement does a person want in life? I had that vague insight into the mind of Anthony Bourdain when I watched the trailer for the film. Discontent can take over, but like any emotion it can be indulged to an extreme.

    That’s true about the stash of petrol, and I’m not without resources. 😉 The thing is the mixtures these days go off in a matter of weeks. I don’t really know enough about why that may be either. Even with fuel stabiliser you can extend that to about two years I believe. After we discussed ethanol the other week I had a look at what would be required to run a motor on that stuff, and an older motor where you could easily change the timing would be more suitable. Modern motors, even the small engines are more set and forget arrangements and that doesn’t favour the sort of mucking around required to use the stuff.

    Propane tanks are exactly like that. Hey, when I was a kid, people used to burn diesel fuel for heating and they’d have a small fuel tank on the side of the house. Funnily enough I can’t ever recall the stuff producing a diesel stink, but back then only one room in the house was ever heated – the so called living room. But I don’t ever recall feeling cold.

    Ah, the ambulance annual membership here covers all of those arrangements. Can you imagine the bill from the Royal Flying Doctor Service? That’ll be a thousand miles to get you to the nearest hospital thanks very much. The hospital in the small-ish town to the north of here (Kyneton – the commercial town for that region) has a heli-pad and I often see the helicopter flying down the freeway – or overhead often low. I sometimes wonder if they use the house as a orienting mark in the hills. Tell ya what, with the downturn in air traffic there are less planes flying over the house nowadays – we’re in a flight path. The path goes over the main ridge of the mountain range which is somewhat higher than here. When the planes are a bit on the low side, I think to myself: Hope you guys know what you’re doing.

    Hehe! Well that particular song is a very memorable ear worm. And it’s rare that I’ll sit down to watch television but I have rather enjoyed the four part ‘Muster Dogs’ show. 🙂 What can I say, the stars of the show are Kelpie’s – it’s something of a personal interest. Those dogs had a fun day today running around in the hot and humid conditions. This afternoon they slept, and seem pretty quiet tonight. Softies. We relocated another gabion cage today, so there is 24ft of cages in place now. Another 6ft should finish that side of the new shed. I’m looking forward to getting the big machine in and doing some digging. I’m calculating that there will be some excess soil from that job which is a good thing as I’ll fill some small holes in the paddock.

    But more importantly, we’re seriously looking forward to getting the new greenhouse up and ready for work. Was at the plant nursery late this afternoon and picked up two intriguing plants: Japanese Giner, and Babaco. My mates of the big shed fame have a Babaco laden with fruit and I was inspired to try the plant out. I’ve tasted the fruit years ago and it was one of the better tropical fruits.

    Went to the supermarket today and picked up some food, and noticed that they had organic bananas. Went over to check them out (they were way too green for my tastes) and I might have exclaimed ‘organic bananas’. I probably should have kept quiet because a lady said: ‘excuse me’. Not good. I explained that I was speaking to myself, and yeah, yeah she said ‘well as long as you don’t answer’. Quick as a flash (a pre-prepared one liner) I responded: ‘arguing with yourself is not much good either’. And we had a bit of a laugh, but did I need this conversation I ask you?

    Lewis, I am astounded by the film and honestly thought that it was all computer generated. Wow, I’m utterly lost for words. Did you enjoy the film?

    Ah, spilling employees and putting people on contract work with no benefits. Such is my life, my friend. 🙂 I’m good with it, but then my costs are low, and I haven’t quite figured out in over a dozen years how to get a week off uninterrupted. There is a power imbalance inherent in the arrangement and um, you know, if I knew how to navigate that without losing the work I’d navigate it. Still, mustn’t grumble. Blessed are the competent, for they shall be busy. 🙂 I’m certain the Big J was heard to say that at the Mount of Olives, the scribes wiped that line out during the Dark Ages.

    Ah, all is now explained. The formerly robust plants are being made to be vulnerable to shocks. Yes, that makes sense. Sorry, there are a bunch of people who believe in near term extinction, and we’re hardier than that. I often wonder whether such folks fear for their own perquisites? Now those perquisite things might go extinct, especially with the way the price of oil is headed. I wonder if we’ll get rationing soon?

    I remember during the last really big and prolonged drought that houses were restricted in the amount of water they could use, and watering gardens was something only allowed for odd and even numbered houses for only short periods every day. I do wonder about that experience because the powers that be added another million people to the big smoke since those days. Hope you guys know what you’re doing – although I rather suspect that they don’t.

    Hehe! If you are of a mind, would you be offended if I ripped off your line and kept it for future use in the real world? 🙂

    Some of the old timers I’ve met over the years say some of the most outrageous things. A year or two back I spoke with an old bloke who breeds Kelpie dogs (yes, I have interest in such things now). Nearby was another bloke putting on a display of Border Collie dogs, and the old bloke (Kelpie breeder) remarked: “Yeah, those dogs over there are stupid. Can’t think for themselves!’ and then he put on what Stephen King would describe as a: ‘shit eating grin’ (Mr King’s words and in this instance quoted verbatim for educational purposes only). Funny stuff.

    Did you get H? Is Elinor’s new caregiver working out OK?



  27. Hello Chris again
    I just heard from younger daughter. She says that it is utterly ghastly but they dodged the bullet. She adds that many newer buildings have flat roofs which leaked. This applied to where she works but she was able to move elsewhere.


  28. Chris:

    How neat about the Babaco. I had never heard of it before. Have you tasted one? I see that it can only tolerate light frosts; won’t do for here.


  29. @ Margaret – I use chicken wire to support some of my green beans. It’s always quit a job to clean out the withered stems. Very zen. 🙂 Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – Yes, as one ages, “Where’s the nearest bathroom,” becomes a priority. We have a toilet, on the first floor, that is open to all. It’s been locked since You Know What started. There’s some loose talk around that it’s going to be come a “staff only” toilet. That won’t fly. I myself have begun to suffer from the dreaded OMB (Old Man’s Bladder). Expeditions require careful planning. I was up FOUR times, last night. Even though I start drying myself out, hours before bed. Too much information? Well, you might as well hear what you’re in for. 🙂

    The first apartment I lived in, had an old diesel heating stove. You very carefully had to adjust a drip into an internal pan. Then set the thing alight with a twist of newspaper (wonder what they use, these days?), and hope your eyebrows remained intact. It was made of very thin enameled sheet metal, and sounded like a jet plane taking off, as it warmed up. Right in your living room. Scared the heck out of my father.

    We’re right on the flight path, between Portland and Seattle. It’s really just a hop, for a jet. We’re under the highest part of the trajectory, so not much jet noise. But, we have an airport here, with lots of small planes. It can even take small corporate jets. One of Elinor’s granddaughters (great? Where’s that family flow chart?) works as a nurse at the local laser eye clinic. They have satellite clinics, out in the hinterlands, and she’s always flying off to easter Oregon or Idaho. Lots of helicopter traffic.

    The interior of the Babaco looks a bit like melon. Interesting about the Japanese ginger. Apparently, you use the flower, instead of the root.

    Organic bananas are quit common, here. My major grocery has them. In fact, they’ve got quit a large organic fruit and veg section. My local veg store also carries them. Here, they’re more expensive than the regular bananas, but not that much more expensive. I do think they taste a bit better. Ah, the problem of the green banana. It takes a bit of planning to make sure I keep myself in ripe bananas. Sometimes, the planning fails. But, I feel a bit better having read that actually, green bananas are more nutritious than the fully ripe ones.

    Oh, come on. Sure you needed that conversation. A short exchange of quips, that made everybody’s day a little brighter. As grumpy and cranky as I am, even I can enjoy a short exchange like that.

    Oh, I quit liked “Kubo”. Even before I realized it was all miniatures. And there’s even quit a bit of comic relief. Mostly from the very large samurai warrior, who’s been turned into a very large beetle. By the very evil witches.

    Last night I watched a new biography of Brian Wilson (Beach Boys.) He really is a musical genius. It was quit good, and reminded me I really need to expand my (very small) cd collection, in that direction.
    I also picked up two of the Great Courses. One on “world’s greatest” archaeology sites and the other on the history of the novel.

    Oh, scribes often fiddled text. To reflect their times. Little did they know people would be comparing older texts to newer texts, or that technology would enable people to see what was under those strike outs or over writing. That they’d be caught out.

    I don’t know if we’ll end up rationing water, here. It’s happened in the past. I sometimes wonder what the water bill for this place is. And if I’m using too much. And that they might use it as an excuse to quash the gardens.

    Sure, use the quip. According to the OED, Mr. King’s phrase dates back to 1450. But I couldn’t follow up on that, as the OED seems to have slipped into a temporal anomaly. 🙂 . But there was also a lot of reference to an old southern saying, “Grinning like a possum eating poop.” Sometimes changed, in polite society to “Grinning like a possum eating pumpkin seeds.”

    Yes, H spent the morning with me, and Elinor made her doctor’s appointment. He’s upped some of her meds, and I hope that heads off some of the future anxiety attacks. H was rather odd, yesterday. Usually, she’s in my chair, on my bed or in my lap, while I’m on the computer. Instead, she just picked out a patch of carpet, laid out, and stayed there until Elinor got back. So far, the caregiver seems to be working out. Except for some ups and down over scheduling.

    That was an interesting article about stalled weather. What would it be like if weather, worldwide, just stalled? The stuff of science fiction, and it’s probably already been written.

    I also picked up Margaret Atwood’s new collection of essays, “Burning Questions.” She wrote “Handmaid’s Tale”, by the way. I think it will be good. She’s a sharp old bird. Lew

  31. Chris,

    Wow, we just had another consecutive 25 hours of rain, bringing this week’s total to about 38mm. All the ice is gone, the ground is unfrozen, so this event soaked in nicely.

    We went on our Wednesday walk with the rain at a mere trickle. You can guess the rest of the story. We got soaked. I even got soaked through my alleged waterproof rain jacket. But, being neither sweet enough nor nasty enough, neither of us melted due to getting wet.

    Your secret to cable care is out. Don’t twist the wires! Reminds me of what I was taught early on when learning to play the piano: “Don’t bash the piano!”
    There are even tee shirts that say “Don’t bash the piano”.
    It’s even became a mantra of sorts among the tee shirt wearers:

    Weel, ye might be growing a variety of “shall not be named” kale, but I grow a variety of “shall not be named” sage. It gets these grand deep purple blooms when it flowers.

    Yes, enjoy the ride. The PROCESS is important, not the endpoint. Relax, enjoy the process. I start to, umm, well, things tend to go off the rails when I forget to enjoy the process.

    When I was first in graduate school, I was really struggling. A month went by in the first semester when the post-doc looked at me one evening and said, “I know what you need. You need beer. Let’s go now, I’ll buy.” I didn’t argue. After all, only a fool of a student turns down free beer! Additionally, she didn’t drink! So I knew I was about to lose it if I didn’t accept the offer. The beer was good and did help.

    Well, you appear to have learned from the Editor’s reaction to your psychic vampire episode. That’s a GOOD thing, learning from experience. School of Hard Knocks and all that. All we can do is the best we can with what we know at the time, right?

    My first car finally gave it up when the water pump blew out the radiator. I sold it for $25.00 to a mechanic I knew. Otherwise, I would’ve had to pay $50.00 for the junkyard to take it! The guy fixed it up, sold it for a nice profit. Several years later, it was on the front page of the local section of the daily newspaper. By that time, it had 3 flat tires and most of the headlights had been broken. The article was talking about one of the poorest neighborhoods in Spokane, which the car became the poster child for. I was almost famous!

    Hmmmmm, Almost Famous…I knew a band by that name once. They weren’t bad. My favorite local band once upon a year was called “Loose Gravel”. They choose that name because the state gave them free advertising much of the year with their road signs “Beware of Loose Gravel”.

    That version of Beer Barrel Polka was from the Lawrence Welk Show. All the oldtimers watched it for decades. My grandparents never missed it. Come to think of it, neither did my parents, and they weren’t exactly old! So I guess I grew up watching it. But, as I’ve mentioned several times…I am many millenia old. 😉


  32. Hi Inge,

    That must be something of a relief to have heard from your daughter! 🙂 The rainfall maps suggested that things were far worse only slightly just to the north and south of your daughter, and that was also my opinion in that she dodged a bullet. It’s now raining here, but nothing like what was seen up along the coast and far away to the north east.

    Actually, before night fell and the rain picked up, I rushed out and planted a punnet of Kale seedlings of a type (Italian Cavolo Nero) that is very heat and cold hardy, but because of that heat tolerant characteristic won’t set seed here. The large European-Asian-country-I-dare-not-name variety of kale is like a weed here as they set seed and have popped all over the place. One must learn to enjoy the plant varieties which flourish in the area in which one lives! 😉 The cabbage moths destroy the Italian variety. The plants survived the summer, but look rather woebegone.

    Flat roofs on buildings down under are usually utilised in commercial buildings. They’re just not a good idea in extreme rainfall events.

    Hmm. If I may make the observation, accommodation of all types was in short supply in that part of the world – after the floods that issue will be multiplied many times over. I would not like to be facing that situation, in fact if it was an issue here, we’d construct a comfortable insulated shed and live on site whilst we rebuilt.



  33. Hi Pam,

    Now my mates of the big shed fame did not seem inclined for the Editor and I to pick the fruit from their Babaco plant and we did not push the issue.

    Last century the Editor and I visited a farm (way up north along the coast in the flood affected areas) called Tropical Fruit World. It was an amazing farm and we were able to taste many of the fruits which were grown there. Babaco was one of them, and I recall being favourably impressed at the time.

    Whether we can produce the same level of sugars in the fruit is something that I don’t really know about, but what the heck, let’s give this plant a go!

    Do people in your part of the world utilise greenhouses (or hoop houses)?



  34. Hi DJ,

    You’re certainly off to a nice start to the spring season with the rain and defrosted ground. A bit of sunshine and the seeds will begin to grow and the deciduous trees will begin leafing out and producing blossoms. Of course this also equates to hay fever time, but I have a hunch that now that you are retired with less stress, the hay fever might effect you less. This can be tested scientifically via observation over the next few weeks and months. Stress is bad.

    You may joke around, but that melting thing can happen, I read about it once, can’t recall where… 🙂 Plastic is not much good at keeping the rain off because the stuff sweats. It’s raining here right now. What a summer.

    Thanks for the video clips. I’m not even going to ask why there are pianos in public spaces just waiting for someone to play them. Those two piano players are amazing, and they loved every moment of the performance. I had the impression that the guy with the hoodie was avoiding having his identity revealed. I have heard of well known performers down here, just heading out for a night busking with their mates.

    Ah, yes the Salvia family of plants are a favourite of ours too. Respect! And Salvia officinalis is a very useful medicinal herb which we’ve tested on numerous occasions. The wikipudding page makes many references to the plants traditional uses, but alas such is the paucity of our times.

    I hear you about enjoying the process. The new big shed for example left me with only about five days off over four months, and after it was completed to ‘good enough’ stage, I had to get things back to a more normal pace. Yes, before expending too much personal energy, chop wood, fetch water, chill out. After spending too much personal energy, chop wood, fetch water and chill out! On the other hand, given the scale of the thing, if I had not put so much energy into the project, it would not have been at good enough stage, even now. Mate, we all need a reality check every now and then – I’ve had my share of those times too, and beer is good.

    Yeah, learning from experience is really a thing, so yeah. I dunno, we can only but do our best to muddle through and not make the same mistake twice – we’ll make new and more interesting mistakes, and then one day, we might be good at this here thing called life. What did Marvin the Paranoid Android have to say about life: Life, don’t talk to me about life! Can’t say I understood what the depressive robot was going on about.

    Boom! That was the sound of that dodgy old radiator popping. 🙂 As an amateur in such matters I feel the need to proffer the opinion that the steel worm had been also enjoying that particular radiator prior to the err, incident. Everything it should be stated was OK, prior to the incident. Mate, just going with my gut feeling here, but there is such a thing as shabby chic, and then there is the junk-yard on wheels sensibility which you were once in possession of. That is some notoriety for sure. Did anyone recognise that you were once master of that sunk ship? An enviable estate. Mind you, I once purchased a vehicle from a wreckers yard and returned it to active duty, before then wiping it out. A sad tale.

    That’s funny! Thanks for the laughs. 🙂

    Mate, aren’t we all getting older?



  35. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 Yes, your experience is certainly something to look forward to. Still, all things considered, the alternative options are perhaps more challenging, and quite often rather permanent. Out of curiosity, so do the staff have somewhere to go to the toilet? I once began a job where the person who hired me had neglected to provide a toilet. I was not impressed – and frankly can’t be expected to hang on for that many hours. Tes’ not natural!

    Had a quiet day off any and all work today. Yay for a day off working. Got out and about into the countryside. Noted that fuel is now $2.06 per litre (3.8 litres to the gallon), and by sheer chance noticed the: Wattle Gully Gold Mine. Mining began in I believe 1853 and continued of and on until only recent times. Mate, it looked like the gates were shut not that many years ago as everything appeared where you’d imagine it to be. I took the phone and got some photos, but who knows how they turned out.

    We were on our way to pick up some bulk supplies of honey from a farm gate and also some supplies of apples from a cold store near to the nearby apple growing area. Some lunch may have been harmed in the process.

    Oooo! A frightening, but possibly effective heater. The one I recall had ceramic inserts which glowed and an electronic igniter (probably not a bad idea). Your heater description coincidentally scares me, but diesel fuel is actually a lot safer than more flammable and explosive oil products.

    My experience of the last two years suggests very strongly to me that air travel as an activity will become an increasingly rarer experience. The number of air craft flying overhead here is now only a tiny fraction of what it used to be.

    Whether the Babaco fruit produces enough sugar this far south is a question that I hope to answer. My mates of the big shed fame had many such fruit hanging off their Babaco plant and I did want to put the fruits to the test, but they weren’t offered and there was plenty of other good food. One of their piggies was on the spit roast that day – so tasty. Yum!

    The local gardening club brought the Japanese ginger plant to my attention and I’ve long been wanting to trial the flowers. Ginger tubers are a bit marginal here – even in the greenhouse. But there are plans to expand the greenhouse and relocate the building to a sunnier spot, so that might make a difference? Not sure really.

    What? Really? Oh, no way. Well I never knew that. Thanks for mentioning that green bananas are better for you than ripe bananas. You learn something new every day.

    Organic food options down here are rather a bit more pricey than the more usual options. I don’t get too hung up on such things and just try to do the best that we can. We’re beginning to think about how the new expanded (yet to be constructed) and much larger vegetable garden will work.

    Hehe! You called it, the conversation was unasked for, but also enjoyable. It’s surprising in rural areas how chance conversations with people can form part of your normal everyday social life. It’s only in the cities that people do their best to ignore everyone else around them.

    The Samurai warrior was pretty funny. One comment from the trailer amused me: I’ve got this. I don’t got this. I see that the film had the voice of George Takei of Star Trek fame. As a general note, one must avoid giving offence to evil witches. It won’t come to a good end.

    I’m not overly familiar with the works of Mr Wilson so I’ll defer to your better knowledge. However, it is hard not to note words such as: ‘played all of the instruments’, and it appears that he may have done much of the composition for that band – at least the more successful songs. His history sounds as though he was tortured from some aspects of that artistic production process, and yet was very good at it.

    Since you’ve introduced me to the concept of scribes drawing killer rabbits in the margins of the texts which they were reproducing, I have this notion that things weren’t all that bad for those fellows. Paper was never wasted in those days.

    Nope, I meant fuel rationing as a possibility.

    I didn’t know that about the age of the phrase and it is a pleasure to note that as a species, we have not changed over the years. You might get a laugh out of this, but long ago I stopped using the old phrase: There’s more than one way to skin a cat. I said it to someone many years ago and got a look which suggested that I was a very bad person indeed to even contemplate such a thing. Ah, ’tis but a shame that people are disinclined to read in these enlightened days.

    Anxiety attacks are no good at all, and here’s hoping that Elinor’s brain chemistry settles down. Dogs can get sick too, and who knows what they eat. I take a wait and see approach with such things and use your best judgement. Some folks believe otherwise.

    Far out! I really don’t want to see such a thing. But I have read somewhere that the really large weather patterns are slowing relative to earlier times. I’d be certain that the good Professor would have something to say about this matter and possibly correct any misunderstanding.

    The Editor watched the Handmaids tale series, and from what I gather of descriptions here and there, it was a brutal fictional world – with some incongruities which I did not quite understand. One thing I have taken away from Norah Lofts book ‘A wayside tavern’ is that it is best not to annoy the ladies – consequences, death and stuff. It interests me that the story covers many problematic episodes and could in fact be read as a cautionary tale, but also as a guide as to how to comport oneself during difficult times. The vast portion of history appears to have been difficult times. It is the peace and quite that is the rare thing to be savoured.



  36. Yo, Chris – Well, the source I heard from, about making the formerly public (to the residents) bathroom, staff only, is a bit dodgy. But I suppose it would be the building manager and occasional maintenance person. Our postie used to use it, before You Know What. Don’t know what he’s doing, these days. So did the Master Gardeners. I’ve told them if they get caught short, they can use mine. But, they haven’t taken me up on it.

    Here’s to a quiet day off. Though it sounds like you were productive, anyway, but in a pleasant way. As a famous NY city poet once said, “I go here, I go there, I do this, I do that.” 🙂

    How many years before the Babaco, produces? Can you keep the parrots off?

    Ripe bananas are preferred, but, in a pinch, at least one knows green bananas are healthy. But, my. Getting them out of their little jackets is a job. And they do taste a bit “green.” Organic fruit and veg is more pricey. But, at least the money goes to a more local place.

    They had a few short interviews with George Takei, in the extras. It seemed like the Japanese people that were involved in the production, were quit pleased with the final result. A lot of research went into the film. Down to the small details.

    Wilson has some problems, that are probably brain chemistry related. But the very wonkyness of his brain chemistry, probably contributes to his musical genius. Luckily, his past group (mostly family members) and the musicians he works with today, follow his lead. And he doesn’t seem to have much of an ego, where other people and bands are concerned.

    I think it was DJ who discovered the frolicking manuscript rabbits. Credit, where credit is due. 🙂

    I don’t know if we’ll have actual fuel rationing (odd and even days) or if it will just be rationed, by price.

    You can probably still use “skinning the cat” as long as you provide trigger warnings and a safe space. 🙂

    Margaret Atwood once said, that everything that takes place in “The Handmaid’s Tale” is either taking place, or has taken place in history.

    You asked about Elinor and her caregiver. Oh, dear. The litany of complaints is piling up. She might run off another one. She made the statement last night that her anxiety attacks are all the fault of having a caregiver. So, tonight’s question will be, “If you feel the caregivers are causing our anxiety attacks, what’s the solution? Is there a solution? Is it viable? If not, what then?

    There’s a lot more to it than that, but I’m unsure of some of the details. I think it has to do with family, and expectations. Unrealistic though they may be. In this day and age. Lew

  37. Chris:

    They that are hard workers, or have many dollars, certainly do use greenhouses around here. We are apparently neither.


  38. Chris,

    Yes, hay fever season soon. You brought up a very good point to which I will give a lot of attention this year: reduced stress might decrease the hay fever reaction. That’s something I have pondered on occasion. We shall see.

    A lot of things aren’t great at keeping off water. I had a gortex rain jacket once. When it quit being waterproof, it was with no warning and just as bad as having no rain protection.

    The guy with the hoodie is Brendan Kavanagh, aka Dr. K. in London, England. Apparently, there are a lot of pianos left out for public use in London. The piano in those videos was donated for public use at St Pancras Station in London by Elton John.

    Brendan usually dresses like a normal person, but occasionally he wears a disguise. His “homeless hoodie” is one, a construction worker who is a piano maestro is another. He can play anything but is fantastic with boogie woogie. I’ve been enjoying his videos all week.

    Sometimes due to seasonal reasons, one must work too hard for a long period. Ugh. And the chop wood, carry water idea is foundational, along with “don’t forget to breathe.” Chilling out is also vital, as you said. As was said by the wise Bill Watterson in a Calvin and Hobbes cartoon “There is not enough time to do all the nothing we want to do.” Cartoon is partway down this page:

    Marvin the Paranoid Android and his whingeing! Remember, he was made with a Genuine People Personality. Although his was explicitly said to be “manic depressive”, I think there was something else embedded. He really seemed to get his fun by acting downcast and gloomy to bring happy humans down. A little bit “vampiric”, perhaps?

    The car of the exploded water pump served me well. It made trips to Mexico, South Dakota and all over the southwestern United States for the year I lived in New Mexico. Fortunately, it was in town when it blew up. Dad and I had some good towing ropes, so we didn’t even need to call a tow truck.

    Yup, that aging thing is unstoppable. Talking with younger people helps, as does listening to the right genre of music. And the occasional pub feed and beer, of course. 😉


  39. Chris,

    Ooops! Of those videos, only the 3rd was on Elton John’s piano at the station. Dunno where the other two were located.


  40. Hi Pam,

    Hmm, surely you are joking? To resurrect a Mr Dumpy or a no chip Mr Diggedy backhoe from certain demise are hardly projects that the leisure class would dare undertake. 🙂

    If I may dare, it is possible you may have to thin your property a touch in order to attract some more sunlight? Or put that timber your son scored to a good use and construct a greenhouse.

    On the other hand, most greenhouses I’ve seen in use around here are used to grow exotic flowering display plants that are being grown outside the range of this cold mountainous environment. The Editor and I intend to use the structure to get a head start on seedling production (without filling up the kitchen with seed starts – surely you can relate to this conundrum?) and also grow a few edible plants that are ever so slightly out of this climate zone, like turmeric, ginger, tea camellia etc.

    Years ago we grew a coffee shrub and the plant thrived and looked spectacular. Sadly, one winters day a decent snowfall put an end to the plant and within two or three days the leaves had blackened and the shrub went toes up. I won’t try that plant again, but I might get a head start on tomatoes in a greenhouse. For all of the dozens of plants this season, we’ve had about a bowl of ripe fruits. And it rained all day today and looking at the forecast things are rather bleak. In warmer years we harvest well over 200 pounds of tomatoes, but this year is not so good.

    Unlike other old dawgs, I can learn, and you just wait and see over the next year… 🙂 Oh yeah, it’s happening.



  41. Hi DJ,

    Man, I really dunno, but I have this odd hunch that stress impacts upon a persons immune system in a negative kind of way. But you know, I’m no expert in these things and can only but observe the world and the people around me and draw some conclusions. I’m no fan of stress, but the joke is I probably over did things slightly over the past few months with the construction of the new shed. But I also have to bow to reality, and this year the summer has been super weird. In the past few days I’ve enjoyed twice as much rain as fell in your part of the world – and that is crazy as. Last night the thunder and heavy downpour got me out of bed in the wee hours of the night so that I could check on the water tank inlet filters and remove the debris. The rain was bonkers heavy, but things have been far worse on that front in the two states to the north of here.

    On the upside, yesterday evening I planted out the cool season greens and there is no way that I could have provided them with such an excellent watering-in which nature provided for free. I can’t be entirely sure, but I reckon the seedlings grew between yesterday and today. Timing, Mr Watson, is everything! 😉

    I’ll be interested to learn of your own observations in relation to hay-fever. The trees that affect me the worst are the London Plane Trees which the good folks in the big smoke have planted plenty of.

    Hehe! Yeah, sure gortex is a great material. When the Editor and I were in Nepal and due to set off on an 18 day walk last century, we picked up some gear from the local vendors in Kathmandu. I really loved that city and enjoyed it in a way I didn’t enjoy other exotic cities. We kitted ourselves out for the walk from local shops. I’m not saying that we kind of underestimated the cold conditions at serious elevation (we got to 5,000m above sea level) that close to the equator – but err, gringos… 🙂 We scored some gortex jackets and I always remember what the supplier said to me: yes, yes, Nepalese gortex – with a smile but with no further explanation. The stuff was great, perhaps you scored some Nepalese gortex? The old timer bush folks down here used to wear oilskin jackets. They work and can be repaired – even the seams keep sealed.

    Dr K is awesome and I’m in awe of such a prodigious talent. The Editor’s mum used to play piano (and her uncle could play by ear), but alas the Editor has no talent in this area – her talent is for maths. Both music and maths are a kind of language I suspect.

    I love that quote – and it is so true. Mr Greer has advised that time out for day dreaming is time well spent, and I cannot argue with that point of view. However, with so much rain recently, this morning two of the water tanks attached to the new shed were alarmingly full. You may have read about dams overflowing with disastrous consequences? Well, water tanks have a similar problem. Fortunately the other two adjacent water tanks were not as full. This morning I headed out to the nearby town to pick up the parts to connect all of the water tanks up so that our friend gravity, equalised the water levels at a lower point. I’ve achieved a stay of execution, for the moment…

    Oh, that’s a great insight. Yes, Marvin the emotionally vampiric and slightly whingey android. 🙂

    Tow trucks were super expensive in earlier days, and yes if a tow rope was available – or a car trailer, that was winning. I’ve noticed that car wrecks are now being compensated with a couple of hundred dollars of mad cash. It’s a good way to track the economy – does it cost to wreck, or do you get mad cash?

    Beer always helps, and the better the quality of beer, the better the outcome. Is this a school of ancient philosophy? Beersophia? Surely you have heard of this?



  42. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, but if I may suggest, the mere fact that you repeated the toilet rumour suggests to me that although the informer of this loo titbit of information has proven to be occasionally unreliable, you tend to believe that this time around there is a likelihood that the person may be correct.

    As a pragmatic bloke I do wonder how such employees navigate the exigencies of being human whilst say stuck in the cockpit of a bus, train, aircraft and having to work, whilst needing to go? Ooo. Not sure that I could hang on that long. And what if you have to spend a few minutes and have to leave passengers on the mode of transport? I’ll bet things were easier back in the day. Imagine a steam locomotive, and the thing is chugging along, and you’ve gotta go, possibly back in those days you could just do whatever needs doing and dump it out the side of the vehicle. But nowadays? I dunno. Some of those machines have dead man buttons that have to be pressed at regular intervals otherwise the whole machine comes to a screeching halt. Ah, the English rail forums have provided all the answers – it’s something of a real problem which has been discussed at length.

    All this talk and I had to take a break to take all of the fluffies outside to do their business.

    Had intended to have a pottering around the property kind of day. There’s been a bit of rain, two and a half inches to be precise and two of the water tanks connected to the new shed were almost full this morning. They weren’t like that yesterday! So the quiet pottering around day idea got ditched and instead I connected up all of the water tanks together so that the water levels equalised. Used one inch pipe this time instead of the usual three quarter inch pipe because I intend to add a much bigger water pump which will run at least three bush fire sprinklers down in the paddock – plus water the new yet to be constructed massive vegetable bed.

    Ah, surely we must be speaking of the poet Frank O’Hara? I have not heard of this character before. If I may add:
    in a sense we’re all winning
    we’re alive.

    I enjoyed the poets words and he speaks of many things that that city is not, thus the shock.
    With the Babaco, mate I have utterly no idea and am just giving it the good Aussie go. It may be an utter failure, but until I can put the plant to the test… The shrub will be in the greenhouse and as such the parrots won’t be able to get at the tasty fruit. For your interest, the four American paw paws which I grew from seed, have grown rather well in the past year.

    That was my issue with green bananas, and I’m not much of a fan of the starchy taste. I mentioned to you years ago that I scored some red bananas from a market stall, and they were so good tasting. My mates of the big shed fame could probably get them growing as their shed height is quite high, but they might not want to do so.

    The money issue is also a consideration with farmers markets. Tell you what, I had a plan B commercial orchard about an hours drive north of here which produced delightful sun ripened fruits. The owners appear to have leased out their orchard and the folks running the place have gone super local – from my perspective. It’s funny how you rely on things until they’re no longer available, and then you go off and do something else.

    Thanks for mentioning the film and it is on the to-see list. Although it was released a few years ago now, you’ve reminded me that we have not been to the cinema now for many months.

    I agree and there is sometimes a correlation between bizarre behaviour and genius. It is possible that such folks push the boundaries on our behalf? And not much of an ego suggests to me that possibly he races his own race, and sets his own goals.

    Sorry about that, yes credit to DJ for the killer rabbit down from the ages source. Couldn’t you see yourself drawing such critters?

    Something will have to give. Brent Crude is $118 and WTI is $115 as I pen this missive. The Editor has made the suggestion that the more usual annual flu death cycle will get caught up in the health subject which dare not be named hysteria. And thus the narrative may get prolonged. It’s only a guess, but sooner or later fuel will be rationed. I do wonder about this subject when I look around and observe all of the huge vehicles on the roads these days. As a kid, vehicles were far smaller.

    Hehe! Yeah forgot to do that with the trigger warning… Bummer. The other person was triggered and clearly had some weird notion that I flayed cats as a hobby. When I was a young kid, people used to say that old saying, but it doesn’t mean that they did the act. The words had a different meaning than their literal equivalent. Thus has our societies education slipped in recent decades. Now we must speak more plainly. Ah, the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain. Let’s see them figure that one out!!!!

    The Editor has recounted that alarming proposition by the author of the Handsmaid tales. Aren’t we an ingenious bunch? Of course, a cursory use of logic suggests that the elements were not previously combined. One must be careful of words lest they get turned into a how-to manual, like say the book ‘1984’.

    Some complaints are problems to be solved, some are problems to be listened to. I suspect that particular problem falls into the second category. You have to be careful lest it gives you anxiety. Always possible, and in my younger years I do recall being influenced by another persons emotional state.

    In days of yore, Elinor’s family would have had to perform the job of caregiver. That would be the expectation, and my gut feeling suggests that some situations were sorted out – sorry to say, but I do blame Norah Lofts intriguing book ‘A wayside tavern’. Practical folks and they often employed err, practical solutions to problems.



  43. Chris:

    Mr. Diggedy – I like that!

    The property is being thinned at this moment.

    Tell me about homeless seedlings . . . I have a whole bunch of tomato and pepper seedlings growing right now in the room of the 600 baby fig trees. I guess that means they’re not homeless.

    More rain – and you used to worry about having enough water.
    Of course, next you won’t have enough water. Makes me thirsty. No pub for me, though . . .

    Just read a synopsis of A Wayside Tavern (I think maybe someone here recommended it?). It sounds good, but what on earth do you do about the cover if you carry it to the pub with you?


  44. Chris:

    Okay, I have ordered a really cheap used hardcover copy of A Wayside Tavern. I share most books with my mother and hardcovers have bigger print. Also, she would love the paperback cover, but might be disappointed when it doesn’t live up to the lurid portrayal there (as mentioned by reviewers; no-one liked the cover).


  45. Chris;

    I noticed in your comment to Lewis about Elinor’s caregiver problem that you mentioned that sometimes toughness is needed, which boils down to practicality (correct me if I got that wrong). We have found that it is regretfully so, as my father has very little short term memory and thus cannot follow safety rules. Some times repetition over months gets something through, sometimes we just have to be quite stern, and he cannot be allowed in some areas at certain times, like always being in the way while I am cooking.


  46. Yo, Chris – Well, the person who floated the rumor, I often refer to as mealy mouthed, our local religious fanatic who wears her salvation on her sleeve. She also believes that there are spy cams in our smoke detectors, and that somebody sneaks into her apartment and puts sawdust in the bottom of her cereal boxes. Not to be confused with the other resident who’s very concerned with chem trails, and thinks the Holocaust didn’t happen. Both part of what I refer to, around here, as the tin foil hat brigade.

    Exigencies. Well, any empty coffee can will do. Or a pop bottle, if your aim is good. For my self produced liquid nitrogen, I prefer an empty gallon vinegar jug. I think I’ll pass on the English rail forums. The English are quit serious about their trains.

    Gotta have your water levels equalized. It’s something called planning ahead. Something that seems in short supply, these days.

    Frank O’Hara is sometimes called a “city poet.” I think I like him as he inhabited the long gone New York City, that I am somehow enamored with. A place I’ve never been. I have a couple of biographies of him, kicking around. Oh, the people he knew!

    Might as well give the Babaco a spin. Throw it in the ground and see if it grows. Which I suppose is the terrestrial form of throwing it in the moat and seeing if it floats. People seem to think I know what I’m doing in the garden. Wrong. It’s a certain amount of curiosity and risk taking. But not as risky as say, skydiving.

    According to “Eating to Extinction” there are many varieties of banana. A quick dive down the rabbit hold says over 1,000. But what do we do? We grow one mono crop. There may be a variety out there, that’s resistant to rust, and is as tasty, or tastier than what we’ve got on offer. If someone notices before it’s ripped out and the ground turned into a palm oil plantation, or something.

    There is a certain segment of the population that wants smaller, simpler vehicles. Fringe now, but what did Mr. Greer say about the fringe moving toward the center? Bring back the VW bug, but don’t tart it up with computer this and that.

    You’ve obviously been out in the sun, too long. “The rain, in Spain?” A musical reference? Put a damp cloth on your forehead and lay in a darkened room, for awhile. It will pass.

    I’m quit enjoying the Margaret Atwood essays. Not only is she a cleaver old bird, but she’s funny! I stopped by the library, this morning, and picked up a new book. “The Madman’s Library: The Strangest Books, Manuscripts and Other Literary Curiosities from History.” (Hitching, 2020). Looks like a lot of fun. Lavishly illustrated.

    Elinor seemed a lot better, last night. They upped one of her meds. She doesn’t like taking pills, not even aspirin, which I understand. I’m the same way. But sometimes, it’s necessary. And at 94, what’s the harm.

    In an exchange of e-mails with my mate Scott, I told him I was glad his knee was getting better, so we didn’t have to take him out to the curb and put him down. He took exception, to that. I replied that there was always the ice flow. Lasts longer, but in the long run, probably kinder and gentler. Lew

  47. @ Margaret:

    I am loving Natural Causes by Barbara Ehrenreich. All this talk of death – in the way that she so prosaically discusses it – calms me. I think it’s because she makes death so much a part of life.


  48. Hi Pam,

    Being a caregiver is a huge responsibility, and it would be doubly hard if the person being cared for has declined mentally, however physically they’re still going strong. If I were in your situation, you’d be hearing me say: Get out (and secretly hoping the person did so). There’s no easy way around what you described.

    I too felt that like the reviewers, the cover of the book did not in fact match the contents of the book. In fact the cover illustrated an earlier incident in the book and had little to do with the remainder of the contents. Still the cover was not as lurid as some of the pulp sci-fi books I own which date back to the 1950’s and 1960’s – racey times! 🙂 Hey, the fortunate thing with hard cover books is that the dust jacket can be removed, and that saves you and I a whole lot of trigger warnings for more delicate sensibilities! I’ll be very curious to hear what you have to say about the book and it astounds me that any one family could produce so many differing personalities.

    Wise to thin, and it’s the same with vegetables (or any plants for that matter) – they don’t like being over crowded. Which I suspect is at the core of peoples concerns for weeding – or overly grassy orchards (guilty). The largest and oldest trees here have responded very well to giving them a bit more room – they look far healthier than they were when first arrived.

    Hehe! Good luck with the seedlings, and I hope that there is at least the semblance of a plan.

    It rained again here today. A truly filthy day of weather. Cold + 100% humidity + drizzle. It was no day to be outside, and even the wood heater was kicked off. It is possible that the season has turned – sometimes you can feel that change. Hopefully things have warmed up in your part of the world?

    I don’t read at the pub – only at cafes when lingering over a coffee. It’s a very civilised activity. 🙂 The pub is for eating, drinking and yakking. Don’t mind a bit of yakking…



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, it is always very juicy to speculate about the sort of former (or present) activities which the overly noisy pious indulge in when they think nobody is looking. Like overly huge vehicles, people are trying to make up for something. It is possible that they forget that it’s not other people they should be proselytising at, but rather whatever god they are attempting to curry favour with. As an historical observation, things didn’t work out so well for the Ancient Greeks and Romans (among many other ancient peoples) on that front.

    Fairy dust and chem trails seems like a harmless enough concern, but I don’t get the holocaust denier mindset. People can believe what they want, but there is the not minor issue of repeating history when it is blithely ignored. From what I’ve observed of the human condition, there will always be people around who for whatever reason, will push the button. They’re out there for sure.

    On the other hand censoring, censuring and out right gagging which is going on in a small and noisy section of the community right now looks kind of weird, and it might I’m guessing in fact have the opposite effect than what was intended. There’s a really weird attempt to take control of the communal conversation – the problem I see is that what the media and other authority heads are wanting to talk about doesn’t quite align with the interests and concerns of the broader community. Far right, or far left groups for that matter, represent only a fairly small percentage of the community – despite what may be claimed.

    Hehe! That was my impression too. Lovely folks. The forums discussed the problem earnestly and even took the time to discuss several different scenarios.

    It’s possible that I’ll have to add one or two extra small water tanks to the present arrangements attached to the new shed. The shed and yet to be constructed greenhouse are somewhat larger than what I initially planned for, and anyway, the extra water supplies stored won’t hurt in drier years. We plan ahead as far as our imaginations allow us, but we also allow room for expansion of systems as the need arises. A larger vegetable patch might not be of great import this year, but soon things may change.

    This year however, has not been a dry year. Three inches of rain over the past few days. As you’d imagine, conditions are rather damp outside right now. Unpleasantly damp. Plans were quietly ditched this morning due to thick fog, high humidity, drizzle and winter like conditions. Awful, so we did nothing of any great importance. Continued reading Norah Lofts with the wood heater going and a Kelpie by my side. This relaxing thing is all very pleasant.

    From what I read, the poet wrote about the world he inhabited and what he observed and experienced. It’s likely that things were different back then, and my gut feeling suggests that the world then was a much wider place with greater risks, but more opportunities. And far out, who just kind of hangs around with Edward Gorey?

    Exactly, most often here I feed the plants appropriately and protect them from the worst of the elements, and then hope for the best. Each plant has it’s own particular story from seed then back to seed again, and if you can manage to work with that, it saves a lot of trouble. We’re finding that with the kale in that the slightly tastier variety is not well suited to the farm, so we’ve just kind of let it go and focus efforts on the variety that does well.

    That’s the risk with plants, isn’t it? But then I have this odd notion that society grows the plants they do, because they’re probably the best which nature has to offer given the bonkers conditions we set out for the plants. It’s not as if people haven’t been putting concentrated effort into plant breeding for millennia. We might have missed one or two plants, but it is equally possible we haven’t. The main game in town now is to take the ones we do grow and bring them back to their landrace forms. It’s not a complicated problem, it just doesn’t make that much economic sense to do so – land is expensive so setting aside productive land for seed raising is an economically challenging concept.

    Count me in on smaller and simpler vehicles. We really could use the technology we have to make them as reliable and efficient as possible – but we might not do that.

    Hehe! That book does sound like fun. It’s funny that you mention strange books and essays…

    I had to look up what you meant by the ice floes. Ook! Surely Scott understands your sense of humour by now? 🙂 Historically the practice was quite err, wide spread, thus proving that as a species we are a pragmatic bunch despite protestations to the contrary.

    Better get writing.



  50. @Pam
    I’m so glad you’re enjoying the book. It’s been awhile since I read it. I had lent it to my sister some time ago and she recently returned it.

    I can relate to your description of your father. The situation was similar when Doug’s parents were living with us. We had to put a lock on the thermostat as he was constantly turning the temperature up.

    Taking the bean residue off chicken wire would be quite the job. I have been using the plastic coated garden fencing but the tallest is only 4 ft. These pieces of chain link are at least six feet tall.


  51. Yo, Chris – I’ll make a couple of comments about paperback covers, tomorrow. So as not to get lost in the shuffle between this week and next. 🙂

    …that one family could produce so many different personalities. Or that one writer could so convincingly write them.

    I often wonder what my Dad would have thought about holocaust deniers. Given (as I think I mentioned, a long time ago) he was in the US Army, and at the liberation of Buchenwald. I can only remember him talking about it, once or twice.

    Yup. Left or right it seems to be “a small vocal minority” that keeps things churned up. Back in the day, that lot were pretty much confined to Speaker’s Corner, in Hyde Park. Now everything is amplified, by the net.

    Sometimes, a weather induced day off is a good thing. Mother Nature telling you to slow down. But then, there are outside things to do and inside things to do. But, as you’re at the season change, it’s not a bad thing to kick back, take stock, and lay plans.

    There seem to be times and places where interesting people gather, and feed off each other’s genius. I’ve always found these nexus of creativity very interesting. What conditions create them? Etc..

    It’s been interesting to trial this and that plant. In my case, a good bit of selection involves yield vs space. And what might produce a good crop, given our climate. I spent a bit of time puttering about in the garden, yesterday. Day before yesterday, I stopped by a place to check out the bags of soil, Elinor wanted. It was half the price what the local hardware store had on offer. So, after checking with Elinor, I went back yesterday morning, to make the buy. The huge stack of bags of the stuff had been reduced to 5 bags. I grabbed two, which is how many she wanted. So, I spread those in her raised bed. And did a bit of weeding in and around that bed. Could probably use two more. Then I cut out some walnut volunteers, that had appeared, here and there. Ended up weeding a bed that isn’t even mine, before things got out of control. Maybe tomorrow I can spend time on MY beds? 🙂

    Oh, yeah. Scott “gets” my sense of humor. Though sometimes I leave him gasping. 🙂 Lew

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