Do I wanna know?

Sometimes you get caught up in the day to day. You don’t or can’t see the bigger picture. You get bogged down in the detail. It happens to the best of us. The other day I read an amusing joke related to this problem. A very serious looking bloke was interviewing a young lady, and the caption was: “Where do you see yourself in five years?” It’s a commonly enough asked question. The response was pretty funny though: “Honestly, I’m just trying to make it to next week.” Nowadays, society kind of looks like that to me. And everyone seems to be in a high state of emotion.

If you read the news (or skim the headlines like I do), you get a feeling that there’s a heap of things going wrong right now. It happens. Speaking of going wrong: for a few months now I’ve been trying to get some spare parts for the wood heater. We’ve got plenty of firewood. Far out, there’s no shortage of trees here, and they seem to grow pretty fast. It’s a good local resource. So firewood’s the most economic source of heating fuel for the house. And unlike the solar hot water system, it produces hot water when the sun is not shining.

But getting spare parts recently for the wood heater has been a bit of a nightmare. The units are manufactured locally, but does that mean they’re actually made locally from raw materials, or merely assembled down under. I don’t really know. All I know is that I’m having trouble getting spare parts for the unit.

At least if things get bad enough I can simply get a metal fabricator to produce the spare parts. However, that isn’t the only supply issue I’m facing, or hearing about elsewhere for that matter. I’m beginning to wonder if the land of stuff is throttling the supply of stuff. News out of that land is thin on the ground, but you do hear that entire cities are getting shut down due to the health subject which dares not be named. Whatever the case, the outcome is that there is less stuff being sent our way.

The other day I was at the petrol station (gas station). I was quietly grateful that we were filling up a very small and efficient vehicle. Petrol now costs $2.20 per litre ($8.36 per gallon). This is as high a price as I’ve ever seen. I don’t rightly know how people with much larger vehicles can afford to run them.

Unleaded Petrol at $2.20 per litre. Whoo Whee, that’s expensive!

Oil’s another thorny issue. But if you forget about all the screaming, horror and high emotive stuff in the media, it ends up being just another supply issue.

Basic economic theory suggests that if demand exceeds supply, then prices will rise. And they’ll continue to rise until the excess demand is crushed. Unfortunately, oil underlies everything that we do in our civilisation from putting food on the table, to keeping a roof over your head. And you don’t need to be Einstein to understand that if the price of oil goes up, then the cost of everything will also go up. It’s a serious problem for sure. I’m not necessarily sanguine that the problem is being handled well by the folks in charge of such things.

When I was a young bloke, manufacturing was a big thing in this state. Back in those days, I worked as a manufacturing accountant. I could bore the daylights out of readers with stories of standard costing models and the sheer dread of monthly unders and overs, but I won’t do that. Instead I can recall that the people in authority back then told us we were the lucky country, and that we’d be the clever country. That is when they weren’t berating us for also being a banana republic. And so a bit under three decades ago, manufacturing was shipped off shore. I watched it happen and accounted for the sale of a few of those machines as they were shipped overseas. It never made much sense to me, but people seemed to want more stuff, and cheaper.

And so here we are today, where for the first time we’re facing a shortage of stuff. There was an article in the news the other day decrying that the peoples holidays would be ruined because of all of this. If that was the worst outcome, it wouldn’t be too bad. The thing is though, in order to have a consumer economy, you have to have the stuff for consumers to purchase. And if they don’t make the stuff themselves, it’s a problem. Essentially it is the great weakness of a consumer society. The other countries supplying consumer societies with stuff would most certainly also know this, and I doubt very much that they would have acted as they are doing now, had they not thought that they’d get away with it – as I suspect that they will.

Almost two years ago now, Sandra and I purchased a custom made bathroom cabinet from a cabinet maker. A builder had ordered the cabinet and then promptly went out of business. The heavy Japan Black cabinet was constructed out of Karri (Eucalyptus diversicolor) hardwood with a black stone bench top. Light almost falls into the cabinet, and it is just a very well made unit.

About a year ago we removed the existing bathroom cabinet and connected the new cabinet up and used it. But we’d never finished off the installation properly. There were holes in the wall and no splash-back. We’ve been busy…

Light falls into the Japan Black bathroom cabinet

This week we began the fiddly process of finishing off the installation of the cabinet. The tap (spigot) had to be rehung, the plastering installed and joined, and the skirting boards reconstructed. But mostly we had to ensure that the entire arrangement could be inspected and repairable – no easy feat. It is nice to have a little bit of free time nowadays to do these other projects calling for our attention.

The bathroom cabinet installation moved along this week

It’s been a very cold and damp summer here, and the tomatoes didn’t look as if they would get enough sun for the huge quantity of green fruit to ripen. So, we neglected the tomatoes and failed to fence the sprawling vines – and like the Triffids they are, the vines tried to take over.

Tomato vines have taken over

This week we hacked and slashed and beat the tomato vines back to a more manageable size. We still don’t know if the remaining green fruit will ripen, but we do know that next year the tomato vines will hopefully be planted in the sunniest spot on the property.

For three years we’ve grown tomatoes at that location on the property. The second and third years have both been wet and cool summers and the tomatoes have failed. There is no sign of disease in the plants, and in fact they are growing vigorously. The difference between these years and the first year was the heat. The first year was the year of the Black Summer bushfires. There was so much heat that year that you could plant the tomatoes in the deepest shade and they still would have produced ripe fruit. This year, that is not possible. And so change is called for.

Order has been restored to the chaos and Plum approves!

The Great Relocalisation is continuing, and we’ve been visiting some of the interesting historical things to see around this area. This week we decided to check out an artificial waterfall along the Main Coliban Channel. The Main Coliban Channel was constructed in the 1860’s and 1870’s, and it takes water from a nearby reservoir and sends it north to the goldfields towns of Castlemaine and Bendigo. By the way, the waterfall is genuinely in the middle of nowhere and it was rather difficult to find.

An artificial waterfall in the Main Coliban Channel

The channel meanders its way through diverse country, and I believe the entire systems runs on gravity. It’s quite the achievement given it is a bit over 70km (43 miles) in length.

The channel snakes through dry open forest

We didn’t make it to the end point of the channel because the beginning is much closer to the farm and a nearby bakery sells very tasty Hot Cross Buns.

Near to the reservoir outlet

Observant readers will note in the above photo that the water to the left, runs into the channel, whilst the water on the right runs into the local Coliban river. It’s a very clever arrangement.

As we head closer to winter, the days get shorter and the stick insects appear.

A very large stick insect stalks around the house

It looks as though the raspberries may produce a smaller Autumn crop. Yum!

The raspberry canes are producing a small Autumn crop

Despite the cool and damp summer, a pomegranate plant has produced a tiny fruit.

A smallish pomegranate fruit

Onto the flowers:

Salvia’s grow very well here and produce lovely flowers
Nasturtiums are beginning to produce more flowers
This Rose produces highly coloured flowers
This Flowering Eucalyptus is a real stunner

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 209.0mm (8.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 201.0mm (7.9 inches)

44 thoughts on “Do I wanna know?”

  1. Yo, Chris – Do you wanna know? Well, forewarned is forearmed. As long as one can figure out what you can achieve, and what you can’t. Your stove parts is a pretty good example. It’s a problem, but, you’ve got a plan A, and plan B. One way or another, it will get sorted. Peace in our time? Probably not worth dwelling on.

    Well, oil. I saw this, the other day.

    Read it or not, I care not. But one thing I noticed is that it (finally) pointed out, that just because we produce oil, here, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s going to stay here. Something people ignore or the powers that be, gloss over. That stuff is going to go to the highest bidder. I suppose the oil industry could be nationalized, but I doubt that will happen. Until it’s too late.

    The bathroom cabinet really is a fiddly job. Best take it slow, with frequent breaks for hot cross buns. 🙂 .

    Hard to tell from the back, but something in Olie’s stance seems to say, “I’m not going in there.”

    The Main Colaban Channel, is quit pretty. Looks like it would be an ideal spot for a small hydroelectric unit.

    The walking stick insects are so fascinating. I can’t say I’ve ever seen one, but as near as I can figure out, they do live in this part of the world. They like oak leaves, and we certainly have enough oak trees, up behind the Institution.

    The salvia is very pretty and reminded me that I noticed, yesterday, that our venerable old rosemary is beginning to bloom. It was severely pruned back by the Master Gardeners, last year.

    I expect our nasturtiums, to put in an appearance, any time now. As the plant catalogues proclaim, your roses are a riot of colors.

    Somehow, your eucalyptus remind me of rhodies. I think it’s the leaves, and the way the flowers cluster. And what is that in the background, off to the right? Triffid in disguise? I thought it might be a foxglove, but closer inspection with my magnifying glass says, probably not.

    And, from the wonderful world of archaeology … saw an article that reminded me of something else I saw at the Imperial Tombs of China, exhibit. One or two jade suits.

    That’s a lot of bling to be dragging into the afterlife. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    That’s my thinking too. Have a plan A, B, C, and when they all fail, just do your best. How many plans survive engagement with the forces that be, anyway? Thinking about the wood heater, if I’ve got to get the part made up by a fabricator, I could be tempted to use stainless steel which is more resistant to higher temperatures. The stupid thing about all this is that we have the technology to make the wood heaters last a very long time, but I can’t seem to find anyone doing that. It probably doesn’t make a lot of economic sense, but it is probably a lower hassle option.

    Wow. The Atlantic article on oil made little sense to me. Probably something to do with my understanding of the matter. I respect their opinions, but it just don’t make no sense. Just for one minor quibble: Oil from fracking is not the same thing as heavy oils required for transport. And that was a minor quibble – there were other larger quibbles, but it ain’t my job to correct their thinking. The unfortunate side effect of suggesting that this is some sort of political debacle and if we just get the right people in with the right policies it’ll all be fixed – is that the opinion increases the level of crazy in your country. Sorry, mate. We’re in the poop even deeper down here. There are hard limits imposed upon us by nature, our technology and economic realities. I dunno.

    I can report that the hot cross bun was most excellent. Curiously I’m noting a distinct lack of supply of quality hot cross buns this year. We’re under a month out from Easter too.

    Hehe! Ollie is most wise in this instance. The two Kelpies love nothing more than hunting whatever is lurking in that tomato greenery. Ruby particularly ends up with an odd green hue to her coat. The whole thing didn’t work well, so removed it was.

    I was also wondering about the hydro electric potential of the channel, but then gravity has to take the water a very long way and perhaps the additional friction from the hydro might not be worth the cost? Dunno. The hydro set ups I’ve seen over the years usually incorporate a rather large drop in height for the water. I believe household water pressure is the equivalent of a 70m / 230ft drop. Water pumps strangely use very little electricity, so I’ve always assumed that the reverse is true in that a small hydro generator won’t produce much electricity? Dunno. Don’t know much about the hydro side of the technology.

    The Australian Museum has a great short article on stick insects: Care of Stick Insects. Basically they eat leaves.

    Isn’t rosemary a super tough plant? I find myself munching on the leaves from time to time. And they’re always just the thing for a proper roast lamb. Yum! Mind you, I have not cooked roast lamb for a very long time.

    Spare a thought for the poor roses. The tomato vines had clambered over a few of the roses, and I can’t say that the roses appreciated the close contact. They look a bit sickly now, but hopefully will bounce back into life. Note to self: next year, fence off the tomato vines. And hopefully we are not this busy again. We’re slowly catching up on things, which is something of a relief.

    The flowering gum was a Eucalyptus Ficfolia / Corymbia ficifolia. There surely is a reason as to why the Latin name has changed, but it is probably best not to get into the arguments of botanists. A feisty bunch. The plant to the right is a Geranium. And the chicken wire cage protects a large flowering cherry from the wallabies.

    The jade suits would have beggared the kingdom what with the silver and/or gold thread. The article was fascinating and for sure tomb robbers would have been waiting for just the right opportunity. That’s the point isn’t it? Do you want to have to drag all that unnecessary stuff around? Probably – what a burden. Did you ever sort out the green burial thing? I’d prefer to be cremated, that way if they stuff it up I don’t wake up to find myself underground. Like that horrific and super creepy French film: The Vanishing. I wouldn’t have thought about that happening which just goes to prove that you have to be careful with the sort of films you watch. Plus, turning into an undead is not possible when cremated. See the benefits?

    Doug the potato is an impostor!!!! Hehe! Whatever, Doug is still a very impressive beastie. I wonder if a Gourd tuber is even edible? You guys have super sized pumpkins in your part of the world, so it is possible that growers in your country may also be producing some huge tubers to go with the huge fruits? The indefatigable gardeners still made some noises about converting the starches into sugars…

    Any bodies dug up from the 6th century AD are probably likely to be far from fresh. 🙂 A bit on the earthy side I’d have to suggest! Yeah. Most people are pretty good on that hygiene front, although from time to time you do encounter an outlier. What annoys me more is people who are overly liberal with perfume or after shave. The stuff sets my sinuses on edge. Yuk!

    Can’t be helped. People can use whatever they want to describe the time change marker, it doesn’t bother me. But yeah, I sort of believe that the pandering issue is only possible when there is excess wealth to squander on the matter. I was pretty broke during the recession of the early 1990’s and a touch fearful of losing the debt collection work I was doing. From hindsight, I probably didn’t need to be fearful because nobody else wanted to do the work, but 10% unemployment kind of focuses your mind on the problems at hand, and such esoteric matters don’t really have all that great a meaning. I hadn’t heard that about the eye roll, but it makes sense. Funnily enough it is a mannerism that is not part of my repertoire. I’ve noted that the eye roll can really annoy some people, so best if they keep their emotions on a short leash and don’t poke them. Did the book discuss the origins of the mannerism – or at least speculate upon the origins?

    Hehe! Of course the delivery charges have to do with the price of oil! 🙂 Very funny. I see notes from transport companies to their clients discussing how much fuel levy they’re about to charge. And international freight charges are bonkers. I noticed that prices for oil are on the up today. Around and around it goes, and where it stops, nobody knows.

    What? Vanilla slice is either a national dish or a national treasure or something like that. Glad you’re enjoying the book. The agricultural shows are something that I rather enjoy. I always get ideas from visiting them or see some product I end up drooling over. I’d enjoying poking through your food book collection. Still reading Straight and Crooked Thinking, and it’s a very useful book. Dunno what I’ll read next, but maybe a work of fiction might fit the requirements?

    Hmm. An excellent idea. Of course, Mr Katz is da man when it comes to fermentation.

    My brain is struggling to come to terms with a sandwich out of a vending machine. On the other hand, the Harvest Chili sounds pretty tasty to me. Exactly, the stuff is just asking to be served with rice. How did it taste – did it meet expectations?

    I don’t buy fresh pineapples any more either. The things were too green for my tastes.

    Respect for the neat and tidy efforts with the food counter at the Club. Is the newer digs working out Ok with the Club? Glad you’re not at Yard Birds now.

    Hehe! Yes, always wise to keep a safe distance from reckless people wielding sharp implements. Do you know, I believe that blueberries grow faster in your part of the world than here. The ones here are not displaying any signs of over crowding branches. I have to net the berries so as to keep off the hungry parrots. This year there just wasn’t all that much fruit to go around. Right now we’ve got loads of Chilean Guavas which are actually pretty tasty.



  3. Hello Chris
    Haven’t read this weeks blog yet. Honorary son is visiting from the US for a few days, this leaves me no spare time as plus feeding him, it is non-stop conversation. Fortunately I don’t have room to put anyone up so can recover a bit. All very enjoyable actually, I enjoy his high intelligence.


  4. Yo, Chris – “They don’t make them like they used to” or, things were better (or at least better made) in the “good ol’ days.” There are still wood heaters and stoves, kicking around, from the Victorian period or early 20th century. Or, consider Roman roads. Although I don’t know how they’d hold up to modern traffic. And they did have constant maintenance. Usually, provided by the army. Got to keep those squaddies busy! 🙂

    Traditionally, hot cross buns were a Good Friday thing. And, it is a ways to Easter. Almond milk has vanished from our local store, for about a week. I don’t know if it’s a spot problem, or widespread.

    I’m sure I’ve mentioned it before, but the Yelm Hydro Plant (built in 1903) furnishes quit a bit of power to the City of Centralia. There’s occasional loose talk about selling it off, but the forces of privatization have been beaten back. So far.

    That was a fascinating article on the stick insects. I seem to remember quit a few grade school “science” projects. Animals and insects in the classroom. I don’t remember stick insects, but I do remember silk worms. And frogs eggs and chick hatching. I wonder if they still do that?

    Roses and tomatoes are supposed to be good companion plants. Keeps the black spot off the roses. Planting garlic or onions around roses is also supposed to be beneficial.

    Dug was sampled by a couple of people, and tasted like a potato. At least he didn’t taste like chicken 🙂 .

    Ah, yes. The outliers. We have an old fellow who comes to the Club. His knick name is Stinky Bill. You don’t want to get downwind, from him. 🙂 I’m in perfect agreement about the perfumes. I’m not allergic, to all of them. A couple I find quit nice. But I got a whiff of something at the grocery, the other night, that made my eyes water.

    More than you’ve ever wanted to know about eye rolling …

    “The Dawn of Everything” also has an interesting concept I’d never heard of, before. “Schismogenesis.” In anthropology, it’s the theory that cultures and societies define themselves by what they reject. “We’re not like those people because…” It’s also applied to one on one relationships, but that gets pretty murky. Marriage counseling, and such.

    Won’t be able to solve the vanilla slice conundrum, until I run down a copy of the first book. Haven’t tried the Harvest Chili, yet. Maybe tonight.

    I’m neurotic about a few things, and the food pantry organization, is one of them. We have someone (or, someones) who open up stuff. That’s got to be tossed. Would you eat out of an open box of cereal or pasta? Luckily, it doesn’t happen too often. Then there’s the occasional plastic bag of mystery powders.

    It’s odd about the blueberries, here at the Institution. Birds don’t seem to be a problem. But I did have to net the strawberries and currents. Lew

  5. Chris,

    The bathroom cabinet project is looking good. I’m glad you explained it. Otherwise, I would’ve thought that you were using the mirror to take “selfies”. 😉

    Ah yes, that naughty word “inflation” is happening. The large jug of roasted unsalted mixed nuts that we enjoy used to cost $10. Then $11 last April, which quickly increased to $12 last October. I bought a jug in February at $12. This week it is $16. And a Big Mac, large French fry and a large coffee at McDonalds is $12. (Don’t ask why I ate one of those the other day. Desperation leads to weird results.) So, things are getting pricey. The Princess has the evening news on, and they were just talking about “shrinkflation”. So now they have a term for when the price for a box of widgets remains the same, but there are less widgets per box.

    It’s a good thing you cut back those tomato vines. I keep looking at that picture of the overgrown tomato patch, and I’m certain that I see some tomato tentacles reaching for your neck. That might explain Ollie appearing reluctant to enter the area.

    I was reading a martial arts blog earlier, as the author had just posted a new article. One paragraph reminded me of you and how you feel about musicals.
    Quote from Ken Gullette’s Martial Arts Blog: When I hear the term “defending yourself on the street” I think of two gangs colliding for a brawl with sticks, chains and brass knuckles. Like “West Side Story” without all the dancing and singing. Let’s face it, if your gang runs around singing and dancing, you might deserve to be beaten up.

    Yup, I think he summed that one up. But need it be limited to gangs that suddenly burst out singing and dancing? It has more universal applications, perhaps? 😉

    Thanks for the Coliban photos. The scenery looked enjoyable. I’ve paddled canoes through similar type of things and found the unique scenery to be worth the effort.

    I heard a loud noise the other morning. It was the crows. Not just a few, either, but maybe about 3 dozen chasing a hawk around. Again, the hawk acted rather unperturbed. There are several of these sharp-shinned hawks in the area. Avalanche and I normally see at least one on our daily walk.

    Lest you forgot, which I’m sure you didn’t, a group of crows is called a murder of crows. This leads me to ask 2 questions. First, what do you call a gathering of only 2 crows? Answer: attempted murder. Several of the local murders of crows, about 12 to 18 members each, congregate together at night. I’ve seen up to maybe 150 crows roosting together. Which leads to the second question: wouldn’t such a large group of crows be mass murder? Questions such as these torment me. Not so much what the questions are, but more why and how did my mind come up with questions like these?!?

    My mother used to bake hot cross buns each year around Easter. The first time she baked them, my younger sister (about 4 or 5 years old at the time) asked, “Mom, what made these hot buns angry? Why did you bake angry buns?”

    Today was a raw, nasty day outside. +2C with a “wintry mix”, aka rain and snow and whatever, for most of the morning. Welcome to spring.

    Spectacular eucalyptus! Thanks for sharing the photo.


  6. Hi DJ,

    You’re an astute observer, because most of the photos on the blog aren’t selfies. The camera angles on selfies just doesn’t appeal to my mind – you can turn the camera around and show other people a part of the world that you see! You can have some fun with mirror photography. When I was a kid there used to be an amusement park which had distorted mirrors which would produce some very unusual reflections such as a massive alien like head on a skinny body – probably explains the aliens in Close Encounters of the Third Kind… 🙂

    Inflation is going off like a frog in a sock here too. Food is definitely on the up. Plant that garden my friend. Actually, what were you doing at that place? So many questions, so few answers. Had a gourmet burger this evening, and not suggesting that it was a superior eat, but if I were a betting man, I reckon I would have won that round. Speaking of nuts, do you buy your nuts and grains in bulk? It might not be a bad idea – most of them store pretty well.

    And shrinkflation is also going on here too, plus the dreaded crapification. There are a few easy solutions out of that mess, and purchasing second hand well maintained quality items is not a bad way to navigate that mess. Or just stump the mad cash for quality stuff now. Not all the stuff being made now is of low quality, but some of it is made not to be repaired and I dunno about your opinion in this, but some stuff is on the wrong side of the complexity continuum.

    I did say that you have a keen eye, and both you and Lewis noticed Ollie’s reticence at venturing into the tomato patch. It’s scary in there. A rat was using the thick vines for cover and the Kelpie girls loved chasing that rat. The arrangement was a disaster, but we’ll do better next summer.

    Ken may be an older fella than I, but mate he’d kick me hard… Best not to upset him with such loose talk of mixing musicals and street fights, so I have to tread warily here and say that the singing and dancing street gangs had it coming. And he really did say that too. Nice one and the bloke has a lovely outlook on the world: when trouble is brewing, be elsewhere.

    I didn’t get a chance to show it, but at some points on the channel, the water went through a hard right angle change in direction. The brick and stone work for that was impressive. I’ll see if I can rustle up a photo:

    It’s a high res image so it may be clickable.

    Go the crows! Keeping the air safe. Those crow jokes are a groaner… Thanks for the laughs. Clearly you have a mercurial mind – respect!

    Oh no, not the hot grumpy buns! Hehe! Another groaner.

    Please keep your weather to yourself – it’ll be like that here sooner or later, and then I’ll be enjoying your stories of summer warmth vicariously. Today was 27’C here, but cooler in Melbourne (weirdly) and it’s now raining and socked in with thick fog. It’s very damp outside right now.

    Actually, it’s amazing that tree has survived here. The conditions in the south western part of the continent are very different with lots of sand and excellent drainage. Needless to say that I’ve killed a few of those eucalyptus trees before working out the exact right spot for them.

    I’m starting to feel like I’m getting on top of things. Phew, he says as he breathes out a sigh of relief.



  7. Hi Lewis,

    We’ve spoken about wood heaters before over the years, and they’re a good technology, but I dunno, the materials used nowadays just don’t seem to be fit for purpose. Unless of course the aim is to sell lots of wood heaters? I dunno. You’re right though, the older units are cast iron and they seem to last and last, but I suspect that they could be damaged by over firing. When I used to repair Victorian era houses, the fireplaces always had these really ornate cast iron inserts which sat into the brick chimneys. Lovely technology and I can’t ever recall one of them breaking, but had to replace a few that had been removed by former house owners. For some odd reason, it used to be a thing to remove them and board up the fireplace.

    Once had a fireplace which had a nest of yellow jacket wasps set up home in it. You could smell the sweet honey product they collected and stored, and with all the wasps around it was a relief to remove them from the chimney and clean the mess up. There are actually chimney sweeps still around, although they were pretty busy. The work they did was exceptionally clean too. Things were probably a bit different in Dicken’s day.

    Mate, I doubt even Rome in its heyday could afford to pay for and feed a large standing army that did perform double duties – such as civic works. Large standing armies are expensive to maintain. One of the things that has fascinated me about the Roman’s was what great engineers their armies were. Who can forget the fictional account of draining the lake where the skystone had fallen? It reminded me a bit about the Clint Eastwood film “Kelly’s Heroes”, where at one point the captain of the brigade spent most of his time working out how to pilfer a villagers large boat.

    Went into the big smoke today. For all the high cost of fuel, there seemed to be a lot of people still driving around, although the freeway was quieter. The city streets, not so much. Had a dinner this evening of gourmet burgers and chips. Yummo! It was nice to see more people out and about on the streets despite the rain.

    Yeah, it’s raining here again. What a year. And we’re socked in with thick fog too. Oh. Picked up the coffee grounds this morning, but have run out of agricultural lime, which I normally mix into it. Might have to stock up on that stuff.

    Not so here. Hot cross buns are available for weeks beforehand. It’s probably not cricket, ol’ chap, but hot cross buns are very tasty. Had one this morning which was pretty good. They have been rather thin on the ground here this year. It’s a bit of a bummer that they are, because we’ve eaten the last of the Anzac biscuits (where they covered in the book?) and I’ll have to bake another batch tomorrow.

    On the whole though, since I sacked that client, I’ve been slowly catching up on the necessary things which are needful to do to keep this place running smoothly. Things had gotten a little bit out of hand of late. You can’t face the world with a cool tool if your own house is not in order – well, that’s the theory anyway. You might have to face the world regardless, even if things are in a state of massive disarray! Happens to the best of us, as I’m sure has happened to you from time to time.

    That doesn’t surprise me about almond milk shortages. Somewhere I saw oat milk for sale. I’m dubious.

    Good to hear. Follow the money if ever that option gets pushed. Of course, what is happening here is that coal fired power stations appear to be closing earlier than anticipated. I’m not 100% certain, but I believe that as they near to the end of their economic lifespan, maintenance costs increase, as so economic viability becomes more of an issue. I do wonder at the idealists pursuit of green ideals. I like renewable energy technology and use it here, but you know, it’s not for everyone, but the idealists pretend that it is. And that’s a problem. Are coal powered generators getting shut down in your part of the world?

    You know, as to whether schools still do those sorts of hands on experiments, my gut feeling suggests that the answer is no. The problem might be that all of those experiments stand a chance of dying.

    I’d heard that about garlic as good companion plants, and some people use them in their orchards too. I’ve noticed that vineyards use roses at the end rows of grapes, and someone once told me that the roses serve a practical as well as an aesthetic purpose, but I now forget. One of the roses was smothered by the tomato vines, but I reckon it will bounce back with a little care and attention.

    Doesn’t everything end up tasting like chicken? 🙂

    Hang on, I’ve never heard of “The Hardy Boys” mysteries. What is this group? The article perhaps is drawing a long bow there with that claim (insert ironic eye roll). How can I be influenced by culture I had not been exposed to? Interestingly, I don’t believe that I use eye rolls to communicate – for reasons we discussed yesterday. Dunno, but I prefer dialogue over social games and status plays, so maybe something is wrong with me there… Do you use eye rolls to communicate feelings to other people?

    Actually people do define themselves by what they reject. Interestingly today someone was asking me why I could be friends with people who were unvaxxxed. Not sure how I feel about that question as it indicates to me that an odd narrative has somehow worked its way into the public mind, but let’s forget that. I responded with honesty and said, it really is their choice, and I like them and don’t have enough friends to end friendships over such a trivial matter. A lot of the times I work towards the core truth of a difficult subject, well the core truth as I see it.

    Did the Harvest Chili live up to expectations? I tell ya, the gourmet burger and chips sure did.

    Fair enough, you may note that there are things that we are also very neat and tidy about, and then there are things that are not shown on the blog. 🙂 I respect your sense of neat and order. And people can be a bit strange, so yeah probably not a good idea to allow people to delve into food stuffs and then just leave them for others. The Club might be blamed for the results of that mischief too.

    I can see netting with the strawberries, but the currants seem to be left alone here. The birds sure love the elderberries though.



  8. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. And I hope that you have a lovely time with your honorary (should that word have a u in it – I believe so) son and the stimulating discussions.

    It’s still raining here… Hope the gloom and murk has lifted for the visit?



  9. Hi Chris,

    One thing you might need to take some care with concerning the wood heater is matching the metal in the replacement part to the metal in the heater. By this I mean that they should be the exact same chemical composition, at least according to my understanding of oxidation and reduction. Unfortunately oxidation and reduction is not an area of chemistry that I was good in, but I do know that putting together two different metals in a reactive atmosphere can lead to a battery-like situation in which one of the metals oxidizes. I think the heater interior counts as such an atmosphere, and steel comes in a wide variety of chemical compositions. It’s possible that steels of two different chemical compositions could act like two different metals within the wood heater during use periods. So if you hire a fabricator to make a part for you, be sure they make it from the exact same kind of steel that the rest of the stove is made from.

    Last week was a warm week for this time of year, with highs in the 70sF and plenty of sun. I completed removing dead stems, dug saplings out of flower beds where saplings are not supposed to be, weeded around the peonies so that they grow better and flower more, and enjoyed watching more varieties of daffodils open. Today it has cooled off, with rain and cool weather for the next few days, then sunny and cool weather for the weekend.


  10. Yo, Chris – That’s a great photo of the right angle in the canal. I’d say if there’s going to be a failure, that’s probably where it will be. As will happen, eventually. But maybe not in your or my lifetime.

    What is it with people? Out with the serviceable, well designed and sometimes, quit aesthetically pleasing. And in with the new. And once the fashion and madness has passed, someone else has to muck in and right the wrongs. The magazine “Old House Journal” often had photos of crimes against old architecture. It wasn’t in Dickens, but somewhere I read about the lot of Victorian chimney sweeps. They often used small, underfed boys, who would strip off and wriggle up the chimneys. Didn’t want clothes to get caught on anything. A doctor noticed that many chimney sweeps, at a very young age, developed cancers in their, well, tender bits. It was speculated (and proved true) that grinding in soot and ash, probably wasn’t very healthy.

    It’s pretty amazing what the Roman army didn’t outsource, but did themselves. Stone quarries (they’ve just found some Roman soldier graffiti in a stone quarry recently, in Britain), bakeries, tile making. Etc. I bit there was a bit of carping. “I signed up to smash the barbarian, not bake bread!” 🙂

    Oh, it seems like a lot of people talk about not driving as much, due to the high gas prices. But I don’t see it. Reducing driving might involve a bit of forethought, to cluster errands. Seems to be beyond some people.

    The recipe for Anzac biscuits (along with lemon slices) is in the first books. (Now I don’t know that for sure, but hold the thought and at least you’ll be able to sleep at night.) 🙂

    I also see oat milk, here. Along with other non-dairy concoctions. I hope I don’t have to explore.

    I’m sure I mentioned they closed down the coal fired plant, here. I think they finally got tired of all the environmental craziness, with attendant high costs. Now there’s a big fight going on, as to what to do with the land. Which is quit extensive and includes the dam I used to guard. Some want to turn if over to the State fish and wildlife agencies. For recreation. Others want to develop the land. There’s so much of it I don’t know why they could’t do both. But it’s early days, and everyone is taking the hard line of all or nothing.

    Well, besides “…the chance of dying” bit, I’m sure the insurance companies worked out some kind of liability speculation. “A child might eat a bug!” Or something similar. Our Master Gardeners keep there stuff in two places. Some shelves in our dumpster room, and a locked room around the back of the building. They were told the weed spray (which is mostly organic) and fungicide must be put in the locked room. I’d like to know the reasoning behind that. Some addlepated old person might wander in and drink the stuff?

    Never heard of the Hardy Boys? My, you must live far back in the bush 🙂 . How about Nancy Drew? Both were mystery series for kids. The Hardy Boys books debuted in 1927. There are over 60+ books in the series. They are occasionally updated, to reflect the times. They have been filmed, for TV and movies, many times. In fact, Tim Considine, who played one of the Hardy Boys on TV, in the 1950s, recently died. (He was also the oldest son, on the very popular TV series, “My Three Sons.” And, did a lot of work for Disney.) Back in Ye Olde Days, libraries didn’t carry either series, as, they were thought to be “trashy.” But then a new day dawned and librarians began to think they should stock what kids want to read. What a concept! 🙂

    Do I use the eye roll? Of course. Don’t know where I picked it up. I got called on it once, when I worked at the cafe. But, as the guy was a flaming a______, I just did it again. Lots of stomping out and declaring he’d never darken our door, again. Unfortunately, he was back the next week. Always had unreasonable culinary demands, and never tipped a dime. I also do the “one raised eyebrow.” A la Mr. Spock. I can remember standing in front of a mirror, and practicing that one.

    Defined by what we reject. “We’re different (and better) than those people. The unroll their toilet paper, from underneath, instead of from the top, as all right thinking people do. And they don’t keep their garbage bags, under the sink! The horror, the horror.” Wars have been fought, for less.

    The Harvest Chili was very good. I just poured it over a bed of rice and nuked it for about 6 minutes. Had a kind of Hispanic (Ole!) flavor. Tasty.

    Last night I decided to make orange muffins. Not that I had ever made them, before. I stuck to the recipe I found on the Net. Other than a bit of nutmeg. You may remember the banana debacle. Well, after cleaning out the oven, I could not get the racks to go back in again. After wrestling with them for a good amount of time, I discovered I was putting them in backwards. After that, things went smoothly. More or less.

    I must say, orange muffins are a lot more fiddly than banana muffins. At least the amount of kitchen equipment and cleanup was about double. It took two large oranges, for enough juice and zest. And, there was also 8 oz of sour cream. So it’s a bit on the expensive side, for 12 muffins. I also discovered that the part of the recipe for the glaze / frosting is way more than you need. I could cut it by 2/3 and still have plenty. I thought they were tasty, but I gave a couple to Elinor and will see what she thinks of them. Would I make them again? Well, yes, but given the cost and fiddle, I think they’re “special occasion” items.

    I stopped by Frank, the mechanics, this morning. Things are still up in the air, with Yardbirds. But it went to court and the judge suspended the condemnation order, as the owners seem to be taking care of the issues. Will it be enough to satisfy the city? Time will tell. I’ve got an appointment to see Frank, on the 31st, so see if my rear axel seal is really a problem. At least now I know what to watch for, in the meantime. If the breaks freeze up, a bit. And if they do, no problem driving it into Franks. Lew

  11. Chris,

    I remember amusement park mirrors. They were fun. I was an undersized runt of a kid, so I enjoyed looking tall or fat in those mirrors, anything but short and scrawny.

    Okay, I’ll spill the story. The Princess was out of town last week, the normal trip to see her brother. They were going to a powwow in Idaho and came through town. I met them on the edge of town with some necessities the Princess had run out of. I’d fed the dog, but not the DJ. It was getting late, so I stopped at the golden arches on the way home. Next time, I’ll go out of the way and stop at a local burger place, or just fix an egg sandwich or something. But NOT mcdonalds.

    Yeah crapification. (And not only with golden arches crapified food.) There’s a lot of crapification too. I remember the kitchen timers my mother had, the old kind you spin the dial and it goes tick tick tick tick and a bell rings when time has run out. It would quit working, dad would fix it. I have a similar one that I’ve fixed several times. It sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t now, though. That type of timer is hard to find anymore, but the Princess found one. And the back has a solid molded plastic cover that cannot be removed, so if the timer quits working, gotta toss it and get a new one. Built to fail and be dumped.

    A distant relative and I met online once upon a year. We stay in contact. She has entitled her family’s big holiday gatherings as “The Family Craptacular”. Has referred to the events that way forever. So maybe crapification isn’t new?

    Ohhhhh, so my fake story about tomato vine tentacles wasn’t far from the truth? Cool! In fact, I’d rather deal with vine tentacles than unseen rats beneath the foliage.

    Ken Gullette is TOUGH. He’s told the story on his blog over the years. He’s been seriously ill multiple times, some kind of lung problem. They had to remove a lung several years back. He still does all his advanced martial arts stuff. No more sparring, however. Unfortunately, he was in hospital again near Christmas, lung problem again, and won’t know for a few more weeks what the entire prognosis is. Of course, as soon as he could move, he was walking all over that part of the hospital, IV stand with him, would stand a lot in Zhan Zhuang pose meditating. He even figured out how to do his taiji form workout while attached to the IV stand. Tougher than I am, that’s for sure.

    Like you, I also like his outlook on trouble. Sounds like Miagi from Karate Kid: “Best defense is don’t be there.” His situational awareness, paying attention and understanding something doesn’t sound/feel right is enviable. Even more enviable is that he listens to those internal warnings, whereas many of us tend to dismiss them too often if we even notice the internal warnings.

    That’s a sweet design on the 90 degree curve. Looks good and functional. Thanks for the photo.

    The angry bun groaner WAS a groaner. And a true story. At least little sister didn’t add, “If I eat an angry bun will I be grumpy like DJ?” Or if she did say that, I have no recollection of it whatsoever. 😉

    No, No, NO! Don’t say that you’re starting to feel on top of things. There’s no better way of jinxing yourself than to say that!

    No hawks today on our walk. We got buzzed by a drone. Again. Not the first time. I’ll have to avoid that area in the future. Eejit who flies it has it zooming down the public roads at windshield height. And flies it within about 20cm of pedestrians sometimes. Not fun.


  12. Hi Lewis and DJ,

    Apologies, but the Editor’s computer self destructed about lunch time today. We could not send or receive emails as the computer just stopped. Fortunately, I’m enough of a geek to take regular backups so nothing was lost.

    Got in the car and headed north to the next big town of Bendigo and picked up a replacement motherboard, CPU and video card. It’s about 10.30pm now and I’ve just got them all installed and mostly working nicely. This comment is the first test!

    But as you can imagine, it’s getting rather late and so we shall have to postpone our discussions until tomorrow. Sorry. Not an ideal situation, and also set me back about $580!

    And now I have to reinstall, everything….

    Groan, groan, whinge, whinge! But, hey, at least I’m on the still air. Breaker, Breaker! Can you hear me out there????



  13. Hi Lewis,

    As you’d expect, I’ve got a plan B, but I had to decide whether to roll out plan B (which would impact upon the Editor), or just bite the bullet and replace the faulty computer hardware. I chose the latter and have been mucking around with the hardware for a few hours now. But at least the computer now works and the fault has been eliminated. This machine I’m using now is a work machine, so it has to work…

    Interestingly, I reckon the hardware only lasted about 4 years, but I guess the machines got used a lot more during that time due to the health subject which dares not be named. The Editor is happily using my computer, which thus creates harmony in the household – although the Editor is very understanding about these sorts of issues.

    A bit to the north of the mountain range, the Victorian era folks used to plant date palms, and there are some seriously old specimens lurking around the landscape. Often they were planted symmetrically at the front of the house. They must have had some symbolic weight which is lost on me, because other than the parrots I’ve never heard of anyone harvesting the fruit.

    Oh wow! It will be very interesting to hear what those ancient fruits taste like. It is an impressive achievement to germinate plants from seeds which are that old. Shows you how tough nature is…

    That was my thinking too with the abrupt change in the direction of the water. What you can’t see is that just below the abrupt change they’d installed an emergency overflow channel which took water to a nearby creek. It was pretty clever to have put in some failsafes like that.

    Pulling those chimney inserts out was weird, because often the hole left in the brick chimney would be cheaply boarded over. But people used to also put in fake ceilings so as to lower the ceiling height by a couple of feet. If you were lucky, the ornate cornice plaster work was left in place. I never quite worked out the trick of cutting the 45 degree joining angles out of the super deep Victorian era plastering. I tried, and gave up and got someone in who does that stuff for a living. Unfortunately I wasn’t around to see how they did that work.

    I’d heard that about the kids. They lived pretty short lives. I’m assuming the creosote was toxic as, and lung disease got them too.

    The Romans employed mercenaries too didn’t they? I assume that lot were not conscripted into civil projects. Makes you wonder how the legions felt about that matter. Barbarian smashing!!! Very funny.

    The difference I’m noting is that the freeways seem less busy, whilst the inner city roads are quite busy. That might be an economic thing?

    Gotta hit the sack, me getting sleepy. Will speak tomorrow.



  14. Yo, Chris – Breaker, Breaker! Can hear you. Got my ears on … 🙂

    So when the Editor’s computer melted down, was there smoke and flames? Small explosions? (From the machine, not the Editor or you). Dare I say (knock on wood), my old computer (15+ years) just chugs along. Any problems are with the software. Or, lack there of.

    I’d say palm trees, these days, are more about symmetry than symbolism. But I might be wrong. If you Gargle “Palm tree symbolism,” it really covers the waterfront. But something did catch my eye. Palm trees marked oasis. Water, safety, etc.. There might be something in there. Our early colonials slapped pineapples on everything. Those symbolized hospitality.

    Lowered ceilings really came into common use, during the gas crisis of the early 70s. It became pretty common knowledge that heat rises (what a concept!), so more people started putting in drop ceilings, to conserve heat. Ugly as they were, they did the job. I noticed something about Idaho. Where they deal with serious cold. The houses, to me, seemed a bit cramped and dark. But I think it’s what you get used to. Ceiling seemed to be a bit lower and there were fewer and smaller windows. I’m sure I could get used to it. “Cramped and dark” would become “cozy.” 🙂

    Oh, I think the Roman mercenaries were taken firmly in hand, by their centurions. At least the auxilliary infantry units. But, there were problems. The book “UnRoman Britain” discussed several soldier revolts. Those could happen anywhere in the Empire, but Britain seemed prone to them. And, it was often the soldiers who put someone up as a competing emperor. Sometimes, the soldiers were the one that came up with the idea. Occasionally, a general would “decline” the “honor.” Smart. Often didn’t end well. I seem to remember a soldiers revolt, nipped in the bud, in that series by Simon Scarrow.

    After a hearty breakfast of biscuits and gravy, I stopped by to see Frank, the mechanic. To see how things were going with him, and to talk about the supposed leak in my rear axil seal. Things are still up in the air about the Yard Bird’s Mall. But a judge put a stop to the condemnation, as the owners are making solid attempts at taking care of problems. I wonder if anything they do will be good enough for the city. Frank also told me a fantastic story about how they’ve got 100 crypto currency miners, tucked in there. With another 200 in the offing. I can’t quit wrap my head around that.

    As far as my truck goes, I have an appointment on the 31st for a look see. Frank described what it would be like if it developed a problem. A bit of break seizing. But even in that eventuality, I’d be able to drive to his place, no problem. When I stopped by, Brother Bobby, who is “retired” was there. And, another brother that’s being brought on-board. So a bit of pressure is off Frank.

    Elinor thought the muffins were good, and “orange” enough. But we talked about how they’re not as “orange” as our expectations. But we chalked that up to our old taste buds. Or, maybe, what we expect is what we get from a commercial bakery, which can be spiked with artificial orange flavors. We agreed, that the next batch I’ll try adding a drop or two of orange extract.

    I was at the library, yesterday, and put the first Blue Ribbon Cookbook on interlibrary loan. I thought maybe I could find an index, on-line. No joy. But I did notice that at the author’s website, she had a recipe for Anzac biscuits. Maybe she’s ignoring lemon slice, as from your description, they sound rather revolting 🙂

    My early broccoli may be sprouting. Or, it might be weeds. Something is coming up in that patch, but I’m not seeing a discernible line of sprouts … yet. Lew

  15. Yo, Chris – PS: Well. One must know what one is looking for. 🙂 I didn’t know “slices” came in so many flavors. So, I went back to the index of “The Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook.” And checked “slices”. There are five or six … including “Baked Lemon Slice” on page 32. Happy? Lew

  16. Hi, Chris!

    Oil is the big news, but I don’t actually see that much of it. I saw an article, but can’t find it again, about how a “green” activist group called Engine #1 managed to get some of their members onto the board of ExxonMobil. They then proceeded to make Exxon cut back on some of their drilling and production. Now those very same invested people, seeing the price of oil going up, are clammering that production be increased.

    That bathroom cabinet has been some job, but well worth it, as it is a thing of beauty.

    How amazing that your tomatoes have no disease, given the circumstances. If only there were some way to increase the heat around them, but all I can think of is black plastic. And that comes from oil . . .

    The Main Coliban Channel is a great achievement. At 43 miles long, that is an accomplishment in itself, not to even mention that it is gravity-fed. The extra photo you threw in to Lewis reminds me so much of a large amusement park near where I grew up called Six Flags Over Texas. They had a bunch of long chutes/flumes with gravity-fed water and canoe thingees that looked like hollow logs (with seat belts . . . ) that one rode in down the chutes. It was actually pretty fast – and wet. Great in a Texas summer.

    My husband’s family also had in Texas, in the desert of El Paso, a pomegranate bush. Those pomegranates were so delicious.

    I hope I can find some nasturtium seeds this year. I love those. The sunset roses are especially nice.


  17. Hi Chris,
    The waterfall and your description were quite interesting. Oven though man made it is quite appealing to the eye.

    You know now that you’ve decided to move the tomatoes next summer will be hot. We had a few really nice warm days here but starting tomorrow it’s back to colder than normal. The good news is that we have gotten almost an inch of rain over the last few days. It’s a start.

    Working outside is definitely not a help for my back. Bending particularly with an even slightly rounded back really exacerbates my back condition so sadly I’m going to be cutting way back this year. I did order a back brace though which should help. Looking on the good side I’ll have more time for nature hikes. In fact I’ve signed up to monitor a bluebird trail at a conservation district site near me. Both Cecily and Carla have promised to come out for a work day now and then.

    I’m going to keep my eye out for walking sticks.


  18. Hi Claire,

    Happy belated Equinox to you. 🙂

    I must have done something bad because the gods of technology stomped the daylights out of the Editors computer. It’s all back up and running now but I recall commencing work on the rebuild yesterday about 7pm and it’s now 8pm the next day. Missed out on going to the pub this evening… Mustn’t grumble though.

    Thank you for the reminder as to the corrosion issue. Yes, I am aware of this issue. The wood heater is made out of assembled components, so it is possible that the quality of the steel in each component varies markedly anyway – and yeah that might be something of a problem. The thing is, the combustion chamber is a harsh environment, and we burn super dry firewood and it burns reasonably cleanly as a result with few of the gases that less careful people would experience, which I believe are rather acidic. The occasional over firing can be a problem and we have to manage that. But the steel delaminates all the same and so at least the stainless steel sleeves (which turned up in the mail yesterday) will provide some additional protection. Wood heaters are like playing a losing game in that you can slow the outcome, you just can’t stop the outcome. It may well be that a masonry heater with a stainless steel boiler is the best option long term. Dunno. I could build such a thing.

    Claire, it is hotter in your part of the world than here! 🙂 No wonder your garden grows so well. 63’F here today and sunny. It’s going to be a long winter.



  19. Hi Margaret,

    It’s nice sharing some of the obscure historical things to see around this area with you. I’d seen photos of the guys digging the trenches back in the 1860’s and early 1870’s for the channel and the sheer effort is impressive for such a massive project. What also amazed me was that over 40 miles, the engineers and surveyors managed to ensure that the water flowed downhill for the entire length of the channel through varying terrain. It’s a bonkers level of accuracy.

    The granite stones for the block work were cut from a nearby quarry. From some points on the freeway you can see the old quarries, not that many people would notice nowadays. I’ll try and visit one of them and take some photos over the next few weeks – what they achieved using hand tools and animal power is quite the feat and beyond anything I could do.

    Hehe! You’re right there about the tomatoes. What do you do? Glad to hear that you’ve enjoyed some early warmth and more importantly, some rain. Yay for rain! La Nina years are not so good for you, and there was some loose talk that we might get to experience three of them in a row.

    Walking is very good for a persons spinal health, but yeah ageing is hardly a graceful experience. The alternatives are not so good though. Lucky you, your daughters will surely just enjoy spending time with you. 🙂

    Actually, the walking stick is a good idea. Sandra and I went on an 18 day walk in Nepal last century. It was a very long walk and we climbed up to 16,500ft. Who knew that you could walk up hill for six continuous hours? There were two old guys also on the walk, and they used to stay up late every night drinking rum and talking rubbish, and everyday they would destroy us on the walk. Not saying it was the rum, but it might have been! 🙂 Oh, and they used very sturdy looking walking sticks, and so I’ve long wondered about those.



  20. Hi Pam,

    Sandra said to me today that I must not write about oil next week. 🙂 But as it’s not yet next week, holy carp, brent is now at around $122 a barrel. You know, I too have heard the blame game story, and am agnostic on such matters. What I do know is that oil is a finite resource and as such it will cost more and more and more as time goes on. Can we afford to pay for such mores? That is the question. Hope you enjoy my silly wordplay using the word ‘mores’? It kind of works too…

    Plum got a really fat juicy looking rat today. She’s the boss that dog (although she is not the alpha, sadly to say she suffers a touch of anxiety which the other dogs see as a weakness). We were trimming the garden beds which may have been harbouring the odd triffid or three, and the rats were disturbed in their den, and Plum struck hard. A tag team effort!

    Thank you for saying that. Spare a thought for the dignity of the bathroom cabinet as it had been commissioned, and then scorned. Not nice. But ’tis in a good home now – although not yet installed properly.

    Hehe! You’d think that tomatoes would suffer from more diseases down under, but I’m not seeing that outcome. Interestingly, there are native edible Solanum family plants here and I do wonder if that makes some sort of difference? The Kangaroo Apple for example is one such and it grows feral here, it just doesn’t taste all that nice. It’s a bit soapy tasting for my palate. Cape Gooseberries do very well here, and they are better tasting. I don’t believe that deadly nightshade is present down under and I’ve read that the plants which look like that are actually a blackberry nightshade. Mind you, I’m not keen to put the matter to the test. Moving the tomatoes to a sunnier part of the property will sort out the problems, it just takes a lot of work.

    Hehe! Yes, Texas in summer would definitely require water slides as a cooling relief. The photos from that state are amazing. But yeah, best be in a more quiet area.

    🙂 Pam, the pomegranate is so small that I’m going to leave it where it fell. But yeah, when those fruits are good, they’re very good. We’re a bit marginal here for such crops in that the plants will grow, they just won’t do that well. It’s like the Macadamia trees in that they haven’t died, but neither have they prospered. You just kind of end up working with what you have.

    But yes, nasturtiums might do really well where you are. The ones here have survive the occasional snowfall and frost. The seeds are quite tasty too and some people use them as an alternative to capers.



  21. Hello Chris
    Thanks for an interesting read and great photos. I find that I prefer a natural waterfall to a man made one. Nature always seems more beautiful than anything that we try to produce artificially.

    No I was not incorrect in my spelling. Yes, honour, honourable but honorary. Don’t know why.

    Honorary son had his present, for me, confiscated at the airport; it was called a liquid. No problem with it last year! He always brings me ‘maple cream’ as opposed to the syrup or butter. Maple cream is fantastic stuff, way better than the other two. He will now send me some.
    He reckons that maple trees are getting into trouble and may disappear from where he lives in Massachusits (can’t spell that).

    Gorgeous weather here but we are being threatened with a coming arctic north wind.


  22. Hi DJ,

    Just to prove that computer troubles are headache inducing, I went to bed last evening with a headache, and woke up this morning with a headache. 🙂 However in a more positive note, we’re back baby! 🙂 The Editors computer is now back up and running.

    Hehe! Well, there’s nothing wrong with short and scrawny and if I may add here – your centre of gravity would have been lower than the bigger kids and thus employing a knowledge of physics they might have been easier to knock over! But yeah, I hear ya, my mother was a single mother and so she got me off to school as early as possible and so I was always the smallest kid around. Not much else for it than find a good local Dojo.

    Respect for spilling the beans – so to say figuratively, but not literally (Exorcist style – nobody wants to experience that). It’s a good leader that ensures that the troops (i.e. Avalanche) are fed before they themselves get fed. Just for your interest and comparative purposes the other night the two burgers and one chips set me back about $40, but it was good.

    Oh yeah, I too have encountered the solid plastic moldings which were never intended to be cracked open. Sad to say, such things are possibly not meant to be repaired. Hmm, you might need a Nixie tube clock instead? Although, I type that in full knowledge that I don’t have a Nixie clock.

    Hehe! You may be right there with the crapification for ever observation. I avoid my family like the plague, and before you judge me harshly let’s just add that you have not met them. 🙂 The Editor early on in our relationship went out of her way to meet my dad and came away with a better understanding of how things are like they are. It was a weird coincidence, because an old mate of mine worked around the corner from him and put two and two together and just asked the question. Then the Editor couldn’t help herself but satisfy her natural feminine curiosity. So yeah, I’m with your distant relative in this matter! 🙂

    The Kelpies know the rats. And Plum scored a fat juicy rat today. I took a photo and may write a Plum story maybe in two weeks time. That dog does the heavy lifting for the other two dogs.

    He is one tough customer. And I particularly liked his take on the realities of the world as it is today. We aren’t in the Dark Ages, so it is rare to encounter physical violence – although as a younger bloke things were occasionally a bit touch and go on that front- thus the Dojo. Mate nobody packs anything down here as even carrying a knife will get you into lock up. Anything worse, and you’ll probably end up in the news as a morality tale. Nobody wants that. Martial arts taught me not how to fight, but how not to fight – and deflect if there were no alternatives. And I agree with him – there is no shame in running.

    You raise an interesting point though – we are trained to ignore our gut instincts, and this is a sad indictment upon our parenting and educational systems. I might have mentioned to you that a few years ago I outraged a group of friends by suggesting to them that the young daughter of one of them would benefit from spending time in a Dojo learning how to comport herself in a way that did not attract trouble. The outrage I believe was caused due to a desire to control other people, when I have strong reservations that this is a likely possibility. I’d perhaps be more popular if I told people what they wanted to hear!!! 🙂 Far out.

    Hehe! Surely you are not a grumpy sort? Your sister was perhaps stirring you up and looking for an emotional response. Cheeky scamp.

    I did say that, and then the Editor’s computer packed it in. Yes, the kiss of death is as real as hubris. At least I have the spare fat with which to deal with such matters immediately. It’s funny you noticed that touch of hubris…

    Oh! Well, down under drone operators have to have aviation insurance, otherwise if things go wrong, it be expensive as. I’d heard of drone operators getting up to such mischief many years ago, but now, not so much. Have you thought of taking up an interest in tennis or cricket? Spinal Tap – Ian’s Cricket Bat. A solid piece of wood is rather useful against low flying drones.



  23. Hi Lewis,

    For the record, it should be noted that a proper tasting lemon slice far surpasses the humble vanilla slice. But there are many caveats to that, and by the word proper, I refer to actual lemon juice and lemon zest as distinct from lemon essence. Forgive me here, but standards must be maintained in this matter, otherwise western civilisation as we know it, could collapse at any minute! It may sound to you like a big call, but you have not yet sampled the delightfulness that is a proper old school lemon slice. Mind you, there are a lot of very ordinary examples to be found lurking around. Lemon, like your orange, is quite a difficult foodstuff to cook with. The bakery near to the reservoir where that channel originates makes one of the best around. I dare not mention the town name, lest supplies be over run.

    Thanks for asking, yes I am happy that the slices were mentioned! Glad you’re enjoying the book. Bakeries are very much a part of most country towns in this part of the continent, and you may have noticed over the years that Damo (over in the west of the continent) and I sometimes swap notes as to where the best may be found.

    Far out, I finished rebuilding the hardware for the Editors computer about 10pm last night. The software was finally all restored at about 8pm this evening – and one of the printers no longer connects up which is something of a mystery. Needless to say due to this bonkers long enduro-fest sitting in front of the computer, we missed going to the pub this evening for a dinner and a pint. The pain, dare I add, is real, and the loss can never be made good.

    15+ years is a fine achievement. My work laptop is only a few years younger than that at about 13 years and it runs all of the latest software just fine, although I have had to perform surgery on it a few times over the years. It’s a bit like the story of grand dads old axe. Interestingly, the Dirt Rat Suzuki dates back to 2004 and it is a very hardy item and I’m rather imagining that manufacturing quality hit its peak around those days – which not coincidentally was around the time of peak conventional oil. The Editor has told me firmly, no writing about oil this week… No fun…

    Plum scored a very large rat today. A top effort as those rodents don’t go down easily. Plum showed off the rat too and was well rewarded for her efforts, and is now happily asleep in the knowledge of having done a good job.

    Over in the more fashionable western end of the mountain range where there are some very old school and quite large glasshouses, I’d imagine that pineapples were sometimes grown – and the interiors had to be heated during the colder months. Never directly heard of that happening, but I rather think it a likely thing. And pineapples were often motifs on the facades of older Victorian era houses. Ferns and oyster shells were as well now that I think about it. I’d seen an old colonial chair that had a pineapple motif carved into the seat back.

    That was about the time that lower ceilings became a thing down here too. Interestingly, most newer homes have lower ceilings, but I prefer the higher ceilings the older Victorian era houses had for the opposite reason that they’re a bit cooler in the summer months. Heat I can manage easily enough, cooling is a little bit harder.

    Well yeah, I can understand that about building responses in Idaho. Glass is a great material, but I’m dubious as to its supposed insulating properties. most of the cold radiates into this house from the glazing, and it’s double glazed at almost half an inch thick for the two panels combined. So less glass in really cold environments is not a bad idea at all. I recall that in Conrad Richter’s trilogy which we spoke about a long time ago, that windows were taxed.

    I get the impression that Roman Britain contained more troops for the land area than other parts of the Empire, and so I can sort of see how the idea of revolts might have come to be – it was as much an opportunity thing as a political outcome. I’m assuming that the British legions were regularly put to the test by the Barbarians out of the north and so they were battle honed?

    Good to hear that H did not impinge upon your biscuits and gravy, and that they were good. That’s politics for you with the Yard Birds thing. You know, I too have heard of people crypto currency mining. Makes no sense to me, but I heard some strange story about expensive high end computer graphics cards being hot property for doing just that activity. As I said, the concept makes little sense to me, but then there are a lot of things going on right now all about me that make little sense. Just for one, and despite the Editors instructions not to talk about matters pertaining to that dark liquid stuff that has to be mined, I do wonder how people are continuing to be so free and easy with money when I see that inflationary / price story playing out. Like crypto mining, it makes no sense to me.

    Interesting that Frank is bringing in some relatives to help out. And makes sense. I’m noting that if businesses can trade, they’re getting heaps of work, but getting and retaining staff is harder than previously. The great resignation is a real thing and it’s happening.

    Out of curiosity, did you use orange juice or a zest or a combination of the two in your muffins? I know in the lemon slices, they usually add lemon zest to the mix as too much lemon juice does weird things to baked goods.

    Hehe! Very funny. Lemon slices are a thing I tell ya. You’d love them, although you wouldn’t want to eat too many of the things.

    Fingers crossed that the early broccoli grows and produces well at your place. I think they’re worth the effort, and after only a year they’ve naturalised and I find wild broccoli (and kale for that matter) turning up. I believe that the early purple variety of broccoli is far less likely to cross with other brassica species and thus hybridise, but don’t have enough experience to know if it is true. Fingers crossed it is because many of the brassica species of plants are very over bred by well intentioned plant breeders of the past.

    Right now, those plants are tiny little seedlings here, but they will grow right through the winter months, so it is a bit back to front from your part of the world.

    Ah, computers, can’t live with them…



  24. Hi Inge,

    Thank you. The channel was an amazing engineering feat, and to think that the original builders dug it all by hand and ensured that the entire channel ran downhill for over 40 miles. I’m not sure that I have the skills for that job, but can appreciate the sheer ingenuity that they employed. There is an assumption that we are somehow more clever these days, but any fool can chuck a lot of energy around and get stuff done. But not as many can get stuff done using minimal energy.

    Almost forgot to mention, but it was the sound of the artificial waterfall which led to us discovering where it actually was. From the road, you wouldn’t know it was there.

    I do tend to agree with you in your observation. And I do further believe that natures creations will last for far longer than anything mankind can come up with. Was there much damage to your part of the world from the recent storms? It must have been quite horrendous to sit through one storm after the other. ‘Twas another cool and sunny day here today at 63’F.

    The spelling issue made little sense to me either. Our language is a complex structure built upon the past. I have an odd notion that the language came first and the structure was roughly applied over the top of it.

    Oh Inge, I’d never before heard of maple cream. Yum! I can only but hope that the good people at customs are now enjoying maple cream on toast?

    It may interest you to know that I have several species of maple growing here – two of which are the notable sugar maples. They’re growing very well indeed and loving the conditions. The trees seem very tolerant of the occasional bout of heat – which has reached into 114’F, and in fact Sycamores have formed the primary understory trees in some of the damper and shadier parts of the mountain range. I’d rate them as a species not to worry about too much.

    I hear a lot of bemoaning of the fate of the great barrier reef and the coral systems there from concerned people who are probably all too happy to jump on a long haul flight, use electricity like it’s going out of fashion, or drive an oversized vehicle. I don’t worry about such critters because coral has been around for several hundred million years and as such they are probably pretty adaptable. Of course, this does not imply that the species will remain where they are now, or in the conditions that they are in now. But they will prevail.



  25. Chris:

    I like your mores:

    “Mores are the customs, norms, and behaviors that are acceptable to a society or social group.”

    A plum for a Plum – yum! We only have tree rats on our property.

    As far as I can tell, all of our native solanums (ae?) are poisonous. They flourished here before I pulled them all out. The whole county, and probably beyond, had tomato disease problems last year. I guess tomatoes are kind of like people.


  26. Yo, Chris – Ah! I discovered what the problem is. It’s the old biscuit / cookie conundrum. Differences in language. Here, we call a “slice” a “bar.”

    Now that we’ve got that all sorted … The recipe for lemon slice, in the “Australian Blue Ribbon Cookbook” calls for both lemon juice and lemon zest. (And 6 eggs!). Yup. I used both orange juice and orange zest, in the recipe I found. I had extra zest, so sprinkled it on top of the glaze.

    The recipe I used for the orange muffins called for zest and juice in the batter. And the glaze. But when I was casting about for a recipe, I did find one for lemon muffins. I notice that the recipe calls for lemon zest in the batter, but no juice. Juice and more zest is reserved for the glaze. While I was making the orange muffins, I had a thought that it might be nice to add some candied orange peel, to the batter. Might try that, eventually.

    I can see not revealing the source of your lemon slices. I’d say that indicates you’re a lemon slice junkie. No matter what the substance is, junkies hold their sources, close to the chest. Ya got a monkey on your back! 🙂 . There’s probably a 12-step program to address the problem. Just step away from the lemon slice, and say to yourself, “I am powerless over lemon slices, and my life has become unmanageable.” Repeat as needed.

    Missed a trip to the pub, due to wonky technology? Caused real pain? I knew computers were a bad idea.

    Well, that’s interesting. I’d never made the connection. Your dirt rat Suzuki and my Ford Ranger are the same age. I think your right. That was about the peak of dependable, manageable automotive technology. I don’t know about your Suzuki, but even without all the bells and whistles, I think my Ranger could have been simpler.

    You really need to figure out the number of rats equivalent to one rabbit. There’s probably an algebraic formula. Consult with your Resident Maths Genius. Oh! What do you know. There’s not a formula, but there is a chart …

    I’d say Plum’s title is within reach! 🙂

    I’d read that Roman Britain had more legions, than any other province in the empire. “UnRoman Britain” speculated that that was due to it’s being the newest province. Britain was also handy, as the legions there could be tapped, if problems arose on the Continent. As they often did. But that often provided the opportunity for mischief in Britain.

    “Free and easy with money.” My Idaho friends were complaining about the cost of this and that. But the stuff they buy! (But we won’t get into a $20 burger, with chips. I’m constitutionally unable to spend that amount of money on a burger. But then again, we won’t talk about my spending $7.75 on 5.3 ounces of Stilton cheese.)

    We’re supposed to have two nice days. So, I’ll get out in the garden. I figure weeding, today, and planting, tomorrow. Sounds like a plan. Lew

  27. Chris,

    Computers are a headache. Computers cause a headache. I met a wood carver who solved the computer headache problem…

    In tiny Thompson Falls, Montana, lived a wonderful man named Ernest Franke, aka Crazy Ernie. During a severe economic downturn, Ernie opened a general store in Thompson Falls, quipping, “Only a crazy person would open an emporium in this economic climate.” So he called the store “Crazy Ernie’s Emporium”. (No kidding. I’ve been in it.) His store sold State of Montana hunting and fishing licenses in addition to just about anything legal. One year, Montana gave him a computer and a wire connection to the “home base” in Helena, Montana. So, he would enter all the licensee data into the computer, note when the license was paid for, and the computer would get the automated nod from Helena to print the coveted license. Well, in theory. The computer glitched regularly after money collection and before the license was printed. Then it would lock up for a day or so. Ernie complained to the State for a couple years, but the problem was never fixed. So, after one especially trying day with the State of Montana’s computer, suffering from a brutal headache caused by said computer, Crazy Ernie took said computer outdoors into the middle of the main street (a State of Montana Highway) and put it out of everyone’s misery by shooting it with his 12-gauge shotgun. Yup, it blew apart quite satisfactorily.

    In retrospect, I wish I had been introduced to martial arts when I was much younger, maybe age 8 or 10. A chap who was a year behind me in high school was one of the calmest and most levelheaded teenagers I’ve ever met. Nothing bothered him. He had been taking karate since about age 5. He learned the correct lessons, apparently, and knew when NOT to fight or be irritated with stuff.

    Always take care of the dog first. Always. That’s a lesson I learned by reading a lot of Jack London short stories about the Yukon way back when. I think it was “To the Man on Trail” in which the recurring characters were together near Christmas, a sled pulled up, and one of the guys said, “An old-timer; cares for his dogs and then himself.” Plus, any real cowboy knows to take care of the horse first, always. Take care of your critters and they’ll take care of you.

    Nixie clock? They look nice. Think I’ll pass, however. Both the Princess and I like the tick tick tick of this old style with no electronic parts. I’m reasonably sure that I can find a way to get into that molded plastic back if I want to badly enough.

    My uncle and I chatted a lot about family history. He visited some of the distant cousins and such in southern Indiana once. He said they “are a different kind of folk, not for me”. I’ve both conversed on the phone and via email with one of the family genealogists from that area. There’s one part of the family whose origins are obscure. Some sources list a female ancestress with one maiden surname, another source lists a her with a different one. Soon as I mentioned to the distant cousin that I had a theory about why there was a discrepancy, I became persona non grata. Which told me that, like uncle, I probably didn’t want to visit the old homesteads.

    Good job Plum with the rat! The word “rat” has 3 letters. “Rabbit” has 6. I don’t need Lew’s chart to be suspicious that 1 rabbit equals 2 rats. 😉

    A good martial arts teacher WILL teach you how to not fight. That’s much more important than learning to fight, as it means that you are learning how to control what you might be able to control, yourself and your responses to stressors. Anyone can learn to fight, but not everyone can learn to control himself/herself. Hard lesson to learn, and easy to lose that ability if one is not careful. Deflect the emotional situation, deflect punches, deflect deflect deflect. And, as Sun Tzu said, always leave the other person with a path to escape, which you’ve mentioned in the past.

    It is sad, isn’t it, that we’re taught to ignore our gut instincts? They’re another useful tool when listened to correctly and when balanced with other things. As to your suggesting that the young lady needed to spend some time at the dojo…But THAT meant that she would’ve had to GROW UP, and growing up is something that many in industrial society try to avoid at all costs. Growing up and becoming a mature person with some character is often a welcome side effect of having a good sensei at a good dojo.

    Nah, as you surmised, my sister was trying to tweak me. She quickly became adept at the game of “Tweak the Sibling” under my expert tutelage, much to my chagrin.

    It’s easy to notice the things I’ve been guilty of countless times. The Princess and I have had an agreement in place for a few years now. When things are cruising along well, no family drama for a few months, we DO NOT MENTION IT. Every time we mention it, it feels like a matter of only a few minutes before the phone rings with the next installment.

    I liked Ian’s Cricket Bat. There are a lot of applications for such a thing. Hmmmm, maybe I’ll finish the walking stick I’ve slowly been carving. It might back a proper wallop. I have daydreams about knocking the drone out of the air and pulverizing it.


  28. Hi Pam,

    😉 We as a society seem to be having a lot of trouble agreeing upon such matters right now, but I tend to believe that that will all sort itself out in time. A lot of very strange ideas are being inserted into the collective consciousness right now, but I dunno, I reckon they’re a bit of a flash-in-the-pan, so I don’t much think about them. I have an odd hunch that the ideas are inserted so as to befuddle you when it is probably a better idea to be thinking about your vegetable garden and safely reducing the amount of shade to that part of your property. Tell ya what, I’m thinking about such things here, and the bean crop this year has been phenomenal!

    Sandra has nicknamed Plum, Blood Plum, due to all of her hard work with what some may call the varmints. It’s a dark red variety of plums which grows quite well in this area.

    Pam, I tell you this. The rats here are just as happy living in tree hollows as they are inhabiting burrows. A truly astounding creature which will be around long after the last human bites the dust. I’ve watched a family of rats exiting a tree hollow so as to take advantage of the easy feed in the old chicken enclosure and there were a lot of them.

    Ah, you may have the similar looking deadly nightshade plant, which looks almost exactly like the less harmful blackberry nightshade plant. Makes for an exciting identification process and personally if in your location I’d treat all of them as suspicious.

    I have this odd notion that toxic food stuffs were originally tested by the indigenous folks on members of their nations who’d outraged the general consensus, there are always such outliers. But such hard won knowledge has been lost. I noted recently that a local clan the Dja Dja Wurrung, wanted to sensibly clean up the Wombat state forest of fallen timber from a massive wind storm last year – and have been knocked back. Hmm. That forest is nearby and I may have mentioned to you at the time that folks around here lost their power for five days…



  29. Hi DJ,

    Mate there are times when crazy is actually called for. And I respect Crazy Ernie for taking a sledgehammer of a weapon to the computer which gave him so much grief. I so understand the guys point of view and reaction. 🙂 Mind you, I have learned the hard way not to provide any emotional feedback to the trolls lest they get-off on the emotional energy. Such dark souls.

    Speaking of having to deal with the authorities, at the very beginning of the week I was at the local post office counter sending some important documents to be signed. A single copy of the country newspaper was on the counter (The Weekly Times), and I suspect that it was waiting to be collected by whomever had put it on order. The front page article caught my attention. The local Dja Dja Wurrung tribe put forward a combined submission with a big time timber miller to the gobarmint to clean up all of the fallen timber in the nearby Wombat State Forest so as to reduce the future fire risk. The huge wind storm mid last year has left many parts of that forest as an absolute mess. And from the article I gathered the opinion that the submission had been knocked on the head. There are times that I could weep with frustration at the outcomes, but being the descendant of the highlanders I dare not let my emotions show. 170 years of utter failure in relation to forest management is perhaps not enough.

    Like physics, you canna change the laws of fisiks (to quote engineer Scotty – please excuse the accent)! The past cannot be altered. I was speaking with a lovely lady earlier this week about this matter and you do what ya do at the time. Mate, I bypassed the queue (waiting list) to get into the Dojo by just talking to the head honcho and telling him about my troubles at school. There were troubles at home too. I really didn’t get much in the way of good guidance, and that’s life. We find ourselves on a path and we have to navigate that biz.

    Jack London is without doubt, one of the most complicated historical persons that I’ve recently encountered. And to think that he suffered from scurvy… A person born to live was that bloke.

    Fair enough, and you’re probably right about removing the moulded plastic although it might be something of a mess which is probably better done in fresh air. 🙂

    Oh yeah, some family are best kept at a discreet distance. My grandfather just before he passed on demanded that I spend my time fixing many of the things which he himself had not done. I was a young bloke and may have remarked to him that nothing was being offered for me to act so. Some things are lost causes, and you have to pick and choose where you spend your energies. Right now, that is more important than most people would realise.

    🙂 I have to defer my rat / rabbit opinions until I properly review Lewis’s chart, but there is logic to your logic!

    Yes, Sun Tzu spoke truly when he stated for the record that it was a super-bad idea to back one’s opponent into an un-winnable corner. I always provide an obvious out as with time, the person exercising that path comes to terms with what it means to face good grace. On the other hand, sometimes I stuff things up royally, like the firewood dude situation where I lost my cool at the sheer outrageousness of the situation. The Editor reminds me of this from time to time, and so I am better prepared next time. Nobody is perfect, least of all me…

    Mate, growing up is hard for many because they have to accept loss and take on responsibility. I tend to believe that it comes down to that outcome. It’s a shame because as a society we could achieve many great things, but at the same time what will be, will be. I don’t worry about it because the outcome is baked into the cake now. It was like that time I was snorkelling at the great barrier reef and spotted the reef shark. I almost shat myself, but instead slowly and carefully swum to a more defensible position, and when the reef shark went on its way, I returned to the boat. Life can throw you some curve balls, that’s for sure.

    My older sisters were the bane of my life as a young bloke, and today there is no love in that direction. Far out those two decided in the toxic environment that it was either me or them, and they made their choice. It was not far off Lord of the Flies…

    Hehe! Mate, I hear you about the wish, but I’d have to suggest that reality is something far different again! Your ladies family does it hard due to culture clash, and you know, you both do it hard due to the same culture clash. That’s life sorry to say. I wish it were otherwise.

    I’m pretty certain that Gandalf’s staff was at one point in Lord of the Rings seen as the weapon that it was. A walking stick is far less obvious than a cricket bat which would be kind of hard to explain. Have you ever spoken to the young fella who operates that drone? I’m sure he might suggest that he meant no harm, but recall good grace and how some situations it be hard to get to. 😉



  30. Hi Lewis,

    The Editor woke up super early this morning, and so I read the article you linked to and please correct me if my misunderstanding is in error, but I gathered the following major points:

    – Oil companies appear to be under pressure by investors to make profits;
    – Oil and gas firms appear to have been some of the worst performers of the past decade;
    – The public blames oil supply issues on environmental policies;
    – Policy makers are confused about the need for fossil fuels versus responding to environmental concerns;
    – Oil supply will become tighter in the near future possibly leading to higher prices; and
    – The predicament will lead to an economic recession.

    How does that understanding stack up? Didn’t your former President Jimmy Carter speak about most of those issues back when John Denver was alive? A bit of a shame that oil is a banned topic next week… 😉 Should a person live on the edge?

    A friend of mine sent me an email addressed to you today. You and I were discussing Margaret Atwood’s works, and my friend mentioned that you might enjoy her short story: “Torching The Dusties”. I have it on good authority that you would be much like the protagonist of the story, and Elinor would be your trusty side kick / compadre. The story sounds to me a bit like Children of the Corn, but with slightly higher age limits. The book it came from was: “Stone Mattress”.

    My friend would be welcome to comment here if he respected the code of comments and just toned down the swearing. Is it that much to ask? I guess I’ll find out… 🙂

    Thanks for the picklebums link! What an awesome name and it makes gargle look all boring and evil like. Nobody could be upset with a picklebum! I knew of someone describe by the nickname ‘pickle’. I’m assuming that the person was somehow always in a pickle (i.e. drama)? Never found out for sure. Mate, I had no idea that you guys called slices by the name: bars or tray bakes. We do have muesli bars which are kind of like a slice, but most people would think of chocolate bars if you used the word ‘bar’ down here – think Mars Bar. How good did the images look, so tasty. The only one I had not seen before was the apple and rhubarb slice.

    I was talking the other day about the long 18 day walk we did in Nepal last century. It was pretty quiet in those days, and I’m not at all sure I’d enjoy the busy trail conditions these days. Anyway, one thing that always amazed me was that no matter where we went, no matter how remote, at the end of a long day you could always rely on finding someone wanting to sell you either a Mars or Snickers bar and a small bottle of the local rum. And after days spent walking up hill all day long (spare a thought for someone used to living in a reasonably flat-ish continent) a choccie bar went down an absolute treat. It was the height of luxury, which also convinced me that people would by and large be far happier with less stuff and less stimulation. Don’t need it.

    Six eggs! Holy carp that seems a bit over the top to me. I must drag out Cookery the Australian way in order to make a proper comparison here… … Page 272 provides an interesting comparison for lemon slice. 1 cup of flour + 1 cup of self raising flour + 1/2 cup of butter + 1/2 cup of caster sugar + 1 egg beaten and for the filling 1 qty lemon butter or lemon spread (the ingredients are listed in those recipes elsewhere in the book). Ah, here goes, lemon butter has 2 tablespoons of butter + 1/2 cup of sugar and 1 egg beaten + rind and juice of one lemon. And double ahhh, lemon spread is simply lemon butter without the butter. Hope that makes sense? I don’t see six eggs in there. Yikes. I like eggs but might feel a bit unwell after consuming so many of them.

    I’m not sure, but I have noted that when baking with lemon juice you have to be sparing with it as the citric acid does weird things to muffins and cakes. Even some tarts such as a key-lime pie and too much can cause the mess not to set. I’ll bet it tastes good though. 🙂

    Woke up very late this morning and had a significant nothing day. I tell you it was so good. For lunch I had a yummy chicken, bacon and leek gourmet pie and topped that off with a slice of berry cheesecake and an excellent coffee. So good. I’m feeling rather relaxed this evening as a result. It was nice to take a day off any and all work. Sat in a super solar heated toasty warm bath this afternoon and just gazed out at the view over the valley. A wedge tail eagle did a low fly by this afternoon whilst I was trying to stay awake and I was kind of glad the dogs weren’t outside, although they might be a bit heavy for that mischief nowadays. When the two Kelpies were twelve weeks old I used to have to keep a watch on the skies when they were outside, and the eagles knew the pups would be an easy feed. They pick them up and drop them from a height. Not a pleasant way to go and sometimes they nab dingo puppies too. One such dingo puppy became quite famous because it fell into a persons backyard and survived the fall. It now lives on a farm not far from here, and I should maybe go out there one day and have a look.

    “I am powerless over lemon slices, and my life has become unmanageable.” But they’re so good…

    Exactly, computers are a bad idea. Although they can be occasionally good such as our regular chats!

    I believe that is true about the Dirt Rat Suzuki in that it could have been made simpler. The electric window winders for example can be occasionally dodgy and you have to know the trick to reset them. But other than the engine management and fuel injection system, the car has no computers outside of the after-market radio mp3 player I installed. Compressed music files take a bit of computing power to read. I recall the days of the mid to late 1990’s when a computer took overnight to convert some audio files into mp3 compressed music format. Those were the days!

    Oh no way!!!! So a large rat is worth a small rabbit. Go Blood Plum! I reckon that she is almost there too.

    Does ‘being the newest province’ roughly translate to requiring more Roman troops so as to stomp out the never ending local mischief? I’ve heard claims that the Roman’s never made any mad cash from the British holdings, but that doesn’t quite stack up because they were there for almost four centuries. What do you reckon about those claims?

    Mate, I hear ya, but that is what a gourmet burger and chips costs down here. A main meal at a sit down restaurant will set you back somewhere between $25 and $40 depending upon the ingredients. It’s rare to not spend upwards and beyond of $80 just to go out for dinner. Today’s gourmet pie for example was just under $10. Living costs are expensive down here. Please correct my maths if I’m wrong but I calculate the Stilton cheese to work out at about $50/kg. That is some good cheese there. An excellent tasty cheese here might be up around $30/kg. We all have our little indulgences! 😉

    It does sound like a plan. Did the good weather eventuate? It was another cool but sunny day here today. I really do need to build the much larger greenhouse.



  31. Yo, Chris – Yes, I’d say that’s an accurate reading of the article. One thing that I noticed was that oil executives really don’t think environmental concerns are a problem. But that’s the card they play. Or, their representatives. Maybe it’s where I live, but I often hear oil shortages are caused by “…greenies who won’t let us at the oceans of oil, that are available.” And that sort of thing is encouraged by the oil companies. So that the “…public blames environmental policies.”

    Yes, President Carter spoke some hard truths … and was a one term president. Because it was “Morning in America!” Shake off all that gloom talk! Well, here we are. I think we’re in agreement that we can’t go on living, as we’ve been living. A downsizing … a downshifting is in the works. It can either be done voluntarily (“collapse early and avoid the rush”), or not.

    I poked around on the Net, and got the general gist of “Torching the Dusties.” It’s even been done as a short film. Given that your commentators are mostly beyond retirement age, the conversation could get … lively. A decade or two ago, socialized medicine was squelched, because “Death panels are going to kill grandma!” Changed their tune, due to You Know What. Old people are suddenly expendable.The whiplash is killing me. 🙂 .

    I suppose the nickname “pickle” could also be applied to someone who was sour?

    Chocolate is special and should be treated as such. More on that, later.

    The 6 egg lemon slice recipe did win a blue ribbon. I guess nothing succeeds like success.

    Lady Blood Plum of Fernglade Farm. That’s a mouthful.

    I don’t know about mad cash, but the Romans probably broke even on Britain. At least, for awhile. There was silver, gold, tin, slaves and hunting dogs. Apparently, there was a lot of cereal grown. Which not only fed the on-island troops, but with enough surplus to ship to the troops in Gaul. According to reports. Britain was warmer, then. There might have even been a bit of a wine trade.

    I went to the local grocery, last night. Back to chocolate, again. I’ve mentioned I eat two small squares of dark chocolate, a day. I break them into 8 pieces. So I feel like I’ve had a real treat. Well, the cost has been high and my stash was dwindling. Low and behold, they must have had it on a loss leader. $1.43 per bar. I stocked up. I also picked up a bottle of orange extract. I knew it was going to be expensive. It really was a shocker. $7 for a ounce bottle. Still no almond milk.

    Food box, just came. There was a big bag of frozen peas and carrots. A pack of frozen chicken drumsticks. A quart of milk and a dozen and a half eggs. The usual assortment of tinned fruit and veg. We’ve had about every kind of tinned meat under the sun, but something new. Two small tins of turkey. From the weird and wonderful … a bag of marshmallows, a bag of some kind of chili dipped sunflower seeds, 5 small packets of “Mayday Emergency Drinking Water with a five year shelf life (?), 2 bags of dried prunes, four packets of beef jerky, two bags of chocolate rice crisps, a box of pumpkin spice bar (slice) mix, small bags of dried rice, beans and instant oatmeal. A jar of the good peanut butter that no one will touch, because it’s got the oil floating on the top. And the topper? A box of dark chocolate covered cherries! Back to chocolate, again.

    I worked in the garden, for a couple of hours, yesterday. Weed, weed, weed. There is also a half wooden barrel, in pretty good shape, that was near where the (dear departed) plastic bins were. No one has touched it, since I moved in. All it’s grown is weeds. So, I cleaned out the weeds, and then topped it up with some garden soil and composted chicken poop. I’ll ask the Master Gardeners what they want to put in it. I’ll suggest, something edible. I dug out some horseradish and wild geraniums, that need to be moved. I’ll pot them up, tonight, until it’s decided where they will go. Tonight I plan on actually planting something. Cool weather veg crops. Two kinds of beets, parsnips and carrots.

    I was quit miffed. My broccoli isn’t even up, and yesterday I saw a dreaded white cabbage moth! I’m surprised the blue air didn’t kill him, from my cursing. Lew

  32. Chris,

    That’s a sad story about the forest management and the DjaDja Wurrung people. Whereas our forest “authorities” are beginning to understand the need to clean up deadfalls and whatnot in the forests, the politicians do not. No surprise there. Sigh.

    Good job going directly to the dojo’s head honcho and relating the struggle. That would tell me a lot about a potential student.

    Complicated is about right for Jack London. His stories definitely weren’t Disney cartoons, were they? I have a lot of his stories downloaded from Project Gutenberg onto a thumb drive. They’re an enjoyable read sometimes.

    Quite right, it is very important now to know where to spend one’s energy, where to avoid the expenditure. Most people are rather clueless about this even during less “interesting” times, aren’t they?

    Which of us doesn’t muck things up sometimes, especially the Sun Tzu idea? All we can do is our best at the time, and then learn from the situation later. Oh, yeah, but that entails taking responsibility for yourself, or some similar quaint thing. Mistakes happen, loss happens, taking responsibility for one’s actions gives at least the possibility that sooner or later that same mistake won’t get repeated. But that takes work, and, as you said, accepting that loss is a necessary part of it.

    Hahaha! Culture clash. You summed it up quite well. I’m laughing because I’m trying to compose words around “Culture clash” to the tune of “Monster Mash”.

    There’s a drone update. The drone owner screwed up Friday. I intended to walk Avalanche earlier than usual, but a priority popped up and delayed me to a late start. A block north of the house, Avalanche and I ran into the neighbor teenage girl and one of her friends as they were walking home from school. And the drone. It had been buzzing them and following them for several minutes and maybe 400m or so. The girls were upset and discomfited. They were scared that if they went home, the eejit flying the drone would know where they live.

    So, we grouped together, chatted, got things calmed down. Eventually, seeing that an adult male was with the girls and not leaving, the drone left. By that time, the girls had contacted their mothers with my phone, and I found out that a neighbor of the drone owner had given the girls her name and number. Then the mother of one of the girls filed a police report, including the name and number of the drone owner’s neighbor. This behavior by the drone owner is considered stalking the girls, and is a big no-no. I’m assuming I’ll be contacted by the gendarmes as a witness, as the drone was buzzing around when I was with the girls.
    Avalanche and I remained with the girls until one of their mothers drove up and drove them home. Made for a different type of afternoon.


  33. Hi DJ,

    There are many strange sentiments floating around the ether that us humans exist within, and forest management is certainly one of those instances. Politicians tend to reflect the will of the people and about a decade ago, despite the horrors of Black Saturday in 2009 and the loss of life and destruction of property, a politician I spoke with said that at every announcement of a back burn concerned people would phone in and complain. Only a lack of reach will resolve this craziness. And we’re not getting that far away from such a moment. The indigenous folks speak the plain truth I’m guessing out of plain concern as to the bonkers outcome, but the words fall on mostly deaf ears. The plants and critters pay the highest price for this bizarre outcome.

    Hehe! The head honcho of the Dojo was a smart bloke and unlike the current reliance on the cult of personality, he’d get his best student every night to take the class. And he sat back and observed. It’s the confident bloke who has capable subordinates. So I was able to just walk in off the street, up the stairs (the Dojo was above an auto electrician) and tell my story. Interestingly, I was unaware of his story (or the wait list) until I read the book, so I’m guessing his shoulders were very broad. Narrative is a powerful tool, and the next night I began training. Interestingly, with my interactions with staff over the years, I always followed his model, because it worked. And I even extend that to the dogs. They respect me as the alpha, but they have to exercise their own judgements in difficult situations. I can’t be there to mollycoddle them.

    Thanks for mentioning the author as I had not heard of him before. Can you recommend a best story (unfortunately and sadly my reading time is limited).

    DJ, it’s no secret, but my strategy is pursuing a low cost life. We can make do on very little and it works. It baffles me that I can recount this strategy to other people and get equally baffling looks by way of reply. Of course other forces are at play, and they may be more appealing…

    🙂 I’ve got this recurring joke I use all of the time. I’m not likely to make the same mistake again, I’ll do new and more interesting mistakes!!! It makes me laugh, but I have noticed that this bout of honesty does not inspire confidence in others. Probably their fault.

    The Crypt Kickers Five, indeedy yes! 😉 An ear-worm in disguise and 22 million views can’t be wrong.

    Yeah, that doesn’t surprise me at all. The Editor had a similar drone incident with a friend many years ago. There is a small percentage of the population that are idiots. Nuff said, and glad to hear that the miscreant came to an unpleasant end. That’s the thing with technology, it can be abused. Respect, you did well. I mean you knew that there was trouble there with that use of the drone. The actions of the operator tell you everything you need to know.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    I’m sure that the oil executives have kids and want to sleep at night, so why would they tell themselves that their day to day business is causing current and future harm? But I reckon it is like what I was writing to DJ about the forest management practices down here (and in your country for that matter) people believe what they want to believe. Belief is an amazing faculty of the brain.

    Mate, you’ll get a laugh out of this, but when the Editor and I used to live in the big smoke we were at the very epicentre of green politics. Heck, I used to vote for them. Then we moved up to the bush and I heard people telling me about city ‘greenies’, which they didn’t clearly didn’t think that we belonged too. And then I started to get an understanding of the sort of hypocrisies that are required in order to live in an affluent area of a big city. From what I’ve observed over the years, there are some amazing people up in rural areas doing their own thing, thinking their own thoughts and being productive. Being productive is so alien a concept from that of consumer, it hardly surprises me that from time to time I encounter news articles with concerned academics stating that they want to pull people out of remote and rural living scenarios and corral them into towns. Oh yeah.

    And exactly, if such basic concepts are missed such as being productive, there seems little chance to me that more complicated discussions can take place. I have strong reservations that environmental policies will make any difference to the future outcomes. They might make us feel good, but as to outcomes, I really don’t know whether they are all that effective. The thing is though, the opposite scenario of minimal environmental policies is no better – the whole edifice is stuffed from the factory. We just got it wrong.

    But yeah, I too reckon your President Jimmy Carter was beginning to touch upon the realities. It’s just such a tough sell. The book Rummage we spoke about recently, sort of hedged around that core issue in that from an historical perspective, recycling was done really well when the economic imperatives called for that outcome. When we had a bit of extra spare mad cash / wealth, most people voted for the ‘stuff it’ response and resources went to landfill.

    That’s the thing isn’t it? A downsizing is in the works right now. It’s happening. I tend to believe that it has been happening since the early to mid 1970’s and has just continued apace with the occasional rude jolt. It’s like that old Hemingway quote about going broke: Gradually, then suddenly. I think we might be close to a suddenly moment as the interesting experiment that was globalisation seems to be running off the rails to me. In Club parlance it might be described as being off the wagon. 🙂 Incidentally, Hemingway is a brilliant author, I just get the distinct impression that as a person he might have annoyed the daylights out of me. It’s probably me…

    Lively is definitely the word about that short story. To put the story reference into some perspective, my friend is actually older than I, so the irony of the story reference was not lost on me either and I chose not to disclose that yesterday. Mate, I’m giving my friend the benefit of the doubt here, as you did with me in this instance. I suspect his motives are pure, but my friend and I are going to have to have a chat. He’s an interesting dude, and like me he recently has also been touched by the great resignation, and we spoke about that last we caught up. And seriously, it ain’t just you, the whiplash is killing me too.

    Speaking of death, flies and stuff, the drummer from the Foo Fighters has apparently died. That band did a gig not far from here earlier this month. I couldn’t get my head around that gig because it seemed as if it was backed and promoted by the gobarmint and I hadn’t realised that activity was part of their purview.

    Oh, that’s good. Of course, I presumed the pickle bloke was always in a pickle, but yeah, he could have been a sour-puss.

    Mate, I defer to the blue ribbons in this matter, and would happily consume an award winning six egg lemon slice. I might struggle cooking the slice myself, and it put put in mind of the author Jason Sheehan in his most excellent book ‘Cooking Dirty’ where he recalled the heavy use of butter and the horrified reaction of his too refined audience. I’ll bet it tasted awesome… 🙂

    It may have to be a mouthful because Plum caught a rabbit this morning. That dog works harder than the other two dogs combined. Like theoretically speaking if you put Ollie and Ruby in a blender and produced a Frankenstein dog from the contents, it wouldn’t work as hard, or as effectively. I now rest my case, but am still open to divergent opinions in this matter?

    Oooo! A quick interweb search produced an interesting and very short description of the decline Roman Britain climate and agriculture. It sounds horrific: Climate Change in Ancient Britain. After two cool and wet summers I can well believe such an outcome.

    Top score with the great chocolate bar nab. Extracts are expensive. Spare a thought for the process involved in creating the extract. Yikes!

    Out of curiosity, how does frozen chicken drumsticks get delivered in a box? Wouldn’t they thaw out? Don’t knock the marshmallows and all you need is a long stick and a bonfire and they become a toasty treat, just wait for them to cool before consuming (that was included for the caveat!) Mate, you are chocolate rich. Yum!

    Good to hear that the sun damaged plastic was removed. To quote Arnie: “They had to split!” Apologies for the dodgy humour. Raised garden beds are a bit horrifying the way the soil level sinks as the plants convert soil minerals to plants (plus a touch of compaction). It’s an instructive lesson. I like your choice of soil additives and will be interested to hear what the master gardeners suggest. I leave the raised beds for salad greens and asparagus.

    The chicken enclosure here has about four or five wheelbarrows of soiled litter which I’ll chuck around the orchards, but haven’t yet had the time to do. Earlier today in the cool sunshine I mixed up and chucked around two weeks of ash, agricultural lime and coffee grounds. It’s a heady mixture of soil goodness. Plus I removed three fruit trees from their wallaby proof cages. I do hope that the wallabies play nice with them.

    Out of curiosity, what sort of beets are you planting? I noted that seed stocks of sugar beets disappeared earlier this year and wondered about that. Well yeah, the usual broccoli grows over the summer months, but then so do those pesky white moths. The purple broccoli grows over the winter months and seemed less hassled by cabbage moths. I had a similar result with kale too between the different varieties. With a few exceptions, and I recommend the thin leaved perennial rocket, most Brassica species fall prey to the pesky moths.



  35. Hello Chris
    The storms didn’t cause any serious problems in this area. Mostly trees down.
    I gather that new coral reefs have been discovered in other places. I wish that we would relax about the climate and leave the planet to get on with it. Have heard that some things are starting to deliberately eat plastic.
    Glorious weather here at the moment but we are being threatened with coming arctic conditions. All my plants which are just starting to poke their heads above the soil, will have to cower down again.


  36. Yo, Chris – Back when I was in the tat business, I once sold a quilt to Disney Studios. It turned up in one of their films of a Jack London story. Just a glimpse of the quilt. Still, gave me a thrill. You might also poke into the poems of Robert Service. Even my Dad, who had little formal education, could reel off stanzas of his poems. And, some of the parodies. 🙂

    I’d guess oil executive’s kids are packed off to boarding schools. And seldom seen. The late, lamented Molly Ivins (reporter, author) was the daughter of an oil executive. I’m sure her parents wondered where they had gone wrong. 🙂 .

    Yup. We’re stuffed and got it wrong. Oh, well. I suppose we’ll muddle through as best we can. In news from the eco-world, I suppose you’ve heard a giant chunk of the Conger ice shelf, broke off. 463 square miles of it. It’s causing concern, as they thought the eastern Antarctic was fairly stable. Surprise! Isn’t. And, in a recent survey of bird species, in the Chicago area, it has been discovered that 1/3 of them are laying their eggs 25 days earlier, than 100 years ago.

    You have mentioned the problems with spraying for weeds along your roadways. This was in our newspaper, yesterday.,286716

    I think that relates in a way, to your comment on corraling us all in towns. I’ve notice those kinds of articles, from time to time. I figured the way they’d go about it is to keep picking at rural infrastructure. Right now, there’s a bit of a crisis as rural hospitals are closing left and right. But there will always be a few hardy souls, who will head to the bush. And just want to be left alone.

    That’s a good quote from Hemingway. But I must admit I have never been able to warm to his stories.

    As far as the short story goes, the speculation of motives also crossed my mind. But, I would like to read it, and, would like to track down a copy of the short film. One must keep in mind that us Dusties will not go gentle into that good night. To paraphrase Dylan Thomas. And, at least in this country, the old Dusties are well armed. 🙂

    Foo who? 🙂

    You don’t want to delve too deeply into the definitions of “picklebum.” 🙂

    Go Lady Plum! When’s the investiture ceremony? I’ll pencil in the date.

    The chicken drumsticks arrive frozen, so, I’d guess they’re not in transit, very long. And I think the food box provides some insulation.

    Yes, marshmallows on a stick and a blazing fire, are quit nice. Especially if you clamp one between two graham crackers when you pull it off the stick. Provides protection against burnt fingers and provides a tasty treat. See: “S’more.”

    Well, I am stiff and sore, today. Worked in the garden. Still nothing in the ground. But the ground is now ready. I worked over my largest bed, clearing parsley (no worries. Still plenty around), vinca and various assorted other weeds. Turned the dirt, added a bag and a half of composted chicken manure. Also, a sprinkling of lime and stove ash. Raked it in. So, it’s ready to plant. Not tonight. I’ve got another project on the go.

    The beets I plant are Ox Blood and Cylinder. The Ox Blood has really nice looking leaves. Thanks for mentioning asparagus. I’m working up a list of suggestions, for the Master Gardeners. As to what to put in that spare tub.

    I stopped by the library, today, and picked up a book I put on hold last month. “The Far Land: 200 Years of Murder, Mania & Mutiny in the South Pacific.” (Presser, 2021). I’m always up for a bit of murder, mania and mutiny. Not necessarily in that order. Also, the movie “Moonfall” hit the new list. I put a hold on it. Should show up soon. Lew

  37. Yo, Chris – Again. Ah, here’s how they did the bird egg survey …

    I wondered. “Excuse me Mrs. Robin, but do you have the urge to lay eggs earlier than usual?” “Well, that’s a bit of a personal question!”

    I saw a raven, this morning. Must have been a young one, as he was a bit on the small size. I thought at first, it was a crow. But then he vocalized. Nothing like the call of a raven. Lew

  38. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the links but I have this thing about not reading books on screens. I do try to limit my screen time due to the paid work that I do. Truly, an e-reader would be utterly wasted on me. I’ll see if I can pick up a physical book.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Maybe it is just me, but I get the distinct impression that I’d enjoy the works of Robert Service over Mr Hemingway any day of the week. Plus I feel the need to add that he was by far the more interesting of the two characters. Top work with the quilt sale. 🙂

    And many thanks for introducing me to the splendid Molly Ivins. One can never be 100% certain in any matter, but she would have been super fun to have dinner with.

    That doesn’t surprise me at all about Antarctica. I’d heard about the record heat last week. And let’s not forget that it was warm enough to rain over the usually frozen continent – which I might remind you has active volcanoes. There was trouble in the north too in the Arctic. Yeah, it’s a mess. Here is the article I read last week: Antarctic and Arctic heat records have been smashed. What’s going on? I’d put that in the not good category.

    Mate, nature responds to the circumstances. Birds after all have been around for a very long time. The results however might just not look like things do today – and therein lies the problem. I notice that some autumns, the fruit trees produce a second round of blossoms and sometimes even tiny fruits. What’s that all about?

    Thanks for the article, and I feel for the vet being faced with that level of crazy. The sentence which summed it all up was: “The spraying of herbicides allows the county to cut back on the cost of equipment for mowing, he said.” I’d noticed that the local council here appears to have been pretty slack with the roadside mowing this year. It’s a mess out there, but at the same time it’s an expensive process. The Editor and I mow the roadsides here because I can’t actually recall the last time the council did the job. Maybe I’m being overly practical here, but I recall that one aspect of the Paradise fires to the south of you was that people had super thick vegetation between each other. It’s probably not an ideal situation.

    That happens here too, and I fully expect that services to more remote rural areas will be cut sooner or later. Far out, look at the diesel crisis quietly building up, and back in 2005 one truck picked up the areas household garbage, and now I believe three trucks do the same job. That’s crazy as, and makes little ecological sense, but you know people feel good about it all. And you can’t run those trucks on the more usual petroleum (gas in US parlance) – ain’t gonna happen. And that is it exactly, I don’t need or want those services, but plenty of other people do.

    Yeah, well the issue of motives came to my mind too, but like I said benefit of the doubt and all that. He knows he has to not push boundaries if he wants to comment here. I maintain those boundaries not because it is my natural inclination, but it is because people say stupid stuff on the interweb that they’d never say in public. And why should those two situations be different?

    Thank you for the continuing formal education. Poets today, I can respect that. Dylan Thomas was a complicated fellow.

    Sure you haven’t heard of those local lads. 🙂

    A few photos of Plum’s efforts from this week will be included. It is almost time that she penned a guest post. Hmm.

    Well that is an entirely new branch of culinary excellence which I’d previously not encountered. S’more. Dare I suggest that it is but a mere hop, skip and a jump to state fair food from that meal? 😉

    It’s good to hear that your parsley grows all year around – as it does here. And yes, it does seem like a rather prolific plant which I chuck into all manner of meals requiring leafy greens. Almost perfect: “composted chicken manure. Also, a sprinkling of lime and stove ash.. As a friendly suggestion, next time you generate stove ash, get some cardboard as that contains a touch of the element Boron, and all plants need that. Mind you, you could just mix in a tiny teaspoon of Borax – same stuff from what I believe.

    Thanks for mentioning the variety of beets. Asparagus is definitely worth the effort and I reckon would be perfect for the tub. Just don’t let them go to seed otherwise they’ll take over the tub and lose by winning.

    I agree that the order is slightly incorrect. If I dare change the title, I’d suggest that the order might appropriately be: Mania, Mutiny and Murder? Of course I have no personal experience with these things and am going with a gut feel. Moonfall looks like a feral epic disaster flick! Enjoy. 🙂

    Better get writing…



  40. Hi Inge,

    Good to hear that the high wind speeds from those storms didn’t damage much infrastructure. I tend to view such storms as natures alternative forest thinning events. The fallen trees let sunlight fall upon soil that was previously shaded, and then new and interesting responses can occur.

    The fallen trees here would be a mixed blessing of additional housing and feed for forest soil critters, but at the same time they’re fire hazards. Some fallen timber is good, but too much is bad, but of course things are different in your part of the world on that front.

    It’s complicated isn’t it? To be candid, my fellow humans seem very uninterested in curtailing their activities which are clearly changing the composition of gases in the atmosphere. The planet on the other hand has been through worse times before and no doubt will be faced with similar challenges again in the future. What most people don’t really seem to grasp is that they might not like or enjoy the outcomes of their actions. But I refuse to put emotional or physical energy into things that most people don’t seem to give a stuff about.

    Ooo, the eating plastic business is not good given how much of societies infrastructure is produced using the stuff. Ah, enzymes, of course the biological knives of the critterverse. Makes sense. My understanding of plastic recycling is that the stuff can only through two cycles of use and then recovery, but I’m no expert. It’s a super useful product though.

    Fingers crossed that your island avoids the worst of the Arctic conditions. It was a fine and lovely day here today, even a touch warm.



  41. Yo, Chris – Jack London, Robert Service … those were authors! Jack London wrote a short, autobiographical book called “John Barleycorn.” The title is an old euphemism for demon rum. 🙂 Well, not so much rum, but whiskey, etc.. There was something about Alaska. I think it was that here in “The lower 48”, we’d run out of frontier. And, suddenly, there was Alaska, to catch the imagination.

    Molly Ivins was such a wit. I seldom laugh out loud when reading. But I did when reading her books. A film bio about her came out, about three years ago. Here’s a taste, from the trailer.

    Getting back to kids being shipped off to boarding school, a couple of nights ago, I watched a documentary about Truman Capote. They were interviewing a woman whose family were friends with Capote. They asked her about certain events, and she said she wasn’t there for them, as she’d been “banished.” The reporter inquired to what she meant by that. Her father was the head of one of the big TV networks. She butted heads with him (topic unknown) and, was shipped off to a boarding school.

    That was quit an article about rising temperatures at the poles. Maybe there’s oceans of oil under all that ice and snow? 🙂

    Oh, we may loose some species of birds. Some are a bit over specialized. But I think some will manage to squeak through. We have quit a few, I think, hawthorne trees around the Institution. Last fall, after their leaves had fallen, one branch on one tree burst into bloom. What was that all about? Psychotic tree episode?

    Ever thought of making up a nice rabbit stew? I’ve never had it, myself. But a lot of people seem to think highly of it.

    State Fair food is a lot more “creative” than simple s’mores. But judging by some of the photos from your agricultural shows, you’re not far behind. They really are similar to our county and state fairs.

    I get the stove ash from Julia. So, there’s probably cardboard mixed in there. Borax, as in the laundry soap? The “Twenty Mule Team” stuff? Which is also good for killing ants, when mixed with a little sugar. But it must be kept away from pets.

    The Master Gardeners will be here to divvy up the garden plots, tomorrow. Either then, or the next day when they do they’re usual round, I’ll probably find out about the orphan tub.

    I started reading “The Far Land,” last night. Not what I expected. But it’s pretty fascinating. It’s about the Bounty Mutiny and Pitcairn Island. More about reconstructing what happened on the island, after the mutiny. When I was a wee small lad, I remember an article about Pitcairn Island in the National Geographic. Part of it was about underwater archaeology and the Bounty. But also about the people who live on the island. I was enthralled.

    I made orange muffins, again, last night. Tomorrow is my 33d birthday, and I wanted to take a batch down to The Club, today, as more of my mates are around on Sundays. It went a lot smoother, but was still pretty fiddly. But didn’t take as long. Probably due to the fact that I didn’t have to spend 5+ minutes, digging through kitchen tool drawers, looking for the zester. 🙂 I added 1/2 tsp. of orange extract. I tried one, last night, and I think it jazzes up the orange flavor. We’ll see what the troops think.

    I had another go at the Harvest Chili, over rice. Eleanor gave me her two tubs, as she worried it might upset her stomach. Fine by me. Had one, threw the other in the freezer. She also gave me her box of chocolate covered cherries. Yum-o. Lew

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