Bored of the whinge

“Self help week’ was how my grandfather called it, thus proving that it was best not to attempt to hit him up for stuff. Every spring he used to take me camping with his WWII buddies, and I loved every minute of it. They’d put me to constant work fetching this and that for them, and I do my best to dodge the work and scamper off and away into the surrounding bush on an adventure.

The camp site was well set up in state forest on small bluff overlooking the Jamieson River. Probably illegal. You should have heard the old fella’s sitting around the fire, a couple of whiskey’s up their bellies, moths dying ’round the gas lantern, the night all around whilst they talked big about what they’d do if the government destroyed the camp site. Make it bigger and better was what they’d do, and did!

Getting away in the bush with the guys for a few days was cool. Home meant a single mother and two older sisters, so I had no idea what guys were meant to do. Talk big, act big was what my grandfather and WWII buddies did. They don’t make them like that any more.

There’s been a lot of whingeing in the news recently about the rise in interest rates on borrowings. It’s a real problem being an over educated working class bloke. Work is an expected and a normal part of life. Free and easy money printing, and near zero interest rates (the cost of money) doesn’t thrill me. Never liked it – sounds like money for nothing. Always there was the sense that a day of reckoning would come, and here we are now, with a lot of whingeing in the media about interest rate rises on borrowings.

Proving that being prudent isn’t rewarded in these carefree economically enlightened days, the lovely lady at the bank earlier this week advised me that they hadn’t increased their interest rates on deposits. We shared an uncomfortable laugh.

My grandfather was born in 1924, and by mid WWII he was old enough to head off and fight. He went off to Europe, and did just that by becoming a bomber pilot. By comparison to that, interest rate rises on borrowings seems like a minor inconvenience and hardly worth a proper whinge.

After visiting the banksters and receiving the hard-to-explain news, some rather ungentlemanly words might have escaped my mouth. Certainly the thoughts were there. However, there had been more than enough whingeing of late, and so I accepted the news with good grace and simply got on with my life. But for some strange reason I began thinking about a certain book: The Catcher in the Rye.

For whatever reason, I was forced to read that book in High School, and I loathed it. For some reason unknown to me, my opinion in this matter is unpopular. Needless to say that in the final exams, I studied hard and was an academic colour-man (having been an A-grade student). The subject of English was not part of that achievement. Nope. Definitely not. And having to read such drivel was probably part of the poor English result.

For those who have never read the book, consider yourself lucky. But for those who have, well, how could they ever forget the protagonist: Holden Caulfied? The narrative followed the entitled Holden over a few days of his life, and boy could he kick up a solid whinge or what? I recall one scene where he reached out to a teacher who was clearly concerned for the kid, and after Holden departed we see into his thought processes where he believes the teacher was gay because of the teacherly concern (I believe the code word was ‘flit’ whatever that meant). Anyway, it seemed like a big call to me. If I could have given Holden a bit of advice it would be this: Whingeing is not sexy mate.

The book to me was one whiny episode after another, and there were times I would have like to have been given the chance to take poor little Holden along to the local Dojo and trounce him. Of course, unlike the entitled Holden who seemed to have plenty of mad cash when needed, I had to work to pay for the fees at the local Dojo.

Money was tight in a single parent household. I got up before dawn most days and did one or two newspaper delivery rounds in order to have enough money to do things like say, pay for fees at the local Dojo.

And unlike Holden, I didn’t expect the adults in my life to provide a great deal of interest in my concerns. Who can forget how cadet camp ended? My school mates and I had spent three days out in the bush roughing it in army fatigues, eating canned and survival food. It was great fun and we even got to shoot .303 rifles at a range! Cool. The school bus dropped us off after the camp, and that was when I realised that nobody was coming to pick me up. All the other kids seemed to have that sorted out, but not my household. Dejectedly I walked to the bus stop in my three day bush stained army fatigues, carrying my standard army issue sausage bag full of camping stuff. I jumped on the bus so as to meet the connecting bus. Got on the connecting bus and eventually made it home. When I got home, I didn’t give them anything, there was no point whingeing about it.

We’ve been sorting out the infrastructure on the farm recently. And just like my grandfather and his WWII buddies, we’re doing the hard yards to make the infrastructure bigger and better. There’s no point whingeing about the work required to achieve that, you know. But when I hear all the whingeing going on around me, I don’t believe that will be the path that the our society is going to take. And I wonder to myself: Did the previous quarter century of easy money mean that little?

I had a spare day this week, and the weather was good, so we did a lot of work on the new greenhouse project. Earlier in the week I went to a local timber yard and picked up supplies of timber for the new greenhouse project.

The dirty Dirt Rat Suzuki was used to bring back supplies of timber

Observant readers will note in the above photo that the Dirt Rat Suzuki is very dirty indeed due to the combination of wet weather and very muddy roads.

After another days work the greenhouse corners were pegged out so that the building will be square. Then the four corner posts were cemented into the ground.

Plum understands the importance of dimensional accuracy

Another days work meant that the remaining posts were cemented into the ground, and the true size of the greenhouse could be appreciated!

Ollie appreciates the size and grandeur of the new greenhouse

Sandra and I used the timber supplies to construct the roof trusses, support them, and tie the posts together. We make a virtue of wasting very little timber by joining scrap lengths using nailing plates so as to produce much longer pieces.

The string line indicates the centre of the greenhouse roof

By the time night was threatening to take away the light, we had all of the roof trusses installed. There is real beauty in the symmetry of well constructed buildings.

Ruby is most impressed by the hard work!

The ongoing war on rats continues. I believe that there is now only a single rat stuck inside the chicken enclosure. For obvious reasons, the rat does not wish to decamp from the land of fresh water and plentiful grains. I have other ideas in this matter and am continuing to slowly modify the chicken enclosure so as to exclude rats. As part of that work I did a massive clean-up of the deep litter mulch in the chicken run, and removed about six or seven wheelbarrow loads of soiled bedding. The mineral rich soiled bedding was used to get soil started in some areas around the farm which were disturbed in the excavations a few weeks ago.

Ollie loves chicken manure – it’s a dirty love! Yum!

We had our first frost of the season earlier this week. It was cold, and the top of the Dirt Mouse Suzuki froze solid.

Frost on the top of the Dirt Mouse Suzuki

Despite the first frost, the leaf change hasn’t quite finished. Drats.

Plum enjoys walking along the cherry lined path

The strange flip-flop between warmer days and colder days combined with the wet weather has meant that mushrooms are growing everywhere. Not much says ‘I’m toxic’ more than a yellow coral imitating mushroom:

A mushroom doing a good imitation of coral

Onto the flowers:

A rare white form of Alpine Heath
The Salvia’s continue to please and the Honeyeater’s love them
This pink form Salvia is a recent addition
This Aster is a very cheery looking flower
Few flowers can compete with Passionfruit for intricacy

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 365.4mm (14.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 361.2mm (14.2 inches)

57 thoughts on “Bored of the whinge”

  1. Yo, Chris – LOL. So, your wingeing about wingeing? I’ve never read “Catcher in the Rye” … but I feel like I have. 🙂

    I always hoped the adults in my life would have no interest in my concerns. I figured, the less they knew, the better.

    Plum is concerned because the posts are 0.2 out of alignment. Ollie is also concerned, and says he’ll never enter the greenhouse, as it’s a death trap. 🙂 There’s never a more satisfying feeling, then completing a task, and having very few left over scraps. It’s indicative of careful planning. Your greenhouse is moving right along and will be a stately edifice. With plenty of elbow and head room.

    Can’t tell the players, without a scorecard. A cast of characters. I’ve just trigged to the fact that there’s a Dirt Rat AND a Dirt Mouse, Suzuki. The frosted red roof was the tip off.

    Plum is a woman on a mission. Rats! She wants rats! Or maybe, a plump rabbit!

    The coral mushroom is weirdly beautiful. Is the white Alpine Heath, native? Or is it something you’ve planted? The pink salvia has an orchid like quality. I see that Asters also come in blue. Wow! I’ll have to look into those. The passion fruit flower is just about as weird as the mushroom.

    I got the blueberries fertilized, today. There was a bag of ammonium sulfate, in the garden room. Didn’t take much. Lew

  2. Hi Crow,

    You have a pretty good grasp of the system if you understand that cloudy warm days where it is too warm to run the wood heater produces no hot water. 😉 Respect. We’ve thought about that too, and that’s what the instant-on LPG water heater is for. Now of course the last time I ordered a bottle (and it was a very long time ago), the 45kg gas bottle cost me $150, plus a quarterly rental fee. Gas clearly is not cheap, and it won’t get cheaper. The state I live in is facing a shortage of gas. So that energy source is our last option.

    Now, here’s the thing. If I’d had more faith in the solar electric system, I could have used the hot water header tank as a dump load via a low voltage electric element (sort of like an electric kettle) for when there is an excess of solar electric capacity. But alas, after much experience with solar electricity, I did not trust the system. Possibly it may have worked, and the local electronics folks make such a clever controller. Hmm. Dunno.

    The thing is, how much complexity do you add into your systems before your brain explodes? That is the question!

    And yes, you are exactly correct about the negative feedback with the wood heater. In order to overheat the hot water system, first grasshopper, one must over heat the house. And who would ever want that?

    What a question. Any system you can over do things. I spoke to the manufacturing folks about the wood heater and they told me that some people can make the steel get red hot. This is not a good thing for all sorts of reasons including longevity of said machine. Moderation in moderation is the watchword here.

    Lately I’ve been coming around to the idea that a masonry wood heater with a cast iron door and stainless steel boiler might be the ultimate arrangement from the point of view of longevity. Maybe a project for the future? Certainly spare parts for the locally manufactured wood heater are devilishly hard to obtain right now.

    Possibly it is also karma. Look we (as a civilisation) blew it and took the money printing too far. A little bit would have been cool, but the rate they churn the stupid things out has become a problem. And not all problems can be solved by throwing money at them because sometimes you need ‘stuff’ instead.

    Sounds about right to me. Hey, check this out: The rush to renewable energy means a new mining boom. But first, Australia needs to make some tough choices .



  3. Hi Lewis,

    I ask you this: Is whingeing about whingeing, a whinge squared? 😉 Clearly your sixth sense screamed at you not to read that particular book, and you went with your gut feeling there. Or am I wrong here? I dunno, maybe I’m biased, and maybe you could get that interlibrary loan system geared up and put the book on hold? For all I know, you might enjoy it? It’s hardly a difficult read.

    Hehe! Oh man, you are so correct about the adults. Yup. I only ended up in trouble when I asked permission from that lot. Lesson learned very early on with unreasonable folks: Don’t ask for permission. Dunno though, as by my late teenage years I just fitted within the rules but otherwise did what I wanted to do. And nobody seemed overly concerned. With two older sisters, I have a hunch that my mother was busy with them, certainly that was what conversations seemed to revolve around. Suited me just fine, although they reap what they sowed on that front.

    Plum is a sensitive and discriminating lady to have concerned herself with the almost accurate dimensions of the new greenhouse. 🙂 Ollie is like that, he’s sensible, but you wait until I chuck the fertiliser into the raised beds in the new greenhouse – he’ll be in like Flynn for sure (to sample the fertiliser just to be sure) and fear of death traps will be but a moment in the dim past.

    Thanks for noticing that about the new greenhouse. 🙂

    I must say, there are moments in Margaret Atwood’s essays which are uproariously funny. I rather enjoy the seriousness of the text, then lest we all become too pretentious, the most excellent author chucks in a very amusing line. Oh, they’re good and I’m nearing the latter part of the book at around 2016. Ah, politics… Yes, yes, of course.

    Yes, there are two Dirt Suzuki’s! 🙂 The Japanese make excellent vehicles, and the Dirt Rat is now 18 years old and still going strong. With car supply shortages these days, I am rather nervous of the Dirt Rat being written off, but what shall be, shall be. The shortage of new vehicles continues, and the second hand car market is booming as a result.

    I woke Plum up to ask her opinion as to which it is: rats, or rabbits? Firstly she seemed rather unimpressed at having her slumber disturbed, before then groggily peering at me through stare-ee eyes and answered: Both! That’s enthusiasm for you. She works hard that dog. On a rabbit front, about maybe a week ago I was walking Plum late at night and spotted three sets of eyes in the orchard. I’m guessing a Vixen and her two cubs were on the hunt. People get weird about foxes, but they do tend to keep the rabbits mostly in check.

    No, the alpine heath is very much a local plant, and it is usually found here with red or pink flowers. The white flowered variety are rather rare around these parts. I reckon the Aster’s would do very well in your part of the world, and they die back over the winter months, only to reappear in spring. A mate told me that the passionfruit variety I’m growing here is rootstock and thus I get no fruits from. It was originally from a grafted variety and I believe the graft died and the rootstock survived. There are plans to grow a proper seedling variety of the vine which produces the awesome tasting passionfruit. Such a lovely tasting fruit and I highly recommend them.

    Oh, you’re good. That’s a great fertiliser choice for blueberries. Yes, I could see they’d like that stuff. Interesting and not an option I would have considered for those plants.

    There was footage of the tornado. Hope DJ and his lady were OK. Time will tell, although it looked like a small sort of tornado you get like the ones here.

    I’ve always enjoyed the Foo Fighters music, but then I became an adult during the grunge era, and such music forms the soundtrack of those earlier years. Young folks had plenty to be angry about what with 10% unemployment. Nowadays unemployment is so low that people are checking if the bodies are cold, and if they’re still warm they might have to come in and work on Saturday! 🙂 But still young folks have plenty to be angry about nowadays in relation to the cost of housing – the dream they were sold has become a nightmare (although that sounds like a cliche, but it is true all the same).

    Very funny, and I can’t speak for those bakery folks, but that has been my experience with them. It bothers me how some people don’t seem to be even remotely concerned about the loss of civil rights. Those things are hard won, and from what I’ve seen: easily lost.

    Now you may laugh, however… Wombat mauls bushfire survivor. That was from back in 2010, and only a year after the Black Saturday bushfires. It is possible that the wombat had been fed by plenty of people in that area and the bloke just happened to step on the wombat on the wrong day. They have a very powerful bite. Meeting a three tonne wombat would be an exciting prospect, almost a bit like Jurassic Park? Hope they don’t get annoyed!

    All leaders rise and fall, so sad. I tend to believe that the appearance the man projects is projected to lull his opponents into a false sense of their own superiority. It’s also a distraction technique. He read classics at Oxford, I had have to suggest that he’s no fool. Our politicians are usually well educated too. Of course, education is one thing and character and ability to utilise what has been learned is something else. And it is not lost on me that there is a difference between the intellectual understanding of a subject, and the knowing of a subject through application.

    Ah, a great archaeological find (and on a side note things have not changed all that much across the millennia – teenagers still have to fetch, as evidenced in this week’s blog!). Humour me for a second. New Mexico is a far way inland, and there would have been coastal sites which would have been far easier to exist at. So, I’d have to suggest on a balance of probabilities, humans would have been around on your continent far longer than that, what was it: 23,000 or so years. It’s possible your more active environment ate the evidence.

    That’s the sign of a very good book. I’ve had some Stephen King books like that! I’ll go to sleep in a little while, but what happens next? 🙂

    Again congrats for the festivities for your Club. It sounds lovely.

    I’d like to think that I was on the correct side of coherent.



  4. masonry heaters: Not sure if this would work for you, it can be a bit intricate to do properly, but here is a link to an off grid couple who’ve been doing it for many years, and I find lots of practical wisdom on their website. If one could shore up the foundation for the extra weight, and the stove was amenable to a reroute of the flue gas, a retrofit of mass could be an option.

    Hardening off: Each spring, we start our veggies in the warm, protected confines of our sunroom. They get watered and pampered till they are big enough, then we introduce them to the real world, but slowly. A few hours a day at first, hauling back in if hard rains, high winds, or hot sun are expected. Over time, they toughen up, and then can handle the garden and the wide world. If not for this, many might perish on the first harsh day.

    I fear that millions of Americans will not get adequate time to harden off before they are thrust from the gentle conditions that our empire has provided to the gritty future we are entering. The minor ripples we are seeing now already have folks going tharn or popping the prozac.

    As Kurt Vonnegut often said, “So it goes”.

    I can’t help myself, here is a book title: (At least it’s sorta sci-fi)
    “The Parable of the Sower” by Octavia Butler. Spins a good tale about life near a big metro area during early collapse. Written in 1993, is well ahead of JMG’s deindustrial fiction movement.

    trusses: Not to harp on this again, but I still get nervous when I see your trusses with no lower tension chord. Maybe you haven’t installed them yet? Don’t know what you pitch and span are, but there are on line truss calculators. OK, I’ll back off now.

  5. Hello Chris
    Whinge, whinge, whinge, it seems to be the norm these days. Curiously enough not amongst my rural neighbours.
    I read ‘The catcher in the rye’ long, long ago and vaguely remember that I enjoyed but I have totally forgotten it now.
    Son says that he has the Seymour self sufficiency book that you have.
    I have a fish box with strawberry plants in it. They have all died as have 2 radish plants in there. But, very strangely a tiny hidden potato in there has sprouted and is absolutely flourishing. So weird.


  6. Yo, Chris – All this talk of masonry stoves. The other day I was reading a news report about a system of caves (I think, in Turkey) where these were all these built ins. Carved ins? And, they mentioned “Kangs.” Which nibbled at my memory. A shallow dive down the rabbit hole … Cooking was done over the firebox at one end, and the family tucked in for the winter, at the other end. They’re often thought of as particularly Chinese, but are found right across the north of Eurasia, in a lot of different cultures. You can’t keep a good idea down.

    The Book That Shall Not Be Named, wasn’t assigned. I vaguely remember picking it up, reading a few chapters, thought “This is rubbish,” and never took a second look. Nor will I. Not the least bit tempted.

    Yup. Atwood can be a hoot. I wonder if she has any other collections of essays? Did you get to the essay about their adventures in back to the landing?

    Foxes are all well and good, as long as they stay out of your hen house and don’t go all rabid. I thought the fox in “The Green Knight” was a nice touch. Japan has a nice take on foxes.

    Another money making idea you can ignore. Propagate the white Alpine Heath and sell it. Once you get your farm gate stand, up and running. 🙂

    Well, like Mt. Everest, I used the ammonium sulfate because it was there. 🙂 In the garden room. And, I’d done a bit of research. There were also bags of Rhodie fertilizer, which can also be used. But, we have a lot of Rhodies that need to be fertilized, so I thought I should just leave that alone.

    That was quit an article about the Wombat attack. I wonder if he’d been singed, in the brush fires, and was perhaps in a bit of pain and grumpy? Well, there you go. Always have an ax handy, when encountering a Wombat.

    The problem is, possible coastal sites are underwater, due to sea level rise. Due to the ice sheets, the only way to get to the Americas, was down the coast. And we’re dealing with small populations, that “lived lightly on the land.” The tool kit used at that time, was also a problem. Are you looking at a possible rock tool? Or something that was geologically made? To be really convincing, you need positive proof of human presence. A body would be nice. Foot prints, will do.

    The comet book is really interesting. Talk about a perfect storm. Comets of that size had hit the earth, before. But caused mostly localized damage. This comet had elements in play that caused it to be a world wide catastrophe. Angle of descent, what the comet was made of, what the rock it hit was made of, that it fell on a bit of shallow sea … a sea / land margin. All those factors made everything worse. They figure 75% of all species on earth were snuffed out. Either by the initial impact and fires, or, the “nuclear” winter that followed. But, it wiped the slate pretty clean, and enabled the rise of the mammals. If not for the comet, we’d probably not be here.

    I reconstructed the pantry, yesterday morning. Not bad. I had let it run down, a bit, so only had to deal with two boxes and a bag. Two people gave me a total of $40, so I can go shopping. There’s a request for more meat. It disappears so fast. That and any kind of tinned fruit.

    Well, now that I’ve got the blueberries out of the way, I can get out in the garden, this afternoon, and attend to other things. Like the volunteer potatoes that came up in the middle of my carrots. 🙁 . I’ll dig them out and do some re-seeding. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,

    It is a complex system but it does not appear to have any moving parts (unless you include the water?). The fernglade farm axis could be to chose one: complexity or moving parts. What is the volume of the copper pipes? I estimate 40 L. When you turn the tap on in the kitchen does that trigger a pump outside or is it somehow gravity fed?

    I was actually thinking about the times you have excess heat during winter and a lack of battery juice. Sending the excess hot water to a flash boiler which runs a mini steam engine generator feeding power to the batteries. Moving parts + complexity goodness!

    I once stayed at a place heated with a clay oven. Incredibly efficient. A few blocks of wood to heat up the oven (+ water) which would radiate all through the rest of the evening. Could also bake some bread.

    To get all that material out of the ground and made into something useful and then transported somewhere interesting to be converted into something complex and installed somewhere scenic to be maintained over a certain period will require incredible amounts of energy at every step in the process with losses.

    Apparently the yard out the back of us, which is now full of trees, contained a house that took a direct hit during WWII and was never rebuilt. Maybe that was one of your grandfather’s special deliveries? Thanks to him, we have a nice view into the green from the balcony and not another house 🙂

  8. Hello Chris,
    the new greenhouse looks great, at least twice as long and twice as wide than the previous one. Will you grow only in containers, or also in the soil?

    Thanks for the info from last week regarding the rain water tanks. Indeed, to have that much water higher in the landscape can be a risk for catastrophic failure. A pump is better than a deluge.

    And for 1940s books, I prefer Grapes of Wrath.

    Have a great week,

  9. From the Book of Enlightened Master Xa-bi-er:

    ‘Superior man: fight or flight;

    Inferior person: whinge!’

  10. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the link. That system with the masonry wouldn’t work here as the 30kW wet back absorbs most of the heat and then redistributes it around the house. When I meant masonry heaters, I was thinking a modified form of the older school varieties – of which are quite common around these parts (although new ones don’t seem to get constructed these days). The main problem with the current heater is that I reckon the steel is not up to scratch.

    Hardening off is something I need to put more attention towards next year with the seedlings, and your arrangement sounds pretty good.

    Nice segue! And yeah, all very unfortunate. It needn’t have been this way sorry to say.

    🙂 Book recommendations are coming thick and fast. I cannot keep up and admit defeat!

    No worries about the trusses. Have a look at the photo of all of the timber posts cemented into the ground. Can you see that they are self supporting? Masonry walls by contrast are quite flimsy in that they are made from lots of components, and mortar is not necessarily that great a glue. The bottom chords with trusses ties the walls together so that the roof load doesn’t push the building apart. The walls in this instance are self supporting and don’t require that assistance. Hang around and find out how it goes the next time we get a-whopper-of-a wind storm. You’ll see.

    I think that another difference would be that your roofs are subject to weight loading from heavy snowfall – no easy thing to accommodate for roof timbers.



  11. Hi Inge,

    Yes, the same is true here too, and it is a notable difference between urban and rural folks. Have you ever wondered as to the why of that question? I’m not sure, but I do wonder if the necessity for self reliance in rural areas produces the different outcome? Dunno.

    I’m starting to feel a bit bad for disliking the book so publicly! As a general rule I do rather prefer the writings of The Bronte Sisters to that of Jane Austen. The Editor has been reading several books of the Bronte sisters recently, and they are very complex and dark stories. It does make me wonder about some of the men they came into contact with back in the day – they seemed like trouble.

    The self sufficiency book is a good book, but I had a bit of trouble translating into this environment.

    How intriguing with the plants! A mystery. Potatoes I’ve noted are far hardier than most people believe.



  12. Hi Crow,

    Well yeah, that is an excellent insight, and reducing complexity is part of developing the systems here. It is hard not to notice that reduced complexity generally leads to a longer life span for systems.

    I’m not entirely certain, but for some reason the length of 18m of standard half inch copper pipes comes to mind. You can enjoy the math puzzle presented and so calculate the volume of water?

    Another good question. In order to stop the water pump cycling for short periods of time, I have installed a 20L pressure tank. The tank can supply quite a lot of water at pressure before the pump needs to kick off. Having a pump rapidly cycle is a good way to break them.

    Incidentally, when the hot tap in the kitchen is turned on, I collect the 2L of cold water in a jug for later re-use. After that the water is toasty warm.

    I don’t think so. The water doesn’t get that hot, and a boiler would be a nightmare of a system. The header tank is open vented – it has to be otherwise it turns into a boiler…

    Out of curiosity, with the clay oven, was that going already when you arrived?

    It’s a crazy idea, and requires a lot of diesel. A whole lot of diesel fuel. In fact more diesel fuel than we probably have access too. But on the other hand, it does sound pretty good in theory. 🙂 Just don’t hold your breath waiting.

    Good shot! He didn’t seem to be the careless sort, or suffer from poor eyesight, but the question I want to know is this: What did your ancestors do to annoy him enough that you’d get that response? It certainly sends a strong message! Incidentally you’re very lucky to have some outlet from population pressure.



  13. Hi Goran,

    Thanks, and it’s a good space. There are plans for three permanent raised garden beds as well as shelves for seed raising. Should be good, and it provides a small amount of insurance against these sorts of crazy cold and wet growing seasons.

    Planting into the ground will actually slow the growth of the plants, but I believe that they will develop bigger root systems and be more resilient in the long run – that’s the theory. Most greenhouses I see contain huge amounts of pots for plants, and I don’t believe they work that well. I ripped the idea off my mates of the big shed fame – their place just works.

    Thank you for understanding my perspective with the water tanks. Mate, some people actually do run their systems that way and pump the water back up the hill to a high-level large water tank where it then drains back down the hill (in water pipes of course). I’m not comfortable with that arrangement. But whatever the case, you’ll need a pump either to lift water and/or to pressurise water.

    Thanks for the drive-by sneaky book recommendation! I read that book last year. 🙂

    Best wishes to you too!



  14. Greetings Master Xa-bi-er,

    Master! Master! The book of instructions from the Ancient Ones has become lost, master. What can we teach the students?

    Ah, Pigsy, look into your soul for the answer, for there you shall find the one true answer. And in the meantime (the Master points to a soiled and dusty book barely noticed, which may have slipped behind the couch) what is that book over there? Fetch it for me!

    Master! It must be the lost ancient book of the true whinge. It is a treatise on growing rye master!

    Teach the students from this pigsy, and be content.

    🙂 So much fun…



  15. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my gawd! In the Margaret Atwood book of essays, the thoughtful reader is at the year 2018 and has encountered madness. The author is not the source of the madness, no the author is in fact clear sighted, eloquent and calm in the face of utter craziness. Oh my, oh my! Poor Margaret, that is just so wrong. Has it really come to this? Thanks for the recommendation, a truly delightful book.

    As it was, I had a crazy busy day today, but did stop off for a few moments this morning to enjoy a coffee and muffin, and also pick up the coffee grounds plus husks – the Dirt Rat is full to bursting with coffee grounds. Anyway, we got home late and I’ll empty the Dirt Rat tomorrow. Ah, yes, almost forgot. When reading that particular essay this morning I received an illuminati coffee. The cheeky dude who is the barista was clearly enjoying himself because the surface of the coffee had some lovely chocolate artwork of that secret society symbol. What was this thing I thought to myself? So I looked inside and they were all giggling to themselves, and then they explained the joke. It was pretty funny and such coffee art is beyond my skills. The muffin was excellent too. Yum! It was really lovely to see them enjoying themselves and it put a smile on my face for sure.

    That’s incredible. The Turkish have ancient underground cities. We’re not using the singular here, but plural cities as protection against raids over the centuries. The raids must have been frequent and ferocious enough to have begun such a massive undertaking. Wow! Hmm, that area of the world had some intriguing population swaps in 1923. And I noted that such underground dwellings were also constructed in China. They’re impressive constructions.

    You’re saved! 🙂

    I’m about four fifths of the way through the book and can no longer recall the back to the landing essay. I’ll have a re-look.

    The foxes here have a near zero chance of getting into the chicken enclosure without human assistance. It’s always possible, but I’d hope they don’t tunnel in. The last rat appears to be stuck inside the chicken enclosure and I’m in a quandry as to what to do and how to approach the problem. There will be some further modifications inside the enclosure to ensure that the rat cannot have too much freedom of movement.

    Hehe! I don’t think so about the farm gate sales. Eventually, I might have to do something along those lines, but not in the medium term.

    All the same, the fertiliser was a great choice for blueberries. Wasn’t that quote attributed to Mallory? You raise an interesting question as I don’t recall having fertilised Rhodies before. Maybe they received some compost and coffee roasting husks, but that was about it. They seem pretty hardy. What sort of size are the Rhodies you refer too? I’ve seen some very large and old Rhodies over the years.

    Yeah, that’s very likely with the wombat, and also it is possible that the people in the area were feeding the wombat and had neglected to continue the practice – the wombat most likely was annoyed by the lack of easy feed, and being stepped on would not have lifted its mood. I’ve heard rumours that they can be very grumpy.

    That is a problem about having incontrovertible proof. I would have imagined that the environmental pressures which pushed people as far south as Australia would also have played upon the earliest people of your land. I fail to see that it would have been otherwise. I mean the technology for getting around was not overly complicated.

    But you’re right, some things are considered proof, and others are unknown items.

    Oh, really? I hadn’t known that about comets that size hitting the Earth before. Whatever the case, things would have been very unpleasant after any such strike. When you write the word ‘fires’ what exactly did you mean? Do they have any idea how widespread the fires were? The huge rock did us a favour. It’s odd how sometimes things can turn on a dime.

    Isn’t it pleasing to restore order? I imagine the Club area was in reasonably good condition after the celebrations? Maybe? People do like their meat. It’s only part of our diet every now and then and usually when we eat out, but no matter. We did a good pea (lentil) and ham soup the other week and it was pretty tasty and we boiled a smoked ham hock. I cut the skin up into tiny pieces, mixed the fat into some oats and fed the lot to the chickens. They were feral for the feed, and kind of looked at me a bit strangely afterwards (being now blooded), almost as if they were sizing up their chances of dining upon my good self. They’re mini dinosaurs after all.

    It is almost impossible to remove every potato from soil which had been previously used to grow potatoes. Those things are related to Triffids. Hope your soil used to grow the carrots is deep and loamy?

    Me tired. Bedtime…

    But just before. This is the hat shop. Michael is a lovely bloke: Let’s dip our lids to Michael’s hats for happiness



  16. Yo, Chris – Yes, the Atwood book is great. It was not my intent, but now you get an inkling of some of the craziness we put up with, over here.

    That’s some piece of chocolate work, from your local barista. We have that symbol (the all seeing eye) on some of our paper money. We talk about the printing presses rolling, but, actually, it’s more a computer thing, racking up the ones and zeros. Lots and lots of zeros. Maybe if they had to actually pay for paper, ink and staff, they wouldn’t make so much of it?

    Underground cities are so cool. Literally and figuratively. 🙂 The mystery. The effort.

    I think it was an essay where she was reflecting back, on life with her husband. You might not be to it, yet. It was part of an essay, I think. But it made me laugh.

    Given our wet climate and clay soil, the Rhodies can use a boost from time to time. Unlike the blueberries which, theoretically need a feed, every year. Though they didn’t get one last year, and still produced a good crop. Our wild Rhodies seen to do just fine, without a chemical boost. The one’s here at the Institution are probably 20+ years old. Along one section of sidewalk, they really whack them back, and it doesn’t seem to hurt them.

    After that particular comet strike, the whole world burned. The friction from falling, almost microscopic bits created friction. Things started heating up, and temperatures reached 500F. For a day or longer. If you couldn’t get under the ground or water, you were toast. The area the comet hit was high in sulfur. Bring on the acid rain. So much for hiding out in water … unless there was a lot of limestone around whatever water you were hiding in. It buffered the acid.

    The Club was neat and tidy, the morning after the party. Service work is stressed, all along the way. According to one’s talents. Some people have a talent for tidying up. I’m pretty neurotic about keeping the pantry in good order. Can’t say the same about the current condition of my apartment 🙂

    I went shopping, last night. Things are getting a little thin, out there. But, there are still a few bargains to be had, if one rummages around a bit.

    I spent some time in the garden last night. Moved the green pepper and introduced the tomatillo to their new friend. Planted a couple of tomatoes. Got the basil, into the ground. Weeding, as always.

    That was an really nice article about “your” hat store. A business well worth supporting. Lew

  17. Hi Chris,
    Great progress on the greenhouse.
    Those campouts with your grandfather and buddies sound like a great time for a young boy.

    When Doug and I bought our first house we felt fortunate to have only a 13% interest rate. We managed.

    I read “Catcher in the Rye” in high school too but don’t remember it so guess it didn’t make that big an impression one way or another.

    I’m guessing your childhood has a lot to do with how self sufficient you are today.

    Your dogs have quite the life and well ours do too.

    In news from here – we’ve gone from early spring to mid summer in two days. The tulips which had just bloomed won’t be around for too long. They don’t like temps in the high 80’s and very high winds. I did get beans and cucumbers planted today and should get everything else done by the end of the week.

    I remembered some of the things I forgot to tell you last week. First we had a very close call as a several tornadoes were nearby but luckily didn’t touch the ground. We were on our way out to dinner with friends the first time our phone alarms went off. While at dinner everyone’s phones were going off but no one seemed too concerned. One of our retiree group that meets every month died very suddenly about 10 days ago. He was a very active, healthy appearing man of 73. We have had many discussions about chickens and goats which he still owned. He had a heart attack while waiting for a connecting flight. He was revived but had a 2nd one in the hospital. He was traveling with his long time girlfriend. Anyway as he was a very popular 7th grade history teacher and coach here in town for his entire career I expect his funeral this Saturday will be very large. Knowing him he would have preferred to go quick this way. He was on the board of the large local cemetary and a few months ago he had a large monument put up for himself on his plot. He got a lot of ribbing about it (said he didn’t trust his kids to do what he wanted) at our last breakfast. The conversation turned to who had already made arrangements and had written their obituary – he had.

    Seems the unmentionable has hit family in the last few days. Both Marty and Gwen have it, a niece and her husband and my son-in-law, he for the 2nd time. No one is too sick with it.

    I 2nd the recommendation for the Octavia Butler’s book as well as “The Parable of the Talents”. I finished the Margaret Atwood book (thank you Lew for the recommendation).

    Note: No whingeing in this comment. I must say a good rant once in a while can be therapeutic.


  18. Hi Chris,

    That sounds like about 2 L according to the old calculator so that means I am way off. Although 40 L would be something like 25 m of 1″ copper pipe which doesn’t sound too absurd on paper? But that might be the drug of renewable energy talking.

    It keeps getting more complex! Do you mean a 2 L pressure tank, or a 20 L pressure tank and you just collect the first 2 L? This is downstream from the copper pipe and thus it is cold water or is it sitting in parallel with the hot water? Like this?

    We are going to need a diagram soon. Is this the same pressure tank feeding the bathroom or do you have another arrangement?

    The clay oven was cold when we got there and he turned it on by opening a window and a valve in the chimney which got airflow into the initial fire and once that was going shut the over door, window and chimney. Went out for a bit and came back to have everything nice and warm. Outside temperature was only slightly above 10°C. The oven construction ran up throughout the middle of the house and radiated nicely everywhere.

    It is a wild idea sometimes to think about the downstream consequences of brutal circumstances. To think a bomber 80 years ago was just doing a bit of rewilding. The garden is quite a nice little haven for a bunch of birds.

  19. Chris,

    I’ve implemented your suggestion about the snacks after the evening walk, especially. Thanks. It IS helping.

    Thanks for the Jack Russell driving video and article. That was a fun view and interesting read.

    Legal driving age? If an approved Driver Education class is taken and passed, a license can be obtained via written and driving tests at age 16. No class? Age 18 after passing written and driving tests.

    Friday we had some intermittent showers. Then the STORM hit about 7:00 p.m. The official weather station got a total of 15mm for the entire week. We had already had about 15mm before the STORM. Nonstop lightning and thunder. Rain. Avalanche standing around in the yard getting soaked and looking perplexed. I was able to coax her into the garage, then the car, where I towelled her off and carried her into the house. (I keep towels in the car and I know where the towels are. Very important, yes?)

    She started to calm down in the house until the flash/bang hit simultaneously. Sounded like a howitzer firing in the driveway. Took me 5 minutes of holding her and talking soothingly to calm Avalanche after that. I opened windows in every room as well as the front door, which does have an outer screen door. That allowed her to sit in the house and watch the rain.

    And did it ever rain! We got over 25mm in 45 minutes. A “small” tornado touched down about 12km SE of me in the urban area. Destroyed some vehicles, downed trees, destroyed a couple of trailers that were being lived in. With the further rain and showers Saturday, including several hail events, we likely had between 50 and 60mm of rain in this neighborhood for the week. So, “officially”, our rainfall is below average for the season, but a large swathe of the region is in much better shape than that.

    I read the “Catcher in the Rye” about 15 years ago. What a disappointment. It totally hit me as an elitist snob acting privileged and whingeing endlessly about it. Still don’t understand why the book was supposed to be so good. Oh, and it has been banned in many school districts and some public libraries in this country. Why? Because Holden swears a lot in the book. As if we didn’t know all those words when we were 8 and 10 years old!

    DJ’s Hypothesis of Whingeing:
    Those who can, adapt. Those who can’t, whinge.

    That’s good work on the new greenhouse. It’s coming together rapidly.

    Avalanche’s friend, Killian the Doberman, was left by himself today, as his mother had to be out of town. She left a key to the house with us, so Avalanche and I ventured over twice for lengthy play dates. The dogs thoroughly enjoyed it. We’ll be busy Thursday into Friday, so Avalanche will have an overnight visit with Killian and family. She comes back from those with a much better attitude.


  20. Hey Chris,

    I wonder if Plum would like to spend a day or two at my house taking care of the rats? The two local cats who hang around my yard seem completely uninterested in the task. They are clearly too well fed.

    I recall you posted some time ago about how petrol can “go off”. As it turns out, I now have direct experience of that. My garden shredder broke down and apparently the carbie was blocked due to fuel that had gone bad. The guy at the store reckons 4 weeks is the limit for petrol sitting on the shelf these days. I asked him if that had become shorter as I used to work off a 3-month figure and he said it has and seems to have gotten worse in recent years. We were speculating if it might because of all the oil the US and UK pulled out of their strategic reserves. Perhaps it wasn’t properly treated.


  21. Hello Chris
    A bird’s nest has fallen out of a neighbour’s tree. I can’t tell whether it is one from this year or the previous year. Amongst the woven natural fibres is a lot of shredded plastic.


  22. Hi Margaret,

    Always lovely to receive such feedback. Yeah, my grandfather was a one-off, and my only regret was that I didn’t know him when I was an adult. He lived an interesting life, and most certainly thought his own thoughts. I’ve met a lot of people over the years, and only a very few are like him. He did pretty well for himself given his humble – and strangely obscure – beginnings. There was a story there, but alas we shall never uncover it.

    We had an 18% interest rate, but seriously the houses were cheaper, and our expectations were lower.

    Margaret, I seriously am starting to feel slightly guilty that I’ve dumped heaps on the book. 🙂 Is this a good thing? Probably not.

    A very astute observation, and it does seem likely. For the youngest child in the household, a lot was expected of me. But then things were different back then.

    And the dogs, yes, Leo and Salve likewise live a charmed life. 🙂

    Far out, but those temperatures would be sort of normal for my November, but the downside is that it involves great swings in temperature – and the poor plants. They don’t like it much. Those sorts of experiences are why we made the decision as to the greenhouse. The problem is if the weather swings back to the colder side of things.

    Oh my gawd! I’m so sorry to hear that, and please accept my best wishes for yourself and the group. Never good to lose a mate. On the other hand, healthy appearing is not always the same thing as hale. It is very possible that he may have had an inkling to have acted so? People are very lax about sorting out their wills – I’ve observed (as I’m sure you have) a perspective which suggests that if the matter is not considered, it is somehow delayed. And then there are the awful realities of what happens to the first kids if a widower remarries. Hmm, a true hornets nest of sadness.

    Yeah, it’s going around these parts too and in many people that I know – some of whom had four shots. Hmm. Exactly, nobody I know seems terribly troubled by it.

    I’m so sorry, I have to dodge sneaky book recommendations for the moment. My brain is full, and if it bursts, zombies may be attracted to the ensuing mess and that would be unfortunate. Glad you enjoyed the book of essays. Margaret Atwood’s sight is clear and lucid, and the author can convey meaning eloquently, whilst sliding in the occasional joke. A delightful read.

    🙂 Yes, we all enjoy a good rant every now and then.



  23. Hi Crow,

    Your math skills do you credit, I just can’t quite understand how so much copper tubing could be squeezed into any normal header tank. 🙂 And I defer to your most excellent analysis. You know…

    Oh no! I’ve introduced a new component in the system without adequate explanation. The 20L pressure tank sits on the house side of the water pump. Water is first released from the pressure tank, and when it empties, the water pump fills it up and then supplies more water beyond that point. The device works to stop the pump cycling off and on if there is only a small demand for water – or a leak in the system. No point destroying the pump over stupid stuff.

    No diagrams shall be forthcoming, sorry. There are only so many hours in the day. How about you draw a diagram and I’ll work with you to correct it?

    An interesting heating concept and at a guess the house was designed and built around the heater? Wood fires produce only so much energy – like any other combustion really – so the trick is to capture any energy that you can capture.

    Makes you wonder if the family had fallen on hard times and could not afford to rebuild? Or the land had been acquired by fair or foul means? I sense a story there – don’t you? It is intriguing.



  24. Hi DJ,

    Credit in this instance should probably go to Al. He mentioned Cesar Millan’s book on getting into the mind of our canine mates, and that idea of feeding after walking was something he mentioned that dogs do in the wild. And it works too. 🙂

    Jack Russell dogs are super naughty!

    Ah, thanks for the details. Hmm, down here between 16 and 18 you have to pass a test and be under supervision at all times, and clock up I believe 120 hours of experience – and of course there is a log book. Then at 18 you have to pass an independent test and another multiple choice test and you can go feral (unless you’re caught and the likelihood is high). There are also L plates and P plates to display, depending.

    As a fellow fan of Hitchhikers Guide, you of all people would know that towels are important items and are to be kept near to hand for when they necessary. Dogs can get pretty freaked out by thunder, and I’m curious, was Avalanche displaying signs of the impending storm before it hit?

    Man, I hear you about close calls like that. We had a similar storm a few months ago in the wee hour of the morning, and the fluffies piled onto the bed (which they’re not allowed) and the two brave Kelpies were shaking with fright. The crashes of the thunder were very loud. I do hope Avalanche has recovered from her fright – and chews may assist with this?

    And dude, that is a lot of rain in a short period of time. Those sorts of storms do far more damage than prolonged dry spells. Very occasionally we get these storms called ‘super cells’ and they can dump four inches of rain in an hour or less. Crazy weather those things. I once had an entire kitchen stored outside in such weather. It didn’t end well for the cabinets. The light show was fascinating and a bit scary really.

    Lewis mentioned the tornado and there was some great footage of it from a nearby sports field. Far out, you wouldn’t want to be near that beast.

    Good stuff with the total rainfall for the week. I have a hunch that the more energy which gets into the atmosphere, the more likely such storms will be experienced. Is the area looking green? 🙂

    My point exactly with the book. At the back of my mind I had the thought that I hear the protagonists whinges, but then I had to work before dawn and study late into the evening. Unfortunately whingeing does not produce results.

    The future belongs to the adaptable so yeah, the hypothesis is good. I do hope that it isn’t tested too hard though. 🙂

    Thanks, and there is an east coast low threatening to bring rain every day for the next four days, so who knows how much work we’ll get done on the greenhouse. On a positive note, the weather will be warm at around 68’F most days with warm nights due to cloud cover.

    Go Killian and Avalanche. It’s really good for the two of them to hang out and be dogs with all the craziness embodied in that activity. I can see that too about the visits improving Avalanche’s attitude.



  25. Hi Simon,

    Rats are tough customers, in that they’re pretty big and put up a fight. Who knows why those cats might not be interested in rats? It can be a mystery to me which animal chooses to deal with what requires dealing to. Sir Scruffy and Sir Poopy used to be great rabbiters and they worked in tandem, that is when Sir Poopy could get out of the bean bag. Once those two passed on, the rabbit population briefly exploded. Plum seems to have a natural talent and doesn’t get hyped up by the work, whereas the other two dogs lack any such skills and just want to chase.

    Ouch. Yes, what is this thing called petrol nowadays? It is a mystery. I’ll tell you a funny story too. The Dirt Mouse Suzuki was running low on fuel and so I topped it up from one of the 20L jerry cans. Nowadays I add fuel stabiliser to all of the machines and jerry cans here – the cars burn petrol fast enough that it isn’t a problem. Anyway, the range estimate of the Dirt Mouse Suzuki surpassed 700km after consuming about half a tank of the stuff. Usually it settles around the 670km mark for a 37L tank. That was interesting.

    But yeah, with small machines you can’t leave fuel in them without having fuel stabiliser in the mixture, and you can’t run them dry and leave them that way for too long. There’s a diaphragm in the carburettor which dries and then you can’t start the machine. So either way, things have changed for the worse. What I understand is best practice is to use the fuel stabiliser and then run the machines for a few minutes once every two months.

    Hey, it makes a mockery of some of the earlier dystopian fiction where the characters are just happily using stored fuel thinking that it will be around for years to come. And the book Earth Abides comes to mind in that regard.

    If you can’t find any fuel stabiliser in your area, give me a yell and I’ll get a small bottle for you?



  26. Hi Inge,

    Birds are very adaptable, and there is a variety of bird in this state known as a Bowerbird. The males build a nest called a bower and they adorn the nest with all manner of shiny objects. They have interesting relationships.

    I found a fallen and empty birds nest the other day too. I noticed that the bird had padded out the fine nesting materials with green moss. I’d imagine that there would have been some insulating qualities to the use of the moss.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    We all have bad days from time to time, but that particular day would have been like a bad day, multiplied like by 10,000 million times. Thanks for the link to the article, and it interested me that the glass beads were found in the gills of the fossilised fish. I reckon at that particular spot (and who knew there was a giant inland lake/sea) the end would have come speedily. I wonder if there were any parts of the planet that weren’t hit with the superheated glass beads? What a way to go.

    Ah, the craziness was a minor aspect of the Margaret Atwood book. The University episode did not appear to be all that good, and perhaps reflected rather poorly upon the institution. You know, I was surprised that the young ladies involved in the Salem witch trials were never punished for their misdeeds. I’m guessing that so many people were complicit in horrendous acts that it was difficult to fix blame. I wonder if any of the perpetrators ever felt any shame for their part in that sordid episode? It’s weird when large groups of people lose their marbles.

    The guy did a great job with the chocolate. Back before things got strange, there did used to be latte art competitions. They may have entered that competition.

    Hehe! Lot’s of zeros indeed. I penned a comment on Mr Greer’s blog the other week and had to look up just how many zero’s there are in a trillion (Twelve zero’s to be precise), and may have mentioned my horror and lack of comprehension at the size of the monster number. Someone commented afterwards (and I’m certain they were serious) that perhaps I’d find the number to be easier to comprehend if I used scientific notation. Yeah, nah. Trillion is an horrendous looking number. Heard a statistic that the banks are holding something crazy like $1,900,000,000,000 in mortgages down under. At a wild guess there must be around ten million households down under, so that means the average debt would be about $190,000 per household. A frightening statistic and I do hope those money dudes know what they’re doing? Probably not though. 🙂

    What a fun series of choices the policy makers are facing. They did bring this poop upon themselves though.

    And I like your suggestion: We’d go broke actually printing and handling the notes. Oh, that’s good.

    Yeah, I too was intrigued by the mystery and effort. In the outback we’ve stayed in two different underground accommodation, and it was very comfortable.

    Had to work until late this evening, so I’m expecting some quieter days over the next few and will have a hunt for that particular essay.

    Rhodies are pretty interesting plants, and there is one in the higher reaches of the mountain range which is over a century old and has survived a very nasty bushfire in 1983. In Nepal, the Rhodies are even bigger. I would have enjoyed seeing them in flower, but the heat humidity and leeches kind of lacks appeal. Do you have a lot of different colours of Rhodies at your place? There are blue Rhodies too, you know?

    The sulphur enhanced rain and high temperatures would have been a real buzzkill that day. Aren’t you curious about what the mammals ate which survived those years whilst the atmosphere cleared. And, it is not like the plant seeds would have germinated straight away when conditions recovered somewhat. I noted in the article that particles were ejected back into the atmosphere and then fell back to Earth again. What a nightmare scenario. The limestone idea is a goodie. The combination of acid rain and limestone I’m guessing would have produced salty water too, but it depends if the salt was left behind and the fresh water was separated off somehow. My thinking is that whilst three quarters died, one quarter survived.

    We can’t be good all the time, can we? 🙂 Speaking of which has it been a while since the last inspection?

    Prices are going up here too. The Editor did the grocery shopping tonight as she was travelling past the supermarket, and on the list was a small quantity of mince meat for the chickens / dogs. The price had gone up a dollar and the quantity was lower by one-fifth. Things are getting grim, but it’s weird that nobody is talking about this stuff.

    I do hope that the new tomatillo and the old tomatillo hit it off? Ah weeding, never stops. Hope that your tomato season is more fruitful than ours last growing season. And basil nary a chance did ‘ee stand!

    Glad you enjoyed the article on the hat dude. He is a super cool individual and you can tell he loves what he does.



  28. Yo, Chris – The dinosaur book was pretty good, as the author included an appendix where she talked about which parts were speculation, and which more solid science. In a few places, she’s pretty up front about what she believes and what other people believe. And, she’s more than willing to change her mind as more data comes in.

    Mammals ate bugs, seeds and, in some cases, other mammals. There were also snakes and small lizards that made it through. Individual survival depended on a lot of luck. Some species of birds had already developed beaks, to crunch seeds. And those were the ones that made it through.

    Speaking of birds, bird flu has finally reached our state. So far, mostly backyard flocks. It’s been found in 38 states. The culling of commercial flocks has been horrendous.

    In 1702 Massachusetts declared the witch trials to have been unlawful. In 1711 the colony passed a bill restoring rights and the good names of those accused. ₤500 was paid to the heirs.

    For quit a few years, it’s been known that it costs more to produce our pennies, then their monetary value. There’s always loose talk around, to get rid of them. But they’re so handy for collecting tax. Pennies, here, pennies there. You hardly notice … 🙂

    Inspection? Shhhh! 🙂 Since that Horrible Evil Woman is gone, there seems to be less emphasis on inspections. In Institution news, Mike passed away, yesterday. He did it rough. In and out of the hospital, several times a week. A miserable time of it. So, we’ll have two vacancies, down at the other end of my hall. In further news, they’ve finally hired a new night manager. A guy! That’s a first. I haven’t seen or met him yet, but the Ladies are all a twitter, as I understand he has a big black beard! 🙂

    Most of our Rhodies are pink or red. Maybe there’s some yellow? No blue ones. Probably because we have quit a few hydrangeas, around. We also have Azalea, mostly red and pink. Well, that’s interesting. Azalea are a sub species of Rhodies. I think it’s interesting that Rhodies (and roses, and probably a lot of other things) are found wild in both Asia and here. As their ancestors lived when most of the world was one big land mass.

    Everyone seems to be talking about food shortages and costs, here. Might be because our media is a bit looser than yours, and there certainly are a lot of articles about the situation.

    The Master Gardeners were here, yesterday. A couple more stock tanks went in, and I can probably start planting, later this week. I’ve started calling it “the tank farm.” I’m beginning to see the start of blossoms on the tomatoes, tomatillo and pepper plant. Lew

  29. Hi Chris,

    Heh_heh “the universe” really needed you to know that fact about camouflage.

    Yes now I remember that exchange between you and Inge about the mouldy tasting tomatoes. I also sometimes have nasty tasting tomatoes. I always thought that because they were a volunteer they hadn’t bred true and had instead turned into something not good. If the first tasting of a plant fails I just pull them out. They are always revolting enough not to warrant a second tasting. Maybe I won’t waste time on volunteers this year and splash out on a tray of bought seedlings.

    One (or some) of your vegetable enclosures is fully enclosed with netting over the top as well. How did it affect the intensity of the sunlight? I have a 9m x 9m veggie house that is fully enclosed with bird netting. I think it makes a difference but usually the summer sun here is very strong so it isn’t really of any consequence.

    Cheers Elbows.

  30. Chris,

    No, Avalanche was fine until well after the storm hit. She’s been through 2 or 3 smallish thunderstorms with no problem. But this one was very active, very strong, very close. I think the seeming endlessness of the storm got her out of sorts. That loudest thunder would’ve gotten any dog. We’ll see how she handles future storms. And she seems to be back to normal now.

    I saw footage of the tornado from that sports field also. The local low level professional baseball team’s stadium at the Spokane Interstate Fairgrounds, if it’s the same footage I saw.

    The area is as green as it ever gets. Some of the areas that have a dryness problem in my lawn are already dry. Weird, but not unexpected. Those areas will receive some dryland grass seed in a few weeks, with a light covering of dirt.

    Yes, I expect more storms like this. And more windstorms, too. Those have already increased here. The climate change deniers have used as evidence for their beliefs that nothing had changed. Well, I often thought that the visible changes wouldn’t show up until enough energy had hit the system, then we’d jump up a notch in storm activity and severity. Sort of a quantum thing…electrons don’t jump into a different orbit around the nucleus until they have absorbed enough energy to make the jump. Wouldn’t surprise me if we’re not seeing a similar effect with climate.


  31. Hi Elbows,

    It’s pretty funny. Hey, years ago I watched a comedian who made the joke that he used to bump into people wearing camouflage street wear. Then he’d say: ‘Sorry mate. I didn’t see you!’ 🙂

    Maybe, and that certainly is possible. However, all of the tomatoes tasted poorly. We had only a handful of days in excess of 30’C during the past growing season and it was often cloudy and rainy. That situation is extremely abnormal. I would not wish such growing conditions on my worst enemy.

    It’s true netting, or the steel wallaby cages do tend to modify the light received by the plants. Incidentally, during both extreme cold and heat, the steel in the cage tends to burn the foliage. It’s a problem for sure, but I’ve tried reasoning with the wallabies and parrots, but they won’t listen you know! Most years the sunlight is very strong here too. We’re both physically closer to the sun in summer than the folks in the northern hemisphere, and so the sunlight is more intense. It has something to do with the elliptical orbit of the planet around the sun. It’s basically hotter and more intense in the southern hemisphere.



  32. Hi DJ,

    Good to hear that Avalanche is doing OK now, and probably back to her former self. For a moment there I thought you may have had a storm detective. But yeah, really close lightning strikes do tend to freak dogs out – and their owners for that matter. Induction from a close hit many years ago blew up my interweb modem – two yagi antennas on the roof picked up the charge. I now keep a spare. 🙂

    It was good footage of the tornado, and you could see it forming too. Spooky! It probably was the same footage, although I didn’t notice what game they were playing.

    Ah. When we constructed this house, we rented in a nearby town in a project house. The previous tenants parked their cars on the front lawn and it was a toxic wasteland out there where nothing grew. Anyway, me being me, I thought to myself: what the heck I’ll get the grass started. And over a year and a half we got the grass going all over. So what I did was when mowing the lawn that was alive, I caught the cuttings in a catcher. Then I dumped the catcher contents on the dead spots, spread them around until they were about maybe half to an inch thick, and left them. Before too long the grass cuttings broke down, fed the soil, and grass moved into the area – I may have added some seed where the dead zone car was parked. And that was it. We eventually left the place because the real estate agent began sending us correction notices to cut the lawn. That really annoyed me, because they seemed OK with the dead zone. How ironic is that?

    I defer to your knowledge of physics! 🙂 But yeah, more energy in the atmosphere means that things could head in any direction climate wise. There is talk of another La Nina year.



  33. Hi Chris,

    I also had The Catcher as a set work but fortunately not Lord of the Rings. I am certain that having a book as a set work at school will more than likely mean that you will end up hating it. It is the same with the kind of jam you get at boarding school. It will forever be beyond nasty and no one else will understand why you don’t like what to them is a perfectly acceptable jam.

    A small admin related matter: If I write my comment in another editor and then copy and paste it into the comment text box it always loses all the paragraph marks once posted. Not whinging, just wondering if anyone knows of an editor or setting or work around that doesn’t cause this glitch?

    Cheers Elbows.

  34. Hi Lewis,

    It’s good science to be able to change one’s mind when new data arrives to disprove formerly accepted hypotheses. Such flexibility is not for everyone, sorry to say. Might explain a thing or two. 🙂 There’s certainly room for speculation for sure, although it probably – like in that case – deserves to be indicated as such.

    We took Ollie out for a long bush walk in one of the peaks of this mountain range. He loved it, and it was nice to see a different part of the mountain range which I was unfamiliar with. It was the Mount Charlie Flora reserve. It certainly had a diverse range of vegetation over a very short range and there were some old looking grass trees in the drier parts. In this part of the mountain range there are three larger mountains: Mount Robertson; Mount Teneriffe; and Mount Charlie. The house is located on a saddle leading down from the main ridged and towards Mount Robertson. I can see Mount Robertson from here, but Teneriffe and Charlie are a bit to the east (and the land rises above us in that direction).

    After the walk we had some lunch and then went and checked out the awesome view from the higher parts of the mountain range in a logging coupe where the softwoods (Douglas Fir) had been harvested over the past year or two. It was very considerate of the forestry dudes to leave such an epic and sweeping view. It sure was windy up there! I couldn’t quite see our place, but I could see the shadow where the house and road were. Lunch was good too.

    Of course, the ability to crack seeds would have given those birds with beaks a food source. It would have been a close call for them, and I imagine that more critters survived in the Southern Hemisphere than the Northern? Was that speculated upon in the book? Yes, I can well understand that luck and chance would have played a part. Birds are not vegetarians either, and so I imagine the ability to eat a wide variety of food stuffs would have been an advantage. You could suggest that at that time: The future belonged to the unfussy. The Squeamish and picky eaters would not have survived.

    Really? I would have thought the commercial flocks would have been hit first due to environmental stresses? But then, many a backyard flock is kept in unsatisfactory conditions.

    The poor innocent folks caught up in the Salem witch trials – and the poor not so innocent folks caught up in the Salem witch trials. It’s unfortunate that sometimes people can bring their rubbish to your door. It happens often enough. I didn’t notice the 1702 unlawful declaration – it should be noted that the wheels of justice turn slowly. I see some of the not-so-innocent folks involved sought forgiveness.

    The authoritas down here have done their level best to discourage the use of coinage from circulation. I kind of feel sorry for merchants because I believe that the swipee credit cord machines charge a higher fee for transactions under $10. That stuff acts like a tax on the economy.

    The regular inspections did seem like a correctional facility activity, but then a lot of official talk over the past two and a bit years has sounded like institutional talk – like say, err lock downs, furlough, curfew etc. Language is a powerful tool. It was hard to ignore that Thomas Maule, a noted Quaker in 1695 was jailed for twelve months for uttering some common sense: “it were better that one hundred Witches should live, than that one person be put to death for a witch, which is not a Witch” Stirring stuff, but the words also put him in the slammer.

    Sorry to hear that Mike passed on, and you did mention that he had been unwell of late. Yeah, the end has been somehow hijacked too. What do you do? At some point there is a threshold as to quality, and that differs I guess for everyone. On a brighter note, Black-beard would be a great pirate name, and it does put me in mind of Tintin comics. I loved those comics and read through them when I was a kid. Bizarrely when doing a Gargle search a comic titled: ‘Unplugged Unpopular’ was returned. Is Gargle trying to tell us all something? It does sound like a rather smashing idea. 🙂

    You’re not missing out, the blue Rhodies don’t look quite blue to my eye, but it’s all in the sell I guess. They’re close enough to blue, but is that OK being close enough, I ask you?

    That makes sense about Azaleas as they look like little Rhodies to me. Mini-Rhodie!

    The news here is trying to down play the rising food costs, but we are in the middle of a Federal election campaign, soon to be followed by a State election campaign. Rising costs is spoken about, everywhere.

    Yes, ‘tank farm’ has a nice ring to it. I hope you have topped up the strategic reserves of soil in the tanks? 🙂 I’m being serious too! How did you go moving the tarp with the soil?

    Plans are to get back onto the greenhouse tomorrow. I want to get the roof timbers up so that we can paint all that before putting the polycarbonate roof sheets on. And the weather needs to be warmer than 50’F for the paint to dry and cure. Will the weather co-operate, or won’t it? That is the question! Let’s find out.



  35. Hi, Chris!

    I like your new heading. I hope it hasn’t been there for ages without me noticing.

    No one loathed Catcher more than I did. I, too, had to read it in highschool English class. As a general rule I loved my English classes. Yuk. Just thinking about that book still gives me the creeps.

    You were pretty lucky to be around your grandfather for at least some of the time. I know he was kind of rough, but he sounds like he was a smart guy.

    No – the easy money was not generally appreciated much. Once it’s gone (going, going – gone . . . ), then it will mean a lot.

    The new greenhouse project fits so nicely between the solar panels and the “old” one. You’re right – that’s a lovely roof line.

    How gorgeous is that chicken litter?! No – Ollie! I can’t believe that is really frost already.

    What a charming shot of Plum heading down the lane. Is she doing okay?

    How stunning is that salvia, with the white coming out of the dark? The Passionflower is absolutely funkadelic.


  36. Yo, Chris – Sounds like Ollie and you lot, had a nice day out. And that wind? Blows the cob webs out. 🙂

    The thing the author of the end of the dinosaurs book was making a point of, was that a lot of traits were in play, but minor, before the comet fell and things were lush. After the comet fell, those traits made the difference between survival of a species, or not. Birds with their beaks to crack seeds and also their gizzards to grind stuff up and get extra nourishment. Some species of birds (and some mammals) had also developed the ability to digest insect cuticle. The species that couldn’t, didn’t make it through.

    The book didn’t have to much to say about the S. Hemisphere. It mostly was concerned with what was going on around Hell Creek. But there were short sections about what was going on in other parts of the world. I think there was a bit about India, and plants in New Zealand. Flowering plants really had a rough go, due to the dominance of the conifer forests. The comet wiping out those forests really gave the flowering plants, a leg up. Which encouraged the diversification of insects.

    Backyard flocks have more contact with their wilder cousins, who are the source of the bird flu.

    There is some speculation that the witch trials, were in part, land grabs. Yes, I read about those folks who got up in front of their congregations (long after the fact) and ate crow. It reminded me of the celebrity repentance tours, that are so popular, right now. Done something naughty? Make your mea culpa tour and you’re back on top! 🙂

    We tried cards, at The Club, and lost money. That didn’t last long. When you’ve got people whipping out their cards for $1 cups of coffee … It doesn’t happen often, but just the other day, some guy wandered in and asked if we take cards. Usually, they come up with the cash.

    A whole generation doesn’t know what it’s like to be unplugged. And that life is possible 🙂 . I read a autobiography by an older gent, recently, and in several places he stopped to explain what life was like BC and BD (Before Computers and Before Devices). That you could make arrangements to meet a friend, at an airline terminal, but you’d better send a letter, four weeks in advance. But, it worked. Or, when a person hit a little bump in the drama of life, you had to sit with it, on your own, and couldn’t resort to hashing it out with 50 of your closest “friends,” on Face Plant, or something similar. People planned ahead. And had a general idea of what they’d be doing, further in the future than 5 minutes.

    Tintin wasn’t very available, here. The few times I had exposure to it, it didn’t “speak” to me.

    Being “close enough to blue” is not OK. 🙂 Don’t promise me a blue rose and send me something lavender. Won’t fly and I’ll never get over thinking less of your company.

    Concern over food costs has yielded more articles like this …

    Oh, they’ve always been around, but I’m seeing more of them in the main stream media. Will anyone be inspired? They either will … or they won’t.

    As far as the garden tanks go, I’m as much a slave to the weather, as you. Prof. Mass has had a couple of articles about how wet and cold it has been. And will be. Last night the temperature got down to 33F. Not quit freezing, but I still noted it on my calendar. My tomatoes will not be happy.

    The Master Gardeners topped up the tank I wanted to use. And didn’t top of a tank I didn’t want to use. So, I’ve got to move over some of that dirt, but it’s no biggie. They’re right next to each other. I’ll lighten up the dirt in the tarps, a bit, with five gallon buckets, before I try and move them.

    Stopped by the library, yesterday, to pick up a couple of things. “Dexter: New Blood” did not arrive. Oh, well. Probably, Saturday. In the meantime, I’ve got season two of “The Great” to watch. It’s quit good. Very funny, in parts. They’re more interested in telling a good story, than historical accuracy. And in this case, that’s ok. Lew

  37. Hello Chris
    I have been thinking about the difference between urban and rural folks re ‘whinge’ and have come to the conclusion that I really don’t know why there seems to be a difference. Could it just be that I associate with certain types of people or is there really a difference? Sweeping statements tend not to be correct and yet are so easy to make; I do it all the time, except when having an intense lengthy conversation sitting opposite to someone, which is my preferred form of conversation.


  38. Hi Elbows,

    Communication is always a little bit problematic, so I’m assuming that you enjoyed Lord of The Rings, but would have felt otherwise had it been part of set work? Imagine having to write essays on those weighty tomes? As a little secret, I probably wouldn’t have enjoyed Catcher, even had it not been set as school work. Probably it is just me being me? 🙂 Incidentally, I much prefer the works of the gritty and dark Bronte sisters to that of Jane Austen, but again taste is a complicated matter and I may be in the minority in this instance.

    Interesting. I’ll have to put some brain cells to this computer matter. You may be interested to learn that this exact thing happened to me with another website this morning. Hmm. If I have some free time over the next week or so, I’ll see what can be done. Until then, please understand that it is well known that you are aware that paragraphs are separated by a line and that the first word of new sentences begin with capital letters. 🙂 I’m being cheeky (although on a serious note I am disturbed how language is taught these days), and will sort this matter out, and thanks for bringing it to my attention.



  39. Hi Pam,

    Respect. You alone noticed the subtle changes made over the past week. Yes indeedy, The Decline of the West, the interweb years! 🙂

    How could so much dissatisfaction be wrapped into one short novel? The dog whom enjoys regular healthy breakfasts and dinners, can warm the canine backside in front of the fire on a cold winter evening, and be involved in productive and rewarding work, well that’s a happy dog. And then there was Holden…

    Pam, I tell ya, my dad left when I was so young I barely recall him, but I was very lucky over my life to have come into the orbit of a few very strong male role models, and my grandfather was one of them. I probably disappointed him (and no doubt the others), but such is the way of things when you’re a kid, and you know he taught me what it means to be an upstanding dude.

    It’s kind of funny, but when people hear of my dad walking out when I was really young, they inevitably project sad thoughts like it was a massive hassle for me. Far from it. I tend to rip the thoughts apart by suggesting: What? Have you met him?

    He genuinely wasn’t worth it, you know. 🙂

    I really struggled with English classes, and what inevitably did me in were the creative essays. It is possible that I interpreted the instructions in the most literal sense of those words, and truly ‘creative’ it should be noted can be incomprehensible to other people. I can only applaud your better adapted skills. Go on, did you slip the teacher some chocolates, or what? 🙂

    Yeah, I hear you about the easy money thing. You would think that after a quarter century of that policy people might think to themselves that: Oh my, what a wonderful ride it has been! But no, whingeing seems to be the way of things (nice return to the topic at hand, huh?)

    Despite the incessant drizzle, we worked for most of the day on the carpentry for the new greenhouse. My brain switched off for a few minutes after about 7pm this evening. However, the windows are now installed, and most of the carpentry has been done. It’s a big space. We’re racing the weather and hoping for a warm and sunny enough day to paint the structure. Not always possible at this time of the year. Chemistry (paint curing in cold weather) is not our friend.

    Ollie had the runs after chowing down on that chicken stuff. Has he learned his lesson? Nope.

    Thank you for asking. Plum has been doing fine, but we’re keeping a close eye upon her and just monitoring her health. There isn’t a whole bunch that we can do for her, other than give her understanding, care and comfort when she needs it.




  40. Hi Inge,

    I agree, sweeping generalisations aren’t always applicable to a situation, and yet like you wrote, they are easy to make. For what is true for one, is not necessarily true for all, and vice versa. They’re probably at best used as a rule of thumb. Maybe? An approximation of reality, but not necessarily what someone would expect to find.

    I then began qualifying the observation, and discovered that at each additional qualification, the inference of the sweeping generalisation was diminished. Was it Plato or Aristotle who claimed that: “I know that I know nothing”? Whatever, it seems like an extreme position to take, but at the same time the bloke may have been making a valid point.

    Discernment is perhaps the word in this instance? Like you, I would not hang out with people who act so. 🙂 It is not wise to fill your head with other peoples concerns, and I’ve found over my life that balance becomes hard to achieve with people who fall under the spell of the whinge. That may be just my experience though?

    Inge, it would be lovely to sit at a table at the local pub on a cold winters night. The table would be close enough to enjoy the open fire place, but not too close so as to be uncomfortable. Quaff one of the selections from the beer matrix (your mileage may vary here) and discuss the ways of the world. 🙂 Spare a thought for the poor long suffering Editor who has to tolerate such conversations! Fortunately for me, the Editor is wired for the discussion of ideas, and I tell you truly, it is a rare trait.



  41. Hi Lewis,

    To be candid, if the super volcano which the farm sits upon the side of were to go off, it would probably hurt me far more than you! 🙂 It is also worth acknowledging that we do things big down here. The volcano I’m on the side of now was meant to be pretty awful in it’s day too (one of the biggest of the big ever), although I’d read it was 500 million years ago. It interested me that in half that time again (250 million years), the next really massive eruption was further north. Given the size of the thing, I probably wouldn’t have escaped here as the sediment was very thick right along the east coast. Yikes! But then again, the facts suggest that things would have been not so good for you where you are either! Wow, the planet has certainly been plunged suddenly into some dark times, and then bounces on back. I sometimes wonder what will happen to the Antarctic active volcanoes when the ice sheets eventually melt and that continent bounces, as it probably will. Probably wouldn’t want to see that.

    Hey, here is a nice and brief summary timeline of volcanoes in my corner of the world (and a few of them I can see from here!): Volcanoes in Victoria

    Mate, it was nice just to take a day off work and the walk was enjoyable. I’ve been working about six days a week for a very long while now. There are goals…

    Hey, we worked today in the drizzle which came and went. Had a proper sleep in though prior to that and may have woken at about 9.30am. A luxury. When the alarm went off earlier that morning, I looked out the window at the thick fog and mist and said to myself: yeah, nah. And promptly fell back asleep. No point starting early on such a horrid weather day.

    We installed the three windows in the new greenhouse, and completed much of the carpentry for the structure. Did I mention that it was unceasingly wet? No, well maybe I did a little bit, but you know, it rained a lot today, but not much rain actually fell, so we weren’t soaking, just kind of damp at the end of the work day.

    You may wonder about the haste, and we’re trying to get the carpentry done so that the structure can be painted before winter sets in for real. Paint has this warning about not curing properly when temperatures are less than 50’F and humidity is 99%. And days like that are getting rarer as we inch step by step, and day by day closer to the winter solstice. Sunday may be the day we can paint the structure!

    It seems to us like a lot of effort to install the cladding on the greenhouse, and then to have to remove it again and paint later in a warmer future season. Best to paint now, if possible.

    Ah, insect cuticle. Of course. Dead insects would have been a plentiful food source for the remaining survivor birds. I’ve fed cuttlefish to the chickens from time to time, and they destroy the tough carapace. I had no idea they were consuming the material as had previously believed they were sharpening their beaks.

    Yes, unthinkable change can occasionally happen suddenly such as the resurgence of the flowering plants. You may note that the local Eucalyptus species which dominate the environment down here are flowering plants. When the dominant trees in this forest flower, you can smell the honey.

    Fair enough about the backyard flock interactions with wild birds, and yes that is the case. One thing I’ve learned about chickens is that they die. Even when I believe that things might be otherwise, all the same I stock up with new chickens because the older ones fall off their perches. It’ll probably happen to me one day too…

    Ooo! Yes, I can see that perhaps population pressures and land grabs could have been part of that witch story. There are darker sides to our fellow humans, and I’ve noticed that after bushfires there are those who skulk around with the intention of snapping up a bargain for cheap land from traumatised people. It is not lost upon me that as resources and energy decline, population pressures build.

    What wasn’t lost upon me about the witch business was that the mea culpa occurred following a shift in public opinion. And those folks had an ingenious get-out-of-jail card which sought to place blame on the red guy with the pitch fork, bad attitude and the swishy long forked tail.

    Yeah, exactly, using cards for small transactions makes little sense due to the fees involved. Crazy stuff, and glad to hear that your Club had the sense to put a stop to that.

    Life, is out there! 🙂 But yeah, some folks may not realise this. Dude, that was how things worked back then. You made arrangements and stuck to them, otherwise you risked being socially ostracised for non compliance with the arrangements. Things are a bit too fluid these days for my liking. Unfortunately in my professional capacity I get to hear about customers making bookings and doing a no-show. There is a cost to such abuses.

    🙂 Good to hear that misuses of blue upset you as much as Holden gets to me! And I don’t reckon it is blue either, looks more mauve to me.

    Thanks for the article as to growing your own food. It was a realistic look into the subject. I liked the course idea, and if ever needed it could be a decent source of readies. It amazes me that people have gotten around to getting more interested in the subject of growing some of their own food. Interestingly, I’m seeing articles on economising and cooking good food on the cheap. Certainly it is a change.

    Brr! Did it get as cold as 33’F? Hope the seedlings are OK?

    I reckon you did a smart move saving the old garden soil. And it has been turned so thoroughly now that it will probably produce an amazing crop. Just remember to feed the soil at the end of the season.

    I’m about half way through Dex, and am enjoying it. As usual it is a complicated storyline involving many characters – some of whom are not what they seem to be – and of course our anti-hero extricating himself from his troubles (only just). Thoroughly enjoyable.

    Hopefully the series is there tomorrow?

    Sometimes a good story might not benefit from historical accuracy. 🙂



  42. Chris:

    Now there was my smile for the day: You and your failed essays in English class, and now you write the most delightful creative essays that we all know many people love to read.



  43. Chris:

    I noticed in a comment to Margaret that you had an 18% interest rate. We did, too – on our house (the only one we “owned” before this one) that we bought in 1982. I have always wondered how we paid it off. We were making so little money and lost money when we sold it.


  44. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … Sweeping generalizations hold true, as long as you keep in mind there are always “exceptions to the rule.” In a way, they’re related to cliches. Cliches can be irritating, and I think it’s because they sound rather simple minded. Trite. But on the other hand, are (generally) true. Which can be irritating as heck.

    LOL. Sometimes, when the topic of parents come up, I say, “Mum’s dead. We didn’t miss her, much.” Leaves ’em gasping. I keep waiting to run across an honest person who says, “I know exactly what your talking about.” 🙂

    If your volcano goes up, it will probably be over, for you, in short order. The rest of us will have to put up with the 10+ years of volcanic winter. Eating bugs, and stuff. That was quit a good article on your volcanoes. I wonder if they have them wired with seismographs? Probably not. Until things get a lot more lively. I wonder if that quake you had was magma stirring round, down there?

    Endless drizzle, here to. It’s up at 8:45, every morning for me. Walk the darned dog, or Western Civilization will end, or something. Just once, I’d like to sleep til I wake up. Like the good old days. 🙂 Not that the noisy parking lot would allow that.

    Paint? You forget. You’re talking to a painter’s son, here. Yup. Moisture, humidity and paint don’t mix. Or they do mix, and that’s not good. Paint is also not as good as Ye Olde Days. Oh, well. Sooner or later we’ll be back to buttermilk and blueberries. Maybe mixing up a bit of slaked lime.

    Well, when chickens die in their thousands (or are culled in their thousands), it’s a problem.

    The food article was very good, I thought. For pointing people in the right direction. Funny, though. He didn’t mention the easiest vegetable to grow. The potato.

    I generally feed the soil, in the spring. Rain, and all. Of course, I’m usually feeding the soil all along, what with kitchen scraps and piddle. 🙂 It doesn’t look like the cold spell hurt any of the veg. But it might take a few days, to show.

    The library will get a delivery, today. I’ll pick them up, tomorrow. I notice “Moonfall” is in transit. Hope it shows up. I’m up for a popcorn night. I’ve got some interesting thing, on my hold list. A couple of documentaries about Australia. And some series about a disgraced chef, who must return to his little Australian home town. Bill McKibben has a new book out, but it looks like it might be political. Oh, well. It will still be funny, I’m sure.

    Well, the big news is, we finally have a new night manager. “He.” That’s a first. I haven’t talked to him, but got a glimpse. I’d say, he’s about 30 or so. I may have more information on his background, but have to check out my sources. He’s a little fellow, with a big black wild beard. I figure the Ladies will react in one of two ways. Half of them will say, “He looks like a druggie!” The rest will try and mother him and say things like, “You’d look so nice, if you just trimmed up that beard…” Poor b_____d. Lew

  45. Chris,

    Ouch! Having the modem blown by the lightning is NOT a good thing. But it is a much better thing than having it hit you!

    Avalanche just got home from an overnight stay with Killian, his mother and her 17-year-old daughter. We went out for dinner Thursday night to celebrate a birthday. Yup, DJ is now 2 years plus 6 decades old. The 17-year-old very kindly remarked that 62 is still ok, it’s when I turn 70 is when the problems will hit. Nice kid?

    I’ve seen others cover bare/thin spots with grass clippings. It helped those areas, too.

    Seriously? It was okay to have dead brown dirt and *stuff* for a yard, but NOT okay to let the grass remain tall? Wow.

    Meanwhile, the Spokane City Council will soon be voting on a water restriction proposal. “If passed, from June to October, outdoor watering can’t happen from 9 am to 6 pm. Alternating days will also be determined, depending on the assigned zone you live in the city. If the Spokane River falls below 1,000 cfs (cubic feet per second), then watering days will be limited to two days a week.” However, there are exemptions/exceptions: “There will be exemptions for those with personal/community vegetable gardens, trees, and newly-planted landscape.”

    So, I WILL be able to water my trees and vegetables as needed. I only water the lawns once a week, more or less, in the summer anyhow. I’ve also noted that any Spokane City Park will lose more water to evaporation in a day than I can USE in a year. But part of the proposal says that “Spokane Parks and Recreation uses about 3-4 percent of all water in Spokane and would also be subject to the law.” So maybe they’ll lead by example.

    What? A third consecutive La Nina year? Wow. Dunno what that means. Other than more weirdness. 😉


  46. Hi Pam,

    I hear you about that and likewise lost almost 20% of the value of the first house we’d bought, although the house was cheap and so the loss was small. As a bit of background, we had to rush to buy that place too, so it was not an optimal situation. The Editor had just been made redundant and so could show the correct payslip docs to the banksters for the loan before they woke (!) up to the actual situation. Compared to the super crazy taken to eleven on the dial house prices nowadays, we could field the payments easily on my income alone. That recession with high unemployment was tough as. It’s now considered so far in the past that people believe that such things are impossible, yet I lived them.

    Back then, we had a couch which had only three legs. As you can imagine the couch was not all that useful. Except that we propped up one corner of the couch with a brick (which just happened to be the exact height of the missing leg). A perfect solution except for the faded pink velvet fabric! But you know what general poverty looks like? It looks like this: We sold the couch (with brick) and there were willing buyers for the thing (and brick). And we were not the first owners of that couch, not by a long shot.

    Thank you, that was very sweet. English classes were for me a total mystery. Perhaps given the outcome, this was not such a bad thing? 🙂 Who cares about boring old Holden – if a sequel were penned, he’d probably still be whiny!



  47. Hi DJ,

    Ah, of course, you make a strong argument which I cannot deny the accuracy of. Does lightning strike twice? Yes, is perhaps the correct answer, although the question might be better if it was presented as such: Is lightning attracted to certain locales? And thus why I have a spare modem / router, ready to go, just in case! There is a Plan C ready to go too.

    Interestingly, the previous physical modem / router devices seemed to have some sort of two year lifespan, and that experience has been consistent enough that after the last one died, I stumped the mad cash for a higher end device. It turned out that that was a good idea as the thing seems to have lasted longer and is more stable. Dunno about you, but for me it is less about the upfront cost, and more about the sheer wastefulness of just regularly chucking out complicated machines after they’ve packed it in. The wastefulness seems like a dumb idea to me.

    Alright, all this talk of lightning strikes lead me on an interweb rabbit hole because I discovered that a very few folks survived huge falls from stricken aircraft. Like falls from bonkers heights. Who knew that was even possible? Would you ever fly in an aircraft again after such an experience? And also commercial aircraft are likely to be hit by lightning about once per year. Far out! Hope the engineers who designed the things know what they were doing. 🙂

    Mate, you’ve reached a venerable age, and possibly may lay claim to some wisdom? This is of course the up-side to ageing and of having teenagers provide candid opinions. 🙂

    Covering the bare patches with clippings works for sure. Reducing the amount of the suns UV hitting the soil is also a good idea. The old timers used to understand that this summer energy source was a good sterilising agent.

    Yes, and the official letters about the grass were all too real. Renting is not a good option down here (in my experience anyway) because sometimes landlords can be tools. We paid on time and kept the place super neat, but that clearly wasn’t enough. The owners towards the end made the suggestion that they wanted to sell the place, and would it be OK if we kept the place neat for the weekly open for inspections? We left, they kept the place, and for us it was preferable to move into a half built house which was not even fully clad.

    If a bushfire wiped this house out, we’d prefer to live here even with the forest wiped out.

    Yeah, I’ve experienced water restrictions back during the last big drought. The rules were simple to follow and they wanted to get every house down to 150L per person per day. Grass died – nuff said (it grows back so I wouldn’t worry about the grass), and the parks got mulched heavily which reduced water loss. And no exceptions for houses growing vegetables / community gardens etc. Some watering was allowed but it depended on odds and evens house numbers and was only a small window of time.

    What surprised me is that at that time a huge volume of fresh water gets flushed down the sewer, along with (who knows what else? Yikes!) useful plant minerals. That alone convinced me that we are on a one-way trip to being just another history road kill civilisation.

    Incidentally, the dams got as low as the mid-teen percentages and not too far below that mark is stagnant water that probably can’t be used.

    Yup, water it be a problem for sure. Hope you’re OK?

    The La Nina is not confirmed, but it is looking likely.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the insight into sweeping generalisations / clichés as I had not considered that aspect. Hmm. You made mention that clichés can be irritating, and the many interweb definitions of the word also contained the word ‘trite’. Interestingly, the 1953 Concise Oxford Dictionary used the descriptive word ‘hackneyed’ which appears to mean the same thing. You don’t hear that word used nowadays. So it appears to be something of a higher order literary sin (he says taking notes! 🙂 ).

    Writing is an interesting activity for sure and I can always see off in the distance the comfort of the familiar. What has interested me about Margaret Atwood’s book on essays (which is a truly awesome read) is that as the years progressed one after another (and I may be in the 2020 world of essays now from memory), the concerns as to the state of the world have likewise become more prevalent in the subject matter of the essays. Are things actually worse nowadays? Or have they been worse all along? I assume that things are worse, if only because my life has been witness to one slow decline after another. At several points in my life I have had the experience of being rather poor, and what surprises me about those memories is that at the time – you don’t notice, life just is what it is at that point. It’s very possible from my perspective that despite ongoing decline, many things in the future might actually get better. I recall when I was a kid that the adults used to socialise a whole lot more than they seem to now. Of course putting me in front of the space invaders machine with a few coins whilst the adults went off and got a drink at the pub, probably didn’t work out all that well… 🙂 But they did seem to be having more fun than adults seem to nowadays.

    Hehe! That’s a great answer (busy taking notes for future reference). One cliché I hear is that blood is thicker than water, but man, I dunno about that one. Yeah, I don’t see a lot of honesty on that front either, but I do see a lot guilt and evasiveness. It’s probably something to do with the great nightmare, err, sorry I meant to type: the great dream.

    Yes, of course, a near instant death versus ten+ years of insect scrounging (I hear wood lice / slaters are quite tasty!) probably is a whole bunch of pain more.

    Well yeah, that thought had occurred to me too about the 5.9 earthquake. There are a few hairline fractures in the plaster in the house to fix up from that. Been busy, but have fixed up some of them. The geologists keep suggesting that we are due for one to go.

    Speaking of being busy, we managed to paint the greenhouse structure today. It required almost a gallon and a half of paint for the first coat. There was a bit of wind today (and it was a warm wind) so the timber dried, we then installed the roof battens, and they too dried. A storm threatened but it ran along the valley and completely bypassed us. It was a sign. I didn’t want to paint today, but today we painted, and will probably do so again tomorrow.

    Next weekend I hope to do no work on the greenhouse and just let the paint cure for a week or two before adding the roof sheeting and ridge capping on. Me tired.

    Man, I so hear you about the sleep in. Everyone has a plan, until someone else demands you get up early! I’m just not wired for that, but one must bend with the wind. H will be fine without the early morning walkies, and Western Civ will continue its plunge into the toilet without your pleasant repose being rudely disturbed. 🙂

    That’s my thinking too about paint not being the same as it once was. We buy the best stuff and apply it properly, because it seems wasteful to do otherwise. Have I mentioned that paint seems to go-off quicker nowadays? It’s almost become one of those products which you can’t store for very long. And recently, one can had a tiny rust hole and leaked paint. What didn’t leak, dried in the can.

    I like your paint formula! Slaked lime is not so easily obtained up here.

    Yeah, the lack of mention of the humble potato was something of a mystery. No doubt, the humble potato will make a comeback – nutritionally, the tuber is a powerhouse. But probably not good to be eaten for 90% of meals.

    Good stuff, and very wise indeed with the soil feeding. As an interesting side note, I’ve begun sourcing materials for the raised garden beds in the new greenhouse project.

    Fingers crossed that your veg survives the recent dip into colder temperatures.

    The trailer for Moonfall looked epic – not a good day to be caught out. From memory, the trailer had a guy running and the moon was looming behind him. The odds in that instance were not good for the running dude.

    Ooo! Aftertaste. How did I miss this? I shall forward the recommendation onto the Editor and will eagerly await your review.

    Oh man, the poor night manager probably doesn’t know what will hit him. He’ll be fine, maybe. 😉



  49. Yo, Chris – No, you don’t hear the word “hackneyed” much, anymore. Maybe, too many syllables? 🙂 Only seen in the wild in crossword puzzles and Scrabble games. I think I mentioned that people’s average vocabulary has taken a big plunge. Newspapers used to be written for a third or fourth grade reading comprehension. Which most of the population could handle.

    Another good essayist is Susan Orlean. Not all of her books are collections of essays, but the one’s that are, are wonderful. I think. “The Bullfighter Checks Her Makeup” is one.

    Were things worse, or is it just because we’re so saturated in media? Probably, a little of both. But I do think there’s a lot more “crazy” in the world, then there used to be. Social restraints seem to have broken down. Oh, yes, adults used to socialize more, back in the day. Sit on the front porch, in summer, and chat with passersby. Now, all you see is the reflection from a flickering blue screen. See: “Bowling Alone.”

    There was a TV docu-drama, a few years back about what it would be like if the Yellowstone caldera went up, again. There was also a book. Can’t remember the title or author. Same premise, from a fictional point of view. I seem to remember that during the volcanic winter, people ate a lot of Kale and mushrooms. 🙂 Now where they got the light to grow the Kale, I don’t remember.

    Besides H, there’s not much chance of sleeping in, due to all the noise from the parking lot. And just general neighborhood noise. Tis the season for mowers, edgers and blowers.

    If you’re going to spend a lot of time on a ladder, wear good shoes. Your feet will thank you, later in life. I remember my Dad invested a lot of money in good shoes. Mostly Oxfords. Good solid sole. Somewhere, kicking around, I’ve got a book of old paint formulas. And that formula book I mentioned last month, had many paint recipes. Most of the new paints are plastic / petroleum based. So they’re on the way out. But when you get right down to it, nothing beat lead paint for bathrooms and kitchens. There’s also the problem with people not following the directions on the can. For surface preparation, etc..

    It’s going to be a popcorn night, tonight, as “Moonfall” showed up. I think I can squeeze it in, between “The Great,” season two (which was a hoot. Very, very naughty), and “Sanditon,” season two. Then it’s onto “Dexter: New Blood” which also showed up. Due dates sometimes dictate viewing order.

    You know, I was idly thinking of “Moonfall” and from the trailer, it seems to be about a bit of a loss of gravity. And I got wondering if whales would be whisked into the air. Which reminded me of “Star Trek: The Voyage Home.” AKA “The one with the whales.” 🙂 The library has one copy, which I put on hold.

    Besides the chef Australian series, there’s also “Under the Vines.” Which is, I think, about an estranged British couple, who inherit a decaying vineyard in (I think) New Zealand. Haven’t seen it on the new library list yet.

    Speaking of the new library list, a couple of things popped up last night, that surprised me. The speed they went to DVD. The new Nick Cage movie, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. And, “The Lost City.”

    I had a bit of a chat with the new night manager, this morning. He was out walking his dog, Susie. H and her did NOT hit it off. Even though we were both lecturing our respective animals, sternly. Turns out his day job is a drug and alcohol counselor. Fancy that. Lew

  50. Chris:

    I get you about that couch. The couch we have now is from 1967, my parents handed it down to us when we got married, and it could (if it wasn’t sheathed in covers) win the Ugly Couch Award.

    At an earlier point in our lives we used to scrounge for furniture put out on the streets after the well-to-do students at our local university left for their homes after the spring semester. Found some great stuff that way.


  51. Hello Chris
    That seat by the fire in the pub plus good conversation sounds wonderful. A glass of wine for me though. I started to think about specifics and generalisations in conversations with children and at that point I gave up completely.
    We had a thunderstorm during the night and though I woke to sunshine, I have just had to turn the light on mid morning.
    Have just planted out the tomatoes plus some placed in a greenhouse. Here’s hoping things go better than last years disaster.


  52. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Covers over couches hide a multitude of sins! Plus they also protect the couches from the activities of our canine friends. The Fluffies have access to two couches here, both of which are protected by covers. And one of those couches was the white leather one we bought last year and picked up second hand within hours of a snap lock down due to the health subject which dare not be named (ah, fun days!) That is the dogs bed, and they love it.

    I tell you truly, there are times where I get the impression that we’re only but a single step ahead, and any misstep…

    When there was the exodus of international students due to you-know-what, that exact thing happened here and the market for second hand stuff plunged. Really good stuff was going for a song.

    From an environmental perspective it is better to re-use than re-cycle, although try telling people that and it brushes up against their firmly held snobberies.



  53. Hi Inge,

    🙂 Your choice is fortunate because there are a lot of local wineries, and by all accounts the produce is quite good.

    I discovered earlier in the week that deep philosophy is not my thing, so can well understand your perspective as to the consideration of generalisations. Unfortunately I was blessed with the awfulness of having to implement in the physical world, the stuff that is in my head. Truly awful. 😉 Basically there’s work to be done and I’m here to work. The other stuff, well I can only but do my best.

    There’s always a bit of trepidation for me with thunderstorms. Is the lightning going to destroy and/or set alight a tall tree? Always an exciting prospect. On the other hand, I have heard that lightning strikes are a double edged sword as they can also fertilise the ground they strike. The process involves extracting nitrogen out of the atmosphere and getting it into the ground for the plants. It’s a process that has probably been going on for a very long time.

    Fingers crossed for your tomatoes. Only those who have tasted a failed tomato crop, know what the horrendous fruit tastes like.



  54. Hi Lewis,

    There is logic to your theory, but you have to admit, it is a good word? You’ve mentioned the game which I dare not play: Scrabble. Mate, I have tried to play this game against the Editor and she destroys me. The defeats are so final that they’re embarrassing, and I freely acknowledge the superior prowess. The defeat is almost a foregone conclusion at the commencement of the game. There are times I decry: That’s not a word, you made that up! And out comes the Concise Oxford Dictionary from 1953 (hardback edition no less) and there the pesky word is. It’s no fun being trounced repeatedly. My earlier Sensei took that approach as well, and on Saturday’s he used to open the Dojo to all comers, and then trounce them. It was training for him, and what the opponents never realised was that they honed him like the finest of blades.

    But yes, I do agree there. George Orwell has now been proven correct. Attack the language, and the culture will surely fall. It’s a very old English strategy, however never for one minute did I consider that it would be turned against the general population. It is probably a sign of just how desperate things have become.

    Thank you for the book recommendation. I’m intrigued, and Tonya Harding is always an interesting person. Hmm.

    Intermediation becomes the problem with the social circumstances. If a person simply stops looking, communication and seeing, then they tend to veer to the darker side of the force: Believing. Ah Padwan, what you take into that dark cave, surely in there it will meet you, will it not? And here we are today. I’m old school, I get off my couch and simply speak to people, lots of different people. The stories I hear are not comforting, by and large. However, I have travelled to the third world and have seen much worse, so we have a ways to go before getting to that point, but the point is there at the horizon for sure. You can see it, if anyone cares to look.

    Yes, Yellowstone is another such monster. May we avoid the jaws of the beast. Did I read correctly that the authoritas released wolves back into that park? Surely they can’t be serious about the Kale? Maybe that was the authors worst nightmare vegetable? I feel that way about parsnips – it was almost verging on child abuse feeding me that stuff. Horrendous.

    It is a well known fact that blowers, blow. You heard it here first! 🙂

    Oh my gawd, it’s getting late and I’m yet to begin writing. I’m thinking zombies, we haven’t spoken about them for a while, and they’re always entertaining.

    Yes, thanks for the reminder about work boots. Most days I wear leather work boots, regardless. I even wear them to clients, it gives me I feel a more authentic ‘I’m here to work vibe’. But the reality is I just like work boots, and have spares. 😉 You think I’m half asleep… Hehe!

    Sorry, but I now forget – and that book recommendation was important – what was the title of the useful recipes / formulas book again? Sorry, I do have to fight off book recommendations all the time otherwise, you guys will drain the coffers! 🙂 That’s my excuse anyway. But that one an exception should be made.

    Did you enjoy Moonfall? And please I’m really slow to getting around to viewing anything on the screen so no Dex spoilers. Nobody really wants spoilt fruit do they?

    I really liked that Star Trek film, it was fun and the actors looked as though they were enjoying themselves.

    That’s not good about those two films. I recall seeing posters for The Lost City, but release timing was not good down here due to the general level of craziness.

    H is a Fluffy of the blackest stripe, and she needs time to get used to the new kid on the block. She’ll get there, or otherwise the new kid might force her to submit or vice versa? Who knows? It might be easier to simply let them go at it and work out who is who in the zoo?

    Almost forgot to mention: Was this ancient vessel a hand grenade? If so, it backs up a long-debated theory about weapons in the Crusades. Cool. Explosions. It’s a guy thing. 🙂



  55. Yo, Chris – I mentioned Scrabble, as I remembered the Editor’s prowess. 🙂 Bad Lew!

    Yes, the Powers That Be have an easier time of it, when the population is kind of stupid. “We’re as dumb as we want to be!” To make it a thing of value. See the film: “Idiocracy.” And I think you have.

    Besides Yellowstone, wolves have been reintroduced in other western states. It’s a fraught subject. Farmers and ranchers are not happy. Oh, well, if you loose stock, we’ll just pay you for them. Still doesn’t fly. Some misguided attempt at “…restoring the balance of nature.” What balance? Which place and which time period? And it’s not just wolves. There are other, smaller bitey things being reintroduced.

    “Henley’s Formulas for Home and Workshop.” It’s out of copyright and in the public domain. So, there are cheap copies kicking around.

    Well, “Moonfall” was OK. Worth a bowl of popcorn, I guess. The premiss was interesting. But, it was missing something. Competent acting, maybe?

    Dex spoilers? He kills a lot of people, who mostly deserve to be killed 🙂 .

    Also on tap, is “Let the Wrong One In.” An Irish vampire comedy. Trailer looks good. I’ll watch it in a couple of nights. I watched the first couple of episodes of the second season of “Sanditon.” Austen left behind a book that was a couple of chapters and an outline. Someone has picked it up, fleshed it out, and ran with it. It’s engrossing. The Editor might like it.

    The “hand grenade” from the Crusades sounds a bit like a Molotov Cocktail. They’re still trying to figure out a lot of the old medieval weaponry. What exactly was Greek Fire, and how was it delivered. There are theories. Of course, nothing beats catapulting plague ridden bodies, over the walls of a besieged city. 🙂

    I moved a lot of dirt, last night. Can’t hold a candle to your efforts, but in my own small way … I got the soil shifted around in the stock tanks. And, got the top soil I’d saved in tarps, into the tubs. Just kind of paced myself. Ten shovel full of dirt from one tub to another … go do some other little task, and then pitch ten more shovel full. Haul a couple of five gallon buckets of dirt, and then go to some other little task. The weather was perfect, and now it’s bucketing down. Lew

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