Chain of Fools

Ruby has been the hardest dog to train. She has her own ideas about things. There are opinions. Distractions. Possibly important Kelpie business that needs attending to. I’m cool with all that. However, there are certain basic principles that Ruby has to abide by here. And one of those principles is that all of the dogs have to hang around with me, or check in with me every few minutes.

There is an old saying which suggests that with freedom comes responsibility. It is an impossible expectation to monitor the dogs every waking moment, so somehow the dogs have to accept responsibility for their actions. Even when I managed teams of people I’d simply point them in the direction, provide assistance and education where needed, let them fail, but most importantly set and enforce boundaries.

Ensuring the dogs know to check in with me every few minutes means that they can enjoy their freedoms, but can’t go too far, or get in trouble for very long. There are a lot of risks living here, and Sandra and I are hardly immune from the many risks either. Already the other two dogs Ollie and Dame Plum, have encountered a deadly snake a year or so ago, and they both chose to leave it well alone. In fact to their credit, they alerted me to the danger. We’ve had huge trees fall over with only a few moments notice. Staying alert keeps you out of trouble here.

The other day, Ruby took herself off on a prolonged adventure in the surrounding forest. She came back all flushed with excitement, except she knew she’d done wrong. Breaking one of the guiding principles meant that there had to be consequences. We put her on the chain.

It wasn’t just any chain, but a very heavy, and ironically named: Dog Chain. Ruby could move around just fine, but it took a lot of effort to do so. I’d heard of trainers using a chain as a training tool for Kelpie’s, but never expected to find myself having to do so. And yet there the dog and I were all the same. After ten minutes on the chain, I let her run free, and to my relief the lesson was learned and Ruby now checks in with me every few minutes. She knew, she just didn’t care. Now she cares. The chain is regularly shown to remind her of her responsibilities.

It sure is a hard way to learn. But then, accepting limits is verboten. One of the biggest issues at the recent Federal Election seems to have been campaigning about the issue of Climate Change. Whether the candidates were for or against Climate Change, I couldn’t really tell. However, the old government was chucked out and a new one installed. The new one seemed to be making a lot of noise about the issue, and fortunately we can now be clear on where they stand, because only two weeks into their office: Short-term fix to gas crisis is to bring coal plants online, Resources Minister Madeleine King says

That’s was a relief. For a moment or two there I thought they might do something really exciting like attempting to run the national mains electricity grid entirely using renewable energy technologies. As someone who has lived with this renewable energy technology for over a dozen years now, I don’t think that the people voting for Climate Change, are going to enjoy the outcome from employing this technology.

The winter solstice is the time of year when the sun produces its feeblest energy. That’s winter for you, and in most parts of the world winter is a cold affair. Down here, the past fortnight has been the cloudiest continuous run of weather that I can recall. The solar power system records the amount of available sunlight each day, and I record that number. There was one day during this fortnight where we recorded more than an hours peak sunlight, and two days where exactly an hour was enjoyed. The rest of the fortnight was far less than that. And little sunlight means little available electricity.

In order to accommodate the restricted amount of electricity at this time of year we have to accept limits on our usage of that energy source. We are unable to do whatever we want to do, whenever we want to do it at this time of year. And propositions such as charging a large electric vehicle from our system is laughable. That’s what limits look like.

Seems that each year that goes by I pen an essay on the realities of living with renewable energy technologies, and it always seems to come back to the core issue of accepting limits. The essays could be interpreted as a warning. As I type away at this essay I’m concerned that the batteries in the house are 50% full (and the bottom 20% cannot be accessed). But of greater concern to me is that energy prices in the wider community are becoming more expensive.

Becoming more expensive doesn’t mean that we’ll suddenly run out of Oil, Coal and Gas before the next blog entry. Nope, far from it. What it means is that for each slow increase in the price for energy, an ever larger chunk of the economic output will be required to pay for the energy. It’s very possible that at some point in the future we’ll have access to energy, but few will be able to afford the price.

When I read articles in the media about the increase in prices for energy, ironically coined: Bill Shock, I tend to wonder at what point will people accept limits and just use less of the stuff? Nobody can really know another person’s motivations, but I suspect that upon suffering ‘Bill Shock’, people know they have to use less, but like Ruby, do they care enough to do so? I can’t really say for sure what will happen in the future, but I reckon there will be consequences.

Another cloudy, rainy day at the office

It sure has been cold and wet this week. One day we were working on the greenhouse and the cold wind was chilling my bones, and it was a relief to complete the work, then head back indoors where I could warm myself in front of the wood heater.

A sheet of marine grade plywood was purchased so that we could mill up all the various bits of trim required for the greenhouse. Painting the various bits of trim was an exercise in patience because the paint takes many days to dry and cure at this cold time of year. Three coats of paint are a minimum for a building as challenging on timber as a greenhouse will be.

A sheet of plywood provided enough material for all of the trim

We began installing the remaining sheets of clear corrugated polycarbonate onto the external walls of the greenhouse.

Ollie approves of the wind protection afforded by the polycarbonate sheeting

We’d run out of polycarbonate sheeting and picked up a further four sheets which should be enough to complete the cladding job. Each sheet installed was a custom fit for the available space, and some of the cuts required were quite fiddly and slow.

Ollie approves of the further sheets installed on the Greenhouse

We’re confident enough of completing the construction tomorrow, that we’ve even purchased a trailer load of compost plus many bags of soil mineral additives for the first raised garden bed to be installed in the greenhouse.

A trailer load of compost waiting to be used in the Greenhouse

The local wildlife enjoys the benefits of the work we do on improving the soils.

The farm’s family of Magpies enjoys the insects and worms attracted to the soil improvement works

The ground cover plants in the paddock and orchards have a surprising diversity of plants. At this time of year, the mosses tend to show their best. Some of the largest of all mosses grow here (Dawsonia superba), although the plant hardly looks like a moss.

Moss grows throughout the orchards and paddock

Each week seems to produce a new type of mushroom and the variety this week is almost inky black.

A fascinating fungi! Probably very deadly

Onto the flowers:

Escallonia flowers. A very attractive shrub
Irish Strawberry tree flowers
An out-of-season Yarrow flower
This Daisy has just grown and grown this year

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 466.8mm (18.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 453.2mm (17.8 inches)

44 thoughts on “Chain of Fools”

  1. G’day Chris,
    Timely post. We’ve been at home with covid the past 6 days, and the kids are starting to get a bit snarky. We’ve been having quite a few chats with our 12 y.o. about expectations, respect, and limits. I read him the first part of your essay which was very relevant!
    We’ve been busy here. Planting garlic, greens, beans, lettuce, peas, sweet potato, potato. Weeding. Freezing the remains of last years garlic. Harvesting lots of citrus now, as well as some leafy greens, beans, herbs.
    We’ve had so much rain in the last month, it’s been splendid. I think about 120 mm, but that’s likely an underestimate. The weeds love it. The trees are mostly dropping their leaves, and the ground (with abundant bark chips covered by a layer of rotting leaves) is really starting to look like a forest floor which is delightful.
    I estimated recently that we had caught 1.2 kL of urine from the composting loo. Amazing how quickly such a large volume of resource is reclaimed.
    We have also set-up a second fridge as a cool room for fruit. It’s on a timer and runs from 8am-7pm (at this time of year) so it’s only when our PV is producing.
    But, yes, PV production has been fairly low. We managed to keep our grid-draw to 3.2 kWh/day for the Mar-Jun period, which was good. We used about an additional 4 kWh/day from our PV panels. It is working well.
    Did you listen to any of the Classic 100 for screen on the ABC? definitely worth a listen!
    Cheers, Gus

  2. Collecting water- the cistern quote came in crazy high, but I think they were busy and just tossed a number to see if we’d bite. I’ll need to get emphatic with them, look elsewhere, or reconsider the project details.

    Making the connection- that’s the trick. Cause and effect; if I stray for too long, I have to lug the chain of shame, so I guess I won’t stray too long.

    Humans are considered by some to be smarter than dogs, but one wonders.

    Thing is, some effects are easy to link to the cause, and even give some warning. Some links are not as obvious, and some effects give no warning. Human’s big advantage has been that we can share experiences through communication, so in theory don’t need to personally suffer the consequences of poor choices that others have already learned and passed warnings on.

    Well, history ( and current state of things) is replete with counters to that premise. Ah well, so it goes.

    Nice gentle rains have all our soup beans up and sprouting. The rest of the garden is looking good, but the tomatoes have not kicked in to high gear yet. They need some good summer heat.

    Here it is June, won’t be all that long till we are harvesting garlic! Last year’s garlic stored very well, the last few fresh bulbs were still in decent shape a couple weeks ago, so we just peeled and tossed in the freezer.

    Marine grade plywood! $$$ ! Materials are not as crazy as earlier, but it is still a different world. I am much more careful when designing a project and making material lists than I was before.

  3. Yo, Chris – Oh, no! Not The Chain!!! 🙂 When I was a kid, it was The Board. a one by four, about four feet long. Kept in a central location, next to the phone. Or, The Belt. Not that I remember ever being disciplined, with either.

    I read last week, that there was some climate summit, in Glasgow. Many young people were out in the streets chanting, “No oil, no gas, no coal!” I thought to myself, “Have you thought this through?” There’s an old AA saying, “Think it through to it’s logical conclusion.” Not enough of that going around, these days.

    Yes, telling where a candidate stands these days, is like reading tea leaves. Sometimes I end up looking for clues in background information. Do they trot out the wife and seven kiddies? Flog their religious affiliations? What schools did they go to? Religious or secular? Given our current political climate, it seems a simple question would be, “Who do you think won the 2020 presidential election?” But the reporters never seem to be able to ask that very simple question. Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂 . Seems like a simple question. Even waffling, would reveal, a lot.

    Bill shock, limits, “…but will they?” The article on getting the most out of your grocery dollar was interesting. But, I knew most of that stuff, already. But other people don’t. What do they teach in school? Don’t go shopping hungry. Make a list and stick to it. The stuff at eye level is the most expensive. Look up, look down. Store brands can be just as tasty as name brands. Etc. etc..

    Ollie may soon discover that the warmest place on the farm, besides in front of the wood stove, is the greenhouse. But will he be able to navigate the door?

    I thought we’d see a bit of Hats on Parade. Is the hat your wearing in the pictures, one of your new chapeaus?

    I think your magpies are larger, than ours. They look it. I have a Jay that’s pulling the coconut husk lining, out of my Patriotic Hanging Basket. Building a nest, I suppose. Hope he finishes soon, before the basket is snatched bald.

    I really like mosses, in all their variety and colors. Usually, a symphony of greens. The Japanese make whole gardens, just using mosses.

    The mushroom got me wondering. Can you make ink, out of an ink cap mushroom? Well, you can, but it doesn’t look like yours.

    I saw somewhere else, that the mushroom isn’t poisonous. Unless you have a few belts, under your belt. Probably won’t find it as a garnish, at the local pub. That website looks interesting. I may have to go back and poke around, a bit. Speaking of reactions, our night manager spent a few nights in the hospital. Had a reaction to tree nuts. I told him it was probably good that I didn’t give him any of my peanut butter cookies, with walnut pieces. He said it would kill him. Good to know. 🙂

    Can Irish strawberries be far behind? I had one of our strawberries, yesterday. Yummy!

    I saw a disquieting article, last night. Apparently, Gargle Chat has become sentient. Well, here it is. We knew it was coming. So, to reference that Melissa McCarthy movie I saw, will it save us, enslave us, or kill us? It’s a popcorn night, tonight. Star Trek: The Voyage Home. Lew

  4. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Yeah, like your style. 🙂 You go first dude!

    Just to add to the clicky clacky keyboard I picked up a second hand Hori Real Arcade Pro.V Hayabusa for the PC. Ooooo! It’s good.



  5. Hi Steve,

    That doesn’t surprise me as prices for such things have gone through the roof down here. The sheet of half inch marine grade plywood set me back $150. For one sheet. Can you do above ground water tanks there? Are you sure they’d freeze solid as there is a lot of thermal mass? A polyethylene tank would probably have enough give in the walls to cope with being frozen solid and expanding.

    Hehe! Yes, Steve, you were warned!!!! That’s funny, but no you’re cool and in no danger of the chain.

    Dogs are pretty clever, if allowed to be so. Although their personalities are really quite different one to the other, and there are dumb dogs as well as smart dogs. Sir Scruffy was without doubt the smartest dog that I’ve yet to encounter. Wow, but he could learn super fast, and often he’d pick and choose which actions the other dogs did which were rewarded. And he was the first dog to put the large but very gentle Ollie in his place.

    The risk with communication though is that we rely on others not to stuff things up – and if they do, well as they used to say: Garbage In, Garbage Out. I have a vague theory that most people are oblivious as to the things and systems which allow us all to do what we do day after day. When the fuel prices started going up, I heard an interview with an expert. The first question was: What is crude oil. And at no point was it mentioned that crude oil was a finite resource. Now Sir Scruffy, if he was a human, he would not have asked the first question (having no need to do so), and most definitely bitten into the unspoken question.

    Out of curiosity, how many soup bean plants do you grow? I did about twenty last year, and wish I’d grown a hundred! Yeah, tomatoes, hmm, not good.

    Yup, the old timers used to say plant garlic bulbs on the shortest day and harvest on the longest day.

    Yes, wastage of materials is money poorly spent. I dunno about your part of the world, but I’ve heard estimates of up to 10% waste with constructions down here, but we try not to waste anything. You always get a small amount of waste with every project though, just not 10% of the total materials.



  6. Hi Gus,

    🙂 Glad to be of service, and I do hope that you and your family keep well, and that you get better soon. It’s going around, that’s for sure. And I’ve encountered quite a number of people with it in my travels – not much you can do about that.

    For your information, Ruby was running around today, and interestingly, recalling to check in with me. Mate, it’s a hard balance and there is middle ground to be reached. Isn’t risk a funny thing in that in order to gain experience with risk and managing how to respond to that, there has to be some sort of framework and guiding principles? It’s definitely a complicated subject.

    Top work with the harvest. Yum! I forget, what sort of citrus are you growing? I’m getting Pomello’s (a cold climate yellow grapefruit) and mandarins at the moment. Very tasty.

    The soil and conditions sound perfect, plus you get more warmth than here. It’s an enviable prospect.

    Yeah, exactly! A huge amount goes into the soil, and then where is all the stuff, becomes the question. I read a very interesting book by the author Gene Logsdon which gave some numbers to the scale of manures (and other minerals – i.e. urea) applied on broad scale way back in the day, and after that we really began ramping up the amount of stuff we chuck around. And all our stuff ends up in the soil too. You’ve done extraordinarily well to get it in the ground. 🙂

    Not a bad idea with the second fridge on the timer. Of course you’ve to keep the door closed outside those hours. We likewise use most electricity during the daylight hours. Things have been very grim this past cloudy fortnight.

    That’s around about our daily electricity usage too, but we have 8kW of panels.

    They were talking about the countdown on Triple J today. I can see that Star Wars won, for sure. It sounded pretty cool and they even played the theme. There’s some interesting statistics from the Classic for screen countdown: What we learned from the Classic 100: Music for the Screen



  7. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yes, indeedy yes, it’s the chain! It won’t hurt a bit, now over here… 🙂 Discipline can be a weird subject. At the more English than the English grammar school, there was always the cane (similar in use to the Board). Oft spoken about, never seen. Now detentions, well had more than my fair share of those. They used to make you write out the school rules during detention (a less creative version of the Breakfast Club film) and that was when I learned what a ‘swot’ was. Being a swotsman, does not protect one from ending up in detention I can assure you.

    Oh, that’s good. Yes, the AA saying has an awful lot of truth to it. A shame, but the alternative technology is good, it’s just not good enough. I doubt the people chanting even know what oil, coal or gas is or even where it comes from and how it is used in their lives. Subsistence farming wouldn’t be all that it’s cracked up to be – just my gut feeling there.

    It’s weird how the politicians trot out their religious values down here. We’ve had a goodly representation of faiths though including atheism. It doesn’t seem to make much difference, and I tend to judge their character by their acts. Mate, that election question brings on: Evasive manoeuvre number six, shields full and load torpedoes. Fire in three, two, one – Dodge question! Your system does seem to encourage a certain sort of vagueness and appears to have done so for a long time – if as an outsider I may offer a perspective.

    I doubt they will respond to bill shock other than the initial whine and later disconnection. There’s serious talk of blackouts on the east coast of this continent this evening – something about not enough reserve generation capacity. That’s a great question: What is taught? I hear unimpressed reports from parents who have home schooled their kids during the past two years. I’m drawing some conclusions about the quality of education, and they might not like them. Limits aren’t really taught, and basic things such as how does the resources go from origins to a household. When I was a kid I knew adults lied because they told me seriously that I could do whatever I wanted. That claim was patently false.

    Ollie would love to get into the greenhouse and eat the compost. Dogs can be filthy in their tastes, but they look and act healthy enough. We got the rest of the cladding up today, installed the first raised garden bed, and fill it with the compost from the back of the trailer. As to hubris, well today’s activities were overly ambitious and I was done by the time it got dark.

    Thanks for the new word, but I probably won’t wear a Chapeau, something, something about being very bad in a past life. The new patch hat is pretty cool, and toasty warm being wool. It’s from Ireland actually, from a company Hanna Hat’s, I recommend them very highly, although I already knew my sizing. The local guy doesn’t stock them any more.

    The local Magpies are pretty big relative to their overseas compatriots. Lovely birds and whilst they hate Ruby and Dame Plum, they’re good with Ollie, myself and the Editor. The two Kelpie’s are fast. The birds will warn me when there is trouble around. What a naughty Jay, and fingers crossed that the Jay finds easier nest building materials.

    I’m guessing mosses are very ancient plants? And Japanese gardens are always very beautiful.

    Wild mushrooms down here are a fraught subject. Nobody knows now, but I’ll bet they used to know way back. I’ve encountered one or two people with nut allergies and it’s a bit awful because those things are used in all sorts of foods.

    They do use the Irish Strawberries in southern Europe to make a fermented drink I believe. Congrats on the strawberry. Such a delight.

    Enjoy the film! I really liked that one and saw it back in the day at the cinema. It was a fun instalment of the series. And that gargle news was on the radio today. Look, most sci-fi films with that premise don’t end up well, put it that way.

    Thanks for mentioning the good Professors essay. It is a subject dear to my heart, and hope he hasn’t stabbed the subject. We’ll see. I’ll check it out later.

    Hey, it’s really weird how much advice there is on repairing various machines these days. utoob is actually not bad for that, although some folks can gloss over important details, but then are paying for it?

    How is the new tomato seedling going after the variable weather?

    It does look like a planet, but then what do I know? Isn’t the concept of the word planet and abstraction which can mean whatever it is defined to mean? My head is now spinning. Pea Soup Exorcist style may soon show if I don’t stop contemplating this planet definition business.

    Yes, that was my thoughts too about the Worcester sauce. In different countries, things taste differently, so I assume recipes get tweaked? In hotter countries I have no idea what is added to chocolate to stop it from melting. Do we really want to know? It doesn’t taste the same to me though.

    🙂 True, and I always liked that quote about the Truth being out there. Very X-Files, which I quite liked before they got too singularly focused on one story line.

    Hope you are enjoying the book on the poet Frank O’Hara? I began reading a Japanese Inn today, and already the author recounts a bawdy peasants song for a couple of porters to get into cadence. I think I’m going to enjoy this book.

    Fingers crossed and best wishes for Elinor. Hope H is enjoying her holiday and on her best behaviour? There is always the chain…



  8. Soup beans- you’ll love this: We planted four rows ~50 feet ( 15m) long, at ~2″ ( 5cm) spacing, so around 1200 plants. We don’t plant that much every year, but our stores were getting low, and I just sense bumpy roads ahead.

    Talk about self reliant. Beans store well and are a good source of protein. I don’t think capturing and storing the methane is worth pursuing though 🙂

    Learning by listening- yeah, lots of knowledge out there, but the signal to noise ratio has gotten out of hand. All that media at our finger tips, just gotta remember that everyone has an agenda.

  9. Yo, Chris – I had to look up what a “swot” was. First look steered me into the business realm. How to analyze a company. “Strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. But then I saw that in academia, it’s slang for what we call, “a grind.” Or, “an apple polisher.” I don’t know if those two terms are even used, anymore.

    Sure you can offer an outside perspective. You can be our modern day de Tocqueville 🙂 .

    There’s been talk of black outs and brown outs, here. But not so much up in our Pacific Northwest. Hydro. Though there’s some wild talk about breaching some of the dams. You can have salmon, or you can have electricity. Choose. Could happen, though. There were those couple of mysterious outages, last summer. Unexplained.

    I’ve got to keep a sharp eye on H. She’ll stuff anything in her mouth.

    Maybe a hat with a plume? You could rock that Three Musketeers, look. 🙂

    I watched a crow harassing a hawk, yesterday. Went on for quit awhile. The hawk was at least twice the size of the crow. Crows are plucky (pun?).

    I don’t know if you’ve ever seen “Kindergarten Cop 2?” The peanut meltdown scene is too funny. Less than 2 minutes.

    I watched the “Star Trek: The Voyage Home,” last night. Held up well. Much popcorn was consumed. Then I watched the first episode of “Aftertaste.” A celebrity chef has a major meltdown, and burns all his bridges. He’s exiled to his home town, in the Adelaide Hills. His family is none to happy to see him. It’s funny and there’s a lot of food. And talk about food. Language is a bit rough.

    The tomato I planted the other day, is looking pretty chipper. The two I planted a few weeks ago, are putting on growth and have flowers. So far, they’re looking pretty good. We’re supposed to have two 70F (21.11C) days, this week. That ought to goose them up, a bit.

    I have no skin in the game, as to if Pluto is a planet, or not. I sleep better 🙂 .

    I watched a bit of “X-Files,” when it came out. Moved to slow, for me, and too much was unresolved. I mean, throw us a bone, once in awhile?

    The Frank O’Hara bio is interesting. Though not what I expected. There’s a lot in it about the author and her relationship to her father. They were kind of bohemians, who lived in the East Village (New York City). Her father was a writer. Any-who. She discovered a lot of interview tapes, that he had done, with people who knew Frank O’Hara. He was going to do a biography. But threw in the towel, as O’Hara’s sister has a strangle hold on a lot of his letters, and such. The author thinks she can finish off the project … and, do a better job of it, than her father. So, she’s relating the interviews, and re-interviewing a lot of the people, that are still alive. She’s also circling around the sister, looking for an “in.” I wonder if she’ll find it?

    LOL. When I gave H her bath yesterday, well, as I’m preparing it, she hid behind my chair. Almost took a block and tackle, to get her out. After, she was either very tired, or very pouty. 🙂 . She flops in my lap, when I’m reading, or watching a movie. But, I’m surprised to find, that she’s not much a a snuggler, at night. Maybe Elinor didn’t encourage that?

    No news on the Elinor front. Maybe, today? It’s Monday here, and the medicos might come to some decisions.

    I was given a total of $70, yesterday, at the Club, for the pantry. So, I’ll go hunting and gathering, tonight. I had real good luck, last week. We’ll see how it goes, tonight. Lew

  10. An arcade pro V! Attempting to relive your misspent youth perhaps? Is super street fighter 2 turbo edition calling you 🙂 Some of the emulators are pretty accurate these days apparently. You can even add CRT screen lines to simulate the analog look!

    I didn’t get into arcade games much as Dorrigo didn’t have any (except for space invaders at the bottom pub), and it was an hour walk into town anyway. My youth was wasted on an Acorn computer with such classics as Lemmings and Lunar Lander.


  11. Hi Damo,

    One can only but try! It’s not a bad unit at all. One of the best emulators I reckon was the Multiple Arcade Machine Emulator. It was the real thing.

    Ooo, the Acorn was a beast of a machine back in the day. Lunar Lander brings back memories, unfortunately for the poor virtual astronauts, yeah, well, they won’t be missed. 🙂

    Isn’t it funny how rubbish the graphics were on those old machines, but a game like Elite or the Ultima series could take you on journey’s to far distant places that never were, and never will be, but it was fun all the same?

    See you on the Dark Side of the Moon! 🙂



  12. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the details, and it is an impressive planting which should set you in good stead for the coming winter. I have been nothing but impressed with beans as a crop. So good. Wise to stash away a goodly harvest, especially given the news today… Ook!

    The plan here is to fence off the area below the machinery shed and greenhouse for a much larger and sunnier vegetable row garden. Easily 20m x 20m. Just got one more shed and another low gradient ramp (heading in the other direction to the existing one) to build first.

    Hehe! Yes, very Blazing Saddles! 🙂 Hey, it might be a new untapped energy source.

    That’s hard to determine sometimes, but agenda’s often become clearer in time. I’d just like to see more people involved in growing edible plants – it’s not too much to ask, is it?



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Had some excitement this morning with the computer. Went to check on the comments. Fired the computer up, and then nothing. The machine was giving me nothing. That was exciting. Turns out one of the hard drives failed. Off to the local computer shop and picked up a replacement. Just finished checking it, seems OK now. There is no warning with this stuff – works one day, then fails the next. Somehow as a civilisation we forgot that it might not be a bad idea to make stuff that lasts longer than the present stuff does. Yup, unicorns and stuff. 🙂

    Of course, that brings back memories. Man, management fads used to do my head in. I dunno, but I have this weird hunch that people loved them because for them it beat working, like hugely long meetings that go nowhere. I’m not built for that environment. I’m more a ‘let’s get this done’ kinda guy, and strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and whatever the other one was should be self-evident.

    Hadn’t heard of ‘a grind’, but had heard of an ‘apple polisher’. It paints a certain image.

    I believe Damo recently read a book on that gentleman, Mr Alexis de Tocqueville. His eyesight pertaining to the future was clear from what I’ve read, and interestingly enough he was useful enough never to have been executed by his many bosses. A notable achievement in those days.

    In some of the dams here they have something called a fish ladder, but I have no idea how such a thing would work. But yeah, you can have one or the other, but not both. What is troubling me is that people are clamouring for action on energy and climate change when it will kick out the very supports that allow them to live such an easy life. I often wonder to myself whether the people doing the clamouring, if they knew the consequences of their demands, whether they’d continue to make them? We’re getting to the point where enough instability gets added to the already very complex system that is society, and the results will be rather unpredictable.

    Go H, and I’d imagine folks at The Club might try to slip her some food too.

    All those unnecessary frills and flounces of The Three Musketeers would make fighting challenging, and plumage would occasionally obscure a persons vision. I don’t recommend that, but historically it was probably fine, maybe. The sword would definitely come in handy for those moments when the musket takes a little bit more effort to load up. The muskets themselves must have been heavy because the blokes use a stick to take the weight of the muzzle. Still, they did the job… D’Artagnan had quite the heroes journey. Is there a good film adaption?

    Hehe! Haven’t we all got a fond spot for crows after ‘Hollow Kingdom’? I look on the birds rather fondly these days.

    Oh my gawd that was funny! The kids went feral over peanuts. Fortunately the wokesters didn’t cotton on to the genius of Charles M. Schulz and Charlie Brown and Snoopy! The first time I heard that peanuts was a thing, there was a scene in Six Feet Under. The mother went loopy over the peanuts fed to the kid, and from memory she might have been sniffing soiled nappies, and I’m not even sure the kid had an allergy. Mind you, that show went places which few dared to tread.

    🙂 It’s a great film, and they saved the whale, but probably needed to head back and get a few more, maybe for genetic diversity. The Editor likewise enjoyed the series Aftertaste, although she said something about an unsatisfactory ending. Could have been due to the unmentionable you-know-what, or maybe budget. Dunno.

    Warmer weather, sounds nice. The wind is howling outside. It’s not usually a windy part of the world, but exceptions must be made. It’s the sort of night when trees come down. I believe a whole lot of people are under insured (or worse, unprepared) for such risks: Dandenong Ranges residents navigate insurance, building hurdles in storm recovery

    Hehe! Yeah, let’s not have a dog in that fight over Pluto. A good name for a dog too! But it is a planet. 😉

    There were some good stories in the X-Files, but I hear ya, and they did get mired down in storyline quagmire. The Star Trek Enterprise series was a bit like that. After a while, I just didn’t much care. I thought the ships Doctor of that series was great. The actor was in Six Feet Under too, he was clopped over the head by his wife, because he was boring. A memorable scene, and also a good life lesson, don’t bore people who have a short fuse. Hehe!

    I sense a story there about the sister holding onto (is control the appropriate word here) of the ‘legacy’ of the poet. Years ago I read an interview which fell flat – it was with the potty mouthed chef – and the interviewer wanted to ask him about general background questions. Chef said No, but then asked the interviewer if he had other questions, but possibly flummoxed was the correct word to describe the interviewer and it was maybe over before it had even begun. And the resulting article was about how the interview failed. Did I really need to know that? I dare not mention names as the interview is mentioned on many websites… Bad memories apparently run deep. So did the author find an ‘in’?

    Mate, I’m really trying hard to imagine a pouty H! Good luck. She really didn’t want that bath! Dogs can be funny like that, on a practical note, she may be just hot – she does have a double coat after all.

    A very generous amount with which to take upon a hunter gatherer expedition. Did you fare well?

    Looks like the equities markets took a little tumble yesterday.



  14. Hello Chris,

    Congratulations with the well-composted greenhouse! That is a real investment. “Capital” in the old sense of the word; something that delivers value over a long period of time.

    I still use polytunnels only, where the framing lasts 50+ years, but the polyethylene skin needs to be replaced every 15 years or so. I just wonder how many replacements I should put in storage now, and if they are 30+ years shelf stable? I imagine myself pulling out a roll of poly in 2045 only to see that it is a brittle mess of plastic flakes…. But maybe there will still be polyethylene skin makers around?
    So many questions, and so few answers…

    Regarding climate and fossil-fuel protesters: I know a bunch of them, who really want to reduce total energy use by 50% or so in the coming few years. I think that is quite reasonable. As a society we waste so much energy on nonsense, since the cost is so low.
    A total stop is something completely different, and I think that it is not necessary, nor easily achieved.

    The climate/fossil fuel discussion is a little bit like the discussion about whether or not to eat meat. It often degenerates into black-white posturing. All or nothing!

    A better discussion topic is: How much can we reduce fossil fuel use (or meat eating) with maintained or improved quality of life?
    How can we use the remaining resources in the best possible way? Bike roads or airports?

    As you write: “I tend to wonder at what point will people accept limits and just use less of the stuff? ”
    I hope we could have more of a public dialogue regarding this! Is that possible, if people are in denial?


  15. Yo, Chris – They just don’t make good unicorns, anymore. The horn is always breaking off. Hmmm. I wonder if the rainbows they toot, could be used as an alternative form of energy? 🙂

    Seems like every year, the library tried on some new management theory. They’d close the library for a day, and we’d suffer through whatever the nonsense was. The one’s with role playing, were especially hated. So, we’d suffer through, and then go back to whatever we were doing.

    “Grind,” “Apple polisher.” There are others, but they’re rather scatological and not fit for a family friendly blog 🙂

    I never read de Tocqueville, but did watch all 24 lectures from a Great Courses. He came to the US to study prison systems, and ended up writing about that …. and everything else. I found it interesting that he said that clergy, were not involved in politics. That they would loose credibility, with their flocks. Ah, for the good old days!

    I’m sure the clamorous hoards think unlimited alternative energy, is right around the corner. There’s that fusion thing … 🙂

    Oh, H can throw a pout. I didn’t take her down to the Club, this morning, and when I got back, she wouldn’t even come to the door to say hello. I keep a sharp eye on her, at the Club, to make sure no one feeds her anything that might hurt her.

    You know, I never much cared for the “Three Musketeers.” Didn’t “speak” to me. Best film adaptation? I don’t know. A quick glance in the rabbit hole reveals that there are FIFTY plus film and TV films.
    Pick one. Pick a dozen. You’ll find something you like.

    “Six Feet Under” was a great series. Groundbreaking, in lots of ways. I watched every episode. Might again, but it’s a pretty big time investment.

    There is to be a second season of “Aftertaste.” I finished “La Brea”, last night. Bring on season two!

    That was quit the windstorm. Imagine what it would have been like if it had hit a highly populated area.

    I read some more of the Frank O’Hara biography, last night. The author is still circling the sister. Getting tips on how to approach her, from mutual acquaintances. E-mail exchanges. With the sister running hot and cold. Her father’s initial attempt, at interviews … well, he was rather tone-deaf. There was an interview with Edward Gorey. Rather short. O’Hara and Gorey were at college, together. Went to New York, at the same time. But kind of drifted apart. O’Hara was rather social and Gorey was more shy and retiring. It really shows in his interview. He’s so … hesitant. O’Hara was also rather dismissive of his work. Which, I think, hurt Gorey.

    The hunting and gathering went pretty well. Lots of stuff that had a bit of meat in it. Fruit. Condiments but no mayo. Even some peanut butter. The honey is all gone. We’ll get a commodities box, on Friday. And the local box, a week after that. So, I guess we’re pretty well set, for the rest of the month.

    I talked to the Master Gardeners, this morning. Mostly about pest control. So, when I went to the Club, I stopped and picked up some blood meal, BT, and an organic spray for aphids, they swear by. Capt. Jack’s. We’ll see how it works. I thought the prices might be out of sight. But I bought all three for less than $25. I see one of the other gardeners put some small solar lights around her plot. Gives the deer something to see by. Lew

  16. Yo, Chris – PS: One of our most popular and iconic National Parks is completely cut-off. Yellowstone. Due to flooding and landslides, all access roads are closed. Lew

  17. Chris,

    Good job on working with Ruby. Dogs can be a challenge sometimes, even the best of them. But “The Chain”? I immediately imagined the late Herve Villechaize pointing in the air and excitedly exclaiming, “Boss, the Chain! The Chain!” Which is a parody of the only thing I remember from the old “Fantasy Island” TV series.

    Limits? Jeepers, mate, what a downer! Limits, indeed! 😉 I tells ya, understanding limits and actually knowing some of them (general limits and personal limits) actually has given me more freedom rather than restrictions. Counterintuitive, but true.

    The Princess returned safely from the funeral in northeast Montana. She’s already on the road for the regular trip to see her brother, but with a trip included to a function in the Omak area. There was one hotel in a town 30km from her relatives in Montana. I called the hotel and made a reservation for the Princess and her sister. They asked when they’d arrive, and I said between 10:30 and 11:00 p.m.., and that they were travelling from Spokane for a funeral. Silence, then a muted conversation in the background. They said that somebody would be there. The Princess arrived there just after 11:00 p.m. and got settled into the room. The staff left as soon as they saw that her key worked. Small town, so they normally closed the office at 11:00 p.m. Nice of them to stay a bit late!

    Lew mentioned the dam vs whales debacle. The one side wants to remove 6 dams from the Snake River, which enters the mighty Columbia River near Al’s home. More salmon will be able to spawn in the tributaries, so goes the theory, and that will mean more salmon in Puget Sound, thus providing more food for the Puget Sound orcas (killer whales) and other whales.

    There are a few problems, that the other side is starting to advertise and which I’ve brought up to friends in conversations. Limits to solar and wind generation when the entire region is under clouds and windless for weeks is one. The electricity from the dams provides electricity for a large swathe of the region’s farming and ranching areas. Most of us like to eat. But, there are two other huge issues: the summer water temperatures in the Snake River tributaries, similarly to the Yakima River, have been running warmer than what is survivable for salmon, and the Puget Sound whales eat salmon that are from rivers that flow directly into Puget Sound. Salmon apparently do NOT enter the ocean from the Snake/Columbia River system and then swim hundreds of miles north to enter Puget Sound. So the salmon involved with the Snake River dams have nothing to do with the Puget Sound whales in reality. Yet, “Breach the dams and save the whales!” has a lot of support. It’s a catchy refrain.

    That reminds me of the time the Princess was ignored at a petrol station while trying to pay for our petrol and some snacks. A coastal Native American tribe had gotten Federal permission to use traditional harpoons and sea-canoes to harvest a whale. Before another staff member came off break to serve her, the Princess had to endure several minutes of (I kid you not) armed military personnel chanting at her “Save the whales, harpoon an Indian!” She wisely ran out of the store, told me to drive like he##, and did NOT tell me what had happened until we were 150km away.

    It has been an eventful few days since my last reply here. On Sunday, we went to the high school graduation of the carving club’s youngest member. We’ve watched her grow up. We then joined her family and another carving family for lunch, after which we ran some errands. Avalanche stayed at home with the Princess’s sister, meaning she was alone outdoors for several hours.

    Monday I had to run errands. Since I had to use the Princess’s car, Avalanche had to remain home. She started indoors with the ladies, but howled and whined because I was gone. She finally went outside and continued the mournful howling, ceasing only after my return.

    Meanwhile, it began raining Sunday evening. Maybe 12mm expected through early Tuesday morning. 30 hours and 45mm (officially) later, the rain stopped. I DID take Avalanche for a walk in the rain and wind, but had to cut it short as she spent more time shaking water than walking. Oh, and this means in the first 14 days of June, we have received, officially, nearly twice the average monthly amount for June, which is about 32mm. I think we actually had more than 45mm in this neighborhood in the most recent storm, and are probably close to about 90mm for the month so far.

    Naturally, Avalanche is out of sorts because papa “ignored” her, even though she has been mostly indoors with the humans and getting a lot of attention. She is trying to make me pay for not taking her with me Sunday and Monday – things like not eating and ripping up cardboard boxes, then looking miserable as if she expects to be scolded. I just merrily continue on, clean up the torn cardboard bits, stay patient and calm. She’s starting to respond to that. She will get a play date with Killian the Doberman Wednesday afternoon, which should help too.


  18. Hello Chris
    Glorious weather here. Strawberries are coming to an end. Tomatoes and cucumbers are starting to flower. Potato plants are rotting as they did last year and I did not plant them in the same places.
    I looked for soap in the supermarket on Monday. One tiny shelf at ankle height. No longer called soap, they are now ‘cleansing bars’.


  19. Hi Göran, Lewis, DJ and Inge,

    Oooo, the mid week hiatus has hit with force this week. Proving that computer problems come in threes, I’ve had:
    – Wifi card on laptop die;
    – A hard drive die; and
    – Wort of all, the modem / router died this morning.

    So much computer death, clearly the hardware here is sympathising with the gargle chat bot thing. Hopefully that is it, because I had to work until 10.30pm this evening and it’s been a very long day. I can’t even think of anything amusing to say maybe the AI thing was funny, maybe…

    Speak tomorrow.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    It rained here again today. Half an inch the last I checked. The ground is very damp outside, I was actually surprised that the trees are still upright because of the combination of rain and wind. It causes a lot of damage. Hope the Yellowstone Park is OK and recovers from the heavy rain.

    Well yes, unicorn flatulence is the untapped energy source for the ages. It’ll power things that’s for sure. By comparison, it is not usually windy here, and the wind turbine I installed many years ago would have challenged the output of a mouse, well maybe a rat fart. Where are the unicorns when you need them?

    That sort of thing wears me out – it’ faddish and nobody ever does anything with the results. Old Sun Tzu did say not to wear the troops out on stupid stuff.

    Speaking of which, the interweb modem died this morning. I had a lot of work to do too. My office ended up looking like a mad wizards workshop and there were cables everywhere jerry rigging the computers so that I could do the most important work, and then I had to figure out what went wrong. Gave up about 7pm, thought about a different approach and then worked through to 10.30pm.

    Gawd! Glad not every day was like this one. 🙂 Mustn’t grumble, the trenches on the Western Front during WWI would have been much more difficult.

    Yeah, all true about the language. Like that word too.

    Alexis de Tocqueville was an interesting character as he held a belief that the more extreme ideologies of the Enlightenment could be taken too far. I’ve been wondering about that effect.

    Fusion. Mate, my money would be on the unicorn flatulence becoming economic before that boondoggle. Someone is probably making money somewhere playing with some super big machines with that research.

    H can pout. I’ll take your word for that. Sir Scruffy could sulk. Like what kind of dog sulks? They’re training us you know? I would keep an eye on her too because you never know and people can be stupid.

    Forget about those musketeers then. But Six Feet Under rocks. I’d be tempted to re-watch that series too, but yeah a lot of time.

    I mentioned the second season of Aftertaste to the Editor, and she thought it was a good idea. Apparently it just kind of finishes. Very unresolved at the end of the first season. Dare I mention Mr King’s book ‘The Cell’! It could be spreading…

    Nah, that’s not good, but haven’t we all met people who get competitive where there is really no valid reason to do so. I had a mate a long time ago who got super competitive, but everything was just a little bit worse that he did. And it didn’t help that other mates would point that lack. They knew. I just wanted it to stop. Oh well, we’ve all been there, maybe?

    Skewer that meat and fruit – does that sound appropriately swashbuckling? Honey is an interesting one, and I travel north to the actual supplier – there is apparently a bit of substitution going on with that stuff. And it’s hard to tell too.

    Is that really the name of the brand? That was a Billy Joel song! Very naughty, but from way back in the day. Saw him in concert in the late 1980’s – he was an excellent performer.

    Ook! Hopefully the deer don’t need the light. Hey, it might scare them away – always worth putting to the test. But maybe not, the wildlife here doesn’t much care about anything other than the dogs.

    Sleep is calling. I’m done in.



  21. Yo, Chris – You’re in the techno trenches, so to speak. A little cleaner, but almost as nerve wracking. No lice, mud or rats nibbling on the dead. I know it’s all important to your business, but your tech ordeals ARE appreciated, as it’s a fringe benefit (to us) that you provide and maintain this space. It’s much appreciated.

    It’s the wild west, here. I think I mentioned the couple that moved in, and how he was a bit of a problem. Just a few days after they moved in, the police were called, as he had some kind of a meltdown. I saw the police were here on Friday, and didn’t think much about it. The yesterday, I got “the rest of the story.”,295377

    Here’s the kicker. I was doing my weekly shopping, in that store, about an hour before all that happened. Oh, well. He won’t be moving back here. Problem solved.

    Sounds like you’re having a bit of nasty weather. Oh, well. Job security for the Tree Dudes. More firewood, for you. The pictures from Yellowstone are pretty dramatic. And east and south of them, the country is sweltering.

    I think people were very open to de Tocqueville. There was still a lot of warm glow, for France’s help, during our Revolution. General Lafayette had made his triumphant farewell tour, just a little more than five years previously.

    H does pout. And I think she’s feeling a bit neglected. Elinor was accessible, and gave her steady attention. Me, not as much. So I’ve been giving her more pats and cuddles. Talking to her more. Also, it’s interesting that when we sleep, at first she made no physical contact. The past couple of nights, she’s been cozying up, a bit. I sent off for two flea traps, last night. Since I switched from the harsher soap, they may become a problem. Might as well nip it, in the bud.

    Just out of curiosity, I did a search for “What is best “Three Musketeers” film.” There are lists … Lots, and lots, of lists. 🙂

    “Cell” was one of the few books I wanted to throw against the wall. I finished the O’Hara, kind of biography. I quit liked it. The writer is very perceptive. Sure, there’s a lot of her family stuff, but it was fine. It’s really a window into New York City, in the 1950s. The ferment of art, writing and poetry.

    So, it was back to “The Zombies of Lake Woebegotten” and, I’m dipping into David Sedaris’s new book, “Happy-Go-Lucky.” I’m also looking through the Mexican cookbook, from time to time. All 831 pages of it. A real doorstop. I have a few Mexican cookbooks, but they usually only have one or two recipes using tomatillos. Mostly, green salsa. This book has over 15 recipes.

    I’d say our swash is buckled. 🙂 Sets off the seven league boots.

    I’m quit fond of Billy Joel’s music. I throw on his greatest hits, from time to time. And sing along. In the privacy of my own home. 🙂

    Yup. That’s the name of the brand of organic spray. Looking at the label, they’ve got the whole “Margaritaville” / Jimmy Buffett vibe, going. There’s a lot of that, around. See: “Trader Joe’s” grocery chain.

    Our library / computer room, here at The Institution, is still closed. And, I heard yesterday that there’s another case of You Know What, in the building. Great. Just great. How depressing. Lew

  22. Hi everyone,

    Well, the best something plans of rats and men. Yeah. Purchased a new modem router today, and it does not work. To say I’m annoyed is an understatement and I’ve been trying to get the thing to work for about five hours. My brain is set to explode.

    Please be patient during this time of technological distress.

    I have no idea what I’ll do next, but I have to do something. Tomorrow, otherwise the business comes to a standstill.

    Oh well, life wasn’t meant to be easy.



  23. Yo, Chris – Well, that’s the pits. Good luck! I send positive energy, over the airwaves. (Over the fiber optic cables?)

    Prof. Mass has an interesting article on sundogs. I think my green beans, are coming up.

    My library didn’t have any copies of “Queen of the Desert”. I know they had it, at one time. Must have lost, or wore out all their copies. BUT … they had a documentary about Gertrude Bell. “Letters from Bagdad.” Narrated by Tilda Swinton. Lots of really great photos and a bit of film footage. Gee, the Western powers sure did make a hash of the Middle We reap what we sowed. Lew

  24. Hi Lewis,

    Up early this morning – no easy feat for me. Am working on the problem. Looks like the modem / router I purchased is faulty. Oh well, back to the store. Will know more later.



  25. Hi Chris,
    A load of compassion to you and some qi-energy to your router.
    Technology is wonderful, like this blog, and remote working, but it makes us dependent on remote gods. A blessing and a curse.
    I hope you can appease the techno-gods with a generous monetary offering, maybe an arm and a leg?
    Good luck!


  26. Hey everyone,

    We’re back, baby!!!!!!!!

    And badderer than ever.

    After enormous expense, we dumped the entire network system here and took a wild gamble, which took a bite out of the reserved funds, but worked after great stress. Ten times faster is a wonderful thing…

    I stood face to face with the gawds of IT and smited their rear ends. Take that, ya nasty little so and so’s – don’t mess with us.



  27. Hi Göran,

    Thanks for the well wishes. Man, I dunno, where we are is on the outskirts of most services which people take for granted in a no-man’s land, and a person is cast up their own wits. But after much hassles, we’ve prevailed. And the system here is now more complicated than before and ate a good chunk of mad cash, but far out – it’s far better.

    Mate, I did not seek to appease the techno Gawds this time! I took a mighty big sword to their nonsense and smote them roughly! Take that, and the result is very awesome. But truth to tell, I had no idea as to the outcome, and am just trialling responses to circumstances. To quote Yogi Berra, predictions are hard, especially when they’re about the future. 🙂

    The plan is to set up the other beds in the greenhouse tomorrow, but it’s been a rough week, and my brain hurts a bit. We’ll see. And yup, delivering over the longer term is the aim of the game here.

    Well that is not just your issue as I too wonder about that problem. How long will any of this stuff last? I dunno, but I do know that the most resilient systems are biological in nature. There is something in that.

    I doubt you could make products as complicated as polyethylene at home. But polycarbonate is probably equally as complicated. Ook! I remember seeing fibreglass roofing used when I was a kid and even then it looked kind of brittle, and that stuff is probably easier to make.

    I agree. A total stop on energy would plunge everyone into the role of subsistence farming (or at least 90% of the population if historical accounts are accurate). I’m not into that story, and somehow the protesters have to come to grips with what they actually want from outcomes. At the moment the noise from that direction seems unrealistic to me, for they know not what they want.

    Exactly. That’s so true, and it is the same argument. Dude, I prefer not to argue, but to get on with what needs doing. What did Yoda say? Do, or do not, there is no try. But the green dude was wrong, try is a fine response.

    And I can’t argue with you. There really is so much waste. Nobody at the policy-maker level seems to ask the hard questions about that. I have a weird hunch that we are going to enjoy: rationing by price. It is a cowards option.

    Dreams can always turn into nightmares.



  28. Hi Inge,

    Sounds delightful. 🙂 I read an alarming article about strawberries down here today: Strawberry prices soar after wet weather, disease impact winter crops. Not good, but the plan here is to grow them in the greenhouse, which is a bit more of a highly managed environment.

    Inge, as you know, potatoes and tomatoes are of the same family of plants, and some years they are best not relied upon. If I had more free time I’d set up the much larger vegetable bed in the sunnier locale, but I really don’t have the free time (this year) and am trying to balance infrastructure works against the care of the plants. It’s a complicated journey and one in which there is no perfect outcome, but more of a muddling along and hoping for the best.

    Isn’t soap a funny subject? We make our own soap here, and it is very lovely stuff. Dunno about you, but I find that commercial soaps dry out my skin and some can produce funny reactions. I’ll tell you, the past two years of hand cleaner nonsense has not sat well with me. But what do you do, other than dodge as best as can be expected?

    The last couple of nights here have been hard on me due to the amount of late night work because of the computer hassles. Fortunately, I’m on the other side of the hassles now. I’m certain the world has new and interesting hassles in store for me… 🙂



  29. Hi DJ,

    Herve was cool as. Lewis recommended a film many years ago on the bloke which was titled: My dinner with Herve. I really enjoyed the film, although the subject touched upon the darker sides of the blokes life.

    Man, survived the computer hassles to live another day. I tell ya, when things pack it in here, they go down in a ball of flames… But the flip-side of crisis is opportunity and we had the chance to do the entire computer system over again. When an uncertain outcome turns out, one must count their blessings and look after what they have achieved.

    I absolutely and utterly agree with you. Accepting limits is a form of freedom, and dare I suggest it, power. I know why adults used to tell me when I was a kid that I could do anything. Nice try folks, and they were wrong, as you yourself probably also knew. 😉 Mind you, it’s taken a hard road to get this point… I’m sure you’ll agree there?

    That was a lovely gesture and finishing work a bit after at 11pm is no small thing. A very long day. Glad to hear that your lady safely made the drive there and back. So are you two going to move to Montana any time soon?

    Far out, no I had not realised that whales were part of that salmon story. I’ve seen the strangest things when it comes to those ocean beasties. One of the better stories wasn’t Moby Dick, but rather Star Trek IV – an awesome film (all the even number films were worth watching, not so sure about the odd numbered films).

    Gazing into my crystal ball tells me that when viewed on a long enough time scale, the salmon will win that story.

    I’d have to suggest that what we’re seeing going on around us right now is an inability to consider the systems in which the various chunks reside. People love taking one particular chunk and not considering the ramifications of mucking around with that part of any system. It’s not ours to worry about really. There are other more immediate and pressing issues.

    Oh, so sorry to hear that. And running is always a wise option. The experience would have given me the shakes. When I was a very young bloke I encountered a group of older lads that looked as if they were about to beat the daylights out of me. It was a close thing. We got to talking and they thought I’d beaten up one of their mates. That left me feeling a bit shaky and they finally let me go my way. When you encounter the darker potentials of the human condition, it can be kind of disturbing, but it’s there waiting for a day in the sun. Just hope you’re not anywhere in the general vicinity of such villainy.

    Hehe! Some folks are not into dogs… You knew, and Avalanche need not be entertained 24/7. 🙂 Thanks for the laughs.

    90mm of rain for the month at this stage of your year is almost a perfect set up for the growing season (as long as hail and/or frost have not damaged the plants). I look forward to hearing about your garden endeavours and harvests!

    Go Avalanche – express your displeasure at the unexpected turn of events. 🙂 It is a fine line with dogs, and I try to ensure that Dame Plum and Ollie get plenty of attention, yet are comfortable to enjoy their own time. Not an easy balance at all, and if you discover the secret, don’t keep it all to yourself!



  30. Hi Lewis,

    About maybe 7pm this evening I was able to climb up out of the techo trenches and noticed that the enemy of computer gunk had been cleared from the field of battle. It was a costly war this one, but we stayed true and fought for freedom!

    Man, I’m seriously done tonight. Over the past three days I’ve had to balance work with fixing the computers, and there are some other things going on in the background. Anyway, life wasn’t meant to be easy, and yeah, prevailed!

    It was funny because the whole interweb system here packed it in on Wednesday morning but I was then able to reconsider how we run all this stuff. But I read interweb reviews and forums and have no idea how much is bluff and how much is big-talk. Took a gamble on the tech, and it seems to have paid off.

    One of the components I purchased yesterday didn’t work – and that is what happened last night. I rang the telco and they advised me to contact the hardware folks. The hardware folks advised me to talk to the telco people. Thanks for that guys. Returned the product today and tried something different I thought of last night. Anyway, what I’ve learned is that there is not a lot of knowledge on how all this stuff integrates, even from people who should know. The guy at the shop was the most knowledgeable, and even him, I have an odd hunch that I knew more about the nitty gritty details.

    And many thanks for the very kind and supportive words as they were appreciated.

    Ooo, not good. And it’s a bit like life imitating art as in those films we spoke of last week. Glad that nobody seems to have been seriously harmed in the incident. I guess he just wanted his nuggets before 11am? But yeah, you possibly won’t be hearing from him any time soon. One of my favourite lines from Dexter was when he dealt to the wife’s former partner. The line went something like: Let’s face it Paul, you’ve always been a problem. Very quotable, and it can be easily adapted.

    Hey, you got lucky that day. The editors father when he was working was sick the day somebody went postal at his work place. Queen Street massacre. The very same floor. Life can be very hit or miss sometimes.

    Hehe! The tree dudes were secure in their work here, before the storm! 🙂 A very large branch fell, but seems to be about it. The ground is very wet and damp outside. I’d imagine that on the flat land in the valley below the farm, it is a quagmire.

    Yes of course. That makes sense. I noticed that the new gobarmint paid over an extraordinary amount of mad cash to the French. Something about losing out on a submarine deal. Mate, I’ve been sacked before, and it usually goes: Don’t come Monday. Mad cash payouts don’t ordinarily figure into those sort of instructions I’ve been given in such circumstances. Mileage clearly may vary.

    Poor H. Dogs are resilient and she’ll adapt. In fact it may do her some good to place a higher price upon affection. Too much with dogs I believe, can be as bad as too little. Interestingly, I’ve been experimenting with the dogs with the way I provide them with instructions and I’m trying to be even more calm but authoritative with them. I’ll just say the instruction calmly and expect to be responded too, and it seems to work and the dogs seem to prefer calm leadership. Dunno. I’m learning on that front. It’s a mystery and let’s face it, calm role models are somewhat lacking in society these days.

    Good to hear that H is responding well. She can learn.

    What is a flea trap? I’ve never heard of such a thing.

    No!!!! The Three Musketeer bestie film sounds distinctly like the most awful of awful interweb rabbit holes. Best avoided and/or dodged.

    The Editor shares your opinion as to that particular Mr King’s book. Yes, a deserved fate. Do you reckon the author got bored of recounting the story? Or maybe he was experimenting with that unexpected ending? The Editor has just completed Mr King’s Insomnia book. A good read, but heavy on the description and a tad slow on things happening. At least it had an ending!

    It would have been cheap living in that part of the world in the 1950’s. Mate, compared to today, when I was a young bloke about town, things were much cheaper back then – except ironically, there was also less stuff. I’d much prefer less stuff and cheaper living if only because people socialised more in those days. Did you get a sense that that era and that location had an active social scene?

    It is not lost upon me that David Sedaris often used to travel down under during the Oz Open tennis and he’d do a show. The Editor was very fond of going to his shows and they were always good. She read a book that may have been diary entries, which was quite a fascinating insight into the bloke. Recommended.

    Mate, I used the Seven League Boots to get the replacement computer bits today and yesterday. Haven’t driven that much in a while. Not a fan.

    Love that CD of Billy Joel’s, but I was a fan before that album was released. The guy was considered a punk back in the day. And to produce so many hits over a couple of decades says a lot as to talent.

    Heard any more about you-know-what?



  31. Hello Chris,

    Great to hear that you are back on the interweb. You won this round! I worried last night that your blog and online existence would disappear into a black hole of incompatible drivers.

    “Ration” is actually part of the word “rational”. Not many people seem to notice. Rationing-by-price is indeed the coward’s choice. Or the choice of the owner-class.

    I am disgusted by the increase of fixed costs for ordinary life. Every year there are additional fees and gadgets that are needed. In Sweden, where I am now moving, it is mandatory to have a smartphone for the identification system to pay taxes and arrange anything online with municipality etc. Even the public transport has moved out of chip cards into app space, and we need to have online access throughout the journey. A move to push everyone into paying expensive 3G subscriptions. The income of the poor stays the same, but the fixed costs go up year on year. Partly inflation, partly policy-driven political and industrial changes. It strengthens the squeeze on the ones who have the least slack… (and the middle class doesn’t notice and maybe doesn’t care?)
    Sorry for the rant…

    Are you sure I cannot cook up a batch of UV-coated high-stretch storm-proof polyethylene sheets out of potatoes in my kitchen? 😉

    Have a great week-end!

  32. Yo, Chris – Chris the Computer Conqueror. 🙂 I’m happy, for you, that you got it all sorted. No easy feat. But softly, softly. Hubris, hubris. Well, that’s been my experience with tech. Nobody knows anything and those that do are inaccessible. And the whole poop show is a constantly moving target.

    Actually, the shooter was buying beer. After practicing my ducking, weaving, bobbing, I headed down to the store to do my weekly shopping. Interesting. I didn’t see a single staff member that I recognized. All out with PTSD?

    Your father-in-law was very lucky. But it must have been horrible to go back, and have to deal with all the missing faces. Life’s a crap shoot. No pun intended. There’s been some interesting studies done on precognition and disasters. There’s always cancellations, when it comes to planes and ships. Are they significantly higher when the transportation is doomed? They found there is a slight statistical difference. Not over the top, but it’s there. So pay attention to those gut feelings!

    Yes, our relations with the French have run hot and cold. Not as bad as England and France, but it’s still there. I suppose when it came to submarines, there were all kinds of legal contracts. Not so much, when your hired into a job.

    Check the River. Select “Pet Supplies” and search “flea traps.” It’s the same concept as the “bowl of water, with a flashlight pointing into it.” Which works a charm. But, I decided I didn’t want to burn through flashlight (torch?) batteries. I picked the one with the highest ratings. For future reference, after the end of Western Civilization, a candle in a pan of water, also works. But I wouldn’t want to go to bed with a candle burning. Besides, when it guttered out, it would probably set off the smoke alarms.

    Everything was cheaper in the 1950s. New York City was still pretty affordable, until the 1980s. And, yes, there was a vibrant social scene. Lots of cross pollinating between art, writing and poetry. Theatre and music. The Cedar Tavern was probably the most notorious.

    I thought Sedaris was rather uneven, early on. But he’s hitting on all cylinders, now. For the most part. He really hones in on life’s absurdities.

    Elinor’s daughter stopped by, yesterday. They moved her to rehab. After that, it’s either back home, or, assisted living. The last time she went to rehab, she rallied, and came back home. Her daughter said she’s a lot weaker, this time around. Going in. The daughter is about as old as me. She’s been told she needs her entire knee replaced. Which means she’ll be out of commission, from six months to a year.

    Haven’t heard any more about You Know What. Just that we have a case, and everything is locked up. We get a commodity box, this afternoon. Elinor will get one, and her daughter told me to just take it all down to the Club. It’s the one that might have some produce. Lew

  33. Chris,

    Congrats on conquering the computer crisis. And adapting the system to what is available now to meet the changing needs. I bet you’re really relieved that it got fixed without totally screwing over your paid jobs.

    Agreed, there is no easy road to learning that there are limits, then accepting them, and eventually enjoying having them. But it entails knowing oneself, which requires contemplative time. Who wants to do that when there are more computer games to play or social media sites to visit?

    Move to Montana? Nice place to visit, a lot of different climates and microclimates, but I have no desire to live there. It can snow any day of the year in much of Montana. No thanks.

    However, Montana has more seasons during the year than does Spokane. I’ve long said that Spokane has 2 seasons: March and August. March can see snow, rain, temperatures below 0F and temperatures has high as 70F. August can be as hot as, or rainy with maximum temperatures about 65F. So March and August can capture the weather extremes and have some overlap. Montana, meanwhile, has 3 seasons: snow, mud and dust. 😉

    Star Trek IV was my favorite, with Star Trek II (Wrath of Khan) next. I enjoyed the humor in IV, plus the story was enjoyable.

    My Wayback Machine says that salmon weren’t always here. Hard for them to swim upstream during the last ice age, right? They had to come to this area after the ice age. Something tells me that they will return again when conditions allow.

    No, people don’t think in terms of larger systems. Or small systems, usually. As you said, though, there are more immediate and pressing issues.

    This year’s garden ventures…the raspberries are spreading nicely and look to have a large crop this year. The chokecherry tree, even the lower parts that I can reach, looks to have a large supply also. I planted a lot of carrots in the containers recently. And a lot of potatoes. There’s one volunteer of unknown parentage, and 3 russets that were sprouting eyes. I planted a lot of Viking Red potatoes that I got from a local store. Next step is to purchase some garden lime and adding it to the garden areas.

    When I arrived to retrieve Avalanche from her play date with Killian, she was happy to see me. Killian, all 53 kg of him, was even happier to see me and nearly trampled me in his ecstasy. According to his owner, a female friend of ours, Killian only likes two or three men. I’m glad to be on that list.

    Giving Avalanche a proper balance of attention and alone time is something I’ve not gotten close to mastering. For some reason, Rakhi the Samoyed and Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz were easy in that regard. That balance just came naturally with them without even having to think about it. Avalanche likes to be alone at times, but is such a pack animal to the extreme that she can turn needy and need endless attention at the drop of a hat. If I figure it out, I’ll let you know.

    Time to quit for now. Saturday is an early start to set up the normal carving club meeting. And it’s my turn to teach a beginner’s class. I’m calling the class “Blockheads”, as the idea is to carve a head from a smallish block of wood. I’ve got several of those around the house that the Princess likes.


  34. Hi Göran,

    🙂 It wasn’t just you who were worried. The replacement router was faulty and much time on Thursday night was wasted trying to get the thing to work. It is a truth universally acknowledged that faulty computer equipment remains faulty. The following day, the replacement equipment for the replacement equipment worked first time around. That was when I discovered that the mobile phone service in the area had been upgraded and do I need speeds in excess of 120Mbps? I was fine with 20Mbps – that was fast enough. The real problem is that I might get used to such speeds.

    Oh! Thanks for that as I would not have noticed that about the word, but you’re right, the word is a derivative. Hmm. Accepting limits is a form of freedom that few people really understand. The problem with the coward’s choice is that in the short term it avoids arguments, but more importantly ignores the core source of the troubles. Societies and cultures all face this point sooner or later, and there are plenty of different options to pick and choose from but most impose costs and limits. It’s a journey rather than a destination!

    I’m not entirely sure what you understand to be expensive. Two smart phones (paid for) and the 4G modem cost me $200 a month. Mate, there’s a school of thought (call it Chris’s hunch box!) which suggests that demanding everyone in the population have a smart phone is merely a way to shift costs from companies and other entities onto the public. After all, software is probably cheaper than physical tickets and/or smart cards. However, when you consider the problems the vehicle industry is having supplying market demand, it doesn’t take too much imagination to extend those supply problems to consumer devices such as smart phones. The solution for the problem is built into the very problem itself.

    A fine rant! 🙂

    Yeah, as they say down here: good-on-ya! You do the experiment first!

    Had a much quieter day today, and many thanks for the kind thoughts.



  35. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, thanks for understanding that aspect of the awfulness with the computer issues. I put the Plan B connection (which failed) then the reserve Plan C connection to the ultimate test. It really looked like a mad scientists workshop here with cables going everywhere and me telling the Editor: You’re blocking the signal! Move! Far out. And due to the Editor’s tragic family circumstances this week, I have had to do the bulk of the paid work this week. Mate, my brain was fried last night when the little LED lights finally winked on with the devices, the signal was bonkers good, and all the devices connected up just fine. Too much, do less (that’s the theory anyway) is the mantra for the next few days.

    We were talking about that very subject today. Knowing oneself involves contemplating the stories which we all hold dear and guide our day to day activities. And who wants to do that? 🙂 The problem if you don’t contemplate, is that you live someone else’s idea as to what life is all about – and that is the risk. Years ago I watched an advertisement which narrated life’s major milestones, and the advertisement gave me the chills. Just because they say so, doesn’t mean the tried and true path is the best course of action. And such stories might not be able to adapt rapidly to changing circumstances, and here we all are today. Far out, we’re getting deep here.

    Lewis mentioned something about that state having a lot of large critters which were more than happy to dine upon your carcass. A challenging climate and challenging critters does make for challenging times. Hope the good folks in that state know what they’re doing!

    Yeah, they did insert some humour into Star Trek IV. Like Kirk selling his reading glasses to a pawnbroker. I wish the latest batch of films remembered to just tell an engaging story. I’ve gotten a bit tired of the ‘Earth is in peril’ and only the crew of the Enterprise can save us all storyline. What about them needing saving?

    So many distractions, so little time.

    That was my gut feeling too. The salmon spend some of their lives in the salt water oceans. The species are introduced down here as is trout, but they follow the same cycle. Sounds adaptable to me, and they can move further north up your coastline, and nobody really knows the upper limits of their life cycle. Each year I observe unusual behaviour in the fruit trees and wonder about what tricks they have up their err (I was going to say sleeves, but) bark?

    Nice work with the raspberries and potatoes, although I have no idea what a chokecherry tree is. I’ll be very interested to hear how the experiment with the agricultural lime (Calcium Carbonate) goes. I reckon you’ll be impressed, although the sugar ants may have other thoughts in the matter.

    Some dogs are like that, but then I do wonder if plenty of people don’t really talk dog language and the dogs find the people threatening. After all, humans are generally larger than dogs so we don’t meet as equals, and often dogs hold opinions upon the people they do meet.

    Ah, two dogs versus the single dog. You’re Avalanche’s pack and dogs are social creatures. Good luck! 🙂

    Blockheads!!! Very amusing. Hope it went well.



  36. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the pee-cycling article. Had to laugh, ‘Lucy’ expressed an opinion I’ve said many times before: It’s a waste to go, elsewhere! 😉 I tell ya, the ick factor will disappear pretty quickly if people are hungry enough. Chemical and mineral fertilisers are in far shorter supply now. And the cultural factors were interesting too, who knew? I would have thought that such knowledge was wide spread? One of the side articles suggested the stockpiles of fertilisers had increased due to high prices, and that may be so. What it doesn’t say is that yields will be lower as farmers use less of the stuff in order to keep costs down (not to mention other costs are rising). This is a really big story which will directly impact upon people’s health as the mineral content of food – and the quantity – gets reduced, and how long we can go on flushing soil minerals out to sea is a question I wonder about. Probably like the recycling book ‘Rummage’ in that we’ll be wasteful, until we can’t afford to do that any more.

    Yes, of course I was fully aware of the hubris side of the technology story. One sometimes wanders in perilous seas! Mate, from what I’ve experienced over the past dozen years, this technology stuff lasts two years or maybe three or four at a maximum. That’s crazy, but I dunno I just have to deal with things as they are. In this particular case our species doesn’t have to tease the Gods, because we’re stuffing it up all on our own.

    It was a bit of a worry to be discussing the tech problems with the support team at the hardware supplier and telco, and also the sales folks, and realise that they don’t really know. I’m sure someone knows, and forums are useful in this regard, but when we’ve gotten to the point of just replacing the device with another device it seems a mite bit wasteful to me.

    Not suggesting that beer in your country was the cause of the problem, but I’ve heard stories and candidly, they’re not good. Although your part of the country has a good microbrewery culture. Dunno why that would be. We take beer seriously down here, and avoid such emotional outbursts. Sorry, it’s not really funny. They could be suffering from PTSD, that’s true. I was caught in an armed hold up once over two decades ago, but the robbers seemed idiotic and didn’t have those sorts of weapons. I was carrying quite a bit of mad cash that day too. They got caught as they drove a stolen car to their own car, and a local then took note of the number plate. The Editor managed to slip out the door whilst the robbers were at the counter, and raised the alarm. It was a very strange day that one, but the free cappuccino supplied by an adjacent cafe soothed my frayed nerves. Hey, it’s amazing that the store has access to enough staff that they could replace an entire shift. Not easy to do these days. Might be easier to close for the day.

    Nice work too with the ducking, weaving, and bobbing! 🙂

    I dunno about that, I would have felt distress at those sorts of events involving people you know well, but I don’t reckon he was wired that way. He was a strange one, that’s for sure. The Editor and I were discussing this very subject this morning. The pun was good and all the better for being true, life is a crap-shoot and we never know where things are headed.

    You sent me on a rabbit hole down into who of note, failed to board the ill fated Titanic: Seven Famous People Who Missed the Titanic. Some of the quotes from the people were very good, but I particularly liked the quote from the two blokes who took the more humble passage: ‘The Good Lord must have more work for us to do.’

    I tend to listen to my gut feeling, and it said to me rather loudly and forcibly not to work today – so I didn’t. This was a good thing in retrospect. Probably going to write tonight.

    Yeah, well we have the same thing with the French. They weren’t all that hot when they bombed the Rainbow Alliance ship over in NZ. Probably wasn’t a smart idea on their part, but it happened all the same. And there were those other bombs over in Mururoa Atoll. I’m seeing a pattern, but I believe from a strategic perspective their subs were no good for our purposes. Mate $800m+ bucks in mad cash can soothe many a tension, and I’d like to put the theory to the test? But am probably not going to get the opportunity unless we have hyper inflation.

    No way! I’ve never seen such a thing before. Some canny folks use floating tea candles in a saucer of water to trap the hapless fleas. Talk about useful information. A bit of additional much needed hygiene, plus some of those traps and the Black Plague might not have had the solid run it achieved, but it did come on the back of some years of bad harvests. And that was a big factor – the weakened population. Wars often follow famine too. What is it with those horsemen?

    Things were cheaper down here when I was a young adult too.

    And the Editor tells me the same story. He’s a very entertaining bloke, and his sister Amy is also in show business.

    Holy carp! Replacement knees are no small matter and will certainly mean that the daughter won’t be able to assist Elinor as she herself will need assistance, sorry to say. Hope Elinor rallies.

    Surely your rumour mill knows? Good luck. And that was a very thoughtful thing with Elinor’s food box. Produce is always gratefully received.



  37. Hello Chris
    Happy to hear that you sorted out the problem, I would hate it if your blog vanished.
    All my strawberries, this year, were in a greenhouse. Usually I have outside ones as well but all had died apart from one plant. I have no idea as to why.
    My skin tends to be dry as well and old age has made this worse. I use the most basic of unscented soap er I mean cleansing bar and then use a babies moisturiser.
    The Island music festival is on so it is boom, boom, boom in the distance. Yesterday the Red Arrows flew low over me while I was standing outside. That was rather nice.


  38. Yo, Chris – Yes, the flea trap is a pretty nifty deal. The floating tea candle, is genius. Safer than a regular candle. But, alas, I could use neither. When they guttered out, they’d probably set off our fire alarms. In the middle of the night.

    As an extra added attraction, peecycling also helps keep the deer away. We haven’t had deer in the vegetable gardens, since I started doing that, a couple of years ago. But it might just be coincidence.

    Yes, I wonder about the mineral content of food. It’s pretty much been proven, that the nutrition isn’t what it used to be. I’ve got a couple of bags of mixed frozen peas, and carrots. They came in our food boxes, and there wasn’t much interest. So, I threw them in my freezer. When I’m feeling particularly tired, or lazy, I just throw them in with rice, and a bit of garlic. I really don’t think they have much nutritional value. They’re pretty bland. At least there’s probably plenty of fiber, in them. Maybe.

    I’ve never been caught up in a holdup. Not exactly something that’s on my bucket list 🙂 . You live such exciting lives, in Australia.

    That was an interesting article, on the Titanic. Hersey, the chocolate guy. I think it’s Pam, who has mentioned the Hersey factory, several times. I wonder how different her life would be, had he “caught the boat.” One day, I was driving around the back roads of our county. And stumbled across a historic marker, to one of the victims.,140756

    Well, that was a surprise. You just don’t know who is going to turn up, where.

    I figure if Elinor doesn’t make it home, I’ll get caught up, somehow, in emptying out the apartment. I figure first the relatives (the one’s we never see) will pick through things. Than, I suppose, they should throw it open to the little old lady vultures, who live here at The Institution. They’ll strip the place to the walls. 🙂

    Well, our commodity boxes were a bit blah, yesterday. The produce was some potatoes and onions. That’s it. Not much protein, either. One large can of tuna and a can of “beef in juices.” Some peanut butter. There was lots of tinned diced tomatoes and black beans, which we haven’t seen, in awhile. Cereal and shelf stable milk. Two gallons of some dodgy fruit drink. Lots of tinned green beans. White rice. Next weeks box will probably have a bit more variety. And maybe a few surprises.

    Joy! Joy! The library and community room, were open again, yesterday. Didn’t last long. It was locked up again, tight, in the evening. With all the swap food, inside. Luckily, the memo to our night manager was so vague, he reopened the community room, for the day. And he was nice enough to let me sneak into the library, last night, to check out the “new” city library list.

    In further Institution news, when I took H out for her walk last night, all was well. When we went out, this morning, I noticed some egg shells, on the sidewalk. I thought, at first, that it was birds cleaning up their nests. Happens, this time of year. Then I noticed the eggs were rather large … and stretched all the way from the back door, down the walk, past the garden room. Someone had egged the back of our building 🙂 . That’s a first.

    I watched “Mobius”, last night. It got bad reviews, but was worth a bowl of popcorn. Another Marvel movie. Lew

  39. Hi Inge,

    Thank you, your words are really lovely and appreciated. It’s been a very complicated and difficult week, but for now I have vanquished the evil tech zombies and will survive for another battle.

    Yikes. Your season is kind of matching my experience last summer. We had very little strawberries and there was not enough sun to provide them with the energy to produce the chemicals which fool us humans into thinking that those berries are sweeter than they actually are. Blackberries contain far more sugars, whilst strawberries are a complex mix of compounds to fool us into thinking that they contain an equivalent chunk of sugar – they don’t.

    I’m modifying the growing environment so as to accommodate more water in the soil than most of the plants expect. It’s not easy, so your experience does not surprise me.

    Cleansing bar indeed! Seriously, I have no idea what is in those bars. Soap making is a very simple process, although I use Olive Oil for the fat as the trees grow really well in this locale. A competent chemist could substitute lye (wood ash and water) for the caustic soda. It’s a simple process and the result is better than anything you can purchase, and I studiously avoid adding fragrances, but a touch of lavender oil might not hurt.

    Hehe! I too live in a flight path and suffer the indignities of overseas and interstate travellers, but I’d kind of enjoy watching the Red Arrows fly overhead. The RAAF has a similar squadron known as the Roulette’s and they’re good.

    I’d probably enjoy the Festival and it’s good to hear that the kids are out dancing around. Hopefully they’re not getting too muddy? 🙂



  40. Hi Lewis,

    The floating tea candle is a great low tech idea. And the little aluminium cup could be refilled – if I knew anything about candle making, which I don’t. That’s the thing with smoke alarms in that they’re good when needed, and at other times they’re a pain in the rear. We have two of them which are hard wired into the mains power, and I set them as far from the kitchen as was feasibly possible. The regulations were such that they had to be sort of close. And the batteries are a nuisance because the voltage in ordinary batteries was too low and the stupid machine kept beeping, despite the rechargeable batteries being OK. So I hunted around and discovered that there are higher voltage (they have an extra battery cell) rechargeable batteries which defeat the waste. Not cheap though.

    Yes! I agree with that, pee cycling does ward off the evil deer who want nothing more than to eat all of the fruit trees, and for the stag to scrape the bark off the apple trees. Not a fan. No, I don’t think it is a coincidence. The deer know intuitively that there are easier options, for they fear your pee.

    I’d been reading about the subject of mineral density in plant derived foods last year, and was rather alarmed, and then took immediate action. And the results have been very good. This is a major problem that few people are even remotely aware about. There is a little part of me which knows that as a society, we can’t resolve this issue, and so it is best to act now, because nobody knows. They’ll find out in due course.

    I dunno about the frozen pea issue in cooking. I honestly cannot tell the difference between freshly picked and cooked peas and frozen peas. Mind you, fresh off the vine they are sweeter tasting, but there is not much in it.

    Mate, I didn’t head out that day with the intention of going to the local post office / newsagent / lotto shop and getting caught up in a hold up either. It was all about art that day, and the freakin’ painter was late to the appointment – that was why we were there. I bought a painting titled ‘The Blue Lady’, which was on display during a local arts festival, and in order to obtain the painting I had to pay over the mad cash to the artist – did I mention that she was late? So there I was waiting with a wallet full of mad cash to pick up the painting and the two imbeciles decided to rob the business. The Editor snuck out the door and left me inside. I was left standing near to a very shocked looking lady and I sidled closer to her to give her some comfort in the circumstances. And those two idiots didn’t shake me down for the mad cash. I would have done it differently… Anyway, free coffees, crazy stories and the artist finally decided to show up and we could hand over the mad cash and obtain the painting. The lesson learned: Artists, can’t trust them! Hehe! A truly odd day. I think about that day every time I see the painting.

    I’d forgotten that detail about Pam, but yeah, all very true. The hop king’s story was astounding, but also tragic. I was interested to hear of the final demise of the plantation to a (I forget the details) powdery mildew. I’d previously thought of hops as a weed like triffid-esque plant. Hmm, that was news to me.

    Man, it’s 10pm and I’ve just had dinner and haven’t written much. That is what a chaotic week looks like, although candidly I wrote half of the story yesterday and got to the key-change bit, and it was kinda late and sleepy and stuff. This is my excuse and I’m sticking to it. The dogs are hassling me to go outside so they can go to the toilet. You see what I have to deal with here? 🙂

    Your guess as to the future of Elinor’s stuff is sadly probably true. Mate, there’s nothing more disquieting than going through an estate.

    Far out, I would have expected some green stuff in those commodity boxes? Still, late spring is the traditional hungry period. Did you have any idea what exactly was meant by beef in juices? It reminds me of the time I was in Laos and saw meat with rice on the menu and decided not to go there given what I’d seen in the markets.

    Good stuff with the library. That’s what I call a smash and grab, and it is always good to have friends in low places. They’re the ones who get stuff done.

    Wow! I would have thought that eggs would be too expensive for such mischief. You rarely see anything being egged down here, other than the occasional politician.

    Critics can be wrong.

    Better get writing!



  41. Yo, Chris – I like my popcorn slightly charred. So I turn on the stove hood fan, pop the popcorn, and throw the bag under the fan. So far, it’s worked. When people move in here, we try and tell them that if they burn the toast (or popcorn), to turn on their stove fan and open a window. Do not open the apartment door! That sets off the fire alarms to the entire building. It’s happened a few times.

    The deer do clean up the apple falls, under our tree. Although last year, I picked some up and buried them in my garden. For compost. The apples had bugs. I was looking at the apple and pear tree, yesterday. Hardly any fruit, this year, on either. Last year, the pear was so loaded that it broke a few branches. Now I know some trees are “on” one year, and then take a year off. But I think it has more to do with our weather. When the trees were in flower, it was to cold and wet for the bees to be out. Except for one day. And, there was one day that it stormed, and most of the blossoms were stripped off.

    Are you sure you didn’t plan to get caught up in that robbery? You could dine out on that story, for years. 🙂

    I knew our hop industry had moved east of the mountains. Years ago. But I wonder about that mildew story. I had a really old hop vine, the last place I lived. The thing was feral. And the trunk was thicker than my arm.

    I think it’s kind of fun to go through an estate. My mouth makes all the sympathetic noises, and my brain is going “Look at all the cool stuff!” And I’m a natural born snoop.

    We’ve had the “beef in juices” before. I kept a can. I thought it might make a nice Yorkshire pudding. But I’ve never had the nerve to see what was inside the can. 🙂 . But I hear good reports about it. Decades ago, tinned beef from Argentina, was pretty good.

    Well, it’s Father’s Day, here. Sedaris had horrible stories about his father. So did the author of the bio on Frank O’Hara. I’ll fertilize the blueberries, this afternoon. Just to remember when to do it, they say on our Mother’s Day, and then again on Father’s Day.

    I’m reading a new biography of the chef / media personality James Beard. “The Man Who Ate Too Much.” The author had better pick up the pace. He just spent 23 pages getting Beard and his mother, from Portland to the beach. Lew

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