Coffee and Musing

“Aren’t you cold?” they sometimes say. Others walk past talking loudly to their friends and family about how cold it is. Those people are worse, because concern is easier than derision. “No” is the best answer, and has the benefit of simplicity. The matter is settled. A sheepskin jacket, woollen jumper and hat, and cold gets dealt to.

Winter mornings are cold here, and wind adds to the chill. At least it wasn’t raining. Inside the warm local General Store, all the tables were taken. Who are all these people? It never used to be this busy. Perhaps it was unwise to check the post box, before nabbing a table. Grabbing a bottle of milk from the refrigerator, it was a quick walk to the counter where an order for a coffee was placed. Life being too short for take away coffee, but with no free tables inside, the philosophy of stoicism sent me outside to a table under the veranda. There I sat alone and surveyed the comings and goings.

There’s always someone in a hurry. They’ll park in the disabled parking right out front. It is kind of handy. The cars are kept idling for five minutes whilst an occupant heads indoors to obtain a couple of take away coffees. At least the inside of the car is toasty warm. The occasional whiff of exhaust fumes doesn’t work all that well with the excellent coffee, but again, stoicism.

At such times, thoughts come and go, like the winter winds. Why isn’t the coffee mug bigger? And how much fuel did the five-minute-idling car use? Probably more than most would imagine, but at least the occupants were warm. Comfort is a funny thing. It’s nice to be comfortable, shame about the exhaust.

The cold wind continued to gust along the road. The coffee continued to disappear. Thoughts continued. There’s been a lot of talk in the news about mould over the past two years. That’s what you get in a wet year. The cheeky scamps in the media have recently linked the subject of mould to cold weather and housing quality. What an innovation in journalism. Somehow they had previously ignored the low quality of housing. The articles contain the inevitable tales of woe: The house was only 18’C / 64’F, woe is us, and oh, don’t forget the mould, plus the heating bills are horrendous! Somehow the tale of woe negates other recent concerns in the media about climate change, energy depletion and pollution. It’s a confused perspective.

It is nice to be able to enjoy a coffee whilst going through the mail, even if it is cold and windy. An unusual item arrived in the mail.

BlueScope Steel made down under

In January, an order was placed for a spare baffle plate for the wood heater. Eight months later, the half inch thick steel baffle plate arrived in the mail. What interested me was that the steel plate was stamped with the insignia of an Australian steel mill. As the coffee continued to disappear from the mug, it was hard to wonder whether the wood heater manufacturer had been forced to use the more expensive locally made steel? After all, the reason they gave me on the phone for being unable to supply a basic spare part, was that their steel supply had been halved.

Sipping coffee provides an excellent opportunity to secretly observe the people around you. Other folks are equally alert. Sometimes they’re even failing to conceal their quizzical expressions. What may they be thinking? Hopefully, it’s not: “What are you doing here?” After all, a working age bloke loafing around enjoying a coffee during work hours, sometimes outside in the cold winter weather, does raise questions. The explanation is simple. The past three weeks have included no days off work, and it’s getting on to three years now since I’ve managed to have an entire week long break. Having a regular coffee is part of my mental health care plan. Simple.

What and how are they all here at their leisure though? That’s what I wonder. The other week some news item mentioned that 40,000 people had dropped out of the workforce. Down here, with a relatively small population, that sure is a lot of people. Maybe all those folks have decided to take advantage of the scarce local amenities in this mountain range? Dunno, but it makes a curious person wonder. And if they’re not working, how do they afford to loaf around? So many unanswered questions.

The wind was still there, the coffee was almost gone. My mother was a baby boomer, and from memory she retired at the age of 55. Died at 71. Fortunately being at the post office, an envelope was ready to hand. A bit of quick maths on the back of an envelope. Yeah, will have to keep working until 70. Oh well, the times have changed.

The coffee was done, and I took my leave.

The week has been one of contrasts. Some days were wet, others, the sun shone. It is possible that one day, both events occurred. Friday was warm and sunny. There were things that needed doing. Earlier in the week, a sheet of thin polycarbonate had turned up in the mail. There are a few lamp posts installed around the garden, and one of them had two smashed glass panes. The broken glass was removed, and the polycarbonate sheet was cut to size as replacement panes.

Duct tape was used to protect the globe from the weather

Nights can be very dark here. On a clear night you can see the Milky Way. It’s nice. The garden lights however help you avoid falling down the hill, or into a garden bed when it’s pitch black. They work. The design of the lamp posts is a bit stupid given that they’re intended to be installed outdoors. Rain water collects below the light globe. We discovered this unusual design feature when one of the globes shorted out recently. We added a few drainage holes, and that seems to have fixed the problem.

Another seven fruit trees were moved to a sunnier location on the property. Where they were growing, there was too much shade from the surrounding tall forest. Hopefully, the fruit trees appreciate their new sunnier location.

Seven more fruit trees were relocated to a sunnier position. Ruby feels the heat

The continual wet weather has been great for relocating trees. The rain provides more water for the trees than I can ever provide, so that they can easily settle in to their new spots. Wet years are the years to move or plant fruit trees.

The coffee grounds continue to be collected. Over the past couple of years I’ve begun adding a bag of Agricultural Lime (Calcium Carbonate) to the coffee grounds, and the results speak for themselves. The fruit trees have begun to grow far more rapidly than previously. It’s a heady mixture, and I’m supplied with a large wheelbarrow worth of the stuff each week.

A blend of Coffee grounds and Agricultural Lime are an excellent soil improver combination

Spring is fast approaching. The other night I spotted one of the first Southern Brown Tree Frogs of the season. Of course, it was raining that evening.

A little Southern Brown Tree Frog frolics in the rain, but is most likely hunting for dinner

The earliest of the fruit trees has begun to produce some blossoms. Almonds are the earliest flowering trees here. Fortunately on warm-ish late winter days, the bees are flying around, and so fingers crossed, the almonds get pollinated and don’t succumb to frost. Varroa mite seems to have gotten something of a foothold in the state to the north of this one. With that in mind, over the past few weeks I’ve been observing what sort of insects are out and about during late winter, and there are a few.

An early variety of Almond has produced some blossoms

Onto the flowers:

The very first Jonquil flower
The Roses are slowly coming to life
Daffodils are always cheery. And these are the first of the season

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 668.4mm (26.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 633.2mm (24.9 inches)

54 thoughts on “Coffee and Musing”

  1. To echo Paul Hogan from his big movie
    You call that cold? This Canadian can show you cold. In 6 months, this is a warm day in Toronto, and we have the heat island effect of being such a big city. Just an hour’s drive north and there we start to find Cold. I’ve tobogganed in -40 (C/F doesn’t matter at that temperature)
    You could also turn it back on them, if you can effect a bit of a Canadian accent;
    “oh, you’re finding this spot of weather cold, eh? Sorry, I don’t have any spare tuques, but that would help if you had one, Eh.”
    humming the Monty Python Lumberjack tune as you drift off might be over the top. Maybe.
    Have been reading your musings for years before Ollie, and just third time to comment. We’ve seen newcomers from the tropics wearing parkas about the time we are thinking of switching to long sleeves from t-shirts, so we get some being used to a narrow range of weather, Sorry, Eh?

  2. Yo, Chris – It must be a week, for stoicism. One of the things I picked up from the library was “Verissimus: The Stoic Philosophy of Marcus Aurelius.” (Robertson, Illustrated by Fraga, 2022). It’s a “graphic novel”. Also known as a comic book in hard cover. Goes down easy.

    64F. The horror, the horror. That was about the average temperature, of the last place I lived. I guess they’ve not thought of jumpers, wearing a stocking cap to bed, and warming up those sheets with a heated cookie sheet. Mold? Never saw it. Not even my books turned green and furry.

    People watching. Great fun. LOL, but as far as what people think of you, you might remember that old saw, “What other people think of me is none of my business.” 🙂 . But if you’re really curious about what the mob is all about, I had an idea. Get a clip board. That will take care of the problem of you looking at loose ends. Say you’re from … some made-up, vaguely government sounding agency. And that you’re doing a survey. First question: “Are you local?” Those in the know will run screaming to their cars, freeing up all those handicapped parking spots.

    I hope Ruby helped you dig the holes for those trees.

    Cool tree frog. Which inspires todays ear worm. Straight from “The Boss.”

    See if U-Tub has worked out it’s problems.

    Jonquils and daffodils. Lovely harbingers of spring. Persephone has been released from Hades. I bet she unpacks her jumpers, before heading up top. The flowers are lovely, and the rose is a stunner. Lew

  3. Hi Inge,

    You are very lucky not to share your tomato harvest other than with the fungi. I’ve watched the Currawongs, which are related to the magpies, but much bigger, and if anything more intelligent, consuming tomatoes. There are a few edible indigenous Solanum family of plants, so the birds needed little encouraging to test tomatoes. Oh well. Also, for your interest, the Portuguese millipedes are something of a nuisance having been in the country for about maybe 70 years. They tend to attack tomatoes which have split due to too much water. There is little you can do about huge rain storms, but soil drainage and porosity can be helped – a bit, with a lot of work.

    I don’t really know, but the tomatoes will be grown in a row which drains downhill, and that may assist the situation with rainfall, but it takes many years to improve drainage. We’ll start, and see what happens! 🙂

    Oh my, what a whopper of a tomato! 🙂 Well done you, and your son. I’ll be interested to hear if the tomato has a history. You know that once upon a time there was a variety of tomato grown specifically for throwing? The local gardening club supplies seeds for the thing, although it would probably end up in assault charges, and who wants that? Yours may be a sauce tomato?



  4. Hi Margaret,

    Your Coonhound looks like a formidable dog. And if I’m not mistaken it has bloodhound origins so may be able to trace a quarry? Which incidentally, may or may not be a good thing depending upon fencing. Ollie is just a little big bigger than the largest of that breed. Ubu is a great name, was it a nod to French plays?

    Thanks for the update on birds in your part of the world. As I was reading your comment, it wasn’t lost on me that the boxes would work better away from a defined trail due lack of interference. Sorry, but I get a bit weird about bush whacking through tall grass due to the snake risk, here they are the second deadliest on the planet and probably have the bad attitude to match, although they probably don’t need that being super deadly and all.

    Yeah, it is nice attuning yourself to the seasons and enjoying the progression of plants and flowers, birds and animals. Wild flowers are interesting aren’t they, and the timing of them always tells a story. It’s really good work that you’re doing.

    So great to hear that you are now enjoying some rain at this warm time of the year. I’ll bet the garden is growing like a jungle now with the rain.

    Almost half an inch of rain fell here this afternoon, but it was weird because the during the day, the sun shone, then rain fell, then the sun shone and so on. There’s a chance of snow early tomorrow morning, but we’ll see.



  5. Hi Andy,

    🙂 Yeah, that is the joke about it all. Sure, it’s cold, but it isn’t that cold. You’ll probably laugh, but that morning was maybe 8’C with a gusty wind. Seriously, they’re soft. However, minus 40’C is abominable, which is perhaps why they have abominable snowmen, albeit in another part of the world. 😉 Sorry for the dodgy joke, but that unfortunately is what happens when you grow up having watched repeats of Doctor Who on the television. A digression.

    My mind is utterly blown away by the thought of -40’C. Summer soft, or something like that. Some parts of the continent do get quite cold, but you guys are like 11 on the dial in that regard. List of extreme temperatures in Australia. -23’C is respectable, but is most certainly not at your level.

    Very funny, and thanks for the laughs. Well spoken!

    That’s funny about the Lumberjack tune, yes who could that forget little ditty once heard, Eh! 🙂

    Andy, that’s so true, they’re soft. There’s not much more need be said, although sometimes when I’m feeling mischievous I’ll say to them: “Mate, what’s wrong with ya? It’s shorts and t-shirt weather today.” Always fun to watch the reactions. 🙂 But yes, adding an ‘Eh’ at the end will give it a level of authenticity.

    It might snow tomorrow morning, at least that is what the forecast is saying is possible down to 600m. The farm is at about 700m above sea level. Should be interesting.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    That’s all rather an alarming thought about the glass. I thought the e-glass was there to make to harder for aliens to suck a person out of the house. 🙂

    On a serious note, from time to time, I do run a search check on my name, the Editors name and the business name. You never know what happens, and over the years we’ve discovered some interesting things, such as recently the gubamoron department who put our street address onto the interweb, despite them being asked not to do so. There’s no postal delivery here, so it just confuses people. Anyway, what I really enjoyed about correcting that problem was that they were very rude, and very haughty – but also very wrong. They apologised and corrected the error, but err, too late. Absolutely nothing on me, mostly because my name is common as muck and there are authors and artists with that name – they have a big footprint.

    Yeah, light and colour is a far more complicated matter than most people realise, but grey internals would bring me down. If memory serves correctly, the last time that colour showed its ugly head was in the late 1980’s when greed was apparently a good thing. Turns out they were wrong, and at least walls can be repainted.

    Exactly, nobody lives in those places. It’s not possible because they look as ordered and quiet as a well maintained cemetery. It’s crazy, and also impossible to reproduce at anything approaching a normal budget (or state of mind for that matter). That look repulses me, but people love it for sure. Hey, they’re doing a big show on some sort of renovation or build thing in the south of this council area. Anyway, the people involved were apparently cracking the sads due to the mud, the cold and the fact they couldn’t order in food. The poor dears. Where did they reckon they were?

    All those empty houses are an interesting story. Someone must be paying for them. It is not lost on me that the last big economic mind bender was the recession of the early 1990’s and decline took place first at the periphery, which in that case was holiday houses. It moved inwards from there. We’re kind of doing the same thing nowadays, but in the world of finance what with those electronic currency things. The debt hangover mate, will be one epic day after the party monster headache, that’s for sure. But at the moment, people still seem to be partying. Beats me why they’re doing that, but they seem to be.

    We’ve already got toll roads, and they’re pricey. It is hard not to notice the increase in tyre (tires in US parlance) blow outs on the freeway. Nothing says lack of maintenance like that, although a person could be unlucky.

    Hehe! Yes, it does sound familiar. Lewis, I’m trying to be good here, but am proving to be rather weak with the sneaky book recommendations. OK it’s available in paperback. Is it a good read? I’m reading Sir Richard Burton’s translation (or possibly wholly reinterpretation of!) The Arabian Nights. I dunno whether I’m enjoying the read, but can see how it may have titillated the 19th century Europeans. I’ll keep at it for a bit longer and see where it goes. Have you ever read it? The adventurer sounds like quite the character with a gift for language, but he sure had a lot of falling outs with people, and I do wonder about that.

    Mate, I’m just impressed that your local birds aren’t consuming all of the tasty blueberries. And aren’t plans good things to aim for, reality often falls in a different place. 🙂

    Your bending my arm. OK, it’s a pretty good aphorism. Hehe! Verissimus sounds fascinating and I’ve long thought that the writings of Marcus Aurelius deserve a place on the to-read list. But never considered the format of a graphic novel. Not a bad idea at all. Just asked a friend who is more experienced with such formats than I.

    The weather forecast is predicting snow first thing tomorrow morning. Well that will be interesting, if it happens. It’s still a bit warm for snow right now at 37’F, but appears to be getting colder. That’ll be it for the early almonds, if it snows of course. Such is the climate, and there ain’t no point whining about it.

    Yeah, exactly! The softies. 64’F is like shorts and t-shirt weather, but then maybe I’ve been up in the mountains for too long? 🙂 And that’s not a bad temperature to operate in, I don’t much enjoy overly warm houses. And when we get up in the morning, it’s way colder than that. I actually don’t know how people came to be so expectational about this subject. When I was a kid, most houses usually only had a single room heated. The rest of the house in those days was cold and you just rugged up or kept active. How did we all get here? Most days we don’t ignite the wood heater until very late in the afternoon. I do wonder what people on video conferencing calls think when they see me wrapped up in thick clothing?

    I honestly can’t tell you how or why moulds became something of a national past-time, but it kind of looks that way. If people had half a brain, they’d clean the stuff off using warm water or vinegar, but I dunno that takes effort. Dust is more of a drama here with books – and one day, someday, I’ll re-do the bookshelves and provide proper doors to keep the dust off the books.

    On a serious note, I wouldn’t mind having one of those hidden doors which are actually book cases. The engineering would be a nightmare due to the sheer weight of books and shelves. One can but only dream. It’d be pretty cool though, and there is actually a book case where there should be a door. It’s a long story of not thinking the house design through properly before constructing. And it’s not like the architect pointed out the flaw either.

    Hehe! That’s a great line about what other people think. 🙂 Oh clipboard guy, yes, well that would get a response wouldn’t it? Maybe an appropriate high-visibility jacket as well? I do recall that in the Jeff Lindsay, Dexter series of books, one of the protagonists disguises was clipboard guy. Yup, out front of a rock and roll band is where he hides.

    The dogs can dig it, but they don’t dig what I want them to dig, man! 🙂

    Ooo, that’s a real toe tapper. And the repeats just add to the ear-worm factor. Thanks for that.

    Three cheers for the return of Persephone, she got a bad deal.



  7. Yo, Chris – Always fun to catch the PMCs (Professional Management Class), out. No matter the situation, I think their factory setting is “defensive.” 🙂

    I think the grey came in along with the “Industrial Decor Look.” A look down the rabbit hole has some interesting things to say about it. It kind of comes and goes and crept into houses and businesses. Saw an interesting article, “15 Industrial Home Decor Elements.” Hits all the high points, will lots of pictures.

    We get that attitude a lot, from some transplants. Dairies smell and there’s not a chain coffee shop on every corner. And wait til they run up against no, or slow internet! 🙂

    The thing about second (or third) homes, is that they need staff. At least a grizzled old local caretaker, to make sure the bears haven’t broken in.

    Which sneaky book recommendation? There are so many … 🙂

    Nope. Haven’t read Sir Richard Burton’s translation of “The Arabian Nights.” Not really on my bucket list.

    When I was picking blueberries, the other day, I did flush a couple of birds out of a bush. Didn’t note the kind. There really don’t seem to be many birds around. I think the crows, ravens, owls, hawks and eagles keep their populations in check. The other night, a huge flying insect, did a strafing run, as I was coming in the door. It crashed into the wall, hit the concrete, and in a purely reflex move, I gave it the patented Woody Harrleson double tap. It crunched. I later scooped it into a plastic bag, and will have the Master Gardeners take a look at it, tomorrow.

    We’re going to have a couple of days of mid 80sF, and then a couple of days of mid 90sF. So far, we’ve been getting a bit of on shore flow, which makes outside fairly pleasant. The apartment is another matter. LOL. I’ll be impressed with your snow, when you can build a snowman. Or make “snow angels.” And if you slap up a picture of a snowman, I want something next to it for scale. Not that I don’t trust you. 🙂

    A lot of those hidden door bookcases, are just spines glued to the door. With a bit of trim to make them look like shelves. Huge weighty door can be done, but there’s quit a knack to it. Right up there will building grand staircases.

    Because inquiring minds want to know … “Froggy Went A Courtin'” started off as a Scottish nursery rhyme, from 1548. It was set to a tune in 1611. I got to wondering if the rhyme, had any political origins. Maybe. In 1548, the later Mary Queen of Scots, was sent to France (at age 5), to be the intended bride of the heir to the French throne. And, as these things go, she did become queen of France. For a year or two. Her husband died, and as there had been no heir, she was sent packing back to Scotland.

    I can remember belting out that tune, in grade school. During our music appreciation time, or some such. I wonder when everything unravels, if those little songs and rhymes will make it through? They seem to have staying power. Lew

  8. Hello Chris
    Son is fairly hopeless as to the history of the giant tomato, other than that it is an F1 so seeds will be hopeless.

    Can’t remember whether or not I ever mentioned that my husband was one of eleven and that one of his brother’s vanished never to be heard of again after absconding from the Royal artillery. Anyhow, info. has surfaced. It appears that he sailed to Australia in 1925 on the SS Euripides and then married in Perth in 1928.

    I do love this sort of information. A shame that none of his siblings are alive to receive this news.


  9. Hi Chris,

    With many people dropping out of the workforce (everywhere it seems) I have a theory that you may be interested in laughing at.

    I suspect that many people are either using savings or being awarded unexpected inheritances, perhaps not even large ones but enough to take a breather, at least for a while, and are quietly “taking a break” from sub-optimal work environments. In former times, one generally continued to work on despite any minor windfall.

    I have zero data points to back this absurd notion up so laugh away at your pleasure. What is your experience?


  10. Working till 70- yup, times they are a changin. I’m a boomer, and so have been able to “retire”. Have to say though, being in the generation that saw the peak of consumption, and knowing the future for our children is downhill, I have both concern and feel a share of the collective guilt that we didn’t alter course years ago.

    transplanting trees- how old are said trees? I planted an oak ( one of many actually) three years ago, but now that the greenhouse has been sited, the oak is not in a good place. Over time it will shade the greenhouse. Moving it seems daunting, as the root ball is likely large. How big were the root balls on your migrating fruit trees?

    Where are they?- The great resignation, as they have been calling it, has left plenty of job openings and reduced services all around. But where did everyone go? And how can they afford to not continue working? Idle wondering about those around us hits me when on a very busy highway. Where in the hell are all these people rushing to? I avoid busy highways when I can, so it’s all the more a spectacle when I do venture out.

    Wood heating maintenance- Steel does corrode faster when subjected to periodic heating. Oxygen and iron atoms have a thing for each other.
    Our Russian furnace lasted a long time, but the firebricks were finally shifting and breaking down, so we are having a major repair done. This work is beyond my skill set. The mason will be here this morning. $$$
    Photos to follow.

    apple cider- We have a 5 gallon( 19l) batch of cider bubbling away, and our grandsons are visiting this week, so they will be on apple gathering duty, and a second batch will get fermenting. Apple pie will of course be another outcome.

  11. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 There’s a school of thought which suggests that a defensive posture suggests that there is something there which maybe unearned that needs defending? Just sayin about that lot… Admittedly it is hard to be cool upon occasion, I’ve met some folks who rub me up the wrong way. You can’t get along with everyone, although in a fine joke, I was told repeatedly as a kid that it was a possibility. Me thinks the adults were lying.

    Yeah, exactly, it was meant to be some sort of nod to ‘industrial chic’. I wasn’t much of a fan of that look myself as, I dunno, it seemed unpleasant to be in. But I have seen some pretty cool places which are industrial like with exposed beams and industrial surfaces, but they’re very quirky one-off places which reflect the individual rather than just trying to copy some ideal. The places just kind of were different. Ah, thanks for the link, seriously some of those places were very cool looking. The downside of exposed brick walls is that they’re cold in winter and the lack of soft surfaces does tend to reflect sound around rather than dampening it. But on the other hand, very cool. Could I live in such a place, no. How about you?

    Oh that’s good. Yes, all of those things people complain of. An old timer remarked to me that if people last two winters, they may be around for the longer term. It was quite the insight into how other people see new comers. Ook! Mind you, I have had some new comers say the most stupid things, and inadvertently be highly critical. I tend to steer away from such folks.

    Hey, the new blue camera turned up in the mail today. Did I mention that the camera was blue? Goes faster. Actually, it is faster. It is so weird that someone would purchase such an amazing chunk of technology – with it still working perfectly, and minimal sign of use – and then upgrade… A complicated mindset that one. Saves me paying retail price.

    I’ve never heard of a Koala bear breaking into a holiday house. It may have happened, but I dunno. 😉 Your bears are frightening, and get up to massive amounts of mischief, and have authority. Mostly people just lock the house up and draw the curtains. Back in the day, the hill stations in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, used to do just that as you wrote, and they kept a lot of the population around here employed. I wonder what the future holds in store for us all?

    Score one Lewis – The cheeky book recommendation award of the week! Well done.

    I feel a bit bad as I’ve put down the book of The Arabian Nights. I don’t think I’ll return to it either. Mate, the characters are just so extreme that the story bored me. I couldn’t get into it and reading the book was a chore. No doubt the flaw is my own. People don’t act that way, even tyrants can’t do such as those characters.

    Mate, that’s the law of the jungle. The crows and ravens etc. will be keeping the other populations in check. Just the fact you have the higher order predators around, it kind of suggests your local environment can support them, so that’s no bad thing.

    Did the master gardeners identify the insect? Hopefully it is not one of those monster wasps – what do you call them, err, hornets? Nasty critters.

    Hopefully your nights are getting cooler and it helps cool the building down? One of the problems with being higher up in the building is the chimney effect. No snow here. I reckon I may have seen some high up in an inaccessible part of the mountain range, but can’t confirm that, so anyway it was all a bit of a flop. There was a bit of sleet tonight, which was icy, but no snow.

    Other parts of the country enjoyed a decent dump of snow: Bitter cold snap catches kangaroos on the hop.

    What? Outrageous, I thought they were actual bookcases. I might look into this matter a bit more closely. There would be a knack to constructing one of those things, and yes, there are tasks that prove the men from the boys. A grand staircase would be one such work of art.

    Wow, they had it in for Mary Queen of Scots, and achieved their ends. Possibly it is not wise to make oneself a target.

    I reckon that style of song has a good chance of longevity. If you listen to it, the rhythm is easily produced and at a good timing for basic instruments. And the repetitive nature of the lines locks it into the mind. Before technology became such a large force, culture was more highly valued, and such a song can be easily remembered and reproduced – thus its power.



  12. Hi Inge,

    Ah, I see. I’m assuming that you save your seeds, but it is possible that some of the genes from that F1 will get into your own saved seeds if they flowered at the same time. It’s hard to know the outcome, but I’m not overly fussed about such things, although mainly grow open pollinated varieties which reputedly grow true to type. The F1 may invigorate your saved seed stock? Dunno, but it is a complicated process which I don’t fully understand and am learning by trial and error.

    🙂 Such things happened. The Editors father was equally a man of mystery. It wouldn’t be so easy to do such a thing these days.

    No snow… Oh well.



  13. Hi Crow,

    You may be right, and I have known of this to happen. I’m not entirely convinced that people are very good at managing lump sums of mad cash. It’s kind of like the old story of people winning the lotto only to blow it all.

    For the record, neither the Editor nor I have received an inheritance. Certainly such a thing would make life easier.

    What your idea is hinting at is that there is a concentration of wealth in society, and that eventually that unravels. I’m not laughing about your idea either, and have seriously wondered about this. If we’re all really lucky, the property market will collapse prior to the transfer of wealth becoming a thing. What a fine joke that would be don’t you think?



  14. Hi Steve,

    I’ve run out of time to reply, and promise to reply tomorrow night. Truth was I was mucking around with the new second-hand camera. The old camera was starting to get a bit dodgy. One of the photos of the fixed lamp post just didn’t work at all… Technology, good when it works!



  15. Yo, Chris – I think quit a few of the PMC, are the “Peter Principle” in action. It’s the theory that people rise to the level of their own incompetence. (Looking at you, building manager.) 🙂 And I think deep down, they know it.

    Oh, I think well done (value judgement) industrial decor can be very cool. But to live in? But I agree with you about exposed brick walls. I really like “the look.” Maybe it’s our “Three Little Pigs Gene,” kicking in? 🙂

    The old/new camera goes faster, because it’s blue.

    Which cheeky book recommendation? Don’t feel bad about not warming to, or finishing a book. Just pick up another one. Life’s too short. When I worked in libraries / bookstores, I’d always tell kids that. Somewhere, someone had convinced them they needed to finish a book. Which can kill the urge to read for pleasure. Good grief, it’s not like cleaning your plate!

    The Master Gardeners will be here, today, and I’ll have insect show and tell. Didn’t do much in the garden, last night. Gave H a bath, instead. But, I did water and pick some basil to dry.

    That was an interesting article on the snowfall. Sorry (I guess) you didn’t get any. Those tables at Mt. Hotham? Now that’s what a snowfall can look like, around here. But not very often. I look for tables like that, to stick my tape measure in, to get a reading. You have a taste of what we go through, large chunks of the winter. Will it snow? When? How much? Will it stick? I thought the title of the article was a bit on the twee side. 🙂

    You’d have to visit a lot of op shops, to get enough spines, for a book case. And not be too squeamish about destroying a number of books. But spines often fall off of books, that aren’t worth repairing. Hmmm. Just had a good idea for a mystery. The spines of the books titles, spell out the solution to a mystery. When I worked in some bookstores, we’d arrange displays so the titles spelled out messages. Some were naughty. 🙂

    Biscuits and gravy, call. Lew

  16. Hi, Chris!

    Yesterday I was writing to you when the power went out. It’s back.

    Mold – do we have it! Wet, wet, wet this summer. My work shoes never dry out. I kind of wonder what’s growing in there . . . We have had rain most days, though often sun on the same day. They are now forecasting about a week of hot, dry weather. I hope so!

    Thank goodness you still have a steel mill there.

    Try this: My last week off was in June of 2021. Last day off since April 2021? The two weeks that I was laid up with you-know-what. Did my ancestors get vacations, or even whole days off? Probably not, if you go back a ways. And I assume that they only “retired” when they could no longer even move.

    Is the polycarbonate as clear as glass?

    I have to wear my headlamp outside at night. What a great invention.

    My son sometimes gives away some of his baby fruit trees, most often figs. We have a lot of baby fig trees. At this point, I think he has 70 different varieties, mostly suited for cold winter climates like ours. He gave some to a new friend recently and she passed a couple on to her sister, who turns out to be a figophile. At her last house (in the city) she had 8 fig trees. That’s a lot for a city lot, where the sun is probably not all that great either. I have heard that there is a monastery in Washington, D. C. (2 hours northeast of us) that grows a large number of fig trees in the city.

    Almonds bloom first here, too.

    I mentioned that I have been planting a fall garden. Well, the groundhog – which we have been unable to catch – just ate my largest bed of fall bush beans. Normally I wouldn’t plant beans in the fall, but my pole beans, which start producing in September, have been eaten way back from the top (6ft) down.
    I cannot figure out what s doing it. It is not the corgi-sized groundhog. It looks like flying bunnies are the culprits, though I have not spotted any yet . . .

    Thanks for the flowers!


  17. Hi Steve,

    Mate, seriously, I wouldn’t worry about it. What most people might not realise – and I’m a Gen Xer – is that sure, missed the peak and all that, but things are still pretty good, even for the Millennial’s. They may not appreciate that sentiment, but you know we’ve travelled widely in Asia in some out of the way places, and seen first hand just how far you can fall, and still get by and live your life. From some respects, the social connections I’ve seen in such countries are far better than our own.

    Hmm, the largest tree we moved was probably over 10ft maybe taller, the top towered way over my head and it was heavy. Can’t now recall how old the tree is. As to the root ball, we kind of just dug up what we could, and put the shovel through the bits we couldn’t remove. There were two trees around that height – the others were smaller thankfully, and those two large ones did have extensive root systems. Look, the thing with those two trees was that due to changed circumstances, they never would have been given the opportunity to grow where they were. Both of them shaded solar panels on the large shed. On a balance of probabilities, it was a better bet to move them, than cut them down. They both seem to be doing OK in their new locations. The yellow power six wheel drive wheelbarrow was used to move them, but I could just have carried them if need be, just to give you a sense of how heavy they were.

    Exactly, that is what I wonder too. Where are they? Before the last long lock down things were not as broken as they appear to be now. I have an odd hunch that many folks have simply withdrawn their services and somehow retired. But I don’t really know, I’m just vaguely aware that something very serious is wrong on that front. And the same is true here, how are all these people from off the mountain loafing around causing me to enjoy my coffee in the cold?

    Yes, entropy is not our friend and the steel worm never sleeps. The firewood box is now in tip top condition, for now…

    An eminently elegant technology, and just so happens to be a fall back plan. Hope the mason gets it right. Mortar exposed to such heat is always something a bit precarious if they stuff it up. Fingers crossed your mason knows what he is doing, which I’m assuming is the case. Look forward to seeing the photos.

    Now you are simply teasing me with this talk of apple cider. The Alaskan book turned up in the mail, and I note the tone of sheer genius. Thanks for the recommendation.



  18. Hi Pam,

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that the electricity system may be faster than either you or I could ever be. Those electrons need to slow down a little bit so that we can click ‘save’ before they peter out into nothingness. Hope you didn’t lose the equivalent of ‘war and peace’ – we’ve all been there! 🙂

    Just casually hoping that your work shoes are leather, or some other natural product? None of which dry out quickly without cracking. Awful. Have you checked for Triffid seedlings growing in your boots? They might get too big for your boots (as the old timers used to quip). Fingers crossed that your weather dries and warms and the soil dries out – this is my mantra also. It works to defeat the awful awfulness of the noise ‘squish, squish, slip’. The slip problem occurs on muddy ground when on land which is gently sloping – you know what I mean?

    Having an early work experience as a manufacturing accountant, there are days I feel that I’m the last of the Mohicans. Not to mention being one of the last owner builders. Experiencing the end of workplace social culture. Pam, truly, I’ve seen a few endings, but also many beginnings. Not sure what to make of those events, but I can assure you in this regard only: The fluffy’s helped consume a very tasty chunk of lemon meringue pie this evening. They looked happy enough with that.

    In the last week off competition, sadly I’m winning on that score – but probably losing. Respect to you, you’ve had a hard path the past year or so, but you know I’m of the opinion that it was the right thing to do. Imagine what may have occurred had you not done what you had done? Holy carp! But yeah, pain.

    Sorry to hear you had it that bad, you have my sympathies. I tell you, there were days I woke up and thought: Gawd, I feel a bit ill – but there was work to be done. Almost lost my voice too. I was on a video call for a couple of hours one day and the voice got worse and worse – and was asked if I could come in the following week when I was feeling better. Yeah, that wasn’t going to happen. Needed time to recuperate, but it did me in for about half the time you were affected. I couldn’t head off the property – the locals know me well and would have killed me on sight for attempting that trick. And memories are long…

    From memory, my grandparents retired in their early 70’s. My grandfather, whom I’ve written about, was none to happy about that because he was legally forced and the legislation was set in stone. He didn’t survive long afterwards. My earlier experience of work was that it was less intense than it is today, and I’m hearing of some of my older network retiring due to the intensity factor. The red-tape is bonkers.

    I think so, but maybe polycarbonate is slightly less clear than glass. It does block something like 7% of UV radiation from the sun, but then I believe glass blocks some wavelengths too. Dunno.

    Exactly, some tech is pretty handy! And rechargeable batteries are good.

    What an awesome collection, and hope that you have some of the fig trees growing on your property. I don’t fully understand that trees cycle as they seem to carry undersized fruit through the winter. Not sure what is going on there, and the birds seem to ignore it. Dunno. 8 trees, good luck! Used to have a neighbour who’s entire backyard was a fig forest. I had this sneaking suspicion that the roots of the fig trees had somehow managed to get into the joins in the old clay sewer pipes. The trees sure looked healthy and the fruit bats used to feast. Fortunately the marsupial bats here consume insects.

    Have you considered that the culprit may be the dreaded Killer Rabbits? Beware! A herbivorous critter the size of a corgi (lovely dogs) whom can dig holes sounds like an utter nightmare. Yikes!



  19. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, the Peter Principle is sadly all too real. Funnily enough that was one of the reasons I stepped back and away from the big end of town. I didn’t much enjoy my time at the top, and here is where it got strange. So I wanted to take a backwards step in my err, career, and the jobs at that level are so detestable that there are few candidates. So I kept getting channelled and pushed back to that level, and nobody would see reason. Just give it a go, they’d say, but no. So I walked away altogether and began the business I currently run. It’s a more pleasant experience albeit less remunerative.

    Mate, I had the weirdest Kafkaesque experience today – at the dept which I mentioned recently just got partially sold off. So I was heading to the post office when I got a call about the car being ready to pick up in a few days. But I needed something from the dept called a client ID. What was this thing? The dealer said they could sort it out in three to four days, but it would be quicker if I did it. How hard could it be? So I grab a folder full of information and head to the dept which is in an outer suburb halfway to the big smoke. The wait wasn’t too long (and not like what it was a couple decades ago – pack a cut lunch and hope you don’t need to go to the toilet and lose your place in the queue). Anyway, the lady tells me I need to show them a letterhead with our business address. I had really seriously official documentation – as good as it gets, but no, something I could bang out on a dodgy printer would only suffice. Having a mild freak out that I’d be sent to the back of the queue, I managed to find in the folder of stuff I’d taken, a letter with the address and business logo. I didn’t even ask if it was OK, I just supplied it. Seemed like the safer option. Then she asks if I had one with the street address as distinct from the postal address. Starting to sweat. Then it occurred to me to say: Australia Post doesn’t deliver to this street address as that would confuse people. And I swear, she ever so quietly, but not quietly enough, hurrumphed, but accepted the explanation – which she had my license and could have checked up on her systems. I finally got the ID number. Talk about a nightmare experience. My stress levels were way up after that. Man, I’m not built for that. 🙂

    The whole car experience has somehow gotten very complicated over the past few years since I last had to deal with such things. Probably because I don’t need finance, and seriously I don’t believe that they’re that used to such transactions any more. Gone are the days where you could just go down and pay with a bank cheque (that’s a super official version of a check backed by the banks). It’s all doing my head in. Just to annoy them, I should just take in a suitcase of mad cash. I wonder what they’d make of that? How cool would it be to add in a little glow light when the suitcase opened – like the one in Repo Man. Such a great film.

    Yeah, I like that industrial look too as it is very cool and very unique, but yeah cold and loud, so I dunno but you get what I mean about those downsides. Some restaurants have no soft finishes and you end up having to shout at the person sitting across from you, and sometimes the babble of noise is too much. Those three little pigs have a lot to answer for culturally. I’ve experienced a few strawbale and mud brick houses and they’re good. I don’t really understand the cultural bias for brick buildings.

    Ah, but of course. And the blue finish on the camera is remarkable in the excellent condition. The nice Japanese folks said as good as new, and they weren’t lying.

    Thank you, and I shall bear in mind your excellent advice. I really wasn’t enjoying the book. The Editor didn’t quite comprehend reaction, so I suggested that she read the thing. I’ve begun reading a book written by my mate Simon (of the Dissenting Opinion blog over on the side) which is very amusing. A dystopian stoner novel. I reckon he’s forging his own genre there. Once Upon a Time in Tittybong 2: Catch My Disease. He’s even funnier in person, the things he sometimes says. Real tea spitters. By the way, that is an actual town name in this state. Does the name translate well? Yeah, well, different times. I’m sure it doesn’t mean what it says.

    Ah, sorry, I thought the master gardeners where there yesterday. I wonder what you’ve found. Do you reckon they checked out the salvo’s urban farm?

    Hope the basil smells nice? What a delightful herb.

    Nah, I’ve seen plenty of snow here before. Wet winters like this one are usually warmer, so like last year, it just may not snow at all this year. The article was likewise suggesting that the table made for a good indicator of snowfall. Glad you don’t get too much snow like that – it would make things difficult.

    Really? Well I’d probably want to have a genuine bookcase on a hinge, but the engineering does seem rather problematic, plus the thing couldn’t hinge from the rear – it would have to slide forward, and then to the side to get past the adjoining book cases. Possible, but difficult. I hadn’t realised they were generally fake, although I’ve never seen one outside of a photo.

    Yum! Enjoy your biscuits and gravy, and hope you have some good chats. Chats are good for the soul, as is biscuits and gravy. 🙂

    Another wet and cloudy day here today.



  20. Yo, Chris – And employers are so gob-smacked, when you give them a cherry “Adios!” I nailed down my retirement (got vested), and quit working at the library after three long years. Went back to substituting. So, I’m out and around and people always wanted to know why I gave up a higher rate of pay, and some pretty good benefits. I always said just one word. “Kristen.” Sometimes with eye roll. They eventually moved her to a non-public position … with no employees under her.

    Kafkaesque, indeed. Why do they never tell you all the details to make a transaction run smoothly? Maybe if you’d slipped her a few bucks. 🙂 . Something you hear about in other countries, but it does happen here, too. It’s just a lot more subtle.

    Here, they’re called certified or cashier’s checks. They’re supposed to be as good as money, but, take one into your bank or credit union, and they still want it to “clear” before releasing funds. I’ve been hearing stories, the last couple of years, that if you need large amounts of cash, you have to make arrangements a few days ahead. If you inquire into that, the usual lame excuse is either “drugs”, or possible extortion. Actually, cash is suspect due to some kind of possible tax dodging.

    “…cultural bias for brick.” Our Castle Gene, kicks in 🙂 . And, it just looks cool. I might ask our Mr. Bill, from the Club, who is a mason, if he has any theories on why people prefer brick.

    I happened to run into a young lady, at the Club, who works at the Salvation Army. I asked her about the “farm.” She was just as surprised as I was, when she started working there. She said it really augments their meal programs. And, I guess they do some food deliveries, such as we get. I was thinking today, we’re awash in vegetables, everywhere. Julia brought in some plums, yesterday. Not quit ripe, and a bit on the small side, but I bet they’ll be tasty.

    The Master Gardeners dropped me an e-mail, last night. The mystery bug is a Ten-Lined June Beetle. It’s native. I did a bit more research on the Net, and found, “…will kill mature trees, outright.”

    I finished “The $64 Tomato”, last night. A good read. There was a chapter on how he did the ROI, for the Tomato. He had a chapter that I’d call, “The Aging Gardener.” He has a few existential questions. And ruminations. All with a bit of humor. And, I’m sure I’ve heard it before, but he also said that “Gardening is … an expression of the triumph of optimism over experience.”

    Rehearsals off! (Which is an obscure reference to a decades old, book of cartoons.) I got a voice mail from Elinor’s daughter. The visit is off. She’s back in the hospital. “Respiratory problems.” I’ll probably get more details, later. But, we’re still going to the groomers, today. In about half an hour.

    Watered last night, watered this morning. It’s going to be a hot one. Lew

  21. Chris,

    Thanks for asking about my whereabouts. Nope, not smoked out. Thankfully. Things got a bit hectic at the end of last week. Then the Princess got home Sunday, and we have been enjoying catching up with one another this week. The good news from the Disaster Fronts is that youngest brother got home from hospital following his heart attack and surgery. Otherwise, the Princess is getting precious time to herself, we’re being gentle with one another, and I’m still trying to practice “shut up and listen”. Good stuff.

    That was sad news last week about Elbows. She still posted occasionally when I first started here.

    Saw no Northern Lights last week. The high haze from some fires blew in at precisely the wrong moment. Skies were clearish but any faint lights weren’t visible due to the haze.

    Back in the far reaches of time, when I was at university, my summer job at a science museum needed some of us to come in and do some minor repair and maintenance in the winter. It was sunny, no wind, -25C. I was early, so I sat on a bench in the sun. Was I cold? No, as I was acclimated to the winter weather AND I was dressed appropriately. Plus, the sun helped. When the boss showed up with the key, he thought I was either a popsicle, frozen solid, or just plain crazy. As far as I remember, I might have been any 2 of the 3. 😉 It has a lot to do with proper attire and being acclimated to the conditions.

    People watching can be fun. Almost always interesting. Being in public places more than I am, the Princess recounts many stories after arriving home from her adventures.

    Mate, lemme tell ya. I’ve been retired for about 19 months now. Having a regular coffee is STILL part of my normal mental health care plan. The mental health aspects are enhanced if the coffee is enjoyed on the back patio where birds and squirrels can be watched and heard, trees and clouds (if any) viewed, wind felt and heard.

    There might be thunderstorms tonight. Maybe even some measurable rain. I’m not counting on it. However, it does appear that this will be the harbinger of the NTB – Necessary Temperature Break – from the 35C range to the 30C range for daytime highs. Well, after one more go at 38C early next week. That means it will cool off properly at night and, barring smoke, the house can get fresh air circulated at night.


  22. @ Pam,

    Did I get this correct? You may be having an invasion of the Dreaded Jumping Killer Rabbits, who are eating your bean plants from the top down? OMG, that’s not good! Sometimes introducing jackalopes might help, but never jackanapes. Although my favorite method with any variety of Killer Rabbit is the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch.


  23. Chris:

    My summer work shoes are canvas; not sure if they are cotton.

    I don’t know about most workplace social culture, but in my mother’s assisted living place, where I spend a large part of my days, there is a thriving – and very interesting – culture among the staff, among the residents, and between the staff and residents.

    No – not lemon meringue pie for fluffies! Me! Me!

    I typed wrong – my last week off was 2001.

    I’m not sure that we could move a tree that size.

    That odd, early crop of fig fruit is normal. It is called the breba crop.


  24. @DJSpo:

    Worse than the Dreaded Jumping Killer Rabbits – this thing has wings as well. A mere jump could not do such damage.

    Already have jackanapes. Have heard jackalopes like beans as well. Your other solution has been pondered, though not holy . . .


  25. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, that’s the thing isn’t it? They seem happy to be right , but when it comes down to it, they also hate you for leaving. My personal favourite (not my own experience) was an employer sweeping their hand in the direction of an infeasible quantity of work, and seriously suggesting: “You’ll finish all this before you go”. Mate, words are weapons, and in that case the person replied “I don’t think so”. It takes a lot of cheek to say such a thing, and in an interesting twist of fate, many years later I heard they were having troubles getting people to work for them. Some people are just bad eggs.

    You know, from this distance I’d say you kept your eyes on the prize. And won. Respect. The thing I wonder about with your situation and the person you mentioned getting moved, was whether that person was used as a tool with which to discourage people lower in the food chain, from taking their grievances higher up the food chain. I don’t know the people or situation, but I’m kind of reminded of people who enjoy the company of attack dogs. It never ends well that story.

    Honestly, the requirement for letterhead was so unusual that it threw me. Incidentally, I later made inquiries of people in the trade because my curiosity was piqued, and oh yeah, they can and do ask for that. Were they attempting to discourage me? I can’t say for sure, but there is no legal requirement that a business have letterhead that I’m aware of. The other official documents didn’t seem to rate. So weird and inexplicable and an insight into a world I hope not to deal with again for a very long time. One can always but hope!

    In quite a few countries in Asia I have had to grease palms, and ooo, but they loved your currency. 🙂 Australian dollars, what are these things, but the green back is known. It’s always an unnerving experience especially with border officials because it could go so badly and very quickly. There’s a weird sort of dance to that interaction, but dance you shall.

    A mate of mine who hails from the sub continent recently mentioned that one of the things his family said was a good thing about this country was that you don’t have to grease palms in order to do basic day to day things.

    Sure, there is corruption down under too and probably also in your country, it’s just different.

    Yes, back in the day, those bank cheques / cashier’s checks were treated as good as cash, but nowadays… I have a suspicion that businesses have no systems for taking checks to the bank to deposit. I’m not joking. And you heard truly. That is most definitely the case. If you want more than a couple of thousand mad cash, you have to provide a couple of days notice. That change came in a couple of years ago, and I’d wondered about it. And believe it or not, the gobarmint folks were actually trying to introduce a law to make it illegal to pay more than ten big ones in mad cash (which probably aren’t all that big these days due to inflation). That law got shot down, but I tell ya, it didn’t sound right to me whatever the reasoning behind it is. Cash is cash and that’s how it is, except that some international groups don’t like the stuff. I do understand that there is a criminal side to the issue, and fair enough, but making ordinary folks crims does not justify the proposed law.

    Hehe! Far out dude, it’s harvest season in your part of the world, that’s why there are vegetables everywhere. 🙂 We’ll see if the same thing occurs in mid spring during the traditional lean period? That’s the real question. Me thinks not. Enjoy the veg whilst it is freely flowing. But between you and I, most people don’t consume enough vegetables.

    Lucky you, now I’m salivating thinking of fresh plums, and the smaller varieties are usually the better tasting. Enjoy! Julia may be like me in that she cannot provide too much water to the trees during the growing season, or doesn’t have the free labour to thin the fruit so as to encourage larger sized fruit. I’ll bet the fruit smells good? Go on, tease me here. 🙂

    Ten-Lined June Beetle. Yikes! The little critter eats the roots of trees and probably ends up starving them to death. They seem to prefer the sandier soil in your part of the world, so maybe they won’t be common in your area. You wouldn’t want them. I’m surprised that the large beetle survived the local bird population?

    The author is so right about that. Not much of this stuff makes much economic sense, but on the other hand – and here’s the optimism – perhaps a price can’t be put upon nutrient and minerally dense foods? The Aging Gardener – such advice could come in handy. You may have noticed that we’re trying to sort out the place and infrastructure so that it is easy to live with? Your raised beds / stock tanks will assist with that issue.

    Here’s a cause for celebration: I had my first day off work in about three weeks. Yay! Me tired. The Editor disappeared into the big smoke. I read more of Simon’s hysterical book. And for amusement, I put together three more bunker lights for the big shed AKA mead hall. Didn’t get a chance to wire in the LED bunker lights, maybe next time, but they’re ready to go now. And had a nap in the late afternoon. Went to the pub for dinner, which was really tasty. The chicken parma came with chips and cooked beans with garlic, sea salt, chilli. So good. The Editor managed to nick a goodly quantity of the tasty beans, but I was feeling indulgent and ate some of her salad instead. When a person has won the food lottery, they can bask in the glory and be magnanimous. Plus I won some brownie points for being so generous.

    Thanks for letting me in on the joke about the book – I wouldn’t have got it otherwise. An interesting dude. Fingers crossed that Elinor is OK and I’m sending my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

    Enjoy the heat, mate, winter gets cold. You read it here first!



  26. Hi Pam,

    Canvas shoes are also known down here as tennis shoes, and an excellent choice if I may say so. Over summer, there are times my feet get quite hot in leather work boots. Canvas shoes are much more appropriate for the time of year.

    They probably are cotton, but just in case – don’t look too closely! It’s like asking for credit from a local shop, as the signs used to say when I was a kid: A refusal often offends.

    Yes, I can understand how such a business would have an intriguing workplace culture. I dunno, but you’d hope such a place didn’t have a high staff turnover. That would be hard on the residents, such as your mum. Is she fitting in well?

    🙂 Pam, I salute your firm hand with the fluffy’s and the Editor takes after you. Seriously, I’m soft, they look at me with their big gooey eyes as if to suggest: “Please Sir, can I have more?” and I succumb. The thing is, after they see I’m done, they ditch me and put upon the much tougher – like you – Editor. It won’t do them any good I tell them, but they try.

    Oh my gawd! Here’s me whingeing about two and three quarter years without a week off, and you smash that by a factor of almost eight. I don’t know what to say, but you are tougher than I. I’m determined to take at least one week off work at the end of the year. The problem with having to use my brain that much, is that it might wear out. It’s a risk.

    I wasn’t sure I could move a tree that size either. One tree is doing well, but the other, well, we’ll see how it goes. Maybe a feed of seaweed solution will help.

    Thank you for the information on the breba crop. I have learned much about figs, and may remove some of the breba crop.



  27. Hi DJ,

    Nah man, you went quiet and I was hoping there had not been more tragedy and smoke. You and your lady have walked a hard road the past few years, and I was a bit worried. Glad to hear you weren’t smoked out too. Never good. Don’t laugh, but shutting up and listening is easier said than done, sometimes you want to help but that ain’t what is needed. Good to hear that younger brother is out of hospital.

    Thanks for saying that. I’ll miss Elbows, and that is one tough part of the world which is having a lot of problems. It is possible that sooner or later another correspondent from there will drop by and say hello.

    Ha! Doesn’t that always seem to happen. We had a recent three different meteor shower event over one night (or it may have been two nights – who can remember such details). Anyway, clouds. They do have the same effect as smoke haze. The winter night skies here are really spectacular due to low levels of light pollution, but yeah, clouds. Have you ever seen the Northern (or Southern) lights? Was it an impressive spectacle?

    a popsicle, frozen solid, or just plain crazy! However, a well attired for the conditions popsicle. 🙂 And I reckon the lack of wind would have assisted – the wind steals temperature. And it’s funny about the pick any two of three and how universally applicable that rule is. For your interest, the Editor did some work in a museum as a Biology student, and from what I understand she did work with Antechinus which is a marsupial mouse like critter. They were moving the preserved critters from I believe some sort of formaldehyde into alcohol. Apparently they had lots of them – who knew? And funnily enough, being at the bottom of the pecking order, she ended up in the bowels of the building which were below street level. Those guys sure knew how to make science fun! 😉

    I agree, you can acclimate to conditions. The complaints I hear of temperatures of 18’C indoors over winter being bad for your health, well it does make me wonder how such folks will cope if ever there is an energy shortage for heating? It’s not good. I haven’t seen that temperature outside for many months now. And most days we don’t run the wood heater during the day, and it certainly doesn’t run over night – I couldn’t sleep properly in an overly heated house.

    Ah, I share my stories with the Editor. Your lady probably keeps you entertained with amusing anecdotes of her travels?

    Had my first day of work for about three weeks today. Took myself to the general store for a late lunch, and a local guy struck up a conversation. I managed to get a better outdoor table (it must have been about 8’C and was not sunny) than he did. Being a local, he knew I got the better table just. So he says: “I was going to put my keys on the table to reserve it, but then thought better of it”. Fortunately having a quieter day today my brain was sharper than the more usual absent minded professor mode some people get to experience. So, I retorted: “Which one is your car?”, and he could see where this was going, but pointed out his expensive looking Ford Ranger. “There’s a long waiting list for those vehicles” which was a pretty good retort, and that kind of ended the conversation. Not sure it was an amicable ending, but who knows. The vehicle had been very expensively kitted out, so leaving the keys to reserve the table would have been an unwise option.

    I don’t do that reserving thing game myself as it is first in best dressed, and there’s a good reason for that. Years ago I left a book on the table, and whilst I was ordering at the counter, someone came inside – face full of concern – “has someone left a book?” Yes, very amusing, and they nabbed the table the cheeky scamps. It’s hard to know whether to be irritated or impressed?

    Mate, you’ve gotta be at the peak of your game, and sadly I can’t be that switched on all the time. Mostly I’m just not that interested in playing such games, probably to my detriment.

    DJ, your coffee routine sounds awesome. 🙂

    Fingers crossed you get some of that rain – without the thunderstorm, although that usually portends a clash of cooler air smashing into a pool of hotter air. Lightning is not good sorry to say due to fire risk. Hope it cools down soon, but I can tell you from this side of winter, after a while a bit of warmer weather sounds nice to me right now.



  28. Hello Chris
    Here I am moaning. Airmail post to Australia now takes 23 days, it used to be 5 days.
    I won’t do bank transfers after a horrendous experience, so I send cheques. Australian banks are starting to refuse them. If they accept one, they send it back to the British bank to be verified. I don’t know whether it gets posted back to Australia or not. Just think of the postal time that this all takes. Meanwhile our postal service goes on an intermittent strike from tomorrow

    We are getting letters from the banks increasingly telling us what they no longer do. A friend just rang up to say that thank god she had got her money out of a European country because it was no longer possible. I had already had a letter informing me of this unbelievable fact.

    Our doctor’s surgery in the village, is about to close for 3 years. This is supposed to be because the 8 year old building, in which it resides, has cracks and is showing signs of movement. It is going to take them 3 years to re-build it, so they say.

    I have finally used the giant tomato. Son told me that it would have no seeds, actually I counted 4.


  29. Yo, Chris – The book I had in mind for the Editor, I picked up, yesterday. Spent an hour or so, taking a look. “Fabric: The Hidden History of the Material World.” (Finlay, 2022). 512 pgs. Covers the history of different fabrics. Everything from Barkcloth to Tweed, to Sackcloth to Silk. Lots of black and white pictures, and one color section. I found some tidbits, like this:

    “She gave me many tips, some of which have played out in the research for this book. And one of them was to go to Scotland in winter.
    Winter’s when people make things, she said. The dark months are the fabric months.”

    So. Drawbacks. The author’s mother died (unexpectedly) and her father three months later (expected.) Mum and Dad pop up, here and there in the book. Along with a few other family stories. I don’t know. Seems to be a trend, these days. Seems a bit self indulgent. To me. Your mileage may vary. I probably won’t read the book, cover to cover, but I do want to read entire sections, pertaining to this fabric or that.

    “…having trouble getting people to work for them.” Well, isn’t that a part of what’s going on now? Labor shortages and whatnot? Grievances were taken higher up the food chain. But it was like water wearing away a rock. The degreed librarians cover each other’s backsides.

    The sub continent. I just started watching season 4 of “The Good Karma Hospital.” I’d say it’s pretty good, as I was looking forward to season 4. 🙂

    Oh, wish as the powers that be might, I think cash will be around for a good while. The grey and black market demand it. 🙂 Money laundering?

    The plums aren’t quit ripe, so are in a bowel on the counter. I wonder why the June Bug, is doing a bombing run on me, in August? I don’t know how prevalent they are. There are large things, flying about, around sunset. Might be hummingbirds, bats … or beetles. Elinor’s son-in-law was commenting, last night, on the lack of bees and birds, this year. They live over in Centralia.

    Speaking of Elinor, I talked to her daughter, last night. Bronchitis and congestive heart failure, where mentioned. If she get out of hospital, she may not go back to the place she was. The insurance company doesn’t want to pay for rehab, when she isn’t getting rehabed. And, her daughter thinks perhaps they don’t want her back as she’s so … difficult.

    Speaking of difficult, life is just a bit frustrating, right now. Went to the grocery, last night. Seems like a lot of things were out of stock (tea, popcorn, reasonably priced chocolate bars) or, expensive. I bought 7 items, and it came to near $30. The computer here at The Institution, has been … bulky. As far as I know, I’m about the only one that uses it. And, only to access the library. Seems like I have to go two falls out of three, to get it up and running. Suddenly, it either asks for a pass word (got me), or, says it isn’t connected to the Net. But after two or three attempts (shut it off, turn it on … gosh, the boot up takes a long time), it works. The National Weather Service, has been spotty. The local radar was down for five days. Since they fiddled with the site, the local weather stations reporting has been spotty. Used to be, there were 15 minute updates. Now, it’s every once in awhile, and there were two days where there were no reports. Oh, well. Life on life’s terms.

    I heard some chatter, about our local county fair (ag show.) I guess the handicraft (quilts, etc.) participation was way down. Bowling alone / aging population. The Master Gardeners had a bit of action at their booth. But signed up no new members. The one’s that come here are all retired people. I fear for the future.

    I took H to the groomer, yesterday. She seemed to know where she was, and, apparently likes her groomer. She drug me down the sidewalk. Dropped her off at noon and picked her up at 3:30. Her hair is quit short, now. She seems to like it. So do I. I tell people I swapped the old dog, for a “trophy” dog. 🙂 Lew

  30. Hi Inge,

    5 days really is pretty amazing for such an epic trip. 🙂 Even 23 days is pretty good. My understanding is that there are less such trips taking place, and passage through customs, bond stores etc. is much slower. Not to mention we’re about an hour from the centre of a city of five million souls, and no longer receive daily mail services.

    Of late I’ve had a theory that we’ll run short of stuff, long before we run out of stuff.

    The bank transfer worked out fine, but I tell you truly, it was a nerve wracking experience, and that arose because I did something that other people don’t tend to do nowadays and so inadvertently had to take on a degree of transaction risk – I didn’t require finance for the purchase. The vast majority of people do so. What happened to savings? Not long ago, that’s how people paid for such things.

    Inge, times have changed – and even I’m shocked at the change. Apparently, bank cheques are treated as normal cheques and have to be cleared. Far out. It wasn’t that long ago they were treated as a cash equivalent.

    “got her money out of a European country because it was no longer possible”. If memory serves me correctly, back in 2008 a lot of your countrymen had apparently deposited funds in banks in Iceland seeking higher rates of return. An exciting prospect that one, and not a gamble I would have taken, but you know people do what they want.

    Oh no. I’m hearing stories on the building front. Not good. As a comparison we’re very old school and did things as properly as possible – with a view towards the building going the distance. I’d be happy if the house was still in use in a century’s time, and I see no reason why that outcome may not eventuate. We’d had quite a bit of experience with repairing Victorian era timber buildings, and they lasted pretty well.

    Out of curiosity, why don’t the doctors move to a different building? Surely there is at least one suitable vacant building in the area?

    Ooo! Are you considering saving those four large seeds and finding out what grows? You never know with tomatoes.



  31. Hi Lewis,

    I have passed on your book recommendation to the Editor and it has piqued her interest. She is looking into the book further and thanks you for the recommendation. Fabric is a fascinating topic and the materials match the technologies, energy and culture. A bit of background colour does no great harm, and can possibly even put some of the authors work into context. Dunno, but I accept your opinion as you are more widely read than I. Alas, woe is me due to limited available hours in the day.

    I’ve probably mentioned this to you before, but most of my reading gets achieved during either a morning cafe interval (if I can somehow manage that feat) and at lunch. Lunchtime for me is reading time, and why not combine two hobbies: food and reading? Very pleasant, and you’d be amazed at the technology we employ to keep pages open whilst maintaining free hands with which to shovel food up my hungry maw! 🙂 That’s an especially difficult problem in windy conditions when eating lunch outdoors. The future belongs to the adaptable.

    If I had not made myself clear the other day, I really appreciated your perspective on putting down a book before completion. You hit the core issue, which I had not even known had been programmed into my head. I now wonder who put that thing there. Hmm. Anyway, reading is a joy, and it can be difficult, but arduous? Unwise to push, best for people to find their own path, and you really nailed that aspect.

    Mate, that is happening with labour shortages I agree, but it is also happening where there are no degreed management class, and with people I know to be alright employers. I don’t really know what to make of it all. But I am seriously cogitating upon this most strange of subjects. The whole situation is weird.

    We picked up the replacement Dirt Rat this afternoon. The Editor is solely responsible for sorting out this matter in under two weeks (from commencement of discussions on the subject). There is a wait list for up to six months you know, so it was no small feat. Sometimes the universe chucks you a solid and you have to run with the opportunity presented. We don’t muck around on that front.

    Interesting. I’ll forward the series recommendation to the Editor for road testing. It actually looks good.

    I tend to believe that cash will be around for a long while to come. The crypto thing never really made much of a splash down here in my opinion in the rough and tumble day to day world of buying and selling stuff. Certainly I couldn’t go to the local general store for a coffee and send some mail if all I had to pay was crypto. Interestingly, within the past few days I had an experience where the card swipee machine at a business was somehow malfunctioning. The call went out: “Can you pay cash?”. I could pay cash, dunno about the others. I had this very amusing memory at the time from the very politically incorrect film Airplane! “Oh, I can speak Jive!” So very wrong, but a lot of laughs. The poop literally hit the fan at one point in the film. Kind of hard to forget.

    Those particular beetles are not a good sign for the trees. Hopefully the things flying around at sunset are bats (that’s the time you can see them here) as they’ll consume plenty of insects. Well, sorry to say, but people are very free and easy with insecticides and there is a cost for that. During summer, the place here jumps with insect life – you can even hear them there’s so many. In the big smoke, it kind of looks dead to me on that front and nobody seems to notice. The birds around during that time are generally scavenger birds, or fruit eating birds, but insect consuming birds I’ve noticed are generally smaller, and I don’t see them there. Yeah, it’s a problem.

    So sorry to hear that about Elinor. I dunno man. Time has an awful way of sorting out things, and who knows it’s all speculation until matters get more settled for Elinor.

    Dude, humour me. We don’t buy much processed food, but rarely does a week go by when the supermarket bill doesn’t exceed $100. How people are getting by is something of a mystery. And the shortages, I had an interesting chat to the car bloke today and asked what might be the fate of the old Dirt Rat. It’ll go up for auction and may be sold as is, or parted out. Then he made an interesting comment about how hard parts are to obtain these days. One of the reasons for replacing the Dirt Rat, was that parts are actually harder to obtain and at least a newer vehicle may have many trouble free years of operation before requiring parts. The supply of older parts is not necessarily guaranteed either nowadays. Things be strange. Yup, life on life’s terms.

    That’s the case here too with the arts and crafts aspects of shows. That’s what I experienced too with the show stand. A lot of talk, very little action. I tend to believe that such things are but a moment in time, and in the meantime I’m getting my house in order. What else do you do? Far out, I can’t make people interested in this stuff when they’re well fed, despite the increasing expense.

    A trophy dog! Go H! 🙂 She’d love having short hair, and will grow out well before it gets too cold.



  32. Yo, Chris – I usually do my reading in the late evening. I might watch some DVD’s, and then read til my lights go out. 🙂 Some evenings, I just read.

    Go new Dirt Rat! Hmmm. Maybe a bit of the speed at acquiring the new vehicle was due to the cash aspect of the sale? Dealer might have appreciated a large cash infusion, at this particular time? One thing about car parts, these days, is that the Net has eased the distribution of used parts. When Frank the Mechanic was looking for a new hood for my truck (when I hit the deer … or, the deer hit me), he found a perfect match in Arizona.

    I saw an article last night, that our State is going to ban new gas car sales by 2035. Several other States are doing the same. Subject to change, if the party in power, changes. On the other hand, car manufacturers are following along. Right next to that article was one on breaching some of the dams on the Columbia, and it’s tributary, the Snake River. Where our hydro power comes from. What is wrong with this picture?

    “Good Karma Hospital” is a good mix of drama and comedy. Hmmm. I wonder if there will be a 5th season? Might be. It’s pretty popular. But, I was watching the “extras”, last night, and had forgotten it’s filmed in Sri Lanka. Might be problems filming there, at this time.

    “Can you pay cash?” The way I understand it, a lot of the big chains don’t even have cash drawers, anymore. And it’s all tied into their inventory systems. But the local stores are more … nimble.

    Oh, I’m sure H feels better getting rid of that burden of fur. The last time around, when she went a bit too long, I really believe she was beginning to show some behavioral problems. I may have to try and break her into putting up with my hair clippers. It would sure save me a lot of money.

    We’re getting a food box, this morning. Then I think I’ll run out to the fruit stand, and pick up another flat of blueberries. I sorted the freezer, last night, and have a better idea of where I stand. So far, 3 gallons left over from last year and 12 from this year … but they’re “light.” And, I can’t remember how many gallons I had in the freezer, last year. Have noted it on the calendar, this year.

    The heat finally broke, last night. It’s quit pleasant, today. I watered last night, but can skip the morning watering. The cooler periods seem to be getting longer, and the hot periods, shorter. But it still doesn’t feel like fall.

    I’m still slogging through that big book on supply chains. Skimming through most of the history part … as in, how did we get here. More interested in what it may look like, in near future. I’m also reading a book about domestic terrorism. Does not make for comfy reading. Lew

  33. Hi Chris,
    You a tougher soul than I having your coffee outside. Good to hear you had a day off though I’m thinking you need more. Our coffee shop in town almost closed due to an unfortunate financial situation for the owners not of their making. Luckily a regular customer decided to take over the business. My old book club used to meet there. It’s very cozy and no TV screens! There’s always a jigsaw puzzle set up on one of the tables.

    You are lucky to have dark skies. We are far enough away from any larger town that we enjoy pretty dark skies though there’s still a glow from some of the smaller towns to the south east and southwest.

    I’ll be interested to see how your transplanted trees do. We have many small oaks and hickories coming up thanks to the squirrels. People ask if they can be transplanted but it’s doubtful that it would be successful as the root system developed much faster than the trunk.

    I wrote this up yesterday at my other regular volunteer job at the used bookstore. It was pretty quiet so I had a chance to catch up on your blog and the comments. This morning when I arrived to open the key was missing from the lockbox (we’re located in a small mall). I called one of the managers who it turns out had accidently taken the key home. The key didn’t arrive until 10 AM, the actual opening time. Normally it’s pretty quiet at first but not so yesterday. There were two customers waiting. A few weeks ago we had a leak from the floor above and ended up having to move many of the books and bookcases out into the office across the way and the hall until the carpet can be replaced. This also happened on my day. Seems Thursdays are the days for mishaps at the store.

    Received another .8 inch of rain yesterday so we’re now over 8 inches for August so far. Japanese and corn borer beetles have finally started to diminish.


  34. @Lew
    I’m very sorry to hear about Elinor.


    The situation where you live must be very unnerving. I’m very sorry.


  35. Chris,

    Seriously, thanks for your concern for us. It helps. Yeah, shut up and listen is NOT easy. Especially for those of us problem solving types. So I’m viewing it as a challenge to learn a new skill. 🙂

    Yup, I’ve seen the Northern Lights many times. We had some spectacular displays here in the 1980s. One such, in August 1982, lasted several hours. They were also visible most nights after dark when we lived in Fairbanks, Alaska, unless it was snowing or raining. Hereabouts they are usually whitish to pale green, but in Fairbanks they were various colors. Fun stuff to see.

    The museum I worked at was in a building that was left over from the 1974 World’s Fair. After the fair it had housed some kind of theater thingy. Another guy and I were tasked with exploring the place and obtaining what might be salvaged and used in our exhibits. That was a great job, as we found all sorts of hidden alcoves, secret passages, hidden ladders to that led to the catwalks near the very high ceiling. I took full advantage of these passageways, often appearing where I was least expected, to my amusement and the discomfiture of my coworkers. Or disappearing and avoiding the Nasty Big Boss whenever said person was on site.

    Of course! The Princess gives wonderfully related accounts of events and observations from her travels. We both get entertained that way.

    Thanks. The coffee routine is part of what keeps me sane and calm. It sorta helps counteract my innate tendencies as stated on my favorite T shirt, which says “I can’t keep calm, I’m Welsh.” Proper coffee routine is therefore required!

    No rain. Well, not here, other than just enough drops to smear dust onto cars and windows. About 15 km north of us got blasted with rain and flash flooding.

    I just read about a new restaurant in town today, “Indigenous Eats”. They mostly feature Native American frybread with toppings, aka Indian Tacos. I was informed that we are trying this for dinner tonight. I’ll let you know how it was.


  36. Hi Margaret,

    Winter days here are cold, but compared to your part of the world, they’re kind of mild. Think a temperature maybe around 42’F with a bit of wind, no sun and the constant threat of rain. It’s more of a perception thing than real hardship, but then people seem to have become accustomed to the expectation of feeling warm over the winter months.

    The day off was lovely. It was so needed. Had another day off any work today, and I feel the Chris batteries are slowly refilling. 🙂

    Your coffee shop sounds lovely, and no screens is a bonus. I tend to avoid eating at places with screens, as you may have noticed the things are distracting. I hope the book club hasn’t disbanded?

    The dark skies are a real bonus. I can see the town lights, but they’re many miles away and don’t seem to be intense enough to cast a glow which obscures the stars in the night sky. The stars put on a heck of show on cold clear winter nights. Over summer, the forest releases pollen and oils and the atmosphere gets hazier. But winter nights are superb. Light pollution isn’t all that great is it? Your towns tend to be bigger than the case down here. A roundabout was recently completed in the nearby town and it is an improvement over the former dangerous intersection.

    Mostly the transplanted trees do quite well. And that surprises me to hear that about oaks because I’ve relocated a number of them and they’ve all taken. Can’t say for sure why there would be a difference, but it possible that the acorns produce slower growing seedlings in the poorer soils found down under. Dunno. A mystery!

    Are you enjoying the volunteering with the used book store? I would find it to be enjoyable if it wasn’t too busy. Ook! Sorry to hear about the Thursday-itis problems with the store and can only but hope that the universe gets it out of the system early on and you then enjoy smooth sailing. Books and water don’t tend to mix.

    That’s a pretty wet month in anyone’s book. Is your garden turning into a jungle? Hope the drainage is OK?



  37. Hi DJ,

    🙂 No worries at all, the Editor likewise has a knack for resolving problems, and that’s a very valuable skill, but it’s not appropriate to use that particular tool in every occasion. Fortunately, discernment is also a good skill to employ and like everything in life gets better with testing over time. Who knows, one day we all might get good at this here thing called life. 🙂 Until then, the best we can all achieve is a muddling on through, and hope we don’t annoy too many people.

    Whoa dude! Fairbanks. And to think I’d thought that where you are now has cold winters, that’s just peanuts compared to… Brr! And it’s not far from the centre of the state. Whatever where you doing in Fairbanks? I sense a story there. The images of the northern lights incidentally look spectacular. Makes you grateful for the protection the planet provides to us critters.

    Mate, sometimes life throws you an enjoyable job, and the odds of getting a job where you get paid to explore a mysterious building, where aliens and/or armaments are most certainly not involved, must be at least one in a couple of hundred million? Excuse my poor mathematics skills if the calculation is out by several factors of reality. But far out, what a cool job.

    Hehe! Yes, it would be the Welsh side to you. 🙂 Funny stuff. I use the coffee in the early evening as a punctuation mark with work. Any discussions and / or plans which need to be made, get done then, and then no further will be entered into. We kind of have to compartmentalise our work, because accounting can do funny things to your brain and personality. Is this a good thing? Dunno, but do we want to find out – that is the core question here.

    Dust is sounding OK to me right now, what with all the mud and stuff. Still wet and damp here, but today the sun shone strongly and a t-shirt was enough for me, although compared to other people I did appear to be under-dressed for the late winter day. But no matter, think the mountains and forests where men are real men, women are real women, and fluffy’s are real fluffy’s! 🙂

    Yummo! Was the feed good? I probably would have gone with the chicken, but the gatherer option seemed equally appealing. Which did you choose?



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Late evening is a pleasant time for reading, the lack of noise reduces distractions whilst the sensitive reader can enjoy the words. I may not have explained that during the day reading involves perusing physical paper, whereas evenings are for catching up on interweb reading. Have you ever used an electronic reader like a what do they call them, err, kindles? Never used one and not sure whether it would alter the reading experience? Dunno. But then, there’s a school of thought that I’ve lived without such things this long, so probably unnecessary.

    It’s a real pleasure to be able to read up until the natural end point for the experience, although there have been some late nights over the years spent wondering what is going to happen next in assorted Stephen King books. Perhaps they were not quite written with restful slumber afterwards as a goal? 🙂

    That thought had occurred to me too. That cash issue was sorted out very early on. What interested me was that over the time, they came up with several reasons as to why they were unloading the car, and all of them could be true. What I did note was that being a manual gearbox, and having the date of the original registration, there weren’t many kilometres. It is possible that we were the only people to test the thing. I’d have to suggest that few people seek to own vehicles with manual gearboxes these days. It is possible the dealer made an error having one on hand as a demo. I was also wondering whether they were reducing their stock holdings with the economic ill-winds in mind?

    And yes, that is very true about parts being easier to obtain nowadays. It wasn’t all that long ago that obtaining parts meant a lot of ringing around and asking questions.

    Yes, maybe it was the deer? 🙂 I heard someone once make that claim about a pedestrian – and unlike you, in that case the person was being serious. An alarming thing to hear, and hope you’re never anywhere near them when they are in control of several tonnes of metal at speed.

    The ban makes absolutely no sense to me, but happy to watch whilst they give it a go. Two words: Good luck! I’d heard a similar ban was in place with small engines in the big state to the south of you. As a laugh, one of the mowers here has a 21hp engine. Converting that into an equivalent electric motor works out to be 16kW which if used continuously at maximum output for one hour is more electricity than I use most days of the year. Generally electric motors use a lot of electricity on start up, and then dial the demand down once in motion. However, it all sounds like a good idea, and may appeal to people, but the practical implementation of the policy may be difficult. Some houses down here have a 15A at 240V mains wall socket (yours will be higher amps, but at lower voltage) and using one of them, flat chat, I’m guessing will take about 5 hours to charge the battery for the beast of a mower. I don’t see that happening. Add too many of those on a grid and components begin to over heat before the magic smoke eventually pours forth.

    The picture is perhaps wrong. Sorry, I wish it were not so, but my gut feeling is not good.

    Yikes! There was a lot of news from that country recently, and then not much. Our gobarmint is suggesting to reconsider travelling there. Hmm. The news I’m reading about there is not good.

    Those inventory systems would be monsters, but the thing is, without the computers automatically running the inventory reordering process, those businesses probably couldn’t operate the really giant box stores. No human or group of humans could manage such a task as keeping one of the behemoths inventory on an even keel. I tell ya what weird is. I hear of shortages for this and that, from all manner of sources. Went to a big box hardware today, and it looked well stocked and there was plenty of customer activity. The shortages are not equally distributed, that’s for sure. This is another one of those issues which is just weird.

    Weren’t you having troubles even getting the services of a dog groomer? I have this vague memory of long wait times. Unless you hair clippers are super sharp and super strong, I doubt they could be used. The dog clippers which get used are quite powerful and sharp machines. Dunno. We tried clipping the dogs ourselves many years ago, and it really is a tough job. You can use sharp hairdressing scissors and get good results if you’re careful.

    How long do the blueberries keep in your chest freezer? Writing it down is a good idea – who can remember all of this stuff?

    I’m curious to hear what the book has to say about the ‘how did we get here’ question? I have a hunch the interest rate hike in the early 1990’s was introduced to push the financialisation of the economy and reduce the other sectors. Before that time, we manufactured more goods locally, and there were less options on all fronts. Doesn’t seem like much of an improvement to me.

    Had a good catch up with mates today. We discussed Europe among other related things.



  39. Hi Pam,

    Many thanks, and we don’t muck around. Sandra did the hard yards working out this problem. I on the other hand, asked for help and sorted out a lot of the admin activities required to get the process done. A team effort.



  40. Hi Chris,
    Yes, that book club has disbanded but then half of them rarely read the books. I had joined another one right before the lockdown – went to one meeting. About 9 months ago I hooked up with it again. This one reads the books though some of the choices wouldn’t be on the top of my list but some have been pleasant surprises.

    I do enjoy the bookstore and specifically picked a weekday to work. Saturday’s can be quite crazy. I’ve been there about a year now. This store is run by the same group that does the recycling drives and their office is right across the hall. After my back got so wonky I decided I’d pass on recycling and do the bookstore instead.

    The corn borer beetles have really done in some of my plants. The tomatoes had been pretty safe but with all the rain any little split will attract the beetles and soon the tomato is toast at least my big tasty heirlooms. The cherry and roma tomatoes are doing OK.

    That was fast work on the car – congrats.


  41. Yo, Chris – Well, that was weird. I started to post a comment, it blipped and disappeared. Once more, into the breach …

    I caught a tomato thief, this morning. One of the newer Ladies. She’ll make fine compost 🙂 . I explained the finer points of community garden etiquette, to her.

    Food box was pretty good. Eggs, frozen ground beef, and some frozen sliced ham. Peanut butter. Cereal. Tinned beef/tomato/dumpling soup, baked beans, mixed fruit, a tin of salmon, a package of pasta, A few tins each of different veg. All things considered, not a bad box. Oh, and some small packets of dried cranberries. Etc.

    The food box came a bit late, but then I hot footed it out to the fruit stand. Stocks were low. Don’t know if it’s because I was a bit later, or, if the end of the season is in sight. I already have the first batch, in the bags. Second batch has been washed, and is drying out in a colander.

    Dogs have their moods. Yesterday, who knows why, H was very … clingy. Usually, she sits by my side at the computer, but yesterday, she wanted to be in my lap. When I’m in my chair, in the evening, she’s usually on and off. Not last night. She usually gets off the bed and wanders around, at night. Not last night. Maybe she’s having second thoughts, about her new “do?” Don’t know why she would. Everyone who sees her tells her how great she looks. Goes right to her head.

    Interesting article in the local paper … about flying saucers!,298903

    Yup. We started the whole thing.

    A few days ago, Interstate 5, just north of us was closed for 14 hours. A semi-truck hit a bridge pillar. Driver was killed.

    And, it was closed for 5 hours, yesterday. Due to a brush fire, and the smoke was blowing across the freeway. Seven fire companies were called out, and they knocked it down in 5 hours. It had spread to 14 acres. It’s the 4th fire in that general area, in the last month. They think they may have a firebug.

    That freeway is a fragile link, in our supply line. Once you get out in the country, there aren’t that many detour possibilities. Lew

  42. Happened again. Started a comment to DJ, and blip! gone!

    @ DJ – That restaurant sounds sooo good. We have an indigenous Lady, who comes to some of our Club potlucks. She sets up a fryer, and makes fresh fry bread. With raspberry jelly. Oh, my. Soooo tasty. Lew

  43. Hi Lewis,

    My reply to you yesterday ended up in the spam folder. That was a new one. I found the reply and restored it, but aren’t really sure why it ended up in the spam folder. No other comment has ended up there – ever. Something new… Your comment was err, missing.



  44. Yo, Chris – Well, aren’t I special 🙂 . The comment I started that disappeared was something along the line of … “I’ll just sit in a corner and chew on my … elbow. 🙂 But it blipped out, and I decided it was a bit … raspy. I figured you just ran out of time, or, energy, and forgot to note that, too me. As they say in your part of the world … “No drama.” Lew

  45. Yo, Chris – Ooops! Forgot to reply to your reconstituted and resurrected epistle …

    I see there’s to be a new movie, “Mad Max Furiosa”. A prequel to “Mad Max: Fury Road.” The last one will be hard to top.

    E-book readers are another tech hard line, I have drawn. Even though the library keeps posting books only available on e-readers, I haven’t seen anything I can’t live without. And there’s still a lot of “real” books, available. King does know how to keep a plot moving along. I’ve often fallen for the old, “one more chapter” trap. And, next thing I know it’s 4am.

    You may be right about the manual gear box. And didn’t someone mention they’re harder to steal? Crims these days just don’t know how to work the gears. I wonder if hot wiring has also fallen into disuse?

    Some of those pedestrian claims, are true. Seems like poor lost souls are always throwing themselves under the wheels of buses or trains.
    Maybe my deer was depressed? 🙂

    There were times when at the library, the scanners would go down. To read the barcodes. Did we close the doors? No, we improvised. We wrote down the card number, and each bar code. Then entered them all back into the system, when it came back up. Although I’ll never forget the lady who just HAD to check out 45 items. Talk about writer’s cramp. Then some bright person discovered that we could open a Word document, scan in the card and barcodes. They still had to be re-entered, by hand, but it saved a lot of writer’s cramp.

    Yes, it was a long wait for the groomer. Two and a half months? They asked if I wanted to make the next appointment. But, I declined. Who knows how fast her hair is going to grow?

    How long do the blueberries last in the freezer? As long as it takes me to eat them 🙂 . Which is usually, just over a year.

    So. To the book “The End of the World is Just the Beginning.” I must admit I skipped the “Finance” section. You know … numbers. It runs from page 163 to 221. The chapter headings are: “Currencies: Navigating the Road Less Traveled”, “Adventures in Capital”, “Disaster is Relative”, “The End of More, Redux: Demographics and Capital”, “A Credit Compendium” and “Finagling Future Financing Failures.” The finance section kicks off with …

    “At the time of this writing, in early 2022, every country in the world has experienced financial crisis and market meltdowns multiple times in the post-Cold War era. If you think this is symptomatic of deep structural issues, you are right. If you think it’s all wildly unsustainable, right again! If you cannot fathom why the Chinese are able to develop so quickly, you are once again on the right track. And if you’re worrying about the collapse of the dollar … you’re not thinking nearly big enough.”

    There was another concept I found interesting. How technological innovation speeds up. The British were the tinkerers and innovators. But, say the mechanical weaving looms went through something like 17 improvements, before they were ready for prime time. Other countries picked up mature technology. To quote the book, “Instead of the seven generations it took to transform Britain or the four for Germany, the Canadians, Japanese, Koreans, Italians and Argentines did it in two and a half, while a group of advanced nation latecomers – Spain, Portugal, and Greece – did it in two.” Technological history, speeds up. I think that’s fascinating.

    Prof. Mass says it’s going to be a hot week. Upper 80s and low 90s. But he also says, that’s the last of the heat we’re gong to see, this year. I hope he’s right. I watered tonight, and picked what I hope is the last of the zucchini. 🙂 . Some for our community room, some to take to the Club. Lew

  46. Hello Chris
    I have no idea as to why they can’t find another building here for the surgery. It appears that they have spent a fortune on the temporary site in/out of town. There is only a limited bus service to it. Steps as access, so they have built an external glass lift!

    The 4 tomato seeds looked very undeveloped.

    A friend who does security, was called out at 3am to Carisbrooke castle where an alarm had gone off. He was on his own having to search through the castle in the dark with just a torch. He said that it felt very, very creepy.


    We are told that our electricity bills are 10 times higher than in the US!


  47. Hi Margaret,

    Who could forget the book club where half the members didn’t read the books – that’s called a social club in any other language! 🙂 Reminded me of a song from many years ago and the lyrics went something along the lines of: “ordered a hamburger without the meat – hey, that’s a salad roll”. Yes very droll. Books are a pleasure, but I’m surprised by how few people read for pleasure. Not sure what to make about that, but it probably always was that way. What do you reckon about that? I don’t recall my mother reading, but her parents did, and Sandra has a similar recollection. Her grandfather kept a book shelf full of the ‘classics’, and she has taken up the challenge of reading many of them. Jack London’s Call of the Wild was among that collection.

    Ah, well yes, taste can be problematic – I hear you about that. Hopefully they held off reading The Catcher in the Rye? 😉 Some people can get stuck on a theme with reading which can be annoying, but I tend to be all over the shop with topics. Hope the club works out – and it’s good to hear that they’re serious book worms.

    Margaret, I’d enjoy that work too. It would be fun, but smashed Saturday mornings might indeed not be as fun. Your recycling mob did some good work from what you were saying. I noticed recently that our local tip shop closed. How many lock downs could they endure – it would have been super rough on them.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that larger tomatoes provide a bigger target! 🙂 Good luck. Yay for the cherry and roma tomatoes – dunno what I’d do without them. And glad to hear that they’re working for you.

    Better run, gotta write.



  48. Hi Inge,

    That’s madness, a ramp is de rigueur for such a building. You’d think that would be obvious, but perhaps I expect too much. The local doctors here has both steps and a ramp. Hope the power doesn’t go out with the lift. Yikes, not how I would have arranged things. We have steps here, but when the dogs get really old I build them a ramp so that they can slowly trundle up and down. Probably need one myself one day if they’re any indication of where things can go.

    Ook! Seeds should look full before saving. Oh well, I’m guessing the pollen added extra vigour to your other tomato plants, but always worth experimenting with the seeds.

    That would be very creepy indeed. It’s let out for holiday rentals. 🙂 Cool. It’s a great looking castle and the fortifications are intriguing. I particularly thought well of the draw bridge across the ditch. A wise addition along with the bastions. The history suggests that the castle was never taken.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    I’m guessing that the issue with the comment may have been due to the ability to edit your comment plug in. It’s possible, but also yesterday some tiresome Swedish dude was trying to hack the site. Those Vikings were pesky back in the day, and they continue to be so today. This blog is hardly worthy of a Stieg Larson novel is it? There’s a lot of people in that part of the world, and probably there are more than can be supported by the diminishing energy supplies – a situation they can largely blame upon their own actions, but might not.

    Tomato thieves may be as dire as Orchid thieves – just sayin… 🙂

    The food box does sound like a good score. Did you take much down to the Club? Your cranberries always fascinate me because they are so infrequently seen down here – due to growing in such damp conditions. I’m guessing that the end of your fruit season is in sight is what it means. In a few days it will soon be Spring here, so that means that your days are getting shorter and you know, plants don’t much like that.

    Today was a delightful day which peaked for a few minutes at 63’F before then feeling the winter challenge and retiring from the field. Lovely to feel the warmth of that huge thermonuclear fireball in the sky. I used a very long pole chainsaw to cut out vast quantities of blackberries – which we then burnt off. Also two large and sort of old olive trees scored a massive haircut – like H did, but less neat.

    Or, H could be cold? Sorry for the brutal pragmatism. Before she may have wanted to do such things, but was over heating.

    Your military have probably long taken the piss out of citizens of your country by suggesting UFO’s as a credible alternative to advanced testing of secret advanced flying aircraft. Funnily enough I was reading about your B2 bombers the other night, and it was hard to avoid the awful awfulness that diminishing returns to technology must have been reached. On the other hand I was rather fond of the UFO / extraterrestial explanation. It sure would add some interesting times, but mostly they’d be bad news. Who can forget the Predator film? And congrats for starting it all!

    It was hard to avoid those links, but yeah, if it happens repeatedly then you’d got a problem. Up to Christmas day 2014, that was happening to the south of here. What a nuisance.

    What made Max Mad, that’s the question? Given the premise, you would never have imagined the original film could have reached the heady heights it did. Dunno, but it was kind of like technology run amok, that’s what the gangs were in the film. They weren’t tough, just crazy, and they used technology to dominate. Might have been some sort of commentary on society? Who knows? Maybe that’s our version of Dawn of the Dead? What do you reckon, is that a long shot theory?

    I hear you bro, I too have drawn that line in the sand and was curious about your perspective. I like the feel of books and knowing that the energy is spent and there’s no more to be spent in the enjoyment of them. The perspective may be a bit anachronistic, but who cares? 4AM endings, yes, been there too. A real page turner.

    Hot wiring! A bonkers possibility and I have doubts they could do it, but the manual gearbox would be a deal breaker for the casual. So many computers… The new Dirt Rat has even more computers than the old. The manufacturer sells a LITE model with lesser computers but the wait time for stock just killed that option (four to six months). It was this, or nothing, or deal with scalpers. Nah, the universe chucked us a solid and we acted.

    Hehe! Yeah, maybe you’re right. Man, I like how your brain works, but I’ve seen sulking animals, and grumpy animals, but depressed? Dunno about that one. Me thinks it is a human attribute, for depressed animals would soon get weeded out – like your deer. So you might be right after all. 🙂

    Now, I’m imagining you having to write out 45 bar codes for the lady who just had to have that many items. She knew! 🙂 Don’t they put a limit on the number of books a person could borrow? I recall that being a thing when I used to frequent libraries – always difficult for the aspiring book worm.

    The groomer question was probably there to assess whether H is a repeat customer. The business that cuts my hair does that, and they’re shoring up their future biz. It would be perhaps pretty hard on H to clip her during the winter months, but they may have wanted to do so for err, crass financial reasons.

    I must say, that is a deft use of the word ‘finangling’ which lends itself to the use of dodgy financial policies. Hmm. Holy carp, what a quote. Hope the author is wrong, but maybe not. We’re due for a financial crisis. History suggests that we moved from agriculture to manufacturing to financial and probably back to a weird quasi manufacturing before returning to agriculture again. It’s sure been a fun ride.

    Sure, it speeds up, but there are diminishing returns, and who sells the machines required to speed things up? There’s a story there.

    Hope it cools off for you soon. It’s warming here, that’s where your sun is headed. Hopefully it gets hot enough to ripen tomatoes this growing season – the storage is nearing the awful ’empty’ zone.

    Better get writing! And hope the comment gets through. One more stuff up and I’ll start removing add ons to the core software.



  50. @ Margaret & Pam etc
    Sorry all. my comment to Lew about our electricity costs as opposed to those in the US, should have been addressed to all of you.


  51. Yo, Chris – I ended up taking about three bags, down to the Club for the pantry. Actually, four, all things considered. I’m taking in some frozen meat, this morning. Some zucchini I harvested, last night. Some tinned stuff I was holding back on.

    I think I’m done with the zucchini. I cut up a lot of the stems and leaves, last night. Very zen 🙂 . I’ll work that into the soil of that bed. Along with some leaves and kitchen scraps.

    Cranberries are a big industry, on both our coasts. They dry enough that they’re pretty much available, all year round. Fresh are hard to find, except in the fall. I usually make some freezer jam, out of the fresh.

    You could be right about H feeling more cold, now. I hadn’t thought of that. She really cranks out the heat. The groomer knows she’s a repeat customer, as, she’s in the computer.

    If I remember correctly from the original Mad Max, Max was mad because some roving band killed his wife and kid. And I think he was some kind of law officer. So, basically, a low tolerance for crims.

    Yup. You take what the universe sends (or, provides). Trucks … dogs … 🙂

    I don’t know if it still holds true, but it used to be the limit on number of books checked out was 50. That’s also the limit of the number of holds you can have on your hold list, at any one time.

    So, you’re face to face with the Starving Time. Enjoy the global supply chain, while you can. There’s also a large section in the book, on agriculture. And a large chunk on oil.

    Took H out for her walk this morning, and there was a squirrel in the pear tree. The crowd (well, H) went wild. Only has four pears on it, that I can see. I’ve got my eye on them. Lew

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