Stranger Days

Ordered an attachment for one of the farm machines last week. The machine is super awesome, and we use it around here all of the time. And who knew that it’s got a useful attachment? We wants the attachment, my precious! However, before putting in the order, it seemed like a wise idea to contact the distributor and see whether they actually had any of the machine attachments in stock. Turns out that they did. A person can never be too sure about supply issues in these enlightened days.

The order was placed, but the freight cost was err, interesting. The attachment itself cost $550, whilst the freight cost was an astounding $245. And the thing is only coming from the large city in the state to the north of here. Oh well, if we wants the precious, we pays the freight cost!

I’d noticed last week at the local petrol station (gas station in US parlance), diesel fuel was listed as $2.40 per litre. That’s an eye watering $9.12 per gallon. If you want something trucked from point A to point B, then diesel fuel is what gets used. It’s useful stuff but it’s also a finite resource. It is worthwhile noting that Australia uses more energy from diesel fuel alone than from electricity, any day of the year. A sobering thought. And seeing that particular fuel at such high prices is kind of exciting, in like a really bad way.

Beats me, serious people suggest that we can somehow replace super useful energy sources like diesel fuel, with electricity. They don’t understand just how much of the stuff we use every single day. Words are cheap, people want to believe the words, and regardless, here we are today with bonkers expensive diesel fuel. The high price acts like a giant big tax on the economy. The economy after all being the thing where people work to obtain the resources to keep the rain off their heads at night, the lights on, and food upon the table. It’s not asking much…

Economists would suggest that rising prices indicate that demand for whatever it may be, exceeds the supply of that stuff. But then the story gets all weird because in the past two decades, the money supply has doubled, and then doubled again. And the ballooning of the money supply has occurred elsewhere in other countries, to an eerily similar extent. So, if you’ve got double the currency in circulation, then you double it again, and yet there’s only the same amount of stuff to purchase – for sure the stuff is going to cost more. How could it not? But if at the same time the supply of stuff declines, or demand for it increases, you’re suddenly in a world of economic hurt. And here we are today.

That’s what decline looks like to me. There’s stuff to be purchased, but it’s going to get more expensive, and we’ll run short, long before we run out. It’s awful, but it isn’t nearly as awful as some of the scenarios one or two of my mates suggest are likely. I don’t necessarily subscribe to such views.

It was uncomfortable watching the housing bubble begin inflating away back in 1997. The thought that this won’t end well, was never far from my mind. By 1999 the reality of the ever inflating balloon was inescapable and so we’d made the leap to what might now be described as a politically very ‘green’ inner northern suburb of Melbourne. That’s where the sort of people live, who in these enlightened days, suggest we can use electricity as an energy source for everything, like they’d know. I’ve got some bad news for them. For the two of us though, that leap meant living in a Victorian era 1890’s terrace house which from most peoples perspective, wasn’t habitable. At least there was one power point and single hot and cold water tap, and a few floors.

It was a filthy house, and in some rooms only the six rotting layers of carpet held the floor together. But we fixed the house up whilst correcting the issues which caused it to be in such a dismal state of disrepair using our own sweat equity and skills. Then by 2008, we bailed out of the city and headed bush. Apparently the money supply has been doubled and then some since those days.

As to what might happen next on an economic front, I don’t really know. It astounds me that the economic policies have worked as well as they have for the past quarter century. But right now, with inflation (rising prices) being what it is, I’d have to suggest that there are diminishing returns to any policy. Plus, resource and energy depletion is always nipping at the economic heels.

The thing is, I’d have to suggest that increasing poverty across society is hardly an apocalypse, although to many people accustomed to more, it may feel that way. But then that economic state isn’t one of my fears. I grew up in a poor household, and despite everything, we got by just fine. What we didn’t have was a lot of ‘stuff’, and we didn’t do a lot of expensive ‘things’. Even so, you still had friends, hobbies and purpose, and those are the things that are important. The other stuff, I can’t really be too sure about them. However, as a notable exception, I still do want that machine attachment, my precious!

Did the sun cause that rainbow?

This past week the spring sun finally peeked out from behind thick winter clouds and shone. Later in the week, it was even kind of warm. And there were a couple of days in a row where it didn’t rain.

Mostly it hasn’t been windy this year, but one day earlier in the week when the wind was blowing and we were working outside, a loud crack sound was followed by a crash and thud. A very large branch had broken away from an even larger tree. It would have been fatal to have been hit by the large branch.

A very large branch crashed to the ground

The tree which the branch fell from is huge and very old. The trunk still shows signs of the burn from the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfire, and it has awesome buttressing.

The branch fell from an even larger and older tree

And the wind toppled a decade old Manchurian pear. The trunk just snapped.

A decade old Manchurian pear tree snapped and fell in the wind

The suddenly warmer weather has prompted us to get the various growing areas ready for planting out. The seedlings are beginning to germinate and grow in the greenhouse. The growing season is now off and racing. We’ve begun creating a large fenced off vegetable and citrus area. The citrus trees are usually grown on dwarfing rootstock, and as such they are short and at the mercy of the wallabies (a smaller forest kangaroo with a destructive bent). Best if the trees were fenced off, and so we installed the corner posts and two gate posts for the new large enclosure.

Dame Plum supervises the work on the new citrus and vegetable enclosure

Once the cement for the two gate posts had cured, we installed two 6ft wide farm gates and added a further two posts so as to be able to close the gates.

Two gate posts were installed on the new vegetable and citrus enclosure

Long term, once the rest of the fencing has been constructed, we’ll add a proper irrigation system, but in the short term, we just need a very long garden hose with which to water the plants in the new enclosure. A tap (spigot in US parlance) and hose holder was added.

Just downhill of the greenhouse a tap and hose holder was installed

Observant readers will note that in the above photo on the left hand side, there is a timber staircase leading up between the long shed and the greenhouse. Further uphill there is a concrete staircase between the two sheds which is now under construction. With a bit of sunny weather and a brief reprieve from the rain, we were able to set two further cement steps into the concrete stair case. One more to go!

Two further cement steps were created in this concrete staircase leading uphill

The slowly drying cement has to be protected from all of the birds and animals living on the farm. All of them, including the dogs love immortalising their signatures in curing cement. But do I want to see the scrawl ‘Parrot was ‘ere’?

Regular readers will recall that last week we added a larger access gate to the sapling fenced enclosure which gets used to grow pumpkins and leeks. Some sections of the sapling fence needed to have the saplings replaced with much longer saplings. And that job was done.

The saplings on the uphill side of the gate were replaced with longer saplings

The reason the new gate was installed last week was because access to the enclosure had been difficult. And as such, the enclosure had been poorly maintained. This week, we mulched up all of the weeds which had taken hold in there, and then used the scary old rototiller to turn the whole lot back into the soil. The soil in that enclosure is some of the best on the property. I don’t advocate tilling soil often, but sometimes you need to do so.

This enclosure has some of the best soil on the property

For a year or two we’d had an idea to set aside an area on the farm to grow vines, particularly hop vines and black passionfruit which can be a bit weedy. Getting time to turn the idea into a reality has been difficult. However, last week we planted out three hops vines, and this week we added two seedling passionfruit vines and provided them with a sturdy steel structure to climb upon.

An area has been set aside to grow hops and passionfruit

Tuesday was a public holiday, so we had a bit of extra time and were able to bird proof the greenhouse. The parrots living at the farm know every trick, and they are best defeated using steel mesh. There were a few areas around the roof of the greenhouse where air needs to enter, and birds can no longer enter.

Steel mesh was installed near to the roof of the greenhouse to keep birds out

Here’s one of the varieties of parrots now – A king Parrot in a Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste).

A king parrot in a Tree Lucerne

Inside the greenhouse are a number of strawberry plants in a raised bed, and the soil around the plants was mulched with sugar cane mulch. Some diatomaceous earth was also added to discourage critters which probably want to eat the berries. Everything loves strawberries!

Ollie inspects the strawberry plants looking for ripe tasty juicy berries

One of the earliest berries to ripen here are the Black Currants, and we use them to produce a very tasty country wine. Probably good for you too, as long as nobody tells the puritans. Party poopers!

Slowly ripening Black Currants

Onto the flowers:

Not grown for the flowers, but the Kale produce a delightful effect
Some of the flowers are understated like this Horse Chestnut
The orchards are full of flowers at the moment thanks to the Apples
Not much is as showy as the Rhododendrons
And Rhodies get even more showy

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 1,225.0mm (48.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,210.8mm (47.7 inches)

38 thoughts on “Stranger Days”

  1. Yo, Chris – You didn’t know there was an attachment for the Awesome Farm Machine? Didn’t you get the memo? I got the memo. Why didn’t you get the memo. Was it something you did? Or said? 🙂

    If our gas hit $9.12 a gallon, there would be rioting in the streets. Gas riots. As opposed to the other kind of riots. And why do they call it “gas,” when it’s a liquid? So many questions …

    I hadn’t heard anything about the rise in diesel prices. Haven’t seen anything in the Main Stream Media. So, I took a look in the rabbit hole. Oh, there are articles. But looking at the sources, they’re way out on the fringes of the MSM. Probably stuff they run at 3am, when they’re trying to fill air time.

    Yes, you’d think people would be happy just to keep a roof over their heads, to keep the rain off (and not leak through and set off fire alarms), the lights on (not all those other gizmos) and food on the table. The less said about the quality of food, the better.

    A slowly (or not so slowly) eroding life (or lifestyle) doesn’t mean that what’s left isn’t engaging, and, maybe, occasionally beautiful.

    A little sunshine, and ya’all go crazy on the work front. It may have rained, a bit, this week, but you really cranked it out.

    As he sits under the tree that shed a huge branch. “This is our last picture of Chris. He looks so happy. And, unconcerned.” But worse, your endangering your dog! The Dog Endangering people, will be on to you. Hash tag “dogs in danger.”

    It’s odd the pear just snapped off. Any theories? Are they that brittle? Was it maybe, at a graft point?

    Nice gates. There must be an ear worm for gates. Nothing comes to mind. Something with a good beat that you can dance to. 🙂

    What would we do without chicken wire? I wonder how the supply of that is holding up. Might want to stock pile a bit of the stuff. I bet the machine that weaves it, is really interesting.

    The enclosure soil looks really nice. And, it appears Ollie finds it very tasty!

    The flowers, as usual, are very beautiful. They do dress a place up! Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    You’re right, I should have paid more attention to the memo. Gosh darn it, it’s hard to be humble. 🙂 After all the hoop-la, I forgot to even mention what the attachment was, it’s a plough blade attachment for the four wheel drive power wheelbarrow. I’ve got a job for that machine, and hopefully it works. The truth is, I have no idea whether the blade attachment will be any good.

    Haven’t you lot got more than your fair share of riots? No need to go seeking additional excuses. The current model of your truck here would take just shy of $200 to fill up with diesel at that recent price. Ouch! You’d kind of imagine that the word ‘Petroleum’ sounded a little bit too English for your compatriots. Down here we’re almost 90% dependant on imports of that liquid stuff with minimal reserves, and yeah, that’s not a pretty story.

    Those dudes at CN whatever, may have the right of the story. As a fan of the Dexter books by the author Jeff Lindsay, I’d have to suggest that the character Deb, would describe the current situation as a ‘Storm of F!@k!’, and who can argue with such wisdom? What stood out to me from the article you linked to was that the storage reserves are the same now as they were in 1951, albeit marginally higher. Manufacturing and maintaining fuel tanks is no small commitment. Trust me, I store water in plastic tanks which sit above ground level, and this stuff ain’t cheap. It’s just that the energy storages are so much lower per capita than they were 70 something years ago. Mark Twain called it about statistics. I would have enjoyed a quite ale or three with that bloke.

    Sorry, food quality is a major theme for me, but if people ignore that, it is no business of mine to correct their thinking. I’ve reduced the number of times I eat out in the big smoke because the quality of food has deteriorated and few people want to talk about that subject. No need to act the Galah!

    Exactly, when I was a kid, my mother, although wayward, forthright and an overall pain in the backside, had local friends who caught up at the local pub. And I recall that as a kid my older sisters took me to some festivals where my mum left me in their care, and we just wandered around occasionally getting a treat here and there but enjoying the spectacle, just like everyone else. In some ways a reduction in the grand gesture things in life, which will mean that we can refocus on the more important little things in life – which are frankly far more enjoyable.

    We went super-feral taken to eleven on the dial with work this week. Sometimes the times call for such a response.

    Hehe! Candidly I was mildly nervous about sitting and waiting for the Editor to take that photo of me sitting next to the huge old tree which had only recently shed a monster limb. Need we tempt fate, but I am insured… 😉 However, Dame Plum is not insured and so in future we must be more careful, with her at least!!!!

    Far out, the sunset this evening was epic. Took a few photos, and we’ll see how they turn out. The new second hand camera is actually better than the one it replaced, which was failing. The weather today was super weird. Monsoonal would be how I’d describe it. When it wasn’t hot and steamy, the heavy rain fell vertically. Mostly I did paid work, but also had to spend a few hours fixing up an urgent problem with the solar power system. Fixed that, but decided to re-program the four battery chargers so that they played better together, thus eliminating the urgent problem. Of course, by doing so it is likely I caused new and more interesting problems? Dunno, but I’m learning, and this renewable energy technology stuff is super complicated. And I’m trying to be very gentle with the gear.

    That’s a good question and I don’t rightly know what happened with the Manchurian Pear. I’ll mulch most of the smaller stuff up and turn the larger bits into firewood, but at the moment I can’t get near the breakage point in the tree. You’re probably right, the snap occurred at the graft, but right now I don’t know.

    Thanks, and yeah, there might be something. Hmm, let me think about this for a bit… … : “Weird Al” Yankovic – White & Nerdy

    We’ve got heaps of chicken wire, and the sturdier gauge, but I take your point. The fencing for the new large enclosure will hopefully use up a lot of the old wallaby proof tree cages which are no longer in use, but we’ll see. I’ve got a plan!

    Ollie is filthy with the stuff he’ll chuck down his gullet, and all of the fluffies also munch upon the soil. Oh well. They look pretty healthy so must know what they’re doing.

    Hehe! Hey, I always enjoyed the author Kim Stanley Robinson who introduces a surfer dude and dudette element to his sci-fi. Always fun. But yeah, if the clock is ticking, and there ain’t no tomorrow, going surfing isn’t a bad option. And I thoroughly enjoyed the movie ‘Point Break’, what a great film, and yes the waves sometimes do very occasionally get that big off to coastline over to the south west of here. But mostly Bass Strait looks pretty calm to me. As a young bloke I worked in the transport industry and yeah sometimes we lost containers over the side of ships in Bass Strait when the waves got up. Always exciting, and often uninsured… Cowabunga dude! 🙂 Yes, those amusing turtles, which I quite enjoyed (at least what I’ve seen).

    Oh my! What a rabbit hole, and I hardly know what to think. Hmm, if I may be so bold as to venture an opinion, art need not be so heavily constricted, which is after all what those earlier artists rebelled against, but it does have to work the public, communicate with people, or at least pay for its supper. I’m probably some sort of heathen for having suggested such an awful thing.

    I trust that you note that we have taken good care of the hour which you so kindly loaned us all those months beforehand. And far out, don’t you feel a bit of jet-lag for at least a week until things settle down?

    Good to hear that your weather is displaying signs of normality, which ours is most certainly not. 🙂 Hope the dams over in your part of the world get refilled this winter.

    I’ll mention the ‘chicken’ bit to the King Parrots the next time they decide to try and tell me off about the youth exuberances of Ruby. Swooped me tonight, just to get a proper whinge out of their green and orange pantaloon coloured chest.



  3. Hi Pam,

    Quiet time is a blessing.

    Found myself in a place,
    Found myself a voice,
    Had to do something,
    What to do,
    Don’t rightly know,
    Gotta do something,
    Maybe not,
    What to do,
    What to do.

    Blame DJ, he started the whole poem thing! 🙂 But of comparative interest to you, I’ve spoken to people who like wearing the masks because it shuts out the unfathomable world around them. I’m guessing they find stillness in that place.

    Pam, that’s an elegant solution to the deer deprivation, and down here it is always deer season, but few if any hunt. Generally someone around here sooner or later has had enough and then they do a cull. I doubt the meat goes to waste because a lot of things in the forest would consume it.



  4. diesel- I would imagine you are familiar with Alice Friedemann’s website where one of her central themes is that diesel is the Achilles heel of global commerce, and irreplaceable. Lots of correctives there to hopium dreams and the starry eyed march toward a solar powered green utopia.

    I know, too much to read as it is, but I’ll mention yet another sobering website, but it gives good understanding of the energy cost of energy, and the physical world underpinnings of the financial world. Helps with seeing the causality behind the weird ripples in the financial world, and the clueless responses in the political realm.

    Speaking of disrupted logistic chains, My little old hybrid is making death rattle sounds of late, so with trepidation, I have begun checking on replacements. Turns out that a plug in hybrid I was considering is three to four years out from order placement. I think EVs are not the way to go, but a plug in hybrid kind of keeps options as open as possible. Not sure what to do, and not looking forward to shelling out the big wad of mad cash required. We just live too far from town to bike or taxi.

    Just bottled up our third batch of cider, and the fourth is fermenting, and soon to be ready. It’s been a huge year for apples, and you never know what next year might bring. We still only were able to process maybe 30% of the yield.

    Will be husking and sorting the hazelnuts the next few weeks, getting to be too much for our hand processing. Time to retire to the lab and do some inventing.

    Please tell what job you have in mind for the plow attachment!

    As always, thanks for the reliable, steady newsletter from your side of the globe.

  5. Hello Chris
    I continue to be amazed at the amount of work that you get through and the neatness of everything.
    Had a phone call from a friend in the village, yesterday, to say that the water supply had cut off. I lost some pressure but that was all. However, I filled up some water containers in case. Thank goodness I did because, this morning, the tap water is the colour of pale tea. Not something that I have ever seen before.
    Re;- people who turn their deaf aids off. I have been told that the aids distort sound in an unpleasant manner.
    Rain and wind continue.


  6. Hello Chris,

    What a beautiful late springtime you have with all the budding trees and flowers and greenery. Up here, the gray is swallowing ever more of the garden and the mist takes us into her wet embrace.

    I think you are right on the money when it comes to printing of the stuff. It ain’t right and nobody is looking for the brakes. We are accelerating all the way to the end of this currency cycle. It seems like the highest bank functionaries are intentionally trying to make 2023 look like 1923, just for the symmetry of it all.

    Governments all over Europe are “compensating consumers” for high energy bills. First we let the market take over our energy provisioning, and now that “the market” does not do what the politicians/populists want, they shower the public with their own tax money. As if that helps.
    It does not stop inflation, in any case.
    Are you also into that kind of madness, or do you do it in a different way, down under?

    I also got an implement this week, so I have to brag. Mine is more expensive than yours. A “rotary plow”.
    Or should I be ashamed of using up our planet’s last resources for a “work saving device” that I have to work a couple of days of paid jobs to earn? It will also need hours of servicing in the years to come, much more than an equivalent shovel. But it is quite attractive and orange. I couldn’t resist the temptation. I saw a video of the awesome dude Jean-Martin Fortier with this implement and I want to be as cool as him. I guess.


  7. Yo, Chris – Near $800 (including shipping and handling) for an attachment for “A” job? Oh, well. I suppose you can move around the massive amounts of snow, you often get. Or bust up the sod of the prairie, in the lower part of your paddock. 🙂

    Re: Riots. You’d think we were French, or something. “To the barricades!!!” Tomorrow is election day. Ought to be interesting.

    I thought it was all settled, but we may have a railway strike, in the wind. Yes, I noticed that about the reserves being so low. Why did King’s Trashcan Man, come to mind?

    Other peoples choices in food quality. I think I mentioned making a decision to not “censor” what I take down to the Club, for the pantry. Very little of it is stuff I’d eat, but, what other people eat is there lookout. As there were no tomatoes on offer, from my garden, I bought a couple from the grocery, the other night. I wanted another salad. Well, compared to our efforts, they were ghastly. Even my fairly dead taste buds noticed the difference.

    I don’t think Twain ever had a quiet ale. 🙂

    We’re having scattered showers, today. Instead of the weather radar being a solid green (rain), it’s scattered green patches. Oddly, it was a steady 39F, all night. But tonight, it’s supposed to be ten degrees colder. Well below freezing. We’re having a few nice days, and it will give me a chance to start cleaning up the garden.

    I don’t quit make the connection, between the Weird Al song, and garden gates. LOL, I did notice a number by him called “Amish Paradise,” in the side bar. Very funny. But I did find this …

    About 8 minutes long. Nice English folk music with some knock out gardens. Speaking of art, watch for the portrait by Benjamin West. He was active in the 1700s. What’s interesting about his story is, he was a colonial, born in Pennsylvania. Went to the Mother Country and made a name for himself.

    I suppose you’ve heard that Daniel Radcliffe is in a new bio-pic about Weird Al. Reviews are pretty good, as the whole project doesn’t take itself very seriously. Wouldn’t expect it to, given the subject.

    The hour arrived safely, with some minor banged up corners. Not your lookout. Shippers can be so careless. 🙂 I treat everything in my apartment, with gentle care. Faucets, blinds, doors. Unlike our building manager, who managed to rip down my bedroom blinds. Silly cow.

    Now for a week or two, everyone will be talking about doing away with Daylight Savings Time. It’s stalled in our House of Representatives. I suppose it’s been turned into a political football. I’ll vote for (almost) anyone who will put an end to the madness. Whoever they are, they’ll probably also make the trains run on time. 🙂

    Your parrots better get it sorted that you probably do more for them, than they do for you. There was an article the other day, about an owl attack, up around Seattle.

    I watched a new version, of “Death on the Nile,” last night. It’s from a book by Agatha Christie. I usually don’t like the Christie Poirot mysteries, as film. Something about that little mustache I find creepy. But in this version, Poirot is played by Kenneth Branagh, and he has a much more substantial mustache. More a Sam Elliot mustache. Goes down a lot easier. It was very good, and the ending a real stunner… well, spoilers. Lew

  8. Hi Lewis,

    I agree, the celebrity chef’s heart is in the right place and communicating something which desperately needs to be communicated to folks in western Europe – especially with the choices that part of the world has made of late. It’s funny, but a few weeks ago I ordered a spaghetti bolognese (spelt bolognaise down here) and there was a lot of tomato style sauce and little if any meat. I dunno, food runs on a similar curve to energy availability per capita, and as one declines, so to does the other. Put in an order for bulk oats, flour and grains today. To my mind the author was being a bit twee, as if it were a problem for other people.

    Well, maybe I didn’t quite represent the attachment correctly. We’re taking a gamble on it, it may work really well, or it could be a giant pile of unhappy dog poop. And there’s no way to try out the blade attachment first – anywhere around these parts that I’m aware of. Hehe! No sod busting here, well, maybe a little bit where there is a need to move some serious soil about the place. And there is a need, but can the thing do the job? Makes you wonder.

    We went to the pub for dinner this evening. It was quiet, a real locals night, which I quite enjoy. When we got home, there were a small herd of deer in the orchard. Hmm, not welcome. Cleared them off, and it is jumping with life out there tonight. I can hear a boobok owl hooting away. Hope the owl is rat hunting!

    Hope that there are no riots on your mid term election day, always an unpleasant experience. 🙂 And yes the French do set the gold standard for such things, but is anything actually achieved from such things? All of the protests about mandates for you-know-what, some of which were violent and involved err, non lethal projectiles, didn’t achieve anywhere near as much as the reality of getting a United Australia party representative for the state of Victoria in the Federal Senate. It takes a lot of annoyed people to achieve such an outcome given there are only six Senators for the state. And what a surprise, the strangeness died down almost immediately after that outcome. Do they normally hold your elections on a week day? I’d imagine that more people would vote if the election was held on a Saturday, as they do down here. Usually, Saturday’s are busy for me, so I tend to pre-poll vote. But the count is always done on a Saturday.

    The new battery charging program for the solar power system appears to have worked well. I was a little bit apprehensive today that there may have been awkward consequences, especially given the recent incident. Not good.

    True, imagine entrusting Trashcan Man to safeguard the strategic reserves? 🙂 Oops! Now, trashie, forget about that stuff we said to you earlier. That do’ mean nothin’. So what we want you to do is just keep an eye on all these tanks, and if you have any thoughts, well do the opposite of what ya’ thinkin’. Got it? Right, now let us know if there’s anything we need to know.

    It’s a good choice, if only because someone had gone to a bit of effort, rightly or wrongly, to produce the foodstuffs in the first place – no need for it to go to waste. And exactly, it ain’t up to you or I to monitor what other folks put in their mouths – no business of ours at all. Hehe! Yes, hardly surprising about the tomato, and you may notice that I have been banging on about this subject since at least the early 2000’s! 🙂

    Mr Twain would have been a very amusing dinner, and possibly also lunch companion – and he liked his dogs. I’d give him the big thumbs up!

    Oh gwad! Did it get below freezing? It was a delightful 79’F here today, with a monsoonal build up and thunderstorm. We couldn’t not have the rain, could we? The thunder was pretty loud.

    Amish paradise is pretty funny. As an intriguing side story, the guy Weird Al is parodying there carked it recently, and that guy had riffed off a Stevie Wonder song, who may also have been involved. A convoluted story. I saw a trailer for the Weird Al film, and Daniel Radcliffe is a good actor. He’s probably had to work super-hard to avoid being typecast. As you once amusingly quipped: Probably turns up on time, and knows his lines. 🙂

    I’ll check out the utoob later, the pub has lead to the awful awfulness of the mid-week hiatus.

    Sorry about the banged up corners on the returned hour, please don’t send an invoice for the damage as that may create an international incident and cause all manner of embarrassment.

    I must add here, that in reading the book ‘Jane Eyre’, it becomes blindingly obvious that the author and anticipated readers had a far better command of the English language than we do today. If anything, we’re rather brusque nowadays, by way of contrast.

    Was that one of the new blinds which were ripped down? With assistance like that, who needs enemies?

    The easy way to make the trains run on time, is to cancel all services. That’s how the Faerie folk would handle the request. 😉

    Owls are best left alone. The Editor once took a photo of an owl for research purposes for the blog, and she was quite unnerved when the owl turned and menacingly moved towards her. Yes, and people suggest those birds are shy and retiring. Hmm.

    Forwarded on your film recommendation to the Editor, and she is quite the fan of Agatha Christie books. Just between you and I, those books were the vehicle which convinced her that people are pretty much the same back then as they are nowadays. 🙂



  9. Hi Inge,

    Thank you, and last week there was a public holiday so we had a bit of extra time with which to get stuff done around here, but even by our standards, a lot of work was done last week. And neatness, thank you, and partly the outcome is a concern in relation to bushfires, but mostly we’re both preternaturally neat and orderly people. I find it very pleasing upon the eye. And there is a kind of neat wildness to the place, especially in the orchards.

    Good thinking. Yes, mud in the water supply mains is never something you want to experience. Incidentally, that can happen when reservoir supplies get very low during periods of drought and the pumps suck in mud. I’ve heard some people consume bentonite, which is a form of clay.

    Hearing aids are not something which I have any experience. Most certainly the electronics are really small so I’m not sure how good the sound quality would be. It is possible that may vary with the amount a person pays for the equipment? Dunno.

    Warm weather here, with monsoonal thunderstorms today.



  10. Hi Steve,

    Hehe! Thanks for the reference, but the undercurrents of your words say it all, and I agree. When I was reading upon the matter the easily missed line says it all: Australia uses more energy from diesel than from electricity. Now just try and get the same energy, but from electricity… Not… End… Well… 😉

    Mate, I went with the Editor to the pub for a pizza and a really tasty pint of sour ale (the brewer was White Rabbit) this evening. I’m not entirely certain that my brain could handle reading the surplusenergyeconomics blog after that! I dunno, mate, I began reading about Peak Oil way back in 2004, and apparently world peak conventional oil occurred in 2005. I’ve had a long time to come to terms with what the subject means, and we live our life accordingly. It wasn’t like the news was any great secret at the time. We now live in a time of decline, but in between the reduced standard of living whilst energy per capita declines, there’s still some tasty pizza and excellent beer to be consumed. That’s my general theory of energy. 🙂

    Oh man, that’s so not good, and you intimated as much back when I was writing about the awful awfulness of replacing the Dirt Rat Suzuki. We did a lot of reading about this subject and nobody really knows, but a good rule of thumb is that a car has an economic life span of about 250,000km to 300,000km (155,000 miles to 185,000 miles). Some might do better, some might do worse, but costs inevitably rise after this time and that matches our experience. This is perhaps why there is loose talk of older coal fired power stations getting nationalised – I’m guessing it’s letting the private owners off the hook for the near to end of life maintenance costs. I agonised over that subject before simply making the decision to do what we did. You have my understanding.

    That’s an amazing result! And apple trees are real givers. And be careful with this loose talk of 30%, I’ve got some parrots here…

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with in relation to the hazelnuts.

    My pleasure, and I too enjoy our chats.



  11. Hi Goran,

    Hey, given that you are closer to the coast, will that moderate your winters compared to where you used to be? It is further north at your new place. And the weather here is warm, and monsoonal – with thunderstorms and tropical downpours. Whatever happened to the temperate climate which used to be here?

    Thanks and exactly. And yes, that historical parallel was not lost on me either. Maybe the lesson needs to be relearned? Although you’d hope not. Between you and I, it is bonkers to continue increasing the supply, and then simultaneously trying to control the supply by increasing the cost of money (interest rates). It won’t end well, and dunno about your part of the world, but over the next year or so there will be plenty of people who roll out of fixed interest mortgages. Some of those have to reapply for new variable mortgages. A lot of pain…

    They’re talking about doing that down here too, although no details have been released. Down here we used to have some of the cheapest electricity on the planet, but people are perhaps conflicted about their reliance on coal and the ideology of what I’ve heard described as an ‘energy transition’. Not sure what that means (he says sarcastically). I’m unsure that people will like the outcome given the current crop of expectations, but failure is always a possible outcome. Time will tell how it will play out.

    No, we’re following a similar path, however of late the interest rate hikes have been slowed. So we are possibly heading in a different direction, although I’m not entirely certain – it may be because there is a state election later this month. The thing is, we have a lot of economically extractable coal down here, and other resources such as gas. I expect if the lights go out, change in mindset might be possible – but you and I know, there are also consequences to this outcome. I really don’t know, but I would not attempt this set of combined policies. It seems a bit mad.

    Well done you, and I used to be of a no-till mindset until I had a section of land with compacted soil deep ripped, then let it be for many years. Now, I’m a ‘sometimes till’ kinda guy – as I see you are too! It works, but not something to be overdone. All those horses which used to be in your paddocks would have seriously compacted the soil. I would have ripped it too. Respect. And I look forward to reading about how it turns out.

    You’re cool! 🙂



  12. Yo, Chris – DO NOT LICK THE TOADS!!! 🙂

    No frost last night. In fact, a couple of times, the temps bounced into the 40s. No snow, either, but maybe north of us. According to Prof. Mass.

    Well, at 8pm, a knock on my door. A 6’5″ EMT (ambulance guy) with H. Elinor was going back to the hospital. They had her on oxygen, but she was pretty alert. I figure it might have been hyperventilating, due to an anxiety attack, or something else. I’ll turn on my phone, later, and see what’s up.

    But in the meantime … a short hiatus of our own. We’re headed down for biscuits and gravy. We’ll soon return to our regularly scheduled programing … Lew

  13. Yo, Chris – We Now Return to Our Regularly Scheduled Programing …

    No biscuits and gravy, this morning. Cook had the vapors. I’ve been toying with the idea of stepping in, when this happens. But, I know it would soon become a permanent thing, and their I’d be, a slave to the stove a morning a week. Still, I’m considering it.

    Had a voice mail, from Elinor’s daughter. She’ll be in the hospital, for a day or two. No other information, except she’ll stop by to get Elinor’s purse (when?), and needs my key to get in. Sigh. In the middle of my nap? While I’m down at the library, around 5? My well ordered life has become disordered.

    So, more of a condiment 🙂 . The beef may be available, but I’d guess it’s a tactic to keep food costs down. Maybe they should advertise it as Bolognaise Lite. Just to tip the customer off.

    Well, if the new attachment doesn’t work out, it will make interesting yard art. 🙂

    Our elections are always on a Tuesday. Second Tuesday in November. I think it’s in the Constitution, or something. The polls (when there were polls) opened early and stayed open late. Now, it’s mostly done by mail, or, drop it in a secure ballot box. Which, in my case, is down by our courthouse. Sits in a parking lot. Drive through everything. I saw no fat boys in camo flack jackets, with AK-47s. Though I wonder if my license plate was photographed? The crazy going on around our elections, is, well, nuts.

    I hope the new battery charging program for your solar, works well. Fingers crossed.

    I’m happy that it seems Radcliffe, Watson and Grint made it through being child stars, and onto successful careers. Some of those tales are so grim. Watching the 20th anniversary special, they made it pretty clear that the adult actors, and crew were always very protective of them. And shared the craft of acting, quit freely.

    The hour was quit well packed, so any claims will fall on the shipper. My insurance company is talking to their insurance company. 🙂

    Some of the Victorian authors talked around everything. Edith Wharton, comes to mind. You never quit knew what in the heck was going on. Did they take a tumble in the hay, or didn’t they? It was as bad as the series “Gunsmoke” with Marshall Dillon and Miss Kitty.

    No, she managed to rip down the old blind, which didn’t need to be replaced in the first place.

    There’s a new Agatha Christie biography, coming out. I’ve got it on my library hold list.

    Thinking we were going to have a frost, last night, I pulled a lot of rhubarb. It’s freezing up, on trays, right now. I should get a couple of quarts out of it. Only two of the stems were kind of woody, and got tossed in the kitchen scrap bag. To be ceremoniously buried, at a later date. Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    Sometimes ya just gotta go with your gut, as you did with the attachment. My gut has been talking to me a lot recently. Some changes are taking place. All will be revealed in due time.

    Missouri doesn’t have drop boxes for ballots – that’s one of the consequences of life in a red state. We can go to one of several sites set up for early voting if we want to vote early. Mike and I chose to wait until the morning of Election Day and walk to the nearby elementary school, one of the official election sites, to cast our ballots. The only unusual thing was that there was no last-minute electioneering going on. Normally some of the candidates will have people set up at least 25 feet away from the door into the voting area, trying to shove pieces of paper in one’s face saying why one should vote for X. By law they can’t come closer than 25 feet to the door, but they can come up to people and shove pieces of paper in their face. Maybe the last minute info helps some people, but I didn’t miss them. It’ll be interesting, to choose words carefully, to see the election results.

    November has been very warm. We set a new record high of 83F last Friday. It’s supposed to be in the 70sF tomorrow and Thursday. Then an arctic air mass rolls in. By the weekend we may not see a high over 40F, and the low may be 20F or less. Starting yesterday I began the remaining activities to prepare for winter, like draining the rain barrels and rain tank so frozen water doesn’t split them, mulching the garlic patch, and doing the final lawn mowing until spring. Tomorrow and Thursday I’ll harvest all the root and most of the leaf crops. After that I’ll collect leaves for compost and mulch.

    I love your rhododendrons! So cheerful and colorful!


  15. Chris,

    We never lost power. This round.

    The second storm hit early Monday morning. 12cm of snow fell in 6 hours. It was wet enough snow that I couldn’t use Big Bertha. That made for a big workout with the shovel after the normal 2 mile walk with Avalanche in the snow.

    And did she love the snow! She ran around the back yard for 3 hours nearly nonstop. Then the walk. Then she got to “explore” the front on a long lead while I was digging out. She was one happy and tired dog at the end of the day!

    This storm and the coming few days are providing the “joys” of winter. -10C at night, +1C during the day. Thaw, freeze, thaw, freeze. Rinse and repeat. We *might* run errands Wednesday or Thursday midday. Mornings and evenings the roads are ice rinks. Ugg.

    Let’s pump up the money supply,
    And hope that everything stays ok.
    But when inflation runs rampant,
    We won’t know what to say.

    Congrats on your rainbow and some warmer weather. It’s about time for you. We now have that rare thing: several inches of snow on the ground that is turning red and yellow from the massive amount of falling leaves.

    Congrats also on avoiding getting hit by that large branch. That would have hurt. During one windstorm, a giant branch fell of one off the huge trees by the County Courthouse. Landed on some guy’s shoulder. He was conscious when the ambulance took him away. Lucky it wasn’t a head shot.

    The Princess looked up when I was looking at the king parrot photo. She was properly impressed with its beauty. Nice picture. Sent you a picture from this week.

    I see you threw me under the bus when my back was turned. I must respond.

    This used to be a quiet place
    Where people wrote in prose.
    Sometimes newbies show up here
    And how they write nobody knows.
    But then a chap from Washington
    Sometimes conversed in verse but hey!
    We now blame any and all poetry
    on that descendant of bards DJ.

    At least it isn’t Vogon poetry. 😉


  16. Hi DJ,

    Hubris!!! Watch out hubris dead ahead! Warning! What a fine dump of snow you received. I’ll bet you’re glad you didn’t have to trundle into work with those conditions? It was a delightful 30’C today and the eggplant and chilli seeds finally germinated. Tonight the cicada’s are making their racket, although I would have thought the soil was too cold for them to do that. A mystery!

    Nature seems determined that you get more than your usual amount of exercise today. And yes, Avalanche would have been most pleased with the outcome – but then as you note, slept soundly, hopefully near to the heater? The Kelpies and Ollie would do no less. I took the dogs out for a walk with me in a work break at lunchtime today. Mate, they’re winter soft and accustomed to cooler weather. They’ll adapt, as will your household to the sudden change in colder conditions. For many years now I’ve noted that autumn, or whatever it actually is, is getting shorter with each passing year.

    Oh my, that sure is some cold weather. Stay safe on the roads, people might not yet have acclimated to the freezing weather. And dare I suggest that the current economic conditions probably means that far more people than the usual amount, are skipping maintenance on their vehicles, and just hoping for the best. Tyres (or tires in US parlance) are kind of important.

    Indeed, even the experts probably don’t know what to say. The bard runs deep in you my friend! Respect. It was good.

    That leaf thing happens here, but only because there has been an oddball warm season snowfall probably due to a cut-off-low originating in Antarctica. It can happen, and the poor fruit trees go into shock and drop both their fruit and leaves. Not good. A neighbour has photos from before my time when they had a white Christmas day due to a bonkers cold snap with brief snowfall. Makes you wonder if your fallen leaves decompose properly in your new unusual season? What’s your thoughts about that? The fallen leaves here hang around all winter long, until it begins to warm and the soil critters then eat them. A right mess.

    He is lucky, a head shot would be the final memory. Dare I mention the falling whale in Hitch-hikers?: Would it make friends with the ground? Philosophers have probably debated the issue and decided upon permanent disagreement, all for our own good, of course.

    Thank you for the photo. It looked cold and snowy! And glad that all three of you (possibly also with your lady’s sister) are keeping warm. As you’d know, shovelling snow would do that trick, but then shovelling any material has that instant warming effect. Jack London stories are now filling my mind. Good luck!

    The parrots are very attractive, and notably clever, but need they consume the unripe fruit? They probably bring in a lot of fertility, and weirdly, they love Ollie.

    Hehe! True, I do blame you for this turn to the poetic. Your Viking derived shoulders are big enough to handle the observation, and mate, if the shoe fits…

    Nice one, and yes, it’s in the blood! What epics your ancestors once recalled in the mead hall. Hope the epics don’t haunt your dreams?



  17. Hi Claire,

    Exactly, sometimes you have an intuition which suggests that you have to act in the face of a lack of information. I listen to those intuitive suggestions, and rarely have they done me a wrong turn. One can only speculate as to where such helpful assistance arrives from, but I have my own thoughts on such matters. There was a recent unknown drama with the power system, and intuition urged me to take a peek in the battery control room and see what was going on. Hmm. Several hours of work later, and things have improved. Stuff was going on that I was unaware of. Oh well, no harm done, this time. And I’m intrigued by your words. You have the cloak of one who has considered the unknown and decided to head out upon a trail. Be careful of the wolves whilst on the trail. And I look forward to learning of your journey. 😉

    It may interest you to learn that many, many years ago I became curious about the system down here and for many elections worked in the collection and counting process. The mask mandates put me off working for them, but such silliness will pass. However, there is no ‘drop in’ system here either. Each vote ID is scrutinised by a real person, and there is an electoral roll, and so it is a scrupulously honest system. Drop in votes are not to my liking, although we have a mail in vote system which also has to be checked off against the electoral roll. Did I mention that voting was compulsory down here?

    Those folks who get in your face are, I dunno how to politely put it, but maybe ‘a waste of time’ might be one way to describe them. I learned a neat trick in my travels in some of the poorer parts of Asia, and can evince a ‘get lost’ look accompanied by a hand signal, which is hard for the over excitable ‘how to vote’ people to ignore. Worth the effort developing, but then you and Doug had nobody harassing you. That’s either a foregone conclusion, or winning?

    Claire, it was like 30’C / 86’F here today, and to have near to such a high at your place is utterly bonkers. Ah, a stable climate, what was this thing again? Hope you avoid the climate whiplash and get all of the work around your place done that you need to do before winter sets in – in a few short days? I’ve said for many years that autumn is fast disappearing here, you may now be experiencing what I was going on about.

    Thank you, and hopefully there will be more flowers to go as the year rolls on.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    You’d think that not licking toads would be something that didn’t require a specific warning. There are similar problems down here with the notorious cane toad up north: Cane toad lickers may get cure for overdose soon. Folks sure are strange!

    DJ appears to have received quite the dump of snow. Glad you’ve dodged the big early freeze, and I won’t mention that it was 86’F today here. Last week several days were only 57’F, my head is spinning exorcist style at the sudden changes in climate. Oh well, at least the warmth today germinated the chili and eggplant seeds. Every variety other than the coriander has now germinated. Near to 11pm it is still 61’F outside, and I’m now summer soft and went to grab a woollen jumper. It’s embarrassing…

    How was Elinor? Far out, that’s hard. Hope both H and yourself are doing OK?

    That’s a bit of a bind you’ve found yourself in with the biscuits and gravy. Have you come to any decision in that matter? Honestly, I wouldn’t know what to do because much would depend upon the character of the other people involved. And only you can assess that. On the other hand, I recall that the Editor once observed about her uncle who had a real talent for playing the piano and was the organist for his local lodge and chapel. Some lucky folks can play by ear. Anyway, she once suggested that he enjoyed playing because he could be part of the inevitable social gatherings and rituals, and yet at the same time, apart. Hmm, and astute observation. Your cooking duties might be like that? But then it might also be something of a chore – and as a side observation, hope your biscuit cook shrugs off the vapours?

    Hope H is doing OK? I’ve heard it said that life wasn’t meant to be easy, and compared to the life I’m reading about in the famous Bronte sisters book, we’re on easy street! But yes, some folks are rather free with our time, and it is up to us to be vigilant, less they thief off with our time. Always a risk, but then you kind of have to assist things too and convenience be damned. Mate, I’m so torn here, because interrupting a nap would be problematic. Sleep is important to one’s continuing good health, and does anyone want a grouchy Lewis?

    Speaking of the Bronte sisters work, and that empire where apparently the sun was not to ever set, but kinda did, I read an amusing line in the book, which I shall recount here, purely for research purposes: “and which betrayed in her a superficiality of character, inherited probably from her mother, hardly congenial to an English mind”. At the very least there was a wide hint of cultural arrogance, which I found (as a wild colonial boy), to be rather amusing.

    You know, the bolognese sauce utterly lacked meat. There was a point during the meal where I wondered whether I’d been served another dish from the menu. However, after a detailed investigation of the menu, I still couldn’t work out what it may have been. A mystery meal, and I’m not brave enough to order the stuff a second time around. Mince meat is $17 for 2.2 pounds at the supermarket today. So I’d have to say that like you suggest, a bit of cost cutting had taken place. It was not a pleasant sauce to consume with pasta. Bolognaise Lite! That’s funny, and true all at the same time!

    That’s a thing in the nearby town in the front yards of houses on much larger blocks. Some rusty old chunk of farm machinery, just turning back into iron ore for everyone to admire. And often the grass is growing through the thing because it is hard to keep the grass out of it. I’d imagine that the people who made the stuff would be turning in their graves at the thought of the present ornamental use for the old horse drawn machinery. I’ll persist a bit with the plough blade, and we’ll see. I could be wrong about the usage, but there is a plan, or more likely crazy dream, about the intended use. Such things take a while to understand how to get them to work well, so I’m not overly troubled about it.

    Wow, can’t say I recall ever seeing an unattended drop in vote box. I’m not suggesting that there are possibilities for weirdness with such an arrangement, but yeah. 10 out of 10 for convenience, possibly 4 or 5 out of 10 for err, I dunno, look it might OK, but possibly it’s also not good.

    I checked on the battery charging system on and off again today, and it seems to have worked OK. It’s all about balancing the various components, and possibly I might have to have one program for the winter months, and another program for the rest of the year. Hmm. Oh well, this stuff is neither easy, nor is it simple. Unfortunately, people believe that is the case, which it ain’t.

    Nice to hear that although the lost hour arrived mildly soiled and slightly sullied, that you’re happy to accept delivery and liability for the issues cause in-transit, to which I make no representations and / or accept no responsibility. Hey, you wanted that hour, don’t blame me!!! Hehe!

    I’d imagine that Edith Wharton, had to walk a fine line between an airing of the dirty secrets of her social set, whilst also titillating the readers. A fine line to walk that. But then a hint here, and a suggestion there, can provide enough scene setting without having to bluntly state the obvious. Dunno, can authors these days manage that trick? Our language these days is quite blunt compared to the flowery language spoken in dialogue during the days of yore. In some ways an author would have the same role as a good orator, and have to speak to the audience. Dunno. Mr Greer mentioned the artist Thomas Kinkade, and he certainly knew what his audience wanted, there is no getting around that fact. And he appears to have an uncanny nose for business.

    Careless, some folks test things, which you’d hope that they didn’t, but they do. And therein lies the sad tale of the now damaged blind.

    I’ll be interested to hear what you have to say about the biography.

    Did you get any frost? Brr!



  19. Yo, Chris – I’d say, anyone who goes around licking toads, well, that’s there lookout. But I suppose, someone will make a bit of mad cash on the antidote.

    We have lift off! The Eagle has landed! Jack Frost finally arrived. Looks like we’re to have at least a week of clear and cold. And Friday is a holiday (Veteran’s Day), and we might have a bit of rain. Snow? I’ll give the garden a couple of days to get dead and crispy, and then begin the clean up. Was 28F (-2.2C).

    Elinor’s daughter left me a message, yesterday, that Elinor will be in the hospital “a day or two.” We’ll see. Poor H. Every time we go through this, she seems to get a bit more … confused? She seems to just … withdraw (?) more and more. I was talking to one of the librarians, yesterday. One that I josh around with. I told her that all this up and down with Elinor was upsetting my pretty well ordered life. She asked how one got a well ordered life. “Well, first you’ve got to be an orphan.” She looked stricken, and I said, “Ohhh. Too late?” 🙂

    Well, I’ll just see how the whole biscuits and gravy thing goes. How it plays out. It is a money maker, for the Club. I’ve got a few ideas as to how to make the gravy, better.

    A couple of years ago, I watched a film or miniseries about the Bronte sisters. “To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters.” It was quit good, as I remember.

    Not much difference between the usual grouchy Lew, and the more grouchy Lew.

    Serves you right for ordering that fancy Italian food. 🙂

    Well, the election is winding down. I’m fairly satisfied with the results. Win a few, lose a few. One of the things on the ballot was did the City of Morton wants to opt out of the Timberland library system. Looks like they are. Morton is out in our east county, and just a spot in the road. Don’t know what their problem is. Could be, even though there’s branches to their east and west, they think they should have a branch, too. Or maybe they didn’t like something on the shelf. Or, it just a matter of the tiny bit that’s added onto their property taxes. So now, anyone that wants a library card with a Morton mailing address, well, the poor staff have to haul out a map to see if they live inside, or outside the city limits.

    I did not want that hour back. I’d have been very happy if it had been lost at sea.

    Thomas Kinkade gives me the hives. All those acrid yellows and pinks. And, oh, so twee. Not good for my blood sugar levels. A little twee goes a long ways.

    Seen on a t-shirt: “Engineer: Solving problems you didn’t know you had in ways you can’t understand.” Speaking of which, I received a Great Courses catalog, the other day. There was a couple of new things I sent on to the library’s “suggested purchases.” “Secrets of the Occult” and …. “Epic Engineering Failures and the Lessons They Teach.” Looking at the contents, there seems to be a lot of bridges. Including our own Galloping Gertie.”

    Yesterday, I received from the library “Agatha Christie: An Elusive Woman.” (Worsley, 2022). Oh! I just noticed the author is Lucy Worsley, who does quit a bit of presenting on the BBC. History stuff. She’s quit good. I haven’t taken a close look at it, yet, as I was distracted by “The Uncommon Reader” (Alan Bennett, 2007). I read it years ago, but in memory of the old Queen, thought I’d give it another whirl. I had forgotten it was so small. I polished it off in a couple of hours. Very satisfying. And, funny. Lew

  20. Chris,

    Yes, I’m VERY glad I didn’t have to trek to work. I rarely drove there, as we live extremely close to a bus route that passed by my job on the way to downtown. Convenient, but on super icy days, still not fun. That said, I arranged my schedule to avoid working Mondays, so would have missed one of the 2 nasty days this week anyhow. There were wrecks and fender benders everywhere. The body shops, towing companies and insurance companies make money this time of year.

    Cool, you have cicadas? We have none here. I’ve heard a lot about them from relatives who lived in Virginia. We do get crickets, though, and I do NOT mean the game that morphed into Brockian Ultra Cricket.

    Avalanche actually prefers some distance from the heat sources when it’s cold out. That double-layered husky fur coat has something to do with that. We don’t heat the bedroom and keep the door to it closed, so she really likes the cool room.

    I’ve noticed shorter autumns also, but this one really was extra short. Even the young bank teller said something about that today. Because many of the trees still had green leaves, autumn is weird, maybe the third time I’ve seen this happen in 55 years living here. The leaves that had changed color before the snow and the deep freeze have mostly fallen. The green leaves that were left got freeze dried and have turned a dull brown.

    The leaves will eventually get raked up. It’s not uncommon for there to be snow before the final leaves of the year, from the hawthorn trees, fall. Either there will be warm enough weather later in November or early December to rake them and pile them in the garden area, or else they will wait until next spring. If it’s spring before they can be raked, they will be an ugly, sodden mess that has left some unhealthy grass underneath. They will then decay just fine when dug into the garden.

    Didn’t get quite as cold as forecast, maybe -8C. And warmer both Tuesday and Wednesday than expected with ample sun. The main arterials are bare and dry, as they were also worked by the snowplows. The side streets? Mostly bare and dry where the cars drive. Edges that see little traffic are still icy. The plethora of accidents Monday and Tuesday had excessive speed for the conditions as the major factor. Now that the ice is off the roads, cars are going much too fast and ignore red traffic lights and stop signs again. sigh. Oh, right, they were going too fast and ignoring traffic lights and stop signs in the snow too. double sigh.

    Glad you enjoyed my poems. Or doggerel. As my name is Doug, I often call any verses I compose “Douggerel”. I use my DJSpo handle here to avoid any confusion with Marg’s Doug, and I’ve been called DJ (among other things) for decades.

    I was thinking “What’s weird about snow at Christma…Oh yeah, it’s summer there for Christmas. Duh!”

    Ah yes, there must be many theories about whether or not the ground and the whale made friends before the whale crashed into the ground. Something about reasonable levels of doubt and uncertainty, right? As a member in good standing of the Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Seers, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons, I entirely understand the need for argument and debate about this subject! 😉

    Yeah, Monday was coldish, especially for November. The wind made things rather raw. I really liked the snow pattern on the fencing. And yes, the 3 of us are staying plenty warm. Sister moved to another sister’s house on the Rez.

    Once the snow hits, I think of Jack London stories a lot, especially when walking Avalanche or being otherwise occupied with the snow. Oh, and some of the stories from the Icelandic sagas. Egil’s Saga had an episode where Egil Skallagrimson and company were travelling on skis in Norway during the winter and got into some interesting adventures. Nordic skiing is something I did a lot back in the day. Some of us used to thoroughly plan things, disappear in the mountains of Idaho for a long weekend in the back country. Nordic ski to the destination, dig snow caves, camp out for a night or two, then ski back to the cars and return home. Always made me feel like part of that episode of Egil’s Saga. 😉

    Ohhh, good one! Not only pay me the compliment of being tough enough to take the teasing but bringing in both my Viking heritage and infamous ancestor Big Shoe to boot! Good on you mate!

    I will gladly take the blame for the poesy that sometimes occurs here. Funny that. We had a long section on poetry in high school English. None of us passed the test. In fact, my entire test paper consisted of:

    I knew I shouldn’t do it:
    This test was I loath to take.
    By trying to teach us poetry,
    Teacher made a grand mistake.

    The teacher DID enjoy the doggerel. But we did have to redo the unit. I grew to properly enjoy poetry when I found dad’s Robert Service book, which is all poems about (mostly) the Yukon and (somewhat) Europe with a bit of the Great War added. Much of it is humorous. Then I discovered Norse poems and various poems in Robert Scott’s border ballads. Just had to put the poetry into a context I’d enjoy.

    Plus that badass, tough Viking ruffian Egil Skallagrimson was an accomplished poet. He even wrote one about old age which made my dad turn red with embarrassment when he read it.


  21. Hi Lewis,

    That was my take on the whole toad licking phenomena, someone’s making mad cash somewhere on it. The consequences of getting it wrong, don’t seem to justify the risk involved, but then if they want to do that, as you rightly point out, it is their issue. It’s kind of funny, but as I’m getting on in years, I’m coming around to that way of thinking. Dunno how to describe such a state of mind (live and let live) but perhaps the Libertarianism philosophy has a bit to recommend it, although I believe that that extreme needs to be tempered with sensible limits so that power and wealth does not accumulate to any one person, or series of people. I dunno, the past couple of years of intrusiveness on the part of the authoritas has left a bad taste for their utter weirdness. Probably I’m still left with some trauma from the entire episode.

    Confirm Lewis, the Eagle has landed. Check. Over. 🙂 Man, 28’F, look that’s as cold as it ever gets here, and I’m summer soft and stuff now after only a brief warm spell (don’t worry next Tuesday is forecast for a max of 58’F – Brr!). Such an episode puts a solid line under the growing season and suggests that, it’s done. From my perspective, you’ve had an awesome growing season and that’s a good thing. Now is the time for you for less work, afternoon naps with H, dodging the rain and snow, and just generally recharging the batteries for the next growing season. Could be worse.

    H will be fine, maybe. Dogs have very adaptable personalities, although they do feel emotions, sometimes quite strongly. I was a child of divorced parents back in the 1970’s, and um, in those days they’d plonk you with one or the other parents – and there you stayed. The other parent had access rights, like hanging out with my dad on a Sunday afternoon was super fun, except it wasn’t. Eventually he gave up on that ambition. In these enlightened days, they mess with kids heads by plonking them in one household for a period of time, and then upending that arrangement and plonking them in the other household for a period of time. It would be a very unsettling experience, and perhaps that is what you may be seeing in H? Whiplash. She’ll be fine, I really don’t know how Elinor will be.

    A well ordered life does in fact rely upon having less entanglements. Benefits and costs my friend, benefits and costs. 😉 Nothing wrong at all with a quiet orderly life.

    I acknowledge your kitchen skills and hopefully you don’t set the bar too high for the Club with the ‘best gravy eva!’? That naughty ‘eva’ sure did get around. Hehe! Sometimes you have to step up to the plate.

    I hesitate to call you Cap’n Grumpy, mostly because you rarely seem that way to me. Occasionally we all wake up on the wrong side of bed, and the world just doesn’t seem right. Good grace is getting through such an experience with nobody noticing! Unless of course they think you’re grumpy all of the time, and then there is an awful perception problem. Sometimes perceptions become reality. In your case, I’d have to say that you don’t seem grumpy to me, although I’d appreciate it if you didn’t try and disprove my mental image. 🙂

    Yes, with the Italian pasta sauce I did bring that problem down on my own head. A person can only do so much.

    Good to hear that you are satisfied with the election results. It looks like some changes are in the wind. Probably not a bad idea to chuck them out every election, keeps them sharp and on their toes. Bizarrely, loyalty is not rewarded in the system, whereas novelty is, so give ’em what they want. I read a really odd observation about career politicians many years ago and it suggested that they had mortgages and bills to pay too. Yeah, turf ’em out if they’re being a nuisance, that’s what I reckon – they’re paid to do a job on the public coin and should shut up and get on with it.

    What a mess with the now cast adrift library. Hope the staff are OK? I mentioned to you a while ago that the local bank branch is soon to close, and what a nuisance that is. The staff are chucked into some sort of redeployment pool – sounds unpleasant and I hope they know how to swim?

    Alas, yours and my views in this matter do not get a look in and we end up with hours missing and added back on a semi-regular basis. It’s not fair for those who feel the jet lag from such changes.

    Fair enough about Mr Kinkade. I noticed that some cheeky scamps had taken the scenes and added stormtroopers and the sort of destructive activities that lot would get up to.

    Thanks for the amusing engineering quip. Very funny! Need I mention that secrets don’t tend to remain secrets if someone goes and writes a tell-all book about the subject. I’ll be curious to hear what you learn. Bridges being kind of important and stuff. Hey, you’ve gotta love the quote: “May the light from the bridges you’ve burned, shine the way forward” We’ve all been there!

    Ah yes, sadly missed, and you piqued my interest with that book. Still reading Jane Eyre, I quite like the central character, but so flawed. Oh well, makes for a good story, and I’m also not without my flaws. A person can but only do their best, but sometimes it ends up as a giant bucket of dog poop!

    Got around half the orchard trees today and cleared the rapidly growing grass away from the trunks. Not a bad effort at all, and late this afternoon, it rained. Yay!



  22. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I hear you about that, and some weeks now I don’t make it into the big smoke. Do I miss it? Well there are some good aspects. It’s a mixed bag really, and you were very canny to have avoided the dreaded Mondays. Never fun. And it’s hard to avoid those businesses.

    It was cloudy and windy here today, but also warm. Took the day off work and headed down into the orchards with the brush cutter (you may call them line trimmers? Not sure) and cleared away the grass growing around the trunks of about half of all of the fruit trees. The fruit trees don’t like having grass growing around them.

    Oh, you’re good and I notice that the tally is now 2 in this reply for DJ. And Let’s be blunt, it’s a nasty game (Brockian ultra cricket)! The cicada’s can kick up quite the racket, and many years ago I was in the remote town of Heyfield heading north to Licola past the stirringly (for the blood) named township Glenfalloch, and the cicadas were deafening. It’s a very quiet part of the world.

    Wise. I too sleep better in unheated rooms. Sometimes hotels turn the heat way up – as if they’re doing you some sort of favour, or it’s a luxury. They’re not, and it ain’t. Good sleep is very important.

    Yep, trust me in this, autumn is getting shorter here all the time. It’s now down to a few weeks. Good luck!

    It’s a bit of a ‘wait and see’ thing for you with the fall leaves and the weather. They also decay well here too, but generally that takes place in spring, and right through winter it’s a mass of ooky sodden black leaves. Try not to slip over when walking upon the muck. The worms do their best with the muck, as do the fungi, but better efforts should be called for. There’s work to be done. 🙂

    Oh no! Not good. By way of contrast, it would be rare for a driver down here to ignore a red light. Some intersections in the big smoke have cameras watching for that, and fines follow infringements. Not cheap, and accumulate too many demerit points and you lose your licence. Sometimes cars get impounded if they’re caught travelling too fast or recklessly. I used to work near to where people picked up their impounded car, and some miscreants pulled burn outs up the road whilst departing the storage facility. Hmm.

    Hehe! They were good doggerels, and yes, that’s happened to all of us. A few years ago I was being told off for doing my job, and the person began the complaint with: ‘that young man’. Such a lovely person, we can forgive the rest of the complaint, and may your poorly chosen names be a likewise pleasant experience.

    That’s confirmed. 2 Hitchhikers references in one reply. Respect. 🙂 It’s a great name for a professional group of thinkers.

    The snow on the fencing looked amazing, and I’d never seen such a thing. Although the snow here gets caught in the trees, and plonks down upon unsuspecting fluffies. Ah, thanks for the update, I now recall you saying something of the sort. Nice to have extended family you can rely upon.

    I read a synopsis of Egill’s Saga, and yes, the blood does indeed run deep in your line, and poetry is clearly something to be treated with deadly seriousness.

    Your exam poem was quite amusing, but High School English was my worst class, with the poorest marks. There is something really strange about the way the English language was taught. And your poem is indicative of the sort of weirdness I likewise encountered. After all, you probably answered the question correctly, what you were being marked upon was that the answer was not well received. The Editor likewise has a similar memory of being asked to use a certain word in a sentence (I can’t recall what the word was). So she responded by using the word as follows: I looked up the word (insert specified word) in the dictionary, but could not find it. A perfectly valid answer, yet also it stomped hard upon creative responses.

    Ah, Robert Service would be a bush poet, as they’re known down here. Once a jolly swagman, camped by a billabong, under the shade of a Coolibah tree (and eventually came to a bad end). Life then was not comfortable, and the poems reflected that reality.



  23. Yo, Chris – I wonder if there’s a 12 Step Program, for toad licking? “We admitted we were powerless over licking toads, and our lives had become unmanageable.” Currently, with me, it’s ice cream. 🙂 And yogurt dipped pumpkin spice pretzels.

    Oh, governments and such. I’m currently also reading “The Storm Is Here: An American Crucible” (Mogelson, 2022). He was a war correspondent. It’s an interesting “take.” Rather than the major players, he’s out there “on the ground” getting to know the rank and file that have been led down one garden path, or another.

    When I was at the library, the other day, I picked up two seasons of something I missed (how?). “Pennyworth.” It takes place in Britain, in the early 60s. “With England balancing on the brink of a civil war…” I’ve watched a few episodes, and it’s pretty interesting. Pennyworth is a former SAS soldier, who’s from a working class background, and trying to set up a security service. But there’s lots of torture, and stuff. I fast forward through those parts. Lots of people getting bashed with tea kettles. But I finally trigged to something. I was checking to see how many seasons it has, and discovered Alfred Pennyworth eventually becomes Batman’s butler. THAT Alfred. Thomas Wayne (Batman’s pater), plays a major roll. I never much cared for Batman, but I’m finding this series pretty interesting.

    The weather is cool enough, that I want to get back to doing some serious baking. But, first I’ve got to get past seeing the auction guy, and cleaning up the garden. I’ve had my eye on the leaves around the library, but they haven’t piled up in easily collected piles, yet. Maybe I can slip in at least a batch of cookies.

    I haven’t heard anything from Elinor or her daughter. I’ll give her daughter a call, tonight. With H it’s the little things, that are different. She usually lies on the floor, next to me, when I’m on the computer. As, now. But not since she came back. Now she’s in her hidey hole under the bed. Or laying in a stray sunbeam on the living room carpet.

    Oh, I can’t say I’m satisfied with the election. More, “It will do.” And they’re still counting votes so the control of the national Senate and House of Representatives, is still up in the air. Politicians may have mortgages and bills, and they also have that golden health care to nail down.

    Morton doesn’t have a library branch. Which seems to be the problem. They think they’re entitled to one. Never mind that the population of the place is just over 1,000, and there are two other branches, not that far off.

    That’s funny about the added subject matter, to the Kinkade paintings. People are always messing about with famous paintings. Mustache on the “Mona Lisa?” Sure. See: the painting “American Gothic.” That’s been … enhanced … in so many ways. Some, quit humorous. There’s a china pattern called “Blue Willow.” Probably the most popular china pattern, in history. A few months ago, I saw that some wag had added silhouettes of the odd dinosaur. Oh, and UFOs and sea monsters. I hope this link works …

    If not, the artist is Don Moyer and his series is called “Calamityware.”

    I read a few chapters of the Agatha Christie biography, last night. It’s quit good. Dispels a lot of myths. I mentioned the author, Lucy Worsley is a presenter, on the BBC and PBS. She’s actually the Chief Curator at the Charity Historic Royal Palaces. Her programs are a lot of fun. She usually dresses in whatever period she’s looking at, and takes you behind the scenes. We should have had history teachers like her. Makes the history go down easy. Lew

  24. Hi Lewis,

    Probably is a 12 step program for toad licking. 🙂 I’m not saying the act sounds a bit not-quite-fit for genteel company, but if people wanna do that I’m not going to stop them. It’s a bit Darwin awards really what with the risk and stuff, but people are people. Speaking of which, there was a toad out hunting spiders and other insects last night just behind the house. It was quite a lot larger than the tree frogs which are more commonly seen and I had trouble identifying it. Bizarrely, the interweb sites have frog identification, but toads get a bad rap. Surprisingly the toads here hide in loamy ground during drier times, as very occasionally I’ve inadvertently dug one up. They’re not happy about that, but I try not to dig too much even though it may seem like that’s what happens. Here it is:

    A bit warty, huh? No wonder toads were blamed for warts when I was a kid. Yeah, sure… I recall that the area near to where we lived had a creek, and us kids would go down and observe and collect tadpoles. Of course we were young and dumb and the tadpoles came to an end due to our stupidity of taking them from their natural environment, but fortunately they breed pretty prolifically. I doubt the creek is there nowadays, it would be some sort of very orderly parkland. Hmm. Had a look over the interweb and indeed it does look very orderly, the creek was named Mile Creek – a very original name!

    There was a car racetrack near to there which the creek runs through (Sandown Park raceway) and we used to sneak in through holes in the fences (it was the 1970’s) and watch the cars go around the track. The noise from the cars exhaust was deafening, so you always knew when a race was on.

    Life is something of a balancing act in that regard, and the instructions from the puritans was always to be taken with a grain of salt, but yeah, the pumpkin spice season might soon be at an end for you, so the indulgence issue then goes to the land of somewhere else. A magical place don’t you reckon? 🙂

    An interesting read indeed. Does Luke Mogelson’s book make for comfortable reading? I’ll tell ya a funny story from what I’m observing of the oddness going on down here, which relates to the overall decline of energy and stuff per capita: Few folks give a toss about ideology, what they’re concerned with is: ‘roof over head’; ‘lights on’; and ‘food upon the table’. It really is that simple, and when ideology is turned up to eleven, and the other concerns are pushed into the background, well you get push back, and if there is enough weight behind that push, things get weird. Your country is in weird land right now, and down under is heading that way, but to a lesser extent due to different cultural issues. But yeah, talking to folks on the ground to see what the mood and vibe is, is always the smart move. Probably your last president to do that was Jimmy Carter, and it didn’t end so well for him because he didn’t offer the easy ride.

    Michael Caine did an admirable job in that role, and I hadn’t heard of the butler series – thanks for mentioning it. It takes a lot of grinding poverty to pay for the hijinks of Batman and his many adversaries. The film, ‘The Joker’ with the superb character actor Joaquin Phoenix, began me wondering about the societal context of that particular fictional universe.

    Baking has the wonderful side effect of filling your place with delightful cooking smells, but also warming it up on cold days. Your sudden cold snap is bonkers. But then, today we set about dismantling the old raspberry enclosure and recovering the fencing materials, and at about 1pm the heavens opened. Holy carp, I ended up getting very wet, and we’d only just finished the work and then had to pack up in the pouring rain. No fun. Right now, we’re socked in with thick fog, and the solar power system barely sucked in 25 minutes of peak sun today. Yeah, like zero chance of running an industrial civilisation with this technology, but if people want to give it a go, who am I to argue?

    Did you hear back from Elinor’s daughter? Man, with dogs, it’s like the patterns have to be fairly consistent from day to day, and H would be slowly adapting to the whiplash of reality. The dog will be fine, however, it might take a while.

    Fair enough about the election result. Tell you what, from my perspective, meet the new boss, same as the old boss. We’ve gone backwards and forwards over the past decade with the elected representatives, and what I have noticed is that the more left leaning folks are more reckless with the economic mayhem side of things such as the spending more than earned and interest rate shenanigans, but seriously, neither of them are any good. To sum it up, they don’t impress me much.

    How could 1,000 folks pay for a library service, which isn’t a subscription based system, like the old Mechanic’s Hall’s you see down under?

    The calamity ware was pretty funny! Who wouldn’t like to see tentacled monsters and UFO’s destroying the otherwise tranquil scenes on their dinner plates? Makes you wonder how many folks would even notice the tentacled horrors whilst at a dinner party or lunch?

    Yes, history would have been far more interesting than the rubbish I was presented with in school, as no doubt you also got a good dose. Lucy reminds me in some ways of Ruth Goodman, for similar ‘get those fingers in the dirt’ mentality.



  25. Hi Chris,
    Another productive week for you. I know the parrots are a nuisance but I would love to see them. I’ve let kale flower and it self seeds very well. I’ve got a good looking crop in the garden now though in a few days we’ll have a low of 17 degrees F. I’m not sure if even kale will survive that.

    After a couple of beautiful days in the 70’s things have crashed. Next ten days will have highs in the 30’s and lows in the 20’s or even teens. This is almost 20 degrees below normal.

    Not much new here. Off to visit my sister shortly who is still waiting for her first infusion to be scheduled. She has managed not to lose any more weight but just barely and in a lot of pain most of the time.


  26. Yo, Chris – Cool toad! Being a hallucinogenic, toad licking would probably fall under the umbrella of NA (Narcotics Anonymous). I think I’ve mentioned The Club also hosts their meetings. Heck, we’ll host any 12 Step Program, that’s willing to pay the rent. In past, we’ve had GA (Gamblers Anonymous), OEA (Over Eaters Anonymous) and EA (Emotions Anonymous). Then there’s ACA (Adult Children of Alcoholics.) I suppose one could join all of them. Would make for a full social calendar. 🙂

    For some reason, I had a vision of a very fancy high tea. A grand lady proffers a fine china plate, and asks, “Toad, Vicar?”

    Back in grade school, I can remember having frogs eggs in the classroom. Wonders of science, and all that. How they hatched, grew legs, lost their tails. The tricky part was getting them from all aquatic animals, to land creatures. Many a frog was lost along the way. Occasionally, the eggs turned out to be salamanders. Ooops! Same, same, but different.

    The Land of Somewhere Else. Yes, a truly magical place. Where garbage, recycling and nuclear waste go. Behind the Couch may be one of the many roads to the mythical land.

    Mogelson’s book is not a comfortable read. I knew there was a lot of crazy out there, but didn’t realize how much. As far as the current state of affairs, some of this election was framed as, democracy (however you want to define that) vs the high cost of gas (petrol). There were a few other issues, in play, and they had a slight influence.

    But, your right. No matter the party, they’re all pretty much a lost cause. It’s the antics of the fringes of whatever party, that get the most press. Though the fringe seems to be getting pretty deep, these days.

    Good old Jimmy Carter. Still chugging along.

    Batman, cost, grinding poverty. When DJ and you were discussing “The Amalgamated Union of Philosophers…” (etc.) the other day, the thought crossed my mind that I wondered what kind of a civilization could support such a group. You need a rich civilization, with a lot of surplus. So it’s always been. That’s a point that is often made in reading history. It takes a lot of surplus, to support artists, poets and philosophers. Or kings and priest, for that matter.

    Well, it’s raining here, today. So, as happens, it’s a bit warmer. But, we’ll be back to clear and cold, tomorrow. Could be worse. My friends in Idaho reported their overnight low was 14F. But, they fired up their wood stove and were toasty warm.

    I talked to Elinor’s daughter, last night. Her grandkids brought home the flu, but so far, neither she nor her husband has got it. Elinor did have a small heart attack. And is having problems with congestive heart failure. But thinks she’ll be home in a couple of days. We’ll see.

    I try and keep H’s life as consistent as possible. Her food and water dish are in the same place in my apartment, as in Elinor’s. We stick to the same walking schedule. I think she eats better, here. 🙂 Last night, she got a side of heated up mixed vegetables. The night before, a side of plain yogurt with some plumped up cranberries. Tomorrow night, probably some peanut butter. She’ll get it all sorted, but just when she does, things change again.

    Blue Willow dinnerware made it’s first appearance, in 1779 or 1790, depending on the source. Just about every dinnerware company has made a version of it. In everything from porcelain to stoneware. It came at a time when there was a craze for anything Oriental. And, of course there’s the story it tells. Having a romantic interest, outside of your class, star crossed lovers, elopement, “Daddy” sending men to chase them down, the gods turning the lovers into doves. It’s all there, right in the design. Must have made for some interesting conversations, in the drawing room, at tea time. 🙂 I’ve also seen the pattern in other colors. But, they’re rare. Black, purple, green, yellow and pink. Plop a color in front of “willow dinnerware” in a search and they all turn up.

    Lucy and Ruth, as presenters, both have the same sense of fun. So does Prof. Mary Beard, for that matter. Academics don’t have to be stuffy and dry. Lew

  27. Chris,

    Yeah, avoiding working Mondays was a necessity. I’m allergic to Mondays. Amazingly, that allergy was “cured” soon after I retired. 😉

    Fruit trees don’t like sharing space with grass. Brush cutters are wonderful, aren’t they? Yeah, “line trimmer” is one of the common names for those things here Sorta depends on how they’re being used. I prefer “brush cutter” myself.

    Hehehe. I’ve been in the back country with city folk who’ve never been in the woods before. They didn’t like the quiet. Then, when some of the night sounds picked up, they thought it was too loud. Day or night, every little noise had them scared, thinking it was the biggest baddest bear ever to roam the woods. So the thing got to be that I’d say, “That was the dreaded Chipmunk Bear. The only fiercer bears near here are the Squirrel Bears and the Grizzly Bears.”

    Glenfalloch? Mate, so it’s true. There ARE portals for nearly instantaneous travel from Australia to Scotland. I always knew it had to be true. 😉 Seriously, Glenfalloch in Scotland? My dad’s mother’s family hailed from near there, from the SW corner of Loch Lomond. And my mom’s father’s family from somewhere between Glenfalloch and Loch Tay.

    Looks like this autumn might be a “split autumn”. We had the 2 or 3 weeks of autumn, then the snow. Winter weather expected for 2 more weeks, then a warming to usual late autumn temperatures and weather. I might be able to rake the leaves in late November and early December. But in general, it’s the same here as there: autumn’s duration has noticeably shrunk.

    Spokane has been known for bad drivers for many years. And worsening. for 35 years, the unwritten rule at a red light has been: “The light turned green. Count to 5 then look both directions. Twice. If clear proceed with caution.” It can be a madhouse on the roads.

    I like the snow in the trees plonking onto the unsuspecting fluffies. And others. One winter when the snow was extra deep in the local mountains, another adult and I took several 12- and 13-year-old boys Nordic skiing at the local Nordic area with groomed trails. For some reason, there was an old power line there. It was coated with a LOT of snow. The youngsters scurried around a corner; knowing that course, I knew right when they would be under the snowy line. I hit the line with my ski pole and heard a very gratifying set of screams and yells from around the corner. That, and the amused looks on the faces of people skiing towards us let me know that I had scored a direct hit from the now snow-free line. 🙂

    Egil was a character, yes? Fun to read about. I think he would have been extremely difficult to have around, however.

    I really detested high school English. Had the same teacher for 3 of 4 years. Well, I was supposed to. But there was a nasty schedule problem my third year, and she very willingly told Administration that “DJ doesn’t need to take this class from me. All I’m gonna teach is grammar. He knows grammar better than I do, so all we’ll do is butt heads. And he’ll win because he’s smarter than I am.” So I got out of a year of that class. I learned grammar in 8th grade from a nun at a Catholic school. We spent the entire year diagramming sentences. I tells ya, learning how to diagram sentences teaches grammar bone deep and unforgettably.

    I feel for the Editor. The one year that I had the other English teacher, I tried a similar ploy with the exact same result. Oh, and with a note that said that the word I used wasn’t really in the dictionary, at least not the way I had spelled it. Things deteriorated when I brought in my mother’s old dictionary and showed the teacher the way I had spelled the word was an acceptable alternate spelling. Adding that my mother had majored in English Literature and had done some work towards an advanced degree in the subject didn’t help either. Yes, I started with the career limiting behavior at an early age. Part of a proper education, I say.

    Ah, Waltzing Matilda, isn’t it? Nice song. I miss the old days of shortwave radio. Radio Australia used to start every broadcast with a kookaburra laughing for one minute, followed by Waltzing Matilda. I miss those days as there was a lot of good programming from a lot of different places.


  28. Hi Margaret,

    The parrots aren’t as bad as I make them out to be. They’re actually intelligent birds, and get up to all sorts of mischief, some of which is quite amusing. As we were cooking dinner this evening, there was a King Parrot sitting on the roof guttering peering into the kitchen (the kitchen window was open but has a wire mesh screen over it), no doubt requesting a feed. That particular King parrot follows us around a bit, I’m uncertain why. There is plenty for the birds to eat here. The parrots in particular have such bright colouring, they’re very attractive. I’ll probably discover this growing season whether it was the rats whom consumed so much unripe fruit, or the parrots. Trust me on this, my gut feeling suggests that twenty rats could consume a lot of fruit.

    The rats are still around, but nowhere near as prolific as they were, thanks to Dame plum.

    Yikes! That is cold weather, and you’re probably right, your kale might not survive such conditions, especially if the wind blows. The plants shrug off frosts and freezing temperatures here, but 17’F is beyond my experience. I’m of the opinion that the season of autumn has become shorter with each passing year. It looks like you have just experienced such a thing. Autumn is down to a couple of weeks here now, and is fast fading into memory.

    Hope your sister improves after the infusion, and from what I understand of that, the infusion may become a regular part of her life, but she may improve rapidly. In some ways, healthy gut flora and fauna is remarkably similar to healthy soil. Respect for helping out those around you.

    It’s raining again, and the forecast suggests that severe thunderstorms are likely tomorrow. Yikes!



  29. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! That’s funny, and no doubts you are correct: The cure for the dreaded Mondayitis, is to avoid working Monday’s. Like your style. Alas, I must unfortunately continue to work and work hard, but then unlike you, I must have done something very bad in a past life to have ended up in that predicament. All I can say is that I brought this dog poop down on myself. 🙂

    The fruit tree and grass story is interesting. By sheer chance I was reading about trees ‘tap roots’ recently. So it turns out the tap root for many trees digs down deep, anchors the tree, then runs out of oxygen, feed, water etc. and may then die back. So, the nearer to the surface, the roots of a tree become more important in that they provide the stuff required to keep the tree alive and growing, and if the more prolific grass gets to the goodies first, it’s a bit of a fight. But then, a proper ground cover doesn’t just grow grass, other ground cover plants have a knack for harvesting nitrogen out of the atmosphere and minerals from the soil – and then the soil critters make all sorts of interesting trades with the trees: minerals for sugars, etc. There’s a lot going on. And the Editor usually bans me from writing about soil. As Harry Callahan once spoke: “A man has to know his limitations.” 😉

    Yeah, exactly, although there are times I hear new and interesting blood curdling screams in the forest in the dark hours and wonder who got what? And at such times do you head out into the dark to find out? But mate, truly, some people have told me that they’re scared of the trees around this area. The trees here can kill you for sure, but plenty of other things can do that too in a lot of other environments. There’s no monopoly on that trick.

    What? No way. That was a random Scottish reference, and turns out the moons aligned! And reading the book ‘Jane Eyre’ earlier today, what reference should I note, but a reference to ‘Black Bothwell’. Things tend to come in threes, the superstition states, and as men of logic we can bravely ignore such stuff, maybe…

    Lucky you with the promised warmer weather, the forecast for the next week here promises a return to colder and wet weather. With a chance of severe thunderstorms tomorrow. Yay for us!

    That’s not good, and the sensitive person notes that laws are only good if they can be enforced, otherwise they’re not worth the paper they are written upon. Mostly here the driver behaviour is reasonably civil and within normal expectations. Although truth to tell, it’s not all unicorns, I have been run off the road by a driver using the wrong side of the road (we do drive on the opposite side of the road to your good selves). That was an awkward incident way off to the south west (about an hour away), and I decided to avoid that road in future, it has bad mojo attached to it, what with having two prisons hanging off it.

    DJ, you are like super-bad to do that with the snow and wire, but yeah, top shot ol’ chap! Definitely a Brockian Ultra Cricket move. We had a similar experience last evening when out picking kale leaves to add into the dinner. Of course it had rained and may still have been raining at that very moment. Anyway, when the leaves were plucked from the kale plants, showers of accumulated rainfall fell onto both the Editor and my hands and arms. We ended up wetter and colder than I would have liked. Have we picked enough leaves yet? May have been something I said a few times. 🙂

    If ever you or I encounter a character such as Egill, don’t annoy him, or better still, make sure we aren’t noticed. Such extreme traits, but then he did appear to live a long and err, complicated life, which wasn’t the norm in those days. He might have been onto something.

    Hope the nun was better to you than what my (many long years ago) guitar teacher recounted to me about his experience with a nun teaching him the piano? A cane was brought into use whenever an incorrect key was depressed. He told me that’s why he learned the guitar instead. For all I know, it may have been like the scene in Monty Python where the protagonist received a harsh lesson in the correct use of the Latin written language from the centurion? 🙂 And thanks for that, diagramming sentences is something I have not encountered before, it may fall into the same category as discussions about soil? 😉

    Well, that’s the problem with thinking your own thoughts! They may not be the same as the officially sanctioned thoughts. And then what kind of trouble will you end up in?

    🙂 It’s a great poem / song about a swagman, i.e. the poorest of the poor itinerant agricultural worker living rough, being hounded by the authoritas. And the inference was that the bloke pinched the sheep to eat, but guilt was just taken for granted and you knew it wasn’t going to end well. And who was Matilda? So many questions left unanswered. Glad you got to hear it. That service has been switched off now. Incidentally, 1895 was the year the events in the poem were meant to have taken place. A time of great economic hardship, so little wonder there was a Shearers strike.



  30. Hi Lewis,

    The coffee article was fascinating, and very interesting for other more practical reasons. Had a deep dive into all things Robusta coffee plant related after reading the article. Like the Tea Camellia, it is not far off being able to grow in this area. A little bit of extra warming, and it becomes possible. One must consider the future. I couldn’t seem to discover anyone locally selling the seeds, but might need to keep my eye open for other possibilities. Interestingly, the green unroasted beans are imported down under, and well, beans being seeds and stuff, that might be the easiest pathway. We’ll see, and in the meantime I’ll keep my eyes and ears open, you never know what you might be missing.

    We’ve been to Vietnam (maybe two decades and then some ago), and the coffee was an unusual and sweet experience. The locals, rather than drinking the stuff black, they tended to add in sweetened condensed milk. Knock your socks off, the stuff did! And no doubts given my memories of the strength of the stuff, they probably blended in some of the locally grown Robusta variety beans. And with coffee rust (not to mention frosts in Brazil) becoming something more of a problem with existing Arabica plantations, well, it’s a problem.

    Speaking of which, there were none of the more usually expected bananas in the supermarket last week. We ended up buying a hand of the Lady Finger variety bananas (yes, go silly with the fingers and hands jokes, and no, we didn’t find any!) The bananas were most certainly entering what may politely be described as the ‘fermenting’ stage, but then I believe that with that variety of bananas you do have to let them blet a little before they become edible, otherwise they’re super-starchy tasting. They ended up being quite tasty, although the skins had a lot of unappealing looking bruising, which was just the fermentation of starches into sugars thing going on. All up, I’d say that it was a successful, although more expensive, adaptation. Yum!

    Most of this evening’s meal was derived from the farm. Dug up a whole bunch of interesting looking heritage potatoes and made a potato salad. Home grown potatoes are very tasty indeed. Boiled up some yummo Globe Artichokes. The field mushrooms were not derived from here, however the devilled eggs were (yum!) Must look into how to grow mushrooms, have you ever tried this, or can recommend a simple book on the subject?

    Mate, a Club’s gotta pay the rent! 🙂 Well done you lot. When you mentioned ‘makes for a full social calendar’, I can’t quite say for sure, but memories of the book and film ‘Fight Club’ sprang to mind. Hmm. Catharsis, sounds like a big word, but probably pretty necessary sometimes. I’d never heard of Emotions Anonymous before, probably not a bad idea at all. You know, I thought you were kidding around with me about there being a 12 step program for all manner of conditions (not sure what the appropriate word is to use there?) Turns out, I was wrong.

    Ooo, maybe the toad proffered on the plate is at the higher social end of that toad licking gear? Those naughty Vicars! Interestingly, did you know that Down Under, the distinction between toad and frog is not at all clear as it is in your part of the world? Probably an abstract concept which doesn’t translate all that well down under.

    Can’t say that I’ve ever met a Salamander, but the amphibians do look a lot like many of the reptiles I find living around here. There’s probably a reason for that. And yes, such things do not often end well for the critters.

    You’ve got me seriously worrying now. I’ll go check behind the couch in case there’s any nuclear waste which has fallen there. That would ruin my entire day, maybe even the next year. Then the worries would certainly disappear, being dead and stuff. Fortunately there was only the odd dust bunny here and there, and it didn’t appear to glow in the dark. I do wonder why some folks seem so untroubled about nuclear waste. Possibly it is not hidden behind their couch! That would probably explain the lack of concern.

    As a general observation which may not be entirely applicable to your part of the world, ideology often gets trumped by economic concerns. At least that is how things look like to me. I agree, the fringes can get pretty weird, but then my understanding of history suggests that this is the sort of outcome you get when the centre is abandoned.

    He seemed alright to me that former President Carter of yours. His heart was in the right place, and he was a great orator, but who wanted what he was selling?

    Yikes! You’re probably right about the surplus required for such folks. And with energy per capita declining, surplus is going away. Has it fallen behind the couch? At least it would be cheap for philosophers to argue incessantly over that subject, words being cheaper than stuff.

    Last week I mentioned the Manchurian Pear which fell over. Anyway, today we cut out all of the branches less than an inch in diameter, and ran them through the scary old wood chipper. I do so enjoy using that machine. And the chipped up pear tree (including leaves which also got chucked into the hungry beast of a machine) was added as a mulch to the hops and passionfruit garden. It’s looking good, and one of the hop plants has already begun climbing. Clearly related to Triffids.

    14’F is bonkers cold, and sadly, they’re not the only ones running the wood heater. It’s turned cold and wet here, and tomorrow’s forecast promises severe thunderstorms. And the peasants rejoiced! Yay for us!

    Sorry to hear that mate, real sorry.

    H on the other hand sounds as if she is eating quite well, and that’s great food for a dog.

    The dinnerware sounds like fun, and yes it does make you wonder if the notables at table were embarrassed at the outrageous scenes their dining efforts uncovered as the meal progressed. On a serious note, given the pressures applied to weddings (which neither the Editor or I much cared for, or indulged in), eloping isn’t a bad option at all.

    I have a belief that people learn more if they’re having fun. With some of my clients, I do try to keep them amused, and most of the time I’m successful. Very occasionally my humour falls flat, but we can’t be at the top of our game all the time, can we? Anyway, I haven’t had a break from paid work in over three years now, me tired, but probably brought this dog poop of a situation down on my own head due to issues in a past life. Oh well mustn’t grumble.



  31. Hi, Chris!

    Thank you so much for the poem. That means alot to me.

    You are so funny – you and your attachments! But how to know what should be stocked up on ahead, especially expensive parts, and especially when one’s finances are dwindling? What to do, what to do?

    What about population and magic money? If the population increases greatly, but the money supply doesn’t, what happens?

    My husband works with logistics, moving something from here to there, or there to here. For quite awhile he had a terrible time getting shipping containers. Now, they sit empty and unused.

    Thank you for the rainbow. I haven’t been in the right place at the right time to see one in a long time. We had a nice rain yesterday thanks to Hurricane Nicole. It’s all gone now and the sun is back.

    Can wallabies climb? We occasionally build very narrow and long enclosures to keep deer out, instead of one big one, as they cannot jump in without possibly breaking their legs when they hit the fence (I saw that happen once when one that was being chased ran right into a fence).

    I love your Christmas parrots, but even though you told Margaret that they are not as naughty as you make out, I don’t believe I want any.

    Brassica flowers are way underrated; the bees here love them. Thank you for all the other flowers, too.


  32. Yo, Chris – Something I forgot to mention. Poor Packwood! First it was the fires, and then it was the wind. That windstorm we had last Friday, was particularly bad, out there. Many trees came down, homes, out buildings and cars were damaged. I didn’t realize it, but here at the Institution, we lost our flag pole. No worries, it’s back up again. And, a stop sign down at the corner, bit the dust. They’ve got a temporary one set up.

    Prof. Mass has an interesting post on wildfires. Or, the lack thereof.

    I took a look down the rabbit hole. “Can you grow coffee from the green beans.” The first entry said no. But a lot of posts said yes. With instructions. I’d say the trick is to make sure you have Robusto beans, and not the other kind. I get these catalogues from an outfit that sells BBC/PBS/Acorn Media. They sell the DVDs, but also a lot of other tat. Most of it is pretty junky, and probably comes from the Land of Stuff. Some of it is kind of clever. Some of the t-shirts I quote, come from there.

    Anywho. There was something in the last catalog, that made me pause. A sampler of coffee. “Around the World in 12 Coffees.” They’re all Arabica, from different regions of the world. Each packet makes one pot. Doesn’t say how large a pot. $24.95 Plus shipping and handling. That starts at $11, and can run up to $30, if you’re jonesing, and need it for breakfast, tomorrow. 🙂 I don’t drink much coffee, but think: I could become a coffee connoisseur. Right in the privacy of my own home!

    I’ve occasionally driven clerks quit mad, by asking why most hands of bananas come in 6s. When the week has 7 days. A glance into the rabbit hole indicates that a banana hand, on the bush, is 10-20 bananas. I suppose one could dream up all kinds of conspiracy theories.

    I tried a mushroom kit, once, but let it sit around a bit too long before reading the instructions. It’s quit a song and dance. I eventually did get some mushrooms, but not enough to justify the cost of the kit. But I’d like to try it again. And be more on top of what I’m supposed to do.

    There’s a 12 Step Program, for every occasion 🙂 . We’re not really in any danger of closing. We do have $40,000+ in a building fund. Some of it in CDs. We keep our eye open, but the possibilities here are very limited. And, we have requirements. A large drug house, right across the street from the Institution, was recently seized by the sheriff’s department. It will be auctioned. I asked our club manager about it, and he said one word. “Parking?” Well, that put paid to that. It probably isn’t zoned for the use we’d put it to. Other considerations are is it on the bus line, and out of the flood zone. Though most people seem to find the flood risk, acceptable. I try and be patient. The way these things go, when the time is right, the Universe will provide. But we stay alert to possibilities.

    We have several varieties of salamanders, in Western Washington. They’re interesting, benign little creatures. Only one of them has a mildly toxic skin. Mostly found around water.

    What’s that weird glow, behind the couch? 🙂

    President Carter and his wife, have written a number of books. They’re of the inspirational kind, but all quit good. After being president, he putters around his wood shop, building furniture. And he’s quit active in Habitat for Humanity.

    So, once you got to see the Manchurian Pear (not to be confused with the “Manchurian Candidate”), up close and personal, any idea why it happened to break? Inquiring Minds Want To Know. Structural failure do to poor engineering? 🙂

    H got a little fried egg, with her kibble, last night. Always, a favorite. I just happened to see Elinor’s daughter, for a minute. Say’s Elinor is coming home on Monday. Sigh. Lew

  33. Hi Pam,

    Glad you enjoyed the words. And it is the people who take the time to comment here, which make the entire process a joy.

    I have no idea as to what to keep a stock of, and if you have any hints or advice, I’d be happy to hear of it? Other than that, we’ll just muddle along doing our best and hoping to avoid too much trouble.

    And economics is always at the heart of such considerations. Even the really big players pushing new notes out of that big ol’ money printing press have limits, although for all sorts of reasons, consideration of such niceties probably makes for uncomfortable thinking for them, resulting in an inability to acknowledge the limits. And here we are today.

    Exactly, that’s a consideration for sure. That’s why I think about the problem from the ‘stuff and things per capita’ perspective – that takes into account population size. Expectations as far as I understand them, are a claim, and whether that claim can be satisfied, dunno. Add more people in, and there are more claims. It doesn’t take too long before you reach a limit of one sort or another.

    The shipping container thing was another weird note, in a cacophony of weirdness over the past few years. I’ve worked in logistics too in the past, and they seemed to know what they were doing. It surprised me that the distribution of containers ended up being so odd. There was more to that story than we’ll probably ever know about.

    Glad to hear that you got some rain, and candidly that Hurricane appears to have done some damage along the eastern coastline. The autumn seasons here are getting shorter most years. You end up going from warm summer weather to flipping straight into winter. Dunno. It’s probably not good, but it is extending the growing season.

    Nope, wallabies can’t climb, but they can reach up pretty high and tear down branches so they can chew upon the leaves. The fruit trees get damaged by such activities, and it slows down their growth. I prune the trees so as to avoid that outcome, but the trees have to grow past the wallabies possible actions.

    That’s a good idea with the deer fencing. They’re a problem, and I suspect they also chew upon the bark of the fruit trees. Oh well.

    Wise to avoid the parrots. A few minutes ago I was watching a wattle bird up in a horse chestnut consuming the nectar from the flowers. Quite the variety of birds live here, and plenty of them do good works.

    The bees adore the kale flowers here too.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    The severe thunderstorm storms drifted further east in the state, so that was good to have avoided them. Despite that about a third of an inch of rain fell overnight, but today it was warm and cloudy. This morning, given the weather reprieve I got the chainsaw out and cleaned up the remainder of the fallen Manchurian Pear (very funny about the candidate joke, and I think of that too!) Some will be burned off, and other larger chunks have been turned into firewood. Looks like your guess was spot on because the tree appears to have split along the graft. I can’t say for sure why, but maybe it was a combination of heavy rain and wind? Dunno.

    Ah, the ambitions of potential flagpole sitters at your place have been dashed! Unfortunately the combination of wet years, wind and road signs tends to make them fall over. Some have pretty dodgy footings, so no wonder they fail. Fallen trees are a whole next level problem, those things can kill, although you wouldn’t want to be hit by a large road sign either, that wouldn’t be good. And cleaning them up is a slow process, it’s hard and very dangerous work.

    The good Professor makes some very valid points, and I find myself in agreement. Winds are the key factor to providing energy to really large fires. Take away the winds, and things get more manageable. Honestly, I’m of the opinion that the present forest management practices and fire suppression are as susceptible to economics as any other activity. And once locals can regain control and manage local resources, thing will get weird for sure in some areas, but they might also get easier and better. Big fires down here are getting smaller over time anyway, not bigger, despite what people may say. When people get irritated about that, I point to the scale of the 1851 fire which was bigger than all others. Bonkers. Everything is a choice, and the central authoritas demands sole responsibility, but they seem hopeless and driven by ideology.

    Thanks for looking into the Robusta coffee story. If it takes a hundred beans to produce four plants, no drama at all. I’ll have a look into it. The Arabica coffee shrub grows really well here until frost or snow kills it, so I’m not going to try that variety again. There is also an indigenous coffee plant. Who knew?

    Ah, good luck with your coffee odyssey. It’s worth it. 🙂 Very good for your health, apparently.

    Your question is valid and worthy of deeper investigation. There are whispers and suggestions that four to six bananas are easier to pack. I don’t worry too much about banana supply. There is a really old Victorian era banana storage facility along the Yarra River which runs alongside the big smoke called (you guessed it): Banana Alley. If clipper ships could anchor alongside the wharfs and store the contents in the old warehouses, then the trade is probably quite economic. Other more exotic items such as say err, radioactive materials for fission reactors, well, that might not pay the ongoing bills. 😉

    I had the same issue with a mushroom kit in the past. The kit did not pay it’s way, so that was why I wondered aloud about the possibility of a technical book (written for absolute novices) on the subject of growing mushrooms.

    Good to hear, and I never thought you were in imminent danger of closing the Club. I recall you mentioning that option, and the Club managers pragmatic response. Long ago we once considered an older style large home on a big block which had been used for such naughty activities. In hindsight, it would have been an interesting purchase and probably an astute investment. But the risk was not insignificant. Anyway, I recall the house had a fireman’s pole which you could slide down between one level and the next. I’m pretty sure that wasn’t part of the original Federation style architecture. I can’t now even recall whether it had a large backyard, but it might have.

    I have to live with fire risk, so I do understand the flood risk issue. However, flood risk is an equal opportunity event, whereas fire risk in some ways can be managed more cheaply. Levee banks and retaining walls ain’t cheap.

    Oh no! Weird glows from behind the couch are bad things. 😉 There’s always the garbage chute, but you didn’t hear that from me, and make sure the glowy stuff ends up in bin and not on the floor. For all anyone knows, aliens may have dumped it there?

    So, as you do I went on a bit of an interweb rabbit hole in relation to Mr Carter, and he’s something of a firebrand, but you know, I kinda like his style. He’s OK that bloke.

    Good luck, and hope that Elinor returns home and that all returns to quiet normalcy for a while. Hope H is OK with the upheavals?

    Cheers (and better get writing!)


  35. Yo, Chris – I doubt I’ll go on the coffee odyssey. You’ll shudder, but I’m pretty happy with the one cuppa I have, anytime I go to the Club. Tea on the other hand … Well, you remember the tea odyssey. Gotta have my Stash tea. Fie! on the lack of local supply. The net provided. Guess it’s worth something.

    I took a look in the rabbit hole, as I was going to make a comment about spiders in the bananas being an urban legend. Not so. It happens.

    Well, of course, Stamets “The Mushroom Cultivator” is the go-to mushroom growing books. But if you search “Books on growing mushrooms at home?” several other options pop up. Our library has several of them, and I took a look at them as they came through. Some looked pretty good. But I can’t tell you which one’s were the best. They all looked pretty good, for the basics.

    Weird glow from behind the couch: Can you read by it? 🙂

    I ran into Elinor’s daughter, for a minute, yesterday. She said Elinor’s coming home, tomorrow (Monday). Wonder how she’s getting here? I haven’t turned my phone on in two days. And may not, today. Lew

Comments are closed.