Guide to better living

Next Saturday an election will be held for both the upper and lower houses for the state parliament. There are other, and perhaps better activities than voting, which were planned for next Saturday. With those other plans in mind, Sandra and I went and placed early votes.

What annoys me about the voting process is running the gauntlet of political candidates and other interested folks standing outside the polling place. They’re the ones handing out ‘how to vote’ pamphlets. The first to approach me was a young bloke representing the local Labour party (a Democrat equivalent in US parlance). He was approaching me as if he’d encountered a long lost friend, except I wasn’t. Just before he got a word in, a brusque hand signal and the words: “I’m just not into you lot”, spewed forth.

Where did that come from? Before I knew what had gripped me, a well of anger had surged into my consciousness. Serenity now! Serenity now! I used to be a rusted on supporter of the Labour party. However, they were at the helm of the state when we endured the longest lock down on the planet due to the health subject which dare not be named. It’s not an achievement to be proud of, and maybe I’m still carrying some residual trauma from that episode.

So I stomped off past the startled young bloke, only to be accosted by the local sitting member of the same political party. “Hi! I’m … the local member”. And whilst I make an effort to act with good grace at all times, the best I could manage was an assertive “No”. I’m not even sure what I meant by that, such was my state of mind at the time. The other folks standing around, perhaps reading the situation, left me well alone

Continuing to stomp on past that lot. A bloke near to the entrance of the polling place said to me: “Ooo, I like your style”. Thanks, came the reply. Now where had Sandra gotten too? Turning around, there was Sandra suggesting to the local member that if she wanted to get re-elected, then responding to constituents concerns was probably one effective way. I can’t even recall if the answer to the suggestion was coherent, but it was probably consistent with the members previous responses, i.e. nothing. We voted at the polling place, then went to the bank. Yep, a real fun day.

Searching within myself, there really is trauma hiding there after having endured the longest lock downs on the planet due to you-know-what. One of the lock downs went for four months, and nobody in the state government could recall who had made the decision to do so. That is a level of incompetence which I cannot support. And it felt like living in a police state, what with the prolonged curfews, non lethal projectiles used against protesters, women getting dragged from their homes for saying stupid things on the interweb, and let’s not forget the military and police checkpoints. If ever you wanted to document how quickly a previously civil society can descend into authoritarianism, well that’s been my life over the past couple of years. And the state of emergency was only quietly lifted very recently. Yeah, trauma.

Thursday morning, prior to voting, I switched my phone off. Emails were also switched off. Due to all of the craziness from you-know-what, I’ve ended up doing paid work continuously for three solid years without more than a few days break at any one time. And that Thursday morning, I was done. Enough. I’ve been helping people and businesses who pay me to work for them during this time, even when they were sometimes unable to help themselves. That’s taken an enormous amount of personal energy, and now they need to help me by giving me a break.

Switching the phone off was merely a first step. Over the summer Christmas break we plan to shut the business down for four weeks. Even then, there is paid work I can’t reasonably escape from. So in reality the four weeks means two uninterrupted weeks, and two interrupted weeks. That’s enough for me though.

Of late I’ve been contemplating issues surrounding the right to switch off and become inaccessible. New clients always tell me how hard it was to contact their former accountant, and that suggests an expectation. That story is consistent too. However, the quality of communication has decreased at the same time that the ability to communicate has increased. I guess something had to give, and what with emails and mobile phones these days, that aspect was my time.

What a surprise, it rained again this week. Sometimes quite heavily. It’s quite tropical feeling out there.

More heavy rain this week

For a bit of excitement, one evening the outside air temperature dropped to 1’C / 34’F. Not a bad effort for only two weeks out from the official beginning of summer. And it is not something you want to experience if you have an orchard, or are growing any edible plants outdoors at this time of year.

One evening the outside air temperature was 1’C / 34’F

Following another particularly heavy storm, the water flowed out of the ground water drains twelve hours afterwards. The soil is saturated.

A ground water drain continues to run twelve hours after the rain ceased

There was a single day this week when the sun shone, and it was a welcome reminder as to what spring feels like. We used the dry day to pour the cement for the final concrete tread in the staircase between the large shed and the greenhouse. Rain is actually quite beneficial to curing concrete, but rain (or dog footprints) is also something you don’t want to see whilst the cement surface has not yet set.

The staircase between the large shed and the greenhouse is now complete

Last week we recovered a dozen timber posts from the old raspberry enclosure. Those posts and some chicken mesh fencing wire were moved downhill to where they will be used as fencing with the new much larger vegetable and citrus enclosure.

A dozen recovered timber posts were moved to where they’ll be used as fencing

When the sun did shine, we mowed. The grass is growing at an alarming rate. I also used the brush-cutter (line trimmer in US parlance) to remove the grass from around most of the trees in the shady orchard. It’s looking pretty lush in there.

The grass in the shady orchard was cleaned up

Observant readers will see in the next photo, just how long the grass had become in some areas.

The grass was almost as tall as some of the smaller Rhododendron plants

Some of the many paths were also becoming quite overgrown, and those were cut back with a hedge trimmer.

The cut back plant material will end up thrown onto garden beds

Long term readers will know that the rats and I are no friends. Dame Plum and I have hunted and killed a lot of rats this year, and after a lot of modifications, they’ve been successfully excluded from the chicken enclosure. Recently my mind has been working upon ways to exclude rats from the underneath of the house. This week, we began adding a layer of heavier rocks around the house. The rats will have a lot of trouble moving these heavier rocks so as to get access under the house.

As with the chicken enclosure, I’ll set systems in place to thwart the rats. The systems will fail, but by considering the failure and how to respond, I’ll learn more about the rats. It took about maybe fifteen or sixteen separate modifications to exclude the rats from the chicken enclosure, and no doubt as much work will be required to keep them out from the underneath of the house. At the moment, all I’m certain of is that they’re not happy, the cheeky scamps.

The seedlings in the greenhouse continue to grow.

The seedlings in the greenhouse continue to grow

With summer only one week away, and it being yet another cold and wet year, the growing season will be short. With this in mind we purchased and planted out some seedlings for chili plants so as to get a head start on the growing season.

An unusual arrangement of plants: Strawberry + Japanese Ginger + Chili
More chili seedlings were planted in other parts of the greenhouse

Some of the more cold tolerant citrus plants are producing really well.

Pomello (a type of grapefruit) has enjoyed the cold and wet year

The pink flowering hybrid Strawberry plants tease us with the promise of ripe and juicy Strawberries.

This pink flowering hybrid-Strawberry is doing better than the more traditional varieties

And there are heaps of leafy greens to choose from. We eat a lot of leafy greens.

There are plenty of leafy greens to consume

Onto the flowers:

OK, so this is not a flower, but rather Dame Plum pulling intelligent dog face number five
I’m genuinely surprised that the succulents such as this Pig Face are enjoying the conditions
It takes very little sun for these succulents to bloom
The Rhododendron’s are enjoying the conditions better than any other plant

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 6’C (42’F). So far this year there has been 1,351.4mm (53.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,278.4mm (50.3 inches)

44 thoughts on “Guide to better living”

  1. Hi Chris,
    I discovered by chance that strawberries and myoga ginger really like growing together, so that’s a great pairing in your greenhouse whether you realise it or not. I don’t have any advice on the chillies though. Cheers.

  2. Yo, Chris – “I’ll take “Grinspoon” for $50, Bob.” Grunge. Really? 🙂

    Yeah, I’d say you’ve got some PTSD going on. Good for the Editor. Not often we get to put the screws to these people. We have candidate debates, and town halls, and such. But no one ever seems to ask the hard questions. Maybe they’re all suffering from a form of that French stairway thing. “I wish I would have asked … ”

    Even Mr. Greer takes a month off, every year. Now, I am the master of inaccessible. But then, my situation is quit a bit different. And, I’ve worked at it, for years. Being retired and an orphan, helps. My philosophy is pretty much, “I’ve got e-mail, I’ve got a flip phone where you can leave a voice mail. For that matter, there’s the US Post. What else do you want from me?” There’s a young lady who’s one of the caregivers, in the building. I’ve never seen her without her being plugged into her device. I now know the entire menu of her Thanksgiving dinner.

    Ollie looks very stately. Put a ring in his mouth, and you could hitch horses to him. 🙂

    Dame Plum on the other hand … I’d say that’s more a “If looks could kill…” She’s probably thinking of rats.

    Lots of potential bounty, out there in the garden. And in the greenhouse. Who knows? The climate switch could trip, we’d be in an El Nino, and things could get very different, very fast. I wonder if we’ll have a three year El Nino?

    Grass. Give it enough water, turn your back on it, and it will take over.

    The flowers are all very lovely. Lew

  3. Hi Stephen,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    Thanks for the confirmation that what seemed like an unlikely pairing, works pretty well. I assume you’ve trialled that combination in your garden – and that’s how you found out? There’s a story there, for sure. 🙂 It is of interest that both plants appear to enjoy the same soil temperatures and watering regime. I’m trialling some of the more traditional ginger tubers, but it’s going to be a very short growing season, if the current conditions continue. Oh well.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Well done you. That is a direct hit for your guess, and you’ve learned something about a very excellent Australian rock band. From what I understand, they went a bit off the rails, and could have used some help. Grinspoon frontman tells of ‘ice’ addiction.

    Yeah, I dunno how to shake the PTSD, but I’ll take some time out from paid work over this summer and work and reflect. I do my best inner work, when my body is actively doing physical work. I dunno why that is, but it is. It’s a mentally relaxing state for me. And absolutely, the Editor asks the hard questions. Possibly in your part of the world emotions have been so stoked that the politicians need some distance. They did bring that gear down on their own heads. There are easier ways of doing their job.

    True, Mr Greer does take a month off most years. The blog is a lot of fun and enjoyment for me, so it is no hardship to continue. Paid work on the other hand uses a part of my brain which can be worn out, especially if boundaries get crossed, as has been the case lately. I’m usually pretty good at compartmentalising, but the past couple of years of craziness has forced me to go over and beyond, and some folks have not yet woken from their other concerns. Man, I dunno, the crazy currents have caused some folks to withdraw into themselves, and that is not a safe space at this point in history. I really don’t know what to do, but perhaps time will all sort it out? Dunno.

    And yes, exactly: What else do you want from me? I so hear you about that, and applaud your defensive manoeuvres. At the height of the crazy period there was a popular song with the lyrics “Everyone wants something all the f@#king time”. It kind of resonated, but hey that’s probably PTSD for ya! 🙂

    Ollie is stately, but I don’t believe that he’d enjoy your suggestion. Has his ideas, he does! Trust me on this, Dame Plum has focus. Right now she is hassling me to go out and kill some rats, but it’s 39’F and raining outside. No. Revolting weather, and the wind blew with extraordinary strength today. Almost as strong as I’ve ever seen it here. The tropical and polar jet streams joined as you’d expect and they merged into a proper thumper. The trees were swirling around, which is quite unnerving to watch a 165ft tree doing the hippy hippy shake. So far no downed trees here, but not too far away, they fell over. A lot of work to clean up.

    There’s always something to eat, although a person may tire of the diet. It troubles me that tubers grow well here, whilst grains are a bit marginal.

    It’s possible that the climate could switch, but then we had a double one-two combo of the Black Summer bushfires followed by the Tongan underwater volcano, so a fourth year wouldn’t surprise. Incidentally, they’ve recently discovered that volcano was a far bigger blast than was at first realised. No wonder the weather is bonkers here. And it rained today, and I was talking to someone west of here where it snowed. It just didn’t get quite that cold here, but it was almost there.

    Grass, did you just say: Triffid? 🙂

    OK, so at 25’F it was colder at your place, and I mustn’t whinge. Or at least try not to, but then disappointment is part of life don’t you reckon?

    I’m on the outside of the volcano – I think. Someone once suggested to me that the massive dam in the Barringo Valley directly below the farm is actually one giant crater. It was meant to be a super volcano, and had something to do with a major extinction event when it went off, but I’m hazy about the details. Look, if it went off and I was here, the end might be pretty quick. Did you hear somethi… (didn’t get to finish). The 5.9 earthquake was centered far to the east of here, but it was no less potent feeling.

    It is possible about the property values. I never would have thought of that, but there doesn’t seem any rational reason as to why it should be as it is. Hmm. Aussie girl’s life threatening mistake in innocent video. Lottery ticket time for them.

    It’s a fair concern because last night one or two strong wind gusts hit the side of the house pretty hard. The house was designed with high winds in mind, and we survived a minor tornado many years ago. That was crazy windy and dumped a huge amount of rain. Not a fan. Now me being out there in that with an umbrella, yeah that is risky.

    Hehe! Yes, you are probably correct about the creativity. From another perspective, in this particular situation, it might not be a bad thing. Who knows what might contact the folks?

    Mate, I reckon that cutting loose thing is very hard for many people, and I have no idea as why that may be, especially if the family environment is really toxic. I couldn’t wait to get away from them, they were such a pain. But then none of them could be bothered pulling me back into that sphere, so I dunno. Everyone has different strengths and reserves they can draw upon.

    Actually, I do vaguely recall your 12 pound turkey adventure. They’re a complicated bird to roast, because ensuring all of the meat is cooked, whilst not drying out the meat is the challenge – from what I’ve heard said by knowledgeable people. That ain’t just your country, food is getting more expensive here too.

    In Man vs Rat, the evil rat empire has made a break out, or break in. Not sure, but they don’t know I’m about to plug up that gap. Take that ye’ pesky rats!

    We contacted the manufacturer this morning, and they’re sending out a replacement part – and didn’t want the faulty part returned. Not a bad ending, if we get the part. We’ll see.

    Hehe! It’s an important topic, and such a lost opportunity. Gene Logsdon wrote a good book on the topic titled: “Holy Shit!” Very clever naming. Glad you’re enjoying the book. In the future people will wonder whatever was it that we were thinking?



  5. Hello Chris
    I am just back from my weekly trip into town. Am soaked through. Son thought that I would ring him and say that we weren’t going. I don’t do that because it seems unfair. He gives up a mornings work in order to take me out and today’s weather is so bad that he wouldn’t have been able to work anyhow.
    Wind and rain and a terrible shipping forecast for the area. Our dirt road is a river.

    In the UK it is illegal to try and recruit a voter on voting day. The radio and television go quiet on the subject and one is is not ambushed when one goes to vote. Clearly Australia should copy this.

    Have just informed friends and family overseas, that for the first time ever, I am not sending them Christmas cards. Our postal service has become appalling, strike after strike and more and more post offices closing down. In many ways it is becoming harder and harder to function efficiently.

    One could moan on and on.


  6. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article by the Grinspoon frontman. Yup. That’s what addiction (of any variety) is like from the inside. And it all just seems so … normal.

    I also had a lot of anger and resentment, at not getting any local support for any of my various business ventures. Took me five years living in the wilderness, to get a handle on it. It’s manageable enough, now, that when my mind starts spiraling into that black hole, I just say to myself, “Oh, let’s think of something different.” Of course, you already live in the wilderness, so, well, never mind … 🙂

    I partially blame corporate speak, for the current state of political discourse. All verbiage and no content. You try and pin these people down, and all you get is “Well, it’s perfectly obvious.” Explain your “obvious” to me. Maybe draw pictures. Or they say something outrageous, shock your mama. Which either elicits stunned silence or cheers from the masses.

    I think your right. Parts of the brain wear out. The onerous tasks parts.

    Dame Plume has found her mission in life (rats!) and just wants to get on with it.

    Yikes! That sounds like you’re getting some weather. Wind can be kind of exciting, as long as it doesn’t get out of hand. Glad I didn’t have a mouthful of tea, when I read your line about the trees doing the “hippy hippy shake.” But can they shimmy like my sister Kate?

    I’d say there’s going to be some major deposits, in the Firewood Bank of Fernwood Farm. Can you have too much of a good thing? I suppose you can burn some of it off, and use it for very good fertilizer. Or, build a stockade, around the place.

    Woody Harrelson gets up close and personal, with a super volcano (Yellowstone), in the film 2012.

    Stewy the Snake Catcher looks like he enjoys his job. The young girl will probably become a world renowned herpetologist. I wonder if Stewy is looking for an apprentice? 🙂

    Guilt. Families use guilt. And it’s supported by a lot of institution, out there. I once read a line that stuck with me. “My mother used guilt like a scalpel.”

    It’s raining turkeys. The Club bought two for Thanksgiving. Then someone donated another one. And, someone else donated another one. Four birds and counting. If they haven’t thought of it already, I’m going to suggest they raffle off one (or two) for Christmas. Now that’s a raffle I could get behind. Unlike the raffle of a Seahawks (a sports team) blanket. I’d spend serious money, on a shot at a turkey.

    I’m foul at fowl. But turkeys are easy. Thanks to a meat thermometer. I crumple up some foil for the bottom of the roaster (cause I don’t have a rack) to hold the bird up out of it’s own juices. You can always slip a little butter, under the skin. Baste it with a turkey baster, from time to time. Toss on a piece of foil, when it starts to brown. Holds the juices in, but won’t get over browned.

    I may get to take home a carcass, or two, to make turkey stock. We have quaint, curious and strange customs, on these foreign shores. Such as the annual Presidential Turkey Pardon.

    Another book I picked up from the library, was “Home to Stay!: The Complete Ray Bradbury EC Stories.” What a honker of a book. 10 x 14 inches. Put legs on it, and you can use it as a coffee table. Or at least an occasional table. Interesting story. Back in the 1950, EC comics stole a few of Bradbury’s stories. He caught on after they published about five. Did he sic his lawyers on them? Nope. With a bit of good humor, he pounded out an agreement with them. And they published quit a few of his stories. So this book is a reproduction of all the comic stories.

    As an interesting sidelight, after a certain point, Bradbury asked that his name be taken off the cover. Along with the hunt for Commies under the bed, the Congress started investigating comic books. Thought they rotted young brains, or something. Silly. Lew

  7. @ Pam,

    From last week…So sorry to hear about your mother’s situation. Falls at my age are scary. For the older generation falling is terrifying to contemplate or observe. Stay strong.


  8. Chris,

    Your math for -11C = +12.2F is correct. Try converting -11.4286C to degrees F. Interestingly, “4286” were the last 4 digits of the phone number at my parent’s house for 43 years.

    Also, we’re having a “heat wave”. We bottomed out at -12.78C Friday night/Saturday morning. We had carving club Saturday. One of the other carvers said that it was -16.67C at his house. Brrr! It was a warmer -8C Sunday night.

    I feel your pain regarding the elections. We don’t answer the phones around here if we don’t recognize the caller’s number. Most such calls leave no voice mail, so I figure they were politicians or some other type of junk. I watch very little television during election season, as most of the commercials are from habitual liars, errrr, politicians. Disgusting fare to be subjected to.

    Glad you’re going to get some much-needed time off. The veterinarian that we used to have got burned out during covid. People had more time on their hands, bought pets, didn’t know what to do with them when they burped or farted, so overwhelmed the vet. With rudeness. Can’t blame him for quitting and doing something else.

    Switching off and tuning out is something that is very important. These businesses that require 24/7 connectivity of their staff are ridiculously insane. Or are they insanely ridiculous? Or maybe they are rinsaneulous? Having a few weeks of being mostly disconnected and being able to figure out why the trauma and how to cope with it will be very good. Hope it works for you.

    Oh cool! You have a stoic Ollie on the steps. What A wonderful picture. He looks impressive sitting in the meadow, also.

    Meanwhile, I really enjoyed the photo of the Dame Plum flower. 😉

    Thanks also for the succulent photos. There’s something special about succulents when flowering.

    The Princess returned from her monthly trip to see her brother. Avalanche, whose health is drastically improving, was happy to see her. Then jealous that she had to share me with the Princess. It took a lot of extra tenderness and attention to guide her out of her jealous mood.


  9. Hi Inge,

    Yikes! I hope you were appropriately attired young lady! Said in best mother voice. 🙂 You have my sympathy for the journey into town gone wrong. It’s no good to be soaked through, and that happened to us on Saturday when the rain hit, and we were working out in the orchard. The rain began slowly, and lulled us into a false sense of confidence, then the rain went thump and dump, and we too ended up soaked through.

    Hope your shopping survived the deluge? And your description of the weather and roads (excluding the shipping) is remarkably similar to the conditions here. The wind yesterday was extraordinary and woke me at several points in the night when the side of the house was slammed by a particularly robust gust of wind.

    Yes, your laws in that regard are particularly sensible. Trust me, this election passions have been ignited, and there have been scenes. Hmm, as a general rule we are a very orderly bunch down here, but then circumstances have been odd of late.

    Speaking of which, I heard a rumour that new bank accounts in your country are difficult to obtain. That rumour sounds extraordinary, have you heard any such talk?

    That’s what decline looks like to me. Costs are being shed, whilst others try for a larger slice of the pie. It wasn’t all that long ago that the postal service down here used to promise next day delivery.

    I enjoy a good moan. Second rate moans need not apply! 🙂



  10. Hi Lewis,

    I thought you’d appreciate the front-man’s experience. I recall at the time that in the media he was remarkably honest about the experience. And you could see that he hit a personal low point, went a bit further, and then came back from the brink. My understanding was that he got help from some of the people who were still close to him. They’re still performing these days, a good showman can hit a rough patch, pick themselves up, and continue on with the show. And you’re right too, the definition of normal would most certainly change during such a time.

    Business is hard, everyone wants a chunk of the action. Some require a chunk for doing not much for the excuse: just because. I hear you about that, and try to support all of the people who pay for my services. I’m just tired on that front after three continuous years without a break. I’ve begun conversations with everyone about cutting off access for a few weeks over Christmas. Just in case though, I’ll switch off the phone and email. That part of the brain does the onerous task thinkin’! 🙂 I like the way you put that.

    I agree, there is a lack of plain speaking, and dissembling has become something of an art form. The problem as I see it though, is that if they’re saying nothing, they’re probably doing nothing. This is a bad thing, because sometimes things need to be done. I’ve heard people propose all sorts of conspiracies and stuff, but it is possible that the management elite are simply mostly stupid. The lack of accountability and enforcement of consequences, encourages such foolishness.

    True, and Dame Plum just had have a worm tablet shoved down her throat. Hunting rats and rabbits has consequences. 🙂

    Ouch, despite having an excellent cast, including Isla Fisher, the movie seems to have been canned by the critics.

    Too much cut and split firewood for future seasons? Me thinks not. 🙂 Others may have different opinions, and that is their issue. We keep a couple of years worth on the go in case one or both of us gets sick or injured. Firewood being kind of important during the long winter months.

    Woody copped it bad in that scene. Thus I guess, awaits the fate of the true believer! 🙂 Seriously, the RV didn’t stand a chance, let alone the aircraft. Sometimes you want to have left the half hour beforehand. Didn’t someone try to outrun the Mount St Helens eruption in some sort of motor vehicle? I note that the recent Tongan volcano was a biggerer eruption. There was an article on the latest underwater survey: The ‘mind-blowing’ sea floor changes caused by Tongan volcanic eruption. I’d suggest that 9.5 cubic kilometres of material sounds like a lot of stuff, even in metric!

    The facts do tend to speak for themselves with the precocious snake handling child, and yes a future in the field of – what was that again – herpetology, is in order. To not have been bitten suggests that she has something of a gift with the critters in that she knew enough not to razz the snake up or threaten it. Stewy’s gonna need an apprentice sooner or later.

    Wow. That line about guilt is brutal. I’ve witnessed that trip being laid down hard on people, and it leaves scars. From what I’ve observed is that with that tool, there is a lot of push-pull going on, and it keeps people off balance. That’s no good. My lot were a bit more direct in their antipathy.

    Hallelujah, it’s raining turkeys! 🙂 Your suggestion is pretty good, and will add a bit of extra fun to the Thanksgiving feast, and raise some much needed mad cash. An old school meat raffle is a bit of a tradition down under, although you rarely hear of such things nowadays. It has a long history though with pubs and clubs. I’ll bet the blanket was made from synthetic materials too? Don’t get such too close to a heater.

    Speaking of which I purchased a fire extinguisher and fire blanket today. The other day I was wondering what would happen if there was a fire in the battery room, what with all the electrical stuff in there. Hmm. Can’t use water to put out such a fire. Sometimes it is the stuff you don’t think about which can cause a lot of hassle.

    Please excuse the pun, but you’re on fire tonight! 🙂 Couldn’t help myself there. Ah, the meat thermometer and separating out the essential pan juices. Interesting.

    Who would have thought that your Presidents have a sense of humour, and love a good publicity stunt? Good investigative journalism too, if I may be so bold as to say so.

    I didn’t know what about comics coming under fire during that crazy epoch of your nation. A whole of effort was expended, a lot of pain caused, and mostly for naught. Sometimes crazy, is actually crazy. Hope things get back to normal in your country.



  11. Hi DJ,

    Ah, went to the pub this evening. The day had been cold, 17’C and of course raining at times. Had a delightful pint of sour ale, which was very good. And a pizza. I seek comfort in life’s small enjoyments.

    Sorry, forgot to mention, it is the mid-week hiatus. Will talk tomorrow.

    But, before I go, I’ll share a weird story from this morning. Found a really good park (a red flag warning if ever there was one). Parked the car, walked around to the concrete curb and spotted a hole in the road. The car wheel was resting upon the concrete curb and had missed the hole. It was alarmingly deep, and didn’t appear to be a service hole, rather a collapse under the asphalt. Moved the car, as you do to a lesser car park. One must be sensible when it comes to assessing risk. But that was weird, and kind of a good metaphor for infrastructure. Took a photo, but who knows how that will work out.



  12. Hello Chris
    No I hadn’t heard about difficulty in getting a new bank account. Shall keep eyes and ears open. There was mention in the news of banks possibly having a shortage of cash over Christmas, due to delivery problems. One more attempt to push us towards card use?


  13. Hi Chris,
    I’ve never been accosted while voting. Even signs need to be a distance from a polling place. However, both the polling place at our old house and new one are quite small. The advertising is so obnoxious. We generally watch the news in the evening though why, I’m not sure as it’s usually a waste of time. The commercial breaks were filled with political vitriol.

    I’m glad to read that you are taking time off. The lockdown situation in your country was so much worse than here. I would be surprised if anyone didn’t have lingering effects after the last few years. I have to say that I know quite a few people, some of them family members, who are suffering the after effects.

    With all your rain I’m amazed that you can get anything done outside.

    Another switch in the weather – it’s now a bit warmer than normal.

    Going to Carla’s tomorrow to help her with Thanksgiving prep. I think this is the 5th year she’s hosted and more power to her. She seems to really love it. She makes themed charcuterie boards for all holidays and for friends as well. They are so creative she could sell them but health rules don’t allow that kind of thing. I heard through the family grapevine that she’s also making a butter board as well. The cooks, the two fat ladies, would be proud. This was a new one on me. I asked her recently if she had it to do over again what kind of work would she do and she replied “event planner”.


  14. @Pam and DJ

    A friend, fellow retiree and book club member had quite a fall day before yesterday. Pat, who is 85 and pretty frail didn’t show up to book club on Sunday as she said she would. We called and texted but no reply. A couple of members who lived near her went to check and no answer. They had the police do a wellness check and when they were able to enter her house, heard the shower going. They called to her but all she said was she was in the shower. She told our friends who were checking on her the same but she didn’t come out. The friends finally entered (the police had left) and found that she had fallen in the tub and couldn’t get up and the shower had been running for hours resulting in some pretty significant burns. She was transferred to a burn unit but was able to come home the next day and is doing pretty well. All her kids flew in right away from the east coast. Now Pat is very independent and stubborn. She lives alone and even though she’s had several falls already didn’t have one of the medic alert buttons. No neighbor or friend had a key to her house either. I’m guessing her kids are going to insist on some changes. We’ll see if Pat will agree.


  15. Yo, Chris – ….and, in news from the culinary world, Spam® is coming out with a holiday special. Canned figgy pudding. Reading an article about it, I discovered that figgy pudding (at least these days), has no figs in it. And plum pudding has no plums. Next they’ll be casting doubt on the existence of St. Nick! Not to be outdone by the canned pudding folk, also on offer this holiday season is green bean casserole seltzer. Or maybe it’s soda.

    Reading over your shoulder, maybe that hole is the beginning of a giant sinkhole. Although, I don’t think Australia is prone to those things. You need a lot of subsurface limestone and dripping water.

    I’d say the frontman is still on his pink cloud. Not too much recovery under his belt. Check back with me in a year. Then three years. Then seven. Although I found out a long time ago, I can not predict who’s going to make if for the long haul, and who won’t. The most unlikely people manage to pull it off. Look at me! 🙂

    Well, I gather you’ve got pretty good relationships with your clients. They should respect your wishes for a bit of time off. “Don’t call (or text or e-mail) me, unless the place is burning down!”

    Dissembling. I’ve got a fairly sensitive BS meter, which comes in handy. I don’t know if I was born with it, or cultivated it. Nature or nurture? 🙂 I’d like to meet some of these people, close up and personal. “Look me in the eye and say that.” Slowly. Now, with conviction.

    I quit liked the film “Blithe Spirit.” Although I may have been taken with all the Art Deco interiors, bits and bobs. I’m sure a lot of people don’t even know who Noel Coward is. And, I suppose his sophisticated, dry humor is out of style.

    A young geologist, David Johnston, at Mt. St. Helens, had the Woody experience. The lateral blast just wasn’t expected. His last words, by radio, were, “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!” They never found him. They’ve named his old campsite, Johnston Ridge Observatory. Several people did outrun the eruption. Just depended on how far out you were from it, and if directly in the path of the lateral blast, or not.

    That was an interesting article on the Tonga eruption. It probably looks like this …

    …except underwater and much larger. There’s probably a dome building in the Tonga caldera, or, will be.

    Elinor had a “spell” yesterday, and called the EMTs. But, declined to go to the hospital. As she has a doctor’s appointment, this morning. She thinks her doctor will come up with some magical combination of pills that will regulate her pulse, blood pressure and anxiety. Her caregiver took her, so H and I headed for the Club, and I’ve got her until Elinor returns from the doctor.

    There was no biscuits and gravy :-(. The cook had the vapors, but I think really she’s just wound up and distracted by Thanksgiving. So, I brought H home and fed her some mixed vegetables with peanut butter. Seemed to satisfy her. I floated the turkey raffle idea, and there’s interest. But also some back and forth about turkeys, and what the Club is doing for Christmas and New Year’s Day. If anything. Anyway. The idea is out there.

    Your right. I used to hear a lot more about turkey raffles, back in Ye Olde Days. And also in the past, there were turkey shoots. Sometimes at live turkeys, sometimes a marksmanship competition, with the prize being a sometimes, live turkey. I saw my friend Julia, and she said her turkey (she has one, that I think is more of a pet), has molted at great speed. Much to her surprise.

    The extinguisher and fire blanket are a good idea. Might want to pick up a few more of those blankets. Many a wildfire firefighter has been saved by those blankets.

    The thing about Ray Bradbury was that he loved comics. Even as an adult. Which was rare back then. So he was predisposed to work with them. They really lucked out, when they decided to steal his ideas.

    Someone is always trying to legislate their idea of morality. While the general population is stampeding in some other direction. It never works out well, or lasts for long. But in the meantime, it’s a pain in the … ear. Lew

  16. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the confirmation of the maths. You know, there is a part of me which understands that maths is another language, and my mind backs away ever so slowly from the implications of that. The Editor has a gift for maths, but it would take much hard work for me to get to that level.

    Hey, you knew that sweet spot in the number spectrum. 🙂 Like your style, but in order for it to work I had to round to four decimal places. The question really is, could I have done so after a pint and pizza? Truth to tell, I initially read the number last night as -11.4286’F and can’t really be sure why I did that. You clearly marked the number correctly.

    And I so hear you about that memory skill with the phone number. It is a professional hazard for me, and over the years I had to learn to forget. Try that one for size! On the other hand there were times when the memory remained and I was haunted by an understanding that a certain number in a certain context was a symbol to a larger narrative. Numbers my friend, are every bit as dangerous as words, for they are both languages and have larger meanings than would appear at first glance. And us simians can think in abstract terms. People can get lost in the detail, but I do my best to step back and away and say: What are these collections of numbers in that arrangement saying to me. There is always a story to be read there.

    Very funny. Yes, a true heat wave. Mate, a poignant memory for me was sitting in the local fire brigade shed during winter. The outside temperature was near to zero (Celsius in these civilised areas! 😉 ) and snow fell gently upon the roof of the shed. It was cold inside the shed too, and the leader of the group was suggesting that it was going to be a bad fire season – yet there was snowing falling just outside the door. Makes a person decide to do something more constructive with their limited time – which quietly gratefully has exceeded 42 years. A bit touch and go there, but we made it – and slid in a Hitch-hikers reference to boot. Winning!

    I no longer answer phone calls where the number is not in the contacts list. Saves a lot of trouble, and who wants to talk to robots? Did it work out all that well with ED-209?

    Man, I feel the pain of the veterinarian. Last Christmas due to lock downs, people were at home presumably bored and contacting me about their business. There’s only one of me… Today I was being pressured to do something soon, and brought out the big gun: Haven’t had a break for three years. I know them by their actions.

    Interestingly, the state police here (it’s run on a state basis, and not a county basis like in your country) recently won the right to switch off out of hours. Well done them. The bosses might have sent good people mad. It’s no good that culture. We had a very popular Prime Minister a few years ago, and I reckon he got burned out. A shame as he was doing some good. Another Prime Minister managed expectations by setting firm boundaries – and forcing journalists onto a daily long walk. Hehe! Sorts the men out from the boys, huh?

    Ollie is an impressive dog, and such a gentle spirit. Sometimes the two girls hang off his jowls with their teeth, and he’s so nice to them. He makes the slightest groan of discontent, and then lifts his head up out of reach. They love Ollie, but sometimes they’re not very nice to him those two cheeky scamps.

    Spare a thought for Dame Plum who scored a very seriously large multi wormer tablet shoved down her throat last evening. That will learn her (!) for consorting with rabbits and other varmints. 🙂

    Avalanche has bonded with you. This is a special trust.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Oh man, almost forgot. Did you catch the story about the bloke in the UK who found the medieval gold and diamond ring which is now up for auction? Not a bad hourly rate, and can you imagine the scenes from 600 years ago: You lost, what? They might have been a bit hasty with sharp edged forged steel in those days. Of course the person all those years ago may have come to a bad end and has since entirely decomposed.

    Canned figgy pudding sounds a bit awful. But then. Yes, but then. I recall my grandmother used to make Christmas puddings months in advance, and then leave them to hang in from the ceiling in the laundry in what I believe are calico bags. The puddings were awesome and always served with fresh custard. Yum! Hmm, an intriguing meal. I might look into this matter further.

    St Nick! An outrageous slander upon the good Saints name. 🙂 Of course the dude was real. The flying reindeer and south pole elf business, that is perhaps drawing a long bow.

    Oh my, but we get sink holes here. Oh yeah. I recall one notable example of a main sewer collapsing long ago from memory in Epsom Road which was about 33 feet in diameter and 50 feet deep. That sure stopped traffic and caused a bit of mayhem. The rains have caused a few to appear in some flood affected areas (as was the case near to where I parked) Sinkholes the size of swimming pools taking in floodwater and sewage in the Hunter Valley. Not good.

    I defer to your experience, but also note that the road to recovery is a long haul journey, not some quick trip to the local pub. I hear ya. And I agree, it really is hard to know who will and who won’t put in the hard yards and stay the course. And respect to you. Mate, I tell ya, when back in 2005, all my mates in one foul swoop (bar one exception – the mate who died two years back) got into online computer games, I lost most of my friends in one hit. A brutal experience, but I couldn’t follow them. No way. I pulled myself out of that quagmire and had no desire to re-enter the swamp. Plus, I’ve got better friends these days. 🙂

    Hehe! I’m spreading the word as to my desires for some quiet time. Already earlier today my boundaries were being pushed at, but I brought out the big gun: No break in three years, need break, ugg. To be honest, peering into the persons eyes (and I barely knew the bloke) he had the air of one who disbelieves my story.

    There is confusion ‘out there’ about what is an emergency, and what is a day to day experience.

    Ooo. Outside there is a vixen screaming. A blood curdling call that.

    It’s hard to know where BS filters get loaded with wisdom. Life can be challenging, but I know exactly where that skill got honed for me: debt collection. Few trades can teach you more of the inner workings of our fellow man, than that dirty biz. Of course some trades probably have to deal at a lower level, but you get the point.

    Exactly right too! I dunno, the electronic forms of communication these days tend to invalidate that sort of common sense response. It’s when people take their newly developed communication skills, which candidly were harmed during lock downs, and then proceed to utilise them in the real world – that’s trouble. I tend to have a belief that people spent too long in their own heads. You and I are comfortable with our own thoughts, but it isn’t for everyone from what I’m seeing.

    In time, the skill of the playwright will again shine. The story telling modes at the moment have become a little bit centralised.’Tis but a moment in time.

    The unfortunate David is probably buried under considerable volcanic material, and one day in the far distant future, some clever person may fill the void they found with plaster of Paris. I wonder what they’ll make of the bloke? Out running a volcanic blast, well the odds on survival frankly aren’t good.

    Well that is a classic piece of understatement: Few people live in areas subject to lava flows. 🙂 There’s a good reason for that!

    The underwater volcano is epic in scale.

    Hope H is enjoying her big day out with uncle Lewis? Is the Club’s cook doing both turkeys? What’s with the meltdowns? Such antics would never survive the rough and tumble of a commercial kitchen. The dogs here love peanut butter. I made a batch earlier today, and they were all hassling me for some chunks of peanut goodness. It is possible I could grow those ground nuts in the greenhouse? Dunno.

    It rained today, but maybe it won’t rain for the next two days, but then don’t worry. I note that El Nino was predicted on some climate model in your country. It might be a bit early as there was an equal chance of a neutral phase. Surely you’ve missed the Blob in your part of the world of late?

    Makes you wonder why the turkey shoot folks got a live turkey when they has access to perfectly dead turkeys? The shot would have had to be removed of course. Hope Julia’s turkey is OK moulting with the sudden change into cold weather in your part of the world? Far out the past few days have been cold here.

    Not a bad idea about the fire blanket.

    It’s dodgy that the publishers pilfered, but then it all worked out OK. Except for the search for reds, that was a bit weird.

    Yes, the moral folks are tiresome, and probably more likely to be up to naughty stuff themselves, that’s why they love pointing the finger at others. An old magicians distraction trick, very boring, but oft repeated.

    Worked late tonight. Me tired.



  18. Hi Inge,

    Thanks, and I’ll be interested to hear if you learn anything about that story. I mentioned to you that the local bank branch is about to close (Friday to be exact). We began closing some accounts with them and transferring our biz to another bank which has retained a local branch. It’s a bit rough when the nearest branch of the one closing is a half hour drive from here.

    Wow! Nothing will inspire a run on banks, than announcing, or even hinting at, a shortage of cash just before Christmas. Haven’t heard any such rumours down under.

    Yes, I agree. And it isn’t lost on me that the most recent bout of crazy over the past two years was not possible without all that technology employed against us. A mate of mine used to pull the old duffer card whenever he was confronted by such technology – and mostly he got away with it too. A clever bloke.



  19. Hi Margaret,

    Me worked late and tired and have hit a second mid-week hiatus. Ook. On a serious note, I am having to make up for having been super naughty in a past life. Isn’t it always thus, the fun police step in and ruin your whole day? So yeah, must now work in this life. 🙂 Oh well, no doubts I brought this mess down upon my own head. Speak tomorrow.



  20. Yo, Chris – I saw the article about the lucky detectorist. I figure the lady in question got miffed at her husband, and pitched the ring into the woods.

    I should try a traditional pudding, some day. You really don’t hear much about those, these days. I like the one’s that are set on fire! That extinguisher might come in handy. 🙂

    Oh, my, you do have sink holes. Though yours seem to be mostly associated with flooding. We get those, too. But down in our SE, they can appear quit suddenly. For no apparent reason. A few years ago, part of a house went down, I think in Florida. With a bloke along with it. Never did recover him. Portal to the underworld.

    I saw a sidebar article, that was pretty interesting. About a food industry alliance that’s pushing for an Australian food security plan. I’m reading that book I got on interlibrary loan about food and rationing, in Britain, during WWII. The government started gearing up, a couple of years before the war started. Even though a lot of people didn’t like the government interference, across the board, food security was better. No one (or, very few) went hungry, nutrition and health, generally, were better.

    Addiction can be like whack-a-mole. Take care of one, and another can pop up. We do like our self soothing. And all those pleasurable chemicals, running around in your brain.

    “Artificial urgency.” I saw a cartoon about that, years ago. I even cut it out and had it on my wall, for awhile.

    A lot of people aren’t comfortable in their own company. Or can’t stand companionable silences, and feel the need to fill any silence with endless chatter.

    I’m sure Prof. Mass will keep us informed, if the blob makes another appearance. 🙂 He seems to have a fondness for it.

    Julia is very concerned about her turkey. Maybe it needs a jumper?

    I read some more of the poop book, last night. One chapter was on our digestive system, from stem to stern. Last night I was reading about the “ick factor.” Also called, “Disgust sensitivity.” The author talked a lot about different kinds of disgust. He himself, is quit disgusted by beets. Then there’s my friend Scott, who refers to blueberries as dirt berries. But as far as poo goes, it might even be a genetically selected disgust. Any of our ancestors, who didn’t have an aversion to poo, might not have lived too long. Given all the pathogens that can be found in the stuff. Diseases, parasites, and stuff. As Dame Plume is discovering. 🙂 Lew

  21. Hi Margaret,

    It’s like running the gauntlet here to get past those people. And there have been alleged heated scenes. Labor Party volunteer with broken leg after altercation at Wodonga pre-polling station. Don’t you love Australian town names: Wodonga? No disrespect to the people living there, but what does the name even mean? The photo is pretty representative of what it looks like at most polling centres. In some ways it’s quite charming in that most people are apathetic and vote because to not do so risks a fine. The media love to stir up the heat, but the population is by and large quite cool about these matters – mostly people want them to shut up and get on with their jobs. It’s not too much to ask, is it? 🙂

    What do you mean by obnoxious advertising? Most of the advertising for candidates down here seems pretty dull to me. I have a vague hunch that emotions in your country are stirred because the differences might not be as great as the incumbents would like to pretend. 😉 The lower houses of Parliament down here tend to be dominated by the two main parties, but then the upper house is where things can get seriously weird. The system works to keep the government (the party taking the majority in the lower house) in check. There are no guarantees that they’ll secure both houses of Parliament, although very occasionally it does happen.

    Dare I say it, but vitriol is the playing card of the weak.

    Yeah, thanks for your understanding. I had someone pressuring me to do a complicated task earlier in the week, and I pulled the no break in three years card. I was serious too, but I looked into their eyes and they did not believe me – that is their issue though. I took today off work and just pottered around doing this and that. I’m slowly recharging the batteries. But I hear you about that. There was a rather unpleasant case which appears to have arisen due to the lock downs. Nothing is cost free. Tom Perinovic criticises Victoria Police for his treatment by officers after he found his wife and three children dead. Not good, and in many ways the system during that time was very cruel and not very well set up to deal with severe mental health crises.

    It ain’t just you on that score. We’ve been dodging the rain for years now. There is loose talk that come January, things will return to normal – whatever that is.

    See what I mean? Your weather has the vapours too! 🙂

    Happy thanksgiving to you and your family. Hope the shindig at Carla’s is fun. I had to look up exactly what a butter board is. Right. Hope it looks as good as the photos suggest that it may. Standards have been set. Our education system does not tend to work in a way which highlights a persons strength, and also experience tends to be narrow so people might only discover their strengths in later life – sorry to say. However, this does make for an enjoyable feed for you.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    An intriguing hypothesis. We could have hours of fun coming up with new scenarios as to how the medieval ring came to be where it was. I heard, and you may dismiss as you will, but the young lady (owner of the ring and a gift) had been on an assignation in the woods with her secret lover, when a Dryad intervened (with the intriguing name of Boddla). Distraught that her big day out in the woods had been rudely interrupted by a nature sprite, she spurned the ring gift, and brought a mighty curse down upon the two. They went to their separate graves, covered in warts. Just sayin, that’s what I heard! The lesson learned, don’t annoy the young lady in question.

    Yeah, that was my thinking with the traditional Christmas pudding. Hmm, don’t think that I have a pudding steamer. Do you? It looks like the pudding is boiled in the steamer. I’ll have a look around there are probably other ways around this cooking conundrum. Do you have any suggestions?

    Wow, the sink hole was awful, and there’s no rescuing for the poor bloke sucked down.

    During the last drought down under, grain export terminals were converted into grain import terminals, so that 70% of production export number might be a bit flakey? Plus, you don’t hear a lot about fertiliser shortages any more, but I’m sure they’re real and costs are going up – not to mention diesel fuel. Honestly, I think if it came down to it, we’d go the rationing path down here, we do like our queues – except when people are trying to jump them as I’ve observed in recent times. And getting people out physically interacting with the soil would be a vast benefit to the health of the population.

    Had a quieter day today. Spent about three hours poking around the guts of a second hand early 1990’s era FM Tuner radio (it has an excellent pedigree, not the best, just very good) which I’ve had as a project to refurbish. Ordered the replacement parts at a whopping $50 and hope to get to that job over the Christmas break. It’s good to rescue these really high quality electronic items, they’re like might not be seen again. Finished reading Jane Eyre this afternoon, and the ending was lovely. I really enjoyed the read, and was constantly reminded of the paucity of my grasp of the English language. I’d imagine that there would be plenty of folks around who might not be able to comprehend what many of the sentences in the book were even narrating (due to the complexity of the language used)! Edjakayshun these days ain’t what it only once was. 🙂

    Well that is the truth of the matter. After my own brush with this hole, I’m now very careful. A mate once used to say to me that only those who’ve fallen off the cliff, have a good idea as to where the edge may lay. Games these days have become more sophisticated again, and I do worry about many aspects such as magic chests which play upon those pleasure centres of the brain. It’s not good

    Artificial urgency is a tool used by people who have a natural tendency to be what I would describe as ‘askers’. That’s what they do, they just ask. It is a professional hazard of my job and one of those things I have had to learn how to navigate. When I first encountered it, I got fooled. That outcome was the result of not being, or previously encountering an ‘asker’. Mostly I have discovered that such people are good at asking, and poor at managing. And also it is possible to say ‘yes’ and do ‘no’ – some cultures with a preponderance to producing ‘askers’ have that inbuilt ability.

    Companionable silences are lovely things.

    Yes, the good professor is onto that business. And how can anyone not like the name? Sounds very technical, which I kind of like.

    Spare a thought for Julia’s turkey who left moulting too late and now has to make up for lost time in sub-optimal conditions. It could sleep inside the house?

    True, Dame Plum suffers for her skills. But at the first sign, she gets dosed up. Beets? Who knew that was possible. I like beetroot and slices go very well in burgers. You should try it one day, it’s a taste sensation. 🙂 I don’t have an ick factor about that stuff, and we get every scrap of organic matter into the soil. It’s one of the great possibilities that our civilisation could use its excess waste for, but will we do it? Nope, icky and stuff.



  23. Hi, Chris!

    I’ve about had it with all politicians, though it makes me a bit uncomfortable to pretend that they don’t exist. But didn’t curiosity kill the cat?

    I can even see your interminable rain falling in the photo. Your weather is so WEIRD. I am so glad that we are fairly within the range of normal – if you look at it long range.

    Hi, Ollie – 3 times! And hi, Dame Plum – what a lovely pose.

    Thank you for the flowers!


  24. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … I also had to check into what a “butter board” is. Though I’d heard of them, somewhere or other. Pop culture. Seems to seep in, everywhere. As a culinary trend, I predict it won’t last very long. Peering into the rabbit hole, people are already asking the questions, “What is the point of a butter board?” ad “What the heck is a butter board?” I wonder if “The Best Food Writing, 2022” will have anyone talking about it.

    I think the ring was stolen either by the young lady’s maid, or, a usually poor but honest young man. They needed to purchase leaches, for their very sick mother, as the insurance had run out. As the hounds closed in, they tossed the ring, so they wouldn’t be caught with the loot. 🙂

    Why would I need a fancy pudding steamer? As if I need another piece of kitchen equipment. A cloth bag and a good dutch oven, seem to do the trick.

    People who jump queues, should be soundly beaten. Or slammed in the side of the head with a bag of frozen veg. Thier children should probably be beaten, too, as there’s probably a genetic predisposition.

    Elinor has a fairly new vacuum that went TU. So, she bought another one. I was tempted to offer to tinker with the old one. Where I lived before, there were three (3), new looking vacuums that didn’t work. I tinkered a bit. Even with my limited mechanical ability, I got them all working again. That seemed to be the philosophy out there. If something stops working, buy new. But don’t junk the old whatever. Turn it into yard art. 🙁

    “Jane Eyre” was made for the screen. Crazy wife in the attic, fiery end to a stately home. There was a movie version in the 1940s, that I remember was pretty good. Orson Welles played the lord of the manor. “Cliff Notes” would have helped with the language. 🙂 Or, a good dictionary.

    Interesting about “askers.” I think I know what you mean. I think they maybe come in varieties. One of the Garden Goddesses used to beat about the bush so much, you’d have to be a mind reader to figure out what it was she was driving at. Usually, asking for something. Once I caught on, I became a little abrupt. “What is it you want.” Then we could get to “yes,” or “no.” Usually, no.

    I don’t know about Julia’s turkey, sleeping in the house. Although there are probably turkey diapers, on the River. They’ve got them for chickens, so why not for turkeys? Her three dogs might object.

    So, any pictures of fish swimming across the roads? Here, seems like every time a road is flooded, someone takes pictures of salmon, swimming across.

    Well, it’s Turkey Day! The weather is gorgeous. Nice for people who have to travel. I’ll mosey down to the Club around three, and pick through the wreckage. Lew

  25. @ Marg,

    That’s a sad story about your friend Pat. Good on you and your club for getting checks made as to her health. Hopefully things will get worked out so that she will be better cared for. Although if she doesn’t want changes…we see that aspect with the retired gent across the street. Stubbornness.


  26. Chris,

    Thanks for the link about the new Gooramadda Gorge. We had a road wash out similarly spring of about 2015. Those epic wet seasons will do that. Ya know, if these road guys would consult with DJ the Drainage Guru BEFORE constructing the roads, Drainage DJ would have suggested a much larger culvert to begin with. Something that should handle the mythical 1,000-year flood event, not one of those wimpy 100-year events. A bit of extra expense up front saves the larger expense later.

    And I love a lot of the Aboriginal names in Australia. Interestingly, whereas Australia has Wagga Wagga, we have Walla Walla about 3 hours south of here.

    Oh, thanks. Estimating the sweet spot for that number is due to tricks learned way back in high school geometry and trigonometry. No calculators, so we had to use the logarithm and trig tables in the back of the book. And learn how to interpolate between the given values. When I saw that +11F=-11.667C, I knew that the sweet spot had to be somewhere in between. It takes a, ummm, rare mind to see things like that. Or, as the Princess just said upon looking over my shoulder, “RARE mind? Bwahaha! Maybe a totally deranged and weird mind.” 😉

    I still remember the street address we had when we lived in California until I was 7. And the first address in Spokane where we lived for 3 months. And several other addresses I’ve had over the years. Numbers. Easier for me to remember than are names. But you are correct, there is always a story in the language of numbers.

    Sneaky way to fit in a Hitchhiker’s Guide reference. Good job.

    We ran errands Tuesday afternoon. What was supposed to be inconsequential snow in the late evening decided to arrive midafternoon and become consequential. Meaning that it was +2C and snowing so hard that it turned into a slick mess on the roads. Knowing the likeliest sane routes home, we arrived at the house unscathed. The neighbor ran his Tiny Tinkerbell snow blower over our sidewalk. Then it snowed more and froze. Twas an icy mess on Wednesday. I took my time with it – as the 5cm of snow was more ice than snow, I had to use the shovels on it. Even Big Bertha Blower would have struggled with the ice. I finished, the clouds thinned enough that there was some solar radiation hitting the ground, the air temperature got above freezing and the last vestiges of the ice melted. Thursday was sunny and warm which helped more. Ready for the next round in a few days.

    Getting some down time in any job is important. The police? I wouldn’t want their jobs at all. Too intense. They really need to have some quality and uninterrupted time off. Regularly.

    Dame Avalanche sends her best wishes to Dame Plum. After several rounds of deworming meds due to where she came from (Texas is notorious for canine parasites), she can feel Dame Plum’s pain.

    Yes, Avalanche has bonded with me. I view this as a sacred trust. She has accepted the new status quo and is back to her “the Princess is home” routine, in which she and the Princess are good friends. Good to see them interacting properly again.

    Tis Thanksgiving Day. Or as Lew mentioned “Turkey Day”. I’ve been telling people to “Have a Happy Turkey. Eat beef, pork, chicken or vegetarian.”


  27. Hi DJ,

    I doubt that the road authorities there exercised such a common sense approach, after all, the facts speak for themselves. And I agree, the 300mm concrete culvert pipe has never failed. It may, but the weather will have to get a whole lot worse than it has been for that to happen. What’s your professional thoughts as to say if finances are a bit thin on the ground for a large diameter pipe, will a number of smaller pipes suffice? I’m thinking about the issue of obstructions over the inlets, but I don’t really know what would be best practice.

    Ooo, there is a Walla Walla also in the state to the north of here. I noticed that your version has a mill creek running through more or less the centre of the town, but the hills are denuded of vegetation even in 1876. Hmm. A dry part of the world, probably good for grain production if the rains are OK? Maybe. Hey, there’s a township known as Wallan not too far from here, and need I mention the awesome old and very thinly populated gold mining era town of Walhalla? Sounds like Valhalla doesn’t it? Thus their doom was foreshadowed. Probably forgot to build a mead hall. Just sayin…

    I defer to the wisdom of your ladyship, who would of course know you better than the likes of I! 🙂 But yeah, numbers for you speak differently than they do to me. I see stories and you see relationships and meaning (at a wild guess which could be utterly incorrect). Numbers are like words in that they are symbols which contain and convey meaning. Without the ability to think in abstract terms, us humans would still be hanging around the trees trying to keep the parrots away from the juiciest of the unripe fruits. Hang on a sec, that’s what I’m doing nowadays! 😉 The national youth broadcaster had a dare I say it, DJ, who had a gift for numbers, and scored an honorary doctorate. Adam Spencer. He writes mathematical recreation books and used to include maths jokes in his broadcasts. You’d enjoy them, for sure.

    Thanks! I dunno, but I loved the crazy flight into imagination which Douglas Adams tapped into. Giant space goats? Funny stuff.

    Ah ha! So curiosity got the better of me and I had a look into exactly what is a snowblower AKA Big Bertha machine? An intriguing machine which I might add is not dissimilar to a rototiller in arrangement and/or operation. It’s not like I’d ever need such a beast – maybe. Err, start every two months and run for a couple of minutes. Add fuel stabiliser. Just sayin. However, fuel may be of lower quality in this part of the world.

    Wise to dodge the worst of the weather.

    It’s going to get to 28’C tomorrow. But don’t worry, there will be a late change with the chance of a thunderstorm. Heard a might crash and thud this morning as a big old tree hit the dirt. Haven’t been able to locate where that occurred, but I sure did hear and feel it.

    Exactly, too much emotional stimulation for me with such a job, and I’d imagine you’d be much the same?

    Hehe! Dame Plum thanks Dame Avalanche for her kind thoughts and also acknowledges that she brought this problem onto herself.

    Dogs I believe are better judges of our species than we ourselves can be. If a dog who is normally outward going shies away from a person, I listen to what the dogs actions are telling me about that person. There is an old saying about actions speaking louder than words. It’s true.

    Hehe! You’re like super bad. Yes, dead turkey day! 🙂 I’m curious, what sort of responses have you received so far for your unasked-for advice? The presence of turkeys is indicative of the general health of a location, and for one such bird to be in your urban area, things outside the city might be hard for them? Dunno.



  28. Hi Pam,

    Yes, that has definitely been said. Quite true. I quite like those old sayings as they contain pearls of wisdom. Unfortunately, long ago I said to someone in reply to their witty repartee: “There’s more than one way to skin a cat”. Well, blow me down, but that was met with a look of horror. And the words spewed forth: Why would anyone do that? Err, maybe things were a bit different in the past when the words had a less literal meaning. Ah well, not all conversations proceed smoothly and are equally understood. Far out. Then there was that other day a decade or two ago when I said to a young lady: Not a good day (weather wise) to discover that you had a hole in your shoe. She looked at me with a face which clearly spelled: Why would anyone have a hole in their shoe? Far out, here we go again! 🙂 Ah, to live in such enlightened times as these… I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of misunderstandings over the years?

    The weather here is bonkers. Late this afternoon I was looking at the neat and fertilised rows in the paddock where the tomatoes will be planted and I thought to myself: Do I need to construct a greenhouse over these rows? And I don’t know.

    Glad to hear that things are more or less normal in your part of the world. Makes planning a garden easier, I reckon.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags, and Dame Plum, truth to tell she has designs upon my dinner which I am just about to consume. Her nose keeps contacting my leg as if to say: I’m here, feed me.

    My pleasure! 🙂



  29. Hi Lewis,

    I’m not a germaphobe, but the butter board did kind of raise some intriguing questions for me should any diners choose to double dip – which they probably would. It sure looked good though. I do worry about such things upon occasion, because for many years I’ve been cultivating a batch of natural yoghurt, and back slop from one week to the next for the following batch. If any other bacteria got into the mix, it would seriously annoy me. I’d probably have to begin the entire culture making process again, what a pain and a loss. And we make country wines too, so walking the fine line between chucking heaps of poisons AKA preservatives in or not, into the mix is a fine art. I only recently learned about the earlier uses of hop flowers in the fermentation process and why they were chosen. Makes sense from hindsight, and I had wondered for a long time how the old timers used to do this stuff without all of the chemicals and temperature controls which people nowadays tend to rely upon, but probably don’t understand the why. The trial and error and sheer experimentation way back in the day to determine the processes for producing stuff is really quite astounding. And it may well be possible that a lot of this stuff has been forgotten.

    Did the food book turn up at the library yet? A couple of decades ago when in the big end of town, one of my staff wanted to branch out into catering, and for meetings I paid her to test drive the product on us. I don’t recall ever eating so well at business meetings before or since! 🙂 What a talent.

    Hope the maid and poor young bloke weren’t run down by the hounds? 🙂 Nice one! Possibly true.

    Now what I heard was slightly different again. The local duke was an evil hearted man. Rents were begrudgingly paid and his thugs roamed everywhere causing distress. His ladyship was of a kinder spirit and urged the Duke to restraint. A failed crop meant that famine fell upon the land, and the peasants went hungry. His ladyship made an arrangement with a local ruffian of good repute to sell the ring and use the proceeds to feed the peasants. Alas he was no Robin Hood, and the transaction was messed up, the ring lost, and both the local ruffian and peasants starved. Very Darwinian.

    It was only but a suggestion. Your kitchen probably contains all manner of marvels. That’s the impression I’ve gotten over the years. 🙂 Hmm, I’m going to have to look into this matter further as my grandmother used either calico or muslin bags. Those puddings were so tasty, I’m salivating. Might be just the perfect Christmas present for my foodie friends. Hmm. Can you recommend any specific old school style recipes? I’ll bet Ruth Goodman would know the exact recipe. 😉

    Hehe! Yes, it’s probably true what the old timers say about the apple not falling far from the tree. Although to talk to people these days they’d try and make you believe that things were otherwise. Well they ain’t! If I may say so, it has taken considerable personal energy not to repeat the same mistakes as my mother, and neither did I fly to an opposite extreme. I tell ya mate, it takes effort to just learn to be yourself. Although I suspect that you understand what I’m talking about. Not everyone would, that’s for sure.

    Hehe! Exactly, before I junk something, I make certain that it has gone beyond the point of economical repair. After all, everything can be repaired if resources and energy aren’t a consideration. A shame that they are. Very funny with the TU. I had to look up that naughty acronym! Well done you. You don’t hear that phrase used much any more in these enlightened days, but it wasn’t all that long ago when you did hear it used. Says it all though: It’s dead Jim (to quote Star Trek)! Machines in those days were probably more sturdy and more easily repaired too sad to say. I received an email today that many of the parts are on the way, and the remainder will take another two weeks. Cool. I’ll sit down one day over the Christmas break and refurbish the radio. I have heard good reports about the sound quality, but to my ear at present, it sounds a little bit dull in the higher end. Nothing quite works like a refresh with that equipment. And I enjoy the work. There are very few people around these days who will do that work.

    Speaking of yard art. Far out! You may have missed this: Collectable Furphy water cart sells for record $61,300 in north-east Victoria . Not a bad result at all. Hope your auction stuff is as well received by the public. Did you notice that the word ‘Furphy’ had a meaning deriving from WWI? It used to be heard used for the same purpose when I was a kid, but has long since fallen from favour. Oh well. Now we call them “politician new-speak”. Oops! Bad Chris! 🙂

    I might check the 1940’s film version out. The Editor watched a newer version of the film, and they portrayed Jane Eyre as a naughty kid. I must confess to scratching my head at that interpretation and wondered whether the screen play writer had actually read the book? The point of the narrative was that she was not a naughty kid, but a maltreated kid. Talk about creative license. Maybe the depiction wasn’t politically correct enough? Her Aunt was a bad egg, who backed the wrong team and paid a high price for doing so. Anyway, whatever… I was fine with the language and could follow all the sentences, but not to put too fine a point upon it, the author could pen a more elaborate sentence than I could even conjure up. It did make me wonder whether people in those days actually spoke that way to one another. I don’t really know the answer to that question. What do you reckon about that? And there were class issues. Hmm. An interesting insight into that time period and the repressed passions hiding in plain sight for the hoity-toity and those who wanted to swim in their waters. Thanks for the advice in relation to the dictionary, and I do in fact look up words to which I am unaware of the meaning.

    I like your style. And yes, people beating around the bush (another old saying relating to pheasant hunting I believe) can be rather tiresome. But then, when I was a kid, the adults used to speak nonsense so as to converse about topics which they were otherwise unable to directly speak about. For example, I recall hearing this little naughty ditty as a child: I’m not a pheasant plucker. I’m a pheasant plucker’s son. And I’m sitting plucking pheasant’s, till the pheasant plucker comes. There’s something a bit naughty about that doggerel, although I can’t quite put a finger upon what it is. Hmm. 🙂 I grew up hearing silly stuff like that, usually of English origins. Quite amusing really.

    I suspect that you are correct. Julia’s three dogs will take umbrage at the cozy turkey.

    Alas, there are no salmon in these parts – the waters are too warm. But I did spot an Echidna this afternoon. Does that count?

    Did you have fun at the turkey feed up this afternoon? Hope the lady who was doing the cooking had some fun too. Anxiety is something we all experience from time to time, but as a lifestyle choice it can be hard on the people around the sufferer.

    Got a bunch of friends turning up tomorrow. Should be fun.



  30. Chris:

    Oh, yeah – I have had my share of misunderstandings. But I figure that it is a matter of learning a new language, maybe. You know how language is always and ever changing and to communicate well with people, one needs to speak their language.

    As for skinning cats and such: I live with two vegans who have been so for many, many years, so I subconsciously leave out comments like that and so do not do so in general. Though they would never even bring up the topic of being vegan, or probably respond to it. That is something personal. Then I have remembered that they were okay with having someone hunt on our land to cull the very-destructive deer. Life is complicated . . .

    As for the hole in the shoe – ha! I especially love my canvas sneakers as I can sew a patch on the tops and JB Weld the bottoms. Until I get around to the repairs – I have holes in my shoes.

    Mama mia – another greenhouse! Though you may be right . . .


  31. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … Walla Walla is also the home of the State penitentiary. Adds a lot to the local economy. It was built in 1887. Crims have a nickname for it. “Concrete Mama.”

    And how does one clean a butter board? All those fats, soaking into the grain. Sandblasting? The Atlantic Magazine had an interesting article on food. “Is Food Getting Better?” One line I liked was, “Food … seems to exist in some weird purgatory between art and technology.”

    Which food book? I did get the one on rationing and cooking in Britain, during WWII. I read a couple of chapters a night. My kitchen and all manner of marvels. Well, I suppose so. They sit under the counter and are never used. Got them all for free. Mostly due to me contemplating the clean up. A bowl and spoon are so much more straight forward. And easier to clean up.

    You might do a few test runs, before unleashing a pudding on your foodie friends. Depending on how forgiving your friends are. 🙂 Well, I’ve never done a pudding, so, am at a loss to suggest a recipe. The “Australian Blue Ribbon” cookbooks have a few pudding recipes. The “National Trust Country Cookbook” has a lot listed in the index. But I wonder. They also include various tarts, under puddings. But the best one’s I found were in the Time/Life Foods of the World series. “Cooking of the British Isles.” They have the traditional puddings, with lots of pictures and clear instructions. It’s a two parter. A lavishly illustrated book, talking about British food in general, and then a smaller spiral bound recipe book. U-Tub probably has many videos of how to pull off a Victorian pudding.

    Your spin on the tale of the lost ring, has echoes of the Lady Godiva story. As I remember, she also had an over-taxing husband, leaning on the peasants in hard times. Only instead of hocking her ring, rode through the streets, starkers, to shame her husband.

    Appliances. Jane, from the Funny Farm half-way house was saying how she was waiting on a repair of a two year old fridge. While the 15 year old fridge, sitting out in the carport as a backup, is still chugging merrily along. What does that say about the state of appliances?

    That was an interesting story about the Furpy Water Cart. Though I can think of other things I’d rather spend that kind of money on. Such as a down payment on a small house? So I guess the Furpy was the first medium for the spread of conspiracy theories? 🙂

    I’d guess the more middling folk, didn’t speak in such elaborate sentences. Probably, a lot more straightforward. I’d guess Bronte was writing to a particular audience.

    As with you, my friend Julia now has three hounds. She got a pup about three months ago. Met him, this morning. Rather a small, timid little dog. But looks deceive. The other night, Julia was on her way to bed and noticed a very large, dead rat, next to his bed. She didn’t want to deal with it, right then. But when she got up in the morning, the rat was gone! The dog has hidden it somewhere in the house. 🙁

    Only if the Echidna has gills and fins.

    I’ve been poisoned! At least, if feels like it, due to overeating at the Thanksgiving feed. I probably shouldn’t have had that second piece of pie. Or, the second helping of dressing and cranberries. Had to sleep with my head on four pillows and a folded up blanket, to keep the acid reflux, at bay.

    About 50 or 60 people showed up. There was plenty of food, for all. And something interesting happened. There’s a fellow, named Abe, who showed up about three months ago. Pretty quiet. I hadn’t really talked to him, much. Any-who. The woman who was supposed to pull the whole thing together, showed up sick, wearing a mask. Mr. Bill our Club manager, sent her home. Abe, stepped up. Along with a few of his relatives, he got the whole thing organized, and underway. He was in his element. I had a brief word with him, and it turns out he has made his living, chefing, from time to time, in the past. See? Things work out. I also got my turkey carcass. Plenty of meat on it. I threw it in the freezer, and next week will make up some turkey soup, and then some turkey stock.

    Books from the library. I picked up two novels, that sounded kind of interesting, and they were awful. Just unreadable. But then last night I started “Demon Copperhead” by Barbara Kingsolver. Finally! An author who knows how to write clearly, and tell an interesting story. I’m also reading a book on the history of American cemeteries.

    And, I read another chapter out of “Flush.” It was all about fecal transplants. Quit an interesting story. Many a patient died, or was at deaths door, due to malfunctioning microbiome, of one kind or another. The recoveries, were truly miraculous. But not many people were working in the field, due to the ick factor. But that’s slowly changing. More work and study is being done. There was an interesting bit, about the donors. “Many are called (or, volunteer) but few are chosen.” They have to be pretty clean living, straight arrows. With a lot of fibre in their diets. The get paid $40 a pop (or, should I say, plop?)

    Possible snow in our forecast for Monday and Tuesday. “Rain mixed with snow,” “Chance of Snow.” “Slight Chance of Snow.” We’ll see. Lew

  32. Chris,

    You’re asking the NASTY question about culverts. 🙂 My experience is that two 300mm culverts won’t handle as much water as one 425mm culvert (twice the volume as one 300mm.) Better than a single 300mm, though. Two 300mm pipes side by side don’t have the same height as one 425mm pipe. Similarly, two 300mm pipes stacked vertically don’t have the same width as one 425mm pipe. Take some round poles and place them side by side, or stacked, or whatever. It’ll reveal some issues. Also, my experience is also that two 300mm culverts WILL cost more than one 425mm culvert and maybe 80% of the cost of one 600mm culvert. And a 600mm pipe will move 4 times the water as a 300mm culvert. Shortchanging the size of the culvert will cost more in the long run after the road washes out a few times.

    Yup, Walla Walla Washington is in the grain growing region. Good guess! And sweet onion: Walla Walla Sweets are famous around here. And I like your idea about the place named Walhalla. Gotta have a mead hall. Required. No mead hall and bad things will happen there.

    Adam Spencer sounds like a character. Thanks for the link to his bio. I’ve got a few mathematical recreation books that my dad owned in the mists of time. Two of them were written by Martin Gardner. He also owned a copy of Gardner’s most successful book, “An Annotated Alice”, about the Alice in Wonderland books.

    Giant space goats are cool! Mr. Adams had quite the imagination. Of course, when my undergraduate physics gang got into a frivolous mood, we’d come up with similar ideas. My favorite? A bunch of us were taking a night class (4 hours each Monday evening on the 4th floor of a building in Spokane) about comparative religions and philosophies. The instructor, (we’ll call him Dr. Edwards) said at one point that he can’t believe in any specific deity. At the next physics department visit to the local pub, we brainstormed. (Yes, beer and peanuts had a role to play.) We figured that we could tape my radio announcer voice (Yes, DJ would have been a fine radio DJ), run it through an echo chamber and at an appropriate time in the next Monday evening lecture, out would boom “Edwards! EDWARDS! Look out the window and BELIEVE!” He would part the curtains to be staring at a giant Stay Puffed Marshmallow Deity ala the original Ghost Busters movie.

    Yup, got fuel stabilizer and I start the machine periodically. Gotta know it’s gonna work when I need it to.

    Hahaha! You’re 28C. We’re 28F. Well, we’re warmer during the days and it’s raining Friday evening. Will maybe turn to snow later. I note that Lew has a similar forecast to ours: weather is going to happen. What type and how much nobody knows. But we will get weather.

    Yup, the emotional intensity required in law enforcement would be my demise. I get overloaded easily by too much noise and/or flashing lights. A carving club member recently asked why I didn’t attend an arts and crafts show at the local high school where she had a large booth selling items. Another carver said, “That event is overly crowded. DJ doesn’t do well in crowds in compact areas.” Sensory overload things, I guess.

    There is a couple that walks 2 dogs several days a week. I get a bad “vibe” from the humans. The dogs, while on long leashes, are allowed to roam to the end of their leashes and do their business in people’s yards. Avalanche sees those dogs and the hackles go up from her neck to the tip of her tail. Those are the only dogs I’ve heard her growl at, and from the first time she saw those dogs. Dogs sense things. Best to heed their warnings.

    Two of my friends simply laughed at my advice. My sister texted back, ” Ham I am.”

    The problem the turkeys have on the edge of town is overpopulation. They know where they’re safe from hunters and congregate there. Not a lot of natural predators, so they spread into the urban area when foraging, I guess.


  33. Hi Pam,

    True, learn and adapt we must. Must and adapt we shall! Not sure what that means, but it kind of sounds like Yoda talk, which can be fun. Thanks too, it’s nice to be mortal, what with all the little mistakes which shape up life here and there. True, we can but learn, one mistake at a time.

    You are wiser than me in that regard, but perhaps know the other party involved with the communication better. Veganism works for some folks, and I have nothing but respect for those who do take that path. And it can have very positive health benefits, in fact that was the case with one young person I know. I dunno why, but for a few folks it’s a hot button topic, but I don’t see the world that way, and am mostly vegetarian at home – which coincidentally can also be viewed negatively by some folks. No matter, it is not about them.

    The other night Dame Plum and I observed a vixen and her cub at work in the orchard. Last night I heard owls at work. It’s not lost on me that in order for there to be balance, sacrifice has to be part of that story. The longer I observe the forest and the interactions of its denizens, the more certain I am that this is the case. In your case, the deer has some business in your stand of trees (as they do here), but there must be balance in any direction, otherwise, well, that’s what the the hunter addressed whilst he has the energy and resources to do so. But who is right and who is wrong in that case – and is the question even germane and maybe perhaps it is poorly worded as a binary question.

    Yikes! Not something to discover on a wet day. 🙂 You sent me on an interweb rabbit hole because I’d not heard of JB Weld before. Hmm. Many opinions, some tests. We have Areldite down here, but I reckon a good epoxy glue is an excellent tool in most situations.

    Coldest November in 48 years. No wonder I’m scratching my head – and it only just rained.



  34. Hi DJ,

    When one has a question, another holds experience, it seems only wise to posit the question and await a reply. But I knew that you’d know. And you’ve given me much to ponder, but if I may be so bold as to summarise your words: Don’t do things on the cheap, do them so as to survive the most likely worst case scenario basis. Holy carp, it is exactly four times. Respect. You have to admit that it does not appear that way at first glance.

    No wild guess there, it just looked like a grain growing region to me. A lot of grains require much heat, and the areas can look just so. I don’t recall there being a mead hall in the old and not quite abandoned gold mining town. As you note, that was their mistake.

    I listened to him on the national youth radio broadcaster for many years, and the bloke was a lot of fun. Who knew maths could be fun? 🙂 Never heard of Martin Gardner. He sounds like a bloke who is very sure of himself. Alas, woe is me, for I am not so sure of myself, and would hope that the world is a little stranger than our puny brains can imagine. 🙂 Frankly, I’m quite fond of the idea that there may be the spirits of the Elder folks lingering in the forests here. Certainly the trees here have a majesty which I find difficult to enumerate. And they need our care, as we need theirs. Every now and then, I’ll spot an article in the national news suggesting that perhaps things were done better in the past (when the Elder spirits had a modicum of reverence). But whatever the case, things may have been better in less rational times on a more practical footing: Conservation efforts may have worsened catastrophic bushfires in south-east Australia, study finds. Who’d have thunk it? 🙂

    Hehe! Who could forget the giant space goat? DJ, so good. I am in the presence of greatness, for yes, such times (plus beer) were also of my misspent youth (did it fall behind the couch?) but the Stay Puffed Marshmallow Deity was awesome to behold. I loved that original film, so crazy. Where are their like to be found today?

    That’s the thing, if you don’t do the other two things, when you really need Big Bertha, she’ll let you down badly due to lack of regular care and attention. Typical of any relationship really. 😉

    Fuel stabiliser is crazy expensive down here, so little wonder people dodge that aspect. It’s a false economy.

    I hear you, weather is gonna happen whether we like it or not. On a mildly related side note, in high school I recall spelling the word ‘whether’ instead as ‘wether’. Now you may not be aware, but I was inadvertently referring to sheep with my incorrect spelling and it was pointed out to me. Who knew?

    Many long years ago I was riding my motorbike, when in the other direction an ambulance was travelling towards me. They had so many flashing lights and wailing sirens that I neglected to see the flashing indicator lamps, and they just turned right in front me. Almost took me out and I barely pulled up in time. Not into being over stimulated either. The quiet and quiet enjoyments, they ain’t so bad as people would make them out to be.

    Exactly, listen to Avalanche. She may not be always right, but then she may not be wrong either.

    Very funny, and your sister clearly understands your humour. 🙂 So did you do ham, or what? Anyway, the day can mean different things to different people that’s for sure. What would the Elder folks of the forest say?

    Smart turkeys to have adapted, although I would have thought that cars would have been something of a problem with turkeys in urban areas.



  35. Chris:

    Sacrifice is built into the system; it is a good thing if we can realize that. And, like you, it is very thankful I am that I am mortal.

    No, the deer hunting is not a binary question. What is?! In the case I mentioned, the meat is eaten (I would have enjoyed some myself, but it was not offered . . .). I don’t know about the skins. A nurse at my mother’s assisted living mentioned the other day that her brother had cut his hand badly skinning squirrels. It wasn’t until later that I remembered that I, too, have skinned squirrels, only roadkill – you know how I love Charlene and clan! I just wanted to learn how, just in case.

    I am so hoping that I will not have your summer next year!


  36. Hi Lewis,

    In a town just to the north of here there is a quaintly named ‘Youth Justice Centre’ AKA ‘Youth Prison’, and that adds a lot to the local economy up there in the north of the council area. The town was bypassed in my memory, and I was pleased the bakery survived the change to traffic. The quality of the produce is pretty good. I must say though, I do like how such places are rebranded as if they’re somehow not what they once were.

    Well that was one of the things I too was wondering about. Although, as a related side story, we do use boards made from bamboo and they seem like a very dense timber and not likely to get stained. In areas dominated by softwoods, it’s gonna be a problem. Tell you what though, I’ve seen oil stains soaked into granite bench tops, and that’s a mess.

    Thought you might enjoy an insight into how some of the flood affected towns are handling things: Molly the horse delivers flood updates and fun during a tough time for Echuca-Moama residents.

    I meant the best food writing 2022 book. The rationing book is of another sort – how to do things properly when the poop hits the fan. Incidentally, that has been my experience too with some kitchen machines – it’s easier and cleaner to do things the old school way. Years ago I trialled a mixer machine for dog and human biscuits, and seriously I could turn more doughy material than what the machine could do. It may have broken and it was no hardship to free up the cupboard space. You really need a commercial mixing machine for that sort of work, if you want to use a machine that is.

    A wise suggestion, and whilst they may experiment upon me with dishes, I tend to serve tried and tested dishes. As a strategy, it’s not exciting, but it works. Thanks for the book recommendation too, a fine suggestion. Much appreciated. 🙂 I see that sometimes greatness is out of print.

    Did Lady Godiva achieve her aims? Everyone seems rather fixated in the act, and not upon the outcome. And what pray tell is the point of doing such an act, if there is no one to see it take place? I mean after all, how can we be certain that the ride even took place? Elementary, my dear Mr Lewis! (said in best Sherlock Holmes pedantic tones). I note that the story has created much conjecture over the years. My how the notables would have blushed at such a brazen act. 🙂 Anyway, the husband was probably a tiresome bore.

    Hmm, yes, not all machines are created the same. That’s what it says to me. I was talking with some lovely people about why it is a bad idea to keep electronic devices working at their upper ends in terms of tolerances. Best to keep that lot just ticking along.

    I must say, I have now learned much about Jane Austen and the Bronte sisters. Here is an intriguing link which paints a different picture to what I previously understood (of course the author might be incorrect): Literary legends: Jane Austen and the Brontë sisters. Well, I never.

    Small timid dog, great hunter! Taking down a rat is no small achievement for a dog. Rats are both fast and cunning. I see a long and rewarding career path for that dog of Julia’s.

    A relative of the Echidna (the only relative I believe) is a Platypus, and that could do that flooded road trick. Although, they are generally considered to be sensible critters and not at all up for skylarking.

    You food coma, possibly with food baby. Hope the delivery is not too painful. 🙂 Rest up, and a small quantity of activated charcoal is quite effective at sorting out acid reflux. Good luck, and you did bring that down upon yourself. Top effort!

    What a good break, and need I mention the lower stress factor which is Abe? Hope he enjoyed the work too, but your description ‘being in his element’ sort of suggests that was the case. To be able to cater for a large event, is a real skill. And to do so on the fly indicates an aptitude which goes beyond the everyday.

    Yummo for the future turkey stock.

    Ah, you’ve mentioned the most excellent author: Barbara Kingsolver before, and she once hung out with other esteemed authors. Yes, sometimes it’s good to always know the DJ! 🙂 Gets things happening, which are in everyone’s best interest to get done.

    Mate, I threw down a challenge to Mr Greer, and he’s a slippery fellow, who appears to have chucked the challenge right back to me. Perhaps it was too much to expect. Hmm. What to do? What to do? Doubling down is a very unappealing trait. Hmm. Arthur was a local hero, was he not?

    It’s funny you mentioned that, but maybe a year or two back I mentioned the story of Harry the Poo Roadie? I was listening to the science question hour the other day with Dr Karl, a lovely bloke to be sure, and he may have mentioned that they do work, but not for everyone. And I reckon you’re spot on about donors. I’d feel under pressure to perform. Dare I say it: This shit isn’t easy you know! Hehe!

    Had a very fun day, with lot’s of food leftover. Me going to bed early to sleep off the after dinner pavlova. ‘Tis the season for food coma’s.

    Watch out for the snow. After a warm day today, it rained again this evening.



  37. Chris:

    I have just finished my everyday breakfast of a lovely runny fried egg with mashed sweet potatoes on top, with hot pepper sauce over all. Yum! Now, if only I could grow my own sweet potatoes. Something happens to them every time.

    Do you grow yams or sweet potatoes?


  38. Hi Chris,

    We had two turkeys for Thanksgiving. Mike and I purchased a turkey that was grown by a rancher in the next county west of us and cooked it on Wednesday. We had a friend over to enjoy the turkey and associated items with us. I didn’t eat too much that day but I did drink black tea too late into the afternoon, which kept me up for well over an hour past when I usually go to sleep. Then on Thanksgiving proper we went to my brother-in-law’s house for the family feast. I didn’t drink any tea but ate way too much, which kept me up late. But once I did fall asleep I slept very soundly. Turkey meat has the reputation of being sleep-inducing, beyond the sleep inducing effect of overeating. I think there is some truth to that. We ate leftover turkey (our own and from the family feed) yesterday for lunch and dinner. I didn’t overeat but I slept long and soundly last night.

    We were given the carcass from the family feed and made turkey soup from it yesterday. With plenty of meat remaining on the carcass and with some added potatoes and vegetables, it is a delicious soup. Turkey might just be my favorite meat.

    Wild turkeys are very adaptable birds who do well in the wilder parts of urban areas. We have seen them at the local creek and also as we rode along the bicycle path that runs near the Mississippi River from close to our house to near the Arch downtown. The one that Mike successfully hunted a few years ago was delicious, cooked by methods that are suited to wild rather than domesticated turkey.

    Congratulations to you for setting the limits you need to allow yourself a good long break from paid work! I hope that you and Sandra spend some of the time enjoying some of the wild and scenic areas not too far from you. I always enjoy your stories about such areas and the photos that you take of them.

    It was very cold for most of two weeks, during which we received our first measurable snow of about 3/4 of an inch. I am happy to say that it has warmed up to about average for the past few days. That will allow for some needed outdoor work this afternoon and for the next few days.


  39. Hello Chris,
    What a wonderful technology is a passive greenhouse. Yours is also beautiful!

    Regarding your fire hazard observations:
    I have seen the innards of quite a few automotive li-ion batteries the last few weeks, since the “recycling” company where I work is setting up a plant to process used li-ion car batteries.
    Fire hazard is real, but you may not be around when it happens. Thermal runaway can happen in the timescale of hours if something is broken. The fire extinguisher is mainly to protect the rest of the structure from catching fire, so foam and powder are both good.
    Another thing to consider is that all the li-ion batteries that I have seen so far are very toxic. They contain various organic flourides (a.k.a. pfas). It should be possible to make non-toxic batteries, but so far I guess most producers are optimizing for power-density.
    In a thermal runaway event, there may be some off-gassing of electrolyte that you don’t want to breathe.
    From a recycling point of view, it is a mess, since every battery maker has their own (secret) chemistry for the electrolytes even if the base electrode materials are known.

    When will we ever learn?


  40. Hi Lewis,

    No worries and take it easy, look after yourself and get better. Hopefully it wasn’t all that excess turkey which took you down? And at such times, hope you have H to keep you company. Hope you are keeping up your fluids and getting plenty of rest (said in best mum voice!)

    You’ll be happy to know that it rained again today. But before the rain hit, the day was quite pleasant being both sunny and cool. Planted out some zucchini and cucumber seedlings and cleaned up all the weeds growing among the roses and raspberries. There was quite a lot of weeds. Looking good now. I’ll chuck some rose photos in for you to enjoy in your flu addled state.

    Get better soon and sending positive energy your way!



  41. Hi Goran,

    Thanks, and the new larger greenhouse has been a real game changer. Other than a purchased punnet of chili seedlings, we’ve raised all of the seasons seedlings from seed (most of it saved from previous seasons) in that greenhouse. I recommend such a structure, although it might look different again in your part of the world to suit your local conditions.

    Have you brought back all of the fruit and nut trees yet?

    Yes. Absolutely! It is a problem, because as you note, not all Lithium Ion batteries are of a similar chemistry and thus there are many different possibilities and risks. The smaller consumer batteries contain varied amounts of Cobalt, I believe, and this has the effect of increasing energy density and delivery, but they have other specific issues, which as you also note can be rather alarming, like intolerance of over charging, or puncture of the casing. I’ll bet that you are seeing lots and lots of lithium batteries with unusual chemistries, but very few have the exact chemistry marked upon the battery casings? It would be very difficult to know exactly what you are dealing with in the waste streams. It’s not good.

    Here is a short explanatory article on the various chemistries: Battery University-205: Types of Lithium-ion

    For your interest, I went with Lithium Ion Phosphate, which are generally considered to be the least exciting battery choice, but supposedly the safest option. So far, they appear to be performing as advertised, but I do not believe that anyone really knows how long they will last. A lot depends upon all manner of issues. I treat them with kid gloves – and hope for the best.

    The thing is, battery technology is a very mature technology and they mostly have the same sort of limitations which batteries had a hundred years ago, but to a lesser extent. The newer battery chemistries these days are better from some perspectives, but underneath all the hype, they’re much the same.

    You’re right too, there are all sorts of economic and production considerations with this stuff. I am not a believer in the electrify-everything future world that some folks believe to be possible. I’d like to be proven wrong, but my experience suggests that civilisation predominantly uses fossil fuels because they are simply better and easier.

    You sure ask the hard questions! 🙂 Do we need to learn? It is possible that we don’t need to. The plastics recycling situation down here is a mess, and compared to recycling high tech batteries, you’d think that that would be a simple process? But no. I’d be inclined to burn the waste off and recover the inherent energy, but it is an unpalatable option for most people.

    A workable recycling arrangement would look like only a few very standardised materials in circulation, but the sheer diversity of stuff makes proper recycling an unlikely outcome.

    Mate, the old timers used to say: Re-use; Re-pair; and only then Re-cycle. People go to recycling as the first option ahead of junking the stuff. We’ve got a long way to go, but we’ll get there so I wouldn’t worry about it. Economics combined with energy and resource shortages will ensure that we get there. Most people might not like the outcome though.



  42. Hi Claire,

    Wow! Well done you two. Respect. Knowing the origins of dinner is a worthy journey. My foodie friends take a similar approach to their food, and the outcome is always good. Glad to hear that you had an enjoyable Thanksgiving. 🙂

    Speaking of which, the tea book you recommended arrived in the mail, but I have not yet had the time to read it. Black tea is very nice, but can have that effect for sure. 🙂 A trap for the unwary! Hehe! Isn’t caffeine a funny chemical? It does make me feel more alert, but has no discernible effect on my sleep – I can go to sleep straight after drinking a coffee, and have put that theory to the test on numerous occasions after becoming curious about the effect. Not sure why that would be? Dunno. A mystery.

    Ah, a case of the dreaded food coma! Well done. We’ve all been there. 🙂 Hadn’t heard that about turkey meat, interesting. There’s a lengthy article in the periodical Scientific American about that very issue. Oh my goodness, the whole thing looks far more complicated than it first appears to be, and candidly I’m quietly grateful that my body works upon these issues in the background without conscious regulation. Imagine having to think about all of the things required just to ensure that we go about our day to day activities? Holy carp!

    Turkey Carcass Soup sounds utterly delicious. I respect people who know how to use everything including the squeak. But the soup is the whole next level. Yum!

    Ah, I had not realised that about turkeys being able to adapt to urban environments. Down under the birds would have a very serious risk of being run over by thoughtless drivers. It’s very clever adapting to the resources available in a particular niche, such as an urban environment.

    Wild turkey would have quite a different flavour than domestically raised, or farm raised turkeys that’s for sure.

    Incidentally, for your info, we’re upping the protein levels of the chickens feed again, and navigating how to go about doing that. We’re learning by trial and error, but long term will go back to older heritage breeds of egg laying chickens. The newer breeds protein requirements represents expensive solutions. In the short term though it is no great matter.

    Thanks for the feedback and it is a pleasure to share the local environs and sights with you. I may have a treat for you next week on that front. Need time off paid work. ‘Nuff said really. If several years ago, you’d said to me that I’d be required to work three years continuously without a break, I’d have doubted your sanity, but then here we are today!

    Also, I should mention that the soil mineralisation knowledge you gifted me has been producing considerable growth results about the property. It’s scary to think that you know something, when it turns out that you know only a little bit, and some advice might not translate well. Food forests were like that. Sounds good in theory.

    Hope the snow melted and you had a good chance to get outside and work in warmer conditions? Did I mention that it rained here again today? Must be something in the water, me thinks. 😉



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