By now, you’d think that people would realise that I’m on a break, and don’t want to be fricken disturbed. They’re trying to stress me out, but I ain’t taking it. I brought out the big guns – just stopped taking calls. And the voice mail they hear, says I’m not checking voice mails. At such times, simple works. Emails are another stress avenue, however I’ve set up a robot auto reply, saying I’m not checking emails either. Despite what people say about robots taking our jobs, women and toilet paper, they don’t really care about social niceties or offending anyone. That’s the spirit needed right now, a complete and utter lack of care. And the robot is doing a fine job keeping folks at bay, just like the robot ED-209 from the Robocop film did.

Do not call or email, you have 30 seconds to comply…

So good to get some quiet time. Work isn’t what it used to be. Before mobile phones, you didn’t hear from the boss on weekends or at nights, because it just couldn’t happen. Weekend work problems waited for Monday mornings. Always exciting. Who can forget the time my work colleague smashed the work car whilst paddock bashing in it with his drunken mates over the weekend? That problem only came to light on the following Monday morning. Very possibly the time interval between the accident, and the explanation soothed raw nerves and explained why he wasn’t sacked.

Yep, everything on a work front has now become a 2023 problem. And I don’t care for the next few weeks. Might care later – not sure about that yet. Check in with the robot.

For those who don’t know, smoko is a reference to taking a break to relax during work. Possibly it’s stretching the definition to extend the break out for a couple of weeks, but no matter, that’s someone else’s problem. I’m on smoko…

Never smoked. My two older sisters used to smoke. Thought they were pretty cool too, they did. School holidays, they’d smoke inside the house and play Midnight Oil full volume on the stereo. The neighbours probably hated us. About 4pm every day, the older sisters would go into full-on panic mode and try and air out the house, even in the middle of winter. Made no sense to me, and refusing to help them with that stupid activity, was satisfying. I was on smoko…

Back in the day though, things were different and people did smoke indoors. It wasn’t unusual for people to smoke whilst sitting at their office desks. The butts used to accumulate in ashtrays which sat on the desk next to piles of paper. Sometimes the ashtrays used to get so full, they’d send mysterious smoke trails drifting to the ceiling. Something unnatural was clearly taking place inside the ashtray. Will the thing spontaneously combust and burn down the office? Always exciting to contemplate the possible couple of days off work resulting from the office burning down. That would definitely be a smoko.

Work sure has changed over the years. Recently read a couple of fiction books set in the mid 1960’s in California with the protagonist, Sheriff Joe Bain. The books were a great read, and it was always amusing to read that the crafty, but often hassled Sheriff, enjoyed a beer on the job whilst solving murder mysteries. In these enlightened times, the beer is out, but the hassling continues.

A few days ago at the local general store, a group of loud older ladies first hassled Sandra, then proceeded to hassle the staff. Sandra was able to tell one of the ladies who brought herself to our attention, in the most polite terms of course, to f#$k off. The staff unfortunately did not have such a free hand. It doesn’t surprise me that businesses have difficulties sourcing staff these days when such experiences become common place.

Yep, work sure ain’t what it once was. The minimum wage is $21.38 per hour down under, and the median house price for Melbourne is $993,000. A bit of back of the envelope maths suggests that for a couple earning the minimum wage, if they paid no taxes, and spent nothing on anything, it would take them over 11 years to accumulate enough mad cash to pay for a median priced house. My thinking is that before the 11 years are out, the hard working minimum wage folks would die of starvation, not being able to buy food being something of a problem. So how about for Christmas, stop hassling working people and let them take their smoko in peace.

It was another sunny and cool week, with the occasional monsoonal storm. Love a good storm.

Monsoonal thunderstorm. That’s summer for ya!

For a few days there this week, the weather was rain free. At this summer time of the year, the orbit of the Earth around the sun brings the planet closer to the sun than what you’d experience in a northern hemisphere summer. The ultraviolet radiation is stronger here at such times regardless of the weather, and the extra energy is enough to dry out the firewood left seasoning in a big pile in the paddock even in a wet year like this. The seasoning process is where the sugars in the timber break down, which means the firewood will burn easier and hotter. We took advantage of the now drier seasoned firewood, to haul and store about a quarter of the years supply.

A quarter of the years firewood needs has now been stored out of the rain

The garden terraces as a project are now almost finished. The final cement step was poured in the staircase begun last week. And the path was rock lined and provided with a coating of crushed rock with lime. All that need be done now is to complete the fencing.

Ruby admires the newly completed cement staircase
The paths in the garden terraces have now been completed

A new project was begun this week. Long term readers will recall that last year we completed a low gradient ramp leading down into the lower orchards. With three wet years in a row, the low gradient ramp has earned it’s keep. That ramp faces east, and we’ve decided to construct another low gradient ramp, but heading in a westerly direction. The first layer of large rocks were put in place. These will eventually retain lots of soil. In order for the heavy and hard work to be sustainable, we limit ourselves to moving and placing six large rocks per day.

Some of the rocks are as big as we’ve ever moved and the biggerer new yellow power wheelbarrow has impressed us. We weren’t even sure we could move the monster rocks, but we gave it a go and it turned out fine.

The new biggerer power wheelbarrow was pressed into service to move biggerer rocks

A six foot steel house wrecking bar was used to manoeuvre the rocks into position on the downhill side of the path. The rocks have to be big and heavy because they’ll eventually be retaining a lot of soil.

A six foot steel house wrecking bar was used to move the large rocks into position

We could probably get or hire in a much larger machine to speed along the project. The thing is, the machines won’t get the rocks into place with a similar level of precision and fit, and as the volume of work goes up, so does the speed and risk of injury. It’s just not worth the risk, so we’re doing slow landscaping.

Ruby admires the six huge rocks hauled and placed into position

We put two work days into that new project and went about 8 meters / 24 feet in distance.

Plum admires the new large rock wall and wonders what it’s all about

The spring and early summer weather have been so cold and wet that there is no stone fruit in any of the orchards. However, the conditions have favoured apples and pears. If the parrots don’t take too much fruit, it will be a bumper crop.

There are heaps of apples in the orchards
European pears aren’t as plentiful as the apples, but there are still heaps
The Asian pears are as productive as the apples
Kiwi fruit vines are full of flowers and happy bees

Onto the flowers:

Catmint continues to produce delightful flowers
The recent sunshine and warmth has caused the Californian Poppies to flower
Penstemon is a lovely reliable plant
Roses have suffered in the cold and wet, but are now beginning to produce flowers
Salvia’s are super hardy plants

The temperature outside now at about 9pm is 20’C (68’F). So far this year there has been 1,414.4mm (55.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1,408.6mm (55.5 inches)

64 thoughts on “Smoko”

  1. Hi everyone!

    To all the delightful readers of the blog, have a lovely Christmas and New Years. And for a Christmas present to everyone, I hit the publish button early. Enjoy!

    And I thought I’d not be subtle this week when it came to the music reference. Such a great local band.



  2. Hi Goran,

    Exactly, social debt is a complicated system but most people know and understand the rules. Dunno about you, but I’m of the belief that many people will attempt to push the boundaries, and we train them on interactions, as to our responses to that pushing. And I agree, if the system is abused the easiest thing to do is remove access for those folks who do so.

    And that’s a great point. Yes, it does not work in a business setting, although some folks do try to take advantage of social arrangements when monetary arrangements take precedence. I’ve seen that take place too with similar outcomes of conflict. I have a saying about such scenarios when pointing this out to other people: They’re not your mates. Blunt advice, but effective.

    Oh no! What can you do? Sunlight levels are not what they once were and Vitamin D is at a low point for you. Hopefully you and the family get better soon. Who knows, you might have a more enjoyable and less stressful Christmas?

    Thanks for the book recommendation, which I’m studiously dodging! Writing here weekly for so many years, with the lovely people who bombard me with book recommendations… I’ve had a lot of practice at dodging them! 🙂

    Hey, I’ve been to Melliodora and met the delightful David Holmgren. A really lovely bloke, and the property is very pleasant to look at. It’s only an hour or so drive from here and he used to open the place semi-regularly, which is how I got to visit the property and meet him. Hope the books are enjoyable and you get a taste of the down under summer weather. For your info, his place is a bit warmer and drier than where I am. This is possibly a very good thing in these crazy wet and cold years.

    Merry Christmas to you and your family and I hope you all feel better soon.



  3. Hi Pam,

    Ah, thank you for the explanation. For one moment there, I thought that you had some sort of other use for that part of the property, like say a shed or something like that.

    I hear you about deer. Those cheeky scamps (Sambar deer) inhabit this forest as well, and I’m not a fan of them. Spare a thought for Ollie who has his work cut out for him dealing with the likes of those huge deer.

    What do you do other than what you’re doing with the plants? Cage them, relocate them, fence them. Deer work at keeping the forest understory open, as do the wallabies and that means wreaking havoc on our gardens.

    I likewise prune and grow plants with that outcome in mind. If there were another way…

    Plans!!!! 🙂



  4. Hi Inge,

    I’m reading George Orwell’s book 1984, at present and it interests me that the metric measurement system was one tool introduced by the Party. It’s a good read, and if I had to pick the genre, I’d say ‘dystopian romance’. In some ways the story is horrendous, but also quite sweet and genuine. Not entirely certain though that there is a genre for ‘dystopian romance’? Who knows?

    From a practical perspective, the economic foundations of that dystopian world appear bonkers to me, and so probably is not all that realistic. However, it was hard to ignore that some ideas presented in the book have been implemented. A bit of a worry that.

    Those are quite nice temperatures, and I don’t suppose you’d be likely to get a white snowy Christmas on your island?

    That’s a lovely story. My travels in out of the way corners of the planet have lead me to believe that the vast majority of people I’ve had the chance to discuss such things with, merely want to be able to get on with their lives and not cause trouble. Non citizen criminals get deported after serving their sentence in this country. It can be quite the surprise and our New Zealand friends are very unhappy about it. There are ecological limits to the experience. I recall the last big drought where Melbourne’s reservoirs were down to the low teen percentages. They’ve added more than a million people since those days. It might not be a problem now.



  5. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the update. And wow, those are some bonkers cold temperatures. Hope you are staying warm, and that the new windows are proving their worth? And also that the citrus are coping OK in their new digs?

    It was 24’C here today. Quite pleasant. Christmas looks set to be 30’C. There are now four days in a row above 30’C, so that will make, err, 7 growing days for this season (days above 30’C).



  6. Hi Margaret,

    Those are bonkers cold temperatures, and I do hope that you and Doug are staying warm – not to mention Salve and Leo? Possibly not keen to stick their noses outside in such wintry conditions? 🙂

    Good to hear that despite the cold weather, it wasn’t as bad as your worst known experience (PS I wouldn’t know how to cope – lot’s of whinging! 🙂 ) and everyone got where they planned to go. And it’s especially nice that Gwen and Marty were able to catch up.

    Yummo! We’re picking ripe raspberries now. Do you normally thin your raspberry patch? I still haven’t quite worked out that process so to make the job easy. Oh well.

    I won’t tell you that it will be 86’F here tomorrow for Christmas. Oops, wasn’t meant to tell you that. I’ll have to avoid getting sun burned, always a possibility.



  7. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, you can kind of understand why the guy was feeling a touch exposed, what with the lack of clothes and imminent interaction with the leopards. Things were probably about to end badly for the long dead dude. Those ancients sure knew how to have fun. The CNN list was pretty good too.

    That is weird weather, and I’ve never experienced such icy rain. Professor Mass wrote about the subject and it surprised me that the air at ground temperature was already that low, compared to the warmer stuff which blew in off the coast. I would have thought that the colder temperatures will be next month and the one after due to the workings of thermal inertia. But whatever the case, it sure is cold in your part of the world. It’s going to be 86’F tomorrow for Christmas. Quite toasty, but not all that hot.

    Wise to wait until the ice had thawed off a bit on the roads. Talk about slippery conditions. Did you end up making it to the library, and did they even open?

    Very funny. Yes, these things do come in phases. It’s been a very long time since I was on either roller blades, or roller skates. I assume ice skating is a thing in your part of the world? Rinks here are a bit scarce due to the energy required to keep the surface frozen.

    That doesn’t happen in relation to the incivility, and bizarrely one of them decided to metaphorically poke the Editor and got a swift response. There’s certainly something going on, and I really do suspect that people have spent too long in their own heads – and their focus has shifted inwards.

    I agree past perceptions do change with age and experience. One of the sad things about the excitement that people have for cancel culture is that it tends to be a ‘one strike and your out’, and also not to mention that the redemption story gets squashed. I doubt any of us can be perfect and at the top of our game all of the time. Comedians who tend to push boundaries would have a very hard time of it.

    Possibly so. Unfortunately when you rely upon other people, you have to deal with other people, what with all that brings. I dunno, I just think and act differently and don’t really know what to make of Elinor’s interactions. Mind you, I have strong doubts that I’ll live as long based on my immediate family and their life expectations. But yeah, sigh. What do you do?

    Hey, I wrote this evening, and posted it. Technically I wrote part of the blog last evening, and the remainder tonight. Had a lot of fun.

    I’ve never had an orange flavoured biscuit. Maybe you could chuck some gatorade, or other strong orange citrus flavour into the biscuit mix? It would probably work, maybe? Compared to lemon, orange is a more subtle flavour. Lemon though will knock your socks off, if you go a bit heavy on the flavour. The problem I’ve found with lemon juice is that adding too much has weird effects of the recipe, probably due to the acidity of the stuff. I’ve had some cakes which refused to set.

    Moved another six large rocks today. I’ve coined the phrase ‘slow landscaping’. You read it here first! 🙂 We should trademark this, write books about it, and our fortunes will finally be made!

    A very old mate of mine grew up in Hong Kong and used to like the bubble tea. Honestly to me it looked like someone had poured a bunch of small eyeballs into a glass. Just didn’t appeal. Hehe! Did they sneak a bit of wokey pokey into those essays? Kinda looks like it, the cheeky scamps. Some of the vegan food is made via artifice, to look like it contains meat. I don’t get the point of that, because there’s nothing inherently wrong with vegetables and grains, but that is my take on the world and I eat those foods.

    I have a theory about that. The old timer orchardist I met years ago through a course on grafting, described those fruit trees the essay perhaps refers to as ‘mollycoddled’. I’ve seen the commercial orchards, and it takes a lot of energy and resources to get the trees to produce that quickly. My theory is that things will revert over time. However, yields will drop and that’s life.

    What did the essay have to say about peaches?

    Mate, I was getting that flavour about the wokey pokey word dance from other mentions as to the essays. And I must say that it doesn’t impress me, after all, I am reading George Orwell’s book 1984, and an attack on the language so that ideas can’t be discussed coherently is certainly an ongoing theme.

    The main problem with interweb trollz is that they tend to work at derailing a conversation. Ideas cannot be explored without having that ongoing conversation. And such shout downs as the one you mentioned almost kill off most conversations. We’re being trained.

    Well yes, dare I say it? The patterns weren’t right. 😉 The new low gradient ramp will be very useful. It’ll take a fair bit of work to complete and is also integrated with other projects.

    A merry Christmas to you.



  8. Hi DJ,

    So many comments, and I partly wrote the new blog tonight as well. Honestly, I wasn’t at all certain I’d get to your comment which was the last one received. But no, the speed typing skills have proven their worth yet again. The government really did train me with those skills too. A weird experiment on multi-tasking, or some such project which was never properly explained, but someone had to do it. This is why I can’t work for such organisations nowadays. Anyway, I was very young back then and rather enjoyed the workplace, but all good things come to an end, and redundancy was that end. 🙂

    Good to hear that things may warm up for you soon, although those are winter temperatures here. Candidly all this talk of snow and ice etc, is making me feel a bit chilly. And it’s quite warm in the house after today’s warm-ish and sunny weather. Hey, how’s this for a Christmas day: 30’C? Should be quite pleasant.

    Out of curiosity, you poking at the ice on the roof with the fence chunk, kind of made me wonder if you were at risk of having the ice fall onto you? That’s how my mind is imagining your actions, and the possible consequences thereof. Oh my gawd, that cycle sounds rather alarming. Stay warm!

    We occasionally get black ice on the roads here too, and the only response I know is to slow down. And even then it can be a problem. With the old Dirt Rat, I actually spun it around once on black ice, and it was an alarming experience to be out of control and the brakes did nothing. One side of the road was a drop off too. Not good. Engaging four wheel drive would have been a smart move, but I hadn’t known the ice was there. It was quick. So yeah I can understand how there were all those accidents.

    Yes, wind chill really does lower the temperature. That’s what does in citrus trees here, not the cold temperatures, but it’s when they’re combined with wind. Brr! Did I mention that it will be 30’C here tomorrow… 🙂

    I’ll bet those linings in the mukluks are long lasting?

    It was a bit warmer this morning, and less humid. Thankfully. We moved another six large rocks this morning, and the conditions were more pleasant. Far out. Some of the rocks are huge. I hadn’t known that dehydration could be a problem in very cold weather too, but yes makes sense.

    Have a lovely Christmas, and Avalanche is in for a treat hanging out with Killian. Hope you got her a present? Possibly something to chew upon?



  9. Hi, Chris!

    At first I thought you were taking a break by writing an extra essay! Not so, I think – you are just early.

    “And I don’t care for the next few weeks. Might care later – not sure about that yet.” Yeah – but – as the boss (co-boss) can you do that?

    I remember the nasty days of cigarette smoke everywhere, even inside the car with us kiddies. My father smoked like a chimney full of wet wood. Good for you working on your firewood. It’s 5F (-15C) here right now, not as cold as Margaret and Claire, but plenty cold and we are depending so much on our firewood.

    Those aren’t grape vines in the yellow wheelbarrow photo?

    We already have a toolshed on the part of the garden being cleared, but, come to think of it, another clothesline might be nice. It’s close enough to the house.

    Thank you so much for the flowers, especially the poppies. Summer sunshine!


  10. Yo, Chris – A post a day early? Throws my whole schedule off. Darned holidays! 🙂

    Comply in 30 seconds, or become a small pile of ash. The right choice may be apparent to some people. The others? Well, Darwin …

    That looks to be quit a lot of firewood in the Firewood Bank of Fernglade. Ought to keep you toasty, for awhile.

    Ruby is thinking: “Needs dog tracks.” Those are some big rocks. Slow landscaping. Kind of like tai chi. Slow and steady.

    Your apples and pears look like the bees were busy, between rainstorms.

    The song was a lot of fun. Ah, yes. Those were different times. I read somewhere where the younger sets version of smoko, is playing with their various devices. I don’t know which is more damaging.

    We have California poppies that show up here and there in our gardens. Never know where they are going to make an appearance. Perhaps we should form a betting pool? The roses are just lovely. But to your epistle ….

  11. Hi Pam,

    No break from writing, that’s the plan anyway. Reality may intervene sooner or later. They do say that there is more fun in the giving than the receiving, so I posted a day early. 🙂 Have a nice Christmas.

    Dunno. The culture has shifted recently and I’m trying to work out how to best respond. Something has to change, it appears that people have become careless.

    Yes, a rather distasteful habit. People are now taking up vaping instead and it appears to be following a similar trajectory. If people want to do that fine, just keep it away from me.

    Firewood is good, ugg! Stay warm.

    Nope, those are three kiwi fruit vines. What you can’t quite see in the photo is that they’re covered in flowers and the bees are all over them. The buzzing is quite loud under the canopy.

    See… Have space, make plans. 😉 Have you ever heard of the venerable Hills Hoist?



  12. and … back! The top ten (or twelve) science lists are fun and interesting. A lot more interesting than “who died in 2022” or the “top 10 actresses who showed the most flesh and didn’t get arrested.”

    Well, yesterday was quit a day. About 1/4 inch ice … on everything. In the morning, the library website said they would open at noon. About three, I headed out, but our night manager (who was keeping pavements clear and all over the place), told me if I managed to get off our hill, I wouldn’t make it back. Several cars had spun out at the bottom of our drive. So, I didn’t even attempt it. Good I didn’t. I re-checked the library web site, and it said, closed.

    We didn’t get garbage pickup, and not even the postie made it! And this is a young man who hikes across glaciers and climbs mountains. So much for the “Neither snow, nor rain, nor heat, nor gloom of night stays these couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds.” Which some people think is a postal sworn oath or motto. Actually, it’s engraved on a post office in New York City, that was built in 1911. And expanded in 1934. It’s the James A. Farle post office. Quit a nice looking neo-classical pile … though some call it Beaux Art style. It was designed by McKim, Mead & White. Quit a scandal there. White was shot dead, in quit a public manner, because he was messing around with the ex-showgirl wife of another fellow … but I digress. 🙂 Oh, and the motto came from the writings of the Greek historian, Herodotus, referring to the Persian army couriers.

    So, anyway, it was quit the weather day, here. H still needed to be walked, and I managed not to fall on my tush. The ice began to soften up, about 10pm, last night. It’s all gone, today. Now it’s onto the flooding.

    Prof. Mass said 10″ of rain, will fall in the mountains, and the snow level will rise to 7,000 feet. Our National Weather Service says, we’re to have one atmospheric river after another, about one every 24 hours. Go ahead. Gloat over your weather. You’re time will come 🙂

    Which reminds me, my friends in Idaho told me their fire insurance has been canceled, due to wildfire danger. They’re not sure if they’re still covered for, say, a house fire. They’ll find out, once we get past all this holiday nonsense.

    We have a lot of ice rinks, here and there. Mostly, in the larger cities. In Portland, the first shopping mall (Lloyd Center) had an ice skating rink, at it’s center. With a pedestrian bridge over it. I worked in that center, before I came here. You may remember (or not) Tonya Harding. She was a Portland girl, who learned to skate at that rink. An Olympic hopeful. She’s the one who hired some muscle, to break the leg of a competitor.

    Good for the Editor. Hope she left the old babe gasping. There’s never a package of frozen veg around, when you need one.

    I don’t know about that vegan food that looks like meat. Ever checked out the ingredients? Frightening. By the way, did you see any of the articles about dark chocolate? Contains heavy metals, or something. I’ve decided to ignore the whole thing.

    I wondered if you grew peaches at Fernglade. I thought not, as you’ve never mentioned them. They are self fertilizing, and will breed true, unless there’s another variety close by. Then the pit will produce a tree that has traits of both varieties. The pits do need cold stratification. I see they will grow in Victoria, Australia. The essay I read was called “The Queen of Delicacies” from an on-line magazine called “The Bitter Southerner.” Looks like it’s available on-line. Peaches are considered invasive, in some areas. All those pits thrown along the roadsides.

    I also read an essay called “Ghost Acres: Tulare Lake and the Past Future of Food.” Tulare Lake used to be in California. At one time, it was the largest lake west of the Mississippi. An ecological wonderland. Which was stolen from the indigenous people, pretty much drained, and turned entirely into wheat fields, to feed the factory workers in Manchester, England.

    Even an old left leaning fellow like me, is getting pretty tired of all the woke nonsense. And I’m not the only one.

    I watched an interesting movie, last night. “Amsterdam.” “Some of the events in this movie, are true.” 🙂 It’s a black comedy, about the attempt of some businessmen to launch a coup, to bring down President Franklin Roosevelt, and put in a puppet general, to be kind of a dictator. Which actually happened in 1933. I quit enjoyed it. Could have done without the autopsy in the first five minutes.

    I forgot to mention, there was a Conan reference, in the first five minutes of “Clerks III.” And a few more scattered, throughout. Fanboys. Their interests are rich, varied and wide ranging. Which reminds me. I wanted to watch “Deadpool.” But the library didn’t appear to have it. But they do. They have a marathon boxed set of all the X-Men movies, and it’s in there. It’s sitting on the shelf at my local branch, waiting for me. Now if the library had been open, yesterday… Lew

  13. Hi Lewis,

    Dare I say it, the patterns aren’t right! 😉 Hehe! I sometimes say that to the Editor, just for a good effect. Always elicits a groan. Amuses me anyway.

    Have you ever seen the Robocop film? The Ed-209 scene was a classic, if somewhat messy. RoboCop (1987) – ED-209 Scene. It’s a dark sci-fi comedy. And things went very wrong. Who would have thought working on a board of executives could be so dangerous? But then it might focus minds as to product safety if first the stuff was tested on those at the very top of the food chain.

    Thanks and I’d like to think so about the firewood. Another few days of work, and that job will be done. Mind you, there are plans to increase the supply, we did run out of dry firewood this year. Not good. Had plenty of damp firewood, but that’s something that is best not used due to damage to the steel on the firebox.

    Are you staying toasty in all that cold weather? I especially hope that H is also toasty.

    Ruby probably was thinking that. 🙂 Dogs… Yeah, they sure were big rocks. And they were right at the upper limit as to what we could move. I’m especially gladdened that we didn’t have to hire in a machine to move them. Sure, you can move a lot more large rocks in a day, but then they have to be positioned which is a lot of work, and those big machines create a lot of mess and damage to the soil. Everything has to be done at breakneck speed – and that name says it all. Best if things are done slowly and surely.

    Apples and pears are a good choice, they produce blossoms later than the other more exciting fruit trees. Kiwi fruit blossom later again. I’m seeing a pattern there, don’t you? 🙂

    The band are natural story tellers. Very amusing and they’ve done pretty well. I liked the low budget film clip particularly. Don’t need a lot of mad cash to make good art, just need to speak to the people.

    Hehe! You’re probably right about all that screen time. I can’t imagine that it is an option with much shelf life.

    Sounds like a good money making scheme. The house might rig the outcome, and you might be pitting yourself against some canny gardeners. Like those who can grow the biggerer vegetable competition.

    True, peoples bits are pretty similar looking.

    Yeah, that’s why I asked whether the library would even be open. And sliding down the hill in a car on ice is not a calm and relaxing experience. Ruby just barfed up. Thanks for the Christmas present. Ook.

    Far out, the decline of western civilisation – the non-postal delivery years. Can you blame them for not heading out in those icy conditions? Yikes! The word soft comes to mind.

    Baking a batch of toasted muesli and had to turn it and chuck it back in the oven. Where were we? Oh that’s right. Soft. Have they ever lost posties in blizzard conditions? There’s probably some epic stories in there, and who can forget the Tom Hanks film ‘Beachcomber’. That’s taking delivery service too far. Ah, the saying has a long history.

    What? Oh well, I guess all that frozen water has to go somewhere. But 10 inches of rain in the mountains is definitely flooding territory. A tidy Christmas present, and not something you’d expect in winter.

    That’s happening in these parts with flood insurance, and for much the same reasons. People are dismayed. There are also, and please excuse me here, ‘piss off price rises’ of $20k. Not really affordable for most folks. Now if it were easier and cheaper to rebuild, the whole problem would go away.

    I do recall Tonya, and really enjoyed the film with Margot Robbie. An outstanding character actor. The story seemed more idiotic than anything else, but if you hang with such folks…

    Mate, heavy metals are everywhere. I’d be horrified to sample some of the composts and mulches brought in here. That’s what living on a poisoned planet looks like.

    No, we do grow peaches, the season was just so cold and damp that they lost all of their blossoms. Even the almonds (which are a peach) produced some early fruit, but that fell off too. It’s been a rough year. That’s my thinking too with fruit trees. But I’ve got to sort out the infrastructure projects first. Only so much energy to chuck around.

    Well yeah, the soils down under in this corner of the continent at least used to be much deeper and richer. Those textile mills were fed with wool grown down here, and of course the meat was probably salted and packed off too. A lot of minerals flowed away to elsewhere.

    I’m bored with the wokesters. Seriously tiresome folks, and I’d hate to think that they’re super excited by thoughtcrimes.

    Ooo. Thanks for the squeamish film warning. 🙂 Some things can’t be unseen.

    Hehe! Conan, so quotable. Actually the film did not do the fictional character justice. In the books the character was far more erudite, but could wield a sword pretty well. Little wonder the other rulers around him hated his guts. Always, plots. See that 1933 business, without the swords and nubile young ladies, many of whom could also wield a sword.

    Cheers and Merry Christmas!


  14. Yo, Chris – The “ladies” you ran across, at lunch, reminded me of an ear worm. LOL. Don’t think of it as a musical … just think of it as a song.

    It’s a song about upper east side (and Park Avenue), New York City wealthy matrons. The same milieu portrayed at the beginning of the film “Paris Exit.” Or, the film “The Women.” Either version. A real nest of vipers. But they really lose their power, when you look at them through a jaundiced eye. 🙂

    The Editor will also be able to get off on justifiable homicide. 🙂

    Oh, yeah. Staying toasty. Once in awhile, I have to kick on my little space heater, which I place between the bedroom and living room. Warms the place up in about 20 minutes. Living small (and on the third floor) has it’s advantages. When I take H out, she gets wrapped up in her smart little red and black plaid coat. I have never seen her shiver.

    Yes, big machines. Mess and soil damage. Gotta keep that soil fluffy!

    H barfs every once in awhile. Usually, she gives me enough warning that I can move her from the carpet to the wood floor. Which is much easier to clean up. But, it’s not much of a drama, even on the carpets. Get it quick with a spray of white vinegar, and no problems.

    Oh, I’m sure there’s been posties lost in blizzards. A glance into the rabbit hole (“Postmen lost in blizzards?”) reveals several tragic stories.

    I figured if nothing else, the peaches might lure the parrots away from other crops.

    I drove down to the Club, early yesterday morning (the day before Christmas), and people were driving insane. High rates of speed and weaving in and out of traffic. Saw several near misses. The general merchandise store’s parking lot was jammed, and people were running in and out with their hair on fire.

    Yeah. Merry (insert scatological word here) Christmas! This morning, there is hardly any traffic at all. Over for another year. Whew! I told the kids at the Club that once again, Santa didn’t bring me what I REALLY wanted for Christmas. Of course, they wanted to know what that was. “If I told you, you’d say, ‘too much information.” 🙂 Keep ’em guessing. They’re having a big prime rib feed, this afternoon. Sure smelled good. But, I best stay away. I don’t want a repeat of post-Thanksgiving.

    We have Canadian geese that overwinter. I can hear them honking away, at night. Quit a cacophony. But last night, I heard just a single goose, honking away. I wonder if the freeze took a toll? Canadian geese mate for life. If one dies, sometimes they “remarry.” Others remain windows or widowers.

    After more than a year, the grocery finally got in their lite popcorn store brand. I’ve filled in with other brands, but none of them have a “lite” version. Less butter, less salt. Also, the lite version chars nicely, if I leave it in the nuker, for a few seconds longer than necessary. Which is how I prefer it. So, last night I settled in to the most recent offering from “Doctor Who” and a bowl of slightly charred popcorn with melted Swiss cheese. At the end, our perky little blond doctor went through her regeneration, and guess what? David Tennant is to be the 14th “Doctor Who.” He was also the 10th. Strange going ons in the Who-verse.

    Elinor’s daughter gifted me with a mini fruit cake, yesterday. She’s quit a good baker. It’s quit tasty. It reminded me of past Christmas. My mother always bought a commercial fruit cake, each year. It was awful. It would linger for months after Christmas, wrapped in foil in the fridge. No one would touch it. 🙂 Lew

  15. Hi Lewis,

    The cheese is possibly very nice, and I’ve enjoyed sheep’s cheese in the past, but 2,600 years is stretching the ageing process a little bit too far for my tastes. It would be interesting to know if any culture could be taken from the cheese in its current state. The article didn’t mention that, but cheese makers do tend to be a rather passionate bunch and surely one of them out there would put themselves to such a challenge? It was a good list too.

    Yes, that was pretty much how it went that day. Hmm. Patti has a heck of a voice, and even better makes the performance look effortless, which it could not have been. And you’re right, it is unwise for folks to give their hands away for such pettiness, after all encountering such behaviour I begin to consider how to negate it when next encountered. Best to save up such stupidity for when it counts, but I ain’t their keeper.

    It was a fairly warm day here today. 99’F. The weather forecast is all over the shop, and tomorrow will be another bonkers hot day and night. Always something to get excited about, especially the night will be hot. However, it is still very green out there, and with the weather forecast in mind, we got up early (despite being boxing day) and spent half the day hauling and storing firewood. Best to put the stuff away whilst it is sun dried. Had lunch about 2pm and then crashed out under the ceiling fan. Continued reading the book 1984 after that. You know, I really can’t be certain whether the author’s intention was a warning, a guideline, or he saw himself as part of the intellectual elite and wove an ugly path out of the historical mess he’d personally experienced. I’d always assumed it was a warning, but now having read it as an adult I pick up on subtle undercurrents and it’s not good. Unfortunately we can’t ask old George as to what he was up to, and he may dissemble anyway. The fictional world he created can’t work anyway as the author disregarded nature, energy and resources. Nice try George, but yeah, nah, mate. Those have to be factored in.

    Living on the third story does have it’s advantages when things get icy cold – heat rises. The people living below you are inadvertently also heating your place. I’d never known a pomeranian to shiver either, and the coat is a very good idea for the sort of conditions you are both experiencing. Ol’ Sir Poopy used to love the snow, and he’d frolic around in it far beyond my tolerance levels. The summer months hit him hard though. The two Kelpie’s are yet to learn to slow down a bit in the hot weather and they took a long while to cool down today. Fed them a bit of salt, sugar, activated charcoal and biscuit mix – which brought them right back. Ollie is more naturally adapted to hot weather, but then he also has about two years of additional experience to those two young rapscallions.

    White vinegar is a great idea, and we use that for cleaning too, but generally picked up any solids and used hot soapy water. Vinegar would be better.

    Big machines, avoid if possible. There are a lot of downsides to the increased speed of the work.

    Had to laugh, with the hot weather I put the fire screens over the windows so as to keep the insides of the house cooler. I forgot that the metal fire screens cut off the interweb connection. Had to keep one screen open near to the modem and then the interweb works just fine again. The things you have to deal to. Just ran the outside sprinklers for a few minutes to cool the outside area down a bit.

    Yikes, there is a bit of interweb talk on posties in snowy conditions. Who knew? I would have thought that weather extremes were probably a step too far for such service.

    A good point about luring the parrots with other crops. The apples and pears are getting bigger in the recent warmer weather. My plan is to out-produce the parrots needs, then I won’t have to worry about the birds. The winter months put an upper limit on the birds numbers, and they protect their turf.

    Christmas does tend to bring out the best and worst in people, and driving is always an exciting experience during such times. Coming home from celebrations yesterday, the roads seemed pretty quiet. We spotted the freeway and lanes had been closed due to damage and possible repairs, maybe. And it was like a car park. Hope the folks weren’t in a hurry? The back roads were quiet though.

    Good training to keep the young ‘uns guessing. And you’ve learned some wisdom there the hard way. Mate, after Thanksgiving you went down like a sack of spuds, and it hit you pretty hard. Still you recovered, things may have been worse.

    Some of the bird species are like that here, except that they don’t tend to migrate and hang around for the winter months. We’re hearing about the extreme cold weather in your country in our news. You’d hope the freeze didn’t take a toll, but then such things happen. The available feed during the winter months are what sets the upper limit on bird populations in this little corner of the planet. Not sure why it would be all that different elsewhere.

    Enjoy your popcorn and hope the most recent instalment of the time travelling doctor was good. Might watch a Grand Designs this evening. Up to the last one of the season. One of the episodes was a real bummer of a build. David Tennant is a fine actor, and the Editor rather enjoyed the series: Broadchurch which is a crime drama series.

    Home made Christmas fruit cake! Yummo! And also well deserved. Well yeah, they’re not all good, and some are downright rubbish. Can put you off the concept. Hey, we spoke of Christmas puddings about a month ago and you mentioned the out of print English book, which I purchased on your recommendation. That was a gift to the big shed folks, and it was very well received. Thanks!

    Despite the bonkers hot weather, we might continue putting away firewood tomorrow. What did the old timers say about ‘make hay whilst the sun shines?’



  16. Dave Holmgren- How great that would be to meet and chat a bit with him. A lot of people made a big elaborate mystery of permaculture, with extensive classes and certification, but I read his “Permaculture: Principles and Pathways” and felt it said all that was needed. I’ve got no time for herb spirals or plotting maps in sketchup or the like with every tree given a cute name.

    Cold weather- yeah, here in SW Wisconsin, we got our share of this past storm. Meh, it’s winter. Of late, the weather reports on TV tend to hyperventilate and try to get us all worked up. They seem to think we are all helpless.

    Moving rocks- once again jealous of the outstanding rocks you scrounge. I’ll continue resorting to tires, and yes, it’s quite a chore to pack them tight with soil so they don’t flatten or droop in unstable ways.
    Once your beastly rock is in the powered barrow, and prying in to location I can see, but getting it out of its initial resting spot, and up into the barrow seems the trick to me, care to elaborate on how that goes?

    Smoking- One office I worked in had a fair number of smokers, including my boss. Well before indoor smoking and smoking in general was verboten, the place reeked of smoke. He was a classic type A, smoked all day, tossing down handfuls of salted almonds for snacks, and you could just see the veins in his temples pounding when things got busy.

    I’d bring my briefcase home to do homework, and unwittingly smoke out my wife. Turns out that paper seems to really absorb tobacco smoke. Glad I never started.

    The song was a hoot. As with all punk, the musical chops is not the point, it’s the attitude.

  17. Yo, Chris – Every once in awhile, I read an article about someone, somewhere, rescuing a local cheese. To the extent of acquiring heritage breeds of cows. Just to get it right.

    How to negate the old broads poor behavior? Dance around the table and sing the song. 🙂 The first couple of lines, would probably do the trick. Gotta sing it with a sneer.

    Our weather is wet and warm. And that’s the forecast through next weekend. Sometimes, when I take H out for her walks, it’s bucketing down. Sometimes, not. I prefer the not.

    It’s been to long since I read “1984” to comment on Orwell’s intent. But just a couple of months ago, I did read “Down and Out in Paris” and “The Road to Wigan Pier.” He did it rough when he was young. The first is about his experiences in Dickinsonian Paris hotel kitchens. The second, about moving from workhouse to workhouse, in England. Which by that time had become more like itinerant hostels. Some worse than others.

    That’s funny about the fire screens and the interweb. So it’s kind of like your living in a big Faraday cage … 🙂 Technology! Elinor has three devices to read her blood pressure. And they all yield different readings.

    I can see the headlines now. “Thousands of Parrots Descend on Victoria Farm.”

    We have many birds that overwinter. Even some of the hummingbirds. I guess they didn’t get the memo. “Go south, young bird, go south.”

    I watched a good movie, last night. “Jerry and Marge Go Large.” Jerry has just been forced into retirement from his job on the line, in a cereal factory. He’s a bit of a math savant. He discovers a loophole in the state lottery. It’s a funny “feel-good” movie.

    I read some more in the “Best Food Writing 2022”. “Revolt of the Delivery Workers.” About the bicycle food delivery folks, in New York City. Boy, they do the hard yards. They’re slaves to the aps, and have to constantly fight off gangs trying to steal their bikes … which are electric bikes that can cost up to $3,000. “How Vietnamese Americans Made San Jose America’s Tofu Capital.” Actually, it started in about 1900, with Japanese immigrants. But one group after another brought their own style of tofu. “The Humble Beginnings of Today’s Culinary Delicacies.” How peasant food becomes the preferred nosh of the elite. Who knew caviar and lobster were once the food of the poor? It wasn’t mentioned in the article, but pumpkins (round, orange) were once considered only fit for cattle feed. Ditto our maize. Part of it is, I think, when things become scarce, they become desirable. And expensive.

    I did my monthly order from The River, last night. I ordered citron, as I can’t find it, around here. And I want to try making hot cross buns. I also ordered shelled, salt free sunflower seeds. In bulk, they’re a lot less expensive. And, I was running low on Bob’s Red Mill nutritional yeast.

    The folks that send us the commodity boxes sent us a credit card like thing-y that can be used at our local grocery. For $50. LOL, I should use some of it to splurge on something, but I’m drawing a blank. Lew

  18. Hi Steve,

    He seemed like a really nice bloke, and was very patient with everyone he met that day. Melliodora is a very nice place to hang out too, well thought out and quite productive. It’s about an hours drive a little bit north but mostly west of here. My mates of the big shed fame do not live very far from there at all. That part of the central highlands is sunnier and warmer than here, but more likely to be hit hard if a drought arrives. What do the old timers say?: it’s all swings and roundabouts.

    And yes, I agree in all respects. Incidentally the book is merely a starting point and plenty of people forget that. Implementation, observation, correction and just good old practice is the hard part.

    Hehe! Must be something in the water because the media is screaming about heat waves down here. It was 37’C, hardly that hot and I worked outside this morning on firewood and this afternoon on rewiring the batteries for the house (decided to replace the existing battery connectors with larger cables). There was a bit of sweat I can tell you, but it wasn’t 45’C – which I’ve experienced.

    Thanks, yeah, we like those rocks too. They’re just hard work, but then so are tires and filling them with soil. Same, same, but different.

    OK, so you note the use of the house wrecking bar to get extra leverage. That helps move the rock. Plus we work together on rolling particularly large rocks. Two timber sleepers sit on the ground under the front of the bucket when it is tipped forward. The rock is rolled onto the sleepers. The the rock is rolled into the bucket. Then on the count of three, I lift the front of the rock and bucket on its pivot, and Sandra pulls on the rear of the bucket (it has a handle to provide additional leverage). We’ve had a lot of practice. 🙂 It is easy to tip the rock out of the bucket once it is in there, as it is a very well balanced pivot. I’ll try and show a photo of a rock in the bucket with the bucket tipped forward. It’s hard work!

    It’s not good that smoking inside business. Thanks for the story, those were the days huh? Far out. And the habit just never appealed to me.

    Glad you enjoyed it, the band are great and have really cut their own path. They’re natural story tellers.



  19. Chris:

    I knew about the Hills Hoist type of clothesline, but I didn’t know what it was called till you told me. That would work a treat.


  20. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, someone has it in for those machines. They’re kind of important. And it seems like the authoritas has no clue whatsoever. What are you lot paying them for? 🙂

    Far out, that’s dedication with the cheese. But then you get the same thing with all manner of interests. I’ve heard of a rare fruit society down this way. Ah, the Heritage Fruit Society of Victoria. They have a free newsletter, so I just signed up for it and will see what they’re about. They operate over the other side of the big smoke, so I dunno.

    The media is banging on about heat waves, but it was only 99’F today. Spent half the day (the early bit) continuing to put away firewood. What can I say, the sun dries this firewood stuff for free, so why let it get wet again? Unfortunately, the heat (and it was warm overnight and will be again tonight) meant I let the dogs have more fresh air than they usually get in their sleeping arrangements. And they woke me up about five times last night. By the fifth time I’d had enough and just shut the door on them and they kept quiet after that. They were over stimulated by all the critters running and flying around the place at night.

    Anyway, all that waking up turned out to be a good thing as rather than sleeping, my brain began thinking about the power system and I nutted out an issue with the batteries. Headed out around lunch time to buy the cables, and then made them up in the heat of the afternoon. Looks like the issue is fixed now, which is a good thing, nobody wants to see what happens when this stuff goes wrong badly.

    Hehe! I’ll try that with the ladies who lunch with bad attitudes next time it takes place. Expect a report to follow sooner or later. 😉 Things seem to be escalating on that front.

    Apparently it will rain here tomorrow too, with the chance of a thunderstorm. Is H a storm detective? Can she detect worsening weather conditions? Old Dame Scritchy had that trick down pat, she could sense the impending change in the air pressure and was mostly correct too. The current batch of dogs seem oblivious, although they do freak out a bit when a thunderstorm strikes too close. Having a lot of tall trees in the area means that lightning can strike close to home.

    Yes, George Orwell (not his real name) did tend to immerse himself in experience. He paid the price for that health wise. I really don’t know about the authors intent either, it was just prior to part three of the book (the torture bit which most people focus on) that I had a weird little whisper of insight that maybe the author didn’t see all the goings on as a bad thing, which is what I’d always assumed was the case. Hmm.

    Hehe! Yeah, the screens really do block the signals, not completely, but a lot. Hey, I said the same Faraday cage thing long ago on a serious forum for off grid power, and was shouted down. Some folks don’t have a sense of humour. And it has been my observation that just because a device has a digital display, does not guarantee any level of accuracy. Many such devices have to be finely calibrated. You should try reading voltage measurements, they’re all over the shop depending upon the device. Back in the day, the analogue meter readings had similar issues. I saw some for sale today, they looked pretty cool.

    Holy carp! Shh! Don’t speak so loudly, the parrots are very intelligent you know.

    I reckon the climate in your corner of the country is pretty good really, so that doesn’t surprise me about birds over wintering. They would have done it hard over the past week. We can get sudden cold fronts during summer, and the farm animals do it tough.

    The film looks like fun, and I see that the math savant had competition from a younger group. He was the actor from Breaking Bad.

    Sounds like the best food writing book has kicked up a gear. One of those food delivery firms went under recently, I believe. Actually, I hadn’t known that, but when at home eat like a rabbit (won’t mention we went to the pub for a pizza and pint this evening – so good). I’d heard that before about pumpkins being only fit for cattle, and I got a few strange comments on the blog the day I mentioned roasting and eating the sugar beets we grew a few years ago. I reckon you’re right about scarcity, but there is always someone promoting the food stuffs too. And it depends upon what is generally available for the folks in society to eat – historically not always a consistent thing.

    That is so weird. Only yesterday I was watching a gardening utoob thing by a guy up north who had been gifted a citron tree and was tasting the fruit. He said it was quite good tasting. I’ll be curious to hear what you have to say about it. Compared to a lemon, it’s a big fruit.

    Hot cross buns – so very tasty, and a highlight of the baking year.

    Get some stuff for the Club pantry, that’s what I’d do.

    Gonna be hot overnight tonight, but it is cooler here than the big smoke. Gotta do paid work tomorrow, oh well. It had been planned that this would happen.



  21. Hi Pam,

    They still make them down under, although they’re quite big and need a bit of space. On the other hand they’ll hold a lot of stuff. There was a winder mechanism on the central pole which raised or lowered the arms of the clothesline. The arms rotated with either the wind or by being pushed, so you didn’t have to move the basket of washing around and could stay in the one spot. A very elegant and simple technology.

    When I was a kid, we used to hang off the steel arms of the thing and swing around and around. I’m not sure the ones produced now will be that tough to put up with such childish punishment steel not being what it once was, and I’m not suggesting that any of us try doing that! Maybe. 🙂



  22. Hi Chris,
    Well temps are on the upswing now. Everyone got where they needed to go over the holidays with no problem. Like Steve said the media really over hypes everything. Then people can be really dumb on the roads or not dressing for the weather. Everyone came to the big Christmas Eve family party finally this year. Gwen was in her usual rare form. They are such a funny couple. Marty plants himself on the couch and she brings him food. Between servings she’s all over chatting everyone up. After three years there’s been a few additions to the family. A nephew was introducing Gwen to his girlfriend as Marty’s wife. Gwen responded, “H*ll no I’m not his wife! I don’t want to married to him.” Mind you they’ve been together for for over 20 years.

    I’ve mentioned that I was a heavy smoker for some time but finally successful quit over 30 years ago. I remember smoking at work, on airplanes and even in college classes. I had a little ashtray I would bring to class. In our family of ten all the females ended up smoking but none of the males. Even when I was a smoker I couldn’t stand to go into some places – bars were the worst. No matter how cold it was in the winter I’d leave my coat in the car because you would reek of smoke when you left and you can’t just throw a winter coat in the washer. Even smokers don’t smoke in their homes anymore choosing to brave the elements instead. I think it cuts down their smoking.

    You must be enjoying the hot weather – finally. Everything looks so lush. It’s mostly, white, grey and brown here now.


  23. Yo, Chris – From what I’ve read, here and there, it sounds like they’re beefing up security at the substations. As they say, “hardening the target.” But, we have so many power companies, here. Sounds like they need to be hit at least once, before getting their act, together.

    The Heritage Fruit Society sounds interesting. They might be a whole new font of wisdom for you to tap. On the other hand, they may be just a bunch of rich, dilettante old duffers. Only country club members should apply 🙂 .

    Prof. Mass has a post about the windstorm, bearing down on us. The local forecast says we may have gust to 40mph, this evening. H doesn’t have any weather sense, that I’ve noticed. Might be just because she doesn’t spend enough time, outside.

    Speaking of weather, etc.. I was a bit concerned, as the auction has been posting pictures for New Year’s Day, and I hadn’t seen any of my stuff. I was going to call them, tomorrow. Thought my boxes might have gone astray. But they showed up, last night. If your curious, check out Click on “auctions” at the top. Then, “New Year’s Day auction.” It takes a couple of minutes for the pictures, to load. All the bookends, are mine. Also, the glass with blue roses painted on it. Including the table lamp. That’s Fenton. There are other Fenton pieces. And, lot of my American art pottery. Where the weather comes in, is, I was nervous about what it would be like, that day. Looks like we’ll be well past any flooding threat. And, no blizzards in the forecast. Whew!

    Sleep and innovation. “It came to me in a dream.” 🙂 Our mind is busy at work, even when we’re passed out. I read an article, just yesterday, about several sleep studies. Why some people wake up just minutes before they’re alarm is set to go off. Happens to me quit a bit. LOL. They have considered several possibilities, all except for the one I discovered. A lot of alarm clocks give off a subtle (sometimes very subtle), click, a few minutes before they’re set to go off. Taking a breath before the offensive blare. Our minds might pick up on it, and prepare us to wake.

    H had a bad habit of getting off the bed, who knows why, and then whining to get back on, at some ungodly hour. Only took two times of putting her in the living room, and firmly closing the door, before she got the idea. Sure, get off the bed. But if you do, it’s the floor for the rest of the night. And I don’t want to hear about it. We had biscuits and gravy, this morning. H was better behaved. She might not have a weather sense, but I think she parsed that I was prepared to give her a time out in the truck, if she got to offensive.

    I had a thought about bad attitudes and civility, last night. I went down to the cheap food store about 7:30pm, and they were closed! So, I’m hopping up and down and cursing a blue streak, I turn around and a mother and her two children, had come up behind me. The kids were all googly eyed. Santa has potty mouth! I apologized profusely for the foul language. As I was driving to the local grocery, I thought of something. Read an article, recently, that theorized it’s the lack of so much, that has everyone on edge. Little things, but it seems like you can’t make a trip to the grocery, without something being out of stock. Sure, that happened “before” but not with such frequency. So, you have a constant low level anger, and, as we’ve discussed before, often, the origin of anger is fear.

    The trip to the local grocery, was not without it’s rewards. The seasonal dark chocolate orange balls (the ones you smack on the counter to get it to split into segments) is just about played out. But the one’s that were left, were marked down, by half. I bought four. 🙂

    The forum for off-grid power has no sense of humor. Maybe they’re all autistic? If you can’t laugh at yourself … I often laugh at myself.

    Every time the evil college kid from “Jerry and Marge Go Large” made an appearance, I thought of “The Zuck” from Face-plant. 🙂 Self entitled little twit.

    I’ve almost got “The Best American Food Writing 2022” whipped. The essays I read last night were “Innovation and the Incinerated Tongue: Notes on Hot Chicken, Race, and Culinary Crossover.” The PC was larded on a bit thick, but the the best line was “…infidelity is the mother of invention.” 🙂 Then it was onto “A Year of Cooking with my Mother.” A fellow who was writing a Korean cookbook spent a year, living with his mom, cooking right along side her. That was a fun essay. “Other People’s Kitchens.” A fellow who freelance cooks for people. During You Know What, and the lockdowns, often he was hired, just for the company. “Margaritaville and the myth of American Leisure.” A stay at a luxury hotel, with bars and restaurants themed to all things Jimmy Buffet. And, a very thoughtful essay. “It’s Hospital Soigne.” A woman chef who had worked in some VERY high end (and high pressure) New York restaurants, was out of a job, when You Know What rolled into town. And, she just felt relieved. Got herself a job cooking at a cancer hospital. Better hours, better benefits and in general, just a lot more satisfying.

    As my two cabbage heads are beginning to head south, I decided to get started on the sweet and sour cabbage soup. I got the recipe from my friend in Idaho, who got it from her mother-in-law. I’m doubling the recipe, and ought to get a couple of gallons + of the stuff. I freeze it up in quart bags. Nuked over rice, it makes a quick meal. So last night I fried up the ground beef and onions. So now it’s just doing a lot of chopping and grating and throwing stuff in the pot. I was going to do that, tonight, but I think I’ll put if off until tomorrow night. Might chop off a finger, in the dark, if we lose the power. Lew

  24. Chris,

    From last week…moving the ice off one area of the garage wasn’t dangerous. Most of the moisture content had been sucked out of the ice. One large piece fell on some snow: 2cm thick by 20cm long by 12cm wide. It weighed maybe 1 kg. Maybe less. The icicles are another story. I always avoid having those fall on me!

    Good on you for your outgoing messages re: work. Or vacation. Smoko indeed. Using technology to fight a downside of technology is the way to do it.

    When I first started at county, 2 of my coworkers had a beer or two with their lunch daily. Hour lunch. They got their jobs done fine. Then such actions became a fire able offense. The no tolerance idea…

    In parts of this country, to say very nicely “Bless your heart” is a way of dropping an eff bomb. Or an overly sweetly said, “Oh thank you. Thank you sooo much!” can have a similar meaning. Occasionally when in line at the grocery store, I’ve come to the defense of a cashier during very busy days. No need to harass the staff. I’ve also told a couple men on different occasions that “there is a long line behind you. Quit trying to hit on the young cashier who’s young enough to be your granddaughter. You’re keeping the rest of us from going home and you’re embarrassing the young lady.”

    What would Sandra have done in this situation? One evening many years ago in the local Malwart store, I was pushing my cart up an aisle. A couple had their cart diagonally sorta blocking the aisle. I politely asked them if I could get by. They moved their cart. The next aisle over, they again blocked the aisle with a “diagonal cart”. Same polite request, but a reluctant move out of my way this time. Seriously, the next aisle, they saw me coming, turned their cart perpendicular to the flow of traffic, and told me that they weren’t moving their cart out of my way. My response? Somehow their cart fell over sidewise nearly hitting them and dumping its contents on the floor.

    As the Arctic conditions dissipated, the weather got crazy, even for here. A lot of freezing rain fell for 2 days, gaining depths between 1.5cm and 2.5cm. Nasty. Couldn’t go for a walk on Boxing Day. Too slick. The ice was thick enough on top of the snow that Avalanche stayed on the top of the ice. There was a video on a local news feed that showed someone ice skating on a City street.

    We hit +6C today. Wind. Rain. Disappearing snow. Standing water and some urban flooding. Official snow depth has dropped from 37.5cm to 22.5cm. It will continue to melt for at least another day or two. We have had a total of 86cm of snow this season. “Average” is about 110cm for the entire winter and early spring season. The break from the severe weather and endless snow is welcome.

    Good start on the firewood in the shed. That’s work, as is the placement of the big rocks. Best to do the rocks slowly, just a few per day as you are doing. Machines can allow you to do more, but it’s always at a price: safety, sloppiness, etc. Glad you’re doing this work the right way.

    The Princess saw the pictures of the paths in the terraced gardens. “Those are awesome!” she exclaimed. “They do good work!” I agree with her. And she said “That’s beautiful” when she saw the picture of the 24 feet of big, heavy rocks. I had to agree with that also.

    California poppies. Salvias. Two of my favorites. I’ll be randomly dispersing salvia seeds when I distribute the dryland grass seed this year. Having some salvia and some wildflower mix in with the native grasses should be good.


  25. Hi Margaret,

    Great to hear that you and Doug survived the cold snap and that everyone got to where they were going for the festivities.

    Steve is not wrong. The media were hyping the heat wave conditions over the past few days, and sure yesterday was hot at a bit over 100’F, but most of the time this year the weather has been very temperate. I don’t exactly know what the media folks expect, but unceasing sameness might be one of their ideals, as if that is even remotely possible.

    Marty and Gwen sound to me as if they’d brighten up any room. Really up the party vibe!

    Thanks for the story, and yes I too recall those days. For your interest people are now pushing the boundaries with vaping, which doesn’t smell nice to me. Mind you, the old ciggies smelt very chemically, although there were a few exceptions. A lovely lady I know who never smoked, is fond of recounting a story where the doctor told her to go into the waiting room and have a ciggie, presumably to chill-out. Hmm. Things sure are different nowadays, but clearly you and I both remember how it was.

    Thanks! In many ways it is nice to finally get some hot weather. With all of the ground water, the plants are growing and barely requiring any extra watering – at this stage.

    Had to work today… Oh well.



  26. Hi DJ,

    Ah, I had not appreciated that the ice did not weigh much, but yeah the icicles would certainly hurt if they fell on you. A difference of pressure applied over a smaller surface area perhaps? Not sure. Over loading a roof is no small matter as the timbers can collapse, and who knows what the real world limits of such things are, until they fail, then you know for sure.

    Speaking of which, I replaced all of the battery interconnector cables yesterday with 50mm2 cable. Pretty heavy duty stuff. Anyway, a few of the battery terminals were again hot this morning, resistance in action converting electricity to heat, and I started to get a bit panicky about it all. I wasn’t sure how much to torque the bolts holding the battery lugs, and so just had to begin slowly tightening them until the electrical resistance reduced and they felt cool to touch again under heavy loads and charging. A fire is a risk with this stuff. Unfortunately also twisting the heads off the bolts is a risk too. Fortunately everything is working fine now, but yeah – do I need this stress? I have to laugh about those utility sized battery banks people so love – so much to go wrong, so quickly… It doesn’t take much either. People know not what they demand. I have an inkling though, based on experience.

    Technology can be thwarted if you get creative enough. Mind you, I did have to work all day today. Had no choice in the matter.

    When I first began working as an adult, the work crew used to head to the pub on a Friday lunchtime, it was pretty chill. Basically, we went back to work afterwards, and I never recall any trouble. It was very social and the group was reasonably cohesive, but nowadays expectations of labour productivity are so much higher (i.e. work output per hour).

    Hehe! Oh man, far out. That’s one of the downsides of working with the public – you’re captive. Another goodie is: ‘Dude, she’s only talkin’ to ya, cause she has ta.’ It gets a bit aggressive though. People can over state their charm levels. Hmm, a tale of a charm-less man perhaps? 🙂 I just try to be polite to people who are serving me, I read the book Fight Club, you know. Just think: Onion soup.

    When I used to work retail as a teenager, women thought nothing of calling me: darl, or love. That’s just how they talked back then, it didn’t mean anything. Maybe. 🙂 Look, I dunno, there is a tug-o-war going on with the language, and whilst people worry about that, pollution, energy issues and resource decline continue apace. It’s probably easier to worry about such lingual matters.

    I dunno how either of us would interact with such miscreants. They’re looking for trouble, clearly. On consideration, I’d probably avoid such folks. Sometimes trouble arises from whom you have to, or choose to, interact with. And there is a general rule which suggests that it isn’t all that great to be right and dead. Over the years I’ve encountered some folks who were a bit off, and therefore unpredictable, and you have to size up such folks.

    Hehe! Ice skating on a city street is very clever, and also prepared for the conditions. Hope the person was good at what they set out to do? It got to 39’C here yesterday, which is quite warm, but not quite heat wave conditions. Mind you, it was a very warm overnight and I felt a bit bleary eyed this morning. The battery issues woke me up pretty smart like though. Never wise to possibly burn the house down. Coffee helped. Believe it or not, I walked the dogs for an hour this evening and had to wear a jumper as it is now 12’C outside. My brain hurts.

    OK, 86cm so far compared to an average of 110cm for the season is fairly extreme. What’s the record accumulated snow for the season? I’m thinking somewhere around a metre?

    Have already put away another day and half of firewood storage, and I reckon another day should have that job wrapped up for the season. Best to get it done before any possible rain returns. You never know. I’m trying to work out what to do tomorrow. Break rocks, or refurbish the FM tuner? Not sure as the forecast is for a very cool summers day. Might break rocks. Thanks, and it feels better to do this hard work slowly. People have little in the way of patience.

    Thank you, and please also convey my appreciation to your lady for her lovely words. Aesthetics are a consideration with all of the projects here. What do the engineers say about: cheap, fast, and good – pick any two? You probably already know which variable we dumped! 😉

    How do the Salvia plants over winter in your part of the world? Although they are a large bunch of plants, many of which here die back a lot over the winter months only to bounce back biggerer than previously. They might be just fine. Plants are surprisingly resilient to weather extremes, except coffee shrubs – they didn’t like the snow.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    I haven’t heard of such things happening over here. Certainly there is a pattern to such nefarious activity in your corner of the planet, and that can’t be denied. It’s weird how people can get a bee in their bonnet about such things, and then cause mayhem. Dunno what to make of such thinking, and the articles didn’t even begin to speculate. The thing with adding on layers of security is that it adds to the cost base, and someone has to pay for that. It also provides employment.

    Speaking of power systems, I had a minor stress-out situation this morning. I’d replaced the battery connector cables yesterday with much thicker cables. I’d been aware that there was a minor issue with one or two of the battery terminals getting hot when they were charging or under heavy load. I wasn’t sure what was causing the problem which is why I replaced the cables with much thicker wires. The heat occurs because electrical energy gets converted into heat because there is a problem somewhere and the electrons can’t flow smoothly. It’s a bit of a worry because hot can soon turn into fire if events take their natural course. Anyway, I had not initially tightened the battery terminals too much as I didn’t want to break them. This was an error, so I took the wrench to them and just slowly turned each of the bolts on the battery terminals whilst they were under use until they ran cool. It was a bit like playing a game of whack a mole, and just hoping not to break anything. Very stressful, but now everything seems to be working just fine. I’ll have to keep an eye on this and re-tighten them from time to time, but can you imagine these sorts of problems scaled up to utility sized levels? No wonder they have occasional fires and stuff with this technology. It’s complicated, and the older systems were not as efficient, but far out they weren’t operating on the upper limit either.

    Might have to contact the manufacturer and get the torque settings for the bolts too.

    My ethos will all of this renewable energy stuff is to ensure that it runs cool, and is never pushed to the limits of what it can do. Nobody wants to see that in action. The thing is, every time you de-stress the system, the costs go up exponentially. It’s utterly bonkers, and there is no way you could run an advanced industrial civilisation with this technology. I’d like to see them give it a go, but I dunno, I have my doubts.

    Yeah, that was my thinking with that mob too. I’ll take the bait and see what they’re offering. Could be interesting, but then again, maybe not. I once joined a prestigious gardening group and all they did was talk. Not my gear.

    Hehe! So, you’ve been to the country club have you? 🙂 That’s funny. They don’t let in riffraff like my good self!

    It is good to note that Prof. Mass did indicate that the cyclone was not in the realms of the Columbus Day event. Interestingly, we only get cyclones during the summer months. I wonder where that storm originated? How did the wind feel at your place?

    The glass and lamp are very impressive, and quite distinctive. And your ceramics are blue – a dead give away. Best of luck with the auction and your stuff was better presented than some of the other lots. And there were many intriguing items.

    That’s certainly possible, but I use the phone alarm when needed and that definitely makes no tick. I tend to sleep as much as required when possible, and am in catch up mode at the moment. It surprises me how people have so much trouble with their sleep. If that happens to me, I tend to reduce the circumstances which are causing the sleep issue to occur, and it can be surprising how minor some of those circumstances are. Best to nip such issues in the bud. But your larger point stands and I agree, the brain does keep chugging along, and sometimes solutions arrive in the dark hours of the night. Hardly convenient… 🙂

    I like your style with H. She’ll acknowledge you as the alpha if you decide when she is to become active and not the other way around. Dogs work that way. I walked them all for an hour this evening at a very brisk pace, and then fed them and they’re now mostly asleep. Ruby is sulking tonight because the Editor is having a girlies night out. Ruby has to deal.

    Mate, with H and the truck, that’s showing who’s the boss. She knows.

    Exactly! And I agree. Another word for the effect is: Anxiety. That’s my take too, people experience a lack – for which they are not trained to handle – and it throws them. Best to explore what that means. And yes, I agree anxiety and fear can turn to anger and hate. That’s well known, and played upon.

    Top score ol’ chap! 🙂 Well done with the dark choccie heist. I would do no less.

    The young bloke in the trailer did seem to have rather an over inflated opinion of his abilities. Thanks for the laughs. That’s why he had to resort to threats, you know. Power should be self evident, and the young bloke played a weak hand.

    Hehe! That’s a funny line. Yeah, stuff things up occasionally, and you might just learn! 🙂 I’ve done just that with recipes, and it is a great way to learn why the ingredients are in the mix in the first place. Far out, I once left the addition of salt out of a bread mix – not good. Who knew that there were freelance cooks out there? A bit like travelling on a private jet on holiday, don’t you reckon? I saw an article spruiking that concept. Hmm. Mate, the sensitive person might just suggest that the clientele of the cancer hospital were in no position to complain about the food served to them, being sick and all. But yeah, I can see that move would be a good experience. And that’s from someone who walked away from the big end of town to work with small family businesses… Hashtag, the chef is onto something there. 🙂

    I’ve never made a sweet and sour meal here, but have tasted such meals elsewhere. How did it turn out? Keep those digits safe from sharp knives, if only because a moments carelessness can become a long recovery. Mate, it ain’t just you freakin’ out about the power. 😉

    If only it were funny. Might get onto breaking some rocks tomorrow.



  28. Chris:

    99F – yikes!

    We would have loved to swing on a Hill’s Hoist. Never had one, though. With all things new now, I just assume that whatever it is, it has to be handled with kid gloves.

    I don’t know if regular beets are pretty similar to sugar beets, but we grow the regular ones. Borscht – yum!


  29. Chris:

    When the weather was so hot, our dogs used to love to go down to the neighbor’s stream that borders our properties (but is on theirs) or to the pond, on a different neighbor’s property next to us. Luckily neither neighbor minded. It seems to me that you have a stream on or near your property?

    We have considered building a pond, but our 5-acre mountainside property is sort of hard to deal with (you know about that, brother!) because it’s all slope, except the little dale at the bottom. There is a spring there, too.


  30. Chris:

    Bleh. I have just remembered that there are buried power lines not far from where a pond would have to go. Perhaps they might not be compatible . . .


  31. Hello Chris,

    Good work on the batteries. Thick cables reduce risks. Did you use any conductive paste (like no-ox-id) on the terminals to safeguard high conductivity? I sometimes sand-paper the terminals before fitting cables, to ensure fresh metal surface contact.

    The last few months, I have seen the insides of quite a few automotive Li-ion battery packs and it is quite scary. Lots of energy in a small place. We have built special “submarines” for complete discharging the used batteries, since the risk of explosion is so high.

    In the past, I considered a wall-mount from Mars boy, but now I would not want anything like that inside my house. Maybe at a “safe” distance from the home, but then cabling would be more of a hassle.
    I think that your chosen solution is a more robust alternative for fixed installations.

    Indeed, to power a mindless waste-party like our current civilization could never work on renewables. However, a convivial future with plenty of bike rides still seems possible.


  32. Yo, Margaret – Those sound tasty! The Monks must know what they are doing. LOL. I have to be a bit careful, around fruit cake. In case they’re bourbon or rum soaked. Wouldn’t want to have to change my sobriety date! 🙂 The holidays can be a mine field. Lew

  33. Yo, Chris – As far as the power substations go, domestic terrorists have been chattering on the net, for a couple of years now. All anonymous and hard to track. Sooner or later they’ll nail some of them. Make an example. And, if anyone expires, due to medical machines failing, due to lack of electricity, they’ll be up on a murder rap.

    I kind of, sort of, get what’s going on with your solar. It’s like when I plug in my little space heater. I check the cord and outlet from time to time, to make sure they’re not overheating. But didn’t you hear? Big breakthrough in fusion power. The media over here has really been banging on about it. But now I’ve seen a couple of headlines that are basically, “Not so fast …”

    Never been to a country club. But I’ve seen them in the movies and on TV! 🙂 Some people seem to put big stock, in being members. Whatever. As Groucho Marx once said, “I’d never want to join an organization that would have me as a member.”

    Well, it was a wild day, weather wise. We had wind gusts up to 33mph. And it rained. A lot. But, by 9pm, all that nonsense was over, and the moon came out. Flood warnings are coming off the menu, today. Looks like New Years Day, the weather will be pretty nice.

    Yes, there’s some nice things (besides mine), in the auction. And a lot of blue! If I were still buying tat, I’d be there waving money around. I’m a little concerned about the lots with two and three items in box. But, the auctioneer Zack is pretty canny. A lot of times, he makes those “buyer’s choice.” People bid on a lot, and the high bid gets to choose which item they want. And, if they want two items, they pay double their high bid. If they only take one item, the bidding begins again, for another round of buyers choice. Clear? Took me awhile to catch onto it, too. Can’t say I exactly like it, if I’m buying.

    Maybe your phone alarm has a sub-sonic click? 🙂 Not perceivable in the conscious mind. But still there. I usually don’t have any sleep problems, either. Except for acid reflux (nasty!) and I can remedy that by either not stuffing myself to close to bedtime or, piling up the pillows. Some people run out and get medication for that problem. Me, I just go old school.

    I finished “Best American Food Writing.” “The Wild and Irresistibly Saucy Tale of a Curry Con Man.” About a fellow around 1900 who passed himself off as an Indian prince, while chefing it up at the high end of town. “Tokyo Convenience Store Chicken Gizzards Saved My Life.” A reporter at the Olympics had problems sourcing food, due to lockdowns. But the Japanese have 24 hour convenience stores (called conbini) that carry a wealth of tasty food. “The Grapefruit Spoon Makes Life Easier.” About single use eating utensils. Not the kind that you use once and throw away, but the kind that are made for one particular purpose. Our ancestors were big on them. The Victorians. Besides things like grapefruit spoons, things like anchovy forks. “I was a Lifelong Vegetarian. I Decided to Taste What I was Missing.” “I Recommend Eating Chips.” An essay to junk food. I think they’re you’re crisps. Overall, not a bad collection. Though the PC was larded on, here and there, with a trowel. Please! I get it. Treat other people with respect, as we’d like to be treated. Always have, even before all this woke nonsense.

    I may (or may not) have to take Elinor to the doctor. Depending on if (or when) she can get an appointment. And if (or if not) she has a caregiver. Love the suspense. 🙁

    We’re getting a food box, this morning. I wonder what will be in it. Lew

  34. Chris,

    Icicles are heavy. They don’t get their moisture sublimated out of them like snow can. And they are sharp. And hard as, well, ice. 🙂 Had a small one hit me on the shoulder once. Didn’t feel good.

    People who don’t live the way you do don’t know about solar power. Not the actual daily life details at least. A friend of mine north of Seattle wants to install a solar panel and thinks it will solve a lot of problems. He seems to forget what I’ve discussed with him about your solar adventures. sigh.

    The expected labor productivity is insane. Add more computers and faster computers and reduce staff expecting total production to increase? Ummmm, humans have limits too. Period. I’m very glad to be out of that rat race.

    One of my female coworkers used to call everyone “dear”. Nobody thought anything about it, it was how she talked. We had just gone through yet another sexual harassment in the workplace training (no, NOT a “how to” class). One of the younger gals helped me with a computer issue. She was also a good friend of mine. I said, “Thanks for your help, dear.” Then the training session hit me and I blurted, “Agghhh! Sorry!” She laughed and said, “DJ, it’s YOU. Everyone knows you’re harmless and don’t mean anything ulterior. Chill, dude!” So there are still some humans working. 😉

    If I were in that Malwart situation now, I would handle it totally differently. Like find another part of the store to shop in, hit that area later after the miscreants had left. But I was young and dumb at the time, versus old and (slightly) less dumb now.

    39C? If we got that warm in December? UGG. Anyhow, your 12C evening temperature would probably set a record high for this date. I’m acclimated to that COLD stuff already, so today’s +2C when walking Avalanche felt almost balmy. It was breezy, hence the “almost”.

    Ok, snowfall records and accumulations. The winter of 2008-2009 saw the most snowfall in a single winter: 247.9cm. That’s a lot of snow. The prior winter, 2007-2008, was about 235cm. Calendar year 2008 was the most by far in a calendar year: 336.8cm! Yes, that’s 11 feet in the calendar year. January and February 2008 were nasty, then December 2008 was hellacious as one storm dumped 68cm a week before Christmas.

    The winter of 1968-1968 was another doozy. It snowed 20 of January’s 31 days. There was a rather wicked blizzard in January. On February 1, 1969, the official snow depth was 106.68cm. I remember it well. I was 106.68 cm tall. Most people shoveled the snow off their sidewalks back then, so walking to school was like walking through tunnels. Here’s an article about it.

    Smash rocks when it’s cooler. FM tuner repair indoors when it’s hot. Yup, that’s how I’d do it.

    Never done salvia before. However, there are several varieties of sage that thrive here, so I’m hoping the salvia will too.


  35. Hi Pam,

    It was warm for about four days. Today, seriously, it looks like late winter weather. I even had to put on my woollen (dead sheep stuff) jumper. It didn’t get warmer than 57’F outside, and was drizzling at times. What’s going on? Makes a persons head spin, exorcist style with the whole yukky pea soup biz. 🙂

    Who knows until you put one of the Hills Hoists to the ultimate test: Can a kid hang off the steel arms with no structural damage? Let’s find out… No, that’s a bad idea due to legal concerns, so don’t do it. Back in the day, the manufacturer used seriously heavy duty steel. And the posts were cemented solidly into the ground. I doubt a hurricane would lift them. Anyway, in those days clothes dryers were unknown appliances and it was either that or the washing horse (which we still use). I’ve never owned a dryer, but did have to install one for a house we sold. Buyers were getting a bit weirded out that there was no dryer or dishwasher. OK, we can learn what is needful in order to interact with the expected expectations. I dunno, it isn’t how I’d organise things…

    Yum! Beetroot is a very tasty vegetable. But no, it is a different tuber of the same family I believe, but grows sort of similarly. Sugar beet is notable as it was bred to yield 20% sugar, which is astounding when you consider that unprocessed maple syrup is only 2% sugar. Beetroot happily self seeds here. Makes gardeners look like they know what they’re doing. 😉 Plus it is an excellent addition sliced in hamburgers.

    We have a beautiful fern lined stream right at the bottom of the property. So near, yet so far. Almost half a kilometre away. A bit over a quarter mile. Lucky you! Dame Plum on hot days will place her feet in the large water tub which the dogs drink from. There are some messy issues relating to that habit, but no matter, dogs…

    A random thought popped into my brain about your pond – Deer. Yes, the deer would be attracted to the watering hole. Is this a good move? But if you have a spring that indicates a good reservoir of underground water. Springs only flow here after really prolonged heavy rain.

    Holy carp! Yikes! Buried electrical cables are to be treated with the utmost of caution, and they’re probably a show stopper. I would not dig anywhere near such things on the precautionary principle. Hashtag, just sayin…



  36. Hi Goran,

    Thanks and the cables were upgraded to 50mm2 wire, which is no light weight conductor. I do have de-oxidisers and preservers, but in this case, they aren’t the problem. One of the battery terminals has a loose connection under the battery cover for the terminal mount.

    To cut a very long story short I swapped in the spare battery and have proceeded to balance out the battery pack. Mate, it’s complicated. I sent off a support request to the seller, but the battery is out of warranty. Depending upon the news from the seller, worst case scenario is that I’ll crack the case and replace the battery terminal with a sturdier terminal. And whilst I’m inside the battery I’ll have a poke around and ascertain the quality of the stuff inside. I could upgrade certain components, but that is probably unnecessary. I believe that the quality is good and this is a one-off issue, but until the problem has been worked through, I do not know. I’ll post pictures if I have to crack the battery case.

    Yes, lithium batteries are a serious problem, and I like how you’re reducing the risk. The chemistries with this stuff is certainly not consistent, although talking to people that is what they tend to believe. As you are discovering, that is not necessarily the case and all of them are to be treated with caution. I’ve opted for the lowest risk batteries, but low risk is not no-risk.

    Thank you. I’ve been mucking around with renewable energy technology for fifteen years now, and it is a very complicated technology. One of the most profound lessons learned is never to run this stuff at its limits. You want the technology doing something, but not too much.

    Over the years I’ve had about three items in the system which failed. More than one failure with this technology is a problem. So far, I consider myself to have been somewhat lucky when things did fail.

    And exactly! I absolutely agree. We could use this technology as you suggest, but most people believe that it is a like for like swap. They’re wrong. I dunno, I’ve tried discussing the problems, and most people don’t want to listen.



  37. Hi DJ,

    Yikes! Out of a kind of morbid curiosity from someone who rarely encounters icicles, did the fallen one which hit your shoulder do any damage? When you use the word ‘sharp’ to describe them, I don’t exactly know what you are talking about.

    So today, I awoke with delightful thoughts as to whether I refurbish the old Yamaha FM tuner, or do I break rocks? Those were the choices as to how I intended to spend my free day whilst Sandra was elsewhere. So what happened was, I baked a batch of toasted muesli, baked some Anzac biscuits, vacuumed the back of the house. As I woke up early, it was barely 10am by the time all that had been achieved plus all of the regular stuff like running the dogs and cleaning the chickens, feeding myself etc. It was a busy morning and I’d used heaps of electricity with all of the oven and vacuum usage. Went in to check out the battery room. Holy carp dude! The freakin’ terminal was still super hot. Not good. And then my quiet relaxed day of breaking rocks was spent delving into the more technical side of LiFePO4 batteries. As you’d imagine, my brain now hurts, but as a side serving I now know far more about this technology than any normal person should. And you wonder why my maths skills aren’t all that great? Brain, full, Ugg! 🙂

    But there is now a plan in place as to how to navigate this unexpected mess.

    To your friend, two words: Good luck!

    It’s been said before that only rats participate in the rat race, so you’re in the clear. My nose feels slightly twitchy saying that! Hehe! Anyway, all proper thinking folks know that rats are hyper-intelligent transdimensional beings from another planet sent to conduct subtle tests on us puny humans. How could it be otherwise? Mind you, bit by hard won bit, we’re winning the war against the rats. There will be sacrifices. 🙂 Not sure why nobody else is treating the twitchy rodents seriously. Far out, they’re tough competitors and the rodents might be smarter.

    Words are a battleground, that’s for sure. A bit of a shame that. And that’s the little secret, relationships mostly trump such word silliness. In some respects the outcome of the battle is to pit one person against another. In the end it will all come to naught.

    Hehe! Mate, being young and dumb is a step upon the path to wisdom. How can one be wise, without having first been dumb? One day I shall recount the story of listening to the AC/DC album Back in Black at full volume in the car. It was all OK, until things weren’t OK. It’s a right of passage. A shame that people have less understanding nowadays. Oh well.

    2’C wouldn’t be abnormal here for winter either. Today barely reached 14’C and the clouds were thick and accompanied with drizzle. Someone said that it was summer, we’re they wrong?

    Thanks for the story from your area during the epic winter of 1968-69. As someone who has lived through epic droughts and bonkers bushfire risk years, the story read to me like living through a particularly nasty and unpleasant exam for a subject which you haven’t quite prepared for, and probably know that you can’t. But all the same you have to face the experience, it’s prolonged and ugly, and you just hope that you get a pass on such an awful subject. That’s what that story looked like to me. Far out, it made me shiver reading about it, although it is now only 10’C outside. Brr!



  38. Chris:

    Been thinking about planting some sugar maple. Maples grow wild here and I believe that up in the Blue Ridge Mountains some people still commercially harvest the sap from planted sugar maples.

    We had a dish washer installed when the children were small. I thought it would save time. Not so, and I gave it up decades ago. I had to run the thing all day to keep things washed, or else buy 5 different complete sets of dishes and cookware to keep up with the cooking volume. I swanny – sometimes I think I live in a restaurant.

    We have raccoons that love to wash their food in our cat, bird, and squirrel water dish. I wonder if they wash their feet, too. What a mess.


  39. Hi Lewis,

    I’m quite the fan of analogue technology and after all had plans to refurbish the late 1980’s early 1990’s Yamaha FM tuner today. The thing sounds awesome already, but it will probably get more awesomer after being given a life extender. Didn’t get to that job today because the house batteries were playing up still. Turns out one of the batteries has a fault, and is out of warranty. Fortunately I could swap in the spare battery, and even that is not a simple process. I contacted the seller, but we’ll see how it goes. It is a simple fix anyway, but the problem is that I have to crack the plastic case so as to get into the guts of the battery and replace the faulty part. Oh well, if it’s out of warranty, what does it matter?

    Hey, those old record players were huge weren’t they? Like the size of a sideboard cupboard. Electronics were actually bigger in those days.

    Speaking of vintage, after replying to you last evening I sat down and watched the film ‘Awakenings’ with Robin Williams and Robert De Niro. So good, I really enjoyed it, despite the somewhat bleak subject matter. The film is now 32 years old, and recounted a time from 21 years earlier. They’re both great actors. It was intriguing that the disease came in waves and has apparently done so over history. Nobody wants to experience Encephalitis in any of its forms.

    That’s the risk that such folks play when it comes to playing such games. Life is inherently risky and there are no guarantees, and for all you know it may be foreign powers playing geo-political games too. Until the miscreants are nabbed, anything is pure speculation.

    Yes, it is exactly like that and the cord heating up is the same thing. It may surprise you to know that not all cords are made to the highest standards, and they can develop weak points which can produce identical effects. Electricity can be explained using water metaphors and if the flow is large and fast whilst the pipe is small, there’s gonna be a problem.

    I heard that hoopla biz about fusion power. Yeah, sure dudes is what I thought. And articles followed saying that it would be a few more decades into the future. Hope someone noticed that there are energy, pollution and resource issues right now that need resolving? Probably not. Didn’t someone once quip: Ain’t no such thing as a free lunch. That concept probably applies to fusion power as well as it does to economic and social concerns. And yup, not so fast fella’s summed it up quite nicely. Now, I’d be happy to be proven wrong, I’m just not that big a believer in such breakthroughs.

    Hehe! Nobody asked me to the country club either. Must be something in the water! 🙂 Thanks for the laughs. I always felt that Groucho took his point of view too far in that matter. Sometimes it is nice to be welcomed by your friends and peers. Groucho was probably a very difficult dude.

    Good to hear that the wind storm was bad, but survivable. And that you made it through intact without having H sucked up into a tornado. I doubt she’d enjoy that experience. It was cold and drizzly here today. 57’F was the max temperature and I had to put on the crusty old woollen jumper whilst I learned things about batteries that no normal person would ever want to know. Kind of sucked actually. But I did console myself by heading to the general store for a pie, coffee and fruit mince tart. Yum. Spoke with a local guy I know and we chatted about getting permission from the local council to build a home on an otherwise empty bush block. I think I may have scared him, oh well. I dunno, and no I don’t want to do that process for him, despite the promise of mad cash. It’s a funny job that (which as you’d imagine I did here), but it’s one of those jobs where nobody will care more about the outcome than the person submitting the application. People don’t get that. Reading and responding to legislation can be a very boring activity, but if that’s the process, then that’s exactly what a person has to do.

    Ooo, I’m with you in that regard in relation to the auction lots. It seems an uncertain outcome to me. But then things in society can change and you’re left swirling in the wind asking the hard question: What the f…? You’re paying the dude to run the auction, so if that’s how he wants to run things, then cool, as it is his job after all. There was a lot of blue too!

    Hehe! I doubt it about the phone alarm. It’s like getting a robot to do the work, quietly focused: Wake up and switch the alarm off, you have ten seconds to comply. Not words I’d want to hear the phone blurting out at some ungawdly hour of the morning.

    You’d be amazed at how many people have sleep problems, so you’re doing well. Ouch about the acid reflux, I too have occasionally experienced that and it is very unpleasant. Fresh common mint leaves kick that, but then so does a small quarter teaspoon full of activated charcoal. Either fixes it straight away for me, no waiting. Of course you do have to eat the stuff and that is only something for the resourceful among us. I’ve heard that about the medication, and yeah. Many people have an outlook which suggests that there is a pill for that (as in an app for that). I dunno about that perspective. I’ve known people close to me who were misdiagnosed and then suffered the consequences. Hardly an inspiring moment other than try not to rely on that lot, they might stuff it up.

    Those sound like some fun essays, and I’ll check them out.

    Hey, there’s been some fun and whining on the electric car front down under: Tesla owners stuck in huge queue to charge their cars in regional Australia. Talk about a first world problem.

    Did you end up taking Elinor to the doctors? Life is like that, sometimes exciting. Nobody really wants too much excitement. That’s a bad thing.



  40. Hi Pam,

    Will respond tomorrow, but…

    So, you’re basically asking me to work long hours and for little pay relative to other options? Look, I’ll have a think about it, but candidly I’m not keen..

    It’s a very unappealing and demanding job. What do they all expect?



  41. Hello Chris
    Some of your interchanges with DJSpo, teminded me of the following poetic lines. ‘He was right, dead right as he rode along.
    But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

    At the moment I am ill Don’t know what with; could be any one of Winter’s viruses.


  42. Yo, Chris – Having books on the shelf and records in their sleeves, tells people who you are. A smart device sitting on a table tells you nothing.

    Yikes! Battery hell. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them.

    I saw “Awakenings,” years ago. A great film. Dr. Sacks was such a kind and interesting person. I saw a documentary, not long ago, about his life. Once upon a time, the library also had a documentary of his work with people with Tourettes Syndrome. Also, fascinating.

    Last night, I watched an older film, “V is for Vendetta.” It’s a DC Comics film. But, stand alone. Not part of a series. It takes place in an England, not too far in the future. An England Orwell would recognize. Worth a look.

    I was going to link to an article about how fusion is not all it’s cracked up to be. But why preach to the converted? 🙂 A much more interesting article was, “Worst Drought in Living Memory Threatens the World’s Olive Oil Supply.” Mostly about Europe. Glad we can still get olive oil from Australia and California. Though I’m sure it will be even pricier than usual.

    H might really like being sucked up by a tornado. It seemed to work out well, for Toto in “The Wizard of Oz.” 🙂 Could do without the flying monkeys.

    Actually, I’m sure some people might find that an interesting job. Negotiating the building permits for bush construction. Employment (ideally) is about finding a good fit. I read that link of Pam’s about accountants.

    I called the auction folks, this morning. Wanted to make sure they had my right address, to send the check. Got the same woman who wasn’t very pleasant, last time. Right off the bat, I praised the pictures, and asked if she had taken some of them. Yes she had. Things got very pleasant. I had a minor quibble. There’s a three piece Fenton glass item, and the base got put under another piece. If it gets fixed, fine, if not, no big deal. We also talked about how the weather for the auction, looks good. And, she said there’s a lot of interest and they’ve had many phone calls. Fingers, crossed.

    So, will my preferred charred popcorn work as well as activated charcoal, for acid reflux? 🙂

    That was quit an article about EV charging stations. I think they’re all part of the plot to drive people into the cities. Although, from what I’m reading in the news, we’re getting quit a few in this county. Helps that we’re halfway between Portland and Seattle. And, living in a pretty blue state, the government is pushing for a lot of charging stations.

    Elinor went to see her doctor, this morning. Someone took her. Not me. But I’ve got puppy.

    I happened to catch Frank, the mechanic, this morning. Everyone has to be out of the Yard Birds building by the end of the month. He’s negotiating on another place, but it’s owned by two brothers who are squabbling. Frank said he’s got everyone’s phone numbers, and will let us all know when he lands.

    The food box, yesterday, was pretty good. There was a 2 1/2 pound frozen ham and a pack of 4 frozen pork chops. I took those down to the Club. A 2 pound bag of toasted almonds. There was some butter product, and eggs. A big loaf of commercial french bread, a slice of fancy cake, crackers and a container of Christmas cookies. I took all that down to the swap table. Get it out of my apartment. And, the usual packages and tins of other stuff.

    I’m reading a book that’s pretty interesting. “Dark Earth” (Stott, 2022). A novel. Dark earth is what archaeologists call urban areas, that are covered with organic stuff, when they get abandoned. It’s about two Anglo-Saxon sisters, who live outside of London, in 500 CE. The city is forbidden, taboo, haunted. But they must take refuge there. It’s really interesting how they view the Romans, long gone. The whole place is going to rack and ruin, but there’s salvage to be found. It took me a couple of chapters to get into it, but now I can’t put it down. There’s mention of a young man, way out in the west, who rallied the troops and won a great battle. I don’t think he figures largely in the book, but you can guess who that is. 🙂 Lew

  43. Hi Pam,

    Hope you noticed the amusing earlier immediate reply from yesterday? Kind of sums things up. There is a real shortage of people who want to do such work, and the sheer level of bureaucracy we have to navigate is becoming worse every year. It does not surprise me that people are leaving the profession – of any age too. 80 hour weeks suggests that maybe those big firms need to hire two people, instead of one, but then it takes a lot of graduates on not much mad cash to pay for the lavish lifestyles of the folks at the top of the food chain. And people aren’t stupid, when it is more lucrative to drive a forklift or hold a road traffic sign with more protections and stable working hours, then no wonder folks leave.

    I’ve got two sugar maples growing here, and they are very hardy trees from my experience. And down here they’re very cheap seedlings, but the seeds look even easier to propagate. The only thing to recall with them is that the sap is only 2% sugar, so that takes a lot of boiling down.

    🙂 Hey, some folks use the machines as storage racks for the dishes, plates, cutlery etc. For some reason the results of that cleaning process always seem really dry to my fingers, and a little bit squeaky. Nobody wants that.

    Expectations are created spontaneously when folks push at the boundaries, but only are they maintained. Yes, that is how things look to me. Good luck!

    Too funny! The magpie family drink and then wash themselves in the water bowl I leave out for the dogs. The water gets changed every day so the birds are happy with the arrangement.



  44. Hi Inge,

    Hope you are feeling better today? I had something along those lines a few months back, and that’s the risk with being human. The sun is now low in the sky for you in the winter months and denies it’s energy and healing balm in the form of Vitamin D. The great big fusion reactor in the sky is on holiday down here, and because we’re careless down under, the planet is orbiting closer to that thing than you’d experience in your more northerly part of the world. At times the experience is quite hot indeed.

    After a decade of commuting in busy inner city traffic on a motorcycle, I gave it up. All nine lives had been used up in various mishaps of one kind, or another. And I’m as you see me today, nervous that the tenth life would be called upon. Fate will take us where she will. Hope it deals kindly with both of us, and all of the other lovely readers here too for that matter.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    The photos from the link you provided of the frozen water resulting from 25ft waves and 60m/h winds were pretty spectacular. Wouldn’t want to have experienced such frozen water first hand, but nature sure can show her furious side when needed.

    On the other hand, nature can be very bountiful. Southern hairy-nosed wombat population booms on Nullarbor after drought breaks. Wombats are lovely creatures, if a tad grumpy.

    That’s true, digital records are ephemeral by way of comparison. I happened to see a local couple this morning, and the lady was reading the newspaper and the guy was on his phone. The lady had the better of the two experiences. Man, have you ever encountered an enthusiastic person, waxing lyrical about some rubbish or other and then they utter the fatal words: Hang on, I’ll find it on my phone. Never ends well, the little device things aren’t all that great for finding stuff from my perspective.

    Thanks. Yup, can’t live with batteries, pass the beer nuts. 🙂 Far out, the Editor is now on board with cracking open the case of the battery and fixing the terminal issue. If we don’t do that, the expenso battery is terminal. How’s that for a clever play upon words? On a serious note, we shouldn’t have to do this work.

    Yes, Dr Oliver Sacks seemed like a really lovely person, who also happened to have a razor sharp mind. He would have made a very loyal friend too as a guess. The Awakenings would have been something to see, but may have left a deep imprint upon the soul. I’d doubt you’d come away from such an experience unchanged. There’s a great deal of variation out there in the human experience.

    I’d watched that V for Vendetta film at the cinema when it was first shown. Quite enjoyed it too. And yes, Orwell might have had something to say about the story.

    That’s what might be called a ‘power move’ on your part not to share the article on the recent fusion power experiment. Olive trees grow really well in this part of the world. In the Adelaide Hills in the state of South Australia, the trees are something of a weed. What a great weed, although opinions may vary in that regard. My mates of the big shed fame actually purchased a few years ago all of the Olive trees from an old orchard which was going to be demolished. A lot of hassle and trucks to move, but the trees are growing really well there now.

    You know, my view is that Pomeranian’s are far more sensible dogs than West Highland Terriers, such as Toto. Mate, we could all do without the flying monkeys! The stuff of nightmares. Sharknado was bad enough.

    Some people might find the job of obtaining a building permit for a bush block to be an interesting way to spend their time. I didn’t mind the work, for your info. The thing with the job is that you have to leave your preconceptions and emotional state at the door. Such things are unwelcome in that legal process. And there’s the thing too, you have to recall that it is a legal process, and then follow what the process demands and do nothing else. Too many people start trying to drive the process, and then run out of steam. That’s the point of the difficulties which are inevitably encountered, it’s meant to wear you out. I just treated the activity as an administrative process to be completed to the bitter end. But I’ve heard people getting all worked up about the process and they just don’t make it across the line. I do tell them, but do they listen? Too many folks believe that bluster is an antidote to plain ol’ hard work. It’s been something of a cultural shift in my lifetime that belief. I’m sure you see it in your part of the world?

    Very funny! Popcorn is apparently pH neutral, so there it wouldn’t hurt. But it ain’t alkaline is it? You may scoff, but activated charcoal is an alkaline substance from what I understand, and that is how it neutralises the acid in your guts. Acid + Alkaline = Neutral and salts, I believe. Mint is also alkaline, Mr Scoff without first trying. Hehe!

    Well sooner or later, folks are going to have to move closer together due to energy issues, and that means cities. How they’ll all be fed is a good question. I’m of the belief that the rural areas, and remote areas like here, will get quieter, not busier. Tell ya a funny story. When the Editor had her girlie day with friends the other day, they ended up at a beachside holiday town. Compared to last year, it was quiet. Hmm, perhaps the economics are beginning to bite? Holiday rentals are bonkers expensive. The awful bit is that up here in this mountain range we’re in day trip territory, and perhaps by comparison to the beach, this is why it is busier up here? Dunno.

    Greetings to H, and hope things are working out on the Elinor front.

    Hope Frank gets his new place sorted out. It is no small thing to relocate a mechanics business. A lot of materials and equipment, some of which are not small.

    Nice one with taking the food to the Club. I assume the ham can be sent to the biscuits and gravy department? Glad to hear that the management folks have stopped trying to stomp out the swap table. It’s such a useful facility.

    As you once accurately described: He’s a slippery fellow that Arthur. Such a nice way to put things. Thanks for the book reference, and I’ll have a look. The off grid book hasn’t arrived yet.

    Caught up with mates today for lunch. We all just yakked for hours. So nice, but me now tired. I think I’m a bit of a classic introvert in that I enjoy company, but need time out afterwards. Might break some rocks tomorrow. The next few days will be warm. It was 91’F today and felt very nice.



  46. Yo, Chris – I thought the one picture was interesting. Just across the street behind the iced houses, no ice on the house. What a difference just a small bit of distance makes. I’m sure the folks “on the lake” lorded it over their cross street neighbors. Hubris, hubris 🙂

    Romance must be in the air, for the hairy-nosed wombats. 🙂 I don’t know about “charismatic.” I checked out some more photos, and they are kind of cute. But a meter long? Also, I’d say Mr. Callander has never met a grizzly bear, up close and personal.

    Ah, yes. The dreaded phone fumble. “Here, let me show you a photo of my new grand daughter.” In the first place, I don’t care. Seen one baby, seen them all. And as they scroll, scroll, scroll, I think of half a dozen other things I could do with the time.

    Well, if the expenso battery terminal, is terminal, then you’ll have to go the the battery terminal for a new terminal.

    Last night, I watched “Bullet Train” with Mr. Pitt. A rather complicated action adventure story. But a lot of fun. Very high body count. Worth a look. By the way, I checked out Mr. Greer this week, and saw that you were inquiring into any new zombie movies. Taking a look into the rabbit hole, there’s not much on the horizon. That sounds very interesting. Although there’s going to be an American remake of the Korean “Train to Busan.” It’s titled “Last Train to New York.” Then there’s some series about a zombie outbreak in a school. I knew angsty teens were well on the road to becoming zombies. Then there’s some kind of heist / zombie movie. Slim pickings.

    Big Shed Olive Tree Rescue. I think olive trees are more charismatic than hairy-nosed wombats. 🙂

    Toto was a Scottie. Westies, besides being white, are a slightly different breed. I had two, earlier in life. At that time, Westies were a better breed of dog. Not as yippy and smart as whips. But, they got popular, and I don’t know how the breed is, now.

    I think negotiating building permits, for the high end of town, could be lucrative. I think a dogged and relaxed individual would work out best. Someone who knew where to slip a bottle of good Scotch. Remember the names of the the officials wives and kiddies. Which one’s were at Uni, and inquiring as to how they were doing. Tap and stroke the old boy network, in other words.

    A couple of extra pillows seems less complicated. 🙂

    Our biscuit and gravy maker has decided ideas about what kind of pork we should use. A ham wouldn’t figure into it. She’s got her heart set on some expensive brand name stuff. And, it’s got to be the breakfast sausage. Unfortunately, all that’s available right now is “hot”, Italian, or sage. Or, in breakfast sausage, not the name brand. There’s a bit of whinging. If I were doing it, that ham would be providing a few weeks of nosh. Although it would probably have to be ground, someway or another. I’d probably also make the biscuits from scratch. Sourdough biscuits? But, near as I can figure, we’re about doubling our money. This week, no supplies need to be bought. So, it’s all gravy 🙂

    I finished “Dark Earth,” last night. It was a good read. To me. One question I had is why the Romans left so much stuff lying around. The only thing that made sense to me, was disease, on top of evacuation. A real epidemic, to leave so much stuff, behind. Arthur was mentioned, again. By name, this time. But really doesn’t figure much into the book, other than being another war lord. Lew

  47. Chris,

    Icicles. The base at the top can be huge: I’ve seen many that were at least 20cm in circumference. As they drip and elongate, they taper toward the bottom. The bottom tip is rather pointy and sharp. Those bigger ones can weigh as much as a good-sized branch. Don’t want to get hit by one. The small one that landed on my shoulder once felt like someone had thrown a small rock at me and hit the top of the shoulder. Yes, there was a small bruise.

    “And that’s the little secret, relationships mostly trump such word silliness.” Exactly. It gets back to what we’ve mentioned on several occasions: treat others the way you’d want to be treated.

    That 1968-1969 winter is the winter that all winters since are compared to. That cold January was epic. I still get goosebumps thinking about it.

    Avalanche has been wanting to stay outside even at night for a few days. So we bought her a small plastic “igloo” house. Naturally, she is getting used to it slowly, sniffing it whenever she is near it, sometimes sticking her head in the doorway. She has cleared some dirt out of one of our circular thingies we use for container gardening. That has turned into her preferred sleeping location. She is out of any breeze and it is the perfect size for her to curl up inside it. After sunset today and after our walk and play times and moving an inch of slushy snow, I set a fire under the patio roof. It was like “Old Times”, or at least maybe a Jack London story: the wolfish looking dog lying in the snow, the human sitting on a log, both staring at the flames. Tomorrow maybe I’ll cook some pterodactyl, er, chicken outdoors too. Ugg. DJ make fire. 🙂


  48. Hi Pam,

    Years ago when running a graduate program for a big corporate, one of the assistant accountants had come from an audit background with a big firm where she’d worked for a few years. She left due to the bonkers long work hours. By contrast I ensured the assistants all worked regular hours. Those big firms sell the concept that the experience an employee gets is second to none. I had to let her down ever so slowly and gently on that score. It’s funny, like in a bad way, how perceptions don’t necessarily equate with reality. What do you do? My general thoughts are that if a job takes 80 hours per week, it probably needs two people.



  49. Hi DJ,

    You paint an alarming picture of those icicles. I assume that cars and all sorts of other things also get damaged when inevitably the things fall? Hail storms are not uncommon in this corner of the planet, and at this altitude the stones are fairly small and do little damage to fruit, buildings etc. But for some reason, at lower altitudes and much closer to the big smoke, the hail stones get pretty big, as in car destroying. Some cars look as if the mob from the 1920’s had found a wiseguy in a car and decided he needed to eat a lead sandwich. 🙂 You get the idea.

    That’s the golden rule. And it applies, even when people don’t quite understand that it may. I often wonder what folks are thinking when they’re treating other people (not to mention everything else) poorly. At a wild guess, they might be thinkin’ inhale, exhale, me wants, err, Ugg?

    The description of that winter sounded epic.

    Got a reply from the battery folks, and it wasn’t good. Being the crafty proactive sort that I am, I’ve already ordered replacement terminals for all of the batteries. A problem in this case for one, is a problem for all. Might have to do a short term fix. Teflon plastic sheets are wonderful materials.

    Split some large rocks today. Always satisfying to see the crack form in the rock.

    Hehe! Ugg! Go Avalanche, and who can fathom the mind of a wolf, except that you just did. Enjoy your roasted pterodactyl, I’ve heard they taste like chicken.



  50. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the link as I’d never before heard of Fred the Mastodon. A fearsome beastie, and not something you’d want to encounter whilst on an otherwise pleasant bushwalk. I see your mastodon and raise you: Tasmanian devil found under couch in Hobart home, after being mistaken for dog’s plush toy. The Devils used to be on the mainland, but I’m guessing they were displaced by Dingoes, which presumably arrived via trade between the Indigenous folks and the Indonesians. The dogs would have been very handy tools. They’re kind of like a coyote. There is a dingo farm not very far from here, and one day when I get some free time, I’ll visit it. I’ve heard of this free-time thing, but it’s an elusive beastie.

    Speaking of work, we split two very large rocks today into five more manageable rocks. I must say that thanks to you when doing that work, I get flashes as to how the ancient Roman’s went about doing exactly the same job. It’s a real investment to remove large rocks from paddocks, and the new low gradient ramp project is progressing. I tell you what, it’s really satisfying to hear and feel the rock split. Just have to watch out for any large ants which get annoyed by the work. And I also rolled two very large rocks further down the hill out of sight. It’s like playing a game of cosmic billiards.

    I got an email reply from the battery suppliers, and it was stupid. The reply told me everything I need to know about the situation. But I’d guessed that might be the situation and had already ordered five sets of replacement terminals from the land of stuff. Long wait times, but there is a plan to do a more ‘now’ work around. It’s something of a problem that the battery terminals are getting hot, and the batteries are outside of warranty. If I’d known how things would turn out, I would not have travelled this path, but I didn’t and here I am just making the best of things. Fortunately, I have some experience with hillbilly engineering solutions! I got this. 😉 Maybe…

    Actually I did see that one street back from the lake and there was little in the way of ice. I can’t imagine that the ice wouldn’t have damaged the houses? It looked massively thick and probably put loads on the house which the building was never designed to accommodate. Hey, the houses might need to be demolished, and then the one street back folks have lake shore frontage? Fancy that?

    Charismatic is a big call. From what I’ve heard of wombats is that when they’re young they have very pleasant personalities. That stops when they become teenagers. Wombats are quite grumpy, but here, they tend to hang around the paddocks consuming the choicest plants and making tracks through the garden beds. They don’t bother me, and the dogs and I don’t bother them. A happy arrangement.

    Grizzly bears are frightening creatures. Please do leave them in your country. What an import that would be. Not even Ollie would be up for tackling one of those fearsome critters.

    Happy New Year eve to you! Living in the future has it’s advantages.

    Phone fumbles, I see you’ve met one of those? 😉 Far out, I start making noises about how crap the devices are for that use. People get upset.

    I think I had some food stuck under the ‘S’ key on the keyboard as it wasn’t working well. Turned the keyboard upside down and bashed it on the desk and some unidentified chunks fell out, but at least the key now work. 🙂 Jut kidding it eems fine, maybe.

    Very funny! It annoys me that more efficient technology is physically less resilient. This biz with the batteries should not be, and yet it is! A mystery, but fortunately I’m an old school tech geek and can sort it out, but not happy that I have to do the work. Oh well, mustn’t grumble. We’ll crack the case on one of the batteries next week and see what there is to see. Probably not good, but at least I know what I’m looking for. It will be something very stupid which is causing the problem. Did they really need to save the few cents when they constructed this thing. Just for fun, we might utoob that work with the brand disclosed, that’ll get them worried.

    Ooo, I’d seen a trailer for the film. Yes, high body count sums it up, but the fight scenes seemed to have some sort of comic element to them which was quite amusing. All very deadly, but polite. Fits in with the culture. Mr Pitt is a fine character actor. Your concerns are very real, that lot might endanger us all by turning into zombies, probably whiny to boot! Hehe! Actually the Editor and I were discussing the zombie film ‘Warm Bodies’ yesterday, had some good quotable lines. Look candidly, I’m a bit nervous about predicting zombies for this coming year. Do I need the extra stress? Maybe not this time around.

    Most of those Olive trees relocated really well at my mates place, but wow, a lot of work as the trees were fairly old. It reminded me of the old Italian couple who used to run the other local cherry farm. They knew their cherries, but the kids weren’t interested and the property now has large imposing gates and no sign of what it once used to provide. I hadn’t checked but it wouldn’t surprise me if the trees had not fared so well. Then, just to disprove my theory, the other cherry farm has been taken over by a youngish and enthusiastic couple of European mainland origins. They’ve done amazing work. It’s been a tough year for that fruit though…

    Exactly, that probably is how the work needs to be done with obtaining such permits. And clients expectations have to be somewhat flexible. Sometimes folks need to be told to ‘pull their heads in’. Just because plans can be drawn up, does not mean that they will make it through the process. Hmm. One constant theme I see with such matters is that people make buildings way too big. And I’ve heard some dodgy claims about eco-house for behemoths. That ain’t so.

    Sure, no worries. I have no dog in that fight, and whatever works for you. It’s painful that and I can’t sleep through it.

    There’s a bit of whingeing! What? Far out, your Club chef probably needs to lower expectations somewhat – see what I was saying about houses? Same, same, but different. You need one of those old school meat grinders which attach to tables and benches. My grandmother used to by cheap cuts of meat and then grind them up by hand into mince meat. I doubt most people even know how such things are done in these enlightened days?

    Nice gravy joke at the end too. 🙂

    Intriguing. I’d imagine that the legions took many daily supplies with them when they left, like grain reserves and other food stuffs? The disorder afterwards I reckon would have impacted upon farming and distribution to cities, and then whammo, disease falls hard upon hungry folks. After all, they’re not in peak condition.



  51. Hi Chris,
    I still use a hand powered cheese/onion/ cranberry/ apple/orange grinder (our sheep come back ground as needed from our processor) my food processor just doesn’t yield the right texture. It is also noisy and no fun to clean. I inherited one from Grandma, one from Mom and bought one for myself back in college (Sewanee) when my maternal line was still intact.

  52. @ DJ & Chris – The author of “Dark Earth” has an interesting website with a few pages on background for the book. About recycling Roman stuff and the day she spent with a blacksmith.

    There’s a lot about blacksmithing, in the book. No sky stones in sight, though 🙂 Lew

  53. Yo, Chris – My, Tasmanian Devils sure are toothy little beasties. Funny that they at first thought it was a stuffed toy. I see your Tasmanian Devil and raise you the alligator found under a caravan in Napa, Idaho, last year. At first, the sheriff thought it was a pool toy. Nope. Four foot long alligator. A mystery …

    Last year there was a Roman stone quarry found in Britain. The workers left a lot of graffiti, behind. Said some rather rude things about their “boss.” 🙂 They think they might have been a work crew from the Classis Britannica, as they also did a sketch of a Roman ship.

    I’m so sorry that you have to use up some of your “vacation” time, dealing with the batteries. It’s maddening when you ask a specific questions, and they answer with everything but. Be sure and wear your goggles, when you split that case. Gosh knows what’s lurking in there.

    I wonder if the weight of all that ice will pull the back of the house off? Or at least cause some damage. Maybe there will be a follow up article?

    And a Happy and Prosperous New Year, to you, too. Odd. Usually there are some fireworks, as a build up to New Year’s Eve. But, not this year. It’s never as bad as the 4th of July, but can still be quite loud. We’ll see how it goes, this evening. I’ve got the makings for my “lucky” New Year’s Day meal. I’ll make the cornbread, tonight. It symbolizes gold coins. Greens for folding money. Couldn’t find any collards, so I’ll substitute spinach. Black eyed peas and rice with a ham hock for general prosperity. It’s a Southern thing. Though I’m not from the South. Maybe it will jazz up the auction, which is, tomorrow. I won’t know how I’ve done, until I actually get the check.

    Yes, “Bullet Train” was a lot of fun. Last night, I watched the first X-Man film. I’m going to work my way through the entire series. I discovered that the order they were released in, is not the order that makes sense. The library has most of them, but I interlibrary loaned one, this morning.

    “Warm Bodies” was a great film … and book.

    Don’t know if we’ll have biscuits and gravy, this week. Saw the woman this morning, and she’s insisting I go out and get the name brand stuff. A couple of other guys and I shouted her down. Use up the two pounds that we have in the freezer. And get a week of pure gravy, money wise. She says it’s bland. Well, good gosh girl, use spices! Lew

  54. Hi Ann,

    Thanks for that as it was so long ago I can’t recall what the hand ground produce was like. Interesting, and dunno about you, but I tend to feel that the food processors (and the one I use has a 2.5hp motor) tends to blitz produce into very fine particles. Not always what you want.

    And yeah, they do take a bit of cleaning.

    Sorry to hear that, but time of course has that outcome and is something that all of us has to, I dunno whether face is the correct word to use here, as many folks dodge thinking about time. That thought is never far.



  55. Hi Lewis,

    Skystones are as rare as hens teeth, unless you happen to know where to look. And even then, they have to contain nickel for the correct lustre when put to the forge. I’m quite the fan of stainless steel as a material as it has many intriguing properties. Sadly, I’ve been contemplating such materials over the past few days due to the weird battery issues. Oh well, life was never meant to be easy.

    The Tasmanian Devil has an enormously strong bite, you might call it more of a crunch. Best keep fingers away from such strong toothiness. They’re natures little clean up crew, and are no vegetarians, that’s for sure.

    Did you write Nampa, or meant to type Tampa! 🙂 What a nightmare find, and you’d never expect such an animal in Idaho. Mind you, the critter was eventually subdued and returned. Makes you wonder how the alligator managed to escape in the first place, but noted the words ‘temporary enclosure’. Always a problem.

    The Cumbrian Roman graffiti is a good recent re-find, and glad that someone took the effort to make detailed recordings. There was no mention of the stone, but it must have been some sort of granite to have survived mostly intact after such a long time. Softer rocks would have lost the inscriptions. The Roman’s boss was probably something of a martinet. Speaking of such things, we’re slowly clearing and cleaning up around the two stone circles which are on contour. Still have no real understanding as to why they are there. My best guess is that they were used to contain a fire, maybe for producing resins, but I’m not entirely certain. We’ve been doing a bit of rock work this week.

    Thanks, and I always tend to wear safety glasses when working on such things. Most of the time when outdoors I use sunglasses due to the crazy high UV, which is probably why the old eyesight ain’t too bad. The sun here is pretty harsh even when the weather is cool.

    Last year has been something of an odd year weather wise, and we’re probably going to remove the strawberry plants (other than the pink flowering strawberry hybrid which seems to be doing well in there) from the greenhouse. Space in there is at a premium and plants have to earn their keep, so out they will go!

    Fear of falling property values may put the stymie on that follow up article…

    The Editor went to the beach with friends and reported that things there were quieter than any other time she can recall. The holiday summer rental market may have hit the poop due to the suddenly higher cost of mad cash. I did say that the authoritas had taken things too far with the ever expanding supply. My best guess is that they’ll stuff it up, after all, the pain for this economic policy is being foisted off onto the population, and not the folks who control the levers.

    Ah, I had not heard the term Collard green before, but yeah spinach will do the trick nicely. The meal sounds delicious. Fingers crossed for the auction, and time will reveal all. You may be surprised.

    You know, I’ve watched any of the X-men film franchise. After watching the first film, did it hold up well?

    What? A book? No way, makes you wonder if Hollow Kingdom will be turned into a film?

    Oooo!!!! Man, you’re dealing with a purist, a true pedant of the darkest stripe. Good luck! When working in a kitchen, a person must adopt a certain sort of flexibility of the mind, although your Club cook does not appear to have got that memo. Doing more on less is an art form. 😉 Exactly, that is what spices are for. Ever wondered why Hot English mustard is so hot? 🙂

    Almost finished putting away the firewood for the year earlier today. It was candidly a bit warm, and I did my best to dodge the sun. Hope to finish that job tomorrow morning. I really have to do something about the batteries.



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