Messed Up

Don’t you think it’s strange that the worlds major oil suppliers collectively decided to cut supply by 1.2 million barrels per day, and the news media treated the announcement as if these kind of things happen all the time? Except they don’t. Perhaps the news media didn’t quite get around to comprehending that any cut in supply means that someone is missing out, and prices are going to rise (economic scarcity). How could they not do so? The interactions of supply and demand in this instance are a bit of a bummer, and inflation is where it’s headed.

The Easter weather has been filthy. Really cold, miserable and wet. The ferns love it. Maybe the undead also wouldn’t notice. But us humans on the other hand, have been dodging the rain, getting soaked, and just generally working outside in less than fluffy optimal conditions.

On Thursday and Good Friday the clouds were so thick and low, that the solar power system recorded only a bit over an hours peak sunlight. The house batteries didn’t reach full charge on those days, and we had to curtail our energy usage. How people expect to charge energy hogs like full sized electric vehicles using this technology is something of a mystery to me. Maybe it’s just me pondering reality, but I dunno, maybe other folks just don’t think about it.

By Easter Saturday, weather conditions managed to get worse. We’d had enough, and decided to take the day off working around the property.

Sandra and I headed north that day to stock up on honey from an apiarist we trust. A few nefarious suppliers add in cheaper cane sugar syrup to bulk out their honey supplies, thus reducing costs – for them. Not this supplier though, they’re good. We discovered the substitution racket years ago when a batch of mead (honey wine) we produced, ended up being sickly sweet. Honey is 80% sugar, whilst sugar is 100% real sugar! Too much sugar in a wine, and the result is a disgustingly sweet headache inducing brew. Yep, turns out some nefarious suppliers mix sugar into their honey. Who’d have thought it? I tell you, it’s hard to detect too, unless you’re making mead, then you know. Most people wouldn’t have a clue.

The local shire council is promoting an autumn pie and tart trail. Such tasty treats are like catnip, so on our journey north through the area, we picked up a gourmet pie. The pie was Mexican inspired with refried beans, cheese, salsa and corn chips. It was pretty good, and we ate the pie in a delightful old courtyard under enormous old Chinese Elm trees. There’s worse things you can be doing, like hauling large rocks in the rain, or being hunted down by psychotic robots. That would be a bad thing.

The leaf change tourists are out and about in the area. They’re everywhere. There sure were a lot of people around that day. A lot of them were driving large vehicles too. Whilst my mouth savoured the tasty pie, the brain cogitated upon the economics of leaf change tourism. Probably brings a lot of mad cash into the area, but how do the local businesses manage their staff levels, stock and systems so as to cope with the occasional massed hordes of tourists? Looks stressful and unpredictable to me. And if there is so much economic distress out there in the community, how do all these people afford to travel up into the bush to see the exotic deciduous trees losing their leaves? Are they bored or something?

After the delightful pies, we continued our journey north. To avoid the crowded freeway, we took the back roads which are more pleasant and traverse rural landscapes. It was quiet and pleasant, and there are always interesting things to see. The journey incidentally, might sound like a long way, but in reality the honey supplier is about an hours drive north of here. It’s nice to take the time to look around and see the land. On the freeway, all you see is the road and other cars.

We’re slow travellers, we look around. Many of the inland towns around here have botanical gardens dating back to the gold rush era. A lot can happen in a 170 years, and the gardens usually have a lovely established look to them. That rainy day we stopped to have a walk around two botanical gardens. There’s fortunately few, if any tourists in the botanical gardens despite the exotic deciduous trees. The garden closest to here is more of what I’d imagine an English park would look like. A little lake with a fountain, oaks, elms, willows, poplars, ducks and geese. It’s really quite an enchanting place to be, even on a wet and cold day. During the hot summer months, the shade from the established tree canopy is soothing.

The second, more distant botanical garden we visited also has a little lake as well as it’s fair share of oaks too (including a couple of old cork oaks). But it’s different. The grass is manicured and the flower beds are superb, but it’s less Pre-Raphaelite whimsy, and a bit more of an arboretum. However, both are enjoyable places to spend time in.

What was messed up though, was that we spotted two blokes who’d looked like they’d set up camp in the more distant botanical garden, and were possibly living rough. You hear historical stories of people living rough in rural areas like the swagman of old, but I’d never expected to see homelessness in an inland rural town. I’ve not seen it before and it certainly means something. Living out of the big city is meant to be cheaper, but somehow it isn’t. Houses are in short supply. A large house builder went into liquidation last week and prices are rising due to inflation. More people are being brought into the country each year, which lowers wages and increases pressure on housing supply. And there’s two dudes living rough in a country botanical garden. I dunno, given how things are working out, maybe a psychotic robot or the undead would do a better job managing the competing societal pressures? Whatever the case may be, it sure is messed up though.

With persistent rain in the forecast for Easter, a delivery of crushed rock with lime was organised the previous week. The material makes for a good all weather surface. Over the past few days, we’ve spread the material over the clay surface of some of the recent projects. The surface of the new flat site in front of the large shed has now been entirely covered in a layer of the crushed rock.

The new flat site in front of the large shed is now covered in a layer of crushed rock

The flat site is quite expansive, and will be very useful. During the week, the ramp leading down onto the flat site was excavated and shaped. Compared to the previous arrangement, it’s really smooth.

Dame Plum admires the firm surface and nice ramp of this newly excavated flat site

Work also continued on the new low gradient path leading down into the shady orchard. More large rocks were hauled into the area, and it’s now clear where the new triangular shaped succulent garden bed will be.

The new low gradient path leading down into the shady orchard is developing nicely

Most of the rain which has fallen over Easter could be described as persistent drizzle. However, occasionally the rain has been torrential and that proved to be a good test of the new drainage basin which can be seen in the above photo. The basin collects all of the rainfall which falls onto the driveway and in front of the house. During a big storm, that’s a lot of water. And the system just has to work under all conditions including the very worst.

Water collects in the lowest point of the drainage basin and keeps the tree fern’s root system moist

The soil levels in the drainage basin are spot on. Water collects at the lowest point of the basin where there is a large tree fern planted. Those plants happily grow in seasonal creeks where their root systems work to hold the soil together against the water pressure. The flow of water into the basin mimics a natural process. Excess water exits the basin via the large 300mm / 1 foot diameter PVC pipe which runs under the path. As can be seen in the above photo, the system just works with no further input on my part. And over the years I expect the system to become more resilient as the plants root systems establish themselves.

The large old tree fern which was planted out last week, is clearly enjoying the conditions. One frond is in the process of unfurling, whilst two others have begun the process.

One frond is unfurling, whilst two others begin the process

With persistent Easter rain in the forecast, we decided earlier in the week to move some Mediterranean fruit trees to locations which are sunnier than where the trees were originally planted. Three olives, a Loquat and a Fig were moved to the sunniest locations on the farm. Two of the olive trees were massive, at well over ten foot. Undaunted by the size, we moved them.

This Olive tree was relocated to a sunnier spot last week

The growing season is rapidly nearing an end, so we decided to pull up all of the pumpkin plants and harvest all of the fruit. The growing season has been short, cold and wet, but we have a good supply of pumpkins to get us through the winter months. The sapling fence enclosure now only has a few struggling tomato plants, and I doubt they’ll survive the cold conditions for much longer.

All of the pumpkins were removed from the sapling fenced enclosure

With the recent turn to colder and wetter conditions, I was rather surprised that the grape harvest became tastier. This is the first year that the ten vines have produced a decent crop.

The grape harvest is looking good

We planted out ten different grape vines in the enclosure, and they are all useful for either wine making or table grapes. And they’re far better tasting than I’d ever imagined.

Despite the unfavourable growing season, there are plenty of grapes on the vine

Near to the head of the drainage basin grows a decade old Meyer Lemon tree. A few years ago I was concerned that the tree had succumbed to a fungus. With that in mind, I cleared all of the competing growth away from the citrus trees trunk, coated the surrounding soil with agricultural lime, then took off all but the healthiest branches – which only left one or two branches on the tree. The tree looked very sad indeed, and the prognosis for a full recovery was not good. But the tree has since bounced back, and is now laden with lemons. The lemons are beginning to ripen. We harvest the fruit and freeze the juice which is useful for preserving and cooking.

The Meyer Lemon tree is full of ripening fruit

Onto the flowers:

Penstemon flowers provide excellent feed for the the local honey-eater birds
The Irish Strawberry Tree is now in flower
The Roses have enjoyed the persistent rain
This Rose produces enormous quantities of Rose Hips
This Eucalyptus Ficifolia produces stunning flowers

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 196.4mm (7.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 157.6mm (6.2 inches)

33 thoughts on “Messed Up”

  1. Yo, Chris – Well, weather. Our atmospheric river is rolling in. When I took H for her walk, this afternoon, we hit a period when it was just spitting down, and not a deluge. Lucky us! We still got wet enough that I had to hang up my coat to dry, and towel her down.

    With the reversed seasons, to here, I forget you’re getting into your time of year, where you must keep a sharp eye on the house batteries, and work you’re tasks around what’s in the battery bank.

    Oh, I’m sure most of the local businesses are up to the task of staff, stock and systems. It’s probably like a mini Christmas season. I’m sure the leaf peppers look upon it as “free” entertainment. Without a thought to the gas it takes to get them there.

    I’m always amazed by your surfeit of botanical gardens. We don’t seem to have that tradition, here. At least, not on this coast, or out here in the hinterlands.

    While I was sitting down at the Club this morning, having a cuppa, a heavily pregnant homeless woman, dipped into our food pantry. Nothing over the top, and she even asked permission. On my way home, I pass under an overpass. Tucked back in a section of hacked back blackberries, was a small tent. Passing through town, one block off the main street, was a homeless person, tucked up in a sleeping bag, in a doorway. There but for the grace of … whatever. Happy Easter. About half of the usual suspects were in attendance, this morning. The rest, off doing family stuff, on this day.

    In 25 words or less, what are the plans for the flat area in front of the mead hall? A dance floor, with lots of fairy lights strung around?
    Ah, I can now see how the succulent garden fits into the grand scheme of things. Unlike me, the tree fern doesn’t seem to mind wet feet.

    Good going with salvaging the Meyer Lemon. Which reminded me of today’s ear worm. From those old folkie favorites, “Peter, Paul and Mary.” Who I have heard referred to as, “…two rabbis and a hooker.” 🙂 I’m sure the ads change, but the ad just before the song was “You too can have solar in Washington state.” Luckily, it was one of those ads that you only have to listen to for five seconds, and can then click past …

    So, the grapes. They really look very good. Going to give a whirl, drying any? Some varieties are probably tastier, than others.

    The roses are very lovely. Sometimes, if the blossoms here, get too much rain, they get kind of droopy and ratty looking. Lew

  2. Signs abound.
    More tricky that reading sheep entrails or tea leaves, but many claim to know what the signs foretell. I just see more and more crazy stuff happening and scratch my head.

    Production cuts- maybe they anticipate a global recession? Maybe they precipitate one, thus fulfilling the prophesy?

    Lots of players, all out for number one, with cards held close. And then there are the unanticipated results of those well laid plans. Us regular folk will just try to dodge the bouncing rubble, as JMG is wont to say.
    So much one could follow in the news, till fatigue sets in.

    Many of my hazelnut plantings (around 2500 plants all told) are in nice regimented rows, as they had been planted by machine, and with the intent that they might, at some point, be harvestable by machine. (Machines must have straight rows, no randomness allowed!)

    With that in mind, other woody plants in the rows don’t belong, and so have to be sent packing. I did that today, on a nice warm spring day. These plants may never get machine harvested, but then, I don’t want 10 or 20 meter tall trees sneaking in line and stealing sun and water from the gang. I’ve left quite a lot of woodland elsewhere for them to do as they wish.

    Very busy time of year ramping up, with preps for the growing season, and this is when I usually work on firewood, so it will be nice and dry for the winter ahead (not 2023-24, but 2024-25). Sadly, there are dying ash trees to drop, as the Emerald Ash Borer (imported of course) has gotten to the last of them on my land.

    I have some landscaping to do also, almost on the scale you tackle weekly. Retaining walls, but I’m going to stick with blocks and tires, since I don’t have the abundance of rocks that some do……..

  3. Hi Steve,

    Man, I can’t argue with you there. So true, signs abound and they’re sure pointing towards the land of crazy outcomes. Like you, I’m not such a fan of venturing into that land, but no doubts we’ll get dragged there whether we like it or no. Perplexed is the word that you heard with those thought scratching exercises, and at this stage I’m getting little if any clarity when it comes to thoughts of the future.

    Well that’s the thing isn’t it? It’s possible that down here the decision was made in the early 1990’s to walk away from manufacturing simply because the energy wouldn’t be there to keep it powering along – and that was understood but never communicated. From what I’m reading the local Bass Strait oil fields are in terminal decline and the rig count is falling, and has been for quite a while. Who knows why things are happening nowadays, but happening they are.

    A person could lose themselves in the detail if they expend too much energy on the news. For years now I’ve run my eye over the goings on and only read articles which appeared to be of interest. A lot of articles are paid for, so a touch of scepticism is required. Anyway, there are better things to spend one’s energy upon than that lot.

    That’s a lot of hazelnut shrubs. 🙂 I hear you about the neat regimented rows, and no doubt you noticed the number of fruit trees we’ve moved over the past few years. As they’ve grown, I’ve learned about correct spacing – and corrected the issues. But yes, a 10m tall hazelnut shrub, or any fruit tree for that matter, will be very difficult to harvest. Let alone a 20m tall edible tree of any kind.

    Years ago I went to a course run by an old timer orchardist. His dad had run the orchard before him. He was an old bloke and had passed on the orchard to his daughter, but he said to me that when he was a kid, his father sent him climbing into the apple and pear trees so as to do the harvest. Fruit trees were actually bigger in the past. Nowadays he told me that the insurance folks would crack the sads if anyone climbed a ladder to do the harvest. Things can change on that front.

    Yeah, I get what you mean. There’s plenty of woodland as well on the property here for the forest critters to hang out in. It is not lost on me that they come here for a feed. That competition with other plants is a very real issue.

    Ook, sorry to hear about the ash trees, and that’s always hard. I doubt the area will stay unattended by new more resilient trees. I quite like Ash trees and have both Claret and Golden Ash trees growing here. Super hardy. Two years ahead is what we do with firewood as well. I tell you truly, that issue is one thing that a lot of city folks just don’t get.

    Nothing wrong with blocks and tires. 🙂 Mate, when the rocks here are big, they’re almost too heavy to handle. And sadly, Peak Rocks is real – despite it not looking that way recently. We’ve demolished some existing infrastructure to get all those rocks used over the past two weeks. Every rock here is useful.



  4. Hi, Chris!

    That may be tricksy, that oil production cut? Hello, 1973? I had just gotten my license then, so wasn’t getting to do a lot of driving with the gas shortages, but my parents had a faithful servant in me as I would wait endlessly (no smartphones!) in the gas station lines to buy gas just so that I might use the car for a bit after that.

    Let’s see: You, relying on solar-only provided power, had very little to use on all these rainy days.

    Let’s see: You had to decide – IF you had an EV – whether to charge it (which would not be fully possible under those circumstances), thus being able to go leaf peeping – oops, you don’t have to do that, you live in leaf peeping Nirvana – OR being able to have lights, or maybe use an electric power tool for work. Hmmm . . .

    My daughter-in-law’s mother is coming to visit from New York this week. I have never met her in person, though she sounds like a lovely person from her emails and notes. She loves fruit and vegetable gardening! So I may dip in and out here – or not.


  5. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 Yes, The Pacific North West, where rainfall is real rainfall! I re-read the good Professors blog to see whether there has been an update, and your report beat him because there was no update – just the original forecast from a couple of days ago. Glad to hear that both you and H didn’t end up too wet during the walk.

    It was filthy wet and cold here again today. What’s going on? Anyway, I’ve had a towel next to the back door for days now so as to be able to dry off the dogs before they re-enter the house. Ollie’s natural inclination is to dodge the rain and wait it out, but the two Kelpie’s are unstoppable forces of nature – they don’t wait for minor annoyances such as rain. Of course, they expect to be towelled down afterwards.

    Another month and half and we’ll be on the solar power ‘highway to the danger zone’! Having the additional battery resources is proving to be a good thing, but we still have to monitor the suns energy and adapt our activities. I’m not entirely certain that many folks who clamber for this technology to be rolled out for everyone, really comprehend that limitation. What do you mean I can run the electric fan heater, its only drawing 2kW. Just make it work! What’s wrong with you? Demands and expectations are one thing, reality is something else different.

    Yeah, maybe. Went to the pub this evening for dinner and a pint, and they said they were busy, but not smashed busy. It is possible that the declining state of the underlying economics is beginning to bite. Dunno.

    An early explorer was also a renowned botanist and he had a big hand in getting towns all over state to begin planting botanical gardens. Almost every town of any meaningful size has one. In the 1950’s and 1960’s the local councils often converted them into caravan parks (trailer parks) for tourists, but many of those have been somewhat restored over the past few decades. The bloke was: Baron Sir Ferdinand Jacob Heinrich von Mueller. A great name huh? He was certainly very busy up in the more fashionable end of this mountain range with the hill station gardens. It is possible that the early Arts and Crafts movement may have err, stifled, the good Baron’s otherwise scientific arrangement of plants.

    Happy Easter indeed, and you’re right, there but for the grace of god go I. True words. It was a bit of a shock for me to see that, in the city yeah, but not there. History suggests that things can get worse, and it wasn’t that long ago.

    Did the Club put on any Easter Eggs?

    A slightly longer mead hall. 😉

    There’s also the new succulent garden bed on the downhill side of the large rock wall. It should look pretty good. The plan is to begin work on the uphill side of the rock wall tomorrow, but who knows what the weather will bring. The forecasters keep saying chance of El Nino, but it’s wet and cold out there, and that may be true for the Pacific Ocean, but I’m not entirely certain the the Indian Ocean and Southern Oceans have gotten that message because they’re still quite warm. All three oceans impact on the weather here.

    It ain’t just you, I’m not keen on wet feet either – in cold weather at least.

    Ooo, who knew that the band had a direct link to National Lampoon? That’s folk music for ya! I was more of a fan of Simon and Garfunkle when it comes to folk music. Those guys were poets. Mate, I’m still chuckling that they could seriously have an ‘old friends tour’ or something along those lines. Pretty funny, but truly genius musicians and songwriters.

    That’s the plan. We might chuck some grapes in the dehydrator, but I saw some suggestion saying they only kept for two months, and then decided to look further into the matter – and ran out of time.

    The Roses seem to be standing up to the rain, but they are nearing the end of the growing season.

    Speaking of not having enough time, the weather was yet again filthy wet and cold so we decided to just kick around the house doing our own thing. It was nice to have some free time, and I chucked on some items to sell on eBoring. And also over the past week my brain has been having to absorb details on how antennas work. As if I didn’t have enough technical data in there already. It won’t come to a good end you know! 🙂 Anyway, the FM antenna I built a few years ago, which is tuned exactly to the frequency of the national youth broadcaster (I’m in a dodgy signal area) wasn’t working as well as it should have done. Turns out during construction I’d managed to short out part of the antenna. Doh! A couple of hours work plus some modifications and testing, and the tunes are now coming in loud and clear. All was good with the world again. I did that work whilst dodging rain storms up the ladder. It’s nice to have some free time to get pesky problems like that fixed up.

    I recall you mentioning that book about Mexican food. And the Big J on a tortilla is kind of hard to explain. 😉 You might have inspired me many years ago to write the ‘Froth Dog’ essay. Truly, the froth from my beer left a symbolised dog on the glass. What was the Universe trying to tell me? So many questions, so few answers…

    What I’m guessing may have happened was that the business name could have been purchased down here before the franchise made it to our shores. Your Burger King is known down here as I believe Hungry Jack’s. Surely there is a story there.

    Hehe! Cost accountants and actuaries! That was a proper tea spitter of a comment. Thanks. But you might be right there too. Mate, there was a time there recently when not using a screen was indeed outlaw behaviour. Hmm.

    Interesting. Out of curiosity about the book “The Great Displacement”, is author speculating as to the future of the places? I sometimes wonder whether such cheap places will produce new forms of culture and movements? The reach of monotony is strong, so where it is weak, who knows what might happen? Certainly, there is a need to do like the Japanese and create cheaper and more readily replaced houses with such areas – and I say that as someone who lives in a fire zone and had to build a sort of above ground bunker.

    That forecast is not encouraging news for the planting of tender annuals.

    You’re a brave man watching that film. I saw the trailer for it, and despite the excellent cast, the content seemed a bit self reverential.

    Hehe! Yes, that lot would cleanse the palate. I’ve enjoyed the episodes that I’ve seen, and the film was just funny and bonkers. The Team America song is just so very wrong.



  6. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, that’s what I’m thinkin’ too – tricksy folks, doin’ tricksy things, which will affect us in tricksy ways. The chickens were going to come home to roost one day. How good are old aphorisms like that one?

    Ha! Your parents had you figured out and that might also be described as a win-win? It’s pretty clever really. In those days I still wore nappies, but a mate of mine is a bit older than me and he tells that we dodged those gas lines due to the Bass Strait oil fields which were around then coming on line – those are the same ones in terminal decline nowadays. Fifty years ain’t a bad run, is it? Gas giant ExxonMobil warns of rapidly reducing Bass Strait supplies.

    What’s messed up is thinking that things will go on forever and be the same as before, just biggerer. If people want to think that, can’t seem to stop them from doing so. And largely it is working that way, for now.

    There was a bit over an hours peak sunlight both days, and one day we had the electric oven going for about five hours. Two runs of roast vegetables and a loaf of bread. Yum! It’s been good to have the couple of extra batteries attached to that system. Not to self: More batteries equal good, ugg!

    Ha! Very funny. There is no chance of fully charging an electric vehicle with the system we have, unless of course it is a small electric vehicle like an electric power wheelbarrow – they do have such things and wouldn’t they be handy?

    Lately, I’ve been wondering if the dire economic reality has slowed down the tide of leaf change tourists – you can only hope so.

    Hope the visit goes well. And always nice to spend time with a fellow gardener.



  7. Yo, Chris – I looked at the article on the decline of the Bass Straights oil fields. Alaska North Slope, North Sea … they’re all going down. And the folks in the Land of Sand play rather close to the chest, about how much reserve they still have left.

    So, you’re on the solar highway to hell? 🙂 Even back in the day, when I was reading about passive solar … open the curtains in the morning and shut them at sundown … I often wondered, “Who’s home to do that?” The phrase, “set and forget” came to mind. So who was responsible for that saying? Ah! Ron Popeil, father of the infocomercial. The man responsible for turning late night TV, into a wasteland. Which was important to a night owl like me. Back in the day when I thought TV was important.

    My. A Baron and a Sir. Some people are just overachievers. Interesting fellow. Do you still have a state botanist? You’ve posted pictures of the wonderful Victorian greenhouses.

    No Easter Eggs, at the Club. H did get to clean out a couple of yogurt containers.

    Business must be good, if you’re contemplating expanding the mead hall. Beware of “premature scaling.” 🙂

    You know, sooner or later, you’ll have to give up National Youth Radio. There are inspectors for that. They’ll show up, sooner or later. And pull the plug.

    I had all the Simon and Garfunkel records, and pretty much wore them out. Knew all the lyrics, too. Just the thing for an angsty teen.

    We occasionally get small boxes of raisins, in our food boxes. I took some down to the Club, and there was a report that a box had gone off. Isolated incident, luckily. I see some small bugs have invaded my rolled oats. 🙁 The bag is almost empty, so, I’ll take the rest of it, put it in gallon freezer bags, and chuck them in the cold. I might have to look into food grade plastic buckets. I could get desiccating packets, to tape to the underside of the lid. Or, could go fast and cheap. A bit of steel wool, a few drops of water. As it rusts, it desiccates. According to reports. I haven’t tried it. See: steel wool as oxygen absorber. Ah! No water, just table salt.

    Or, a toasted cheese sandwich. Toasted Jesuits. Gotta read the omens.

    The places the author of “The Great Displacement” have no future. And some are gone. For good. He talks about the dance between “…ever increasing … weather disasters, government policy, and the private housing market.” Say you own a house, that’s mortgage free, in a slightly run down neighborhood. There’s history and roots. So, instead of rebuilding (sometimes for the 4th or 5th time), the government offers you a buy out. Sometimes forces you into a buy out. But due to the fairly low value of what you lost, the money isn’t enough to outright buy, another house. You’re back to having a mortgage, again. And even in a “safe” area, your property taxes, utilities and insurance, will probably be higher. Foreclosure often happens, sooner or later. But it’s difficult to get hard figures. Not only how many people have been displaced, so far, but there’s also the folks who up sticks and leave before a disaster.

    Being a Hardcore Whovian, last night I watched “The Husbands of River Song.” The last Doctor Who Christmas special. Great fun. Apparently, the good doctor isn’t a fan of the season. He posted a sign, on the outside of the Tardis. “Carolers Will Be Criticized.” 🙂 I also watched a couple of episodes of “South Park.” One I call, the real estate episode. City folk overrun South Park, looking for a bucolic paradise and drive real estate prices into the stratosphere. More great fun.

    The last batch of rice I did, I took a box of wild rice, and pitched the mystery package. Mixed it, my regular brown rice, and some of that Jasmine rice. Pretty tasty. Fried up some eggs and chopped them up, diced up two stocks of that celery we got, threw in some dried tomatoes and garlic. Brussels sprouts on the side. Tasty. Lew

  8. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it’s not lost on me that those three oil fields were long known about, but only exploited once all other cheaper and easier to get at options were exhausted. That’s what decline looks like, and they all gave a wonderful boost and got us all out of the 1970’s economic rut what with the hippies and punks, no getting around that. But depletion unlike us humans, doesn’t sleep, so back we are to where it all once belonged – is that even a proper word ‘belonged’ it doesn’t sound right to my reading ear? But presumably it is the past tense of the word ‘belong’? And weren’t the land of sand folks trying to convert their reserves to mad cash only recently? Even those dudes are subject to depletion. It’s seriously messy, and we’ll run short, long before we run out. Oh what tragedy is the road of a thousand haircuts.

    I read deeply about this Peak Oil subject in 2004 when I first learned of it, and nothing I’ve seen since then has changed my mind. It’s been an interesting eighteen years though.

    Hehe! AC/DC are always worth quoting. 🙂 The line in the song which suggests that ‘all my friends will be there too’, kind of pulls at the heart strings, don’t you reckon?

    And exactly, we can modify our energy expectations based on what is going on around us in the natural world where energy is supplied intermittently. I’m not entirely certain that the rest of society has gotten that memo. It’s a hard sell, whilst expectations are inflexible. I wish it were not so, because we could all achieve some amazing things, but that’s probably the inner-hippy in me talking rubbish.

    Ron Popeil, the dude was big time – although I’d never previously heard of him – due to the fact that Weird Al acknowledged him by penning a tribute. Does it get better than that? And apparently, the dude owned it. That’s cool. It ain’t just you that has issues with early mornings… 🙂 The subject of advertising / telemarketing could make an interesting book, although there was a film which the actor Jennifer Lawrence which was in on a similar story of such advertising. I recall the days when Star Trek filled in the 11pm slot on a Tuesday night. A mate lived across the road and him and all his house mates piled into the house to watch the show. They didn’t have a television. Good fun for us, but probably not for the neighbours due to all the noise late at night.

    Yup, the good baron was possibly on Earth to make the rest of us look bad, however he did achieve some remarkable things whilst alive. The tide of public opinion eventually turned against his rigorous scientific approach. No need for botanical gardens not to look attractive, but here some pedants may disagree, and the good baron was quite miffed about the shift. I couldn’t quite work out what is going on now with that role, but it is possible that the position no longer exists, or has been reduced in title to the – no less august title of – director of the botanical gardens? Not sure really.

    Go H! The dogs here also quite enjoy yoghurt.

    Business be crackin’ my friend! 🙂 The size of the existing mead hall is not adequate, sorry to say. All my fault really. We try to develop the infrastructure as time, energy and mad cash permits. To do it all in one foul swoop would be a whole bunch of stress.

    Speaking of which, we took the day off paid work. The sun was shining, and the weather was sweet. A pleasant change from the recent wintry conditions, but don’t worry it will rain again tomorrow. Hmm. Anyway, the Editor had identified two rocks just sticking up out of the paddock. Those two things were like the iceberg which got the Titanic. A tiny bit above ground, and a whole lot underneath the soil. One we bopped in half, and even then the rocks were big. The other had to be broken into four large chunks. All of the rocks were then relocated and placed on the uphill side of the new low gradient path. It was a pleasure to have stopped working today late in the afternoon. 🙂

    However, it was kind of good to have commenced work on the uphill side of the rock wall for the new path because neither of us had any clear idea as to how it would look. Now we know.

    Went and got a late lunch, and then did grocery shopping and picked up chicken and dog food. There were a few holes in the grocery shelves and a 3 litre can of local olive oil was $57. Yikes! The stock feed place looked really well stocked up, even with dog food.

    Pah! Let the old duffers inspect and shake their heads in consternation at my continued enjoyment of the national youth broadcaster! They can have their opinions, my mind has yet to close on that front. 😉

    Those two dudes could really produce an excellent song. The Boxer is one of my faves.

    That used to happen with the previous suppliers of mixed grain for bread making. Weevils are very unappealing, but probably edible, although I’d prefer if the little critters were elsewhere. The grain bag looked as if a bunch of spiders had been partying hard inside. Not something you want to discover, like those raisins.

    Food grade plastic buckets would be a good idea, although you never know, like my experience, the eggs could have been in the mixture when you got the stuff. Keeping things cool is a handy preventative, but not always easy to achieve. I’ve mentioned to you before, but my grandmothers house (not the crazy one, the nicer one on my dad’s side) used to have a rear room which was very dark and cool and had steel sheet lined timber storage boxes for root vegetables etc. Most people wouldn’t know the first thing about such storage options, but it wasn’t that long ago they were considered an essential part of a house. I bought a book on root cellaring, but I’m yet to get around to reading it. Probably something very useful, and low tech.

    Yes, of course. Omens. Dunno whether you can recall the early 1980’s horror films: Damien Omen? I felt that the characters concerns were rather petty given the heritage.

    Oh, that’s not good. Man, that’s an horrific story about buy-outs. I’ve heard of them down here too, especially in flood prone areas. Hmm. Slow pace of buyback scheme pushes flood-affected residents to sell homes on open market. I thought that it was interesting the bloke who purchased the home with the idea of getting it on the cheap and fixing it up now and in the future. He sounds alright to me. It is possible that insurance will be withdrawn from high risk areas, and I’m figuring that will be how things roll. Of course, there is a plan B, as you’d expect. 😉

    Hmm, I note that our state gobarmunt has gone to the federal goobermont cap in hand for a bail-out. Hey big spender!

    Hehe! That’s funny, yes the carolers will not be sent away, they’ll be critiqued, by no less than a Time Lord! Could be an issue, and standards may be high? Hope none of them were harmed in the episode? Ah yes, the fool can say what the nobleman cannot say.

    Your food sounds good. We’ve begun adding in a chunk of pearl barley to such meals, and the results are good, although pearl barley needs to be cooked for longer than rice.

    With Easter, we’re having a short paid work week. Always nice, and the weather looks good for a couple of days. I must confess to being rather late this year in planting out the winter green and red mustard plants. Hope they germinate in the time remaining to do so, which candidly isn’t all that much. Also we’re thinking of methods of turning the chili plants upside down and hang them so as to dry the fruit. Might have an idea about how to do this.



  9. Yo, Chris – Well, from what I understand, in The Land of Sand, they sift a lot of oil money down to the minions … to keep them from getting restive. “A house built on sand…” something, something.

    Last I checked, I had no heart. Just me and the Tin Man 🙂

    We’ll all get together, and sing a few choruses of “We Are the World.” Or, maybe “Kumbaya”?

    You know you’ve “made” it, when you draw Weird Al’s attention.

    Be careful where you dig. See: Stephen King’s “The Tommyknockers.” Way to long ago, to remember if the book was good. Or, the movie or mini-series that was made from it.

    Gee. Favorite Simon and Garfunkel song? Well, I could pick one, and then I’d be, “But then there’s…” But “The Boxer” is in the top 10.

    “Belonged” sounds o.k., to me. “Belonging” would sound strange.

    I think the grain bugs didn’t bother me, as I only saw one. And, it was very, very tiny. If it were a big bug, I’d be more bothered. Besides, 14 minutes in the microwave, and it’s just more protein.

    At one time or another, I probably saw all the “Damian” movies. All I remember is that as the series went on, the quality went down.

    The article about the dragging of feet over the buy-back scheme was interesting. People are living in tents, and the government can’t get it’s poop together. Ran across something in “The Great Displacement” that jumped out at me. “…and one’s insurance policy set a ceiling on the value of one’s future home.” If you rebuilt or moved elsewhere. I got to thinking, that with all the terrible tornados, in the Mid-West, thousands more climate refugees will be on the move. I suppose many will come up here. Just in time for The Big One …

    Children! I remember when the world wasn’t 24/7! 🙂 Much to my surprise, the veg store wasn’t open, on Sunday. When I saw Frank, yesterday, I told him I didn’t realize he was a religious fanatic. 🙂 One can get away with saying so much when one is old. LOL. Frank said it wasn’t him. He wanted to stay open. It was the owner. News to me. I thought Frank was the owner. He said he offered to buy it, but was turned down.

    It was a steady drizzle, yesterday. And, pretty much the same, today. The forecast for tomorrow morning is “Chance of rain/snow, no accumulation.” I see the Nevado del Ruiz volcano, in Columbia, is making noises. Might effect the weather, if it blows.

    We went down to the Club, for biscuits and gravy, this morning. Whew! They were on offer. I’m wondering if I can teach H to howl on cue, to express her displeasure, when they are not on offer? Lew

  10. Chris,

    Nice drainage arrangement in the new Fern Basin. The outflow pipe looks big enough to handle most things, even with the wet that you get.

    Lew’s atmospheric river was supposed to give us up to 5cm of rain Sunday and Monday. Fizzle. More like an atmospheric water pistol. Barely 6mm, although my neighborhood seemed to have gotten somewhat more than that. Now it is just windy with gusts up to 80 Km/hour. And we had a brief whiteout due to the bwrw cesair, aka hail. (That’s pronounced roughly boo roo kess air. Sort of.) Welsh word for hail. It makes more sense than the word hail does, I think.

    The hawks. I was raking leaves the other day and heard a hawk cry. Looked up and had to take a break from working. There was an adult hawk and 2 juvenile hawks soaring in the area. Catching wind currents, etc. They were fun to watch. Then this morning, the local murder of crows got rather loud until a hawk skrawked. Hawk proceeded to play in the wind, looked like it was having a good time. Then another adult hawk joined, flying and soaring and skrawking. All of the other birds in the area got very quiet. Good entertainment when drinking the morning’s first cup of coffee.

    Yeah, doing better. Not 100% yet, but getting there, and am able to do most of my normal activities. The Princess is on an extended trip out of town. Her brother is NOT doing well. In other words, we have recovered from that thing, and now everything is back to its normal level of chaos.

    Avalanche and I visited Killian and his human for Easter. Cloudy when we walked there. Rained while we were eating. Damp but not raining when we walked home. Worked out well.

    The mead hall looks rather tiny on that large, flattened area with the wonderfully placed lime and gravel. Does that suggest an extension to the mead hall will be added? Or maybe a small tower to cower in when the leafy tourists are inundating the region? Where, oh where is a hero like Beowulf when you need him?

    Good job with the grapes. Since I grew up with a grape arbor here, I knew you should be able to grow grapes successfully. Just takes some time for the grapes to figure it out, doesn’t it?

    Read an article this morning on electric vehicles. It pretty much summed up the difficulties we have discussed here at times. Getting interesting with the depleting oil fields and another round of rapidly increasing petrol prices.

    Then there’s Malwart. They announced that within 3 years they plan to have 65% or more of their cash registers automated, as in “self checkout”. Not that there were ever many checkout lanes ever open in the stores! Had to visit the local Malwart this morning. The checkout area had been remodeled since the last time I was there. That store had already removed 20% of its human-manned checkouts lanes. 75% of the remainder were removed in the latest remodel. One lane had a human cashier.

    Of course this means that another source of jobs is disappearing, despite Malwart saying that there will be no layoffs as a result of automation. Color me skeptical. Even though these aren’t high paying jobs, it will just add to the homeless numbers. Spokane has a LOT of homeless. This is just gonna get worse. Add the climate change issues and energy issues and UGG is the word.


  11. Hi DJ,

    Thank you for your observations upon the drainage basin arrangements. I appreciate and respect your perspective. As much as possible, considering and responding to the worst case scenario is something which is on my mind. Many years ago I was unable to imagine such a drainage system and have only learned this stuff the hard way.

    That’s awful wind, and I’m assuming the occasional gusts are much stronger than that? Make sure that Avalanche does not get blown up and away into the trees. The crows may feast upon the hapless husky stuck in such a circumstance! Although I’d expect Avalanche would give the crows a good ‘what for’ prior to the final snap of the jaw. Hail doesn’t have to make much sense! Sometimes at lower altitudes than here, hail destroys cars. Huge things, the size of a golf ball.

    Birds muck around a lot and are probably entertaining themselves greatly, but they may also be conducting subtle experiments upon us mere humans. 😉 The old timers have a saying about: “stop acting like a flamin’ galah” A Galah being a brightly coloured mostly pink bird with a white stripe on the head and grey wings. As you’d imagine, they stand out – and fool around a lot. A breeding pair have set up house here.

    Good to hear about that and at least the chaos subsided for a while whilst you were both under the weather. Dare I suggest a ‘Get Smart’ pun, but where you both then in the realms of ‘Control’?

    It’s not funny about the usual level of chaos, as I had my own little run in with that realm today. So, being the crafty and resourceful person that I am, I contacted the local manufacturer for the power system Inverter box. That’s the machine which takes the DC battery power and converts it to AC mains electricity. Locally made, well, up north in the country anyway. I had the bright idea to see if they had a spare parts servicing kit for the machine, you know, just in case. Yeah, well things turned dark during the phone call. They’re shutting down the business in a bit over two years time and releasing the IP (intellectual property) for the machines for free. Holy freakin’ carp! Cue minor melt down. So here is the conundrum: Do I purchase a spare unit whilst I’m able to do so, or do I just get a spare device from an overseas manufacturer? I have been looking into the alternatives and am not excited, they may be fancier, but robustness is important to me. What the heck do I do? The Editor is unimpressed at this state of affairs… Something, something about bonkers expensive hobby.

    Back to regular programming…

    It’s all fluffy good here, nothing to worry about. 🙂 Maybe…

    The weather gods favoured your walk with a respite from the worst excesses of rain. Well done, also proving that you’ve done good there of late. At least that’s what I heard! Subject to change at short notice and without warning. 🙂 Have I mentioned that the weather forecasters keep saying that there is a risk of El Nino returning here, and we’re in for a dry and warm autumn? Truly, reality has been very far from that long term forecast. Hmm. Still, the persistent rain is good and the ferns love it. 16mm fell this morning. Hmm. It’s very wet outside.

    Yes, mead business be crackin’ and an extension of the mead hall is on the cards. Nothing too much, 5.4m extra. Bizarrely for a supposedly metric embracing country, we still do things in feet, not that most folks would notice. Post spacings are at 1.8m which you may be aware is 6 foot.

    Be careful what you wish for, Beowulf was, and will be again. You just wait and see my friend, that’s how things roll. 😉

    I dunno man, I can tell people that sometimes over the winter months you can enjoy only 15 minutes of peak sunshine some days, and then they’ll look all blankly at me and say: But I got this here model which says otherwise. Sure, whatever. I have a very good grasp on electricity, and have also noticed that it is rarely the engineers tasked to get ‘er done which are spruiking this technology. It is good, but it ain’t good enough.

    Yeah, that’s what concentration of economic power looks like. Henry Ford may have been a very difficult person, but he did grasp the fact that his workers needed to be able to afford the product he was producing.

    Ugg, and I’m worried about inverters. Seriously.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Did they really say: “A house built on sand”? Oh my, that one goes all the way back, way back in time. Definitely a saying which deserves repeating, not that many care for such wisdom in these enlightened days. Interestingly, I’ve never really had to deal with a garden or house sited upon sandy soil. I could see that such things would be difficult, although the near perfect drainage would have some advantages as well, like reduced risk of fungal diseases. Ah, thanks for the link about the sand farmers and they were an interesting bunch and I really enjoyed the artists reproduction of the area. The permaculture folks have been doing similar work in Jordan I believe at a project called ‘greening the desert’. It’s ambitious, but the heat from the sun would provide quite an advantage if the soil and moisture were properly managed. It’s not lost on me that a lot more food production in this state occurs in far warmer climes than here. Mostly up north near to the state border. Hmm. It’s all ambitious.

    I haven’t seen that documentary / biopic on Weird Al, but have heard about it.

    Hehe! Well, I do hope that like the Tin Man that you can eventually find heart, although candidly is the thing really necessary? The tin man seemed to be doing OK without it, despite his pressing anxiety.

    You’re on fire. 🙂 Yes, who can forget the kumbaya singers. You know the teachers indoctrinated me in that culture way back in the 1970’s. We had to regularly sing that song. I’m not even sure what it means, but it doesn’t mean nothing.

    I read Mr King’s book The Tommyknockers also a long time ago, and it kept me up and awake many a late night and into the wee-early hours. Ended rather abruptly that story and was an enjoyable read. Yes, they all turned into aliens. I didn’t pick that ending, although there were signs that things were amiss and something was definitely very, very wrong. Still, we didn’t get to find out, but maybe the miscreants were all better off as aliens? I have not watched the series.

    Man, you’re dodging that. Respect. Unlike Kumbaya, I rather enjoyed the double LP of Simon and Garfunkle’s Concert in Central Park. Every word has probably been burned into my consciousness due to excessive listening way back in the day (proving the Jesuits knew what they were on about), and no doubts in many years time when dementia has struck me low, I’ll still be able to sing all the songs word for word, but perhaps without Art’s style and sheer vocal abilities.

    It’s an odd word that one, and yes, why use the word ‘belonging’ when a person can simply ‘belong’, meaning much the same thing. Not entirely interchangeable, but not all that far away from that point either.

    Hehe! We consume a lot of greens out of the garden, and I have no doubts I’ve consumed more than my fair share of insects as a direct result. However, a major infestation of weevils or pantry moths will make even the hungriest person think twice before consuming. Actually, I take that back, a person hungry enough will consume all of it, but for those with better options…

    It’s funny that buy-back scheme. How hard can it be? They’ve got a pool of mad cash. Some folks to buy-out. Some folks that want to be bought-out. Some folks that want to be left alone. And nothing, or more correctly, possibly not very much has happened so far. It’s an impressive achievement really. And yeah, it’s a very complicated crash-like interaction between the rules for building and the realities of the outcome. Insurance is just one of those realities, but so is say the sort of difficulties encountered by an individual who wants to construct a house which adapts well to the very environment to where the house is located. You wouldn’t imagine that would be difficult, but mate, we did something non standard here with the house and the hoops we had to jump through are bonkers. It is a very crazy system. Not a fan, but could at least navigate it. Others tend to find the process baffling.

    That wouldn’t be good. Hey, if they currently live out in the mid-west, why would they move to your rainy and cooler part of the world? The folks might not like the cold and damp weather. Have to laugh. Looked at the forecast for this weekend and both days seem rather wet. Makes the sensitive person wonder how the leaf change folks will enjoy the experience?

    Hehe! Hey, saying that quip, gave you a better understanding of the arrangements for the store. Hmm. It could mean much. Speaking of such things, since the power system dramas late last year I’ve been pondering the wisdom of holding certain spare parts ready to hand. So with that thought in mind, I contacted the folks up north of the country who manufacture the inverter – the machine which converts battery DC electricity to mains AC electricity. I was hoping to obtain a service kit of the most likely components to fail just to have ready to hand. So, it turns out, they’re shutting the business down. Not selling it, but retiring it, and the lovely lady there said just prior to that they’d release the IP (intellectual property) for free. That tells me much about the perceived value. I had a bit of a freak out really, because that also means that they won’t be able to service the machine, if it needs it. We have to put some serious brain cells towards this matter, it’s not good. But like I may have previously remarked: We’ll run short, long before we run out. What a pain, but at least I know now and can absorb the new information into my world-view. Then act. Do I pick up a spare unit whilst I can – that is the question here? I dunno. Do you have any advice?

    Yeah, volcanoes can be a real nuisance if you live near to them. It’s not lost on me that the farm is located on the saddle of a hopefully extinct super-volcano. That 5.9 earthquake a year and a half ago showed me the power of the Earth. Yes, it can shake us of it. One volcano actually went off only a few hours ago: Shiveluch volcano in far-eastern Russia spews 10-kilometre-high ash plume, covering villages. Not something you’d want to be too close to.

    Hehe! Always good when the biscuits and gravy are on. Dogs can be taught things like that, but would it also annoy you? Had to laugh. I was enjoying a quiet coffee and read this morning when a bloke with a very young child came and sat down on the next table which was rather close. Left the kid unattended when he went to order, and yeah, like a magnet for such things. Possibly it was an attempt on the part of the bloke to spread the pain around, but dunno. Honestly I should take Ollie down there one day and just sort of mumble in a menacing way: My dog doesn’t like the look of youse. There are probably laws… Oh well, did my best to continuing reading and enjoying. What do you do? Some people are looking for a reaction. Best not to feed those beasts.



  13. Yo, Chris – The article about sand farming claimed something like, “first time” such a thing had been done. I think our indigenous people, in our SW, were doing something similar, a lot earlier. But, a good article. Interesting.

    I’m getting along quit nicely, without a heart. I skipped the pressing anxiety part. What? Me worry? 🙂

    I prefer studio recordings. Concerts, well, all that screaming and drowning out the lyrics.

    I think if you built an underground house, in tornado alley, you probably couldn’t get it insured. Too innovative. People moving here might have to put up with the rain, but at least our winters are mild. And very few tornados. Saw this article, last night ..

    I’m always up for a harbinger of doom. Maybe they’d be interested in some nice ocean front property. See: “Washaway Beah, WA.” Another phrase jumped out at me from “The Great Displacement,” last night. “Insurance gap.”

    Well, so much for our forecast freeze and snow. The overnight temperature here, was 40F. This morning, not much rain, and we’re supposed to get clearing, this afternoon. Master Gardeners were here, this morning. Still replacing top stringers. They got to my bed, today. I worked in another part of the forest. A huge wild rose, needed to be hacked back from overtaking a blueberry. I’ll probably hear about it, from some of the Inmates. I’m ready for them. “Do you want roses, or blueberries?” Then I called it a day. Too many people running around with chain saws and sledge hammers.

    So, you want my advice about a back up inverter? Why, so you’ll have someone to blame, if things go south? 🙂 I wonder if there’s something “new and improved” coming down the pike? Or, maybe the fantasmigorical shine has worn off solar? But, I’d say, if you were happy with the inverter you got from them, a backup might not be a bad idea. I wonder if they’ll have a warehouse clearance sale?

    That was an interesting article about the Russian volcano. Wonder if we’ll get some of the ash here. Maybe, nice sunsets, if it ever clears off.

    Well, if you don’t want people to plop unattended children, next to you, maybe you should cultivate a more pervy look? Or, fix the parent with a withering glare and say, “I have Children’s Protective Services, on speed dial. 🙂 Lew

  14. Hi DJ,

    🙂 Happy days, and I do hope that your brother-in-laws situation was not dire.

    Ended up breaking more rocks today, and encountered the rock which shall not be broken.

    Speak later!


  15. Hi Lewis,

    Well, there is a certain sort of pride to be gained in taking first place, but hey, people are people, and historical claims which can’t be verified, can’t be verified. The indigenous folks were down here for at least sixty millennia and there’s plenty of sandy ground on the continent – e.g. Western Australia – and I have no doubts that the techniques were known through sheer observation of plants and experimentation since the very earliest of days. People like to eat.

    An old mate moved over to that part of the country and his challenge with food gardening involved pretty much the same process with such sandy soil. Build up the organic matter however, and harvest whatever rainfall you could. But yeah, it was a very interesting article, and I’m glad folks are thinking about such systems in such parts of the world. The interesting thing about such sandy soils is that they’re often higher in useful minerals than the sort of clay-ey damp soils you and I have to deal with.

    What interested me about the digging last weekend was discovering that the top soil near to the path was about four inches deep, which isn’t bad at all really given the awful starting conditions of not much at all. It kind of confirms my view that you can build about an inch of top soil every three years or so, if you’re careful and diligent.

    He has a good point, and good to hear because anxiety is an unappealing trait. I’m sure you’ve met some folks who were outside the goal posts of normality when it comes to anxiety? Dunno, but it’s good to worry – if you intend to do something with that nervous energy, otherwise it could become a problem.

    Funny you say that, but at the arena gig we went to last month – which I really enjoyed – it was kind of good that the people sitting in the row in front of us decided not to get up and boogie. That meant we could sit and enjoy the spectacle, but it was loud and not necessarily clear. I hear you about the recordings, but at concerts the audio engineers have access to the direct lines and can work their magic at a later time and polish the end product. Although there’s an element of just being in the presence of the performers, which can’t be discounted.

    Thanks for the article on the subduction zone oozing energy and chemical goo from the mantle into the depths of the ocean. Yes, it is not good and also probably poorly understood. Hope you dodge the big one as I hope to dodge the big one here (bushfire that is). I agree, the process for constructing a small house which took into account the environment it was built in, was very unnecessarily onerous. I’m guessing the system works to protect the interests of the large home builders, and that’s possibly a profit motive. The worst house I’ve ever had the pleasure of residing in was the one we rented in a nearby town housing estate whilst we constructed this place. It wasn’t good. Winters were freezing whilst Summers were bonkers hot. There were times I felt that it would have been preferable to have slept in the garage at that place. So much wrong.

    Mate, I’ve heard that land is cheap there at washaway beach. Perhaps our fortunes will be made buying property low and selling high there? Ook! The images of houses slipping into the big drink were candidly not reassuring. There’s parts of the east coast here where that is also taking place.

    Our overnight temperatures are getting pretty close to yours now. I’d do the same too with the wild rose. A person has to pick and choose in a garden, and fussy-be-dammed! But yeah, the noise and all the people might have sent me elsewhere too. Had a late lunch today at the general store, and it was fairly quiet, although the evidence suggested that earlier in the day things had been different.

    Speaking of the garden, we moved a couple of feral Japanese maples today. I planted them both so that they eventually will throw shade over the new drainage basin during the summer months. It should look quite good.

    But earlier in the day we set about breaking up two larger rocks into many smaller – yet still large – rocks for the new low gradient path. One of the large rocks proved resistant to our efforts, and the other one yielded about seven large rocks. There were times I felt that the jackhammer was shaking my teeth. The now smaller rocks were relocated, but that large resistant rock – is it a personal challenge like Captain Ahab felt? Probably not. Tell ya what though, if there is a freeze on the forecast this winter, I’ll be doing like the Romans and pouring water into the holes we’ve made the night beforehand. Let nature do the hard yards in this instance.

    No, not at all. My brain doesn’t work that way with the blame. I’m curious as to hear your thoughts in the matter, mostly because when I encounter a new situation, I’ll ask around and see what other folks would do. I don’t have all the ideas, and more often than not, I learn.

    That’s an interesting point about the ‘new and improved’ because I’m not really sure why, but off grid electric folks seem to love their bells and whistles – I tend to annoy them by asking how long will this last. And I’m of the opinion that a simple robust design will last longer than a whole bunch of bells and whistles I have to pay for and don’t really want. Maybe I’m paranoid, but this stuff shouldn’t be connected up to the interweb, and the bells and whistles folks love that stuff.

    Thanks! See, I hadn’t considered the warehouse clearance idea. 😉 But now you’ve mentioned it, they do seem to be doing a clearance and under cutting their distributors. Hmm. We had a discussion about this very subject this morning – it’s kind of important.

    I reckon you will get some interesting climate impacts from that volcano. The ash made it high enough into the atmosphere to have impacts in your part of the world, and possibly they may take a few years before all the particulates go wherever they end up going. Me thinks clouds may be in your future! Possibly welcome to my summers, and for much the same reason. We had big bushfires then the Tongan volcano. There is a category five (him big) cyclone about to make landfall up in the north west of the continent. The rain will work it’s way here on Saturday and Sunday, and it shall be wet!

    Wise. I do need to alter my look to something less friendly, but then I’ll probably get other problems. Far out! You see what I have to deal with here?



  16. Yo, Chris – Well, someone I know in Australia, said “It all starts with the soil.” 🙂 Your top soil is a remarkable achievement. Digging around in our raised beds, turning over a lot of soil, it seems a bit sandy, to me. Oh, well. More organic mater.

    I see Al Jaffee, one of the original Mad magazine artists, has shuffled off his mortal coil. I guess he did a lot of those back covers, that looked pretty tame, until you folded them where indicated. I always felt a bit guilty, or, felt like I was ruining the magazine, if I folded the covers. So, I’d try to bend them, not crease them, to get look.

    “Outside the goal posts … anxiety.” I but need to only look next door 🙂 . But, speaking of anxiety, I just hope I’m out walking the dog, when The Big One, hits.

    I must admit, after the Paradise, California fire, it crossed my mind that there was probably cheap land, available. Reading more in “The Great Displacement,” last night, the author was talking about the flooding, in Houston, Texas. “…between five thousand and twelve thousand flooded homes were sold after Harvey, and that many of those sales were to large institutional investors and hedge funds.” They’d fix them up, rent them out, and when costs were recovered, either keep renting them, or sell them on to other unsuspecting buyers.

    I don’t see much TV. Maybe a bit at The Club. Occasionally, at Elinor’s. But it sure seems like there are a lot of ads for insurance companies.

    I’m sure the Japanese maples and tree fern will look quit lovely. Maybe, an Asian flavor. You need to keep your eye out for some little bit of garden sculpture. Maybe, something like this … 🙂

    So, more or less, you’re going to harpoon Moby Rock?

    We’ve been reading about the typhoon, in NW Australia. Doesn’t look good. Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, is experiencing massive rainfall.
    Our temperature, overnight, was again around 40F. But I noticed there were frost warnings, just south of us, through Portland, and into the Willamette Valley.

    I watched “Bedknobs and Broomsticks,” last night. Angela Lansbury fights the Nazis. 🙂 It came out in 1971, but this is a remastered, blue ray version. You probably wouldn’t like it. It’s a Dizzy production. So, there are songs. And dancing. That’s what the fast forward button, is for. Popcorn may have been consumed.

    The movie is from some books. Interesting publishing history. They came out in the late 1940s, and a couple were combined into one volume, in the early 1950s. I can remember reading it, when I was a wee small lad. The author was Mary Norton, who also wrote “The Borrowers,” series.

    I also watched the first lecture of a new “Great Courses.” “Banned Books, Burned Books: Forbidden Literary Works.” In their infinite wisdom, “Great Courses.” has rebranded itself as “Wondrium.” Why? “Great Courses” conveyed some meaning. “Wondrium?” Conveys nothing. Our library didn’t have it. I suggested they buy it, and they did.

    It’s a timely topic, right now. There’s a small vocal minority, who are moving to close libraries, if they don’t remove books they find objectionable, from the shelves.

    According to my Idaho friends, the same thing is happening in a suburb, outside of Boise. In a place called Meridian. The Idaho governor just vetoed a bill, that would fine libraries $2,500, if someone’s little darling got their hands, via the library, on something the parents objected to. Sounds like a money maker, to me. 🙂

    Argh! There’s been a high, whining sound, going on for a couple of hours. Think of having a tooth drilled, at the dentist. I see now what it is. A huge truck blowing bark dust, around the place. Not the Master Gardeners. What the heck is that all about, and how will it impact our gardens? They’re working over the blueberries, right now. Lew

  17. Chris,

    Yes, happy days! She is home for a few days, then an overnight traditional gathering, then home for a few days, then back to the normally scheduled trip with her brother. Neither of us knows exactly what is happening with him yet.

    The rock that shall not be broken? Sounds almost like something out of Tolkien, along the lines of “Reforged the sword that was broken…”. Maybe something like
    “The rock that cannot be broken,
    Was sitting awaiting a sword,
    He who removes the sword from the unbroken stone,
    Shall be fated to ascend the throne.”
    Oooops, getting Tolkien and Arthuriana mixed up. 😉 Now we need to add a stanza that includes references to Narnia, Beowulf and maybe Sigurd Fafnir’s Bane. If we’re going to mix this stuff up, it’s best to do it right.

    The wind, while nasty, did not achieve the ferociousness that had been forecast. Can you imagine the look on birds’ faces if a husky was getting tossed about by the wind and was able to chomp on flying crows and such? I seem to remember an episode in the second story in “The Compleat Enchanter” (written by Fletcher Pratt and L. Sprague de Camp) wherein our heroes accidentally conjured up a plethora of flying mice and then conjured up a similar number of small flying cats to catch the flying mice. What could possibly go wrong?

    “Stop acting like a flaming galah”? That just properly rolls off the tongue. I wish I had remembered that one when I was running errands today. Would’ve come in handy to say when a total nincompoop stopped walking across a busy street so he could read and answer a text message. He obviously never read the Calvin and Hobbes series about traffic safety, which culminated in Calvin’s unforgettable slogan “Be careful or be roadkill!”

    Ah, yes, “Control versus Kaos”. Who can forget the Cone of Silence or the shoe telephone? Of course, these days I adhere to the viewpoint that control is an illusion.

    Not that I can tell you what to do, but I can state what I would do. It’s what we did for several years prior to retirement: we bought a lot of new appliances, the more robust the better.

    After 3 consecutive La Nina years, we’re due for something different. Or not. Be nice to see something different. Oh, wait. Every year our weather is different than the previous year, even during 3 consecutive La Ninas.

    Build a bigger mead hall, store more mead. More heroes will visit. More bragging stories will be told. Epic poems will be recited. Monsters will be vanquished, dragons will be rescued from ravaging maidens, chivalrous feats will occur, swords may even get removed from unbreakable rocks.

    You’ve noticed the same thing I have. It is NOT the engineers who are leading the mad dash to 100% electric everything. Those who work with these things KNOW the limitations. There is also a big push in the USA now to ban any natural gas furnaces, fireplaces, appliances in new construction. Suddenly it is supposed to be extremely unhealthy to use in homes and apartments. And and and it’s a fossil fuel that emits greenhouse gases! Of course, during the first ginormous shut down due to the unmentionable, when nearly all people were at home and thus cooking more and using more natural gas (either directly or from electricity generation), the air quality in large towns and cities worldwide was drastically clearing up. Airplanes and automobiles.

    Businesses seem to have forgotten Henry Ford’s ideas, right? Concentration of economic power has never ended well. I can foresee something similar to the 3rd century bagudae occurring.


  18. Hi DJ,

    Sounds like a bit of a whirlwind, and hope the gathering and visit goes well.

    Ooo, that is some messed up, mixed up mythology! My brain now hurts, but candidly the hurt is less than yesterday when I was on the correct end of the electric jackhammer. At one point I felt as if my teeth were rattling with the vibration whilst attempting to crack the dreaded rock. Can’t say that the rock and I are now friends, and this may well not be the case. Anyway, I took a good close second look at the rock today and devised a different plan of attack. We’ll see.

    Good to hear. It is well known that record weather extremes of any kind are not something you want to encounter. A Category five cyclone touched down up in the far north west of the continent yesterday. Some wind speed records may have been broken Ilsa set a new preliminary Australian 10-minute sustained wind speed record of 218km/h at Bedout Island, a tiny speck of land about 100 km NE of Port Hedland. Yes, best if you weren’t involved. The gusts were much stronger again. Pardoo Roadhouse bears brunt of Severe Tropical Cyclone Ilsa on WA’s Kimberley-Pilbara coast. You’d think that being on the diagonal other side of the continent, that this system would peter out long before here, but no, it’s linking up with a system from the Southern Ocean and yeah, tomorrow night will be wet with maybe an inch or so of rain, maybe more. I’m pretty sure the forecasters said something, something dry and warm autumn. At least the storm might knock some of the colourful leaves off the trees. 😉 It was bonkers over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range today. Had a brief chance chat with a photographer who had come up from the big smoke to take photographs, and was horrified by the volume of people.

    Yes indeed, plenty of things probably went wrong in that story. It’s like the story about the old lady who swallowed a fly, I don’t know why she swallowed a fly… I’ve accidentally sucked a few of them back over the years. A revolting experience.

    Calvin is on the money with that quip. I see that happening too. Look up from the screen, or you may scream! Kind of rhymes a bit. Actually, I’ve noticed that many peoples posture is affected by too much little screen time. Hunched over and stuff. I wonder if that will have long term consequences?

    Hehe! Yes, control is an allusion, and something best left for others. All we can but do is enjoy the ride and hope to watch it out in comfort. History suggests that this is not the common lot for our species.

    Thank you for stating that clearly. Yes, this has been where our options are leading us. Robust first, frills and unnecessary bling second, or maybe not even at all. 😉

    Mate, I have no idea what to expect when it comes to the weather. Utterly bonkers describes the past three years. Maybe the tree frogs know something I don’t? I can hear them just outside the door now croaking their merry tunes. Every time this happens…

    Those maidens can be a bit naughty. Spare a thought for the poor long suffering dragons. All they want is heaps of mad gold and a quiet place to dream, undisturbed by heroes and/or avaricious hobbits. Lewis suggested a harpoon, and I’m tempted to hurl an exploding harpoon at that rock. It might just work. 😉 I’ve got plans you know. Hehe!

    Yeah, it’s a fine joke. For years the appliances have been sold, now they’re supposedly unhealthy. Hmm. A mate of mine is an electrical engineer, and this is a question I intend to ask next time we catch up. I’ll tell you a funny story about the power system here. Every single time I’ve changed something within the system, I’ve learned about the limits of all of the components. Every single connection or device within the system has limits. And you may notice that my response to these limits every time has been to ensure that the limits are never reached, under any circumstances. Only politicians see a system and then pile more expectations onto it. Engineers think differently, and may even say: Hang on, wait a sec before you do… Oops! That’s not good. A lot of dreamers with that electrify everything story, and maybe it’s possible when all we’ve got to power as a society are lights, and even then it won’t be sustainable.

    Always possible, but I tend to have the belief that the situation has to be untenable before such outcomes become common at the edges. What we’re doing now economically with wealth inequality has been tried before in the late 19th century, albeit at a different scale.



  19. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks man. 🙂 One of the last jobs we did today was take down a mound in the shady orchard and flatten it out. Was there a body under there, or more likely a rock or submerged tree stump? Nope, just top soil – all of it. One of the deepest finds of top soil yet. Oh well. A bit of a shame to upset the soil and spread the stuff around, but from another perspective the soil biology and minerals also gets spread around and the sun won’t have enough energy to sterilise the life in the now spread around soil. It might seem like we enjoy digging here, but mostly we try to set up the place so that things are easy to maintain – and then build upon the resilience of the soils. Sometimes, hard decisions get made, but over time the disturbances to soil structure are lessened. A bit of short term pain for longer term gain.

    Do you notice that sometimes the soil right down in the bottom of the raised beds gets a little bit compacted? Sandy soil in a raised bed isn’t necessarily a bad thing, some years you want better drainage and the plant roots spread better plus the soil is warmer. But overall yeah, add more organic matter. I top dressed the beds yesterday and also gave a feed to the fruit trees we moved last week.

    It was such a nice day today weather wise. We installed the rocks recovered yesterday into the rock wall on either side of the new low gradient path. It was a difficult job because we had to just put the rocks in place and then fine tune the placement so as to give a pleasing look to the walls. You’d think that would be easy, but no. Most of the fine work was assisted with the six foot steel house wrecking bar as a lever. My fingers are not up for such fine heavy rock relocating work.

    The path is looking good though and the ‘pinch point’ in the path is not easily noticeable. The narrowest point in the path is five feet wide, and that took a fair bit of work and careful selection of rocks so as to keep as wide as possible. We didn’t want to disturb the kiwi fruit vines which grow on either side of the rock walls. The plants are such excellent producers in all conditions that they deserve special attention and care.

    Al is a hoot! It doesn’t get any better than his quote: “Serious people my age are dead” Very nice, and something for all of us to keep in mind! Ah, more dark secrets were divulged in the gentle art of longevity: “I’d ask myself what would John Wayne do, and then I’d do the opposite” Oh, he’s good. His mother incidentally sounded like a crazy person to me based on what I read, but then people, I’ve noticed, can happily make poor choices, yet believe otherwise. Yes, the world is a little bit darker without the artist, may he rest in peace. One quote recounting his philosophy (as stated by someone else) is worthy of reproducing here (purely for research purposes): “the irreplaceable embodiment of Mad Magazine’s range: smart but silly, angry but understanding, sophisticated but gross, upbeat but hopeless. … He’s uncommonly interested in figuring out how things work, and exasperated because things NEVER work.” I so hear you. The fold-ins were fun, and I get what you mean.

    Hehe! Glad you liked the concept, and I came up with it many long years ago when faced with an awkward staff situation. Spare a thought for the poor young assistant accountant who faced me telling him bluntly many long, long years ago: Here are the goal posts of normality (raising two index fingers into the air before his bewildered expression). You are outside these goal posts (pointing to a space on the wrong side of the left hand goal post). Get your sh*t together. Postscript: He ended up being let go (is that a nice way to phrase things?) That’s also called being given enough rope to hang themselves.

    Some worries, are real worries. And your concern is merely concern that the building will withstand the incident. Honestly, any situation which begins with the line: ‘now let’s assuming that nothing was stuffed up in the construction’, is probably not a safe proposition. I’ve got the same issue with a big fire. Would I bet my life that we got every single detail in the fire resistance systems correct – and also that they have not degraded in any way over the past thirteen years. Let’s just say that it is a big call. 🙂

    I’ve read of property sharks circling the waters after a major disaster. It’s a bit opportunistic really, but who knows, maybe the original owners may not have been able to replace or fix up the dwelling after the incident. I read about such concerns in this mornings news with the floods in the big smoke late last year. The rain fell here over two days before heading there, and it was no fun for me either.

    I’ve seen those symbolic cat statues in shops and often wondered about their role. Usually on the counters near to the cash register. Hmm. I was thinking of moving the little statue bloke out of the fern gully and near to the drainage basin. He’s performed Stirling service for many years and might appreciate the change of scenery? What do you reckon: Is it a good idea to move the statue?

    Hehe! Yeah, let’s blow the mother up! 🙂 I wish. No, I’ll get back to attacking that large rock sooner or later. I took a good long look at it today. Surely it can’t be that hard to crack?

    Yup, 25 inches of rain will do that. The photos looked horrendous. They get such huge storms (and bigger) up in the north east of the continent near to the coast. Tropical conditions can make for some monster storms.

    Hehe! Songs and dancing. Are you entirely sure the film didn’t originate out of Bollywood? 🙂 Yay for the popcorn!

    Out of curiosity, does banning an otherwise forgettable book increase it’s popularity? I recall from my misbegotten youth that a local band (quite the over educated cheeky scamps) titled an album: “Censored due to legal advice”. On seeing the cheeky picture underneath the plastered over label, the legal advice was probably sound, in that case.

    Is Wondrium even a proper word, or did they just make that up? Did you ask for the change? 😉

    That library story is a mare’s nest. I don’t know why people would muck around with kids, or anyone’s reading enjoyment for that matter. Lewis, they all seem like bad eggs to me. All of them.

    Did you discover why bark was being blown onto the ground? I’m a bit dubious of that stuff if only because often it is dyed which seems a bit unnecessary to me. But if people find it to be attractive, what do they say: Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Too bad if it looks like a giant bunch of dog barf.



  20. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … “wealth inequality.” There are a couple of theories, kicking around, that when wealth inequality becomes too wide, and too obvious, civilizations fall. Or, at least there are major changes.

    I read about your typhoon Ilsa. What a name. Sounds like a “kitten with a whip.” Lucky it came ashore in a fairly uninhabited area. Cows are having it rough, this week. There was an explosion, in a dairy farm in Texas, and 18,000 cows were killed. Only a couple of days before you feel the effects of the typhoon? Now that’s fast transit. Maybe one could catch a ride? Balloons? I’ve seen a couple of mentions of bad storms, in SW England, this week. I hope Inge is ok.

    Hmmm. I wonder where the topsoil came from? Maybe some long, long ago trees, that have now, entirely, returned to the earth. Nice find.

    Rearranging the rocks on the Titanic? 🙂 The pinch point is where you want to dig the pit trap. Sharpened stakes in the bottom, are optional.

    I mentioned to the Master Gardeners, that I had seen boxes of short season Kiwi, at the plant (etc.) store. And what about growing them up the lattice work, of the smoke shed? Well, they nixed that idea. Said they were as hard to manage, as grapes. But, sometimes, the Master Gardeners change their minds, from season to season. Not that I’m all that wild, about Kiwi. But then, I have very little experience with them.

    Al Jaffee was a national treasure. I liked the part, ” … upbeat, but hopeless.” 🙂 A little known fact is that quit a few immigrants, returned to their home countries. For one reason or another. Some bounced back and forth across the Atlantic, several times.

    It’s hard to get solid information on the systems, in this building. Seems to be all speculation and rumor. As, where does that air vent in the bathroom come from? Where does it go? But I keep hearing that there are three enormous metal bands, earthquake fittings, to hold the building together. I still wonder about the slight ripple in the corridor floor, between my door and the elevator. It’s just a few steps.

    There was a lucky cat, Japanese garden sculpture, at that Asian art auction, a few years ago. I managed to talk myself out of it. I don’t remember the details, but there’s some Japanese folk tale, about a merchant and the cat that brought him luck. And that’s why you see them, hanging about the registers of a lot of businesses.

    LOL. I’ve heard some authors PRAY their books will be banned. Lots of free PR. I watched a few more episodes of the “Banned Books, Burned Books.” The first attempt to ban a book in America, was Thomas Morton’s “New English Canaan.” He may have also been America’s first hippie. 🙂 Morton was such a pain in the … ear, to the Puritans, that they exiled him. So, he created Merrymount, which was kind of a free wheeling commune. But, putting up a Maypole was the last straw, and they threw a net over him, and shipped him back to England. Where he wrote the book, which the businessmen who were trying to drum up colonists, didn’t like. There may only be two copies left in existence.

    I didn’t ask for the change. Who did? I want names!

    Believe it or not, here they call that stuff “beauty bark.” Around our garden beds, we have ground cloth, and that was covered with actual wood chips. Distributed with a wheelbarrow and shovel.

    Well, that’s cleared up in a timely manner. I picked up a book, and one of the blurbs on the back was from “…director and chief executive, Royal Botanic Gardens Victoria (Australia) The book? “The Wardian Case: How a Simple Box Moved Plants and Changed the World.” (Keogh, 2020). There had been other plant boxes, before Ward’s, but his worked best. He did a test run, between London and Sydney. Everything turned out, fine. And plants came back from Australia.

    There’s a wonderful painting, in the book, by Hopley. “A Primrose from England.” A shipment of plants was sent to Melbourne. Which included the first primroses in Australia. Hundreds of people lined the streets, to see it.

    There are better reproductions, on the Net.

    This morning, I made up my 3 day oatmeal and fruit supply, so took the opportunity to “save” my remaining oatmeal. Bagged up four and a half gallons of oatmeal, and tossed it in the freezer. Take that! bugs. Lew

  21. Hello Chris
    Wind, wind and more wind. There was a gust of 96mph. Rain, rain and more rain. I am paddling when I go outside. Son says that the water table is 2 inches above the ground.
    There have had to be difficult rescues of people who have got stuck in the clay. One woman was stuck up to her waist! I find that hard to believe although I know that one must not move if one gets stuck or one will just get in deeper.


  22. Chris,

    Thanks. Whirlwind is normal for us anymore. That’s the cards life has dealt us. Accept, adapt, move on. What else can we do?

    So, have you made friends with the rock yet? Or did the alternative plan work? Maybe both perhaps?

    Ilsa sounds more than nasty. Category 5? That makes extreme seem rather tame. Combined with Inga’s torrential rains and winds and clay that sucks people ever deeper, well, I really appreciate our mostly tame weather even more. Sucking clay in England, Class 5 typhoons in Australia. Ugg. Poor Pardoo Roadhouse. Not much left.

    I get how the tail end of Ilsa could affect you. Happens. Some of our eastward moving Pacific northwest storms this year turned epic in the upper midwest and the Atlantic coast once more moisture from the Great Lakes got added in. My friend and I drove back to Las Cruces after Christmas when I was in graduate school. We left the Spokane area in a large snowstorm. It was all ice in southern Idaho through much of Nevada. Las Vegas, Nevada, was a mere +3C with 40 Km per hour winds. We arrived in Las Cruces one late afternoon to find that the same storm system had left trace amounts of snow that morning. That’s the nature of larger storms.

    I know that old lady who swallowed a fly story! It was a song also. We sang it at school when I was like 8 years old. My mother had the sheet music for it, so she played it on the piano while my sister and I sang it at home. I still remember all of the verses. If I remember correctly, that’s the one that ends “I know an old lady who swallowed a horse. She died of course!”

    The hunched over screen posture IS causing problems. Tight shoulders, neck out of whack, posture issues. Part of my exercise regimen includes yoga 3 or 4 days a week. Generic stuff, but really helping loosen things up. The online stuff I follow also discusses the neck and shoulder issues due to too much screen use, both computer and small screen. And has some youtube sessions specifically for neck and shoulders.

    Tree frogs and other animals are in much better touch with the impending weather than us mere humans. If the frogs are merrily croaking their tunes, I’d pay attention.

    A freeway is being constructed in Spokane to connect the east-west Interstate 90 with the two main routes north of town. Supposed to help with traffic congestion. Our joke was always “You build it and traffic will come”. Engineers from the state of Washington are now saying that the new freeway will do little to reduce congestion, as these things never do over the longer term. More mass transit and higher speed commuter trains help more, so they say. But the politicians want the roads.

    Would appreciate to hear what your engineer friends say. They’ve used natural gas in much of Europe for decades. It was normal in southern California while electric stoves/ovens were a rarity. Suddenly they’re a health problem? Some of the “reasoning” is that gas stoves put carbon monoxide into homes. My carbon monoxide alarms never have gone off. Carbon monoxide meters show no carbon monoxide when the gas appliances are running. Sounds like a “logical sounding” argument by politicians to force something on us.

    They keep forecasting warm spring weather to hit any day now. nope, not yet. Not much rain either. If they forecast warmer weather long enough, it will be summer and warm. Then they’ll take credit for good forecasting. 😉


  23. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, best to deal with things as they are.

    You wait and see, that large rock is a monster. We may have to double the number of holes drilled into it. That’s the theory anyway. This is the first rock above ground which we’ve been unable to crack. More work.

    The clay story horrified me too. Still, getting stuck in clay would be better than finding that you’ve unwittingly stepped into a burning peat fire. That sometimes happens down here after a big bushfire. They’re almost impossible to spot. There’s not much of the roadhouse left, talk about the roadhouse blues. Hey, there was a bit of talk in the media about how to make structures resistant to such extreme weather. A lot of steel and a whole bunch of concrete is my thinking – however, that roadhouse is in a very quiet and remote part of the world. The economics of such constructions don’t stack up.

    The tail is here and it’s wagging! 🙂 It’s rained for hours, although nothing out of the ordinary. The wind this morning though was pretty strong and I was wondering what the leaf change tourists would have made of the conditions. That’s the thing, the storms from the north west (Indian Ocean) do the same thing as the Great Lakes, they build strength again once they connect up with new water sources and they can be either the Southern Ocean or Pacific Ocean – and both seemed to be feeding into the monster yesterday.

    Thanks for the story, and deserts can get pretty cold.

    Hehe! It was a fun song, and we also sung it at school. A warning as to escalation is how I’ve always thought of it. Makes you wonder if Napoleon’s retreating troops from the failed eastward campaign had similar issues with horse meat?

    Total respect! Mate, after the shoulder issue two years ago which was unflatteringly described as aged related wear and tear (what, me worry?) I now have a daily stretching routine which just works. Truthfully I have to avoid sounding like one of those newly converted folks. Very tiresome you may agree, but this stuff works. 😉

    Just prior to the rain arriving late this afternoon, the tree frogs were kicking up quite the chorus. The ants also know the weather in advance because they construct little earth berms around the entrances to their nests. I always take note of those signs.

    Compared to trains, roads are cheap. Nuff said. Mate, there are limits to all of this stuff, and sadly we are reaching many of them – then pushing on past. What do you do?

    I’ll learn more later this month. But you know, if society wants to use intermittent energy sources to supply something which people expect to be a constant, you have to use natural gas. Those generators can fire up really quickly, like in a couple of minutes. A coal fired generator on the other hand has to continually operate. They were never designed or constructed with the possibility of shutting them down regularly. All of it looks like a case of forcing engineering to accommodate ideology, and it might work, but there will be consequences. And we might not be able to pay for it. My electricity here is not cheap, no way. It would be a fine joke to suggest that it is.

    The long term forecasts here have proven to be equally bonkers. Change, err, happens… 🙂



  24. Hi Inge,

    Oh my goodness, and glad to hear that despite the high water table, you’ve survived the worst of the storm. 96mph is no joke and I hope that your lovely ancient forest survived the encounter mostly intact?

    The tail (or what is left of) of Cyclone Ilsa arrived late this afternoon. The wind gusts were quite strong but nothing even close to what you experienced. Most certainly the weather conditions would have surprised all of the leaf change tourists in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. So far, there has been little fallen timber here. The rain from that storm began a few hours ago, but prior to that the air temperature was warm (but cloudy) and we decided to work outside today – although not under large trees. When the cyclone hit the far north west of the continent, some of the wind gusts were 179.5mph – proving that things could always be worse.

    The story of the woman stuck in clay sounds horrific – and surprisingly common. Who knew? Yikes! It seems that the high tides are the killer in these incidents, and the force required to extract a person is quite large. You sent me on a interweb rabbit hole, and it turns out that spreading your weight across the clay surface and slowly wiggling your extremities whilst waiting for your body to re-float apparently is one way out. The possibility of doing just that in such a situation, is not great. To be calm in a life threatening situation is not something which people are good at. Sandra was sucked out into a rip whilst swimming at a beach in Melbourne many long years ago – and had luckily only just heard a report of what to do if if so caught. You’d probably have them around your island I’d imagine? Dangerous things, if you panic.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    I’m also of the opinion that the widening inequality suggests that change is in the air. Although, how that change materialises is something I can’t quite get my head around. Perhaps it is something of a lack of imagination on my part? 🙂 I’d never imagined that we’d get to this point, let alone worse. I guess this is all what failure looks like.

    The winds roared last night and a few really strong wind gusts buffeted the house and woke me up. This morning the winds had calmed a bit, but by late afternoon the rains arrived. Nothing out of the ordinary. This morning was quite warm but cloudy and we decided to work outside. Sewed up the three steel rock gabions which form the machine service inspection pit near to the large shed. Then we strung up a stainless steel cable hanging from the roof in the greenhouse. We’re testing the old timers theory that hanging tomato and chilli plants upside down will get the fruit to ripen. Dunno, but the experiment is worthwhile given the short growing season here. Have you ever tried doing that? We cleaned the soil off the root systems, pulled off all the leaves and now there’s these sad looking plants hanging upside down from a stainless steel cable in the greenhouse. Report as to success or failure will follow… 🙂

    I thought the storm was named after one of those characters on the animated film ‘Frozed’ (!). But that characters name began with an ‘e’ rather than an ‘i’. Never watched it, but the merchandising and brand recognition is awesome – possibly heaps of mad cash. Maybe, the weather folks who name these things wanted to give a nod, but avoid the pesky royalties to the Dismay (!) corporation?

    We heard about the cows. Not good, and that used to be one big shed.

    That top soil question was also something we’ve cogitated upon too. The previous owners used to have a small triangular shaped enclosure there. It was pretty basic, but it looked like someone kept horses there for a while, or at least intermittently. They do a lot of poop.

    Hehe! I’d like to think not, but opinions can vary. 😉 Don’t laugh, but we’re using the low gradient ramp project as a way to slowly use some of these iceberg rocks sticking up out of the paddocks. Getting them out of the ground is hard work – possibly why they’re still there. 😉 But large rocks are very useful items when you’re on a sloping chunk of land. Wise to retain soil against the forces of gravity – it ain’t on my side in this instance. Wise advice about the trap.

    Really? All I do with the kiwi fruit here is provide support for the vines, feed the soil and cut them back. Other than that, they look after themselves. You do need a male and female vine though in order to produce fruit. The vines do take up a lot of room – as you can see in the photos of them here. Dunno, but they provide fresh fruit right at the beginning of winter, and that’s a good thing in my books. The citrus produce just after that, but it’s too cold in your part of the world for them – and marginal here for them.

    I liked that bit too about ‘upbeat, but hopeless’. Let’s just say that the words struck a chord. A mate of mine who immigrated here recently told me that people sometimes are ‘going away’ rather than ‘going to’, and that struck me as an insight I’d never really considered. In a way though, we left the city long ago. On visits there I get the impression that we saw it at it’s best, and left before the worst. And that’s the thing, things might be worse elsewhere. Mr Jaffee’s mum came to a bad end doing that act.

    Yeah, exactly. How do you know – until the building has been put to the ultimate test? The eggheads are suggesting that buildings in the far north west of the country be constructed to survive such an horrific storm. A bonkers wish. A whole bunch of concrete and even more steel me thinks – but the nearest town is like how far away? It makes no economic sense to do so.

    The ripple might be cables under the floor coverings, or just a dodgy concrete levelling job. It happens. I’m assuming the floors aren’t timber? Did you mean bounce in the floor?

    I can understand your interest, and candidly – excluding the large cities – I quite enjoy the aesthetic sensibilities of the Japanese especially as it applies to nature. Ah, I see there are a few origin stories for the cat, but all began in the Edo period of Japan.

    Hehe! We can only hope the website will be banned – our fortunes will then be made! Except if it’s banned nobody will read it, and then… Look, it’s probably for the best if things continue as they are, don’t you reckon? I heard some weird story about banning wanting to get more official in your country?

    The puritans were a tiresome bunch. Very boring. I have no doubts they were annoyed that Thomas Morton’s group were having more fun. Such things happen around an 80ft maypole, and maybe some other stuff. 😉

    What? No way. But then people can be odd. Oh my, it’s true about the name for the mulch. I can see why you’d use that ground cloth, but eventually the stuff breaks down. I recall in the 1970’s that people used to use a thick black plastic and then chuck mulch on it. But then they also used to sell garden edging made from asbestos. Hmm. Who knows what is going in these more enlightened days?

    That Mr Ward was clearly a clever fellow to have observed and then developed the plant box. The artwork is astounding, and I’d never previously heard of this local history. Thanks. You can see the rapt expressions in the faces of the people admiring the plant, and there was even a dog – suitably chained in that instance.

    Yeah, take that bugs! They certainly won’t enjoy that process, that’s for sure.



  26. Yo, Chris – The last time we had this much inequality, was at the end of the Gilded Age. The natives were getting very restless, revolution was in the air, on and off. The Powers That Be, took notice and got nervous. Things got gradually better, for the rank and file. Of course, it can either go that way, or, things can really head south.

    We’re supposed to have rain, for about the next week. Then we have a few days of “partial sun.” Prof. Mass is banging on about how cold the spring is, but we don’t seem to be feeling it, here. Then again, he tends to be a bit Seattle-centric. Or maybe, it’s just a manifestation of our Napavine Triangle. 🙂

    I’ve never done the “hang the tomatoes and chili, thing. For tomatoes, there’s also the “wrap them in newspaper and put them in a box.” LOL. I’m still trying to figure out how to extend bananas. You may have noticed that some hands of bananas have plastic around the stem end. Well, I read an article that said if you wrap the ends of bananas, in plastic, they will ripen slower. I gave it a whirl. Didn’t seem to make any difference. Then there are “banana hangers.” Do I really want to invest in something that also may not work?

    Ah, mystery solved. Horse apples and probably a lot of straw and hay. Yup. That will give you some good top soil.

    You have uses, for the iceberg rocks. And, they are so pleasing to the eye, once in place. Never mind their soil holding ability.

    Good to know it takes two Kiwi, to tango. I’ll have to check out the boxes, and see if they’re “sexed.” “And what do you do for a living?” “Oh, I’m a Kiwi sexer.” 🙂

    “Go to.” Destination unknown. There was an interesting bit in the book on climate refugees. Some stories about where, and how they end up. When Paradise, California burned, it turns out a real estate dealer had moved to Nampa, Idaho, before the fire. So, she had connections to the town. So many people moved to Nampa, that they have a yearly reunion.

    It’s a ripple. A slight dip and rise. I guess each floor is built on a concrete slab. If The Big One comes, I hope I can at least make it into the stair well, in case the slabs pancake. When the Twin Towers came down, one of the few places they found survivors, was in the stairwells.

    Yes, lots of attempts to ban books in public, school and university libraries, right now. I watched more of “Banned Books Burned Books,” last night. Everything from Anthony Comstock to Salman Rushdie. I was in the book biz, when “Satanic Verses,” came out. It was a very nervous time.

    When they put in the stock tanks, they ripped up some old ground cloth. And put down new. I don’t know how long the old stuff had been down, but it was clearly reaching the end of it’s useful life. Weeds were becoming a problem.

    I really like Victorian genre paintings. And prints. Not the sloppy sentimental stuff, but the nooks and crannies of the everyday.

    I’m # 1! I’m # 1! 🙂 Where it counts. I was looking at the new library list, last night, and there was Stephen King’s next book, “Holly.” So, I put a hold on it and, I was the first one. Won’t be out til early fall.

    While I was poking around the library catalog, I checked out what George Orwell books, they might have. Besides the usual suspects, there was a volume of three of his novels, including “Keep the Aspidistras Flying.” And, a collection of essays, “All Art is Propaganda.” I put holds, on both.

    Last night, I watched “The Pursuit of Love,” which I thought was a movie, but turned out to be a three part miniseries. Set in England, before WWII. From a novel by Nancy Mitford, who was one of the eccentric and scandalous Mitford sisters. There were six of them, and they were a really mixed bag. Lew

    PS: Read the other day that there’s a pilot program, to outsource / privatize the hospice end of our Medicare. It won’t end well.

  27. Hi Chris,
    Been a busy few weeks. Had Easter for 30. Luckily it was in the mid 60’s so many were outside including a whirling dervish of a 4 year old who managed a major skinned knee, a bloody nose after a face plant in the driveway and becoming entangled in a briar patch. He and his parents took it in stride and had a good time. I was glad all the bleeding was outside. Marty had his hernia surgery this week which took up most of two days.All went well and he’s doing fine. It got very warm this week – in the 80’s so much to catch up on outside. Got some planting done today. On Monday it’s supposed to snow. Sounds like your weather with all the ups and downs. Oh yes, I also got hearing aids. They’ve taken a some getting used to but are pretty nifty. They put an app on my phone that enables me to direct my hearing from just in front, 180degrees are all 360 degrees depending on the situation.

    Are you making wine or jelly with the grapes?

    Gas prices have increased significantly though they are 60 percent lower just over the border in Wisconsin.


  28. Hi Lewis,

    The Gilded Age is a nice way to put things, by no less than the wordsmith Mark Twain himself. It’s effects were felt down here too with a crushing depression in the 1890’s for much the same reasons when property speculation crashed and burned. In reading I spotted some statistic which purported that 44% of your population at the time had almost nothing. A brutal regime, and good if you’re somehow on the beneficial side of that arrangement, but otherwise things were not so good. I noticed also that during this period of time wages in your country were relatively good compared to Europe, except living costs were higher, which kind of equalised the advantage. With median house prices for the big smoke now at something like $956k (yes, you read that number correctly) and median rents at $500/week, living costs are bonkers high.

    Ooo, the good professor has even written about the Napavine Triangle. Mate, you were warned! 😉 Two words, good luck! Bizarrely, we tend to get less weather extremes here being slightly protected by a natural amphitheatre due to all of the rather large extinct (hopefully so) volcanoes which make up the range. But the elevated position does tend to attract rain.

    Neither have we with hanging tomato and chilli plants. Who knows what will happen, but something will. I’ll put in a photo of the arrangement for tomorrow. Yeah, I’m not into that idea about wrapping tomatoes in newspaper if only because they might rot and cause an unpleasant mess. We don’t tend to get hands of bananas with plastic wrap, although the organic varieties sometimes differentiate themselves by having some sort of red wax dip on one end. They kind of stand out. And, I too feel much the same about the investment. I noticed that some, err let’s call them enthusiasts, tie their chilli’s using a needle and thread and then plait them and hang the bunch much like folks do with garlic. Dunno about you, but I’m a bit busy for such niceties.

    Horse apples and straw – it works. 🙂

    Thanks. The new path went quite a ways this past week. I’m enjoying doing the project and making that area of the property better to use and easier to maintain.

    Very funny. You did get me wondering as to plant identification with kiwi fruit vines, and it turns out the flowers are where you can ascertain the sex of the plant. I wonder how plant nurseries know because usually the plants are sold when the vines are pretty small. They must be known grafted varieties? I’m keeping a watch on them in case the vines decide to self seed. This is a good area for the vines. Word on the street is that the vines survive temperatures to as low as -25 degrees F. I don’t recall you mentioning that it has ever gotten that cold.

    Your mentioning of the book reminded me that during the recession in the early 1990’s a lot of people I knew at the time headed north to warmer climates (things being upside down here). Not necessarily climate refugees, but more economic refugees and it kind of alerted me to the fact that some folks move to more advantageous digs. Man, I just read some interesting articles on how Paradise is coping now. It’s almost as if a demographic shift there is under way.

    Yes, stairwell and down first, all other considerations to the side – maybe grab H too, if you can and a secure lead wouldn’t hurt. I’ll tell you a weird thing about when the 5.9 earthquake hit – the dogs didn’t want to leave the house. Not sure why, maybe they knew about all of the steel in the building and the unusual wall and roof construction, but they just said no. We headed outside and were looking at the dogs looking at us. So strange.

    Who could forget the furore that book created? Good to see the author never came to harm, although his life would have become like something out of a mystery / high adventure novel. Do we need such excitement – although you enjoyed some of that in your role there. People can get so worked up about words.

    Oh, there was a good artwork along those lines I noticed whilst reading about the gilded age. No where was it… … Sacramento Railroad Station in 1874 by Carl Wilhelm Hahn. It looked like mayhem, but it also worked.

    The author has clearly penned a book to his favourite character. Nice one. The Editor is yet to begin the Mr Mercedes trilogy (the hardback editions of the books). Holly is a great character and I’ll be curious to hear your review. Well done too. 🙂 It’s good to be #1!

    Keep the Aspidistras Flying was referred to many times during our discussions over the past few weeks. But as a novel, is it any good? That’s the question.

    Sounds like easy money, for someone. It may not be us, just going with my gut feeling there.

    Better get writing!



  29. @ Lew
    I loved all Nancy Mitford’s novels.


    Hello Chris
    The woods survived the storm okay but there were many large trees down across roads.

    I don’t know whether there are rips around the Island but I used to enjoy swimming with the currents and then coming back through the woods without having to tax myself with the return swim. Thank goodness that Sandra knew how to deal with a rip.


  30. Yo, Chris – Those house price and rent figures are truly terrible. The cry goes up, as down through history: “How are people supposed to live?” I bought some petrol, yesterday. $4.70 a US gallon.

    Re: Tomatoes wrapped in newspapers. You’re supposed to check them, every 20 minutes, and pull out the bad ones. 🙂 Yes, some food preservation techniques can get pretty fiddly. Is it food preservation, or decor?

    I got curious about Kiwi, and why I don’t see more of them around, here. I found this …

    “There is very limited commercial production in the Pacific Northwest because this species is not extremely cold hardy and may suffer cold injury in some years. Cold damage usually occurs when temperatures drop during the night after a warm spell, particularly when vines are not fully dormant (in fall or late winter).”

    Take a look at these pictures, from the flooding in the Central Valley, of California.

    And the record snowfall hasn’t even began to melt, yet. A great deal of our food comes from there.

    I watched a few more lectures from “Banned Books, Burned Books.” They had one entire lecture on The Book That Cannot Be Named. The hero (?) with the initials HC. Didn’t read it. Don’t want to read it. But I at least now, know more about the plot. And, the author.

    Funny the artists I’ve never heard of. “Sacramento Railroad Station, 1874” is one of those busy paintings you can spend a lot of time looking at, and notice all the different details. They also make great subjects for picture puzzles. 🙂

    Time to take H for a perambulation and a trip down to The Club for a cuppa and a good chin wag. It is bucketing down, outside. Lew

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