Vacation Forever

The weird thing about houses costing more each year, is that people think the houses are worth more. It’s the same house isn’t it? You know, the thing which keeps rain off your head. Maybe it’s just me that thinks that a dollar doesn’t buy what it only recently did.

There was a similar mania leading up to the recession we had to have way back in the early 1990’s. With interest rates as high as they were, the idea back then was to chuck your money in the bank. And somehow through the mysteries of mad cash, the stuff would be worth more. The idea has a certain appeal. Why bother producing something, when you can get more mad cash for doing nothing? Heck, the concept beats working for a living, if you can get it to work for you.

In those heady days of distressed grunge music and high interest rates, manufacturing declined. I worked in a few manufacturing businesses over the years and watched the machines being sold off overseas. People got laid off. Goods began to flow in from overseas instead, where labour was cheap and few hard questions were asked about safety and the environment. It was no good, but maybe the outcome was inevitable. Energy is what drives the economy, not houses. Peak production of oil from the local Bass Strait oil fields appears to have peaked in around 1985, and has been in decline ever since. Recent news on that local oil front has not been reassuring.

Nowadays though, we’re much smarter, or at least we’re told that. It’s still all about houses, but the underlying energy story kind of looks much the same to me. Few people even think about energy, it’s just there when you flick a switch, or head down to the local petrol station to get it. But it’s hard not to notice that the stuff is getting more expensive.

I couldn’t quite say for sure where it is all going, after all, I never imagined the economic goals would be pursued with such single minded focus for over twenty six years. It’s quite the achievement really, but all goals are subject to diminishing returns, and houses appear to be unaffordable for many. That’s a consequence. Another consequence is that wealth inequality is rising. There’s been some growth in the number of billionaires, but it’s hard not to notice that rate of homelessness has been rising faster. And let’s not forget the regular articles on the subject of food assistance.

Liveability is on the decline too. On Friday, Sandra had a chance conversation with a photographer over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. She’d come up from the big smoke to photograph the autumn leaf change colours. Her general sense was disappointment about the bonkers volume of tourists which made her job impossible. I on the other hand was distressed that despite aiming for a 3.30pm lunch so as to avoid the crowds, it was very touch and go as to whether we’d get a table. There is nowhere else local to go. Maybe we won’t go in future.

Strange days. Energy has been much on my mind of late. Long term readers will know that a lot of work and resources were put into the solar power system here late last year. A few extra batteries and whole bunch of fuse and wiring upgrades. People complain about their electricity bills, but those bills are peanuts compared to the cost of going off-grid in a reliable manner. Anyway, as part of my analysis of the solar power system, I contacted the manufacturer of our inverter. That’s the machine which converts battery electricity into household mains electricity. It’s locally made too, as are some other important components in the system.

The reason I contacted the manufacturer was that I wanted to get an understanding as to how long any potential repair process would take, and if anyone around these parts could do the work. After all, we’d be without household mains electricity during the time whilst the inverter was being repaired. Turns out the inverter would have to be shipped up north of the country, repaired (they promised a quick turn around), then shipped back here. That’s a problem.

Turns out though, that wasn’t the biggest problem. They’re closing down the business. There was no indication given that the business was to be sold and continued, it was just going to be shut down in about two years, and the word retirement was mentioned. A nice vacation for some! Perhaps the economics of the situation suggests such an outcome?

Mild freak out ensued. If you’re going to have a freak out, it should be over an issue that is worth doing so. Maintaining a calm exterior, I put the suggestion to the manufacturer that it wouldn’t be a bad idea to put together some spare parts kits for off grid people with the knowledge to repair their machines. Not something they do now, but maybe later was the answer. What can you do in such a situation for later will arrive soon? Worse comes to worst, I can open the casing of the machine, take an inventory of the most likely parts which may need replacing, then obtain them. But it’s a complex job and I may miss something. In the meantime, given that it won’t be long before the manufacturer won’t repair the machine, I’d better get a spare. That’s what decline looks like. And decline’s expensive.

Work on the new low gradient path continued this week. When you live on a slope, all weather access becomes important, especially during the winter months. And low gradient paths work under the worst weather conditions.

The new low gradient path project at the beginning of the week

We’re using the project to absorb large rocks. Unfortunately, Peak Rocks is a real thing. In order to obtain rocks for this project we have to either split much larger rocks sitting on the soil surface, or dig up and split much larger rocks. Either way, it’s a lot of work to split rocks. And we finally encountered a large rock above the ground which we weren’t able to split. Don’t worry, we’ll come back to that rock at some point in the future.

This large rock requires much more effort to split

We gave up on that rock, but fortunately there was another large rock nearby which we could split into seven large pieces.

The author rests against what remains of a once large rock. Nemesis in the foreground

In the above photo you can see the large rock which defeated our efforts. We even dug two rocks up out of the paddocks. The things were like the iceberg which took out the Titanic. A tiny little bit above ground, and a whole lot of rock underneath. One such rock was split into two pieces, and another was split into four.

This large rock hiding below ground level was split into two

We were now Rock Wealthy! The rocks were moved to the path project using the yellow power wheelbarrow. Then the rocks were carefully set into place on either side of the path. And of course, that took some more digging to both widen and lower the path.

All fine Kelpie’s know what Rock Wealthy looks like

We put a few days into that work because of the Easter public holidays. There’s no point heading out when the area is over run by tourists. That’s not what I call fun.

The new low gradient path is looking good

The narrowest point of the path is five feet wide and that is due to the kiwi fruit vines which grow either side of the path. Five feet is wide enough to run all of our machines on such a path without trouble.

Looking back towards the house from the present furthest edge of the path

The Easter holidays had some pretty awful weather too. Way too wet to be splitting, placing or hauling rocks. But not wet enough to deter me from climbing up a ladder and fixing the FM Yagi antenna I’d home built many years ago. Unfortunately due to the surrounding mountains, the farm is located in a very poor signal area, and that requires a big antenna to compensate. So many years ago I built a big antenna which was constructed so as to be exactly tuned to the FM broadcast signal from the national youth music broadcaster (Triple J). The antenna worked well, but it was not as good as I’d expected.

Over a few quiet nights I read up on the theory of antenna’s and how they worked. At first glance the antenna seemed to be OK. Rain fell. I ended up getting wet, high up on a ladder in the rain. But the effort was worth it, because I discovered that I’d accidentally shorted out what is technically known as the ‘Driven Element’. But in less technical terms is known as ‘stuffing up the construction’. It happens. The design was slightly modified to correct the short, the antenna was placed back up on the roof – in the rain – and the signal now comes in loud and clear. Yay!

There wouldn’t be too many Triple J tuned, 5 element Yagi FM antennas around

We began work on a new concrete staircase which is not far away from the new low gradient path project.

A new concrete staircase begins

The lids of the steel rock gabion cages for the machine service and inspection pit were all sewn up. The idea is to drive machines onto the gabion surface so that I can see what is going on underneath the machines, and repair them without fear of the things falling and squooshing me. I’m not into that possibility.

The new machinery inspection and service pit is now complete

The growing season here has been very short thanks to a combination of La Nina, the Indian Ocean Dipole, and the Southern Annular Mode climate drivers which have all conspired to produce a bonkers wet and cold summer. Thanks dudes! Some tomatoes have ripened, but we’ve decided to experiment with an old timer method to get tomatoes ripened. The method involves digging the plant up, cleaning the root system, removing all of the leaves, then hanging the plant upside down. We may have inadvertently become involved in some sort of weird voodoo ritual, but hey, it might just work. We have to do something with all this green fruit.

Old timer knowledge or pure Voodoo – not sure

You can see that the excessive rain has produced huge zucchini, but also cracked the skins. We’ll find out how they store. They might be fine.

Huge zucchini, cracked skins due to excessive water

The ferns sure love the damp conditions here. The tree fern planted two weeks ago now has a companion slowly unfurling frond.

Fern Cam TM tells no lies

Onto the err, leaf change. Yes, it’s pretty, but so many tourists detract from that experience. Limits might be handy.

Smoke Bush + Persimmon + Japanese Maple + Sugar Maple
Japanese Maple + Sugar Maple

Yes, yes, yes. Grump, grump, grump!

Onto the flowers:

Nasturtium have established themselves here in the garden beds
This Climbing Rose rambles all over one of the garden beds
The Roses are getting near to the end of the season

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 9’C (49’F). So far this year there has been 253.6mm (10.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 196.4mm (7.7 inches)

55 thoughts on “Vacation Forever”

  1. Yo, Chris – You needed a lot of mad cash, to make mad cash. Victorian novels were always banging on about “not touching the principle,” and living off the interest. But sooner or later, someone would have a pressing need (maybe a yacht, setting up a mistress or gambling debts), the principle would be depleted, and ruin would follow. Or maybe, (horrors), getting a real job would be in of offing.

    goods would begin to flow in from overseas. And a good thing too, as all the higher paying manufacturing jobs, were gone. A person might be employed, but at a much less wage.

    Maybe it’s a bit … hopeful, to expect a table at the hight of leaf pepper season. Best stay home for the duration.

    Maybe the solar people were being undercut by foreign imports. I wonder if there are any tariffs, on those sort of things.

    Peak rocks? But you keep coming up with them. Maybe the same thing will happen, with oil? 🙂 Maybe Melville’s “Moby Dick,” would have been more successful, when it came out, if he had titled it “Nemesis.”

    The low gradient ramp is shaping up to be just lovely. Once the tree fern does it’s thing, and the succulents go in, it will be quit striking.

    Your antenna looks very retro. Just the thing to pull in retro music.

    Another staircase? Needs, must. Looking back, you could have named your place, “Staircase Farm.” Sounds more melodic than “Low Gradient Ramp Farm.” 🙂

    Thanks for the leaf change photos. And I can sit right here in the comfort of my chair, and not brave the elements or burn up a lot of gas. Or clutter up the local.

    Lots of Nasturtiums come up in Elenor’s bed. Which draw a lot of aphids. Which draw a lot of ladybugs. Vast panorama of nature, and all that.

    The roses are lovely. I forgot to mention that the Master Gardeners put on a rose seminar, here, yesterday. I didn’t attend, but happened to glance in, later. There must have been 25 or 30 people attending. When I hacked back a bit of a wild rose, from a blackberry, I was told that I should have done it in another season. But they have been hacking at roses, for a couple of weeks now. And pruned a few more for the demo. I guess it’s, “Don’t do as I do, do as I say?” Oh, well. I still like them, anyway. Lew

  2. Hi Inge,

    There are times I believe that big storms are natures pruning tool. The fallen trees opens up the forest and also feed the soil. Roads and fallen trees don’t necessarily mix all that well though. It’s funny too, up here I reckon less than half the population have the skills, energy and machines to deal with fallen trees. Out of curiosity, has the population of your island increased over your time there? What’s interesting about here is that there are more permanent residents than probably ever before, but I can see some dwindling away now back into the cities. You know, a place over there turns into short term accommodation. Another place gets sold and converts to a weekender. That sort of thing is slowly happening around here. I have an odd hunch that a disaster here may lower property prices and bring in more younger folks.

    Lovely! And wise of you to know the currents well enough to be able to take advantage of the free energy. 🙂 Sandra was oblivious to the rip, but the locals knew of it. The funny thing is the rip runs between the beach and a swimming pontoon – which may not be there any more. Port Phillip Bay is huge.

    I used to do some ocean swimming with competitive triathlons and recall swimming through a err, swarm of jellyfish. The first I knew of the jellyfish was when my swimming arm landed upon one. That was a fun swim – were they poisonous or not worried me. Fortunately the answer was no. Do you get sharks in the waters around your island?



  3. Hi Margaret,

    Lovely to hear from you. An Easter for 30 is far more busy than my mind could possibly ever envisage. Your hosting skills no doubt, do you credit. Our skills extend to about the early teens with the number of guests. The kid is made of tough stuff, he has to be with that track record! Well done him 🙂 Hope Marty recovers well and speedily.

    80’F is such a delightful temperature. Hot, but not too hot and the plants lap up the energy. Candidly, as we slide into winter, it’s nice to hear about warmer weather in your part of the world. Thanks for sharing a little bit of sunshine. What? Did you say snow? Oh, that’s not good. That sort of weather wiped out half of the fruit crops here last year. Seriously, no apricots, almonds, nectarines, peaches, plums, cherries. All gone, oh well, next year. And fingers crossed that the snow does not eventuate for you.

    Nice one! Hows the range of hearing with the devices? Like can you hear the highs and lows, or are they better at picking up voices?

    How’s the book shop going?

    We dehydrated some of the grapes, and are really impressed with the taste. But, the thing is they don’t look as dry as commercial sultana’s so we’re not entirely certain how long they’ll last. Might use some of them in the next batch of Anzac biscuits. The rest of the grapes we’ll juice up and see how they go. Dunno. Might not be enough this year to produce a worthwhile quantity.

    Ha! Is it worth running the border for the cheap gas?



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that’s been remarked upon before. And the awful truth slipped out somewhere a few years ago when it was remarked upon publicly from high places that with wealth, much depends upon the luck of familial good fortune where a person finds themselves. That always suggested to me that wealth inequality was expected to increase in the future. It’s funny you say that, but in the book ‘Jane Eyre’, which I read recently, the unpleasant family which young Jane found herself in, eventually beggared themselves by supporting a first born son who fell into dodgy company and was hell bent on carousing. It sounded like fun, until the money was no longer forthcoming. There would have always have been civil service or the military, if they’d have them. Not always a meritocracy in those days.

    Casting the mind back to those days of the shut down with manufacturing, was that plenty of people retired early. My mother wasn’t much older than I am now, when she retired, and I’m probably going to have to keep on workin’ right up to the bitter end. But those days were also the early days of the retraining education markets, and I recall that industry being pushed heavily. Re-skilling may have been how they called it back then.

    Man, you got me there. We’d come to the same conclusion about getting a table being a bit hopeful at this time of year. The risk the business runs is that the locals may break the habit of frequenting. The tourists hordes aren’t consistent customers. I reckon the local pub has a bit of that problem too. Once the pub was put up for sale, I noticed a downturn in local custom some nights. The thing is, it’s not lost on me that if locals don’t support local businesses, they may go away. I’m sure you’ve see local business interests decline in favour of the big box store outer edges of town model?

    I doubt that there are tariffs on the technology device imports. I’ve never understood the aversion to tariffs, but then the enduring appeal of discount shopping, huh? It’s pretty brutal, and a community then becomes dependant on imports. This is a story which will unwind messily, it already is.

    I may have to make peace with the solar dudes (not that we had a falling out, more a minor misunderstanding) and see what products they have. I got an email from them the other day saying that they’d taken over the business from the original owner. They’re pretty cool those solar dudes and last I checked we were all cool.

    Ha! Me thinks not. Sorry. I can use solar derived electricity to dig, drill and split rocks. Oil probably needs vast quantities of oil to extract more oil. It’s a problem, but yeah, very funny. Peak Rocks is real – you heard it here first.

    That was news to me. Mr Melville’s great work, got slam dunked by many of the critics. Then bizarrely, after the author was departed, the literary world decided to amend the wrong it had perpetuated. The cheeky scamps. Your alternative title suits the work. We’ve all met one of those…

    Thanks for writing that. I’m rather pleased with the result of the works there. We’re in the process of cleaning up that entire area, and the path really needed doing so as to provide for an alternative winter access. You may have noticed that it can rain here quite a bit from time to time? Watching the tree fern fronds slowly unfurl over the days is quite fascinating.

    Yes, all very amusing. Retro music indeed. 🙂

    There is some merit to the name ‘staircase farm’, although the locals might get confused as to the meaning. They might think that we’re social climbing?

    We went to the pub for a dinner and pint this evening. It was rather quiet, which we enjoyed. Mate, there’s gotta be some middle ground in that whole story, or are we as a species burdened with a curse to go from one extreme to the other (or to an other etc.)? Nothing wrong with nasturtiums, and the seeds aren’t all that different from capers.

    Who knew that there even was a correct season for pruning roses? Most plants seem OK with being occasionally hacked back. I have this odd hunch that plants once had to accommodate megafauna, and compared to what those monsters could do, a bit of pruning is no big deal. Even pruning the fruit trees here is an all year around job. It gets done when there is time to do so, otherwise the job doesn’t get done. You have reminded me though, I do need to get a decent book on the subject of pruning of fruit trees – hopefully an idiots guide or something like that. Have you ever come across such a book and would recommend it?

    It’s a bit of a problem really. So, the minimum wage is $21.38 per hour, so say with two people working 8 hours a day, 5 days per week and 52 weeks per year. Calculation now being performed. ick, tick, tick. Back of envelope style… … $956k median house price assuming no tax, err: 10.75 years where nothing was spent on anything else. Honestly, the couple would die of starvation at that rate. It’s a long time between meals. Renting would be cheaper for the couple, if they could actually get a place. I hear that vacancy rates are low. A whole bunch of people arrive each year and it just keeps wages low and prices up. The whole mess is utterly bonkers, but as I mentioned people seem good with it. But I dunno man…

    Checking tomatoes wrapped in newspaper every twenty minutes would soon find me going off and doing something else with my time. 🙂 Who comes up with this stuff anyway? As to the threading of chilli’s and hanging them in the kitchen – I reckon decor. Way too labour intensive for me, but 100% for pure aesthetics. Garlic is easier to tie into plaits.

    Interesting about the kiwi fruit vines. I guess they’d know. But I’m not seeing that happening here with them, and it can get to 28’F, which is below freezing – and you see how the temperatures see-saw here. I dunno.

    Those pictures from California were horrific. And the worry about the snow melt to come, is most certainly warranted, and what I’d probably describe as a real worry. The thing is though, the ground has receded as the water table lowered due to over pumping, and that area probably enjoyed highly fertile soils for many decades because it used to be a lake. Now it’s a lake again. It happens. But what a great tragedy.

    Is HC a hero? Perhaps an anti-hero? Hmm. He seemed a bit whiny. So I’m curious, what was their take on the book – and was it actually banned? Ooo, well I never. The thing was even banned here between 1956 and 1957. Crazy days. And a communist plot? I’ve been forced to read it more than once, and I certainly didn’t see any communists mentioned – or their nefarious plotting and scheming. Why ever would such types bother with a book as dreary as the book which shall not be named? Hope the author was OK from it all? That reaction couldn’t have been good. They were pretty crazy in your country about such political leanings back in the day.

    Hey, the detail which got my interest was the earnest looking bloke who appears to have the underside of his travel case fall out – along with all the contents. And the kids are just standing there looking at it all and you can’t see their expressions. It’s quite a detailed scene.

    Enjoy your perambulation. Not a word you hear used much these days, but it’s a goodie.



  5. Hi, Chris!

    Nothing has value but the value that someone puts on it. And you are so right – energy drives the economy, even down to just physical human energy.

    I did make some smallish, but steady, returns in the 90’s on savings accounts and certificates of deposit.

    It’s about houses partly because we have lots of houses, and lots of them are for sale, not even counting the enormous number of ones that have been bought up by investment firms that sit empty.

    Oh, yeah – those of us on the electric grids have been seriously spoiled.

    I am really sorry to hear about the manufacturer closing that business. Try not to worry. Someone else may yet buy it or the owner may find that his retirement vacation is not going to fund itself and keep it going. There is also the business north of you that does repairs; perhaps they could be of help in the future, or at least have some advice.

    We are stone wealthy. We have millions of small stones over and under every inch of ground. That is why our area is called Stony Point.

    I like to read about the early radio systems. Your antenna is a classic with a touch of Chris – I mean class!

    That is now becoming a handsome fern and no longer a monster.

    Beautiful autumn leaves! I am ready to plant my nasturtiums. Yellow roses – a nice change. Thanks for the flowers!


  6. Yo, Chris – Yes, there was a lot of banging on about re-skilling, or retraining, here. Everyone was going to become a computer programmer, and then that got off shored.

    Buy local. Nice idea, if there’s follow through. Which, as I discovered to my chagrin, didn’t happen.

    LOL. Yes, yes. Peak rocks. Heard it here first. And second. And third. 🙂

    I thought social climbing involved ladders? 🙂 I’m watching the third (and final) season of “Sanditon.” It was an unfinished novel, that Austen left behind, when she died. She had completed a good chunk of it, so, it wasn’t too hard to spin out the characters to a logical “Jane” like conclusion. Everyone is always banging on about “how many pounds a year” this character or that has.

    If you had a manor, and were blessed with a lot of boys, of course someone got the land. Then there was, as you mentioned, the military or civil service. Also, the clergy and law. Maybe the medical field. And then there were the Remittance Men. A jolly bunch, I think. Read a book about them, decades ago.

    Women didn’t have so many options. Marry well, or become a governess. If a family had the means, they might take in spare females. You could aspire to be the crazy old aunt, in the attic.

    At least here, roses had a kind of pruning season. After a couple of frosts, it was time to prune the roses. Pretty much hack them to within five or six inches, of the ground. And mound up a bit of soil around the base. Sunset (Magazine) books (Lane Publishing Co.) has a good pruning book. It’s been through many editions. Ortho also puts out a good looking pruning book. There’s always U-Tub.

    The Book That Cannot Be Named, has been banned many times, in many places, for many reasons, over time. Someone went to the trouble of counting all the G-Ds. 200+. Then there’s his run in with a working girl. Lack of respect for “authority” was another big reason. That runs as a theme, through many book banns.

    The lectures are really pretty fun, as there’s plenty of crazy to go around, both from the left and the right. I’m learning the roots of some terms. “Bowdlerize.” Thomas Bowdler decided Shakespeare wasn’t family friendly, so, he took out all the good parts. 🙂 Our president Thomas Jefferson took a bible, and cut out all the miracles.

    Last night, there was a lecture on how fairy tales have been watered down, or outright banned for one reason or another. “Little Red Riding Hood,” and “The Three Little Pigs” are frequently banned.

    There was a lecture on children’s classics that have problems. “Alice in Wonderland” is high on the list. There was a lecture on authors who self censor. Burn their own manuscripts, letters, diaries.

    There wasn’t a time I took out H, yesterday, that it wasn’t pouring down. More of the same, today. “Possible Snow” in the forecast for tomorrow morning. Though the temps aren’t down to freezing. “Little or No Accumulation.” Lew

  7. Hi Chris,
    I think having a spare of anything that’s essential is very prudent.

    Interesting about ripening the tomato plants. I’ll be interested to hear the outcome.

    Yes 30 people for Easter was a bit much but many spent most of the time outside as it’s been such a cold spring so far that everyone was anxious to finally get outside. Doug, being the cook that he is went way overboard and then afterwards complained about how much work it was. He requested someone set up a gourmet bloody mary bar but then did all the planning. Luckily Carla and her husband were up to the task. He picked a side counter in the kitchen to set it up and then afterwards complained that everyone congregated in the kitchen. I did point out that he had picked the spot. When I say gourmet this is what it included in addition to the usual vodka, bloody mary mix, pickles, celery and olives (3 kinds) there was sliders, bacon, shrimp, marinated mushrooms and asparagus, cheeses, sausages, sweet peppers and tomatoes for charcuterie skewers – basically a meal. Then he roasted a leg of lamb, put a ham on the smoker and made eggs benedict with homemade hollandaise sauce. Well you get the picture. Everyone else brought desserts, sides and appetizers.

    Yep it snowed last night and this morning but the pavement was warm enough that the roads weren’t an issue. Nothing has bloomed yet so we’re OK there.

    The hearing aids pick up everything and are programmed to you specific need. My hearing of low tones is fine but high tones was pretty diminished. I walked outside one morning without them and then with them and wow what a difference. I knew I was missing many bird calls. I can keep going back to get them adjusted as I use them in different situations. Last night was my book club in an often noisy restaurant. It was much better than in the past. If there’s noise that’s annoying you can just turn them down.

    The book store is doing quite well. It was really busy the week of spring break. I’m always glad to see kids coming in for books. We also sell used DVDs and CDs. Someone brought in a ton of CD’s, I’m talking hundreds and we sold quite a few of those for $1 each. Also had our end of the month sale where they were 4/$1. There were people who walked out with 40+ CDs. I found a few myself.

    I’m back to monitoring the bluebird trail at the conservation district. Sure glad tomorrow will be in the mid 50’s for my weekly trek out there.

    I’m glad there’s no tourist attractions near me. What a pain!


  8. Energy- yeah, the central driving force of nature and all our human endeavors, and it’s so universal, it’s hiding in plain sight. Like fish swimming in water.

    By coincidence, we had a late spring heavy wet snow yesterday evening that brought tree limbs down on power lines and we were without power for a while. Put on the headlamps and kept reading.

    No panic here, we just wondered if we ought to see if the utility knew, so they could fix it, ( power is actually very reliable here, so don’t even know how they find these things out). Other than that, we just went to bed.

    But it did give pause for bit, when I thought whether we might get a few more things in place in case of truly extended loss. We still need to expand the backup water system. Sticking a straw in the well casing would not be fun. We’re unlikely to build as impressive a tank farm as chez fern glade, but we do need more storage.

    A website you might peruse to consider some possible plan B options should inverters become scarce.

    If I haven’t mentioned them before, they are doing some unique stuff with DC power straight off the array.

    All the brassicas, peppers, tomatoes and okra seeds are now planted in the starter trays, and as soon as this snow melts, will be putting the onions outside to start hardening off.

    The throttle cable on my tiller went bad, so am waiting on a part, but will start turning in the mulched leaves in the garden and knocking back the weeds. Will be at least a month till frost risk is over and the soil is warm enough for transplanting.

  9. Chris,

    Nemesis Rock is rather largish. It looks nasty. I can almost imagine that Nemesis Rock has mean beady eyes and a malicious smirk.

    Oh, cute idea! The old lady and the fly song morphing into Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow due to horsemeat. Brilliant!

    We had a few minutes of rain Sunday. More is forecast overnight Monday. The winter was cold enough for long enough that many plants haven’t shown signs of life yet. I’m rather concerned with most of the heather and with the 2 hawthorn trees. They all usually have pink flowers by now but seem to be in rather a sulk about the winter.

    Your story about the leaf tourists and the crowded local eatery reminded me of something. I’ve been in the area north of Seattle twice during their “tulip festival” season and avoided the festival both times. Lot of fields filled with blooming tulips are apparently very beautiful, but the crowds are such that only someone crazy would brave the traffic. And the local business and eateries I’ve heard get crowded beyond reason. Then the weekends happen and it’s much worse. My sympathies to you during leaf season.

    Our family situation is threatening to explode again. A close friend announced Sunday that his health is failing. The Princess is very upset and worried. Then we found out Monday morning that her oldest sister (all of her sisters are younger than the Princess) is in very dire straits. The problem is easily treated at hospital, but it’s a matter of getting her to go to hospital. So after 3 nights at home in the past 3 weeks, the Princess is back on the road for emergencies again. Ugh.

    Thanks for the flower photos. With our late and bleak spring, the photos are very treasured and welcomed here.

    Those low gradient paths are looking good. Lotta work but definitely worth the effort. There is barely functional, then there is very functional, then there is extremely functional with the added benefit of looking good. Congrats on achieving that third level. If you live there, it might as well look good and be superbly functional.


  10. Hi Chris,

    What beautiful autumn leaves in your pictures! No wonder you don’t need to go leaf peeping anywhere else.

    The county mailed us a card to tell us the assessed value of our house is up, meaning our property taxes will go up. They might as well join the fun and go up along with everything else.

    We had warmer than normal weather last week, which has caused the leaves to open up on the trees. Now it’s nail-biting time. Will we get a freeze that kills the leaves, or not? It’s supposed to get quite cold this weekend and the local weather forecasters are already talking about the possibility of a frost or freeze. I’ve planted seedlings that can tolerate that (lettuce, cabbage, bok choy, leeks). The tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants remain on the front porch. I don’t expect to plant them till around the first of May, maybe later if the weather is cooler than normal. We have had frost as late as the second week of May, though I haven’t experienced it being that cold that late. Usually our last frost is sometime in April.


  11. Hi Lewis,

    Proving that things are different down here, I recall that after the car industry shut down, there were heaps of advertisements to re-train people to become personal trainers, as in the sort of folks who work in a gym and/or take physical training classes. I don’t really know how that all worked out, but I did wonder who the intended market for all these personal trainers was? You can take a guess though.

    And yeah, that buying local works, when the local business continues. If it doesn’t continue, that’s a problem. I had that issue with the local stock feed supplier. I’ve had relationships with two suppliers now, and both folded. I now go to the big branded stock feed store now, because clearly it is a difficult market. They always ask me for my phone number – just to attach the purchase to a name, and I don’t want the advertising.

    Speaking of information gathering, holy carp! I was listening to the youth national music broadcasters half hour youth news program this evening. So it turns out that if you want to apply for a rental you have to join onto some app which requires lots of identification. Heavy stuff like passports. Not good on many fronts. But then there is a rumour that the algorithm for the apps (note use of plural) that they scan your social media and calculate your ability to pay – or allegedly pay more. Mate, I’d heard it said that applying for a rental is like joining in the hunger games, but that was all news to me. Also the app charges applicants for background checks. Technology, you’ve done it again (as in Mr Magoo!)

    Sometimes a person has to harp on about Peak Rocks, lest folks forget and think we have a surfeit of rocks up our sleeve. I’m not made of rocks you know. 😉

    How funny is that? The Victorian folks prided themselves on not discussing sex, but they sure could talk money. Probably neither are suitable subjects for refined persons at table, but I’d be certain that a suitors wealth status was well understood. It was not lost on me that a bit of misinformation along those lines cooled an otherwise ardent suitor in the Jane Eyre novel. Funnily enough, I’m less interested in what people earn, and more interested in how they spend. Most people seem to want more income, but as a strategy there is a lot of competition.

    For a second there, I thought a remittance man was a person who worked as a debt collector, but no, the man in this instance was collecting upon an obligation on the understanding he stayed away permanently. A debt collector at least is a person who can work, those remittance fellows were often under a cloud of dubiousness.

    I’ve always had the impression that social mobility was very low in that Victorian era, and only a few lucky and/or talented individuals managed to climb the social ranks. Not that much different to today.

    Just had to interrupt replying to take tomorrow’s loaf of bread out of the oven. Thanks for the book suggestion and I’ll have a good look at them over the next few days. Standing the test of time with multiple editions is the sign of a good book. Yeah, I agree utboob is a resource, but only so much screen time and a book can be enjoyed with a coffee, whereas screen time requires a different sort of attention and focus.

    Let’s face it Holden, you’ve always been something of a problem! 🙂 Ooo, sounds like the words of Dexter! Not sure what was going on there with that mis-quote. An unpalatable perspective is that authority should be self evident and not require censorship driven by insecurities. The two outcomes are mutually exclusive.

    Shakespeare would be very dull without all of the blood and guts. Glad Mr Bowlder didn’t get his mits on Beowulf. Imagine the damage he’d do. The denizens of the mead hall would be first confused with the changes – then angry – then, well we all know what might happen then. What? That’s just plain old silly. Have your earlier Presidents nothing better to do with their time? Makes you wonder what the bloke feared?

    Yes, I spoke to you about that subject years ago when we discussed the Brothers Grimm tales. I had the sense that they’d been watered down for their audience.

    Hehe! Yes, warning – frequent drug usage. 🙂 Makes you wonder why the wowsers hadn’t yet worked it out about that book and plastered a big sticky warning label on the front cover. Probably hadn’t read it. Your freedom of speech allows you to say things in your country, that I’d get stomped upon way hard here. Even agreeing to any claims is a problem. So yeah, self censor is an option. Oh well, moving on, nothing to see here. The Code of Conduct is a serious document.

    The words possible snow conjure up images of impossible snowfall. That’s the sort which may happen, and yet doesn’t. Hopefully the impossible snowman stays away from your area. Could be bad.



  12. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, the concept of speculation as a strategy makes me feel very uncomfortable. We’ve always purchased a run down house – or a cheap block of land, then done something with that using our own resources and mostly done all the work ourselves. Something sitting there doing nothing and being worth more, just sets off alarm bells to me that the value of a dollar is declining. And yup, energy is everything. Glad to hear that you get-it. 🙂 Most people don’t really understand the how that all works. I read a lot about the subject when I first learned of it way back in 2004. Nothing since then has changed my mind, but on this subject, I’d really like to be wrong.

    I agree, even food is energy.

    Well done, didn’t we all. I sort of prefer the tortoise over the hare.

    Gee, I didn’t know that. Interesting. The supply of houses down here is very tight. I wonder why so many houses in your area would be up for sale?

    Hehe! Pam, the grid is really good. So good that most folks might not appreciate just how good it is. That’s why they talk so much rubbish about it, they don’t know. I’m not entirely convinced that most folks would enjoy the limits we experience. Nature provides energy when she will, and not one second earlier.

    Ah, it’s the same business – they make them, and they repair them. You now see why I’m a touch concerned about the subject. The talk of selling the business was non-existent.

    Remember to not count your stones before they’re recovered and in a more pleasing arrangement. I just made that up, does it work? 🙂 The name is a dead give-away, but think of the potential gabions. So much landscaping possibilities.

    Yeah, what interests me about the early radio systems was that there was a great element of Do-It-Yourself to the technology. Back when AM stereo transmissions briefly became a thing, I constructed a little kit receiver for the AM stereo decoder. All good fun. Do you see the DIY element present in your reading?

    Hehe! The tree fern is loving the condition, and looking into the crown I spotted another two fronds slowly beginning to unfurl. I planted a few Japanese maple shrubs near to the ferns and I hope they eventually overhang the drainage basin. It’ll look really cool.

    Do any nasturtium seeds survive the winter in place? The plants produce heaps of seeds from what I’ve observed.



  13. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and that obtaining a spare is behind the recent concern about the technology. There’s little point operating upon a knife edge, no matter how resilient the technology is. It’s a long way to the shop if you want a spare.

    Who knows how the tomato experiment will work out? It’s worth the attempt though.

    Honestly, it sounded like fun – except for all the running around and hard work. The food and drink sounded great, and I’m now salivating and that’s despite having just consumed dinner (a baked cauliflower and cheese casserole – yum). The smoked ham sounds delectable – I assume it was from one of your former piggies? Smoking the meat takes the meal to eleven!

    Oh, has nothing bloomed yet? That sounds really late to me, but I could be misunderstanding your growing season. Has the weather been cold right up to the recent warm spell? (which clearly nature put on for your party)

    The devices are better than I’d imagined them to be if they can be adjusted to your specific needs. Pretty clever really. And glad to read that the world of bird has re-opened for you.

    Margaret, truly, I could think of some very useful times when turning the noise down in a public space would be the way to go. I understand that children have to exercise their lungs, but it is very difficult to read when the poor things are doing so at excessive volume and for extended periods of time. You can simply switch that gear way down. 😉

    It is a great thing seeing kids getting into reading. Good for them, reading is a lifelong pleasure. Wow, that’s pretty good value for the DVD’s and CD’s and also it’s nice that they’re getting a second life.

    Hope the walk is nice on the trail and that you spot plenty of bird life. And I agree, hot weather is not pleasant for walking long distances.

    It is a pain, but what do you do? We tend to bear the costs, with little to no benefit that I can discern.



  14. Hi Steve,

    Thanks for the link, and I enjoyed the insights in your essay. I hadn’t realised you also used to read Jason’s blog. He’s alright and I’ve enjoyed many a good chat with him over the years. And mate, the grid as a system is so good that to me people either take it for granted, or heap beliefs upon it. Maybe it’s as good as it can ever be?

    Yikes! Yes, it’s always a bit confronting when the power goes out. Hope none of your trees had produced blossoms yet? Everything here would be either in blossom, or leafing out if things were upside down.

    The soil here doesn’t hold water above ground, so the tanks are kind of necessary. Might add on one or two more this year. But yes, the use of well pumps is something which makes me feel very uncomfortable. The water has to come up quite a ways, through a narrow pipe I’d imagine? Water bores around these parts are crazy deep. Well past 100m+. Hmm.

    Thanks to the link for the website. Hmm. They do use batteries, and prefer the very long lasting nickel-iron batteries. Those batteries are a very old technology, and suffer from voltage drop under load, but hey, they’ll last – probably longer than the solar panels will, by a few decades I’m guessing. It’s an option what that lot are doing.

    Good stuff! And I look forward to reading about your harvest and growing season. The tray of green mustard seeds germinated this morning in the greenhouse, and hopefully the red mustard and kale aren’t too far behind. They all survive the winter weather here and get sweeter after frosts as starches convert to sugars so as to lower the freezing point of the plant. Clever plants huh?

    Tillers are so good. How’s yours compared to the scary old second hand machine I picked up late last year? The thing is a beast at 7.5hp.

    It’s always interesting to read about the different growing seasons we’ve all adapted too and are learning from.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Now that you mention it, there was this weird chortling sound emanating from near to the nemesis rock when we announced we’d give up on it. Hopefully the rock can’t read the interweb and know our plans to come back and get it. Take that ya pesky rock! Of course we might have to walk away all defeated and stuff again.

    Mate, don’t you just want to blow the thing up? How cool would that be.

    Hehe! Thanks. I understand that plenty of cultures consume horse meat, but I dunno, that long retreat would have been brutal. What amazed me was that even after that epic loss, the guy still got new recruits. Makes no sense to me, how about you?

    Ah, a long winter perhaps? It’s hard to know what the growing season will be like in advance. Maybe in your area, it will be like a switch gets flicked and spring arrives suddenly? What do you reckon the likelihood of that will be?

    Thank you for understanding the problem. And that is exactly how it looks to the locals. It just makes no sense, why promote this deluge? I dunno. Years ago we went to a heritage apple festival at a place in the big smoke called Petty’s Orchard. It’s a beautiful and hidden gem. Then somehow the thing got advertised. And oh my, the next year we turned up, got sort of close, then turned around and headed home.

    Mate, I’m so sorry and can only wish for you both that the circumstances calm down a bit. Candidly my gut feeling is not good based on what you’ve written over the past few months, so brace yourself. Sometimes, this is how life goes. All you can do is support and be there as a shoulder to lean upon, other than that, people take their own paths and maybe that’s what they want.

    Expect more photos! The old bee guy I knew years ago, encouraged me to plant out all the flowering plants for the bees, and now I just like them for their own sake. That’s what becoming an old fella looks like! 🙂

    Thanks and the third level is what we’re aiming for with the project, but most projects get that treatment. The author Gene Logsdon once wrote that once years ago farms used to have a pleasing look to them and there’s no reason why they shouldn’t, except plenty do. An astute observation upon the world of economics don’t you reckon?



  16. Hi Claire,

    Thank you. The effect is beautiful, and over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range with the older and more established gardens, it really is pretty. The sheer volume of people however detracts from the otherwise pleasing effect, if only because the area was never intended to cater for such massed tourism. It’s not abig theme park thing like Dismayland (!), it’s peoples gardens. I’m of the belief that the underlying energy story will eventually sort it all out.

    Sorry to hear that about the property taxes. For your interest, the local council here is limited to a 5% maximum annual increase (which doubles every fifteen or sixteen years), but you know, the same thing is a risk here too with the property re-valuations. I recall one of the concerns with the recession in the 1990’s was that a lot of old timers who were cash poor, were unable to pay their property taxes, and then the properties got sold. Hmm. Nowadays I believe they’ve promised not to evict people behind on their rates, but I have no doubts they’d come for the assets of the estate.

    It needn’t be this way, sorry to say, but the vast majority seem to want the easy path, and unfortunately that causes inflation. For all I know, it may be the better option. Dunno.

    Good timing with the plantings, and it might surprise you to know that plenty of those plants will survive the winters here (although outside the greenhouse they won’t do much more than survive). I’m germinating kale and mustard seeds right now, and hope it isn’t too late. I find that the leaves survive such frosts, but not the blossoms. The smarter fruit trees like apples and pears tend to produce leaves first and blossoms second, but all the risky ones here do things the other way around. Fingers crossed that your trees are fine.

    We’re set for a dry and sunny (but cool) next seven days – then more rain.



  17. Chris:

    From what I’ve read, from the turn of the twentieth century through the 1930s, a lot of people built their own radios. Teenage boys especially come to mind. It was the only way they could afford it and they could make them do more, like send and receive.

    No, nasturtiums do not survie our winters.

    Yesterday I bought a little wheelbarrow cart (it’s kind of a combination) for my daughter-in-law and me to use as we have a hard time with the big wheelbarrow on these hills. It has a yellow handle so I call it Little Yellow. Reminds me of you and Sandra!


  18. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … I’ve never seen, but have heard of wells, in this county, that also have an added hand pump. Those folks with foresight, have them.

    Nasturtiums. Eleanor has some in her stock tank, raised bed. They transferred quit successfully from the old bed. Without any effort. They produce a lot of seeds, and come up, year after year. In fact, I have to hack them back, from time to time.

    Early radio systems. Can we forget crystal radio sets? I seem to remember that one of your early employers carried them, at least into the 1950s and 60s.

    Apps. The noose tightens. I’ve read a couple of articles, that in The Land of Stuff, they are assigning people “social quotient” scores. Here, we have three major “credit reporting bureaus.” They assign you a number, based on your credit history. Seems like they get hacked, a lot. It can effect everything from ability to rent, to utilities. If you have to pay a large deposit, or not. I wonder how long I’ll be able to hold out?

    Well, at least personal trainers probably can’t be outsourced overseas. So far. Here we also have “life coaches.” Which seems to be fairly unregulated. Not many occupations where you can just hang out a shingle, these days.

    Seems like, in Victorian times, most of the discussion of income (and potential suitors), took place behind ladies’ fans. 🙂 Men seemed to consult their female relatives, over the suitability of of potential mates. As far as their income went. I finished watching “Sanditon”, last night. Everybody lived happily ever after. Just like real life! 🙂

    I though maybe Claire would come up with some other pruning book possibilities. The one’s I mentioned have good illustrations, clear instructions, and, good indexes.

    Oh, Jefferson wasn’t afraid of anything. He was just a man of The Enlightenment. If it couldn’t be scientifically quantified, it didn’t exist. Of course, Mr. Greer would probably think they went to far.

    Well, when “Alice in Wonderland,” came out in Victorian times, you could pop down to the neighborhood chemist, and buy an array of opiates. 🙂 According to the lecture, the whistle was blown, in the 1960s. When the musical group “Jefferson Airplane,” came up with “White Rabbit.” Which I still find quit stirring. A real anthem. Oh, heck, why not ….

    Whinge Alert!!! Well, I think I finally finished my yearly housing recertification. Once again, Little Mary Sunshine, our building manager, had faxed my credit union, four times, and received no response. You know, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results. You’d think after the second go-around, she might have given them a call ….

    So, it’s either come up with the extensive figures, or be evicted. I plugged in as many as I could, from my on-line statements. But some… “Average checking account balance for six months?” Why? Anyway. So down I went to my credit union, negotiating the Traffic Circle of Death, in a blinding rainstorm.

    Took them about 20 minutes to figure out all that was required, and getting a signature from a bank officer. I really wonder what some of the old dears, do, that live here, and aren’t quit as … compos mentis. Per usual, Little Mary Sunshine wasn’t in her office, when I returned, so, I put it in an envelope, and slipped it under her door.

    Seems to get more complicated, every year. And more and more of it offloaded on us. PS: The credit union doesn’t use fax, anymore. Just e-mail.

    H and I went down for biscuits and gravy this morning, and a fine meal it was. Lew

  19. Chris,

    Of course, you can try a plan b and a plan c on Nemesis Rock. You can even try to blow it up, which would be very fun. (You’d have to post a video.) Alternatively, you can leave the rock alone as it currently stands. Why? As a sign of limits.

    Some people just have those magnetic personalities and can attract followers no matter how badly they have screwed things up. I’ve met a few. Napoleon seems to have been one of those. Having a largely skeptical outlook helps to be immune to those types.

    There’s an extremely good chance that one day it will be windy, cloudy, dripping at about +10C. Two days later it will be a blistering 21C with nary a hint of breeze and warming rapidly from there. It has happened before. Having typed that, I looked at the 15 day forecast. Indeed, that is about what is being forecast. Jings, it was +7C and spitting snow on our walk this afternoon. And windy. We’re having typical March weather in April.

    Weird, isn’t it? Local events, especially harvest oriented, are a joy to attend. Then one year you show up and find that the event has been DISCOVERED and the unclean hordes who don’t know how to either enjoy it or be respectful to others have taken it over and ruined it.

    We used to attend an orchard area’s annual summer event to celebrate the cherry harvest. All proceeds went to help the local fire department. While it did draw a large crowd, it was fun and had a local flavor to it. Then one year, the original organizers retired, the old bluegrass band that provided entertainment was no longer there. The new organizers had no clue how to do the event’s food (couldn’t they have copied what had worked for 30 years?) and, worse, the new not-quite-bluegrass band invited a campaigning POLITICIAN to the stage to give a speech. We didn’t even finish eating and left, disgusted, and haven’t been back.

    Yeah, thanks, you’ve been paying attention. 😉 This current situation with sister has been brewing for some time. Bracing ourselves and staying grounded is the action that is called for. As you said, my job is to be here, be supportive, be the shoulder to lean on.

    Ya know, my morning outdoor coffee session really helps. Just watch and listen to nature helps. Heck, before the latest emergency hit I wrote this, a style I’ve never done before:

    Nature on a Spring Day
    Thin high clouds serenely waft across the sky,
    A light breeze freshens the garden;
    Songbirds merrily trill their cheery choruses,
    A dog meanders lazily about its routine.

    Once upon a time farms were locally owned and it was the pride of the owners to make them look good. Then the farms became property of big commercial conglomerates and the personal pride of a good product with pretty farms disappeared. Logsdon summed that up nicely.


  20. Hi Lewis,

    The villa sounds like a lovely place to while away the afternoon – as long as you’re not on the wrong end of that deal. I couldn’t but help note that the surface of the crushing area was deliberately slippery for the folks who had to work there. Hmm, one wonders about that. But yes, it would be good to be the Emperor, as long as you weren’t one of those who’s reign lasted only a few days.

    That’s what I would have done with a well pump arrangement. Sure, have an electric pump, but just in case, a hand pump wouldn’t be a bad idea. The good thing about water tanks is that they can be used without a pump because the water is already stored above ground level. The chickens water system as an example uses no ongoing electricity, although at the moment I pump water to the water tank and fill it every half year or so. There’s a nearby shed which sits higher than the water tank and eventually I’ll collect water off that roof and the system will just work with no additional effort.

    In some ways it is foresight, but it’s also forking over the mad cash for the extra bit in any system. This stuff can send a person broke, so you have to pick and choose which plan B is worth the additional outlay of mad cash. I tend to view the decision as a bit of a gamble really. Say person A has no hand pump, and person B has paid for one. If the electricity supply continues for the foreseeable future, person A has the advantage. I guess that aspect is much on my mind because of how much mad cash the off grid system eats.

    That’s how nasturtiums grow here too. Every year they drop heaps of seeds. Die off. Then come back with a vengeance! Edible too, but a bit on the furry side when compared to say rocket leaves.

    Not at all. From memory, the old crystal radio sets didn’t require an additional electricity source. Ah, who knew – you can still buy the kits from electronics retailers. Cool. Mate, I have no doubts Radio Shack would have sold them complete, or the kits at least. AM radio was declining in popularity by those days.

    Here’s an article on that app biz: Inside the ‘opaque’ property tech sector that helps real estate agents decide who gets a lease in a rental shortage. It’s not good. In the article it mentioned that a person offered something like ten months in advance. What the…

    Hold out as long as you are able to do so.

    I’d imagine the successful ‘Life Coaches’ live or die by their wits and skills. It’d be a referral business, I’m guessing. Those would be the sort of folks I’d ask a reference for, prior to engaging their services. But I agree, it is remarkably hard to hang a shingle out and offer services to the public. There are few folks from my background who offer services to the public, because the professions rules make it hard to do so. Mate, the hoops I had to jump are not something that many can do – the most onerous hoops were the initial three years of restricted income. Not much says: You can do this, but we don’t want you to, like those sorts of barriers.

    The series is scoring a lot of love from the critics. And it’s pleasing to learn that sometimes things can work out in such a way that everyone lives happily ever after. I was worried there for a minute that the ending may have been more of a sort of Victorian era gothic Tragedy?

    Thanks again for the book suggestions, and those aspects are exactly what I was looking for. If it’s not illustrated and well indexed, information can be hard to find when needed. Mate, my brain is full, and the books act as an extension of the brain’s capacity. The antenna fix was like that. Who can remember all the details?

    Hehe! Mr Greer is probably correct. Science is a very useful tool, but it can’t be applied to all of humanities endeavours. A bit of a shame, but that’s life. I’ve long felt that science is a very poor tool with which to determine the quality of an application of the method. As an example, sure nuclear power stations are good and handy and stuff, but what about the long term downsides of the waste? And not just abstract solutions, I’m talking what actually happens in the real world with the waste. It’s not good, and the scientific method lacks an ability to take those real world outcomes into account and then modify future applications of the method. Lots of starry eyed passionate wishes, but then there’s that waste.

    Oh no, you named the book! Oh well, these things happen. I’d heard of such things happening in the past, and have been in some countries where all you need at the local pharmacist is money. Yup, things are done differently in other parts of the world. Cool, yes, the band has most certainly read the book – and probably been places…

    Who uses faxes these days? It’s been at least a decade since we provided such a service, and even then it was a fax to email service, so the messages ended up as emails with pictures. The interaction reminds me of struggles with bureaucracy to get them to be a little bit more flexible. The worst I’d ever seen was a form which took a couple of hours to complete, and I’d accidentally missed filling out one box. The bloke on the other end of the phone call threw the form out, he refused to return it in the mail. Some folks love having power over others.

    Mate, seriously, it isn’t just the old dears. I wonder how most people cope with the escalating deluge (well done for surviving the dreaded roundabout) of administration. Every time something gets missed, trouble brews. And a lot of pressure gets pushed downwards. Hmm. What was Tainter’s theory on complexity again? It’s bonkers out there, but hang in there, it is possible that others are faring worse.

    Biscuits and gravy would soothe the savage beast and shattered nerves. 🙂 Well, it might work for me. But maybe a pie instead? Chips and gravy would be good too. Not fries but proper chunky chips. Been some sort of potato shortage down here recently. I better get a potato patch going sooner or later. The old timer potato farmer I spoke with a few days ago used to farm up around here – walking distance. We spoke quite a bit about the soil here, and where he farms now.

    Did paid work today. Some stuff happened, but nothing notable. Had a nice coffee this morning. You can feel the crispness of the air as we edge closer to winter.



  21. Hi Pam,

    I briefly met and spoke with Joel many years ago. He was visiting a local farm. A really lovely bloke, passionate about farming. My mates of the big shed fame took us along with them to the farm visit. The food was very good.

    Ah yes, chickens are not vegetarians! The hens have surprised a nest of baby rats, and it’s brutal. For your ease of mind, the chickens here enjoy daily quantities of fresh greens from the garden, grains, shell grit, and four days a week they get some mince meat. Gone in seconds that meat. Hmm.

    Hey, I learned a trick with eggs. You can tell how much protein is in them by the way the albumen holds together when say an egg is broken into a frying pan. You can see the difference. The better the albumen holds together, the higher the protein content. Sadly, as soil health and fertility across the planet declines, so does the protein content of food – even where people think they’re trying to get around that problem by eating a lot of meat.



  22. Hi DJ,

    Sadly, I’d have to get someone in to blow the thing up. But it’s an option. Oh yeah! But the cost of that is a real bummer, so maybe we’ll give it another go. The extra holes in the rock couldn’t hurt. But I’m also waiting for a frost forecast, and will fill the existing holes with water the night beforehand. Let nature do the work. 😉

    Have you ever tried that trick on a rock? Freezing water of course expands.

    Mate, I understand limits. But then sometimes with rocks it is merely a question of application of technique and learning. Anyway, I’m more of a dilettante with the rocks. My brain is spread rather thinly over a lot of different activities. Basically, it’s nice to clean the place up.

    It’s weird isn’t it? If I’d stuffed up that royally, I’d no doubts get the ‘don’t come back Monday’ lecture! Nobody wants that. Yikes! But other people seem unaffected by an utter lack of competence. Something of a mystery don’t you reckon?

    I’ve never experienced 7’C and spitting snow here. From a purely technical perspective, I’m assuming the air temperatures much higher up must be super cold for that to happen? DJ, frankly you’re providing many more mysteries here than stuff which is being resolved? Are you therefore seriously suggesting that life is something of a mystery? Or only half suggesting that? 🙂

    Yes, your cherry harvest experience is sadly a very familiar sounding reality. We’re retreating from such experiences too. Kind of why it works for us both living up the bush. Fortunately people are frightened of the bush, and I’m OK with that.

    Mate, it’s hard not to comprehend the background story. I feel for you. There’s an element of tragedy to life, and it hangs with us all. For good or ill, people make the choices they do, and there ain’t a thing you can do about it. Except maybe be there. Give some energy if you can, keep the home fires burning.

    Avalanche has been good for you. Dogs take life at face value and bend with the vicissitudes of fate. A bit of a challenge that and something to keep in mind. Nice poem too.

    I tend to think he nailed the concept perfectly. The good thing is that eventually we’ll all get back there. No bad thing at all, if you ask me.



  23. Chris;
    Churning dirt- My tiller is more than that. I opted for a BCS tiller, but actually it is a power unit with many many attachments available. BCS is an Italian company, catering to small farms, and folks who don’t mind walking : )

    I’ve got the 739 model with a Honda engine ( ~11 horsepower), and it’s going strong after eight years.

    I bought the tiller, a brush mower, a chipper/shredder, and a generator attachment. These all work on a PTO like connection, and are easy to switch out.

    If we end up with a small farm future, I predict these will become much more prevalent.

    No blooms here yet, but the buds are busting, early species are leafing out, blossoms are just around the corner. It’s a crap shoot here, as some years a late frost will kill the fruit set, and other years, it won’t. This is why monocultures are so bad. With many species, something will dodge the stressor and still provide food.


  24. Yo, Chris – Every once in awhile, they uncover some unknown emperor or pretender. Usually, through a single coin. If they didn’t manage to mint something, they were lost to history. And minting coin, was usually high on the priority list. To pay off the people who had supported them. But sometimes, it wasn’t enough …

    Read a quote, yesterday, that applies, I think, to your solar power system. Maybe. “Free man is by necessity insecure; thinking man by necessity uncertain.” Eric Fromm. LOL. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t?

    Ken Burn’s documentary, “Empire of the Air,” was pretty interesting. About the development of radio. There was a bit about crystal sets. I think a lot of the “boys” magazines had articles on them. There might have even been a scouting merit badge.

    That was a terrible article about rentals. Shoving off more on the renter, and charging for it. Of course, the problem is, there are many bad players when it comes to renters. And also bad players when it comes to landlords.

    You’d mentioned the restricted income, before. I have never heard of such a thing, and, to me, it’s just bonkers. Who came up with that? What was their reasoning? I want names! 🙂

    I had an observation about books on antiques and collectibles. Either the pictures were good, and the index ca-ca. Or, the reverse. Maddening.

    So many bits of technology have unintended consequences. Or maybe, they were known, but nobody cared. Kick that can, down the road.

    I had seen an article or two, about faxes falling out of use. You expect them to be there, and then they’re not, and you’re caught flat footed.

    The Roundabout of Death, is an … interesting construction. Besides the traffic going to and fro, two fast food chain joints and the Store of Walls parking lot feed into it. A standard intersection with lights, would make more sense. Maybe it’s some theory of traffic flow?

    Master Gardeners are here, this morning. Or, one Master Gardener is. Don’t know where the rest are. Ted (who is a really nice guy) showed up to drill the new top stringers in the raised beds. To get them nailed down. With a big industrial rented drill. I’m going to go down and see if I can offer any assistance. Least I can do is sweep up the sawdust. 🙂 Lew

  25. Hello Chris
    I had my 88th birthday this week and it has left me with no time at all. Visits, extremely lengthy phone calls and e-mails, so I haven’t read the blog or comments other than your first one to me. I’ll try to answer the questions.
    No sharks around the Island thank goodness. I believe that there are no dangerous ones at all around the UK.
    The population of the Island has certainly increased a lot. The most noticeable result is the excessive traffic on our narrow unsuitable roads. There is a shortage of affordable housing combined with many second homes and holiday accommodation. It is illegal to live in a house which only has planning for holiday use. All quite nuts of course.
    The Island is not an easy place in which to live as there is a shortage of jobs and crossing to and fro to the mainland has become ridiculously expensive. The result is a large number of the population are elderly and retired.


  26. Chris,

    Good idea to fill the holes in the rock with water before it freezes. Perhaps that could be the winter hobby? These natural processes take time, but the cracks in the rock might be worth the winter’s wait and experimentation.

    I think maybe I played with some cracked rocks and water one winter. Fractured rocks developed eventually. Perhaps a hammer helped finalize the fracturing process after a winter of the ice expanding in the cracks.

    Exactly, +7C with snow falling means the air up there is very cold. Yesterday’s snow events resulted in the air temperature dropping 5C in 20 minutes as a good batch of the cold air aloft dropped to lower elevations with the snow. The ground just now got coated with a nice layer of graupel, aka snow pellets. Turned to rain now. So much for today’s forecast of mostly sunny.

    Mystery? Life? Yes, and not just life. So much of nature itself is rather a mystery too. From my days in university, it seemed like every new physics idea brought up 3 or 4 questions. At least it did for me. The professors often asked me to hold some of my questions until after class. Other times I was told that the question would get answered later in the course, and to quit thinking ahead.

    Choices. People make choices. Accepting that those choices have been made and that there is nothing I can do about it is a hard limit to learn, A very necessary limit to learn, but not one that comes naturally to most of us. Fortunately, I’m at least moving along that path, and the Princess is too. It’s making it easier for both of us to cope with the current consequences of others’ choices.

    Thanks. That poem was several days in the creating and refining, not a style that is natural to me. Doggerel is much easier for me to concoct. And yes, Avalanche has been a grand addition to the family.

    Okay, the rain and graupel quit. It is sunny. Typical spring day – sun, clouds, snow, rain, wind, calm all occur several times per hour. 😉


  27. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for taking the time to drop by and say hello, and wishing you a happy birthday.

    Lucky you with the varieties of sharks found in your waters. There does appear to be a lot of sharks, but apparently none of them are harmful – or likely to bite. It’ll be interesting to see if that changes if the waters around your island ever get warmer than they are now.

    Ah, those are similar outcomes to here. The infrastructure was never constructed with the increased population in mind, let alone the tourists. Longer term, I have an odd hunch that here, like your island, will get quieter. I believe that after WWII, there was only a single person living in this area of the mountain range. What a shock the gentleman would have received when someone else moved up here. 🙂 At times there is also traffic grid-lock in the nearby town. For some reason unbeknownst to me the primary schools are at one end of the nearby township, and the houses are at the opposite geographical end. As you’d imagine during school pick up and drop off, there are a lot of cars on the road.

    Ah, that’s an interesting difference. We don’t have zoning for holiday accommodation. What odd unintended consequences that particular zoning would create. And how would that even get enforced? With the zoning for this property, you can construct a bed and breakfast dwelling, and who knows what the future holds on that front?

    Your demographics sounds pretty similar to here for much the same reasons. Hmm. Truth to tell, I do wonder if a big fire comes through the area whether some of the older residents will leave their properties? I really don’t know, but sooner or later, I’ll find out.

    Cloudy and cool here today, but at least it was dry. How is the water table receding at your place? Hope it is not too muddy? We broke up some more rocks today. Slow landscaping! I quite enjoy the work.



  28. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, it will be interesting to see if the water freezing in the holes in the rocks has enough pressure (or time) to split them. For your info, I’ve tried using the expanding grout in the past, but I reckon my drill wasn’t strong enough to drill a hole with a wide enough diameter for the stuff to work properly. It’s a good machine and will drill a 22mm hole, but I find the 18mm bit easier to use. Even an 18mm diameter is a decent sized hole in a rock, but probably too narrow for expanding grout. Water is a cheaper option.

    We split a couple more rocks today. Both rocks were in the ground, and so we had to dig them up a bit too. Hard work. But that area of the property is coming along nicely. It’s a pleasure to do such work at a reasonably enjoyable pace.

    Thanks for your experience. And hey, I find that too here with the rocks. They’ll develop a split and then you have to use a long house wrecking bar to pry them apart and/or lift them. What interests me about the rocks is that once they’ve developed one split, further splits take less work. Not sure what is going on there, but maybe there is some internal cohesion which reduces? Dunno. What do you reckon?

    Yeah, absolutely. Such weather does not sound sunny to me at all. What I want to know was whether Avalanche decided to chew upon any of the graupel, which incidentally resemble little chunks of rock salt? Never seen such stuff, although the small hail here isn’t far off – but harder. It hurts, like how Charlie Brown felt when being pelted by the ever cheeky Lucy!

    What no pain in the diodes down the left hand side? 🙂 Ah, that’s unfortunate you received such replies. Very unfortunate. Tell ya what, I’ve trained people (and still am actually), and everyone learns at a different rate and that applies to different subjects too. And what can be clear to one person is obscured to another. I see learning as a sort of unfolding of a larger narrative (or series of narratives). Dare I suggest it, but it is possible that the people conducting the training, didn’t know, or were unable to answer your question, or even provide an even harder answer: ‘I don’t know’. Mate, in my paid work I have to say that quite often because it can be hideously complex and there are many aspects where the knowledge is only ever required a single time, then it fades. It is folly to believe that you can know it all (although we’ve all met some of those types!!!). I reckon the best we can achieve is learning how to learn. And they squooshed you there in that field sorry to say.

    Man, that is hard, but it’s a valid and helpful path.

    🙂 Happy days! I quite enjoy doggerels.

    Spokane, if you don’t like the weather, wait half an hour, then check on it again!



  29. Hi Lewis,

    After our many years of discussions on the subject of the Roman Empire and all the crazy stuff going on in those days, I’ve come around to the opinion that being the Emperor would have been a difficult position to hold for any great length of time. Setting themselves above lesser folks would have been easy when things were going well, but when trouble was brewing, barbarians were pounding at the gates, fingers began being pointed, and expectations were frankly a bit excessive, that’s when heads would likely roll. It astounds me that new folks kept wanting to take the mantle, despite what may have only recently occurred to the former holders of that most exalted position of power. When reading the book 1984, despite the hardship the proles endured, at least from my perspective, they had an easier time of it than the outer party members seemed to.

    Out of curiosity, how did you come across a quote from Erich Fromm? You sent me on a rabbit hole, and I read a bit about the author and professional thinker. I don’t fully comprehend the blokes perspective, because he sort of suggests that rational people using reason have more free will than most people do, but here I disagree. Those are definitions (rational and reason) which are hard to pin down exactly as to what they mean. You could say ‘this group over here practices using reason’, whilst ‘this group over here does not’, and still make little sense of the world. There are forces pushing down upon us, which are most certainly not rational and care not a whit for reason. But overall, he’s an interesting bloke, and I enjoyed the quote, although I’ve noted that many a ‘thinking bloke’ seem most certain, and that I believe is something of a problem. And you summed it up perfectly: I’m dammed if I do, and I’m dammed if I don’t. But I take the position that I have to do something in relation to this matter. It’s a problem.

    What? Good on the scouts. It’s a great way to develop an interest in electronics. It surprises me that something which we all use, is rather unknown to most of us. I first came across that unpalatable idea taken to extremes in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series of books. Oh my there were a lot of those books too, but the author had something of interest to say on that matter. The Spacer folks reminded me of the Elves out of Tolkien’s writings.

    I hear people saying that getting a rental property is like entering into the Hunger Games. It’s brutal out there with such a low vacancy rate and an artificially supported demand. It isn’t good.

    Who came up with that? Well Mr Arbitrary and Ms Protectionist, that’s who! 😉 It was a rough couple of years, but we muddled on through. I grew up not having much, and am no stranger to such a state of living. It’s not all that bad.

    Yeah, exactly. A good index is necessary. As a technology, an index simply works. Funnily enough I created indexes when studying subjects with open book exams like law. A person can never be expected to remember all the detail (it’s bonkers how much detail there is), but they should know how to look it up in a hurry when needed.

    We split apart another couple of large rocks today. These rocks were originally in the ground and took a bit more effort to split and then extract. The clay hangs onto them… Poured another concrete step today on the new staircase. It’s a good feeling getting that part of the property in a neat condition. And having access to all the large rocks is speeding along the new low gradient path project. Hard work though.

    I offloaded a few items on eBoring today and sent them off in the mail late this afternoon. The local general store was busy, but not so busy we couldn’t get a table. This weekend will be feral though. Tuesday is Anzac Day, so many folks will be taking a long weekend.

    Went to a different local pub this evening for dinner. For the Editors birthday, I’d given her a list of some different activities to do around the area (as well as some other presents) and this pub was on the list. Tick! The food was good, and the building looks nice from the outside and is good inside. We just didn’t like the ambience though, and that counts for something. Dinner was a steak and guiness pie with chips and gravy. It was good. Yum!

    Yup, I’m guessing that faxes as a technology are nearing the irrelevant stage of their product life cycle.

    Ha! A roundabout is probably cheaper than lights at least that is what I’ve long considered to be the motivation for them. Ah, a whole bunch of serious sounding websites suggest that this is indeed the case. We have a lot of two lane roundabouts, and they’re OK if you’re going on through, but if you’re having to turn across one (right in our case, and left in yours), they’re a bit unpleasant.

    Did you get out and assist the master gardeners? And is it looking good?



  30. Hi Steve,

    What a machine! I’ve never seen one in use, but Goran (who comments here from time to time) has a similar set up to yours, including the chipper. And respect for getting the Honda powered machine.

    Hey, the clutch on your machine sounds very sturdy. That component takes a lot of the punishment and is the part that wears – from what I’ve seen of the machines here. What? A generator attachment is a great idea. Who knew?

    I agree that there is a very good future for such machines. Large tractors will send you broke if the revenue isn’t there to support such costs. There’s a point at which such large machines make no economic sense.

    Mate, it’s a crap shoot here too with the early flowering species. What do you do, other than as you suggest: Diversify plantings. And some years when weather conditions are favourable, the harvest is pretty good.

    Hey, the tomato and chili experiment seems to be working. This is new to me.



  31. Chris:

    I am not worried about your soil health and fertility. Some of the rest of us, well . . .

    Thanks for the chicken diet ideas. I do hope to raise chickens again, sooner than later. Right now I am chasing my own tail and darned if I see how that will fit in as I would probably be in charge of them.


  32. Hi Chris,

    Greetings to both of you!

    I have been watching with amazement the ballooning housing bubbles in the western world post-2008 when everyone probably should have taken a haircut. I have said every year, “this can’t keep going on!” and lo, here we still are!

    My failed predictions might also be wishful thinking because of the insidious effect deep housing debt seems to have on the wider culture by forcing everyone into mono-cultural commercial lifestyle arrangements. The lifestyles of those that can somehow escape from such debt peonage are seemingly far richer. Over here there are, for example, still people on ridiculously cheap rental contracts, and many of these people work only a few days a week and explore creative endeavours in their much free time. There are interests though continuously working to undermine such arrangements.

    It is an interesting phenomenon this leaf-change tourism you describe since it seems your part of the world is pretty all-year round. Are there festivals associated with the this?


  33. Yo, Chris – I’ve always thought anyone who wants to be president or emperor, must be mentally suspect. 🙂 But, at least in present day, the health insurance is really good! Near as I can figure, people would give the legions lots of filthy lucre. Then someone would come along and offer them MORE filthy lucre. And they’d better deliver on their promise, or out they’d go! Hence, cranking up the coin presses. Hmmm. Sounds familiar.

    Oh, the quote comes from a little meditation book, called “Touchstones.” I usually give it a daily read, before I do my stretching. Poor thing. I’ve had it so long, the pages are falling out and it’s held together with a rubber band. Each day kicks off with a quote, by someone or other. Then there’s a bit of ruminating, on one topic or another. Then, a parting thought. It’s a meditation book for guys. Comes from an outfit called Hazelden, which has been in the recovery biz for a long time. Not Conference “approved,” but I find it useful. Has a great index 🙂

    Oh, I don’t know. Sometimes it’s pretty clear when one group practices reason, and another does not. Your mileage may vary 🙂

    I’m sure I read the Asimov books, 50+ years ago. So, the details are rather dim. Hmmm. Thought I read something. The book series is being turned into a TV series.

    Good you took names. When the Revolution comes, and the tumbrils start to roll, Mr. Arbitrary and Ms. Protectionist will be going for a ride!

    Take that, rocks! Clay has a grip. Except when your walking on it.

    Happy Anzac Day! If I’d known it was coming, I would have baked biscuits. I looked up Guiness pie. So, an Irish beef stew, with a good dollop of Guiness stout. Sounds tasty.

    Don’t know what the Master Gardeners were off doing, but only Ted showed up, yesterday. An all around nice guy. He’d rented a heavy duty drill, to drill through the new top stringer, into the next one down. And then pounded in a short length of rebar. Of course, the top stringers are quit a bit lighter in color, than the old weathered ones. But it looks really nice, the color contrast. I puttered around, and lent a hand when needed. Just generally saving him steps. Just as we finished, it started bucketing down. Must be living right. Now I can rake out the soil, piled up in the middle of the beds. If we ever get a bit of clear weather. It got down to 34F (maybe, +1 C?) We haven’t had a frost since the 5th.

    I think it’s going to be a popcorn night. I picked up a brand new, Blue Ray version of “Independence Day.” Speaking of blowing stuff up. Lew

  34. Hi Chris- I’ve commented a couple of times in the past from Vancouver Island Canada and enjoy your weekly posts.I know you have a wood stove but wondering if you have or have ever considered getting a wood cook stove? Might be worth exploring considering your comment about your solar setup and the difficulties you might face in the future. Speaking of electricity, a friend recently purchased an EV. She has a long commute and it seemed like a good idea. Now she’s questioning her decision. She’s having a heck of a time finding charging stations that either don’t have long wait lines or are broken down. The push to buy EVs doesn’t seem to match the (lack of )infrastructure set up to charge them. This causes a lot of stress when long distance travel and work schedules are involved. Personally, I think I’ll pass on EVs and hang on to my trustworthy 2005 Toyota and keep up the maintenance so she can keep running for as long as possible! Your place is looking lovely!

  35. Hi Pam,

    I don’t worry about such things either. Every week, a little bit more minerals get added here and there. It’s a slow process. If you purchase your vegies (or any food for that matter) and the scraps end up in your compost or even just chucked onto the garden bed, you’re doing the same thing anyway. And don’t forget to burn paper and cardboard and get that ash back onto the soil too. It’s easy stuff to do, and is one of the great lost opportunities of all that lovely energy flowing around these days. Few comprehend the possibilities.

    Anyway, I tend to be of the opinion that if you open up your forest a little bit, more critters will move in to your place, and that’s a lot of poop. 🙂 Don’t underestimate the power of the birds to spread around and fertilise the soil. Although sometimes they’ll be working at cross purposes.

    I hear you about that, and for many years the chickens have been my sole responsibility. About a year ago, five chickens died in quick succession. Sandra now assists with the work every day, and the chicken’s lives have improved (although it was good beforehand, they now get even more fresh greens every day). The work was too much for me to take the chickens to where they are at now. And as a side bonus, she has discovered that picking good chickens at sale is not as easy to do as she once thought. So yes, hold off on the chickens until you have more time, or can rope others into the daily work. Wise to know yourself.

    Took the day off any work today and travelled to a nearby country pub which was on the list of things to do. It was a lovely lunch involving a steak and guiness pie. That’s two in two days… 🙂 Today’s pie was much better.



  36. Hi Crow,

    Greetings to you too, and your company is always appreciated! 🙂

    Mate, it does my head in as well. The situation makes little sense to me, although the whole thing is built up on a house of debt and the ever expanding money supply (every ten years the thing down under seems to double in size). A precarious monster. I watched the thing begin to get inflated down here in 1997 and have not yet changed my mind on the outcome. But you’re right, twenty six years later and the beast is still crawling along devouring all in it’s path. Are we hanging on too tightly? Surely someone will come along and put the economic beast out of its misery? Maybe? I don’t honestly know.

    Yes, exactly, that outcome is something that is not encouraged. In some ways you’ve described a two tier rental market. I’ve heard of such arrangements in the US which I believe are described as rent-control. It does no good having a two tier system. Rentals down here don’t have that option and leases are generally short term, and the whole thing is a bit like the Hunger Games. Even fifteen years ago when we rented in a nearby town, we were grateful to secure a rental. Grateful. It was distressing. Nowadays I’d implement Fluffy Plan B. Yes, the matter has been weighed and decided upon. And despite keeping the place clean and neat, and also paying the rent on time in that rental – it just wasn’t enough. The owners and agent kept messing around with us. Whatever happened to the legal concept of quiet enjoyment? You may have noticed that we retreated from the craziness?

    Just for a moment, imagine the local pub over run with tourists – who all turn up at the same time wanting a feed. And imagine Mount Macedon road with grid-lock and thousands of people walking around. 🙂 Do those mental images sound peaceful to you? But as you quite rightly point out though, the rest of the year things are very pleasant indeed. Not a bad part of the world to find yourself in. 🙂

    There’s been some efforts along those lines: Autumn Pie & Tart Trail. We ticked a few of those off – and they were very good indeed.



  37. Hi Robyn,

    Greetings again! And you live in a remarkable and beautiful part of the world (you sent me off on an interweb rabbit hole!)

    It’s interesting that you mention the wood stove. The previous wood heater which was destroyed through carelessness (believe me, the bonkers cost to rectify that disaster lead me to learn about the technology and then modify all of our firewood arrangements) had a cook top and an oven. The replacement wood heater is a different device and instead specialises in boiling water because it has a 30kW water jacket. The lesson learned in the previous disaster was that wood heaters can not do everything. But what you say has a lot of merit, and yes it is worth considering and is on my mind.

    As a technology, cooking using firewood as a fuel, is something which is known to us, and I really enjoyed using the old wood oven. It is hard to believe, but the wood oven was far more forgiving with food than the electric oven (which uses the solar and batteries).

    Sorry to say, but many things begin with the sort of good intentions which sound sort of like: It seemed like a good idea at the time. 😉

    Your friends EV experience is probably a bit too much excitement for my tastes. If you’re interested, here’s what the situation looks like down here for those machines in rural areas: Electric vehicle charging infrastructure in regional NSW falls short over holidays. And connecting such a machine up to the off-grid system here is a non-starter proposition. Some days for about three weeks either side of the winter solstice, all we get is fifteen minutes of peak sunshine. And running the system flat out during other times of the year simply to charge an EV, would shorten the lifespan of the various components.

    And I agree entirely with your response to the EV situation. It was with sadness that I retired the 2004 Suzuki Vitara last year, but the machine was not replaced with a larger vehicle. The new Suzuki Jimny is smaller and more efficient, the Swift is by far better again. Long live your trusty 2005 Toyota, and may she give you many more years of trouble free travel.

    Thank you!



  38. @ Inge:

    Happy Birthday, Inge!

    Our population has increaseed enormously, too, mostly people from the Northeast coming down for better weather and less expensive housing, though the last one does not apply as much as housing costs here have skyrocketed. Very few in my son’s generation can afford to live here. We have the “narrow unsuitable roads”, also, but they are manageable with a little patience – until there is an accident and one has to sit and wait an hour or more to get out of it.


  39. Hi Lewis,

    I agree, there is something not quite right going on there with that ambition. And like say the five previous Emperor’s were executed, why would anyone believe their chances were any better? It does sound like a familiar story – keep the mad cash and toys rollin’, or else! 😉 Yeah, not good.

    The reviews of the book display a lot of love for the compiled words. That’s not something you see with any old book, and reading your description of the pages falling out and the ingenious use of a rubber band, suggests a similar response. Guys could use a guide to better living, not just for folks in recovery. Good to hear that you stretch the mind as well as the body. I might check the book out. You’ve mentioned that part of the program is getting people to see beyond themselves, and would it be correct to assume that the book taps into that aspect?

    Guides are sometimes useful. Without going on about it, my dad left when I was pretty young, and the bloke who eventually replaced him for a short while was an angry, abusive kinda bloke. Didn’t much like him. It’s not hard for me to imagine that things could get worse, because they had at some points in my life! 😉 But interestingly, some of the reviews mentioned the positive effect the book had on their lives. That’s not something you hear about every day. Hmm.

    I reckon we’ve come around to the idea that a useful index is the mark of a good non-fiction book? Mate, truthfully, my brain still reels at your description of the epic footnotes in the David Foster Wallace classic book: Infinite Jest. Just between you and I, I’m still entirely not convinced that the author wasn’t taking the mickey out of all the readers. How would we all look if we said – it just wasn’t that good?

    Ha! I now cite Fluffy Rule Number Four, in my defence of reason. It should be self evident that a person uses reason. And if they’ve gotta say it… 🙂 The Editor is currently reading P. G. Wodehouse, and mentioned to me in passing that the authors use and arrangement of words is very charming, and that he also uses the word ‘fluffy’, in a similar context. Proving yet again that the best ideas are often other peoples! I never knew.

    It’s not just you, I’ve still got the Asimov books, but in a more general observation: a quarter of a century ago, half a century ago – does it even matter? All I recall was the general vibe and overarching gist of the stories. The details, well there might be a summary of the stories, but need we go there? Dunno about you, but my gut feeling suggests that the answer is: no. I’ve begun reading an intriguing book which was sitting in the ‘to-read’ pile with an unusual title: ‘Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop’. Details to follow… Speaking of which: Might move the little fella out of the fern gully, and place him near to the drainage basin with the tree fern. Is this possibly a good idea?

    In our travels today, I purchased a foxglove, which I might plant near to the Japanese maples and drainage basin. A very attractive plant, highly toxic too.

    Took the day off any and all work and headed out on another pie adventure. Yes, I know, I’m weak in this matter. We ended up at a really lovely country pub which was mostly surrounded by farm land at a nearby place called East Trentham. The pub has a lovely name too: The Pig and Whistle. I’m assuming at one point the Daylesford to Woodend train line used to run nearby given the whistle word in the name. Good potato growing country. The food was excellent and it looked like that being school holidays all the family was working in the pub. Delightful. Oh, forgot to mention the pie was another Steak and Guinness pie, and the entire experience bested last evenings by a considerable margin. Lovely. I’d imagine the baking process evaporates any alcohol leaving the distinct taste, which is pretty good as it flavours the gravy in the pie. Yum! And the meat is slow cooked too. Usually cheap cuts, but slow cooking does wonders for such meat. I’m beginning to salivate thinking about this food.

    Hehe! Yes indeed. First up against the wall come the revolution! 🙂 That’s funny.

    Al very true about clay. Slippery thing. With a sort of long weekend for many, we’re intending to hunker down and split and recover some more rocks. Why not?

    I might bake a batch of Anzac biscuits tomorrow morning. My secret trick is to leave them in the oven to cool so that they are crispy, but not burnt. Oops, now everyone knows. I’m going to try adding in the grapes we dehydrated a few days ago. They’re very tasty. But it might work, and it might not work. Risky. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Adding in the rebar is a great idea (he says noting it down for future use). I had to recess in stainless steel screws just to get the depth. Thick sleepers are not exactly easy to work with. Oh yeah, the colour contrast would look great. And it would be a pleasure not to worry about the timber degrading any time soon. Lewis, the weather gods smiled upon you! 🙂 So your supposition stands.

    Hehe! I saw that film at the cinema on the big screen. It rocked! The fight scene with the mothership at the end was epic. Heaps of mad destruction. Good stuff.



  40. Hi Chris,

    What is bonkers is that people will tell you that the value of their humble suburban abode has increased from 1 million to 2 million in a period of 10 years, and tell you this with a straight face without doubling over while cackling like some drug-riddled teenager. That coin (mad cash) still has to come from somewhere.

    I have then had people tell me with an even straighter face that this is all supply and demand, the demand side having increased due to something like immigration. But for that to be true, then the population must have increased in proportion to those numbers. This would suggest supply has reversed, or in other words, people have been hoarding property!

    Your rental experience has mirrored some of what I have heard. Unfortunately we have created a whole class of petty tyrants. I think the problem of housing shortage has long been solved. You know those Eastern Germans, stasi and all, managed to provide housing for the populace using cheap pre-fabricated concrete structures (plattenbau):
    They look ugly, but they get the job done and, just quietly, that is why they are popular with the hipsters 😉

    What does the pub do with those extra guests and where do they even park? You’d need a beer hose to even serve everyone. Those pies look incredible. The pub could stock up on pies and tarts and sell them at a mark-up.


  41. Yo, Chris – …and, in news of the world … I see Mars Boy’s “starship” came to a bad end. LOL. One article quoted someone or other who said it suffered “..a rapid unscheduled disassembly.” Glad it didn’t have thousands of colonists on it.

    There’s to be a new Star Trek movie. “Star Trek: Section 31.” Michelle Yeoh (who won the Academy Award for best actress, this year), will be in it.

    I was talking to my Idaho friends, and she mentioned that banks are finally loosening up, on financing manufactured homes. When I was out house hunting, they wouldn’t even look at a manufactured home.

    And, back to our regularly scheduled programing.

    I find the “Touchstones” book, gives me a different way of looking at things. Some days, it really doesn’t apply. Other days, it hits the nail right on the head. Not that I’m given to the practice, but particularly useful (to me) entries, I dog ear. I also jot the name of anyone who has passed, that I want to remember. I could get a new copy, but, the old edition I have has charming pen and ink sketches, at the beginning of each month. The newer reprints, don’t.

    Oh, I think “Infinite Jest” footnotes was just a gimmick that the author came up with. Something new that the Literati embraced because of the novelty. Finally. Something new in the world of Literature.

    Well, here we go. I checked out the “Foundation” trailer, and found this …

    The Foundation series, explained in five minutes. Oh, dear. Besides the trilogy, there were prequels and sequels. So, there’s seven books, all together. 🙂

    What a wonderful name for a book. “Goblinproofing.” The little fellow might be happy, living the quiet life in the fern gully. From the plans you’ve outlined, I’d go for something more Asian. By the way, Sunset books have one of Japanese Gardening.

    Taken in small doses, and prepared the right way, Foxglove yields Digitalis, a commercial heart medicine. They are lovely plants, and, at least here, are easy to grow and can spread.

    It sounds like you had a lovely day out. And discovered a “new and improved” steak and Guinness pie. Might have had a bit more mellowing?

    Re: Secret Tricks. Well, we won’t be trusting you, with any State Secrets, in the near future 🙂 Are you going to plump the dried raisins up?

    Ted rented an industrial drill, drilled through the new wood into the old. Then he used a sledge hammer, to pound in the short lengths of rebar.

    Speaking of State Secrets (or, maybe it’s just another Windge Alert), last week we got a memo, that the local power company was cutting our power for a couple of hours, today. No reason given, of course, but I suspect it’s to hook up the new chemist, down the hill.

    I just happened to run into the night manager, last night, and he said he had found out by accident, that they were to cut the power from 1 to 3am, last night. He’s young. Said everyone would be asleep. I pointed out that I was a night owl, and would probably be up. I also made sure Elinor knew, and had her flashlight handy. Hope no one was on one of those night time breathing machines. I found out this morning, that some residents got a memo. Neither of us, did. Sure enough, the power went out at 1am. I read by flashlight for about an hour, and then trundled off to bed.

    Food box today. Report to follow. Lew

  42. Chris,

    I’ve been shamelessly eavesdropping or reading over shoulders or whatever it’s called these days. Good on Sandra for reading some Wodehouse. I’ve always found his Jeeves and Wooster books entertaining. He had such a wonderful way of phrasing things that was appropriately off the wall, such as “Wooster, you’re snake in the grassing again!” Good stuff.

    And faxes. Yup, nearing the end of their life. However, I fought long and hard with the IT people, aka disInformation Technology rats, to keep my fax machine. Why? A routine part of my overweight/oversize vehicle permitting process was to rapidly get permits to the client. Some of the clients were not technically savvy and only had landline phones and fax machines. No internet, no email. I finally had to tell the internal IT boss, who later became my Big Boss, that if he insisted on doing away with fax machines, I would forward all complaints from the fax only group straight to the elected officials to deal with. Knowing that I made promises, not threats, he backed off. Dunno what that program is doing now, but being out of the work force, my level of giving a wombat’s square poo is totally gone. 😉

    Ohhh, methinks you got it perfectly. A single crack appears in a rock and more cracks appear rapidly. Your explanation is close enough to mine as to make no difference. There are likely a lot of microscopic cracks that occurred before any single crack got big enough to notice, also, sort of invisible spiderwebs of microscopic cracks all over and into the rock. Once one starts to expand, the others are more vulnerable.

    Of course Avalanche had to partake of graupel. And some of the hail. When the morning ice in her water bowl is thick enough that I have to break it, she prefers to pull chunks of ice out of the water, and eat them, rather than drink the water. The graupel and hail had a similar effect on her-cold and wet and chewable.

    I got an overhaul to the system. At least temporarily, the diodes down the left side are (mostly) free from pain. What I did notice from the physics professors was that whenever they said that my question would be answered later in the course, it was. The other questions? Hmmm, mixed bag on the results.

    I remember 20 something years ago having a quantum physics question and possible answer. I called up my favorite professor from university. He told me we could discuss the question face to face if I would be the physics seminar speaker. So I got scheduled for seminar. After I arrived for seminar, he gracefully evaded my question, although he and another prof took me to a local eatery for a pint and a feed prior to the seminar. My talk was received reasonably well. I think I had more fun with it than the attendees though: each section of my talk was given a title which was actually a title swiped from James Bond movies. Alas, he successfully evaded my question, but I DID manage a free lunch and brew out of the experience.

    Yes, indeedy, don’t like the weather in Spokane (at least in the spring), all you gotta do is wait half an hour and something different will happen/blow/fall on you, etc.

    When it rains (which it did Thursday night, for which I’m grateful), it pours. My closest friend’s wife called me Thursday. She never calls me. Friend is in the hospital. Again. This is the same friend who lost part of his leg due to diabetes complications. Now a different complication has him in hospital again. I was able to chat with him some. It sounds like this is treatable, the doctors have a reasonable plan set up, but it will require new regular treatments to manage. They’re hoping to release him next week, maybe as early as “an early release due to good behavior” on Tuesday. He sounded to be in good spirits.


  43. Chris and Lew,

    The pruning book I like the best is The Pruning Book by Lee Reich. It starts with chapters on why to prune, pruning tools, and how plants respond to pruning. Then there are 7 chapters on how to prune various kinds of plants, with lists of when to prune many common (in the US, at least) plants. It ends with 7 chapters on specialized pruning techniques. It’s my go-to pruning book.

    The urban heat island effect will save us from a freeze this weekend, but frosts are expected Saturday and Sunday mornings. All the frost-sensitive plants are safely waiting out this cold spell on the front porch.


  44. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for the recommendation and a copy of the pruning book is now on its way here.

    Fingers crossed the frost isn’t as heavy as expected.

    We’re having a very settled and warm week of weather. Most days are sunny and over 20’C. Not to worry, the rain will return later next week.



  45. Hi crow,

    It is bonkers, and when day to day costs are paid for by the tool of debt, well, that’s what living beyond your means looks like. Interestingly, I don’t have conversations with people saying such things – they might hear a candid opinion suggesting that a dollar (or whatever) doesn’t buy what it only once did. Who wants that?

    Interesting you say that. On census night, there were something like a million empty dwellings in the country. There be dragons. Those beasties are of course known to sit on piles of wealth doing not much more than sleeping. It’s a bit of a problem really.

    Mate, the rental experience was brutal, and has only gotten worse due to the even lower vacancy rates nowadays – and it wasn’t good back then. Half yearly inspections. Complaints about the grass. And demands to keep the place clean for the possible inspections for sale. Like I wanted strangers walking through the house every weekend and whenever the owners and agents wanted an inspection for purchasers. Utterly bonkers.

    The hipsters are onto something there. 😉

    Certainly it is not possible to park near to the front door. Very funny. What they do to close the kitchen for orders, is to hand a card to a person in the queue and tell them that they’re the last to put in an order. Creates a bit of unhappiness, but what else can they do?

    Yes, I can confirm that the pies are good. Do they even bake pies in your part of the world?



  46. Hi DJ,

    Yup, Jeeves is now on the to-read list. But right now, I’m reading a book written by an eccentric Welshman on how to deal with the Faery folk. He’s serious too, sort of.

    Wombats don’t care either. Very sensible creatures, not venturing forth from their burrows when it’s raining. That’s the good thing about not working, you don’t get caught up in all the crazy day to day stuff. People, well, they’re people, and they do what people do. Ours is but not to become road-kill-getting-stuff-done sort of folks. 😉

    Thanks for the more detailed explanation. Split a few more rocks today. Hard work, but we need plenty of large rocks for the new low gradient path project – and the rocks are sticking up out of the paddock as hazards. Not a bad outcome really to put the rocks to a better use. Of course, it is not lost on me that the rocks may have wanted to stay where they were. I failed to ask them.

    Avalanche clearly has an inherited ability to chomp on frozen water. Cold and wet and chewable indeed! 🙂 Such an experience would jangle the nerves of the average human. Not enjoying the dentist means that I annually head there and be subjected to their probing and cleaning. Prevention being better than a cure. Sounds like some sort of alien abduction story…

    Very good to hear. Those diodes need occasional replacement. That’s interestingly also my perspective when it comes to refurbishing electronics – take what possibly needs replacing, and replace it. Diodes are pretty hardy though. 😉

    Ah, that was a far better outcome for you than my earlier understanding believed it to be. It’s good when people aren’t just brushing you off, but are suggesting that knowledge will unfold in time. Mate, I’ve told people during training that they’re not ready. Mostly I get that right, but not always. Some folks have deep reserves with which to draw upon.

    That’s really clever using the titles! The price seemed pretty good too, and you neglected to mention that the lunch and brew was also enhanced by the convivial company? Out of curiosity, had you done much in the way of public speaking and/or presentations before then?

    Hehe! The same thing happens with the weather ’round these parts! Bizarrely, the weather looks rather stable and warm this week. But don’t worry, before the week is out, the rains will return.

    Some calls from friends you want, and then there are those calls. Hmm. Good to hear that your friend spirits are sailing along. Fingers crossed that everything works out OK.



  47. Hi Lewis,

    Would ‘ballyhooed’ be the correct word to use in relation to that rapid unscheduled disassembly? The explosion was impressive. How did that rate compared to the big one on the Independence Day remastered film?

    Intriguing. A new Star Trek film. Yes, the film and actor did very well. If I recall correctly you watched the film Everything, everywhere, at once a while ago?

    Oh, that’s really good news. The banks down here are a bit weird about owner builds too, but I never really understood the reluctance with a manufactured home. Made no sense to me, other than err, dinosaurs. It’s probably easier to construct a house off site and then ship it in and drop it on footings. I don’t see the big deal, unless the transport route is problematic – such as low hanging trees and power lines. I once witnessed a section of a manufactured home on the back of a truck and a guy sat on the roof of the house with a chainsaw (and a radio) and chopped off the branches. You’d think the company would check the route out first before driving the truck on in? But apparently not.

    We dug up more rocks out of the paddock today and split them so we could move them. Didn’t get around to moving the rocks today, because in the search to obtain soil with which to back fill into the large holes left in the paddock, we began cleaning up one of the old loggers trees. The tree was lying on its side with a huge chunk of soil stuck on the roots. Bonkers. But I dug out and cut the huge root system and stump off, and was then able to extract all of the soil. I’m gobsmacked that the trees seemed to have been pulled out and just dumped. Seems kind of wasteful and I really dunno why it is the way it is. Anyway, there’s not too many more of that mess left. Yay. Might try and burn the stump off tomorrow.

    Plus your copy has memories attached to it. Hang onto the book, such things look after the people who hold them. Mate, the list of names grows over time, that’s for sure.

    You make a strong argument, and I find myself agreeing with you. Has anyone had the tenacity to produce another book which comprises over a third of the content in footnotes? It might just be time for another venture! Our fortunes might be made.

    Thanks for the link to the summary of the Foundation series. I don’t recall the trickster character mentioned who appears to have skewed the results of the great experiment. The Mule was the name of the character. Memories, so much to forget! Oh well. Seven books. Hmm, there are other things to read, such as the very quirky and eccentric book about the Welshman who is taking a very big stick to the realms of Faery. Be afraid, but he ain’t, or at least doesn’t appear to be! A lovely book to read, but better not leave the book around unattended lest the little people get the jump on the strategies.

    Certainly the effect with the rocks, ferns, maples and path will be very Japanese inspired. But I might chuck in the foxglove there too. It will fill up the gaps between the Japanese maples – which are all doing well in their new locations. Thanks for mentioning the book, and I’ll check it out. The hope is that the plants self seed. Already Japanese maples produce little seedlings, so the foxgloves should also do well.

    It is astounding how many commercial preparations have their origins in the plant kingdom. I believe Hawthorne yields a similar chemical.

    What the pie or me? Hehe! Yeah, truth to tell I was feeling more mellow yesterday, but the pub was also just better in every way. That’s a good thing anyway, always nice to relax and have no time constraints. As you may have noticed I’m not much of a fan of butting heads with other people. Sure, I’ll do it if that is required, but not all situations require such a response. Very occasionally paid work requires me to do this. A bit stupid really. Oh well.

    Hehe! Yeah, my memory is just not good enough to keep such everyday secrets, and so it’s easier to just be honest and up-right. At least that way I don’t have to spend unnecessary energy worrying about what I may have (or not have) said! Easier all around really. As a philosophy it works. 😉

    I’d not considered plumping up the dried raisins. They were chucked into the biscuit mix this morning as-is. Worked out alright, and they taste good on their own, but somehow they didn’t quite transfer their flavour into the Anzac biscuit. Beats me why commercial sultanas would be better on that front?

    Exactly. Not everyone will be asleep at such hours. Seriously, if a person needed a breathing machine, it wouldn’t be a bad idea for them to have a backup power supply in place and ready to go. The way things are going with the grid, I expect power outages to become more common over time. Not good.



  48. @Inge

    Happy belated birthday!! Many roads around us are filled with potholes which are temporarily filled only to return.


  49. Hi Chris,

    The pub should place the prices in an electronic display above the bar like the stock market and they increase exponentially based on kitchen capacity. That is probably unfair to all the peasants that own a mere single home so number of homes pwned would have to factored into the equation. So 2-homers have to pay a price of pizza multiplied by a factor of two, and 3-homers etc etc.

    One million homes? Well that solves that problem. Forget Plattenbau. How would you legislate to get those 1 million homes on the market? And I am guessing the owners of those homes also vote.

    I have heard of landlords over here just entering people’s places on a whim!

    There are indeed pies in this part of the world:

    They are not bad…

  50. Yo, Chris – I don’t think “ballyhooed” is applicable, in this case. I’d say, they’d try and sweep the failure, under the carpet, as swiftly as possible. Given the news cycles, I’m sure it will drop out of the news quit quickly.

    “Everything, Everywhere, All at Once.” I quit enjoyed it. I don’t know about “best film,” but it was fun madness. Basically, a woman gets to experience what her life would have been like, if she had made different decisions. So, she zooms from life to life. And there’s also something in there about saving reality. Or, something. 🙂

    I really didn’t catch all the details, on financing manufactured homes, from my Idaho friend. Her sister managed to pull that off. It might be, maybe, that if they are attached to land, if would be easier. Because there would be collateral. Next time I talk to her, I’ll see if I can pry out some more details. But a quick look in the rabbit hole, yielded a couple of articles, about a loosening up.

    Maybe they did check, hence the chainsaw and radio. 🙂

    Maybe the trees blew down? And the wood was salvaged out? Happens around here, a lot. If the roots and stump are in an out of the way place, they’re not going to bother with cleaning it up.

    Yes. Best not leave the book around, for the faeries to look at. The other day when we were working on the raised beds, Ted kept speculating on if it was going to rain. I told him at least twice, to not say that out loud. 🙂 Talk about asking for trouble …

    A quick look down the rabbit hole … Foxglove plants have between 1 and 2 million seeds. It’s suggested that if you don’t want to have them entirely take over, that you deadhead some of them. Another similar looking plant is Hollyhocks. Quit pretty, I think. Those come in blue. Hmmm.

    You might get more flavor, if you plump them up, and use some of the plump water, in the mix. Maybe.

    We got a food box, yesterday. Not bad. In case you haven’t committed the legend to memory, it’s * swap table, # Club and + Me. There was some pretty junky stuff (to me) that I took right down to the swap table. A loaf of garlic bread, a box of Toast’em popups (strawberry), a strange chocolate Easter egg, a packet of two oatmeal cookies and a couple of clamshells. One of sliced up fruit, and one of vegetables. Seems like every time we turn around, it’s something like that that makes a lot of people sick. 1 lb. spaghetti pasta, a pack of Ramen, a box of Mac & Cheese, 1 lb. of dried pinto beans. All of the above went to the swap table, either because even I won’t subject people at the Club to it, or, we sell it at the Club, or, we have enough at the Club. So all of the above are * .

    2 lbs. frozen sliced turkey #, 3 oranges #, a bag of frozen meat balls #,
    1 doz. med. eggs, only 2 weeks past their “best by” date +, a pack of butter substitute #, 2 pounds enriched white rice *, 1 lb. shelled walnuts + (gosh, I hope someone else puts those on the swap table. They’ve disappeared from the stores), 2 lbs of shelled almonds (haven’t decided), 1 lb bag of rolled oats (snagged another bag, from the swap table) + , a jar of peanut butter #, some kind of squeeze bottle with a strawberry jam spread #. Frightening.

    Tinned stuff. 2 cans of chunk white chicken #, 2 cans of mixed fruit #, 1 tin each of: 24oz pasta sauce *, tomato sauce *, beef stew #, Clam and corn chowder #, apple sauce #, carrots *, corn * green beans *, refried beans +.

    Not a bad lot, and I’ll probably pick up a bit more, from the swap table. It’s the canned meat that goes the fastest. Condiments. Fruit. I’ve got some frozen meat, that’s been piling up in my freezer. I’ll probably take that down, tomorrow. I put up the sign, again, that there is meat in the freezer. And to please not take the whole box. As happened last time. Maybe if I put some bags in the freezer, that won’t happen. We’ll see.

    I finished watching the Great Courses (or whatever they’re calling it), “Banned Books, Burned Books.” Interesting. I may start another Great Courses, called “Epic Engineering Failures and the Lessons They Teach.” I’m up for a good disaster 🙂 Lew

  51. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, many thanks for the correction. What did Dorothy say in the Wizard of Oz about people coming and going all the time? The news cycle has become a bit like that. A lot of enthusiasm, then onto the next matter. Makes you wonder whether the enthusiasm is cooked up? I’m surprised a lot of things get dropped rather than being seen through to the logical end point. Maybe I expect too much?

    I was wondering about that designation of top film status, and you know my opinions about Top Gun Maverick. Such a good film, you are missing out you know. 😉 Forget the original movie though. Didn’t they fly the same aircraft into the mothership in the Independence Day film? I seem to think so.

    That is interesting about the manufactured homes. It’s possible that the bank may loan for the land value only? That’s one possibility, and I’ll be curious to hear what your friends have to say.

    Hehe! I don’t think so. The manufactured house had a ding in the front corner from a close encounter with a low hanging branch. The guy with the chainsaw was doing a good job, but it was very risky, with a chance of falling off.

    That’s a possibility about the trees, and sometimes the wind does blow strongly from directions the trees have not braced themselves against. Late this afternoon I began the process of burning off the tree stump. The Goblinproofing book dude might approve of such work. The forest got a nice thanks in advance for the resulting ash. The fire ended up being very hot.

    Oh yeah, Ted was asking for trouble, I agree with you. Best not tempt the weather sprites from the land Faerie. Tricksey things, and I have no doubts they’d chortle whilst the master gardeners plans coming unstuck and you both ended up wet. Speaking of gardens, the winter leafy greens have germinated. Yay! We’re clearing out the raised garden beds inside the greenhouse and I’ll plant them out with the greens. Found one or two feral winter leafy green plants to move into the greenhouse. I reckon I’m running about three to four weeks late with this task. Oh well, can’t do everything.

    A bloke picked up the power wheelbarrow blade attachment today. We don’t often have ideas that turn out to be a total bummer, but that was one of them. Got a dollar for the thing. Ook! I’m not one to pretend that losses have not occurred by avoiding selling things. Plenty of people do that though. The outcome is better than the blade attachment ending up in the scrap metal collections. That’s one material I’m reasonably confident gets actually recycled.

    I quite like Hollyhocks as well. Plants that are survivors make life easier. And the flowers are nice.

    The thing with my Anzac biscuit mix is that I want it drier, and the eggs and sugars are the binding agents. Water might not give the biscuits a crispy finish.

    Memory, full, limits, something, something – appreciate the legend! 🙂 What exactly is a strange Easter egg? Are we talking about a dinosaur shaped chocolate? Or maybe the egg is shaped in the form of that little kid in the Exorcist film? I note that Russell Crowe is in a film about Exorcism. Did you discover any walnuts on the swap table? You’re at the wrong end of the season for such delicacies, but they do preserve well. Hey, I finally got a walnut tree to survive and grow here. The trees are a pain. Chestnuts are easier here.

    Did you decide to take the frozen meat down to the swap table?

    Hope the Great Course (still the old title?) covers the West Gate Bridge Project. Mate, when I used to ride a motorcycle, sometimes you’d cross that bridge and the cross winds were err, interesting, but if ever you were stuck in traffic, the bouncing of the bridge deck made me feel a little bit like: Hope you guys know what you were doing? The bridge fell down during construction – onto the site shed where a lot of workers were at lunch. They didn’t stand a chance.

    Better get writing!



  52. Yo, Chris – Given the current lot, and general state of affairs, yes, you expect too much 🙂 .

    I have -0- interest in seeing TGM. Maybe if they set it to music. Throw in a little dancing. Maybe a toe tapping tune or two. Did they use the same planes in “Independence Day?” Got me. I can’t tell cars apart, let alone planes.

    Last place I lived, the blade attachment would have ended up being “yard art.” Some people, I think, tell themselves that they’re waiting for the cost of scrap metal, to go up.

    The Easter Egg was in a plastic clam shell. It was about the size of a large egg, and a chocolate brown color. Don’t know what was inside it. Stuck in the top were a plastic cross, and, in case you missed the point, another plastic thing that said “Easter.” No walnuts, yet, but another bag of old fashioned rolled oats. I grabbed that, for me. I’ll eventually take the frozen meat down to the Club. I’ve got some details to work out with that, yet.

    I remember you talking about the West Gate Bridge. Doesn’t look like they cover it. There are so many engineering failures to pick from. And there’s only 26 lectures 🙂 . I watched the introduction and first lecture, last night. The professor is pretty interesting, as he uses simple little models, to explain things. There are six components to engineering projects, and any one, or more, can cause failure. Also, often new materials or building techniques are used, and they don’t quit work out, as planned. But that advances the science of engineering. Sorry about the loss of life. 🙂

    The first lecture was on the collapse of the Dee Bridge, in Wales. In the early 1800’s. It’s pretty well been established, that it collapsed due to metal fatigue. It was designed by a guy named Stevenson. I did a brief look, but couldn’t figure out if he was related to the lighthouse designing Stevensons.

    I also watched a new documentary, called “Ruthless: Monopoly’s Secret History.” The board game. That was pretty interesting. Lot’s of corporate skullduggery.

    Do you fly flags at half mast, down there? When someone important passes on? If so, they’re probably at half mast, today. I see Dame Edna Everage has died. Sigh. She will be missed.

    Loons (the birds) are falling out of the sky, in Wisconsin. I guess there wings are icing up. Lew

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