Good Tines

Late last year there were some not-so-vague plans for future projects around the farm which required excavation works. When you live on the side of an ancient (hopefully extinct) super volcano, it is a truth universally acknowledged that there is no such thing as flat land. You want flat land? Well son, you’re gonna have to get digging. That’s been our experience over the years. Long ago I watched the 1980 film Caddyshack. Excluding the superb performance by the actor Bill Murray, the rest of the film was forgettable. Except for that one great line of truth spoken by the actor Rodney Dangerfield: “Son, the world needs ditch diggers too”. It’s hard to forget that line when you’re on the wrong end of the story.

How two professional, city born and raised folks came to love the rural life has been something of a mystery to us too. Some are born into that world, others are called. And it truly is an enjoyable experience to head down into the forest edges, clean up the old loggers mess, and have a burn off. Those loggers, the cheeky scamps, sure left a lot of mess.

Back to excavations though. We had some projects on the to-do list, which required a lot of digging. That’s what wanting flat land, but being on the side of an extinct volcano and stuff looks like. Late last year I spoke to the farm machine repair boss dude about whether he had a second hand rototiller for sale. Always one for making the deal, Andrew said: Chris, I’ve got just the machine for you. I’d known Andrew for fourteen years, and he in turn knew Sandra and I, as well as our machinery needs. He’s a good bloke.

The rototiller he showed me was a weird faded red, probably closer to pink. In the masculine world of farm machines, that was a strike against it. The machine was old, and had clearly been in use for a few decades. Andrew said that the motor was a Chinese inspired Honda knock-off, and would accept the same parts. It started first pull of the cord. That was a good sign. Some of the rotating tines (the steel bits which cut into the soil) had been replaced. It was good to go, and he said try it out for a week or two. That’s what trust looks like.

The pink rototiller arrived home on the back of the yellow trailer. Sandra was unimpressed: “What are we going to do with this thing?” Try it out, may have been the spoken reply, but internally my mind was saying: “What are we not going to do with this machine!”

Turns out that you can’t use a self propelled rototiller if facing downhill. Hanging on to 7.5 horses of power is beyond my ability when gravity assists such matters. Fortunately, neither Sandra or the dogs were on the slope below me when the machine got away. Who knew? Being a quick student, you learn that these machines work better on the flat or uphill. Having no flat land, means that the machine is going to have to do all of its work uphill. The machine and I are good with that.

Unfortunately after the disastrous demonstration, Sandra was even less impressed, with the both of us. Pinky and I had to turn this ship around, otherwise I’d have to return the machine to Andrew with what is technically known as: ‘Sad Fluffy Face Number Six’, otherwise known as relinquishing the machine to it’s rightful owner.

So, Pinky and I got to know each other. It’s a bit scary the old machine, and only respects those who are respectful of it. Otherwise, the thing will attempt to bite your foot off. I’m not joking. But sometimes, with scary old machines, they are really very good at what they do. Newer machines are probably safer, but when it comes to simple sturdy construction, the newer machines don’t measure up.

It didn’t take long before I’d mastered the scary old machine. It felt good to be the boss, and Pinky was happy with the arrangement. We’ve done some great work together, and even Sandra is now impressed with the machine and wonders how we ever managed without it. Probably by doing a lot of digging by hand, but that’s another story.

Over the past weekend, we’d been breaking larger rocks into smaller (but still large rocks) for the new low gradient path project. We know stuff about breaking rocks. And will happily do such work without the chain gang. Near to where we were working was some of the loggers mess. A couple of big trees had been dropped decades ago, root balls and all. That’s an impressive and also mysterious achievement by the loggers. Why did they do this act? Whatever! A person can only ponder the unknowable mysteries for so long. One of the root balls had a huge quantity of soil stuck to it. Do we do this, was the question? Yes, was the answer. Fuelled up, and swung into action, the trusty pink rototiller did its thing.

Kids, don’t do this at home

Probably not how the machine was ever intended to be used. However the machine laps up the challenges and turns solid volcanic clay into a fine powder which can then be easily moved. A truly remarkable feat of engineering. Plus, so far the machine still respects me. The facts in this case speak for themselves (all limbs remain intact). But that state of affairs implies mutual obligations on my part. Note to self: Must recall to be careful not to neglect scary old machine.

Anyway, over the past six months the pink rototiller has been put to work on all manner of projects around the farm. The potential of the machine was realised within the initial ‘loan / trial’ time period, and so it was not returned. Instead mad cash was handed over to Andrew. There were smiles all around. Andrew said he was looking forward to the Christmas break, and wanted to spend some quiet time with his dog. I was glad I dropped by that day to settle the account and say hello. Andrew died the following day. It’s hard to forget that.

The scary rototiller continued work on the soil attached to the large root ball. And it wasn’t long before most of the hardened clay was removed from a lot of the root ball.

The scary rototiller removes soil from an old tree root ball

The chainsaw was then used to cut the root ball from the rest of the tree. Using log rollers and a house wrecking bar, the enormous root ball was rolled away from the rest of the tree where it could be burnt off.

It takes a hot fire to burn off a root ball

Observant readers will note that in the top right hand corner of the above image, there is another clay encrusted root ball. Loggers…

The machines initially make a fair bit of mess, but nature soon steps in and rights matters as can be seen in the next photo.

Machines initially make a bit of mess, but that’s also an investment in the future

In the centre of the above image, a large rock was removed from the paddock. A little tiny rock was sticking up out of the ground, but underneath the thing was a monster. Just like the iceberg which took down the Titanic, very little shows above the surface. But slowly, we’re tackling most of the rocks that we’re aware of. There may be more, lurking.

The author tackles a large rock in the paddock

Sadly for us, Peak Rocks is real. All of the easy rocks are now gone, and this is what it has come to. It takes a lot of effort to extract large rocks from the ground. Fortunately, there are still a lot of rocks to remove, it’s just a lot of hard work. And the new low gradient path project requires a lot of large rocks. But, the project is looking great and better still, the path works in all weather conditions.

Every week we complete a little bit more of the low gradient path project

Uphill from the recently completed drainage basin (to the right in the above photo), we’ve decided to make a garden bed dominated by Japanese Maples. Those trees will eventually provide some shade for the ferns in the drainage basin during hot summer days. The new garden bed required more rocks…

A Japanese maple dominated garden bed will be uphill of the drainage basin

The garden bed is not yet completed, but the maples were planted out. Those trees happily self seed in the conditions here.

One of the succulent garden beds on the downhill side of the low gradient path was planted out. We even moved one of the little-faerie-folk out of the fern gully and into the succulent bed. Fingers crossed that nothing untoward comes from this move.

One of the new succulent garden beds was planted out

A further two concrete stair treads were poured for the new staircase.

Two treads were added to the new concrete staircase

And in between all of that work, I had a free hour or two and spent that time completing the fix up of my old amplifier. I’ve had the machine since new, and hopefully with the refurbishment of many of the components, the machine will continue to work for many years to come.

The old amplifier gets a make-over

Most machine purchases work out well, but not all do so. Last year we purchased a blade attachment for the power wheelbarrow. The blade didn’t work because we’re on a slope. It would probably work with flat land, but that is not our lot. The blade attachment was sold off for way less than we paid for it. That’s life.

The blade attachment didn’t work here. Get outta here!

The recently planted tree fern continues to produce new fronds. It’s amazing to see.

Two fronds unfurl from the crown of the tree fern

The winter leafy greens germinated this week. I believe we are a few weeks late with starting them, but hopefully this is not the case.

Winter leafy greens have germinated in the greenhouse
And also in the raised garden beds

Last week we began an unusual experiment with the tomato and chilli plants. The plants were pulled from the ground. The roots were cleaned of soil and all leaves removed. Then, the plants were hung upside down. And believe it or not, the fruit is ripening.

Tomatoes ripen upside down in the greenhouse

The meyer lemon tree is beginning to produce a nice harvest of lemons. A very useful fruit.

A nice quantity of lemons

Onto the flowers:

Check out this succulent flower

Onto the err, dreaded leaf change.

This Medlar puts on a good autumn show
Blueberries have lovely autumn colour
The sunny orchard is fast going deciduous
I can see why the tourists descend upon the mountain range

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 14’C (57’F). So far this year there has been 254.8mm (10.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 253.6mm (10.0 inches)

35 thoughts on “Good Tines”

  1. Yo, Chris – Pinky seems like a fine machine. All I’d say is, don’t let you’re attention wander 🙂

    That’s also a fine fire. Were S’mores or weenies involved? Seems like an opportunity, that shouldn’t be let go by. You could even have done some nice chili dogs! Just set your smallish cast iron pot near the fire, and turn it from time to time. Saves on the solar.

    More rocks lurking. Cue the theme from “Jaws.”

    The path really, really looks nice. I don’t know about moving the faerie folk. This is the first time I’ve got a real good look at him. Oh, dear. The fern gully provided him a certain amount of cover. Now his business is exposed to all and sundry. Maybe he’d feel better if you planted some low ferns around him, to give him a bit of cover?

    The tree fern continues to amaze. I wonder what the tomatoes will taste like? I’ve heard mixed reviews, from that method. The chili ought to be just fine. Succulents are such amazing plants. So many interesting forms.

    Nice of you to post the leaf change pictures. I’ll just sit at home and not clutter up your local. 🙂 Arm chair traveler?

    I saw an interesting article in the Atlantic Magazine about “nutrient dilution.” Title: “Lush Prairies Could Really be ‘Green Deserts’ : Climate Change is Stripping Plants of Their Nutrients. That Could be a Disaster for the Animals Who Feed on Them.” Author: Amber Dance. Worth a look. Lew

  2. Hi crow,

    One of the secrets of the local pub is that it has no screens. It’s awful to behold really, because people have to kind of err, socialise. Yes, a true modern horror tale. 🙂 Your suggestion has great merit, and it would put an end to braggarts who over state the value of their assets, and understate their debt.

    Mate, I can’t make this stuff up: Australia’s ‘1 million empty homes’ and why they’re vacant – they’re not a simple solution to housing need. Would things be much different in your part of the world? And you’re right, they probably do vote.

    An infrequent commenter here has actually had that happen to them with the landlord just randomly turning up. Not good. The person has been quiet of late, but they have not gone away. Boundaries are a complicated matter in this society, and people conflate that issue with limits.

    The link unfortunately did not work, but I tell ya what, you gave enough information for me to check out their faceplant page. And oh my! Wow, what great food. It’s intense, and the place sounds like a lot of fun. Spotted a couple of pies, including a dessert pie. Yum. Why go anywhere else when you have that place as a local? 🙂



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for the most excellent advice, and I promise that Pinky will be number one and wont for nothing. That is, unless the little hussy of a machine prefers the Editor. If that happens, then that’s it, the honeymoon is definitely over. Machines, can’t live with ’em, pass the beer nuts. 🙂

    I kept slowly feeding the fire today and the stump is now almost gone. Mate, your timing with the suggestion is not good there. 😉 The fire is almost over. Now I’m getting this regretful feeling of a lost food opportunity. Down here, marshmallows on sticks over a fire are the more traditional use of a camp fire. Of course there is the billy of boiling water for a nice cup of tea. On a serious note, camp fire cooking takes a lot of skill. At my grandfathers drunken WWII buddies camp out in the middle of state forest (they were prepared for a challenge from the authoritas, and used to talk a lot of rubbish about that) they had a permanent fire place with a heavy cast iron stake which had these arms which swung out over the fire. The idea was that you hung billys or pans off the swing arms at various heights over the flames. Seemed to work. Nobody went hungry there, or thirsty for that matter.

    Yup, more rocks, less sharks. Especially those big bitey ones. Ouch!

    I’m enjoying how the path, and that whole area, is coming along. Just need a lot more large – yet moveable – rocks. I told you that the faerie folk little bloke was up to something naughty. Anyway, there is method to my madness here with having moved him into the public eye – or at least ours. He needs something of a close watch upon his activities lest he cause mischief, and in his comprising pose, he might end up being too busy with his own problems to cause dramas for us. That’s the theory anyway. I can see you have sympathy with him, and that’s an option I guess. 🙂

    Yes, leaf change is a double edged sword. It cuts on one side, and I appreciate you, appreciating the loveliness from a respectable distance. Others don’t seem to be that polite.

    Thanks for mentioning the article and they paywalled me. I’ll try again elsewhere in a few days. But I’ve mentioned that carbohydrates are up in plants and proteins, vitamins etc. are down – and this process has been going on for a lot of decades now. Mostly, it begins with the soil – sorry for sounding like a cliché, but it does. It is possible that folks have to get out of their ivory towers and get to work managing the prairie land. What did they expect would happen?

    Clearly it is something of a personal failing. 🙂 When we set up new systems here, we first test the theory out against real world conditions. The drainage pit for example has been the end point of a lot of earthworks and observation (both practical and theoretical).

    Oh really, what you wouldn’t watch the film, even for research purposes for the blog? What about a challenge? Maybe I’d re-read the book which dare not be named. Hehe! I tend to believe that the core message of the film was that things were better in the past. I do wonder how many people understood that aspect of the narrative.

    I know what you mean though. I used to be interested in cars, and nowadays I just want them to work and not give me hassles. It’s not too much to ask is it? How’s Frank doing anyway?

    That’s funny about waiting for the scrap metal market to go up. And true too. I dunno, maybe it is just me, but I don’t want to be surrounded by a cemetery of failed projects. The thing sold for a dollar – you read that correctly. I was a bit worried that at that price the guy who was meant to pick it up was going to stuff me around. As it was he ran about an hour late. It’s been my experience in recent years that people are very casual about spending other peoples time. That’s been something of a recent cultural shift, but it wasn’t always thus. You may also have noticed this change?

    You’re not wrong, there is a lot going on there with that Easter egg. Hope nobody attempted to consume the plastic cross. I’ll bet its been tried somewhere.

    The oats was a good score, and I enjoy that grain. Made two batches of toasted muesli today. There was so much sun that I thought I’d use it before the rain returns and there is less energy around.

    Did I mention the dead rat? Well, as you know we’ve been having a turf war with the cheeky rats, and one managed to get under the house – despite our best efforts. We sealed up the hole, and the rat never got out again – we bait under the floor, the risk of serious damage is too great. I had to crawl under the floor today and retrieve the dead rat. Very stinky, and under the kitchen floor too. Rather aromatic, as you’d imagine, and not in a good way.

    Seriously? It’s an impressive achievement, but then we learn through our failures. Need I mention the ill-treatment of the former wood heater. At least we’ve implemented everything we’ve learned. Now all we have to worry about is, what is important, that we don’t know about? I assume that engineering has similar issues? Ah, I see. There is a well established six step engineering method. What about refinement and/or correction? Is that all factored into the next project? It doesn’t appear that the bloke was related to that family, although you never know. It was interesting that he attempted to rebuild the bridge again using cast iron. But then he was something of an experimenter, who’d achieve success in other areas – just not there with that bridge.

    Really? I thought that monopoly was something of a training exercise, err, sorry game?

    Yup, you’re not wrong there.

    There was a big space storm last night, and I might have been able to see the Aurora this morning – had I awakened early enough.



  4. Yo, Chris – One must always be aware, to avoid lost food opportunities. 🙂 In open hearth cooking, there were things called “fireplace cranes.” You could swing kettles toward, or away from the fire. Hooks could be “chained” to raise or lower the pot.

    I Gargle “Atlantic Magazine.” And click on “Latest – The Atlantic.” Not “Latest Issue.” At least that works for me. The article was about too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. There were several different studies, over years, to come up with the results.

    I meant to ask Bill, our Club manager, if there were any news on Frank the Mechanic. I forgot. Maybe, tomorrow.

    So you had to pay a dollar, to have the blade hauled away? 🙂 Seems like a good deal. Seen on a t-shirt, the other day: “It Takes a Special Kind of Person to Wake Up Early and Still Be Late.”

    Prof. Mass has a post on our upcoming heatwave. Possible flooding.

    Dead rat. Is that one of those missed food opportunities?

    I watched some more of “Epic Engineering Disasters.” Learning about wind load, water load and earthquake loading.

    The 1970s court case was over a game called “Anti-Monopoly.” One of the original forms of the game, back in the 1880s was called “Landlord.” Also, anti-capitalist.

    I’m reading / skimming an interesting book. “Pathogenesis: A History of the World in Eight Plagues.” (Kennedy, 2023). There’s some interesting stuff, in there. About 1-4% of our DNA is from the Neanderthals. Which I knew. What I didn’t know is that we might have different bits, and, taken together, world wide we have around 40% of their DNA. Also, there’s some mystery as to why we replaced them, and several other early human species. The author speculates that we might have been carrying diseases, they couldn’t cope with. Also, the population of Europe “turned over” about three times, through ancient history. He wonders if it was plagues, that emptied out the land, so newcomers could arrive. Some recent DNA work, has discovered some of the earliest traces of bubonic plague, at one of these inflection points. Around 4,900 years ago.

    I watched a really good movie, last night. To set the scene … Back in 1952, the Japanese director Kurosawa made a film called “Ikiru.” It’s considered a classic, and I remember seeing it, decades ago. Anyway. It’s been made into a new film, called “Living” with Bill Nighy. It’s set in London, in the 1950s. A government bureaucrat discovers he’s got 6 months, to live. So, how to spend his remaining time? Interesting view of bureaucratic runaround, before phone trees. 🙂

    Do you get a holiday, for the coronation? Apparently, there’s a bit of a dust up over some of the official food. A quiche, made with beans. It’s a money saving move. There will be enough tooting going on, that they won’t have to break out the herald’s horns. Lew

  5. Chris,

    Good work with Pinky and relieving the old root balls from quality soil. Hard work even with the Pinky machine, but well worth the results. My dad had one of those big machines when I was young. I stayed away from it. It looked like it wanted to swallow me up when it was just sitting there in the garage.

    I dunno. The little-faerie-folk-that-was-moved looks rather embarrassed in the new surroundings. And further down in the picture of the greens sprouting in the container, methinks I saw an angry looking someone in the background. All I can say is to tread carefully until all are adjusted to the new whereabouts.

    I did some thinking about Nemesis Rock. A couple things…First, if the rock is not porous, when water is poured into the drilled holes and freezes, a majority of the expansion of the ice might come out the top of the hole. Perhaps. Second, maybe scoring some small grooves connecting the drilled holes and adding some water to them would help a bit. Finally, it might help after a few freezing nights if you were to smack Nemesis Rock with a sledgehammer a few times. Not trying to break it, necessarily, but in an attempt to enhance the expansion of the ice. Good luck.

    Give Sandra my thanks. Her reading some Wodehouse got me to start on rereading the 3 books I’ve got. Note to self…I need to obtain a copy of “Code of the Woosters”. That is by far the best of his books that I’ve read.

    So who’s the eccentric Welshman fighting Faerie? Title of the book? It sounds like it has possibilities.

    I usually don’t ask the rocks if they want to be moved, either. I’ve heard that they think slower, much slower, than do humans. It might take a few eons before they respond. I can’t wait that long and move them when I want to.

    I’m with you on dentists. I do NOT like them working on my teeth. So, it’s in for the regular cleanings, keep up with the regular brushing and (gasp) I might even floss a few times a week. Better than getting PROBED like by an alien in my mouth. And those people who take blood samples when your physician needs lab work done on you? Those bloodsuckers are the modern vampires. 😉

    Yes, the price they paid for my speaking was good. And the long and leisurely lunch was enjoyable, company included. I knew we’d have a good time, as I’d known them both well when a student.

    And yes again, I had a fair amount of public speaking experience by that time. Speech tournaments starting at age 12 at the Catholic school started it, then being in several theater productions in and out of school, presentations in front of classmates at university and graduate school. I also did presentations to the public on my job, as well as some presentations to senior staff members.

    The Princess arrived home from her latest venture out. She is well. The situations with rellies and my friend are still ongoing.

    Oh, and glad that your experiment of hanging the tomatoes is working. We tried that one year and it worked. Slowly. The speed might have something to do with the fact that my parents hanged the tomatoes in the basement with no light. I think they would’ve ripened better with any kind of regular light. But they did ripen.


  6. Hi DJ,

    Yes, I agree, the machines have a rather menacing quality to them. They’ll do you up a treat, if you don’t treat them right! It’s funny you say that about soil, but the local earthworks guy told me years ago – and he was full of wisdom: That despite what you think there’s never enough soil; And no, he would not bring clean fill back up the hill, something, something possibility of broken axle on truck; And also, it was hard not to notice that he studiously ignored my request to collect any top soil. As an interesting side story, when later pressed on the top soil issue, he told me that everyone asks for that, and no it can’t be done economically. He was a good bloke, I really enjoyed my chats with him, and learned a lot.

    Mate, the little fella was always embarrassed. But don’t fool yourself, this may be a purely theatrical pose, whilst all along he plots some nefarious mischief, to my dismay. Best he’s kept out there where everyone can see, and he’s busy with the show of embarrassment. He’s not though.

    And the angry dude, well that’s west. West faces off east, which takes the form of a Chinese guard dog, and thus the moons are balanced. Neither has the upper hand, they’re equally dangerous, and both have to glare at each other across the concrete step. You read it here first. You know, the things I do for the greater good that few would ever think to thank me for. 😉 Don’t blame me if the poop hits the fan though, blame that little fella. He probably did something.

    Sound advice in relation to the rock. I’m considering drilling more holes, and deeper holes along the line I hope to eventually crack. We’ll see. The jackhammer will have that effect with the mallet.

    Hmm. DJ, I must in fact, we all must, remedy this lack of Wodehouse in our lives. The Editor and I had a discussion on this very matter, only just then. Things will get sorted, but maybe in a few weeks, or perhaps a month or two. That’s what living at the bottom of the planet looks like. It was not lost on me that the author Jack Vance acknowledges the genius of Mr Wodehouse. And I need to make acquaintance with this Jeeves character you speak of. You do realise that I used to work for some serious toffs, and was perhaps in the role of the trouble defying Jeeves. This is why I know what the future holds in store. When I read stupid comments of people in other forums talking up the sinister nature of our aristocracy, I do wonder about the awfulness of it all, and that expresses itself as: Have you actually met them?

    I just read the Welshman’s (and I noted that your ears pricked up) chapter on his one true adventure in the realms of love, which as you’d imagine involved the land of faerie. Very funny. Goblinproofing One’s Chicken Coop, is the title.

    Waiting for an answer from the rocks is like…

    Those who can, endure the mouth probing experience stoically, knowing that things could always be worse. I’ve heard what aliens get up to and want nothing at all to do with that gear. Others, well, they were warned, and so have to take their chances.

    The cynic in me wonders about the blood letting, and pathology labs ain’t cheap. The ancient leech was cheaper, but probably had lesser certain knowledge in this instance. I can’t now recall where, but I read something about them encountering bleeding and making the assumption that there was too much blood and the stuff wanted to get out. It’s an opinion, I guess. Best if both were avoided, if possible.

    A convivial lunch is a wondrous thing. Oh, that is getting in early with public speaking. No bad thing though, and one’s fellow classmates are the harshest of critics, so if you could survive them… My first experience with that skill was with reporting to the entire school assembly with the weeks running results. Yes, harsh critics, but soon blithely ignored. And if you can survive that lot… Reading the audience is something of a skill. Do they look bored? That’s the question.

    Hope everything works out, but you know, maybe. In the meantime, remember to look after yourself, and your lady as well.

    Thanks for the tip. The tomatoes and chilli’s are hanging in the greenhouse – plenty of light in there, even at this time of year. Had the most superb late April weather today. Really very delightful. That doesn’t happen every day you know. 😉



  7. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, I agree lost food opportunities are always something of a sad occasion. 🙂 The pie month is not all year, and in fact is limited to the month of April. There is only so much free time to venture forth into the remote regions of the council area and put the pies to the test. Speaking as something of an old campaigner myself though, one must never ignore one’s victuals. The awful truth is that a person can never be too sure as to the quality of the next meal.

    The fireplace crane was exactly it. The contraption didn’t look at all like the many fancy cast iron units in the Gaggerll search. It was more fundamental, but worked the same. The main post had three arms hanging of it which could all be swivelled so that the pot hung at different heights over the fire. Pretty clever technology, and it just works.

    Mate, I couldn’t seem to shake off the dreaded paywall. It always came back to that. The computer tells the interweb page where I am located, and that could be the deal breaker for the magazine. But most certainly, I am well aware that the composition of our food stuffs is changing, and has done so for a very long time. The soils, the atmosphere, the diversity of life, upsetting the stability of the climate are all subject to the tragedy of the commons. I don’t really seek a silver bullet theory with that story, because it’s more like what you once told me about the fall of Rome, it took a lot of mischief, poor decision making, and plain old bad luck to end up in the dumpster.

    Dunno, but I’ve noticed a tendency with people to look at problems like that in isolation, believing they are somehow remote from other factors. The whole thing is a mess. Probably something we as a species need to get onto, but I have my doubts about that.

    Very funny! Yeah, maybe I did! The blade attachment just didn’t work here, and hopefully the thing will work elsewhere. Probably better being re-used than the steel ending up being recycled. The hippies might agree with me there. But they might also be winning.

    The t-shirt is a ripper. 🙂

    Ah, we had similar temperatures to your upcoming heatwave, today. It was a remarkably pleasant day weather wise. One of the finest which could be expected for this time of year. Unfortunately, as things get warmer for you, they cool for us. Hopefully the snow melt doesn’t cause flooding, and the good professor makes an excellent concluding point about the dams.

    I don’t think so. Yuck! The stinky dead rodent is now in the worm farm. They know how to deal with such twitchy nosed miscreants. Fortunately, the kitchen no longer has the mild background odour of dead rat. I do not endorse that smell in food preparation areas. Anyway, it was a good thing because a mate turned up here for lunch today and also spent some time in the kitchen. An enjoyable time was had, and the conversation was lively.

    Wind load is something which is on my mind. It’s the gusts which cause the drama, not the more usually expected average conditions. The engineer who did the calcs and specifications for this house chose high wind loading response. And it was a good choice. May have even assisted with the 5.9 earthquake that day. The damage was very minimal despite the proper shaking we enjoyed. Dunno about water load, but then watching the Grand Designs UK show over the years, it’s been a source of wonder to me (in a bad way) that serious people in the UK would opt for a flat roof – or even heavier, a living roof. Can you imagine the load stresses one of those heavy roofs would place on a building? I always look at them with a mild form of horror (the show tends to provoke that reaction) and wonder how the roof would hold if there was say, a super cell rainstorm? I’ve experienced four inches of rain falling in an hour here. Not fun.

    Were there any spectacular disasters of note in the course?

    That’s fascinating, and I’d not heard of either board game before. But clearly you can see where the inspiration from the other more well known game originated. The Landlord game was particularly close. Some of the names used on the board were very amusing. Speaking of such things, the Editor and I have decided to invest in some (yes, some. A truly frightening number of) books written by P G Wodehouse. I can probably relate a bit to the Jeeves character trials. Probably I’m a bit like Radar O’Reilly, who had a notably competent boss. Haven’t always enjoyed such good fortune with that. 😉

    That’s some light bedtime reading! I had not known that about the Neanderthals and their contribution to our genetic heritage. That’s quite the collection of a good chunk of their genetic map. Oh yeah, plague is really nasty, with a side serving of high mortality rates – usually following on from a major crop failure year, or more. The thing is probably always present just waiting for its day in the sun. It’s a bit eerie to consider. There was a lot of movement within Europe after the fall of the Roman Empire. That surprised me, reading about that change. When were the other major population upheavals?

    Oh yeah, Bill Nighy is a great actor. I’d previously heard of the film and so have watched the trailer, and known of the origins story. Definitely on the to-see list. Mate, truly, those phone things are my nightmare. Need it be that hard, really? A mate, who is well read, always recommends the ‘Bullshit Jobs’ book. Reading that might frighten me, like bad nightmares.

    No public holiday as far as I understand the matter. It’s all rather unfair. The state of Western Australia may get one, maybe. The problem we have down here is that all but one state (the island state of Tasmania) have left leaning Labour Party governments, and they all probably want a republic. Not sure why, but they seem to want to. They tried a referendum many years ago (a change to the constitution) and it didn’t make it. I voted against it, mostly because the position of President was decided by politicians, and not the public. Can’t have the common muck deciding upon such matters can we? Yeah, it seemed like a dud idea to me to pull that swifty, and plenty of other people chose not to support the model.



  8. Hello Chris
    You do get through an incredible amount of work, it was all very interesting as were the photos also.
    My son detests the colour pink and his dislike even extends to pink flowers.
    Things are still busy and difficult as my sister’s husband has now died just 5 weeks after she did. How on earth he managed to hide his own extreme ill health from everyone, I can’t imagine.
    My niece in the US has a nightmare on her hands for many reasons that I can’t go into.
    Hurrah! The sun is shining.


  9. Yo, Chris – Australia has much more interesting themed months, than we do here. At least you get some good meals out of the deal. I’ll probably get in trouble for this one, but first we had “Black History Month.” Next up, was “Women’s History Month.” I quipped that next up would probably be “Black Women’s History Month.” This month’s theme seems to be something about mental health.

    Hmm. I’m tempted to drop the Atlantic Magazine a line, and ask them, “What did Australia ever do to you?”

    You rehoused your blade attachment. Very commendable. I wonder if there’s a rescue blades group? 🙂

    Yes, I caught Prof. Mass’s parting shot. I’m sure he’ll hear about that one. Dams. Flood control, irrigation, and, sometimes, pretty clean power generation. Seems like a pretty good deal, to me. But there’s a lot of moaning about the salmon runs.

    Last night, I watched a lecture on our very own Galloping Gertie. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge. That was due to sustained winds of 40 mph. Wind vortexes above and below the bridge deck. Engineers hubris.

    There was also a segment on the Murrah Building terrorist attack, down in Texas. “Blast Load.” That was kind of something new, and after, there was a lot of analysis to figure out how to blast proof buildings. Turned out that earthquake proofing is the way to go, along with some other tweaks.

    “Folk Games.” Games that float around until someone tries to patent them.

    I keep looking for that recommended book. I suppose I might do an interlibrary loan, but with a title like that … They may take away my library card! 🙂

    Yes. Unelected officials are a big deal, over here. Worse are the positions that are supposedly non partisan. Oh, come on. Everyone’s got an ax to grind. So, I find myself poking into their backgrounds, to see if there’s any red flags. It’s like reading tea leaves or consulting the omens.

    I’ll get back to you on the population changes. Time to head to the Club for biscuits and gravy! Lew

  10. Chris,

    Thank you thank you thank you for balancing the moons! Your efforts in saving the rest of us from possible cosmic disaster are much appreciated. Keep up the good work. 🙂

    Good. More holes. More smacking it around. More jacks from the hammer. Sounds good. Take that Nemesis Rock!

    May your introduction to Wodehouse and his incredible character Jeeves come soon! Wodehouse was pure genius in devising myriad disasters for the idle class to get bombarded with. Either his imagination was incredible, or else he witnessed some of the escapades and turned them into books.

    Darn, neither of our local library systems has the Goblinproofing book. Clearly they are lacking in some aspects of higher culture! I will investigate other means of obtaining the book.

    Leeches (as in the human bloodletters) and vampires (as in the human blood takers) are best avoided. Vampires and leeches of all types, actually. I’ve heard that also, the belief that bleeding was a sign that there was excess blood that needed to be allowed to escape. I’m glad that our thinking has improved somewhat.

    Indeed, my classmates were honest in their reviews of my speeches. My first English teacher at Catholic school was merciless in her critiques! She was also lavish with her praise when it was warranted. She wanted us to improve and her criticism usually included ideas for how to improve. She was a nun, was a lot of fun, and never smacked our knuckles with rulers.

    Today was a day of looking after both myself and the Princess. Things always work out one way or another. Situations seem to be stabilizing in a positive direction for now. Maybe.

    We had a lot of rain Sunday night. Maybe 10mm here. It was cold and windy, too. As advertised, things will heat up shortly – maybe +28C by Saturday. Far cry from the 10C to 12C that we’ve been having. Then supposed to return to a more typical 16C early next week.


  11. Hi DJ,

    Yes, thanks very much. I’d like to think that I was performing a useful service in that regard! Cosmic disaster is never far away. Just look at the current massive space storm, the aurora was seen at quite low latitudes (certainly further north than here). Of course, I take no responsibility for this foot stomping outburst from the big fusion reactor at the centre of the solar system.

    The nemesis rock is on notice. It’s days are numbered, maybe. You can smell the fear from here.

    I’m looking forward to getting stuck into some Wodehouse. And took note of your favourite. It’s not just you who was wondering about that issue. We may never find out.

    Goblinproofing is a very entertaining book. Quite eccentric in a Welsh rural sort of way, not that I’d know what that would look like, but it’s how I’d imagine that to be. A mate long ago worked in the UK in a law office, and recently said to me that he encountered some quite eccentric characters in his work. The aristocracy have a job to keep us entertained. Mr Wodehouse probably knew this.

    With either the leech or a vampire a person ran the very real possibility of becoming dead, or undead. Either way, things may go badly.

    Kids have no filters when it comes to reviewing their peers. A rather brutal process, as you are aware. 🙂 You were lucky to have encountered a passionate teacher, and that luck includes your knuckles. Dunno about you, but when I encounter criticism I do try to discern the motivations behind the words. Not always easy to do. Sometimes in my work I’m in a position where I have to tell it like it is. My experience suggests that few people thank you for such words, and sometimes there is a sort of grudging acknowledgement. Yes, explore and enjoy the full spectrum of emotional responses through the work place. 🙂

    Very good to take it easy during such times. Good to hear.

    10mm is a useful amount of rain during warmer weather. Hope the garden is growing strongly? Strangely the weather here has been very similar to your experience. 25’C today, and hang on, don’t stress, the rain and cooler weather will return in a few days.



  12. Hi, Chris!

    “Good Tines” rather symbolizes you; you could put it on the family crest: A rake for neatness and a fork for food well-grown and well-cooked.

    Thanks for reminding me of that: “Son, the world needs ditch diggers too”.

    You know how I feel about flat land . . .

    I was born and raised in the city, too. Suburban, but swallowed up by the city. Then, when my husband and I got married, we bought the old broken down house in inner-city Dallas and fixed that up. After seven years we said: “We have to get out of here!” and eventually found this property in rural Virginia. And have never regretted it.

    My husband’s little1984 Nissan pickup truck is now pink. He wouldn’t part with it for anything.

    Kuh-Ris! You know about downhill! You know that you can’t push something – especially motorized, with a mind of its own – downhill! Mama Mia! But I am glad that you now have Pinky. I am wondering how I ever lived without Little Yellow, the wheelbarrow/cart hybrid. But I don’t push him straight downhill . . .

    Several nice boulders have now been positioned by Mr. Diggy around our water well head which is near the driveway. Now no more worries about the UPS truck knocking it over. Though I suppose they might complain should the driver run into boulders instead.

    I am so sorry that Andrew is gone. It hurts to lose someone who has been so helpful and nice and that one has known for so long.

    What a fantastic shot of the water tanks and greenhouse and orchard and house and – Plum?

    I was late planting the arugula this spring, though I got the other greens in early, so now it is the same size as the greens that you have just planted.

    The tomatoes are turning out well, ripening up. The lemons look wonderful, too.

    Thanks for letting me peep at your autumn leaves. Blueberry leaves are always some of my favorites.

    Rest in peace Rat . . .


  13. Hi Lewis,

    No offence, but I’d prefer the pie and tart month and at least the Editor and I can each enjoy the festivities. I’m not really a great believer in segregation, if only because people are people and that’s how it rolls. A lot of the err, activities being gamed right now, are just a different form of that. And my best guess is that the desired result is to drive a wedge in the community. It’s not very nice, but it’s not lost on me that a group strong with a strong hand wouldn’t play those cards.

    Hehe! Hey, likely one of the senior reporters from that magazine whilst reporting on location was bitten by a snake, spider, scorpion, ant, miscellaneous reptile, shark, stingray, jellyfish, and/or crocodile. It can happen. And the reporter may have survived, and now holds a grudge. Oh yeah, it’s personal this time!

    I’d like to think that, despite the hippies winning (and we all know this to be true), they might at least acknowledge that it was a good deed rehousing the little lost blade attachment? You might be onto something with that thought. Maybe we can get a filthy mad cash laden grant, then our fortunes will be made? How busy would we be, it’s not like there’s much demand for the things.

    I took on board your advice too about watching for a warehouse clearance for the inverter, and they did seem like they were getting cheaper. Ended up splashing the mad cash for a spare – not as good as what we have, but good enough to get by without too much difficulty and of the locally made folks who are closing operations. Without boring you with the details, the machines made overseas may not work as well in the warmer conditions which we get here – there were a lot of complaints about fan noise with the euro made machine, and that says hot electronics to me. Good, but not good enough. Next step, work out how to fix the things when they inevitably break. Mr Kunstler’s World Made by Hand series mentioned a side story of a failed turbine generator. A lesson for the (is imprudent the correct word?) there.

    That’s what I thought too. Everyone complains about the expense of such water management systems, until they get flooded, then they complain about not having spent the mad cash. There’s a pattern in there somewhere, but I can’t quite see it clearly. 😉 You can’t have both.

    Did you get any flooding?

    Talk about design which doesn’t suit the prevailing conditions with that bridge. The footage is incredible, and the poor frightened dog. Funny though, when the earthquake hit here, the three dogs refused to go outside. It would be interesting to find out what was going on in their minds that day. They looked more excited than stressed, but they weren’t budging either.

    I can see that about the earthquake proofing a building. I’m guessing the building has enough flexibility to absorb the shock, without failing. A fine line. I do wonder about ‘the big one’ in your part of the world. We have a ‘big one’ risk here, but that’s fire. The house takes that into account, but do I want to risk my life on the premise: Surely we didn’t stuff anything up during the construction? We were very careful, but it’s the things you don’t think about which cause you to come unstuck.

    That’s funny. I can see that.

    If someone can get offended, they just might do so. Seems to be going around these days. Do you believe that perhaps the person processing the inter library loan feels that way about their own job? Could be a problem.

    Peoples actions generally display the inner workings of their character. And in these interweb days, it’s kind of hard to hide ones actions. The rental app thing I mentioned to you the other day requested social media feeds. I’d imagine I’d look pretty dodgy when I said I don’t have any. You might be able to pull the old duffer card in that instance – always worth using at such moments and a mate of mine does so with a later laugh. When I heard the report of this on the youth news the journo’s sounded troubled by that, and mentioned past indiscretions posted about. Talk about a brave new world.

    Yum! Yum! Was H well behaved?



  14. Hi Inge,

    Yes, thanks I’ve been told this. Truthfully though, there’s plenty of time these days when I’m not working. I had to learn how to find a workable balance the hard way. It happens. You don’t sound to me as if work is an unfamiliar concept to you either? (That sounds grammatically incorrect?) Anyway, my lot is to work, and work I shall.

    Well your son might be horrified to know that when painting the trailer many years ago I gave Sandra the option to choose the colour, and she chose a very bright yellow. There was pink in that mix of colours. Fortunately, such things don’t worry me, but I can see other guys would squirm. I get a lot of compliments on the bright yellow trailer usually in the form of: Nobody’s gonna pinch that trailer mate. Cue cheeky return grin.

    Oh my goodness, Inge I’m so sorry to hear that about your brother in law. May he rest in peace near to your sister.

    I’m not entirely sure whether your question was rhetorical, but I’ve known some people to draw down upon enormous reserves of personal energy. But there is always a cost to be paid for doing so. In some ways it was very considerate of him.

    Ha! No need to go into details, but rest assured my capacity to comprehend complicated familial situations is quite extensive. Rarely do such things go smoothly. And I’ve noted that funerals and weddings bring out the best and worst in people. Aren’t we creatures of extremes?

    Glad to hear the sun is shining for you. It’s been rather warm this week here. But the weather will soon turn cooler.



  15. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely comment, but I’ve run out of time to reply this evening. Worked late today. No fun. Oh well, gotta pay the bills and stuff, and that’s what work is for. Will speak tomorrow.



  16. Yo, Chris – I’m reading a humorous book, right now, called “Stick a Flag in It.” A tongue in cheek history of England. I was reading about the English Civil War, and how Cromwell and his mob, started banning all kinds of fun stuff, left and right. Closed the theaters, took down the May Poles, banned gingerbread men, Christmas and … pies. No wonder as soon as he was out of the way, they invited back good King Charles II (who was a real fun guy.) I wonder if it was banning Christmas, or pies, that was “a bridge too far?” 🙂

    Well, I’ve always felt that when it comes to foreign travel, you pay your money and take your chances. Hmmm. Maybe the leaf peppers should take that concept, on board? I see there’s something very big and toothy, lurking off your shores.

    Hot electronics are not a good thing. Unless maybe they fell off the back of a truck 🙂 .

    Since the last round of flooding, there’s been a lot of talk about building a damn. Commissions, study groups, the tribes are involved, several jurisdictions, etc. etc.. Bottom line? Nothing is getting done or moving forward. It’s interesting. I’ve noticed that “the man (and woman) in the street” are now aware that filling in the wetlands, with a lot of commercial development, is not a good thing. Not that they have any power to stop all that filling in. But it’s become “common knowledge.”

    As the weather warms, and the snow level rises (melts), then the rivers will start going up. So, we may have perfectly glorious weather, and flooding. So far, no flood warnings, except some on the east side of the mountains.

    The last couple of lectures on “Epic Engineering Failures” have been about metal fatigue. Plans, ships, bridges. And, a lecture on one of my favorite disasters, the Boston Molasses Flood of 1919.

    When I put in an interlibrary loan request, it goes to one department that rides herd on those. When I make a purchase request, it goes to the selectors. The folks who actually order stuff for the library system. Usually, they have areas they specialize in. Say, children’s books. Maybe adult non-fiction. Movies. I don’t know how many there are, but they sometimes cover more than one classification. During You Know What, I think things were pretty chaotic at the Service Center. They were shut tight, for awhile. And I think there was a lot of staff turnover, for one reason and another.

    Yes, I’d also get low scores in the social media department. And, I suppose you need all kinds of apps and I-phones to pull off a simple rental.

    H got to clean up two plates of the gravy and sausage end of things. And became a pain in the … ear, as she wanted more. You’d think we didn’t feed her, or she’s Oliver Twist, or something.

    OK. Population dynamics in Europe, in prehistoric times. About 9,000 years ago, hunter gatherers came out of Africa, and moved into northern Europe. Ocean levels were lower, and they may have even crossed at Gibraltar. They probably came across Neanderthals. They crossed into Britain, due to Doggerland. Again, low ocean levels = no Channel. See: Cheddar Man. He was one of those folks. They were almost entirely replaced by …

    Farmers, who migrated in from the east. As they had domesticated animals, they probably carried all kinds of cooties, that did the Hunter-Gatherers in. In Britain, that was about 6,000 years ago. Otzi the iceman was one of that lot. This is the bunch that built Stonehenge. Or, at least got a good start on it.

    Next act: Steppe Herders. 4,800 to 4,900 years ago, they came out of the east, and replaced the farming communities. Might have been conquest, but there were some other interesting things going on. About 5,000 years ago, the farming folk population crashed. Some even reverted to hunter-gathering, again. For about 500 years, the land was pretty empty. It’s about this time that plague, shows up in the DNA record.

    See: Amesbury Archer. He was one of the Steppe folks, and was buried near Stonehenge. His DNA revealed that he was from the area, around Switzerland.

    The author makes the point that diseases, race ahead of incoming peoples. Of course, I suppose many scholars are lining up to dance on the heads of pins. Dissertations will be lobbed from distances of 30 paces. But I think, given current research, the author is onto something.

    I raked out three garden beds, last night. None, my own. Just to give the Master Gardeners a leg up. Interesting how the soil in the three beds, differed. One has pretty good soil. It’s the bed that is a problem, due to weeds. Where I dug out the mat. But, I think all the weeds, coming and going, living and dying, has really built up the soil. The communal strawberry bed, was a bit odd. A few inches down, I hit hardpan. But, as strawberries have pretty shallow roots, probably not a problem. The third bed belongs to the Garden Goddess, and has never seen anything other than chemical fertilizers. Pretty dead soil. Lew

  17. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the idea for the crest, and for noticing the title. 🙂 I’d wondered if peoples minds would skip over the title and read a different word? Life is too short for ordinary food – and not to mention that would be a wasted opportunity.

    Historically in farming based societies, I’ve read that about 90% of people were involved in subsistence agriculture. It could have been higher than that from time to time too. Anyway, I’ve had status, and it ain’t worth the paper it is written on, but people do so reach for it. The other day I was reading about varying personality types, and funnily enough the close representation of myself is not interested in status. So I might be hard wired for that? But I’m not too proud to dig a ditch. They do say that pride is the devil.

    🙂 I hear you about that, and yes I know. Flat land would come with other hassles.

    Ah yes, wise to leave Dallas before it swallows you up. It’s half again as large as the big smoke, and that is getting way too big for my liking. I went in there today, and got home late. I’m with you, and do not regret the change of scenery.

    Hehe! A lot of metal primer paint was pink, and that’s how things roll. People get strange about such symbols.

    Not exactly. I’d never used one of these machines before, and had to learn the hard way. Fortunately the machine has a dead man’s control lever, but whoo whee, it took off downhill at an alarming pace. That’s so true, the thing does have a mind of its own. Yeah, hybrid wheelbarrows are a wonderful thing, and when the ground rises above you, knowing that a machine will give some assistance with moving stuff – that’s awesome.

    Imagine the expense repairing the damage done by a careless delivery driver? What a nightmare scenario. Wise to put some protections around the head of the well. It’s kind of important.

    It’s no good, but you know, in life you accumulate loss and have to live with that. What do you do? And there is always the possibility of discovering a new and better gourmet pie. You never know.

    Ruby. 🙂 Yeah, I dunno, sometimes I worry about planting things out late, and it works out just fine. Then there are other times… A punnet of seedlings can do wonders at such times.

    The blueberries have such an intense red colour don’t they?

    It rained here today, and will do so again tomorrow. I was hoping to set another cement step, but alas will do other things instead.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Half an hour later, and also a very hot dinner, I’d read the first chapter of the rather quirky, and fun, history book you mentioned. My friend, I am weak, and all these book recommendations test my mettle, and find it wanting. The book is now on its way. Wasn’t the ending note for William the Conqueror fitting? Putrid, but amusing.

    Oh hot, yes, well, we had a case of the curse of Cherokee – Chili edition. Due to an unintended miscalculation, two chilli’s ended up in tonight’s meal rather than a single, and my mouth is on fire and guts are now rolling. This baby is gonna hurt again tomorrow when it gets delivered. Ouch!

    I’m not really into the Puritans world-view. Seems extraordinarily un-fun with a lack of pies. You know that would provoke a response. Yes, yes, I understand the issues with the may-poles, and the theatres were a bit bawdy. I get that, but not the gingerbread men or pies. C’mon guys, really! Heads would roll, and probably did. Oh yes, definitely a step too far – either.

    Speaking of such things, the meat area at the supermarket was stripped bare last night. Bonkers. We’re vegetarians at home, but I do buy some mince for the chickens – chicken is not a vegetable, and chickens are not vegetarians. Ended up getting lamb mince instead of beef mince (who knew beef was a word with French origins?) I was listening to the youth news radio program this evening, and there was a lot of discussion about how expensive food has become, and food charities are getting stretched thin.

    Actually, I’ve long thought that the local general store would work better at such heavy tourist times if they gave up on the idea of table service and just did take away instead. Easier on the staff too. I would do seated to about maybe 10am to accommodate the locals, and then take away only from that point onwards – and don’t have people loitering around inside, make ’em wait outside. The thing is, they’re not regular customers, and won’t be there for the rest of the year, so why cater to them? Makes no sense to me.

    Mate, there is always big and toothy stuff lurking off shore – right around the entire continent. Ocean swimming is an exciting prospect let me tell you. During an event I ended up in the middle of jellyfish swarm and the first I knew about it was when I smacked my arm down on the fleshy body. Was this a shark I thought to myself? The next thought was are these dudes poisonous? Had rashes up my arms and legs after that encounter. Kind of threw me off my game for the rest of the event. I avoid the ocean nowadays.

    Well there is that aspect. But trucks seem better sealed these days. There was a report about some gang stealing catalytic converters up north of the country. It would be annoying.

    If nothing is happening, there is no force to change the current flood issues. Wonder if those businesses are insured? Flood risk coverage is not cheap when in flood risk areas.

    The after image of the Great Molasses Flood is shocking, but the storage tank was huge. Ah, I see they were fermenting, then distilling the liquid. Not good and the construction of the tank was allegedly quite shoddy. The disaster would have been very difficult to clean up.

    That’s my understanding. Oh, and mad cash helps too with the applications. Apparently you have to pay for background checks. Bonkers. But if an arrangement was desired and established so as to stop people from selling off their houses and driving down the market should things get worse, well, let’s just say that we might get to a point where there are no good options.

    Please sir! H has worked out some natty strategies to test you. I told you she was conducting subtle experiments upon you.

    Cheddar man was a fascinating read. And Doggerland is also really interesting. Yes, you can almost imagine that migrations followed agricultural failures and population growth. Not much different today, really. It certainly doesn’t take a large imaginative leap to see that widespread plague could wreak such havoc. Stonehenge must have required a rather substantial agricultural surplus to produce. The stones are immense. Not impossible to move, just very difficult and slow. Hey, does anyone have any idea as to how long Stonehenge took to complete? I’d imagine a few generations would have been required, especially if the stones came from a fair distance away. I guess we’re also discovering that the site was far more complex than previously thought too – like the imprints left behind in the ground of another nearby circular structure.

    I agree, disease would race ahead – not dissimilar from The Stand. People flee, and carry the disease with them, some get further than others.

    Nothing wrong with letting ground go fallow – that’s a traditional method of restoring some life back into the soil. But yes, I too have seen such soils. I’ve got a theory about the compacted soil at the bottom of those beds. Earthworms have stopped digging into and through the beds, and the soil stabilises. I’ve seen that happen here with the raised beds. It doesn’t seem to affect the plants grown there. Strawberries can have quite large root systems from what I’ve seen of them. Hehe! Can spray, will kill! It happens…



  19. Yo, Chris – LOL. I never know what books I mention you’re going to take up. Spaghetti / wall. There’s probably a dissertation in there, somewhere.

    It’s forecast to be 70F, today. And 80F (26.7C) the next two days. Then, back to cooler temps. I might go down to the big box hardware, tonight, and see what kinds of small air conditioners they have. If any.

    Down through the ages, people have tried to legislate morality. Never works out. “Morality” is such a moving target. One of the conditions of Good King Charles II’s triumphant return was that he didn’t go too wild with vengeance. So, he had a list of 100 people. I think a couple of them escaped to America, and probably led very nervous lives. Cromwell was dug up, and beheaded. The head was on a pike for quit awhile, and then blew off, during a storm. A soldier retrieved it, and stuffed it up a chimney. It kicked around “…various private collectors and museums…” until it was finally buried in 1960, at Cambridge College.

    It’s always an adventure, going to the store, these days. Swiss cheese has still not appeared. Gallons of white vinegar have disappeared. No baking walnuts. Can’t find the cheaper biscuits, for biscuits and gravy. Sigh. The new normal.

    Your idea is good, but the change over from table service, to take out, might be a bit fraught. People being people.

    I see you also had a very large crocodile with it’s head whacked off. Looks like a machete attack. I doubt his head will end up being buried at Cambridge.

    I had my catalytic converter, stolen, a couple of decades ago. And I was parked a block and a half from the police station. There was a ring (or two) working here, not long go. I was pretty nervous, for awhile. But, they caught some of them, and, the penalties were also beefed up. Seems to have slacked off, for the moment.

    You may remember I read an entire book about the molasses flood, a couple of years ago. A nearby fire station was overwhelmed, several firemen died, and some were trapped for a time in the wreckage.

    Stonehenge seemed to always be a “work in progress.” All sort of bells and whistles, added along the way. Processional ways, satellite henges. There are a few theories as to how the whole complex functioned. Maybe one ceremonial began at a woodhenge, up river (The Salisbury Avon), which might have symbolized the beginning of life, and then a procession downriver, to Stonhenge, and then Stonehenge was the endpoint and symbolized, maybe, the end of life. Theories are thick on the ground. And, it’s ceremonies probably changed meaning and enactment, over time. Then there’s the whole astronomical aspect.

    Jackpot at the library, yesterday. Seven DVDs. A documentary (“The Center Seat: 55 Years of Star Trek”), a couple of series, and the rest movies. I think there’s going to be popcorn, in my future. I might watch “Lost Boys,” tonight. A pristine, Blue Ray copy. I see “Cocaine Bear,” is in transit to me. Good times. Lew

  20. Chris,

    There’s a fusion reactor at the center of the solar system? I thought we were still 20 years away from usable fusion? 😉

    The Nemesis Rock’s fear has an odor? Maybe that’s the weird smell in the neighborhood sometimes. That and burning leaves.

    We took Wednesday as the midweek hiatus. Errands and chores demanded our attention. We took everything out of the Princess’s car, then we washed and vacuumed the car. After that we cleaned the hard surfaces of the interior with that miracle elixir called Armor All. Car looks like new now. New car smell costs extra, however. The car looks nice, does NOT smell new.

    Learning to take criticism is an art form that takes work to even be almost competent with. Learning to discern the motivation of the person being critical is even harder. The worst kind was always, “The problem with you is…” Nothing good ever followed that phrase in my experience.

    The workplace was filled more with people casting blame and projecting their own weaknesses in attempts to cover their backsides, err, shortcomings. Especially with the younger set, when training people I had to preface the correction of any mistakes with lavish praise. Else the feelings would be too hurt to learn from the mistakes. Another tactic was to say, “Hmmmm, that’s one way to do it. I’ve found that this is a better way to do it and gives more consistent results.”

    I remember late in my career, I was training a newish employee on something. Rather than a computerized file, I had inherited and continued to use a low tech card file system for something. The new employee came running over to me in total fear, exclaiming, “DJ you’re gonna kill me I dropped the card file and everything is mixed up on the floor!” I calmly replied, “Well, let’s go pick it up and go through it together. I think some of the cards are out of date, too. Let’s fix it: that way you get to see how to build this back up from scratch. Oh, I’ve dropped it 3 or 4 times myself, so no big deal.” All of which was true. The total fear that a major beat down was coming seemed strange to me.

    We missed seeing the aurora here. It was supposed to be visible much further south than we are. Hard to see it when it’s raining. Alas! That has been true of the last 4 or 5 aurora events. I’ve always enjoyed watching it. It was routine to see it in Fairbanks (when it was clear) and it could be spectacular there.

    One of the most spectacular auroras in Spokane was in the summer of 1982. It was my sister’s birthday. We were watching a baseball game on the telly. Then we ventured out and noticed the aurora, which filled the entire sky, pulsing in waves and streaks. Lasted for hours, did the aurora. When it had quit, we went back indoors and noticed the poor parakeet would sing no more. Eventful evening.

    Two years later, my friend and I were on the house roof looking at stars through binoculars while drinking lime-aid and tequila. My sister got home very late, well after midnight, and didn’t see us. I gave out an evil “Bwahaha!” She jumped about 30 feet straight into the air. She got me back a few weeks later. I watched “The Shining” starring Jack Nicholson then fell asleep. Next thing I heard the gate outside my window open and this voice croaking, “Let me in! DJ let me in.” Then from underneath my other window, the voice was louder, “DJ let me INNNNNNNNN! This is your sister, and I forgot my house keys and I’m locked out.” I replied that I would open the door as soon as I extracted my fingernails and toenails from the ceiling.


  21. Hi DJ,

    Twenty years? Hmm. As a thought experiment. So the Earth is kind of 150.6m km from the sun. So, a sustainable pace would be about 5km/h for me. You might have to check my math, but at that rate, if I didn’t sleep, or doing anything else for that matter, I reckon I could walk to the sun (if that was even possible) in 3,438 years, give or take a couple of years. I think that is the definitive answer as to how far away fusion power is. Of course true believers might try and hurry that number along a bit… Then again, it may be 42, and I ain’t sayin’ what measurement that number relates to. 🙂

    Yes, it’s true the rock does have a fear odour. In my early career I was part of an odour assessment panel for a large sewage treatment farm. People talk about governmunt experimentation, I worked there. I’d be sure you’d understand how such bizarre things can happen to otherwise ordinary people? The Editor makes fun of me in this regard, but the facts speak for themselves, my olfactory senses are superior to hers. Here I cite the recent dead rat incident. There was an ‘I told you so’ incident after she laid eyes upon the dead rat which I had to recover from under the house. I now rest my case, and the gobarment probably got value for their money way back in the day.

    Well done, and if you’ve got a spare moment, I’ve got some cars. No, never mind. 😉 Actually Armour All is one of those chemicals like WD-40 in that they’ve both been tested by time.

    You’re not wrong there, and I agree. If criticism was constructive, I’d happily take it on board, but sometimes I get these eerie insights into peoples motivations. As a boss I ended up being on the other end of the equation and had to give criticism. Not having any good programming from earlier life experiences, meant I was open to trying new and not-hard-to-be-better techniques. My favourite technique was what is known as: positive-negative-positive. It works thus. So say a subordinate messed up completely and dropped the filing box causing an epic mess. You say in return: Thanks for letting me know (positive). It was pretty careless (negative feedback), but you know, it’s a good opportunity to look over the system and get familiar with it, and maybe we can even get rid of some cards that aren’t used any more (positive). You were most of the way there with calming the person with how you handled the situation. It’s not lost on me that many people simply start and stop at the: That was pretty careless, before then cracking the sads. Bonkers to do so, but they do. It’s quite dysfunctional really. And dare I say it, but they relieve their own sad inner tensions that way.

    Look, it’s not really their fault they do that, some people just don’t know any better, and they don’t see the need to learn. But life could be easier for them if they did take the time to learn how to communicate. See the positive-negative-positive working in those previous sentences?

    Mate, I grew up in a volatile household, and had no desire to continue that pattern of behaviour. It’s really negative, and I saw nothing good coming from any of that. I had an innate desire to do better, then had to learn the hard way usually through books or observing what others did that worked. There are people out there who just learned all this stuff from an early age, and it’s graceful.

    Hehe! Mate, I just couldn’t get up that early to watch the Aurora. Plus there’s this big thing called Mount Robertson in the way of the southern lower parts of the sky where the aurora was visible. Sorry to hear about the rain for your part of the world, although the rain is nice for the garden – and if I had to choose between the two, it would not be a difficult choice.

    Perhaps the parakeet was sensitive to the additional solar energy?

    Hehe! That’ll teach you to be super cheeky, maybe. 🙂 The Shining was a very scary film. Not something to watch just before going to bed, especially when super cheeky debts were due to be repaid. Incidentally, that’s what returned with interest looks like!

    Trimmed off all the agapanthus heads today, plus cleaned up all of the paths. It’s a big job and the plants don’t seem to respect rock boundaries, so they over grow the paths. Take that plants! All the material was strewn about the orchards and run over with the mower. Free mulch. By about 3pm, the rained poured down. It’s not a very nice thought, but I was hoping the heavy rain knocked many leaves off trees.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, it ain’t just you, I don’t know either. It’s become something of an art form batting away the continual sneaky book recommendations here, but super quirky English history recounted in an amusing style was a bullseye hit. Based on what I read in the first chapter, the author appears to have gotten to the core concerns of the narrative, whilst having fun. History was never meant to be dull, to hear Beowulf recounted by a master bard in a mead hall of yore would have really been something to experience.

    The good professor has quite the detailed essay on your heatwave. Might not be a bad idea to get the machine before other people think to purchase one. It’s no good if the shelves are empty. From my understanding of the technology, to cool air uses far less energy than to heat it – about a fifth to a quarter. I believe the device has its origins down here, and years ago I read a story way back in the day about a bloke who observed the cooling effect that compressing a gas had and then sought to turn that into a device. Same principle today. Not new, just refined, but then a lot of technologies are like that.

    One of the machine starter pull cords broke off today. No warning, the rope just snapped off in my hand. Fortunately, I had a spare and knew how to re-string the thing. But that was my last spare. Funny thing though, a local mob sells 300ft rolls of the stuff for the price of about four pre-cut lengths. The roll should cover about 50 individual ropes. That story makes no sense to me at all, but nabbed a roll. Bonkers. We’re buying more stuff in bulk these days, plus keeping spares. What else do you do?

    We cut all of the agapanthus flower heads today. And also trimmed up all of the Triffids, sorry I meant to say, plants which were threatening to over grow the many paths. Some cut plant materials just got thrown into the garden beds, whilst others were chucked into the orchards and then run over with the mower. It produces a nice rich mulch and will give something for all the soil critters and worms to eat. Had a late lunch at home (it being leaf change and all) and we’d finished work and had packed up at about the exact time (like your story the other day) – that the rain then pelted down. I’ve gotta say, it is a very enjoyable experience standing in the warm greenhouse watching heavy rain falling onto the roof. Makes a great sound too. We called finish on work for the day at lunch time, due to the poor weather. Got the fire going, and settled in for the rest of the afternoon.

    Winter is a time for resting and relaxing. That is if you have the stores to get through the winter! Remember how the bonkers rain caused splits in all the monster zucchinis? Well turns out, that’s a bad thing, because by today about half of them had turned to moosh. A very unpleasant mess. After cleaning up the mess, I jokingly remarked to the Editor: Maybe next year don’t water them so much! Hehe! Well at least I thought that it was funny. Turns out that you can have too much rain sometimes. Oh well.

    Who knew that Charles II had an official royal mistress? All very racy, and he moved her in, the randy old goat. That seemed to be something of a job which was rather well rewarded. I suspect Charles II soon lost interest in the people who dethroned him because I believe only 9 were executed, and of course there were the 3 who were dug up and beheaded. A rather symbolic act, which probably sent a strong message. Ah, the head which refused to go away! A rather macabre incident. Why Cambridge?

    It does appear to be the new normal down here too with shortages. There is a weird enthusiasm by the gobarmunt and corpirates for bringing even more people into this volatile and rapidly changing situation. It is possible that things are worse elsewhere? Bummer about the biscuits. Can they be baked from scratch? They might even be better?

    The take away idea was given a proper test run during all the bonkers restrictions due to you-know-what. Seemed to work then.

    Hmm. A machete you say? Ook. You learn something new every day. I’d not known that there was a market for such things as crocodile heads as trophies. Not good. In other strange news, did you hear about the settling of scores: Over a dozen alleged gang members stoned, burned alive as violence sweeps Haiti’s capital. It appears that locals may have taken matters into their own hands. That’s what a breakdown in authority looks like.

    It is possible that the crims would target newer vehicles than your Ranger? I’d imagine that catalytic converters would corrode over time and the rare metals would become less pure and be worth less.

    Imagine being trapped in cooling molasses and under wreckage! It would be a torment. The article I read mentioned that the waters in the bay were so fouled, that some bodies were only discovered months later.

    I agree about the change, and also with the site being a work in progress. Don’t you wonder at what point in history did the final function of the Stonehenge site become lost to memory? It’s possible that records relating to the site were destroyed, or simply not copied. I could see that possibility happening.

    🙂 Enjoy! Hey, that was a great film from back in my misbegotten youth. Will the bear be as good as the hype – heck yeah!



  23. Hi Chris,

    When you mean no screens do you mean American diner style booths which cuts groups off from each other?

    There are these old beer halls in Europe with long tables where presumably people from all corners would gather and converse. I remember reading once that Arthur Schopenhauer would visit his local beer hall most evenings to dine and challengers would step up to debate him, word having spread of his skills on that front. He wrote a book called “The Art of Controversy” from which you can infer his experience in such matters. Here it is:

    If I recall correctly, there are also a number of sophistical tricks there to win a debate dishonestly which would have nonetheless been hilarious to witness in a pub setting.

    The place I referenced just quietly is not super value for money but they get full marks for doing something different. The hipster places are getting a little banal…


  24. Yo, Chris – I have a knee-jerk reaction, when offered commercial baked goods or candy. Which often happens, around the Club. I say, “No thank you.” I’ve probably avoided taking on incalculable tonnage.

    The portable air conditioning units, get murkier and murkier. I discovered they all need to be vented. As near as I can tell. Something not that easy, given the configuration of my windows. Once more into the breach …

    Rain on a Hot Tin Roof. Tip of the hat to Tennessee Williams. You probably didn’t have E. Taylor, sleazing around your place, in a slip.

    I highly recommend the film “Restoration.” It’s got the plague, it’s got the fire, it’s got Charles II’s mistresses. 🙂 It’s also a rather amusing film. Cromwell was finally laid to rest (or, his head was) at Cambridge, as he’d gone to school there.

    Sure, biscuits (not to be confused with cookies) can be made from scratch, but someone would have to do it. Are you volunteering? 🙂 And, biscuits, as simple as they are, can go dreadfully wrong. The words “hockey pucks” is often bandied about. At least the stuff that comes out of the tubes, is consistent, and tasty. Healthy? Well, that’s another matter.

    Haiti. In general, one of the more messed up areas of the world. It’s interesting, animal trophy heads, in good condition, usually bring a good price at auction. I suppose it’s the same impulse that some people slap total toff looking strangers, on their walls, and claim them as ancestors.

    Can you imagine what incoming people thought, when they stumbled across Stonehenge? The Romans. The Anglo-Saxons. The Normans. I suppose any local people around, would tell them tales. The wilder, the better.

    Postponed the movie, last night, as this and that came up. I about finished the Star Trek documentary. Oh, my. It’s a wonder some of those movies and series got made at all. Under budget and on schedule. The infighting … Too many cooks and one stew. And, frankly, Gene Roddenberry was a pain in the … ear. Towards the end, he’d take a perfectly good script and make it … awful.

    Last night, I headed down to look at strawberry plants. I wanted something ever bearing. One Master Gardener was concerned with disease resistance. So, I get there, and none of the tags tell you if a plant is ever bearing, or not. Sigh. Back to the computer. I did pick up two bags of composted chicken manure, that I’ll rake in, tonight. This morning, I picked out 20 Quinault plants. Ever bearing and disease resistant. Master Gardener wants to lay down straw, before we plant them. So, I dropped her a line to remind her to bring the straw, as the little plants will live in their pods, until that happens. Pod people?

    The weather was slightly warmer than forecast, yesterday. Today, it’s supposed to get up to 80F. We’ll see. I saw more than one article, yesterday, on startling increases in ocean temperature. Of course, everyone is divided on what’s causing it, and what the results will be. Lew

  25. Hi Crow,

    No, I mean something else. There are a number of pubs which have the more usual expected tables, and yet on the walls hang large screen TV’s. What’s rather disturbing about such venues is that often the screens display different subject matter, and the sound is non-existent. All very distracting, and that arrangement is something I just don’t understand. Like, why have the TV on when there is no sound? A mystery!

    I’ve visited peoples houses where the inhabitants derive comfort from having the television switched on with nobody watching it. This is not something I would do at home. Hmm. Anyway, it’s all very strange, that is with the exception of say 90’s era music videos. Most of those I have not seen. Ooo, is that what the band looked like? Well, it is a truth universally acknowledged, that some things you cannot un-see.

    Schopenhauer developed an atheistic metaphysical and ethical system that rejected the contemporaneous ideas of German idealism. A very commendable view-point. And taking on all comers is a fine way to hone a tool. The Sensei I trained under for about six years used to open the Dojo on Saturday mornings for any and all comers. He was one of the finest martial artists this country has produced, and I had great respect for him. His opponents usually did not fare so well.

    Now Arthur, he’s a different sort, but takes a similar path. I can almost hear him in my mind pontificating about some dull topic or other. I’m not his intellectual equal, however, this does not mean the bloke can’t be defeated on his own terms. My winning secret technique would get employed. Mate, Arthur, Oi! Try this most excellent pint of locally brewed stout, it really is very good. And so, I’d get ol’ Arthur drunker than a wobbling wombat. After a few pints, I’d then engage him on a difficult metaphysical subject like say: What if the colour blue, wasn’t actually blue? An easily won argument, but Arthur’s ethanol addled brain would most certainly see him bested as he sought to unwind the awful logical contradictions. Then he’d know true defeat!

    Who needs debating tactics, when there is proper good local stout? 😉

    Yes, I inferred that the place would not be cheap, but I ask you: Can you put a price on good food, and even better company? Hmm?



  26. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, that is something of a problem, mostly because you don’t really know what goes into those commercial preparations. Like say, palm oil, the taste of which I don’t like, but it sure seems like a popular additive. Had a jam drop biscuit today. Dunno whether they’d have such things in your country, but it’s a shortbread based biscuit (presumably lots of butter) and prior to baking a spoon gets used to create a depression in the top of the biscuit. Then you spoon in your favourite jam into the depression. Chuck the biscuit in the oven to bake, and you end up with a very yummy biscuit as the jam also bakes and sets. All very tasty.

    The other thing to note is that as the protein, mineral and vitamin content of food decreases, well, there is more energy in the food. Dodgy soils, you know. 🙂

    I think that was what I was saying a few months ago when we first discussed the machines. The exhaust needs to be vented out of a window, otherwise hot air blows into the room. You have awning windows don’t you? In that case the vent needs to face downwards, and I’ve seen people even use cardboard to seal up the rest of the window gap. A swamp cooler does not need to be ventilated, but the humidity will increase and that has it’s own problems. I’m very interested to hear what you come up with.

    What the heck? So I did a quick gaargle search on ‘Rain on a Hot Tin Roof’, and discovered that people use such sounds to lull themselves to sleep. I thought that was all whale songs and stuff? Or, rainforest night noises like chirruping insects, tree frogs etc. Years ago the old boss dog: Old fluffy, used to gently snore, and for some reason that made me sleepy. It is possible that this was a sneaky technique to out-alpha me? You never know with dogs.

    Restoration has a very good cast. There did seem to be rather a few of them with Charles II. 😉 I see, his old Alma mater finally took him in. My grandfather was a great believer that people should belong to groups, and he was not shy about exercising his will over other people in this matter. Given some of the old blokes activities though, I reckon he may not have gotten along well with the headless Puritan, but he most certainly would have championed for the head of Cromwell to be properly accepted and interned there. Restoring the balance perhaps?

    For the record: I did not volunteer to make biscuits for your crew. Nope. Not now, not at some unspecified point in the future. And I most strenuously deny the possibility and accept no legal responsibility for you exercising your rights with the suggestion.

    I believe that all bases in biscuit-gate have been now covered?

    I hear you about the consistent quality from that stuff. Interestingly, for your info I tend to stick to baking only a few varieties of biscuits and know the recipe back to front. Recently I gave a lesson on bread baking from scratch and deliberately allowed the person to add in too much water to the dough mix – then showed them how to fix the situation. Seemed like a good idea to me, especially given that from time to time, I make that very mistake. It’s easy to do.

    Yes, the situation was pretty messed up. The animal is already dead and hardly likely to get any more dead in that situation. Interestingly, the only time down here I have seen such things is in an historical mansion which was open to the public. Trophy’s hung off the wall in the men’s parlour which also housed a billiards table. It was all very Victorian era looking. Looked quite correct and appropriate. Well, are they ancestors? 😉 That’s possible, but the old painting would also lend a certain gravitas to a room – that has to be big enough to handle the splendour. It beats me why ceiling heights are constructed so low these days. 10ft ceilings feel about right to me, but this is not fashionable these days.

    Of course. I had not considered that aspect. The locals who knew of the actual purpose of the ancient megalith site, probably had no reason to recount that reason to the invaders, and probably had even more impetus to tell tall tales. It’s quite good all those invaders left the site well alone. Oh, well that was interesting indeed. The variety of stone used on Stonehenge is known as a bluestone, which is a dolerite. Very common around these parts. Word is that the granite is hard wearing but easy to work with. And of particular interest is that when crushed into rock dust, the stuff is very good for soil fertility. My understanding is that the darker the stone, the more minerals it contains.

    Did you end up watching ‘The Lost Boys’ today? How could under budget and on-schedule be a bad thing in the entertainment biz? That never happens. But I can see what you mean about too many cooks. A whole lot of ego’s. You sent me on an interweb rabbit hole, and what can you say, the bloke worked hard and seems to have had some memorable stoushes. He was probably hard work. The re-writes were mentioned many times.

    Hey, the Quinault plants read like they’d be a very good choice. Apparently even the runners produce good sized fruit. I’ll be very interested to hear how your season goes. Strawberries are a plant which is something of a mystery to me. Maybe the straw is a good idea – we’ve tried that. The commercial growers often use black plastic. Can we ever have too many Pod People? I think not. Like Triffids and Zombies, they’re just with us. 🙂

    80’F sounds really nice to me. It was 39’F this morning and frost formed in the valley below. It was sunny today, but it’s about the same temperature now. Brr!



  27. Yo, Chris – When we were talking about stuff not in the grocery store, I meant to mention I’m about ready to cast about online to see if I can buy a good supply of walnuts. As I’ve done with so many other things. If they can’t keep them in stock, and charge outrages prices … well. Whence retail? You may find this article interesting. It even mentions (and has a picture) of your old employer.

    We have jam drop biscuits, here. Commercially, they usually show up around Christmas, in green and red. But most biscuit (cookie) recipe books, have them. In case you wanted to do something wild like making them out of season, using real jam. 🙂

    How can there be more energy (or, do you mean use more energy to grow?) in food, if the protein, minerals and vitamin content decreases? Conspiracy theory of the day: You have to buy more, to eat more, to get what you need. 🙂

    No awnings on our windows. Just interior blinds. I’ve got a blanket, thrown over the curtain rod, in my bedroom. To cut the heat and light. I guess the technology doesn’t exist, for what I want. A discreet little unit that just sits there, pumps out cold air, and would handle about 200 square feet. So, I will probably do nothing. Keep my fingers crossed and be prepare to just sit in front of a fan, with my feet in cold water.

    Oh, the clue was Tennessee Williams. He wrote a play, called “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof.” Which was made into a movie with Elizabeth Taylor, sleazing around in a slip. Yes, rain on a roof can be quit a pleasant sound.

    Re: Volunteering to make our biscuits. Solicitors may be involved. 🙂
    We may be caught up in the old biscuit / cookie loss in translation. The only thing here you’ll hear referred to as a biscuit here, is a doughy based product that is about the size of a hockey puck. Hopefully, light and fluffy. A lot of the quality depends on the flour, and, for some cooks, that’s a bridge to far. You know, a lot of the cookbooks that talk about flour, bang on about protean content. I have yet to see a bag of flour, here, that has the protean % listed. Even Bob’s Red Mill. I checked 5 of their flours, on line, and only two out of the five listed the protean content.

    Ceiling height. Seems like the standard measurement, at least here, for this and that construction material is 8′. Such as dry wall. Although dry wall can also come in longer lengths. But 8′ seems pretty standard.

    They’ve pretty much figured out where the different types of stone came from, in Stonehenge. I even saw a recent theory that parts of Stonehenge had previously been erected, further north, and then moved over quit a distance, to the south. Well, everybody has a theory…

    Yes, I watched “Lost Boys,” last night. Worth a bowl of popcorn. Held up, pretty well. I found all the panning, zoom shots, a bit tedious, and it took me awhile to figure out that that was a vampire’s eye view of flying. So, with the eye on the budget, and the state of tech at that time, I suppose that was the best they could do.

    The “new” list at the library came out, last night. Someone is listening. There was “Under the Vines,” season one and two. Now on my hold list.

    The Star Trek documentary was pretty interesting. Though there wasn’t much info, after the “Next Generation” series. I wanted more about the Next Generation films and newer series. There was too brief a mention. Oh, well. Next documentary.

    I think the straw is to keep down the weeds, and keep the strawberries out of the muck. Yes, it will be an interesting year to see what they do.

    It hit 82F, yesterday. It’s supposed to be slightly cooler, today. And tomorrow, 60F with scattered showers. To me, much more palatable. Lew

  28. Hi Chris,

    That would have been epic to watch your coach dismantle challengers! Did he ever get any real serious fighters coming in? To think he knew he could handle anyone coming in is pretty impressive. A pro-boxer could have easily strolled in the door…

    I remember reading old Arthur getting into a few bar brawls himself! So perhaps that strategy of getting your opponent drunk had been tried before on him to some success.

    Aye, you could be correct about the pricelessness of good food and company. Last time I went, it was a €15 pie if that gives you a feel for such things 🙂

  29. Chris,

    I know this is VERY late in the cycle, so I know you’ve got the next installment to write before replying to this.

    Ah yes, your calculation got the same result my calculation got – 3,438 years or so. In other words, 42. Hmmmm, this is a new astronomy measurement unit: the McLeod, so the answer is 3,438 years or 42 McLeods. There are about 81.86 years per McLeod. How does that sound?

    I get the olfactory job thing. My nose is more sensitive than that of most humans I know. Compared to Avalanche’s nose, however, mine is nearly useless. 😉

    Armor All. Good stuff. WD 40, great stuff. How did humans ever survive without these?

    Nice! Your approach to criticism is awesome. Gentle, gives positives, but gets the job done. Yelling and belittling always seemed counterproductive to me. Similarly, constant criticism never worked for me, having grown up with that. Not good, although my upbringing was much more stable than yours appears to have been. On the other hand, you learned a lot of necessary and important lessons at a much younger age than I did. You play the cards you’re dealt, I guess.

    Jeepers, Chris, why not act like the unwashed hordes and whine to the authorities, demanding that they remove Mount Robertson to improve your view of the southern horizon? I know people hereabouts who have complained to government about similar things. I seriously got asked if the County could do anything to keep farmers from plowing their fields so that people didn’t have to close their house windows due to the dust from the plowing. My reply was, every time, “I like to eat. I don’t mess with farmers. People gotta eat. Farmers gotta farm. Maybe you shouldn’t have built a house in the middle of farming country.”

    The parakeet was about 12 years old at the time. I’m thinking maybe its demise was from natural causes/old age. 41 years later, my sister is still upset that her bird died on her birthday.

    Oh, yeah, I was aware at the time that sister was returning my deed with interest. Lots of interest. She enjoyed teasing me about it for several days. Rightfully so. It wasn’t often that she could get one up on me in the sibling rivalry.

    Started on the redo of the landscaping in the front yard on Friday. The hard winter is making this something that must be done. The lavender got removed along with a lot of weeds from a flower bed. The lavender did not survive the harsh winter. Most of the heather died. Unsure about most of the roses. The problem was that there were 2 early Arctic spells and one late Arctic spell with no snow on the ground. A lot of these plants need snow on the ground for more insulation from the extreme cold.

    Pushing +30C here today. Should be a bit cooler Sunday, then back above 25C for most of the week. I’m onto more of the summer schedule now, which means I walk Avalanche fairly early in the mornings. She’s already used to the new schedule. She adapts faster than I do.


  30. Hi crow and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, and yes it is late in the cycle when all good people go to bed early, and the dark otherlings sit at their keyboards rapidly typing away trying to come up with something entertaining and informative. It’s not easy you know! 🙂

    Speak tomorrow!



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, the walnuts are a problem, which is emblematic of the race to adaption. Mate, what else do you do? Last week, apples at the supermarket were $10/kg (2.2 pounds) and it’s not like they aren’t fresh and in season + grown not far from here. In a couple of weeks time we’ll have to head an hour up north and drop by the cool stores and grab a bulk supply of apples. But so many things are like that now, and we tend to purchase locally, and if that isn’t possible we’ll get the stuff in bulk. We eat like peasants anyway, good food, prepared well, but basic. Lunch today was pumpkin soup (very tasty) with freshly baked bread and a selection of home made jams. Yum! Enough to keep me fuelled.

    Thanks for the article and it was good to see a version of the old store. I actually really enjoyed working retail. It wasn’t hard chatting to customers, and helping them out. I’d heard about that failure too, the Editor and I were discussing it only very recently. It’s all a race to the bottom, and you-know-what has not assisted bricks and mortar retail.

    Hehe! Yeah, back when jam was real jam! 🙂 We don’t purchase jam, the stuff doesn’t compare well to what you can make yourself. There is a little bit art and little bit science to jam making. And we’re getting better. My favourite is raspberry jam, but blackberry is a close second. The kiwi fruit jam turned out really nicely too. Pah, these season convention things are but a challenge to the crafty biscuit baker!

    Ah, I see. How can there be more energy? Easily, that’s how. My understanding is that as the diversity of minerals get stripped out of soil, the plants growing in the stuff produce less proteins (important to the structure, function, and regulation of the body), vitamins (an essential nutrient that the body may need to get from food), and assorted other useful minerals also become unavailable. Yet the plant still grows, it’s just got more carbohydrates (sugars, starch, cellulose which are used as structural materials and for energy storage within living tissues). So, the foods produced on such soils will make you physically larger. Surely you must be seeing this playing out all around you? The simplest explanation is that food is being sourced from an unbalanced soil system. Why do you reckon I chuck so much assorted stuff onto the soils here?

    Can you actually open your windows? An evaporative cooler works really well, if you can open the windows – or door – on a hot day.

    I see what you mean about Elizabeth Taylor. She’s very pretty. It’s a look though, and the lady could pull it off with aplomb. The character Paul Newman played wasn’t worth it, you know. 😉 The character seemed like a lot of trouble.

    Mate, if solicitors get involved in biscuit-gate, we’re all done for, and that’s where our fortunes went. Sad.

    Well, that’s interesting, and flour sold down here does not generally give protein percentages either. However, the bakery supplier I get the raw materials from sells a high protein flour, and my understanding is that this makes for a denser loaf. People love fluffy airhead loaves, but that’s not my tastes in a bread loaf. I buy the high protein flour, and visitors generally enjoy the bread we feed them. Mind you, there are a lot of tricks and chemicals to get bread to rise with lots of fluff, so there are a lot of variables.

    8′ is too low for my tastes, although it is the standard ceiling height for most new builds. I’m just not into it. The older Victorian era houses generally had 10′ ceilings, and that is what looks more human scaled to me. At 8′, I could almost touch the ceiling.

    Interesting. You’ve mentioned the theory before about the Stonehenge stones having been moved great distances. I see that the bluestones are reputed to have had their origins in Wales – but those rocks are also found in these parts down here. Truth to tell I cemented some bluestone aggregate into a stair step today.

    We did a bit of rock work today and split a very large rock into two halves. The monster rock should yield about nine or ten large rocks for the new low gradient path. Ended up finishing late, but it was very hard to start early in the day with the chilly 37’F temperatures. Brr. Winter is on its way.

    From memory, it was a very good film, and had an outstanding cast. Some of the music score was from a couple of Australian music legends too. And oh yeah, the budget was tight, but the film made heaps of mad cash.

    Hope you enjoy ‘Under the Vines’, and I await your review.

    The Star Trek franchise is booming, if number of series is any indication. I’m intrigued enough to begin watching Strange New Worlds. Alas, there are only so many hours in the day. Oh, no, I better get writing, and soon. It’s almost 8pm. Where ever did the day go? Is it behind the couch along with the dust bunnies? I might check, just in case.

    I believe the plastic soil cover works the same with commercial strawberry growers. To be honest, I’m looking for a more basic strawberry arrangement with lower yields but less work. There’s something about having to repurchase the plants every couple of years which just doesn’t work for me. This is why I’m trialling alpine strawberries.

    82’F, so nice. It was sunny here today, but the thermometer barely made it past 57’F. Hang on, winter, here we come. 🙂



  32. Hello Chris
    I don’t understand your reference to having to buy replacement strawberry plants. Don’t your plants produce runners that you then plant? i do also have plants that keep on for ever and produce all summer too, but those strawberries donot taste as good.


  33. Yo, Chris – $5 a pound for apples sounds pretty outrageous. Yes, best stock up from the cool store, until your trees start producing. Your lunch sounds delightful.

    I don’t think I’d like to work retail, these days. Or, with the public, at all. The stories you hear … There was a picture of a Barnes & Noble bookstore. They bought B. Dalton, which was the last commercial bookstore I worked for. They built a B&N, just about a mile from the B. Dalton. But, as I remember, it didn’t seem to impact our sales, much. But our administration changed (district manager), and I bailed.

    I’d say my favorite fruit line up is, raspberry, strawberry, blueberry. I find blackberry a bit “seedy.”

    OK. I guess I follow your reasoning on veg creating physically larger people. We sure have them here. But, I’d more attribute it to too much junk and fast food. Most of those folks wouldn’t know a vegetable if it hit them in the side of the head.

    Half my window slides vertically. (Side to side.) Then there’s the screen you can’t remove, to deal with. Facing south, if I open that window at all, during the day, the heat pours in from the side of the building. I’d have to jerry rig, something.

    I like a nice dense loaf, with seeds and stuff, in it. Gives it a nice crunch.

    So, you managed to split Moby Rock, in half? That’s a good start.

    I picked up “Cocaine Bear” from the library, yesterday. But, I probably won’t watch it for a few days. It’s a popcorn movie, and I just had popcorn (with melted cheese) night before last. Speaking of junk food … But last night I watched a little film called “Blood Relative.” It was pretty good, and fun. A rather shiftless vampire just travels the roads of America. Discovers he has a 15 year old daughter, who’s half vampire. Hilarity ensues. Last night I watched a couple of episodes of “One Lane Bridge,” season three. It’s a New Zealand series. Really, really creepy. More a ghost story, about a haunted bridge. Speaking of “Star Trek,” I also picked up the third season of “Lower Decks,” which is an animated series. Quit good and very funny.

    I was out watering, last night, and we seem to have a yellowjacket infestation. Aggressive little buggers. They seem concentrated from the south end of our patio, right across our veg gardens, to the parking strip on 4th Street. I turned in a work order, as to the problem, last night. I hope Little Mary Sunshine calls the exterminators. The nests are hard to find, as they nest in the ground.

    Heading to the Club for a Sunday morning cuppa. H has to greet her public. Lew

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