Maybe it was reading the book of oral accounts of the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires which ripped through this mountain range forty years ago. However, it could equally have been the uncomfortable one-off experience of forcing my body to breathe underwater. In the late 1990’s we were on a boat far off shore and offered a chance to scuba dive. Tes’ not natural, the brain protested! The body sought more air than the whatever you call it thing lodged in my mouth would provide. Far from an enjoyable experience.

In an interesting side story, the scuba incident took place 60km (40 miles) offshore over the Great Barrier Reef. Sandra pointed out the rather large and toothy looking reef shark. It’s only a reef shark. Yeah, sure. The French tourists in the opposite cabin were dreadfully sea sick, and taking pity I slipped them a potent anti histamine. Possibly there was some self interest there – the sound of retching quite disturbed my well earned beer and dinner. However, it was many months later when on dry land, we came across a horror article which alleged that captain on the very same vessel had a psychotic episode at sea. He was somehow restrained by the crew and passengers. Glad we missed that. The open oceans, not for I!

The awful incident with the submersible this past week had left me with a certain feeling of trepidation whenever I perused the news of the day. Frankly, it was difficult to comprehend the motivations of anyone who’d venture where it is simply bonkers to go. And I forget where, but the words ‘obscenely safe’ were mentioned somewhere during the reports. As anyone with more than half a brain knows, such claims are hubris, which usually ends in nemesis. Never good, and the carnage of the Titanic wreck they so wanted to see, suggests as much.

So yeah, oceans are best viewed from the shore. The Scottish heritage in my veins instead sings to me of mountains and cold weather. Up in the mountains and forests, that’s home. It’s cold. It’s nice. Except I’m currently reading oral accounts of the last big bushfire which ripped through this mountain range forty years ago. Lives were lost, as were hundreds of homes. There was virtually no early warning of an impending fire that fateful night. The majority of people appeared to have learned of the fire when flames were already in the garden.

The house we built uses a combination of materials and simple technology to resist bushfires. It’s not carbon fibre bonded onto titanium like that sub thing, it’s more the sort of material arrangements which slow fires spreading from one apartment to the next. The walls are meant to last 90 minutes with direct flame contact. The roof, at least 30 minutes. The thickly glazed toughened windows and stainless steel shutters, who knows? Large fire fronts typically last 15 minutes before consuming most of the easy to burn stuff, so the worst of the fire is always hungrily on the move pushed on by the winds.

Sandra and I constructed the house ourselves, and in doing so we gave very careful attention to all of the finer details of the fire rating systems, and especially how they joined together. After all, it’s our lives on the line. Would a builder put as much care and attention into these fine details? Maybe, it’s hard to say. But most importantly though, nobody really knows how this house will work during a big fire. That’s a considerable risk.

It’s not our plan to hang around in the event of a big fire in the area. Lock the house up, collect the dogs and get out of the forest early before you’re trapped by falling trees and unintentional car accidents. Back in 1983, the oral accounts in the book suggest that there is a bit of psychic trauma resulting from hanging around and finding out just what happens when a big fire front rolls on through, especially if things don’t go all that well. The folks I spoke to in another nearby mountain range after the more recent 2009 Black Saturday fires said similar things. Why risk that trauma, not to mention our very lives?

Insurance is the dark horse in this story. Insurance is a form of spreading and sharing risks around the community. It is worth mentioning that a house is just as likely to have a fire in an urban area. Big bushfires unfortunately tend to destroy a lot of houses in a very short time. Flooding, does even more damage than bushfires, and almost as quickly. A house at least has a chance of surviving a fire, but a flood, the odds are candidly not good. We’ve observed for years that our insurance premiums on the house are rising at a rate of around 20% per year. That’s probably not sustainable. And what will happen if the premium costs pass that threshold of affordability? What indeed.

Unlike those now deceased submersible folks, if I had no choice other than to stay and defend the house during a bushfire, I wouldn’t be doing it for the thrills, or even the entertaining dinner stories, because I doubt there’ll be any.

Anyway, that’s something to worry about in the warmer months of the year. Right now around the winter solstice, it’s cold and damp. The other morning we woke to discover that it was 1’C (34’F) outside and 15’C (59’F) inside. We generally let the wood fire burn out over night.

A cold winters morning

The morning brought a frost. The ground was frozen and you could hear the soles of your boots crunching on the otherwise soft ground.

Frozen Dirt mouse. Warm Dame Plum

The ground was frozen and crunchy, but strangely the frost was more visible in the raised garden beds.

It’s getting a bit chilly, boss. Can we go back inside now?

The surface of the dogs water bowl was frozen.

The surface of the dogs water bowl was frozen solid

We’re resting up the sapling fenced enclosure for the winter, and with few plants growing there other than weeds, the frost was much worse than elsewhere.

Lot’s of frost!

Even the moisture on the surface of the solar panels froze solid.

This image is in focus. The moisture on the surface of the solar panels froze

Most of the week has been cold and wet here. Some midday’s, the sun pushes a bit through the clouds and shines. With the persistent rain, we get to enjoy some amazing rainbows hanging over the valley.

The midday sun shines on the persistent rain and produces rainbows

With the thick clouds and persistent rain, the solar power this week has not been all that great. The forecast for this coming week doesn’t sound much better. I’ll have to push the little generator into service soon. That’s how it rolls for three weeks either side of the winter solstice. Despite July being colder again, the days will slowly get longer.

An additional 11m (36 feet) of ground surface water drains were added to the uphill side of the long shed. After completing that work, an inch of rain fell and tested the drains out. They worked well.

The ground surface water drains were extended

We also placed a lot of the crushed rock with lime on the area in front of the doors of the shed. There’s still more material to be added to that surface, but the bulk of the job was done. Also the roof gutters were completely removed and rehung so that the water collecting in them, flowed in the right direction. The rain then promptly also put those gutters to the test, and they now worked. Before the end of next month, we should have two additional water tanks and another downpipe installed. The additional water storage will be appreciated over the summer months.

In breaking wallaby news, the wallaby broke one of the fronds on the recently planted out tree fern. Not happy.

Wallabies have no sense of aesthetic merit

There’s been a lot of rain over the past few months, and the ferns are really enjoying the water.

Looks positively prehistoric!

Onto the flowers:

They call Hellebores the Winter Rose
This year, it ain’t the only Rose! A misguided summer rose
Pineapple Sage provides feed for the honeyeaters
A couple of late and clearly very hardy Penstemon flowers
The penstemon is late, but this Daisy is even later
This purple Salvia is enjoying the conditions

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 488.5mm (19.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 450.8mm (17.7 inches)

36 thoughts on “LosT”

  1. Yo, Chris – Missed your chance to be a hero. Subduing the psychotic captain with a couple of smooth martial arts moves. I hope flare guns weren’t brandished. Grab a screaming child or angsty teen as a shield. They never follow instructions, and endanger everyone, anyway.

    Yes, scenic oceans. Made to be viewed from shore.

    I suppose these days, there are apps to warn one of impending doom. Of course, you have to sign up for them in the first place. We have one in our county, and an occasional alert comes over my phone. When I have it turned on. Mostly, tests. Sometimes an “Amber Alert,” which is for snatched kids.

    Not to keep banging on about the Fort McMurray fire, but the morning it started roaring through neighborhoods, The Powers That Be had advised everyone to just go about their normal business. Send the kids to school. Be sure and be on your job. Most people didn’t find out what was going on until friends called, or the firemen were pounding on the door.

    There was an interesting bit involving a Nanny Cam. It was taking in a view of a fairly standard living room. The windows went dark, then bright with licking flames. Up there, in the tundra, windows are triple glazed. One by one, the layers of glazing failed. Vinyl siding could be seen melting and dripping past the windows. A lit up aquarium in the corner, began to boil. Finally, the fire broke through and the whole thing was gone in less than 5 minutes.

    The crunch of the ground and the grass. The sounds of winter. Were there frog popsickles, in the dog’s water dish? 🙂 The rainbows almost make the horrid weather, worth it. Almost.

    You’ve been busy, putting the finishing touches on the mead hall extension. When’s the grand opening and ribbon cutting. I want to pencil it in on my calendar.

    The wallabies are a menace. Why we can’t have nice things. Why? Why?

    The flowers are pretty, if confused. Reminds me of some people, I know … I’m sure years of intensive psychotherapy, and an massive drug regime, will straighten them right out. Same thing happens, here. Some plant will go bonkers, and flower entirely out of season.

    I’m reading a book (no surprise there.) “The Madman’s Gallery: The Strangest Paintings, Sculptures and Other Curiosities from the History of Art.” (Brooke-Hitching, 2023). I thought you might like this:


    Just for fun. Oddly, I don’t think I’ve ever seen this, before. While I was looking for a good image, I discovered you can get it on everything from trash baskets, duvets, to, of course, coffee mugs. What’s also interesting is how often the image has been fiddled with, or parodied. Right up there with “American Gothic” and “The Mona Lisa.” Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Awesome! 🙂 That’s great news, and I hope the rest of the growing season continues to delight!

    Hope the images of the frost weren’t too jarring on the senses given your summer so far? 🙂



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, King Gizzard and the Wizard Lizard must be one of Australia’s hardest working bands. Truly, their 24th studio album, in a bit over ten years, plus side projects, plus running a label and a festival, must also have the best title I’ve come across recently: PetroDragonic Apocalypse, also known by its full name PetroDragonic Apocalypse; or, Dawn of Eternal Night: An Annihilation of Planet Earth and the Beginning of Merciless Damnation. Kind of says it all don’t you think? 🙂 Only just released too. I’d say they’d probably heard of Peak Oil, yeah. Mate, you really are onto pop culture. Next we’ll be talking about the eclectic English metalcore band: Bring me the horizon. I quite like them.

    Quite a few down under bands punch well above their weight and perhaps fall into the category of the muso’s muso. It’s weird that, but the local market is small, there is almost no support for them, and they have to work hard.

    My opinion is that your use of the ‘squander’, is the correct word. It’s really odd, but I’d intended to write a completely different blog this week on that subject, and then the words just ended up as they did, and the theme was the same, but different. I began speaking with people about the sub scenario and I tell you what, there was so little sympathy on display. Haven’t yet encountered that reaction. Been a whole lot of other emotional responses though. I’d suggest that there has been a subtle shift in sentiment within the community. If I were that lot, I’d probably tone it down a bit, but I doubt they listen to the likes of me.

    Low brow, I can do low brow, but then a person can also shift things up a bit when needed.

    Exactly, what is it with flat roofs? And I see plenty of green roofs getting constructed in the UK on that show. My mind really struggles to comprehend the structural loads placed on such a roof during a super cell (four inches of rain in an hour) when the structure has to repel the water, whilst at the same time holding up the soil and the expected wildflower meadow mix of plants living on the roof. In terms of engineering it’s utterly bonkers. Leave the plants on the ground is my thinking and reduce the loading on the roof and walls. I don’t get it, and yes, things could be equally challenging in your part of the world.

    Mate, I’m so torn. Do I do the tiramisu and miss out on the chat? You’re right, but what an awful conundrum to face. The jam drop biscuit made up for the loss, but it’s just not the same. And in an unacceptable lapse of civility, I even forgot to ask what the bread and butter pudding was like. I had a brief discussion with the bloke who brought the dessert to the table who talked it up, but then he had a conflict of interest there.

    Down under, nurseries usually sell bags of gypsum, which are sometimes labelled as ‘clay breaker’. Surprisingly it is one of the cheaper soil additives. Given you know, well you know about dry wall sheets.

    Holy carp, yes, that guy is one to watch. Mate, I’d seen a few of those films including ‘About a boy’, which was a very good film. And who can forget ‘Warm Bodies’?

    Juvenile, doesn’t that perspective all depend upon how old a person is? Hehe! The film looked like a whole bunch of fun, and why not?

    Imagine if the ‘Mists of Avalon’ were the first Arthurian tale you’d encountered? Messed my mind up, that book did. Fortunately, much balance has now been restored, and even the character of Guinevere (who was given a resounding blast in that book) is a more rounded persona. Ms Bradley had an axe to grind, and whilst commercially successful, the tale did not deserve such treatment. It’s bigger than that.

    Lewis, I have to confess to not having read the T. H. White version. Ook!

    Thanks for your understanding about that particular book, but I can just as easily read things which irritate me (which to me is a state of something less than annoyed), after all I was forced to read the book which shall not be named more than once. 😉 What interests me far more is: Can the author recount an engaging tale?

    Oh yes, very lethal those things.

    Hmm. About the subscription fees. I recall my Sensei lecturing the school about the need to keep up to date with their fees. In my eyes the bloke was a giant, and I never mucked around with fees and so paid them on time when they were due. There was an element of me being grateful to be there learning in the presence of a master, and comprehending what that meant. It rather surprised me at the time to learn that some folks were a bit fast and loose with such things. Of course work with debt collection stomped the daylights out of such notions. In your case though, it’s subscriptions, pancakes, biscuits and other stuff. But it’s the same challenge really.

    Far out, that sure is some dunny problems.

    Frankly I’m not paid enough to deal with psychotic captains. 🙂 And I like your suggested solutions.

    Yeah, fortunately the disaster information gets disseminated faster these days, if anyone cares to look, and down here you don’t need an app. And we get pretty decent detailed weather forecasting, so wind changes are known about in advance. If you know the topography and see where the wind is blowing (and how strong), the movement of fires are fairly easy to predict.

    For some reason, it’s peoples nightmare that someone will snatch their kid. Does it happen, yeah, but probably not as often as people fear. Most of the ones I hear lately are of car jacking where the perps are too stupid to notice the kid in the back seat, because that ups the response and eventual charges for them.

    Not at all, fires have been on my mind for the past fortnight due to the oral history book I’d been reading. It’s all relevant, and any titbit of information helps. It’ll happen here sooner or later. The same thing was true of the 1983 fires here, despite the bonkers hot, dry and windy weather. The thing I noticed though about the 2009 fires was that warnings for the day were issued days beforehand. I recall the state premier saying beforehand what an awful day it was going to be and for everyone to be alert and avoid unnecessary travel etc. And it was an awful day, and you could track the fires online via a map. I put that and the weather forecast together, and said the fire is going there. And it did. Yet, people still said that they didn’t get enough warning. It’s is possible that the monster moves so fast that unless you consider the possibility, you might never get enough warning.

    And I’ve seen that nanny cam footage. Yeah, not good.

    Frog popsickles! That’s funny, I reckon the critters are too smart for that. 😉 Nature puts on a good show here, and I tell you, the wind blew hard over night and this morning. It’s calm now, and warm again. A truly odd winter.

    Speaking of which, I agree, a few of the plants are out of the more usually expected season right now. One fruit tree I moved early on the growing season has blossoms on it right now. A bit wrong that, but it would not surprise me if the climate shifted drastically, the plants would adapt far better than us humans.

    Escaping criticism is genius, and you can read the wrought mischief in the young rogue. What an artist.



  4. Yo, Chris – I just ran across a quote by Orwell, last night, about pop culture. Actually, from the introduction, to the essays, that was written by someone else. “He was one of the first critics to take popular culture seriously because he believed it had always been around and simply wanted attention.” But a quote from Orwell that I really like is, “Autobiography is only to be trusted when it reveals something disgraceful.” 🙂 Orwell was ahead of his times. I’m reading the first essay, which is about Dickens. Dickens’s personal life had some dodgy bits to it (as other authors had banged on about, before Orwell took up his essay), and Orwell explores the question of can an author’s life, be separated from his work. And how different segments of society perceive Dickens’s work. Interesting stuff.

    So, you’re saying that there’s Tiramisu, and then there’s Tiramisu. Your mileage may vary? Coming soon to a frozen food case, near you! 🙂

    Looking down the rabbit hole, I see you can get small bags of gypsum. Which is all I need. I’ll check around the usual places, this week. Otherwise, it’s off to the internet. By the way, I’m soaking some more corn seeds. And, green and yellow zucchini seeds. I’ll get them in the ground, today.

    Well, if you don’t get around to reading the T. H. White, you can always watch the Disney version. 🙂 I think it’s called, “The Sword in the Stone.”

    Well, I found “Perilous Times,” to be an engaging tale. Heck, I had a hard time putting it down, and knocked it off in about two and a half days.

    Lots of organizations are making a lot of money perpetuating the myth that thousands of kids are being snatched. Held in underground bunkers, having their vital fluids drained off, to enable nefarious people to live forever. I kid you not. A large number of people really believe this. Sometimes, they act out.


    I really, really would have liked to have seen the expression on his face, when he shot the lock of a closet door, expecting to find stairs leading to dungeons below, and it turns out to be … a broom closet.

    I don’t know if it was a “thing”, down there, but for the longest time, they put pictures of missing kids on milk cartons. So, while you were eating your morning cereal, you could contemplate being snatched by some stranger. Turns out, most kids are snatched in custodial disputes between divorcing parents. A look in the rabbit hole reveals that less than 1% of missing children are snatched by complete strangers. Sure, it happens, but not as often as portrayed.

    Wildfires. Those that dither, are lost. Next time I see my fireman friend, I’ll have to ask him about any plans for this building. He’s familiar with it. Probably more familiar than he wants to be. 🙂 When the building fire alarms go off (but not the individual apartment alarms,) the elevator descends to the first floor, and no longer works. Has to be reset. I’d say, over half the residents can’t navigate the stairways. There’s also the question of pets. I wondered exactly how many animals we have in the building. Had my question answered. The last phone list that came out mentioned who had an animal, and if it was a dog or a cat. We have about 9 dogs in the building, and about 11 cats.

    Previous, advice from our front office said if one needed to evacuate the building, to shut your dog or cat in the bathroom and flee. Oh, my. Did that cause a lot of outrage. The most recent advice just said, “Have a plan for your pet.”

    After looking at the painting, “Escaping Criticism, ” a couple of times, Huck Finn came to mind. Might be I’ve seen an illustration, somewhere, of Huck going out a window. Lew

  5. Sharing risk- It is to be noted that actuaries and insurance analysts are where the real world intersection with the financial world is well understood. How the mucky mucks then apportion fees and spread the risk is another topic, but regardless of the number crunching, insurance companies are another canary in the mine.

    I grumble about being in the same risk pool assigned by the industry, even though many others tempt fate much more than I do.

    In both California ( fires) and Florida (hurricanes), home insurers have radically increased premiums, or have out and out left the state. Just one more indicator that the planet is moving into a new and less welcoming phase.

    And now Canada is having crazy early and extensive fires.

    So it goes. As you’ve done, we all must assume we need to tend to our own situation and not count on benevolent aid from on high. The cookie jar has been empty and stuffed with IOUs for a long time.

    I’ve been thinking that your wombats give our raccoons a run for the money in the obnoxious contest. I think a cage match between the two is called for.

  6. Hi Steve,

    Yeah, those are the folks I watch because they have to as you point out, deal with the world as it is. Kind of like where the tyre (tire) hits the road.

    Hey, the same thing happens with my business and insurance risk. Basically, the likes of you and I are subsidising larger, and possibly far riskier ventures. There’s been a rather stinky scandal down under involving a very large consulting firm, and I have no doubts that next year my premiums (we have absolutely nothing to do with them) will rise to cover the insurers and underwriters potential losses from that scandal. It’s not really all that different from the medieval royalty asking the peasants to dig deeper so as to pay for some act of stupidity.

    I agree, there are towns now where householders have a great deal of difficulty obtaining insurance on their homes due to the recent bonkers floods. And we had to construct a house which employed many systems to reduce the risk of the place burning down during a bushfire, but do we get a discount on the premium? Probably not.

    The other week I read about a town in that country and the annual precipitation was something like 400mm. If the area continues to heat up during the summer months and there are extensive unmanaged forests, that’s a problem. To put it into context based on over a century of records, a drought year here, would be 50% as much rainfall again. Possibly the rainfall there may increase as the climate warms, but I dunno man.

    🙂 Wombats have the largest brain to body weight of any of the marsupials, and they’re like armoured tanks. Your raccoons might have them beat on smarts though. Hmm. An intriguing thought experiment. Maybe the two might surprise us all and just grab a pint at the local and enjoy sharing ripping yarns for a bit instead? Hehe!



  7. Hi Lewis,

    That’s a great quote from the introduction. It’s also equally possible that pop culture is the art form of the excluded? I enjoy it, and more high brow forms of art have been locked out. It wasn’t always this way, e.g. the Hungarian composer, Franz Liszt who enjoyed an audience drawn from many diverse sections of the community. I too liked that comment about disgrace. Sometimes to reveal and show a more nuanced character is something unexpected. Incidentally, in some circumstances as a strategy I have displayed vulnerability, and it’s usually been favourably received.

    George Orwell left me with the distinct impression that he believed he wrote better after he’d experienced some of the travails which he put his creations through. It is possible that he was unable to imagine the experiences he wished to recount, but then he may have wanted to shock the reader with the nitty gritty details. Dunno. Hey, I began reading PG Wodehouse this morning: ‘Code of the Woosters’ (nod to DJ), and it’s an interesting style of writing. The author paints descriptions using metaphors, and is heavy on the scene setting. So far, I’m enjoying the word play.

    The Dicken’s he was! Was he dodgy? Didn’t the authors name used to be a form of slang? Ooo, naughty. Well his wife bore 10 children, and for that alone the lady deserved a hug, or a medal, or something along those lines. Frankly, the guy probably had an ego the size of London.

    Oh yes, trust me in this one thing only – not all tiramisu’s are equal. Some of them are outright rubbish, and just for one shocking example I have encountered over the many years of testing: mock cream replacing the far tastier (and not all that hard to make) mascarpone cheese. ‘Tes not natural! Frozen! What? Far out man! I am triggered by this – as the kids may say. 😉

    The bags of gypsum here are about 10kg / 22 pounds, and that would be more than enough. All the compost you add to your soil might be making it a bit more acidic than you’d believe, and the calcium in the gypsum really will allow your seedlings to get more access to the soil mineral feed. I reckon you’ll be impressed. Your soil is kind of like here I’m guessing and would lean towards the acidic end of the scale.

    I don’t do Dusney. 🙂 I still can’t forgive them for buying Pixar.

    Good stuff with the book, and I appreciate your recommendation.

    Don’t laugh, the Editor was telling me about some strange blood letting ritual with some extraordinarily wealthy family something, something, wants to live forever. I presume you too are referring to that lot? Maybe it is just me, but that unlikely series of events and people brings to mind the echo of the words: ‘Bring out the leech’. Mate, everything old is suddenly new again. And maybe there was something to all that leech business? Bummer for the pizza business. And a bigger bummer for the young bloke.

    No, I’ve never seen images of missing kids on milk cartons. It would weird me out seeing that. Are the authoritas trying to reduce milk consumption? What have they got against the hard working dairy industry? Those dudes have even more trouble getting days off work than I do. Anyway, I don’t see the connection between the product and the situation. And exactly, that sounds about right to me. Sometimes the most unsafe place for kids is in the family home. Oh yeah, the crazy stuff I had to deal with would send shivers down your spine. Dude, you play the hand you are dealt. After a lot of reading and cogitation over the years, I reckon my mum had borderline personality disorder. It’s rare, but there are enough of them out there.

    I’ll be interested to hear what your friend has to say on the subject. Mate, the truth is, you have to be able to look after yourself before you can look after anyone else in the building if worse comes to worst. It’s a problem. Interestingly, from what I was reading about the 1983 fires, the pets usually did quite well (mostly) as long as they were able to make a clean exit. It was the ones confined in houses, cars and paddocks which seemed to have had the most problems – including getting deceased. Never good. One of the stories involved two cats left in a car, and they survived the fire, but were very annoyed and thirst the next day. When people panic, strange things happen, that’s one of the things I learned – like really strange car accidents. I reckon the most recent advice is probably the middle ground. I doubt anyone has even thought about it, other than yourself. Hope H is OK in such a situation.

    Yeah, I can see that Huck Finn. Whip smart that kid, and up to mischief, which didn’t seem to do him any harm. It was an excellent read.



  8. Yo, Chris – Well, the motto of Billy Connolly (Sir William Connolly CBE), the Scottish actor and comedian is: “Growing Old Disgracefully.” 🙂

    I think Orwell had a distinct wish to be authentic, as opposed to armchair. In whatever he wrote about. Dickens might have put up a good front of ego, but I think it hid a lot of insecurity. His early brush with abject poverty. Scrambling for money all the time to support those ten kids, and a mistress. One point Orwell made is that Dickens outlines a lot of social problems, but provides no solutions. Like overthrowing the government, or something. In most of his books, it seems he thinks that if people were just more … noble, all of societies problems would sort themselves out. So no upsetting the apple cart. Just get a new apple cart and horse.

    On food. The archaeological world is all atwitter, as a new fresco has been uncovered in Pompeii, that portrays a pizza. At least, that’s what some of the headlines say. Never mind that tomatoes hadn’t made the Trans Columbian Transfer, yet. Or that Mozzarella hadn’t been invented. Cooler heads say it was probably more a Focaccia, lots of fruit. Maybe, honey to hold it all together?

    From my “Can’t see the forest for the trees,” department. Or something. So, I was digging around in the rabbit hole about gypsum, and corn, and ran across a “…or ammonium sulfate.” Heck, I have a bag of that stuff. So, before watering last night, I sprinkled some around where I planted the corn. And where I replanted the corn after soaking the seed. Along with a couple of green zucchini and yellow zucchini. Should do ok. We have three, maybe more months left. Maybe longer if we have a fall like last year. But I’ll also keep my eye out for gypsum.

    Oh, I’m sure the pizza business is doing fine. It’s probably a high point for adventure tourists. 🙂

    Hmmm. Maybe that’s why Australians strike me as being more mentally healthy, than Americans. You didn’t traumatize a couple of generations of kids, with soulful pictures of missing kids, starring at you over your breakfast cereal. Those kids grew up, and became parents themselves. Might explain a lot. All the craziness and helicoptering around children, these days.

    There’s several articles (maybe even master’s dissertations) on the topic of what people grab, or decide to save, when under stress. Some of it is kind of bonkers, some of it kind of makes sense. H? Hmmm. Well, if she’s under my care, I’ll grab her and run. If she’s under Elinor’s care, I’m not even going there. If something was happening, and I went running into Elinor’s and asked her, “Do you me to take H,” there would be a lot of dithering. More than once, I’ve asked Elinor something, and have had to resort to, “That was a yes or no question.” Maybe I’d skip asking, and just grab H.

    We had biscuits and gravy, this morning. Tasty. Maybe none, next week, as Tuesday is the Fourth of July. Heard the first firework explosion, last night. Last Saturday’s pancakes brought in $50. Now they’re talking about hot dogs, on Saturday evenings. Lots of meetings, lots of people coming and going.

    Someone donated me some money for the food pantry, so I went hunting and gathering, last night. Did a pretty good haul. I also picked up a big jar of strawberry jam, a big jar of peach jam, and a small squirt bottle of honey. The jam is pretty good, with no corn syrup. That’s for the pancakes, on Saturday morning. A bit of value added, and all we have to do is open the bottle and shove a spoon in it. Lew

  9. Hi Lewis,

    The bloke is definitely onto something there with that quote. Hey, there’s a motorcycle club down here for older gentleman and they have the same motto. Coincidence? I believe it is the Ulysses Club. Their badge is pretty cool, like something one of those counter-culture cartoonists from the 70’s would have drawn. Like the ‘keep on truckin’ bloke.

    I agree, the author did certainly throw himself into the deep end, and so could probably write about the experience with a level of authority. And armchair theorists are always something of a problem, especially if they are directing policy when up in the upper echelons. There’s a bit of that going around these days. Oh well, those upper folks probably get lost in the detail, not my problem. I have no experience in such matters as the distinguished author clearly has, but on the other hand, having a good fundamental grasp as to what things actually cost, I’d have to suggest that ten kids and a mistress would be an expensive proposition, yeah. Anyway, I’m not competent enough for such social arrangements. 😉

    What’s this over throwing the government business anyway? Both authors appeared to me to be very much a part of the system. More noble, huh? Sounds like a fantasy of the darkest stripe, and the bloke needs to get out more. Funnily enough such loose talk reminds me of the same loose talk about free markets. Are the markets really free to run wild in the hills? I don’t think so.

    They do add pineapple onto pizzas from time to time, but are they real pizzas? Down here, the ham and pineapple combination pizza (which admittedly does have the more historically recent additions of mozzarella cheese and Napoli sauce) is known as the Hawaiian. Come to think of it, you can sometimes get a chicken parmigana, Hawaiian version. So that’s the chicken schnitzel (sometimes pronounced snitchel, like the sort of noise a thief nabbing a sneeze would make) covered with a tomato based sauce with chunks of pineapple and ham. Not bad really. Do they have such food wonders in your part of the world? Clearly, they didn’t have them in Pompeii due to lack of the specific and identifying products. But did you know that the pizza base is the same thing as a focaccia base? True. Same, same, but one is smooshed upon the baking tray, whilst the other is left to rise – without being smooshed. Nobody wants to be smooshed, do they?

    Turns out, ammonium sulphate has even higher concentrations of sulphur at something like 24%. A very useful supply of the mineral. Respect for the detective work, and the timely application. The addition of the gypsum wouldn’t hurt either, if you come across some in your travels, but agricultural lime would be best of all.

    You’re in that time of year which troubles me here – are these plants going to grow and produce before the end of the growing season? And like you, I really don’t know how they’ll go. But I’m keeping my eye out for short season varieties. A bit of plant breeding in order to climatise varieties to the local conditions wouldn’t go astray.

    The strategy appears to have worked for adventurous tourism elsewhere, so why not for the pizza biz? I mean, word on the street as you noted, was that after the sub folks got squooshed, inquires as to future travel went up. Hmm. Apparently the same thing is true for being dragged to the top of the world (Mount Everest). Bonkers from my opinion, no matter how much free oxygen is promised. The highest we’ve been is a bit over 5000m (16,500ft) in Nepal and I can assure you that the nights were cold and the air was thin. But we walked there slowly over a number of days. Incidentally, as someone who lives on a reasonably flat continent, walking 6 hours uphill was a notable and unnerving experience.

    Lewis, my breakfast would be totally ruined. Why is this lost little child peering out at me from the sides of the milk carton? So many questions, and given we’ve all seen the film Poltergeist, it would be like that awful scene (still haunts my nightmares) when the kid is in the corner of the screen crying for assistance. “Marrrmieee!” Makes me wonder why I watched all those 80’s horror films? Look, I had nothing to do with any of this stuff, so why ruin a perfectly good breakfast? Now with the advice from Sun Tzu in mind, I’d either switch to a more expensive milk brand without the sad faced children, or if that was not an option, I’d avoid using the milk for the breakfast cereal. I do that anyway. But yes, such things would mess with your head. Using the milk for coffee with the advertising would not present the same difficulties. It goes without saying that there is this thing: Before Coffee. Then, After Coffee. I now rest my case. 🙂

    Well, I have an odd hunch that it is as harmful for kids to suffer from permissive parenting as much as it is for them to enjoy the delights of a single parent who displays all the characteristics of borderline personality disorder. I did warn them, but do they listen, no? 🙂 The core problem with learning about risk, is that in order to do so, a person must be exposed to a degree of risk under guidance and with advanced knowledge. That’s a problem which I reckon our society hasn’t really grappled with in any meaningful way.

    The oral histories tended to focus on the more unusual items which people grabbed when evacuating with no notice and under extreme stress. I hear you about the dithering, and in an emergency, there is no place for such strategies. But then, that final sentence of yours does sound like a workable plan.

    Alas, I would have enjoyed biscuits and gravy. Woe is me, paid work all day long, little to no rest etc. Lunch was quite brief today as there was a lot to do. We’re only a couple of days out from the end of the financial year, and stuff has to be sorted out. Yes, it’s true, don’t deny it, I probably did something very bad in a past life to have to work so hard and for as long, but you know, I may be restoring the balance here somewhat, maybe? 🙂

    That’s a bit early for fireworks. They’re not all that easy to purchase down under. A fine haul of mad cash. They have to do something given the increased costs. Hmm. I reckon hot dogs would do well. Remember the much loved down under hardware store national onion-gate incident? Mate, those sausages sell, and there is a good reason for that. Just don’t put the onion on top, or was it underneath? Honestly I now forget, but don’t forget the mustard though. Yum! Does anyone in your part of the world do hot English mustard, or even Dijon mustard? I think the kick might be from horseradish. Bonkers hot, that stuff.

    Ooo, that does sound like good jam. I’d imagine corn syrup would impact upon the taste of the fruit in the jam? Peach jam can be a bit mild tasting. That’s one of the jam varieties, we haven’t quite gotten right yet.

    Value adding with food always ups the margin. 🙂 Hope your Club does well out of the pancakes.



  10. Yo, Chris – And who can forget the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers? 🙂 Somewhere, I’ve got a small pile of comics from those golden days. I really should flog them. Might be a bit of money in them, although the whole comic market is pretty bonkers, with their condition rating system, and all. I think I’d just throw them out there as “as is, as seen.”

    Why just stop at overthrowing government? Let’s shot for overthrowing Western Civilization! Go big, or go home. 🙂

    My favorite pizza is Canadian bacon and pineapple. Often called a Hawaiian, here. Although from here on out, pizza will have to be a home made affair. The prices are just getting too outrages. From my “great meals that stick in my mind” department … one of the best pizzas I have ever had was with chicken, feta cheese and pickled artichoke hearts.

    Not so much detective work, as falling over it by accident. I did work a bit of agricultural lime, into that soil, before I planted. Maybe, not enough?

    I wonder how many fires will be started, by fireworks, this year.

    Hmmm. Your mention of onions got me started thinking about condiments for the hot dogs. Mustard and catsup, of course. I thought of pickle relish, last night. And, you jogged my memory. Diced raw onions. Oh, yeah. Here in the Land of Too Many Choices, we have all kinds of mustards. I’ve got a can of Coleman’s in my cupboard. For when the sinuses need a good clean out. 🙂 Dijon. Check. I prefer the mustards with added horseradish.

    The peach jam. Maybe just a pinch of nutmeg?

    Well, we haven’t had a good Worry of the Day, for awhile. Here’s a good one …


    That might keep a few people up at night. Lew

  11. Hi Chris,

    It does look a little cold there ;-). Not so here, where we are just entering the hottest part of the year. Yesterday and this morning was our turn to be affected by smoke from the Canadian wildfires, but a warm front went through and the wind shifted to the south and southwest, blowing the smoke out. It also is blowing heat and humidity in. We are expecting the hottest temperatures of the year so far tomorrow and Friday. Weeding the garden should be unpleasant, but it has to be done.

    Harvest of the summer crops is just beginning. I picked the first two zucchini today along with eight excellent beets, roots and greens both. Not for me – sorry, I don’t like them at all, they taste like dirt to me – but Mike loves them. He’s very pleased. Within the next week or two harvest of tomatoes should begin, and not wimpy little cherry tomatoes, but full sized, full flavored heirloom tomatoes. They are some compensation for our long, hot, humid summers.

    I’m not Scottish and I prefer warm temperatures to cold ones, but I stay off and out of the ocean just as you do. Inland lakes were fun when I was young, but I haven’t done any swimming in years. I have to admit that the travails of the Titan kept my attention more than they should have. One of the articles I read, an interview of a father and son who were offered a cut-rate deal to ride in the Titan but declined, showed good sense. When the CEO claimed that the Titan was safer than a whole lot of other activities including crossing the street, the two declined the opportunity. That’s not to say that crossing all streets is safe (I wouldn’t want to cross some very wide and highly trafficked streets around here), but to seriously entertain the notion that being far below the surface of the ocean is safer than walking on the surface of the earth suggests inadequate thinking processes to me.


  12. Hi Chris,
    At least you get frost and flowers!
    Very smoky here. In fact the Chicago area and I imagine where Steve lives was reported to have the worst air quality in the world yesterday.

    The rain over the weekend really helped the garden. Everything is perking up and growing well now.

    Spent Monday and Tuesday with Cecily and my granddaughters. Every Christmas I give them a bag of books either from my library of books or 2nd hand from various sources. One of the books was JMG’s compilation of blog entries “Collapse Now and Avoid the Rush”. One of my granddaughters had finally read it and loved it. I gave her another JMG book and she’s 1/2 way through this. While I was there we discussed different themes/ideas from the books. Can’t say how excited and pleased I was to have a conversation like that with a teenager. She is on a debate team and every year there is a topic chosen for all high school debates teams in the country. This year it’s income inequality and she’s excited to learn more about it.

    First raspberries will ripen soon. The smoke is supposed to dissipate tomorrow.


  13. Chris,

    The Princess was home for a couple days. Two eventful days working on things related to her sister’s funeral and aftermath. Now she is on the Rez dealing with more of the same. Sadly, a cousin’s oldest granddaughter got killed in a car wreck over the weekend, so the Princess will attend some of those services also.

    We had a BIG thunderstorm slowly drift through Tuesday evening. 5 hours of thunder, over an hour of rain. Everything got a good soaking. Looks like another one is trying to form this afternoon too.

    My mom’s paternal ancestors moved into north central Kansas circa 1878. I think it was my great great grandfather’s brother who ran the property insurance business in the area. All was fine for several years. Then the big tornado ravaged the area. Ancestor went bankrupt. Looks to be what places like Miami, Florida and your area are facing due to rising oceans and/or chances of wildfires. The insurance business works well until it doesn’t.

    The poor tree fern. Are you going to do some hunting, maybe have wallaby stew? Our great huntress, Dame Avalanche, has been busy on the hunting front this week. She caught another sparrow Monday. I think maybe it’s her third bird. She spent 2 hours this morning hunting mice that were trying to invade from the neighbor’s yard. I don’t think she caught any, but they really didn’t get far from the fence either. In my mind, chasing and keeping the mice out works. Extra praise and treats have been lavished on her for the mouse duties. I wish she’d leave the birds alone, but something tells me she will continue hunting them too.

    When Avalanche’s water bowl gets a layer of ice on it, she stands on her hind feet then crashes onto the ice with one or both front paws. Depending on thickness, 1 to 3 tries usually breaks the ice. Then she grabs ice chunks and chews on them rather than drinking the water. Dunno if your fluffies will do that.

    The extended shed is looking good. Glad you got the drains and a lot of the crushed rock with lime on there. Have you gotten benches properly placed within the shed so you can supply visiting barbarians with mead and ale? These things are important to keep them happy.

    Twas a very hard winter on the roses. However, there is new growth on all of them. One flower total, but at least they are alive. The transplanted succulents are enjoying their new homes, as are the sage plants that I moved. The heathers are struggling, even with copious amounts of water. Time will tell.

    One more week of being the “one-armed man”. I’m still curious about how many stitches I got. 42? 8? 17? Obviously, I hope for 42. 😉


  14. Hi Lewis,

    Heck yeah! Those guys are funny as, and I was introduced to them about maybe a year or so ago (the memory now fades). It could have been earlier than that too. A mate had the collected adventures, and I had some quality time to flip through the sheer counter culture cartoon craziness. So much fun. One of my issues with the hippy press was that they lost so much authenticity when the owners probably wanted to appeal to a broader audience. And I can’t forgive them, never, ever, for not putting the infamous bubble photo on the front cover. Mate, the Editor made me freeze, like seriously crazy cold, for that pretend summer photo. And it was good too. Not my fault if they can’t detect true art, probably why they don’t publish nowadays, hmm. I do sometimes wonder if there is a market for a more back-to-basics publications along those lines. The interweb has to decline a bit, but that will happen I believe.

    🙂 Well, you don’t stop at minor challenges! You’re probably right, but the thing will sort itself out without me wasting my energy upon it. I’ve got other things to do with my time, like, err, breaking rocks. We split the remaining rocks today from that monster rock which at first defeated me a month or two back, then finally succumbed to my loving ministrations with the rock drill and jackhammer. Take that, ye pesky granite! And that will teach you for rattling my teeth. Chucked the chunks into the power wheelbarrow and drove them over many trips back up the hill to be used on the low gradient ramp project. This time they extended the lowest rock wall on the project. There’s something quite satisfying when the jackhammer finally produces fracture lines in a rock, before it then splits apart. Just like cracking eggs when you know the meal is going to be par excellence, but you’re still at the prep stage of the meal. You can quote me on that with the pancake prep folks. 🙂

    The pizza sounds good, but when you mentioned Canadia pork, for some odd reason the mind recalls that serial killa they had up there who kept all those pigs in a remote locale. Best to not be involved in that miscreants business. And who can forget the memorable fictional character of Mr. Wu and his handy pigs in the series Deadwood? A nasty and unpleasant business to be sure. I never got around to watching the movie, which apparently wrapped up many a loose end where the series just stopped due to bonkers production costs. And now that we are speaking of the movie biz, let’s not forget the Pineapple Express which does have it’s origins near to Hawaii. The logic here is very circular and maybe sound perhaps? 🙂

    Incidentally, I agree with you. Pickled artichoke hearts on a pizza are really the whole next level of experience (as are the other ingredients). Yum!

    Falling over the stuff by accident. Hmm, is this not an act of serendipity? Kind of looks that way to me. Hopefully, the addition of sulphur assists the corn, although warmer weather might do the trick with some additional assistance too. I read Claire’s comment with a level of amazement as to the sort of produce warmer conditions can provide. Agricultural lime is slow to release the calcium carbonate into the soil. It takes a while, and you can see it in the soil as little spots of white in the soil, like stars in the night sky. I do joke around a bit, but I’ve never mucked around when I’ve noted that it can take upwards of three years to produce a quality soil. That experience is one of the things which disturbs me should we as a society ever have to travel that path of reduced chemical fertiliser additives to soil. Makes you wonder about Sri Lanka, huh? Far out.

    Probably heaps of fires. Down here, at the time of year which you are at, the use of the items are banned and it would lead to a arson charge if so used and the fire got away. We’re pretty serious about such matters.

    I can see that about raw onions, but between you and I, most people would prefer the onions fried along with the sausages. Shredded cheese is the other big addition to such a feast down here. Cooked onions, cheese and mustard is the trifecta additions. I’m so with you in this matter. Mustard demands horseradish. Boom! That is the sound of your sinuses exploding!

    Your suggestion for the nutmeg is good, but with the peach jam (and kiwi jam for that matter), we have to cook the fruit first in order to release the pectin so that the jam sets. The nutmeg would assist, definitely, but first cook the fruit. We’ve done some serious deep diving into making jams, and it won’t be long at all until we are again put to the question, I mean, sorry, put to the test. The Kiwi fruit is almost ripe. Yum.

    Oh, that’s a fine worry of the day. A bit of a problem for people who can’t read a map, don’t you reckon? It won’t keep me up at night, although the depletion of ground water aquifers is no small thing.



  15. Hi Claire, Margaret and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however it is that most awful of times – the much dreaded mid week hiatus. Did a lot of good work today, and got off to a very late start with the evening. A long hot bath after a long cold work day outdoors, and an even longer dog walk may have added to the late start. And then there was the coffee and Anzac biscuit, they were both good too – and well deserved. I recommend the experience. Anyway, tomorrow will be less distracting, and I promise to reply then.



  16. Yo, Chris – Perhaps I’ll run across your bubble pic, in that book I’m perusing, “The Madman’s Gallery?” 🙂

    I think I forgot to mention a book, I had on my hold list, that showed up yesterday. Autobiography. “Sam Neill: Did I Ever Tell You This?” I’m looking forward to reading it, but I’ve got three (four?) other books on the go, so poor Sam will just have to wait. I wonder if he’ll reveal something disgraceful?

    Last night, I watched the new movie “Abattoir.” Sorry. Some movie and book titles just beg for mucking about. 🙂 Probably too much, and too early exposure to Mad Magazine. So, what did I think? Well, as I’ve stated before, there’s nothing as sad as a white boy, with dreadlocks. Now that I’ve got that out of the way … It was well worth a bowl of popcorn. It is long. But, there’s always something going on, and world building takes awhile. Everything is just gorgeous. It ended on, not a cliff hanger, but a bit open ended, so, if this one does well, there will probably be a sequel. So, we’ve had the forest, and now the ocean. What’s up next? The desert? I want to live on one of the floating mountains.

    Yes, that is an odd string of mind flips. Too much time having your brains rattled, with the jack hammer? 🙂 Shaken, not stirred.

    I’m envious of Claire, and all the stuff she’s got ripening. So far, we have Strawberries. And, it looks like the currents are about ready. It was 79F, yesterday. And the highs for the next four days are 79F. We’re stuck in a rut. Then a bit up, and then a bit down.

    We had a number of explosions, in our neighborhood, well after midnight, last night. Also, our building fire alarm went off at 6:15am. don’t know why. Luckily, it lasted just long enough for me to awaken, and in my confusion, turn off my alarm clock. 🙁 So I got up a bit late, today. I thought maybe a small earthquake might have set it off. But, nothing at that time, on the state earthquake map.

    Cheese for the hotdogs! Someone else suggested mayo, yesterday. The condiment possibilities are piling up. Chili, was also mentioned. And the profit margin is shrinking. I’m not doing any buying, for that. Did my bit, for the pancakes. Someone else can make hot dog condiment decisions. I’ve got a book on my hold list, about hot dogs. The lore and history, I’d guess. I’ll just show up and see what’s on offer.

    Nutmeg. Just a pinch. “The Two Fat Ladies,” of British cooking fame held that nutmeg enhanced any dish you could think of. Lew

  17. Hello Chris
    I haven’t run away, am simply drowning in family. Thanks for the interesting read, but no time to comment.


    @ Lew
    I had no idea that Hamburg was used as a surname; fascinating. My great great grandfather was Merczus Symonait and this became Martin Siemoneit under German occupation.


  18. Hi Claire,

    That morning was candidly a bit frosty. 🙂 Hey, today was a glorious winters day at 11’C, blue sunny skies and only a bit of wind. We set off a large burn off and cleaned up an area. It’s hard work that. Anyway, that’s quite warm for here during winter. It’s more like early spring weather. There have been at least two huge cloud bands (you might call them atmospheric rivers) developing over the tropical Indian Ocean to the north west of the continent, and the recent rain over the usually arid centre of the continent has been remarkable.

    That’s thermal inertia for you. 🙂 But sorry to hear that the smoke has reached you. I’m surprised the smoke drifted that far south, and am glad to hear that the smoke eventually went elsewhere. I’m not entirely certain what you mean by the hottest days of the year, as that is a relative concept. How hot did it get? And frankly, I hate early mornings, but at such times of the year the only way to get stuff done in the garden is to get up early so as to beat the mid to late afternoon heat.

    I know what you mean about the taste of the beets, but I do enjoy them when pickled. So good, so tasty. I find Silverbeet (Chard) leaves taste a bit earthy too, and so we don’t grow them here, even though they’d probably grow just fine in the hot summer sun. Claire, truly, I’m in awe of your garden conditions hearing of full sized tomatoes only days past the summer solstice. Only a fossil fuel heated greenhouse would produce such an outcome here. I hear you, it is compensation for you for the prevailing conditions in your part of the world. And it’s good compensation. 🙂

    I’m not Scottish either, that stuff just runs in my blood, both highland and lowland. And honestly, their winters would scare the daylights out of me, as would the cool summers there. That sub story is fascinating to me, I mean talk about tempting the deep sea Gods with such loose talk of ‘obscenely safe’. I like how your brain works, because the story captured my attention too, yet there was little sympathy expressed in the many people I have spoken to about this. A friend described the physics behind the implosion, and it was a harrowing tale. Yes, the ocean, best enjoyed from the land. I applaud your sensible nature, and absolutely and wholeheartedly agree with you.



  19. Hi, Chris!

    It has been a busy week here, and then Canadian wildfire smoke came back, worse than the last time, and it did me in yesterday. Mostly lost that day.

    What unpleasant experiences, you and the sea. I love the beach, but I get seasick at sea.

    Of course, we were younger once . . .

    Mountains and cold weather – me, me, me! (Scots in me, too).

    A big hail storm missed us earlier in the week. My son told me to park under a tree when in town at my mother’s assisted living (not so sure about parking under trees as a large limb recently fell just behind one of our parked cars at home, barely missing smashing the rear window). Anyway, there is one little tree at the asssisted living and we all already fight over it for the bit of shade it provides on these summer days. Phooey!

    Ah – the Frozen Water Bowl Test. I use that, too, to guess how cold it is, though it can be skewed by me putting hot water in it the night before for the night creatures.

    That’s an impressive rainbow. I don’t seem to see as many rainbows as you do. We can’t see the valley in the summer and the forest blocks any other views. What’s that stuff growing around your weather thingee?

    Why, Wallaby? Why?

    The flowers are beautiful – thanks. We have roses, pineapple sage, daisies, and salvia blooming – our summer to your winter. We don’t have any hellebores or penstemon plants; lovely.


  20. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 It’s not just you who is amazed that the flowers here survive the frost. Hopefully after the frost, there are some flowers this week to include in the photographs. Candidly, it is a tough time of year to nab flower photos. One of the fruit trees I relocated about this time last year had even produced some blossoms last week. What can I say, the fruit tree (and it may have been a pear) was possibly a bit stressed due to the relocation.

    I hope that like Claire’s experience, the smoke has now moved on to elsewhere. That happens here too during the summer months, and some years are far worse than other years. That’s not good, and we’ll probably find out how things went for Steve shortly. Nobody wants that prize.

    That’s great news and the rain would make your garden grow like a jungle. 🙂

    How is your work in the bookshop going? That would be a good source for some books too, and as far as presents go, a pile of well chosen books to read would be a most excellent gift. Such a great idea, and books are one of life’s little joys.

    Wow. That’s a tough conversation to have. Respect. Based on the reactions I’ve received over the years to similar experiences and discussions, they know. It’s only some of the adults who act like children. On this topic, and just to brace you, and for all sorts of reasons I can’t ever go into, I have to write about my childhood next. Hmm, well these things happen.

    Of all the berries, raspberries are my favourite. The berries make such a tasty jam too.

    Hope the smoke dissipated.



  21. Hi DJ,

    I’m sorry for the loss of your lady’s young family member. The loss of the young is always hard for those left behind. And it is a greater loss for the community.

    The thunderstorm is great news for your garden, and hopefully no fires were ignited in the area. Or Triffids popped up in the garden? You never know! Years and years ago I arrived home from the big smoke to see from a good distance away somewhere near to the bottom of the property in thick forest, a tree sending a smoke tendril into the sky. Fortunately, it wasn’t just me concerned by this, and I was sort of impressed at how many folks were spurred into action to do something about it. The tree was ignited by lightning strike. But the flip side of lightning strikes, and this may appeal to the inner scientist in you, is that such events take nitrogen out of the atmosphere (as you’d know, there is a lot of that stuff) and deposit it into the soil.

    Did you get more rain? Kansas seems to be the geographical centre-ish of your country, but the climate. You sent me on something of an interweb rabbit hole reading about the climate of that part of your country, and north of there. I guess that was why they headed west, and north?

    I agree with you though, the insurance story will play out in I believe to be a very strange way. People with mortgages, who are skipping on their insurance obligations (hoping that nobody notices), may in fact be in technical default of their loan contracts – even if otherwise up to date with payments. I’m yet to hear of the banksters demanding a certificate of currency for insurance policies for their loan customers, but it might happen. When we have natural disasters here, that’s when you learn of the real underlying rates of insurance. But I’m not mucking around, with annual increases in the order of 20%, well your grasp of maths is better than mine. It’s not good.

    You may laugh, but I used to know a local lady who claimed that when she was young, wallaby was on the menu. And as a meat, it’s meant to be pretty good: Wallaby now considered ‘fine food’ not ‘pet food’, Tasmanian game meat business says. The thing is, the forests are not what they once were when more astute custodians maintained them. i.e. there is not a lot for the marsupials to eat here due to the forest being so thick and stuff. So if we ate wallaby, it would take almost no time at all to wipe out the local population. You’ll note in the article that they mentioned that the marsupial population in that area has exploded due to the increased grasslands since earlier days.

    Hehe! Go Avalanche. Right, your fine specimen of a canine has set the gold standard. I’ll try and train the dogs here to do that trick with the ice, but their origins are from warmer parts of the world and I don’t reckon they’ll be up to the challenge. Sir Poopy is the closest dog I’ve known to Avalanche, and did he love to romp in the snow (when it occasionally settled here) or what? I haven’t seen snow here for two years now.

    Well, that would be telling about the inner workings of the recently extended shed. Sadly there is a reason I do not show images of the insides of that place, and I also won’t tell you about the spatial anomaly in there which may lead to Valhalla – and back again. But I didn’t tell you that, it’s a secret. 😉 Oops, broke my own rule there.

    Mate, the shed extension is awesome as everything now just fits easily. It was a bit of a drama before that. We had a bit of a burn off today and was able to chuck on the cardboard packaging for the heavy duty shelving. The burn off was fun too. It’s still going, and at night the upwards orange glow of the fire lights up the trunks of the tall trees. Better to burn the forest litter now, than in a big fire later – and the wallabies will no doubt retreat to here in the cleaner areas if a big fire does come through. Animals know this stuff, and I recently read about many incidents of dogs and cats who survived the 1983 bushfires which ripped through here. Barbarians are always happy folk – nowadays people would say that they are living their best life, whatever that means.

    Great to hear that the roses are bouncing back from the winter. Honestly, after your reports of the winter weather at the time, I did wonder how the roses would fare. Tough plants. Sage plants are so tough and hardy. Oh, I wouldn’t have thought that heather would require much water given where they grow.

    One must hope for 42, unless they’re to be manually removed unlike the easier dissolving stitches, then you’d want 4.2 stitches instead. My logic is sound here. You’ll be back up and running in no time at all. Have you got feeling in the hand yet?



  22. Hi Pam,

    So sorry to hear that about the smoke. It is awful when the smoke is particularly thick. It’s hard to breathe at those times. You can see how smoke would knock someone down in a big bushfire. You have to get low to the ground at such times, and/or, breathe near to the water spray (if you have one – not always the case during a fire). Are you feeling better today?

    I like the beach too, but mostly during the winter months due to overly large numbers of tourists in the summer months. Anyway, the winter storms near to the beach are wondrous to enjoy, from a safe distance on the shore of course. Ooo, that’s a major bummer about seasickness. Sandra is also brought low by seasickness. We’ve been on some horrendous ocean travel, and the car ferry from Kangaroo Island to the mainland was a stand-out memory. How they used to cross half way across the world in a timber sail boat is a true feat of adventure. Bonkers. Anyway, how did you discover you suffered from seasick sickness?

    Hehe! Yup, very true. The facts in this case do speak for themselves.

    Well done you, and well met! It is in the blood isn’t it? Some of my fondest childhood memories are heading up into the remote bush with my grandfather and his WWII drinking buddies. A long way from civilisation. It pleases me no end that I’m able to live in the bush nowadays. You may have noticed that it’s not for everyone!

    Did you just prove that there is no such thing as a risk free car parking space? Some of the inner city parks have large old elm trees and I’ve seen some rather large branches being drawn by that gravity thing. Best not to be underneath. But then there was that awful time when the thick rope thrown from the balloon almost hit me in the head. The balloon basket was crashing into the large old elm trees. Hmm. Balloons, not for I!

    Pam, that’s really thoughtful with the water. I leave water out for the forest critters here too, especially the birds and insects.

    Hmm, we do get a lot of rainbows, but it may be something to do with the rain running to the south of here along the valley below the mountain saddle, with the sun to the north. The trees are tall here, but to the south, I believe the 1983 bushfire wiped out most of the forest. There are few if any old large trees there. It’s all saplings dating from that time. It’s a bit uncanny to see where the fire went and the effect it had on the forest. The plant around the weather station is a wormwood.

    Why? Naughty, pure and simple. That is why.

    Thanks, and glad to hear that you have lots of flowers there too. It is weird how the plants can be the same, but growing in different seasons.



  23. Hi Lewis,

    It’s always possible, but I have some doubts that the image will be found there. 😉 The funny thing is, I have a specific purpose for writing the essay, and you know, why waste words and stuff? Mostly I was raised by a very difficult person, and I got a ring side seat to that little show, and decided not to purchase tickets once I was an adult. No doubts you can understand my perspective having also left home as early as possible? In many ways I was very lucky because there was not another adult who was gaslighting me by telling me how much mumsie cared. She had plenty of problems, and I kept my distance as much as possible, but sadly the tale demands to be recounted for all sorts of reasons. Oh well, moving on, and there is always the following week.

    Hey, we were discussing that book a while ago. Hope it’s a good autobiography? And yes, if there are juicy bits, well, he might just be a really good actor, who turned up on time and knows his lines? I read a bit more of Mr Wodehouse’s tale, and he is now into dialogue between the characters, and you can almost hear the toffs talking. Whatever else you say, the author has the upper class language down pat. It’s quite odd that the, is it man-servant, Jeeves, is a more knowledgeable bloke than the protagonist. I can understand your sentiment in relation to the book, as I do find it a little bit difficult to relate to the characters problems. It’s like they’re from Mars. But there is a genuine comedic tone to the story. Hmm.

    For the life of me, I am totally uncertain why anyone would require a trigger-warning for such a book. Bonkers, but it was proposed I believe.

    There’s a couple of films with the name ‘Abattoir’. I’m currently leaning towards the 2016 version of the title, but could be wrong? No need to apologise at all, somewhere else in the comments we were discussing eating wallabies, so you may have inadvertently provided an excellent segue with the title of that film.

    It does explain a lot. And maybe a bit more than that. Yes, I know what you mean about that magazine. Warps a persons sense of humour, in a good way. 🙂 Dreadlocks can be an issue for other peoples olefactory nerves, that’s for sure – there was an incident a couple of decades ago in a restaurant. Let’s just say that the air was pungent with stench. Quite puts one off their food. Yeah. I dunno man, I’d like thick luscious hair, but such is not my lot in life. A couple of friends still have good thick hair, and I mentioned that to them once recently and made the amusing suggestion, something, something, lack of stress. Well, that sure got a reaction. Apparently it’s genetics. Yes, annoying people since way back. 🙂

    That might explain a thing or two about the old brains. It could be a problem, but then, would any of us ever know (if that effect happened to any of us)? I tend to believe that it would be a problem for other people, as we just might not notice.

    It was a beautiful winter day today. The sun finally shone. Two hours of peak sunshine, which is extraordinary for this time of year. It was about 52’F and out in the sunshine the sun felt warm. We had a big burn off way down below. We’re still cleaning up the loggers mess, and converting as much of it as we can into firewood. But the tree stumps get burnt off, there’s not else to be done with them. At least the ash is a decent fertiliser. By mid afternoon, it was quite hot working out there. Bonkers. The centre of the continent is getting a real drenching, and it is meant to be the dry season there. I’ll bet there’ll be some remote dramas up there with stuck tourists in way out of the way places.

    I’m astounded at Claire’s report on her produce. Even in the hottest year I’ve experienced here, I wouldn’t be able to repeat her output from the garden. No way. It’s amazing. You’re heading into the warmest month of the year. Did it end up getting that hot?

    Fireworks after midnight would be a hassle. I’m guessing the cheeky scamps want to share their enthusiasm with the surrounding community? Out of context, the boom would set my nerves on edge.

    That’s way too early. Is it even light at that time of the morning? Sorry, but your alarm reaction did provide a wry chuckle. At least you have an amusing side story to the incident. Oh, hey I slept through another earthquake last night. Victoria’s latest earthquake: What do we know, and what can we expect next? Apparently they are quite common, and this one had origins near to the big 5.9 quake two years ago. A bit too frequent for my comfort levels. Hmm. They’re calling it an after shock, but how would they know?

    Yeah, cheese – I wasn’t joking. That’s a common addition to hotdogs here. So there is an economic dimension to this matter, which makes a lot of sense. What do you reckon they’ll go with?

    Nutmeg, yes of course!!! 🙂



  24. Yo, Chris – Saw an interesting article, last night, on weather. Great photos. I was a little concerned, as it swept through, just about between Margaret and Claire.


    When I took H out for a walk, this morning, it was overcast with a decided smell of smoke in the air. Nothing about it on the weather site. Or, the local news. Though they’re slow on the uptake. It got up to over 80F, yesterday. By next Tuesday, we’ll be heading into 90F+ territory.

    “…tale demands to be recounted for all sorts of reasons.” Therapy. It’s called therapy.

    I did dip into a couple of chapters of the Sam Neill book. Readable. Great sense of humor. He was recounting how his daughter went to school, and was asked, as a classroom exercise, what daddy or mommy did for a living. His daughter said, “Daddy sits around in caravans, all day.” Ah, the exciting life of an actor. 🙂

    Speaking of books, I stopped by the Club, and someone had left some paperbacks. “Classics” of one sort or another. So, I picked up a handful for our little library, here, at the Institution. There was some H.G. Wells, Asimov. The Great Gatsby. Also, a copy of your favorite book, with the unmentionable title. I left it at The Club. 🙂 .

    Getting back to magazines, there is a magazine that’s been published here, forever. “Grit.” Eleanor asked if it was still published, and how much it cost. Well, yes it is, but they seem to have changed their focus. Judging from what I saw on-line, it’s now a kind of country / farm publication. I mean, it kind of was, in the past, but hits it harder now. More for urban farmers and small holders.

    I also read an essay, by George Orwell, on British boy’s weeklies. There were about 12 of them, and they could be found all over Britain. Quit popular from about 1910 up through WWII. They were pretty formulaic, and had pretty stock characters. Mostly, they revolved around sort of semi-posh public schools. Aspirational?

    Speaking of remote dramas, I suppose you’ve heard of the rather tragic end to the actor Julian Sands. Went hiking in the mountains, east of Los Angeles, and disappeared last January. Well, they just found what’s left of him. I’d guess that after all this time, it will be very hard to establish “cause of death.”

    Oh, sure. One of the most popular form of hot dog is weenie on a bun, slathered with chili, chopped raw onions and cheese.

    I’ve had a sore throat, since night before last. Not too bad. A good warm salt water gargle takes the edge off. I went down to the Club for a cuppa, last night, and two other guys had the same thing. Must be something going around.

    Next time you stumble across a seismologist, you’ll have to ask them. 🙂 When I looked at our state earthquake map, the other day, I noticed there were quit a few small quakes around Mt. Rainier, over the last two days. No surprise there. That mountain is always restless. Lew

  25. Chris,

    Thanks. I had met the young lady only a few times. She was always cheerful and full of good jokes. She will be missed.

    No triffids have sprouted from the ground. Yet. Maybe the added nitrogen from the lightning has them confused.

    Nope, no more rain. A typical summer pattern is setting in. Probably not much rain, highs 28C to 35C, nights dropping to 18C or so. Not cool, not hideously hot.

    The mortgage payments here include property taxes but do not include house insurance. The insurance is something I budget for. Rates aren’t onerous, but I’m in the city. I think rates are somewhat higher in more rural areas.

    Interesting article about wallaby meat. Thanks. Forests versus grasses/grains…We see something similar here with the deer population. There are fewer deer in the deep forests than in the smaller forests that border on legume and wheat fields. The deer that eat the farm products are bigger, too.

    That ice thing Avalanche does seems to be inherited in the northern breeds. Wolves do that, and both Rakhi the Samoyed and Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz did it too. No training required.

    Ah, disappointing lack of info about the shed’s interior. Any hints about potential inner workings and spatial anomalies were quite ignored and quickly forgotten. If you meet my 42x great grandfather Ivar on your next trip through the spatial anomaly (about which I have completely forgotten and know nothing about) tell him his descendant sends greetings. 😉

    Yes, the feeling is returning to the afflicted finger. That is a very good thing but can be uncomfortable at times. I am so much looking forward to July 5 when the current wrap and splint get removed.

    Avalanche was in full hunting mode Wednesday evening. Some sparrows decided to spend the night in one section of a hedge, Avalanche wandered the edges of the hedge on her hind feet, balancing and walking on said feet for several minutes at a time. It was quite the impressive athletic feat. I’m wondering next if she will climb trees or something.


  26. Hi DJ,

    Life can be very random and unfair, sorry to say.

    Clearly your science powers are being brought to bear on the potential problem of both lightning strikes and Triffids in your garden. Will the Triffids try and bite the lightning strikes, that what I want to know. And then like Frankenstein, will things gets very strange from that point onwards? Already you know about mutant space goats, but might this extra energy not take the form of … mutant space Triffids?

    I agree, that’s neither too hot, or too cold, but just nice summer weather. It turned cooler here today, but not unseasonably cold at 9’C, and of course there was some rain.

    What? I’m not sure I understand that at all. Did you say that property taxes are collected as part of mortgage repayments? What happens if a household has no mortgage? Fascinating. The two are very much separate here, as is insurance. Rates here are pushing around the $2.5k per annum mark. I hear that things in the big smoke are much more expensive. I don’t get much in the way of services for that mad cash, and incidentally, the road leading north from here was recently graded and is now bonkers. Even in four wheel drive today I was sliding around. They really appear to have messed that job up and possibly might need to get some road base in there before someone slides off the steep embankment (there are no guard rails, and it is a bit of a drop). Capital works are getting expensive from what I hear. Hmm.

    Exactly. In thick unmanaged forest, there really isn’t a lot for animals to eat. The vegetation does just fine in such conditions initially, then even the plants eventually run out of critters who convert plant life into manure. People think of such environments as an end point, but really it is simply a point along a circular journey. Observing the forest over many years has changed the way I think about the collection of plants.

    No training required does suggest hard wiring for that ice act. She’d be disappointed with the conditions here. Sir Poopy the Swedish Lapphund really struggled with the summer months. Does Avalanche dodge the mid afternoon heat?

    Man, that’s great news about the return of some feeling. The word uncomfortable suggests that a deep lesson has been learned. I may have mentioned to you that many long years ago as a young bloke I put my hand on a spinning angle grinder disc? It sure did hurt, and was over very quickly. It’s not far away at all. 🙂 And remember to do your rehab (just getting in early there!)

    Go Avalanche! Her display would have disturbed the sparrows, but then again, do we know the avian mind? I have observed a certain Kelpie jumping up and down quite high at the base of a tree, whilst an annoyed magpie peers down from the safety of a branch at least 10m up. What thoughts would the magpie be having?



  27. Chris:

    I feel much better, thank you.

    I found out about true seasickness when fishing in the Gulf of Mexico as a child. I had never gotten seasick before, though often fishing on lakes and in a large boat. I guess they don’t have the waves. I did so used to love to fish.

    We have those tour balloons here. Being in a forest, I can hear them before I see them. They make me so nervous, and you were lucky that roap did not hit you. I imagine that you would have been killed. We had a neighbor onec who had what we all called a flying machine as it it was basically a lawnmower engine with a propeller and and a sail. He would take it into another neighbor’s field and take off and then fly over our houses. Remember that we are forest, and he would just skim over the trees. Every time I heard him I would pray that he would not crash on our property. He also used to take it all over the country so that he could try to get himself killed among different scenery.

    Ah – wormwood.


  28. Hi Lewis,

    The storm photos did look impressive. I wonder where the storm gathered it’s moisture from? Did it originate anywhere near the Great Lakes? At least the smoky air will clear in that part of the world. Today was a more expected sort of winter day here. Had an easier day, and headed to a nearby town over in the eastern end of the mountain range to sample a sausage roll and a lamington. So good, although possibly not good if consumed together at the same time. The tastes would most likely clash. Thankfully for all involved, the sausage roll was consumed earlier, whilst the lamington was enjoyed with coffee at the end of the work day. Did a bit more cleaning up and sorting of the mead hall. Everyone needs a mead hall. 🙂

    They do say that where there is smoke, there is fire, and it may be true. Although my experience tends to suggest that it can be hard to tell where the fire exactly is based on diffuse smoke alone. Did you see anything in the local news about it? We’ve got a state wide interweb map which displays the various emergencies going on and you can get an idea of where the smoke here may be coming from (if you know where the winds are blowing from and the general topography of the area).

    Hehe! True, but I’ve heard that therapy is expensive these days! 😉 Nah man, I don’t always reveal my motivations. I’m not entirely certain that anyone would be interested in them anyway.

    That is a funny line from Sam Neill’s daughter. You raise an interesting point though. There would be people who want to get into acting and are not prepared for the work that it is. A fun job, is still a job. It would be an exciting life, sometimes. 🙂

    The Classic’s are always a good score. And I doubt that they’ll last long in the share library at your digs. Man, where was my trigger warning? Hehe! Looking back over your paragraph and pondering the words, does this mean some folks consider that book to be a classic? Ouch, the precious, it hurts, it hurts! 🙂 Alright, maybe what annoyed me about the book was that poor little hard done by Holden had so much, yet he still came across like a miserable little ingrate. I guess it goes to prove that permissive parenting is probably not all that great an idea?

    Thanks for mentioning the magazine, and it looks pretty good to me. Certainly aimed squarely at the urban farmer and small holder, as you note. Larger farmers probably have other concerns, and it is very possible that there are simply very few folks, covering an awful lot of produce. I read somewhere or other that agriculture employs around 1% of the population down here. Probably not a smart move to be honest given what that few produce.

    Such periodicals weren’t in existence when I was a kid. Did you ever read any of them? Interestingly, I’ve always loved reading, and from a very early age too. Libraries were a joy, and also a regular haunt. What I sort of vaguely recall was that the other kids didn’t really share that enthusiasm for books, and instead tended to watch television, or listen to the radio. It is possible that nowadays, people read even less books. It’s not a valid survey result, but more of a general observation. In a bizarre way, the little phone things people so love, may actually be increasing the amount of content read. However, a couple of hundred words is not a book with a coherent narrative and good structure, is it? 🙂

    Aspirational? Maybe. I’ve heard parents suggest that the kids will make useful contacts at such places (especially when the kids are not all that intellectually gifted) which will justify the extraordinary fees. It’s an opinion.

    Oh that’s not good at all. Severe storms, landslides. A person could easily become unstuck in such conditions. They probably have mountain lions in that range too. It would be a very difficult thing to discover after such a period of time, but you never know. And that search would have occurred during the winter months. Not good.

    It’s hot dog day tomorrow isn’t it? Or pancakes. Anyway, I’m intrigued to hear how the hot dogs ended up. Does your book provide any guidance on the subject? I’m all in favour of cooked onions + shredded cheese + hot English mustard. And let’s not begin discussing the relative merits of the various sausage meats. That can be a mixed bag, and my vote goes to the Kransky, or Bratwurst as a close second.

    Hmm, hope you’re feeling better? It’s possible that all that smoke in the air from the fires up north across the border are causing your throat to be sore. It’s hard breathing in such conditions, and from my experience inflames the airways.

    I will, for sure! And you may laugh, but you never know who you’ll encounter in this here thing called life. Man, Mt. Rainier looks potent, so yeah I can see what you mean there. Did you know that that particular range has a possibility of 2 to 3 eruptions per century? Good Luck! Hopefully things stay quiet in these parts too on that front, but sooner or later…



  29. Hi Pam,

    Glad to hear that you are feeling better. 🙂 Lot’s of smoke in the air is just hard to breathe deeply. Hope the storms are pushing the smoke elsewhere?

    There’s a gas fired power station in the big smoke. It sits right on the water too. The hot water runs into the bay, and near to the outlet is a railing. Leaning against the railing are usually a whole bunch of people fishing. The warm water attracts the fish (Port Phillip Bay, is not a warm body of water). You know, as an activity, it provides a wonderful way to while away the time and enjoy some quiet moments. I get into that sort of a relaxed head space when working around here.

    Yes, the rope would have hurt had it hit me in the head – it was a very thick hemp rope. Hmm. And seriously, the basket was crashing into the tree tops. And the noise, that lot do begin the day at unnatural times.

    Pam, what a nightmare, and I so hear you. People are very careless with the way they use technology. Fortunately, things are very heavily regulated on that front down here, and the bloke would get into a lot of trouble. Those little engines, so much to go wrong. I know enough about those things, to know not to trust them when used in that capacity.

    And you know, the other thing about it, is that if he came to a bad end on your property, you’d get to experience the trauma of coming across that scene. It’s not good.

    It’s raining again tonight. Your comment for some reason was flagged by the software. Basically that part of the software is useless, and I can detect no reason as to why it happened. It doesn’t get lost, although I only check what comments ended up in that hold area once per day, so your other comment was a good idea. 🙂



  30. Yo, Chris – The storm was well south of the Great Lakes. Well, the article didn’t mention much rain. Just wind. I’d say, any moisture was picked up by drying out the forests, and any body of water. No matter how small. Our skies often look like that, here. But no rain is produced.

    Mead Hall. It’s bigger on the inside? 🙂

    There was no explanation for the smokey smell. It dissipated, rather quickly. There was a big house fire over in Centralia. And, there was probably lingering smoke from the fireworks.

    In more civic news, I didn’t know it, but Centralia has some kind of a CCTV system. And, we’re soon to get one here, in Chehalis. The Powers That Be say it will cut crime.

    From what I’ve read, from successful actors, is, they treat it as a job. Get up in the morning, go to work, go home.

    Oh, I don’t know how those classics will go over, in the Institution’s library. I really can’t get a fix on how many people read (I don’t think very many), and what their tastes are. From what moves around, I’d say mostly romances and mysteries. There’s a lot of good non-fiction in there, but I don’t know why I bother. No one touches it. Oh, well. Not my business.

    I see the same figures, for here. Depending on who you ask, 1-3% of the population is involved in agriculture. But I think a lot of people might be missed in the count. Is that figure just owners? How about the thousands of field hands? A bulk who are either here illegally, or, on work permits. How about all those folks who sell at farmer’s markets? Roadside stands? Heck, even us old dodderers, here at the Institution, contribute something to the flow of food. But yes, the numbers are low, and our food is in the hands of too few people.

    I just read a couple of articles, recently, that The Land of Stuff owns 330,000 acres, of our farmland. They also own Smithfield meat, a venerable old company. What’s interesting is, The Land of Stuff is like 17th on the list, of foreign ownership. There are some concerns. Too close to military bases, etc. Some countries are more friendly to us, than others.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen any of the British boy’s weeklies. Though I guess they were shipped all over the Empire, at that time. Orwell commented that politically (not that politics or world events were mentioned much), they were pretty much stuck in 1910. No sex, and girls were hardly mentioned. (There were some girl’s weeklies, also.) The characters were really archetypes. Plug and play. The jock, the scholarship boy, at least one “titled” lad, the fat boy, maybe an American, a person of color (but he was a raja, so that was ok.) The brain, who read a lot. There was also a group of “bad” boys, who had even less depth than the main characters. They were “fast” and bent or broke the rules. Always in danger of being “sent down.” Smoked cigarettes (!).

    I haven’t run across anything comparable, here in the States. I mean, there’s always been magazines for children. But, for older kids, well, for boys there was “Boy’s Life.” Which started publishing in 1911. But it was for the Boy Scouts. Although I think it was widely read, even by boys who weren’t Scouts.

    Cougars, bears, packs of coyotes. Maybe even a wolf, or two. But you may remember, all the horrible weather California was having. That’s about the time Mr. Sands decided to go for a hike. Might have been done by simple exposure.

    The pancakes and eggs were very tasty, this morning. Hot dogs are on tap, for this evening. Review to follow. The book on hot dogs, is on my hold list. So, I won’t be seeing it, til long after the hot dog feast. Probably, a good thing.

    I’ve read that Mt. Rainier is pretty much just a pile of rocks, held together by ice. Which is on the melt. Here’s an interesting article.


    The east part of our county, might have problems. But here in the twin cities, we’re well out of the way.

    I watched a lot of trailers, last night, of stuff coming out over the next year. A rather uninspiring lot. Though “Meg” got a lot of play. Another Godzilla vs Kong movie. Some odd little Indies and rom-coms. The new Indiana Jones movie. But there are two, you might want to check out, that have to do with business and finance. “Dumb Money,” which is about the whole GameStop, Wall Street fiasco. Where the little guys managed to manipulate the market and stick it to the Big Guys. Then there’s “The Beanie Bubble.” It’s about the collectible Beanie Baby Bubble. But, as near as I can tell, it’s a cautionary tale for anyone “investing” in collectibles. And, maybe, bubbles in general.

    My throat is pretty good, but whatever I have has moved into my lungs. Not too bad, but I have the occasional coughing jag. It’s not the big C. Pandemic city. Though that stuff is still around.

    Well, just one darned thing after another, here at the Institution. You remember the Master Gardeners, cleaning out that bed? Well, all the dirt went in the dumpster, which could not be moved when they came to pick up, on Friday. I don’t know how that’s going to resolve itself. Our Night Manager managed to pull 35 gallons of dirt out, but it’s still too heavy to move. We have signs all over the place that request that people hold their garbage. Apparently, some think the request doesn’t apply to them.

    When I left this morning, water was spraying all over the patio furniture. From the hose connection at the building wall. One of the caregivers had decided the hose set up was not optimum, and fiddled with it.

    Our Night Manager, is leaving this afternoon, for a well deserved mini vacation. Won’t be back til Monday night. I don’t think we have any coverage. There is so much that could go wrong … Lew

  31. Hi Lewis,

    Most people treat cow poop as a waste product to be gotten rid of, so if a scheme involving cow poop seems too good to be true, it’s probably BS. I now rest my case and retire from the field with full honours. 🙂 Your comment was pretty funny too.

    What interests me about the whole story is that in Goran’s part of the world, cow poop is dare I say it, thin on the ground. But I mean that literally, there apparently isn’t much of it to be had. Who knew? One thing that I noted in historical accounts of small holdings, the animals were kept to provide a little bit of meat, keep the paddocks down, but mostly for their poop. I read an article about a Japanese farmer who has been using processed human poop for quite a while now, and with the recent increase in fertiliser prices, the facility which generates the human poop for fertiliser, discovered that demand now exceeds supply. What was really interesting was that the farmer provided a fun fact that he has to apply five times as much human poop material as the equivalent chemical and mineral additives. Yikes!

    As fertiliser prices soar, Japan returns to a cheap alternative made from human waste

    Those sort of skies here bring rains, mostly drawn from the oceans surrounding the continent. I guess you have some very large mountain ranges which would alter how the winds move across your continent.

    Yes, mead hall, may in fact be a tardis of sorts. DJ has already intimated something, something, Valhalla, although I have no idea what he’s going on about, maybe. 🙂

    Did the powers suggest exactly what crime the cameras intend to halt? Hopefully it is not the epidemic of jaywalkers. And let’s face it, they’ve always been something of a problem. However, problems can get converted to solutions with fines.

    A good friend of mine for some reason got the idea in his head that work was somehow meant to be fulfilling. That thought always confused me, but recently he may have been cured, and has appeared to lower his expectations. I’ve heard other people say the same thing, and honestly have no idea what they’re talking about. It’s a job, you turn up, do what you do as well as you can, then you go home, just like those actors you referred to.

    Mate, I have the same issue, it’s really hard to determine just how many people enjoy reading. I’m of the opinion that literacy rates will eventually return to the historical mean. You should see some of the communications I have to interpret. Exactly though, all you can ever do is provide the opportunity, and if nobody takes it up, well, that’s life for you.

    At every decline in the quantity of energy per capita, more people need to get involved in agriculture – at all levels. If that doesn’t happen, or is blocked from happening (which is very likely), then people will go hungry. At the moment, too few, do too much, for many who are oblivious to the risk. It’s not my circus though.

    A bit of rough back of the envelope maths suggests that 330,000 sounds like a lot, until you comprehend the total arable acres in your country. It’s a tiny fraction. However, overall it is nudging close to 1 acre per person, and this is not a good metric given the expectations of the dietary requirements of the average person on the street in your country. It’s pretty risky, but again not my circus.

    Yeah, that’s something of a problem down here too. Somehow the land of stuff managed to get a lease on the port of Darwin which is next to, ta-da, a US base. Like, what sort of story is that? Bonkers.

    I haven’t come across any of those periodicals either, and they kind of sound to me like a sort of indoctrination into ra-ra-Empire! When I was a kid, I recall standing at attention in primary school and singing ‘God Save the Queen’. We could have stood some saving during WWII when the Japanese were bombing the northern part of the country, and that’s where you guys stepped in.

    The weather sounded filthy when the actor bloke decided to head off on a gentle hike. The best laid plans often come unstuck due to unforeseen little difficulties. And I agree exposure is a quick killer.

    Yum! And I too would have enjoyed the pancakes and eggs. How did the hot dogs go? Ha! I’d imagine the cooks might not appreciate your learned inputs?

    Oh my! Best be elsewhere when one of those rivers of mud and rock flow from Mount Rainier.

    The Meg sequel looked like fun. I dunno why Godzilla and Kong would be upset with each other – what if they turned on the pesky humans? Always a problem. I still can’t think of Kong without recalling the Mad magazine version of the film. Warped minds and stuff. 🙂 Takes one to know one, I reckon!!!

    It’s getting to be background now, just part of the local flora and fauna we move in.

    I’m pretty sure the master gardeners will hear about that. Out of curiosity, why didn’t they attempt to fix up the soil? Was it toxic or something like that?

    Didn’t you once tell me that people sometimes always have a better idea, even when it’s just an idea – like that new hose arrangement?

    Fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong, but just in case – have an exit strategy! Good luck.

    Cheers, and better get writing!


  32. Chris:

    Thanks for the thoughts and for letting me know about the comment gobbler.


  33. Yo, Chris – Actually, the whole methane digester thing, to generate energy has been around since the “back to the land” movement, in the 1970s. And has been successfully used in several places. Sometimes, it’s as simple as running pipes through a hot compost pile, for hot water.

    That was an interesting story, about using human poop, for fertilizer. Two things jumped out at me. “…everyone pursuing profit.” If you can’t make money off it, it won’t happen. The same problem with recycling, lately. The other thing was “…impressions people have … might not be good.” I guess my thought here is, when did it not become good, and why? I mean, if you scratch agricultural history, for a long time, it was the norm.

    Another thought I had is, recently, I read an article, somewhere, about how Asian people are a little shocked by how much raw, uncooked foods Westerners eat. Because even if they didn’t know about germ theory, in the past, somehow they made the connection that well cooked foods were less likely to make you sick. Especially from fields that used humanure.

    So, what kind of crimes? Oh, snatch and grab. General mayhem. Graffiti. Plane old garden variety vandalism. There’s some kind of new license plate recognition software, that identifies stolen vehicles.

    Re: work. Was that friend of yours, young? 🙂

    So, the hot dogs. I’ll probably hear today, how much money was raised. But I think there were fewer potential people around, due to it being a holiday weekend. Well, at first it looked like it might be a fiasco, as, the two young ladies who were supposed to set it up were a no show. But, victory snatched from the jaws of defeat. Turns out the counter volunteer was DeeDee, who’s been around almost as long as I have. And, who had worked in and owned several restaurants and a food truck. So, she mucked in, and there were several other helping hand, about.

    First off, I’ve got to say, that the quality of the meat was nothing to write home about. I mean, it was the standard American frank, the weenie, that isn’t even dignified with a name, like Knockwurst. As far as condiments go, there was mustard, catsup, mayo, chopped onions (raw or fried), chili and sauerkraut. Next time around, there will be relish and grated cheese. She also made some “Seattle dogs,” which it seems everyone but me, were familiar with. Bun, dog, cream cheese and fried onions. Those were a bit more expensive, value added and all.

    Me, I had two. Bun, frank, chili, fried onions. Mustard on one, catsup on the other. Even though the quality of the meat was low, they were quit tasty.

    I don’t know what the Master Gardeners were thinking. Or not thinking. But the soil was removed from the bed, as it was pretty played out, and hopelessly weedy. Seems like someone worked on fixing the dumpster situation, but was the load lightened, enough? Time will tell.

    I started watching a mini-series, last night, called “The Lizzie Borden Chronicles.” I don’t know if you’re familiar with that bit of American pop culture … and true crime. Way back in the early 1900s, someone whacked Lizzie’s father and step-mother with an ax. She went to trial, and got off. This series is a total fantasy, on what her life was like, later. But, I went down the rabbit hole and came across something interesting. A book called “Lizzie Borden: Zombie Hunter.” 🙂 Not connected to the series, in any way. The premise is, she whacked them as they were zombies, and she was trying to stem an outbreak.

    My zucchini seed has begun to sprout. One green, and one yellow. Lew

  34. @ Lew – the derecho on the 29th didn’t make it this far, but we did get clouds and a cooling breeze from it, which I for one appreciated. But yesterday, the 1st, a severe thunderstorm rolled through that brought down tree limbs nearby (though not on this property). It also brought down an electrical line, because we were without electricity for about 5 1/2 hours. And it brought cooler temperatures and much-needed rain.

    @ Chris: those who have paid-for houses get billed directly by the governmental agency that assesses the property tax (for us, the county). We obtain house insurance from whatever company is willing to sell it to us, assuming we can afford it. So far Mike and I can, but it keeps going up.


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