Lazy Eye

Back in 2006, an 1890’s brick Victorian era workers cottage sheltered us from the rain. A few years earlier, the house had been a brick shell with a single mains power point. There was one tap over the kitchen sink delivering questionable looking water. Organising hot water was a priority, but then so was replacing the timber floors, because they’d rotted through and you could see the dirt. It’s a highly desirable area now, but back then, things were a bit more chill.

The big smoke was four kilometres (2.5 miles) away. Weekday work was a very senior role, which had it’s advantages, like the pay. The job itself wasn’t much fun, kind of stressful actually, but it was close enough to home. The walk to the big smoke was about an hour each way. An hour walking and you’d be at the building, step into the elevator, and be ejected out onto the eleventh floor. What new and difficult situation would fate have in store for me that day? Always an exciting prospect to ponder.

On the other hand, the walk was quite pleasant, and a soothing balm for the nerves. In winter I’d wear my long black coat whilst walking. Back and forth it would swish with authority, just like Darth Vader in that scene from Star Wars. He seemed like a competent bloke who had his fair share of problems, like Empire bankrupting Death Stars that were just a little bit too easy to destroy. That’s a typical work day for you when you’re at the top of your game!

The walk was soothing. And once out of the city, I’d take the back streets and enjoy the sights of rows upon rows of Victorian era workers cottages. Quite charming really, probably now under threat from folks who want to build apartments. The radio provided a solid soundtrack via the national youth music broadcaster.

Work required long hours, and somehow after work I managed to find time to take Sandra out for dinner, catch up with friends, work on the house, or study. There was no time for television. But the walk time home, was my time to spend alone in my head with my thoughts. The tunes accompanied that time, plus an authoritative swishing of the coat, when weather appropriate.

At that time of the early evening, the radio station used to run a listener request program. Each weeknight a listener could program three songs and provide a short story as to the choices, which would get transmitted to listeners across the country. I was a bloke who didn’t mind a challenge, and hoped I could spin a good enough yarn about a couple of song choices. But telephoning the radio station was almost impossible. Apparently, pre-interweb, they used to get people calling up the station all the time asking: Do you know the name of the song that goes something like da-da-da-da-da-ta-da-da-da? Certainly taking those calls would have been something of a personal nightmare.

Being the crafty and resourceful bloke I am, I thought I’d take an entirely different approach to getting my requests played. You see, some Tuesday nights, they’d have a ‘pet request’, but you were still posed with the difficulty getting onto their super busy phone line. Talk about impossible! But on the other hand, I did have pets.

In those days, Old Fluffy was the boss dog, and she was very photogenic. In her salad days, people would stop me in the street and ask to take her photo. In her latter years things may have changed, although I don’t believe so. I recall a strange lady in the park providing me with unsolicited advice: Your dog is fat. It was a bit of a harsh judgement, and to protect Old Fluffy’s honour, I replied: That’s just a lot of fur, to which the lady doubled down on her opinion. You can judge for yourselves, and I may have told the lady to: Get lost!

Old Fluffy was a very beautiful dog, despite what the strange lady in the park claimed

Back to the cunning plan to get my three songs of choice on the radio. So Old Fluffy posed for the above photo. The photo was printed out on good quality paper in full colour. So far, so good. Then with a sharpie I drew a big cartoon style talking bubble and added in the words in large writing: Love your work, Rosie! Rosie being the name of the DJ. On the back I wrote out a short story (from the dog, but with my contact details) and listed the three songs. Then because you could never get through on the phone line, I sent the picture in the mail to the radio station addressed to the DJ. And being super busy and under pressure all the time, that was the last I thought about the matter.

Fast forward a few weeks, or maybe even a month or two later. I’d had a very long and complicated work day. The day ended late, and I was pooped out. My team had long since gone, and the sun was setting and the evening was getting darker. I’d packed up my stuff and was looking forward to the walk home. The door to the office was locked, and just then my phone began ringing. Pet song requests were the last thing on my mind that day, and I may have even thought: What the f!@# could they want now?

And I turned away. The elevator took me down to the street, and I began walking. Home was where I wanted to be, so that is where I went. Yet on the way home, I got to listen to the DJ announcing Old Fluffy’s pet request. Turns out the phone call was the radio station calling me, and those were the days before mobile phones were as common as they are today. Missed that one, as I would have enjoyed recounting the short story live on air, but at least Old Fluffy got her three songs. She would have enjoyed them too. Lazy Eye by the Silversun Pickups being one of the songs, always got Old Fluffy up and jumping around.

Turns out I didn’t much like the person I’d become when working at the top end of town. I am the guy who enjoys sending in pet song requests to radio stations. Or writes even funnier articles on bubbles and water for the hippy press. Turns out, that’s who I am. And it brings joy to me, and I hope it brings joy to you too. We’ve lived here for thirteen years to the day now, and that’s longer than I’ve lived anywhere else. Nothing else fit.

The week has produced mostly cool weather. Occasionally it drizzled, but when the sun shone it was superb. One day we watched a storm out of the west run along the freeway and almost completely miss us.

A storm runs west to east and misses us entirely

The remainder of the huge boulder we began attacking last week was broken into fourteen smaller (yet still large) rocks. The rocks were all hauled back up the hill in the power wheelbarrow.

Fourteen large rocks were hauled back up the hill

There’s nothing left now where the rock used to be, other than rock dust.

All that is left of the once large boulder, is rock dust

When you’re splitting apart a large boulder into many smaller rocks, there is a bit of science to the work, but also a lot of art. Getting the sizes exactly what you want is not always easy to achieve. Three of the rocks ended up being a bit thinner than what we were after, but all rocks have a use. And the thin rocks get used on the uphill rock wall in the new low gradient path project.

Three large and thinner rocks were placed on the uphill side rock wall

One rock wall on downhill side of the path project, is now complete. And we’ve begun work on the adjacent downhill rock wall where the path exits into the orchard.

The low gradient path exits into the orchard

There is still a lot of work to go on this low gradient path, but now standing at the beginning of the path, you can see the complete curve of the rock wall and exit into the orchard.

The full curve of the new low gradient path can now be seen

Observant readers will note that the tree fern on the up hill side of the path now has chicken wire protecting the developing fronds. We believe that a bird (Sulphur Crested Cockatoo) broke all of the original fronds, then began eating the pith. The pith is apparently edible, but is meant to be quite bitter. The chicken wire put an end to that mischief. We do have a lot of bird life here at the farm.

A King Parrot in a plum tree

The King Parrots are very attractive birds. The one in the above photo is consuming the blossoms on the plum tree. For some reason, those birds also love eating the geraniums. I don’t know any other critter which will eat geraniums.

A King Parrot in amongst the geraniums

The extra spring warmth has zinged up the plants in the greenhouse. I’m waiting eagerly to see what the Babaco fruit taste like when they eventually ripen. We’ve tasted them once when travelling in the northern sub tropical part of the continent, but who knows what they’ll be like in this cooler more southerly location?

The Babaco is enjoying the extra warmth spring is providing

Berries grow well in this mountainous location, and alpine strawberries are proving their worth by producing berries when no other plant does.

Alpine strawberries are small and tasty

Onto the flowers:

Daffodils have spread everywhere!
Succulents are very colourful
Echiums with a few fruit trees in the background
The blossoming Pear trees surround the chicken enclosure

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 20’C (68’F). So far this year there has been 649.8mm (25.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 647.8mm (25.5 inches)

31 thoughts on “Lazy Eye”

  1. Yo, Chris – Not exactly anyone’s idea of a honeymoon cottage, but (young) love is blind. 🙂

    That dog is so cute, he looks artificial. Are you sure that isn’t one of those Japanese automatronic dogs? But I don’t know. Pimping out your dog, just to get your requests on the airwaves? Low, man, low. 🙂 So we don’t get the story Old Fluffy wrote, and you sent to the station? Was it signed with a doggy footprint? Indicating real authenticity.

    Stonework? You want stonework? Tomorrow, I’ll link to an article I found with some really good pictures of the stonework at the Island of Skellig Michael. Your path is more and more evocative of the Beatle’s “Long and Winding Road.” Lovely path. Lovely song.

    Speaking of all things parrot, I saw this article, today. An Australian bird, but I don’t think they get as far south, as you are.

    Has anyone broken the news to Ringo, that he’s got some serious competition?

    The Daffodils are lovely. We won’t see the like, for months. You know, there are mini Daffodils. Maybe you could find a few bulbs, and chuck them in, here and there. If you don’t already have some. Round out the Fernglade Farm Daffodil collection.

    I hope your chickens are enjoying the view. Might inspire them to lay more eggs. Lew

  2. Hi
    I’ve followed your blog for how many years I don’t remember – good fun to read.
    Your stonework brought to mind the incan temples, european cathedrals, all the thousands upon thousands stone buildings that people have built with simple tools… probably somewhat softer stone that your granite…

    As we here in northern parts of globe are moving towards winter it is nice to read of your spring, dogs, birds, flowers. Thank you.

  3. Greetings Seppo,

    And welcome to the discussion.

    Thanks, and it has been a lot of fun, hasn’t it? 🙂 Almost a decade of weekly writing now, and hope nobody goes back and reads the early stuff.

    Stone construction of any sort has a real sense of solidity to it, don’t you reckon? And those are all great examples of the art form. How did they construct them – slowly! 😉 In the big smoke of Melbourne, there are many examples of Victorian era public buildings made from granite, although they use the slightly softer bluestones (a very similar, but not exactly the same as, stone used in Stonehenge). The buildings show little wear, despite being exposed to the rain and sun for over a century and a half.

    My pleasure, and I do hope that your northern winter is a mild one. We might be in for a hot summer here, but I’ve experienced those before.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Very funny, I’d never quite thought of the brick shell as a honeymoon cottage, but yeah, why not? 🙂 I dunno man, we gave up restoring older houses when the property was not priced correctly so as to reflect the hard work required to bring the buildings back to life. It was a bit annoying that the ‘potential’ got factored in to sale price for say, brick shells which were otherwise unliveable. Suggesting that money perhaps not being worth what it once was. Spare a moments thought for the older lady who was living in the brick shell of a house prior to us taking possession of the thing. All the kids wanted was the money, and they shunted the older lady off to a home. Clearly dementia had been a factor. It was quite disturbing to witness the greed, and be a minor part of that story. Candidly I wasn’t entirely certain that prior to the day of contract settlement, that the kids had actually organised more appropriate housing for their mother. The house was to put it mildly, filthy. But structurally it was good (as in walls and roof) and we just sort of camped out in there for months whilst we got it remotely liveable at night and on weekends and the whole job took maybe eight years – like renovating a mansion, but on a much smaller budget! There were a lot of things to fix, and many things where you’d ask the hard question: Why did they do that? But by 2008, the area had become very pretentious, and that wasn’t our scene. We headed bush and did something different instead. There’s always some opportunity and wiggle room, but usually it involves overalls and looks like hard work. 🙂

    Well yeah, it wasn’t just you wondering about the artificial nature of that dog. She was a very clean dog and I recall that she smelled like a polyester stuffed toy. I’m not mucking around there. Douglas Adams joke about sending such things down to conduct subtle experiments on us humans, kind of had the ring of truth to it with that dog. Nothing wrong with pimping your dog, such things happen! 🙂 The dogs was a chic magnet, except for that strange lady in the park. It’s funny you mention the dog signature, but yes I did draw a dog paw print. Gotta go the whole hog. Sadly the memory of the story is now lost to time, but there wasn’t much space on the back of the A4 sheet of paper, so it would have been a short and punchy story. Even now, I hear Inge telling me: “Concision!”, and probably will to my final breath. It’s good advice.

    I look forward to reading about how the monks lined up the windows as a form of stone calendar. People think the ancients were stupid, but I vehemently disagree. It is a beautiful song, and I can now hear it in my mind.

    Thanks for the article on the cockatoos, and that variety doesn’t make it this far south. It doesn’t surprise me that they use tools. However, some of the ones here live for eighty years. They recall being fed too, so best not to start such practices with the birds. Yes, Ringo may be in for some stiff competition there.

    In one of the smaller towns to the south of here, there used to be a Daffodil farm. I got to purchase many bulbs off the old bloke for a couple of years prior to the business shutting down, well at least I believe it has done so. He had quite the collection of bulbs too, but was notably hard of hearing, and so I’d kind of have to shout at him, but it was all quite friendly.

    Yeah, those are the sort of articles (and concerned opinions) I’ve been receiving recently. Mate, they’re coming thick and fast I can tell you that. At this stage of the season, yes it is warm, but then we’ve had three cold and wet growing seasons, so I’m having trouble remembering what a warm season is even like. As to the rain, we’ll see how it goes. We’re conserving our water now, but the soil contains a lot of moisture. It’s not like this hot year is coming on the back of three drought years, but again I don’t know and will just see how things go on that front.

    Sounds like a good series, but I’m just not sure my brain is up for taking in all that south west US wildfire excitement. They don’t use convict crews here. Far out. But who knows, the authoritas are having troubles getting volunteers to do the work. Of course, it is an unpaid job from my perspective. In the earlier days of volunteering there used to be some allowance to get some social time with the other volunteers, but yeah bureauafats and their dictats etc… 😉 They kind of stymied the whole reason for volunteering in the first place.

    Oh that is true about the scorched earth policies going both ways. Who can forget the English dumping salt onto fields. That’s a harsh policy.

    Hehe! The video game was enormously popular. Ultima (series). Still big in Japan, apparently. Development went on for decades. The dude who did the original programming is an interesting person and has lead an eventful life.

    Oh yeah, bone meal would have calcium, so no worries there. I add both because the soils here are just so poor in phosphates, and bone meal is a good source of the mineral. And basically the soils here are rather on the acidic side of things. One thing I reckon the regular burns the indigenous folks used to do was to increase the pH of the soil. That would have had quite the impact right across the continent.

    And speaking of the dry! I just took the dogs out to perform their ablutions, and it’s drizzling.

    How did you go with the winds? Hope the corn and sunflowers were/are OK? It was another very pleasant and sunny day today, although the clouds rolled in as the afternoon wore on. Decided to have a quiet day today just pottering around. Our friends of the big shed fame visited for lunch yesterday, and we’d done a lot of preparation beforehand – which we were happy to do, we just had to do the work. It was a lovely lunch and catch up.

    Brush cut around the citrus trees today because they don’t really like the competition from the grass. It was nice to enjoy a slower paced day.

    There are always suspects. 🙂 It happens.

    Honestly, given what you were describing of the dudes health, it probably isn’t a bad idea he sought some assistance. Fingers crossed he pulls through OK, and that if needed the Club manages a smooth transition. He may pull out of the role for health related reasons anyway?

    Did H finally get her biscuits and gravy? I’m so with you. Horseradish sauce isn’t hot enough unless you feel your sinuses burning.



  5. We are going on ten years here at our homestead.

    I was a naive farm kid, then eager young engineer, who enjoyed being part of a company that built complicated and interesting structures.

    That changed. Over time I realized I was part of the problem, as we built for the oil companies. I got off the management track, ( wasn’t really suited for it anyway) and set roots in the cubicle farm the last decade of my employment. I used headphones and music to smooth out the day, but found rock, or any song with lyrics too distracting, so got in to electronica, world music, instrumental jazz, some classical. Worked for me.

    It took a long time to get extricated, but now I am/we are where we should be.

    You don’t mention, but I assume this was the era of the Sony Walkman that gave you tunes on your walks?

    Hazelnut harvest is done now, a heavy crop in a drought year. All picked by hand, and there was so much, we left ~20% ungathered.

    Anyway, they are all drying in the barn, and we’ll be getting them dehusked soon.

    I don’t understand all the patterns in nature by along shot. It does hint that perennial foods are more resilient than the annual veg we plant. Our garden was not a pretty sight this year. Redundancy and multiple options are good things.

    Fluffy was indeed cute.

  6. Yo, Chris – “Property was not priced correctly.” You sound like Elinor’s son-in-law at the auction. 🙂 “People were spending too much money.” Translation: I was outbid. Oh, well. It was the nudge you needed to get you out of the city. And, if I can make an observation, the Editor and you were part of the gentrifying process, going on in that area. You’d probably be priced out, by now, due to rising property taxes and insurance.

    I had a cat, decades ago, that I think was landed here from outer space. She didn’t purr or meow. She made strange mechanical whirring noises. And, by the way, just so you can stay hip and with it, UFOs (Unidentified Flying Objects) have now been rebranded as UAPs (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon.) There were little green men, all over the place, this last weekend. Our local historic society had a big UAP convention. Why was the historic society putting something like that on? Probably because one of the first UFO sightings, that really caught the public’s imagination, happened near here. See: Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting. Happened in 1947. The historic society also put on a yearly Big Foot convention. Anything to get bodies through the door.

    Putting off the monk’s rock work, as, another far more interesting topic popped up. 🙂 Let’s talk about fecal contamination …

    The article cleared up some mysteries, for me. I’m pretty sure now, that when I was so sick after Thanksgiving, it was noro virus. And I bet I know how I got it. I didn’t know that hand sanitizer, wouldn’t kill that variety of cooties. I never got the memo. When I use the bathroom at the Club, I’d always rub my hands down with hand sanitizer. They’re got bottles of the stuff, all over the place. In future, I’ll stop by the sink, next to the food pantry, and use the soap. By the way, the Pacific Crest Trail runs through the eastern part of our county.

    I watched some more of “Fire Country,” last night. If the series is based anything like on reality, the convicts they use in California are mostly “low level” offenders. They can get time knocked off their sentences, if they are successful in the firefighting program. They do get paid a small daily wage. Very small.

    It was also a popcorn night. Re-watched Tim Burton / Johnny Depp’s “Dark Shadows.” A real hoot, and it held up pretty well. I wonder if there are action figures …

    Scorched earth policy. See: our Civil War, “Sherman’s March to the Sea.” There are people in our South, who are still miffed about that.

    Prof. Mass has a post, this morning, about our weather. There’s a HUGE storm, parked off our coast, and we’re getting some of it. The wind is beginning to rise. For the next 24-48 hours, we’ll have wind and rain. After that, more rain, but not quit as much wind. Wind gusts to 35 mph. Everything in the garden, that is nailed down, is still nailed down.

    Ah! Visitors. That explains all the spring cleaning. 🙂

    Yes, we got our biscuits and gravy, yesterday. And tasty, they were. When we’ve had club manager vacancies, before, someone has always stepped up. Usually, someone unexpected, who does a fine job. Still, it’s a fraught time. Might not happen. And that would be that. Lew

  7. Chris,

    There are still some fires north of us, I think in Canada. At least whenever a system moves in from the north, we get some smoke with it. The current wave of storm after storm system, however, is supposed to totally clear the air. Rain forecast off and on through at least Thursday.

    Lunch with Killian’s human was excellent. Twas at a little hole in the wall Asian cuisine restaurant.

    -34C? Fairbanks, Alaska. That was the coldest it got when I was there. It has gotten almost that cold here, also. -33C If I remember correctly. The television people described it as “unseasonably cold”. It was the middle of winter. Isn’t that the season for cold temperatures? Would they have suggested that it was “seasonably cold” if it had been summer? 😉

    Naw, being a judge’s assistant comes with no judging responsibilities other than keeping the judge on task. The assistant is NOT allowed to help the judge with the actual judging, just to do the paperwork. However, the longer I’ve been assisting, the more the judges have explained their reasoning to me. Hence the learning. And it IS applicable to my burning and carving.

    The levels in ascending order: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert. Moving from Novice to Intermediate isn’t hideous, nor is moving from Intermediate to Advanced. The criteria for the artwork is MUCH more rigorous at Advanced, so moving up to Expert is very difficult. I am nowhere close to advancing to Expert. As long as I’m enjoying what I’m doing, I’m happy not being an Expert.

    Also, there are multiple categories of carving. These include realistic animals, realistic humans, caricature humans, birds, relief carving, and “special” -special includes things like spoons, walking sticks, chip carving and woodburning. If a carver succeeds in becoming Expert in at least 3 categories, then the artist is considered to be a Master Carver.

    “Do you know the name of the song that goes something like da-da-da-da-da-ta-da-da-da?” Hahahaha! The local radio DJs occasionally asked that their listeners stop requesting that particular song. 😉

    Nice photo of Old Fluffy. She doesn’t look fat to me! I had somebody suggest that Avalanche was fat during her first winter. Late in the winter. She was starting to shed her thick undercoat, so I grabbed a chunk of loose fur and held it out to the ignoramus and said, “Here, have a piece of dog fat!” That worked.

    But that was a great idea for getting your requested songs played. Brilliant! And it even worked.

    Rock dust. You have rock dust. Otherwise known as “dirt seeds”. As long as you keep breaking up rocks and creating rock dust/dirt seeds, you are in no danger of hitting peak soil. 😉

    I like how you used those thinner large rocks. Great idea and perfect placement. The path projects are coming along well. Erm, did I detect some grass or something growing in the paths in that photo that included the chicken wire and fern?

    With the big weather change, the birds are now gorging on whatever they can find. This means that the flock of starlings fly from tree to tree eating berries and fruit. Meanwhile, most of the crabapples have fallen from the crabapple tree due to recent windy conditions. Each crabapple that hits the ground gets Avalanche’s attention, so she goes to sniff and investigate. More crabapples fall, more investigation ensues. Yes, sometimes the falling fruit hits the fluffy’s fur.

    A neighbor gave me 2 zucchini. One was of a nice size and was tasty. The other one is as big as my thigh. Huge zucchini. I diced some of it and added it to some bread I baked. I’ll do that again, then dehydrate the remainder.


  8. Hi Steve,

    A decade is a good amount of time don’t you reckon? You begin to see the cycles both small and large, and also avoid making some of the mistakes we all made in the earlier years. Of course there are always the new and interesting mistakes we’d never gotten around to experiencing which are lurking in wait! 🙂 But yeah, you kind of hit your stride after that many years of experience. There’s no course that can prepare you for what you have to know.

    Respect to the engineers, they get things done. I’ve worked with plenty of engineers over the years, and they’ve mostly struck me as pragmatic and practical folks.

    I hear you about that, and there is always the push to get people into management roles mostly because there is a shortage of people who want to do those roles, and they burnt the people out who do so. The funny thing about those roles is that you end up being the meat in the proverbial sandwich caught between the board and the folks who get stuff done. I tend to believe that outcome is deliberate, and like you, walked away whilst the going was good.

    Nice choices of music. 🙂

    Hey, that’s a great point too. It really is hard to extricate oneself from the ties that bind in those circumstances. It takes a strong will to do so. And I faced down a lot of fear from the people I knew. You may have also had to face that reaction?

    Hehe! There’s a blast from the past man! 🙂 No, I don’t believe that it was a walkman because I didn’t want the tape player. Not that I didn’t respect those machines. They were a game changer of a machine. From memory the thing was a very high quality small FM stereo radio, but that was all that it did.

    Your local wildlife will appreciate the 20% of the produce left over, or at least the soil critters will. We tend to leave a portion of the produce for the wildlife too. I reckon the parrots and currawongs enjoyed about half of the kiwi fruit crop. Plus they’ll turn your produce back into soil food.

    At least the summer is now over for you with no huge problems like say, wildfires or tornadoes. Hey, the same is true during cold and wet growing seasons. I agree, there is no substitute for a diverse range of plants with which to harvest from. Fingers crossed we may get an apricot crop this year.

    Old Fluffy was a great dog. She doesn’t look it, but she was a proper no mucking around boss dog. Her one nemesis was the crunchy beagle, whom I wrote about many years ago.



  9. Hi DJ,

    Some of those areas in Canada, have maximum rainfall records which I’d consider to be total drought years here – and would be in a massive panic. I get the impression that it is because that part of the continent north of you is mostly cool (until it isn’t), that it even has the vegetative cover and water resources that it does have. In some ways, where you are, the climate is a bit less deceptive. From my reading about that area north of you, it seems a bit fragile. Hope the fires up there are finally put out by the storms. Down here, not much else can put out large fires like a good storm.

    Here, the next week of weather again looks superb. In another week though, the heavens may open and it will rain, a lot. We’ll see what happens and the forecast may get more accurate as we get closer to the day.

    Your lunch sounds intriguingly good, and sometimes the wise person knows just where to go.

    Oh my! DJ, that is so cold and beyond my comprehension. It’s 18’C in the house tonight and 7’C outside (we didn’t see the need to run the wood heater), and I just don’t understand how people could live so far north and endure such cold temperatures as up there. Well, folks reporting on the weather have been known to employ a touch of hyperbole from time to time. Mate, the continual dire news on our upcoming summer is beginning to annoy me. When we get to dire weather, I’ll worry, but before then we just continue on preparing as best we can. Worry is the mind killer.

    Hey, would you dare judge the judges by noting: This one is easily distracted! It is funny, but probably not respectful, so best not to do. They’re teaching you for sure. That’s what it sounds like to me. They may expect you to take over the one of the roles sooner or later.

    I believe that you have hit upon an important point there. To take oneself to expert level, does come at the cost of some of the enjoyment of the hobby. This is true of many other areas of life as well, and both you and I have discussed that matter in relation to work over the years. Hmm. I must ponder this subject further. What do you reckon?

    Dude, it’s funny, but it’s also serious. They really did get people ringing up all the time with those sorts of stupid questions. I can sort of understand now why they give the time, artist name and song name over the interweb or smart phone app. Now all they have to do is put up with the noxious unfiltered text line. True story, the thing must be a nightmare. Here is a small sample of some of the rubbish they have to experience. Some of it is quite amusing and for correctness, they’ve used the spelling as received: If you’ve ever wondered what the triple j textline looks like. What ever do people fill their minds with all day? 🙂

    Avalanche is an over weight dog, like Old Fluffy was over weight. There is a lot of fur with a dog which has a double coat. People can be very antagonistic, for no good reason.

    Rock dust is good! Good is rock dust! Ugg! Crush stones we must, like enemies who suggest dog is fat. Crush them all!

    Thanks! And there is a use for any rock which we can move here. They all get graded according to size and shape. Mate, I’m starting to sound like those Scott and Helen Nearing folks with all the work they put into rocks. I reckon they were onto something, at least with that aspect of their lives. Having all the people around that they did all of the time, would send me loopy. Ugg! Where did that last ugg come from? 😉

    Borage is growing in the paths. You have to remove every single chunk of the root, otherwise it will grow back. Those plants have to be dug up and removed. A job for another day.

    Do some of the birds over winter in your part of the world? I get the impression that they’re loading up for the big journey southwards.

    You’ve got good neighbours. I’ve never dehydrated zucchini before. Is it OK dried? It keeps here in a cool and dark place (like a cupboard which stays cool during the winter months) and will last until at least early spring.



  10. Hi Lewis,

    When you put the complaint about real estate prices that way, it does kind of sound peevish. But it ain’t! 😉 It’s just that a dollar isn’t worth what it once was, and may not remain the same value in the future.

    I’d be honest about being out-bid at an auction. Incidentally, at the auction for the brick shell of a house, just one other bidder pushed the price up a final extra 10% over the previous bid. That was an expensive and stressful couple of minutes. It came down to just us and him, and to put an end to it all, we had to give a ‘go away, we’re serious’ bid before the place was sold to us. They do put plants into the auction crowd, but even so, there’s no good in selling a property to a dummy bidder. And to have to grab you out of the crowd as the second highest bidder, is asking for trouble.

    You’re right too, it was a nudge to get out of the city. That’s not where we belonged anyway, the people living around us felt they were better than us, and were happy to display that. That sense of spiritual and social pride they all had was not earned, and most certainly not deserved, but I tell you, it was not for me to correct their thinking.

    That cycle of high income, large expenses and property taxes is having some very dysfunctional outcomes. I’d have to suggest that geographical areas are also stratifying socially due to the impacts of economics, and that is a problem. The sort of people who demand services, are also not the same people who can provide services. And if they’re spread too far apart, the arrangement eventually becomes uneconomic. I’m sure someone must have studied this? I read recently about a holiday town over on the far east coast of this state. It’s full of holiday makers and retirees, and I was reading the other day that they only have six volunteers in their local fire brigade. That’s a problem. People want to live in bubbles and not want to have to encounter those who they see as lesser folk.

    The interesting thing about this mountain range is that historically, it was the very wealthy who employed all of the locals. The shops and other businesses catered to all of those people, with a small number of tourists. Yet everyone somehow seemed to manage to live in a small geographical area despite the discrepancies in wealth. Hmm.

    I have doubts that the people moving into those el-swisho city areas, have the necessary skills and will to maintain the areas. Earlier today I was observing a run of retail shops in such an area, and only a few cater to the needs of the locals. It looked shabby to me, and I wondered about that, because it was the first time that I noticed the effect. I guess things move in cycles? What do you think about that?

    Oh yes, that cat was most certainly placed by aliens so as to observe you and conduct random experiments. Like err, occasionally tripping you up. 🙂 The strange mechanical noises coming from the robo-cat, sorry happy feline, was all part of the clever ploy. Be grateful your cat didn’t mutate. That can happen! 😉

    What was wrong with the acronym UFO that it had to be rebranded? Is there a conspiracy theory relating to this rebranding? Hey, if your gobermont does a shut down, then you probably might go back to plain old UFO’s, and forget about newfangled UAP’s. Budget and funding cuts will hurt the project for sure. 😉

    Kenneth seemed like a serious person. It was probably your military testing out jet aircraft, it’s not like they can’t fly at such speeds. I’m pretty sure you guys had a Douglas D-558-2 Skyrocket in those days which could fly that fast, and kind of fitted the bill looks wise. You guys have made some mad aircraft over the years like that X-15 beast. A bonkers machine. No wonder people think of UFO’s.

    Thanks for the norovirus article. I read it during breakfast, and kind of felt unwell as a result. 🙂 I’ve had illnesses which produced that result. Ugly memories there. That book and film would have increased the popularity of the walk. People who walk 2,600 miles are probably not the sort who are seeking the company of their fellow humans. They do it for other reasons, but probably shouldn’t be walking if they are that unwell.

    Hey, I hadn’t known that about hand sanitiser either, and that in that instance soap was more effective. Could be useful that information. And yes, I recall, you were very ill then.

    Ah, I see they volunteer and get to spend some time in the great outdoors, whilst reducing their sentences. What’s not to like about that arrangement?

    People are still annoyed by the potatoes too. If I wanted I’m sure I could dig up misery about the enclosure act. An indigenous politician was speaking about just this sort of thing this morning: Leading No campaigner Nyunggai Warren Mundine addresses National Press Club.

    I’ll read the good professors essay next! Thanks, and hope the beast stays off shore.

    Yes, I don’t tend to announce my plans on the interweb, on the off chance they don’t happen. It was a lovely visit too. They’re really good people to know, and their farm is amazing.

    Good to hear that the biscuits and gravy went ahead. You’re in the lap of the gods there. Good luck, something will happen.



  11. Yo, Chris – Worry of the day. Or, maybe we’ll give it a week 🙂

    A shill. “A person who poses as a customer in order to decoy others into participating, as at a gambling house, auction, confidence game, etc. 2. a person who publicizes or praises something or someone for reasons of self-interest, personal profit, or friendship or loyalty. intransitive verb.” (Collins Dictionary.) They’re found in the wild, in a lot of places. It can be a lucrative career. 🙂

    What! You didn’t have outdoor Halloween decor, to make your neighbors jealous? Christmas lights that can be seen from outer space? I’ve seen a lot of articles, where holiday towns can’t get “the help.” As “the help” can’t find affordable living accommodations. The super wealthy, usually provide live in digs. The less super wealthy might have to turn a hand, rough it, at doing their own work. Make the occasional bed. Run through a load of laundry. The loss of status might be considerable. Tension between “summer people” and locals, had launched many a novel and movie. When I went from assistant director of a social work program (with my own secretary!) to working in a bar, I lost a lot of social status. Well, that was unexpected. But one finds out who one’s real friends are.

    My Idaho friend’s daughter, Cheyenne, is doing pretty good in the real estate trade. Though she’s just starting out. The feedback she gets from her clients, is that the other real estate dealers in town, are lazy, and won’t return phone calls. She also stated, “Some realtors refuse clients who won’t work electronically.” Several of Cheyenne’s clients are older, and can’t be bothered with all that electronic jazz. Also, she does a lot of the real estate work (signings, etc.) in person. My Idaho friend calls it “old school.” 🙂

    Which reminds me of something interesting. The third and final season of “Star Trek: Picard,” was really good. Got the old crew from “Next Generation” back together. The Borg have infiltrated all the shiny new starships, and control them to attack the earth. Picard, et all, ride to the rescue, using the old Enterprise – D, which they liberate from a space museum. It’s unaffected because … it’s analog. 🙂

    I didn’t pay much attention to why UFOs were rebranded. I figured whatever the reason, it was bound to be silly.

    Sorry I didn’t issue a trigger warning, about the norovirus article. Breakfast should be a safe space. 🙂

    That was an interesting article about your possible constitutional changes. We have the same dialogue, over here. Different players, same dialogue.

    Heads up! Dad’s home!!! Mr. Bill our Club manager, stopped by this morning, after 5 days in the hospital. Does not look well. Feels better though, but still bothered by chest congestion and anxiety. I’m preparing my head, for possible changes.

    As promised, here’s the article about Skellig Michael. Actually, it’s about an even more isolated hermitage. On another peak of the island, is an area for a single monk. Around page 35, they talk about a garden terrace. I wonder what was grown there? But the article has wonderful pictures of other parts of the island, maps, and reconstructions. Something the book didn’t have.;;doc.view=print

    This morning the weather was pretty nice. I think our atmospheric river, has just arrived. Wind is rising and the rain is bucketing down. Lew

  12. Hi Lewis,

    Oh wow! As far as worries of the day, that’s a biggie. I guess we’re all done for then. 😉 Still, the chances of either of us being anything more than borrowed atoms for some other critter living on the new super continent in 250 million years time is probably a remote concern. I do rather hope that the critters at that time remember to look after the atoms they stole from us, after all, they’re only borrowing them too. Hey, we should charge a fee for this, then perhaps our fortunes will surely be made? How to collect on the fee is something I haven’t quite thought through entirely yet, but then maybe it is all too difficult. Just checking, have you got a spare DeLorean time machine? That might work? Someone around here actually owns a DeLorean, and I’ve seen it parked near to the General Store. Sends a strong message, owning such a vehicle. Probably super difficult to insure… And perhaps mildly unreliable.

    Ah, of course who can forget the Shill? It probably is a lucrative career, and involves less risk than being the front-man, or front-woman, who may be subject to indignities should the game be up.

    No. Halloween is celebrated more in your country. Sure, there have been attempts to get it kicked off here, but I’m not sure they’ve got that much of a foothold. Now Christmas lights that you can see from space, yes, those are a thing in some areas down here. We just don’t have the power for such devices. Ook! If you want to err, um, sponsor some additional large batteries, be my guest! 🙂 But until then, we must conserve.

    And that is the problem in a nutshell. It’s the less than super-wealthy, who may not quite appreciate their actual circumstances and how they’re viewed by the locals, which can be the problem. I’ve heard people speak to the folks around here who do work, using an extraordinarily callous mode of communication. I can not begin to tell you how uncomfortable I am when I hear such talk. And there is a cost, such as local businesses being put on the market.

    Status is ephemeral and can slip through your fingers much quicker than it is ever acquired. I hear you and have had a similar journey, but am happier in this class. Status is a form of puffery, but that is merely my take on the world. And that’s exactly right, you find out who your friends actually are.

    Hehe! Cheyenne is carving out a nice neglected niche in her trade. Why not? It’s a wise thing to do. You can’t compete with the tech boffins anyway, they have more resources. But to know that there are people out there who appreciate a more human interaction, well, isn’t that the epitome of a relationship? It’s funny you mention this issue, but I saw it in action in the business world yesterday. To demand that things be done in a certain complicated way, whilst ignoring the customers needs, is actually a road to failure. Like Cheyenne, we also do a mix of new and old school work. Why not?

    That’s a genuinely funny Star Trek solution. Talk about the revenge of the analogue. If I had more hours in the day. A very occasional commenter here from down under put me off the Picard series.

    Breakfast is sacrosanct! But I’m made of staunch stuff, so endured the norovirus article and only had mild feelings of nausea. They lingered for most of the day too. And maybe into the evening. Hehe! Just kidding! A pint and pizza for dinner at the local pub soothed the shattered nerves. We hadn’t been to the pub for months because the last meal was, not good. Anyway, we decided to try it again in future but share one pizza instead of ordering one each like we did last night. The pizzas are small, but probably bigger than the size meal we’d usually eat. We were candidly a bit full after last nights dinner, and I sleep better when dinners are smaller. Dunno how you feel about such things? I actually operate better with a larger breakfast, mid sized lunch and a smaller dinner. Other people have different preferences, so I don’t really know.

    Yes, in some ways, the whole thing looks like a fight over the prevailing culture, so I’m unsurprised that you may be having similar movements (it doesn’t quite seem like a discussion to me due to the err, the lack of discussion) in your country. And in a bizarre turn of events some of the Uni’s have had some rather odd behaviour on this subject. Anyway, the whole thing will be sorted out one way or another by mid next month. I actually do not understand why the system wasn’t trialled first so that the bugs could be ironed out prior to chucking it in the constitution as a basically unknown outcome with wide ranging powers. Bureaucratic track records are not good.

    Yes, it does sound like change is in the very air at your Club. If he complains of shooting pains in his arm, he might want to go back, but it is his call. The Club will be fine, there’s a need, and as you say, you never know who will step up when the time comes for such actions.

    The hermitage on the island was awesome, and you’d hope for a person up there who kept their wits about them and also a sharp lookout for those Vikings. I’m amazed that the Vikings would even attack such a remote western locale. The cistern hewn into rock was a clever touch, and the gardens were tiny. I shall not complain about a want of garden space in the future!

    The good professors blog of the scary looking cloud was awesome. And you know when the cloud hits, things are going to get interesting. In the video footage, you could see a wall of rain. How did the rain go in your part of the world?

    It was a cool and cloudy day here today, and will be the same tomorrow. Then it will get warmer. However, the early forecasts for next week are suggesting we could get a month of rain in a few days. We’ll see, it is early days yet.



  13. Yo, Chris – I’ll pack my bags and wait for the DeLorean pick up. 🙂

    Oh, sooner or later your merchants will wake up to the fact that Halloween is a money wagon, pulled by a cash cow. Last figures showed that north of 10 billion dollars were spent, here in the States. I think part of it is, it’s kind of the kickoff, for the holiday season. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years, follow in quick succession.

    You can tell a lot about people, by how they treat service workers. Young people dating should get the stars out of their eyes, and observe more. At the Club, especially if it’s a new volunteer, I always make sure and go out of my way to thank them for being there.

    I see some of the big, high tech real estate sites are having a bit of financial trouble. Funny, that. Cheyenne is pretty level headed. Her folks bought and sold a few houses, on personal contracts. And, so did she, before officially getting into the real estate racket. 🙂

    I had a pretty simple dinner, last night. About a year ago, there was a can of tomatoes / corn / okra, in one of our boxes. Haven’t seen one since, but the Dollar + store usually has some. So, last night I tossed a can on top of some rice, seeds and garlic. Added a bit of frozen chopped broccoli. Called it dinner. If I eat too much, too late in the evening, I throw a couple of extra pillows on the bed. Keep my head elevated. Might give some people neck problems, but I’ve never had any. Since doing that, I’ve never had any problems with acid reflex.

    Well. That’s interesting. Two of the “Star Wars” movies, have segments filmed on Skellig Michael. Wasn’t mentioned in the book, at all. Here’s a 5 minute film clip. The reporter is talking to Robert Harris, the author of the book.

    Well, if you hang in there … A Viking king (later King of Norway) was baptised, on the island. After that, they were more protected.

    Looks like we might have a nice weekend. Fog in the mornings, sun in the afternoon. Then back to “chance of rain,” on Monday. I notice it’s supposed to get down to 39F, Friday night. I think that’s our first temp in the 30s, since spring. Our atmospheric river, seems to be coming in, in bands. Wind and rain, with a few clear spots, in between. Sometimes, H and I get lucky. 🙂

    I watched another couple of exciting episodes of “Fire Country,” last night. A winter carnival with amusement park rides. A ride called the “Zero Gravity Ride,” runs amok, flinging pieces all over the place. With 30 people on board. The shut down switch is in a pretty inaccessible place. The ride operator is a kid, who states that he doesn’t even have his drivers license, yet.

    Well, I can’t say the first two seasons of “Star Trek: Picard,” impressed me much. But the third and final season was just about perfect. To me. You’re mileage may vary.

    Last weeks “new” list, from the library, was pretty slim pickings as far as DVDs went. I only put a couple of them, on hold. Documentaries. One on the brain, and one on humans impact on earth. Quit a few interesting books, though. A new bio of the author Larry McMurtry. A book on the great Chicago fire of 1871.

    There was another fire, about the same time, that doesn’t get much coverage. News from Chicago, drowned it out. The Peshtigo Fire. Burned large areas of Michigan and Wisconsin. Killed at least 1.200 people. I did read a book about it, a few years back. Lew

  14. Yo, Chris – An interesting article on an experiment in affordable housing, out in the boonies.

    I notice it will also be open to folks like nurses and teachers. My friends in Idaho, have a duplex. They rent it to Forest Service employees, there. They keep the rents as low as possible, mostly, just to cover upkeep. I think they take the long view. Profit will probably be made, when the property is eventually sold. Lew

  15. Chris,

    Nice observation. A lot of Northern Canada and the Alaskan interior are very dry per the amount of annual rainfall (including equivalent of melted snow). Fairbanks, for example, averages something like 296mm per year, whereas Spokane about 420mm. There’s water everywhere, but it is deceptive how dry it really can be in those parts. Permafrost explains some of it.

    Yes, got another 6mm of rain this morning. It has been a long time since September was not simply an extension of summer. It got down to +6C overnight before the clouds rolled in and the rain started. We’re enjoying having the windows open and letting the cooler air blow through.

    Dire weather? Sounds like a good name for a band. If I had a penny for every time the local media said that “We’re ALL gonna die because of this upcoming snowstorm!” I’d be more than rich. Add in the dire heat wave or the catastrophic thunderstorms and it’s surprising that any of us are still alive. (Okay, sarcasm off.) I figure it is dire if you awaken to 65cm of new snow like we did just before Christmas 2008. Or it’s -30C with heavy winds. But most of this “dire weather” stuff is little more than media hype. At least here.

    Ah yes, band names. I knew some chaps who played in a band called “Loose Gravel”. They chose the name for the free advertising they got: following certain types of road maintenance, state and local governments would put up signs that said “Beware of Loose Gravel”.

    Yes, I’ve assisted 2 judges that were easily distracted. Twas the first time judging for one, and he asked for my help in keeping on task. I assisted him again last year and am happy to say that he has turned into a phenomenal judge. The other, well, was at the end of the judging career and hasn’t judged since. Nice person, so it was rather sad; the actual judging results, however, I thought were fine.

    Yes, there has been talk for years about wanting me to learn to judge. Technically, I can judge either Novice or Intermediate levels now. One thing that most shows try to avoid is having local members judging at the that club’s show. One show was providing local judges and it turned into huge fiascos and horrid results. None of us enter our work there any longer.

    Some of our Experts have more talent than I do. Period. I could possibly get to that level if I worked MUCH harder. I’ve got other things I like to do also. Cooking is another hobby. I also want to start making candles again. Twas something we did as a family when I was growing up. I also enjoy reading and working in the yard, learning Welsh, etc. I would have to specialize in carving in order to get exceedingly better. I like the balance of interests I’ve got.

    Triple J testline link was funny. Thanks for that. Funny, but sadly very true.

     Got out my mandolin knife this afternoon and cut the zucchini into thinner pieces. Thing was about the same size as my thigh. Most of it is being dehydrated. I put about 2 cups into a couple loaves of bread that just finished baking. I baked 2 small loaves with zucchini earlier this week. Even the household’s picky eater enjoyed them.

    The zucchini dries well. I dried several of my own last year. Most of those I packaged for long term storage in vacuum bags. Some of it was in small pieces. I added these to spaghetti sauce and omelets; this batch just ran out, so some of the stuff currently drying might get used for that also.

    We’ve got some wild borage as well as some type of violet thingy. Both need to be dug up in order to disappear. The violet thingy is very difficult to eradicate, as it has a tuber 10cm to 20cm deep that sends out runners to start new plants. The new plants also develop their own tubers. If a piece of tuber gets dropped or left in the ground for any reason, it will start a new growth…just add water.

    The birds. I think some of them winter over – some of the chickadees and crows and maybe sparrows. Others migrate. We tend to have robins here all year, but the summer robins fly south and our winter robins came from further north. I think the same is true for most of the sparrows. Not many sparrows winter over.


  16. Hi DJ,

    One of the things which grabbed my attention about the fires north of you, were that those areas are very dry on average. Trees generally require around 500mm of annual precipitation in order to live when temperatures exceed certain thresholds – like they do down here. It becomes easy to see the lines in the landscape down here where the trees are challenged by the climate. And the trees respond in their own ways to that. The pines which grow up north of you are adapted to super dry climates. With a bit of management of the forests there, the fire risk could be reduced, but I could say the same thing about down here too. It ain’t gonna happen until it happens and that requires a bit of letting go, and some more knowledgeable folks to take over the work.

    According to the forecast, from about Tuesday evening onwards, we might get a months worth of rain in only a few days. Bonkers.

    Nice to hear that you’re getting some decent rain now. The climate is really a bit all over the shop at the moment. And it isn’t just you, we spotted some feral left over tomato seeds which had germinated on their own over the past few days – and not just in one location. It is possible we’re starting those seeds too late this year in the greenhouse given what we’re seeing about the place, but never mind. Last year, we didn’t get them in the ground until maybe late November.

    It is a great name for a band isn’t it? 🙂 No, the media hypes things up here on that front as well. When it’s 45’C and the wind is howling, I’ll freak out then, but until I see that day in the forecast, the weather is just nice. And 65cm of snow would freak me out too!

    That’s a pretty clever band name, but can you imagine the drama it would cause with interweb search engines? But then, that name might be sending a strong message that the population should beware of them! You never know.

    Ouch! The local judging story suggests that fingers were burned – please excuse the pyro-carving pun. How is your hand going? you haven’t mentioned it for a while, so I’m thinking that no news, maybe good news?

    Surely you heard that on the mount of olives, the big J said: Blessed are the jack of all trades, for they shall be in demand and busy? Over my life I’ve had the great good luck to encounter many strong male role models who’ve for a while taken me under their wing, such as the notable Sensei, or even long distance runners who were just better and faster. But just like you, I knew I could get to mastery if I put the effort in, but a person has to pick and choose how they spend their finite energy and time. And maybe, just maybe, the times instead called for having a wider variety of skills, like say, cooking. Balance, thanks for mentioning that word, yes, that is it exactly. If you do get back into making candles, I’d be curious to hear of your experience.

    Yes, like a little bird. Fly away and be free! The text line was bonkers, but amusing.

    I won’t dare ask who the household’s picky eater is. 😉 In books over the years there is often mention of extending the flour stores by adding in other products, although I’d never heard of zucchini, but why not? Pumpkin bread is probably pretty similar really. Better than plaster – those naughty bakers in earlier times. Never ended well for them, history does suggest so.

    Yes, both those plants are a bit weedy here as well. And for much the same reason. We get a bit of oxalis (wood sorrel) growing as well in the vegetable beds, and that can be a bit of a pest, more from the competition. With the rain in the forecast next week, we might begin to plant out some of the seedlings over the next few days.

    Thanks for the insights into the birds. Most of the birds here hang around all year around, although there are a few that are Johnny-come-lately sorts which turn up when the weather is warmer – like the huge Black and Yellow tailed Cockatoos. The local birds tend to defend their territory against the new comers, and for that I’m grateful. There are a lot of birds, and they can get hungry.

    It was a lovely spring day today. We installed about a third of the fencing on the new huge citrus and vegetable enclosure. Poor Dame Plum had not realised that the fencing was up, and ran into it at full speed ahead mode. Ouch! Anyway, at that stage the fencing had a lot of give and she kind of bounced off it, and is now wary of the entire area. A hard way to learn.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    The development on the forest service land sounds ambitious, and what else can they do if they want people to work for them? I’m watching this odd side effect of the property market playing out in all sorts of unusual ways. It’s not good. And I do wonder now if people are not quite earning a living wage? That’s a problem. I hear stories that the rental market down here is akin to the ‘Hunger Games’. I should watch that film given I’m quoting references to it.

    Hehe! Whatever critics may say about the quality and driveability of a DeLorean, the things have a certain style to them. And a way back machine would be a very cool thing to have access too.

    Thanks for the fun expression: A money wagon, pulled by a cash cow. Paints rather the piquant image. And if you ever come across one, our fortunes will surely then be made. But hanging onto the thing could be a problem. Like the famous headless chicken, your attention would eventually get diverted, then bam – the wagons gone. Oh well, it was probably a bad idea! 😉

    Man, that’s so true about observing how the people you’re with treat workers, and other folks. There’s an old saying about: If you tolerate this, then you’ll be next. And I’ve found over life that saying holds true. I like your style in thanking the new volunteers for the time they give the Club. That’s something which often gets overlooked. One of the things which I found to be bizarre about the volunteering for the fire folks, was that if you went over and beyond and did extra things to help out, there was absolutely nothing in it for having done so. At the same time during, I recall observing a bloke who used to say that he’d love to help out, but at the moment he was really busy, and he’d get around to doing so later. The head honcho spent more effort and energy on that bloke, than the people getting stuff achieved. It made absolutely no sense whatsoever to me. After a while, I began wondering if the canny bloke had read the social situation more clearly than I. Always possible.

    Are they? Interesting. There’s been a bit of trouble in that world over the past week or so from what I’m observing. Our civilisation doesn’t function all that well when oil prices are banging around the $95/barrel mark, which when you think about what the stuff can do, is remarkably cheap. Except we’re not set up for quaint notions, are we?

    For your interest, there has been a bit of a wide-spread cracking of the sads down here against those tech folks based on how they demand lots of very personal paperwork, yet don’t seem to be able to safeguard the same. And some folks are even beginning to ask the hard questions: Why are they even keeping this information?

    Rice with vegetables is a solid meal in my books. Although having chickens, we tend to chuck on a couple of eggs. Have you ever noticed that over the years a person could get whiplash from how eggs go from being good for you, to super bad for you? Talk about producing Exorcist style pea spit episodes! We had sliders for dinner this evening. I baked up a couple of small focaccias and they were filled with a vege patty (made from raw materials) and a few eggs and a chunk of cheese. So good.

    And that’s the other thing, I avoid really big meals for that very reason. Acid reflux is a pain in the err, neck! And chest too. Best avoided, and a couple of fresh common mint leaves work well to counteract.

    Alas, the video was arbitrarily banned in this country by utoob. It’s hard to know why, but the National Monuments Service had an equally amazing short video on the preservation work going on, on the island. The stone buildings, no matter how well constructed don’t maintain themselves in such an environment. What really pleased me was the drone footage of all those rock hewn staircases leading up towards the monastery. Even the old lighthouse was a truly epic undertaking. The terracing which the monks constructed is really something else.

    Those monks were clearly some canny folks to have done that. 🙂 I like how they had the easily defended refuge up in the hermitage where they could retreat should the Vikings ever arrive. Charging through that eye of the needle would have been a suicide mission for the Vikings.

    You’re definitely in the fall, and even in our news we’re hearing about the goings on in Vermont with the err, leaf influencers. Things have hit a critical mass over there. It is getting cold for you, although recently we’ve had similar over night temperatures. Brr! The UV here is slipping into the ‘High’ rating, and you can really feel the warmth of the sun now. Discovered quite a number of self seeded tomatoes today, and are now left wondering: Have we started the tomato seeds too late? Oh well, we’ll work something out. Put about a third of the fencing on the new much larger 6,500 square foot vegetable and citrus enclosure today. It’s a big job, and we’re trying out a new fence method so as to use up a lot of scrap materials. Dame Plum ran into the fence at high speed earlier today. Fortunately the wire had a lot of give and she kind of bounced off it, and seemed OK. Dogs…

    Dodge that rain you two! 🙂 The forecast is suggesting that we’re in for a months worth of rain from about Tuesday evening and then over a couple of days. Hmm. We’ll see, and the forecast maps are suggesting we’re in the epicentre of the predicted heavy rainfall. It happens.

    Thanks for the suggestion, and do you feel that I’d miss anything by skipping seasons 1 and 2 of Picard, but then watching the third season?

    Almost finished Mr King’s ‘Joyland’ book this afternoon. It’s been a joy to read, and I really have enjoyed the story. The ending in this instance was a colourful backdrop for the ‘coming of age’ story of the protagonist. The character Mike was a hoot, despite his difficulties. A notable realist that fictional character.

    The Peshtigo Fire was horrendous for the death toll. But area burned was pretty small all things considered. The 1851 Black Thursday bushfires down here in this state managed to burn 12 million acres, or about a quarter of the state. And unfortunately the 2019-2020 Black summer of bushfires burned something crazy like 60 million acres, but it was over a couple of states. There wouldn’t be much left to burn after that. Holy carp! Not that it is a competition, but apparently the 1974-75 season burned 290 million acres. That’s bonkers.

    Is the book good?



  18. Yo, Chris – There’s a lot of zucchini bread, made over here, especially this time of the year. If you wrap it right, you can even freeze it up.

    True for residential real estate, not so much for office and retail space. I saw an article last night, that in London, there’s a lot of empty office space. Face Plant spent a large amount of money, to buy themselves out of a lease. Moved to smaller digs, closer to the CBD. And they’re not the only ones.

    I’d say the head honcho wanted something from the hesitant guy, or saw some benefit in getting him on-board. Might be something as simple as wanting to date his sister. 🙂 Or more complicated things, like status of one type or another. Which leads me to …

    I stopped by the library, yesterday. Jackpot! Seven DVDs and a book. The book? “Status and Culture: How Our Desire for Social Rank Creates Taste, Identity, Art, Fashion, and Constant Change.” (Marx, (not that Marx,) 2022.) 🙂 From the dust jacket: “Solving the long-standing mysteries of culture – from the origin of our tastes and identities to the perpetual cycles of fashions and fads – through a careful exploration of the fundamental human desire for status.” I read a couple of chapters, last night. Readable, not too dense. Touches on some of the stuff we’ve talked about, from time to time.

    There are a few websites I use, that always want you to sign up / register. And want your credit card information. In return you get special “deals” and the checkout is a lot easier. But, they also have a guest sign in, where that information has to be entered, every time. Maybe they keep that information, maybe they don’t. But with all the data breaches one hears about, probably a (minimal) safer way to go.

    I wanted something simple, last night. So, I threw a can of refried beans and a can of diced tomatoes, over a bit of rice. Mixed it up with garlic and seeds (so I don’t get worms 🙂 . There was about half left over. Tonight, I think I’ll fry up some eggs, chop them up and put them on the Naan bread, we got. If it hasn’t headed south. And then heat up and cover it with my leftovers from last night. I probably fry up some eggs, chop them, and mix them into whatever I’m eating two or three times a week.

    Ah, too bad about the video I linked to, about Skellig Michael. But you found the other one’s on You Tub. There are quit a few. And, I watched some of them. Looks like the movie people gifted the island with a helipad. I guess the place is getting a bit overrun with movie fans. Tour boats, and such. But, as dicey as it is to get on and off the island, there will be a lot of disappointed people, who will have to deal with the fact that sometimes, it’s just not accessible. No matter what your itinerary is. There were some people crawling up the steps, on their hands and knees. Religious fervor or vertigo? Can’t say I’d recommend the book. It was nice that the author tipped me off to the existence of the island, but I thought he banged on a bit too much about the island light (and not just in the monk’s cells) and the bird life. Plus his spasms of poetry. There were some nice moments though. One night, an exotic butterfly, some variety he had never seen before, came to his window. Crawled up the glass, and through an open transom. Then another, and another. Soon there were about 20, flying around his cabin. They settled in for the night, and the next morning were gone. From where or to where, who knows? He didn’t bother to identify the species.

    The lighthouse was automated, during his time on the island. But, it still needs maintenance, and two or three lighthouse maintenance men were on and off the island, at different times.

    Our trees are finally beginning to change color. About time. I have two self seeded tomatoes. One is in the corn. And the other, strangely, has established itself in the hanging petunia basket! They both have small green tomatoes on them, but I doubt they’ll ripen. I may dehydrate another round, tomorrow. I’ll probably pick the green ones. Something interesting about the Mammoth sunflower. It finally bloomed, but just about the time that the rain started. So, I didn’t think they’d get pollinated, as the domestic bees have all disappeared. But I notice, even in the rubbish weather, a couple of bees working them over. Larger than a domestic bee, and kind of the same shape. Smaller than a bumblebee. I think they’re probably some kind of hardy, wild bee.

    Poor Dame Plume! The other night I went to get H, and she was sleeping on a chair. When I came in, she was startled, and fell off the chair. Elinor freaked, afraid that she had been injured. I almost made a snide comment about concussion, but thought better of it. 🙂 When we got back, Elinor asked me if her behavior outside was “normal.” I told her H was just as goofy as she always is.

    I think “Star Trek: Picard,” might be worth a look. Season three, that is. Even though season one and two were watched, just a year or two ago, they didn’t leave much of an impression, on my memory. I’ll remember season three, for quit awhile. It pretty much stands on it’s own, as a story.

    If you search “book: Peshtigo fire,” several come up. But I don’t remember which one, I read. There’s probably reviews and ratings, out there. Somewhere. Lew

  19. Chris,

    Proper forest management would be good. Unlikely, though. Darn. Adding to the dryness is something I read earlier this year: apparently, at least in my state, 80% of the wildfires are caused by humans. Not all are arson. Many are caused by farm machinery. Ugg.

    I get that month of rain in a few days thing. Until these past 6 weeks, that is what we’ve had for several years from late winter through late autumn. A whole month’s worth in 3 or 4 days. Then dry until the following month. Double Ugg.

    65cm of snow in one storm was a bit overkill. But I wasn’t consulted prior to that event. I let Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz outside, only to have her look at me as if to say, “Papa, I gotta GO but the snow is too deep! Help!” Then eat breakfast, then grab the snow shovel and slowly start the process to dig out. It was quite the event.

    Funny thing… you say “interweb”. In the USA it’s “internet”. In a comic I saw the other day, a character referred to it as the “interdweeb”. I had a good chuckle.

    Oh, that judging fiasco. Very bad. Tw0 years before that, the Princess and I took a trip to visit my friend and go to that particular show. We get our judging done the night before the show opens to the public. That place was still judging entries until early afternoon of the first day it was open to the public. Very bad form.

    Then came some iffy judging the next year, then THE FIASCO. One expert entry was *bizarre*. The artist from that club had saved wood chips and wood shavings from several projects, having swept them off the workshop floor. Then a piece of plywood had glue applied to it, the saved chips and shavings and dust then randomly dropped onto the glue. That entry got a blue ribbon, best of Expert level AND Best of Show. Some excellent carvings didn’t even get ribbons. That was enough of supporting that show.

    Yup, will discuss the candles. If and when. 😉

    I like adding fruits and/or vegetables, fresh or dried or frozen (and thawed) to my bread. More nutrients in the bread that way. My opinion is that bread should be tasty and nutritious. The additions help.

    Poor Dame Plum. Could’ve been worse: a new glass door or something.

    Show time this weekend. Will catch up next week.


  20. Hi DJ,

    We’re having a coffee emergency here! The pump on the Gaggia coffee machine packed it in this morning. Anywhoo, it’s a public holiday in this state today for the footy finals tomorrow. So I got on line and ordered a replacement pump from a business in the next state to the north (which aren’t having a public holiday), and paid for fast postage. Thinking how clever I was, and enjoying a sense of relief at a job sort of well done, I switched off the computers. So tonight, I switched them on again and discovered that when the email came through it turns out that I’d ordered a 24V AC pump of the same size and dimensions – and codes – when I should have ordered a 230V AC pump of the same size and codes. Who labels stuff that way? What is wrong with the manufacturer to do that? Bonkers, and an easy error to make based on the assumption that the voltages would be irrelevant because the model number was correct. Assumptions… Proving us all wrong since 400AD! 😉 And also clearly displays the distress I was operating under. Had to order a replacement pump, for the replacement pump this evening. 🙂 Fortunately the emergency Bialetti coffee machine is a simpler machine to use, and just works and can perform substitute duties for the next week, until the replacement pump for the replacement pump turns up much later.

    That’s the problem isn’t it? You’re dealing with the twin risks of arson and stupid. Spare a thought for me here. It would be preferable for every critter living here to leave a patchwork mosaic of long grass under the forest canopy. But arson and stupid forces me to cut and drop all of it. It’s a problem and everyone loses. I hear you about that, and a lot of farm machinery involves sharp blades which can hit rocks – think steel and flint. I have heard stories of tractor drivers obliviously setting off grass fires behind them and not knowing about the fires, because the slasher unit is at the rear of the tractor. Ugg indeed.

    Yeah, the not much rain, then a lot of rain, can be a problem. Unfortunately, it looks like a pretty good preview of the future, sorry to say. We’ll be on high alert from Tuesday onwards so as to avoid too many rainfall dramas. Interestingly, the epicentre of the storm in the forecasts has shifted a bit east of here.

    I must say, not being consulted prior to such an epic snow storm is not quite cricket. 😉 Did the weather forecasts indicate that severe weather was expected?

    The label interweb is something I heard long ago so as to describe the communications thing we use which is more commonly known as you describe it. That’s what it looks like to me. But anyway, the whole thing looks to me like a giant SQL server, and they’ve been around for a long time. Sure the search engines are clever indexes, but so to are old school cards in a library manual record keeping system. Frankly, I’m not bothered that the supposed AI systems are probably eating our text here with gusto. The thing has no new ideas, or even the vaguest hints of creativity. When it does, that’s when we should worry, but the tech folks are approaching the problem from the wrong way.

    Yikes! Yes, in my opinion, that work being awarded something beyond its merit is a fiasco. Of course the thing is art, but it’s also abstract art, and like you, I would have walked away. The question becomes, was the show run to display and grade the efforts of wood carvers, or was it an art show?

    The grain growing regions in this country are quite a massive band through the continent. In my awareness, there has only been one drought year when the grain export terminals were converted to grain import terminals. Not much suggests shooting past the carrying capacity than that moment. Maybe four years ago, maybe five, I forget. But all the same I appreciate your suggestion as to bread making. If I had to hazard a guess, here the additions would be either potatoes or pumpkins. Probably potatoes.

    Good luck with the show, and I do hope that your works are well received by the judges and also the people who attend. Plus I hope the weather is nice for the show.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    This is a whole new world to me. Turns out, not only is there zucchini bread, but people make zucchini cakes and zucchini muffins. Yes, there were mentions that the bread could be frozen successfully, not that I doubted you, I just have very little experience at freezing such foodstuffs. Alas our ability to freeze anything is rather limited. Mostly we keep various yeasts, lemon juice and a tomato / French lentil vegetable mix in the freezer. Word on the street is that zucchini cake is better than carrot cake too, and that the vegetable tends to take up the flavours of the things that are added to the bread. I’ll try one of these recipes next year when we have some fruit. At this stage, the zucchini are mere seedlings – probably not for long though given their reputation!

    The water pump in the coffee machine packed it in this morning. And to compound the coffee emergency, I ordered the wrong replacement pump. How does a water pump have the same model codes, yet differing voltages? The supplier has a clearly stated no-returns policy, so I’ll sell the thing off on ebuy when I get it in the mail. There is massive indignity in ordering a replacement part, for a replacement part! I’ll soon get over it… 🙂 But in the meantime we’re forced to use the old school Bialetti stove top coffee machine. It’s made of aluminium and we were wondering how to use the thing on the electric induction cooker. Otherwise we have to use precious gas to heat the thing.

    Had a look into how those adapters for induction cookers work – and yes, you have remarked that induction cooking is black magic! Turns out, the adapters heat up the ceramic top of the induction cooker, so I’d probably steer away from that outcome given electronics and how serious heat, is like a bad idea. Oh well, it was worth considering.

    It is interesting you mention the excess of commercial office space, and yes I am aware of this issue. What fascinates me about that story is that in the early stages of the recession which-we-had-to-have (that was what it was called down here), the same problem reared its head. Now, at extraordinary expense, some of that commercial real estate was converted into residential, and that is a bonkers proposition due to the poor economics, but they did do it. Then invited in a whole bunch of overseas students to study at the local Uni’s and take up the accommodation. I got to see all that taking place in real time, over a lot of years. I’d have to suggest that there have been unintended consequences from this strategy.

    You’re right there, and I’m guessing that status was at the core of the matter, but that’s only a guess. What I did observe was that there was a driving process in the group which tended to ignore the drilling upon the basics, and instead went after the new. I’m sure that is a common thing, and I’d seen it with management fads (I’m sure you know what I mean), but never in such a group. Not a fan. Basics first, then more basics, get that absolutely right and locked down before moving on to the next thing.

    It would be weird if it was that Marx! 🙂 Has the book thrown any new ideas at you?

    I agree, and likewise follow a similar strategy whenever possible with the guest checkouts. When in stores who push for such things, I tend to suggest to them that: I don’t want the advertising material. Mostly, the folks don’t know how to respond to that response, and then if they’re super-pushy (I’m sure you’ve met some of those), I get them to explain the benefits of membership, then say say ‘no, not worth it’. Mostly by then, they’ve run out steam and there are other customers requiring similar levels of attention. The psychic wall of pressure from a bunch of other customers can be used to your advantage! 😉

    How did the Naan bread end up? That stuff has a pretty good shelf life. We eat similar meals, except tonight’s had a good couple of handfuls of kale freshly picked from the garden chucked in. Those greens have to be cooked and cut up small, but some people can eat them raw. Hmm. Hey, I’ve convinced the Editor to try Silverbeet and perennial Spinach this year. She reckons the leaves taste like dirt, but we’ll see. Do you like chard leaves?

    You’re not wrong, and that itinerary pressure was also recently seen in the norovirus outbreak on the walk we were discussing a week or so ago. Given the challenges of living on the island, let alone getting to and from it, I was left with the strong impression that the monks very much wanted their quiet time to contemplate. You can’t imagine that they’d encourage too many visitors even at the peak of the monastery? Such fragile places probably need limits set on visitor numbers.

    Speaking of poetry, we should probably do a poetry week, where the blog has to be written in the form of a poem, and also all the comments? Hehe! Sounds good in theory, anyway I’m just mucking around here, I don’t think I could manage it… Warning! Brain explosion dead ahead at twelve o’clock! Best not to go there.

    The lighthouse accommodations appeared to be quite extensive, but now very run down from what I could tell from the videos. The constant exposure to the elements would be rough on any man made structure.

    Don’t tell the tourists about the leaf change! It was a public holiday today for the footy finals tomorrow. I forget who is playing, sorry. And we had a more relaxed day today. The sun was warm and the weather was sweet. It looked feral with tourists over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. A lamb and rosemary gourmet pie was consumed, and it was good, and at least that nearby town was quiet-ish.

    Yeah, if the tomatoes are small and green at this time of the year, the odds of them ripening are not good. We started the tomato, corn, chilli and cucumber seeds today. And I dug up the ginger and turmeric tubers to see what was happening with them. They’ve all formed roots, so I potted them back up and put them in a sunny spot in the greenhouse.

    The European honey bees are interesting creatures. The combs that beekeepers supply them with are made up of lots of hexagonal same sized cells. Bees in the wild will create cell sizes for their brood much larger, and that can produce larger bees depending upon the hives needs – that’s what I’ve read anyway. So it is possible that what you spotted were actually larger wild bees. I’ve been wondering for a while whether the bees will eventually adapt to the pesky mites. It’s possible, and they may need to do that in the wild without the assistance of average sized cells and all the other limits beekeepers place upon them. Supposedly, much smaller hives appear to show some resilience to the mites, and I’m thinking about that.

    Don’t mention the word ‘concussion’! Poor H, she’ll be fine, like how Dame Plum was fine. I must add that today she is positively wary in that area.

    Thanks for the recommendation for the series! I’ll see what I can do.

    One more night, before I lose an hour of sleep. For about a week afterwards, the patterns will most certainly be wrong. 😉



  22. Hi, Chris!

    Fluffy! It’s so good to see you again!

    What a nice walk you had, even though an hour – or because of – each way. I can see you in your long black coat, possibly a little intimidating? What a great plan to have Old Fluffy make your song requests.

    Was the workers cottage otherwise sound? We bought a 1930s bungalow near downtown Dallas, Texas in 1982. There was a heck of a lot of work to do, especially with windows and wiring and overall cosmetics, much neglect, but it was a pretty well-built house. We would have liked to move the whole shebang to Virginia, but it could not be. We lost a lot of money on that house when we sold it.

    The King Parrot in the plum blossoms is charming, not withstanding that he is pruning the future crop. Squirrels eat our fruit blossoms. I can’t remember if I mentioned groundhogs last week, but – though they can’t get inside the garden fence – they are eating flowers outside it and butternut squash that has crawled through the fence. I am now spraying El Stinko every day.

    Our alpine strawberries are about done, a few left.

    Have been making cucumber pickles and we just harvested the sweet potatoes. I am going to try freezing the leaves, as I eat a lot of those as greens.

    Thanks for the flowers! I am planting daffy bulbs now.


  23. Yo, Chris – Sad news from Hadrian’s Wall …

    I’m taking bets, as to the reason. 1.) “I was bored.” 2.) “I was trying to impress my girlfriend, or, 3.) “I was making a whacko eco statement.”

    Coffee emergency!

    Well, at least you have a plan “B”. 🙂 I know I’d get pretty cranky, if I couldn’t have my morning cuppa of green tea. Which reminds me. Running low. Need to add it to my monthly on-line order list. I only drink coffee at the Club. I get pretty antsy, when it’s between pots, and I have to wait.

    Office space to housing. Whatever works. I’ve also heard of a lot of factory to apartment / condo conversions. Our building is really noisy, right now. They’re gutting about three apartments. Ripping out all the cabinets and major appliances. I saw a flat-bed truck, yesterday, piled with cabinets. Most are in pretty good shape. I hope they’re going somewhere where they can maybe be reused. We have a business in town, that also rebuilds stoves, refrigerators, washers and dryers. Sweeping generalization alert! It was Hispanic folks, loading up the cabinets. I think they are more likely to reuse that stuff. Especially the recent immigrants.

    Which brings me to another thought, I had, the other day. When Yardbirds was closed, it took the huge flea market along with it. As far as I know, it hasn’t been replaced with anything comparable. A large part of the gray economy, was wiped out. At least in our area.

    The book on status, is very interesting. And, he uses a lot of relatable examples, to make his points. He talks a bit about Coco Chanel. From the bottom of the barrel, to the heights. Mostly because she had drive, and produced products that were desired by the upper classes. There’s a new bio out about her. I might not have read it, but think I will now. I might be a little more sensitive, as to how status works. I was reading an interview with an actor, last night, and he said, “Actor X collects stamps. I collect cars and guns, which are much more expensive, and much more difficult to store.” I’d say a statement like that, signals status.

    The refried beans / fried eggs / diced tomatoes on the Naan bread was pretty tasty. I topped it with a bit of Feta cheese. There’s still some refried beans, left over. I think I’ll beef it up with some yellow Zucchini. And, once again, put it over Naan bread.

    Yes, Zucchini is pretty versatile. Don’t forget biscuits! 🙂 Although you may want to search both biscuits and cookies. I don’t like chard, I don’t like kale.

    We know so little about the workings of Skallig Michael. Sounds like they had some royal patronage. Were they completely independent, or did they have some oversight by clergy on the mainland? Questions, questions.

    Footy finals. No drama. I could care less. 🙂 Often, when I walk into the Club, they have some sports event on the screen. Someone always shouts out the score. I either say, “I could care less,” or, “Do I look like someone who cares?” 🙂 I can’t even pretend to be interested. Which probably losses me status, in my peer group. 🙂

    I picked another round of tomatoes, this morning. They’re in the dehydrator. A lot of them were split, but I managed to pull together three trays. That last tray, the fourth, I filled with frozen cherry tomatoes (where did they come from?) and a few Roma tomatoes gifted by another gardener. I picked another handful of green beans. Did I miss them yesterday, or did they grow overnight?

    I see Prof. Mary Beard has a new book out on the Roman emperors. Our library usually gets her books. I also keep forgetting to tell you Chuck Palahniuk has a new book coming out. “Not Forever, But For Now.” The publisher describes it as a “horror satire.” It’s on my library hold list.

    I also see that a thought to be extinct animal, in your part of the world, has made an appearance. The Spotted-tailed Quoll. Out in Beachport, to the west of you. Nasty looking little beast. It was going after someone’s chickens.

    The Powers That Be, are opening up public comment on a plan to reintroduce Grizzly bears, to the northern Cascades. My comment? DON’T DO IT!!!

    Haven’t heard from Inge in awhile. Hope she’s doing o.k..

    Only got down to 46F, last night. Looks like a nice weekend. What does 4 pounds of grapes look like? That’s what I need to make jelly. Font Of All Wisdom says it’s about 2 quarts. So, if I fill my 2 1/2 quart bowl, I ought to be ok. Maybe. I’m going to throw in a handful of dried / plumped cranberries, just for the pectin. Lew

  24. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, it’s pretty difficult to explain away cutting down a tree which has stood for two centuries, and in fact there is no excuse for such an act. However, on the other hand, if you look at the photos, it is hard for me not to note serious soil compaction around what remains of the tree stump, and where the heck are all the other trees? That was one lonely tree there. I remember reading an article on a threatened ancient forest in that country. It may have been something to do with a planned petrol station, I can’t now recall. Except the extent of the forest was only nine or ten acres. I had to re-read that just to make sure that I hadn’t gotten that wrong. There’s a whole lot wrong there, and only one way to restore a sort of balance. I believe that the lack, will impact upon the spiritual side of the people in that country, but I’d be happy to be proven wrong.

    I tend to agree with you on those three points. It is equally possible that the alleged people involved may have wanted just that bit more grazing area for the sheep? Mostly it’s why we can’t have nice things.

    Oh my! Imagine having that hand cranked air raid siren wielding person for a neighbour. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Speaking of afraid, I’m looking at the rainfall forecast maps and feeling a mild bit of trepidation at the coming week. The weather has been so nice lately. Oh well. Apparently the rock band KISS played at the footy finals today. The crowd would have been in the 6 digits. Went into the city to have lunch with mates, and we talked some rubbish, as you do. Had a lovely lunch which was a crusty porchetta panini. So good. Yum! And some sort of Italian biscuit filled with raspberry and coated in icing sugar. A bit messy to eat, but also very tasty.

    The plan B for the coffee machine is working well. 🙂 Caffeine withdrawal would not be a pretty sight! Green tea is very good, and when I worked at the top end of town I always ensured that they kept a good supply of quality green tea in the kitchen. A person needs a break and some time out, and green tea provides just that.

    I had the impression from that earlier recession time that it was the older office buildings which adapted more readily into residential use than the newer empty buildings. I’m not entirely certain why that would have been. But I’d imagine retro-fitting large infrastructure into an existing huge building would be a nightmare job. Honestly, my gut feeling is not good about the chances of those cabinets being re-used. However, the appliances I reckon stand a better chance, but it depends. Out of curiosity, do you have gas appliances in your building? It may be that they’re swapping some of those out for all electric appliances. Dunno, just a guess.

    Yeah, no worries, not every culture is wasteful. It seems to be something that we’re particularly good at unfortunately. Not sure why though?

    Hey, it’s possible that the flea market has set up in another location? I mean, if there was the supply and demand for the stuff, then why not? I think people are more after the stuff, than the ambience of the location. Hey, I paid $2.20/litre for fuel today. Yikes! That’s $8.36/gallon.

    We give ourselves away in all sorts of ways. And people who are more sensitive to such comparisons of status than I, can probably perceive such minor signals at 200 yards. Mate, sometimes you find yourself having to play such games because it is expected of you more than any other reasons, but that’s a conscious act for me. Most of the time, I just don’t care. And bizarrely, that can be provocative to some folks. They needn’t bother, which is why I’ll do what is expected, rather than my natural inclination. Hope that makes sense. How do you navigate such games? Your sports response at the Club suggests to me that we take a similar path.

    Yum! We’re going to do a homemade pizza tonight. It’s a roast veg pizza too. I believe the Italians would describe it as an Ortolana AKA mixed seasonal vegetables.

    What? I have to look into this. No way… Turns out that there are recipes for zucchini biscuits. You learn something new, every day. 🙂 Fair enough, the plants are an acquired taste.

    I was wondering that too about the monks on Skellig Michael. Just how independent were they? Probably quite a lot given the location. How would the mainlanders even know what the monks were up to most of the time? It is of interest that the monastery was eventually abandoned. Makes you wonder if there was a story there? I see, Elizabeth I and the reformation. I hardly imagine that a couple of monks living on a remote island off the coast could have been viewed as a source of trouble, but maybe they were.

    Where did you get the frozen cherry tomatoes? Beans can grow fast given the right conditions, either speculation works for me. 🙂

    Chuck’s latest book sounds very amusing, and I look forward to learning your thoughts on the book.

    It’s an amazing achievement for a species thought extinct in an area to suddenly make a special guest appearance like that quoll. They’re a native marsupial cat. Quite the predator, and they used to be in this mountain range until I believe the 1983 bushfires. Habitat loss more than lack of feed was how things played out for the quolls here. They need the hollows that you only find in big trees for their nests. A very interesting creature, and I’d welcome them back here for sure. A little bit easier to live with than Grizzly Bears which probably don’t interact all that well with the human populations. Looks like a bad idea to me too. Did you spot the alligator as a service animal which was refused entry to some sports event? Whatever will they think of next? 😉

    Yes, we haven’t heard from Inge for a while, and like you I do hope that the lady is doing well.

    That’s a lot of grapes! It was 82’F here today. Don’t worry, next Friday and Saturday will probably max out at 50’F. I’m already bracing for the return of the cold weather. Mustn’t grumble though. The weather forecast for the coming week looks bonkers!



  25. Hi Pam,

    Old Fluffy would most certainly have greeted you with cordial tail wags. She was a lovely dog and a good work wub. What’s a wub? Well, that’s a good question. And she’d follow me around whenever I worked. She’d just plonk herself down in a comfortable spot and keep an eye on things. Ollie is bizarrely the closest to her personality as he does a similar thing when I’m working about the property. It’s quite endearing. I’m sure you’ve known such dogs?

    Thanks! The walk was lovely, and a good way to brace the mind, then soothe the mind after a day of working in the top end of town. Truly, the environment was not for me, but you know, I gave it my best shot and did well for long enough. Just couldn’t keep up the effort required to exist in that space. Hehe! Too many other things in life interested me, like gardening for example, and somehow they always know when you’re holding back. 😉

    Yeah, thanks for that. I’d like to think I was intimidating in that long black coat, all swishing around and stuff! I tell you what, just like Darth Vader, nobody hassled me, but then there generally wasn’t anyone else walking around. Still, the unblemished and unchallenged record stands. It always surprised me that there weren’t more people walking around.

    Good question, yes the 1890’s brick building was otherwise sound. Interestingly the floor had rotted away (in one section all that remained was a dark line of unidentified organic matter on the clay surface). Those 1930’s bungalow’s had a lot going for them (bizarrely, one of those was our first home, and we lost money too – and just like you, after a lot of work. It was upsetting, but we were so young and just moved on – as you do). Big rooms, tall ceilings and a solid timber frame. The one we lived in had a hardwood timber frame, whereas most frames these days are softwood pine species.

    They do relocate timber houses down here. But usually only timber houses. They get cut up into chunks, then craned onto over sized huge truck / trailer combos. Then transported and reassembled on a new site. Quite the recycling job that one!

    King Parrots are lovely birds, and they’re not as commonly seen as the smaller but no less brightly coloured Crimson Rosella’s, which are also parrots. There is a family of about eight or nine of those birds living here all year around.

    Those naughty squirrels (with the exclusion of the delightful Charlene and her progeny!) and the even naughtier ground hogs. Please keep both of them in your part of the world. Please! 🙂 Someone tried to introduce the grey squirrels to this corner of the planet about a century and a half ago now. Go the El Stinko spray, and may it work with authority!

    You’re winter is fast approaching, as summer is doing so here. Daylight savings changeover tonight. A dingo stole my hour of sleep! Such things happen down under. Actually dingoes are pretty cunning animals, and as tourists are learning the hard way – not to be trifled with.

    We look like we have a months worth of rain forecast for this coming week. Hmm. It looks feral. Oh well, something to be gotten through, I guess. I was thinking of planting out some of the hardier seedlings like radishes, but with over night temperatures just above freezing, that might be a very bad idea despite the soaking they’ll get.

    Go the alpine strawberries! I’m convinced, they’re good.

    The leaves of that plant would pack some decent goodies I reckon, especially if consumed during the winter months. Hope they freeze well.

    I reckon you’ve picked a good time of your year to plant out the daffy bulbs. You’ll be pleased by them in early spring. 🙂



  26. Chris:

    As soon as you defined a wub, I knew it was Ollie. And don’t let a naughty dingo steal away Plum and Ruby’s hearts. I guess he couldn’t; their hearts belong to Ollie.


  27. Yo, Chris – More on the felled tree. I see there was also a 60+ year old man, involved. It’s interesting. It seems like in Britain, every time there’s a major find, it’s because an archaeological survey was done (which is law), before the construction of a housing estate, big box store or cricket pitch 🙂 . Property developers pray there won’t be anything interesting, on their patch. I hear stories, where often things are ignored (didn’t see that!). Or, a lot of the archaeological survey companies are private enterprises. Which might be tempted to downplay finds, for a little cash under the table.

    I hope you ride out the weather, ok. One of the episodes of “Fire Country” involved a landslide. I’m sure the story was inspired by the Oso Landslide. They also had an episode where some hotel sky bridges fell on a wedding party. That story was probably inspired by a similar event, in Kansas City, in 1981. 114 people were killed. That fiasco was covered in that DVD series I watched, on engineering failures.

    That was a Green Wizards meet up, I presume? Sounds like a tasty lunch. I had the last of the refried beans and tomatoes, last night. Mixed in a diced half a yellow Zucchini, and a Tomatillo. Nuked the whole mess and had it on Naan bread. A bit of Feta cheese, on the top. Also, tasty. Tonight I’ll have whatever the Club is serving up.

    I alternate between green tea, Earl Gray with Bergamot, and plain old Lipton’s black. A cuppa coffee when I’m at the Club.

    The only gas we have here at the Institution, is to heat our hot water. I noticed a couple of months ago, they put some kind of electronic gizmos, on the meter / intake unit. I think it’s to regulate the usage of gas, during the night. I’ve noticed the hot water, late at night, is a bit cooler, and takes longer to arrive at the tap. Since we’re run on government money, there are all kinds of rules and laws governing the disposal of “surplus.” Given how fast they try and turn these apartments, I doubt there’s much time and energy put into recycling.

    I haven’t heard of any comparable venue, for the flea market folks. I wonder what happened to the guy with thousands of used DVDs? Or the other guy with thousands of books? They may have gone the way of Frank the Mechanic. Besides a lack of affordable housing, in this county, it’s occurred to me we also have a lack of flexible, affordable retail space. Every time we have to move the Club, it’s always a scramble to find a suitable space for our needs.

    The status book is so interesting. “Researchers …found that we judge wealth levels through individuals’ clothing in as little as 130 milliseconds…” And a lot of it is what the author calls “habitus.” It’s unconscious. But a learned behavior. He’s getting into “taste,” now. “Individuals occupying a particular taste world, share the same broad aesthetic and make similar choices in cars, clothing, music, beverages, etc..” “While having good taste qualifies us for normal status, we can aim for higher status by developing great taste.” Some of this is just scratching the surface of what the author is saying. One mustn’t strive to be above one’s station, too fast. Or appear pushy. Higher status is granted. Cultural capital plays a role. It goes on and on.

    We’ll never know all the ins and outs of Skellig Michael. Unless further documents are found. Some monasteries were pretty independent. Others were under the thumb of the local archbishop. Skellig Michael might have been a “daughter” house of some mainland monastery. And it’s status probably changed over time.

    I have no idea where the frozen cherry tomatoes came from. Might have been the tail end of last season. Not enough to dry, so I just popped them in a freezer bag. Or, they might have come in a food box. Not enough to dry but, etc. etc.. I used up the last of them, and the flavor is fine.

    I’m committed! I picked a big bowl of grapes, this morning. I’ll make jelly, either tomorrow or the next day.

    Chuck’s book is waiting for me at the library. But I decided to wait to pick it up, til next Wednesday. As I have so much on my plate, right now.

    You’ll welcome the Quolls, until it eats one of your chickens 🙂 .

    The service / emotional support animal thing is completely out of control. Eventually, people will get fed up, and laws will be passed. Lew

  28. Hi Pam,

    Wub, wub! 🙂 And yes, Ollie is a work wub. He knows his role and is content. I’ve never had such a well balanced trio of fluffies before. Makes life easier, don’t you reckon? Canine intrigue and status battles can be a bit of a nuisance.



  29. Hi Lewis,

    Our media were also reporting that there was an alleged accomplice to the felled tree. Hardly surprising given chainsaws are not the sort of thing 16 years olds generally own (or know how to use). You might be right there, and I do wonder what their motivations were. A mystery. As pure speculation, it might be possible that a motivation could have been a reaction to population pressure from the tourism the tree may have drawn? Other than that, I really can’t quite comprehend the action. There may be no real rhyme or reason to the act as they say?

    The archaeological digs on building sites would be a hornets nest of potential problems. They do such things in the CBD, and it amazes me what is found. There was a Victorian era dentist originally at one site a few years ago. Hmm, a lot of teeth were found in the dig. But there are time limits for such activities and I have not heard that the development comes to a screaming halt. Of course, things may be different in the UK on that front.

    Those sorts of things with the slipping of the wads of mad cash, probably go on.

    Yeah, fingers crossed with the weather this week. It looks like the forecast centre of the storm has drifted east of here, and candidly that’s a good thing. There may be flash flooding in the east of the state over the next week. We continued to install the fencing on the new citrus and vegetable enclosure today. The sun was nice, and it was a really lovely day. All the fruit trees are enjoying the extra energy that this season is providing them, and I’ll put some photos of the developing fruit onto tomorrows blog, which I better get writing as I’m an hour out today. The patterns just aren’t right, ask me why? 🙂 Far out…

    What an interweb rabbit hole you sent me on! From the 1981 Hyatt Regency walkway collapse to the 2013 Rana Plaza collapse in Bangladesh. Not good. One little titbit of information I noticed in the Hyatt reading was that towards the latter half of the 1970’s, physical structural failures were on the up. Probably due to the economics of the times, and hey, just sayin…

    It was a good catch up too. What did the Club end up serving? I’m guessing chili dogs?

    All good teas, and I’m particularly fond of bergamot tea, which is some form of citrus, and not the flowering plant of the same name.

    Gas is very good for heating water, and I’d have to suggest quicker at it than the more usual mains electricity. It’s interesting you mention this, but after last weekends lunch with the big shed fame guys, we had the left over chicken carcass. The suggestion was made to convert it into chicken stock, but that takes three hours of cooking. I had this weird notion that was one of the things you do if you have a wood stove that is also heating the house, providing an oven etc. We considered the three hours of electricity, or gas, and just gave the chicken bones to the worms. You’re probably right about the throttle device on the gas usage at night. I’ve heard of such devices being placed onto households who use way too much water. The supply can get throttled.

    As to recycling, it takes effort, and funny you mention this… 😉

    Well that’s what I was wondering about. The DVD dude had the supply, and people were buying, so yeah, what happened to the stock? I recall reading that my dad’s bookshop contents were relocated to a different store, then eventually put online for a few years afterwards. A bricks and mortar bookshop really does benefit from a lot of foot traffic.

    And oh yeah, I recall the last time your Club was looking for new digs. Things ain’t cheap.

    That’s a great point about striving too hard. I watched a latest instalment of the Grand Designs UK season 24 last night, and I’d have to suggest that that theme is a constant issue with the show, but that’s purely my opinion. It’s a bit like watching a car crash in slow motion really. Over time, over budget, and mostly over sized. Why do people demand such large and extravagant buildings to house themselves in? This is one of the reasons we gave up fixing up houses, because mostly the markets expectations ended up exceeding what we were comfortable supplying.

    Good stuff, and please do let me know how the jelly goes? I’ve never made the stuff, or consumed it.

    Ha! The quolls couldn’t get into the chicken enclosure any easier than the rats can. That’s what heavy grade steel and concrete can achieve. Of course it makes little economic sense! And the 13 year old Silky chicken laid an egg. An odd egg. Oh well, moving on.

    I agree, all things can be taken to their logical extremes like an emotional support alligator. Candidly, I’d be uncomfortable if seated next to such a creature. Imagine someone having a Grizzly Bear as an emotional support critter! What could possibly go wrong? “My bear doesn’t like the look of youse!” I’m not entirely certain you could out run the beast either!

    Cheers gotta bounce and get writing. Daylight savings time has messed with my mind, and I’m late, but not by much.


  30. Yo, Chris – Well, there’s an idea. Cut down all the trees on your mountain, and you won’t have to put up with the leaf peepers. 🙂

    We go through the time change, the end of October. No one I know is looking forward to it.

    Interweb Rabbit Holes R Us? 🙂

    Last night it was Philly sandwiches, again. Even tastier than last week. She jacked up the horseradish and used Swiss cheese. Really tasty. This morning, it’s biscuits and gravy. The usual chef has bailed (again) and the chef who cooked last night, will do the biscuits and gravy, this morning.

    I didn’t realize Bergamot was so complicated. I’ll have to look into that.

    Why do people demand more extravagant houses? An attempt to increase their status.

    I know you don’t have a rooster, but the odd egg might have yielded an odd chick. An interesting odd chick. Per usual, there was more to the story of the guy and the emotional support alligator. Before the “incident” the alligator was a bit of an internet sensation. And, they only go where they are invited. They were invited to a pre-game meet and greet with the players. Due to traffic, he was late. “Friends” thought he should watch the game, and he was denied entrance. The corker is, the guy doesn’t even like baseball, and could care less about watching the game. There was an interesting sidebar story. Our Fed has cracked down, and as of January, only dog and cat emotional support animals will be allowed on plans. Any deviation is at the discretion of the airline.

    Well, I got the grapes all cleaned and in colanders in the fridge. So, I’m ready to launch the jelly. I’ll do that, this evening. I don’t know what the varieties of grapes are, but there was a large purple and a much smaller (and more fiddly) bluer grape.

    Well, our government shutdown has been averted. One news sight even had a countdown clock. Averted for about a month and a half, and then it’s the whole dog and pony show, all over again. 🙁 Lew

  31. PS: I looked at the library “new” list, last night. I didn’t put a hold on it, but someone has written a “1984”, told from the viewpoint of the lady friend. Lew

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