Tangled, Content

Please state the nature of the caffeine emergency! The water pump suddenly dying on the fifteen year old coffee machine is a bit of a show stopper for a morning coffee! I’d call that a caffeine emergency! The machine has had more repairs to it over the years than the metaphorical granddads old axe. The story about the old axe was that the handle and head had been replaced heaps of times, and the irony was that it was granddads axe in name only. The coffee machine is getting a bit like that.

To the right, the fifteen year old coffee machine. To the left, the emergency Bialetti Moka Express

I love the smell of coffee in the morning! With the machine now dead, we had to resort to the plan B device: The Bialetti Moka Express. It makes a good coffee and is a super simple device, but the end product is no espresso, like the now dead machine makes. Except that dead machine wasn’t making any coffees, what with it not working and stuff. A blokes gotta make do, if he wants his morning caffeine hit. A true hardship! Anyway, we’ve been here before with a dead coffee machine, and so can just adapt and make do. You could say that the plan B coffee emergency, has already been put to the test.

Friday morning, the problem with the machine was diagnosed, then we ordered a replacement water pump from a supplier of such parts who is in the next state immediately to the north. The machine is actually well designed, and has been in production for over forty years. All the components are modular, and it doesn’t take too much time or effort to swap out any old parts for replacements.

It was a bit of a surprise that the replacement water pump cost $60 though. To replace the machine itself would be around $800. Economics is always a factor in these sorts of decisions. The cynic in me knows that it would be very difficult to construct an equivalent machine using parts, for less than the retail price of a replacement machine.

Perhaps the message being sent by manufacturers to the general public with that, is that they’d much prefer if people purchased an entirely brand new machine. Fixing an older used machine is an expensive proposition. However, it’s equally possible that the machines are sold for low profit margins just so that the manufacturer can make heaps of profit on the spare parts. We’ll never really know, but there sure is a lot of waste out there.

The waste bothers me, but it is built into the arrangements of our civilisation. I recently re-read George Orwell’s book: “1984”. One of the core themes of the story was that the essential problem of over production, was solved by constant warfare and absurd levels of control over most aspects of that fictional society. It was a bit of nightmare story really. But then the waste and pollution we create as a civilisation is also a bit of nightmare story.

Makes a person wonder how long we can continue to produce waste on such a grand scale. It’s candidly hard to know, what with being a prediction about the future and stuff. The dark horse in the waste story to my mind is the cost of energy, and particularly oil, which is hovering around the $95/barrel, last I checked. Historically, that’s expensive for a barrel of oil. Here’s a chart for the price of oil from 1950 to today.

Crude Oil prices 1950 to today – Source Macrotrends

My personal experience suggests that every time the price of oil spikes, we have an economic recession. Slowly afterwards, the price crashes due to the massive demand destruction – lot’s of people go broke in recessions and are suddenly unable to purchase things. The mid to late 1970’s was a period of general economic hardship. The price spike in the 1990’s affected both Sandra and I. We were separately made redundant by our employers and had to scramble to keep a roof over our heads and food upon the table. 2008 shows up in the graph, readers may recall those days. And we’re sort of beginning to edge back into that general high price territory again.

The good news is that during an economic recession, the overall waste our civilisation produces, reduces. Mostly this is because people can’t afford to be so wasteful. It amuses me to think back to the mid 1990’s when we sold a faded pink velour couch which was missing a leg and held up by a brick. Nowadays I would have at least repaired the missing leg. But in those economically challenging days, the couch sold, brick and all. That’s what not being wasteful looks like. And during such days, coffee machines would probably get repaired in preference to being junked.

The issue of waste has been on my mind this week, and it wasn’t only the coffee machine which triggered the thoughts. We’ve been setting up a new 600m2 (6,500ft2) combined citrus and vegetable enclosure. The enclosure is really to keep out the wallabies (a slightly smaller forest dwelling kangaroo). There are plenty of wallabies who enjoy the benefits of the well fertilised orchards and gardens here, but some of them are right little vandals.

Grafted citrus trees are deliberately short which makes them easier to pick, and an orchardist can plant more trees in a given area. Things were not always thus, because when I was a child, I recall my grandmother having a lemon tree in her backyard that was so huge, you could climb it. But usually citrus trees are much smaller these days. And that is a problem because wallabies are vandals and they love smaller trees.

Such wanton damage to this Mandarin is hard to explain

So fencing excludes the wallabies from the area where the majority of the citrus trees are planted. It’s a big area, and requires 100m (330ft) of fencing. Rather than buying all new materials, we decided to use some of the scrap materials we had. Most of the timber posts were recycled. And all of the chicken wire used in the fencing was recycled. It’s strong stuff, being a heavy gauge wire, and was originally used to keep the wallabies from destroying the hundreds of fruit trees here. I’m sensing a pattern!

Recycled heavy duty gauge chicken wire was used as fencing for this enclosure

A very strong wire runs both top and bottom, and at the moment the chicken wire wraps around these wires. Eventually there will be two steel star pickets between each timber post. That arrangement should be sturdy enough to keep out even the most determined wallaby.

It’s a large enclosure

There are still a couple of days of work to complete the enclosure. Right now, the chicken wire fencing is only three quarters complete. It would have been much quicker and easier to have used all new materials, but that would be wasteful.

A 13 year old Silky chicken laid that tiny egg

As long as the chickens don’t do anything stupid, like eating eggs, they get to happily live out a comfortable retirement after their egg laying days are done. In the above photo a 13 year old Silky chicken laid that tiny egg, which was fed to Dame Plum. I used to know a lady who kept chickens for their eggs, and at the end of every year she killed them all, and ordered replacements. And no, the lady did not eat the chickens. Talk about wasteful.

The recent warmer weather has caused the tree fern to spring back into life

The weather during the past couple of weeks has been glorious. At this stage of the season there is still a lot of groundwater, and the extra heat is causing many of the plants to grow strongly. The tree fern was vandalised by an itinerant family of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos a few months ago, and we had to cover what remained of the plant with chicken wire so as to protect the newly developing fronds from further outrages. The tree fern has recovered and is now producing many new fronds. We removed the protective chicken wire today.

The extra warmth and energy from the sun really has been something of a boon to the orchards. The shady orchard has sprung into life:

The fruit trees in the shady orchard are loving the weather
The trees in the shady orchard are growing strongly

And in the more sunny orchard, the trees are likewise enjoying the suns warmth.

The colours are superb, and the skies really are bluer down under

The Asparagus in the three raised garden beds are growing spears faster than we can eat them. And they’re very tasty.

There are plenty of Asparagus spears to eat

There’s no shortage of leafy greens to consume either. The greenhouse has been in use for just over a year now, and the building is a real game changer for us.

Leafy greens are plentiful in the greenhouse. Where’s Waldo?

We now also use the greenhouse so as to raise all of our seedlings. The seedlings are germinated in long forestry tubes so that we don’t disturb the root systems of the plants so much when they are eventually planted outdoors.

The seasons seedlings are growing in the greenhouse. And chilli, lot’s of chilli!

Unlike the past three cold and wet growing seasons, there are early signs that it may be a good stone fruit season.

Plums are forming on the trees
It’s almost unheard of that Apricots have some blush at this stage of the season
There are even some Almonds developing

Onto the flowers:

The Succulent terraced garden looks great
Daffodils are still plentiful in the paddocks
Bluebells enjoy the shade of this Olive Tree
Chinese Quince produce lovely flowers

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 651.4mm (25.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 649.8mm (25.6 inches)

35 thoughts on “Tangled, Content”

  1. Yo, Chris – Today (or yesterday .. or tomorrow) is International Coffee Day! How often have you performed major surgery, on that coffee maker? It’s a real trooper!

    Besides economics, as far as being wasteful goes, some people (not enough) are just thoughtful. I have all kinds of little economies, that are automatic. Some are due to economics, some that I just don’t like waste.

    The Wallabies have the same mindset, as the people who cut down the tree on Hadrian’s Wall. 1.) They were bored, 1.) they were trying to impress their girlfriend, 3.) they were eco-offended by a non-native species. Let’s just hope they don’t learn how to boost each other over the fence. 🙂

    Dub her “Crazy Chicken Lady.” I’ve heard of people getting rid of their chickens, over the winter, because they didn’t want to feed them if they’re not laying, plus the cost of keeping them warm. But to waste all that meat. Well …

    Go tree fern! Do you think they’re far enough along, that the birds won’t bother them? Maybe a bit of pepper on the branches? A spritz of BT? Anything to make them less tasty.

    The light looks different, in your pictures. Now I’m banging on about light, like the ranger on Skellig Michael. I think he might have spent too much time on his own. 🙂 But, I don’t know if it’s because it’s spring light, or just southern hemisphere light.

    You’re fruit looks like it’s coming along. The apricot picture reminds me of some of my Currier & Ives lithos, which I dearly like.

    The flowers are lovely. The Quince almost looks like rose buds.

    Well, a great deal of the jelly making is done. But it’s still a work in progress. It was pretty tricky getting the hot “mash” out of the kettle, and into the jelly bag. Then to hang it, to drip in a bowl. Shouldn’t squeeze the bag, or the jelly may be cloudy. Involving a broom handle, the top of my chest freezer, an open utensil drawer and the underside lip of the counter. Rube Goldberg would be proud. Looks like I have enough juice, to go onto the next step, which is cooking it up with sugar and getting it into jars. Then the machine. Gotta walk the dog, first. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    That’s so weird. It is a total coincidence and I had not even known that there was an international coffee day. Maybe the machine knows? Always possible. You’ve heard the rumours perhaps? The coffee machines are coming to get us! Best watch out! 🙂 As far as coffee machines go, it is a great design and totally repairable (as long as you can get the replacement parts). Can you imagine a coffee pod machine still working after fifteen years of daily use? It’s possible, but is it likely? Dunno. It is a real workhorse.

    That’s the thing isn’t it? Deciding not to be wasteful (even when you can afford to do so) becomes part of how a person lives their life. You’re right, it becomes instinctual. Mate, I only mention economics because that sets the absolute upper limit for the wastzeeness (a mash-up of the words crazy and waste, with a little extra oomph, just for good measure and to try and make it sound sort of OK). Makes you wonder how a person comes to that state of affairs doesn’t it? My upbringing kind of forced me to do a lot, with a little, and I never lost the delight in that. But you know, it’s like that book you’re reading – for some folks waste is a display of their status. I’ve seriously offended people by publicly forcing them to reduce their wastage. It was like a battle of wills. And no good came of it. Have you ever tried doing that?

    I quite like Sycamore trees and they grow around here with considerable ease. Spare a moments thought for the older bloke facing allegations with the incident. My understanding is that he just happened to work as a lumberjack and unfortunately live within distance of the tree. I guess the implication is that not all that many folks around there know how to use a chainsaw, probably because there are so few other trees! Far out. Time will reveal the full story I guess. It’s an utterly bonkers situation.

    Fortunately the wallabies don’t move in mobs, and so the chances of them co-ordinating their efforts to scale the new fencing are slim. Not impossible, and the facts suggest that wallabies must get together occasionally and party hard, but yeah, they might have other things on their minds during such rare moments. 😉

    That’s a new one to me about saving on the winter feed. Best be productive around such a brutal pragmatist during the winter months. But the chicken story is not out of the realms of possibility. Honestly, I’ve only ever encountered one person who took such a brutal approach to their chickens. But I take the approach that where there is one, there may be more. It is a waste of the meat. At the very least a stock could have been produced.

    I don’t really know what tricks the sulphur crested cockatoos have in mind with that tree fern. Did you know that the pith of the fern is edible? And I’m guessing that is what the birds were getting stuck into. Early spring is a very tough time feed-wise for the various critters living up here. People forget their history in this regard.

    Obviously the ranger on the island was comfortable with the solitude, but what was it again, three decades in the lighthouse? Out of curiosity, did he operate a ham radio? Was there any mention of such devices?

    Thank you. That’s very high praise. I liked the apricot photo too. Fingers crossed that the storm over the next few days doesn’t damage the developing fruit. Over the summer months, the light here is different than what you’d see during a summer. We’re physically closer to the sun during that phase of the planets orbit. But also, the air is clearer so the skies are generally bluer.

    The Chinese quince does produce some fruit, but mostly it is grown for the flowers. Somehow I’d missed a fruit on the tree last season only to discover it on the ground underneath during the winter months, and of course it was slightly soiled. Hopefully the tree produces more this year.

    Your grape jelly sounds to me as if it is well on its way to producing a good harvest. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy the jelly during the winter and early spring months. 🙂 I assume by your use of the word ‘machine’ you’re referring to some sort of canning process? Hey, I forgot, but I have actually made a quince jelly long ago. From memory it was very good. So, I’ll be interested to hear how your grape jelly goes, once you open up the first jar and taste the jelly.

    I’m just going with my gut feeling here, I reckon I already know what the young lady in question may have to say in that matter. The protagonist Winston, in the 1984 book, was an idiot. 😉 If you ignore the continual random horror of the bombs, the proles in the story seemed to be having a lot more fun. Not to put you off the book, for all I know the book might be a genius story.

    I like your suggestion with the leaf pepper tourists on the basis that it would just work, but it also would make me the most hated person in the mountain range. Not an enviable achievement if I had to say so. 🙂

    Dude, spare a thought for me. This morning I felt jet lagged due to the time shift. Things have not improved, even with a coffee. I’m a finely tuned machine you know! Lewis, by the time your time shift occurs, I’ll be there and support you bro! Far out.

    Had quite the discussion on Philly sandwiches the other day. There’s a local place that specialises in them. Oh yeah, those two modifications are definite improvements. The usual chef may be under some performance pressure next time. Go on, were the biscuits and gravy good as well?

    There is zero chance (or close too) that a Bergamot citrus tree will survive the winters in your part of the world, or here for that matter. For some reason they grow in very hot climates.

    No, I do realise that eventually if left, an unfertilised egg will maybe very occasionally produce a chick. What do they call that, err, parthogenesis? I agree, it would most certainly be an interesting chicken.

    Glad you avoided the shut-down. I wonder that they don’t repeal the legislation forcing them to go cap in hand to the legislature – even though they have a long history of spending more than they earn, all of them. Some habits are hard to break. It’s a lot of trouble that mechanism, but I’m guessing it was intended to be that way. Probably for a good reason, now lost in time.

    Did my civic duty today and went and voted at a pre-polling station. It’s all very low tech down here. Voting is compulsory – historically we were a bit apathetic, so now get fined for not voting. There’s an electoral roll which you have to be on to vote, and you get marked off when you do so. We use paper ballots, with chains of custody for the ballots. All very dull, but it works. I must say that in my days of counting, I spotted some rather artistic endeavours. The cheeky scamps.



  3. Yo, Chris – I saw a headline, this morning. “Grizzly Bear Kills Couple and Their Dog in Canada.” Yeah, let’s re-introduce them to the north Cascades. As it is, there’s been some sightings on the south slope of Mt. Rainier … which is partly in the eastern part of our county. But not verified. My old landlord swears he saw one. And he was a hunter, so he ought to know. Though he also swears he saw Bigfoot, too. 🙂 What, the black bears we have aren’t enough of a danger?

    Maybe your coffee machine took a day off for the holiday? Is it an I-coffee machine? Probably chatting with it’s friends on the internet. Does it have GPS, in case you mislay it in the kitchen? 🙂

    Interesting. I was reading in the book on status and culture, that Old Money buys quality and makes things last. New Money is all about conspicuous consumption and making a show of waste. Also interesting was “In understanding the effects of status on individual behavior, we have arrived at a paramount concern of modern life: Who am I? We now understand the myriad difficulties of landing upon a clear answers. Which “I” are we talking about? There appear to be three: persona, identity, and self. In signaling (status) we build personas – observable packages of signals, taste, sensibility immutable characteristics, and cues absorbed from our upbringing and background. Others use this persona to determine our identity. At the same time, we have a self within our minds, known only to us. Persona, identity, and self are never quit the same. All the additions, subtractions, and redactions made for status can cause our persona to feel like an ersatz, sanitized, cardboard cut-out version of the self. And if others classify us based on this highly edited persona, our public identity may drift far from “the real me.” Interesting.

    I have heard of people who kill their chickens, rather than overwinter them. Maybe not all, but some. But the one’s I’ve heard of, use the meat. Dual use chickens.

    Tree ferns might be like palm hearts. Edible, and from a wide variety of palms. Might even be related, for all I know. Some of our smaller ferns are edible. Tender shoots are supposed to taste like asparagus. Never tried them. Nor palm hearts, either.

    The ranger on Skallig Michael didn’t live in the lighthouse. He had a small cabin, that blew away the first winter. He didn’t spend winters, on the island. But it was replaced with another small cabin, that was in a more sheltered area, and tied down more securely. Not long on detail, but it seems like over the time he was there, it went from no real land communication, to ham radio and onto satellite phone.

    I think the grape jelly was successful. All 6 jars “pinged.” If they jelled or not, I’ll find out later 🙂 . There was just about half a pint of boiled juice left over, so I put it in a jar and in the fridge. I’ll sample it, tonight. I didn’t jell, however, as it had not been processed in the “machine.” It’s the Ball Freshtech Automatic Home Canning System. Does jams, jellies, sauces, pickles, fruits (and more.) Not to be confused with their machine that only does jams and jellies. This is only the second time I’ve used it, but I’m getting more comfortable with it’s ins and outs. It uses less electricity and water. I also like that it pre-heats the jars, so I don’t need another cauldron of boiling water, on the stove.

    You have my full sympathy over the time change whip-lash. I’ll vote for anyone who ends the madness. You’ve done your civic duty. The outcome will be interesting.

    The substitute cook did a fine job with the biscuits and gravy. Tasted a bit more “buttery” than usual. Heck, the woman grew up in her parents restaurant, has worked in several, and, owned a food truck.

    Everything you always wanted to know about Bergamot (but were afraid to ask.)


    So … there’s the tree, and then there’s the flowering herbs. Many, many flowering herbs 🙂 One of the local seed companies carries seed, but I’ve never tried it.

    After a nice weekend, the weather is filthy, today. Master Gardeners didn’t show, as they didn’t show, last week. Pity. The forecast for the rest of the week, is fine weather.

    Our trees are finally beginning to change color. I saw the super moon, a few times, through breaks in the clouds. We had what I’d call our first real autumn fog, yesterday. Still no frost in the forecasts. Lew

  4. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, I have to agree with you. There will most assuredly be consequences should Grizzly Bears be reintroduced back into your part of the world. I’m of the opinion that given there is an apparent need for a Wildlife Human Attack Response Team up north of you, and one that can be mobilised quickly, well I’d have to suggest that we’re not dealing with your average fluffies here. It’s an awful situation, but my mind keeps hearing the tune: “If you go out in the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise.” Clearly people are under estimating the abilities of those bears. And is it my imagination or has fat bear week come around again? Ah, the seasons do so turn. Thanks for the oil article. The dude couldn’t have been much clearer, but my money is on the Grizzly Bears on the basis that their energy needs are lower than the average western citizen.

    I tell ya what, in poor light conditions, seeing a black, grizzly or brown bear would have me thinking that I’d seen Big Foot too. Those brown bears are huge. And the foot is most certainly big enough. The black bears look positively human sized compared to the other two. Best not be involved, ever, with any of them. But just for a second at least, wouldn’t it be fun to live in a world where there was a Big Foot?

    Ha! You knew that was a safe call. 😉 Imagine a coffee machine that has been made in it’s present for form at least forty years, and the sort of bad interweb connection you’d get? I reckon it would sound like one of the those early 56K modems which used to make an appealing beeping and bopping noise when the thing first connected up to the server over a phone line. At least you knew the thing was doing something – technically known as hand-shaking with the server. All sounds rather human to me. And yeah, GPS, very funny!

    Rest assured, no non computing appliances are connected to the interweb here, at least. When I used to speak with the off grid solar community, plenty of them loved connecting up their equipment to the interweb. Like what could possibly go wrong? I’m sure some of those devices get hacked from time to time. What a disaster could eventuate from that. Youch!

    😉 I’d call that observation about old money, a hole in one. Jolly good shot ‘ol chap! Honestly, I’m impressed that the word ‘myriad’ was used in a grammatically correct manner. I’m sure you’ve noted much used of the words: ‘myriad of’? Honestly, I can’t vouch for the grammatical correctness of that usage, but it grates on my reading ears. Wars have been fought over less, you know. Sorry, I digress. OK, get serious Chris.

    So, is the author suggesting that the persona is what a person chooses to display to others as a marker of their status? I wasn’t entirely certain as to what a persons identity actually is, and how that differs from a persona. Most of the definitions of the word ‘identity’ use other descriptive words which I guess you then have to interpret as best you may. One definition of the word ‘identity’ which felt more or less correct suggested: our sense of who we are as individuals and as members of social groups. And that leaves us with the self. Hmm. So to summarise:
    a) Persona – How we choose to display ourselves for the purposes of status;
    b) Identity – How we believe we fit into the social hierarchy; and
    c) Self – The core which remains, irrespective of identity or persona.

    Please feel free to correct my thinking here because this is a complicated subject. If I may hazard an opinion, people tend to attempt to hide their self for many valid and also irrational reasons. I like your hypothesis, and a person has to exercise their free will in order to break away from a more or less average response to the social pressures?

    My mates of the big shed fame process their own chickens, and I have a great deal of respect for people who can, and will do that. Nothing wrong with dual use chickens, it is simply another form of food preservation.

    Oh yeah, it is sort of the same. The pith of the tree ferns is apparently edible, but bitter tasting. The western diet doesn’t tend to have a lot of foods with bitter flavours. It’s funny you mention that about palms, but yes, I’ve read that about some of the palms growing in this corner of the planet. Never tried them either. Here’s a local (ish) variety: Cabbage-tree palm. The nearest stand is far to the east of here nearer to the coast, but I don’t see why they might not grow here in a sheltered and protected location. There is an interesting story about how the palms were used in the early settlers hats, and thugs.

    Oh my! Watching your cabin being blown away by presumably gale force winds may have mentally destroyed a lesser person than that ranger. At such times, a water and wind tight dwelling would be a comfort. Ah, ham radio would have been a boon to the ranger. They tend to work as a form of communication, when nothing else may.

    Speaking of wild weather, the storm hit late last night. And bizarrely the outside temperature was warm at 68’F for most of the night. The wind howled. Being on the warmer side of the night time temperatures for this time of year, I was woken up by the wind noise. I felt hot, so opened the window to let in a bit of cooler night air, and the wind noise then was quite a bit louder! Had a fitful sleep, and the rain began at about 4am and seems to have finished about 8pm this evening. An inch and half of rain was recorded in the gauge. A decent quantity, with more to come over the next few days too. Oops, it’s raining again, quite heavily.

    That’s awesome, and isn’t it satisfying to hear the canning lids go ‘ping’ as the pressure seal does it’s work. We use that method for jam making, and preserving apricots and plums, when there is an excess. Word on the street is your machine is a goodie. I see you can make pickles in it as well.

    Hey, I’d vote for that too, although the time-shift seems to be quite popular. It just messes with my head. And on the other matter, yes, the outcome will be most interesting, and nobody really knows where that may go.

    I see that your Club has found a very capable cook. I do hope that the the lady is a lower stress cook too. You mentioned that in the past there was the odd attack of the vapours in that department.

    My brain is now full of bergamot information, and it was interesting that the plants can grow in vastly different environments. I believe they may have shown an image of the incorrect citrus – that one may well be the Makrut / Kaffir Lime. It has a very distinctive skin that fruit. Good luck if you grab the seeds. Could be useful as the flowers have a long history of usage.

    The good professor may have been writing about down here! Wet, Then Extended Dry, Then Very Wet, indeed. Plus some big surf for those who are so inclined to put themselves to the test against the might of the oceans.

    Cool, and yeah, we had the super moon a few days ago as well. I took a photo, but the image is a bright ball of light in a dark background. It could have been an image of anything.

    I gotta go take the dogs outside in the rain, and check on the water tank inlet filters… Hope I don’t get too wet out there.



  5. I like the smell of coffee in the morning as well, but then, I’ve never smelled napalm, so can’t compare the two.

    Waste- yes, another cultural marker, categorizing the region/country as center or periphery of empire, or energy rich or energy poor. Over at the SEEDS website, Tim Morgan calls our culture a dissipative-landfill system. We use fossil fuels, an energy dense source, to produce things, thus dissipating energy, but then toss said things into the dustbin and then into the landfill.

    On this same planet, in other regions, millions of poor sift though the open dumps next to the city and find things to sell or use, or even eat.


    I’m lucky enough to live in a wealthy country, but my pack rat ways are always driven by aversion to waste, and of course the endorphin rush when I finally find a use for something I’ve been hoarding for a few years. The trick is to remember what you have tucked away, and a creative mind that can see the repurpose potential.

    Well, that was a bit serious, but more and more lately, I stop and acknowledge my luck.

    Chickens- I might have mentioned it before, but many of our hens are in their golden years, so our hen/egg ratio is not up to standards. My wife will not eat an old hen that has worked hard to feed us with eggs. (They can be a bit stringy anyway).

    The commodity egg farms however, with 5,000 or more hens to a barn don’t put up with that slacking. These hens only last a bit more than a year and a half. Just learned that some of these chicken battery farms are being built in our county.

    OK, getting judgmental again, sorry.

    Getting our first colder fall weather this coming week, forecast is for low of 39F/4C this coming weekend. I’m ready for it, the trees have been quite colorful ( we don’t get much of the color tourists here, so all that beauty just goes to waste 🙂 )

    The garden is winding down, I harvested the sweet potatoes yesterday, and that leaves just the brassicas still to go. They are cold hardy, and we’ll be eating kale salads for a while yet.

    Is spam a thing in Australia? I know it is still popular in parts of the pacific, a cultural vestige remaining from WW2, but few eat it here anymore. Anyway, having frugal childhoods, we have a taste for it as well, and occasionally cook up kimchi fried rice with spam as the extra ingredient. kimchi is one of the ways we preserve the cabbage from the garden.

  6. Hello Chris
    Your set up is looking absolutely wonderful.
    Elder daughter and friend have been here for a month. We have been very busy going through things as i am trying to divest of everything that is not essential or very emotionally important. They have set off for Scotland and other places, today; back in 2 weeks for another 2 weeks here.


  7. Yo, Chris – Black bears wander into our town, from time to time. They are usually tranquilized, and hauled back in the woods. “Teddy Bear’s Picnic” is a great song. Done in a minor key, it can sound very ominous. Which I think, is a lot more fun.

    Those computer tones were really cheery. But can you dance to them? 🙂 I had never heard the term “hand-shaking with the computer.” Old computer nerd-speak was a lot more interesting, than the current computer nerd-speak. They should go back to their roots.

    Myriad. “If it’s an adjective, then you would say “myriad gadgets.” If it’s a noun, you would say “a myriad of gadgets.” That means you can use it either way and no one will be able to tell you you’re wrong.” As I clearly have too much time on my hands, I got to wondering if “myriad” and “plethora,” were the same. Almost. “Plethora- a large or excessive amount of something; excess, abundance. Myriad- a very large number of something; countless, Infinite.”

    Yes, I’d say you’d hit three nails on the head, with your definitions of persona, identity and self. To break away from social pressures carries a lot of risk. It may be seen as innovative … or not. I was reading about the Professional Class, last night. They tend to have a lot of cultural capital, usually learned, rather than inherited by the Old Money. They tend to emulate Old Money … within limits.

    There’s an old saying, “Meat on the hoof.” So, I guess, chickens would be “meat on the claw.” 🙂

    The ranger was safely back on the mainland, when his cabin blew away. When he went back the next spring, there was a much more substantial cabin, waiting for him.

    I tested the bit of jelly I put in the refrigerator, last night. The stuff that hand’t been through the final processing. A bit on plane Naan bread and the rest on Naan bread with peanut butter. I think it’s the old problem with my taste buds being ruined by processed food. Even though I haven’t had commercial grape jelly in years, what my taste buds expected, and what I got, were two completely different things. The stuff I made has a flavor profile a lot more subtle and delicate, than the commercial stuff.

    I saw an interesting article, about our military and alternative energy.


    Our military is in an odd position. They’ve known about peak oil and climate change, for quit awhile. But anytime they frame it as such, and need to spend a bit of money, some Congress critter goes crazy. So, they fly under the radar, as much as possible.

    There was also an interesting article about building your own castle.


    I wonder if this is the same castle that they made into a TV series. Some great photos. Probably is the same castle. How many castles are being built in France, right now?

    H and I sent down to the Club to drop off some groceries, for the pantry. Now I’m going to throw her in the tub, and give her a good scrub. Lew

  8. Chris,

    The carving show went well. Although entries were down, the show was a success. I got my customary red ribbon. However, one of the judges (not the one who judged my level) said that my pyrography is improving. That means more than a ribbon of any color.

    Also, the hand is improving. I got a splinter in a “dead spot” on the injured finger 2 weeks ago. It HURT when it went into my finger. “Ouch!” I yelled. “Hey, it hurt! I FELT it! Yahoo!” Yes, I felt the splinter. Good news, that.

    Meanwhile, my closest friend, the one who lives a bit north of Seattle, is not doing well. He has been in hospital for two weeks now. With his many health issues, I’m not very optimistic about his outlook. I’m very glad I visited him in July. UGG

    Hope you get your coffee machine parts soon. When I have to settle for a coffee that is not what I make at home, the day doesn’t feel right. At all.

    Looking at the broken machine brand…Gaggia? As in “Gag ya?” That’s today’s pun, as bad as it might be. 😉

    The waste that is designed into machines is pathetic. Some things aren’t meant to be repaired. Doesn’t stop me from trying, however. Gotta try to repair things and not waste them.

    Oh, one of the older master carvers always donates a life-sized carved and painted chickadee for the raffle we have at the show. Everybody wants it. This year he also donated a plate that he made and then chip carved, as well as what he refers to as a “mosquito house”. It’s a miniature bird house, complete with a perch and a very tiny hole, about the right size for a mosquito. I won one of these several years ago. Then the Princess won this year’s mosquito house. She was thrilled. After the show was over, one of our carving friends invited us over for a few minutes. She had won 2 of the chickadees over the years. She gave one of them to the Princess. That was very nice of our friend and meant a lot to the Princess.

    Some of the dryland grass seed that I sowed has begun sprouting. I’m sure that with this week’s warm weather (22C and warmer) more should sprout and be moderately well established before winter.


  9. Hi Lewis,

    Went to the pub this evening for a pint and a pizza. The pizza’s are sort of small-ish, but we’d recently decided that they were just a bit too big for comfortable sleep after consumption. So, now we’re trialling the sharing of half a pizza, and that seems to be an improvement on previous discomfiture. One of those ‘why didn’t we think of this before?’ moments. Hmm. Anyway, on the way to the local, we drove past the picnic ground and there must have been half a dozen deer in there. Like your black bears, I tend to believe that animals push at boundaries in the search for some sort of advantage. I’d reckon the tranquillise and release would be a never ending job. Bears seem quite intelligent to me based on what I’ve seen of them in footage. In some countries people keep them as pets. Yikes! You’d hope nothing ever went wrong, feeding hour was never missed, or even worse, a person provided disappointing food to a pet bear. 🙂

    It is a great song, and I always loved the mix of the sparkly fun combined with the ominous under tones. Is it a good idea to interrupt a picnic full of bears? Ask those hikers (and their dog) how that worked out for them.

    You never know. There have been plenty of bands who incorporated electronic sounds into their compositions. I once got to experience the full back catalogue of German band Kraftwerk at quite a considerable volume. The neighbours even complained. A notable day. But your point stands, the jarring beeps and bops, whilst making a coherent musical composition, may not be so easy to dance to.

    I’d have to suggest that back in the day, computer folks weren’t making mega-bucks. In my early days of more senior roles I used to put the occasional minor balance which I had no idea what they were about (we’re talking a few minor items out of thousands upon thousands of transactions) to a specific account and made the error of labelling these with a mysterious, and what I thought to be an amusing description: ‘Xmas fund’. It was all very immaterial, but unfortunately for me, I discovered that folks higher up the food chain did not share my sense of humour. Oh my, talk about much ado about nothing. I’d have to say that me telling them that they needed to relax a bit, just angered them even more. Probably what you’d describe as a career limiting move. Far out. You’d think that they’d have bigger things to worry about, but apparently not. Didn’t work there long. Sometimes it surprises me that a minor issue can blow up into something way out of proportion. I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of those incidents? It all began very innocently one day when… 🙂

    Oh thanks so much for the correction with that particular word. There’s always a story to these issues. A very long time ago I encountered a truly fine example of what you might describe as a member of the dreaded: Grammar police. I’m sure you’ve met some over the years? 😉 And so, I’ve got this little tic now whenever the word ‘myriad’ is used. There, it’s happening! (how about this: We are the Knights that say – MYRIAD! (tic) Quail in fright, you might!) You may have cured me of this, but I still need the support group. It really annoys me when some folks can make writing and reading a most un-fun activity.

    To be honest, the concept of ‘identity’ was something I struggled with when replying last evening. It’s a slippery word, and often misused in the quest for conformity. I appreciate your feedback. That paragraph demanded a certain sort of clarity, and it took quite a bit of cogitation. Hmm. Incidentally, I see a bit of both in the professional class, and that’s what I believe you are hinting about when it comes to those words ‘within limits’. In some ways, that particular class of people have to walk in both of those worlds – and that is a problem in itself. I’m not entirely convinced that there is innovation in that particular response. On the other hand, it does involve risk walking away from status.

    Hehe! You’d hope that the chickens claws were cleaned properly prior to consumption. I sometimes can hear the words of the actor Bruce Willis from that food film: “All you have to do is cook the meat”.

    That’s alright then for the ranger. I thought for some reason he may have been there at the time the cabin blew away. With no trees, there’s always plenty of rock on that island.

    It is possible that the commercial varieties of grape jelly you’ve previously experienced may have a higher ratio of sugar than the recipe you used? What’s your thoughts on that possibility? They may also add other fruits into the mixture? Hard to know really. I made a peach jam a few years ago (the previous warm summer) and it was very bland. Turns out, I didn’t really use enough sugar in the mixture to bring out the taste a bit. Berries make the best jams, and raspberry is the el-supremo variety.

    Those military folks are pretty clever for considering likely matters that far into the future, and responding today. All the photos displayed systems which had a wonderful sort of DIY home made look to them. I really enjoyed that aspect. Oh yeah, wise of them to read the room and push for energy security instead.

    The axe dude in the article is correct. The future is low tech.

    And the coffee machine water pump arrived today, and the Editor installed it in the machine. We’ve even looked into why the pump failed and have put on order a couple of reconditioning kits for the pumps (we have a few spares). What we learned was that the pumps are only good for about a 1,000 uses of the machine (or 2,000 cups of coffee). Who knew? Interestingly, the reco-kit can be ordered with a component made from glass, which apparently will outlast the life of the machine. The kits were $5 each. Hmm.

    Go H! And enjoy your bath young lady. 🙂 Hope she was well behaved at the Club too.



  10. Hi Inge,

    Thank you very much for writing those lovely words. It’s a pleasure to share the place with you, albeit in picture and word form.

    The light last week following on from the equinox was particularly sharp. Then a storm hit early Tuesday morning, and we are so back in winter land. Maybe three or more inches of rain has fallen here since then. It is very wet outside. Oh well.

    Yes, I recall that you mentioned the stay was for two months, and I’m glad to read that you’re enjoying a lovely visit.

    Respect too for the divestment. So few have the courage to do that task. The future is there, although we may not acknowledge it. Respect.



  11. Hi Steve,

    Hehe! It’s such a great quote that one. It sticks to the mind. You know I’ve never watched the film. Sadly, my education has been rather deficient.

    Thanks for mentioning (again if I’m correct) the Surplus Energy Economics website. I went to the pub for shared pizza and a pint this evening, so have run out of time to take a look around there tonight. Hmm. It’s bookmarked and I’ll check it out over the next few days.

    But I largely agree with your perspective, and in fact the standard run model of the limits to growth suggests exactly that. We’ll use a heap of energy to create a lot of stuff, produce a lot of pollution, and then we’ll begin to run out and decline. And um, err, landfills are actually pollution. Although you point out correctly that in some countries all that wasted stuff is an opportunity. I’d hate to think how much in the way of metals have been dug up, refined, processed, made into stuff, sold then dumped over the years of the industrial era.

    I’m with you. If it can definitely be useful again in the future, why dump it? That’s a question a lot of people don’t consider. Probably should. But then it takes skills to recover, store, and then know how to re-use materials. Oh yeah, remembering what you have stored is also a bit of complex problem.

    It was a bit serious. And we fixed the coffee machine today, although I can’t claim credit for that. Sandra watched a utoob video on the repair, and followed along. Good stuff. And the old water pumps are going to get reconditioned for future use. The rattle pumps used in those machines don’t last all that long, but are lower maintenance than the pumps used in the commercial coffee machines. The reco kit for the rattle water pump was $5 but had to come from the UK.

    Yeah, I’m with your lady there. Although if I was hungry, I would slow cook the chook, so to speak. And silkie chickens (we only have the one left) have a very unappealing looking purple skin. I’m not sure people process and roast them, but maybe someone, somewhere has. I see, they are used for stocks and soups. You learn something new every day.

    On a brighter note, you might have access to some high quality manure from those battery farms? I’d probably let the stuff sit for a long time before using it, but that’s me. But I don’t really know whether most folks don’t know, or don’t care about such practices. I’d be a hypocrite if I said I hadn’t purchased eggs, but it is from a local farm and they do free-range, but I’m old enough to know the deal.

    No need to apologise, I get on my soap box.

    The weather here is candidly not dissimilar. You know that storm I’ve been banging on about, months rainfall and stuff. Yeah, well it happened, and it’s very wet and cold outside now.

    Kale is a great leafy green, and it over winters here (but doesn’t grow at that time of year) if I get the plants started early enough in the fall. Sometimes you learn things the hard way. Enjoy your greens!

    When I was a kid you’d see spam. We mostly ate lamb. The shift to beef was something which happened in my lifetime. But when I was a kid it was lamb chops or lamb roast. Occasionally a chicken. People forget. But I do recall spam from the army ration packs we survived on whilst roaming around the bush in cadets at high school. Mate, they even let us shoot .303’s at a rifle range. Can you imagine that happening these day?



  12. Hi DJ,

    Great to hear from you and it’s awesome that the carving show went well. However, it is the dreaded mid-week hiatus and we went to the pub tonight for a pint of most excellent local cider (there is a cidery not far from here) and half a Capricciosa pizza. It was a good night, but err, I’ve completely and utterly run out time. Will speak tomorrow, but until then: 🙂



  13. Yo, Chris – Yes, I’ve had several of those “Why didn’t I think of that before” moments. It finally occurred to me, when making my oatmeal and very carefully layering the apples, dried cranberries, and blueberries, that I could just mix them all together, and get the same result. Duh!

    The black bears don’t wander into town, too often. If they do, it’s usually a young one, that doesn’t know any better. But I hear from people that live out of town, that they’re pretty common. The black bears aren’t very aggressive, unless it’s a mom with her cubs.

    I was wondering who wrote “Teddy Bear’s Picnic.” I thought it was Noel Coward, but some guy I never heard of, wrote the music, way back when. Decades later, someone else, who I’d never heard of, wrote the lyrics. What’s interesting is that one big entertainment company owns the rights to the music, another to the lyrics.

    I had a roommate, once, who moved in with us, because at his previous digs, he had played a Yoko Ono album, once to often. He came home one day to find a neat bullet hole in it. 🙂

    Some higher ups, have no sense of humor. Such as, our building manager. I think some of those people are “on the spectrum.” I forget where and when, but once while working for one of the big book companies, there was a cardboard cut out of Mickey Mouse, left over from some promotion. I gave him a cartoon ballon, with the text, “What a Micky Mouse outfit.” Heck, it was on the back of the bathroom door. An in joke, for the staff. But the higher ups didn’t like it, and it had to come down. No sense of humor, at all. 🙁

    I got to thinking about “myriad of.” Some teachers would accept it, others wouldn’t, and you’d get marked down. And, as they have all the power, there would be no recourse. I think, a great deal of education is figuring out a teacher’s view of things.

    Read some more in the status and culture book. Subcultures and countercultures. Interesting stuff. They gain status within their own communities, but not in the wider world. And may experience some pretty brutal push back. But since many are from the working classes, and don’t have much chance of attaining higher status, they’re not risking much. But, sometimes, their innovations more from the “fringes to the mainstream.”

    Well … boo. I checked my jars of grape jelly, and, I have a nice batch of grape syrup. Oh, well. It will be fine on pancakes, french toast, or even poured over vanilla ice cream. Oh, I think I had enough sugar. Six cups to 4 1/2 cups of juice. It was either a lack of pectin, or, perhaps I didn’t keep it at a rolling boil, long enough. I think the difference in the taste aspect, is, what my taste buds think of as a grape flavor, is actually artificial flavorings.

    Good work on the coffee machine! Back in business, again.

    Saw an article in our local newspaper, about a new business.


    I don’t know. It’s not like it’s unique. They’ll be doing pretty much what my local veg store does. They use a lot of local vendors.

    I went and got gas, this morning ($5.10 a US gallon, for regular), and swung by the cheap food store that looks like it should have rats. Didn’t find much. But, I bought a few things for the Club pantry. All tinned stuff. You think they’d get a clue. Why would I pay $1.29 for a tin, when the Dollar + store sells everything for $1.25?

    We get a food box, this afternoon. The commodities box, which usually has some fruit and veg. It’s just like Christmas! 🙂 Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    Just a quick drop-in to say hello and thank you for all of your posts. I don’t expect to comment much for the rest of the year, as I have a lot going on during that time, but I will continue to read and enjoy your posts (and get back to writing more of my own). If I don’t check in to say hello before the solstice, I’ll do so then. Meanwhile, be assured that all is well here and that I wish you and everyone else a good season. Catch ya later!


  15. Hi DJ,

    Out of curiosity, were you able to draw before you took up the hobby of pyrography? And are you beginning to get a feel for what the wood suggests? Glad to hear that the show went well, and um, err, lots of things have been just that little bit different since you-know-what. Respect, unsought praise is an honest assessment. 🙂

    Hehe! Always good when the healing process continues. Digging out an embedded splinter is no fun at all though. I tend to use a sharp and large sewing needle to pick them out, although it helps if the skin has soaked for a while in water beforehand.

    We’ve had just shy of 75mm of rainfall over the past two days. I tell you what though, the fruit trees are loving this season and the rain didn’t seem to knock the slowly developing fruit off the limbs. That’s happened a number of times over the past couple of wet and cold years. Unfortunately, it is now very damp outside. Might be a good time for a burn off.

    All you can hope for is that your friend recovers, or at least stabilises a bit. You did well visiting him back then, and what do you do? Have you considered maybe catching up with him err, soon? Ugg indeed! What would your Vikings ancestors do?

    I’ll tell you a strange tale about the replacement coffee water pump. So, I ordered the wrong pump on ebuy. Yes, it’s hard to believe that a manufacturer could use the same pump model number for pumps with vastly different voltages. That was a new one for me. 🙂 Anywhoo, so I ordered the correct voltage pump directly from the same supplier and used their website instead. And it arrived sooner than the ebuy one. How does that even work? I’m now going to sell the wrong voltage pump off on ebuy. Why not? And, here is the kicker. For one third the price we paid for just one of the pumps, we’ve ordered four repair kits for the pumps. Yes, clearly an act in haste and repent at leisure kind of story. With the assistance of utoob, Sandra installed the water pump and ordered the repair kits. She has a knack for this stuff, and has only recently begun taking an interest in doing this sort of work. The death of the farm machine repair dude a year ago was a solid reality kick. I cannot begin to tell you how much of a load it has taken from my shoulders. And I’m impressed. I hear you, and the coffee patterns are now good – except for the daylight savings bit. We slept in, until almost 10am this morning. My brain has not yet adjusted to the loss of the hour. Oh well… We had to work until much later this evening to make up for the sleep in. No rest for the wicked as they say, but I’d like to think that we’re OK. 🙂

    Very funny! Actually, I don’t know how that word is pronounced. I’ve always imagined that it was pronounced phonetically as: “Gadge-ee-ya”. You’ve piqued my curiosity and I’ll ask my friends of Italian origins. Let’s settle this matter!!!

    Exactly. It is wasteful. I’ll tell you a funny story about those vibrating ULKA water pumps used in coffee machines. There is a diode on one pole of the pumps two power terminals. I have a hunch it is fed by AC, but in reality it is a DC pump that sort of operates on half AC cycles – thus producing the vibration. It’s a noisy pump, but doesn’t require regular lubrication. We discovered that the life cycle of the water pump is about a 1,000 uses (or 2,000 cups of coffee) before the pressure produced becomes too low. You can get repair kits with either plastic components, or pyrex components which will last longer. The cost between the two materials is not great, but which you do guess are used in the original components? Hmm. You’d hope such considerations aren’t made with bridges, but you kind of know the truth of the matter. Ook! You’ve mentioned culverts in the past… 😉

    That’s really lovely, and a very thoughtful gift from your friend. Miniatures are hard because there is so little room for error. Have you checked out the pyrography entry on the wikipudding website? Far out. The dog image burned onto the darker timber captures your eye, and holds it.

    Your timing was really good with the native grass seed. Hope they grow well, and as someone who has been unceremoniously dumped back into winter, 22’C sounds awesome!



  16. Hi Claire,

    Always lovely to hear from you, and hope that your endeavours over the next few months yield a decent harvest. Plus I do hope the winter months are mild for you and that you continue to enjoy the summer sunshine virtually. The last couple of days has sent the recent warmer weather to the delightful land of elsewhere. And with 75mm of rain in two days, and cold air all the way from Antarctica, it feels like winter out there right now.

    Just in case you aren’t able to check in before the solstice, a Happy forthcoming winter solstice to you too. 🙂

    Thought you may be interested to know that I’ve begun reading the book on growing tea you recommended. Who knew that I live in an area which can support that pursuit. You’ve given me much to think about with that possibility. Hmm. Thank you. The one plant we have is growing very well in the greenhouse, but this is clearly a pursuit which will benefit with some plant breeding.



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that’s it exactly: Doh! The thing is right in front of you, if it could only but be seen and known. 🙂

    I’ll tell you a funny story about the water pumps for the coffee machine. The wrong one I ordered using ebuy is yet to arrive in the mail, yet the correct one I ordered direct from the supplier two days later (after realising my error) has already arrived. All the costs look pretty much the same with the postage, so I dunno what is going on there. The pump with the incorrect voltage will be sold off, probably at a loss, but that’s life sometimes. And it was my error.

    Speaking of blueberries, they’re in flower now. Hope to get some fruit, that is if the birds keep away from them. There’s a blueberry farm just up the road, and I suspect the birds learned the value of the berries there.

    I hadn’t known that about the black bears not being overly aggressive, unless they have young to protect. Fortunately the young bears wondering into town may avoid learning too harsh a lesson.

    What an interweb rabbit hole you sent me on! Well done. 🙂 I ended up in Tin Pan Alley of all places, with the final nod to the Who’s classic song ‘Who are you’ referencing that place and an 11 hour legal meeting. Is there a question mark after that song title? Or is it more of a statement, which I believe may be the case here. Sends a strong message, huh? And Noel Coward, what a great. I had not appreciated that he was in The Italian Job film (being his final appearance). A very interesting dude, and I’d have to say, he had a very decent work ethic. Looks to me as if he’d learned by apprenticeship (or on the job) as well. Yes, blame the Teddy Bears Picnic! The split on the rights is weird, and honestly, you’d think by now the melody and lyrics would be in the public domain? A bit like the rights furore caused by the ‘Kookaburra sits on the old gum tree’ song.

    That’s not right about the Yoko Album. But then the response was just so right. Mate, people have been killed for less. My sisters used to play Midnight Oil’s (a down under punk – rock band) classic album known as 10 to 1. At first I hated it, but then after so much repetitive exposure, the subtleties began to emerge out of the primordial punk murk. A bit like the experience of those POW’s who had to listen to I believe Metallica’s ‘Enter Sandman’ song on repeat. It was kind of similar, but different, yeah. Anyway, to cut a long story short – nice shot. 😉

    Possible. Some folks on the spectrum do miss on social cues like humour, but then others can turn that art form into a tour de force, especially if it becomes their special interest. Hmm, yes. So I dunno. I’ve known quite a lot of people over the years on the spectrum (in the higher functioning end), and quite enjoy their company. It didn’t surprise me one bit when we went to the comedy festival many years ago and watched a show with the title of ‘The Aspie Hour’ (a musical to boot!), and the young lady picked me out of the crowd and sat on my lap and performed a few minutes of the show. If I could but wish one thing to be enforced in future – the Editor must give up upon her stated ambitions of sitting in the front rows of such shows. Hmm, it may happen you know. 😉 A thing that interests me about people on the spectrum is that it is suggested that it expresses more in males, but I have this hunch that there are an equal number of females with that wiring, however, the ladies get more heavily socialised, whilst the males resist that (or are indulged). And the ladies probably have to wear masks and learn how to socialise in order to get by. That’s my guess, anyway.

    Lewis, I’ve worked for people like that, and they’re jerks and don’t know any better.

    Ha! You’re good, and yes I figured that out too. The same is true in other areas of life as well, like the people you meet at work. Dunno about you, but I tend to build stories in my mind about the people I interact with on that basis. I think the trick becomes ignoring what the rational part of your mind tells you, instead reach into the gut and look at what the people are doing and saying. Always insightful, because you can project forward to see where things may be headed. Dunno, just a different way of looking at the world. Occasionally I’ve been wrong too, it happens.

    Yeah, I think that’s true. Ideas do float from the outer to the inner core. I’m not sure why, and does the book mention anything about the practical aspects of that journey? I’ve got this vague idea that during times of crisis, more established paths don’t work, and so whatever is around may be grabbed and tried out even if it is on the fringes. They do say that the flip-side of crisis is opportunity, and who knows, they might be right! 😉

    The kiwi fruit jam also failed to set. Ah, you know, I reckon that those and grapes are probably good for the sugars and not so great for the pectin. But do you want to add apples to your grape jelly? You can always open them and work some apple into the jelly? Dunno. It is easy to burn the mix when you do that.

    Go the coffee machine! Happy days are here again! Oh, I finished Mr King’s book ‘Later’ – so enjoyed it. There were times I had trouble putting the book down. Awesome! – and have begun reading the book on growing tea which Claire recommended. The tea book is candidly a bit different to ‘Later’.

    It sounds like an intriguing business, and may take small producers to the next level with that kitchen for rent. Did you notice the reference to garlic? 🙂

    Yikes! I note that oil prices have dropped, but our exchange rate with yours has dropped which means fuel may get cheaper for you soon-ish (depending) but will probably not happen for us down here. Well, I have read reports from economists suggesting that demand for the stuff down here is too high. They also said that unemployment is too low and should be higher. Hmm. Can they read the room? I wonder…

    Happy boxing! 🙂 Hope it’s good.



  18. Yo, Chris – I noticed you had the option of buying Pyrex parts, for the coffee maker. Good to stock up. I forget if I mentioned that the Corning / Pyrex company is out of business. Bought by a private equity firm and ….

    I really think mail deliveries depend on which way the wind is blowing. 🙂 The slower delivery probably faced a strong head wind.

    We’re going to start posting signs. “Rabbit Hole! Enter at Your Own Peril.” 🙂 Noel Coward was in the right place, the right time, with the right product. He really rode the “Bright Young Things,” wave.

    Interesting you mentioned the punks. They figured heavily in the culture and status book’s section, on subcultures. The author quoted a journalist (Nik Cohn), who back in the 1960s, noted that groups rise and fall, followed a similar pattern. “One by one, they would form underground, and lay down their basic premises, to be followed with near-mellennial fervor of a very small number; then they would emerge into daylight and begin to spread from district to district; then they would catch fire suddenly and produce a national explosion; then they would attract regiment of hangers-on and they would be milked by industry and paraded endlessly by media,and then, robbed of all novelty and impact, they would die.”

    When mum and dad start wearing bellbottoms and tie-dye, it loses it’s “shock you’re mama,” cachet. 🙂 Yes, some ideas that move from outer fringe to inner core, are better ideas. But sometimes, some people just make a lot of money.

    It’s always good to mix up your reading. Keeps interest alive. Interesting. There was a conversation at the Club, last night, among parents and grandmas, as to getting kids and grandkids to read. I didn’t contribute much, as they were doing a fine job of it.

    Yup. Garlic is big business, here. What started a couple of decades ago, as a little event, on a local farm, has become a huge event, held at the local fairgrounds. Fringe to mainstream. 🙂

    The food boxes were pretty good. Two pounds of pulled frozen pork, another pack of Naan bread, 2 pounds of almonds (which I broke into smaller amounts, and will take to the Club), a two pound bag of rice, and a two pound brick of cheese product. Two boxes of cereal, some shelf stable milk, a gallon of some apple drink concoction, a couple of one pound packets of pasta. The tinned stuff was lots of cans of corn and green beans. Tinned salmon (2), apple sauce (1). The produce was a huge bag of apples, carrots and onions.

    I received my auction check, yesterday. $850. Which was about $250 more than my high estimate. Once again, it was the Fenton glass, that carried the day. But, that’s about the last of it. But I have a few other things, up my sleeve, for the New Year’s Day auction.

    Saw an interesting article on this last year’s weather …


    I suppose some people will act, and others will wait-and-see if it was a one off.

    Elinor has a doctor’s appointment, so I have H for the morning. I think I’d better go out and water the garden. I’ll be doing that for a few days, until the rain comes back. Lew

  19. Chris,

    Draw? Me? Nope. Still can’t draw, at least not very well. Definitely had no drawing ability whatsoever until the past few years. Sometimes it is still a challenge to draw a stick man with a pencil and ruler. 😉

    Your splinter removal technique sounds similar to mine. This time, however, I left the splinter alone and it eventually popped out on its own. Well, oozed out is more accurate.

    75mm of rain in 2 days. Wow! That is a LOT of rain.

    Friend was feeling a tad bit better Wednesday night. He called me and was able to talk for about 10 minutes. It was good to hear from him. We typically chat every Sunday for 2 hours or more, but he hasn’t been able to talk for a couple weeks until Wednesday night.

    Methinks the Viking ancestors would hope he recovers, accept whatever happens, move on. And hope that they could converse with him. Not a lot else can be done.

    That is a strange tale about your replacement parts. ebuy usually ships fast. Weird. Good on Sandra learning how to repair stuff. Think she could visit us here? My electric edger/trimmer is having problems: the switch is intermittent. I know how to take it apart but am feeling lazy…

    Did I hear something about plastic parts or pyrex parts? My Chevy Blazer S-10, a 1984 model, had all plastic parts in the transmission. Seriously. The transmission blew on one of my hunting trips, but the vehicle was able to limp back to town. The tranny shop I took it to had a rebuild kit with all metal parts. That lasted until I got rid of the vehicle. Plastic parts don’t belong in certain things.

    Hadn’t looked at the wikipudding site for pyrography. Thanks for the suggestion. That dog on olive wood WAS spectacular. I really liked the eyes. I was taught to ALWAYS start with the eyes. Once the eyes are correct, the rest of the dog, cat, eagle, person will seem easy.

    This 22C weather IS nice. The nights cool off perfectly to below 10C. We might actually hit 27C on Sunday before a weak storm front moves in on Monday.


  20. Hi DJ,

    I was wondering about the drawing, but, and here I’m genuinely curious, how does pyrography not involve a form of drawing? Is it different? I’m not much good at drawing either.

    That happens, and I’ve also found that the skin ejects splinters, if they’re not embedded too deep. Sandra long ago had to get a doctor to remove a splinter from her hand, and it was embedded deep enough that the doctor didn’t actually believe anything was there – until he found it and removed it. Gloves are important. Yup. I generally wear leather riggers gloves whenever I’m working about the place. I guess with your carving you’d lose some of the feel of the timber and tools if you wore gloves?

    It sure was a lot of rain, and it is now very damp outside. There was major flooding from this storm over in the east of the state because one mountain in the alpine area received 180mm (Mount Hotham I believe). At least the floods and heavy rain put out the bushfires over there.

    Anyway, it was so wet we had a burn off today. Mate, that’s hard work! We cut and hauled fallen timber and generally cleaned up a small area. Me tired.

    A little lost and very young Echidna (a monotreme) has chosen the shady orchard to take up residence. It’s probably an unwise choice, and I’ve been training the dogs to leave it alone. They’re not enjoying the restrictions I’m placing on them, and dogs generally aren’t good with the concept of sharing. Anyway, Echidna’s eat ants, and the enemy of my enemy, is my friend.

    That’s a bit of a worry, but at least you friend is able to have a conversation now. Yeah, there’s really not much you can do, other than be there for your friend. And the Vikings have a workable philosophy in difficult times.

    The wrong pump turned up in the mail today. Weird, huh? It’s now up for sale. I don’t think so! 😉 You’ve got plenty of free time, and I’m left wondering whatever this ‘free time’ stuff is that I hear so much about! Out of curiosity, is it a Stihl hedge trimmer? We have an electric one and a two stroke version. They do much the same work, except I reckon the electric (and it’s a 240V model) has more torque than the two stroke version. Although the extension cables can be a bit of a nuisance. Anywhoo, I support a strong work ethic, but maybe I’m wired wrong on that front? 🙂

    Plastic probably won’t work in a transmission. If it seems like a bad idea, it probably is and cheap doesn’t perhaps justify that choice to my mind. And metal components will probably survive longer in that use. Sometimes plastic gears are used as a sort of sacrificial item to save the motor or engine, but then the expectation is that they can be easily replaced.

    The dog was amazing, and glad that you also enjoyed it. Thanks for the tip regarding the eyes.

    Your weather sounds very pleasant. It was 12’C here today, and 5’C right now at night. I’d call that cold weather. How’s the native grasses growing?



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the oil article. Always interesting reading. What does grasping at straws mean? I dunno. So the basic gist of the article was the futures traders had been too bearish, and some report said that demand was down. Hmm. They might be right, we’ll see. I tend to agree with you about the ‘don’t worry, be happy (although you forgot to add the and own nothing bit!)’ but I reckon you called it: ‘at least for a little while’. 😉 I sleep soundly, most of the time.

    Oh, that is rather unfortunate for pyrex. I guess there must have been a lot of debt. I’m guessing, a whole lot of added debt. Honestly, as someone who used to work in manufacturing, I do wonder how such destructive activities continue. There is a high cost to that story. But you know, for some folks it’s just more bucks. The thing is, wealth is not money, wealth is stuff and being able to produce stuff, but try telling people that and they just don’t get it. We’re starting to read articles on the economic goings on in Argentina. Yikes! Is this intended as a warning? Behave, or else?

    Hey, the wrong pump, which I ordered first, only arrived today. It’s now being sold off. There is logic to your logic! 😉 And yes, the winds were strong with that one. Far out! Ollie has been popping out some stink tonight. The dogs have a touch of consternation this evening. A little baby Echidna (sort of like a spiny ant eater) has taken up residence in the shady orchard. They’re not marsupials, they’re monotremes, which I believe lay eggs into a pouch. There’s only two left of that line: Echidna’s and Platypuses. Anywhoo, so there is now a little Echidna ambling around the shady orchard just minding its own business, and I’m having to train the dogs to leave it alone. The dogs are resisting, but also have a bit of fear of the consequences – as they should. If I was a hippy I might say: “Why can’t we all just get along, man?”

    Maybe we need trigger warnings for potential rabbit holes? Like say, this subject may lead a person on a deep quest for further knowledge? Does that work for you? Hehe! It’s probably a bit over the top. I see, that makes a lot of sense about riding the wave, but despite the debauchery and hedonism, he seems to have had an astounding work ethic. On the other hand, I don’t really believe in a work hard and play hard mindset. That idea was sold to me in the ‘greed is good’ days of the 1990’s, and it never gelled with me.

    Oh yeah, that happened with the punk scene. No doubts about it. And a little known local band of yours, you may have heard of them: ‘Nirvana’?, had exactly that happen to them. That grunge / garage band / Seattle sound, was eaten up and sold off. I agree, money is involved and that’s when a thing from the fringes becomes a marketable commodity.

    I’ll tell you a funny story about that. We used to fix up houses for profit. And I’m not talking about putting in a new kitchen and bathroom and expecting heaps of mad cash for that. No, seriously run down old houses used to be cheap, and they needed a lot of major work to ensure that they didn’t you know, kind of fall over. That was some serious structural repairs, and not many people were doing that. But then, ideas from the fringes and stuff. And after a while there were shows about people fixing up old houses which mostly seemed like they were getting other people to do the work, and a lot of it was cosmetic. And the budgets were bonkers because that made for a good story, and the expectations were even higher. We couldn’t compete in that, and so gave it up and did something else. People got greedy, so yeah big money ruined that nice little earner. When I first heard the term ‘flip’ and found out what it meant, I was horrified, and knew the end was nigh.

    Thanks! Yeah, I did read three of Mr King’s Hard Case Crime novels in a row, but they came in a nice box set, and were just so good. I was hooked, there you go, I’ve said it, and now feel much better like a little weight has been lifted from my soul. 🙂 You’re right, it is good to mix up reading though, and I mostly tend to switch between a fiction book, then a non fiction book. A little bit of balance doesn’t hurt? Does it? What were some of the better ideas being chucked around? A mate of mine reads to his kids, and I reckon he enjoys that as much as they do from what I can tell of the situation.

    Speciality garlic is big business, and some folks are real connoisseurs. A big festival though. It would grow well in your part of the world. Speaking of which, I’m thinking that I may trial raising some tea camellia’s from seed on the off chance that they’re better adapted to the local conditions than the plant already growing. For some reason I always had it in my head that those plants prefer more sub tropical climates? Dunno why.

    I’d bet the pulled pork would work well in one of those Philly cheese things? Probably they’d be just as good in a Poh Boy. Yum! The boxes do sound pretty good to me too. Are you intending to take some of the produce to the Club for the pantry (other than the almonds)? I don’t really enjoy the taste of dried almonds, but fresh, they’re amazing. It must be the processing and drying?

    It rained again today. This time we were outside working when the heavens opened. Oh well, it happens. The weather wasn’t quite as dire as the prediction and so we decided to go back to plan A, which was having a burn off and clean up of the forest edge. It was hard work, and me tired. But it’s also very satisfying work.

    Well done, and that’s a fine check. Getting more than you estimated is always good. I didn’t see any Fenton glass in the photos of the auction, but then the Christmas and Halloween tat stole the scene.

    What interested me about the article (and thanks for linking to it), was that most of the concerns expressed were people struggling to incorporate the actual climactic issues they experienced, with that of their world view. The world is a dangerous place, why do you reckon we were cleaning up and burning off for hours and hours today? I’m candidly unsure what people expect, but maybe, just maybe, they don’t wish to have their lives intruded upon by natural forces. We received almost a months worth of rain a few days ago, and had to deal with that. Living here is risky, but we acknowledge that risk and try our best to do something about it. That lot could plant and care for some trees to try and cool their areas down. Maybe not use so much stuff. Maybe manage the forests better so they don’t burn up as often. I dunno, there are heaps of things people could do, but do they want to? That’s the question which always pops into my head. So you’re right, I agree, and if it is more than just a one-off, what then?

    Enjoy the watering. Haven’t need to do any of that work this week! 🙂



  22. Yo, Chris – Interesting. I picked up a book from the library, the other day. “You Will Own Nothing: Your War with a New Financial World Order and How to Fight Back.” (Roth, 2023). Thought I’d read what all the hoopla is about. I won’t get to it for awhile. There’s this stack …She has another book, that sounds interesting. “The War on Small Business.” I wonder if our library has it?

    I also picked up Sir Patrick Stewart’s new autobiography, “Making it So.” I read a bit about his early life, and skipped right to the “Star Trek,” part. I probably won’t wade through all his Shakespearean rolls. Well. Talk about status jumping. The very patrician Sir Stewart was born in darkest Yorkshire, about 1940. In grinding poverty. A one up, one down house, with one cold water tap, and no refrigeration, other than a cold box, in the cellar. A coal stove for heat and cooking. A gas ring. And that’s about it. Luckily, the spot in the road he lived in, had a library, and a cinema.

    Corning Glass has a glass museum, with 50,000 objects, covering 3,500 years. Plus extensive library and archives. I was a bit worried about what might happen to that, but it seems to be banging along.

    Echidnas are so cool. I hope you can keep the dogs off them. I see they average about the same size and weight as H. Gives me a sense of scale.

    Mr. Coward’s astounding work ethic supported his debauchery and hedonism. 🙂 You can’t play and party hard, if you don’t pay.

    Nir-who? 🙂 They did wonders for the flannel shirt trade.

    Sounds like the house flippers have the same mindset as some restaurant owners. “I’ll just sit back and manage….” Never ends well.

    Stephen King news. There’s a new “Pet Sematary,” coming out.


    I wondered if it was a movie, or a series. And, I found this …

    “There are three Pet Sematary movies, with a fourth prequel about to drop on Paramount+. The 1992 movie is a very loose sequel to the 1989 original. And Stephen King was not impressed with the result, so-much-so that he had his name removed from the credits and publicity.”

    I’ll probably take the pulled pork, down to the Club, and toss it in the frozen meat box. But, I’ll let the cook know it’s there. If she does anything with it, is up to her. Just out of curiosity, I dived into the rabbit hole, to see what people do with the stuff. There were a lot of recipes on the Australian site, Taste.au.

    Oh, you probably saw a lot of Fenton glass, in the auction photos. It just didn’t register as such. Several of the Halloween figures were Fenton Glass (ghosts, cats, witches, etc..) The Christmas Fenton was “Golden Pinecone,” which had actual metallic gold and paint on glass. Several cobalt blue pieces with either snowflakes or winter scenes. Oh, and owls.

    Well, I picked a lot of tomatoes, this morning, and have them in the dehydrator. That’s it, for drying. I’ll have eight or nine quarts in my pantry. I’ll just eat them fresh, til the first frost. Lew

  23. Chris,

    Pyrography: An Introduction
    Basically, the object to be burned on wood is a picture of something. It is then traced onto the wood via graphite paper, which is more user friendly than carbon paper. Then the wood burning commences. This involves shading, working with lines, and several more advanced things to give depth and “texture” to the burning.

    In my early days of burning, I had to trace a lot of detail from the pictures, so that the burning was more being a technician. As I’ve gotten more experienced, I’ve found that tracing the outlines of, say, an eagle, as well as important parts of the eagle such as eyes and the beak, are most of what needs to be traced. Feathers and such details can be burned while looking at the original picture. So, in a sense, I am doing some drawing while burning.

    My most recent piece was nothing more than one dragon performing the Heimlich Maneuver on another dragon, a knight flying through the air as a result. It was a cartoon, so was mere outlines. I added detail to the dragons and a grassy slope for them to stand on – all freehand with the burner. I once watched our expert woodburner take a piece of wood and his burning tool, burn onto the wood a great 3-D hamburger complete with a visible slice of pickle, dripping sauce, and a bite taken out of it. Took him 10 minutes. Something to which I can aspire.

    I emailed you a picture of my latest woodburning with some discussion of how I did the artwork.

    When burning, I might wear a thumb guard on the hand that holds the burner. Sometimes that part of the burner can get hot. When carving, I always wear a leather glove on my left (non-carving hand) at all times. (Well, unless I’m putting a tool through a cork and into my finger. Ha!) I also wear a thumb guard on my carving hand. Exception: when chip carving, I do not wear the glove. I prefer to wear the thumb guard on the carving hand so the thumbnail cannot do weird things to the wood.

    Coo, 180mm of rain in that short amount of time should do something to stop the wildfires! That is a LOT of water. On one of our late season hunting trips, beginning in late November, we set up camp, had an evening hunt and dinner. The next day it was raining. Water and puddles everywhere. Wet enough that starting a fire was difficult. Found out later that a nearby town had gotten 180mm rain in 24 hours and that the mountains where we were had gotten up to 280mm. No wonder I felt like I needed gills in order to breathe that day! We breathed in a lot of woodsmoke.

    Then one of the guys mentioned that he had asked my sister to marry him and she said yes. (They’re still married.) We then celebrated with too much alcohol, too many cigars and more woodsmoke. We were all in rather bad condition the next morning. 😉

    Hope the dogs stay away from the echidna. Those are cute animals and provide a necessary and welcome service to any gardener and orchardist. Wish I had one for my yard. However, the local flickers tend to eat a lot of ants and visit the yard several times a month during peak ant season.

    The Vikings were an inspiration to my motto of “accept, adapt, move on”. Seems a lot more useful and pragmatic than “plunder, pillage and ravage”, at least in this day and age.

    Oh, man! I told I on myself, didn’t I, by saying that I was too lazy to perform the switch repair. That’ll teach me. 🙂

    No, the tool in question is a Black and Decker electric weed eater. I have an electric Stihl hedge trimmer that I totally enjoy. In fact, Sunday is shaping a up to be a day in which the Stihl gets a lot of use.

    The native grass seeds are sprouting, albeit more slowly than I had hoped. But what has sprouted is growing like crazy. More keeps sprouting daily. A lot of it SHOULD be well set before winter.


  24. Hi DJ,

    Many thanks for the primer on pyrography. I’d not heard of graphite paper before. Hmm. It’s an interesting material, and you sent me on a rabbit hole into how this stuff is produced and used. My advice, don’t look, you may not like what you find.

    Like you, I too would have to trace. It’s a bit like learning how to ride a bike isn’t it? And the expert wood-burner producing an image of a hamburger in ten minutes is really quite something else. Some people have a real gift, or a huge amount of experience, or maybehaps a mix of the two.

    Any content you place in the work which isn’t traced, to my mind is drawing. So yeah, we’re in agreement.

    The knight flying through the air (you hadn’t mentioned that aspect previously) is a hoot of a concept! Yes, spare a moments thought for the poor choking dragon. 🙂 It’s pretty funny.

    The image has not yet arrived. Ook!

    As a bit of comparison, and for your interest, the projects here and how we get the land to look (as you see in the images each week), kind of reveal themselves a little at a time. In a strange way it reminds me of what you wrote about begin with the eyes and the beak, and take it from there. The eyes and beak in my case would be ‘what are we trying to do here’. There’s a bit of letting go to that outcome, but it takes effort and does not come naturally to me. Although with practice, it does get easier, but it is still not a natural process. I’ve known people who can play music by ear, and such skills are not for I! Oh well, work with what you’ve got.

    Yeah, spare a thought for the people in the eastern part of the state who went from fires to floods within days. Bonkers weather, although the 75mm was well received here. We’ve set the place up to handle such deluges. One year we endured 250mm in 4 days, and that was also bonkers and probably unlikely this year.

    Yikes! 280mm is the whole next level of wet. 🙂 On the other hand, such moments of impending union, are a thing to celebrate, rain be damned. Although, checking the forecast beforehand may have curbed the worst effects. 😉 Mind you, from your words, I get the distinct impression that the rain was blithely ignored during the celebrations. Hey, I never used to read the weather forecast and ponder the implications either, until I had the entire kitchen in the backyard and a supercell hit late one evening. Youch! The kitchen cupboards were destroyed and the backyard had to be pumped dry.

    Speaking of the weather. Today was another lovely cool and sunny day. It being super damp everywhere, we continued the burn off. After two days, me doubly tired (please excuse the dodgy maths pun)!

    Interestingly, the echidna did a no-show today. Possibly the critter moved on to less challenging environs? I know the dogs didn’t get the echidna because I would have had to pull the spines from their faces. Oh yeah, echidna’s have dealt with Thylacines and then Dingoes for a long time, and they’re like little armoured ships and when threatened, they simply dig down and hug the ground. People and cars are their big worry.

    Ah, flickers are a variety of woodpecker. Yes, those birds would love ants, I can see that. The ants here are bull-ants, and their bite and chemical spray is apparently worse than fire-ants. Some Australian scientist got himself bit or stung by all manner of insects so that he could produce a pain scale. Bull-ants are right up there, and I largely agree with that. Not your mates, those angry critters.

    There’s even a tree which will get you down under: This man lets critters sting and bite him for science. Here are his top three most painful. The local bull-ants are also known as ‘jumping jacks’ and rate a 3 out of 5. Ouch!

    Stihl Sunday! Nuff said! Hope the weather is nice for the outdoors work. And hedge trimmers are amazing machines. Unsolicited helpful hint: Spray the cutting edges with WD-40 or we use Lanolin spray at the end of the days use, and that helps break down the vegetable gums stuck to the cutting edges. I don’t normally provide unsolicited helpful hints, but an old timer mechanic told me that one, and it’s good, so why not hand it on?

    Out of curiosity, how do the native grasses cope with the snowfall, and presumably frozen ground of your winters?



  25. Hi Lewis,

    I’m already liking the sound of that book about fighting back against such bonkers new economic world order. To be candid, when I first heard that line about ‘owning nothing, and being happy’, I thought the authors may have been smoking a little bit too much weed, and then recorded their inebriated conversations. Mate, I fully understand, the stack of to-read material never gets smaller. Isn’t it weird how that is the case? You start reducing the stack of reading material, and before you know it, new books arrive. How’s that even possible? It’s a devious plot, you know!

    Please, when you find out what the hoopla is all about, pray do tell. In my visions of the future, that lot don’t figure. Now graphite, there’s a material with a huge amount of uses. Turns out, the primary source is the land of stuff. Takes a lot of energy to produce synthetic graphite, oh yeah. It doesn’t take much energy to produce a lot of hot air.

    The war on small business, heck, that’s my life! The war is going poorly Brother Lewis. Far out, the red tape which gets layered on is bonkers. I still recall doing accounts for businesses on paper. I reckon it takes longer now, and there is less room for error. Mistakes being impossible to avoid.

    It’s been years since we’ve visited an open garden. The open garden scheme down under used to have a very wealthy patron. And then the patron died, and the scheme kind of also died. Have the current batch of super wealthy folks not understood that they are required to provide noblesse oblige? Hmm. Anywhoo, the owners of a very lovely nearby old garden opened it to the public today. There was a fee of course, part of which was a fund raising event for the local Woodend volunteer fire brigade. The garden is known as Flint Hill (Woodend). It is possible that the huge insurance fees for such events also stymied them.

    That’s a great title for a biography on Sir Patrick! I’d have to suggest that an experience of poverty can for some people be a wonderful kick up the backside, and provide drive for their work ethic. Not to mention other values such as resourcefulness and prudence. Hmm. It’s only when we consider that abundance can go on forever and ever, and increase, do we ignore such careful husbandry of our resources. But that is merely my opinion.

    Libraries and books are wonderful things aren’t they? And cinemas too. We’ve spoken about the old double feature matinee on a Saturday afternoon before. I have nothing but fond memories, even when my sisters ditched me during the 1980 sci-fi horror film ‘Alien’. Scared the daylights out of me that film, but it was an excellent story and well told. Don’t mess with aliens was what I took away from that film.

    Have you learned any interesting or charming anecdotes on Sir Patrick’s time with Star Trek? We’ll just whisper this next bit: He was a better captain than William Shatner.

    Good to hear that the museum wasn’t loaded up with debt, then shut down and sold off.

    Echidna’s get quite large, and they’re about during the summer months. I like them because they eat the ants, and turn over the soil. The echidna disappeared today, I reckon it moved on late yesterday afternoon. They do seem to ever only be temporary visitors. Regardless, I kept a very close eye on the dogs today. I’d have known if they’d been stupid enough to attack the echidna, because I would have had to remove the super sharp needles from their face. And that didn’t happen. The animals have evolved around Thylacine’s and then the Dingoes for a very long time, so dogs are not much different. Their defences are very clever, but that puts them at risk from people in their cars, unfortunately. I stopped the other day to give way to one, and another vehicle was less patient. Hmm. The Echidna was fine, but still.

    Man, that is so true. If you have no mad cash to splash, then people aren’t going to want to party with you. The bloke seemed as if he was earning enough that his manager embezzled mad cash. Partying too hard perhaps? What surprises me is that such things happen when people take their eye off the ball. It’s almost a cliché.

    Hehe! Sure, sure, sure. You know, I kind of enjoyed the grunge era, flannel shirts and stuff. And somehow the really angry thrashy music kind of spoke to me. Although, candidly I have not worn a flannel shirt since those days.

    I’d never thought of the house flippers employing that particular mindset, but yeah, that fits. Hmm. I’m going to ponder that thought.

    Cool! Sometimes dead is better. The trailer looks good, in fact it looks very good. Did I notice David Duchovny in the cast? Scary stuff. Thanks for mentioning it, and I’ll see if I can somehow sneak it onto the to-see list, although it may leave me with nightmares.

    Pulled pork is very tasty. It’s kind of shredded thus the ‘pulled’ label, but you already knew that. The Vietnamese immigrants since the 70’s introduced the Bánh mì which comes in all forms. One of my fond memories from travelling in that part of the world was the street sellers who’d have French loaves / Baguette’s and they’d ride around on their push bikes selling them. They were very good indeed. I can’t help but recall the time in that part of the world when the Editor went to some dodgy cultural show thing, and I declined and sat in a small cafe enjoying coffee, eating small cakes and pastries, and just generally taking in the ambience. Some travel is quite good, just avoid the cultural show things.

    No way! I had not appreciated that the items on display were made from Fenton glass. Those would have been good pieces, and I’m glad that you were well remunerated. The owl would have been very cool. I’m surprised that you parted with that one.

    When do you reckon the first frost will be for you?

    The burn off was still going this morning, so we continued the clean up work. Me tired, but pleased. When doing the work, I peered across the small gully in that section of the property and was being watched by a very large and dark coated wombat next to a tree fern. That may be the lair of fatso the wombat. He’s big.



  26. Hi, Chris!

    What a nice machine. That’s something that you want to keep going because you never know if the next one you buy might not be a case of crapification, not to mention a higher price, when money is already worth less than it was. Perhaps you have fixed it by now, I am so late getting over here, and will not need a Plan B. I have a small wire mesh basket that supposedly one can make coffee in. I do not know about that as I don’t drink coffee (though I love the smell) and visitors get coffee from an inexpensive coffee maker machine. No, I don’t think it’s a machine, just shoots water through it and heats it up. Anyway, I doubt if most people would try to fix their coffee machines even if a new one was over $800.

    Your oil price chart is wonderful – thanks! I immediately noticed that the highest prices correspond to recessions. And that is what you state. Uh, oh . . .

    Good luck with the wallaby fence. I know how much trial and error we had building deer and groundhog proof fences. Squirerls we have given up on. By the by – Charlene the White Squirrel has not been seen for 2 months. She was nine years old and I am afraid that time – or a hawk or fox – finally caught up with her, though she was as spry as ever the last day that I saw her. At least we still have her son, Junior the White Squirrel, aged 1 and a half. I doubt if he will ever be the character that she was.

    What extra lovely photographs (“Hey” to Ollie; don’t know where Waldo is). Thanks for all of those and the beautiful fruits and flowers. We still have ripe figs and now the pawpaws are coming in, also a few chestnuts from a small tree,


  27. Yo, Chris – I checked last night, and our library system does not have the author’s book on the war on small business. Might have to interlibrary loan, that one. Or, if it’s cheap, I just might buy a copy. I checked out the library “new” list, last night. I’m so excited I could just plotz. 🙂 “Barbie”, was on the list. I have it on my hold list. Might be inspired to paint a wall pink, or something.

    I got curious about pencils. I know they are graphite, these days, but you always hear about a lead pencil. Turns out, pencils were never made of lead. However, for whatever reason, the graphite in pencils was painted with white lead.

    Well, if you can remember when accounting for businesses was done on paper, you must be old. 🙂

    So, did you see anything at the Flint Hill Garden, that you want to acquire? That was one of the plot points, in that movie I watched, “The Master Gardener.” The wealthy lady opened her garden, once a year, as some kind of fund raiser. Those whole set-ups reminded me of one of the plots in “Fire Country.” There’s a lot of tension between the firefighters, and the private fire fighting companies, that the rich employ. The private company defends the billion dollar house. The wild land fighters defend the woods. The company people really don’t know what they’re doing, and create more problems than they solve.

    Oh, lots of stories from TNG. Gene Roddenberry really didn’t want Mr. Stewart in the part of the captain. But, by then, he was such a pain in the … ear, that Paramount had taken away a lot of his power. It wasn’t up to him to do the casting. He used to show up on set, once in awhile, a glare at Stewart. Luckily (?), he died about the third season. The actors all got on well, after a few bumps during the early seasons. It was all in jest (and Stewart saw it as such,) but they always used to tease him about his “poverty mentality.” He was pretty much on his own, in LA, and always lived in very modest digs. Every Saturday, he would wash and fold his own laundry. They just couldn’t understand why he didn’t send it out, or get a housekeeper. When the series really took off, they all bought pretty flashy cars. He bought a thrifty Japanese compact. When out on the town, and the valet would bring up the cars, the rest of the group would pretend not to be with him. 🙂 Though he didn’t quit believe in such things, or seek them out, one of the places he had in Hollywood was haunted.

    I hope I’m getting the full story on the Corning Glass Museum. It would be tragic, to lose it. Once, when I did an interlibrary loan on a glass company I wanted information on, the book came from that museum. “Library Use Only.” When the city of Detroit went bankrupt, their world class museum was in danger. There was crazy talk about selling it off as assets.

    I see Echidna have a home territory of about 250 acres. They are solitary, but not particularly territorial. They’re smart enough to use drainage culverts to get across roads, when they are available.

    I didn’t have to break out my flannel shirts, at all, last winter. It was that warm.

    Yup. That was David Duchovny. I saw a review of the movie, last night, and it was good.

    The Fenton owl, along with a couple of other owls, brought $90. A Fenton Halloween dog, cat and ghost brought $250. A single Fenton ghost brought $160. The Barclay lead figures (2 lots) brought $80. I don’t know. The few things I’m keeping, I feel some kind of an attachment. Hard to explain. Varies from item to item.

    When will we get our first frost? Well, looking at my five years of records, the latest frost we had was November 8th. That was last year. The earliest frost was four years ago, and it was September 28th. It was cool with a morning fog, today. But it’s supposed to hit 83, this afternoon. I’ll go out an water, after visiting here.

    So, did you get the creepy feeling of being watched, before you noticed the Wombat? 🙂 I forgot you had wild tree ferns on the place.
    Here’s a fuller report on the Grizzly bear attack, up in Canada …


    Is there Wombat spray? Lew

  28. Hi Lewis and Pam,

    A truly epic and massive hardware crash took me out this evening.

    First the modem decided to play up, probably due to the telco upgrading the hardware at their end (they sent a text message saying they were working on that hardware) and then the modem required a firmware update.

    That was bad enough, then. And then. I did it. That was the exact moment when Windows did a major software fail, it was actng weird, and so I powered the computer down. When I switched it back on again, there was nothing. I couldn’t recover anything. It’s all gone.

    I haven’t lost any data because that is kept on a separate drive, but there are some programs I’d paid for, that are now gone. Hmm. I may have to re-pay for them. Oh well…

    Please bare with me in this minor moment of utter computer crisis.

    I’ll get back up and running first, then try to write something for tomorrow, although it may not be at all like my usual chatty self. Ook! Hang in there!



  29. Hi Chris,
    I’m just getting to reading all the comments and here at the last one you report a major computer crash. First your coffee machine and now this!

    Been busy wrapping up things outdoors before the real cold gets here so haven’t been able to comment lately.

    We had well above average temperatures last week and now they’ve plunged 30 degrees – lower than normal. Also have 3 days of rain (which we still very much need). Besides harvesting and starting to get the garden beds mulched for winter I’ve been visiting some of the numerous natural areas around here. Just yesterday I went to an open house for a new site owned by the Natural Land Institute which will now be opened to the public. Learned quite a bit about the value of willows and dogwoods to especially birds. Speaking of birds sadly a record number of migrating birds were killed Thursday night when they flew into the lit windows of McCormick Place in Chicago. https://www.cbsnews.com/chicago/news/nearly-1000-migrating-birds-killed-after-crashing-into-mccormick-place/

    The greenhouse is sure paying off for you. Well worth all the work you’ve put into it.

    We have an extra coffee pot, though not so fancy as yours, just in case of a breakdown. Wouldn’t want to have a coffee emergency one morning.


  30. Yo, Chris – Oh, wow. Hang in there. I can think of nothing to say other than, sorry for your loss.

    Biscuits and gravy, for H and I? Maybe. Maybe not. It’s a crap shoot. AT least, last night, there was food to be had. We’re back to soft tacos. Tasty.

    It hit 84, yesterday. Here’s the weird part. As soon as the sun set, the temp dropped almost 20 degrees, in just over an hour. Forecast for today is 76. Still no frost in the forecast for the next week. Lew

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