Goats Track

The other night I was watching a utoob video of some off grid dude making the most extraordinary claims in relation to ‘off grid’ living. He was up in the far north of the US, and clearly ‘off grid’ means something different up there. Not being connected to the electricity grid, is what those words refer to down here. But I understand the guys point, it is just that all the talk about ‘the one true way to off-grid living’ rang false to me.

He had an interesting strategy though. He and his family would live in a very remote area where they constructed basic houses using the local materials. Then he’d sell the houses for profit, before moving onto the next project. You couldn’t do that down here due to building codes – talk about a serious buzzkill! However, we did a similar thing in the big smoke, but with older houses in need of fixing up. And I’m talking serious structural repairs, not some cosmetic makeover for the house. But overall the aim was the same, basically to minimise, then eliminate debt.

The only downside is that a person generates a sense of rootlessness when moving from place to place making mad cash – and the cash isn’t always guaranteed either. We lost a lot on our first house. And many years later, I noticed that someone had demolished the work we did do, talk about sending a strong message about that not being our finest work! Anyway, after years of moving around, even the most fervent wandering spirit goes in search of a place to put down roots.

I’m a long time fan of the series Grand Designs UK. It’s been in continuous production for 24 years, and the stories of people attempting to construct a unique house follow a similar story arc. Where they finish, that’s the intriguing bit. At first there is a good dose of hubris and laughs. The folks involved pretend that they’ll miraculously construct a unique house for less than the mad cash (not to mention oodles of debt) they have available, and that the thing will be completed in record time too. They all do it. You would think that the folks would have watched earlier episodes and say something honest, like: “we have no idea what we are doing, how much this thing will cost, and how soon it will be completed”. This season, a recurring theme has been the inflationary pressures, and already two builds were simply not completed, and it’s not like there is any time pressure to complete the things – they take what they take. Interestingly, in both cases, money concerns were cited.

The joke is that completing the construction of a house, is merely the beginning of a much bigger journey. Unless you’re rootless of course, then you sell up and move onto the next project. But to connect to the land and the wider area and community, is a whole different set of skills and experiences.

Did I mention that it all began with a light bulb? Truly, it did. The light bulb in the tall Victorian era reproduction lamp post out front of the house had failed. After a month or so, and with a few free moments, the lamp post was dismantled as I tried to work out what had gone wrong. Poor design meant that rainfall had gotten into the electrics and corroded connections. It was an easy fix, and a couple of drainage holes were drilled for good measure. The spiders appreciate the drainage holes! A replacement light globe was installed, and all was again good with the world.

Except that now the lamp worked again, the area on the other side of the lamp post (further away from the house), looked like: ‘not our finest work’.

The house construction took eighteen months for us to complete from beginning to the finalisation of the paperwork. We’d moved into an unfinished house in September 2010, but no matter, it was home. The final paperwork was completed not long afterwards. Since then we’ve worked towards making the land here work for us. There are so many things to do: firewood; water; electricity; shedding; paths; fencing; orchards; greenhouse. The house was the easy bit.

So, after fixing the lamp post, and admiring the ‘not our finest work’, and accepting that it was wanting, we decided to do something about it. That’s how the low gradient path project came to be. It’s not quick, it’s not easy, but it is satisfying. And the slowly developing path is super solid. It also solves a problem of winter access.

Getting from the house to the chickens wasn’t always easy. For the first eight years, the path was a goats track running through the shady orchard. Here is what it looked like in 2016:

Winter snow flurries fall over the shady orchard back in mid 2016

There’s always a defining moment when change becomes necessary. That was me cracking the absolute sads, because the electric log splitter had fallen over whilst I was pulling it along that goat track. The machine weighs 90kg / 200 pounds, and at the time was very unwieldy (the machine has since been modified for improved stability). Something had to change.

By 2018, we’d begun constructing a four foot wide all weather path connecting the house to the chicken enclosure. It was a massive improvement on the earlier arrangements.

A new path was constructed in 2018
The 2018 path eventually reached the chicken enclosure and spare firewood shed

The new path was good, but the last little steep section climbing uphill towards the house was seriously steep. Pushing a wheelbarrow full of firewood, was seriously hard work. Sometimes a bloke doesn’t need to go to the gym!

As the years went on we purchased a number of machines to assist with the work around the property. The machines could mostly use the path, but it was tight and there were times the weight of the machines applied a lot of unnecessary pressure to the downhill side of the paths. The rocks used on that lower side of the path were never intended to support such weights.

We could do better, and that is where the light bulb came into the story, and the low gradient path project was born. The path was widened considerably, and the downhill side of the path is now supported by much larger rocks. Also, the steep section closest to the house has been built up with soil, and a rock lined drainage basin (the one with the large Tree Fern) was constructed so as to control the flow of water from in front of the house – which now has to travel under the elevated path via a culvert pipe.

And that’s what we’ve been working on lately. The project will take months to finish. It isn’t entirely necessary to do this work. A person hoping to construct the house and make some mad cash, would have long since moved on.

The low gradient path project requires a lot of soil and rocks. Fortunately, there are a couple of other projects on the go, that are delivering soil and rocks. One of those projects is a much larger firewood shed on contour with the house. The area set aside for the future firewood shed has to be levelled. Those ground works are providing a lot of soil. Also the rock wall in that area, which retained the soil in a very steep garden bed, was constructed almost a decade ago. And it’s not very good – soil washes over the top of it.

Months ago we’d done some preliminary digging, then waited whilst inspiration struck

The above image shows the dodgy rock wall, and some preliminary digging which was done months ago. This week we spent two days excavating soil from the future firewood shed site. The dodgy rock walls were dismantled and replaced with two steel rock gabion cages. That rock wall when complete, will eventually require about five steel rock gabion cages, and two so far is a good start! An electric jackhammer breaks up the clay into solid clods. The rototiller then breaks apart the clods, and the now fine soil is shovelled into a power wheelbarrow and walked over to the low gradient ramp project. The contents of the wheelbarrow get dumped there, and they are used to build up the ramp.

The author shovels the broken apart clay into a power wheelbarrow
Two steel rock gabion cages will retain the soil on this steep garden bed

Once the soil is dumped on the low gradient ramp project, a rake is used to smooth out the surface. Compaction of the soil is achieved by simply walking on the path. A layer of the crushed rock with lime also sets the surface hard in only a few days.

The low gradient path is progressing nicely
And has almost reached the chicken enclosure

There’s still plenty of work to be done on that path project before it is completed.

At the end of the first day of digging, whilst returning the roto-tiller to its shed, smoke was seen coming from the gearbox. I immediately switched the machine off, put it into neutral and walked it back to the shed. A couple of days later we discovered that a bolt holding the arm for the reverse gear had worked it’s way loose, fell, and become stuck against the metal housing and a drive belt. It is not wise to re-use the bolt, so that was replaced. There is some damage to the belt, but it’ll probably be fine, maybe. Whilst we had the guts of the machine exposed, the roto-tiller was given a full service.

A bolt became lodged in the drive belt of the rototiller

It was only this little corner of the continent where the October weather has been below the long term average. Every other part of the continent was hotter on average. All the same, I noticed a summer weather loving stick insect, had taken up residence on the house.

Stick insects get quite large here

Tree frogs have also been taking advantage of the swimming opportunities in the dogs water bowl.

A Southern Brown Tree Frog enjoys the dogs water bowl

With October being quite cold, the tomato seedlings are weeks behind where I’d ordinarily expect them to be.

The tomato seedlings are way behind where they should be

On the other hand, the Japanese Ginger plants are going feral! I can’t wait for them to produce the edible flowers.

Japanese Ginger is going feral in the greenhouse

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums love the conditions here
The insects and honeyeaters are all over the Geraniums
Local Clematis vines crawl through the garden beds
It’s Rhodie time!

The temperature outside now at about 11am is 19’C (66’F). So far this year there has been 752.8mm (29.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 751.4mm (29.6 inches)

35 thoughts on “Goats Track”

  1. Yo, Chris – What I always get a chuckle out of, is living off the grid books. Everything you need to know in one volume! They are thick on the ground, out there. Single chapters on everything you need to know! From chickens, to cheese making (and, attendant animal care), a garden, food preservation, alternative power, beekeeping, etc.. It’s all there! Heck, I had two of the “For Dummies…” books on chickens, resorted to the internet, frequently, and still didn’t know what I was doing, half the time.

    There was a recent story, here, in the last six months. Three members of a family, went into the wilderness to “live off the land.” They had books! They all died. Found their scattered remains, in the spring. And who can forget the “Into the Wild” kid, up in Alaska?

    Another article, recently, was about a family who moved out in the boonies. One of the family members had some serious health problems. They didn’t dream, that quality medical care would be so hard to access! My friend Scott always bangs on about “following an idea through to it’s logical conclusion.”

    Well, “The Murdoch Mysteries” are up to season 16. So what? 🙂 Here, I think, that whole “striking off into the wilderness” is all about independence, which is some kind of a national ethos, that goes way back. Helps to be young, healthy and lucky. As far as the “Grand Designs” people go, “Hope springs eternal in the human breast,” (Pope.) I’m sure some of the folks hope displaying their foibles and follies on TV, will give them enough money to fill a gaping hole. I wonder how many projects end up on the cutting room floor, as they’re on time and on budget. That wouldn’t make very good TV. 😉

    Got it. Never change a light bulb. I’ll just hold out until the dust bunnies get organized, and come for me. Might explain why the light standard in our parking lot, has been randomly flickering on and off, for well over a year. Always catches me at the most inopportune times.

    Are you sure that isn’t where the bolt is supposed to be? Maybe it’s where the bolt wanted to be. 🙂 Good you caught it, before it did serious damage. To the machine, or you.

    All the new paths and upgrades … well, needs must. A lot of work, but useful, functional and aesthetically pleasing.

    The stick insects and frogs are a delight. I hear plenty of frogs, around here, but have never seen one.

    I figure the Japanese garlic flowers will taste like chicken. 🙂 So are the roots edible?

    The flowers, are as always, lovely. I think you post pictures of them, just to strike jealousy and envy into the hearts of us less fortunate. 🙂

    I saw an article, yesterday, on making furniture out of cardboard boxes. Not that that’s a new idea. But I have never seen such seriously ugly furniture.


    Doesn’t have to be that way. Search, “Vintage paper mache furniture images.” I remember books in the 1960s, on making paper furniture. And it was a heck of a lot more aesthetically pleasing. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Seriously, it would take a single volume just to discuss and explore in detail, pretty much any aspect of living off-grid. I’ve seen those books too, and yeah, had no idea what to make of them. 🙂 Who tells you how to deal with a psychotic, or even recidivist egg eating chickens? And, I remember saying at the time of the egg-eater incidents, that most of the advice I received was probably made more palatable for the public than the circumstances warranted. So yeah, like you said, getting things right, half the time! It’s a gift!

    We’ve spent the past thirteen years sorting out the infrastructure. We headed out to the local pub for a pint and shared a pizza for dinner this evening. It was a lovely evening, no wind, 68’F and really very pleasant. The Editor mentioned a regret at not moving out sooner, but we needed to learn the lessons we did in the big smoke too.

    Oh my! Winters would be super hard here to survive off the land in this mountain range, but the big wilderness to the north of you would be simply bonkers hard. Books don’t teach you about preparing firewood years ahead of your needs, or if they do, it would be too late to do anything about it by the time you read that bit – and winters up there would be basically not book-survivable. I got the impression that the off-grid guy dodged the winter months up there too and retreated to the cities up there. Kind of glossed over that.

    The same is true around these parts too in regards to health care. People don’t think about such matters. I’ve noticed of late that there are quite a number of properties up for sale, and they seem to be very slow to shift. Hmm. Scott’s correct, but please don’t tell him I said so. 😉

    Whaddya mean, so what? 24 years beats 16 years. It’s like 50% biggerer. Have they retained the same cast members over those years? So many questions, so few answers! Hehe! Your cynicism is justified, but in this case, it is incorrect. As far as I’m aware, the folks on the show get nothing other than displaying their construction stresses, successes and failures for us viewers to ponder the wisdom of. Dude, it’s a total mystery! Having constructed a one-of-its-kind house, I can well understand how every project runs over time and over budget. The result is baked into the cake, I reckon. We were mostly relaxed with the building of the house here, with one minor exception when I just couldn’t work out the maths for a complicated problem, and we had to order materials based on the results. I handed that horror job over to the Editor, who seemed less fussed by the maths.

    That’s my advice about changing the light bulbs. You might not like the results. The dust bunnies seem more like tribbles to me! Randomly flickering lights, in an otherwise dark car park, is a very good setting for a horror story, don’t you reckon? Probably been done to death, but still very super creepy.

    The bolt sure did have its own opinions when it decided to get lodged between the drive belt and the gearbox casing. Not good, and I severely chastised the bolt, but do such things listen? I threatened to replace the obstreperous bolt with a high-tensile bolt, and given the general bad attitude, the threat was followed through. Thanks, it is always a good idea to stop using machines when they’re going haywire.

    The frogs will work hard in your garden. It might be like feral cats and a milk bowl, you might have to leave a water bowl out for the frogs so you can get a better look at them. They’re only really active during the warmer months here.

    Ha! It’s Japanese ginger, not garlic, and the shoots do taste like ginger (with a mild onion background flavour), but the plant is mostly grown for it’s edible flowers. They’re very commonly found in Japanese cuisine. A couple of weeks ago I had a ginger and white chocolate muffin. Now, it sounds like an odd combination of flavours, but it was awesome.

    That’s always a possibility in relation to the envy, but it’s equally possible that I just like the flowers and am happy to share the enjoyment of them. 😉 It was a warm day today, and the air was thrumming with insects and bird life.

    Did a bit of mowing today, and the place is looking very green and smooth. Thunderstorms, warm weather and rain are forecast for Wednesday, so the place will get a decent watering. Also spent a few hours today pruning the fruit trees and feeding the branches into the scary old wood chipper – a beast of a machine. And whilst I was at it, I improved the chicken wire plant guards around the many Loquat trees. For some reason, the deer have been singling out those trees, and they have not been kind to the young trees, the cheeky scamps.

    The furniture made from cardboard boxes is interesting, but like you I’m underwhelmed by the results. There is so much second hand furniture in amazing condition, or that can be easily restored, that we’re probably not as a society at the cardboard box phase, yet.

    Paper mache is amazing, and I have come across such chairs before (the vintage ones). I noticed the material was used as long range fuel tanks for aircraft during WWII, albeit mixed with plastic.

    Hope you are feeling better today.

    No, I’m already started with issues in relation to modern plumbing fixtures. It ain’t just you! Why the toilet would have a non-standard fitting is beyond my comprehension, but I can see why I was having so much trouble tracking down a replacement rubber gasket – it’s because nobody makes the things any more. I had to purchase a whole new toilet this morning, and the joke is, the porcelain looks much the same, the fittings are just a slightly different size. Nice… Perhaps it’s not worth getting razzed up about, but then again, maybe it is! 🙂

    Scotts Bluff would be as described – hard to get around. Some of those inland areas are lucky to have rivers because of the low annual precipitation averages. It’d be very dry otherwise. There’s a lot of mystery surrounding the demise of the bloke who the bluff was named after. The view would be awesome from the top, yeah. Dunno about the silos, but then I grew up when the cold war was still running hot and the general advice was to hide under a table – like that would do anything useful other than get a person out of the way.

    Yeah, your dad would have had a reason for leaving at such a young age, although I noticed that there was a certain reticence in the adults back in the day discussing their past. They weren’t big into that, but then my grandfather saw the Great Depression (and drought whilst on a farm as a child raised by his grandmother), then WWII. They did keep such memories close to their chest and you only pick up titbits here and there.

    If I had to choose between opossums and koalas, I’d put my money on the angry, but focused opossums. The koalas are angry, but lethargic. Probably not good boss material. Was it a human who suggested that opposable thumbs were the deal breaker? Not suggesting that there is inherent bias in that perspective, but there might be some, just a little bit. If there was an advanced civilisation during the age of the dinosaurs, how would we even know? It was so long ago, and entropy never sleeps. You’re probably right about the frogs, and I have heard weird stories about people licking toads up north something, something alkaloids. A bit slimy for my tastes. Yuk!

    Thanks for the article on crockpots versus slow cookers. Seems like there is a lot of variability in the machines.

    🙂 My mother would agree with you, yes. It’s not true though. Mind you, nobody wants or considers that reduction of spending option. It seems to trigger some feeling of loss that I just don’t care about, although most other people seem to do so. Possibly the status book you read recently might have suggestions as to why that is the case? It baffles me that people feel such loss over this matter. It’s deep. Hmm. Living within your means is a different strategy, but equally workable, and equally effective. You just have to be flexible and nimble enough to navigate the possibility of reduced means.



  3. of grid living- yes, there are loads of posters on the interwebs that tout their prowess, but I’m guessing most off gridders ( except our esteemed host of course) are too busy with the greatly increased time needed to replace all that electricity with muscles. ( I still am in awe of your weekly output). Homesteading, whether off grid or not also needs some skill building.

    By coincidence, we were butchering our chickens this past weekend, and after finishing, I got to wondering again about the most humane way to dispatch them.

    We use the throat slit carotid artery method, with the understanding that they kind of pass out as they lose blood, but I’ve always wondered if the quick decapitation was more tricky to pull off cleanly, but actually more humane.

    So I went to google to see what the current thoughts were, and found quite the collection of repetitive and useless opinions and impractical folderol.

    So for now, we’ll continue was before. My advice? Sharp knives. Before anything else, get those knives sharp.

    They are all in the freezer now, coop cleaning begins today.

    I had the throttle lever come off the handles on my tiller, and the bolt was not your standard design, so had to order on line. Some baling wire in a key location worked well enough till the bolt got replaced.

  4. Yo, Chris – Your right. You built up some serious skills in the city. “Hindsight is 20/20.” 🙂 “If I knew then, what I know now…” The hindsight quote is ascribed to the humorist, Richard Armour, circa 1949. He wrote a lot of books. Some, poking fun at history. I remember reading some of them, when I was a wee small lad.

    I encourage Scott as little as possible. 🙂

    Oh, yes. “The Murdoch Mysteries” have retained characters. Who really make the show. And, I’ve noticed that successful series add characters, as they get more popular and their budgets get bigger. A lot of famous, or about to be famous people, traveled through Toronto in the early 1900s. A lot of the time, they figure in the mysteries. The episode I watched last night, was a murder that revolved around a literary convention. Kipling was there, along with Montgomery, the author of “Anne of Green Gables.” Edith Wharton. All are suspected of murdering another author, at one point or another. The last scene was amusing. An aspiring author is advised to use a pseudonym. He reveals that he is using a pseudonym. But decides to go back to his real name … Edgar Rice Burroughs. 🙂

    Bolts are probably related to rocks. They have their own ideas of where they ought to be. 🙂

    “Odd combinations that are truly awesome.” That’s what that book “Cooking Yesteryear” was pretty much about. Who knew a processed cheese product could really jazz up brownies? I’m always pushing boundaries, in the kitchen. Adapting. Trying new things.

    It’s raining now, and will rain most of the week.

    Back in grade school, paper mache was used for a lot of “art” projects. Strips of newspaper, and wheat glue. Applying it around spent light bulbs, carefully breaking them, gave you a nice shape for a puppet head. They’d be painted and then varnished.

    Yeah, I’m feeling better. About back to as normal as I get. Apparently dodged the You Know What.

    Here’s another plumbing “improvement.” Toilet basin exits have been reconfigured. The standard plumber’s helper (plunger) doesn’t work in them. You need a new, improved configuration, for them to work. I’m fighting a couple of slow drains, right now. Tub and bathroom sink. Boiling vinegar has helped. But sooner or later, they may need some serious work. Involving a lot of disassembly.

    The major river that runs through that part of Nebraska, is the Platt. Often referred to as “a mile wide and an inch deep.” Most of the rivers are fed by snow pack or glaciers. Going to get a lot dryer, out that way.

    Think I might watch “Meg 2”, tonight. Maybe bake up that frozen pizza, I received. Instead of the usual popcorn. Lew

  5. Hello Chris
    The family have all left after first bequeathing me a stinker of a cold and cough. I have now recovered.
    Today I picked the largest number of field mushrooms that I have seen for over 40 years. They must have loved all the rain that we have had. I rang Son to offer him half of them. He is not happy as he says that they are yellow stainers and not field mushrooms. He took them but won’t eat them until he has seen my condition tomorrow. We shall see!


  6. Hi Inge,

    Ah, I feel for you with the dread stinker cough. Clients are likewise nice enough to share such things with me. 😉 I’ve long since come to the state of acceptance that a person is unable to reside within a bubble, whilst at the same time having contact with the outside world! Hope you had a lovely visit from your daughter and her family. And glad to hear that you have recovered.

    It looks as though the yellow stainers will cause some discomfiture, but they may possibly not be the end. And it is worthwhile adding that everyone’s abilities to ingest things are different. How did you go? Hope your son was incorrect?

    Inge, honestly I look at all the truffles and mushrooms growing around here – and there are a lot of them – and the testing process as to toxicity levels is probably not something I wish to become involved in. Over in the eastern part of the state, there’s been a very curious poisoning incident with multiple fatalities. However the situation is looked at, it’s not good.

    The rain this afternoon was monsoonal. Today was quite warm and humid, and around 4.30pm the heavens opened. The rain drops were huge and heavy. Good for the garden, other than the mild soil compaction issues. Tomorrow looks set to bring a whole lot more rain.



  7. Hi Steve,

    🙂 Truth to tell, I use a lot of hand operated, fossil fuel powered machines to assist with getting this property into some semblance of order. We did a bit of mowing today, and whilst I have a scythe and know how to use and maintain it, the thought of attacking a couple of acres with such a hand tool gives me a case of the vapours! 🙂 Still, if fossil fuels ever became super scarce, I’d have a lot more free time. It’s a balancing act don’t you reckon?

    Thanks for writing that. One of the motivations for starting the blog was that I used to comment here and there on the internet saying that: ‘yeah, did this and did that’. And they do say that a picture tells a thousand words, and it has been almost a decade now. We’re like the tortoise, and just keep plodding along.

    Like today, we continued to construct the new 6,500 square foot garden enclosure, and cemented in four bracing posts for the four gate posts. Despite having cemented all the of posts for that enclosure in the ground, the weight of the fencing pulled the gate posts out of alignment. Fixed that with the bracing posts.

    The deer have also been a nuisance of late, and for about a dozen fruit trees we also had to upgrade the heavy duty gauge chicken wire protecting them from those portable venison nuisances. There are times I’ve been left wondering about the wisdom of turning them into juicy steaks.

    But yeah, everything takes time to learn how to do this stuff.

    It looks dramatic outside. A massive thunderstorm hit here earlier this afternoon, and way off to the south west, there is more lightning and heavy showers. Got some epic photos. I love a good storm.

    My mates of the big shed fame have some sort of chicken neck breaking lever arrangement attached to a wall. It’s a pretty quick way to go, and with less blood, although you do have take a chicken from the pen to the implement. I tend to use a very sharp and heavy knife and just strike off the head. It’s fast and simple and unlikely to go wrong. Your method is not dissimilar really.

    What’s humane mean anyway? The chickens here enjoy a very good and long life free from predation, and they consume a most excellent diet. We don’t over stock them so that psychosis kicks in. I tend to be of the belief that doing things 99.9% right for the birds, offsets the one bad day. But I don’t do meat birds, we keep them for eggs and the conversion of plant materials we can’t eat, into manure. It’s all much of a muchness though.

    Exactly, before enlightenment, sharpen the knives. After enlightenment, sharpen the knives! 🙂 Hehe! Hey, it’s quite the skill to learn how to maintain all of your tools, and a knife is simply another tool. Grinding wheels are wonderful machines.

    Before complicated electronics and hydraulics became the norm, bailing wire used to be the go-to fix all for farm machinery so you could say that you were continuing the long tradition. And yeah, every now and then, tighten up the bolts connecting those levers to the levers at the gearbox. It can’t hurt. Man, the amount of spare parts we now have to keep a stock of, is bonkers. I’d not previously realised how much risk we’d handed over to the farm machine repair dudes, but now I know. Speaking of which, I ordered some replacement blades for the wood chipper. Pretty cheap given what they do and what they’re made of.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    The funny thing about the skills was that back in the big smoke, we only ever worked on older houses. In some ways they were constructed so as to be repairable, and today’s constructions don’t compare favourably. And you almost have to learn how they were put together way back in the day so as to know how to repair them. The old timers were pretty clever with that stuff. The house here differs from newer builds in that it was constructed along the older principles of building. Most houses these days down here are constructed on concrete slabs, but we chose concrete stumps instead. Hmm, repairability! As to techniques, people can get pretty excited about laser levels and sights, but string lines can work almost as well.

    Richard Armour the esteemed poet is a very witty person. I was laughing at some of the things the bloke wrote. I’m in a bit of awe, and kind of enjoyed how he stuck it to old Groucho Marx, who no doubt deserved the besting. The poet is not a man to take lightly in an intellectual joust.

    I will be guided by your good example in relation to your friend! 🙂 Lest he get too big for his boots!

    The Murdoch Mysteries sounds intriguing. It’s good to read that William Shatner played the role of Mark Twain. Talk about big boots to fill. Honestly, how could anyone who’d penned ‘Anne of Green Gables’, be a murder suspect? Seems like a big call to me, but still, it is often the quiet unassuming ones. Ol’ Edgar would most certainly give the wokesters a fright, but he was a man of his day for sure. Never read any of the Tarzan series of books. I have long since wondered what issues authors may have about the medium of ‘pulp’ fiction? If it gets people reading, I’m all for that.

    Very funny. Yes, the bolt did have it’s own ideas which didn’t necessarily conform with my own. Machines can be like that, and you’ve no doubt also seen the films. It never ends well for humanity. Even the humble Wall-e robot forced humanity into err, the sort of stuff I do around here. 🙂

    The book Baking Yesteryear sounded like a hoot. Make a person wish they had more time to spend in the kitchen testing recipes. Maybe some venison recipes… Over the past two days I’ve improved the protection for about a dozen (maybe more, I lost count) young fruit trees. The deer have been an absolute pain in the rear of late. It’s brutal out there for fruit trees, but we have ways of dealing with the likes of them!

    We’ve been constructing a large 6,500 square foot vegetable and citrus growing area. Obviously, citrus trees don’t grow all that tall, and vegetables are even more height challenged. All that calls for fencing, and we’d been working on that job, but had to stop work a few weeks ago. The combined weight of the heavy duty gauge chicken wire pulled the four gate posts slightly apart. We took some time to work out how to address this issue. Today, we added in four diagonal bracing posts, one each for the four gate posts. Those were cemented into the ground, and we’ll let the concrete cure over the next week.

    It’s good concrete curing weather, because it’s warm, and today we enjoyed what looked like a monsoonal downpour. It was feral out there late this afternoon, and the raindrops were quite large and heavy. Tomorrow the forecast is for more of the same – a hot morning, followed by thunderstorms. I may have gotten some good photos of the lightning, but we’ll see how they turned out. I quite enjoy a good storm, and afterwards the air is crisp and clear and the sunlight sparkled off the water droplets on the leaves of the fruit trees. It smells nice too.

    Ah, your rain would be a much colder and perhaps more indoors event. You’re fast heading into winter. We sat on the veranda and enjoyed the lightning show off in the distance.

    Yeah, in primary school we also used papier-mâché in art classes, and I knew the glue was non-toxic, but had not known that the glue was derived from wheat. Hmm… … Wheatpaste has quite the history. And that advertising method is still used today.

    Good to hear that you dodged you-know-what. I was a bit worried for you, when you typed the word out in full. It’s been said before that all we have to fear is hubris, and it may even be true.

    Oh yeah, it wasn’t just the cistern to pan connection which has been altered to protect the innocent. Ah well, there are chemicals which break down stuck organic matter, but word on the street is that they can apparently break down other things as well. Disassembly usually does the trick – and it worked for the coffee machine issues. There are also mechanical devices called drain snakes, and they do work.

    I’ve met people like that river.

    I tend to agree about getting dryer in such places. The annual precipitation is already on average low. It’s chancy, but who knows with more water vapour in the atmosphere, you’d think it might rain more. Hard to tell where though. The forecast suggested that the chance of any rain here today was very low.

    I watched trailer for the Meg 2 a couple of months ago, and I was very much reminded of the flavour of The Evil Dead III, Armies of Darkness film. That was a very silly film, but I kind of enjoyed it. Was the film worth the pizza? Hope you ate all of the pizza and didn’t dare leave any for breakfast?



  9. Hello Chris
    I am fine, the mushrooms were exactly what I knew them to be. However Son has still not tried them because his pigs wouldn’t have anything to do with them.
    Actually I believe that we have only got 2 varieties of fungi that will definitely kill you. The Australian case has been in our news.


  10. Do you ever get to watch UK Homes Under the Hammer in Australia? I hope not because it is dire. Sometime they buy a property at auction, take twice as long as intended, spend three times the budget, but somehow they land on their feet. Other times it is clear they are just adding their 20th property to their buy-to-let empire, and doing the bare minimum to make it lettable which is quite dull to watch.

  11. Yo, Chris – Same feeling I got with pulling apart and putting back together antique furniture. A lot of it was really made for repairability. Even some of the finishes were on the repairable side. Of course, painted furniture could just be repainted over. But even some varnish or shellack finishes could be repaired or “freshened” up, with the right solvents.

    I’m happy when Scott gets to big for his shoes. 🙂 He has a habit of buying shoes. They fit just fine in the store, but when he gets them home … They’re a pretty good “athletic” shoe. I think I’m on my third or fourth pair of hand-me-downs. And have another pair, on tap. LOL. Some people ask why he doesn’t return them. Usually, people of the woman persuasion. I have to explain it’s a dude thing. We don’t return stuff. We live with (or pass on), our mistakes 🙂

    I really didn’t care to read a lot of Burroughs. But have enjoyed many a Tarzan or “Mars” film. But I did really like his “Pellucidar” (hollow earth) series. There were seven.

    I see one of the upcoming Murdoch mysteries involves motorcycles, and two guys named Harley and Davidson. 🙂 Who will either help him solve the crime, or be suspects. Or, both.

    Deer. As here, you probably can’t sell the stuff, but I’m sure some venison would be appreciated in a lot of quarters. There are plenty of videos on the web, as to how to properly dress out a deer. Sharp knives (as mentioned above) are a must. The Editor might even be interested in the curing of hides, and how to turn them into useful clothing, bedding, and such. Venison jerky, venison sausage. Yummers.

    Every time I took H out for a walk, we got very wet, yesterday. Today looks better. We’re headed out to get gas, and hit the Club. No tucker on offer, but, habit.

    Even drains, these days, I pretty much set up to discourage amateurs from going at them with a snake. Although I do have an interesting tool, that I might try on the bathroom sink. It’s worked well, before. But there’s always the chance that it might get stuck. This will be a delicate maneuver.

    Platt River … people. That was very funny.

    There was no pizza left for breakfast 🙁 I ate the whole darned thing. Things got eaten, on screen and off. 🙂 I quit liked the movie. Fast paced and some cool explosions. Creatures, galore. But, I don’t know if you’d like it. Given your fantods over the recent submersible disaster. The movie was better than the pizza. A bit dry, but then I may have over baked it. I added basil, garlic and dried tomatoes. A bit of plane yoghurt on some pieces, and Ricotta on others, really jazzed it up, and took care of some of the dryness. Lew

  12. Hi Inge,

    Glad to hear that you survived mushroom-gate, and long association has made things much easier in your part of the world on this front. Candidly, it’s a chancy proposition down under, as we’ve discussed previously.

    Were the mushrooms tasty? I’ve read that mushrooms can display differently throughout their life cycle, so perhaps that was part of the story?

    For all we know, your sons pigs may be fussy eaters? Some of the largest edible black truffles come from around these parts (they were introduced, of course) and I’d heard of people down this way using dogs for truffle hunting purposes. In other parts of the world, I believe pigs are used for that same purpose. Makes you wonder which has the more sensitive nose? And pigs noses are notably large and usually damp – based on my limited experience. The pigs I’ve met will happily snuffle your hands, and I imagine that pig nuts are on their minds at that moment.

    How’s the rain? It was monsoonal here this afternoon. We took advantage of the heavy downpour combined with warm soil, to plant out the pumpkins. Hope they grow, it looks like there may be a return to cooler weather next week.



  13. Hi Mawkernewek,

    How are you goin?

    Can’t say that I’ve ever heard of or seen that particular program. It was very amusing your use of the word ‘dire’! Paints a grim picture, that you probably don’t want to be any part of. 🙂

    Truly, Grand Designs UK is the only television series I watch. And they always build from scratch, except when the occasional listed ancient monument gets involved! I just never got into the habit of watching TV being, always being a bit too busy. And now that show has gone on so long (24 seasons), that I’m kind of curious to see if they run out of steam. And not everything goes well in that show. Risk is inherent in our lives, so people being stupid and not coming face to face with the consequences, well, I’m not at all certain I’d enjoy that story.

    I’m of the opinion that the ever increasing cost of mad cash, will have strange and unpredictable repercussions. The entire fiscal irresponsibility is a vast problem which has only ever (as they say) kicked the can down the road. Sooner or later, we’ll get to find out just how dumb a strategy it was, but when, is anyone’s guess. A mystery!



  14. Hi Lewis,

    That is the feeling isn’t it? You get to see that inherent values were once different, if only because the items were constructed so as to be repaired. It’s hard to ignore, and I do wonder about the penchant for mid-century stuff, which was I believe designed to be mass produced and cheap. Some of it is good, some, not so much. The Editor was telling me the other day that apparently the market for genuine antique furniture has tanked. I can’t now recall the reasons behind that, but it may have had something to do with the size of the antique furniture items and a mismatch with smaller living arrangements.

    Mate, I’m facing that issue now with the timber floors. They were given a good couple of coats of Tung Oil early in 2010 and now need re-coating. The price of Tung Oil is now eye wateringly expensive. Hmm. Oh well.

    Hehe! That’s funny about your friend, Scott and his small feet. 🙂 And yeah, that is most certainly dude behaviour. We’ve all been there. I’m sure I told you about the replacement coffee machine pump where I’d misread the operating voltage for the pump and ended up with the wrong spare part? Kind of like those shoes, except the place had a clearly stated ‘no-return’ policy. Sold the pump for 1 cent, which is an impressive achievement, and a timely reminder to read the descriptions far more carefully! And the joke was, we discovered that the older pumps we had (emergency use only) could be reconditioned with longer lasting components for only a few dollars – which we did. This repair stuff has some pitfalls for the uninitiated!

    Never really had the pleasure of reading Burroughs works, but I’m guided by your good example here. At the moment I’m reading the second book of Jack Vance’s: ‘Lyonesse’ trilogy. Reading those books feels like hanging out with an old mate and enjoying a good yarn. I still haven’t gotten through the complete collected works of that author. Alas, work seems to be my lot, although I enjoyed a brief read this morning over a coffee, and also I read a bit more over lunch, but finished up work late this evening. The Big J was heard to say on the Mount of Olives that ‘Blessed are the competent, for they shall be busy’! Hey, I should feign incompetence from time to time as a strategy? Alas, that would weigh heavily upon my soul, and also when I do stuff things up royally, I’ll probably have used up the excess credit due to my prior good works… Ook!

    Hehe! Yeah, we’ve got both kinds of motorcycles: Harley and Davidson! 🙂 That mention definitely needed a rabbit hole trigger warning, and I was surprised at how innovative the company is. That lot have a long association with down under as well. Hope the dudes survive the show!

    Exactly, like firewood, we can harvest deer, just not sell it – for obvious reasons. Venison is a pretty tasty meat. If the cheeky herbivores continue to escalate their ill manners, they might get a response. Right now, I’m improving the cages around the young fruit trees – those are the most vulnerable.

    Hope you both dodged the rain today? This afternoon was again feral. The day began warm and sunny, then the clouds moved on in, and then the heavens opened. We didn’t get a lot of rain, but it was enough. I was watching the rain band approaching on the radar and before it hit we raced out and planted the pumpkins and squashes (what we call pumpkins, but will so describe as squashes purely so as to avoid a major, major diplomatic incident! 🙂 )

    I hear you about that, but sometimes the routines of just getting out and about are worth maintaining for their own sakes. There are times I don’t feel like heading out and getting a coffee, but at the same time, when there are downturns in business, it’s the regulars that keep the lights on, and the fridges stocked. The official price of mad cash increased on Tuesday. Talk about trouble brewing…

    Drains are far more complicated chunks of technology than they may at first seem to be. There is a true art to improvisation, and hope the tool doesn’t get stuck. Back when coat hangers, were real coat hangers, that thick wire could be shoved down drain pipes so as to recover the gunk stuck in the pipe. Or at least remove the blockage.

    Hehe! Glad you enjoyed my joke.

    Oh thank gawd! We may talk for a thousand years (unlikely, but you never know) however my mind in this matter will remain unchanged – breakfast pizza is just not right. The film on the other hand does sound rather amusing and the trailer sure looked outright funny, apart from all the underwater stuff. That incident hit a nerve, let’s just put it that way – so yeah, attack of the vapours, and stuff.

    It’s hard to know with pizzas, and much also depends upon the oven, but we can agree here, dry pizzas are also not right. The crust should not be so damp it is limp, but neither should it be super-dry either. At least that’s my take on things. The toppings should sing, whilst being in harmony, off key ingredients need not apply. There’s a lot of rules there, but pizza is important business.

    It’s looking pretty damp outside tonight.



  15. Yo, Chris – A pleasant surprise. I went to gas up yesterday, and the price was almost a dollar less, per gallon, than last month. $4.50 a US gallon, for the regular grade.

    To a certain extent, the desire for certain antiques and collectibles cycle through time. People sometimes collect stuff from their childhoods. It’s interesting that a friend went to the Netherlands, and was looking for collectibles, rather than real antiques. There was a bit of confusion, but apparently they call it “grandma’s stuff.”

    Harry Rinker is a fellow who writes a lot about why people collect. There’s ten or twelve reasons, as I remember. He had a syndicated newspaper column, at one time. Wrote several books and price guides. He came to town once, and his lectures were pretty fascinating. Search: “Harry Rinker,” why people collect.” We’ve talked about that before. How the bottom has fallen out of the market for fine old oak and walnut pieces. Besides the size issue, with more people living in smaller apartments, people just seem to move around more.

    I used your “Blessed are the competent…” quote, down at the Club, just yesterday. Proper credit was given. 🙂 They’ll be calling you “The Sage of Australia.”

    I watched the Harley / Davidson episode of “The Murdoch Mysteries,” last night. Sure enough, Harley and Davidson were at one point, suspects. At another, helped solve the crime. There were several amusing bits, along the way.

    Foggy this morning, but we’re supposed to get sun, this afternoon. Food boxes may come, today.

    Well, if we ever need to torture you, we can skip the rats in a head cage, and go right to force feeding you cold breakfast pizza. 🙂 Lew

  16. Not too bad Chris, here in Cornwall we have had rather wet weather the last month, not really unusual for November but without much respite for a while. I’m just about picking the last of the greenhouse tomatoes, which I’ll take down soon, they have blight and mould with all this constant wet weather.
    There’s actually quite a lot of Homes under the Hammer on Youtube, as well as some spoof/parody versions.

  17. Hi Mawkernewek,

    Good to hear, and yes the growing season has come to an end for you. By way of comparison the growing season here is all over the shop. September was warm, then October was cold. November is blowing both hot and cold! We only planted out the pumpkins yesterday, and it is still a week or two away before the tomatoes can be planted out. This is very late. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    You’re in Arthur country! Cool.

    I hear you about that, very wet months are hard on tomatoes. Blight is a nuisance and is also present here, although I treat the soil with Calcium Carbonate which does not make for favourable soil conditions for blight – which I believe is some sort of fungus like critter (an Oomycete – whatever that is). Tomatoes need lime anyway, a good supply of the stuff in fact. One of those little terrors almost took out the Meyer Lemon, but making the soil unfavourable for the things did seem to do the trick although don’t you find that the skins split when there is too much rain?

    Always more stuff to learn!

    Had a burn off today and that is hard work. The ash is a decent fertiliser though.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, down here the petrol price today was around $1.90/Litre ($7.22/Gallon) which has been cheaper than in recent times. And also the market prices for a barrel of oil appears to have dropped of late. I note that your strategic reserves have been err, dwindled significantly, whilst ours appear to be almost non-existent. You’ve mentioned something before about elections and releases potentially going hand in hand.

    After the rain yesterday, and fog overnight and into this morning, the forest was wet enough to conduct a clean up and burn off today. At this time of year it can be a bit risky if the fire gets away from you. And if that happens, it is the sort of thing that will be spoken about in decades to come. So yeah, pick your day carefully is my thinking, although I’ve seen some things with other folks over the years. Hmm. Only ever as good as the weakest link. Anyway, it was a very hard, but satisfying day of work. Me tired.

    Had a super late lunch too, and for once it was quiet which I quite enjoyed. It was so nice, we sat in the shade, ate lunch and lingered. It was a very pleasant time to read the Jack Vance book.

    That makes sense about the collection streak. Don’t you reckon it looks a bit like a call to nostalgia? My childhood wasn’t all that great, so the idea of wanting to reconnect with associations from those years, lacks all appeal – but that maybe just me. 🙂 Most people seem to have the years of childhood in some sort of rose coloured tint. It’s kind of hard for me to relate to that story.

    Harry is a smart bloke. Did you by chance read the essay he wrote on the subject of why people stop collecting? That was fascinating, and it looks like the essay was based on his readers experiences as well. One of the issues which jumped out at me is that the act of collecting could be impacted by ordinary emotional and life issues. I’d never really thought of the hobby in that light, but yeah – and it makes sense.

    And those larger well constructed furniture pieces are apparently also not doing all that great down here either. Man, I moved around so much as a kid, and even as a young adult, but after a while I really wanted to put down some roots in an area. You kind of get sick of moving around. People ask me why I don’t travel far or much these days, and well, life is interesting where I am – probably true for most other folks too, if they but stopped for a moment and took a look around.

    Actually, my response is really an early return to the much longer term trend of people rarely travelling very far. When I was a kid, nobody went anywhere, unless they signed up for the armed services of course. Even holidays were pretty local, you’d just head down the coast. I believe that expectations these days will probably be very hard to maintain.

    Hehe! Thanks for the credit. It’s an amusing line, and also something of a truism. Hope the folks at the Club enjoyed the line too.

    Simon on his blog put me onto a program from 1983, The Victorian Kitchen Garden, so I intend to check that out next. It looks intriguing in a very English way. I’ve often noted that in the historic hill station gardens in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, the kitchen garden, orchards and chickens are often out of the way – and certainly not in sight of the house. I presume a similar situation occurs in your part of the world?

    It was foggy here this morning too. Must be something in the water. 😉 The fire we set off today has burned down, but the coals are still glowing. It’s going to be 88’F tomorrow, but then cool down again. Bonkers weather. The pumpkins we planted out yesterday look like they’ve grown, although that may be my imagination. Hard to tell.



  19. Yo, Chris – Yes, whichever party is in power, tries to keep the price of, at least, petrol, low. During election cycles. We had some sort of local elections, the other day, across the country. Might as well read tea leaves, as far as forecasting what those signals mean for the big election, in a year.

    We had a couple of fairly nice days, but the rain will be coming back, with warmer temperatures. Must be dicey, pulling off a burn. Eye on the fire, eye on the weather.

    Yes, Harry Rinker is a pretty interesting fellow. Back when I was working for the big antique mall, they had sponsored him to come to town for a few days. I did a certain amount of “minding.” One very interesting afternoon, we wandered through the shops, and he kept up a running commentary. He also did a day long identification workshop. Dollar a pop for people bringing in their tat. Proceeds went to some charity. There was also a seminar on the tat business, itself. I was kind of appalled that the turn out was probably less than 8 people. In the tat racket (as with a lot of things) people get this idea that they know it all.

    Yes, things fall out of favor for a number of reasons. Foreign imports, the aging out (dying) of certain collector areas of interest. The list is long. Death, divorce, down-sizing.

    “Vacations,” here, used to be about visiting family. Then the interstate highway system was built, and more people hit the road to see attractions. And, here, we have the whole “open road,” meme going. You can get you’re kicks, on Route 66. 🙂 Books, such as, “On the Road.”

    “The Victorian Kitchen Garden,” looks very interesting. I also noticed there’s an 8 part series from the Beeb, called “Wartime Kitchen and Garden.” I’ll be checking that out, too.

    Oh, I suppose in fashionable areas, here, the working parts of establishments were kept out of sight.

    We got our two commodities boxes, yesterday. I was surprised, as it’s the last box before Thanksgiving, and nothing really screamed Thanksgiving. We’ll get another box, from another source, a week before the holiday. That might have more of a “festive” air to it. 🙂 This lot was with the produce. Produce amounted to 7 red potatoes, 7 apples and a well rotted plastic bag of broccoli. There were a one pound bag each, of walnut pieces and filberts. Two two pound bags of almonds. 2 one pound bags of white rice. A frozen one pound NY beef strap steak. 3 good sized tins of chicken.

    Two big boxes of cereal (wheat flakes) and two quarts of shelf stable milk. A half a gallon of apple drink. 2 one pound boxes of raisins, a jar of peanut butter. A 2 pound brick of cheese “product.”

    As far as the rest of the tins went, it was four each of diced tomatoes and green beans. Two tins of pinto beans. 1 tin of apple sauce. Ought to be enough to keep the Club pantry, through the weekend.

    I read a review, and saw a trailer for a new eight part Australian series. “Colin from Accounts.” There’s a cute dog, and, according to the review, it’s a rom-com with lots of flatulence and poop jokes. 🙂 Lew

  20. The outdoor tomatoes gave up some time ago, they were in growbags rather than open soil, the greenhouse ones also in containers, and maybe your suggestion about lime might be an idea if I ever were to try growing them in ground. The soil here is although I’m not on granite, relatively acidic.
    My parents have quite a few Camellia japonica, and I’ve tried making tea out of it, which isn’t too bad, even though it isn’t the proper tea plant Camellia sinensis.
    Talking of historic hill station gardens, I watch videos from Horti-Culturalists not too far from you.

  21. Chris,

    On the spur of the moment, we decided to zip out of town, spend a few days on the Rez on family business. And an outing just for the Princess and DJ. Some things got accomplished. Then there were the things that require other persons to do something. Discussions followed about “We’ve done all we can. Progress on some things. Everything else, well, we did all we could and now either people will follow through or they won’t. Not our problem now.” We also had good meals at one of our favorite places to eat – Doxie’s Diner in Wilbur, Washington. We scored lunch there on the way to the Rez and dinner there on the way home.

    Hmmmm, did that bolt ever figure out that it didn’t belong at that location in the rototiller? Or was the bolt, well, a little nuts? 😉

    Meanwhile, Dame Avalanche caught the sniffles awhile back when the weather got cold and the air quality was smoky. This finally developed into some coughing and hacking. Took her to the vet today – apparently the allergy response to the smoke weakened her system just enough so that she developed kennel cough. Yup, she was likely exposed during doggy school. For now it is a matter of monitoring this, giving her some type of doggy cough tablet a few times a day. She slept long and peacefully this afternoon after the first tablet. Turns out that the vet we saw today has also had dogs catch kennel cough at that exact doggy school!

    Got a lot more rain over the weekend through Monday night. The ground is just warm enough that more of the grass seed I spread is sprouting. The ground got so saturated that the television news people were doing their best to cause a panic – “if the wind picks up with this saturated ground, a lot of trees may get uprooted!” There was no serious wind in the forecast, of course, but they did do their very best to instill fear into people. No seriously windy conditions developed and apparently no trees were uprooted.

    The Platte River, as described by Lew – “a mile wide and an inch deep”. Your reply, that you’ve known people like that river, was the funniest thing I’ve heard all week. Thanks for the laugh.



  22. Hi Mawkernewek,

    Ah, the soil fertility in your corner of the country is a real mixed bag from what I was reading last night. The soil here is quite acidic as well, thus the continual application of agricultural lime to the soils. For your interest, 12kg (26 pounds) of Calcium Carbonate and about half as much again of Blood and Bone meal gets added into the soils, along with the coffee grounds (which is about four times that volume) each week.

    Good to read that you have a greenhouse. Are you finding that to be an indispensable addition to your garden? It’s been a game-changer here, mostly due to the sheer variability of the climate – the shed provides a buffer to extreme cold weather. Today was 31’C / 88’F, however the next week looks set to hover around 19’C / 66’F every day. Talk about bonkers.

    There’s a lot good to say about granite, and the minerals those rocks leave in the soil, so if you can get your hands on some rock crusher dust, that would be a very good thing to chuck onto your soils. I’ve been told that the darker the granite, the greater the soil fertility. The granite here is a sort of orange colour, so probably not all that great, but changing the mineral balance is one of those things that we can do.

    I’ve never grown tomatoes in grow bags, but have done so for potatoes. Do you find that the soil in the grow bags limits the size of the plant grown?

    Good stuff, and I’ve never tried that with the Japonica variety, but can see what you mean. You know, if you scratch around, there will be a variety of Sinensis which might survive your winters. I read a book on the subject recently (and have a Camellia Sinensis growing in the greenhouse sourced probably inappropriately from the sub tropical area of northern New South Wales) and have been wondering if I should have just started a whole bunch of seeds so as to discover if any survive the cooler winters here. By all accounts, the seeds display great variability, and wherever Japonica can survive, there will be a Sinensis variety which has been bred and adapted. You might want to try starting some plants from seed?

    Proving that there is only ever six degrees of separation, Mr Ryan operates a rare plant nursery right next to the local general store, and I’m local enough to say hello and have the greeting returned. He seems like a very nice bloke. I’ll check out the channel.



  23. Hi DJ,

    A dude’s gotta do, what a dudes gotta do. If that makes any sense? Hope so. 🙂 Good to read that you and your lady got away for a few days, and hey, I hear you about that, the business never sleeps. Still, it sounds like you wove some enjoyable times in there, and I do a similar thing when travelling and enjoy the well known haunts. Like coming home isn’t it? And that’s also true, the old timers used to say that: You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make the horse drink.

    Mate, when I used to run the graduate program for the large corporate, I’d always give the young graduates enough rope. Most would comprehend the opportunity and pull themselves up the rope, some well, it’s awful to say, but hangmen seemed rather au fait with such err, sturdy hemp products. You can only ever do your best, and that’s how a person sleeps soundly at night.

    You reminded me that I learned that lesson the hard way, and there’s a really fine line between assisting folks you know and care about, and going past that point where the assistance is no longer appreciated and you end up on the wrong end of that story. Oh well…

    Hehe! That’s funny, and you could also say that the bolt was short of nuts and feeling out of place. 🙂 I’m truly glad that I stopped the machine once the smoke puffs oozed out of the gearbox. The drive belt has a bit of damage now from the bolt, but should be OK, maybe. Unlike the toilet.

    So the toilets installed here when we built the house were basic run of the mill loo’s, except that the manufacturer appears to have gone into liquidation almost a dozen years ago. One of the rubber seals failed, and the thing began leaking. And being a now non-standard size, with nobody making the larger seal – well that’s what a whole new toilet looks like. The problem has troubled my soul due to the sheer waste, mostly because I enjoy fixing things, but not this time. And to compound the insult, the original plumber was a bit careless, which I’ve only just today discovered. A quick ten minute job turned into about five hours of work. Sandra wisely understood that I was a tad grumpy, and just left me alone, or helped out as required. That’s wisdom! Anywhoo, by late today the careless aspects had been corrected. The plumber who did the work on the house was great, except that every now and then, he’d sub contract out some of the finishing work to a dude he knew, who wasn’t so great. I’ve heard it said that some for people, everything they touch turns to gold, with that dude, everything he touched turned to poop. Hmm. I’m older now, and hopefully wiser, and would have just said no. Back then, things were different, living up the bush has in some ways made me changed, possibly more pragmatic and realistic. Dunno.

    Aww, hope Dame Avalanche is feeling better? And the fluffy collective send positive energy and cordial tail wags to the suffering canine. I’ve never had a dog with kennel cough, but it would be most distressing for the dog for sure. Old Dame Scritchy used to blow up like a puffer fish when she was bitten by the massive bullants, so allergies can be very unpleasant and do all sorts of things to a system. The bullants are nasty customers, and I annoyed a hive of them yesterday. Used to slip the dog a quarter dose of antihistamine, and she’d crash hard, but also deflate whilst she slept!

    Good to hear that no trees were harmed in the imaginary wind. Is that media gear, technically the sort of claim a blowhard would make? 🙂 It was quite warm here today at 31’C and the wind picked up around lunchtime, but died off reasonably quickly. Quite pleasant really, and the plants are growing.

    Thanks! It was pretty funny wasn’t it? And we’ve all met people with those astounding qualities. I was laughing too when I wrote the observation.

    The plan is to have a quieter day tomorrow, with hopefully no obstreperous lavatory issues.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Don’t you think that it’s weird that prices for some items, e.g. fuel, provoke more consternation, than for prices of other goods and services? I never really understood that story, because people seem mostly OK with bonkers high property prices, or rental costs. Beats me, why, it produces a very uncomfortable feeling with me. But I hear you about the tea leaves. The polling for the incumbent crew down here seem to be tanking fast – possibly due to the ever rising costs of mad cash. But what that all means at the polls is anyone’s guess. And hey, it’s not as if the polls I read leading up to your 2016 election, or even the Brexit question, were even close to the final result.

    Nice autumn days sounds lovely. It was 88’F here today, and it did feel a trifle hot, but no matter, the weather for the next week looks much cooler. The poor plants will be very confused with the variability. Plants really do need the heat in order to grow.

    It is a bit dicey pulling off a burn. Fortunately we can work around the weather, and light the thing at the exact right time with an eye on the conditions, but spare a thought for the goobermunt folks who have to plan work teams weeks ahead, and schedule burns for a particular day. No wonder they’ve been known to completely stuff it up. They’ve done surprisingly little burning off for many years now around these parts. I suspect that they know what they are doing, but that doesn’t imply that they’re doing what is right.

    What a cool day that would have been. That’s an interesting line of work being the representative and driver for a person on tour. Yeah, you would have been the ‘minder’, that’s a great way of putting it. Imagine what that work would be like if it was a band who had anti-social tendencies? Far out! The people who didn’t turn up for the seminar missed out. Earlier in the year, the Editor was looking forward to a seminar during Beer-Week on ‘Women in the Brewing Crafts’, and that was cancelled, possibly due to a lack of ticket sales. A bit of a shame. You’re probably right there. A small crowd is a bit rough though for the presenter.

    The list is long, and the reasons are many and varied, I agree. Selling a collection would be hard, wouldn’t it? But then, we’ve kind of discussed this matter previously, and it’s like that coffee pump I incorrectly ordered and was unable to return – a thing is only worth what someone else will pay for it. I’m sure you noticed the pickasso painting sale recently? Honestly, to me it looked like something that an AI thing would draw. I didn’t get it, but maybe I’m déclassé?

    Ah, now that you mentioned ‘visiting family’, I do recall such things occurring when I was a kid. I guess it was cheaper – and you brought back some memories of that very darkly amusing film: American vacation. National Lampoon, you did it again! That film was just so wrong, that it was somehow right. 🙂 I had not heard of that book, but yeah I can see that: Jack Kerouac and the Beat Generation. Talk about a very heavy trip they all would have been on. Apparently Route 66 is now a quiet back road, of sorts.

    Thanks for mentioning the other Beeb series, probably closer to my end goals than providing food for a manor, and it’s various denizens and hangers on.

    Fortunately I care not for fashion, and the orchard and kitchen gardens begin just outside the front door!

    I’d intended to have a quiet day today, just pottering around doing this and that. The repairs to the toilet have been on my mind of late, mostly due to the thing being out of action for a few days now. Anyway, turns out that everything which could go wrong with that repair job, went wrong. So earlier today I thought to myself that this job will take no more than fifteen minutes. I reckon by the end, I’d been at the toilet fix for five hours, and it involved crawling around under the house. I was not happy. The dude who plumbed the thing in originally, if he’d just spent a tiny little bit of extra care and attention, it would have been a fifteen minute job. But no, that was apparently too much to hope for. Other bits were broken due to what looked to me like carelessness. I was a bit grumpy, which is not like more usually cheery self. The Editor wisely avoided me for most of the afternoon, and that probably wasn’t a bad idea. All good now though, and the the careless bits were corrected.

    Tomorrow, I’m planning to have some quiet time, maybe even get a bit of reading in. Should be more how the kids would say: ‘super-chill’. That’s the plan anyway… Ook!

    Had to look up when Thanksgiving is. I see, the fourth Thursday in November. Hope people also take the Friday off work and enjoy a long weekend? Ah, red potatoes refers to the skin colour. I’ll bet they roast up nicely? The broccoli sounds like it was asking to be added directly to the soil, do not pass go, and do not collect any mad cash (a twisted monopoly reference)! Excluding the dodgy broccoli, the box sounds pretty good. The steak sounds excellent. How do you propose to cook it up?

    I’ll pass on the reference to the Editor, who is sure to enjoy it.



  25. Hi, Chris!

    That fellow and his family have an interesting strategy and I think it will work for awhile. My great grandmother and my great aunt used to buy together slightly, only slightly, run-down houses and fix them up and then sell them. They seemed to always make a profit and the whole thing worked for them because at least one of them always had a job as well.

    I have always wanted a lamp post out front where we park the cars and walk to the front door. Perhaps it’s just as well it never happened.

    The low gradient path photos are charming, all the way to the chicken villa. We still have not built a single gabion; you seem to have a lot more rocks than we do, in spite of peak rocks.

    Are you hoping to harvest some ginger root, too?

    We have had a major wildfire two counties over. I think that it may improve today as we are finally having rain; it has been a very long time. That made me think of the wildfire that happened on the property next to us a few years ago, and that we had vowed to always keep long hoses at the ready at two taps. Well, they weren’t there, had been moved to the back of the property where the commercial garden was put in last spring. So I have bought some 100 foot ones and I think I’ll get some more.

    I wonder if you are able to get this $10,000 pickup in Australia?

    Our 5 year old cat had a heart attack a few days ago. He looks good as new after his emergency vet visit, but it is strange at his age as he leads a very healthy, special diet, and lotsof exercise in the country (including hunting) life. Maybe he was born with a problem that is just showing up.

    Thank you for the lovely flowers.


  26. Yo, Chris – I don’t know why some prices psychologically impact people, more than others. In some ways, our economy is doing pretty good right now. Prices are down, but not to pre inflation levels. Consumers are spending. Unemployment is way down. But, on the other hand, people are tapping their 401K retirement accounts, and credit card debt is on the rise.

    I’ve read a few articles on people in big cities, who make a tidy living just squiring authors around to book signings and media events. They also spill the beans on who is delightful to work with … and others, not so much 🙂 .

    Yes, art prices don’t make much sense to me, either. Even things that I quit like, well, the prices make my eyes water. Recently, a Monet water lilly painting sold for a lot. It was part of a series. Looked just like the one I used to sit in front of, at the Portland Art Museum. And two “undiscovered” Rembrandt portraits went for a lot, last month.

    When I went to get my vaccines, last week, I had to break out the only short sleeve shirt I have. As I didn’t want to be showing a lot of flesh at the chemists. Some things you see, you can’t unsee. Anyway. The shirt is a Hawaiian shirt, I bought here in town, a few years back. There is a point to this story. It reminded me of vacations, when I was a kid. Every year, before vacation, we would go to a big department store, downtown, and get a Hawaiian shirt for my brother and me. With real bamboo buttons! A different color, every year. I don’t know what my mother was thinking. Nothing screams “tourist” like a Hawaiian shirt.

    Maybe you wouldn’t have had so many toilet problems, if you’d had one of these 🙂


    I understand a certain ex-president has a couple of these, kicking around his many properties.

    Thanksgiving is the real kick off, for the holiday season. It’s a four day weekend. The day after is referred to as “Black Friday.” Due to all the sales. People have been killed in stampedes. I’m going out this morning in search of my frozen turkey loaf (half white meat, half dark). Will also stop at the bread outlet store, and pick up the bread cubes for dressing. I just do Thanksgiving on my own, but try and hit the traditional high spots. Turkey, dressing, cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie.

    I’ll take the steak and throw it in the free frozen meat box, at the Club. I just don’t eat that much meat. And, besides, if I cooked it up, it’s a major job (to me) to clean out the cast iron frying pan 🙂 .

    Tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. A national holiday. So, it’s on Saturday, this year. Several places will be closed, today, Friday.

    Nick Cage has a new movie out. “Dream Scenario.” About a pretty normal guy who starts popping up in people’s dreams, people he doesn’t know, all over the world. Also of interest, a bit on Mr. Cage’s favorite movies.


    Most I’ve never heard of. Lew

  27. Chris,

    Yup, makes perfect sense – “A man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”. Or maybe “A REAL Little Furry Creature from Alpha Centauri has gotta do what a REAL Little Furry Creature from Alpha Centauri’s gotta do”. This could work for anybody. 🙂

    Ah, but the catch is learning to let it go once you have done your best and done your part. It’s too easy to take on the worries about things that are out of your control. Doing your best combined with learning not to worry is a hard lesson for many of us to learn.

    Hmmm, gearboxes. I might maybe remember a lesson from several decades in the past, an obscure thing sensei taught in karate: Beware the smoking gearbox! At least it sounds like something from a martial arts lesson. 😉 Today’s corollary from the DJ School of Hard Knocks, Taijiquan and Gardens is “Tread cautiously with damaged drive belts.”

    Yes, thanks, Dame Avalanche is somewhat better today. Definitely more energetic today. Wags and thanks from her back to the fluffy collective.

    Nasty bugs have teeth,
    Dog is bitten:
    Swelling, swelling,
    Dog grows bigger.
    Master aids dog,
    Weary Scritchy
    Sleeping, shrinking,
    Normal size returns.

    Your lavatory problem was no small thing. Those things always take longer to fix than they should. Old words, infrequently used, are oft remembered and spoken during such jobs. New words might spontaneously be uttered, mumbled, shouted or screeched. “Sandra wisely understood that I was a tad grumpy, and just left me alone, or helped out as required. That’s wisdom!” Yes, quite. Kudos to Sandra for displaying such wisdom.


  28. Hi Pam,

    It’s not a bad strategy at all, although I recall you mentioning (and please correct me if I’m wrong) that both you and I lost mad cash on our first house. That’s a painful event which focuses the mind wonderfully, don’t you reckon? The difficulty down under now are the building codes, and also people’s expectations. We gave up fixing up old houses mostly because nobody noticed the structural repairs and yet the standard of finish people expect is whilst not beyond my skill levels to provide, I just never wanted to deliver on those expectations. They’re unrealistic. I still recall how life was lived back in the 1970’s as a young kid, and it was not flash. It rings my internal alarm bells to think that people believe things should be otherwise. Dunno, but as a society, we’re still the same folks – nothing has changed on that front.

    The lamp post is cast aluminium, and it looks good, but had to be modified so as it worked in all weather conditions which in the ordinary course of existence will be encountered. I describe such items as, broken from the factory.

    Perhaps so about the rocks. 😉 Although, we do have to head further afield to collect them, and not to mention the huge effort involved in breaking apart boulders. Pam, they resist being turned into more useful sizes! It’s outrageous… You can always buy in rocks for gabions. My mum said I was a bad influence, but what would she know? 🙂

    Ah, the plant is not the more usually expected ginger tubers, although the taste is similar and the shoots look the same. The plant is: Myoga. I reckon it would even survive your cold winters. You eat the shoots but particularly the flowers. We also grow the more traditional ginger roots, but the Japanese ginger performs far better here. There really is no comparison between the two plants so I’m now in the land of acceptance in this matter.

    Good thinking, and yeah having hoses and garden taps (spigots) where they’re needed can make a lot of difference when in an emergency. That sort of thinking is never far from my mind, so there are hoses and taps all over the place. It is worth mentioning that not all hoses are of the same quality, but the UV radiation from the sun here may be more harsh than where you are? Hope the fire is now under control? Interestingly, the fire we set off on Thursday still had hot coals this morning. not good. I’ll spread the ash around tomorrow and that will cool everything down, and give the soil a decent feed – ash being a good fertiliser in a forested environment.

    Pam, that new Hilux is super awesome and the sort of vehicle I’d happily purchase. Thanks for mentioning it. I don’t need all the bells and whistles that people believe to be necessary. For example, the new Dirt Rat Suzuki does not even have any carpet, just some rubber mats. The Hilux model has been in Australia almost since day one of its production way back in the day, and most months it is the number one selling vehicle in this country. We don’t get those Tacoma vehicles down here, although someone in the area imported one, and the things are bonkers huge. Almost drove me off the road. Hmm. Far too big to be useful in my opinion. And I reckon the current Hilux models are way too big. So yeah, the new model is a step in the right direction. Like the Suzuki Dirt Rat, you wont see them in your country based on what I was reading, although you never know. I’ve long spoken about making cars more basic, lighter, and more affordable – and that machine ticks all the boxes. People worry about the decline of the west, but the harsh realities of economics will eventually sort out the mess, yet, those sorts of adaptions like that car, are how the ride down will be cushioned. People will whinge, they’ll sook, but do they really need expensive options like adaptive cruise control and rain sensing wipers? I don’t. Never have.

    Sorry to hear about your cats health troubles, that’s awful. Out of curiosity, why the special diet? And what do you mean by that?

    It’s Rhodie time, so expect some more Rhododendron flowers. 🙂



  29. Hi DJ,

    I love that Douglas Adam’s quote about real furry creatures from Alpha Centauri. I’ll bet he had fun writing that story, and coming up with the next improbable adventure. Speaking of such matters, we headed off the mountain this morning and stopped at a town on the eastern end of the range. Ostensibly, the trip was to pick up a can of silicone based lubricant from the hardware store so that I could finally fix that (insert family unfriendly words here) leaking toilet. But why subject yourself to work all the time when there are a particularly tasty sausage roll and lamington (the lamington was consumed later with coffee and shared with the dogs) to squish into your guts – which incidentally were also purchased whilst over there? It’s a sound philosophy along the lines of your favourite diner experience. 🙂

    Letting go is hard. I hear you about that. Looking ahead and considering consequences are perhaps skills that are not actively encouraged in our society. So people don’t look ahead, and they don’t think about consequences. When you do those things however, you begin to see the potential for trouble. But I reckon, it is not possible to do the many strange activities which go on all around us, and exercise those skills, so in some ways, we get the society we deserve.

    Lamingtons, a sausage roll, and silicone spray are wonderful things, but as always there are costs. It’s our job to pick and choose, not to mention setting limits on our activities. Other people will have a different take on the world.

    A real turning point for me was the day, many long years ago when I was being hit up for mad cash by a chugger (charity mugger, apparently). Something to do with green piece (!) and the dude was asking me whether I cared for the Great Barrier Reef. It seemed like a big call, especially given I live nowhere near the reef. Dialogue being a useful tool, I remarked that I’m doing this and that, which I believe were aligned with the values of the mob he was representing. But then I took things one step beyond that, by waving my hand in a sweeping arc which took in all of the city street corner and commenting: “None of this is sustainable”. Well, things sure turned ugly then, and he replied with some heat: “I feel sorry for you.” There was no point continuing the conversation, and I walked off.

    Coral reefs survived the extinction of the dinosaurs, so I’m guessing that they’re pretty hardy – and tested by deep time. I’d be interested in your opinion of the matter, but what I reckon the guy was worried about was not the reef, but his own values and survival (probably economic, if I’d hazard a guess, especially given he wanted mad cash from me). What I took away from the experience is that working out what you as an individual have to care for is a matter of personal choice and believe me, everyone will dictate what that should be. And often when we do worry about things that are not within our ability to control, the energy might be better spent on other activities. Dunno about you, but I’m coming around to the idea that the best we can do when faced with such situations is to plant a seed, provide support and guidance, and see whether anything comes of those acts. But most importantly, live consciously and chose for yourself.

    Hehe! Yeah, that’s funny, and also beware strange and unexpected smoke issuing from machines when that is not part of their function!

    That’s great news that poor Dame Avalanche is slowly recovering from her bout of illness. And thanks for the amusing poem. Dame Scritchy, the occasional ant-bitten puffer fish, would have appreciated the words and sentiment. That dog got be nineteen years. She was made of tough stuff.

    I now declare this here toilet, fixed! 😉 It still baffles me that a ten minute job could extend over many days and long hours. These days I’m older and crustier, and would have told the head plumber not to bring the careless bloke back. Things were different back then. I realise he was trying to do the bloke a favour, but we paid the price, and there was nothing in it for us to do so.



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Well, it is weird that. So, I’m noticing that there are now regular articles in the media as to how to save money. It interests me that the entire discussion is framed as ‘saving money’ and not as how to ‘go without’. One of the more bizarre suggestions I’ve been noticing of late, is that apparently avoiding purchasing fruit is being offered as solid advice. Honestly, I get that plenty of people don’t like fruit, but wasn’t Hippocrates attributed to the quote: “Let food be your medicine, and medicine be your food”? Cutting out fruit from your diet is probably a very dodgy thing for a persons health, but you know…

    It is interesting you mentioned that about the 401K thing, because I read an obscure reference this morning that the arrangement we have down here (known as superannuation) was also being used in such a manner. Here you go: Blah, Blah, Blah economics. The quote in particular was this: and income drawn from superannuation “in the last year is already over $100 billion, or a stunning 8 per cent of aggregate household income” Basically this is chewing up retirement savings, and there is only so far that policy can be taken, but I hadn’t realised that the amount contributing to income was so great. If the draw down becomes greater than the money going in, then prices for equities and bonds will probably be impacted. That’s basic supply and demand.

    It’s been of interest to me that probably many households are accessing those retirement funds early to cover day to day expenses under the guise of financial hardship. Otherwise, they probably wouldn’t have access to the funds.

    Hehe! Mate, if I were in that job of squiring authors and bands about the place, I’d want to avoid the more emotionally dubious folks. Hey, there are probably forums on the interweb discussing who is good, and the others that may fit into the dubious category. I reckon to get that work, you’d need connections.

    That price made no sense to me whatsoever as well, but I don’t have such funds to chuck around in the first place. Imagine the annual insurance premiums required to protect the things? Probably beggar the kingdom! Sorry, my mind is wired for practical concerns… It’s like buying a property which has historic garden or house, the ongoing costs associated with ownership will be a burden. It’s probably some sort of economic concept, but the name escapes me at the moment.

    The awful thing about notable works of art is that if they fall into private hands, the publics access becomes almost non-existent. on the other hand, I’ve noticed that some folks believing that they’re doing something good as a protest, have been damaging such art works of late, although the acts seem to have been less of late. It looks like vandalism to me, and I don’t see the point of the protest. It may be performance art for all I know?

    Hehe! That’s very true about being able to un-see something. What a fun film that was too. 🙂 Ah, perhaps you were sucked into the vortex of a return to nostalgia with the loud shirt? Still, you don’t see them worn much these days, so perhaps you are setting a new fashion trend? As a tourist, we travelled to some out of the way places, so I tried my best to look like an impoverished westerner and not stand out. No point making yourself out to be a target for nefarious folks.

    I’d read about that golden toilet, and candidly I’d feel an enormous amount of pressure to perform in only three minutes and then be out again, with a queue waiting in line to be next. I’m of the opinion that the thieves were doing everyone a favour by taking the option out of circulation. I remember having to use a toilet at a hippy thing, and I was only in there a minute before kids were banging on the door and telling me how much they need to go. Ordinarily I have firm rules about swearing at kids, but then a master of the art needs to know when rules should be adhered too, and when they should be ignored. That time I went with my gut feeling, and as a punishment to the cheeky scamps, I leisurely took my time. That sends a strong message about polite behaviour, and in their moment of troubles, they got to think deeply upon the subject. And possibly, the world is now a better place for my training. I’d like to think so anyway! 🙂

    Porcelain, gold, it’s all the same, in the end! And hey, get this – I finally fixed that toilet this morning. I reckon that if the original toilet had been installed properly, the leaks would never have happened, or at least not for many more years. Anyway, I was a bit nervous when the half and full flush buttons were put to the test (the half flush button is for the water saving flush).

    After fixing the toilet, I went out and did something more useful with my time, like cleaning up and servicing all of the machines we’d used with the burn off the other day. The logs on the ground we burnt off were so dirty that five chains needed sharpening. It’s quite a meditative activity sharpening away, and I just had the music playing in the background. Soothed my otherwise toilet shattered nerves! And this afternoon I filled up the raised beds in the greenhouse with a mix of mulch + compost + coffee grounds + blood and bone meal + gypsum + agricultural lime. It smells like a café in there, but a bit off, because the coffee grounds give a slightly mouldy smell. Oh well, the plants love the stuff.

    Have you ever dared venture into one of those sales stampedes, purely for research purposes? Or even just observed one from a distance. I’ll bet the crowds behaviour have been studied. I’d probably just go without whatever it was they were selling, but maybe that’s just me.

    I’ve noticed that too when cooking meat for guests. The clean up is always massive. Certainly the washing up water needs to be replaced far more often, probably due to the animal fats.

    Being a weekend and a public holiday for you, people will be everywhere.

    We spoke about his ‘pig’ film a few months ago. Did you enjoy that one? I do enjoy tales of the culinary world. It’s a strange place. Hey, he was spotted in a grocery store over in the west of this continent a week or so ago. I think they’re filming something over there.



  31. Chris:

    You remember so well – we did lose money on our first house. A lot of money.

    Oh, well – you know how odd different cultures can be, and what we see around us now is the oddest of the odd. All the flash, as you mentioned, and other off things. But then eventually we reap what we sow. By “we” I mean the collective group of humans in a society, as we are herd animals and what befalls the herd effects everyone, though not to the same degree. In a herd of deer, hunters may kill a few and the rest will run on, but those left will be further away (they hope) and will be more wary.

    I guess it is sometimes better to have something broken from the factory than not at all, depending on the need for it. And that’s only, of course, if one can fix or modify it.

    Bad influence though you are, I will not buy rocks for a gabion. My heart is still a-flutter at what it cost to buy gravel for the driveway and the garden paths.

    When I saw the Hilux mentioned I thought of you, as I used to see them advertised in Footy games. Alas, I have no time for Footy anymore. As for the bells and whistles – I miss so much Mr. Musty’s roll-up windows and his non-electric door locks and, as I mentioned last time, his manual transmission.

    Mr. Baby (that is an alias) eats raw freeze-dried rabbit kibble, softened with water and also some kind of super high end canned food. He is my daughter-in-law’s cat and she is in charge of his diet, though occasionally I am allowed to bake him some chicken. Meanwhile, Mr. Baby is back at work catching chipmunks, baby squirrels, and mice. He is doing extra well with the mice and caught one last night, ate it, and then threw it up right where one comes in the front door. My husband stepped in it. I wondered what all that noise was after I had gone to bed . . .


  32. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article that Pam linked to, about the Toyota Hilux. Here’s the current state of purchasing such a vehicle, in the US. It’s made expensive.


    Airbags are required in a lot of states, so, that drives the price up by thousands of dollars. The taxes. Interesting bit about the “chicken tax.” I did a quick search to see the cheapest new car you can buy in the US. A Nissan Versa, which is still $17 – $18,000. Too rich for my blood.

    That was an interesting article, about people dipping into their retirement funding. House equity is also another area that is tapped, for day to day expenses. I found some of the side bar articles, interesting. That your ports are closed due to hackers. The CBA bank scandal. And their nefarious damage control. We had something similar, with a bank, here, a few years back.

    The savings “tip” they always trot out here, is to give up your daily fancy coffee. Expresso stands are thick on the ground here. According to what I’ve heard at the Club, we have two where the young ladies go topless. A coffee there costs $10 a pop. Giving up fruit seems like madness. Sounds more like some fad diet.

    Just for poops and giggles, I checked into our state retirement investments. Years ago, it was mostly blue chip stocks. Boy, have they diversified.


    Just a two page pdf. We have one of the most solid retirement funds, in the country.

    The word you were looking for? Overhead? As being in over your head? 🙂 Don’t feel bad. The other day I was fumbling for a word. Can’t remember what it was.

    Some art that ends up in private hands, ends up back in public collections. Eventually. There are tax advantages. Auction houses often play close to the chest, as to who buyers are. I always wonder where things have disappeared to.

    I’m glad your unnecessary toilet drama is over. Nothing like zenning out on simpler gardening or maintenance tasks.

    Nick Cage is filming something called, “The Surfer.” It’s being filmed in SW, WA. In Busselton. Cage declares war on a local surf gang. It’s described as a “psychological thriller.”

    I have H for a few days. Elinor had a burst appendix, and had to have surgery. The perfect house guest. She can stay forever, as far as I’m concerned. She’s been having some skin problems. I’m trying out cutting the dairy out of her diet (no more yoghurt) and giving her a little dab of peanut butter, morning and night. Seems to be working.

    LOL. I had one of those days, yesterday. Had a lot of errands to run, and nothing seemed to be panning out. I went in search of those frozen turkey loafs, and no dice. I’m beginning to think I might resort to a Cornish game hen, or a very plump chicken. Unless I can find a very small turkey. But every one I see are big honkers. We’ll get one more food box, before the big day. Might be something interesting, in there.

    I don’t like crowds to begin with, so, no, I’ve never waded into Black Friday. Due to the craziness, a lot of places have put their Black Friday sales, on line.


    After a rather fraught day, I settled in to watch the new “Crazies.” It’s a remake of a 1973 George Romero movie. Not exactly a zombie movie, but sort of. A military bio weapon gets into the water supply of a small, rural town.

    I settled in with a big plate of shrimp nachos. Fresh chives and dried tomatoes and basil from the garden. Mushrooms, shrimp and grated Swiss cheese, on top, to hold the whole thing together. Tasty. Lew

  33. Hi Pam,

    Sorry, I’ve run short of time to reply this evening, but will do so tomorrow. Certainly I could blame society for this slackness, but a long day of work can also easily be the cause! 🙂



  34. Hi Lewis,

    The Hilux is often in the number number one spot for vehicle purchases in this country. It’s been available down here since almost day one of the production run, and they’ve always sold well. I tend to believe that they are too big now to be of commercial use – the rear tray being so high off the ground. And some folks use the four door version to enjoy some tax breaks. You guys get the even biggerer Tacoma, and that’s a grey import down here and I was almost driven off the road by one long ago because the thing is so wide. Hmm. The new back to basics version though is pretty much what you and I have been saying for many years now. The market for the thing will be massive.

    The chicken tax was interesting, and supposedly a way of protecting your local manufacturers against the Europeans, and Japanese as in this case. For your interest, US$18k converts to about AU$28k. You could purchase the Suzuki Dirt Mouse for cheaper than that which surprised me. How do people afford vehicles in your country if that thing is the cheapest?

    Exactly, all those strategies are simply another way of letting the good times roll a little bit longer now. Only when every other option is exhausted, will reality kick in. And who knows when that will be? They all look to me like throwing anything and everything under the bus in order to keep things going. There are better strategies, such as conserve and maintain what we got, but those are boring and tedious.

    Hehe! Well the view might be nice, but can they produce a decent coffee? And life is way too short for take away coffee. Ceramic washable cups are never out of fashion. The fruit thing really sounds like madness to me. It’s only your health…

    I’ve long wondered about the question of diversification, if only because so much of the excess mad cash generated, gets poured into those sorts of markets seeking yield (capital, income or both). After a while the inflows become so great that issues surrounding risk might be ignored (that’s my guess). In some ways it looks like a form of inflation, in that there is ever more mad cash chasing a finite quantity of real wealth. I’ve read some weird stories about what constitutes cash investments, and shuddered. Lucky you! And that’s cool.

    Yes, overhead may be the way of it. Always first on the chopping block when times get tight.

    You can sort of understand why auction houses might not publicly announce the purchasers due to those folks suddenly making themselves a target for thieves.

    Thanks and zenning out on other work was just what was needed. The toilet dramas was a bizarre incident where everything that could go wrong, went wrong. And genuinely, it looked originally like a ten minute job.

    Go Nick Cage! And sometimes gangs pick the wrong person to mess with. Best not get involved with surf business. The shop owners had a blast with the actor. Hollywood actor Nicolas Cage spotted in Busselton ahead of filming The Surfer movie

    Shoot! I better get writing. We began work early today, and finished late, although the day was unhurried and we had only vague plans. The work sort of flowed in that regard, but yeah, already past 8pm here…

    Anywhoo, we planted out the tomatoes in the greenhouse, cleaned up the sapling fence enclosure and planted the rest of the peas and beans in there. Brought three large rocks back up the hill and placed them in the low gradient path rock wall. Sewed up a gabion cage. Emptied another older rock gabion cage, and used the rocks to fill up one of the cages we put in place last week. Phew… Couldn’t have done much more than that!

    Hope Elinor is doing OK? And H would always be a delightful house guest, being of the finest and noblest of lineages. It comes naturally to such dogs! A little bit of coconut oil each day with the feed may yield results too.

    Go with the chicken. Sometimes a person has to go against the grain at such moments. And chickens are better made for ovens than monster sized turkeys. Although not all chickens are the same. Hope the tide has turned for you?

    I’ll definitely check out the insane moments, but 18 minutes is more than I have to spare right now. 🙂 The horror of zombie films might not stack up all that well in comparison. Yum! Yum! Home made pizza tonight! Should assist with the writing, maybe… 😉

    Gotta bounce! And better get writing.


  35. Yo, Chris – Well, I certainly couldn’t afford a new vehicle, right now. Without incurring a lot of debt. No thanks. That’s why the second hand car market, is so hot right now.

    The Club has a membership option (it’s just the Club … has nothing to do with AA as such). $10 a month or $100 a year. There’s also a couples option. If you spring for the year, you get a ceramic coffee mug. Or, you can just buy one for $5. I drag mine, to and from. It’s pretty grungy, which really bothers the ladies. So, I guess, clean coffee cups are a chick thing. 🙂

    I suppose if you purchase art and keep a low profile, your insurance might be less. And, folks in that strata probably have some pretty elaborate security.

    I thought it was pretty funny (and admirable) that the little grocery store only took cash. And only Australian cash, at that. Although for a selfie and a little PR, I would have given the man what he wanted.

    I think the peanut butter is working pretty good, on H. Way less scratching. It’s a good grade of peanut butter. But I think I’ll cut it back to once a day. Now that she has her “loading dose.”

    If I want to go cheaper and faster, I could even spring for turkey sausage. Hmmm. I’ll have to think about that. Of course, a chicken carcass would yield some nice soup, and maybe, stock.

    H and I are headed for the Club. I have a couple of bags of food to take down. That’s it until another food box shows up, next Friday. Unless I get a donation. We’ll see. Lew

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