Good Mood

Took a phone call the other day from some bloke I barely know. He was asking me for assistance with a basic work problem. The thing is, the bloke made the mistake of not offering me anything in return for my assistance. He just made his demands, and guess he just hoped for the best. I’m not into that story, and terminated the phone call. To ensure there were no future misunderstandings, he was bluntly told that if he wants help, he has to pay. I pick my charities, and he was no friend.

It’s hard to know when to provide assistance, and to what degree. Many years ago, when in the corporate world I ran a graduate program. Eight young enthusiastic assistant accountants reported to me. It was a lot of fun that job, and as you’d imagine, the young accountants worked hard and were kept well entertained. If they weren’t laughing, I wasn’t doing my job properly! However, you could only help them all just so far though. Training is hard work, and there are times when the trainee believes they know better. Being given enough rope, is a hard way to learn when things go wrong, but also an effective training tool.

The bloke who phoned me up was no trainee though and should have known better. And I guessed that he could afford to pay me for the work. My blunt response was intended to get across the idea that assistance was a possibility, but given there was only the most tenuous of connections, it had be done on a business footing. After all, we live in a society which has swapped social obligations, for monetary obligations.

It’s a bit of a shame that the monetary arrangements which underpin society seems to be getting a bit messed up of late. When prices for stuff and services, not to mention the cost of mad cash, all increase faster than community expectations, that’s a problem for the system. Monetary obligations are in place because it is the favoured system at the moment, but historically there were other methods to navigate transactions between unrelated individuals, such as social obligations.

There’s a lot of strange things going on right now with money. One of the unspoken ideas standing just out of sight and lurking behind current economic theories, is that demand should always exceed supply. This of course keeps prices rising, but also ensures that needs or wants go unmet. Push on either variable (demand or supply) too far in any direction, and strange things begin happening. Each week, I believe around 11,500 new immigrants arrive in this country. This sustains the demand pressure on housing. Yet, as the supply of available housing gets quickly consumed, prices continue to rise. There are winners and losers in that story. And I read somewhere the other day that an estimated 1,600 people each week are becoming homeless, and some of those even have full time employment and a good rental history.

These sorts of arrangements are crazy. But then the idea that it is even possible to grow an economy for ever and ever, amen, is bonkers. At best it is a belief, at worst it defies rationality.

My own lived experience suggests that house prices relative to wages are a good proxy measure for the declining real wealth. Based on that, as a society we’ve been in decline for a long while now. When I was child, things were different. My mother who was single, worked full time, had three kids, yet managed to afford to buy a house and put three meals on the table each day. We never had a lot of other stuff, we rarely went anywhere, but the basics were covered. Nowadays, that same scenario would probably place a family into the growing ranks of the 1,600 additional homeless folks each week.

You hear a lot of strange stories disparaging those earlier days. My mother had to get her father to guarantee the mortgage for the house, but the arrangement was cheap enough to manage on a single income. And my understanding was the guarantee was never called upon. A common misrepresentation you hear about those days is that ‘interest rates were so much higher back then’. Sure, true, but when a house cost three times an individuals annual salary to purchase, the interest paid wasn’t that great a factor. Nowadays however, when a house costs around ten years of salary, but for two people (ie: 20 years equivalent), any increase in the cost of mad cash (interest rates) is going to hurt badly.

I’m not suggesting my mother as a single mother had an easy time of it, and neither did her father. As a young bloke, he’d gone to Europe to fight in WWII. A harsh time that. There were a lot of things to cause the people of Germany to lose their minds and begin WWII, and out-of-control inflation was certainly part of that story. You can only hope our leaders in the west recall their history?

I think about history as a long series of connected incidents. A flow. And the old bloke weaves in and out of that story from time to time. A radish from the garden will remind me of his vegetable patch, which took up most of his backyard. He didn’t have an economic need to grow the vegetables, far from it actually. He told me he grew them because he’d grown up as a child in the depression. I had little comprehension at the time as to what he meant. It’s funny too, the old bloke never chipped into our household, despite the impoverished state. What he did do, was send me to, and pay for my final four years of High School at a more academically oriented private school, than the school for disadvantaged kids I’d previously been at. Paid for my sisters schooling too. So, I guess you could say that he also picked his charities. And over the years I’ve been grateful for his guidance.

Tall rain bearing clouds, and the mushroom cloud to the right looks like someone bombed Woodend

It’s rained every day for ten days. Some days the rainfall was epic. The long term forecast was for a hot and dry spring and summer. The forecast failed to mention continent sized storms originating from the Coral Sea, then heading west and south west. The prevailing winds usually tend to arrive from the west, so there’s a lot of strangeness to the storm.

Some days the clouds were very low.

The shady orchard was a little bit more shady than usual

With almost 200mm / 8 inches of rain falling over the ten days, it’s been very difficult spending any time outdoors. Fortunately there is always work to be done in the house. Regular readers will recall that we’ve been replacing the faulty vinyl wrapped cupboard doors in the kitchen, with cupboard doors which we painted ourselves. And they’re blue!

More cupboard doors in the kitchen were replaced this week

The work in the kitchen is almost finished, and there are now only two very large cupboard doors left to replace.

The replacement of the faulty cupboard doors is almost complete

We had a break in the rain which lasted for about five hours. During that time, we flattened out around eighty chicken wire tree guards and placed them in a nice neat pile for future re-use. Truth to tell, the cages were jumbled into a massive mess of tree guards. Some of them had been there so long, that plants had been growing through the cages. A month or so ago, we noted a rabbit escaping into the mess, and then decided to clean the area up. I don’t generally show photos of the few messier parts of the farm for fear that readers eyeballs will be strained.

Two neat piles of about 80 large tree guards

Whilst stuck inside the house due to the considerable rain, I’d begun implementing a cunning plan: Project tiramisu. Having grown up in a single mother household, I was forced to learn how to cook from about the age of 12. It’s a handy skill, which I recommend people learn, especially given how often we have to eat. Based on my experiences in other households, people have been known to resist this call to practical knowledge. Hmm.

But yeah, I know my way around the kitchen, which I learned whilst being house broken as a kid. Hasn’t hurt me none! Maybe… Anyway, I’d long had a desire to cook the Italian dessert tiramisu from scratch. The weather made the decision as to the timing. There’s three parts to the recipe: The lady finger biscuits; The mascarpone cheese; and then assembling the dessert. But firstly, today two batches of the biscuits were made. Yum!

One of the two trays of lady finger biscuits to be used in a tiramisu

A few of the plants are now traumatised by the rain, some of the apricots in particular have gone into shock and dropped lots of leaves. Other plants such as the berries are having a massive party. We picked the first early batch of raspberries this week.

The first batch of raspberries ripened this week

The berries are collected over their harvest time and frozen. When there are enough of them stored in the freezer, we turn the lot into very tasty jam. Home made raspberry conserve is a real taste sensation.

This year we’ve run an experiment with the strawberries. The more usually expected strawberry varieties were fed and nurtured. We even thinned out all the runners and increased the spacing between the remaining plants. So far, the harvest has been good in that we’ve grown one strawberry. It was quite nice, we ate half each. All the plants want to do is produce runners. I hate them because every couple of weeks I have to remove all of the runners. Look at them, it’s feral in there.

Strawberry plants grow in the grape enclosure

Late last year we planted out about six Alpine strawberry varieties in the greenhouse. The production from these six plants is astounding, and instead of producing runners, they produce berries and self seeded replacement plants. The experiment has been won by the Alpine strawberries. They’re also being collected and frozen. One of them even produces a white berry!

Alpine Strawberry production for one or two days

The next berry crop to ripen are the blackberries, but they’re still weeks away from being ready to pick. The signs are good though.

Hopefully we have another good blackberry harvest

We’ve been experimenting with a few new crops this growing season, and radishes have been an absolute winner of a plant. Despite the cooler growing season (so far) a radish seems to go from seedling to edible tuber in about four weeks. That’s very fast growth. And they remind me of the radishes I used to eat straight out of the soil of my grandfathers garden. I doubt in those days I washed them before consumption.

Pink Lady Slipper Radish is an awesome variety

Onto the flowers:

Balm of Gilead weighed down by the rain with Red Smoke Bush to the rear
We attempted to start some more Canary Island Foxgloves from seed, but it has been too cold (so far)
Red Daisies have enjoyed the decent rainfall this week
A lovely Rose defies the cold wet weather

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 20’C (68’F). So far this year there has been 948.8mm (37.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 807.6mm (31.8 inches)

54 thoughts on “Good Mood”

  1. Beautiful, rainy pictures <3

    Those are the bluest cabinets I've ever seen. Blue is my favorite color, and that is a brilliant shade of it. Quite cheery!

    And the radish — an art piece.

  2. Yo, Chris – Your tale of the fellow who expected something for nothing brought to mind that old fashioned word, “bounder.” Perhaps a bit harsh for the situation, but that’s the word that came to mind.

    I always consider (and offer) payment, for any service provided. Sometimes insist on it. Otherwise, obligation is incurred. Here at the Institution, I’m constantly deflecting things offered. As by observation, the obligation is never ending. LOL. During You Know What, it became general knowledge that I had a stash of toilet paper. I was asked for some, and demanded “Gold, guns or canned goods,” in return. Reactions were … I guess, bemused. But by gosh, I got my canned goods. 🙂 And no obligations incurred, on either side.

    Not to get too specific, but any idea where your chicks, you’re eight assistant accountants ended up? Successful careers?

    It’s the same here. People employed full time (or more) who can’t afford housing and are homeless. At least, locally, not only is housing in short supply, but also retail space for small business.

    That’s an interesting way to look at past high interest rates. Something I hadn’t considered. That then, loans and mortgages were smaller, and ran for shorter terms. One even heard about people really buckling down and paying off obligations, early.

    Maybe someone did bomb Woodend, and you just haven’t got the memo, yet. Time to break out the Potassium Iodide pills. 🙂

    Your shady orchard photo pretty much looks like our weather, quit a bit, in winter. Leaves were not gathered, today. When I stopped by the library, it was bucketing down. I hung about for awhile, but no joy. Of course, as soon as the sun went down, it cleared up. 🙁 The library is closed on Mondays, so, I may have another go at it, tomorrow.

    Your kitchen is really looking nice. One of the caregivers here, showed me a picture of her bathroom remodel. $50,000 +. Lots of marble. I told her it looked like a backdrop for more frisky aspects of the Roman empire. And if they had a hard time paying it off, they could probably rent it out as a set, to some production company, that specializes in, shall we say, adult entertainment. 🙂

    Oh, no fair! We only get the “after” picture of the tree guards? When they’re beaten into submission, and all neat and tidy?

    Your Lady Fingers for the Tiramisu look wonderful. Would you say that’s the hardest part of the making? I went down a bit of a rabbit hole, looking into Mascarpone cheese. There are sure a lot of different soft spread cheeses, you can make out of milk or cream.

    Another rabbit hole I peered into was, are there mild radishes. Yup. Some varieties are milder. And, the “hot” in radish is in the skin. So peeling them dials down the heat. So does soaking them in ice water, for an hour.

    Your raspberries and Alpine strawberries seem to be coming along, quit nicely. One can almost taste the joy of the jams they will produce.

    The Canary Island Foxgloves and red Daisies sure are cheery. The rose is lovely, and looks to have another one, coming on behind. I don’t suppose you have a lot of time to deadhead the roses. I had a hard time just keeping up with Elinor’s small patch of Cosmos. Lew

  3. Hi Joanna,

    Hope your weather is nice?

    It sure was a lot of rain, and gratefully received. 🙂 There’s more rain to come towards the end of this week. It’s funny isn’t it, but people think of Australia as one vast desert. It’s more of a vast arid land than a desert, but there’s also huge tracts of rainforest, and here would support such a forest if not for the infrequent bushfires.

    Nice choice of a favourite colour! Respect. 🙂 Actually that particular shade of paint was not as readily available as you’d imagine, and it’s turned out pretty well so thanks for saying that. And the deep blue is a good contrast with the white trim and benchtops. It didn’t cost much to do either, the painting and installation has just required a lot of work.

    My grandfather used to grow that exact same variety of radishes, and the plant has brought back a lot of good memories. It’s quite a mild tasting tuber too, and is good in salads.



  4. Hi Göran,

    Peace to you as well.

    It’s a good thing going into summer with full water storages, and there is more rain to come later this week. For your interest we have about 130kL of storage. It’s not much, but most years it’s enough. Like flat land, I dream of access to town water supplies! Although the rain water stored is very pure, and probably easier on the plants.

    For some unknown reason, both varieties of the most intelligent birds around, reside here: the Corvidae; and the Parrots. Man, they keep me on my toes, and demand their share of the produce. I have a better grasp of the needs of the Magpies (Corvidae) than that of the King Parrots, mostly because the relationship has been established longer. Magpies can live for up to 20 years and have excellent memories. Some of the larger birds around here live for up to 80+ years, and I’d hate to think what they’d have to say about human activities.

    Ouch. Such week long cold spells tend to put an early end to the growing season for you. I often think of the fictional character from Tolkien’s epic fantasy story, Ghân-buri-Ghân and his remark: “Wind is changing”. A stable climate is a wonderful thing, and right now I’d have to suggest that there is an epic abuse of the commons going on in relation to that. The climate here is likewise shifting, but I’m as confused about the subject as you and the plants are.

    Those sugar beets are the traditional way to obtain sugar in your part of the world, other than honey which is problematic. It’s such a useful product, and takes a lot of processing. You know you can process them at home? A friend of mine did exactly that with the sugar beets he grew. The results were quite tasty and convinced me that they’re a good crop to grow. Obviously 700 tonnes would be too much to do at a home scale… Incidentally, some back of the envelope maths suggests that the beets would convert into about 140 tonnes of sugar. I’m sure people may decry, “don’t worry about it, we can import the sugar instead”.

    Have you thought about growing any sugar maples? I have a few of those trees growing here, and they’re really fast growing.

    The book seems good, and I read a few pages. A Christmas tree farm? It sounds like a good idea and glad they could make a go of it. When you remove a tree from the land, you take away a lot of soil fertility. You’d see that in your nursery beds. The dude would have to add back, and he was obtaining wood chips.

    I like your observations in relation to the ‘P’ word, which seems a bit of a sacred cow sort of concept to me – and I used to write for that lot and have ripped many of their ideas. I agree with the ‘afterwards’ you mention. Some cheeky military folks have suggested that ‘few plans survive encounter with the enemy’, and whilst the natural world is most definitely not to be thought of as an enemy, the point is still valid.

    Ha! Did you see the link a week or two ago to the article of some rural council passing a law (in dairy country) far to the east of here, that grass was not to exceed 30cm in height? It looked stupid to me, the local farmers said that it was at best confused, and it appeared that the council had to then explain themselves and address the issue. What a fine joke.

    The farmers in the Netherlands seem to have come together as a group, although I’m hazy on the finer details of that story.

    Like you, I haven’t met too many people who are attempting to live off the land. And I have no idea why this may be. Perhaps it is the moment in history in which we both live? It’s a mystery, but the land can be awesome if properly attended too, even in crazy growing seasons.

    Hehe! I read a local history from this very area, which read much like that. Truthfully, I have little desire to go anywhere else these days. Possibly this is a result of moving around so much when I was younger. We’ve travelled, but home is good too.

    Would we change? Maybe not. Life is something of a journey, and in order to be where you are today, you would have had to travel the road in which you did. Had you travelled a different road, I suspect your destination would now be different.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Hmm, I’ve not heard of the word ‘bounder’ before. Hang on… … Yeah, that word needs to make a come back. A lack of honour is something that people worry about when conditions are more local. Such people I reckon put their own needs front and centre, thus the troubles.

    Sometimes I do things gratis, but as the blog suggested, it’s not appropriate for other people to demand that outcome, just because they thought it was possible. And when I’m guessing they may have deep pockets, it’s an embarrassment to all concerned. Dude, I still don’t understand the whole toilet paper demand during you-know-what. I recall that here we made the amusing observation that the correct number of rolls to hold was 42, but still. Well done you for enforcing your boundaries, that act tends to earn respect. Some may bristle, but seriously that is their issue. And I like your clever line and am filing that away for future use (always handy to have clever retorts saved up for timely usage).

    I don’t really know what happened to them all. But when I was in the role, I got them all to use their brains, whilst keeping them entertained. As you’d imagine, the big cheeses didn’t have the slightest clue as to what was going on, but they ended up with a good crew. 😉 Some of the hardest stories were the folks who’d spent a few years at a big firm as err, cannon fodder, only to end up with me. I let them down gently because the earlier experience they’d received wasn’t nearly as good as they’d been indoctrinated to believe. And to add fuel to the fire, I always ensured they worked a standard day, and that their conditions were reasonable. After a while, they knew they’d been had in their earlier roles. Man, the stories I heard.

    I’m not sure how the commercial / retail side of that story is going. I get the impression that office space is over supplied, but retail and warehousing may be a bit of a tighter market. Dunno.

    It’s like car loans. Back in the day, people used to pay cash. Then loans were three years with a big balloon payment. Then five years. And now I’m hearing of six years, and people re-financing the balloon payout payment. What I take away from that is that cars are getting more expensive. And buckling down and paying it off, yeah that used to be a goal. Debt used to be thought of as the Devil.

    Ook! I hope they haven’t bombed the town, that would be not good, and hopefully at least the winds don’t blow from that direction at the very least. It’s only fair.

    It looks like that at times during winter too, except it’s meant to be summer! 🙂 Actually, it was quite warm here today and the plants are growing. It’s like a jungle out there. After paid work was done, we headed out applying hedge trimmers and mowers to the jungle. Carbon steel is a wonderful material.

    Holy carp! Why would anyone spend $50k on a bathroom? For your info, the replacement cupboard doors were $700 and the paint was under a $100. I know which amount I’d rather be spending… Very funny! Those Roman’s sure knew their naughty bits! 😉

    If I showed you the before ‘mess’ photo, you might sprain your eyeballs, and who knows what might happen then? Is this something you feel you could endure? Hehe!

    Making the cheese will be pretty easy by comparison. I feel that the biscuits will be the hardest aspect of the dish, but will let you know once the tiramisu is complete. Might make the cheese late Wednesday at this stage. Dunno.

    The radish variety growing here is a very mild tasting tuber. Hardly any zing, which I’m happy about. They’re good fill for salads, and any plant that can produce a harvest in four weeks, surely is a good thing. Nah, we eat them skin and all.

    Yummo! Picked more strawberries and raspberries today. You have to get onto that most days, lest the forest critters descend on the berries.

    Thanks, but sadly free time is an imaginary thing which I’ve heard of, but don’t truly believe in. I reckon we got the seeds for the Canary Island Foxgloves started too early, and they’ve now rotted. Might have to go back to the drawing board with those plants. Incidentally, I’ve never dead headed roses.

    As I mentioned to Goran, few plans survive contact with the enemy (not that nature is an enemy, but it’s more of a metaphor). I prefer a more emergent design for the property. The ideas we had a decade ago, certainly aren’t the same as the ones we’re implementing these days. I used to write for that lot… They’re alright, but the whole food forest thing here was a failure. Maybe I did something wrong? Dunno.

    That’s the plan with the excess produce. 😉

    You’d have to suggest that the sunk ships were surplus to their requirements, or maybe what about the possibility that the British were unable to crew them? A fully crewed ship being a less risky proposition than an unmanned, or only lightly manned ship. Blocking a shipping channel would be a bit of a dog act. Remember that ship which got stuck in the Suez Canal a year or so ago? Ook!

    I like how your mind works. If ever I’m faced with a castle siege, you are the man.

    We rarely cook desserts here, and you don’t see tiramisu around, probably because the product cost is low, but like most cakes, they have to be turned over reasonably quickly due to risk of spoilage. I am having fun with the recipe, yeah! Hey, that’s exactly how I measure ingredients out. I prefer the physical cup, over that of the measuring cup, not to mention tea spoons. 🙂 Exactitude, what is this thing? What surprised me about the lady finger recipes was that there were so many of them, and they were all different. How does that work?

    The chapter discussing sentient rocks was read on Friday, and yeah there were moments of discomfit. But then, did you notice that there was a note that some rocks appreciated being put to use? I’d like to believe that no rocks were harmed (maybe) in the construction of the various projects around here, and more importantly, the overall composition of the rock walls produce such a pleasing effect, that surely the rocks aren’t annoyed, maybe?

    I’m aware of that issue as to plant varieties. Hmm. I’ve read elsewhere that with a bit of work, you can bring hybrid varieties back to open pollinated varieties – then continue on with the journey of plant breeding. The thing is, you wouldn’t want to be hungry and doing that work.

    Did the book mention that it was the Victorian era folks who demanded that botanical gardens back off from their scientific approach and instead produce collection of rocks, err, sorry plants, which are so arrayed as to be visually pleasing? Mate, honestly, the blackberries are here to stay. It’s done that story. I’ve watched people poison them, grub them out, whatever. They always come back. Best to give up and enjoy the berries is my thinking.

    All those botanical gardens are lovely. Spent a while just drooling over the photos. So nice.

    Hey, I’ve heard of people stealing plants from roadside gardens and parks. It happens. Back in the day when gardeners were real gardeners, they’d take cuttings… 😉



  6. Hello Chris
    The current problems in Australia are replicated here; I tend to have very little patience with the moaning that I hear. Son is far more tolerant of it and keeps pointing out to me that I grew up in a very different era such as your grandfather, and know how to manage. The debt that people blithely take on, absolutely staggers me.
    It is really wet outside and I have overflowing gutters.


  7. Yo, Chris – Another good word, from about the same time period as “bounder,” is “cad.” I see they’ve re-made Edith Wharton’s “The Buccaneers,” again. Doesn’t sound near as fun as the original series. If one goes by the reviews.

    Oh, I’m still keeping my toilet paper supply topped up, above 42 rolls. Because of life, the universe, and everything. 🙂

    And, from what I hear, a lot of those 6 year car loans, are for used cars. How many used cars last longer than 6 years?

    I guess that 50k bathroom, involved a lot of structural work. Still.

    Some recipes are like that. I look in my cook books, or on-line, and there are many different twists on a theme. Part of it might be cooks, trying to put their own twist on a recipe. Or aspiring to the “perfect,” whatever. Just give me a fairly simple recipe, with a predictable outcome. I am shocked, shocked I tell you that you play fast and lose with measurements. 🙂

    I read the first chapter of “Sand Talk,” last night. I can see why you take to it. All that banging on about patterns … 🙂 I don’t know if I’ll take to it, or not. I’ll give it a couple more chapters.

    Garden forms go in and out of style. Seems to swing between rather formal and geometric layouts, and more “natural” settings. In your part of the world, it seems The Powers That Be, wanted to re-create England. All fine and good, but sometimes, there could be unintended consequences. What I noticed about the stories of a lot of the gardens, as that as the world opened up, and transportation got itself sorted out, there was a lot of plant swapping going on. Some of it had to do with nostalgia and aesthetics, but a lot of it was the search for economically valuable plants.

    Well, after I walk the dog, this morning, I’ve got to head down through the round-about of death, and do a bit of business at the credit union. Not looking forward to a morning foray in that direction. But, the Club pantry is looking a bit bare, and two people donated me $40, yesterday. As the Dollar + store is down that way, I’ll kill to two rocks with one bird. 🙂 . We’re getting our monthly food commodities boxes, on Wednesday. I wonder if there will be any kind of a Christmas theme, going. Sure wasn’t much that screamed “Thanksgiving,” last month. Lew

  8. Hi Chris,

    Are you sure they aren’t called Albine Strawberries?

    Where are these 1600 extra homeless folks going? Homelessness is a collective failure of society. Four walls and a roof can’t be so hard/expensive? I suspect there may be people holding multiple, empty properties. In theory, the extra people should garner the economic activity to build like the good Baron von Münchhausen pulling himself up by his own jockstrap.

    We’ve “made” tiramisu but with pre-bought biscuits. I guess that means we have been disqualified? It is the difference between a manufacturing plant and an assembly plant.

    I heard something on the tv the other week that freaked me out. I think it was the German defence minister saying that the Germans should be more military minded or words to that effect. What?!? Come again my friend? What would your grandfather say about?

    I saw you implementing the Swiss Chards last week. One of the most reliable, weather-independent vegies in the garden over here. Kale remains undefeated though. I will make a note of the pink lady slipper radishes.



  9. “clean dirt”- eating radishes right out of the garden? That was an expression from my dad, when similar things were known to happen.

    messy spots on the farm- maybe one of the reasons I don’t share a lot of photos 🙂
    Let’s face it, part of being frugal is saving stuff that might still have some use, and it can’t all be tucked on a shelf under roof. Many thing are also of seasonal utility, and just take up a lot of room. That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it.

    We’ve had a couple light snows now, but are still way behind it total precipitation for the year.

    funny money- yeah, Orlov predicted that the collapse would occur in stages, with the financial house of cards first to go. Regardless, it gives one pause when these confusing and wild swings in the economic headlines keep ratcheting up.

    lady fingers! OK, now I think I need to try that myself. Often the ladyfingers from the store, if you can even find them, are not that enticing. I’ve done plenty of baking, but never thought to make those.

    Any tips for growing Alpine strawberries? I’m tempted to try them here if I can find a variety that is especially cold hardy.

  10. Hi Inge,

    Here, I must politely disagree with you, and admit that I lean closer to the opinions of your son. Of course, it comes with a story, sorry! 🙂

    Having grown up in an impoverished household, I’ve watched over the course of my life that housing has become less affordable relative to a households income (by a factor of around seven times, I estimate). The flip side of this story, is that people tolerate this general slide into poverty because there is now more ‘stuff’ per capita (ignoring the digital stuff). And here, the word stuff is used to describe electronic geegaws, disposable houshold items, overseas holidays, and overly large and complicated vehicles (do we really need a computer to switch on windscreen wipers?) Stuff is the opiate of the masses, and digital stuff may be more guilty of that charge. At best stuff should be limited by the exercising of one’s will against the constant temptations. People are not trained to do so, are they?

    I have a hunch, that you live your life and manage your finances in some ways, the same as I do. If that is the case this is a very old fashioned choice, and I respect that. It is hard to forget the effect that the very first unsolicited credit cards had upon the adults in the household way back in the early 1980’s – it was as if the devil himself had come to dinner. Slowly, bit by bit, the resolve to not use the debt dissolved. It was always too much temptation to bear, and the lenders knew this.

    As a long time fan of Grand Designs UK, I watch the slide into monster loads of debt, with a feeling of horrid fascination. Such a path is anathema to me, but again, that is an unpopular perspective.

    I have friends who are both older and younger than I. What I’ve observed is that neither ages were as affected by the recession in the 1990’s as people in my age group. Due to being only young adults, we were the last in with jobs, so we were the first out into the world of unemployment. People older remained secure in their employment, and people younger were at school. It’s been a long time since people have felt the teeth of economic ill winds, and candidly I believe they may have forgotten that such things can even happen. What is your perspective on that story?

    It’s very wet outside here too, but hot. 88’F today, and very humid.



  11. Hi Crow,

    Albine strawberries indeed! Thanks for the mash up of words. You got me wondering why some strawberries remain white when ripe. Fun fact: Turns out that the primary ripening proteins is Fra a1, which is missing from those strawberries. Doesn’t seem to alter the taste.

    Interestingly, you know how cold winters are here? Yes, yes, not as cold as where you are, but cold enough. A newsletter from the council (maybe?) said that there are about 85 homeless people in this shire. They’re not outdoors (as far as I’m aware), so those folks may be couch surfing, and living out of their vehicles. I have seen a bloke and his daughter sleeping rough in their vehicle one early spring morning in the local picnic ground, and the temperature there must have been near zero. It would not have been comfortable, and they looked miserable.

    The process behind constructing a house down here is heavily weighted towards the project builders. Do something different than that, and you’re in for a very complex legal process. It needn’t really be that way, but it is. I’m of the opinion that the number one economic goal being pursued in the west is to maintain and support house prices. A lot of things appear to be getting as they say ‘chucked under the bus’ to support this.

    Not at all. 🙂 I’m sure your tiramisu would have been excellent. People always ask me what can I do in a smaller living space: Make soap, is my go-to answer. There probably isn’t much difference between commercial and home made lady finger biscuits, other than the preservatives. But soap, there is a massive difference.

    My grandfather would have had some serious thoughts on the matter. I’m different in this regard, and it is possible that the US is withdrawing military support (or more likely, losing whether physically or economically) from your part of the world.

    Oh yeah, kale is awesome! Please do try the radishes. Four weeks from planting of seedlings to harvest is a real winner.



  12. Hi Steve,

    Clean dirt is a keeper! Thanks for that. I wasn’t quite sure whether your dad was warning you against doing that activity, or simply stating a fact, or even some other meaning. But whatever the case may be, it’s a witty observation.

    Hehe! Steve, we’ve all got them. 🙂 I tend to view messy sites around a property, as being places that are on the road to getting cleaned up, we just don’t mention how long that journey will take.

    And that’s true, and in line with what the old timers used to say about ‘re-use, repair, then recycle’. Dumping stuff in the tip isn’t even mentioned by them, and that is often peoples first option. I sometimes read blogs with people who collect and sell off things they find in rubbish, and it’s bonkers what people chuck out which still has an economic value. But, do people want to spend as long as I’ve done this year on repairs? Dunno – and it never stops that job.

    Yikes! Hopefully at least when the snow melts the water works its way into the ground water table.

    I tend to agree with Mr Orlov there. The thing is, at the moment, there are a lot of outside forces with a vested interest in both keeping the present system going, and pulling it down at the same time. I’d certainly watch to see what they’re doing with their reserves. It would be hard to for them to walk away from their previous earnings and reserves, but that is just a guess.

    Go hard, or go home (as they say here!) The recipe was super simple, and required very few ingredients. Next time around I’d add slightly more vanilla extract.

    I reckon Alpine strawberries are easier to grow than the hybrid varieties people expect to see. You will find that the berries are smaller, but the seeds can be started. They’re closer to wild plant stock. They need a fertile growing bed to begin with, but then you back off on the fertilisation – other than that, water and reduced sunlight. The big plus with them, is that they produce berries over a far longer growing season. That’s a big plus for me.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    You don’t hear the word ‘cad’ used much any more. In some ways, society celebrates such people, the news is full of people (and not just blokes) behaving badly. It’s like flipping the earlier societal expectations on their head. I don’t see the appeal, such people seem like trouble to me.

    Ha! It is a truth universally acknowledged that one lacking in mad cash, yet holding great social standing, may be sought after by another with the reverse problems. An old story! 😉 How the two interact from there is anyone’s guess, but you know that there will be problems. Navigating upper society would be a very difficult activity, and no matter how careful or well schooled, a person would give themselves away in the most minor of ways.

    Why would anyone attempt to conclude such a book? The purists appear to have been rather upset by the act. They do so get their noses out joint, don’t they?

    That’s funny, and yeah, what better reason is needed for your choice, other than, you’ve taken the matter under advisement, and drawn your own conclusions. 🙂 For all the hype with the toilet paper, I can’t honestly say that there were genuine no substitute product shortages. I’ve seen some student houses where they used to use the telephone book for such purposes. Didn’t we discuss the use of mail order catalogues way back in the day when they were hung on the back of the toilet door? Performed a double function those things did if you ask me. Talk about captive customers.

    What? Hmm. You’re probably right there. The insurer made some weird comment that prices in the used car market have been going up. It depends on when the car was made, and I reckon yours is at the sweet spot for durability – which I reckon must have been related to peak conventional oil. Nothing lasts forever, sorry to say.

    Have to laugh, many years ago I managed to construct an entire house to lock up (excluding the final fit out) for $45k. Maybe I’ve become a dinosaur when it comes to prices because a $50k bathroom just scares me silly. It’s an interesting subject, and the Editor and I have been having discussions (due to the bushfire risk) as to how to rebuild the place (if needed) in a manner that was better and simpler. Always wise to have a plan B up your sleeve, and hope it’s never needed.

    It is my absolute pleasure to have shocked you! 🙂 There are times for accuracy, then there are times where the ratio of ingredients can be close enough. What intrigued me was that the ratio of ingredients with the four or five recipes for the biscuits I checked out, were all different. I smell a rat there. But yeah I agree, and so tend to shy away from dogmatic recipes, and instead seek an average recipe mashed up out of a few different sources. In some ways you can learn some interesting things about a recipe by doing that, but could also just as easily stuff it up.

    Just between you and I, and I hope that the author isn’t reading, or won’t read this next comment. I got the distinct impression that the first chapter was what looked to me like a ‘poop test’. Hmm. Could be wrong, but I couldn’t shake that feeling. If I may be so bold as to recommend a chapter, it would be: ‘Lines in the Sand’. The young blokes response, was a classic and almost caused me to spit my coffee out. And the young bloke’s spot on too. It’s not word for word what I said to the green peace dude, but it was close enough, and I didn’t think of saying that. I might have. 🙂

    Speaking of coffee, a 2.2 pound brick of dehydrated ground coffee was $38 today.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on garden style, but formal gardens kind of scare me a bit, mostly because I can see the work and heartache involved in the maintenance. Then my mind drifts away to other matters. Dunno.

    And that’s exactly correct. The wealthy hill station gardens over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range set about being more English than the English. I tend to believe that such conceits have been largely let go of (maybe), mostly because the climate here most years, is actually better than what you’d experience in England.

    I’m not seeing too many unintended consequences over in that more fashionable part of the mountain range. If us humans all suddenly disappeared, the forest and the introduced plants would have a massive punch-on, and eventually settle into a weird new version of itself. Anyway, my diet is largely sourced from plants originating elsewhere, so I’d be a hypocrite if I complained about them.

    That Plant Explorer book sort of suggested that the economic opportunities was what drove the process of plant introductions. I guess it also mapped out the diminishing returns of that story.

    Hope you survived the dread round about of death. Sounds horrid and I can understand your reticence. Hope you scored some good stuff for the Club pantry? You would have expected some Thanksgiving themed stuff, that makes sense. I hope you don’t get the stuff with this next box?



  14. Hello Chris
    I find myself appalled that debt is now the norm and that the potential results are not understood at all.
    I often feel sorry for people who tell me about their financial problems, but then I dig down a bit. The further I dig , the less sorry I feel. Their definition of necessities is so far away from mine.
    Am not sure about the particular position of your age group as I know some who managed very well even though they were not financially well off.


  15. Yo, Chris – And, in news from the entertainment world … There’s to be a new Godzilla movie. The 38th (!). “Godzilla x Kong: The New Empire.” Also, Nick Cage is committed to four more films. Then he says he’d like to try television.

    Winston Churchill’s mother was a buccaneer. So was Nancy Astor, the first woman seated in parliament. 🙂

    Oh, some people (with too much time on their hands), work themselves into a froth over unfinished novels, that are finished by someone else. Same thing happened with Austin’s “Sanditon.” There was a sequel to “Gone with the Wind.” But, I think that was a case of the original copyright was about to expire, and they wanted to squeeze a few more bucks out of the idea. More or less.

    Ha! Can’t wait to tell the caregiver that your whole house cost less than their bathroom. I’d guess, they did little of the work, themselves. My Idaho friends have had some very nice bathrooms, but, they did most of the work, and really shopped sales of supplies … hard.

    I do the same thing. Look at several recipes for, say, peanut butter or oatmeal biscuits, and pick the one that looks the most sensible. And as I usually can’t remember which recipe I settled on, I transfer the recipe to a 3×5 card, siting source. That also enables me to note any fiddling I do with the recipe. I think one of the reasons for multiple recipes, is the fear of being accused of plagiarism. Some foodies (with too much time on their hands,) take great delight in pointing out, “She lifted that recipe directly from …” Steal a recipe, claim it as your own, and you WILL be found out.

    I quit liked what Crow & Sheep had to say about assembly vs manufacturing. I’d not thought of it in quit that way, before.

    I read the chapter “Albino Boy,” last night. So. If you touch one of your rocks, and it thrums, I’d leave it alone. 🙂 It got me thinking about Uluru. I can’t say when I first saw a picture of it, but I got the distinct impression that “…that belongs to someone else.” I certainly wouldn’t want to climb it, or, carry pieces of it away. Viewed from a distance is good enough for me.

    There was also a bit about “empty” spaces. Negative space. It’s also a very Japanese concept. What appears empty in plays, poems, art actually contributes to the whole.

    Garden styles? I think they all have their place. Formal vs natural. And, getting back to the Japanese, again, what about Japanese gardens. They may look very natural, but, the execution can be very formalized. I think, maybe, my … tolerance for formal gardens is because when I was a wee small lad, this was within bike riding distance of our house.

    It was also overseen by a wonderful old bandstand. What’s not to like? An almost hidden, secret garden.

    Well, you may remember the plant hunter, David Fairchild. I think he enjoyed the sheer joy of discovery, but someone had to pay for his expeditions. And, it was government money in search of economic return.

    Well, I had a busy day. Made it through the round-about of death, and used the coin counter, as my change jar was overflowing. And, while I was there, got my months walking around money. Then I went to the dollar + store and bought a bunch of stuff for the Club pantry. It occurred to me that what are boxes are lacking is condiments and more substantial “meals in a tin.” Soups, stews and such. Never much of that.

    So, late in the afternoon, it was raining, but I headed out and stopped by the library. Just as I got there, it stopped raining, and I was able to get another bag of leaves, before the sky opened up, again. Check out what Prof. Mass has to say. So far, our local forecast is for “moderate” flooding. But one never knows.

    Then I went to the local variety store, and did some Christmas shopping, for me. A pair of pants, a non-electric kitchen scale (small and cheap) and a couple of fire starters for my go-bag. Also picked up a can opener, for the Club, as they tend to stray. As do my yearly contribution of three or four fly swatters. I stopped into the veg store, and they’re going to start closing, Sundays. Just not enough business to stay open. Dropped off the food at the Club, had a cuppa and a chin wag, and headed for home. Whew!

    My friend Julia passed away, night before last. She will be missed. I was thinking about that. So many people have left my life, for one reason or another, that it just doesn’t have much emotional impact on me, anymore. Lew

  16. Hi Chris,

    I suppose it is not the cold that gets you but the humidity?

    Do you want to play a fun game? It is called ‘turtles all the way down’:
    Q: What is a protein?
    A: Long chains of amino acid residues.
    Q: What are amino acids?
    A: Organic compounds containing both amino and carboxylic acid functional groups.
    Q: What are organic compounds?
    A: A chemical compound containing carbon-hydrogen bonds.
    Q: What is a chemical compound?
    A: Molecules containing atoms from more than one chemical element held together by chemical bonds.
    (truncated text)
    Q: What is reality?

    How far can the process of supporting housing prices go and what would a correction look like? A currency collapse? The mechanics of getting from A to B are lost on me. These things tend to be sorted out politically and that could get unpleasant I think.

    Been to the pub lately?


  17. Hi Göran,

    Hope you’re still reading. The outdated security certificates on your website prevent me from commenting.

    Well done too with all the work! And it really looks cold there. Brr!

    That apple tree might be worth obtaining some scion wood from and propagating it? The reason I’m guessing for the taste given the conditions (looks like a dessert apple to me) is that the freeze converts starches to sugars so as to reduce the freezing point of the cells within the fruit. It’s a clever apple, and respect for noticing it. It would be interesting to see how long the fruit stores, but it might well be a long keeper.



  18. Hi Crow,

    Yes, exactly. For the coldest six months of the year, the humidity is near on 99% for the entire time. I have not experienced a dry winter anywhere, but many sources have told me that is what winters are like in their part of the world, despite the thermometers recording much lower temperatures than here. The coldest I’ve seen here is -2’C, which is cold, but relative to other parts of the world is actually quite mild. And that’s an extreme low temperature too.

    It’s summer here and the windows are open to the cooler evening air, but right now the weather station provides a reading of 71% humidity outdoors. Mountains and forest hopefully attract moisture from cooling and rising air.

    Ha! Reality is why some physicists and some philosophers need to sort out their differences in a cage fight. If anyone discovers what reality is, please keep the answer to themselves. Surely you’ve heard of the dreaded ‘Total Perspective Vortex’? The stuff of nightmares.

    Funnily enough, I lived through a correction of house prices in the recession in the early 1990’s. House prices dropped about 40%. Unemployment was 10%. My friends and I used to do what is now known as ‘pre-loading’ before hitting the clubs on Thursday, Friday and sometimes Saturday nights. I tell ya man, we enjoyed some horrid mixed drinks made of $2 a bottle port mixed with cola. The taxi there and back was shared between as many people as who we could squeeze in. Some of my friends were on unemployment benefits. Stuff was expensive, so you didn’t have much. At one stage I was the only one with a television and stereo amplifier (the one I fixed up a few months ago), and a bunch of people from across the road who I knew, would take over my flat (an apartment with no stairs) Tuesday nights at 11pm to watch the latest Star Trek Next Generation episode on TV. Nobody drove big cars, in fact keeping any old car on the road meant that you had to do the work yourself. A couple of houses I don’t recall even having any heating. Basically, that’s what a correction looks like, and I promise you this, in those days the entertainment and social activities were better. And they’re good today too, so that says something. On an economic front, people just hunkered down and muddled through. Catching up with friends and talking rubbish was a cheap activity.

    Hope that answers your most excellent question?

    Ah, far out, you asked another question – the A to B. From memory it works like a form of contagion. One day you’re oblivious, and the next you’re thrown in the deep end and hopefully you know how to swim. My gut feeling suggests that you know how to swim.

    Dude, the pizza oven died a couple of weeks ago. And it’s an old model that apparently can’t be repaired. Right now, closed for renovations but they have some sort of nibbles menu (plus the awesome pints), and we’ll see how it goes. Alas, it is such nice weather right now to be missing out on a pint and pizza enjoyed in the salubrious environment.

    How’s winter treating you?



  19. Hi Inge,

    I’m equally as appalled as you by the flight into debt, which incidentally most people don’t seem to be even remotely concerned about. If inflation gets high enough, those people may be making a solid bet on the future? Dunno. Truthfully, I believe that this mentality begins at the very top of the food chain, then filters downwards. For if the powers that be cannot restrain themselves, what the heck are lesser folks meant to do? And the money supply continues to be expanded in the face of a decline in real wealth. It’s a mess.

    In a different way, I believe that you’re asking a similar sort of question to that of Crow. Reflecting back upon memories of the last economic correction (and that was three decades ago), the definition of necessities was so much lower back then. The arrangements nowadays are such that material desires become a flow for others, but eventually a person becomes drained – which is what is happening nowadays. Look at the shenanigans over in the land of stuff with the hapless souls who have been blacklisted. A preview of the future perhaps?

    However, you and I talking from a perspective of the outliers.

    Oh! Inge, please don’t get the wrong impression. During that time, I was made redundant from a very cushy government job, then buckled down and took whatever job was available – which was commercial debt collection. I did that work for four years and studied part time at uni at night. Others had different experiences, but I’m not wired to wallow. When opportunities presented themselves in those days, I treated them like the gifts of manna that they were. I could see that many other folks just wanted what they wanted, and that did not work. Not sure about that strategy. Dunno.

    I presume in those days you were already established on the island?



  20. Hi Lewis,

    Godzilla is a massive phenomenon, that I hope we never encounter. Could be messy. No, are there really 38 films in the franchise? Whoa! The trailer showed epic amounts of destruction. Hope you keep some popcorn for those monsters! 🙂

    Do established film stars make the transition to a television format? I’d imagine the work is more regular, but the hours would be greater and the pay lower. The aspiration could be a threat?

    I hadn’t known that about Winston Churchill’s mother. Hmm, from Brooklyn. You know, the impression that I get from photographs is that the lady has a very piercing attention, and could probably pick up slack at a thousand paces. A formidable lady.

    The criticism for that particular novel you mentioned, did seem to be a touch snotty. Had the critics put their shoulders to the task and attempted an ending themselves? I believe Guns and Roses put the idea succinctly: Get thee in the Ring! On the other hand, there are some series of novels which demand to be completed. Cough, cough, splutter: Game of Thrones. I can’t bring myself to watch the series, but surely the author or publisher could afford a ghost writer to do the hard yards under the authors supervision? Maybe the ghost author might even skip a bit of the detail on that textual journey? Alas, it probably won’t happen, and I still don’t know how the series finished, although there was a lot of excitement about the end of the visual series at the time.

    Hope the Sanditon series had scenes of the bathing machines? Hey, there actually are bathing boxes on the beach at some points along the coast. They’re privately owned, and probably at risk of being swept away. Creating a sequel to play upon the copyright laws is a fine commercial idea. Copyright is a real mystery of an arrangement, and may have been a good idea which is possibly taken too far.

    Yeah, I’ll be interested to learn of their reaction upon learning that? We did stuff, good, fast and cheap early on. Nowadays we’ve wound back on the fast bit. Being an old fella has that effect on me. Man, I worked late today. And by around 8:30pm the last thing we had to do was begin making the mascarpone cheese. It’s now curdling in the refrigerator. By this time tomorrow we should know whether I have to go to the nearby town and pick up some ready made cheese. Project tiramisu continues… I’ve got a good feeling though, and we swapped the recommended vinegar for fresh lemon juice.

    Your Idaho friends are my kind of people on that front. That’s how you do stuff in order to martial resources. People are a bit slack on that economic front now, but they’ll learn and adapt quickly enough. I read today about people being blacklisted in the land of stuff, and having access to their digital curancies (sic) being cut off. Whoa. I’d hate to think that our leaders are looking over there and thinking to themselves: We can get in on that action too!

    I know what you mean about picking the most sensible recipe. It never even occurred to me that the interweb would have oddly described recipes, but then it is free. Yikes! I guess successful chefs can hire folks to do such research work? And ever wonder why I suddenly stopped using lyrics? Hmm. A friend in the biz alerted me to the risk that there are people making a living doing that work. What you saw with the sudden change in the blog was me being mildly nervous as to consequences. Action calmed the rattled nerves. At the time I recall you mentioning something about wondering at my chutzpah in using them.

    I’d never thought of the issue that Crow raised in that way either. There’s always new things and perspectives to learn.

    🙂 I’m careful with such rockly matters, maybe. It would be awful to find out the hard way, and at least the rocks aren’t travelling too far. Funnily enough, I reckon some of the hardest of all rocks here, come from another mountain about fifty minutes drive to the north (Mount Alexander). They had a lot of historic granite quarries there on that mountain. And there are still jumbles of cut rocks there today and you can see the remains of the quarries. I reckon when they upgraded the road here in the mid 1980’s, they brought in large boulders from there. Diesel perhaps being cheaper in those days.

    Uluru is amazing, but I have to fess up to having climbed it twice many years ago. I know. Yup. I’ve walked around the rock as well. Honestly, if the continent had a beating heart, that rock would be it.

    The word ‘nothing’ in some ways is an observation, and in fact the word disproves its own meaning that way. An observation cannot be nothing. I suspect that the universe is a far stranger place than our brains can ever comprehend. Quiet and silence can be very powerful acts. One of the things I’m grateful for up here is the absence of a lot of background artificial noise. Helps a person think.

    The sunken rose garden is beautiful, and I too would have enjoyed such a place. Any garden worth it’s weight would have had one of those old bandstands. There are a few still around down here too. I was thinking of gardens more fussy than that.

    Expeditions are not cheap to run, and investors are looking for an economic return. One of the interesting things which stood out to me about the story told in the Plant Explorer book was that there were increasing diminishing returns to the expeditions.

    Glad to hear that you survived the roundabout of death and were able to transact your business. I’d imagine both of those items would move quickly from the Club pantry. On a cold winters night when you get home from a long work day, and it’s far later than usual, an easy meal is a blessing. Had rice, vegetables and eggs for dinner.

    Nice score with the kitchen scale. How do you reckon it stacks up for accuracy? (although my kitchen ready credibility here is under question on that front!) Fire starters are handy. No point staying open if they can’t turn a profit for the day, unless there is some other reason for doing so.

    Incidentally when we were in the big smoke last night, the café and gourmet burger place were noticeably quiet, despite the very nice weather.

    Oh man, I’m so sorry for you. How are you going? It’s always hard to lose a friend, and I hear you about time and exposure to tragedy. People do pass on and disappear from your life, and leave a hole. Hope Julia didn’t suffer too much at the end?

    With condolences and sympathy,


  21. Hello Chris
    Yes, we returned to the island in 1988. My husband received the old age pension and the house that we were able to buy outright, had 2 chalets that we let out in the Summer. All the children had left home at this point. We were set up fine. But I assure you that much of my earlier life had been extremely tough which I consider to have been a good thing. One needs survival experience.


  22. Hi, Chris!

    When I saw those biscuits – yum! Those are yeast biscuits, not cookies?

    It took me a very long while to learn not to be a chump and accede to requests for just about everything, from everybody.

    Our leaders in the west want what they want and they don’t worry too much about how they get it. And they care nought about history as – after all, just ask them – no matter how badly certain strategies failed in the past, should they recall that, they are smarter and will succeed using those same failed strategies this time.

    Ten days of rain – that is miserable. We had that many in a row some years ago, along with a power outage most of that time; I thought I’d go bonkers, even though consoling myself that people in rain forests have to deal with that. We had no generator then either, and thus no running water (though we had rain water . . .). I was able to take bird baths with a bit of water, but couldn’t wash my hair and by the end actually went into a hair salon and had it washed. I’ve been cutting my own hair since I was young, so that was an unusual experience for me.

    My alpine strawberries don’t send out runners. It may be time for me to try a new variety.

    As soon as I saw the Smoke Bush, I knew that “smoke” must be in its name. I love your red daisies. I have some English daisies that never bloomed in the summer, that have just started now that the nights are freezing; it’s really strange. Beautiful damp rose. Thanks for the flowers!


  23. Hello Chris cont.
    Of course life awaits one with a chuckle. My husband became ill and then bedridden. I had way too much to do. The house, the chalets, a swimming pool, large garden and husband. So this was the only property that I ever sold at a loss. This was 1996. It didn’t matter though, as I massively downsized.


  24. Yo, Chris – I found it interesting what you said to Goran about security certificates. I went down the rabbit hole, when I started getting notices that web sites were blocked because “Your clock is ahead.” Nowhere was there any mention of security certificates, but that’s what that was all about. Frankly, the longer it goes on, the more done. Websites that were cut off, reappear (the library catalog is a good example of that. No access for months, and when they revamped their website, I can again access it from my computer.) Graphics, come and go. It all feels very arbitrary, and given the “now you see it, now you don’t,” unnecessary. But, someone, somewhere, must be making money off it.

    Popcorn. I’ve been keeping my eye on the popcorn shelf, at the grocery. For it to go on sale. Right now, it’s about $2 for a 3 bag box. When it goes on sale, it’s considerably less.

    Back when TV was first coming in, film actors scorned to do it. Really looked down their noses at television actors. Not such a big deal, now. Mr. Cage stated he was contemplating the change, due to a lot less globe trotting and the ability to spend more time with his family.

    Oh, yes. There were bathing machines, in “Sanditon.” Sometimes, very naughty things happened in those machines. 🙂 They provided a plot point, or two.

    Re: Project Tiramisu. Is there a webcam? 🙂

    After my five years in the wilderness … well, there’s a lot of background noise, here. Still bothers me, but some of it I’ve managed to filter out.

    The kitchen scales may remain in their box, until needed. Or not. Just depends. I suppose I should get them out and give them a good clean up, just so they’re ready to be used, should the need arise.

    I’ve been thinking of my reaction to Julia passing on. I guess I just don’t emotionally invest in people, much, anymore. It’s a bit of self protection, I guess. Some people around the Club look absolutely stricken. There will be a memorial gathering … or two. A couple of our religious crazies, want to do something of a religious bent. And Julia wasn’t particularly religious. And would have hated the thought of it.

    Our possibility of flooding should start receding, tonight. There are a few roads closed, around the county. The major problem seems to be China Creek, which flows through the north end of Centralia. But even it is below flood stage. The usual sand bag depots have been set up, here and there.

    We should get our commodities boxes, this afternoon. Maybe. The depot that distributes the boxes, is close to China Creek. Last commodity box before Christmas. I wonder if there will be anything that indicates that? Lew

  25. Hi Chris,

    Things are getting darker here. In fact I see the darkness coming at the end of the tunnel. We are undergoing an apocryphal reorganization with the result that various bodies are to be flung to the far ends of the universe via a Total Perspective Vortex. We await our fate stoically interspersed with periods of hysteria.

    Thank you for providing the context. If the powers that be were to be offered a correction of a drop in housing prices by approximately 40% and unemployment by almost 10%, would they be wise to take that hit? In the mess we appear to be in, that almost seems like a good deal, but I am here feeling around in the dark.

    Someone told me that it was the one-armed bandits that destroyed the live music pub scene in the 80s over there. Does that match your experience, at least when you had mad cash to fling at such things? The music I mean, not the bandits.

    The broken pizza oven is a national tragedy! Early summer evenings with beer and pizza on the terrace would be an optimal state of affairs. ‘Salubrious’ is probably one of the better words in the English language. ‘Sanguine’ and ‘insouciant’ are also awesome. All fit beautifully into the theme of the post and all is well.

    It has been an unusually cold and white winter thus far but nothing that can’t be conquered with some mulled wine at a Finnish Christmas Market (don’t ask).


  26. Chris,

    Yow! It has been a busy week. Nothing nasty, just…busy. To answer some questions you had late last week…

    I’ve heard bits and pieces about the regional ecosystems, some from the Rez but mostly from historical documents. Trees and heights and density of the forests? Dunno, nothing I’ve read or heard discusses that. Roots like bitter roots and others? Well, as farmland and homes have spread, the habitat for these traditional foods has decreased. Ditto with berries, the big two being Service berries and huckleberries. Native chokecherries have also been lost due to commercial reasons (farming and residential), as well as wanton destruction of some of the groves on the Rez.

    A lot of the issue with huckleberries has been compounded by the berries being so tasty…zillions of people venture into the forests to harvest the berries. Many of these non-Native people have these tools that literally strip the berries and foliage and small twigs from the plants as they walk through a patch of berries. This allows more berries per hour to be harvested. Many of these people sell them commercially in various forms, mostly jams, ice cream and syrups. However, the act of stripping foliage and twigs from the plants often harms the plants, some of them dying as a result. The large wildfires of the past decade have also killed off a lot of huckleberry areas.

    On your design question about physics and limits to a “perfect” system design…I CAN design a system that is perfect in theory. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics will intervene; entropy in some way, shape or form will occur. Hence, perpetual motion devices are impossible. Similarly, your (hypothetical) perfectly designed drainage and water storage system will eventually have visible problems. Something will plug up a pipe or a gutter. Or maybe there’s just enough dust and debris that gathers in a gutter or pipe that a small hole develops eventually due to friction. Entropy. It limits everything.

    The possible maximum of 5cm of snow Friday night quickly became 10cm. Then there was a thaw, some rain, followed by a hard freeze at -7C. Then an additional 2.54 cm of snow overnight Saturday. VERY slick and messy. By Sunday afternoon, there was a light drizzle with temperatures stuck at about +1C. The snow had totally disappeared by early Tuesday afternoon, as temperatures and rates of rainfall increased. Wednesday, as Tuesday, is at +10C. No flooding here as opposed to west of the Cascade Mountains.

    Between rain systems today, Avalanche and I went for a walk. I planned to rake some leaves after we got home. Nope. It started dumping buckets of rain after our return. It was raining too hard to work outdoors. Between the rain and the low clouds, our neighborhood looked similar to this week’s photo of the “shady orchard was a little bit more shady than usual”. To misquote a line from the song “Desperado”: “It’s hard to tell the rainfall from the fog.”

    Your cabinet project is looking wonderful. As more of the blue is introduced, it’s looking better. Tisn’t my favorite shade of blue (I prefer lighter shades of blue), but I can see why you chose it. It works superbly for your kitchen. I’m favorably surprised.

    Unfortunately, the current monetary system is NOT designed for financially prudent people. Rather, inflation (with economic growth, whatever that is in current times) is set up to favor the debtor, rather than the creditor. As the money supply increases and the value of each monetary unit decreases, it means that the value of the debt has decreased in “real terms”, whatever that actually means. This favors the debtor and the creditor takes a hit. Nasty stuff.

    Dame Avalanche toyed with a squirrel today. She ignored the squirrel until it got too close to her. Then she chased it up the chokecherry tree and relatively calmly watched the squirrel. She displayed significantly more patience than did the squirrel, and calmly chased it back into the tree when it endeavored to escape. Finally, she allowed it onto the ground and through the nearest chain link fence, making a good show of chasing it and giving it a good scare. She never looked serious about catching this one today but did enjoy scaring it.


  27. Hi Inge,

    Respect. The holiday rentals would have been not a bad option, but I’ve heard reliable reports that a person has to do a lot of the work themselves, lest the income slips away. And there can be a lot of incidental damage and unusual costs from what I’ve heard – at least that is the case nowadays.

    And I agree with you. Hard times teaches the lesson that it is possible to get through and have a reasonable life with a mere fraction of the things which people consider to be necessary today. It sounds judgemental, and it probably is, but the things people consider as necessities these days, rather baffles me.

    We sold a property at a loss around that year as well. It happens, and was the recession, but try telling people that making a loss a possibility, and they’ll look at you funny. 🙂 Sandra’s mother died that year as well, so it was a bad year that one. Unlike you, we didn’t downsize but moved to another house in another area but slightly closer to the CBD. We made the decision to work hard and get rid of any and all debt. So we spent all of our energies with that one goal in mind. It’s not a quick process, and frankly, we could have done better financially by indulging in the debt early on.

    Life does await one with a chuckle, doesn’t it? And you never know when events will intrude.



  28. Hi Pam,

    The biscuits were neither cookies, or yeast biscuits, nor did they have baking soda added. The recipe suggested that before the biscuits were placed in the oven, some castor sugar was sprinkled on top of the biscuit dough. And that stuff somehow caused them to rise.

    We’ve all been there. 🙂 Pam, I’m absolutely sure that some people consider me to be a bit of a pain in the backside about setting boundaries, then enforcing them. It is hard isn’t it? And the only thing I’ve learned about the subject is that some people push at boundaries, all the time. They’re looking for an edge I think, but divining motivations is not always easy to do.

    Yeah, that’s my take on things too. I’m sure our leaders think that new must be better? But then if they fail to learn their history, how do they know that they’re not rehashing the past? I’d prefer a slower paced approach to changes, but that’s me. I’m pretty sure that it’s suggested that Einstein had something to say about doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result.

    Pam, by the tenth day of rain, I was kind of wondering if this was the new normal? 🙂 Oh goodie, it’s going to rain tomorrow with damaging winds apparently. 93’F too. A fascinating day of weather.

    At least you’ve got a generator nowadays (and hopefully fuel). Thanks for the story of the rain dance shower technique. Very resourceful if I may say so. But yes, sometimes a person needs that bit extra assistance. Yup. When I was a kid, my mother used to cut my hair, but she also liked a drink. Not a good combination, and she nicked my ear with the scissors, so I put my foot down and took myself to the barbers afterwards.

    Alpine strawberries don’t produce runners, the seed on the berries is viable and will produce brand new plants. Runners are a nightmare, and it is possible that I’ve fed too many minerals in the soil which the more usual larger strawberries grow. Dunno.

    Daises are very hardy plants, and the ones here will happily survive light frosts. Thanks! 🙂



  29. Hi Crow,

    The Total Perspective Vortex can be defeated much the same way that the Kobayashi Maru test was defeated. 😉 Reality may not be so easily managed!

    No worries at all. I guess the main point was that sooner or later, it’s going to happen, but it needn’t mean the end of the world. Even in hard times there are pints and pizzas to be enjoyed under a huge old cherry tree. And the cherry tree won’t even notice the economic ructions. Ah, I see. Well, the obvious conclusion to be had from it all, is that the longer the can is kicked down the road, the bigger the eventual splat. At any point measures can be taken to soften the blow, and that does happen, often in strange and unusual ways, it’s just that each option also comes with costs.

    No, not at all. There’s demand for live music. How it works is that pubs and music venues have people living around them. As time goes on, some of those people seem to forget that the music venue was there first. So slowly bit by bit, noise restrictions make it harder to actually have a band playing music in a venue. Even the Sydney Opera House appears to have attracted that problem with its neighbours.

    Thanks for the laughs! 🙂

    Nice. Mulled wine always warms the winter spirits. And hope the market was good, but I sense a story there…



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Interweb security is a pain in the, err, ear. 🙂 And you’re right, the error messages you can get with this stuff doesn’t match the actual problem, or is rendered some language unknown to modern man. Possibly the clock error may have been Sumerian in origin given the time difference, or where was Conan meant to have originated from again? Ah, that’s it, your clock error was actually a suggestion that the interweb software considered that your security certificate was issued by the Hyperborean web domain agency, and was a bit out of date by a couple of millennia. What do they know anyway?

    And that is the thing, it may not even be your computer, it’s hard to make any sense of such interweb error mysteries. I do note that you’ve continued your valiant machine limping along. Best to not talk too loudly about replacements, less the computer take umbrage.

    It amazes me that some folks out there are bored enough to try and hack this website. I watch them, and they try something, so I cut that path off. Then something else gets tried. They’re rather tiresome. Honestly, it makes things harder for me, but what do you? I don’t stick my head in the sand and pretend that things are otherwise.

    I’m cynical enough to wonder whether the people selling the interweb protection, aren’t also somehow related to the people making the need for such protection a requirement. It would be genius marketing.

    Project tiramisu continues. We had a slight hiccup this evening. So it’s a warm day here, and the cream didn’t thicken when whipped. You’d think that the chair and whip would frighten the cream (mascarpone cheese) into solidity, but no, it being warm and all. It got thicker, but as you note, no cigar. So the Editor and I had an err, discussion, about the matter and decided to run an experiment to see who’s idea was better to get around this issue. So far the Editor is winning, but we’ll see how things are tomorrow morning. I’m not far behind, and cheated by adding in some milk powder to the mix. I suspect that the commercial mascarpone uses emulsifiers.

    Next time we try making this, I’ll use high quality cream, which probably is higher in protein content. The stuff we used was good, but there are better options.

    Do you still get the discount alerts from that grocery store? Food is getting more expensive of late, no mucking around. A 2.2 pound brick of vacuum packed ground coffee at $38 was quite the surprise. I said to the Editor that in the new greenhouse we may have to grow some more tea camellias.

    Yeah, that makes sense about less globe trotting and spending more time near to home with the family. Although, here I’m biased and have very little desire to travel anywhere.

    No, surely those Victorian era folks were virtuous to an extreme and nothing naughty ever happened! Surely not. I’m scandalised. But yeah, a bathing machine may offer some possibilities. We call them ‘bathing boxes’, down under. There was one lot of them in an out of the way area in the big smoke, where I reckon people used to live in them. Here you go: Campbell’s Cove Boathouses. Oh, they close the nudie beach down. I presume the naturists went elsewhere after that closure.

    I’d imagine your current digs would be fairly quiet at night? I still reckon that kid with the crack whip you used to have to put up with would have driven me bonkers. Were you there five years? Time flies.

    Fair enough, when you get around to using the manual kitchen scales, I believe you’ll be impressed. You just have to calibrate them by setting them at zero before use (the bowl weight can be adjusted out of the reading).

    Makes sense about the self protection, and I get that. Mate, I’m really slow to warm to people, for much the same reason. Everyone deals with grief differently, and each loss affects us all differently too. You just don’t know, do you? I’m not opposed to public displays of grief and it’s quite healthy, to a point, but I’m a private sort of guy on that front and work through things in my own way. I dunno, nobody ever provided or gave me an instruction manual on how to do all this stuff, let alone provided any guidance and/or support. So, move at your own pace, and follow your own path sounds like a good way to go to me.

    Ouch. That’s the thing with being dead, sometimes your wishes don’t count. Maybe those folks are doing the ritual for themselves? Regard is a funny thing, and sometimes I’ve seen it being blithely ignored. Best not to be involved.

    Low 60’Fs is pretty warm, but then the oceans are heating up. The rainfall totals looked impressive, and not far off here. It was only marginally warmer here today at 75’F, and bizarrely didn’t rain, although the humidity was high. Tomorrow will be hot. And interestingly, the hot day earlier in the week has produced a green shoot from the turmeric tuber. It’s exciting. This is the tubers second summer in the greenhouse. The plants are growing like a jungle.

    Oh, that’s not good about the location of the depot. Flood land in some ways is like fire prone land, it’s cheap. Hope the boxes turn up, although you did note that the flood risk has passed.



  31. Hi DJ,

    It’s nice to mix life up a bit with busy times, although you wouldn’t want to be busy all the time. Possibly a bad thing! And Avalanche may crack the sads about lack of walks and attention. Holes may appear in the garden at random during such times, and a certain dog may have innocent face number four (a fine choice) and tell tale signs of dirt crusted paws.

    The same is true of these parts with early descriptions. Tantalising images into the past can be seen in early artwork, but there was a bit of creative license and bias in such things too. Well, yeah, the sheep at the time ate a lot of the tubers to ground level and below. I’m interested in trialling the local yams, because they’re well adapted to the climate but try getting some. A lot of land has been impoverished because of poor choices as to land use. I suspect that sooner or later, such options will become less possible, and the plants may return. I’m not even sure I want to know about the wanton destruction story.

    Oh no! Dude, it’s the same problem as the leaf change tourism. There’s a resource, and it become so utterly exploited that nobody seems to stop and say, maybe this is a bad idea. Tell me it’s not true? Far out. In the past when we’ve gone picking wild blackberries, we do exactly that – and no more. I can imagine the sort of tool which would do such a thing to a plant. No doubts the people sleep soundly at night telling themselves, there’s plenty more plants out there. Except if too many folks do such a thing, it ends up being like those cod fisheries we spoke of a while ago.

    Yeah, thanks for the solid response. The second law of thermodynamics possibly suggests that you can play the game, maybe win for a while, but I guess it takes ever more energy to continue playing along. Am I on the right track there?

    At least the snow didn’t decide to hang around for the rest of the season and add some extra snow friends. I’ll bet Avalanche misses the snow? You don’t really want flooding, although it can supply extra fertility to flood prone land.

    The rain sure would have been cold, and I wouldn’t have been working out in it either. Fog! Thanks, that was funny! It’s meant to get to 33’C tomorrow then rain, quite a bit apparently. There’s a tropical cyclone threatening the coast way up in the north east of the continent. A long way from here, but there are effects. It’s looking very green for this time of year.

    Thanks for saying that about the blue. It’s pretty bold, but works. Only two large cupboard doors to do, then that job is done and onto the next. We broke up some boulders today.

    Yes, that’s my thoughts as well. If you’re prudent, that’s what being penalised means. It also looks a lot like out of control growth to me as well. The whole problem looks to me like the proverbial snake eating its tail.

    Go Dame Avalanche! She displayed considerable discernment. Is this maturity? I reckon so.



  32. @ Lew:

    I am so sorry to hear about Julia. I remember her well from your years at your wilderness home, and since.


  33. Hello Chris
    I certainly wouldn’t let out chalets today, expectations have become extreme and so have the laws relating to it. I had let out chalets in the 1960s and those didn’t even have electricity! Yes, the properties were often damaged by the holidaymakers and that tendency increased. The worst was a knife slashed into everything e.g. mattress, curtains, walls.


  34. Yo, Chris – I still feel “done by,” as far as a lot of this computer stuff, goes. Sooner or later, the people that come up with this stuff, will be identified. And punished. Severely! 🙂 I always suspected the same, with the issue of septic tanks. The regulations got so byzantine, that instillation was pushed past $20k. I always suspected that whoever wrote the rules, had family in the septic installation business.

    Hmm. Maybe a little time in the freezer? When it comes to our instant pudding mixes, they won’t thicken up if you use plant based milks (such as, almond.) States clearly on the package. But, giving them some time in the freezer, and they thicken right up. Just a thought. Probably doesn’t relate.

    Seems as though the grocery store has entirely abandoned the computer based deals and discounts, and you can’t access them unless you’ve got an app and an i-phone. Not going there. The amount of money “saved” on their sales, does not offset the costs of such devices. They do put things on sale, but if you read the small print, you could get additional savings, if you went with the app.

    I think we may be thinking about two different things. Search: “Victorian bathing machines.” Images. They were usually eased into the water using ropes and horses. Or, groups of stout lads. One wonders what tragedies occurred, should the rope break. 🙂 But the boat sheds are quit colorful. Oh, the naturalists will move on to some other place. Word gets around. On a related note, seems like not a day goes by, and there isn’t a mention in the local police report, that some homeless person has stripped down and caused a scene. I figure it’s the drugs they’re ingesting. Gosh, I always miss the good stuff. 🙂

    Not so quiet around here, at night. I wasn’t asleep, but the other night at 2:30 am, a local Romeo was in the parking lot, yelling, “Theresa! Babe!” Theresa being the junkie daughter of my downstairs neighbor. Romeo being her junkie boyfriend. Never a dull moment. And then there’s always the late night comings and going of the EMTs and fire department. I think our record is three times, in one night.

    That lot always claims to be doing things in your own best interest. Never mind, your wishes.

    We’ve had a break in the weather, and most of the flood watches and warnings are off. For the present.

    One of the big spice companies has declared that Tamarind will be the next hot spice. Another pumpkin spice. We’ll see. I picked up the “Best Food Writing 2023,” yesterday. I read the introduction, but probably won’t get to it, until next week. Quit a pile of books …

    There was an article in the Atlantic Magazine about food. “Let Them Cook: For Gen Z, Developing Culinary Skills is More than an Act of Adulthood.” (Alexandra Moe). I had to look it up. Gen Z is the people born between 1996 and 2010. It was encouraging. I had to think about it a bit, but I think the difference between these young folks and foodies is, foodies buy stuff and show it off, via social media. These kids make stuff.

    That was quit an article about the wags who … altered the PR for the bicycle race. Might have been more a comment on the “local environment initiative,” than the race, itself. Although, given how disruptive the Seattle to Portland race is …

    And, once more into the Wonderful World of Weird. We got our commodity boxes, yesterday. Now, those have never arrived before 2pm, and, are usually later. Usually messes up my nap. But the night before, I had a dream. No context, just, “The food boxes will come in the morning.” And, by gosh, at 10:30, there they were. Not a bad lot, and, just about everything is headed down to the Club pantry. So, what did we get?

    4 frozen pork loin chops, a package of whole wheat soft Tortillas (I’m keeping those), carrots (4.), potatoes (12), onions (7). A two pound brick of cheese product, 2 boxes of wheat bran flake cereal, 2 quarts of shelf stable milk, 2 one lbs. boxes of elbow macaroni, a 2 quart jug of some kind of apple drink, 2 plastic pouches of spaghetti sauce, a jar of peanut butter.

    As far as the tins go, chunk chicken (3), apple sauce (2), black beans (2). One tin each of pears, collard greens, whole kernel corn, mixed veg. I managed to snag Elinor’s boxes, so, double everything to go to the Club. Pretty much the same.

    And my nap? I was deep in slumberland, when H had one of her nightmares, and started howling in her sleep. It’s the second time that has happened.

    More computer weirdness. A couple of times in the past week, when I hit the “post comment” button, I get a message, “Duplicate post detected.” And, it doesn’t want to send my post. So, I kept copies, just in case, but, my posts went through, so gosh knows what that’s all about. Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – It gets better and better 🙂 When I clicked on the “Post Comment” button, I got the message, “You are posting comments too quickly. Slow down.” Lew

  36. Chris,

    We had to tend to more business today. Got a lot done and brought home sandwiches from our favorite locally owned deli. Yummy.

    Unfortunately, Dame Avalanche was not happy about the day’s events, so got her sulk on and was pouty for some time after we got home. This got sorted out by my sitting outdoors with her and a cup of tea, doing nothing. Took some time, but she finally got over it and is back to normal, or what passes for it. One hole was dug near the cherry tree during her pout, complete with innocent face number 4 and a grimy face.

    Have you noticed something about innocent face number 4? It ONLY appears when a dog has done something that the dog knows is, ummm, well, wrong. Yet many dogs will have a guilty look on their faces when nothing has happened and they are innocent of any wrongdoing.

    Precisely. The damaging method for picking huckleberries threatens the berries similarly to what happened to the cod fisheries.

    I’m glad the explanation made sense. Yes, you are on the right track. More energy will be required sooner or later. I see advertisements for “gutter protectors” on the tv regularly, supposed to keep leaves and stuff out of the gutters while requiring no maintenance. Well, the construction and placement of this product is an energy input. Sooner or later, it will need maintaining. Entropy. Something will damage it somehow or plug it up. (I’m also skeptical about the claims and am sure that smaller leaves and dirt can collect in the gutters anyhow.) The gutter protectors would also added an additional layer of complexity to the system. Too many complex layers added, something is bound to go wrong in a very catastrophic manner. Best, in my mind, to keep it simple. The energy input required by me is to spend a few hours each fall climbing the ladder and clearing the leaves and guck out of the gutters.

    We had about 3.75cm of rain in 3 days. More wet or white stuff or both is forecast for this weekend. Warm days, cooler nights, so any snow shouldn’t last long. Fine with me, but as you surmised, Avalanche misses the snow.

    There are days where breaking up boulders sounds like a good idea.

    Thanks for that. The economy really does look like a snake eating its own tail. For about 20 years I managed a large stock portfolio for a relative. I did very well with it and found it to be a fun challenge. I quit about 2015. Why? The economy made little sense and the fact that many companies were borrowing large amounts of money at low interest rates in order to buy shares of their own stock or even to increase dividend payments seemed improvident to me. And all of the funny money in the system led me to believe that inflation was showing up first in inflated asset prices, and that eventually the inflation would hit in large increases in prices of basics, like food, clothes, etc., not to mention housing. Then anything could happen to asset prices. I could not in good conscience continue to work on something which I no longer understood. I resigned and relative found another manager. The snake eating its tail is a perfect analogy to what I’m perceiving.


  37. Hi Inge,

    For your interest, the laws down here are fairly loose in relation to such things. Interestingly, given the shortage of available housing stock there is a lot of political pressure on short term accommodation which expresses itself as taxes, and I suspect this will only increase. My gut feeling is that the option is no longer the great money spinner that it may have once been, maybe, and for all the reasons you cited. I’ve heard such stories too, although not as extreme as putting a knife into all manner of things. What I hear is that items are stolen, or are simply just broken.

    I’d probably ask for a bond to avoid such mischief. Can you imagine the dramas for me, if some thoughtless person just used up a months worth of water for absolutely no good reason?

    Did you ever get any sense as to why the person used a knife in such a manner?

    It’s quite warm and humid here today, and tomorrow looks set to bring some substantial rain. Your daughter over to the west of here would have enjoyed an unusual amount of rain today.



  38. Hi DJ,

    It happens, and one of the things I’ve noticed is that if life’s business is not attended too, you get shunted into the option of the lowest common denominator. One of the awful things about the system, is that there are processes for such intransigence, otherwise known as failure to taking care of business! Like you, I tend to deal with these things as and when they arise, and avoid the unpleasantness, but know that sooner or later, I’ll miss something important and have to face the consequences. I’m of the opinion that this situation is escalating. Just for example, one company I deal with, I have to log into their system, just to get their bill to me. That looks like a power imbalance to me.

    And most excellent sandwiches are a total reward for dodging systemic stupidity. 🙂 Had a Banh Mi for a late lunch myself today. Long story, Sandra woke me up at 5:30am, and due to the forecast of 33’C I decided to roll with events. Two coffees later, a sort of activated brain, we headed out and smooshed up some boulders.We ended up completing the lower rock wall parallel to the chicken enclosure. Next stop, filling the area parallel to the chicken enclosure with soil so that we can create a new path there. Like life’s admin, the work here never stops, maybe.

    Dame Avalanche is clearly of a higher order intelligence. Yup, that’s my opinion of dogs who can sulk their socks off. That puts her in the league of Sir Scruffy, who incidentally was the most intelligent dog I’ve ever encountered. He was the first dog to figure out that Ollie was just a big softie, in a mean looking package. Wise to soothe the hurt canine feelings with some companionship and a nice cup of tea. Most of the worlds problems can be solved with the assistance of a good cup of tea.

    Good to hear that Dame Avalanche lived up to the expectations of innocent face number four. Things could have been worse you know? Have you experienced innocent face number six? Blood and squirrels may be involved, but I shall say no more on the matter.

    What you say is true. A dog struggles with abstract concepts such as deceit, but unfortunately you and I, probably have higher percentages of Neanderthal (and Sandra here would agree) than the rest of the population which means that we struggle with such concepts as well. It’s something of a shame really because the skills might come in handy, like say if you’re asked whether you enjoyed a particularly dull party? Our response would clearly be to say: ‘not really’, and then it would get all awkward and stuff from that point onwards. Ugg! Ooo, where did that come from? 😉

    It’s been said before by smarter brains than I, that too much of a good thing, is a bad thing. Moderation is perhaps the better path?

    Hehe! Dude, they sell those gutter protectors down here as well, and they’re good, but dust can get through the fine mesh, and then when really heavy rains fall, the dust ends up blocking up the inlet filet on the water tanks all the same. And incidentally, nothing other than massive doses of chemicals can kill of algae, which can also detach from pipes at inopportune stormy moments. Every which way you look, there is a failure point. Wasn’t that the title of a Clint Eastwood film? Saw it at the double feature Saturday afternoon matinee a long time ago.

    The thing is, I’d prefer to have a failure point at an accessible location, so that I can do something about it. If the failure point was on the roof, water could wash under the house. What a nightmare.

    Holy carp! It’s wet here, and it’s wet there. And 37.5mm is rather damp. I think overall, the conclusion can be drawn that: It’s wet. 🙂 Enjoy the rain. Apparently 15mm to 25mm is forecast for tomorrow. This may be a nuisance, but I’m taking a wait and see approach.

    Breaking up boulders is actually quite good for a persons mental health. You get into the zone with that work, and um, well, my paid job requires too much mental acuity, so a balance is nice. It’s been a long time since I worked such a job five days per week, but then I wouldn’t be able to get anything done around here if that was the case. I doff my hat to you good Sir, having kept at it for so many years.

    Man, I so hear you. It stopped making sense for me too a while ago and so I decided to go off and do something else more productive with my time. You know, what I chose is not an exciting path, but it allows me to sleep soundly at night. I completely understand your perspective.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    So I had a look into the weird error message that you received in relation to posting comments too fast. It’s actually part of the core WordPress software, and it is in place to prevent bots from commenting hundreds and hundreds of times in quick succession. They can still do that, but it will perhaps take more time in between each comment post, than the bots have patience for. Isn’t it good that bots lack patience? They call it ‘flood prevention’, which is quite well named given your recent weather (and here tomorrow). I can disable this err, core feature if necessary, but rest assured, two of your comments still arrived. Please do let me know if you continue to see this chunk of software weirdness? In a strange twist of fate too, it may have something to do with the clock on your computer, maybe. It’s a complicated matter. I’d be interested to hear that if the next time you received the error message, you waited, say more than 15 seconds (the trip time for this error), then re-posted, whether the error message never occurred?

    Or, on the other hand, you have the fastest draw in the PNW! 🙂 Legends will be told of your keyboard skills. Sounds better than my reality which was that I became embroiled in a gobermunt experiment in the late 1980’s. True story.

    Exactly, the septic tank issue is possibly a barrier to entry so as to keep out the riff-raff. You could see that story happening in the Cheap Land Colorado book. A good read. We use a worm farm for sewage, and it’s a good system which just does it’s thing without much intervention on our parts. And you’re probably right, that’s why I’ve wondered about such matters as well.

    Hehe! That was the step I missed. I rarely make whipped cream, and so had not known about that particular cooling down first step – and it was warm yesterday. Chucked the bowl and contents in the freezer to cool them down, just like you suggested after discovering the missed step, and err, well I had been using the mixer for a while. Probably broke a lot of the protein bonds, but it seems to have set nicely overnight. Hope the dessert tastes OK? I’ll let you know how it goes tomorrow. I’ve got some tough critics to test the stuff upon. My plan is to take the tiramisu to an even tougher audience, but we’ll see – baby steps first when learning a new recipe.

    To be honest, I’m not sure how such data collection processes like those apps for the grocery discounts are used. I’d have to suggest that the app would not be cheap to write, so you’d have to assume that the data is being used somehow. And I agree, you shoulder the burden of the costs for the electronic device – an impressive feat that.

    The local grocery finally got us on the loyalty card which tracks our purchases, only because during you-know-what, the store was opened only to the locals. Panic buying sent folks from the big smoke out to the country to strip the shelves, and a tough decision was made. There was even a security guard there. I hope to not see such special moments again, but you never know.

    We are talking about an entirely different thing and thanks for the correction. I must check these contraptions out. Frankly speaking, they sound rather dangerous for the reason you gave. You’d hope that the door to the machine could be opened from the inside… You’ve said it before, and I’m sure we’ll say it again: People can be strange. 🙂 And bathing machines take modesty to an intolerable level. I’d imagine that such monstrosities would give naturalists an attack of the vapours?

    Drugs are bad, OK? To quote South Park. 😉 That was a very funny episode.

    That sort of behaviour is a nuisance, and would annoy the daylights out of me. I’m trying hard to think of a witty reply you could yell out the window, but given the potentially drug addled state of the randy young buck in question, things could escalate quickly. Things were perhaps different back in my day. Firstly, alcohol would have been the fuel of choice, and um, well secondly it seemed unwise to wake up the parents. That’s what I’d describe as an evening-killing-power-move. Things are perhaps different nowadays, when the words ‘Oi, are ya their?’ (barely coherent, but effective) seems to shore up a date.

    Speaking of being woken up early. The Editor woke me at 5:30am this morning. Did you know that right now, it’s sort of light at that time of the day? This came as something of a shock. But with hot weather forecast, and a couple of coffees to sure up the wavering resolve, we got up. Broke up the rest of the rocks, then hauled them all back up the hill and finished off the lower part of the rock wall running downhill of the chicken enclosure. 100% enthusiasm. 75% sleep. The numbers don’t stack up to me. By 5pm, I crashed out for a bit.

    It’s awful to have clear uncomplicated wishes, disregarded. It happens, sorry to say.

    The last time I thought to want to use tamarind was, never. The market may have something to say about such matters. Hey, hope the book on best food writing produces such gems as last years few treats?

    The title of the book is promising. And yes, I agree, there is a difference between making something, and bragging.

    The cheeky scamps with the fun sense of fertility symbolism may be heading to a town near you. Certainly it will get the tongues wagging in the local congregations.

    When is a dream a prediction? When the facts suggest that it was, that’s when. Oh goodie, it’s raining again.

    I’d keep the soft tortillas as well. Your Club pantry has scored some solid produce, and top work nabbing Elinor’s box which if left around, may not be repeated.

    Dogs dream a lot, and they’ll twitch, whimper, bark, and even begin to attempt to run in their sleep. If they’re having nightmares, I wake them up gently, and they always seem relieved. H may be picking up on your vibe due to the unfortunate passing on of Julia? It’s possible, dogs are highly sensitive creatures who know such things. Dunno.

    When you get weird messages from the software here, it tends to put your comment(s) into the spam folder, so usually they’re not lost. Hopefully so, anyway.



  40. Hello Chris
    The chalet wrecker was a young man who was very angry with his father. He didn’t know how else to release the anger.


  41. Yo, Chris – I’ll keep you posted, on any more weirdness, on this end. Actually, “flood prevention” makes a lot more sense than “denial of service attack.” From the realm of more internet odd things, there’s a website I order from, time to time. Quit a few months ago, all the graphics disappeared. The site still works, just fine. Well, the other day, I went to the site, and all the graphics are back. Fully functional. The only difference I can see is that they put up a “one week sale” banner, on their home page. Something similar happened with the local library web site. Although I couldn’t access it at all. But once they rebuilt their home page (announcing the new catalog and all kinds of apps), it now works just fine. Fully functional.

    One thing I forgot to mention about that bar/restaurant I worked in, with the sandwiches, chili, and such, is that we had one, and only one desert on the menu. Black Forest Chocolate Cake. A recipe one of the owners had picked up some where along the way. Only he was trusted to make it. But every morning, we’d make whipped cream to go on the top. About all I remember about it is that it had powdered sugar, and vanilla in it. Really jazzed up the whipped cream. And I vaguely remember that the powdered sugar helped the refrigerated whipped cream, “hold” through the day.

    The bathing machines had doors at both ends. Customers would enter through the shore side door, be let out into the water, change into a bathing outfit that covered everything, open the back door and descend steps into knee to waist high water. The bulk of the bathing machine also protected bathers from prying eyes, from the shore. Mostly.

    Way too early for my taste, but needs must. A few days ago, there was an article in the Atlantic Magazine on stone walls. By Hannah Kirschner. Here’s a bit talking about the article …

    “Reviving dry stone walling would be better for the environment—as well as preserve aesthetically and culturally valuable scenery. But building more stone walls would mean relying on traditional craftsmanship over modern engineering. I thought of stone walling as an expensive antique building method until I spoke with Reo Kaneko, a civil engineer who over the past 14 years has become an advocate for this time-tested craft …

    A concrete retaining wall can last about 50 to 100 years, after which the degraded material must be hauled away for recycling or disposal … By some estimates, producing concrete releases nearly a pound of CO2 per pound of usable material; under the right conditions, stone for a wall can be gathered on-site or quarried nearby. The rocks can be used without cutting them into uniform shapes, limiting waste. And the life span of a dry stone wall is potentially hundreds of years, in part because a well-built wall can shift to some extent without buckling when it freezes and thaws, or even in an earthquake.”

    This year’s “Best Food Writing,” is edited by Mark Bittman. I have a couple of his books on food and cooking. I read his introduction. He pointed out that there’s all kinds of way to approach food, and the production of food. And that writing about food goes back a long ways. Sumer was mentioned. 🙂 Since we’re well past You Know What, probably fewer articles about that. And, since he’s an Old White Guy, maybe not quit so many screeds of a political bent, of one sort or another.

    When H howled in her sleep, I thought maybe Elinor had shuffled off her coil. But not so I’ve heard. I heard that she was still in hospital, but was (maybe) going to be moved to a rehabilitation center, this week. And maybe home by Christmas. We’ll see.

    Truck problems. I stopped down at the Club, last night, and then hit the local grocery. When I left there, there was a funny smell, and something very slick on the ground, and around the pedals. I couldn’t see much, but it might be brake fluid leaking from the parking / emergency brake. I’m going to have something to eat, get my blood sugar up, and go out and see if I can see, what’s what. Lew

  42. Chris,

    Thursday and Friday were both very nice days. The sun was shining, the streets were bare and dry, it was above freezing (+10C on Thursday, +6C on Friday). So we took advantage both days and got a lot of business done. Our motto is “get things done when you can before another disaster hits.” I guess that has come out of the endless family dramas of the past 17 years. 😉 We also figured that it was prudent to run errands when the weather was decent rather than during the next snow event.

    Methinks you have just come up with the very definition of power imbalance. Jings!

    Avalanche got an extra-long walk today. Afterwards, I decided to rake the leaves in the front yard, as the hawthorn trees have shed all the leaves. Avalanche got attached to a long cable and got to join in the fun. She mostly found soft places to lie down in the sun. Smart dog. She is completely over her pout from yesterday. As you so astutely observed, there is very little that can’t be fixed by sitting and drinking a good cup of tea.

    Gawrsh, innocent face number 6? Isn’t that the one where Dame Avalanche struts around with a deceased squirrel in her teeth, buries said squirrel, looks at papa with a proud look on her face, rolls on the spot where the dead critter was buried, and then digs it up again to repeat the process? That face?

    Sandra is astute. And you’ve read me well, too. I would answer that hypothetical question the exact same way. No “white lies” to make someone feel good, no sugar coating the response, just the blunt truth. Period. I started at a new school when the school year started when I was 14. It took only a few weeks before my classmates all knew that I was incapable of deceit or lies. One guy had been absent and missed an event that he really wanted to attend. He thought that the event hadn’t happened and that his friends were just funning him. Then he saw me and said, “I’ll ask DJ. He doesn’t know how to lie.” And yes, my response was truthful. And blunt.

    I believe you’re thinking about “Every Which Way but Loose” from 1978 and its 1980 sequel “Every Which Way You Can”. “Every Which Way You Look” sounds like it would’ve been a good title for a 3rd film in the sequence. 😉

    Thanks for the confirmation of my suspicions about those gutter thingies. I’d thought that the dust would enter and cause problems. Having to take that off in order to get to the problem sort of defeats the purpose in my mind. I prefer the failure point that is at least reachable via ladder while NOT requiring me to take things apart.

    Thanks. You eloquently wrote what my thoughts were about breaking rocks. Raking leaves is almost as therapeutic. Good job on the progress on the path project, by the way. Making progress always feels good, doesn’t it?

    Even with all my career limiting statements, somehow I survived that place long enough to retire. Having large doses of cave man in my DNA, there was no way that I could hope to thrive with the office politics. 🙂 I instinctively was doing certain things correctly, but 2 statements by Mr. Greer really clarified things and allowed me to think and plan better. The first was, of course, “Collapse now and avoid the rush”. The second was something along the lines of “Don’t play their game.” I was already planning how to do the first idea but thinking about the second one REALLY helped. It allowed me to verbalize that I was behaving like an adult but that my coworkers and managers were behaving like adolescents. And management catered to and awarded the adolescent behavior. How to survive became much clearer after that.

    Excitement is overblown. Making necessary changes so that one can sleep at night is good and probably means that one has embraced dropping out of societal expectations and accepted “boring” careers. There’s a lot to be said for the boredom and the freedom that is gained from embracing it.


  43. Hi Inge,

    Oh, that’s all rather unfortunate, and I’m assuming hardly your doing. Out of sheer curiosity, is it possible to recount how you arrived at that conclusion to the story?



  44. Hi DJ,

    Sounds like lovely weather, and frankly it wasn’t much warmer here today at 15’C, except no blue skies plus rain and fog all day long. It’s still raining. 25mm so far for the day. Your motto does tend to suit the prevailing conditions! 🙂 I can assure you that with less family, there are still drama’s. It’s the way of people.

    Often we all find ourselves on the wrong side of a power imbalance, and this is rarely a good thing. But oftenenoughs, it is so.

    Go Avalanche! And very good to hear that she has recovered from her bout of pout. Spare a thought for the dogs here today. A bunch of friends came for lunch, and so the fluffies were stuck outside (under cover and out of the weather), yet still a cold summers day + drizzle and fog, meant they got to enjoy their time all that much better when they were eventually let back into the house after everyone left.

    Yeah, I’d say those actions clearly describe innocent face number six. I’ll bet Avalanche had a lovely time whilst working towards that state? It’s hard to comprehend why a dog would want to roll in something dead, but soap is a great cure-all for such canine youthful exuberance. But to dig up the dead squirrel again is very troublesome, more for you than her. 🙂 Yup, that face indeed.

    Mate, I just went with my gut feeling there, and sometimes it tells me stuff. Of course that means listening to the gut and discerning the background noise (I’m hungry, hmm tiramisu) from the more important stuff. The gut knows, you know. And like you mentioned, people used to say that I too was brutally honest. I’ve worked at honing that skill so as to only wield it when there are no other options. Dunno, but I’ve long suspected that few want clarity. What’s your take on that?

    You got me there. And those were the film and sequel shown at the Saturday double feature matinee. Good entertainment. It would have been a good title for the third in the series, but how far could they take the storyline?

    Dust and grit can get through the roof gutter guards from what I’ve seen. Where they might help is with say in a bushfire, larger burning materials might not be able to get into the gutters. But if dust can, I expect that embers might be able to as well. Dunno. But eventually all that dust and grit has to go somewhere in the drainage system. Keep it simple works, even when it sometimes fails.

    Making progress does feel good, but as you note, it involves doing stuff – like raking the leaves. 🙂 Always good to get in the work zone and mentally float away. Dunno about how you navigated it all, but being stuck in one mental space for as long as is required for an expected work week, just doesn’t seem right to me. There is balance to be found in there, somewhere, although truthfully I have no idea and just muddle along. My one advantage in life was as a kid, the adults were too busy with their many continuing dramas, so supervision was minimal and that gave a lot of freedom in some ways to explore what it means to live. Sadly that journey wasn’t all fun and games, but maybe there was a strange sort of balance to it all? It was odd how them acting like children forced me to be more serious than I otherwise would have been, certainly it cut childhood short. And interestingly that seems to have been your experience as well. Dunno. But yeah, the cave man genetics (which I share in a goodly quantity, I can tell you) probably were career limiting as well. Possibly good to have an advantage which prevents you from playing.

    I agree, and my experience with the more exciting paths meant that despite all the wins and successes, all that was wanted of me, was more. They got as good as I could give, it dawned on me (like your choice) that their endless hunger was not my issue to assuage. I’m here to work, but there are always limits and consequences.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    Please do keep me informed should further interweb weirdness occur on this website. Sometimes, I can resolve the problems, maybe. 🙂 But the bot attacks are a pain in the err, ear (to quote your good self). They happen often enough, that I have to pay a company to fend off their attacks on my behalf. Mate, you’d hope that there is no conflict of interest there, and perhaps it is taking cynicism too far to consider that even a likely possibility – most likely the case. But I have to laugh, when you told me of that saying from the sixties – It ain’t paranoia, if it’s true… Hard to shake that wise saying. Far out!

    Those issues you’re seeing from time to time, could be anything, but I’d wonder about the caching of website information recorded on your computer. Sometimes dude, ya gotta take out the trash. Not the computer in this case, but the cached memory of webpages. The stored information can get a bit weird over time. The problem with deleting that cache is that some things begin working again, whilst others need a bit of attention. Ook!

    Hmm. Makes you wonder if Black Forest Chocolate Cake is hard to make? The ingredient list was intriguing, but so good. I tend to agree with you about working out how to get the whipped cream (using thickened cream as a base) to set that little bit firmer, and sugar sounds like a good option. The tiramisu (which was consumed today, with a caveat that it was my first) mostly disappeared, although the mascarpone cheese was a bit less than firm. The Editor keeps suggesting that with the recipe I should increase the amount of lady finger biscuits so that any excess liquid gets absorbed. I dunno, and will have to experiment further.

    In some of your warmer states, they use all sorts of imaginative ideas to get cream to set. It’s not lost on me that cream is a naturally variable product and the recent bout of cold wet summer weather will probably lower the protein content of the cream. I can taste the difference in milk, at this time of year. And lets not forget that there was some recent industrial action. Next time I may go for cream from a smaller boutique dairy supplier.

    Had friends up for lunch today. What a fun day, and the time just flew by. Lovely people. It rained from dawn to dusk, and everyone was very good about the conditions and still enjoyed a walk around the farm prior to lunch. Had a food coma break at 5pm. 🙂 Although I didn’t overdo things, we just got up early again to ensure that the day went smoothly. It’s funny but I was having a conversation about hosting, and basically remarked that we’d learned what was implemented today from the guys of the big shed fame. Don’t you reckon that sometimes you only know what you know? And emulating good example is a fine way to go.

    How time changes. The bathing machines allowed privacy, but am left wondering if population pressures didn’t also put an end to such contraptions? By that, I mean that if there are more people wanting to access the enjoyments of the water than there are bathing machines, something will give. Dunno. What do you reckon about that? I guess what I’m reaching for is that the things were only possible because somehow society could afford to pay for them as an option?

    It was way too early for me as well. And this morning again… This is not a new normal, for a start, it’s not civilised. 🙂 Hope my economic theories above don’t get turned onto this early morning issue. Ook!

    For some reason, that paper granted me access to the full stone wall article. These are my kind of people, and I’d not really thought of the rock work here as being part of some long lost tradition. Hmm. It’s given me something to think about. Interestingly, my friends of the big shed fame have some actual stone walls separating a couple of paddocks. The walls were partially there originally, but they’ve had them repaired. It’s lovely work right down to the capstones. The article was great, thanks for mentioning it. And I’m hardly surprised that such techniques have a long history in Japan. Shame, that many of the knowledge bearers of the skills are now so old, but that bloke is enthusiastically re-teaching the skills. Didn’t you find it interesting that when the walls were damaged, the locals got together and repaired them as a group? It was also very true what the article said about the walls providing shelter for all sorts of critters and plants. The moss builds up on them here too after a couple of years. Looks nice and as if had been there for longer than the rock walls actually have been.

    Food is good – as a subject it’s worth writing about. Oh no! I’m having a brain freeze (possibly due to lunch) and didn’t quite comprehend the Sumer reference? Good to hear that the direction this year is all about the food, and less about the politics. 🙂 Have you come across any particularly juicy essays yet?

    That is a fair concern. Dogs know these things. In fact, humans are probably the only animal who doesn’t listen. We’ve got a 13 year old Silkie chicken and when she sits with ailing and sick chickens, you know things are going to end up badly. I’d read years ago about a cat in a palliative care facility who knew when peoples time had come, and sat vigil with them.

    Oh shoot. Dude, so not good. After fortifying yourself, could you see the source of the liquid?



  46. Hello Chris
    I don’t remember how i learned the answer to the story. Can only assume (in retrospect) that someone told me.


  47. Hi Chris,
    Love the look of the grape enclosure. Your kitchen sure is blue but I like that it’s different. So many kitchens look the same.

    So many comments this week – I’ve only had time to skim them.

    We had a couple of lovely days in the 50’s and some rain but still not enough. Tomorrow is Christmas #1 at Cecily’s home. It’s not large and pretty low key. The reason she has a separate one is the only other time we’ll see our granddaughters is at my family’s big Christmas Eve zoo of a bash.


  48. @Lew

    I am sorry to hear about Julia. I think I’m just a couple years younger than you and yes the losses of friends and relatives are increasing but then that’s the way of life.


  49. Yo, Chris – Where’s the line between cynicism and conspiracy theory? 🙂

    Any time I’m done doing, whatever I’m doing on my computer, I clean out the caches and history. For me, it’s automatic. Last thing I do before I put it to sleep, or shuting it down. Probably one of the reasons it’s still humming along, at this late date. I also pretty regularly delete old e-mails. Sometimes, as I’m surfing along, things start to slow down. Usually, because I haven’t let some d—-d ad fully load. I don’t fully shut down, but have to start at doing a clean out, and start again at near square one. Close down the browser, disconnect from the wi-fi, etc.. I just have to slow down, and let whatever graphics, load.

    When dealing with food, there’s terroir to consider. Which can include climate (time of year), soil, etc.. Some chefs swear that eggs, depending on the time of year are good for some recipes, but not others. But I think the home cook doesn’t need to take quit such a deep dive. Mostly. But when it comes to cheese, I think milk that hasn’t been fiddled with, is more desired. According to what I’ve read. I guess it’s the state of things, that natural milk is now considered boutique. 🙂 Of course, it’s all for our own protection. “Sanitized for Your Protection.”

    Hosting, hostessing. I think it all boils down to hospitality. An old concept. A dash of etiquette. Social codes. Women’s magazines and women’s pages in the newspapers, laid the ground rules. Then the guys got into the act with Playboy and Esquire magazines.

    Oh, I’m glad you were able to find that article on stone walls. I thought it was quit good. Community projects used to be the norm. Look at Stonehenge 🙂 . Raising a barn. You help me build my house and I’ll help you build yours. Communal efforts to get in the harvest. Women gathering in groups to put up a year’s canning. Communal road repair.

    I can’t say I particularly like Robert Frost, as a poet. But he did write “Mending Wall.” Which I think you might find interesting.

    Sumer. “Sumer was an ancient civilization founded in the Mesopotamia region of the Fertile Crescent situated between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Known for their innovations in language, governance, architecture and more, Sumerians are considered the creators of civilization as modern humans understand it.” 4100-1750 BCE. In his introduction to “Best Food Writing 2023,” Bittman mentions a text (probably written on a clay tablet) “…in which a father verbally walks his son through their farm, instructing him on planting, sowing, and reaping procedure.” There were several “fertile crescents.” Egypt, Sumer, China. See: cradles of civilization.

    Oh, I think the bathing machines bit the dust, due to changes in cultural norms. Bathing suits got skimpier. Mixed bathing became more the norm. But, yes, population. Isolated places where one could strip off and take a dip became rarer and rarer.

    Yes, I’ve read articles where cats or dogs in palliative care facilities seem to have a knack for figuring out who was about to check out. Doggie and moggie Angels of Death! 🙂

    I did a little investigating into my truck. Not as bad as I thought. The emergency brake / parking brake liquid is separate from the rest of the braking system. Still, that and other things need to be seen to, but it’s one of those A, B, C, A problems. But, in the meantime, I can still use the truck. Most of the slopes I park on are slight. The parking break was just me being paranoid. So, leaving it in gear will have to suffice. For the present. Not that much is going to get done, today, as it’s bucketing down rain. Early week, the weather is to get nicer. We’ll see. Lew

  50. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the consideration. There is a lot of mystery with life, sometimes strange things happen and you never get to learn the how and why of the story.

    A month or two ago, an older bloke apparently from the more fashionable end of the mountain range, was allegedly involved in a vehicle accident which killed five people who were otherwise just sitting at a pub enjoying themselves one evening in a nearby town. It’s a bit eerie thinking that I probably bump into the bloke all the time, and yet don’t know who it is because investigations continue and the name has not been released. Life can be kind of random at times, the name makes little difference to the deceased.



  51. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 Thanks, and it is well known around here that pretty much any and every critter on the mountain range, enjoys grapes and strawberries – thus the cage. The ten grape vines are about four years old now and they’re all table and dessert grapes of differing varieties. I’m having fun training the vines along the strong stainless steel cables.

    I’ve been quite enjoying the large number of comments this week. Just between you and I, it’s a complete mystery to me what subjects will produce a lot of comments. Dunno. Tomorrow’s should be amusing. Hope you enjoy the words.

    ‘A couple of lovely days in the 50’s and some rain’ describes the weather of the past few days here as well. It’s uncanny, and jokes aside, but I really do hope that your rainfall deficit gets corrected soon.

    Hope you had a lovely time at Christmas #1? And I reckon the low key events are the best, but then I’m something of an introvert – but can work crowds if so required (at a personal cost of energy). Thanks for the laughs: zoo is a great way to describe such massive productions! Hope the kids are doing well too.

    Pea soup fog today and yesterday. The wood heater is keeping us warm tonight. What a summer.



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my! I realise that you are asking a rhetorical question, but yeah – where is that line? Probably not to be found anywhere if you ask me.

    Websites are a bit weird about asking permission for collecting your information, so I get why you delete the caches and history. Down here, they don’t legally have to ask you, and to be honest there is a part of me which believes this to be a more honest approach than what goes on in other parts of the planet. It was the EU that started this nonsense of asking, as if you have an option anyway – just answer ‘no’ and you get nothing from the sites. It’s like a Catch-22 situation where if you don’t agree, you can’t use the website, so the question is, do you really have a choice? I believe the answer to that question is: No.

    I hear you about deleting old emails. Most people keep their emails on the cloud today, and get super excited about the free service their getting. But I wonder, with all that text on the cloud, stored by a, well you know what they are, is that data being mined for information? There are times I get memories of the now deceased comedian Dave Allen doing his confessional comedic routine. Did that lot use the data and information they learned way back in the day?

    Wise to let your machine run at it’s own pace. Not wise to rush computers.

    I agree terroir is a thing. Soils and climate vary so greatly, even within a small geographic area, that it has to produce differences. Industrialisation of the production of ingredients does tend to promote the concept of sameness, but I believe the reality to be otherwise. And it is funny you mentioned the words ‘fiddled with’, but today I discovered that the cream we used contained gelatin. Ah well, once burned twice shy, until the next strange new thing to learn. And I have an odd hunch that perhaps it is possible that vegetable fats may also have been added.

    Well that’s the odd thing isn’t it? We get protection on one hand, and yet there are costs on the other. Who’d have thunk it? I read somewhere a month or two ago that nearly half the population down here has issues with their gut. Why does this seem to not ring alarm bells as to the quality of the food?

    Hosting is an old concept, but a very tidy one to know something about. I missed the excellent advice in those magazines on that subject, and instead had to learn the hard way by observing what works, and what is a complete disaster. The Fawlty Towers series of yore used to make me feel very uncomfortable. Plenty of authors got a decent start in those magazines. I’d hate to think how authors would get their work out there nowadays, but I guess there are ways.

    I thought the article on the stone walls was quite good too, and in some ways it gave me a wider appreciation for the art form. Not a lot of people around these parts consider creating walls from stone, but back in the day it was quite the thing. You can see them in old hill station gardens over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, and that is where inspiration struck for the work going on here. I’m guessing that labour was cheaper in those early days though, based on the scale of the stone walls there. Some of the older houses even use the stone walls as front fences facing onto the main road.

    But I agree, when the community comes together to create something, it is a structure of care, and is possibly longer lasting than much of the stuff getting built these days. It was quite common after WWII, what with the labour shortages, streets of locals used to get together and construct the houses from plan books. The houses I’ve seen produced from that process seem pretty sturdy. The current arrangements are a bit over the top.

    And there is another point there, it’s dangerous to head off on your own and away from community, and sometimes you can get viewed with suspicion. Of course, there were always individuals who did so, but there is additional risk for doing so.

    Thanks. There is a lot of power in that poem. And up the bush, it’s a tough subject and much depends upon who you speak to.

    Oh, that Sumer. 🙂 Makes you wonder who the Sumerian’s learned the trick from? They had a pretty good run. Maybe it is just me, but such talk of soil fertility, and that I believe is at the core of the story, is that the word ‘fertility’ in this historical instance, means having enough excess that if you stuff things up, events will not go poorly for you and everyone around you. Did I mention just how many Aussies are estimated to have gut issues?

    That’s my understanding too, official places to go nudie swimming are becoming less and less over time.

    Hehe! Yeah, maybe they are Doggie and Moggie Angels of Death!

    I hear you about those sorts of tricky problems. Didn’t the old timers used to say ‘for want of a nail, the kingdom was lost?’ Dunno, the Editor and I were discussing this sort of issue this morning. We’re coming around to the idea that if things don’t work, like your park brake, take them back to the point at which they did work – i.e. do the repairs – then wait and see what eventuates. We had that very problem with the toilet a few weeks ago – you’d fix one aspect, then something else would be wrong. It’s hard, but if there were an easier (and economical) way?

    It continued to rain here for most of the day today. Thick low clouds, and dreary grey summer skies. Got the writing done early today. No point working outside. Might watch the latest Grand Designs UK episode tonight. Woo Hoo!



  53. Yo, Chris – Back in the day, occasionally, if you didn’t register for a site from the get-go, you’d get a message something like: “No cookie, no lookie.” But, enough people resisted, some businesses languished, and things loosened up. There were other ways to harvest your data. 🙂 I appreciate the sites that will let you use them, as a “guest.”

    Of course, we’re all now familiar with those pages and pages of legalese, that just boil down to “we’re just a platform and not responsible for anything.” No accountability. Some are finding there is accountability. It just takes a lot of time, money and lawyers. Or, sometimes, just the weight of public opinion.

    Gut issues. Some new studies out that eating too much processed food will take ten years off your life. Will the rank and file pay any attention? Mostly, no. Most of the articles had long definitions of what “highly processed food,” is. I talked to my friends in Idaho, the other night. He’s doing fine, after his surgery. I asked if they had had a talk with him about diet, but that was glossed over. I mentioned pumpkin seeds, a couple of times, but that was ignored. So it goes.
    Not that I’m a saint. 🙂 Last night’s dinner was popcorn with Swiss cheese. Followed by chocolate covered cherries and four slices from one of those chocolate / orange balls. Oh, well. I’ll be back to rice and veg, tonight.

    Authors nowadays? Blogs. On-line web magazines. Seems like you can’t get yourself launched unless you’re signed up for several social media sites and have a number of followers.

    Some of the textured concrete block walls, can be quit nice. We have a few, here at the Institution. And, over time, they mellow quit nicely. Not a new idea. Walls, and even houses. Thank you Frank Lloyd Wright. Do you remember Simon and Garfunkel even wrote a song about him?

    “For want of a nail.” An old, old saying or proverb. But a lot of author’s ran with it. Everyone from Shakespeare to Ben Franklin. You may enjoy this little article …

    I guess the bottom line is, it’s the little things that count. 🙂

    It pretty much rained steady, all day yesterday. We’re back on a flood watch, again. But not for long. A string of clear days and cold nights, are on tap. At least for a little while.

    I got that message, again, yesterday, that I had duplicated a post. But, as long as my post goes through, it doesn’t bother me. Lew

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