Project Tiramisu Derailed

Mid last year, Sandra and I had the pleasure of attending a cheese making course. It was a very thoughtful gift. Despite having made yoghurt for over a decade, neither of us knew anything at all about how cheese was made.

Don’t believe the hype, many cheeses are pretty easy to make. Whilst on the cheese making course, we made the classic Italian dessert cheese: Mascarpone. It’s a spreadable milky white cheese used in desserts, notably tiramisu. Hmm, tiramisu. The tasty spreadable stuff looked good that day. But loose talk of tiramisu caused my interest to go up by several factors of fluffy, it being a favourite dessert. Dreams began forming about one day making a tiramisu from scratch.

A person can be forgiven if they don’t know what a tiramisu is. Imagine a good way to use stale boring old plain biscuits by dipping them in a wicked combination of espresso coffee and marsala booze (being Australian, golden rum would do the trick nicely!) Placing the soaked biscuits carefully in a deep dish, or dumping them in on the basis that after consumption, they all end up in the same place regardless. Lather thick mascarpone cheese over the biscuits, maybe whilst also adding on another layer of biscuits and cheese. Sprinkle a bit of chocolate on top and you can perhaps understand why heart health websites suggest avoiding the dessert altogether.

As they say, fast forward, and a lot of stuff happened and the tiramisu dream never came to fruition. Long term readers will know, we’ve been busy. A few weeks ago, maybe the wind blew through the trees in an unexpected way. Perhaps the Elder Ones of the forest cast me under a spell (no doubts in the hope of getting a slice of marsala soaked delight). Chris! I began hearing in my mind. Chris! Oi! Have you forgotten your tiramisu dreams? Maybe, yeah – I thought to myself. Protests of “we’ve been busy”, were lost to the winds, and frankly sounded hollow.

Reliable sources suggest that actions are required in order to implement dreams, or avoid the worst mischief that the Elder One’s of the forest can send your way. The tiramisu journey had begun. There are culinary no-man’s lands where only the wild processed foods roam, but that’s not our style! Last week we baked the lady finger biscuits. Was this recipe easy, or what? After cooling, the biscuits were shoved into an airtight container, then forgotten about in the pantry.

Next up, tackling the big cheese. Look, it’s probably never a good thing to leave making major ingredients for a recipe to the last minute. It’s a guy thing. So, when Sandra said that she wanted to have an early start to the evening, no brownie points were won by the reminder that the cheese was yet to be made. Awkward!

Two hours of work in the kitchen later… The mascarpone cheese had sort of set, maybe. Had the cheese set, or not? What does ‘to-set’ even mean? Philosophers have clearly tackled these sorts of large questions for millennia. Us lesser folks are left with cultural incoherence, and cheese that’s a bit runny. Chris was grumpy. Sandra was grumpy. Things were not progressing well.

Was it set, wasn’t it set? Wars have been fought over less

Congealing the cheese in the refrigerator overnight helped, a bit. In cases such as these, the kitchen warrior brushes away all opposition, and bravely uses the cheese as-is. In a brief moment of doubt, the thought that perhaps there is truth to what they say about not leaving things to the last moment, crossed the frontal parts of the brain. Nah! Don’t worry about it.

Polite words of appreciation are one thing, but what’s left on the plates, and how much remains in the deep dish, are far more accurate indicators of how good a recipe is. None, and not much was the result. Friends put their eating skills to the ultimate tiramisu test over lunch, and the results were in. But I was left with the mystery – why hadn’t the mascarpone cheese firmed?

Recovery from the food coma took longer than expected.

The next day, and with a clearer head, the quest began! There are only two ingredients to mascarpone cheese: Cream and an acid. The lemons providing the acid were picked off the tree, which left only one suspect. For the fictional detective character: Hercule Poirot, this would be an open and shut case.

In these enlightened times, a person faced with product issues, may send a courteous email inquiry to a company’s customer service department along the lines of: ‘What the f#$k is wrong with your cream?’ Lucky for them, it was a weekend. But that still left the quest unresolved. A new thought leapt into my mind: What does the label on the bottle have to say about the product itself?

Rifling through the rubbish, the plastic bottle was soon found. So many questions. Why would gelatin have been added to the cream? And it looked as though the saturated fats weren’t high enough for the purposes I’d expected of them. Could I handle the truth? The thought of emailing the customer service folks and learning that the cream includes perhaps some sort of unidentified fish derived product, let alone any other weird stuff, makes me feel more ill than a proper food coma.

The old timers used to advise that if you fall off the horse, the best thing to do is get back up there and try again. They may also advise purchasing higher quality double cream next time. The quest continues…

Earlier the week was warm, then thick clouds moved in and rain fell. Not an ideal growing season, but at least we’re avoiding super hot weather, so far. The warmer days produced some epic sunsets.

The warmer days produced epic sunsets

As the storm from the Southern Ocean approached, it was still warm, although thick clouds began making their presence known. Who needs the Aurora Australis when you get to see sunsets like this one:

Who needs the Aurora Australis with sunsets like this?

Late Friday was hot and the winds howled, yet by Saturday morning the rain began to fall, and continued to do so all through Sunday (and it appears Monday).

I love a good storm in the morning

Warning: Fans of electricity derived from solar panels will be triggered by the next image…

There’s a wet dog, but not much solar power to be found

The rain over the past couple of summer weeks has put one of the oldest apricot trees here into shock, and it is now dropping leaves. The fruit had already been displaying signs of late frost damage. Not a good season for apricots.

An apricot displays signs of water stress – as in too much water

A branch loaded with Anzac peaches has also broken off during Friday’s winds. The combination of plentiful fruit and loads of water plus wind, proved too much for the branch.

A branch on this Anzac Peach has broken

When the weather was drier and warmer earlier in the week, we were able to mow the entire farm. The grass is dropped where it is cut, and it only takes a few days for the soil critters to clean it all up. Hungry little critters.

Ollie surveys his domain

The work on the low gradient path project continued. We broke up a few more boulders so as to produce the easily relocated, yet still large rocks which are so useful in projects.

The rocks weigh far more than Ollie, and he’s no feather weight

The rocks in the above image were once part of a much larger boulder. It’s difficult to know how deep any rock sits in the ground, until you’ve split the boulder then hauled it all out of the ground. And that one was lodged quite deeply. Fortunately, not all rocks are lodged as deeply, like this next one we split in half.

This rock was split in half

Two days of work went into splitting and hauling rocks, and they’re all being used on the low gradient path project.

Many rocks have been added to the low gradient path project

Recent work on that project involves construction of a wide navigable path on the downhill side of the chicken enclosure. The rock wall there will be at least two, maybe three rocks tall, and the first layer of rocks is now complete.

The first stage of this rock wall is now complete

We’ve moved a lot of rocks this week. The next stage will be to fill the area on the downhill side of the chicken enclosure with soil. Then another layer of rocks will be installed. It’s all a remarkably similar technique to making a tiramisu. Observant readers will note that the white 90mm water pipe closest to the camera needs to be adjusted so that it can sit closer to the ground.

In breaking produce news, the turmeric tuber, which is in its second year in the greenhouse, has produced a leaf.

A Turmeric tuber has produced a leaf

Also, whilst in the greenhouse, it was hard to ignore that the Babaco fruits are finally beginning to turn yellow and become ripe.

The Babaco fruits are display signs of ripening

In this weird growing season, apples and pears have proven to be the most productive of all the fruit trees.

Apples are the most productive and reliable of fruit trees

Pears, whether they be of European or Asian origin, are a close contender for the title of second best when it comes to productivity and reliability in these wet growing seasons.

European Pears shrug off the cold and wet summer weather
The Asian Pears produce even more fruit than their western cousins

The first of the seasons Zucchini are now growing, fast. If scientists were looking to create a proper Triffid, then the genes of the zucchini plant would be a perfect source.

Zucchini grow fast here

Onto the flowers:

The Chocolate Lily (Artropodium Strictum) is a common wild flower here
Prickly Tea-Tree (Leptospermum Continentale) is a very prickly and rare shrub at this elevation
Kiwi fruit vine flowers promise an abundant harvest
Agapanthus enjoyed the warmer weather earlier in the week
Penstemon flowers grow wonderfully here

The temperature outside now at about 9am is 15’C (59’F). So far this year there has been 972.4mm (38.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 948.8mm (37.4 inches)

36 thoughts on “Project Tiramisu Derailed”

  1. kitchen deadline pressure- of the self inflicted, and the entertainment varieties:
    We don’t watch a lot of television, but one series my wife got me hooked on is the Great British Baking Show. If you haven’t seen it, they throw several amateur bakers with above average skills into a contest to make various baked goods- but with time constraints. These poor folks end up making some ghastly goofs simply because of the time rush.

    Anyhoo, I just last week did the same thing to myself. I was invited to a pot luck party, and decided to make some mini quiches, nice finger food for that sort of thing. Only thing was, I’d never done the recipe before.

    Ended up a bit late to the soiree, and my quiches had a bit too much crust to filling. Edible, but not my finest work. I’m 67, and you’d think I would know better by now. Nope, not this time.

    I took cheese making class, got the equipment, rennet, etc…., but only made one batch of mozzarella. It was ok, but the amount of whey going to waste was eye opening. We’ve played around a bit with whey, but no great uses so far.

    If we ever raise pigs again, they are a great use for whey, but we also no longer have access to good milk.

    Seed catalogues have begun flying in the mail slot! I’ll wait till after the holidays to start my list, but they are fun to flip through. We need to brush off this last season and start fresh.

  2. Yo, Chris – One of your best posts, yet. Measures up to a lot of the essays I read in the “Best American Food Writing.” I had a fleeting urge to send it off to those folks, but A.) You might not like the notoriety, and B.) Not American. And I think you’d have to re-work last weeks blog post, about the production of the Lady Fingers, with this weeks post. Although I suppose if you posted it to an American food blog, it could be considered American food writing. Maybe.

    Anyway, a great post. There’s some really nice turns of phrase, in there. And it raises some interesting questions. What, really, is in our food? But no photo of the final results? Oh, come on. Can’t look any worse than an Eaton Mess. 🙂

    Both sunset photos are really calendar worthy. You should send them off to the annual National Geographic photo contest. But I did have a thought. I wonder how many photos of sunsets and sunrises they get? Probably, thousands.

    Wet dogs and solar power. On Dec. 7th, Prof. Mass had a post on solar radiation, here in the Pacific Northwest. There are some charts and maps you may find interesting. He actually mentioned that solar energy might be a problem. At least, for a large chunk of our year. His most recent post was on the first lowland snow of the year. Mostly, across Puget Sound from Seattle. None in our forecast, here. Yet.

    Oh, that is so sad about the apricots and Anzac pears. Although one branch does not make a tree, and later on it sounds like you might get some pears, this year.

    Ollie looks very stately, surveying his domain. In a later picture, he looks like something has caught his attention. I wonder what. Looks on high alert.

    So some rocks are like icebergs? 90% below the water (soil) line? One hopes the good ship Fern Glade Farm doesn’t strike one, and go down like the Titanic 🙂 . I see a huge iceberg has been cast adrift from Antarctica. I hope it doesn’t strike Australia, and cause it to go down. Do you have sufficient life boats?

    Silly me. I had never considered you’d have a Aurora Australis (aka: the Southern Lights, aka: Southern Polar Lights. Of course you would. Do you ever see them, from your place? We’ve often been promised that we can see the Northern Lights, from here. “Can be seen as far south as Oregon!” Hasn’t happened. Might be due to light pollution. Or the forested hill, to the north of us. But, I’ve never heard anyone mention seeing them.

    Turmeric, or an errant kernel of corn? 🙂 Your Babaco reminded me of a piece of ancient art. Not family friendly warning. Though come on people, it’s art! The Diana of Ephesus.

    The fountain is rather interesting. I’m sure you could find a reproduction, for your garden. 🙂 Think of the comment, it could provoke? I’m sure in some galaxy, far, far away, she’d be the Playmate of the month.

    The pears and apples look promising. Knock on wood. Yup. That looks like a zucchini blossom. Though here in the depths of winter, the memory becomes vague.

    The chocolate lilly is very pretty. And, blue! As it’s not brown, I wonder where the name comes from. Does the bulb taste like chocolate? You go first. Ah, they smell like chocolate. And the tubers can be cooked and eaten.

    So, does the Prickly Tea Tree produce any kind of drinkable liquor? Oh, it does. Quit tasty, according to reports. But it’s caffeine free, so, why bother? 🙂 Lew

  3. Maybe I should try making mascarpone. I’m sure I could get some good cream, and I have a lemon tree. I usually only buy the cheese at Easter after the lenten fast, to celebrate. And then I have a hard time using one expensive little carton of it before it goes bad. If I started making my own, I could just use it instead of butter.

    I probably wouldn’t make tiramisu. I have eaten the dessert a couple of times but it’s not my favorite. Are you the kind of person who will try again until you get it right? Or will you be satisfied with a learning experience?

  4. Hi Joanna,

    How good are lemon trees! 🙂 Out of curiosity, do you know what the variety you’re growing is? The one’s that will survive the winters here are: Eureka and also the super reliable Meyer lemon. The Eureka variety has a sharper lemon flavour, but I may be biased here as I believe the Meyer variety is more popular in your country.

    Respect for observing Lent. And in a related side story, from a purely practical point of view, in the Northern Hemisphere at least during the period of Lent, I reckon protein levels in plants would be increasing, but still very low relative to the summer months. It’s a traditional period of want, so the observance matches the ecology beautifully. In some ways, the practice is a gift.

    That’s an astute observation about the cheese possibly being a substitute product for butter. Hmm.

    I’m trialling the dessert for a specific occasion, so in answer to your question, yes I will return to the recipe until either my best efforts fail, or a quality dessert is produced. We’ll see how it goes, but I live in the land of reality which accepts that there are diminishing returns to any process. Purely for research purposes, I picked up a container of double cream late this afternoon, and it’s single origin organic stuff, with get this, a fat content of 44%. Looks lethal, and is probably very tasty.

    Which path would you take?



  5. Hi Steve,

    Hmm, thanks for the suggestion for the series and I may check it out. It is a truth universally acknowledged that some people work better under time pressure than others. It is actually quite difficult to relax and pay attention to the finer details of a process which perhaps you’re unfamiliar with – and I’d imagine that the contestants were not given time to pre-prepare for the dish? – when you’re under time pressure, or in a crisis. The other week, Lewis mentioned the baker who survived the sinking of the Titanic, whilst being in the -2’C water for two hours. Drunk apparently, and the last off the ship, so perhaps he was super calm in a crisis. The facts suggest as much. I’ll bet the best contestants are those who can shrug off the pressure with a calm: ‘yeah, whatever, man!’ and just get on with the job at hand?

    One of the things which annoyed me working at the top end of town was that there were times where reflection and consideration was required, but they wanted their pound of flesh so the work kept rolling on in. Often that approach forced the mental activity into the non-work hours. Hmm.

    You nailed it. It’s a guy thing. 🙂 Sometimes, rocking up with something edible is enough, and I’d have put your mini quiches to the ultimate test. Even with too much crust, they were probably tasty.

    Do you have chickens or dogs? They love whey. The chickens here get the whey mixed up with oats which absorb the liquid. It’s got quite a bit of protein, and the oats have other benefits. As well as the cheeses, every batch of yoghurt congeals, then after a day or so, the curds and whey separate a bit. The liquid also ends up added to the dogs breakfast. But yeah, I agree with your original point. Every time you process a raw food material into some other product, there is less end product than the mass of the stuff which went in, in the first place. I have a hunch that not many people are aware of this wastage and loss. My friends of the big shed fame keep pigs and milking cows (and goats), and the pigs love milk and milk products.

    Dude, I’m so hearing you about that – he says whilst the farm is enveloped in thick fog and mist with a side serving of rain for the fourth day in a row! Some growing seasons, the climate is just no good. I intend to nab some additional varieties of hazelnuts and chestnuts over the next few weeks. Might have to keep them in the greenhouse, because soon it may be too hot to plant them out in the orchards.

    Have the rains returned yet?



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you. And I genuinely mean that. It is a pleasure to write for my own enjoyment as well as yours. Your words were gratefully received. Please, if you know what to do, feel free to forward the words on, with appropriate attribution of course. 🙂 As always there is a story, behind the story. Yesterday, just like today, the farm was enveloped in thick fog, mist and rain. Essentially the dogs and I were all stuck indoors. Cabin fever ruled the day. At times, canine ablutions were bravely had. The dogs ran through the wet vegetation, and once sodden, pooches demanded to be let back inside the house where they were towelled down, whilst being relieved of the overall wetness and sunning themselves upon the warmth of the wood heater. Afterwards, much sleeping occurred on the dog couch and mat. Energies were saved for a more responsible summers day. Due to the prevailing climactic conditions, writing began far earlier than usual (about an hour). Then the words received three times as much editing, and four times as many reviews. On each pass the words were considered, loved and massaged. And that is what it took. 🙂

    Nowadays, I worry not about any notoriety, for my house is mostly in order. Maybe… Honestly, in this little lovely corner of the interweb, I hide. One day I’ll have to poke my nose out.

    Writing the essay was a lot of fun. And my friends of the big shed fame introduced me to the Eaton mess. There were seconds consumed that day. 😉 An image of the completed dessert was not recorded for posterity. It looked the part though.

    Anywhoo, late this afternoon I purchased a small bottle of high quality double cream which is single origin and also organic. At 44% fat with no additives, I reckon this cream will work. Speaking of work, I also had to do paid work today, and so further kitchen experimentation will have to wait for a few more days.

    Hehe! It’s pleasure enough sharing the photos with lovely people such as yourself!

    The good professor is talking my language there. The numbers presented were not encouraging for enthusiasts of renewable energy technology systems, the cheeky scamps. For instance, today and yesterday produced only one hour of peak sun, yet the day before that was only around half an hour. The photos from the tower looked sort of similar to here! It’s been pretty bleak the past couple of weeks, as is the case in your part of the world with those atmospheric rivers. Trust me on this, if ever there are too many readers and commenters here, I’ll just write about the realities of living with solar power for a few weeks. Once numbers return to more reasonable levels again, as they will, we’ll go back to the more usual stuff. 🙂 It’s a good plan, because it will work.

    One of the good things about planting a diversity of fruit trees, is that there is always something to eat – even if it is not what you want. This year looks like apples and pears. Hope the weather warms over the next few days because the kiwi fruit flowers require pollination. Some flowers have been pollinated, but not nearly enough.

    Well, yeah, I don’t want that happening either! 😉 When we select a rock, we give it a few taps to hear what may be hiding below the soil surface, but until you’ve dug the thing out, it really is hard to know just how big the boulders are. Hey, I read about that iceberg too, and you wouldn’t want to encounter the thing on the high seas. Ook! I’d imagine that the media is already bored by the subject given the lack of further reporting. What I wonder about, is how much ice on the land was that berg holding back? Mate, who has sufficient life jackets?

    It’s art for sure, and reminded me of a Star Trek joke. You know what I’m amazed by? The fountain works after so many centuries. That’s proper construction of artwork to have survived so many years, and still be in good working order. The bull testicle theory sounds like a lot of bull to me.

    I hadn’t known that the tubers of the chocolate lily were edible. Word on the street is that the flowers smell of chocolate early in the morning, thus the name. Unfortunately, testing this theory entails getting up early, and frankly this is something of a problem. The tea produced from the tea leaves is refreshing, but as you say, contains no caffeine. We used to grow a lemon scented tea-tree, and that produced a very reasonable cup.

    There is something about creativity and is a thought which is tickling the back of my mind for those websites you mentioned who allow guests and diverging but politely delivered opinions – but that does not indicate a ‘free for all mentality’ where anything goes. Hmm, the thought is tickling my brain, but lacks clarity.

    I’d have to suggest that the legal system is an expensive system to become involved with. Best avoided if at all possible. That’s the plan anyway. 🙂

    There’s a lot going wrong on the food front – thus my own interest in food. It’s not a comforting area of knowledge, but like you wisely note, does anyone pay attention? I also think not. There’s an old story about a frog in boiling water not realising that the temperature is rising. It seems appropriate that story. Glad to hear that your friend is recovering from the recent bloke surgery. It’s no small thing that. That’s essentially the problem with reductionism in that field of endeavour. It’s probably too much to expect better of them who work in those fields, and hey, they might not know if only because the knowledge is outside their field of speciality.

    I’m no Saint either… But rather I seek balance in the form of mostly rabbit food, and then some fun food. Life in a monastery is probably not all that it’s cracked up to be, although the folks there may be regular like clockwork (if you know what I mean).

    It would be very difficult for authors to both write and manage social media what with all the pitfalls entailed in that. It appears to me that these days, there are a lot of hills with which to die upon by being stupid on such platforms. And forgiveness is few and far between, despite the people driving that outcome having ideals as to their overall virtuosity. They ain’t.

    I hadn’t known of the song, despite knowing many of the duos songs. Great artists, and allegedly troubled when in each others company.

    Ah, Shakespeare, you’ve done it again! 🙂 Thanks for the history lesson. And I’d not encountered the concept of a didactic poem before. A clever way to instil lessons.

    Did the rain ease off for you and H? Have they really put a temporary end to the biscuits and gravy?

    The post went through.



  7. whey- The feed we get from the feed store has all manner of minerals and supplements added to the grain, so there are invariably some “fines” left, and are the last things the chickens will eat. It looks like powder, who would want that? For several years, we would successfully use whey to mix in with the fines to make it more attractive, and it worked. But they have gotten picky in their golden years. Thus the dilemma with whey.

    Baking reality shows- the bakers are set with three tasks per show, two of which they get a bit of practice at home beforehand, the third is a surprise. If you decide to check out the show, Paul, one of the judges, is to me the key element that makes it work. He’s pretty blunt and yet knowledgable, as he is a legit world class baker. The celebrity hosts are not my cup of tea, but maybe it’s just British humor? I find more and more current pop culture leaving me behind.

    Drought- yes, still wanting more rain. In the U.S., the weather wonks have a drought classification scheme that goes from D0 to D4; abnormal, moderate, severe, extreme, and exceptional. We were in exceptional, but have dropped down to severe. Some spots in Minnesota are still in exceptional, poor buggers.

  8. Yo, Chris – Ah, yes. Canine ablutions. Day before yesterday, every time I took H out, it was bucketing down. Luckily, she’s bang, bang and done. We still got pretty wet. My coat gets hung over the tub, and her coat gets hung up to dry, and she’s toweled down. Slow drizzle doesn’t seem to phase her, and there are so many interesting smells, to investigate. So, we get equally wet.

    When you write, you know when you’re in the zone. 🙂 On a roll, as they say. Whoever “they” are. Right now I’m reading a book by the mystery writer, Walter Mosley. I haven’t read any of his mysteries, but this is, “This Year You Write Your Novel.” (2007). It was a bit of a surprise. Just a rather thin paperback, only 111 pages.

    I tend to edit what I write here. I just check it over for any screaming typos. Maybe add or subtract a bit of a sentence so it makes more sense. Nothing major. Just a bit of detail work.

    Up here, at least the murk contributes to our hydro power. I think the thing is, solar is something you can do in your own backyard. Or at least that’s the way it’s peddled. Hydro, not so much. Although years ago, I knew a fellow out in our east county, who had a gushing spring, and a hydro set up. He also had wind and solar. I never saw what his battery set up, was. Must have been interesting.

    Weather and the bees. I still suspect that we didn’t get any early season blueberries, as the bees couldn’t get out. I know that’s the case for our pear tree. When it was in bloom, for about three days, the weather was just feral. We got hardly a one, last year.

    Yes, that Antarctic berg seems to have dropped out of the news. Three days, tops. But as you mentioned, those ice shelfs are holding back vast fields of ice, that will, eventually, slip into the sea.

    Yes, it’s pretty amazing the fountain is still perking along. You may remember Harris’s novel, “Pompeii” revolved around a hero who was a lowly Roman water inspector. I learned more about Roman water systems, than I ever wanted to know. 🙂 Reminds me of an incident from my murky past. I was invited to a low level, Mafia wedding reception. I was the plus one. Everything was pretty much done on the cheap. The reception was in the “banquet” room of an “all you can eat for 99¢” restaurant. They had one of those tinkling cherub fountains, that you’re supposed to put champaign in. Well, they put in screwdrivers. Vodka and orange juice. The pulp in the orange juice plugged up the cherubs tinkler. So guests were reduced to dipping their plastic cups, into the basins, to get a drink. Classy.

    Monasteries and clockwork. I think a little fascist, lives somewhere in my works. My train runs on time. Without fail.

    “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright,” is such a sweet song. I think it has a lot to say about the creative process.

    Well, Christmas Eve day, the Club is having “doings.” Free cookies and hot chocolate. Pictures with Santa. And, mentioned way down at the bottom of the flyer, biscuits and gravy. But, I inquired as to the time of the biscuits and gravy, and, it will be at the same time Santa is doing his thing. Were it earlier, I’d go. But by the time Santa makes his appearance, the place will be crawling with those petrie dishes on two legs … small children. So, I’ll pass.

    But biscuits and gravy are no longer a regular thing. There is a couple that come in on Saturday mornings, and have been doing a breakfast. Eggs, bacon and such. Nice of them, and bless them. But, they also have several children in tow. See: petrie dishes, above. Lew

  9. Lemon trees are divine! Mine is a Eureka. You are right, “everyone” loves Meyers, but my father was a citrus grower with ten acres of lemons at one point. I don’t know what variety his were, but definitely not Meyers. He had disdain for Meyers because they are not true lemons. I wouldn’t mind having a Meyer, too… I’m trying to figure out where I might plant one on my suburban lot. I think I’d rather have another variety of fig tree.

    The first years of my lemon tree’s life I covered it in winter against frost, but it’s rare that we get very many degrees below freezing here, so I’ve stopped doing that. Our ranch (as Californians, for some reason, call their farms) was in the Central Valley, though, where temperatures can hang down in the low 20’s all night long, which eventually meant too many lost lemon crops in spite of wind machines or smudge pots, so the lemons were replaced with more oranges, which is what most of the acreage had been in from the beginning.

    I would use the double cream by all means. Looking forward to the next report on tiramisu.

  10. Hi Steve,

    Ah, I see. It’s funny, but it kind of makes you wonder about the quality of the feed. Chickens however, love rolled oats soaked in milk or whey. But I agree, chickens can be fussy creatures.

    Just looked up Mr Paul, and he has the runs on the board to be able to judge others baking efforts. One note of particular interest was that any criticism was directed purely towards the finished product. Not every critic can live within such bounds.

    Oh my! The drought map for your country looks horrendous. The exceptional areas were quite extensive. Hope the drought breaks for you soon. You never really know when such things will happen. It’s also risky to radiate and release too much heat at ground level into the atmosphere.



  11. Hi Joanna,

    Lemon trees are such useful and attractive trees. And nothing else produces fruit here during the winter months. An absolute work horse of a tree, don’t you reckon? Hehe! Disdain for the Meyer variety is considered normal down here where most people grow the Eureka variety. But like you, I’d prefer a mix of citrus varieties. I grew a Lisbon lemon and also a bush lemon. The Lisbon just wasn’t hardy enough to the conditions here, and the bush lemon died after being relocated. Oh well. Lemons are actually quite expensive to purchase.

    Oooo! Thanks for the story, and your oranges are an inspiration. 🙂 I planted several varieties of oranges last year, and they’re still small, but otherwise are doing OK. They require a lot of feeding, you may well have more fertile soils than here?

    I’ll trial the use of the double cream over the next few days, and we’ll see. It was eye wateringly expensive at $6 for 200ml (6.7 fluid ounces)!



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Dunno about H, but my observations of our canine friends is that if their ablution runs are ignored, they may take matters into their own hands. The current lot are very well behaved, but I’ve known some dogs over the years who had a very devilish bent, and would take a sneaky wee and think they’d get away with it. Perhaps the bucketing down gave H inspiration to get on with the business at hand? Hehe! Yeah, true, and the dogs here love crashing through wet vegetation, so even if it is not raining, they get wet, just like that trick H pulled with the drizzle.

    That’s exactly it, the zone. Or on a roll, as the gamblers say, yeah. It’s funny but you started my mind considering things, and I began wondering if there was a website with best internet writing for the week. And no, surprisingly I couldn’t find such a thing. The national youth broadcaster has a website for unsigned bands to chuck on their music – and they listen to all of it, and play the best on the radio. It’s an astounding way to foster creativity. It’s called unearthed. Writing could well use such a vehicle. Is the Mosley book a worthwhile read? Discipline is not a problem here! 🙂 You may have noticed? Hehe!

    That’s my approach to the comments here. It’s a more fluid word space, less formal if you take my meaning. Maybe a year or two ago I became a touch concerned that I was repeating myself, and using the same phrasing over and over, and then realised I had to limit the use of phrasing to one use per day, and then get over myself! The self awareness was uncomfortable, but that’s now in the past.

    There are a couple of good streams around here which would run micro hydro, at least when it’s not a drought. The geography is such that water falls out of the mountain range, so it has energy. They don’t tend to construct houses near to the waterways in these parts, so it’s probably too far. And I agree, solar is something you can do at home.

    Hey, after so many foggy and wet days in a row, the sun finally shone strongly today. Whoa, the combination of hot and humid was something else. Anyway, the house batteries began the day at 51% full, which is crazy low for this time of year when they’re normally over the 90% full mark. The solar panels brought in 21.7kWh today, which was enough for the house, and to fill the batteries by 3:30pm. For a while there, I was beginning to think that the battery charger needed to be hauled out. And the components in the system ran cool, which is a real achievement.

    Those old school battery systems with the flooded lead-acid cells were pretty interesting, yeah.

    That’s possible with the early varieties. It’s touch and go at that time of year here too for insect pollination. I noted the old duffer we spoke of, was hand pollinating the fruit trees, but then you’d expect the UK to be colder again.

    Oh yeah, the ice shelves will slip into the ocean. I’d imagine that there is already melt water under them given the epic berg was calved (as they call it). The sun will be even closer to the edge of the ice shelves now. The media has been turned into a newt.

    🙂 Talk about esoteric knowledge! The fictional character Numerius Popidius Ampliatus, seems like a lot of trouble, and ended up badly. Double dipping in a drink fountain is probably accruing bad karma, just sayin’… It’s funny where you can occasionally end up through only the most tenuous of associations. Once that was worked to my advantage, and got rid of a very pesky nuisance. Sadly, it is not a tale I can tell.

    That’s funny, and I bow to your superior knowledge of your own inner workings. 🙂 Politicians can win brownie points by making the trains run on time. The Editor has a bad vibe about the country trains due to issues with using them in her youth. I’ve found them to be excellent, but freely admit that things are now different. Truth to tell, I enjoy the knowledge that the minerals work their way back into the soil here. Makes it less appealing to go elsewhere, but this is not always a realistic possibility.

    It’s poetry turning a person into a song. The lyrics are lovely. If I close my eyes, I can hear The Concert in Central Park. My memory is quite good for recalling music, dunno why.

    Lewis, you’re not on your own there. I wouldn’t go either. I’ve been invited by friends to their kids birthday parties (which sounds kind of similar), and left as soon as it was politely possible to do so. The thing I was always left wondering about, why the heck did they invite me in the first place?

    Double bummer, man. It’s still hot and at 11pm the windows are all open to the night air. The forecast is not reassuring, but the wind from the ceiling fans is at least cooling. It’ll rain late tomorrow night.



  13. Yo, Chris – Best internet writing of the week? Given the amount of stuff that hits the net, each week, it would be like trying to pick something out of a flood, with a sieve. 🙂 And who decides what’s best? You know, “The Best American Food Writing” is part of a yearly series. Every year, there’s also “Best American Essays,” “Mystery and Suspense,” “Science and Nature,” “Science Fiction and Fantasy,” and “Short Stories.” These days, most of it comes off the internet.

    So, is Mosley’s book on writing, worth a look? I think any published author, who writes on the craft is worth a look. And Mosley has published almost 30 books. He must be doing something right. 🙂 It’s interesting you mention wrestling with the muse. I’m not very far into the Mosley book, but one of the first things he talks about is “Learning How to Write Without Restraint.”

    I’m glad you’re weather is finally cooperating, and goosing your solar system, a bit. With all the learning and tinkering you’ve done, of course it’s going to run cool. You can rest on your laurels, a bit.

    Hand pollinating fruit trees? That sounds like a very zen gardening thing to do. As in, picking currents or chopping up corn stalks.

    Numerius was an actual person, who lived in Pompeii. Though we really don’t know anything about his personality. He did rebuild the temple of Isis, at his own expense, after the big earthquake. He was a freedman, who somehow or another, made good.

    All I know is, I’d better not stray to far from facilities, late in the morning. 🙂

    Why did they invite you? So the kid could get an extra present. Years ago, I was invited to a wedding. Some folks who had never invited me to any of their parties or dinners. I was in the tat trade, then, and think they expected something nice out of the shop. I declined … without much good grace. 🙂

    Just to whinge, a bit … I went out shopping, for the pantry, last night. When I got home at 8:30pm, there wasn’t a single space left in the lot. I ran into the night manager, and he’d checked, and all spaces were taken up by people who live here. I ended up moving my truck, on the street, three times. Didn’t get a wink of sleep. The stress is killing me. But, on reflection, I’m going out, this morning, and there will probably be a space when I get back.

    If I complained to the building manager, she’d just blow me off. But whoever is the odd person out tonight, well, the harpies will be unleashed. I don’t know what can be done, but, I take comfort in knowing her life will be miserable, from here on out. Lew

  14. Chris,

    I’ve had tiramisu once. A friend made it from scratch. It tasted fantastic. It was also runny. Making everything work properly with that food seems to be a major challenge.

    Something you said to me last week I think is correct: people really don’t want clarity. Rather, they want reassurance. I remember one day at work our entire group was called into a meeting with the Big
    Boss. He’d just gotten out of a meeting with the Head Honcho. Big Boss told us that Head Honcho had decided that such and such a project WILL be done “because in the long run it will save money”. He assigned Big Boss and his group to “run the numbers to make it look like it saves money”. We ALL knew it was a money waster. Big Boss told us that there would be no discussion, the decision had been made. He looked at me, then at my junior tech, and said, “You two aren’t working on this. I’ve assigned it to X and Y.” Of course we weren’t going to work on it. Both of us were too honest. Brutally honest. Stink would have hit the fan. Neither X nor Y were number people either.

    Nice sunset photos. We had been having spectacular sunsets throughout much of October and November. Now we’re back to low clouds, fog and mist. Sometimes a good sunset is at least as beautiful as the aurora. It’s the novelty of the aurora that sometimes makes aurora the winner.

    Prior to the current fog and mist, there was another snowstorm. Saturday night into Sunday. It was forecast for maybe 5cm. Nope. We got 12cm of exceedingly wet snow at +1C. Then it turned into a light mist. It was too wet for the snow blower, so it was time to shovel. It was nasty work. UGG. It was heavy. Definitely got a good workout. The yoga and other stretching I’ve been doing paid dividends. I wasn’t sore the next day. 🙂

    With the snow, Avalanche wanted to stay outside most of the day. Late in the evening I went to bring her in. I couldn’t see her. I ventured a bit further from the door and noticed that the gate to the alley was open! It has a lock on it, and the lock hadn’t been disturbed. I ran inside, told the Princess, and we both donned our winter boots and coats and went out to find Avalanche. The Princess called her and Avalanche ran into the yard from the alley. Whew!

    I investigated. There were ruts down to the pavement, the sides of the alley still being covered by snow. Footprints had walked to our gate and shuffled around. The chain link fence’s gate’s latch had been bent out of shape allowing the gate to be forced open. So, I got some chains and lashed things together. Got new parts on Monday, including a new lock and better chains. So now we have to beef up the gate and lock with chains to keep it from been forced open again.

    At least Avalanche didn’t stray and is unharmed.


  15. When a few years ago I mentioned to my brother-in-law, who’s also in the citrus business, that my lemon tree wasn’t bearing much, he told me I need to feed it four times a year!

    My other fruit trees have never been fed since being planted with a good application of compost in the planting hole, and the breakdown of heavy mulch. Since I’ve fed the lemon more intentionally— though I’ve only managed 3X per year — it’s done great.

    It gets a lot of competition from the roots of a giant pine tree nearby so that probably is a factor that contributes to its neediness.

  16. Hi Joanna,

    Proving your soils are more fertile than the ancient rocks down here, the local gardening club suggests to feed citrus trees once per month. I’m not making this up, look under the heading ‘Steps on Growing’ at the very bottom of the page: How to Grow Citrus

    With a couple of hundred fruit trees to feed, I have to consider which will eat and which won’t, and citrus always gets a priority. I’ve done much the same as you with compost in the planting hole and then mulches for a few years, but really, they need extra minerals such as bone meal just for one example. It’s also worth noting that composts and mulches down here are probably more deficient in some minerals than in your part of the world. Such things being only as good as the soils they were grown in.

    Hehe! Yes, I so understand what you mean by a big pine tree and the effects on fruit trees that has. 🙂 Some of the surrounding forest trees are taller than a 165ft and yeah, they have very extensive root systems. Some fruit trees I’ve moved out of their clutches, and citrus have quite small and shallow root systems. It’s hard to know when to move them though, always a bit chancy.



  17. Hi DJ,

    Ha! The runny texture with the cream based cheese doesn’t affect the flavour, fortunately. The cheese really is meant to set firm though. I’ll trial a small batch of super-high quality double cream over the next week and see what happens. At 44% fat, it’s probably good for a persons brain!

    Oh yes, such scenes have been familiar to me too, which is why I now prefer to work with what is known as ‘small to medium businesses’. They cannot afford such mischief. That sort of story you recounted I’ve heard described of as a ‘vanity project’. And they happen. Someone can push through a project from sheer force of personality and power imbalances, and such top down approaches rarely work. You know what works? You ask the people who have to get stuff done, if they’ve got any ideas about a resolving a particular issue. Then the ideas get chucked around, and support is sought. The idea gets implemented, and if successful the people who came up with the ideas are suitably rewarded. That’s known as a meritocracy, and people live or die by their wits. By contrast, with a top down approach, failure can be rewarded, so the results get weirder and weirder, and here we are today.

    There is truth in what they say that such approaches do not matter, that is, until they matter. But nobody knows when that will be. My best guess at this stage is that the oil cartel will muck around with supply. The underlying economics are eerily similar to the mid 1970’s.

    Dude, I’ve never seen an aurora, although on the day the photo was taken, it was meant to have extended this far north but err, clouds, mountains to the south and stuff. Zero chance of seeing one here! Aurora Australis ‘sparkles’ across Australian skies as far north as inland New South Wales. It’s pretty awesome, isn’t it? And yeah, novelty is the way of it. Had a good look at Haley’s Comet when it shot past last time. Truly impressive.

    Never shovelled wet snow, but I reckon it would be heavy, like the difference between digging dry soil and damp soil. Ask me why I know this!!! 🙂 Good stuff, and I’ve heard it said before that the definition of sustainability is being able to get up the next day and do it all over again! Not that I’d want that for you, but you know. Without regular daily stretching, I’d be a wreck. I’ve said it before about the long distance running I did when a younger bloke, and the older blokes who just kept pushing on after injuries. It was quite eye-opening, but loss is part of the human condition.

    Oh my! Well you can’t punish Avalanche for coming back when called. The trick is to stop her going in the first place. You’ve got a mystery there for sure. Do you have any ideas how the gate was open? Sandra is learning that dogs actually appreciate boundaries.

    You’d imagine that Avalanche scared off the person who performed that act. I’d not be so cocksure around a husky who was on its own turf. I’ve noticed that even the deer (there was one lurking around tonight) take Ollie seriously. It is possible that Avalanche has earned her dinner?

    It was quite warm here today, and very humid. A very tropical Wednesday in Melbourne. There are moments when I feel that the area may become rainforest.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    True, there is a lot of noise ‘out there’ in the land of the interwebs. And that’s a good point. Curators can become dictators, and you never know whether they’ll be benevolent, or otherwise do it for the chicks (as Malcolm McLaren reputedly said). A notable ginger! 🙂

    Oh well, it was just an idea, I’d not quite appreciated the sheer volume of material required to be sifted through. Perhaps I need to get out more? 😉 My digital footprint is quite large, but only in a few locations, other than that, it is non existent. You’d imagine that work would require more than a few full time folks reading away all day long. Some words sing though.

    Thirty published books is a notable achievement. Hmm, you’ve piqued my interest and Walter Mosley is a very interesting person. I respect his work ethic, and there was a very amusing comment from his mentor whom he met at a College. He has knowing eyes, and the left is ever so slightly opened wider. Hmm, you got me there. I’ll check out the book, however being in the middle of nowhere at the bottom of the planet few things other than bushfires and storms, happen quickly!

    There was a huge deer in the orchard this evening. Ollie and I just went outside to do something about it. There’s a story there as to how the deer came to be by itself. At this stage of the year it’s hard to tell if the deer is a stag or not

    Writing without restraint was a hurdle to jump. It’s weird given the nature of the subject matter here that it would even become an issue, and I’d just become self conscious of the words, but yeah. A bit of a nuisance really, and something to let go of and just enjoy the process. The words should stand on their own merit, they’re created and then set free. Not mine to control, and I’m not wired that way anyway. I’d never heard of the hump as ‘wrestling with the muse’. Is that an old saying?

    Maybe! 🙂 With the solar power, there is a bit of work still to do, but given everything appears to be working OK at the moment, it’s probably, maybe, sort of, safe for the moment to get onto other projects. What most people do not understand about this technology is that the number one way to make the stuff last, is to keep it running cool – at every single point in the system. In some ways it is just like peoples immune systems. You don’t want the system doing nothing, but neither do you want it stressed out all the time. It’s that middle ground again!

    Had some good thunder storms today, with more to come over night. It’s like the tropics out there, and the plants are growing. Trust me in this, I’m keeping an eye out for Triffids. Pesky critters. The air temperature has finally fallen. Yay! 63’F now near to 11pm.

    Well, hand pollination would be a very zen like activity, but maybe it would be better if the insects got on with the work? The way things are going though, probably safe to keep the pollination brush handy!

    Really? I’d thought that Numerius was a fictional character. I’d thought it strange that a Roman freedman would do such a thing to a slave. But then people can be strange and want to prove loyalty to a system, even when the system itself is odd.

    Know thyself! And know where the next facility is. 🙂 One of the uncomfortable things about travelling in unknown and distant locales is the awful question: What if there is no toilet? A good example is: You wouldn’t catch me in one of those hot air balloon rides. No way. Not into it.

    You really think that the parents were being that mercenary? But yeah, maybe they were. Clearly your wisdom is superior to have avoided the ceremony, although nowadays I’m a bit more discerning as to how the moments are used. Between you and I, a lot of weddings end up looking the same to me, and I don’t win friends by mentioning the success rates of such endeavours. Honestly, if you asked me to get on an aircraft, and the thing has a one in two chance of crashing, I’d think long and hard on that choice – which I did do.

    A bit of a shame that graciousness is in rather short supply these days, it’s quite a useful approach to the expression of discommode in relationships. Probably one of the side effects of the pushing hard on the emotional buttons of the population all the time in ham-fisted ways. The awful problem with the strategy, is that people can become addicted to the emotional energy outlet or rush, and that’s no good because it most likely escalates.

    Feel free to whinge away. I love a good whinge. Hmm, so are there more people than car parks, or do some folks have multiple vehicles per unit? There’s a lot of possibilities there. I can’t recall you mentioning this happening before. What’s wrong with parking on the street? This perhaps may be a cultural difference. When in the big smoke, I let such concerns go and have learned to hope for the best, but be realistic. Mind you, driving vehicles that are unappealing, manual, and not always with a clean exterior, helps. When in the jungle, dude…

    Treat it like a game of strategy, and I have no doubts your vehicle will again rest snug and sound in the car park. Honestly, it might be safer on the street? I used to work at a business which employed bus drivers and some of them had very thick lenses on their glasses – there was a lot of damage caused. Are you entirely certain that the eye sight of all the folks around you is up to scratch? Your concern may be misplaced here.



  19. Yo, Chris – Some curators have a political agenda. Or, what passes for politics, these days. “Folks reading away…” Well, moderators. Though the “We’re only a platform,” boys, thought they could get away with not having moderators. But there never seem to be enough, and they become too dependent on algorithms. Which are faulty, at best. Easily gotten around. I always have a good laugh when I get something that says, “Based on your previous purchases, we think you’d like this.” Not by a country mile.

    Re: “Middle of nowhere.” Besides, it’s Christmas. That time of the year when everything takes twice as long. 🙂

    Yummers! Venison on the hoof. Or, at least you won’t have to buy dog food, for awhile.

    Weather here has been mild and clear, for a couple of days. Your weather sounds like it might be ideal, for the propagation of Triffids. Or, Audreys.” I think the cactus book might be waiting for me, at the library.

    As with movies, “Kinda, sorta based on a true story.”

    Look, when I moved in here, a parking spot was part of the deal. Assigned, no less. But, come the new regime … No, there is no one with multiple vehicles. I don’t think. I do think we have a few people who have vehicles, but don’t drive them, anymore. That’s one of those rough spots, in the aging process.

    If you read our police reports, you’d think twice about parking on the street. The Institution parking lot is minimally safer. Though we have had a car prowl or two. I don’t like games, strategy or otherwise. Except for a rousing game of solitaire. Several people down at the club play Cribbage. I refer to it as “Dave’s Cult of Cribbage.” I keep threatening to call the deprogrammers.

    Went and got gas, this morning. Thought I better top up before things get really crazy. $4.20 a US gallon. I forgot to mention we got our notice as to the amount of increase will be on our next year’s Social Security payments. I’ll get the princely sum of an extra $23 a month. How they can refer to that as a cost of living increase, with a straight face, I’ll never know. I’ll try and not spend it all in one place.

    “Wrestling with the muse.” Or, going two falls out of three, if you prefer 🙂 . Well, I thought it might be an original saying, of my own. But, apparently, there’s a book out there by that title, about a black poet, I’ve never heard of. Like the agricultural revolution, and pyramids, probably a case of … whatever you want to call ideas that is independently stumbled on. Lew

  20. Chris,

    Yes, 44% fat in the cream is probably great for the human brain. I’d be careful with that, however. If your brain gets to be too healthy, the dread zombies might appear.

    Meritocracy. That’s how I tried to do things as a lead worker/acting supervisor. If things worked, then due credit was given. If it didn’t work, then it was a learning experience. If we missed a deadline as a result, then it was my responsibility as the team leader. I am happy to report that one of my friends from that place was promoted to a pretty high-level manager about 3 years before I retired. He started there 2 months after I did. I’ve heard from reliable sources that he is a very good manager to work for. Rare in that type of organization.

    Oh, I remember the mid 1970s economics. Not pretty. I agree that things are rather similar now. Things are interesting. Knowing many people who have been unemployed for over a year, others who have good jobs, are frugal, but struggling to get by, and then watching the
    US stock market set record highs, well, that disconnect between stocks and what I see on the street makes no sense to me. I, too, expect games to be played with the oil supply.

    Those aurora photos you linked to were fantastic. We get aurora here occasionally. Unfortunately, we have had cloud cover most of the auroral displays this year. We had some spectacular outbreaks in 1982. Of course, the aurora were visible nearly every clear night when I was in Fairbanks. They were nearly always spectacular there, at least when compared with what we typically see here.

    I got a glimpse of Halley’s Comet in 1986. Twas when I was studying in New Mexico. During spring break a friend and I visited his brother in Tucson, Arizona. It was barely visible. I heard that it was better in the southern hemisphere.

    Good analogy, dry versus wet dirt. Let’s you know how heavy water is. 😉

    Oh, I was functional the next day. Not sore. Flexible. I don’t know if I could have repeated the snow removal on back-to-back days, though. Maybe but with a smaller shovel and twice the time. Or longer. The stretching is sure a life changer, isn’t it?

    Avalanche got no punishment. I can’t blame her for wandering out the open gate, especially since there had been an intruder. Her coming when she was called was a bonus! I tracked her after she and the Princess went in the house. She hadn’t strayed far. She did try to duck out the gate when I had it open to take out the garbage barrel today, but one quick “No! Hup!” and she stopped in her tracks, well away from the gate. She knows but had to test.

    The sun was out for a few hours today. Our walk coincided with the sun shining. It was a pleasant break from the fog, which is supposed to return shortly.


  21. Hi DJ,

    That’s a profound thought. So are you suggesting that when the zombie apocalypse occurs, our best bet is to just act dumb as if we had no brains to offer? I can do that, and must add that it was a brutal debt collection technique. Like being clubbed over the head with fluffy technique number six. Hmm. Most people aren’t prepared for that skill to be turned upon them, which he whispers (so that others can’t over hear): Learned it in a secret monastery which trains those folks so disciplined, in the way of the fluffy. You may have heard of this? No? Well you have now. Avalanche knows these things. Anyway, people in default are one thing, but do you reckon zombies will be so easily fooled?

    Respect, and that is how I did things too. People earned their stripes, as they say. They certainly weren’t given out just because. You would have been good to work for, but sadly that’s been my experience too, there aren’t enough such leaders around. I’ve mentioned this before, but when leadership is otherwise, a person can deliver amazing results, and all that is ever requested is more. Such leaders are never satisfied, and you can end up working harder than your peers, which makes no sense whatsoever. Sun Tzu in The Art of War, recommended to look after the champions. It does not surprise me that two millennia on, we are still the same people.

    Yeah, I’m seeing the disconnect too, although not the unemployment bit, down here it is manifesting as under employment – which is odd, but maybe it’s an adaptive strategy? Dunno. One of the things which bothered me when working at the top end of town was that we lived frugally, and worked towards paying down debt as the number one goal, but the mad cash only ever went so far. And fifteen years ago, the debt loads were much lower. Deciding not to play is an option.

    It’s the oil games I’m wondering about now. The price of a barrel of oil is not usually adjusted for inflation, so when reported over a long enough time the numbers sound weird because the basis is not the same. Your maths brain will handle such ideas better than mine, and I promise not to tell any roaming zombies of your skills in this area. 🙂 I have an odd hunch that all the mad cash games going on, will really annoy the daylights out of the suppliers. But I’m not privy to any information other than asking myself the question: Now if I were in that position, what would I do?

    Hey, it’s been so cloudy here too, that I likewise missed all of these events, and even the recent meteor shower. With all the extra water vapour in the atmosphere due to higher sea surface temperatures, there are heaps more clouds here on average – and it was already cloudy beforehand. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed the photos, they were awesome. Fairbanks is a long, long, way north of where you’re at nowadays. Surely, you don’t miss the midnight sun over the summer months, and the long dark winter months? A bit of balance is always a nice thing, although I have no doubts that even the dinosaurs adjusted to such discrepancies in sunlight due to the orbit of the Earth around the Sun. There are times I wonder about the doomed Viking colony in Greenland, and how they eventually fared despite having survived there for so many years. I never quite understood the proscription for the mainlanders on the continent from interacting with them?

    That was my understanding of the comet too. It was brighter down here. The best comet I’ve seen though was: Comet McNaught. It was visible to the eye, even with the city lights. I recall a particularly choice viewing spot not too far from my inner urban house on a fairly recent in a geological timeline and maybe, probably, hopefully extinct recent volcano, maybe. 🙂 There were people all over the place marvelling at the comet spectacle.

    Water is heavy. Yup. Might do some digging tomorrow, proving that further explorations into this matter, might need being done! Got up far too early this morning and did paid work. However, after that, we headed about an hours drive north and picked up stores of honey for the summer months, and visited the remnants of what was left of an old gold mining era water wheel. The scale was huge, and I bet the wheel produced a goodly amount of torque for the adjacent quartz crushing plant. Got some photos.

    There is still much infrastructure to create before I’m content with the arrangements, so this necessitates lots more work. Oh well. The stretching routines are a life saver, yup. Probably even more important as time goes on.

    I agree, if Avalanche returned after being so called, from a dogs perspective, she has done all that is required of her. The opened gate was a novelty, for which she had no instructions and as such was able to choose her own path. It’s coming back that is the important thing here, as you noted. Exactly, dogs want boundaries. Like your gate, we can also open the doors, and if the dogs are not invited outside, they know to stay where they are.

    The thing I’ve observed with dogs, is that if you don’t give them boundaries, they’ll simply escalate behaviours. The awful reality is that if a person wants to be the leader, they have to actually be the leader with all that entails. It’s a burden. You can’t just lead a few people here and there and then just say ‘stuff it’ for the rest. The rest will get their own ideas about things, and that is where the problems begin.

    Here comes the sun, for you and Avalanche! 🙂 Looking out the window there are some thick clouds, but today was the first day for a while where there was no rain, and the sun felt warm. Planted out a whole bunch of tomatoes and chilli plants that a friend gifted.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    There are some great finds. The Meg tooth find was rather ironic, don’t you reckon? In the deeps lives the mighty Meg, best left untroubled, yet can humans avoid such hubris? The Meg will have the final say in this matter! The sandals are amazing, and if the ancients made such items, they probably knew how to make other useful things with the technique. Led Zepplin mysteries solved. But I reckon the sword was the best find of the lot. You’d hope that the sword was included as a burial gift for the three skeletons, rather than an awesome weapon in the hands of a not so gifted warrior?

    I hear you, bias is unable to be excluded from any form of choice. That’s incidentally a bigger problem than it may seem at first. My understanding of how such things worked before algorithms was that third world labour apparently did the work. I’d imagine that there were consequences for viewing all those cat videos in far distant countries where labour is possibly cheap? That’s my understanding of the algorithms as well, they’re good, but probably not good enough. Jokes aside, imagine what the unfortunate souls have to actually view?

    I’m yet to encounter such recommendations for purchases, although like your experience, they may have been so far off the mark, that I’d not appreciated that they were even recommendations. That’s possible.

    Woke up early this morning, and got stuck into paid work. Next week is it for paid work, then I can have a break for a week and a half. Looking forward to that. Anyway, finished up work just prior to lunch and headed north about an hours drive. Stocked up on honey supplies for the summer at a place I know, and then whilst in the area checked out an old gold mining era ruin. It’s another of what used to be a huge water wheel. I’m assuming the power was used to run a quartz crushing battery adjacent to the wheel. Time wipes away many of our constructions. Took some photos and will chuck them on the next blog. There’s a lot of gold era industrial ruins about an hours drive north of here, and they’re quite instructive as to where things can go, and how they’ll end up looking like in the far distant future. Hopefully over next winter I’ll check out some more.

    True, but sometimes there is wiggle room within the system. So I sold something on ebuy that I had no intention of using. And here’s the thing, I wrapped it up in cheery seasonal gift paper, and you know what? The thing worked it’s way over to the next state in record time, and arrived in good condition. Just saying, some packages get treated better than others and I had a hunch that this might be the case. The person who got the purchase was really happy.

    Hehe! And the chickens would be sure to enjoy the venison as well. One day I’m going to have to get around to breeding chickens, but that’s not today. Haven’t seen the deer today. It’s quite a tasty meat.

    Thanks for the reminder, yes, I’m on the alert for Audrey’s as well. Likewise they are pesky critters, but perhaps less mobile than Triffids. The weird insect eating plant in the greenhouse looks a lot like a mini-Audrey II. Planted out a batch of tomatoes and chilli plants today that a friend had gifted. A fine gift, and much appreciated. It’s hard to stop gauging the quality of soil when I plant stuff out… Habits, huh? 🙂

    If true, Vedius was a monster. Sadly, monsters are still around.

    The car parking thing looks like a mystery to me. You’re probably right about people owning vehicles, and then not driving them. Dude, letting go is hard, and in that story I sense a mismatch between perceptions and reality. Those two often not being the same thing. It is a rough spot, yes. A couple of days ago I said to a mate who is older than I, that ‘this ageing thing isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be you know’. Scored a withering look for my sense of humour, but at this stage, I’m just happy to be around.

    Fortunately, those reports are restricted to your part of the world. But you’re the best judge of the risks in your area. It is worth noting that cars are not easily replaced these days.

    I mentioned the use of the concept of a ‘game’ purely as another tool to have in the mental tool-kit for use at an appropriate moment. And card games were big when I was a kid, but will probably be big again in the future. Packs of cards are small, and the games are cheap and entertaining to play – unless mad cash is involved! I’ve had a difficult relationship with video games in the past, and so had to work through that. Somewhere the fun became lost with them. Oh well. 🙂 Hehe! Hope Dave and Co. enjoy your sense of humour. I’ve never seen anyone play Cribbage.

    Hmm, we’ll see about those suggested interest rate cuts next year. There’s a lot of variables banging around right now, and possibly it is too early to make such calls. That lot at the helm of your country, might be facing escalating repayments for bonds given the increased rates, which will most likely be funded by even more bonds. The whole thing makes very little sense to me, but it is very possible that is the entire point of the look of the exercise. If you ask questions, you might not like the answers. I expect that rates have been held down so that retail sales aren’t slugged at this time of year.

    It ain’t much of an increase is it?

    Poetry, it’s powerful stuff you know. The best ideas are sometimes already taken. We’re living in the times of the rule of the diminishing returns. I can’t really say for sure when was the last time I had an original thought? Or, is even having that thought an original thought? Or is it all merely conspiracy theory? How would we even know? My head is now spinning… 🙂



  23. Yo, Chris – Maybe the Titanic really didn’t hit an iceberg. Maybe a Meg ripped out the bottom, in umbrage over the stolen tooth? 🙂 I can’t quit imagine what kind of an Edwardian lady would wear such a thing. Edwardian hippie? The sandals were cool. It also mentioned that there were other woven things, found at the same time. Organic materials from “way back when” are so rare. Maybe the sword killed the three dudes in the hole? 🙂 Looking at old skeletons can be so interesting. Injuries? Where they healed? Etc..

    I have read that the moderator wash-out rate is very high. Some things, seen, can not be unseen.

    What’s really funny is when they recommend something, I’ve already purchased.

    Looking forward to your industrial ruins photos. Abandoned places can be so interesting. Judging from all the stuff on the Net, and books on the subject, there’s a lot of fascination with those places. Maybe a bit of it is discomfort with the idea that something that took so much time and effort to build, can be just walked away from. Due to circumstances.

    I’ll be looking forward to your adventures in chicken breeding. Even I, successfully raised chicks, from three days old to maturity. There’s just some basic rules to follow. I was armed with the “For Dummies” books, and they saw me through.

    I keep forgetting to mention, Jane, from the Funny Farm, has an Emu. The old thing is over 20 years old. We had a long discussion, last night, about her adventures in Emu. I guess, in some ways, they’re pretty dumb birds. They can’t back up. They lost one young Emu, because it got in a corner, and couldn’t figure out how to get out. I think it was her husband, that started off with a pair. There were some babies. One, was put back with his parents at three years old, and they killed him. I forget what happened to the male.

    I find carnivorous plants, fascinating. I’ve thought about putting a few out in the garden, but then, I worry about them eating pollinators. Which we have too few of. Better off as a house plant, I think. By the way, I got the book “The Cactus Hunters” (Margulies, 2023), from the library, yesterday. (Along with 15! other items). I read the introduction, last night. I think it’s going to be pretty interesting. He talks a lot about the illicit trade in cacti. One thing not in their favor, is that they have a certain … lootability. Not a real word, but one he uses a lot. He also really examines the urge to collect, which he even recognizes, in himself. What I didn’t know is that a lot of collectors, rather than purchasing cloned or raised cacti, want “the real thing.” Plucked from the wild. Apparently, in collecting circles, it has more … cachet. This can be a problem, and the example he used strikes close to home. Consider the Christmas or Thanksgiving cactus. Heck, I’ve got one sitting in a pot, just 3 feet off my port bow. They’re everywhere. But in the wild, they’re threatened and beginning to go extinct, in some areas. Due to urbanization, climate change … and collecting.

    I came home at 7:30, last night, and got the last parking spot, in the lot. Felt so lucky, maybe I should have bought a lottery ticket. 🙂 We have something new. At least in Centralia. A FLOCK safety camera system. Something like CCTV. It identifies stolen vehicles, and even people with outstanding warrants, or crims on the run. There’s been several apprehensions, reported in our newspaper.

    I got to thinking about things like leases, and such. Leases really lay out the rules and responsibilities of tenants. But not so much the responsibilities of landlords. Sure, when I moved in here, on-site parking was promised on the website … but not in the rental agreement. But other than false advertising, if it’s not in the lease, there’s really no legal recourse. An interesting way of looking at things.

    Watching cribbage is about as exciting as watching paint dry.

    Here’s the thing about Social Security and the COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment.) Way back in the early 1960’s, when I started working, a certain percentage of my check went to Social Security. Matched by an equal amount from whoever I was working for. Every dime I’ve ever made was subject to the tax. You may find this chart interesting. Way back when, I was paying 3.375% of my wages. Notice the steady increase, over the years.

    So, for 50 some years, the government has been playing with my money. With the promise that I’ll get some of it back. There’s a lot of chicken littles running around, always trumpeting the demise of Social Security. Usually, the same people that would like to toss all that money to Wall Street. As they’d manage the funds, soooo much better. So far, even the rank and file, and the great unwashed are not buying it. It’s sometimes referred to as the “third rail.” in politics. “Third rail” is a subway train reference. The third rail is the one with the electrical charge in it. Something you wouldn’t want to touch 🙂

    Ah, more on the Meg tooth. If it is a Meg tooth. And, as to who might have owned it.

    This is pretty interesting. There is a bit of an ad, right in the middle, but I suppose the young lady has to pay for her site, somehow. 🙂 By the process of elimination, she pretty much narrows down the usual suspects. Lew

  24. Hi Lewis,

    Well yeah, they said it was an iceberg, but if it were a Meg, and I mean a proper big bad as Meg, who’d know the difference? You’ve seen the film, and know the truth of these things. Could a Meg sink the Titanic, absolutely. That’s an incontrovertible fact. 😉 The video was a hoot too, Abby is a gifted presenter. Thanks for the laughs and education! You now see the sort of stupid stuff my long suffering assistant accountants and other miscellaneous accounts staff have had to put up with over the years? Alas, the higher ups failed to share my sense of fun and humour, but that was their loss!

    So, the truth is out, and it ain’t no meg tooth, but a big toothy great white shark instead. Frightening things even so, that can kill you seriously dead and rather quickly. Many a surfer has come to grief around the coast line. Some surfers have taken the fight to the shark, and won. It’s a chancy response though, but better than none at all: Mick Fanning escapes shark attack in J-Bay Open surf event in South Africa. Imagine the presence of mind required to be able to respond to such an attack?

    The Edwardians may have been ahead of the curve. When I was a kid I recall people wearing shark teeth necklaces held by a leather strap. Probably not gold plated though, but you won’t see me diving to retrieve that particular shark tooth at the depths of the ocean. Hey, I’m still recovering from the failed tin can incident, should send them a bill for the therapy costs! 😉 Back in those days of the 1970’s to about mid 1980’s you could enjoy flake (deep fried and battered shark meat) from the local fish and chip shop. Seriously, shark is tasty, no doubt sharks hold similar opinions but in reverse.

    I don’t doubt you about the moderators dropping out rates. And I agree, some things cannot be un-seen.

    Software can be so tiresome, and algorithms just want to be more than they are. They ain’t! 🙂

    What interested me about the ruins of the water wheel, and I’m sure the Romans left more than their fair share of those littered about the landscape, was that there was no water in the area. So the forest around there was what they describe as a box iron-bark forest, and it was very dry looking. No top soil, stunted trees – you’re getting a picture. But at one point 170 years ago, the local waterways flowed enough to power a huge water wheel. Just sayin’ that things are different there now. And it is not like we didn’t have huge rainfall totals in that area not all that long ago. Discomfiture is the word.

    We have like, zero experience with breeding either dogs or chickens, so you I doff my hat to your experience.

    Oooo, and Emu you say? Well that was unexpected. From reading the book ‘Sand Talk’ recently, I was left with the distinct impression that your recount of Jane’s adventures with the huge birds, was perhaps not out of character for the species. People do have them around here, and I’ve seen them out in the wild, but there are no wild emus in this corner of the country. Prior to all the fencing, I have no doubts that they were here. They can run fast when needed, like the Road Runner. Beep! Beep!

    The gardens I see in the big smoke often lack insects as well. Let’s just say that the carnivorous plant in the greenhouse is doing OK on that front. The air hums with insect life here.

    Really? Like the Meg which took down the Titanic, would anyone actually know if a cactus had garden or wild origins? Would collectors really let the truth get in the way of a good story? There’s a part of me which wonders if collectors may also have a touch of the purist about them? What do you reckon?

    Speaking of cactus, we moved an old cactus in a pot today. We’re fixing up an existing rock wall in the courtyard (which was an early attempt at rocks walls and thus rubbish) and using the soil on the new low gradient path. Anywhoo, we exposed a very large boulder – the thing is huge, and so incorporated it into the new rock wall. Not easy to hide such a monster, so why not use it as a feature? Oh, and the cactus in a pot was relocated and now sits in front of the monster boulder. The cactus has a long story.

    A lot of urban areas are moving into otherwise quite wild places. There are health risks associated with this movement of people.

    The car parking issue adds an element of mystery to your return drive home again. Surely, something has changed recently?

    Fluck systems would probably be easy to get around. As a wild suggestion, all you’d have to do is steal someone else’s number plates, then put them on, or just make new clean ones, or own a clean car in someone else’s name and duplicate the plates from that. And anyway, I’m guessing if the theft was just the rear number plate, the person might not even know for a few days. It’ll get the stupid, or careless ones, and this itself may be a honing technique. I’m not much of a fan of such things, but you know, power and control and stuff has an allure. Anyway, ED-209 from Robocop… 🙂

    Dude, I’ve gotta level with you here. I’m no fan of renting, mostly due to the annoyance factor. When we built this house, we rented in a nearby town in a housing estate. Towards the end of the lease, the landlord sent us a letter saying they wanted to sell, and so we’d expect to have people traipsing through the house every weekend, and oh, and could we keep the place super clean for those inspections? Like, what part of quiet enjoyment is that? And that’s a legal concept too. Far out! I’ll tell you another funny story too, which I love recounting. The former tenants parked their car on the front garden, and the toxic wastes killed everything. Me, being me, got the soil going again and just brought it all back from the dead. So one day they send me a letter telling me to cut the grass or else they will at my cost, and the grass was only like two inches tall. Apparently industrial wastelands are the preferable option. For us, moving into an unfinished house open to the late winter / early spring air, was preferable. Completely nuts. Can’t speak for your part of the world, but down here the system is stacked against you, and the vacancy rate is so low that there is a significant power imbalance.

    Proving that things could always be worse, they take 11% of your earnings down here. And nobody is legally required to match that unless a person has an agreement with their employer to do so. Don’t you think it odd how aligned many of our policies are, even though we’re in different countries? Oh, and that number is going up. Another six months it will be 11.5%. Then eighteen months it will be 12%. The cynic in me suggests that this is a way to remove mad cash from circulation where it may do things like cause inflation. However, I believe it may be causing asset price inflation. There is a difference I believe between asset price inflation, and actually using mad cash to create new enterprises, stuff and things. Oh, and your fears have been realised down here, they’ve got it already.

    Well, you can only hope so that you see the mad cash again.



  25. Hi, Chris!

    Uh -oh. I knew there was trouble with the tiramisu. I do love cheese. Wasn’t it Wallace and Gromit that loved cheese so? Your cheese looks rather set in the photo, but I guess that was not so. Labels! I go nuts over labels. I can’t understand some of the labels. I do not buy those. Anyway, a most enjoyable story.

    Epic sunsets, indeed. And though the weather’s a mess, your place is wonderfully green. Have you ever tasted Babaco? Our visitor brought us 30 pounds (13 1/2kg) of persimmons.

    I must go back to chasing my tail now. My mother fell several days ago. We went to the ER, but thankfully they did not find any broken bones. Still, she’s in a lot of pain. It takes a good while to heal when you are 86.

    Thanks for the flowers!


  26. Yo, Chris – I knew there was something wrong with those people. Saw a couple of articles yesterday, that early risers have a chunk of Neanderthal DNA. Well, that explains a lot. 🙂 Not to dis Neanderthals. I suppose, the early Neanderthal catches the Mastodon.

    I noticed Miss Abby mentioned the Tin Can Incident, early on. The necklace, will maybe never be brought up. There’s an agreement between the US and UK, not to remove artifacts, from the wreck. Yes, Miss Abby is quit personable. On reflection, she’s genetically gifted enough to have the whole Swift vibe going on. Not that I’ve figured out what the big deal is about Swift, and can’t say I’ve heard any of her music. Memorable lyrics? Does it have a good beat? Can you dance to it? Was she an ex Mouseketeer, or something? Apparently has a thing for football (our version) players.

    That was quit an article about the surfer. But, I suppose surfers play a lot of “what if,” scenarios in their heads. Or, the smart ones do.

    One of the side bars caught my eye. “Teen Tasered.” There was an unusual occurrence, at the Club the other night. Apparently, two teens from rival gangs showed up, for a meeting. There were “problems”. Police were called and one ended up tasered, and on the ground doing the funky chicken. I wasn’t there. Darn! I miss all the good stuff.

    There might have been a mill pond, behind the waterwheel. But, yes, disquieting. The climate, she are a changing. But then, once upon a time, the Sahara was a vast marshland, crisscrossed by many rivers.

    Oh, I think collectors are always looking for an edge, to make their collections “the best.” Culture and status? Cactus from the wild can look quit a bit different from greenhouse / from seed cactus. I don’t think our Christmas cactus bear much resemblance to the same species, in the wild. It’s mentioned that the Christmas cactus we most see, is heavily hybridized. And once hybridized, can be cloned.

    Well, when I got home last night, there were two spaces available. I heard that one woman has “lent” her car to her daughter. And I wonder if our night manager, is parking on the street. Did he jump, or was he pushed? 🙂

    My buddy Scott is always telling me, as far as renting, to consider the positives. Which seem to be ever diminishing. He and his wife are both sick, by the way. Tis the season. I’ve seen a couple of articles that people over sixty should get the RSV vaccine. But they never mention that it cost $2-300, and isn’t covered by insurance. Unless you have the part D Medicare. Which has such a high deductible, that it’s more than what out of pocket costs, would be.

    Yeah, I’m bound and determined to live long enough to get all my Social Security money, back. 🙂 Think of all the people that die before, or shortly after they start collecting.

    Well. That was a surprise. Our local food box wasn’t supposed to show up, until next Friday. It showed up, this morning. Due to some scheduling snafu. It’s generally a bit more interesting than the commodities box. So …

    What I’m taking down to the swap table. A loaf of French bread, a one pound bag of dried lentils (we have plenty, at the Club), an individual slice of cake and a frozen green bean Almondine (?). Looks like you put all the parts together and cook it up.

    What I’m keeping. One box (of three) of Mac & Cheese, a one pound bag of shelled walnuts and a dozen eggs.

    Everything else is going to the Club. A 2 1/2 pound, frozen, boneless smoked ham; a one pound box of butter product, a bag of quick oats (shrinkflation … 14.10 ounces, instead of a pound), 2 lbs bag of rice, a one pound package of spaghetti pasta, a plastic pouch of spaghetti sauce, one box of chicken stuffing, a jar of peanut butter.

    Onto the tinned stuff: 2 cans of tuna, 2 cans of diced tomatoes. One tin each of Mango slices (!), whole kernel corn, black beans, peas, spaghetti & meatballs, mandarin oranges, green beans, and chicken noodle soup.

    When I was at the Club, last night, someone had brought in a lot of tinned stuff. It’s looking good. So, I’ll probably just hold all the stuff, til next week, when things get thin, again.

    If you look at Prof. Mass’s post for 12/12, there’s a picture of a flooded town. I’m pretty sure it’s Chehalis, during one of our floods from the 1990s. That open area in the upper left, is our airport.

    I started watching Ken Burns new documentary, “American Buffalo.” Up to his usual high standard. There was one bit that struck me. Before the Spanish showed up with their horses (and the Native people acquired them), they pretty much lived around our Great Plains, and depended a lot on farming, in settled communities. Once they got horses, at least 3 dozen tribes abandoned farming, and took to the nomadic mode of life. Not that that’s so unusual. Some recent archaeology has indicated that some people bounced back and forth between hunting and gathering, and farming. In the Middle East and Europe. Needs must, I guess. 🙂 Lew

  27. Chris,

    I used that same “act dumb” method on one high level manager several times when he began to treat me poorly through no fault of mine. If I was wrong, I quickly admitted it and moved on. If I was right and had the evidence to back me up, I used the “dumb” technique. He never learned. It worked every time. Following Sun Tzu, I always gave him opportunities to retreat gracefully, but he was, um, stubborn. It is a great technique.

    However, upon further review, I conclude that you are right. It probably won’t work on zombies. They have some weird zombie sense for brains, no matter how stupid the brain is or appears to be.

    Ah, yes, the standard workplace has 20% of the workers doing 80% of the work. The 20% get “rewarded” with more work. No promotions. No pay raises, not even a pat on the back, just more work. You were very wise to start out on your own and only work for the smaller and mid-sized groups.

    We’re seeing a LOT of underemployment, also. Not all of it is by design, but out of necessity to earn money. It’s truly a madhouse right now. I’m very glad that we paid off the house long ago and have no debt. The corporate and government debt loads are very high. The average personal debt load is even scarier.

    The suppliers know that if the economy (speaking worldwide economy) slows down, then oil prices will have to drop. They also know that if the economy is very good, raising the oil prices too much will cause the economy to slow. Yet, the suppliers apparently know that they can’t simply increase production just because of demand any longer. Yet, several of the international oil companies have been buying up shale producers and shale fields recently. It’s rather confusing.

    Spokane, where the shortest nights are slightly less than 8 hours, ditto the shortest days, is extreme enough. Fairbanks in the summer was difficult. Winter was worse, actually. I was lucky. Part of my TA duties in graduate school there required me to visit multiple buildings about 11:00 a.m. The university was at the highest point in Fairbanks, so on clear winter days I actually got several minutes of sunlight. Most people got very affected by the darkness once there was less than 6 hours of “sunlight” daily. Depression or violent outbursts were the normal afflictions. The first and last hours of “sunlight”, the sun was very low on the horizon. By the winter solstice, there was maybe 4 hours of “sunlight” total, so perhaps 2 hours where the sun was possibly visible and above the horizon. It was NOT enjoyable.

    I’ve never understood that proscription either. Some eejit in Norway didn’t understand reality, apparently. I’ve never come up with a good reason for that decision.

    I had to look it up. Comet West in 1976 was the brightest one I’ve seen. We viewed it one morning from 5:00 a.m. until well after 9:00 a.m. It was bright enough to see even hours after sunrise.
    I seem to remember another comet in the mid 1970s that was also very bright in June into late morning, but I may be mistaking it for Comet West.

    Yes, the older I get, the more important stretching gets. Having mobility is necessary and the stretching helps me feel better too.

    People don’t get that leadership thing with dogs. Well, many people don’t. They just expect the dog to do what the human wants with no adequate bonding and training or positive reinforcement. I’ve never understood the people who simply yell at their dogs when the dogs are doing what dogs do without training and adequate time with their humans.

    So much for sunny days. The fog is returning. Then rain. No, I’m not complaining. I’m enjoying not shoveling snow.


  28. Hi Pam,

    Yup, there’s been big trouble in tiramisu land. Hard to imagine, but it’s true. I’ll try the higher quality double cream 44% fat option, tomorrow and let’s hope that those dessert troubles simply fade away.

    Oh my! Thanks for the laughs, yes those two cheeky scamp claymation characters are rather fond of cheese. How good were those films? Around the turn of the century, twenty something and a bit years ago, the local cinema used to close off the street once per year and put those film adventures on for all the locals. It was a great fun event.

    I don’t get the labels either. Substituting the names of complex chemical compounds, or numbers instead of simply adding the words: ‘may contain traces of dog poop’. Honestly, it baffles me as well! 🙂

    Thanks. 10 inches of rain has that affect on the grass. At this stage of the summer, the grass is usually drying off. It’s hard to know what the rest of the summer will be like. How’s your winter going?

    It was a long time ago, maybe in the late 1990’s when we tasted Babaco fruit at a place called ‘Tropical fruit world’. It tasted like lemon sorbet, but I dunno how the things will go this far south. They are getting more yellow by the day though. I’m sure you understand the desire with a garden to push the climate boundaries, a bit? Persimmons are quite tasty, depending upon the variety, they grow well here, and probably would do so where you are. The deer are a nuisance here too though…

    That’s been my observation too. Hopefully, you are likewise getting some support whilst you support your mother. Candidly, falls are not good sorry to say.

    There’ll be more flowers on Monday, and also, bizarrely, a cactus.



  29. Hi DJ,

    Truth to tell, I wasn’t a natural when it comes to playing those sort of social hierarchical games, and probably like you had to learn the hard way. You muddle through as best you may, when faced with circumstances, and lean on experience. But such things wore me down, and I didn’t really much like the person I had to become in order to progress in such an environment.

    So, I was reading the book ‘Sand Talk’ recently, which was written by an indigenous thinker. He’s a smart bloke, and wrote about how a community deals with the inevitable ‘idiot element’. A very hierarchical workplace is not a community, because there really is no way to temper the worst excesses of the ‘idiot element’. I don’t see that happening. But as you note, maladaptive behaviours can be hung onto (i.e. stubborn) and if you’re lower in the pecking, mate you’re f@#$%d. I’m impressed at your resilience.

    Zombies do seem rather indiscriminate with their tastes for brains. Poor brain choices may be bad for their ongoing health? It’d be like the undead version of too much heavily processed food, yeah.

    Look, I don’t know because I’ve always worked hard. The social games from what I observed were sometimes used as a way to get out of work, create dissension, or hide a lack of natural affinity for the work in question. There may be other reasons, but whatever the case, they annoyed me enough so I went and did something different with my life.

    It’s funny you mention that, but nowadays such things are being discussed in the media in the guise that the best way to get a pay rise, is to leave for another job. It’s a complicated story that, and there are a lot of pressures on supply and demand for all sorts of things. Our leaders are probably doing the best they can in trying times, but I’d also have to suggest that their best is not good enough.

    The debt story makes no sense to me, but I have a hunch that is the desired outcome.

    All true, and oil extraction and refining is probably difficult to alter rapidly and so the rapid swings in prices can cause a lot of mayhem. I agree, it is confusing, but I also get the impression that shale is an expensive dog of an investment. Huskies are far nicer.

    You’re at 47.6 degrees latitude north. Eight hours is short. You got me wondering how short the nights are here right now. Sunset at 8:39pm (about ten minutes ago) and sunrise at 5:53am, so that’s about nine and a quarter hours. Fairbanks at 64.8 degrees north is completely nuts on that front. Hehe! Oh my goodness. Just checked out the sunset and sunrise times for there today. Sandra is watching some Scandi Noir series and incidents like you mention were part of the story. Hmm.

    Travelling around the island state of Tasmania many long years ago, with the most southerly point at around 44 degrees south, I recall that there was a really long twilight interval late in the afternoon. It was a very different winter experience to here, and left an impression. I assume you get used to it? Incidentally, due to the elevation here, we get a similar climate to that far south. It’s a bit of climate cheating really.

    In reading about the Vikings in Greenland, I got the impression that there was still some communication between the island and the mainland, but it was covert rather than overt due to that weird proscription which like you say, made no sense. It would have eventually cost a lot of people their lives.

    Turns out that there are plenty of people tracking comets, and the cloudy skies earlier in the year obscured the rare ‘green comet’ which was last seen 50,000 years ago. Should probably get a telescope, they can be quite cheap second hand. A lot of projects still to do, err, busy… 🙂

    There was another comet apparently a few years before the one you mentioned, which was apparently a bit of a fizzer of an event. The photos of the comet from that year looked great.

    Speaking of busy, broke up another boulder today. A lot of the projects we’re doing right now, require rocks, and they are in short supply. Boulders however are there for the taking, although eventually even they’ll run short. Peak Rocks is real.

    Stretching is so important, yeah. I’ve attempted to communicate the benefits of this routine maintenance, and what I observe is that mostly people just want a pill or some surgery instead. That’s an option, but not the path I’d readily choose. You know.

    Hehe! Yelling at dogs only confirms the very worst opinions of the canine! 🙂 Being yelled at has a similar effect on me as well, I’m sure you’ve been there too.

    Enjoy the rain and fog, and toastier winter moments. Is Big Bertha feeling any sort of neglect?



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Ugg! Hey, I was actually up at 6am again this morning. It’s not my natural hunting ground that time of the morning. A couple of hours later feels much better, but it’s summer and I have to work around the burning rays of the sun. Even on summer days when the air temperature is cooler, the sun still packs a punch. Tourists can get quite the surprise at the strength of the down under summer sun. Ugg! Hey, where did that come from? 🙂 I would have been a Neanderthal who slept in late. It’s adaptive, man.

    Ooo, tin can trigger alert! Sorry, dunno where that came from either. I’d imagine that it would be hard to protect artefacts being removed from the wreckage via people not aligned with the agreement?

    I dunno anything about the subject. Nothing. I can honestly say that I’ve never gone out of my way to listen to Taylor Swifts music. The national youth broadcaster plays 60% Australian content, which is amazing given how small the market is down here (and so it needs the support), and at a wild guess given the cost of the tickets, I’d have to suggest that Ms Swift doesn’t require any assistance from that radio station. So I don’t hear the artists music, and feel no loss.

    The shark attack response may have been a long planned action. I’d never have considered that aspect of the story. Hmm. Having a plan B is an adaptive strategy.

    Unfortunately whenever tasering gets mentioned, my mind recalls the scene from ‘The Hangover film’, and the line, sometimes the big guys require a second shot. All ego, and it would be preferable if they left their animosities at the door. An elderly lady was allegedly tasered a few months ago, and things went badly for all involved. Apparently she was wielding a knife and maybe wasn’t all there.

    The Editor tells me that the water wheel was used to power a hydraulic sluice. If what I saw on the other side of the road was anything to go by, the words: Big Mess, seem rather appropriate. Those things works like a water cannon and the rocks get blasted with the silt being sifted for gold. But I couldn’t see any reservoirs in the area, and it sure looked like dry forest to me.

    Yup, the climate is changing. It’s interesting down here that what is driving the recent easterly winds and rain (with the rain deriving from the Coral and Tasman Seas) is that the high pressure systems this year are much further south of the continent. The anticlockwise winds from the high pressure systems way to the south of the continent, are driving moisture from the east. Basically, I get the impression that the Southern Ocean is warmer. There is a tropical cyclone over the northern part of the continent – which came from the east. But annual rainfall is in the expected range of things, it’s wet here, and can be so at any time of the year.

    Had to look up what exactly was a Christmas Cactus, and it’s an interesting family (or two) of plants. We’ve got one growing here. Super hardy. Apparently some of them are epiphytes in the wild and those plants range is way more humid than desert. How’s cactus the book going?

    You’ll never know the answer to that question! I may have recounted this story before, but I heard a comedian recounting a story of someone falling over a railing where a mobsta (!) remarked to them that they didn’t know whether the person was: “Stabbed, or stabbed off”. Best if you’re elsewhere when such things are going on, don’t you reckon?

    Well, Scott may be right, but I’m not seeing the positives in that move. Long ago, it did use to be a power-move, but no longer with the historically low vacancy rates, and continuing pressure on housing supply. So, yeah I agree, and the word diminished may be more accurate? Dude, I don’t even know what RSV is. Ah, I see you’re considering risk. Makes sense.

    Good shot, and I salute your goals. That’s true, however, it would be a bit of a bummer for the people, but maybe they’re doing everyone else a public service? Down here, usually the funds are there until extinguished, and they pass onto a partner or the estate upon death.

    Out of curiosity, are the food boxes heavy? Received the holiday silly season bread supplies in the mail today, and the weight of the box of flour started me wondering about your boxes. How do the less able inmates cope with the weight of the things?

    It is possible that the folks didn’t want to deliver next week due to the holidays? Hey, there didn’t seem to be any festivity themed items mentioned.

    Shrinkflation is real. The stuff going to the Club will get snapped up. It’s not just you, I’m a bit dubious on the mango as well. That’s considerate to hold off and take the stuff in next week. This week will be the week for giving, next week, things will be different again.

    You wouldn’t to be anywhere near the flood, that day. Far out, there was a lot of the area underwater. Yikes! Are you on higher ground?

    Fascinating, and plant and animal arrivals like horses, can shake things up. When the dingoes arrived from Indonesia, I suspect they displaced the marsupial devils and tigers on the mainland, if only because the dingo never made it to Tasmania and the marsupials remained. The tigers were so named for the stripes on their backs, but the historic footage looks like wild dogs to me. People still head out into the wilds of Tasmania to see whether any still exist, but the bounty placed on the skins was effective.

    Broke up another boulder today. Then hauled the large chunks back up the hill. At this stage there is no shortage of boulders, but they’re a lot of work. Oh well.



  31. Yo, Chris – Re: Swift. Maybe we need to get out, more? Naaaaw. 🙂

    The water cannons used in gold mining, can deliver 185,000 cubic feet of water, per hour @ 150 feet per second. Wouldn’t want to stand in front of one. There’s a story that during the 1896 Yukon gold rush, the mayor of Seattle … appropriated a few of those cannons, and they were used to re-sculpture Seattle. Talk about terra forming!

    In the past, I tried my hand at raising some of the different colors of Christmas cactus. Being hybrids, they didn’t do well, after an initial flowering. Or perhaps I just didn’t know what I was doing 🙂 . Well, the guy that wrote the cactus book, better get a move on. He just spent a few pages banging on about Lacanian psychoanalysis, anal-retentive individuals and collecting, the five broad reasons people collect anything, another list of seventeen possible motivations to collect. He also examines such earth shaking questions as to if cactus collecting is gendered. Does age play a role? How about race? So far, the book is kind of a big snooze, and I wish he’d get out of the Ivory Tower, and get out in the hurly burly. Did I mention I’m skimming, in the hope I get to the good parts?

    Well, that’s what witness protection programs, are for. 🙂

    The food boxes are supposed to weight no more than 20 pounds. But I wonder, sometimes. We’ve finally got it set up where the food boxes are delivered to the door. Or, if requested, into the kitchen of the apartment. Some people have caregivers. I’ve noticed some Inmates take things out of the box, while it’s in the hall, and when it gets to a more manageable weight, then pull it in.

    Well, the 2 1/2 pound ham is kind of festive. I see the cans of mango slices, at the cheap food stores. I’ve never “trialed” them, at the Club. But I figure I’ll take a tin down, and see if it languishes, or disappears in short order. For awhile, we got a run of tinned corn, okra, and tomatoes. I tried a can, and found it quit tasty. So, I took some to the Club, and it steadily vanishes. But then, I’ve done a bit of selling. “I tried this, and it’s really tasty!” We don’t see it in the boxes, anymore, but I pick it up at the Dollar + store.

    It’s really funny, what moves out of the pantry, and what doesn’t. And there are quirks. Black beans move in a slow but steady manner. But I’ve noticed one brand just sits. I really think it’s because it has such an ugly label. But, I use it, and the contents are just fine.

    I finished Ken Burn’s “American Buffalo,” documentary. Quit good. All this talk of comets. The plains Indians tribes, had a kind of almanac. Each year, on a Buffalo hide, they recorded a petroglyph of whatever major event had happened. In 1833 there wasn’t just a meteor shower. There was a meteor storm. All the tribes recorded it, on their almanacs. And so to, it was reported in all the newspapers, of the day. Enough light to wake people up. It was the Leonid shower.

    The Buffalo, once counted in their millions, had fallen to such a low population that they were going the way of the Passenger Pigeon. The point was made, that anytime money can be made, off something in nature, extinction is on the horizon. Might also apply to cactus. 🙂

    There was also a bit about how a white buffalo, was born in 1933. Those are very rare, and considered “Big Medicine” among the indigenous people. I found it quit remarkable, that though the gene pool had fallen to a mere puddle, that quirk had survived. Now-a-days, there’s an occasional one born, and it usually makes the national news. A really great documentary.

    Boulders? You want boulders?

    Be careful what you wish for. 🙂 Lew

  32. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, maybe we do. 🙂 Anyway, given the cost of tickets and lack of availability to shows, we can simply blame the prevailing circumstances. The strategy may help pacify the really intense fans should we inadvertently offend them by not knowing the any of the music. They seem to have sheer numbers on their side. My music tastes are rather eclectic and don’t include that artist.

    I didn’t know that about the water cannons. Yikes! Yeah, standing in front of one of them would be a bad idea, and probably a final idea. If the damage to the land across the road from the water wheel was anything to go by, that mayor may have been onto something. Terra forming indeed.

    I’m not one to criticise failed plant efforts as I have a quite a few of them myself. Dude, plants are a mystery, and you have to sort of know each of their stories – and there are similarities to the narratives, but far out, they’re different too.

    Why would a cactus enthusiast need to know about Lacanian psychoanalysis? I’ve never even heard of it before. What the heck is it? Oh, when explanations involve several layers of terminology, each with its own meaning not necessarily relating to the usual use of the word, my mind then starts floating away. What’s for dinner? Why is Dame Plum snoring? So many things distract me. Maybe the author was bored and needed to pad the text out a little bit? I’m sure you’ve encountered non fiction books that are several hundred pages long, but the core ideas could have been distilled down to maybe two, maybe three pages? The succulent garden is the domain of the Editor. How does that fit with the gender theory? 🙂 I’m not inspired to put this book to the ultimate test.

    I’ll keep that protection program in mind!

    All very clever adaptions with the food boxes. The chicken feed bags are 44 pounds each. The other week, the Editor went to the stock feed shop to pick up supplies for the chickens. Everything was going well until the lady behind the counter, who was much older than the Editor, asked if any assistance was needed to take the bags out to the car. Yeah, why not? Now the Editor in her defence, thought that some young bloke from the warehouse was going to help haul and load the bags. That didn’t happen. The older lady took charge, and events got their own awful momentum. The Editor who was perfectly capable of sorting out the situation, had to stand back gracefully and just let it happen. Yup, when good moments end badly. There were significant stares too directed at the Editor.

    You started me wondering how ham became associated with mid winter festivities. I reckon that there is a bit of hagiography going on with the explanations, in that they’re making it up as they go along. The most practical explanation had something to do with the meat being easily preserved and thus being an easy meat historically for such moments. Deities were mentioned. Pagans talked about. Peasants ignored.

    I’ve never seen sliced mango in a can. They grow mangoes up north in the tropics of the country, so there’s usually plenty around when in season. I don’t really enjoy the texture of that fruit. It’s a good idea to get food ‘ideas’ out there, mostly because peoples cooking skills have atrophied, don’t you reckon? The Editor has an interest in clothes and textiles, and she once said that because people generally don’t sew, or don’t know how to, they put up with quite ordinary clothes of poor materials, shoddy workmanship, and bad fit – and they don’t know any better. Food I reckon has become a bit like that.

    Ugly labelling can be a problem for sure. Looking past the surface layer is never easy. What made you eventually decide to try the beans?

    The Leonid meteor showers are fascinating, and I’d not heard of the 1833 event, which was only seen from your part of the world. It would have been spectacular given the estimate of the number of meteors per hour, and I can well comprehend why it left a strong impression.

    You’re probably right, it’s a sad state of affairs, but will ultimately sort itself out – although we might not like the results.

    Had a sort of quiet day today pottering around. The weather was superb, cool air and blue sunny skies. No breeze to speak of. Fixed a few things which needed fixing, like the whirly gig on the worm farm sewage system pipe. The bearings were in need of cleaning, and the thing is way up high in the air and had to be removed. A person has to be careful on ladders at such heights, especially when the ground is uneven. Also replaced the chickens laying box this afternoon with one I made out of scrap timber today. I’ve tried several different iterations of nests for the chickens, and they’re very fussy and have their own opinions in the matter. We’ll see how they like this one. Hmm. They’d taken up nesting in the open bag of sugar cane mulch which I use for their clean bedding. Made it hard to extract the mulch, especially when they got grumpy and began pecking my hand…

    Haha! Galaxy Quest. A very amusing film. Thanks for the laughs.

    Thanks for the advice as to wishes, and I treat the boulders respectfully. 🙂

    Cheers and better get writing!


  33. Yo, Chris – Yeah, if we said “Taylor, who?” there would probably be a riot. 🙂

    If I remember the story right, one whole hill in Seattle was washed into Puget Sound. And, the “grade” was improved on other hills. The fill that went into the Sound, provided more flat land to build on. Also raised some parts of the city, so the toilets didn’t back up, every time the tide was high. So, it was pretty much of a win win situation. Except… well, at that time, they didn’t know that fill turns to liquid, during an earthquake.

    I think Mr. Greer did some banging on about Lacanian this or that. I think that was one of his lectures I skipped. Eye’s glazing over, and all. Funny, they never talk about ears glazing over. I see the author of the cactus book is an “assistant professor of geography.”

    The Editor is an outlier, when it comes to succulents. It’s more a dude thing. Then again, it might only apply to rabid collectors.

    Seems like pig slaughter was a fall and winter thing, as the cool weather helped preservation, until you could get around to smoking or salting it. Making sausage. Or, send out the invitations for a big feast, and wait for the RSVPs to come in. 🙂 Also, I suppose there would be fewer insects in winter, to spoil the meat.

    I’ve never tried a Mango. Can’t say it’s something that’s on my bucket list. I think I tried the dodgy looking beans, as, I wanted black beans and it was the only can in my pantry. Maybe, I was making a bean salad. I had some last night. Tossed a can in with a can of diced tomatoes, some rice, and a few other things. I must say, it looks pretty nasty coming out of the can, but I always run canned beans under running water in a colander. Makes them look quit presentable. The texture and taste, are fine.

    Weather here this morning is thick fog. And, there’s an air stagnation alert. But, it’s supposed to be sunny, this afternoon. The temperature is just above freezing. H got a bath, last night. We’re headed to the Club for the usual Sunday morning old duffers chin wag. I caught her gnawing on her tail, again, this morning. When I tell her “no” she stops. Maybe she needs a doggie psychiatrist? Lew

  34. Hello Chris,

    Here a short shoutout on Sunday.

    Thanks for the great multipart adventure of the (still un-seen) Tiramisu. I like the name zabaione for the egg+mascarpone mix. It sounds so sexy.

    Much thanks for your feedback that the comment system is broken, I will look into that coming week.

    I spent the week-end reading Sand Talk, that was between-the-lines recommended here. Great read. What a storyteller. I never read something in that style before, and he pulled no punches on what is waiting around the corner. If we want to have a society to survive for a millenium or two, the concepts of distributed leadership etc. are brilliant.
    I think there is too much hierarchy-thinking in Europe these days. People seem to think that history started with Thomas Hobbes and his Leviathan.
    I will reach out to the author to get sources to read more about the brain damage of schooling, it is something I suspected for a long time, but never could place a finger on.

    What were the main takeaways for you?


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