Standing in the way of control

This year has had such a weird vibe to it. Sure, there are always inexplicable goings-on in our society, but some years are weirder than others. Just for one example: The state where we reside has a ban on the fracking of rock deposits to release their natural gas for extraction, and fair enough. However, the off shore wells in Bass Strait appear to be in terminal decline, there’s talk about simply demolishing the rigs where they stand, and soon enough the demand for the natural gas stuff will exceed the supply, if it hasn’t already. Then what are we going to do, doesn’t seem to be a question being asked with any level of seriousness. That seems weird to me.

Faced with such predicaments, the famous philosopher, Alfred E. Neuman, would probably quip: “What, Me Worry?” It’s sound advice, and certainly I do my best not to care for concerns which few others seem all that worried about. Of course, I’d miss the cheap natural gas. We use the stuff for heating water on warm cloudy days. When the sun is shining, the water is heated by the sun’s warmth. When the wood heater is running, water is heated by the combustion of firewood. It’s just those warm but cloudy days when you don’t want to run the wood heater, they’re a problem. That’s when the natural gas comes into it’s own. I guess we can adapt and learn to live without it.

I’m an approachable kind of guy, and so people tell me all sorts of things. Recently, someone I know was waxing lyrical about how cheap oil products were relative to average incomes. The general thesis in this instance, was that there’s nothing to worry about with future energy availability. The core of the argument revolved around the affordability relationship between energy costs and income, which apparently hadn’t changed all that much over the past couple of decades. Sure.

When I was a younger bloke, and first began writing on the interweb, it was really lovely to have dialogue with the many readers in distant parts of the planet. But then it was a horrid shock to also encounter folks who were trolling my writing. In those early days, I became rather upset and duked it out with them, all of them. Except that is when you notice that the dialogue always disappeared. The lovely people probably ran for the hills at sight of such a robust fight! And there were always more trolls looking for an argument than I ever had the energy to deal with.

My energy is limited. Oil is limited too, it’s a finite resource. The theory of Peak Oil is not a new theory, and plenty of people wish it to be disproven. I use oil products too and would like it to be wrong, I just don’t think it is. Finite resources eventually run out, or simply become more uneconomic to recover, and that’s just life. Its also the very definition of the word finite. I joke about Peak Rocks, but in many ways it’s not actually a joke. Look at the efforts we have to expend nowadays simply to recover the large rocks used in projects. It wasn’t always that way. If you doubt me, try splitting a granite boulder, then hauling the large rocks back up the hill – that’s hard work.

So anyway, I don’t have the energy to argue endlessly with people talking rubbish. If a person seriously wishes to conduct a dialogue where ideas are exchanged, weighted and debated, then I’m all for that. Unfortunately, the conversation I previously mentioned wasn’t like that. It really is difficult to know another person’s motivations, but I’ve witnessed groups being de-railed by endless arguing, so I chucked in what is known as A-bomb argument ender: How’s it working out for you buying a house? After all, my mother was single in the 1970’s with three kids, and yet managed on one income to buy a house, a car and enjoy a free University education. I don’t ever recall worrying where the next meal was coming from. My argument ender point being that if energy was so cheap now, how come such options are out of the realms of possibility? That question was met with radio silence, which was the entire point.

Endless arguments bore me. About a decade ago I was a member of a local group which bickered endlessly. The final prolonged argument was about aprons of all things. Then the group fell apart. That was so weird. So now I brush such matters to the side, or put a stomp on them when more people are involved. Good manners never go out of style.

However, there really must be something in the water this year. Recently, yet another friend was talking to me about self driving electric cars and large scale battery storage systems. I’ve heard the discussion points before, and they’re basically a different spin on the meme that ‘technology will save humanity’. I’ve got some doubts there. I’m sure everyone has seen films where high tech killer robots are battling it out with humanity, and in a fictional world, that’s equally possible!

What to do when faced with such beliefs? Well, you know, we’ve lived with off grid solar power using large batteries for fourteen years now. My lived experience suggests that the technology is good, but far out, the mains electricity grid is way cheaper, more reliable and delivers more energy. People don’t generally want to hear that. My friend certainly didn’t, so I asked him instead why he hasn’t got an electric car or battery storage for the house? Boom! Proving there is an approved answer for everything, apparently those things will get cheaper. Yeah, sure. I’ve heard that story before too. It’s worth noting that inflation is a real bummer for that belief.

What, me worry? Is actually my thoughts in the matter. I’m not here to argue with the people I know, or even make bold claims about the future on the interweb. The stories are what I see going on in the world around me, through my own biases. And the work we do around here is just what we do, given what we know and being the people we are. Energy is finite, and arguing might make a person feel good about other issues in their life, but it really is a waste of my finite energy.

It’s been another warm and dry week. Long term readers will recall that the last rainfall of any note fell in late January. It’s been a dry two months since then. Still, seasons change and some mornings cool moist air pools in the valley below the mountain range.

The sun is barely up, and I need coffee…

Speaking of Peak Rocks, we discovered a shelf of granite boulders which are a bit easier to split into the moveable large rocks. We mined that rock shelf! Most, but not all, of the rocks were brought back up the hill.

The low gradient path project is hungry for rocks

Another section of the low gradient path project is nearing completion. We’ve even spread a good quantity of the crushed rock with lime over the path surface. It’s looking good.

Another section of the low gradient path project nears completion

Long term readers will recall that this project commenced at about this same time last year. The path will continue around the uphill side of the shed behind me (in the above image), and then the job will be done. We began the process of making that path on the uphill side of the shed, by placing rocks there.

A new (and final) section of the rock wall was begun

Much of the soil for the low gradient path came from excavations for a new and larger firewood shed. Those excavations continued this week, but the soil was used to make a much flatter site for the future firewood shed.

Soil, soil, toil and trouble!

The site is now flat and ready for construction.

Done! Excavations for the larger firewood shed are complete

The weather forecast for April Fools Day is suggesting that the dry spell will soon end. Rather abruptly in this case, with a storm originating in the tropical north of the continent. With the forecast in mind, earlier in the week I decided to clean out the steel guttering which collects rainfall from the roof and directs it into the water tanks. Usually I use a mains electric powered blower to blow all of the detritus out of the guttering. This time, that didn’t work. The tall forest trees flowered a lot earlier this year. At times it felt as though it was raining pollen. The gutters were clogged up with the stuff. A hour one job turned into a day long extravaganza where I used the hose to loosen up the gunk, then either washed it away, or I had to remove the stuff by hand. All up a ladder or standing on the steel roof sheets of course.

Looks like a dead rat, but is actually accumulated Eucalyptus leaves and pollen

All of the water remaining in the pipe system was also cleared out into a garden bed.

The combination of dry weather and autumn has produced a lot of leaf litter. A leaf rake is used to collect the organic matter which gets used as feed for the soil in garden beds.

All the fallen leaves are good soil food
We’ll grow lavender in this now well fed garden bed

We continued dehydrating the tomato crop. They’re delightful additions to meals in the depths of winter.

We grow a colourful range of tomatoes

With autumn progressing, I’m having to get up in the dark most mornings. Early one morning, the full moon was hanging just above the trees. It looked pretty cool.

The full moon hangs above the trees early one morning

The mandarin’s on the tree are continuing to get larger. In earlier years the fruit was smaller, and I’m unsure whether this is due to the different weather this year, or that the tree is now older.

Mandarin’s with Kiwi Fruit in the back ground

Sandra has finally come around to enjoying Silverbeet. It’s a great plant and easy to grow and cook with. And colourful.

Silverbeet enjoying the warm and dry conditions

Onto the flowers:

Succulents barely notice hot and dry weather
This Penstemon has not been watered other than rainfall
This cheeky Geranium is poking through a Wormwood

The temperature outside now at about 10am is 22’C (72’F). So far for last year there has been 218.0mm (8.6 inches) which is the same as last weeks total of 218.0mm (8.6 inches)

40 thoughts on “Standing in the way of control”

  1. Yo, Chris – I was just reading something, somewhere, about time. That a lot of people, governments and corporations, think as time as yesterday, today, tomorrow. Or, past, present future. That can be measured in days, weeks, months … quarters. And maybe the narrower the amount of time, involved, the less of a good thing it is. Ignore the past and take a very limited view of the future. Doesn’t bode well.

    Well, energy. And a lot of other things. Sure, they may be around, but can many people afford them? Speaking of which, I saw an article on the cost of cocoa. Chocolate. It’s really bumped up, due to weather and crop failures. Candy companies are running scared.

    I can’t afford the time or aggravation for the kinds of arguments you outline. Mostly, I can ignore them. Our night manager is a young (from my point of view) man, with decided opinions on a lot of topics. He’s VERY sure of himself. But, generally I like him. So, I just let him rattle on whatever nonsense is on offer. Move onto another topic. He’ll find out, whatever, in his own good time. Or, not.

    Seems like you’ve been having a lot of those run-ins, lately. People tell themselves comforting stories.

    So. Your recently discovered granite shelf is kind of like your very own North Sea oil field. Puts off the inevitable for a period of time. 🙂

    I’d forgotten tomorrow is April Fool’s Day. I’ll have to keep my guard up.

    The drying tomatoes look just lovely. A familiar sight in my kitchen. Just not this time of year.

    That is a very cool picture of the full moon. Do you have names for moons, down there? The seasons being reversed, “Worm Moon, probably wouldn’t be appropriate.

    Your Mandarin oranges. Or, maybe it’s the soil? You certainly spend a lot of time and energy improving it.

    Time to walk the dog, and as the day is getting late, get out and do something in the garden. Do anything in the garden. There’s so much to pick from 🙂 . Lew

  2. Hi Mawkernewek,

    It’s a good April fools day joke.

    Don’t laugh, but you’ve been reading for a while, so you may recall that when we picked up Ollie from the shelter, a) they lied about his age and breed; but b) they also offered us veterinary psychiatrist services (which I presume we’d paid for in the hefty fee). It was at that moment, I knew the depths of the folks I was dealing with.

    Candidly, I was uncertain that the brain health funds were perhaps better spent elsewhere… Hmm.

    Now those nice folks seem to have more cats and dogs than they know what to do with. You could say that it’s raining cats and dogs…



  3. Hi Joanna,

    Thank you for the lovely words. 🙂

    The rain is absolutely bucketing down outside right now, which is good because it’s been mostly dry for two months now. No longer! In wet weather those paths work amazingly well. It’s amazing what can be achieved with a bit of effort and directed will.

    I hope that you are having a lovely Easter? It’s an important time of the year.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    It’s very exciting because ex-tropical cyclone Megan arrived earlier today. Not much wind, but a whole lot of rain – which is good. The dust and mostly dry weather of the past two months had been a bit difficult, and water reserves were dwindling. We’d used about half of the water storage capacity here, and it hadn’t helped that a water tank was in the process of being moved and so had been emptied (the big green one you can see in the photos of the new firewood shed site). The radar shows a big line of rain stretching down from the tropical north. Over an inch has already fallen, with more to come.

    Earlier in the day I was running around cleaning the water tank inlet filters, and was pleased with the gutter cleaning work done a few days ago. Without that job being done, it would have been a right mess.

    With all of the rain, and it being Easter Monday, I headed down to the biggest shed here and serviced all of the various machines. I get to that work about every two months, and it’s a preventative exercise really. A bit like going to the dentist for a check up and clean… They’re all doing fine and working.

    And early this evening, we put the first seasoning on the carbon steel fry-pan (what you call a skillet, maybe?) and I’ve never done that job before. I tell you what, the videos on utoob make the job look easier and quicker than it actually is. The initial cleaning to get the manufacturers wax off the metal surface took over 20 minutes. Hmm. Anyway, the first coat of grapeseed oil was seasoned on nicely. We’ll try some bacon in there to get animal fats and proteins onto the seasoning. Now, if I’ve learned one thing about cookware that will last for a lifetime, the stuff needs looking after, and your grandmothers skillet is a seriously awesome bit of kitchen kit. Does the tat trade handle such items?

    I agree. Having a sense of history means avoiding making unnecessary mistakes because you’d already know of the possible outcomes. It doesn’t bode well, yup. One of the things which always stumps me is when I’m faced with a new variant of a scenario, but in such cases we all learn as we go, and hopefully don’t mess it up too badly.

    We’ll run short long before we’ll run out. That’s how things look like they’re working out. You just never know when your lucky numbers will come up. That kind of system requires people to fall off the ship. You can already see that story with housing, and there is a push in the next state to the north to move against tiny houses on private land.

    I’d heard of the cocoa issues. Have you ever tried carob based chocolate? It’s not bad, but it doesn’t seem the same to me.

    Friends are a finite resource so unfortunately I do have to tread warily when it comes to such arguments. Ignoring them is a good option, but doesn’t always seem to work for me. Any tips? Man, sometimes folks are arguing because they have other things that are stressing them out, but those are unmentionable topics for whatever reason – like say, family or job difficulties. And so I’ve occasionally noticed people latching on to a completely different topic and arguing about that. Like I say, I do my best, but troubles are many in peoples lives. Dunno. And that’s true, people do find out in their own time and way – it’s not really my role to burst peoples happy (or unhappy as it may be) bubble.

    🙂 Mate, we mined that rock shelf hard for large rocks. It was a rich vein of slightly softer granite. There was an article on a dry stone master craftsman down under: Meet the people working to save Australia’s heritage dry stone walls for future generations. I’ll bet there’s plenty of work in that trade.

    Did anyone April Fools Day prank you? All clear here.

    🙂 How’s your store of dried tomatoes going?

    We don’t have any such names that I’m aware of. Although, I may have mentioned this to you before that clear nights with a full moon were once known as a Kelly Moon, after the famed bushranger Ned Kelly.

    Good point, it probably is the soil. We’ve upped the quantity of phosphates in the form of blood and bone meal over the past few years. 15 years of regular feeds of coffee grounds has probably thrown some things out of whack, but a few years ago I adjusted the mix and things are much better now. In between rain storms, I even managed to do a bit of mowing. I thought that the soil critters would appreciate the feeding they’d get from that activity. Everything is dropped where it is cut.

    Far out, the rain is feral out there… It doesn’t rain, but it pours.

    The bacon burgers we cooked up tonight (a very unusual circumstance to cook bacon, but the carbon steel needed seasoning) was quite tasty, but the veg burgers we usually make from scratch are better. Still, the fry-pan seems to have survived the experience, and seasoning the steel looks like a long process.

    Hope both yourself and H enjoyed the walk, and dodged any rain!

    Hmm, it looks like not showing a interwebsite URL in Safari is an option that can be changed in settings. Although I have no idea when it comes to the fruit world. A mystery!

    Hehe! The UFO meme is good. If I link to an image of the thing, they might try and hit me up for royalties…

    Now you mention it, I can’t even say for sure what is meant by the term ‘the bottom line’. What particular line is being referenced? There are a lot of options there. Another mystery, but yes it sure would be confusing for people learning the language.

    Are they still making the Tinkertoys? Cool. Those sorts of toys are great, and my grandfather bought me a Meccano set and you learn a lot about how things are put together, and also more importantly, stay together. I liked Lego too, but they were always economically challenging. But even basic block kits are fun. Did you have a Tinkertoy kit way back in the day?

    Bush block land can be like that down here too where it doesn’t ever quite make a lot of sense as to the price. I do wonder how people living in such remote places will adjust their lives to a future of energy scarcity? If the land is infertile and subject to weather extremes (the rain is very heavy here tonight. Yikes!) it does make a person wonder about the future. I’ve read enough about local history to know that back in the day around here, things were sparsely populated (and still are really) and the economy was much more local. And quiet.

    Am I getting the hint that you polished off the last chunk of lemon cake? If you did, well done. Are you feeling better about things today? Did you attend the service the local Pastor put on? A garden is a lovely place to spend some hours, that’s my view on the world too. 😉

    Hey, did Professor Mass just prank his readers with that eclipse business? Looks like it to me… Hope you didn’t fall for it?

    They sound like a canny bunch to me those Hallmark folks. If I were going to write fiction, and that is one tough market, that’s the market I’d aim for. Sure, I’d sell out for those kind of book deals… 🙂 Pity I can’t write fiction to save myself.

    Yeah, everything is streaming these days. But surely there comes a point where there are too many things to watch? Then what?



  5. Yo, Chris – Our rain is forecast to come back, tomorrow night. I’m glad you got some, just so you don’t get too much of a good thing 🙂 . As far as your gutters, go, you had good timing. And, it’s all in the timing. I see 12,000 people in your State of Victoria, lost their power. I’m sure the lights were burning bright at Fern Glade.

    Fry-pan, skillet. What ever. I think I tend to call mine a frying pan. When I want to dress it up and take it to lunch. 🙂 Once you get the pan rolling, cleaning and re-seasoning takes less than 5 minutes. The longest part of the process is waiting for the water to boil, in the pan, in order to scrape the gunk off. A BLT would have been nice.

    Oh, yes. Cast iron in the tat trade has held it’s value. The rarer pieces can fetch a pretty penny. Such as, the waffle makers that went on top of a wood burning stove. E-Buy has a whole section of “cast iron cookware vintage.” Items made by the Griswold and Wagner companies are the most sought after. You can still find treasures at op-shops, estate sales and junk stores. Swap meets.

    That’s too bad about the tiny house ban. Different structures seem to be banned, in different places. Mostly, due to people worried about bringing down the whole “tone” of an area. In some areas, mobile homes (caravans?) or even manufactured homes, are banned. Some cities are experimenting with tracts of tiny homes, for the homeless.

    Carob is to chocolate as nutritional yeast is to cheese. Fail!

    Biting the tongue works. Til it bleeds, if necessary. 🙂 There are some topics I don’t discuss with some friends. If I want them to remain friends.

    That was an interesting story on stone walls. I really liked the one picture of “garden installation.” That round structure reminded me of the ancient monks bee-hive quarters. The pint of Guinness was a hoot! There was that article about renovating stone walls, in Japan, a few months back.

    I haven’t fallen into any April Fool’s traps, but, it’s early in the day.

    I’ve got about 2 1/2 quarts of dried tomatoes, left. I have to remind myself that a scant handful of dried tomatoes was once a great deal of fresh tomatoes.

    Thanks for the tip on URL’s and Safari. I’ll look into it. There was a recent article on the end of the manual transmission, but I could find no way to link to it. Not even social media.

    Here, we had Erector sets. I see Meccano and Erector merged. Looks like there’s a lot of plastic, in the new kits. Back in the day, they were all metal. I think I had an Erector set, but it might have been one of my cousins. I know I had Lincoln Logs. And, yes, I had Tinkertoy’s. I’ve been intrigued by the Lego toys. They even have sets where you can build Roman structures. Or, the Titanic! I’ve been tempted, but figure that way lies madness! And, poverty.

    I had a piece of the lemon cake (OK. I’ll fess up. I had two), but it was when it looked like maybe there’d be some to take home. But a late arrival got the last piece. Which was fine, as I didn’t really want to have to deal with taking some home.

    Oh, I don’t think Prof. Mass was joking at all, about eclipses and clouds. A warming planet, much more water vapor (aka clouds) in the air. Think of the planet Venus.

    No, I didn’t go to the Easter service, here at the Institution. I contemplated religious things, in the privacy of my own home. 🙂

    Too many things to watch? Then what? You ruthlessly pick and choose. My library hold list, hit the limit. 50 items. Then some really interesting documentaries showed up on the “on order” list. What to do? I culled out some heavy psychological dramas, and a few horror movies.

    I fooled around in the garden, last night. Planted radishes and spinach. Lopped the flower heads off the rhubarb. Removed the bird netting from the communal strawberry patch and weeded it. Sprayed down the chicken wire and t-posts, where I had some powdery mildew, last year. With vinegar. Spread out some leaves and straw in one bed. And, a few other things.

    The Master Gardeners came, this morning. They had a truck load (a yard) of good garden soil. Helped them unload, that. They had a nifty pick-up truck, cargo unloader. It’s like a heavy duty tarp, or sheet, that you put the load on. Then, you crank it, so it moves the load off the tail gate. I’d not seen such a gizmo, before. Pretty nifty. Lew

  6. Chris,

    I showed the Princess the photos of your path. She hadn’t seen any updates for 3 months. She was amazed at how good the path and rock walls look, at how much you have gotten done. I agree with her, for the record.

    Congrats on the rain. You need it.

    Ugg. I got a text message Sunday from one of my pals at carving. He is my age, but when very young was one of the founding members. The other living founding member was about 93. Was. He died over the weekend. He will be missed. He always had good stories and good jokes. He took being teased well. Ugg.

    Meanwhile, in a remarkable event that melds with the opening to this week’s column, our governor signed some “carbon free” thingy into law. The goal is to get ALL houses and businesses using only electricity for everything. This new law will, in 2031, ban the installation of new heat pumps with natural gas backup in case it’s too cold for the heat pump to keep the home warm. (Pretty much below freezing, the heat pump doesn’t do anything. Ours is marginal at +4C and below.) I guess people are supposed to freeze when the temperatures hit -20C like they did this year. I will have to upgrade all of my systems before the 2031 deadline.

    Of course, in addition to the problems of ineffective heat pumps under certain conditions, there are other problems. I can cook and have some heat with my natural gas stove and fireplaces even if the electricity is out. Naturally, there is the issue of having to increase the supply of electricity to replace those who get removed from natural gas. Of course, in the next decade, the electric grid will need to at least double because of electric car mandates. The AI people say that the grid needs to double for them to do what they want, also in the next decade. Add those leaving natural gas and we’re needing to quintuple the electric supply in Washington within the next decade. Color me skeptical.

    Of course, Professor Mass did some studies earlier this year, presenting the data from our coldest weather. During that time, the wind did not blow and the sun did not shine. No amount of windmills and solar collectors would have provided enough energy to roast a sausage. Where all of this new energy is supposed to come from I don’t know.

    The robin we raised that year we think returned. It had a slightly droopy right wing. A robin with the same droop was present the next year and let us get much closer to it than the other robins did.

    The Princess returned Saturday night. She is exhausted. She mentioned to me that cousin had been shipped to hospital via ambulance from a small hospital to the bigger one. So, cousin had no clothes. (The Princess later bought her some.) So I said to the Princess: “Cousin has no clothes. The emperor has no clothes. Therefore, cousin is the emperor.”

    My time here may be erratic for the next 2 weeks.


  7. Hi DJ,

    Many thanks for the lovely words. Infrastructure need not be ugly, and with three inches of rain over the past 24 hours, all weather access paths are kind of important here.

    Ah, so sorry to hear that you’ve lost another founding member of your group, and hope the group and everyone related to it is doing OK? Yeah, you definitely need some time out to regroup and work through the grief. If I may say so, 93 years is a remarkably good innings (a cricket reference) and can only therefore presume that the craft of wood carving is good for ones health? The facts in this case speak for themselves. However, and this is a consideration I too wonder about, sometimes my friend, you find yourself in the position of having to be the elder when mastery has not been bestowed. I’m so sorry man, but you have to muddle on through with your work with the group. Ugg! What would the Vikings do?

    Well, here’s hoping that the carbon content of soils also does not get banned! Such moves have been taking place down here too. You see, from what I can understand, natural gas is useful for the purposes you put it too, but also electricity generation, and let’s not forget the production of nitrogen based synthetic fertilisers. Without those fertilisers, I tell you what, a lot of people will go hungry. And here is the finest joke of the lot, if a farmer applies synthetic nitrogen based fertilisers to soils, the hungry little soil critters apparently convert organic matter into err, plant available feed stuffs. If you think about it a bit, that means the soil carbon in farm soils all over the place, is probably getting released by that process. Just thought I’d drop in that fun fact.

    My understanding of the building codes in this state is that no new buildings, of whatever variety can have gas connected to them. It’s electric all the way. And yes, that’s the conclusion I drew as well, it’s a mess of contradictory policies. It’s not good, but I’m happy for this belief to be put to a live test – but I reckon have a plan B for you, just in case. We’re looking at this matter here as well, and have the outlines of a rough plan, although this is only a minor energy source for us, and I do not use that source for heating. There was a real wake-up call moment in the house we rented in a nearby town with that energy source when constructing this place, and things were cheaper then.

    The AI people can make demands, but humans will always be cheaper. I reckon they’re trialling the old bait and switch strategy they’ve used before, but there’s only so much mad cash to support such mischief for long.

    Professor Mass is perhaps describing what I’ve known for well over a decade. I’ve tweaked this power system and really gave it an economics-free run, and the best it can achieve is 99% uptime. The 1% requires maybe 12L of petrol a year, which isn’t bad, but the grid uptime % is higher. Some days over winter the wind won’t blow and you’ll enjoy fifteen minutes of peak sunlight. That’s one miserable winter day… 🙂 But then, I actually quite enjoy the cold weather here, it’s in the blood. No doubt your Viking ancestry would feel similarly! Oh, and sometimes such days happen, when you’re in a drought.

    Out of curiosity, given your dad’s background, was he big into the prospects of nuclear energy?

    I do hope that your lady and her cousin get through this trial. Sometimes the troubles come thick and fast.

    You are always welcome here, and it will be my pleasure to cheer you up with some silly reference such as: What would Slartibartfast do about the natural gas predicament? Nice little crinkles in the fjords perhaps? 🙂



  8. Still going strong, dude. Good to see.
    PS: I loathe silverbeet. Gimme spinach by preference any day…

  9. Hi Lewis,

    Well the history of the whoopee cushion dated back far further than I’d imagined, and it was pleasing that there are serious collectors and historians of such novelty items. I’ll bet that lady was super pleased to have nabbed an original model whoopee cushion, and then add it to her collection? It was interesting to read that the item claims copyright status, and may not have actually registered this properly. I’ve never seen one used in a prank.

    Just took the dogs out for their nightly ablutions and the rain was icy cold. Left me with an icecream headache (that’s a term with surfer origins I believe) – I’ll bet you’ve enjoyed those occasionally over the years? Does the pumpkin spice make up for such brain discomfiture? Three inches of rain has now fallen, and as you’d imagine, things are quite damp outside and the water tanks are rapidly re-filling. It is all in the timing, and accurate weather forecasts. 🙂

    Ah, yes, the one benefit of off grid power is that it usually stays on when the mains goes down, way down to the ground. I’d read about that news this morning. Wettest Melbourne day in four years after parched March. Wet for them in the big smoke, but 50% wetter again up here in the nearby hills, as they are wont to call them. We were in the orange blob areas of the maps.

    Do you dry off your frypan after cleaning (and the water cleaning trick works a treat), or do you splash a bit of oil and wipe it around the surface? I’ve seen advice to do both on the interweb, and have no idea which to do. However, on the basis that a thin layer of oil will add to the seasoning and protect the steel from the atmosphere, we chose to wipe the oil around the surface.

    We used to grow lettuce, but prefer the sharp spiciness of mustard leaves instead – not to mention the addition of Chris’s crazy garden green herb additions to salads. I only add those to my salad mixes when the Editor is elsewhere! We had a salad for dinner and there was a lot of chives in among the egg and pumpkin. We’ve had this ongoing debate for many years about when to start the winter greens, and I’d get them in the ground earlier than the Editor, but we’re all learning here. The greenhouse is providing some decent backup though. I didn’t water the seedlings growing in there this morning.

    Thanks for the tip, and I just checked out eBuy and flipped the search to look at the highest priced cast iron cookware vintage items. Those are eye wateringly expensive, from my perspective. And I was interested to note just how well the more pricey items had been restored.

    It seems weird that in the midst of a shortage of housing stock, especially in rural areas, that the authoritas would move against tiny houses. I wouldn’t do that, but then I’d make such housing stock uninsurable and enforce that it had to be removed and not replaced at the sale of the property. Everyone gets something. In other remote-ish touristy areas they’ve been chucking around the idea and testing tiny houses for people who work in the area. What a surprise, but planning is mostly driven by state based codes. All the same, I’m seeing a lot of shed living popping up around the area.

    I see that you’ve tried carob chocolate-like products?

    Dude, I doff my hat to your good example, and can only hope to one day achieve such diplomacy. Man, sometimes I share candid opinions, and then everyone gets upset. I do my best, but sometimes I fail and the words just kind of slip out.

    Thought you might enjoy the article on the stone walls. 🙂 It’s good to see such skills being employed, and those walls are a real work of art. The pint glass was good.

    Ah, did anyone prank you? It’s a bit cheeky doing so.

    True, and dehydrated tomatoes also tend to become smaller than they once were. Still, you’ve only got a month or so to go before the garden starts really kicking off.

    I’ve never owned a car with an automatic transmission, and wouldn’t know what to do with such a thing. Might be just the excuse to stop driving, or, go super old school with a really basic old car which is easier for me to fix. Hmm.

    Makes sense that Erector and Meccano merged. The products are really similar. Back in the day it was all metal, with some powder coated (or more likely in those days, painted) metal panels. Plastic you say? Oh yeah, lot’s of plastic, and the new kits look way more complicated. The Lincoln Logs are a new one to me. But I’m hearing you about the path to madness. It begins one little piece at a time!

    Well done with the two pieces. I’d have done the same with lemon cake. Yum!

    Dude, Professor Mass even mentions his nemesis! 🙂 Like every bit of good rumour, it has an element of truth to it.

    That’s very gnostic of you, and I do hope that H was behaving herself during those moments of contemplation and reflection? It would be hard to concentrate if she were pestering you for snacks and pats, or worse, demands for walks.

    It’s been remarked upon here before that R is for Ruthless, and your culling of the hold list is beyond my competency. 🙂 Out of sheer curiosity, which goes overboard first, the psychological dramas, or the horror movies?

    Hmm, radishes and spinach. Yum! The radishes here in the greenhouse are doing particularly well and I’m looking forward to winter salads using those. Wonder if the cooler weather changes their flavour? Maybe. I’m very dodge on strawberry patches, and despite the reduced flavour, I’d prefer Alpine strawberries which seem to continually produce berries for at least seven months of the year. The plants do seem to be eating through their soil.

    That’s a clever idea with the tarp, and we’d done that before. The new trailer has a dump function so you can tip the contents out. Did you see any worms in the garden soil they brought in?



  10. Hi Les,

    Good to hear from you!

    Thanks, and I hope your place is doing well too. Hey, three inches fell over the past day, and there’s talk of a possible east coast low over your way within the next week. Never a dull moment…

    🙂 I hear you, silverbeet does have an earthier flavour. But hey, serious people tell me that it takes three weeks to alter your palate to different tastes. Good luck. Your mission, should you choose to accept it is…

    Now all I have to do is keep the wallabies off the silverbeet crop.



  11. Chris;
    Yeah, the weirdness keeps amping up. Keeping up the charade of BAU can lead to bizarre actions and polarized tribalism.

    The psychological dimension of collapse is a churning chaos. Short term, an individual can make preparations (prepping) but that will do little for long term security, nor will it change the trajectory in the big picture. Collectively, governments can respond to short term issues by financial trickery or reacting to disasters, but look very unlikely to respond substantially to the long term dilemma. Individuals can do some things to anticipate change, by becoming long term self reliant and if everyone did this, it would be a collective long term response, but it ain’t happening.

    So here we sit, watching all the indicators signaling the ongoing change, and end up in despair, or acceptance, or anger, or cycling though all three. I find that taking actions, no matter their big picture impact, levels out my mental state. I guess I’m in the acceptance mode generally, but not a fiddle while Rome burns way, more just doing what I can with my one water bucket, even though the rest are blithely unaware.

    And let’s face it, if you step back a bit, it is fascinating to live during what is literally a geologic transition. Scary, but fascinating.

    Finished getting the last wall on the greenhouse this past weekend, started working inside, and immediately started peeling. What a difference. It was breezy and in the 40s (single digits C) but inside, even with a light overcast, my sweat glands started waking from their winter slumber.

    Early April is normally too soon to start tomatoes, but I’m getting some going today in our sunroom and they will go in the greenhouse as soon as they are big enough. Our 10% confidence date of last frost is ~May 20. We’ll be in experiment mode for a while, deciding how much and what makes sense to make best use.

    Daffodils started blooming yesterday in the more sheltered spots. So tree pruning window is shutting. I looked at the trees I had pruned earlier, and thought,”Did I actually prune that tree?”. I seem to never get aggressive enough.

    Can’t remember if I’ve asked if you do any summer pruning. I guess it’s a thing, but have never done it.

  12. Yo, Chris – I thought it was interesting the woman was tracking down all the weird tat, on offer, in comic books and magazines, back in the day. What I remember were “Sea Monkeys.” Which were just brine shrimp. “South Park” even had an episode on it.

    Today should be nice, here, but we’ll probably wake up to rain, tomorrow morning. I could work in the garden, this evening, but it’s time to tackle the laundry, again. I never have a problem, with ice cream brain freeze. As I take very small bites … to make it last longer. Although I kicked ice cream for the past two months or so. But went shopping, last night, for me, and broke down and got a half gallon. Chocolate / peanut butter. 🙂

    After I’ve cleaned out the frying pan, with water, I wipe it down with a paper towel, to make sure it’s really dry. Then I put in a splash of olive oil and a dash of salt, and wipe it in with another paper towel. Sounds wasteful, but they have paper towels here, that tear off in half towels. Once I switched to those, I found I used far, far, fewer paper towels. Then when I go to cook something, I usually add more olive oil. However much I think I need.

    Oh, yes. Way back in the hippy dippy days, I tried carob. Haven’t bothered with it since.

    I was not the subject to any pranks. Although I stopped by the Club, last night, and Homeless Mike was telling really lame jokes.

    Manual transmissions are easier, and cheaper to fix. Also, they’re often avoided by thieves, as they don’t know how to use a stick shift. Sounds like a win, win situation to me. So, naturally, it has to go! And, from our Will-Wonders-Ever-Cease, department. A few days ago, in our newspaper’s police reports, someone had called in to say a dog was in a car, with the windows rolled up. Some models of cars now have a “dog mode” or “pet mode.” I crack the windows and park in the shade.

    H is very low maintenance, and demands very little. At least, with me. Out in public, if people are eating, she tries to beg. People are constantly trying to feed her. Some are mildly miffed when I say no. Now I say, she’s got allergies. I must say, her ear itching has finally cleared up. After I cut beef, chicken, eggs and dairy, out of her diet. Though she does love her fried eggs and yogurt. I’ll try introducing one, then the other, and see if she has a reaction. What with the nice weather, when I try and walk her, it’s Doggie Grand Central, around here. That, and more of the Inmates are out and about.

    I usually off load the heavy psychological dramas, first. The horror movies had to have an interesting slant on things, to make the list in the first place. Sometimes I’ll watch a trailer or read a plot synopsis.

    We’ll see how the radishes go. Can’t say they’re a favorite vegetable, but you bang on about them, all the time. So, I figure I’ll give them another go. I’m also trialing some other greens. Gotta get more variety, in my diet.

    Well. Our building manager, and our community outreach person went to a big housing conference, in San Francisco, last week. I noticed she wasn’t back yesterday. Our night manager tells me things, as I don’t “talk.” Turns out she picked up a case of You Know What.

    Another bit of new he had was that Suzanne (who always has a better idea / parking lot Nazi, passed away. She had a stroke a couple of months ago, and was in hospital. Long time resident and a real pain in the …. ear, to the incoming new administration.

    And, we have another entry into the what contributed to the fall of the Roman Empire. I finished reading “The Wisdom of Plagues,” and there was a brief mention of an outbreak of rinderpest, 376-386CE. Not much mention in the searches, I did. So, I decided to see what was happening with the emperor, at that time. Turns out, Valentinian II had a long reign, and covered that period. But, he was more or less just a figurehead, and there were lots of changes in the real people in power, around him. Sounds like nasty stuff. There’s a vaccine for it now.

    This website, can be interesting. They usually throw out a question, and then record the responses. Some of them are kind of silly, “What was the moment you decided to not marry your fiancé?” Or, “Which celebrities are nice for service people to work with.” Or, not But every once in awhile, they have something worth reading. Such as this …

    Great cooking tips. What’s not to like? Most of them I agree with, and some provide food for thought.

    I finished watching “Land Girls: The Complete Series,” last night. A pretty satisfying wind-up, though a few things were left hanging. Some one was complaining the other day, on the Net, about a major streaming service that produces some of its own content. That they start a series, and then cancel it after one season. Someone else has sworn off movie theaters, due to the blaring, long ads before a film. Both were good long whinges. Lew

  13. Hi Steve,

    There does seem to be more than the usual amount of weirdness out there. About an hour ago I attempted a repair on the quarter century old dehydrator and broke some of the traces on the circuit board. Such a hot environment is not kind to electronics, and there was a chip in there, who knew? I could fix it, but am now wondering how long the rest of the machine will last. Dunno.

    Exactly, and that’s been my longer term understanding. You can do your best, and it’s the stuff you don’t consider that causes your best efforts to come unstuck. Water is an issue here, as is soil mineralisation. Still, as you rightly point out, it ain’t happening.

    And that’s an issue as well. How much emotional investment do you make with issues that few people seem even remotely concerned about? Like you, I tend to favour action and enjoy that process for its own sake. Ol’ Nero got a bad wrap for fiddling whilst Rome burned, although none of us will ever really know what actually happened in those fateful events. For all we know, the response way back then may have been good, but not good enough, and someone had to take the blame.

    It is an amazing time to be alive, yes. I ordered a two stroke cheapie extendible pole hedge trimmer to cut those two huge olive trees back so that they’re not shading the solar panels. It turned up in the mail. Such a conversation wouldn’t have even been possible two or three decades ago. 🙂

    Well done with the greenhouse. You won’t regret the effort put into constructing the building. I’ll be very interested to hear how you arrange the tomato vines in your greenhouse. The thing will extend your growing season by about two months. What an amazing use of technology.

    If I may add some of our experience, the building is best used for tomatoes and peppers (what we call chilli’s). Oh, and seedling raising.

    With the exception of apricots, cherries and plums, I prune whenever the mood takes me (those three are summer jobs only). Of course, winters are milder here and that may make a difference? I’d suggest running a trial on some apples with a couple of control trees and see what happens? Trees enjoy pruning.



  14. Hi Lewis,

    There’s really something else about the name: “badlands”, which leaves me feeling like there actually could be remnant dinosaur populations tucked away in isolated pockets. Thanks for the article, it was fun. Montana is a fascinating place, but what about all them critters, huh?

    Dude, I was having the ‘sea monkey’ advertisement in Mad Magazine conversation with someone the other day. The hype rarely lived up to the reality of the err, short lived pets? It amazes me how people recall those advertisements for the things in the back page of the magazine. Now why does the South Park folks also referencing the shrimp not surprise me?

    Did the weather prove to be nice for you today? It was cold, cloudy and bleak here today. Another delightful mountain winters day, keeps the tourists away! 🙂 Hopefully leaf change is a real fizzer this year. Last year the colours in the trees kept hanging for a couple of months.

    Your luck with the lack of brain freeze suggests you have a deft hand in the field of moderation? I wolf the stuff down, and that’s a problem for the brain pain. Of course there are other lesser known side effects like the super hot coffee last weekend which burned my oesophagus. I will not go back there to experience such carelessness. Man, we’ve all been there with that break down of the internal fortitude which ends up in chocolate / peanut butter icecream purchases. Reach for the moderation!

    Ah, I see. Many thanks for your cleaning process with the frypan. That makes sense, and we’re also going with the slight re-oiling after use. Best to stop any rust by using a thin coating of oil. I understand that those who don’t use that option, kind of have to completely dry the frypan back on the hopper for a few minutes. Dunno about that option.

    There used to be a hippy cafe (I spotted rats there occasionally) which made a most excellent carob chocolate substitute thing. Of course it didn’t taste at all like chocolate, but it was good in its own right. One of the things which mystifies me about the vegan thing is that some folks try that option and yet make meals which look like animal products. With a world of tasty meals produced using vegetables, why replicate the look of animal products? Makes no sense to me, although the only vegans I’ve ever encountered did so for specific dietary reasons, and they’re really lovely people and would never dare push their choices onto others.

    Ooo, lame jokes are as bad as being pranked. On the other hand, it’s good that Mike can recount lame jokes.

    Exactly, the manual transmissions are also easier and cheaper to build. And yes, that’s true too. I reckon people drive to automatic transmissions and they effect the way vehicles move in traffic. It’s a different experience. Sometimes hapless car thieves inadvertently nab a car with a child in it – such actions usually get a very quick response, and a lengthy period of incarceration. There actually used to be a band with the name: Dogs die in hot cars. 2004. A bit scar, really. I can’t make this stuff up.

    Oh, that’s clever with the dog allergy claim. I once said to someone who was annoying me badly: My dog doesn’t like the look of you. Add in a bit of strange leer, and the person stopped annoying. Incidentally, the dog didn’t have any thoughts in the matter, and probably wouldn’t have been able to back up the talk. And yeah, that’s a wise idea with cutting out various items so as to discover which is irritating H’s skin. That’s how I discovered that a dishwashing liquid promoted as being friendly on the skin, was in my case not true. We began making our own olive oil soap after that, and it is super easy, as long as a person can exercise some reasonable care in the production. Not a job for everyone…

    I do the same with movies. Man, time is limited.

    And speaking of which, we worked late this evening. Towards the end of work I tried repairing the circuit board on the food dehydrator, and it’s 25 years old, and hot environments are hard on electronics. Looks like it might be stuffed, that’s the technical term. The Editor was quick to declare the machine dead, and I think that she may have plans…

    Well, that’s the thing isn’t it? Growing a diverse range of vegetables is the easier bit, knowing what to do with the produce is sometimes more challenging.

    Ook, and mate I’m sorry to hear that Suzanne has passed on. What do you do? Ideas are fine and all, but implementing them, that’s the hard bit. I’m sure there is a saying about ideas…

    The ancient Roman plagues were no doubt a result of massive soil fertility loss. Mind you, the Roman’s practised better agricultural systems than what happened afterwards. Things began to get better after the Black Plague I believe with agricultural knowledge. Rinderpest sounds nasty.

    Thanks for the list of kitchen secrets, and most of them are pretty good. 🙂

    Movies have always had long advertisements running beforehand. Well, at least as long as I recall. It’s what I’d call a captive audience.



  15. Yo, Chris – I wonder how many people read the dinosaur article, and thought it was real? People believe all kinds of strange things, these days. There’s some lose talk around, that King Charles had pancreatic cancer. I didn’t see any reports from what I’d consider a reliable news source. And, they all seemed to echo each other. There’s a new scam around. People put out, on social media, that some celebrity has died. Just to get the clicks and traffic. Pretty low.

    Speaking of dinosaurs, it jogged a memory. When I was a wee small lad, I read a book called “The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek.” (Lampman, 1955.) It was about a set of twins, who found a dinosaur, in the canyons of our SW. We drove through the Badlands, a couple of times, when I was a kid. They were bleak. But had many interesting and colorful rock formations. And, a coal seam that had been hit by lightening, and had been burning for eons.

    Must be the season for Sea Monkeys. 🙂 The following is not family friendly You’ve been warned …. 🙂

    Moderation? I just like things to last. When I have my two squares of dark chocolate, per day, I break each piece into 4ths. I eat the smaller one’s first, and work to the biggest piece. Moderation, or just being neurotic?

    If you’d dropped the hot coffee in your lap, you could have raked in millions! 🙂

    Maybe, they replicate the look of meat, to put one over on their families. When they want them to eat healthier.

    Of course, Mike got the same treatment as my friend Scott, when he tells lame jokes. Straight face. Smiles, un-cracked.

    A band whose name is a message! Almost a public service announcement.

    H hasn’t scratched her ears in awhile. So, I tried giving her fried eggs, last night. So far, so good. We took a little drive to the petrol station, this morning. $4.70 per US gallon, of regular. Did the bi-monthly plump up of the tires.

    When I took H out for her walk, around 10 last night, it was heavily misting. Looks like we got some rain overnight. But, it’s pretty nice, now.

    I looked into what to do with radishes. Adding them to slaw sounds interesting.

    You may have heard the latest, from The Land of Stuff. Three (or four?) people, in high rise apartments had their windows broken, by wind. Heard a noise, jumped out of bed, and they weren’t in Kansas, anymore.

    We’re getting a commodity box, this morning. Wonder what it will be? Later on, I’ll visit my friend Jane, at the Club, and take in some of the stuff. Stop by the library, on my way. Things to return, things to pick up. The library catalog was pretty bulky, yesterday. Several pages wouldn’t open. Not that anyone pays any attention to what I think, but I think it’s due to them loading up every page with all kinds of bells and whistles. Just too darned graphics rich. On the other hand, the catalog page for a title, has very little information. I’m sure that’s outsourced. Lew

  16. Chris,

    Indeed, the carving surely helped my friend achieve such an old age. Some people apparently live that long because of their diets – a lot of junk food filled with preservatives. As in, “you are what you eat”. Eat a lot of preservatives and become “well-preserved”. 😉

    Oh, I know full well what the Vikings would do. Bind up any wounds, physical and emotional, and muddle through as best as possible. Only thing to do, really.

    Enjoyed your fertilizer chat. It IS funny. I appreciate irony.

    Yes, I observe the conflicting decisions regularly, both locally and regionally, as well as nationally, of course. I appreciate your comments and observations on this topic. I was able to refocus. Better to prepare and muddle through than get worked up about stuff beyond my control. Then there is the money issue you mentioned. You’re correct, the money (and mineral resources) will run out before much of this actually occurs. I read an article today about Washington state and budget and big road projects. And lack of materials and lack of contractors to do the work and more jurisdictions competing for the same resources and contractors. Yup, prices for construction projects are inflating. A lot of the scheduled projects won’t ever get completed.

    One of these may be Spokane’s infamous “north-south freeway”. It’s basically a bypass that has removed hundreds of homes so that there is a high speed, limited access road connecting the main east-west trunk with the north-south roads north of the metropolitan area. (On a map of Spokane, that would be I-90 connecting with 2 and 395 north of town.) The northernmost portion of it has been open for a few years. Other portions are under construction. The entire highway should be completed in about…10 years. Not sure when the cost of driving vehicles will curtail seriously the amount of traffic, but if that road is completed, well, there may not be as many vehicles using it as is expected.

    We hit +24C on Tuesday. Felt like summer. Today is cooler and will top out near +12C with clouds and wind. Feels like late autumn. Typical springtime in Spokane.

    Clouds are forecast for Monday’s eclipse. In fact, clouds are forecast over a fair amount of the area that should see 75% to total eclipse. I know some people who are taking vacations in Texas to see the total eclipse. They might get disappointed. Heck, we had a total eclipse visible in Spokane just a few years ago, I think 2017. I simply went out in the yard and set up my pinhole camera thingy. Twas enjoyable.


  17. Hi DJ,

    Ah yes grasshopper, if one wants body to err, preserve, first one must reach for preservatives. This is known. Speaking of such matters, we were just discussing how to use what was once known as champagne yeast (now named sparkling white yeast due to legal concerns) in the production of sake from rice. It may be possible. That’s what I call well preserved!

    Your friend may have achieved such an excellent innings via the Chris’s secret financially orientated retirement advice of: friends; purpose; and hobbies. Clearly wood carving provided such outlets to have achieved such an august age, and you and I can only hope to do as well. Here I must add an important side note that I’m not legally allowed to provide any financial advice, so when asked about retirement, that is the advice I inevitably provide. Is it what people want to hear? Probably not. Here, I’d be interested in your thoughts, but I’m guessing people asking such questions want to hear talk of complex financial derivatives, whatever the heck they are. But is my advice what they need to consider? I’d say so, yeah.

    Oh, and a dog. Dogs are super awesome! And they always keep us slow witted humans on their very tippy toes.

    The most literate of Vikings would have understood the Latin phrase: Vivamus, moriendum est

    It is ironic isn’t it? And also proves that people making such decisions are unable to think in terms of whole systems. I won’t distress you, but some group wants to store carbon dioxide in the Great Artesian Basin. It’s an option, I guess. But then so is living on Mars, for a while…

    Exactly, why excise yourself when the garden is springing back into life and the local critter suspects are returning to dine upon your produce? Dude, I live on a dirt road, off a dirt road, and I can only imagine that maintenance is getting harder to maintain. Had to laugh, long ago someone here in the US mentioned that the roads were only graded a couple of times per year now. We’d be lucky to get one grading per year. You may note that we own a very serious and focused Dirt Rat Suzuki Jimny, and there is a reason for that choice. As to local critters, we’ve made an interesting observation about the European wasps and a specific variety of willow tree. Hmm.

    Maybe it is just me, but when you used the word ‘infamous’, it left the impression that things were perhaps not so good there. Ten years is probably quite quick all things considered! 😉 The nearest freeway exit took almost two years to construct two roundabouts for the entrance and exit. An impressive achievement. A couple of years ago I was reading about road construction efforts during WWII, and the speed was amazing. Stuart Highway. How’s a 306-mile (492 km) highway built in under than 90 days, work for you? 🙂 They don’t make them like that any more.

    The time and weather baton is soon to be exchanged. It was a similarly cool and cloudy day of 13’C here today, minus the wind of course. Brr. The wood heater is chugging along tonight.

    Professor Mass suggested that cloud cover would be a problem for your eclipse, although I’m still uncertain that it wasn’t an April Fool’s Day joke. Hope the event is enjoyable this time around as well.



  18. Hi Lewis,

    It’s the real risk with April Fool’s Day jokes in that they may become either a conspiracy, or get quoted as fact. They might even create a new meme? So many options for mischief there.

    Charles III mother did come to the throne at a very young age. I’d imagine he’d be pressed for time, and how good is it that you and I aren’t required to make public appearances? Trust me, I reckon we’re winning on that front. It would be very difficult to have your life dissected in the media. I’d inevitably share a candid opinion about an inconsequential matter, and then all hell would break loose. Surely you would do the same? I remember years ago when some politician talked down the humble sausage roll, and far out, did the bakers and supportive public roll out in support of that bakery product. Of course as a person on quest to discover the very best of this areas bakery products, it is also my opinion that the politician in this instance was wrong.

    Yup, clickbait. An unusual word don’t you reckon? Almost a sentence in and of itself. Is it one word or two? The general consensus suggests a single word.

    Dude, I’m freakin’ out about European wasps AKA yellowjackets (one word, or two? Is this a new theme?) They’ve been lurking around a White Willow, which was grown for obvious reasons. Anywhoo, it seems like there is an aphid attracted to that specific variety of willow leaves, and the wasps are consuming the sugary nectar and also possibly the hapless aphids. That willow has to go, but I dare not mulch it up right now with all those wasps hanging around it. What a nuisance. And I can’t find the nest. They can travel for 0.5km / 0.31 miles. It could be anywhere around here, and I looked in all the obvious spots. Still, best not to attract the wasps because they’ll be back next year so the tree has to go. They’ve already destroyed the mandarin crop. Not a fan. I spent a couple of hours late this afternoon observing their activities and seeing what they were up to.

    Very funny! Oh the humanity… Of course it all had to end badly, Eric is not to be trusted, but that Ralph dude was probably a bad egg too.

    I like things to last as well, and chocolate is a special treat. Speaking of lasting, the cheapie pole hedge trimmer thing requires a 25:1 mixture of gas:oil, and is suggestive that the metals used in the engine may not be all that great. I’ll have to make a special mixture for the engine feed. Most of the other machines run on a 50:1 ratio, probably because they’re better.

    Dude, it isn’t neurotic, if it’s real. 🙂 And I must say, you’ve arrived at a workable strategy.

    All very true about the hot coffee incident. It’s put me a bit out of sorts this week, but today the worst outrages of burns seem to have melted into the murky past. Unlike Kramer, I’d take the pay-out as distinct from the lifetime supply of free coffee.

    Possibly so about the deep fake meat news. You go first though… Does it taste any good, that’s what I want to know?

    The old timers may have quipped that when it comes to dodgy humour: You are a tough nut to crack.

    We’d intended to have the day off work and enjoy the ‘autumn pie and tart trail festival’ at a nearby pub for lunch. Alas, work intruded and so the quest for the very best nearby bakery products was totally derailed. Thanks, now I think about it a bit: Oh the humanity! Does it work? Or is it eliciting a straight faced, smile un-cracked kind of withering look from you? And also, some of the best lines have been said before…

    I don’t usually recall such things, but it made you wonder if the band had had some personal experience with a canine? Down here, children get smashed out of vehicles left in the hot sun. It kind of works like an incentive not to do that.

    Go H! Are you intending to wait a few days to see whether H’s itch returns? Was the next food item to test, dairy? And I do wonder if milk or yoghurt may produce a different response. Dunno.

    Good to hear that you’re enjoying reasonable fuel prices, and things have settled back down to $7.60 a gallon from their recent highs. I observed that leaf change tourism wasn’t quite so bad this afternoon.

    Yup, radishes added into a salad is the way to go.

    I hadn’t seen that news about the wind storm in the land of stuff. Oh, that’s not good. The folks wouldn’t have stood a chance, it would have been like a panel ripping off a plane mid-air. It’s the pressure differential, at a guess. There’s some serious weather set to hit the capital city of the state north of here: Black nor’easter to soak Sydney and surrounds. We’ll see less than half an inch of rain from that storm, but up north things will be different.

    Did the box turn up? Hey, you once said this ‘ere blog would eat up the interweb with photos. Not close to that goal yet, but I’ll keep trying. Your library folks might get there first, but not want to pay for the bandwidth… 😉



  19. Yo, Chris – “clickbait” was coined in 2006, and “is usually written as one word.”

    “Yellowjacket” is one word, according to the Entomological Society of America. And who’d want to argue with them? 🙂 Plain old “wasp” is used in a large portion of the world.

    Yellowjackets can often have ground nests. We had one here, year before last. Luckily, the Master Gardeners noticed it, and no one stepped in it. I do believe pest control, was called. Do you have Ladybugs? They’re a good aphid control. We’ve had a lot around here, every year. Then to, you can spray soapy water to get rid of aphids. But, what with the wasps, hanging about, probably not a good idea. Although, maybe late in the evening after the wasps have departed?

    Oh, I’ve had fake meat, over the years. Rarely. Can’t say it wasn’t tasty, but as far as comparison to real meat … well, best just to expect a different taste and texture experience. But, as far as artificial meat goes, some of the ingredients lists, put me off. I don’t eat much meat, anyway, so it’s not like I’m out beating the brush 🙂 for a substitute.

    So far, H doesn’t seem to be bothered by the eggs. I’ll give it another whirl, in a few days. I do hope she’s ok with the. She really enjoys them, and other than an allergy possibility, they’re good for her. Price of eggs are going up. We’re having another outbreak of Avian Flu, in five states. It also got into cattle herds, and there was one cow to human transmission. Though the symptoms were very mild. They didn’t have to kill all the cows, as, pasteurization kills the virus.

    My friends in Idaho pay about a dollar less for a US gallon of gas. We pay more due to State taxes. It’s one of the reasons they moved to Idaho. One of the many reasons.

    We’re having a nor’easter here. At least in the NE part of our country. Really some bad weather in our midwest and northeast. Here, so far, it’s not raining, more than it’s raining. Our overnight lows, next week, are really getting down close to freezing (-0-C). But not quit. Though some of the forecasts mention “patchy frost.” I noticed, this morning, our two plum trees are flowering. They didn’t have any fruit, last year, and may not, this year. I’ve been watching the blueberries. No flowers yet. Last year, the early varieties didn’t produce, but that was due to rain and wind keeping the bees in.

    The boxes were a lot better, than last month. We got two, this time. I also managed to snag Elinor’s box. We got a bag of fruit and veg, though I haven’t had time to go through them. She got a slightly different bag, than me, but I see apples, potatoes, carrots, onions and pears. There were frozen ocean perch fillets. Those I put in the freezer, here at the Institution. Our frozen meat box at the Club is full, and fish can be a little dicey. There was breakfast cereal and shelf stable milk. A gallon of grape drink. Peanut butter, a bag each of walnuts and date pieces. A bag of lentils . A couple of boxes of elbow macaroni. Lots of tinned food. Applesauce, peas, kidney beans, green beans, corn, mixed fruit, beef stew, salmon, diced tomatoes, and mixed veg. There was only one can of the beef stew and salmon. Not a bad batch, but I wish there would have been more stew, soups and fruit. That’s what really moves. I took two bags of food, down to the Club, yesterday. Three bags, this morning. I’ve held back a few things, I’ll dole out over the next week. If I put four jars of peanut butter out there, there are a few people that would take all four. Best to put out one at a time, to give more people a shot at them.

    I watched one of the documentaries, I picked up at the library. “The Brain-Gut Connection.” Pretty interesting. Recent studies have proven that there’s a lot of communication between the microbiome and the brain. It can affect all kinds of things, like mood, digestion, chronic diseases. Of course, there’s all the usual suggestions for changes in diet, that a great deal of the population won’t pay attention to.

    My friend in Idaho has been having some pretty serious digestive problems, for the past three months. She’s going in for a colonoscopy and an upper GI, next week. I have opinions on why she’s having these problems, but, as we discussed, I keep them to myself. Lew

  20. Hi, Chris!

    I feel so weird, that I am not sure that I can tell what weird is.

    That’s a clever riposte: “How’s it working out for you buying a house?”, unless they’re around my age – 67 – and bought/built a house decades ago. On one income, too, though we did without a lot of things to do it.

    I don’t argue with anyone anymore. It never seems to change anyone’s mind, so what’s the point? I do like a good debate, though, but it’s hard to find an easygoing, open-minded person.

    That’s a heck of a lot of large rocks. Looking good, the path is (they have been showing Star Wars movies at my mother’s assisted living place lately . . .). Anyway, I still think that you are building village.

    We’ve had lots more rain, and that means that we don’t have to water, so that’s good. It suddenly got a lot colder with a lot of wind. A few days of that and then maybe that’s the last of the cold.

    That’s a lot of pollen. I wonder what it does to one’s lungs? They have barbs, you know.

    The leaves in your beds are small. Did you chop them up?

    That is some moon! I daresay you have heard about the solar eclipse frenzy coming up here (not at my house) on April 8. Though the frenzy is already going on.

    Yay for silverbeet! It likes the cold, too.

    Thanks for the flowers! I have a red geranium blooming on my dining room table from a cutting that I took last fall.


  21. Hi Pam,

    Ah, possibly a very good sign there. If you do indeed discover what exactly is meant by that word, please do let me know?

    Pam, I hear you about that. Almost two and a bit more decades ago I had a lovely chat with a bloke who lived in the island state to the south of where we are. It’s a big island, and the bloke had the largest collection of quince trees in the entire country. So there we are having a grand old time, when he mentions that when he built his own house, no permits were required. Heck, around that time I built a house to lock up stage for $45,000. My understanding is that sheds probably cost far more nowadays! At the turn of the century, we lived in a house with only one power point and a single water tap. It was in a good area though. That place was a total wreck. Those sorts of opportunities are long gone, and even back then the prices asked for the wreck were disturbing. Dunno, I’d have to suggest that people wanted this outcome.

    If I were suddenly young again, I’d scour rural areas with sort of reasonable climates, for a complete wreck of a house, but with good land.

    Yeah, that’s what I’m finding too. When heated words stomp debate, there is no open discussion. If I may dare suggest, such experiences are when people’s egos are being challenged.

    Sadly Peak Rocks is real and if I get the chance tomorrow, I’ll smoosh up some more of them boulders. Such a rich vein of softer granite. But will it last… Probably not! 🙂 Ah, very funny and thanks be to those whom can speak Yoda. I speak Yoda! Hehe! Hey, they do say that it takes a village to feed a village, so your observation is valid.

    Fingers crossed that you’ve had the last of the cold weather, but if the seasons were suddenly flipped upside down, it would be early next month before the tomato seedlings are planted outdoors.

    The pollen is the least of my concerns, although they do cause a bit of irritation. I’m old enough to recall that asbestos garden borders used to be advertised. I’d be almost certain that I’ve encountered that material over the years. This is what living on a polluted planet looks like.

    Yes, very observant! 🙂 The leaves in the beds were all fed through the scary old wood chipper / mulcher. The plan is to haul that machine out again tomorrow. Look, I blame online shopping here. No, seriously. So I bought an el-cheapo pole saw and hedge trimmer, and then used that tool to reduce the height of two olive trees. The cuttings will get smooshed up tomorrow. Pam, I so love using that scary old machine, and it has new and sharp cutting blades in it. So good, so scary, but so good! 🙂

    Eclipse frenzies sound a lot like leaf change frenzies. Be afraid, be very afraid! I do hope that nobody in your part of the world has an attack of the vapours.

    Yeah, silverbeet gets an undeserved bad rap, but it’s a good plant. Does it survive your winters?

    🙂 Geraniums are lovely plants, and they produce delightful flowers.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, many thanks for the information, and language is a fun and moveable target. It’s always interesting when new words enter the lexicon.

    Well, I for sure aren’t arguing with that group. I’d have to suggest that they have what may be politely termed, a special interest. Probably useful in crime scene investigations given that insects are often natures little clean up crew. They’re called ‘European Wasps’ down here, and in my reading of the pesky little insects, it turned out that they arrived via our friends on those two long islands across the Tasman Sea.

    The wasps I’ve encountered in the past have had ground nests which are easy to wipe out. In a small number of cases they can build nests in sheltered locations. This current lot, I have no idea where the nest is, but the white willow tree is going. A shame, but I must bend to the realities of the situation.

    Oh my, I’m also glad to hear that nobody kicked the hive.

    Yeah, ladybugs are in plentiful supply in the raised vegetable beds. I don’t believe that they’d get to the willow tree in any numbers that would make a difference to the wasp issue. And um, once the wasps have fed up on sugary sap produced by the aphids, they’ll move onto the protein from other insects. Hmm. There’s a bit of a cycle to their activities. Given the milder temperatures here, the wasps remain active on that tree after sun down.

    It’s kind of like the rat issues a few years ago. It would not be possible for me to ever completely eliminate rat activity, but far out I can make things harder for them and thus reduce the scale of the problem. The wasps have no natural predators here (other than myself), and so it’s a bit of a free-for-all. The tree has to go. I’ll replace it with another variety of willow which doesn’t attract the aphids and wasps. There’s about a dozen varieties down here, all are treated like the worst ever possible plant, but they’re just another introduced tree. I don’t get the big fuss.

    I’ve had fake meat too once long ago as a trial and then went off and did something else with my time. The stuff may have been called ‘Textured Vegetable Protein’, and it just wasn’t to my taste. What do you mean ingredient list? What is in artificial meat? Hmm, not sure that I understood all of the products in the list. Like you, I don’t eat much meat either, so such things don’t strike me as being a necessity.

    Good to hear that H survived the egg test. And I agree, try again in a few days and see what happens. All dogs I’ve known, enjoy eggs. Sometimes I accidentally break an egg which was retrieved from the chickens hen house and the dogs are onto that gear.

    Chickens sneeze at various intervals. It happens. I’m unsurprised that egg prices are up for you at this time of year. Protein levels in plants are at their very lowest right now, and that reduces the supply of eggs, all other considerations to the side. Good to hear that pasteurisation sorts out the issues with that bug. Probably not a good experience to contract something new and exotic.

    The other day the el-cheapo pole saw and hedge trimmer turned up in the mail. Well, we assembled the beast of a machine today and put it to work on reducing the height of the two olive trees in the courtyard. They were beginning to grow so tall that they shaded the solar panels. Note to self: Much easier to prune regularly, than leave the job for a couple of years. 🙂 Anyway, the machine reduced the height of the trees, but far out, when three extension poles are added, that machine became hard work due to the sheer length of the cutting head. Oh well, I brought this poop down on my own head.

    We’re having a quieter time of work this week. There was a lot of paid work, so doing stuff around the property has to take a back seat. Hopefully tomorrow, I’ll feed all of the cuttings from the olive trees through the scary old wood chipper. It’s a cheap way to make low quality mulch, but at least I know that there are no herbicides in the stuff.

    Interesting, fuel taxes here are a federal thing so it’s pretty consistent across the country, although the distance to the nearest port or refinery adds a lot of cost to fuel due to sheer transport costs. Oh yeah, in some remote parts of the country, fuel is very expensive. It’s funny, but as time goes on we travel less, and so use less fuel. I do wonder how fuel costs are impacting upon households, especially given the preference for very thirsty large vehicles. I presume that your friends in Idaho have to drive a lot?

    I see your nor’easter, and raise you a black nor’easter (which I mentioned previously), not that I’d ever heard either term used before. Are they the same? Hey, it looks like the city of Sydney received a months worth of rain in a day. Always an exciting prospect. Looks like from tomorrow onwards, we’re back to a bit of rain everyday.

    Your words about the plum trees is pretty much what happened here last year. Hmm, frost, rain and wind can produce all sorts of problems with fruit set. Yup. Good luck, and all I know is to plant as wide a diversity of fruit trees and edible plants as possible. You’ll always get something. If you come up with a better response, I’ll be glad to hear of it. Oh, plus I know people living in warmer areas which dodge some of the weather extremes we get. They made jokes recently about swapping produce. Might not be a joke.

    Nice snag there! That’s true about fish, and you never know. I recall with horror the wedding reception we went to where the place served up stale fish. Must have been cleaning out the freezers. Revolting, and the Editor and I went halvies on the chicken. It was one of those receptions which serve up alternate fish / chicken meals. Far from impressed. I’m sure you’ve been to one or two such occasions over the years?

    It sounds like a good haul to me as well. Very wise to drip feed the Club pantry.

    Oh yeah, it’s an interesting topic. There’s a very good book about that topic by the author: Giulia Enders, titled ‘Gut: The Inside Story of Our Body’s Most Underrated Organ’. Quite readable, and always interesting. The book has a lot to say. Ha! You don’t expect much. Hehe! But of course, there are plenty of interests that would be financially harmed should the population do so. Who knows what might happen?

    I so hear you. Sometimes I try to open a dialogue with people about this very issue, and always back away slowly from the emotional response, even when they are clearly suffering. Change is hard man. Yup.



  23. Chris:

    Your European Wasps seems to be our European Wasps, which we nicknamed long ago “Super Hornets”. They are sometimes 2 in (5cm) long. I think they showed up at our house about 30 years ago. Some years there are quite a few of them and they can be a bit of an issue, but not as much as you have had. They eat hoards of small insects, gnats and such, hover outside the windows at night scooping them up, though they are out in the day also; I guess they take naps. They haven’t been too bad about eating the fruit. The last couple of years we have hardly had any of these wasps, so something is eating their larva, I guess. Boy, does it hurt to be stung by one.

    “When heated words stomp debate, there is no open discussion. If I may dare suggest, such experiences are when people’s egos are being challenged.” And you are threatening their sense of security, misplaced though it might be.

    Yes, our indoor-grown tomato plants go out in early May.

    A wood chipper is a wonderful thing. I don’t think we have one anymore.

    “The vapours” – you’ve been reading Georgette Heyer!

    Silverbeet doesn’t mind our winters at all. It doesn’t grow when it’s really cold, but picks up again during warmer spells.


  24. Yo, Chris – Then, there’s “The Body Farm.” The University of Tennessee has a world renowned forensic anthropology research and training, program. People donate their bodies to science and then “Decomposition of humans and animals can be studied in a variety of settings.” Insects play a big role. I watch so many mysteries. Often, a pathologist must establish as narrow a “time of death” as possible, to check everyone’s alibis. Pathologists often play quirky, secondary characters, in mysteries.

    Ah, yes. “Textured vegetable protein.” Usually made from some kind of soy product. Back in my starving student days, a lot of that was on offer, as it was cheaper than meat. You could dress it up, and make it pretty tasty. If ingredients are unfamiliar, it’s probably not something found in nature. 🙂

    I gave H some more eggs, last night. So far, so good, but I did catch her scratching her ears, once, yesterday. On the other hand, she scratches her ears, less than I scratch mine. 🙂 I went shopping at a regular grocery store last night. I picked up a dozen eggs. Price still wasn’t too bad. But then, we’ve got a lot of egg producers in the Pacific Northwest, and the bird flu hasn’t reached here yet. I did notice, when I cracked the eggs, that the shells were rather thin. Which may be a seasonal thing.

    We’ve been having overcast weather, with light rain, on and off. Nothing over the top.

    We have Federal and State taxes on our petrol. Our gas taxes aren’t the highest, in the nation. But, we’re in the top ten. A lot of the State tax goes to highways … and our extensive ferry boat system. Which a lot of people, who don’t use the ferries, object to.

    I was talking to someone about a good diet, the other day. And, made the point that it was something that I incorporated, over many years. Drop this, add that. You don’t have to plunge in, all at once.

    I watched another interesting documentary, last night. “Radical Wolfe.” About the author, Tom Wolfe. I think over the years, I’ve read most of his stuff.

    You may notice that Michael Lewis (“The Big Short”) is one of the talking heads. He gets extensive screen time. He was a friend of Wolfe’s, and Wolfe was kind of a mentor, to him. Lew

  25. Hi Chris,

    It hasn’t been a good week for garden work. Well, it was OK on Sunday and Monday. I sifted compost to add to the bed in which I’ll plant potatoes on Sunday, and I weeded a bed of herbs on Monday. But it was clear from the heat and high humidity on Monday that we would be getting thunderstorms at some point and that they would probably be severe. Indeed, severe storms rolled through in early evening, complete with a tornado warning. So we repaired to the bench seat that we keep in the basement under the stairs during the warning as we always do. Just a little hail at one point here, though there was a weak tornado about 20 miles away. But rain, yes, lots of rain, a total of 4.0 inches of it during the evening and overnight. We needed it!

    Then it got cold and windy on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, with a frost advisory last night and another one tonight. The apple and pawpaw trees are blooming. Hope the flowers don’t freeze. The only things I’ve planted so far are onion seedlings. Next week I’ll plant potatoes, lettuce, boy choy, cabbage, and cold-tolerant herbs. By the end of the month I hope to have the tomatoes, peppers, basil, and other warm-season plants in the ground. It warms up fast here!

    After next week’s solar eclipse, the next solar eclipse to cross the US lower 48 states is in 2044. Very unlikely I’ll still be around to see it. The country is solar eclipse crazy, with some big cities, most notably Dallas, in the path of totality. I’ll have a report on it next time I drop in.

    One of the good things about living in Missouri is our politicians won’t be making any laws to get rid of natural gas service, which we use for heating air and water. But a national law requires that air conditioner units will have to use a different refrigerant starting next year. This new refrigerant is somewhat flammable (the current one isn’t), which means more safety equipment will be required, adding several hundred dollars to the cost of AC units. Lenocracy rears its ugly head once again.


  26. Hi Pam,

    Purely for research purposes for the blog, I braved the white willow tree this morning and nabbed a reasonably close photo of one of the wasps. They’re pretty much exactly as you described. The worker wasps follow a cycle where they look for sugar, then move onto protein – i.e. the insects you mentioned. I’d observed the link between the wasps and the white willow tree, but not understood what was going on. Then I came across a short article written by a field naturalist on the observed connection which explained all. It’s worth a quick read:
    Observed connection between European wasps and willow trees
    . I believe that the lady is in Tasmania.

    And oh yeah, those stings hurt, and unlike honeybees, the rotters will go for multiple stings.

    All true, and people find security in their routines, even if those same things are self destructive. It takes a lot of sustained effort or pain to break such bad patterns.

    The same weather patterns work here as well. Tomatoes are indoors until our November, or your May. Late frosts are always a risk here.

    A bit of a shame that about a scary old wood chipper, but the machines are hard work too. There’ll be a photo of the thing in action.

    Did you know, I think Mrs Heyer may have remarked as well that her writing may have: allowed readers to escape from the mundane and difficult elements of their lives. Sometimes I chuckle away to myself when amusingly replying to the lovely comments here, and that’s kind of what I’m thinking. We’re all swimming in tragedy, but Alfred E Nueman lights the way forward when the skies are dark, and not necessarily from eclipses, although I’d imagine they’re super annoying for solar power production. Pam, if ever we all get truly bored here, one day I may reveal the infamous bubble article, although I’m not sure I own those words. 🙂

    I’ll watch the plants here to see how they cope with the winter months. Dunno.



  27. Hi Claire,

    Good stuff, sifting the compost is a very good idea. Yeah. Out of curiosity, are you continuing to add minerals to your compost heap? Most of the kitchen scraps here get fed to either the dogs, chickens or worms. You’ve had me thinking about soil mineralisation for a couple of years now, and the results are good, although soil testing is out of my reach. However, we have never had enough excess vegetation of any quality to make a compost pile. So, I’ve really had to think about this issue, and well, you’ll see the results in the next blog.

    You can feel an approaching monsoon, or thunderstorm can’t you? It’s a really oppressive build up. Good to hear that you were both unaffected by any tornado activity. I experienced a minor tornado, a real baby of a thing, and that was not a good experience. Four inches of rain is a real blessing for the garden though.

    Spare a thought for the city of Sydney in the state to the north of here. Some areas scored 286mm of rain in 48 hours. That’s 11.2 inches. Yikes: Man’s body found near reserve in Sydney’s west after rain and extreme weather hits NSW. And that wasn’t even the largest rainfall total.

    Glad to have only seen the very tail end of that particular storm. A light shower here. Earlier in the week we scored 3 inches of rain from a different storm. Ook!

    Youch. It hurts me to hear of late frosts when the apples and pawpaw trees are in flower. The apples and pears have been fine here the past couple of years, but stone fruit have been not good for that very reason. Fingers crossed the apples and pawpaws are OK. They’re one tough tree.

    I’ll be interested to hear your perspective of the solar eclipse.

    Ook! That’s a beautiful example of change. To put it simply, yes we can do this thing, but it’s going to cost more. It might interest you to know that I’ve been learning that particular lesson with the solar power system. Yes, the cheaper fuses can be used, but there are risks. What a fine joke, CFC’s were ditched for HFC’s due to the impact on the ozone layer, only to discover that HFC’s had other environmental impacts. And now HFC’s are on the chopping block for some other hydrocarbon-esque product. You’d hope that they know what they’re doing… Is the track record of that mob good?



  28. Hi Lewis,

    Oh, I’d forgotten about those. There’s maybe one or two of those farms down under. You’d imagine the stench would be considerable so I presume they’re located in out of the way places? Over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range there’s a bit of bushland, and in a very widely publicised murder case a body had been dumped there. Now what interested me about that, was that the whiff had been apparently occasionally noticed by some of the locals over there, yet nobody went to investigate. The dogs here would have checked it out for sure. And may have even returned with some err, bits. Possibly that would have involved phone calls.

    Dude, you’d probably have to be a very quirky individual with an unflappable sense of smell, to work in such a business. I’d imagine that the drop out rate for that form of employment would far exceed the average drop out rate of a first year Uni subject. 🙂

    That’s the stuff. Look I tried to like the stuff, and instead just settled on consuming vegetables and lentils (in their many types) instead. Obviously I didn’t try hard enough, but that was mostly because I was familiar with the alternatives. Have to laugh, years ago when we used to donate blood (it’s all volunteer down here with that), they’d sometimes ask me if I’d been to a barbecue the previous evening, and given I hadn’t, I began wondering about such matters. What we usually eat is not for everyone though, and I get that. Visitors seem to like the feed, but for some folks, we do cook meat, usually a decent chicken.

    That’s really funny about ‘not something found in nature’. Far out, thanks for the laughs with the well timed witticism. 🙂

    Very good, and at least we know what to do if you get the dreaded H ear infection. 😉 And you may have some left over medication… Dogs do scratch their ears, and sometimes I scratch their ears as well mostly because they seem to enjoy it. Has H managed to sort out her issues with Muffy, or has Muffy become H’s nemesis?

    The Editor tells me that eggs were out of stock last week, but that could be a temporary thing, dunno. Now that we’re getting closer to the winter solstice, the egg production has dropped to two or three per day. Not bad, and I haven’t seen any signs of the dreaded egg eating nonsense since I bopped the last miscreant about half a year ago. The surviving chickens appear to have either forgotten my actions, or forgiven me. Probably forgotten… But they do recall not to eat eggs. I sent a strong message that day. Anywhoo, the new laying box design is working beautifully, the chickens love it.

    Thin eggs is probably a sign the producers may be reducing calcium in the chickens diet? Dunno. I add a good quantity of finely ground sea shell grit to their feed, plus they get fresh greens every day of the year, so the yolks are large and the shells are firm. It could be a seasonal thing too. You’re in the lean time of the year.

    I had a couple of wheelbarrow loads of what was sold as compost, but was probably finely composted woody mulch. A lot of carbon in that stuff, and not much else. Anyway, I’d been wondering what to do with the stuff and so spread it around on now grassy, but future vegetable growing area. And also added a bit to the pumpkin enclosure, then tilled it in. One half of that enclosure has superb soil, whilst the other half is not so good. I got the tiller working hard on the rubbish half. No wonder the vegetables there were small this year. Oh well, might bring in some gypsum and also chuck on heaps of the coffee mixture. It’s starting to look better there, but it’s only a beginning.

    Also, I chipped up all of the olive tree prunings today. The scary old wood chipper did an amazing job, but the mulch is pretty low quality so I chucked it onto a garden bed near to the big tree fern. It’ll break down just fine.

    Ha! I’ll bet they complain about the ferry funding, unless they have to use them. 🙂 Similar things go on down here. Infrastructure is not cheap, and someone has to pay for it, otherwise it doesn’t come to be. I don’t hear of any complaints about the petrol tax, although the electric vehicle people are apparently dodging this tax by the simple expedient of not purchasing fuel. In a funny story, they got slugged with another tax instead, that was legally challenged and defeated. A lot of refunds apparently. Then another more compliant tax was apparently levied. You can’t fight city hall.

    Oh, that’s good. The truth can be revolutionary.

    Go Michael Lewis! I really enjoy the book: ‘The Big Short’; and re-read it every year or so just to supply a solid reality check. I can certainly see that relationship in his words. Michael takes you there to the moment as well. Any specific Tom Wolfe book recommendations? The titles are a hoot.



  29. Chris:

    That was an interesting wasp article. Thanks. We have no willows nearby, so that is not an issue. I wonder if our winters, colder than yours, are a reason that we are seeing less of them. I still suspect that something is eating their larva – bird, possum, different wasps. Anyway, I am grateful, though they can be helpful predators if there aren’t too many of them.

    I think I await the bubble article . . .


  30. Hi Chris,

    What I was going to report is pretty similar to Claire. We’ve gotten over 5 inches of rain and while fields were quite flooded it’s soaking in well as we in such a deficit last year.

    We’ll have a partial eclipse here so hopefully it will be clear. Cecily and the granddaughters are heading to Indianapolis tomorrow where it will be total. I hear hotels are going for $800/night if they’re even available.

    In line with JMG this week the town closest to us finally after many years have approved backyard chickens but with a $300 fee for 4 hens along with so many other onerous rules that I doubt many will go for it.


  31. Yo, Chris – I pick up all kinds of useful information, while watching all my mysteries. Such as, seasoned law enforcement officers, and pathologist carry a small jar of vapor rub. A little smeared under the nose, takes the edge of a particularly ripe crime scene. 🙂 Pathologists in ongoing series, are always interesting secondary characters. They really add a lot to some shows.

    Just out of curiosity, I checked out a popular vegetarian hippy cookbook, “Laurel’s Kitchen.” To see if they had anything to say about textured vegetable protean. Not much. Not even a page. Their opinion seemed to be, why bother when you can blitz up your own soy beans? I also checked “The Joy of Cooking.” They had more to say. “…a processor’s answer to prayer, a backpacker’s delight and a shopper’s caveat.” Had lots of statistics about the percentage of the stuff you could cut different kinds of meat, with. Didn’t really make any kind of value judgement. Except it didn’t shrink and there was little fat.

    Back in my starving student days, a bunch of fellows and I, sold our plasma, twice a week. They’d pump out a pint of whole blood, spin out the plasma, and then pump the red blood cells, back into us. Wash, rinse, repeat. They got a pint of plasma, we got our red blood cells back, and a bit of cash. A glass of orange juice and a biscuit. 🙂

    Muffy and H don’t cross paths, very often. Always exciting, when they do. 🙂

    Maybe your hens, didn’t like the egg eater, either, and were glad to see her gone? Mine had shell grit, on offer. And, they got rolled oats, yogurt and a cut up banana skin, every day. Spoiled, I know. Their egg shells were thick, and the yokes very orange / yellow.

    Yes, I think “compost” with too much woody mulch in it, was the problem with our communal strawberry patch, last year. Though the Master Gardeners defend the “compost” they brought in. There was one little patch of that stuff, that wasn’t covered by the tarp. You can see the many wood chips in it. Don’t pee on my shoe, and tell me it’s raining. 🙂

    Speaking of weather, it was raining when I took H out for her walk, this morning. We both got damp. Looks like more of the same, until about Wednesday. Then we have a few days of “partially sunny.”

    Hmmm. A Tom Wolfe recommendation? A lot of his books were very time and society specific. “The Electric Cool-Aid Acid Test,” is all about Ken Kesey, the author, and the psychedelic sixties. I think more to your taste would be “The Right Stuff.” About astronauts. General consensus is, the book was a lot better than the movie. His later novels were pretty good, but real door-stops. “Bonfire of the Vanities” is about the “greed is good” 1980s, the “Masters of the Universe,” (Wall Street Traders) and New York. “A Man in Full,” is: “The protagonist, Charlie Croker, is a megalomaniacal white Atlanta real estate developer whose empire, along with his identity, is hurtling toward bankruptcy. Meanwhile, a black football star at Georgia Tech, Fareek (the Canon) Fanon, is accused of raping the daughter of a prominent white Atlanta businessman.”

    I quit liked “Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers.” Which is actually, two shortish books, in one. I also quit liked “The Painted Word,” which was a scathing critique of the modern art market.

    I happened to see Elinor’s son-in-law this morning. He goes to the auction, and picked up 8 pieces of Wagner cast iron. He didn’t say how much he paid for them, but as he’s very … thrifty, probably not much. He said they came up late in the auction, after all the crazy money had been spent. 🙂

    I took in a few things to the Club pantry, yesterday. Someone had brought in a large quantity of tinned goods. Mostly, veg. Still not much tinned meat, stews, soups or fruit. Oh, well. I guess I can’t be all things to all people. 🙂 There was 8, one pound bags of shelled walnuts. I don’t often take things from the pantry, but I grabbed four of them, for myself. Dinner at the Club, tonight. Might be tacos. Might be something else.

    I’m reading Mr. Greer’s most recent post, and comments, with great interest. I did wonder, how the talk show host, Jay Leno, feels about his coining a new word. 🙂 The post pretty much sums up the gate keepers, disintermediation, middle managers … all that lot. May they go quietly into the night. I read your comments. You could have gone in a lot of different directions, but chose the housing construction. Where I thought you might head is your livelihood, but then, best not. There are a lot of poop-steerers out there, and probably a good deal of plain old jealousy, of success. The same people that play rounds of golf, while you move rocks. Lew

  32. Yo, Chris – A couple of interesting articles about the decline of restaurants and bars.

    I remember out in my nightlife / clubbing days, going to all night places up in NW Portland. After the bars closed at 2:30am. It was fun, and mad, and the waitresses were real troopers. Then there’s this …

    I think both articles have a lot to say about the overall economy. Lew

  33. Hi Pam,

    Glad you enjoyed the article, and it was very interesting to learn about the wasps lifecycle. Dunno, but I believe that the winters here are just cold enough to kill off the colonies, but it is possible they’re not cold enough to kill off the queens or brood. I just don’t know enough about the insect, but I have observed that they do better during drier and warmer summers. The two warm and dry months just gone by were perfect conditions for the wasps.

    Other than humans, they have no other predators down here that I’ve heard of. A bit of a shame that. For your interest, they’re more common over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, probably due to the simple expedient of their being more bins, more pet food, just great opportunities for a feed.

    The last colony I found here, we poisoned. But sadly the willow has to go as it will attract and feed the wasps every single year, you wait until you see what the wasps did to the mandarins…

    Hehe! The bubbles must wait. 😉



  34. Hi Margaret,

    It’s such a good time of year to receive a major dump of rain. If the season warms up from here, the crops will be off to a great start. And hopefully your area dodges the late frost risk that Claire mentioned? Late frosts are the bane of the stone fruit growing here, but at least we don’t grow for commercial purposes. Spare a thought for the local cherry farm folks who’ve had a bad run three, or maybe four years in a row now due to the weird climate.

    Is your local creek running now?

    Well done them, but accommodation at that price is a bit rich for my tastes. Hope they all enjoy the show the sun puts on for them.

    Margaret, I’m trying hard to work through the mechanics of a $300 annual fee for four chickens. My brain now hurts. What a fine joke. 🙂 If a person went for heritage breeds, I reckon that fee alone would make it around $0.80/egg, ignoring food costs and housing costs. It’s completely nuts, unless a person had deep pockets and didn’t care about such things.

    You have to laugh at such things, and you don’t have to wonder why I moved right out of urban areas…

    Possibly the fee is what I’d describe as a ‘go-away’ fee. Some will pay it, but my gut feeling says the take up will be low.

    When I decided to offer my professional services to the public almost sixteen years ago, the professional association limited my revenue (not profit) to a maximum of $20k a year for three years. Not much more says that they don’t want people making the choice I did who come from my business background. Far out.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the fascinating articles on the slow death of night life. I mentioned to you a few years ago that during the recession of the 90’s my friends and I used to do what was mentioned in the London article, we’d pre-load on drinks before heading out. That’s what you do when you’re broke. At least rents were cheaper then, but nowadays with rents being more than seven times what I used to pay in those days, no wonder people aren’t going out and buying drinks. Some really big festivals down here appear to have shut down. And oh yeah, the noise complaints are a real thing. Like, what kind of person lives near to the Sydney Opera House, and makes complaints about the noise? Who does that, but it happens. And so gigs get put on, and there are I believe three people monitoring the volume – meanwhile probably annoying the crap out of the sound engineer, and the promoter has to pay for these authoritas. The whole story makes no sense to me whatsoever, unless a person acknowledges the story that it’s inflation dude, and the excess dollars are slowly coming home to roost. What did everyone expect?

    So yeah, I absolutely agree with you. The articles do have a lot to say about what’s going on, on the streets.

    Cool. That sort of information is pure gold. Vapour rub, yeah I can see that. I’ll be the crime scene cleaners do something similar. They’re an interesting bunch, that’s for sure. Makes you wonder how you go home after a day’s work doing that stuff? You’d have to be able to compartmentalise the work, although I’d imagine a bit of self medicating might go on…

    Laurel’s Kitchen seems to be a classic, that I’d never heard of. Sounds interesting, although we’ve got a decent repertoire of vegetarian meals based around what we grow, and the seasons. Never heard of the Joy of Cooking either, although I can’t imagine that too many Saints slayed a dragon? I don’t make any value judgements about the stuff either, it just wasn’t for me.

    Oh really? I’d heard that plasma and blood were paid for in your country. Hmm. It’s all done on a donation basis down here. Incidentally, I stopped donating after they were short staffed and it took three hours one night, and the previous couple of visits were not as bad, but it was slowly getting up there. Hey, we got a party pie and milk shake for our efforts! The cash would have been acceptable…

    Very good, and hope that Muffy and H maintain a respectable distance in future. They might work out their differences?

    It’s funny you say that, but I do recall that the egg eater had a very bad attitude. Let’s just say that the chicken made a poor impression, and so had to go. Said in best psycho voice: “Let’s face it hen, you’ve always been a problem! Oh yes, your lot sound like they were living well. I remember you even had a light in there for warmth over the winter months.

    That’s possible. Man, it’s really hard to know what actually went in to making commercial compost. Even piles made at home may be no good, especially if people chuck in heaps of woody material. I’ll put in a photo of the pile which had sat there for over a year and a half – and you’d think if it was any good, the pile would be covered in weeds. But no. Oh no! Seems like there is a wide diversity of opinion as to how to feed strawberry plants, and that is one plant I’ve given up on. Alpine strawberries are easier, but less tasty.

    Towels are good for drying off. Hope you and H get some sunshine. We had both rain and sunshine here today. Didn’t make enough power from the sun to fully charge the batteries, but we were using a lot of electricity baking dog food, bread, biscuits, vacuuming etc. Probably less than the average household though! 🙂

    Thanks for the thoughtful book recommendation! The Right Stuff, it is.

    What? Do people not know what is up for auction in advance? I guess folks in the know, know what they’re doing.

    You can always think about the pantry competition as a good kind of thing. All in a good cause. Maybe if one of those tins was beetroot slices, well, there are occasionally burgers produced at the Club. 🙂 Did they outperform your shrimp tacos? Nice score with the walnuts.

    Puts a whole new spin on one’s ancestors, doesn’t it? 🙂 Thanks for the gentle prod, and it’s all now corrected, yeah. A thoroughly enjoyable whinge, and the circumstances were not like that when I first started my business 16 years ago. But of course, you’re absolutely correct there.



  36. Hi Lewis cont…

    Almost forgot to mention. Did a second seasoning on the new carbon steel frypan today, and wow, clearly the surface needs a few more such treatments before it is ready to go out into the world. But dude, it’s looking good.

    And also, the shoe scene was a poignant bit of story telling, and I’d not previously realised such things happened. But on reflection knowing in advance how to navigate such incidents is a handy thing. But yes, how does one confront such confrontational lies?

    Cheers and better get writing.


  37. Yo, Chris – Are you griped? 🙂 I see a journalist defamation case is “gripping Australia.”

    According to reports, a local tire store had to move, due to noise complaints. So, down to the flood plain they went, beyond the round-about-of-death. We also have a night time entertainment venue, here, that set up in an old theatre. There have been noise complaints on that front, too. Gee, maybe I should start whinging about all the noise in our parking lot?

    What I find particularly useful about “Laurel’s Kitchen Cookbook” (among many useful things) is in the back, is a section of nutritional information on all kinds of basic foodstuffs. Fruit, veg, grains, you name it. Great easy to understand charts. “Joy of Cooking” is also a classic. Though I prefer the older edition that I have. When I’m investigating some new recipe or another, I consult my good old Betty Crocker, “The Joy of Cooking,” and “Laurel’s Kitchen.” “Joy of Cooking” is really encyclopedic. Someone once gave me some crabs. Did I know how to clean them? Of course not. But there it was, in the “Joy of…” .

    Blood is also donated, here, but demand does not keep up with supply. I can’t donate blood, due to a nasty case of Hepatitis B, back in the 1970’s. No organ donations, either.

    H has a Very Special Towel, that I use for drying her off. Me, I just drip dry. 🙂

    I didn’t use the chicken light, 24/7. As some commercial outlets do. Just enough extra light to keep them laying, a bit, through the winter. And, on a timer, so it came on during the coldest part of the night.

    I notice when I was out walking H this morning, that my radishes are beginning to show. And, some of the garlic I planted.

    The auction posts a lot of pictures, on-line. Then there’s the “preview” for two hours before the auction starts. Where you can give a close examination of whatever you’re interested in. But you never know in what order the items will hit the block. It’s the auctioneers art. Keeping a good mix, so interest remains high.

    Tacos vs shrimp nachos? Two different things, both equally tasty.
    We had tacos, last night. They were very good.

    I watched an interesting documentary, last night. “Elemental: Reimagine Wildfire.” One of the talking heads, early on, said something that I can’t exactly remember. But my thought was, it’s like modern medicine. Fighting wildfires is like treating symptoms, not underlying causes. There were bits about indigenous people down around Klamath, Oregon, doing burns. And, the different kinds of forest management. But the bottom line 🙂 was, it’s how you construct and defend structures, that makes the difference.

    OK. I give up. Shoe story? What shoe story? Maybe when you worked for the shoe factory, early on? Maybe something in Mr. Greer’s blog? I haven’t read all the comments, yet. Only up to 232.

    But, as much as one can complain about the letology, I really don’t think they’re going anywhere, until civilization unravels. Which brings about its own set of new problems. Lew

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