What the sun gave me

Turns out, the sun didn’t give all that much energy today. And it was less than the day before. That’s how the energy from sunlight rolls for about three weeks either side of the winter solstice. The sun is low in the sky and winter is cloudy, it’s that simple. Smarter people than myself are betting industrial civilisation as we know it, on this energy from sunlight technology. All you can hope is that they know something more about all this stuff, than what my experience suggests. It’s good, but not good enough to meet most peoples present requirements.

Thick low clouds hang over central Victoria

Maybe tomorrow if the sun does another no-show, we might have to drag out the generator and run it for about six hours to get some charge back into the house batteries. That amount of time will require about six litres of petrol (about 1.5 gallons of gasoline). It’s not much fuel really, but the numbers would get worse if we used a whole lot more electricity. Our household needs are modest, but even those occasionally aren’t met by the winter sun.

Long term readers will know that every couple of weeks, Sandra and I will head off on a journey to an hours drive north, and check out some of the old gold mining relics littered around the land. The industrial relics are a solid reminder that few things last indefinitely, and it’s hard to escape the conclusion that ever so slowly, the forest reclaims all.

This week, we visited the ‘Red, White and Blue mine’, which is literally out in the middle of nowhere. Despite being off the beaten track, it was not too hard to find. The deep shaft produced a lot of gold when the mine was worked between the early 1850’s to the 1950’s. Eventually the costs for removing the constant water ingress into the mine, exceeded the benefits from the gold recovered. And as the prescient poem Ozymandias suggested, all good things, no matter how great, come to an end.

All that’s left today from the productive mining activity is the poppet head and several impressive mullock heaps.

An intact poppet head stands over a very deep mine shaft

Standing over the steel grate with the long drop beneath me, kind of made my head swim. The thought: How good are these welds really? popped into my head, and it was at that very moment I decided it would be wiser to view the depths of the mine shaft from more solid ground.

Back in the 1950’s a steam boiler was used to supply the energy to a water pump. The pump sucked water out of the bottom of the mine, which allowed mining activities to continue. In those days, getting diesel fuel, let alone electricity to the remote site would have been a fine joke. Eventually, the water won that battle, and so the mine was abandoned. Presumably the buildings and anything else which could have been recovered, were removed. The poppet head was probably a step too far.

I’d imagine that there’s more gold to extract deep in the quartz veins which lay beneath my feet on that day, but it’s just not economic to extract. Engineering and economic issues killed the mine, not the lack of gold.

However, it was of interest to me to observe just how much the arid Box-Ironbark forests had recovered over the past 70 years. After a century of mining, I doubt those forests had any top soil left to speak of, let alone any interested humans bringing in hundreds of cubic metres of mulches and composts to repair the soils at a remote location. Or perhaps even coffee grounds? Nope, that clearly hadn’t happened at the mine site, but all the same, the forest still had some quite large trees for that particular variety of Eucalypt. One of the Red Ironbark trees had some amazing looking fire resistant thick bark.

The thick bark of a Red Ironbark tree

The old mining dams may have contained who knows what minerals, and yet there was a fair bit of bird life in the area. For them, the water would have been a good resource. Purely for research purposes for the blog, we poked the water with sticks to see whether any leeches were attracted to the movement, but none turned up.

It never ceases to amazes me just how many abandoned mining relics there are scattered about this corner of the country. I believe that there are some active gold mines operating in the state, and why not? If it’s economic to extract the stuff, I say go for it. But few mining operations can operate at an economic loss for very long, so it is hardly a major industry in this state any more. The recently announced continent wide $300 subsidy per household on electricity bills should give people pause for consideration as to what that actually means.

There’s an interesting article on how low grade mineral finds invariably work out, but this time in relation to a uranium discovery north and west of here: We found a uranium mine in the Victorian goldfields

But back to the farm. Whilst we were a bit short of electricity at this wintry time of the year, we aren’t cold. With at least ten thousand trees on the property, most of which grow a metre per year, there’s heaps of firewood.

The fluffies congregate around the wood heater on a cold winters day

Firewood is our cheapest heating fuel, mostly because the resources are local, the equipment is cheap and our time is free. Natural gas is another good heating fuel which we don’t use. In this state demand for gas has either outstripped supply, or will very soon. But also, that energy source isn’t local, so the bottles are very expensive to have delivered here. Electricity can be used for heating as well again which we don’t do. Heating through electricity uses a surprisingly large amount of that energy. But regardless, if the sun doesn’t shine, we have no way to generate a lot of electricity for the usual purposes, let alone heating with the stuff when we’d need it the most.

The funny thing is, the limits we experience with energy, are based on the systems that many folks are championing. I no longer even wonder if those desires are a good or bad idea, I simply wonder how people will cope with the sharp limits forced upon them by their very choices.

A bit of work was done this week cleaning up the various vegetable growing beds and getting them ready for spring. Asparagus dies back over winter, and so the many fronds were fed into the electric chipper chopper.

Asparagus fronds were fed into the electric chipper chopper

Heavy rain was forecast for later that day, so we hauled the chopped up asparagus and stored it out of the weather. It was thrown onto the new garden bed the next day. It looked like the world biggest baggie!

The ever vigilant Dame Plum protects the worlds biggest baggie!

Before the rain hit, there was a trailer load of mushroom compost to distribute, and we were also able to mix up the coffee grounds this time with Agricultural lime + Blood and Bone meal.

Lot’s of yummies for the soil

The three raised asparagus beds were thoroughly weeded. Oxalis for some reason grows in among the spears, and is almost impossible to remove when the plants are growing.

These raised Asparagus beds are getting weeded

Due to the heavy feed of Blood and Bone meal, the coffee ground soil feed mix was a lot lighter than usual, kind of like a Caffè latte colour.

The coffee ground mix went onto many of the raised beds

On top of that already good soil, a thick layer of mushroom compost will protect the asparagus crowns from the worst of the winter weather, and will also then give them a solid feed when they begin growing again next season. In early spring I’ll chuck some rock salt onto the soil surface, but that’s it.

Ruby admires the aroma of mushroom compost

The rest of the mushroom compost was spread over the garden rows in the sapling fenced enclosure. That enclosure has the best and deepest soil on the property. Other than weeding, that area is ready to go for next season.

The sapling fenced enclosure has been very well looked after

Years ago we planted strawberries in the grape vine cage. It’s an actual cage which excludes the parrots, because with only ten vines, those birds would eat all of the grapes. And the vines produced many weeks of very tasty fruit earlier this year. There are plenty of other things for the parrots to eat. Anyway, back to the strawberries. It was a bad idea growing them in the cage, because in the rich soil, all the plants ever did was produce more plants. I now treat the strawberry runners like the weeds they are. All of them are regularly removed with the brush cutter. That job was done this week.

The many strawberry runners were removed from the grape vine cage

In another week or so, I’ll prune the vines to give them a better shape.

Regular readers will recall the recent canine dramas with mushrooms of uncertain toxicity. Anyway, we continued cleaning up the loggers mess in that area this week. With so many logs on the ground, it hardly surprises me that there was a lot of mushroom mischief. Back in the day when the mountain range was logged and most likely after the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires when burnt logs were salvaged, the loggers used bulldozers and chains, and that ripped over many other trees which were never intended to be cut down, and it is those which litter the forest floor providing all the feed for the fungi.

A burn off at the forest edge

Burn off’s are hard work, and we even had to remove yet another upside down stump. It was located next to the seriously leaning tree you can see in the below photo. That job was a bit exciting, and tensions were high, but I can report that nobody was injured in the work.

That’s what hard work looks like

The heavy rain also brought a wind storm. Some alpine parts of the state had near record wind gusts, and I’d not be surprised if that wasn’t the case here as well, but in a very concentrated spot on the farm. One big tree toppled, and took out two other big trees. All of the trees were thrown by the strong wind gust with some considerable force.

A whole lot of wind damage

Trees can sheer and split away from the trunk. It’s almost as if the wind wielded giant chainsaws. The weak point of the tree is usually at a join, and if water gets in, sometimes termites and wood grubs take up residence. Many of the birds around here open up any holes in trees seeking these tasty fat grubs, and that simply makes the tree weaker.

A close up of the termite and wood grub damage

The lighter yellow / orange mud in the above photo is probably termite and grub poop. The trees were big, but the winds must have been bigger that stormy night.

A lot of mess to clean up

Onto the flowers:

Flowers of a different sort, probably very toxic
Salvias are coming to the end of their flower season
A very confused Lavender. The plants self seed here
Leucodendrons love the winter weather
This Escalonia is a very hardy and attractive bush

The temperature outside now at about 11am is 6’C (42’F). So far for last year there has been 413.0mm (16.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 377.0mm (14.8 inches)

33 thoughts on “What the sun gave me”

  1. Yo, Chris – Well, people’s present energy requirements will just have to be adjusted, won’t they? 🙂

    The Romans had several methods used, to keep water out of their mines. Archimedes screw, water wheels, bucket pulleys and Ctesibius (of Alexandria, 3d cent. BCE) pumps. Somewhere, I’ve seen a picture of the remains of a Roman wheel, in a mine. Like a big hamster wheel. Powered by slaves.

    I still don’t see the connection between dolls heads, and mine structures. A glance in the rabbit hole, was unenlightening. Mine head frames have several names. I’m partial to “gallows frame.” 🙂 The picture is a bit reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower.

    I knew I’d seen something similar to Red Iron bark. Our cotton wood trees have a similar texture.

    That was an interesting article on uranium hunting. Well I remember the great uranium rush, in the 1950s. My dad was caught up in it, a bit. He had a geiger counter, and a mineral light. I had his old rock pick, for years. Don’t know what became of it.

    I thought the article was wizard, how they superimposed the old photos, over current day shots of the same areas.

    One wonders where you picked up your knowledge, of green vegetative material and baggies. Probably, best not to ask. 🙂

    You’re really buttoning up, for winter. You’ll really appreciate that tasty asparagus, some spring.

    I wonder if your trees were knocked over by a down blast? It happens.

    The flowers, as always, are lovely. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Agreed, expectations will have to (and are already doing so) bend with realities. The funny thing about it all, is that the most noisy of folks appear to have very little comprehension as to the realities of their demands. Thus why I mentioned engineering and economic concerns trumping ideology. If they only knew… 😉 But then, that’s the entire problem. I’d originally intended to write something about the historical follies of working in bullshit jobs (which had been on my mind all week), because if you can do that for a living, when historically 90% of the population was involved in subsistence agriculture, to my mind the question then becomes: What else do such folks believe? But then the essay took it’s own direction. I blame it on the vagaries of creativity, or maybe society. 🙂

    The Archimedes screw is still very much in use today in augers, which is the fancy name for wide soil drills. It’s the same principle. Little wonder Ctesibius was in dire financial straits because most of the leading Greek gentleman of the day seemed to sport impressive facial hair, so his trade as a barber was probably not all that lucrative. I think I’ve seem drawings of the Roman hamster wheel slave pump. That would be hard work. The ram pump that Ctesibius came up with is a very clever device.

    It’s lost on me as well, but that’s what the mine lift mechanisms were called. What? I’d not heard of that gallows name being used, it’s a bit dark and ominous sounding really, and would hardly be comforting for those folks being lifted up and down the mine shaft. It’s probably true that very few people have willingly stepped into the gallows.

    The cottonwood bark is very similar, I see what you mean. The bark was as thick as cork oak bark. It’s an adaption to regular fires, which would have been more regular way back in the day. In that area, the authoritas had done a bit of a vegetation management burn, and it looked like they’d done a good job under ideal weather conditions because most of the tree canopy was unburned.

    We did a day of firewood work today. The old loggers rounds we identified and cut in the crazy dog area were split then hauled back up the hill for drying. The dogs were unable to accompany us today whilst we worked for obvious reasons – like that area being the Bermuda, err, sorry, Mushroom Triangle.

    You know, I’d never heard that there was a uranium hunting rush. The article was awesome, and glad to read that you enjoyed the story. I liked how the old photos were super imposed over the new photos as well.

    Well since you asked… In my share house days, one house mate used to allege that he’d err, dealt with such substances, possibly for fun and profit. It’s hard to know the truth of such large tales, but as a wide eyed young and naive bloke just out of home, who was to argue as to the truth of the matter? Gave the household a kind of raffish colourful backdrop.

    I like to get the soil fertilisation in early so that plants can get off to a good start when spring finally arrives.

    Hey, that’s what I was thinking too with the down draft. The tree destruction was pretty intense in a really focused spot. The broken trees were really thrown around. Did I mention Ollie heard the tree smooshing incident? He began barking in the middle of the night to alert us to something strange was going on outside. Clever dog. Officially I believe weather events are technically known as: ‘severe convective downbursts’, and earlier in the year such weather took out six massive electricity towers. It can happen.

    Wine making and solving crime! What’s not to like about that combination? 🙂 The Editor is intrigued by the Father Brown mysteries, and she’ll find her way to the spin off series. A better use of chemistry knowledge than the dude in Breaking Bad who also had a background in chemistry. I had to stop watching that show halfway through the series because the storyline went in directions I’d never have gone in, and it used to stress me out. There was a pivotal moment in the series, and I thought to myself: That just makes no sense why anyone would do that. People loved the show though.

    Ook! I’d imagine that there may be a few parallels to that chart at some unspecified point in the future. Makes you wonder if the Assyrians and Babylonians at the crisis point in their civilisations just knuckled down to the hard work required to survive in a very difficult time in history? Kind of reminds me of how the European aristocracy took up an interest in agriculture immediately following the Black Plague. Prior to the plague, the European population had been quite hungry for two years, although whether that was due to strip mining of the soils for centuries, or just a run of bad weather, who knows? But afterwards, I believe it became a thing to be knowledgeable about agriculture for the aristocrats. Problem solving at it’s finest. I doubt many of them know what a pitchfork is these days.

    I’ve heard of people making mistakes in a workplace, but with a king who was familiar with sending people to the chopping block, you’d really want to be super careful. Look what happened to Thomas Cromwell. Anne of Cleves ended up quite lucky indeed to have escaped the worst dramas of that court, and had some serious freedom afterwards. The loose talk of the portrait not living up to reality has been challenged. It could be said that Henry VIII enjoyed his first, seconds, thirds etc… He may have had a seeping wound, but he clearly enjoyed his food.

    I look forward to hearing the tale of the picture bride. I’d never heard of such a thing, but now I think of it, are dating apps people use nowadays any different? It is perhaps difficult to detect a sparkling personality when all there is to be seen is a photo and a few lines of text! 🙂 Such things weren’t around when I was a young buck.

    Holy carp, that sounds like there’ll be a shoot-out at the O.K. Club house! (I’m not sure what that means, but it sounds cool) Sorry to hear of the dramas, and hopefully the leadership roles are filled with competent characters. What, yelling? Too much high emotions for me as well.

    Well, the problem with taking on a lot of debt, is that eventually the creditors will come-a-knocking. Who knows what assets may be sold? Part of the state roads licensing body was I believe, sold off. Did anyone ask the citizens if that was what they wanted to happen? Honestly, your medical system scares the daylights out of me. I’ll bet there are people who need the services, but won’t step one foot inside such a place due to the dire financial consequences.

    Oh yeah, Professor Mass wrote about the atmospheric rivers. Did it flood?

    The weather here today was cold, cloudy but dry. Just the kind of winters day (after a string of such days) which requires the generator. Noisy thing. Oh well.

    What a book. Lewis, I’m almost tempted, but will wait to see what you have to say about it. What was the bloke doing in the Yukon of all places, presumably beforehand?

    Good to hear that the head is clearer. No, none of us will miss the err, gunk! 🙂



  3. Hello Chris
    Fascinating read this week. I love to hear about Australia’s past history.

    There was a tremendous noise out on my decking the other day. Son’s goats had arrived there. One of them was up on a cluttered table, not an item was damaged or even moved. They certainly are sure footed. I rang Son. Half way down to me, he called them and they all raced to him. The pigs certainly wouldn’t do that.

    That post office horror here was many more people than 700. I believe that the current figure is more like 9,000. One would have thought that such a vast number would have indicated something other than theft.
    Apparently each person was told that they were the only one.


  4. Hi, Chris,

    I have two large plantings of asparagus in my front yard, and have been eating from them for more than five years now. I also have oxalis in those beds, which requires constant monitoring to keep it down.

    Your fall chipping of the fronds interests me, because I can see that it’s mostly green plant matter that you are dealing with, and just a little bit of yellowed fronds. Everything I read tells me to wait until the fronds are yellowed from frost before I cut them down, and every fall I grow very impatient waiting for that to happen, while the jungle of asparagus gets quite messy and unsightlier by the day.

    But I don’t want to lose any of the necessary effects of photosynthesis that continues to happen. Conceivably, in my temperate zone it could go on and on and on… which it does! But places with a shorter frost-free season must have good success with their crops, especially if they feed the beds. My question is, how do you decide when the time is right to cut the stalks/fronds down?

  5. Yo, Chris – Yes, it was probably society, that derailed your blog topic.
    🙂 Tip of the hat, to “Repo Man.” I have to say, whoever came up with that scene was a bit of a genius. The guys bleeding to death on the floor, and all you want to do is laugh your a– off.

    One wonders how much of the low tech (but useful) tech will be lost, in the next dark age. And, eventually, have to be reinvented, again. What’s that old saying about reinventing the wheel? And then there’s ram pumps. Though you need a good fall of water.

    We used to visit Nebraska and Montana, when I was a kid. Lots of cottonwood trees, there. We’d usually go at the time of the year when they were “blooming”, and the “cotton” filled the air.

    There were all kinds of get rich schemes, in the 1950s. It was mostly “men’s” magazines, that spread all kinds of tales. If not subscribed to, available at your local barbershop. On newsstands. Available at the local chemist. Then there was the whole “western” magazine, genre. “True West” and “Frontier Times” were the biggies. Replete with tales of lost treasures. “The Lost Dutchman’s Mine,” the “Lost Blue Bucket Mine,” etc.. “Popular Mechanics” and “Popular Science” were a bit more restrained, but did their bit, too.

    Funny, but the same word occurred to me. “One of Chris’s old raffish housemates.” 🙂

    The Assyrians and Babylonians pretty much kept things afloat, through conquest. Occasionally, they even came to the aid of each other. I finished the book, last night.

    I really should read a good biography, of Anne of Cleaves. My take on her, was that she was sensible … and jolly. A real sunny disposition. Henry VIII later referred to her as a “beloved sister.”

    Sooo. Picture brides. The Finn guys would go out to Minnesota, and start establishing farms. Then they’d write home to their pastors, and ask them to look around for a suitable young woman, who might want to immigrate to America. Correspondence was established, pictures were exchanged, and, eventually, the young lady would head for America. So it was with the great (great?) grandparents. Sort of. Passage was arranged, a ticket was purchased. Only good for one passage, on one ship, on one particular day. Well … The young lady in Finland fell ill. And couldn’t make the trip. But! She had a twin sister. Guess who came to America? Given the state of communications, in those days, I often wonder at what point great grandfather discovered the switch?

    Every time I took H out, for a walk, yesterday, we got thoroughly drenched. There was a break in the weather, this morning. The Master Gardeners showed up, and I visited with them, for awhile. Don’t know how long they lingered, as it’s now pouring down rain. Though the second atmospheric river isn’t due, until tonight. Radar looks clear, for this afternoon.

    But, Wednesday and Thursday will be sunny, and in the 70s. The weekend, into the 80s. Summer might maybe, be here. Lew

  6. Hi Inge,

    Thanks, and I appreciate that you are enjoying the history from this corner of the world. Truly, as I stood upon that steel grate with the dark abyss of the deep mine shaft clearly to be seen beneath my feet, your words about such things being heavily fenced off if they were in the UK, passed across my mind. 🙂 Most of these sites are quiet which increases the enjoyment.

    Ha! That’s an indication of natural intelligence if ever I’ve heard of one. What a surprise you must have had to see the goats mucking around on the decking. And I’d not known that goats would respond to voice commands. The dogs much like the pigs, would have been less sure footed, and left more mess. Goats are clearly a noble creature.

    I must say, when in the big end of town there was always a duty of disclosure, which I followed to the letter. What this means in practical terms, is that if there is an unexplained variance of $50k or more, it has to be disclosed to senior management, every month until it is investigated and resolved. Nobody every got into trouble for disclosing such unexplained variances, and senior management could direct the appropriate resources to investigate the matter. That’s what a healthy system of internal controls looks like.

    Now, I have not delved into any of the details of the post office UK scandal, however, if what you say is true, then that appears to be a very serious misrepresentation, possibly criminal.

    A healthy response would be to recognise a pattern, conduct some on the ground audits, and investigate the accounting system. That would not be hard to do. No system is ever perfect, and there is always some margin of error, but to ignore a large pattern of signals is very suggestive of the culture in that organisation. It does not reflect well upon them, and all we can hope for is that a strong example is set.



  7. Hi Joanna,

    Hope you season is going well. And how good is Asparagus? The spears form part of our diet from about October to March. Yum! And in recent years I grill them in the electric oven, and they’re very tasty.

    You’d think that the added rock salt to the soil in the asparagus raised beds would kill off the oxalis, but no, they thrive. Early in the season we remove those plants, but after a while some of the spears turn into fronds, and before you know it, the beds are thickly vegetated. The oxalis gets removed at the end of the season when the fronds are cut back and mulched. If there was an easier way… 🙂

    Honestly, I have no idea whether cutting the fronds down at this stage of the year when there is a mix of yellow, but mostly green fronds is the correct thing to do. However, it’s been my observation that a lot of plant advice which is handed down as lore, has it’s origins with the commercial growers.

    You and I have no need to harvest every single spear, and in my experience plenty of spears are too thin to harvest, so we let those grow into fronds. The fronds obviously harvest energy from sunlight, which then gets fed into the thick root systems. The fatter spears from the same crowns get harvested, and here we both are years later with enough production for our needs, with more to come in future years.

    Like you, I watch the mess build up, then see the yellowed fronds flop over to the ground. How much energy and minerals am I losing by cleaning up the beds early? I don’t really know, although it would be some. What I do know is that the plants seem to do really well each year, so I’m unfussed.

    What I may have to eventually do, after many years, is to thin the beds with a sharp shovel, if they become too crowded with the crowns root systems. I believe that is what causes the asparagus beds to begin to reduce their output. Some folks have suggested to ruthlessly cut back any fronds with those red seeds as well, but I lack the vigilance for such work.

    As to your question, well my decision is based upon the observation that there is already a percentage of yellow fronds, and there is additionally little likelihood of any further spears being produced. That’s when. Dunno, I could be wrong, but I can see some little advantage from waiting until the bed is completely done for the season, but really are either you or I gardening at a point in history when we really have to extract those last few percent from the existing plants? I don’t think so, look at how much I fed those beds! Our forebears would drool with envy at access to such minerals!

    I think Claire pointed out a week or two back that the most important thing was to improve the phosphate content of our soils, but really, improving most mineral deficiencies is probably the best thing any edible gardening person can do right now at this time in history.

    I trust your most excellent question was fully answered. 😉



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the report from the ‘what could possibly go wrong’ view! My comprehension of such lending arrangements is that it is the responsibility of the lender to exercise prudence, but you know, the whole market is predicated on artificially placing pressure on demand. Ponzi schemes have been known to do such things as well. What’s with the side articles? You’ve retired. Can you get a mortgage — and should you? I had to read it because I wasn’t entirely certain it was serious. Honestly, I started getting a headache reading that article. My brain literally hurts! What fun times we live in. I wonder what the benefit is in creating a small portion of the loan that attaches permanently to the borrower? Obviously though, those thing will come back to haunt the folks taking upon such obligations.

    That scene in Repo Man was a classic. I know what you mean, it shouldn’t be funny, but can anyone argue with the line: “You’re gonna be alright man. Maybe not” And after all the mayhem the protagonist still tried to chat up the female shooter Debbie, as you do. Just rewatched the scene. So very wrong, but then the entire film was warped. The film has a fascinating history, and I’d not known that the actors were able to perform improvs in the scenes. It was a crazy film, but works. I’ll bet the actors had some fun on that set.

    I wonder about such things as well. Mostly because a lot of the exotic materials we use without a moments thought, and not to mention the super fine tolerances of many of the machines, would make crafting them on a small scale quite problematic. Guess, quite a lot will eventually be lost, but you’d hope some of the more useful stuff makes it through? Maybe not, to quote Repo Man! There’s plenty of useful stuff like ‘germ theory’ which doesn’t take much effort to carry forward into the future. People will take that more seriously when they have to. I treat all wounds with an alcohol wash, and have known of a few people to go down badly with septicaemia. Not something you’d want, and it’s not hard to wash wounds.

    Far out! All that cotton pollen in the air would make it difficult to breathe properly. When the tall forest trees were producing more pollen that I’ve ever seen before, that was difficult, but you adapt. Those travels as a kid would have been a hot experience due to the summer sun in those states, or were they? Nobody had air conditioning when I was a kid, although some cars did – it was an option for new cars back in the day and added a bit to the sticker price. Back then you’d have these triangular windows on the doors, but near to the windscreen, and when opened, you’d get a blast of outside air into the cabin when driving at speed. Those things worked.

    Hehe! Yeah, I’m hardly surprised. Imagine going fossicking for uranium though like those blokes in the article? It’s quite the feat really, and wow, they must have been able to read the land simply to even discover the low grade deposit. And imagine how much traversing of the land they did over the years to have made the recognition? It’s impressive. We’ve got similar stories down under: Lasseter’s Reef. The story has sent people into the remote outback for a century or more. Even after he died, the bloke was still causing a public nuisance because his body was buried a few times.

    My thinking about get rich quick schemes is that if they’re being sold, the claims never state whom it was getting rich. The seller or the purchaser? Treasure maps should be handled with a healthy dose of cynicism.

    Raffish sums up that entire share house. Lot’s of fun, but no security bond was ever seen again.

    What an interesting history. So the Assyrians and Babylonians were kind of the same peoples, but divided along what looks like functional lines. No wonder the two supported each other.

    Anne of Cleves appears to have forged an actual relationship with people, and then enjoyed her subsequent freedom. It was of interest that very early on the lady took an interest in Henry’s favourite card games. Not a bad idea to be good company. I can’t even begin to imagine the sort of dramas people in that elite air would bring to the table, but card games and having fun, is probably the neglected middle ground. Best of all would to be out of reach of their machinations. Probably the safest bet.

    Ha! What a fine story. Twins… Your great grandfather had clearly reconciled himself to the switch. 🙂 It would be a hard man that would send the switched twin bride back to Finland, and clearly he was not that kind of a dude. Thanks for the story. Was the story part of your families lore? i.e. was it openly spoken about?

    Horrid sounding weather, and you’re recovering from a cold. Was the second atmospheric river bad? Or is it yet to arrive?

    Another crazy cloudy day today. We’re not making much power, but the rain has held off. Oooo! There is sun in the forecast for Thursday and Friday. We’ll see. The weather conditions in the city of Sydney (in the state to the north) look rather damp as they’ve had over three feet of rain so far this year. I’d call that wet, yeah. Sydney hits one metre of rain four months ahead of schedule. Bet they’ve had a lot of cloud too.

    Your summer weather forecast for later this week sounds nice to me.



  9. Yo, Chris – In case you haven’t heard about a fossil discovery, in your part of the world …


    Ugly creature. But then, so are turkeys. I wonder if they tasted like chicken? 🙂 A bird that big, would feed a lot of people. Next, they’ll be searching for eggs.

    While I was reading about Lassiter, it occurred to me that real estate drives people as mad as stories about lost gold. I’d missed that side bar article. People assume a lot of things will go right.

    What can I say? “Repo Man” is a cult classic. Speaking of possible cult classics, I notice that our library is getting copies of “Blast from the Past.” Which I enjoyed, when it came out. Wonder if it will hold up?

    Speaking of exotic materials, I finally got back to “Why We Die” (Ramakrishnan, 2024.) I’m skimming through large parts of it. DNA, RNA, telomeres. I’ve got a basic grasp of all that stuff. Slowed down a bit, when it came to animals. Some of whom live longer than us. And birds live longer than mammals, of similar size. Why? Because they can fly to escape predators.

    What really brought me up short, was, a discussion of nitrates, and the artificial creation of such. For such useful things as explosives and …. fertilizers. The author states, “Interestingly, almost half of the nitrogen atoms in our bodies went through a Haber-Bosch high-pressure steam chamber that converted atmospheric nitrogen to ammonia for use in fertilizers, which then ended up in the food we ate and became incorporated into ourselves.” That’s almost as interesting as plastic shards, in the family jewels. 🙂

    We always hit the road, on vacation, the afternoon of the last day of school. It was hot, where we went, but it was early enough in the year, that things were still green.

    Those wing windows were really nifty. Our night manager, Chad, recently had his “new” car, bumped in the parking lot. So, it’s in the shop and he has a loaner. Something called a “Genesis.” He’s quit taken with it. Pointed out the seven (7!) cameras, on the thing. I commented that to me, that was seven things that could go wrong. Young folks do love their tech. 🙂

    I mentioned I finished “After 1177 B. C.” I wondered if he’d get around to recommending paths forward, as far as … softening the collapse, that’s sure to come. (Not if, but when.) It’s way to extensive to quote here, but if you search “Societal lessons learned from the LBA collapse and aftermath?” there’s some pretty good summaries.

    Our library doesn’t have any good biographies on Anne of Cleves. Just a couple of novels. But, they’re out there. So, I can either buy one, or get one on interlibrary loan.

    Oh, when I was young, I generally poked about in the family history. I don’t remember any reticence about those stories. But then, my mother was pretty chatty about skeletons in the family closet. 🙂

    Well, yesterday, H and I got lucky, and there were clearing periods, from time to time. Same, this morning. Though we’ve got a bit of wind. Gusts in the mid 20s mph. Tomorrow will be the start of the nice weather. Lew

  10. Hi Lewis,

    The huge and now extinct goose bones were reported upon in the local news yesterday. Pretty cool, huh? 🙂 I’d be frightened coming face to face with a goose weighing in at a quarter tonne, well I’d be a bit excitable to say the least. The geese I’ve met invariably have bad attitudes. But, hopefully the big bird couldn’t run all that fast, maybe… But then, here you’ve gotten to the guts of the matter (please excuse the pun). Yes, chicken, that’s what they’d probably taste like, and goose is a fatty meat, so Genyornis newtoni burgers would be super awesome tasting. The article also suggested that the eggs would be decent snack. I tend to believe that the climate shifted, and humans ate them before the species had a chance to adapt to the suddenly drier environs. Diprotodons (giant wombats) probably went through a similar set of circumstances. That’s the risk with being super-tasty, and I agree a large meal can keep a human group going for way longer than lesser meals.

    Did you spot the news that a Viking era sword had been discovered in a field in Norway? Norwegian farmer finds rare and ‘well-preserved’ Viking sword on property. Things probably ended badly for the warrior given the sword would not have been casually mislaid after a heavy night on the mead. What’s your theory?

    Oh yeah, the assumptions that tomorrow will be like today kind of underlies the ritual of striving towards the future, or at least the next pay check. Many people view their investmunts with that lens, and my experience has lead me to believe that whilst that may be true, it can also be false. The Editor and I have had some fun times with such things, and now dabble no longer.

    I haven’t seen Blast from the past, but the trailer looked like a lot of fun. But you raised an intriguing question: Will it hold up? Hmm. So, what’s the answer?

    Man, I’ve been saying that for a while now. Half of every meal, anywhere on the planet, was produced with fertilisers extracted from natural gas. And that doesn’t provide a full spectrum of plant minerals either, which can have all sorts of interesting impacts of animal health (and I include humans in that). Yeah, it’s a problem for sure, but what can we as a civilisation do, this is what overshoot looks like. And I’m also not too certain that the folks pushing for electricity generation using natural gas generators (they have the advantage over coal in that they fire up relatively quickly and can act as backups for renewable energy supplies) comprehend that there may come a time when the finite natural gas resource is probably better directed into fertiliser production. And also, you need diesel to extract the stuff in the first place. Energy literacy is not generally encouraged in our civilisation.

    Ouch, nobody wants sharp chunks of plastic in the family jewels… 😉

    What? Heading off on the afternoon of the last day of school. That’s maximising road time, but didn’t your dad need to sleep and relax? I don’t tend to define spending time inside a personal vehicle as a relaxing experience. Now train travel on the other hand puts me to sleep with all that rocking motion. And it’s a bonus not getting sea sick! I’ve seen the Editor suffering from that malady, and it’s not pretty. The small car ferry from Kangaroo Island in South Australia to the mainland a couple of decades ago was one rough-as crossing. Dude, people were passing out. Fortunately the crew seemed untroubled to me. A lot of sharks in those waters too. One thing the Titanic passengers probably didn’t have to worry about, did they? Were the lower decks really locked off from the upper decks?

    What the heck is the vehicle filming? I don’t even own seven cameras. I’d read an article on an older couple who were cut off by a telsa electric vehicle. So as you do, they allegedly keyed the camera’d bespoked machine, and were so busted on film. But yup, lots to go wrong there. The new Suzuki Dirt Rat comes in a Lite model, which eschews much of the technological geegaws, and unfortunately it wasn’t available for delivery at the time. Most of the err, helpful additions, I’ve mostly switched off.

    The end of the bronze age sounds kind of like what you said about the fall of the western Roman empire, there were 99 problems and little will or abilities to deal with them all.

    Funnily enough, in between paid work today, we again brought in more firewood and dumped it in an area to dry off and season. All of it has come from the loggers mess area where the dogs have been getting up to mischief. We’ve probably brought up maybe about a quarter to a third of next years firewood supply. The weather has been cold, cloudy, but dry, so it’s firewood time.

    That mischief area is cleaning up nicely, but what a mess it is.

    Cool, it was thoughtful of your mother to recount those stories. I don’t see the big deal in that, but my mother was the exact opposite and pretended things were going well, when any fool could see that they weren’t. Probably not a mentally healthy response to the circumstances. And earlier histories I only ever heard indirectly when they were being discussed in hushed tones and they clearly underrated my curiosity. 🙂 Silly people.

    Nice you two got outside for a walk. Are you feeling better today? Your text reads as if you are better. Tomorrow down here is more of the same! I had to run the generator again today. Far out, it has been one cloudy week. If I had any advice to give, it would be don’t bet the proverbial farm on this technology!



  11. Yo, Chris – Harpoon the goose, and use the oil for lamps. I bet those giant geese were what Scrooge had on his Christmas table. Funny, I never remember having goose, at Christmas. Always, turkey. And, ham. I think it was what was available, and, maybe, cost.

    The sword might have come out of a grave, that’s been plowed flat. Since it’s broken, it might have been an offering to who, or whatever. LOL. I usually don’t read the sword articles. Another day, another sword. Interesting sword found in Japan … article starts 45 seconds, in.


    I’ll let you know about “Blast from the Past.” When it shows up. It’s on my hold list, but who knows for how long …. I’ve got a couple of books on my list, that have been “on hold” since January.

    Which has a more immediate use? Electricity, or fertilizer?

    Dad never relaxed. At least, when it came to traveling. He got off at 2:30, and we were on the road, by 3. Arrived in Nebraska, on Sunday afternoon. And, after a day or two, he was ready to move onto the next stop.

    Re: the Titanic. Didn’t you see the movie? 🙂 Most of the exits from steerage, were locked iron gates. Couldn’t have the riff-raff wandering around among their betters. 61% of the first class passengers, survived. 42% of “standard” class passengers, survived. Steerage? 24%.

    Looks like you have a good leg up, on your firewood. One of the things mentioned in the review of the Scottish hermit book, was his constant task of firewood management.

    Anytime the grown-ups didn’t want us kids, to know what they were talking about, they’d lapse into Finn. 🙂 But usually, my mom would tell me later, what it was all about. She and my Dad lived with his family, in Nebraska, for awhile. So, she got a lot of stories from that side of the family. She was an equal opportunity gossip. 🙂

    My green beans are coming up! I thought I’d better go on a slub hunt, last night. Not many about, but the one’s that were, were large. Well, no more wet doggie walks, for awhile. And, back to watering the north forty. 70F, today, and 85F by Friday. Then back to cooler, again. We should get a food box, this morning. Commodities, so maybe some fruit and veg. We’ll see. Lew

  12. Solar power- I have a solar oven, works pretty good, and was baking a couple mini loafs in it this afternoon when the clouds came on before I had expected them. The bread was only half done, so ran them in to the electric oven to finish.

    Mains electricity is awfully handy, I’ll miss it when it’s gone.

    grape cages- man, we’ve got a great crop of tart cherries coming on, makes me hope we may get a few after the birds. They just love them. I’m starting to think about a cherry cage, but these trees are around 15 ft/5 meters tall, and I probably should have been pruning all along 🙁

    And cage is not cheap to buy either, the tree row spans around 80 feet/25 meters. That’s a lot of cage.

    Planted four more paw paw trees this spring. The oldest ones actually had blossoms this year, but didn’t set fruit. Maybe next year.

  13. Chris,

    Just a few highlights.

    We had rain for parts of 3 days. Got maybe 30mm here. And a lot of wind. The wind finally quit late this afternoon. The heat is due to arrive Thursday.

    Lettuce and zucchini have also sprouted in addition to the rocket that is growing in the garden. Lots of water plus heat means things grow fast. That’s a good thing.

    The Princess will stick to Plan G, amended. Meaning she can’t get into the venue until 8 hours later than expected. Her stepsister will arrive in time to assist with whatever they’re going to prepare for the meal. She might simplify it even further.

    Killian’s owner will be in Spokane. She will take Avalanche. Good friends help where they’re most needed.

    The photo of the fluffies congregating around the wood stove was priceless! We are at different seasons now, for sure. You are trying to heat the house above 18C. I’m trying to cool mine to 18C or less overnight. Isn’t it funny how the same temperature can be warm for some and cool for others?

    Here’s a bit of humor from a Welsh program from some years back. A friend from carving showed this to me. The term “butt” in Wales is the equivalent of you saying “mate”.

    Will catch up again next week.


  14. Hi Steve,

    🙂 Thanks for that, and I couldn’t agree more. Reliable mains electricity is so amazing, that nobody notices. I’ve enjoyed a cake cooked in a solar oven. It was at the local sustainability festival, and this was many years ago when I was manning one of the stalls. Good fun, but what you wrote was exactly what happened to the cake. Ah, intermittency from the sun, you’ve done it again! For the record, the cake was consumed regardless. A bit under done in the middle if you ask me. I’ll bet your bread was baked more thoroughly? So how did it turn out? And how long have you been baking bread for now?

    I’m thinking longer term I’ll have to construct an outdoor baking oven, much like how the Romans used to bake their bread.

    Sour cherries are very tasty, and sadly you’ve pointed out a universal truth, in that the birds also know this fact.

    Steve, some fruit trees get rather large, and pruning of cherries is always problematic due to the risk of wounding the tree which then increases the disease risk. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but you have to prune them in the drier parts of the year? Maybe?

    Proper commercial bird netting would beggar the kingdom, and so our economic focus should perhaps be directed elsewhere to more productive goals. 😉 And those things need constant maintenance. I only caged in the grape vines because there are a mere ten mixed vines and so the cost was not too bad. With the fruit trees, the economic path is to out-produce all of the hungry forest critters. We have hundreds of diverse fruit trees, so there is always something producing and left over. But the predation is unrelenting. The winter months really set the upper limit on the number of forest critters the place will carry. It’s the summertime ring ins which worry me.

    Ah, grasshopper, before relaxation (or other works around the property) one must prune fruit trees. After relaxation (or all the many other things which need to be done) one must prune. 😉 There is a message in there somewhere… 🙂

    Awesome to hear. Those paw paw trees are really hard to come by down under, but I managed to nab five seeds. Four took. Two have since died, but the remaining two plants are looking good. I’m encouraged that they’re producing flowers at your locale. Maybe next year for you they’ll fruit? I’m growing several Loquat trees, one of which is over a decade old and quite large, but will it fruit? Dunno. I’ve spotted smaller Loquat trees in a nearby garden which produced flowers, so where there is life, there is hope. At least that is what they say.

    Filthy winter weather here today. The rain is holding back this week, but the clouds are thick and low. A dismal week of weather.



  15. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by. You have a lot going on right now.

    Have you ever noticed that the wind is more intense during the in-between seasons (which don’t necessarily correspond to the calendar seasons)? We get the worst winds during spring and autumn. Guess it may have something to do with the rapid air pressure changes. But 30mm of rain at the early stages of summer is a pretty awesome gift.

    Garden jungle weather. That’s the technical term, or at least the one I just made up. Hope the rocket leaves are super tasty. Yum!

    Oh no! Dude, that’s rough, but venues and also accommodation places can and do set those limits, although clearly they are not doing so for your benefit. If further adaptions are required, does that mean the food becomes a plan H? Far out, I expect everything will work smoothly on the day, but it’s wise to simplify the menu further, just in case. Out of curiosity, and I realise this is not the time, but is anyone thinking a bit further out into the future to err, engage and train the Rez folks? I mean, it’s culture and kind of important. I do hope that you support your lady afterwards, for the come down from all this will be very real. Quiet time is nice.

    Always nice to know that someone has your back, and that Dame Avalanche is in good hands, and with friends. Hey, that’s a good reciprocal arrangement.

    🙂 The fluffies send thanks and cordial tail wags to Dame Avalanche, noted husky extraordinaire and squirrel bane! No shortage of firewood here, thankfully, so whatever else happens, hopefully we can keep warm. We’ve spent a bit of time this week, splitting and bringing in next years firewood, but that job is also about cleaning up the mushroom madness area.

    We let the fire go out overnight, and so most mornings the house is maybe 17’C which I find to be quite a nice sleeping temperature – which is why you’re reaching for such comfort. Isn’t it rough when you live far inland and the overnight temperatures are high? I feel your pain. The worst I’ve experienced here is 29’C outside, and that was one hot night. Usually summer nights are much cooler here.

    Oh DJ, mate that was so very wrong, but the punch line got me. Funny stuff. Thanks for that. 🙂

    Speak later dude!



  16. Hi Lewis,

    I like how your brain works, and such a monster goose would supply a decent amount of the years lamp oil supply. As the old timers used to say, those oil lamps don’t fill themselves. Hey, I heard whale oil is pretty good stuff, and didn’t produce nearly as much smoke like the other cheaper oils did. 😉 Well, that dodgy comment will upset everyone, but truthfully I’ve never seen whale oil anywhere.

    Now you’ve gotten me curious. Did Scrooge have roast goose at table for Christmas? There’s some interweb arguments over whether the gift was a turkey or a goose, and some cheeky wags suggest the family already had a roast goose on their Christmas table. After much reading into this topic, I’m leaning towards the roast turkey gift, which would have been a less fatty roast meat, maybe. The poultry was changed to protect the innocent!

    Down under you’re more likely at Christmas lunch or dinner to see ham and/or roast chicken, although roast turkey is not unknown, so same, same really. It’s summer and usually hot, so goose would be perhaps a step too far for the digestive purposes. Anyway, as a mostly vegetarian, they’re all tasty meats to me. 🙂

    Have you ever seen references to those old English dishes of one form of poultry stuffed into another, then another? A very rich meal, probably too rich for my tastes.

    Ah, of course, the actions of a plough at some point in the past probably broke the sword and grave. Did you just imply the academic catch all explanation: unintentional ritual object? Nice one. I’d not known that such old swords were being regularly discovered, but they are useful items in times of trouble.

    The Japanese serpentine sword was interesting, but the bronze mirror was fascinating. I wonder what sort of polish they could work up on bronze? They have a very long history. Have you crossed paths with a bronze mirror in your trade days? I’d not known that the Romans produced glass mirrors, but there you go. Quite fragile, apparently.

    Is that usual for your ‘hold list’ to be waiting for six months? What the probable cause for the delay? Surely the items aren’t out with folks who are not returning them?

    Electricity, I guess. No, maybe fertiliser. Now I’m confused, it might be either, or both. 🙂 The news suggested that a new gas extraction license was granted in this state in the past few days – the first such license granted in a decade apparently. That’s what demand exceeding supply does.

    Oh man, I’d struggle being confronted by so much energy. And those car trips you went on, sounded like a personal nightmare to me. I like to kind of take the time to look around and get to know a place, but yeah, everyone is different. Maybe the goal of the trip for your dad was the journey itself and not the destination? It’s hard to know really. You and your mother need a medal or something like that after such holidays. Far out.

    Speaking of relaxing. The weather here today produced an hour of sunlight, but this morning was a real pea-souper combined with drizzle. And it only rained around these parts… I brought that poop on my own head by setting up in this location, oh well. Anyway, the direction of the day was altered, and we did a mix of paid work and relaxing. Even found time to travel to a nearby town bakery to pick up sausage rolls and a lamington for later on. I could think of worse ways to spend a day. The wood heater is going, and the dogs are camped out in front of it, until they cook their heads and have to then make a hasty retreat.

    I did eventually watch the Titanic movie. The Editor had to assure me that it wasn’t a musical, so there was some initial hesitation. 😉 Those locked iron gates were a pretty awful fate for the folks stuck behind them. Whoa, there’s some interesting histories of what happened to some of the more notorious and also the well known surviving passengers from that sinking. I’m of the opinion that the clever baker lowered his blood freezing point and thus avoided hypothermia. Seems that is not the case here. Oh well. There were some reports of some heart protection benefits in extreme cases with loss of core temperature, which being chucked into the cold water surrounding the sinking of the Titanic, might be applicable. It’s a mixed bag, and the baker was lucky.

    Unfortunately we have no heating plan B, so we take firewood very seriously. More seriously than most, and I reckon the Scottish hermit was onto something. Trees would be far rarer in his northerly locale I’d imagine? I read about a down under hermit the other day: Wedge Island’s ‘Gilligan’ living dream life in SA, with rare marsupials, penguins and eagles for company

    That was a very thoughtful gift of your mother to recount the goings on. Did the adults ever attempt to teach you the language? The Editors dad could speak fluent German, but he was err, perhaps too lazy to hand on the skills. Dunno. But, that bloke had a mixture of practised incompetence and volatile temperament which simply baffled me. Things went better when he was elsewhere, some folks are just like that.

    Go the green beans! Happy days, and the warmer weather will kick them into overdrive. That’s funny about the north forty. I’ve heard that phrase before, but wasn’t sure of the origin. Sounds very country to my reading ear.

    Did the box turn up?



  17. Yo, Chris – I’ll take some of the heat off you. Years ago, in Seattle, I was involved in a kind of rotating drinks and hors d’oeuvres party. Everyone tried to outdo everyone else, when it came to the snacks. I once showed up with whale meat, on crackers. I’ll probably go to hell, for that. 🙂

    My vote goes for roast goose. For no particular reason. Birds, within birds, within birds. The Romans did something like that. In “The Satyricon” there’s an enormous pig, stuffed with all kinds of other meats. And there’s a French recipe, for birds, in birds, in birds. Though no one knows if it was ever tried.

    It all goes back to the Romans. Among the types of mirrors, they had, there were also mirrors made out of obsidian. There are a few, in Pompeii, with frames painted around them. The Aztecs also used obsidian mirrors.

    Well, either the publisher has delayed publication, or, it’s sitting in a box at the service center. I substituted up there, once, for a couple of weeks. I entirely cleared the log jam. People were saying things like, “Ohhh. We haven’t ever seen that bit of wall (or floor.)” They have a policy of pulling out the stuff, with a lot of holds, first. Things with few holds, get shuffled aside. So, it could be for either reason.

    The high yesterday was 68F. Today, is supposed to be 75F. Then two days of 85F. Then back to 75F. Parts of California, and our SW, are suffering under a heat dome. The temperatures sound truly horrendous.

    Well, you’re in luck. 🙂 “Titanic: The Musical” will be released on DVD and Blu-ray, July 9th. Won’t be putting it on my hold list. Maybe if it were a rock opera …

    I think Martin Clunes, in his “Islands of Australia,” visited the hermit of Wedge Island. Anyway. He visited some hermit, on one of your islands.

    My Scarlet Runner beans, broke ground, overnight.

    Well, we got a box, yesterday. Unlike the usual two we get. No fresh fruit or veg. Just the usual suspects. Lots of tinned stuff, some dry beans, cereal, shelf stable milk and a gallon of some kind of “apple” drink. Dried cubed dates and walnuts. A frozen pound of “chicken crumbles.” No one has moved into Elinor’s apartment, yet. There was a box. I grabbed it. I need to let the Community Outlet Person know, that it needs to be canceled. I suppose Elinor’s daughter, overlooked that detail. Among all the other details.

    So, I took two bags of groceries, down last night, to the Club. Three this morning. Probably one more bag, to go. That will probably get us through the weekend. Someone donated $20, this morning. I’ll go shopping, next week.

    Interesting economic news. This showed up, last night, and promptly disappeared.


    BlackRock, down in Texas, is trying to set up a rival stock market.

    I didn’t read all the details, but someone who didn’t own it, tried to foreclose on Elvis Presley’s “Graceland.” I guess the scam artist, was pretty upfront about being a scam artist. In our police report, yesterday, a local woman complained that someone unknown to her, keeps listing her house on Craigslist. No details, ’cause, privacy, and all. Lew

  18. Hi Lewis,

    Man, I appreciate you lightening the karmic load there. But if offered such meat, I’d probably taste it out of sheer curiosity. It’s probably quite tasty, if somewhat a bit rich compared to my usual fare. What I was left wondering about was: Did it taste like chicken? 🙂 And oh yeah, you are going straight down for that one, but at least your friends will be there too. Was anyone outraged by the addition to the snacks? Anywhoo, I’d probably enjoy the company of St Francis, but the others, I dunno man…

    Well that settles it, roast goose it is! The interweb arguments sounded stupid, like why would the Cratchit family want a roast turkey, when they already had a roast goose on the table. Do they want to feel ill through over consumption? Mind you, I got the impression that Charles Dickens was not at all interested in puritanism, and so for that he can be applauded. Why not bring back the fun into a mid-winter celebration? In researching those interweb arguments I was a bit scared that some of those groups still exist to this day.

    I see, that may be where the old English chicken in duck in goose roast meal originated from. My but the shadow of the ancient Romans still stretches long over the land. I’ve never read The Satyricon, but oh wow did the proles of ancient Rome get up to some blush inducing behaviour, or what. 🙂

    Interesting, and I’ll keep an eye out for obsidian in the volcanic rocks around here. The rocks are the right sort, but the lack of water may have prevented the formation of the volcanic glass. You do get crystals in the rocks, and they reflect back torch light at night. It’s another pea souper this evening.

    I just saved Ollie’s life. We were discussing her in the comments as to what to do in a choking incident maybe six months ago. This evening, Ollie had forced a rawhide chew down his gullet when the chew was perhaps too large. He started choking and making sad sounds and was unable to breathe – and was quite distressed. So I whacked him on the back hard several times, and his wind pipe released the rawhide chew. It was quite err, juicy and slimy to the touch – and was taken away from him. But at least Ollie is OK now. For a moment there I thought I’d have to dig a very deep and large grave tomorrow.

    You have a first hand insight into the processes going on in the background there. Hopefully you are not tempted to go back in there and volunteer your time to sort out the mess? Did you ever become re-involved in the institution library?

    What? We haven’t heard about the heat dome way off to the south of you. Well, the name Death Valley is kind of a (please excuse the pun) dead give away as to the sort of weather you’re like to experience in such a place. And as to those gaming cities, they are in the middle of a desert, and such places have been known to get extremely hot. This is known. But yes, the temperatures do sound horrendous.

    Noooooooo! Is there really a musical? Wow, makes you wonder whatever will they think of next? I dare not even look at the trailer because then my feeds will be full of, err, musicals. That’s how algorithms work. And yes, it could have been made into a Rock Opera!

    There’s a lot of islands down under. 🙂 The location may change, but perhaps the rugged individuals would have a lot in common. Probably a bit like people heading into the mountains…All good fun, but probably not for folks who want to laze around. Hey, we did another shandy day of paid work and bringing in firewood for next year. This morning was thick fog, so after that turned into merely thick and low cloud, we headed outside and continued that job. You have to work around the weather at this time of year. A coffee and small chunk of cheesecake was harmed late this afternoon as the sun set (it set early too today and was almost dark by 5:30pm).

    Good stuff, and it’s always something of a relief when the seedlings emerge from the soil. You warm weather will really get them growing.

    The chainsaw idle sounded a little bit off today. Had a bit of a think about what was going on, recalled some wise advice from the folks on utoob, and on a whim, replaced the fuel filter (of course I have spares on hand). Runs as good as new now. Always good to be able to diagnose problems, and that one could escalate into all manner of bigger dramas. I tell you what, it’s been really good servicing and fixing all this stuff, despite being forced into the situation. Mate, if I wanted a change of trade, setting up a local business doing that work would be a total no-brainer right now.

    Clearly you are disinclined to try the apple like product, and I must agree with your reticence. With chicken products, there is always a touch of hesitation, is it compound chicken meat? At least Elinor’s daughter didn’t decide to take H, that would have been a problem. And administering all of life’s details is a pain the rear, like your recertification paperwork, but I must say, you and I do not shy away from this sort of Byzantine Kafkaesque maze. Wondering how other folks cope with that is something of a mystery, don’t you reckon?

    Good stuff. And whoa! What an article, but then when you think about it for a bit, this is kind of the outcome from expanding the money supply so much over the past few decades. All that mad cash goes searching for a safe haven, or possibly even a haven to wreck, and things retreat into quiet corners where few can look.

    People love those managed funds, or whatever they want to call them nowadays, but those were the very same things which took down a whole bunch of people in 1929. We’ve had our own pain with the things and now won’t touch them, but folks can do what they want as far as I’m concerned.

    I’d read that about the scammer. Pretty weird huh?



  19. Hi Chris,
    Thanks for the history lesson. People often ignore what’s in their own backyard.

    Do you make it through the winter without needing the generator?

    Continues to be quite busy. Last Sunday went to grandaughter graduation number two. This is the one who decided to go to the public high school and her class graduated 951 students. The graduation was held in a large venue that hosts various sports and music events. The students in the school are among the most affluent in the Chicago area and there was a definite air of entitlement. Anyway it was an event to be endured. I’m glad it’s over and hope she (grandaughter Abi) is content with the choice she made.

    Also this week was the clean out of my aunt’s condo in Chicago. You may recall that she’s now living in an assisted living facility in California near her only daughter. Her daughter and husband have been here for a week along with other local family sorting through all the stuff. Today is the final move out. I was there on Tuesday. Really quite sad thinking of all the fun times we had there.

    The coming weeks seems to be more normal but you never know what will pop up. It continues to rain when it should so at least watering isn’t an issue. Like Lew, my scarlet runner and other pole beans are up.

    Hope you get some sun.


  20. Yo, Chris – Well, it’s been over half a century 🙂 , but no, whale meat does not taste like chicken. As I remember, fishy and very oily. With a marked visual similarity to dog poop. Smoked, tinned squid, is a lot nicer. Although, when you open the tin, and are confronted with row upon row of purple suction cups … But, they peal off quit easily and leave behind a nice small fillet of white meat. It was the late 60s. Saving the whales and other ecological concerns, hadn’t really sunk in.

    I wonder if turkey, was a fairly expensive and exotic bird, in 1840s London? They were part of the Trans-Columbian exchange. Ben Franklin wanted to make the turkey, our national bird.

    When Mr. Greer was urging people to read old books, I read “The Satyricon.” You need footnotes. I saw the movie, when it first came out. Pretty racy for 1969. And, well, Fellini ….

    We have fields of obsidian, from eastern Oregon, and further west. Careful, that stuff is sharp! A well knapped blade is sharper than surgical steel.

    Glad you saved Ollie from over indulgence. Using the Doggie Heimlich maneuver. With small dogs, it’s a bit different. Sharp squeezes behind the rib cage. H occasionally bolts whatever, and gets in difficulty.

    They’d never let a volunteer, do the job I did, at the library. The Employees Association (aka Union), is pretty touchy about volunteers doing work that should be done by paid employees. I haven’t bothered with the Institution’s library. Until I can have some assurance, that my time and efforts won’t be undone, well, I’ve got better things to do.

    Yup. Cities in the desert. But what’s different, about this kind of heat, is, it doesn’t cool down, at night.

    I watched the trailer for “Titanic: The Musical,” so you don’t have to.
    🙂 Can’t say I was inspired to put it on my hold list.

    Ho, hum. Another sunny day. Still light at 9PM.

    Yes, always something to keep in mind. You could become the local Machine Repair Dude.

    The recertification paperwork, is a joke. You think they could at least indicate if they want monthly or yearly figures? Net or gross? People here often resort to the Community Outreach Person, for help with their recertifications. She’s warm and receptive. Unlike the Front Office, which should be helping us with this stuff.

    There’s a bit in the news about property being sold, that doesn’t belong to whoever is selling it. Also, a lot about squatters.

    I watched the first episode of season four, of “Foyle’s War.” The yanks have finally arrived, with all the cultural clash that causes. I finished reading “Why We Die.” Started reading “Populous: Living and Dying in Ancient Rome.” (De La Bedoyere, 2024.) He’s written a lot of very good books on Roman Britain, and, the Roman army. I’ve got a few of them.

    There’s a lot of silly handwringing going on in the Wonderful World of Archaeology, right now. Some graffiti, clearly drawn by children, of gladiator games, have been discovered. The horror! the horror! The Romans took small children to the games! Maybe, they hadn’t invented baby sitters, yet?

    Also, from Pompeii, a blue painted room has been uncovered.


    Probably a room used for unknown religious purposes. :-). Lew

  21. solar bread- I cook bread occasionally, so wouldn’t call myself a baker, and have only used the solar oven a few times for bread. My solar oven only gets up to about 350F/175C, so not ideal for bread baking. It’s ok, just not quite the crust some aspire to.

    I’m comfortable making bread, don’t bother with recipes anymore, but it is one skill that takes practice and attention to what change in technique produces what effect in the results. If I would practice more, the results would be more consistent and more what I aim for.

    paw paws- I understand that pollination is a bit dicey with these plants, need a varied insect population in the area, and trees need to be fairly close together. It’s more beetles, flies and ants, not the normal bees and such. The blossoms are stinky.

    I have no decided what fruit to plant next year. The climate zones continue to march north, but Wisconsin is not quite ready for cacao or coffee, more’s the pity.

    pruning- Yes Sensei, I need to step up my game, maybe try some summer pruning.

    sharing fruit- yeah, we all gotta eat. Some birds must be more omnivore than just seeds or just insects. What were they eating before the cherries got ripe??

  22. Hi Margaret,

    There’s so much to see in the local area, it’s quite amazing. And seriously, most of the out of the way things to see are barely even visited. Much of the time we have the whole experience to ourselves, but you’d probably see that with your bluebird trails? And hope the birds are enjoying the reliable rainfall this year?

    🙂 No. I wish it were otherwise with the generator, but solar power is only so good in any wintry conditions – anywhere at such high latitudes. Incidentally and speaking of shifting climates, we have not had any sun here for over eight days. That’s quite the record, and looking at the forecast for the coming week, things will not improve on that front. Honestly, I would not have picked this possibility, and it has never been this bad. The records stretch back over 14 years. And also due to the greater prevailing stalled weather systems, there’s been little to no wind either. Did I mention that despite all the cloud cover, it’s been mostly dry?

    Oh my goodness, my mind is trying to come to grips with the flow on effect of 951 students + the extended family! It would have been mayhem to organise that graduation ceremony, however you and Doug clearly survived the experience. 🙂 Hehe! I tell you truthfully, I’ve also endured some experiences which bring to the mind the story: All you have to do is sit the exam, and it will be over shortly. I’d be curious to hear of your experience, but when I finished High School, one day I was sitting exams, and then that was it. A week later I was at a production line job making floppy disks of all things – remember those? I quite liked the rhythm of that work. But such end of an era celebrations just didn’t happen.

    Well, it is worthwhile mentioning that Chicago has a reputation which has even been heard of in this out of the way corner of the planet. Such things are known of. 🙂

    Margaret, I’m so sorry for you. Cleaning up an estate (even though your Aunt is alive and has moved westward) is a hard thing to do, and as you note, everywhere you look there are memories. Dunno about you, but such activities made me desire to keep less stuff. I do hope that your aunt and niece are doing OK and have settled in well.

    Ha! I appreciate your humour. Yes, one never knows what challenges will arise in the immediate future. Let’s just hope the challenges are surmountable. 🙂

    It’s great to hear that your growing season has been more reliable than in the previous years. Isn’t it fun to watch the seedlings emerge from the soil? And also a sign that the seeds were viable, which is not always the case.

    Bizarrely, the perennial rocket plants germinated in the cold wintry soils the other day. I wonder what that means? There is a mild-to-hard frost in the forecast for later next week (maybe Thursday morning, but we’ll see).

    Due to the lack of frosts, the Kiwi fruit taste very starchy this year. Almost inedible, so the chickens, wild birds and rats are enjoying those hundreds of fruits. Fortunately there are heaps of citrus to enjoy, those plants can shrug off a mild frost.



  23. Hi Steve,

    Ah, well being an occasional baker would have it’s advantages, and even so, you’d get a feel for what works, and what doesn’t. Did I ever mention the day I simply forgot to add the bakers yeast and inadvertently created a damper? It was OK, but I would have preferred the bread to rise. You could bake toasted muesli at those temperatures because it’s not so high that the honey will burn. But yeah, nowadays I bake bread at 200’C, and some people use higher temperatures for a shorter bake. I’ve noticed that bread with olive oil added into the mix tends to bake at lower temperatures. Occasionally, the focaccia bread is a worthwhile addition to the table and that has added olive oil.

    I hear you about the crust. It needs the heat to produce a thicker crunchy crust. Not much you can do about that in a solar oven, although long ago I used to drizzle a dash of olive oil onto the raised dough mix just prior to it going into the electric oven at lower temperatures than I use today. It’s a fine art this bread making business, but for everyday purposes I bake a crusty peasant loaf – and never have I had a complaint from a visitor. Although, hey, they might be just being overly nice? 🙂

    Exactly, such creations as bread require practice. I read somewhere long ago that the potty mouthed and very talented English chef Gordon Ramsay, was as an apprentice put to making Club sandwiches for three years. Man, by the end of that baptism by fire, he would have known all there is to know about those things. But then, such attention to detail is sometimes required. The local bakery is well over 10km away, so I’ve baked roughly the same bread recipe for over 14 years now. Despite the occasional stuff up, you get to know the thing intimately. 🙂

    Ah, many thanks for the pollination story with those North American paw paws. Hmm. I’ll keep a watch on those two remaining plants, and hopefully the stinky blossoms attract the many flies and other insects in this part of the world for that purpose.

    Very funny! 🙂 We can only hope, but far out, I’d like those two plants growing as well. Hehe! I did have a coffee plant growing and it did amazingly well here, and then there was that snowfall. Died within two days. A sad moment, but worth the experiment all the same.

    Hehe! How good was that show? Even now, decades later I still find myself thinking about it. The show was one of the reasons I took myself off to the local Dojo for training. And yes, summer pruning may not assist production, but ah, grasshopper when faced with a multitude of fruit trees, one must find a sustainable path to pruning.

    Your guess is as good as mine there. However, if I mare dare say so, it is a truth universally acknowledged that grow, and they shall come. Before your efforts, the land may have been quieter. The magpie population here is now at seven, when years ago it was but two.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    Oooo, oh yeah, those photographs were quite errie in a dystopian way. Of the three artists you mentioned, I prefer the Edward Hopper paintings. Eric Fischl’s work has a cheeky sexuality to it which is appealing, but Hopper’s works to my mind captures a kind of ambiguity to their characters place in the world. And that leaves the viewer wondering what was going on there. Eric’s work differs because you know where things are headed.

    What do you mean you can’t remember half a century ago? although honestly last week is all a bit hazy and half a century is right out. Nothing new to that feeling either. 🙂 The whale meat does not really sound all that appealing, although it would no doubts keep you alive if any of us happened to live in a very cold climate. I don’t mind squid, but have only ever tasted the little suckers. For some weird reason, we call the meat Calamari down here, and I have no idea why. But when those deep fried and crumbed rings (I’m salivating thinking of them) are fresh and freshly cooked, whoa, they’re good. Dunno about your experience, but when squid isn’t fresh it takes on a rubbery texture.

    Well of course save the whales hadn’t kicked in yet. In those days Star Trek IV hadn’t yet been filmed, so of course the world would never have quite understood the need not to kill all of the whales, and what it would take for the intrepid crew of the Enterprise (original crew) to time travel and bring them back? A fine film if I may say so. I mean, who’d ever guess that an alien would return to Earth and want to speak to the whales, then get angry when none were to be found? What about us humans, surely we have something to say? Seems like there may be a new Star Trek 4 film (not Roman numerals this time around).

    Oh yeah, that was probably it and roast turkey would have been rare at such times. And also maybe Scrooge was managing to do some good, yet also flaunt his wealth at the same time? An impressive achievement. It is also equally possible that the US versions of the book had a different ending through using a more recognisable mid-winter feast roasted meat? Dunno.

    Out of curiosity, did your version of the book have footnotes? I’d remarked to you before that without footnotes, the finer details of the Beowulf epic would have been incomprehensible. I don’t believe that books with authors who are still alive are unworthy simply because the authors remain in the land of the living. We all have our issues, like err, musicals! 🙂

    Thanks for doing the road testing on that musical! I used to live around the corner from a Titanic themed theatre restaurant in Williamstown. I wonder if it is still there nowadays? Just between you and I, and we’ll say this quietly, but I have been to a few musicals and they were OK, just kinda, you know man, time is limited and stuff. 😉

    Really? There was some notes about obsidian blades being used in surgery, but I’d not realised that they were that sharp.

    Has Ollie learned a lesson from his gorging ways? Probably not. For all we know, in a past life the dog was a Roman at one of those feasts… Not good for a persons tooth enamel, but they probably didn’t care all that much.

    Fair enough about the volunteers for the libraries, but then why create systems which are too difficult to manage with the labour? Tainter’s theory of complexity springs to mind, and is probably the reason. I live in a world of increasing red tape, it’s hard out there. I note that things have not improved in the institution’s library for you. I like your patience.

    Those cities in the desert would be hotter at night than the surrounding areas anyway simply due to the heat island effect. And once they get bigger, the effect gets biggerer. Such things can be a bit like a chicken and egg thought bubble. The big smokes thermometer was moved out of the city and plonked in a garden near to a river a few years ago. Is that a fair comparison? Nobody asked for my thoughts.

    Stop it! Hehe! Thanks for the laughs. Yes, it’s been eight days in a row of thick cloud here. Even for here up in the mountains, that is one impressive climactic effort. The forecast for the coming week is not inspiring me with confidence that the sun will make a special guest appearance at any stage. Should rain tomorrow.

    With the forecast rain in mind, I headed down below and smooshed apart a large soil mound near to a hole. The excess soil was moved into the hole, and now everything is neat and clean. And no, it did not appear to be a burial mound (thankfully!)

    It’s an option for sure, and people need this stuff fixed.

    Yes, navigating the paperwork nightmares has become even more nightmarish of late. The post office asked for me to refill in the application form because they’ve got some new system. No, I did not want to be notified by text message that there was mail to be picked up. Sometimes, I want a day off from those sorts of activities.

    Squatters are pretty clever, and they send a strong message to the owners: Get your poop together, or else. Backpackers demand right to squat in flood-affected Lismore houses Sorry if I’ve already posted a link to this…

    Hehe! There was a bit of cultural clash in these waters too at that tricky point in history. That’s what the fall of the British Empire looked like. Taking our jobs and women, apparently! 🙂 There were riots, but then, the cheeky Japanese were bombing the daylights out of our northern shores, so alls well.

    Did you see the reports that the English diet bloke vanished on a Greek Island?

    Of course the Romans would have taken small children to see the Gladiators games. What the heck, haven’t these archaeologists read Lord of the Flies? Blood thirsty little tykes. That book had a stupid ending.

    Wow, and it’s Blue! Pompeii is remarkable. And I thought that interpretation would pique your interests.



  25. Hi, Chris!

    I like that shot from above your buildings.

    I am surprised about the amount of petrol that you need to recharge your batteries, though it does seem a fair amount for just 6 hours. It is when one has to recharge often, not just one time on one day, that it would add up. But as you said, you and the Editor don’t use that much electricity.

    “All good things, no matter how great, come to an end.” So you go on to the next good thing.

    A mullock heap sounds like a pile of fish. Goldfish? Have you every found any gold dust around?

    I too have a lot of trouble with oxalis (wood sorrel); it is everywhere. It’s lucky that it is tasty stuff, sort of sweet and sour at the same time.

    The caffe latte soil does look good enough to eat.

    You may have fungus coming out your ears, but just try to grow your own mushrooms. That is when it gets sticky, at least for me.

    Wind and rain – that IS a big mess. I guess grub poop is like worm castings? Which we have now. We also have a gopher. I think he is going to be worse than the groundhog.

    Thanks for the flowers! My lavender is not confused and is blooming now, when it is supposed to.


  26. Yo, Chris – Details, details! I just noticed Ollie, lurking in the background, of the blown down tree photo. Then I noticed Chris is lurking in the background, of that blown down tree photo. That sapling doesn’t provide much cover. On the other hand, it worked for almost a week.

    That was some very succinct and astute observations about Hopper and Fischl. We’ll make an art critic of you, yet. 🙂 I quit like Hopper, best of all, also. No one captures boredom, ennui, or alienation, quit like Hopper.

    Calamari. Probably due to all those fine Italian immigrants, who also brought you Passata. Due to cost and availability, I’ll stick with fried onion rings. 🙂 Available in our fast food joints, and the frozen food section, in our supermarkets. Not that I have them, all that often. But now, I have a craving!

    The Star Trek movie with the whales, is my second favorite ST movie. The first being, naturally, “First Contact.” I’m always up for another Star Trek movie. In the meantime, I’ll have to content myself with “Lower Decks.”

    I purposefully got a copy of the “Satyricon” with footnotes. And then there’s always Cliff Notes. Why not use aids, to deepen understanding? That was a really interesting bio, by Judi Dench, that I read, recently. About all the Shakespeare plays she had been in, and the parts she played. I forget which play it was, (“Hamlet?), where when she was young, she played one part. Middle aged, played another. Late in life, another role. And that Shakespeare, on the page, really leaves a lot of wiggle room, for different director’s or actor’s interpretations.

    I’ve lived long enough to see a lot of popular author’s books, fade away, after they’ve died. Michener, Leon Uris … the list goes on and on. I think a lot of them are allowed to fade away, just BECAUSE they were popular authors. Although I can’t say I miss sorting through piles of Michener, in a used book sale. 🙂 . Mostly, worthless book club editions. They’ve finally mostly all went to that big landfill in the sky.

    Yes, why do dogs do that? I’ve given up trying to train H to drink water, like a lady. 🙂 And not have her gagging and spewing all over the place. I’m in and out of the kitchen (where her bowls are) enough, that I just keep 1/2” in her water dish. That seems to have solved the problem.

    Yes, let’s pile on more complexity, and keep people employed! I’m closing in on the end of “B.S. Jobs.” It’s pretty interesting. More about the concept of work, and how it’s changed over time. There was one interesting bit, that I’ve seen at work in Library Land. From time to time, libraries fall on hard times. Economically. So, there’s a round of belt tightening. Do they strip off layers of management and administration? No, it’s always the in-the-trenches worker bees, who take the hit. Hours are reduced, etc.. Librarians with degrees seem to have this unspoken mission statement, that one must employ as many other librarians with degrees, as possible. We had one head librarian, who was very good. And, she stripped off one whole layer of management. Oh, the howling! And everything rain just tickety boo without them. In fact, there was a lot less ill conceived notions, and interference. But, she eventually retired, and near as I can figure, that layer of management, is back.

    It was 77F, yesterday. Forecast is for 80, today. Then it’s back to 70s, for a week or so. We’re getting a nice on-shore flow.

    I seem to get a lot of harassing e-mails to leave feedback, for this and that. Most of which I ignore.

    No, you hadn’t posted that article about squatters, before. It was very interesting. Wouldn’t fly here. At least, in this town. They’re pretty much the homeless, and here, they’re harassed right out of town.

    I’d seen the headlines, about the English diet bloke. I figure he got so light, he just blew away! Lew

  27. Hi Pam,

    Thanks! Well petrol generators use a lot of what you’d call gasoline. That’s a strange story itself in that a litre of the stuff which is slightly more than a quarter of a gallon, has about 9kWh of energy. But then what few seem to realise is that there’s a whole bunch of loss when you burn the stuff in an engine whether it be a car, generator or whatever. At best the generator can recover about 2.8kWh of that fuel and convert it into mains electricity. Any excess energy gets converted into heat – ever wonder why your car can produce a decent heater from the fan system, and that’s why.

    Now battery chargers aren’t cheap, and so the best I could afford pushes about 1.5kWh of electricity into the batteries at a high voltage. There’s a lot of loss in the entire process, but fear not, the loss in the electricity grid is just as bad. And all of it generates a whole bunch of hot air. 🙂

    Now if someone wants to stump the mad cash to buy me a really big super expensive battery charger, the losses will be much reduced? Anyone? Anyone? I didn’t think so…

    And as you note, better not to use much of the energy in the first place.

    Exactly, and that is so true Pam. Despite all the crazy-as politics, the economic bad news, the wars in remote parts of the globe, there are fluffies, and in your household there’s a whole ‘nother generation taking place. The job of the Elder, if I may so boldly put it, is to support the generation beforehand. Of course, you’re also supporting your mum, and that’s needful too. Our lives are full of needful things aren’t they, but we can take time out to marvel at the sunsets, enjoy a good meal and fun company and think what an amazing time it is to be alive.

    Hehe! Goldfish, aka Carp, are a problem in some rivers up north in drier country. But fear not! The locals have finally come around to comprehending that the feral fish make for good fertiliser. Nah, I don’t have the time for fossicking through mullock heaps. I don’t doubt that the activity would yield some gold.

    Well I never! This is news to me about oxalis being edible. The species here is a local variety: Oxalis exilis

    The plants will most definitely enjoy the caffeine hit. There are times I do wonder what the coffee bean farmers in far flung countries would think if they knew their soil fertility was ending up here.

    Alas, my experiences with growing mushrooms has also been problematic. A job for the future – and that may require an underground growing area. If you do work out how to grow them successfully, please do let me know?

    I think the grub casings aren’t as good as worm casings. How’s your worm farm going? Oh no! A disturbing turn of events and I recall Bill Murray in the cringe worthy 1980’s era film Caddyshack going head to head with such a beast. His was the only amusing part of the film. Good luck. Have you had such critters in your garden before?




  28. Hi Lewis,

    Good spotting, and Ollie and I were there to provide scale in the photo, although you’re right, we were rather hidden in all the windfall foliage. It’s a funny word windfall, and hints at an earlier time when chainsaws weren’t so widely available.

    Hopefully Ollie and I don’t require such extensive forest cover at this stage in history. Imagine requiring that level of cover? Things would not be good. But surely, wouldn’t it be easier if there was little hiding places for marauding zombies? But then that works both ways, as you noted, and also requires working projectile weapons. Hmm.

    Oh thank you, it’s your training you know. 🙂 And I’m happy to hear that you formed a similar opinion with the works of Hopper. The longer I looked at the images of the paintings, the less sure I was of the state of mind of the people portrayed. Having grown up with a mother who looked to me like she had borderline personality disorder, I’m quite aware of other peoples emotional states, but it was not at all clear with those portraits. A very gifted artist.

    🙂 The word for squid does denote Italian origins. A very tasty meat. There were waves of immigration from that part of the world post WWII, for obvious reasons, and they’ve enriched the local culture. I’ve mentioned over the past few years how that distinct culture is being subsumed in say the loss of the family tomato passata making efforts. In parts of the big smoke settled by say, the Vietnamese who arrived in the 1970’s, there are lots of businesses being run out of their houses garage. Quite clever really.

    Fried onion rings are also good. Did you sate that craving?

    It’s a pretty good Star Trek film, and you could see that the cast were having fun whilst making it. I was also very partial to Star Trek VI and re-watched it a few months ago. And yeah, First Contact was excellent as well. I’d hope that any new films try and just tell a good story, rather than the old ‘crew of the Enterprise saves the Earth yet again’ – the storyline has been done, and well.

    I agree, if serious folks have taken the time to provide detailed commentary upon a work from another era, it’s probably not a bad idea to take a peek to see what they have to say. Although, I’m always wary that such folks may have an ideological axe to grind. Always possible.

    Funny your mention the works of The Bard, but lately I’ve been reading about the background to those stories. Hmm. Yes, The Bard appears to ask the hard question over and over again: Who will do the right thing? And what happens when that is not the path taken?

    Yeah man, I’ve seen those books as well. Life is short and a person must spend their time where they see it best used up. What the heck is a book club edition? That’s something I’d never come across before.

    You outsmarted H, a fine achievement for the canine species are known for their tricksy ways. We’ve been training the fluffies to walk properly to what is technically known as ‘heel’. It’s easier on us if the dogs don’t try and out-alpha us silly humans all the time. It can get tiring, but it’s actually our fault because we allowed the bad behaviours to escalate, now we must reign things in. That’s a good metaphor for the much bigger picture. Hmm.

    I can sort of see how that happens with BS jobs and hard times, and cough cough, look what happened to me earlier this year? 🙂 The thing with what is technically known as reducing head count, is that the people making those decisions rarely include themselves in the cuts. Like why would they? There’s an inherent conflict of interest built into that story, and essentially this simply another reason why civilisations fail. It’s also very Fight Club, if I may say so.

    Your weather sounds so nice. It’s been cloudy for ten days in a row now. I looked back over the records and spotted a single worse incident at 13 days. We might beat that this year. This is what using the atmosphere like a sewer does, we can change the composition of the gases, warm things up, and bam – there is more water vapour up there in the sky.

    Sometimes I leave feedback when it is a local branch of a big company and I’d prefer if the services remained in the local area.

    Your winters would be super hard on the homeless. Far out. They’d be hard here as well. My understanding is that in this area, people fitting that description are also couch surfing, which can be problematic.

    Thanks for the laughs, and I’d not known who the bloke was. He was involved recently down under in a show on sleep which the Editor tells me was quite interesting. I doubt the dude is in the land of the living.



  29. Chris:

    Thanks for the battery information, and should I ever come into a lot – a whole lot – of money, I will send you such a gift.

    “Our lives are full of needful things aren’t they, but we can take time out to marvel at the sunsets, enjoy a good meal and fun company and think what an amazing time it is to be alive.” Thanks. I will remember that.

    Your oxalis looks exactly like ours.

    Our garden beds are full of worms, it’s only that I can’t compost out there – have tried so many different methods – because of the varmints that can climb up the corner posts of our 8 ft. (2.5m) fence and dig it all up and scatter it.


  30. Yo, Chris – From our “You Can’t Get There From Here”, department.


    “The windfall was a widow maker.” Rolls trippingly across the tongue.

    Haven’t been to a store yet, so, onion rings are still in the realm of anticipation.

    Maybe, in the next Star Trek film, they won’t save the earth. Now, that would be a plot twist!

    Everybody has an ideological ax to grind. Some are just harder to see, than others.

    Well, back in the day, there were book clubs. Authors would hope book clubs would pick up their titles, as, it was another windfall 🙂 that could be quit lucrative. Besides what they got from their primary publisher. Book Clubs generally offered their members, four or five selections, every month. Of recent best sellers. At a lower price than if they’d bought it from a book outlet. They usually had a lesser quality binding. And narrower margins. But, overall, I don’t think they were a bad thing (other than to the used book trade). They got more people reading.

    I saw an interesting article, yesterday. Sorry. Can’t link to it. But, you might want to take a look.

    “Archaeologists Discover Records of Pompeii’s Survivors, Proving Famous Eruption Didn’t Kill Everyone.” Stephen Tuck, author.

    Someone weeded the communal strawberry bed. All well and good, except they also weeded out the sunflowers and Bachelor Buttons. I am so angry. Lew

  31. Thank you, Chris,
    I will follow your do-what-works plan. My impatience stems from the fact that I have my plantings of asparagus in the front garden by the street, which is ornamentals otherwise. When in the fall the jungle of vegetable fronds start to get ugly, it really detracts from the beauty.

    So this year when I decide I’ve had enough, I’ll cut them down *and* lay on some fertilizer, and be happy.

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