Cold Spring Mountain

The only thing that I can be positively sure of, is that I am entirely unsure as to what the weather will hold in store for the farm. And the sheer variability in the seasons from year to year means that I make mistakes with the timing of planting.

Large parts of this driest inhabited continent are in the grip of a drought that is not quite equal to the infamous Federation Drought , but by all accounts they’re getting pretty close to it. Bushfires have become common place events in the parched country for the past few months. And frankly it is happening not that far from here. It is as if the weather Gods have turned their attention to us down under, and with a dark cackle they’ve promised: ‘Let’s just see how bad things can get’.

In this southerly locale on the continent, the spring weather is far colder than is the recent norm. Only true weather nerds will know that about mid-year there was an: abrupt warming that occurred about 20-30 kilometres above Antarctica. And in this tiny little section of the continent what that means is that spring has been mostly absent as the cold moist air has been pushed north from Antarctica.

Compared to previous years, I planted out the corn seed a few weeks ago, and it was just too early. As such I’ve had a germination rate of about 20% for corn, which is appalling when you consider that I plant out several hundred seeds. On Friday rain was forecast overnight, so I planted out yet another batch of corn seeds in the hope that the rain and mildly warmer soil gets them germinated.

The author plants out another batch of corn seeds after seriously poor germination rates due to cold weather

Making mistakes such as planting out the corn seeds too early is to my mind part of the wonderful journey that is life. But learning from mistakes and applying that knowledge to future endeavours is an entirely different matter. And therein lay the path of the beginnings of wisdom.

Over the past few weeks the editor and I have had an ongoing conversation about personality traits, and the strengths and weaknesses that accompany such traits. With knowledge comes understanding. For example, when I was a young bloke I used to consider that I was a perfectionist. I thought that this was a good thing, until I understood that it was a personal weakness and possibly even a serious failure. In these enlightened times I now understand the Russian maxim that: “Best is enemy of the good”, but it wasn’t always thus.

Without knowledge and understanding you can make some epic mistakes. Such was my fate with one notable mistake. Every now and then people talk rubbish, and then they find themselves in a metaphorical garbage tip. Very late last century I recall sitting in an interview with a potential employer where I was talking some rubbish about wanting to have a challenge. The employer loved hearing such talk because they sure had a challenge waiting for some poor schmuck.

After extensive psychometric testing – I’m guessing they wanted to discover if I was serious about wanting a challenge – they employed me and set me loose. At first I had a great time, and I rapidly sorted out the team work problems and began trawling through and resolving the epic mess that was presented to me. It truly was an epic mess and I have never seen the likes of it before.

As the Dread Pirate Chris sailed the wide Accountant-seas, I took no prisoners as the valiant crew (my accounts team) scrubbed the decks (cleaned up the accounts and restored a semblance of order) of the good ship until the decks (accounts) shone with brilliance. I was on top of the world and rattled my shiny sabre (pocket calculator) at any and all enemies, whilst the crew supported my leadership.

Of course the role of Captain is a lonely one, heavy with the burden of responsibility. And the hours can be long, with late nights and weekends at the helm. For the purposes of morale, the crew (accounts team) were kept to normal hours and were off enjoying foreign ports (the local cafes and eateries at lunchtime and doing normal things like going home on time), whilst I kept a sharp look out for hostiles.

Unexpectedly, in the naval base (head office) a coup took place and a new Admiral was installed (a promotion of a lesser accountant). Soon the dispatches from the naval base (head office) contained a very negative tone. I rattled my sabre (pocket calculator) at the new Admiral (who was technically my boss) and talked big and tough about how many ships of the enemy fleet my team and I had already sunk (i.e. goals that we’d already reached).

My talk of past battles was breezily dismissed, and the demand was put before me to sink even more enemy ships (i.e. the performance expectations were raised). Such talk engendered thoughts of mutiny, and I was certain that the now trusty and competent crew (accounts team) had my back. I did my best to ignore that the demands were couched in very critical terms.

Unfortunately, I was already working long hours at night and at weekends, and there seemed to me to be no end to the number of new enemy ships (i.e. new challenges and goals) asked of me to sink. And the criticism was unrelenting.

At the time, the editor just wanted her Captain back, and I was just about done and finished on those particular adventurous Accountant-seas and had nothing more to give. One day out of the blue, I resigned my commission as Captain (walked the plank)  of that particularly bonkers ship.

What was really weird about it all, was that the next job I went to was so mundanely normal that the contrast between the two experiences was beyond stark. And I had to think really long and hard as to how I ended up in that earlier scenario, and to never allow it happen again. Some mistakes you learn from. Some you hope to never repeat, me hearties.

The rain this week has been torrential at times.

Heavy rain has fallen over the farm during the past week

Yet, other days blue skies reigned, humidity was high and the air temperature was cool.

Early morning fog dissipates in the valley below the farm

Despite the cool air, the UV (ultraviolet radiation) is now rated as Extreme, and the suns rays sting and bite exposed skin. Despite the variable weather conditions we continued work on the new path leading from the driveway to the new garden terrace project. A couple of trailer loads of the locally crushed rock with lime were placed over the clay surface. The crushed rock makes for a good all weather surface and the path is a project that serves multiple purposes, one of which is to reduce the possibility of water from very heavy rainfall concentrating anywhere at all up above the house.

Looking east – The path above the house is quite long and is an important bit of infrastructure
Looking west – Another three or maybe four trailer loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime should finish the path up above the house

We continued constructing the concrete staircase leading from the lower garden terraces to the upper garden terraces. At this time of year it takes about a day of the cement curing before construction can commence on the next concrete step. In reality, cement takes about a week to properly cure into concrete.

Another concrete step was constructed on the staircase leading from the lower terraces to the upper terraces

The fencing on the eastern end of the new terrace project was continued this week. As an interesting side story, the editor and I had no real idea how the fencing arrangement should look, however it was only when we began discussing the fencing arrangement that it all became clear to us. And only then could we actually start the work.

Treated pine timber posts were cemented into the ground. Hopefully next week I’ll weld up some steel gates from scrap steel security doors we picked up at the tip shop, and those gates will be attached to the newly installed treated pine posts. In the meantime, over the next week the concrete holding the treated pine posts into the ground can properly cure. It is not a bd thing to allow the concrete to cure properly because the steel gates will be quite heavy.

Treated pine posts were installed this week on the eastern end of the new garden terrace project

The cooler weather this week has really slowed the growth and germination of the summer crops. At least the plentiful rain has meant that I have not had to water the plants that are growing. In an exciting turn of events, some melon seeds germinated this week.

Some melon seeds have germinated this week

The earliest of the black and red currants are becoming closer to being ripe. Currants are usually ripe and ready to eat by about Christmas, although rather than eating them, we turn most of the prodigious crop of berries into a very tasty wine.

Red currants are edging closer to becoming ripe and ready to eat

Gooseberries are also getting closer to being ripe. I quite enjoy the taste of Gooseberries and they remind me of Sultana grapes (a dried variety of table grape). We may have enough of this crop this year to produce some wine, and it will be interesting to see how the wine turns out.

Gooseberries are putting on size and are getting closer to becoming ripe

Blueberries are really slow growing plants here, and possibly I should have grown the many plants in a shadier locale. Some of the blueberry plants have died, but the ones that didn’t seem quite well established now after a few years and are producing plenty of berries (which are also not quite ripe yet).

The blueberries need a bit more time before they are ripe

After killing about maybe five (it could possibly be more) walnut trees, I have finally managed to get a seedling walnut tree to take. I can’t quite understand why I’m having so much difficulty with these nut trees because there are many huge and old examples of walnut trees happily growing in the area apparently without any care or thought.

A seedling walnut tree has finally taken and become established

The tree ferns which I planted in the fern gully have all produced new fern fronds over the past few weeks. I thought that some of them may have died over the winter months, but no.

The tree ferns in the fern gully are growing well

Onto the flowers:

Succulents grow very well here and we’ve added many varieties of them to the garden beds
The local Musk Daisy Bush (Olearia argophylla) which is quite common in the under-story forest, produces a spectacular flower display
Pyretherum flowers look great en masse
It’s geranium time (with a wormwood growing to the fore of the image)
Geraniums produce prolific insect attracting flowers
A rose on the rose terrace
A beautiful rose which has been happily growing in one of the garden beds for many years

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 715.0mm (28.1 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 683.2mm (26.9 inches).

20 thoughts on “Cold Spring Mountain”

  1. Hi DJ,

    Itchy, just itchy… And maybe a bit scratchy too, just for good measure! Hehe! Ah Oregon juncos are a native sparrow, and there is no shame in twitching. I spotted a noisy miner the other day and they have a really nice call. As an interesting side note, they’re considered quite an invasive species, however there are so many different types of plants and arrangements of plants here that apart from the magpies few birds enjoy the upper hand. And the magpies and I have an understanding, which does not extend to the dogs. Your Cooper’s hawk looks to me as if it means business.

    Yeah, too true. Down here major projects (road and rail) have taken in many of the former workers who used to do fly in and fly out arrangements at the mines, and they’re being paid more than I ever was. On a serious note, I would not recommend anyone attend Uni these days. The return on investment is just not there, and I say that as someone with a post-graduate education.

    The little rascal was clearly quick on her feet and intellect. Such a character was a central character of Jack Vance’s most excellent book ‘Madouc’. It is up there with my all time fave books. But haven’t we all met such folks?

    I wrote a bit this week about the complexities with planting. Obviously I have no clear notion of what climate change will mean in practice, but I have noted that with climate variability on the increase, timing becomes everything with planting in such conditions. To be honest, I am overly reliant on the weather forecasts because they are actually pretty good. When I was a kid folks used to have old school barometers on their walls, and an abrupt change in air pressure was about as much warning as you’d get of an impending storm.

    Hey, speaking of consumption of life and energies, the legal system from my belief is occasionally used with that outcome in mind. Bear in mind ‘free speech’ has never been a legal right down here: $600,000 restaurant review: Fairfax loses 11-year defamation battle. 11 years though and I end up feeling sorry for everyone involved.

    The Monkey King may have his hands full right now…

    Fortunately I have worked with many engineers over the years and many of them are really lovely people. If I’d had half a brain (which I didn’t), years and years ago I could have had some very interesting discussions with some engineers who used bacteria to break down manure in sewage systems, and that was their specialty. Unfortunately I lacked part of my brain at the time and the opportunity was lost. From hindsight, I have no doubts the engineers regarded my naivety with amusement.



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, yes the dreaded social obligations can run deep in places. Out of curiosity are you still obliged to roll the Ranger out for the assistance of the ladies? I recall an amusing sticker on the back of such a vehicle about a decade ago: “Yes this is my ute (utility vehicle), and no I won’t help you move” (referring to moving house). It pretty says it all regarding social obligations…

    It is interesting that you mention Steve’s social graces and the ongoing dilemma that the ladies face. Years ago I was the recipient of a cat who was no longer wanted (this was the cat Ricey who I wrote about many weeks ago). The former caretaker of this fine feline (my mum) told me that Ricey was a fussy eater. Au contraire, Ricey ate the same cat food that the other resident cat ate. It did however take a day of starving her out before she changed her high falutin ways. If she wanted better food, all she was required to do was work for it, but her natural inclinations were such that she stuck to and enjoyed the average cat food. Such may also be the fate of our democracy.

    Blame Sun Tzu, but my gut feeling suggests to me that Steve is easily trained to better graces if only because it appeases his appetite. If it is good enough for the ladies to whinge about, it is good enough an issue for them to deal with (as a group). It ain’t hard. It is possible nobody has ever admonished Steve for such behaviour, and he may be oblivious to the impact he is having – or worse secretly enjoying the discomfit. I once had to admonish a bloke in my team who due to mental health issues had begun neglecting his personal hygiene. Blokes (and ladies) sometimes do such things to keep other people at arms length.

    Death by sugar! Yeah. Yum, and there is a heck of a lot of fat in there too. It’s good, but not all of the time! 🙂 We as a society eat these days as if it is party time forever and the consequences of that are not even remotely thought through. Most of the time I eat like a rabbit. Hey, tonight I set Ollie to chasing a rabbit, and he’s fast, but they’re much faster.

    Oh no! Fateful day indeed. Ambrose met a rather unpleasant and untimely end. Carthac was a monster and oh boy did he cop it bad or what. And Merlyn has fallen and been raised at the same time. Reading between the lines of the story I see sorrow, loss and the pursuit of power in store for him, but also a certain sort of resignation to it all as if he’d long considered himself dead and removed. It is a heady mix and I note that power can corrupt. The irony, or perhaps it may be better to write, tragedy of the tale is that he outlives them all. I have known people who are much older than you or I who have expressed that emotion / opinion (the English language is not good at such times) – if you can call it that and it left an impression upon me.

    Oh yeah, the dominant narrative held me in thrall – until it failed spectacularly, and then I had to take a good, long hard look into myself. Part of this week’s story was about that.

    Wow. Talk about stealing ones thunder, and I’m particularly glad to read that the surviving common seaman had the good sense to set the record straight about his superiors. Merit is not what it was once worth, although I suspect that may be because the challenges presented in society aren’t dire and/or urgent at the moment. Should the situation change, then meritocracy comes to the fore.

    I read about the depots established on the islands for castaways. Did you know that the Great Ocean Road which runs along the coast to the south west of here, originally had a walking track cut into sometimes sheer cliffs for the benefit of surviving members of shipwrecks. They don’t call that stretch of water both the roaring forties and the ship wreck coast for nonce.

    Thanks for that, and it did look like a vehicle license plate, but the meaning and reference was clear. I tend to feel that a proper vampire would not so advertise themselves so freely. 🙂 Yeah, I read about the 1922 film and some of the film techniques were known even to me, like the shadow rather than the actuality. The German zombie film looks pretty cool. Fast zombies, I hate fast zombies. Why can’t they just shuffle along all docile and stuff…

    Hehe! Yah, I got that about you being ironic, it is just that it is bizarrely cold here at the moment and so I dunno, it’s probably affecting my brain or something… Another cold day here today. I doubt that it got as warm as 59’F. Bonkers.

    You said you were going to add the corn stalks back into the soil. I ran my lot through the electric chipper and within a few weeks the organic matter had been mostly absorbed back into the soil. It is a great idea to do what you are doing, and few people think to do that.

    Sorry, my mind is slipping. What do you mean when you use the word ‘Tower’? The first time you used it I assumed you mis-typed the word ‘Town’ but I don’t really know.

    Hope you are feeling better today? It’s no good feeling ill.

    What a nightmare of a problem: Where is everything in there? Did customers ask for the reconfiguration? Out of curiosity, did it seem to be done on a whim, or was the place refurbished?



  3. Yo, Chris – Maybe if you ask Santa, he’ll bring you a spring, for Christmas? So, did you ever read the book, “Cold Mountain?” I didn’t, but I saw the film. Both, an excursion into our Civil War.

    So when does a drought, stop being a drought, and just become the new normal? Idle speculation. Here, if we have a wet spring, and plant too early, seed rots in the ground. Timing planting is always fraught. Ya need rhythm! 🙂

    Sailing the wide accountant seas, was the best Monty Python sketch, ever! Well, in the top five, at least. When I worked retail, projected sales were always bumped up. And, our yearly raises depended on making the sales, or not. Hence, the 80 hour work weeks, during the holidays.

    And, todays ear worm is, the Beatles, “Long and Winding Road” (path.) It’s quit an accomplishment, and looks very handsome. Fences, steps and gates … shutes and ladders :-).

    If your melons sprouting is an exciting event, maybe you need to get out more? But, I know what you mean. There’s still something of a thrill, to put seeds in the ground and have them grow. And, grow food!

    Those currents look chock full of vitamin C. Of course, our climate is quit different, but to grow blueberries here, they need full sun. But we do have a few bushes, that for some unknown reason, seem to languish. That is a mystery, why you struggle so to establish walnut. Variety? Insufficient sacrifices to the Walnut God? There’s a couple of walnut volunteers, here, that keep persisting in coming up, right in the middle of a blueberry bush. What a cleaver adaptation, as I can’t dig them out. So, every year, I carefully cut them back to the ground. While trying to reign in my irritation, and not do in a blueberry bush.

    I still think Fern Gully needs a garden gnome. Or, a big plastic or concrete dinosaur. Maybe a live in hermit? I saw a 10 foot tall plastic Big Foot, at a garden store. The rocks and tree ferns just “make” that corner of your farm.

    I envy you your pyretherum. I planted a whole packet of seed and got … nothing. The flip side of an exciting turn of events.

    The roses are real stunners. Especially that coral colored one. Cont.

  4. Cont. I once noticed Steve take his partial plate out, and set it on the table. He’s been talked to, about contributing. Once, even I told him, “Steve! You’ve got to bring something, anything. Even a bag of crisps or a package of store bought cookies, will do!” To no avail. And, he’s likely to take a scoop of something, give it a good sniff, and put it back. He was in a bad motorcycle accident, at some point, even has a built up shoe, as a result of it. I wonder if it scrambled his brains, a bit?

    I don’t have problems with the truck being seen as easy transportation, as I established boundaries, early, and maintain them. I do small kindnesses, at time, but at my own speed and convenience. Keeps them off balance :-). I just had a small go-around with the Garden Goddess. I leant three ears of corn, for Thanksgiving “decor”, with the clear understanding that they were a loan. Well, they disappeared the day after Thanksgiving. I circulated through the grape vine, that I’d better get them back, if they wanted corn decor next year, and corn sheafs. 5 day deadline. Well, I got them back this morning, with a note saying she didn’t know who they belonged to… Oh, please.

    Beau was always Death to Possums, but I think he quit liked the bunnies. They’d wander into his pen, and he’d chase them out, but I noticed he always went about it, quit a big slower. And was more playful, with them.

    I quit liked how Merlin became the avenging wraith, ghosting about and terrorizing the enemy. Poor Merlin. First Tessa and then Ambrose. I thought the details on Ambrose’s demise was a bit sketchy. And the wildcat, making the horses bolt, a bit contrived. But, yes, people are stripped away from Merlin, at a frightful clip.

    Eleanor, my neighbor, often comments on that. A lot of the people she’s know, over her life, have passed on. She has family, right down to great grandchildren, but sometimes feels a bit neglected, by them. But, a few keep up with her. Just not as often as she would like. And, she’s not really all that demanding. Although, her hearing loss makes it hard to communicate, at times. But I have no problem.

    Well, the 1928 Rolls Wreath is a bit magic. There’s one scene where the police are right next to it, and take no notice. The henchman asks if the car is invisible. And the vampire says, no, they just don’t notice us. What the difference would be, I don’t know. I think Joe Hill is channeling a bit of his Dad’s “Christine” and “Maximum Overdrive.” Of course, the idea that technology turns on people, is an old trope. Even laundry manglers can be malign. :-). The ghost in the machine.

    59F? I’ll be ironic again, and say that’s shorts and flip flop weather, here. All what you’re acclimatized to. I did see a weather picture, California, I think, of a young man in shorts and flip flops, changing a tire … in the snow. Very foolish to travel through snowy country, in that type of attire. Oh, well. I think there’s still a couple of slots open, for nominations for this year’s Darwin Awards.

    Tower Avenue is Centralia’s high street. Used to be the heart of commercial district. Now, it’s probably half antique and junk stores, with a scattering of lawyers offices, a few restaurants and bars. Where I used to live.

    No real reasons given, for the changes at Safeway. I chatted a bit with the clerk about it, and she just referred to “Corporate” making those kinds of decisions. No impute from staff or customers. There’s probably some kind of “theory” behind it, but it could be a simple as “Let’s give the store a fresh look!” A gander at their sales figures, might be interesting. I’d guess, some of it might be, “Let’s make people run around and be exposed to new things, that they didn’t even know they wanted!” I think a consumer, who has their poop together, knows better. Anyone in their right mind knows that you a.) don’t shop hungry and b.) carry a list.

    The cold hangs on. Tiresome. Lew

  5. Chris,

    The crows and I have a similar understanding to that of you and the magpies. It certainly did NOT extend to the dogs.

    I tend to agree with you regarding university education. I also have post-graduate education. The return on the money just isn’t there. I suggest to any who listen to learn how to do things. Learn a trade, become a jack of all trades, etc., but not for new construction. The niche is in repairs and retrofitting, which will always have a market. There are some jobs that really can’t be automated and are useful. At least that’s the route I’d go.

    Thanks for the link to that article. It sounds as if the attorneys came out okay. One would think that, free speech or not, if one is going to write a scathing restaurant review, one had better be able to prove that the review was correct.

    You’re probably spot on. The Monkey King is working overtime.

    That was an interesting discussion about your old accounting management job. What you went through is one of the main reasons I never applied for a management position where I work. The politics can get unbearable in my senior level non-management position. The last manager for my small group, whose position remains unfilled 21 months after his retirement, eventually drove him nuts. He generally protected his staff from the normal nonsense, but he did relate to us one thing. He was entirely nonconfrontational, yet one senior management decision led him to fight and fight and fight until he was told to shut up lest they fire him for insubordination. That management decision basically ended the extremely successful program I’ve spend my career working in.

    Planting in this climate weirding is hard. It used to work like clockwork. Now it’s more of an art than a science. A diversity of plants is required, yet it is still HARD to know when to plant each thing.

    ““Best is enemy of the good”. True that. Sometimes it’s best to stick with “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sometimes the “improvement” being attempted ruins what was adequate.


  6. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry to hear your cold is continuing to linger and be a nuisance. You have my sympathies. It hung around me for about two weeks, and then one day at the end of the two weeks, I woke (!) up and early in the morning and my sinus decided that it was time to drain. A truly revolting experience, but also something of a relief.

    It is part of the writing journey to chuck in a sneaky cultural reference every now and then. It’s a bit like book recommendations don’t you reckon? 🙂 The local hamlet where I reside is named after the Indian tribe from that particular part of the world. I call it a hamlet because it really is just a collection of houses, although there was once an operational post office and primary school. Somebody once asked me in all seriousness what shops were located in the township. Things that make you go, hmm… The story is that back in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, timber getters who failed in the gold rush from that particular part of the US, plied their trade in this very mountain range and noticed a few similarities.

    You’re probably right about the climate variability being the new norm. We have not been kind to this old continent, and the band of habitable and arable land is remarkably small. The Bureau of Meteorology released a climate update which takes but a few minutes to appreciate the true horror: Bureau of Meteorology declares spring 2019 the driest on record.

    Rhythm is definitely the right approach. I’m trying over the years to develop a sense of when things feel right to plant given the prevailing conditions. Given I have limited access to water, I’m learning pretty fast, but even so a true appreciation may only develop after several decades of experience.

    Hehe! It was pretty funny, and the highlight of that particular Monty Python movie, which frankly told less of a story and was more of a collection of hashed together comedy sketches. Haha! You clearly understood my story, and how a person could get swept away on the rising tide of craziness. Incidentally, since those days I have this deep seated suspicion of what you described, and I know as the dreaded ‘top down’ budget. Yes, comfy folks at the top of the food chain decide that your life wasn’t difficult enough and so lifted expectations of performance. They never work. Incidentally, I note that in Camulod, Merlyn always utilised the superior ‘bottom up’ budget methodology (ask what people reckon they can do, and go from there). There is buy-in with such methodologies.

    A true masterly song. Let’s hope that there are not snakes among the ladders! 😉

    Small things and all that. Hehe! You may note that I rarely if ever speak of the larger events, instead I speak as to how they play out. It is the forgotten country. It is a bit like the rise of bargain shopping in your country and also here, and how much of a drama that has been. I walked away from the big end of town. Is this wrong? Dunno. And home grown melons are far superior to anything that you can purchase. There is a lovely lady that I know who is a vegan (not of the militant variety) and has done me some favours in the past out of kindness and I always try to gift her some ripe melons.

    How funny is that about planting blueberries in the full sun! What a difference half a world away makes. I’d like to believe that sacrificing at least five walnut trees to the walnut Gods would satisfy them, but they’re hungry blighters. I have a good feeling about the walnut seedling which has taken. It just looks healthy.

    You’ve inspired me to play Abbey Road softly in the background this evening.

    You may laugh, but I have it on good authority that there is indeed a real life hermit living not too far from here. Apparently the dude comes and goes as he pleases. I can see the appeal of such a life. You never know about when a garden gnome will enter into your life. My eyes are open and the elder folk of the forest may provide, although they may prefer that I get a few more ferns established in that fern gully first.

    Pyrethrum are a funny plant and they thrive on well drained soil and this curious thing called benign neglect – you may have encountered that state before? The few colonies of plants that grow here just do their own thing. Such plants make me look like I know what I’m doing.

    The rose terrace is going to get better and better. It is a pleasure to walk around in the late evening after a day of work and see what the plants have been up to during the day. We’re sort of discussing whether leaving the branching roses to just send shooters out to cover over the exposed soil batter on the edges of the terraces.

    Ah, well that puts a whole new spin on the story of Steve. He may not be able to be redeemed without further work. Double dipping is not cool in anyone’s language. I doubt very much that he is unable to learn, he just may not want to or see the point.

    I have heard tell that the devil is the father of lies, and yet there are lies for personal advantage and then there are social lies. I have long wondered about this subject and I tend to believe that the social lie which you were told is a way of smoothing over the social niceties and not backing the Garden Goddess into a corner. What do you reckon about that?

    Beau may have a better insight into the mind of Ollie the bunny chasing cattle dog. About a year ago, Ollie had to deal to a parrot, and all he wanted to do was play. Scritchy on the other hand – who is considerably older – just dealt to the parrot swiftly and finally and moved on with her life as if it was a part of her usual everyday experience.

    Merlyn used one of my favourite techniques when infiltrating the enemy camps and that was acting dumb. If it works… I really liked the story as to how he defeated Carthac and rose from the dead all at the same time, although he’s losing friends faster now than he is making them. There may be a lesson in there for us all! I guess that is what happens in life as one ages. And yes, Eleanor has a point and I did mention that I have heard that point of view offered by other people in similar circumstances. What do you do other than face the future with good grace?

    Not being noticed is a skill – exactly like Merlyn acting dumb and then poisoning a whole bunch of the enemy. The question really should be who is the dumbie in that particular circumstance?

    The weather forecast for the next week here looks pretty nice. And I reckon it is stretching the truth to call such weather shorts and flip-flop weather (although we call flip-flops, thongs down here, which has an entirely different and very surprising meaning in your part of the world). And we’ve all encountered such folks before, and given how people see the future, there are an awful lot of them around.

    Thanks for the explanation and mental picture of your main street. What an odd collection of businesses.

    Lists are good and keep a person on track! 🙂



  7. Hi DJ,

    The dogs clearly see the world differently, and it may be that they were playing with the crows? The magpies treat the dogs with a certain level of seriousness, but respect might be too big a call.

    Hey, that is a great point, and the old trades are often well remunerated. Now where was I reading something about that the other day… … Oooo! Here you go: Restoring heritage properties is a dying art but Graham is determined to pass on the tradition. He sounds alright that bloke.

    Ouch. All of the parties to that legal mess paid a high price. The reviewer moved down to Tasmania and is now a small holder and I believe raises heritage pigs and began a series titled ‘Gourmet Farmer’. There is no such thing as ‘free speech’ down here and you may note that I couch statements as beliefs and opinions rather than statements of fact for that very reason.

    Mate, I too have heard that claim of insubordination with the people in the story, and I quipped to them: What are we in the (a naughty word that rhymes with the word trucking) army? They seemed quite taken aback by my response. I don’t avoid the biffo, if only because it is easier to have the err, discussion, than sweep things under the carpet. I’m really sorry that it didn’t work out so well for you and it is tough to have your work disappear. It is a weight to carry, but success does not guarantee that policies get support.

    What do you do? I expect climate variability to get worse before too long, and oh yeah it makes timing planting very difficult. I read that yet another large dairy farm down here has just closed its doors and sold off the cows to the abattoir due to lack of profitability.

    We’ve all encountered a few of those unasked for improvements. 🙂 It’s a bit of a curse really.



  8. Hi, Chris!

    I love your maritime analogy. And you were perhaps a young and more reckless Chris? They wouldn’t catch you again! This: “Best is enemy of the good” is so true; thanks.

    Is the cold Antarctic air flowing up your way the reason for all your extra rain? At least, it seems like you are having more rain than usual. I wonder why the high UV rays haven’t been heating the ground more? After all, we are very near the solstice. With your weather lately I would think that the concrete is taking longer to cure.

    That’s not a path – that’s an avenue! I expect to see a horse and carriage driving down it with Ollie as coach dog.

    We have never had a problem with water coming down on our property from the gravel road 120 feet above us. That is because someone designed it well, or was lucky – it was once connected to a road that goes over the mountain, thankfully that was shut off before we got up here, and turned into a dead end. They also put drainage pipes at intervals. However, we do get a lot of water down our driveway, but for some reason it hasn’t been a problem, I guess because it runs past the house and down a natural small gully. The soil at the bottom of that is very nice and I sometimes gather it up for the garden.

    I can’t understand why melon seeds would germinate, and corn not, in your cool weather. I have always found it to be the opposite. At least you have fruit.

    Gooseberry wine sounds very nice.

    Are all the walnuts that you have planted the same kind? Black walnut is native to here, but the commercial walnuts are English (Persian). I don’t know how well English walnuts would grow here.

    Your wormwood looks like one of our weeds. I remember you said that apple trees were doing well with it near them.

    I love that peachy rose. And the other as well.

    How thoughtful – and practical – is it that they cut a path along the cliffs for shipwreck survivors. It also shows how common such a terrible occurrence must have been.

    When in the grocery store yesterday I saw turkeys for sale at 39 cents a pound. There must be some incredible subsidies there.


  9. @DJ
    You certainly been having a rough time of it. Seems like these things come in waves so hopefully this is the end for you for awhile.


  10. Hi Chris,
    You sure are having the weather challenges this year. The proximity of the fires must be rather unnerving to say the least.
    Thanks for the tale of your accounting jobs. I decided to get out of accounting mostly due to the long hours though I questioned how meaningful it was keeping track of other people’s money. My jobs were all with small operation s
    which was certainly better than being lost in a large corporation. My sister is one of several comptrollers of a growing company. For many years she enjoyed her job but as they keep acquiring more businesses that’s not so much the case. As you might guess with my accounting background I’m the one who keeps track of our money. I’ve also been the executor of five estates. I am dumbfounded how many people have no idea where their money goes.

    Where is the fluffy collective this week?

    Doug only sold honey one out of the three days the tree farm was open last weekend as the weather was pretty awful Saturday and Sunday – rainy and windy. He just sets up outside under a canopy. However, on Friday he and the tree farm had the best day they’ve ever had. They’ve sold so many trees they’re only open next weekend in order to have enough trees in coming years. You may recall they bought our 44 acre parcel next to our old house that was owned by my family’s trust as they are looking to expand big time. There’s lots of new trees planted there now as well.


  11. Hello Chris
    I am back on line far sooner than I had expected.
    Other people have commented on my stepfather’s language. It is the result of a very expensive private school education and an indicator of class in this country. His education was paid for by an uncle who was a cardinal and expected my stepfather to enter the church. As it turned out, the result was the most rabid atheist I have ever encountered.
    Yesterday I cooked and ate a wonderful roast pheasant. Have never had this before. An acquaintance of Son had been given a lot of them but due to a manky (never seen this word in print only spoken) hand had been unable to pluck them. So Son did this and was given some in thanks. It appears that people here shoot them but don’t eat them and they just get dumped. Son found a large bin bag full of them in a field many years ago. Wanting to just shoot seems quite nuts to me.


  12. Yo, Chris – I think the reason this cold isn’t as bad as some is, I’ve managed to keep my sinuses open. I used saline spray, early and often. Seemed to work. No basis in science, but just what happened. Always handy to have a bottle of that stuff around. But buy the stuff made for babies. The adult stuff is awful.

    We also had several small towns, around our county, that are no longer there. Little coal camps and timber towns. When travel was rough, and arduous, the basics had to be more at hand. There’s a certain band of collectors, that collect postcards with cancelation marks from towns that no longer exist :-). Sometimes, the canceled stamps are all that remains.

    Cliff Mass’s latest post said we almost had the driest November on record. Our long range forecast is hot and dry at times, and then deluge, when it rains.

    So shutes and ladders is a song? Way back when I was a kid, it was a popular children’s board game. Funny how language changes. Flip flops were also called thongs, here. Until the advent of using the word to denote a style of skimpy underwear (aka, dental floss.).

    It’s always a surprise when I pull a carrot out of the ground, and it tastes so much better than anything I get at the store.

    A rose bank would be lovely. Pays dividends. High rate of interest :-).

    We actually have a “Main Street”, in Centralia. Wishful thinking on the town planners part. The “real” main street became Tower Avenue. probably because it was a block of (and parralleled (sic)) the railroad tracks. I’ve seen pictures from the 20s and 30s of Tower Avenue. Fridays and Saturday nights, everyone “came to town.” Traffic jams and bumper to bumper traffic … old cars with the occasional farm wagon, mixed in. Back then, there were two big (for the town) department stores, a drugstore with soda fountain, several movie theaters, hardware stores, clothing stores. And on the second floors were all the lawyers, dentists and doctors. Small hotels. It was a happening place :-). Lew

  13. Yo, Chris – (Again). Hope my last post didn’t come through 4 or 5 times. There was strangeness, at my end. I think what happens is that when you’re tinkering under the hood, stuff happens. I noticed between starting my post, and, attempting to post it, you’d put through several posts from your other constant readers. My post didn’t get an edit screen, and, disappeared. But by hitting the back button, and cutting and pasting, I managed to re-post again … and again. Oh, well. Hope there wasn’t too much confusion, at your end.

    Hermits. A few weeks ago, YouTube, in it’s algorythmic wisdom tossed up a post about a hermit who lived in one of your rain forests. And interesting and rather inspiring story. From burnt out forest hermit, to university lecturer. It’s about 30 minutes long.

    I also got an Acorn catalog, yesterday, and noticed a couple of items of interest. They are the American distributors for a lot of the BBC movies and series.

    “Classic Musicals: 50 Movies” :-). 66 hours on 12 DVDs! I’m sure you’d be interested. :-). $25.

    Probably more up your alley, “Rocky and Bullwinkle: The Complete Series.” All 163 episodes, in broadcast order! Extras! Episode Guide! All for the low, low price of $75! I don’t plan to purchase it, or, the aforementioned. But, it’s nice to know R & B are out there. Lew

  14. Chris,

    I keep forgetting to mention something. I’ve got hazelnut (philbert) trees and walnut trees. The squirrels get all the nuts. They also bury walnuts all over the flower beds, so each spring I pull up several new walnut trees that are where I don’t want them. Perhaps I should send them to you? 😉

    Other than Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz catching and killing a mother and juvenile crow once, the crows were more of a nuisance to her than her and the crows joking around. Not often, and always with a good reason, but a few times the entire murder of dozens of crows gave her grief. I stepped in and told them what was and wasn’t acceptable and things calmed down, although on one occasion I did have to bring Cheyenne indoors for an hour. That allowed the crows to escort a juvenile that couldn’t fly out of the yard.

    Interesting article. Making shakes with those old tools looks like a specialized technique and hard work, but they look wonderful. Hopefully enough youngsters learn how to do that.

    Wise idea couching things as opinion! I get some mileage at the job using that technique when forced to discuss controversial things. Once upon a year, I also got a lot of mileage out of playing dumb. It took the powers that be a few years to catch onto what I was doing. I’ve found in strange and new situations that it really isn’t a good idea to let on how much I know.

    It’s interesting that the program is dead, the other tech and I both know it, our boss knows it, his boss knows it. But we can’t officially kill it and spend all of our time on other things, as the elected officials refuse to acknowledge that the program has died. It is a political nightmare as a result. When having to slog through trying to work the dead program, it’s very hard to avoid the attitude “After 10 minutes at work, I use the ‘rhymes with truck word’ as a comma.” Oh well, less than 15 months and I get to “collapse now and avoid the rush”.

    Dairy farms are struggling in the USA also. Many people don’t drink milk any more. Several of us need to avoid the casein protein so drink almond milk or something. It all adds up to problems for the dairy farmers.

    I think you and Lew discussed the giant car mashup? Cliff Mass discussed it with pictures here: This occurred just west of Spokane. One of my coworkers missed being in it by about 15cm! He realized the conditions were bad, slowed down, saw all the stopped tail lights and was able to stop 15cm short of the last car in the mess. and the car behind him stopped 15cm short of my coworker. It took him over an hour to travel the last 10km to his house.


  15. Hi Pam, Margaret, Inge, Lewis and DJ,

    Tis the dread mid-week hiatus and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (or a fluffy for that matter). Actually, the wildlife seem very subdued this evening, so they too must be aware that it is the mid-week hiatus. Stranger things have happened.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, speaking of computer problems, some shmuck in Singapore was trying to hack into my business website. Although why they’d want to do that is a question that is beyond me – it is a very boring website. What a nuisance and an eater of my life to deal with, and I dealt to them, boring folks, have they nothing better to do with their time. I hear that rainfall has been very low in Singapore of late due to the same weather conditions that are affecting Australia. They should worry more about that little problem…

    No stress, I received all of the comments and just deleted the extra ones. It is not a problem at all. Incidentally, I was doing a bit of website maintenance this morning which may have caused the issue for you. Updates come through thick and fast, and I keep the bare minimum add ons to the core software. Oh well, not very interesting and all that, and I’ll change and do my maintenance at night and that should eliminate that problem and it really is no skin off me.

    Wow! Things are definitely heating up in Camulod with a monster invasion. I wonder if Horsa’s Danes have to decide who’s side they’re on, the oldies or the new comers? What a decision they’re going to have to make. I would think that the invaders might have issues with food after not too long.

    Whatever works with reducing the impact of a cold is a great idea. I tend to keep very hydrated and drink lots of water, and that helps my sinuses. I’ve never tried the spray and will have a look the next time I’m at the chemist. I’ve always been mildly amused how chemists (or pharmacies) are described as ‘drug stores’ in your lingo. It sounds all a bit naughty to my ears, like as if a person was heading off to see their local dealer…

    I can’t think of any towns that have been abandoned down here, although there are some places that have only a few hardy souls remaining. I read about one a long time ago and the town may have been abandoned due to heavy metal contamination but I can’t quite recall the details… … Oh no! It’s worse than I thought: Tourists warned over visiting asbestos-riddled Wittenoom, Australia’s most dangerous ghost town. I’d be pretty sure that I’ve come int contact with that material as it was used in a whole bunch of products and was only banned in 1985. This is what a poisoned planet looks like.

    What fires a collectors interest could make for an interesting thesis?

    I read the Cliffmass blog entry and to be honest it reads like the sort of climate that I have here, without all the snow and stuff. Yeah, but I reckon he’s right about things getting wetter, when the climate gets around to doing so. What is your take on that?

    Nope, I meant snakes and ladders the game. A mate tells me that board games are beginning to have a resurgence.

    Yup, fresh carrots and pretty much most fresh vegetables and fruit taste better than the purchased stuff. Carrots grow wild here, although over the years the wild carrots have lost their orange colour and reverted to something closer looking to a parsnip, but with the taste of carrot.

    Hehe! I’ll keep your rose bank idea in mind. I hear the capital growth is good too! 🙂

    I can see how the main street became the street alongside the railway. Makes perfect sense. I reckon the thought of town planning must be a joke I don’t quite get because to me it seems like a reactionary system pushed by developers. Surely a community can have a say as to what it should look like and how it will function? The nearby town has most of the primary schools on one side of the freeway on the outer edge, whilst the majority of folks live on the other side of the freeway, so each day huge numbers of folks drive backwards and forwards. It just doesn’t look good to me.



  17. Yo, Chris – Your comment to Pam about “Best is the enemy of good.” I ran across a saying the other day, from our mythical (for good or bad) state of Texas. “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.” I may post both next to my computer :-).

    Sorry about the duplication. At least my deathless prose, wasn’t lost :-). My computer has been a bit hinkey (a highly technical and scientific term) lately. I don’t know if it’s my computer, our Wi-fi network here at The Institution, or, the Net, in general.

    Given the state of our pharmaceutical industry, visiting the chemist is much like visiting a drug dealer.

    Wittenoom is a bit like Chernobyl … on a much smaller scale.

    Why do people collect?

    There are many articles on the net about the psychology of collecting. And, I’ve seen lists longer than this.

    I expect to see more rain storms, with huge amounts of water dumped and stalled weather systems. We haven’t had a good flood, in awhile.

    I’ve read a few articles that there are board game cafes, now. I suppose they’ll be a fad, like any other. Here … and gone.

    Well, unless you have tight zoning, towns grow as they will. Needs must. The avenue that runs parallel of Tower Avenue, is Railroad Avenue. It used to be lined with hotels, and a lot of the businesses on Tower, that extended through the whole block, had two facades … one on each street.

    Off to gas with my friend Scott. Hit the bank, the veg store, the library. Typical Wednesday. Lew

  18. Hi Lewis,

    The Texan saying is a goodie. Another along those lines is that: It is what is, and it ain’t what it ain’t. Clearly from the school of stoic philosophy. Oh, I was just replyint to your comment and my eye felt really irritated and when I made a closer inspection with a mirror, there was an eye lash in there. Not good and I had to flush it out.

    Speaking of unwell computers, and other matters. How is the cold today? Hope you are feeling better?

    Today was another glorious and cool but sunny spring day, and I woke up on the wrong side of bed. Plans were that work needed doing, and the editor suggested that I do other things. Other things it was then, and so I welded up two gates out of the scrap security doors that I purchased a while ago at the tip shop.

    I’d bought a spare welder a few months ago (a victim of a 50% off sale, alas I am weak) and used it for the first time today. It’s a great little unit. My other welder is about 45 years old, but I suspect that it will outlast this new welder by about 40 years. In the big smoke I used to live opposite a sculptor who I was on good terms and he let me use his workshop – which was enormous – when I as fabricating steel projects. He had an equally old and ancient welder and swore by it, and I guess he’d know. Still the new one is good.

    Hehe! Yeah, that was my sneaky intent, but we don’t call them that down here and to do so would raise eyebrows and people would seriously wonder what a person saying that would be up to. Picking up baggies would be the guess. But yeah, they do earn such a nomiker. Has there been any progression on the opiod crisis in your country? I believe the distribution of the stuff was recently throttled down here.

    Yes, Chernobyl. It does make my wonder whether nefarious folks are dropping further toxic waste in that locale. It would not surprise me at all. Does anyone ever get updates on Fukushima these days or has it all faded from the public mind?

    I’m going to savour the collectors article for tomorrow evening!

    I’ll try and get the gates installed tomorrow on the new garden terrace project. That is the plan anyway…

    Cheers and gotta bounce!


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