Titanic Days

It is hard to think straight when there is the sound of a petrol (gas) generator chugging away on the other side of the door. We’re pretty much onto the details of the weather forecast, but some days even we get things wrong. With the original forecast in mind, we committed to using the electric oven for four hours earlier today. Dog biscuits were baked. A couple of fresh bread loaves were made. Vegetables were roasted for use later in the week on home made pizza and in other meals. And all the while we used far more electricity than we generated, and the battery voltage dropped.

Thick cloud obscures the winter sun over the central highlands of Victoria

Thick cloud obscured the promised sunlight and the solar power system only managed to generate less than an hour of peak sunlight for the entire day. The amount generated was still an impressive effort, it just wasn’t enough. And all the while we secretly hoped that it all somehow all didn’t matter and things would be fine. By early evening as darkness descended over the farm, the battery voltage looked much like the stricken Titanic, and you knew that without help it was going to sink further into the murky abyss and not come back any time soon.

If the battery voltage gets too low, the inverter which converts the battery voltage into the house mains voltage, simply switches itself off, and there is not much anyone can do about that until the battery voltage recovers. Unless of course the happily and noisily chugging away generator is brought into action and it puts some charge into the household batteries.

It’s been a bit of a long term personal goal to not have to use the fossil fuel generator at all. This is the second time this year that the generator has had to be lugged out and used, but hopefully it is the last time. However, you never really know how things will roll on that front.

One of the great lies pedaled around at the moment is that we can somehow have today’s civilisation except that it will all be powered by 100% renewable energy technologies. A decade ago I would have been cheering on such a future, however, nowadays with the sound of the generator chugging away on the other side of the door, I’m not so sure that it is possible. Of course due to the inevitable depletion of finite fossil fuels, some day we will as a species get to experience a 100% renewable energy future, however the details may vary wildly from today’s claims.

Recently I’ve been reading a book by the New Orleans author Azby Brown, titled: “Just Enough”. The book has the catchy by-line: “Lessons in living green from traditional Japan”. The book is a superb read as it describes in minute detail how a city in Edo-era Japan operated using predominantly local resources.

As an interesting side story, a local bloke from around these parts who I knew well, profferred a blunt observation many years ago about my own house. He opined that it was not a posh house! Posh, of course is an English derived word which refers to: “the quality of being elegant, stylish, or upper class”. I can’t argue with the local blokes opinion, but the thing is as I was reading the book on Edo-era Japan I had this bizarre realisation that the house here replicated many of the aspects of the home and surrounds of a reasonably high caste Samurai from that earlier time period. The author had used the following words to describe the life of such persons under the title of: A life of restraint. And I can’t argue with that observation.

Anyway, all those years ago, it wasn’t lost on me, that the local bloke was bluntly suggesting that the house which the editor and I had built with our own hands, had little to no market appeal. The author of the book on Edo-era Japan was perhaps more eloquent, but no less blunt in his assessment of the err, current (and perhaps posh?) housing trends, and here I quote the author:

“Virtually every detail is imbued with significance, with suggestion, and with information about the occupants, their history, their social standing. These homes (i.e. the Samurai homes) express education and cultural background, unique tastes and idiosyncrasies.

The samurai house opens up to the first time visitor like a valued book, all the more remarkable because it is so utilitarian. In our drive to preserve our privacy and security (and here the author is critiquing current housing by way of contrast), we have perhaps allowed our homes to say less about us, on the one hand to conform to fashion and social norms and on the other to indicate truly nothing significant. Seeking freedom, we have perhaps achieved rootlessness”

A blistering critique. I count a few people as friends who have like the editor and I, constructed an idiosyncratic home that is a reflection of their personalities and history. However the paperwork and legal hoops required to achieve such an outcome truly boggles my mind, and such a journey is not for the faint of heart. It shouldn’t be that hard for what is a small house up in the forest.

The house here reflects the editor’s and my own life of restraint. It is now deep winter and the mountain air outside the house is icy cold. Despite the minor inconvenience of running the generator twice this year, the house is toasty warm and welcoming, and it fulfills our needs. And importantly, the house and surrounds tell a story of restraint for those who care to read.

Thankfully for me, all is now quiet again because the generator eventually used up all of the fuel in its small tank.

Yesterday evening I watched a sobering Frontline documentary on the Paradise fire in California. It is available for viewing on YouTube. The editor and I volunteered with the local rural fire brigade for a few years and we learned a lot during that time. One of the things we learned out of the truly epic Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 was to leave early and let the house look after itself. The house was designed and constructed to withstand a minimum of 30 minutes of direct flame contact before burning to the ground. It is one of the few in this state that is so designed. Even so, it is not worth risking our lives, as we may have stuffed something up during the construction process. It is worth noting that I read somewhere long ago that it takes about 4 minutes for a house to burn to the ground.

Anyway, one way to reduce the fire risk when your house is located in a tall forest like this one, is to clean up the surrounding forest. The indigenous folks did just that for tens of millennia before the Europeans arrived on the scene, and they apparently have no oral history of the sorts of large scale fires that we now get. I’d have to suggest that they were not as lazy or as negligent in their care of the environment as we seem to be. So I spent two days this week cleaning up the surrounding forest. It was a right mess in there.

Two days of burn offs took place this week

I also recently read a book on indigenous land management practices by the author: Victor Steffensen, and the book was titled: “Fire Country”. It is an excellent read. The indigenous author made a witty observation about one particular forest being so thick with piled up organic matter that ‘even the kangaroos could not hop through because of the mess’. Of course he then went on to explain that the unfortunately the kangaroos had to hop down the road where they were likely to end up as road kill, and then they had to eat near to or on farms where they may be likely shot. The surrounding forest around here looked a lot like that description.

It is a mess in there

It is hard work, and all of that accumulated material is what drives the really hot wildfires down here. And there is no end point for the work as it requires continual maintenance, and for multiple generations. The alternative of doing nothing and letting a very hot fire rip through the area plays out continually, and it is not a good outcome for the environment.

We constructed a new steel rock gabion cage.

A new steel rock gabion cage was constructed

The cage was placed into position and is now about 15% full.

The new steel rock gabion cage is now about 15% full

The line of rock gabion cages is looking really cool. And there is only one more cage to construct and place and the line will be complete.

The line of rock gabion cages is nearing completion. Plum approves.

In the above photo, you’ll see three large round raised garden beds which we use to grow potatoes. The raised beds have excellent drainage and plants grow really well in them. However, these three beds will soon be moved as they make way for a greenhouse which we’ll use to raise seedlings.

The potato beds will be placed on the highest garden terrace, which is soon set to be lengthened. Unfortunately at the far end of the highest garden terrace, there is a really massive rock. We began to tackle the rock by lifting it ever so slightly out of the ground using hand tools. The plan is to break the rock up into smaller chunks. It is a plan, and we have no idea whether this is possible (or not) to achieve, but we’ll give it a go anyway.

A huge rock sits at one end of the highest garden terrace. Plum is uncertain.

Long term readers will be happy to know that we have begun training the two new sheep dog puppies (Plum and Ruby) in earnest. And they’re learning fast.

Plum pretends to be obedient, but in reality she has many of her own thoughts. Here Plum contemplates.

Some winter days the sun shines, and other days low thick cloud brings plenty of rain. The warm then cold wet weather is producing a bumper crop of fungi. And some forms are really odd looking:

An odd looking fungi which turned up this week

I spotted this morning that the sap is rising in some of the fruit trees. As the sap rises, the fruit trees grow (whilst still looking deciduous):

This fig tree has produced new growth

And speaking of new growth, an abandoned birds nest (which was unfortunately located in a deciduous Japanese maple) has sprouted with moss.

This birds nest has recently sprouted fresh green moss

Onto the flowers:

I genuinely have no idea what this flower is. Can anyone assist with identification?
Geranium’s continue to delight
This should not be – Roses in deep winter
More Roses in deep winter
A delightful Silver Banksia flower brightens up the winter forest and provides winter food for the honey eaters

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 671.0mm (26.4 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 657.2mm (25.9 inches)

78 thoughts on “Titanic Days”

  1. Yo, Chris – Well, I think you’re preaching to the congregation, here. Alternative energy will probably never replace our current arrangements. But, it probably bears repeating, in case some clueless newbie comes wandering by. No civilization, as is. Funny, I was just ruminating on what “as is” means in the tat trade. Broken, flawed or less than perfect. Condition means nothing to the seller, and, everything to the buyer.

    A posh house means something you see in Architectural Digest magazine. The places that look like no one lives there. When did a home become an investment? Something that is looked at as only a salable commodity. I think we can thank real estate agents and bankers, for that. Mostly. And, I think, the paperwork and legal hoops are all in service of that idea. Often, one hears things like, “My grandfather (or father) built the house.” They wouldn’t have a chance, these days. And, that’s sad.

    When I was growing up, I had a friend who’s parents would build a house “on spec.” If they lived in it for two (or three?) years, they avoided a lot of taxes. So, he grew up in houses that he could never hang anything on the walls of his room. They were built with sales appeal, in mind, so had to be preserved in a real estate ready condition. He was a bit wild. I think because “home” was so temporary and oppressive.

    Well, I’m glad your forest is all clean and tidy, now. For the moment 🙂 . And all that wonderful ash for the orchard and gardens. I wonder if the Tree Dudes take note of your stewardship of the land?

    Gabion cages (that look wonderful) and enormous rocks. Chris Sisyphus strikes again. I knew you’d work in rocks, somewhere.

    The fungi reminds me of Audrey, from “Little Shop of Horrors.” Would you stick your finger, in there?

    The mystery flower might be a mum, of some kind. The roses are a wonder. But when are you going to be able to prune them, if they never go dormant? Lew

  2. Your mystery flower perhaps DHALIA (Bishop of Llandaf),obviously a “euoropean escapee”,much like your
    ruined forest if your photo’s (above) is indicative of the general state of “Australian Sylvan Landscapes” and “Winter Roses in Bloom”
    I enjoy reading your posts and hope that the re-location of the potatoe
    container beds go well.
    As an aside note, will you be redirecting ground water from the land above into your raised “potatoe beds”?

  3. G’day Xabier!

    Well that would be an appropriate way to conduct a friendly greeting down here. 🙂

    That’s a great quote and I really enjoy the colour and drama that the dogs bring to the farm. They earn their breakfast and dinner on that score alone, although you would be pleased to note that between the three of them they have in the past few months routed and also possibly eaten every rabbit for a wide swath of the landscape, and they give the rats a run for their lives too. And it has been a very long while since deer have dared visited the farm. Vigilance is necessary and their youthful energy provides that ingredient. All up, they’re valuable members of the farm.

    Actually it is very wise to have so trained your dogs. They appreciate the intellectual challenge and they want to fit in and know the rules. Plus they’re too self absorbed to be the boss, and so if the dogs have the upper hand over people they tend to escalate bad behaviour. Scritchy took so much energy during her final few weeks that we neglected the training of the younger pups, and that was frankly an error.

    Absolutely, we know not what hidden talents lurk beneath the surface just waiting for the right opportunity to be exercised and given the light of day. You were fortunate to have been in that situation with your dogs.

    It makes for a good story, that’s what it all means to me!

    Wait until you get to experience a crazy wet summer, and you’ll be eternally thankful for the raised beds as they are one of the few methods that works well and reliably in such dreadful conditions. One year, 55 inches of rain fell over the farm, and that was a nightmare growing year.

    Mate, we’ve finally been getting news reports from that little corner of the world, and as you allude, the news is not so good. Perhaps not a good place to venture too right now as you note. You should see the craziness going on down here. Strange days, in fact Titanic days…

    Cheers

    Chris

  4. Hi Margaret,

    Sorry I couldn’t get to reply yesterday. I was swamped and then forgot what I was going to write about. This situation was far removed from my usual state of organisation, but you know – these things happen.

    Problems with nice telco companies are the forgotten tenth circle of Dante’s inferno. Only those who have been stuck in such a vortex of true horridness know the pain that is that particular circle. And as you note, it is a circle because after many hours of pain, you can find yourself right back at the start and the problem isn’t fixed. It is meant to wear you out so you give up. It is a dastardly act, don’t you reckon? Been in that dimension of Hell. Hey, I’ve had modem’s give up the ghost after about two years of use, and it is really weird because the pesky little devices partly work, and so you think that it is something you’ve done, but no the modem is dead and/or dying. Shocking devices.

    I’ll be curious to hear how your trip to the library goes. Hey, is the book club meeting up yet in person? The groups that I’m involved with are still keeping distance via electronic means. Oh well.

    Doug is a smart man to have dodged that particular jaunt. Oh yeah, and for your edification I too would have found a reason, no correct that, any reason whatsoever, to dodge such an experience. You’re a saint and you need a medal for enduring that experience. Good luck! 🙂 I’m ‘old school’ and would opt for a low key event. The A-bomb discussion I would wield is that I’ve been to plenty of big weddings which ended in divorces – but that is truly a brutal tactic – and wins nobody any friends. So yeah, best not try that one. But it is a goodie.

    Quiet time is good. When do the chickens come back from the processor?

    Is there a heat wave going on in your half of the continent? We’re not getting much news down here on that front now. What’s it like? It is incredibly wet and very damp here. The local council just dumped many truck loads of crushed rock over the road leading higher up from here and over the mountain pass. To say that that road is wet is a true understatement.

    I’ll bet nothing up your way compares to the craziness that is down here on that front. The state government just took things to 11.

    The dogs training is going very well. They now sit when commanded, come when called, and we’re figuring the next move after that. You should see the two pups sitting patiently at the door waiting to be let outside. Unsupervised they are now only allowed out one at a time, and the two remaining dogs get unceremoniously chucked into the dog enclosure. They blew it, and they know it.

    Cheers

    Chris

  5. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, and the wildlife dimension is often a subject that barely gets onto anyone’s minds, and if you have land under cultivation, well there are consequences to the wildlife from that activity. The other thing that is lost on people, is that not all of the wildlife is working against a farmers interest. For example, the wombats and kangaroos convert the grass to manure. The wallabies prune the lower branches of fruit trees thus keeping an open under story through the orchards. And the magpies and kookaburra’s often challenge the parrots who would otherwise tend to enjoy consuming fruit. And they most certainly clear off the cockatoos who would love eating my nut harvest. So it is not all bad news, and if they stop doing that work, well then I have to do it. It is not all smooth sailing, but it more or less works. As you note, so far strawberries are the only plant that I have had no harvest from without completely fencing out all of the wildlife. Must be something in the berries, huh? 🙂 Possibly blueberries fall into that category too, I just don’t have enough plants to worry about it, and currants, jostaberries and gooseberries are far easier on that front and better adapted to the hot weather.

    Dunno about whether the dogs will get their act together. My gut feeling says no, so nowadays they are only allowed out unsupervised one dog at a time, and we roster them. The other two dogs get to cool their paws in the dog enclosure and too bad for them. I have little sympathy for them on that score. They blew it.

    Good to hear that Thordog was well socialised as not all dogs are. I’ve heard some accounts from animal shelters that that is a major strike against a dog if they can’t be socialised. It shouldn’t be funny, but your story of Thordog’s brief family holiday is pretty funny. What a cheeky hound.

    I was bit embarrassed about Old Fluffy, fluff-bombing the dog obedience school. Oh yeah, she was super bad that dog, but a truly loyal companion so I made allowances for her occasional return to true form. Ruby has some traits along those lines and I have high hopes for that dog that she may one day come close to Old Fluffy.

    Old Fluffy did a similar trick to Thordog. A neighbour was looking after her, and she got away. The adjacent neighbours found a dog, but for some reason described the dog as a ‘foxy’ because she had, I guess, a face resembling a fox. A dubious identification but the folks there did smoke a lot of weed. Anyway, I came back to discover the distraught neighbour who was in tears because Old Fluffy was gone, but then she told me that the adjacent neighbour had found a dog but it wasn’t Old Fluffy because it was a fox terrier. Within a minute or two I’d given the neighbour a warm consoling hug, and then retrieved Old Fluffy from the adjacent neighbour. I was left wondering about the intellectual skills of my two neighbours and candidly the results were in and they weren’t good. Old Fluffy, like Thordog had had a great time.

    Well yeah, to get along with each other in society as it currently stands, we really have to compartmentalise activities and thoughts because it saves our brains the effort of having to reconcile our activities with the results of those activities. It is an impressive feat of thinking to have exploited that trick, but it is very common. It is like driving around in a huge SUV with a bumper sticker that suggests something odd like: Act on climate change NOW! It makes no sense, but there is no point bursting peoples happy bubbles as it serves little purpose and only causes a lot of angst. Nature will have the final say, and neither you nor I have to do anything for that to happen.

    Conclusions are correct IF the underlying assumptions are correct. Did we just stray into the realm of economics here? Hehe! Bad Chris! Exactly, a minor tornado hit here one Christmas day. Feral weather, crazy high winds and 100mm of rain in an hour, but maybe less than that time period. I don’t expect one to hit again for a very long time, but there is some value in understanding that it is indeed a possibility and perhaps should be considered. But yeah, I hear you about the snow story!

    Good stuff that you could phone in on the meeting. And very wise to alert the folks to your continuing presence, I wouldn’t have thought of doing that. 🙂 Between you and I, it is not a bad idea to distance yourself a bit from the day to day stuff there. How are things going in your part of the world? It has just gone to crazy plus down here. Oh yeah. Strange days indeed.

    Cheers

    Chris

  6. Hi Lewis,

    Explosions at 1am are not to my liking at all. Sorry to hear that your chin wag with Eleanor was drowned out by the ruckus. Ah, but the consolation prize was that Susan was mildly annoyed by your holiday prank. Seriously, Susan probably loves the attention and the chance for a good practice of nose in the air and sniff of disdain in your direction move number three. You fortunately avoided the more unpleasant move number two. A mate of mine has a theory that only the even numbered original cast Star Trek films were any good, and I can’t argue with that line of thinking.

    So I’ve noticed something about the home made olive oil soap. It is a truly amazing cleaner. I’ve been testing it on all sorts of materials and it is amazing stuff. I’m starting to wonder what is in commercial soaps and detergents? Stainless steel comes up an absolute treat with this olive oil soap, and I first noticed it when the kitchen sink started looking as if it was being polished, just by using the stuff in water. Weird… The interesting thing is that the dishes and cutlery don’t dry as well when using the olive soap, but then that is what dish towels are used for…

    Scott’s reaction is not far removed from what I’m experiencing with people down here. There is a real malaise settling in. The best thing to do is turn off the news and stop getting those messages into your head. My gut feeling is that people are meant to feel like how you described Scott as feeling. It is a real problem and I have no idea what the end game of this particular adventure is, but certainly slowing the movement of people around the world seems to be one goal based on the outcomes I’m seeing.

    If you want a glimpse into the sudden burst of craziness down here well here goes: Melbourne public housing residents welcome coronavirus lockdown, but voice concerns. The towers are sort of like our version of The Projects.

    Incidentally people get into Scott’s professional area because they are interested in such matters. It would be very hard to apply such learning to oneself, as that is a very difficult proposition. And social isolation can be very hard on some folks. I’m like you and it doesn’t really bother me too much, although I do actually enjoy catching up with people as I’m reasonably social. I just need quiet time afterwards to recover. Most of my friends though are keeping their distance and using electronics to achieve that, but I’m still keeping to my usual schedules and stuff and just modifying them here and there. The thing is I didn’t live a lavish life beforehand and so it has been relatively easy to adapt to changed circumstances. I see that other people are taking the loss much harder. Plus you know what, having already known the world to fall out underneath me during the early 90’s was very good preparation for this. I know people both younger and older who have never experienced that loss.

    Wow, I can see that fusing gold to the glass would have been extraordinarily hard. That’s real craftsmanship. Glad to hear that you make exceptions to the blue rule. A very thoughtful gift too. When I was a kid that’s how people did their Christmas shopping, and you’d remember the lay-by systems in place. Stores loved that stuff as it bred loyalty. Hey, I can offer no comparative opinion on the pine cone toilet paper usage, but at a wild guess it might be a bit scratchy. 🙂

    Yeah, that was my point too about the marbles, I couldn’t give a toss (that is also a dodgy marble pun). I don’t know why the concern was even being brought to my attention. The thing is, if you attempt to care for everything, you end up caring for nothing.

    Haha! Ah, Betty White, yes of course. Charming. She was very amusing in The Proposal.

    That’s funny about the dogs, and it is the current theory. Wild dogs would have crunched the bones too. Not much left in that big a place. I doubt the couple will ever be found. Lesson learned – don’t go annoying the guy as he might be trouble. From all accounts he plays harmless pranks on those that do not annoy him. Still one would want to tread carefully and warily around him.

    The cinemas down here have reopened, but with distancing it might be hard to make a buck for the cinemas. I hope the film turns up somewhere.

    I’ll mention the centrifuge idea to the editor – as she is the food science whizz, I’m merely the sous chef.

    Since I got that jumper with the lanolin soaked wool, sheep have been looking at me all funny like. Not sure I’m entirely comfortable about that, and so we washed the jumper again, this time with eucalyptus oil which is pretty potent.

    Hey, that was what I was thinking about Arthur and his knights. In the story, when Sir Lance had bested Arthur’s enemy, he let him go to Arthur’s and Camulod’s eventual downfall. There is a moral dilemma in there, and it is not lost on me that the story has stood the test of time and here we are discussing the king, when his foe who was ultimately successful in all versions of the story, is not so revered. What does that all mean, is the real question? I also believe that one of the recurring themes in the story is that of over-reach. When the characters had A, and could have achieved B, they went for broke and sought C and ultimately and utterly failed. What do you reckon about that side of the story? It reads a bit like a warning tale to me but I have no idea how others see it.

    Mr Kunstler wrote the best analysis of renewable energy that I have yet seen penned anywhere. I read the chapter titled ‘the alt-energy freak show’ and cheered the author along as he spoke the truth, and even gave wild possibilities the benefit of the doubt. The whole thing ain’t gonna work. Last night I had this awful feeling that I’d accidentally damaged one of the 24 batteries. But the system seems to be working properly today after another hours sunlight was stored into the batteries.

    Yeah, exactly, when did a house become an ATM? Crazy stuff and I’m not into that story. Sometimes I feel that the house here is a bit confronting to people as it causes them to uncomfortable ponder their own decisions.

    And building your own house is a wonderful experience which we both enjoyed. There was one minor freak out about how we were going to get the commercial fire blanket and commercial mineral rock wool for the roof as nobody wanted to sell me the stuff due to the small quantities involved. That was a headache. The architect described us two as the last of the Mohicans and he seemed kind of sad about it.

    I moved around a lot too as a kid, and yeah it left me feeling a bit displaced too. I can’t actually imagine what it would feel like to have stability as a kid. You know it is possible that it may set up really hard to achieve expectations. I read a lot about mental health issues in the young right now due to the subject that dare not be named and the social and economic fallout from that. Interestingly the I read that the defence force has been swamped with applications for people seeking jobs. Not a bad option especially if they give you a trade.

    For the moment! I love that, and you know exactly what I was talking about. Well done. Not people understand that it is not a today or a tomorrow thing, but a never ceasing job. Oh yeah. We know not what we do to the planet.

    Actually, the tree dudes do notice and talk to me about it all, and they sort of see what is going on with the activities. They get to see many different places about the countryside, and last time they were here they said some really nice stuff.

    Mate that rock is a total challenge. I’ll keep you posted, but if the rock can take my weight on that sort of a lever, well it’s a big rock.

    Who can forget: Feed me Seymour. For a musical, it wasn’t too bad at all. 🙂 One must make exceptions every now and then.

    We may have an identification for the flower.

    Cheers

    Chris

  7. Hello Chris
    Are you sure that that is a fungus and not a man trap?
    I have a yellow rose that blooms the whole year round; I just prune it whenever it seems to require it and there doesn’t seem to be any problem.
    The solar powered gates were finally closed today after having to remain open for 2 days.
    No I don’t think that the owner/builder of the huge excessively bath roomed house had any health problem. Everyone around is now waiting with bated breath to see whether it can possibly be sold.
    The public housing towers in Melbourne were shown on the television news. I would sooner live in a hut or a tent. Traffic was up to its original state of congestion when I was in town today. I had to sanitise my hands for the first time in a local bank. Very few people wearing masks.

    Inge

  8. Yo, Chris – Well, I figure Suzanne’s not being amused is the result of the karmic debt I carry, due to never laughing at Scott’s jokes. 🙂 .

    “Don’t dry as well.” Might be the water, too. I noticed when I visited Uncle Larry, in Portland, that after a shower it was just harder to get dry. I always wondered about that, but, not enough to look into it. Soft water, hard water … whatever. Never noticed it when I lived there. But, living somewhere else, for awhile, and it was noticeable.

    That was an interesting article about the housing project towers. I quit admired the tenants that were stoic and sensible. But, slamming the lockdown with no notice sounds like a bit of poor planning. And, as far as ongoing management goes, looks like someone always has a better idea. And then things work at cross purposes.

    LOL. Well, if cinemas have the turn out, at some showings that I’ve witnessed, social distancing won’t be a problem. I will long remember (with fondness) the Thursday afternoon when I was the only person in the theatre. Wow. Did I feel special 🙂 .

    Well, the Arthur story has certainly stood the test of time. I doubt anyone will be banging on about us, 2,000 years from now. So, why do people remember Arthur who was, ultimately a failure? Sympathy for the underdog? Or, given humanities penchant for throwing stones at successful people (knock them right off that pedestal), by failing, Arthur beat them to the punch. Mileage may vary.

    Gosh. So many articles I could link to, today! 🙂 Since you mentioned young people’s mental health, there’s this …

    http://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2020/07/04/885546281/why-some-young-people-fear-social-isolation-more-than-covid-19

    Or, this one of life on the hulks in the Thames River. Yup, an all expenses paid trip to Australia, sounds a lot better.

    http://www.heritagedaily.com/2020/07/deadmans-island/134093

    You like dogs, don’t you? Here’s one on how dogs help archaeologists sniff out 5,000 year old bones.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/science/archive/2020/07/dogs-archaeology-bones/613828/

    And, given your interest in the martial arts, I’m sure you’ll find this, about the Kung Fu Nuns, enlightening…

    http://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2020/07/05/886043783/the-kung-fu-nuns-of-kathmandu

    I promise. No more links, this week! Am I up to the (self) challenge?

    Speaking of mystery plants, I asked the Master Gardeners, about one, last week. As it turns out, I’m surprised they didn’t know. They thought maybe Grandma Gen has planted it, years ago. I happened to see her out walking, with her daughter. Well, she’s about totally blind now, but could feel the plant, and her daughter described it. But, no.

    So, I broke out my deer stalker hat, and headed online. We have a plant, that grows here, that’s very bad news if cattle or horses eat it. It’s listed as a “noxious weed.” Had some out at the last place I lived, but we also had Cinnabar moths, which kept it under control. 10 drops of tansy oil will kill a human (Hmmm. Something to tuck away in the back of my mind. Might come in handy, some day …). But it turns out there are two varieties. This one was the “common” or “button” tansy. The other is tansy ragwort. I’ll show it to the gardeners, tomorrow, and then yank it up.

    Speaking of deer stalker hats, I was working in the garden, around sunset, when I glanced across the very narrow street, and there was a deer grazing. A little male “spike”. He was cheeky. I was halfway across the street before he deigned to move. Had to yell and chase him and throw things, before I could get him moving back up in the woods, where he belongs. Lew

  9. Hi Chris

    Interesting fact. Posh = Port Out Starboard Home. In reference to those people who could afford a cabin facing south (to catch the sun) on the trip from England to New York and back again.

  10. Chris,

    The wildlife situation is interesting here, also. For some reason the local murder of crows is much smaller than it has been for many years. They seem to have kept the unkindness of ravens away, but without predator birds , the number of smaller birds, sparrows and such, is huge. So, my smaller raspberry patch is producing, but the birds are getting more than I prefer.

    But things balance out, eventually. I noticed that the birds were quite frantically squawking Saturday morning. There was a Cooper’s Hawk in my flowering crabapple tree, whose presence agitated the smaller sort. I’d thought I’d been seeing a few hawks the past 3 weeks or so. Then, Monday morning, there were no birds singing in the neighborhood. I startled a smaller hawk out of one of my hawthorn trees as I was setting some water. Well, both of us were startled, truth be told. So, as one set of predators is diminished, another set has moved in where there is prey.

    I can imagine the hawks having a meeting, the Hawk Elder speaking: “We have been soaring high over DJSpo’s neighborhood for weeks. There is a plethora of smaller birds. The murder of crows is diminished and sometimes absent. We shall move into that neighborhood and Let Us Prey”.

    As soon as that neighbor told me about Thordog’s visit, I was laughing. The animal shelters got my permission to give out my home and work phone numbers if someone called in that they’d found Thordog. I got a call at work, once, “Hey, mister! We got yer dog!” I went and picked him up, gave the family a reward, and was told, “He really likes potato chips!” Umm, well, if it was food, Thordog ate it. Inconveniencing? Yes. Amusing, Undoubetedly.

    Oh, mate, I’ve seen the GIANT RV pulling the huge SUV, both vehicles plastered with environmental stickers. The downside of compartmentalizing everything is that down that road lies cognitive dissonance. Some compartmentalizing is needed at times, but at the level our society compartmentalizes, it is unhealthy.

    That feral Christmas weather you mentioned reminds me of people getting permits to build within the “100 year flood plain” but outside the “30 year flood plain”. Ummm, the 100 year can flood 5 out of 7 years, then go centuries without being flooded. That’s how statistics work (I know that you know that.) My answer? Maybe don’t build in a flood plain?

    Thanks for another essay about the limits of renewables. Something about preacher and choir comes to mind, but continued reminders are never amiss.

    I was VERY happy to phone it in for the meeting. The Princess and I prefer to keep distance in crowds anyway, and are doing that even more now. Yes, things are nutso now, and getting more so. The cousin who has the Unmentionable Thing is in Tacoma hospital on a ventilator, supposedly somewhat improved. We just dodge people when we have to go out, pay attention to when and where we shop. Between the Unmentionable Thing, the upcoming election, and the massive amounts of racial tension, well, it is interestingly difficult. However, I spend a lot of time outside, even if just sitting under the patio roof and listening to birds and the wind and the trees and the earth. That helps me a lot, and if I’m helped, that helps stabilize the Princess, who also has tools to keep from getting overwhelmed. So there we go again: getting out in nature and paying attention to nature and trying to work with nature helps stabilize the emotional and mental process even in crazy times.

    In that picture of “Plum pretends to be obedient…” I can just about read her thoughts. “Hmmm, where’s Ruby? Maybe I can make a break for it. Master, turn your back, I can rescue Ruby and we can go for a good runabout. Master, forget that I’m here so I can run and be mischievous. Hmm, that’s not working…how can I make a run for it if he keeps looking at me?”

    DJSpo

  11. Hi bela’rheeth,

    Cool name, and welcome to the discussion.

    The jury has not yet decided, but I’m leaning towards the mystery flower being a chrysanthemum. Dahlia’s grow here, but they’re fussy plants for some reason.

    Yes, the sylvan photo is indicative, and frankly it gets worse. Some forests are so thick with growth that you’d struggle pushing a way through them, and they are very sadly quiet places devoid of non plant life.

    Thank you, and with lock down just enforced for six weeks for the metropolitan area (affects my clients, but I’m not included in that), well there’s plenty of time for projects. So the greenhouse will get built rapidly.

    Nope. I have never watered the potatoes – that I can recall. The soil is very deep in those beds and the plants are super hardy locally adapted varieties.

    Cheers

    Chris

  12. Hi Inge,

    It’s possible that it is a man trap. 🙂 Have to recall to be careful when near there in future. It was probably set in place by the Elder folks of the forest. No doubt, they’d think it funny if I was caught in it.

    Thanks for the contrast with your yellow rose. Good to hear that they are an adaptable plant. The pink climbing rose which rambles through the garden beds has not gone deciduous in my memory, but it grows in a sheltered area, so I just put it down to that.

    It has been very cloudy the past few days. Oh, at the local General Store this morning I purchased the book: Grapes of Wrath written by John Steinbeck. It seemed somehow appropriate given the times. Melbourne was placed into a six week lockdown, but given I live in a rural area this does not apply to us. Things will get quiet again up here.

    Haha! Yeah, lack of sun might cause such a solar powered gate outcome. Honestly, how hard is it to open and close a gate? The machine is a waste of money by any other name.

    I might check that. Oh, there were two houses on your island. The Tree house and The Seaside house. Can you elucidate this matter?

    But really, how many bathrooms does a person need? It just means more cleaning from my perspective, and who wants to spend their life doing that activity?

    Not good about your weather as this is prime growing time sorry to say. Still you can’t change the weather. I reckon short growing seasons and very damp growing seasons are much harder than droughts. At least in a drought if you have access to water, then the plants will still grow, but with not enough heat and too much water, it is tough.

    Cheers

    Chris

  13. Hi Matt,

    It is nice to be an essential service in these crazy days huh? Far freakin out… Must be something in the water…

    The greenhouse project will go up soon-ish and it will be interesting to experience the difference the seed raising efforts are with that bit of infrastructure in place. We raise a lot of plants from seeds, but I have been relying on CERES down in Brunswick a bit more than I should when things go wrong. Oh well. Adapt and learn as you go. 🙂

    Thanks for the explanation. It’s a funny word isn’t it? And it sure paints a proper picture. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  14. Hi DJ,

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? Nature finds a new equilbrium and some other critter arrives on the scene and fills the ecological niche. The native marsupial cat has been gone from this forest for a couple of decades (since the 1983 fires really), and since then foxes have filled out that niche. A good rule of thumb is that if there is something to eat, something will want to eat it. 🙂 Unfortunately that applies to us humans as well.

    Haha! That’s funny. Clever prey on words, o-o-o (Mr Cotter! Brown leather arm patches on dodgy jackets never went out of style!), sorry I meant to type: play on words. 😉

    The funny thing is, I always joke with the editor about the animals knowing more about our business on the farm than we do, except I’m not joking. They actually do.

    cont…

  15. Hi DJ (the double secret reply cont)…

    Actually I had to break for coffee and tiramisu. Such a hardship and also a comfort in these difficult times, but I can endure such difficulties. Mate, things took a turn for the crazy down here today. The Melbourne metropolitan area has been chucked into six weeks lock down. Wow. It is nice to be living in a rural area where such things don’t apply – but we’re only just outside the border. It is a big city with possibly 5 million people or more. Bonkers. The state borders have closed and are being patrolled by the military. Serious stuff. It is a huge border though and runs along a river, so the bridges will most certainly be manned. Seriously messed up days.

    There is a school of thought which suggests that Thordog was rewarded for his drifter ways. He would have been dirty for the attention, but the chips would have been like the icing on the cake. Oh yeah, he learned his lesson he did! Hehe! I write that on the understanding that Ollie and girls get huge amounts of enjoyment in their wanderings – and that has to stop as it is a self-reinforcing behaviour which I’m not cool about. Sending them out one at a time has curtailed their fun. Is it just me or do you notice that the word curtailed is comprised of two dog related words: cur and tail. Weird huh?

    What? Well I haven’t seen that wicked combination of environmental naughtiness, but yeah I can imagine it. Makes you wonder what the folks were thinking? Ah very wise, yes, that probably is the next step in the journey. How unfortunate for the people experiencing the cognitive dissonance, but I guess they have to get through it in order to shake the devils off their backs. What do they say about it always being darkest before the dawn?

    Actuaries at least understand reality, and my understanding of statistics is actually pretty good. It was the math that spoke to me, but I can well understand that higher levels of math would speak to people differently and are beyond my ken. In the 2009 fires 2,000 structures were damaged or destroyed, but in the 2010–11 Queensland floods, something crazy like 35,000 to 40,000 structures were damaged. Thus I don’t pay much more insurance premiums than other areas, but folks living in flood plains have a serious problem. Oh yeah. And a person can adapt to the fire risk, but not the flood risk. You may note that I am continuing to work towards that outcome.

    Lewis likewise thus spake the same observation. However, it is worth noting that here is little ol’ me with over a decades worth of real world experience with the technology suggesting that it is probably a very poor idea to rely upon it. And then there is everyone else with a bad case of the wisheries, who make all sorts of loud, wild and much publicised claims. Now of course that word is the technical description for people who just want what they want and hope that others go and bore themselves with the details of the awful wishery. It is a point of view I guess. It might not work and so the concept is worthy of repeating a bit. Plus there are new readers who we have to make allowances for.

    Hehe! It ain’t just you, I’m likewise enjoying the extra physical space offered by the strange times. You’re in good company. 🙂 I doubt your situation has gotten more nutso than down here. Ask Damo about how weird it is – if you dare.

    Your leaders would do well to understand that it is unwise to dance with devils – for there are more than a few out there waiting for their day in the sun, which they seem to want to provide. Why give them the air time that they so long for? But even our lot have begun stirring the pot. So unwise.

    Nature is the solid ground which you have to have your feet planted in. 🙂 There is little other choice right now my friend.

    Plum is lovely and her character should not be so besmirched. But you might be right. Plum was working her magic on me – as you rightly guessed – and it went like this:

    Chris : Let me see your identification.

    Plum Kenobi : [with a small wave of her paw] You don’t need to see her identification.

    Chris: We don’t need to see her identification.

    Plum Kenobi : These aren’t the dogs you’re looking for.

    Chris: These aren’t the dogs we’re looking for.

    Plum Kenobi : She can go about her business.

    Chris : You can go about your business.

    Plum Kenobi : Move along.

    Chris : Move along… move along.

    And thus Plum found herself outside with the ultra-naughty, yet very nice Ruby all unsupervised and stuff.

    Yet, Chris is the master here, for I duped them with nasty smelling off cut bones and the two hapless pups fell to gnawing upon them for a few hours earlier today.

    Chris: These are the bones you’re looking for. 🙂

    You may think that I’m asleep at the wheel, but I tell’s ya it ain’t necessarily so!

    Cheers

    Chris

  16. Hi Lewis,

    You’re a brave man to so ignore Scott’s corny jokes. But then there is a little part of me which suggests that the jokes aren’t funny and that you were wise to give him the feedback so that his ongoing stand-up routine eventually improved – if he were sensitive enough to so consider the crowd feedback – not always the case, unfortunately. So is that act increasing your karmic load, or is it an act of kindness that spared others from dealing with the corny jokes? Thus you may have decreased your karmic load? I’m intrigued, but I reckon I’m right here.

    Some tap water in Australia is revolting due to the over powering taste of minerals. Over in the city of Adelaide, it is worth noting that they have the greatest number of water tanks per household than pretty much anywhere else. Having travelled there a few times in my life, I can vouch for the unpalatable water taste, and the desire to drink rain water as an alternative. Bizarrely, the inland town of Coober Peddy had a solar water desalination plant and the water there was awesome (relatively speaking).

    I drink rain water here which gets collected off the roof surfaces. It is very neutral tasting, although when in the big smoke I partake of the excellent water there which comes from dams with closed catchments. However, I can taste the additives to it, but don’t really worry about it. A bit of fluoride and chlorine probably won’t cause too much trouble in my system.

    But yeah there is something in what you say about the olive oil soap. However in this case the finger can be pointed at the chemical ‘surfactants’ which cause me contact dermatitis which I’m not overly fond of. Interestingly contact dermatitis gets worse with greater and prolonged contact – so it is a problem that gets worse over time.

    What should be of note to you is that both glass and ceramics get particularly clean after the use of olive oil soap and hot water.

    Most of the tenants in such places are fairly reasonable folk. I once worked for the census and was allocated one of those towers. It was an interesting experience and most people just wanted a chat – which was hardly a hardship for me. And best of all I got paid for it, although the hourly rate worked out not so good, probably because I was too busy chatting when I should have been handing out and chasing up census forms. Anyway, the lockdown has become far greater. Oh yeah. I live just outside the locked down area and it is epic – and for six weeks the entire metropolitan area is now in solitary.

    The cinemas are dead in the water for another six weeks. It is an economic bloodbath. But yes, I too have experienced a sole person cinema and it is just the right amount of social distancing! 😉 Although the cinema probably didn’t make any money on that screening, but it felt special as.

    Exactly, nobody will give a toss about you or I in two millennia’s time. That is kind of freeing really. If it means anything to you I have been ruminating on that particular story about Arthur. It is an important story that I have vague hints and teases about. My brain is working on the story. My first gut feeling is that it is a story along the lines of the ancient Greek morality tales, but with a Roman-Celtic twist warning folks not to over reach but rather look after their backyards. Dunno. It is murky.

    Deer stalker hat! Two go out a huntin’ wabbits and only one weturns! 🙂 Warner brothers reference for Elmer Fudd. Sorry, I digress. Ook! Tansy ragwort is a commonly seen, but not a very widespread weed down here, and thanks for the tip. Oils are easy to make. Handy knowledge for tight spot.

    I’m amazed that creatures as skittish as deer are near to your place. Ollie and the girls would see that creature off to places where it will do far better. I guess deer are like us in that they are creatures which constantly push upon their boundaries.

    I see your many articles which I’ll now read, and this article I shall provide to you. How clever is this bloke: otton waste composter uses earthworms to turn waste into high-grade fertiliser.

    OK, now to your articles:

    Not good, Audrey is correct it is a bigger risk to her personally. Still, it is possible that this current crisis gets people into IRL – as the kids might say.

    Yes, that happened. The lucky ones ended up down here, and I am wondering if someone thinks to re-purpose the cruise ships – of which there are more than a few – to that particular task. There is a map around showing the location of those cruise ships.

    Hey, dogs are used down here as cadaver dogs, and they can sniff out a body at quite the depth. Their world must be a fascinating place. Interestingly the article mentioned dogs ability to sniff out melanoma’s and I’m always curious to observe what the dogs are sniffing as they operate as an early warning device. Clever dogs!

    I’m pretty certain the editor would have something to say about such a culture that the nuns find themselves in. I’d be pretty sure the naughty monks have no real idea about what anyone is going to come back as – it is not in their purview to know. But it is a neat gambit. I like their style and grassroots ambitions and particularly the sentiment: “The nuns believe that keeping busy is the key to a fulfilling life”. Good stuff and thanks for mentioning them as I hadn’t heard of them before.

    Cheers

    Chris

  17. Hello again
    Sorry, I hadn’t realised that there were 2 properties at that price. It is the one by trees at Lower Woodside Rd.

    Inge

    @ Lew
    We have ragwort everywhere and while I had heard that it was poisonous for horses, I love the cinnabar moth which is rather beautiful. I don’t know the medical uses of the plant but the inclusion of ‘wort’ stands for ‘worth’ and indicates that a plant is useful.

    Inge

  18. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder … well, if you can afford five bathrooms, you can afford “help.”

    I think the water here tastes pretty good. But then, it’s pretty much like the water I grew up on. Outlanders often complain of a chlorine taste. Snowflakes! The two worst places I’ve ever been for water was western Nebraska … and Los Angeles. Don’t ya know fluoride is a Commie plot! 🙂 . Saps our vital juices, or something. According to a character in the film, “Dr. Strangelove.”

    We’ve been reading a bit about the Melbourne lockdown, here. I see they’re calling out the military to patrol. Will there be dogs and watchtowers? Panicked citizens swimming the river? Firing squads? A lively trade in clandestine border crossing? Someone always breaks quarantine. (Lew ™).

    What boggles my mind is that you mentioned Melbourne has 5 million people. When I lived in Seattle (early 70s), there were a million. Portland metro area was also a million. I think when I lived in LA (again, early 70’s), LA county had four million. Seattle now has four million and Portland 2 1/2 million.

    Not to worry to much about the Arthur story. I’m sure someone will write a dissertation, and explain it all, to us. 🙂 .

    Well, “deer stalker hat” had me thinking of Sherlock Holmes. But Elmer Fudd was a close second.

    I ran into Julia, yesterday, and, even though she lives in the boonies, she’s had no bees this year. Her fruit trees suffered. Not a peach or plum to be found. And the pear? One lone pear. She hasn’t worked up the nerve to check her apple trees, yet.

    I’m remaining strong, re: links. But, oh, my gosh, the net just threw a bunch of “interesting animals stories” at me. A bear in Pasadena, California that lolled around a very posh (marketable) backyard. A hoard of very eerie geese that marched through a Connecticut beach. Zombie geese? But the best was from your country (place, unstated). A possum took up residence in an office ceiling and entertained the cubical critters, for a day. One of the comments, from America, was interesting.

    “Wait wait wait… you’re telling me that Australia has CUTE possums but we have the beings from literal HELL,” another said.

    Maybe we could effect a swap? Kind of a lend lease? Lew

  19. Chris,

    Yes, the animals hereabouts all know where I am, what I’m doing when I’m outdoors. It’s interesting watching how close the various types of birds let me get to them. They know where the berries are, and the cherries, and they know before I do when they’re ripe. So, yes, the critters know more about this place than I do, just like where you are.

    You at least ate some tiramisu for me? I had been discussing Australia with a couple friends last week. We were really hoping that you were going to be able to get through the worst of this without further extreme measures. Our discussions may have jinxed Melbourne! Interesting, serious, weird times. Stay sane, mate, stay sane.

    Curtail = cur + tail? Brilliant. Somehow I missed that my entire life. Thanks!

    I keep hoping that we’re at that darkest before the dawn stuff. Sometimes we seem to be at the point as a society : the windows are open and the doors are banging. Or, the lights are on but nobody’s home.

    You’re doing the right thing regarding the fire risk. A few summers ago during one of our BAD fire seasons, there was a fire near the east end of Spokane. I’ve known that area well since I was 10. Windy day, a fire started at the bottom of a wooded hill. The fire station was 5 minutes from the homes at the top of the hill. The 10 acre properties at the top of the hill had not cleaned up their parts of the forest, nor did they have “green zones”. Two of the houses were burnt to the ground by the time the fire trucks got there. One km, 2 houses burnt to the ground in 5 or 10 minutes. 80% of the problem, or more, was the unmanaged undergrowth that a wallaby couldn’t have hopped through.

    Yes, the new readers…I never tire of your stories with solar. Keep them coming.

    I’ve been reading Damo’s posts. Crazy situations. Damo’s situation is off the rails crazy. Yours is a different version of crazy. I just fall back on, and I know I’m repeating myself, “Adapt and improvise.”

    Yes, nature…I’ll likely cook dinner outdoors this evening for a little bit more time with nature. 🙂

    Clever and enjoyable. There is Plum Kenobi, and then there is Master Chris. Just don’t start talking like Yoda! In the old Doctor Who from the 1970s and 1980s, The Master was a recurring villain. I always wished they’d had a different name for that character.

    DJSpo

  20. Hi Chris,

    Todays blog post is bought to you by the earworm from the excellent song, Titanic Days. Doubtful if anyone outside of Triple J’s transmitter range in the late 90s will have heard it though 🙂

    I am writing to you all from a hotel room a few kilometres from Auckland International Airport. Early tomorrow morning, with some luck, Mrs Damo and I will be on a plane heading towards Sydney where a 14 day mandatory quarantine awaits us. I say luck, as the situation is very fluid and the rules seem to change every few days right now. Whomever said organising an international move during a global pandemic would be easy is telling a tall one!

    On reflection, I don’t think anyone says that – but it is worth watching out for anyway!

    Fingers crossed, Damo!

  21. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the clarification. It will be interesting to see whether the property reaches its desired price.

    The thing I always wonder about Grand Designs properties is that if you go to all the effort of constructing a one-off design, why then only live in it for a few years before selling it? I do wonder if the stress of the construction process, strains the relationships of the people involved? My preference is for smaller houses as it forces people to be more ingenious in how they utilise the house, and is then also a reflection on how well the house is used. They’re not there to be looked at.

    Cheers

    Chris

  22. Hi Damo,

    Fortunately for me, titles are not subject to copyright. And that was a goodie! And you thus win the cheeky scamp of the week award for catching my hidden cultural reference (of course it would have been very hard for international readers to have enjoyed the experience of 90’s era triple j, but no excuses!) 🙂

    For those who are curious: Sidewinder-Titanic Days. High def too!

    Best of luck to you and Mrs Damo and fingers crossed that you get back over the Tasman Sea and return on home. Both you and Mrs Damo have nerves of steel.

    Melbourne is in six weeks lock down as of tonight. Fortunately I do not live within the Melbourne boundary, but I’ll keep you posted on what it all looks like.

    Cheers

    Chris

  23. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Too true, but one of the continuing story lines in Grand Designs, which is part of its enduring appeal is that people inevitably over estimate the size of the house relative to their budget. I doubt the show has to screen people out who are not doing just that because I see that story playing out all over the place. And you may note I can say that because I built and live in a small house. When the general desires don’t make sense, it is best not to follow along, but go off and do something different with your time.

    Melbourne is going into a six week lock down as of midnight tonight and as I was in the big smoke today, the editor and I went out for a dinner of Vietnamese food which was very good. The place ran out of squid for the salt and pepper squid, and so substituted chicken. I tell ya, salt and pepper chicken is very tasty. Little bite sized chunks and well drained too and dry with flakes of chili on the outside. One chunk of chili got stuck in my throat and what with the general craziness, I couldn’t afford to have a choking fit whereby people thought I was coughing (a quick way to empty a restaurant – even one that is socially distanced). So, I just drank some water, my eyes filled up with water and I rode through the pain. But far out the chicken was tasty – just didn’t expect the chili. Oh well it was an experience.

    And to top off dinner, we picked up some gelato (mint) in a waffle cone. Very tasty.

    People were heading out and about getting in their final dinners for the next six weeks. Not quite the last supper, but more the dropping of the curtain on an act of a play.

    I heard that fluroide steals your women and takes all of your jobs. You have to be careful with those sneaky chemical additives. 😉 Hehe!

    Yup, this one is serious. We’re just outside the lock down zone and so can move freely around and even the local pub is still open. Although it is worth noting that I am an essential service (apparently). Work has dropped off the radar, but I have plenty of work to do over the next couple of weeks. I feel sorry for the local pub folks as they had to ring up today and confirm the table booking. But city folks can’t head up this way, and I’m expecting police road blocks this time. The stories you heard are apparently true, but I’ll try and get some photographs of the general state of affairs down here. There have already been people busted for jumping the state lines. Not a good idea to make an example of oneself.

    Yeah, well I don’t know how I feel about the population increase down there either. Since I left the city, they have absorbed a million additional souls from elsewhere and I still recall the days of the last serious drought when the dams got down into the low teen percentages. Not good and people forget.

    No, I do worry about the Arthur story. The thing is Arthur shone a blazing torch in a time when other leaders were doing far lesser and reverting to a base and mean approach. Although he failed, he established a groundswell of support for the story and I believe that may have altered future events. But the thoughts are only just forming. What do you think about that observation?

    Oh of course, Sherlock Holmes. Yes! I was intending to pick up the collected stories of the good Mr Holmes at that paperback bookshop, but who knows what is going on now in the big smoke.

    Not good. Yes, it is a problem. I don’t keep bees for the honey – I know a few reliable places that sell quality honey – I keep them for the pollination services and also so that they release brood into the forest. Although almonds aside (due to how early they flower), there are other pollinators around. You may note that I plant many flowers of all types. Does Julia grow flowers? They’re pretty to look at, but they also perform functions.

    No, let loose and chuck a few links in. I do. Look at the 90’s Australian music Damo has to deal with! 🙂

    The possums down here are really sweet little marsupial herbivores – although they sound like the hellcats when they fight. I thought you were kidding me the first time you mentioned how ferocious your possums are. Seriously. The New Zealand folk would not agree that our possums are cute. The owls here deal roughly to the possums. Interestingly the other day I spotted some possum scats when I was working in the forest.

    No, I’m not inclined to take up your kind offer. Your lot would scare me and probably try and eat the chickens or the kelpies or possibly both!

    Cheers

    Chris

  24. Hi DJ,

    Mate, had the call for last drinks in the city tonight! Actually I didn’t have a drink, but we went out for dinner and a gelati because Melbourne is getting locked down for six weeks as of midnight… Anyway, the call for last drinks is an old school thing were publicans used to tell their patrons to order their last drinks before the bar closed. The staff then began the clean up. You don’t hear that much nowadays, but then I don’t stay out that late either, so maybe it still happens…

    Hehe! Have you noticed that some of the birds seem to enjoy the berries slightly under ripe? I believe that they might consider the fruit we enjoy to be over ripe – just based on what they glean. I actually use the birds as a guide to knowing when to pick the various trees.

    Yes, if you say so!!! Hehe! The tiramisu was very good, and it was a large cake and is still in the refrigerator. I visited a client today and they were in good spirits, which I enjoyed. They’re a tough bunch those guys and I respect them. Not everyone is that well balanced about the lock down. And I’ll try and get some photos as the opportunity presents itself. We’re just outside the metropolitan boundaries, but mate everywhere around here is locked down. It is very rural here, so we can go about our business. Already I had two half serious requests to come and stay up here. They were testing the waters.

    Thanks! And it is a funny old word isn’t it? Makes you wonder what the person had it in for with dogs? Dogs are the best people after all!

    Yeah, I keep my chin up and know that things probably have to get worse before they get better. I mean how else do you alter a long established culture that is destroying itself through over doing it?

    I’ve gotta hit the sack, I’m nuked as I feel very positive about things, but it takes energy from me. And the city feels a bit odd to me right now. It is hard to explain.

    Will continue tomorrow!

    Cheers

    Chris

  25. Hi DJ (the hard to explain and confusing cont)…

    Mate, with the fire risk, you have to look at what works, and the thing is for every really strange environmentalist who suggests that nothing should ever be done to manage the forests down here. And I seriously mean they say nothing at all. Well the body count from the sheer number of animals dead in the epic bushfires earlier this year is just not enough to convince them. They’re like parrots who only know a few words, or fixated dogs (I’m sure you’ve met a few of those in your time). It really is a crazy situation, and no matter how many times their position is proved wrong, still they hang on to it for grim death.

    But exactly, a house can apparently burn to the ground in 4 minutes. That is a sobering realisation.Of course I have covered the entire outside surface of the building with systems that withstand a minimum of 30 minutes (and a maximum of 90 minutes) of direct contact with the flames. Mind you, I’m not willing to experience what that is like as I’ve met people who went through the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires and they had a bit of pain behind their eyes.

    Yeah, the renewable energy needs to be repeated, quite a bit. At least I come at the story from different angles, although the end result is always the same. At the moment there is not enough sun each day to get a full charge into the batteries. The rate of charge that the batteries take in slows beyond 85% full – they ain’t fuel tanks although people talk about them as if they were. Think chemical reactors. And winter is cold so the reactions slow down too. Bonkers.

    Yup, we have collectively lost our marbles down here. Maybe the British Museum has them hidden behind a couch? Never thought about looking there…

    Nice one and how did the dinner turn out? I assume you use a BBQ?

    Plum Kenobi is a very clever dog. She is sound asleep behind me right now. I was most familiar with the actor Tom Baker playing Dr Who. I didn’t know that Douglas Adam’s worked on the show. Well there you go. Did you know this?

    Cheers

    Chris

  26. Hello again
    The couple who built the house never lived in it, so it has never been occupied. I am not even sure that it is completely finished.

    The electrics went off in the early evening yesterday and were off for over 12 hours. This is becoming common on the Island, but always a different area. Conspiracy theories abound i.e. that it is deliberate. Who knows but not a great idea when pubs, restaurants and holiday parks have only just been permitted to open.
    Sods law dictated that the battery I have in a radio, went down at the same time and, even worse, I discovered that the spare which I always have was a dud.

    Inge

  27. @ Inge – Yes, cinnabar moths are really pretty. I saw one, last year. If our plants had the worms, I’d leave them alone. They can strip a ragwort in two or three days! Where I lived before, my landlord had introduced the moths, from somewhere in Oregon. But, by the time I moved out there, the population seemed a bit in decline. So, for a couple of years I’d take an envelope, very carefully scrap a few worms into it from an infested plant, and relocate them to an uninfested plant. Seemed helpful, and the population started bouncing back. I guess they’re on their own, now!

    I got curious and looked into ragworts medicinal properties. Mostly, external use. Poultice for joint pain. Eye wash and mouth wash. The leaves will make a green dye, but, not very good. The flowers, yellow, which works pretty well on wool, if you have alum to “fix” it. Lew

  28. Yo, Chris – My friends in Idaho are in a bit of a quandary over real estate, right now. Right after the collapse in 2008 they bought a “model” house on a golf course. There was supposed to be a development, around the course, which never happened. The fellow who is keeping up the golf course (an employee of the real estate corporation) really goes above and beyond, and cares for it as kind of a personal mission. He stopped by to give my friends a “heads up” that he retiring in a year or two, and, expects the course to go to rack and ruin. So, they think maybe they should bail out, now, while the place still looks “salable”. Oh, well. They were talking about down sizing, anyway. Sometimes, even when you own your own land, outside forces …

    Sounds like a boff-o meal. Squid tastes like chicken, anyway, doesn’t it? 🙂 .

    With everyone running around preparing for the lockdown, watch for a spike in cases, in about a week. So, how’s your toilet paper situation? Optimum 42?

    “steals your women.” LOL. Cosmic. I was just thinking of an old Japanese Sci-fi I saw, way back in the 50’s. “The Mysterians.” I just happened to check out The River, last night, and, it is available. The plot was a bit hazy, but, that’s what it was about. Aliens stealing our women.

    Politics often kept the Arthur story, rolling. The Normans trotted out the story. Some of their “claim” to Britain was based on stories about British refugees moving to Normandy after the Roman collapse. Think of the Norman lord who took over Tintagel. The Glastonbury monks trotted him out to, probably, boost the tourist trade.

    Then there’s the Winchester Round Table. Probably first created by Edward I … later refurbished by Henry VIII, to plump up his supposed connections to King Arthur. Well, his family DID have Welsh roots.

    LOL. Oh, go for the two volume “Annotated Sherlock Holmes.” I’ve got a copy, kicking around somewhere. I keep meaning to sell it, on-line.

    I can’t really remember if Julia has a lot of flowers, kicking about, or not. Living out in the boonies, I’m sure there’s quit a bit of wild flowers. But, I’ll mention it to her.

    Ohhhh! The new “Jumanji” movie is waiting for me, at the library! Ice cream on the menu, tonight! I just hope my lame DVD player, will play it. “Player will not accept discs region.” Bull pucky! Lew

  29. Hi Chris,

    Summer heat has arrived. We are in a heat advisory so we relented and turned on the air conditioner. We set the thermostat to 80F/26.7C, which is not exactly cold. But the AC also removes some of the humidity out of the air, enough so to make this temperature feel relieving after one has been outside doing work. Mike and I each tested this personally today – he was sawing gift firewood from a friend of ours and I was hoeing weeds – so we can testify to the sufficiency of this thermostat setting. Nobody but us sets it this high, however. It is not rare for me to need to wear long pants and a long-sleeved shirt and sweater when in someone else’s house during the summer. I wouldn’t want to pay their electric bill.

    Sometimes the weather forecast is unreliable. It has happened that I have made bread dough to bake in our solar oven based on a sunny forecast, only to have the clouds show up and force me to bake the bread in our electric oven. Yes, solar is good, but as you have been saying for years, it must be accommodated to instead of the other way around, and it will not support the amount and patterns of energy that most of us use.

    The same friend who gifted us the firewood has also lent us the book on Edo-era Japan that you mentioned. I only read a bit of it before we returned it to her, but I saw enough to note that it would be a good read when I have time for it. But I have been buying used books this year, thinking that it would be a good time to buy these books while they are still easily found, so I have too many unread books waiting for me to add another one at this time. Maybe I’ll try interlibrary loan in the winter.

    Speaking of libraries, ours have reopened, even the interiors, although restrictions on the numbers of people inside and how long they are allowed to use the computers are in place. That which I’m not supposed to name is also on the increase here, but less so in the metro area than in other parts of the state. St. Louis City and County have now required us to wear masks wherever and whenever social distancing cannot be maintained; before it was strongly encouraged but not required. Businesses are still open and both have announced that schools can reopen next month if they follow social distancing protocols from their respective health departments. It’ll be interesting to see what happens over the next several weeks.

    The zucchini, cucumber, and tomato plants are close to their first harvest of the season, and the bean plants are beginning to flower. I’m waiting for the green peppers to ripen to red before I begin harvesting them. And I am hoping that the various fruit eating critters leave us some peaches this year. Fingers crossed! (Damo, you can take some of the finger-crossing for yourself and Mrs. Damo. Hope everything goes well with your move!)

    Claire

  30. Hi Chris,
    I visited the library today to pick up a book that arrived very quickly from another library in the system. Frankly it was pretty depressing – empty and sterile. Only the director was in sight. One now checks out their own book and there’s plexiglass and sanitizer everywhere. A patron is only allowed to stay an hour. However this is better than not open at all.

    Our book club met in person last month at one of the member’s homes. She had a nice patio with plenty of room and a canopy for shade. We’ll do the same in a couple of weeks but at another member’s home. We are not a young group.

    Well this new version of the wedding is much more casual so that’s good. Really who knows what situation we’ll be in a year from now.

    The chickens are picked up the morning after so Doug picked them up last Friday. We will sell some and Doug figured our cost for our own meat would be $29.

    We are indeed experiencing a heat wave though it’s been much worse in years past. The difference seems to be the length of it. Usually a cold front will come down from the north and break the heat some but no such luck so far. We did get .4 inch of much needed rain last night though. The vegetables are doing quite well at any rate as long as I keep up watering and mulching.

    Good progress with the pups. I wonder if they’ll ever be able to be out together. We had several pairs that never learned. As soon as they were out together they’d shoot each a look and off they’d go not to return for some hours.

    The book, “Just Enough” doesn’t appear to be available in our library system.

    I, too, think the mystery plant is a chrysanthemum.

    I am kind of floored by your lockdown. Your case numbers are so much lower than just our state. It would be hard to imagine any states closing borders here – people just wouldn’t stand for it and there lies part of the problem controlling the numbers. Numbers are rising in all states that border us and I can’t imagine they won’t here too in time. Chicago has ordered that anyone coming from specific states with rapidly increasing numbers quarantine for two weeks but there’s no enforcement. The hope is that at least some will do . I do know of some that whenever they take a flight they quarantine for two weeks voluntarily. What exactly does your lockdown entail?
    Just essential services open?

    What no Ollie pics this week?

    Margaret

  31. Hi Inge,

    Empty houses attract trouble like rats heading to a tip. Wow. I guess the owners dreams possibly weren’t fulfilled by the construction.

    I don’t get to see how the grid here is faring and so can’t offer a valid comparison. Anecdotally, I hear accounts that the grid is less stable now than it once was, and there are moves to remotely disconnect home solar power systems on days of high solar production in order to protect the stability of the grid – and I can understand how such a thing has come to pass.

    But basically, if people want electricity and more of it for more people, they’re going to have to invest capital in generators and also all of the equipment that is required to handle renewable energy systems. After a while electricity bills might start looking like what I pay to be independent of the grid (about 10 times higher than people are used to paying).

    Well yes, always wise to keep spare working and hopefully rechargeable batteries ready to hand. If I could recommend some rechargeables I lean towards the Eneloop variety and they have been super reliable. Mind you, I have a wind up torch and radio – and it works a treat.

    Cheers

    Chris

  32. Hi Lewis,

    I’ve heard of such property developments attached to golf courses. Dunno about you, but I’d be worried that errant golf shots ended up breaking windows. Maybe I’m just super practical in such matters. Out of curiosity, how does a golf course stay green in an Idaho summer? It seems like a tough school that particular act of gardening magic.

    A year or two back we were walking near a golf course and decided to move away from the course as balls were ever so innocently (!) heading in our direction. They’d hurt.

    Hey, exactly. You only ever control the land that you are able to control and you are only as good as the weakest link. I’ve wondered how this hamlet up here would fare after a bushfire, if the insurance industry ever got janky (is that an appropriate use of the word?) Imagine being the only household left up here. Wow. That actually happened in the aftermath of WWII. In this part of the mountain range there was only a single person living quietly. The local history suggests that he used to practice firestick farming, which was patchwork burning every year. The history also quoted him as saying that he did so because he was afraid of snakes.

    Yeah, they might be right to get onto that sale before things go awry. Sometimes you just have to strike hard and move fast. I can do that when needed, but other people seem to prefer dithering. Actually, I can’t really talk about details, however the need for doing just that approach has reared its ugly head. I treat such things as a process and I’ll learn some interesting stuff out of the situation, but you know there seems little downside at this point of time to so acting, so why not? Will tell the full story once the dust has settled in a few months – but it is intriguing that’s for sure. Far out. I had a fitful night’s sleep last night with a lot of not hard to interpret bad dreams because of the situation.

    What is it with everything tasting like chicken? Hey, given chickens are distantly related to the dinosaurs and of course chickens taste like chicken (except maybe for nuggets – I can’t quite explain what they are) do you reckon Dinosaur meat tasted like chicken? Has anyone even explored this question? 🙂 Or even remotely speculated upon the matter?

    Just checked. We are completely stuffed. The count revealed 7 rolls of toilet paper in the household. What are we going to do now? It’s game over, man! Game over! Just like that scene from the Aliens film franchise. The actor was also notably killed by a Predator and also a Terminator. He must have managed to annoy film executives, or rather not annoy them enough to have been so portrayed. He was a funny character that bloke.

    Dunno where I picked up that line about stealing jobs and women. It seems like a very far fetched claim, but like ‘let them eat cake’ has a similar sticky feel, and well if you throw enough mud some will stick. The original Alien film was frighteningly scary. Not many sci-fi’s pull off the horror genre well, but that one did.

    Please excuse my dodgy education, but I’m assuming that the Normans were eventually absorbed into the English culture? I can well understand that a small band of outsiders would be desperate to marry into the local aristocracy and hang onto whatever vague claim they could lay their hands on. Still they probably needed to keep their swords sharp all the same.

    It always amazes me that tourism dates back to the Roman’s, but even the impoverished Glastonbury monks were in on the trade. I tell ya, tourism has been hit hard right now, but the industry is hardly an important one, all things considered.

    Oh my, ah, Henry VIII had some cojones to have had himself painted on the Winchester Round Table in the seat of Arthur along with a Tudor rose. Of course I would not be so unwise to impolitely mention such chutzpah in the presence of such an august personage who thought in such high falutin terms. My head would not have long stayed on my shoulders had I done so. But wow! Edward I seemed overly fond of the sword, but then he was beset with problems.

    Thanks for the excellent book suggestion, and I might just do that.

    Wild flowers might not flower at the right time for bees, or be of the right sort for European honey bees to forage upon. We have plenty of flowers growing here that the bees blithely ignore, and more often than not they are the native flowers. However, the bees do enjoy the Eucalyptus flowers and when the trees are in bloom the smell of honey hangs in the air. It is quite a pleasant smell and not at all cloying. But other native plants such as the wattles or banksia’s – which produce far more flowers don’t seem attractive to the bees.

    Did the DVD player work? And more importantly did you enjoy the film?

    The cinemas just closed for six weeks – as have all of the state borders to residents of the state of Victoria. People who live here, but reside in other states could head home, although with strict conditions. Thought you might enjoy this: Melbourne residents join exodus into South Australia before hard border closure.

    Still trying to track down a copy of the Bellbird New Zealand film.

    What? No links… Something is not right here! Must be something in the water? 😉 Fluoride anyone?

    Cheers

    Chris

  33. Hello again
    I have suggested to Son that he consider the possession of a generator; we have a linked electricity system. We are both used to living without electricity but the problem is our freezers as we have masses of frozen pork.

    Inge

  34. Hi Margaret,

    Ooo! Your library visit does sound a bit sterile. Out of curiosity is the lack of staff a budget thing, or a social distancing thing? I’m frankly uncomfortable with self check out arrangements and tend to stick to tellers, cashiers, library admin folks etc. Dunno why, I just prefer to deal with another human in those circumstances. If there are few staff around, how do they ensure that you don’t breach the one hour limit?

    The locale for the book club meetup sounds lovely. And shady patios are fine thing to enjoy. You painted quite the serene setting there. I’d like shade trees near the house but the combination of fire risk and the need to utilise the energy of the sun means that it is an option that is out of the question.

    Good point, and very pragmatic. To be candid if you told me six months ago that this is where we’d be today, I might have questioned your sanity, but yet here all are. So in another twelve months the ceremony and reception may be lower key again – and they’ll probably have a great time. The editor and I were married during a brutal recession 25 years ago. We had a great time and we just booked out a restaurant and paid for food and drinks and people just did what they wanted no fancy speeches or anything like that.

    Tidy work with the chickens, and it is impressive that you can sell some of the processed chooks. I’m waiting to see what the local poultry group does with the next chicken auction. There was meant to be one last Sunday, but yeah that didn’t happen.

    It is notable how well vegetables grow in a heat wave when you have access to water. Hope you get a break from the heat soon. Over summer we can get high pressure systems which bring hot air in from the centre of the continent – and the system stalls and just hangs around like a bad smell. I wouldn’t wish one of those on anyone. There are signs that La Nina is forming, which is good for us.

    Actually I’ve been trialling the pups out together slowly to see what they get up to. But mostly they go out individually now. Yes, that look. Yup, the little rotters. They know they’re doing wrong, they just don’t care.

    Thank you for the plant identification.

    Well there seems little tolerance for the concept of herd immunity down here – which is sort of what you folks are finding out about. Our politicians keep talking about a vaccine, but I don’t believe it is a simple task to create one.

    The lock down entails (not for me): Changes to Melbourne virus lockdown rules. It is an extensive list of do not’s.

    Cheers

    Chris

  35. Hi Claire,

    Out of curiosity, what are the day time maximum temperatures in your area?

    I hear you about the air conditioning, and you are doing very well. And exactly the machine reduces the humidity in the air. It makes you wonder how people lived in your part of the world prior to all that technology. Are there any older houses still remaining from those days? Air conditioners use less electricity than electric heaters. I could run a heater using the solar power, but it would place a lot of strain on the batteries.

    During the summer months we get up early and work until lunchtime and then have a lazy afternoon. In winter we do the opposite and start late and work until sun down.

    Well done with the solar oven. The devices just work (when it is sunny). I tell ya what, it was very inconvenient to vacuum this afternoon due to all manner of strangeness, but the sun was shining and so I sucked up dust (and dog hair) for an hour. Most lives are not organised so as to take advantage of the available sunlight. There are serious discussions as to cutting off solar power systems remotely in order to keep the grid stable (i.e. not generating too much electricity for short periods of time). People’s reactions have been interesting to this announcement, but that is how solar works. Dunno about you, but I have noticed that at night there is little to be enjoyed in the way of sunlight.

    Fair enough, and having a small library of books on hand is a wise move. The book was good, but I hear you about hard decisions needing to be made on that front.

    A mate of mine has raised the issue with me that the worn mask is a powerful symbol which he is most uncomfortable with. He suggests that the efficacy of the masks has not yet been proven. An interesting perspective and one that I would not have considered. I doubt there are enough masks down under for us to have to be forced to wear one – and the landfill. Ouch. The war on waste story seems to have been largely forgotten.

    Thanks for mentioning your harvest, and also the photos of your garden on your blog were beautiful, ordered and productive looking. 🙂

    There is news on the Damo front, but he should be the one to tell the story.

    Cheers

    Chris

  36. Hi Inge,

    The labels of the freezers can give an indication of just how much energy they draw. It is not as much as you’d imagine.

    But yes, a generator is a very wise adaption. And the engines are very reliable these days although I have a preference for Honda motors. The other thing you want to think about is whether you get a pure sine wave generator (i.e. the same as the electricity grid) or you use a square wave generator (some folks in rural areas call this by the technical name – dirty power).

    And get a slightly bigger generator than you think you’ll need. And you do have to match your expected usage to the generator sizing.

    The alternative is that you might have to begin dehydrating salt pans in the summer sun (at least you have access to the ocean). Back in the day they also used to smoke pork meat – which is very tasty, and probably nicer than salted pork.

    Cheers

    Chris

  37. Chris,

    I’m familiar with “Last call” or “Last drinks”. There’s the epic scene early in Hitchhiker’s Guide where Ford and Arthur are in the pub guzzling ale and scarfing peanuts trying to escape the impending Vogon destruction of earth. The bartender asks why they’re drinking so heavily and quickly, Ford replying, “The world is going to end in five minutes.” So the bartender quips along the lines of, “Right then. Last call, everybody, last call.”

    Yes, I’ve noticed the birds like underripe (for humans) berries and cherries. Dunno why, but sometimes the observation is enough and the reason why isn’t so important. At least it IS an indicator that it is nearly time to harvest.

    “Not everyone is that well balanced about the lock down.” You could probably delete “about the lockdown” and it would explain why people aren’t balanced about the lockdown. We’re (general “we”, not necessarily the regulars hereabouts) just unbalanced these days in general, and have been for quite some time. Although I did read the article you linked to about the new lockdown rules in the Big City. What are people gonna do with themselves without visiting strip clubs and brothels? 😉

    Yes, chin up, stiff upper lip and all that. That balance idea creeps in about here again, doesn’t it?

    You don’t even need to try to explain how the city feels. Ours has felt odd for months. “Surrealistic” is the word I’ve used, although it hasn’t been accurate for a few weeks now. But there is a different feel to many things right now.

    Forest nonmanagement is a religion right up there with the Religion of Progress. Facts don’t matter…belief does.

    There are many current topics, and your batteries are a brilliant example, in which the general lack of understanding of basic math and scientific principles is crippling us today. So much easier to pick a guru of some type (religious, philosophical, political, etc.) and blindly yell whatever phrases said guru spouts as some type of mantra. Saves a lot of unnecessary thinking and coping and being an adult. Unfortunately, it makes many people of varying ideological stripes sound just like the sheep from “Animal Farm”.

    Don’t get me wrong. I totally enjoyed Orwell’s 2 famous books. But why, oh why did he have to write them in such a way that they could be so easily corrupted into “How To” manuals?!?

    Lost marbles? Maybe they’re hiding next to my sense of adventure? Oh, wait, I do adventures differently now – trying to stay sane and balanced is quite the adventure today. If the lost marbles aren’t in the British Museum, then I’d suggest in a warehouse owned by the Smithsonian, somewhere near to wear they stored Indiana Jones’s Lost Ark.

    Yup, bbq outdoors. It turned out great, although had to delay a day as the weather decided to turn gusty and damp. Pork chops that the Princess feared would be overcooked and dry, but they turned out just fine.

    Tom Baker was my favorite Dr. Who actor BY FAR. The toothy grin, the scarf, and the exact proper delivery for droll witticisms. “What’s that in my pocket? Oh, an apple! An apple a day keeps the..oh, we can’t have THAT now!” And yes, I knew Douglas Adams had a part in writing and script editing many of the episodes of that era.

    DJSpo

  38. @ Inge – I got curious about Sod’s Law. Pretty much a version of the New & Improved American “Murphy’s Law.” If something can go wrong, it will. And if you add “at the worst possible time,” it becomes Finagle’s Law. Not to be confused with O’Toole’s corollary of Finagle’s Law, which is: “The perversity of the Universe tends toward the maximum.”

    Chris beat me to it. Salt or smoke the pork. Dry it? He also mentioned your access to the coast. You could become a major salt baroness. 🙂 Lew

  39. Yo, Chris – How does the golf course stay green, in Idaho? Water, lots of water. And, heavy applications of weed killer, fertilizer and insecticide. Don’t think I’d want to live down wind, from one.

    “Strike hard and move fast.” Well, as a writer, I’d say you have foreshadowing, down, pat. 🙁 .

    More important, does chicken taste like dinosaur? I’d say so. Given that, on the other hand, it’s often claimed that reptiles of various types, taste like chicken. Not that I have first hand knowledge …

    Normans: Define, “absorbed.” 🙂 . A lot of today’s toffs seem (or claim to have) Norman roots. “Came over with William the Conqueror” seems to have a certain cache, in some circles. Again, not that I have first hand knowledge … “Came over on the Mayflower.” “Came with the First Fleet.” Who cares?

    Even earlier than the Romans. Quit a few of the Greeks had a bit of wanderlust. There was even a Greek who claimed to have sailed around the whole of Britain, way back when. But did he, or, did he just talk to a lot of sailors?

    The DVD worked, and was quit enjoyable. Or, maybe it was just the ice cream? A bit more confusing than the first one, as, there was a lot more body swapping going on. When I went to the library, yesterday, I whinged on about the 25 item limit, on the hold list. He made a comment that made me think that the courier isn’t quit up to snuff, yet. I now have 6 items in transit, and hope they don’t all land at once. Feast or famine. So, after a good kvetch, I told him how happy I was to see all the folks back again, and that they were doing a wonderful job. Might as well leave on a high note.

    Speaking of terrorizing defenseless clerks, when I was in the Safeway, last night (mask AND gloves), I asked the nice young man about something I’ve been wondering about. Why are bananas sold in bunches of six, when there are seven days in the week? There was a long silence, and he finally said he really didn’t want to think about it as it made his head hurt 🙂 .

    Interesting article about the border closure. I read another one, the other night, that mentioned drones (as this one did.) Armed? Will warning shots be fired? 🙂 . The article I read also speculated that the outbreak came from the quarantine hotels. Apparently, they used a private security force, which was very lax. There was even some speculation about … hanky panky between the guards and detainees. Oh, you lusty Australians! Lew

  40. Thank you Claire and the others for the thoughts. International relocations during a global pandemic are definitely not recommended!

    Yesterday, we boarded a flight from Auckland to Sydney – there was some trepidation we would be denied boarding as just a few days before, the government announced daily passenger arrival caps for Sydney (Sydney is the global port of entry for all of Australia, and even during Covid was taking over half of all international arrivals into the country. With Melbourne shut, all arrivals were basically going through Brisbane and Sydney). It was not possible to get a clear answer from anyone on how this cap would be implemented, lucky dip? First in first served? All a mystery – perhaps even to the airline. So even though we had boarding passes, there was still a feeling of relief when we got on the plane. I overheard stories from other passengers, mostly european, who had being stuck in NZ for months since the initial lockdown. Many had more, no doubt stressful, connections to make in order to try and get back to their home country.

    The plane trip itself was great, practically empty, with 40-50 people in total on a ~300 people capacity flight, and to save fuel costs, Air New Zealand is only flying their newest aircraft with quiet cabin and large windows – so pretty nice as far as these things go, and only 3 hours too. I understand the flights are now mostly run for cargo and to help Kiwis get back to NZ from Australia on the return leg. They are clearly not making money on the leg I flew on – although I hear air freight cargo rates are pretty high now, so maybe they can at least cover fuel costs in the short term?

    Arrival in Sydney was surreal, the airport empty with more health officials, security guards and defence force personnel then passengers. Everyone was smiling though, and after a quick check of our passports and a temperature check, we were whisked on a police escorted bus to an unknown destination. There was maybe 12 of us on the bus, and we were taken to the Novotel Sydney Olympic Park hotel – a nice enough place – but note we cannot leave the room for 14 days. No use of pool, walks in the park or dinners at nice restaurants for us! I was relieved to see the windows can open – this is not always the case.

    The building is guarded by army, police and private security. Our doors are not locked (fire hazard), but I doubt you could run far anyway. Meals are dropped off 3 times a day, and we can order food and grocery deliveries if we want. Apparently, sometime today we get the Covid-19 test. Next week there will be an internet bingo match and the winner gets a bottle of wine. I have started dropping bread crumbs on the roof outside my window to attract bird life. Thankfully, the duty free place was open at Auckland, and Mrs Damo and I stocked up on a few bottles of whiskey which may help increase the entertainment value of what is streaming on Netflix.

    A month ago, the media and politicians were all talking about a Trans-Tasman bubble, and easier travel between certain countries. Clearly this is not going to happen anytime soon, and official talk is for borders to remain this way for months, perhaps even well into 2021. I definitely fall into the “covid is *much* deadlier than flu” camp, excess mortality trackers are running at 2-3x that of a bad flu season, even with lockdowns! Still, I find it hard to decide if this sort of lockdown and economic crunch is worth it. /shrug – out of my hands either way 🙂

    Expect more frequent commenting for the next 3-4 weeks!! Although I will have even less to say – hmm, a predicament.

    Cheers,
    Damo

  41. Hi, Chris!

    I am glad, as always, to hear how your solar really works; sometimes just barely. It has been hot as the dickens here for a couple of weeks, highs often near, or at, 100F (37.8C), right out in the sun. Yes, I get right out in the sun; I love it. We water something or other every day.

    It is too hot here to build rock gabions . . .

    Plum is like Mr. Toothy – always wanting to be in the picture. You are so smart to do some separate training of each of them.

    Plum Kenobi – that’s so funny!

    Pam

  42. Hi, Chris!

    I have lost my comment to you, which was before my comment to Damo. Will get back to you later.

    Pam

  43. Hi DJ,

    Oh yeah, of course. How funny was the understated and droll English humour in that series? Douglas Adams really captured the spirit of that. And all the while Arthur’s cottage was being demolished in the background by way of contrast, also displaying the reality that a difference of scale is not in fact a difference of kind. Very subtle, and highly amusing.

    The birds are really handy for alerting me to the ripeness of fruit as it is not as easy to know when that occurs as people might imagine. For example the peaches when harvested are rock hard when on the tree, but then after a few days on the kitchen bench they are ready to consume. I’ve often remarked that it is not enough just to grow the edible plants, but you have to know every step along the journey – in fact the entire story of the plant. Right now we are enjoying bottled plums and apricots from last summer. And I reckon the plums are tastier.

    There was a news report that just before such establishments of the night went into lock down, there were socially distanced queues going around the corner, and I sort of felt sorry for the ladies working in such places. Although your story reminded me of an amusing anecdote which I shall relay to you (and personalise). So imagine you wore a cap with the words: DJ’s (a word beginning with the letter F that rhymes with the word Trucking) Good at Physics. Viewed from certain angles the cap would suggest to people that: DJ’s (a word beginning with the letter F that rhymes with the word Trucking) Good! 😉

    There is a different feel. Yeah. The first lock down was accompanied by a sense of resignation. The second feels a bit more angry to my senses, but yeah the word odd sums it all up rather nicely. It has become very quiet up here again.

    Oh! I’d never thought of forest management as a form of a belief system. BOOM! That was the sound of my mind being blown away. Hope there is something left in there when the dust settles!

    Hehe! Yes, I doubt Old George would be amused that he had penned a couple of most excellent ‘how to’ manuals. I have this vague gut feeling that the books were intended as warnings, but you know people see the world differently.

    Heading out and about can imbibe a sense of adventure these days. I live outside the lock down area, but I fully expect to have to provide an account of myself to the authorities sooner or later. I don’t envy them their jobs.

    I always liked that last scene from Indiana Jones film, and the film never really explained what it was about or who was doing the storing, but didn’t really need to. Damo is having an adventure right now, and I’m having a tiramisu adventure as I type this.

    Aren’t your summers normally hot and dry? How is the garden coping with the conditions this season?

    Agreed, Tom Baker was the best. And I had no idea that Douglas Adams was involved in the script writing of the series.

    Hey, this afternoon I broke off about a third of the epic sized rock in this week’s photos, and then manage to begin the process of relocating it to a more useful location. Hard work and I kept at until the sun had set.

    Cheers

    Chris

  44. Hi Pam,

    The comment turned up. The old blogger platform used to eat comments from time to time, but this one seems fairly reliable and lost posted comments usually surface.

    Yeah, for three weeks either side of the winter solstice, the sun is just low in the sky and most days it’s OK, but then there are some days that aren’t. I really do wonder about the mental health of people promoting this technology as a one for one replacement with fossil fuels. But then, they probably have no experience with the stuff. What do you? The technology is good for what it does, it just ain’t the same as fossil fuels. Get outside and plant a garden seems like a wise thing to do in the circumstances – and I note that you are already onto that. 🙂

    I work in such hot conditions too, although not in the mid to late afternoons on such days, but yes they would be too hot to haul rocks and fill rock gabions. I broke up the big rock today at the end of the highest terrace. What can I say: the rock was not where it should be.

    Do you know Plum actually has some characteristics of Mr Toothy, and I do rather hope that the spirit of Mr Toothy has taken over part of the mind of Plum. Worth keeping an eye on that one.

    Hehe! Glad to entertain. 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  45. @ Lew
    We can’t dry meat or any other type of food, Son has tried; Our humidity is too great.

    Inge

    @ Damo
    Sounds like one hell of an ordeal to me. Glad that you can open a window and trust that you can turn off the air conditioning which probably caused the problem on the cruise ships.

    Inge

  46. Hi Lewis,

    Oooo! Nasty and yeah hard to avoid the spray drift. Years ago there was a guy I used to communicate with through the solar off-grid folks network and he had an organic farm far up north along the east coast. I haven’t heard from him for a number of years but the drought was brutal up there and he may have quit the land and sold up. Things were not good and not getting better. Anyway, in earlier years he told me that his local council sprayed the vegetation alongside the road, and the drift from that seriously impacted his cherry trees. And funnily enough I read a similar account in a Gene Logsdon book with some apricot trees.

    A few years ago the angry-mulch-guy neighbour was possibly unhappy that the editor and I were harvesting the blackberries on the road, and he apparently sprayed the plants with herbicide but neglected to tell us about it. We heard about it from another neighbour and I was very seriously grumpy, but the act had been done and it was too late. Some of the local kids were also eating the berries.

    Hehe! Thanks for that insight. And I hadn’t realised that foreshadowing was actually a writing (and in fact relates to a few art forms) technique. Interesting, I sort of thought of the concept as keeping people engaged – and hopefully also entertained. Imagine if somehow the blog or dialogue got boring. I can hear them now: Yeah, the blog’s OK, but it used to be heaps better long ago. I’m getting a swooning attack of the fantods!

    There was that one croc burger that time. And yes it did taste like chicken, but the farm fed the crocodiles on chicken, so I can’t really make a proper comparison to other reptile meat as the test is biased from the start. It reminds me of the time I fed the chickens heaps of pineapple – and then their eggs tasted of pineapple. I gifted a dozen eggs to a mate at the time, and he had the cheek to complain to me that the eggs were a bit strong tasting. It is not my problem if they have the palate of a cows backside. Dunno whether people are quicker to complain nowadays about food, but as a general rule – and think Fight Club here, as it all comes back to that story – it is unwise to ruffle the feathers of the kitchen staff and then ask them to produce a meal.

    There ain’t much cache to be gained in claiming that one’s dodgy ancestors arrived in the country via way of the First Fleet! Perhaps things are a bit more pragmatic down here and less full of ideological concerns. The English at the time probably believed that the convicts were surplus to their needs and given the treatment of convicts in the hulks? I make no claims as to high falutin ancestors – although some of them probably talked a whole bunch of rubbish, and possibly way more than their fair share of it too.

    But thank you for explaining that the Normans had been absorbed. I was getting that flavour from the history, but then historians didn’t actually come out and say that that lot arrived, got absorbed and then became locals indistinguishable from the other locals.

    It would have been an impressive feat for one of the Ancient Greeks to have done so, but then given their story telling tradition my gut feeling says that the bloke may have told a tall tale based on second, third and twentieth accounts of other adventurers. And who is to gainsay such a person when the experience of travel that far removed was rare. Dunno about you, but I’m feeling that international travel is unwinding and may not return to its former state. Our country is now suggesting that arrivals will be strictly limited, and quarantine is now to be paid by the people thus enjoying the forced internment. It makes travel very unappealing as I suspect it is meant to.

    Thanks for the film review and I see your ice cream and raise you home made tiramisu. Yum! The film as Danny DeVito in it. Glad to hear that you enjoyed it.

    How were the folks at the library doing after their short period away from the job? I note that things are a bit slower on that front, although I haven’t stopped working myself so haven’t really slipped into the slower pace myself. Wise to end the conversation on a positive note, especially as they possibly control your hold list. Remember Fight Club and onion soup… 😉

    That’s funny about the bananas and I like your style. Down here bananas are just sold in whatever bunches make up the hand – it is basically all over the shop and most places I shop at rarely see firsts fruit. Some places I go to must have thirds or fourths quality, but it is all good and the difference really is marginal and mostly based on what the stuff looks like – or sizing. I’m still getting annoyed by the cashiers who ask me if I’ve got much on for the rest of the day. One day I’m going to wheel out the: “Yeah, I gotta go to a funeral” and then look all sad and stuff. But it is a brutal response, but far out they annoy me – they’re not my mates and it is not lost on me that there are a lot of unemployed working age males floating around and the cashiers might be wise to use some circumspection. But then it is not really my place to train their social cues, so I just act taciturn and mysteriously grunt the reply to their question: “Yeah”. Says so much and so little all at once. What would you do? Do you reckon the ‘funeral’ tactic number one is a bit over the top?

    Yeah exactly, military, drones, border patrols: Who knows whether people running the border (not so easy as there is a large river in between for much of the length) get disappeared. Note that I used the word ‘get’ it has the same sorts of implications as the word ‘volunteered’. Not good, but it is happening.

    The hanky panky story has entered into urban myth. Down here nobody knows whether to be outraged or in awe of the security guards. As far as I know there was no hint as to lack of consent in the err, actions. Mostly I feel that people are leaning to the annoyed side of that continuum. I have warned Damo and Mrs Damo not to get involved in such antics – seems like good advice! 😉

    Cheers

    Chris

  47. Hello Chris
    I’ll pass on the generator info. to Son though I expect it to mean nothing at all to him; he’ll need to rely on some expert friend. Not sure that trying to smoke 5 whole sides of a pig would be possible for him; he does make our bacon.
    Summer is supposed to return tomorrow, it is already warming up.

    I do wonder whether our towns will ever return to being pleasant to visit, things have changed beyond belief. Swimming pools are supposed to be opening shortly with the proviso that one mustn’t swim butterfly stroke or overtake anyone! It just gets madder and madder. The virus will never be eliminated now, a vaccine is doubtful so it will finally rely on herd immunity.

    Inge

  48. Hi Chris,

    To give you an indication of the temperatures that caused us to turn on the AC, yesterday, the hottest day, the high was 96F/35.6C and the low was 76F/24.4C. The high relative humidity (dew points in the low 70sF) kept the lows from dropping below the mid 70sF, and that is what caused us to need the AC to drop the house temperature and humidity low enough to sleep and to recover from outdoor work. Today, however, the relative humidity and the forecast high are lower, so the AC is off and the windows open for a few days while this short cool spell lasts. On Tuesday temperature and dew points go back up, with temperatures even higher than yesterday forecast. By then we’ll be under an excessive heat warning and the AC will be on again. I plan to get as much done outside as I can today and the next three days!

    @Damo – I’m glad you and Mrs. Damo have arrived safely and wish you everything you need to keep sane during a 14 day quarantine in a hotel room!

    Claire

  49. @ Damo – So, you caught the last train out of Warsaw? 🙂 . I started watching a new series, last night. “World on Fire.” Somehow or another, it reminded me of your situation. Independent circumstances cause massive dislocation of populations. At least your not dodging bombs or invading armies.

    Besides the tele, I hope you have a few books to keep you amused. Lew

  50. @ Damo:

    I forgot to mention that I thought you and Mrs. Damo were brilliant to start leaving crumbs on the window sill to attract birds. If you were really lucky you might get roof rats. I lived in a house with those once.

    Pam

  51. @ Inge:

    I tried early on when we moved here drying fruit and vegetables in the sun. They molded very quickly because of the humidity, as you mentioned. So we got the dehydrator that we have had all these years. The sun here is very undependable anyway.

    Pam

  52. Yo, Chris – One wonders if there is legal recourse, if spray drift damages trees or crops? Probably, the time and money involved makes it not worth it.

    If I remember correctly, Damo strongly dislikes foreshadowing. 🙂 .

    Pytheas, c. 300 BCE. Sailed to Britain, Ireland, and points north.

    Not much time for chit chat, at the library. So far, there’s been another car on my tail, and, the physical barriers discourage much interaction. I picked up several things, yesterday. A series called “The Righteous Gemstones.” It’s got John Goodman in it. It’s about a grifter family that runs a mega church and TV ministry. Don’t know if I’m going to stick with it. I mean, it’s kind of a one joke show. Those in the know, know that those people are mostly grifters. “Current Wars,” Edison vs Tesla, also showed up. Don’t know when I’ll get to it. Because I also got a series called “World on Fire”, about WWII. Pretty engrossing. Not so much military, than how the war impacted people on more the home front. It follows folks in Poland, Britain and Paris.

    I also picked up a book called “The Home Front 1939-1945 in 100 Objects.” Ruddy, 2019. I thought it was going to be about the American home front, but, it’s Britain. So, there’s an object (everything from gas masks to Anderson Shelters,) and a lot of text to put the object in perspective.

    We went through a period where clerks, every Tom, Dick and Judy was wishing you a “nice day.” It was a wide spread corporate attempt at bright siding the customer. I finally got to the point where I would respond with, “No thank you. I have other plans.” I suppose you could respond with, “Oh, I think I’ll rob a bank and overthrow the government.” 🙂 .

    I noticed that your hair salons are exempt from the shut down. Those blue haired old ladies, who consider a weekly trip to have their hair done as an essential task, are a formidable political force. I noticed several carrying signs, during our lockdown protests that said, “End the lockdown! I need to get my hair done!” Seriously. Since this all started, at least three times one of the ladies on my floor, has thrown open her apartment, had a hairdresser come in, who took on all comers. On the sly. Didn’t seem all that wise, to me.

    Well, we had 7 cases, yesterday, and 5 the day before. So, we’re to 95, now. I also got a book called, “The Spanish Flu Epidemic and its Influence on History” (Breitnauer, 2019). It’s a bit confusing, as it can’t seem to make up it’s mind to tell personal stories, or, the science end of things. And, after awhile, I feel bit numb to the personal stories. But what’s … interesting is how much the first wave of the flu is like what’s going on now. Not only how it struck the population, but also the dithering of the authorities. It this flu follows the path of 1918, there will be a second wave, in the fall, that will be very lethal. People falling down dead in the streets, etc.. And then a not so lethal third wave, in the spring. I feel like I should prepare … just in case.

    Prof. Mass has an interesting article about our present weather. Which is rather pleasant, but, unless we get a hot spell and a long warm fall, is going to be very bad for any warm weather crops. But, cool weather crops seem to be doing, ok. I’ve got lots of garlic, potatoes … and the green beans are looking good. And, I’m finally getting quit a few pea pods. Lew

  53. @Inge
    I hope your son takes your advice about the generator. Some years ago a bad storm took out our power for 3 days during the middle of the summer. We did have a generator so were able to keep the refrigerator and freezers running but not much else. Our issue was lack of water as we’re on a well and we had pigs and other livestock that needed plenty of water. The generator wasn’t wired into the well. We ended up getting a much larger one and had an electrician wire it so we could flip a switch and it would power the well, sump pump along with other essentials. It made all the difference.

    Margaret

  54. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the article. I was surprised to see hairdressers open as that’s ranked as a mid-range risk here. The difference between your country’s response and ours is just mind boggling.

    The library is funded by local taxes so no it’s not budget issue though I imagine all the plexiglass etc costs something. The library has been offering a lot of online activities so some of the staff has been busy with that.

    We did get some rain and it’s cooled down a bit.

    Margaret

  55. @Damo,

    Best of luck to you and Mrs. Damo over the next two weeks. It all just sounds awful but hopefully worth it in the end. I don’t know if you would like any Netflix suggestions but here you go, “Schitt’s Creek”. It’s good, light entertainment made for a pandemic lockdown. Unfortunately the sixth and final season won’t be on Netflix until the fall if you happen to end up binge watching it.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schitt%27s_Creek

    Margaret

  56. @ Damo,

    Your ordeal sounds stressful. Glad you grabbed bottles of something useful to drink while in lockdown.

    I agree with you that this virus is NOT to be trifled with. I’ve watched the patterns, seen what it is doing to anybody who suffers beyond a mild case.

    Hope some birds show up to feast on the crumbs!

    DJSpo

  57. Chris,

    Agreed, Adams nailed the droll humor. Mixed in with the entertainment there was actually a lot worth thinking about. But that “difference of scale/difference of kind idea” right at the beginning was brilliant!

    Isn’t enjoying your own fruit and veggies rewarding? I scored enough berries from the raspberries to take care of us for 2 breakfasts. They taste extra good this year…

    Ohhhh, those poor ladies. That sounds an awful lot of customers. Was somebody walking up and down the street proclaiming “Last call”?

    DJ’s Trucking* Good at Physics is right up there with Thaddeus Fuddthucker’s Restaurant. *Required spelling change to maintain a family friendly atmosphere.

    There’s a LOT of anger right now. Too much. I fear that we’re reaping the rewards of 40 years of 1) politicians of a certain flavor spreading distrust of science and education and 2) enough scientists selling themselves and their abilities to the highest bidder.

    Ya know, things were nicely quiet here. The noisy fireworks from the 4th are in the rearview mirror, then KABOOM! I thought it was a loud sonic boom. Must’ve been your mind, I guess. Yes, it’s interesting to realize the many ideas that are held that are belief systems that people make money exploiting. Or at least have a huge amount of emotion wrapped up in the belief. A lot of that going around now too. I do rather hope that your mind is coming back together. 🙂

    Interestingly, KABOOM! is the cereal brand in the Kill Bill scene in which Beatrix Kiddo was fighting Vernita Green. Vernita kept a loaded gun in the cereal box.

    I talked to my friend in law enforcement on a work related thing today. He still sounds stressed, but he’s on vacation for a week or two, plans on being with his wife and children and just chill out and relax. I do NOT envy him his job in “normal” times, but it has been hideous the past 10 weeks. Anybody in an authoritative position these days has it rough.

    Yes, summers are typically hot and dry. It has been decades since we had one like this. We’re getting enough warm and sunny days that everything seems to be doing okay. Some of the squash have blossoms now. “Somebody” was smart and planted the squash near the sage (which is just starting to bloom) and the blooming larkspur. Hopefully bees attracted to the sage and larkspur flowers will visit the squash too. We’ve been closer to normal temperatures for a few days, and it looks like things will “normalize” for a few weeks. Thanks for asking.

    Good job on the big rock. There’s a road southeast of Spokane called Big Rock Rd. I’ve driven on it for work a few times. Yes, the name is appropriate.

    Oh, not meaning to butt into a conversation, but butting in…the Normans really didn’t assimilate or merge well in England. The royals and many other Norman nobles spoke French for centuries. While they did marry daughters of the higher level English, to say that they merged or assimilated really misses the mark. They just used the marriages to justify taking over the estates. Somehow all of the male English heirs died within a generation or 2 after Hastings. There was a lot of intermarriage between Normans and Welsh nobility and royalty, too, but the Normans really looked down on the English and Welsh and Scots and treated them as inferiors, nobility and commoners both.

    DJSpo

  58. Hi Inge,

    A wise option, and when we constructed the house, the few times that we specified particular chunks of plumbing infrastructure, we got it wrong. Of course experience rectified our bout of hopium versus the lack of knowledge conundrum, and all the while the plumber was really good about it and just tried to get this stuff to work. We would have done better to have listened to him in the first place, but then I occasionally encounter him and he said that the job here taught him a lot and in the meantime he learned elsewhere. Thus when the wood heater was replaced, he absolutely nailed it and we just ran with his advice. Your generator experience will most certainly be like that, and the really funny bit is if your expert gets it right – you’ll never know that that was indeed the case. I mean what can you compare it to?

    I sort of know a local bloke who is also using off-grid solar technology. He has issues with his system, which I’ve tried to discuss with him, but because someone else specified all of the parts of the system, he just doesn’t know where things are going wrong and has belief in the expert. However, the flip side to that belief is that he also doesn’t know where things are going right and his faith stops him from learning. And the outcome is, that he does not learn.

    Ah, of course such a smoking treatment is not far off an industrial process. Between you and I, the mid-winter feast was a method of food preservation too. Plus after the event, feed costs were much reduced.

    Fingers crossed that summer arrives on schedule.

    Hey, I went through a police checkpoint today. Yes, the year of living dangerously meant that we took a photo, but who knows how that turned out. I doubt that things will return to their former state if only because what is not sustainable, generally isn’t sustained.

    Exactly, the virus is out there and so we will have to deal with it one way or another. Australian’s living overseas are whining in the press that the government is imposing restrictions upon the number of people who can return to the country at any one time. I distinctly recall one state premier suggesting a while back to such people to come back now, or don’t come back at all – but I may have misheard that. Such words tell me all that I need to know.

    Cheers

    Chris

  59. Hi Claire,

    Great news that the humidity has decreased for you and that you can finally open the windows to the cooler air. Very wise to get your outside work done whilst you can in the now cooler conditions.

    It is hard to put your experience into context, but I totally get the high humidity feeling as I’ve known the tropics. Yup, it is hot up there.

    For your info, the hottest over night temperature experienced here is 84’F / 29’C last summer and that was brutal. The overhead fans work, but you’re still hot all the same. A decade ago summer nights barely surpassed 73’F / 23’C, but things are most certainly heating up. Incidentally, insulation has only so much to offer during such weather as the inside of the house will get to 84’F / 29’C after three consecutive days of 104’F+ / 40’C+ weather. What do you?

    The garden seems to cope better than I do during such times.

    Cheers

    Chris

  60. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah it is pretty full on down here. How does the difference compare to your country’s response? As we’re not in lock down and have lesser restrictions applied to us (due to living outside the metropolitan area), the editor and I today passed through a locked down area. And I kid you not, we had to pass through a police checkpoint where they checked our ID and waved us on. That sure was a new and interesting experience. But it was all pretty low stress really. I noted an old bloke with his horse float, who was pulled over and ‘assisting the constabulary with their inquiries’ and also most likely getting fined big time. The bloke would have known, by his stance and eye contact I got the feeling he was trying it on. If he was smarter he would have claimed that he was taking his horse to the vet.

    I guess the local taxes would be rated on property valuations, so yeah there is a bit of stability to the income base. I am wondering how many people drop off the radar in terms of paying those taxes and what the consequences of that will be. Dunno, but insurances are I’m guessing like that now. I’ll bet you’re happy that you and Doug downsized when you did?

    Nice to read that things have cooled down. It is looking very winter like out the window today. Grey skies and drizzly rain. Better than seeing grizzly bears out there! 🙂

    Cheers

    Chris

  61. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, Douglas Adams was clearly an astute observer of the human condition. The droll and dry humour really spoke to me too as he made such fun of everyday activities but took them to far extremes. And the demolition works for the hyper space bypass was one of those. Marvin the paranoid android was another, as were his manufacturers and their dubious advertising. I mean how does a person forget the lines: “Your plastic pal who’s fun to be with”, except the reality was Marvin. Great writing.

    Ooo! Fresh raspberries. Yum! The berries make the best jam too. My one regret last summer was not providing the poor plants with additional water early on. The plants never recovered and produced almost no berries for the season – and have since been replanted into their own enclosure. The sudden onset of a very short but extremely hot summer threw out the rule book.

    Hehe!!! Well we must maintain a level of decorum as befits the audience. However, should the worst case scenario occur and the only readers of the blog left are you and I and Lewis, well we can then let loose and run feral. But until then we must bend to the social niceties, and draw upon horrid memories of um, err, Carry On films innuendo when dealing with such delicate subjects… 😉 All that English imagery from my youth has seriously twisted my brain. A sad state of affairs, but what do you do?

    Mate, you nailed it. That is the very problem of being an expert. If mud is thrown at experts then some of it sticks. But then if some experts sell their souls for booty, then some mud sticks from that. Then after a while, we’re up to our eyeballs in mud. And maybe it is just me and I can’t really speak for you, but I don’t like mud.

    Thanks for your concern and also the compassionate explanation. So I picked up the scattered pieces of my mind from off the floor and then did my very best to put them back together. The problem is that it is like one of those jigsaw puzzles where the pieces can fit, but the image emerging from the primordial murk is just not right somehow. Might have to reassemble the chunks of brain. Not so easily done. A gourmet pie earlier today assisted with the awfulness of the situation.

    Yeah I never watched Kill Bill. I respect the good directors work, but after sitting through the films Reservoir Dogs and Natural Born Killers, there was a bit of psychic fallout. It was like all those slasher/teen horror films of the 80’s and 90’s, they kind of made my brain explode – and I’ve only just put the thing back together again. I’m sure you recall those films?

    Things are a bit crazy in your country right now. I do wonder what the de-funding folks are after. Clearly there is room for improvement with the forces, however I’m not sure that anarchy – which exists at the opposite end of that de-funding spectrum – is such a good idea. And it is worth noting that the actions of some people in a group is not necessarily representative of all the folks in that particular group. Anyway on either side of that argument the fires of seems like it is being stoked to me. Basically your media has lost the plot. I had to go through a police roadblock today, which is a really surreal experience, yet the police were very pleasant and we even had a bit of a joke about things.

    It is such a pleasure to experience a perfect summer – which is what yours sounds like to my ears. Best of luck with the pumpkins (your dare-I-rename squashes) and we’d be tracking about the same if the seasons were suddenly tilted upside down.

    Haha! Mate the biggerest rock of all is Uluru, or Ayers Rock, which is a massive sandstone monolith. The giant pebble has to be seen to be believed. The editor and I walked around it years and years ago and the circumference walk was something like 9km. Took a few hours. Epic.

    Thank you for the explanation regarding the Normans. Ah yes, history is rife with injustice – don’t mention the potatoes is a rule of thumb here. However, the question I have rattling around in my brain is whatever happened to the Normans, are they still there? And at what point did they become locals? Of course such things are of interest to me as up here that is a three generation progression which I have zero chance of achieving.

    Cheers

    Chris

  62. @Pam
    Thank you for the kind words of support, although I am not sure brave is the right word 🙂 The bird crumbs have not worked yet – although a currawong did look at us quizzically this morning from a safe distance

    @Inge
    It doesn’t feel like an ordeal yet – but still early days. Plenty of time for me to go all The Shining!

    @Marg
    Thank you for the well wishes and netflix suggestion – Although I have never watched it, Mrs Damo highly enjoyed that show and she might be behind a season or two. I will let her know 🙂

    @Claire
    Thank you, I am sure the time will fly….hopefully!

    @Lew
    Books, netflix, downloaded shows, video games, and six hours of yoga (long story)! Does Sean Beans character in world on fire meet an untimely end? He does get typecast in those sort of roles….

    @DJ
    We got our first test today. A stick shoved down your throat, then up both nostrils is not very pleasant! In 7 days we get another test. We have the option of refusing – but then you get another 10 days added to your mandatory hotel stay. Worryingly, the nurses had some discussion over which barcode to attach to my vial – here’s hoping I don’t get mixed up with the chronic cougher in room 332!

    Cheers,
    Damo (Day 3)

  63. Hi Lewis,

    It is funny you mention the legal recourse for spray drift, but in a roundabout sort of way that was sort of tested in the court system. I thought that the outcome was fairly in the bag, but no I was wrong. So there was an organic certified farmer who allegedly lost his organic certification due to contamination from a nearby field of GMO crops. Thus proving that bees, wind and other pollinating vectors, I guess don’t really stop at property boundaries. The organic farmer sought compensation for the loss of certification and appears to have failed. Organic Farmer Dealt Final Blow in Landmark Lawsuit Over Monsanto’s GMO Contamination . An ugly situation and the legal system appears to be crazy expensive.

    Damo has a few dramas right now being stuck in quarantine. Believe it or not, the editor and I travelled through an adjoining rural area which was in lock down and were faced with a police road block. The editor took some photos so you can get an idea of things, but it was a surreal experience. The police were nice enough, and we even cracked some jokes, but it was very strange to see such a thing in place. Oh, and we scored some gourmet pies which are unfortunately located just inside the shutdown area. They can do take away so it was all cool, but the folks there were gutted at the prospect of six weeks shutdown of their main business. Once out of the lock down area we stopped off at a few farm gates and made some solid purchases. It seems wise to stock up on stuff given the likelihood that this area could potentially get shut down. Been there, done that and got the t-shirt.

    Prudent is a word you don’t hear much these days, but I suspect that we may hear more of it in the future.

    OK, Pytheas was a great adventurer. It is a shame that his writings aren’t directly known these days. What a view of the world it would have brought.

    Ah, John Goodman is, excuse the unintentional pun, good and a regular actor for the Coen Brothers. Such a story might not be to my tastes though, if only because many such folks are of that persuasion. Aren’t they? Best not answer that question. 🙂 I don’t know much about the Current Wars film and will be curious to read your review (when you get around to watching the film). It is funny that little is said of the people who lived through WWII and the conditions they found themselves in. The word deprivation springs immediately to mind. There are endless treatise on the military side of things, that’s for sure.

    Did the book of objects on the home front reveal any items of notable interest? I’d hate to think just how many un-detonated items of ordinance there are out there in the world. It would make for an alarming archaeological dig don’t you reckon (knowing that such things could be in the general area)?

    I’m a bit leery of such fake words. It’s not like the people are your mates, family or even general acquaintances. The shop greeters are not often seen down here, but usually when they are in place their role is to discourage shoppers from considering shop lifting. I once observed a lady shop lift something (I forget what it was now) and then hop into a very large SUV. It was a very surreal experience and I did wonder at the time as to what her story was that would make her do that act. And like if things had gotten to that stage, why wouldn’t she sell the large SUV? Dunno, but it makes me wonder.

    Your reply is excellent and I may trot that one out. Wouldn’t it be funny if I said that, and then the bank actually got robbed. That wouldn’t look good, so I may stick to the less probable option of revolution. 🙂

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? People still need to get their hair cut. We have spoken about this before, but the general level of deportment has sunk to new lows recently. The other day I pointed out a young lady to the editor so that I could verify that she was actually wearing pyjamas out in public. Some guys I know are looking pretty rough around the edges as they fall back from their usual patterns. Need I mention that the patterns aren’t right? 🙂 But I’m being serious about the general decline in that department. I’m going with my usual casual scruffy, but socially passable presentation. And definitely no favourite woollen jumper off the property under the editors strict orders. One of the things I learned at the more English than the English grammar school was to know how to wear a suit in a casual style. People who failed to get that programming always look slightly up tight to my eyes – and it shows. But then they might be right and I’m wrong. Maybe? Oh, and a replacement has arrived for the woollen jumper and it now only has the vaguest whiff of lanolin about it. Sheep look nervous when I’m wearing the new jumper, and the sheep dogs look on adoringly. The jumper has sheep mojo.

    Well yeah, your story of hair business (never liked the musical, but the music was actually pretty good and catchy), sort of shows how things spiral out of control. There is not much you can do as you’re only as good as the weakest link. And make sure the plumbing in your place has water in all of the s and p-trap drains. Sars apparently spread through a quarantine hotel that way because the drains had no water in the traps to act as a physical barrier.

    Well it just so happens that the editor spoke very recently with someone who grew up in the era of TB and polio and knew of kids who suffered either disease. One of the interesting things that the person remarked upon is that people nowadays are far more physical with their greetings than they were back when such diseases ran riot. I’m not really one for the hug or kisses with friends and family so the current times suit me just fine. I learned about the physical distance thing at a young age as there was someone in my immediate family with hepB and from what I saw way back in the day you don’t want that. Seeing other people so relaxed about physical contact was quite confronting as a kid and some friends insist upon such close contact and I just deal.

    Who knows, I’ve got my eyes on the death toll and the age category of people dying right now. When that risk category hits my age group, trust me I’ll adapt further. Have no fear on that score. Preparation is all one can do. Can’t say that our lot down here is dithering given the circumstances. One outcome from all of this is that I doubt international travel is ever going to return to where it was. Our government is talking about restricting incoming numbers, and making the trip unappealing by getting those travellers to pay for their quarantine.

    Cheers

    Chris

  64. @ Chris and Margaret
    Son has just informed me that he had a generator once but gave it away because he couldn’t stand the noise. Remember that he is very deaf, so I am somewhat stunned. Have either of you got any info. on generators and noise?

    Inge

  65. Hi Chris,

    There is no consistency regarding guidelines from one state to the next and there’s really no enforcement either though there’s inklings that that might change in some places. I imagine lockdowns will continue to occur on and off. From what I understand that’s the situation in countries that have had better success controlling the numbers where they temporarily lockdown a particular area with increasing cases. Restaurants and movie theaters are deciding on their own to close temporarily when employees have tested positive though I imagine that isn’t always the case. Doug and I are pretty much limiting our activities outdoors unless it’s with people we know who have been careful.

    We certainly are happy we downsized when we did and also that we decided to still have some property rather than a lot in town.

    Margaret

  66. @ Damo – Well, the Sean Bean character lives in London’s east end, and the Blitz is bearing down on them. I’d say he’d be lucky to make it through episode 3. 🙂 . He plays the “dad”, pacifist (because of WWI PTSD) bus driver. I’m sure he’ll go in a heroic manner.

    Sounds like you’re covered for entertainment. So you don’t go all “Here’s Johnny! / Shinning ” on everyone. Do you know where the fire axes are? Seen any weird little twin girls, roaming the hallways? Lew

  67. PS: Damo – Latest conspiracy theory (Bringing you conspiracy theories since 1970). When they shoved that extra long Q-tip up your nose, there was a nano chip, which has now been inserted into your brain. Apparently, Mr. Gates wants to keep tabs on you. Obviously, the man has way too much time on his hands, and needs to get a hobby. Lew

  68. Yo, Chris – I was wondering about the financing of such a legal trial. But, I see the GMO farmer was covered by the seed company and the organic farmer by enviro groups. Here, we had a farmer who saved seed, for the next year. I don’t know how (subpoena?) but the seed company tested his seed and found it had genetic material from their GMO seed. They sued him for theft. After lots of expense and stress, and, trips through higher and higher courts, I believe the case was finally dismissed. But, I may be wrong. I read some sci-fi novel where two big seed companies pretty much rule the world. And there’s constant warfare between them, with lots of releasing of plant diseases, to try and wipe out the competitor.

    Coming on a police road block would be a bit surreal. I’m looking forward to an expansion of that story, this week. I went down to our lobby, early last evening, to check my mail. There were about six inmates, lounging about. One commented, “Look, Lew is the only one following the rules.” As, I was the only one wearing a mask. I didn’t say it, but thought, “Yeah, and when things get really bad, you’ll all be saying, how did he know?” Ruminating on it more this morning, I thought, “Yeah, and if things really get bad, I’ll be the one taking care of you and holding your _____ hand, as you check out.”

    Maybe some of Pytheas’s writing might turn up. Never know that you’re going to find, where. Seems like hardly a month goes by that something doesn’t surface from a rubbish tip, in Egypt. Lost Greek plays, Sappho’s poetry, really early bits of Homer. Rather than shopping lists and boring land contracts. Often, the papyrus has been used as toilet paper. Did they have a pandemic, too? 🙂 .

    Well, there’s plenty of books out there on how folks rode out WWII. You just have to poke around to find them. Gee, what objects have caught my attention? I just gave the book a quick skim, and now I’m going back and reading in depth. The Anderson shelters were pretty interesting. And, stirrup pumps, for fire fighting.

    Last night I watched a documentary, “Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins.” She was a political commentator from Texas, who “comforted the powerless and discomforted the powerful.” She had a very sharp wit, and pulled no punches. Usually, just laughing at the foibles of politicians.

    Save me from people that are huggers. 🙁 . Usually, when someone makes a lunge for me, I step back, make the sign of the cross with my fingers, and very firmly say, “Not a hugger.” Always works.

    I had Hep B, back in the 70’s. Was in the hospital for 18 days. My poor liver. Lew

  69. Chris,

    There’s always “Share and Enjoy”, the motto of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. http://www.hhgproject.org/entries/shareandenjoy.html The link has some background, lyrics and a link to the song as played on the original BBC Hitchhikers Guide radio series.

    The gardening rule book works just fine. Until there’s an “abnormal” growing season. My experience is that most growing seasons are abnormal in one way or another.

    hehehe. English imagery? I tells you, English humor can seriously warp one’s mind. I sit before you as a prime example.

    I can do without the mud also. My experience with mud is that you don’t really know what its base ingredients actually are. And probably better off not knowing…

    Think of it another way. Back to deductive reasoning, the conclusion is correct if the underlying assumptions are correct. So, with forest management…At Fernglade Farm, an assumption probably is that something needs to be done to minimize the risk to the home and farm from any wildfires that happen by for a visit. The dead and dry underbrush and deadfall trees and limbs provides ample ground level fuel to allow said fire to spread rapidly and quite hot. So, let’s clean up the flammables. Oh, and by golly, the pre-European inhabitants cleaned the forests also and there don’t seem to have been a lot of large fires.

    If, however, the assumption is that nature in its “pristine” form without human interference is ideal, then it follows that forest management by doing nothing is good, leading to all of that floor cover sitting there waiting to ignite. This assumption forgets that humans ARE part of the picture, and is therefore faulty.

    The basic issue, then, is that the faulty assumption is held by many, as are the conclusions. But the conclusions must be incorrect, so that continuing to hold to the faulty conclusions has thus become a form of belief, rather than founded on fact and observation. There’s a lot of that going around. Hope that helps.

    Yeah, Tarentino’s films are blood fests. In-laws had rented Reservoir Dogs way back when, but I was more reading a book than paying attention to it, as it seemed rather stupid. Never did watch Natural Born Killers, as it seemed to be rather too far out there, also.

    De-funding is the term the movement chose, but is not accurate as to the stated goals, which could have changed by now. I’ve read a couple thoughtful articles about it…some worthy ideas include police departments should get rid of the surplus military vehicles and such. Ideas like that I can support. The idea that police don’t need guns at a minor traffic stop sounds good, but there are cases that a gun is pulled on the police in those instances, so this isn’t practical. It’s another movement that has gone off the rails before it could accomplish its initial primary goal.

    Uluru sounds huge. I just looked at some pictures of it. it IS huge. And very beautiful.

    More on the Normans will take its own reply, as it’s a lengthy subject.

    DJSpo

  70. Hi everyone,

    Just a bit of website administration.

    The website has come under increasing robot attack over the past week, and basically they’ve annoyed me.

    The interweb is a strange place that’s for sure. However, unlike a lot of websites I take security very seriously and have so far repelled all of the attacks. Unfortunately it is a waste of my time.

    So today I installed even tougher security measures and made it harder for the hackers so that they just go elsewhere and stop pestering me. There are easier sites out there for them to go play with.

    So, if anything weird happens to your logins, please shoot me an email at info@ferngladefarm.com.au and let me know, otherwise it should be business as usual! Hopefully.

    We shall sally forth and blithely ignore the pesky robots. Who likes robots anyway: Terminator, Robocop, HAL-9000, the list goes on and on and the one thing they all have in common is that they are bad news!

    Cheers

    Chris

  71. Hi Inge,

    Generators use petrol powered engines and so they make noise. That can’t be helped. However, that does not mean that you have to locate you generator next to the house where it annoys you with the exhaust note. There are these things called extension leads and heavy duty ones are readily available which can travel 100ft / 30m ormore.

    Mind you, some of the pure sine wave generators these days are actually pretty quiet and make hardly any racket at all. They really are amazing machines. I however use the more grunty farm style generators as I have a gut feeling that they will require less maintenance in the long run, but the power output from those machines does not suit all devices (unlike the pure sine wave generators).

    If you had the mad cash to splash, there are generator sets which use Lister engines and those machines are a truly beautiful piece of engineering and super reliable and easy to maintain and repair. The thoughtful Indians still manufacture the machines today, and even your son would approve of the delightful exhaust note.

    Cheers

    Chris

  72. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah well the whole thing looked like a David and Goliath battle which fed the coffers of the legal folks. The legal system is just too expensive, and I read an article the other week which suggested that the legal folks have taken a serious hit to their income due to the current state of affairs. It interests me that over the years I’ve read many articles where people lay claim to a former life in the legal profession. The high drop out rate in that profession does not reflect well upon it. There was a bit of a kerfuffle recently with graduate students allegedly forced to stay at the workplace over night whilst they apparently did work. Can’t say that I’ve ever done that trick. Anyway, my gut feeling tells me that there is a cultural problem there, and if you can’t go to the Lord of the Land and get a legal remedy, well it does not reflect well upon the system and change may be up in the air.

    What a great sci-fi story and to be candid, the production and sale of the great majority of seeds looks like a truly bizarre activity nowadays. I tend to stick to open pollinated heritage varieties even when the yields are lower. One of the great games in town now that can be played by pretty much anyone is to reproduce the lost land race varieties. It is not even a particularly difficult prospect.

    Such a strange cycle through the court system is an outcome that is not at all to my liking. It would make the inner Conan in me decry the injustice and instead challenge the limp wristed seed executives to a cage fight and see who wins that battle. I’d even given the advantage of allowing them two of those folks. Yes, three go in and only one remains – and it won’t be them!

    The photo of the roadblock turned out pretty well all things considered. Such a surreal time when police road blocks and ID checks have become a way of life. Oh well.

    But yeah you are right. What did the old timers used to say about caution being preferable to rash bravery? Maybe they didn’t say that, but it is still true all the same. Mate, that was why I went on a long journey seeking out the TB vaccination that I’d missed out on as a kid. Prevention is most certainly better than a cure, but this one is just out there now. The thing is people nowadays are shielded from the act of death. It’s been institutionalised and as such it becomes something that happens in the wonderful land of elsewhere. A lovely place to be sure. I’ve seen people die and can’t pretend that it doesn’t happen and isn’t the ultimate point of arrival in this life. It is not a case of if, it is a case of when.

    It would be very good if some of Pytheas’s writing turned up. Are you kidding me that papyrus was used as toilet paper? Funny you mention that, but plenty of common and communicable diseases have their origins in Egypt. However there is a part of me which suggests that the Egyptian’s were perhaps more dogmatic about writing such things down and so the attribution began at that point. Dunno, what do you reckon about that? And I’d be absolutely certain they had more than their fare share of pandemics. Oh yeah. History was not kind on that score for that country.

    Thanks for mentioning the Anderson Shelters. I see that there was mass civil disobedience in relation to the use of the UK tube stations as air raid shelters during WWII. Did the program mention that? The terror of the random bomb raids must have been horrific. The authorities down here are a bit funny (i.e. odd) about fire shelters and I really don’t know why that might be. The stirrup pumps require far closer attention.

    Ah, I can see how someone may become a left-libertarian. Makes sense. Molly Ivins was very quotable and I would have enjoyed her sticking it various people all proper and good like. Thanks for the introduction to the observer of the human condition!

    The Italian cultural influence looms large over the big smoke and hugging and kissing seems to be a thing. Of course it doesn’t work so well now, which suits me just fine. I was raised in the uptight Anglo tradition, where like what you posit, people can happily stay at arms length. 🙂

    Sorry to hear that. Yes, the time was the 70’s when I got to see how that story played out – at arms length, but yeah it was a tough school for the person. People are very careless with such things nowadays. Rotten luck and it was going around. I got vaccinated against that disease and needed no prompting to do so. Good herd health brings with it risks of hubris.

    Better get writing.

    Cheers

    Chris

  73. Yo, Chris – There are too many lawyers. A few years back, there were articles about that. The whole “everyone should go to university” fed into that. Common wisdom was, if you didn’t get a business degree, than you should go for a law degree. So, you have a lot of lawyers scrounging around for business, and, inventing reasons why you would need them.

    Of course, the unresponsiveness of business and government systems, didn’t help. I worked for a lawyer, once, (janitor and paper filer) who specialized in getting people their government disability. At the time, they’d reject a claim out of hand. As insurance companies do now. I wasn’t supposed to, but, I took a look at some of the cases. One was a person who had had both feet amputated. Seems like a pretty clear cut case. But, their claim was rejected, out of hand, and they had to lawyer up to squeeze benefits out of the government. Most of her cases were like that. What’s interesting is, she never lost a case. It seemed it was just a step in the process of getting disability payments.

    Seed companies have gone multi-national. You get a catalog from something that appears to be a mom and pop operation in Iowa, and it turns out to be a wholly owned subsidiary of Amalgamated Seed International. They gobble up the small players. But, a simple search (Who owns … ?) usually pulls back the curtain. You may remember my “Idaho Seed Company” debacle. Sounds homey, doesn’t it? Then I end up getting a packet from China, containing who knows what.

    “Your papers? Show me your papers.” A line from any number of B pictures, having to do with border crossings. Americans have always been highly suspicious of anything that smacks of national identity cards or numbers. That’s what Commies do! When I worked at the library, I was always amazed at how many people wandered about without any form of ID. When we issued library cards, we asked for anything (ANYTHING!) with their name and address on it. A piece of junk mail would do. Sometimes, the umbrage taken, was way out of proportion to the request.

    Well, as near as we can tell, the Egyptians didn’t invent bureaucracy, but they certainly refined it. 🙂 .

    The tube stations as shelters have played a roll in many a book and film. There was a panic and stampede, in one, that killed a number of people. And, one suffered a direct hit from a bomb. But, generally, they were pretty safe. In that series, “The 1940 House,” the family reliving a year in 1940 spend a lot of time in their Anderson shelter. And, in the interest of authenticity, the producers blow out the back of their house, at one point, to simulate bomb damage.

    Your authorities might be squirrely about fire shelters, because some lawyer is sitting in the corner, moaning about liability. See: lawyers, above.

    Bath day, for H! A trim. Ream out her ears. Quality time 🙂 . Lew

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