Kebabs and other stuff

2020 has most certainly been a rather strange and unusual year. Last year something like 11.3 million departures took place down under. Not bad at all given our population is only 25 million souls. However, now international and domestic travel has all but ceased. But then some people seem to think that it is normal to fly off to foreign destinations at warp speed, and then return again all unscathed and stuff. This seems like a rather strange belief to me, however people really have somehow accepted this state of affairs as the norm. Historically it is unprecedented and doesn’t look set to return any time soon. As of early this evening, the good city of Melbourne has now apparently had a curfew enforced from 8pm to 5am due to the health subject which dare not be named. Clearly, we as a society have been very naughty indeed and must now be punished.

A dozen or so years ago I used to work in the top end of town in a senior accounting / business role. Not only did I kid myself that I knew something about the world, but for years leading up to that, the editor and I used to occasionally head off to exotic locales. For some reason, but mostly relating to limited finances, we headed off on holidays to remote Asian countries. It was not uncommon that we were the only Western tourists in those places, and we were cool with that. We observed some amazing sights and took in the local colour. For example, the aroma and colour of the wares of Indian spice merchants is unforgettable and has stayed with me all these years.

But then something changed in the world, and suddenly exotic travel was talked about as a ‘rite of passage’ for most people. In my life experience a rite of passage was the point at which the local publican stopped asking to see your identification before they served you a beer. As a person with a youthful face and soft gooey eyes, I had to eventually sport a goatee so that the publicans stopped asking me for such identification. I mean the questioning by publicans actually became embarrassing after a while, and so I had to adapt and simply avoided the embarrassing incident by not involving the girlfriend in the drinks ordering process.

Anyway, after people began considering exotic international travel as some sort of a ‘rite of passage’, the editor and I adapted and did something completely different. We purchased a rural block of land. The rural block of land was cheap because it had been on the market for over two years and nobody else wanted it. Such an option fitted our modus operandi perfectly.

I also turned my back on big business and instead focused my efforts on small business. And now here we are today living in a rural area, but in a strange twist of fate, a curfew has been imposed in metropolitan Melbourne. The curfew looks set to continue for the next six weeks. A curfew is a truly new event for me, and whilst living outside the area, we are still affected by it.

Of late, our enjoyments have been reasonably local by sheerest necessity. A pub feed here, a gourmet pie there – we’re cool with that and just roll with life’s little inconveniences. But when we have worked during the day in the big smoke, we often stopped off in the evening for a most excellent charcoal grilled kebab, or as the Greeks know it: a souvlaki. This true food delight which has slow cooked marinated lamb, with salad all wrapped up in a pitta bread. Yum!

The guy who makes these delightful dinner items at the counter of the shop, once asked me why I tipped him outrageously. I replied that: Mate, you are doing it tough. He’s never asked me a second time, but whenever I enter the business premises I get a big cheeky grin, and I don’t even have to voice my regular order.

Long term readers would already know that one of my joys is walking through the inner city Victorian era streets of Melbourne. Add in a tasty kebab to enjoy along the walk, and you’re onto a winning streak. I mean what more could a person ask for, beautiful architecture and good food?

The Hochgurtel Fountain at the 1879-1880 Exhibition Building in Melbourne

Of late I have been enjoying strolling around the 64 acre gardens surrounding the Exhibition building. Of course with Stage Four lock downs in place and an 8pm curfew, I may be unable to continue my souvlaki enjoyment there.

It is strange how times can suddenly change. Before all of the craziness went down, the editor and I used to enjoy a coffee and small cake at a large cafe not all that far from the Exhibition building. The cakes were very good, and one of my favourites was a small bite sized chocolate mousse. Having been a customer of the business for over a decade and then some, the staff used to know me on sight and were very polite and cordial, and I never gave them hassles. That particular business has been shut for a while now.

Whenever the editor and I sat at a table outside the cafe enjoying our coffee and cake, a homeless bloke used to approach us and sell a copy of the Big Issue magazine. I like the magazine and used to pay the bloke above cover price. He always had a smile for me, and we had a brief chat about the ways of the world, and how’s he doing and all that stuff. I have no idea what has happened with either him or the magazine, but on a whim I slipped him some mad cash just before things went crazy all those months ago. Hope he’s OK.

Cafes come and go though. Years ago I used to enjoy food at an outdoor cafe which employed people who were a bit on the margins. The food was always superb as it was organic and local. However, being an outdoor cafe, both the customers and staff froze during the winter, and alternately boiled during the summer. I didn’t mind that at all, as it was part of the experience, and the food really was good. Eventually however, the cafe was relocated to a swanky new building. Some of the staff, who had worked there for years and years, moved over to the new premises, whilst others did not. I often wonder what happened to those folks who didn’t transfer across. And also whether the folks who did transfer to the swanky new building, were enjoying their new digs.

On Thursday night some blokes I’ve known for years and years whom I’ve nicknamed: ‘The Tree Dudes’, texted me and asked if I had any work for them about the farm. The Tree Dudes and I have had the occasional hiccup in our long working relationship, but nowadays we all work well together. And if they’re asking for work, I usually give them work to do. Fortunately for them there is no shortage of work to be done around here. On Friday they came around in the morning and did work.

Two days later the remnants of the Tree Dudes work

Regular readers will note that of late the editor and I have been cleaning up the forest surrounding the farm. The Tree Dudes turbo-charged that job, and we are very grateful for their help. It was in a nick of time too, because as of today I doubt they could venture up to the farm due to the Melbourne lock down.

All of the ash from the burn off gets spread around the area, and then onto the ash I add coffee grounds sourced from a cafe and coffee roasting business I know of in Melbourne. Plus soiled chicken bedding from the chicken enclosure gets chucked over the area. It’s a heady mix of soil additives. However, as of this afternoon I have no idea whether the cafe will be operating, and if that is the case I do wonder what will happen to the lovely staff who run the place.

The author throws used coffee grounds onto recently mowed and fertilised soil.

Life continues though, and at least the two new sheep dog pups can assist with the gardening around the farm. The pups (Ruby and Plum) are particularly good at digging holes and revealing the most excellent soil which lies just below the surface. Shows just how good soil can get after over a dozen years of soil additives.

A hole. A bone. A culprit

All of the rock walls around the terraced gardens at the far eastern end of the farm were completed. Of course, we ran out of large and mid-sized rocks and had to go scrounging for more. Believe me, peak rocks is real and it is a true pain. But we manage. The garden beds were then covered with a goodly quantity of woody mulch which was supplied recently by the nice electricity company.

All of the rock walls surrounding garden beds at the far end of the terraced gardens were completed. Mulch was added to the garden beds
Looking up from further down the hill, Ruby approves of the rock walls and access paths

I’m just guessing, but Spring may be early and long this year. Already a few Asparagus spears have ventured forth from the soil.

An Asparagus spear ventures forth from the soil

There are plenty of citrus on the trees:

Heaps of fruit on this Meyer Lemon
Ripe Mandarin’s make an enjoyable addition to breakfast

In some of the trees you can even see the sap rising. This usually can be seen as brightly coloured new growth on trees.

The sap can be seen rising in this Japanese Maple as bright red growth

And I noticed the other day that the tubers of Horseradish look set to produce a bumper crop. The tubers themselves looked very unappealing and had this sickly green radioactive alien slime colour.

Horseradish tubers look as though they can’t wait for the growing season to begin

Onto the flowers:

A beautiful Leek flower
The very first Rhododendron flower of the season
A creeping Rose
This succulent produces a prolific amount of flowers
But this succulent flower is massive (A decade old Olive in the Background)
The first Daffodils of the season

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 707.2mm (27.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 698.2mm (27.5 inches)

68 thoughts on “Kebabs and other stuff”

  1. Rites of passage:
    One thing that I guess I completely missed out on was the obligatory backpack through Europe before settling down to be a productive member of society. It’s amazing how many people my age or a bit younger did that. At the time, I didn’t even know it was a thing. Us farm kids were unaware of a lot of “normal behavior” (or felt we couldn’t afford it).

    I guess it’s now called a gap year. Well I’m a bit jealous, but I’ve ended up in a very good place, so overall no regrets.

    other luxuries:
    I do miss the restaurants we had access to in our big smoke (Chicago) before we moved to our place in rural Wisconsin.

    We are in the midst of full harvest mode from our garden, and the freezer and root cellar are filling up. Won’t be long till the earlier apple varieties are ready for making cider. So we are still in the busy season on our little farm.

    Which is good, it affords distraction from the outside craziness.

  2. Not to be a Debbie downer, but it’s “rite of passage.” You can correct and delete this. Move fast, and no one will be the wiser :-). Lew

  3. Yo, Chris – So, almost half the population of Australia does a runner? Why? Seems like everyone wants to immigrate to Australia. Isn’t it as nice as claimed? πŸ™‚ .

    I still remember the smell of the shops in China Town, in San Francisco. I think I was about nine. Smells can trigger memory. Just ask Proust.

    Your post this week is very moving. Poignant. What’s going to be left, when we come out the other end? What will happen to all the people?

    Good timing, Tree Dudes! I’m happy they could give you a leg up, on the forest clean up. Now you can get to that greenhouse.

    I don’t know if you remember, or even had, down there, the old board game “Clue.” Miss Ruby (or, Miss Plume), in the garden, with a bone (and a hole.) Mystery solved.

    What I like about spring is when the leaves just start to unfurl. You really can’t see them, but for a few days it’s like there’s a green mist, in the trees. I really like my horseradish, and, it could really be used as an ornamental. Those huge crinkly leaves. When they spill over the planting box, I cut some off and just throw them on other parts of the garden. They keep the weeds down, and, in this weather, dry out in just a couple of days. Then, if I go at them with a shovel, they shatter easily, and can be worked into the soil with not much problem.

    The leek flower reminds me that a crime was committed in my garden plot, today. I left nine elephant garlic flowers go. I let them start drying out, then I take them inside and discard last years flowers, and put the new ones in a vase. Someone stole two of them. Outrageous. Two of the Ladies happened to be out (including Suzanne Who Always has a Better Idea) and I told them to keep an eye out, when they visit other people’s apartments. If they see them, let me know and … and … well, there will be hell to pay.

    Roses, Rhodies and Daffodils. We won’t see Daffodils, for months, yet. Lemons, Mandarin’s and asparagus. I think you’ve been pulling our leg. You don’t have winter down there, at all.

    More developments on our Murder Wasp infestation …

    http://www.npr.org/2020/08/01/898173003/researchers-in-washington-state-have-trapped-their-first-murder-hornet

    I thought they were from China (from whence all good things come), but, they’re from Japan. And Japanese bees have figured out how to combat them. Maybe a few Japanese bees could come over and teach our bees how to fight back? Lew

  4. Hi Steve,

    It amazes me what a difference living half a world away produces, and down here we were closer to your rural experience. So, when I was a young adult, a few people travelled to Europe, but it was very rare and usually they spent time working in the UK in order to pay for further travels. There is an old joke about London not working but for all the efforts of the Australians, New Zealanders, Canadians, South Africans, Indians, Pakistani folks – you might get the drift of the joke. πŸ™‚ I can’t say for sure, but the economic recovery in the late 90’s sort of slowly kicked off that travel aspiration down under and it even earned a nickname ‘gap year’, like nature somehow owes people something for finishing High School. That one beats me, and anyway never been there myself either and can’t say as I feel that I missed much.

    The tide has turned on rural living, and the urban population is slowly coming to grips with the realities of crazy long supply lines. One of the benefits of living in the boonies is that we already knew that. And I have heard people speak of rural living with a sense of envy. I’m pretty sure they wouldn’t like the experience of living rurally otherwise they would already have moved to such a place, or be in the process of doing so.

    Ah, Chicago is just across the border. I hadn’t previously understood that. Mate, not sure that you’d want to visit there now. As a comparison I rarely travel such distances, and wouldn’t do so for food. It always amazes me how mobile your countrymen are.

    Yup, harvest time does keep a person busy and focus their minds on something other than the news. Mate, today’s news down here was very bad and to be candid with you I don’t even understand what has just happened. I asked a local policeman what it all meant and his response was a bit vague.

    Cheers

    Chris

  5. Hi Lewis,

    Oh Lewis, you missed out on the bacon. What a culinary treat Elvis’s constitution could readily handle – until it didn’t. I’m frankly not competent enough to consume such awesome combinations of food stuffs. The mind that came up with such treats is possibly responsible for much of your State Fair foods. I actually recall when Elvis died, although vaguely. It is an odd fact that he has allegedly made more mad cash dead than alive, and I can’t imagine that either of us could pull off such a neat financial trick.

    No, I likewise thought that the black and white and other ratio filming process would be a good thing with the film, but where is the narrative? And Damo has been most quiet. I might give him a poke so as to learn an ‘in defence of’ argument.

    Mate, things have gone from crazy to right way out there crazy down here. In dark moments (of which there are only ever but a brief moment or two as I’m not wired that way) I have this bizarre notion that we are in the process as a society of committing economic hara-kiri. On the other side of such moments is the thought that things could have been worse if other paths had been chosen.

    Stop teasing me with your reports of endless pleasant summer days! Hehe! Although your weather does sound nice for someone who is facing snow down to 400m (A.K.A. 1,320ft) above sea level tomorrow. Koala Bear in mind that the farm is not quite double that height above sea level, but err, yeah. Things are going to be much colder again in the southern island state of Tasmania where snow looks set to fall at something crazy like only 330ft above sea level. Sucks to be them. Mind you I kind of love such weather as it is a rarity and the inside of the house is toasty warm.

    So the general consensus is to keep on keeping on with the β€˜tease pleasant summer weather reports’. πŸ™‚ And I hope to have a camera ready to hand so as to get some snow photos – if it actually comes to pass. I noticed that the police and military folks at the checkpoint had run out of firewood earlier this evening. How did that work out for Napoleon’s retreating troops?

    Yeah, the batteries are a problem and I’ll make some inquiries tomorrow. The greenhouse, well we’ll just improvise and have already sorted out the construction details so it is all cool. It might provide a glimpse into how easily we can adapt.

    Yes, if the experience down here is any guide as to what can happen without warning, I recommend that you stock up now and keep your stocks maintained at a higher than previous level – if possible. Perhaps 43 rolls just to be safe?

    That may be the case in your country, but down here I am noticing empty shelves in stores and bizarre tales of odd shortages of stuff. Food is no drama as we’re a major food exporter, although there was that strange drought moment a year or so back when the grain export terminals were converted into grain import terminals. Folks down here who I raised the topic with didn’t seem much interested, so I dunno.

    The mobility of your countrymen has never ceased to amaze me, and nobody seems to think anything of it. Mind you, the population down here over the last two decades has begun to take up that story, but it is a very recent change – which now looks as though it is running in reverse. You’re possibly correct, but be careful there as to your general hubris as I’m not quite sure but my business which I’ve been working on for a dozen years was suddenly shut down this afternoon.

    That’s what I reckon too about the break and enter perps. However I used to know someone who recently moved overseas and who was entertaining company, but a bit of a grifter. I never engaged with them on a business footing and so never got taken and so could enjoy their company. However, they used to create mischief with other people by screwing over suppliers and then demanding high quality workmanship. It was small time stuff, but I never got involved and was always uncomfortable. So as they do, they eventually annoyed some person, and their house was broken into via the roof tiles – easy enough to do I guess. So the lesson there is treat people the way you’d like to be treated, and lock your stuff up so that there are easier targets elsewhere.

    If you can find the 50 year old recipe, mate you’re good. πŸ™‚

    The birds down here enjoy the blueberry crops and the predation was so awful last summer that I gave up on the berries. You are most lucky to have birds that look elsewhere for an easy feed. Your Master Gardeners are clearly very astute folks with the succession planting.

    Hey, it might be a good thing to have those pollies doing their jobs and worrying about your $1,200 check as distinct from blowing hot air all over the campaign trail. I’d deliberately keep them tied up in knots – although some of your pollies look as though they may have already lost the plot.

    Thanks for the spelling correction and I have updated the essay.

    Well yes, there is a cultural cringe thing in place down here which suggests that the far shores are fairer. I don’t necessarily agree with such presumption, but plenty of people seem to.

    An intriguing biscuit the Madeleine cookie / small tea cake. I refuse to wade into such deep culinary waters with the folks who argue about the differences in nomenclature.

    Thank you about the essay. It was my intention to show and not explain, and those are some of the connections I maintain (or previously did). Oh well, what do you do? Perhaps after things settle down there will be a smoking economic crater which will consume many unnecessary and overblown aspirations. Dunno, but it won’t be good.

    That is the plan with the greenhouse, and I may have to duck out tomorrow and pick up some materials.

    The board game down here was titled: “Cluedo” and I quite enjoy board games.

    Thanks for the tip about the horseradish leaves, and I consume them in salads and feed them to the chickens. They actually contain some of the zing that the roots have. I might try planting some ginger as an annual root this season – have you ever tried growing ginger?

    Has there been any developments in the ongoing matter of the missing elephant garlic flowers? You may need the investigative services of a certain Miss Fisher?

    It has been a warm and damp winter, until tomorrow: How low will it snow in southeastern Australia?

    The Japanese honey bees are very clever to have learned that trick with the murder wasps. Incidentally, the European honey bees will probably be OK in the long run as they can do a similar trick with field mice who have infiltrated their hives. The bees actually mummify the hapless mice. A nasty end to be sure.

    Cheers

    Chris

  6. Hi ya all!

    For anyone who is interested, here is how the next six weeks will play out down here: Do I need to go to work? The Victorian businesses and industries that will close under Melbourne’s stage 4 coronavirus restrictions.

    Living in a rural area I live in a Stage 3 locale (as distinct from the metropolitan Stage 4 horror story). As of yesterday there are no cases in the mountain range, but still clearly the local pub is being shut.

    Cheers

    Chris

  7. Chris,

    Ugh. It looks as if your Stage 4 is about where we were in March through the middle of May. But…we had no construction allowed during that time, which I think was a big mistake. We still can’t enter a bank, so it is drive through only. If I do need to meet with somebody in the bank, I can set an appointment.

    “Hitting a bison would be a very dangerous thing to do.” Cars get destroyed and people get killed when hitting a 50kg white tail deer female! The BIG semitrucks get destroyed when hitting a 250kg elk. I don’t even want to think about the devastation hitting a buffalo would cause!

    The big 3 is a good story and worth sticking to. We had a carving session in the park again on Saturday. 14 showed up, spaced over a large area again, making it appear that we were in several groups of 5 or less, sort of. And the Japanese Kendo group was across the park practicing.

    Noblesse Oblige? I never looked at it that way, but I suppose supporting the local businesses is a form of that. Good one, now you’ve made me think.

    I can’t imagine London having our hot temperatures. That’s gotta be brutal. The 28C that southern Scotland sounds downright pleasant. Although we have cooled down some, 30C to 36C, with temperatures getting lower later in the week.

    Hehehe, yes, most college professors don’t want original thinking in their classes. I taught introductory college physics for 2 terms, and substitute taught other college physics courses regularly for 2 or 3 years. I tried to get original thinking out of the students, but most couldn’t be bothered. “Will this be on the test?” Sigh.

    How to teach grammar? Ohhh, nasty question. In the USA, the “proper grammar” is basically what the Puritans and Quakers spoke in the northeast part of this country. Meanwhile, there was the mass influx of Scots-Irish from Ulster, most of whom originated within circa 80km of the English/Scottish border. The grammar native to this area was different! Why? The leadership in the Puritan areas originated mostly in the southern English midlands and farther south, many from Kent and the greater London area. That grammar originated more from Old Saxon with a large French influence. The language from the Borders had more of an origin from the Angles, with an overlay from the Vikings. So, in Borders language, which is the foundation of Appalachia, “I don’t got none” is proper grammar. So how to teach grammar? Which grammar?

    Meanwhile, I learned grammar from the theoreticians and then learned how to apply it in writing speeches and essays and reports and term papers, etc. You learned by writing and polished it with some theory when you needed to revise your writing technique. It’s sort of the difference between a theoretical physicist versus an experimental physicist. Different emphasis, but both get the job done.

    Your rite of passage discussion is interesting. The overseas travel is something I never did. In high school I had a pen pal from Wales. If we hadn’t lost touch with one another, perhaps, maybe, I would’ve visited her in Wales as an excuse to visit Britain. But likely not. A coworker was chatting with my boss once during the 2009 economic turmoil. Coworker was extremely upset, as her program was being shuttered, she would be out of a job, and, worst, as a result, she and her husband couldn’t afford to send their youngest to Europe for the summer (after high school graduation). All the other offspring had gone, and it was their right to send the youngest there too! Ummm sure…Even my boss, who was a friend of hers, wasn’t sympathetic!

    Tipping? I tells ya, unless the service is totally horrid, I tip more than the Princess prefers. But people remember you, it eases over a lot of things, starts conversations, etc. Our favorite restaurant at one time, which closed several years ago, had a wonderful waitress. We tipped heavily, and she would look at us when we arrived for our weekly lunch date and knew exactly what both the Princess and I wanted for lunch that day. The relationship had been built by respectful interaction and the acknowledgement of the hard work by proper tipping.

    Gotta go…

    DJSpo

  8. Hi Chris,
    So I gather you won’t be able to see clients during the lockdown – is that so? A majority of small businesses as well as many not for profits won’t survive another lock down here. A friend of ours is the Exec. Dir. of a fairly large non-profit in the area. He said that very thing. They raise much of their money through their excellent thrift shops which had to be closed before and from all reports will probably be again. We did our first inside dining last week with some friends. Tables were well spaced and the food was good. Part of the establishment was a bar though. It was well separated from the restaurant but you could still see the place was pretty crowded with people sitting shoulder to shoulder.

    We also had my daughter, the twins and my sister over for a July birthday celebration. Both my daughter, granddaughter and Doug have July birthdays.

    Yesterday I was a volunteer inspector at a friend’s organic farm. They need to have people do this annually to keep their certification as Certified Naturally Grown. There is a lot less paperwork and record keeping and they said once the USDA took over organic certification they felt that the standards had dropped. They used to do many markets, off farm sales and a CSA but have slowly dropped markets over the last few years as they’re getting up there and now just sell off the farm with much of their business pick-your-own. The farm was very busy yesterday. Here’s a fairly recent article about the farm.

    https://chronicleillinois.com/news/local-news/richmond-farm-hosts-organic-food-stand-ethnic-arts/

    We’ve been having quite nice weather and will for the rest of the week but no rain to speak of so it’s quite dry. In fact it’s so cool today we need long sleeves.

    Hang in there during lock down. At least you’re not in a city.

    Margaret

    That is a fine hole one of the pups dug.

  9. @ DJ – You might enjoy (if you haven’t read it already) Bill Bryson’s “The Mother Tongue: English and How it Got That Way.” Your library may have a copy. Add it to your winter reading list. πŸ™‚ .

    When I write Chris, I’m linking to an article that was in your newspaper. That our little newspaper, “The Comical” republished. About the disappearance of insets. Lew

  10. Yo, Chris – American’s can get pretty inventive in the kitchen. Particularly, if they have access to a deep fat fryer. πŸ™‚

    Maybe it’s the lighthouse, thing. Quit a few people are freaky for lighthouses. I think it’s the escape to solitude, fantasy, and, getting paid for it. Ditto, fire lookout stations. Go to any op-shop, at least here, and there’s all kinds of lighthouse tat. Little ceramic figures. Pictures and books, galore. Just today, I saw a Roman tile, that had a lighthouse scratched in it, from Britain. They figure it’s one of the two that the Romans build at Dover. What was that film? “Light Between the Oceans?” Now that was a good lighthouse tale. Someone needs to do a film bio of Grace Darling.

    Yup. Sounds like it’s pretty crazy down there. I looked at the list of open and closed businesses. Actually, a lot of activity continues, but, mostly big companies and the little retailers catch it in the shorts. I don’t know if they’re going to lock us down again, or not. We had 11 new cases, over the weekend. The majority, under 20 years old. Something very different from last month.

    Another idyllic summer’s day. There. Happy? :-). Sounds like your going to have a couple of three dog nights. And, you’ve got the three dogs, on tap. You’re set! LOL. Make sure if you take pictures of “snow”, that we can see it. Napoleon’s retreating troops. Seems that not a year goes by than some archaeologist in easter Europe comes upon a mass grave. Plague victims? Nope. Due to the buttons, they can tell they were Napoleon’s troops.

    I buy such a narrow range of stuff, that I really don’t notice many gaps at the grocery store. From what people say, things are pretty normal, as far as supply goes. Right now, there are several recalls of food, due to salmonella. Red onions, eggs. Something about a big ground meat recall. I’ve noticed a few odd gaps, in the canned stuff we get in the Magic Food Boxes. For the past couple of months, garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes have disappeared. Last night, someone left 5 boxes of food, down in our lobby. Someone(s) must have been cleaning out their pantry. Knowing that if our building manager showed up, everything would be swept away, Eleanor got some stuff, and so did I. I also put together a box and hauled it down to the Club, this morning. I heard Suzanne spirited the rest of it away, to one of the missions.

    Yup, we are a mobile bunch. But not all of us. Suzanne laughs at me when I moan about having to go “all the way to Centralia.” When I went to the Club, this morning, I could not believe the amount of traffic, on the road. It’s around the first of the month, so, a lot of people get checks of one sort or another.

    Your grifter acquaintance reminds me of a certain well known current Head of State. Apparently, in business his philosophy is, never pay your bills until someone sues.

    I don’t know why the birds leave the blueberries, alone. Maybe it’s the amount of traffic around, in and out of the parking lot. The pile of cats across the street? Generally, there are not many birds around, this year. There was a jay that sampled the strawberries … but not enough to be even noticeable. Which brings me to … an article that was in our newspaper. It was reprinted from DJ’s local newspaper.

    http://www.chronline.com/northwest_regional_news/the-bottom-has-just-dropped-out-as-insect-populations-plummet-scientists-wonder-why/article_202cf75e-d4e7-11ea-bd22-a37e762a39c0.html

    Cultural cringe, or “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence?” Some people “pull a geographic” as, they think all their problems have to do with location. They never quit catch onto the possibility that it might be them.

    Cookie or tea cake, who cares? They taste good! Wonder if you can deep fry them? πŸ™‚ . I have a book that has over 40 Madeleine recipes. How many have I tried? -0-.

    Yes, it’s odd. People you see all the time, but don’t know well, and then they disappear. And suddenly, you happen to wonder where they went?

    Yup. I’ve used horseradish leaves, in salad, a number of times. A nice subtle zing. Tried growing ginger? Getting there.

    I was going to link to a Roman tombstone, of a performing pig who was killed in a traffic accident. Oh, well, maybe tomorrow. Lew

  11. @ Lew,

    I was going to do another post shortly that talks about this year’s gardening challenges, including, yes, less insects. I was able to catch that article you mentioned online.

    Chris,

    The potatoes were all demanding to get harvested, so that happened on Sunday. Didn’t plant very many, but the harvest was very good for the limited planting. Decent size and quite a few per bush.

    The Scottish carrots started well, but started dying. It may be due to the particular containers they’re in – apparently not friendly to carrots. We’ve had a few and they’re good.

    We got a total of 5 pea pods from a zillion seeds, 75% of which never sprouted. Ditto beans, although they appear to be doing a tad better than the peas. 2 tomato seeds sprouted, one of the plants not surviving. 3 tomatoes have gotten pollinated, many blooms still present. The squash, both summer and acorn, are growing prolifically and had a very satisfactory percentage sprout from seed. Lots of flowers. 1 yellow crookneck squash that is still green is all that has gotten pollinated. The onion sets that I planted didn’t make it. The 2nd carrot planting, well, low germination rate. These few are growing well, however.

    The raspberries did better than expected. There is a fair amount of new growth, too, and they are spreading, so next year looks promising. The cherry tree and the chokecherry tree both had a lot of fruit, so the fruit trees and fruit shrubs got pollinated, the veggies not so much.

    The fruit flies zapped all the cherries, so I left them for the birds. Robins ate some, but the starlings moved in and ate the rest. The starlings also ate all of a potential bumper crop of chokecherries at least 3 weeks before they were ripe: in fact, they were all still 100% green in color. The red twigged dogwoods have white berries that birds usually eat in February and March. The starlings have already eaten all of those.

    So, problems…I don’t know why so many seeds never sprouted. Other problems haven’t been the heat (only 1 week of it), but rather that (starting in March) if it wasn’t raining, the wind was blowing. Couldn’t keep up with water for everything. Never used to be windy for most of April through October or November, but that changed a few years ago. Need to think this one through for better watering.

    The bigger problem is that the insect population is down. I haven’t seen the neighborhood bats this year. The grasshopper population has always been cyclical, so following 3 consecutive years of peak grasshopper, their absence this year isn’t unexpected. But this cuts into the wasp/hornet population – less baby grasshoppers means less food. And the hornets/wasps had helped with pollination the past 2 years. There are fewer tiny tiny insects, too. One species of insect eaters, nighthawks, moved on earlier this year. Very few dragonflies – which, yes, I’ve seen them catch flying bugs. One dragonfly landed on a window screen and spent the night there. What a HUGE mouth for the size of its head!

    The sages have been in full bloom for weeks. They’re usually so covered with honey bees and bumblebees that it is hard to see the flowers. Not this year. The bees appear to have 25% of last year’s population. So, with 75% less bees and I’d guess 85% less wasps/hornets, the number of pollinators for the vegetables is way down.

    Moving forward, I may consolidate what I grow. Get more raspberry plants, grow carrots, potatoes and some squashes. This year was brutal for the leafy vegetables such as collards.

    DJSpo

  12. Hi Margaret,

    Well as to whether small business is continuing to operate is a bit of a mixed bag question. You may disagree with me, but small business has been asked to take a 6 week hit for the team, and they have been threatened with a massive stick which has gotten bigger today, yet so far I’m not seeing any carrots for compliance. Most people in small business are fighters, and they’ll keep going and trying stuff. They’re my people. For some reason, probably relating to the story that in the big smoke they have the largest container terminal in the country, we suddenly found ourselves in what looks like the tightest restrictions of anywhere on the planet. Something clearly has broken somewhere, but what it is, we may never know.

    Ah, there is a difference there to your dining experience last week as even before this current shut down, bar service was not allowed. To go to a pub – even sitting in the public bar – meant table only service, and the environment was very controlled. Getting drunk at a bar and sitting shoulder to shoulder with other patrons compressed into a small space has not been seen for many months. As someone who is concerned for the wellbeing of others I spoke with the bloke at the local pub today and assured him that we would support their business whilst it operates in a take away only mode. If local businesses are not supported by locals they will most certainly disappear. It is a worry.

    Oh Margaret, I know of grandmothers who are now unable to assist their children with the raising of the grandchildren and that is one tough and brutal story which seems somehow not right to me.

    I had to look up what exactly was the USDA. OK, well certification was previously very expensive and onerous from what I have heard speaking with folks who had achieved certification down here. I’m a bit torn because standards have to be maintained, but then there is middle ground and I’m wondering about DJ’s and Lewis’s discussion of the loss of insects and I see that playing out in Melbourne gardens too (not that anyone down there notices), and I wonder if perhaps a near enough is good enough option might be the way to go? Please bear with me, I don’t spray anything with either herbicides or insecticides, but the organic matter brought onto the farm is hardly what is known as an ‘organic input’, but even so the wildlife flourishes. Now I wouldn’t pass certification because of those inputs, but if a casual observation can assert that it’s all fluffy good, then is that a bad thing? And therein lay the crux of the dilemma.

    Incidentally respect to the folks and they are maintaining about eight times what we’re doing, but yeah growing space does get extended over the years – as you probably know. πŸ˜‰

    The local general store was shut for dine in table service today and I was saddened by that. The Grapes of Wrath was ready to hand but to no avail. At least the take out coffee was good and only locals and workers seemed to be frequenting the establishment. Six weeks and counting….

    Woof, woof and cordial tail wags to you and yours! So say Plum and Ruby! πŸ™‚

    Cheers

    Chris

  13. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Yeah, like when I go to agricultural shows I see slow cooked lamb rotated over a charcoal spit and all of the fat drips off the lamb and falls into the fire and just stokes it along. Now of course agricultural shows are held in rural areas during the summer months and so the weather is hot as, and the poor folks having to attend to the spit lamb roast are likewise sweating as much as the meat on the rotisserie, but even so hygiene standards are maintained and the food outcomes are good. But here is the thing, you rarely see deep fryers employed in producing such food stuffs. Most likely it is just way too hot! But it may also be an expression of the available energy in your part of the world as deep fryers take a bit of juice to get going and then keep them going.

    When I was a kid, my mum used to keep a mug of dripping in the refrigerator. The solid and congealed dripping was clearly derived from animal fats, but anything cooked in that heady grease was superb tasting and the fat was recovered. Mostly back in the day we enjoyed grilled lamb and the griller had a tray which collected the drippings which quickly solidified at room temperature and were stored for later use.

    And when as kids we ate the lamb chop and boiled veg at dinner, we ate everything from the tail on the chop to the marrow and then chewed upon the bone until all that there was left was bone. Of course the cats got the bones and they seemed OK with that, and it must have done them some good as they had pointy sharp teeth.

    Light between the oceans was a 2016 film. Jack Thompson and Bryan Brown are some of our finest older guard actors. And the 1980 film Breaker Morant taught me the subtler meaning of the word ‘nuanced’ in relation to guilty folks.

    Yup, it is pretty crazy down here I’ll give ya that. The local general store has now moved in to take away only mode, as has the local pub. But at least in this rural area the local pub can actually open on that basis. I spoke with the manager of the pub earlier today and assured him we would continue supporting the establishment, even on that basis. Mind you, earlier today the outside temperature was -1’C / 30’F and it was brutal cold with the wind blowing. This afternoon snow flurries fell over the farm but nothing settled. I’m pretty sure that right now outside the air temperature is freezing, but the authorities might not yet realise the definition of the word: indefatigable. I’ve known difficulties and shook them off. Yup small business has been asked to take a hit for the team, but larger businesses have not been so deeply asked.

    Took a very good photo of the snow flurries late this afternoon, although nothing has settled on the ground today. Still you never know what may occur overnight and/or what tomorrow will bring. I’m personally enjoying stories of your glorious summer weather.

    Napoleon was an excellent example of the gentle art of hubris and loss of capability and his eventual demise was sealed from that point onwards. One can hardly be an Emperor without a kick-ass military backing up that claim, can they? πŸ˜‰

    That is my experience too, although it is an alarming prospect to discover that my regular go-to items have somehow occasionally ventured into the ‘in-short-supply’ territory. It has taken me about a decade to work my way into the basics, but when the general population takes a scatter gun approach to helping themselves to whatever is on the shelves, well that reveals further troubles for me. What can you do but adapt? For your interest the shelves are mostly full, but strange shortages like cheese (imported rennet) show up from time to time, but I have long since purchased cheese which uses vegetable rennet, and that makes it more expensive and less appealing. Rationing by price is always an option – that’s for sure. I have a vision that the future may entail shelves full of produce but nobody has the money to pay for the stuff.

    It is good to see that nothing went to waste in your surprise food box situation. I’m working on ways to continue picking up the used coffee grounds during lock up so we are in different, but much the same boat in that regard. πŸ™‚

    Mate, things are different down here as traffic has become much lighter and now looks like what it was a decade ago. It is pretty quiet up here and also on the freeway into the big smoke. The trains look empty to my eyes.

    Really? Well that business attitude can sometimes get folks into trouble, and the construction industry is full of rough nuts. I actually recall the days when the bikie gangs used to work in debt collection. Oh yeah, don’t mess with them in those days.

    Thanks for the link about the disappearing insects and mate, I’ve been banging on that drum for years and nobody seems to have the slightest interest in the problem. In the big smoke of Melbourne it is a rare thing to encounter an insect – and so clearly something is wrong. The reason we keep bees and grow a huge variety of flowers is because of this craziness. And the bees were flying around last weekend.

    Oh yeah, I’ll bet you encounter a few folks pulling a geographic in your Club? I’ve encountered a few and from time to time I’ll advise them that darkness of the soul is not alleviated by taking the soul to another location. Mind you that advice is rarely believed.

    I hear you about that, and if I cooked a tray of Madeleine biscuits I’d probably eat all of them at once and then feel quite ill.

    Well that is the thing, I have few friends, but lots and lots of acquaintances and it is hard for me to know when to take such a relationship and then make a friendship. I honestly don’t know the answer to that and just sort of muddle along. People are hurting right now though, and I recall a recap from the guborment of the early 90’s and in a moment of admission the prime muppet of the time remarked that they’d taken things too far.

    Ginger is worth the time and some of the readers here have mastered that tuber as an annual crop. I’m going to make a move on ginger tomorrow. Yup.

    Yes, I’ll look forward to the Roman story! πŸ™‚

    Cheers

    Chris

  14. Hi DJ,

    Yeah thanks and it is very bonkers. For your information I have never encountered a drive through bank! The idea itself boggles my mind and I can’t but humourlessly remark that: Do you want fries with that? I’ll bet someone has asked… Imagine asking for fries from the police and military checkpoints on the roads down here! That might get a response. I’ll bet they’re cold over there at the checkpoint tonight as it snowed up here earlier today.

    Yup, hitting a 7 foot kangaroo is no laughing matter either and I have seen the aftermath of such encounters and so I drive very slowly through the forested roads at night. If anyone wants to go faster, I just pull over and let them go by. One of the oddest car accidents I’ve seen is a tall truck going under a bridge that was too low. The top of the truck looked as though it had been attacked by the worlds biggest can opener. Hope they were insured…

    Glad to make you think. The local general store is now take away only as is the pub. I chatted with the manager of the pub earlier today just to let him know that we’ll continue to support the business in whatever guise, and that is all that we can do. I did have some bad news today though with a business I’d been dealing with as a customer, but we’ll see what happens.

    Softies. 38’C and I’m thinking that isn’t too bad at all. They should try 45’C with a hot and dry wind blowing… The Great Fire of London did achieve some good things and my house has bizarrely benefited from some of them. Although between you and I, I’m not risking my skin during the testing phase… Plenty of people do with lesser structures up here and in your part of the world with bushfires and it doesn’t often work out well.

    Little wonder progress has long since stopped progressing if college professors fear original thinking. University for me was a disappointment on that front, but you know move on and nothing to see there. And both the editor and I have individually topped subjects by telling them what they wanted to hear. Is this a good thing or are we very clever parrots? Dunno. Teaching to the test is a dead end.

    Sorry, I do ask the hard questions and since being alerted to other languages and music (and you could probably even chuck in mathematics), well let’s just say that I differ in the way that these subjects are taught. I ran a graduate program once long ago for a big corporate and because I had no supervision or any guidance whatsoever, I just took a free wheeling approach to learning and taught the graduates on the job – and then let them make mistakes when they thought they knew best. In school making a mistake is not a learning experience, it is an error, and as such the kids don’t learn how to learn and how to grow. But then if a person lives in a world that demands homogeneous robots, then teaching to the test is a great idea. The world however needs more than just robots parroting away and robots don’t know what to do when things go wrong. Your opposition politicians are good at parroting as they clearly believe that that is the end point, when it is only a beginning – and they are not fit to rule on that basis alone. If you need parrots though, our systems churn them out aplenty.

    That’s funny as I’d never heard of the expression: β€œI don’t got none”, but can also see how that expression may have come about. I sometimes amusingly quip (for me anyway as I like playing around with words and acting like a canny yokel, but as I wrote, for some reason only I find it to be amusing) to the dogs: “I’m gonna dob the editor on you.” And the poor dogs look at me with this sad expression which expresses their disdain for my grammatical incorrectness. However, it stops the dogs doing the naughty business that they were up to whilst they have to ponder the finer points of the usage of the English language. As Fluffies they are only able to do one activity at a time. Hehe!

    Exactly, there is a place for both the theoretician and the experimenter! There is room enough for both to co-exist and come at the problem from different angles.

    Mate, I only did overseas travel when I was able to afford to do so, and my point in the essay was that to do so it took both the editor and I working professionally full time and me pulling in a very senior salary. Something changed and somehow things became different and people from all walks of life thought that the activity was a common place aspiration. Not so. And so I ran to the hills. I am not sympathetic at all for their plight. For the damage to the person’s dreams, yes I am sympathetic for that loss, but sooner or later a reconciliation needs to take place to wipe the dreams from the table.

    Well, the ladies are often more canny than us gentlemen. As a comparison, tipping was not part of the culture down here as the basic wage was pretty good and enough for people to get by on, but I began tipping many years ago after a threshold point was reached and the inequity increased markedly. I see businesses and can guess at how they are doing and it reads to me like a story. My occupation is not a fun one.

    Thank you very much for sharing the story of your garden. It ain’t just you noticing the loss of insects and I mentioned that story to Lewis. It is an appalling loss for the folks in the big smoke, and they really don’t even notice the loss – which is something that I find to be bizarre. The property here jumps with life during the growing season.

    Your experiences read like a mixed bag of outcomes, and that is how things roll here too. It really is hard to know in advance which crops are going to do well. For the past few years I have wondered how some areas in the country get very consistent crops, but then with more experience under my belt I can see that even the larger producers have to deal with great uncertainties. The best approach in such an environment is to plant as great a diversity of plants as possible – and you are right onto that path for sure.

    Just to tease me for a bit, what did you do with the glut of raspberries?

    Ouch, fruit fly is a pain but then the birds would be onto your cherries anyway. Hey, fruit fly is moving south but I reckon the winters here are a bit too cold, although they might adapt given they are in your part of the world.

    Out of curiosity how do you provide water to your garden? Last year I installed a water robot with dripper hoses and honestly it was a life saver. The wind is a killer though. Have you ever thought of small wind break crops such as: Chilean guavas and/or gooseberries / jostaberries, on the edges of your gardens? Those plants are super tough to extreme heat and dry and they’ll break the wind.

    Well, we learn as we go with this stuff and that is how it rolls. What else can you do? I’ve read heaps of books on the subjects, but nothing prepares you like engagement with the garden enemies!

    Cheers

    Chris

  15. Hello Chris
    Notayesman wrote on Australia today.
    I had one of those nights when one simply doesn’t sleep and am oh so tired today.

    Inge

  16. Yo, Chris – Today’s headline! Pig killed in traffic accident! (Maybe).

    http://www.the-tls.co.uk/articles/the-pigs-epitaph/

    Every American should have a deep fat fryer! It’s an inalienable right! I think it’s in our Constitution. Maybe, the Bill of Rights? Shhh! I don’t have one. Maybe I should pick one up at the op-shop, just in case the Inalienable Rights Police show up, just looking for a reason to pull my citizenship? I’ll have to smear a bit of grease on the inside (and maybe on a wall or two), just to make it look like I use the thing.

    -1C? Shirt sleeves weather. Break out the thongs and shorts. πŸ™‚ .

    Well, an interesting article about “you know what” popped up in the Atlantic Magazine. A bit long, but pretty interesting. How we got to where we are now. America-centric, but worth a read. There’s a bit about supply lines. Who knew those nasal testing swabs, pretty much all come from Lombardy, Italy? One of the earliest and hardest hit, areas. The weakness of having a for-profit health care system. Poor leadership. Lack of even basic preparedness. He’s a good author, and I’ve read his articles, before.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/09/coronavirus-american-failure/614191/

    There’s also an article by Rick Steves, about something we were talking about the other day. World travel. Steves spends about 4 months a year in Europe. His whole life he’s been a globe trotting travel writer. Articles, books. I’ve caught his program on NPR, a few times. Good solid information told in an interesting way. I didn’t know his home base was Seattle. No travel for him, this year. But, he’d never sat down and really thought much about the why of his traveling.

    http://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/08/how-we-travel-when-we-cant/614800/

    I also heard a bit of an article about a new TB vaccine. The TB virus turns itself on and off. They think they’ve found the “off” switch. But, I’ve linked to enough articles, today. Heck, this week! :-). Well, if your snowed in, it will give you something to do.

    I checked around our parking lot lights, last night. Nope. No bugs. Also, I realized we’ve had very little problem with mosquitoes, this year. A few early on, but hardly any, now. And Eleanor and I have been sitting out, every night. Maybe all those dragonflies?

    I’ve been hearing a very loud bird, in the neighborhood. A call I had not heard, before. Day and night. I thought it sounded like a parrot, and thought we might have an escapee. Well, according to Susan, it’s coming from down the street, and, after a bit of internet research, she thinks it’s a Military macaw. And that some people have it near an open window. Those puppies (mixed metaphor?) are about $2,500 a pop.

    I saw an article in our newspaper, that an exotic animal store, which has been around for about three years (who knew?), has moved to bigger digs. Business, apparently, is booming. Is this wise? In related news, they had a boa constrictor round up, in Florida, and caught over 500.

    My bank (credit union) has a drive up window, and, another lane for the ATM (Automated Teller Machine). Usually, the line is long for the window, and there’s no traffic in the ATM lane. Though I seem to have a talent for showing up, right when the Brinks Armored car is there, loading up the money. Weird synchronicity or something naughty I’ve done in a previous life? I mean, I maybe use the ATM three times a month. And, at various times. How do I manage that? Lew

  17. Hi, Chris!

    I see that they have discovered a vaccine for gooey eyes.

    What is the excuse for the curfew? What will it prevent? Has Melbourne had protests/riots like some of the larger U.S. cities?

    My sister-in-law is about to leave for her 3rd vacation since the pandemic started. usually she travels overseas in the summer, but she is staying stateside this season. Ook – going into town is enough of an adventure for me.

    What a beautiful fountain that is. Thanks for the restful photo.

    It’s funny that you mentioned the homeless man you know. For the past couple of years there has been a crippled homeless man on a street corner that I always pass by on my Monday shopping trip into town. I have always stopped to chat with him and slip him a bit of cash. He’s one of the sweetest people I know. He has been on that corner rain or shine during the current unpleasantness. It suddenly occurred to me that he could disappear at any time. I have been saving up some larger mad cash for him – as you did – and I had already planned to slip it to him next Monday. I hope I am not too late.

    What a humorous photo of what’s left of the Tree Dudes – I mean, the Tree Dudes’ work.

    That’s some hole! New doggie talents are revealed every day! The girls are beginning to look less puppy-like.

    I can hardly stand seeing all that beautiful citrus – it’s so far away from me! I buy some every week. My son has a couple of potted lemon trees to try planting out here. I can’t remember their varieties; I think one was a Meyer.

    I am going to buy a Japanese maple as soon as the weather cools down a bit, as it has to be shipped to me. The nursery is only a couple of hours away, but that is a long daytrip for me. I haven’t decided on a variety yet.

    Horseradish has popped up where I thought I had dug it all up last year; I am glad. I have never figured out when it is best to harvest it, though. Your thoughts?

    What is that succulent? I love the flowers.

    Pam

  18. Hi Lewis,

    Good stuff with the hapless road-kill pig. But as the Good Professor avers, was the pig a man, or an otherwise comical representation of a person? We may never know. What was your take on the story?

    Let’s not say that out too loud about the deep fryer, as this is a public forum after all, and our missives are of the highest pedigree and of vast concern to, well you know whom. πŸ˜‰ Hey, Social Justice Warriors are probably already lining up at the gates to your institution demanding, whatever it is that they demand (I honestly don’t know but my gut feeling suggests they’re good at destroying things), but it may possibly be fried chips. As a suggestion call the deep fried potatoes by their proper name: ‘chips’, and then feed the SJW’s up big time. They’ll all end up in a food coma, and then you and your fellow residents will know what to do. Think harvesting baby harp seals… Problem thus goes away! πŸ™‚

    The inalienable rights police might be a tougher bunch of nuts to crack. Hmm. Your grease suggestion sounds eminently sensible to me. Perhaps the residents of your fine establishment can share around the deep fryers that they do have ready to hand and then the angry hordes can be satisfied that no potatoes were harmed in the cooking processes.

    My mum re-married when I was a late teenager and the bloke she married loved his deep fryer which used lard. Now, the chips produced in that fryer were actually pretty tasty, but word on the street is that he has now departed the land of the living.

    Years and years ago I heard an amusing account of a lady who worked as a nutritionist and food scientist, and she told a funny tale about her granddad who was a logger. Apparently so the story went was that her grandma used to send granddad off to work each day with a chunk of roast lamb. Eventually his arteries clogged, and the cheeky nutritionist suggested that grandma should have been put on murder charges…

    Well our friends in the UK may quail at the thought of a warm-ish summers day, but mate I tell ya -1’C / 30’F and I’m left worrying about sleet and being snowed in. So yes, the foot is on the other shoe – or I may have gotten that back to front? Anyway, I had the wood fire roaring along yesterday and the house was toasty warm, but it was most certainly not an outside work day and all dogs longed to spend time inside.

    Fortunately for us it is a quiet evening and yes link away with abandon! πŸ™‚

    OK. The Atlantic article was very good. However, I am very uncomfortable that the author does his best to lay the blame for every dysfunction in your country’s living arrangements and response at the feet of the current administration. For just one example he talks of over scaled prison populations, and I ask myself whether this is a new thing? The answer is not good. And instead of using the words: Your government, the author inserts the word: “Trump”, as if that word takes on a larger than life meaning. As an outsider to your country, I couldn’t give a toss as to who is in power in your country. It is an entirely meaningless concern to me, although I acknowledge that in your country it has taken a much larger role in the public imagination than it otherwise should. The article embarrasses me, because I see the fleeting loss and it could otherwise do some serious good, but the intentions of the author (or perhaps who ever undertook the final edit of the article) decided that it would be otherwise. My gut feeling tells me that the author (or editor) is comfortable with the status quo. In order to seek to correct the national affliction, sooner or later and I’m really sorry to say this because I hold your fellow countrymen in high esteem, you might need an old school lancing of a particularly nasty boil. Marketing Rule 101 should be: Don’t feed the monster. Why that isn’t obvious from my cursory delve into your media, is also very suggestive.

    Please don’t take my critique the wrong way and please go easy on me, I am merely trying to give you an outsiders perspective on your national past time. A very good friend of mine once made a casual but rather brutal observation about another person, and it was the observation that they were: ‘lost in the details’. Every time I read such strong emotional rhetoric from your country it makes me very uncomfortable, and I can’t but shake my good friends words from my awareness.

    Now Rick Steve’s article was much more to my liking. He’s the man, and did I spot that back in the day that he was a ginger? Blessed are the gingers. πŸ˜‰ Anyway, for when the big things are gone, all that remains are the little things – and if we’d but stop and take the time, we’d realise that they provide enjoyment to be found therein. Enjoying Paella for dinner tonight at the appropriate time of 9.30pm. All very European. πŸ˜‰

    Nah, the snow was a bit of a no-show here, flurries fell for hours but the ground was too warm for the snow to build. It looked good though. Other parts of this state and Tasmania put on a much better show: Rare blanketing for Launceston with more wild weather on the way. The semi-regular commenter Jo (who is also an excellent short essayist) lives in Launceston. I await to learn her experience.

    I chased that TB vaccine for 2 years and had it in my grasp, only to be told that it would be a waste of everyone’s time because I was too old. And during the middle of a pandemic, the infectious diseases specialist at the hospital wasn’t wearing any PPE. We just maintained adequate distancing. What does that say? I have a sneaking suspicion that TB and measles will be a problem in the future. Measles is very infectious.

    Funnily enough as a contrast, mosquitoes have been more of a problem since autumn. Pesky little varmints but the bats seem to enjoy them so I shouldn’t grumble. And I’m sure the frogs would eat more than their fair share. It’s a tree-frogs life. The hot and dry two months of last summer upset the mosquitoes breeding patterns. Before the brief and intense summer hit I suspect that the weather was too cold for their breeding cycle. Yup, climate is weird and getting weirder. We’re serious about constructing a greenhouse for seedling raising and now have all but one type of seeds ready to hand.

    I’ll bet a Military macaw can kick up a right sook and sulk if conditions are sub fluffy optimal? I’ve heard of people paying that much for dogs – it all seems a bit odd to me.

    All we have at the bank is an ATM attached to the outside wall where you have to walk to, or you could go inside the bank branch. The stage 4 lock down begins at midnight tonight. A few months back during the last lock down a lady inside the bank was urging me not to enter the bank premises and conduct my business but instead use the ATM, even though no other customers were inside. I put my foot down about that. Bank staff are already well protected from customers by thick shields – what more do they want?

    Hehe! Well done, they may have footage of you attending the bank at the same time. Not that they’d look at it. I used to work for a business that had a high volume of small cash transactions and cash on that scale is a nightmare to handle and those armoured guard vehicles turn up out of the blue – something about patterns and all being a problem.

    Cheers

    Chris

  19. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for alerting me to the most excellent economics blog. And candidly I could not find any reason to disagree with the analysis. I disagree with the course that we have taken down here with the economy.

    It is funny that you too are having disturbed sleep, but down here with Stage 4 lock downs and curfews in place as of two hours (midnight) I encountered many, many people today who were feeling fatigued from the constant barrage. I did my best to entertain whilst working hard. What else can a person do I ask you?

    In the book: The Grapes of Wrath, I read a line which was attributed to the grandfather (who was a bit of a wild character, but died on the trip out west) that (and here I paraphrase from memory but it captures the gist of the sentiment): Any man can lose his mind. It takes a man to keep things together during a crisis. Of course the book implied that the sentiment applied equally to the fairer gender. Although candidly I’m not sure how many folks these days follow stoic philosophy? When I was a kid that was the prevailing sentiment, but things changed, some for the better, some for the worst.

    How are you going with all of the onslaught of tourists?

    Cheers

    Chris

  20. Hi Pam,

    No way? Wow, well ya learn something new every day. Large eyes are also good at catching dust in wind storms. Clearly this is an evolutionary disadvantage! πŸ™‚ Ollie sends greetings and thanks you for noticing his big eyes, and ignoring his ginger freckle gangle chunks. Hehe!

    No, not at all. There are isolated incidents of anger down here – that’s for sure. But protests, nope. None. People down here are genuinely fearful and masks can be seen everywhere. In fact it is unusual to see a person not wearing a mask and that is only when they are eating or exercising. Although in private things may be very different. We’re a slow to anger bunch down here. The curfew operates between 8pm and 5am. I have never seen such a goings-on in my life. May write about that, but certainly not from the angle anyone expects!

    Really? Well, scaling back from regular international travel usually means that travel will become more regional by default. Anyway, that’s my guess. Down here, Melbournian’s will have a hard time leaving the city and state borders are slamming shut. Just ask Damo about that story. We may be one step further down the ladder than your countrymen.

    Pam, if you were honest, you’d admit that you like it out in the boonies. I certainly do. πŸ™‚ And the appeal of such a life has gone up by several notches down under. I have even heard envy and wist in people’s voices.

    The late Victorian era folks were seriously cashed up due to very long and sustained gold rushes – and they produced some of my favourite buildings. Glad to share it with you. The park surrounding it is full of old and well established trees and it is a beautiful place.

    No, hopefully the guy will be fine. I’m pretty fatalistic and if things are meant to be, they’re meant to be. It is a thoughtful act on your part. Respect.

    Hey, the tree dudes are big strong Pacific Islanders and I tell ya, they work hard. Although historically I have read accounts that they may have indulged in a bit of a BBQ, so you might be right! Best not to look too closely at the meat.

    The girls sure are growing up fast. I like them when they are tired towards the end of the day as the dogs will happily sit quietly on my lap and enjoy a pat. Other than that Ruby is a bit of a handful and knows no end of mischief, but is good fun to have running around the farm. Still, their training is coming along well.

    Meyer Lemons will be your best bet as you are not too far off my climate zone. I know of a lady who swears that they will survive 16’F weather as long as they are kept out of the winter winds. I also try not to plant them near soil that is too damp, but given the trees have shallow root systems, then they need water, just not too much and don’t dig the soil under the drip line of the tree. I killed my decade plus Lemon Eureka because of too much water in the soil from a nearby drain. A very unusual fungi but-not-quite-fungi killed the tree. Oh well, move on nothing to see there.

    Enjoy a random Japanese maple variety. Once the tree is established, they are as tough as old boots, but comely enough to pass for a silk slipper. I try to keep plant competition away from them in their first year or so, but after that they’re easy as…

    I harvest the leaves and roots during the growing season. But there is probably no reason not to harvest some horseradish roots right now. I knew someone who was growing them as a cash crop.

    Hey have you ever planted ginger roots as an annual plant?

    Sorry, the succulents are the editors passion and I can’t ever recall hearing any variety name attached to the plants. We’re a bit slack on that front. Ook! πŸ™‚

    Cheers

    Chris

  21. Don’t worry Chris, I saw your Lighthouse comment last week and chose not to respond πŸ™‚ Discretion being the better part of valor, or so I hear!

    Good news, only two more sleeps and Mrs Damo and I are out of quarantine! I note the ongoing closures of borders back east, the mood in Western Australia can be basically summed up as, “stay the **^& away”. Like NZ, there are no community cases here and, our imposed quarantine notwithstanding, things are basically normal outside.

    Today we signed the rental papers on our new home. Pretty exciting and the big move in is on Friday (if you can call 6 bags and no furniture a big move). My new work colleague, we talk via Skype, was amazed at how quick Mrs Damo and I got a place sorted (and from quarantine no less). I replied we have had a lot of practise, and when it comes down to brass tacks, it isn’t that hard, you just need to get it done. Or, in the words of Sam’s old gaffer, it is the job not started that takes the longest! Friday is also “find and buy a new* car” day, so a lot happening!

    Thanks Lew for the Rick Steves travel article! I freely admit to enjoying travel, I loved the experiences and look back on the memories fondly. I do admit, in recent years, the sheer number of people is making an impact on the enjoyment as a tourist (to say nothing of the poor locals getting swamped). At the same time, I am quite happy working on my motorbike, building a boat or just spending a lazy weekend cooking some gruel, so I won’t be that stressed if I can’t easily get to Europe or Japan again.

    Pam – it seems madness your SIL has taken 3 holidays already this year. Meanwhile, I just spent a month in quarantine to cross one border!

    Cheers,
    Damo

    *by new, I of course mean new to us. I am not tempted by new vehicles and their exorbitant depreciation curves – although in my weaker moments I admit the new Suzuki Jimny calls to me….

  22. @ Pam,

    That wonderful succulent looks to me like a variety of sedum, aka stonecrop. Which variety I ‘m not sure – there are dozens at least – but it looks similar to the pictures I’ve seen of “red creeping sedum”. I’ve got 3 varieties in my flower gardens, one of which just showed up from somewhere and has really nastily smelling flowers.

    DJSpo

  23. Chris,

    Congrats on the snow flurries. As Lew said, it sounds like short pants and tee shirt weather! πŸ˜‰

    A job I once worked had two large delivery trucks. One fit underneath a particular bridge, the other didn’t. One employee repeatedly got the taller truck stuck, ignoring the warning signs taped all over the truck cab to avoid that route! Spokane downtown has a zillion low bridges due to the 1800s construction of the railroad overhead crossings. These are well labelled for height, but there are several stuck trucks annually.

    This is a challenging time to support the local businesses, isn’t it? We do what we can, too, but some items aren’t in stock at the local places, or even the big box chains. That leaves ordering through Amazon if the local business can’t order it for me. And restaurants? Ouch. I don’t know how any of these will survive.

    Learning is an interesting thing. Yes, gotta give the professor what he/she wants. Meanwhile, learn what is probably the important things to learn. Interestingly enough, my favorite 2 classes ever in university, including graduate school, were senior level courses taught in the Humanities department. Both touched on philosophical topics but in practical ways that made the philosophy professors apoplectic. Neither instructor wanted canned answers, but demanded thoughtful and creative answers.

    Our country has learned quite well how to parrot! I’m finding that it’s not only the opposition party that parrots, however. A lot of supporters of the incumbents parrot just as well. I’m disgusted with the whole thing. I wish people would be willing to learn how to think for themselves! I know, hold my hands out in front of me, wish in one hand, spit in the other, see which fills up faster…

    Yes, both the theoretician and the experimenter are necessary. A high school mate of mine got a mechanical engineering degree. We used to have some lively discussions, in fun, poking at one another about which was more important, the theory of physics or the hands on practical stuff from engineers. When working properly, the 2 methods work very well in tandem.

    What’s sad is that people in cities enjoy not having bugs and insects around. I don’t enjoy the wasps, but I do recognize that they have an important role to play. Their nests that I destroy are the ones at locations that are too risky for the Princess and me, or else are built near and around electrical wiring. I DID notice more bees on the sage Tuesday than I had so far this year, but their population is way down from last year. I know a gent who has beehives and who travels the orchards and farms from California to Washington with his bees, hiring them out during pollination season. When in California early this year, his hive population suddenly plummeted. He was fearful that none would survive. This agrees with the article Lew mentioned, that something happened in California this past year or years that markedly attacked and killed off many insect varieties. Not good. I like seeing a diversity of bugs!

    The raspberry patch shrank, so there weren’t a lot of bushes this year. What was there produced very well. Rather than a glut of berries, the production fed us well for a few weeks. As I continue to rehab that area, the raspberries should spread. If they get back to what they were 10 years ago, the glut will be frozen and/or dried.

    I water at the base of the plants in the vegetable patches. Evenings or early mornings. I like your idea of gooseberries, as I’ve enjoyed those in the distant past. I’ve got some work to do in the raised beds, which should make room for a row of gooseberries.

    Yup, study, tinker, try, pay attention, analyze, adapt. Seems to work with gardens and relationships and jobs and well, Life the Universe and Everything. 42

    DJSpo

  24. Yo, Chris – Well, I choose to think the pig was an actual acrobatic pig. Makes for a better story, than a take off on some guys name. The Roman’s erected many monuments, to their animals. Dogs and horses are the usual suspects. Why not a pig?

    Years ago, I saw a comedy sketch (George Carlin?) that posited that a discovery had been made. A cure of cancer from a substance secreted by Baby Harp Seals at the moment of their violent death. Good-bye Baby Harp Seals! Priorities, priorities. πŸ™‚

    Foot is on the other shoe? πŸ™‚ . Your place sounds cozy and idilic on winter’s eve. Now Tasmania got a sort of proper snow. Nothing that would slow us up, here, but, if you’re not used to it…

    About the article in “The Atlantic Magazine.” Well, someone’s got to be held responsible πŸ™‚ . Can hard news be separated from politics? I freely admit I suffer from a touch of TDS (Trump Derangement Syndrome). Worse than some, not as bad as others. And, some of the positive things Mr. Greer has said over at his blog, about the current administration, I agree with. As a bit of digression ….

    I hadn’t heard from Scott, for a couple of weeks. So, I dropped him an e-mail, last night, and, we got together for a cuppa at the Club. He mentioned he’s been feeling isolated and depressed. I asked him if he had considered the possibility of a second term. He said he had not. I suggested that he had better start wrapping his head around that so he doesn’t go entirely off the deep end. We also talked about TDS and how we pretty much hang out in our own little echo chambers. About all I could do is encourage him to “Buck up, Bucko” when we parted.

    Ginger’s are secular saints πŸ™‚ . I saw the old picture of Steves, and thought, “Gee, he’s an old hippie.” πŸ™‚ . Back before “gap years”, circa 1970, you had a lot of Americans “back packing around Europe.” And, other places. Quit a few were fleeing the Viet Nam War draft. Many became ex-pats. Some, like Steves, parried their interests into lucrative careers. There was a bunch that started cranking out the “Lonely Planet” guides to different countries. It’s an interesting footnote to cultural history.

    We have a small clump of blue Sea Holly, growing behind the Institution. Yesterday, I noticed that 6 or so bumble bees were going about their business. It was a cheering sight. In related news, I guess, our cherry crop on the east side of the mountains (a very big business) is in trouble. A disease. Thousands of trees have had to be removed. The land let fallow and fumigated, for a few years.

    So, when they started the Stage 4 Lockdown, at midnight, did they blow the air raid sirens and ring the church bells? πŸ™‚ . No laughing matter, I know. But, what else can you do? I guess all an individual can do is conserve as many resources as possible, and wait for better days. Network locally and provide support (emotional) as needed.

    There may (or may not) have been a body found, in the park woods behind the Institution. It may, (or may not) have been murder. It all started with me noticing a police car, up on the corner parked near a couple of vehicles. I mentioned it to Suzanne, Who Always Has A Better Idea. Her new hobby is listening to the police scanners. She has two of them mounted on the front of her electric wheel chair. There’s lot of static, and, of course the police talk in arcane codes. I generally just find them annoying, when I want a quit few moments out in the fresh air. Anyway. Those are the stories she’s constructing from garbled, static filled snatches of sentences. I’ll wait for the article in the newspaper. If any.

    Her last hobby was running around the building with an EM detector, telling people their toasters were giving them cancer. Lots of chatter about EM waves over at Mr. Greer’s last week.

    I do wish she’d get another hobby. Knitting pot holders, or weaving baskets. Anything other than the crusades she takes up. Lew

  25. Chris:

    I have noticed in this thing that your country is usually one step ahead of us – in going down to the next level.

    I am honest as the day is long, mostly, and I tell you what – there is nowhere else that I would rather be right now than in my little nest in the woods.

    Thank you for the Meyer lemon advice. They do sound a bit fussy. Ditto for the Japanese maple info., though not fussy.

    Yes we have grown ginger outside in the summer before, but it had to be started inside about 6 months ahead and then planted outside, and with our lack of sun the roots never did mature to be usable. It has beautiful ginger-scented flowers, though, almost worth the trouble.

    Pam

  26. Hello again
    I slept an undisturbed 10 hours the following night which revived me. Life here is quite bizarre though. Thank goodness I live apart from the madness. Many holidaymakers in town but I only encounter them once a week. I do hear voices floating up from the beach but it is far quieter than it used to be because there is so little shipping.
    Weather is hot and very dry. It actually rained last night but the water just vanishes making no difference at all.
    Son and I have a strange puzzle with our veg growing. Where he has success, I have disaster and vice versa to an extent which makes no sense at all. We live 5 mins walk apart. The major difference is that I am in ancient woodland and have to grow in pots. Son is on an old field even though trees had grown there over about 20 years. he grows straight into the ground. An example is that my runner beans are strangely poor this year while his are great. We use the same seeds. My basket tiny tomatoes are doing wonderfully, his are so bad that he has chucked 2 of his baskets so clearly this has nothing to do with different land in that case. Just to add to the puzzle, he planted my baskets along with his. This puzzle goes on year after year.

    Inge

  27. Hey Chris,

    On the foreign travel theme, you might have seen the meme going around about “Your grandfather had to fight a war. You just have to sit on the couch. So shut up and stay home.” Something like that.

    Funny part about that is that the reason many of our grandfathers and great grandfathers wanted to sign up for war was precisely so they could leave home, go overseas and have an adventure.

    I think going off by yourself at that age is quite a necessary thing. Pretty sure it existed even in hunter gatherer societies. You just went off into the bush for however long you needed and came back when you were ready.

  28. Hi Damo,

    As they say about critiques of the film: β€˜The Lighthouse’, discretion is the better part of valour indeed. Although frankly I have no idea what you or other folks are speaking of and have not seen the film. Mate, it was the rumours and you know where they originated…

    Top work, it has been an exceptionally long haul for your good self and Mrs Damo. Spare a thought for us down here having not crossed a border, but with 5 weeks and 6 days to go. Buck up little camper and all that stuff and I note that the local pub was shut but may open for take away on Saturday. Ouch!

    The English long wielded the divide and conquer strategy to good effect and so whatever works and stuff, and also whatever is new is somehow old again! πŸ˜‰ What do you do?

    Congrats on scoring the home. Was it the one you mentioned? It is a nice thing to amaze work colleagues, although it is unwise to perform at ‘peak condition’ too early on as you want to hold something in reserve for a crisis situation. Have made that particular mistake in the past.

    Mate, I too am tempted by the new Jimny. What a fine beast with a long and distinguished pedigree. The Vitara is good too. Years ago I possessed one: 1 Litre 4 Speed Sierra, and nothing ever stopped that beast. Although the previous owner had drilled out the jets in the carburettor and so the beast used an unfeasible amount of fuel and often my right foot was pressed hard to the floor on the accelerator. Still, never once bogged – anywhere.

    Yes, the author of the article displays an impressively adaptable mindset – and is clearly a survivor. Yup, I hear you about that story. Adapt, adapt, and continue adapting. πŸ™‚

    Cheers

    Chris

  29. @ Inge:

    I love your anecdotes about what is going on around your place, and area. The one about your gardening vs. your son’s is so peculiar, though. Yet there must be scientific reasons.

    Pam

  30. Hi DJ,

    Thanks and it’s true, I am summer soft. The outside air barely passed 7’C today and it was very cold. Still such conditions call for digging clay by hand – always a good method of getting warm on a cold day. So yeah, physical activity keeps a person warm. Dunno much else, but I reckon I’ve got that lesson down pat. πŸ™‚

    Ouch, and the repair bills for such a low bridge transit accident would be epic. Down here they have a saying which suggest that: You can’t teach a dill. Now of course I have nothing against cucumbers, herbs and pickles, but clearly someone down here once did.

    The interruption to supply chains is a story that is not lost on me either and I spent an hour earlier this evening considering that very story. I have had troubles in relation to stuff… Oh well, buck up and all that jazz.

    You were lucky to have enjoyed two such courses on philosophy where the lecturers made you use the gooey stuff between your ears which is attached to your eyes. I have heard that the gooey stuff can do quite interesting things if pressed. I am yet to enjoy such a course as the lecturers (and the post grad) were all hell bent on teaching to the test. It is a bit like the army: You’re not paid to think, soldier! But, possibly with less guns.

    Exactly, the editor and I have this routine going on, where I’ll my curl my fingers into the palm of my hand. Then my thumb and little finger will extend outwards. The hand will then tilt from side to side rapidly as if my fingers were controlling a puppet, and the words: Dance and sing for us, will be repeated over and over. It often makes me feel better. But yeah, both sides of your politics looks like that to me. The thing is, who is the puppet?

    Mate, you are on fire! Yes, of course both strategies need to work in tandem. My brain lacks the capacity for deep abstract thought, but if you want a building constructed – easy, doin’ it and when are we starting? πŸ™‚

    Actually I’m not entirely convinced that it is sad. Please bear with me. The folks with their fingers on the triggers of various toxic sprays actually get the world that they want. I’m not entirely convinced that this is a bad thing, because their world comports with their desires – otherwise the folks would not act so.

    Like you I enjoy seeing a diversity of bugs and all other life forms. Who knows what happened, but I’ve kept bees for about six years now and the bees were very grumpy that I recently moved the hive less than a meter onto their nice water tight concrete slab. Imagine how annoyed they’d be (excuse the pun) if the insect hive was bundled onto a truck and all the bees had to eat on arrival were almond pollen and nectar. It isn’t much difference to The Grapes of Wrath story, but in insect form. What do they all expect would happen?

    What are you doing to rehab the raspberry area? I tripled the size of raspberries last year and can’t wait to see what happens with that.

    It is reasonably dry here during the summers so as a comparison I water the soil by dripper hose and also water the leaves. If it was a very humid summer, I might not water much at all. Tomorrow night the rain forecast looks epic with almost 25mm to 50mm of rain falling over a few hours.

    Wind breaks are worth their weight in gold. My mates of the big shed fame are learning that lesson. They have more sunlight than I could ever wish for, but we have less wind – so everything in balance.

    Have you obtained 42 rolls yet – that is the question?

    Cheers

    Chris

  31. Hi Pam,

    Yup, we are going down. Mind you, I’m not entirely sure whether in doing so, we are in the future or in the past? Possibly a bit of both really.

    Respect for the disclaimer as to your good character. πŸ˜‰ Hehe! I’m with you, things are looking up for rural folks who can get off the couch and start producing. It’s a fine place to be relative to the city experience. How is the truck going? Is it operational?

    The Meyer lemons have to be planted in conditions that are just so. Out of your northern winter winds would be the best bet. And incidentally citrus are often originally under story trees so they can cope with a bit of shade – if they get good shelter and lots of feed (they have shallow root systems).

    Thanks for the advice in relation to ginger. I picked up some locally grown ginger roots yesterday and will try starting them inside the house (if only I had the greenhouse constructed).

    Cheers

    Chris

  32. Hi Inge,

    With the strict lock down things in Melbourne and the less strict lock downs in rural areas, up here in the mountain range is very quiet indeed. A cheeky scamp might suggest that the party vibe has been rather killed. The mask wearing is a sore trial for everyone, despite what they say. People look hot and bothered wearing masks.

    There are no holidaymakers up here at all. It is now very local. I was hoping that the pub opened tonight for take away, but no.

    Forests do tend to enjoy loam soils, especially long established forests like yours (and the one here). It is not necessarily a bad thing that the water has disappeared into the soil as it indicates that the hydrological cycle is working. Better that the water gets into the soil where the plant roots can get to it rather than evaporating away.

    Without seeing the exact conditions at either site I can’t really help. Although, traditionally beans are grown in the season following tomatoes, as that is the correct rotation. Beans do not like fertile soils apparently, but having said that my lot grow very well in compost. Fields that have grown grass can often be stripped on minerals depending on what animals ate the grass and if the grass left the land. And also there is a difference between field soil which may be biased towards bacterial life forms, versus your ancient woodland soils which may be biased towards fungal life forms. Trees are usually fed by fungi, whereas annuals such as vegetable crops enjoy feed from a more bacterial dominated soil. That’s the theory anyway. What is your take on those observations?

    Cheers

    Chris

  33. Hi Simon,

    Welcome to the discussion! πŸ™‚

    Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum once quipped: “My grandfather rode a camel, my father rode a camel, I drive a Mercedes, my son drives a Land Rover, his son will drive a Land Rover, but his son will ride a camel.” The international travel story is a bit like that and what can’t be sustained, possibly won’t be sustained.

    Liked the sentiment of the quote. Very cheeky!

    Well yeah, that is the thing isn’t it. I have also heard that story about join the army and see the world, and mate you only have to see the trees in the various Avenues of Honour lining rural townships to see how that story played out. Part of me wonders whether the folks who signed up for WWI expected to see the grubby trench war which did play out. I heard that aspect of the story casually remarked upon a while back and it made me wonder as to the veracity of the claim.

    Yes. I agree. An initiation as well as a growth / risk phase. I’ve noticed that people rarely do well when living under their parents roofs as adults, however historically many houses contained multiple generations and so I am saying both yes and no. Not sure really? What is your take on that?

    Good to hear from you!

    Cheers

    Chris

  34. Hi Lewis,

    That possibility about the pig having acrobatic skills, sort of never occurred to me, but why else would the delightful and intelligent animal score a quality engraving that has stood the test of time? I like pigs but they have such wet snouts and they use them to good effect as suction cups on exposed legs. Yeah, why not a pig?

    George Carlin’s comedy skit sounds very amusing and yeah he poses some awful questions for us to consider. Years ago I saw an English movie about a sub class of people who were raised and pampered for their body parts – which were harvested until they died. Quite a good film, if a little bit morbid. But I recall at one point in the film researchers were asking if the spare-body-parts-humans actually had a soul. On a serious note I once encountered a very bad person for a short period of time who once suggested that such and such a group of people don’t live real lives like you and me. Even recollecting those words sends a shiver up my spine. The very bad person was using his power and control over other people to conduct a brutal game of survivor and I wanted no part of that story. What amazed me about it was that people were OK with it all, until their turn in the spot light took place, but before that happened they seemed really super-cool with the goings on. A truly strange person.

    I was enjoying mixing metaphors. Small things amusing small minds and all that, but I love sometimes just slipping into a conversation: Yeah, that ship sure did bolt. It amuses me anyway. The inside of the house was toasty warm, and is again toasty warm this evening, although I am ultra careful with the wood heater and treat the device with kid gloves. Of course the only way to learn that lesson is to completely destroy the earlier wood heater and then have to replace it at vast expense. I really don’t know how long that device will last – maybe 20 years at best. Not sure, but it does worry me.

    We’re not worthy, we’re not worthy!!!! Yeah the Tasmanian snow would be a show stopper. With the impending lock down coming into force at midnight last night I was hoping that I wasn’t snowed in yesterday as I had stuff to sort out in the big smoke. Anyway, Five weeks, six days and counting. Damo would understand. Oh yeah, he’d get that.

    Anywhoo, today was again a dead sheep day and I went to the general store dressed in my sheep skin boots, woollen jumper (a higher quality one that is allowed to leave the premises, but the dogs are instructed sternly not to jump up on me when I am wearing it), woollen Irish hat, and vintage sheep skin jacket. That is a lot of dead sheep, but at least I was toasty warm in the Antarctic blast we’re having.

    The rain looks set to arrive tomorrow night – heavily too. So we got outside today and dug soil. This week we were working at the connection of the driveway with the long path up above the house. Did about half of the job today and hope to finish it tomorrow. All of the digging was done by hand and at the end of the workday I fell asleep in a hot bath for a brief nap. It is hard work digging and moving soil. But the job is looking pretty good.

    Well that is the thing, if history has lead us to this point, is the cause of TDS (which incidentally when spoken aloud sounds like the word ‘tedious’) to blame? Probably not, and we have discussed before that the road to perdition begins with good intentions. Thanks for understanding – our news is full of stories of your President, and sometimes I do wonder if those articles are paid for, or fillers to cover over the fact that there are few paying journalism jobs these days. Not a career I’d pursue that’s for sure.

    Good advice to Scott, and mate I tell ya, it ain’t just him. I’m seeing that story playing out right across the board. The party vibe is clearly gone. It is funny I mention that…

    I thought that too about Steve. Gingers of the world unite and all that stuff! πŸ™‚ Did you know that I used to live not very far from the headquarters of the Lonely Planet when they took up a ginormous old Victorian era warehouse on the side of the Maribyrnong River in the big smoke? I loved their guide books, but yeah, they were perhaps a casualty of the interweb. Incidentally, before that, the building used to host a rave venue called from memory Global Village. I was never cool enough to venture into such places – and frankly wouldn’t enjoy the volume anyway. But the use of the building back then as a rave venue used to cause quite a stir among the locals. And incidentally a rail line used to travel alongside the river, and at one point a train parked there and it looked as if people lived in the carriages. All very strange and unexpected. I never worked up the courage to speak to the people living on the train so have no idea as to their story.

    Excellent news about the bumble bees. I told you the dragon flies would only be there if there were something for them to eat. And bumble bees are outstanding pollinators – especially for tomato crops. It is a cheering sight! Oh yeah!

    Little Cherry Virus sounds horrendous – please keep it to your good selves. Mind you I’ve never encountered a mealybug and have no desire to do so. Most of the fruit I grow is small anyway as I don’t pump the trees full of fertiliser and water but just let them find their own way. A lot of the commercial expectations of fruit size and shape are a bit unrealistic.

    I’m providing plenty of emotional support due to the lock down, and yesterday evening my limits for that were reached and I just needed a bit of quiet time. What else do you do? I’m hearing anecdotal accounts of supply shortages and am also wondering about that story and how I should react.

    I used to have to do some of that radio talk for the volunteer fire fighting and it is a certain rigid way of communicating, but it has a place. The noise of the scanner in the garden would be candidly annoying to me too. I enjoy music whilst I work, but police scanners… Down here they went digital with the various radios and so an old school analogue scanner might not be that useful. Maybe Suzanne’s scanner might get out-dated? I’d heard accounts of reporters having to listen to the scanners back in the day so as to get a head start on breaking news.

    Yeah? I ignored such EM chatter over at Mr Greer’s. All part of living on a poisoned planet.

    Suzanne is probably bored.

    Cheers

    Chris

  35. Yo, Chris – I remember that film, and the book it came from. I skipped both. Too much “ick” factor, for my taste. A few years earlier, there was “Coma.” Book and film. That was enough.

    First rule of Genocide 101. First dehumanize your target population. Works every time.

    Small amusements keep us ticking along. And they usually cost nothing.

    I treat a lot of my “devices” with kid gloves. Phone, DVD player, alarm clock. All the stuff that’s designed to easily break, and have to be replaced. Nozzle on the garden hose. One of which I had to replace, yesterday. Didn’t even last a season. Don’t know where it came from. Splashed out big on a metal once. $12. And, it’s blue! I also picked up one of the old fashioned, brass one’s that you just twist, for different spray configurations. Although it comes from an unnamed Asian country, I’ll keep it around for back up. I ought to keep an eye out for a good ol’ American one. Usually, all they need is a washer.

    5 weeks, six days … but who’s counting? Looking back, the time will have flown by. But, from this end, not so much. πŸ™ .

    Is Dead Sheep Day and Australian holiday? Are there baked goods, involved? πŸ™‚ . I know you like your hats. For some reason, no matter where I go on the internet, an ad keeps popping up for a ridiculous “Tornado Bucket Hat.” (With the extra wide brim.) The horse faced male model, sporting the thing, doesn’t even have the decency to look a bit embarrassed. Maybe there was enough mad cash involved, to offset holding him up to public ridicule. If he ever attempts to run for public office, that picture will surface. πŸ™‚ . I mean, restrained bucket hats are all well and good, and serve a purpose. But this? No.

    Yesterday was 81F (27.22C). With a nice breeze. We had rain, overnight. Might get some more today. And, it’s going to be 70F (21.11C). Not much rain, but I don’t think I’ll have to water, tonight.

    I didn’t realize Lonely Planet was based in Melbourne. How cool. As if your city wasn’t cool enough. Spread the wealth, around! Maybe the train was a kind of traveler’s hostel. As their authors came and went?

    Yup. I ignored all that EM chatter, too. When Suzanne starts banging on about it, I deploy strategic eye rolls. Then glazed looks. Finally a pull out the big guns … change of topic. What was that film I saw years ago? Ah, yes. “Safe” (Julianne Moore, 1995). I could never quit decide if she was really allergic to some things, or if she was just descending into madness. Or if she just didn’t like her life, and it was a great excuse to withdraw. Though she probably didn’t realize it, herself.

    From our “you never know what your going to find, where…” Department. The video is about 5 minutes. Besides the tombstone bit, it gives you a brief look at the building of American McMansions. The tombstone is of a freed slave who worked for the Emperor Claudius. He was an estate tax collector, in the NE Roman empire.

    http://www.fox5ny.com/news/ancient-roman-tombstone-found-buried-in-new-york

    I started watching a 6 part miniseries from Britain, last night. “Years and Years.” Two of the stars are Emma Thompson and, one of my favs, Russell Tovey. It takes one “typical” (not really) English family and follows them through 15 years, from about now. Science fiction? Hmmm. Maybe speculative fiction. And, they speculate about EVERYTHING. I put quotations around “typical” as they are a multi-generational, multi-cultural, gender fluid, bunch. Hit every note on the SJW’s playlist. There’s even one daughter in a wheel chair, just to give a nod to the “differently abled.” To paraphrase a bit of the Wikipedia entry, it follows one family as they are rocked by political, economic and technological advances. It’s pretty over the top, but I keep watching it. There was a book, about five years ago, that was very similar, but with an American family. Decline writ large. Lew

  36. Hi Chris,

    Lack of insects here too. I don’t miss the mosquitoes and as it’s been quite dry there is a reason there’s not many. One thing we do have is flies – the typical garden variety type. Trying to entertain outdoors has been challenging due to them. Others have reported the same thing. Two common butterfly species haven’t been seen here. Well I guess I’ve seen two Red Admirals but normally they are very numerous. Lots of bumblebees but not so many other pollinators. Doug’s bees seem to have rebounded but he’ll still get very little honey this year.

    Already counting the days are you? That might make time move slower. I think everyone expects we’ll be in some form of lock down within a few months. All the schools are now doing remote learning until November at least. My cousin, who is a teacher in California, said they are only teaching math and language arts – no science or social studies. They do want to limit screen time to four hours a day which I understand but not a way to instill a love of learning.

    Still not much rain here though areas not that far from us are getting a respectable amount.

    Margaret

    I find it’s interesting to see what’s in short supply every time I go to a store. I know we’re keeping extras of everything on hand. Toilet paper inventory is at 52 rolls.

  37. @Pam
    I sure am glad we are where we are. I’m pretty content with mostly staying home. I hope you are doing OK. Monday was the first anniversary of my sister, Mary’s passing and the 2nd anniversary of Michael’s is just two weeks away.

    @Damo
    So glad you and Mrs. Damo are moving on. Very impressive that you’ve already secured your new digs!!

    @Lew
    Most of my family suffers from TDS in a big way. It gets tiresome and they don’t get why we’re in this situation. I’ve cut way back on the family Zoom calls due to this and the constant discussion about masks (sigh).

    Margaret

  38. Hello again
    Your info. on soils is very interesting, thanks. None the less it doesn’t explain the extraordinary differences that Son and I experience. We use the same seeds, compost and manure from his pigs. I could understand it more if one of us always did badly while the other did well.
    My niece in the US has just survived serious anaphylactic shock from 2 beestings. She had an epi pen for a different reason but it didn’t work. She was unaware that she was allergic to bee stings. They managed to bring her round in the ambulance with a massive injection and she had to spend nearly 2 days in hospital.
    Still very dry and hot here.
    Son is 60 today and not a bit happy about it.

    Inge

  39. Hey Chris,

    Funnily enough, when I was young we had four generations under one roof for a short while. So, I actually got to know my great-grandparents. My grandmother and great-grandmother were old school, tough as nails war wives who would scold you and then feed you delicious vegetable soup. Great idea for a youngster but not so great for young adults. I think that’s why social clubs used to be a big thing back in the day. Gave people a reason to get out of the house.

  40. Hi Margaret,

    Oh yeah, the common house flies really do enjoy hot and dry summers like you are experiencing. And best not to live too close to cattle farms, but even still the flies can fly quite a ways – unfortunately. Do you get those horseflies? We call them March flies here, but they turn up in January and so should be renamed ‘summer bad bitey flies’. It doesn’t quite have the same ring to the March fly name. Dunno why mosquitoes are pestering me at this cold time of year? The Antarctic cut off low will put an end to them.

    Hopefully your garden is growing well in the hot and dry conditions? The heavens have opened here this evening and the rain is steadily bucketing down. It was heavy enough that I grabbed the umbrella and took a stroll around to see how the systems were faring. The drains on machinery shed had clogged up with gunk and had to be cleaned out – up a ladder in the rain. Oh well, at least it is dry and warm inside the house.

    Insect populations aren’t really a constant from year to year, but still. Hey, the bumblebees are a good sign – especially for the tomatoes. Did Doug take any remedial action to get the bees vitality back? As you say, it might be a bit late for the bees to build up stores of honey, still they may overwinter just fine with reduced numbers.

    Haha! It isn’t just you warning me not to count the days, the editor was likewise in my ear about that earlier this evening. I defer to wiser heads on this matter. The future is a very strange place that’s for sure. Some bloke who was apparently infected in the state to the north of this one, allegedly visited 14 venues (i.e. places to drink) whilst infected. I don’t know what to make of that story.

    Exactly, how do you even teach science at home? Tell ya what though, the kids might enjoy industrial food microbiology lessons as parents get them to work on home brew.

    It’s a hobby of mine too spotting the empty shelves. Prices for meat have increased by 50% due to an outbreak. I buy a small amount of mince for the chickens each week as chickens are not vegetarians. The other week I noticed that cheese seemed in short supply, but I believe most of our rennet supplies are imported – which seems odd to me.

    Your efforts are to be commended! πŸ™‚ Less than a dozen rolls – so it is game over for us… πŸ™‚

    Cheers

    Chris

  41. Hi Inge,

    To utilise a mechanical metaphor, in order to get an engine to run you must have: air; compression; spark; and fuel and without one of those variables nothing will happen. That bit of wisdom came from the day when an average person could understand what was going on under the bonnet of a vehicle.

    So with your plants and the ongoing comparison between your efforts and your sons efforts there are a number of factors influencing the rate of growth. Now, using logical deduction, you both use the same soil and containers for the same plants. So that eliminates that particular variable. And the seeds are from the same batch, so that is eliminated as well. Which leaves: Sun, wind and water. Any one of those three variables could influence the growth differences. The aspect of your land may be a major influencing factor such as whether the plants enjoy morning, afternoon or all day sun. Plus exposure to wind (which is a major difference between forests and fields) can affect the available water and humidity and also introduce salt, as you are on an island after all. And it is almost impossible for me to understand what watering regime either of you use. Sometimes people can over water plants and that is no good. So after a whole bunch of my talk, I have no idea, but there are so many minor variables that you have to eliminate each variable one by one in order to understand the differences in outcomes. It is a complicated job just understanding the conditions that you live in on a property, let alone learning another property. Oh, and plants have different and unique requirements which may work better some seasons than others. You may recall that I lost a few years of plant breeding last summer due to the truly crazy conditions. And have learned from that mistake.

    Wow. Glad to hear that your niece is doing OK after such a shock. Out of curiosity, I understand how a person may be stung once, but twice indicates to me that your niece may have been getting involved in behaviour which may have annoyed the bees. On the other hand, your niece now has to exercise hyper vigilance in relation to bees or ever so slowly build immunity to the toxin.

    The heavens have opened this evening and it is bucketing down with rain. As long as a person has access to water, hot and dry seasons are much easier to grow vegetables and tasty high sugar fruit.

    Well your son must recall that the alternative experience is far more, err, final. I am unsympathetic for his concerns. A mate achieved a similar goal and has gone into hiding… A recent birthday of mine was lost in all of the current societal concerns, but you know I’m happy to be alive and kicking.

    Cheers

    Chris

  42. Hi Simon,

    I’ll tell you a funny story about that story. My grandparents were also ‘old school’, although I somehow managed to dodge the scolding. It pays to be fleet of foot, I guess. πŸ™‚ It was their kids who wanted something different and weren’t as involved in raising the grand kids as your experience suggests, although of course economics and societal changes and available energy per capita played a big role in that too so it is not a simple story at all.

    Dunno about you, but I do wonder what it means that people have become adapted to moving far from where they were born. I tend to feel that it is an indicator of a society that is under stress or has great opportunity presented to it (in whatever guise that takes). Just imagine what it would have taken for humans to have spread over the face of planet all those long millennia ago. It’s awesome to consider.

    Cheers

    Chris

  43. Hello again
    Further comments and info also interesting. The one definite difference is that my land is colder. It always fascinates us that I will have frost on the ground all day sometimes when there is none in the surrounding areas.
    I agree that 2 bee stings is odd, I have never had more than one. I await possible further info. from my sister.
    Hottest day yet so far, have finally got tomatoes turning red or yellow depending on variety.
    Re: your interchange with Simon. Opportunity has certainly enabled people to move around the world; desperation is part of the story also. I am the first person in my family born in the UK and my descendants are in Australia. My sister and her descendants are in the US. As I am sure that I have said before, it does make for genetic survival.
    Re: the current can’t be named. Do you feel as I do that we are being treated as pieces on a gameboard?

    Inge

  44. Hi Lewis,

    The films were all very English and stuff. The sub humans were submitting to their fate with a certain understated stoicism and sense of resignation. I recall that there was a bit of talk about the film over at Mr Greer’s website back in the day, and I dunno it seemed like an odd premise for a film to me. Ah, Never Let Me Go was the title of the film and yes it did have an ‘ick’ factor. The actor Carey Mulligan is very good, and I really enjoyed her performance in another film: An Education. But respect does not stop there as she married Marcus Mumford, who is the lead singer of the band Mumford & Sons who were most famous for their song: Little Lion Man – which I quite enjoyed. They were pen pals as kids. True story, and now I heard some story that they now raise heritage breed pigs. Good stuff and some folks are put on the planet to make the rest of us look bad and give us something to aim for! πŸ™‚

    I have heard rumours that a foreign gubarment may have read the book: “Coma” and possibly taken it as a how-to manual for some of their more pesky minority groups. It is not as if there is not demand for the parts.

    Mate, I hear you about that first rule. It is true and not very nice at all. It gives me the shivers up my spine when I hear people talking about other folks in that mode.

    Well if we can’t keep ourselves entertained with small amusements, then ain’t nobody else bothering entertaining us. πŸ™‚ Anyway, it beats the daylights out of reading the news these days.

    Been there and done that with hose nozzles on garden hoses. I recall that I tried one very fancy variety and it had different settings and was all very complicated. The handle broke because the idiots that manufactured it used plastic that was not UV stable – and summer extreme UV down here pushes the boundaries on that front. Hey, I also use the very simple brass mechanisms too and they just last and last. But also I’m trialling locally made UV stable plastic devices which work more or less the same way and both of them seem pretty good and have lasted for many years. Most hoses I purchase nowadays have a stated 30 year lifespan and they’re all pretty good too. Other hoses have died in only a year or two so it seems like a false economy to me. Hey, the locally made nozzles are also ‘blue’! A sign that things are well made, I reckon. πŸ™‚

    From this end, the local pub still looks closed, although I may expect no sympathy from you for obvious reasons. πŸ™‚ There is a rumour they may open for take away meals soon and I look forward to that. There is nowhere else on the mountain range that sells dinners and it is a very charming establishment with an open fire and cosy atmosphere. Oh well. Time and all that heals all wounds.

    I may have sorted out the battery dramas today, although the story worked out nothing at all like I thought a week or so back. Crazy stuff, but that’s life sometimes. Hey, we worked on constructing the path above the house today – which meant connecting the path to the driveway. From late this afternoon the rain began, slowly at first but it accelerated and by the time we finished the work as the sun neared the horizon we were quite damp. But the path is looking really good and gives us easier access up to the garden terraces. Now all I have to do is break up the huge moby rock sticking out of the path at the far end. Oh well, nobody said things would be easy.

    The local quarry was having some sort of trouble with their machines, and supply disappeared recently. Fortunately they were able to fix the machines and the supply of crushed rock with lime could continue. For a minute there I was very worried. It is no small thing these days worrying about supply lines and I actually contacted the supplier for the batteries first before ordering and confirmed that they actually had supplies ready to hand – which apparently they did. It has been something of a problem and probably needs sorting out soonish.

    Dead Sheep Day: Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong, under the shade of a Coolibah tree. And he sang as he watched and was seriously toasty in the freezing conditions as he was wearing dead sheep gear head to toe. You’ll come a-waltzing Matilda, with me. Now of course the lyrics may not have read exactly those words, but sheep were involved in the original poem so that’s close enough in my book.

    Mate, there is always time for baked goods. Despite the sheer lack of sun today due to seriously heavy Antarctic derived weather, I still pushed the power system so that Anzac biscuits could be baked in the electric oven whilst we worked outside in the rain. A couple of oven fresh Anzac biscuits after a hard days work in cold and freezing conditions is good enough for me.

    You know I’m a bit scared to gaagle search exactly what is a Tornado Bucket Hat. It may follow me around for the rest of my life, and some things can’t be unseen. Anyway, living on the edge and with a chunk of daring, I looked it up. Well those hats aren’t too scary, but you wouldn’t want to get one of them too close to a fire as they look combustible to me. Then your hair would burn up right and proper. I’d take the mad cash too, it’s embarrassingly true and I’m weak, but where do I sign? πŸ™‚ There is the notorious bubble photo lurking around after all, and I’d be certain the model was paid more than I was for the accompanying article and image. One of my favourite hats is a rabbit pelt Akubra hat, just wearing the hat makes me feel like I look like proper rural business. Yeah! Most of my other hats having me thinking like I’m just about to say to the local Lord of the Land: ‘Evenin’ Gov’nor’. It is perhaps best to get practice in early for such deference.

    Your weather sounds really nice. It is 3’C / 37’F outside right now. Brr.

    The city is usually cool, but there are plenty of police and military dudes patrolling the streets and yeah there is the curfew bit too. Hopefully I can still get a proper coffee when I venture forth in there again. The little laneways with small cafes and restaurants in the city was something I really enjoyed. The train was bizarre and to this day I’ve never encountered a single reference to it even in the local papers of the time. The folks were hanging out their washing from the windows of the carriages, and they were right next to the river and so had an amazing locale.

    That is one scary film. Oh yeah, on many different levels. Multiple chemical sensitivity is not something that you’d want to experience. One particular dishwashing liquid gives me contact dermatitis, but I have heard that continued exposure can make the situation worse, and nobody really knows what the trigger points will be. I have wondered whether such conditions are symptomatic of a too clean environment which is also biologically dead. In the big smoke in some areas there is a flesh eating bacteria which is one nasty customer. You wouldn’t want it, but how much time do people spend out in nature? Dogs and cats assist with that matter.

    Thanks for the link. It is amazing to consider what might be buried in plain sight. And it also proves that not all tax collectors are bad, the bloke might have been pretty good at his game for him to have earned his freedom.

    Emma Thompson is an excellent actor. Russell Tovey is something of a collector. πŸ™‚ Yup decline writ large – it’s all about us my friend.

    Cheers

    Chris

  45. Hi Inge,

    Of course, I forgot entirely. Thanks for the reminder. Soil temperature makes a huge difference and it varies from season to season and location to location. Believe it or not, it is colder down in the valley than up here on the ridge where I can bizarrely get away with some sub-tropical plants like citrus. Cold air falls downhill and collects in pockets after all. In really hot summers, salad greens will do far better in a usually cold location than in a more exposed locale. And of course in dry years tomatoes will do better in a cooler locale than more exposed and dry locations. There is an awful lot to this stuff.

    Yes, I sense that there is more to that story. Bees are unable to sting more than once, and so being stung twice suggests that other factors were at play.

    Your tomatoes are at about what I would expect here, although some varieties can produce earlier with lots of work. I knew a bloke who took the plants in and out of the house so as to produce really early crops, but it looked like hard work to me.

    The two ideas/stories are conflated. I don’t usually talk about the subject, except indirectly. However, I have a vague hunch that something has broken somewhere. It is notable that a large energy producer who was previously secretive has decided to sell their assets. There were other stories in that area of the world which sounded wrong to my mind, but what do I know. However, what I do know is that we literally eat energy. So if there is any reduction in the available energy on a per capita basis (and energy availability can rise overall, and yet decline per capita as the population grows), well it’s not good. So here we are then and the four horsemen had to sally forth as they’ve always done when a populations demands exceeds its resource base. If you had to choose one of the horsemen, which would you choose that causes the least amount of terror in the population? It is all a wild guess though.

    Cheers

    Chris

  46. Good evening, etc.

    This week’s post expresses my feelings exactly: it’s the closed businesses and all the missing faces that I find almost unbearable on my visits to town – lives quite possibly wrecked for good.

    It’s a lot livelier here now, even some tourists -mostly Germans, and I think we are about to veto the French as well as the Spanish – but there are so many what one might call ‘missing teeth’ in the urban facades, all dark or boarded up, and like a human face that’s what stands out.

    Frankly, I feel that politicians, and the epidemiologists, simply have no idea what they have unleashed, and now the Bank of England is murmuring that real negative rates might be ‘a sensible policy option’….. I’m very sorry to see Melbourne has gone down that road, too.

    Dogs certainly help with a little bacterial exposure: I was telling Sir Sancho how handsome and good he was this morning when he suddenly gave me a full Doggie French Kiss, a lick too far! I have been the recipient of many such, and still don’t enjoy them. But gosh my immune system!

    Gap years are perhaps a sort of democratised version of the aristocratic Grand Tour, utter self-indulgent nonsense when you think about it.

    In my day it was said that employers didn’t want fresh recruits who were too narrow and merely academic, which made everyone feel happy about the gap year – such breadth and depth simply guaranteed from bumming around by train with a backpack, with an eye out for girls rather than culture, which is what most did!

    35 degrees and clear skies here today, which meant dog walking at 5am. I always find it the best and most hopeful feeling time of day, a and lots of rabbits to chase.

    Muntjac are barking in the little wood here,producing a hell of a racket for their size, and if Sancho hears he sends a reply in a very unoperatic chorus. I wonder what the deer make of it?

    Stay sane and well everyone.

    Xabier

  47. Chris,

    The heat wave is gone! Had a cold front and high winds with light rain move through Thursday. Down to +10C overnight. The 2 week forecast is for high temperatures to remain in the 25C to 30C range, which is about “normal” for this time of year. Cool nights, pleasant days…

    The supply chain interruption is present, for sure. Do without, substitute, improvise. In other words, “We’re not in Kansas any more, Toto.”

    I really enjoyed those 2 courses. No tests, but essays to write. The thinking and logic were more important than repeating factoids. Really much more down to earth and useful than most of what was taught even 35 years ago.

    “The thing is, who is the puppet?” Wrong question in my opinion. I prefer “Who is NOT a puppet?”, especially with politicians and high level political appointees.

    Ok, now we’re talking. You wanta help me construct a building? You and the Editor fly on over and we’ll start, oh wait, no flying or travel. DARN!

    Yeah, maybe people get what they want with the bug sprays in the short term. What’s sad to me is that people want to distance themselves from who and what we are so badly that they shut themselves away from nature. Of course, such discussion is reminiscent of the old TADR to a degree…

    Somehow, from what I understand, these travelling beekeepers were able to keep their bees happy. Something happened in their most recent trips to California that appears to be similar to what is killing off other insects.

    Raspberry rehab requires removing various poles and twigs that had been stored there temporarily but for too long. Then there has been a weed infestation, so removing those and keeping up with the weeding is paramount.

    We have well over the goal of 42 rolls, but the Princess might donate some of those to her brother.

    DJSpo

  48. Yo, Chris – Of course I feel bad, for you, that you’re pubs not running on all cylinders. I mean, I can relate. My pub is the Club. I’m sure I’d quit enjoy your pub .. the atmosphere, the nosh. I’d just take it all in, sipping my cranberry and 7-Up toddy. πŸ™‚ .

    So, when you pick up the batteries, will you run the military cordon sanitaire? Hire a lorry, put a false bottom in it, and run people from one side to the other. I hear it’s a lucrative, trade.

    So, will you construct a cloverleaf at the driveway / path interchange? You can then lease land to fast food joints and big box stores.

    Sooner or later, your local quarry will have squads of convicts, turning big rocks into little rocks. Maybe you can hire a contingent, for a day, to break up your Moby Rocks?

    Isn’t it an Australian federal offense, to tamper with the lyrics of “Waltzing Matilda?” Exile or banishment, or something? No worries. Not much hair to combust. I keep the beard trimmed back, too. Nothing so luxurious, as DJ’s. Nothing for strange women to tug on. Ah, the Akubra hat. Beloved by swagmen and bush rangers, everywhere. Thou I’d guess the bush rangers sport a model in black. Gotta sort out the good guys from the bad. Yes, but you’ll be the Gov’nor’ You’ll have to figure out some kind of modified crown. Maybe just a smart gold circlet? Maybe go for a Celtic torque?

    I’ve seen pictures of your deserted laneways. Sad and spooky.

    Seth Rogen is coming out with a new film. I watched the trailer and read a few reviews. Sounds like fun. “An American Pickle.” I also read a review of the new animated “Star Trek – Lower Decks.” Sounds a lot more interesting than “Picard.”

    Yesterday, I cooked my oatmeal, and did another bowl of rice. Picked a shy gallon of blueberries, and they’re in the freezer. A bit of laundry. I noticed I’m getting tiny little green beans, at the ends of the wilting flowers! Ah, I see they’re self pollinating. No pollinators need be involved. And, we’ve had a bit of a breeze, most days.

    I think I’ve mentioned every small town around has a yearly “festival”. Typical spasm of civic who-who. Bear Days, Slug Festival, Cheese Days, etc. Not this year. County and State fairs, canceled. Centralia has an “Antique Fest”, the beginning of August. Also, canceled. But, I got an e-mail from the Centralia Square Antique Mall, this morning. They’re running a sale, today and over the week-end. Treasure! Think I’ll wander up and see if i can unearth anything. Might hit the op-shop, if my bladder holds up.

    Now, I’m very happy that my library is, kind of, open again. But something is gumming up the works. I wonder how much of a crew they have at the Service Center. Nothing on my hold list has gone into “transit” in over a week. The “Journey of Trees” went into transit, from another branch. It’s been in “transit” for over a week. So, on my way back from Centralia, I may poke a head in at the Yard Birds, and see if the old DVD guy ($1 a pop) has anything I fancy. I not today, maybe, tomorrow.

    I’m also going to make a wider loop, on my way to the antique mall. Check out Tower Avenue, and see how it looks. That’s our lane way. Lew

  49. Hello again
    My niece was mowing the grass when she got stung. Her husband found a nest in the ground and got stung when he dealt with it but he is not allergic to them.
    Seems possible that more than one horseman has ridden out or at least is waiting ready.

    Inge

  50. Chris:

    The dump trucks, two to be made into one, are not going yet. Many hours of work is done every day on them. They are coming along. Every now and then I get to help, and an adventure is usually included. I tell you what – those things and their components are HEAVY.

    Pam

  51. @ Margaret:

    I am fine. How uncanny, though, as I was thinking about your sister Mary passing only this week. Hard to believe that it has already been a year, and two years since Michael passed away.

    Pam

  52. As our governnment is plainly useless and a gloomy winter looms in England, here is an update on preparations at Casa Xabier, home to the canny Basque marooned in the UK:

    950 6-hour German candles; 1150 tea-lights; 48 litres of high-grade German paraffin; 1,000 cook’s matches; spare lamp wicks and lamp parts; 5 year’s worth of seasoned firewood, etc, etc; and……drum roll, and just for the Australians among us ……125 rolls of lavatory paper!

    Such impressive statistics should need no commentary, and should only invoke awe, and, I hope, a laugh.

    Now, doesn’t reading that make you feel sane by comparison? πŸ™‚

    Xabier

  53. PS The tea-lights not only provide safe and cheerfully pleasant lighting in power cuts, but can also power tea-light heaters and bed-warmers. Lots of videos on the net giving instructions; I’ve tried them and they work.

  54. Hi Xabier,

    Thanks for the laughs and you are clearly of the school of thought which suggests 1 is good, but 20 is better! πŸ™‚ You’d be surprised how many houses don’t stock candles or torches, or even quality rechargeable batteries. When the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires rolled through the state, people had generators but no fuel with which to run them, and because the area was one massive crime scene, the folks could leave their affected homes, but not return again until given the all clear (which could take days). Respect for the toilet paper haul. Only Aussies truly understand why so much toilet paper is needed during a crisis, but quietly between you and I don’t get it either. Oh well.

    Thanks, and I’m guessing that story is playing out all over the planet right now. The local pub is now closed for dine in and bar, but tonight we indulged ourselves with some take away pizza, pasta and dark ale, which was very good. Enjoyed in a quiet out of the way spot. It is very quiet in this here mountain range.

    Well that’s the story nobody is really talking about. You don’t have to be Einstein to understand the significance of the many empty commercial premises with ‘for lease’ or ‘for sale’ signs. Every one of those empty shops would carry a sad tale of heartbreak and sunk dreams. I wonder how the banks will take a hit on this story. Hmm.

    We may be the land of plenty, but we tend to look to the US and the UK for policy inspiration. My only consolation during this wild ride is that: things could always have been worse.

    Ollie and the girls send greetings and cordial tail wags to Sir Sancho, smoochie dog extraordinaire! The now sadly demised Dame Scritchy once did that trick with me and I ended up in the local day hospital on a drip after a jab of anti-nausea… Other times I was fine. Still, my immune system possibly learned some much needed lessons! πŸ™‚

    Oh yeah, I’d never thought of a gap year that way. I recall that after my final Secondary School exam I may have had a week off before commencing a job on a production line – making the old 5+1/4″ floppy disks. Grand Tours weren’t even on my mind, and I actually enjoyed the work. Ah yes, there may have been some debauched drinking on such Grand Tours from what I’ve heard. Aussies allegedly had something of a reputation for such things over in Europe.

    Wow! Your summer has been surprisingly hot.

    Now I just read that Muntjac (a term I had not heard before) are wild deer descended from escapees from the Woburn Abbey. Who’d have thunk it? Sir Sancho may be discussing philosophical concepts with the small deer? You never know. I spotted a herd of deer in the valley below the farm this morning. Ollie keeps them out of the orchard, but the stag is big.

    Cheers

    Chris

  55. @ Lew:

    “So, when you pick up the batteries, will you run the military cordon sanitaire? Hire a lorry, put a false bottom in it, and run people from one side to the other. I hear it’s a lucrative, trade.”

    You are always so funny!

    Pam

  56. @ Xabier:

    Thanks for the mention of muntjacs. I had to look them up, too. Our dogs liked to chase our big deer here. They would have been thrilled beyond belief to meet up with such little ones.

    Pam

  57. Hi DJ,

    The weather in your part of the world may be descending towards winter, but we are ascending towards summer. Monday marks the first day of Medium UV (previously Low UV) for the season, and it does feel slightly warmer. Although your over night minimum of 10’C was our maximum temperature today. There must be something in the water that’s for sure. πŸ™‚ Those sorts of days which you are enjoying are the best of all.

    Tried the local pub this evening for a take away dinner (they’re closed under the Stage 3 rural lock down, but it is better here than Melbourne where an 8pm curfew applies) and was suitably impressed. Pizza, pasta and cans of dark ale, and all was good with the world. My expectations are few, but my cup of dark ale brimmeth over (that all sounds very biblical don’t you reckon?)

    Exactly about the supply chain interruptions. I’ve been mildly anxious (not a usual state of being for me) about replacing the house batteries. Interestingly someone was telling me that the large Asian country which dare not be named, is not big on making lithium batteries. Kudos to Toto! My mates of the big shed fame have two canned terriers and a couple of Maremma’s. Having dropped from five dogs to three dogs, and they have four, I may have repeated their own words back to them recently about being the crazy dog folks. Now funny for me, but perhaps not for them!

    Speaking of dogs, I don’t rightly know how we have ended up with a trio of working dogs because even half a decade ago I wouldn’t have chosen any of these current working dogs.

    You were very lucky to have done those two courses and had that education. Out of curiosity have you been able to apply the tools learned during the courses to your life and job?

    That observation of yours is a bit like the saying you occasionally hear down here: What’s good about it? What’s not good about it? But yeah, the larger point is that I would immediately ban political donations and deport all pollsters who get their poll results too far from the actual median result. That would sharpen up both of them lots quick smart! πŸ˜‰

    Yeah, it was Mr Greer who alerted me to the story too, and yes it was covered extensively. He made mention that he was considering penning an ecology book. That would be interesting.

    I don’t frankly know enough about the vast movement of bees for commercial pollination services to make a sensible reply. I do know that the bees here do not like being moved at all, and the European honey bees are about the only insect around that can pollinate almonds. The bees were flying around today and I did spot some blossoms on the almonds.

    Good luck with the weeds. A never ending job, that’s for sure.

    Your lady is right to do so. Take heart that we have less than a dozen rolls to hand, but I maybe in the delightful land of hubris-ville…

    Cheers

    Chris

  58. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for understanding, and you would be most welcome to attend a pub night. The pub could most certainly accommodate such beverages. It is a very cosy atmosphere and I usually try to nab a table near to the open wood fire. The pub is now sadly closed for dine in, but we tested their take out services this evening and were suitably impressed. A Capricciosa Pizza, Amatriciana Pasta with a couple of cans of dark ale. It was very tasty and I will be back for more. I’ll tell ya what though, it is very quiet in the mountain range this weekend.

    In the eternal search for the best bakery products in the area I must add a note of award goes to a most excellent Coffee Scroll which I wolfed down whilst yakking away on the phone earlier this evening. As a guy I’m usually able to get away with telling folks that I’m limited to doing one thing at a time, but exceptions can be occasionally made for excellent bakery products.

    Ah well, believe it or not, the batteries are being delivered here, so that should save me having to run the checkpoint gauntlet. You know, I’m not looking forward to testing that checkpoint system – which is I guess the point of it all. I heard a news report that suggested that 40% of the working population now have some form of government assistance. It is quite staggering really. I hope some future author takes the time to write about this story.

    Actually, if someone were to build a pub on the driveway / path interchange I might be up for that. I don’t know about fast food because watching the film Clerks II, kind of gave me a view of operations that I didn’t really want or need.

    Yeah, right on! Actually a few months ago I believe I may have seen a squad of youngsters from juvie working in a park in Melbourne spreading epic piles of woody mulch and planting out native grasses. They worked really hard and did a good job over a huge area. It looks pretty good and they seemed to be enjoying the work. Anyway, someone has to break rocks if only because smaller rocks are useful items for say, road base. An inch of rain fell last night and it is a bit damp outside and when we fix the driveway, I will actually have to place down road base rocks into the clay – otherwise things will not be good.

    For the moment I can break up Moby rocks with carbon steel bits, but who knows what the future will hold? Probably not carbon steel bits that’s for sure. Although carbon into iron was known from ancient times.

    Oh no! I forgot about the tampering with national treasure lyrics law and mate, I may have to skip the country. The lynch mobs are feral once they get a taste for brains, I mean blood. πŸ˜‰

    Strange women tugging on your beard, well I’d be more worried that the Elder folks of the forest take umbrage at your beard. They may pull the beard whilst tweaking your nose. Unpleasant folk, but not to self: be polite to them and don’t accept any favours and/or gifts.

    The Akubra hat will stand the test of time and it is actually a grey colour thus proving I am one of the good people (just like the characters out of Cormac McCarthy’s book the Road). An astute observation about the bad guys all wearing black Akubra hats.

    I’d probably do an OK job of it, although people probably wouldn’t much like me for doing that job which needed doing. Dunno. But basically if they all left me alone I’d be happy with that. Do you reckon that is a possibility?

    Weren’t the Celtic torques often made of gold? Wouldn’t that make a person an instant target? But then it might keep them sharp and at the top of their game too. Hmm. Not sure about that one.

    Mate the vibe down here is very weird. This six week thing is getting to people.

    Thanks for the heads up and An American Pickle does sounds like a fun and interesting movie. I like Seth Rogen, he’s a very good actor. Oh no, you’ve mentioned the series ‘Picard’ again. Damo will not be happy at all over there in the Western part of the continent. I’ll check out the ‘Lower Decks’ as it could be interesting.

    Are these the same beans which survived your winter months? If they are I’m impressed.

    Yeah that stopping of festivals and pretty much most stuff has been a bit of a thing down here so that makes sense about the Antique fair. I am now left wondering if the agricultural shows we go to will be even running – and I have my doubts about that.

    Better get to bed. Feeling sleepy.

    Cheers

    Chris

  59. @ Xabier – During the Great Toilet Paper Famine of 2020, I actually traded some toilet paper for canned (tinned?) goods. Not that I needed the tinned goods. But, I thought, here in Senior Housing, that I ought to float the idea of barter. Lew

  60. Yo, Chris – Your coffee scrolls sound like our cinnamon rolls. Available in those pressurized tubes, in your local dairy case. The kind you smack against the table edge, to open. Or, you can make them from scratch. They’re pretty simple.

    Gray Akubra hat = someone who is basically good, but has their moments. Bears watching. πŸ™‚ .

    Torque wearers were usually warriors, who carried big axes. I always wondered how they got them on and off. Did one end unscrew? Or, maybe because gold is so soft, you just unbent it a bit and then bent it back?

    12 new cases, and then 6. One was less than 10 years old, and a couple of teen agers. Our school districts have not known if to poop or go blind, over re-opening the schools. Looking like that is going to be a negative. One of the 12 is in hospital. That hasn’t happened in awhile.

    When I ran up to the antique mall, yesterday, I decided I’d take a spin up Tower Avenue, just to take a look. Lots of parked cars, but, lots of empty shopfronts and “for lease” signs. But then, I’ve seen it just as bad, before. Once I did an informal survey, and it was about 40% vacancy rate.

    Even though they were running a sale, I found bumpus at the antique mall. By the way, that corn sheller does have a big cast iron turn wheel. It’s against a wall, so, was hard to see. So, I took a stroll across the street to the op shop. Score! Ephemera πŸ™‚ . A 1931 wall calendar put out by the McCormick Reaper Co.. For their 100th birthday. It had a nice print of Cyrus McCormick, giving his first mechanical reaper (horse drawn) a test run. But the cool thing is, the print is by N. C. Wyeth (Andrew’s father.) The calendar is in great shape. None of the little rip off months are missing. It’s in a crappy frame, but, that’s probably why it’s been preserved. It was a bit pricey, but, as near as I can tell from the internet, I paid slightly less than market value. Whatever that is.

    As the library is not producing, I stopped by Yardbirds, today, to see if the old DVD guy ($1 a pop) was open. Well, he’s gone. Retired. But, the book guy has DVDs and had a rack of 5 for $1. I managed to scrape together 5 that looked interesting. A Vincent Price, a Bela Lugosi, something on searching for the Holy Grail. Something on Hmong Shamans in America. Plus, he was selling all his books for 2 for $1. Picked up 4 on one sort of collectible, or another.

    When I was looking at the parking lot lights, and wondering about the lack of bugs, I also realized that I haven’t heard frogs, in ever so long. I think you’re thinking of the peas, last winter. Plenty of foliage, and flowers, just no peas. I think I’m going to try again, but plant them earlier. I might have better luck. I’ve got 4 feet of green beans, and, they’re just loaded with flowers and small bean starts. Not to count my beans, before they hatch, but, it looks good.

    When I picked up H for her walk, this morning, she made a sound I hadn’t heard before. Just, generally grouchy. I told her I wasn’t a morning person, either. Lew

  61. Hi Pam,

    Well there you go. My tired brain said to me last night that you left a message, but no. Anyway I am unperturbed by this abrupt turn of events and will mention in passing that I do hope you enjoy the photo of the deer on tomorrow’s blog. πŸ™‚

    Oh no! I stand corrected and you did leave a comment. A sign of the times perhaps? πŸ™‚

    Just to quote the 1986 film: Highlander (in relation to the dump trucks): There can be only one!

    Sorry, small things amusing small minds and all that.

    Just make sure that if any components of the trucks fall and roll that nobody is anywhere in the vicinity.

    Cheers

    Chris

  62. Hi Inge,

    Ah, this may put a whole new light on the subject of the sting. Now I don’t know how European honey bees live in other parts of the world, but down here in the forest they take up residence in tree hollows. Tree hollows are only found on the oldest trees of the forests. The newer trees are greedy and deny residence for the forest critters. Tree hollows are hot property and their lack is often the reason why regrowth forests are bizarrely quiet places and mostly devoid of life.

    However, wasps live in the ground and can excavate little cavities and burrows for their hive. Insect identification is a lost art these days, and I’d suggest that your niece was perhaps stung by a wasp. Now the dratted European wasps can sting multiple times, unlike the European honey bees which die after the first sting. Honey bee sting have to be physically removed from the wound.

    Always has it been thus with the horsemen. How could we forget and believe that they were vanquished?

    Cheers

    Chris

  63. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, cinnamon roll is a pretty close equivalent, although coffee scrolls have a brown coffee flavoured (mild) icing on their lid. They’re very tasty items, although for the record and after extensive testing (purely for research purposes, of course) they’re not all of the same quality. I’ve heard rumours that some bakery products sold down here as being baked fresh is another way of alerting folks to the possible facts that the dough could have been made many months back and half a world away. Such long and intriguing supply lines boggles my mind for such a simple product. So yeah, as you suggest: Bake from scratch. At the local bakery I picked the coffee scroll up from you get glimpses of the kitchen and prep area and know that you are onto a good thing. I was scratching my head as to why the place smelled of disinfectant though. Oh well, they have no cases in that nearby town and were proud of it – a sign said so. Hubris.

    Years and years ago I used to purchase chocolate / muesli biscuits from a cafΓ© which baked them from scratch on the premises. Having ridden my push bike to work I could eat like a horse and the biscuits really stopped the hungries. So one weekend they painted the kitchen in the cafΓ© and it took about two weeks for the biscuits to stop tasting like paint odour. Revolting.

    Oh no, my secret is out. You may suggest the clause: ‘bears watching’, and I reply with the words: ‘flexible’ and ‘nuanced’, although my command of the English language is not so good due to a rubbish education and I might not understand what those two words actually mean. πŸ˜‰

    Wearing gold torques around a person’s neck in such times would be a challenge to all and sundry. Perhaps like the fictional character Conan the Barbarian, the unrelenting onslaught of challengers kept the warriors sharp? And unwittingly provided prizes for the effort of the challenge. A bit like the Olympics, but with more sharp steel and far more bloodshed. You know, being a fetish it is possible that the torques were locked in place for the wearers.

    The schools are closed down here and are now in distance learning mode. From what I’m hearing parents are getting a firsthand account of how their kids are faring in the systems – and it is not all smelling of roses. Mate, we haven’t had a curfew here in like, forever (that is down with the kids talk).

    Don’t you ever wonder where the people in the parked cars are? Very occasionally I’ll observe a lot of parked cars around the local general store, but then inside the store it is really quiet. Where are the people? I’ll bet Mr King could pen an awesome short story about that particular mystery.

    During the recession in the early 1990’s there was a huge glut of office space in the big smoke. Now I don’t actually know the details as to how some of those buildings were converted to student accommodation. The two big Universities (Melbourne University and my old alma mater the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology University – a true mouthful) expanded their courses and attracted overseas students to attend whom ended up living in those conversion. I can’t be certain but that revenue source sure has dried up for them of late. Their business models might be toast. Back when I was a student there, overseas students were the merest of trickles. I recall a discussion with a lecturer who just casually dropped into the conversation how much pressure the overseas kids gave them if their marks slipped into the fail category. And the lecturer reminded me that a mere pass grade still represented that a person failed to grapple with just under half of the course work.

    A 40% vacancy rate is brutal. And I heard an opinion expressed once which suggested that vacant commercial premises spread like a cancer.

    The word: Bumpus has all sorts of meanings from Norman origins to African American usage. And over in the UK it is apparently an incredibly intelligent being with superior knowledge of all things. Plus the dread Bumpus enjoys the finest Scottish Short Bread Biscuits, and so is alright by me. I told you the ongoing quest for the finest bakery products was a real and worthy thing. Mate, people have scoffed, but phooey to them, the Bumpus is real. πŸ™‚

    I was interested that on the print of the first mechanical reaper that a bloke was riding the draught horse which pulled the mechanism. That must have been one strong horse. Also of interest was the height of the grain crop as the variety was low in height and must have been selected for easy mechanical threshing. And also it must have been somewhat of a hot day as the adoring onlookers wore hats and bonnets, and the ladies carried umbrellas to protect themselves from the hot sun. You still occasionally see that use for umbrellas on hot days down here. It is a great print and I liked it a lot.

    Sorry to hear that the old DVD guy has ceased trading. Makes you wonder what he did with all of his stock? Monty Python had a very nice take on the story of the Holy Grail, although I’m guessing that your DVD did not cover that particular adaptation. Vincent Price, and Bela Lugosi, well you are in for a treat. Did you get a chance to watch any of the DVD’s? Haven’t watched any films or series for quite a while, but maybe I’m sulking my socks off a bit due to the closure of the cinemas. I enjoy my patterns and habits, but yeah one must bend with the prevailing winds. I do worry about people going on serious series TV watching binges as it kind of reminds me of my old computer game playing days/binges, and so for good reasons I feel nervous for them. But they’ll be fine, I guess. Are your inmates delving into TV binges?

    Well, frogs eat insects and so it is hard to have one without the other. Yes, thank you for the correction I was thinking about your peas from last winter. I may have managed to scrape two peas through this recent Antarctic low cut off pressure system, but I haven’t been game to see how they fared. The broad-beans (garbanzo beans) shook off the cold weather with aplomb. Honestly pea plants do my head in. They have to be planted at exactly the right time, and I’m a bit slap dash for that, but I still keep trying. I once grew a good batch of snow peas that were ready to eat by Christmas (your late June) and a mate (who moved back to New Zealand) ate most of them from the bush. Oh well.

    H is sensible in not being a morning dog. Respect for H, and hope that she is feeling OK.

    Better get writing!

    Cheers

    Chris

  64. Hello again
    Definitely bees but not honey bees. They were ground bees. I believe that allergy to wasp stings does not produce anaphylactic
    shock.
    Mind you, bees and wasps seem to nest everywhere and anywhere here. A friend had honey bees in the wall of a caravan; honey was dripping out. A beekeeper came and removed those.

    Inge

  65. Yo, Chris – 10 new cases, yesterday. One went to hospital. Through most of this, here in our county, no one landed in hospital. But now, recently, it seems like several have. Virus getting more virulent? Our health department, also said the other day, that 7% of those who test positive, have no symptoms.

    I saw a headline that down in California, vast numbers of the field workers, are testing positive. That’s where most of our fresh stuff, and a lot of the frozen, comes from. Which brings me to this article, from our local newspaper.

    http://www.chronline.com/community/from-peanut-butter-to-applesauce-washington-state-stockpiles-tons-of-food-for-the-need-ahead/article_10a05d2e-d9a8-11ea-93b5-0b28b9c027e8.html

    But is there toilet paper?

    People who use words like “flexible” and “nuanced”, “bear watching.” Did you see that weasel? πŸ™‚ .

    Of course, I have no skin in the game, but when thinking about schools not reopening, for, say a year, I think, given the quality of education these days, do kids miss out on much? School districts will be hard pressed, as they’re State and Federal money usually depends on number of students. Then there’s the whole issue of child care. Schools are often seen as convenient places to park the kids, while mom and dad go out to work. There’s the whole issue of on-line learning. The theory sounds good, but, when you’ve got crap internet connections, as we do in so much of our country, on-line learning is a problem. By the way, our local PUD (Public Utility District, aka The Electric Company) is doing studies into getting in the internet business. But it won’t be soon.

    The Universities here, are in a bind. Foreign students on visas can only take so many hours of on-line classes. If it’s all on-line, they loose their visas. It’s a quirk in the law, that hasn’t been very important, before. Students are also revolting a bit, as they chaff at paying the full toll, and not getting the full university “experience.” You know. The beer busts and spring breaks. The insane devotion to college sports. Being able to get out from under mom and dad’s thumbs.

    I figure all those people in the parked cars are at a party somewhere … to which I haven’t been invited πŸ™‚ .

    Ooops. I meant to say “bumkis.” A Yiddish word meaning “absolutely nothing.”

    I think Cyrus McCormick looks very smart, all kitted out in his tails and carrying his top hat in his hand. The very picture of, “I’m very successful, and know what I’m doing.” I was thinking, the crowd was very much like what a crowd would have looked like, at the tail end of “The Awakening Land.” And, N. C. Wyeth was a stickler for authentic detail.

    I watched the DVD about the Holy Grail, last night. I was a bit skeptical, but, it was pretty good. A documentary off TLC (The Learning Channel.) Lots of scholarly talking heads and great footage of the contenders, and their surroundings. And, of course, Arthur and the Knights Templar were touched on. A discussion of the “relics trade” in the Middle Ages.

    I really don’t know about the TV watching habits of the Inmates, here at the Institution. But, half the population being deaf, I hear a lot of TV’s blaring.

    Oh, H is fine. I think she was just grumpy because she maybe didn’t get a good night’s sleep. If Eleanor doesn’t get a good night’s sleep (happens, occasionally), then neither does H. She gets her bath, by the way, this afternoon. She’ll have a good splash in the tub. Lew

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