A post about fences (a fence post)

The first of the seasons strawberries ripened this week. Over my life, I’ve purchased many strawberries from markets and farm shops, but nothing, and I really mean nothing, prepares you for the explosion of taste that is a sun ripened strawberry plucked directly from the bush.

The warmer late spring sunshine produced the first of the ripe strawberries

We’ve been growing strawberries for about five or six years now. I recall the heady days of the first year or two of the strawberry harvest. We had more strawberries than we even knew what to do with. Once during those days we baked a strawberry cake and it failed completely because we’d put too many strawberries in the mix. Not to worry, we fed the failed-to-set-cake to the chickens who greedily and quickly sucked it all back.

With the berry harvest we make strawberry wine (which is delightful) and also the strawberries produce a very tasty jam which is second only to my favourite jam produced from figs.

All good things eventually come to an end. By about the third year, every bird, animal and insect in the surrounding forest had also developed a taste for strawberries. Even the dogs developed a taste for our strawberries. And as all of that lot harvested more of the delectable berries, we harvested less, until finally one year we failed to get more than a cup full of berries. Even worse, by that time we were frankly afraid to venture into the strawberry patch because somehow leeches had managed to set up shop!

There are few fences on the farm, and the wildlife gets to enjoy mostly free access to the gardens and orchard. Most of the time this situation poses only minor difficulties.

A large bull kangaroo grazes the grass in the paddock below the house this morning

However, the situation with the strawberries was so dire (because every single berry had been consistently consumed) that we decided to fence out every other creature (other than ourselves of course).

Fencing the old strawberry enclosure meant placing a heavy duty woven nylon bird net over the old enclosure. I thought that that would be good enough. It turns out that it was not even close to being good enough. Every animal that could, ripped holes in the heavy duty woven nylon bird netting (no easy feat). And then they broke in through the holes. Where they couldn’t break in, they simply squashed the netting onto the plants, ripped a hole in the netting and then ate the strawberries.

There finally became so many small (and large wallaby sized) holes in the bird netting, that the birds could actually get into the old strawberry enclosure and consume strawberries to their hearts content. Unfortunately getting out again was a problem for the birds. And the canine fluffy collective used to love nothing more than assisting the ‘ordinarily too fast for the fluffies’ birds that had become trapped. If I didn’t mange to release the birds, the canines would eventually manage to kill them through the netting. And the dogs would use their bone sharpened teeth to rip new holes in the netting in an attempt to eat the strawberry filled parrots. It was brutal, and so after a few weeks, I removed the tattered bird netting and destroyed it. The wildlife thanked me, because they rapidly destroyed the plants and any berries!

If we ever wanted to eat sun ripened strawberries that were grown here, then something had to be done.

Since then, we’ve abandoned the old strawberry enclosure to the wildlife, and planted nice neat rows of strawberry runners on the new terrace that was constructed earlier this year.

The steel fencing around the strawberry enclosure has not yet been finished and so the local parrots (Crimson Rosella’s) have been gorging themselves on all of the berries.

Two (and possibly more) Crimson Rosella’s are waiting to do a smash and grab on my strawberries

After watching the antics of the local parrots in the new strawberry enclosure, we decided that we had to convert the strawberry enclosure into a completely enclosed steel fruit cage. And after a days work, we had part of the supporting steel for the roof installed.

After a days work, we’d installed some of the supporting steel for the roof of the fruit cage

Observant readers will note in the photo above that the doors are a bit higher than the roof of the fruit cage. I had to modify both security doors (which we picked up at the local tip shop) so as to lower them in height. And after that was completed, we installed the remaining steel supports for the wire mesh roof that will be hopefully put in place over the next week. Until then, the parrots are having a serious party in there with my strawberries!

Toothy and Scritchy climb the stairs next to the strawberry enclosure

As these things often go, now that we have a near complete 11m / 36ft long fruit cage, we thought to ourselves: why not plant some other plants in there? And so we headed off the farm on a journey to find some grape vines to plant in the strawberry enclosure (or more appropriately named: fruit cage).

That adventure was not as easy to fulfil as you would at first believe. Eventually the garden club (Diggers) came through with eight different varieties of grape vines – and we planted them late this afternoon.

The author points to one of the many variety of grape vines planted in the fruit cage

It was on the quest to purchase grape vines that we discovered that the largest plant nursery in the area has been sold. The business had been running for several decades, and it sits on a large land holding. I wonder if the land may be redeveloped as houses, if only because the business appeared to be clearing all of its stock. Who knows?

Anyway, if someone purchased the huge size of land (let alone paying for any goodwill or business infrastructure), they’d probably end up making such a huge outlay that it might be hard for them to make any return on their investment. Not being funny, but you have to sell a lot of grape vines in order to pay for a huge mortgage.

I read an article in the newspaper a few weeks ago which was bemoaning the decline of business start ups in this country. Bonkers property prices are part of that story because it is hard to start (or purchase) a business when you have to outlay a humongous quantity of mad cash, or sign up to a – really extraordinarily hard to get out of and expensive lease – in order to simply house your business. And that is before you’ve even begun having to sell stuff and things to other people. These act as barriers to entry for people who may want to start their own business.

Alert readers may well note that it is not only the physical fences that you can see and feel, that keep other creatures off the strawberries!

This week, in between delightful late spring warmth and sunshine, the rain was occasionally very heavy:

Earlier in the week, the rain was very heavy

Long term readers will recall that in the past two years massive branches have fallen off one very large, and very old tree. Some people may view this as a nuisance, I on the other hand view this as a thoughtful gift of the forest towards our firewood coffers. Firewood is like mad cash in the bank, but far better on a cold winters night!

Last year I employed some blokes I know to assist with cutting up the fallen branches. They did a great job, but left us with a huge mess to clean up. Burn off restrictions are coming into force on Monday, so we had to clean up the entire area. This task involved burning off all of the small branches and dead leaves. But everything that could be recovered and used as firewood, was moved (by hand using a wheelbarrow) out into a sunny spot. That included cutting all of the larger chunks into much smaller and usable chunks.

Two huge branches produced two piles of firewood. One ready to store and another that has to be split further

Despite the firewood being out in the rain, the sun will provide more than enough energy to dry it all before being stored away for the winter in the firewood shed. As you can see in the photo above, some of the wood still has to be split before it is usable as firewood.

The sun and regular rainfall is providing a huge amount of energy to the plants. It is really green here now as can be seen in this next photo looking up towards the house, tomato enclosure and shady orchard.

Looking up towards the house, tomato enclosure and the shady orchard. It’s green!

And yesterday, I finally busted the charming Sir Scruffy in the act of digging a hole outside of the machinery shed.

A dog act! Sir Scruffy the charming is totally busted in the act. He looks innocent, but don’t believe the hype!

For some strange reason that I can’t explain, Sir Scruffy has been digging a small hole outside of the machinery shed. Then he has been eating the rich soil in that spot. And until yesterday I’d been uncertain which dog/s had been digging the hole, but now I know (although the why of it escapes me). This has been going on for years. No wonder he is so heavy – he’s full of dirt.

In a plant news update:

The fronds on some of the tree ferns planted over the winter are unfurling
Corn cam (TM) shows that the corn is getting bigger. We now have a 43% germination rate
Raspberries are not far away from ripening
Potatoes are going feral and producing flowers
Almonds are filling out – and this year they look bigger than previous years
Lemons are coming to the end of their season – and I’ll have to pick them all soon and freeze the juice
It looks as though it will be a good year for quince
The recent -2’C frost destroyed most of the apricot harvest. A couple of dozen fruit have survived
Despite the dearth of apricots, it looks like the apples will more than make up for the loss
This Anzac peach has produced an extraordinary quantity of fruit
Spider orchids are all over the farm
Mosses in the paddock have begun producing flowers
Japanese maples are producing seeds

Onto the flowers:

Salvia’s are just lovely and really hardy
This mint scented geranium produces delicate flowers
A rose scented geranium produces much larger flowers
It’s rhody time
It’s rhody time
A gazinnia happily grows in between a local mother shield fern and an alkanet
California poppies and cat mint make a great pair

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 17’C (63’F). So far this year there has been 785.0mm (30.9 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 769.8mm (30.3 inches).

66 thoughts on “A post about fences (a fence post)”

  1. Hi Inge,


    I have no idea really what to make of the yard stick of IQ. It measures some things, whilst ignoring other aspects of a person’s life. I’ve known plenty of smart people, who have higher IQ’s than myself, and it appears to me that there is a certain attitude of: Well, I’ve achieved that, and so I can rest on my laurels and feel as if I enjoy a high status. That maybe so about the high status, but converting ideas into action is a skill that not that many folks appear to be able to lay claim to. And maybe it is just me, but there is a certain sort of learned helplessness that permeates society, whilst way back in the day, that used to be called out by the blunt description of: lazy. Dunno, but people seem pretty comfortable.

    Don’t get me wrong, I value a high IQ too, it is just that at some point in a person’s life, the skills have to be put to the test – and that requires common sense and action.

    It is a fascinating line of discussion, and I’ve read articles claiming that people, and children in particular, now have higher IQ’s than previously. It is a bizarre claim because we are essentially the same animals that lived several millennia ago. However, excluding the act of removing lead from petrol which may well have assisted in that regard, I do wonder whether nowadays we are teaching to the test – and thus the outcome? And if we are teaching to the test, what has been lost, in order for that gain to occur?

    As always you raise a complicated point of view. Respect!



  2. Hi Margaret,

    What a disaster. Out of curiosity, what type of voting system applies in your old county? Down here we have a system of Preferential Voting / Ranked Voting for the lower house (the House of Representatives), and Proportional representation in the upper house (the Senate). Generally, we end up with the most preferred candidate for an electorate so that there is usually not that much whingeing about the result from the population or the political parties. Mind you, the position of Prime Minister was never included in the constitution and so they change fairly regularly. Anyway, I reckon that is a good thing because several of them have displayed the erratic nature of people who are close to a ‘burn out’. Not good, and in recent years some notable politicians have cited mental health reasons for stepping back from the unrelenting demands of the job. I wonder about how your President manages the unrelenting stress of the job at his age.

    Yeah, at some point the electorate says that “we’ve had enough and we’ll try anything different” – and that is an interesting point to arrive at in history. 😉 Incidentally, I see no reason at all why the candidate that you referred to wouldn’t do an excellent job for the electorate that may have placed her there. Down here that expresses itself as a vote for the third parties and independents. It is worthwhile noting that an independent only very recently replaced the former Prime Minister who was in an otherwise ‘safe seat’. Thus proving that ‘safe’ is a word that has little to any real meaning!

    Hehe! I would have done no less given your circumstances. 🙂 A fine choice. The cinema is a good option too, and I have noticed that attendance often rises on very hot and very cold days…

    Yeah, the IQ question is a complex one, and my thoughts are the same as yours. In my comment to Inge, I raised some interesting questions about that metric, but I don’t really know. When I read your reply my brain recalled stories of Michael or Patrick working at the local grocery store and assisting customers with packing and moving their bags to their vehicles. My minds eye sees them really enjoying that role along, with all of the interactions with the community that they probably would have loved.

    Isn’t it an enjoyable feeling to engage a group of people for several hours? Did they ask a lot of questions, and discuss some of their own experiences (good and/or bad)?

    I could use Doug’s deer skills here, although I have had an offer from a neighbour along those lines. The deer have stripped the bark off another apple – and the editor suggested that they may be harvesting the sugary sap from the trees for early next spring when the trees are about to break their dormancy? I guess the deer can play a long game too.

    I was feeling cold just reading about your below freezing weather, although it was 90’F here today which felt really nice. Tomorrow looks about the same, and then rain.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    What an uncanny thought, that probably is close to the core of the truth of the matter. Here is the article: Australian firefighters spent hours hiding from US shooters who ‘pointed rifles at them’, report reveals. You sure do live in an interesting country! And the editor tells me that your President has apparently tweeted about future funding and forest management. He may be onto something if that is the case. I feel that forest management is not done, because suppression is a cheaper alternative that gets less feathers ruffled – despite the horrendous costs. I once had the good fortune to speak with a local politician about the situation and that person explained that whenever back burning was brought up, the politicians office was inundated with complaints as inane as: “the proposed burn off is going to ruin my daughters 21st birthday”. I wish it were not true, because the consequences of the current practices are not good.

    It will be interesting to see whether any of the celebrities impacted by the fires throw their weight behind changes to management practices of the landscape that surrounds their houses – some of which have appear to have been destroyed? The news reports here this morning suggest that a much larger number of people had been evacuated from their homes.

    A bit of that cheap land sale thing went on after the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires. I recall one very famous comedian suggesting that his property (which he’d lost a lot of props and memorabilia in the fires) was the largest cigarette ash tray on the planet. Those sorts of things used to be nicknamed: Fire sales.

    What an interesting contrast. Down here, the opposite is true and a properties value is higher if it has no trees on it, if only because the vegetation controls allow for clear fell only when the trees were deliberately planted for harvesting – and even then I would be very cautious if the trees were Eucalyptus species. I reckon Pine species would be mostly OK, but even then I’d check first – as emotions can flare easily and the fines can be meaty.

    Fair enough, and avoiding the social obligation is one of the great benefits of money. What a sticky morass of complicated goo is the social obligation! Usually I turn people down, unless I can see some long term exchange which will be beneficial to both parties. We don’t live in times that favour the social obligation – even though I’ve met plenty of folks who pretend that it is otherwise, and then try to game that arrangement. Such an act reflects poorly upon them.

    On the other hand, if the ladies take action to remedy poor Steve’s oversight, then that it is just teaching the social rules (and Steve learning them) – and how can rules be expected to be known in advance, if they were never first declared? The editor and I took it upon ourselves to remedy the social lack in the group that I spoke about. Most people had a great time, and we got crushed – how wrong did we read that situation? We then hung around for the next year to ensure that we hadn’t misinterpreted the result, and no we read it spot on.

    Run, Lewis, run! Far out, a computer generated news anchor. That is a new one to me. What could possibly go wrong… I believe actors can be replaced by computer graphics nowadays – and that forms part of their contracts.

    I do recall Max Headroom! And the actor Matt Frewer who played the character Max has worked reasonably consistently for years. There is something to be said about: Slow and surely win’s the race. It’s true! And not annoying vast quantities of potential employers seems like a good idea too – they hold grudges! 😉

    Pah, there were trucks in Lord of the Rings. Surely the machines of Saruman of the many colours demanded the use of trucks? Maybe. Interestingly, I’ve noticed that the state government is busy installing long cables on either side of the major freeway here. It is an epic job and the amount of steel being used is amazing to behold. The purported use is for safety barriers and I can’t argue with that story, but at the back of my mind, a little whisper tells me that the barriers might make it easier for self driving cars – which to put it mildly would have a very hard time of deciphering the complexities of a road and its surrounding environment in real time, without the sort of simplification that the long cables on either side of the road will provide. I’m pretty sure future generations will be grateful for the handy steel left deposited conveniently all around the landscape.

    I like thick fog as it gives the trees a bit of a drink of water, and there is something slightly mysterious about it. Sometimes when fog blows in here, I can smell the salt in the air (from the southern ocean).

    Oh! What a trickster of a raven to play dead! 🙂 Nice work! The parrots have been busily gorging themselves on strawberries. No shame at all, that lot!

    Putting the mason bees into a box for the winter is a great idea. I have to open up one of the bee boxes here pretty soon and move the follower boards. They’re very active! At times you can hear the loud buzz around the flowering garden beds. Happy bees!

    Isn’t it amazing how long the tomatoes stay on the vine for? But yeah, down here they’d be about done by now too.



  4. Hi Chris,

    Just a sneaky phone comment to get me on the discussion emails 🙂 I read with some concern the weather updates from your US readers as Mrs Damo and I are camping around a few national parks in CA, AZ and UT. But with a good sleeping bag, and several layers of clothing I slept warmly in about 20 F / – 7 C. Mrs Damo did require a second sleeping bag and an extra layer of clothes to get the same effect. Comments might have been made about my built-in insulating layers 🙂 I can now see why most campgrounds here shut for the winter, I certainly wouldn’t want to be in a tent in much colder weather.

    Hmm, looks like my co-travelers are beginning to stir. Talk and action will soon flow to breakfast!


  5. Hello Chris
    Wonderful photo of the strawberries; I salivate.
    Son wants to know if you have any good ways of cleaning wine bottles for re-use. He has some bottles that are not the standard shape and simply cannot get them clean.
    IQs:- The following comments are just things that I have been told so I can’t vouch for accuracy.
    1 You can’t teach to the test. Yes, 2 hours coaching but nothing further will make any difference. That was one of the reasons they were useful for grammar school scholarships.
    2 IQs try to return to the mean; so high IQ parents tend to have children less intelligent than themselves. Parents with IQs below the mean tend to have children more intelligent than themselves.

    Of course there are many other attributes that we have in varying degrees. So lets put physical and mental health first followed by common sense, initiative and persistence. Add what you like. Even then one mustn’t decry Aspergers and autism, I am sure that they are necessary for certain things, hence their continuance in the human race and no doubt lots more.


  6. Yo, Chris – How about them strawberries! :-). So now you have a strawberry / grape / terrace / fortress? One does, what one must. I think I mentioned I found a patch, here at the Home. Unfortunately, at the end of the season. But I still got a quart in the freezer. Next year I’ll go at them hard, and see what I come up with.

    Land leeches. Only in Australia. :-). Of course, here we have land sharks and sharknados. :-).

    That kangaroo is quit a big fellow! I wouldn’t want to get on his bad side. Just a few days ago, I read a reference to a population of wild kangaroos, 50 km southwest of Paris. Inquiring minds want to know, so down the rabbit hole I went. Yup. They are there. But, as with most “kangaroo” sitings, WORLDWIDE, they’re actually wallabies. Wikipedia pretty much covers the topic under “Phantom Kangaroos.” There may also be small breeding populations in the wilds of Britain. There have been (maybe) isolated sightings, here in the States. Margaret might want to keep an eye out. :-). I suppose, given the stories of your, and our camels, anything is possible.

    I suppose if you ask around, casually, you may discover what’s going on with the plant nursery land. What you hear may be completely fabricated. But then again, might be accurate. Our big Raintree Nursery, in this county, was recently sold. I don’t know any of the details, but it appears to be continuing on as a nursery. Sometimes, sellers accept lessor offers (on lots of things) if they think the buyer will “keep the dream going.” As in Julia’s getting three alpacas (and one very large sheep) for free. I think a bit of that was going on when I got the Wedgewood plate, for a lot less than the asking price. The going-to-a-good-home-where-it-will-be-appreciated syndrome.

    That’s a lot of firewood. And, a lot of work. To my uneducated eye, probably more than two cords.

    I found an article that may shed a bit of light on Sir Scruffy’s dirt digging and eating.


    Maybe there’s something interesting, down there. Or, he thinks there is. Or, he’s bored. Maybe, just sending you up :-). Maybe it’s a hobby? Perhaps he needs a 12 Step Program? Cont.

  7. Cont. The tree ferns make that corner of your farm look quit prehistoric. As garden gnomes are off the table, maybe a concrete dinosaur or two? Maybe, an anamotronic dinosaur! That moves and roars!

    Your corn is off to a good start. Are you sure that germination rate isn’t 42%? Or, 44%? :-).

    Quince, apple, peach, apricots. Even with the occasional crop failure, your bound to have a bumper crop of something. Old Man Starvation will not be visiting Fern Glade Farm. The maples are a gift that just keeps on giving, year ’round.

    I hadn’t heard about the Australian firefighters being shot at, so down the rabbit hole, I went. Much to my horror, I discovered the incident happened, not in the mara-hoochie rich growing area of California, but at White Pass. Which is at the eastern end of MY county. I was relieved to discover that it happened, over the crest, on the dry side, in Yakima County.

    I found it interesting that the “shooters” were on the Pacific Crest Trail. They were in a closed (due to fire danger) area, and, apparently, just out pot shooting at bear and other varmints. They were cited for being in a closed area and “other charges may be pending.” But there was no news followup. I’d say the title of your previous post, applies. “Acting dumb.” A lot of stupid, but not much evil intent. I’d guess they were so intent on the bear that they either didn’t even see the firefighters, or, decided (in their infinite wisdom) that they were well out of the line of fire. Some people shouldn’t be allowed out in the woods on their own, let alone with firearms.

    Ah, yes. We’re approaching the Season of Social Obligations. Not my favorite time of the year. I think it’s all rather superficial.

    The poppies are very appropriate. As, we’re observing Veteran’s Day, today. When I was a kid, the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) sold poppies, one could wear. They must have stopped, as I haven’t seen one, in years. There’s a story about The Tower of London, and poppies. I’ll see if I can find a link. Maybe I’ll whip up a batch of Anzac Biscuits? I think I have all the makings in the larder/pantry. Lew

  8. Good Lord, leeches? I´ll never complain about snails and slugs again. Who am I kidding, of course I´ll complain.

    That is certainly an impressive fortress around the berries. Were the parrots red before they started stuffing themselves?

    I´d love to find a good nursery around here, but they seem small and aren´t all that well stocked. Not to mention that there´s a lot untagged and missing little details like variety names. I should be planting more fruit trees and shrubs, but we´re trying to be financially prudent, so I´ll have to content myself with expanding the planting area again. That´s mostly just free labor, mine.

    Always good to see your lovely flowers. We finally had an actual frost last night, so I can start putting things to bed for winter.

  9. Hi Inge,

    Thanks! And I rush out to the strawberry patch every morning and night and try to pick the berries before the parrots get them. It is a sad sight indeed to spot a half consumed sun ripened strawberry.

    Ah well, I shall let you in on a little secret with our wine making. We wash the bottles in hot soapy water and use a very long bottle brush cleaner and not much more than that. I wouldn’t be too troubled about being too fastidious with the wine making process. Now before I explain myself, because your son has raised an interesting point, we should discuss a few minor details about wine bottles as a technology. The wide base of the neck is so designed to captures the lees before they exit the throat of the bottle, as the lees would usually sink to the bottom of the wine bottle. And the neck is very small so as to reduce the exposure of the liquid to the atmosphere, whilst still being able to pour out the liquids. It is an elegant and very mature technology.

    What kind of grots are you talking about in your son’s wine bottles? The thing is, you could be eliminating some interesting strains of yeast through the cleaning process. Western cultures are overly fastidious with the cleaning process when brewing beers, ciders and wines. If the master brewer gets the alcohol percentage high enough using yeast, and it can get up to 18% with the champagne yeasts, then not much else can live in that toxic brew (including finally the yeasts themselves). The trick with avoiding contamination with beers, sake and ciders is to know what ambient temperatures where things will go wrong, and that is usually because the alcohol percentage is far lower in those brews, if only because the initial sugar content is lower – and you have to be more careful, but do you have to be careful enough to use hospital grade bleaches? Probably not. Keep them around the 23’C to 25’C range and you’ll be fine – and that is not a hard ask in a dark cupboard over high summer. Put those brews out in the sun, and acetobacteria will take over and produce some fascinating acetic acid. Not good, and a memorable smell. The higher alcohol wines are very hardy and easy.

    Thanks for your thoughts on IQ, and I just don’t have enough experience to know any better. Your point about movement towards the average is not lost on me, and I’d have to add that the benefit of a higher than average IQ, must come at the cost of some other function of the brain, although there are some folks put on the Earth just to make the rest of us all look bad – or give us something to aspire to! 🙂

    I am in no way decrying either of those traits, as for people who have them, they can be a gift. And I make no such claim about myself, because when all is said and done, I’m just a highly motivated individual (as is the editor)!



  10. Hello again
    Thanks for the wine bottle tips which I’ll pass on to my son. I assume that it is old lees that he can’t get out. Bottle brushes can’t deal with his more exotically shaped bottles. 23C – 25C may be impossible for him, your summers are far hotter.
    One other interesting IQ fact is that both ends of the spectrum are very male biased. I assume that this is nature trying to keep females capable of looking after their young.


  11. Hi Lewis,

    The strawberries are awesome looking aren’t they? And the plants are so productive. We’ve had to really harden our hearts and just employ a level of ruthlessness with strawberry succession planting. Not much else will suffice. Interestingly, the local parrots are the same colour as ripe strawberries, so they have little trouble spotting them. And hopefully I’ll get the steel mesh roof up over the enclosure on Friday. From what I’m observing, you could harvest strawberries without all of the mucking around with the galvanised steel cage, you just have to grow an awful lot of the plants – and be prepared to be completely ruthless with pulling the mature plants out at the end of their third year. Stephen King may possibly one day write a story: Children of the Strawberries, although I’m uncertain that a bunch of three year olds would be up for the job of running a civilisation!

    A quart is an awesome haul. My brain resides in the land of all things metric, and so I had no idea what a quart even is. Ah, it is the equivalent of 0.95kg in volume as compared to 1 litre of water. Anyway, conversions aside, you scored quite a good harvest. I’m going to add in a new metric, and I reckon I’ll call it by the fancy name of ‘handfuls’. Scientists and archaeologists in future generations may look upon our discussions of so many ‘handfuls’ of ripe strawberries and wonder what the heck we were talking about, but phooey to them! Four handfuls so far, and let the cards fall where they will. 🙂

    You know, I know that talk about sharks and sharknado’s is some seriously big talk, but land leeches are a real thing here. Pesky little critters that only salt, fire, and possibly silver will remove the little blighters once they’ve begun gorging upon your blood stream. But not much else, and they have a potent anti-coagulant that is very powerful because after having removed them, the wound continues to ooze a bit. I’m not a fan of leeches and you can find them in the damper parts of this mountain range, and you won’t even know that they’re on you, until they chomp on in.

    Well, the big bull ‘roo is back this evening, this time with his harem, and I had to go and clear him off so that I could deposit a couple of bins of coffee grounds around the orchard as the sun set. Fortunately, my latest haircut provides me with slightly more mojo than the huge bull ‘roo and I was able to scare him away from where I wanted to feed the fruit trees in the orchard. He might not kill me, but he’d do some damage if I accidentally cornered him – which I’m disinclined to do. Sun Tzu mentioned that it was wise to always leave one’s opponents an out, and I ain’t arguing with that advice.

    I have read about wallabies roaming the national forest where none other than, Sir Patrick Stuart lives, and I can well see how they might manage that. In a serious drought, female kangaroos can shut down their reproductive processes at will, and the animals can survive on a diet of 85% spinifex grass. Anything that can do that is not to be messed with.

    Over the past decade I’ve spoken with the owners of the nursery, but given they were having a clearing sale of their stock, well the queues were long, and do I want to know their pain? Imagine building a business over three decades and then walking away from it. Dunno what the story is, I’m just going with my gut feeling.

    Your eye is good and 2 cords = 7.25 cubic metres.

    Thanks for the link about dogs eating soil, and Sir Scruffy consumes the delicacy only every now and then. I hope he is enjoying some minerals from the soil. Incidentally, I’ve watched friends children consume the soil here, so it hardly surprised me at all.

    I’ve always loved the tree ferns. And they are really extraordinarily hardy plants – and some of the first to recover from fires. As to the corn, well as of today it is 43% and I rest my case as the math is superb. Does this mean that the germination rate may improve? I hope it does, and the rain tomorrow may assist with that matter.

    I reckon we might be able to be OK on a food front if things went suddenly haywire, but personally I’d be much more comfortable with an even greater diversity of plants, surplus and experience. Hopefully, over the coming weekend I’ll be able to institute the plan: sneaky growing space for pumpkins and melons…

    Yah, I noted that the fire fighters were in your part of the world too. Ook! Oh well. These things happen, and just because folks are in rural and remote areas does not necessarily mean that they will enjoy the certain sort of common sense attitude that such locations normally engender.

    One way to counter the season of social obligations is to suggest that you’d like to attend, but are unable too, although you really, really would like too. You can’t please everyone.

    I just cooked a loaf of bread and a batch of dog biscuits in the outdoor electric oven, and whilst the Roman’s may disapprove of the general lack of firewood used in the process, I was very pleased with the result. I’ve discovered that the fumes from the cooking bread and especially the dog biscuits inside the house makes my eyes water and sting. Not sure why, but possibly the fact that the dehydrated tomatoes used to sit in the olive oil used with both mixes probably explains a thing or two.

    Poppies still are part of Remembrance day down here and given that they are in season… Remembrance day is the 11th day of the 11th month and obviously relates to WWI. When I was a kid they used to have a minute of silence at 11am on that day. We were told that it had to do with the poppies grown over the killing fields of Europe, and particularly the brutal fields of France facing off against the Germans. The cost of lives on both sides was horrendous, and the ease with which they were spent was quite appalling.

    It is interesting that at the Tower of London the guard played the haunting “Last Post”. I’ve heard that call on many a cold Anzac day morning as the sun breaks over the horizon. Have you ever heard that series of notes? Of course they used ceramic poppies, if only because the plants don’t flower for that long. I wonder if the irony of the art was lost on the patrons, if only because it looks as if a sea of blood is oozing out of the Tower of London…



  12. Hi Coco,

    I seriously wasn’t joking around about the leeches. Revolting creatures, and after a while we just gave up venturing into the old strawberry patch – and the millipedes and every other living thing on the farm enjoyed strawberries. I call that original project an epic fail!

    Complain away about slugs and snails! Mostly that lot here are running for their lives as the bird population destroy them whenever they are foolish enough to poke up their heads. There are a huge number of birds living here. I put up an mp3 recording of the bird calls on the blog way back in the early days. It is still here somewhere on this website.

    Hehe! What an excellent question about the Rosella’s. 🙂 And you maybe onto something, because the juvenile Rosella birds are a motley green colour, and then at some point they shed their juvenile feathers and sport deep red and blue feathers. Are strawberries involved in this process? – a great question which I’m intending to do my very best to thwart their parrot like ambitions!

    I went on a course last year that was run by a really old timer orchardist, and he showed us how to summer graft varieties of known fruit tree buds onto seedling stock. An orchard of fruit trees needn’t cost anything at all if you had a few years and a bit of skill at obtaining the buds and seeds. 😉 The grafting process was so unbelievably simple that I was gobsmacked. And that orchard grew most of their own trees… So obvious, and yet not obvious at all!

    Thank you, and we love the flowers too. And there are more of them every single year. My main problem with them now is cutting the plants back.



  13. Hi Damo,

    Feel free and sneak away, I was just explaining to Coco that an orchard of trees need only require a light finger and a few years! You are clearly in good company.

    Mate, that is so cold. The double sleeping bag trick is a good one, and I learned that one at almost 5,000m above sea level in Nepal. The overnight temperatures were so cold that clothes and water bottles froze solid. I had no desire to walk any higher than that altitude. My condolences to Mrs Damo. There would be much sooking and gnashing of teeth from me in that sort of weather! Hehe!

    Hehe! Mrs Damo would know best on that front about the insulating layers! And a bit of fat to burn is good preparation for any future deprivations – plus can a person look past a pavlova? Maybe, but then again maybe not… 🙂

    How is the food over there? Hmm, breakfast, the start of any good day.



  14. Hi Inge,

    I assume the bottle has a square edged shoulder for it to be too hard to clean? I wouldn’t worry about it too much, but give the bottle a go and see whether the mixture becomes contaminated. Or if you wanted, a bit of distilled white vinegar would probably finish off any nasties that are alive in the dried lees. And I’d probably add some lemon juice to the brewing mixture anyway, but nothing makes it more toxic than some sugar (or honey which is about 80% sugar, so you need to add more) which ups the acidity.

    Even 18’C will produce a sweeter wine. I prefer a drier taste, but that is mostly a preference. Given your summers are cooler, it is probably a natural advantage with beers, sake, and ciders in that they are less likely to become contaminated. Over winter we chuck the demijohns in front of the wood heater – as I assume people have done for millennia.

    That is possible, but I’ve found that females are far better working in a co-operative manner (although I suspect that this is a nurture thing) and I reckon that may mean that they devote more brain cells to social skills. Although a lot of males are extraordinarily lazy on that front, but that can be just as true for females too. I reckon at best it is a complete mess of diversity! Is this a bad thing, probably not.



  15. Hello again
    I am all for diversity. Nature does care for the females and no doubt uses war as a means of removing surplus males; in theory that is.
    I could rabbit on indefinitely but will remove myself for the time being.


  16. Hi, Chris!

    A fence post! You are so funny!

    Fig jam is a favorite of mine, too. This year our thought-to-be-dead fig tree came back well after all and by mid-summer was producing fairly well, though not enough for fig jam. I picked the last few last week (early Nov.) because of those extra 5 weeks or so of summer. A couple of days ago it was 24F (-4.4C); summer’s gone, winter’s here.

    Do kangaroos sleep at night? You mentioned “evening”, but maybe he was getting ready for bed. They seem like weird deer to me and our deer eat day and night (they do take naps in the day, wise animals).

    Isn’t it amazing that steel fencing has to be used just to get some strawberries? We hardly got any strawberries last year thanks to Arnie the Groundhog, Petey the Rabbit, and Curly, Larry, and Moe Squirrel, and birds. And the equivalent of leeches. I am so tired of putting up nets and fences and cages. I had always hoped that the 8 foot (2.4m) fence would keep more things out. They are all just smarter than I am, or at least have more energy. And no schedules . . .

    Hi, Toothy! Hi, Scritchy! How good are you, Scritchy, to still manage those steep stairs?

    Oh, boy – grape vines! Now you can make some “real” wine. Hee hee.

    We often have giant fallen branches, or whole trees, which are always greeted with joy as long as they haven’t fallen on any buildings, vehicles, or people. Or fences. We are finally having fireplace and wood stove fires. Most of the wood for this season is lovely oak; it burns so well. Yesterday I was burning some walnut. It burns well, too, and is such a neat purple-brown color.

    Sir Scruffy – gentleman that he is – certainly must have a good reason for digging a hole and eating dirt. Though if he’d thought a little longer he might have done so somewhere besides right in front of a door.

    How sad – I didn’t know that you’d lost so many apricots to frost. Didn’t that happen last year? I think apples had to make up some slack then, too? Your moss flowers are so different from ours; you can hardly see ours. We have a lichen (we have lots of lichens) that grows something that looks like flowers. They are exquisite. Looking out the window now, it looks like most of our trees are covered with lichen. Did you know that lichen is used in the perfume industry? It smells great when burning lichen-covered logs.

    I guess a gazinnia is not a zinnia (it looks somewhat like one)? I grow lots of zinnias. My great-grandmother always did that and I like to keep up the tradition – besides loving zinnias. I always save their seed, too, sorted by color.


  17. Hi Chris,
    We have a “winner take all” system. For county board there can be multiple candidates in each district but only the top two win a seat on the county board. In the case I described there were four candidates but you could only vote for two.

    Yes, Patrick and Michael really enjoyed their jobs though they didn’t like collecting carts in bad weather. Michael only had the job for a few years as he never got past the need for a job coach due to the fact that his medications made him pretty spacey at times. Patrick took some time but all of sudden everything clicked and he worked for the same company for many years. It’s been suggested that people with mild intellectual disabilities perform in jobs like this better than one with typical intelligence as they remain pretty satisfied doing the same thing and it seems take more pride in doing their job well.

    A few in the class had some experience with poultry so they did share. We did veer off into producing your own food in general too and antibiotic resistance. One woman who was from Poland was quite aghast at all the restrictions here. There was a home school girl of only 14 in the class as well who raised ducks. This was a class at a community college. She was quite impressive.

    Unfortunately it remains much colder than normal here. Where’s that El Nino that’s been in the forecast?

    Nice warm strawberries right out of the patch are the best! For many years I had two garden areas – one farther out in back of the barn and another closer to the house. Up to recently I had strawberries in the back garden and I had very little damage there which surprised me because the chicken were often out there. When I moved them to the front I lost most of them – I think to robins.

    We’ve often used leeches as bait when fishing. One will often last through several catches as they’re so tough.

    I used to compare standard units of measurement to metric when trying to teach the metric system, i.e. a centimeter to an inch or a yard to a meter. Rulers come with both systems of measurement. Milk and many other drinks are in quarts or gallons but soft drinks are sold in 2 liter bottles though in cans it lists both measurements. I continue to find it difficult to compare centigrade to Fahrenheit and most appreciate it that you use both.


  18. @Lew
    We’ve purchased fruit trees from Raintree on the recommendation of our friend who owns an apple orchard. Didn’t know they had been sold.

    Ah yes, the season of social obligations. Personally the gift and card obligations really get to me. We’ve opted out of the family grab bag but often still get gifts. One cousin goes out on the day of Christmas Eve and buys everyone gifts but I’m not going top fall for the bait. Our family is quite large and there are between 35 and 50 people at the annual Christmas Eve party. When someone buys gifts for people that aren’t their grab bag person it’s called an “illegal Santa gift”. Pretty soon it’ll be time for Christmas gifts lists (sigh). My oldest daughter and I just pick out books for each other – often used. She’s the one who gave me “The Secret Life of Trees” a couple of years ago. My MIL always asked that we donate to one of her favorite organizations. One year, though, my daughter, husband and granddaughters volunteered for a day at a book depository and the twins wrote an essay about their experience for my MIL. She was really tickled when she received it.

    For many years we used to dress up our various animals and take pictures of them for our Christmas card. This was in response to a card my aunt sent with a picture of my cousin in a tutu. It was always my policy not to send pictures of my kids but animals are a different story. The first one was one of our dogs in a tutu but my aunt never “got it”. One of my favorites was a live turkey in a roasting pan with a large red bow. This particular turkey had hurt it’s leg thus we were able to keep it in the pan long enough to take pictures (I know – a bit tasteless). Finally I had enough of this tradition though Doug was not pleased. I told him I’d help with the picture if he wanted to do it but I was done with addressing and mailing all the cards. I remember my mother had a notebook that kept track of all the cards sent and received and it was often up to 200. We really miss Patrick as he just loved Christmas. He would start the day after Thanksgiving with Christmas carols and start wearing all his Christmas clothes, necklace with lights and Santa hat. The electric bill where ever he lived went up considerably due to all the lights he put up. Gifts weren’t all that important rather it was just spreading Christmas cheer where ever he went. My brother, Marty, spends weeks putting up his tree and Christmas village complete with running train. Liking miniatures the way you do I think you’d get a kick out of it.


  19. Chris,

    Fence posts are hard work. I’ve done my share of them and prefer doing other things. Watching grout dry the other night comes to mind…

    Once upon a year during the Great Depression, my dad’s family lived in the boondocks. The story is told that they needed to fence in a pasture. So granddad and uncle went out with shovel, post hole digger, and posts to make holes and plant the posts in the hard soil. After about 2 hours had gone by, digging, planting post, backfilling dirt, packing the dirt, they heard a noise behind them. They looked up to see their horse. Said horse had grabbed each fence post in its mouth and jerked them all out of the ground. No, they didn’t have horsemeat for dinner, but I’m told that the thought crossed granddad’s mind.

    That bull kangaroo looks tough! My “experience” with kangaroos is watching that old “Skippy” Australian tv series when I was a kid. Somehow the backwater town of Spokane got that series?!?

    Certain critters are to be avoided. We actually have a bull moose that periodically visits our neighborhood. Moose get a tad unpredictable and can decide that they don’t like you. That can be a Bad Thing if you can’t get inside! The moose left me a gift on my front lawn two summers ago. That was one big pile of poo!


  20. Yo, Chris – Yup. Handfuls is a highly technical and scientific term :-). For awhile, the historians didn’t know exactly how long a Roman foot or yard, was. Eventually, a “standard measure” was found, engraved in marble. “Official” weights and measures have turned up, all over the previous Empire. Given the length of time the Empire lasted, I’d guess they changed, from time to time. Then there was the problem of absorbing all those other cultures. I imagine a conversation that went something like, “Is that an Egyptian pound, or a Roman pound?” “Getting good weight” was a concern. And, penalties for “fudging” (another technical and scientific term) could be quit stiff.

    Our leeches (as far as I know) stay where they belong. In bodies of water.

    Quit a few animals will “turn” if they feel trapped. Your right. Always best to leave a route of escape (or several) for animals you just want to shoe off. Some animals are more likely to come after you. My friend Julia (being Julia) when she traps possums, takes them down the road a few miles and releases them from the trap. As they just run like heck. raccoons, however, she has dispatched. As, when you let them out of a trap, they’re liable to turn and rip your face off.

    Given the length of time the nursery was in business, perhaps there’s no kids to take over and the owners are cashing in their chips and heading off for a well earned retirement. But, yes, it’s a delicate situation to inquire as to what’s going on. Could be health problems or some other family tragedy. Eventually, with sharp ears at the local, the story may come out. Just takes time.

    If you don’t think it’s too late, you might want to replant a bit of corn. Later plantings often “catch up” with early ones.

    The whole WWI poppy display began with a poem.


    I baked 3 dozen Anzac biscuits, yesterday. The dough didn’t want to hold together, very well, but a few drops of water cured that. LOL. They’re hard as rocks and crumb a lot. I’ll have to dive down the rabbit hole and see how you soften up hard cookies. I don’t have or use golden syrup, so I used maple syrup, instead. I don’t like coconut, so I was going to use plumped up cranberries. Didn’t have enough, so it turned out to be half cranberries and half raisins. Are they still Anzac biscuits? One of those culinary conundrums. 🙂

    While I made the biscuits, I thought about those WWI soldiers. The Anzac biscuit story is a bit suspect, given the earliest recipes start appearing about 1922. I could have lived happily, not knowing that. But, I’m sure goodies of one sort or another were shipped to the fellows. Probably with little notes or keepsakes slipped inside.

    I have a distinct memory of my mother and grandmother with artificial poppies pinned to their coats. No other memories attached to that. Except maybe they were bought from a veteran, selling them on the street. Maybe.

    I watched a new DVD, the other night. Part of the PBS (Public Broadcasting Service) American Masters series. “Wyeth: The Life of Andrew Wyeth in Bold Strokes.” I saw a few paintings I hadn’t seen before. Some of the commentary brought up things I hadn’t thought of, before. His paintings can be a bit dark. Gothic. Unseen or unsaid things lurk in the shadows or just out of the picture frame. Lew

  21. @ Inge – If he hasn’t already, your son might try ammonia, a few small sharp rocks, a soak overnight and a good shaking. (The bottle, not your son.)

    Over here, we have a powder product called “Bar Keepers Friend.” It has a mild oxalic acid in it. The usual warnings, apply. Take care mixing different cleaning products.

    But, Chris is right. Might be good things in the grunge. Lew

  22. @ Damo – I didn’t realize you were on this side of the pond. I need to pay more attention to your blog! Lew

  23. Hi Chris,

    I’m glad to see you are eating some strawberries. They are very much worth the trouble! Although they are much less trouble for me, as I don’t have to contend with parrots or land leeches, just slugs, some birds, and heavy spring rains that rot some of the berries before I can pick them. Even so, I picked a large amount of them this year.

    43% germination is low for corn seed; I get well over 75% germination from direct-sown seeds. Some possible reasons: too deep planting, too cold soil, or the seeds have an issue to cause low germination, such as being too old. If it was because you planted in cold soil, that might not be a bad thing, as you will have selected for seeds that are capable of germinating at that soil temperature. Next year’s seeds should have a higher germination rate if that’s the case, or if this year’s seeds were too old.

    You asked if I preserved some of the summer harvest. Yes in some cases, like the popcorn which is waiting to be shelled off the cobs, and the blackeyed peas waiting to be removed from the dry cobs. Two large basketfulls of butternut squash are sitting on the floor in the house for eating over the winter. We preserved some strawberries and raspberries in the form of cordial, and we’ll make the frozen crabapples and elderberries into wine later on. The tomato sauce was frozen, and we still have two tomatoes ripening on a shelf. The Chinese cabbages, daikon radishes, and turnips that I removed last week are in buckets in the anteroom that doubles as a root cellar. Three rows of leeks as well as kale, collards, mustard greens, and arugula remain in the garden. Everything else has been eaten.

    We got an inch/25mm of snow on Monday and are forecast to get 2 to 4 times that amount this coming Thursday. This is quite early for us to be getting so much snow.


  24. @ Inge – my husband cleans wine bottles similarly to Lew’s suggestion, except that he employs the small flattened glass rounds that are sometimes used in vases to hold up flower stems. If you have the marbles that children use for games, they would also work.

    As Lew noted, you could add one cleaning product to the water, but *do not* mix ammonia with vinegar or the Barkeeper’s Friend or any other acid! I would probably use dish-washing detergent on a first try, soaking overnight and then shaking the bottle with the glass rounds or marbles in it. If the foreign matter remained, I’d try vinegar or the cleaning powder next. I don’t keep ammonia around the house but it might be worth a try if the others don’t work.


  25. @ Lew: I’ve bought several trees from Raintree Nursery because they have one of the best selections of fruiting trees and shrubs in the US. Most if not all of the citrus trees I planted in containers and bring in over the winter are from Raintree. According to the catalog, the owner had been looking to sell the business. From his picture he appears to be in the bably-boomer age group so I am guessing he was ready to retire. I checked and the website is up and running and they are taking orders for 2019, which I am glad to see.


  26. Sigh … blackeyed pea pods, not cobs. And I had checked over that comment before I posted it …


  27. We have had abysmal luck with strawberries. Each year we up our game a bit, but not enough yet. Everything likes strawberries.

    We’ve been a bit nonchalant about the plants themselves, so maybe the cold heartless method is the way to go.

    We also have severe competition for our raspberries, which are even harder to cage off. I see more steel fencing in our future.

    Firewood- I”m all set for this winter, and started burning a while ago. Got down to 12F ( -11C) last night! rather early for those kinds of temps. Usually that’s not till January.
    I scored some more firewood from a neighbor, which I’m going to split and store for next winter. I traded some labor for extra wood he already had bucked, but it is rather low btu stuff. Many of the softer woods also rot quickly if left out or on the ground, so I’ll be tarping it.

    So what will happen when the entire big tree finally comes down?

  28. Hi Inge, Pam, Margaret, DJ, Lewis, Claire, and Steve,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but we have now reached the most dreaded time of all – The mid week hiatus. Truly awful! I hope to be able to reply tomorrow night, but until then it is radio silence Australia! 🙂 I have no idea what that means, but it sounds good…

    Inge – Thanks for considering the discussion. I frankly just don’t know enough about that area to discuss it in any level of detail. What I see worries me. No doubts about that, it is one of those things that looks a bit bonkers to me.

    Lewis – It is absolute pea soup up here tonight. The weather station reports that humidity has reached 99%, but I beg to differ as it feels like 100% humidity outside, or perhaps just 99.9%, but let’s not quibble about this small change business. 🙂 Whatever the reading, the clouds have descended and just under half an inch of rain fell today. It is 64’F inside the house so it feels comfortable enough not to run the wood heater. We haven’t emptied the first firewood shed this winter, so it is nice to have reserves which most likely won’t be used this year.

    Just to horrify you further about the leeches here, they hang off the underside of leaves – and when you unfortunately brush against the leaves, the leeches make their grab for some mad blood – And you don’t realise that they are there until it is too late. The sores take many days to heal.

    It is interesting that the Roman’s favoured brutal and rigid enforcement of the rules as a way to get people to accept the rules. At the core of that is a desire to control the narrative. Under such a situation, I guess there would be little leniency for acts such as ‘fudging’ as I guess the cumulative effect of people flouting the rules would be an eventual loss of control. There are more effective methods of gaining acceptance, than enforcement, but it is an effective method for a while.

    I do often wonder why few if anybody was called to account for the 2008 economics fiasco, but have wondered whether putting a halt on that circus might have the effect of directly impacting upon the statistic of GDP? Dunno, but everyone seems very excited about that number, and something else would have to take the place in that metric of the dubious banking and money practices if they were stopped. Otherwise things wouldn’t look too good.

    Raccoons sound like quite the difficult critter – a bit like us humans actually. I heard a podcast once about a lady that was attacked by a rabid raccoon – and wow. And the response of the medical system was about as frightening as the attack.

    We did replant the corn that failed. It helped that for some strange reason, we had planted out 100 seeds, so mathematical accuracy is easy to achieve! Hopefully today’s rain gets some of the seedlings started.

    I’m off to bed!



  29. @Margaret:

    Patrick was one in a million – what fun! It’s so great that you have those memories. I love miniatures of all sorts; I would love Marty’s trains. I used to build little villages and farms out of cardboard, quite elaborate and full of inhabitants, when I was a very small girl and filled them with tiny people and animals. It was the greatest thrill when my dad built a dollhouse for me (I never played with regular dolls, just tiny ones) and a great aunt who was an interior decorator furnished and decorated it. The rest of my time was spent climbing trees . . . and reading – often up in the tree . . . Wasn’t it great when we had no fear of heights?


  30. Yo, Chris – Sometimes, when Roman citizens caught someone with their thumb on the scale, they wouldn’t get the authorities involved. They’d just inflict their own rough justice. Happened later in history, to.

    After the 2008 crash, a few minor minions went to jail. I guess it pays to have sharp lawyers and friends in high places. From what I gather, watching some of the postmortems on the whole debacle, the financial industry scared the bejesus out of congress with tales of world wide economic collapse. Some believe that kicking the can down the road will, eventually, lead to an even more serious collapse than if an “adjustment” had been allowed to play out, then. Bad as it was, worse may loom in the future.

    On that cheery note, I leave you with your-bread-is-you, you-are-your-bread :-).



  31. @ Margaret & Claire – My face is red. Raintree isn’t far from where I lived, and I never visited.

    I know the retired nursery manager, from Raintree. Carl used to prune my 5 little apple trees, every year. Next time I run into him, I’ll see if I can get any inside info. Must have been a good place to work, as I have run across several people who worked there for decades. You think it would be ripe for an employee buyout, but people’s minds don’t seem to run in that direction. Lew

  32. @ Margaret – “Secret Life of Trees” is winding it’s way to me, via the Timberland library delivery system. If I’m lucky, and the wind is blowing the right direction, it may be waiting for me at the library, today.

    My mother used to keep each years cards in a box, and then would go through them the next year and send cards. Tit for tat. She’s buy cards and wrapping, for the next year, at the day after Christmas sales.

    I pretty much grew up around my mom’s tribe. Grandma and grandpa and four families with 14 cousins. On Christmas Eve, we’d go to the grandparents and each child got one gift from each family. So, three gifts plus one from the grands. Christmas morning was individual family gifts. The aunts and uncles would draw names, at Thanksgiving.

    About the time Grandmother died, the cousins were getting a bit far flung and starting families of their own.

    For a lot of reasons, I have pretty mixed feelings about the holidays. Working retail for so many years, didn’t help. Being single ads another factor. So, I pretty much avoid “public” Christmas and pull out all the stops, behind my closed door :-). Lew

  33. Thanks to all who gave tips on cleaning wine bottles. I have passed them on.
    Son killed and cooked a turkey then brought me a lot of cold turkey meat. It tasted wonderful.


  34. Hi Lew,

    My blog is silent on this trip, although I may put some photos up in a few weeks when we get back. You should still visit the blog anyway 🙂

    I am not sure if this is the best time of year to visit or not. First was the memorial day weekend, and then thanksgiving is coming up, we seem to be surviving though and the autumn (fall) leaves are great!

    Also, I thought of you when i saw a pumpkin pie, so I got it. Quite tasty actually (it was from wally world though)


  35. Hi everyone!

    The midweek hiatus continues (due to unforseen computer troubles)…

    Lewis – I reckon I won’t quite ever know why the plant nursery closed down, although someone in the future may make some fictional reason up, and that will be that – the reason will be fixed in stone (true or otherwise). Honestly, I just suspect that like the old timer corporate raiders used to do, the assets of the business are valued higher than the expected return that any new owners investing in the future returns of the business could reasonably afford – especially if they got into debt to finance any possible purchase. In basic terms, that means that the land is possibly expensive enough that it is probably wiser to cash in on the sale of the land than run a business.

    I recall the early days when that sort of thing became an option – and that was back in the early days of the expansionary money supply (a coincidence?) High interest rates meant that those holding cash might consider enjoying nice returns from depositing the money with a bank rather than trying to run a business. The property, bonds and equities story appears to me to be the same story, but possibly progressed a bit further than those heady days.

    I lost a lot of hours today to computer problems. Overnight somehow all of the settings for my interweb modem changed, one of the computers could no longer access the interweb – and my blood pressure was slightly higher than it otherwise would have been if this disaster had not occurred! I had intended to work this morning.

    Nothing made any difference to the modem, even several factory resets and removing all of the internal bits and bobs. Nope, seriously, the technical term for it was: “completely stuffed”.

    It was all very weird, and I couldn’t quite determine whether the device had had a hardware / software meltdown, or had been maliciously altered (which is the most likely possibility).

    Anyway, we headed off to a nearby town and picked up a replacement modem before lunch and now it is all good again.

    Technology is good when it works.

    My hours of rest disappeared in a haze of computer problems.



  36. Hello again
    Son says that he has a dark cupboard with a heater, so no doubt he can reach the temperatures that you suggested.


  37. @Lew

    Well I get how being in retail would be a Christmas turn off. I can’t imagine having to work on Black Friday. I suppose they have some “doings” at the home. I do enjoy our family Christmas Eve as it’s been a tradition since before I was born. Most of my family lives in the Chicago area. When Doug and I got married his parents changed their family Christmas Eve dinner to Christmas day and would go to my mother’s home for our family Christmas Eve. They all became quite good friends as well.
    Looking forward to your thoughts about the book.


  38. @Pam

    I’m not sure there’s anyone who enjoyed Christmas more than Patrick. His joy was infectious. My mother had a village under her tree complete with lit houses. One of the houses had a blinking light and it was referred to as the house with the naughty kid who was turning the light on and off. In addition to Marty my sister also had a huge village as well. She actually has a Christmas forest with three lit trees and other smaller ones. My oldest daughter and granddaughters have also kept up the tradition with their own village. The villages were such a source of fascination when kids were small. There’s numerous pictures floating around of kids when they were young gazing at villages.

    My granddaughters love to climb trees – sometimes to heights that make me pretty nervous.


  39. Hi Chris,
    Sorry about the frustrating computer problems. I’d have to call someone in I think.

    We have seven poplar trees (or should I say had). Poplars are very fast growing but they have a short life – about 20 years. Doug found someone who would take all but one down for about a third of the typical price so it was done last Sunday. It’s not good wood for burning inside but we have an acquaintance who has an outdoor wood furnace that can burn all kinds of wood so we’ve offered the large trunk sections to him. We’ll keep some of the smaller branches for bonfires.

    It remains cold here with a couple chances of a little snow.


  40. Yo, Chris – I found four methods for softening up hard cookies. The one that works best, I think, is wrapping a couple in a slightly damp paper towel and nuking it for 15-20 seconds. I have discovered THE best food in the world. Warm crumbled cookies over pumpkin ice cream!

    The Anzac biscuits were biscotti tough. Without all that double baking nonsense. :-). Most decidedly, a dipping biscuit.

    As far as the nursery story goes, it plays a bit to what I’ve been thinking about, the last few days. Maybe too much knowledge is not always a good thing. Having had the myths of ravens in The Tower and Anzac biscuits, smashed. I mean, really, can Santa or the Easter Bunny be far behind? The Tooth Fairy? I think if called upon, in future, to “tell the tale”, I’ll just stick with the myths.

    I had my own tussle with technology, the other night. Not near so complicated or time consuming, as yours, but still a good half hour of my life I’ll never get back. I’ve noticed the brightness and contrast on my newish DVD player seemed a bit off. Night scenes lost in murk and people with black hair that appeared painted on. Well, I got out the manual, fumbled around a bit for the right screen. Finally found the beginning of the thread of screens but then was left adrift as to how to navigate to the next screen. Resorted to the tried and true. Push buttons til it does what you want it to.

    Someone made the comment to me yesterday that they just didn’t know HOW I could get along without a tv, these many decades. Quit nicely, thanks.

    It looks like Scott and I will be off for Chinese food, today. And, there’s an auction, tonight. Fretted over a box of art pottery that will probably go dear. And decided I really didn’t want or need anything that was in it. There’s four other box lots that have “interesting” things in them. Those ought to go cheap. We’ll see.

    I’ve decided not to go so “over the top” when it comes to the Thanksgiving feast, this year. I’m not going to mess with a whole bird. Nor fiddle with a pumpkin pie. Oh, there will be turkey, and some kind of a pumpkin desert. I’ll put the saved time into getting a start on the Christmas tat. Lew

  41. @ Damo – I’d be careful of any travel plans from Thanksgiving eve (Wednesday the 21st) through the following Monday. Just for a lark, you may want to stand well back and observe the kick off for the Black Friday sales at the Wally World. Mob violence is possible. Lew

  42. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! The title was pretty funny wasn’t it? Of course digging holes for fence posts is not quite as funny, but with a hand auger, who knows how far a person can dig?

    Fig jam is good. 🙂 Yum! There are about six fig trees here, and they are growing well this year. For some reason that I can’t explain for the years leading up to this year, the growth has been very slow with that particular fruit tree. Dunno why? One fig tree was gifted to me from a person who claimed that there dad brought in the cutting when they migrated down under.

    It is nice when a once thought of as dead plant rises from the – I dunno something, something, zombie style – but I reckon much better because they produce fruit rather than trying to eat our brains. I have not had a single fig from any of the trees here, and usually pick up cheap trays of them at the market in Melbourne.

    Nope, most of the animals here are nocturnal, except as you mention – the deer. The day is the province of the birds, although the night is full of owl, bat and glider noises too (and the occasional frightening screech encounter). Now that I think about it, the place is jumping with life.

    Exactly, the fruit cage is another example that none of this stuff makes any economic sense. Mind you, I really try to consider how long I’ll keep this stuff working when I construct it. Infrastructure should produce flows – and for a very long time.

    Scritchy is incredibly agile for an old girl (late teens – maybe 18). Sir Scruffy has the most issues, and he sometimes waits patiently for me to lift him up and down the stairs. Although I have noticed that if food is on offer the old bloke can hurtle up the stairs. I suspect he has perquisites which he does his best to remind me of.

    We picked up the final two grape vines today and then planted them (as well as getting a fair bit of the roof over the strawberry cage). Hot work in the late spring sunshine, but you know it is the job that is not started as takes the longest to finish. Did I mention that half of the vines are table grapes? And the other half are multi-purpose grape varieties.

    Thanks. Yeah the continual frosts were a serious nuisance. Nope, last year was my first big harvest of apricots and we bottled most of them (and only just finished eating them recently). It looks like it will be a huge year for apples (but not much else). The mosses here are the biggest on the planet, so that makes my job easy to point them out. I’m not sure but I’ve often wondered if lichens are consuming the rocks and plants they live upon?

    Did you manage to obtain any of your great grandmothers zinnia’s? Some of the rhubarb growing here was gifted to me by a local lady who told me that they were originally her grandfather’s rhubarb variety and such plants are a true gift.



  43. Hi Margaret,

    We’re going to have a state election next weekend, and the outcome of that should be mildly interesting. I’m planning to vote earlier and avoid the queues. It is not intended as a criticism and I rarely venture into the wide world of politics, but first past the post voting systems rarely leave anyone feeling satisfied! 😉 The only time in recent memory that I can recall that legal action was taken against a declared vote count, was in a particular electorate when there was apparently an administrative error with the counting process and the count was very close. That outcome would be like my complete nightmare (as I sometimes work on the counting process – which is scrupulously honest). I don’t frankly understand the processes involved in your voting system. Down here we are seeing independents gaining enough local support that they can often be winning the seat (the most recently deposed Prime Minister lost his safe seat to an independent). I’d describe that sort of situation as volatile.

    Oooo! Winters here are warmer than in your part of the world, so I never considered what Michael and Patrick would have had to go through collecting trolleys in such weather. A fair complaint on their part. I can understand that – and go Patrick! I guess he would have enjoyed the patterns, but as you wrote Michael would have had a complex reaction to learning the patterns because of his med’s. There is a certain sort of comfort to be enjoyed in patterns – and I can see a lot of people these days losing themselves in those in the promise that they continue into the future. Another interpretation of patterns is the word: “ritual”.

    Great topics to veer off into and I would have loved to hear your talk! And so very true. I had a third hand encounter with someone recently who had contracted an antibiotic resistant bug and they seemed nonplussed. I too would be most impressed at the young lady who had turned her hand to raising ducks. Mind you, as a mostly vegetarian, I do quite enjoy the taste of: “Peking Duck”. If you haven’t tried it, you are missing out and I’m salivating thinking about the food. 🙂

    Don’t wish for the El Nino too loudly, if only because that means hotter and drier weather down here in this little corner of the world! 😉 What will be, will be. Next week looks set to dump some more rain over the farm. I’ve barely had to water anything this year, and the water tanks are reasonably full (for now).

    I’m not really certain of much, but I can tell you this: Everything eats strawberries. Even the canine fluffy collective… Thus the steel fruit cage, which I put a bit more welded wire mesh over today. It was hot hard work in the late spring sunshine… The job wasn’t complete and I had to rescue an unhappy magpie inside the cage.

    A good use for leeches, just keep them away from your exposed skin! Hehe!

    Isn’t that interesting about the metric measurements? I purchase milk in 1 litre (plastic lined) cartons. Interesting at the difference, although they do sell 2 litre milk in plastic containers. Hey, I’ve become pretty good at converting metric to imperial over the years and it has become second nature to me! Oh well… With temperatures and rainfall I generally speak your language for ease of interpretation!

    No worries at all about the computer dramas – it was a loss of several hours and some cash. Way back in the day I used to be a computer geek. I even recall swapping code with one of the cool kids at High School… He wasn’t cool either, although he probably felt otherwise! I just wish there weren’t as many malicious folks out there as there are, if only because their energies could be better spent doing something more productive with their time.

    Thanks for that about the poplars. Do you have any silver poplars growing? The more traditional poplar I saw last weekend (or was it the week before that?) was I reckon more than a century old, and they had really old fruit trees growing there alongside an old dry creek bed.

    Brr! Stay warm. It was almost the perfect spring day today…



  44. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! Yes, I’ve been told in the past that ‘manual labour’ is a famous Spanish bull-fighter. 😉 You know, I work hard now so that I may not have to work too hard in the future – although how that theory stacks up to reality will be interesting. No doubts I will be gifted some ugly surprises in the future.

    What an awful trick that horse played upon your granddad and uncle with the fence post. Apparently the award for ‘total sneaky’ in the ‘Equus’ family goes to the Shetland ponies who have very large heads relative to their bodies. I could be comfortable with one or more of those – with a harness to bring some rocks up the hill. Unfortunately the kangaroos would take a lot of training, and possibly get quite grumpy at the thought of a harness.

    Hehe! Speaking of which, I watched Skippy back in the day too. That was filmed in the state to the north of the one I live in. Apparently there were quite a few Skippies in the cast. Sometimes the word “Skippy” can be used to describe something that is Australian as. Very occasionally, you might hear: Mate, that’s as skippy as! Which roughly translates to: My very good friend, this thing that you have brought into my awareness, is a very Australian thing. 🙂

    If I was a moose, I’d delight in being unpredictable too, if only because the animal has enough weight to throw around – with authority.

    I hope your lawn appreciated the gift, as much as your lawn provided gifts for the ‘fly by night’ moose?

    If your computer has contracted an unpleasant infection, then please look elsewhere for the source – well that is until the test results are in… Hehe! Then there will be a little bit of embarrassment.



  45. Hi Claire,

    Thanks and yes, absolutely, fresh home grown strawberries are superb tasting. You are lucky to enjoy the sun ripened berries without the deprivations of every living thing preying upon your harvest. It really was that bad here. We put most of the steel mesh roof up today, so here’s hoping for the season. I also obtained and planted the final two grape vines in the enclosure, which incidentally are sultana varieties which are good table grapes for drying and probably the most commonly seen dried variety. Most of the grapes grown in the enclosure are all rounder varieties and that means that they can produce either table grapes or wines.

    You may be interested to know that having part of the steel mesh on the roof also lowered the intensity of the sun inside the enclosure – which should prolong the growing season. This will be a good thing for high summer when the UV reaches Extreme levels.

    Yeah, I keep replanting corn seeds into the positions where no corn seedling has yet appeared. Hopefully, as you woite, the newer corn seedlings catch up with their elders. I still haven’t planted out the beans and squash in there either. The timing just doesn’t feel right yet to me.

    This years corn seeds were from last years harvest and they were all open pollinated varieties… Maybe they are just later varieties and/or I’m seeing a lot of variability?

    Thanks for sharing details of your summer harvest. It is interesting that you mention the elderberries, but we are producing elderflower wine today and will probably do four demijohns of that. It tastes good doesn’t it? A root cellar is a great idea, and I recall them in houses from when I was a little kid: They used to be very small dark rooms at the rear of the house, and had inbuilt sturdy bins for all of the produce. You rarely see them nowadays – and that reminds me that I should dig one into the side of the hill and line it with durable concrete.

    Brr! I’m feeling cold reading about your snow. It was a perfect sunny late spring day here. The plants are jumping out of the ground!



  46. Hi Steve,

    It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a strawberry patch in possession of a good harvest, must be in want of eating by everything and anything… If I may be so bold as to suggest that nothing beats steel, other than rust. 😉

    Ah yeah, we felt the same about succession planting with strawberries and now we have a system in place to remove all of the old plants at the end of their third year – and then replace them with runners. Nothing else will suffice.

    Raspberries are another interesting plant. Not sure about them, but I remove dead canes and also reduce them at the end of the growing season to about a foot or two off the ground. They grow thickly those plants. I reckon I’ll know something about them if I can keep them going for at least a decade… Berries require a certain level of ruthlessness in their care, but once established they’re pretty easy.

    Far out! That is so cold. You are made of sterner stuff than I, if only because when we woke up this morning the inside of the house was 14’C / 57’F (and 6’C / 42’F) outside and I was feeling a bit chilly… I haven’t run the wood heater for a few weeks now. Glad to read that you are on top of the firewood. Good stuff and respect.

    As a comparison, everything here is hardwood and I have no idea what firewood with softwoods would be like. When the big tree finally comes down, I’ll probably cut and split it for firewood. Maybe – much depends upon the circumstances. Usually the older trees die in place and then form a huge number of hollows so that every bird and animal in the forest gets to live in it like a high-rise building. The larger and older trees generally drop limbs and/or their heads – which incidentally can still be heavy enough to crush a house.



  47. Hi Lewis,

    I’ve begun reading Tolkien’s translation of the tale of Beowulf. It is quite a good tale, although I detect unusual latter additions within the text itself, if only because the language and purport used is out of character with the story. Tolkien was a very clever bloke, and has a much greater grasp of the language than I could ever achieve. One great thing with books is that you can acknowledge with little uncertainty when you are in the presence of genius – or a far superior story teller! Books can also take you to places and times you’re not ever likely to encounter in the flesh. Thanks for mentioning the David Fairchild Food Explorer book. I really enjoyed the unfolding story of his life. In some ways his story reminded me of the first director of the Melbourne Botanical gardens who was the good Baron Ferdinand Von Mueller. An interesting character who achieved much and then the goal posts shifted upon him. Incidentally, every time I pick some of the Meyer lemons I now recall to my mind the story of Frank Meyer.

    Far out! I also really enjoyed the article about a bakers relationship with the fungi that they employ to raise the loaves. Hehe! Great stuff and my favourite quote was: “There’s a lot more life in our houses than we think,” he explains. “To the extent that we’ve thought about it, we’ve tried to kill it.” The kitchen here would be infested with bakers yeast, champagne yeast, and possibly bacteria from the yoghurt. Once we accidentally forgot to add champagne yeast to a demijohn of fermented beverage, and instead added bakers yeast by error – and there was no difference at all to the eventual outcome. Possibly these critters are escaping out into the orchard via the dogs, worms and chickens. Oh yeah, it is intense being an organic orchard (a nod to the cult film Repo Man).

    We went out to the local cinema last night to watch the film: A Star is Born. I really enjoyed it, although you know how I feel about musicals. But then I’m sort of torn: Is the film a musical; or a film with music in it? No doubts wars have been fought over such complexities and differences… What do you reckon? It was a really enjoyable film. For some reason I had it confused in my mind with the film: The Rose, which was loosely based on Janis Joplin. I’m not sure that I saw the 70’s version of A Star is Born.

    I reckon kicking the can down the road is never a good idea – unless one is busily spending their time on preparing for the eventual encounter with the harsh and cruel cold world of reality. I read the Limits to Growth study many months ago, and I can’t argue as to its veracity, but nothing shook me like William Catton Jr’s book “Overshoot”. Far freakin out what a read.

    Yeah, 1922 was a bit after the end of WWI, wasn’t it? I can’t imagine what the soldiers of WWI had to consume. Imagine having to fight after a breakfast of ships hard tack biscuits soaked in water… Yuk!

    Traditionally Anzac biscuits are a hard biscuit, but not hard enough to break a person’s teeth. I reckon the humidity of the day that they’re baked on, impacts upon the final hardness of the biscuits because I bake a batch every week. And the results vary from week to week. But yeah, the microwave trick will work a treat.

    Hey, we picked up the final two grape vines today and planted them in the strawberry enclosure – which is actually a fruit cage. Plus, the weather was so nice that we put up most of the steel welded mesh sheeting over the roof. But believe it or not, despite having a 100ft roll of the stuff, we were short by at least 40ft. Hopefully we sort that out tomorrow as spring is really progressing along at a furious rate. I noted that the Anzac peaches have put on some serious size in the past week or so.

    Yeah, I reckon there is value in the myths too. Was it either your good self or Inge who suggested that I write using the tool of allegory? Few if anyone these days is prepared to take in the harder stories of reality, so I tone it down a bit. Mind you soap boxes can be rather dull – and people forget why the person up there is even speaking in the first place.

    The modem / router problem yesterday was just odd. What happened, should not have happened and there is no logical explanation for it. Move on, nothing to see here! It was certainly a malicious act. Haha! Your push any button and see what happens was once known as: the Commodore 64 users trick. Much more exciting that switching it off and then turning the device back on again.

    Really? TV? Well, I guess people fail to notice what they are dependent on – and their comment to you is more about them than you. I don’t have a TV set up here either. How could I do anything at all if I watched television? I like the comments here by way of comparison, because they’re lovely, and also they keep me sharp and humble.

    Was the Chinese a yum cha? And were there dumplings? Yum! I may have mentioned Peking Duck in an earlier comment. Have you ever eaten that? Nice stuff. Did you pick up any of the interesting boxes at the auction? It sounds like a lucky dip.

    Those turkeys are so huge, I have no idea how anyone could stuff one of the birds into an oven! Still, don’t ignore the turkey that you enjoy for days afterwards. And I see that you scored your pumpkin ice cream. Nice one!



  48. Hello again
    Just to say that the only place where I can rely on a good crop of strawberries, is in a greenhouse. Outside, I battle against every bird and critter.


  49. Hi Chris,
    Until the big money gets out of political campaigns nothing will change. We usually watch the news though why I don’t know. The political ads were indescribably awful and ran one after the other often about issues the candidate had no influence over anyway i.e. abortion. Any third party or independent candidate has a terrible time getting on the ballot as they have to collect many more petitions than the two major parties. Oh yes, because they don’t get a high enough percentage of votes they can’t be in the publicized debates. I think I’ve mentioned that my sister (the one of many boyfriends and husbands) is a Libertarian and has run for the state office of comptroller three times. She’s always out collecting petitions. As she said when she ran her political views have nothing to do with the office and as she was the only candidate with a CPA she was most qualified. Third parties often have some interesting ideas but they don’t get publicized. Our new governor is worth 3.2 billion and his opponent the present governor is only worth about half a billion.

    None of my brothers liked changes to their routine which makes sense. Marty is supposedly high functioning autistic and Patrick and especially Michael had characteristics that one would consider autistic. They definitely have/had their rituals.

    Today started the first deer hunting season (only three days) and for the first time Doug got a deer on opening day. He went out to the woods behind our old house to a friend’s property that’s landlocked. He’s hunted there for years.

    Very sorry about the El Nino wish. I did think about it after I had written and posted it.

    The poplars are hybrids. We planted some at the old house when we first moved there as there were so few trees and the performed as advertised. They also died pretty quickly too. I think only one of the original ones was still standing when we left. The leaves were the favorite tree leaves of the goats.

    Today is in the upper 30’s (3.3C) and it felt quite balmy though there’s snow in for forecast tonight. Out east (New York, New Jersey) they had a pretty awful unexpected early season snowstorm. Lots of accidents and some kids couldn’t even get home from school.

    I would call “A Star is Born” a film with music. Same with “Bohemian Rhapsody” which we saw two weeks ago. We watched the Live Aid concert afterwards and the film depiction was spot on – really quite amazing.


  50. Yo, Chris – It must have been Inge, who suggested allegory. At least I don’t remember suggesting allegory. But then, I don’t remember a lot of things :-).

    Speaking of memory, and, something a bit odd … I had completely forgotten about “The Daily Impact” website, until I was rummaging around and looking for the link to Damo’s blog. So, late last night, I paid a visit and caught up on 4 pages of posts. There was the one about leaf color, and I thought there was a … civil disagreement of opinion, between the blog author, and you. Ozone and climate change vs a lack of natural fertilization. You told an interesting antidote about a tree and an eagle’s nest.

    Any-who. I did a little looking around, this morning, as I wondered about the wildfires and ozone. Ozone is funny stuff, and actually, there’s not much agreement on the stuff. In general. I did find this …


    Well, I went back to look at the leaf change post, again, just to make sure I got my memory right. I’m either entirely misremembering where I saw your comments, or, between last night and this morning, your comments have disappeared from that blog post at The Daily Impact. I can’t quit see (from the sense I get of the blogs owner) that he would go 4 or 5 posts back and delete some posts that were in mild disagreement, with him. There are plenty of contrary posts on his blog, about a lot of things, and he might respond to them, but certainly doesn’t take them down.

    Someone else, from Australia, in the same thread mentioned a tree die off. I think forests, world wide, are in trouble. For a number of reasons. Climate change, ozone, lack of a certain wildness to encourage organic fertilizers. But I’d always thought that, eventually, other species of trees would replace those that went missing.

    Here, this year, our fall colors are still pretty spectacular. But are they as spectacular as previous years? I have nothing to compare it to. Here, looks to be the same. I also wonder how much of a roll length of daylight, plays. I’d guess, some species are heavily influenced by temperatures, perhaps others by daylight. Perhaps some (most?) react to an interplay of those two factors?

    “Secret Life of Trees” must have encountered stiff headwinds. Didn’t show up, yesterday. Might show up today, or tomorrow, if it hasn’t entirely gone astray. It happens, but rarely. Amazing when you consider the number of books sloshing around our library system. (Cont.)

  51. Cont. The Chinese food was very good, and I have two take home containers. With a bit of augmentation, I’ll have two nights worth of dinners from the leftovers. I’d say the place we go, is a slight cut above the usual American Chinese fare. I like duck, but have never had Peking duck. No dumplings, either, but the menu is so extensive, that it would take a couple of months of daily dining, to explore the whole thing.

    The auction was good. I pretty much got what I went after. There was a print that wasn’t to my usual taste, but I felt drawn to it. A kind of Arabian fairytale thing. But, it had a nice Deco feel to it, and, judging from the framing, was 1920s or 30s. Someone had written “Marigold” on the back. So, with that bit of a hint, down the rabbit hold I went. Without too much problem, I discovered that an artist went by the name of Marygold. She was English, and named Marion Crowe. Not much is known about her. And, she may have worked under another name or two. But, she was quit popular, and, besides prints there were picture puzzles, calendars, etc..

    There was also two Indian prints, along with it. I don’t think they’re anything special, but I’ll do a bit of research and pass them along to the Club’s op-shop. There’s a framer’s label on the back, and with that bit of information, away I’ll go. The framing and matting is quit good. They were done in New Delhi. There’s a phone number that only has 5 digits. As a rough dating method, zip codes are handy. They didn’t come into use, here in the States, until 1963.

    I also got a small porcelain figure of a Japanese geisha. Nothing special, but I like her. And, another box lot, I picked up two green iridescent glass vases with a decorative metal framework around the tops, with open mesh to hold flower stems. A flower frog, of sorts. Not the usual color I go for, but there just isn’t much European Art Nouveau, kicking around anymore at a reasonable (to me) price. I thought they might be Loetz glass, but, no. I’d say, Austrian or Bohemian, circa 1900-1910. There were a few other things I was mildly interested in, but the bids went higher than I was willing to pay. So, overall, I came home with much more cash than I budgeted. Lew

  52. @ Margaret – I inherited some little lead figures from my Uncle Larry, of people doing winter things. Skiers and skaters, mostly. See E-Bay. Search Barclay or Manoil winter (or Christmas) figures. I think they were made for train sets. I set the up under the tree with some fake snow and mirror lake.

    I haven’t done it yet, but eventually might take a plunge into the farm figures. See Barclay, Manoil (and Britains) farm figures.

    When I was a kid, in the 50’s, I had one of those farm sets. Tin barn and silo, etc. A ton of animals. Well, when I had my shop I ran across a complete set at an estate sale. So, as Christmas was coming, I paid a visit to Michael’s craft store, set it up in the front window and tarted it up to look Christmas. Little wreathes around the cows necks … bottle brush decorated trees. Tiny wrapped packages, here and there. It sold, without too much trouble. I was a bit sorry to see it go. Lew

  53. Hi Lew,

    Yeah, I am a little worried about thanksgiving. We are mostly camping and should be somewhere between San Francisco and Los Angeles around that time. I am sure it will all work out :-p

    Black Friday sales do sound intriguing. From what I have seen on youtube I don’t think I want to be close, maybe need some sort of hide like nature photographers use 🙂

    If you are still looking for my blog link, I think you can just click my name at top of this post (that should work for any poster with a blog).


  54. Chris,

    Ah yes, the famous Manual Labour. I’ve met him several times, so I have. Missed is fights with el toro, however.

    No, my computer problem simply needed the old school trick of turn it off and then back on. However, it took me a couple hours before I decided to try it! If it had been my old Comomodore 64 (thanks for bringing that up in a reply to someone else. I miss that computer!), I would’ve done the shut down and restart immediately. I “know” too much now and it makes things too complicated sometimes.

    I appreciated the slang lesson re: “Skippy”.

    The moose seemed to appreciate the gifts. The grass appreciated the moose’s gift. The compost pile adored the moose’s gift. Everyone was happy.

    I see others are experiencing winter already. We’ve gotten into the nasty type of before winter el nino weather: high pressure inversions, colder than normal temperatures and lots of fog. The fall colors, however, were the best they’ve been in several years. The leaves have all fallen, too, which doesn’t always happen before it snows and stays snowy. My hawthorn trees often don’t drop their leaves until late November, but I could’ve raked them up 10 days ago.


  55. Hi Inge,

    Ta da! The fruit cage roof was completed today – and yet somehow a juvenile parrot still managed to get itself stuck inside the cage. Youth’s these days! I’ll have to make some changes to the wire mesh around the door as I suspect that is the weak link and where the bird broke in. Honestly, I wasn’t sure whether I should feed the confined parrot to Ollie the cattle dog who would appreciate the feed, or let the bird go to learn its lesson and perhaps teach the follies of its ways to the other parrots (who to be fair seemed rather concerned for the stuck parrot). What would you recommend?

    As a postscript to the above story, the editor let the bird out of the fruit cage. The parrots are very clever, and they used to break into the old chicken enclosure and get stuck in there too… The chickens were furious and they did their level best to eat the parrots, who to their credit were surprisingly nimble and agile, but were unable to avoid the dogs. Oh well.

    It is really complex to put your wits to the test against every other species in the forest. Oft times, they come out on top, smiling and full of tasty produce, which does make a bit of a mockery of this whole sapiens claim!

    Have your forest critters gone into their winter modes yet or are you seeing them still out and about?



  56. Hi Margaret,

    Absolutely, donations and lobbying efforts are at the core of a lot of rotten apples, and until they’re rooted out and disposed of and political parties have to rely on grass roots support, then we’ll get what we’ve always gotten – until things are taken too far of course – which is the more likely outcome. And then a whole bunch of unpleasantness may occur. As a general bit of advice, keep your head down, because heads stuck up are likely to be cut off. Honestly, I get bored easily when I hear advertisements from politicians spruiking ‘special issues’ that mean a whole bunch to a small section of the population – but basically most people couldn’t give a stuff about. And yes, abortion is one of those issues. Down here recently, the federal government appears to have fallen into a self-reverential bubble, and out of all of the pressing issues that actually need addressing they concern themselves with: Scott Morrison ‘has a blind spot’: Bitter Liberal MPs won’t stay silent for long on religious freedom split. Incidentally, they actually lost that safe seat to an independent candidate who is apparently a lesbian – so if they can’t learn a thing or two from that… And then the other weird issue that won’t stay quiet with them is: Moving the Australian embassy to Jerusalem makes sense. Yeah, let’s piss off the entire middle east, and our closest neighbour to boot, Indonesia – what a great idea. Of course, it is worth mentioning again that the government lost one of their very safest seats because of this nonsense, so the electorate is taking a good hard look at these numpties and voting for anyone else. Have they got the message? Probably not. Will it happen in your part of the world – who knows?

    Well done her for being a CPA! A worthy calling. Of course, if wealth was measured in units that are dependent upon other peoples actions and activities then wouldn’t you if you were extraordinarily wealthy want to get involved? 😉 That one about the wealth and politics is an old story. The thing is the money printing processes do more to unravel that story, than any bunch of nonsense ever could. Wealth I feel is in the soil and the ability to utilise that – other forms at this stage are pure fiction.

    Hang on, Marty? I’ve met a few high functioning folks in my time, and they are usually very pleasant – and usually very focused. How does this compare to Marty? Out of polite – but an awkward concern – has Marty so far escaped the health issues of his brothers?

    Go Doug, and congrats on bagging a deer. Your freezer will soon be full to the brim. As an interesting side story, I took a minor side road today – that particular road is so bad that it proclaims ‘No Road’ at either end of one particular section, but I do know that it goes through, and I noted that one of the landholders up there who run cattle, has now surrounded their farm with very tall deer fencing. An extraordinary cost, when bagging deer and consuming them would be the far cheaper option. That is the point of deer’s ecological niche after all.

    Don’t worry at all about the El Nino comment. Sometimes we have bad summers down here, but most of the time, they’re OK – and you can’t tell which it will be. This week looks set to deliver another inch or two of rain, but it is a month to month and day to day thing – as it is everywhere.

    Brr! I’ll take your word for it that the day felt balmy, although I really hate to mention that today was sunny and 64’F – and we finished off the fruit cage, only to discover that a juvenile parrot had somehow managed to break in (an impressive effort, but those birds are smart as).

    Yeah, I thought much the same about the film as the music was a side story to the larger drama of the interactions between the two main characters. I had not previously heard Lady Gaga sing, and I’m embarrassed to admit that I shed a tear or two during the film. Yes, yes, deep down I’m a romantic… 🙂

    The editor was a big fan of Queen when she was in her younger days (and even saw them perform in the late 80’s), but we’re not really sure about that film because whilst we may enjoy and respect the music, do we really want to know about Freddie’s cats and his personal life? Dunno.

    Because the world is upside down here, I distinctly recall waking up in the middle of the night to watch Billy Joel perform at the Live Aid concert way back in the day. The event was a massive undertaking and was simulcast down here with the TV providing the visuals and the FM radio providing the stereo sound. At the time I had a massive amplifier and my speakers and could literally rock the block. No doubts I damaged some of my hearing during those heady days. Do you recall watching it back in the day?



  57. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, my brain is so stuffed full of all sorts of fascinating (to me of course) information that I can barely remember last week, let alone a conversation that we may have had several years ago! Despite the little details falling through the gaps (a necessary evil) I reckon both you and I are still engaged with this great experience that is life. Anyway, I saw an article about a 94 year old farmer out in Western Australia, and I thought that you’d enjoy his sentiments, words and wisdom (I sure did): Still working: 94-year-old farmer Dick Vincent says his job keeps him alive.

    The bloke reminds me of the editor’s uncle who sadly passed away two years back. He was a good bloke, and I reckon was a bit high functioning, if you know what I mean, as he had a real knack with the piano and could hear music and then repeat it – and often used that incredible skill to fend off uncomfortable things (for him) like small talk, but still remain part of the centre of social things.

    Well that was a bit weird about the Daily Impact comments wasn’t it? All I can add to a discussion is observations about what I see and have seen, and the possible implications about those observations. One thing that is not lost on me is that everyone wants to find the silver bullet that means they can have their cake and eat it too, but life is more complex than that and ofttimes there are several inter-competing causes.

    I can’t bring to mind the image of the huge eucalyptus tree and the sea eagles nest on that river in Tasmania’s remote west (last century to boot), but I recall the words of the captain of the boat who pointed out the nest to me and seemed pleased that someone had noticed the difference. There is a belief down here – which defies my observations – that the indigenous trees somehow don’t require watering and/or fertilisation. It is more of a wish fulfilment concept than what I’ve observed, if only because I’ve killed a few indigenous trees through benign neglect in the past. Nowadays, I know a thing or two about plants and they all need a bit of assistance (at first anyway).

    Hey, I finally installed the remaining sections of roof over the fruit cage today – and a very young juvenile parrot a few hours ago managed to find the weak link in the cage. Back to the drawing board! I’m unsure how the parrot got into the cage, and so will have to observe them and see what happened.

    I’m not seeing any tree die off specifically here, but I reckon if the world changed to a warmer and wetter world, that would present some serious issues to forests in temperate locales. Too much of anything can be a bad thing and I doubt that temperate forests have the mineral reserves to rapidly bounce back, but it will happen, so it becomes a timing issue more than anything else – for the trees at least.

    I see drier forests to the north of here, and they don’t look good, but they could if we gave them a bit more attention and a little less ideology. It happens.

    Exactly, about the fall colours. Incidentally, I’ve been wondering if the trees will adapt to the changing climate. Dunno, but I do note that some oak trees (which are imports as they were not originally on the continent) adapt to warmer autumns and winters by losing most, but not all of their leaves. I call that hedging ones bets!

    Thanks for the link to the article and wildfires sure are strange places. And some are far worse than others. The hole in the ozone layer down here in the high atmosphere is still an issue that has not gone away. I wonder if it impacts the northern hemisphere as badly as down here? The ozone layer. The world is a complex place and we mess with it at our peril. Ah, I see that the ozone hole over the Arctic has gotten biggerer too and is rivalling ours. A bit of a shame that, as I would like to think that we do things bigger, and more unpleasantly down here. Hehe!

    I hope you get a chance to read the book about the Secret life of trees as it sounds fascinating. I hope that Paul Stamets is referred to as I am aware that he has thoughts about that topic.

    Peking Duck is good, and your mission should you choose to accept it is… Mind you, I have had exposure to some real deal Chinese food when a friend of mine and the editor investigated the offal offerings on a menu – and I was found to be not worthy of such great culinary heights…

    I recall that you have mentioned your love of Art Deco items in the past. Have you ever had the chance to live in an Art Deco house or apartment? They were usually very well constructed and had reasonable sized rooms with high ceilings. But I also liked some of the fancier details that were employed in the construction of the buildings – like picture rails in rooms and ornate plaster work. In these days of sheet rock plaster, picture rails are a useful quirk from an earlier time.

    I’ve heard of authors using pseudonyms, but do artists also do that? Well that is news to me.

    Your Japanese geisha figurine sounds like quite the buy and would be very pleasant to look at and enjoy. I would enjoy visiting Japan as I approve of the culture. Interestingly, Shinzo Abe arrives in Darwin for first visit by Japanese leader – an interesting place to visit given the WWII history – and China’s ambitions in the area. Whatever will they think of next?

    We put down 1.3 cubic yards of compost and mulch today with which we intend to plant out pumpkins (the things that you call squashes! 😉 ) and various melons. As usual we are running behind in terms of the season, but that is how it rolls sometimes…



  58. Chris:

    There were two wild turkeys trying to cross a rather busy rural two-lane highway near me. I watched them for a while (huge birds) and they’d start across and then a car would come and they’d back up and then start again. They were a funny pair, but finally made it. Not a great time to be a turkey around here because turkey hunting season has begun and Thanksgiving is next week . . .

    I have noticed that there is a lining to our cast iron wood stove and that it is warped some. I don’t know if the liner is cast iron as well. Did you ever run into that problem? It is a fantastic little stove, has served us so well for 26 years.

    Our power has been out for two days. It was raining and then the temperature dropped and all the trees became encased in ice, and there were still quite a few leaves left on the trees. Huge branches were falling all the first day (it’s nice weather now). No vehicles were hit, but I saw a glass repair truck heading up the road so I don’t think one of my neighbors was so lucky. We have more future firewood available now.


  59. Hi Chris,

    Only Michael had a lot of health conditions. Patrick was fine other than the usual aches of someone beyond 50. Marty is a hypochondriac and thinks he has everything wrong with him. Hospital visits ( usually without telling any of his family until after the fact) are a regular occurrence with him. He had to be convinced once that pink eye was not a valid reason to call 911. At any rate he’s had tons of tests and mostly is just fine – especially for 65. He wasn’t too pleasant when he was younger and when he lived with us he caused the most problems which was unfortunate because of the three brothers he could actually help out pretty significantly. He knew he had higher abilities than his brothers and let them know on a regular basis. Fast forward some years and his personality has improved considerably. I think he was just happier once he had his own place. He had always lived with our mother until she died and then with my sister until we enlarged our house and finally with us for a couple of years. It was until he was 48 that he got his first place. Other than needing a little help managing money he does quite well. He has a long term girl friend who is also has an intellectual disability – in fact I think more so than Patrick and Michael. Gwen is a regular at all our family gatherings now. As anyone who is autistic Marty doesn’t always get social cues but he has friends and seems quite content. If you have seen “Rain Man” you might recall that Raymond Babbitt described Las Vegas as very sparkly. Often we refer times with the brothers and/or Gwen as “sparkly”.

    The film glossed over some of the events in Freddie Mercury’s life. The music was great though. I’ve always thought that Lady Gaga is quite talented musically and apparently she can act too.

    Doug and I figured we must have watched some of Live Aid but we don’t remember.


  60. Hello again
    Of course I would let the parrot go. I actually spend quite a bit of time saving things that have got trapped. I do remember being horribly pecked by a tiny bird that I was unravelling from netting.
    Plenty of birds around at present and the squirrels remain out and about all winter. Wood mice are seeking winter quarters in my walls, I hear them scrabbling around when I am trying to sleep.
    Managed to slip over on slippery decking on Thursday and nearly ended up in my pond. Fortunately my arm hit an upright post and I still had the strength to twist myself away. No injuries at all, so my ageing bones are still strong.
    Usually I am very careful but I hadn’t realised that the decking was wet. Shall get Son to run rubber matting along it. I do have this down elsewhere.


  61. Yo, Chris – Our El Nino winters are warmer and dryer. What they fail to mention is that’s usually when we have “arctic outbreaks.” Bone chilling cold (in the teens, F) for weeks. No thanks. Overall, it might be warmer and dryer. Except for those pesky little episodes. At least I’m living somewhere, now, where I have half a chance of staying warm.

    Memory and brain quirks. Last week I got my electric bill, and as I was going to be driving past the PUD that night, made out the check and threw it in the drop box. Save a stamp, and all that. Well. A few days later, I get an envelope from the PUD … with my check in it. I had the right amount in the numbers box on the check. But the bit where you write it out? An amount completely out of left field. Have no idea where that came from. But the point of the story (there is a point?) is that when I went to lunch with my buddy Scott, I told him the story. He got the oddest look on his face. “Thanks you for telling me that. I did the same thing, week before last, and thought I was losing it. I feel so much better, now.” LOL. Maybe it’s the ozone. Didn’t one of those articles say too much ozone makes older people a bit … vague?

    Mr. Vincent sounds like a hoot. Or, a kick in the pants. Or, both. What a collection of old coots. It was interesting what he said about his partner. That, earlier in life, the age difference might cause comment. When I was a kid, 7 or so, we’d visit Montana, every other year. There were a lot of rich old ranchers around, then. Even to my young eye, it seemed odd that they all seemed to be married to ex-rodeo queens, young enough to be their grand daughters. :-).

    He also mentioned friends his own age who have few interests. I keep my mouth shut, but don’t have much patience with older (or younger, for that matter) who have no “interests.” The world is interesting, and so are some of the people in it. To not being engaged in … something, is a choice. And, I don’t think, a very good one. Just my entirely unsolicited opinion.

    Birds are willy. Some of my chickens were real escape artists and it was always a bit of a mystery how they got out. There were one or two that always seemed out when I took out “the goodies” in the afternoon. At first, I’d chase them down. Then I wised up. I’d feed the rest of the chickens, and they could see the goodies disappearing. Sometimes they could find their way back inside, in time to get a bit. Sometimes not. Their problem, not mine. Usually, the lesson would “stick” for a few days. Not much memory, I think.

    Can’t say I’ve ever lived in a true Art Deco house. Behind my Uncle Larry’s place, down in Portland, was a small Art Deco gem. A little house, but pure Deco. I guess is had been designed and built by an architect, for himself. Those houses can be a bit hard to maintain. Flat roofs, mostly.

    Oh, lots of people use pseudonyms, besides authors. Artists, musicians, movie actors. Your’s truly was not born with the name Lewis Lucan (don’t ask). But, I’d been going by that handle (more or less) since the early 70s, and finally went to court and had it changed about 15 years ago. The credit union was getting sticky about it.

    Oh, the little geisha figure is nothing special, but I like her. There was a lot of other Asian “stuff” in the box lot, but I don’t think I’ll keep any of it. I need to take a good look at what I’ve got. There was also a 10 or 12 inch geisha doll. Quit sumptuous material, in her costume. But, so far, she hasn’t “spoken” to me, so, she might go to the Club op-shop. I found out a bit more about the Indian prints. The framing company is still in business, and has expanded into opening an Indian modern art gallery. My prints are probably from the 1940s, but I don’t think they’re anything really special.

    I picked up “The Hidden Life of Trees” (Wohllenben, 2016) this morning. I hope we’re all on the same page. There seem to be a couple of books with similar titles. I also picked up “This Victorian Life: Modern Adventures in Nineteenth-Century Culture, Cooking, Fashion, and Technology.” (Chrisman, 2015). It’s been on my “to read” list, for awhile. You may have heard of them. They pretty much live like Victorians, 24/7. They also live in my State, up in Port Townsend.

    That was interesting about the Japanese Prime Minister visiting Australia. Attempts at patching things up, after all these years. I’ve also always been interested in Japan, and would have liked to have visited. Oh, well. Next life. A couple of weeks ago I watched a documentary called “Paper Lanterns.” Now that made me shed a tear or two. There were 12 American POWs, when we dropped the bomb. It’s their story, and the story of the little old Japanese man who’s been telling their story for 40 years. Lew

  62. Hi Lewis,

    Just finished writing tomorrow’s blog – and have run out of time for lengthy replies. I’m unsure whether we’re reaching for the stars here in relation to the many activities and projects – or we just don’t have that much fat to spare. Today was quite warm, and I had to set up and run some irrigation to the tomato enclosure. But believe it or not, another storm looks set to dump some serious rain over the farm from Tuesday night to Thursday. The combination of hot weather and regular rainfall is turning the place into a bit of a jungle. Hey, I discovered what looks like the first kiwi fruit that I have grown. I put a photo on tomorrow’s blog. I planted one male plant and two female kiwi fruit vines (and a self-pollinating vine – Issai variety).

    Exactly the same here too. Warmer (and occasionally wetter and drier years) with exceptional frosts and heatwaves chucked in for good measure. The news from the Californian fires is not good. Mind you, down here in 1851 (only 17 years after the arrival of European settlers with all that entailed), a quarter of the entire state burned in only a few days – and the state has the same land area as the UK, so claims that wildfires are getting bigger appear not to be supported by the evidence. That one was epic.

    Hehe! I’m amazed that the PUD noticed the discrepancy between the text and the numbers on the cheque. You rarely encounter cheques down under these days – although I did obtain a ‘bank cheque’ recently for reasons that shall be revealed in good time. Bank cheques are good because they have guaranteed clearance because they are backed by the bank who wouldn’t issue them if there were no funds to back it up.

    Vague and ozone! It’s a big call, but I have no idea. I’ll tell ya what though, I’m seeing stress in other people creating some interesting undocumented features. There appears to be a bit of stress about the place.

    My money is on both for Mr Vincent. He sounds alright that bloke. I really enjoyed listening to his vernacular too. Since moving up to the country I have also noticed that I’ve perceptibly slowed the rate at which I speak. Sometimes I use that to introduce an ironic twist to a conversation. Dunno why I do that at all, it just seems to fit.

    The world is an endlessly fascinating place, and yeah I don’t get the whole ‘having no interests’ thing either. I have met some people who lose themselves in their work. Dunno about that either.

    Willy! As in Willy Coyote? Well, can you believe the cheek of the parrots? I just went outside to check a few minutes ago and they were hanging around the enclosure and testing all of the weak spots. And we scored three sun ripened strawberries plus the promise of more in the coming days. Incidentally the steel mesh roof reduces the UV inside the enclosure and I reckon that might just extend the growing season right through summer? Mind you, none of this stuff makes any economic sense. Strawberries aren’t that expensive, but neither do they taste as good. There is a conundrum in there…

    I haven’t lived in an Art Deco house either. Interestingly, that style of building was used to produce some of the earliest apartment blocks down here – and they really are lovely buildings. There are usually four apartments to the building and all of the party walls are solid brick which means they’re usually really quiet too. You can see them in some of the older beach suburbs south east of Melbourne – but not too far out from the CBD.

    Flat roofs make no sense to me. You never see them down here on residential buildings as sooner or later they will flood. They are however used on industrial buildings but usually the drainage pipes and channels are huge – but even still.

    Thanks for the story about your name and I shall not ask! 😉 It is a good name that you have taken on.

    Art does have to speak to you in order to find a place at your table! I was rather rudely interrupted because Scritchy bit Ollie and there was a tuft of Ollie hair hanging out of her mouth. Nice shot Scritchy because Ollie was baiting her to get a reaction. Youth is wasted upon the young…

    It is a nice thing to procure items for the Club op-shop. Very thoughtful. I don’t generally display prints, other than one that was painted by a young lady who claims to have synaesthesia, and the colours are extraordinary and haunting.

    I hope that we are all speaking about the same book too, because it seems a bit odd that trees have any secret lives, let alone many books worth!

    Culturally we discard stories far too quickly. I reckon the old bloke telling the Paper Lantern tale is onto something. And yes, the whole thing is extraordinarily sad.

    Cheers (not quite an appropriate ending, but I am an upbeat personality even when events move against me)


  63. Yo, Chris – Kiwi/Strawberry might be a nice combo to try? I’m surprised that with your occasional rain and humidity, you don’t have more of a problem with strawberry fungus. A good mulch under them helps that. Sometimes.

    Bank checks, also called bank drafts, cashier’s checks, certified checks, etc.. Money orders? Whatever they’re called, most banks here still insist you wait for 5 business days to draw funds. It’s one of those situations where I always think “I thought computers and electronics were supposed to be so lightening fast.” Another of those “It’s 2018. This should be sorted.” But I guess there’s quite a few scams out there involving those kinds of checks.

    Well, it seems like the media is always full of articles about modern day stress. And, if it’s not stress, it’s depression. Given the state of the modern world, no surprise, I suppose. But, again, how one reacts to things can be a bit of a choice.

    Well, I certainly noticed a bit of slowing down when I moved here. But the pace has picked up, a bit, from the early 1980s.

    Maybe that’s part of the appeal of Art Deco architecture? That it can be small houses, 4 unit apartments, and can also scale up to things like the Chrysler Building. Hmmm. A theory, at least. Of course, the initial appeal was that it was “modern.” I think we’ve mentioned before that there are a couple a’ three threads in Art Deco. On one hand, stylized foliage, flowers and even animals and people. On the other, speed lines and a more industrial feel. It was also about using new materials or materials in a different way.

    Well, donating to the Club op-shop is not as altruistic as it appears. Though, I’ll take it. :-). It solves the problem of what to do with the stuff that comes in the box lots. Instead of piling up in odd corners of my apartment.

    It appears that Japanese civilian authorities treated POWs, better, than the military. Ten of the POWs were killed outright by the blast. Two survived by jumping in a cess pit, but died of radiation poisoning three or four days later. They were moved to another police station, and in the middle of all that chaos and horror, the commander managed to get a doctor to see them and even found them a bit of whisky and chocolate. They were respectfully buried. Where I lost it was a picture of their graves. Someone had placed flowers on the mounds.

    The tree book is translated out of German. A good translation, I think, but as it is with those things, there’s a feeling you can’t quit put your finger on that the language is just a bit askew. Still, a good read.

    It’s another pea souper, here, this morning. Visibility about a city block. I had just a snatch of a dream, last night, that I was explaining to two new foreigners (French? German?) about our dark and gray winters. Probably because in “This Victorian Life” the author was talking about our dark and gray winters :-). I’m a couple of chapters into that book, and it’s interesting. The author makes the point, a couple of times, that sometimes, a bit of Victorian technology is pretty useless as there was a whole Victorian infrastructure to support it, which is now gone. An interesting “take” that I’ll have to think about in relation to other time periods. one example she used is that although she writes everything out, “…not a publisher in the world will accept anything other than an electronic file…” Maybe not entirely accurate, but more truth than not in that statement. Lew

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