The Omega Kids

Earlier in the week, the editor and I had a desire to see the ocean. And so, we took ourselves – and the shiny new, dirt mouse Suzuki – to visit a coastal town that we know and love along the Great Ocean Road.

It is a nice town, and the local fisherman’s co-operative sells battered and fried scallops, which are extraordinarily tasty. We munched on the seafood whilst we ambled along the sea wall of the local harbour which juts out into the bay and protects the local fishing fleet (and pleasure craft). The weather was cloudy and cold and the wind was calm, but best of all, the cold weather meant that it was quiet.

The next day we enjoyed a delightful breakfast at a local cafe, and then a few hours later fortified ourselves with a scallop curry pie. Scallops are good!

All that yummy seafood demanded that we stroll along the beach for an hour or two. As we walked along the beach, I noticed that the high tide line in the sand appeared higher than I’d previously noted in earlier visits to the town. I was mildly assured to see that the local authorities appeared to have also noticed this, as they were installing rocks into the single dune that stood between the ocean swimming beach and the parts of the town closest to the beach. They were even using a bobcat to brush sand in between the rocks, which I thought was a nice touch. Neat AF!

A bit further along the coast to the south, the authorities appear to have removed a lot of sand last year to place on the swimming beach. The sand must have washed away over the winter, because I have no idea where it was. And a toilet block used by swimmers on the beach to the south, had been removed. I discovered an article which suggested that the building had been in danger of disappearing into the ocean. But, perhaps the land had actually disappeared into the ocean, because we couldn’t discover where the small building had sat despite having seen it by the side of the road for many years.

Anyway, it was nice that the authorities had decided to use rocks to hold back the ocean rather than simply replacing the sand for it to then wash away in the next big storm. To paraphrase the scientist Einstein, it is a bit bonkers to do what has always been done and expect a different outcome.

For some reason, seeing all that beach repair business, and despite the tasty scallops in my satisfied stomach, I began thinking about zombies.

Two dystopian films with the actor Charlton Heston, have always stuck in my mind. I’d seen them on television on repeat as a very young child. One was ‘Soylent Green’, where a police officer who was the protagonist in the story, unfortunately discovers that the commonly distributed food stuff of the future was produced using humans as the base ingredient. I doubt very much that humans would be as tasty as scallops!

The other film was, ‘The Omega Man’, which was a film adaption of Richard Matheson’s science-fiction novel, I Am Legend. I wasn’t sure whether the zombie like humans in the film were eating humans, and they probably weren’t eating scallops. However, they were seriously interested in killing the protagonist who was most un-zombie like. In fact the protagonist of the story lived as the lone human in the city in a heavily fortified house where he had to venture out during the day for supplies. At night the zombie like humans spent their efforts on breaking into the heavily fortified residence and trying to kill him.

Eventually the zombie like humans managed to catch the protagonist, and just before they executed him for living like an upper middle class human during the middle of the apocalypse, he was rescued by some hippies. I always thought that the hippie rescue was a nice touch to the film. To cut a long story short, the protagonist eventually saved the hippies by providing them with a blood transfusion which gave them immunity from turning into zombie like creatures. Oh, and the protagonist was eventually killed by the zombies. Very sad.

I’m not really a fan of hippies, if only because most of the ones that I’ve met in my time haven’t impressed me. But at the back of my mind I’ve always had this nagging doubt that maybe the hippies are right? Certainly watching a film where the hippies win over the zombies makes a salient point!

A few days ago, I listened to a radio news program and read an article about: Students strike for climate change protests, defying calls to stay in school. I reckon the kids might be onto something, and it is nice that they’ve attracted the ire of none other than our most recent Prime Minister ScoMo or whatever his real name is. Seriously, it is hard to keep up with that lot.

Both sides of the protest make some salient points. For example, fossil fuels are pretty handy, however burning fossil fuels at a rate which upsets the planets environment which supports us all is probably not a smart idea. As I listened to the news program and read the news article, I wondered whether the kids would be all that happy to walk away from fossil fuels. The alternative for the kids is that they do the same as their parents, and their parents parents, and expect a different outcome, and we all know how smart that is.

And I still don’t know whether the hippies have got it right, because very occasionally I encounter some hippies/alternative lifestylers who are doing things differently. It is a challenge. Are the kids up for that?

When we were near the seaside, we helped ourselves to many cuttings of very colourful geraniums which were growing in profusion. We are now propagating them.

Cuttings of some very colourful geraniums which we are propagating

The combination of hot weather and torrential downpours has continued for the moment. Some of the paths and stairs around the farm were completely grown over, and we had to hack and slash the zombies, sorry I meant to write – the excessive plant growth.

Ollie is impressed with the hack and slash job on the plants which had overgrown this staircase

All of the plant material was dumped into a new garden bed which is getting established around the Poopy-quat (Sir Poopy fox bane’s resting place).

The plant material cut away from paths and stairs is used as fertiliser for a new garden bed

The path to the chicken enclosure was completed this week with additional rocks on the downhill side of the path as well as a surface of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime.

The path to the chicken enclosure – Done!

We had some leftover crushed rock with lime and so I carried the remainder up and placed it near to the recently constructed shed and two water tanks.

Crushed rock with lime was placed as an all weather surface near to the recently constructed shed

And we mowed over half of the farm. A massive job for which I am thankful that we now have the second hand self propelled heavy duty mower, which the editor used. I used the Honda push mower. I’m really impressed that the editor could do twice as many hours of mowing as I could.

Mowing around the fruit trees was done with the Honda push mower
Mowing the wide swaths of paddock and in between the fruit trees was done with the self propelled mower

Whilst the editor continued to mow, long after I’d given up in exhaustion, I decided to spend a couple of hours weeding the tomato enclosure.

The author weeds the large tomato enclosure
The tomatoes are doing really well given they were all sown as seeds outside this year
We’ve also added three rows of eggplant, capsicum (pepper), and chilli’s

Since we’ve foiled the pesky parrots, the strawberry harvest has been epic.

We’re harvesting about this many strawberries per day
How perfect is this strawberry?

In rat fink news: The rats have again foiled our best efforts and, zombie like, they’ve managed to break into the fortified chicken enclosure and now we’re not getting that many eggs.

In other produce news:

It should be a good harvest of red and black currants (we use them for wine making)
We ate our first cherries of the seasons this week
We’re just beginning to harvest the plentiful potatoes. There are few plants that are as low care as these
The gooseberries are not quite yet ripe – but they’re close
I can’t quite tell whether these are kiwi fruit or flowers of the vine? It looks as though they may be flowers.

Onto the flowers:

It’s rhody time!
Daisies flower in profusion
Ajuga or bugleweed grows in the shadier parts of the orchard
This rose looks like it is going to be a stunner
How good are these Canary Island foxgloves?
The gardens are a riot of colour
Poppies appear to have overgrown the Poopy-quat. Does this make them Poopy-pops?
Granny’s bonnets are a hardy and reliable flowering plant
Comfrey is flowering en masse and the bees and chickens love it

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 853.6mm (33.6 inches) which is higher than last week’s total of 835.8mm (32.9 inches).

60 thoughts on “The Omega Kids”

  1. Hi, Chris!

    Your place is looking amazing, a blaze of colour. This does seem to be a growing sort of Spring, despite the changeability of the weather. Last year, most of our fruit was hit hard by a late frost. This year, looks like we’ll be drowning in figs, plums, peaches – even gooseberries! I am currently searching for my dehydrator, which was surplus to requirement last year.

    Ollie is obviously eating well – he’s huge! My regards to the Fluffy Collective, who have fallen on their furry feet living with you!

    I do not envy you and the editor having to mow all that grass. We have very little, thank heavens, and I meanly leave it all to my husband to mow. Weeding the paths often falls to me, though, so I reckon we’re about even in the work stakes.

    We’ve had some rain in Canberra! Not nearly as much as you, but enough to encourage a lot of new growth everywhere. And I thought you might find it interesting, that the ACT government are building ponds and “rain gardens” along storm drains. The idea seems to be that they catch silt and fertiliser runoff, and the plants around the ponds use it, which makes nice green spaces, and keeps the stuff out of the water catchments. A bit of work up-front, and then nature does your work for you.

    May the zombies never find you, and may all your wines ferment in peace.


  2. I am loving all the shade that the fruit trees are providing near the chicken coop. Those trees are growing profusely. Wonderful!

  3. Hi Inge,

    I wonder if there is a book that describes how springs work in the landscape? It could be interesting. There was an ‘Australian Story’ on the ABC (the equivalent of the BBC ) about a bloke who altered the way that water flowed in and across the landscape on his farm. I read his book and have implemented many changes based on his observations – which by the way, work. Water and the land is a funny (meaning strange) thing. If you have time and the interweb tolerance: How Peter Andrews rejuvenates drought-struck land | Australian Story. I don’t know nearly enough about this most important of matters, but I’m learning fast…

    Ah yes, your son did well to identify the problem with your sewer pipe. I’ve noticed that water has a tendency to move downhill. Fixing such a problem takes a little bit longer. Sometimes the best thing to do is dig the pipe up and re-lay it – or enlarge the pipe. I tend to keep such systems easily repairable, but even still there are some systems here that would give me a massive headache (and a whole lot of work to fix) if they failed. What do you do?

    Enjoy your time away from the screen, and I hope you get to read some enjoyable books in the meantime. 🙂



  4. Hi Pam,

    I have it on good authority that the particular chemical in question is: chlorine dioxide, but I’m no chemist so I can’t confirm or deny that. A little bit is probably not harmful, but you know, like everything too much is probably not good… The flour looks like a creamy colour to me, and it tastes the same and I noticed a mildly soporific effect after consuming the loaf today, but further testing is in order. I suspect older varieties of wheat with the germ still included in the flour may produce a different outcome again, but that is a story (hopefully) for next year. Until then, it is all pure speculation on my part. Have you tried older strains of grain such as spelt? Thanks for the link.



  5. Hi Lewis,

    Well, I recall from my youth that long hair was considered as being unacceptable if it fell to the shoulders. It amuses me how much effort we as a species put into homogenising visuals so as to identify with one tribe or another. I’m quite boring on that front and wear a very consistent ‘look’ which was unfortunately hijacked by none other than Steve Jobs. And I couldn’t imagine anyone more different than myself. However fortunately for me, and unlike the goatee during the early 90’s, the turtle necked skivvy and jeans combo never quite took off with the IT crowd – or anyone else for that matter. Phew! That’s a relief.

    Bruce Springsteen told a story about long hair, which has always stuck in the back of my mind. Bruce Springsteen – The River (live/1975-85) -full length-. I reckon it was his best song, but it is full of longing, regret and sadness and he tells a great story.

    That’s not much good about insurance. Oh well. What do you say to that? I mean if they set themselves up as a desirable target, then they become a desirable target. That isn’t about them, it is about what they’ve got.

    How sad would that be, having to sell an heirloom just because you no longer could afford to keep away the predators? Insurance is one of those matters that is on my mind, and I do wonder about the future of it. In the past insurance was only something offered as a gamble on overseas freight – and also for subscriptions for the local fire service. I guess it may revert to that in the future, maybe.

    Well, that is a right and proper function! And I hope that you took note of the ceramics on the ornate steel shelf in the first photo on this week’s blog? None are useful, but they provide much enjoyment! The Dr Seuss looking teapot never fails to bring a smile to me. We picked that one up in a flea market of all places.

    When I was a kid, my mum used to keep eggs in a large ceramic broody chicken which used to sit on the bench (the head was able to be removed from the body of the ceramic chicken). I do note that people refrigerate eggs, but frankly they don’t last long around here – and you may have noticed the ‘rat fink’ update? I’m winning against the parrots, and whilst I celebrated that win, the rats slid on in, and took advantage of my hubris. Who would pick this life? 🙂 The rats are clearly smarter or more determined than I.

    Exactly, the unbleached flour has a short shelf life of between six and twelve months according to the supplier. Chlorine dioxide is a powerful disinfectant – and that basically means that it kills pretty much any and all of the life in the flour. But will it continue killing flora and fauna in your guts after it has been consumed? Or is it inert. Frankly I don’t know. I suspect a lot of preservative agents are like that.

    Nope, you picked it. Bread is baked and eaten by the next day at the latest, and kept on the bench. If visitors turn up, I bake bread for them that day – usually so they enjoy the full aroma of the baking process. I can tease, if needs be. Unfortunately people have a story in their heads that baking bread is really complex and takes a dedicated machine and a lot of time. Needless to say, that is a lie. If I need to bake a loaf during the week when I work, I mix the ingredients together and keep them in a plastic container in the freezer and bring them out – add water – mix – leave to rise – and then bake. Too easy.

    I did like the idea of an in-ground Olympic sized pool. The editor may not be convinced of the merit of that idea. 😉 Well, if I can get bread wheat in before fall (in a yet to be dug terrace) then, how good would that be? And the editor wants to grow more globe artichokes and roses. I do need to set aside a space for growing onions. Plus there are legumes a plenty. Oh no, we’re not finished by a long way (unless something awful happens to us or the farm – or both). I can’t discount that possibility. Anyway, I’ve noticed that people are a long time dead. Hehe!



  6. Hi Hazel,

    Exactly, this year the trees are growing faster than any previous year that I can recall, which is a bit odd, but fruit trees do what they will. Glad to read that you are enjoying good crops from your fruit trees. The Anzac peaches look like they’ll do really well here this year, but other stone fruit not so much. But they’re yummo peaches!

    I do hope that you make some jam out of your figs? And yes, dig out that dehydrator! I have a Fowlers Vacola Ultimate 4000 unit which I can’t recommend highly enough. I hope you get to bottle some produce too?

    Ollie is massive, and getting bigger. He chased his first fox yesterday, and I’m very proud of his efforts, despite the fact that it was the magpies that alerted us all to the fox. A team effort perhaps?

    Yeah, in a sane world without arsonists, I’d keep the grass long so that the shade kept the soil cool over the summer, and then cut it all back in mid autumn. Alas, I live in the real world where people do stupid things and as a result we mow – lots. Weeding is not much fun either! What do you do? I recently picked up a long handled garden hoe which is a good tool for such activities.

    Congratulations on the rain, and I hope that the soil is beginning to store some water in it? An excellent idea of the ACT government. Just for your info, the fern gully performs a similar trick. 😉 The best place for water and silt is in the soil.



  7. Hi Jo,

    Thank you, and both orchards have grown really fast this year for some reason. Next to the chicken enclosure is a Jonathon apple, 20th century nashi pear, and a snow pear. And they are really beginning to get big (and hopefully bigger).

    Fruit trees can be a bit biennial and one year they’ll produce lots of fruit, the next year they’ll produce lots of tree.

    Hope your garden is growing well, and I read your latest blog today and was delighted by it! Lovely stuff.



  8. @ Damo – (From late last week…) Australian and American small towns, differ. Can you elucidate? I’ve seen a number of small Australian towns, on film, and, also, think there’s a difference. But I can’t quit put my finger on what it is.

    Ah, diners. Slung hash, in a couple. There’s even an old movie called “Diner.” And who can forget Mel’s Diner? :-). Kiss my grits.

    I read some of the reviews of “The Haunting of Hill House.” Sounds like it’s a bit hard to follow. I really liked the old movie. Originally from a book by Shirley Jackson.

    Hmm. Nazi zombies. Think it’s been done, before. Something about an isolated ski cabin and the usual bunch of doomed young people. There was the book, “The Keep” (Wilson, 1987) that had to do with Nazi vampires. That’s been done before. Is there nothing new under the sun? Well, there is the book, “The Little People” (Christopher, 2000) that has to do with Nazi leprechauns. I understand that the cover is worth the cost of the book.

    Although there are neither zombies or vampires, there is the movie “Iron Sky” (2012) that I keep seeing in a book/DVD catalog I get. In 1945 the Nazis set up a base on the dark side of the moon. And, they’re coming back! If the price drops low enough, I might take a flyer. Sounds like it might be worth a bowl of popcorn. Lew

  9. Yo, Chris – Sounds like you have scallops and zombies on the brain. Is that almost a pun? :-).

    Ollie contemplates the deep, dark woods.

    Hacking / slashing / dumping / completing / mowing / weeding. Whew! All those action verbs. Makes me tired. :-).

    Finally! A good clutch of strawberries. But the rats? How?

    That rhodie is spectacular. And, judging from the photo, at least three feet across. I wouldn’t turn my back on those Canary Island foxgloves. I think they’re a not too distant relative of Triffids.

    I had a cameo glass vase, once, that had appreciated in value, up above $1,000. I was so nervous about it that I kept it wrapped in bubble wrap, in a drawer. That seemed pretty silly, so I finally sold it. But, it was a wrench to let it go. Most of my tat is less than $200, in value. Anything over that and I get all sweaty and twitchy.

    I quit like your ersatz foo dog / dragon. I quit like the Chinese horses in the same finish. Saw one, the other day. Now, if they only came in blue … I quit like the teapot. Your right, it’s quit Seussian. And, blue!

    I don’t much like the idea of being homogenized into the larger culture (any culture.) Somewhere in the last 24 hours, I’ve run across a quote about being culturally homogenized. meant to write it down. Didn’t. Now it’s gone. Sigh.

    I finished “Darkening Age.” A good read. A bit repeatative. But full of little gems like Monty Python’s “Life of Brian” was advertised in Sweden as being “…so funny, it’s been banned in Norway.” Who knows? That may turn up on a test, someday.

    We’re supposed to have a string of sunny days. The cost? Overnight lows will hover around 25F (-3.88C). Too cold to snow. My friends in Idaho report that they got 4″ of snow, and it was still coming down. Lew

  10. Chris,

    Too bad about the rats. Those guys are smart. Remember the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy? The smartest creatures on Earth were the white mice, who were really pan dimensional creatures doing sophisticated experiments on humans. Well, the rats are related to mice, so…they likely are smarter than you, me or all of us combined.

    That reminds me. One of my coworkers made one last “all company” email as he left for retirement. “So long and thanks for all the fish.” Only a few of us understood it.

    Looks like our warmish weather is over for a few days again. The unseasonably warm temperatures did a weird number on my neighbor’s lilac bush: it started sprouting its spring buds a week ago, which is 4 or 5 months too early. Cold and dry weather coming on us tonight for about 5 days.

    There have been a handful of snow flurries here with nothing really accumulating. So I waxed poetic:

    Thor slew a giant
    and cut off its head.
    When Thor shook its dandruff out
    It fell as snow instead.

    Nobody believes me when I say that that is basic meteorology.


  11. Hi Lewis,

    I do hope the zombies and/or crustaceans don’t come and get me! It’s pretty funny isn’t it? But also not funny too, and therein lies a paradox! I’ve never been one for soapboxes and I don’t know about you, but there seems to be a bit too much pointing these days at other folks, and I can almost hear the background mutterings which might have said, something, something, deplorable’s – whatever that means! When all is said and done, zombies are rather straightforward monsters. Oooo! I just had this cool idea. Has anyone ever written a zombie novel, but set your abode? It could be a tense thriller sort of like Bruce Willis’s original Die Hard film, but with zombies instead of bad guys. The question then becomes: Have you chosen which of your inmates would you sacrifice to the larger cause – and of more immediate concern to yourself – of escaping from the zombie invasion? Sometimes sacrifices have to be made simply to get out of the building – and whilst the zombies are distracted you make your way to the fire escape to safety at the last possible moment! Our fortunes might yet be made. 🙂

    The woods are perhaps deeper and darker than is possibly good for their long term health. The extensive fires in the state of Queensland (a long way north of here) have made their way into the rainforest. From rainforest to cinders: National park may take ‘hundreds of years’ to recover from bushfire disaster. I suspect that the rainforest maybe hardier than people imagine and I have observed that ferns are often the first plants to recover after fire. In the before and after comparison in the photos, I did note that the fire did not make it into the very moist and damp gully, which is the exact opposite of what would happen down here at this much higher latitude. The disturbing thing in the comparison photos was that the fire was hot enough that it burnt the green leaves and timbers, and parts of the landscape were denuded of any vegetation. I hope someone takes the time to study the recovery process.

    Yes, now that you mention it, I felt tired too – and my core body temperature was slightly higher than I’d prefer. I did a couple of more hours of mowing today, and I reckon another half day and the job will be done. Cool.

    How does that work? You defy the worst the parrots can throw at you, only to be undone by the rats… I won’t say that it is unfair, but it sure looks that way! I have noticed that the rats generally can’t tunnel in a downwards direction, and I may test this theory over the next week or so. When I was a young adult, I got to travel underground and see for myself a tunnel boring machine. What an awesome machine! I got to enjoy travelling to the cutting face which was a long way underground on a small train. The rats have a similar problem in that they have to remove the excavated soil from their tunnel diggings. To quote Scotty, ya canna change the laws of phisix! 😉 And thus my evil plan against the depravations of the rats shall, I dunno, be enacted?

    Thanks! And the rhody’s are huge, and like Ollie the Megladog, they’re getting bigger. One always has to stay on their toes and avoid the awful Triffids who are always looking for an easy feed.

    Yeah, me too as I would be nervous of the appreciated vase. Anyway, I’d be thinking to myself: I could have one of these, or more of those higher quality, but less valued items. Talk about winning!

    Glad you enjoyed the Chinese guard dog overseeing the kitchen and hopefully protecting us from all manner of kitchen nightmares? Unfortunately, we don’t cook scallops here, but perhaps given how far inland we are, that might be a good thing. Confucius says beware seafood served far inland from its source. 🙂

    How good is the tea pot? And I’m glad you enjoyed it. The item is quite playful is it not?

    The Monty Python quote is quite amusing. 🙂 Long ago, I knew a bloke who worked in Norway on the North Sea fields. He took his wife, and long ago they recounted a story to me of demanding a course of antibiotics for their sick infant from a Norwegian doctor. Now of course, that unflappable doctor refused (possibly on the grounds of it being a pointless act) a dose of antibiotics and much cracking of sadness ensued, along with a good dose of crazy eyes as the tale was recounted. Yes, they possibly are a humourless bunch! Hehe! Mr William Catton Jr, would have had a sad thing or three to say about that situation.

    The author may have been looking for a smoking gun? I have no tolerance for zealotry, but at the same time I can’t ignore its presence, and you know, people enjoy their beliefs in whatever form they take.

    Mate, that is colder than I have ever seen here! Last night the temperature inside the house fell to 60’F and I felt cold in bed and had to chuck on two woollen blankets! Brrr! I’ve experienced a three blanket night and they’re no fun. Now a 25’F night would be about a six blanket night – at a guess. Not synthetic materials though, as that might make it a ten blanket night! Brr! Glad that you are now in your new digs. Have things with the new warden settled down a bit? Have they become bored and turned their attention elsewhere?



  12. Hi DJ,

    Oh yeah, who can forget the pan-dimensional beings sent to conduct subtle experiments on us hapless humans? At one point in time I was unsure that Old Fluffy the boss dog was not one of those… And of course, Deep Thought! Yes, who says that AI will not lead us all down the garden path given half a chance? I wouldn’t trust it, but then I grew up on stories such as the Terminator, or the dodgy robot in Alien who wanted to get the crew to act as hosts for the alien? What could possibly go wrong? 😉

    That’s funny that email, and perhaps it is much better than the sort of spewing forth of invective and vitriol which can make for a colourful, but also rather dull and pointless final act. There was a t-shirt which once which proclaimed: May the glow from the burning bridges light the way forward (or some such trope)!

    Mr Greer a week or two back slipped in a nod to Hitchhikers Guide about the truly awful Vogon poet at the beginning of the series. A true pedant that atrocious alien poet, and boring to boot.

    It is a bit unfortunate that the lilac bush maybe in for a surprise… You know some of the plants here are adapting to warmer autumnal conditions and are doing the same thing – which on a bright note leads me to believe that they may one day surprise us all. I mean, their genetic heritage is far more distinguished than our own so they must have seen a thing or two in their time?

    The son of Odin and Fyorgyn, the earth goddess is not to be trifled with! Pah! The Philistine’s, what would they know?



  13. @DJSpo – Great poem! It should be committed, to wood. You could bill yourself as the Poetic Pyrografist.

    It’s 27 here, this morning. Small potatoes compared to some of the temps you get, over there. I broke out the woolies. Lew

  14. Yo, Chris – It’s gone! The pumpkin ice cream has disappeared, for another year. Tragic. Sigh. :-(.

    I saw an article on the Net, yesterday. It’s the 50th anniversary of the release of “Night of the Living Dead.” And, of course, there’s a restored and remastered version, out. Such a small and low budget movie, that kicked off quit a craze.

    I think you’re right. High time us old duffers get a go at the whole zombie meme. I mean, after all, even Jane Austin has had a turn. No question. Administration gets thrown to the zombies, first. And, like children in sci-fi movies, next comes the ones that can’t follow instructions and endanger the whole group. I just had a vision of old Janet, doddering through the bloody chaos, completely oblivious. :-). She gets to live. She’s quit the old dear.

    Things are quit in an uproar, around here. Last week the statue of Jesus was removed from our common room (wonder where he’s hanging his hat, now?) and yesterday, The Memo came out. What can be displayed in the common areas, and what can’t. I could care less. And, even those who are of no religious persuasion, could care less. But the new administration has decided to make a point of it. They really have no … grasp of the population they’re dealing with. Things were quit fine, for years, and now we’ve got all this upset. Oh, well. There are rumblings that there may be a bit of media attention. That might be, at least, entertaining. Those administrative types don’t like that kind of attention. Drag them screaming into the light … hmmm, like vampires.

  15. Cont. Well, that hundreds of years for a forest to recover is a bit of hyperbole. And, the media does like hyperbole. Our forest that was crisped by a volcanic blast is bouncing back, pretty quickly. Though even the scientists were surprised. They’d never really had an opportunity like Mt. St. Helens, before. Not only is every twitch of the ground being monitored, but also the health of the land.

    So. How do you determine your core body temperature? Does The Editor stick you with a meat thermometer? :-). Oh, dear. Hope I haven’t given her any ideas…

    Ah, so the dog/dragon is your kitchen guardian. I keep looking for a Chinese kitchen god.

    The smaller ones go for less money, but still more than I’m willing to pay. I keep a sharp eye out at the op-shops. No luck, yet. On my list of “things to buy, someday.” In the meantime, I have four kitchen witches that I fly in formation. But they only come out at Halloween.

    I finished “Darkening Age”, so, it’s back to “This Victorian Life” and the tree book. Also, Chuck Klosterman’s “But What If We’re Wrong?”. Amusing, but a bit deep. I should have stuck to his writing on pop culture.

    As I mentioned to DJSpo, it’s 27F (-2.77C) here, this morning. Everything is quit frosty. Pretty, if you don’t have to be out in it. I broke out my long johns (aka: woolies). Lew

  16. @ Lew,

    Good idea about burning the poem onto some wood. Thanks!

    You matched our overnight temperature this time. We’re supposed to be in the mid teens for the next several nights. Oh well, it’s that time of year.


  17. Chris,

    There’s also “I, Robot” as another example of AI gone bad. There’s a lot of AI out there that people get because it’s “cool” that I won’t even look at. Just asking for trouble, if you ask me.

    “What could possibly go wrong?” was a recurring quote in the old 1960s -1970s tv show Hogan’s Heroes. The Nazi General Burkhalter would visit Stalag 17 and come up with some plan then say, “It’s a perfect plan. What could possibly go wrong?” Then, of course, everything went wrong.

    I really appreciated the email. It wasn’t vitriolic, as you noticed, nor was it gushing on about how much the retiree was going to miss the workplace and all of us, especially when we knew how the person really felt. I figure I’ll go quietly and with no emails or fanfare. It’s better that way, IMHO.

    I noticed Mr. Greer’s citing of Vogon poetry. I always appreciate references to those books.

    Another weather reference I enjoy is from the newspaper cartoon series “Calvin and Hobbes”, Calvin being a little boy and Hobbes his stuffed tiger that is alive for Calvin. Calvin has his sled out on the lawn and is dressed for deep winter, whereas his dad is dressed for early fall. The dialog:
    Calvin: Dad, do we have any leaves I can burn?
    Dad: We don’t burn leaves, Calvin. The smoke pollutes.
    Calvin: If I can’t burn any leaves, how can I appease the mighty snow demons so there will be a lot of snow for sledding this winter?
    Dad: I don’t know which is more appalling, your grasp of theology or your grasp of meteorology.

    I agree that the lilac bushes might just adapt to the changing climate better and faster than humans might. Plants have an intelligence that humans neither have nor are willing to admit exists.


  18. Hi Lewis and DJ,

    INTERMISSION… Cue flashy lights and some gaudy music played ever so slightly loud and annoying so that you left your seat and visited the candy bar for relief!

    I recall Monty Python’s film The Quest for the Holy Grail and they slipped in an intermission in the middle of the film, during the middle of a dramatic scene too. A nice effect, but I do recall the days of pre-film cartoons and mid film intermissions. A quieter time.

    Sorry, I digress, thanks for the comments and I promise to reply tomorrow.

    Lewis – This evening, we stopped past the Christmas lights in the town to the south of here. They really have epic and sweeping views from that hillside, but the Christmas lights are like the red Tabasco sauce or Dijon mustard on the chips, in that they just add something extra! All good fun, and one light display struck fear into my very soul – two LED deer chomping away on an LED tree! Whatever will they think of next? I’ll try to remember to get a photo of that over the next few weeks. And somebody had a Santa and red nosed reindeer scene and the cartoon face on deer looked a bit like a cartoon Pomeranian.

    Mate, tomorrow the weather promises to become bonkers again. 95’F and the day after 97’F and both with warm nights… What do you do? Mustn’t grumble…

    Sorry to hear about the loss of the pumpkin ice cream. Freezers are only so large, but the seasons turn and all that. That sentiment doesn’t make the loss any better does it?

    I’m off to bed! Talk tomorrow.



  19. Hi, Chris!

    I’m not so sure about hippies myself. For one thing – what is a hippy? When in town Monday I saw in the grocery store parking lot an old schoolbus that had been turned into a traveling home. It was undoubtedly inhabited by hippies (?) as – though it was not painted in garish colors, being a brown (rust?) shade – it had Native American symbols all over it and a huge dismantled teepee tied to the top. I gave the fellow a thumbs up and he returned it. The license plate said Oregon.

    I wonder – and I think this is the point that you made? – do these protesting kids realize how much their lives will change should they get what they are asking for?

    Egads – it’s a Freckled Zombie Dog! No – my mistake: It’s a Freckled Cuddle Ganglechunks.

    The chicken path looks extra nice with the summer growies around it. The same goes for the path next to the fabulous new shed. That crushed rock with lime really finishes a path.

    The self-propelled mower has turned out to be a really good buy. Go editor!

    I am astonished at how well the tomatoes are doing. We did start a few from seed outdoors last year, but they never quite caught up with indoor-started ones. We had a weird summer, with the first half cooler and very dry and the second half hot and mostly rain. For some reason the hot peppers liked that and some volunteered on their own (a first) and did pretty well. I try so hard to think like a vegetable.

    Were the eggplant, peppers, and chillis started outside? I am so glad that all the work you put into protecting the strawberries has paid off. I think we may give up on strawberries and just stick with the other fruits, especially blueberries. They really like our acidic soil and, so far, nothing is bothering them. The transplanted wild mulberries do great, too, except for the birds.

    We very occasionally see a wood rat, but have no eggs to worry about. My sister has rats in the pipe that runs up to the shower in her rented studio apartment in an old house in upstate New York. They drive her dog nuts. The landlord is dragging his feet about doing anything since they are not inside. We can’t figure out how they could be in a pipe that water actually runs through. There must be a side-pipe somewhere that they actually live in.

    I like the close-up of the currants; what jewel like colors. All of the flowers are so amazingly beautiful – thanks. And you have come up with a new classic with the PoopyPop.

    I use comfrey for bone injuries (the occasional broken toe, mostly) and small cuts and abrasions. I need to grow some of my own, especially for the bees.

    I did used to bake bread that was partly spelt and really enjoyed it. Since I am gluten free now I only bake it for my husband, who prefers a rye bread.


  20. Yo, Chris – After I was here, yesterday, I checked the local weather and the temperature had declined a further 2 degrees to 25F. This morning? 23F (-5C). That’s what I like to see. A nice round conversion number :-). Til tomorrow. Lew

  21. Hi Lew,

    I am not sure either on the difference between American and Australian small towns, but there is definitely one! I suspect it is economic, most Australian towns only existed for Agriculture and that is either now mechanised, or subject to diminishing returns as soil and water gets tapped out. Not sure, what I can say is your towns are more frequent, larger and better resourced (more open shops, facilities etc). This is the case even in the dryer areas such as Utah, Arizona.

    /shrug. Someone must have written a book on this already 🙂


  22. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, hot as here today! But nothing out of the ordinary, and it looks set to be hot tomorrow. The strawberries are loving it, and I gobbled up the first ripe raspberry of the season.


  23. cont…

    Just had to take a break to weave some computer magic, which is always a bit complex.

    Cool, 50 years. Vale Mr Romero, I even enjoyed the most recent film which had Dennis Hopper in it – who is also no longer among us of the living. I was sort of wondering about zombies, and do you reckon they have any historical basis? Like how would a person come up with a protagonist such as a zombie? I can see that vampires and werewolves had a basis in certain human conditions, but zombies? Dunno. And why a diet of brains? No doubt that if I had not already donated my brain to zombie research, I’d probably know the answer to such questions! 🙂 Hey, zombie films are nice earners for the film production companies!

    It is fortunate for Janet that you appear to have taken the lead script writer in this zombie project. Hehe! Do you reckon you could work in Princess being converted into a zombie Pomeranian? I’d quite like enjoy that and she’d be quite the little formidable fluffy – although I believe that there was a Pomeranian vampire used in the Blade series of films. I read Pride and Prejudice with Zombies, and I must say the author worked in zombies and martial arts quite nicely into the text. I wouldn’t have read the book otherwise, not because of any critique or distaste for the literature – which was quite good – it is just that the story is exceptionally familiar and has been in a few presented in a few different guises. The film Bridget Jones Diary comes to mind, which I quite enjoyed as it was very silly.

    Interestingly too, I’m now delving into the second story in the Beowulf translation – this is the finishing story about his encounter as an older bloke against the dragon. As I read the second story, I could feel a difference in the story telling prowess of the author because it read ever so slightly differently to the first story. I felt that the authors voice was somehow more confident. I was also left with the distinct impression that much like the Conan stories, the surviving tales were just two among many that have now been lost. What do you reckon about that? And interestingly too, my brain almost smells shades of the Arthurian legends in the Beowulf text. But that may have been just what went on back in those days. It makes you wonder what future folks will say about us lot. My gut feeling is that they may be pretty annoyed with us.

    I wonder what they were thinking and whether someone actually requested that the statue be removed. Don’t you have a pastor floating around the place, surely he’d have something to say about it. Anyway, some religions don’t much like statutes of their deities left about the place. Of all the things that your admin folks have gotten bent out of shape about, why that? It seems harmless enough to me, but I can walk past churches and temples and not get all angsty and stuff about other peoples beliefs. I wonder how the media would portray the situation? I noticed a few months ago that much stirring of the pot was going on with removals of statues in your country. History gets erased under the best case conditions.

    I read an article about a local artist a long time back that had installed a metal statue of a swagman in a tourist area. It was very art good too, and of course unfortunately the artist wanted to leave the metal exposed so that the work eventually rusted away. But! Forces intervened and the local council painted it with rust inhibiting paint. The artist cracked the sads, and the paint was removed. Bummer. Can’t find the article now, but at the time there was a lot of local interest in the outcome. A lot of metal work art is left to the elements, I don’t know how I feel about that, because it is hard enough to create something lasting, let alone speeding its demise. Dunno.

    Ouch! I seriously also hope the editor doesn’t get any ideas… That might be uncomfortable. 🙂 No, I just felt over hot. The sun can be fierce down here during summer even when the air is cool, and today was hot enough to put the bushfire shutters over the windows so they stop the late afternoon sun getting into the building. I already have a verandah, but by late afternoon, the sun sinks low enough that the external walls of the house get warm. Insulation comes in handy, so it is very pleasant inside the house. We never got air conditioning and have no plans to do so. Mind you, you would use more electricity heating than cooling (about four times the amount) with the current batch of devices.

    There are still kitchen disasters, but hopefully less of them with the dog in place watching over the goings on! That is a fine copper Kitchen God. Everything turns up at op-shops sooner or later, so you never know. The kitchen witches are a nice touch, may they also lend you strength in the good fight against kitchen disasters. No wonder your muffins sell like hot cakes (!) at the recent flea market. 🙂

    Over lunch today I listened to the most recent Kunstler Podcast which was fascinating. I really enjoyed it. The author of the book would have been quite formidable.

    As a comparison, it is 87’F outside right now. The place is still looking very green, but after a few days of this sort of weather, things may change. I am meant to get some rain on Saturday which will be nice.

    25’F is a nice round number! But also very cold… Stay warm!



  24. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, I recall that film and there was a product placement for a pair of sneakers in maybe the first five minutes of the film. A very unsubtle approach, but that might be a good thing as the subtle advertising is quite frightening. I guess they have to pay the bills. Have you ever read the Asimov series of the same name (but very different story)? That was more of a sad decline with the robots which kept everything going, which also proves that every automation is also an amputation.

    Hehe! Ah, Hogan’s heroes was quite amusing. It is a sensible idea to laugh at such folks. I watched the repeats as a youngster. Thanks too, as I had no idea where that comment originated from.

    Good grace is somewhat lacking in society. I can’t recall ever sending an unpleasant missive myself, although that does not mean that I have not received them. One of the perquisites of dealing with the general public, I guess. In fact I scored an unpleasant email yesterday and the person in question was wrong. It is a skill to be able to politely respond to such rubbish, whilst at the same time pointing out that they are being not a very nice person, and best of all they’re in the wrong! And just in case they decide to escalate I provide them with a simple explanation as to why they are wrong. Yes, much nicer to avoid the vitriol in the first place, if only because a person may well be incorrect in their assertions! 🙂 I don’t know about you, but to err is to be human.

    Calvin and Hobbes might be onto something with that ceremonial burning of the leaves. 😉 There is a bushfire going far to the west of here. Buninyong fire prompts emergency warning for Scotsburn, Durham Lead near Ballarat. The weather gods might need a bit of appeasing.



  25. Hi Pam,

    I may have to cut short the reply, but if so, I promise to reply tomorrow evening.

    What a great question and I too wonder about what is meant by the word hippie? I guess it is a huge continuum of the human condition. The ones I sort of get the most are the back to the land folks, not that there are many of those around anymore (due to high rural land prices). The ones that used to smoke weed and fire twirl and bongo drum in the local inner city parks were not to my taste – I mean for a start they rarely recalled to clean up after themselves. Oh well, but your point is a goodie and I’ll ponder that.

    Hehe! Mind you, I too would have enjoyed the sight of the old school bus with the symbols on the side. Oregon is probably a nice part of the world to hail from.

    I suspect that most people have no idea about that particular question. It is a profound question – no doubts about it. But you know, when all you have to do to enjoy electricity is to flick a switch and pay a bill, it might as well be Harry Potter magic. And then if you experience one form of Harry Potter magic, surely there must be more of it about the place? Having lived with solar power for about a decade, I’m not sanguine that it is a magic bullet. It’s good, but it just isn’t good enough.

    On that note, I’m going to have to scoot! Promise to finish replying tomorrow. I may walk up the hill a bit and see whether I can spot any smoke from the distant fire. Fortunately the wind is not blowing from that direction.



  26. @ DJSpo:

    You just about had me rolling in my breakfast oatmeal with this – Thanks!

    Calvin: Dad, do we have any leaves I can burn?
    Dad: We don’t burn leaves, Calvin. The smoke pollutes.
    Calvin: If I can’t burn any leaves, how can I appease the mighty snow demons so there will be a lot of snow for sledding this winter?
    Dad: I don’t know which is more appalling, your grasp of theology or your grasp of meteorology.

    I like your poem, too.


  27. Hello Chris

    All those glorious photos of food make me feel hungry. I really hadn’t realised before that I love photos of food. I realise that this is because one usually sees photos of cooked meals, not the same thing at all. Hurrah for growing food.

    Human flesh is like pork and you can’t compare that with scallops. Both pork and scallops are delicious but completely different.

    Hmm, making new routes for water. This was done around here by the holiday sites. When we had an horrendous cloud burst the rain poured in and opened up the original channels. Actually I love the way in which the planet defeats us. Ditto, all that coastal protection tends not to work; unless you are Dutch I suppose.

    I am not a lover of hippies as a number of them settled in our woods after a music festival. They made a lot of mess while telling us that property was theft. Still, better than zombies I suppose.

    A prostitute was plying her wares at the local holiday site. 3 police cars turned up to arrest her! Son asked whether she was a big lady.

    @ DJSpo
    I loved the poem.


  28. @ Damo – I had a thought, this morning (always suspect.) Maybe the difference in towns, between Australia and the US is, maybe, because the road systems developed, differently?

    We had our highway system, and then the freeway system, built mostly in the 1950s, bypassed the small towns. But, there was usually a “business loop” off the freeways. The old roads were still there, and used. Some small towns were, originally, crossroads (still are). When the new freeway interchanges were built, some businesses “moved out to the freeway.” Some small towns managed to live off the passing traffic. But most took a hit. The one’s that “dried up and blew away” were the one’s entirely bypassed by the freeways. Lew

  29. Hi Chris,
    I’m so glad all your work on the strawberry enclosure has paid off. Sounds like a nice day trip with the editor but how disturbing to see climate change in action. I imagine those living close by will forget quickly what it used to look like. Scallops – yum. We just bought some while on our monthly trip to Costco. For some reason when Doug goes with extra things end up in the cart. Now that he’s retired he tagging along on the trip with more and more frequency. Scallops are a special treat for us.

    I imagine I’ve seen “The Omega Man” but don’t remember it. Now we recently watched “I Am Legend” with Will Smith.

    Now Doug and I were definitely in the time of the hippie. In fact he and three other friends bought and decorated an old school but in a psychedelic scheme and took off one summer to San Francisco, more specifically to Haight Ashbury – at the age of 16 no less. I believe they all had big hopes of “getting lucky” but not so much luck in that department. I can’t believe his parents let him do that but times were different them.

    I don’t miss having to deal with the constant visitors to the chicken coop. The flowers, as usual, are beautiful. I’m already sick of winter even though we’re still a couple weeks away of the official start.

    Tomorrow we are off to see the twins in “The Christmas Carol”. One is Mrs. Cratchit and the other the Ghost of Christmas Past. Unfortunately it’s at least 1 1/2 hours away and at 7:30 so it’ll be a late night. However the productions of this group are always entertaining.

    Doug has been chopping wood into smaller sections – all those poplar trees he took down and also a downed tree out back. Tuesday he, Salve and Leo were out most of the day. He reported that Salve ate at least four mice and Leo tried to chase one into the fire barely missing getting burned himself. Poor Leo was a pretty sore guy yesterday but he does seem to be on the mend.


  30. Yo, Chris – Well, it just keeps getting better and better. It got down to 21F (-6.11) last night. But a change is coming, in a few days. Warmer and wetter. There is snow forecast, not far south of us. Given the vagaries of forecasting lowland snow, who knows? But I’d say from here on out, snow is a possibility.

    I wondered why the temperatures had continued to go down, even after sunrise. Well, ask and you shall receive. Cliff Mass explained it all in his post of Dec. 4th.

    I had to think a bit about where Romero got the grist for hsi zombie mill. Of course! There’s a rich vein of zombie lit from the Caribbean / South America that runs all the way back to the early 19th century. And maybe back to Africa.

    I even have the DVD of “White Zombie” staring Bela Lugosi, from 1932. Someone gave it to me, but I haven’t watched it, as I watched it years ago. There was even a sequel called “Revolt of the Zombies.”

    Princess Braveheart, the Pomeranian mix, will save us all from the other cats and dogs in the building that have become zombies. She’ll lead Sugar (who wants to rip my leg off) to a particularly gory end. :-). I think there’s a sequel in the works for the Austin zombie film.

    Tales get lost or change entirely. And, there was the occasional plague to almost wipe the slate clean. I think Mr. Greer has mentioned that books and movies really say more about the time they’re created, then about the time they portray. No matter if it’s historic or sci-fi in nature.

    Arthur and Beowulf weren’t really separated that much, in time. The time frame wasn’t identical, but close. And things moved slower, then :-).

    The Klosterman book had a lot to say about how we view the past, as a way to think about the future, and how the future may view us. A lot of how we view the past has to do with “living memory.” Once all witnesses to history die off, historians can play fast and loose with history. That’s why “primary sources” are important. But don’t we bring our own take on things, even to primary sources?

    Scott and I were just talking, yesterday, about how the views and opinions about past presidents, is changing. We remember what they were like. But every year, fewer and fewer people remember what they were like, at that time. And, of course, our opinions are colored by our particular political slant.

    Our pastor is kind of freelance. I really don’t know the story as to how he happened to end up ministering to our little group. Perhaps one of his parishioners ended up living here, and then he wormed his way in :-).

    Oh, the new admin is all about power and control. Bringing us to heel. What I can’t figure out is that The Beast (I’ve decided she’s probably the Antichrist) has always been around, but somehow or another, our past building manager managed to keep her at a distance.

    She really doesn’t have a handle on the population she’s dealing with. And, I think some of it has to do with the urban / rural divide. All the admin people work out of, and live in the northern urban areas. Their sensabilities and concerns are different, from ours.

    A small flyer has suddenly appeared. It has the heading “Where’s Jesus” (I added a question mark, to mine), with a silhouette of the man himself, and then in smaller letters, underneath, “tis the reason, for the season.” Very simple. Mine’s on my front door. They’re on front doors. all over the building. Some of the Ladies are attaching them to the front of their walkers. :-). Lew

  31. Chris,

    I quit reading Asimov after reading the “Foundation Trilogy” and never read his “I, Robot” series. So, I’ve only seen the movie. I don’t remember why I quit reading him.

    Some of the middle managers and the senior nonmanagement staff (I fit in the latter category) use that General Burkhalter comment whenever upper management has an idea that Is more boneheaded than usual. It eases our tension, but we are careful NOT to use it when the Big Boss is likely to show up.

    Good grace? It’s getting harder to find, for sure. My job requires a LOT of customer service, both on the phone and in person. By keeping calm and listening, then speaking quietly (usually) in my normal baritone, I find that most people calm right down. Word also gets around that I don’t make promises above my pay grade, so people know that I’ll be honest and steer them to the right people if I can’t help them.

    Of course, there are the odd ones, especially via extensive email communications, that are just begging for a beat down. Giving a polite, professional, factual reply that puts that type in their (deserved) place without sounding like an insult is truly an art form.

    All that said, by listening, staying calm and assuming that humans are humans and will make errors, well, that makes that part of the job easier.

    Mr. Greer made another reference to Vogon poetry this week. I enjoy how he sneaks in references to books I’ve enjoyed.


  32. Hi Pam (cont)

    Gangle chunks says hi, and also something which I wasn’t quite sure, and may not have heard correctly, but it may have been: “How about this heat?” – and then he promptly fell sound asleep on the green couch. It got to 98’F today. Ollie would make an awesome zombie or even an Alien. Run for your lives, but he’s faster! Nothing would burst out of his stomach because he enjoys his food too much, and even if it did, Ollie would then re-consume the escaping alien – what an excellent twist that would be in an alien film.

    Thanks and the paths are worth their weight in crushed rock with lime! Over spring when the grass was long and the orchard was exceptionally damp, the paths were much appreciated.

    We love that self propelled mower – it’s a bit sordid really! 🙂 Earlier in the week I taught myself how to maintain the machine as it is simple and yet complex. I ordered a spare drive belt at the local repair shop and the bloke (who I’d never seen before) was extraordinarily condescending and set about making me feel like an idiot. Fortunately the boss stepped in and told him off in no uncertain terms. Some folks you just don’t put out the front of a rock and roll band…

    Yeah, starting seeds outside is an interesting experience, so I hear you. However the plants this season appear much hardier than the ones I transplanted from inside last season, so the experiment is worth it. As a suggestion, and I don’t know your area and you do have a lot of shade (from memory), but before very hot days, we put a bit of water down on the ground with the seeds in it the night before the hot day, and the heat the next day causes them to germinate. Yesterday a few more corn, melons and dare I say it – pumpkins, germinated.

    The eggplant, chilli’s and capsicum were purchased as seedlings. The seeds never germinated, but it will be interesting to see whether anything has popped up today in the heat. Did I mention that it was hot? The parrots took the unripe blueberries here – we’re not friends, unlike the nice magpies.

    Rats live in sewers. Oh yeah, rats are way adaptable. My advice to your sister: don’t remove the drain end in the shower – hashtag just sayin… If you ever watched a fatberg video on Utube (I dare you) you may see scurrying rats on a fat berg in a sewer.

    I need a bit of advice: Do I remove the beautiful poppies so that the poopy-quat can grow, or do I enjoy the poopy-pops? Not sure myself.

    Yah, comfrey is extraordinarily handy for such things. The editor has likewise made a poultice of comfrey and pressed it against her skin in a bandage and it worked, although the leaves are spiky which may be part of the answer too.

    I have some spelt flour here, and was wondering whether you enjoyed the taste of the spelt bread? I get that, gluten is not for everyone. Rye bread is very tasty too! Yum!



  33. Hi Inge,

    I too love growing food, it is good stuff! The zucchini’s germinated a few days ago and in the last day or so the cucumbers have germinated. Plus the mixed selection of pumpkins and melons have also germinated. Today was very hot, but the plants need the heat to grow, so I mustn’t grumble. We dug up a good collection of potatoes today for salads which will be served tomorrow – and the colours of the potatoes are really quite lovely.

    You know, years ago I used to believe that agriculture was really quite an uncomplicated and simple thing, until of course I pitted my wits against the paradigm – and discovered that rats had in fact far sharper mental tool kits than I did. Still I have appreciated the time that the rats have taken to train me, and I am learning.

    Exactly, when we rented in a house whilst we built this house, in the elevated plains below the mountain range, the rented house was located in a housing estate located on a dry creek bed on an old duck farm. Except that I witnessed the road flooding during one epic downpour, and the water came all the way up and into the garage of the house.

    Maybe, but I reckon even the Dutch will eventually lose that battle.

    Yes, zombies would make for poor company, but so too would expectational hippies. The thing is, if they cleaned up after themselves and looked after the land that they squatted upon, then I feel that people would look the other way, but (and sweeping generalisation alert) they don’t. A lot of transient folks camp in the picnic grounds in the valley below the farm. I doubt that people would complain, but inevitably the campers drop piles of rubbish out of their vehicles and then move on. The actions of one, give all a bad name.

    Mind you, I may be feeling slightly less charitable than my normal self today, because an older mother took her very young infant into the public bar last evening where the editor and I were enjoying a quiet pint and a feed. And unless the infant was breast fed – in a public bar, the poor thing screamed for over an hour before the group left. Needless to say that the public bar cleared out well before that – and the editor and I were the last brave souls left, and my nerves were a bit shattered. I still don’t know what to make of the situation and I would appreciate some advice?

    Such things are legal down here – and the poor dears are taxed to boot. Your son has an amusing outlook on life to have made such a quip! One of our former independent state politicians was a former sex worker, and I must say that she brought very compassionate but also some common sense approaches to dealing with some of the more gritty issues in the community.



  34. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks, and I really appreciate the strawberry harvest and over the past two years had forgotten what home grown strawberries tasted like. Some visitors are arriving tomorrow and I may send them on a strawberry hunting and gathering experience. Who wouldn’t enjoy that?

    Yeah, the trip to the coast is tinged with a bit of sadness among the enjoyment. It is a mixed bag really, but I do wonder what the locals think about the situation? You know, there is still house construction going on along the roadside just on the other side of the dune. I’m not sure that I understand that particular story.

    The Wil Smith was more or less a remake. How good was the scene were the herd of deer ran through the city streets?

    Cool, the Grateful Dead’s house was in Haight Ashbury, but I’ll bet property is expensive there nowadays. People’s motivations can be pretty interesting can’t they? Yes, I recall the care-free days of being young and dumb and heading off on unknown adventures. Sometimes I was a bit naughty and forgot to even ask for permission, but I’m unsure whether that was frowned upon or not? Dunno. There was a certain sort of carelessness that was part of my growing up years, which I can sort of understand because I was the only male in the household – and the youngest person too.

    Everything wants to eat chicken, and Ollie chased his first fox the other day. I should let the chickens enjoy some time in the orchard tonight, but dinner is distracting me from my avian obligations. Are you considering getting any chickens at your new place?

    I hope the production is good and that the twins shine. I’d like to say ‘break a leg’, but somehow that seems like a bad thing to say, although it is never intended that way.

    Leo maybe sore, but Doug, Leo and Salve all sound as if they had an enjoyable day to me! 🙂 It is nice that the weather has warmed enough for that to be an option.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    You can say that! Of course all of your regions warmth has ended up here. 98’F earlier today and now that the sun has dropped below the horizon it is79’F. We didn’t let a bit of hot weather stop us – it only slowed us down a lot and we didn’t do anything too onerous. 🙂

    It would be nice if you got to enjoy some lowland snow. Thanks for the heads up too and I’ll check out the blog later this evening. On such weather related news, the authorities are suggesting that the Indian Ocean is beginning to warm, and the Indian Ocean Dipole, may bring some wetter weather down into this part of the continent during the summer. The North West winds which arrive here originate from that part of the world and it would be nice if they were thoughtful enough to bring some rain on their next and future visits. After a record dry, 2018 may be the year of the Indian Ocean Dipole.

    Who would have thought that zombies have a long and distinguished tradition? And imagine that, a Haitian voodoo bokor can capture a zombie astral to enhance his spiritual power. I’ll bet that they enjoy some unintended side effects from that little venture into the land of the unknown. And note to self: don’t mess with their business or disrespect them.

    It is funny that you mention Bela Lugosi because when I was a young adult I was oblivious as to the who the guy was. Then one of my house mates had a bit of a goth streak, and he used to play the song Bela Lugosi’s dead by the English band, Bauhaus. Goth’s wear a lot of black clothes from what I could understand of the genre and they seem a bit down.

    Sugar is an awesome name for a dog, and it was hard not to notice the ironic twist to the story. Sugar’s disposition, is not as her name would suggest and she appears to have a very bad attitude – and sharp teeth in need of constant exercise! Should Sugar enjoy her dearest wish – of chomping your leg off – do you reckon your reanimated corpse would be in thrall to her? I’m honestly not sure which possibility is worse, the chomping of the leg or the zombie thrall part?

    Ooo! A brief rain shower dumped a bit of rain – and then promptly departed to elsewhere.

    Well this is a night of surprises, who would have thought that there was a film of the zombie adaption of Jane Austin’s novel? I just checked out the trailer for the film and you know what, it looked quite good. And a sequel. Have you watched the film?

    It is interesting that aspect of books and stories in that they say so much about today – even when they are projected into the future. Asimov for example always included a certain sort of 1950’s cultural flavour into his stories and I recall one notable one involving a female character with the name: Jezebel. And I’d never considered that aspect of stories until Mr Greer mentioned it. Interestingly Prof. Tolkien’s commentary on the story of Beowulf is far more interesting to me than the story. I’m enjoying quite the history lesson and the commentary has alerted me to aspects of the story that I never would have understood – such as there being two Beowulf’s in the story (missed that one completely). And I feel I must add that Prof. Tolkien managed to capture the feeling in his stories that things were greater in the past than in the present, such as the book Silmarillion. For example, as Beowulf lay dying, killed by the dragon and abandoned by all but one of his staunch companions (I note some similarities there too to other tales), with his dying eyes he wanted nothing more thanto look upon the treasures of antiquity. Maybe the present will be like that to people living in the far distant future? The similarities to some aspects of the Arthurian stories is not lost on me either. As you quoted to me: That Arthur was a slippery bloke! 🙂

    I found it interesting too that the kings of those days chose to disburse their treasuries to loyalists and were in fact judged on that activity. It is a sound strategy, so long as the loyalists don’t get lazy and forget why the treasuries were given unto them. A bit of that goes on today.

    That is a difficult question: But don’t we bring our own take on things, even to primary sources? What even is bias? And we have an ability to absorb, disregard or reject new information if it doesn’t suit our purposes or defies our belief systems. I for one am a different person with more complicated beliefs than even ten years ago.

    I guess we do bring our own take to a situation. Last evening the editor and I went to the local pub for a feed and a pint. An older mother with her infant was with some friends (or maybe family) in the public bar. The infant screamed for about an hour and managed to clear out the public bar. I felt sorry for the owner of the business. The only time the infant stopped crying was when the mum breast fed the kid. That was a new situation for me to find myself in, and I never figured that would happen in a public bar, and I guess it is always the new and interesting situations that can leave you stumped for an adequate response. I’ve read enough articles in the newspaper to know that the outcome from confrontation is usually an escalation of, I dunno, just more escalation of strung out emotions. I reckon the whole situation is indicative of the person’s mental health. I’d be curious as to any advice that you may have for me in relation to this situation? Back in the day, the editor used to earn mad cash as a teenager baby sitting other peoples kids whilst the parents went out.

    Exactly, and ex-politicians change too. Some notable ex-conservative politicians down here, made peace with their sparring partners and changed their tune as they got ever older. I’m quite impressed that your deceased Presidents who receive state funerals tend to travel by train. I’ve been looking through the photos and it is a very impressive ceremony. I read that: The guidelines for state funerals date back to the mid-1800s and have been shaped over time.

    Intruder alert! Intruder alert! Hull breach on floor one. Security detail, prepare to engage. Your pastor is a canny bloke. 😉

    Has anyone had any recent contact with the previous building manager? Lessons could be learned? But then there is always the big gun held at the ready of Sugar the obstreperous canine with the bad attitude. If only you could focus Sugar’s efforts a bit more precisely? 🙂 Power and control is a rather dull goal, and I’m frankly uncertain what people achieve when they get their hearts desire? Dunno.

    How funny is that? I’ve once received some juicy gossip – and I have no idea whether it is accurate or not – but someone suggested to me that the local council suffered from a bit of that sort of problem too. I would have thought that they had an obligation first and foremost to employ locals, but what do I know about such things?

    Genius! Hehe! I like it. I wonder if anyone gets your joke? It’s good!



  36. Hi DJ,

    The guy was a prolific author, but the 1950’s sensibilities of the characters left me feeling a bit, I dunno, maybe uncomfortable? I did quite enjoy the decline of the original group of Spacers who were pretty much wiped out by the time of the Foundation. And more importantly domestic dogs had run feral on Spacer worlds. Not sure I’d want to be confronted by a pack of wild and angry dogs. On the other hand, it always seemed a bit strange to me that folks who could travel from one star system to another (without messing about in all that hyperspace business!) couldn’t deal to a few grumpy canines.

    One of the best takes on that story that I’ve read recently was Kim Stanley Robinson’s Aurora story. The sheer pointlessness of the interstellar travel was a fascinating twist on the genre.

    There was some good fun speculation on that subject recently: Scientist who discovered ‘Oumuamua space object says it is not an alien probe. It would have been a cool name for an alien deep space probe. Unfortunately, it was most likely a chunk of rock travelling at an extraordinary velocity.

    Hehe! It is an excellent quote and worthy of introduction into the general discourse. 🙂 But yeah, avoid trouble if at all possible.

    Did you just suggest that it was a bad idea to enter into some arguments when dealing with the general public? If so, I like your style and I too try to avoid such things. It maybe me, but I feel a lot of people hide behind their perquisites by indulging the tool of argument. It is a good tool, but it just isn’t suitable for the many uses that it gets put to in our society.

    Other tools, like the one you suggested can be preferable. However there are limits to the use of that tool too – and sometimes I’ve come face to face with those. Like the time the guy who was off his head on something and tried to grab me on a busy city street. He needed a somewhat more direct response – which he got it to his surprise.

    Good stuff, and I plan to mosey on over there and check it out. Vogon’s!



  37. @ Inge:

    You are too much for me this morning . . .

    “I am not a lover of hippies as a number of them settled in our woods after a music festival. They made a lot of mess while telling us that property was theft. Still, better than zombies I suppose.

    A prostitute was plying her wares at the local holiday site. 3 police cars turned up to arrest her! Son asked whether she was a big lady.”


  38. @ Margaret:

    I am amazed at the prowess of Salve and Leo, especially Salve, and I think maybe Leo is older? Our dogs couldn’t have caught a mouse to save their lives. They did best with slower things like groundhogs, though once Bob the Tailless caught a squirrel, shook it, and threw it into the air, whereupon the squirrel grabbed a tree and yelled at him. Animals are amazing. The first thing I saw when I opened the living room curtains this morning was Charlene the White Squirrel drinking out of the dog water bowl on the front porch.


  39. @ Lew:

    “A small flyer has suddenly appeared. It has the heading “Where’s Jesus” (I added a question mark, to mine), with a silhouette of the man himself, and then in smaller letters, underneath, “tis the reason, for the season.” Very simple. Mine’s on my front door. They’re on front doors. all over the building. Some of the Ladies are attaching them to the front of their walkers.”

    That is so brilliant. It hits a multifaceted problem from several angles. It is so gorgeously subtle and silent, yet in the Beast’s face.

    Maybe the Beast just needs some love. A muffin here, a muffin there . . .


  40. Chris:

    That is an incredibly hot temperature for so early. @ Ollie: I tell you what – you have Chris make you a nice mud wallow – pigs like this; you will understand that – that will cool you off and then you can go inside and lie on the couch.

    That is an excellent suggestion about watering the outdoor seeds before a hot day.

    Ha, ha! I have seen a rats on a fatberg video. I have just remembered our pet black and white rat, Ratty, whom we had about 25 years ago. He was one of our best pets ever. He would come when we whistled and we used to take him outside and let him run loose to play. No wonder I have a soft spot in my heart for rats.

    Can’t the poopy-quat and poopy-pops coexist? After all, if they were Chinese, they would have the same surname. If there is no other choice, out with the poopy-pops. They can grow anywhere.

    I told my sister to put a stopper over the shower drain, fill the shower with as much water as it will hold, add some cheap vinegar, and then remove the stopper and let all that water rush into the pipe. Then sporadically repeat. That might be discouraging to the rat inhabitants, especially in the winter.


  41. Hello again
    I think that breast feeding in public is fine, certainly better than a screaming baby. I also think that sex workers should be legal; they can be far safer then.
    The rain here has finally filled my pond and I can hear water running in the ditches.
    Oh dear! Son sent pigs to slaughter and masses of liver came back; far too much and no hearts. He had cut it all up and brought me lots and I had rung friends to see if they wanted any of it. Then Son turned up to take it back. It appears that it was all lamb’s liver and there had been a colossal mix up and it was wanted back. They were not pleased that Son had cut it up but tough, it was their mistake. I had to ring the friends again to disappoint them. Inefficiency is rife these days!
    Something is eating our leeks.


  42. Yo, Chris – Same old, same old. The overnight low was 21F (-6.11C). But, the rain is coming back, tonight, and overnight lows for the foreseeable future will be above freezing (-0-C), but not by much.

    I saw your mention of the fires, to your north. Oh, no! Not Ballarat! I’m familiar with the area due to the Dr. Blake Mystery series. And it’s probably got a few more seasons, in it.

    Back in the day, people who moved into dodgy neighborhoods and renovated were called “Urban Pioneers.” Now they’re called Gentrifiers. Of course, back then, people were just trying to make a place to live. Now, it’s more about making money. And not fitting into a neighborhood, but changing it.

    So. I’m a little confused. Which part concerned you? The screaming child part or the breastfeeding part? :-). Years ago, I read an article in Harper’s magazine by some twit who was relaying her trip to France with a very small infant in tow. Ha-ha-ha, the people on the plan were so annoyed. Ha-ha-ha, the French people were so annoyed when we dragged our spawn through every museum and fine restaurant in Paris. That article must have been in the pre-internet days, as it was the letters to the editor the next month that were just scorching. If she expected positive feedback from her little adventure, she sure didn’t get it. The plastic surgery bill for scorched ears must have been epic.

    The last cafe I worked in (very small and very tight) the owner had a method of keeping out the kids. We didn’t keep a high chair or booster seat in the place. Once, someone from out of town asked if we at least had a phone book. Oh, sure. So we hauled out the local phone book which was only about an inch thick. :-).

    As far as breast feeding goes, I don’t see much of it. But then, I don’t get out much. Once when I worked at the B. Dalton store in Olympia (a much more liberal area) I stumbled (almost literally) on a young woman, seated on the floor at the back of the store, breastfeeding. As no one had complained, I just ignored the whole thing. I do appreciate when a woman throws a light baby blanket over the whole process. Otherwise, I just practice what nuns called “custody of the eyes.” :-). General opinion seems to be that breast feeding in public is ok. But I think it really depends on where you are and what the local community mores are. And, after all, breast feeding is better for children. Immune systems, and all that.

    Getting back to restaurants, every once in awhile some restaurant (and not all “fine” dining establishments) either ban children, all together, or, at certain times. Comments are usually in favor of a ban, and the restaurants business usually goes up. Cont.

  43. Cont. I saw an article about Corona Del Mar (a small beach city north of San Diego) which sounds a bit like the place The Editor and you, visited. They are also struggling with sea level rise.

    The author of the book “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” also wrote “Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter.” Which has also been turned into a move. Which I quit enjoyed and have watched twice. Our 16th president really knew how to wield an ax! :-).

    Poor Bela Lugosi. The end of his life was pretty sad. The movie “Ed Wood” pretty much covers it. Ed Wood was a director and talked Lugosi to be in his “Plan 9 From Outer Space.” Which is thought by some, to be the worst movie ever made. Martin Landau (a fine actor) played Lugosi and won a Best Supporting Actor, Academy Award, for his role.

    I don’t know how the old building director kept The Beast out of here. Top of my list of questions, should I ever run across her, again. I hear (but then one hears a lot of things, around here) that she’s banned from the building for 6 months. I “hear” that some people are in touch with her. I doubt I’d get a straight answer from her as she was a very … circumspect person. Perhaps she also knew where a few bodies were buried. That can be a super power that can also be used for good.

    In our continuing saga, Management ripped down all the “Where’s Jesus” flyers. Somewhere, graffiti appeared in the building comparing the present management to Nazi Germany. Our self appointed Inmate Advocate has been accused of the “crime” and threatened with eviction. I haven’t seen said graffiti or know where it is. Graffiti had crossed my mind, but my choice of venue would have been the elevator. And, I wouldn’t have made references to the Nazis. That kind of comparison has been overdone and has become rather trite. I’d be a heck of a lot more creative.

    But I do wonder who did it. Maybe Suzanne is being framed? The suspects (to my mind) are many. The possible suspects are many. Quit a few of our Ladies are just slightly, very slightly, off plumb. Where’s Miss Marple or Jessica Fletcher, when you need them? Lew

  44. Hi Lew,

    Your theory is as good as any other 🙂 Personally, I was very mystified at why some of these quite large cities existed in the middle of nowhere (St. George, Utah comes to mind). I was even checking entries on wikipedia as we drove through some of them. How can 80,000 people exist in the middle of the Utah desert with no obvious external income I would ask myself? No farms, no mines and no factories. How are the bills paid? Oh well, I soon got over it, had a real nice burrito and moved on with my life :-p

    Good luck with the home issues. Jumping straight to nazi references does indicate a lack of creative thinking. Hopefully the culprit is suitably chastened and will endeavor to improve the quality of their political protest graffiti!


  45. Hi Pam,

    I had a look at the meteorological records for Melbourne and all is now explained. The long term average temperature for the city for December is 24.2’C / 75.6’F and so far this month the average has been 28.0’C / 82.4’F. It is early days for the month, and looking at the forecast for the forthcoming week I noticed dire predictions of serious rainfall. That might be interesting – and as it gets closer to that day, I may fill up all of the water tanks from the reserves. 😉 And also hope that the place doesn’t get smashed by the rain. Oh well.

    Believe it or not, after a hot couple of days mist is now blowing over the farm and the temperature has plummeted. There is even a bit of drizzle. Far out!

    Fortunately I managed to distract Ollie – who is always attentive to your replies – with leftover food from today (a true bait and switch effort). I have no doubt that whilst he would enjoy the mud bath, I may not.

    Yeah, flooding seeds the night before a hot day is a good way to go. Earlier this evening, we moved a whole bunch of tomato seedlings, knowing that rain is forecast tonight and tomorrow. It is nice to let nature do the hard yards – and honestly I can’t supply the sort of watering that rainfall provides.

    I’ve known people with pet rats and the creatures are extraordinarily clean and delightful pets. Ratty is a good name too. I once saw a cartoon film about a rat that had ambitions to become a chef.

    Well, I’m taking that approach to the poopy-pops and the poopy-quat and will watch and see. Citrus are extraordinarily hardy and long lived trees so I’m not overly worried. I’ve had some varieties (that aren’t meant to grow in this mountain range) look as dead as, and then suddenly they spring back to life. They’re a complex plant, so I’ll take a wait and see approach. Oranges aren’t meant to grow here, but I trial them all the same and I’ve noticed that whilst they looked very dead over winter, they seem to be now bouncing back.

    Rats can swim, but it is worth the attempt. My mantra is: “Rats have rat cunning and are possibly smarter than us humans”. Acceptance is good and physically stopping them from co-existing is about the only strategy that works for me.



  46. Hi Inge,

    I appreciate your opinion, because I have no children of my own and felt uncomfortable with both circumstances. I will defer to your experience in the matter. The screaming felt to me to be an incongruous element to the evening as it was such an unexpected thing in that particular place. It sure cleared the establishment out.

    Oh, I wasn’t aware that sex workers were not legal in your part of the world. Exactly, I’d have to suggest that a lack of legality sort of leaves the people involved open to exploitation – which is not a nice thing.

    Awesome! Have you had any snow yet? Part of my daily routine is checking upon the water reserves. I’m not free to use much water, and part of that planning means that I have to leave huge quantities of water in reserve – just in case. There are plenty of examples of just in time in the business world, examples of just in case seem to be a bit rarer for some strange reason. Huge rainfall is predicted for later in the week, and at such times I have to hang around the farm and get out in the rain – the landslide two years ago is not far from memory.

    Inge, what a mess up! And they can hardly complain. Interestingly, meat processing facilities are apparently getting thinner on the ground in less profitable areas. I did note that some farmers in Tasmania are looking to setup a co-op: Farmers take bull by the horns to set up new abattoir in Tasmania after Devonport closure.

    You may have a rogue band of wallabies? They can eat leeks. Do you have any ideas who the culprit might be? You are entering a lean period for produce and green pick, so there may be many potential culprits.



  47. Hi Lewis,

    Mist and drizzle here tonight, but definitely well above freezing! I’ll bet that you are glad to be in your new digs during such weather? Last night was very hot here, and this morning the inside of the house was 75’F at daybreak, although it was slightly cooler outside, but not by very much. The ceiling fans work a treat and allow a person to sleep. Overall the temperature earned a C- and I felt that it could be better. 🙂

    Yeah, Ballarat. It is a lovely town, but for some reason they always tend to have fires nearby on fire weather days. I’d have to suggest that this is the work of an arsonist. There was an arsonist living in the nearby large town to the south of here and every hot windy day, there’d be a fire. The authorities nabbed the guy too (red handed) as he’d already had a history of such behaviour. Truly bonkers. Anyway, the fire near to Ballarat is out or at least contained and has been given the all clear. Sorry to say, but I understand the show has been continued but in a different guise.

    Exactly! If we’d had half a brain, we would have speculated on housing. Unfortunately, we went down the hard road of repairing old houses using sweat equity so that we could live in and enjoy them. The profits were put towards eliminating debt. Honestly, we could have done ten times better for a hundred times less work, but speculation leaves me feeling cold because I wonder what is left behind in the smoking wreckage of an area. But I reckon speculation is an unspoken component of the dominant narrative. There was mention in the newspapers of account of: Reserve Bank says rate cuts and QE possible as Australian housing enters ‘uncharted territory’. I suspect that all tools will be thrown at sustaining or supporting housing prices. It is pretty ugly.

    I appreciate your thoughts in the matter. As an honest reply, both circumstances left me feeling uncomfortable. The word incongruous comes to my mind given the location. And I felt really awful that the business emptied out, if only because, if local businesses don’t make a profit, they tend to disappear – and that pub was derelict for quite a number of years. I tend to feel that the parent wouldn’t provide a consistent income flow for the business.

    There was a case many years ago down here where a high end restaurant apparently refused to accommodate parents (both of whom were lawyers) and their very young child. In the end, after the case, I believe the business got sued badly – and shut up shop.

    Yeah, breast feeding is a good thing for the child, although I encountered somebody today who recounted a story of a child being allergic to mothers milk. Not good. I dunno, but there is an old school concept of – decorum. I feel that modesty and appropriateness are a good things, but I’m probably in the minority.

    Thanks for the article. Just checking my reading comprehension regarding the article. Did they somehow propose to ignore the problem and then not talk about it? I wonder how that will end up? Probably not good, and my gut feel says a decade at most. I do like how talk of mid-century or end of the century is touted. Mind you, I’m not a fan of many mid-century furniture items. Do you reckon that is what they were talking about! Hehe! 😉

    Hey, I spotted this and thought that you might enjoy it, the photos are awesome: Storm photography a matter of preparation and having an escape route, weather tracker says! Cool, huh?



  48. @Pam

    Yes Leo is older – over 11 and Salve is around 5. As both were rescue dogs we’re not sure of exact ages. Leo is great at finding rodents of all kinds and knocking down the wood piles they hide/live in as well as digging huge holes to get to their dens. Unfortunately for him he never catches anything. Salve is fast. She’s caught just about everything – even weasels. When we do our morning walk she does this jump and pounce thing often coming up with something which she generally swallows whole. Smart squirrel. Squirrels made only a rare appearance at our old place but they are here in abundance around here. They are a riot to watch.


  49. Hi Chris,
    I hear that construction still continues on the coast in Florida too. What are they thinking?

    We are definitely going to have meat chickens but probably not egg layers. We’d have to construct a coop and frankly I miss just watching them but not all the issues with predators etc. The meat chickens are here and gone in just a few months. Also the woman who sells eggs at our largest farmers market is less than 2 miles down the road from me. I get a discounted price and just have to call and can pick eggs up anytime.

    The theater group the twins have been involved with for at least six years is very good. It’s all home schooled kids. The productions are quite professionally done and the costumes – wow!! The girls did a fine job. One always gets the larger role the other is just shyer and she doesn’t seem to mind. She had three smaller roles in the play so had many fast costume changes which was impressive. Other than the long drive it was a very pleasant evening. My aunt (who is only 8 years older than me and more like a sister) also came and she along with my daughter had dinner with us beforehand. Fortunately the traffic wasn’t too bad especially considering it was a Friday night near Christmas. Doug must be getting more mellow in retirement as he said it was all fun and his comment about the drive was “well, it’s just a necessary evil”. In the past he would have been complaining about feeling obligated to go.

    Well the weather isn’t warm but the dogs are active enough that the dogs don’t seem to mind.

    Screaming kids/babies sure can ruin a restaurant experience. I’m pretty sympathetic towards parents especially if one is the stay at home parent. It’s awfully isolating just having your kids as company. Babysitters unless it’s a relative are very expensive as well. However, if your child is disturbing everyone it’s really inconsiderate not to remove them. There are usually restaurants that are known to be kid friendly. The twins were always well behaved in restaurants even as babies. They did, however, make huge messes. Of course now parents appease their children with phones or tablets which sure doesn’t teach them anything. I have no issue with breast feeding in public but I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing it. As Lew mentioned there are discreet ways of doing it too. When my mother had all of us it was the modern thing to feed formula. She was someone who really should had a career and maybe one or two kids but all she told me “nothing works” regarding birth control at least in those days. When I had my oldest breast feeding wasn’t pushed as it is now. When I brought it up to my mother her comment was “Do you want to be a cow?” Eight years later when I had 2nd daughter things had changed considerably but hadn’t reached the point of laying on guilt on mothers who for one reason or another weren’t successful breast feeding. I remember my sister tried and tried and her son was just a scrawny little thing. She lived five hours away and came to spend two weeks with my mother who promptly set her straight. That baby was supplemented with formula and cereal and by the time he went home he had gained so much weight his father barely recognized him. After having eight children in under 13 years my mother was very practical and didn’t hesitate to go against conventional wisdom.


  50. @Lew
    Sure is a lot of drama at your place. You are wise to just remain an observer.

    I discovered that I had purged a lot more Christmas decorations than I thought as things are pretty sparse in that department around here. Still the tree that we cut down at the tree farm looks nice. It does get shorter every year though. This year I didn’t even need a stool to put the lights on and I’m only 5′ tall. I have many handmade ornaments from the twins and the quality has improved the last couple of years. As they won’t be here over the holidays (we’re off to their house instead) I left some of the earlier ones in the box. There are quite a few ornaments that bring back memories though.


  51. Yo, Chris – Well, the rain moved in last night and the overnight low got up to 40F (4.44C). Oh, if I were out at the old place, that last bit wouldn’t have been too bad. Lay on the wooly jumpers and warm up the bed with a cookie (biscuit?) sheet, warmed up in the oven. But a bit of money might have been burned up taking the chill off the house in the morning, and lolling around in the evening.

    That smoking wreckage left from real estate speculation? It’s only business :-).

    The other week there was a screaming child in the library. The mother actually took her out! I wish there was a way to show appreciation for such thoughtfulness. Standing ovation? As far as being allergic to mother’s milk goes, back in the old days, Darwinian selection would have sorted that out. As it will in the future.

    Decorum seems to be an outmoded concept. More’s the pity.

    Not so odd the town banning the discussion of climate change. The entire states of Florida, North Carolina and Pennsylvania have done the same thing. The new Federal administration is removing mention of it from their web sites. It’s like a little kid putting his finger’s in his ears and humming very loudly.

    Such nonsense is due to big business putting pressure on government bodies. Real estate, civic Chambers of Commerce. And there’s an idealogical slant to the whole thing. If you believe (as if it’s an act of faith, not science) in climate change, you must be one of those dirty liberal hippies. You probably just “hate America.” Yup. That’s the civic discourse we’ve been reduced to.

    Weather can be so beautiful, but so fleeting. And not all that easy to catch on film. I particularly liked the picture with the silhouette of the windmill.

    I spent a few hours mucking about in the garden. General clean up. I saw a few worms when I was digging about. Of course, the real way to get a feeling for worm activity is when I bury my kitchen scraps, I check back a few days later and gently peel back a bit of the ground and see how many worms have shown up for the party. Usually, quit a few. Just ring the dinner bell and they come running.

    I’m enjoying this weeks post over at Mr. Greer’s blog. Art. Right up my alley. There’s so much I think about it. Coherence will be a challenge. Lew

  52. Chris,

    I always wondered the same thing about Asimov’s (and others’) characters. Why can they do all this stuff with technology and whatnot but turn into sobbing cowards when confronted with a snarling dog? The old Superman tv shows were the same: Superman was impervious to bullets but always had to dodge and duck to avoid an empty pistol when thrown at him!

    Doing customer service for government, I learned early on that I lose every. single. time. if I get in an argument with a member of the public, even if I win the argument. So I’ve got other tools for the argumentative types: silence until they ask if I’m listening, or maybe just say that the conversation is over and either hang up or find my supervisor if it’s a visitor to the office.

    Outside of the job, however, things are a bit different. In the example you gave, my response would’ve been similar. I’ve been known to tell people to quit hitting me with their shopping cart when in the check-out line, or even push the cart back into them, for example. I literally knocked over a shopping cart full of goods at a Wal-Mart once when the other shoppers were overly aggressive with their cart repeatedly. Basically, the calm, reasoning approach has its limits and sometimes it is necessary to stand one’s ground and do what is necessary.

    I finally did get some garden dirt added to the bags of leaves. I’m interested to see if that makes a noticeable difference. I added some dirt to the compost pile also, and mixed it in with the leaves there.


  53. Hi Margaret,

    I don’t get that either and I feel that these things are occurring far more rapidly than people may want to believe. Certainly, I’ve seen a lot of changes in the high tide mark in the last two decades. It makes no sense to me that people feel that it is something that won’t affect them until the turn of the century… Today has turned cooler but very humid and looking out the window a hugely thick band of low lying cloud is spreading over the mountain range from the south (the ocean). I have a suspicion that we may become a world of far more extreme weather.

    Yeah, the ongoing fight with predators over egg laying chickens can be a bit of a tiresome thing – and you’re only ever winning for a moment in time! Oh well you can but do your best, meat birds are probably a whole lot less stress and I look forward to hearing about your ongoing adventures. Did the new place come with a chicken coup?

    Hehe! Good for the twins, and age does mellow folks, and who is exempt from that? Hehe!

    Dogs are very adaptable, so no doubts they’ll run around all day long in the cold, and then seek the fire at night.

    I’m sympathetic too, but at the same time I feel that the social arrangements for raising kids these days are a bit bonkers. The expectation that people attend to kids 24/7 – 365 is frankly bizarre and is an almost impossible thing to achieve and leaves parents exposed to criticism for any slip up. It wasn’t always that way and I may write about that tonight (which reminds me that I should get a wriggle on and begin!)



  54. Hi Lewis,

    40’F is almost – but not quite – shorts and t-shirt weather, if you were accustomed to living in the far north… Brrr! I’d have the wood fire going under such conditions. There is something quite pleasant about the concept of lolling around in the evening! Isn’t this what the evening is for? A pleasant review of the day’s events, a good feed, and some quiet time to relax.

    Had an interesting email this evening, it was from an email spoofer. I’d never encountered such an unpleasant beast before, but acted quickly and smote the evil doer with my sword (or more accurately the delete key). Fortunately, I pay for a reasonable protection service on the interweb (you can’t be too careful these days) and wasn’t overly worried.

    The longer the inevitable is put off in relation to the real estate bubble, the worst the fall will be. It always surprises me that people don’t seem to want to comprehend that aspect of the situation. The number of interest only loans that have to be renegotiated and are out there in the population are not good. I wonder what they were thinking on all sides of that equation. I’ll be surprised if it is not our Big Short moment. But then expanding money supplies have to have a mechanism for destroying money, otherwise hyperinflation results, and the boom and busts are one way out of that trap.

    I have no idea how to approach that situation, so I may write about it tonight and just canvas ideas. Dunno. It is a hot button topic in some circles. But libraries? Really?

    As unfortunate as that may be with allergic reactions to food, no doubts it is how things will go in the future. We eat a lot of food out of the garden and orchard and I do realise that this would inoculate our gut flora and fauna with all manner of life forms, and I do wonder at the consequences that the industrial food system is having upon the population. But then what did the Oracle at Delphi suggest?

    A bit of a shame that about decorum, although I do my best to at least introduce the concept to others via my own actions. At the very least it serves to smooth the social processes.

    I guess not talking about climate change is a strategy. Ignoring it is another. Retreat is another. Adaption maybe a workable option. Acceptance is pretty good too. Collapse might work very well. We don’t really lack for plans or options, we lack the ability to accept less. A bloke once told me that he wrote an outstanding letter to the Greens (political party) about climate change and global warming whilst on an aircraft between Melbourne and Hobart (in Tasmania). I feel that the irony of the situation was entirely lost on him, but at least he was earnest in his beliefs. Meanwhile in the real world where things matter: Greenland’s ice sheet melting rate is accelerating, scientists confirm.

    I’m quite excited to spot the Christmas comet and meteor shower! Unfortunately, just when the stuff is set to appear, the weather is turning distinctly tropical here for that week (all subject to change of course). Today was feral humid, and looking out the window right now I see a band of thick low cloud – which is probably fog – settling over the valley below the mountain range. It moved in from the south really quickly. The farm is set up to handle both humidity and extended dry patches, but the surrounding forest – not so much (for now).

    Weather is beautiful isn’t it? And glad that you enjoyed the photos. I liked that particular photo too. When I was a kid, those wind driven pumps were found all over the countryside. They were an excellent use of wind energy as they could pump water at low wind speeds, unlike electricity which requires strong and constant wind.

    I just heard some serious thunder from outside! I like a good thunderstorm (as long as the lightning doesn’t blow up the interweb modem or my FM radio, or anything else for that matter) 🙂

    It is lovely hearing about the happy worms in your corner of the world. Worms do the hard yards in the garden. Yesterday I stumbled across a mound of mud which had been excavated by a yabby (a very tasty and long lived land living crustacean). The mound was just below and on the edge of the new fern gully, so I was very excited to see it, but couldn’t find it again when I looked this evening. Yabbies can walk across the land and dig deep holes to live in the soil. It is a very good sign of a healthy and moist environment.

    I’m enjoying Mr Greer’s post this week too!



  55. @ Damo:

    My parents looked at St. George, Utah as a place to retire (they found it too pricey for their budget). That appears to be what St. George is about. All the money there comes from investments; retirees are the industry. I heard this from a friend of theirs, too. I have never been there so I don’t know for sure. The place did depend on agriculture (cotton) in the 19th century.


  56. @ Inge:

    I very rarely see a mother obviously breastfeeding in public here. It is not because they don’t nurse their babies here, a lot of them do, but I guess there are still social reasons why they do so in less obvious places.

    When I was waiting in line at the post office recently there was a French couple with a small baby a bit in front of me in line and the baby started crying. So the mother went out for a couple of minutes and when she came back with the baby in her arms, it was obvious that it was nursing, though nothing could be seen. I felt the atmosphere in line tense up a bit, but all in line were very polite, all eyes were kind of being cast in every direction but the couple. I was entranced to see that when the couple and baby got up to the service window, the middle-aged male postal worker acted completely as though there was no nursing baby there. I wondered if the thought of a sign on the door – No Food or Drink Allowed Inside – crossed his mind.


  57. Hello again
    No, no snow. Actually it is unusual for us to get snow before January and some years we don’t get any at all.
    No idea as to what is munching on the leeks. Rats probably, but it just might be birds.


  58. Yo, Chris – We’ve talked before as to how noise levels have increased, in libraries, over the years. It’s all a miss-placed effort to be “welcoming.” Well, how about welcoming those who want a bit of piece and quiet? Apparently, we’re in the minority.

    Another problem is noise around the computers. The computer stations at the local library are a bit tight. Always a joy to sit down next to someone carrying on long and involved phone conversations. A few weeks ago, there were two giggling young boys at two computers and a woman asked them several times to keep it down. She finally got a librarian, but all she did was move one of the young blokes to another computer.

    Decorum? What are you, some kind of toff? :-).

    That was an interesting article on Greenland. “Very unusual things are happening on this planet.” No s___, Sherlock. The little video was interesting. Although, the average American, if they bothered to read the article at all, would probably think “Well, 7 meters doesn’t seem like so much. Not that I have a clue how long a meter is.”

    They didn’t mention anything about how all that fresh water may impact warm ocean currents. Northern Europe and NE North America may be in for a bit of cold winters. Which only gives ammo to the “it isn’t real” crowd. I haven’t seen any concerns over the Japanese current, which keeps us toasty. But, it’s a world wide system. I also wonder what would happen if Panama were swamped. Free exchange of water between the Atlantic and Pacific. The possibilities are endless.

    I had to refresh my memory as to what a yabby was. Oh, yeah. Like our cray fish (or, crawdad, if you prefer. They’re found pretty much continent wide, here. We used to hunt them, as kids. I’ll never forget when one glommed onto one of my cousins, right between her thumb and index finger. Lots of screaming and pliers were involved. They lock their claws, which remain locked, even when dead.

    I wondered how you got yabbys, over so much dry land and at such an elevation. But I see from Wikipedia that they can travel 60km, overland. That’s a couple of hundred feet, right? :-). But uphill? Dodging predators, all the way?

    Well, something interesting happened, yesterday. I stop at a convenience mart, from time to time. Some Middle Eastern (Indian?) folks have owned it, for years. The owner spotted my truck and asked if I’d be interested in selling it. Cash money, whatever the Blue Book value, is. Hmmm. Think of all the tat I could buy at auction! :-). Of course, I wouldn’t have a way to get to and from the auction. Lew

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