Eco, what?

A local bakery provides a delightful lunch consisting of roast pork (or roast lamb) and salad greens in a bun. The bakery has a large selection of cakes too, and I’m quite partial to their Lamington. Occasionally when the editor and I are in the mood for such a lunch, we venture off the farm to the nearby bakery and avail ourselves of a delightful lunch.

Delightful lunches become even more delightful when they are consumed in a scenic picnic spot in the local area. One of my favourite locations for a picnic is a shady spot high up in the mountain range near to where a tuberculosis (TB) sanatorium once stood. In the Victorian era, it was believed that sufferers of the wide spread disease would be better off removed from the general population where they could recuperate in the fresh mountain airs. The survival rate for people contracting the reasonably communicable disease was not good, so anything that could assist the sufferers would be a good thing.

It sure would have been fresh up there back in the day! Winters here are a relatively mild affair with only the occasional snowfall, but back in those days the location was so remote that you may as well have been sending the consumption sufferers to Mars.

Nowadays there is no sign of the sanatorium building other than the lake that was once their water supply. However, the many exotic trees in the gardens surrounding the sanatorium have grown quite large during the intervening years. And that makes the locale a pleasant place for a delightful picnic.

However, last year one government authority, or another, decided that many of the exotic trees were invasive and had to be removed. The picnic spot was closed to the public for a number of weeks whilst some of the exotic trees were felled and then put through a chipper.

The work sure must have taken a lot of effort and energy because they’ve created a lot of woody mulch. I don’t enjoy spending time now at that once pleasant picnic ground, although maybe that was the point of the exercise. Here is what the picnic ground looked like a few months back:

Eco tourism at its finest

Strangely enough, the authorities seem to have had some trouble determining which tree was exotic and which wasn’t, because you can see in the photo above a branch from a Monterey Pine (Pinus radiata). And I’m pretty sure the species didn’t grow on the continent before white settlers arrived. Another exception seemed to have been the Douglas Firs (Pseudotsuga menziesii) which were also left standing. There may have been others but I didn’t hang around long enough to find out.

The funny thing was, the exotic plants grew only in the disturbed areas because they didn’t stand a chance of infiltrating the native forest. The next photo shows an almost clear line between the cleared area of exotic plants and the native forest.

The exotic plants had not reached into the forest

Nature however, is not so easily restrained by a few weeks of felling and chipping. The exotic trees left almost a century worth of seeds and root systems – and it is now all happily growing back.

Linden trees (Tilia species) germinate in the rich soil produced by the heavy mulching

It all seems like a giant waste of time and energy to me, not to mention that it ruined a perfectly good picnic spot. I am also not sure what type of Eco-tourist would enjoy a delightful picnic surrounded by such destruction.

Long ago I read that the word ‘weed’ has no official standing in the field of botany – the arm of science that relates to plants. The best description of the word ‘weed’ that I have yet seen, was from a Permaculture article which described a weed as a: “plant out of place”. In its most simple terms that can mean that we don’t wish a plant to be growing where it is.

On the farm, the Permaculture definition means that in areas where I’m growing edible plants, I mostly only want to grow plants that I want growing in those areas. There is nothing inherently unusual about my desire either, because humans have been actively managing the landscape on this continent (and probably on other continents as well) for dozens of millennia. It is not lost on me that humans are as much a part of the land as the trees.

Given the length of time that us humans have been mucking around with the landscape, I’d have to suggest that it is quite possible that nobody knows what the composition of the plants should be, or even look like, in any particular area!

I certainly don’t make any such claims about the plants here (exotic or otherwise), and regardless, most of my diet is composed of plants that originated in far distant corners of the planet.

With the plants growing here, I just look around the local area and observe what works and try to implement that. For example, some parts of the forest surrounding the property is in need of a more diverse under-story and so I encourage those plants:

Groves of thickly planted Blackwood trees (Acacia Melanoxylon) harvest nitrogen from the atmosphere and get it into the soil
The top soil in the forest is looking richer and darker despite the recent hot and dry summer

It would be hard for any tree to compete with the Messmate over story trees (Eucalyptus Obliqua) which can grow to 90m / 300ft. Despite that, I have plenty of oak trees grown from seedlings growing all about the farm. The wildlife adore eating the leaves of the oak trees:

Many oak trees grow around the farm

However, sometimes nature gets its own ideas and unusual plants can simply turn up of their own accord:

Self seeded avocado and hazelnut grow next to the chicken enclosure
A self seeded nectarine or peach tree grows strongly despite not being fed or watered for the entire summer

All of the exotic plants here are proven survivors because they have to be to get through such harsh summer conditions (hot and dry this year). Given that everyone seems to be worried about global warming, maybe it is not a bad idea to give some of these hardy exotics more of a chance?

Winter weather is fast approaching and there is no better tell tale sign of this change in climate than a Scritchy dog hiding deep in a bean bag. She stays toasty warm in there!

Scritchy hides deep in the bean bag – a sure sign that winter is coming

For some time now one of the very heavy glass sliding doors on the house was getting much harder to open and close. Certainly there were times that I was unable to close the sliding door with only the strength of one arm. With winter fast approaching we decided to remove the door from the frame and find out what was going wrong.

A very heavy glass sliding door was removed from the frame so as to inspect the rollers

Did I mention that the glass door was crazy heavy? Due to the bushfire construction regulations the glass in the door is 10mm (2/5ths of an inch) toughened glass and it takes two people to lift the door out of the frame. And getting the door out of the frame was a nightmare of a job. In the above photograph you can see that we still have the stainless steel mesh bushfire shutters covering the windows. It has been a very hot and dry summer – record breaking in fact.

Sure enough one of the rollers at the bottom of the sliding door had failed.

One of the four rollers at the bottom of the door had been ground flat and the wheel was not turning

Fortunately the windows are standard windows supplied by one of the largest manufacturers of windows in the state, and they had a supply of replacement rollers available for me to pick up from one of their showrooms.

We replaced the faulty roller mechanism and re-installed the door in the frame only to discover that the door still did not slide properly. Frankly, it was a bit of a let down. Not to be deterred, after a bit of investigation we discovered that a minor chunk of plastic at the top of the door had broken and had the effect of putting too much downwards pressure on the roller – which is why it failed in the first place. No doubts I’d broken the plastic when I installed the door over a decade ago! Problem solved and the door slides like a dream now.

We fed and pruned another part of the orchard this week. There is probably about another three days work to complete the job. That job incidentally will require another 3 cubic metres (3.9 cubic yards) of mulch and manure before it is finished.

Another part of the orchard was fed and pruned

Observant readers will note that I prune the fruit trees so that they produce a very strong main trunk. The wallabies that live here dictate the pruning arrangements because they break off all of the lower branches.

Triffid alert! The zucchini bed was mostly cleared today in preparation for winter vegetables. There were a few monsters in there…

The zucchini bed was cleared uncovering some serious marrows

The winter vegetables have been germinating of their own accord.

Rocket germinates in one of the vegetable beds

Olives are putting on some size too. When the weather cools down more, we plan to move a number of olive trees and plant them in a grid pattern that is more suitable for these plants.

Olives are putting on some size

The dread time of leaf change is here. I use the word ‘dread’ because at this time of year the mountain range teems with tourists coming to have a look at the pretty trees.

Leaf change is here
Japanese maples are one of my favourite plants and this red one is a stunner
This Chinese quince looks like it will put on a good show of colour too

Onto the flowers:

Roses are enjoying the sunny, dry and cool conditions
We grow a lot of roses
Geraniums always put on a good show
Nasturtium has really enjoyed the cool and sunny conditions. The plant is mostly edible (but not particularly tasty)
The summer rocket is now producing flowers and we should collect seed from it in a few weeks time
For some reason the passionfruit vine has produced lots of new passionflowers

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 65.2mm (2.6 inches) which is the slightly higher than last weeks total of 58.6mm (2.3 inches).

65 thoughts on “Eco, what?”

  1. Hi Inge,

    I’ve noticed that letters in the mail tend to carry more weight, sorry to say. It all sounds very official. Exactly too. Those local government bodies keep detailed contact notes where residents have initiated contact with the local government body – and I’d have to suggest that such records are not kept for the residents benefit, despite the fact that residents pay for the service.

    Actually it sounds quite nice to me that you’ve known the person for so many decades. But I would have referred the question to the source, because any errors would be the solicitors problem and not yours.

    “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a greedy person in possession of a good fortune, must inevitably fall into a Grand Designs disaster” 🙂

    I’m wary of unusual arrangements for the reason that they are by their very nature – unusual. Sorry, I’m sounding flippant, but I am also serious.

    Hope you enjoyed the leaf change colours in the photos? It is such a nice time of year, it is like a mini-spring.



  2. Hi DJ,

    Mate, everything turns up for a feed when it is on offer, doesn’t it? I’m about at the point where the tomato enclosure has to be cleared of plants and a new batch of mulch and manure laid down. This morning I looked out of the newly repaired glass door and spotted a huge Pied Currawong bird (about as smart as they get down here) sitting on the fence of the tomato enclosure. I wondered what had been consuming the tomatoes – now I know. Fortunately, only this week we put away the final bottle of tomato sauce (passata). The predation is unrelenting, but ever was it thus. And sometimes I suspect that people had to deal with far worse from wildlife in the past and at least nothing here wants to rend me limb from limb for dinner, although the wildlife will happily kill me dead without a moments thought!

    Lawn mowers are excellent devices for chopping up organic matter. And kudos to you for the electric powered machine. I’m curious to hear of your experience with such a device? As the years go on, I’m getting more slack about applying mulches and compost and simply chuck them down on the ground and let nature do the hard yards. A lot of people dig it in, and that is probably not a bad idea, but there is only so much digging a person can hack.

    Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz sounds like a delightful canine. The breed is very close to wild stock, so yeah the intelligence factor is very high, although I’ll bet Cheyenne had her own opinions in some matters (a notable sign of a good dog).

    Hehe! Your dad was probably smarter than all of us combined to have made that observation! 🙂

    It’s true about the food preservation techniques and I’m always amazed at how much deep freezing of produce goes on in your part of the world. My little solar power system couldn’t handle the load from such devices, and so we have to go old school with most preserving methods. My mates of the big shed fame were suggesting an ingenious way to obtain a huge amount of salt, although I haven’t followed them up on that story. With meat preservation, salt was one traditional curing method for preserving and they also have a smoker.

    Of course, all opinions here are subject to change! 🙂 I get a bit scared sometimes when people fail to notice the nuances, that is life, but then flights to the extreme seem to encourage fixed and inflexible points of view.



  3. Hi Pam,

    Aren’t they lovely? And it was such a well written and informative article that it would be a vast miscarriage of justice to not include a link to them. They’ve set the bar quite high! I might have to stop talking so much rubbish, but then the rubbish is part of the fun don’t you reckon?

    I’ve been recently adding in the missing blogs here from the dodgy days when I did not know who’s feet that I was stepping upon. As a hint, they have more resources than little old me! 2018 is now completely up and running and I’ll keep adding to 2017 over the next week or so, depending on how much time is available for such things… Clearly, as you already know, the time fell behind the couch and was sucked up by the vacuum cleaner. All right thinking people know this to be true! Hehe!

    Hope you enjoyed the leaf change photos? The tourists have been unrelenting…



  4. Hi, Chris!

    You are so lucky to have such a lunch place – I am drooling, though I just had a nice breakfast. But I am sorry to hear about your picnic spot. It does look like is is growing back, but Chris will be a good bit older before it is pleasant for picnics again. How foolish, and wasteful, are those authorities who decide – arbitrarily, it appears – to wipe out such interesting diversity, that was managing on its own and causing no problem. I will insert here your very astute comment: “Given that everyone seems to be worried about global warming, maybe it is not a bad idea to give some of these hardy exotics more of a chance?”

    We had our own place for tubercular patients. It was called the Blue Ridge Tuberculosis Sanatorium and was built in 1920. Unlike yours, ours was built on the edge of town and the buildings are all still in use (for other purposes). And also unlike yours, the altitude in town is only 600 feet, so there was no “mountain” benefit. People from lower down in the inland plains, like our capital city of Richmond, use to come up to the Blue Ridge Mountains in the western part of my county to get away from the heat in the summer. They average only about 2500 ft. (762m) at that point, but further south some of the peaks reach a mile high or more. The temps in the mountains are usually 10F cooler than the city of Charlottesville a few miles away.

    We have 3 “weeds” that we are encouraging to grow in our garden pathways. We have watched them for a couple of years and they seem like they might work for that purpose. They are all low-growing and maintenance-free (perhaps “maintenance-free” should be added to the description of a “weed”). All of our beds are raised, so I don’t think they will easily get into the beds. All are natives, just coincidentally, and so there is a fair amount that can be transplanted besides those that already grow in the garden. Apparently the deer don’t like them. I’d love to have the rock/rock dust/lime walkways that you have; not in the budget this year.

    You have the richest forest topsoil I have ever seen – what a good job you have done! Mother Nature did not do that all by herself. I have never seen a volunteer nectarine or peach. That will be an interesting tree to watch. Zucchinis are the epitome of triffids. Your leaf change colors are already so gorgeous, and you have had a wonderful year for roses. Your new rose bed will be out of this world.

    What a job that glass door fix was – even with Assistant Ollie’s help. I hope you don’t have to do that again.

    Scritchy looks like she was just hatched in a big, blue nest.


  5. @ Inge:

    Thanks so much for the Elizabeth Peters books idea. They sound wonderful.


  6. Hello Chris
    Yes, I loved those autumn colours. The subject of tree clearance etc is a sensitive one for me at present. However Son and I have gone to ground, no extra rocking of the boat. I seem to have had a mysterious phone call while out shopping, the number is an Island one but unknown to me. Perhaps they will ring again!


  7. Hi Lewis,

    You are clearly of a braver and more resilient personage than I, if only because I head into a nearby town and visit the bricks and mortar shop of the nice telco when things have popped in that sphere – and it always surprises me how often the little devices go pop.

    Actually, I’m impressed that you could actually speak with another human who was unhurried enough to be able to resolve your issue. You have to admit that it is an amazing feat of luck in this day and age? I have had people in call centres in far distant countries, hang up on me, when the problem became too big for them to resolve. I suspect that such acts are driven by ruthless: Key Performance Indicators. Surviving such things are sort of like levelling up in a video game, or Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, or something like that – it taps into a deep human need, and then perverts the need.

    Retaining the same phone number is a bit like staking out some territory in the electronic world. And of course, changing phone numbers is about as appealing as ‘hot desking’ which is a revolting concept to my mind. My mind recoils at the concept.

    Oh, and speaking of things going ‘pop’. Well, the editor put a round squash into the oven with a loaf of baking bread. So, I was replying to Pam and I heard this rather strange pop noise from outside. Now, I’m of the mindset that strange sounds probably should be investigated, because you never know what they might entail. Anyway, the squash in the electric oven exploded – even the door popped open and contents were sprayed everywhere. The editor had inadvertently created a steam boiler… Heck of a cleaning job that one. Oops!

    Last evening we went into the big smoke to see the comedy show: ‘The Aspie Hour’. I feel it is necessary to mention that the two folks in the show were musical theatre fans (that was their thing) and they presented the show as a musical. Of course, musicals are not my thing, but I really enjoyed the show and they were really sweet, vulnerable, and heart breakingly honest. I made a rookie mistake and sat towards the front of the stage, and at one point the young lady, who had Asperger’s syndrome, came and sat upon my lap and remarked upon how uncomfortable she felt by the act – it was awkward after all, and I replied that: “if it means anything to you, I too am uncomfortable”. However, I’m fairly sensitive to other people’s emotional states and I can’t say that I said the right thing in the circumstances. Despite that, the two were so lovely, and my heart went out to them. It was their final show at the Comedy Festival and I noted that it was being filmed, so who knows where the footage will end up. They had great singing voices, and I learned a lot and gained a bit of understanding and empathy.

    There is a house in the local area that is curved and the side of the house facing towards the setting afternoon sun during summer is a bank of windows (plus there must be some posts in there to hold the roof up, but I wasn’t able to check terribly closely). The house must be like an out of control greenhouse during hot summer afternoons. Such constructions make a great design statement, but I really wonder how easy they would be to live in during the summer? Dunno. The walls here resist the change in temperature between the inside and the outside of the house, but the windows, despite being insanely thick double glazing, tend to transfer either the heat or cold in from the outside world.

    The most temperate house that I ever lived in was an old Victorian era brick terrace in a row of terrace houses. The walls between myself and the neighbours were solid brick on either side and they were almost half a metre thick (470mm or 18.5 inches) of solid brick and mortar. None of the external walls were exposed to the sun. It just worked. Of course the single room in the second story 1920’s addition, was an absolute nightmare because it acted like a chimney and all of the external double brick walls were exposed to the elements (being a second story). Mind you, back in the day the single room was divided into three rooms for their kids. Taxes on windows was mentioned in the Conrad Richter books. I’ve heard of taxes being levied on unpainted houses down here.

    The tram network would definitely have been there in the 1950’s, although by those days as you correctly suppose, the network had been largely dismantled. So much infrastructure was removed during those crazy heady days of the motorised vehicle.

    I’m old enough to have taken actual rides on the old timber trams and trains. Mate the stench of burning brakes (possibly containing asbestos) was a memorable smell and not easily forgotten. And the seats were these big padded leather seats. On stonking hot days, if you were wearing shorts, you’d leave sweat marks on the leather seats after you’d gotten up from them. A reminder for everyone else that you’d been there. 🙂 Conductors used to move through the carriage and they’d have these huge leather bags full of tickets and change and they’d hit you up for a ticket. When the tram was full of people and there was only standing room, the conductors would have to hip and shoulder their way through the moving vehicle collecting fares. But I remember the lovely brass fittings where you could stow your bags overhead and off the floor, where it was likely to get trod upon. Maybe in the 1980’s the old timber trams were phased out, and those replacements are now rarely seen having been replaced by much longer vehicles, although a few years ago a Pakistani tram works took one of them and converted it into an outrageous vehicle. Perhaps it is a case of “Pimp my Tram”? Let’s see if there is any video footage of the amazing machine: Melbourne trams have never looked better. Mate, the first time I saw and heard (it had hindi music blaring from speakers!) it brought a massive smile to my face. So uncool, that it was very cool!

    Oh my, and some bridges apparently fell off (please excuse the gallows humour in this instance) the list because the definitions were re-defined… Bridges are the visible items, what about power stations…

    Yes, the tax rate was as high as 90% in those days, and it had the unexpected effect of reducing the amount of spare resources which could be put to use Smaug-ing away even more IOU’s.

    I’ve noticed the posters for the film Shazaam. Hope the film lives up to the hype, or is at least enjoyable and has a coherent story line. Not always easy…

    The Last Mimzy is a fascinating story premise. I watched a film with such a premise a long time ago, although it was by the dark master of horror films – John Carpenter – and titled: “The Prince of Darkness”. It had Alice Cooper in it playing a homeless bad guy. Scary. Messages from the future are rarely good news, and I’m about 99.9% certain that they’re going to be pretty annoyed with us for all sorts of good reasons.

    I quite enjoy the dialect in the dialogue that Mr Richter is using in the story. Won’t mention that I’m about one or two chapters ahead of you. Err, sorry broke my own rule there! 🙂 There is mystery in the new and as yet unseen wife.

    Well, I’d have to suggest that “Reality Films” is a dead giveaway – the makers doth protest too much! To be honest I wasn’t entirely sure what to make of what I’d seen in those five minutes. The unrelenting montage of images with dramatic music in the background wasn’t doing it for me. On the other hand, the next time I am at the Paperback bookshop (a beautiful business) I have plans to obtain the collected works of the author, and that will be an interesting avenue to delve into his mind.



  8. Yo, Chris – About the best book I have read about life inside a TB hospital was Betty MacDonald’s (author of the popular “Egg and I”), “The Plague and I.” (1948). Best practice seemed to be to ship folks off to the “high dry air” of the American southwest. What seemed to work best for the poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning was to run off to Italy and eat lots of grapes. Eloping out from under “Daddies” thumb and running off with the love of her life, Robert Browning, also seemed to help :-).

    You always wonder who is responsible for things like the pillage of your local picnic grounds. It probably all came down to the opinion of one person, but tracking them down and bringing them before the bar of popular opinion is a thankless task. Local newspapers were good for that, in letters to the editor, if noting else, but those are falling as fast as your autumn leaves.

    Seems like there’s land management, and then there’s land management. A super power used for good? Or a super power used for evil? Depends on who you ask. I’m beginning to think the whole question of native, invasive, weeds, etc. is a fraught topic, best not discussed in polite society. Like politics and religion :-). But I sure like your, I’m sure, entirely native and indiginous to Australia, olive trees :-). Beauty (and utility) is in the mind of the beholder?

    Your shot of your forest soil triggered a phrase in my mind. “Get that soil.” A riff on the old phrase “Get them apples.” Or, “How do you like them apples?” Which of course sent me down the linguistic rabbit hole.“Good-Will-Hunting”-came-up-with-the-phrase-but-then-I-was-watching-“From-Dusk-Till-Dawn”-and-George-Clooneys-character-says-the-same-thing-Is-it-a-common-saying

    Your little oak seedling reminded me of something I saw in the Territorial Seed Catalog, the other night. You can get an English oak tree, inoculated with truffle spoor. For $60 a pop.

    Scritchy in the bean bag chair reminded me of a Georgia O’Keeffe painting. One of her enormous flower paintings. Funny how the mind works. Well, mine at least.

    So tell me. Were the glass doors heavy? :-). Well, if nothing else, they were a pretty good and simple example of system failure.

    The leaf colors on your place are fantastic! As are the colors of the nasturtiums. Sigh. As with so many other things that you can forage, “edible, but not very tasty.” I may try an experiment with brussels sprouts flowers, tonight. They’re supposed to be tasty, sauteed in butter and garlic. We’ll see. Lew

  9. Cont. I think of my new phone, the Jitterbug, as the “old people’s phone.” :-). They advertise heavily in the AARP (American Association of Retired People) periodicals. I think they know their target market, and have decided to invest more heavily in customer service, than the other telecoms. Telecoms are about the most hated companies in America. Except for the Jitterbug company. They generally get higher ratings. As word gets around, I wonder if they’ll cut into a bit of the youth market, too? They have a pretty basic flip phone (which I have) but they also have a more complicated “device.” / Pad.

    Retaining numbers as staking out territory. It’s about people that you want to have access to you, to have access to you. Of course, there’s a lot of people (spam, telemarketers) that take advantage of that access. I have 200 minutes a month, to play with, on my phone. I wonder how much of it will be eaten up by robo calls? Another positive for keeping my old number. In the 24 hours I had my new phone, with not my old number, I got two voicemails for whoever had the number before me. There was a lot of that when I first got “my” number, but, it’s pretty much faded away. Over lots of time.

    I have three e-mail accounts that date back to the dark ages of the internet. I don’t know what I’d do if I lost any of those. When I switched phones, I was careful to go through my “phone book” and make sure I had written down everyone’s number I wanted to keep. A lot of dead wood, got pruned. I ended up with three.

    Oh, dear. The Great Squash Disaster of 2019. Will there be t-shirts? :-). Oh, well. In hindsight, it will be minor. Look at it as a good opportunity to clean out the inside of the oven … and various other surfaces. I generally stab the heck out of anything that needs to be microwaved, or baked. Or, cut it in half or fourths. You may remember my Great Microwave Butter Debacle of 2018? Something was popping away in my microwave, last night. I mixed a small can of smoked ham, and some cut up fried eggs into my usual rice/veg mix. I figure it was one of the other. I figure it was the fat in either/or that was popping. But, since it was safely lidded with a plate, no clean up other than washing the plate.

    The Aspie Hour sounds delightful. Other than the audience participation, part. I’m not so keen on those, either. Given the current climate, can you sue for harassment? 🙂

    Well, the folks with the big house with the big windows probably just crank up the A/C. Taxes on unpainted houses? An Aesthetics Tax? Might as well just call it what it really is. A fine for poor upkeep.

    The tram would probably make me smile, too. Some unexpected things, do. I loved the sign I spotted. “Respect Your Elders. Travel in Silence.” I’ve read that due to social pressure, travel on Japanese trains is very quiet. Text to your heart’s content, but don’t chatter on your phone. Now there’s a social pressure I could get behind.

    Yup. Scary messages from the future is almost a whole sub genre of science fiction. “Terminator”, “13 Monkeys”, etc.. But, gee, (spoilers ahead), all you have to do is send a bit of DNA into the future (from an innocent child’s single tear) and wars end, the atmosphere clears and flowers bloom again. Oh, and people can fly.

    I’m up to chapter 14, in “The Town.” “The Summer Sweeting.” I remembered a bit from when I read it before. And, took a little peak ahead. Threads will be pulled, together.

    Yes, the Doyle film was a bit of a mish mash. Looks like anything vaguely “spooky” from the public domain, toss it in a computer program and get “creative.” I wonder if it was someone’s film school project? If the darned thing had lived up to it’s title, it might have been quit interesting.

    I watched “Aquaman”, last night. Great spectacle. A few funny bits. And, even though I suppose it will hit the sequel trail, a satisfying ending with everything pulled together. Without betraying to much of a spoiler, I was also delighted by a bit ripped off from Burroughs. But that might just be me. Lew

  10. Hi Chris,

    Random council pruning and chopping down is something that regularly shats me off. While governments are merely incompetent, councils have NFI. They recently removed a luxurious hedge across the road here containing 100 sparrows for…what purpose? They put in a metal fence, and, from what I can tell, maybe a single, solitary effing carpark will result.

    I am not the only one. Last year, they were removing an old tree nearby and a fellow disturbed citizen just lost it and started assaulting the poor workers employed to carry out the dirty business. Apparently police got involved! Legend has it that Friedrich Nietzsche reacted similarly to seeing the flogging of a horse.

    Speaking of Fritz, the old boy recommended cool and dry mountain air. I envy your air quality Chris. City vegetation is a tremendous sink of CO2 and other nasties, but the world needs more carparking.

  11. Chris,

    By far the two smartest dogs I’ve ever been around were Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz and Rakhi the Samoyed. The latter almost acted more human than doggy a lot of the time. And, as you observed, both were quite close to wild stock.

    Isn’t trying to figure out what to grow and how to grow it while minimizing the “take” from the other critters a form of adapting to what’s there? Oh, right, our cultures try to make things the way we want them rather than working with what is.

    My dad bought our first electric lawn mower 45 or 46 years ago. Before that we used one of those push mowers. I’ve had good experiences with the electric mowers, never having used a gasoline one. The electric ones are quieter and they don’t stink! I don’t know if it will be able to do much with chopping up twigs. Experimenting is the best way to find out.

    The colors of your trees are great. It must be enjoyable being surrounded by so much color. Just an idea…to keep the city folk from traipsing around your area too much…maybe place some signs on the road with maps that lead to the best area to look at autumn colors…and it leads people to the decimated picnic area.


  12. Hi Pam,

    Well, yes that would be a breakfast problem, but if I may add – it’s better than choking on breakfast. 😉 It is such a weird thing for them to do that to the picnic spot which used to be shady, green and pleasant. Sometimes in my more cynical moments I feel that the act was akin to digging a hole and then refilling it and they felt good that at least they were doing something… It was a bonkers act.

    I wonder if it would feel a bit eerie to spend time in such a building? The construction looks quite nice and solidly constructed, if a bit on the institutional side of things, but then sufferers had little choice in the matter.

    WOW! You’d have to go a long way to get a better view than in your part of the world: rainy morning in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

    Maintenance free does sound like it would fit the description quite nicely. 🙂 If the deer don’t eat them, I reckon that is a good thing. Would you believe a wallaby has been sitting in one of the round raised garden beds and consuming our winter vegetable seedlings? And just for sheer cheek, the wallaby leaves calling cards in the garden bed.

    Thanks and that is high praise! I’ve worked hard building top soil and it interests me that the fertility spreads out and away from the house.

    Hehe! What a disaster it would be to have to redo that door work anytime soon. Ollie sends cordial tail wags! And little Scritchy was asleep for much of the day in her blue nest (a fine description!) and was toasty warm as I ran the wood heater on low for most of the day as the cold wet weather has returned. I don’t dampen the wood heater down, nowadays I just don’t add that much firewood. Seems to work.



  13. Hi Inge,

    Cool! And I reckon the leaf colours are really nice too. I can understand why the tourists turn up, but I do wonder if they enjoy the experience given the sheer volume of people? I don’t understand that side of the story as it makes no sense to me. I’ve read quite a number of articles suggesting that tourism at such huge volumes ends up trashing the very places that people go to see. I note that there is quite the kerfuffle over Stonehenge at the moment. I’d be curious about your opinion, but I sort of feel that Stonehenge is a bit more important than a link road and/or tunnel?

    Here is a bit more of the local reaction to the clearing: More harm than good?

    Beware unknown phone numbers! Your story is moving rather rapidly. It is a sensitive story if relocated down here too. Oh well.



  14. Hi crowandsheep,

    Yeah, it annoys me too. Like what was the point of all of the work, and who decided to do it? And the worst of the lot is that there are other more pressing issues that could be addressed. Paved paradise and all that… I hear you.

    So the story goes that Friedrich Nietzsche did indeed lose his marbles over witnessing the unrelenting flogging of a horse. Of course his fall began before that time, but as has correctly been observed elsewhere, it may have been the straw that broke the camels back.

    You know, we could actually do better with vegetation in the city, but the built environment there is a bit out of step with the sort of complex arrangements that might be sustainable? Dunno. The other day I read about a radical animal rights protest held at an industrial feedlot which turned ugly. The thing is I doubt meat is economical to produce in the volumes that it currently is. And also, even the radical vegans don’t recycle their manure back into the soils, so the whole argument becomes a moot point because every year the soils become more impoverished. It would be nice if everyone took a deep breath and just, conceded some ground…



  15. Hi DJ,

    Mate, those two dogs are about as smart as they get. Of course, you would have had to accommodate their wishes and desires because they would have had plenty of those. Sometimes Ollie looks at me, and I call him, and I can see that he is thinking to himself: Maybe later.

    Yes, absolutely you are correct. It is finding the middle ground between everything getting consumed by the wildlife, and you getting your fair share, that is hard to find. It’s complicated, but I reckon it is better to get a handle on the processes now. But adaption, and acceptance by the way, is pretty much the main game.

    Thanks for sharing your experience of the electric mower. I hadn’t realised that they’d been around as long as that.

    The air is good, as long as there aren’t too many bushfires in the state. Tonight it is cold as, and the stars are amazing to see and really crisp and sharp in the detail. Winter is the best time for stargazing here.



  16. Chris:

    That must have been a whole exploding squash. Probably one has to cut them in half. Was it the kind (what I call “winter”) that has a tough skin? I had a baking potato do that when I didn’t poke holes in it.

    You are now a professional actor. Better join the union.

    I love that tram. The interior must be delicious.

    What a beautiful Blue Ridge view. Thanks! I only see those mountains from a distance, though on visits over there I have gotten up high enough to see something like that.

    I am eternally grateful that I don’t have wallabies.

    I am very glad that some other people besides you and the editor are outraged by the purposeful devastation to the old Sanatorium site. But what is a Shadow Minister of Environment? At first I thought it might be a ghost from the Sanatorium.


  17. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for the continuing education. How could my education be so lacking that I had never before encountered the giant and precocious figure of Elizabeth Barrett Browning? Sad days in education, my friend, sad days.

    I can’t with any honesty suggest that the mountain air up here is dry for the six cooler months of the year. Humidity is often well past 90%, day in and day out during that time. I do wonder at how that would have affected the sufferers. Incidentally there is now no sign that a sanatorium building was even there.

    The act on the picnic ground appears to have been a faceless decision. The article I linked to in the reply to Inge suggests that the matter was taken up in Parliament and at the highest levels. There are some heavy hitters up in the fashionable part of the mountain range. As far as I see that act, it is only a matter of time before something different emerges in the picnic ground. But it will never look as good again in my lifespan.

    It is a fraught topic, and people are bonkers about the subject. I heard a radio news report on Monday evening about some radical animal rights folks who protested at an animal feedlot. It got ugly. Now, if they understood the ecology better then they’d know that without animals, the soils would get very poor in fertility indeed, very quickly. In fact, as a society we’re doing a mighty fine job of that task as soil minerals tend to end up in the ocean. But then there is the fraught issue that without the animal feedlots, meat probably wouldn’t be economical and that is not even remotely sustainable. So everyone flies to the extremes in the hope they protect their perquisites (even if those are cherished beliefs) for a bit longer.

    Anyway, the local over story Eucalyptus trees can hybridise into a new species within three generations, and so they are tough and will do what they will do to survive.

    I love olive trees and will plant more of them over the next year or so! One can never have too many olive trees. The local birds enjoy the olives too.

    That would never have occurred to me that somebody dove so deep into a lingual rabbit hole. They even had graphs depicting the usage of the phrase. I’m impressed by such displays of scholastic aptitude.

    Hey, they sell the truffle fungus inoculated oak trees down here too. Sometimes they are English Oaks and other times I’ve seen Holm Oaks, which are apparently quite hardy. They grow truffles a bit to the west of here (not far at all), but you know, the applications of lime would be expensive. Have you actually consumed black truffles. I have, and I wasn’t sure they were that nice, but you know other people talk them up…

    Hehe! It is funny how the mind works and the bean bag is very brightly coloured. The other week a mate brought their kids over (they love the place) and one of the kids was jumping up and down on the bean bag – fortunately Scritchy was not in the bean bag at the time.

    Real heavy, real thick glazing. Nuff said, really! 🙂 So many things are like that and I struggle to keep ahead of the curve. The electric chainsaw was another funny recent example too. The motor in it would probably last for twenty plus years, bu the bar and chain not so much. You think they’d be readily available. Nope. I suspect the entire unit is sold as a disposable item. Bonkers. Anyway the local farm machine repair folks tracked down a suitable bar and chain that would fit the machine. And I owe them a debt of gratitude for tracking a replacement down, and they have a loyal customer. I despair sometimes at the sheer waste that goes on and nobody seems to take notice. I don’t get that at all.

    Yeah, the colours of the leaves are great aren’t they? And as the orchard gets older, the colours will get even better. The Japanese maple was a real standout though. I can see why the tourists turn up, but still do they have to arrive in such huge volumes?

    Plenty of flowers are edible – and probably really good to include in your diet. A mate cooks up really tasty stuffed zucchini flowers – and they’re good. Did you try the Brussels sprout flower experiment?

    I’ve seen some of those phones. Big buttons and a quality speaker does the trick. I could use one of those devices too. 🙂 Always wise to review the ratings. I have very little choice about which telco to utilise. Other people tell me what great plans they get, and then I hear about what troubles they have with the networks (all of which I believe are shared down here).

    Really? Two phone calls already? Well, hopefully the people making the calls were nice?

    I remember the dark ages of the internet – and dare I mention the old BBS system which was the fore runner of the beast? Mate, maintaining the email addresses is a tough gig if you don’t rent the web domain – which I’m guessing would be a very difficult ask. I try to avoid freebie cloud based services, although I’m in the minority. Hey, life can be like that, oh yeah, I hear you about the deadwood and have seen my fair share of that. Some people have told me off for the pruning efforts too, like why (they whine at me)? Well because is usually the answer.

    The glass on the oven is not as clear as it once was. A bit of vinegar and some elbow grease will perhaps fix that side of the story? Maybe. And I recall that. 42 seconds is the max for butter in the microwave here. I kept pushing the limits until I discovered that they are unbending…

    Harassment! Very funny. I recognised intuitively that the young lady was practising. I didn’t begrudge her that because I saw she had to avoid heading into a dark place. I guess I’ve known a number of people over many years who had Aspie and they’re alright as they’re usually harmless which is not something that I would suggest about a lot of other more well balanced people.

    Oh yeah, it probably was an aesthetics tax. Never thought of it that way before. The story was the old bloke had a two story Victorian era mansion on the shore of a lake not too far from here. I met him by sheer chance one day and the editor and I got into talking with him because he used to have a wax museum setup in the house. The editor had indeed visited the museum as a kid. It was the second story that was required to be painted to avoid the tax. And given he was on the shore of a lake in a delightful setting, well the developers were out for blood. He had a sign on a gate that said: No Parking since 1850 and it was signed R.Sol. Not sure what he meant by that! But the place had changed around him and he was basically under siege.

    I’ve never seen 13 Monkeys. Is it a good film? Wasn’t it directed by one of the Monty Python folks?

    You are now miles ahead of me in the book. You’re a fast reader. I’m at the point where Geurdon recovers the errant Chancey from a nearby town. Chancey’s head is in the clouds.



  18. Hello again
    The phone call came again. One of my neighbours who has a huge acreage. He has received the same letter from the council and wanted to know whether I had ditto. He also asked whether I knew what had sparked this off. I acknowledged that I did and explained while naming no names.
    After a discussion with Son I had decided to do nothing at all about it. Am delighted that this neighbour agrees and will also do nothing.

    Stonehenge: I suppose too many people, too many vehicles, too many roads. Just one more thing that I avert my thoughts from.

    I have become very curious about leeks. I know that they are poisonous for dogs and cats, also that rats start eating them and then stop. Have heard that they may help to prevent bowl cancer!
    Have just cleared out the soil from where I grew leeks and shall put in potatoes. I noticed that there were no worms which seemed odd. Then I did spot worms but they were all dead. Fascinating and it does produce questions to which I can find no answers.

    We also had a TB sanatorium at Ventnor on the cliff facing South. I think that it is now the botanic gardens.


    @ Pam
    I am re-reading those Balogh books but can’t find no 5. No 6 is the one that I reckoned was less good; have now changed my mind on that. As you can see, I read at a rate of knots but do skip.
    These are just rubbish books really but good of their kind. Elizabeth Peters is a whole different ball game and way up the ladder especially once her son Rameses arrives.


  19. Yo, Chris – Hooray! for Mr. Ryan! All that slash laying around looks like a brush fire waiting to happen. A question called in parliament? Oh, my. “Improve the visitor’s experience” rings loud and clear as weasel words.

    Not so much a question of education, as of longevity. :-). See, now when you’re Officially Pushing Seventy, you’ll know all about the Barretts. I vaguely remember an old black and white movie called “The Barretts of Whimpole Street.” I think first it was a very popular play, and then a very popular movie. Hmmm. I wonder if there’s a copy of it, kicking around somewhere.

    I saw articles about the vegan protests, down in Australia. I almost watched their film, but it’s an hour long, and I’ve seen that kind of stuff, before. Animals ARE treated badly, in industrial meat production settings. They can be raised in better conditions (Joe Salatin) but, it costs more, given scale. Beyond the treatment of the animals is the whole impact of factory farming, on the land. See: manure ponds. (sometimes called manure lagoons.) And, when it floods, which it is now doing in the midwest … Around here, the dairy operations are pretty small. The larger of them add a bit of water to the manure and irrigate with the resulting slurry. Great for fertilizing pasture. Eye watering if you happen to be down wind. But that’s just for a few days a year, and, given the benefits, all round, I can put up with it.

    Lingual rabbit hole, indeed! :-). I think my favorite entry was a speculation that it was “wise guy slang.”

    Don’t think I’ve ever had a truffle. Shiitake mushrooms are about as exotic as my wallet will allow :-). I soaked the tender brussels sprouts stems and flowers in a bit of brine, to see if any beasties crawled out. Nope. Cut it up and sauteed it in a bit of butter with some mystery garlic/green onion spears, also diced. A handful of shelled sunflower seeds and a few additional spices. Threw the whole mess over warm rice. Turned out a bit on the mild side. Can’t say it had any kind of distinctive brussels sprout flavor, at all. But, tasty. If find that stirring butter into something warm works well, for melting. Also, I discovered if I put the butter in a small pyrex bowl, on the oven top as it’s heating up, it’s usually melted enough when it’s time to chuck it in a recipe.

    I caught the tail end of the BBS. IRC(?) was big, for awhile. I dabbled in that, a bit.

    I watched “Three Billboards”, last night. Better than I thought it would be. Great cast, all around.

    I’m half way through chapter 22, in “The Town.” Sometimes, people insist on doing something for other “people’s own good.” Irritates the heck out of me. I’m off to hunt and gather in the cheap food stores. There’s always a lot on offer, but finding quality is another matter. Lew

  20. The leaves are just gorgeous. That Japanese maple is a stunner. Can´t blame the tourists for wanting to get a look in.

    Our local government has decided to straighten a series of tight curves coming down a hill along the main county highway. It´s only a quarter of a mile/half a kilometer or so but is requiring a lot of heavy equipment and complete deforestation of the entire length of the project, both sides of the existing highway, which baffles me. And at a staggering cost, I imagine. Whereas, people could, of course, simply slow down and not spin off the road at that point, at no cost to anyone. High speeds and road rage seem to be on the increase everywhere.

    I love mystery novels, but never seem to get a half hour to read without having to intervene with the dogs. I discovered a channel with the BBC Midsomer Murders series which I enjoy. Not so much for the stories, but the absolutely lovely villages they find to film in.

  21. @ Inge:

    I just checked my library’s online catalogue. They have both Mary Balogh’s books and Elizabeth Peter’s books, quite a lot of them it appears. Now I just have to get down there. I am sharing my son’s car at the moment as a couple of days ago he was on his way to pick up another 1000 pound load of steel in the next county and Mr. Musty the Toyota said “No more” (this was his 4th load) and died in the middle of the country road. The rural towing company charged him $125 to tow it to our house, which is about double what one usually pays.


  22. Hi everyone!

    It is the dreaded mid-week hiatus, and also quite late at night. Will speak tomorrow… Bed time calls.

    Lewis – Went to see another comedy show tonight after working in the big smoke all day long. It was an excellent show and I enjoyed every moment of it: A comedian, a dog and a stick insect walk into a bar . I just got home very late and am yawning as it is now well past my bedtime. Even with the lost hour recovered from the daylight savings shift it is getting onto midnight.

    Mr Ryan is a top bloke by the way. His nursery is right next to the local cafe. Working that close to the hot cross buns would be a problem for me! Probably little work would get done. Until I looked up the article I had not realised that anybody else in the area was incensed by the wanton destruction.

    You were right too. Geurdon is alright. The author enjoys keeping all of his characters in trouble, that’s for sure.

    Sorry mate, I’ve got hit the sack. Me tired.

    Before I go, I had a memory today of a CV that once came across my desk. Believe it or not, the applicant confused the word “adept” and instead inserted the word “inept” in its place – thus proving their own argument! 🙂 I won’t mention the person who had naughty pictures printed on the other side of their CV either. The things I’ve seen. Bonkers.



  23. Hello again
    I laughed aloud at ‘inept’ instead of ‘adept. Which was a nice moment as I am seething with irritation. The courier company is incapable of delivering my re-placement passport. I made a phone call to the number given and was told that I would be passed to an advisor. This turned out to be automated and told me to e-mail before cutting me off. I am an old lady ‘what is an e-mail?. The delivery company letter told me that I might have to pay for the delivery when they came again and to have my debit/credit card handy. Dear, dear what are those? Happily the passport is not urgent.


  24. @ Pam
    If you don’t know of it already, the site ‘fantastic fiction’ is stunning for checking the order of book titles when writers have written a series. It is a stunning site anyhow.


  25. Yo, Chris – You’ve got stick insects on your place. Better start training them, now. If you ever decide to throw in the towel on the whole accounting thing, you’ll have a whole new career in entertainment! :-).

    Hunting and gathering cheap (but healthy) eats went well, yesterday. I even fund the now allusive (who knows why? Out of season?) long grain brown rice. One pound bags, but at .69 per … anything under $1 a pound is a buy. A few months ago you may remember that I was on a hunt for a childhood memory. Canned brown bread. None local and the cheapest I could find online was $8. I scored a couple of cans for .79. Camomile tea, dish soap. A quart of pumpkin ice cream! Still no joy when it comes to a good olive oil. The hunt continues …

    One of Kunstler’s commenters, mentioned a documentary, that’s on YouTube. “Seattle is Dying.” It’s got over 2 million hits. It’s an hour, but even the first 5 or 10 minutes and you’d get the gist. I didn’t realize things were so desperate, up there. To cut to the chase, the problem isn’t so much homelessness as addiction, of one form or another. The police have been pretty much rendered ineffective by SJWs. What I found really interesting is that a fellow started digging into the curt records and discovered that about 100 individuals created the bulk of “incidents.” From public acting out to shop lifting. Worth at least a brief look. Coming soon to a metro area near you. Lew

  26. Hi Chris,
    Very sorry to hear about your picnic area. How invasive were these exotics? It doesn’t sound like they were spreading much. Appears from the article you linked that no thought was put into the process. I was at some friends this weekend for a workshop about planting for beneficial insects. They practice permaculture similarly to the way you do. While they do primarily use native plants they are practical as well as far as useful non natives.

    Scritchy looks way too comfy. Is that Ollie I see waiting for his chance?

    Yah for plants that self seed!!

    I would not enjoy the tourists either.

    We had a span of several days of 60’s and low 70’s so took advantage of that to make some headway with the outside work. Now as I write this it’s snowing. At any rate I did get some garden beds prepared for planting the snow peas and greens as soon as weather improves in about a week. There is a deck off our bedroom that is surrounded with overgrown hostas. I’ve dug out about half now as I’ll use that area (and expand a bit) to grow peas and cucumbers up the railing with other plants in front of them. It appears that this is the sunniest area close to the house. The other sunny areas are quite some distance so I have the asparagus planted in the farthest bed and will try some winter squash there as well and then in a bed a bit closer I’ll plants tomatoes and zucchini. I’ve prepped another area next to the house for perennial herbs and will plant the annual herbs in pots that can be moved if needed. I don’t feel I will have a handle on this until we’re here an entire year.

    In other news we visited a kennel nearby that was recommended by a friend who is very into dogs. We are planning a 2 to 3 week road trip late October after the pigs are finished and need a place to board the dogs who have never been boarded before though they were each in shelters. Well the place was great!! The dogs passed inspection as well. The dogs go out in large yards with other dogs of similar size and personality for most of the day weather permitting. If the weather doesn’t allow all dogs get a block of time in one of the buildings set up for play. We’ve never gone on a mostly unplanned road trip before (and maybe never again) but it’s something I’ve always wanted to do once. We’ll be heading south and east. Watch out Pam we could end up at your door :).

    The new packages of bees are here and set up and pigs arrive on Saturday which is a bit earlier than usual due to the trip.

    There’s been wood ducks up in the trees with regularity the last week and many blue bird sightings. We’re keeping an eye on the nest boxes to see if any set up residence.


  27. Hi everyone,

    The mid-week hiatus continues. The recent loss of Sir Scruffy weighs a little bit upon me, and you know, time and all that stuff, and healing and something or other. But life goes on, and tomorrow there is plenty of time to reply to all of your lovely comments.

    Inge – Glad you enjoyed the laugh – and for the record, the applicant had zero chance of getting an interview. It would be like hiring Frank Spencer from Some mothers do ‘ave ’em. And then claiming: I never thought that it would end up like this, to which the applicant would reply: But I told you… 🙂 Many years ago I was replaced by a person who came with a reference that mentioned that they had troubles completing tasks. Needless to say I was contacted by the business with a request for assistance, which I gracefully provided…

    Lewis – Things are rarely what they seem. I read today that the authorities intend to do some back burns in this mountain range – which I approve of, as it has been far too long since the last burn (1983 in some parts of the range). Anyway, I was wondering whether the back burns and smoke would coincide with leaf change tourism? Not sure, but it might be close. Another three weeks and I should be able to conduct burns myself.

    It is funny that you mention the vegan film, because the interviewee on the radio news program was also urging folks to “just” watch the film. I have a fair idea what goes on in such places already. I’d be interested in your perspective on the matter, but I sort of suspect that the economics of the situation (i.e. cheap product) trumps the ethics of the situation. Dunno.

    Yeah, the manure ponds and lagoons were quite the problem in the floods last year in the South East of your country – especially in relation to the piggeries. Incidentally, the local sewage treatment plants here for the nearby towns work on a similar basis but are additionally aerated rather than being settling ponds (a cheaper option). And they’re located next to creeks. When there are serious downpours, I can’t help but think that the untreated sewage floods into the creeks, river systems, and ultimately Port Phillip Bay and the ocean. It would probably be better to dry the stuff and then re-apply it to the land, but sewage these days is not what it once was. Mind you, a lot of the materials work their way back onto the land, but if the losses in minerals exceed the gains, then the society that cooked up the system is on a one way trip down the toilet. Frank Meyer noted the Chinese use of sewage as a fertiliser in the plant explorer book, but I’ll bet they don’t follow such practices nowadays.

    You can almost hear the words “wise guy” being spoken with a Brooklyn accent. 😉 I’ll bet a few people heard those words spoken to them in their final act of communication with other humans, way back in those heady days?

    Truffles are a thing for the very wealthy. Almost a decade ago, the editor and I went to a truffle day held by the local agricultural society and we ended up at a pub not too far from here where they served foods infused with truffles. I reckon it is an acquired taste, truffle infused oil is quite affordable and that can work well as a mushroom based pasta sauce. Oh yeah, they were spruiking sales of the inoculated trees, but in this mountain range, the soils are just too acidic from my understanding of the matter. I could well be wrong, but truffle farms in this part of the world have to apply a lot of lime.

    Butter in rice is a very tasty addition! Yum! Your recipe sounds similar to rice pilaf, which is exceptionally tasty.

    There is a blast from the past! IRC, I’d forgotten that system. I dabbled a bit in IRC too way back in the day, but the front end programs used to annoy me by notifying other users of my connection to the interweb. I like my quiet time a bit too much for that particular system, which worked really well. Conversations in text did tend to fall away after a while using that system, but I suspect that people aren’t really good at seeing conversation threads. No doubt it is the core of things like Twitter (which I don’t use).

    Was I mistaken in believing that the film was a dark comedy? Some aspects were taken to extremes, and throwing the young bloke out the window was a bit far fetched.

    Oook! You are miles ahead of me with the book. I’m at the chapter were the local grandees have convinced Sayward to sell off the lower parts of her land to site the canal basin. And Portious survives the plague, Geurdon has disappeared for obvious reasons, and the darker sides of the noble Portious’s personality are getting aired out in public.

    How did the hunting and gathering go? I won’t mention the tasty hot cross buns I consumed earlier today.

    Hehe! The stick insect that the lady had brought along for the show was huge, and surprisingly girthy compared to the stick insects that are around here.

    Thanks for mentioning the film and I’ll check it out tomorrow evening when all things being well, time shall be in abundance! The comments there are usually of considerable interest.



  28. @ Inge:

    I do have email. I have a credit card for emergencies or travel, but I don’t have a debit card. My son orders stuff online for me as I have been too lazy to set up a separate bank account from our main one dedicated to online use to keep a small amount of funds in. I would not want any entity to have access to our main account, including letting any company make automatic withdrawals to pay itself. I have heard so many horror stories; they are endless. In fact, a company that my husband is a partner in just recently had a vendor automatically withdraw payment 3 times and for almost a week that money was not available for use.

    All this rant is because I can’t think of what you might do in the Case of the Missing Passport. I doubt, if you have to pay a courier, that they would take cash or check. And passports are a security issue, so I doubt anyone else could pick it up for you.

    I rather figured that even Elizabeth Peters – lover of things Egyptian that she was – would not dare name her own son “Ramses”.


  29. Yo, Chris – Well, that’s one way to deal with the leaf peppers. Smoke ’em out!

    I didn’t watch the vegan film. Having seen same/same in the past. Oh, yes. When it comes to factory farming, economics trumps ethics, in a lot of areas. Besides the treatment of the animals, up to and including the slaughter house, there’s the treatment of the employees. Mostly, these days, low paid immigrant labor. Chains (to hang the animals) and conveyor belts run from one end to the other. They can be speeded up. There’s some question as to how dead are the animals at certain points in the process. Floors are slick, knives are sharp, machinery is “grabby.” Repetitive stress injury is common. Meat inspection can be pretty sketchy or dodgy. That’s why we’re always having outbreaks of meat related disease. Though some of that can be marked down to poor handling and preparation, after the “product” leaves the slaughterhouse. All that I know. So, I don’t have to watch another hour film. Now, the “Seattle Is Dying” film? I did learn a few things I didn’t know. :-).

    Kind of related to a later discussion point is fertilizer on the land, or in the water. And why it’s maybe not such a good idea, these days. Factory farm animals are heavily dosed with antibiotics and other chemicals. A lot of those don’t break down, and are passed right through to the environment. And, it’s not only the animals, but also us. See: endocrine disruptors. All that can either come from medicines, or, some manufacturing processes.

    But, onto more pleasant subjects. I wanted to go into more detail about the mystery chive/garlic. Last year I mentioned (but won’t hold you responsible for remembering. I didn’t say there’d be a pop quiz :-). what looked like a chive, growing in another bed. No one seemed to know anything about it. Round leaves and it threw a small purple, pom-pom like flower. Which dried and had hundreds of small bulblets. That when bit, had an explosion of garlic like flavor. Well. I wanted more of those. The bulblets, being so small, I planted them in peat pots, I sunk in the ground. So I could keep track of them.
    Well, they’re up. Boy, are they up. They have no visual relationship to the parent plant. A foot and a half tall with flat leaves. Like a garlic. But, the master gardener said, not a garlic, because no bulb. So, still a mystery. At lease, a mild tasting mystery. Like the ongoing brussels sprouts, if it’s green, tasty and won’t kill me, I’ll eat it. I don’t get enough greens, as it is. Working on that.

    I really don’t remember why IRC lost it’s luster, for me. I think it was kind of cool, initially, as a phone party line is kind of cool. But after awhile, the anonymity of other users, and, lack of privacy became a drawback. Also, they were early battle grounds of the flame wars. :-).

    Yup. I’d say “dark comedy” covers “Three Billboards.” The base theme seems to be, don’t mess with mama. The basic story didn’t attract me, but the cast lured me in. And, luckily, it turned out worth the trip. Turns out my friend Scott, and his wife, didn’t like Aquaman, at all. Which I quit liked. But then, this is the guy who thinks blueberries taste like dirt, so, his taste is probably suspect in lots of areas. Besides, has Nicole Kidman ever looked better? :-).

    The performing stick insect probably gets pretty good tucker, at the zoo.

    I launched myself into a newish documentary, last night. “Civilizations.” Multi episodes, multi discs. Quit good. Besides, it’s got one of my favorite Ye Olde Eccentric British Academic, Prof. Mary Beard. She wrote several of the episodes and is one of the presenters.

    As I mentioned before, the hunting and gathering went well. I went back again yesterday, and picked up another 10, one pound packages of plain, long grain brown rice. So, now I have 20 pounds in the freezer. At least in the one pound packs, they’re easy to tuck in in the odd spots in the freezer.

    Another of the Ladies was hauled out, yesterday. Reached for her walker, hit the floor, broke several bones. She had been talking about moving to assisted living, anyway. Well, that’s where she’s headed now, for at least 4 or 5 months. Lew

  30. Hi Chris,

    Sorry to hear about the council guided destruction of a nice picnic spot. Someone, somewhere, was just “doing their job” when that decision was made. Sigh. Last night I was witness to a presentation on a harbour redevelopment here in Auckland. The main purpose being an “upgrade” of harbour facilities to host the Americas Cup yacht race in a year or two. I knew I was in for a treat when the first slide on the big screen was an org-chart. There was lots of important sounding titles, steering commitees, arrows helpfully interconnecting disparate government agencies, yet for all that information I could not discern who was actually responsible for the project. Funny that! As we left I said to my friend it seems some rich yacht owners have hoodwinked a country into paying for their little regatta race in a couple of years.

    I heard a rumour you might get to cast a vote in the near future. Always important to have your say on what song the Titanic band should be playing 🙂 Last time Aus had an election I cast my vote in the Australian Embassy in Laos. I am not even sure what electorate I am in now, how does one decide when you don’t live there I wonder?

    In a cruel twist of fate, nature has taken us from consistent 25-26 degree days to 18-19, thus throwing my sake production into a tailspin. I now look longingly at thermostat controlled yoghurt makers… I have left the rice be anyhow – the yeast will still go but very slowly I guess..?


  31. Hi Lew,

    I decided against the book restoration. You were right, it didn’t make any sort of sense and the books are nice, but not worth sprucing up for $400! Maybe I will take a crack one day.

    In related news, a neighbor was giving (giving!) away a nice timber bookshelf. It is now looking very smart in my study with freshly organised books placed on its 3 shelves. This frees up crucial space on the dining and living room bookshelves for more finds (we were starting to have books stacked on the floor – a difficult sight to bear!).

    I picked up a mint condition hardcover of The Sea Wolf by Jack London for $1 the other day. No idea if it is a good story or not, but the blurb on the inside cover sounded fun and the name is familiar. Finds like that make it hard for Mrs Damo and I to keep our book collection within the limits of our book storage capabilities. There is also the distressing thought, that at a certain point, you will own more books than there is time left to read. How can I justify re-reading some James Clavell in such a scenario? Will I ever finally get around to starting that Kurt Vonnegut? I will leave that for the philosophers.

    Started reading The SkyStone this week. Enjoying it so far, although I have to stop myself checking out historical characters backstories on wikipedia as I read it (a common problem with historical fiction).

    I heard Shazam is pretty good (better than Aquaman is bandied about). I am not sure I will make it to a cinema to watch it, but will check it out later on. Three Billboards was fun, in a dark story kind of way. I also watched Liam Neesons latest – Cold Pursuit, earlier in the year. A very coen brothers-esque movie. Worth watching!


  32. Hi Pam,

    The exploding squash was entirely unexpected, and the outdoor electric oven now looks squeaky clean after a fair bit of elbow grease. 🙂 I’ve heard of people putting tennis balls into microwave ovens, so I guess it was a bit of the same sort of thing. Live and learn and all that stuff. 😉 Cutting them in half was probably the next step in our thinking – which we clearly had not made. Yes, the squash has extraordinarily tough skin and so it probably would have survived the winter intact. I was surprised at how tough the skin actually was and had never encountered a squash quite like it before. I won’t mention that at first I believed that it was a watermelon because it was so shaped…

    I can see the same thing happening with a thick skinned potato. What a mess. It is like butter pats exploding in the microwave… I’ve got that trick down to 42 seconds in there and no longer, or rue the consequences which inevitably involves a lengthy cleaning process.

    I’m already part of a union, but I must confess that the professional body that represents our interests has sort of lost its way, and I do wonder who’s interests that they are looking after? Fortunately the membership fees appear to be rather excessive but I’m consoled that the board member’s salaries look like more than I would expect to earn in an entire lifespan – and that is reassuring to me. I can’t quite figure out that story, but maybe that is just me and I’m not smart enough to get it? Dunno.

    The tram was a real delight to see and hear. It would be the truly insensitive person who was unaware of the blaring Hindi music and assault on the senses hurtling down the tracks of Melbourne. Good times. Last century, we travelled to India (although the tram was fitted out in Pakistan, and dare I mention the similarities of the at odds cultures) and after a while I sort of got used to hearing the ever present Hindi music as part of the colourful backdrop. The ever present press of humanity was tiresome for me though. But I loved the markets there with all of the sights, sounds and aromas. The spice dealers were of particular interest to me.

    It was a stunning view in your part of the world. Awe inspiring.

    I could loan you some wallabies, on a trial basis of course. You might enjoy their antics as they teach us slow witted humans how to keep the forest under story open. 🙂 Mind you, there are times that I get mighty annoyed at ‘Stumpy’ the happy and well fed house wallaby because he ripped into a favourite fruit tree and then decided that he didn’t enjoy the taste after all.

    Yes, no doubts about it at all. The old site of the Sanatorium is not a place that anyone would want to spend time of a winters evening. The temperature would be pushing near freezing, the trees would crack and groan as their sugars freeze, the stars would be crisp and clear and milky way would be much more easily observed now they’ve cut down so many weeds, and the ghosts of the sanatorium past would rattle their chains and demand a moments or maybe a bit more than that, penance from the living.

    Incidentally, useful quantities of boron can be found in cardboard boxes and they are easily converted into garden additives. We muck around and have a joke and all, but I am very impressed at the knowledge that you display regarding your soils.



  33. Hi Inge,

    In a truly weird synchronicity, at one time down here, maybe about seven years ago, the local council did much the same thing and visited the various houses on the street to talk about firewood harvesting. The zoning has ‘as of rights’ with firewood harvesting and use – although it can’t be sold and must be used for personal use only. Now, it was a waste of time and resources, because it is probably a serious under estimation to suggest that I have about 10,000 trees on the property. They grow about 1m per year. There is no way shape or form that I could use 10,000 lineal metres (that’s 33,000 lineal feet!) of firewood per year. Their concerns are bonkers, and I doubt very much that the employees at the local council have such an intimate knowledge and connection to the fuel / energy sources that they heat their houses with during the winters. You know, the sort of orders that you have just experienced are an ideological concern that makes people in authority feel good, but you know, I suspect that the easy outcomes for them are just not to be had. But then the authorities can point to paperwork and say that: “we’re taking a hard line”, and feel good about that. It is bonkers. Best not to name names, and instead just go about your life quietly and hope for the best, but expect the worst. Doing nothing is always a valid approach and one I use myself.

    Fair enough, the Stonehenge debate was a fraught topic. I was fascinated to read that the remains of a Woodhenge had been discovered nearby, and clearly the area is one that great respect is applicable towards. I read all of the arguments and they all appeared to be valid, although I was dismayed at the entry price. That price would punch a hole in many a budget.

    Yes, I avoid deliberately feeding onions to the dogs, although from time to time they have consumed such fare in small quantities. As a related observation, garlic was often grown in the long distant past around fruit trees as a soil fumigant, and anywhere I’ve grown garlic the soil really is rather aromatic with the redolent smell of garlic. The chemical oozed is apparently not good for nematodes, so I sort of feel that worms are at a disadvantage too. What do you reckon about that?

    I wonder if any of the older trees from the Ventnor botanic gardens date back to those days? I was dismayed to read of the loss of a century old rhododendron up in the picnic ground because it had survived the 1983 Ash Wednesday bushfires and was clearly a real survivor. Many years ago I stumbled upon the rhododendron in an out of the way spot up there and was really impressed at the plants ability to survive and thrive. Oh well.

    Getting couriers to deliver items to this remote spot is a real nightmare at the best of times. Australia Post refuses to deliver to this street address because of its remoteness, and people don’t believe me sometimes that that is the case when I tell them that you can’t post anything to the street address. But the worst of the lot are government agencies that will not post to a Post Office Box address – just because. I hear you.



  34. Hi Coco,

    Thank you and yes, I don’t individually blame the tourists at all. It is the sheer numbers of people that the area just can’t readily accommodate. One evening a few weeks back I went to the local pub at the end of a weekend for a feed only to discover that they’d completely run out of a number of items on the menu – and the staff looked liked they’d been smashed by the volume of people. I have no real idea what to make of it all, and it is possible that I spend far too much time up in the pleasantness and quiet of the forest. Dunno.

    Road rage is I reckon an expression of population pressure, but I also feel that it may be due to promoting individuals needs over that of the collective needs, and that is a cultural thing. I see it down here too and last week some grumpy older bloke wanted a punch on with me from the inside of his large SUV, because he went through a red light. Not a wise move on his part, but that is the world we live in.

    Hehe! Good luck with Briga and Breogan, and may you thwart their gardening ambitions! Hehe!



  35. Hi Margaret,

    The exotics hadn’t extended their area beyond the picnic ground. The strange thing is that it is the pines that are able to compete with the chemical warfare of the Eucalyptus forest, but they were somehow ignored in the clearing and left standing. I can’t honestly understand what it was all about, but I’m glad to know that I wasn’t the only person up this way scratching their head about it all.

    Yeah, that is certainly one of the criticisms of Permaculture that’s for sure (that exotic plants are used). Whenever I hear such talk, I generally make inquiries as to the diet of the person making the claims, and inevitably they have no idea where the plants that they last consumed originated from. I sort of use it as a point to discuss plants rather than a point scoring thing. The shock of the question allows for a brief window to discuss such things as they generally sacred cows down here – and maybe up in your part of the world too? Anyway, there is no upside to winning that argument, but opening a line of dialogue regarding plants is a useful thing as so few people have any idea at all.

    You have both keen eyes and a sharp mind! Yes, absolutely, Ollie is jealous of Scritchy’s perquisites. For all intent’s and purposes, he is the boss dog, but he hasn’t quite cottoned on to the fact that to be the boss dog, he has to be the boss dog. He’ll get there, and I have high hopes for that Ollie dog. He’s an interesting breed of dog and I recently discovered his actual crossing and it sure makes for interesting reading.

    Volunteer plants are the best! Sometimes nature just likes to show us who is the boss with this plant business. I appear to have messed up the soil additive for the winter vegetables and the germination rate has been very low. I used mushroom compost, and it maybe that it was not composted enough. Oh well.

    I feel sorry for the folks working in the local cafe and pub that are confronted by the tourists. It would be a draining experience for them and I hope they get some time off work to recover.

    Oh my, more snow for you! Exactly, it takes a lot of time to get your head around where the sun moves during the seasons on a new property. I’m still learning what that means down here as today there is more green in the shady orchard than in the more exposed sunny orchard – yet the trees grow quicker in the full sun, but are less resilient to hot and dry weather. And working out how far you’re willing to travel from the house to harvest edible plants is not as easy a question to answer as it first appears to be. And importantly, can you modify the amount of shade?

    Good for you and that sounds great! The dog kennel sounds like canine holiday paradise to me, I’ll bet Salve and Leo will love it. 🙂

    Oh no, the snow and the new bees would have been difficult for Doug. Ouch, but glad to read that it is now done (during the brief respite) and I hope the bees settle in for a productive season.

    We get wood ducks here, but they spend too much time on the ground with their chicks where they are vulnerable to predators. I recall a few years back when a pair nested in a tree with a nice hollow – unfortunately the tree fell over after the ants took their ant like business too far. I found piles of feathers where I guess the foxes took them out. It is a brutal old world in the forest.

    Your bluebirds are stunningly beautiful, and I hope that some nest in the boxes that have been thoughtfully placed on your property.



  36. Chris:

    I don’t suppose that this could happen with mushroom compost, but I once had a neighbor who used straw as a mulch, which turned out to have herbicide in it and it killed their plants.


  37. Chris:

    Might we call your accountants’ union a guild? I rather suspect not, as I also suspect that you may not be getting a whole lot for the fee that you pay. Is it mandatory, as in keeping out those people who might have a worthy understanding of accounting, but don’t want to pay the fee, which probably largely exists to give the board members – who we will assume are retired accountants – an income source now that they no longer have jobs doing actual work?

    Thanks for the boron idea. I can do that! My knowledge of our soil IS a joke.

    As far as I know, we could sell our firewood if we want. We just give it away occasionally when friends need some. My son will eventually sell some of these boards that he makes, though that is from wood off-property. Which means that other people might be selling fallen/felled trees or logs off of their property . . . So far, my son has found it easy to find people who will let him come in at no charge to get the fallen trees off of their land. A win-win situation.

    I think I mentioned to Inge that Mr. Musty the Toyota pick-up recently dropped dead in the middle of a country road and had to be towed home. The parts that need to be sorted are way down in the engine, so my son built a hoist to haul the whole motor out. It is a thing of beauty, and it works! The hoist is built as a tripod from three 4 in. x 4 in. x 12 ft. wooden timbers, with a pulley contraption using heavy chains. Mr. Musty is sitting on gravel in the driveway (well, he is partly on the front lawn as it is very flat; my son says that this does not prove that we are hillbillies) and when holes were dug to be sure the tripod would stay securely put it was found that the gravel is 4 in. deep at that point. And we haven’t added any gravel to that driveway in 20 years, except to fill a few holes.


  38. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, my head spins when I consider the unlikely strategies that are being implemented. It is quite impressive really. I noticed to the west of here there were some planned burns today as a thick plume of smoke was visible. Phew, just checked and it is actually a planned burn of about 1,000 acres. They’ve got good weather for it – cool and not a breath of wind.

    I’ve seen the factory farming stories too and I doubt there is much for me to learn there, so yeah, I did not watch it either. The thing is such practices are lawful, but given the huge inputs and outputs required to keep them going, it is just a blip in time and will eventually go the way of the dodos. Of course that thought doesn’t make it any easier on the animals or people that have to work in such places.

    I intend to watch the: Seattle is dying, film after replying tonight! 🙂 Well that is the plan anyway.

    It is funny you mention that about the fertilisers, herbicides, vermicides and antibiotics, but I applied a good dose of mushroom compost to the vegetable beds a few weeks back. And germination rates for the winter vegetables has been slow to almost non-existent. And I discovered a patch that I missed applying the manure too, and the seedlings had germinated. Oh well, time will sort that problem out too. It is a bit of a nuisance though and I plan to do something about it tomorrow and maybe top dress the beds with a different material. What can I say, we live on a poisoned planet, and these things happen. It takes a year or two for the soil to correct itself, but what is done is done and I hope I haven’t lost the timing to get the winter vegetables established in time.

    Please don’t test my memory in such detail! Hehe! Small bulblets sounds a bit like a bunching onion to me. I grow them here and they are very reliable and the bulbs spread outwards from a central area, and they do taste like garlic but look like chives. Incidentally, the leeks I grow taste a lot like garlic.

    Have you ever noticed how the soil near to where you plant garlic, also smells of garlic? I reckon there is some sort of plant chemical warfare going on there. I read long ago that the old timers used to plant garlic around fruit trees as it killed off nematode activity which feasted upon the roots of the fruit trees, but you don’t see that sort of thing happening much these days.

    The other day I read an article suggesting that a long lifespan was associated with consumption of greens, fruit and whole grains, so I reckon you might be onto something with the greens. All worthy additions to your diet. There ain’t nothing wrong at all with Brussels sprout flowers and leaves and I can’t see why they might be bad for you. In harvesting, I eat plenty of rocket flowers which just get added into the salad mix. But if you learn that they’re toxic as, please don’t hesitate to say something! 🙂

    In parts of the world with cold winters like yours, sprouts are probably the way to go to get the benefits of greens over winter. The downside is that sprouts takes a huge amount of seed stock. Epic amounts.

    The privacy thing was a problem for me with IRC, and I had friends pestering me at work – and I was also guilty of pestering them at work. So usage sort of dropped off the radar after the initial burst of enthusiasm. It sounds like your story with the technology.

    Mama in that film is one badass! On other hand the protagonist had had a rough time of it, so a certain amount of mental imbalance was definitely in order. How good was Woody checkmating her though? Go Woody, although things didn’t work out too well for him either. I saw a note in the local area about a talk in relation to assisted dying. I felt that I was not in the demographic that the note was intended for, well not that I’m aware of. Honestly, I wasn’t into the film story either, but the cast made the best of the story. There was a saying a while back that suggested: “Don’t get mad, get even”. The film turned that idea on its head and suggested: “Get mad and get even”. I’m not sure what that suggests about the cultures desire for revenge trumping justice which is a fickle and relative beast that is hard to pin down. Do you reckon I’m off the mark with that understanding?

    Nicole Kidman is in a new film which was released recently – it looks gritty.

    Did you know that the stick insects down here consume Eucalyptus leaves? Other than Koala’s I bhad elieved that not much else ate the leaves.

    Documentaries require an eccentric Ye Olde Eccentric British Academic! Did you just slip in a documentary recommendation? Hehe! I’m yet to watch Seattle dying. I hope they have some Nirvana music as a backdrop as that would add something to the story for me.

    Out of curiosity, we don’t store rice in the freezer or refrigerator. I just keep it in the bag in a dark cupboard and it stays perfect. Was the rice prepared in any way? I’m always curious about food preserving methods used in your part of the world because of the contrast.

    Yeah, falling and broken bones is not a good sign at all. Best wishes to her for a speedy recovery.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    I got to watch about half of the documentary before bed. I’m unsure what all of the participants in the great endeavour expected to happen. There was a heck of a lot of background inequality, and basically the folks on the street have nowhere to go and no opportunities and no way to get out of the situation. Going easy on them is a cheap option. Sun Tzu advises never to back an opponent into a corner. I’ll cogitate upon it further. Incidentally I have heard that many third world diseases are rife in such camps. I’ve seen such places in other parts of the world.



  40. Hello again
    I don’t grow onions or garlic, Son does, so I don’t know what they do to worms. Son says that a dog of his, eons ago, got hold of masses of garlic and ate the lot. The dog suffered no ill effects at all other than horrendous breath.
    I also keep rice in a jar in a dark cupboard.


  41. @ Damo – Yeah, book repair can get pretty pricey and complicated. I’ve poked into it, a bit, over the years. There’s some minor stuff I can do, but mostly just to not very valuable things to begin with. And, like furniture refinishing in repair, there’s a world of difference between “on order” and “on spec.” What I mean by that is, you might take on a job of repair for someone, and it never quit lives up to what they were expecting. If I picked up a piece of furniture and repaired it, on spec, I could do with it as I wanted, throw it on the sales floor, and the customer could buy it … or not.

    We had a couple here in town who trained as book repair and restorers. Paid good money to learn the skills. As an adjunct to their used book business. Well, eventually, he shifted all the book repair work onto her. And, at one point, he took in one too many family bibles (which seemed to be the bulk of their business in these parts) and she pretty much went over the edge. They’re divorced, now.

    Free is a great price to pay for a nice book case! Book cases are one of those things that, when you need one, they’re either not to be found, or, cost a lot of money. It’s kind of like our commercial coffee maker at the Club, may be approaching the end of it’s life. At this time, replacing it, even with a used unit is pretty pricey. I suggested that now is the time to have many eyes looking for a replacement, at a low cost, and moth ball it for future need. Cafes and small restaurants are going out of business, all the time. But getting that time to coincide with need can be dicey.

    Beware the dreaded bibliophilia or bibliomania. :-). By now, there’s probably a pill for that. There are whole books written on those topics. Usually, cautionary tales, that are quit entertaining.

    I know what you mean by reading historic fiction and then taking a deep dive into Wikipedia. I recently watched “The Favorite” and wanted to check out what was slanted for dramatic effect, and what was more true. At least near as we can tell. Keeping in mind everyone seems to have an agenda.

    LOL. I’m at that point. It’s beginning to sink in that there are books I’ll never get around to reading (or, re-reading) and series I’ll never finish. So it goes. In the vast scheme of things, lots of sound and fury, signifying, not very much :-). Lew

  42. Yo, Chris – I had an odd thought. Sometimes, the travel permits of more repressive regimes, make a bit of sense :-).

    Hmmm. Mushroom compost and slow germination. Seems to be a bit of a mystery, there. You had mentioned garlic to someone else, today, which got me thinking about it. And, then, brought it up in your reply. My speculations and observations. I’ve got a lot of garlic packed in my smaller bed. It’s a raised bed, and, being closer to the nose, I do notice a decided odor of garlic when I’m mucking around. What I’ve noticed is that the soil in that bed just isn’t quit the same as the other beds. It doesn’t strike me as being as fertile. Not as fluffy. Packs down, easier. Stuff added doesn’t seem to break down as fast? There are worms about, but, maybe not as many as the other beds?

    So what grows and what doesn’t? Tomatoes and tomatillo bang along. Ditto, horseradish. I had two squash vines in there, there were plenty of blossoms and pollinators, but only produced one squash (an heirloom Hubbard). Peas and sweet basil were a complete wash out. I have a few miniature iris, tucked here and there, and they seem to do fine. Also, volunteer pansy. I think I’ll poke around a bit in my companion planting books, and see what they have to say about garlic and …….

    I always like to do a bit of checking, before chowing down on greens. There’s always the cautionary tale of rhubarb :-). I must say the sprout greens are more palatable than kale. Not as fibrous. Milder flavor.

    Well, one can hope revenge and justice can go hand in hand. Which is not always a sure thing. I’m more a kick back and let poetic justice kick in, kind of guy. Though the waiting can be a bit wearing. When I observe that “someone will come to a bad end”, that’s not a threat. It’s just a observation that more times than not, it’s the way things shake out.

    Well, when it comes to documentary recommendations, it’s a balance of interest vs time, leavened with personal taste. You’ve got to pick your battles, given the amount of “stuff” out there.

    When I went to the Club, yesterday, Susan was working the counter. She had also seen the documentary, and, has her finger a bit in our local homeless situation. We have vast tracts of hills to the east of our two towns. Foothills of the Cascade range. If one looks, there are always clearly homeless people, living rough, coming and going out of the woods. I’m sure there are encampments, back there.

    But given the lower tolerance of our law enforcement, as compared to what I understand about Seattle, the homeless seem to keep a lower profile, here. There are also some local city pandering laws that have been put in place. Given that we’re small and out of the way, they haven’t been challenged.

    A couple of interesting factoids to throw into the mix. About 85% of our county budget goes to one kind of law enforcement, or another. Officers, jails, courts. I find that rather startling. The other interesting thing that Susan had to say was that our county government undercounts the homeless. Therefore, they don’t have to spend as much money on “the problem.”

    So. Where do I stand on all this? I’m probably, given my history, a bit more hard nosed than people assume. Sure. People fall on hard times. But people also make choices (I’ve made some real lu-lus) and, good or bad, you’ve got to live with the consequences. I’ve seen plenty of people make bad choices, and claw their way back from nothing. There is no try, only do, or not do. Which has been running through my head lately. Who knows why?

    I try and keep my rice and oatmeal in the freezer, or at least refrigerated, as I’ve had problems in the past. With insects. Storing in cold conditions is just one less thing to worry about. :-). I caught three ear wigs at my mason bees, last night. Set up the first trap. Disposed of it, this morning. Didn’t poke about in it to see how effective it was. There were slugs.

    Yup. Third world diseases are making a come back. An even more interesting search is “medieval diseases making a come back.” Just to add a little spice to your browsing. Lew

  43. Chris,

    Sorry to hear that you’re still reeling from the loss of Sir Scruffy. Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz was our last dog. It has been almost 8 years since we had to put her down. I still miss her. And, well, all of them, really. There are still times that I get teary eyed about one or another of them.

    This has been an intense week. In addition to the expected family issues ( our aunt did die, and then my wife’s caregiving duties), the job got VERY intense. It’s my busiest season there, and I now have a very capable assistant who is taking a huge share of the load. But the office politics got to the point where I have been very *edgy*. I regularly write messages on an erasable board that my coworkers view and enjoy. The current message is “This space intentionally left blank, in hopes that it will not offend anybody”. Yes, gallows humor.

    I now have about 22 months and I retire from there. So, I made what I call “Morale Improvement Chart”, which is basically a countdown by month of my time left. I’m also gathering words to add to a new message for the erasable board: “Approved Anger Vocabulary”, which will include such nasty words as Shostakovich, Fussbudget, Fudgesickle and H R Puffenstuff. Somebody is sure to get offended.

    Having an assistant is allowing me to work on several things that I normally can’t touch during the busy season. I wear about 500 hats at the job. I lifted the 500 hats idea from the Dr. Seuss book , “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins”.

    As is typical for our changing weather, we got nearly the average amount of April rain in 4 days – about 2.75 cm. That, combined with the melting snow from higher elevations, has pretty much wreaked havoc on the rural roads. Many of the gravel roads have had the bottom fall out of them at places, making them more of a bog than a road.

    That’s a wonderful spot Scritchy found in that bean bag. It looks toasty and comfortable – perfect for a chilly day.


  44. Hello again
    If I go silent, it is because family are arriving. 3 from Australia for 2 weeks and 4 from the US for a few days. Not staying with me as I don’t have room for anyone but within short walking distance. I shall be talked out.


  45. Hi Pam,

    Ook! You know I’ve long since suspected that there would be glyphosate in much of the composted woody mulch I bring back. It originates from green waste collections in the big smoke – and people love their sprays. Incidentally, and I’d be curious as to your experience on this matter, but I reckon it takes about three years of repeated applications of mulches and composts to get quality soil started which can grow resilient plants. And I suspect that all of the chemicals used in the source product is part of the reason that it takes so many years, but I don’t really know what is going on other than the time taken is fairly consistent. It took far longer again where Eucalyptus trees once grew as they drop germination inhibitors and volatile oils.



  46. Hi Inge,

    Hehe! Fair enough about the onions and garlic and I don’t plant much of those species either. Although on the next terrace which has yet to be excavated, I’m hoping to set aside an area for growing brown onions, which are a variety of onion that I’m quite fond of. They have a very mild taste for an onion.

    I was looking at the terrace today and wondering how soon it will be before we can start digging. The soil is still too dry, so that is the limiting factor with that job. Oh, I was up there to harvest all of the pumpkins.

    Dogs are hardy, and your story reminded me of a dog that was being starved by its mate (a long sad story of an abuse of trust by a boss dog) and he ate an entire rhubarb plant and suffered no ill effects. Anyway, the boss dog was eating his mates dinner – and nowadays I keep a sharp eye on what goes on with the dogs feeding and ensure that they all get fed what they need.

    I rarely freeze anything as a food preservation technique and the contrast is always fascinating.

    All the best with the guests and I hope you all have a lovely time. 🙂



  47. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for understanding. I still keep expecting to see Sir Scruffy rounding the corner, chewing upon a bone he’d dragged out of somewhere or other, and/or happily snoring away on his blanket, and it is always a bit of a shock to recall that he is now gone. You ended your canine adventures on a high with that particular breed of dog. Are you ever considering replacing Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz?

    Sorry to hear about the loss of your aunt, may she rest in peace. Such times, tends to magnify the feelings of intensity and a person has to take it easy on themselves and cut themselves some slack.

    You know you do live in the land of the professionally offended! I don’t really see such things going on in the culture down here, mostly because we’re busy hustling – but it is on the radar of the media that’s for sure, you just don’t see it playing out in day to day life. The thing is, I often wonder what people win if they somehow manage to prove that they are more offended by something than any other person. You have to admit that it is an impressive achievement to reach such great heights of offendedness (is that actually a word?)

    Funny! 22 months can be a long time, so remember to keep a cool tool! 🙂 I was quite partial to the show HR Puffenstuff, and as a kid I had no idea of the subtext and just enjoyed the silly goings on of all of the adults in the show. I’ll bet they had fun making the show.

    I loved the Dr Seuss books and read as many as I could get my hands upon. Hey, don’t we all wear 500 hats? We’re in the process of finalising things around the property before winter sets in. I’m a bit worried because we’ve never been quite so organised and on top of things before. No doubts I’ve just put the kiss of death on us…

    Enjoy your rain, it is possible that it can disappear at a moments notice and without warning… 😉

    Scritchy is enjoying the toastiness in front of the wood heater tonight. I reckon she is about 18 years old and I have my doubts that she’ll make it through the winter. But of all the dogs here, she has had a very good and long life and was promoted far beyond her competency level. Don’t think that I’m disparaging her either, because she does what she can with what she’s got and that is OK by me.



  48. Hi Damo,

    I’m unsure the local council has the resources to do such an act. I believe that the finger can be pointed at an edict from the state government for the decision. I have no idea what they were thinking, but it kept more than a few people working for many weeks. Shame that the authorities don’t understand that the whole lot will happily grow back in time. It just won’t ever look the same again in my lifetime. The trees will win in the end, you know!!!

    How did Auckland get the America’s cup? I still recall a possibly very drunk Prime Minister urging his fellow citizens to take the day off after we won the America’s cup. Bob Hawke’s advice for bosses after Australia’s America’s Cup win. They don’t make politicians like that anymore. But was it raced down under after the win? Dunno. Is Auckland up for such a media bonanza? You’re no doubts correct! Hehe!

    Hey, that includes you too! It’s the 18th of May I believe, and thankfully – the dead men walking – have decided to conduct a brief and perfunctory campaign. It would bore the daylights out of me should they have decided to have conducted a longer campaign. Haha! Well it all depends upon where you and Mrs Damo were last enrolled to vote I guess. Good luck and may you deftly avoid the fines. 🙂

    It was about that temperature here today too. But Wednesday the forecast is for 29’C in the big smoke. Go figure that out… As a suggestion, put your sake mix next to the heater, as long as it is out of the direct sun (a very bad idea). Have you tasted any of the mix? Even at such low temperatures here, the mix is still bubbling away.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Well the restricted travel permits of repressive regimes also assist with the restriction of infectious diseases into the community (not to mention pleas for exile). It seems like every other week I’m reading about some outbreak of really easily staved off diseases such as measles. It is not for no reason that I am heading off shortly to get TB vaccination.

    Speaking of exile and extradition and all that jazz. I see that Mr Assange has been kicked out of the embassy and is now in British custody. You know, he’s about the same age as I, and had a very similar family history background and in a bizarre twist of fate he grew up not too far from where I lived. Sometimes I feel that it is a bit eerie that we may have been playing arcade games like Donkey Kong as kids, not too far from one another. There are times that I can see what motivated him to do what he did. When we were young, adults really did tell us that the future would be bright, good and moral and all that – despite what the adults were up to themselves. But then energy resources declined at a local level and such high hopes were pushed to the side. I feel for the bloke, but I’m also cognizant that he may pull some tricks out of the bag in terms of disrupting this little endeavour that we call the interweb as a form of leverage. If I were in his position, I’d do it.

    Glad you too noticed the redolent odour of garlic in the soil in your raised bed. I suspect the plant releases some sort of chemical into the soil, and the chemical has the effect of killing off some of the soil life. Dunno, but your observation agrees with what I see here and I’m thinking that what can kill off nematodes, can also kill off worms and other soil critters.

    There is a lot of chemical warfare going on with plants. Near to where the eucalyptus trees grow, the fruit trees are very slow growing. They don’t die, but neither do they thrive. There are actually a few fruit trees that I’m considering relocating once they’ve completely gone deciduous, because I just don’t see the point of growing them in the drip line of the eucalyptus trees (which unsurprisingly has expanded). On the other hand, I have quite a few indigenous nitrogen fixing trees to choose from that will happily disregard the germination inhibitors. Such stories tend to make me consider why the snakes and spiders down here are so outstandingly poisonous. The long associations mean that there are plenty of animals that can shrug off a deadly snake or spider bite and so I guess it has to be that way.

    Did your companion planting books have anything to say about garlic? My understanding is that in the distant past it was an excellent under orchard plant.

    Speaking of squashes, I cleaned up the pumpkins, squashes and melons today and harvested all of the fruit and mulched the extensive vines. It is possible that I should disregard growing cantaloupe here because some seasons (like this one) it is a marginal crop. Instead I reckon I’ll focus on watermelon which is a prolific and more reliable plant. The European wasps had broken through the skin of a cantaloupe and completely consumed the guts of the fruit and left an empty shell. I see no reason to encourage the wasps.

    I mentioned to Inge that I once owned a Jack Russel dog who unbeknownst to me was being starved out by his good mate and boss dog: “The Fat”. Anyway, the Jack Russell ate an entire rhubarb plant and suffered no ill effect, leaves and all. After noticing such odd behaviour I observed that The Fat was eating all of the shared food, and the poor little Jack Russell was being starved out. I’ve fed dogs separately ever since witnessing such blatant greed.

    Sprouts are pretty tasty! I’ve grown kale and I dunno, the thick leaves just didn’t float my boat either. But people swear by the healthful benefits of the plant…

    I brought back 2 cubic metres (2.6 cubic yards) of a new variety of compost today! The stuff looks good and I topped up all of the vegetable beds with it. Moving so much material around has left me feeling a bit tired tonight, but you know it had to happen. I even filled up the three huge raised potato beds as the plants were beginning to poke through the soil.

    There is a lot of stuff out there. And the award for the weirdest thing that I read today goes too: People are speeding up the audio in their podcasts two or even three times. Yup, I can’t make that stuff up. One comment in the article (which I didn’t link too) was that people speaking at a normal pace sounded as if they were drunk. Nice.

    The thing about the documentary that I couldn’t quite shake from my consciousness was that: Home ownership is about to plummet for retirees — and younger Australians should take note. There was a statistic in the article which suggested that: “And home ownership now depends on income much more than in the past: among 25-34 year olds, home ownership among the poorest 20 per cent has fallen from 63 per cent to 23 per cent.” OK, so my thinking is thus: Society is a collective endeavour and if a dream is sold, such as home ownership, what becomes of those that can’t live up to that dream? Because my thinking ensuring compliance with the dream, it has to deliver the goods otherwise people tend to go off and do something else with their time. In the documentary on Seattle, it wasn’t delivering for plenty of folks – and then the question becomes: what happens next? There is a narrative building in your country that the government is inept and unable to deal with circumstances as and when they arise.

    After WWII I believe there was one such person living up in this side of the mountain range, but it is considered a very cold environment and so people eschew it for the city with which they are usually familiar with. Even in the Great Depression, I’ve read that people headed towards the city. I keep bringing back compost and mulch. Dunno, how does that all fit with your understanding of your part of the world? I have read that rural areas in your country increased by in population by at least one million additional people by the end of the Great Depression.

    I wonder how your homeless deal with the brutally cold winters in your part of the world? In the past decade I have only ever encountered a single homeless person in a rural area down here. And that was a real surprise to discover the person sleeping rough.

    Mate, I hear you. It was the recession of the early 1990’s that really woke me up to the possibilities of things. Before that I was oblivious to the risks – and I reckon most people are today. I have encountered folks older than I, and no disrespect to them because they never walked my path, but they sailed through those times. You see, getting the ass was on a last in first out basis in those days and being young I was last in. Back then I really did believe in a job for life and if I did the right thing, I’d be looked after. That didn’t work out so well, and I have known a few people who went through the same process and I dunno, I don’t reckon you fully trust things again. But you know sometimes I can bring focus to a problem, and I get what you say, because despite my poor choices at the time I focused on not making myself so vulnerable in the future should such things reoccur. I know of people who such a possibility is not even on their radar as the merest of possibilities and I wonder about their futures.

    Oh! Fair enough about the rice and the bloke I once knew who used to help me with the bees used to keep his hive frames in a freezer for much the same reason. I once enjoyed weevils in the mixed grains that I use in my bread. I looked at the bag and wondered what all of the webs were about and took it back (unopened) to the supplier to be informed that it was weevils. Not a good look.

    Oh no!!!! Thanks for the heads up and it is fascinating reading in a bizarre but slightly scary way. I regularly read of measles outbreaks.



  50. Chris:

    I find it tricky to know what to mulch. We do so with the beds that have large plants which are spaced enough apart, like peppers and tomatoes, but with crowded beds or sprawling things like squash (we are trying more bush-type squash-pumpkins this year) we don’t mulch. And we have to worry a lot about mildew with our humid north slope. I can’t decide if mulch helps or hurts there. It would be hard to imagine a mulch ever hurting and it is wonderful for inhibiting weeds if the mulch is really thick. I’m trying to keep in mind the cardboard you mentioned for boron, to also use against weeds.

    We have had quite a bit of success with sawdust (from hardwoods) as a mulch, even around things that might not like extra acidity. The blueberries and strawberries love it, of course, but odd things like garlic seem to do fine, too. My son has declared total war on weeds and is proceeding to to cover the ground around most things with a thick layer of sawdust. We have a lot of it as a byproduct of his wood endeavors. When he dowsed my hostas with it the other day I cringed, but agreed to allow it as a test. They look happy so far, but it’s early days yet. A neat thing about sawdust is that if you don’t disturb it the particles eventually all stick together and it becomes like a mat. I can pick it up in sections after a season, yet it is still partially broken down. It does take about three years to mostly break down, which has been your observation with mulch.

    We also have an endless supply of leaves. They make a very good mulch and weed inhibitor, too, if you pile them on thickly, but seem to take even longer than the sawdust to break down if just left alone.

    We grow only organic food and what we buy is mostly organic so as to avoid the chemicals, both for the people and the compost we make. It is surprising how heavily most foods are sprayed, especially fruits. We used to use old hay from one of our farmer neighbors as mulch, but it came full of weed seeds, so we gave it up. I have never seen him spray in 27 years so that part was ok.


  51. Hi Pam (for some reason your comment went elsewhere, but is now recovered…)

    I’m completely unsure what I get for paying my fee other than recognition that I’ve jumped through the various hoops. There are times I feel that I may be a rat running on a treadmill and no matter how fast I run, I’m still in the same place.

    Well, it is not mandatory, but getting work without it would be a tough school – and it is madatory to be able to link into the government systems that have somehow become necessary. My understanding of the previous CEO’s pay was that it was up around something like $1.8m. Oh, he’s got a Wikipedia page, fancy that: Alex Malley. The only time I was sacked I was told to: “don’t come back Monday” and there was no payout of that size.

    Fair enough, it might surprise you how little most people know about the subject of soil.

    Your son is onto something with the fallen trees, and don’t you reckon it is funny that people don’t value such things and instead see them as an inconvenience – when they have value?

    Sad Mr Musty! He’ll get better soon, and appears to be in safe hands. Had to laugh about the hillbilly bit! 🙂 Funny stuff, and that was how things were done back in the day – farm engineering. Just don’t be under the engine block at any point in time!

    Picked all the pumpkins, squashes and watermelon today and hit all the vines with the mower. I was surprised at how little mulch the vines produced. Oh well. The thing that really surprised me was the realisation as to just how many pumpkin vines I’d have to plant in order to get through the winter. Oook!



  52. Chris:

    “People are speeding up the audio in their podcasts two or even three times.” I wondered if I was going crazy, as it seemed to me that is what is happening. I am so glad to hear that it may actually be happening and I am not nuts. I won’t watch stuff if it bothers me like that.


  53. Chris:

    Naughty Mr.Malley. He seems to have made a name for himself and done well in the process. I doubt if it matters that it is a bad name.

    I think maybe more pumpkin vines are not needed, but just ones that produce better?


  54. Yo, Chris – Hmmm. Where to start? :-). Composts, mulches and soil, I guess. Reasons to think twice about where you get your mulches and composts (not just you, in general. I’ve been thinking about this as Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea, has been thumping for getting ground yard waste from the local tip. It’s free! And, she doesn’t even garden.)

    As Pam mentioned, there’s always the weed seeds. And, glyphosate. People are spray happy. Every garden center has gallons of the stuff, and it must go somewhere. You’ve mentioned your eucalyptus inhibits some growth. Here, our ground yard waste may have oak (not so bad, but high acid) or worse, walnut. Walnut has something called juglone in all parts. Which inhibits plants. It will break down, eventually.

    James Kunstler (and his commenters) had quit a bit to say about Mr. Assange, this week. Maybe you played him in another life? :-). Or, were best mates in a parallel universe? My feeling (though I haven’t really put much thought into it. More an off the cuff feeling) is, being a “child of the 60’s”, anyone who “sticks it to the man” is ok, in my book. All very superficial, but there it is.

    Poking into companion planting, garlic pretty much trumps peas and beans, but gets along with almost everything else. Then again, that bed is stuffed with garlic. But it probably is why the peas were a washout. They did well, in another place. No news, that I could find, on squash and garlic.

    Ah, yes. Marginal crops. I only got two Hubbard squash and two, what we call pumpkins (round, orange). I may give them one more try, as my soil is probably better, this year. More poo, leaves, lime and wood ash. Everything else I was pretty happy. Cont.

  55. Cont. What our homeless do in winter, here, in this county. Given our winters. The Salvation Army has a small facility, here. Some of the churches, on a rotating basis, offer shelter and a meal. Maybe a shower. In really frigid weather, the county opens up parts of the fairgrounds.

    Once or twice a year, there’s a “homeless fair.” Agencies and “charity’s” set up and educate to what is available. The possibilities. That’s why my friend Susan knows a bit about our local homeless. The Club generally has a booth, in case someone’s reason for homelessness is addiction, and they’re ready to throw in the towel.

    We generally, look after our own. We have a few homeless who hang out at the Club, and we made sure they had options when the weather turns feral. We’ve had a few people lose housing (rental increases, burnt out, etc..) and we’ve been able to scramble around and find them places. All very informal. It’s why I don’t worry (too) much about ending up on the streets.

    Well, that was the American Dream. A job for life and home ownership. For awhile, that was possible. Now, not so much. Some people didn’t get the memo. Others feel very resentful that things aren’t as they were. We forget that most of the world is a world of renters.

    As far as old folks and home ownership goes, they may enter old age with a paid off house. That may not last. Rising taxes, rising insurance rates. One illness. Then there’s maintenance. At 40, maybe they could throw a roof on by themselves. At 70, they’re probably going to have to have it done hired.

    I finished watching “Civilizations”, last night. They talked about a series of paintings, that I was familiar with, but hadn’t thought about for awhile. As a bit of background, Thomas Cole came from England, and started painting our “wilderness.” About 1825. He became one of the founders of what is called the “Hudson River School” of painting. He got lucky. A patron said, I’ll give you this pile of money, and you can paint anything you want. This is what he produced. The patron was happy. The series is called “Course of Empire.”

    I’ve occasionally toyed with the idea of going to a doctor and telling him “I’m going to a third world hell hole. Give me every shot I need.”

    Oh, dear. The dam has broken. There’s a landslide of stuff headed to my local branch, off my hold list. Stuff that’s been “pending” or “on order”, for months. Someone must be cleaning out the odd corners at our Service Center. Triage may be in order. Lew

  56. Chris,

    We might get a dog in a few years. Things are quite hectic now, and it’s not easy finding someone to take care of the dog when we must be away. Nor is it fair to the dog.

    Aunt’s illness was why I thought I might be absent for some time from here. But, the funeral arrangements weirded themselves, and neither my wife nor I could attend. Thanks for the condolences. She and my wife were very close.

    Offendedness? If it wasn’t a word before, it is now! And a right good one, at that. Yes my country has totally tipped into being the land of the peeved and the home of the offended, as opposed to the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    Yes, 22 months is still long. So I keep a longer term plan for the job. Otherwise, I’d do something totally stupid, which is easy to do there. I think they put stupid in the water at that place, which I weaken by drinking massive amounts of tea. And managers are required to take “idiot pills” thrice daily. Oh, did I actually write that?!? 😉

    Ya know, the life you give the dogs at your place is beyond compare. It’s what dogs were meant to be and do: run and explore and have human and dog companions and wild things to chase around. Scritchy is fortunate to have had a life there, and deserves her reward of the bean bag and a place in front of the fire.

    I don’t know what the homeless do near Lew. The smaller towns in the eastern part of Washington ship their homeless to Spokane because they have no resources for the homeless. Spokane’s resources are overwhelmed before the winter influx from surrounding areas. There are several religious groups and churches that have shelters, and the city also has a few shelters. Some, however, and sometimes for very valid reasons, refuse to go to a shelter.

    The public libraries, especially the main branch in downtown Spokane, get overrun by homeless people sometimes. I’ve spoken with one young homeless gent several times at our local library. He is very polite, cleans up after himself, but there is obviously a story there which he won’t tell. Which is his right, and I ‘ve never asked. He’s also welcomed by the managers and staff at the nearby Wal-Mart, so it’s pretty obvious that he at least is polite, clean, doesn’t steal. He just, for some reason, is homeless and sleeps wherever he can under a roof or overhang. He wraps a tarp around his sleeping bag.

    One of the younger set at work wrote her master’s thesis on the effects of different types of mulch on growing hops. The field started with poor soil, and the experiments were for one growing season. She would have liked to track the results over several years, but that was beyond the scope of a master’s degree. She noticed that the man-made materials kept the weeds down the best, but did little else. Otherwise, the thicker and woodier the mulch, the better the effect on the crop. This was tested on several hops varieties, and the type of mulch that was best for one was best for all.

    The discussion I had with her reminded me of you and your experiences. I mentioned to her that as your soils have improved over many years of adding mulches, less water is needed to produce healthy plants and crops. I tells ya, mate, when your actual food supply depends on the soil, you learn fast what you’ve got to do. Thanks again for the free lessons you provide from experience.


  57. Hi Pam,

    I reckon it is tricky to know what to mulch too and I vary the additives over the years. Over the past few years I’ve just mulched up to the trunks of the fruit trees – but plenty of people have warned me that this is not a good idea – although I’m yet to observe any downsides to that strategy, but you never know and maybe I can get away with it because of the hot and dry summers. Dunno.

    Ah, I see. South facing slopes here in the mountain range are the coolest and dampest, so yeah that North slope would be a bit of a problem for you. The land here faces south west, so it favours the afternoon sun – which can have some sting during summer. Powdery mildew is a problem for sure – and I believe it is a fungus, so woody mulches are like fast food for fungi. Composts on the other hand favour bacteria. I’d probably put dry straw down under the sprawling vines, but on top of the mulch, given the mildew – which is much like what I do with the strawberries. The strawberry plants enjoy a good mulch, but the berries do not enjoy contact with the mulch – which is I guess the point as the plants want to create more new plants and giving the seeds a good feed is the idea with the berries.

    I’d probably burn the cardboard and then spread the ashes – and that would provide plenty of boron. It is one of those minerals you need, and can run down, but you don’t need too much.

    Garlic is a forest (or forest edge) plant so yeah, it would like forest like soils (i.e. woody mulches). A notable goal for your son! I’ve noticed that with sawdust too, and in paths it produces a very soft surface. The coffee husks do a similar trick with matting. I reckon that is the fungal networks holding it together, retaining moisture and consuming it all at the same time.

    I mow up all of the leaves, which chops them up into finer pieces and speeds up the decomposition process. I don’t really know and am just guessing, but if the soil life builds up enough, and the food stuff is consistently applied I reckon they break up the leaves faster with each passing season. Dunno.

    Yeah, too true it is a fine balance between use of herbicides and the rampant growth of plants. A lot of people forget that, and few would want to tackle the high labour alternative – which I do and clearly you are doing as well – which is just pulling the weeds. There are very few people working in agriculture these days and the returns are low, so corners are cut for sure.

    Hehe! Who’d have thought that podcasters would speed up the audio and then drop the pitch so that they don’t end up sounding like the chipmunks. Bonkers. Seriously, how short of time can people actually be?

    From what I understand and I could well be wrong, he’s gone onto another role. The payout was an extraordinary sum of members money.

    Hehe! Maybe it is the varieties I grow, the soils, or the conditions, but they seem to produce only a single large fruit per vine. The watermelons are far more prolific. Does that match your experience?



  58. Hi Lewis,

    After the big fires in 2009, the local council down here allowed residents to bring their green waste to the transfer stations for free. Now of course, the council had to hire a bloke with a huge green waste eating machine (which they did anyway from time to time anyway), but then they’ve got all of the mulched up green waste. In the big smoke they use it on the parks and gardens and that helps old trees get through hot and dry summers. Not sure if they do that in this council area, but for a small fee you could load up a trailer yourself of the stuff. For a more substantial fee, they’d deliver 10 cubic metres (13 cubic yards) of the stuff, etc. I have used it long ago and it was OK, but who knows what chemicals the residents use in their gardens? But then, no matter what you bring in – unless you know the life cycle (like your alpaca poo and even then who knows what is in the feed) – I have no doubts at all that it will take a few years and a bit of sun and rain to leach the chemicals to the magical place of elsewhere. The sun’s UV probably does most of the work, but I reckon Paul Stamet’s would suggest that the fungi does some heavy lifting too.

    I don’t see no dirt under Susan’s fingernails!!! Bad Chris! Are you involved in that conversation because of the Ranger? I see logistical issues in there and a bit of work for yourself should the tide turn against you. It is nice when people have a better idea, but it would be even nicer if they had those ideas and skin in the game. Maybe it is too much to ask for?

    I was aware of the juglone issue with Walnuts and planted the tree far from others. It died, but was survived by a Pin Oak which is now happily growing in the spot. I’ve given up on walnuts, but maybe I just need to grow a seedling rather than a grafted variety. Thanks for mentioning that Oaks likewise produce chemicals – it makes sense.

    He’s cool and Mr Kunstler is cool. I’m just not free to share my thoughts on all issues as there is no free speech down here. I suspect that the Australian government is no fan of Julian because he embarrassed them. They could assist him, but I’m not seeing much evidence that they are. You have to understand that I live in a country where a government employee was recently handed a 160 year sentence for whistle blowing and all the various acts associated with that turn of events. It appears to me to be an extraordinary sentence and is on par with what mass murderers face. Such sentences for the whistle blower are not the sort of thing that you would expect to see in a just and fair society. And that is the environment that I live in. Both persons appear to have displayed the ugly under belly in our governance, and both have paid a very high price. I have only compassion for them.

    Yours is certainly not a superficial point of view, and I sympathise with it, however the consequences for doing so down here are not good.

    Garlic is a mysterious crop to me so I appreciate your thoughts as to the companionable nature of the plant. It is a very reliable plant, as most tubers are.

    What to plant and how much to expect from a harvest is a very complicated matter. I take my hat off to anyone who can make a living from growing plants.

    The fair grounds would be a good option, but living in a tent in your winters would be a brutal experience. Mind you, the island state of Tasmania seems to be having a similar problem: Homeless shut out from showgrounds, as Hobart housing crisis continues to bite hard.

    Your club provides many excellent intangible benefits for the members and I have nothing but praise for such a group of people.

    Hey, it was the Australian Dream too, and I had that dream pushed into my awareness from a very young age. And I ate it up. It just didn’t work out to well, and that was the point that I decided to take a good hard look at the Dream. The funny thing was that I’ve witnessed the final days of that story and at the same time understood at the time that things had changed. But I tell ya, when it delivered, mate the goodies were good. Back in those days work was a very social place, nowadays I just hit the ground and run hard and hope for the best. But far out compared to those early days, mate we work hard now. I’m fairly sanguine about it all too, because it was better to have seen such a thing and to have understood it for what it was, than to continue to believe upon a dream that cannot deliver. It is a complicated and nuanced understanding of events.

    Exactly too. Insurance and property taxes are the things to watch. And insurance more than property taxes. Within a decade at the rate that it continues to increase, I doubt that I’ll be able to afford it.

    The patron was happy. Far out, but Chris was happy too. It amazes me that like today, people well understand the fork in the road and the choices that are made and the costs for making the choices. The paintings were epic and I loved them all.

    Hehe! You can actually do just that down here. I’ve travelled to some dodgy countries and beforehand I used to visit a doctor that specialised in people travelling to out of the way places – and they had a nurse on site and just stabbed you – a lot and provided you with a lot of medications.

    All hands on deck! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Battle stations – the library is about to send a volley across the portside bow! 🙂

    Better run and get on and do some writing for tomorrow…



  59. Yo, Chris – I’ll see Julia, today, and ask about the alpaca poo. I’m pretty sure they just eat what’s on her place, with maybe, the occasional bail of hay.

    LOL, on Susan’s part, it’s not so much the Ranger, as it’s Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea. Now the Garden Goddess … she’s mentioned four times that one of the Master Gardeners has access to some cow poo. But doesn’t have a truck. Then she just kind of trails off, and I ignore her. Last time, I just as vaguely said, “I suppose someone among the Master Gardeners, has a truck.” Now the Master Gardeners are brining some chicken poo … that’s a done deal. Why she’s also fixated on the cow poo, I don’t know. But then she fixates on a lot of things, and is quit acquisitive. I guess her apartment is a bit of a hoarding situation (without the bugs and rats). She’s always up for more garden space, more plants, more, more more. And, is in declining health to take care of it all.

    I’ll be hauling a couple of bags of soil and mushroom compost, for my neighbor Eleanor (HRH’s mom), But that’s ok. To put it in diplomatic parlance, we have a Special Relationship. Most Favored Nation. :-).

    Now there’s an interesting question. Would I swap some free speech for better and more affordable health care? Hmmm.

    That was quit an article about the Hobart fairgrounds. I think our fairgrounds are basically a couple of heated buildings and bathrooms. Maybe a charity shows up with packed food. Most of the folks living rough carry sleeping bags. Then there’s the bunch that live in their cars, vans or RVs. They’re harder to count. And, many are employed. The homeless fellow I know best at the Club (he’s the one who’s not quit ready to come out of the woods), well, I discovered a secret, about him. When I was moving. He has a space or two at the storage facility I used, briefly. They’re heated. Hmmm? He also has a gym membership, which is how he attends to his hygiene needs. Inventive and resourceful. He’s about in my age group, and things are getting harder for him. He had a go-around with the hospital, this winter. When he got out, we found a place for him for a month.

    As far as the Australian and American dream, go, I think the Japanese have a good take on things. “Life is a dream. An Illusion.” (Shogun :-). We have a father son act, at the Club, now. In my experience, not that unusual. I’ve known the son for maybe 12 years. Dad is a recent entry. I was talking to Dad the other day, and I was saying that, in or out of the program, the son always seemed, to me, to have a good work ethic. He always had a job, and if he didn’t, found one in short order. The father told me that he has several brothers and sisters (which I didn’t know) who are all professionals or academics. The son I know is the only one who has no debt. Interesting.

  60. Hi Chris,

    Well it’s snowing yet again. We’re supposed to get a couple inches but tomorrow it’ll be well above freezing and remain that way. This is good as we pick up the pigs tomorrow morning.

    Have you tried massaging kale? It really breaks it down and makes quite a difference.

    Around here different churches provide a meal and overnight accommodations on a rotating basis but only from October to April. The rest of the year many just camp out in the woods – often on private property. A friend of mine organizes a lunch each Monday during the warmer months and distributes various personal care items that have been donated.

    I’m having a problem with my seedlings I’m starting under lights. They are barely growing and some are also yellowing. They all germinated just fine. In the past I’ve always just added my coffee grounds to my compost pile but this year I’ve just added some to my house plants and my seed starting mix. That is the only change this year from past years. As our coffee isn’t always organic I’m wondering if there could be some herbicide residues in the relatively fresh grounds causing this problem.


  61. Cont. Well, one of the books I picked up from the library was “The Uninhabitable Earth: Life After Warming” (Wallace-Wells, 2019). I’m pretty much skimming it, as, I realize how dire things are. But it’s … interesting to have the latest climate news all pulled into one place. So much gets under reported, or, not reported at all. Lost in the noise.

    One of the interesting bits I ran across (something I had heard before, but not so starkly) is “Since 1950, much of the good stuff in the plants we grow – protein, calcium, iron, vitamin C, to name just four – has declined by as much as one-third, a landmark 2004 study showed. Everything is becoming more like junk food. Even the protein content of bee pollen has dropped by a third.” According to the footnotes, the study was done by the Journal of the American College of Nutrition, and covered 43 garden crops. The bee pollen study was from the Proceedings of the Royal Society, on North American bees.

    I finished “The Town.” Not a spoiler, but some of the characters drive me bonkers with their motivations of “what will people say.” I’ve put “The Light in the Forest” on my hold list. Interesting. Our library classifies it as Young Adult Literature. Should be a fast read. 196 pages.

    I also watched a documentary, last night, called “A Desert Between Us an Them: Raiders, Traitors and Refugees in the War of 1812.” (2013). I really didn’t know too much about that. I didn’t know that the documentary pretty much restricts itself to what was going on in what was then called “Upper Canada.” Now, SW Ontario. Great Lakes, Detroit … that area. It was a pretty interesting mix of people. The British, the French, Native peoples, and a lot of former American colonists who had fled north, during and after the American Revolution. Quit a few people just wanted to be left alone, but were thrust into situations where loyalties were questioned. There was lots of bad behavior on both sides. Often, old scores were settled. It was a mess. And, when all was said and done, the border was pretty much the same as it had been before the war.

    Rain and wind, all day yesterday. Nailed 29 slugs, last night. So it goes. Lew

Comments are closed.