Ollie’s excellent adventure

A pungent stench emanated from the rear of the vehicle. The fifteen year old Suzuki Vitara dirt rat is a small vehicle. However, when it comes to potent stinks, the rear of the vehicle is very close indeed. Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (by now everyone knows he’s an intelligent Australian cattle dog), was looking agitated. And we’d been driving for less than ten minutes.

“Chris. I gotta go, mate. NOW!” As the car filled up with canine flatulence, I pulled over and parked on the side of a quiet country road. Ollie was let out of the back of the car and proceeded to dump the contents of his bowels.

With the urgent canine business attended to, the cars atmosphere aired out, we were able to proceed along with our journey. This was Ollie’s first big trip in the car, and I’m guessing his other interactions with vehicles took him from one foster home to another. And my understanding based on observing how he reacts, he probably spent most of his time in foster homes in cages.

He doesn’t like cages, that’s for sure. However, the other dogs have taught him to ‘chill out’ if he is put in the fenced dog enclosure. Toothy and Scritchy, who are much smaller dogs, look at Ollie and say: “What is wrong with you dude? It’s out of the weather, it’s warm, there’s water. Just relax man. Are we cool? Yeah, we’re cool, so get it together bro!” And so with their help, Ollie has learned to relax in the dog enclosure, but in the car he wasn’t relaxed at all.

I was beginning to have serious misgivings about bringing Ollie on the walk, but then misgivings can be ignored, and I expect Ollie to learn, if only because he can. And before we knew it, we had arrived at the beginning of a three hour walk to the town of Lyonville and return:

Trentham railway station – the beginning of a three hour walk to and from Lyonville

I now hand you over to Ollie the Australian cuddle dog:

Are you dumping me here or what? You know, Toothy started it first, and it had nothing to do with me! Oh, you’re putting the lead on me. I like the lead, that means we’re going for a walk. Are you planning to dump me somewhere on the walk?

What’s the withering look for dude? OK, you’re not going to dump me on the walk, I get it. Let’s stop talking and get on with the walk.

What are all those old buildings and funny looking tiny red houses on wheels? Oh, so they’re the old disused railway station at the central Victorian town of Trentham. What? The railway line used to connect the goldfields at Daylesford with the town of Woodend. Isn’t that still part of the Bendigo line railway line to Melbourne today? Anyway, thanks for the boring history lesson. Let’s get on with walking.

I must say that this walk thing is nice. The weather is great and the track is nice on my paws. And so many great smells.

Look over there, what are those large dogs? They’re the biggest dogs I’ve ever seen. What are they? Oh, horses. Never seen them before, they don’t look that bright to me. That is because it is I who is on the outside of the sodden paddock, not them. And what’s over there? Oh, Sheep, boring! Well they don’t look too bright either. You can see it in their eyes. Can I round them up boss? What do you mean, no! Meh.

The walk progresses out of town and into the forest.

The walk continues along the old rail trail

Boss! I smell wallabies, wombats and kangaroos. And over there is a juicy marsupial dog chocolate. Yum! Anyway, why are the trees so small, I’ve seen bigger trees at home.

Wow! So, you’re saying that the forest was logged from 1850 before eventually being closed in 2002. And the railway line took timber north to the goldfields and south to Melbourne. And during some eras there were dozens of saw mills and hundreds of workers in the forest. I’ll bet they could have used the services of an intelligent cattle dog like me? I’d take pay in wallaby tails. Yum!

The walk continues and Ollie encounters two Bearded Collies…

Those two are the stupidest looking hairy dogs that I’ve ever seen. No wonder they mess around with sheep, instead of dealing to cattle like a proper dog. And what is with the top knots? They look like hipsters, and everyone knows that cattle dogs don’t need top knots. Watch out boss, one of them is lunging at you. Take that ya hairy top knotted freak.

Their humans muttered apologies, and soon we reached the township of Lyonville and turned around…

Glad you’re not dumping me. I feel much better now that we’re heading back. I know exactly where we are going. Hope we remember to stop at the interesting bridge that we weren’t allowed to walk on. Anyway, I need a drink from the water in the creek.

A disused railway bridge along the route spans a creek

The car is eventually reached after three hours of continuous walking…

Boss I like this walking thing. You’re not going to bore me with another history lesson are you? OK, I’ll listen for a bit on the condition you give me some bacon and toast from the Bacon, Lettuce and Cheese toasted sandwich that you’ve been talking up.

So you’re saying that during the Great Depression era, public transport was free on weekends, and many people used to head out into the countryside in order to enjoy long walks in nature? Boss, does this mean that if that happened now, I’d meet other stupid looking dogs like those two Bearded Collies with the bad attitudes? Cool, they needed dealing to, for I am a sophisticated and intelligent Australian cattle dog, unlike those losers.

We now forcibly remove Ollie from the keyboard…

Ollie enjoying the heat from the wood heater after a long and exciting adventure

After last weeks rain, the sun shone and the days were warm. For this time of year, the weather was genuinely superb. Both the editor and I decided to ‘make hay whilst the sun shines’ and during the week we worked on excavating the new garden terrace on three separate occasions.

Two large rocks and a lot of soil were excavated after the first couple of hours of digging
A day of digging moved a whole lot more clay
The third session of many hours of digging and moving soil has really sped the terrace project along

All of the digging is done by hand using hand tools. And the soil is moved from the lower terrace and placed on the upper terrace. Observant readers will note that the face of the excavated soil looks a lot like an unfinished cob wall. Cob is a fancy name for constructions using clay and straw and it has been used by humans for millennia. We’ve used this technique before on terraces and in this mountain range it is very stable.

In the photo above, you can see me pushing a wheelbarrow on the surface of the upper terrace. The wheelbarrow is full of rocks and I use the pressure of all that weight in the wheelbarrow to compact the soil on the upper terrace.

A wheelbarrow full of rocks is used to compact the soil on the upper terrace

Observant readers will note that there is little visual difference between the compacted soil on the upper terrace with the excavated soil surface on the lower terrace.

The excavations have unearthed a huge number of rocks. Every single rock has a use here, and all of the smaller rocks were placed in a rapidly filling up steel rock gabion cage which retains the soil on the potato terrace. Over the next week or so we intend to construct a new empty steel rock gabion cage.

The steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up. It was only a few weeks ago that it was empty

The native birds follow our excavation activities with a sharp eye. And despite the fluffy canine collective being present, the birds are fast to grab any grubs that we unearth. The local family of magpies are the most adventurous.

The family of magpies are permanent residents of the farm

The wet weather last week, combined with the warm weather this week have produced a plethora of mushrooms.

Mushrooms of all shapes and sizes are plentiful

Tree ferns which struggled with the recent hot and dry summer, are now beginning to produce new fronds now that regular rain has returned. Don’t let their delicate good looks fool you, the tree ferns are hardy as old boots.

Tree ferns are beginning to produce new fronds

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums continue to please the eye
Geraniums splash colour in an otherwise garden held in the grip of winter
Blue flowering rosemary looks great
This lavender is enjoying the return of the regular rains
Rhubarb is flowering and occasionally sets self seeded (volunteer) plants

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 390.6mm (15.4 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 384.6mm (15.3 inches).

77 thoughts on “Ollie’s excellent adventure”

  1. Ollie,

    What a grand adventure you had! You’ll have to forgive Chris for giving you history lessons: us humans tend to do that and we can forget that dogs are above our petty history.

    Rakhi the Samoyed detested riding in cars. Usually a car trip meant a visit to the veterinarian, where she would get poked and prodded by this Awful Human who would then give her an injection, sometimes two injections. Rakhi learned how to attach herself to the floor, so the veterinarian would have to examine her on the floor.

    Thor the Irish Wolfhound mix and Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz both liked riding in the car. Thor hated the veterinary office, but Cheyenne liked it because the receptionists always gave her treats.

    Let us know about any other great adventures you have, okay Oliie?


  2. Lew,

    I’ll try to find that Lost Viking Army video at the library. Unless I “join” PNS or the local PBS affiliate, I’m unable to watch it online. I’m pretty sure I’ve read about it, however. Fascinating stuff.

    50 Vikings in a Ditch sounds like a wonderful name for a band. I knew some guys in college who formed a band and called it “Loose Gravel”. Since a lot of road maintenance includes signage about “Loose Gravel”, they always joked about the free advertising they got during road repair season.

    Anyhow, that was an interesting article about the ditched Vikings. Stuff like that had been going on for centuries all over Europe, I think. Tough time to be alive.

    Thanks for the links.


  3. @ Pam,

    We’ve told our relative several times that his rocks ae a wonderful tradition. We never know when we’re gonna get one or where it will be from.

    Here in the dry side of Washington, we do have the tobacco and tomato worms. Those things just look scary, especially when big.


  4. Chris,

    “What does studiously avoiding noticing four large predator birds look like???” My guess is that it looks similar to how a dog studiously ignores the owner’s commands or how a dog can suddenly develop “selective hearing”.

    Earwigs? I know what they’re going to eat the most of, and don’t grow that is one approach. They get every bit of corn I’ve tried to grow, for example, so it isn’t worth trying to grow corn. I just finished harvesting the greens for the year, as the earwigs have discovered them, which means any greens after this will be contaminated. The damaged leaves and the plants I added to the compost. They also like potato plant leaves, but I will grow potatoes.

    The only remedy I’ve got is to place wet newspapers out for them at night. They’ll go for the newspapers like nobody’s business. I then dispose of said “earwig news” in the trash. I’ve tried diatomaceous earth, but it needs to be reapplied after every watering; the results weren’t worth the expense or hassle. Chickens would probably take care of the earwig problem…

    In other words, my approach with earwigs is to avoid growing some things, and know the limitations in growing seasons for some others.

    The raspberries are ripe. I’ve gotten 2 good pickings the past three days. They’re doing very well despite my totally neglecting them. It’s on my list to clean up the berry patch and start taking care of them properly. She Who Must Be Obeyed wants me to expand the raspberry area once it has been cleaned up.

    Good point. Some of those larger Viking raids quit as soon as the charismatic leader died. One of the risks, I suppose.

    I’m not sure from my past and recent reading that the entire Roman army changed to heavy cavalry. There appeared to be more cavalry than in earlier times, but the heavy infantry remained the core of their strategy, if I understand correctly.

    However, in locations such as Britain and northern Gaul, due to the large numbers of sea raiders using the North Sea as a highway, the need for an effective mobile fighting force was paramount. I think there was more reliance on cavalry in those areas. Naturally, needing more horses would’ve led to a different use of agriculture, as you and Lew have been discussing.

    The reduction in boots on the ground may have been part of the reason that they hired mercenaries and “citizenized” any of the “barbarians” who would settle within the boundaries of the empire and fight for Rome. Things were in such turmoil that they really didn’t know what was going on, or refused to really understand, and resorted to whatever stop gap measures they could find. Such is the nature of a long descent, perhaps?


  5. Hi Pam,

    You’re so right. Pick and see where your choice leads you.

    Old fluffy was a case in point. Way back in the day at the lost dogs home, the editor had set her heart on a Maltese terrier, but I don’t like the look of them. The under bite reminds me of a tip rat. It was generally acknowledged that the choice in this instance was mine (we alternate). Instead of the tip rat, I saw old fluffy standing on her hind two legs pawing at the air to get my attention. Little did I know at the time, that she just did that trick – a lot.

    Anyway, I took Old fluffy under my wing, and she was a rotten and badly behaved dog, at first. Then Old fat the boss dog died, and Old fluffy just changed overnight. It was uncanny. She got with the program and from that point onward, and she was the best boss dog that I’ve encountered.

    But at the time way back at the lost dogs home, I wouldn’t have known all that.

    Isn’t life unpredictable? The rabbit on the other hand needs dealing to.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Alas, I’m at a bit of a loss as to how to proceed with the rabbit in play. I’d like to see it exit stage left as per your dream, but I suspect that blood might need to be shed first. I plan to move the plantings next growing season, so that will cause a lot of consternation with the rabbit, but we’ll see. The rabbit is most at risk when it is in transit away from the burrow, and at night the owls and foxes will cause it some problems.

    Did you discover any potatoes using the shovel? It is complicated as if the seasons were suddenly upside down – and there was reasonable rainfall – the potato plants here would be doing well and producing flowers and seeds. The weather is conducive to growing potatoes down here, and they’re in full leaf right now. That particular plants cycle is beyond my ken at this stage. I just don’t get it because the growth has been very variable and adaptive, but then I guess the tubers are a store of energy for the plant? Dunno.

    In the book, The Singing Sword, the colony has just been attacked by the Franks from an unexpected direction. And they were on light horse too. The story has suddenly become much darker and talk of vengeance is being backed up by some solid and surprising actions. Emotions have been stirred and future responses are being formulated. There is talk of patrolling the shore line. It is interesting to me that the Celts, whom the colony is friendly with and are about to form deeper connections to, appear to be a lot more alert than the Romans. And I’m surprised that the Romans don’t ask the Celts how they manage look outs. What is your take on that side of the story? Anyway, talk in the story has become an Eye for an Eye and all that business. Julia may have succumbed to such personal responses due to previous raccoon outrages? I let Sir Poopy the deceased, deal with the fox problem, and he sorted that business in a most definite manner, despite being mostly blind and only weeks from his final foray. I miss him.

    Hmm. I’d like to see such an economy as it may be more resilient than what goes on today. Money has become an intermediary in relationships, so such a ‘swapping’ economy would have complicated social ties. Practical skills are not so good up in this mountain range, but it wasn’t always thus. When the old hill stations were inhabited by the very well to do, the staff who kept the places going all year around would have had some outstanding skills. The wealthy these days forget the concept of noblesse oblige, and those social arrangements way back in the day I suspect would also have entailed mutual obligations for them too.

    Yeah, who would have thought that as with your theatre productions, you can plan and plan, but sometimes, you just sort of have to line things up and watch and see what happens. And also hope for the best!

    Speaking of theatre, there is a new Richard Curtis film which I’m considering going to the cinema and seeing: Yesterday. It’s a dodgy premise, but I have enjoyed most of the guys films.

    You never hear the description ‘swanning about’ anymore! But when I was a kid, it used to be thrown at people who took airs upon themselves. We need to reclaim those words! If only because there is so much of it going around these days. I reckon ‘selfies’ fit into that category! 🙂

    Ouch. Mr Richter appears to have suffered from some serious complexities and trauma in his past. In the past, I have made the amusing observation that: “the patterns are not quite right”, but the author in question may have taken such a concept, which I meant in a light hearted way, to the entire next level. The introduction to the books was written by a person who had befriended the author in his latter years. By all accounts the two got along quite well, but I noted that the author had an intense interest in studying the minute details of the language used in the era, and he often went to great lengths to research those minor details. I’m now looking into my crystal ball and the results tell me that you already know. Traffic lights! Far out. Despite all that the bloke had a heck of a talent and could write a mighty fine story. I’m betting he didn’t like early mornings!

    Tin. Hmm, that makes sense, given the name of the keep, or could it be entirely a coincidence? Probably not. Tin is a pretty useful material. I can’t believe the softies ignored the Arthur story. I’m really starting to feel that the dark ages weren’t all that dark! And our ancestors were a bloodthirsty lot. 🙂 I’m really looking forward to reading how the story plays out in this series of books.



  7. Hi DJ,

    Woof! Woof! Ollie here…

    Dogs care not a fig for history. If a beef jerky was delivered yesterday, does this mean that another will mysteriously appear today? No! I rest my case, history is bunk.

    Rakhi the Samoyed was wise in the ways of the four wheeled thingees. They’re not to be trusted and many a furry companion has been probed and prodded at the dastardly Veterinary. Rhaki my sadly departed friend, I could have learned from your mad ground hugging skills.

    Thor, despite your name, you are wise, and they are not to be trusted despite the treats. Cheyenne has questionable morals and an accommodating personality and would clearly sell her soul for a liver treat. I approve of your strong position on the subject, but the softer part of me says that liver treats are quite tasty. I’m torn, I’m glad that stayed strong for all of us!



  8. Hi DJ,

    Funny stuff – if you know, you know. The best I hope to achieve with the dogs is to instil in them a sense of personal responsibility for their actions and expectations of their roles. They have to know their roles, because I can’t be constantly monitoring them.

    Really? Every cob of corn? Mate, those earwigs sound horrendous. I can’t grow greens at your time of the year either, but it is not earwigs, it’s cabbage moths (do you get those moths?) – and the sun which makes the plants bolt to seed. Have you ever tried growing perennial rocket? That’s a solid summer green performer which not much seems to want to eat. The leaves are a bit thinner than earlier season rocket, but you know it’s better than going without…

    You’re on fire with humour tonight! Earwig news indeed. Nice one. Never tried diatomaceous earth, isn’t it some sort of fossil?

    Do you consume all of the ripe raspberries, or do you preserve them in a jam? There is no sympathy here from me, raspberries are just that good and if your lady suggests to triple, or even quadruple the amount of raspberry plants grown, then I reckon she is onto something and you’d do well to listen. Hehe! Of course, it is easy for me at such at this distant remove. Hey, two words: Good luck! Hehe! 🙂

    Apologies, you are correct. My understanding is that the infantry continued with its original purpose, but the heavy cavalry would have cost the Romans a pretty denarii (?) or more to operate and it would have drained the coffers and the feed stores. The Romans didn’t appear well set up to fight a guerrilla war.

    Exactly, it is in the nature of the long descent. The book that we are reading mentions emptying of the local Roman garrisons and given that history suggests that the Romans eventually departed, it most likely happened and areas were left to fend for themselves with whatever they could muster and support. Standing armies are expensive.



  9. @ Claire – The problem potatoes are really too small, to have much going on, underground. Before whatever strikes them, strikes, them, they are small and healthy looking.

    We have Master Gardeners (part of the county Extension Program) come around every week. The best they could come up with was either too much nitrogen, or, cats.

    I quit liked your post over at Mr. Greer’s blog. Every time I ask someone who has traveled “out there” what it’s like, I usually get a blank look.

    I’ve started dipping into “This Land: America, Lost and Found” (Barry, 2018) Fairly current. Roving reporter sending in verbal snapshots from all over the U.S.. Also, “Spying on the South” (Horwitz, 2019).

  10. @ DJSpo – The Viking army film is pretty new, on DVD. Your library might have a “suggested purchase” page, on their website. Or, you could Interlibrary Loan it.

    We also have problems with ear wigs. I’ve tried the nespaper bit, and I think it helped. Last year, I dusted the ends of my corn with BT, just a few times, and the cobs came out perfect.

    When I go out slug hunting, if I see ear wigs, I spray them with ammonia. But, like the potato bugs, with all that armor, I really don’t know if it does any good. Lew

  11. Yo, Chris – Ollie’s roadside excursion, may have been a delaying tactic. And, I presume you took all that nice biomass, back to the farm? :-).

    Trentham Station looks really interesting. Wish you could have got a closer shot. Unless someone lives there. That would have been rude.

    Whatever will you do with your time, when all the terraces are completed, and all the rock gabions, full? Time to build a folly? :-).

    Collingwood Ingram discovered a blue rosemary. I think it’s named after him. Cont.

  12. Cont. Didn’t have time, this morning, to go at the healthy potatoes with a shovel. Other things demanded my attention. Pruning squash and convincing it to run in another direction.

    At the risk of spoilers, the Colony gets better at look outs.

    I’ve been reading the reviews of “Yesterday”, and may give it a look when it hits DVD. But I may not like it, as I understand the Beatle’s songs are all broken up. I quit liked “Across the Universe.” Can’t tell you a thing about the story, but I really liked the soundtrack.

    Actually, Richter was an early riser. But that may have had more to do with social pressure, than anything else. Lie in bed? What would people think? Like Chancy, he was overly concerned with his heart. Did a round of doctors, who could find nothing wrong. Although his heart finally did do him in. In his upper 70s … As the story went along, I kept thinking a lot of his wife’s problems (TB) would be helped out with the advent of antibiotics. But, just about the time they were rolling on the market, they took up Christian Science, which doesn’t believe in medical intervention. In a lot of ways, they really self sabotaged, themselves. This also extends to Richter’s writing career.

    Richter came (and lived, a lot of the time) in a small town, Pine Grove, Pennsylvania. Something I was going to mention after reading the Horwitz book, “One for the Road.” The smugness of small places. And, not just Australia, but also here. Lew

  13. Hello Chris
    I enjoyed the walk and the photos of the area. Would love to see more of the surrounding area. Is it rare for you to take this kind of walk?
    We had a bit of rain with a very warm muggy day but it is now back to hot and dry.


  14. Hi Inge,

    Thanks, it’s a pretty nice walk. There are quite a lot of walks in and around the area. Compared to your part of the world it is very under populated (by a factor of about twelve), and I encountered less than a dozen people in the three hours of the walk. There is a big all day walk that traipses along the elevated parts of this mountain range, and whenever I’ve walked that, I’ve never encountered anybody on the trail, other than at picnic grounds which have vehicle access. I’ll try and remember to take some photos the next time I’m on a long walk. The old railway bridge in the photos was really fascinating. I find walking, like the physical work here, quite soothing and meditative. I’m not sure everyone feels the same?

    How is the pond faring? It was another warm winter’s day today. However, the next seven days promise to drop the temperature and bring rain each day. In the much higher alpine areas, snow has been forecast.

    Are you in drought again this summer?



  15. Hi Lewis,

    The thought had never occurred to me, although Ollie may recall that Sir Scruffy departed in the vehicle in a very poor state of health, and came back rather dead. I miss Sir Scruffy, and wish that I knew him longer. Anyway, the dogs might not know the details of that particular journey, but the outcome was pretty clear to them. I see no benefit to shielding the dogs from the realities of existence, it does them no good. Do you reckon that is a bit morbid? As a society we really shy away from the grittier side of things, and I do wonder whether this is a good idea or not. I’ve encountered people who’s parents live unto a ripe old age, and the possibility of personal morbidity never even occurred to them, despite them being older than I am now. I have this gut feeling that if people forget the possibility of morbidity, they may put off living until some point in the future.

    Trentham station is pretty cool. The railway tracks don’t extend far past the platforms, and I noted along the walk that an all weather rock surface had been placed over the rotting sleepers. As you suspected, somebody lives in the station and I had no desire to annoy them.

    Sometimes I go past another railway station that has an active freight line, and the station has been converted into a private residence back in the late 1970’s. You’d hope that freight trains didn’t pass in the night? Not sure that I could sleep through that. Anyway, I’ll see if I can dig up an image because the station building is very substantial despite being in the middle of nowhere… … Oh! Here you go, for your edification: Former Moorabool Railway Station. The link is to no less than the state heritage website. There is a short history of the railways, and I did note that buildings were apparently better constructed in the distant past.

    Stop it! Hehe! There is so much to do here before the folly is even considered as a remote possibility. Hehe! I’d construct a hill fort long before a folly. 😉 Perhaps such thoughts display an inbuilt bias and pragmatism?

    The text in The Singing Sword, is, err, singing! It is a book that is very hard to put aside. I enjoyed many pages over a coffee and fruit toast this morning. I’d call that time well spent, others may differ, and they can keep their opinions to themselves – although that is easier said than done. Do anything out of the ordinary like enjoy a coffee, and you’ll probably hear about until your final days…

    A blue rosemary is a worthy find, and many thanks to Mr Ingram. I’d be fascinated to see some of the Japanese maples that he managed to rescue. Did he ever plant out an Arboretum? He probably had the mad cash and will for such an undertaking.

    Good luck, and I do hope that the squash don’t attempt to defy you in their meanderings. The general consensus down here is that the tomato enclosure which is suffering from the deprivations of the lone rabbit (maybe?), will be handed over to the squash, pumpkin (!) and melons next growing season. They can sprawl to their hearts content. Have you ever attempted to grow the spaghetti squash? That was the oven exploding variety…

    Well, losing an outlying villa, sort of indicates to me that they need to utilise their forces a bit better. Anyway, I was guessing that they’d have to get their act together with the look outs. The consequences for not doing so would be too extreme to ignore the effort. I’m almost certain that you would have heard of the: Professionalism/The Ford Pinto Gas Tank Controversy. But for the nail, the Empire fell.

    Really? I wonder why the film would have broken up the Beatles songs? I guess you can’t have too many songs in a film otherwise there would be no story line and it might descend into the dark and dreaded realms of the musical. I ask you, can we go there? Maybe not… On the other hand I’m a bit of a sucker for the works of Richard Curtis, so I reckon despite the musical misgivings, I might go and see it at the cinema. And yeah, the Beatles knew a thing or two about music. So I am left wondering whether you were more of a fan of the Beatles or did you have a darker side where the Rolling Stones spoke to you in a clearer voice? Or maybe neither of them spoke, and you hankered for deeper psychedelia like Pink Floyd? I grew up listening to the music of Pink Floyd, shame about the movie. Pink was a dull fellow and hardly worthy of anyones sympathy.

    Ouch! I’m curious as to whether you have gleaned anything interesting from the biography on Mr Richter? I did mention at the time that the author had written himself into the book with the character of Chancy. I didn’t warm to the character, but that does in no way demean the character, because a story where everyone was the same would make for very dull reading. Dare I mention Star Trek’s, Borg… Utterly predictable responses from the alines, would Sun Tzu approve? Probably not.

    You did mention too that the characters in the book were like the author in that they were concerned with how other members of their society would respond to any acts of quirky behaviour. A bit of a yoke to bear that, and it leads into the next thought. I thought that perhaps the authors obsessive concerns for signs and portents combined with hyper sensitivity may have been indicators that he was a bit on the spectrum, but that is pure supposition on my part. Anyway, what do you reckon about that? I mean we’ll never know, but still…

    Yeah, there is a bit of smugness in small places. I can see that. Such thoughts are OK until the Visigoths turn up for some easy pickings.



  16. @ Lew – I’m sorry about your potatoes. Are these seed potatoes you bought from a specialty nursery, seed potatoes you got out of a bin at a local garden store, or potatoes you bought at the grocery store and stuck in the ground? The last might not do well in your area. The first is generally the most reliable choice, but also the most expensive. Sometimes potato troubles can be because the variety doesn’t like your weather and/or soil conditions. Do the Master Gardeners have particular varieties to recommend and know where you can obtain them from? Might be worth asking if you haven’t already.

    @ Chris – re your question if I’d ever had a dog – the answer is no. I can tell you from personal experience that you can’t walk a parakeet. 😉

    And to both of you – thanks for the compliment!


  17. Yo, Chris – Moorabool station is really nice. Has a decided “English” flavor, to it. Reminds me of old, country parsonages. Train noise doesn’t bother me, much. Other than the whistles. When I lived in downtown Centralia, I was just a block from the main line. Any time someone got hit on the tracks (Darwin in action), they’d crank up the volume by a factor of 10. That would go on for awhile, until enough people complained. Here, I’m about a mile from the tracks, but there’s one train that sits and toots, sometimes for over a half an hour. I don’t know what that’s all about. Irritating as heck.

    I’ll let you in on a secret. Given the time and place, a hill fort would be a folly. :-). But you go for it. Make sure it has a tower. Draw bridge and moat with some of your crocodiles.

    If you Google “Collingwood Ingram’s gardens” and check images, there’s pictures of his gardens. Now, the estate is a care facility. Some flowering cherries are left, but not all that many. Wild flowering cherries are very hardy. The cultivated variety, not so much. The one’s that did best were grafted onto wild stock. They really need a lot of care an attention, and are not long lived. We have a flowering cherry, here at the Institution, that is full of small cherries. I was looking at it, the other day, and going “Hmmm.” Thinking of jam, or something. But I noticed that the birds won’t touch them. I think I’d best steer clear, too.

    I weeded, this morning. Mostly grass and clover. But I keep seeing these leaflets, of something. I wonder if they’re useful or pretty. So, I’m leaving them alone, for awhile. Also thinned the beets, so I have a pile of beet greens. Which I’ve never eaten, before. I figure a bit of butter and bacon, saute, salt and pepper. I also harvested a couple of elephant garlic and some of the Safeway stuff (Safewais garlicus?). I haven’t grown spaghetti squash. Julia gave me a couple, and they were fine. But I think a bit gimmicky. I’ll stick with Hubbard and pumpkins. But next year, I may grow some butternut. Julia gave me a butternut, and it’s been sitting on my counter, since last fall. The staying power, is unreal. Still not a soft spot, or blemish. Now, that’s a good keeper!

    Of course, I remember the Pinto. There were a lot of jokes around about Molotov Pintos. It’s interesting that a lot of industries do cost/benefit analysis on value of human life, vs profit. Cont.

    Cliff Mass is pretty excited about a storm moving in, on us. Nothing seen in this month, before.

  18. Cont. Stones vs Beatles? Star Trek or Star Wars? :-). I’d have to say, Beatles. There’s hardly a clinker in the bunch. And though the Stone’s really had some memorable tunes (you should hear me wail, “Angie!” Maybe, not.), I think their overall production is a bit, uneven. Never mind that Sir Mick and I share a birthday. (But he’s older.) Pink who?

    Oh, I don’t think Richter was on the spectrum. But he certainly had lots of other mental problems. I jotted down a few of his feelings, mostly from his notebooks and journals. “No inner confidence. “Low, self-esteem.” “Felt insignificant.” One time, he happened to take a small stumble, mounting some stairs to receive an award. “Felt sickened and degraded.” He bought a used cadillac (it was the only car available, where they had moved to. And, the room and air conditioning was great for his sick wife) and wondered if it was “a better car than we should have.” “Embarrassed by fame.” “Always alert to the reaction of his Pennsylvania Dutch Neighbors.” Went to dinner at a boarding house and paid great attention to what he wore, as he was “taking care to not appear too “high hat.”” So, in general, the guy was a mess. But, boy, could he write! The author of the biography mentioned that his major theme was “the tragedy of progress.” Well, yes.

    And, I’ll leave you with this. Ought to give you the fantods. Franken-coffee!



  19. Hello again
    I love solitary walking, have felt that all my life. Never meet anyone in the woods and rarely on the surrounding roads or on the beach. A lot of the beach is inaccessible at high tide and one does need to know what one is doing. The immediately surrounding road is in very poor shape. It is a dirt road and an ordinary saloon car would ground. We like the road to stay that way!
    It seems to be raining fine over the rest of the country so no water shortage at the moment. The Island and my pond remain dry; very odd.


  20. Hi Ollie,

    I am quite jealous – a three hour walk. However I would not like the leash. Leo and I do not do well with leashes though Doug and Margaret did get some that can extend quite far and as long as we don’t get tangled up together we will tolerate them if it means a longer walk in a new place. We go for a 20 minute walk in the early morning without leashes on our road. I often find tasty rodents in the tall grass and eat them in one gulp before they can be taken away. We both enjoy peeing on any coyote poop that was left overnight. We are required to sit by the side of the road if any vehicle comes by. We do like our walks but some new scenery would be nice. I have to say that I don’t think that Leo would last 3 hours as he is 12 now. I’ve noticed he’s slowing down lately. Sitting by the fire after being out on a cold day is the best. I wonder how you’d like the deep snow we get though.

    Your friend,

  21. Hi Chris,

    Don’t you get enough exercise with all the excavating? Inquiring minds want to know.


  22. Good evening!

    Bet Ollie enjoyed the relaxing by the fire bit best of all.

    The countryside is so deserted here that I think I could walk for 3 hours and see no one at all, except in a car or truck – the wonders of industrialised agriculture….. Most harvesting seems to get done at night, too.

    Plenty of ghosts though: the ditches they dug, hedges they planted, the fields they ploughed – we have the old ridge and furrow fields still preserved – mysterious earthworks in the woods,and of course quite a lot of 17th, 18th and 19th century cottages in which they were born and died. How could a type of human being disappear so completely? Most mysterious of all is the shaft of a Dark Age cross by the road: no inscriptions, just there…..

    The Viking Great Army stayed here one winter before riding on, but only burnt the place a century or so later. So the first visit was quite friendly really!

    Fifty Vikings in ditch – dead drunk? There’s an excellent Facebook page run by Maria Kvilhaug, ‘The Lady of the Labyrinth’ , a Norwegian who writes Viking Age novels (haven’t tried any) and comes up with all sorts of Scandinavian history and lore. Some good videos of Youtube, too, but she gave those up due to racist nutters leaving comments. Lots of interesting stuff on Scandinavian religion, tales from the sagas, etc.

    Eczema: I recommend using lemons, apparently an old Afghan remedy. You just have to trust an Old Afghan….

    Scrape off all the flesh from the rind, bash the white stuff gently to release the oils, and rub over the affected parts – instantly soothing, cooling, and stops the dreadful itching.

    From long observation, I find that flare ups are related to diet, and stress levels. I do hope that helps. And almond oil is an excellent treatment for dry skin.

    All the best


  23. Chris,

    Thanks for enjoying the humor. I had a weekend in which I was in rare form.

    Yes the diatomaceous dirt is a fossil of something or other. Sheesh! I initially spelled it “foosil”. Maybe foosils are what got fossilized?

    I’ve eaten rocket before. I lquite like it. I might grow a bit, but I fear that I’d have to dry most of it, as my wife doesn’t care for it. On the other hand, if it’s freshly picked, maybe…

    About the raspberries…yes. We eat as many fresh as we can and then freeze the rest and put them in breads or pancakes or just thaw them and eat them. I want to learn how to maybe make fruit leather out of them, too.

    As far as increasing the size of the raspberry patch goes, it will more than double in size once it has been cleaned up and rehabilitated. It also wouldn’t take much for me to grow more raspberries in the current raised beds and grow the remaining vegetables mostly in containers.

    Empires in general don’t seem equipped to fight guerilla wars. The USSR found that out in Afghanistan, as the USA apparently is refusing to acknowledge. The guerrilla aspect of Vietnam likely contributed to the problems there, also. Even the Mongol empires really couldn’t hold onto Afghanistan. It seems to me that these powers become powers by beating everybody else via that era’s conventional means and have no idea how to run a successful campaign against guerillas. Maybe it’s a blind spot that develops after too many conventional victories?

    I’ve got some yellow squash that seems to have germinated properly. And some green beans are developing, too. This could be one of the more exciting seasons in years for us. Of course, I grew mostly carrots and greens and potatoes for several years. The added diversity this year is enjoyable.


  24. Hi Claire, Lewis, Inge, Xabier and DJ,

    It is the dreaded mid-week hiatus. Promise to speak tomorrow, but until then, keep on keeping on (whatever that means)!

    Lewis – Made a spontaneous choice to go to the cinema tonight to see the film ‘Yesterday’. Couldn’t resist the pull of a Richard Curtis film, and I enjoyed the film thoroughly. Charming and entertaining, but I warn you – it has elements of a rom com, and I hear you bro, you enjoy them as much as I enjoy musicals! Hehe! The film was very good though, lots of fun.

    On the way home tonight, the heavens opened. I’d be surprised if there were not reports of flash flooding a bit to the south of here. 3/5ths of inch of rain was recorded here, but the mountain range occasionally deflects the very worst of the weather that surrounding areas receive. All the same, I might get the torch and have a check of the excavations though, just in case…

    Hmm, yes. Very funny, but you are correct it is a bit Star Trek versus Star Wars. If I had to pick between one or the other, I’d go the with the Beatles too.

    Ouch. From what you’ve described it does sound as if somebody did a job on him in the past. On the other hand Conrad may have been a character of extremes? If I’d met him – other than the words he presents in his books – I’d have a clearer idea of his character. Character is an old fashioned concept don’t you reckon, but it is no less true for being so. Anyway, I reckon some people take things too far, but then to add a bit of spice to my arm chair theorising, I have noticed that some cultures take the feelings of being hard done by as a lifestyle choice / badge of honour.

    I’m exhausted and my brain hurts after having driven slowly through the walls of water…



  25. @ Lew – I clicked on the link for the beanless coffee. First thing that hit my eye was that the scientist used to work for a company called Soylent. Really??? What kind of mind would name a food company Soylent??? What kind of scientist would work for them, and what would he create under that brand name???? And then I read the article. We-can-do-anything true believers. No thanks. Even if I liked coffee, I’d leave this person’s creations strictly alone.


  26. Yo, Chris – Rain, here, too. But not like you’re getting. Didn’t have to water, this morning. First time, in a long time. It’s pretty much been rain, off and on, since yesterday. But, nothing to write home, about. Not much wind.

    I guess Richter was pretty personable, in person. At least with people he considered his equals or “just common folk.” He worked at providing a good front. But also, to the wider world, presented a facade of being shy.

    The other day I was in the library, and spotted “Edwardian Farm”, on the shelf. I saw it years ago, and decided to give it another whirl. Watched the first episode, last night. One hour. They are in Devon (next door to Cornwall) and are recreating the period, 1900-1914. There’s a section on breaking up granite blocks, and turning them into feed bins. I guess the prison, at Dartmoor, used to set the convicts to doing that. There’s also a section on how to make lime, out of limestone. There are chickens! How to clean a chimney. Drop a rooster, down the flu! But they decided on the less … cruel (?) holy clump.

    I picked up Delores Claiborne, today. Will probably watch it, tonight. Lew

  27. Hi Claire,

    Well yeah, a parakeet on a lead would be considered to be rather an unusual and eccentric pet walking experience. Mind you, a month or two back I saw a bloke walking in on the streets of inner Melbourne with a parrot on his shoulder. All very pirate-like!




  28. Hi Inge,

    Is your beach rocky, sandy, or a mix of the two? Have you noticed that high tide is getting ever so slightly higher? Or are the erosive effects of the ocean concealing the ongoing movement of the shoreline?

    I’m with you on keeping the road in poor condition. The editor initially used to suggest that she would like it if the road was better maintained, but has now changed her mind due to the realisation of the onslaught of tourism. We once lived in a touristy area and it was neither a relaxing or quiet experience.

    Not sure what that means about your weather, if only because I would have assumed that being a maritime climate, regular rainfall would be a given.

    In the UK film: “Yesterday”, which I watched at the cinema last night, I was amazed to see how dry your country had become. I assume that it was filmed last summer, but that is as dry as I would see it here during a very long and hot dry summer.

    The wind is blowing and rain is intermittently falling here. Brr!



  29. Hi Lewis,

    I eventually tracked down the reason why some comments ended up in the trash basket. There was a setting for comments which sent them as a default to the trash basket if there were two or more interweb links. I’ve now altered the setting so that it now automatically trashes a comment if it has three or more links. Some of the spam comments promoting medications (!) have many multiple links, so I can see the value in the setting. But we now have a limit of two links per comment, and we’re hardly likely to go past that limit. Maybe…

    It is a beautifully constructed railway station (now a private residence), and the line appears well maintained and used regularly for freight. My understanding is that the line brings grains to the port. Of course for that to happen, we’d have to be exporting grains in the first place.

    We’ll never really know whether people being hit and killed by trains is an act of Darwinism, or is it suicide? Dunno. Probably a bit of both. The state government has been very busy indeed over the past few years removing intersections where trains and vehicles intersect. A relief for the train drivers I can assure you. Sometimes the train now goes under the road, and at other times the road goes under the train. As you can imagine, such a construction is unbelievably complex because often the roads and rail lines can only be out of action for a short while before people start cracking the sads.

    Public transport is such a strange thing, because it is quite good down here, but by no means can you get from one place to another. And therein lies the nub of the problem. Some of the trendier inner city councils are removing car parking at a furious rate and replacing it with bike paths. It looks like an ideological conceit to me. All very well and good if you live close enough to ride a bike in the first place (i.e. the people who voted them in). And at the same time a lot of apartments seem to be constructed with limited car parking, so it is a bit of a bind. Some clients are very hard for me to get to, so over the past year or so I’ve been having to walk further and often up to half an hour to forty minutes. Fortunately I like walking, but sometimes I’m like a pack horse, and very occasionally I have to park in dodgy places like the mostly empty shopping mall… Car technology isn’t just the car, it is the whole system which includes every step and function along the way. I’m sure time will sort the whole problem out, but in the meantime…

    Thanks for the good advice about the hill fort, and I’ll take that on board and consider how it all looks in the greater scheme of things. Certainly, I’ll have to consider some response. Do you have any advice for me? My gold is in the plants and knowledge.

    Interesting. I hadn’t known that about the difference between cultivated and wild flowering cherries. I read a reference to cherries in Washington DC in the Plant Explorer book and apparently the trees are tended and replaced quite regularly. For your interest, I’ve noticed that the trees readily volunteer, so I’m letting a few of them go just to observe what happens. Are wild cherries referred to as sour cherries? I believe the fruit used to be preserved and eaten somehow, but for some reason I have a nagging memory which suggests that it was a Germanic thing. Dunno. I suspect the birds will get them when they’re a bit more ripe! The Latin name is a dead giveaway for the plants.

    Clover is a good sign! And beet greens are tasty and useful food items. The greens are a bit slow growing here at the moment, and I miss them. All those yummy food items + the greens just need the addition of some grated cheese and maybe a dash of pepper. 🙂 Nice work with the shop-lic bulbs! 😉

    Fair enough about the squash, they are a bit small, but have such thick skins they keep remarkably well. Butternut are my favourite, and yeah they’re amazing keepers, but when they go – woosh… Queensland blue varieties are really hardy keepers too. And you might enjoy the colour? I reckon it is a bit of a stretch to call them blue.

    Insurance would be rife with those sorts of conundrums. Imagine working as an actuary? Hey, the computer geeks writing the software for self driving whatever’s are having to confront that problem. Most companies go about such things quietly for obvious reasons, but not the self driving whatever programmers – they’re right out there in public.

    Ha! How good were the names for the storms: Jaws and the sequel Jaws 2. Stay dry and it is good news for your forests.

    Very funny! Hmm. Well, had the Star Wars franchise jumped the shark before it was sold? These things can happen. And I’m hoping that the Star Trek franchise can break away into a new era of story telling with the Picard series. I get a bit sick of stories of the Federation being threatened and the plucky crew of the Enterprise saving the day despite getting hammered along the way (and possibly also losing the ship). How many rebuilds can the Federation afford? Although I’d have to say that Death Stars would cost a whole bunch more to construct. And to think I was suggesting that the Romans would have faced increasing costs with their heavy cavalry.

    The next time I hear the Stones I’m going to keep in mind what you wrote. I’d never considered the matter from that point of view. Mind you, the efforts that the Beatles put into their music probably eventually tipped things into unsustainable land for the members and they may have had to ‘carry that weight’ of expectations.

    Thanks for considering my speculation of the author. As I said, I hadn’t met him so I can’t really know. But the obsession bit and serious attention to detail (minutiae wouldn’t be unfair) was what really pushed my thoughts in that direction. Yeah, code word for ‘a bit of a mess’ can also be ‘hard work’ from a social perspective. Of course there is also the possibility in that he wanted to obtain a pure experience of people for the benefit of his writing – and that maybe why he went to such lengths? But on the other hand he might have just been hard work and could have used some booze and/or drugs, but whatever would the neighbours ever think! 🙂 Far out. If ever I want people to disclose themselves, I just act dumb, and inevitably out it all flows. I learned that trick with debt collection all those years ago. A fascinating insight into the human condition.

    Wrong. Nooooo! Did you notice that the coffee guys were the same folks that brought soylent into the world? And the test feedback dude apparently enjoyed sugar and cream in his coffee. Hmm. Mind you, I see people adding soy milk, oatmeal milk, and almond milk into their coffees. One place I frequent has a sign saying they only make full fat milk with full strength coffee – and despite the sign I see people arguing with the staff. It ain’t a democracy that place, and I quite enjoy their take on the world.

    Did the rain pick up as the jaws of Jaws begin to bite? 🙂 The weather here has turned filthy and there shall be no digging for at least the next week. The excavations appear to be holding up well (so far). And talk of a next and even higher terrace appear to be progressing to the ‘this will happen’ stage.

    A good use for convicted felons. Hmm, I’ll check out the link tomorrow evening.



  30. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, nah! Hehe! What a great question. For the past four days I have mostly sat on my backside for paid work, so both I and the editor enjoy spending long hours outside in the fresh air doing physical activity. And that is despite how physically demanding the work is. It is hard to explain, it is a bit like meditation and it is really good for mental health, as you just sort of focus on the job you’re doing and get in the zone. And I find it to be quite good for creativity. Sometimes I get my best ideas during such work time. Accounting work is very much like dealing with complicated abstractions and sometimes it is very much like doing mental gymnastics, and I enjoy my time not doing that level of thinking.

    Hope that makes some sense?



  31. Dear Salve,

    Cordial greetings and tail wags to you my friend. Chris has told me much of yours and your side kick Leo’s adventures. Your company would be appreciated on a long walk, and this talk of scoffing down rodents sounds good to me. Food is good, and if you shared a rodent with me, I would not hesitate to share with you a choice marsupial chocolate.

    For a three hour walk, I can tolerate the lead as it can extend out quite a ways away. I tell you this friend Salve, I spotted several forest kangaroos on the walk and wanted to introduce myself to them, but the lead put an end to such thoughts.

    I applaud yours and Leo’s diligence with marking out your territory, and gnash my teeth at the thought that the coyotes failure to respect your natural superiority, because of course you two get to enjoy the benefits of sitting by the fire and they don’t. How could it be otherwise?

    Sorry to hear that your side kick Leo is getting on in years. And 12 is a venerable age.

    This talk of snow makes for uncomfortable listening. Hmm, considering my options when snow makes an appearance, I’m thinking that it would be best to be inside in front of the fire.

    Further tail wags to you my friend!


  32. Hi Claire,

    I’m rapidly running out of time to reply this evening, but just wanted to add in a note that solyent is indeed a thing in some circles. If you are interested, here is a link to a short radio news program from a few years ago that I listened to on the subject: The future of food.

    It might seem as if my brain is a steel trap, but alas the truth is otherwise, and it is just that some subjects sort of stand out more than others. It would be interesting to hear if the people are continuing to consume the stuff.

    I have heard that lab grown meat products cost more than the stuff that grows outside in the sun… Yuk! And hardly surprising.

    Cheers and gotta bounce.


  33. Hi Chris,

    Manflu update: Pretty much gone now. Occasional cough. About 10 days of abject suffering. Mrs Damo got it a few days after me, so will still be a bit under the weather for the flight tomorrow night. You may be shocked to discover there was no additional sympathy for my plight, even when she was struck down with the same bug and realised the full gravity of the condition. Oh well, what can I say, the struggle is real?

    I wasn’t sure if you had read the Foundation series. Pretty good stuff! I know what you are saying about 1950s sensibilities, although I thought it was pretty tame in Foundation. Much more prevalent in “Earth Abides”, although the main character does think he is intellectually superior to everyone else (not just women).

    Thank you Inge for the suggestion 🙂 It is a great book, I accidentally kept reading till 1am the other night. And on a school night as well!

    I have not read Decline and Fall, although I did listen to a 200 episode History of Rome podcast which draws on it a lot. The podcast is great, but I am still interested in getting a copy of Decline at some point. Maybe even reading it! Do you have any large tomes on your bookshelf which have never made it to the active reading list?

    Your 3 hour walk sounds pretty good. That is probably my limit for a walk, after 3 hours I definitely have had enough and thoughts start to drift to a meal, or beer even! The other day, on the way back from Wellington, we stopped at Tongariro National Park in the centre of the north island.


    We did a short walk, then drove up to one of the ski fields (which had no snow cover to speak of, even though it is July). The whole mountain is a lava-boulder field. I think they filmed the Mordor scenes from Lord of the Rings in the area?

    Have you done the Mt Bogong walk, I think it is not far from you? Mrs Damo and I did it 15 years ago in summer. Still cold at the top, and very aggressive snakes hassled us the entire walk up (about 3 hours return from memory). I checked the log book in one of the hut’s, and it was full of tourist comments also complaining about the snakes. So it wasn’t just us!


  34. Hi, Chris!

    I like your title, and what dreamy photos. The one with Ollie walking next to you is great because it shows how really large he is.

    What an interestingly different forest that one is from yours. And thank you for the history lesson. There are few things more interesting than history.

    Ollie – you look so wise. Could this be deceiving . . . ? Well, you must be as you quickly took measure of those dratted Bearded Collies and set them straight.

    I loved seeing the beautiful garden seat again. The enclosure behind it and everything else looks so trim that it would win a prize at the county fair, could you get it there. That is so much dirt to move (while keeping it neat!). Very nice – more rocks!

    Those are lovely winter geraniums. I never did find any scented ones, but my ordinary ones are doing wonderfully this summer. And the nasturtiums, which some years do nothing much, are very pretty, too. It is a good year for zinnias, also.


  35. @ Lew:

    From last week: Forget the balloons. Mr. Squirrel seemed to think that I had set up a party for him and doubled down on eating tomatoes, even with all those balloons in the way. And I had been tying them on the vines in the early evening (in the shade) only to find them deflated once the sun hit them the next day. Now he is carrying the really big tomatoes over the 8 ft. gate, which can be kind of funny because a lot of the time he barely gets up to the top and then drops it and is chagrined, I am sure, when it often drops back on the inside of the garden.

    And say it isn’t so – that you have squirrels near your garden, fried or not. I never thought of the idea that some of our many powers outages – especially in nice weather – might be due to fried squirrel. Sheesh – and deer, too, our other bane. Don’t you realize that princesses have more important things to do than bark at deer? Tsk, tsk.

    What a charming idea for a hanging basket. You must cheer up your fellow inhabitants a great deal.


  36. Chris:

    My first car bought new was a Ford Pinto, in 1975. My grandparents chipped in on that and my parents paid the rest; I was 18 and I loved that little car. We hadn’t heard of the gas tank issue. I drove it for about 8 years without any major issues and passed it on to the relative of a friend. Maybe they were okay cars, if you didn’t get rear-ended.


  37. @ Claire:

    I am with the others who mentioned your comment over at Ecosophia. Beautifully written and to-the-point, a perfect illustration. I recommend that everyone read it. It is at July 4, 12:38 pm.


  38. @ All:

    I should have mentioned that Claire’s comment was at last week’s Ecosophia post.


  39. Hello again
    Regular rainfall was a given but not for the Island at present.
    The beach is shingle in the main. But it is large rocks covered in seaweed at one end. These are dangerous, it would be very easy to trap a foot or slip and break something. These can only be bypassed when the tide is full out. There is also clay into which people can become stuck. Son knows where to walk across a creek through this, I don’t. Fewer and fewer people seem to understand that there are dangers. The rocks are actually boulders which appear as the sea erodes the slipping shoreline. I have not noticed any sign of the sea rising.
    The holiday resort brought in vast amounts of sand for the beach. It all disappeared with the following high tide!!! I am told that this was done for photographs for advertising.


  40. @ Claire – The two patches of potatoes were grown out of seed potatoes from last year. One is feral, the other languishes :-(.

    I also planted some blue potatoes, that someone had given me. But, I think they were too far gone. So, I put in some from the local grocery store, organic food section. No dice.

    Ah, well. Looks like I’ll get a good crop of russets, from one patch. Enough for me, at least. Lew

  41. Yo, Chris – Most of the time, people hit on the tracks are either drunks, or, people with devices, stuck in their ears. The only suicide I remember, was a bizarre story. Some fundy Mormon with numerous wives, had pursued a young lady to our town. He was rejected, and threw himself on the tracks. There was probably more to the story, but only that bare bones narrative, came out.

    I think, new societies, here, there, tend to be more car centric. The built landscape has bent to the car. Older cities (Europe, etc.) with strong property rights were already well established, so the car had to make certain concessions. A theory, at least.

    I have always been attracted to turrets and towers (odd given my dislike of heights.) We have a few old brick silos, scattered around our county. There are plenty of pictures on Google images. I always thought they’d be a really cool dwelling.

    I don’t know anything about sour cherries. But, I figure they’re some native variety. Throw in enough sugar, and they’re probably very tasty. Just look at cranberries :-).

    I think we’ve talked, before, about Elephant Garlic, not being garlic. It’s closer to leeks and onions. I looked into the nutritional value. All the goodness of garlic, with the added goodness of onions and leeks. I got curious about some little bulblets (corms) clinging to the roots. I did a bit of research, and found that if I plant them, next year they will be “rounds”. No cloves. Plant the rounds, and the year after they will be cloved. So, kind of a biennial. They’ve been going great guns, when I just plant the cloves. But I may do a test patch of the corms, just for fun.

    I’ve read a couple of articles on actuaries. At least the one’s I’ve read about are very sober people, who take the job of deciding how much a human life is worth, in a very serious way. Kind of like funeral directors.

    Even though it seemed all tragic when the Beatles broke up, as a group, the timing was probably pretty good. Bow out at the top of your game. It’s like the author who writes a boffo first novel. It’s all down hill, from there.

    Coffee Nazis? Good for them. This “have it your way” nonsense, has gone entirely too far. I never watched Seinfeld, but there was a guy called “The Soup Nazi” who became kind of a meme. Somewhere, recently, I ran into a comment about the nightmare of a chef, who gets 15 people in just before closing, each with their own food foible. I guess it’s “how bad do you need the money?”

    I watched “Delores Claiborne”, last night. LOL. I had remembered more of the book, than the movie. The movie’s set up, is a little different. Still, parts were very hard to watch. That’s what the fast forward button is for.

    I’ve been reading “The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books” (Wilson-Lee, 2019). Christopher Columbus’s son, had an obsession. To build the most extensive library, in the world. This isn’t long after the invention of movable type. But he collected, EVERYTHING. Pamphlets, broadsides, maps, erotica, satire. If it was printed on paper, he wanted it. I guess he also collected for his garden, but I haven’t gotten to that chapter, yet.

    Bad Lew! I decided to take a break from Columbus, and read just a chapter from “Eagles’s Brood.” Oh, dear. Sucked right in. All I’ll say is, “Oh, wicked day!” It’s told, so far, from Merlin’s point of view. Merlin, the early days. :-). I WILL put it down, and return to Columbus. And, “Jello: A Biography.” Lew

  42. Hi Xabier,

    Once Ollie knew we weren’t going to dump him in the forest, he rather enjoyed his big day out. He’s a very fastidious dog in some respects because if I’m near to the fire, he’ll relax and enjoy the heat, but if I move to another room, he’ll follow me. For better or for worse, is how some would put it.

    Really? Well, I guess not many people work in agriculture these days, and that is how it goes. I’ve seen the big GPS driven tractors with their bright lights. I prefer more human scaled endeavours, but I’m possibly a bit old fashioned in some respects. The need to work such hours probably is indicative as to how precarious the skills in the area have become.

    The industrial revolution needed workers, and they were found aplenty in fertile fields, so perhaps that is one explanation? One of the trees here is very old and it bears the scar of a canoe that was once cut from it. The sharp stones used to cut the canoe would have come from a nearby quarry which also provided excellent flint for millennia. Thus the story of us humans goes around and around, and it is there for people who choose to see.

    If they burnt the place a century later, I’d have to suggest that there is a story there?

    Good for her, but perhaps a modicum of control over the comments wouldn’t be a bad idea and that forum is not known for providing such a facility. Thanks for mentioning the site.

    The old Afghans are probably onto something as the lemons increase the acidity of the skin. I grow plenty of citrus trees here, so citric acid is not a problem. I may have to grow a castor oil tree as the stuff seems to work. The oil is very heavy in Vitamin E.

    In this particular case, I can point to stress as the culprit, sad to say. Not avoiding confrontations, does not mean that one enjoys such an experience. 😉



  43. Hi DJ,

    You go! I hear you about that. Charm is a similar skill. Sometimes you’ve got it, and other times, well, let’s just say that the results are a bit wide of the mark! But it is a nice feeling to be working a crowd properly. 🙂

    You already knew about the fossils. 😉 Hey, you started this… As I read your amusing comment about “foosils”, for some reason a repressed memory popped (or perhaps more correctly pooped!) into my mind and the word ‘foosball’ appeared. Perhaps you could replace the little human players with dinosaurs? The places we go with this language thing!

    Do you use drying as a preserving method? Other than corn and almonds, I haven’t tried that technique with greens. Rocket is of the mustard family so it does have a small amount of zing to the taste, but I quite like that. Had a good dose of hot English mustard slathered in a hamburger the other day, and they knew how to do things properly – brain pain! Like horseradish brain pain.

    Fruit leathers are a good idea. I forget the details! Of course, we also dehydrate a lot of tomatoes for consumption later in the year (like now) and the same dehydrator can produce fruit leathers – although I’ve never tried such a technique.

    Out of curiosity, what do you mean by cleaning up and rehabilitating a raspberry patch? I usually cut the canes down to about a third of their size and remove the dead canes at the end of each season. And then apply a good dose of compost.

    Some guerrilla operations can be circumvented, but the extent of involvement with the local population and their affairs may be beyond what governments wish to get themselves involved in. As a successful take on that story: Malayan Emergency.

    Yellow squash are rather tasty, and they can grow quite large. Good to read that you are enjoying a bountiful season, and diversity in a garden is everything. 🙂 Did you get any of the rain that Cliff Mass forecast?



  44. Hi Damo,

    10 days of abject suffering sounds far more than the average cold, so it may well be that the dreaded influenza virus struck you low. Still, suffering through and coming out the other side more or less intact is better than the alternative. I read that a few years back, the 1919 strain – which incidentally killed 50 million people – was included in the flu shot. Sorry to hear that Mrs Damo is under the weather for the flight. Been there and done that… Blood vessels in my nose burst at the sharp change in air pressure. Tissues aren’t a bad idea and some chemical to dry up the mucus production. I am shocked! Well, all I can say is that empathy is a skill, and as a tool it might do with some honing? Hope Mrs Damo is OK?

    Oh yeah, I read a huge number of the Asimov Foundation series, but way back in the day. I can barely recall it now other than the theme of reliance on too much technology that the locals had forgotten all about. And the author was obsessed with robots. Perhaps he thought that they were coming to take out jobs and women?

    From time to time, we all encounter people who feel that they are somehow smarter than everyone around them. You know, such people make for very dull company and there is a mental pathology that lines up really nicely with such thinking. As a hint: if people think that, they’re usually really very wrong.

    I’ve started reading Eagles Brood. Have you begun this fascinating book? Gibbons was not light on for commentary, so if you do encounter a copy of the several volumes, well, you’ll be busy for a long while! Still what else will you do on your flight, other than console the long suffering Mrs Damo? Hehe! Hopefully the films are good? We watched the film ‘Yesterday’ a few nights ago at the cinema and it was most enjoyable.

    Walking is my sport! Or it might be digging, I’m not really sure… We’ve walked for days and days. It is a pleasant activity, and us humans evolved to be able to do that for long periods of time. Mate, the images were massively scenic, as only NZ can do!

    Yeah, Mount Bogong is at an elevation that is almost double the height above sea level that the highest point of this mountain range is. It is a fair distance between here and there, but the Bogong moths most certainly live in this mountain range. On a summer evening, they’re not hard to find. The moths are quite edible and have a high fat content, but I have it on good authority that they taste like eating moth.

    The snakes you encountered would have been possibly tiger snakes. They have bad attitudes. Is this the sort of reptile that you want to encounter at altitude in a remote spot? Possibly not. They’re quite deadly too.



  45. Hi Pam,

    Ollie is a big dog. He’s asleep behind me on the green couch and is twitching as he’s having a dream. I hope he is dreaming of hunting rabbits? His dreams are not always nice, and sometimes he makes distressed sounds in his sleep. At such times, I tend to wake him gently and he usually gives me a relieved look, and then promptly falls back to sleep.

    Those that don’t learn their history are bound to repeat it. I would have liked to have made that saying up, but alas I cannot make the claim. The forest there really is different now, but in a hundred years time, I’m pretty sure it will look vastly different. The soil and rainfall are better there than here, so I suspect the forest will bounce back nicely given enough time. Most of the big trees can live for three or four hundred years. But the bigger trees I saw on the walk barely had fifty years growth on them. When I look out at the view from here, those are the trees and forest that I see.

    I can tell you that Ollie was quite miffed that the Bearded Collies (with their fancy top knots and bows) believed that they were the superior canine. He remarked to me later that it was the bows and top knots that made the two dogs so defensive about their place in the pecking order. Ollie may indeed be wise because he also said that if the two dogs were cool, they’d just look at him and say: “You may admire our bows and top knots, now!”

    Getting all that stuff to the county fair, would be alas beyond my resources. Glad you enjoyed the photos. The excavations have survived the heavy rains of the past few days too. We like neat! And one of the best things about new infrastructure is that if it is well constructed and all set up and ready to go, all that needs to be done is to maintain it. Probably going to plant the tomatoes and eggplant up there this year.

    Great to hear that the geraniums and nasturtiums are doing well for you this year. They’re both hardy plants and real givers. Zinnias are tough as. I do hope that you have a wide variety of flowers from yours?

    Yeah, not to disparage the Pinto as it was well suited to fulfil its duties (and I speak as someone who is not a fan of large vehicles). As far as I understand the story, the problem lay with some sort of fuel system design issue. Still, I’d have to suggest that the culture the vehicle represented was not in line with the dominant culture, and that perhaps made the machine an easy/soft target when other vehicles of the time may not have passed such testing and scrutiny.



  46. Hi Inge,

    Yeah it is funny how variable the climate can be. I have no idea what conditions the future seasons will bring. Do you use your pond as a store of water with which to use? Or is it an ornamental pond which the local wildlife can utilise?

    We stayed at a cottage down the coast last night. A storm blew through and I woke during the night on several occasions to hear some of the strongest winds that I’d ever experienced. At some points I could feel the structure of the cottage flexing in response to the winds. A disturbed nights sleep to be sure. The next morning was high tide and the sandy beach was nowhere to be seen and the oceans waves were lapping against the lone remaining dune.

    Thanks for the description of your shale beach with rocks. You are an accomplished swimmer, but not everyone can swim, and we have rocky beaches (but not shale beaches) at some points along the coast. Fishermen get washed off rocks and an unfeasible amount of people drown down here. If a freak wave takes you, or a strong rip takes you, it is very hard for people to remember that they have to relax and conserve their energy and then swim across the rip.

    Ha! All for a few bucks, I guess. As someone who mostly knows beaches to be sandy, I can see the erosive actions of higher tides due to the expanding oceans. Decades ago the beach that I frequent looked vastly different. You could even see the remnants of one of the old concrete wharf footings when the tides were low. It has been a long while since I saw those things.



  47. Hi Lewis,

    Far out! Several cold fronts of Antarctic origins (or at least the wilds of the Southern Ocean) have battered the state since Wednesday. All my big talk of early spring is now gone, and we are most definitely in the grip of winter. The forecast suggests snow may be possible here tomorrow morning, but I’ll believe it when I see it – but all the same I’ll keep an eye out for the fluffy white stuff.

    Had an urge to visit the ocean and so we stayed down the coast last night. One of the cold fronts pounded the area and the winds were epic. I can see why wind turbines do well along coastlines! The cottage shook and flexed as the winds hammered the area. I don’t live in a windy area and so the noise of the strong wind gusts hitting the cottage woke me up on several occasions. Some of the outdoor furniture was blown around too. After breakfast (scrambled eggs on sour dough toast with mushrooms + a very large coffee) we headed home and the oceans waves were washing against the lone dune standing between the lower commercial points of the town and the ocean. I saw no sign of the sandy beach that I’m sure lay below the waves. Low tide will show the sand, but still the power of the ocean was epic to behold. Not a night to be doing the ferry crossing between the mainland and Tasmania…

    The rain on the other hand has been good and the water tanks are filling up nice and fast.

    A long time ago I read that in the middle east the multiple wives thing was something for the very rich and the very poor on the basis that nobody else could provide for the wives (and their families) expectations. I don’t get the desire to want for multiple wives, it seems like a lot of trouble. The editor once watched a show about some Mormon family with multiple wives and she remarked that most of the problems encountered were of their own making. What is the Mormons stance on a wife having multiple husbands? The old timers used to quip: what is good for the goose is good for the gander! Hehe!

    Anyway, there is an actor living up on the northern side of the mountain range and years ago he was in a film about a plumber. It was a good film. At one point the actor and his dad were discussing the actors older brother (in the film) and the dad said, “Son. You always burn your first batch of scones. And there goes mine.” Perhaps the Mormon on the train tracks was attempting to get away from his burned scones? You never really get much in depth reporting on local matters these days – and rarely do you find out the: what happened next story.

    I haven’t been to Europe and seen those older cities so I can’t make a comparison. In Asia, the car is ubiquitous, but there is also a far higher percentage of small vehicles like scooters on the road. By and large I saw very few vehicle accidents in such countries. As a passenger, the roads in India and Nepal scared the daylights out of me because there is a ‘might is right’ culture on the narrow roads. At least the trucks were covered in bright paint and festive tinsel and that would have been consoling in an accident.

    Oooo! Old brick works are amazing buildings. Imagine the effort involved in creating the old kilns? I read the other month that we are running short of locally available clay which is suitable to make bricks. On a note of sheerest coincidence, I went past an historic brick works today: Anakie Brickworks.

    Fair enough. There are actually sour cherries that are less sweet and smaller varieties of the Prunus Avium fruit which are so enjoyable. Cranberries are hardly a sweet berry, thus the sugar additions. You rarely encounter the fruit down here, and black currants make a good substitution. I’m not sure that I enjoy the taste of cranberries.

    A fascinating plant, and the promise of a milder flavour sounds good to me. Yeah, the little bulbils are worth planting too. I’ll be interested to hear if your experiments with them produce new bulbs.

    Yeah, you’d have to be a very serious person – and very good at math – to want to become an actuary, and I have no doubts that they have to comport themselves with a degree of seriousness and dignity befitting their profession. Some trades and professions make that requirement of their practitioners. Accountants are usually considered dull for a reason. And funeral directors, can you imagine marketing such a business? There was a business in this state that had the name: Lifestyle Funerals. I did a double take the first time I saw that name. Whatever works, I guess and it must because I see they are still in business.

    I tend to agree with you about the band breaking up. The antics and goings on during the final album did not make for encouraging reading, so it is best to finish on a high note. Of course for us mere mortals who haven’t achieved great success, well, there is always a chance that things can be on the up. Imagine if your career high point was when you were 14 and a childhood actor…

    Never watched Seinfeld, but yeah I applaud the soup nazi! He was onto something. You know, I’m pretty easy going when ordering food (I recall scenes from Fight Club for a start), but you know people who make all sorts of demands on staff at restaurants and cafes are just ‘hard work’. There was a song from 1984 which shows a lot of the Saturday night scenes from what I’m guessing is Oxford St in Sydney. It is a very colourful scene. Anyway at about a minute into the song, you can hear some bouncer saying to a patron: “If you don’t want to come in what are you standing there for twenty minutes”. Cold Chisel – Saturday Night. It is possibly not a grammatically correct use of the English language, but yeah. My point is, the customer isn’t always right, and I suspect we’ve gone too far down that road and it is hard on staff in such establishments.

    Ah yes, fast forward buttons are a necessity. You have to be careful of what images get put into your brain. And the film covered some complicated ground.

    Hehe! Was the son well financed from his father’s explorations? I’m assuming so.

    Coincidence strikes again for I too have begun Eagles Brood last night as the storm howled all around outside the cottage. A tidy metaphor for where I feel the story is going. I never realised that Uther was such a flawed character. Is that your understanding from other sources of the Arthurian story? I hear you, this book series is beyond good.

    I read a really great line from the second book that I wanted to discuss, but now can’t find the book “The Singing Sword”. How naughty was Seneca? A dude not to cross lightly.



  48. Hello again
    Is shale different from shingle?
    You have mentioned your canoe tree before and I am puzzled. How near are you to water? I had assumed that the canoes would be cut from trees that were very close to the point from which they could be launched.
    Aren’t the unsweet cherries the Morellos? Jam is made from them and I don’t like the taste.
    I thought that Islam only permitted 4 legal wives and they had to be treated equally. The Tibetans had polyandry but usually the woman was wed to brothers.


    @ the Americans
    I am reading a romance novel by an American authoress. The heroine is eating kippers for breakfast and is waving the little fish on her fork. I think that she is on her third! What do Americans think that kippers are?


  49. @ Lew – it turns out that it’s not really possible for small-scale garden potato growers like us to replant potatoes that we raised for seed potatoes. Carol Deppe explains what the professional growers do and what we need to do in order to raise good seed potatoes in her book The Resilient Gardener. To begin with, it requires growing a lot more potato plants than either of us do, in order to screen them for diseases. Then there is the storage issue, which may not be as much of a problem for you since your summer is cooler than mine and your autumn longer, so you might be able to grow a fall crop. But I can’t get a potato to store from July or August, when I harvest them, until the following late March when it’s time to plant them. It doesn’t work to grow fall potatoes here because the soil is too hot when they need to be started. So I decided to let the professionals grow the seed potatoes; it’ll keep them in business. At least you’re getting some potatoes and learning as you grow. It won’t be long till mine are ready to harvest. I tried a new (to me) variety this year; we’ll see how it is.


  50. @ Pam – thanks for the compliment!

    My nasturtiums are doing much better than usual; they are still alive and flowering, which is rarely the case this far into summer. I think it was because June was cool and wet. July has been hotter and drier so far, so they are languishing, but at least still alive.

    Instead of trying to grow sunflowers this year – something is munching on the seedlings as I write – I should have grown zinnias, which always do well for me as they are doing for you. Plus they seem to be of far less interest to whatever is eating the sunflowers. Something to put on my list of things to do next year.


  51. @ Pam – So far, the squirrels and deer, haven’t been a problem here, this year. I really think it’s because we’ve got so many people coming and going on that side of The Institution. I also saw a feral cat, last night.

    We do put up a certain amount of fencing, lay nets, barricades, against the deer. And, I really think they prefer the roses, to anything they can Hoover up, in the gardens.

    Party on, squirrels! Lew

  52. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder, you better do a bit of research about those castor beans. Can be highly toxic. Illegal to plant, in some areas. The powder has been used in some terrorist attacks.

    Nasturtiums can be so pretty. My neighbor, Eleanor, has a water fall of them, orange and yellow, pouring out of her garden box, like a waterfall. She’s concerned as they are infested with aphid. I meant to look into controls. Besides lady bugs. I’ve been seeing a lot of dragon flies, about. They go after a lot of pests.

    For the third day in a row, I haven’t had to water. It’s rained, but scattered gentle stuff, just enough to keep the plants happy. No wind to speak of. I watch my Jerusalem artichokes. They’re my canary in the coal mine. If they begin to wilt, I know it’s time to water, everything. Squash is beginning to blossom. I’ll see if any pollinators, show up. I pruned back some of the leaves, this morning, to let a bit of sun in, for other things. Saw some tiny, benign wasps, working the bachelor buttons, yesterday.

    That sounds like you had quit an exciting time at the beech. Not as exciting as Greece. 7 dead, there.

    Fundamentalist Mormons have been completely disowned by their “main line” brothers. At least, that’s the party line. Imagine, though. For every extra wife, you acquire and extra mother-in-law!. :-). Maybe that’s why so many of the old timers, tended to marry sister acts. Multiple husbands? Horrors, no! Offends the patriarchy.

    Couldn’t link to the brickworks, article. Server error … runtime error, etc. etc.. Techno babble, knee deep. Seems like every town of any size, in western Washington had a brick works. In Vancouver, Washington, I got to spend a night, with a friend, watching a kiln. When I moved here, There was an abandoned brick yard. Huge stack, kilns. They tore it all down, a few years later. When I used to do a bit of rock hunting, around here, I often ran into banks of grey clay, in the streams.

    We do have quit a cranberry industry, in this State. Every year, in the fall, there are bags of the whole berries, kicking around. Last year, and the year before, I did a bit of refrigerator jam. I really like the tart taste.

    I haven’t got to Columbus’s and his son’s finances, yet. But after paying off the crown, he had a bit of gold, brought back from the New World.

    Glad you’re into “The Eagle’s Brood.” You can call off your minions now. The one’s that kicked in my door, shouting, “Hands in the air! Step away from the book! :-). Now you can go over to Damo’s blog and check out what we’ve been nattering about.

    That was a bang up end to “The Singing Sword.” Buckets … rivers of blood. And not a word about the poor servants, who had to clean up the mess. As I observed to Damo, the Seneca family, was quit extensive. We may not have heard the last of them.

    I really don’t know too much about Urther. But that whole story about Arthur’s conception out at Tintagel, was pretty dodgy. What I’ve kind of noticed about the novels, as they go on, is that people toughen up. They get harder. Hard men, for hard times, I guess. Lew

  53. Hi Chris,

    We took the meat chickens up to the chicken processor early this morning (5 AM). Brian, the owner, is referred to by most as the “Chicken Nazi”. There is no messing with this guy. You will be seriously admonished if you don’t bring the exact number of chickens you scheduled. Often with the cornish cross chickens we lose a couple due to heart attacks or severe leg problems. Even just one or two off will get him going. He’s a real stickler regarding how many chickens to put in the crates which is a good thing but I’ve seen and heard about how hard he comes down on people if he thinks there’s even one more bird in the crate than he thinks there should be. He’s the only person who does poultry anywhere close to here but he does do an excellent job. He was telling us this morning about his difficulty recently keeping workers. They are mostly Mexican and I imagine at least some of them are illegal so that might be part of the problem. He pays them well – starting at $14/hr well above minimum wage. Doug asked him if he considered high school kids and he just laughed and said they consider “work” a four letter word.

    We’ve now turned dry though there’s plenty of moisture in the ground for most plants. It’s also pretty hot as well.


  54. @Pam
    I was worried about the squirrels and chipmunks getting into my garden plants but so far, so good. However, now there are quite a few rabbits around. How discouraging to see the squirrel hauling the tomato but it sounds pretty funny reading about it.


  55. Chris,

    Foosilball sounds like a likely renaming of the game. If they replaced the little plastic guys with various dinosaurs I might be tempted to play. Maybe.

    Yes, I use drying for some preservation. Another of my plans is to learn how to dry more things than excess greens, summer squash and potatoes. Eventually maybe a drying pit outside for smoke-drying meats? Time will tell.

    I’ve seen your pictures about what you do with the tomatoes and then storing in oils. That’s another idea I might experiment with. We’re not big on tomatoes, but maybe other things could work that way?

    The raspberry patch. Ugh. When we were getting pulled in a gazillion different directions with dying parents and intense caregiving and recovering from too many deaths in too short a time frame, I got seriously behind on a LOT of things. The raspberries got overgrown by grasses, some weeds, and several volunteer weed trees, errr, maple trees. I placed some junk particle boards over some of the grass to try to kill it, to no avail. I’ve also stored some limbs from various pruning operations atop the boards. ALL of that needs to be removed. Then plant more raspberries in that area. Once I’ve caught up, then maintenance will be much easier. Trying to catch up while employed full time is very hard, especially since at age 59 I am unyoung. I figure once I’ve left the work force it will be easier to maintain things once I’ve caught up.

    I’d never heard of the Malayan Emergency before. That was a fascinating article.

    Rain? Not here. We had enough clouds to keep the daytime temperatures down, meaning near normal rather than too hot. But that also meant that it didn’t cool off as much at night as it usually would. And it has been windier than usual, although that has calmed now.

    A few people are complaining about the “cold spring and summer”, but this year has seen close to normal temperatures (with fluctuations above and below) and more rain than the past few years, which were hot and bone dry.

    The other person in my program is retiring in January. She has been tasked with dumping ALL of our paper files, none of which have been scanned. There’s like 700 of these, many of which are enormous! I’m in a slow spell, so I’m helping. It’s bittersweet being able to see “progress” but watching myself literally dumping (for recycling) my entire career there. Once my and my mate’s careers have been recycled, we get to start on the old stuff that goes back to the late 1950s. I seriously doubt that we can get this done by the deadline they’ve given us, even if we had no other work to do.


  56. Hi Inge,

    Who would have thought that there was a difference between shale and shingle?

    Shale – is a fine-grained sedimentary rock that forms from the compaction of silt and clay-size mineral particles that we commonly call “mud.” Mudstone in other words.

    Shingle – is a beach which is armoured with pebbles or small- to medium-sized cobbles (as opposed to fine sand). Typically, the stone composition may grade from characteristic sizes ranging from 2 to 200 millimetres (0.1 to 7.9 in) diameter.

    Although I’d have to suggest, and I’ll defer to your opinion, a shingle beach may be comprised of shale.

    Ha! Yeah, everyone says that about the canoe tree. The trees at lower elevations didn’t grow as tall or as wide as the trees that live in better drained soils of the sort that you find up here. And a canoe needs to be cut from a larger diameter tree. I’ve been having this same conversation by email for several years with a well meaning bloke, and the crux of the story is that nature does not provide resources evenly. He’s in a very sunny part of the continent and also north west of here, and so he makes the assumption that all of the continent has similarly sunny conditions. Not so, I frequently enjoy the company of thick clouds, and as such I enjoy more rainfall than where he is. And similarly near to where the rivers run in this dry land and the soils are continuously damp, the tall and wide trees might not be found (they need drier and deeper soils). Hope that makes sense? Us people of European heritage have this strange belief that human expectations of resources from nature can be met regardless of location.

    I’m no expert with wild varieties of cherries, however you are absolutely correct and the Morello is one such variety of sour cherry. Seedling cherry trees apparently easily hybridise and the outcomes can be very uncertain. I’m testing a few seedling varieties just to see what happens. At the very least it will provide decoy fruit for the birds.

    What a fascinating topic. The practice appears to have slowed the division of family land into unsustainable small plots. Interesting. I also noticed that the European concept of impartible inheritance provided siblings for celibate monks and priests, and of course there was also the military. Both social customs evolved to confront an ecological dilemma.



  57. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks and I was aware of the, err, other purpose of the fruits of that tree. The first I heard of it was some crazy Japanese cult leader, who had a penchant for his followers consuming his used bath water, deployed some of the stuff. Not a nice fellow at all, and he eventually came unstuck. Meanwhile I used to live in a share house that had one of the trees growing in the backyard. Some of the house mates were dared to consume the fruit and became rather unwell, whilst others didn’t. I was not involved in such stupidity. The plant has been around for millennia and the oil has been put to use by humans, and it appears to be used as a food preservative. I have no doubts that it could be used for soap making, oh! And the tree is put to a huge number of industrial uses. A very handy tree.

    Nasturtiums are quite nice – and edible to boot. The aphid infestation is not something that I know anything about, so it beats me what is going on. My mates of the big shed fame sometimes have infestations of aphids on their fruit trees, and I do wonder whether it has anything to do with the trees being too well fed and watered and producing soft and sappy growth? Dunno. My experience with them is that they are undemanding plants. Great to read that Eleanor planted different varieties for their flower colours. Dragon flies are great aren’t they, although I only see them flying around here and haven’t been able to spot them landing.

    I hear you about the Jerusalem artichokes. Do yours produce flowers every season? Some seasons when the artichokes get water stressed, or it is a cool summer, I find they produce no flowers at all – not that it seems to bother the tubers. They’re an interesting plant and I haven’t gotten my head around their story yet. Have to admit that I’ve been a bit soft and haven’t cooked with the tubers either.

    Wasps do awesome work in the garden, and they’re great pollinators too. Have you seen many of your mason bees, or any European honey bees around?

    The sudden storm in Greece was horrendous by all accounts. As we chuck more energy into the atmosphere, those are the sort of things that can occur. Sudden air pressure changes and intense storms are a real problem down here. People haven’t quite gotten around yet to considering how their activities are contributing to the story.

    I like their style! Disowning is an ingenious strategy, whilst still allowing them the use of the name. There is something in there I can’t quite put a finger on. And yes, your thought about the additional mother in laws had not occurred to me. Of course, if a person was of a shifty disposition, they might seek out additional wives, where the mother in law is deceased. You have to admit that it would be a rather strange question to ask on a date?

    Bummer that the web page for the old bricks couldn’t be accessed. Sometimes the interweb is a pile of dog poo. But yeah, the kilns are huge. Like an old bakers brick Scotch oven, but bigger. I’ll bet the kilns ate through a fair chunk of firewood? Did you ever find any interesting metals in your rock hunting? I see people out and about fossicking for gold in the countryside to the north of here – usually using metal detectors. Sometimes they uncover nuggets, even today. The mountain range here is not old enough for that metal, but I’ll bet there was a fair bit of it in your part of the world back in the day?

    Clay is funny stuff, and as I dig around here, I find different layers of materials. There is grey clay, but it is a fair bit below the surface layer. I don’t really know that much about clay and bricks and ceramics. Have you ever tried pottery? I did a bit of pottery at school but we fired the clay in a small gas fired kiln. It all ended up looking like terracotta.

    Far out, it is cold here today. Right now its only 35’F outside, but toasty warm inside. It’s now three weeks past the winter solstice and we’re trialling using the electric oven at night to cook a home made pizza. Yum! The weather over the past few days has been pretty miserable and so not much work will be done this week, although we’ll try and get outside and do some stuff tomorrow. We worked on accounting stuff today until about 8pm. It is nice to be able to alter the work routines with the prevailing weather conditions.

    How do you usually utilise the cranberries? The only time I’ve had them was with turkey meat, and that is a rare occurrence.

    Hehe! No worries at all, and I’ll mosey on over there after replying here tonight. Merlyn is quite a likeable character as is Varrus and so little wonder the two get along quite well. I’m very curious to see how the colony fell, and I note that they are being ever so slowly over whelmed – despite their successes.

    There’s a thought. The armoury would have been quite the bloody mess from that confrontation. I’m content to let the story play out in its own time, and there is always room in there for Seneca treachery. The colonists are rapidly filling the role of government and I’m guessing the hard responses are a result of the pragmatic responses to multiple threats. What do you reckon about that?

    Oh, I haven’t got up to that bit yet in the story, so I’ll learn what the author has to say on the subject in due course. Merlyn appears to have fallen on hard times and ugly prophesies of his demise. The number seven has always held significance in some circles.



  58. Hi Margaret,

    Oh my! I sometimes I joke around about the ‘patterns not being right’, but your chicken nazi bloke takes the situation to heart. On the other hand he has a difficult job and has to deal with all manner of people – and the condition of the chickens when they arrive. I’ll bet he’s seen a thing or two in his days? His emotional response may be a mechanism for dealing with the realities in which he exists? Dunno. I’d struggle with that job, but then I’m mostly vegetarian and don’t eat a lot of meat in the first place. For me, it is not really concern for putting the chickens down, and if a chicken here has to killed I don’t really delay the task, it would be the sheer volume that would trouble me.

    Doug raised an interesting question that I too ponder. There just aren’t that many people interested in agriculture these days. Down here it is only about 2% of the population and that is a bonkers story. And the average age of people in farming is a pretty big number too.

    But the financial returns are just not there either, so it is hardly surprising that young folk are more interested in other areas.

    And one of the big issues with illegal immigration used in agriculture is that it keeps the end prices low, which is good for consumers, but not so good if you try and make money producing food. I also suspect that people have unreasonable expectations as to the price of food that they consume. Dunno. There is a whole bunch of stuff in that story though.

    I once recounted to someone a story of lemons. A good tree in this climate will produce 200 fruit yearly, which has a retail price of about $200. But it takes about six to eight years of growth and care to get to such a result and the grower won’t get paid retail prices for the fruit. The whole story makes so little sense to me that I just focus on quality and getting close and personal with the methods of production (as do you with your chickens). Dunno.



  59. Hi DJ,

    Funny! Hehe! Imagine all the little spinning dinosaurs trying to stop a mammal of some sort – possibly rat like – trying to get to the goal posts at either end of the board!

    Hey, the drying pit outside for smoked meats sounds pretty cool. One of my mates has a smoking oven that he uses for fish and meats and its good stuff.

    Dunno, you’d have to experiment with the preserving. The thing with the tomatoes is that they are reasonably acidic, but I also dehydrate every scrap of moisture in them, otherwise they go off in the olive oil. Not sure how other fruits would work using that method because they are generally less acidic than the tomatoes I grow. Canning and fermenting seem more widely used.

    Mate, sorry to hear about your parents and you have my condolences. Yes, and things slip by the wayside at such times which is perfectly reasonable and also very necessary.

    Exactly, time will sort the lack of time problem out for you quite nicely. Honestly, it would be very difficult to live in a place like here and work a full week, and then try and get any stuff done. I try to have at least one full day off any work per week doing not much in particular – other than going for long walks and stuff like that.

    It is hardly surprising, if only because it was a Commonwealth matter and we were involved in it.

    Have you still got plenty of soil moisture?

    I hear that too about cold season, blah, blah, blah! I mean its 2’C / 36’F right now outside and no doubt people will feel that that is cold, but on a long term average, it is hardly that cold at all and last week was like an early spring. I’m amazed at how rapidly people acclimate to climate.

    Deadlines are often ambit claims upon other peoples time. I see that trick being used all of the time. Yeah, the dumping of records is a sad thing. Makes you wonder how much documentation will be left for future generations to refer to?



  60. Hello again
    I forgot to answer your query about my pond. It arrived accidently many years ago when a huge oak uprooted and fell leaving a sizable hole in the ground. It is only used by newts and birds as far as I know. This is only the second year that it has dried out.
    The shingle beach here has all sorts of hard bits in it plus lots of shells both whole and broken. There are also lots of pieces of broken glass so not advisable to go barefoot. Fossils turn up as well. The whole is lying on the lethal blue slipper clay.
    82F indoors today.


  61. Yo, Chris – I meant to ask, did Ollie and you run into Ted and Bill on THEIR excellent adventure? We are not worthy. :-).

    I’d forgot about the canoe tree. Clear evidence that the native people were active in your area, and, I wonder if it’s somehow related to the stone ring?

    I was looking around for information, for Eleanor, about aphids and nasturtiums. LOL, most of the articles were “plant nasturtiums to lure aphids away from your other plants. It will do in the nasturtiums, but, oh, well.” But then I found a few useful articles. A small amount of dish soap in a spray bottle. The old tried and true.

    My Jerusalem artichokes didn’t flower last year. This year? Too early to tell. Oh, the Mason bees have been tucked up in their cells, for a number of months. I’ll tuck them away, under cover, when the weather gets bad. They really are an early season bee. Not much use, for veg. Maybe some fruit. I’m seeing a few honey bees, and a few bumble bees. But not in the numbers I saw, last year.

    When I went out rock hunting, I was mainly after agates, and such. Petrified wood. I saw a lot of rusty looking rock, so, we probably have a bit of iron, around. But all the commercial mining, in this county, was coal. We have a big steam plant here, that burns coal for electricity. They used to mind the coal, for the plant, right next door. Then they closed the mine part, and started buying coal from Wyoming. More cost effective, I guess. And, I think Wyoming has “cleaner” burning coal. That was a grim time. Over 300 mine workers were laid off. Just weeks before Christmas. It really made for a grim couple of years.

    I’ve never tried pottery. But I’ve known a few potters. That’s how I ended up watching the kiln, overnight. A friend, who was a potter, got a job at the brick yard. They let him tuck in his pots, when they were firing a load. It was a nice night. Tucked in our sleeping bags, under the stars. Getting up every few hours to peer through a hole, to check the kiln. Somewhere along the way, the kilns became gas fired.

    Oh, you can do with cranberries, as with most jams. Smear it on toast or pancakes. A very popular sandwich, here, is turkey with cranberry jelly and cream cheese. Yum! And a lot of restaurants have it, year round. Not just at Thanksgiving. Some places also stuff it with sprouts.

    Well. We lost our power for four hours, yesterday. It started right around noon. My neighbor happened to be downstairs, so, I rescued puppy from the dark, read a bit, then took a nap. Not much information, yet, on what caused the outage. Something to do with our feed from the Bonneville Power. That’s the dams, down on the Columbia. Being late on a Friday afternoon, I guess everyone wandered off home, without posting what the problem was.

    I ran across an interesting article on the psychic toll climate change is having on climate scientists.



  62. @ Claire – Thanks for all the information on potatoes. I can see I’m going to have to do a bit of in depth research.

    Someone left five small potatoes, in my patch. Wasn’t the Garden Goddess. I’m always highly skeptical of stuff that just appears out of nowhere. I tossed them in the tip.

    More times than not (and, not just potatoes) people that think they are doing you a favor, aren’t. Lew

  63. Chris,

    A ratlike dinosaur for a “ball”? Brilliant!

    Thanks for the condolences. The worst of the “death spiral” was 2008 through 2012. Five extremely close relatives died, one per year, after years of caregiving, with several other friends and relative dying in that time frame through now. There was simply no time to deal with any of it because it was ongoing. It was very hard to slog through, but both of us are stronger as a result with the added benefit of having strengthened our marriage.

    Soil moisture? Nope, none, nonexistent. Daily highs have been ranging between 25C and 32C with wind, so the soils got pretty thoroughly dried out. Things would be rather nasty if we were having the excessive heat we’d had for the prior few years. I’m hoping this continues to be a more “normal” year.

    I think that before the energy situation kicks us in our collective behinds, most paper documentation will be gone. Eventually, of course, the internet and the cloud will be gone, and future generations might have to try to reinvent basic things with paper.

    One thing I know about my job is that many of the required documents for each project do not exist in electronic form. There are about 25 files which need to be kept in paper form indefinitely, but I’m guessing that within a few years after I’ve left, nobody will remember why we kept them and they will be tossed, to. Then there will be no copies of anything relating to that program with nobody who knows how to do it.

    Something tells me that this is fast becoming the norm because we have to “go paperless” and “the cloud will be there forever”. Religion of progress at its “best”, right?


  64. @ Lew,

    I’ve noticed fewer honeybees and fewer bumblebees this year, too. And less hornets/wasps. One thing I’ve noticed, as has another gardener in my neighborhood: the hornets are actively picking up the slack with pollinating things. Neither of us have observed the hornets this actively going from flower to flower before.


  65. @Lew

    Thanks for the climate scientist link. Sounds similar to the emotions and thought patterns I went through years ago when I began to accept a long decline for western civilisation.

    Reading the scientist quotes, I think their issue is they expected everything would get sorted if they could just tell everyone what was happening. Communicate just a little bit better, and then everyone will think like you do. There is probably a little bit of self-reflection as well, why am I doing this work if it results in no action on climate change anyway?

    I found it funny when they then went off onto a social justice tangent, climate scientists are not allowed to be depressed because other people suffer from racism, sexism etc which is far worse than contemplating the end of our species and the planet as we know it /sigh. I feel that Greer wrote about this as well a while back…


  66. Hi Chris,

    Yeah, I think they were Tiger Snakes we encountered on Mt Bogong. Very aggressive, but the same species in Tasmania were generally pretty chill. Maybe living in Victoria makes a snake cranky? In NZ, we don’t have to worry about such things, Mrs Damo and I have almost lost our snake spidey-sense. Blissfully walk into thick grass barefoot and everything.

    I haven’t started on Eagles Brood, so you and Lew are ahead of me. I bought an old James Clavell novel with me to read this trip – Shogun. Middle-ages Englishman ends up in feudal Japan and goes native. I did finish the Earth Abides, I found the ending to be pretty powerful actually. 5 star novel!

    In-flight movies, not much to report. A NZ flick was on the list, The Breaker Uppers. Meh, it was OK. 3 stars. Also watched Aquaman, another solid meh, 3 stars. Lots of pretty colours though.

    Mrs Damo is now doing a lot better, the high humidity in the tropics is good for preventing coughs. And we saw our first sloth, but spoiler alert – it wasn’t moving 🙂


  67. Hi Inge,

    It was a very thoughtful act of the oak tree to provide for a pond for the benefit of the local wildlife. The trees here do the same when they topple over, and the root balls can be massive and leave huge depressions in the soil. Unfortunately, down here as a comparison the depressions don’t hold water, but on the other hand, they do collect organic matter, and they also infiltrate water into the subsoil at that point – much like the swales that I use to get water back into the subsoil (where it belongs) elsewhere. It is possible that such systems are part of the usual forest processes.

    On the other hand a pond would be quite nice for practical reasons. Someone local has had a formerly leaky dam lined with maybe, bentonite clay. Dunno, but it holds water now.

    Out of curiosity, how long has the pond been in place?

    I’d never heard of the stiff blue clay before, and had no idea that clay could be found near to the ocean. You learn something new every day. Do you get many fossil hunters scouring the beach?

    That’s pretty warm for inside a house. Did your area dodge the worst of the most recent European heatwave that broke records in France? It is 35’F outside right now!



  68. Hi Lewis,

    You’re the only person to remark upon my dodgy Bill and Ted reference! Funny stuff! 🙂 I did note the ‘party on dudes’ of the other day and likewise enjoyed that. Hey, apparently a third instalment of the franchise is being filmed right now.

    Mate, when you’re hot… The article that you linked to about the climate scientists was truly fascinating. It is one of the most interesting articles that I’ve read for a while. From a certain perspective, the climate scientists are going through the Kübler-Ross phases of grief. Without re-reading the article, I’m pretty sure the different examples contained therein covered most of the phases, but few of the scientists had yet worked their way through to acceptance. It is a bit of a bind for them to produce work which suggests that things are not going to be good, and then they have to deal with the internal tensions of disregarding what they have just learned (and possibly even communicated) whilst going about a ‘normal life’, as dictated by the dominant narrative. And the ecological footprint of travelling to remote destinations was not lost on them, but maybe they’re in the bargaining phase. Oh yeah, it is a real problem. I was so impressed by the article that I mentioned it to Mr Greer (whilst giving a nod to your good self).

    Now that you mention it, the stone circle is almost on contour from the canoe tree. I’d never connected the two things before, but now that you mention it, it is possible there is a link. One of the interesting things that I may not have mentioned about the stone circle is that I haven’t dug in the centre, but there are no ash remains in there. My thinking is that if it was a recent thing (i.e. loggers), then I would have found some ash – or signs of ash.

    Hehe! I didn’t know that about nasturtiums luring aphids. Exactly, dish soap is pretty handy. Years ago, the ants farmed some sort of black sooty mould in one of the citrus trees, and I had to clean every single leaf and branch using soapy water. I did that job by cleaning a bit of the tree every single day. I’ve seen the black sooty mould covering nearby olive orchards, and it is a bit of a worry. I haven’t seen it here again and am careful to heavily feed the fruit trees, but I also do try and stop the ants from harvesting sugars from fruit trees. It is easy enough to do that.

    I guess there are a lot of things ‘out there’ looking to consume. There has been a bit of an increase recently in a flesh eating bacteria in the bayside suburbs of Melbourne: Stigma, isolation: the flesh-eating ulcer infecting hundreds more Victorians each year. Not good and quite gruesome.

    Maybe, Jerusalem artichokes aren’t meant to produce flowers every season? Dunno. A lot of fruit trees are biennial, so it is possible. The mason bees might be good for pollinating almond trees when there is not much else around to pollinate. Almond trees rely solely on European honey bees as far as I can tell. At a guess I’m suspecting that your wetter season has knocked back the European honey bees. Wet seasons can mean that their winter food stores (honey) ferment due to the increased water content, and that is not much good for the bees.

    Agates are way cool, and I can understand your interest in them. I also see that they are related to amethyst and opals. ‘Cleaner’ is in the eye of the beholder! 😉 Well, yeah, they’re shutting down coal fired power stations down here too. I saw a statistic the other day that solar contributes just 5% for the grid down here, and we’ve been more enthusiastic proponents of the technology than pretty much anywhere. Wind is a superior renewable energy source as far as I’m concerned, but if we toned down our expectations, solar photovoltaics would be fine for a few decades, until they needed replacing…

    Thanks for sharing your memories of the brick firing process. Hope you remembered to tell some ghost stories involving people who had been inadvertently shut in kilns? Wasn’t there a fairy tale about a wicked witch getting pushed into an oven?

    Golden syrup masquerading as maple syrup is usually what is dolloped on pancakes (plus a pat of buttermilk). Yum! Can’t say as I’d swap the concoction with a cranberry based jam. We’ve been experimenting with extracting the sugar from rice recently. We tasted the product of a genuine sake master from Japan and it was sweeter than what we produce, so we’ve been experimenting by adding back a portion of rice sugar syrup that we’ve extracted. It is a complicated drink that is clouded in mysticism and lack of definite instructions. I feel a bit Six Million Dollar Sake – we have the technology, we can rebuild the product. 🙂 I’ll put up a photo tomorrow.

    Did you discover the cause of the power outage? And was HRH distressed at suddenly finding herself in the dark? Fluffies can be sensitive beasts!

    Better get writing… Didn’t do anything around the property this week. Hope everyone can cope with that? Is it a first? Maybe! Hehe!



  69. Hello again
    Blue ‘slipper’ clay not ‘stiff’. The clay is probably the reason that the pond holds water. I don’t remember how long ago that tree came down, it could be about 20 years.
    People don’t fossil hunt on my beach because the south of the Island is the place to go for this i.e. dinosaur bones. We don’t have anything as dramatic.
    We didn’t get weather as hot as France etc, no doubt because the British Isles lacks the land mass which helps to build up heat. Nonetheless it was and remains much warmer than usual, though still not up to the summer temperatures of 1976.


  70. Yo, Chris – Bill and Ted? Or, Jay and Silent Bob? :-). My vote goes to Jay and Silent Bob.

    Poor climate scientists. Like the Trojan Cassandra. Given the gift of prophecy, cursed with the inability of anyone to believe her. Well, that’s what happens when you make promises to a god, that you don’t intend to keep. I guess they didn’t have breach of promise suits, back in those days.

    I don’t think I’ve ever asked what the approximate diameter of the stone circle is. When you mentioned ashes, well, fire pits aren’t very big. Maybe a picture? Throw Ollie in the middle, for scale. If he’ll enter. Is there enough room for people to dance about? Sacrifice a wombat?

    That was quit a tale of black mold in your trees. My Christmas cactus, which sprawls about 2 feet, needs a good dust. Leaf by leaf. Think I’ll give it a good prune, first.

    That was quit an article about the flesh eating bacteria. I wonder if they’ve tried maggots, as a treatment? The article really was humorous, in spots. I suppose, all you can do, at times, is laugh. Can you imagine the cocktail party chatter? “And what do you do for a living?” “Oh, I collect possum poo.” I don’t know if I’d like to live next to a lab with anthrax and plague, lying about. Mosquitos. Hmmm. When we sit out, after I walk HRH, mosquitos plague us. Citronella candle didn’t help. And the organic spray doesn’t seem to slow them up. We relocated the place we usually sit, and that seems to help, a bit.

    Well, we’ll see with the Jerusalem artichokes. I left some of the root in the ground. Gave it a good feed with compost. Internet wisdom seems to be…sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t.

    Fairy tale. Hansel and Gretel.

    HRH is pretty used to me. She was a bit surprised, when I opened the door. The trick was to get the collar and leash on her, in the half dark. We probably won’t hear what the power outage was all about, until next week. If then. I see NY city had an outage. People stuck in elevators, etc..

    Pancake/cranberry jelly/pancake/cream cheese/ pancake. Well, it’s an idea, anyway.

    About the rice sugar. Maybe it’s the variety of rice? Let’s see. There are 40,000 varieties of rice. You’ve got your work cut out for you. :-). I buy “long grain brown rice”, wherever I can get it on sale. So, usually, different companies. I’ve noticed that even “long grain brown rice,” varies. Texture, color. So, I suppose they may be different varieties.

    Hoo-Rah! I was dinking around on E-Bay last night. Running through the list in my head of incomplete items. Remember the single reading monk bookend, I found about a year ago? The one that I thought would be easy to match, and then it turned out there were dozens of variations. Well, I found an exact single match, last night. Winging it’s way to me. That’s one down and two to go. Note to self: Do not, under any circumstances, buy a single bookend, ever again. (Well, maybe if I find a Rookwood pottery, one.). Lew

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