Breaking wombat news: I had plans

Breaking wombat news: Heavy snow falls over the Central Highlands of Victoria

The conclusion to the Modern Grain Theory story has to wait for this urgent news update from our local reporter on the ground. Over to you Chris!

I had plans. No seriously, I really did have plans to continue excavating soil on the two new garden terraces during the latter part of the week. Both new terraces will have edible plants, however the higher terrace will also have a number of roses.

So far the winter has been mild and damp, and wouldn’t you just know it? The roses have begun to produce early leaves. So, there is a bit of pressure to finish the terrace project and get the roses into the ground.

The editor and I had formulated plans to finish part of the terrace project and have the roses in the ground sometime over the past few days. Nature had other plans in store for us. On Thursday the temperature plummeted, the air pressure dropped below 1,000hPa and the rain began. We’d intended to excavate soil Thursday, but the conditions were rather unpleasant. At least the combination of rain and sunshine produced a nice rainbow over the valley.

A combination of rain and sunshine produces a superb rainbow over the valley

At that time, hopes were still high that we could continue excavations on the new garden terraces project. However, on Thursday because of the inclement weather, we decided to head into the big smoke to purchase some irrigation supplies as well as bulk supplies of raw food stuffs for plants that we don’t grow here.

The bulk food stuffs were purchased from a market on the outskirts of Melbourne. I quite enjoy visiting the market as it is full of stall holders proffering their produce. When I was a very small kid, my grandmother used to take me with her to the local market, so I’m comfortable with the relationships that form with the stallholders who know their regular customers. It is quite a social way to purchase fruit and vegetables.

Of late, I have despaired of the rubbish plastic bags that the ‘grain dudes’ (stallholders at the market) use to package up their produce. A month or so ago, I put my finger through a thin plastic bag containing a quantity of desiccated coconut, and the tiny chunks of coconut went everywhere. The dogs rejoiced at the food opportunity presented to them, whilst I despaired at the loss of the coconut. It was about that time when the idea popped into my head which suggested that I take my own sturdy containers to the market and for the grain dudes to fill them with produce.

The grain dudes are cheeky individuals, always up for a laugh. And sometimes they make me blush at the things they say. With that in mind, I decided to get in early with the radical new idea of my containers. I presented the grain dudes with my bulk order, the containers, and the observation that their plastic bags were a bit (a naughty word used to describe poo that has four letters and begins with the letter S and ends with the letter T). Of course I followed that biting observation with a short giggle.

Surprisingly, the grain dudes took my pithy observation about the quality of their packaging materials with good grace and they proceeded to fill the order (and the containers). After the cash was exchanged for the transaction, that was when the further giggles and blushing occurred. The editor finds the grain dudes to be particularly entertaining.

Anyway, in between the laughs, they did provide some interesting information. Apparently, single use plastic bags will be banned here before the end of the year. This piqued my curiosity, and so I asked them what this would entail. Plastic bags will still be provided, it is just that the plastic bags would be much thicker, and they are an extra cost, and apparently they’re re-usable.

It was about that time my that mind recalled my grandmother bringing all of her own containers and bags in a hand pushed shopping jeep. And we used to walk to and from the market. I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing she would have had a fit of apoplexy if she had to purchase plastic bags at the market.

The editor and I have used cloth bags at the markets for over two decades, we just never thought to use containers for the grains. It seems obvious from hindsight. Here is how the produce looks in the cupboard (exactly like what the containers looked like when they were filled at the market).

The newer sturdy containers for bulk raw produce and the older style plastic bags

Lentils, beans, grains, coconut, dried sultanas, flour, etc. At a market, all of them can be filled and then taken home in sturdy containers.

By Friday despite feeling quite pleased about the containers, the weather deteriorated. There were even epic dust storms in the state of South Australia which is to the west of the state of Victoria where the farm resides. Severe wintry weather battering southeastern Australia

When faced on Friday with the severe weather we decided to stay home and do accounting work (mad cash!) Secretly we hoped that Saturday would bring better weather so that we could continue excavations on the new garden terrace project.

The winter weather on Saturday turned out even more severe than Friday. Snow was forecast to fall in the area.

The editor and I woke up at day break, and without having had a coffee or breakfast, we headed up to the higher parts of the mountain range. The farm is at 700m / 2,300ft above sea level, whilst the higher parts of the mountain range are around 1,000m / 3,300ft above sea level.

For my well being, I insisted that we stop at the local cafe and enjoy a coffee and some fruit toast whilst reading the weekend newspaper. Feeling somewhat more human at such an ungodly hour of the morning, we continued our short journey into the higher elevations of the mountain range. And sure enough, the -1’C / 30’F temperatures had brought with them heaps of snow. It looked great.

On Saturday the road to the Memorial Cross was covered in snow and ice
The signage on the Mount Macedon Road alerts drivers to the dangers

I should have heeded the warnings because I managed to spin the fifteen year old dirt rat Suzuki Vitara fully 180 degrees on the icy roads. Fortunately we did not fall off the road, and at such an early time of the day there was very little traffic. It was at that point that I realised that I should have engaged the four wheel drive using the transfer case gearbox.

The Adrenalin hit from the icy road incident also proved to me beyond any doubt that it is not only coffee that can heighten a person’s awareness and senses at such an early hour of the morning.

We travelled further up the road towards the Memorial Cross and the snow was epic.

The buttressing of this giant Eucalyptus tree collected the snow.

The buttressing of this giant Eucalyptus tree collects the snow

And the colours were entirely washed out of the usually green and lush landscape.

Snow washed the colours out of the landscape

After an hour or so of sight seeing where the editor threw several snowballs at my head, we returned home where at the lower elevation the rain had set in. By lunchtime we had a bit of cabin fever and could no longer work on accounting work. We wanted to be outside excavating, but it was not possible in the weather. Instead we headed off to a town about forty minutes north of the mountain range where they sell the best gourmet meat pies in the country. Plus a local bakery along the way makes really yummy lamingtons. Extreme weather forces extreme choices.

Upon returning home from our gourmet meat pie and lamington odyssey, the clouds still continued to produce rain. It is at this point that I must add that the sun was shining warmly in the small town where the gourmet meat pies were sold. There may be something in that? All the same, we had high hopes for commencing the excavations on Sunday.

The tidings for Sunday’s weather forecast, candidly, were not good. However such tidings were inconsequential compared to our desires to get on with excavations on the new garden terraces.

What we awoke to find was that the weather forecast was understated by a considerable margin. This is what we woke up to discover:

Sunday morning wasn’t quite a blizzard, but it wasn’t far off it either

All talk of work became just that: talk. The snow storm was the thickest that I have experienced here, and I’m told by a reliable source that an old timer suggested that it has not snowed this heavily here for at least two and a half decades. I reckon about two or three inches of snow fell and there was snow everywhere.

During a brief moment of calm in the storm, the thick clouds parted and I could just see that even the valley well below the farm was covered in snow.

Even the valley far below the farm was covered in snow

The new garden terraces were covered in a thick layer of snow.

The site where we had intended to excavate soil that day was covered in a thick layer of snow

From the site above the two new garden terraces, you’d be hard pressed to even see where the two new terraces were.

Looking at the two new garden terraces from above

An even closer photo still does not reveal all of the recent excavation works that we have been undertaking on the two new garden terraces. The woven steel mesh roof of the strawberry enclosure held up well under the weight of all that snow.

A closer photo of the garden terrace project site reveals nothing

The orchards were covered in snow too! It looked great. The fruit trees are no doubt enjoying some turbo charged chilling hours (temperatures < 7’C / 45’F) which are necessary for fruit production. Sunday may have been a bit colder than necessary though…

The fruit trees are enjoying some chilling hours

The garden beds looked great too and several olive trees were weighed down by the snow.

Several olive trees are weighed down by the snow

The canine Fluffy collective revelled in the snow. Ollie the Australian cuddle (err, sorry, cattle) dog was surprisingly hard to keep out of the snow. He loved it, which was unexpected given his thin protective coat.

Ollie the Australian cattle dog is in his element in the snow

Toothy was no slouch either and he was equally having a grand old time of it. Of course being a long haired Dachshund he was a bit more height challenged than Ollie and he had to be dried off after his extensive frolicking in the snow.

Toothy also enjoys the thick snow

Scritchy the elder didn’t want a bar of the snow, and she stuck to her bean bag like super glue.

Scritchy! Come out and play in the snow

The local native birds put up with the snow.

A Crimson Rosella (parrot) takes pride of place on the weather station

I’m unsure what the parrots ate that day, but my gut feeling (excuse the pun) was that they may have gone hungry. Whatever may be the case, the parrots were gleaning discarded seeds from around the chicken enclosure.

The local parrots hang out near to the chicken enclosure looking for discarded seeds

The chickens were fine in their all weather run and enclosure. It certainly felt warmer inside the dry chicken run than outside in the orchard where the parrots were.

The chickens were toasty warm and dry in their enclosure

Spare a thought for the non deciduous fruit trees in the orchard. Most of them have survived snowfall before, but Sunday’s snowfall was rather more extreme than in the recent past.

Hopefully the citrus trees survive the heavy snowfall

The potatoes in the three large raised beds may not deal very well with the snowfall either. Time will tell.

The potatoes in the three large raised beds may not appreciate the snowfall

One of the sheds looked as if it was lifted straight out of an alpine ski resort.

This most recently constructed shed looks as if it was lifted from a ski resort

The cantina shed in the courtyard also looks great with its two old olive trees covered in thick snow. Did I mention that Ollie loved the snow?

The courtyard full of snow

The infrastructure has held up surprisingly well during the past few days of extreme weather. The new steel rock gabion cage captured more than its fair share of snow.

The steel rock gabion cages collected more than their fair share of snow

Observant readers will note that with the three water tanks in the above photo, you can see the water level. The stored water is too warm for any snow to form on the sides of the tank. However, where there is no water in the tank, the plastic is at the ambient air temperature. A closer image reveals that the effect is quite consistent with other water tanks.

You can easily observe the water level in these water tanks

And for those that were wondering, solar photovoltaic panels do not produce much electricity at all (about 1/500th of their rated output which is the equivalent of a very loud mouse fart) when covered in several inches of snow. Good luck with dreams of an all solar powered future.

These solar photovoltaic panels are not giving me anything

And kudos to the regular commenter DJ, who has previously alerted me to the dangers of encountering yellow snow. Now I understand…

Ollie demonstrates the dangers of yellow snow

The editor managed to get some flower photos, but as you can imagine…

Daffodils continue to grow
Much snow covered these Silver Wattle flowers

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 3’C (36’F). So far this year there has been 501.4mm (19.7 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 470.2mm (18.5 inches) .

101 thoughts on “Breaking wombat news: I had plans”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Great photos of the snow! I especially like the courtyard photo. It is always very exciting when it snows, maybe because it is so rare in Australia?


  2. Hi DJ,

    Ollie did the yellow snow experiment, and I managed to capture the moment. Thanks for alerting me to this horrid possibility, and you were duly credited. Good fun, huh? 🙂

    I now know that the compacted ice and snow is treacherous, before I was blissfully unaware of the possibility. I was lucky that nothing was damaged in the incident, and I could feel the ABS brakes juddering through the brake pedal that my foot was pressing down hard upon. Sunday morning and the road was closed to all traffic – a wise precaution.

    Far out, but yeah, only those that know, know. It sure gets the heart racing doesn’t it?

    Back in the day canals used to provide irrigation. In some parts of the country they are known as water races. As infrastructure, they’ve been let go now and replaced with underground pipes, but back in the day water races used to travel ever so slightly downhill from a reservoir. And the water races followed the contour of the land so they travel in all sorts of weird and wonderful directions across the landscape. Some of them now are walking paths. But as a technology, they just work and require very little energy.

    Looking back at your tall mountains from the drier eastern side would be a really strange experience. On the south island of New Zealand on the west coast, I can recall being in sub tropical vegetation along the coast and seeing snow capped (with glaciers) mountains off in the far distance (further south). As a person who lives on a fairly flat continent, the perspective was very trippy.

    Exactly, yup, the only way to win the smart meter fight is to disconnect from the grid. I can’t see any other way to tackle that one.

    Did you end up getting any lightning strikes from the storm? The winds drive the fires, unfortunately.

    I can’t argue with you there. And of course, there is little profit to be gained from improving vegetables. Nonetheless, it is an important task to relocalise the plant varieties that we consume. Of course, I was very deep into a seed catalogue this morning! So many temptations… I’m going to try some of the smaller melons this year. Last year was a total fizzer on the melon front due to the heat and dry. The best I managed were a few watermelons.

    It is endemic, but most tools can be overused if given enough opportunity with which to do so. A bit of a shame that.

    Cuddle dog is now 37kg. When we got him he was 17kg. It has been a heck of a journey as I’ve never known a very large dog before, but I’m quite taken with him. Plus he has extra authority when such things are called for. People for some reason tend to take him seriously.



  3. Hi Damo,

    No, not at all. I believe that upon occasion, credit should be indicated where credit has been earned. Hehe! I assume you were in the dirt mouse Jimny at the time of the spin (I’m seeing new ones on the road, and they look good)? Mind you, the tyres on the dirt rat are in pretty good condition, but yeah it can happen to the best of us. Incidentally, I was at the wheel and doing no more than about 25kmh in the first place. I’d genuinely hate to imagine what would have happened had I been travelling faster.

    Yeah, and that is the strange thing. Once I engaged High-4, I could hear the tyres groaning on the asphalt due to the lack of a centre differential, but the dirt rat also did not lose its grip again. I’ve never actually experienced that happening before (the car letting go completely) so it wasn’t even on my radar. And after commuting on a motorbike for about a decade, I’m usually pretty relaxed about exciting unannounced experiences whilst being the pilot of a vehicle. What can I say other than: Adrenalin, it’s a rush!

    I hear you about Greta. She is walking the talk and I approve of such things. Mate, I have not followed her story because not much seemed to be going on there. My intuition tells me that upon occasion people who are genuine can be taken for a ride. And also she carries a heavy weight, but it is the comedown that I worry about for her. Mr Greer is perhaps alerting his readers to the simple fact that there is ‘not much to see here’, in the story.

    Years ago I read a book written by Jared Diamond with the title of ‘Collapse’. It is a great book, but it may have been in the final chapter that he began discussing accepting corporate sponsorship (unlike the sort in Fight Club). Donations can be a poisoned chalice, for what can be given, can also be taketh away. There is a trick to living with such presents, but who travels such a course? I ask for no donations here.

    As far as the individual goes, I’m not following that story. The most recent Federal election result told me in no uncertain terms that people do not want change, despite the rhetoric.

    Thank you! I’m lucky to get one or maybe two snow days per year, and this one was epic. Now given last year (2018) I recorded the hottest day 45’C and also the coldest day -2’C, and the windiest gust 50kph (at ground level) that I’ve experienced here, I’m sort of feeling that global climate weirding will stretch the records in all sorts of directions. Makes for an exciting life! Let’s just hope that it is not too exciting. 🙂

    Incidentally, that Antarctic low is heading your way. I’ll be curious to hear your version of the events.



  4. Hi Inge,

    Now that you’ve had a chance to peruse the images, do you still consider the snowfall to be a ‘moderately serious snow’? I’m curious as to your opinion because I have no experience with which to compare the snowfall too. For me, it was a lot of snow.

    One of the problems with having urban people move into rural areas is that sometimes they can bring strange ideas with them. I hear you. Now of course I have a Machiavellian sense of ‘getting the necessary job done’, and in your son’s place I would use an electric chainsaw because they produce far less noise than fossil fuel powered chainsaws. And I note that some generators are very quiet these days. Batteries and inverters are even quieter. Of course, a proper and sharp cross cut saw makes even less noise again. Just a couple of suggestions that spring to mind. I’m sure I could come up with more suggestions.

    I can see forest stretching to the distant horizon, but I also understand that this is not the case in your part of the world, and such losses create strange consequences.

    I feel that the current situation is but a moment in time for you.



  5. Hi Pam,

    Rain for you, and thick snow for me! Yay! The world is a beautiful place.

    Just watch out for the scary ‘yellow snow’! 🙂 Hehe! That stuff is not beautiful. Who’d have thought that Ollie was capable of such antics on the pristine snow? Hehe!

    The photo of Toothy ambling down the driveway towards the house with his head cocked to the side was my favourite this week.



  6. Hi Chris,

    Next time you see the grain guys, you can tell them their bags are yellow snow.

    Now don’t you wish you were working your old office job away from the dangers of harsh weather, yellow snow, snowplaning(?) and, er, pies?

  7. Hello Chris
    Still only moderate snow! But it has given you the opportunity to take some gorgeous and different photos. I had the television on for the news and some photos were shown of lots of kangaroos jumping around in the snow in NSW.
    We are suitably Machiavellian, but it is much more difficult when the public have been asked to keep an eye out. Actually this one was not our problem and has been dealt with.
    Quite heavy showers coming down at present, I am pleased.
    Neighbour making a complete fist of a building job. Son has tried speaking to him but the reply is always ‘ but this is easier’. Son’s response was ‘ stop thinking easier, that’s why you keep running into trouble.


    @ Lew
    The one Evelyn Waugh that I really enjoyed in part is the one with the evacuees. I think that it is ‘Put out more flags’.


  8. Hi Lewis,

    Words and their history are fascinating. Thanks for mentioning the history of the word as I had not known of its origins. It makes sense, but the word ‘dotty’ has dropped out of general usage down here. When I was a kid, you’d hear people saying that such and such a person is a bit dotty. Scritchy is a bit dotty now that she is in her dotage. In a lot of respects I feel that the media changes the language. As a very young kid I recall at Primary school we used to stand at attention and sing: ‘God save the Queen’, and most of the media back then was sourced from the UK. Over time, the source of the media has shifted to US sources and they present a different culture which we assimilate. But the culture here is not one or the other, it is a mix of both, with some local content chucked in for good measure. I suspect that in the far distant future, culture will relocalise and diverge wildly. What is your take on that?

    Hehe! “New and Improved” indeed. As you have quite rightly pointed out in the past, did we ask for this? For the record, I don’t recall asking for it either. Hehe! Funny stuff. You know I suspect that the really small font is a legal response in that the product has to comply with the law, so I’m guessing that they go about complying in the least obtrusive manner possible.

    Geoffrey Chaucer did get around didn’t he? What an education he would have received. George Mallory was another great of whose history I am aware. Sir Edmund Hillary, was quite gracious in indicating that Mallory had paved the way for the attempt for himself and Tenzing Norgay. Of course, their goal is a lofty goal indeed and beyond my ken or desire. But there is every possibility that Mallory reached the summit.

    Thanks for the correction about the movie.

    Sliding into the gully would have been a very unpleasant outcome. I’ve learned my lesson, and you may notice that on the Sunday (and with the much heavier snowfall) I did not go anywhere. For some reason the road over the mountain range that I live near was not closed to traffic, and there were a few tourists out and about enjoying the snow. Some people even brought toboggans with them.

    I wonder that too about global climate weirding. Stranger things have happened, but I also suspect that the weather extremes will become more extreme in future. It is bonkers really because if I were in your part of the world, then 37’N latitude would be the southern borders of Utah, Colorado, and Kansas, and the northern borders of Arizona, New Mexico, and Oklahoma. It is the proximity to the Southern Ocean and the roaring forties that drive part of the climate here.

    Dunno about your climate. The variability with climate makes it really hard to know the details in advance. I can’t say with any degree of certainty what sort of spring or summer I’ll face. Last year, the repeated frosts took out many of the blossoms on the fruit trees, so I dunno. It is hard and one of those things that people haven’t factored into the stories they tell themselves about global climate weirding.

    Much depends with the pumpkins / squashes and the insect activity. Are you seeing many honey bees in your garden?

    Yum!!! Fresh strawberries and blueberries are making my mouth water. Had a blueberry muffin earlier today whilst reading Eagles Brood. Merlyn has just met the Bishop-Legate.

    Your neighbour was a canny individual. After the bath tubs were re-enamelled, they really looked good and I was always unsure what was involved in the process. And the recycled board furniture and timber was a thing down here too. At one house, I laid a hardwood floor that had been cut and milled from old discarded timber beams. It seemed like a good idea, and the timber ended up being very dark once sanded and oiled. I’m assuming that the timber was originally from a very old and very tall tree to have achieved that colour. I remember there was a phase where people were applying Black Japan stains to their timber floors. Looked awesome, but every speck of dirt stood out on the blackened timbers.

    Hehe! It is very rough and tumble existence in the bird world, and yeah the chickens are a pragmatic bunch. It was so cold and frozen yesterday (and dark from the thick clouds) that I didn’t let the chickens loose in the orchard in the snow.

    The hat shop is good, and yes it would be a temptation. 🙂 Speaking of which, I’m having an existential crisis with the blue hat. It’s too cool for me, and I know someone in the UK desperately wants it. What do I do? Should the blue hat be allowed to run free in all its glory? Or do I man up and just wear the blue hat? I’m seriously torn about this? I feel that I’d enjoy a fedora more as it is a less rigid feeling hat.



  9. To all:

    Thank you for all the kind words. Mary had a beautiful service yesterday. On Friday we will bury her ashes along with my brother Michael’s and some of Patrick’s as well at my parents horse farm where they grew up. The present owner was a boarder there and continues to board horses. She was great and said it would be an honor to have them buried there.


  10. Hi Chris,
    Loved the pictures – snow can be so beautiful. I would, however, agree with Inge that it was a moderately serious snow here but if you’re not used to it it’s a different story. Glad your spin in the car didn’t result in an accident. Each year with the first snowfall it seems that people have forgotten to drive in snow.

    For your listening pleasure I give you Bob Rivers “Yellow Snow” from his album, “Twisted Christmas”.


  11. Chris,

    Wow, that was a healthy amount of snow. Good to see Ollie experimented with “snow coloring”. Thanks for the credit…

    Good job with the containers with the grain guys. I buy a few things from the bulk bins at one grocery store, and all they have available are hideously thin plastic bags. Sometimes I wonder if they break on the way home. I could probably bring my own solid container and place the “yellow snow plastic” in that. (Thanks to thecrowandsheep for that idea.)

    Enjoyed the pictures tremendously. They reminded me of what Spokane looked like in February. Scritchy had the right idea staying in the bean bag. The parrots in the snow look spectacular.

    In the picture labelled “Snow washed the colours out of the landscape”, I noticed that there were human footprints in the snow in the middle of the road, and that the footprints disappeared. I assume that they faded into the distance of the photo. However, the Mysteriously Disappearing Footprints do beg the question: is there an automobile in your general vicinity that is now sporting a human hood ornament?

    The picture of the solar panels speak volumes! I enjoyed the comment you made at Mr. Greer’s forum regarding that. I also enjoyed the “thermal mass physics lesson that was so apparent with the water tanks and the snow.

    We officially got about 1.25 cm of rain in Spokane, although my neighborhood probably got more than that. There were no new fires from the various lightning strikes. In fact, the big Williams Flats fire took direct hits from the rain, complete with torrential rain and some flash flooding. 64 of the firefighters had to spend a night out in the rain on the fire lines, as the road to their location had gotten washed out. They were fine and rescued by helicopter the next morning. The fire is more of a smolder in the hot spots, which could always reignite later this week when the temperatures warm back up. But it looks like the worst is over.

    People take 37kg dogs VERY seriously, especially if the dogs don’t make a big show out of being friendly.


  12. Hi Chris,

    As others have commented, those are beautiful pictures of the snow. I’ve noticed that to get the best snow pictures, I need to take them while it’s still snowing or just after it ends. Past that and the wind blows the snow off the trees and/or it starts melting off.

    That would be considered a relatively light snow in St. Louis. It would have to be 6 inches or more to be labeled as heavy snow here. Needless to say, however, a light snow can create vehicular havoc and have negative effects on some plantings.

    In anyplace in the US where it snows most winters, we are taught, or supposed to be taught, how to drive in it. Skidding on snow or ice is a common event and it produces a reaction called fishtailing, where the back end of the car goes in a different direction than the front end. We are taught to steer in the direction in which the back end is heading. It can feel unnatural, but it will bring the car out of a skid, although there may be a secondary movement of the rear end in the other direction, to which one responds by again steering the car in the direction in which the rear end is going.

    Like others, I had my teenage driver skidding experience. In my case I was aiming to make a left turn on a snow-covered road. However, the rear end of the car didn’t pay attention to me. As I’d been taught in driver education (sadly, no longer a part of many public schools due to budget cutbacks), I steered the car in the direction of the rear end. It came out of that skid, with the rear end then heading in the opposite direction to the initial skid, just as I’d been taught was likely. I steered in that direction and the car came out of the skid and headed in the direction I meant it to go. A nice physics demonstration!

    Years later, Mike and I were heading north on I-57 through southern Illinois during a snowstorm. Mike was driving. As we drove, we saw an increasing number of trucks that had skidded off the road into the median (this was before states put up barriers to prevent such), and not long before because we started seeing drivers climbing out of their trucks! The road was getting more treacherous. Mike slowed down and we carefully approached the intersection with I-64 at Mount Vernon, which we were to follow the rest of the way to St. Louis. It was just before the exit where Mike went into a skid that resulted in the car doing a full 180 degree turn before it ended, still on the road just before the exit but pointed the wrong way. Fortunately there were no other vehicles nearby. Mike turned back around, exited, and we decided it was time to stop someplace for an early lunch and wait for a few hours, to allow the snowplows, salt trucks, and time to clear off the road ahead of us. It worked; the rest of the drive home was on wet but ice-free road. These days, since we don’t have to be back home for employment, we are better able to avoid driving when the roads are snow and/or ice covered.

    More on the steamboat trip to follow.


  13. @ Damo,

    It’s good to get more verification about the sugar content in our bread. Thanks. I agree that having some good meat pie shops here would be a welcome development.

    I think Mr. Greer was a bit taken aback by the amount and tone of the comments about Greta. I also know from personal experience that one with Aspergers can dig in and get extra stubborn when surprised by the tone of a response. He just might have morphed that into a bit of trolling, too.


  14. Chris,

    Forgot to mention about your Suzuki Vitara. The first time I saw one of those, I misread the “Vitara”. I thought it said “Viagra”. And yes, that particular Vitara was blue.


  15. Hi Chris,

    Before the steamboat, an update on our weather. After the 5 inch rain a week before the steamboat trip began, there had been little rain here. I was prepared to begin watering part of the garden today if the possible rain for yesterday and today didn’t materialize. Well, it over-materialized. Starting yesterday (Sunday) evening and ending an hour or so ago – roughly a 12 hour time span – we received about 5.5 inches of rain. It was so much rain that it filled the rain gauge past the last marking at 5.0 inches, so I had to estimate the amount. Another few tenths of an inch and it would have overflowed the gauge. Again the Mississippi River went up by a full foot at St. Louis in just a few hours. All the area creeks flash flooded, including the one that I do water quality monitoring on. I just checked the automated hydrograph for that creek and I think there was so much flooding it broke the instrument, because the last measurement of the stream height was 7 hours ago. At that point the creek was almost 2 feet over flood stage and still rising.

    OK, the steamboat trip. We were supposed to travel from a suburb of Minneapolis-St. Paul down the Mississippi River to Alton, IL, just upriver of St. Louis and only a 15 minute drive from home. Up until a couple weeks before we went on the trip I wasn’t sure it would happen at all, because the Mississippi River was still flooded at St. Louis and elsewhere and the boat is too tall to fit under some of the bridges when the river is in flood. We had travel insurance, but still. Then, a week before we left, we got an email from the steamboat company, saying that the trip would take place but it would be re-routed due to residual flooding on the upper Mississippi. It would begin at Cincinnati, on the Ohio River, travel downriver from there to its confluence with the Mississippi, and then travel upriver to St. Louis. Because of the change we were given certificates for 25% off on another trip at a later date, and because everyone would have to make last-minute changes to get to the new departure location the company paid any cancellation fees for making those changes. In our case that meant cancelling our train reservations to the original embarkation point. Train travel to Cincinnati isn’t convenient and it’s only a 5 or so hour drive from here, so we rented a car one way and drove there. Much cheaper than flying, and with all the airport hassles these days, I’m sure we got there just as soon.

    The boat we traveled on, the American Queen, is the oldest (about 25 years), biggest, and most luxurious of the company’s riverboats. All of the boats have stern-mounted paddlewheels, but only on the American Queen does the paddlewheel actually propel the boat, via a diesel-powered steam engine. (As you mentioned, the steam engine is surprising quiet in operation – not the steam calliope though! The calliope operator let passengers, including Mike and I, play it ourselves one late afternoon. That was fun!) That’s why Mike wanted to travel on this boat. One of his big interests is steamboats and the steamboat era, so he wanted to travel on a steamboat once in his life. It took him several years to save up enough money so we could both enjoy such a trip. While I’m not so much into steamboats as he is, I love rivers and lakes and boating on them (he does too), so there was as much for me to like as there was for him. Plus it gave me a chance to see what the landscape along the river and the river towns looked like.

    Similar to a Caribbean cruise, the boat stops at different cities for a morning or both morning and afternoon. While moored, the company provides buses to bus passengers to various local attractions. Beyond those buses, which are included in the price for the trip as a whole, there were premium excursions at an extra cost to go to particular, farther-out attractions. Mike and I skipped all the premium excursions. In most cases we didn’t use the local buses, because all the places the buses were going were close enough for us to walk to. (Most of the passengers were older than us; many of them needed the buses.)

    Besides Cincinnati (Ohio), we stopped at Louisville, Brandenburg, Henderson, and Paducah on the Kentucky side of the Ohio river, and Cape Girardeau on the Missouri side of the Mississippi River. Here are my impressions of these.

    First of all, with the exception of Brandenburg, the riverfront areas in all the towns appeared economically well-off. Cincinnati in particular was very expensive near the river. Each town, again with the exception noted, appears to have decided to concentrate economic and cultural development near the riverfront, with plenty of museums, restored period houses, floodwalls with murals of the town’s history painted on them, and artsy shops for us to visit and enjoy. While I don’t think any of them did this thinking that the river will once again become a major mode of transportation, they are all well positioned for that time. Even now there is a considerable freight traffic on the rivers to move large quantities of bulky materials like grains and coal.

    Brandenburg, the one exception, was the only one of our stops that was a rural crossroads rather than a small to good sized city. Because of its rural nature, there were no local museums or other touristy places, and so there were no local buses. There was a premium tour, to President Lincoln’s birthplace, which we did not go on. Instead, we walked along the riverfront park and read the historical markers and plaques. There was even a small version (4 panels) of the floodwall murals in the bigger towns. Then we walked along the road up the bluff, past some old houses, to the state highway running along the ridge that is the biggest road of the town and along part of that before retracing our steps. There was a nature trail starting from the riverfront park and going up an undisturbed part of the bluff through a forest and past two small waterfalls. We walked the trail up to the first waterfall and back, which proved to be a refreshing break from walking through city streets.

    Rather than going to any of the “entertainment” on the boat (our experience on the only other cruise we’ve ever been on, 30 years ago, was that it isn’t entertaining), whenever the boat was moving we sat on the observation deck. We watched the landscape change from rather hilly around Cincinnati to lower hills to almost flat on the Illinois side of both the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. I noticed the trees nearest the river were different species (different shaped leaves) from those several feet farther away. During the most rural part of the trip, we gazed on far more stars than we can see at home. We gaped as we cleared bridges by only a few feet in some cases (the smokestacks of the boat are hinged so they lay flat when going under bridges, and the pilothouse is an elevator so it drops down 9 feet when necessary). We traveled through several locks. And while neither river was flooded, we could tell that the Mississippi River was still several feet higher than usual at this time of year, and we could sometimes see where there was water left on land from when it had been flooded and the water table was still too high to allow that land to drain.

    The boat itself is a far higher class experience than Mike and I are used to. The food is rich and fatty and rather avant-garde. It took me a few days to figure out how much to eat without overdoing it. There is about a 3:1 passenger: staff ratio (explains the cost).

    We met and talked with quite a few of the other passengers. Apparently we were the exception in this being our first cruise with the company. In fact, some of the passengers had already been on this particular run but had not been on the upper Mississippi before, so they were disappointed with the re-route. Some of the people we talked to were farmers, who verified that the very wet spring and early summer had an adverse effect on their crops. The ones from central Illinois were also dealing with a recent lack of rain and incipient drought.

    I now return you to your regularly scheduled comments.


  16. Yo, Chris – Well, to paraphrase, if you want to give the gods a giggle, make plans :-). Look at the bright side. You’ll have years of photos, for your Christmas cards. And when you’re a doddering old dude, you can say, “This is nothing! I remember the winter of ’19!”

    Dust storms are brown outs and blizzards are white outs. Doesn’t sound too imaginative. Although there’s that recently invented (?) word (can’t remember) for brown outs down in our SW.

    Let’s see. Road spin out (check), cabin fever (check.) I’d say you’ve had the whole winter experience. It is so interesting when the land goes all black and white, during a snow fall. I also wondered if you had noticed, before you even get out of bed, how the light reflected on the walls and ceiling is different. I usually know when it’s snowed, without even looking out the window.

    My favorite picture is Ollie and Toothy trying to entice Scritchy, out to play. He’s having none of it. “Daffodils in Yellow Snow.” Great idea for a painting :-). I do hope all your tender plants, make it through ok. And your forest. The Tree Dudes may have to make an appearance. More next years firewood.

    About that bag of coconut. Perhaps it’s time to clip the claws? Though I know you must keep them a bit on the long side, to fight off rampant wombats and kangaroos. :-). Your lucky to have the Grain Dudes. There used to be a couple of stores around that had great bulk selections of grains and nuts. Sadly, all now gone. As far as I know, there isn’t a good bulk bin selection, anywhere in the county. At least one store carries what looks like a full line of Bob’s Red Mill products. Cont.

  17. Cont. Will the culture relocalize and diverge wildly? Hmmm. Probably different, place to place. But maybe some generalities can be stated. Maybe. Western culture has pretty much overlayed, much of the world. I say “Western”, and not just the U.S.. As an example, the Japanese (so I’ve been led to believe) are wild for French paintings and high English teas. Of course, their manga comics travel, everywhere. I’d guess some places will try and stamp out any perceived “foreign” influences, and return to a “purer” local tradition. Other places, may “crystalize” for a couple of hundred years. Rigid adherence to the status quo. I was just thinking about how some English words, died in England in the Colonial days, but were maintained here. We can only consult “Into the Ruins” and our crystal balls, to get a murky picture.

    Ooops! I was not clear. I was thinking of Mallory’s “Le Morte d’Arthur.” All that questing about. A kind of travelogue.

    I’ve always found it interesting that places at the same latitude can have wildly divergent weather and climate. Seems to be all about the oceans and the currents.

    Not many bees about, this year. Honey or bumble. Last year, the bumble bees were three deep, in the squash blossoms. I see a solitary, from time to time. But, something is pollinating. I’ve got way more squash this year, than last. And, I noticed the first little green tomatoes, on my plants. The blueberries have their usual bumper crop. Something must have pollinated, them.

    Speaking of blueberries, I picked a good gallon +, yesterday. When I’m finished here, I’ll get them off the freezer trays, and into a bag. We have many varieties. Some are beginning to fall on the ground. I seem to be the only one doing any serious picking. I worry constantly that someone will complain that “Lew is picking all the blueberries.” I’m sure someone who has never turned a hand to pick there own. Communal life at it’s best :-).

    Well, the whole Shabby Chic and “Country” look, took the country by storm. I think it’s abating a bit. Steve would drive around, looking for falling down barns and sheds, and offer to remove them. I doubt he ever paid for salvaged wood. There’s so much of it around. I saw an article a few years ago, and managed to find it again. It’s about salvaging cypress and heart pine logs, out of rivers.

    If the site is blocked, you can just do a search for “sinker wood.” It seems to be kind of a cottage industry, on our east coast. I don’t know if it’s mentioned in the article, but they also salvage wood, now valuable and rare, from trees killed by blight. American chestnut?

    No easy answer about what to do with the blue hat. I often end up with something that either just isn’t “me”, or, doesn’t jive with my decor. It’s always a struggle to turn loose of it (previous investment, no matter how small) and find a good home for it. And will the memory of the item, nag at you, for years? Oh, yeah. I often jump through those hoops. I occasionally find myself buying something, that I sold years ago…and regretted. Just as an experiment, you may try putting it on and looking in a mirror. Frequently. Perhaps silliness will outweigh possession. You might also ask yourself if what you see is the person you are, or the person you want to be? Could be worse. You might be into crowns or giant Roman military helmets with colorful horsehair crests! 🙂 Lew

  18. @ Inge – Ohhh! The Waugh sounds good. Our library doesn’t have it. But, they have a lot of Waugh. Maybe I’ll interlibrary loan it, after I clear “England, Their England.”

    I read a good biography, of him, maybe a year ago. Interesting, if prickly, man. Lew

  19. Hi crowandsheep,

    Hehe! A tidy suggestion with the grain dudes, and also very amusing. Almost certainly they will be confused by the comment, and this is a good thing and it will be entertaining to watch their perplexity.

    Yeah, nah, no regrets there. Life is too short for ordinary pies and surely you must agree with that goal?



  20. Hi Inge,

    I note that your opinion regarding the snow has been confirmed by other people, so I feel I must bow to the general consensus in this matter. On the other hand, it was a lot of snow!!! Hehe!

    I’d read elsewhere that the kangaroo video had gone viral around the world. Kangaroos are extraordinarily hardy to both rain and cold, and often their forest brethren the smaller wallabies take shelter during such weather. But not the kangaroos they’re out in the conditions regardless. Any animal that can survive on a diet of 85% spinifex grass has encountered some very seriously tough selection pressures in the past – and survived and thrived.

    Oh, yellow snow (A new style of expletive!) you have to get formal permits to thin a protected hedgerow. Far out. I did note that in order to lodge a complaint a not insubstantial fee had to be paid.

    Excellent news about the rain. Hopefully the pond has refilled and the frogs are happily calling to one another in the dark? The dark forest is rarely quiet here.

    Yup, I tend to agree with your son’s perspective in the matter. The easy way is often the road to perdition. I’ve encountered a lot of people in my time who are looking for the easy path. I’m not sure that it is there to be found.



  21. Hi Margaret,

    Hehe! Thanks for the vote, and so far in the tally room we have: Heavy Snow (me) 1 : Moderately serious snow (2). It sure is getting lonely on my side of that scorecard, and well, I cheated because I’ve already read the rest of the comments and no how the vote turns out!!! 🙂

    Thank you for saying that about the photos, and also thank you for taking the time to drop by and say hello.

    I had no idea that spinning a car around in snow and ice was even a possibility in the first place. Of course it is a bit warmer down here at 37.5’S.

    A frisky little pooch Van Gogh! Hehe! Thanks for the giggles and laughs.

    It is such a lovely idea with the ashes and very thoughtful. I hope that the day is beautiful and the sun shines benignly as you spread the ashes at your parents ex-horse farm.



  22. Hi DJ,

    Ollie is working hard to test the hypothesis. 🙂

    Now I’m in the tally room examining your vote. The scrutineers have been called over to provide a second opinion. The majority of opinions have decided that “healthy amount of snow” is the equivalent of Moderately serious snow. That makes the vote: Heavy Snow (me) 1 : Moderately serious snow (3). I’m considering my legal options at this stage. 🙂

    Credit where credit is due – you started it! Yellow snow may become a new expletive…

    Buying bulk items is a good way to save money, reduce packaging, whilst also subversively forcing one to cook from scratch. Cooking has a bit of art and science to it, but it is hardly the arduous task that people make it out to be. The containers stack up nicely too. In the market, the stall holders reset the scales with the empty container on them. The largest container weighs in at 400g, so light weight (and very thin) plastic bags make processing the sale easier for them. 😉

    Scritchy had to produce some yellow snow eventually and got to experience the conditions first hand, or should that be paw? The bean bag was only ever a temporary reprieve. When she shuffles off this mortal coil, the bean bag will follow her. The dogs like the bean bag a bit too much. It was Sir Poopy’s undoing that bean bag.

    It is amazing how the colours washed out of every photo, except where the birds and animals were. Spokane sounds rather nice.

    You are clearly an observant reader. What actually happened in that particular Saturday photo was that there was a lady in a small sedan who was also walking around the area and enjoying the snow. She drove off in her sedan down the forested track heading deeper into the forest. I know the track reasonably well. After she disappeared, I took the photo and the footprints were hers. Now about a minute or two later, the editor and I noticed that a large crane / log truck also turned into the forest track and headed towards the softwood forest coup (bonkers working that day, but still). There is a large Douglas Fir / Radiata (Monterey) Pine plantation that is being harvested up on the main ridge. I only hoped that the lady did not decide to turn around in her sedan – you can get back down the hill via that track so it was a valid option. Anyway, she looked like she knew what she was doing.

    Thanks! The photons really struggle to push their way through the snow, but try telling true solar believers that. And yeah, the water tanks hold enough water that they enjoy the benefits of thermal inertia. They would have to lose a lot of energy before the large volume of water froze. But likewise, it takes more than a week of solid – and truly horrid – high temperatures before the water contained therein rises to a tepid level. Water in above ground pipes is a whole different matter.

    Great news that you received some rain, and that the fires may have been dampened a bit. Smouldering fires can still present risk though, but it really depends on how much combustible material that is left to burn around them. Stumps and tree roots can burn for a very long time, and it can surprise people.

    Ollie happens to be a reasonable judge of character. I’m trying to train him so that he is a giant love monster, but at times he has his own ideas.



  23. Hi Claire,

    Thank you, and thanks also for the camera tips. I had a lot of trouble taking the photographs because the light was so poor due to the thick cloud. It is funny you mention that, but the sound of the chunks of snow falling from high up in the canopy of the trees was quite uncanny. My senses kept alerting me to the fact that there were things moving around the forest, but inevitably they turned out to be falling chunks of heavy snow. I’m usually alert for very large 7ft kangaroos, whom I have no intention of deliberately annoying. That’s Ollie’s job and why he gets paid.

    Claire, your observation makes the tally: Heavy Snow (me) 1 : Moderately serious snow (4). All I’m asking for is a bit of support!!! Hehe! Not really, the results are now in for anyone to read and they are most final in this matter.

    Driver education in such situations would be quite handy and thanks for the tips. Your idea would never have occurred to me in the heat of the moment. And yes, it is an excellent example of physics in action. It all happened alarmingly quickly for me, so I guess the driver education for such incidents down here is the ‘school of hard knocks’ . I was seriously grateful not to have crashed into anyone else, or to have fallen off the steep embankment.

    Oh my! What a story, and thanks for sharing both snow stories. Far out. It is nice not to be in a hurry to get anywhere. Such haste makes for a stressful existence. However, I note that despite my feelings in this important matter, and also the snow last weekend, the roses really have to get in the ground – and soon. Sunday is forecast to be 20’C / 68’F. Just saying that my head hurts.

    Your comment had not disappeared at all. For some reason the spam filter is a bit overly sensitive, and it captured but also trashed your comment – which I shall reply to later. I’m yet to lose a patient, err, sorry comment on this platform. The old Blogger platform used to lose comments all of the time… It was a bit of a worry but the platform was also free, and one cannot complain in such a circumstance. The steamboat trip sounds awesome and I shall get a chance to talk to you about it this Friday when things are quieter.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    The Gods have a wicked sense of humour because this coming Sunday it is forecast to reach 68’F. My head hurts contemplating the change and variability. The UV is now moderate (up from low). Hey, I could see that too. People would wheel me out and prop me on the rocking chair where I’d pronounce that the snow was not quite as good as it was back in ’19. That was a big fall that was. The idea has a certain sort of plausibility to it… When I mentioned plans, I was actually thinking of Simon Pegg in Shaun of the Dead: The electronics store scene where he is the boss for the day due to unfortunate circumstances.

    How funny is that? Down here in different parts of the country we had both kinds: Brown outs (dust storms) and then White outs (Blizzards). The alpine areas received almost 20 inches of fresh snow over the week. I saw some photos of the cars parked in those areas and all you could see were the side mirrors sticking out of abominable snowmen.

    Cabin fever was not good last weekend. I ask you this: How much can a Koala Bear? Not much apparently. I couldn’t believe when we got the gourmet pies (they really are that good) that the sun was shining and I could feel the warmth on the side of my face that was turned towards the sun. No doubt they enjoy a longer growing season in that part of the world.

    Now that you mention it, the light was sort of weird that day. Somehow muted, but also and despite that, the light was bouncing everywhere. The photographs were very hard to take, but mostly because I’m used to a bit more natural light levels.

    Yup, Scritchy was having none of it. She waits for conditions to be just right, and when they’re not optimal she tries to sneak her business in the house. At 18 years of age, she is untrainable, and she knows it’s wrong. We’re having a battle of wills at the moment, her and I. She may be winning.

    “Daffodils in Yellow Snow”. Genius! 🙂 I’m still chuckling about the thought of that painting. People in later years will argue one way or the other whether the esteemed painter was casting a reflection of the light of the flowers onto the snow. But we will know the truth of the matter. What a mystery we’ll leave for the future. Someone recounted to me that a Roman Emperor apparently spun such a riddle on his death bed. What a rotter.

    Kangaroos and wombats will mess you up a treat if a person was to foolishly disturb them at their important marsupial business. It is a bit like going into the wrong area of town and interrupting someone else’s altercation. Ollie is not just for show, he has a job to do, and he is learning the ropes. Mind you, he’s yet to encounter a stag with a herd of does. I’m unsure how that encounter will go. I hope he is fast and avoids the antlers. Kangaroos have wicked sharp claws and wombats can bite.

    The market is very good and some evenings it is open to 6pm so it is really one of those enterprises that is worth supporting. None of the fruit and veg or other products come in plastic bags, they’re just with stallholders in display sort of… I don’t actually know how to describe the displays, and I might take the camera next time and pretend that I’m touristing. It is how things have been done at the markets down here since at least the late 19th century. You mentioned a market near to the coast in, was it Portland?

    I was unaware about the Japanese penchant for High Tea. Hey, the Japanese would probably love this place: High Tea at the Hopetoun Tea Rooms Melbourne. The images will blow you away. The tea rooms really look like that, and the cakes are amazing.

    Yeah, manga is a thing down here too. I had a mate who was seriously into comics or graphic novels as they’re called. It is a good art form and I was pretty impressed with what I saw of the work.

    Hmm. So it might be a bit of a grab bag of ideas that fits an area? But I can sort of see how it might be tempting to stick to some sort of arbitrary belief of what a ‘purer’ form of the culture should be. It is a bit of a trap though, but defending ideals might keep them busy.

    Ah, thanks for the clarification and it is most certainly a very different Malory. I did rather enjoy one academics view on the character as he: “reads more like an account of exemplary thuggery than chivalry”! No doubt Sir Thomas led a rather interesting life and may have come unstuck from time to time. Honestly, his life reads like a script written for Errol Flynn.

    It is weird isn’t it about the variance in climate. I have much to thank for the workings of the Southern Ocean, and also the elevation of this old volcano which sticks out like a pimple on the bottom of the world.

    My bees have been rather quiet too, but give them time and we’ll see what happens. The wild honey bees in your part of the world may not have appreciated the wet spring. Their honey ferments if the humidity is too high for too long and they get rather ill consuming their carefully packaged stores. Mind you, the almonds are toast if the honey bees disappear, however during mid spring and summer, honey bees are the lesser pollinators here. They just forage when nothing else does in early spring.

    Top work with the gallon+. Honestly I’m salivating thinking about the yummy berries, which cost a small fortune down here. We were only tonight discussing increasing the size of the raspberry patch. More growing space is always good. But really? Blueberries falling on the ground? My mind recoils in horror at the prospect of such waste.

    Steve was a serious entrepreneur to have used the old farm buildings – which are often falling down. Yup, I too have heard such stories down this way and farmers were happy to hand the demolition products over – and word would have got around in no time. The bush telegraph would have done Steve a serious favour.

    Thanks for the article on the recovered old timbers. How good are the folks doing that work? I’m impressed. That activity goes on too in Tasmania with some species of tree that were coveted for boat building because they were resistant to rotting and lived well over a millennia. And I also believe that logs are removed from swamps in New Zealand where they may have laid for thousands of years.

    Ah yes, the blue hat is nagging at the edges of my attention. I’m going to try forcing myself to wear it and see whether I can get comfortable in it. Yeah, I can fully understand how you might purchase something that you had once had and lost or never got in the first place. Such is the way of regret and it is an emotion best avoided. I wrote about that loss a long while ago and it was a Steel Dragon which I regret not purchasing. It would have looked great leering down at visitors from the ridge of one of the sheds. I’d never considered that there might be a disconnect between who people are and who they want to be. Hmm. It seems like a dangerous gap to me. What do you reckon about that: Dangerous or no?



  25. Hi, Chris!

    My first thought on seeing your photos was: Wow – that’s a lot of snow! For you – that is a lot of snow! I guess it’s relative.

    I laughed a bunch at your market grain fellows anecdote. They are quite the characters. Good for you for daring to take your own containers. My son went yesterday on his monthly trip to drop off our recyclables at the local recycling center. They have now cut in half the kinds of different things that can be dropped off. Thanks to you, I guess we were a bit prepared mentally for that. One of the things no longer accepted is junk mail. We get a large load of that per week.

    I love the photo with the washed-out colors. Your photos at home are even more beautiful. Aren’t you glad that you have all those photos, especially the venerable Mr. Toothy enjoying his snow walk? I knew Ollie would love the snow. We should expect no less from Scritchy than that the queen should stay inside on her throne. The parrots-in-the-snow photos were phenomenal.

    It is so neat to be able to see the water levels on your tanks.

    I was taught that on ice – as well as in rain – to never slam on your brakes, but to pump them lightly.

    I have come across a Youtube video of Paul Simon and Chevy Chase doing a duet together. As you might guess, it is very funny.


  26. @ Margaret:

    What a wonderful idea about your family members’ ashes and what generous people to let you do so on your old homestead.


  27. @ Inge:

    When we hear chainsaws in our area everyone goes: “Yay! Someone else is cutting up the tree in the road for a change.” I believe you are in a protected area, though (which we are not)?


  28. Yo, Chris – Hmmm. I didn’t realize you were tallying severity of snow. I’d say, a pretty ho-hum average snow fall. For here :-). Our mid-westerners would probably consider it to be “a light dusting.” Given the rise in temperature coming your way, you might want to consider a bit of flooding, in planning your comings and goings.

    Here, it was 82F (27.77) yesterday, and we’re to have the same today and tomorrow. Nighttime lows are in the mid 50sF (around 12C).

    I’m a bit disturbed by Prof. Mass’s last post. It’s all about climate change. The man is a glutton for punishment. I’m a bit disappointed. He’s clearly not into disaster porn (a weakness of mine, which Mr. Greer pointed out, early on 🙂
    He mentions population control, which will get him in trouble. Death panels! Genocide! (As his critics will say.) What is really disturbing is that he seems to believe in everlasting progress. He mentions “technical breakthroughs” and even (are you ready?) fusion. Nuclear power, is also ok. Well, I’ll continue to read him, as I learn so much. But on that topic, I guess we’ll have to agree, to disagree. I had an odd thought, last night. Prof. Mass has children. I really wonder if people with children tend to take a rosier view of the future? Because the alternative is just to grim to contemplate?

    Well, most of the grocery stores, here, tend to have piles of artfully arranged fruit and veg. What’s funny is that Safeway has misters, over some of the bins. They’re on a timer, but right before they swing into action, there’s a low sound of thunder, through a sound system. Warning you of approaching downpour.

    I haven’t been this year, but I’m hearing that the Chehalis Farmer’s Market, doesn’t have much produce, this year. That some of the farmers that brought in fruit and veg, have vanished. I suppose they put their efforts to where they can get the best return. Chehalis isn’t probably high on the list. So you get a lot of artsy craftsy things, and prepared foods. Same thing happened a few years ago, at the Centralia Farmer’s Market. Olympia and Seattle have more the kind of market that your grannie would recognize. It seems it takes a city to support something, like that.

    The Hopetoun Tea Room looks pretty yummy. People travel to the Empress Hotel, in Victoria, B.C.. Just to experience the high tea. One of our little library branches (Tenino) had an English woman working there, and, each year, the Friends of the Tenino Library would throw a high tea, as a fund raiser. I don’t know if they still do it.

    Yeah, if you want a good gage of inflation, it is the ever rising cost of berries. I’m happy that we have the blueberries, here at the Institution. Blackberries are free for the picking. Anything else, space vs yield just doesn’t pencil out. I hate waste, too. I’m happy to pick the good berries off the ground. As long as I stay on top of them, there’s not too much waste.

    LOL. I didn’t quit see what I was looking for, at the hat site. So, after, I did three searches … Amish, Quaker and Mennonite hats, for sale. Ah, that’s what I was looking for. Not that I think I’ll pull the trigger.

    Well, as you know, I read a lot about hoarding. Helps keep my own impulses, under control. That’s where I ran across that “who you are, or who you want to be.” So, in that way, yup, it can be a dangerous gap.

    Well, once more into the breach. HRH and I (and my neighbor) are off to see the vet, this afternoon. And, the HUD inspection is tomorrow … maybe. It’s early, but there seems to be a lot of people with their hair on fire, about. Lew

  29. Hi Chris,

    Did you not, if I recall correctly, suffer the company of some previous grain ladies (grainies) who were less than jocular and the pendulum has swung far too far in the other direction? Are these jovial grain guys the pre-inverse-reincarnation of those grumpy older grainies?

    Life is indeed too short for ordinary pies, and indeed ordinary snow! Central Euro bakeries could use a pie or two. Not to worry, plenty of dried croissants to screw your nose up at.

  30. Hi Chris.

    Snow! How nice. I am a great fan of snow – as long as it doesn’t overstay its welcome of course. Living in Cornwall we rarely – if ever – see the stuff. Apparently it’s something to do with the surrounding ocean keeping the atmosphere too warm and moist. Saying that, we did have some a couple of years back, which was enough to throw many people into a state of terror that it would never go away again.

    Thanks for the reminder of Australian meat pies. Having travelled all over Oz on your Greyhound buses back in the day, I always remember the joy of pulling into whatever godforsaken outback truck stop at an ungodly hour and being greeted with the sight and smell of Mrs Mac’s Famous Meat Pies. If memory serves, they came in little tinfoil containers. Happy times, although I’m sure they aren’t a patch on the artisan created ones you can enjoy.

    It’s currently rainy and damp here – summer seems to have gone away. I’m not complaining mind you, the moisture was very needed and it has brought out my first ever lion’s mane mushroom. These things can reach rather large proportions and I’m going to check on its progress later today. Said mushroom was ‘incubating’ in the log for about four years and – interestingly enough – it first showed its shaggy head on the 8th of August. This would be the very same day certain astrologically minded people were excitedly saying that we are heading into the ‘Lionsgate’. Coincidence?



  31. Hello again
    It is raining at present and there is water in my pond. It wasn’t full yesterday and I haven’t been out to look yet today.
    That tea spread in Melbourne had me drooling. This superb afternoon tea thing is everywhere here now but none as good as that one or as expensive.
    The news has just informed me that we have a cauliflower crisis; a shortage due to the rain here and the dry heat elsewhere. Misuse of the word crisis I reckon.


    @ Pam
    Yes I am on land that has recently become protected beyond belief. A neighbour who tried to fight the edict (always a big mistake) has been told that he may not cut his grass.


  32. Hi Pam, Lewis, crowandsheep, Jason and Inge.

    Many thanks for the lovely comments, however the mid-week hiatus is upon me, and this evening was a Gumbo night. Gumbo is a dish of south eastern American origins (I believe and please correct me if I am wrong in this matter). It is like a spicy chilli tomato soup with some plain rice (to dunk into the broth) some small chunks of andouille sausage and whatever vegetables I guess they had to hand. It is a very tasty dish, but is only offered as an occasional special, so rather than responding to the lovely comments here, I was stuffing my face full of Gumbo. Sacrifices must occasionally be made! Hope to have more time tomorrow to reply, but the digging plans are extensive. Goals have been set, the UV is now moderate, and hopefully the roses get in the soil over the next few days. Stay tuned!



  33. @ Inge:

    My first thought is that restrictions like you have are set up to run people out so that others may benefit, be that from enjoying land – that is not their own bought-and-paid-for property – in its wild state or as a moneymaking venture without having to invest much, if any, money into it (think concessions). I am sure that there are some very sincere people involved and there does need to be protections sometimes. My county has Designated Growth Areas as suburbs had been springing up willy nilly all over the countryside. So a map was made and only very specific areas were okayed to develope on the fringes of the town. At least there are no longer developments of MacMansions sprouting way out in farmland, but that can be a hardship for the farmer, who has a hard enough time making a living and would like to sell for big bucks and retire. The growth is still too much and a vast section of forest near the river was recently cut down for a huge new development. The only consolation is that Walmart is quite near it.

    As we well know, there just is no “fair” for all.


  34. Chris:

    When my son was recently rebuilding the frame of my husband’s pickup truck bed he had, of course, to do a lot of welding. At first he was using a large welder (mig? tig? pig . . .?) and had to use the gas-fueled generator with it as it was using too much of the power from the house’s mains electricity. Then he was able to switch to a small welder that he could plug into the house. That became funny as I would be reading and the lamp by me would flicker the whole time he welded (must have been on the same circuit).

    I know that you weld a lot. Do you use a generator?


  35. Hi Lewis,

    The gumbo was very good. As would be expected down here, there was very little andouille sausage, which is to be more or less expected. I tell you though, I’m full up to my eye balls! 🙂

    Thanks for the extra vote. Math was never my thing, however if I am not mistaken, with your vote that makes the tally: Heavy Snow (me) 1 : Moderately serious snow (5). Although reading between the lines with Jason’s comment, he maybe indicating that the snow falls into the Heavy Snow category? Thus proving that the matter is a relative question and much depends upon the answer. And he’s in Arthur’s country so I reckon that adds on an extra +1 vote. 🙂

    You made an astute observation and flooding is a nightmare for me. I recall several occasions when 4 inches of rain fell in under an hour, and such a huge volume of concentrated water causes an enormous amount of damage. You may recall the infamous landslide about two years ago? We have plans to tackle that particular situation given the alarming regularity with which such storms occur, but it takes a lot of time and effort, and we are basically gambling by doing other tasks in preference.

    Your weather sounds superb. 52’F here today, but now it is only 39’F. Digging is planned for tomorrow. Yay to get outside and dig some soil!

    It was particularly interesting to see that Cliff Mass replied to commenters in some instances. I was impressed by that. And he used the F-word. Naughty him. Who believes in fusion power these days? As far as I can tell there is the economy for one fusion device in this here solar system! And this here solar system ain’t big enough for two fusion devices, pardner. 😉

    Anyway, there is nothing wrong with disaster porn, and a drop in the standard of living would be a disaster for a whole lot of people. I know people just a bit younger than I, who have never experienced a recession as an adult and they have a sunnier outlook on the future than I (or you). During the oil crisis of the 70’s I recall that my mum was driving around in a Mini Moke (Californian model) and that thing was small, but it was big enough for all of us. And it used stuff all fuel due to the light weight. But that was what people did back then. Even the cars I thought were huge back then look tiny today. I’m not sure how mentally prepared people are for any backward steps, although if you look at the quality of stuff these days then I reckon we’ve already shifted backwards in some regards. And the increasing debt story papers over the reality of what would otherwise be happening.

    But yes, he did mention the unmentionable topic… And maybe you have to have a rosier outlook on the future to travel on that particular journey. It is a fascinating question, but I tell ya, I see a lot of depression and anxiety in people. And others are just outright angry. At a guess those emotions are an expression of the gap between ideals and reality, but that is just a hunch.

    Wow! You enjoy some interesting perquisites in your country. I’ve never seen misters over fruit and vegetables. I tell you, on a hot day, the markets have a pungent aroma, and much discounting of produce goes on. Canny folk can usually turn up late in the day and haggle with store holders, if they’re not outright offering discounts anyway.

    I can see how that could come to pass with the farmers markets. They’re a mixed bag down here too, and often the produce is very seasonal and people have sort of lost sight of what that looks like. For some reason that I have no understanding of, I suspect people do not eat a lot of fresh greens these days. I’m uncertain why this may be.

    Oooo! I love that building. If I were ever in British Columbia that is where I would choose to stay, and I’d love every minute of the experience. 🙂 It is a beautiful building. Have you ever stayed there? When I occasionally stay overnight in the big smoke, I prefer the old school ambience of the: Hotel Windsor (Melbourne). A very similar style and age of building. Such buildings fit their clothes well and comfortably.

    Berry-flation is a thing here too! Strawberries are good, but as you say the yields are low compared to the infrastructure required to grow them (the strawberry cage here makes little economic sense). My neighbour cut back the wild blackberries that the editor and I pick from. A year or two back he sprayed them and only told us about it later – after we’d been picking and eating from them. A thoughtless and careless act if ever there was one, and it does not win friends. I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing that he was making a statement. You don’t need to wonder why we grow our own patch blackberries…

    The mens hats are very functional, but down here, the women’s bonnets would hold and extraordinary amount of heat against the brain during a very hot day. Guess that is why you don’t see Amish, Quaker and Mennonite folks down here sporting such hats because their brains may get cooked on hot days. Still orthodoxy can be strong in some folks, and others would see it as a sign of penance.

    Hoarders are fascinating, and yes the impulse would be hard to control if that was part of who you are. Stay strong!

    Best of luck to HRH and for the inspection!



  36. @ Pam
    There are hardly any homes on this and the surrounding protected land and there is supposed to be a complete embargo on them. I agree that developers remain interested and I have had a number of approaches over the years. At the moment I am between the devil and the deep blue sea as I am subject to contradictory instructions both of which I disagree with, though I continue to keep quiet.


  37. Yo, Chris – Years ago, I worked for an African-American woman, who was from Louisiana. Every once in awhile, for staff functions, she would make gumbo. Gumbo is a very versatile dish, and her version was sea food. The spicy sausage and things like crab and mussels. Must have been tasty, as I remember it fondly, after all these years!

    LOL. Re: Snow. Your worrying at this equal to (if not more than) the great Is It Man Flu, Or Not, debate. :-).

    Well, we hit 88F (31.11C) yesterday. Another day of that, and then a cooling trend. Maybe.

    Well, you know, fusion. As Mr. Greer has said, “Only 10 years in the future. For the last 30 years. I was surprised that Prof. Mass responded to so many of the comments. He usually doesn’t, even when asked a direct question. Only so many hours in the day, I guess.

    Oh, yes. The oil crisis of the 70s. Smaller fuel efficient cars became all the rage. And, the American auto industry, in it’s arrogance, did not respond. They just kept cranking out the big beasts, and the Japanese car makers got a good foothold. I was living in California, and they went to “odd even” gas distribution. Depending on if your car license ended in an odd or even number. Also, nation wide, speed limits were lowered to 55mph, as it was found that that speed was optimal for thrifty fuel usage. That drove some people wild. I was living in southern California then. I’ll tell you, I quit liked the lower speeds. At lower speeds, the freeway systems actually WORKED. And weren’t near as fraught and experience. But, of course, when gas supply was loosened up, and prices fell, we were back to the same old, same old. Sad, that.

    I wonder if some people are off the fresh greens, given the number of recalls and bacterial outbreaks?

    Well, the Amish folk (et all) use the black hats for going to town and church. They have a nice straw model, that’s the same shape. Cooler. More like a “boater.” The ladies wear black bonnets, for formal occasions, white to reflect the heat, to wear around the home place. Those can also be dunked in water, for an air conditioned, effect. :-).

    HRH didn’t make her appointment, yesterday. Eleanor completely forgot about the appointment, and, was very much under the weather. It’s the heat and the stress, around here. She did not look well, when we did our usual “sit out”, last night. But I hear her, stirring around, this morning.

    Waiting for me at the library: Season 12 of the “Murdoch Mysteries.” and Season 5 of the “Brokenwood Mysteries.” So, it’s back to early 20th century Toronto, and 21st century New Zealand.

    I’m to the point where I care less, about the inspection. I’ve decided to do my usual Wednesday morning rounds. These people have messed with my life, enough. Lew

  38. Chris,

    I like the idea of “yellow snow” as an expletive. The 4 techs in my section had our monthly (?) meeting with our boss today. 2 men, 2 women techs. One of the women uses the f-bomb as a comma. To make a point to the boss, I resorted to “bleeping”. Saying something like “That’s a yellow snowing rotten idea!” is attractive.

    Yes, taking pictures in the snow can be a challenge, especially if the clouds are still present. Spokane is very pretty in the spring, but then everything can dry out. A lot of people quit watering their yards, including trees, maybe 10 years ago when the then mayor started a “brown is the new green” campaign. Naturally, a lot of those trees died, thousands of them falling over during the Great Spokane Windstorm of November 2017. (Wind gusts hit 71 miles per hour with sustained speeds of45 mph.) It always seemed very “ungreen” to me to allow the big carbon processing plants, aka trees, to die.

    Anyhow, autumn can be very pleasant and the beauty trickles back when the deciduous leaves turn color. Winter is nice when there is fresh snow. However, in winter, Spokane can become very dreary when it is cloudy/rainy and there is no fresh snow to brighten things for several weeks at a time starting in late November. But with fresh snow and a clear spell, winter is spectacular.

    I knew there had to be a truer explanation for the tracks rather than someone becoming a human hood ornament. Noticing tracks in mud or snow is second nature to me: I used to do some tracking for fun in the winter 9and to make sure that Rakhi the Samoyed wouldn’t meet something tough on our runs, like a badger) and used to archery hunt in early December, taking advantage of the tracks to find game or track a hit and dying animal. (Deer and elk don’t normally drop right where they were shot, even with a typical rifle.) I just naturally look for tracks.

    The big fire was 65% contained as of Wednesday morning. Barring more lightning strikes or something, the firefighters have the upper hand.

    As is true of some of your other readers, I noticed (again) that Cliff Mass is a member of the Church of Progress. Your take on fusion sources in this solar system is correct “there can be only one”. I suppose if fusion began on this planet, the sun might send in a Christopher Lambert character to assert control and remind us who’s boss.


  39. @ Pam and @ Inge,

    Our county, as well as some of the other more populous counties in Washington, have Urban Growth Boundaries also. One of the reasons for that is that our road maintenance crews couldn’t keep up with the infrastructure we already had. Allowing unfettered development in rural areas, thus increasing traffic on already questionable roads, was a potential disaster. The rule of thumb (at least in the USA) is that one residence equates to 10 vehicle trips per day.

    Of course, this is somewhat unfair to the small farmers who intended to subdivide and sell their property as their retirement fund. What’s fair for some may be a burden to others.


  40. Hi Chris,

    Losing traction in a car is fun, unless you didn’t mean to 😉

    Those new Jimnys look alright don’t they? I hear they have a bit more room inside compared to the last model which would be nice, but still have the same wheelbase. I saw quite a few in Costa Rica, and still a decent number of older models as well. Those Tico’s are pragmatic when it comes to car selection 🙂

    Any donation, corporate or not, comes with an implied (and sometimes explicit) quid pro quo. If your interests and values happen to align perfectly with the donor then it is probably going to work out fine. Otherwise, perhaps the fight club approach is best? For whats it worth, it seems obvious Greta has “handlers” – her Instagram is very well done and “on message”. But why bag it out, when the message is one of urgency and self-sacrifice? I remain in the “Greer was trolling” camp. Or maybe it is a blind spot for him? I remember from my fish keeping days that the most aggressive acts were against the same species, or those that looked similar. Greta, at her core, is giving a very similar message to Greer. A lot more polished to be sure, but deep down the same. Everyone knows who Greta is, but only a fraction of a fraction have heard of Greer…../shrug

    RE: Change/election
    The average Australian voter is still pretty sheltered from the cold winds of globalism. The US middle classes got the full shock treatment over the past 30 years and now we have Trump. I now see that Aussie politicians are openly questioning China. Has someone finally decided which way Australia should go (China or US)? This should have happened 15 years ago, there will be some hard questions asked if China stops buying our dirt (AUD to below 50cents??). Maybe then, when we are rock bottom there will be enough public desire for change and reform. For now, as you noted, everyone is still grabbing what they can, while they can.

    That cold low hit the South island earlier this week, just as my brother went to Queenstown for a snow trip. So lucky him, good timing. Up here in Auckland, it is mostly overcast and raining. And it has been that way the whole week. My understanding is this is what winter is here. I don’t really mind, rain is nice and the cold is mild (overnights in the high single digits). Occasionally the sun comes out for an hour or two and you appreciate it 🙂

    Any more snow forecast for your neck of the woods? Maybe we can go from a “mild dusting” to “heavy snowfall”? For me, I consider that serious snow and don’t care what these overseas people say. Do they even have kangaroos? Can they really comment on snow? I mean, it was settling on the roof and not melting straight away! Far out.


  41. @Inge

    Greta is definitely too young for this sort of exposure. Hopefully she will fair better then the typical “child star”


  42. @DJSPo,

    Perhaps that could be a future calling for you? Bringing the quality pie to American plates. Empires could be built, fortunes made 🙂


  43. @SLClaire

    The steamboat trip sounds fantastic. I love boat cruises, and haven’t been on anything quite as nice, but thoroughly enjoy the short sojourns I have experienced. One memorable trip was on a small wooden boat in Indonesia. It was small, maybe 20 passengers? And only 2 rooms were private (we slept on the main deck), but we had a great time for the two days we were on it. Cruising in the tropics with volcanic islands in the distance and delicious food prepared 3 times a day – who could complain? Maybe what I like most is you don’t have to decide anything. It is a sort of stasis field – just go where they point you, be in the dining room at meal time. Otherwise, watch the water roll past 🙂


  44. Hi Margaret,

    You will be happy to know that Monteverde Cloud Forest still has many, many hummingbirds. At one place, a few feeders were setup, and dozens were zapping past our heads at a million miles an hour, making that surprisingly loud call. I will have some photos up in the next few days on what we saw, but I love being in a new part of the world and getting excited at what are, to the locals, no doubt very ordinary bird species.

    Mrs Damo and I only record a bird if we see it, or better yet, photograph it for later identification. We are not skilled enough to ID most birds from the call – although I understand most birders are happy to have just heard the call. How good was “The Big Year”? It is sometimes tempting to try and do something similar, there is an appeal to “collecting them all”, but I would rather just enjoy what I happen to see.

    We only saw the resplendent queztal because we stayed still for 10 minutes. Most people barrel along the trail and never stop. The forest must seem empty to them.


  45. Hello all:

    Update, I am on a diet. A Keto diet to be exact. Mrs Damo (the neuroscientist and all-round family medical expert) gave the approval, and I giving it a go for a month. Aim, lose ~5kg and counteract 20 years of occasional poor diet before I become a fatty. I am on day 4, with no sugar and almost zero carbs. Observations:

    – having eggs, cheese and meat as your diet staples is expensive
    – a lot of vege’s have carbs, I like the rule, if it grows above ground it is probably OK – so onions and potatoes are out, but cucumbers, cauliflower and spinach is fine
    – i had a headache and was drowsy on day 2, apparently this is sugar withdrawal ?? At the moment I am happy and full, but a nice piece of toast some melted butter sure would be nice
    – no beer, but gin is fine 🙂

    Apparently, some people go on a permanent keto diet!! Sounds very bad for your body, the amount of meat and eggs I am eating is a bit scary. For a month I am not worried, but permanently…geesh.


  46. Hi everyone,

    Thanks for all the lovely comments, however the dreadful specter of the mid-week hiatus continues to weigh down the share market.

    Candidly, we dug and moved clay for most of the day right up until sun down. Goals have been mooted and we are reaching a critical point with the higher terrace, and may even get some roses in the ground over the next day or so. Time is running short…

    Will speak tomorrow when there is plenty of time, until then…



  47. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, gumbo is superb, and a recipe deeply rooted in family tradition would be the whole next level. Lucky you and your memory is no doubt correct. The chef at the place we went to claims that her origins are in Maryland where family reside. It sure was good and I ate every drop of the, err, is it a soup? Or a broth? Not sure really. They also occasionally do a special of a New England Clam chowder which I’m rather partial to as well.

    Hehe! Some doubtful parties may suggest that it was a Man Flu, but no once they themselves were infected, the editor went down like a sack of spuds. Empathy and compassion were hard for the editor to express because the influenza virus has that effect on people! We now get the flu shot. Good luck to those don’t.

    How are the night time temperatures going? Last summer I experienced some of the warmest night time temperatures up here that I can recall.

    Who can argue with Mr Greer’s witty observations regarding fusion reactors? It seems like a pipe dream to me, but it probably keeps a lot of researchers in jobs when they might be causing mischief and congregating in packs on street corners and looking for trouble. The other day I heard a reference to the Hydrogen economy, and that is at least plausible, but there are huge technical issues with the element not to mention that the EROEI makes off grid solar power look good! I was surprised at Cliff Mass responding, as I’d imagine he’d be a fairly busy bloke. Some of the comments were very thoughtful too. I thought my joke about: This here solar system not being big enough for two fusion reactors was quite funny. Fans of astronomy may point to binary stars, although whether there is any life on the planets orbiting them might be a subject for conjecture.

    I like the lower speeds too, although on freeways down here it is 110km/h which is about 68ml/h. People tend to forget that we can do differently than we now do and be just fine. In fact it may be my imagination, but I feel that people socialised a lot more when I was a kid than they do now.

    Hey, I’ve gotta bounce. We finished excavating and compacting about 75% of the upper terrace today. It is just a big job and we worked right up to sun down. We were hoping to get that part of the job finished today, so had to have a pow-wow so as to work out how to get the roses in the ground and then perhaps work around them. We’ve got a plan but we need to see how the weather goes over the next few days. It sure was windy and cool here today though, but it was not raining or snowing. That’s tomorrow, the rain that is. The weather at this time of year is making it hard to get time to do the job. Oh well. Life wasn’t meant to be easy. 🙂



  48. @ DJSpo:

    That’s a very good point about the road maintenance. It appears to be a real struggle for the state of Virginia – who owns all roads that are not within city limits (as far as I understand) – to keep up with the now sometimes heavy traffic on these rural gravel roads. One can still build a house on these rural unpaved roads if one owns 20 acres (I think that there are exceptions for that, too) in the non-Designated Growth Areas and quite a lot of people have built their MacMansion “estates” that way. This increases traffic on the dirt road, not only because of the cars of that household traveling on it, but because such people are always having tradesmen in and deliveries from UPS and FedEx. I see this daily.

    It does give a farmer a way to divide his land and make some profit. Everyone wins a little, everyone loses a little.


  49. @ all,

    I forgot to mention the Frazier Museum in Louisville, KY that we visited while on our steamboat trip. Fellow US readers will know Kentucky for two things: bourbon and the Kentucky Derby. The Frazier Museum featured both in displays. And my, are they proud of them!

    In the large display on bourbon, we learned how KY has the perfect combination of factors to make the best bourbon in the world. The limestone base produces the most fertile soils, the plentiful rain and favorable climate waters the corn, and the groundwater which percolates through the limestone makes the corn the best grown anywhere. I’m not exaggerating the state boosterism in the slightest. Then we passed through the part of the display where we learned about a dizzyingly large number of people who started small distilleries under particular brand names, eventually being bought out by bigger fish, the buyout including the rights to the brand name. By now only a few companies make bourbon, under the many different brand names. Then one of the display cases of various bourbon bottles swung aside, and we entered a reproduction of a Prohibition-era Louisville speakeasy. This was my favorite part of the display, with period furnishings and info about the particulars of this speakeasy.

    Regarding the Kentucky Derby display, Kentucky grows the best grass for the horses to feed on (because of the rain and the limestone soil, of course), so of course it grows the best horses, proof of which is their dominance of the Derby. I began to think I wasn’t worthy to be walking on their precious grass and limestone soil. We also saw a display of silver and gold mint julep cups – different designs for each year the Derby is run. You and I can own one of our own, for a (large) price. Naturally one wouldn’t dream of watching the Derby without a mint julep in one of these cups in hand. Made with Kentucky bourbon, of course.


  50. @ DJSpo & Damo – Years ago, I worked in a little place down in Portland, that had Pretensions of Britain. If you squinted, real hard, you got a bit of a pub vibe. Small kitchen and menu.

    An elderly woman from Cornwall brought us weekly deliveries of pork pies and beef Cornish pasties. Oh, my. Were they good. We sold out, every week. Probably not traditional, but I’d like them with a dollop of sour cream and a good sized shot of horseradish mustard.

    My Dad’s family had a Volga-German thing called a “grautbitto.” I think the name was a regional / local thing. I’ve never been able to find a spelling, even close. Any-who, traditionally, it was meat (usually pork), cabbage and onions, wrapped in a bread dough and deep fried. My mom used to bake them. I usually bake them, less mess. I’ve also fooled around with the stuffing. I like to lay down a piece of sharp cheddar, fold up the dough, flip it over, and bake. The cheese melts down through the stuffing. Lew

  51. @ Damo – I saw a hummingbird, yesterday, having a go at the gladiolus. I never cared for “glads.” No blue ones :-(.

    Hmmm. The Keto diet sounds a bit … faddish? But, whatever floats your boat. My preferred fad diet, du jour, is Rip Esselstyn’s “Plant Strong Diet.” He never uses the dreaded “V” word. Doesn’t want to scare the punters. I lost a steady 2 pounds, a week. Unless I fudged a bit. Lew

  52. Yo, Chris – More soup, I think. The gumbo I had, contained rice. Also, okra. I vaguely remember that the lady I worked for was from Louisiana, but I think her roots extended to the Caribbean. So, it had a nice, spicy, Caribbean back beat. :-). I really think it’s one of those “poor people’s” recipes. Given circumstances, you can chuck in, just about anything. But as circumstances improve, they become codified, treasured family recipes.

    It was 86F (30C), yesterday. our night time lows seem to be running a steady mid-50s. And has for months. My memory may be faulty, but that seems low, for the time of year.

    I remember years ago, Mother Earth News had a big splashy cover article. Something about how mini hydrogen generators would soon be making an appearance in every urban/wilderness interface cabin. The blueprints were quit impressive. But the whole thing was very golly-gee-whiz, soon everyone will be able to get off the grid, and live in your own little wilderness paradise. Don’t see many (any) of those units, around.

    Well, the dreaded HUD inspection, is over. I did not win the lottery. They checked 15 of 40+ units. Maybe they’ll leave us the heck alone, for awhile, and we can get back to the business of living, with a bit of comfort and convenience.

    Jeramy’s is open! The veg store, replacement. Jeramy’s has been around, for years, but a bit off my beaten track. So, I never went. I even met Jeramy. A very nice bloke. Of course, the place was in chaos, with crates of stuff, everywhere. They’ve always had an emphasis on organic, which, of course is more expensive. But, they also have quit a bit of local, but not organic produce. I picked up another 10 pounds of blueberries, for $3 less than what I paid, earlier in the season. They are going to carry local eggs. And, I talked to him about bulk oatmeal. I told every employee I saw that I was so glad they were here! Lew

  53. Hi Lew,

    Yep, like all diets, it is very faddish. The Atkins diet from ages ago was basically a keto diet. I think the founder died from bowel cancer or something. Like all diets, I think they almost always work in the short term as you are suddenly aware of what you are eating. Long term, they rarely seem to work, and often have health consequences. I like this one as it has some cool chemistry going on, but yeah, there is no way I am doing it long term. That plant diet sounds effective, but I could not stop with the cheese and eggs 🙂

    What is awkward, is when people ask why I can’t eat the free muffins in the office or whatever. So I tell them, and get the inevitable reply, “oh you don’t need a diet”, usually from people, ah hem, larger than I. This gives me the choice of saying, that yes I do, and thus calling them out as a fatty. Or I can agree, and then look silly for wasting time worrying about food. Haha.


  54. Lew, those grautbitto sound delicious. Like a german version of a dumpling (which also normally has a cabbage and pork filling).


  55. @SLClaire

    Your description of Kentuckys grass and limestone soil is hilarious. You were very privileged to be allowed to visit such a place, let alone walk on the soil. Horses and bourbon, oh my!


  56. Hi Damo,

    I’m glad to hear about the hummingbirds. A few years ago I bought a set of CDs with bird calls of species found in our region and played them while driving. It was on that CD I learned the call of the Barred owl. There are enough local species to enjoy without traveling all over to see new ones.

    My husband,Doug, went on the Keto diet last fall on the suggestion of his doctor due to his very high triglycerides which were over 400. In six months and the loss of 25 pounds (11.3 kg) they dropped to around 100 close to the normal range. Now he’s just eating low carb which cuts out the sweets, pasta and junk food but includes more fruit and more of a variety of vegetables. My sister in law is on a permanent Keto diet as she had very high blood sugar and blood pressure. She was able to get off almost all medications. She uses a wide variety of recipes so has a pretty balanced diet. She made a yummy bread made from flax seed flour. Cauliflower is a popular law carb vegetable. I made a mock cauliflower potato salad that goes over quite well.


  57. @ Claire,

    Enjoyed the description of your river cruise. Doug and I are going on a road trip mid October without too much of a plan except it’ll be south. The only planned stop is in North Carolina my nephews wedding. The Frasier museum sounds interesting so maybe a stop there is in order.


  58. Hi Pam,

    Thanks. I’m told that it used to snow more here, but snow days are rare things, and a fall like that is unbelievable and also good fun. Glad to share the images with you. And Toothy also loved the snow.

    Oh yes, the grain dudes are far more amusing than the (do you recall) grumpy grain ladies? A curt reply from them was never far away. And who doesn’t take their own bags and containers these days – that is the real question here! 🙂

    That happened down here as the first I knew about the recyclable materials was when I was asked to dump the glass into the landfill area. I had to double check with the tip dudes just to make sure I heard them correctly. Things have not been the same since. Glass now gets dropped as fill behind steel rock gabion cages. It will make a fascinating case study for archaeologists in the far distant future.

    Burn the junk mail and deposit the ash into your compost pile.

    Not sure at all about driving techniques on ice because that is the first time that I’ve encountered it! On cars with ABS you can slam brakes (not sure about ice) because the old school brakes used to lock up, but ABS engages and disengages the brakes rapidly so that you avoid sliding because the wheel apparently does not lock up.

    Hehe! A pig welder, my mind is getting some sort of piggie snout sucking two chunks of steel together. Pigs are amazing creatures and their noses are like wet suction cups.

    Nope. The welder is powered from the solar power system. However it is worth mentioning that the brains of the solar power system can supply up to 9kVA for a short while. Welding using a generator is a tough gig because generators can’t provide for the peaks that are required just to start the process. When the welder here is going along merrily, it uses very little power, but the start up is something else. The lights are flickering because your sons welder is causing the voltage inside your house circuits to drop. The grid is not the stable beast that people believe it to be, and if you are near to the extreme end of a circuit, things can be a bit dicey. Voltage can vary (and upon occasion I have heard that frequency can vary too).



  59. Hi crowandsheep,

    Thanks for the memories and yes, the worm has now turned… Life can be brutal like that upon occasion. To be honest, I’d wiped the memory of the grumpy grain ladies from my short term memory, but alas nothing on the interweb is forgotten in these days of cheap hard drives.

    The grain dudes are the polar opposite to the grumpy grain ladies. Is this a good thing? Surely somewhere in between the two would be sufficient for an enjoyable day. I ask you this: Whatever have I done in a past life to deserve such treatment? The list may be long indeed… Hehe!

    On the other hand, you wishing that the grumpy grain ladies were deceased, may bring the curse of the grumpy merchant down upon your head. Beware my friend, of ill mannered merchants causing distress to you in an otherwise pleasant existence.

    Croissants, who needs them? I’m not really much a fan of those, and I recall the time that I inadvertently consumed a croissant shaped bread product and was appalled. Sometimes the memory remains…

    However, I agree and gourmet pies are worth traipsing the snow and cold of the winter. And if nobody understands their genius, then all the more for us!



  60. Hi Jason,

    I’m reading a fictional account of your part of the world, and it is riveting. There are times that I am meant to be working, but the story has me in its thrall I occasionally linger over a coffee an muffin at a cafe whilst reading about the Arthurian cycle. (Jack Whyte’s Camulod series of books). Not a wise financial move, but an enjoyable one all the same.

    The upshot is that you lived in an enchanted part of the planet.

    I recall when you enjoyed the snow and cold weather from the ‘Beast from the East’. Sounds like a particularly loud and brash punk rock band, or a band of raiding and pillaging Saxon’s. Anyway, your account of the supermarket shelves emptying during that time was quite the first hand illustrative experience.

    Hehe! We’re pretty well serviced for buses down in this corner of the world, and I’m glad that you made it over to Perth and enjoyed the sights and sounds. But yeah, I hear you about the truck stops. It is hard for people who have not experienced the vast expanses to understand that in some corners of this continent, you can drive all day long from sun up to sun down and all you’ll encounter is a roadhouse every 200km or so. And you don’t stop for the ambience at such places, you stop because you want to get out of the car. The landscape isn’t desert either it is mostly arid land and that is a different thing. But yeah, I too have enjoyed the Mrs Mac’s Famous Meat Pies. They’re alright, but not to tease you: the gourmet pies are the whole next level. 🙂

    I’ve never seen such a mushroom before. Out of curiosity, did you take note of the variety of tree upon which it was growing? I assume the nearby trees are also inoculated, but did you notice the difference between those trees? It probably isn’t a coincidence. Your soils may be more alive than those that surround your property.



  61. Hi Inge,

    Glad to read that you are enjoying some rain, and also note that it is a very good time for you and your land to receive the wet stuff that falls from the sky. Some of that stuff fell from the sky here today too. But at other times, the sun shone and it reached 59’F, so the seasons may have changed.

    The high tea place is that good. And if anything the images don’t do the place justice. The cake display window that faces into the Block Arcade (which is itself a beautiful Victorian era building) never fails to amaze my senses. For the record I have not supped there, if only because I’m uncomfortable with the crowds and prefer somewhere quieter. There is a place in the big smoke that bakes their cakes on site and the ambience is like a 1950’s diner, but not a recreation because that is how it was made and the business just stayed unchanged, and their cakes are really good.

    It probably is a misuse of the word. Has the cauliflower crisis extended into Europe or is it just a UK thing? I can’t recall speaking with you about those plants before, but they are complicated and labour intensive plants. The leaves have to be gathered over the floret as it grows so that the cauliflower produces the expected large head. A few years ago I saw my mates feeding huge cauliflower plants to their cows – who loved eating them.

    In a bizarre coincidence I travelled today through an area with serious commercial market gardens (Bacchus Marsh), and the scale of the enterprises was quite astounding for me to observe, although most people wouldn’t blink an eyelid.



  62. Hi Damo,

    Upon occasion I am at a loss as to whether to reply to a comment or not. As a bit of a history, the diet had a previous incarnation as the: Atkins diet. Which you already know.

    Now as a humble little human being, I duly submit to the expertness that is Mrs Damo, and I freely acknowledge that she has far greater insights into such matters than I. However, I will share some (dare I say it) food for thought on the subject: People who eat low carb diets are prone to mood swings, and usually not the good moods. Also people on low carb diets tend to smell, well, not so fresh to my nose.

    I’ll tell you a funny story. When I used to run very long distances for a sport, during a run I could tell the point where my body switched over from energy that I’d only recently consumed, to energy that I had stored. You could seriously feel the change, and the stored energy was of a lower quality, or maybe it had a lower EROEI? Dunno, but for a while you could feel the sugar crash, and then you got over it and learned to run on the new normal.

    A month is probably not too bad, but permanent keto might well change your gut flora and fauna, and getting it back might be a real drama. From all accounts it is not so easy to increase the diversity of all the little critters that help to keep you alive and kicking. Surely I mentioned the poo roadie story to you? Maybe not, but just in case you missed it, here goes: Boy & Bear spent 4 years on hiatus. Thanks to a ‘poo roadie’, they’re back. I’m not suggesting that a keto diet caused the lead singer to now require a ‘poo roadie’, but we mess with our systems at our very peril, and I have read that over half the population suffers from gut related issues.

    Have you considered acceptance? It is the state of mind that attempts to reconcile the realities with expectations? Dunno.



  63. Hi Claire,

    The Frazier History Museum looks like a lot of fun. Although to be honest I checked out many images of the fine establishment and was appalled to see a stand depicting authorities back in the Prohibition era dumping what looked like a huge demijohn (or carboy) of bourbon down the drain. What a waste of all that good hallowed soil and water, you would think that at the very least, the authorities would have had the brains to export the stuff at below cost so as to fund their ongoing pogrom on the stuff? Maybe that is just how my brain works? 🙂

    I’ve never really understood the difference between whiskey and bourbon, although I must confess to not drinking either. My grandfather used to be quite the fan of whiskey and I recall him and his old veteran WWII mates drinking a bizarre concoction of whiskey and milk over breakfast on Anzac day (a veterans day). Puts hairs on your chest or something like that. I’m sure I was only there to do the running around for them and fetching! Oh well.

    Oh, well there you go. Scotch is made mostly from malted barley, while bourbon is distilled from corn. That makes sense, and who can argue, the climate and soils must be good to produce enough corn so that you can distill the stuff into ethanol. I hope the good citizens of the hallowed turf don’t ever have to decide between the awful choices of ethanol for fuel or ethanol for bourbon. I know which one I’d choose. It’s a no brainer decision in my books: bourbon wins the choice every time. If only because people can live without fuel, but a good supply of local bourbon would make the deprivations more palatable.

    Ooo! The silver and gold mint julep cups are not at all to my taste, and they remind me of the aluminium anodised cups that were all the rage back in the 70’s. This is not to suggest that there is no market for such things.

    Maybe there is something to the story about the soils and climate? A very wealthy dude owns a large acreage horse training facility tucked into a fold of this mountain range, and he claims a record six Melbourne cup winners. Whilst not as prestigious as the famed Kentucky derby, the race also has reasonable international notoriety. I don’t gamble so the stories are all a bit lost on me.

    Friday is now quieter! 🙂

    How are the soils handling all of the rain that you are experiencing this summer? One year during such a wet summer, near to where the old chicken enclosure is, I could smell the distinctive smell of Clostridium bacteria emanating from the soil. I moved and rebuilt the chicken enclosure the following year because I call that smell a fail.

    Well done with working out the travel arrangements just to get the alternative departure point. And one way car rental is a bit of quick thinking. I haven’t flown anywhere for years now, and you never know what you might see from the car during such a trip.

    Glad to read that the steam engine matched my experience of steam engines, and diesel motors can be surprisingly quiet too. Hehe! A calliope!! Yup, they can kick out the racket can’t they, but they’re a lot of fun too and the notes and chords are quite ‘bright’ to my ears. Very entertaining. I thought that the music was programmed somehow into the machines?

    You see more at walking pace anyway, and the crowds are often far removed from such sedate and enjoyable activities. I note the subtext, and yes I too feel that moving bulk products using the river is an extraordinarily pleasant and economical way with which to move large quantities of product. And I’m most impressed to read that the waterfronts had been maintained (albeit in different guises).

    The steamboat sounds as if it is very well designed for its purpose and the little touches so that it can get under low bridges can only have occurred from years of experience and adaptation.

    You know, even the trees here are different along the water courses, too, or even between the lower elevations to these higher elevations. They certainly tell a story about what is going on below the soil level. And trees in the wettest lands are often the first to fall over. I’ve been wondering whether the root systems of such trees just don’t develop as well as other more stressed trees that have to forage further and develop larger root systems? Dunno.

    Yup. Food during travel can be a very mixed bag. Oh yeah. It is funny you mention that story, but when we were in India, the locals kept feeding us food that they thought Westerners would want and it was mostly rich and fatty and made me feel rather ill. All I wanted was just a simple dahl, but apparently not so. I settled in the end for fried rice and vegetables and just ate a lot of that. Such heavy food mucks around with my digestion.

    Thanks for sharing the story. I loved every minute of it and almost felt as if I too were travelling along.



  64. Hi Lewis,

    I was feeling pretty tired today and we spent most of the day doing various administrative tasks that need to be done in-order to keep the sailing ship smoothly gliding along the waves of the smooth something or other. I’m unsure what that all means, but it does mean that we had lots of stuff to do.

    Now the strangest bit of administrative activity was attending to a recall notice for the airbags in the new dirt mouse vehicle. Before you jump to conclusions, apparently the failure wasn’t the dreaded known and much publicised airbag failure, no this one was a software failure which had to be rectified. Apparently there was some sort of possibility that the airbag could go off under some unforseen and rather innocuous circumstance.

    But then here is the kicker, whilst the car was in having the airbag software attended too, the car dealer remarked in passing that they’d also upgraded the software in the car radio. Now admittedly, it is a complicated unit and being old school I only use it to listen to music, and I’m pretty certain it does other important stuff and can even talk back at the driver, but it never would have occurred to me that a car radio has software that needs to be upgraded. Sheez, I’m starting to feel old!

    And later at home and in between the short but sharp rain showers, the sun shone strongly so we ran the vacuum around and used the electric oven. I felt as if I were being a profligate user of electricity! Not to worry though, the rain moved back in about 2.30pm and it was dark and cold for the rest of the day. The chickens still went for a run in the orchard, but spirits were not soaring in the avian world.

    I’m starting to think that I should just get by with only a dozen chickens. That number produces less eggs, but at the same time they eat less feed than the seventeen chickens I used to keep. Oh? Did I mention that the card machines at the local feed store were out of action, and I joked with them that I was going ‘old school’ by paying cash. I was the only customer who could pay cash for the feed. People were actually leaving the feed store in a huff! I’d hate to see how they’d cope if something really serious happened, like the feed store having no feed regardless of the method of payment.

    Oh no! I’m continuing reading Eagles Brood and the disgruntled and overly ambitious Lot appears to be moving against our Camulodian heroes yet again. Zombies give up the trail before Lot would. Mate, in that story, Lot takes childhood disagreements to the whole next level. It’s personal. I’m really loving these series of books and many thanks to you for recommending them. The body count is stacking up too. I’m curious to learn how Uther wins Lot’s wife. I sense a story there…

    Your gumbo sounds a very close approximation to what I consumed. The rice in my case was served on the side, and you placed as much or as little into the soup as you chose. And your words: ‘nice, spicy, Caribbean back beat’ describes the soup perfectly. It was quite fiery on the way in, and also on the way out again. I reckon you’re spot on too in that it is a very adaptable dish and the chef can just chuck in whatever vegetables are readily to hand. I’ve never tasted okra, is it a root vegetable? One thing that comes to mind with such food is that it is often far tastier the second day after the spices and chili’s have managed to permeate the vegetables.

    Ah. Those mid fifties temperatures make for cool summer nights. Interestingly, your soil might be a bit colder than usual with such weather and (and you already probably know this) may be slowing the growth in your tomatoes, peppers and eggplants? If you have access to plenty of water, droughts are often easier and more productive years than cool summers. No sun equals no produce. I can’t even begin to imagine the horror that was the year without a summer of which we have read and discussed. I could see people stupidly suggesting nowadays (if such a year to recur) that: If we just a got a really really large torch, or maybe some space mirrors?

    The only time I have encountered that particular magazine, the advertisements for large tractors on the inside cover told me everything I needed to know in advance. I didn’t read the magazine, I just went off and did something else with my time. I’m sure back in the day it was a fine magazine.

    It is funny you mention that matter, but did I mention the article I read recently upon the very subject: Nuclear reactors called SMRs are being touted as possible energy source for Australia. I’ll bet you can imagine some cheeky acronyms for SMR? I’m thinking, Sneaky Mouse Rodents, but that maybe just me! 🙂

    What was that four or five inspections? Glad the winds sailed past your existence. It all seems rather officious and over the top to me. Maybe the powers that be were bored and had to find something to do to justify their time?

    I’ve never encountered the particular spelling before, ah but I see, is that the Paddock to Plate cafe and market located near to Chehalis railway? I like your style, because I reckon ‘local but not quite organic’ is the sweet spot with produce. If cauliflower has been flown from Africa, in my mind it doesn’t how organic the stuff is, it just makes no sense at all. And you get your local eggs again too. Nice one.

    Hopefully the rain holds back a bit because we intend to dig again tomorrow and hopefully get the top terrace finished. I had a hot bath late this afternoon and looked out the window and fell promptly asleep! Another day of digging, well you know, it’s all part of the job down here.



  65. @ Damo – Yup. That’s the trick. Keeping the weight off, once a goal has been reached. Also known by the highly technical and scientific term, “Yo-Yo Effect.” :-).

    When I was fiddling with Rip’s diet, I did cut out the cheese (mostly). But still kept eggs. He’s also down on olive oil, but I ignored that, too. I could have probably lost more, per week, but doing what I did, it was a steady 2 pounds per week.

    I’ve always kind of had a talent for saying “No thank you” to offered food. If pushed, I add, “I’ve just had a very heavy breakfast (lunch, dinner, whatever). If they still push, you just smack them up against the side of the head. Lew

  66. Yo, Chris – Odd you should mention air bags. I’ve been getting my weekly notice from the Ford motor company, for a couple of years now. I’ve got quit a stack. So, why haven’t I taken care of that? Inertia? The dealer is out of the way, and, though a free fix, I’m stuck in the show room, for probably a couple of hours. Subject to screens I’d rather not watch. And, I’d have to wash and vacuum out the truck. And, there’s also the nagging thought of “If you’d done it right in the first place, this trip wouldn’t be necessary.”

    Always exciting when the card readers, go down. Some places can’t even take cash, in those events. It is fun to watch the other clients, and try hard not to crack a smile. Could lead to unpleasant incidents. But it does make one wonder what would happen if something truly disrupting, happened. People take such little bumps in the road so personally.

    Oh, I think the childhood disagreement with Lot was just a set up, a foreshadowing, of his personality. I think he’s all about power and land grab. As far as his wife and Urther, would you want to be married to Lot? Unless you were Lady MacBeth. :-).

    Well, okra is only grown in our south. I’ve never seen one, but know it’s an above ground, plant. Seems like people either love it or hate it. Part of that might be, because the pods are kind of furry. I’ve never been a fan, but pickled okra is quit nice. Of course, you could pickle old boots, and they’d be quit nice.

    Yes, our cool summer probably effects the soil temperatures. My tomatoes seem ok. But the peppers and tomatillas, are languishing. Years ago, I read some Young Adult trilogy about the Yellowstone Caldera going up. And, the resulting 5- 10 years of overcast. I think the survivors lived on mushrooms and kale. But the details are hazy.

    Yup. Let’s orbit huge mirrors. Seemed like a good idea, at the time. What could possible go wrong. I think there’s been schemes about giant mirrors in space, beaming rays down to heat water and drive generator plants. Or, something.

    The SMR’s look like giant thermos bottles. They keep tinkering, tinkering, tinkering, with nuclear. And never seem to get around some of the basic problems. I see Russia seems to have had another nuclear accident.

    Final tally: 3 inspections in less than 5 months.

    Jeremy’s Farm to Table. OK. For years there’s been a nice brick building, down by the tracks. Farm stand and restaurant. The farm stand has moved to the old veg store site, and will shut down their old space. No news on the fate of the restaurant. Which was run by Jeremy, but he has no talent for that sort of thing. So, his Mum took it over, and made it a going concern.

    Almost organic. To be certified, officially organic, is a costly and onerous prospect. Especially for a small farm. So, if you inquire, you’re likely to hear, “Not certified, but….” You can usually, especially in a small place like this, trust what’s said. Lew

  67. @ Claire:

    I haven’t had much internet time lately, and when I did I forgot to let you know how very much I enjoyed your riverboat story. What a wonderful idea for a trip, and what a lot of rain before you left!


  68. Hello again
    I don’t know whether the shortage of cauliflower extends into Europe. I even wonder whether it is popular outside the UK; I have never seen it eaten anywhere else. The UK loves cauliflower cheese but I reckon that broccoli cheese tastes much better. I can’t remember when broccoli arrived here, it wasn’t around when I was a child.
    I can hear the start of Cowes Week fireworks.


  69. Hi Chris,

    Your words of warning are well taken, and coincidentally, today is when the famed keto crash has occurred. My body is definitely not happy with me, and the thought of eating more meat, or eggs, or the paltry selection of vegetables that are acceptable, is not very appealing. Mind you, I am also not hungry at all. I see a peppermint tea in my near future.

    Mrs Damo informs me it would be a poor sign of character if I gave up at the first hurdle, so I will carry on. But, there are no plans to continue past a month, I can’t see how it would be anything but a disaster to do that on a permanent basis to the body.


  70. For those interested, to follow on from Chris’s cashless feed supply story, Granola Shotgun had a recent story on the same topic:

    And, Chris, I see your nuclear reactor story, and raise you geoengineering!

    Unlike my weight, which can be changed if I can just find the self-control. The earths climate is set for a period of weirding that is locked in. Stories like the SMRs and geoengineering will become more common as people fail to accept what cannot (now) be changed.


  71. Hi Marg,

    Your sister-in-laws swap of medications for a keto diet sounds like a good deal to me. Glad to hear of Dougs success as well. Eating your way to health seems a smarter approach then trying to fix problems with medications after the fact. For myself, I am thinking what items I eat too much of that led to the gradually increasing weight in the first place. Part of the problem is being on the road so much, it is hard to eat well when you have to eat out for dinner 3-4 nights in a row. Last week I was at the annual sales conference for the wider company, and almost all of the sales staff were overweight. Not a place I want to end up!


  72. @ Pam,

    My job is in the office for a local government agency, engineering section. Our road maintenance people cannot keep up with the needs. Some areas got over 4″ of rain in an hour last week, and my sister had 9″ in 2 or 3 hours! Roads got washed out. People expect city services in the rural areas. Can’t happen.


  73. Chris,

    Someone told me about a wonderful holiday song…

    A coworker went on a keto diet for several months as part of her fitness regimen for major competitive body building. 6 months was going to be the extent of it, but I think that changed to 10 months. Methinks that is too long: the potential loss of gut flora, possibly irreversible, is frightening. We evolved needing carbs.

    I’ve heard about several stores trying to go cashless. None around here. I won’t shop at such a place.

    Our small local bank just changed names and remodeled. There are no live tellers on site now, as they are all in a remote location. Whereas there used to be 4 tellers, there are now 2 “ATMs”, which connect (after a minimum 2 minute wait) to the next available remote teller. The experience has been hideous and takes 3 times as long as with a live teller. They also charge us to deposit coins! The ATM does not have every denomination of currency available, so if I want some $10 bills, they have to find a live person to go find them and give them to me, while also refusing to count them when they hand them over. “We don’t count money anymore” is what I was told. They immediately lost over 2,000 of their 14,000 members, and more of us are planning to take our business elsewhere.

    They CLAIM that no jobs will be lost. I don’t believe them. They’ll get people used to this and then get rid of the human remote tellers, replacing them with hologram “people”. Some of the casinos have done that with some of the card dealers.


  74. @ Inge – Our monthly magic food box showed up, today. And therein lay … four tins of smoked kippers. Wild caught. Packed in brine. Now even though I “claim” to be an Anglophile, I have never eaten kippers. My union card will probably be seized.

    So, I was wondering, what exciting (or traditional) things can one do with a tin of kippers? Advice?

    Re: Cauliflower. I’ve never been a big fan. It looks so … bland. But I did make mustard pickle, a few times. From the Time/Life, Foods of the World series, “Cooking of the British Isles.” Quit tasty, and, for a change, I stuck to the recipe. Which included a lot of cauliflower. Lew

    PS: “England, Their England” is winging it’s way, to me.

  75. @Lew

    Hitting them up the side of the head sounds like a plan! If they complain, I will tell them it was Lew’s idea and point them in your direction.

    Halfway through Eagles Brood now. A large battle took place on the plains below Camulod, but it seems Lot was not present. The story is pretty good, but I wish it wasn’t told in the past tense (I think I complained about that already).


  76. Hi Inge,

    Hmm. I don’t really know enough about other cultures preferred foods of choice. That sounds a bit funny given how diverse the restaurant scene is in Melbourne, but I can never be sure whether the food served to me in a restaurant is representative of what people in that restaurants particular culture would consume. Dunno. I assume that the restaurants have to adapt their cuisines to the variety of foodstuffs that are available at any one time down here.

    But no, cauliflower is a fairly widely consumed vegetable down here, although it has gained popularity in recent times due to the promotion of certain diets. That may in part explain some of the recent dearth of cauliflower? Damo may be able to elucidate you on that matter.

    I too prefer broccoli.

    There was a brief moment when I felt like an archaeologist discovering a reference to Cowes Week in your part of the world. The articles from your part of the world mentioned that the RAF display was cancelled due to bad weather (hope your pond has filled), but the fireworks were to go ahead. Nowhere was it mentioned what ‘Cowes week’ was celebrating. A bit of a mystery! What is Cowes week celebrating?

    62’F today and the sun shone all day long and the air was still. It was the perfect late winters day. Unfortunately after a second day of digging, we didn’t complete the higher terrace. Although we got close, but alas no cigar.



  77. Hi Damo,

    Oh, thanks for understanding. I wasn’t being judgemental, I just unfortunately know quite a number of people on the diet and thought that the warnings regarding the potential downsides may be worth mentioning. But go hard, and not everyone encounters difficulties with the diet. But if you do feel like having a Spack Attack for no apparent reason, well just recall my earlier warning and let’s leave it at that. 🙂 Mrs Damo may benefit from the insight. On the other hand, if the diet works for you, as they say at B & S balls, go hard or go home. Hehe!

    Very wise. Your body maybe more acidic now than you are used to feeling, and the mint tea is an excellent choice for soothing a strung out gut. Of course consuming more leafy greens may assist.

    You know, some people can consume such a protein biased diet and be perfectly fine. You just never know how things will play out for you and the experiment is always worthwhile. Everyone is very different in that regard. I know a lovely vegan lady who consumes the plant heavy diet because she feels better consuming it. You can get an enormous amount of protein by consuming lentils, beans, etc. I’d personally miss my eggs, butter and milk but that is me, and coffee is OK as an espresso, but the latte offers a solid argument that is hard to argue against. We all have different propensities for life.



  78. Hi Damo (cont…)

    Thanks for mentioning the most excellent essay over at:

    Top work! Well, that situation was exactly what I faced in the local feed store the other day (fortunately I had cash on me and the chickens are now also fed and happy).

    And yup, geoengineering is a lot of talk. I have no fears on such matters because it makes no economic sense.

    The concept of self-control, assumes that control is even a possibility in the first place. Whilst on the road, have you thought about the possibility of cooking? We travelled around Australia for about six months (in a dodgy hatchback with a tent) back in the mid to late 90’s. It was very quiet in those days, but we always carried with us a crate of food stuffs and planned the meals in advance. Perhaps it is not so much self-control as a lack of planning that ails you?



  79. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the link to the charming Christmas Yellow Snow song, however Margaret got in first and mentioned it a few days ago.

    Didn’t humans evolve in trees eating nuts, grains and leaves? And possibly insects and birds if we could get them. Brings to mind a scene from Shrek: Princess Fiona’s bird song! As you say, there is a risk of upending the gut flora and fauna and you know, the diet may end up being what the person has to consume. From what I understand – and I could be wrong – is that it is very hard to reintroduce lost flora and fauna to the gut again. But on the other hand, the diet does produce weight loss results and some people are fine on it.

    I’ve noticed a really weird thing too, and it can’t be coincidence: A lot of people are casually mentioning to me that their pets are having gut issues. It sounds weird, but I’ve just heard a lot of people telling me that recently.

    Can’t say that I’ve encountered a cashless store either, but on the other hand I have observed that parking meters nowadays only accept payment through some sort of ‘app’ (whatever that is) or via a credit card.

    Far out! Your banking story sends shivers down my spine. It is alarming. The ATM’s here only provide either $20 or $50 notes and they do not accept coin deposits (and from memory I recall a time when they did not accept cash deposits). Do you have other banking facilities locally?

    The funny side of that story was that back in the day, (and if I recall correctly) the banks cried poor with the introduction of ATM’s. The story was that the technology was introduced at a loss and remained that way for many years.

    When I look at the top ten stocks down here, I note that four of those ten are banks. The other six comprise: 3 big miners; 1 manufacturer of bionic products (best known for bionic ears); the national telco; and a manufacturer of serums (vaccines). I’m genuinely unsure what the banks manufacture, but it must be something fascinating for the big four to be all in the top ten. As far as I understood the situation, all they are meant to be doing is shuffling paper. No doubts that they are very good at that.



  80. Chris:

    I certainly do remember the grumpy grain ladies!

    I considered burning the junk mail, and we do so in the fireplace in the winter, but have no outdoor set-up for burning in the summer. That’s an idea I’ll keep in mind, though.

    Of course! We had old school brakes. Drum?

    Thanks for the welding info.


  81. @ Margaret:

    I have had cauliflower potato salad, and liked it. But then there is cauliflower pizza crust – yum! If you ever make it, do little bitty pizzas as they can kind of fall apart. In fact, mine fall apart anyway since they have to be vegan and gluten-free for my son (otherwise I’d probably use wheat flour or egg). You wouldn’t be using wheat flour anyway? They freeze well, too, sans toppings.

    It looks like Inge can’t have cauliflower anything with the Cauliflower Crisis where she is.


  82. Hi Lewis,

    There are times that you mention passing references to things in your part of the world. A weekly missive from a Motor company is a concept that had not even occurred to me. I think my lot sent me a satisfaction survey and then this airbag software recall, and that has been about the extent of it. I can’t say for sure, but it is possible that the gas propellant that activates the air bag in your machine has long since leaked away into the atmosphere. Dunno, but if it is a free fix and you have nothing else to do with your time? And now that you mention it, we did have to wash and vacuum the car a few days before taking it in… Appearances have to be maintained! 🙂

    We’ve spoken about the quality issue before, and it really is hard to know what is going to be a quality product and what may not live up to such high standards. I have no idea and just try and look at several review sources to see whether anyone has complained about the sort of things that might annoy me. It mostly works.

    Goals were set. Expectations were high. And late this afternoon we encountered three large rocks and one tree stump in the excavations of the higher terrace. Alas this means that despite two days of digging and moving soil, the higher terrace is not yet complete. Woe is us! One of the rocks was enormous and we managed to remove it from the soil and roll it downhill where it now forms part of a sturdy rock wall. Another of the rocks we could break up. And the third rock was just hard granite. Another fifteen minutes of work on that rock and we would have sorted it, but alas the sun fell below the horizon and we called time out. To be beaten by a rock again… Tomorrow we have plans to plant out the roses on the part of the terrace that has been completed (about 95% of it). If I feel up for more digging, I might just finish the excavations but I don’t think that another day of digging is a good idea. Oh well.

    Actually I was surprised at the reactions of the other customers (who were considerably older than I). They acted a bit shirty and a few went off in a huff. I gave the shopkeepers a cheeky smile and offered exact notes and coins for the purchase and went on my way. Incidentally, I’ve noticed that many retailers now are trying to follow your purchasing history by offering to join their ‘club’. The particular store once surprised me by asking for my phone number. I just looked at them and said: What? Why do you need that? I try to fly under the radar and so don’t get involved in such things. Anyway I digress, and yeah I don’t feel that serious hurdles will be jumped with any great ease.

    Lady Macbeth promotes a great sense of unease in me as I am uncomfortable with most aspects of her personality. It was a rather extreme character that the Bard created and honestly the grasping nature would wear me down. Have you ever encountered people with such a personality? Lots of exposure to advertising can create that sort dissatisfaction which leads to unpleasantness. Lot as a character might do well to understand that some mushrooms are more toxic than others… Hehe! But yeah, I believe Caius described his father as a ‘boor’, and no doubt that the apple rarely falls far from the tree.

    Pickled boots! Nice one. Kiwi fruit are a bit furry too, and a New Zealander friend said and proved that the furry skin was edible. Some plants are a bit like that. A rarely peel any vegetables, although I’ve heard of people peeling and discarding all manner of vegetable produce that I would otherwise consume. The waste in this society of ours is quite alarming.

    I don’t know anything about tomatillas, but oh yeah, peppers need a good hot summer. Mate, I can only grow the thinner varieties of eggplants and peppers. The larger varieties which can be seen in shops, don’t stand a chance here. Even with the melons, I stick to the smaller varieties. A seed catalogue turned up in the mail the other day, and the temptations contained therein are good. Hehe! Mushrooms and kale, well you learn something new every day! Isn’t that volcano a super volcano and it could well have such an effect? Although probably worse in the northern hemisphere.

    What is it with space? I like having space around me, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I’d enjoy being up in space. Hey do you reckon that the International space station will be boosted slightly higher in orbit, or do you reckon it will light up the sky (a tidy bit of short term geoengineering) as it falls back to Earth (with a thud)? I recall Skylab crashing over Western Australia.

    3 inspections in less than 5 months? Far out, that is overkill. However we could spin a yarn here about the powers that be suspecting that one of the ladies is a former internationally renowned chemist and is now supplementing the meagre pension by running a meth lab from her apartment. Stranger things have happened. I’m on a roll here. Hey, what about the powers that be are looking for one of the pressure washing and painting dudes that disappeared from work all those weeks ago and hasn’t been seen since… The prime suspect is a lady in the residence who has an Austrian background – but nothing has yet been found or can be proved. She is an expert at tying knots in rope. Hehe! We could go on and on…

    Restaurants are a tough gig. And I note that people don’t generally go to a restaurant to also purchase local farm produce so that they can take them home and cook them. It might work as an idea, but I remain unconvinced. On the other hand separating the two different businesses is probably a really good idea. I hope they do well.

    Exactly! The margins are thin enough for farm produce, but to have to pay for certification and then have people nosing about your business would be a tough ask. Not impossible, but it adds a layer of complexity. I’ve been told that story too about “not certified, but…” That’s good enough for me, but I tend to favour a more local distribution anyway. Sending foodstuff to cities so that the residents there can send the minerals into the ocean via the sewers is only ever a short term proposition. But we seem to be giving it a go and testing the upper limits of that particular strategy. On the other hand I enjoy cheap compost as a result, so I shouldn’t complain. It’s not organic the compost, but still… 🙂



  83. Hi Pam,

    Oh my! Those grumpy grain ladies sure did keep me on my toes. I get the bread wheat supplies by mail order nowadays, and it is a real pleasure. 🙂

    You may note that we have a steel brazier in the middle of the courtyard. It is made from corten steel which is a weathering steel. The manufacturer also makes gas truck cylinders and the nice round shape of the brazier is produced using the same machines (which I assume presses and heats flat plate steel). It is very good and you may also note that the brazier sits in the courtyard and is surrounded by non flammable crushed rock with lime. Your local laws may stipulate what can and can’t be used.

    Double oh my! Drum brakes all round, ah those were the days. And yeah they do lock up, but also from time to time they can fade if they get too hot. Makes for an exciting experience.

    I’ll have to look into this Cauliflower crisis.



  84. @ DJSpo – That banking story sounds like a nightmare. Is it perhaps a financial institution who’s abbreviation begins with B E? If so, I read a bit of the swill they cranked out. The phrase that caught my attention was “empowers members.” Always a red flag. Translation: Bend over and spread them. Lew

  85. Yo, Chris – Cauliflower most usually turns up as part of the dreaded “Veg Tray With Dip”, at this function or that. I usually stick with the brocolli or carrot sticks.

    The noise from Cowes must be the cellibration (celibration, celabration, oh, I give up. You get the gist.) of National Thrift Store Day, which is the 17th. Must be going international. But they call it International Op-shop Day.

    What!? Didn’t finish the terrace? Didn’t you deploy the spotlights, or, at least don the miner’s helmets, so you could toil on into the darkness? :-). More rocks? Must be a sign or a message. Of what, I know not.

    Yup. Always trying to urge you to join some buyer’s club, or another. And they often offer something, maybe, worth your while, to entice you. Or, add cost to punish you for not joining. There’s always the added revenue stream of selling your information, on. The only “club” I’ve joined is Safeway. And, I thought long and hard about it. But, flashing the card does get me reduced prices on previously purchased items. My last trip to the store got me a 25% reduction, in what I would have spent. But, in general, I’m pretty cagey bout my phone number and e-mail address.

    When I order something on-line, I can usually opt out of “signing up.” Or, registering. It’s usually obscured in the fine print, somewhere. Same thing with company’s “newsletters.” Delivered daily … hourly. Clogging up my in box. But sometimes you have to sign up, and then, opt out. Which can be easy or difficult. I love the one’s that run you through numerous screens, asking you if you absolutely, positively, really don’t want to save money, and what’s wrong with you? They’re a giggle.

    Grasping nature? See it every day.

    I noticed this morning, that though small, my tomatillas are beginning to flower. My green beans are plumping out, and I should begin to harvest those, soon. I am in agony. There is only one little pumpkin, smaller than my fist. Pull it out? It’s in the way of harvesting some potatoes. And, there’s only two months (at best) for it to do something.

    The Female Anti-christ sent out a pretty cheesy memo, yesterday. Thanking us, the building manager, the maintenance guy for all our support. She threw in that line, that she’s used once before … “if only I could share with you…” (what horrible, underhanded things the last administration did.) Don’t know what that’s all about, but I speculate it’s to indoctrinate the new folks into the idea that the bland, suppressive present is soooo much better than the evil old past. We spend a lot of time, trying to figure out motives. Lew

  86. @ Margaret,

    If you decide to go to Louisville, the Frazier Museum is well worth your time. I don’t know if the two exhibits will still be there when you are planning to go; I don’t remember noticing if they were permanent or temporary. But there are three floors worth of exhibit space and you are bound to find something you enjoy, as we did. I didn’t mention the huge exhibit of miniatures, either. If you or Doug like that sort of thing, you will find lots to like. The museum’s namesake was a prominent local citizen with a habit of collecting many different sorts of things. Some of those are on display as well, although the current emphasis seems to be area history.

    Louisville had other places to see in that part of town as well, but we spent so much time at the museum that we didn’t get to them. I wouldn’t mind taking time on a future trip east to poke around the riverfront area more.


  87. @ DJ,

    Two of the three credit unions in which either Mike or both of us have accounts are moving to the machines connected with tellers in either all of their branches or in the new ones they add. My experience is similar to yours with having to wait for the tellers to connect with the machine in order to proceed (and no chair to sit in while I wait – what were they thinking? Oh, yes, that would be extra money, can’t have that). Unfortunately, sometimes I need to go inside to use the machine-connected teller when the ATM won’t read a check I’m trying to deposit. * heavy sigh * I expect this level of customer disservice from a bank, but not from a credit union since it is owned by its customers. As a local radio personality liked to say, ain’t nothing right.


  88. @ Lew
    I have never heard of tinned kippers; what size are the tins? One just eats kippers as they come, doing nothing to them. I never eat them though they taste wonderful, because they are the boniest fish imaginable. Shall be curious about the bones in the tinned ones.
    Am now three quarters of the way through ‘England, their England’. I gather that it is particularly famous for its description of a cricket match. I skipped my way through that bit as my understanding of the game is almost nil even though I was forced to play it at school, so I got bored with the account. Apart from that, the book is going well.


  89. Hello again
    Cowes week is sailing, sailing, sailing and boats come from everywhere. The royal family come and of course ‘celebrities’.
    I actually thought that the fireworks were cut short in the terrible weather because I didn’t hear them for long.
    My pond is full.
    Have asked my sister about when broccoli arrived in England and she said it arrived with Italian restaurants after WW2. But I think that it was quite a bit later before it arrived in greengrocer’s shops as I first encountered it in London as an adult.
    I have discovered that if you eat a ‘black’ tomato and then spit out the skin, the skin has become the colour of a usual red tomato. This vaguely worries me and I am telling everyone; nobody else has noticed it as I appear to be the only person who spits out the skin sometimes. Everyone I know is now going to check on this. I hope that someone can explain the chemistry or whatever.



  90. Hi Chris and all,

    We buried my sister, Mary’s ashes along with Michael’s and Patrick’s yesterday at the horse farm they all grew up on. The new owner was a boarder so she knew all of us somewhat. It was so nice we were able to do this. As one of my nieces said, “They’re back at home now.” The farm hasn’t changed much – they still board horses. We do have a new member of the family, my great niece, Ellie, born a little over a month ago. Anyway afterwards we all went to the pub down the road which was fun.

    In other news, my youngest daughter and her boyfriend closed on their house in Chicago so I’ll be going there next week for a couple days to help them unpack.

    Garden is doing well. We’re getting just enough rain that I don’t have to water much.


  91. Chris,

    Headslap! “Yellow snow!” Shostakovich! That’s all the cuss words I know, but DJ will read better next time and maybehaps avoid duplicating suggestions. Maybe. 😉

    Thanks for Fiona. But, well, isn’t that the usual
    way people get eggs for breakfast?!? I’ve had a few gut flora issues the past 15 years. I can attest that getting it built back up is very difficult, as it takes a LOT of time and conscious effort to eat a whole lot of foods the gut flora like while avoiding the stuff that kills off the flora.

    Pet gut issues don’t surprise me. If overly refined and packaged food is not good for humans and their gut flora, what makes us think that overly refined and packaged food will be good for our dogs? Oh, right, most humans don’t have a clue about gut flora, and are mostly concerned with fast and convenient meals for themselves and their pets.

    There are plenty of banking options nearby. There are 4 within a mile of our home, 3 of which have also been recommended by friends. We’ll be visiting all 3 of those and maybe one other on Monday and get the process started.

    Modern banking seems to be all about manufacturing money out of thin air as part of MMT, then augmenting that “wealth” creation by being the middle man in umpteen quadrillion things and raking in massive amounts of money due to the onerous middle man fees they charge.

    6 of the 10 largest (by market cap) US companies are tech. 2 are banks, and then energy and medical.
    So the tech companies are making lotsa money that is created out of the ether by the bank stocks.

    Mine is another family that eats and enjoys cauliflower.


  92. RE: Cauliflower
    Well, I went and bought two today, no problem. They were $2.50 each. I have no idea if that is a normal price or not. Broccoli was $1.50, and whole red cabbage $4 for comparison ($1 NZ dollar is 65 cents US). Pam, I am now trying the cauliflower pizza crust, although I am very suspicious of foods trying to be other foods (the keto waffle using cream cheese and coconut flour was not great).

    Chris, I have not heard the term, go hard or go home in relation to B&S balls, although it makes total sense!

    Mrs Damo would make a snide (but perhaps accurate) comment to the effect of not telling the difference between my mood swings and “normal”.

    Do I detect the faint hint of a rebuke in your lack of planning comment? 🙂 You are of course correct, my excuse was not a reason (or is the other way around?), and it is perfectly possible to pre-pack meals, and cook for yourself when on the road. In fact, this is what we will be doing for most work trips from now on. The inertia to overcome is significant though, who can turn down a possibly tasty meal on someone elses expense account? A wise man might say the food was free, but you still pay the cost!


  93. Hi Lewis,

    Fingers have been pointed because the curse of Cherokee struck again this afternoon! A trailer load of 1.3 cubic yards of compost was brought back and we began planting out the roses on the new garden terrace. A brief shower of rain loomed over the valley and was sweeping up towards us. Only about a third of the compost had been moved by that stage, so we stopped for lunch.

    And it kept raining, and then it rained some more. About 4/5ths of an inch has fallen so far, and I’m reluctant to head out until the rain storm has passed. Yeah, I probably should have only brought back half the amount of compost, but these things happen.

    Have you ever tasted pickled cauliflower? It is very good and used to be widely consumed when I was a kid. From memory it may have been called Gardenia? Or something like that, but it was very tasty, although the cauliflower tasted like white vinegar to me. Broccoli is the better tasting vegetable by far.

    International op shop day sounds better than the International talk like a pirate day. 🙂

    It would have been nice to have completed the terrace yesterday, but you know the harsh cruel world of limits intervened and scuttled the plans. It is an epic project. The editor and I were discussing the project the other day and, well, observations were made that either of the two terraces are bigger than most peoples back yards. Suburban lots are now much smaller than they used to be, and I have noticed that houses tend to have eaten the land. Hope nobody ever needs that land for growing edibles?

    Yeah, I see those clubs too as a cost to be borne, and as such they have to provide benefits like your substantial discount otherwise why bother. We give our digital data away very cheaply these days. And the on selling of your data is a lucrative feed trough. I also have strong feelings about the security of the data with such systems. I mean they collect a lot of information and it wouldn’t take too much effort to paint enough of a picture for them to become you and do something nefarious like raids on bank accounts. It is nice that the kind people who fall for the Nigerian Oil letter scams provide easier targets.

    Unfortunately I see that too, but I also see people who are more careful with resources and other people. On the other hand some folks are bad apples.

    Dunno about the pumpkin, but they do need a lot of time in order to ripen. Is it a variety you’ve grown before? Fresh green beans are great tasting! Do you chuck them into meals as you harvest them, or have you ever tried freezing them?

    Well down here I’ve heard those stories too about the former ‘whatever’. A useful kids phrase to describe the situation would be a taunt such as: “You can blame it, but ya can’t name it!” Inferences are ugly things because the veracity of the claim can’t be put to the test. I’ve had mud flung at me from time to time and it is never pleasant because true or not, some sticks and perceptions are impossible to control. Oh well.

    Hopefully the rain will slow soon, as the daylight is diminishing…



  94. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the elucidating the mystery! Oh, I guess it probably would most likely, or rather ordinarily be, OK sailing weather in your part of the world at this time of year? The seas can be unpredictable. Speaking of which (unpredictable weather), we began planting out the roses this afternoon and the heavens opened. 17mm / 0.7 inch of rain fell and far out did it get wet on the new clay terraces. And because some of the roses were planted whilst others were not, we had to head back out into the wet sticky clay and put the temporary fencing into place… I hate mud. Snow is meant to fall to 400m 1,320ft tomorrow morning. What a winter season I’m having, it has been a bit of a struggle.

    I can see that about the origins of broccoli. The Italian immigrants to Australia after WWII likewise introduced many culinary delights here too and a lot of them were avid gardeners and the climate had a lot of similarities. I feel that the subsequent generations have dropped the ball so to speak, however I applaud the original immigrants skills. I have heard from friends that there is a little bit of a cringe factor with handing over those skills. It was expressed as: “it is cheaper to buy the stuff at the store”. Have you ever heard the like?

    Thanks for mentioning the black Russian tomato test, but I won’t see any tomatoes for about six months so I can’t recall such a change. Interestingly, I consume the skins from my tomatoes, but I grow tomatoes for flavour rather than size or transport so they may be very different fruits than what you know as black tomatoes. The plant readily hybridises…



  95. Hi Margaret,

    It is nice that you were all able to bury Mary’s ashes along with Michael’s and Patrick’s on the property that they all once knew well. Your niece summed it up beautifully, because it is like a home coming. Given the circumstances, I’m unsure that a soul could ask for more.

    Oh my! A great niece. Well the wheel of time turns doesn’t it? And those young whipper snappers only serve to remind us of the turning. Congrats too on the great niece.

    There is something to be said about conducting a proper wake. And a pub is great place with which to conduct such an important ceremony. After funerals, people tend to move on to other matters and get lost in the noise of life, but you always carry the past with you. I’m rather fond of the local pub here, and would be quite chuffed if placed in the same situation.

    Well done them. No doubt that it will be an epic clean? When we built this house we rented in a project house in a nearby estate. And it was only then that I realised that the materials used in modern housing tended to make them very hard to clean. I tend to be old school in that regard. However, it took us three or four days of cleaning of that place when we left it. We got the bond back though in full, but what a pain.

    “getting just enough rain that I don’t have to water much” sounds like the perfect growing season to me. Like a bull market, such a season makes us all look good! 🙂 I’ve experienced one or two of those and they’re really good…

    Planted most of the roses today in the new terrace and then the heavens opened. What have I done to annoy the weather Gods so much? And after the rain was done, we had to go out in the slippery clay and finish the job off and also put in place temporary fencing – you’ll see when I click on Publish tomorrow at 8am… How much rain can a Koala bear? Seems like an important question right now…

    Really glad to hear that you’re doing OK.



  96. Hi DJ and Damo,

    Ahoy there, me mateys! Apologies, but it is now 8pm and I have not yet enjoyed my mentally lubricating small cup of home produced sake, and time is running short with which to reply to you two because I have to write. We shall speak tomorrow. Until then…



  97. @ Damo:

    I have mostly ended up treating the cauliflower pizza crust as a really tasty, crispy form of – cauliflower! I put all the usual pizza toppings on it and really enjoy it. As I mentioned, the version I have to make is vegan and gluten-free, so there are probably recipes that stick together better.


  98. @ Margaret:

    I can think of no better resting place, and may you end up in the same spot, if you so desire, and if the circumstances should allow it.

    How perfectly lovely that you now have a great niece. Such events always make the future seem brighter to me.

    Enjoy your “busman’s holiday”.


  99. Yo, Chris – So. You say it rained? :-). Plans, gods, etc. etc..

    Every once in awhile, I run across a bottle of mixed pickled veg. Usually, cauliflower, and other veg. Usually, a few peppers thrown in, so it’s spicy. Real sinus clearing stuff! I don’t really buy it much, but it’s one of those things that if it’s on offer, I don’t hesitate to partake. Sometimes, there’s a jar in our Magic Food Box.

    Well, one of these days, land (for growing food) will be a lot more valuable than sprawling houses. But, given modern materials, those sprawling houses won’t last long.

    In “Eagle’s Brood” they speculate on how much things outside of Camulod may have changed. “Well, it’s only been 20 years.” Which by some calculations is considered one generation. There are comments, here and there, on the condition of the Roman roads. Some people don’t realize how quickly things can go to heck, without constant maintenance. I see it in my apartment, every day! :-).

    I seem to remember, last year, the two pumpkins I got took a week or so to finish ripening on my windowsill. Worth the effort. They made great pumpkin muffins. I did a little of both, with the green beans, last year. Ate quit a few fresh, and still ended up with a gallon in my freezer. Note to self: Finish up that last little dab, languishing in the freezer. Found a small pack of strawberries labeled “2018”. They went into yesterdays oatmeal.

    I picked another gallon of blueberries, yesterday. But a lot of those will go to rounding out gallons that are a bit “light.” And, start another gallon.

    Inferences often drive me wild, too. “Someone said…” “Who? I try and hold a line at dismissing any anonymous accusations or complaints. The Emperor Titus was very wise when he advised Pliny the Elder (who was off being a provincial governor, somewhere) to ignore anonymous accusations of Christianity, leveled a people.

    I’m reading “My Wars Are Laid Away in Books: The Life of Emily Dickinson” (Habegger, 2001). Other than a few high points, I can’t say I’m particularly fond of her poetry. But I admire her life style. Our first well known urban hermit :-). Lew

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