Early mornings are rarely clear for me. My head reclines upon the pillow, whilst my eyes adjust to the light of day streaming in from another part of the house. Surely it had been dark only moments before? Maybe? I just need a few more minutes sleep, but the phones alarm chimes incessantly with the sound of ‘Green_spectrum.mp3’. And it dare not be ignored lest it escalate the volume. Some people may find the tune to be soothing, however I considered it the least offensive alarm noise, or thing, on the phone. My arm reaches over and puts a stop to the noise.

Other members of the household feel differently about early mornings, and Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (err, sorry I meant to type Australian cattle dog) is ever vigilant for the alarm noise of the phone. Off his green couch he excitedly bounces, and then he slows his movement as he lopes into the bedroom on his quiet and stealthy pads. By now, he knows how I feel about early mornings as he blithely ignores the editor and approaches my side of the bed.

The forces of the canine fluffy collective rapidly move against me in the early morning hours. Annoyed by the alarm noise, with my arm already beyond the safety of the blankets, and knowing full well that Ollie is rapidly approaching the bed, the best response I can manage at such an early hour is to open my hand awaiting the inevitable contact of a wet dog nose.

Ollie, senses my dismay at the rapidly unfolding events. And just to delay the contact with my hand but a moment longer, he performs what yoga folks would know as a ‘downward facing doggy’ stretch. I breathe a sigh of relief that Ollie’s wet nose has temporarily moved away from my out stretched hand, but no! Fortified by his mad yoga moves, Ollie launches forward and his wet nose contacts the palm of my outstretched hand.

Things rapidly escalate from there as Ollie has a keen intellect and intuitively knows that my state of mind is bleary at such an early hour. His wet nose disengages from the palm of my hand, and his head gets ever closer to my face. I retreat further away into the centre of the bed. Alas, soon I can feel the heat of his breath and I try my best to move even further away, but the dog is big and with size comes reach. Before I know it, Ollie’s tongue has tasted my barely awake face. Every single morning.

By mid-morning, Ollie would have little chance of getting away with such a trick, and sometimes that is because the morning may occasionally find me in the big smoke at a cafe. It is a necessary stop before engaging in the working day.

The cafe is a comfy and busy place, and unlike most cafes, they roast their coffee beans out back. Plus they make the tastiest muffins. The muffins are prepared and cooked on site, and you never know what flavours you may be greeted with. Sometimes, there are no muffins at all because they’ve sold out. A truly tragic event, but a person must learn to live with the ups and downs of life.

I take a seat at the window and await to be served. Sometimes my nose is buried in an engrossing book, and I have to recall to go and do some paid work. On the other side of the large pane glass window there is a tram stop (electric street car service) and there are always people waiting patiently for the next tram to arrive. Across the road there is a chemist (pharmacy). Surreptitiously and for many years I’ve watched the unusual characters that frequent the business and think to myself that surely the business must be catering for some sort of methadone program?

The coffee and (hopefully) muffin arrives and I ignore the antics on the other side of the window, and dive with gusto into the book that I’ve brought along for the experience. The book seems to appreciate the adventure. Once the final crumbs of the muffin have been consumed, I look forlornly at the now empty porcelain cup which by now contains only a memory of the coffee. It’s time to leave and go and do some paid work. However, before I leave I make an enigmatic comment to the cafe boss: “Ok if I bring the tubs back?”

I leave the cafe and sadly dump the book in the dirt mouse Suzuki. One thing I have learned in life is that life is short and there are a lot of books to enjoy. The hatchback is then opened and I reach in and grab the ‘tubs’. Inside the boot of the car, two mysterious black plastic cylinders with red lids await me, and I remove them from the car and take them back into the cafe.

Without much fanfare, I make my way into the rear of the cafe. Some may call it the ‘business end of things’, and they’d probably be right. The red lids are removed from the tubs, and I fill both of them to the brim with used coffee grounds. There is often more used coffee grounds than will fit in the tubs, and we have ways of dealing with that situation!

Over the years, mechanics working on the dirt mouse Suzuki have been surprised to find that the back of the car is full of used coffee grounds. I guess it is not what they’d expect to find in such a vehicle, but nonetheless, it is what’s there. And after all of these years, I’m yet to find any used and undisturbed coffee grounds remaining in the orchard.

The local pub was closed for years. During that time I once encountered the bloke who was care-taking the building, and I don’t know why, but I just had the strangest feeling that he’d been exploring every nook and cranny in the place in a quest for beverages of the sort that they sold when the pub actually functioned. Then one day, someone actually re-opened the local pub for business.

Shortly after the business opened, the editor and I went to check out the pub at night, and from a distance, the lights were gently glowing in the cold night (the nights are often cold here), and the sounds of laughter were warm and welcoming. It was at that moment as we stood in the dark that we felt as if we were in some sort of bizarre Dickensian tale, and we were lamenting at the gates to the establishment: “Please Sir, we’d like to have fun too”. And so we do.

Ollie and Toothy wonder why the editor and I have to work so hard

Construction of the path above the house which connects the new terrace project and the driveway continued this week. It has progressed a huge distance this week and is now over 60m / 200ft long end to end. It is sort of necessary to have the path in place so that we can easily and quickly move bulk organic materials onto the new terrace project (all downhill too).

The outer edges of the path are constructed much like the terraces, by using clods of soil which are held together by thick and extensive root systems. You can see clods in action in the above photo. They work much like sandbags, and in the warm sun they dry quickly and become very firm.

Toothy helps compact the clay on the new path

Excavated clay is added behind the clods so as to bring the surface level up enough so that the path eventually becomes flat. The tyre of the wheelbarrow does the job of compaction of the clay surface each time I bring down a load of excavated clay. The clay weighs a heck of a lot, and the pressure applied where the tyre runs along the clay surface completes the compaction job.

The construction of path has not been completed, but it has almost reached the driveway, and that means that it is good enough to use to bring bulk organic materials over to the terrace project. Eventually the path will have a layer of the locally crushed rock with lime so as to provide an all weather surface.

The new path has not been completed, but it is good enough for the moment
The long and winding path

All the clay for the path this week was excavated from the third and highest terrace. Excavations on the terrace and the creation of the path took three days of  hard work – most of which was done by hand. The excavations on all three terraces are now complete.

However, after the first day of excavations, the upper terrace looked like this:

The upper terrace after the first day of excavations

Observant readers will note that about half way down the terrace and on the up hill side we’d begun digging around a large rock. The rock moved ever so slightly, and that is a sign that the rock can be dealt to. And I drilled and split that rock apart.

The author splits apart another chunk of the rock

Eventually all of the rock was drilled and split into many marginally lighter and smaller rocks. It was unfeasible just how many large and small rocks that we excavated in the final stage of excavating the upper terrace.

A whole bunch of rocks both large and small were unearthed this week

The excavations on all three terraces are now DONE!

The excavations on all three terraces are now DONE!

And the new path was used to bring in a load of 1 cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch to place on the lowest of the three new garden terraces.

Composted woody mulch was placed onto the lower of the three new garden terraces

Nature can be pretty unusual, and earlier in the week one of the chickens laid a particularly large egg. And inside the egg was a surprise: Another egg!

An egg inside an egg
The smaller egg now removed from the larger egg

With the warmer spring weather, the farm jumps with life. One evening I headed outside with the camera, and there sure is never a dull moment here:

A huntsman spider kills and eats what may be a Christmas beetle, but may also be a wasp
A bull-ant kills and hauls a huntsman spider back to the nest
A pobblebonk frog hangs around the raised vegetable beds. I reckon it too could kill and eat a huntsman spider
During the day a skink (the local gecko equivalent) enjoys the warmer spring sun safely inside the strawberry enclosure

Produce update:

These small apricots have produced some blush during the past few days
Almonds are beginning to put on some size
This may be one of the first strawberries of the season

Onto the flowers:

A beautiful Salvia
Quince trees have begun flowering
Our very first rose in the new rose garden
The last remaining Tulip survivors put on a good show

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 593.6mm (23.4 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 589.2mm (23.2 inches).

52 thoughts on “Likee”

  1. @Lew

    Your description of the biggest little farm made me laugh (details, sketchy). Still, we can’t begrudge them for finding marks, I mean investors, and indentured labour, I mean student volunteers, to help them restore some land. A lot worse going on out there 🙂

    I saw you mention SS-GB this week, looks good. I feel like I have watched a bit of resistance/alt-history stuff recently. There was that John Goodman alien one, and The Man in the High Castle is very good if you can get it on DVD.

    Like you, I saw the new spiderman recently as well. I thought it was fine, but not terrific. Enjoyed that the villain was basically a parody of normal superhero movies.


  2. Hi Chris,

    A rare and brief lunchtime break allows an early read and comment – do I get the coveted and very valuable first comment award?

    Early mornings are so uncivilised. Here in Auckland, the last place Mrs Damo and I would actually choose to live, I now wake up at 5am almost every morning. This is so I can get to the office in the rapid time of 40minutes. If I dare sleep in, and wait till 6am, or god forbid, 7am, the same journey will take an hour, or sometimes even 90 minutes. Tomorrow, I am required in Christchurch, and must board a plane. Estimated wake up time is 4am 🙁 Such are the sacrifices one makes for work.

    Your story of Ollie was great. And that path is looking fantastic. It almost makes me want to go dig a path!


  3. Chris,

    I dunno if the taste buds would grow back. Sticking a tongue onto frozen metal seems the sort of thing a trickster might urge one to do for his amusement?

    Ohhhh, that Sydney blue gum is sure a pretty wood! Birch is a hardwood, but I’ve never tried carving it, so don’t know how hard it is. It looks like it might be fun to wood burn.

    “Just because a book has not been read in a year, does that imply that the book has no value?” Agreed. And just because nobody borrowed it doesn’t mean that it was not perused by a visitor. Losing the nonfiction books for the sake of empty shelves seems wrong.

    The book…”The Coddling of the American Mind”. Here’s an article (warning: it’s long) that was later fleshed out into the book.
    Or a shorter summation:

    True, nuance is something not often in evidence. I see so much faulty reasoning, too: “This is how I feel so it must be true for everyone.” or “I’ve never observed that, therefore you’re lying when you say that you have observed it.” Things like that scare me, in addition to the polarization of our society. Sometimes there is no solution, just muddling through.

    Mate, I’ve got to tell you. Ollie has your number. He has control. At least he gives you doggy affection rather than biting your nose!

    The path is coming along quite well under the able supervision of the fluffy collective. It is good to see Supervisor Toothy actually doing some work and compacting the clay.

    And you ear wormed me! “The long and winding path” has a Beatles tune incessantly going through my head. It’s not letting me think enough to suggest a counter ear worm.

    Cool egg!

    So, the huntsman spider has preyed on what is perhaps a wasp. Then a bull ant preyed on a huntsman spider. I was waiting with baited breath for a wasp to prey on a bull ant. Circle of life, right? But the pobblebonk is cute and has a wonderful name.

    Your garden is doing well. I’ve been getting ours ready for winter, adding the frost-killed plants to the compost pile. The forecasts might say “somewhat warmer than normal”, but the actual temperatures are expected to be 5C or more lower than normal for at least the next 2 weeks.


  4. Hi Chris,

    I am here to applaud your liking the operation of batteries with the release of air from balloons in the latest Archdruid Report post; dramatic at first, then petering out to a puff.

    Can we now reverse that and say a well-designed battery, not being forced to behave like a fuel tank, is one that is specced to operate like a balloon? That is, batteries that attempt to mimic the energy flow of fuel tanks exactly are likely to be over-priced/unreliable/short-lived?

    May your strawberries survive devious predation and deliver epic spring feastings!

  5. Hi Margaret,

    Far out we did a lot of work last week, and you may now appreciate the lack of dialogue last week! Anyway, now that the excavations have been mostly completed, we can relax a bit. I added another cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch to the lower terrace today, so it’s now entirely covered in mulch. The mulch looked a bit like it was not as fully composted as I’m used to seeing, so I spread around a 15kg (33 pound) bag of dynamic lifter which is a mix of seaweed, chicken manure, blood and bone and some other stuff. The stench from the stuff is profound and Ollie and Toothy were racing each other to see how much of it they could eat before I mixed the pellets into the mulch! It’s meant to rain a bit for each of the next four days, so the extra fertiliser goodies can get the soil processes started. I’m not really sure how productive the terraces are going to be this growing season because the soil is just so new. It really takes about three years for a garden bed to go hard with productivity. Things may be different in your part of the world as I suspect the soils are better over your way – although I don’t really know and am just guessing?

    It’s an epic mountain range, not for height, but it just goes on and on, all the way from a bit to the west of here, and then all the way up the east coast. You can lose yourself for weeks in there and there is an Australian Alps Walking Track that runs through the higher reaches of the range and you can walk between 5 to 8 weeks and not pass a single town. I’ve walked for about 5 days unsupported and that would be an impossibility on the track.

    Good for you, and yeah it is hard to get around to seeing National Parks. Which ones are you considering visiting?

    Ah yes, plumbing corrections often entails un-thought of errors. I’d replace such a pipe too – you may recall that I mentioned the hand basin here in the bathroom which has a stupidly complex arrangement of drainage pipes – and what a surprise, they blocked up a few weeks back. Plumbing is one of those things that is best kept simple. The plumbed drainage here relies upon gravity in all circumstances, but the details sometimes get a bit tricky!

    Doug displayed a very staunch response to the latter travel obligations. In essence, he’s hardier than I, as I would have not coped very well with so much travel and time away from home and the land.

    Dogs have hardy constitutions and I reckon they’ll be fine as long as they have each other. Leo and Salve are pack and they’d know each other pretty well, and they may even enjoy the experience?

    Saturated ground is some of the toughest of all growing conditions.

    Hehe! Leo is a bit like Ollie in that expectations of the breed can often exceed the reality. The breed has a bad reputation, but I suspect that some people do not socialise their scary pooches – and it is the people that are the problem in that circumstance.



  6. Hi Damo,

    Total score! And yes, you get the Fernglade Farm Elephant Stamp of Achievement for the very first comment of the week! Nice work, and I note my 9am, maybe you 12pm, and I must add that things are heavy living in the future! Although I’m unsure what that exactly means.

    Oh my, and you’ve scored another direct hit with this talk of one of my all time favourites too: Rum and Raisin chocolate. Oh yeah, it’s good and thus why I don’t have it in the household. 🙂 There is a box of Lindt chocolates hidden in the house and I drip feed the editor with them on the days she enjoys a well deserved coffee in bed.

    I often remark to people that it is not for no reason that our friends at the ATO have the biggest computers in the southern hemisphere. Our politicians for some reason seem to think that recovering debt from young folks is fair game (not to mention the robo debt saga), and so the income threshold for HELP debt repayments dropped from $51,957 last financial year to $45,881 this financial year. Hmm, it’s not good. Just reminded me of one of my fave local rap songs of late: Seth Sentry – Wrong One. I really like the sentiment and Seth is a great story teller.

    I specialise in misty metaphors, so what can I say other than: It’s a gift. 😉 Mate, you’re self aware enough to know your own limits.

    The addition of lemonade speaks to the elusive shandy. Things can go too far on the other side of the spectrum and we made a batch of apple wine using ‘Pink Lady’ apples which are a sweet variety. The wine is sweet and strong. Most cider apples don’t taste very nice at all, and frankly (I’ll try not to call you Frank in future!) they’re a bit astringent. But the cider is good, thus proving that all apples have a purpose.

    Softies. Last summer I faced almost three months with little to no rain, and you muddle through. Water is I suspect one of the major limiting factors. If it means anything to you, we were one of the few houses up this way that didn’t have to truck in water, but even then we got as low as only 25KL in reserves. That is cutting things a bit close to the bone.

    And oh yes! Rotten and dastardly things these early mornings, and mate you have both my sympathies and my respect. Some things are just wrong from the factory and early mornings are one such. Marcu has likewise described to me the horrors that are the traffic in Auckland. Bonkers.

    Thanks, and Ollie sends his greetings to both you and Mrs Damo!



  7. Hi Lewis,

    Many thanks for the link to the Centralia railway station. It is an impressive building, and the restorations are top notch. I was curious to note in the article that it was the city which paid for the restorations of the building and the job was done with the background of a reinvigorating the downtown through a revitalisation project which had suffered due to over reliance on cars.

    Mate, when I was a kid nobody had heard of sunscreen, although if I recall there was something called zinc cream, and it was very thick and a very bright white gluggy material. It probably worked well, however I recall the advertisements promoting a fascinating product called ‘reef oil’ which apparently enhanced the suns rays. The advertisement used to show two distinct groups of people with the captions (from memory): ‘reef tan’ and ‘sun tan’. Never used the stuff myself, but I really liked the coconut oil smell and it always reminds me of long and lazy summer days.

    I hear you about getting burned, and long ago when I was in the state of Queensland (think Florida) I tried windsurfing. The board was so designed so that the sun screen on my southern acclimated feet washed off, and yeah, serious skin burns ensued on my feet – but nowhere else. Couldn’t wear shoes for many days afterwards, but on the other hand I received a lot of sympathy for my plight. No doubt there is serious long term skin damage from that day, and I rarely let my feet out in the sunshine nowadays. Exactly, an error not to be repeated.

    It’s funny you say that but in many of the articles that I read describing Vitiligo, it was described in a number of articles as an auto-immune response, so your speculation is probably on the money. I don’t believe that anyone knows what the triggers are for certain conditions that may affect them, and whilst it is prudent not to poke your health, given the unknown nature of the beast, you’ve gotta live your life too. It’s a real conundrum, and I read today in the final chapter of the book that Merlyn’s condition was discussed with his peers. Talk about a massive breach of doctor – patient confidentiality! And our dodgy friend Derek of Ravenglass is making a special guest appearance yet again.

    Years ago I had a dog who seriously loved food and the love caused her problems with her arthritis and back. So I took her to the vet, and the vet put her on a regular monthly course of injections that came with the warning that the course may accelerate the growth of cancer. You may have advised me to give her a baby aspirin once per day, and that would have been perhaps a better option. However, the dog received her once per month injection and she bounced back to life and then slowly got worse over the month. The vet had hooked a client into regular treatment, so they never discussed other cheaper options, and eventually the dog died after a long life, but not from arthritis or cancer. Bonkers.

    Never seen chipped beef on toast either. This appears to be a whole new food group to me! What is the gravy made from that is slathered all over the toast? Is it a white sauce or a gravy? I’ve never quite understood the desire for parents to ensure that their kids ate their entire dinner. It seems bonkers to me because adults often feed kids with adult sized meals – and then expect them to finish it. If I didn’t eat my meal, I went hungry, there was no complaining allowed and certainly no better options offered. I recall the many single lamb chop and three boiled veg meals as a kid and mate, I ate the fatty tail and sucked the marrow out of the bone and enjoyed every moment of it – because there was no more to be had.

    It may be that your SS GB series is based on the book by Len Deighton? I was a serious fan of the author back when I was a wee lad and he wrote an excellent 10 part series of excellent English spy stories set in West and East Germany. Natty titles for the books too. The protagonist was a self taught spy who always was looked down upon by his more educated superiors – but when things needed sorting he was the one that did the dirty work. And the story had a great twist because his wife who had married down in the social scales was the better of the two spies. Plus the author always wrote lovingly of the food consumed in various corners of the globe. All up that makes it a ten out of ten recommendation, although world events have moved on since the time it was put to paper by the author. The author, who is English has a great knowledge of old school Germany.

    Hehe! Yeah, it is the sketchy details that are important! Hehe! Well done them though, and I was hoping to see the documentary down this way, but no cigar, it was only released in a few cinemas. But I appreciate your review and it has intrigued me. And yup, the organic matter has to come from somewhere for the enormous worm farm.

    The wildlife gets the run of the farm here too, although there are some crops that I fence them out of (eg. the terrace project and let’s not mention how desirable strawberries are). Balance is a hard thing to find, because it involves having one thing eat another thing – and then being cool with that. Ollie earns his keep by running off wildlife if I give him the opportunity and if the wildlife takes things too far. That was one reason I was happy to get a very large dog that can run hard, but also knows where the boundaries of the farm are. A hunting dog would take things to extremes – and who wants that?



  8. Hi DJ,

    I don’t know whether they’d grow back either, but if chunks of tongue were left behind, certainly the situation would not be good. In that particular instance, the Trickster may be performing an act of Darwinianism?

    Thought you’d like the Sydney Blue Gum, 😉 and the variations of colour in the flooring are quite amazing. All of the floorboards were end matched which means they were 19mm thick and had tongue and groove ends (as well as the expected sides) and we deliberately laid strikingly different colours together. It looks good, although some people may want a more uniform coloured floor. The end matching meant that there was very little wastage. It’s been almost ten years so I may re-oil some of the floors this summer. Maybe.

    Years ago, I constructed a large linen chest for the editor (which is still in use today) and that uses Spotted Gum which is almost a naturally dark brown colour. The local timber which is Messmate, varies from a yellow to a pink colour, but then there are heaps of other local species too. The blackwood and silver wattles produce very hard furniture grade timber.

    Hope the Birch turns out well, and hardwood probably does better burning, don’t you reckon?

    Oh my! The road to perdition is paved with good intentions! Mate, we go from one extreme to another extreme and all the while we studiously avoid the middle ground or spend as little time in it as possible. And people who live in bubbles and surround themselves with group think often fall for that line. It ain’t so. The stupid thing is that you don’t need to travel far at all to step outside of one’s bubble. It is the stepping outside that most people seem to have trouble with, and then if they’re inside, the messages that they’re receiving are heavily filtered and mediated. I dunno, it’s probably not a good thing…

    I reckon Ollie would take a bullet for me, he’s very loyal. The funny thing about part of his breeding is that he looks scarier than he actually is. I suspect people breed such large dogs up to be hunting dogs – and then they’re not properly socialised with other dogs and humans.

    Thank goodness too. Lewis has a knack for mentioning ear worms, so lest we not put him to the challenge on both our parts. And please accept my apologies for the worm!

    I can’t honestly say with any certainty what the wasps eat. It may be they just consume pollen and nectar – and the stinger is for self protection? Dunno. The pobblebonk frog makes the exact same sound as its name. I spotted another one last evening that lives in one of the drains here. It was happily swimming and then I put the torch light on it and it froze and then rapidly decided to be elsewhere.

    Brr! At least it is not snowing! I chuck frost damaged plants into garden beds and let nature do all of the hard work of recycling.



  9. @ DJspo – Ask Atlantic Magazine, and thou will receive :-). An article about college libraries, and how students really aren’t very interested in library bells and whistles.

    The monthly newsletter from our library, came yesterday. They’re all in a techno ecstasy, as downloads (e-books and audio books) are approaching the million mark, for the year. Big whoop. The collection of books, and DVDs, isn’t looking thin. But I think they’re buying fewer titles, and, not as many copies. Slow attrition.

    If you have the time, I hope you link to pictures of this year’s woodcarver’s jamboree. They were so interesting, last year. I saw an interesting piece of old pyrography, at an auction, a couple of weeks ago. It was a wooden plaque you hang on a wall, with brass hooks for hats or coats. Roses. Had some age on it. “Codling of the American Mind”, looks interesting. I’ll have to see if your library has a copy of it. Lew

  10. @ Damo – You’re #1. That and a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee :-).

    But now, to more serious matters. Rum raisin ice cream! Here, they do it in vanilla ice cream. For the longest time, it was out of fashion. I had remembered it from my childhood. And, as I’m in my second childhood, it came to mind. It was nowhere to be found. About a year ago, one of the smaller ice cream companies, brought it back. Must be popular, as it’s still in the line. It’s in a very small container, and costs a lot. So, I only indulge when I have a bit of extra jingle in my pocket, and think I deserve a treat.

    Yes, “SS-GB” is from a novel, by Deighton. Only available from my library as an e-book. Boooo! Of course, I was aware of Deighton. We sold his books, hand over fist, when I was flogging books. But, I have to confess to a terrible shortcoming (among many). I just don’t care for spy novels.

    I was really looking forward to watching “Man in the High Castle.” Read the book, decades ago. I really think it’s some kind of test case, to see if they can get away with not producing a DVD. Drive everyone to streaming. Oh, well. Plenty of other stuff to watch.

    “Anna and the Apocalypse” will be waiting for me at the library, on Wednesday. Lew

  11. Yo, Chris – Sounds like Ollie has you trained to his morning routine. :-). Some animals get very attached to the predictable. HRH gets terribly miffed, at any changes. The picture of Ollie and Toothy? Now, I hadn’t had my morning cuppa, but at first glance, I thought it was one of those Guiness World Records. Or, click bait. “Australian Hound Sets Record for Largest Poo.” Well, the flowering trees in the background (in several of your pictures) are very stunning.

    A nice bit of writing, by the way, right down to where The Editor, and you, discover the re-opened pub. Will you be staging races, on the upper terrace? Rabbits? Wallaby? Chariots? :-). It sure is spacious. That was a lot of earth, to move.

    Well, that’s the second egg in egg, I’ve seen in 48 hours. “Biggest Little Farm” had one. I had some pretty odd eggs, back when I had chickens. Wrinkled like walnuts, tiny eggs or the rare double yoke. But never an egg in egg. Might want to by a lottery ticket, today.

    I liked your series of “vast panorama of nature.” “red in tooth and claw.” It inspired today’s ear worm. :-). A nursery rhyme, that first popped up in Germany, in the 1830s.

    Looks like your going to have bumper crops of this and that. I wonder if the yellow rose will smell like pepper. Some do. They also make nice climbers. Do you have trillium flowers, down there? They’re one of the first things to pop up here, in the spring. A wildflower, that is most happy growing in the woods. Cont.

  12. Cont. Centralia participated in some of the Main Street Programs. They were government grants, to revitalize down towns. Not only cars (but, really, because of car use) main streets died when the interstate highways, bypassed the towns. And, the big box stores moved in. Can’t say many of those programs were successful. Mostly, they tried “destination” types of draw. Which did bring some outside money in. But not enough to support business. For awhile, Centralia was pretty “hot” as a tat trade destination. Antique malls and small shops. But that’s fading … fast. Don’t know what they’ll try, next.

    Derrick of Ravenglass is an interesting character. Good to have as a friend, wouldn’t want him as an enemy. Wikipedia has a short entry on Ravenglass. It even mentions the Camulod books.

    Chipped beef is served in white sauce. It’s kind of a shredded beef, that’s sold in little packets, along with the lunch meats (for sandwiches.) It has a flavor, similar to corned beef. If I were making it (and, I probably did, somewhere along the way), I’d throw in some peas and onions.

    Oh, the whole “clean your plate” thing, is about power and control. We used to get a lot of “Children are starving in _____.” Fill in the blank. China, Africa, Europe. Well then, pack it up and send it to them. I think that’s when I perfected the eye roll, at an early age.

    Striking a balance, takes awhile. On “The Biggest Little Farm”, they had problems with gophers, eating the roots of the fruit trees. So, on a flyer, they put up owl nesting boxes. And, the owls came back. Gopher snakes, also showed up. Snails, by the thousands, were eating the citrus. They discovered that their ducks, loved the snails. And, fertilized the orchard.

    I sometimes wonder if I’m throwing something out of whack (the highly technical and scientific term for balance), by killing so many slugs. So far, not that I can tell. Now the slugs do break down dead organic material. But they also destroy the live stuff. I leave the potato bugs (aka rolly polly) alone, as they seem to prefer dead organic material. By the way, I discovered that if I put a small pile of mixed clippings, at the edge of the garden (not dig it in), it attracts the slugs, and they’re easier to nail.

    By the way, I’m following your conversation, with DJ, about Coyote as trickster. Out here on the coast, in Native stories, Raven is Trickster. One of my favorite stores is “Raven Steals the Sun.” Lew

  13. Hi Lewis,

    Ollie probably reckons that his human does need some training, and no doubt HRH also feels much the same. Actually dogs really love their patterns, although just when the patterns appear fixed and immutable, they go and begin doing unexpected things. Sometimes, I reckon they’re just trying it on so as to gain an advantage.

    Oh yes, the soil is a fine chocolate poo brown colour! The parrots would enjoy access to a lot of dog poo. I’ve noticed that the number of dead birds I’m coming across lately has increased, although it may be that Sir Scruffy was consuming them in past years? I’m putting it down to being the lean time of the year, but if it continues for another month or so it might be that someone around these parts is poisoning them. Dunno, but for now I’ll watch and wait.

    Hey, plans for that new long ‘poo’ path may include additional flowering cherry trees next winter. They look great don’t they?

    Thanks very much and I very much appreciate and respect the compliment. I’m playing around with the style of writing, not sure what to call it though. Evocation? But as I’m writing it, I’m working at describing the journey or process. And I was physically tired at the time I wrote it due to all of the excavations and earth and rock moving, so your feedback is doubly appreciated.

    Yesterday, I completed the process of adding composted woody mulch to the lower terrace, and it is getting close to the time where the corn seeds will need to be planted. This year, rather than just banging the corn seeds in the ground, we’re going to go all science like and soak them in water first and await their sprouting. Late next week looks set to bring a lot of rain, and that may kick off the seed germination anyway. Today was like winter, it rained and rained and right now outside it is only 39’F. It didn’t get much warmer than that earlier in the day either. At one point I looked outside and wondered whether it was sleeting.

    Hehe! A double yolk is a good find, and pity the poor chicken who laid that particular egg. Ouch! Not much of a gambler, if only because I note the house generally has greater funds and resources than the gambler – and there must be a logical reason for the disparity. 😉

    Good stuff, and I’d heard that nursery rhyme, but who knows where. The story also speaks to the cyclical nature of the world and as Mr Greer puts it politely, we all eat, and then get eaten once. In a dark twist, the farmer in the nursery rhyme, could end up pushing up the daisies. Unfortunately that might scare the kids.

    Not sure that I’ve come across a rose that smells like pepper, but they’re a vast collection of varieties. I read the full article on the folks that are rewilding their 3500 acres in the UK and they listed dog-rose as a weed. My mates of the big shed fame have dog rose popping up in their paddocks, and I’d never heard of or seen the plant before then. It would probably mow up really well, or provide a lot of organic matter where the soil needs it. There is a local paddock that removed a huge tract of gorse by using a massive mulching machine attached to an excavator, and this year the grass is jumping out of the ground.

    The climbing roses are great to amble through the garden beds, and they grow in a not dissimilar pattern to blackberry, but with nicer smelling and looking flowers. I planted a few climbing roses a month or so back, and I was hoping the plant identification tags were not mixed up with the bush roses… There was this wind storm one day and some tags became separated from the plants… Oops! Anyway, moving on… 🙂

    I have never seen a trillium flower before. Anywhere.

    I’ve seen a few towns bypassed by freeways over the years, and things rarely go well for the main street. Bakeries seem to take a serious hit, and then they have to lure the folks back through high quality produce. There is a town to the north of here where that happened, and I recall driving through the town when there was no freeway, and the street-scape looks unchanged from the 19th century. Mind you, the decrease in traffic running through the town is possibly a relief for the locals. It was feral back in the day, and crossing from one side of the road to the other was a serious risk. We don’t get the big box stores like you do in small rural areas, so the towns become sleepy in much the same way they were back in the day.

    ‘They’ could do far worse than producing gourmet pies. Yum! But largely I feel that these things are signs of a greater malaise and decline. I spoke with a person in a bank today who confided to me that they were uncomfortable with the prospect of negative interest rates. A fascinating and candid disclosure.

    Derek Ravenglass appears to have explained his way nicely out of the Lucanus and wounded soldiers situation. And even better it sounds legitimate – and he still appears to have Uther’s armour. You may note that I began reading the next book this morning. Speaking of ravens and books, ‘Hollow Kingdom’ turned up yesterday morning in the mail. It is a delightful hardback edition of the book. There is a bit of Camulod to get through first and the ‘to-read’ list is long indeed.

    Oooooo! I just came across a very well written and amusing short link to the strangeness that is Australian foods. We may have discussed some of these before, but to find them all in one place is like striking pure gold: Australian Food, the Most Iconic Australian Cuisine. The photos do the food justice. And I can’t believe that Americans were retching over a meat pie because apparently pies are only sweet and not meant to be savoury. Surely this is a stretch of the imagination? And chicken parmigana is a thing of excellence!

    Power and control tends to show up in all sorts of strange places does it not? I heard that line too about children starving in … Makes you wonder how such an idea got into general circulation in the first place? Back when such things were being said to me, children were actually starving due to an unusual and very left of left social experiment over in Cambodia. The body count was very high from that experiment, so I tend to feel that my mum was BS’ing me with that line as I’m unsure she really gave a toss about political experiments in South East Asia. I had a chance to read the full Cliff Mass blog entry earlier today about his treatment at UW, and it made for unpleasant telling. I feel for the bloke, he got a rough deal. It sounded very left of left to my ears. The body count is usually high with that lot, so they must be very good at producing such outcomes.

    Striking a balance also requires one to give up on such ideas as exerting power and control. And also accepting a lower yield.

    I don’t really know the answer to your question about the slugs. I get slugs here, but there are so many birds that eat them, that they don’t stand a chance. It is possible that in your situation, it might not be possible to allow a huge diversity of birds into the gardens? So you have to perform the slug culling function. The local indigenous folks down here went through that reality many millennia ago when they’d consumed the last of the megafauna, and then they had to become the mega fauna. Your story is the same really.

    Thanks for mentioning the raven story.



  14. Hi, Chris!

    You have one of those old-fashioned alarms: The Licky Facey, Model No. 2019. Ha! – at least there is some light when you get up.

    I love your clod system of path construction. Why didn’t I think of that? We just cut away from what is above (I know you do that also), never thinking of shoring up from below as well. The clods reminded me of a game my brother and his friends use to play – that I occasionally joined in – dirt clod battles. The weapon of choice was dirt clods and, boy, did my Mom get after us after one of those. That’s mighty dirty stuff.

    In one of the dirt clod photos I see Ollie glomming his eyes on Toothy in the path, wondering either: “Why is my brother so short?” or “I wonder if he knows where that missing biscuit went?”

    What a great shot of all three terraces – such a fine job. I can’t believe you all (all two of you) did that so quickly. One certainly couldn’t tell how big that rock was when you first started. Rocks are sneaky. Are there more rock gabions in your future?

    I have never heard of an egg inside an egg – neat!

    Did you squash the hunstman? I love spiders, but will certainly kill the venomous ones here.

    Thanks for the flowers, ours don’t have much time left. A rose already, in the new bed; it’s beautiful.


  15. Yo, Chris – Doggies do like their routines. Early this year, we tried driving off the mosquitoes, with a citronella candle (worthless). I kept it under the bench, and if I didn’t take it out and light it, HRH gave me, what for. But, you’re right. Never know when they’ll take off in some other direction. When the days started getting shorter, I started caring a flashlight (torch?) to light HRH’s way. At first, she’d get all excited and chase the beam, on the ground. And, if I didn’t pull it out of my pocket, she’d let me know. Now, it’s old hat.

    We have a cat that’s started hanging around. Hunts mice and shrews. Lives across the street. Quit friendly, and has even made friends with HRH. She’s black, and reminds me so much of my old cat, Nell. If I take a break from the garden, and have a sit, she crawls up in my lap, for pets.

    That’s unsettling that someone may be poisoning the parrots. Might hurt the dogs, if they get hold of one. But, the situation reminded me of today’s ear worm. Tom Leher. “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park.” 🙂

    We’re supposed to have three nice days … and three cold nights. Not quit down to freezing.

    Dog roses look a lot like our wild roses. Probably related, in the prehistoric past. Most people here train climbing roses up some kind of trellis. They can make really nice garden features. We have a trellis arch, here at the Institution, with a built in bench. Makes quit a nice rose bower.

    Eleanor worked in a restaurant, on the Chehalis “main drag” when they opened the freeway bypass. Up til that time, being on the main route between Portland and Seattle, Friday through Sunday nights could get pretty busy. She relates that the downtown businessmen, in their hubris, just shrugged it off. Didn’t think it would make any difference. The first weekend the freeway opened … crickets.

    I’d better dive into “Fort at River’s Bend.” I finished “1666: Plague, War and Hellfire.” I’m about done with the book about chairs. Interesting. To me. Somewhere in the early 20th century, chairs, sometimes, usually began to be viewed as art objects. Usually designed by architects. Not that they were comfortable. That took a second seat :-).

    I also ran across an interesting idea, watching the “extras” on “SS-GB.” The set designer said she kept “ruin value theory” in mind. I was curious, about that. Wikipedia had a good entry. Albert Speer and Hitler claimed the concept. But actually, it goes back to follies, on estates, in the early 1800s. Picturesque ruins, either real or contrived.

    Someone needs to tell Prof. Mass’s students, that they are being silly. If the rabble rousers ARE even his students. I put the book DJ mentioned, on order, from my library. Might get it tomorrow.

    Slugs are very cleaver. They mostly come out at night, when the birds aren’t around. Not that we seem to have many birds around. The Institution bans bird feeders. Some eagles seem to have taken up residence, up in the park, behind us. I’ve seen them circling, far above, and hard their screech, a couple of times.

    I’m off to hunt and gather, in the cheap food stores. I’ll check out the Australian food link, when I return. Lew

  16. @Lew
    There’s a big push around here to plant milkweed to help boost the Monarch population. It does seem to be better. We have a bit unmowed area that has lots of milkweed though we did see that many caterpillars. Funny most we did see were on milkweed growing right near the pig pen. I’ve been growing Mexican sunflower (Tithonia) for some years. It gets huge and attracts lots of pollinators, butterflies and hummingbirds. I plan to plant some more next year. Even now as it’s getting colder I’ll find several native and honeybees as well as Monarchs and Painted Lady butterflies.

    Your train stations look similar to the ones on the line I take to Chicago. Ours is at the end of the line and isn’t big or fancy like some of the more affluent suburbs closer in. A couple of stops in the city itself have no station though.

  17. Hi Chris,
    That Ollie has your number and with his size there’s no avoiding him in the morning. Now Leo and Salve like to sleep in often not even rousting themselves from their beds until we’re both up. If there’s company though it’s quite a different story. If the guest hasn’t closed the guest room door tightly they will wake up to a couple happy dogs and maybe some kisses too. If the door is shut they’ll just camp outside the door. Ollie looks quite a bit like Leo. I noticed in one picture his cocked head which Leo does on a regular basis.

    I’ve had a lot of strange eggs but never the egg in an egg. Congrats on the terrace completions. All are looking great!!

    The Australian Alps looks much like the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Coast Trail here. In fact one of the National Parks we are going to is the Smoky Mountain National Park and the Appalachian Trail runs through it as well. “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson describes his hike in a very humorous way. Anyway I plan to walk a bit of it just to say I did. We also plan to go to Mammoth Cave National Park as well which is not nearly as big.

    Well I must get moving outside. There is a door frame that is in desperate need of painting and the weather is actually cooperating so I can get it done. At the end of the week the weather will be quite cold – too cold to paint. We will definitely have frost and maybe a light freeze a couple of nights.


    People watching can be a great source of entertainment.

  18. Hi Lew,

    Don’t worry, maybe next time you can be #1. It is truly a great honour!

    Hmm, rum and raisin ice cream sounds great. I think I have only seen it at special ice cream stores (you know, with the waffle cones and the like). It could well be in the freezer section of the supermarket though, I don’t browse those aisles these days as I am not allowed to eat much of that stuff anyway (Mrs Damo says I am not allowed much ice cream due to the fact it makes me sick – I think it is OK on certain occasions :-p).

    I remember now talking about Man in the High Castle with you before – yeah it is an Amazon only thing so may never be on DVD. /shrug, as you said, it isn’t like there is a shortage of things to watch.

    I was cautious about The Dead Don’t Die after seeing mixed reviews, so your comments are not isolated. A shame, as it seemed to have all the right ingredients. Oh well, there is always Anna and the Apocalypse at Xmas (I am waiting till then).


  19. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the link to the article. Very interesting. As you told me, don’t get me started on libraries. Oh, wait, I started it.

    Hope you enjoy that book. I found it informative.

    Yes, once the photographer gets this year’s show photos uploaded, I’ll link to them.


  20. Chris,

    Yes, good take on the Trickster. I think the Trickster does a lot of Darwinianism.

    Different woods get interesting. The varieties of graininess and colors are amazing. I’ve got a block of purpleheart wood sitting nearby. (Yes, it is purple.) I have no idea what I’m going to do with it. It’s hard to find here, so I don’t want to screw it up. I’ve also got a hand carved iron wood turtle. Yes, that wood is VERY hard. I bought it somewhere, I think at an event on the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon. Somebody brought a bunch of iron wood carvings from Arizona and sold them.

    Yes, generally the hardwoods are better for burning and even carving than are softwoods. Some hardwoods are relatively soft and forgiving for carving and burning. My wood burning plaques have been nearly exclusively on Italian poplar plywood. I tried one on a piece of pine. Ouch! Too much pitch! The burning tip would hit a pitch pocket and hot pitch would spray everywhere, marring some of the work and burning too deep where the pockets were.

    The hardwood trees that I prune in my yard show promise for burning designs in walking sticks. The chokecherry worked well this year, and the maple and nut trees have promise: the grains are tight and there’s no pitch like with evergreens.

    I found some pictures of messmate and silver wattle floors and boards. Those are gorgeous woods.

    Large dogs often get a bad rap. Some of it is due to the lack of socialization, as you mentioned. Some of it is just that they’re large and have pointy, sharp teeth. Folks who don’t know dogs can’t read the signs that the dog is being exuberantly friendly so they get scared.

    Another cold front is hitting us. Nasty winds and temperature is supposed to hit -5C tonight. Normal low is about +7C. No snow expected here this round. Most of the vegetable plants got gobsmacked the last front and have been added to the compost bin.

    I found some videos that included the pobblebonk frog croaking. Or is it pobblebonking? That almost sounds too risqué for a family forum?


  21. Hi Pam, Lewis, Margaret and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but I spotted a bloke today in the big smoke who was riding a Penny farthing and yeah as you can imagine it looked sort of weird and high up in the traffic (I was watching the spectacle from the footpath) and well that heralded in the mid-week hiatus. Not sure what it all means!



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Ouch! The iceberg is soon about to depart to warmer shores: The making of an iceberg. The photos are epic. Incidentally the Extinction Rebellion folk are causing a bit of Fight Club style mayhem. Not sure what to make of them. Are they a part of your landscape in your part of the world?

    The smell from a citronella candle is actually quite nice, and dogs have sensitive noses, so it may be that HRH was just enjoying the smell? Scritchy follows a torchlight beam too. Torches shed an enormous quantity of light these days due to LED globes. Not like the old days. When I was a kid on paper rounds the bike used to have a dynamo driven light which was effective when the bike was moving. The roads were very quiet in those days.

    Dogs and cats can be great mates, even when the cat can get a bit playful. Before living here Sir Scruffy had only a cat for a friend, and he was mostly left outside and not allowed in the house. He used to sometimes roll on his back and pretend to bite your hand exactly like a cat would. The other dogs used to roll their eyes at such feline behaviour!

    Cats are actually really nice most of the time. I was however once attacked by two cats who were in full on attack mode, I fended them off, but they were feral – and very angry. I don’t reckon we’d be friends. I note that Merlin is doing his best to befuddle the wily King Derek, and not quite getting the upper hand. It is not for no reason that he is the King, and some of the wisdom the character spoke was quite astute.

    The past day or so have been cold and wet, but by Friday things look as though they’re on the up.

    Yeah, I’ve seen climbing roses growing up an arbour, and also exactly like you describe as trellis but meeting with another climbing rose on the other side almost as if it is some sort of, is portico the correct word? Not sure. Maybe arch?

    Who would have thought that people valued convenience, and happily bypass, bypassed towns? The bypassed town suddenly discovers that it has to serve the needs of the locals, and they can be small needs.

    Oh my! It all happened in England during 1666 (the number of the beast give or take a thousand years)! In some respects the Great Fire of London was a good opportunity to rebuild the city, however this time with a touch my sturdiness. And the rats would have struggled to avoid being barbecued in the conflagration. But following on from the plague and also a war with the Dutch. People who live in various aspects of comfort talk about troubles today, well compared to 1666, those troubles are peanuts. Did you enjoy the book? Although admittedly it is a dark topic.

    I have sat at a dining table and consumed food, where the table and the chairs where constructed from carbon fibre. Apparently it was a very expensive set, and it was actually comfortable, although most chairs these days appear to favour low backs, which is a design statement, but probably done to reduce unit costs in the manufacturing process. Such chairs are not fit for a proper mead hall!

    Thanks for the link and I checked out ‘ruin value theory’. An interesting concept, and it certainly speaks of an ego, but also a sense of place in ‘deep time’. But there were hints that it aped the Roman’s who’s shadow appears to be long indeed – in fact far longer than I’d suspected.

    Hmm, may write about that subject. And yeah, it may also be indicative that the environment has become out of step with the prevailing culture. Also, I’m uncomfortable with such treatment of the Good Professor because in such cultures, you never know when your lucky numbers turn up. But mostly the kids are just being stupid acting so, and someone who is not on the take, but with some authority, needs to set the tone. And say no more. Fat chance of that happening in such a business.

    Eagles in residence in the nearby park is a good sign.

    What bargains did you nab?



  23. Yo, Chris – The couple who live like Victorians, up on our Puget Sound, have a Penny Farthing bicycle. In fact, he works in a bike shop. They wrote about it, quit a bit, in their book. I see by the internet, that you can buy one for the low, low price of $1,600. There are several videos of how to mount, and dismount. And, there’s this. A Penny Farthing race, from 1928. Only about a minute long.

    That was quit an article about the Brunt Ice Shelf. The McDonald Ice Rumples? Sounds like something off a menu. The Halloween Crack? Who names these things? The film “The Day After Tomorrow” kicks off with an ice shelf, tearing lose, and rending an observation camp, in two.

    There hasn’t been too much in the news about the Extinction Rebellion folks. Cool costumes. Looks expensive, Cooler logo.

    HRH does a back roll to get her tummy rubbed. She probably doesn’t hang out with enough other dogs, to know it’s declasee. :-).

    I’m up to chapter III. I’d call King Derek and intuitive leader. Wonder what his back story was? I don’t know if your edition had an introduction, that describes the “real” fort at river’s bend? The author spent quit a bit of time there, soaking up local color. Sounds like a real hardship post. I wonder if they sent naughty soldiers, there. “You’ve been naughty, and we’re sending you to River’s Bend.” “Oh, noooo. Not River’s Bend!!!”

    “1666” was a pretty good read. Well researched. There’s enough documents to follow people through plague, war and fire.

    Other than the leader, the only seating in a mead hall would be benches.

    Well, on my hunting and gathering trip, I found a few more pounds of brown rice, a bit of organic oatmeal, and cheap white vinegar. Some staples, like freezer bags. Shelled pumpkin seeds. Nothing really startling. Cont.

  24. Cont. I checked out the list of Australian food. Vegemite: Got to check that stuff out. I see by the comments, that one must put it on buttered toast, and spread it very thin. I’ve been warned. Tim-Tam: We have similar. I wonder who the genius was, who figured out you could use it as a straw? Might have to give that a whirl. Meat pies: Not quit what we have here, but, apparently, the author hasn’t visited a frozen food case, in a long while. Chicken pies (and, there was a beef) were very popular in the 1950s and 60s. I think they fell out of favor, as there’s really no way to microwave them. For best results, you have to fire up the oven. Anzac biscuits: Got those nailed. Chicken parma, fish and chips and Pavalova (under a different name) are old hat, here. Beet root? Why not? Witchetty Grubs: I’ll pass. A red flag went up, when the author reported “tastes like chicken.” Barbecue: A noun, or a verb? Kangaroo: Too much of a cute factor, to indulge in.

    There was a link to a long list of Australian slang. Interesting. I’d say about a third, are in use here. Thank you, Crocodile Dundee. Or, maybe Mad Max?

    I finished the book about chairs. “Now I Sit Me Down, From Klismos to Plastic Chairs: A Natural History.” (Rybczynsk, 2016.) There were a few interesting thoughts, to mull over. The author stated, “Form does not follow function, it follows culture.”

    Kaare Klint (Danish architect and cabinetmaker) said, “All the problems are not new, and several of them have been solved before.” Nils Diffrient (a industrial designer) said, “No amount of recycling will equal using fewer resources in the first place.”

    I went to Safeway, for another pumpkin ice cream fix. And, they were out! As I stood sobbing in front of the frozen food case, with the tears freezing on my cheeks, I noticed some pumpkin ice cream sandwiches. Same store brand. They were not quit as flavorful. And, the crust could have been crisper. But as a stop gap, ok, I guess. So, I picked up a quart of another seasonal flavor. Peppermint. Vanilla ice cream with a swirl of peppermint syrup, and little chunks of peppermint candy. Not bad.

    I did a bit of harvesting, yesterday. We’re to have three cold nights. Pulled out one of the squash/pumpkins. Harvested all the mature green peppers (all three of them) and jalapeno peppers. (ditto: 3). My one potato patch has completely died back. I was a bit worried, as a few weeks ago, I did a bit of shallow digging around. And found nothing. I dug deeper, last night, and without too much trouble, came up with four small, but nice russets. I think I’ll cook them up tonight, with peas and garlic. Slather with a white sauce. Sound good? Lew

  25. Chris,

    The cold front delayed itself until the unforecasted rain turned to snow. We got 18 mm of rainfall equivalent, about the October monthly average. And had an inch of snow on the grass and cars. Parts of higher elevation Spokane saw up to 4 inches. It was wet and heavy, causing a lot of power outages (not for us this round) and downed tree limbs. Many schools were closed. Record for snowfall and the earliest by months that winter closed schools.

    So much for “warmer than normal”.


  26. Hi everyone,

    I definitely did not see any Penny farthing bicycles today. They probably would have looked rather strange up in the bush on dirt roads, but you never know… Regardless, the mid-week hiatus continues apace! Until tomorrow.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I’m absolutely zonked tonight. 🙂 I moved all of the excavated rocks off the terrace project using a wheelbarrow (which is now much worse for wear) and then placed all of the larger rocks into various other rock projects about the place. Some of the rocks were rather large, and I must confess to feeling a bit tired tonight. We also managed to put another 1.3 cubic yards of composted woody mulch onto the middle terrace (the one with the many roses). Some work days are just epic… I reckon there are another four loads of 1.3 cubic yards of composted woody mulch to go.

    I was really surprised when the young couple with the Penny farthing and who lived like they were in the Victorian era copped so much flack from the locals. What do you reckon about that? Sometimes I figure that such criticism is because the couples choices put the locals decisions and choices into a harsh perspective (not to mention contrast).

    It sure is a big chunk of ice and there’s no getting around that. I wonder how far it will travel in its journey?

    The Extinction Rebellion folks have sure picked an interesting motif. I wonder if they’d put much thought into it? The authorities down here are threatening them with bills for the costs relating to the police action and numbers such as $40,000 individual bills were chucked out there in the media today. It seems like a rather draconian response to what is mostly street theatre, and it seems a big call to back them into a corner through fines and penalties. They may feel they have little to lose, and that may produce odd consequences.

    HRH is in good company as years ago I trained a lovely old boss dog so that whenever I commanded the word: “Nipples”, she flopped on her back and scored a belly rub. Everyone seemed happy with the outcome.

    I’m on chapter III too. Merlyn and his gang were handed a piece of luck via Liam – a foolish move on his part and Shelag yet again proves that knife throwing is a fine set of skills for a young lady to possess. Good stuff.

    Better run, will speak tomorrow when more time will be available. Some days I just work very long hours…



  28. Hi Chris,

    Enjoyed reading about Ollie’s morning antics. Hi, Ollie! You have Chris very well trained. We know that he thinks he’s training you … hahaha! You have him well fooled and totally in your power!

    Here it seems as if it’s determined to slide from summer straight to winter, thus leaving autumn out in the cold (literally). There’s a huge winter storm making its way through the middle of the US as I type. Margaret, will you be getting some snow out of it? Even if you miss the snow, you’ll surely get a freeze. Even this far south it’s supposed to drop to the mid 30sF (1-2C) by Saturday morning, and since it’s often a few degrees F cooler at my place than the predicted low, it might frost here by then. It’s not too early for a frost, but it is on the early side. At any rate, I hope we get a good bit of rain out of the storm, as it hasn’t rained yet in October and we didn’t have much rain in September.

    I’ve harvested all the corn ears, which are drying out for a few weeks before I shell the corn off of them and determine the results of this year’s big garden experiment. The tomato plants did not like the excessive humidity and are all but done, but there are still a lot of peppers on the pepper plants which I may need to harvest tomorrow after the cold front passes through. I got what are probably the last few beans and last zucchini yesterday. With luck the colder conditions and rain will perk up the cabbage-family plants.

    My mother-in-law is now in hospice due to kidney disease and consequent slow failure. Her pain is much less now that she is no longer required to sit in a wheelchair for much of the day. Mike’s gotten her long term care insurers notified and signed the papers that will allow for that to begin whenever the policy allows; I think it’s a month after she entered the nursing home, which will be in a week or so. He and his brother are going through her apartment to decide what each of them wants before starting the final clearing-out. The terms of the agreement mean that she has to pay the rent through the end of the year, which allows for plenty of time to finish the clearing-out.


  29. Yo, Chris – Well, when it comes to tasks, to quote a couple of old saws (where does that come from?), you have to “make hay while the sun shines” and “strike while the iron is hot.” Circumstance, time available, weather and tides (?), You have to “get while the going is good.” 🙂

    Yeah, I don’t get the antipathy, toward the couple who choose to live like Victorians. Some people just react strongly to any kind of difference (not our tribe). But, I think your right. Some people perceive the way they live, as some sort of a comment on their choices.

    Oh, dear. I’m well into chapter VII, of “The Fort at River’s Bend.” Things are moving very quickly, in Ravenglass.

    It got down to 28F (-2.22C) last night. I potted up the two hot peppers, and hauled them up to my apartment. I hope they’ll be happy. I went to cover my green peppers, and discovered the deer had been at them, night before last. :-(. Oddly, they didn’t touch the peas, a few feet away. The decimated The Garden Goddesses tomatoes, but they were on their last leg, anyway.

    So, then, I started hacking my way through my tomato jungle with a pair of scissors. I got a grocery bag and a half of green tomatoes. There were a few red one’s. Next years seed. I lost the light, so was feeling around in the dark, trying not to cut off my fingers :-). We’re supposed to have two more cold nights, an nice days. I’ll harvest the corn, tomorrow.

    I watched “Anna and the Apocalypse,”, last night. Not as good as “Shawn of the Dead”, but far, far better than “The Dead Don’t Die.” But, given your antipathy toward musicals, I’d advise you steer clear. Though there are a couple of catchy tunes that may turn up on the youth radio you listen to. Dance numbers DO lend themselves to the graceful whacking off of zombies heads. 🙂 Lew

  30. Hi Pam,

    Almost got most of the composted woody mulch down today. What a surprise, it took far more than I estimated. So far the three terraces have eaten almost 8 cubic yards (7.8 to be precise) of composted woody mulch – all moved by hand. 1.3 cubic yards to go.

    Lickey Face model 2019 sends lickey greetings! Ollie has been contemplating how to bring a state of alertness rapidly to me in the morning utilising using lickey technologies. He may be onto something with that.

    Your poor mum would have hit the roof upon seeing you muddy urchins!!! Hehe! The clods work, you just can’t make them in summer or early autumn when the ground is dry as the clods fail to hold together.

    Ollie and Toothy are best mates despite the occasional disagreement – like: “Mate, the biscuit is mine!” “Nope, the biscuit is mine!” Then they discover that the biscuit is actually Scritchy’s and the disagreement ends right then and there. She’s a mean old dog that one despite being slightly smaller than Toothy. Sometimes Ollie cocks his head to the side and looks at Scritchy with a sense of wonder.

    Thanks and yes, there is a need for a few more steel rock gabions. Peak Rocks is almost here again… Sad face emoji.

    I generally leave the huntsman spiders alone, as long as they stay away from the cars and / or house. Everywhere else is fair game. The car is a purely practical concern as you can imagine my surprise to see one crawling towards me when I’m otherwise occupied at the wheel. They do bite, and you have to clean up the bite due to bacterial transfer from their fangs more than any sort of toxicity. The spiders that will kill you are actually far smaller species – like Red Back Spiders.

    Hopefully the supply of flower photos continues throughout our summer! And yup, the changing of the year.



  31. Hi Margaret,

    Ollie knows I’m in a weakened state at that time of the morning, and the reach he has is amazing. He doesn’t even have to put his paws on the bed, he just sort of leans in menacingly (only joking, he’s full of love that dog)! Years ago I never let the dogs sleep in the house at night, but then Sir Scruffy changed that policy forever. He was a smart dog the old Sir Scruffy (and the crepe myrtle over his grave is doing very well). Anyway, he refused to sleep outside and made an absolute nuisance of himself until I relented. Anyway, he broke my spirit and resolve, and so I relented and let him sleep inside, whilst the others were outside. Then one evening, Sir Scruffy woke me up to let me know that people were at the top of the driveway in the middle of the night. I changed my mind after that, as the dogs are my eyes and ears when I miss important things.

    I’ll bet if Leo encountered Scritchy, he’d cock his to one side as well – a quizzical look, if ever there was one don’t you reckon? – and as he pondered what exactly was wrong with the small old white dog that was rapidly approaching in a menacing fashion. For whatever reason, people fear the breed that Ollie and Leo share, but I sort of suspect that the fear is due to dogs that have not been socialised and/or treated very poorly – and also possibly very bored as they have active minds.

    The egg was pretty strange. Have you ever encountered a double yolk? Those eggs are huge. Thanks, and I’ve moved almost 8 cubic yards of composted woody mulch onto the three terraces over the past two days. I’m feeling it tonight though and am quite warm internally so I decided against running the wood heater. It’s 62’F inside which feels quite pleasant to me. However, it is only 48’F outside so the house will cool overnight, but the editor is not here to tell me to run the heater. 🙂 Hope tomorrow is a more relaxed work day. There is talk that the mysterious machine may be ready tomorrow.

    Oh! I loved that book. Did your book club get a chance to enjoy it too? The author is usually such a great read, and he recounts an engaging tale, and yes, I believe that you can definitely claim bragging rights – even if all you spend on the trail is an hour. It would be an amazing trail to walk, either of those. And I hope that you have enjoyable weather for your visit. The images of Smoky Mountain National Park are awe inspiring!

    Did you get any frost? I see Claire mentioned that even colder weather is possibly on its way to your part of the world.

    What do they say about the job that’s not started as takes the longest to finish!

    PS: I spotted a couple of slowly developing figs today. They appeared at the same time as the early leaves.



  32. Hi DJ,

    Thanks and the trickster does keep us all sharp.

    Far out, for the past few days I’ve hauled wheelbarrow loads of composted woody mulch up and onto the terraces. 6 cubic metres to be precise. Thanks be to the new path which made the job easier than it would otherwise be, but even so, I was feeling rather warm internally this evening. If the days had been any hotter, I wouldn’t have been able to have moved so much stuff. One further cubic metre and that part of the job will be complete. The project is epic…

    The purpleheart timber is stunning, and I’ve never seen such a colour in timber before. Really nice stuff and the fibres are more dense than the local Eucalyptus species – which is saying something as they’re very hard (650-750kg/m3). I hear you, and such beautiful timber does apply creative pressure. Do you find that some timber species suggest a creative use or design? That happens with the property here in that I consider a section of the property and ask myself – what can I see there? If it is too many steps in advance, I have no clear sight as to what the likely possibilities are.

    I’m starting to cool down and put on the woollen jumper that dare not leave the property, unless I’m looking for a cheaper quote for something, and then it is best to dress down and the jumper is certainly appropriate wear in the circumstances.

    Ah, there you go. You do see the promise in materials. 🙂 Never heard of a chokecherry before (or may have forgotten a previous mention – apologies, age and all that gear!) An interesting fruit, and I’ll bet your birds love it?

    The messmate is a great timber, and I once had a kitchen bench made up out of scraps that a timber mill specialised in. They used to custom make stuff to order and are really great artisans. It was a while back… … I’m not sure he’s operating out of the mill anymore, but I believe this is the guy (a real craftsman): Handkrafted. Did I ever mention my regret (I only have a few – don’t we all?) at not purchasing a second hand large Silver Wattle dining table? It was a stunning grey colour, and the finish was amazing. Oh well, the quick and dead and all that business. The trees grow here and they’re quite common, but in the island state of Tasmania, the Silver wattle gets far biggerer. The dominant and hugely tall (50m+) Blackwoods are the local wattle.

    -5’C already. Did I mention that this year has been much colder than last year and I noted that this has led to an increase in the amount of firewood consumed?

    Ollie is fortunately not a bitey dog, as yeah that would be a worry. Scritchy has a bit of dementia – and fair enough she’s 18 – and she can sometimes be a bit bitey – especially when events are conspiring against her wishes. Mind you, she still has good teeth, but age has taken the strength from her jaw, so it has more nuisance value than anything else.

    It does sound a bit dodgy doesn’t it? Language is a funny old thing. Back in the day, nobody said anything naughty as a matter of course. Then, as a kid I recall plenty of double entendres which I always found amusing, but somehow we’ve gone on from there and swung to the other side of the spectrum and people can say all sorts of surprising things (although not here!) Far out, a bit of middle ground wouldn’t be a bad thing.



  33. Hi Claire,

    Ollie sends greetings, licks, and congenial tail wags to you and yours! 🙂

    Now, before you say anything, I didn’t convey your prescient observations about who is training whom to Ollie, and it’s not because he’s sound asleep behind me on the green couch. Nope, I just didn’t want to give him any further ideas! Hehe! He has a fertile mind that pup. He’s been following me around all day today as I wheeled composted woody mulch onto the new terraces. The job is almost done and hopefully tomorrow I’ll get the last cubic metre on. Hopefully, you’ll find my soil magic mix to be of interest – I’ll show you on the next blog. The amount of materials the project is eating is slightly bonkers. 🙂

    Yes, welcome to my world. My autumns are becoming shorter in duration, and last autumn I went from summer to winter with something crazy like about a two to three week autumn interval. There’s definitely something going on there. Bizarrely enough, Octobers are usually dry down here too, but that seems to have been the case in late September this year, so it may have been early? Dunno. Have you had any rain from the storm, and how’s it tracking in other corners of your country?

    Out of curiosity, do you find that your corn gets a little bit starchy the longer it has been kept, or have I messed something up? I may begin soaking the corn seeds next week just to get them to germinate.

    Oh yeah, humid summers are a disaster for tomatoes. They’re a funny plant in that they like hot summers, but with plenty of groundwater. I’m vicariously enjoying the sounds of your harvest! Yum! The brassica species are going off like a frog in a sock down here at the moment!

    I’m so sorry to hear that your mother-in-laws condition has deteriorated. You know, I may have mentioned purchasing a mystery machine a week or so back? Anyway, the lady I bought it from lived in a beautiful and remote little pocket of country and was surrounded by hills on all four sides. She had a large olive orchard which was a surprise and she pressed her own oil – quite tasty. Anyway, she sold the mystery machine because her husband died a year back and he was something like only 12 weeks from retirement. We had a lovely chat on the day, and the neighbour came over to check me out and make sure I wasn’t some whacko (benefits of living in the country having your neighbours look out for you). As the chat continued, the inevitable topic of her husbands death came up, and I don’t ordinarily shy away from such topics, and she (and I reckon beseeched is the correct word to use) mentioned that life is both short and precious and that in all the goings on of life, we have to recall to live and appreciate the people around us. Seems like good advice.



  34. Hi Lewis,

    Those old saws are good, but one of my favourites was from Prof. Tolkien who had one of the characters in Lord of the Rings say that: “It’s the job that isn’t started as takes the longest to finish”. Wise words, and it may have been Master Samwise? Did you ever get around to watching the Tolkien film? I thought it was excellent, and sort of felt that the reviewers may have expected too much in that particular case. High expectations can be a curse. In the past I’ve had jobs were expectations were high, and then the bar kept getting lifted. I smell a rat with such tactics.

    The going is indeed good as you rightfully speculated. The weather has been fine and cool and lent itself to lots of outdoor work. Mind you, I do feel a bit today that I may have over-done things over the past day or so. Almost placed all of the composted woody mulch onto the three garden terraces as of the finish of work late this evening, and am now only 1.3 cubic yards short of completing that stage of the project.

    The funny thing about chucking around so much organic matter is that I realise that our ancestors did not have such easy access to resources in such easy bulk quantities. It still never ceases to amaze me.

    The editor is off tonight and having dinner with a friend. And after such a long workday for me (the chickens got to bed at 8pm this evening), well culinary feats in the kitchen were not really part of that story. Instead I grabbed a massive bowl of garden greens, cut them up using kitchen scissors and then chucked a few fried eggs on top and let the yolks run into the greens. Such a dinner didn’t quite fill the void in my guts left from all of the hard work, and so I made a pancake and slathered our home made raspberry jam on it. It must have been good because Ollie was sitting next to me and drooling onto the floor and begging me for a taste. Well, the editor is not here and thus standards have slipped, and well, Ollie scored a chunk of pancake and tells me that all was good with the world. I jokingly mentioned to the editor that if she got home too late this evening that Ollie would be on the bed! Hehe! Sometimes we stir each other up. Did I ever mention the amusing game we played on each other a few months back? We called it the ‘Tooth Off’. It’s a long and amusing story involving the dentist…

    Hey, I spotted the first new leaves on the fig trees today, but what was weird was that at the same time the fig trees have produced some fruit. The potential for the fruit must over winter somehow in the wood of the fig tree? Dunno. I only checked two of the six fig trees as it was getting too dark to undertake further investigations.

    Are you getting the cold weather that appears to have other parts of your country in its grip? The bushfires up north (down here) are not good at all. The world is such a complex place, because for the moment, the land here is emerald and it all looks very benign and enticing. Things can change though, that’s for sure.

    It’s a bit rough isn’t it, how the couple get treated. I can’t even begin to imagine the hassles they get, but I get glimpses from time to time when I fail to become excited by someone’s smart phone. One can only but do their best, because I stir people up about them by mentioning how useless the things are because people invariably can’t seem to find what they’re looking for. But yeah, such hassles are inevitably about the people giving the hassles. Do you reckon it is a form of doubling down? And oh my, don’t ever mention not having kids. Far out, I have been accused of some serious unpleasantness by other people because of that particular choice. I was once told that I was selfish for not having kids. Bonkers – and it makes no sense at all.

    Lewis, you are a reading prodigy! Although, I do claim err, work commitments, which does sort of sound like claiming that I was busy… I am well into chapter V and the naval battle was fascinating – and rather one sided and over rapidly. Although the preparations were pretty complicated. And apparently flinging foes at galleys was considered barbarous, although I noted Merlyn’s warrior companions appreciated the gesture. I found it odd that the Merlyn character expressed concern at the treatment of Liam, but then the Romans were rather fond of all manner of unpleasantness. No doubts they had an internal justification dialogue that suggested they were somehow the ‘good people’! Actually, do we know anything about such matters from their writings?

    Given what the snow and frost down here did to the peppers, I’ll reckon they feel happier in your apartment. 🙂 Plants can communicate apparently and I was reading earlier today about how some trees adapt to predation, and then warn their fellow trees.

    There’s always green tomato chutney, which I quite like, and it has a wonderful vinegar-ey taste. Yum! Just the thing for a cold winters day when you need to spice up some recipe.

    How did your corn harvest go? From memory, the cobs formed only very recently. Was pollination good on the cobs?

    A thumping filthy dance beat provides just the right cadence for zombie head lopping duties! Thanks for the review, but musicals challenge my mind… It’s not long until Zombieland 2 is released in the cinema! Yay for zombies… Ooo, that all sounds rather strange. Oh well!



  35. @Claire
    We won’t get snow but will have below freezing temps tonight. My tomatoes suffered greatly this year – first from below normal temps and then later the high humidity. I’m glad to hear that your MIL has qualified for hospice.


  36. Hi Chris,
    I’ve had quite a few double yolk eggs – always from young layers as their eggs develop so fast sometimes there isn’t time for a shell for form around each individual yolk.

    My bookclub didn’t read that book – it’s just one I read on my own. I have a lot more time to read now which I’m quite enjoying.

    We’ve had quite beautiful weather the last few days but that’s in the process of ending now. We should have a light freeze tonight.

    Your description of dinner when the editor is out made me laugh as it’s the exact opposite here. For the most part I don’t feel like putting a lot of effort into making a meal for just me.


  37. @Lew and DJ

    Our library here is pretty small but does quite a good job with limited funds. They just became part of a much larger library system and so far I’ve been able to find anything I’m looking for. There are quite a few programs for all ages. Right now they are having some sewing classes for kids. They plan to do some for adults and I’ll be right there to sign up as that’s one area I’m really lacking in skill. In fact last night I attended a screening there of the movie, “The Public” about a group of homeless people taking over the Cincinnati public library during a particularly cold spell. I joined the Friends of the Library group there about a year ago. Of course it’s totally made up of a bunch of oldish ladies.


  38. Yo, Chris – The mystery machine is … an olive press? “The journey of a thousand miles beings with a single step.” Lo-Tzu.

    I think I saw all the Tolkien films. Maybe. By the way, the Tolkien bio film, finally turned up in the library catalogue. On my hold list.

    Well, our ancestors had a lot more animals, for compost. I think I mentioned that “Edwardian Farm,” the documentary, had quit a section on lime burning, for the fields. I think our ancestors had a pretty good grasp of getting stuff out of a field, required putting stuff into a field. Letting fields go fallow, for a season. Cover crops.

    Sometimes I tell myself I’m going to do a simple dinner, and then I get carried away. But, sometimes I actually manage to pull off a simple oatmeal and raisins.

    Fig trees are outside my area of expertise. But, I think some varieties grow here. Google is your friend. :-).

    It was 30F (-1.11C), last night. Cold and clear. But, rain and warmer temperatures, are on the way. My friends in Idaho have also been experiencing cold and clear. Ron even played a few rounds of golf. But, I figured it out. The jet stream headed south, slamming DJ, and then made a loop around Idaho, headed north, and slammed Montana and points east. Idaho is in a clear loop.

    I guess I could say, abut the Port Townsend couple, that people react badly to difference. At least less thoughtful people. Maybe people without much curiosity?

    I’m up to Chapter VIII, now. Liam’s attempted coup, and the sea battle were so exciting, I just had to keep reading. And, I wanted to see what the fort is like. But I’ll give it a rest, for awhile, as I’ve started into Ruth Goodman’s “How to Live Like a Tudor.”

    Roman burial customs were complicated. Merlin lived right on the cusp of the time when generally, there was a shift to burial, rather than cremation. Pagan vs Christian. Although I can think of examples of both, even in classic Roman times. When Merlin discovered Urther’s body, he burnt it, circumstances prevented burial, but he felt burning was a least a step above just leaving him lying about.

    As far as feeling queasy about the treatment of Liam’s body, That may have had to do with a kind of warrior code. Even vanquished foes were due a bit of respect. Even enemy armies, were at least chucked in a pit. I guess burial had a lot to do with underlying local culture, status and economics. Even Romans, living in poverty, might join a burial society. Kick in a bit to a general fund, once a month, to insure you got a descent burial. We even saw that, into modern times. Churches, fraternal organizations, guild, unions … often, a fringe benefit would be descent burial.

    I’ll be harvesting the corn, today, after I finish here. I whacked down all the tomatoes, yesterday. Found another half bag, I’d missed in the dark. So now one section of the garden has a good layer of organic stuff. I’ll do the same for any corn stalks that don’t end up in the Garden Goddesses harvest decor. Though I told her I wanted to mulch that, when she’s done with them.

    That’s really something, in California. Almost a million people, but off from power. I wonder for how many, that will be the last straw, and they begin to think of moving, elsewhere.

    I also saw an article where thousands of tarantulas are on the move, in California. It’s mating season. I didn’t even know they HAD tarantulas, in California. They can keep them. Lew

  39. Hi Margaret,

    So much for requiring only 1.3 cubic yards of composted woody mulch today. We ended up moving 2.6 cubic yards, and I am officially physically tired – a rare event. On a mysterious machine note, the mysterious machine has returned this afternoon from the farm repair shop with a good bill of health. The mysterious machine has landed! We had about half an hours fun with the machine – and it’s good.

    I’ve only seen the single double yolk egg (is that poor grammar?) And the egg was huge. Thanks for the explanation as it makes sense, and it is chook auction day tomorrow for the local poultry club. I’ve never been to a chook auction before, and no doubt my lack of experience will mean that I’m ripped off badly! All part of the learning experience I guess. We’re down to a dozen chickens, and could use a trio of point of lay chooks, but we’ll see.

    He’s an excellent author. Books are such a pleasure, and it is nice to take the time to enjoy them. Life is short and libraries are immense! 🙂

    Not good for your vegetables, although brassica species can handle the occasional freeze as do broad beans. Are you getting leaf change now? Some of the fruit trees in the shady orchard have only just begun the process of producing leaves.

    I hear you, and yeah, I was reaching for something really simple like muesli fruit and yoghurt for dinner, but the yoghurt had only just finished cooking and was yet to congeal in the refrigerator. Thus I was into the make-it-up-as-you-go-along cooking mode. The pancake was very nice, and the raspberry jam made me feed the raspberry patch earlier this evening with organic fertiliser. Raspberries are the finest of the berries, and I was very dubious of the berry before growing my own. Last year I took some into a client and as we were discussing important matters, the two people in the office scoffed down a huge hoard of tasty raspberries.

    On a brighter note, I walk outside and the smell of fertiliser is quite profound and in need of some rain!



  40. Hi Lewis,

    The mystery machine was collected from the local farm machine repair shop this afternoon. The mystery machine has landed! Sorry, I used that joke with Margaret, but I thought it was a good joke all the same and could use a bit of a second airing! An olive press is a good guess, but no cigar. 🙂

    It is funny you mention olive oil, but the talk of dead husbands on the day of purchasing the mystery machine, kind of distracted me from – dare I say it – the pressing issue of olive presses. 😉 Bad Chris! At this stage I’m toying with the idea of blitzing them in the heavy duty food processor and then pressing the fruit in the apple press. From what I understand of the process, the stones in the olive fruit provide some of the oil in the initial pressing process. All I know is that I have to plant more olive trees which fortunately are rather cheap.

    I’d like to believe that we here could be the ‘old venerables’, but few would harken to our supposed wisdom until we’re well and truly feeding the worms. The worms would hardly mind the slight. Oh my, words of wisdom from the now long deceased: “Laozi tells his son that it is better to treat respectfully a beaten enemy, and that the disrespect to their dead would cause his foes to seek revenge.” And thus we again see folk desiring to head ‘into the west’, and so live as hermits in the unregulated lands. It is a common story throughout epic cycles. Interesting. Giants walked the land in the flesh in those days. Layers have since been added to the words and not always to good effect.

    Talk of Tolkien films reminds me of the first part of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy. I went to see the film with a bunch of mates a few decades ago, and someone said that at the end of the first film, that they were hoping that the ring was chucked into the fires then and there, if only because they never realised that there were two additional parts to the story. A surprising and also amusing observation.

    Yeah, I reckon you’re on the money, and our ancestors were well aware of the cycle of minerals from field to table and then back again. It is only in these enlightened times that we feel that such niceties do not in fact matter. 😉 You would have seen it occurring in your garden beds. I sure see it happening here – and do my utmost to become a net importer of minerals, which is frankly not that hard to achieve in such wasteful times as these. Even in the house this evening, I smell organic fertiliser. Seeing dead people would be somewhat less difficult on the senses!

    Well, yeah, I was also reaching for a simple dinner of muesli, fruit and yoghurt (with a small cup of sake) last evening and that was when I realised the yoghurt had yet to congeal in the refrigerator… Other plans were brought to the fore.

    Gogle knows a thing or two, and perhaps that is because the finest brains of this here household have been turned to compiling an electronic database so that others with no experience whatsoever can claim some level of expertise if only because they can handle a keyboard. Incidentally the finest minds of the household here happen to be Toothy and Ollie, although, Ollie appears to be the more intelligent of the two. It sure ain’t me!

    Ouch. Your jet stream operates in mysterious ways, and I await to hear the report from on the ground from DJ.

    Interesting, I’d never quite associated a lack of curiosity with a lack of thoughtfulness. You know, there may be more to the story, and our society breeds a certain sort of laziness which I abhor, but I suspect that some of that story is also chucked into the mix. And it’s a potent and heady mix.

    I was reading the unfolding naval battle in a hot bath the other day and there was no way I was getting out of the bath until I learned of the outcome. Laozi, the old master may have had something to say about the treatment of poor dead Liam, and upon reflection I tend to feel that Derek’s troops pursued a strategy of escalation when they could have made amends then and there with the remnants of his fleet. Plus they may have made a salient point to the survivors. Such subtlety maybe lost in the blood, or heat of the moment. I was quite taken with the story of the awe that the bloke in the blue cape engendered in the face of defeat – and he was accorded respect from the defenders for his panache. In doing so, I feel that he accrued mojo.

    It is interesting that you mentioned that, but I’d read conflicting accounts of WWI where such acts of bravery for respect for the dead were honoured by the living, and yet at the same time, I have also read accounts that such long standing traditions were violated. I recall from our own history that there was one such person who rarely rates a mention these days. Incidentally, he was apparently a Wobllie with quite left wing radical views: John Simpson Kirkpatrick. The Turks apparently did him in, which is understandable given that we (under the English flag) invaded their country.

    The tomato vines produce quite good mulch, so it’s a great idea. I run the mower over them, or chuck them into a garden bed, and they rarely last long. An excellent idea. I have an electric chipper which rips through corn stalks and produces excellent mulch. Admittedly, I did have to modify the very old (and locally made) electric machine so that the chute didn’t get clogged up with wet corn organic matter. Until the modifications, the machine was an absolute pain in the rear.

    Far out. Those fires in California are messed up. I heard about them today on the radio news, but yeah the same is going on to the north of this continent.

    Thanks for the link. Fascinating stuff.



  41. @ Claire:

    It is sad to hear that your mother-in-law has gone downhill so fast, but it sounds like you and your family have things well in control. You remain in my thoughts.


  42. Chris:

    I did something interesting this week – besides go to the eye doctor and finally get a new pair of glasses. I went to our Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles to get a REAL ID. By the end of October 2020 no-one – absolutely no-one – will be able to board a plane without a REAL ID. I remember when our Congress critters passed this into law in 2005, a few years after 9-11, but then – like everyone else, I imagine – forgot about it. So it is now here to bite us and I’ll bet by next September there will be about 100 million people heading to their DMV offices.

    To add insult to injury, it costs $42.00.


  43. @ Lew – in this pumpkin spice time of the year, I would be remiss if I failed to mention that you can make an excellent pumpkin spice cake from a carrot cake recipe by replacing the shredded carrots with an equal volume of canned pumpkin. I make the pumpkin spice version for a good friend of mine who greatly prefers it that way. I frost it with cream cheese frosting. Because of the cream cheese frosting, it must be refrigerated.

    @ Margaret – we had a light frost around and in the vegetable garden, the only part of the yard with an open view of the sky. I had harvested everything that the frost could affect, except for the remaining apples, but I think they will be OK since the tree is near the driveway and street, so benefits from a bit of heat radiating off those surfaces.


  44. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, The Atlantic magazine, on line, has a photo essay of the Bungle Bungles, out in western Australia. With a name like that, I knew it had to be Australia. :-). Quit interesting and beautiful rock formations.

    I’m glad the mystery machine has landed. “One small step for man…” You know, with all the build up, the unveiling is likely to be anticlimactic. :-). Well, I’m glad the mystery will soon be solved. I’ve been losing sleep. Tossing and turning.

    I’ve seen some pictures of reconstructed Roman and Greek olive presses. One that sticks in memory, is one with a ram’s head, carved on the end of the pressing beam.

    I’ve finally wised up and try and check ahead, to see if some film is a trilogy. There’s been a few cases, lately, where part one did so poorly, that parts two and three never materialized. Often, I just read the books and call it good.

    I’ve read stories where besieging armies (the Huns, I think) used to pitch plague ridden corpses, over hold out city walls. But that might just be one of “those stories” that have no basis in truth. Ruth Goodman, in her “How to be a Tudor” takes on the myth (she thinks) of spoiled meat being highly spiced, to cover up the off taste. She makes the case that spoiled meat is going to make you sick, no matter how many spices you lard on. And, that at the time, spices cost far more than just going out and getting another piece of fresh meat. I happened to think that even before the internet, history texts could be a bit of an echo chamber. Just slower.

    That was an interesting story, about Kirkpatrick. There was a recent film about a CO medic, in the South Pacific, during WWII. His company didn’t think much of him, and gave him a lot of grief, because he wouldn’t carry a gun. Until he started saving dozens of them, from the tender mercies of the Japanese.

    I think I mentioned it before, but we had a go around, with the Wobblies, in about 1918. When I first moved here, in the early 80’s, no one would talk about it. Now there are books, and, from time to time I hear there’s a movie, in the works.

    It was a balmy 36F (2.22C) last night. Yesterday, I harvested all my corn cobs, unless there’s a stray hiding in there, somewhere. I got about 15 cobs to grind, and numerous small cobs. Those I decided to save. I’ll have stir fry and freeze some up. My chipper is my strong, gloved right hand and a pair of garden shears. :-). With the occasional help of pruners, for the really thick stuff. I got about half the patch mulched. A lot of the rest of it will go to the Garden Goddess, for decor.

    I’m up to my who-who in garden produce. So much to do, right now. Lew

  45. Chris,

    Ohh, I forgot to mention. The Princess didn’t get any project finished at the basket weavers event this year. She got a good start on a very difficult project. However, she did come home with gifts: I get a commemorative apron every year, which I appreciate, as I do most of the cooking. She also bought me a gorgeous beaded belt buckle. The project she started is a traditional style cedar root basket used for picking huckleberries.

    6 cubic meters of material via wheelbarrow? That is a LOT of mulch!

    Yes, some wood is like that: see the piece of wood and see the project. I was trimming some trees and kept 2 maple poles for walking sticks. The poles are full of character and some ideas popped out at me. A small curved and gnarly stick from a cherry tree has ideas oozing out of it, too, so I kept it also.

    Yes, the birds like the chokecherries. I remove the pits and add them to breads and stews.

    Thanks for the link. Handkrafted does good work. The furniture looks fantastic. I was really impressed with the traditional hand cut joinery: it appears to have a nice, tight fit that won’t slip at all. It’s rare to see that quality these days.

    You can’t buy everything, can you? Occasionally I’ve had regrets like that Silver Wattle table. Oh well, I either get over it or lead a miserable life. Since my life isn’t miserable…

    As the summer was closer to normal temperatures and rainfall, our water usage was down significantly, which makes me happy. On the other hand, we’ve had to use the natural gas furnace earlier than we usually have to do, so the heating bills will be up. Were I still heating with the wood fireplace in the basement, I can see how this could’ve been a winter in which the firewood runs low by the end of the season.

    So Scritchy is turning into an ankle nibbler? I have a lot of respect for old dogs and always gave mine some extra leeway for moodiness as they aged. Rakhi the Samoyed lost some of her athleticism and it made her grumpy sometimes, so she got extra time with me for walks or belly rubs when she got grumpy. Although sometimes I think she had me trained well and just pretended to be grumpy for the extra attention.

    More politeness and a middle ground would be good. Unfortunately, there are times that my managers won’t do what needs to be done until somebody acts over the top and exceeds the proper levels of decorum and professionalism. Then, and only then, does management get it that a situation demands their swift and decisive attention. My take is that this, as well as the slide in “acceptable” language, is another sign of the slow decline.

    The expert wood burner is holding his fall classes. 2 down and 4 more to go, the classes being held twice per week. Often I’ve had to assist with beginners and get little of my work done. This group of sessions is different, as most of the participants aren’t new, so I’m making progress on a very technical and detailed project. It’s good fun.


  46. @ Margaret,

    It sounds like you have a good library. The City libraries have the problem. The last time I checked, the County library system still has most of their books. I’ll be visiting a County library in the next few weeks and will get a good update on what they’re doing. The librarians at the local City library aren’t happy. They see the need to keep the shelves full of books, but some manager at the main branch seems intent on getting rid of the books. The City system doesn’t even have a single copy of “Shogun”, for example, which I find indefensible. Consider yourself fortunate.


  47. Hi Pam,

    New glasses are a wise move, and I hope that they allow you to read the text in books more easily. Books are good! And reading is a worthwhile activity. I’ve personally been to many distant places and times via the tool of books. 😉 An elegant technology if ever there were one.

    There was an old adage about: ‘not fighting city hall’, and it seems somehow appropriate given your circumstances. I do rather hope that the people who are less organised than your good self, don’t suddenly find themselves to be non-persons. I can almost hear the future distant whisper of bureaucrats suggesting to such people that: “You’re not in the system and therefore, you aren’t meant to exist”.

    Anyway, I’d be like you and as people in the beautiful land of acceptance, I’d get in early too. Something about not fighting city hall and all that. With such a work load I suspect that city hall may eventually run out of steam.

    Years ago the left leaning government suggested a national ID system (which failed): Australia Card. I recall the drama that ensued from that proposal.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    The Bungle Bungles are an impressive range, not for their height, but for the sheer spectacle. The stratification of materials is quite apparent even from the most cursory glance, and it is not hard to avoid the feelings of ‘deep time’ that come to the fore during such exposure of the senses. I was in that part of the continent late last century, but only saw the range from a distance. In those days the hatchback would probably not have made it in and then out again. It is hard to grasp the enormity of land that is that part of the world, and it was quite eye opening. Did you notice that the mountain range had apparently only been ‘discovered’ in 1983? Bonkers, huh. Thanks for the link and the photos were epic.

    Ah well, the mystery must remain a mystery for a few more weeks – if only for purely pragmatic reasons. It’s not in my nature to be mysterious and all that… Hope you don’t lose too much sleep in the meantime?

    Hey, I went to the local poultry auction today. It was feral, and there were people all over the place. The crowd and mass of people was really intense and at times, being slightly taller, I had to hip and shoulder my way through the crowd. The editor and my mates at one point put me in front of them and I parted the seas (so to speak). Despite going there with little intention to purchase, we came back with two new Light Sussex chickens (my mates took the Rooster who was later very sulky that he’d lost his two ladies). The older and tougher members of the Fernglade Farm chicken collective have now kicked some sense into the two new girls, and all I can note is that it is a rough and tumble world in the land of chicken.

    You know, I too am surprised that few machines are constructed with any level of aesthetics. There is a bit of a stoush going on with a freeway widening project in western Victoria. The project is apparently endangering several very old Eucalyptus trees, and fortunately one 800 year old ‘Birthing tree’ has apparently been protected, but the Grandmother, Grandfather, and Directions trees have missed out on protection. I read a quote from a local indigenous woman regarding the trees and she is quoted as saying: “If mother earth is sick, that means that we are all sick. We are a reflection of her.” I see no reason to argue with her philosophy as it seems clear to me too, and it might also explain a thing or two about our civilisation.

    Mate, writing a screen play would be a monumental task. Most films go for a couple of hours – three at the very most. And I don’t recall ever managing to read a book in three hours. Something must be lost in the translation – but what is it?

    Oooo! That had never occurred to me before, but yeah it makes perfect sense. Of course there are occasions when some particularly hardy souls could consume such meat and be fine (think plane crash in the Andes in 1972), but yeah Ruth is on the money about spices back in the day – most of which originated in the tropics. I’ve seen spice stores in India and they are things of beauty with what looked to me like hessian sacks full of highly coloured and aromatic spices. We have spice stores down here at markets, but they lack the… I guess the echo chamber story is an old story. I’ve often wondered whether Nero really did fiddle whilst Rome burned? It sounds like the sort of thing written by antecedent’s and victors. And we’ve discussed the famous: “Let them eat cake”, story before. Nobody in their right mind would say such a thing when faced with a starving mob.

    I saw a trailer for the film about the CO medic who refused to carry a gun, and it looked like a great tale. Did you get a chance to see it? My mind was distracted by the bullet budget of the film as depicted in the trailer. Everyone has their kryptonite (add musicals to that list).

    Ouch! The fear of the red has hung long over your land. I recall reading a few years ago of an account of a particularly violent football game after the conclusion of WWII. Passions and emotions are stirred at the same time that normal social boundaries are stretched and then things go awry. How does one then close Pandora’s box?

    A nice harvest of cobs. Respect. And yes, also respect for your manual corn mulcher. It works. 🙂 You do realise that I have fall back plans along the lines of what you just did?



  49. Yo, Chris – I missed the part about the Bungle Bungles, being “discovered,” so recently. Nice to know there are still relatively undiscovered (at least by the punters), areas.

    A few more weeks to discover what the mystery machine is? Might as well wait for Christmas. Wrap a big bow around it. 🙂

    I wonder how many of the people at the poultry auction were there, just for the entertainment value? Free entertainment! We have a poultry auction, here, but I’ve never been. Best steer clear of chicken politics.

    Aesthetics cost extra. 🙂

    How to boil down a book into a screen play? You’d have come up with the solution to that, in your own time. “A picture is worth 1,000 words.” :-). I’m sure we’re talking about the same movie, about the CO medic. I saw it, and it was very good. But you’re right. The battle scenes were in slow mo, just so you wouldn’t miss a single splatter of blood or glistening intestine. Probably a pretty accurate depiction of what a pitched battle is all about.

    Speaking of graphic footage, continuing the Chehalis Australian International Film Festival, I watched “Kangaroo: A Love-Hate Story.” Now that’s a complicated can of worms. I didn’t realize that the kangaroo trade (skins … meat) was so big and so global.

    The footage of Kangaroo Dundee, the kangaroo rescue guy, was pretty interesting. And, just think. 50,000 years ago, some kangaroos were mega fauna. You’re impressed by your big fellows. Imagine a kangaroo, twice as big. I didn’t know there were 70 some species of kangaroo.

    That reminds me, I ran across an article the other day, that the disappearance of the mega fauna may have been part caused by a giant meteor that slammed into Greenland. Man played a part, but the time frame is right for the disappearing mega fauna.

    LOL. In the first place, the Romans didn’t have fiddles. Stringed instruments, but not fiddles. Lyres, etc.. Nero wasn’t even in Rome, when the fire started. He was out on the coast at a … music festival. Where he probably participated.

    Fiddled about in the garden, yesterday. Finished mulching the corn, etc.. Things are beginning to look winter bare, very swiftly. Lew

  50. @ Claire – Thanks for the pumpkin tip. I’ll have to give it a whirl, after I dig myself out from under all the produce. Lew

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