Bored to death

Wonder is the feeling of stepping outside your door of a morning, only to discover what fun the local wildlife has had in the orchard during the previous evening. There is never a dull moment living here. And the wildlife raging and partying through the orchard is as much a part of the farm as the editor and I, or even the fluffy collective.

Years ago when I called the ‘Big Smoke’ of Melbourne home, I never felt that way about place. And the wildlife there sometimes really annoyed the daylights out of me.

I guess things were different in the inner suburbs of Melbourne. The land had been subdivided during the late 19th century, and therefore the plots were small and the Victorian era houses were even smaller. Historically, everyone lived, and still does live, cheek by jowl. And occasionally the wildlife was a serious nuisance.

The Victorian era workers cottages in those inner urban areas usually meant that a person would be sleeping in a bedroom which is only metres from the footpath. I recall one memorable evening when nearby residents parked their vehicle outside the house where I was blithely sleeping (but my sleep did not continue for long). It must have been 3am, and clearly they’d had a grand old evening of partying, for their car stereo was banging on at full volume. As a contrast, earlier that day I’d been doing what people who lived in ‘workers cottages’ had done for many a year, which was: ‘working’.

The car stereo was pumped to the max with filthy dance beats, and they sat there enjoying the music for more than just a few minutes. As a person who still listens to the national youth radio station, I’m quite partial to the occasional filthy dance beat, but not at 3am after a hard day of work.

As an older and maybe wiser person, nowadays I would have woken them up at 8am the next morning and informed them in a friendly and mildly beguiling way that they’d accidentally left the lights on in their car! But no, at the time I didn’t think of that amusing option. Nope. Instead, I wrote them a nice letter which began with: “Dear Disco Boy“, and then I went on to describe in detail how antisocial their behaviour had been the previous early morning. The behaviour was not repeated and I didn’t think much more about it.

That was when things got a bit weird. Another neighbour who I’d been on friendly terms with, suddenly stopped talking to me. And their explanation was that apparently I was now considered a person who was homophobic and they wanted nothing at all to do with me. I was flabbergasted by the claim and had no idea how such a claim came to be. But then I only heard the explanation for the ghosting from yet another neighbour. And yes, it is a truism that: “may the bridges that I’ve burned, light the way forward”, for the friendly neighbourly bridge appeared to have been thoroughly burned through a misunderstanding.

Me, being me, I didn’t ponder the matter any further and just put the misunderstanding down to people being strange. Then, a few days later I received a letter from the neighbour whom I’d nicknamed ‘Disco Boy’. All was now explained.

Professionally outraged was a nice way to describe the reply letter. Disco boy’s shoddy logic went along the lines of this: “I didn’t like the guy because he was gay”. I hadn’t actually raised the guys sexuality in the letter and wasn’t even aware of it. I actually didn’t like him because he was noisy and selfish. The letter continued and in a fit of inspired sophistry, the guy went on to threaten me by letting me know that he was a first year law student, and I guess as such he could do unfathomable legal things to me.

Upon reading the reply letter, I uttered a series of very ungentlemanly words along the lines of: “What the (insert word that rhymes with the word Truck, but begins with an F) is this?” It didn’t seem like much of an apology to me. And neither did the letter display anything resembling the general state of contrition. And the threat, well, I’ve been threatened before, and the vague threat in the letter seemed a bit light weight to me.

In retrospect, the neighbourly interactions were handled poorly from beginning to end. The 3am disco wake up call should not have occurred. I was in error by resorting to name calling. And our budding law student used embarrassingly poor debating tactics to avoid acknowledging their complicity in the matter.

All up, it was a good lesson on what not to do, and I’ve taken the lesson on board and learned from that. However, I see those sorts of shoddy debating tactics used quite often in the media and by politicians. The tactics bore me because they are so transparent. And mostly those tactics are used to divert the conversation away from matters that otherwise probably need to be discussed.

Last century and not long after the Vietnamese army had departed, Cambodia was opened to tourists. In those early days I visited the country and walked through the Killing Fields in Cambodia. I had no idea what I was doing there that day, but it was part of the tour itinerary, so along I went, albeit with a sense of mild trepidation. It was a calm and sunny day, totally out of kilter with what I was about to see. And the area was quiet and mostly undisturbed. A small bunch of us western tourists uncomfortably stood around looking at the ground. The trenches were clearly seen to the eye, and apparently back in the day people were blindfolded and marched to the edges of the pits. There they were shot, and I guess conveniently fell into the pits. Someone must have covered the bodies over with soil, but even so I noted bits of coloured clothing sticking up out of the ground. And to one side of this gruesome spectacle to man’s ingenuity, was a tall glass sided monument with a vaguely Buddhist temple look, which was full of human skulls.

The thing is, if we misuse our language by using extreme labels to describe what are otherwise mild disagreements, we won’t recognise people with actual extreme viewpoints should we ever encounter one in the flesh.

The author removed all of the excess rocks from the terrace project

Observant readers will note that the rock in the above photo is rather large and heavy. This week we cleared all of the excess rocks off the garden terrace project. And there sure were a lot of rocks.

The rocks were all put to good use in constructing a series of smaller terraces where the old strawberry bed used to be. The old strawberry bed was extraordinarily productive, despite the fact that every bird and animal under the sun dined upon the delectable berries. Nope, the old strawberry bed was abandoned when the leeches and ticks moved in and I was frightened to set foot in there. The new series of small terraces are forming part of a succulent garden where leeches and ticks may fear to tread.

Rocks excavated from the garden terrace project are being used to construct a terraced succulent garden

We’ve run out of large rocks with which to complete the project. But no doubt, something will work out sooner or later. The most recent steel rock gabion cage is now almost, but not quite full. Alas for the dreaded Peak Rocks!

The most recent steel rock gabion cage is almost, but not quite, filled

Over two days we moved by wheelbarrow, 6 cubic metres (7.8 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch up onto the garden terrace project. Into that organic matter we added 50kg (110 pounds) each of coffee grounds and dynamic lifter (chicken manure / seaweed mix). At the end of the first day, it looked like this:

Half the fertilising job was done on the new garden terrace project

In the above photo, each mound represents a full wheelbarrow load of material. The mix of materials can be seen in detail in the next photo:

Composted woody mulch + coffee grounds + fertiliser pellets

After another day’s work, the first stage of fertilising the new garden terraces was completed. And I was seriously physically tired.

Toothy admires the neat job of fertilising the new garden terraces

From the other side of the top of the garden terraces, I reckon it looks pretty neat.

The fertilised garden terraces look quite neat

Some of the garden beds surrounding the garden terrace project also received a good feeding of organic matter (which took almost another cubic metre / 1.3 cubic yards of materials).

The garden beds surrounding the garden terrace project also received a good quantity of fertiliser

On Sunday, I did no work at all, and went with the editor and my mates (of the Big Shed and also House of the Year fame) to the local poultry club auction and we purchased two Light Sussex chickens. It was a cool day and the chickens got to enjoy some time in a ventilated box whilst we enjoyed lunch.

Two Light Sussex chickens were added today

The two new chickens talked a big game, until the largest chicken, a Blue Laced Wyandotte, stomped the daylights out of the uppity new comers.

The new Light Sussex chicken concedes defeat to the tough-as Blue Laced Wyandotte

The next largest and toughest chicken is the large Plymouth Rock, and she wasn’t taking any lip from the new comers either:

Big Plymie, the once Boss Chook takes on the new comer and defeats her

It’s pretty rough and tumble in the land of chicken – and they don’t mince words or use shoddy debating tactics to score a point. They just thump their opponents. And now that the pecking order has been established, all of the chickens seem quite happy with the new arrangements.

Spring produce update:

The promise of blackberries
Strawberries are coming along nicely
Observant readers will notice a developing Cherry

Onto the flowers:

Lavender with a view
The leaves of these Geraniums smell like lemon sorbet
A very thorny wattle
Echium produce dense clusters of flowers
The last remaining Tulip survivor produced two flowers this season
The very first Rhododendron flowers of the season

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 12’C (54’F). So far this year there has been 603.2mm (23.7 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 593.6mm (23.4 inches).

Postscript: Surprise, surprise! In my tired state, a mild cold has taken hold of my system.

63 thoughts on “Bored to death”

  1. Hi DJ,

    As a sign of my overall health this evening (having a mild cold), I must disclose that I accidentally knocked a drink onto my keyboard this evening and then things went quite awry. I Chris promise to have a less work-intensive weekend next week. That is the plan at this stage and the computer Gods have sealed the fate of the now deceased and once delightful mechanical keyboard that allows keys to be pressed at an alarming rate. The backup spare keyboard is not as nice to use. Oh well, mustn’t grumble – and please forgive the occasional spelling error. If there is spellin error, please note that I did press the key, however this spare keyboard is purely a stand in. I’ll chuck the mechanical keyboard out in the sun tomorrow and see what happens.

    The other side of the coin in not completing the basket weaving project is that girlies need girly time to do girly stuff – and it would be remiss of either you or I to expect that things be otherwise. All projects begin at some point, they have a middle bit, and hopefully enjoy a solid conclusion. Score on the gifts!

    Well, you may understand my recent inability to reply to comments in my usual prompt style given the huge workload. The facts in this case speak for themselves, and now I have a mild cold.

    Cherry wood is a beautiful timber too, and I’m glad that the timber you see suggests what projects it can be turned to. Nature is quite handy like that.

    Out of curiosity, do the chokecherries produce a sour taste in the bread? Bread is often leaning towards the sour side of a person’s palate anyway.

    Oh yeah, the old school carpentry looked good to me too what with the dovetail joins. In very early high school they taught us the dovetail joint with woodworking. It is an elegant construction method, but it requires meticulous attention to detail. There is a local house being constructed by a couple of old school builders and I’m really enjoying observing their progress. The house they’re building should turn out pretty well.

    All true and I note that one can also enjoy regrets, whilst blithely ignoring the emotional content. The Silver Wattle table was perhaps more of a lost opportunity than a regret. There is something about regrets which implies a certain sense of ‘hanging on to’ the lost opportunity. I tend to feel that life presents a person with paths to trod, and if one but step upon a particular path, well that means other paths are lost to sight. I dunno, but limits are like that, and you know it is sort of part of our journey to discover our limits and then reach acceptance about that. I see plenty of people on a good wicket who are oblivious to the fact.

    This year has been colder here, but I store away far more firewood than I possibly require and so the variability’s of climate are less of a problem. Heating with gas would be uneconomic here because the bottles have to arrive by way of truck – and they are not cheap.

    Yeah, Scritchy is cut a lot of slack, and it was her that was harassing me when I knocked over the drink onto the keyboard. My school report cards said that I was easily distracted too… But yeah, older dogs really need a bit more care and attention – and they can get rather grumpy when faced with their infirmities. It is possible that Rakhi the Samoyed was pulling the wool over your eyes? Scritchy pretends to be ‘sad old dog face number four’, but then today despite her advanced years she managed to catch several chunks of cake that were thrown in her direction. Hmmm.

    Absolutely, if pays are guaranteed, performance can be rather poor.

    Ah, what is this ‘very technical and detailed project’?

    Cheers (and a little bit snuffly)


  2. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, you warned me (at some non-specific time in the past) that I shouldn’t overdo things, and now here I am now with a mild cold. And this evening, in a moment of distraction I spilled a drink all over the lovely mechanical keyboard that usually allows me to keep up a furious rate of key strokes. Not now though, the mechanical keyboard appears to be in danger of becoming more ill than my easily distracted mind. At the very least the old mechanical keyboard has become possessed and is now typing characters unbidden. It may make more sense than I if left long enough. You never know? Anyway, I’ll chuck the keyboard out into the sun tomorrow and then hope for the best. For the moment I’m using a spare-hard-to touch-type-upon keyboard…

    That part of the country is very remote and yeah, long millennia of indigenous knowledge of the area clearly was not factored into the surprise. I read an article many weeks ago suggesting that the major town in that area (and there aren’t many others) Broome, was suffering from the hordes of tourists. I’m glad that I travelled when I did as the crowds these days would do my head in. I rarely went anywhere that was particularly crowded. And I rarely spent long in any cities, because they’re quite homogeneous – seen one, seen them all. Mate, if you reckon that part of the world is large and unknown, you wouldn’t want to get off the beaten track in the south west corner of the island state of Tasmania. A person could disappear down there.

    You might be onto something with the bow around the mystery machine. A tidy idea. And incidentally another step in that story took place this evening. But mysteries are by their very nature, mysterious. 😉

    I mentioned your theory to the editor and she reckons you are on the money and people were at the chook auction for the spectacle of it all. The sheer mass of people was probably a bit more than I’m usually prepared to absorb myself into, but you know, you do what you gotta do and all that. It was good to see the local poultry club in action, and now I understand how the process works. On the other hand it makes my previous chicken purchases at the agricultural shows look like a very ordered and sedate process, albeit marginally more subject to chookflation. The auction was cheaper, but nothing is as cheap as chooks were a decade ago.

    And speaking of which, when the next phase of the mystery machine took place this evening I discovered something rather fascinating. I sold an item of machinery that I’d owned and had not used for a while, and you know what? I was surprised by the amount that the machine sold for, and then I poked around a bit to ease my concerned mind and discovered that the new machines were not so good quality wise, and had almost doubled in price. Interesting indeed. I’ve long since suspected that inflation is going on, it’s just like a game of whack a mole in that it is popping up in some very unexpected places.

    If the crowds at your poultry auctions were anything like what I saw, I reckon steering clear is a good idea. How are your old chooks going at Julia’s? And have you ever heard any updates as to Beau?

    True about the aesthetics. Get excited. Get really excited. 🙂 The editor pointed out a spot that another shed could be placed. One can never have too many sheds! 😉 Of course, like everything here, it’ll take a bit of work to achieve. Oh well.

    Of course the old saying (far out this spare keyboard is driving me bonkers) that a picture tells a thousand words maybe true. But how does one get inside a characters mind in a film when all the actors have to display are emotions, interactions and dialogue? Zombieland 2 is released at the cinema this Thursday… And yeah, I believe we are discussing the same film and I saw a few trailers for it. I tend to steer clear of realistic gore and violence in films.

    Our population has a complicated relationship to our national fauna, and it is largely based on an inability to consider ourselves to be part of the land. There is also a bit of city versus rural divide in the story, and add in a dash of complete carelessness with vehicle drivers. I’ve met a few of the local wildlife carer folks and by and large they’re really nice people who take the time to care for injured and sick wildlife. Their worst task would be checking the pouches for joeys with road killed marsupials. You can purchase kangaroo meat at the butcher and it often ends up in pet food. It’s very lean. The wallabies are very different kangaroos to the forest grey’s and they’re different again to the big reds. I’m unsure that I’d be comfortable encountering a kangaroo that was twice the size of the 6 to 7 foot+ forest grey kangaroos that live here.

    If the evidence fits for the Younger Dryas cooling period being caused by a meteor strike…. And who knows what else lies under that Greenland ice sheet?

    What? A Roman music festival? Far out. I guess there may be some truth to the tale that Nero lyred (!) whilst Rome burned, if only because the news didn’t travel that fast and he would have struggled responding to the unfolding situation with any speed.

    Very funny about ‘fiddling about’ (language is fun is it not?) Funny you wrote that, but I did fiddle around a bit with language in the most recent blog. 🙂 Time marches on in a garden. Have you managed to preserve much over the past few days? Out of curiosity, how do you store your corn for the winter?



  3. Hello Chris
    I hope that you recover quickly from your cold. Can’t comment on the first part of your blog as I never quarrel and seem to have disarmed anyone who tried to quarrel with me.
    Am just recovering from the visit. 8 to 10 hours of intense conversation every day is exhausting, I think that adrenaline must have kept me going. Still the contact with extreme intelligence + interest and curiosity about absolutely everything was very good for me in my isolated rural fastness.
    It is raining seriously here. It has swelled the land up again and my doors have stopped sticking and the slant in my floor has lessened.
    Son and I had separately noticed some pretty flowers at the roadside, never seen before and at an odd time of year. Research has revealed that they are cyclamens called sowbread because pigs are thought to eat the tubers from which they grow. It appears that they are Mediterranean and go dormant during the dry hot summers. So our excellent summer must have been of Mediterranean quality.
    Your place is looking amazing, time to have a rest!


  4. Hello Chris and everyone (glad to see all are well).

    Very amusing this week!

    But you had it easy: when I had just broken up with a long-term girlfriend, and was living in a tiny studio flat near the British Museum, doing a job I loathed, I was regularly woken up by the neighbouring gay couple.

    First, when they played loud music before going out to party; then when they returned in the early hours, they made a lot of noise, had extremely noisy carnal knowledge of one another, and often indulged in a bit of flagellation.

    Yes, I had to listen to the crack of the whip!

    To add to the indignity, I slept under the bookshelf, and sometimes the books would wobble off, due to the disturbance, and fall on my sleepy head……

    Sometimes it can be so bad that it’s comical.

    As for neighbours burning bridges, the bad ones I have in this village don’t realise that it suits me just fine.

    My motto is ‘If you don’t like me, I like you even less!’

    All the best


  5. Yo, Chris – Wonder, if not quit the adverb I use, when I discovered deer damage. Murderous rage, is more like it. But, I came up with a good zinger, to amuse The Ladies. I was complaining about the deer, and ended up with, “…and they didn’t even have the good grace to leave a bit of fertilizer, behind!”

    Your story of Disco Boy rang a couple of bells. I was out the other night at 2:30 am, scattering blood meal about (see deer damage, above) and someone in the neighborhood was wailing away on a drum kit. I kept expecting a patrol car, to show up. But, I guess no one complained.

    Disco Boy was playing the victim card. And, throwing about a lot of weasel words. I don’t think it’s a good look, but it plays well in some quarters. More so now, than in the past. Years ago, I told a co-worker who opined that I didn’t like her very much, because of blah, blah, blah, that I didn’t like her, not because she was mixed race, a “woman of size” or a lesbian. I told her I didn’t like her because she was a miserable human being.” Not something I could get away with, these days. Especially since I’m that creature, The Old White Male. I’ve got a few victim cards I could play, myself, but it’s not how I roll.

    I think it relates, that I’ve been reading “The Coddling of the American Mind.” That DJ recommended. But not a close reading. Once I figured out what it was about. It’s one of those books where they develop three “truths” (which ARE true) and the remedy for the whole mess is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Which is quit useful, and something I’ve looked into. And, the world would be a better place, if everyone (or, even a few people) took it up. Is it going to happen? Will there be a Great Awakening? Well, no. People throw really good ideas out there, and, I think, expect some sort of Great Awakening. What do they get? Crickets. So, I feel a bit sorry for the blokes, if they expected anything else. It’s kind of like I think that if more people took up some of the 12 Steps (addicted, or not), of any variety, the world would be a better place. Is it going to happen? Well, no.

    When I saw picture number one, I thought you had discovered a large deposit of chocolate, on your place. Sadly, no. :-). I’m sure you’ll figure out something else to excavate, and rocks will appear.

    Fertilizer pellets? What’s that all about? I’ve finally commited to getting some fertilizer pellets, of my own, today. But they come from the back end of an Alpaca.

    You Wyandotte is quit pretty. I was trying to think the other day, what kind of chickens I had, at the end. Wyandottes, but red ones. Lovely birds.

    Looks like your going to have a bumper crop of berries. And, the flowers, as always, are lovely. Cont.

  6. Cont. Well, today is a holiday, which screws up the rhythm of things. I was surprised to see a new post, from you, this morning, as it feels like Sunday. It’s Columbus Day. Also known, these days, as Indigenous People’s Day. No comment.

    That’s tragic, about your keyboard. Maybe there’s some tips on the Net, about giving artificial respiration, to a drowned key board? I ran a small cell phone, through the laundry, once. Pulling it apart and letting everything dry out, worked.

    Hoards of people, everywhere. You know, I think the population of the world has just about doubled. In my lifetime. That’s a thought stopper.

    Well, the mystery machine will probably be worth a three part blog post. Keep notes. I’m beginning to think it will be very pretty and Victorian. Maybe a grain mill, where you turn the crank and canvas flaps blow the chaff out.

    My chooks went to someone I worked with, at the library. She’s retired, now, so I don’t know how they fared. I really think that it’s best not to inquire to closely, as to what happens to animals, even when they go to good homes. I sometimes think I’m not getting the full story on Nell (who went to Julia). I think there may be more to the story than, “She ran away.” But, I’m not going to inquire too closely.

    I think I mentioned that my old landlord Don, died in February. And, I hadn’t heard from any of that lot, since I moved. So, I have no idea what happened to Beau. But it was probably, not good. I doubt he ever had another aspirin, again. I’d guess, the Evil Stepson moved into my place, before the dust had settled, the last time I went down the drive. He didn’t like dogs. Unless one of his weird children took a fancy to Beau …

    Well, as far as gore in films, I must say that’s the advantage of DVDs. Sometimes, the fast forward on my remote, gets quit a work out. 🙂

    My corn storage methods are quit complex, highly scientific and technical. I store the cobs in a paper sack, under the counter, and grind as needed. I had forgotten that the Jimmy Red, when shucked, is a cream color. It turns red as it dries. I can see it, now. Laid out on the floor, on a plastic bag. I notice that the ones that are solid red, are the largest. Not as many party colored cobs, this year. They tend to be smaller. I only planted red kernels, this year. But some were from the original seed stock. Next year, it will be all red one’s from what I grew this year, and a few from the all red from last year. Lew

  7. Hi Chris,

    A work induced cold should not be taken lightly. Of course, you can just take a sick day or two and recover 🙂 You probably already know, but don’t be afraid to give that keyboard a good clean in warm, soapy water followed by a rinse. In the past I have returned many from the grave in this manner. On that note, I have long coveted a good quality mechanical keyboard. I used to own an ancient IBM one (which was so old it predated PS/2 connectors) and it was the bomb. My laptop keyboard is OK I guess, but yeah, the struggle is real.

    My first thought on this weeks title, was it was a play on “Amused to death” by Pink Floyd. Not sure on the connection, that is just what my brain decided upon. Your story with Disco boy sounds about right – what do they say, play the ball not the man? Well, these days it is much easier to just scream and carry on, then make a snide character assassination. QED.

    RE: Bungle Bungles
    I think you made the right call not taking the small car into the park. Years ago, a few friends and I rented a Toyota Troopcarrier for the express purpose of visiting that area. It was a great few days – but even in that beast of a car (which I swear has not changed in design for at least 30 years) the journey into the park took over 2 hours for a 30km track.


  8. Chris,

    Good luck with your cold. I learned some time back, basically because the Princess threatened to do something unspeakable to me, to watch how much hard work I do. I had plans today ( a normal day away from the office), to get a lot of outdoor things done. My body said, “DJ, you’ve been pushing for months. Yesterday felt so good taking it easy. You’re taking another day very slow.” I listened. I know if I push through too strenuously when my body tells me to slow down, I’ll end up with a cold or worse. But sometimes there is no option and the work must be done, too.

    But drowning your keyboard to add to the fray? That is harsh!

    I know not what happens at these basketry events. I just let the girls do the girly girl things and I know I always get neat gifts and her friends always ask if I have any brothers because I treat the Princess well.

    The chokecherries are tart by themselves. They really don’t add much sour to bread or stews, thankfully. Just a different feel and some nutrients and fiber.

    Pam mentioned the enhanced driver’s license for identity purposes. We are in the same boat here, although our passports will work just fine. But as these need to be renewed next year…well, we’ll have to do something.

    I think you nailed it. Most “regrets” I ‘ve got are curiosity about what would’ve happened had the other choice been made. It serves no useful purpose to muse on these things, but human nature being what it is, and I am human, so I do find myself going down that path on occasion.

    Oh, yes, in retrospect it is obvious that Rakhi the Samoyed did some pulling of wool over my eyes, but by that age, she deserved the pampering anyhow, so it really didn’t matter. I still maintain that she acted more like a mature human than most human adults I know.

    The project…I first ran into it here: It is the “Winnie the Pooh meets the Bayeaux Tapestry” partway down the page. Here’s another look:
    It is a wood burning project. There is a LOT of detail work. The only colors I add will be the Pooh characters, so in addition to detail (like using a fine tip to create the mail and scale armor), there will be different shades of shading in lieu of some of the colors. This also means that parts of it will be worked over 3 or 4 times until the proper shade (tan, brown, black or other) of shading and lines have been done. Then add the colors with some oil pencils. Maybe I can have it done for some shows in March. Maybe.

    I’ve run into the bad neighbors. Before we bought this house, the neighbors in the next apartment unit often acted much as Lew’s neighbors had acted. When their amorous adventures got too noisy, I’d pound on the wall that separated the units. Ditto if the music got too loud too late in the day. They always got quieter and never said a word: I could’ve complained to the manager and they would’ve been evicted.

    I’ve also reacted in other situations much the same way you did. Always I ended up being portrayed as the villain. Every. Single. Time. I now do things differently, mostly remaining calmer, and things work a bit better. I’m viewed more as being eccentric than a villain, which is fine with me.

    The terraces look good, really good. Between moving all that material onto the terraces, there was also moving the rocks away and placing them? That’s serious work! I’d have worse than a cold had I done all that in a few days!

    Ya know, the chicken pecking order thing has always fascinated me. Dogs have something similar, as you’ve observed and mentioned. Some of the worst experiences I’ve had at office jobs is when people decide that they need to pursue pecking orders rather than just doing what needs to be done. I have no patience for that type of thing and still get tagged as the villain whenever someone attempts to play the pecking order game with me. Life is too short to put up with that, at least for me.


  9. Hi Inge,

    Thanks and I’m feeling a lot better today, and no doubt will feel better again tomorrow. Your skills exceed my own in that area – the facts speak for themselves in this case. Was it always thus for you?

    Getting lost in the forest is an easy thing to do, and it can happen far quicker than people would imagine. Your visitor sounds to me as if they both entertained and challenged you. I hope you gave as good as you got – as I’m sure you would. Such in depth conversation would tire me out too, but at the same time, that does not mean that it would not be enjoyable. Just maybe a bit of recovery time is required in the aftermath.

    Cyclamen are amazing plants are they not? And they thrive on both neglect and shade. And yes, your account of the climate that you’ve experienced over the past hot and dry summer contrasted with ample autumn and winter rains, describes here pretty well – and cyclamen do grow in this area quite well.

    Thank you and I intend to take this week far easier than the preceding weeks. I planted out over 25 gooseberry cuttings on the very highest terrace yesterday. Gooseberries are delightful fruit.



  10. Hi Xabier,

    Hope you are enjoying autumn?

    Hmm, yes, leather and all that gear. It sounds as though you were describing one of your naughtier politicians? Over the years you sure have had a remarkably, dare I say it, interesting bunch working in Westminster! 🙂

    But ouch and mate, I hear you and sympathise. Many long years ago, I lived in a flat and the couple living in the flat below me used to get their funky gear on, and they sure sounded as if they were having a lovely time of it. However, like you I was single at the time, and such auditory bragging activities was not much appreciated, if only because it disturbed my sleep. Anyway, the flats had no lift (otherwise it would be an apartment) and so from time to time I’d encounter the lady of the extraordinarily audible couple, who I must add had the most delightful red hair. I used to feel a sense of envy at their nocturnal activities. And then one day I noticed that an eviction notice had been plastered to their front door (which I had to pass down the stairs in order to leave the building). Turns out they may have been too busy making noise which kept me awake of a night, to forget to recall to pay the bills. Such is life. 😉

    The falling books onto your head may explain a thing or two! Hehe!

    Mate, I absolutely hear you, and whilst not going out of my way to cause offence, there are those that reside up this way that feel that any change – regardless of the outcome – is a bad thing. I’ve discovered that in the country you can seriously annoy folks you don’t even know, just because they feel entitled to whatever was there before you arrived – just because. It sure is complicated and you have both my respect and my sympathy.



  11. Hi Damo,

    I took a sick day on Monday and feel better for having done so. Fortunately I was working remotely today. And I’m pretty certain I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling heaps good. It was a cold and not the flu and there is a huge gap between the two experiences. Oh yeah, I can well understand how the flu virus killed people.

    Damo, I strongly urge you not to covet a mechanical keyboard, but instead, indulge yourself. Sorry I feel as if I have become the little Devil on your shoulder, but mate they’re so good. And how can a person pump out a 1,000+ words an hour without such assistance. Your advice was wise and I immediately searched Gogly to see what was recommended – and you called it. Flush the Quince wine out with warm water and then leave out in the sun today. Windows even popped up last night with an error message that I’d never seen before suggesting the USB device had malfunctioned. Cleaning seems to have worked a treat and the keyboard is in use this evening!

    I tend to feel that older keyboards were constructed better too. So yeah, the struggle is real. Stay strong brother Damo. And hashtag just sayin the Logitech G413 carbon is undoubtedly a better keyboard than your laptop. Who knows what this means, but yeah…. 🙂

    Exactly, play the man and not ball. So true. You were a decade or two off and perhaps that explains the music side of the story. I was only a year or three back and thinking about: blink-182 – Bored To Death. Their sentiment was very wise and I heard the song on Triple J a few days ago.

    What a nightmare of a drive, and a lot of that part of the continent is like that. And if a Troopie proved a problem, then… We were there in the late 90’s, and I don’t know but the track would have been was far worse. Not sure what it is like now and I doubt I’ll ever make it up there again.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    It’s a good word (wonder), but perhaps not so appropriate in all circumstances! And mate, I hear you because deer can be a pain here too, and for some reason the stags prefer apple trees over all other fruit trees. And as they rub the antlers against the bark, the bark rubs off the tree. Ollie has his job cut out for him if ever he encounters a herd of deer. What sort of damage did the deer cause in your garden?

    Your fertiliser joke was very good. A very long time ago I had to go and file a police report because someone had thiefed off with the CD player in my car. At the time I was naive enough to believe that I could make a claim under the insurance – but no that was wishful thinking as I soon discovered. Anyway, I was in the police station and thought I’d be amusing by adding in (using a very sorrowful voice) that the thief had also pinched my Bob Marley CD. In my young and naive state I’d never considered that matters could rapidly escalate from there! Oh well, wiser and cooler heads and all that business wouldn’t have made the comment in the first place. But occasionally things can go awry with good intentions.

    Drummers make for poor neighbours, that’s for sure. I was in a cafe the other day and I swear there was a small child who had croup. The deep coughing must have been distressing not just for the kid, but for everyone around them too.

    Thanks and yeah exactly. The situation was notable because it was the first time I’d experienced such a useless debating tactic. And at the time I had wondered where such thinking and techniques had entered into their brains? And the lack of any sort of contrition was quite brazen. However, the basic and core flaw in their technique is that it assumes that other people are stupid – and that is always an unwise call. Very foolish indeed. But yeah, you would definitely not get away with such a point of view as you expressed nowadays. Playing the victim card is a very widely utilised strategy, and as such it becomes in danger of being over used and turning into an irrelevant tool. Some people actually are victims and those are probably the voices that should use such tools, but you know a long time ago I knew a very wealthy bloke that thought that he was hard done by. That was really weird.

    Coping strategies are always handy. Many years ago I read a fascinating book by the author Neil Strauss and it described his experiences and rise to prominence in the ‘pick up artist’ community. Most of what they learned and practiced were coping and defeating strategies. Some people may be horrified by such a book, but I learned that people use those sorts of strategies in other situations unrelated to that particular communities activities. It was quite an eye opener that book, as it waded into the darker corners of society and peoples interactions and I realised that people lurked in such places.

    Anyway, I’m with you, it ain’t gonna happen. For some time I’ve been tending to believe that people try and game one another for advantage, only because there are too many levels of hierarchy currently in society. Traditionally such folks were known and shamed as you would call them by their proper name: Grifters.

    Oh no! Imagine a block of chocolate as large as the rock in the wheelbarrow? Yum. Life is short and chocolate is good. Alas, Peak Rocks is now here and it’s for real. But I did appreciate your suggestion about digging deeper for more rocks. 😉

    Yeah, I know what the bag said about the pellets, but your point still stands – what is this stuff? I really needed to turbo charge the breaking down of the composted woody mulch process because summer is almost upon me. The terraces will still be coated with rows of compost / manure where the plants will grow. One of the problems with composted woody mulch is that it strips nitrogen from the surrounding soils as it breaks down, and so yeah a helping hand was required.

    Nice work, and you on the other hand are applying fertiliser at the correct time of the year. Autumn is the time for poo! Are these pellets from Julia’s alpacas that have written of before?

    Wyandotte’s are lovely natured chickens too. She is the biggest bird in the flock and she trucked no nonsense from the newcomers.

    Thank you. And on the very highest terrace, next to where the outer fence will be installed, we planted out about 25 gooseberry cuttings. The fruit from this plant is very tasty, and they require very little in the way additional watering. Although it is a bit late in the season to be planting cuttings, but you know, you’ve gotta be in it to win it and all that business!



  13. Hi DJ,

    Your lady speaks wise words, and with such magic keeps you on the straight and narrow. The editor in this instance was in the big smoke, and I just went hard. And you also prove that you are wiser than I! Pushing through is something that I learned many years ago with distance running. Like all tools, things can be taken too far and abused and a case can be made that I erred in this occasion.

    After a day in the sunshine, I can report that the keyboard appears to be mostly functioning well. I almost knocked the coffee machine over too. That sin might not have been so easily forgiven by the editor!

    Mate, you are not going to ever get a better assessment than that. Well done you!

    Nutrients and minerals come in all forms, and I too consume a wide variety of edible plants from the garden.

    Exactly, no useful purpose is served by dwelling upon the lostness of a regret. Now that you mention it, it is funny thing to be writing about the past, because I don’t dwell in the past. I try to live for today and with an eye upon future possibilities. Others may feel differently and that’s cool. I have encountered people who live exclusively in the past, and I’m not sure that I can understand their point of view.

    Well there you go, I’d never encountered any reference to the Bayeux tapestry before. My history education has been sadly lacking, but you lovely people are making up for the lack. Pooh did a great job of ripping it blindly! You’ve begun an epic project. Good luck and I look forward to hearing how the project progresses. Getting the colours just right will be tough.

    Pounding on the wall was a good idea to quell the amorous adventures and/or musical adventures. I note that (as you are probably well aware) not everyone enjoys the same tastes when it comes to music!

    That’s the beauty of being young, you mess interactions up, and you don’t realise that even with the very best of intentions and motives, the situation can soon sour without warning. Yeah, I go for the eccentric thing to. It would be nice to have the funds to be truly eccentric wouldn’t it?

    Thanks and yeah, two crazy work weeks in a row has laid me low. Fortunately, I’ll bounce back soon.

    Not good at all, and yup if resources allow, and sometimes even when they don’t, people engage in monkey business. You know, that’s one of the reasons I prefer small business to my large corporate days – they usually can’t afford such acts.



  14. Hi, Chris!

    I am glad that you are already feeling better.

    I guess we’ve all had bad neighbors, but you have had more than your fair share of stinkers. Maybe such things are a lesson in choosing one’s battles, though I think what you went through qualifies as a battle situation. Strategy has to be carefully thought out, though, as you well discovered; with some people nothing works. I have noticed that people who don’t normally yell and scream and use foul language get much better results when they finally do so because of the shock factor. Of course, this only works with people that one knows pretty well.

    You have been using my strategy: When in a crowd I get behind a large fellow and let him clear the way.

    You got so many nice, squarish rocks from that project. I love squared-off rocks. That’s an awful lot of wheelbarrow loads of mulch; please say that none of that was uphill. The finished spreading of it looks good enough to eat – you know who you are . . . Spring is there and Toothy contemplate his domain.

    What is funnier than chicken behavior? Maybe dogs, but your chickens are funny and the two new ones are beautiful.

    Those are neat geraniums. I didn’t have any unusual ones this year, but the regular types did very well in the garden. I have to put them in pots now to bring them in for winter.

    Does the wattle have any scent?

    That is one special tulip.

    “If there is spellin error” Hee, hee!

    Have I mentioned that our one decent apple tree has been blooming for 3 weeks? That doesn’t bode well for next year.

    The little condemned house behind us is now a pile of rubble. A fellow with a bulldozer has been working back there for several days. Now all that needs to be done is to put all that debris in a dumpster and haul it away. It is strange seeing an open spot in the woods where it was.


  15. Hi Chris,
    Very sorry you’ve got a cold but not surprising with how you’ve been pushing yourself. The place is looking very “springy” quite the opposite of here.

    I have to say we’ve been quite lucky in the neighbor department over the years. When we first moved into our old house over 30 years ago though there was a family kind of across the street which was very dysfunctional mostly due to the father who was a substance abuser and an angry guy to boot. Felt sorry for the two kids which were close in age to my youngest. They amazingly turned out OK. It all culminated one night in fall. I was driving home that evening and our usually very quiet dead end road was full of police cars and Doug had the house all locked up which he never does. I don’t know what the guy did that time but he was trying to get away from the police through a corn field and as he owned firearms and obviously was unstable it was a pretty tense situation but he was caught. The house was put up for sale and as it was in a poor state of repair was priced quite low. A very nice couple moved in and redid the place and turned out to be very nice and helpful neighbors. The guy had gotten out of jail though and when they came for the final walk through before closing he was sitting on the front stoop with a gun. Thank fully he was taken away and never seen again. The couple told us that there was a dog with puppies in the basement and they couldn’t even sleep in the place for a week until the worst of the filth was cleaned out.

    I wouldn’t like living in the city as I’m used to the mostly quiet country now but one never knows what the future will bring.

    How do you like the whole pronoun thing going on. I can’t keep up with it. I have a niece who though married is now identifying as non binary and trans and her husband is wearing a dress. Her sister is now a lesbian and her son who is only 10 is also non binary and we are to only refer to him as either they or them (sigh). Well they do live in Portland.

    I’m sure you’ll find more rocks.

    On another note, youngest daughter is officially engaged and I along with the rest of the family are relieved that she has abandoned the idea of a destination wedding.

    Well there’s much to do before we leave in a week. This coming week is ending up to be quite full.


  16. Yo, Chris – What don’t the deer damage? :-). They nipped off the tops of my green peppers, and had a go at the parsley. Potatoes. I’m pretty well fenced off, but there are still a couple of areas that they can get to. They mowed off the tops of the Garden Goddess’s tomatoes. They’d LOVE to get at my peas, but I’ve been covering them, at night. Alpaca poo is supposed to repel deer. But I’m not going to chance my little four foot run of peas to that experiment.

    It was a beautiful day for a drive in the country. I got about 12 gallons, plus, of alpaca poo. I’m worried about Julia. She’s had go arounds with bladder cancer, over the last 20 years. Well, it’s back, again. So, it will be another round of chemo. She’s quit elderly, a tiny, scrawny woman. But still pretty tough. Heck, she collected and hauled as much poo as I did. I got about half of it spread, and am holding the rest in reserve for when I clear different parts of the garden. Nice today, but our weather is supposed to turn, this afternoon. At least a week of rain and wind.

    The kid probably had pneumonic plague. I do wish people would stay home, when they’re sick. And, keep their sick kids, home. Last year, I was in one of the cheap food stores, and someone was hacking out a lung. That aisle emptied out as people scattered. The other night, I confused Eleanor, as I steered us out another way. We usually cut through the community room. Again, someone was hacking a lung out, in there.

    It always seems like people playing the victim card, catch you flat footed. All part of the strategic moves, I’m sure. In hindsight (always sooo clear), it would have been fun to say, “It’s not gay noise, it’s not straight noise. It’s just noise.”

    Oh, I remember Strauss’s book. We didn’t carry it, but would get occasional special orders for it, when I worked in bookstores. At least the poor blighters were out there, trying. Now, they just sit in front of their computers, and stew.

    As far as the gooseberries go, well, you know my gardening philosophy. Might as well give it a whirl.

    I did a rice, peas and tuna toss, the other night. Cut up some green tomatoes and tossed those in. Another use for green tomatoes. It was quit nice. Gave the whole potage a bit of a zing.

    I was reading Ruth Goodman’s “How to Be A Tudor”, last night. “Enormous genetic changes have occurred in varieties of bread wheat over the past 400 years, affecting the look, the yield and the nutritional make-up of the plants.” And, she was off to the races.

    I turns out that deep within the thatch of cottages, there are samples of wheat and other grains, from Tudor times. They can tell what was being grown, where, and in what mixtures. Often, a field would be planted in as many as four kinds of wheat. If one part of the crop didn’t grow well, the others might pick up the slack. Wheat seed was often sold “mixed.” Then she launched into a good section on how it was milled, how bread was made and baked, and how the Tudor’s build their ovens. Then, how to use them. Once you got an oven up to temperature, if you stepped lively, you could do three rounds of different kinds of baking. First bread, then pies, and finish off with custards and cakes. It was pretty interesting.

    I see the fires in southern California were probably started by a power line. Lew

  17. Hello again
    In so far as dealing with difficult/annoying people, I think that I have always been the same. Certainly from adolescence, so there was nothing to learn as it has been automatic.
    I should have said:. My visitor was the elder of the two boys that I took on, so I have been his mother (he says) since he was 13. He lives in the US and is a computer man. We deal well together. Typical sod’s law, my television reception packed up a few hours after he left. I was quite incapable of understanding what the problem was. A neighbour arrived this morning to try and sort it for me. He brought his giant of a son (6ft 6ins tall) who is more expert. Success!
    13 of Son’s young pigs went to auction on the mainland today


  18. Chris,

    I learned long ago to listen to the Princess. She can see what’s going on with me before I even have a glimmer that something is happening. And ignoring her words of wisdom has always led to bad things.

    Drowning a keyboard is okay. Breaking the coffee machine is very, very, very bad. I’m glad you avoided that badness.

    I used to live too much in the past and relive it endlessly. It’s not a good place to be at all. Getting into the present has taken a lot of work, but is much healthier, especially when combined with a (hopefully) reasonable amount of planning for the future.

    I’m glad your readers can help with your education of history. 😉 Fortunately, I don’t have to get the colors perfect on that project. Close will be good enough. I’ve got 100 different colors to pick from. I’ve experimented with mixing them, and that works well, so I should be able to get close enough.

    There was one occasion in which the apartment neighbors had the stereo so loud that the building was vibrating. I pounded hard on their apartment door and could hear whatever was hanging on it inside fall to the floor. The music was instantly turned down. They were kids, maybe 19 or 20, and needed a bit of “guidance” to tone things down. They figured it out after the Door Pounding Incident.

    You’re onto something. Having been in the big corporate world and then in the smaller business side, you’ve experienced it: the large corporations and government agencies can suck the life right out of their employees. The smaller businesses have no time for shenanigans and my limited experience was that they wouldn’t put up with it either.


  19. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for your concern and I do feel better today. Monday was not good…

    You make a good point, and it may have been because I lived in some challenging places over the years so as to gain a financial advantage by fixing them up. One story comes to mind of a neighbour who owned the driveway leading to the garage (but not the garage) of the house I rented. It was bonkers. And apparently, the neighbour had issues with anyone using the driveway – and we were only renting, but he monitored the use of the driveway like a bored rooster with nothing better to do. Anyway, he who laughs last, laughs best and all that stuff because a year or two later I chanced past the place and noted that the tennants had parked an old bus in the driveway and in the back window was a pirate flag. Nice one! The usually mild manner editor used some rather un-lady like language with the guy one day… So, oh yeah!

    Parting the waves needs some grunt!

    Squared off rocks are rare and useful things some of those we created by drilling and cutting some of those rocks. Unfortunately, the path leads onto the lower terrace, and the many wheelbarrows were rolled up-hill from there. Ouch. Lot’s of deep breathing exercises. 🙂 Toothy approves of the work, and he enjoys flat ground.

    The new chooks are lovely aren’t they? The old chooks aren’t making them feel very welcome, but it takes only a few days before the hen collective gets bored and discovers other worries.

    A wise move bringing them inside what with your winters. The King Parrots have taken a liking to some of the more colourful geraniums. It never occurred to me that the birds would consume geraniums.

    The local wattles have a minor scent, but you have to get close to the flowers. I can’t figure why that particular tulip bulb survived, when all else did not. Do you grow any bulbs?


    Oh, that’s not good, but you never know, the apple might be just fine. Apples are biennial anyway, so they always enjoy an off year. Did the tree produce much fruit this year?

    It’s a bit of a shame about the house being demolished. And I assume there has been no offer for the materials that could have been salvaged?

    It’s raining here!



  20. Hi Margaret,

    So true and yeah, I brought this illness down on myself. Monday was not so good, so it is nice feeling better today, but a bit snuffly. Being in small business though, I had to work both yesterday and today. No rest for the wicked (or perhaps foolish in this case). 🙂

    It’s raining here right now. Hopefully I can continue providing delightful spring and summer images whilst it snows and freezes in your part of the world. I enjoyed the descriptions of produce from up your way when it was winter here.

    Substance abuse is one thing, but combined with anger issues is a wild, unpredictable and toxic ride. By and large I feel that society is not too concerned with substance abuse issues, as long as the people do not externalise their anger. Good to read that the kids turned out OK, sometimes people can learn how to be OK by experiencing behaviour that is not OK. That’s not good with the guy sitting on the porch with a gun, not good at all. You were all lucky that things had not escalated further.

    Me too, but I can’t argue with your logic because it is hard to know what the future may bring.

    There is a certain sense of unreality to the story. Dunno, all other considerations to the side, there are biological limits that cannot be broken with the mind, no matter how strong the feelings may be. However, on the other hand, I’m not the sort to be interested in what goes on in other peoples bedrooms, and the gender confused people are at least providing some entertaining theatre. It’s not really much of a thing down here, although the issues do pop up from time to time. The whole story is really beyond my understanding. If confronted, I’d probably play Country Bumpkin Number Three as that seems to be an effective response.

    Peak Rocks is a real hassle… 🙂 But it is real.

    Congratulations, and I fear possibly losing a friend over destination weddings – not that anyone has asked, it’s just my mind is already made up. Not a fan, and would not ask someone to do that myself, but sometimes people can get swept up in the moment.

    Far out, we’re covering some serious ground here…

    Hope you are looking forward to the holiday. 🙂



  21. Hi Lewis,

    The deer are pretty naughty to have nibbled chunks of the garden here and there. Finding a balance with wildlife is a real difficulty, and sometimes they go all smash and grab and take things to extremes. Oh yeah, the peas are in danger, that’s for sure. The deer probably know more about the garden business there than all of your good selves combined. I mean I would have thought that owning a huge Ollie dog would scare off the deer, but they know his patterns – and are prepared to take the gamble that he is restrained somehow at certain times of the day.

    It’s interesting you mention all that, but a couple of German scientists have lifted the lid off the insect-apocalypse, by providing hard data displaying the decline. The thing is, once you invite wildlife in, yields will drop, because they want their share of the produce. But then the wildlife provides services and benefits, and from a plants point of view, pruning by the wildlife may be less hazardous for their health than being entirely harvested by us humans. Dunno, but we’re hitting the upper limits of what agriculture can achieve. That’s not to dismiss industrial or organic agriculture because as a system it does a great job of feeding us today. There are diminishing returns though.

    That’s not so good about Julia, but on the other hand, she has lived with the on again and off again medical issues for a couple of decades, which is pretty good really and far better than some. I tend to feel that it is hard living in rural areas because you kind of want to finish up your stint there. Life however, can be very uncertain and it doesn’t always play the way you want it.

    Did the rain and wind begin? It’s been raining here this afternoon. Quite heavy at times.

    Mate, I hear you. I came across the ill bug because I was working closely with someone who was sick about two weeks ago. I saw them today and at least there was sympathy for my plight. But I lost Monday, and the work had to still be done.

    Ouch. Pneumonia used to be a serious killer – and frankly it had a rather unusual reputation as the oldies friend. I’ve known of quite elderly folks who were brought back from pneumonia and they’re not good afterwards. Good intentions can go bad.

    It caught me flat footed because it never occurred to me that anyone would actually pull that card and pretend to be serious about it. Who does that? Bonkers. Haha! Yeah, never thought about doing your particular response. I was frankly a bit lost for a response because that actually was the first time I saw the technique in action. The problem with believing that you’re a victim is that you end up acting like a victim. Not good.

    Margaret raised some fascinating points for discussion in relation to this, and I have no idea what to make of them.

    Actually things must be different down here because I read about the Strauss book in a lengthy article (probably an advertisement article) in the weekend newspaper. There didn’t seem to be any shame or embarrassment surrounding the book. The author has been on promotional tours down this way maybe a year or two back. I noted that on radio at least he sounds to me like a fast talker.

    I’m not really sure, but I feel that the people once involved in that community may have been drawn in by the chans. There are times that when I hear about that lot (and I have no beef with them) that it smells the same to me. What do you reckon about that guess?

    Hehe! Give-em-a-go is the way of it! I do hope the gooseberries take well. I removed most of the leaves, and the rain over the next few days might be OK for them.


  22. @ Inge – “Sod’s Law.” Sounds like a good name for a TV series. Wonder if the Beeb, would be interested? Of course, we have to come up with a plot. 🙂 Lew

  23. Yo, Chris – I don’t mind sharing, with the local wildlife, but we garden in such small quantities, that even a bit of sampling pretty much wipes out a crop. LOL, and I can’t help but think they’ve got a whole forest to mow down. Why pick on our crops? Well, because, to them, the stuff we grow tastes like candy. Besides the alpaca poo and blood meal, I ought to sprinkle around a bit of self produced nitrogen.

    I read some abstracts of the German scientists work on the insect apocalypse. There’s been a couple of articles about the decline of North American birds. If I run across it again, I’ll link to it. I’ve noticed a decline in insects, birds and squirrels. I have a mystery bug, in the garden. Some kind of beetle with a red orange narrow strip around it’s back end. I went through an enormous list of Washington insects (with pictures), and talked to the Master Gardeners, about them. None of their suggestions matched. No, it’s not a Western Firefly. Or, a Box Elder beetle. I’ll have to catch one, for show and tell.

    Well, the weather has changed. Rain, and a bit of wind, but not too much. Prof. Mass has a blog post about it. Looks like we’re in for at least a week of one storm front, after another. Out of curiosity, I looked into jet streams. Looks like you’ve got one similar, down around the antarctic.

    Here, it seems like they give anyone over sixty, that moves, a pneumonia shot. Usually paired with the flu shot. But not every year. From what I’ve read about checking out from pneumonia, not a bad way, to go.

    I’ve known Trans-gendered people, back to my early 20’s. I just take them as they “present.” Seems a lot less confusing, for everyone. At least, for me. But all the non-binary folk are neither fish nor fowl. I wonder how much of “shock your mama” and “top this!” is going on?

    Well, the internet being anonymous, people throw out their worst traits. Private thoughts that wouldn’t be expressed in one on one, polite company. See: “shock your mama” and “top this”, above. Also, egging each other on. I read an interesting take on things, the other day. That all these (mostly) men, expressing their deepest thoughts, is rather like the gay coming out, process. All those dark impulses that had been stuffed deep in the closet, have now been trotted out. And, there’s a lot of victim cards being played, now from the right, as well as the left. Interesting times.

    I read more of Ruth Goodman, last night. We bang on about how, say gardening, takes awhile to get up to speed with skills. No matter if it was plowing, baking bread, or painting pictures, or deciding if your draft animals were going to be horses or oxen, the Tudor’s had this vast array of choices. That really depended on circumstances, to get things right. Get them wrong, and you might starve, or have to go without something crucial. It’s a wonder they weren’t paralyzed with indecision. Lew

  24. Hi Chris
    If I did the type of of farm work that you and the Editor engage in. My mystery machine would be a gasoline or diesel powered earth compaction machine that is called
    A ” plate compactor” which is moved about the work area by lifting or depressing the tiller handle in the desired direction while the throttle controls the vibration rate.

    Of course a modern diesel back hoe excavator priced in the 5 figure range would really be fun . But plate compactors are really awesome for paths and terrace work. And work well with gravels and stuff. I have never operated one except for brief demo ; but have seen lots of them at work by skilled laborers in construction.

  25. Hi Chris,

    Glad to hear your keyboard is on the mend! And, bad Chris for indulging and encouraging my whims! A Logitech G413 looks the bomb, and lights up red as well. What is not to like? Luckily for me, my desk is not large enough to take a laptop and keyboard – so I am safe for now. But, that won’t always be the case, and what happens, if for some reason I no longer have the work computer and need to acquire my own IT equipment? Such mysteries are best left uncertain.

    I did 4 hours of driving* yesterday, and decided that today would be a work from home day. It didn’t help that sleep has being poor the past few weeks. I blame the seasons, October and November are always lousy sleep for me. The fact that Mrs Damo made some chocolate brownie last night may have also being a factor in staying at home, just saying.


    *I had high hopes of a bakery along the way, but alas it was barely better than a greasy truck stop in terms of quality. I am not sure if Kiwis will take my criticism constructively, so will just avoid the outlet in future 🙂

  26. Hi Lewis (the double secret cont reply),

    Yeah, well, so after replying yesterday, I shut my eyes for a bit and yeah, the editor soon wheeled me off to bed, and the next thing I know is that morning had arrived and the evening had disappeared. In my hazy early morning state I checked to see if the previous evening was to be found behind the couch, but no, although I did find a bit of dust there. I was actually woken up with quite a start, when a bird slammed into the front door in the early dawn hours. Not sure why the (I’m guessing parrot) did that, because the door and front wall of the house is pretty solid. Ollie wanted to check out whether the bird was dead or not, and so he finished the job of waking me up. I’m feeling better today. Did a bit of work and had an afternoon nap. Nothing too strenuous.

    Thanks for the feedback on the green tomatoes, and yours was a good use of them in the salad.

    Off to the races in relation to wheat was I’m guessing an unintended joke? Maybe? As I read your reply I was thinking to myself, yeah landrace wheat. I’m going to try my hand at producing and breeding some local wheat in the future. It is a fascinating plant and the stuff grown nowadays is a very different plant to the stuff grown even a few centuries back. I have a variety that grows to three feet, and with a bit of selection… A year or two back you recommended a good book on the topic and it was quite an eye opener. Now, where is the book (note to self: have to clear out the over-stuffed book shelves)? Oh, here goes: Restoring Heritage Grains by Eli Rogosa. It is an excellent read, and selecting for plants is not as complicated a task as people may make it out to be. It just takes a while. And incidentally, planting a variety of species is always a good idea – that isn’t necessarily followed in these enlightened days where harvests are expected to come in all at once.

    I tend to agree with the decision made by PG&E in pre-emptively cutting the power on the day. It was the right call among many possible paths. They do that down here too, because the class action from the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires (think 173 dead) was epic and apparently in part caused by I believe the over loading of power lines in the Kilmore region. The future means facing possible hard choices and picking a path among the wreckage.

    Thanks for the link to the bird population decline article. The authors appeared to be far more concerned about politics than genuinely worrying about the plight of the birds. It’s not good for the birds though and it would be nice if people could divorce the two issues.

    Actually, the kangaroos are very clever in that regard and during a prolonged drought both the males and females can respond by continuing their amorous activities whilst not producing progeny until the circumstances change and become more favourable. They’re quite an amazing animal in that regard.

    Exactly, your garden is full of mineral rich and very healthy plants, and it’s like a garden of Eden to the deer – who just want to party on. The forest on the other hand is less mineral rich, and trees have communication methods with their peers alerting each other to the deer predation (or so I’ve read). Your garden on the other hand is exactly like what you describe – a candy shop. It’s a real problem and sturdy fences are cheap at the moment. Don’t knock the benefits of home grown nitrogen sources. It is better for the stuff to end up in the soil than it is for it to end up flushed down a local river.

    Your experience of a lack of bugs reminds me of my trips into the big smoke. I walk past garden after garden all profuse with flowers and there ain’t a damn insect on any of the plants. It is not good. But at the same time I know a lot of people who have gut issues and their pets also have gut issues and umm, well, they live in a too sterile environment in the big smoke and egg each other on to new lows. It is very possible that such a place is a breeding ground for the toughest bugs that we’ve ever seen.

    Have you shed any light on the mystery bug?

    A bit of a shame about the awful loss of the BLOB. I recommend that you check to see whether it has fallen behind your desk! It sure ain’t behind my couch. Incidentally, and displaying a bit of self-interest here, warm waters in the Pacific (and look at the cool patch to the NW of my continent around Indonesia) are a total disaster for us. I suspect that the warmer waters in the Southern Ocean have been the saving grace for me this year in terms of precipitation, otherwise things would not be good. The Roaring Forties have long been known to me due to historical accounts, and this little mountain range catches some of that action (but not all the time).

    Yeah, that is my understanding too about pneumonia. It was once described as the old dudes friend. And everyone needs mates. 🙂

    Exactly, I take people as they present themselves to the world too and I’m not even remotely interested in their amorous activities so long as it is consensual. I had to look up what exactly was meant by the term ‘non-binary’. Hmm, well some folks have very flexible dispositions. Years ago I worked for a bloke who had stolen a lot of money from his employer. It was a lot of mad cash. I resigned before the thefting mess came to light just because I didn’t like working for the guy. He had a duplicitous nature, and he once showed me a photo of him and his training buddy. Hmm, yeah, well, I just went with my gut feeling on that one, but then was asked to come back and assist once he was gone with repairing the damage done to the work place. I dunno, some folks just like trouble and drama and he was one such, and yeah it stunk of the whole ‘shock yo momma’ take on the world. The wife and couple of kids in the story were collateral damage and I can hardly imagine that things turned out well for them, but at the time I guess they were living large. Interestingly, by sheer chance I ran into him once in the street many long years ago, and he steered clear of me – which is as things should be. It is nice to have a bit of size on one’s skeletal frame!

    Egging each other on is another way to describe the process of escalation and/or grooming. It is interesting that you mention that because I have been reading and contrasting the articles in the news down here about your politics with Mr Kunstler’s fine analysis. And mate, the results are in and they’re not good – which is one of the reasons I wrote the story I did this week. If ever the folks in the media encounter a serious issue, they might not recognise it.

    I don’t necessarily feel that it is a bad thing to explore one’s darker thoughts. It is bonkers to pretend they don’t exist. It just requires ‘one on one’ attention with an initiated guide that can assist the student with the process. And few people seem even remotely interested in providing that service. It wasn’t always thus.The Pol Pot regime that I wrote about this week were very extreme left leaning and the body count was spectacular – I saw some of their handiwork.

    I tend to feel that the ability to make a decision and live with the consequences is a skill that is not taught these days. What do you reckon about that?



  27. Hi Inge,

    You are blessed with skills that I do not have, although I’m getting better and providing less of a target, although I suspect that means choosing paths that are nicer for me, but come with less recognised status (although I’m not really sure). It is a subject that I consider and ponder from time to time. I mentioned in my reply to Lewis about a very duplicitous bloke I encountered well over a decade or so ago. Regardless, there seems to be plenty of difficult people around, that’s for sure. Another term for automatic might be well practiced, or even in built from the factory (lucky you)?

    Your actions were extraordinarily generous in relation to your visitor and I can only but admire your spirit and example.

    It is funny you mention that about receiving help from your neighbour, but I reckon things are different in the country, and that is one of the side benefits. The lady I bought the mysterious machine from had a neighbour come over and vet me and the editor just to see whether we weren’t up to any mischief. But of course, the test was easily passed, but the lady told me of other troubles that she’d encountered recently. Not good.

    How did the auction end up for your sons piglets? And 13 is a respectable harvest. Out of curiosity, how is the ferry service going with the mainland?



  28. @ Lew
    ‘Sod’s law’ is the British version of ‘Murphy’s law’.
    I noticed a mention of green tomatoes in salad, have always been told that one should not eat unripe tomatoes raw.


  29. Hi DJ,

    Your lady has a clearer view of you than you do! So yeah, your path is the path of wisdom. I too listen to the advice of the editor, and had an afternoon nap today, and felt much better for it. To be honest, I’m a bit sick of feeling sick by now. Four days so far is no man-flu.

    Mate the coffee machine incident was perhaps a sign of the times, and I have taken my time with things this week. I still had to work two and a half days of the four. With the exception of yesterday I was able to work remotely, and perhaps that is why I fell asleep before replying to everyone! Hehe! Last night I slept long and deeply only to be woken up at some awful hour by a bird crashing into the front door.

    Ain’t nothing wrong with recalling the past, although it is perhaps a very dangerous place to reside. Mate, you’re coming around to my world view which is two feet in today and with an eye for the morrow. 😉

    And many thanks to you for the history lessons. The tapestry was akin to an epic comic strip and it was rich with both stories and detail. Mixing colours for such a project is an epic task in and of itself! Still one must occasionally reach for the stars – just don’t overdo it like I did last weekend… 🙂 Oh well, what do you if you do, do so? (I was trying to see how many ‘do’s I could get into one sentence – a challenge that is not as easy as first considered!)

    Well done and I agree, guidance is often lacking. A nicer way to put it might be a guide to better living and all that! But kids by their very nature like to push boundaries, and I had a mate that long ago that was fond of suggesting that only those who had fallen off the edge, know truly where the edge is.

    I mentioned to Lewis one of the final situations that I found myself in the big bad corporate world. From some perspectives I was the accidental CFO! 🙂 Funny stuff, but far out I much prefer small business where meetings are short and to the point and action is swift and decisive (if not always correct). Perhaps this is a flaw in my personality though and the Ents might declare me to be a bit hasty!



  30. Hi Al,

    How are you doing mate? Winter is fast approaching in your part of the world.

    They’re good machines, the vibrating plate compactors, and I’ve hired them in the past in other building projects – but not here. They do an excellent job as long as you keep them moving around which is frankly not that hard because they hardly want to stay in one place for very long. It does take skill to use such a tool effectively, and they produce great results (as you also note).

    And a good back-hoe would be an excellent machine to own. Those things can dig really quickly and the buckets are usually pretty strong.

    But alas, no cigar. The mysterious machine is not either choice! 😉



  31. Hi Damo,

    The left control key is a bit sticky, but time will tell. You know mate, sometimes I can be the little Devil on your shoulder going: Damo. DAMO! (apologies for yelling) Your life will be complete if you but obtain a mechanical keyboard! Hehe!

    Sorry for being an idiot, but they are good, and with the blog I found myself typing a lot more than I usually did and the old keyboard required more physical effort to push the keys. It was something of a relief to get a proper mechanical keyboard and I do like the clikey clakey sound of it. But I recall the days when typewriters were still in use (it wasn’t that long ago) and the old electronic ones had superb keyboards.

    The red colouring is quite a nice effect and it offsets the flashing multicoloured LED’s inside the clear case (which is quite good because I can see when too much dust builds up inside there).

    Lucky you with this talk of work computers. Small business rarely provides for such niceties. Incidentally, your advice of swapping my old laptop HDD for an SSD was greatly appreciated. Whilst I had the case open, I also doubled the RAM and the decade old beast is now fast as.

    Yes, your description of NZ bakeries matches my own experience. Alas for your situation because life is short and bakery products deserve a thorough testing! That is one area that we do really well down this way, and the pie awards are not just big talk.

    Chocolate brownie is a worthy story and I won’t mention that you have a home town advantage. Oops, broke that rule, but our friends across the Tasman Sea could lift their game a bit. Although it is easier for me to say being on this side of the Tasman Sea as I don’t have to face a Haka of disgruntled bakers… 😉



  32. Hello again
    One is known to one neighbours in a rural area so perhaps one is more likely to receive any needed help. In a city one can be invisible; useful if one so wishes.
    We don’t yet know how well the pigs sold.
    The ferries remain absolutely atrocious. Even worse, many people missed their ferry recently because a machine where one paid to drive up the long pier to the ferry, failed to function. Hence the barrier didn’t lift.


  33. Hi Chris,
    We are looking forward to our trip though the next few days will be pretty busy getting ready to be gone for 3 weeks. There’s also a recycling drive and a book club meeting this weekend as well. My drivers license expires a couple of weeks after we return so I’d like to take care of that beforehand. I was looking at all the documentation I would have to bring for the real ID Pam was talking about. What a pain!! It is not required as long as you have a passport which I do so I’m thinking I’ll pass on it. The only time I would have to bring a passport is if I’m flying or entering a military base or some federal buildings. As these aren’t things I do on a regular basis I figure I can just pull our the passport if needed.

    I hope the new chickens are settling in.

    I was out with my sister who is the mother of the nieces in Portland. Saying she’s frustrated with them is putting it mildly.

    I will be bringing my tablet on our trip so I can check email etc but as it’s cumbersome to write long responses I probably won’t comment too much.


  34. @ Damo – I started watching the American version of “What We Do in the Shadows”, last night. Hmmm. Well, counter to the usual, I find it a bit better than the British version. A little more pulled together. Not quit as “ladish.”

    I don’t remember if they were in the original (but I didn’t watch the whole thing) but in this version, there is an energy vampire and a emotional vampire. Which are quit a hoot. I don’t know if I’m going to finish the whole series.

    Brownies … good. Ever tried a Cheese Whiz™ Brownie? I ran across one at a potluck, a couple of years ago. One of those things, that taste really good … if you don’t think about the ingredients, too much. :-). Probably one of those hold over horrible recipes from the 1950s … that turned out to be ok. Lew

  35. @ Inge & Chris – I was not clear. The green tomatoes were in casseroles, that were nuked. Besides being possibly bad for you, in a salad, I think they’d be a bit bitter. But cooked in a casserole, they added a bit of tangy zing, working along with all the other flavors. Also, not in overwhelming amounts. Two (about the size of a Roma tomato), in a quart casserole. Lew

  36. @ Damo (and Chris) – Never surrender! :-). I am so chuffed! I just saw a trailer, for a new documentary. Background: I’ve always really liked the film “Galaxy Quest.” It’s one of the few films I re-watch, every couple of years. But, I always thought that was just one of my weird little quips. Any-who. Apparently, I am not alone. There’s a fan base, and this documentary is about my people. Gotta see, this one.

    If I ever go to a Con, now I know what I’ll go as. 🙂 Lew

  37. Yo, Chris – Races? Might be that rara avis, the unintended pun :-). It will be interesting for you to attempt some local wheat. We’ve talked about the Washington agricultural extension station, that’s growing and preserving old varieties. Do you have such, in Australia? I’m glad you found the book, useful.

    I agree that cutting the power under certain circumstances is wise. I found it interesting, that one interview I heard was from a citizen of Paradis. Even though she had lost her home and some of her neighbors, she was still whinging about the power cut. Mostly blaming the power company for maintenance. Yup, they could have done better, but even under the best maintenance, things happen.

    Yes, it was too bad the article on loss of birds had to drag politics into it. But, with some people, it just seems to be a knee jerk, reaction. They don’t seem to “get” that that may play well to some audiences, but alienates, others. I probably worry to much about my impact on the bugs, in my patch. What I do, mostly amounts to hand picking, or very targeted traps, for the thrips, or BT for the cabbage moths. There still seems to be plenty of cabbage moths around, just not on my crops.

    I’ll have to catch one of the beetles, to show to someone. They can’t seem to get past “elm beetle” or “western firefly”, when ever I describe what I see. It “might” be a scarlet shouldered beetle, which is more like what I’m seeing. But not quit.

    I hadn’t seen the post about the lost blob. But, I see it now. Fine for the salmon and other sea creatures, but I wonder if it means we’ll have a colder winter, than forecast?

    Well, the old saw I live by (among many) is, we make choices. Good or bad, we have to live with the consequences. “It’s not like you haven’t been told” is akin to, “I told you so.” :-). LOL, when I’ve been in those situations, either I keep my mouth shut, or premise it with, “I’ll only say this once… (I told you so).

    About 1/4 of Pompeii hasn’t been excavated. They’ve been going at it slow, due to money and the idea that better preservation methods would be developed, as time goes on. Over the last two years, they’ve been chipping away at the untouched, area. A new discovery, last week. A fresco of a couple of gladiators, going at it. WARNING! It’s a bit gory, as one gladiator has hacked off another one’s forearm.

    I went to the library, today, to pick up some things. I usually only go on Wednesdays and Saturdays (makes it easier to keep track of the due dates). But, the new list comes out, tomorrow night, and I wanted to free up some slots on my hold list. The Tolkien movie was, there, by the way. I’ll probably watch it, sometime over the next week. But, I also picked up a book called “The Way Home: Tales from a Live Without Technology (Boyle, 2019). I really know nothing about it, but the title caught my eye. Reports to follow. But…

    I have a hypothetical question, for you. If you didn’t have your businesses (say, you retired … which I know you’ve said will probably never happen), would you jettison some of your tech? Just curious. Lew

  38. Chris,

    4 days of being sick is no fun. At all. I took Thursday off from work and promptly slept until 9:00 a.m. I haven’t slept that late or that long in eons, maybe since the Pleistocene, even. I don’t think I could’ve staggered into the office if I’d planned to. No explanation, just tired.

    Are you sure it was a bird crashing into the door and not a wombat or kangaroo trying to visit? I mean, if you haven’t been out and about very much this week, they probably miss you and wanted to wish you well.

    “Mate, you’re coming around to my world view which is two feet in today and with an eye for the morrow.” Ohhhh, nice! The Princess likes that, too.

    The non Winnie the Pooh characters will likely not get color, except maybe the bloke lifting his visor at Tigger. I think that’s supposed to be William the Conqueror. It took like 20 years to do the tapestry. What do you do when you cannot do tv due to its not yet being invented? Make a tapestry commemorating your husband’s winning a big battle.

    Do be do be do. Do be a do be, do not be a do not be. Okay, 4 “do” seems to be the max in a sentence. I think we’re due for a change in topic.

    We’re undergoing a culture change at work, or so we’re told. We did mandatory surveys last January and had one small group meeting with 2 top managers in April or May. Now we’ve been told the results of said meetings and what our mission statement is and what our organization’s values are. The joys of government employment.

    We had an informational update meeting about this on Wednesday. I called it the Culture Club and noted that Boy George was notoriously absent again.

    At his friendly one-on-one conversation with me afterward, I mentioned to the head honcho that if the senior managers don’t live it, it won’t stick and will just be another irritant. As he’s been there longer than I have, he understood what I meant: we’ve gone through several similar exercises in the past with no real change. Did I mention that these things are some of the joys of government employment? He does understand that I will give an honest assessment/opinion without pointing fingers or placing blame.


  39. Hi Inge,

    Cities do have the advantage in that you are not carrying the weight of your ancestors on your back. Years ago I knew of a young lady (another accountant) who moved over to Australia from a small village in Indonesia where her family was quite well to do. Anyway, it was only in speaking to her that I understood what an incredible weight living in such a place could be at such a social station. Expectations were great there, and very low here. And it was not lost on me that she wanted the best of both worlds whilst avoiding the costs.

    But then, as someone who has lived in the big smoke cheek by jowl in the inner suburbs, I do realise that your neighbours can be only several feet away, but they might as well not be there. I feel that there is a middle ground in there somewhere, but where it is I do not know. What is your take on that matter?

    Any word about the pigs? I’d be very surprised if they did not sell. A lady who was a visitor from Vietnam was turned around at the airport and deported the other day for attempting to import raw pork product. Apparently she did not declare the foodstuffs, and the incidence of African Swine Fever (a relative of the Ebola virus I believe) is increasing around the globe: African swine fever fears spike in Australia as woman deported for smuggling pork into Sydney airport. Apparently people are attempting to bring in 220 pounds of pork products per week. That adds up and it only takes one sample…



  40. Hi Margaret,

    Oh my, you are very busy, but also always welcome to drop by for a chat. Big trips take a lot of planning, but then sometimes you have to face not being ready for the eventualities. I dunno about you, but I need at least a week in order to wind back the dial (in a metaphorical sense) and just enjoy the spectacle of travel. I sometimes feel that with great speed we miss the sights. Although not to confuse you, sometimes I feel that the sights could be missed and that would be a good thing. I wrote about that this week with the killing fields in Cambodia, but you know bigger perspective and all that? Apologies, but I’m rambling and am envious of your uninterrupted time away if only because I have been struggling to work out how to have an entire uninterrupted week off this year – and it looks like a forlorn wish (at this stage). Mustn’t grumble and all that.

    I rarely offer advice, but my advice would be this: get your ID updated. The word ‘real’ that both yourself and Pam used rings alarm bells to me.

    In breaking chookie news: the two new light Sussex chickens enjoyed their first foray into the orchard tonight. They loved it, although I had to grab both of them and physically throw them out the open door to the chicken run (the living is good in there). What was interesting to me was that they followed the other older chickens and went back in when the sun had set. That was when they realised that they had not sorted out their regular sleeping spots…

    It would frustrate me too, but outwardly I’d act as if I wasn’t listening to your nieces. Being a guy I can play the guy card which involves studiously ignoring spoken words. But between you and I, I hear the words… On a serious note, I tend to feel that it may be a passing fad and you never really know what stories get in their heads. And there is no way of controlling that factor, so you have to let it play out and see where it goes. If it is a longer term thing, then that might be who these people actually are, but does it all matter? Probably not as much as you’d think.

    Thank you and I always enjoy our chats. 🙂



  41. Hi Lewis,

    I reckon I’d chuck green tomatoes into the same category as apple cores. Yes, they may be toxic, and yes they may introduce poisons to your system, but you’d have to eat an awful lot of them in order for it to be too much of a problem. So I wouldn’t worry about it too much. We turn the remaining green tomatoes into ‘green tomato chutney’ and well I’m still here so the facts speak for themselves in this thorny matter. Things may be different for other people though (the disclaimer).

    Speaking of which, today was a sunny and warm day and walking up the hill left me puffing (due to the cold and fluid on the lungs) and so instead I spent about four hours weeding the various vegetable beds. That was about as much as I could safely handle, and I reckon that the job is only another hour or so away from being finished. We removed almost eight wheelbarrow loads of weeds (i.e. unwanted plants) and whilst I was poking around with my ‘sponge wub’ (yes it’s a real thing, I dare you to ask me as to what it is) I had not spotted any vegetable seedlings. So later in the day I passed by the local gardening club and stopped in and grabbed a soil thermometer. Turns out that despite the hot and sunny day, the soil was only at about 57’F which is still too cold for corn and/or tomatoes to germinate. But it is getting close and I noted that next Tuesday is the first day with UV rated as ‘Very High’, so I’ll get the corn and tomato seeds germinating over the next few days.

    You know, a bit of BT and some live sticky traps is not quite the same thing as spraying the entire garden with neonicotinoids. A few years ago I made a definitive test with that stuff and sprayed some onto an ant colony which was attacking one of my bee hives. Well, the ants died but so did the bee hive and that told me everything I needed to know about the stuff. I didn’t spray much at all, but a little bit was more than enough. It’s full on and maybe a bit too full on and should only ever be used sparingly.

    You probably need a proper entomologist. We are surrounded by a huge diversity of life and just because we can’t name it, doesn’t imply that the life is not good to have around. My understanding is that the soil is chock full of critters that we have little understanding of. Is the bug eating anything?

    Mate, who knows? The climate is bonkers and I just try to adapt as best as possible. The soil today is not warm enough to germinate corn, but last season… Megalodog.

    Some folks can hear once and then absorb the lesson. It is not an impossibility, it is unfortunately very rare though… But I do like your style! 🙂

    The fresco is quite graphic and the article suggested that it adorned the wall of a tavern that gladiators frequented. Getting hacked up was probably par for course for those guys (‘tis but a flesh wound – Monty Python the Black Knight), and so gentle reminders like the fresco may have kept them sharp. Out of curiosity, if the gladiators were visiting a tavern which may have had a bordello upstairs, were they slaves or free men (or some sort of mix of the two)?

    As far as I understand things we tend to be a very violent species, and it was upon attending the more English than the English grammar school as a young teenager, that I learned that knowing how to fight was probably not a bad thing. Upon being faced with a fight there and my inept initial response, I took myself off to the local dojo (at my expense) and learned martial arts for a few years. To pretend that things are otherwise would be a mockery of reality – but plenty of people carry that story in their heads, and inevitably there is a sense of outrage when they’re confronted with the reality of our species. By my nature that isn’t how I’m inclined, but on the other hand if you wake up to find yourself living in a jungle… I feel that Vortigern’s story is a cautionary tale, although I’m yet to discover how it ended up for him.

    I’ll be curious to learn what your thoughts are on both films. I tend to feel that it is best to pick and choose what technologies you burden yourself with. And then you have to weigh yourself down with all of the do-dags and gee-gaws that go along with the technologies that you choose. The recent mystery machine was one such problem. Do the benefits outweigh the costs? Hmm….



  42. Hi DJ,

    Well hopefully dinosaurs weren’t walking the Earth then and you were some sort of scared rat like little critter? On the other hand, from what I’ve learned about them, rats are a true survivor. It is not for no reason that the word ‘rat cunning’ was so coined (that’s actually two words). Nice sleep in, and sometimes you know, it just ain’t right despite best intentions. I worked on Wednesday and it was not good, fortunately the first client was also under the weather and possibly suffering from a similar bug. The other client I popped into see was I believe the source of the bug and as such had little to fear (other than fear itself!)

    Wombats are like little armoured vehicles and they can push through fences like you wouldn’t believe. And a kangaroo or wallaby would never come to the door. Once a few years ago a koala bear came to the door, but it was very sick and I wrote about that. How much can a koala bear?

    Your lady is a very clever and astute lady! 🙂

    Did it really take twenty years to create the tapestry? I had not appreciated how large the tapestry is before. Have you seen any of the reproductions?

    I see your four ‘do-bees’ and retire from the field with my head hanging down in an admission of defeat. Nice one, and I note that it would make a perky song chorus.

    Hehe! Good luck. Things could always be worse. I once worked for a company that had the mission statement which suggested that they wanted to be not second best. Well, they did kind of achieve that and were in fact second best. I always used to laugh to myself whenever I saw that mission statement and I did hope they hadn’t spent too much money on coming up with it.

    Boy George caused all sorts of outrage when I was a young bloke, and despite his unusual predilections (all very English), he appears to have remained sort of coherent unlike some of his peers. The talented Mark Ronson managed to get him into a popular song in 2011 and strangely the bloke could actually sing. Back in the day I thought that it was all puff. But yeah, you might be onto something with your cheeky naming. Just hope they’re not bored enough to actually do anything too annoying. As far as I can tell, you just have to bide your time until retirement and be careful not to deploy a waspish tongue! Some people take umbrage when on the receiving end of that.



  43. @ Margaret:

    Thanks for clarifying that one will be able to board a plane using a passport, not just a REAL ID. I hadn’t realized that (I do have a passport), but I am glad have the REAL ID anyway – just in case.


  44. Chris:

    I enjoyed seeing the young Ollie again – and Scritchy – and especially Sir Poopy, in Megalodog.


  45. @ all – on green tomatoes, I’ve been known to use them instead of cucumbers in a refrigerator pickle recipe. “Refrigerator pickle” means they weren’t cooked and bottled for preservation, but rather left in the vinegar-and-spices solution in containers in the refrigerator for preservation. I’ve eaten a decent amount of such raw green tomatoes in the usual ways one eats any pickle and am still here, FWIW.

    The southern thing to do with green tomatoes is to fry them, hence the dish fried green tomatoes which is also a book title. I’ve not read the book and haven’t eaten fried green tomatoes. If I’m going to eat something fried, it will be some other food.

    Enjoy your travel, Margaret, and let us know where you went and what you see when you return!


  46. Yo, Chris – Does green tomato chutney need to be hot packed? Oh, I don’t worry much about eating green tomatoes. They taste good and it uses them up.

    Best stick to “light duty”, til your back up to par. People relapse, if they push it. Even Google failed me, when it came to a sponge wub. Other than Sponge Bob Square Pants, doing the “Wub, Wub.” But, as you were poking about the veg, I’d guess it’s some kind of bathroom cleaning utensil. On a stick. But not, probably, the kind used by the Romans. :-). In place of toilet paper.

    It was probably a sports bar :-). Gladiators were both slave and free. Slaves who behaved, had a certain amount of freedom. I’d guess, if they were very good, they got an occasional night out. I’m not sure if it is history, or movies, but the Sparticus revolt, started in a gladiatorial school, not far from Pompeii.

    Well, the first of our magic food boxes, arrived, this morning. There will be another one, slightly different, this afternoon. Through swapping, I’ve already managed to score four bottles of hot sauce. And, bags of individual dried cranberries. A pack of frozen chicken. A bag of oranges. 5 pounds of “good” sugar. Time to take another trip down, and see if anything else has appeared. Lew

  47. Hi Chris,

    Glad to hear your laptop SSD and RAM upgrade has been worthwhile! The computer upgrade treadmill of the 1990’s and 2000’s is well and truly over – as long as you can get a computer that keeps working.


  48. Hi Lew,

    Cheese Whiz looks both amazing and disgusting! I think something like it went on a few nachos I ordered when in the US?

    I really liked the emotional vampire in What We Do In The Shadows as well, although like you, I never really finished watching it. I think we got to episode 4 or thereabouts – it wasn’t bad, but just one of those shows that never really grabbed me to keep watching.

    The internet must be suggesting similar things to both of us, I saw the Galaxy Quest doco trailer the other day as well! You are not alone in loving Galaxy Quest – I agree with the meme that it is probably the best Star Trek movie. And who doesn’t love Sam Rockwells take on Guy, the quintessential red shirt?


  49. Chris,

    Rats survive. Cockroaches survive. Twould be an interesting sci-fi story set in the future giving the story of which of the two surviving species becomes dominant.

    Nice koala story. Do you find it as interesting as I do that wild critters that try to avoid humans will come “begging” when they are in extreme duress?

    Oh yes, the Princess is clever and astute. She refers to me as “Viking Swine”, which is from an old Hagar the Horrible cartoon. She has me figured out, for sure.

    I’ve read that it took 20 years to make the tapestry, but that is under dispute. And it appears that it was commissioned by Bishop Odo, William the Conqueror’s half-brother. The only time I’ve seen the entire thing in one place is on Wikipedia, in which it must be scrolled through from left to right. Which makes sense, as it is said to be 50cm tall and 70 meters wide.

    Alas! The Sentence with the Four Do is not original. It is a paraphrase of a line given in the old children’s show “Romper Room”. The original was “Do be a Do Bee. Don’t be a Don’t Bee.”

    You clearly recognize the good position I have at the job: 16 months left and counting. Also, I’m in the good graces of both my boss and his, the head honcho. So, as long as I avoid being waspish and don’t turn into a cheeky bam, things should be ok. Although my boss can get quite stupid (and he’s about to maybe do something beyond the pale even for him), but then again, he’s the boss and if something goes terribly wrong, it’s on him. I just fix more popcorn and watch the comedy.

    Yes, Boy George can sing. His, umm, “flair” tended to overshadow his actual talents. I never cared for his songs, but he did have talent.

    Supposed to rain a lot this weekend. We can always use it.


  50. Hi Pam,

    Well you are in for a treat because I finally went past the ruined farm building that we spoke of many months ago – but this time I took the camera. More on this on Monday (although I’ll start writing in about an hour or so).

    Thanks, and I miss my little Sir Poopy mate. What do you?



  51. Hi Claire,

    I too had been consuming green tomatoes in the form of chutney and never knew there was any risk. Green potatoes on the other hand are a bit of a worry due to the presence of possible solanine compounds, but clearly they are larger and would provide more volume than green tomatoes in a chutney. I don’t doubt that tomatoes have the toxin, and I recall some vague reference to people being dared to consume the leaves way back when the plant was first introduced to Europe from South America.

    I’ve consumed fried green tomatoes and they’re not bad at all.

    Hope things are OK?



  52. Hi Lewis,

    What a hornet’s nest, and I’m no wiser on the subject. Apparently cooking does not reduce the toxin risk with green potatoes, so given tomatoes are of the same family of plants… But then, the volume would be far lower with green tomatoes and so I’m guessing the concentration of the toxin would be also far lower. Dunno, but I’ve never experienced the purported side effects from the fruit, but other people may be more sensitive to it and body weight is one side of that story.

    Thanks. Yeah, I took it easier again today and did all of the household chores early this morning. Those are the boring but necessary things that keep a household running – and they sure do add up! After that we ventured north to the nearby apple growing district to pick up a box of last seasons apples. Of course there was a stop along the way to check out an excellent bakery and then we had lunch at the gourmet pie micro brewery. That was when a mini-bus turned up with a lot of youths who were clearly on a ‘Hangover’ style bachelor party mission – they went into the pub whilst we consumed gourmet pies outside. The mini bus was towing a trailer full of – and this is truly hard to explain – inflatable pink flamingoes. Lots of beer was being consumed by the party and the groom was wearing a wedding dress, and yeah, you guessed it: Trouble has a new name. It was so notable that the editor stealithly took a photo which I’ll chuck on the next blog to give you some idea of the local colour.

    Fortunately I had the camera ready to hand because I’d been busy earlier developing this next week’s story on apples. That may sound like a boring topic, but chuck in a few pink flamingoes, and I still dunno what it all meant, but yeah, maybe lots of trouble with a dash of vomit. 🙂

    Oh thanks for gogle searching it. Wub was the sound that the former boss dog used to make. So she was a Pomeranian, and I was never sure whether she was fearless or foolhardy. Possibly both, as she came from a rescue centre that had pulled her out of a house of something crazy like 140 dogs. A canine hoarders house. When she was a pup she was so poorly behaved, she almost put me off dogs. Then one day the boss dog died, and she had this strange come to Jesus moment and suddenly became the most obedient and well behaved dog that I’ve ever known. It was weird, but the change really was overnight. People used to stop me in the street and ask me if they could get a photo of her – she was very photogenic. I knew her better and she and I were good mates, but anyway, she knew other dogs well and very intimately, and was absolutely ruthless in ways that was unsuspecting for one so diminutively statured and fluffy. Only the crunchy beagle defied her, and he was brutal. She’d encounter hunting dogs that were easily four times her size and before they knew it she’d go for their throat or try and attack their eyes, and they’d cower before her. It was dirty. On the other hand she loved people and Toothy as a puppy looked up to her in both awe and reverence. She never barked, she’d just make this strange ‘wub’ sound. It would be like: ‘wub, wub, wub’. And the sponge is a chunk of very heavy duty foam which I use for kneeling on when working outside, but she used to hang with me all day long and whenever possible, she’d appropriate it for her own comfort. Thus it was and still is a: Sponge Wub.

    I guess the Roman’s knew what they were doing, but two or more on a sponge stick just sounds a bit kind of wrong to me! Who can forget: The Flaming Lips – Spongebob & Patrick Confront The Psychic Wall of Energy. They must have had some serious fun on that film clip.

    That’s funny! 🙂 You mentioned the Spartacus revolt a while back and I’ve never really been able to shake the conviction that turning back south was an idea that was fed to the leaders. They got crushed and let down badly, but heading north would have led them into hostile and possibly unknown territory.

    Was the hot sauce Sriracha? Good luck and prepare for ignition! Cranberries are crazy expensive down here – a truly tidy swap. What do you call ‘good’ sugar? I usually stick to raw sugar, except for pizza bases where I add sugar that has molasses. Ooo, it’s good stuff!

    Gonna write tonight, and the topic of apples and climate change has popped into my mind. It’s a complicated place in there… Hehe!



  53. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, a good call. I also suspect that the trend towards providing software and databases remotely, and us fools viewing them via a web browser has a lot to do with that story. I often wonder just how safe the data is on those services and whether it is mined or not. Certainly it would be foolish to believe that the interfaces aren’t monitored to see how people interact with the software.



  54. Hi DJ,

    It sure would make for an interesting story. A bit like an even more dystopian Watership down?

    The hours with the koala forced me to reconsider how the wildlife sees us humans. The little feller was done for as he had a lump in his throat which meant he couldn’t consume food and was getting weaker by the moment. Mate, he must have exhausted all of his options to think we were good for him. He was sent on his way peacefully though, and few could for ask for more than that, so maybe he knew that it was us or the foxes, eagles or rats. I watched today as a wedge tail eagle divided straight down into the forest on the hunt. Meanwhile another eagle watched the goings on from high above, and the local birds kicked up a massive fuss, which the eagles blithely ignored.

    Hehe! Hagar the Horrible was very amusing. Did you ever get the Wizard of ID cartoons?

    It is an impressive feat to embroider 70m of tapestry. Not to mention that back in those days someone would have had to have woven the 70m of cloth in the first place. And given the personage that paid for the work, I’m guessing that it would be a job that was not rushed…

    I never watched that particular show as a kid, but I do recall it. I appreciated the many repeats of Dr Who instead!

    Exactly, prepare your popcorn and enjoy the show – and try to be inconspicuous. A long time back there was a local singer and songwriter – quite the eccentric – and he quipped that: Out front of a rock and roll band is where I hide. Deep words.

    No, I wasn’t a fan either, but yeah the guy did have talent and also a flair for self promotion. But the shock yo moma side of the story was too much for my tastes.

    Are you getting the rain? It rained here today and was cool, but by Thursday it looks set to reach 33’C / 91’F, although it possibly won’t get that hot up here.



  55. Hello again
    Oh, the pigs will have sold; Son just doesn’t know how well until he gets the cheque.
    Strange, I don’t think that there is a middle ground where neighbours are concerned. Or perhaps that is where one just has courteous greetings but no more.
    Family obligations: yes or no? I have just been completely mind blown by discovering that my mother had translated all the letters from her family in Germany from 1932 till 1978. I have just finished reading them and am feeling incredibly sorry for her. She was a difficult woman but oh what she had to put up with! Non-stop admonishments about her behaviour and endless requests for money. Fair enough after the war when they were starving but not prior and later. She sent money to friends in Switzerland and the US who then sent food parcels which were often ransacked before they arrived. I hadn’t realised that letters were still being censored in 1947. There is so much there and I think that I will remain stunned for quite a while.


  56. @ Inge:

    That is so incredible about your mother and the letters. I think the lesson there might be: Never assume.


  57. @ Claire:

    I often cook – and eat – green tomatoes fried in batter. It is hard to resist early in the tomato season.

    How is your mother-in-law?


  58. Chris:

    I miss Sir Poopy, too. If you wish to cheer yourself up, though, take a look at some of the online dog Halloween costumes. Some of them keep me laughing all day.


  59. Yo, Chris – I’ve decided green tomatoes, are the least of my worries. Not that I have any great worries. 🙂

    Bakeries and micro breweries. Again. Working hard allows you to indulge. I’m beginning to think if you didn’t work so hard, you’d roll right down your hill.

    One can never have too many inflatable pink flamingoes.

    Apples are never boring. I have one a day, in my oatmeal. There’s a certain sense of excitement, cutting one open to see if it’s bug ridden, or, has a case of the dreaded water core.

    So, boss dog came from beneath the sea. I had a cat once, that I found in a parking lot (or, she found me). I later thought she had been landed there, by aliens. She never purred, or meowed. She only made clicking and whirring noises.

    The rock video looked mad, fun, and very expensive. I have a good Sponge Bob story. And, librarian vs clerical. I’m standing one day, chatting with a librarian when a small child came up, and asked if we had any Sponge Bob books. The librarian says, “Who’s Sponge Bob?” The kid and I gave each other an eye roll, and were telepathically linked for a moment, thinking “Has this guy been living under a rock?” Small children do have their occasional uses.

    I wonder if two on a sponge stick, was the Roman “two on a match” is bad luck? Maybe we’ve discovered the secret of high Roman mortality figures? Most Roman loos had an open trough of fresh water, running through them. For rinsing out your sponge stick. Still … Maybe latrines had slaves, stationed, to sell sponge sticks. Less money for slightly used ones. During election times, politicians would hand out fresh sponge sticks, to buy votes.

    I had never tried Sriracha, until about a month ago. I found a bottle at one of the cheap food stores, and decided to see what all the fuss was about. I was underwhelmed. Milder than the hot sauce I usually use, and sweeter. I prefer Tapatio, which, according to the book “Taco, USA” is what you’ll find on every Mexican families table. Or the Louisiana hot sauces, which are REALLY hot.

    To me, “good” sugar is cane, not beet. The afternoon good box came, and I scored 5 cans of wild caught, Alaskan salmon. That might sound, odd, given our recent talk about cream salmon over toast. But it makes great salmon loaf or patties. There were also bags of oranges, pretty close to tipping over the edge.

    I had a comment for DJ and Damo, but will wait til you do the new post. This late in the week, they might miss my deathless prose. :-). Lew

  60. Yo, Chris – My corn is truly magic. Overnight, ALL the ears have turned a deep, ruby red. Very beautiful.

    I see another fellow from our state, dropped in on our merry band. What are the chances? That makes three of us. Must be something in the water. Al is from the Tri-Cities. That is, Kennewick, Pasco and Richland. Those are on the Columbia River, over on the dry side. Probably closer to DJ, than to me.

    Nearby, is the Hanford Nuclear site. It’s where they developed the bomb, during WWII. They’re still cleaning it up, at the tune of 1.4 million, a day. According to Wikipedia.

    You may remember reading about Kennewick Man, a few years back. A very old dude, who washed out of the Columbia River Bank.

    I started saving tomato seeds, for next years crop. The peppers I moved inside, still seem to be happy. Except one has something eating holes in the leaves. I have discovered no insects. May have to spray it with a light soap solution. We had a couple of hours clearing, in our filthy weather, yesterday. So, I reworked deer fencing around the peas. Something I don’t have to fiddle with, every morning and evening.

    The auction in Olympia, apparently, is cleaning out some guys cap gun collection. Mostly from the 1950’s and 60’s. All in good shape, may with their original holsters and some packaging. Most brought around $100, and some ranged up to $500.

    It’s time to celebrate Amilustrium. A festival to the god Mars, marking the end (at least in this hemisphere) of campaigning season. Time to hang up the shields and spears, for another year. Around the 30th of September, was the festival of Thesmophria. Demeter (Roman Ceres) and Persephone (Roman Libera) have one last blow out, before Persephone heads into the underworld for the winter. But that was strictly a women’s festival. So, now you know what the Editor was about, on her girl’s night out. Or, shouldn’t know. Ladies only, privy to that knowledge. :-). Lew

  61. Hi Lewis,

    Apologies for the radio silence! Plans got abruptly thrown to the wind last evening. Have only written half the blog too. Better get on and finish it. Will speak soon.



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