The Wrong One

I love food, who doesn’t? Anyway, last Wednesday evening I was at a restaurant and was served a meal which was bland. Actually bland wasn’t the right word to use, a better way to describe the meal was to suggest that the closest approximation to the meal was a particularly filthy batch of washing up water.

At the table I had access to the condiments such as salt and pepper, and also some very tasty hot Tabasco sauce. It is not my usual practice to add such condiments to my meal, but this was something of an exception. Regardless, the addition of the condiments did not achieve anything and the meal was still bland. I decided against consuming the meal and the editor had unbidden come to a similar conclusion. That was when the waitress approached the table.

<People who are sensitive to naughty words, possibly need to skip a few paragraphs because there is some potty mouth coming at you – all in the name of rendering an exact account of the rapidly unfolding food situation>

So, unrequested the waitress approached the table. As a general rule I don’t really appreciate being asked as to my opinion as to a chefs handiwork, especially whilst there are chunks of food in my mouth. Other people may enjoy the moment, but that is their idea of a good time. It ain’t mine.

I was asked: “So, how are you enjoying your meals?” To which I replied: “They’re a bit shit really.” And then because silence can be such a powerful tool to use in a controversial conversation, I just went silent and watched the situation unfold.

After a look of sheer horror at my candid reply, came the squeak: “I’ll just go tell the chef”. Yeah, you do that. I had decided that I was gonna be a problem and they were messing with the wrong one!

The chef then approached the table and walks straight into a confrontational moment. It was a bit like a do-or-die cage fight where the editor and I were on one side of the cage all outraged at the lost food opportunity. All the while, the mildly nervous looking chef was on the other side of the cage, and had to face the two of us off. The editor is no slouch, and I appreciate her having my back in a restaurant brawl. In a fight, a person needs a wing-lady that they can trust.

Chef: “What seems to be the problem?” Not wanting to have the initiative snatched away from me by the seemingly innocuous question designed to lull me into a false sense of security. Nope, instead I decided to do the unexpected and take control of the situation. The long dead Chinese master of military strategy, Sun Tzu (everyone needs a long dead genius guide to military strategy), would no doubt approve of my move as I demanded: “Did you cook this … thing?”

Chef had fallen for my tactic (or rather Sun Tzu’s), because the person began to mumble an apology and something about adding extra flavouring to the food.

With a resolution clearly in sight, I had fears that my outrage had not yet been satisfied. “I don’t want that!” And there may have even been some foot stomps for emphasis. “Have you tasted this?” I demanded, and then just to sound mildly demented and slightly off kilter I decided to do the unpredictable again and repeat myself: “Have you tasted this?”

Yep, that sure sounded demented to me, and just to get truly personal, as is right and proper in such situations I quipped: “What is wrong with you? Have you got the palate of a cows backside?” I actually heard that line spoken from the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay and had been waiting for years to use it. That hit the mark and the chef looked visibly upset. Before going in for the extortion of stuff claim, it is best to add in a threat. I could do that, and here goes: “I’m going to destroy you on social media. I want…”


I don’t talk to people like that, if for no other reason than I’ve seen the film Fight Club, and I know what they can do to your food. Given that frightening outcome is always a possibility, it’s best not to provoke people in the hospitality business! And generally I treat the people working in those businesses very politely, because by and large, they do it hard – especially on seriously busy shifts.

The meal actually was bland, and yes I did actually speak to the chef (not by choice). The thing is, I said to the chef not to worry, one ordinary dinner among the many excellent meals served to us over the years was no problem at all. The meals were not finished, and despite that, I paid for our meals, and in cash. Some people may not have acted that way, but despite my personal feelings about the meal, the business had still prepared them and served them to us, and that is not cost free to them.

Even Sun Tzu recognised that there are times when a defeated opponent should be left to retire from the field, with some dignity. I often feel that the ability to act with a sense of propriety and consideration for others, otherwise known colloquially as ‘good grace’ is an under developed part of the human toolkit.

The weather this week blew both hot and cold. One day was exceptionally hot and then two days later it looked as though the farm had been plunged back into winter. On cold winter days the members of the fluffy canine collective sensibly sleep whilst they await the better weather. The editor and I however, keep working during such weather.

A Scritchy / Ollie Vulcan bum-mind meld is performed on a particularly cold day last week
The fluffy canine collective want no business with winter weather in late spring

This week we brought back many trailer loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime. The area in the courtyard behind the house received several wheelbarrows of the stuff. Long term readers will recall that the rock wall in the courtyard had recently been moved. And now a person would be hard pressed to recall where the old rock wall had been.

Corrections to the rock wall in the courtyard behind the house are now complete

The path up above the house leading from the driveway and onto the new garden terrace project was extended by a few metres.

The path up above the house was extended by a few metres this week

And we’ve begun placing a layer of the crushed rock with lime over the clay surface of the path in the photo above. So far two cubic metres (2.6 cubic yards) of the material has been placed over the clay. The rock path surface provides for an all weather surface, unlike the clay which can get very muddy if wet.

The author walks upon the new all weather surface of the path above the house

Two gates have been installed at either end of the new lower garden terrace. The fencing has to take place soon because the weather is becoming warmer and the tomatoes may soon germinate. Without the fencing, the local wildlife will feast upon the seedlings.

A gate on the western side of the lower terrace was installed
Another gate has been installed on the eastern end of the lower garden terrace

Another step and ramp was constructed on the set of concrete stairs leading from the lower garden terrace to the middle garden terrace where the roses grow.

Another stair step was constructed on the stairs leading from the lower to the middle garden terrace

The above photo puts the new garden terraces and path project into perspective.

Produce update:

I am very excited at the possibilities for the Strawberry season this year. The plants have been fed and weeded, and now all that remains is regular watering and harvesting. So far this season, I have not watered these plants.

The Strawberries are growing fast now – and so far I have not watered them

The final few Daffodils are now hiding in among some rapidly developing black currants. We grow a lot of Black and Red Currants and use the berries to produce a very tasty wine.

The last of the seasons Daffodils hide among some Black Currants

Onto the flowers:

The Rhododendron flowers are prolific
And Rhododendrons also happily grow and flower in the drip line of the huge Eucalyptus trees
However, Rhododendrons are equally happy in the middle of the orchard
Chilogottis valida or otherwise known as the Common Bird-orchid
Tetratheca ciliata or otherwise known as Pink Bells
Gazania flowers appreciate the hot weather earlier in the week
The Lavender is prolific and beautiful

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 617.2mm (24.3 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 614.2mm (24.2 inches).

74 thoughts on “The Wrong One”

  1. Chris,

    Speed up the soil improvement process? Starting with your clay or my sand, there is no fast process. It only takes a year or two of inadequate addition of organic material to ruin the soil, but building up the soil takes years. If I ever discover a shortcut, I’ll let you know. I’ve tried many things and have yet to find a shorter process.

    I enjoyed the hikes when I was hiking with dad, by myself, with friends. They were fun at the time and are wonderful memories.

    So the drunk dog humped your shoe? That’s seriously funny. My uncle had a dog that liked to drag its blanket into the dining area, plop it onto the floor at auntie’s feet, and proceed to hump the blanket. It drove auntie nuts, which is likely why the dog did it in front of her.

    Jeepers! 3 hours of mixed rain and snow yesterday, falling sort of sideways like in the wind. The cold is now settling in. But, the winter forecast is still for warmer than average. Not that I’m believing the forecast.

    Like you, I much prefer treating people politely. My remaining calm is the only way in which another person can rectify a wrong of their doing but still maintain some dignity. Publicly humiliating someone might make you feel good, but it leaves a bad taste in everybody’s mouth. With the recent case of the contractors trying to cut corners, well, they knew that I knew that they were in the wrong, I had the upper hand legally, so it would have served no purpose to have rubbed their noses in it. Sun Tzu had it right.

    “A Scritchy / Ollie Vulcan bum-mind meld is performed on a particularly cold day last week”. Fortunately I had swallowed my beer before I read that one. But the picture does require a question: did Ollie awaken with a bad case of butt breath? Although I think the dogs are smarter than humans. They have enough sense to stay in and sleep through the bad weather.

    Good job with the rock wall corrections. It looks like that’s the way it was always supposed to look.

    Your flowers are looking good. Lavender is one of my favorites. We’ve got some at a sunny corner of the house and enjoy the blooms and the fragrance.


  2. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the Bayeux Tapestry link. One mystery solved, many more to go with the tapestry.


  3. Yo, Chris – Well, I guess if the actress Betty White can lapse into the occasional bought of potty mouth, we can cut you a bit of slack. :-). Always nice to have two versions of a story. You can trot out one, or the other, depending on your audience.

    I think I would, on being confronted with the chef, said something like, “We eat here often, and this just isn’t up to your usual excellent and high standards.” Or, some such.

    Ah, the old Vulcan bum-mind meld. I think I detect the growth of Vulcan ears. Or, is that just trying on a bit of Halloween costume? Cultural appropriation! Not that I am a Vulcan, nor have a Vulcan counted among my best friends (Some of my best friends are…). I’d think a Vulcan would be rather above such nonsense. Well, the canine collective just missed out on a rather spectacular rainbow.

    The changes to the courtyard make it look like you could throw a dance, there. “Half a meter, half a meter, half a meter onward, into the valley of death rode … “Opps! Lapsed into the Charge of the Light Brigade. (Is there a heavy brigade?)
    You could color the path yellow. Yellow brick road, and all that. Well, you DO live in Oz. By some reports. Just this side of Middle Earth.

    West gate, east gate. Sounds like a Roman military encampment. Or, a bastile? :-). With all the steps, ramps, paths and dance floors, you’re going to have to issue a map. With comfort stations, indicated.

    The strawberries look promising. Maybe plump them up, with a drink? Au revoir, daffodils. Bonjour, currents. Is there a not so common, Bird-orchid? A very special Bird-orchid? Inquiring minds want to know. The Gazania is a real splash of color. If you like that sort of thing :-). Way too exciting for my patch. Might cause fits. Looks like it’s really a good year for Rhododendrons. Pity they don’t come in blue.

    Well, I mucked about in the garden, a bit today. Buried a sack of kitchen scraps. Dug some potatoes. Hacked back and mulched the tops of the Jerusalem artichokes. Hacked back quit a bit of the Bachelor buttons, but didn’t mulch them. They’re invasive enough, as it is. Pruned back quit a bit of the horseradish. The temperatures are getting low enough, that they’re getting pretty droopy. Repaired a bit of deer fence.

    Going by Professor Mass, looks like the west coast is in for some bad weather. We’re on the fringe of it, so pretty much well out of it. If it gets really cold here, it’s an outbreak out of the Frasier River Valley, up in British Columbia. This is a huge outbreak from the interior of Canada, moving SW. California may get extreme winds and there may be hurricane force winds, in the Columbia River Gorge. I see my friends over in Idaho may get down to 8F (-13.33C) on Tuesday night.

    But here, we only have forecasts for sunny days, and temps in the upper 20’s, for the next week. Of course, everything could turn on a dime.

    Well, I’m about to make up a big plate of shrimp nachos, and settle in to watch “Night of the Hunter.” Hope it’s as good as I remember it. Lew

  4. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for the nixtamalization process and that sounds about right. Simmering food for 5.5 hours is definitely a winter process down here and also possibly involving the wood heater (there is no way I’d do that using natural gas and/or solar electricity). I’ll be very interested to hear how your experiment goes, but I’m finally understanding that corn changes to starch as it is kept and must be treated prior to consumption. Clearly I’m going to have to investigate this matter further and re-read my Gene Logsdon book on grains. Incidentally your description reminded me of a grafting course I went on a year or two back with an old timer orchardist. He mentioned that wood cuttings would take in sand, they just required 6 hours of watering. I might struggle providing that much water… It has always interested me that the fruit wood actually could take and produce root systems under such conditions if only because it makes you wonder what climactic conditions in the past the trees have had to deal with in order to produce that particular adaptation?

    Thanks very much and I am drooling looking at those extraordinary hand milling machines. Great stuff and thanks for the tip.

    And yes, autumn is doing a rapid disappearing act down here too. I suspect that summer has eaten part of autumn, but I only have my own dodgy memories to call upon. Snow is not so bad – says he for whom it is a once a year and very exciting event! This winter was colder than previous years and we burned through a bit more of the firewood reserves than in previous years.



  5. Hi Inge,

    Oh my. You win the coveted award for ‘managing to completely shock me’. I had no idea that such things went on with bales. Having read about the matter further I feel rather uncomfortable, and the breezy dismissals of concerns regarding soil mineral loss made me feel even more uncomfortable.

    I raise a glass to toast the “pernickety and logical” people of this world! 🙂 Like you, I have no family history of such conditions, but all the same, exactly like you I too have noted minor deterioration of the mental faculties over the long years. All the same, I reckon we punch above our weight in such matters. However, I may note that the average, with which a sensitive person can compare, is not good and could stand a bit of extra work. 😉 Having said that though, I rarely fall for the trap of underestimating people, because that would be a major and rather foolish error. Years ago I knew a bloke who was to be fair a bit thick, but he had rat cunning like you wouldn’t believe and when he displayed it, the display shocked me out of my complacency.

    As a comparison, the rain down this way has slowed but not yet abated – which I’m very grateful for. So far I have not watered any crops. Glad that the water table is recharging on your island.



  6. Hi Damo,

    Total respect for your: ‘think and act local’ perspective with the Delorean. I actually know a mechanic who would probably love to, and could work on one of those beasts. I can almost hear the conversation they’d have with the owner: “Yeah, we can work on the car, but it’s gonna cost you”. Yup, classic cars are a wealthy dudes game.

    It makes you wonder how many people would recognise such a vehicle nowadays anyway?

    Have I mentioned to you before that you live in a city with a very nice climate? Just for your comparison, Melbourne is meant to have the following temperatures for the next few days: 30’C, 26’C, 33’C, 34’C, before a day of windy with showers reduces the heat to 24’C. Welcome to summer!

    Thank you very much for your understanding. As you’ve quite rightly pointed out before, and I may quote you here: The struggle is real! I really love that quote! Far out mate, it was a total wasted fooding opportunity, and they are so few and far between, except for the next meal! 🙂 Not to worry for us though as we filled up at a nearby traditional Italian gelato shop. Oooo, they’re good. But yeah, the dinner itself was seriously a walk-away-from-complete-disaster. A shame because normally the place hits such high notes. Perhaps one must deal with the low notes as well as the high notes in life? Dunno, but there is a story in there somewhere?



  7. Hi DJ,

    Thanks and the outcome from your experiments over the years confirms what I too have experienced with the soil experiments here. Ain’t nothing you can do about it. This year I added two 35kg bags of Dynamic Lifter onto the new garden terraces. The stuff is an organic fertiliser with a full spectrum of minerals which is as good as you’d imagine and yeah, I still reckon it just won’t speed the process up and it will continue to take three years to produce good soil there. Oh well.

    I hear you about the hikes and years ago the editor and I did: The Great South West Walk over about five or six days and it was amazing to be dropped out in the middle of nowhere and just walk all day long and then get up the next day and continue to do so. As you’d imagine we slept well, and by the end of the walk I was very sick of chocolate bars… Stunning scenery though and I doubt we encountered another soul for the entire walk. My pack was basically food, water and shelter and weighed in over 24kg, so it was a relief to put it down at the end of the day. How the military cope with even heavier equipment and are expected to fight is a story that is lost on me.

    Old fluffy the former boss dog was a real character, and it was her that converted me into being appreciative of canines. We were good mates, and I was gutted when I had to finally put her to sleep. And oh yeah, dogs can let you know when they are not getting enough attention or feel that they are being left out of what the rest of the pack is doing.

    Snow already? Brr, such words are making me feel cold. I mentioned the forecast for the next few days here in my reply to Damo. That is fairly normal for this time of year.

    Exactly, there is little to be gained by the act of public humiliation and more to be lost. And leaving an ‘out’ is always wise so as not to escalate tensions and face an opponent with nothing to lose. Such opponents fight beyond their use-by date.

    Who knows about the breath because dogs eat mysterious meals, and this lot would not starve if I suddenly disappeared from the scene. Hehe!

    Thanks! 🙂 How does your lavender cope with the snow? I reckon they’re pretty cold hardy and they shrugged off the snow here just fine, but that was only a single day.



  8. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, watching the process surrounding the lime kilns was fascinating and I took mental note as to how the kilns were constructed and the process behind it all. I did note that the two young and hands-on archaeologists used coal between the layers of lime. And I was also wondering how the coal and lime arrived on scene in the first place. But yeah, it would be wood ash (or charcoal) here, and the indigenous folks were pretty handy with producing the stuff as a wide-scale applied fertiliser on the land. All very clever and very methodical. The locals these days would however, not approve!

    Well not all edible plants require lime, and many plants which originated from forest edge environments – such as potatoes and tomatoes, would not appreciate additions of lime. Forest edge soils are normally acidic. Didn’t know that about pumpkin, but it makes sense given it is a vine.

    Hehe! Yeah, the local indigenous folks were trading the axes with other folks several thousand kilometres away. Fancy that huh? 🙂 And the story of the boss in the quarry making to order was what you’d sort of expect. There is a tendency to believe that the way things are done in civilisation today is the best way. That ain’t always so.

    Ouch. Yup, the contaminated-waste-combined-bins are a problem down here too. And mate, plastic is everywhere and I can’t escape the stuff. It is bonkers. Ooo! Almost forgot to mention, but the composted woody mulch is back – although was the disruption a temporary thing?

    Eggnog ice cream is very tasty if it tastes anything like the drink, and just the thing for a cold winters evening. It is a pleasure to read that the patterns have aligned with your score of pumpkin ice cream and that now all is right with the world. Top score too! Yeah, that creeping inflation happens down here too, but it can also appear in a reduced quality of produce. A lot of people and animals have gut issues these days and that must mean something about the food that they are consuming? I have too much of an interest in food for such things.

    Oh yeah, people are getting tired and distracted down here too at this time of year. There must be something in the water?

    Going to be weird without too much detail!!! That is the funniest thing I’ve read all day. 🙂 I could rip the same pithy observation and apply it to the climate here too! Hehe!

    A good time was had by all, and I really enjoy the group and they are a bunch of really lovely people.

    Yup, I still don’t have an air conditioner in the house. I must be bonkers to sacrifice when everyone else is so busy having a party and being comfortable.

    Can’t believe that part of the riddle of the Bayeux tapestry has been resolved. And I feel I must add that I’m rather relieved to read that the simplest explanation fit the facts and has been accepted – for now.

    Incidentally, you are learning my patterns! Nice one! 🙂 I’m yet to watch the Northumberland video yet – something, something about only so many hours in the day… Is this slack? Maybe. The word for the fortified residence was quite interesting and the derivation you suggested is most likely correct. And yes, soil minerals are precious. I wonder what the lady of the household did with the 300 years of accumulated muck. Downstairs was never intended to be lived in, although the animals escaped the winter in such a place – and did their business on straw, all of which was used to fertilise the paddocks in the spring…

    Thanks for mentioning the film and I’ll check it out after replying tonight. One of our notorious serial killers just died behind bars over the last day or so. By all accounts, he was something of a piece of work.

    Hehe! Yup, Betty White is an accomplished actor and I recall her from the film: The Proposal. And she was a hoot of a character! The first story this week could be best described as: “Don’t let the truth stand in the way of a good story”. I dug deep to recall what horrid things people have done in similar situations. The truth was that I saw no reason to burn a bridge at the restaurant, they just had a single off night. It happens and we can’t kick goals all of the time. There is an unfortunate tendency in society to judge people as being only as good as their last showing – and that is a rough way to treat people. Of course there are some mistakes that are unforgiveable sins and I once ate a hippy cafe where I came down with really serious food poisoning and was out of action for two days. Haven’t been back there, that’s for sure.

    Fair enough, your observation is a fair way to handle the situation.

    Hehe! Don’t you reckon Vulcan’s for friends would make for awkward conversation? You and I would be trading witty banter at a rapid fire rate, and they’d look at you and I with ever the slightest signs of disapproval on their Vulcan faces and then quip: “I am not amused”. What would amuse them, that is the question that is not being asked here? 🙂 The fluffies are more sensible than I because I worked outside in the sun on an 86’F day and whilst I got a lot of work done, I did have a mild headache at the end of it all. Thank the Gods for Gatorade – that is my motto. I still carried the headache to bed but there is only so much water a person can drink on such a hot day of activity. Something about diluting salts in the body and early stages of heat exhaustion.

    Hehe! In OZ by the side of Middle Earth. And it’s all true… Told you about the witty banter! Hehe! You are on fire tonight. Respect.

    I’m unsure that I’d want to face a heavy cavalry, although they were (excuse the pun) trotted out in WWI and suffered greatly in Europe. The light brigade from down under was in the Middle East and you’d hope they knew where the water points were. I’m reading chapter XXIII and the young Arthur got a good lesson in wasting lives recklessly at the disastrous battle in Ravenglass. Merlyn’s instructional speech was nothing short of brilliant. The English in WWI would have done well to recall such words.

    The map is not a bad idea.

    I can’t believe that a blackbird snuck into the strawberry enclosure today. We know where it got in and let’s just say that the fortifications are going to be further fortified. Yeah, I was wondering about the name of the orchid too, and I’d previously been calling them a spider orchid. Shows how much I know. From what I can see, they ain’t that common. Imagine a gazania causing your poor garden goddess to have a fit of the vapours? Surely you would feel responsible? And nope, no blue rhododendrons. To be candid, I’m a bit dodge about the claims regarding the blue rose. Did you ever track down one of them? It all sounds very mysterious and elusive.

    Far out! Exactly, enjoy your relatively warm weather and stay warm, and I do hope that the worst of the weather bypasses your part of the world, you never know. Brr! And I wouldn’t worry overly about the horseradish because the stuff is as tough as it comes. Have you harvested any of the roots yet? I love the stuff and can happily munch upon the roots. Warning: waves of brain pain ahead!

    How did you enjoy the film?



  9. Yo, Chris – Sometimes, prying stuff out of the internet is a chore. Another easy source of lime, for corn, is pickling lime. Food grade and not too expensive. But I think Claire’s method of using baking soda would be just as effective, easily accessed, and even less expensive. I just wonder if the nutritional bang, would be similar?

    I did a search for pickling lime, and corn. And found this …

    By the way, that’s the book I mentioned a couple of months ago. I got it from the library, but I think I’m going to have to buy a copy.

    That may be why my pumpkins didn’t do well, this year. I had sprinkled the area with a light dusting of lime and wood ash. Gosh, so much to know, and keep in mind! I was about to plop some garlic in, next to where I’ve been growing my green beans. To discover that garlic plays well with just about everything …. except peas and beans. So, I’ll have to rethink where to plant the garlic … or, the green beans. Working with such a cramped space, it’s hard to work out what and how to fertilize, in which places. You mentioned soil testing, to DJ. I think I mentioned that the Master Gardener walked me through a soil testing kit, last year. I’ll do the same test, in the spring. Our big box hardware store has the kits, fairly inexpensive.

    I had an odd thought, about plastic. I wonder if the crapification of plastic, is partially due to using more recycled plastics, in products? Less original chemical feed lot, and more recycled bits. Maybe, weaker bonds?

    I’m glad the composted woody mulch is back. But it does make one nervous. Will it disappear, again? I eat quit a bit of shiitake mushroom, and, once in awhile, it disappears. Or, the only thing available is the sliced, which is $2 more than the whole cap. Well, I happened to be checking out the oriental food section at the store, and stumbled across some cheap, packs of dried shiitake. I picked up a couple, to toss in the pantry, in case they disappear, again. But I don’t know what kind of a plan B you could come up with, for woody mulch.

    Too much interest in food? I suppose one could take it too far, but I think we’re both agreed that new varieties of plants, the the methods of processing have hit the nutritional value, hard.

    Slack? Anything but. Actually, they kept the animals downstairs, year round, due to the fine old tradition of cattle raiding, along the border. In winter, there was the added benefit of warmth from the animals. And, probably, a bit of warmth from fermenting cattle poo.

    Oh, I don’t think the Vulcan’s would say, “I am not amused.” That betrays too much emotion. Usually, you’d just get that skeptical, raised eyebrow. I can do that, by the way. Can’t remember why, but I used to practice that as a kid. Before Star Trek.

    Ooops! I’d better get back to “Fort at River’s Bend.” Quit a pile of books has washed up, next to my chair. I may have to perform triage.

    Oh, I think the Garden Goddess would love the Gazanias. It’s me, they would bother. All together too cheery.

    Well, last I heard, a true blue rose hadn’t been developed. But, a Japanese firm had bought an Australian firm, and they were working on it. But no results, yet. Years ago, I read an English mystery, about a couple that bought an old house, and found a true blue rose, in the garden. Very bad people kept trying to steal it. Just to make things interesting, there was one problem with the rose. It was deadly poisonous.

    I watched “Night of the Hunter”, last night. Just as good as I remember it. But, I don’t know if I can freely recommend it, or not. There’s a lot of scenery chewing. And, some of the dialogue is pretty hooky. No sense looking at the trailer, as the marketing was so badly handled. But, it gives you a taste. Lew

  10. Chris,

    The Great Southwest Walk looks fascinating. Our rule of thumb for overnight Nordic skiing tris was to keep each backpack at about 30 pounds. This included food for 36 hours, overnight gear, tarps, a shovel to dig a snow cave, changes of clothes. I got my kit down to 33 pounds once. The first year was 42 pounds and that was too heavy. However, were we to be gone for 5 to 7 days, I could easily see a 50 pound pack and a much slower pace. Oh, and water was never an issue, as it is easy to melt snow.

    When a dog wants attention, the dog gets attention. That’s my observation. Rakhi the Samoyed had a unique way of getting attention when she was indoors. She’d disappear and suddenly reappear slinking in front of the tv while carrying a slipper or a sock, very gingerly handling the clothing. All of the doors where there was clothing were shut tightly. I finally caught her somehow noiselessly opening a door, obtaining a sock, then closing the door silently. She was one smart dog.

    We had the two earlier snows this season that set accumulation records for those days. (Meaning that snow accumulated.) Much too early. More flurries this afternoon with the Alberta Clipper blowing in. (That’s the local “scientific” name for this type of cold front.) Temperatures to about -10C for a couple of nights, but wind chills are -18C right now and will dip lower until the wind dies down after midnight. I brought 2 containers of carrots inside and moved the 3rd where it will be sheltered. Harvest tomorrow after work. This is too early for this type of cold, but does happen sometimes.

    The lavender does fine. It is near the house, but I don’t think that matters too much with this variety.

    Lew was on a roll with his comments, wasn’t he? I needed the laughs. I was working on the spoon I’m carving for the Princess and an intricate part broke into multiple pieces. I was NOT happy, got some laughs from Lew’s comments and figured out how to change the design. So all is not lost.


  11. Hello Chris
    It is not just what one says, ones expression at the time is important too. I would probably have said ‘Not up to your usual high standard I’m afraid’ with a sympathetic and caring expression on my face.
    Oh yes I agree; be very careful when you assume that someone is thick. I have a ‘thick’ friend who can read the intent of any human being, she is almost uncanny. I guess that the potential for survival comes in many forms.
    Temperature went down to 34F the night before last brr.


  12. Hi DJ,

    Those sorts of pack weights sound very sensible. Your only issue with melting the snow was to ensure that you avoided the yellow snow… One of the good things about long walks is that the pack gets lighter as the walk goes on in time. It is still a slog though because you also get wearier but also stronger during the days. It’s complicated.

    Rahki the Samoyed would test the best systems. Far out, opening the door is one thing, but closing it is another thing altogether. They’re an intelligent breed, and I must add that there is very little to distinguish between a Samoyed and a Swedish Lapphund. Yes, I recall Sir Poopy’s wilfulness. Incidentally, Ollie can likewise open the front door when he needs to. The first day I had him here, I put him on the lead and kept him nearby where I was working. For a short moment I had to walk away from him, and I still don’t know how he did it, but he removed his lead (which was still attached to the post) and trundled over to me looking as pleased as Punch. It was at that moment that I just knew that he didn’t need or want the lead. Incidentally, he accepts the lead with good grace.

    Those temperatures are outside my understanding or experience. Mate, you’d hear me sooking from where you are when the thermometer drops to -2’C here, let alone those sorts of temperatures. Hehe! Good luck, and may the heater be with you. 😉 It was 31’C here today and I felt that it was all rather pleasant.

    Sorry to hear that the spoon was damaged, but at least we scored some serious laughs courtesy of Lewis’s excellent comedic talents! Have you worked around the damage or will you go back to the drawing board?



  13. Hi Inge,

    Too true, and I did put on a ‘these things happen and I accept that’ face for the chef, but after receiving the feedback, she turned and walked away from me, which I was not entirely comfortable with. In the big bad corporate world I learned a trick when dealing criticism out to staff. I can’t quite recall where I learned the trick, but it goes like this: positive – negative – positive, and it usually works. That translates to providing positive feedback (i.e. we’ve enjoyed many fine meals from you in the past) + negative feedback (i.e. the meal was a bit shit) + positive feedback (i.e. however, no hard feelings and I’ll pay for the meal and we’ll be back in the future).

    I discovered when managing teams, and much to my sense of endless fascination, that people are no longer raised to deal with and accommodate into their world view even minor criticisms. It is a bit bonkers really because nobody gets everything right, and I tell you I stuff up more than my fair share of things, but I absorb that feedback, cogitate upon the accuracy of the claim, and move on.

    Exactly, I could not have put it better. And yes, I do not underestimate people, because ‘rat cunning’ has very little to do with the passing of official tests. I’d be curious as to your opinion, but I’ve noted that survival often involves looking for alternative paths when more intelligent folks get stuck in ruts of thought.

    Brr indeed! 87’F here today and it felt quite nice to me. Plants are growing in the heat. This Saturday looks set to dump some rain over the farm too.

    As our resident heavy weight economist, I am also curious as to your thoughts on this next matter. The Reserve Bank down here recently dropped official interest rates – twice in quick succession. My brain twigged as to the reason for this mysterious action, although I have not read or heard of this explanation anywhere: Many of the interest only loans are due to be converted from interest only to interest and principal. A few years ago about 40% of the loans issued were interest only and they are for a fixed period of time (due to conversion of the loans into bonds which are on sold by the banks). With them ready to be converted, without the interest rate dropping, the loan holders would not be able to afford the repayments if the loans were converted to interest and principal. The subsequent mass sale of house would mean that supply exceeded demand and you know what happens then… I reckon I’m onto something here?



  14. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for mentioning the pickling lime and I have no doubts that the stuff would work. There is even a local supplier (Melbourne at least). There are few if any local sources of lime (and I’m not much interested in ripping up the paths and burning them at this stage), so I’ll experiment with wood ash and produce lye and then use that. By all accounts that is the tastiest method of Nixtamalization for the western palate. I sometimes feel that cooking is several parts art and many other parts science. And sometimes you just have to bow your head in acknowledgement of the sheer observational genius of our forebears for working out this stuff in the first place. And how few people these days know anything at all about it. I occasionally have remarked to the editor that ‘germ theory’ will be one of those things that may get lost in the future.

    The mother earth news article was very good, and I have added the book to the get list. 😉 You’re a bad influence my friend, my mum said so, and she should know. Hehe!

    I find that too, and there is an awful lot to know. Sometimes I liken it to having to be able to recall the story of a particular plant – and the story involves knowing how it is germinated, all the way through to harvesting the produce, and then trying to preserve the stuff. I appear to have accidentally killed my decade old Eureka lemon tree as it now has what is known as ‘collar rot’ and is now in the slow process of dying. I have learned from this error and am already developing plans to sort it all out with a new tree. A little critter caused the problem, and it is not a fungi, but it is a critter that has fungi like attributes. The critter is either: Phytophthora citrophthora or Phytophthora nicotianae. Oh well, lesson learned and I’ll move on.

    Oh, yeah, you might be spot on about the lower quality feed-stocks and plastic. What a thought, but it is an issue that affects metals, so who knows what goes on at such minute levels?

    Exactly and I am indeed nervous about the composted woody mulch situation. The business had a delivery in the past few days, but 2/5ths of the delivery has since been sold, so I’ll have to err, get a wriggle on with bringing more of the stuff up here. The editor still believes that the shortage is due to co-mingling of food scraps into green waste in the big smoke thus producing a lack of product. They know not what they do, because it takes far longer to compost the resulting product than simple composted woody mulch. I’m unsure that there is a plan B for this stuff, but I’ll begin looking around – and soon.

    Mate, last night you were full of humour, and tonight you’re batting the ball out of the park with your astute obersvations. I hear a lot of talk about people suffering from ‘gut issues’ and surely that situation must originate with the very food that is consumed in many of those situations?

    Told ya so. That thought about keeping the animals inside so as to reduce the effect of raiders was something that had not occurred to me. Mind you, I keep little in the way of livestock and instead focus on plants. It is not fashionable as most people prefer to raise animals. Not sure why. I read an interesting article the other day on a bloke that negotiates and then manages the ‘bee pollination trade’ down here. He’s getting older that bloke and there was talk in the article about handing the business on to his sons, but if they’re not working in the business now, I do struggle to understand how they might change their minds in the future, but one can only hope I guess? ‘Like trying to round up cats on a horse’: Is bee broking the toughest job in agriculture?

    Yeah, I ripped that line from a regent of many years ago. It is a good line and yeah, the Vulcan’s would never stoop so low as to admit feelings of any sort on the matter. A raised eyebrow can indicate a quizzical state of mind and also raising the question as to the sanity of the person talking so much rubbish. Or do you feel that it represented a more cynical state of mind? Gene may have pinched your style and applied it to the Vulcans – you never know? Not to say that I was wearing skivvies well before the now deceased Steve Jobs, but you know I wasn’t smart enough to trademark the look. Sometimes you win some things and other times ya just luck out!

    At the rate you read, you will surely overtake me within, maybe an hour or so? I never learned the trick of speed reading as I really like to savour every word of the author. It is a weakness.

    Hehe! I’m unsure the Gazania’s would cope too well with your winters, so there is no fear of confronting them in the garden.

    What a great story. The couple can have the blue rose, as can all other comers, but the ultimate cost of theft of the rose would be the persons health and life. Both a blessing and a curse. What a complicated world it is that we dwell in.

    I shall check it out and glad to hear that you enjoyed the film. I intend to go and see Zombieland 2 next week at the cinema. I could be disappointed, but Woody usually puts on a good show.



  15. Hello esteemed host, Editor and everyone.

    Very funny.

    I recently had to eat possibly the worst meal of my life (excepting ‘experiments’ made by my mother and my own as a student), which was rendered unbearable as an Iranian friend had decided to make me her guest for the evening, pronouncing ‘Do me a favour’ as I sat down, meaning in the Middle East ‘I’ll pay, this is special’.

    Pie and chips seemed safe, but the pie wasn’t a pie, the contents ambiguous, and the chips were atrocious, utterly soggy things. There is NO excuse for chips like that. Unusually for southern England it was a plate well-piled. Mountainous….

    So, I had to work my way through until I could claim to be ‘totally stuffed’, feign incapacity to deal with any more, and give up without hurting her feelings.

    ‘I’m stoffed too! You get so much here, I love it!’ removed all possibility of complaint…..

    The place was packed, and confirmed that you can serve people rubbish, but just make it the right kind of rubbish:you get so much there, what value!’ etc.

    Life in catering is awful on the whole, and having – unfairly – spoken angrily to someone once long ago, I never would again unless somewhere very expensive and pretentious – which I am too poor to go to now and then only the owner or ‘genius chef’.

    I do an occasional bum-mind meld with Sancho the spaniel, which I believe improves my intellect., not sure about his.

    But I get my revenge by using him as a pillow sometimes, and he is a great foot-warmer, so we are equal, I think…..

    All the best


  16. @ all
    Has anyone read ‘The Broker’ by John Grisham? I consider him to be an uneven writer, some books good some bad. This is the best of his that I have read. However it is extremely complicated and, for the first time ever with a work of fiction, I have gone straight back, after finishing it, to read it for a second time. Nearing the end I am considering a third read. This does sound quite ridiculous and I have read carefully on this second read. So I am wondering how anyone else may have managed.


  17. Yo, Chris – Before I forget, Damo and you were talking about DeLorean cars. As you know, I could care less about cars … but I noticed a film that came out on DVD in early October. “Framing John DeLorean.” Not anything I’m interested in, but you blokes might find it interesting.

    Well, as you probably know, making lye can be a pretty risky business. I got a kick out of how the fellows in the Goodman film pieced together a hazo suit out of Edwardian odds and ends. Looked very Steam Punk. Well, if you make a batch of lye, you can do the corn, and experiment with soap.

    Interesting how easy it is to create poison gas, in the kitchen. While reading about drying hot peppers, there was a warning that if you did them in an electric dehydrator, it better be well vented.

    I finished the Ruth Goodman book, “How to Be a Tudor”, last night. She had a section on how they made malt for ale. Boy, that was a long, intricate process. And so many things could go wrong.

    R.I.P. Eureka lemon. Did I mention, so many things can go wrong?

    Astute. Does sound like a digestive problem. Maybe if I got more roughage, in my diet? :-).

    Trucking bees around, seems like a really fragile system. They do the same here.

    Here it is: “The Blue Rose: An English Garden Mystery” (Eglin, 2005). I don’t read all that many mysteries, but couldn’t resist the title. He wrote five other garden mysteries. I think I read one or two other ones. They were pretty good, as I remember.

    I watched some of the on-line trailers, for “Night of the Hunter.” They really don’t catch the essence of the film.

    Well, it got down to 30F (-1.11C), last night. Not as low as forecast. It will be cool nights, until the rain comes back. Lew

  18. Hello again
    I agree that survival can depend on the ability to find alternative paths but think that this ability has more to do with personality than with intelligence. I have known many people with extremely high IQs on tests whose interests range widely, their focus is not necessarily narrow.
    ‘Heavy weight economist’! I hope that you are teasing. Finance interests me but economics is a fantasy game.
    Interest only loans are horrendous things especially if they are for a fixed time. We can’t have house prices falling can we? Oh dear oh dear. I vaguely remember seeing something about interest only mortgages being phased out here. House prices are falling in London.


  19. Hi Chris and Lew,

    I tried the nixtamalization recipe I posted, with baking soda, a couple of days ago. I may have boiled the corn too long as the hulls seem to have disintegrated. The product has the taste of tortillas rather than corn on the cob, so I think the process did what it was supposed to do chemically. However, it does seem to have the bitter off-taste mentioned in the Mother Earth article (thanks for the link, Lew; I’ll be getting the book too). Also, because I used the blue dent corn that I grow, it has a rather off-putting tannish-brownish color. I’ll be trying it the book’s way the next time.

    Actually, the book got the term for the lime wrong. It’s slaked lime, not slack lime. Another of those chemistry things.

    We are supposed to have cold rain tomorrow and maybe some snow and freezing rain by Thursday morning. Then a hard freeze Friday morning to kill the tropical plants. It won’t be cold enough to kill the turnips, radishes, mustard greens, leeks, or beets, however.


  20. Greetings Xabier and Sancho also known as Sancho the comfortable,

    Oh no! Soggy chips and unknown pie contents. A truly horrendous affair, and you have my sympathies at the forsoothed lost fooding opportunity. It takes a certain sort of prowess in the kitchen to truly stuff up chips, but it can happen. However, my curiosity was piqued by the mere mention of ambiguous pie contents. So many things can go wrong there my friend. Down here we have laws specifying the minimum offal content of pies, and there are times these laws may need to be enforced. Of course, it is unclear as to whether the contents of the pie were vegetarian, and my best guess in that direction is that the contents were primarily over cooked split green peas. I can assure you that all of the green stuff was rinsed out in the over cooking process and dumped down the drain. That’s how they did things when I was a kid, when vegetables were real vegetables and the cooking of them ensured that there was little real minerals left over.

    I tend to avoid such places that over supply a meal, but at the same time produce such low quality outcomes. There is balance in there to be found, but other people generally enjoy the larger serving sizes. It happens. A long while ago I had a mate who used to pit himself against the challenge that was an all you can eat buffet. It was not a pretty sight.

    On the other hand, a night out with friends is a fine thing, and I hope the conversation made up for the food.

    Yeah and exactly, I too avoid high end restaurants. Such places are not for the likes of you and I. And inevitably I feel like a fish out of water at such places – and why pay for that experience?

    Sancho is a canine of the highest order, and no doubt the meld assisted with his err, canine brain activities. Anyway, that is the word on the street… 🙂



  21. Hi Lewis,

    I loved the title of the Delorean film. It set the tone and direction of the story before I’d even checked out the trailer. At least with the film Zombieland 2, I know that I’ll see at least two zombies in the 99 minutes of screening. 😉 Wasn’t the bloke convicted for bringing in huge loads of drugs which were used to fund production of the vehicles? There is an old song down here which I doubt had airplay in your part of the world and it was titled: “Beautiful People” by the band “Australian Crawl” (a swimming reference by the way). Anyway, it’s an ironic song, and you won’t understand a single word the lead singer is singing, but at the same time it was a very popular song back in the day. Sorry, I digress, the reason for mentioning the song is that one of the lines was a reference to a “Cocaine Car”. I dare you to listen to the song and tell me that you could follow the lyrics… Oh, and car production is a very expensive business, just ask Elon Musk. 😉 Ideas are one thing, engineering and mass production are an entirely different matter.

    We’ve made a fair bit of soap over the years, and the caustic solution is no laughing matter. I’m impressed that somebody discovered the soap making process in the first place. It would take a lot of accidental and fortuitous discoveries to line up. I was pretty impressed with the archaeologists head gear too, especially with the little round goggles. Those two were really good, I’m going to have to get my hands on the series (or books? Which would you recommend?) as I believe I would enjoy it. I assume that they produced a Victorian era show too?

    Picked up a number of seedlings today. I did an experiment last year and discovered that the seed produced plants outperformed the seedlings, but it is always best to hedge ones bets and anyway, it is always a good shot in the arm for a bit of extra genetic diversity. I couldn’t buy any chili seedlings as they only had very hot and crazy stupid seriously out of control hot varieties – and the editor would not be pleased – or amused. The seeds probably need to be started outside over the next few days.

    Oh yeah. Did I ever mention the time I walked into a Mexican restaurant and some customer emptied the place because they added hot chili’s to a metal griddle, and it was like walking into a wall of capsicum / pepper spray. The owner of the business was pretty annoyed, and we walked in – and then walked out again, with tears.

    Ales are hard to make because the alcohol percentage is low and other critters can take advantage of the sugars. Wines are easier because they’re higher alcohol percentage and there are far fewer critters that can take that level of toxicity. This is the main problem with our sake making, in that it requires a level of exactness that is perhaps not our forte – but we’re getting reasonably consistent. But mash, yup it is a drama. I have a strong suspicion that the old timers used to produce the stuff at certain times of the year when the weather (hence air temperatures) were just right. There is an awful lot on modern techniques, and most of them involve serious chemicals to sterilise the equipment and kill the fermentation, but I feel that that story is taking things several steps too far. I am not a fan of the preservatives used by commercial brewers, but I do sympathise with their plight. We use no preservatives, so the culture is still more or less alive upon consumption. I reckon a lot of problems are caused in our food systems through over use of preservatives. The word sounds innocuous, but they really are a form of poison.

    You have mentioned that before, and it is a good point. I’m going to hack the lemon tree out soon and I’ll have to burn it off. And I won’t be able to plant another citrus in that location. It is too wet.

    The whole bee arrangements are a bit of a problem. The poor bees have to consume nothing but almond pollen and nectar for weeks. And the trucking thing, well I just don’t get it at all. If the almond growers grew other plants, then the bees would have something to eat for the rest of the growing season, and then they wouldn’t have to be trucked in for pollination services. The way we do some things in agriculture doesn’t make a lot of sense in a resource and energy constrained future. Even small reductions in the available energy may cause a lot of problems.

    Thanks for the sneaky book recommendation. Lewis, lead me not into temptation for I am weak and have the tendency of a bibliophile. You know about collectors…

    A bit of a shame that the trailers were so rubbish. I note that the film receives high praise in retrospect.

    Toasty warm here today and I just had to move out of the hot sun which had swung around and was beginning to cook my back.



  22. Hi Inge,

    Fascinating – and another book referral! 😉 I have likewise enjoyed books that much, and if I was mildly uncertain of what I’d just read and wanted to relive the enjoyment of the story, I’d delve back into that fictional world (or non fiction work), I wouldn’t hesitate doing a re-read. I did exactly that after reading William Catton Jr’s most astounding book :”Overshoot”. What a read.

    I agree with you and also feel that it may be more of a personality matter than anything to do with intelligence. People have long since wandered all over this planet of ours, so it must take some trait to up sticks and move away from ones forebears. Oh yeah, I didn’t really draw the conclusion that people with high IQ’s also must have focused interests. Or did I inadvertently? Not sure.

    No I wasn’t teasing at all, you always have interesting things to say about this shared interest. The interest only loans thing is our Big Short I’m guessing. The two recent un-sought for interest rate drops speak to that story, if only because I have no idea why they took place. Unless the government intends to go on a massive spending spree all based on debt? Dunno. And yes, I feel that reality has slipped into the rear view mirror back in the 90’s when choices were made. The interest rate drops have spooked people, and they do talk to me about their fears.

    House prices have to fall sooner or later, or the currency gets devalued in the real sense of the meaning and the monetary value of the things becomes a bit irrelevant.



  23. Hi Claire,

    Well done you for undertaking the experiment. There was some mention about the use of baking soda changing the flavour, but I’m not really sure as I try not to use the chemical because I don’t really like the flavour of it in the first place. I intend to try the process in late autumn next year, but I’ll use wood ash instead (very plentiful here). The book sounds excellent, so it is great that you too will read it and I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the subject.

    Never seen blue corn before. Most of the corn down here is either yellow, or the painted mountain variety – which is a multi-coloured variety. The genetic diversity of the plant in your part of the world is a true wonder from my perspective.

    Hehe! I too thought that it was slaked lime, but you have to admit slacked lime sounds kind of amusing and I just overlooked the word believing it was an American spelling (I often use Australian spelling in the blog and replies – which may look odd to your eyes? 🙂

    Ouch. It is hot as here today and I’m sitting outside typing away on a laptop in the shade with jeans and t-shirt and no shoes (but socks). I had to take my boots off as I was getting too warm. Hey, I picked up many varieties of seedlings today and am looking forward to getting them in the ground on maybe Saturday when there is a bit of rain forecast. Hope it is not too cold up your way.



  24. Hi, Chris

    Just thought I’d chime in about the Ruth Goodman books and videos. It started with a series called “Tales from the Green Valley” which was set on a Welsh farm that was being restored to the way it was in about 1600 AD. This is still my favourite. ( Incidentally, I was the first person in Australia to buy the DVD from England – the director sent me an email asking how I’d heard about it!)

    Then there is Victorian Farm, Edwardian Farm, Wartime Farm, Tudor Monastery Farm, and an entertaining short series called” Secrets of The Castle “, which is about Guedelon Castle, a mediaeval castle currently being built by volunteers in France.

    The videos are great to get the look and feel of the various times, and for the interaction of the cast. The books add a lot of detail and background information. So my take is – do both!

    As usual, I am gobsmacked by the amount of work you get through, and the terraces are a work of art. Yay for more woody mulch, long may it continue!

    Regards to the Editor, the Fluffy Collective and your good self.


  25. Hi, Chris!

    I thought you had lost your mind. I got so upset, it was so unlike you to have a tantrum. I am glad that you did not! However, you redeemed yourself with a worthy lesson in the story. I had a takeaway meal like that a while back. I could not eat it either.

    Wow – a sprinter (is that what you call it?) rainbow!

    There is no way that anyone could tell where the rock wall used to be. It is just lovely. The garden road is so great; I envy you the wideness.

    I wonder how many gates you have on the property now? And you are the consummate stairsmith; they look perfect.

    The rhodies are better than ever and what a work of art is that orchid. I can’t believe that lavender.


  26. Hi Chris et al,
    Had a little time this morning so thought I’d check in. Doug enjoyed your story about the restaurant experience as he was in the food business for most of his working years.

    We are leaving Charleston, South Carolina shortly and heading back to the Smoky Mountains as we missed much there because we had to get to the wedding. Unfortunately it’s supposed to be raining when we get there but there are some inside things to do. At home it is quite cold and there is accumulating snow expected so we are savoring the warm weather.


  27. @ Inge – I’ve read a bit of Grisham, but not “The Broker.” Your right. He is a bit uneven. But that reminds me, it’s time for my yearly re-read of “Skipping Christmas.” What a hoot. Lew

  28. @ Damo & Chris – If you think De Lorean is interesting, check out the Tucker, car. There’s an extensive Wikipedia entry. I haven’t seen the movie.

    The Northumberland rehab reminded me of a book. (Surprise, surprise.) Read it years, ago, but remember I quit enjoyed it. “Castles in the Air: The Restoration Adventures of Two Young Optimists and a Crumbling Old Mansion.” (Corbett, 2005). Young couple renos an old place in darkest Wales. Lew

  29. @ Hazel – I’ve seen all of Ruth Goodman’s “Farm” series. “Castle” and “Valley” are on my to do, list. There’s also a “Victorian Pharmacy.” I haven’t seen that, either.

    Oddly, I haven’t read any of the companion books. I’ll have to check my local library, to see if they have any of them. I have read her “How to Live Like a Victorian” and have just finished “How to Live Like a Tudor.”

    I love Ruth Goodman’s laugh. Or, is it more of a cackle? :-). That’s pretty exciting that the publisher got hold of you. Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – It got down to 25F (-3.88C), last night. As the sun’s not up, yet, it may bump down a couple more degrees. I’ll be scraping ice of my truck windows, this morning. :-).

    The section of Goodman’s on malting, was interesting. I never knew the difference between ale and beer. Might come in handy, some day. :-). Yup. Seems to be easier to screw up a batch of ale, than beer. I think you’re right. Lower alcohol content. First you lay out your grain on a clean floor. Keep it moist, but not too moist. Then you take your malt shovel (you DO have a malt shovel, don’t you?) and keep it turning, to keep the interior warm. It must sprout … but not too much. Etc. etc.. It was interesting that Goodman looked at will inventories, from an area, and could tell who was brewing, and how much. Based on the amount of equipment, they had, size of household, etc. etc.. And, if they made enough to sell on. Widows, with lots of brewing equipment, were probably running a small local. Passing it out a window, to old duffers sitting on a bench, up against the house wall.

    I spent a bit of time, planting some garlic, yesterday. It’s my test patch of elephant garlic. See what happens when I plant corms, rounds and cloves. They really do have a three year cycle. I turned the soil well, (rescuing a few stray potatoes, along the way) and mixed in alpaca poo, blood meal, and some well rotted leaves, from last year. I’m not going to plant my green beans, there, next year. But I will try a few test plants, to see if there’s anything in that “no beans or peas” next to the garlic, companion planting advice. I expect I might get a few volunteer potatoes and green beans, out of that patch, anyway. I’ve got more garlic, to plant. Lew

  31. Hi Chris,

    You might be surprised at the number of folks who would recognise the Delorean today. Although, no doubt the number is dropping. I was 8 years old when that movie came out, and still watch them from time to time. Apparently the producer of Back to the Future has heavily protected the rights which is why no one has done a remake yet. No doubt it will happen the second he dies (cue time travel conspiracy theory).

    Glad you like the “struggle is real”. I can’t take credit for it of course, but it feels good to use it either ironically, or seriously! And, a missed fooding opportunity is the real deal.

    Somewhat related to your faux dinner outrage, I had to push back on my landlord yesterday. He seemed to think it was alright to have a beer with his mate in our front yard (this is the second time it happened – but I let it slide the first time as he did give some notice for that visit – if not the beer). I decided it was prudent to wait till his friend left, then I politely, but firmly said he cannot not just rock up whenever he wants, and having strange people around for a beer is straight up rude and wrong. I also made a call to the real estate agent.

    Today, he called back all like, “that part of the property is not included in the lease”. I said the lease makes no mention of exclusion zones, and he can’t treat this place as a second home. Over the past 6 months, he comes around to check his shed, which we agreed at beginning was a long term storage for him, every other week. It was starting to wear a bit thin. You may recall this place is not exactly cheap, a bit of professional courtesy is not asking much. I don’t think he realises that during a lease, it is not his place anymore. Oh well, updates as they develop 🙂

    Lew – was the Tucker movie this one?:


  32. Chris,

    I understand the backpack complication. As the weight goes down, your tiredness level has increased. There’s a bit more to it, but I’ve been there, although not to the extreme you were. Although when a group of us climbed Mount Baker, our packs had to be heavier, as we had to be ready for bad winter weather even though it was summer. Even the day packs we carried from base camp were heavy.

    Ollie let you know that he will “tolerate” the lead but that he’s in charge. I tells you, dogs are the bosses and we’re their servants.

    So, we wound up with back to back nights at -11C. Monday winds had gusts to upwards of 70 Km per hour. A friend got hit by a blowing leaf and the leaf hurt his hand.

    The carrots I’d left out near the house, well, I had to chisel them out of the container. The containers I brought in are fine.

    The spoon? The Long-handled Welsh Love Spoon will have a short handle. At least the errors is salvageable.


  33. Hi Hazel,

    Well done you! And you neglected to mention the story as to how you were the first to encounter the books and videos so that you could import the DVD down under? OK, I am beyond intrigued by this series of books and videos. Hmm, something may have to be done about this. I was particularly interested in the Wartime and Victorian Farm series. And yes, why not reconstruct a medieval castle in France using volunteer labour – sounds like a great idea. And I thought that I occasionally reached for the stars! 🙂

    Hey, Sunday (or more likely the day before) will be good for new plantings in your part of the world. We intend to get all of the seeds and seedlings in tomorrow night so as to make the most of the heavy rain, but tomorrow during the day is going to be very hot. Anyway, it is just the thing to get the plants started. Before the sun had set tonight, we had to get the fencing in over the lower terrace where most of the summer crops will go (other than watermelon, and pumpkins). There is little point in feeding the local wildlife any more than they already enjoy.

    Thank you and the first rose flowers bloomed today in the heat. 🙂

    Regards and cheers to you and yours.


  34. Hi Pam,

    Well it is always possible that a person could wonder where their mind had gotten too? It is always a risk. 😉 Personally I always recommend checking to see whether the lost mind had fallen in between the little cracks in the pillows on the couch in the living room. As a minor back story, I often block the internet addresses of mischievous people, and so the statistics for the website (which only I can see) for the number of readers, are more or less accurate. Well, it wasn’t just you who were initially upset by this week’s story! I reckon I managed to shed about a quarter of the readership in one week. It is an impressive effort, and one that I’m sort of proud of. The upset folks add nothing to the ongoing dialogue here so the loss is of little consequence.

    Ah yes, a very wise move not to consume the take away meal. Yup, very wise and it is a good case of it seems wrong, it most likely is wrong. About a year ago I purchased a take away roast chicken and I couldn’t eat the scrawny looking roast thing because I just knew too much about the back story. Fortunately, the worms are far less fussy than I.

    Sprinter it is! And yeah, one benefit of distant views is the regular incidence of rainbows.

    Thank you. A lot of the infrastructure here is able to be re-located and is only semi-permanent. A few years ago I met a head gardener at a very up-market open garden in the area. I was fortunate to be introduced to the bloke by another local person that I knew and had only by sheer chance ran into at the open garden. The head gardener advised me to set up watering systems that were only semi-permanent, and I took the advice to heart. But it can just as easily apply to rock walls. Incidentally, we use an old timber rake handle to define the width of all of the paths so that they are consistent.

    As to the number of gates, all I can say is that the fencing around the new terrace project has not yet been completed, so the number maybe uncertain and fluctuate. And are doors to sheds actually also gates?

    The orchids are all over the shop this year, and the lavender is really nice isn’t it? We’re planning to grow cat mint under the roses as they are reputedly good companion plants.



  35. Hi Margaret,

    Hope you are enjoying your road trip and have also seen some interesting sights along the way. The National Parks you mentioned looked epic!

    Glad you are still here and are able to tap away on the old tablet device.

    Cool! Yeah, the story was pretty funny wasn’t it, unless you were the person faced with such behaviour. Glad Doug enjoyed the story too. 🙂 Only those that know, know! On a serious note, most of those comments I have overheard at various times over the years. I have this sort of belief that if a person intends to dine at a venue again in the future, it is best not to eat and poo in the same location, but you know people do what they do. A few years back I watched an intriguing CCTV of customer at a well known fast food business in your country, and the person was kicking up a storm at the drive through (something about nuggets and time apparently) and at one point they made the threat that they’d take their: “Ultimate Form”. It sounded as if they were possessed – like as in the Exorcist meaning of that word… Fortunately there was no incidence of pea soup, if only because that would have been messy and a real hassle to clean up.

    Hope the wedding was enjoyable. I enjoy attending weddings as long as all that is required of me is to attend and sing for my supper. 🙂 You’d think that the Smoky Mountains would be colder than your place! Far out, the weather has turned quickly in your part of the world. I can’t quite tell down here whether summer has become longer, or autumn has become shorter?

    I intend to get the summer crops in tomorrow evening as heavy rain is forecast.



  36. Hi, Chris

    I found out about the Green Valley video when I read an article in an English magazine. It looked fascinating, so I did a bit of detective work online, made sure that the format would work in Australia, then ordered direct from the production company. Of all the shows we were talking about, it is the only one that doesn’t have an accompanying book. It was made by a different company, and as far as I’m aware, the producer went off and started a new business, taking tours of Mediterranean antiquities.

    Guedelon Castle is amazing. Apparently stone masons from all over Europe travel there to rediscover traditional skills. You would get a real kick out of the machinery, all of it powered by muscles, human and animal. The crane used to lift the stonework has to be seen to be believed! I have been told that not much is being done there at the moment, because most of the masons have headed to Paris to work on Notre Dame after the fire.
    Thanks for the heads-up about the planting weather this weekend. The rain forecast does look good – though I won’t hold my breath! So far this year, we’ve had about 315mm of rain, which is very dry. I keep reading your rainfall figures with amazement ( and not a little jealousy!). Send some this way, please!

    My roses have actually been flowering for about 3 weeks, and my peach tree started to flower so early that I thought they’d be wrecked by frost, but they seem to have made it through, with quite a lot of fruit developing.

    By the way, the photo of the rainbow was wonderful. What a view!



  37. Hi Lewis,

    What a story about Tucker! And it also goes to prove that good ideas are not necessarily a path to easy engineering or successful products. Years ago I used to work in a large listed corporate and I was surrounded by other accountants in a shared service area. Anyway, we always used to bemoan being the trail blazer, and Tucker by contrast had absolutely no fear of that. 🙂 I was fascinated to note that many of his ideas have actually been incorporated into vehicles, and the latest of which appears to be much DC higher voltages than the expected 12V systems. The guy was ahead of his time, but perhaps if I could but offer one bit of advice to him, I’d probably suggest a series of incremental improvements over time, rather than the more fluid approach that he appears to have taken.

    Wales is one of the wettest places in Europe is it not? Hmm, some folks appear to enjoy a challenge.

    Hey, speaking of which, it was very, very, hot here today, and as the sun edged closer to the horizon, we began getting the fencing installed on the lower garden terrace. Tomorrow night / Saturday morning looks set to bring some heavy rain, so plans are to get the seedlings and seeds into the ground, before the rain arrives. But first, the lower terrace has to be fenced… Oh well, you sometimes have to reach for the stars. And I was actually a bit closer to the stars today as I had to climb the ladder and clean the dust off the ceiling fans inside the house. They’re a very necessary item when it is 10pm and the outside air temperature is still 72’F. Yeah, your weather is remarkably cold for so early in the season. Incidentally, we burned through a lot more firewood this winter than the previous year. As a comparison, one year ago, the fire restrictions were put in place – however it is not so dry this year.

    Such knowledge could come in handy in one day, although I do wonder if you could produce the stuff and avoid consumption of the resulting product? Lead you not into temptation. I’m completely intrigued by the Ruth Goodman series, and there have been so many references to it over the years here. Something must be done about it. I was particularly intrigued by the Wartime and Victorian Farm series. There was a vague reference to farms being taken away from farmers during WWII where the government decided that they weren’t productive enough. Not good. But, err, drastic measures have to take place when two-thirds of all produce is imported and the Nazi’s are blockading the coastline.

    Ah yes, I am well aware that sprouting the grain releases more nutrients and sugars, and it is an essential part of the brewing process. Grains have so little sugar that the process has to be more or less exacting. I sort of like the idea of passing brews out a window to old duffers waiting upon their daily constitutional – especially if they’d earned their keep.

    Out of curiosity, how does the soil smell in and around your old garlic patch? From what I can tell, the bulbs emit chemicals into the soil. They all do pretty well, although my money would be on individual cloves as the bulbs produce more numerous, but smaller and densely packed in cloves. They’re an extraordinary plant – and reasonably carefree. You’re getting them in the ground at the right time of year too.

    Love what you are adding in to the soil. All good stuff. Over the past year I’ve been adding blood and bone to the vegetable patches and it seems to work (although I have to keep the dogs off the stuff). I can’t say that I really know that much about summer beans and peas, although I have some varieties of beans to plant tomorrow. Broad beans by contrast seem much simpler to me. So yeah, you might get some volunteer varieties of beans, and potatoes are feral and I reckon you can never pick all of the tubers. They turn up here in some very unlikely spots.

    It is going to be hot here again tomorrow. A good day to stay out of the sun.



  38. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, you’re probably right, although to my eyes the Delorean now looks a bit dated. You have to admit that the design is quite angular? Ah, the film was released in 1985, and I was a very young and impressionable teenager at the time. Where is my hoverboard – that should be the real question here? Oh yeah, are there new ideas in Hollywood – or are they all frightened investors? I doubt Fight Club would be made these days.

    The best lines are always other peoples and yeah I pinch great one liners too. A sensitive person would no doubt understand that the lines are improved by well considered usage, but not too much usage.

    Mate, drinking beers with strangers in the front yard, is pushing the ‘quiet enjoyment’ legal concept a bit too far for my tastes. And for the record, I don’t much like the garage arrangement in place, but the rental market is tight there. People sometimes escalate bad behaviour and it can happen very slowly and imperceptibly. Did I mention the house I rented many long years ago where the driveway was owned by the neighbour, but the garage at the end of it was part of the rental? Strange days indeed. And you should have heard the editor mouthing off at the neighbour (very un-lady like, but well deserved) when he was being an idiot about the situation and asserting his ‘rights’.

    And I suggest playing music that they don’t like – that might move them on next time. And maybe threaten to call the cops for trespass. You need to take the enjoyment factor out of the situation for the guy.



  39. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, that is exactly the backpack story. At the end of a long day of walking, it is a relief to take the weight off. Although you do become accustomed to the weight after a while. Most walks are I feel generally too short to get into a nice rhythm whilst at the same time building strength.

    Mount Baker looks epic, and is at a high enough elevation that the air would be noticeably thinner at the summit. And far out, given the mountains reputation it is no place to be in winter! I’m sure that you are well aware of the reputation of the mountain for snowfall? 29m in one year! Far out.

    Ollie would like to think that, but I have noticed that he prefers guidelines for his behaviour where he can exercise his own judgement rather than hard and fast rules. I’ve been training him of late to not chase cars (and mostly succeeding), and part of the story is ensuring that he understands that it is not in his interests to do so. He seems to have understood that concept and I can’t be around all of the time to warn him against doing it. Unfortunately he likes to run and there are not many things that can run as fast as he can – cars being one of them. On the other hand, I’ve seen a rabbit outrun him (just). I had no idea that rabbits were that fast.

    35’C here today! Not sure that I would appreciate your frozen weather. Hehe! The garden would complain for sure. Stay warm!

    A sightly shorter handled spoon that is made with care and good intentions is the same thing is it not? 🙂



  40. Chris:

    I had not realized that so much of your infrastructure was moveable. We don’t seem to do much of that except that some of the beds do seem to move around of their own accord – downhill. All of the concrete ones, though – those are set in – umm – concrete. An old timber rake sounds wonderful; it must be awfully sturdy. Do you have any idea what wood it is made of?

    No, doors to sheds are doors.

    I have catmint growing all over the place – except under the roses! Will move some there next spring.

    I have been thinking about your rats. We had a pet rat once by the name of Ratty. Ratty was SO smart. He did tricks and came when we whistled. He could go out to play in the front yard and not run off, though we always stayed with him as we had 5 cats.
    Perhaps some training of your chicken rats is in order, though I have no idea what except that food will be involved. Ratty loved his treats.


  41. @ Damo – Yup. That’s the book and movie. I was aware of them, being in the book biz, at the time. They were both quit popular. But, not having got the “car” gene, I didn’t take much notice.

    I do admire a few cars. The classic Corvette. I’d recognize a De Lorean. If they opened the doors :-). Lew

  42. Yo, Chris – So. I saw your comment to Margaret about singing at weddings. Do you pick up a few extra quid, being a wedding singer? A la Adam Sandler in the movie “Wedding Singer?” I thought maybe the film, inspired you. It being a rom-com and all :-).

    Happy Halloween, and all. At least, it’s Halloween here. I’ll be sitting in the pumpkin patch, tonight. Waiting for the Great Pumpkin. Who flies all over the world, bringing toys to good little boys and girls. :-). I’d better bundle up. It was 27F (-2.77C) last night. Not going to be much warmer, tonight.

    I think the reason the Tucker story stuck a bit in my mind, it’s one of those “little guy against the big guys” stories.

    I’m not sure if Wales is wetter, than here. Depends on where you are, I suppose. I can’t imagine it’s wetter than our Olympic peninsula. Being a native, I could probably ride it out, ok. Might even take to it. :-).

    Hmmm. Our library doesn’t have any of Ruth Goodman’s books, from the series, except for Victorian Pharmacy. You can view all (most?) of her series on YouTube. Just search “Ruth Goodman”, and everything pops up.

    Somewhere along the way, I saw something that addressed the farm land being seized, if productivity wasn’t up to snuff. I’ve watched so many WWII, “life in Britain”, things, I don’t remember which. Maybe the “Land Girls” series. The airfields took a lot of land, too.

    I’ve noticed a few times that when I dig in garlic areas, I can smell them. According to my companion planting book, it’s a good soil fumigant. While still encouraging the beneficial microbes. It’s beneficial to just about all plants …except peas and beans. Something I’m going to test out, next year. You can also make an insect spray, out of it. Good to plant around fruit trees. In fact, the elephant garlic I have, is descended from Brother Bob’s elephant garlic that he had planted in his orchard.

    I’m up to chapter XII in “Fort at River’s Bend.” I found it interesting how they picked the extra people, from Ravenglass, to expand the population of the fort. I also read with interest, the bit about forging a sword. Who in the heck figured out that iron smelts better with an application of bird poo, wheat paste, honey, olive oil, etc.? How will that kind of knowledge be preserved, into the future? You mentioned germ theory, maybe being lost. Maybe the idea of germ theory, per se, but perhaps not the idea that being clean, and being healthy, go hand in hand. I think the idea of soap making, may survive. It’s a pretty simple process, and, a lot of people seem to grasp at least, the basics. Even the Tudors, though they didn’t have a lot of soap around, knew that you had to keep your dairy and brewing equipment, scrupulously clean. Water, sunshine and salt.

    We’re taking possession of your lost hour, on Saturday night. Nice of you to lend it to us. :-). Lew

  43. @Hazel and others

    I love the Ruth Goodman series – Green Valley was great (I always thought it a shame they were not allowed to live in the house). I found the little details that Ruth explained to be fascinating as well, especially in the castle series. Things like how the stone walls were painted, tapestries, even the furniture and fresh reeds in the peasant huts. It is easy to think it was all grim and dark with bare stone walls in the castle and muddy floors in the peasant huts, but of course they would have done all they can to make living day to day pleasant. Maybe one day we will see an accurate representation of that sort of thing on TV and movies??

    I forgot about Wartime farm. Might watch that series this weekend 🙂


  44. @Lew RE: Cars

    I do love cars, to a certain extent. My own vehicles have always been boring and practical, the one exception a motorbike purchase. I couldn’t even claim fuel savings as a justification since it burned the same amount as a small car (in my defense it performed like a sports car, so that makes me green right??).

    And of course, I can always appreciate good engineering. In my mind, early 2000 Japanese is probably peak – in terms of reliability and build quality, and not ruined yet by excessive computers. My current car (provided by work), has so many sensors and screens the whole thing is terribly unpleasant to drive, and I feel, a lot less safe. Sometimes the car detects an “imminent” accident and literally flashes a red siren on your dash, which always scares the bejesus out of me.

    Halloween came and went in our little suburb. Lots of clowns (IT movie), highlight was the local goat dressed up in a jacket and on a lead. Not sure what it was meant to be, but it was cute.


  45. Hi Chris,

    Your not wrong about the quiet enjoyment. And now he wants to build a deck behind the garage (which is at one end of the property with access from another side street), along with new cladding and a new roof. I told him, as far as I am concerned, that counts as major renovations and he should have done the work before leasing the building. He tried twisting the story (it started as “just a few days work” until I got him to admit it would take at least 4 weeks – thanks Grand Designs!) and kept saying he would just give 48 hours notice before starting.

    Eventually it was revealed he “thought” that part of the property was for his exclusive use. Of course, the lease makes no mention of this at all and I told him basically, that is too bad, so sad. We signed a legal document and expect the conditions to be upheld. I think he is talking to the real estate agent today. The next step for us is a “remedy to breach” notice with the tenancy tribunal if he continues. As I mentioned, the struggle is real!

    I think the real problem is people are too emotionally attached to real estate. They still think of the property as “theirs”. Legally, for the duration of the lease, it is not. But if you cannot let go, maybe being a landlord is not for you? I notice quite a few landlords think they are doing tenants (customers really) a favor by offering their shitty house so cheaply. Another problem created by the severe mismatch between purchase price and rental yields.

    In more exciting news, the milk stout is bottled and aging nicely. Does the editor have much brewing going on at the moment?


  46. Chris,

    Yes, there IS a different rhythm with a backpack on isn’t there? It takes a lot of walking with one on to build up the rhythm and strength, too. I’m years out of practice…

    Yeah, 29m in a season is a LOT of snow. We had to be ready for that, or for being able to stay warm if someone got injured and the temperature dropped from 38C (it was THAT hot) to , say 10C. Nobody had any business being on the glacier at that temperature, as it was very unstable. Our leader also kept close tabs on us to make sure none of us showed signs of altitude sickness.

    Good for Ollie, wanting some limits. Most people want them but don’t realize it. I find limits to be freeing, as limits mean that there’s a large chance of my failing if I get outside the limits. That, of course, means that imagination and work arounds are sometimes needed, but, properly used, limits can be good.

    Lew beat me to it. I was going to mention that I found your lost hour and am adding it to my clock this weekend.

    Singing? Weddings? I got paid to sing at a wedding once. (Music major/vocalist before switching to physics.) My sister was to sing a duet at a friend’s wedding. The guy never showed up to practice. Our mother was accompanying on the piano, so I would practice with my sis. She finally got the bride to fire the other guy and I filled in. It was fun.

    I was also a professional basketball player for a few months. Yes, at 1.72 meters tall! Okay, I worked in a paint factory, and our branch had 2 of us per shift. My job only took about 6 or 7 of the allotted 10 hour shift, so the boss set up a hoop and brought in a ball. So I shot hoops or played against the next shift sometimes, getting paid to play basketball. Doesn’t that mean I was a professional basketball player?


  47. Hi, Lew

    The wettest part of Wales has an average annual rainfall of 10 feet ( about 3 metres ). If you have that much rain, I’m surprised you don’t all have moss growing behind your ears!


  48. Hi Hazel,

    We just finished planting seedlings and seeds as the sun went below the horizon tonight. And I’m watching the radar with interest to see what eventuates. It looks like tomorrow will be the big day for me, and Sunday for you. Best of luck, your part of the continent is suffering from a serious lack of rain. The middle (roses) and upper terraces unfortunately may not be planted out this year. We were up at the crack of dawn this morning and despite the 35’C heat we got in the rest of the fencing on the lower terrace and sorted out the latches for the gates. I also chucked down 10kg of blood and bone and a huge 35kg bag of Dynamic Lifter, and then just crossed my fingers and hope for the best.

    Great detective work on the series and I may settle in to watch an episode tonight. Far out, the work on Notre Dame would be extensive and also a worthwhile activity for master stonemason’s.

    Oh my! I knew the rain in your part of the country was not good, but 315mm is um, yeah a bit of a worry. How is your garden coping? The heat of the past few days has been pretty intense. I promise to send some rain your way. 😉

    Being further north, you have a longer growing season than here, and I’ll bet the roses are enjoying the conditions up your way. I only spotted the first rose flower today. The rain will probably destroy the flowers though… A mixed blessing.

    As a comparison, I haven’t noticed much in the way of frost this year either. Last year was feral for frost and there was one after another, and I lost my entire apricot crop, but this year has been different. I’ve got an Anzac peach which is chock full of tiny little fruit. What variety are you growing? My favourite peach is the late summer Golden Queen variety. I’ve killed one of those fruit trees.

    I had to laugh about the 3m of rain. There is a place in the Otway mountain range to the south west of here which has an average rainfall of around 2.2m, and it looks pretty wet and green to me. The wettest year I experienced here was 2010 when 1.43m of rain fell over the farm. Needless to say, so much rain was unnecessary. 3m would be totally bonkers and out of control. 🙂



  49. Hi Pam,

    The moveability factor with infrastructure is a complex problem. I can’t for the life of me remember where I read an account of an historical conversation between an indigenous person and one of the early European settlers, but the gist of the conversation was that the indigenous person was questioning the settlers need to construct permanent infrastructure. Clearly the conversation was a long time ago, and I wasn’t present, but I sort of felt that an apt critique was being made upon the settlers need to fence everything in as if they felt that the country was a static place, when in fact it is actually a very dynamic place.

    Concrete is nothing less than liquid stone, and as such it accords respect. I hear you, the land here moves from year to year and season to season. Some of the largest trees (which are frankly quite massive) have depressions all around them where the tree has consumed the surrounding minerals (which they buttress against). And the soil surface shifts. The foundations of the house went down at least 8ft to the solid clay. Imagine getting stuck upside down in one of those holes. It was a bit of a nightmare that story. Fortunately the editor could pull me out feet first and it only happened once.

    Ah, you make a salient point and I defer to your observation regarding the doors.

    I’ve seen catmint growing with roses and it looks really good. I had to grab the ladder and take a photo of the first rose flower on the middle terrace an hour or so back. By tomorrow night I predict the flower will be gone due to possible heavy rain.

    By all accounts rats are very pleasant and very clean pets. I enjoy the challenge that the rats present me, and they keep me sharp. A mate recently lost one of their dogs to a snake bite which no doubt was caused by the snake looking for an easy feed of rodents near to so much livestock, so I do my utmost to keep on top of the rodents. Chickens attract rodents, so snakes are a real problem – they’re only the second deadliest on the planet – it seems a bit over the top, but that is evolution for you. Ratty would have been a true delight.



  50. Hi Damo,

    The main issue that I see with the rental story is that landlords see their house first and foremost as an investment – they’re encouraged to do so by various policies in place. You and Mrs Damo are part of that story, and it needn’t make much sense. The story operates in reverse too. I have a NZ mate who kicked their tenant out after 10 years of residence, and that story was very telling to me about the underlying truth of the situation.

    Back in the feudal era, the Lord of the Land (i.e. landlord) had a vested interest in ensuring that tenant farmers were looked after and kept the lands productive and the story was equal burden and benefit. Things may have gone a bit too far in the other direction recently, and you are on the difficult side of that equation. Ask Lewis about the rubbish he had to deal with – they were struggling to maintain water supplies. And whilst you are at it, don’t mention the Evil Step Son.

    You know, if a bushfire takes this place out, and it is a possibility that can’t be dismissed, we’ll construct a shed and live on site whilst we sort business out. When we rented in a nearby town in a project house whilst building this place, we got an official complaint notice to cut the grass. Now, me being me, I’d spent a fair bit of effort getting the soil alive again. The previous tenants had parked cars over the grass and that had killed off all of the grass in the front lawn (not to mention the disaster that was the back lawn). Was it appreciated? Probably not.

    Anyway, spare a thought for Hazel who has only had 315mm of rain for the year to date. Things can always be worse.



  51. Hi DJ,

    Mate, me too! Hehe! There was a trick with long distance walking which I learned many years ago. It was called the: ‘old man’s walk’, and it involved ensuring that both feet were on the ground before taking the next step. And it was a real saviour on long walks. In Nepal, I encountered the reality that it was possible to walk six hours in a continuously up hill direction! As someone who lives on a fairly flattish continent, the reality had never even occurred to me as even a remote possibility. But yeah, not good, and the technique made walking that long day bearable. I’ve never forgotten the lesson.

    Far out, those sort of temperatures are too high for my tastes, and we have an inflexible rule about not attempting long walks in temperatures over 26’C. The UV over summer down here is intense and so the air temperature is multiplied. I use the technical term for working or walking through such summer conditions as: “squooshed”, if only because that is how your brain feels at the end of the journey (or work day).

    As to altitude sickness, it is always a possibility past I believe about 2,500m. Not good, and slow walks are one way to avoid such troubles, but even then…

    Like you, I too feel that limits are freeing. When I was a kid people used to tell me that I could do anything, and at the time I thought that they were talking a lot of rubbish, but even still they kept at it. Could I move to a different desk and away from the school bully in year 9 math? Nope. So clearly they were lying. Hehe! The facts in this instance speak for themselves.

    May you and Lewis enjoy my lost hour, and as Damo may suggest: “The struggle is real!” At least you get a sleep in. We got up at dawn this morning so as to get all of the seeds and seedlings in the ground before a rain storm hits tonight – and it was very hot here today.

    Probably! Hehe! On your basis, I worked at a state government construction site and they had a billiards table in the lunch room, so therefore there is a school of thought which suggests that I was a professional snooker player? No? Hehe!



  52. Hi Lewis,

    As it so happens, I rather enjoyed the Adam Sandler ‘Wedding Singer’ film. Who can forget the notable song: Adam Sandler – Somebody kill me please – wedding singer. I was particularly enjoying listening to the song this evening because Ollie was fraternising with the editor, and all the while he was giving me this sort of look which says: “You could have this love, but no.” I meant singing for my supper in the metaphorical sense of the words, and being entertaining company.

    Mate, everyone has their kryptonite and mine just happens to be rom-coms. What can I say other than I’m a born romantic? Hehe! The editor has now left Ollie high and dry and he is sitting on the green couch looking forlorn and wistful. Mind you, earlier he was snacking upon the blood and bone fertiliser that I’d chucked onto the lower garden terrace, so he is an unappealing prospect due to the chife.

    So, we got up at dawn this morning so as to get the fencing on the lower terrace completed so that we could plant out the seeds and seedlings before the rain hits tomorrow. Anyway, inevitably that involved moving a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch. And because I’m feeling insecure about future supplies of the stuff (and had run out of metal fencing) I had to head into the nearby township and pick up more mulch and some steel for the fencing.

    By the time the fencing was completed, the sun was very high in the sky at almost 1pm, and I was getting a bit squooshed by the sun. Went for lunch and enjoyed a tasty BLC. Came home again and promptly fell asleep – told you my brain was squooshed by the sun and heat, although it may have been the bacon – and then began planting at about 6pm. The job was finished by about 8.40pm and it was very dark then and somehow I’d acquired a massive blister on the palm of my hand. I washed it with some alcohol wash (one can never be too careful when dealing with soil and fertiliser) and I emitted some sort of strange ‘yelping sound’ according to the editor.

    Anyway, courtesy of the fertiliser, the place smells rather intriguing again!

    Oh, and the editor provided some insight this evening. In the past we have discussed the ‘special guest death ensign’ in Star Trek episodes. For your education (and mine as well), the characters have a formal description: Redshirt (stock character). Who’d have thunk it?

    Happy Halloween to you too. The important question in this instance is: Have you been good this past year? My gut feeling tells me dark things about this most important of matters. Hmm. Hehe! Mate, I’ve done something bad because it is almost 11pm here and the outside temperature is 75’F – it is just bonkers.

    I get that about the Tucker story. It is a bit David and Goliath isn’t it? Didn’t Adam Smith mention something or other about monopolies being protected? The advertising world is copping a bit of a hiding on that front of late. Something about disruptors – which all sounds a bit Star Trek like to me.

    Far freakin’ out. 100 to 170 inches per year over at Olympic. Not good, and not easy to live with. Too much rain is as bad as too little rain. Mate, I would be sooking – loudly!

    I saw that on Youtoob that they were all available. Alas, time is short for such enjoyments. I did work until dark tonight, and am feeling it now. The door is open here and the warm outside air is blowing in, but insects are banging against the screen door and a BooBok Owl is hooting from one of the nearby trees. I hope the Owl doesn’t try and take Scritchy (who was outside at the time doing her business). Which reminds me: Purebred dingo pup that dropped from the air into a backyard garden turns out to be endangered breed.

    Thanks for mentioning the series as I’d never heard of it.

    It is interesting you mention that about the garlic being a good soil fumigant and companion for fruit trees. I have to have a good think about removing the Lemon Eureka tree, and maybe garlic might assist. Dunno, I have to look into alternative treatments for citrus collar rot and soon. Most of the advice is commercial and they suggest ripping the tree out.

    I passed Part Two of the book this morning, but no doubts you will have passed that point by the time you read this. I did enjoy the authors techniques for: “Skip a bit Brother” (Monty Python reference). I’m seriously delighted with the read. But I did sort of feel that making a second and third sword might be a bad idea, and rumours of Uther’s other child have surfaced. I hope they can be friends…

    Hey, I learned something about seed raising today. Apparently with seeds, when they germinate, two growth hormones giberillin and cytokinin as well as the gas ethylene help to promote the conversion of the fats and oils in the seed to fatty acids, then sugars and starch (sprouted seeds being sweet). So there you go, I’d simplified the process overly in my earlier description.

    I’m off to bed and another early morning tomorrow. Tes not natural!



  53. Chris:

    Come on, even you could not fall into an 8 ft. hole. But just in case – the editor is one strong girl!

    Thanks for the “old man’s walk”. May it also be the “old woman’s walk”? I am going to need it around here.

    I am lucky – we have several types of venomous snakes, but their bites are rarely fatal to humans – or even most pets.

    What a great dingo story, and I had no idea that there were 3 types of dingos. I see that this one was an “alpine” dingo? Have you seen one near you? They must be the coyotes of Australia. We hear coyotes howling near us at night.

    It was 75F (24C) when I went to bed last night, thanks to a tropical storm from down south and 40F (4.4C) when I got up this morning, thanks to a big wind from up north.


  54. @ Damo – Yeah, I’ve always thought most historical dramas are way too clean. The thing I appreciated about the film, “Lion in Winter” is that the King and Queen enter a courtyard, to greet, someone… tromping through horse poo and kicking chickens out of the way :-). Now, that’s more like it!

    I’m glad I’m old, and my old truck will probably be my last vehicle. It’s a 2004 Ranger, with no frills. There are “computers on board” but they’re not very obtrusive.

    Speaking of tech, I stopped by my local library the other day, to discover a *N*E*W* self check out system. Looks like surplus off the Star Ship Enterprise. What was wrong with the old one, which was fairly intuitive? I’m sure I won’t get a straight answer, to that question. And, I will ask 🙂 The new lot is twice as big as the old. Hmmm. I wonder if it will also check in books? I hear some libraries have gone to a system, like that. Seems like a good idea. What could possible go wrong? Lew

  55. @ Hazel – Where I live, in Washington, State (Chehalis) we get an average rainfall of 52 inches a year. 1.52 meters. The rainiest place in the State, is over by Aberdeen, out on the coast. 130 inches, 3.3 meters.

    Forks, Washington, out on the Olympic Peninsula gets 119 inches (3 meters). I mention Forks, as it’s where that awful teen vampire series (Twilight) is set. The author had never been there. Just figured it would be the gloomiest town in the U.S..

    Natives are often said to have webbed toes and moss in their arm pits. We can always tell someone who isn’t a native. They carry umbrellas. Our State motto is: “Won’t Rust.” :-). Our climate change outlook is, wetter, with more intense storms. Which doesn’t sound so bad, except I’ve noticed that storms, these days, seem to move slower, or stall out, all together. More flood events. Lew

  56. Yo, Chris – Oh, that Ollie! He’s figuring out how to play the Editor and you, off against each other. Sly dog.

    Well, that’s a lot of fencing and planting. I do hope your rain isn’t so hard it drives the tender little seedlings, into the ground.

    I usually use hydro peroxide for wound clean up. No ouch.

    The Editor is right about the Redshirt. Sometimes, Star Trek gets a bit predictable. Temporal anomaly, anyone?

    See my post to Hazel, above, for our yearly rain totals.

    That was one lucky little Dingo dog. I hear reports here, from time to time, about eagle’s nests, full of cat and dog collars.

    I’m halfway through chapter XIV. About the same place as you. In several versions of the Arthur story, Mordred, who does him in, is a illegitimate (didn’t want to use the “B” word, and have my post end up in the pooper.) son of Arthur. In other versions, a half brother. When he finally shows up, I’d say if his name is anything close to Mordred, we have a winner.

    I guess the hot peppers I moved inside are happy. So far. They’re putting out new leaves, and, maybe a blossom bud or two. No sign of any peppers. Lew

  57. Hi Chris,

    I too remember Lews ongoing battles, and who could forget the evil step-son? Thankfully, things are not that bad here. And, an apology letter and promise to do better came from the real estate yesterday. Perhaps the incidents can now remain in the past.

    Hazel, 315mm of rain is scary. I have never lived anywhere with rainfall anywhere near that low.

    This weekend is cracker night, and you can legally purchase fireworks for a few days. I got a box last year, but probably won’t bother this time. It means leaving the house after all, and I am pretty happy to not go into town on a weekend!

    Wartime Farm is great – I had no idea they used paraffin stoves. The government was very keen to get everyone away from coal it seems. Presumably they needed coal for the steel foundries.


  58. Lew,

    I hear you on the self-checkout systems. I had to use one a while back, took me a lot longer than just getting a friendly librarian to do it, and irritated me into the bargain as well. Pushing physical levers, buttons and valves and fun and I enjoy. But interacting with laggy, poorly designed touch screen menus is 7th level hell stuff as far as I am concerned.

    I read now that a lot of people feel obligated to steal items with all the supermarket self-checkouts. Apparently it is very easy to fool the system. I wouldn’t go so far myself, but our modern society does a lot to encourage a dog-eat-dog mentality, so I can see where it comes from, especially with so many struggling with debt etc.


  59. Hi Pam,

    Being caught upside down in the deep hole was a real problem. I was cleaning the hole out so that the building inspector (who was due to arrive any day) could see the solid clay at the bottom of the hole – and just became stuck and couldn’t lever myself out. After that little episode, I used a vacuum cleaner to suck the soil out of the holes (there were over 100 of them for the house after all). I attached the head of the vacuum to a long stick using duct tape, so the job was a lot easier.

    Glad to be of service. 🙂

    Snakes have a bad reputation, but all the same I am happier when they are elsewhere. Lucky you, but all the same it is a risk.

    Who knew that an eagle could lift up a puppy? I always thought that it was an urban-rural myth, but no, there is the puppy landed in someone’s backyard. I had no idea either that there was an alpine dingo variety either. The coat sure looked thick. And yes, they are the coyotes of Australia, and they arrived a very long time ago by way of Indonesia where they were presumably traded with the indigenous folk.

    What a change in temperature. Brr! Hey, the official local weather station is reporting that an inch of rain fell over the ranges in the past 24 hours. Yay for rain!



  60. Hi Lewis,

    2004 must have been a good year for manufacturing? The Dirt Rat also dates from that year – and it appears to be very robust. Incidentally, a few months back I checked vehicle recalls from around that time (a minor concern over exploding airbags which eventuated out to be not a problem). Anyway, I noticed that the model from a few years before had some manufacturers recalls. The model afterwards had some recalls, but not the Dirt Rat model… There is a certain school of thought that suggests that world Oil production peaked in 2005. Coincidence? Probably not.

    Dogs are very sociable creatures and so they understand social dynamics at a ‘no bull’ deep level. And then they decide upon their path which they wade through the morass. I’ve watched them play each other, like this evening Ollie pretended that there was something outside that was of utmost canine importance. His reasonably transparent goal was to distract the ageing Scritchy from her meal so he could dine upon her meal. The move was so transparent that I kind of felt proud of the young Ollie, but no it all came to naught because Scritchy kept at her food bowl. What would they call her? A seasoned trencher?

    The rain was actually quite gentle, but it went on for hours. The thunderstorm at the front of the storm woke me up in the middle of the night, but as the rain was not too heavy, I did my best to go back to sleep. Over an inch of rain fell. Yay! And the seedlings have all perked up and are looking good today. I now have to get a regular watering system set up there before the next hot day. Other than Tuesday, it looks as though some rain will fall over the farm for each day of the next week. We ran out of time to get the pumpkins / squashes / watermelon seeds in the soil. Oh well, each year we get a little bit better than the previous year, however perfection is as always an unattainable goal.

    And the combination of the rain and sunlight means that the place has to be mowed. The kangaroos, wombats and wallabies are not keeping up with the growth, and that happens about two or maybe three times per year. The grass has grown to seed in less than three weeks.

    Did you know this fun fact about Hydrogen Peroxide? Hydrogen peroxide oxidizes sulfites, turning sulfite into hydrogen sulfate, which does not cause the types of problems that are associated with sulfites. It’s long been said that a few drops of H2O2 in your wine will eliminate the sulfites altogether, at least in theory. I believe the dilution level is a few drops of a mixture of about 6% Hydrogen Peroxide (and water I guess) which is quite dilute, but still. Another school of thought suggests that headaches from sulfite laden drinks are caused by the dehydrating effects of the drink. Still, it can’t hurt.

    Thanks for mentioning the wound cleaning prowess of H2O2. Never considered using the stuff that way, but as you’ve mentioned before, one can never be too careful. The huge blister on my palm looks not very good at all, and I saw someone recoiling from it today. What can I say other than I worked pretty hard over the past few days. People are unaccustomed to seeing such things.

    Hey, I picked up a replacement Lemon Eureka today at a nursery. I knew some of the people there and we had a lively chat regarding the various rootstocks. There were a number of choices that could have been made as to rootstocks, and I ended up choosing one that will eventually grow a 20ft lemon tree. It sort of seemed appropriate to me, because I can recall as a kid climbing in the canopy of my grandmothers old lemon tree. The thing was huge, and no doubt such large lemon trees scare people who are unused to such large fruit trees. I also picked up a really interesting flowering clematis vine which I’ve planted so that it creeps through one of the garden beds. The clematis flowers are huge and amazing.

    Your average rainfall would frighten me! Hehe! Rain is good, but too much rain can be as much of a problem (if not more e.g. landslides) as too little. The wettest part of this state is the unusually named place of Weeaproinah, which has an annual rainfall of almost 76.3 inches. I’ve been there on a number of occasions and can verify that the place is indeed extraordinarily green. I almost ended up purchasing land in that part of the country. The rainfall is due to a quirk of the topography.

    You know, I always somehow thought that the eagles taking puppies was an urban-rural myth. But hmm, there is the dingo with eagle marks on its back. I’ll bet neither cat nor dog would go down without a fight. My money would be on cats being a serious problem for eagles. I have heard that eagles drop their prey from heights so as to kill them.

    The B word in that instance would be used for historical purposes so as to describe a persons parentage – and not intended as a personal slight. I’m curious as to your thoughts. Was Mordred the better warrior for having felled Arthur, or was Arthur the better warrior for having built a Kingdom? The strength I feel of the story is that it describes a fall from high and as such is a reminder of what could be, but also as to what one must careful of seeking. I’m still yet to settle my mind upon what is the core theme of the story, and would appreciate a few pointers from you? It is a complicated story, that’s for sure.

    Oh yeah, your peppers would enjoy such treatment. I forget whether I mentioned it, but the other day I went in search of mild-ish peppers, and only discovered the hot to ultra-hot varieties. I have not yet come to such high estate as to be able to consume such taste bud scorching fruits. 😉

    I plan to write tonight.



  61. Hi Damo,

    Oh yeah, the Evil Step Son was a real problem. I can almost hear the fictional Dexter character saying: “Let’s face it Evil Step Son. You’ve always been a problem”. Just before some sort of dodgy solution was put permanently in place, usually involving sharp instruments. Anyway, I’m pretty certain that things would not be good for Evil Step Son from that point onward. Hehe! I feel that the moral here would be for people to more circumspect about the people that they poke. But then, there is another school of thought which suggests that it is all part of the learning experience. Best not to annoy other people seems like a winning strategy, recognising that this is not always an option.

    Good to hear that an apology letter was received, and good to also hear that you have nipped this problem in the bud. It is a sign that perhaps tenancy laws were being breached. As a helpful suggestion, if the situation begins to escalate again: get onto it straight away, and don’t deal with it internally (i.e. you and him). Instead make it the real estate agents problem. That is what they get paid for. Oh yeah, and remember to document. Memories are good, but specific written notes hold more weight when things turn ugly.

    Is cracker night related to Guy Fawkes night?

    Thanks for the recommendation. May you lead me not into temptation…



  62. Hello again
    A storm is raging outside with 85 mph winds but at least the weather has warmed up. Shall have to decide whether or not to make my usual Saturday afternoon visit to neighbours as walking through the woods is seriously dangerous in such winds.
    We have wonderful new car ferries that are greener i.e use some mixed fuel (I don’t understand and probably have it wrong). Anyhow. one of them lost power yesterday. Not sure what the usual crossing time is, let’s guess 35 mins plus. Anyhow it took 3 hours accompanied by lifeboat and tug as it battled the tides. They managed to get it into Portsmouth harbour but not at its usual dock. Doubt that the free tea and toast that the travellers were given, made up for the anxiety. Just one more example of something that is cleaner, bigger and better supposedly.


  63. Hello again
    Have just done a check on my facts. It is called a hybrid energy ferry, using batteries and diesel. Normal time taken is 45 mins and it took 2 and a half hours.


  64. @ Damo – The best shop lifting deterrent, is to greet every customer, and look them in the eye. Besides being the friendly thing to do, it says, “I see you. I know you’re here.”

    The Evil Step Son will come to a bad end. Through no agency of my own. Other than part prophecy, part curse. People like that, usually do. Lew

  65. Yo, Chris – Perhaps 2004/05 was the tipping point for all kinds of crapification? Although, I suppose, there’s been all kinds of “..And it was all down hill, from there” moments, running right back to ancient history?

    That was so funny about Ollie trying to put one over on Scritchy. HRH occasionally tries to be devious, in one way or another. Either she wants something, or wants things in a certain way. She likes her routine. I’m sure Skritchy was thinking, “Give it up kid. I’ve seen and done it all.” 🙂

    I’m glad you got some (but not too much) rain. We really got very little rain, in October. I’ve even had to water the peas, a few times. No blossoms, yet. Wonder if they’ll make it? And, who’s still about to pollinate them? It was 32F (-0-C), last night. For the next week, the night time lows are supposed to be above freezing. But no rain in the forecast, yet. I figure when the weather breaks, it will be truly shattered.

    I also use H2O2 as a mouth wash, for after brushing. Diluted by half.

    Congratulations on the new arrival. The Lemon Eureka. I’m looking forward to getting the Meyer lemon, next year. Itwill go in a tub, and I was thinking about the type of soil, I will need to fill it in. The Master Gardeners are using that tub, to overwinter some containers of plants. But it just occurred to me, that I can start a pile of whatever is the best soil for the lemon. So I have something mellow, on hand, when the time comes. Because I work with such small patches, I really need to decide now, what is going to go where. So I can start preparing the soil.

    Eagles, owls, ravens. They’ll all carry off small animals. No urban myth.

    I’m almost done with “The Fort at River’s Bend.” I noticed something, that Merlin didn’t. Might be a red herring. Can’t say what, cause I don’t quit know where you are. Well, in most of the Arthur stories, in the final battle, Mordred is killed, but Arthur is also mortally wounded. Hmmm. Wonder if Mordred got his hands on one of those Excalber duplicates?

    LOL. Core theme? Take your pick. Knowing you as I do, by now (I think), you do like questions a bit … settled. Hmmm. Maybe that’s the core theme? There are no hard and fast answers. Depends on who’s telling which part of the story, and how they slant it. Sometimes, you just have to accept a bit of ambiguity. In many different areas.

    I ran across an interesting article, about the California fires and power problems. I wonder if we’ll get a big influx of refugees? Affordable housing is pretty tight, up here.


  66. Hello again
    Walk through the woods was okay with care; lots of branches are down. The Island had a wind gust of 109 mph.


  67. Hi Chris

    Unfortunately, the rain must have detoured elsewhere, possibly in search of a pie and a cup of coffee? I am crossing my fingers for later today, otherwise I’ll be out there with the hose for a while. I’m glad you got some, anyway. If it gets too dry up here, I’ll move to Victoria, and claim refugee status!?

    The big Eureka lemon sounds great – you can never have too many lemons. And the scent of the blossom is heavenly. Having the clematis creep through the garden bed is something I would never have thought of, I’ve always seen them grown up trellises. But they do have amazing flowers.

    Anyway, I’m off to do a rain dance.


  68. Hi Hazel,

    Hang in there! 6pm this evening is the prediction for your rain. You can see it on the NSW weather radar heading towards you right now. The closest patch looks as if it may run south of the ACT, but not the big chunk behind that and to the north west. But yeah, before that rain arrives you may need to water. 🙂



  69. Hi Inge and Hazel,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, unfortunately the tides have moved against me and I’ll be unable to reply tonight. Something about writing, or some such nonsense! Will speak tomorrow, and Inge I definitely feel that the word ‘feral’ is appropriate to describe such a huge wind gust. Hope everything was battened down?



  70. Hi Lewis,

    You’re probably right about the historical perspective, but I do believe that manufactured products were less shoddy back in those halcyon days. Incidentally, I’m sure you’ve heard such claims being made about moral declines since such and such a date – leading back to the dinosaurs? I tend to believe that such claims are an inter-generational sport.

    Scritchy is getting older, but even still, she’s no fool when it comes to food. She plays the ‘old dog’ card, and I help carry her up the stairs only to find her thrashing around like a banshee (trying to act tough in front of the younger dogs) and she makes the task twenty times harder than it should otherwise be. If she were a human, she’d have a convertible sports car tearing around the place at 100mph. HRH is a real character, and you’ve mentioned how she likes things done just so, until she doesn’t… Hehe!

    Thanks. October is usually a dry month. Is that normal for your October? Sorry to tell you, but it may be a bit late for peas, but fingers crossed – a few warm autumn days and you never know? Brr! We’re socked in at the moment as a thick cloud has settled over the mountain range.

    Interesting, I’ll look into that use and mention it to the editor.

    Yeah, I’ll get a photo of the new tree onto the blog (which I’m meant to be writing away at right now – my report cards from school always said: Chris is a good student, but he is easily distracted). I’ve been thinking about our education system for a while, and I do wonder at the sheer regularity of the system – and also the sheer waste of some of the stuff taught. It’s bonkers.

    Oooo. Lemons are heavy feeders, so if you grow the Meyer in a tub you’ll have to keep topping up the soil. The local gardening club folks tell me that they feed their citrus trees every month. Best soil is the word on the street, and your future soil mix sounds pretty good to me.

    Really? Well, Scritchy had better keep a sharp eye out for the birds. I’d like to see an eagle have a go at Ollie – can you imagine that?

    Exactly, that was what I was thinking about the second and third skystone swords. It was one of those things that all seemed like a good idea at the time and given that there is someone in Camulod who has a dislike of the young Arthur, well it seemed like too good of a plot point to miss. Any other sword would be broken in half by Excalibur.

    Mordred sounds as if he has some sort of axe to grind. Is he amusing and good natured? Probably not. As they say: He’s no Arthur! 😉

    It’s been a few fun years hasn’t it? And well, I can’t gainsay your opinion. And you’re right I wasn’t always comfortable with those. Learning to live with ambiguities is something that comes to each person at different phases of their life. I don’t feel that it is a life skill that is actively taught, and our society reaches for certainties whilst we exist in what appears to me to be a very uncertain world. A good example is one that struck me as being very odd – like when people hold up a model of what daily averages a solar panel should produce, and yet I mention that when there is several inches of snow covering the solar panels, they won’t do much at all. Then they come back around to the rather intriguing argument – which they’ve already stated – that they have this here model, and blah, blah, blah. It looks like an attempt to produce a world which conforms with closely held ideals, rather than dealing with reality. Outputs from nature are usually very uncertain, but we are not trained to see the world that way, and the attempts to ‘make it so’ (appropriate Star Trek joke there) are misplaced. If I’m seeking a settled answer on a question with no answers, it may be because I’m attempting to pick a path through the various choices and am looking for a sort of ‘least – worse’ option. Dunno. What is your take on that story?

    Thanks for the article and I read it over breakfast this morning. There is an underlying assumption with the people in the article that their retirement should be a halcyon experience, regardless as to where they settle. The stupid thing about where I am is that young families (i.e. people with energy) are economically excluded from the area. Go figure that one out…



  71. Hello again
    All well here but the visited neighbours had a very large branch hanging from a big tree. They will have to get a professional in to deal with it.


  72. Yo, Chris – Clematis – You may remember the one I salvaged with worm juice, at the last place I lived. That one was royal purple. What color is yours? I saw a sky blue one, but didn’t grab it, when I saw it. And, the next year, there were none to be found.

    Well, one of the favorite past times of us oldsters is kvetching about the moral decline of the youngsters. Fills in the time :-). Eleanor and I were just chatting, last night, about our mutual antipathy to too many tattoos and piercings. Though we keep our thoughts, to ourselves. I’ve occasionally asked myself if I’d hire someone with over the top tattoos and piercings. I have been in such a position, before. Maybe a moral failing, on my part, but the answer is, no. There was an article on Alternet, about generational friction. I think, from the headline, a brief history of. I was gong to link to it, but it won’t appear. Must be a broken link.

    Our Octobers are usually pretty wet. Nothing like this year. Well, I still have hopes for the peas. They are hardy down to 20F. After almost a week of below freezing nights, they still are un-frost bit, and look good. And there growing season is slightly less than 2 months. Oh, well, They’ll provide a boost of nitrogen, when I plow them under.

    Well, I suppose Mordred will be given whatever personality Whyte decides to give him :-). I think it’s mentioned that he’s got a pretty good claim to Urther’s thrones. Being older, and all. Maybe it’s too early yet, to have a core theme. I mean, we’re only five books in :-).

    Oh, dear. I took receipt, last night, of that extra hour you so kindly sent us. Finished “Fort at River’s Bend.” And, thought I’d read the first chapter of “The Sorcerer.” So much for that. I’m halfway through chapter VI. But, chapter VII is a part break, so I’ll set it down, for awhile. Whyte just sucked me in, as there’s quit a bit about what I’d call “The State of Post-Roman Britain.”

    Well, as far as a halcyon retirement goes, I think part of “The American Dream” is the “American Promise.” Play by the rules and with a little luck, you’ll have a secure retirement. My mate Scott and his wife, are pretty well set. A good chunk of land, two houses, both have retirement in addition to Social Security coming in, piles of savings. Lots of medical insurance. But he’s very aware that one good illness, for either of them, and it will all be gone. Lew

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