I feel the need. The need for mead

When you think back upon the concerns of your past, it is funny to consider just how far and strange the journey that one’s life becomes.

The 1986 film Top Gun cast a long cultural shadow. At the time of the films release I was a teenager, the soundtrack dominated the airwaves, the quotes were clunky but memorable, and I ached for a pair of Ray-ban Aviator sunglasses. Unfortunately, at the time, and despite seeing the movie, I was a broke teenager (despite working) and couldn’t stump the mad cash for a pair of the expensive sunglasses. On the other hand, in the eternal quest for coolness, me owning the sunglasses probably wouldn’t have helped matters.

A few weeks ago the editor was unfortunately attacked by a bull-ant whilst checking upon the slowly ripening strawberries. The bull-ant saw its shot and took it. Spare a thought for the poor editor, because bull-ants not only inject formic acid under the skin, they also spray the area of the bite with the same acid. The result is a mild chemical burn which itches like crazy for many days. We’re not a fan of the ants, and occasionally getting bitten is a fact of life here.

Ants are fairly useful in drier environments because they perform similar functions to the earthworms. On the other hand, the ants are not fans of anything other than their own species, and they’re warlike little blighters. But we’ve discovered that the ants don’t tend to build nests in areas where there is top soil. The plants like top soil, I like top soil, and the ants hate top soil. So needless to say, over the years we’ve been continuously developing the top soil on the farm.

But back to the long suffering editor with her ant bite. Over the years, we’ve observed that consuming fresh greens straight from the garden introduces potent anti-inflammatory agents which help to reduce the swelling from ant bites and other insect stings. But a few years ago we discovered by pure chance that our mead (a potent wine produced from honey) was an even stronger anti-inflammatory agent than the fresh greens.

For a few days whilst the editor was recovering from the itchy ant bite, every night we enjoyed a glass of mead. I can confirm that the medicine worked wonders.

Mead was the first country wine that we began producing. As a wine, it is ridiculously easy and mostly fool-proof to make. Honey is about 80% sugar, so we use 1.3kg (2.8 pounds) of honey, in a 5 Litre (1.3 gallon) demijohn, and it eventually produces a very strong brew. In the first few months of fermentation, the outcome is drinkable but a bit rough around the edges. After a year, the batch is very smooth indeed. The mead we enjoyed during the editors travails was discovered at the back of the storage shelves and had been produced three years ago. It was beyond superb.

With the concerns I have nowadays, sometimes I wonder about just how strange this journey has been since the days of me (as a teenager) watching the film Top Gun at the cinema with my mates. Like the fighter pilots in the film, I guess life just sometimes deals up pivotal moments that go on to shape who, and perhaps more importantly, where you are.

I’ve always worked. Some people shirk work, but I’m not one of them. A few years after the film Top Gun was released, I reached the age where I was recognised as an adult. I worked, I studied at University part time at night, I maintained outside interests and relationships, and despite many set backs, I rose in my profession.

After two decades of that growth, I had teams of people reporting to me, and the problems were immense and never ending. My friends recalled that I watched the film Top Gun with them back in the day, and whilst I may not have had their esteem, however, I had professional standing and recognition within the wider community. I was on top of the world. Eventually, I found myself in a professional capacity reporting to a board of directors.

Politics, is perhaps not my strong suit. I have this unfortunate habit of being what is known as a: ‘straight talker’, and I do my best to tell it like it is (or as it seems to be from my perspective). Most of the time, I wasn’t really required to do anything or contribute to the board discussions. However, at one board meeting the directors turned their highfalutin attentions in my direction and asked me whether I could guarantee that there were no errors in the accounts. In that seemingly innocuous question, I saw my future flash before my eyes, and it was more of the same sort of questions. As the film showed, even Top Gun pilots make mistakes or get into tricky situations. As my mouth responded to the innocuous question by describing the processes of ‘internal controls’ and ‘materiality’, which I’m frankly not sure was clearly understood, my mind recoiled at the motivation behind the question. And I no longer wanted any part of it.

Fast forward a dozen years, and we’re making mead and battling ants. And I reckon it was a good choice.

Earlier in the week the days were sunny but cold. And the nights were even colder.

Scritchy snuggles up with her mate Ollie

Then just because life is not a constant, the weather became crazy hot. Thursday afternoon reached 39’C / 102’F and it was starting to feel pretty hot. And because the house does not have an air-conditioner, after a couple of hot days, and despite thick insulation, the inside of the house reached 25’C / 77’F, which to be honest wasn’t as hot as it was outside the house in the shade!

Inside the house reached 25’C / 77’F after a daytime temperature of 39’C/102’F

One consolation is that the hot days produced amazing sunsets:

Hot days produce amazing sunsets here

On the hottest day, a late wind change from the Southern Ocean delivered a cool change, some rain and the outside air temperature dropped to 21’C / 70’F all within an hour of reaching the hottest part of the day. The rain brought with it red dust from the centre of this driest inhabited continent.

The hot day brought red dust down from the centre of this continent

Over night I left the protected windows open to the cooler air, and the house cooled. In fact the next morning was so cool that I woke to find that I had chucked three woollen blankets onto the bed during the night. And fog had settled in the valley below the farm.

Fog settled in the valley below the farm

There are possibly around ten thousand trees on this property. And the strong winds that accompanied the hot day brought quite a few branches and smaller trees to the ground. I appreciate natures contribution to my firewood reserves.

We like to keep a neat ship here, and so we spent two days gathering up the fallen timber and processing firewood, mulching and chipping the leaves, and burning off everything else.

The fire restrictions were not in place yet, so I could have burned the fallen material in the forest. However, the conditions in the forest seemed a little bit too dry and windy for my comfort. So instead, we used the steel brazier to burn off wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of materials. The ash is eventually returned to the forest.

The steel brazier is used to burn off fallen forest materials

A 2.5 horsepower electric chipper is used to turn all of the smaller branches and leaves into mulch (a fancy name for soil food). The solar power system easily runs this sized motor.

A 22 year old 2.5 horsepower electric chipper converts small branches and leaves into mulch

Of course, there is little point owning such a machine if you don’t know how to maintain it. And I regularly sharpen the steel blades using an angle grinder. If a person had plenty of free time, the steel blades in the machine could just as easily be sharpened by hand – and they’d probably last longer as well.

The author sharpens the steel cutting teeth in the electric chipper

The mulch was then moved by wheelbarrow and placed on the bare soil surfaces of the new path that runs above the house.

Many wheelbarrows of mulch were placed on the bare soil of the new path which leads above the house

The wind on the very hot day was quite strong, and one of the larger quince trees which was growing in a garden bed, blew over. If I move the fruit tree now it will surely die. I will leave the job of moving it until next autumn when the weather is again cooler and wetter.

A large quince tree blew over in the recent hot winds

This time of year, we have finished making sake (rice wine), and begin making other fruit and flower based country wines. This week we produced four 5 litre (1.3 gallon) demijohns of elderflower wine. It is a very tasty wine and I note that the flavour is gaining popularity, however, I can’t say that I’m a fan of the smell when the mix is first prepared.

Elderflowers are used to produce a very tasty elderflower wine

We have quite a lot of different brews on the go at the moment. And the strong late spring sunshine really speeds the fermentation process along. The neighbours may be scandalised to see such activities taking place. Whatever!

Freaking out the neighbourhood! Our many country wines fermenting in the sunshine

Dung beetles have only been in the country for about 50 years, but even still they’re are plenty to be found around this farm. The beetles are tireless workers and assist in producing fertile soils.

A dung beetle in search of food

It is hard to believe how much the grass has grown in only a few weeks:

Grass growing in the shady orchard / abandoned farm

Late Spring Produce Update:

We have fresh strawberries
The broccoli plants began as seeds in late autumn are now producing florets
Apricots are only a few weeks away from ripening
Apples have now been pollinated and are beginning to grow in size
Likewise the Asian nashi pears are beginning to grow in size
This plum should be ready after the apricots have ripened
The mulberries are small but full of promise
Raspberries on the left and blackberries on the right
And the heat last week has finally convinced some of the tomato seeds to germinate

Onto the flowers:

The geraniums are very showy and heat hardy
Salvia’s grow in among the geraniums
Roses are also growing rampantly through the garden beds
The newly planted roses are beginning to produce flowers
Not much is as colourful as a cottage garden

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 17’C (63’F). So far this year there has been 683.2mm (26.9 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 682.8mm (26.9 inches).

63 thoughts on “I feel the need. The need for mead”

  1. Hi DJ,

    Maybe it’s just me, but why did the nuns have to solve a problem like Maria? 😉 Some just seek power and control and that particular religion prides itself on such heists. Hey, I’ve got Bob Seger playing softly in the background. His song: Turn the Page, hits just the right sort of note for me today.

    Who can recall last week, but I can recall the highly entertaining (whilst being mildly disturbing WWII due to the untimely endings that go along with the reality of such situations) film. And don’t you reckon the ending just proves that co-operation is a fine strategy?

    The European wasps are quite aggressive down here too. I think you call them ‘yellow jackets’? In hot and dry years they tend to begin to dominate, although they don’t do as well on the farm as they do over in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. Not sure why that is? Do you find their nuisance factor equal across your part of the world?

    Well, we continue to grow and learn if we allow it. There always seems something to learn, and I hope to keep doing so until I’m unable to do so. It’s not much to ask for is it?

    Oh my! Your weather has turned abruptly into the dark depths of early winter. Hope it doesn’t get too severe for you. The windows here are thrown wide open and I’m enjoying the promise of rain this evening.

    Dogs just know. Being unable to hear the magic of words, they judge people based on their actions. And I don’t doubt that the person gave Rahki reason to not trust him. Such folks do what I call: ‘trying it on’, and they’ll ever so slowly escalate the worst sides of their personalities. Some folks are trained to ignore red flag warnings, dogs are unencumbered with such faults.

    Hey, is it you or me, but I have this sneaking suspicion that the slaves in Egil’s tale made off with some of the loot? How circular is this discussion because it ended up where we began with Kelly’s Heroes?

    It’s a big call to suggest that Arthur was of Scottish origin. But I salute the authors attempt to co-opt the legend. It is wise to employ your in-built ‘bull-dust-ometer’. Everyone needs one of those.



  2. Hi Inge,

    Oh! I thought that oak leaf wine would have been known of. To be honest, I was wondering how the leaves would have provided the sugars for the yeasts (which are a fungi) to convert the sugars to alcohol (which is their waste product).

    I’ve planted many an oak acorn around here and some of the results of that activity is beginning to bear fruit. The oaks are gaining a bit of a foothold down under as they’ve been around for as long as we’ve been around, and like the Eucalyptus trees, they play a tough game.

    I observed how the oaks were great survivors of the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires, and I do wonder why more of the trees weren’t planted after the Eucalyptus forests were wiped out. The indigenous folks tend to see all of the players in an environment as part of the dreamtime – even the introduced players. I’m really unsure why people of European descent feel otherwise.



  3. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Regrets, well we’ve all had a few of those. 🙂 You know, I reckon we all need a few lifetimes, or maybe twenty, just to work out the rougher edges of our personalities! Mate, I recall taking my first girlfriend to a John Farnham concert, hoping that her parents would be OK with that. I was a rather independently minded young soul and may actually have forgotten to ask them for permission on the basis that the answer may possibly have been an emphatic ‘no’. And whilst doing that wholesome act, I went out with my mates on drunken Friday nights to punk clubs to slam dance with full-on-punks, whilst listening to songs where the English singer Morrisey bored me to tears as he whined on about being misunderstood and all. Back in those days I much preferred the sounds of Michael Stipe and the awesome band REM, but everyone has an opinion. Mind you, the punk clubs played REM so I was mildly mollified, mostly the played ‘End of the World as we know it’. A mate loaned me a copy of their album ‘Green’, and I was stuck on it for a year or so. Tonight I’m listening to Bob Seger and his song ‘Turn the Page’ has caught my imagination and state of emotion. But yeah, I hear your conundrum and would have done no less. You have to work with what you’ve got. It’s a n effective strategy after all.

    Oooo! My brain is spinning exorcist style, whilst I fathom the depths of what it means to not be a logic person. Is that really a worthy goal? Mind you, people do claim to be logical whilst their actions prove otherwise. I tend to feel that logic is a good tool and useful for some circumstances, but like the Vulcans, it can be a bit overdone.

    It is nice to be in good company, and we all let loose every now and then when the normally high standards slip. 🙂 All I can say is that you’re possibly ‘super-bad’, just like me! Hehe! Ah, I see what you mean about the colours on the original lithograph. They are a bit over-done, so I applaud your choice in sticking to a version with the more muted colours. Far out, you wouldn’t want to be in charge of the sacred fires at the temple should they have accidentally been extinguished. The knives were never far away in Ancient Rome.

    Thank you for the sage words of wisdom, and I’ll do my best, although I fully expect to fail at some point. e-bay is a constant source of temptation. I discovered a new type of prankster on that platform – the sort that does not have what they are purporting to offer. Such folks are probably morally flexible, and I fail to see why they do that particular act.

    I too have heard such stories. Such dastardly activities go on in the realm of music too and I have heard the tale recounted to me that changing one or two words of a proffered song makes an established artist (who may otherwise be having difficulty writing a new song) a co-author. The platform Amazin may possibly come to a bad end one day. The supply lines are long indeed.

    Isn’t it ironic that a fictional book about the future contains the possibility that books are banned? Literacy is declining even now. I really can’t understand why basic grammar and spelling isn’t being taught along with a love of books. Close enough, is sometimes not enough.

    I have a magic interweb wand and will give Damo a poke and forward your comment!



  4. Hello Chris
    I knew that honey was useful when applied externally to wounds but didn’t know about the anti inflammatory effect of drinking mead. Would eating honey have the same effect?
    Not keen on ants but they will completely destroy a tree stump if they make their home there, which is useful.
    To my surprise, I gather that Son has made oak leaf wine. He says that it was not a success. However, many years ago he found some oak leaf wine in our cellar which must have been made by my husband. Knowing that his father barely ever drank any alcohol, Son drank it. He says that it was wonderful but that it must have been many years old as it would have come from our previous residence in the country. We were now living in the middle of a town.


  5. Hi, Chris!

    Sparing a thought for the editor . . . Ants are often the bane of my existence in the summer, too. Oddly, they were very unaggressive this past summer, while our giant European Hornets – usually quite placid – were after everybody, and got them, too (including me). It sounds like DJSpo may have trouble with them, also.

    Thank you for the mead remedy. I am at this moment drinking a “tea” of 2 T. honey, juice of 1/2 lemon, and 1/4 t. powdered ginger root, with boiling water poured over it all in a mug. This is for a cough, and is working really well.

    Isn’t it interesting how we make all of those choices in life when we are young and – in my case for sure – don’t really know what we are doing? Ah – but it is for the mistakes, which are the only way we truly learn anything.

    Ollie, you are smushing Scritchy! Though she does seem to be enjoying it. Boy, can I see your freckles. There are thousands of them.

    That is so hot, and we are not even near the solstice.

    A sunset with lace . . .

    You guys have the neatest forest in the state of Victoria. Thank goodness, as it could be a matter of life and death. I bought myself a small brazier last week when I spotted one on sale, this being well past the BBQ season. I have just realized that both of our states are named after queens, mine being Virginia (Elizabeth I).

    I love that chipper so much. It is so small and compact. It doesn’t look like it would eat me up like the bigger ones. Oops – I see one has to sharpen the blades. Oh, well – we know who could do that . . .

    Did the quince tree have wet roots?

    The demijohns look like they are full of orange juice.

    I love our dung beetles. I am so glad that you have some, too.

    What lush grass. One thinks – cow. Then one thinks – not cow.

    I see the Portuguese millipedes are not getting all of the strawberries.

    This appears to be the Year of the Apricot. I forgot that you had mulberries, like we do. They are the only fruit trees that seem to need no care (they do grow wild here). That may be my favorite fruit.

    The geraniums are lovely. You should see the geraniums that I brought inside for the winter. About half of the leaves immediately fall off when I do so. They look quite skeletal and it will be 3 more months before the leaves grow back and they start to bloom again. They can go back outside in mid April.

    Or maybe it is the Year of the Rose . . .


  6. @ Inge and Margaret:

    From last week: I had just the same sort of Latin teacher in highschool. It was my very favorite class for 2 years.


  7. Yo, Chris – Well, you could satisfy your lust for Ray-ban aviator sunglasses, now :-). That’s what a lot of the urge to collect is all about. Replacing or acquiring things missing, or lost from youth.

    The poor Editor! Nothing as bad as an itch. Last year, it was leaches, and this year bull ants. Are strawberries worth it? Well, yes. Luckily for us, I see by a quick scroll down that it didn’t get her camera trigger finger. Well, drink enough mead and it’s not so much it’s an anti-inflammatory, as, perhaps, you just don’t care :-).

    Ah, yes. Pivotal moments. When nothing moves, but in your head, the world tips and everything slides into a corner.

    Looks more like Ollie is snuggling up to Scritchy :-).

    Your electric chipper looks, dare I say, kind of cute. A little on the small side to handle those pesky body parts. Should it ever be needed to be pressed into that kind of service.

    Poor quince! Yup. Best wait to try a remedy until it’s more dormant. Might want to prop it up, in the meantime. Maybe increase the length of the prop, every week or so, by a couple of inches? Not that I know what I’m talking about.

    So, would you say the dung beetle is that rare bird, the successful introduction? The Egyptians were quit taken with the dung beetle. Made representations of them, out of all kinds of materials, and even worked them into jewelry. Scarabs. I’ve always wanted to have a scarab, lying about. Or, three. Or, five. When I was a wee small lad, there was a huge case of them, in the dusty, dark hall way on the way to the bogs. Hundreds of scarabs, in all different materials, mounted on pins. The mirrored back of the case was so you could see the hieroglyphics, on the back. I think they were used, sometimes, as seals.

    So, with all that fruit about to tumble in, do you feel a bit like a deer in the headlights? :-). I don’t think I’ve ever seen such deep red geraniums. Matches the deep red rose. Looks like they like where they’re living. Cont.

  8. Cont. Well, I’m surprised you didn’t come out of your “Punk Period” with numerous tattoos and piercings. That we know of. Or were you perhaps just a “week-end” punk? 🙂

    I quit liked early REM. Just the other night, I cranked up the YouTube juke box, and spun a few of their platters.

    Logic was that class in college, that I dropped, as I knew I could never wrap my head around it. As it was taught. Often, things that seem very logical to us, are not delivered by the world. Is it a fault in our logic, or in the world’s logic? Or, are there other things at play, like, oh, I don’t know … power and control? :-).

    One of the things I found while poking about, on line, for the temple, was a very old Sears site. The picture was long gone, but I speculate that somewhere along the way, Sears had sold a reproduction, in the more garish colors. The dealer that I bought the print from mentioned that it’s not on “The List.” There’s a list of known Currier and Ives prints, that runs to 7,000+ entries. There are always “unknown” Currier and Ives prints, turning up.

    Snow was on our National Weather Service forecast, and then off. Now, it’s back on, again. For late Tuesday night. But it still sounds pretty “iffy.” “Possibility of mixed rain or snow.” And the precipitation amount forecast is only a 20% possibility. With no acumilation. (sic). I’d say we’d be lucky to get a 5 or 10 minute flurry. It’s been pretty sunny, over the last 24 hours. But we’ve had 10 minute bursts of heavy rainfall, and, once, small hail. Lew

  9. Chris,

    But, but, but Maria was studying to be a nun and was acting most not nunlike and so she was a problem to be solved and…oh, you covered that. That religion needs to control. Agreed on cooperation.

    I can probably get better “control” of the yellow jackets if I were to apply bug spray to my lawns. Then their food source would be diminished and they would go elsewhere. My neighbors spray their lawns and have few yellow jackets in their lawns. Or birds in their yards. Or honeybees or bumblebees or squirrels or any fun critters…So I have an uneasy truce with the yellow jackets. Both they and I have learned the limits of aggression before the other species gets irritated. Limits and boundaries and some cooperation.

    Oh yeah the boyfriend gave us ALL plenty of reasons not to trust him. My sister saw through him, but whenever he was around she was pampered. Eventually my sister’s friends would spot him in the company of some skank, sis would totally embarrass him about it and he’d never know how she knew, and he’d disappear for a few months. A running joke was that one of us would say, “It’s about time for doofus to call” and he would within a day or so. One time, I made that statement, the phone instantly rang, and it was doofus. Rakhi, being smart AND unencumbered, was able to do to him what the humans in the family wished we could do.

    Kelly’s Heroes is worthy of being circled back to. The implication with Egil, however, is that he buried the slaves with the treasure, at least that’s how I read the saga.

    I returned that book on Arthur to the library. Too many “if you assume this, and then accept that the acceptable dates for that is wrong and redate it to when I want it so my thesis is true, and if we assume that the more inaccurate of the two inaccurate hagiographies of Gildas is actually true in the places that support me, and then assume that…” While we’ll never really know what actually happened back then, I must say that Arthur is a name unknown in Britain until THE Arthur, and that there were several, including the Scottish Arthur mac Aedan, a generation later.

    Scritchy the Pillow Hound? Is that what Ollie thinks? And did I see The Aging Hound supervising the filling of the brazier and hounding into other photos as well? What does Ollie think about Somebody Else being in the most photos?

    I agree with Lewis about the chipper. It can get some small work done, but if the evidence needs to be turned to mulch, said chipper might be a bit undersized.

    Those country wines are looking good. And I’m jealous: a bottle of 3 year old home made mead? Dude, that must taste wonderful.

    Beetles. Thanks for reminding me with a picture of the dung beetle. I left beetles off the list of bugs in my yard that would disappear if I sprayed. All the critters that bring life to the earth are great to have around.

    That broccoli is looking good. That’s something I’ll have to try growing it one of these years. We eat enough of it here that we should maybe grow some.

    Germinating tomatoes at last! Congrats.


  10. Hi Inge,

    It is worthwhile noting that the mead we drink has no added preservatives. The editor suggests that consuming honey has a similar effect to the mead. And it is worthwhile getting to know your apiarist because some cheeky scamps have been substituting sugar syrup for honey (or mixing it in). And down here there have been suggestions that some of those products have hit the shelves. There was a bit of an outcry in the media for a while, and then they went on to the next outrage. I do worry about the short attention span and lack of historical perspective of the media.

    Yeah, the ants are useful in converting plant material into soil. Even so, tree stumps take decades to break down here. I’m not really sure why that is, but no doubt it is a combination of factors. Unfortunately, my ants tend to be very warlike.

    Thanks for the feedback on the oak leaf wine, and your husband may have had a secret talent for wine making?



  11. @ Lew
    I tried to study logic for an exam when I was 39 and had to give it up. It completely defeated me even though a surprised friend tried very hard to help me.


  12. Hi Pam,

    One could do far worse than ‘Year of the Rose’. 🙂 I’m really curious to see what each of the new rose flowers look like. And I reckon we stuffed up and planted a climbing rose on the new terrace. It seems to be growing faster than all of the rest combined. There was a mix up before planting, something involving identification tags and wind, although the details are murky…

    I’ll bet the ants didn’t much enjoy your wetter year last summer? They love dry conditions. Have you ever noticed how they can predict the rain and construct little protective earth mounds around the entrances to their nests?

    Oh yeah, your giant European Hornets are my European wasps. Nasty little critters. They’re not so bad here, but over in the more fashionable part of the mountain range they’re quite pesky. The traps are fairly easy to set up – involve sugar syrup, and at least you can compost the results. And they work.

    Hope you feel better soon. I had a cold a few weeks back at it was a pest. Lemon and ginger tea is nice, and if it came with freckles, you might be able to call it a Sour Ginger freckle tea?

    I likewise had little idea and absolutely no guidance to fall back upon when the road became uncertain and full of thick fog. It is funny how we are chucked into the world as kids and adults and not provided with useful guidance. Dunno. But yeah, trial and error is the only way to learn in such scenarios. What else do you do?

    Hehe! Scritchy loves Ollie, despite pretending otherwise. And if you look into your mug of tea, you may see an equivalent number of freckles.

    Yeah, Thursday was crazy, and today felt like winter. 53’F and driving rain (1/5th of an inch). In the really high country down here snow fell today, and yet elsewhere on the continent there are out of control bushfires. Bonkers.

    I’d like to think so. Neat is as neat as. And the entire idea is to reduce the heat from any possible fire so that the trees, birds, animals, insects and soil critters all survive. Plenty of people have trouble grasping that concept, but then maybe I expect too much.

    Yes, such is the way of things. Elizabeth I of England was a towering great. And who would have thought that in the background advice was received from all comers, including Hermetic philosophers. Her reign was long and successful when other regents travelled through turbulent waters in those days.

    The electric chipper chopper is a pleasant and quiet machine to use. It provides me with the services of two and a half horses (I do hope that the unfortunate half horse has accommodated itself to lacking two legs?) all powered by sunshine. The larger machines (which I have dabbled with) present greater opportunities for trouble, but unless they’re of extraordinary horsepower, I’ve found they’re quite useless. If I was going to purchase one, I’d go for an 18 horsepower device. Anything less is disappointing.

    Nope. The quince tree was too well fed in the garden bed and as a consequence had too shallow roots.

    As a cautionary note, I once tried fermenting fruit juice that a visitor left – and the sugar levels were a bit crazy.

    Blessed are the dung beetles – the unsung heroes of the soil world.

    Pam, lead me not into temptation. Cows and/or milking goats or sheep would be a lot of hassle.

    Portuguese millipedes are but a piffle. Mind you, I’m removing them at a furious rate.

    Mulberries are a true delight. I grow: black, white and red mulberries and they’re all tasty. What variety do you get growing?

    April will be here before you know what happened. Watch out that the King Parrots don’t try to consume your geraniums – you never know if someone has released bizarre pets into the wider world in your part of the world?



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my goodness – lead me not into temptation! I dub thee ’Sir Bad Influence of the Fluffy territories’ this evening for that particular suggestion. Mind you, the passion for Aviator sunglasses has cooled somewhat over the years. Given that purportedly a sequel to the film is to be released next year, the astute supplier would stock up on such merchandising well before hand. And survive the wave by catering to its needs. I’ve seen the film: The Perfect Storm, you know.

    The facts in this particular instance speak for themselves and we were both out harvesting ripe berries this evening. Some are consumed fresh with breakfast, but most berries will end up in either strawberry jam or strawberry wine. I have no idea how any berries ripened today. Despite the crazy hot day last Thursday, it barely reached past 53’F today and at times the rain has hitting the south facing windows hard. I’d have to suggest that Antarctica is waking from its long slumber. Have you ever taken a cold shower? Well Antarctica has multiplied that particular effect by several thousand percentage points.

    The editor is of a stoic nature, and I will forward your kind feedback regarding the photos.

    I do often wonder if people can recognise they are at a pivotal moment. I saw the future flash before me during that particular meeting – and it was an ugly future that I just didn’t want anything to do with. Speaking of which I’d be appreciative of some sage advice. I’m unsure whether it is the age I am at, but of late whenever I’m catching up with people it seems to be that they are enduring difficult times or relationship troubles. It has not always been thus, and I’m feeling that there are too many incidents to be a coincidence. Did you travel through such a time with your friends? And can you offer any helpful suggestions to navigate the murky waters?

    Hehe! Yeah, there is a bit of that with Ollie and Scritchy. She’s a bit too cool for school sometimes, but then occasionally her cold heart melts.

    I reckon a machine with about 18 horses could do that particular job, but then perhaps pigs would be more thorough as they could crunch the bones.

    Thanks for the suggestions regarding the quince tree, and I wouldn’t have thought of doing that. In the short term I’ll keep an eye on it and hopefully it just keeps growing. But I will have to prune it hard before relocating it. I reckon the soil was too rich in the garden bed where it was planted and the tree never developed strong and large root systems.

    Most of the food plants that we consume come from elsewhere, so there are plenty of successful introductions. What I’d worry about are introductions that arrive from off-planet. Yeah, they’d present some challenges. But then there is a theory going around that plenty of space objects have hit the planet since its early days, and maybe my perspective is still too small? Makes you wonder, huh?

    It is funny you mention that about the harvest, but one of the things we’ve learned over the past few years is to set aside enough appropriate time in order to deal with the harvest. Growing the stuff is but the beginning of the story. In the early years, you are right, and it was a problem.

    Hey, I nicked those deep red geraniums from cuttings I took from a front garden (they were leaning over the footpath – that’s my story and I’m sticking with it) in the big smoke. They’re an absolute ripper of a colour.

    I can confirm – and for the record – there are no tattoo’s or piercings. When you mentioned Animal House the other day (a worthy mention on any day) I checked out a video of the Four Kingsmen from around that time doing, you guessed it: Louie Louie – The Kingsmen at The Delta House – 1983. The mosh pit there in front of the band was probably considered rather punk at the time. And I’m old enough to recall that people back in the day referred to Billy Joel as a punk. Funny stuff upon reflection.

    Nice style, and I salute your good taste. I dare not mention that I like their old stuff better than their new stuff, if only because sooner or later people will be saying that about the blog here. 🙂 I’m still scratching my head as to why 20% of the readers got so upset at the joke blog I wrote about the restaurant escalation (The Wrong One) a few weeks back and just up and left. The loss matters not, because they don’t contribute to the lovely discussions, but I’m curious as to the ‘why’ of it, because I feel there is a larger story in there and my mind is not clear on the matter. Have you got any ideas about that?

    Too true about logic. We’re not really taught to weigh and consider matters, and I feel that that is a bad thing. It is not hard to teach a person that skill if they’re willing. I suspect that the forces that be are going to ensure that it doesn’t occur anytime soon.

    Out of curiosity is there any value to discovering a Currier and Ives print that is not on the list? Like, does it have collectable value due to its rarity?

    I thought the weather here was feral. Reading the good Professor Cliff Mass latest essay, I can see that south of you is in for a wild ride. Hold onto your hat!



  14. Hi DJ,

    Oh my goodness! All this talk of the Sound of Music, and I solely blame Lewis for putting this thought into my head, but I’m feeling physically twitchy. Hehe! Whatever are we going to do with a problem like musicals? That is the question that the nuns should have asked. Maria, she had nothing to worry about other than escaping into Switzerland. How hard could that be? And I note that after the trek, they all looked way too clean – but I can’t be sure whether I’ve seen the full film or not. What I do know is that I’ve walked 18 days in the Himalayas and I can tell you that there are no baths up there. Washy-wash water, yeah, but no baths. And all that singing and dancing in the musical would tire a person out before they’d even climbed the first huge mountain. An hour or two of strenuous exercise and you’ve reached the plateau of this mountain range – but this ain’t the European alps! 🙂 Did I mention that they looked rather ill equipped for a flight from the nazi regime and climb across the alps? Musicals, pass me the beer nuts (to misquote Norm from Cheers).

    Down here they use traps with sugary water to catch the European wasps, and it helps a lot. Like the ants, the wasps are very aggressive, and fortunately more readily encountered over in the fashionable end of the mountain range than here. Not sure why that would be. And yes, the sprays have a kill one, kill all sort of effect. Gardens in the big smoke are very quiet places on an insect front.

    Some people can turn others into fools (sorry to say), even if they are otherwise sensible and discerning. Mate, I’ve seen such things happen, and I once had a house mate climb out the bathroom window of a second story apartment and scale down the water pipes when his pregnant girlfriend turned up at the door. They eventually had two kids, and he continued on his crazy adventures and I doubt they ever stuck at the relationship for long, although I cut ties with him shortly after that because he stole stuff from me, including my ID and got into trouble with the police for driving offenses and said he was me. I may have written a blog about that a few years back. Nice, and a heck of a mess to unravel. You know the truly strange thing was that a few other friends under his sway said I should have supported him. Hmm. I lost a few friends out of that mess.

    Ouch. Probably best to avoid being a slave. The early convicts down here were no better than slaves. Appalling conditions.

    The gentle art of speculation – or better recalled as: Why let facts and evidence get in the way of a good story? 🙂 I suspect Arthur got around, and he sure cast a long shadow. I’m always unsure why some of the legends suggest that he is only asleep and not dead (like everyone else after being mortally wounded). Can you shed any light on that aspect of the story?

    Ollie is just resting his head but for a moment, and I can assure you that if Scritchy wasn’t happy, she’d let Ollie know about it. The two smaller dogs are brutal with him when they’re bringing him to heel, and he is so gentle with them both. They’re his mates, and they all get along pretty well. Ollie does however have a jealous streak, and he hadn’t been counting Toothy’s photo opportunities. Possibly distracting bones were involved, and Ollie was otherwise occupied.

    A now dead criminal who later in life turned into a successful author (and was the subject of a film with Eric Bana – Chopper) quipped: “Australia is big place, and shovels are cheap”. Large chippers may it be stated for the record – are not cheap.

    Thanks, and the 3 year old mead was indeed very good. Most of the wines we enjoy are about 18 months aged, and that’s a good age for country wine. Anything less than 12 months is frankly a bit rough, but still drinkable.

    Yup, spraying is bad, although a tiny bit of spraying is probably not a drama. Unfortunately most people take things to extremes and then tell themselves that it all doesn’t matter. I’m really not joking around when I say that I see very few if any insects in the big smokes gardens. It wasn’t always that way.

    Hey, broccoli is really good, but I reckon in your part of the world you’d have to get the plant off to an early start. It’s survived both frosts and snowfall, which admittedly are probably light compared to what you enjoy, but still…

    This weekend the weather is going to turn feral cold again, and possibly an inch of rain will fall. I honestly don’t know what to make of this growing season (which possibly may be short and sharp this year). What is this about cyclone bombs?



  15. Chris:

    All but one of our roses are climbers. Maybe they do better in shade than other roses?

    I looked in the store for wasp traps and didn’t find any. I will look up how to make my own; thanks.

    A continent is a big place.

    18 horsepower indeed! Maybe 17 1/2 . . .

    We have black, white, and red mulberries, too.

    I’ve nicked many a cutting and seeds from front gardens and public displays. I figure that if it overhangs a public footpath or road, it is public. Which doesn’t actually mean that it is mine, however . . .

    The why of the restaurant story: You wrote it so skillfully that it seemed to be a real event and anyone who reads your blog knows that such behavior is totally foreign to your nature, and it frightens people to see that happen.

    You are doing me in with your suppositions about Maria’s trek.


  16. Hello again
    A supermarket here has just had to remove their own brand honey from the shelves as it had also been adulterated with sugar syrup.
    My husband did make wine even though he rarely drank it. The best that I ever remember was a rhubarb wine, second was one from yellow plums.


  17. @ Inge – I was trying to think of a word to describe the study of logic. Arcane. A mashup between the Latin words arca (a chest) and accere (to shut in, or lock up). Yup. That’s logic. Buried in a chest that I’ve lost the key. 🙂 Lew

  18. Hi Chris,
    I hope the editor has gotten over the ant attack. I’m going to have to pass that info about mead – another good reason to make more. That display of mead is quite impressive.

    What a great picture of Scritchy and Ollie though I hope he doesn’t squish her.

    We get a lot of dust from the farm fields. Because of all the trees our house is fairly dark but there is a good side to that – you don’t see dust and dirt as well. There are times when sunshine is not your friend haha.

    I would also like to try elderflower wine. Is there a way to preserve the blossoms for later use? Drying perhaps?

    The yellow jackets show up in August/September and they can be nasty stinging without provocation. Kids were always getting stung right when school first started up and they always thought they were bees giving bees a bad name. Actually most people call them bees. They take over the hummingbird feeder as well.

    We’ve had a couple of very nice days – sunny and in the low 50’s but even with that there is still a little snow left. Starting tonight we’re in for high winds (possible gusts 50 to 60 mph) and rain but it’ll be gone for Thanksgiving but rain and snow returns for Friday through Sunday. Doug is selling his honey at the Christmas tree farm across from our old house and he only has a pop up shelter so is not looking forward at all. We’re off to our youngest daughter’s house in Chicago for Thanksgiving though I have some cooking to do tomorrow for our contributions.


  19. Yo, Chris – Reading over your, and DJ’s shoulder, why only sleeping? Wishful thinking. The hero that’s going to ride in on a white horse, and put all things right.

    Sage advice: Have as little to do with people, in the first place. :-). So, why now. Well, it’s been done to death, and is kind of a cliche, but I suppose “mid-life crisis” is as good a reason, as any. Try to look interested, and make sympathetic noises. And, try to remember, their pain goes on longer, than your interest. As an idle thought, I wonder if some of it has to do with the general collapse, that seems to be happening. As Mr. Greer often points out, it’s very irregular. Doesn’t happen, or effect all people at the same time, or, equally.

    Ah, the Kingsmen. We share a hometown. That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee. I’ve always liked Billy Joel, and throw a disc in the old CD player, from time to time. His melodies have a good beat, and tell a story. Plus, it appeals to my mysterious interest in New York City. Maybe I lived there in a previous life? Which reminds me. “The Goldfinch” showed up in the library catalog, and I’m low enough on the hold list that I may be able to see it, in this lifetime.

    Well, that’s odd that you lost 20% of your readers. I guess they didn’t read far enough to get the joke. Their loss. How many times over at Mr. Greer’s has he pointed out that some commenter, obviously didn’t read his post? Or, maybe, a nest of bots got cleaned out. It’s amazing how the amount of junk e-mail, rises and falls in my accounts. The ebb and flow of the net?

    Hmmm. Currier and Ives and value. Just because it’s rare and old, doesn’t mean it’s valuable. Of course, there is condition. They had margins, and trimmed margins to fit a particular picture frame, is a bad thing. There’s “foxing” and discoloration. But some of that can be fixed. I may give it a whirl, sometime. Also, there was a bad habit of backing the prints with thin wood. That could also discolor. Sun bleaching, etc.. Currier and Ives also printed their pictures in three, pretty standard sizes. The larger ones bring more money. But what it really boils down to is subject matter. They did a lot of clipper ships. Those bring big bucks. They did a series called “Life of a Fireman”. For some reason, anything to do with fires are valuable. And there was in interest in that, even before the rise of the Cult of First Responders. Sporting prints. Hunting and horse racing. Almost anything to do with the Civil War. And some just appeal to people’s nostalgia. There’s a series called “American Farmstead” (I think) that shows a farm in all four seasons. There’s a couple of maple sugaring prints, and a corn husking bee. You get the idea that it’s a yearning for some mythical, golden rural past.

    Yes, I see the coast storm is just making landfall, now. With winds already toping 80 mph. Let’s hope it doesn’t turn north, as the Columbus Day Storm, did. But, with all the cold air flowing in from the north, that’s probably doubtful. But the initial track is the same as Columbus Day. In from the northwest and slams into the coast.

    Snow is off the forecast, again, for this evening. Who do I sue for whiplash? It’s supposed to get down to -0- C, here, tonight. And then three or four nights of low 20s F. We’re supposed to get winds of 20mph plus, tomorrow. But it’s not related to the big storm.

    I harvested some of my Brussels sprouts, yesterday. Did a little more general cleanup, in the garden. Pulled A carrot and A beet. Chopped them up with some parsley and potatoes, also from the garden, toss with rice and secret herbs and spices. Mushrooms. Nothing tastes like roots, pulled a few hours before. In my wind up to Thanksgiving, I’ll make cranberry sauce, today.

    Thought of another word that you can add to your stock of backwoods vocabulary. :-). In some quarters, “herbs” was pronounced “yarbs.” Lew

  20. @ Marg,

    I truly feel your pain with losing many over several years, which is really a fairly short period of time. From early 2008 until 2012 we lost, one per year, my wife’s oldest brother, her mother, my dad, my mom, my only uncle. Plus 3 of my wife’s close cousins who were younger than either of us. We’re in another round of such things again. And there was caregiving for various and sundry relatives, another round of which is ongoing. Shell shocked isn’t too strong a phrase.

    Kudos to you and Doug for working through the mess together. I know it has made us a stronger couple, but it sure as heck hurts and isn’t any fun at all.

    So I know some of what you must be experiencing and have honest sympathy and towering respect.


  21. Chris,

    Yes, let’s blame the Sound of Music thread on Lewis. Those folks west of the Cascades are always to be suspected! 😉 Well, except Lewis lives outside of the “weird zone”, so he’s in the “good zone”.

    I noticed that too – they were way to clean and much under prepared in the movie, at least. The movie made it look like a simple walk through the local city park.

    I set out traps for the wasps also. The ones I buy just need water added. It’s a mix of sugar and pheromones. I set them out as soon as things started getting warm this year, and it seemed to make a difference. Apparently I trapped a lot of queens. A friend’s father did a study 40 years ago and concluded that for every wasp caught/killed before July 4, there are 100 fewer come late August and September.

    I used to use Round-Up on weeds. I ceased doing that about 10 years ago. More birds, the honey bees and bumblebees came back in force, I see a greater diversity of insect life throughout the yard. And the neighbors’ yards look dead, at least as far as birds and bees and bugs are concerned.

    I’ve never understood why one is supposed to support a “friend’ who turns into a putz and treats one like garbage. The fluffies treat wombat poo with more respect than some “friends” I’ve had have treated me. And “I’m sorry” doesn’t fix a thing. Forgive and forget has dropped out of my vocabulary – if I forget then I can’t adapt and grow and do what needs to be done.

    Mr. Greer was talking in the comments a few weeks back (his main forum) about several heroes, kings, what have you who are supposed to be sleeping and will return in the future when the need is most dire. Frederick Barbarossa is one that I recall was mentioned in addition to Arthur. Methinks it is something that has been part of Indo-European culture for millennia. I don’t know why. Also several middle eastern and Mediterranean cults also had the “3 days in a tomb and return to life” idea from about 200 b.c. IIRC.

    The tribal land where my wife is from is large, remote and sparsely settled. Chainsaws, axes and shovels are routinely owned and used, so it would be easy for the unsuspecting jerk to, ummm, “get eaten by Sasquatch”.

    When I try growing broccoli, it will be in a container and under the patio roof. No snow or frost there…

    There are 2 major events occurring in the Pacific Northwest. The first has been occurring throughout the 26th and will be confined to west of the Cascades. The worst is near Eureka, California. Huge, swirling storm that has allegedly boasted winds on the Oregon/California coasts over 100mph. That’s probably the “cyclonic bomb”, which might even drop some snow in Portland, Oregon, but the mountains throughout California may get several feet. Cliff Mass had an entry about it on the 26th.

    The 2nd will blast through from the north, an “Arctic Express”, with no snow, temperatures dropping somewhat but not desperately low, and with winds gusts up to 55 mph where I live. Sustained winds in the low 30s. 9The wind chill will be nasty!) That will hit late on the 26th or early on the 27th, the winds supposed to disappear late morning of the 28th. We had a bad windstorm in November 2015. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2016/nov/17/2015-windstorm-whipped-up-by-a-convergence-of-even/
    This one shouldn’t rival it, but the wind will come from the north, rather than the prevailing southwest. That could cause a huge problem with toppling trees and branches. I can’t remember north winds as strong as these are supposed to be.


  22. Hi Pam, Inge, Margaret, Lewis, and DJ (did I just slip in an Oxford Comma?)

    Tis the mid-week hiatus, Tes not natural! Thanks for the lovely comments, however tonight I snuck into the big smoke and so am unable to reply but plan to do so tomorrow. Until then…



  23. Hi Lewis,

    It had been a while since I walked through the streets of the big smoke, and today seemed like a nice day at about 77’F, so I jumped on an afternoon train and headed on in. It can be quite confronting to see how packed the streets of Melbourne are – especially when it is so quiet up here. The contrast can be quite drastic on the senses. So, I did a huge walk and stopped off at the very cool hat shop. Summer is almost here and that calls for a Panama hat, or am I mistaken in this belief? Some stranger remarked to me in passing: Cool Hat. I was pretty chuffed about that, and alas it is not blue – I’m not worthy of blue hats…

    Anyway, the walk would not be complete without a coffee and a small slice of French vanilla custard tart – which was very tasty. And then Singapore noodles for dinner.

    Such activities does not make for an early evening, so I’m tired.

    I do hope if Arthur rides on in that he’s prepared for what might confront him? Mind you, he’s a character for the Dark Ages and there is a bit of a ways to go yet.

    Thanks for the advice, and yeah, you may have confirmed my worst fears. I reckon pain was the correct word and not one that would have occurred to me. I was perhaps an early bloomer and got my cliche out of the way early. You’re probably right too about larger issues impacting on peoples expectations as to what life should deliver to their door. The other side of the door can be very different indeed these days. I kind of annoy people sometimes because they seek to whine, and I listen sympathetically and then if it goes on too long I begin making helpful suggestions to improve their lot. People don’t really want to hear such words. Now of course it is not lost on me that people wish that things continue even after the point of no return, but then things need to hit the poop before they admit to change. I reckon I’m approaching their peak poop on that particular front as a lot of people I know seem to be having troubles… That sounds a bit like Dirty Harry – and thus we return to Clint Eastwood again this week.

    Yeah, I too liked Billy Joel’s music and he is a great story teller. Need I add Scenes from an Italian restaurant? Musicians have to compress their stories into the most salientbits and just keep it to the point. Ah, your ‘too read’ list is groaning – I hear you!

    I keep the bots at bay regularly, if only because I’m not really interested in wide readership. But yeah, only reading part of the blog and ditching it after that one, despite having read the blog for a while. Interesting, there’s certainly an element of intolerance out there, and that is what piques my curiosity about it. There is no loss due to the loss of readers because they do not contribute to the discussion so I fail to understand what they get out of it all. One of my insights into volunteering was that there is a mentality which I’m just guessing at, but I feel that it suggests that ‘you’re only as good as the last thing you did’. And to my mind that takes a big dump on social credits, which I’m guessing not many folks put much credence into.

    Gotta hit the sack, I’m tired. Good luck with the storm and may it not venture towards the north.



  24. Yo, Chris – Yeah, I think I mentioned when I first moved here, and then took a trip back to Portland after some months, I wondered why everyone was running :-). Blue hats: Oh, well. Next life.

    LOL. Well, you may think you have escaped the dreaded Mid-Life Crisis. But there is the Big Bright Green Mystery Machine. And, another one on the way. And, a shed to house it all. :-). Ok. They’re useful. And, at least, not a hot sports car.

    “You’re only as good as the last thing you did.” I often went “the extra mile” at jobs. And, often, didn’t feel very appreciated, for it. Ron, over in Idaho, joined a gun club. And, he’s really put a lot of time and effort, into it. Joined the board, etc. Well, a couple of the members were pitching him a lot of poop. So, Ron just said, he wouldn’t stand for the board, next year, and, would only do the projects he felt like. Ron’s pretty easy going. Good for him.

    The storm must really be something. They closed I-5, south of Ashland, Oregon, and into California. I haven’t seen many pictures yet, from down that way. Except for an 18 wheeler, in a snow filled ditch. Clear and cold, here, this morning. I see, for the first time, that there is snow on Baw Faw Peak. Tonight’s low is forecast to be in the mid 20sF. Snow in the forecast for Sat./Sun.. We’ll see. We’re supposed to have wind gusts to 25mph, this afternoon. I better get out there and do what needs to be done, early.

    I made 3+ pints of cranberry jelly, last night. Not bad. So, that’s out of the way. I’ll make my pumpkin pie, today. I’ve decided to cheat, and go with a graham cracker crust, instead of pastry. Cheating, but less fraught. :-). I did my weeks shopping, a day early, last night. Tonight, will be a zoo. The checker said it was a zoo, earlier, yesterday. He had to circle the block a couple of times, to find parking. He wondered if they’d miss him if he didn’t show up :-).

    Off to scout the antique mall, before the big sale on Friday. Treasures! Lew

  25. Hi Chris,

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the elderflowers smelled similarly to the elderberries when we are steam-extracting the juice from them for elderberry wine. It’s not an appealing smell. But after a year or so of aging, we receive for our trouble a fine wine that gets better at each anniversary. I think the oldest batch we’ve drunk was four-ish years old and it was excellent. We bought some dried elderflowers that are waiting to be processed into wine in order to find out how elderflower wine compares to elderberry wine.

    My mother-in-law seemed to really enjoy the pie social the nursing home held for residents and family members last Friday night, which Mike and I attended. While most of what she said wasn’t connected with conventional reality and she’d developed twitches and tremors, she knew us and she ate most of the generous slice of pie and helping of vanilla ice cream along with about half of a quart / liter bag of candy and pretzels. (The pecan pie slice I had was delicious.) By Sunday evening the nursing home called Mike to say she’d become unresponsive. Late this morning (Wednesday) she died. We were with her when she died and it was a peaceful death. For that, and for the fact that she made it into July before she began declining enough to land her in the nursing home two months later, we are grateful. And yes, the family Thanksgiving dinner is happening as usual.

    Happy Thanksgiving to all who celebrate it!

  26. Hi Lew,

    Thanks for the suggestion, that trailer is certainly not family friendly, and it looks fantastic 🙂 The writer created and wrote the also not family friendly “In the Thick of It”, and the hilarious, very not family friendly, “Veep”. I notice a trend….


  27. Hi Inge,

    Yeah, the honey thing surprised me too, but then I first became aware of the problem a few years ago. I bought honey from a new source and the mead produced from the honey tasted very odd, almost artificially sweet, like saccharine. I fed the wine to the worms as they are less fussy than I. Incidentally, at the time I did not understand why that happened, but then someone let the cat out of the bag in the media.

    Spare a thought for poor Ollie who appears to have accidentally inhaled a grass seed through his nose. I suspect he ejected it and is now only mildly irritated.

    We’ve spoke of rhubarb wine before, and I also reckon that it produces a fine and very delicate tasting wine.

    A superb day here today. 70’F with a cool breeze and we worked until sundown. We’ve begun installing the fencing around the new terrace project.



  28. Hi Margaret,

    The mead really works well with ant bites and bee stings. Of course not much works better than time and anti-histamines (but they’re also found in a lot of garden fresh foods). Thanks! We take wine production very seriously, almost as seriously as outraging the neighbours who may happen to see the wine production. 🙂

    Ollie is pretty gentle with the smaller dogs, and they deal hard to him when he gets out of hand. They were a bit nervous of him at first due to his sheer size, but that was a long time in the past and now they treat him like any other dog. Have your two had to accommodate smaller dogs?

    Oh yeah, late afternoon sunshine streaming in under the verandas shows way too much dust for my comfort levels. We’ve been talking for a few years about doing a proper room by room spring clean. But at this stage, it is all talk. After a decade of residence, the house could use a minor freshen up. In a note of true horror, we visited a historic house a while back, and we walked away from the experience discovering that the conditions inside the house were very sub fluffy optimal – so there is a minimum cleanliness threshold in there that nobody really wants to experience!

    Elderberries are a bit weedy here, and they are popping up all over the place. The upside of that is that there are so many flowers that I’ve never thought to preserve them (other than in wine). I see that Claire mentioned using dried elderberry flowers, so you may find your answer in that direction.

    The insects are a nuisance down here too, although something here on the farm keeps them more or less in check (possibly lack of habitat). They can sometimes set up hives in the firewood piles and that is not good at all. Interestingly the wasps love meat scraps, rubbish and sugary drinks. And I’ve seen them swarming over the fruit on apple trees (I put my hand on them once on an wild apple but they were so busy eating they didn’t sting me).

    Hope the trees at the Christmas tree farm are OK in the wind? And I do not envy Doug those conditions for selling honey, hope he is OK. Happy Thanksgiving!



  29. Hi DJ,

    I tend to feel that Lewis’s shoulders are strong enough to bear the burden of blame for mentioning the unmentionable – musicals. 🙂 Honestly I forget who first brought the subject up. Mate, years ago I went with friends to see a theatre production of ‘Hair’ the musical. The songs were very catchy, but I just wasn’t relating to the hippies at all. It is probably a personal failing of mine. At least nobody asks me to go see musicals in these enlightened times. I agree, Lewis does live outside the ‘weird zone’ and I have read unusual accounts of the two big cities that are closer to the coast.

    Exactly, where was the dirt, small child with sprained ankle who puts everyone in peril (nod to Lewis for pointing out that trope) and just general grime and altitude sickness. Nope all we got was more of the same – singing. Where were the fear of the wolves and the finding oneself at a sheer drop and unable to move forward and having to retrace their steps. Where was the food and outdoor gear required to shelter them from the elements. Where was the incident with the bandits and their demands for gold? My mind is biased due to the whole musical thing, but even still the final scenes looked very unrealistic to me.

    Down here they make European wasp traps out of PET soft drink bottles. No need to purchase one. Here’s one: How to Make a DIY Wasp Trap. There are not enough of the wasps to be a nuisance here so I just ignore them.

    Yeah, the plants look good, but everything else is dead. I see a lot of that in the big smoke. That sort of gear can only continue whilst it is possible to do so.

    It is a funny thing that about ‘forgive and forget’. I tend to wonder – and I’d be curious as to your thoughts – if it meant something different a long time ago? To my mind, you can forgive and forget, but the underlying core lesson was hard won, so why throw it away? Dunno about you, but I absorb such lessons into my ‘worldview’ and then the next time I nip problems in the bud early before they escalate to their previous state (inconvenience is that particular state). Dunno.

    I saw those comments and meant to look up who the characters referred too. On the other hand we worked on the fencing for the new terrace project until sun down this evening and my brain is very tired. As a random thought, it is possible that cultures ensure that such characters reappear when the times require them to do so? Dunno.

    Ah, Sasquatch = Bigfoot. Yes, that would be a very unpleasant and perhaps deserved ending for the cheeky scamp. Sasquatch would have the grunt to rend limb from limb. A handy skill to possess.

    Sorry, but mega car pile up sounds kind of awesome – especially when nobody was hurt. What a couple of days of weather you’re having. I won’t mention how superb today was down here, but it was!

    The winds you’re getting are feral. Stay safe and keep off the roads seems like good advice.



  30. Hi Claire,

    Kudos to you for also producing elderberry wine. And I suspect that the flowers are no more pleasant smelling when steeping than are the berries. It’s a bit Monty Python and The Holy Grail isn’t it? But the taste is nothing at all like the smell. Elderflower wine is excellent tasting (after ageing of course). And I can only guess at the excellence that you enjoyed with your batch of four year old wine. Happy days! 🙂

    Please excuse the tone of the previous paragraph as I had not read your comment in full prior to posting or replying to it.

    I’m so sorry for you for the loss of your mother in law. A peaceful passing is a blessing, and I’m really glad to read that you all enjoyed pleasant moments in her final hours. You both have my sincere condolences.

    With sympathy,


  31. Hi Lewis,

    I’ll have to make more of an effort to head into town and take the pulse of the city from time to time, as it was quite shocking to my senses to see the city so packed full of people. Speaking of New York, what I saw of the mass and throng of folks in the big smoke, kind of reminded me of scenes of New York sidewalks that I’ve seen over the years. A person could become lost up in the forest. On the other hand, in a decade, an additional million souls have been added to the city via way of immigration. That does not include the usual methods of increasing the population. So things are actually different down there in the big smoke.

    As a different perspective, Portland – like Melbourne – doesn’t usually get hot and for long enough that people learn to pace themselves. The running around like headless chickens business goes on down here, even on scorchingly hot days. Less variable climates tend to force people to adapt to local conditions. Have you ever made it to your far south east – which is quite tropical, although the Dexter books (Jeff Lindsay) do not paint Miami as a chilled out city.

    Hehe! Yeah, blue hats. Just – not – cool – enough… There, I feel much better having written that confessional. The new Panama hat is a mild orange colour and I reckon it’s quite jaunty. I’m never going to have enough cash to be considered eccentric, but I’ll sure do my very best to be included in that group. A person could do worse, don’t you reckon?

    Nooo! Not at all. You may have noticed that I live in a rather out of the way place, and have done so for just under a dozen years? Well, that my friend is evidence number one of an early (I’d like to think so, but let’s not tempt fate) ‘mid-life crisis’. That was the pivotal point for me with this weeks story, although I may have been my usually overly subtle self and not just said it out aloud. Oops, I think I just did. Incidentally, the editor pushed for a sports car, and got one, but I dunno you may have noticed that I drive really small Suzuki vehicles nowadays? Did your friends go through such a phase?

    Ron is a smart man to know when to walk away. Excuse the pun, but he dodged a bullet. And like you, when I was an employee I likewise did the same and went the extra mile. I’m honestly not sure whether anybody appreciated it, and it never really put an ending to the whingeing and criticism that some people use as motivators. That technique wears me out. Once a very long time ago when I wanted to make my mark, I took the route of doing hugely long work hours, and it nearly burned me out. And the weird thing was the next job was so normal that I obtained the ‘total perspective vortex’ on my activities and it did not reflect well upon either myself or the previous employer – and the kicker was that I got paid more. Actually after that I began looking deeply into my own and other peoples motivations and discovered that I had a natural flair for such things. Although, and you may get a laugh out of this and hopefully can relate, it may have been just my really bad early programming from the odd childhood I experienced that forced me to ignore my gut feelings and intuition? You grow out of it and move on with your life. Have you ever done cognitive testing such as Myers-Briggs testing? It can be useful to discover what your strengths and weaknesses are and I’ve had to over many long years develop coping mechanisms with my weaknesses. Apparently I’m an INFJ type… Who’d have thunk it? Apparently they make good bloggers…

    The storm must be very intense, and the good professor reported that there were car pile ups in various locations that had over 100 vehicles. I’ll bet it was like a scene out of the Blues Brothers, but with snow. Shoot! I just broke my rule and mentioned another musical… My brain is no longer the sharp tool that it once was.

    On the other hand my musical mention slip up may be due to the fact that we worked until sun down this evening (the chickens were all in bed by 8.30pm). We began the process of installing the fencing around the new terrace project. It is complicated and there are a few gates, odd shaped fencing arrangements due to the shape of the terraces themselves and, I dunno, some other stuff. We cemented in several fence posts and began constructing another staircase there. It’s a big job and requires another two full days to complete. I may have cooked my head slightly in the cool air, but very hot sun.

    The tomatoes have germinated en-masse. And there are now about 34 corn seedlings growing. I may have to add some extra corn seed in there. I am wondering if this growing season may be as short as 16 weeks due to the cooler weather? From Saturday morning to Monday, rain and cold conditions are forecast and maybe an inch of rain will fall. It’s all very bonkers – especially given what is going on in the north east of the country (drought and fire). Word is that the drought has now reached the same levels of the very worst of the historical droughts. And the Chinese have apparently purchased one of our big dairy operations.

    Big sale! Those are tempting words. Stay strong in your hunting and gathering venture. And stay safe in the weather you’re having.



  32. @ Claire:

    I am so glad that you all were able to be with your mother-in-law before she died; that is such a blessing. I hope that you will have a peaceful Thanksgiving, full of pleasant memories.


  33. @ Chris:

    Whatever will that Ollie think of to do next? It boggles the mind, though I guess we might not actually blame him for getting a grass seed up his nose.

    I have taken note of the DIY wasp trap that you mentioned to DJSpo.

    Must get back to the kitchen. I have been cooking for two days. Now I won’t have to cook for two more days. Yay! Happy hols!


  34. Hi Chris,

    I have also taken the Myers-Briggs test and type out as INFJ. I took the test when I was working for pay and it helped to explain the difference between the way I approached the work and the way the other scientists I worked with approached it, as the most common type for researchers in the physical sciences is INTJ. I also better understood why Mike likes to gather data and put off making decisions on it as long as possible even if it might be better to act sooner, whereas I need to make decisions ASAP and put them into effect even if it might have been better to wait. We’ve developed a sense of humor around this difference in our styles as a result of my taking the Myers-Briggs test. Knowing this, I think that we are more likely to gather the right amount of data and make the right decision at the right time (sometimes).

    You needn’t apologize for beginning your response to me as you did. I wrote my comment deliberately to begin with something that responds to your post. My MIL’s death is just part of life, as is elderflower wine making. She had a long and good life, and we did what we could do to ensure that. Now we can devote that energy in other directions.


  35. Yo, Chris – Nope. Never been to the SE United States. Most of my traveling, and that was in my younger days, was along the west coast, or in the upper west, and mid-west. Oh, well. Next life. 🙂

    Hmmm. My mid-life crisis? Now that I think about it, maybe, finally getting into Recovery? I mean, I did do that at 40. As far as friends go? Well, there’s friends, and then there’s acquaintances. Most of those I shed, over the years. I’d say, the friends I have left are pretty solid. But even those, I don’t think I get much involved in their day to day dramas.

    Cognitive testing. Well, when I was in grade school, they were always testing us for one thing, or another. But I do remember one test that was supposed to be for identifying possible career routes. It probably sticks in my mind as it said I would make a good forest ranger (that was probably the streak of isolation, that runs through my personality) or, get this, a sports coach. Just about the furthest thing from my area of interests. I think that’s when I realized that most of those kinds of tests are rubbish.

    Go tomatoes! Go corn! It got down to 25F (-3.88C) last night. Supposed to be colder, tonight. I looked at my parsley and peas, this morning, and they look fine. Clear and cold til Saturday, then more than a chance of snow, overnight. We’ll see.

    I see here, Bumble Bee tuna (etc.) filed for bankruptcy. But that was due to price fixing, and the horrendous fines, involved. One of the huge dairy concerns has also filed for bankruptcy. That was ascribed to the falling use of dairy products. But, I saw some article about that wasn’t the whole story. Can’t remember the details.

    Well, the Editors tussle with the ants, could have been worse. Here’s the trailer from the 1953 sci-fi epic, “Them!”.


    Last night I watched an interesting documentary called “The Madness of Max” (2015). It was for the 30th anniversary of the film “Mad Max.” It was pretty interesting. The fellows who made it were really flying by the seats of their pants. Sometimes, literally. :-). I hadn’t realized that it was really a landmark film. That changed the Australian film industry and had a deep impact on other films, internationally.

    Well, my big news is, I’ve postponed Thanksgiving. As I’m coming down with a cold. Started in, late yesterday afternoon. Hasn’t quit settled on what kind of a cold it’s going to be. Or, how bad. Lungs and head, I think. Oh, well. It’s not like I was expecting a house full of people, and I think the chicken will hold, for a few days, in the fridge.

    The Ladies are throwing a big Thanksgiving dinner. The whole building reeks of roasting turkey. Which is quit nice.

    The pre-sale scouting expedition went well. Had 7 things on my list, and have whittled it down to three. Still waffling on a pricey piece of Fenton glass. There’s a really cool, clear glass canister … with a rooster head as handle. A deco pottery vase and a carnival glass compote. All subject to change. 🙂 Lew

  36. Chris,

    My wife and I were talking about musicals today. Another version of “Cats” has been made into a movie. I told her the only musical I can stand is, yes “Sound of Music” because I grew up listening to the sound track (reel to reel) that dad bought for my mom. And mom had the sheet music for the movie, played the songs on the piano. My sister and I often joined her, mom on piano, the kids singing. We had fun.

    Kudos to Lewis for noticing the lack of the Little Kid with the Injured Ankle Thus Endangering the Entire Family. How true!!! And one would’ve thought that bandits would’ve been on ANY route into Switzerland. The above “name” of the kid reminds me of a Rudyard Kipling short story, “How the First Letter Was Written”. A little girl had a long unpronounceable caveman name which translates into English as “Little Person Without Any Manners Who Ought to be Spanked”.

    Thanks for the wasp trap idea. I’ve tried similar things and the commercial product with pheromones works best. However, if we’re eating outside, traps with fresh meat in them are helpful to keep our mouths from getting stung. Or open cans of soda left in strategic places help, too.

    A lot of people here quit watering their yards 15 years ago during a plea by the mayor “Brown is the New Green”. Naturally, all the trees and shrubs died too. Those yards are still mostly dead with few wild plants or weeds growing there yet. And all those dead trees blew down during the big windstorm a few Novembers ago.

    I totally agree. Gotta learn the lessons and add them to how you view things. “Forgive and forget” can just let the same oafs do the same stuff to you over and over and over and then you go downhill and act like a victim and whine and get Politician Derangement Syndrome. This *maybe* explains the origin of the phrase a little bit.

    I think cultures WANT their special heroes to be immortal and eventually return. China seems to have a class of sub-deities called Immortals, many of whom were human heroes that got worshipped and elevated to not-quite-deity status, although they have a lot of powers. The Monkey King was, apparently, never human. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monkey_King

    I am a descendant of Bigfoot. Well, at least a Danish privateer who became part of the Dutch new Amsterdam colony, where he was known by the nickname “Grootschoe”, or “Great Shoe”. Which means he had big feet. He was a colorful character and was expelled from New Amsterdam for selling his wife, or maybe “trading” her for a neighbor’s wife. https://uh.edu/~jbutler/gean/laurens.html

    Those multicar pileups are interesting to see but bad to be a part of.
    So far, I’ve avoided being crushed in them, but have been in the slow down to a crawl aftermath. I’m busy knocking on wood here, to avoid the jinx, but at least have learned (thanks to a prior admonishment from you) to avoid tapping my own noggin into a headache.

    The windstorm was much weaker than was expected. The gusts never achieved what the forecast had been for prevailing winds. The wind chill was nasty, but not hideous.

    Reading the comments on the Myers-Brigg types. I have a physics degree. I’m INTJ which I’ve known for years. Pretty stereotypical, right?


  37. Hi Pam,

    That’s surely an open question! 🙂 Ollie had to choose between chasing a wallaby which was already bounding away from him in full flight mode. The wallabies, wombats and kangaroos know full well that he’ll reach the property boundary and go no further. I never taught him that trick, apparently it is a breed trait and I’m grateful for it. Anyway, so abruptly he turned at full speed away from the wallaby and towards the rabbit. He has no chance of catching rabbits either as they’re fast and he failed to listen to the wiser and cooler headed Sir Scruffy as to how to deal with their ilk, when Sir Scruffy was still with us. Alas Ollie was too young to accept training and good advice from the older and frankly wiser dog. The rabbits have been enjoying having no Sir Poopy or Sir Scruffy on the property. Sir Scruffy was good, Sir Poopy was the whole next level, although (and not to speak ill of the departed) he was so lazy most of the time. It was his undoing. Back to Ollie, he was chasing the rabbit so hard I reckon he sucked a grass seed (or possibly an insect) up his nose. All thoughts of chasing wildlife were put aside as he sneezed and sneezed. Epic amounts of snot were being released from his not insubstantial nose. I took pity on him, wiped up the snot, and slipped him a half dose of anti-histamine. He passed out and woke this morning as good as ever. Dogs…

    Best of all the trap can be made from rubbish (and using the rubbish that comes along with the rubbish packaging) and the wasps can get in, but not out again. The traps may be a down under thing, although I do note that businesses tend to use more expensive looking traps. Possibly to maintain appearances. Maybe the customers asked for them? The rubbish traps are highly effective.

    Magic happens in kitchens!

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


  38. Hi Claire,

    Thank you for understanding, and also for your wisdom. It’s something that comes to all of us in time, but the culture that we live in does its very best to pretend otherwise, and so discussing the topic itself can be a very fraught experience. I can’t speak for you, but deep down I feel in my bones that it is the things that we push to the side which are some of the things that trip us up the hardest and come back to assert themselves in full force. Dunno, but you have my sympathy.

    Total respect. INFJ’s are very uncommon traits, and I can see those traits in your writing, your work, and the way you relate to your garden. In the past I have run a graduate program (which I initiated and took full control of) and have had assistants moved to tears when I had to leave. One of the challenges in life is facing your weaknesses and finding coping mechanisms. Oh well, so be it. This may give you a chuckle, but the editor is an INTJ type personality as well. Hehe! Yup, go with your gut feel, whilst Mike waits for the data to roll on in. Yes, I have also had to appeal to the logic and reason side of the story with editor to get something across the line that I know intuitively has to be done. 🙂 One cannot always wait for the data to line up before moving decisively. Hey, I reckon on the other hand INTJ folks tend to learn very rapidly and are high analytical, they can even challenge your own positions, and are more likely to change their belief systems if a solid argument can be made supporting the change. All good fun stuff and part of the great tapestry that is this particular life.



  39. Hi DJ,

    Oh my goodness. First there was Hair, then I dunno, maybe the Blues Brothers, and then Sound of Music, and somehow it all then comes back to Cats. No! I stomp my very feet and say no more, for because of Lewis I am now twitching all over with this talk of musicals. And you surely must know that in England Twitchers are a birdwatcher whose main aim is to collect sightings of rare birds? Now, just to not even sneakily change the subject from toe tapper songs which are meant to lull you into a false sense of security (and yes, brigands would have been a problem for the families escape to Switzerland) to other matters, I encountered a bloke in an unusual spot along the road the other day. Not being a shy and retiring person when things seem like they need investigating, I asked him straight out what he was up to (it was in a remote spot after all). So he was marking out a section of the road for a bird count on behalf of the local council. It was all legit, but it just seemed rather stupid because there was very little in that locale for the birds to eat and drink. And then I began wondering how they were collecting data. Ah, and then the answer popped into my head: They have no idea what they are doing, and then everything seemed just sort of fine. I guess the object of the project was to keep people occupied and out of trouble. Bonkers…

    Incidentally, one last word on the subject of musicals. The editors mum used to be able to play piano, and all of her siblings were once part of a band. Her uncle was quite an accomplished organ player for the Freemasons and church (although I suspect he just liked playing the organ). He passed away a few years back, but at the service they played a very complex piece he recorded just for the funeral only months before he passed on. We live in a world where folks have many rich talents.

    Ah yes, Lewis is very well read and alert for tropes in fiction, and the kid who endangers everyone is a goodie! 🙂 Rudyard Kipling is an amusing and insightful author, and I have no doubts the little rascal earned her title.

    Ouch. The European wasps are a nuisance down here too during hot and dry weather over at the more fashionable end of the mountain range. The DIY traps work, although here in the less fashionable end of the mountain range they just aren’t necessary. If the wasps were that bad as you write, I’d have plenty of traps set about the place. Insects make for good compost, once they’re dead of course.

    I’d be curious as to your opinion, but I reckon our culture doesn’t deal too well when climactic conditions don’t deliver upon expectations. And that is sort of how I see your story of the dead gardens which you wrote about. In boom and bust environments, you can adapt, and there is a world of plants to choose from if we but allow it.

    That one is complicated because I reckon you can let bygones be bygones, but that does not mean that you necessarily forget the lessons learned during the awful experience. Dunno, but I have seen people consumed by revenge and perhaps that is what is at stake here?

    The Monkey King appears to act as a counter weight against the awful powers of Heaven. Little wonder he has wide public support.

    Your ancestor being a colourful character, it is entirely possible that the trade wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, however we’ll never know the ladies side of the story. Although, given the outcome I suspect that the public felt otherwise. Cutting off the ear and banishment would have been a rough sentence possibly leading to an untimely end in those days.

    Ouch, touch wood… And meanwhile stay safe.

    Hehe! Yup, sounds about right to me and who else can pierce through the murk and make sense of it all? It’s all good though, and you’re in good company because the editor shares those traits.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, that is unfortunate, but then you can’t do everything can you? And maybe the trip wasn’t possibly worth the hassle… Been to a few of those places myself, and I’m there and wondering what the heck I’m doing there. Which reminds me of a place in northern New South Wales which is a renowned hippy town (think Ashland, Oregon), and I guess I just expected that things would be different, but you know they weren’t and I just wanted out of there.

    I’ve travelled to the tropics of this planet and they’re hot and humid. You step off the plane and immediately your senses are assaulted by the aroma of rotting vegetation and sheer heat. The funny thing is, that after a few hours your senses begin acclimatising and then you can’t smell the background smells anymore. And after a day or so, you just learn to slow down and take it more easily. After a week and a half in India, upon returning home I realised just how colourless, clean and quiet our society looks like. The contrast was stark.

    Forest ranger. Cool. As an observation, it is hard to enjoy other peoples company if you can’t but first learn to enjoy your own. I’ve met people that don’t much like themselves and they’re a bit odd because they lash out at anyone who dares challenge their own hard wired belief systems. Sports coach on the other hand may indicate that they were smoking a lot of drugs when they reviewed your test result notes. Or maybe they were just taking the mickey out of you. It happens.

    Last century I worked for a workplace which did extensive psychometric testing of me before they employed me. It was all frankly a bit of a hassle, and I never thought to ask them for the results. Given how the scenario worked out, I suspect they used all of that data in order to manipulate me, and I was very young and dumb. A match made in heaven for them and they took things to eleven (as distinct from 10). I’m highly wary (on the once bitten twice shy mode of thinking) of such requests nowadays – not that I am faced with such things.

    Hey, there was the tiniest first tomato flower (a purchased seedling) today. And corn are now up to 36, and given the warmth in the soil and the impending rain over the next few days I replanted the corn bed with additional seeds today. The plants are fickle and complicated and I’m guessing that the timing has to be just right.

    I’ve heard such stories about dairy, and talk of exports and the behaviours of distributors including the practice of ‘cliffing’ are not ever discussed. The thing is cities are parasitical by their very nature upon rural production. Power imbalances can be used to push prices down, and then… Someone has to produce food, and there have been odd stories of people making a living (or paying for their travel) sending local products back overseas to countries where production standards are apparently less enforced. The details are deliberately hazy as they make for poor reading…


  41. Hi Lewis (the double secret cont)…

    The trailer was pretty cool. Liked the plastic sunglasses particularly. For a moment I was watching the trailer and wondering what horror I was about to be confronted with… And then the dastardly humungos ants stole into the background of scenes – dealing their particular style of terror. Mate, it makes me glad that the ants are as small as they are. Any bigger, and we’d all be done for.

    I never realised the Mad Max film was as game changing as it was. I quite enjoyed it, although it was a bit horrifying but sort of amusing at the same time if that was the intent. It was filmed not too far away from here, and my how the roads have changed since those quiet days. And why his lady ran down the road and was thus brutally mowed down in the opening scenes, was a bit lost on me. Why did she keep to the road? It seemed like an odd strategy to me even when first I saw the movie. I’ll try and check it out.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery. I had a rotten cold a few weeks back, and what with travel and all these days. Not good. I’d suggest chicken soup might help keep your fluids up, but roast turkey soup would work well too. And it’s a tasty meat that you don’t see much down here. On a serious note, keep hydrated and get some rest.

    As a bit of cold related therapy, perhaps you might consider making a decision on the Fenton glass? It might make you feel better.

    Cheers and get well soon.


  42. @ DJSpo – You might enjoy “Island at the Center of the World: The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony That Shaped America.” (Shorto, 2004).

    A good read. Lew

  43. @DJ
    Once again, thank you. I recall your comments about long trips to take care of relatives – that really adds to the stress level. I’m really sorry to hear that there’s another round coming for you and your wife. That’s one thing I really didn’t have to deal with much as all the family members were either living with us or living fairly close by. About a year before my mother died and we inherited all my brothers she had a mild stroke from which she mostly recovered at home but it was found she had basically an inoperable aortal aneurysm so we knew it was just a matter of time. As Doug and I knew what was coming for us – all the guys moving in with us and adding on to our small house that period of time was difficult for our marriage but we kind of worked through all that before she died.


  44. @Claire
    My condolences for the passing of your mother-in-law but at the same time happy that it was peaceful and she was so independent until recently.


  45. To all,
    Hope that those who celebrate Thanksgiving had a good one. My youngest daughter and her fiance hosted again this year at their new house and did a lovely job. I think she inherited her father’s knack for entertaining. We weren’t impacted by either weather or traffic. Today I’m celebrating “Buy Nothing Day” though I just get a message from an old teaching colleague that another teaching buddy is in town from Florida and is going to be at one of the local pubs we used to hang out at after school so I’m off for a little unexpected meet up. Once again I’m behind in the comments and hopefully will catch up tomorrow.


  46. Yo, Chris – Re: Musicals: Never mind about getting twitchy … let us know when you break out in a rash. 🙂

    Go corn! Go tomatoes! Redux. It got down to 21F (-6.11C), last night. Still isn’t above -0-C, this morning. I found out something interesting, about parsley. It’s a biannual. If it makes it through our weather, it will flower and seed in the spring. Like my Brussels sprouts, did. It’s hardy down into the teens, so, maybe. I’ve been tossing a small handful in whatever I’m having for dinner.

    When “Mad Max” was released in America, the film distributors, in their infinite wisdom, dubbed it in American English. They had some clips, showing the difference. The dubbing was truly awful, but it still did well, here. I see the libraries copy has a choice. You can pick Australian English as one of the dialects :-).

    The cold hangs on. It’s no fun, but I’ve had far worse.

    I decided not to get the pricey piece of Fenton. I’ll head up and pick up my loot, this morning. The deal is, Centralia Square Antique Mall has their sale, Friday through Sunday. The rest of the shops do a “Small Business Saturday.” Saturday only sale. So, I may wander up, tomorrow, and see if there’s anything I fancy. There’s a couple of antique malls and a large shop where I occasionally find interesting things. Haven’t checked them out since this time, last year. Lew

  47. alco44

    Greeting Chris
    For the first time in several weeks I found I was no longer able to reach your Blog from my WiFi DSL connection. That route was blocked blocked by a “Forbiden 403” message from some unknown source.

    I discovered that I could log on through the “ hot spot” on my iphone which functions as internet port using cellular data through my tablet blue tooth channel. With consequent cellphone data cost added in gigabits units.

    Last Monday something got fixed by some one and your site was again available through my DSL connection.
    Strange stuff!!
    I was planning on calling the DSL provider and dumping them if they couldn’t restore the service to original condition on that Monday. I hope My system working again. fernglade was the only site affected. Glad to have your farm back

  48. Hi Margaret,

    Happy Thanksgiving to you and Doug (plus the extended family)!

    It is funny that you mention the handing down of skills, but I reckon you are onto something with that and being able to play the hostess (or host) is a real skill. Due to my upbringing I was never exposed to such events and have had to learn how-to from start to finish. It is a real skill to be able to host a number of folks whilst not spending all of ones time in the kitchen. One of my good friends is exceptionally gifted in the kitchen, and so during get togethers he hides away in the kitchen doing his thing, and that is how he contributes. And the food is awesome. Other people are gifted at keeping the table talking and/or making everyone feel welcome, and to do both is a difficult art and something to be commended.

    Feel not guilty for the pub adventure! 🙂 I would do no less, and that is one of the main purposes of the dreaded mid-week hiatus. I salute you and your out-of-town friend and wish you all the best in your pub related efforts.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for that, and now with all of this talk of rashes, I have to admit that I’m starting to feel a bit itchy. I blame the talk of musicals 🙂 Happy Thanksgiving! And I hope that you are feeling a bit better today? Was the talk around the table pleasant? Just for the record, I’d like to point out that turkey is an extraordinarily difficult bird to cook well without drying out the meat. I do hope the meat was succulent and moist? As a mostly vegetarian, my mouth is watering at the thought of tasty roast fowl. Yum!

    Well there you go, you slipped in what I believe is a bit of Latin with your use of the word: Redux. I’d be very surprised if the word was not closely related to the English word: Reduce, or Reduction if only because the definitions are very close. Yeah, parsley is a funny plant that once established just looks after itself. The crinkly variety grows here both summer and winter, although the flat leafed Italian variety is a summer only plant. On closer observation it may be that the curly leafed variety is sheltered from the worst of the winter weather by a thicket of leeks.

    Alas, I have almost reached the end of ‘The Sorcerer’. I read the book on the train into and out of Melbourne again today. You have to admit that the story could also have been told thus: What made Merlyn Mad? On the other hand, the dream state where he discussed the situation with Peter Ironhair in rational terms raised a number of very important issues like: Why did Merlyn abandon common sense and ride off with a small party at the merest mention of a threat to Camulod? Horsa and his Danes were in new territory where they’ll enjoy little plunder and no support. They have to eat, and it was wrong of Merlyn to rush off, when he could have otherwise been safe with a full compliment of infantry.

    What the…? Truly the original Mad Max film required sub-titles for me at least. Wow. OK, I’ve gotta check this out. For obvious reasons the vocals were clear to me, but far out the dubbing on the international version of the film was not good. Had they not heard of lip-synching? And some cheeky wag put together a comparison clip: Mad Max: US Dub vs Original Aussie part 1. Many years ago I actually saw the original Falcon Interceptor car which was used in the first movie in a shopping mall. I must have been pretty young, but even back then I admired the matt black paint job. The real joke is that back then I thought those cars were huge. Nowadays a current model Toyota Corolla towers over them and plenty of cars weigh much more. What we could have achieved if we’d attempted the dark path of conservation. Of course it is not lost on me that in the end it would not have mattered, but all the same the path could have been easier.

    Agreed. Your weather is worse on that front. It would be nice if people understood that climate change means more extreme weather in every direction. I see that the extreme weather has bypassed your part of the world. That’s something to be grateful for.

    How are you feeling better anyway? It is nice to read that despite your cold you’re attempting a venture out. Hope you nab a bargain (and maybe a Fenton piece – blue of course).



  50. Hi Al,

    Hope you are well and happy thanksgiving to you.

    Apologies, but I regularly block the ip addresses of spammers and hackers who try to force their way into the website. There are a lot of them and the war is long my friend. Anyway, the website then disappears for them. It may well be that you have been accidentally caught up in friendly cross fire in the ongoing war against hackers and spam-troll-bots? The war is progressing well brother Al!

    However, if you can now post OK, then the website may just have been going through an update process, which I keep on top of.

    Glad you’re back and enjoying the ongoing war against spam-trolls and other interweb nuisances. They mean me no good at all.



  51. Hello all
    I am about to lose my internet access for over a week for various uninteresting reasons. Have been continuing to sort out old letters for disposal of. The result has been the discovery of a gem which I shall frame. It has been entertaining everyone here so I offer it to all of you as well. The background story is that I was visiting my mother with my first child who was 8 months old at the time. I have absolutely no recollection of this letter from my stepfather or the incident involved.

    When retrieving the mirror, from under the table upstairs, where you in your damned impertinence had put it, I discovered that you had scraped some of the varnish off the top of the frame owing to your confounded clumsiness in pushing the mirror under the table with the chain beneath the top of the frame.
    The damage is not excessive, are you prepared to meet the expense of having it attended to in as cheap a manner as possible.
    Imagining Mummy to be responsible for removing the articles from the sofa, I proceeded to have a row with her, only to find that she was equally furious to find the things had been moved from the sofa; but, blaming me, she said nothing, thinking that was the sort of thing I would do.
    As you appear to imagine the sofa is there for your benefit, I should like to inform you that such is not the case, should you anticipate visiting Croydon at any future date, will you kindly refrain from interfering with things which do not concern you & put your box elsewhere.


  52. Yo, Chris – Oh, I didn’t get any turkey. The Ladies did their thing, but I did my usual laying low. And, I was laid low. No, Thanksgiving was pretty much a washout, for me. No harm done.

    Onto “Spear Thrower!!!” Well, I suppose Merlin magnified in his mind, the danger that Camulod … and Arthur, was in. There are a few murky things about the end of “The Sorcerer”. Fog of Battle, and all that.

    I finished “Island of the Lost”, yesterday. Well, that was a rollicking tale. The group that did well, had a lot of things going for it. All survived the shipwreck, and there were only 5. They landed on a more hospitable coast and had more of their wrecked ship, to salvage out. If you can have a “good” shipwreck, they had a good shipwreck. They also knew each other, pretty well. The other bunch, 19 survived the wreck, but only 3 managed to survive to the rescue. Class structure also led to their downfall. To quote a bit about the successful group, “Because of conscientious leadership, resourceful technology, unstinting hard work, and an outstanding spirit of camaraderie, they had survived unimaginable privations.” I mean, they build a forge, for gosh sakes.

    In the documentary, they kept calling the Falcon the “black on black.” Yup. The dubbing was pretty awful. I’m watching a series called “NOS4A2”. From a book by Stephen King’s kid, Joe Hill. The horror, the horror :-).

    It got down to 19F (-7.22C), last night. Supposed to be a balmy 27F, tonight. Possible snow still in the forecast for tomorrow morning. As a salute to our weather, today’s ear worm is Chubby Checker’s, “Limbo Rock.” How low can you go?


    Head’s pretty clear, but my lungs are still crapped up. Not to bad. No many racking coughing jags. But, I still feel pretty drug out.

    I resisted the expensive blue Fenton piece, but ended up with another (much cheaper) blue Fenton piece. I saw a little carnival glass compote in cobalt blue, with a nice berry pattern. So, I bought it. Now all the companies that made carnival had berry patterns of one kind or another. But I finally figured out it was “Blackberry Bramble”, made by Fenton in 1910. Got the pottery vase I wanted, and also the canister with the rooster head. L.E. Smith glass. Not to old, but they went out of business in 2004. I’ve got a book on the way, from the library, so maybe I’ll be able to get a more firm date. I also found a nice little piece of Deco Nippon china, that I hadn’t seen on my scouting expedition. A little plate with handle, in blues. Which you don’t see much, on Nippon. So, I spent far less than I had budgeted.

    Think I’ll go up on Tower, today, and poke about. After the postie delivers my print. Should have been here yesterday, but looking at the tracking, it’s voyage was long and strange. Lew

  53. @ Marg,

    It has been an intense 7 weeks with 2 funerals and a rellie in hospital. Another person we know rolled her car and died Friday night. Dunno if we’ll go to the services. We’re drained. As you said you have done, we are just working through it.


  54. Chris,

    So Lewis has us BOTH twitching now? And he dared to mention “rashes”. Hmmmmm… Although I DO enjoy twitching and have been enjoying the Oregon juncos that have been visiting. And there was DRAMA in the yard: A sharp shinned hawk was trying to catch some sparrows in the quince bushes, but the thickness of the quince hedge defeated the hawk. We also have a resident Cooper’s hawk.

    “I guess the object of the project was to keep people occupied and out of trouble.” That seems to be the purpose of a LOT of jobs, doesn’t it?

    Oh yes, the little rascal earned her name. Although it appears that the spankings rarely occurred. If ever.

    Adapting to the climate changes is important for food production. However, in a brittle society, adaptation is a rare commodity, so I fear the same may be true for planting.

    I think you’re right. The “forgive and forget” is probably an admonition to let minimize the revenge factor so that hatred doesn’t consume someone.

    Yes, the Monkey King looks like the Immortal who fights against corruption in the existing order. Hmmmm, wonder if Monkey King would like to make an appearance outside China???

    Alongside Lew’s mention of rashes, my coworker has a phobia about ticks. Whenever I really need to get her attention, aka tease her, I just whisper “tick, tick, tick” where she can hear me. She starts feeling itchy immediately. At which point she’ll tell me to “quit abusing people.” My reply is always, “You’re an engineer. Engineers aren’t people.” She has never developed a response to that in 25 years.


  55. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to see you go for the week, and a digital detox, whether through chance happenstance or choice is always a good thing. I’m told by credible sources that people pay for such experiences nowadays.

    Oh my goodness! What were you twelve years old to be so spoken to? Hehe! Just kidding around. Your step father had a lovely way with words. I was rather hoping that at some point he mentioned how much they both enjoyed yours and their grandchild’s company during the visit? Perhaps it was too much to ask for. The tone of the letter indicates to me that well, there is a place for everything and everything should be in its place, and it is most certainly not for you to question that. Although, like you, I’d also move items around, if for no other reason than gratifying my own personal amusement. Well done you. Sometimes the nest must be kicked.



  56. Hi Lewis,

    Hopefully some of the ladies take pity on your present condition and bring you a few trifles of Thanksgiving fare? On a serious note, have you ever tasted a trifle dessert? Forget about roast turkey, a good trifle is the biz! As a bit of history relating to the dessert, it evolved from the dessert known as a ‘fool’. I can’t quite say for sure why it was called such a dubious name, but the first time I encountered a reference to it was as the Gooseberry fool dessert (we’re growing lots of gooseberries – yum!) As an amusing side note, years ago I helped out a mate in return for a trifle (talk about double entendre’s). He’d been talking the dessert up as it was apparently some sort of family heirloom recipe handed down from generations out of the past. The problem was my mate used really low quality ingredients and the result was fed to the chickens. Given the big talk about the dessert beforehand, I was sort of excited about the trade however, unfortunately my expectations exceeded reality. There is a strong argument to be made that I set high standards, but I have strong doubts that the earlier generations of my mates family had access to the sort of rubbish ingredients he used. But when I was a kid, my grandparents (the well off ones) used to make a very good trifle, with the sponge, jelly, and a touch of madeira wine (although just a touch). It was very good. Oh, I can see that in the US the dessert is described as a tipsy cake. Well there you go. And hope that you are feeling better with thoughts of such food. 🙂

    The dream state discussion between Merlyn and Peter Ironhair was a tidy way to put the matter into perspective. Ironhair was one such that clearly felt no ill will, but at the same time considered that Merlyn and Camulod was a means to an end. I was particularly interested that Carthac was considered to be a ‘client’ in the Latin meaning of that particular word dating back to the Roman Senate. The more that I read of history (and how things worked in the past), the more I can see that the current civilisation is built upon the wreckage of earlier civilisations and has adopted some of the ideas and forms from them. The social bonds were tight in those days, so little wonder people ran to the hills.

    Thomas Musgrave was an interesting bloke and I must note that he plied his trade not too far to the south and east of here. Yeah, it is a funny thing that there can be a ‘good’ ship wreck, and surviving for 18 months in such an inhospitable island before making it back to Stewart Island off the south coast of the south island of New Zealand in a Jerry-rigged dinghy is an impressive feat in anyone’s language. Auckland island would be very inhospitable and the other crew might have well as been on Mars given the rugged terrain between the two groups. I was curious to note that settlements had been attempted on the island. Mind you, Greenland is further north and Viking people settled there back in the day for a fair while (not to mention the folks living there nowadays). I enjoy a cooler climate, but Auckland island is the whole next level. The contrast between the experiences of the two groups is quite marked. Co-operation in such conditions always trumps the established hierarchy.

    The editors uncle used to own one of those two door Mad Max style Falcon’s. It was a true beast of a machine. I recall the days when they were spotted on the road. Nowadays you’d be lucky to see one. A bit of a shame as they were quite simple to work upon.

    NOS4A2, of course a clever play for the mobile phone text message addicted generation on the old story of Nosferatu. A story about a plucky vampire who enjoyed travelling along with the bubonic plague. When I was a kid my mum hired the1979 European VHS film version of the story (Nosferatu the Vampyre) and the image of the plague laden rats leaving the stricken ship was a true horror. A solid case for strong border controls if ever there was one. Are you enjoying the series?

    Despite your awful state of being under the weather, I beg to differ and feel that most certainly 27’F is hardly balmy from my perspective. Although the English language is a wonderful thing and perhaps you meant to write: Barmy? (as in Barmy Army?)

    Haha! Thanks for the catchy ear worm. Yes, I can recall the limbo. Good fun stuff. Chubby Checker seems like a pretty switched on and clever dude to me.

    Take it easy with your cold.

    Good stuff, and I’m impressed that you were up and about – and making sense – and nabbed your blue Fenton piece (although it was another item than what you were originally after). You rarely see the word ‘Nippon’ anymore. It is funny how expectations of their manufacturing quality has changed over the years.

    Did you get your print in the mail?

    I went to a town north of the range to see an open garden today. The rain was almost continuous, but there were still plenty of people there. It was very cottage-y, and the house was an old 1860’s granite (blue-stone) early Victorian era house. I quite like such gardens for their sheer spectacle. Over the past two days almost an inch of rain has fallen… Before the rain fell, I took a gamble and filled up the water tanks that supply water to the terraces from water stored in the house water tanks. The gamble may have paid off given the volume of rain that fell.

    Better get writing!



  57. @ DJSpo:

    I hadn’t realized what a tough week you all have had. You are certainly in my thoughts.


  58. Yo, Chris – No, none of The Ladies brought me any Thanksgiving goodies. But that’s fine, as I discourage such things. Obligations, and all. There’s been some talk about banning men from any function involving food. But that’s mainly because Steve eats a lot, and contributes nothing. Or, very little. And his social graces leave a lot to be desired. :-). I’ve never had a trifle, as far as I know. Tasty, I’m sure, but sounds like Death By Sugar.

    Merlin and Ironhair’s “conversation” was interesting. I think it just goes to show, that often, people we obsess over, (for one reason or another), probably don’t give us a second thought. There used to be an old psych saying, from way back. “Who’s driving your bus?” In other words, who’s in charge of your brain?

    Yes, the settlement on Aukland was found by the group that didn’t do so well. There wasn’t much left of it, and what resources there were, weren’t utilized as they could have been. Hierarchy very much played a role in the failure of the second bunch. The two officers who survived, did so as the common seaman, who survived, knew what he was about. Once rescued, he was given no credit, and shuffled off. Got his revenge, though. When he was 85, he pounded out an account and his grand daughter got it published.

    Musgrave and Varny published accounts that were popular, went through many editions, and may still be in print. They gave full credit to the rest of their crew. One thing that did come out of it all, was that castaway depots were deposited on many islands, and (introduced species, aside) pigs and other animals were released on several islands, for the comfort of other shipwreck victims. Gardens, were also planted.

    NOS4A2 was actually a vanity license plate. I don’t think I ever saw the re-make of “Nosteratu”, but I’ve at least seen large chunks, of the 1922 version. The “look” of that film very much influenced film noir, particularly “Night of the Hunter.” Speaking of German horror films, I noticed in the library catalog a new German zombie movie. “Ever After” aka “Endzeit”. Don’t know if it will be any good, but I put it on my hold list. I watched the trailer. Seems to be a lot of two young ladies, wandering in the woods and spending a lot of time talking.

    LOL. When I said a balmy 27F, I meant to be ironic. See how important those little smiley faces, are? :-). At 1:30 am, it started to snow. I went out and watched it, awhile. Mostly gone by this morning, and no more snow in the forecast.

    Well, my package arrived, but the postie was running late. In the meantime, to be occupied, I cut up the corn stalks The Ladies had used as decor. Mulched it right into the garden. My package arrived, safely, But, by then, I decided I didn’t want to go up on Tower, and fight the punters and day trippers. I’ll go on a morning, later in the week. Besides, I think I overdid it a bit, in the garden.

    It dawned on my yesterday, that since Wednesday afternoon, nothing has gone according to plan. Partly the cold, but also the holidays. Natch. Nothing of great import, but it makes me cranky. Went to Safeway, last night, and they have “reorganized” the store. Can’t find a darn thing. And ice cream was $4 a container. Nope. Not going there. I hope they and their ice cream will be very happy, together. Lew

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