Cold Spring Mountain

The only thing that I can be positively sure of, is that I am entirely unsure as to what the weather will hold in store for the farm. And the sheer variability in the seasons from year to year means that I make mistakes with the timing of planting.

Large parts of this driest inhabited continent are in the grip of a drought that is not quite equal to the infamous Federation Drought , but by all accounts they’re getting pretty close to it. Bushfires have become common place events in the parched country for the past few months. And frankly it is happening not that far from here. It is as if the weather Gods have turned their attention to us down under, and with a dark cackle they’ve promised: ‘Let’s just see how bad things can get’.

In this southerly locale on the continent, the spring weather is far colder than is the recent norm. Only true weather nerds will know that about mid-year there was an: abrupt warming that occurred about 20-30 kilometres above Antarctica. And in this tiny little section of the continent what that means is that spring has been mostly absent as the cold moist air has been pushed north from Antarctica.

Compared to previous years, I planted out the corn seed a few weeks ago, and it was just too early. As such I’ve had a germination rate of about 20% for corn, which is appalling when you consider that I plant out several hundred seeds. On Friday rain was forecast overnight, so I planted out yet another batch of corn seeds in the hope that the rain and mildly warmer soil gets them germinated.

The author plants out another batch of corn seeds after seriously poor germination rates due to cold weather

Making mistakes such as planting out the corn seeds too early is to my mind part of the wonderful journey that is life. But learning from mistakes and applying that knowledge to future endeavours is an entirely different matter. And therein lay the path of the beginnings of wisdom.

Over the past few weeks the editor and I have had an ongoing conversation about personality traits, and the strengths and weaknesses that accompany such traits. With knowledge comes understanding. For example, when I was a young bloke I used to consider that I was a perfectionist. I thought that this was a good thing, until I understood that it was a personal weakness and possibly even a serious failure. In these enlightened times I now understand the Russian maxim that: “Best is enemy of the good”, but it wasn’t always thus.

Without knowledge and understanding you can make some epic mistakes. Such was my fate with one notable mistake. Every now and then people talk rubbish, and then they find themselves in a metaphorical garbage tip. Very late last century I recall sitting in an interview with a potential employer where I was talking some rubbish about wanting to have a challenge. The employer loved hearing such talk because they sure had a challenge waiting for some poor schmuck.

After extensive psychometric testing – I’m guessing they wanted to discover if I was serious about wanting a challenge – they employed me and set me loose. At first I had a great time, and I rapidly sorted out the team work problems and began trawling through and resolving the epic mess that was presented to me. It truly was an epic mess and I have never seen the likes of it before.

As the Dread Pirate Chris sailed the wide Accountant-seas, I took no prisoners as the valiant crew (my accounts team) scrubbed the decks (cleaned up the accounts and restored a semblance of order) of the good ship until the decks (accounts) shone with brilliance. I was on top of the world and rattled my shiny sabre (pocket calculator) at any and all enemies, whilst the crew supported my leadership.

Of course the role of Captain is a lonely one, heavy with the burden of responsibility. And the hours can be long, with late nights and weekends at the helm. For the purposes of morale, the crew (accounts team) were kept to normal hours and were off enjoying foreign ports (the local cafes and eateries at lunchtime and doing normal things like going home on time), whilst I kept a sharp look out for hostiles.

Unexpectedly, in the naval base (head office) a coup took place and a new Admiral was installed (a promotion of a lesser accountant). Soon the dispatches from the naval base (head office) contained a very negative tone. I rattled my sabre (pocket calculator) at the new Admiral (who was technically my boss) and talked big and tough about how many ships of the enemy fleet my team and I had already sunk (i.e. goals that we’d already reached).

My talk of past battles was breezily dismissed, and the demand was put before me to sink even more enemy ships (i.e. the performance expectations were raised). Such talk engendered thoughts of mutiny, and I was certain that the now trusty and competent crew (accounts team) had my back. I did my best to ignore that the demands were couched in very critical terms.

Unfortunately, I was already working long hours at night and at weekends, and there seemed to me to be no end to the number of new enemy ships (i.e. new challenges and goals) asked of me to sink. And the criticism was unrelenting.

At the time, the editor just wanted her Captain back, and I was just about done and finished on those particular adventurous Accountant-seas and had nothing more to give. One day out of the blue, I resigned my commission as Captain (walked the plank)  of that particularly bonkers ship.

What was really weird about it all, was that the next job I went to was so mundanely normal that the contrast between the two experiences was beyond stark. And I had to think really long and hard as to how I ended up in that earlier scenario, and to never allow it happen again. Some mistakes you learn from. Some you hope to never repeat, me hearties.

The rain this week has been torrential at times.

Heavy rain has fallen over the farm during the past week

Yet, other days blue skies reigned, humidity was high and the air temperature was cool.

Early morning fog dissipates in the valley below the farm

Despite the cool air, the UV (ultraviolet radiation) is now rated as Extreme, and the suns rays sting and bite exposed skin. Despite the variable weather conditions we continued work on the new path leading from the driveway to the new garden terrace project. A couple of trailer loads of the locally crushed rock with lime were placed over the clay surface. The crushed rock makes for a good all weather surface and the path is a project that serves multiple purposes, one of which is to reduce the possibility of water from very heavy rainfall concentrating anywhere at all up above the house.

Looking east – The path above the house is quite long and is an important bit of infrastructure
Looking west – Another three or maybe four trailer loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime should finish the path up above the house

We continued constructing the concrete staircase leading from the lower garden terraces to the upper garden terraces. At this time of year it takes about a day of the cement curing before construction can commence on the next concrete step. In reality, cement takes about a week to properly cure into concrete.

Another concrete step was constructed on the staircase leading from the lower terraces to the upper terraces

The fencing on the eastern end of the new terrace project was continued this week. As an interesting side story, the editor and I had no real idea how the fencing arrangement should look, however it was only when we began discussing the fencing arrangement that it all became clear to us. And only then could we actually start the work.

Treated pine timber posts were cemented into the ground. Hopefully next week I’ll weld up some steel gates from scrap steel security doors we picked up at the tip shop, and those gates will be attached to the newly installed treated pine posts. In the meantime, over the next week the concrete holding the treated pine posts into the ground can properly cure. It is not a bd thing to allow the concrete to cure properly because the steel gates will be quite heavy.

Treated pine posts were installed this week on the eastern end of the new garden terrace project

The cooler weather this week has really slowed the growth and germination of the summer crops. At least the plentiful rain has meant that I have not had to water the plants that are growing. In an exciting turn of events, some melon seeds germinated this week.

Some melon seeds have germinated this week

The earliest of the black and red currants are becoming closer to being ripe. Currants are usually ripe and ready to eat by about Christmas, although rather than eating them, we turn most of the prodigious crop of berries into a very tasty wine.

Red currants are edging closer to becoming ripe and ready to eat

Gooseberries are also getting closer to being ripe. I quite enjoy the taste of Gooseberries and they remind me of Sultana grapes (a dried variety of table grape). We may have enough of this crop this year to produce some wine, and it will be interesting to see how the wine turns out.

Gooseberries are putting on size and are getting closer to becoming ripe

Blueberries are really slow growing plants here, and possibly I should have grown the many plants in a shadier locale. Some of the blueberry plants have died, but the ones that didn’t seem quite well established now after a few years and are producing plenty of berries (which are also not quite ripe yet).

The blueberries need a bit more time before they are ripe

After killing about maybe five (it could possibly be more) walnut trees, I have finally managed to get a seedling walnut tree to take. I can’t quite understand why I’m having so much difficulty with these nut trees because there are many huge and old examples of walnut trees happily growing in the area apparently without any care or thought.

A seedling walnut tree has finally taken and become established

The tree ferns which I planted in the fern gully have all produced new fern fronds over the past few weeks. I thought that some of them may have died over the winter months, but no.

The tree ferns in the fern gully are growing well

Onto the flowers:

Succulents grow very well here and we’ve added many varieties of them to the garden beds
The local Musk Daisy Bush (Olearia argophylla) which is quite common in the under-story forest, produces a spectacular flower display
Pyretherum flowers look great en masse
It’s geranium time (with a wormwood growing to the fore of the image)
Geraniums produce prolific insect attracting flowers
A rose on the rose terrace
A beautiful rose which has been happily growing in one of the garden beds for many years

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 715.0mm (28.1 inches) which is the higher than last weeks total of 683.2mm (26.9 inches).

47 thoughts on “Cold Spring Mountain”

  1. Hi DJ,

    Itchy, just itchy… And maybe a bit scratchy too, just for good measure! Hehe! Ah Oregon juncos are a native sparrow, and there is no shame in twitching. I spotted a noisy miner the other day and they have a really nice call. As an interesting side note, they’re considered quite an invasive species, however there are so many different types of plants and arrangements of plants here that apart from the magpies few birds enjoy the upper hand. And the magpies and I have an understanding, which does not extend to the dogs. Your Cooper’s hawk looks to me as if it means business.

    Yeah, too true. Down here major projects (road and rail) have taken in many of the former workers who used to do fly in and fly out arrangements at the mines, and they’re being paid more than I ever was. On a serious note, I would not recommend anyone attend Uni these days. The return on investment is just not there, and I say that as someone with a post-graduate education.

    The little rascal was clearly quick on her feet and intellect. Such a character was a central character of Jack Vance’s most excellent book ‘Madouc’. It is up there with my all time fave books. But haven’t we all met such folks?

    I wrote a bit this week about the complexities with planting. Obviously I have no clear notion of what climate change will mean in practice, but I have noted that with climate variability on the increase, timing becomes everything with planting in such conditions. To be honest, I am overly reliant on the weather forecasts because they are actually pretty good. When I was a kid folks used to have old school barometers on their walls, and an abrupt change in air pressure was about as much warning as you’d get of an impending storm.

    Hey, speaking of consumption of life and energies, the legal system from my belief is occasionally used with that outcome in mind. Bear in mind ‘free speech’ has never been a legal right down here: $600,000 restaurant review: Fairfax loses 11-year defamation battle. 11 years though and I end up feeling sorry for everyone involved.

    The Monkey King may have his hands full right now…

    Fortunately I have worked with many engineers over the years and many of them are really lovely people. If I’d had half a brain (which I didn’t), years and years ago I could have had some very interesting discussions with some engineers who used bacteria to break down manure in sewage systems, and that was their specialty. Unfortunately I lacked part of my brain at the time and the opportunity was lost. From hindsight, I have no doubts the engineers regarded my naivety with amusement.



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, yes the dreaded social obligations can run deep in places. Out of curiosity are you still obliged to roll the Ranger out for the assistance of the ladies? I recall an amusing sticker on the back of such a vehicle about a decade ago: “Yes this is my ute (utility vehicle), and no I won’t help you move” (referring to moving house). It pretty says it all regarding social obligations…

    It is interesting that you mention Steve’s social graces and the ongoing dilemma that the ladies face. Years ago I was the recipient of a cat who was no longer wanted (this was the cat Ricey who I wrote about many weeks ago). The former caretaker of this fine feline (my mum) told me that Ricey was a fussy eater. Au contraire, Ricey ate the same cat food that the other resident cat ate. It did however take a day of starving her out before she changed her high falutin ways. If she wanted better food, all she was required to do was work for it, but her natural inclinations were such that she stuck to and enjoyed the average cat food. Such may also be the fate of our democracy.

    Blame Sun Tzu, but my gut feeling suggests to me that Steve is easily trained to better graces if only because it appeases his appetite. If it is good enough for the ladies to whinge about, it is good enough an issue for them to deal with (as a group). It ain’t hard. It is possible nobody has ever admonished Steve for such behaviour, and he may be oblivious to the impact he is having – or worse secretly enjoying the discomfit. I once had to admonish a bloke in my team who due to mental health issues had begun neglecting his personal hygiene. Blokes (and ladies) sometimes do such things to keep other people at arms length.

    Death by sugar! Yeah. Yum, and there is a heck of a lot of fat in there too. It’s good, but not all of the time! 🙂 We as a society eat these days as if it is party time forever and the consequences of that are not even remotely thought through. Most of the time I eat like a rabbit. Hey, tonight I set Ollie to chasing a rabbit, and he’s fast, but they’re much faster.

    Oh no! Fateful day indeed. Ambrose met a rather unpleasant and untimely end. Carthac was a monster and oh boy did he cop it bad or what. And Merlyn has fallen and been raised at the same time. Reading between the lines of the story I see sorrow, loss and the pursuit of power in store for him, but also a certain sort of resignation to it all as if he’d long considered himself dead and removed. It is a heady mix and I note that power can corrupt. The irony, or perhaps it may be better to write, tragedy of the tale is that he outlives them all. I have known people who are much older than you or I who have expressed that emotion / opinion (the English language is not good at such times) – if you can call it that and it left an impression upon me.

    Oh yeah, the dominant narrative held me in thrall – until it failed spectacularly, and then I had to take a good, long hard look into myself. Part of this week’s story was about that.

    Wow. Talk about stealing ones thunder, and I’m particularly glad to read that the surviving common seaman had the good sense to set the record straight about his superiors. Merit is not what it was once worth, although I suspect that may be because the challenges presented in society aren’t dire and/or urgent at the moment. Should the situation change, then meritocracy comes to the fore.

    I read about the depots established on the islands for castaways. Did you know that the Great Ocean Road which runs along the coast to the south west of here, originally had a walking track cut into sometimes sheer cliffs for the benefit of surviving members of shipwrecks. They don’t call that stretch of water both the roaring forties and the ship wreck coast for nonce.

    Thanks for that, and it did look like a vehicle license plate, but the meaning and reference was clear. I tend to feel that a proper vampire would not so advertise themselves so freely. 🙂 Yeah, I read about the 1922 film and some of the film techniques were known even to me, like the shadow rather than the actuality. The German zombie film looks pretty cool. Fast zombies, I hate fast zombies. Why can’t they just shuffle along all docile and stuff…

    Hehe! Yah, I got that about you being ironic, it is just that it is bizarrely cold here at the moment and so I dunno, it’s probably affecting my brain or something… Another cold day here today. I doubt that it got as warm as 59’F. Bonkers.

    You said you were going to add the corn stalks back into the soil. I ran my lot through the electric chipper and within a few weeks the organic matter had been mostly absorbed back into the soil. It is a great idea to do what you are doing, and few people think to do that.

    Sorry, my mind is slipping. What do you mean when you use the word ‘Tower’? The first time you used it I assumed you mis-typed the word ‘Town’ but I don’t really know.

    Hope you are feeling better today? It’s no good feeling ill.

    What a nightmare of a problem: Where is everything in there? Did customers ask for the reconfiguration? Out of curiosity, did it seem to be done on a whim, or was the place refurbished?



  3. Yo, Chris – Maybe if you ask Santa, he’ll bring you a spring, for Christmas? So, did you ever read the book, “Cold Mountain?” I didn’t, but I saw the film. Both, an excursion into our Civil War.

    So when does a drought, stop being a drought, and just become the new normal? Idle speculation. Here, if we have a wet spring, and plant too early, seed rots in the ground. Timing planting is always fraught. Ya need rhythm! 🙂

    Sailing the wide accountant seas, was the best Monty Python sketch, ever! Well, in the top five, at least. When I worked retail, projected sales were always bumped up. And, our yearly raises depended on making the sales, or not. Hence, the 80 hour work weeks, during the holidays.

    And, todays ear worm is, the Beatles, “Long and Winding Road” (path.) It’s quit an accomplishment, and looks very handsome. Fences, steps and gates … shutes and ladders :-).

    If your melons sprouting is an exciting event, maybe you need to get out more? But, I know what you mean. There’s still something of a thrill, to put seeds in the ground and have them grow. And, grow food!

    Those currents look chock full of vitamin C. Of course, our climate is quit different, but to grow blueberries here, they need full sun. But we do have a few bushes, that for some unknown reason, seem to languish. That is a mystery, why you struggle so to establish walnut. Variety? Insufficient sacrifices to the Walnut God? There’s a couple of walnut volunteers, here, that keep persisting in coming up, right in the middle of a blueberry bush. What a cleaver adaptation, as I can’t dig them out. So, every year, I carefully cut them back to the ground. While trying to reign in my irritation, and not do in a blueberry bush.

    I still think Fern Gully needs a garden gnome. Or, a big plastic or concrete dinosaur. Maybe a live in hermit? I saw a 10 foot tall plastic Big Foot, at a garden store. The rocks and tree ferns just “make” that corner of your farm.

    I envy you your pyretherum. I planted a whole packet of seed and got … nothing. The flip side of an exciting turn of events.

    The roses are real stunners. Especially that coral colored one. Cont.

  4. Cont. I once noticed Steve take his partial plate out, and set it on the table. He’s been talked to, about contributing. Once, even I told him, “Steve! You’ve got to bring something, anything. Even a bag of crisps or a package of store bought cookies, will do!” To no avail. And, he’s likely to take a scoop of something, give it a good sniff, and put it back. He was in a bad motorcycle accident, at some point, even has a built up shoe, as a result of it. I wonder if it scrambled his brains, a bit?

    I don’t have problems with the truck being seen as easy transportation, as I established boundaries, early, and maintain them. I do small kindnesses, at time, but at my own speed and convenience. Keeps them off balance :-). I just had a small go-around with the Garden Goddess. I leant three ears of corn, for Thanksgiving “decor”, with the clear understanding that they were a loan. Well, they disappeared the day after Thanksgiving. I circulated through the grape vine, that I’d better get them back, if they wanted corn decor next year, and corn sheafs. 5 day deadline. Well, I got them back this morning, with a note saying she didn’t know who they belonged to… Oh, please.

    Beau was always Death to Possums, but I think he quit liked the bunnies. They’d wander into his pen, and he’d chase them out, but I noticed he always went about it, quit a big slower. And was more playful, with them.

    I quit liked how Merlin became the avenging wraith, ghosting about and terrorizing the enemy. Poor Merlin. First Tessa and then Ambrose. I thought the details on Ambrose’s demise was a bit sketchy. And the wildcat, making the horses bolt, a bit contrived. But, yes, people are stripped away from Merlin, at a frightful clip.

    Eleanor, my neighbor, often comments on that. A lot of the people she’s know, over her life, have passed on. She has family, right down to great grandchildren, but sometimes feels a bit neglected, by them. But, a few keep up with her. Just not as often as she would like. And, she’s not really all that demanding. Although, her hearing loss makes it hard to communicate, at times. But I have no problem.

    Well, the 1928 Rolls Wreath is a bit magic. There’s one scene where the police are right next to it, and take no notice. The henchman asks if the car is invisible. And the vampire says, no, they just don’t notice us. What the difference would be, I don’t know. I think Joe Hill is channeling a bit of his Dad’s “Christine” and “Maximum Overdrive.” Of course, the idea that technology turns on people, is an old trope. Even laundry manglers can be malign. :-). The ghost in the machine.

    59F? I’ll be ironic again, and say that’s shorts and flip flop weather, here. All what you’re acclimatized to. I did see a weather picture, California, I think, of a young man in shorts and flip flops, changing a tire … in the snow. Very foolish to travel through snowy country, in that type of attire. Oh, well. I think there’s still a couple of slots open, for nominations for this year’s Darwin Awards.

    Tower Avenue is Centralia’s high street. Used to be the heart of commercial district. Now, it’s probably half antique and junk stores, with a scattering of lawyers offices, a few restaurants and bars. Where I used to live.

    No real reasons given, for the changes at Safeway. I chatted a bit with the clerk about it, and she just referred to “Corporate” making those kinds of decisions. No impute from staff or customers. There’s probably some kind of “theory” behind it, but it could be a simple as “Let’s give the store a fresh look!” A gander at their sales figures, might be interesting. I’d guess, some of it might be, “Let’s make people run around and be exposed to new things, that they didn’t even know they wanted!” I think a consumer, who has their poop together, knows better. Anyone in their right mind knows that you a.) don’t shop hungry and b.) carry a list.

    The cold hangs on. Tiresome. Lew

  5. Chris,

    The crows and I have a similar understanding to that of you and the magpies. It certainly did NOT extend to the dogs.

    I tend to agree with you regarding university education. I also have post-graduate education. The return on the money just isn’t there. I suggest to any who listen to learn how to do things. Learn a trade, become a jack of all trades, etc., but not for new construction. The niche is in repairs and retrofitting, which will always have a market. There are some jobs that really can’t be automated and are useful. At least that’s the route I’d go.

    Thanks for the link to that article. It sounds as if the attorneys came out okay. One would think that, free speech or not, if one is going to write a scathing restaurant review, one had better be able to prove that the review was correct.

    You’re probably spot on. The Monkey King is working overtime.

    That was an interesting discussion about your old accounting management job. What you went through is one of the main reasons I never applied for a management position where I work. The politics can get unbearable in my senior level non-management position. The last manager for my small group, whose position remains unfilled 21 months after his retirement, eventually drove him nuts. He generally protected his staff from the normal nonsense, but he did relate to us one thing. He was entirely nonconfrontational, yet one senior management decision led him to fight and fight and fight until he was told to shut up lest they fire him for insubordination. That management decision basically ended the extremely successful program I’ve spend my career working in.

    Planting in this climate weirding is hard. It used to work like clockwork. Now it’s more of an art than a science. A diversity of plants is required, yet it is still HARD to know when to plant each thing.

    ““Best is enemy of the good”. True that. Sometimes it’s best to stick with “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Sometimes the “improvement” being attempted ruins what was adequate.


  6. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry to hear your cold is continuing to linger and be a nuisance. You have my sympathies. It hung around me for about two weeks, and then one day at the end of the two weeks, I woke (!) up and early in the morning and my sinus decided that it was time to drain. A truly revolting experience, but also something of a relief.

    It is part of the writing journey to chuck in a sneaky cultural reference every now and then. It’s a bit like book recommendations don’t you reckon? 🙂 The local hamlet where I reside is named after the Indian tribe from that particular part of the world. I call it a hamlet because it really is just a collection of houses, although there was once an operational post office and primary school. Somebody once asked me in all seriousness what shops were located in the township. Things that make you go, hmm… The story is that back in the late 1850’s and early 1860’s, timber getters who failed in the gold rush from that particular part of the US, plied their trade in this very mountain range and noticed a few similarities.

    You’re probably right about the climate variability being the new norm. We have not been kind to this old continent, and the band of habitable and arable land is remarkably small. The Bureau of Meteorology released a climate update which takes but a few minutes to appreciate the true horror: Bureau of Meteorology declares spring 2019 the driest on record.

    Rhythm is definitely the right approach. I’m trying over the years to develop a sense of when things feel right to plant given the prevailing conditions. Given I have limited access to water, I’m learning pretty fast, but even so a true appreciation may only develop after several decades of experience.

    Hehe! It was pretty funny, and the highlight of that particular Monty Python movie, which frankly told less of a story and was more of a collection of hashed together comedy sketches. Haha! You clearly understood my story, and how a person could get swept away on the rising tide of craziness. Incidentally, since those days I have this deep seated suspicion of what you described, and I know as the dreaded ‘top down’ budget. Yes, comfy folks at the top of the food chain decide that your life wasn’t difficult enough and so lifted expectations of performance. They never work. Incidentally, I note that in Camulod, Merlyn always utilised the superior ‘bottom up’ budget methodology (ask what people reckon they can do, and go from there). There is buy-in with such methodologies.

    A true masterly song. Let’s hope that there are not snakes among the ladders! 😉

    Small things and all that. Hehe! You may note that I rarely if ever speak of the larger events, instead I speak as to how they play out. It is the forgotten country. It is a bit like the rise of bargain shopping in your country and also here, and how much of a drama that has been. I walked away from the big end of town. Is this wrong? Dunno. And home grown melons are far superior to anything that you can purchase. There is a lovely lady that I know who is a vegan (not of the militant variety) and has done me some favours in the past out of kindness and I always try to gift her some ripe melons.

    How funny is that about planting blueberries in the full sun! What a difference half a world away makes. I’d like to believe that sacrificing at least five walnut trees to the walnut Gods would satisfy them, but they’re hungry blighters. I have a good feeling about the walnut seedling which has taken. It just looks healthy.

    You’ve inspired me to play Abbey Road softly in the background this evening.

    You may laugh, but I have it on good authority that there is indeed a real life hermit living not too far from here. Apparently the dude comes and goes as he pleases. I can see the appeal of such a life. You never know about when a garden gnome will enter into your life. My eyes are open and the elder folk of the forest may provide, although they may prefer that I get a few more ferns established in that fern gully first.

    Pyrethrum are a funny plant and they thrive on well drained soil and this curious thing called benign neglect – you may have encountered that state before? The few colonies of plants that grow here just do their own thing. Such plants make me look like I know what I’m doing.

    The rose terrace is going to get better and better. It is a pleasure to walk around in the late evening after a day of work and see what the plants have been up to during the day. We’re sort of discussing whether leaving the branching roses to just send shooters out to cover over the exposed soil batter on the edges of the terraces.

    Ah, well that puts a whole new spin on the story of Steve. He may not be able to be redeemed without further work. Double dipping is not cool in anyone’s language. I doubt very much that he is unable to learn, he just may not want to or see the point.

    I have heard tell that the devil is the father of lies, and yet there are lies for personal advantage and then there are social lies. I have long wondered about this subject and I tend to believe that the social lie which you were told is a way of smoothing over the social niceties and not backing the Garden Goddess into a corner. What do you reckon about that?

    Beau may have a better insight into the mind of Ollie the bunny chasing cattle dog. About a year ago, Ollie had to deal to a parrot, and all he wanted to do was play. Scritchy on the other hand – who is considerably older – just dealt to the parrot swiftly and finally and moved on with her life as if it was a part of her usual everyday experience.

    Merlyn used one of my favourite techniques when infiltrating the enemy camps and that was acting dumb. If it works… I really liked the story as to how he defeated Carthac and rose from the dead all at the same time, although he’s losing friends faster now than he is making them. There may be a lesson in there for us all! I guess that is what happens in life as one ages. And yes, Eleanor has a point and I did mention that I have heard that point of view offered by other people in similar circumstances. What do you do other than face the future with good grace?

    Not being noticed is a skill – exactly like Merlyn acting dumb and then poisoning a whole bunch of the enemy. The question really should be who is the dumbie in that particular circumstance?

    The weather forecast for the next week here looks pretty nice. And I reckon it is stretching the truth to call such weather shorts and flip-flop weather (although we call flip-flops, thongs down here, which has an entirely different and very surprising meaning in your part of the world). And we’ve all encountered such folks before, and given how people see the future, there are an awful lot of them around.

    Thanks for the explanation and mental picture of your main street. What an odd collection of businesses.

    Lists are good and keep a person on track! 🙂



  7. Hi DJ,

    The dogs clearly see the world differently, and it may be that they were playing with the crows? The magpies treat the dogs with a certain level of seriousness, but respect might be too big a call.

    Hey, that is a great point, and the old trades are often well remunerated. Now where was I reading something about that the other day… … Oooo! Here you go: Restoring heritage properties is a dying art but Graham is determined to pass on the tradition. He sounds alright that bloke.

    Ouch. All of the parties to that legal mess paid a high price. The reviewer moved down to Tasmania and is now a small holder and I believe raises heritage pigs and began a series titled ‘Gourmet Farmer’. There is no such thing as ‘free speech’ down here and you may note that I couch statements as beliefs and opinions rather than statements of fact for that very reason.

    Mate, I too have heard that claim of insubordination with the people in the story, and I quipped to them: What are we in the (a naughty word that rhymes with the word trucking) army? They seemed quite taken aback by my response. I don’t avoid the biffo, if only because it is easier to have the err, discussion, than sweep things under the carpet. I’m really sorry that it didn’t work out so well for you and it is tough to have your work disappear. It is a weight to carry, but success does not guarantee that policies get support.

    What do you do? I expect climate variability to get worse before too long, and oh yeah it makes timing planting very difficult. I read that yet another large dairy farm down here has just closed its doors and sold off the cows to the abattoir due to lack of profitability.

    We’ve all encountered a few of those unasked for improvements. 🙂 It’s a bit of a curse really.



  8. Hi, Chris!

    I love your maritime analogy. And you were perhaps a young and more reckless Chris? They wouldn’t catch you again! This: “Best is enemy of the good” is so true; thanks.

    Is the cold Antarctic air flowing up your way the reason for all your extra rain? At least, it seems like you are having more rain than usual. I wonder why the high UV rays haven’t been heating the ground more? After all, we are very near the solstice. With your weather lately I would think that the concrete is taking longer to cure.

    That’s not a path – that’s an avenue! I expect to see a horse and carriage driving down it with Ollie as coach dog.

    We have never had a problem with water coming down on our property from the gravel road 120 feet above us. That is because someone designed it well, or was lucky – it was once connected to a road that goes over the mountain, thankfully that was shut off before we got up here, and turned into a dead end. They also put drainage pipes at intervals. However, we do get a lot of water down our driveway, but for some reason it hasn’t been a problem, I guess because it runs past the house and down a natural small gully. The soil at the bottom of that is very nice and I sometimes gather it up for the garden.

    I can’t understand why melon seeds would germinate, and corn not, in your cool weather. I have always found it to be the opposite. At least you have fruit.

    Gooseberry wine sounds very nice.

    Are all the walnuts that you have planted the same kind? Black walnut is native to here, but the commercial walnuts are English (Persian). I don’t know how well English walnuts would grow here.

    Your wormwood looks like one of our weeds. I remember you said that apple trees were doing well with it near them.

    I love that peachy rose. And the other as well.

    How thoughtful – and practical – is it that they cut a path along the cliffs for shipwreck survivors. It also shows how common such a terrible occurrence must have been.

    When in the grocery store yesterday I saw turkeys for sale at 39 cents a pound. There must be some incredible subsidies there.


  9. @DJ
    You certainly been having a rough time of it. Seems like these things come in waves so hopefully this is the end for you for awhile.


  10. Hi Chris,
    You sure are having the weather challenges this year. The proximity of the fires must be rather unnerving to say the least.
    Thanks for the tale of your accounting jobs. I decided to get out of accounting mostly due to the long hours though I questioned how meaningful it was keeping track of other people’s money. My jobs were all with small operation s
    which was certainly better than being lost in a large corporation. My sister is one of several comptrollers of a growing company. For many years she enjoyed her job but as they keep acquiring more businesses that’s not so much the case. As you might guess with my accounting background I’m the one who keeps track of our money. I’ve also been the executor of five estates. I am dumbfounded how many people have no idea where their money goes.

    Where is the fluffy collective this week?

    Doug only sold honey one out of the three days the tree farm was open last weekend as the weather was pretty awful Saturday and Sunday – rainy and windy. He just sets up outside under a canopy. However, on Friday he and the tree farm had the best day they’ve ever had. They’ve sold so many trees they’re only open next weekend in order to have enough trees in coming years. You may recall they bought our 44 acre parcel next to our old house that was owned by my family’s trust as they are looking to expand big time. There’s lots of new trees planted there now as well.


  11. Hello Chris
    I am back on line far sooner than I had expected.
    Other people have commented on my stepfather’s language. It is the result of a very expensive private school education and an indicator of class in this country. His education was paid for by an uncle who was a cardinal and expected my stepfather to enter the church. As it turned out, the result was the most rabid atheist I have ever encountered.
    Yesterday I cooked and ate a wonderful roast pheasant. Have never had this before. An acquaintance of Son had been given a lot of them but due to a manky (never seen this word in print only spoken) hand had been unable to pluck them. So Son did this and was given some in thanks. It appears that people here shoot them but don’t eat them and they just get dumped. Son found a large bin bag full of them in a field many years ago. Wanting to just shoot seems quite nuts to me.


  12. Yo, Chris – I think the reason this cold isn’t as bad as some is, I’ve managed to keep my sinuses open. I used saline spray, early and often. Seemed to work. No basis in science, but just what happened. Always handy to have a bottle of that stuff around. But buy the stuff made for babies. The adult stuff is awful.

    We also had several small towns, around our county, that are no longer there. Little coal camps and timber towns. When travel was rough, and arduous, the basics had to be more at hand. There’s a certain band of collectors, that collect postcards with cancelation marks from towns that no longer exist :-). Sometimes, the canceled stamps are all that remains.

    Cliff Mass’s latest post said we almost had the driest November on record. Our long range forecast is hot and dry at times, and then deluge, when it rains.

    So shutes and ladders is a song? Way back when I was a kid, it was a popular children’s board game. Funny how language changes. Flip flops were also called thongs, here. Until the advent of using the word to denote a style of skimpy underwear (aka, dental floss.).

    It’s always a surprise when I pull a carrot out of the ground, and it tastes so much better than anything I get at the store.

    A rose bank would be lovely. Pays dividends. High rate of interest :-).

    We actually have a “Main Street”, in Centralia. Wishful thinking on the town planners part. The “real” main street became Tower Avenue. probably because it was a block of (and parralleled (sic)) the railroad tracks. I’ve seen pictures from the 20s and 30s of Tower Avenue. Fridays and Saturday nights, everyone “came to town.” Traffic jams and bumper to bumper traffic … old cars with the occasional farm wagon, mixed in. Back then, there were two big (for the town) department stores, a drugstore with soda fountain, several movie theaters, hardware stores, clothing stores. And on the second floors were all the lawyers, dentists and doctors. Small hotels. It was a happening place :-). Lew

  13. Yo, Chris – (Again). Hope my last post didn’t come through 4 or 5 times. There was strangeness, at my end. I think what happens is that when you’re tinkering under the hood, stuff happens. I noticed between starting my post, and, attempting to post it, you’d put through several posts from your other constant readers. My post didn’t get an edit screen, and, disappeared. But by hitting the back button, and cutting and pasting, I managed to re-post again … and again. Oh, well. Hope there wasn’t too much confusion, at your end.

    Hermits. A few weeks ago, YouTube, in it’s algorythmic wisdom tossed up a post about a hermit who lived in one of your rain forests. And interesting and rather inspiring story. From burnt out forest hermit, to university lecturer. It’s about 30 minutes long.

    I also got an Acorn catalog, yesterday, and noticed a couple of items of interest. They are the American distributors for a lot of the BBC movies and series.

    “Classic Musicals: 50 Movies” :-). 66 hours on 12 DVDs! I’m sure you’d be interested. :-). $25.

    Probably more up your alley, “Rocky and Bullwinkle: The Complete Series.” All 163 episodes, in broadcast order! Extras! Episode Guide! All for the low, low price of $75! I don’t plan to purchase it, or, the aforementioned. But, it’s nice to know R & B are out there. Lew

  14. Chris,

    I keep forgetting to mention something. I’ve got hazelnut (philbert) trees and walnut trees. The squirrels get all the nuts. They also bury walnuts all over the flower beds, so each spring I pull up several new walnut trees that are where I don’t want them. Perhaps I should send them to you? 😉

    Other than Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz catching and killing a mother and juvenile crow once, the crows were more of a nuisance to her than her and the crows joking around. Not often, and always with a good reason, but a few times the entire murder of dozens of crows gave her grief. I stepped in and told them what was and wasn’t acceptable and things calmed down, although on one occasion I did have to bring Cheyenne indoors for an hour. That allowed the crows to escort a juvenile that couldn’t fly out of the yard.

    Interesting article. Making shakes with those old tools looks like a specialized technique and hard work, but they look wonderful. Hopefully enough youngsters learn how to do that.

    Wise idea couching things as opinion! I get some mileage at the job using that technique when forced to discuss controversial things. Once upon a year, I also got a lot of mileage out of playing dumb. It took the powers that be a few years to catch onto what I was doing. I’ve found in strange and new situations that it really isn’t a good idea to let on how much I know.

    It’s interesting that the program is dead, the other tech and I both know it, our boss knows it, his boss knows it. But we can’t officially kill it and spend all of our time on other things, as the elected officials refuse to acknowledge that the program has died. It is a political nightmare as a result. When having to slog through trying to work the dead program, it’s very hard to avoid the attitude “After 10 minutes at work, I use the ‘rhymes with truck word’ as a comma.” Oh well, less than 15 months and I get to “collapse now and avoid the rush”.

    Dairy farms are struggling in the USA also. Many people don’t drink milk any more. Several of us need to avoid the casein protein so drink almond milk or something. It all adds up to problems for the dairy farmers.

    I think you and Lew discussed the giant car mashup? Cliff Mass discussed it with pictures here: This occurred just west of Spokane. One of my coworkers missed being in it by about 15cm! He realized the conditions were bad, slowed down, saw all the stopped tail lights and was able to stop 15cm short of the last car in the mess. and the car behind him stopped 15cm short of my coworker. It took him over an hour to travel the last 10km to his house.


  15. Hi Pam, Margaret, Inge, Lewis and DJ,

    Tis the dread mid-week hiatus and not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse (or a fluffy for that matter). Actually, the wildlife seem very subdued this evening, so they too must be aware that it is the mid-week hiatus. Stranger things have happened.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, speaking of computer problems, some shmuck in Singapore was trying to hack into my business website. Although why they’d want to do that is a question that is beyond me – it is a very boring website. What a nuisance and an eater of my life to deal with, and I dealt to them, boring folks, have they nothing better to do with their time. I hear that rainfall has been very low in Singapore of late due to the same weather conditions that are affecting Australia. They should worry more about that little problem…

    No stress, I received all of the comments and just deleted the extra ones. It is not a problem at all. Incidentally, I was doing a bit of website maintenance this morning which may have caused the issue for you. Updates come through thick and fast, and I keep the bare minimum add ons to the core software. Oh well, not very interesting and all that, and I’ll change and do my maintenance at night and that should eliminate that problem and it really is no skin off me.

    Wow! Things are definitely heating up in Camulod with a monster invasion. I wonder if Horsa’s Danes have to decide who’s side they’re on, the oldies or the new comers? What a decision they’re going to have to make. I would think that the invaders might have issues with food after not too long.

    Whatever works with reducing the impact of a cold is a great idea. I tend to keep very hydrated and drink lots of water, and that helps my sinuses. I’ve never tried the spray and will have a look the next time I’m at the chemist. I’ve always been mildly amused how chemists (or pharmacies) are described as ‘drug stores’ in your lingo. It sounds all a bit naughty to my ears, like as if a person was heading off to see their local dealer…

    I can’t think of any towns that have been abandoned down here, although there are some places that have only a few hardy souls remaining. I read about one a long time ago and the town may have been abandoned due to heavy metal contamination but I can’t quite recall the details… … Oh no! It’s worse than I thought: Tourists warned over visiting asbestos-riddled Wittenoom, Australia’s most dangerous ghost town. I’d be pretty sure that I’ve come int contact with that material as it was used in a whole bunch of products and was only banned in 1985. This is what a poisoned planet looks like.

    What fires a collectors interest could make for an interesting thesis?

    I read the Cliffmass blog entry and to be honest it reads like the sort of climate that I have here, without all the snow and stuff. Yeah, but I reckon he’s right about things getting wetter, when the climate gets around to doing so. What is your take on that?

    Nope, I meant snakes and ladders the game. A mate tells me that board games are beginning to have a resurgence.

    Yup, fresh carrots and pretty much most fresh vegetables and fruit taste better than the purchased stuff. Carrots grow wild here, although over the years the wild carrots have lost their orange colour and reverted to something closer looking to a parsnip, but with the taste of carrot.

    Hehe! I’ll keep your rose bank idea in mind. I hear the capital growth is good too! 🙂

    I can see how the main street became the street alongside the railway. Makes perfect sense. I reckon the thought of town planning must be a joke I don’t quite get because to me it seems like a reactionary system pushed by developers. Surely a community can have a say as to what it should look like and how it will function? The nearby town has most of the primary schools on one side of the freeway on the outer edge, whilst the majority of folks live on the other side of the freeway, so each day huge numbers of folks drive backwards and forwards. It just doesn’t look good to me.



  17. Yo, Chris – Your comment to Pam about “Best is the enemy of good.” I ran across a saying the other day, from our mythical (for good or bad) state of Texas. “If all you ever do is all you’ve ever done, then all you’ll ever get is all you ever got.” I may post both next to my computer :-).

    Sorry about the duplication. At least my deathless prose, wasn’t lost :-). My computer has been a bit hinkey (a highly technical and scientific term) lately. I don’t know if it’s my computer, our Wi-fi network here at The Institution, or, the Net, in general.

    Given the state of our pharmaceutical industry, visiting the chemist is much like visiting a drug dealer.

    Wittenoom is a bit like Chernobyl … on a much smaller scale.

    Why do people collect?

    There are many articles on the net about the psychology of collecting. And, I’ve seen lists longer than this.

    I expect to see more rain storms, with huge amounts of water dumped and stalled weather systems. We haven’t had a good flood, in awhile.

    I’ve read a few articles that there are board game cafes, now. I suppose they’ll be a fad, like any other. Here … and gone.

    Well, unless you have tight zoning, towns grow as they will. Needs must. The avenue that runs parallel of Tower Avenue, is Railroad Avenue. It used to be lined with hotels, and a lot of the businesses on Tower, that extended through the whole block, had two facades … one on each street.

    Off to gas with my friend Scott. Hit the bank, the veg store, the library. Typical Wednesday. Lew

  18. Hi Lewis,

    The Texan saying is a goodie. Another along those lines is that: It is what is, and it ain’t what it ain’t. Clearly from the school of stoic philosophy. Oh, I was just replyint to your comment and my eye felt really irritated and when I made a closer inspection with a mirror, there was an eye lash in there. Not good and I had to flush it out.

    Speaking of unwell computers, and other matters. How is the cold today? Hope you are feeling better?

    Today was another glorious and cool but sunny spring day, and I woke up on the wrong side of bed. Plans were that work needed doing, and the editor suggested that I do other things. Other things it was then, and so I welded up two gates out of the scrap security doors that I purchased a while ago at the tip shop.

    I’d bought a spare welder a few months ago (a victim of a 50% off sale, alas I am weak) and used it for the first time today. It’s a great little unit. My other welder is about 45 years old, but I suspect that it will outlast this new welder by about 40 years. In the big smoke I used to live opposite a sculptor who I was on good terms and he let me use his workshop – which was enormous – when I as fabricating steel projects. He had an equally old and ancient welder and swore by it, and I guess he’d know. Still the new one is good.

    Hehe! Yeah, that was my sneaky intent, but we don’t call them that down here and to do so would raise eyebrows and people would seriously wonder what a person saying that would be up to. Picking up baggies would be the guess. But yeah, they do earn such a nomiker. Has there been any progression on the opiod crisis in your country? I believe the distribution of the stuff was recently throttled down here.

    Yes, Chernobyl. It does make my wonder whether nefarious folks are dropping further toxic waste in that locale. It would not surprise me at all. Does anyone ever get updates on Fukushima these days or has it all faded from the public mind?

    I’m going to savour the collectors article for tomorrow evening!

    I’ll try and get the gates installed tomorrow on the new garden terrace project. That is the plan anyway…

    Cheers and gotta bounce!


  19. Planting timing- We used to go by calendar and tradition for planting our sweet corn, but found that checking soil temp is much better. Corn ( at least here) needs minimum 50F ( 10C) or 55F even better for good germination. As warm as the air might be, or sunny and mild, gotta check the soil temp. Seeds will succumb to mold, other organisms if left in ground too long before sprouting. Some plants just seem to resist tough conditions better than others, and I am guessing corn is more “fragile” because it has been so domesticated.

    Cold Mountain-I assume your post title is alluding to the book. Haven’t seen the movie, read the book. I recommend it. Yes, it’s about the U.S. civil war, but it’s mostly about perseverance, getting through tough times, and connection to place. Could be a useful parable for coming times.

    And it’s just well written.

  20. Yo, Chris – This may have to wait, til later. I think my terminal, is terminal. It’s keeps shutting down, all on it’s own. My computer is dying! Oh, well. It’s over 10 years old. Lew

  21. Yo, Chris – Try this again. The cold gets better, incrementally. Two steps forward, one step back. Did a lot of running around, yesterday. Was pretty tuckered, when I got home.

    Who can resist a good 50% off sale? 10% hardly seems worth the effort. Barely covers the sales tax. Garrison auctions is having another workshop clear out, this week end. Seems like there’s at least one a month. All the Old Guys are dying off. And, without them to bid against each other, the prices are really low. For a Young Dude, putting together a workshop, now is the time to buy.

    Oh, we still hear about the opiod crisis. Mostly stepping on the drug companies and such. Treatment. But, some new illicit drug craze will come down the pike. Fukushima has faded from the news.

    My life is about to make an abrupt change. I’m done with Safeway. Stopped in their, last night, around 10 and the place was a mad house. A painting crew. Either what I needed was blocked, or, covered in plastic. Ice cream was back down to $2.50 … if you bought 4. So, there will be vast re-arrangements, in my shopping habits.

    Slogging my way through season 2 of Star Trek, discovery. I think season 2 is better than season 1. Lew

  22. PS: I see Mr. Greer is talking about libraries, this week. I could say a lot about that, but, where to start? Lew

  23. Hi Pam,

    Argh! Here be treasure, me scallywag! 🙂 Well, there might be something in those words! Hehe! I’d like to think so, anyway… Oh, here goes, I do appreciate your interpretation, but I’m kind of going with: Young and dumb. It seems more appropriate when one puts ones ego ahead of their capacity for dealing with bull-dust. And yes, the saying is very good, and also very deep.

    Yes, it is raining in this little corner of the continent (or has been) when to the north of here, things are not good, and the stratospheric warming over Antarctica is part of that story. You’ve reminded me that I need to get the soil thermometer out and test the beds. The sun does heat the soil during the day, but the cold night air robs the energy. This year’s growing season is very slow. Mind you, Monday is forecast to reach 99’F, but then the following day is only forecast to be 70’F. Think head spinning Exorcist style.

    Ollie is unimpressed with the thought of being fitted with a harness, but you might be onto something with that.

    Be careful lest ye tempt the water run off Gods. 😉 The road here is well designed too, however the failure occurred due to a build up of dead leaves and other organic matter in the drainage channels due to serious dry weather, and the 4 inches of rain in an hour did not assist matters. The drainage channels spilled their banks and flowed into the land up above the house. If it’s happened once… And oh yes indeedey, nobody wants to live on a road that goes somewhere interesting. Totally approve of your soil reclamation works. Go on tease me, and describe just how good the soil is in that gully! I fully approve and would do no less.

    It may be a two pronged issue in that the soil in the corn enclosure is still too new to be any good. I find that it takes three years at a minimum to produce highly fertile top soil, and I’ve really never discovered a way to speed up the process. The melons are growing in very good and very deep soil.

    To be honest, I’m not really sure about the walnut tree. I have been sold mislabelled trees before, and I don’t even feel that it is an intentional thing, the people selling them are just oblivious. I’d be happy with black walnuts, although I hear that they require more than a sledge hammer to crack open.

    Yup, wormwood and apple trees are a winning combination although I am unsure why this may be.

    The roses have produced some lovely flowers this week. They’re finding their groove.

    The life of a sailor in those days would have been rather tenuous. On the other hand I believe that not a single convict ship was lost at sea on its way from old England to this rather large penal colony back in the day. Mind you, some of the crews withheld rations from the convicts so that they could sell them to settlers upon arrival in the colonies, so morals may have been a bit loose with the crews.

    Honestly I don’t even know how the turkey story is a possibility as it sounds below the cost of production to me. A few years ago I purchased a roast chicken, and it was a scrawny thing of a bird, and it is not an enjoyable thing to know too much about the origin of ones meal.



  24. Hi Margaret,

    So far it’s been a cool-ish spring, which is quite bonkers when up north they’re having serious bushfires and heat waves. Monday is forecast to reach 99’F, but then the following day is only forecast to be 70’F. It really is doing my head in. I’m glad that the water tanks are mostly full and so as long as nothing unfortunate happens, we should be able to eek it out through until next autumn. The soils in the new garden terraces projects are still too new to be any good, and so we’ve only really attempted to grow anything in about half the space (and probably far less really). It should be easier next growing season in another year. You may be able to relate given you and Doug are in your new digs, but it just takes a while to get systems up to speed, and good top soil is just something that you can’t rush.

    The profession has been counting beans for quite an historical while, so… The stupid thing about long hours is that they only tend to drive down a person’s hourly rate that you’re remunerated. It makes little sense in reality, but at the time I kind of got swept away. Better to learn harsh lessons when you’re young and dumb. Anyway, that is my take on things.

    Haha! Yes, large companies are not all that they are cracked up to be. If I could but offer one chunk of advice in relation to that story: Don’t believe the hype. 😉 It is possible that your sister has to request additional resources, whilst acknowledging that sometimes the beast can morph into something that it once was not. It happens. And as to financial literacy, well it ain’t what it once was. What else can you say? When I was a kid, the banks way back in the day sent unsolicited credit cards with pre-approved small limits to their customers. Now, when they arrived in the mail – unannounced – I recall the hue and cry and it was almost as if the Devil himself had dropped by for a drink. Unfortunately, temptation can produce unrelenting anguish in some folks, and eventually an emergency reared its ugly head, and the Devil was brought to the fore. I can almost hear the cry of the bloke with the horns and tail assurance as the words of the unsolicited card was used: I got this…

    Oh my! A true error on my part. The Fluffy collective are outraged by the photography oversight. Ollie has popped a fart in protest.

    I hope Doug was rugged up against the cold – and the canopy sounds like a great idea. Top work for both Doug and the tree farm. Out of curiosity, you must have both wondered if a competitor has closed their farm gates for demand to suddenly rise so much? Or has the population increased suddenly in your big smoke? I’m always amazed at how your population moves around a lot.

    Began getting the fencing up on the new garden terraces project over the past two days. When you fence things, that’s when you understand how huge they are!



  25. Hi Inge,

    Just let the chickens out of their enclosure to roam around the orchard in the cool early summer air.

    Yes, his language skills are superb, and I hope you felt appropriately chastised after reading the letter all those years ago? 🙂 To be honest I wasn’t entirely certain if he was simply using words to channel your mothers emotions and neatly redirect them away from himself, but I have not met either person and am only having cloudy and obscured thoughts about the letter. Certainly I would have softened the tone and asked if you had enjoyed your stay, but then that is me…

    Ah well, people can but set children upon directions and then hope for the best. Nothing is ever guaranteed on that front, although I have known people who’s parents relentlessly repeat topics to their children. A good example is: “When you’ve completed University”, repeated ad nauseum over many years. Even still, with such techniques there is no guarantee of success.

    No, I’ve never tasted roast pheasant before either. There is a certain irony to your roast, given the mess made in your glass house many years ago! Such irony would make the meat tastier.

    You know, I don’t get hunting where the meat is not then provided for the table. It is hardly sporting. I heard an account a few weeks ago that hunters sometimes lose their dogs during the hunt, and then they abandon them, and inevitably they’d cause mischief.



  26. Hi DJ,

    Hehe! You are surely teasing me with this nonchalant talk of easily germinating walnut trees! Hehe! Funny. Hey, you have reminded me that I do actually have a wild hazelnut shrub growing and I have no idea how it came to be where it is. Incidentally, it is located at the mid-point between two distant hazelnut shrubs. They may take new shrubs from their root systems, because I am yet to encounter a nut from the many bushes growing here. So far, almonds and then horse chestnuts seem to be the quickest producing nut trees. For your interest, I have two Macadamia trees growing, although the word ‘growing’ is probably a bit optimistic because they’re a bit small and haven’t grown much in many years… One must dream. I don’t reckon customs will let your ones through. 😉

    Ah yes, of course, the magpies will likewise be very protective of their young (same family of birds), but all the same it is very rough and tumble in the world of bird and if they don’t rapidly earn their flying stripes, well, things can go badly very quickly.

    You’d hope so with the old fella’s handing over their old-timey construction skills, but you never know. I learned a lot working on old Victorian era buildings, and they were very sturdily constructed (at least the ones that survived over a century of occupation and abuse appeared to me). It was also very interesting to correct any problems not considered in the original buildings – hindsight and some modern materials (especially damp proof courses and ant caps) can be a wonderful thing. Those materials just weren’t around back in the day.

    The flip-side of not acting dumb and revealing your hand is that (and you can quote me): The competent rapidly become burdened… Past experience has been a brutal teacher. 🙂

    15 months will pass in the blink of an eye, and before you know it you’ll be enjoying your plentiful free time. It is an unfortunate thing that life speeds up as we age.

    There is also a massive export market for milk products, but that is usually something only for very large dairy producers to attend to. To me it sort of looks like the point of sale price for milk has dropped below the cost of production – and not many businesses can supply at that price point for long. Plus I have read opinions expressed that fresh milk is an undesirable product for supermarkets due to wastage issues.

    How lucky was you co-worker? I saw the same blog entry by the good Professor and the pile up looked really nasty.

    Has it warmed up at all?



  27. Hi Lewis,

    Sorry to hear that your cold is still lingering, but it is good that you’re still getting on with the day to day biz. But yeah, it wears me out too when it visits here. Did you have a good catch up with Scott, and were nacho’s or taco’s involved?

    Maybe nacho’s are on my mind this evening as the editor ordered a plate of nacho’s last evening at the local pub. It was very tasty, although the plate was ginormous and we left the pub feeling full up to our eyeballs. The corn chips had died for the editors dinner, so it seemed quite wasteful to not eat them all. The chili barely had any bite to it, and interestingly we’re yet to find any seedling punnets of milder chili’s. I have to sort out some sort of cold frame for germinating and raising such plants in place.

    Fortunately we had a good feed yesterday because today we cemented in the remaining treated pine timber posts for the fencing around the new garden terraces project. The steel gates were hung and painted, and also another cement stair step was made. We got up early (not my favourite past time) and just got into the work today. By the time 3pm rolled around all thoughts of the previous evenings nacho’s were done and finished. We then stopped for lunch. It was hard work and I’m feeling it tonight. The plan is to get the fencing installed tomorrow, but we’ll see how it goes. Everything takes many hours longer than we expect. Oh well.

    I appreciated the collectors article which appeared to have been an introduction to an auction site – yes, be very afraid for interesting things probably lie in wait for the unwary at such a website!

    Yeah, those are the sorts of weather events we are also seeing. Not much rain, and then a whole bunch of rain, then not much rain. Unfortunately, we as a culture have changed the way that rainfall is absorbed into the soils because we have this bizarre notion that rain is best sent away to elsewhere, and our cultures drainage systems reflect that. It is hardly surprising that soils dry out and transpiration of the few trees that are in such places is markedly reduced. I guess we’ll find out exactly how far that process can be taken. Speaking of Texas, there were some epic floods a while back…

    Hmm, I haven’t heard of a board game cafe concept before. Interesting. I recall the days when it was considered morally dangerous to get together with your mates and play a round of Dungeons and Dragons. But yeah, fads come and go.

    Sorry to say but that was the exact same story which accompanied the recent purchase of the low centre of gravity mower. I couldn’t pay for one at its original sticker price which isn’t far off that of a new car. I don’t expect that situation with the equipment to continue, but whilst it is, why not? To be honest I’m not really clear on what situation will replace that particular story. Probably a paucity of skills and equipment, at a wild guess. What do you reckon? There aren’t that many folks my age who are interested in edible plants, so I dunno. What do you do? At some point in the future I’ll have to start and run a local club for edible plants, but until the red tape for such things gets less onerous, it’s just something that will have to wait in the wings. The red tape story is a sad tale indeed.

    The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists have a fairly easy to read update on Fukushima. Ouch. It does not make for pleasant reading. I’m amazed to read that several hundred evacuated people have returned to their former lands near to the stricken reactors. Oh well, they’re hardy souls and are probably enjoying some quiet time in an otherwise heavily populated few islands.

    Good luck with the new shopping habits. I long since gave up on the big supermarkets here (there are a couple of independent ones in the nearby town), and have always stuck to the fresh fruit and vegetable markets closer in to the big smoke. I quite enjoy the market I go to these days and it is called Big Sam’s Shed. It sure is busy though, but it doesn’t take long until the individual store holders get to know you – and there is far less packaging at such places. I take plastic containers for grains, and then cloth bags that the editor sewed up for fruit and veg. I often wonder what all the carry-on is about with plastic bags – they’re just not that good.



  28. Chris:

    I shall quote this: “The competent rapidly become burdened.”

    And keep it in mind. Thanks.


  29. Hello again
    If I had felt even remotely chastised, I think that I would have remembered the letter and moving the mirror but I don’t. His relationship with my mother was complex and I don’t pretend to understand it. It seemed to work okay in its own weird way.
    Thanks for reminding me about the damage caused by a previous pheasant. Mind you I don’t believe in suffering for the sins of another. I hope that the one I ate received a reward in a further existence, if there is such a thing.


  30. Yo, Chris – No nachos were involved in the discourse between Scott and I :-). He was just working his usual shift at the Club, and I was keeping him company and we did our usual weekly catch up.

    I went in to see another friend of mine, Susan, yesterday. A fellow named Jay showed up with home made smoked salmon and cream cheese dip and crackers. Yummers!

    Paucity. I had to look that one up. “Is Chris talking about few, or many?” From the Latin paucus (few) , by way of old French. So, by edible plants, do you mean edible wild plants, or, plants that are edible by way of being grown in a more “natural” manner?

    I went up on Tower Avenue, yesterday, and found a nice print. A still life of green and purple grapes, walnuts and peaches. I looked up the company, and it was in biz between 1890 and 1910. It’s a chromolith. (sp?). The Currier and Ives lithographs were printed off of one stone, and then hand colored by young ladies. The chromo lithography was one stone for each color. It will be the third fruit still life, for my kitchen.

    I may have also seen a mate for one of my single bookends. I’ll go back, this morning, and see if it’s a match.

    I watching season 2 of “Star Trek, Discovery.” I think season 2 is better than season 1. Lew

  31. Almonds and horse chestnuts are good! I’ve got an Oregon Grape bush that grows about the way your macadamias grow. I grew up with Oregon Grape bushes and they grew fast. The current one is a volunteer and it grows slowly. My guess is that it doesn’t like sandy soil.

    For years some sparrows built nests in and near the old patio awning, now replaced. I never wanted them there after the first year, as the young ones would try to fly and would die upon landing on the brick patio. The ones that nested over grassy areas seemed to have a better survival rate. Being a bird is HARD WORK.

    Oh yes, the damp proofing is wonderful. It wasn’t around when my current home was constructed in 1985, although about half of the basement has thin drywall and some thin veneer panels over the drywall. I have no idea what is behind that, but have never noticed any moisture on the veneer or the floors.

    Like Pam, I’m gonna use “The competent rapidly become burdened…” How true is that!!!

    Mr. Greer stated some months ago that anyone working a “traditional” type job in the current USA culture is a sap. My work environment is so toxic that the days can move slowly. Yet, as you said, the calendar pages seem to fly by.

    I think you hit a lot of the milk issues. And the wastage at the grocery stores has to be large. Milk has got to be a money pit for them.

    My coworker admits that he was extremely lucky. He could’ve been crunched in that ugliness.

    Yes, it has warmed up. We’ve been in the 40s F for a few days. I’ve spent some time on the balcony at the job without a jacket or sweater. The past month really reminds me of the 1976-1977 winter, which Cliff Mass cited as one of the driest and mildest winters even in Spokane. It could easily be cold and dry in between spells of warmer than normal with some snow that quickly turns to rain and melts off. IIRC, winter was very wimpy for Spokane, April 1977 set heat records and there was a drought. I’m not convinced that this is how it will be, but the chance is there.

    Pretty much, if the Atlantic Coast and Upper Midwest (Illinois, Minnesota, Michigan, Ohio, Iowa) are having a BRUTAL winter, ours is mild and even almost early March-like weather mostly.


  32. Hi Lew,

    I am hoping the new Picard series scratches my Trek itch. Discovery rubbed me the wrong way and I never bothered with second season but did hear it was an improvement on the first.

    I did just watch a Korean movie called parasite. Very funny and very dark, keep an eye out if you dont mind subtitles.


  33. Hi Pam,

    In breaking fluffy news: Ollie unfortunately knocked over a glass demijohn of Elderflower wine this morning, and it broke and the contents spilled. I hardly had to tell him off, and he was so scared of my possible reaction that he wet himself. I suspect that the previous folks who had him and fostered him were not very nice to him.

    At least the breakage occurred outside the house. Oh well, what do you do?



  34. Hi Inge,

    Fair enough, and that can happen sometimes when somebody else is all riled up about something or other, and you (meaning any of us who are not riled up) can be entirely oblivious of the storm of emotions which can occasionally result in a letter admonishing us to better behaviour in the future! Alas, in the real world in which we exist, such better behaviour may not in fact be possible. 😉

    Hey, I concur with your opinion, as it is hard to know what goes on behind the metaphorical ‘closed door’. And, whilst people are endlessly fascinating, I display a lack of curiosity about such things. My profession already brings me too close to the realities of a lot of situations, if only because people’s finances inevitably tell a story, and I prefer to retain a sense of detachment and objectivity which can only be fostered by the lack of curiosity. It’s complicated and personal responsibility in such matters is an unevenly spread attribute within society.

    Oh yeah, definitely a wise philosophy in relation to the pheasant. I tend to believe that we survive by consuming other life forms, and you know, we are in that cycle too.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    It is good to hear that no nachos were harmed in your catch-up with Scott. We sure did harm a few nacho’s the other night! Out of curiosity, have either you or Scott been dragooned into serving on the board of your Club again? A truly scary fate, and I see that Mr Greer has some advice for me regarding tactics with small organisations. I’m planning to read that after replying here tonight.

    What a day, I’m feeling rather overly warm, despite the fact that today was not that hot at 70’F. It was just that the sun had bitey authority – a bit like a solar zombie. 🙂 I did my best to keep out of the sun, but still… Installed the chicken wire and steel mesh fencing around the garden terraces project. It’s looking good, and maybe next growing season it will provide an additional 660 lineal feet of growing beds. The water robot is using up a bit of water, but then there’s probably only about 120 growing days left for the season and the water tanks are mostly full. It is funny to think about how fast time goes.

    I’m onto “The Lance” (the spear thrower!!! – nice one), and The Frank’s pilgrimage to visit his old mate to attend to important matters in Avalon was quite a nice touch. I’m really enjoying the story, and it is beautifully told. The Eagle turned up in the mail on Friday morning and I was surprised to discover that it was a hard back edition which looks as though it once served time in a library. Ah, yes, once the book was a literary warrior.

    Yummo! Smoked salmon is a delightfully tasting fish, and I’m salivating imagining your tasty crackers. Happy days. Do you have ice coffees in your part of the world? It is a cold drink served in a tall milk shake glass which has a mix of espresso, milk, drinking chocolate, and a floating chunk of vanilla ice cream (not sure that pumpkin ice cream would work so well in already the heady mix). This afternoon a local garden opened to visitors so we went and poked our noses around the garden in the late afternoon and then stopped past the local general store to pick up the Saturday newspaper and enjoyed an ice coffee. I force myself every week to read the business section.

    The open garden was really nice and the owners had a thing for exotic maples. They also had a small orchard and vegetable beds. Sometimes I’m really unsure that people would enjoy the sheer scale of the garden here if only because it contains so many edible plants. I was fascinated to see that the open garden had what looked to me like a fifteen year old sub-tropical white sapote fruit tree. They’re really rare down this way, and it had some fruit too, although few people would recognise the tree for what it is.

    When we got back I had to do some dreaded housework (who can escape such banal activities?) and then I spent an hour or so fixing items that had broken recently – such as the poor electric jackhammer that was used to break up the heavy clay on the garden terrace project. I felt a sense of obligation to get the machine up and working again because of its dutiful service, and like the Phoenix, it has now arisen from the ashes and prepared to do more work. What a dreadful fate huh? 🙂 Anyway, I blame the espresso in the ice coffee for my fit of work so late in the day…

    Hehe! I was referring to the few when I used the word ‘paucity’. It is not often that I add words to your lexicon given how well-read you are. Well, you raise a complicated question, and all that I can add is that our western diets consist of many plants that were once grown in fertile river flats. Now as someone who lives on the side of a mountain (a whopping great big ex-(hopefully)-volcano) I’ve noticed that it takes a certain amount of plant breeding to adapt the plants which ordinarily grew on fertile river flats to the sort of conditions that I experience. There is a school of thought which suggests that maybe it is our expected diets that maybe wrong… Anyway, the plants are adapting in place to the conditions, but it takes many years of breeding to achieve that, and the yields are naturally lower.

    I must say that I do enjoy your mispronunciation of words so that you ensure that my brain gets into gear. Respect. 🙂 Chromolithography, produces some excellent results, and I spent a while looking through the whys and howtofores as to how the technology worked. An interesting technique. Your kitchen sounds like an industrious, but also aesthetic place to spend some time.

    Did you discover a matching bookend?

    Damo is trash talking season one of Discovery. You’re recommending season two. What to do? I’m basically confused by the differences of opinions here.



  36. Hi DJ,

    Has your Oregon Grape ever produced any fruit? People grow them down this way, but I’ve never really heard of anyone harvesting the berries and producing jam. Dunno why, but then I’m never really surprised that people grow edible plants – and then don’t consume them. I see a lot of old fruit trees in gardens in the big smoke, and the fruit just doesn’t get harvested – although the fruit bats (a marsupial bat) probably enjoy an easy feed. One neighbour (when I lived in the big smoke) had a backyard that was entirely taken over by fig trees. No doubt the trees had broken into the old clay sewer pipes! It is interesting that you write that about the Oregon Grapes, but they are usually grown in clay soils down this way as distinct from your sandy soils. And some of the soils they grow over here look like heavy clay to me.

    Ouch! Some foolish mountain ducks have occasionally decided that the farm would be a good place to raise their ducklings. The story never ended well for the ducks, who promptly lost all of their ducklings to predators and headed off to other pastures. Not good and I hear the ducks call sometimes in the forest and it always leaves me feeling cold.

    Plastic works very well in such uses – and being out of the sun it has an extraordinarily long life span – probably longer than the building itself. Hey, the old damp proof courses I’ve seen appeared to be some sort of bitumen layer, although the exact material was a bit of a mystery. And that was used in the 1890’s.

    I’m always amazed whenever basements are mentioned (a bit like talk of multiple refrigerators and/or freezers), if only because they are just not constructed in dwellings in this part of the world. You never see them, and anytime building walls come into contact with the soil in these parts, inevitably there are serious dramas with moisture transfer. I’m really not sure why there is a difference with the buildings here in that regard.

    Hehe! Yes, only the competent understand the perils…

    Oh my! I have not heard of the term ‘sap’ before, but it is not complimentary at all. Not sure that I’d express such an opinion, if only because it is really hard to distance oneself from the dominant culture. I got about as far away as is practicable, but even so, if you live in the middle of nowhere, Caesar still comes for his dues and you gotta render unto Caesar and all that stuff, so one has to do something to fulfil their obligations otherwise I’ve noted that Caesar has a propensity to take.

    Yeah, time flies. One must recall that existence can be enjoyed, even when toxicity rears its ugly head. 🙂

    Cliff Mass specifically mentioned Spokane which is perhaps a bit of a worry. Ouch! It is perhaps not a good idea to be either a trail blazer or an exception… Not that you have much say in the matter. It’s mild here, but the bushfires up north are knocking on the outer suburbs of Sydney (the capital of the state to the north of this one): NSW bushfires surround Sydney but conditions ease for now .



  37. Chris:

    Thank goodness Ollie was outdoors!

    You aren’t kidding about how fast time goes. You are looking toward the end of your growing season, we are planning ours.


  38. Yo, Chris – Reading over DJ and your shoulder … your wood ducks are really nice looking. Looks like they’re doing, ok. Not endangered, so, they must be doing something, right. We also have a wood duck, that is native, and also builds nests in hollow trees. It’s very colorful. It was a bit endangered, but an effort was made to build nest boxes, and they bounced back.

    Here, on the wet side of the mountains, Oregon Grape is quit prolific in our forests. I’ve never had the jelly, but understand it’s quit tart. I wonder if, as it has holy like leaves, if it’s not quit so popular, as it’s harder to pick. I see the root is used for gastro problems.

    Scott was on the Club board, for about 5 years. He finally stepped down, last year. I neither serve, nor run :-). But I finally sprung for a membership, just so I’d have a vote if push came to shove. Last election, there were a few whack jobs making noises about getting on the board. But, they didn’t even bother to show up for the vote, so… But things could have turned out different.

    It rained like heck, last night. Fairly clear, today, which is probably a good thing for some, as the annual Santa parade is kicking off at 11:am. Civic hoo-hoo, that will tie up traffic for a few hours. :-(. Bah! Humbug!

    I’ll have to pick up “The Lance”, again. Interesting bits about Glastonbury. Iced coffee? Anathema! Oh, it’s done here, but nothing I’ve ever had any truck with. An expresso milkshake?

    Well, you’ve got a lot of edible plants, but they’re laid out in an aesthetically pleasing way. All planed, I’m sure :-). The Sapote tree is very interesting. Tip of the hat to the Aztecs, for bringing it to us. I see it grows in S. California, and can even volunteer in bits of urban waste land. I see it never became too commercial, as it bruises easily, and doesn’t ship well. And that’s what counts, doesn’t it?

    On going maintenance and housework. The cross we all bear :-). Your electric jackhammer reminded me of a bit of the story of “Island of the Lost.” So, the fellows needed a bit of finished lumber, so, their forge turned out a misery whip, made, I think, of copper cladding off the wreck. Then they built a saw pit, and went at it. The only draw back was that the saw had to be resharpened, daily. Needs must.

    The history of printing pictures, is pretty interesting. I pick up bits and pieces, being in the tat biz. There are exotic beasties, such as mezzotints and aquatints. Don’t know if I’d know one, if it bit me. Not something likely to be found at the local op shop. But, you never know …

    We have a match! The bookend, that is. Only cost me $18, and a single sold on E-Bay for $50. Don’t know what a set would be worth. When I was poking around in the bookends section, I noticed that the prices seem to be coming down, a bit. I wonder if that’s because old stuff is out of favor, or if books and reading is out of favor? I really don’t use my bookends to hold up books. I have sheet metal bookends, for that. I display them on the edges of my bookshelves, more as artistic objects. I also discovered that the one single book end that I have left, was not the cabin that Lincoln was born in, but is the farm house that Mark Twain was born in. That will make it easier to find.

    I don’t know what to tell you about Star Trek Discovery. I think the second season was a bit more interesting, as, the secondary characters are getting a lot more depth. More back story. There’s also a mysterious evil force, out there, and frankly, it smacks a bit of The Borg. But we shall see.

    I wonder if the book that’s been “in transit” for over a week, will show up, today, at the library. Everything slows down, due to the holidays. A lot of the folks at the Service Center take vacation, during the holidays. What’s really funny (if you have a warped sense of humor) is that they take two days at Thanksgiving (so the Ladies can shop Black Friday) and two days at Christmas (so the Ladies can shop the after Christmas clearances.)

    The new Zombieland movie, hit the catalog, last night. I’m very low on the hold list. Lew

  39. P.S. – A couple of trailers worth checking out. Both “horror” movies. “Little Joe” (which may be Australian) and “In Fabric.” Ought to both be out on DVD … around next Halloween! 🙂 Lew

  40. Hi Chris,
    Once again I’m barely keeping up here not to mention JMG’s blog. His topic this week is of particular interest to me.
    I got my first credit card unsolicited when I was in college maybe at age 19. It was from a big department store and only had a $300 credit limit. I didn’t abuse it so it actually assisted in establishing some credit which was quite helpful when I was divorced from husband #1 and a single mom. However that practice has grown so much I wonder if there are many students who are getting any benefit.

    Regarding the cost of turkey Pam mentioned – this is referred to as a loss leader. The grocery store will sell a particular seasonal item at a loss but make it up by selling more expensive items supposedly. It doesn’t help the poor independent small farmer raising turkeys though.

    There is a shortage of Christmas trees this year. I don’t think any other cut-your-own operation has closed nearby. This tree farm seems to get more popular each year with many coming all the way out from Chicago for a “country experience”. The owners of the farm along with their help and Doug get much amusement from the city folk in their inappropriate city clothes trying not to get muddy or even just trying to stay warm.

    Our basement is the entire length of our house and houses the furnace, water tank, water heater and water softener along with the washer and dryer. The former owner put up very sturdy wood shelves along an entire wall. Luckily the basement stays dry. If your house isn’t situated on high ground a sump pump is a necessity and if the power goes out and it doesn’t have a battery back up you’re in for quite a mess. We have one but it never goes off but that wasn’t the case at our old place.

    Last night Doug and I made the annual trek to a suburb just outside of Chicago for the December play our granddaughters are in so it made for a long night. Fortunately the weather cooperated. This year was “The Wizard of Oz” and one of the girls was Glenda, the good witch and the other the wicked witch of the west. They are part of a large home school theater group which puts on very professional performances. Doug and I, my aunt, sister and brother-in-law attended last night’s performance and had dinner beforehand with our daughter as she didn’t have any volunteer duties that night and the girls need to be there 2 hours before the play. About 2/3 the way into our dinner she got a call that one of the Anna (who had been not feeling well for the last few days) was sleeping on the floor so we had to hurry back there. We never saw our daughter the rest of the night but when Anna came out for her first appearance there was no sign of illness so we all thought she was doing OK. She had two more substantial appearances (she was the wicked witch and she was wicked) with no sign of anything amiss. However, when the cast came out for the curtain call she was missing. Apparently our daughter had whisked her home as soon as she was done as between appearances she was was so ill that she was sleeping on the floor with a bucket at hand. I have to say she embodied the phrase, “the show must go on”. We all enjoyed the performance immensely as this theater group does an amazing professional job with the kids in this particular play between the ages of 8 and 14. I hear that Anna is a little better today but there are two performances and she’s quite determined to do them.


  41. Hi Pam,

    Poor Ollie and just to add to his misery, Scritchy is tormenting him by sharing his green couch. For such a small dog she appears to have taken up half the couch, and Ollie is squooshed into a corner.

    I hope that you are enjoying your seed catalogues and keeping yourself warm whilst considering the next growing season. Unfortunately, it’s a bit late for planting anything here now. The sun has some sting to it.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    The ducks up here in the mountain – and other parts of the state – are doing pretty well. You don’t have to go far at all to see a couple of ducks with their gaggle of ducklings trailing along behind them. There isn’t really much of an open season on ducks, which is not bad as many years ago they were pushed pretty hard and close to the limit. There was a lot of passionate protest on both sides of the fence in that argument. I tend to believe that populations are best managed locally with someone responsible for the population and with the community ensuring that enforcement of bag limits actually takes place. I’m a bit old fashioned and if people want to hunt, then they’ve got to eat what they’re hunting. The people doing the activity should also be known in the area, and there should be some sort of benefit for the community for the loss that they are incurring due to the hunters. The thing is, once the hunters are gone, the community has to deal with the problems caused by them. I dunno, but it’s complicated and emotions run high all over the shop because people just want what they want.

    Yeah, duck populations respond really well to well maintained wetlands with areas for them to raise their young with only limited predators. And bird boxes just work. The boxes replicate the hollows found in very large and very old trees where branches have randomly dropped off. The old trees are like huge apartment blocks, whereas not much lives on younger trees.

    Oregon grapes – just for your interest – haven’t naturalised and I’ve only seen them growing in large gardens. I quite like the look of them, but I see what you mean about the spikes on the leaves. Speaking of spikey plants, I picked the very first ripe raspberry today. I’m still eating raspberry jam from last year, and the freezer is rapidly filling up with strawberries. We collect enough of them and then make a batch of either strawberry jam or strawberry wine. The jam is mouth watering when slathered on hot bread fresh from the oven. Yum! I didn’t know about the medicinal side of Oregon grape, and treating and/or experiencing gastro is a nightmare.

    Ah, I recall now that you sprung for membership. Very wise. And I have experienced people who can destroy a group with only a few attendances, or they annoy from the sidelines. I’m getting pretty good at stomping such people nowadays (hey, I’ll bet you’ve seen your fair share of group destroyers in your time?) and then subtly moving on from the annoyance. The last time I encountered such mischief which was not addressed within the group, was many years ago and I’ve learned since those days. Of course new and interesting problems can rear their heads and that can be a hassle and catch people unawares.

    Grumble, grumble, grumble with a side dish of Bah Humbug! Like your style. 🙂 Maybe a month or so back the editor and I were stuck in heavy traffic due to the Extinction Rebellion folks. It would be nice if they understood that we just don’t have enough fossil fuels to get to the worst case scenarios, and perhaps they’d best spend their energies worrying about other perhaps more urgent matters that they could actually do something about. Oh well… I’ll chuck in an exasperated sigh to your Bah Humbug! Hehe!

    Yeah, I don’t really know terribly much about Glastonbury. There was a vague reference that the site had been of religious significance with the people who pre-dated the Celts. Do you know much about the site from your reading? It sounds fascinating.

    An ice coffee is just the thing for a hot day. Tomorrow will reach 100’F before a cool change sweeps in again in the early evening – and apparently the rest of the week will be on the cooler side of things. Unfortunately, I won’t be able to access an ice coffee tomorrow. Ah, the indignities.

    I’d like to believe that the orchard and garden here was planned, but that is probably stretching the truth a bit beyond its elastic limit… 🙂 The sapote tree was very interesting and I was pleased to see that it had borne fruit. The fruit is meant to be very tasty. Shipping and keeping are of utmost importance, unless of course you expect fruit and vegetables to taste any good – and retain many of their beneficial compounds. Actually, I really do wonder how fresh greens are transported anywhere. Picking the greens here, I note that it only takes a few hours before they begin to break down.

    I am genuinely impressed at such stories of survival and have added the book to the ‘to read’ list. Who would have thought that co-operation can be such a successful strategy? Alas for hours lost to cleaning, but then I’m reminded of the Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy population that got rid of all the ‘unnecessary’ folks (referring in their case to telephone handset cleaners). And then the advanced population succumbed to a bug that was transmitted via contact with unclean telephone handsets. Colonising A New Planet. Such absurdly funny comedy. Truly bonkers.

    Out of curiosity, have you ever come across old printing presses and sets of typefaces in your travels in the tat biz? I wonder what ever happened to such equipment? I believe the leading two newspapers down here had to consolidate their printing arrangements into a single business a year or so back. Something about not making money.

    Top work with the book end match! The sheet metal bookends are quite good (as long as the sheet steel is up for the weight pressing against it). But I hear you, and have a dinosaur book end which is very small but heavy and has an outer coating of brown leather – as you do when you’re a dinosaur book end. And as to your subject, do they make politicians like that anymore?

    I reckon it’s a good thing that Discovery has made it into a second season given it’s a subscription based story. That will certainly keep everyone involved in the project sharp as, and perhaps somewhat attentive to viewer enjoyment. However, it would make for nervous story writers.

    We traditionally get two days public holiday at Christmas, and of course one was for Christmas day, and the other was for Boxing Day. Now, when I was a kid, older folks used to tell me that Boxing Day was for returning unwanted presents and swapping them for more preferred items. Although I’ve never actually known anyone to do that, and there was a social taboo on providing receipts along with presents, so all up I was very dubious about the claim as to the origins of that day. Marketing folks are trying to get the Black Friday thing going down here too, but unfortunately the name only reminds me of bushfires. Like the 1939 Black Friday which burned just shy of: 5 million acres. So yeah, in my mind it is a concept that is lost in translation.

    Cheers and better get writing!


  43. Hi Margaret,

    Oh no! I’m so naughty as time has gotten away from me and there is much writing for tomorrow’s blog that still needs to be done. So yeah, it ain’t just you and I am likewise struggling to keep up with everything. I promise to reply tomorrow where you’ll see the fruits of my labour. I’ve worked solidly for the past four days, and everything takes so much longer than I’d previously expected. Oh well…



  44. @ Margaret:

    Ah – the turkey was a loss leader. Thanks.

    Our basement also goes the length of the house and we are, thankfully, built on a slope so that there has never been a hint of damp. What a blessing it is to have that extra indoor space. We, however, do not have a garage; now there is a dream.

    It is clear that Anna comes from your stock. What a game trooper that poor girl is. I hope that she is very much better today.


  45. Yo, Chris – Oh, yeah. I’ve read a lot about Glastonbury. They’ve discovered that it was an island, at one time. When England finally shrugged off it’s last ice age sheet, the land had been depressed by the weight. So, it “sprang back” … slowly, very slowly. The occasional earthquake that England has, is due more to that, than fault lines. I suppose, with sea level rise, Glastonbury will become an island, again.

    There are all sorts of legends, involving the early Christians and Glastonbury. That Joseph of Aramathia (sp?), who lent Jesus his tomb, was actually Jesus’s uncle. And made his money in trading. And, made trips to Britain for the tin. And, took his nephew along, on occasion. Later, after the cruxifiction, and all, he returned to Britain, and, that’s how the Grail got there. There’s a spring that runs red (blood of Christ) and an ancient tree, that supposedly sprung from a staff that Joseph rammed in the ground. Ah, legends.

    Speaking of legends, I’m a ways into “The Spear.” My, those chapters are long! But then, Wyatt is building a whole new world … Gaul.

    I’ve only seen old printing presses in museums. But I have had a few small copper plates, that were used for small pictures or advertisements. No type. I think most of them bit the dust in the scrap drives of WWII. I do see quit a few “printer’s trays.” Shallow wooden trays, about 2’x3′ with lots of little compartments, for the lead type. People hang them on the walls to display all manner of small items.

    According to what I’ve read, Black Friday Sales are fading a bit, over here. Another retail trend that peaked and is dying. Mostly due to so many pre-sales and post sales. Also, people find they can get just as good a “deal,” or better, on-line.

    In our last Magic Food Box, there was a pumpkin bar mix. From a not too bad company. So, I made it up, yesterday. A bag for filling, a bag for graham crust. Just add butter (lots), water and two eggs. Well, it was sweet and spicy, and that’s about all I can say about it. I tried a piece with plane yogurt, on top, and another with some cranberry jam. Much better dressed up and taken out for a walk. I gave a couple of slices to Eleanor. See what she has to say, tonight.

    I finally got the book on the company that made the rooster headed canister. It was made in the 1950s and 60s. And, oh, dear. It came in five sizes. Somehow or another, I have no desire to “collect the whole set.” Thankfully. Lew

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