Just a gent

Ollie the Australian cuddle dog here. I’m technically an Australian cattle dog, but I just like cuddles more than cattle. Cattle are boring and they never do anything fun. Some folks train my brothers and sisters to hunt feral pigs and rogue cattle, but that all sounds like a lot of hard work to me. Cuddles are much nicer. And my boss human – Chris, normally puts me to bed each night on the green couch.

The green couch is a nice place. Before turning up unexpectedly to the farm, I was kept in small cages. I hate cages. And there was never enough to eat. The farm is much nicer, and the green couch is warm and safe.

Chris is my favourite human ever, because every night just before bedtime I get what is known as a ‘double fluff scritchy’. This bedtime ritual involves a head scratch and a chest scratch, thus the ‘double fluff’. And all the while Chris sings me a rather silly song about me being the best cattle dog ever. Silly song, but I rather like hearing it. Anyway, of course I’m the best cattle dog ever, everyone who is anyone knows that.

Last week my world was turned on its head. Two new puppies turned up at the farm. I didn’t ask for them, and anyway they’re sheep dog. Cattle are bigger than sheep, so I must be the superior dog. Maybe?

At first, the two new puppies did my head in, but I soon began their training. They might be not more than ten weeks old, but I say that if they feel confident enough to annoy me on the green couch, then they’re ready to be trained. So I have taken them under my guiding paw, so to speak.

I wasn’t always a farm dog. The first six months of my life I went from one foster home to another, and nobody ever sang songs to me at bedtime whilst I fell asleep on a green couch. Nope, that didn’t happen. And when I turned up on a farm, I had no idea about what a farm dog was meant to do. All I knew was humans yelling at me, and cages, always cages.

When I arrived at the farm, Sir Scruffy was a bit taken aback by my size. Even at only six months I was biggerer than Sir Scruffy who was the biggest dog. And the other smaller dogs (Scritchy and Toothy) had no idea what to make of me. They used to tease me by calling me a Shetland Pony, whatever that is. They used to be really mean to me, but we’re all good mates now.

However when I first arrived at the farm, my new friends didn’t much like me, they were scared of me. Can you believe that? After a few days Sir Scruffy canined-up, and took me aside to have a little chat. Well, first he tried to jump and bite my throat just to show me who the boss really was. I liked Sir Scruffy and agreed that he was the boss dog.

That was when Sir Scruffy told me the story about how he came to be a top notch farm dog. He learned everything he needed to know about being a farm dog from Sir Poopy. I so wanted to be exactly like Sir Scruffy, and so I listened intently to all that he had to say on the subject of farm dogness. From that day on, Sir Scruffy drilled me on important subjects such as how to deal with seven foot kangaroos and feral herds of deer. Practice runs were done on the unrelenting wallabies and rabbits. Then there was much detailed discussion as to which wombats did the best poos for snacks and should the poos be left for a few days to ferment. Sir Scruffy showed me the boundaries of the farm and ensured that I did not venture beyond those boundaries.

Sir Scruffy was a good teacher and friend, and since he died I miss him dreadfully – every single day. But the cycle of life goes on and now there are two new pups. I tell ya, the two newbies annoyed the daylights out of me.

But then I had the realisation that despite being only two years old, I’m the elder boss dog and I had to begin training the two new pups. I wonder if Sir Scruffy felt that way when confronted by me? Of course, I was a delightful puppy and never up to any mischief like these two new sheep dogs.

Right girls! Bones are the local currency and you better get used to trading them

I’m handing on the lessons that Sir Scruffy taught me, plus a few things I worked out on my own. As the superior dog, I know the best poos to scavenge, and I’m teaching the newbies what’s what. They’re fast learners, but have wide streak of naughtiness that they’ll have to lose if they want to be proper farm dogs.

Over here! This is a choice poo. Now take notes

My favourite lesson is: Let’s pretend that a wallaby has snuck past the neutral zone and entered the property.

Attention girls! Run, let’s chase the wallaby back into the neutral zone

Other times I just get them to run and pretend that we are chasing a fox. Foxes are sneaky, and the sooner the two of them canine-up and accept the challenge of what it takes to be a top notch farm dog, the better for me. Then I’ll be able to slack off a bit and have a nice afternoon sleep on the green couch.

Foxes and rabbits girls! Get to it!

Unfortunately all that running around tires me out. But at least the two new pups are even more tired than I am!

So much running around can’t be good for us.

Despite the new pups being only sheep dogs, I have high hopes for them.

Thanks for that update Ollie, and you’re doing a great job mate.

Earlier in the week I climbed up onto the roof and reconfigured the last of the wiring for the solar power system upgrade. The house solar panels were wired for a 24V battery, and I rewired the junction boxes so that every second solar panel is wired in such a way that those solar panels can now charge a 48V battery. Whilst I was up on the roof I looked over to the new garden terrace project and I was please with what I saw.

Some of the sheds and the new garden terrace project as seen from the roof of the house

The shady orchard and chicken enclosure (which is obscured in the photo by a large pear tree) were looking pretty good from up there too:

The top half of the shady orchard as seen from the roof of the house

Very observant readers will note that the left hand side of the new terrace project remains unfinished. In fact if they look really hard at the above photo, the observant readers might just notice a huge pile of firewood in that unfinished area. There are plans for this area and in order to accomplish the plans, we had to cut, split and move all of the firewood there.

After two days of work the mess of firewood was cut, split and moved
And ended up stacked neatly here. If I look toasty hot in the photo it is because I was

Another cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of composted woody mulch was placed onto the downhill side of the path that I’m standing on in the above photo. And into the composted woody mulch we planted a huge number of Salvia (Sage family) flowering plants.

A huge number of Salvia (Sage family) flowering plants were planted today

We’ve begun planting raspberry plants into the corn enclosure. The intention is that the entire enclosure will be planted out with raspberry plants, and from next growing season the corn will be planted elsewhere.

Raspberry plants have been planted into the corn enclosure

We also planted a number of African daisies (Gazanias) into a relatively new garden bed. The plants are extraordinarily hardy and colourful.

African Daisies (Gazanias) were planted in a relatively new garden bed

At the other end of the new garden terrace project we intend to plant a small orchard. A few months ago a Lemon Eureka was planted there in order to test the conditions, and today we moved two other citrus trees into that small orchard.

Two citrus trees were moved into a new small orchard at the far end of the new garden terrace project

One necessary trait for vegetable gardening is that of ruthlessness. Sometimes you just have to read the climate, know what has to be done before the next season and remove otherwise productive plants. We did just that and removed many garden beds of their summer greens, and then sowed winter green seeds. Of course the chickens have feasted upon the summer greens removed from the garden beds.

Many of the vegetable beds were cleared and had winter green seeds sown

The three asparagus beds also needed a bit of tidying up as they slow down now as the farm edges ever closer to winter. I tie the spears up so that they don’t fall over and break in the occasional bit of wind. The plant uses the energy captured by the spears and so the plant is weakened when they do break.

The asparagus spears are tied up so that they don’t break in the wind

On a very sunny cool day earlier in the week, I tested the wiring of the upgraded solar power system. Testing involved turning a lot of electrical appliances on and seeing just how much electricity the solar panels were generating. Turns out they generated as much electricity as they were rated for (5.24Amps x 15 pairs of 24V panels wired to 72V = 5.659kW). Not bad, especially given some of the solar panels are now a decade old.

The recent upgrade to the solar power system is confirmed as a success

The tomato harvest has moved from glacial pace into a slow trickle:

The first of hopefully many tomatoes

Almonds are just beginning to ripen. Fresh almonds taste far better than purchased almonds. Almonds are actually a variety of peach, and you know the kernel is ready to harvest when the furry green skin begins to crack open and reveal the nut within.

Almonds are just beginning to ripen

The Quince tree that fell over, or more likely was pulled over by a wallaby has surprisingly produced some fruit. The fruit still needs a bit of time to ripen properly (they’re ripe when the skin is fully yellow). The tree will be seriously pruned and then moved to the new small orchard when it goes deciduous in a few months time.

Quinces are ripening on this tree which has fallen over (or more likely been pulled over by a wallaby)

Quinces are one of my favourite fruits, although they are best eaten after being stewed. I once saw a confused looking bloke at the Queen Victoria Market biting into a Quince. Not good.

Medlars are an old school fruit that you rarely see these days. The trees are hardy and it is rare for birds to attack the fruit. Like persimmons, the fruit has to mildly ferment before it is edible, and we use to make a thick jam or a fine country wine. The jam has the consistency of vegemite, but fortunately not the taste (although having grown up eating vegemite, I quite like it on toast).

Medlars are an old school fruit which you don’t see much these days

The olives have a long way to go before being ready to pick, but they’re looking good.

Olives are slowly ripening

Onto the flowers:

The rose terrace has bloomed this week
Some of the roses are growing very fast, and many of them were picked for their scent
Nasturtiums are going from strength to strength this season
Salvia’s come in all colours

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 19’C (66’F). So far this year there has been 173.6mm (6.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 164.6mm (6.5 inches).

77 thoughts on “Just a gent”

  1. Ollie,

    It is so very good of you to take the puppies under your wing, so to speak, and train them to be good farm dogs. Even if they ARE just sheep dogs. When Rakhi the Samoyed was introduced to a friend’s puppy, she had no idea what to do and did the Forbidden Thing: she climbed onto the outdoor picnic table. Being an understanding human, I rubbed her chest and had the friend take the puppy away. So good on you for being a good training farm dog.

    Teaching the boundaries, and when to chase and who to chase and what is the Best Poo Ever are important things, also, as is remembering your past and how good the farm is Chris seems like a great human for his dogs, and it is good that you let him know that sometimes.


    Back to our conversation, since interrupted by my weekend hiatus…I lived downwind of Mount St. Helens when that eruption occurred in 1980. We got a lot of volcanic ash and things were closed for nearly a week. Every wind storm for a few years kicked up volcanic ash. I shudder to think about what happens with a major, huge, giant volcanic eruption.

    The entire thing with my dad was surreal. And yes, before I forget, I agree with you: a door closes and at least a window opens. And death IS a reminder to cherish the life we’ve got and live. Anyhow, the Princess was with her family on the Reservation. A cousin was dying. Meanwhile, my dad was rushed from an Alzheimer’s facility to the doctor by my sister, then to hospital. Blood oxygen issues. It was clear to me by the time he was released that the end was near.

    That night, or really the next morning about 4:00 a.m. I awoke to hear (at least in my head) Native chanting and drumming. So I hummed/chanted along with it and fell back asleep. My sister called with the news about dad mid morning. I called the Princess, who was driving to the local hospital on the Rez in a group of cars because her cousin woke up and wanted to live and the hospital could fix him. Oh, and things were so dire that the family had called in the traditional drummers, who were drumming and singing and chanting at 4:00 a.m. Yes, a bit surreal, but these things tend to happen to me. I also figured that an old life was traded for a younger life, even though the 2 had never met.

    I’m getting a lot of laughs at the job with Douglas Adams stuff right now. Describing myself to the new staff members as “mostly harmless” gets strange looks and nervous laughs, but the idea that whoever made that idiotic decision will be the first up against the wall, etc., usually gets them to understand not to take me seriously. But the newbies absolutely are clueless how to take it when I start quoting Monty Python’s “Holy Grail”. They look worried when I walk around like I’m mimicking riding a horse and keep asking everyone for coconut shells…

    Getting used to the new numbers is no laughing matter at all. I totally get it. New numbers mean as much as a computer password consisting of the last 8 digits of pi.

    Those are wonderful photos of Ollie and the pups. They play together, they train together, they nap together. I’m glad that’s working out for them and you. Don’t be surprised in a few years if the cuddle hound and the sheep dogs herd in some farm animals to join the farm…

    The new terrace looks good. The plant growth from the roof looks great. The rain is helping out. And more firewood ready for the sheds next year!

    Salvias are cool. And thanks for the reminder that I’ve got to get some beds ready this year to move some raspberries into. Your work today inspires me to do something similar 6 months from now…

    There’s a quince hedge in the back of my yard. I’ll have to try stewing them. I took a bite out of one once and it made a lemon seem sweet!

    Your roses are looking good and the nasturtiums look incredible. Our mild winter has one of the heather plants blooming already. Which means that the major storm that hit Lew came through here today. Mixed rain and snow and high winds swirling from every which direction and even some thunder.


  2. Hi Al,

    Aren’t Lister engines an elegant technology from an earlier time. I’ve seen a few in the flesh over the years, and I quite like the sound of them due to the low RPM.

    Respect to Yanmar too. Down here there is a company that purchases old Yanmar tractors from overseas and then reconditions them for resale. They’re not much to look at, but I have this odd feeling that the tractors will keep going long after others have bitten the dust.

    Which reminds me that I better get a 48V battery charger. Even with an extra 8 panels to be added to the system soon – and in prime winter position no less – sometimes winter can be a bit touch and go, and you never know.



  3. Hi Chris and Ollie,

    The farm is looking amazing! I love the flowers and I’m glad to see Ollie has some younger blood to keep him on his toes.

    I have been super busy myself the past month since the weather broke with renovating my herb garden, inspired by the coronavirus (for extra incentive my son also just started preschool which normally means 4 months of snot even in a good year).

  4. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you are OK mate.

    Well, HRH is from a long and distinguished line of fluffies, and they all know their business when it comes to cheering up their humans. 🙂 Glad to read that Eleanor’s recovery is speeding along.

    But sorry to hear about your mates dog and please extend my condolences to them.

    Ollie has been hard at work all day with the new pups, and now he rightfully demands chunks of my home made pizza. It is almost 10pm here, but I’m eating late tonight, well not much later than usual, still it is late and was due to an epic project I worked on today. My head is spinning a little bit.

    Cooked or uncooked brains? Now you have me wondering whether the author included a scene where the zombies were toasting brains in an inferno and decided they preferred cooked brains?

    Events are speeding up in Camulod and Lance has taken Connlyn’s castle. He had able assistance from someone who he was formerly kind too. The assistance was necessary, as is often the case during such actions, and I’m wondering if the assistance will be rewarded? Dunno. Under a 100 pages now to go, and I reckon I’ll feel gutted when I get to the last page. I am very much enjoying the story. The view of Hadrian’s wall from the northern side was quite picturesque.

    And we were speaking recently about stories getting lost or changed in only a brief period of time. Anyway, there has been an interesting discovery in South Australia: First clachan outside of Ireland and Britain found under a field near Kapunda in South Australia. Hardly that long ago, but already forgotten in the mists of time.

    I had a chance to listen to Mr Kunstler’s fine podcast this morning. The interviewee spelled out a delightful worldview, and I’d certainly like to see it eventuate. I tend to believe that society is a function of energy per capita, and there are many ways that that particular story can travel. I’ve lived in a Victorian era suburb and it was a physically beautiful place to live with tree lined streets, small houses, and long established shady parks. And everywhere was within walking distance of amenities and public transport (rail and tram). I used to walk to work in the CBD from there, although it was a bit over an hours walk each way. Dunno, if I had to grade our efforts at suburbia I’d give them an F- with the note to the parents: “Could do better”.

    Yeah, I thought that there might have been some fast forwarding of time in the story. A lot can happen in 100 pages. 🙂 But probably not. Mordred seems OK, so far.

    Exactly, I call being slightly behind the curve: The Loop Hole Lifestyle. Most of my solar power system is considered old tech, but it is locally manufactured, and very robust. Far out, the stuff can operate at ambient temperatures up to 55’C / 131’F without de-rating and estimates of life span extends to several decades. That’s local knowledge, but it doesn’t come with flash displays and data loggers and I guess people get a bit funny if the device can’t talk to their smart phone…

    It’s raining here which is nice after a warm day. How good do the roses look?



  5. Hi Hazel,

    Many thanks for the correction. 🙂 Did you happen to read Pam’s interpretation of the saying (which I have to admit is an excellent saying).

    Hope you are getting some rain for your garden?



  6. Hi DJ,

    The pups needed a firm paw, and Scritchy and Toothy are not on their best game. I like the pups, and I read that you have known fluffies before. Respect for knowing the one true path of the fluffy. Rakhi the Samoyed sounds much like Sir Poopy, who Sir Scruffy talked about at length. If Rakhi the Samoyed were here, I would share the choicest wombat poos and we would romp around the farm on boundary patrol. All marsupials would be ejected into the Neutral Zone. What fun we would have.

    The farm is good, and I appreciate the green couch. The pups are not allowed on the green couch – and this is good.

    Woof! Woof!


  7. Hi DJ,

    Weekend hiatus’s are good things, and I struggle replying and writing the next blog on Sunday’s. It is awful to be a mere human, but one must but do their best!

    Did you ever notice the point in time when there was no longer volcanic ash being blown about the place? I’m still finding red dust from the recent rain/red dust storm. And it took several weeks for the stuff to settle in the water tanks. I’m pretty certain that you may have consumed plenty of volcanic ash in the aftermath of the Mount St Helen’s eruption? I have certainly consumed plenty of red dust of late as it is on everything.

    I too shudder to think what would happen to the climate during a major volcanic eruption. The bushfires have thrown a huge amount of particulates into the atmosphere. It is raining right now.

    Thanks for sharing the story, and I hear you, as there are always eddies and currents going on just outside of our awareness. In the past I’ve dreamed about recently deceased folks who I knew, and it can sometimes be with distraught feelings, and other times there is a sense of calm. But usually it is an extraordinarily vivid experience. I’ve always had this unshakeable feeling that there is only such much energy on the planet with which to maintain life, and as a species we sort of get only so much on that front despite our actions.

    I just had to separate out the pups as they had been having a brawl for over an hour, and I had had enough. They’re now off to bed.

    Douglas Adam’s left us with some great material, and good materials needs an airing every now and then, plus they make us all look good. I can well believe that your newbies may never have encountered his body of work. For all you know, they’ve never read a Dilbert cartoon either. It is definitely possible. But Monty Python, mate it would do them up a treat alright. Perhaps you need the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch? Brother Maynard!

    For me the numbers are more felt than known. You might laugh, but when I first set the solar power system up, I had to begin manually recording the major daily statistics – because otherwise I would have had no idea at all what was going on. How other people can talk big about this stuff is a question that is beyond my ken. Are you cheekily suggesting that you actually know the first 8 digits of pi? I feel that we may have entered into an alternative universe which looks very much like a Carl Sagan book on the subject! 🙂

    The new pups are doing pretty well especially given how young they are. Ollie has been nothing but a gentleman with them – and the stuff in the photos is going on all of the time with the three. Mind you, he wisely avoided their brawl.

    Thanks, the roof photo is what I call: Manual Drone Cam. I should really get that trademarked or copyrighted or something legal like that. Yeah, I was a bit taken aback by how much firewood there was there. It was a heck of a job in the hot sun for two days, and last night my head was pounding from the heat – despite having run my head under a cold water tap and having kept my fluids up during the day. It was just hot.

    I thoroughly recommend stewed quinces, and they are one of my favourite late autumn fruit treats. Remember to follow an established recipe and chuck in some spices just for good measure. Plus Quince makes for a nice country wine and a truly amazing jam – which is probably closer to a thick jelly. You guys call your jams by the technical term of jelly, but to my jelly is a wobbly product made from gelatin. You’d probably call my jams by the technical term of conserve. Quinces are not good fruit fresh off the tree, but the bloke at the market was doing his very best to not pull a face whilst continuing to eat the fruit. But I knew the truth of it. I see a quince tree in the big smoke that is laden with fruit and I do wonder if the owners know what they are looking at.

    Do you get thunderstorms? I was under the impression that they were rare in your part of the world. They are very common here – especially at this time of year when the high pressure and low pressure systems collide. Did you get much rain in the storm?



  8. Hi Tam,

    Thank you and Ollie is enjoying the two new pups. And you’re spot on too, they are keeping him tired and on his toes when he’s awake. Plum has become his little mate, whilst Ruby is a bit more aloof and mischievous.

    Four months of snot almost sounds like an old curse! Hehe! Funny stuff and thanks for the mental image. Hope he is doing well in pre-school and enjoying his time there.

    I grow heaps of herbs here, and they’re really handy to have access too. Hope you grow some Feverfew? And I’m quite fond of Spearmint if I feel a bit acidic in the guts – which is very rare, but the leaves work rapidly.



  9. @ DJ – The youngsters are unaware of Douglas Adams and Monty Python? The kids ain’t culturally literate! Lew

  10. Yo, Chris – Ollie should write for the Canine Times. He’s developing quit a style. Get a column, have it syndicated, roll in dough … or, beef jerky strips. The photos really catch that Ollie is mentoring and teaching. Not just mucking about. Wonder if he has a lesson plan? I see the pups are working on their Vulcan Mind/Bum meld. Past down through the canine generations, from First Contact. That is the sweetest picture, with one’s paw, thrown over the other. Cuddles, indeed.

    Those are quit some aerial views, of the farm. Every time you catch the deep dark woods, in one of your photos, it gives me a bit of a shiver. What beasts and spirits, lurk there? That is a lot of firewood. Will keep you toasty, through many a winter night.

    Down the rabbit hole, I went. You mentioned that almonds are related to peaches. And, peach pits contain cyanide. So do almonds. But, a different variety. The bitter kind. Of course, 200 apple seeds, will kill you, too. Hmmm. I wonder if you ground them up and baked them in a biscuit ….

    Quinces, medlars and olives. Just one exotic fruit after another. The roses are worthy of Portland, Oregon. Which is, The City of Roses. Cont.

  11. Hello Chris
    Great photos. How large will those puppies become? I know nothing about the breed.
    Still raining here and the wind was so strong today that it was hard to stand up in it. I am longing to get out and do some work but it is quite hopeless at present. Actually I did get 10 minutes being useful outside yesterday and then the rain came down on me.


  12. Cont. Well, besides HRH perking Eleanor up, it’s as if her vast extended family have finally discovered they have a grandma, or great grandma. She didn’t say too much, but, in the past dropped a few comments that she felt a bit neglected. Unlike me, family is important to Eleanor. When she did get a visit, they were generally rushing off to somewhere else. I hope they keep it up. I think there was also a slight adjustment to her meds, when she was in hospital. That helped, too.

    Lance taking Connlyn’s castle. My, seems like there’s always a convenient tunnel around, when Lance needs one. 🙂 .

    That was an interesting article on the discovery of the clachan. Although getting all Celtic and not just calling it a farm village, smacks a bit of click bait. Well, I see your clachan and raise you … what? 65,000 year old Australian tucker. Don’t know if you’d seen any of these articles, yet.


    Might give you an idea for a culinary adventure, or two.

    I suppose you got an e-mail from Joel, that “Into the Ruins” will cease publication. They’ll be an announcement in the last issue. Which is on it’s way. Give it a few years, and see what a complete run goes for, on Amazon. 🙂 I posted a few things over on Mr. Greer’s blog, in the past few days. About our neoclassical local library.

    We had high wind here, for about three hours, yesterday. One gust hit 32mph. I guess a fellow was killed by a falling tree, up in Kent, which is outside of Seattle. He was sleeping on his couch, in a six plex, when the tree came down. Several freeways were temporarily closed, due to the wind and falling limbs. I once made a drive through a storm like that, and branches the size of christmas trees were coming down on the freeway. Otherwise, looks like we’re in for a run of fairly nice weather.

    I’m watching a series, called “Rosswell, New Mexico.” Home of the infamous, Area 51. They walk among us! It’s about 3 aliens who have passed for human, since childhood. They were in pods, for 50 years. It’s a bit of a soap opera. And, I find the over abundance of hip and with it music, distracting. But, someone must like it. I see it’s just been renewed for a third season. And I just keep watching … Lew

  13. Chris,

    Two years after the ashfall, a windstorm brought a bunch of ash back into the air. Following some good snows the ash in the air diminished quickly in Spokane, so by spring 1983, perhaps, it was much improved. We had lighter, finer ash, maybe 6mm, whereas the Ritzville and Moses Lake areas 90 to 150 km west of here had up to 15cm of coarser and heavier stuff. When I met a fellow Las Cruces grad schooler in Ellensburg (300km west) in 1988, we drove eastward to the Columbia River. That coarser ash was already under several inches of more normal dust, as evidenced from the visible soil layers a few meters off of the highway.

    While I’m sure some ash was ingested, breathing it in was unavoidable. We had to wrap rags or toilet paper around automobile air filters as a prefilter. Otherwise the air filters clogged within hours.

    Yes, there seems to be only so much energy for maintaining life on earth. Hence pandemics and famines and whatever frequently occur among many species.

    A few years ago, I awoke about 3:30 a.m. as I’d “heard” someone screaming for help in my head. Got to work and the receptionist was absent. She didn’t answer her phone, which was out of character. We dispatched a friend of hers to check on her, to find that she had died of super low blood sugar from an insulin/heart medication imbalance about…3:30 a.m.

    Pups brawl then they sleep and after they wake up they act like nothing happened.

    I’ve literally had to grab some of my old Dilbert cartoons and show them to the youngsters. After a few months of working there, they want more, so they can prepare themselves for the next set of management goofs. I once was singing near the receptionists a little song I made up along the lines of “Every boss’s hair gets pointy” and “they won’t get the point of the song”. My boss walked by from behind me and overheard it. He was NOT amused. So I asked if he’d closely examined his hair in the mirror lately. I’m reserving the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch for one of the next technician meetings the boss has with us when he mentions that I have no support tech because he’s reassigning them.

    Believe it or not, I used to know the first 15 digits of pi! Now I prefer to memorize (and keep the memory fresh) of more important things like poems and songs. Now the LAST 8 digits, that is what everyone wants to know. And remember, I’m a physics and numbers guy, so am wired to be able to deal with the numbers that most folks have trouble digesting. Ask me to remember the name of the person I was introduced to 5 minutes ago, and I’ll likely have a blank look and will be unable to remember.

    Manual Drone Cam should be trademarked. And I know full well what happens when stacking wood on those hot days in full sun. No amount of staying liquidated and cool can keep that dreaded heat headache away. Have you ever tried soaking your shirt in water and keeping it wet? That’s always helped me somewhat.

    Yup, I’ll find a quince recipe that sounds good.

    We get thunderstorms normally from late March until late June for the peak season, and then a few in July and early August. Some of them are really food light shows, too. Last year was normal for that, but for several prior years there was nothing after the middle of June. February is early, although we did have some thunder during a January snowstorm this year. That is rare.


  14. Lew,

    Unfortunately, you are correct. Most of the youngsters know not a whit of Monty Python. Many have heard of Douglas Adams due to the Disneyfied Hitchhiker’s Guide movie some years back. Sadly, one of the receptionists, age about 50, has heard of neither Monty Python nor Douglas Adams. I am trying to fix her cultural shortcomings!


  15. Chris,

    Oh, the rain/snow. We got maybe 7mm. Originally it was supposed to be twice that, at least, but the storm was a fast mover so we didn’t get much. Back to dry again, and warmer than normal within a few days.


  16. Hi Chris,

    Sorry that the last comment was so short – I was just about to barrel out the door to an appointment! Yeah, I saw Pam’s saying, and it’s a good one. I think they used it in WW2 during all the rationing, and it is still a very good way to live.

    The new puppies are lovely, but I bet they keep you and Ollie on your toes! We had a collie when I was a kid, and he needed at least 3 hours of walks every day to keep him out of mischief.

    We did receive some rain! Over a couple of days we had over 100mm of wet stuff from the sky (what’s with that? The sky is leaking!🤪) Anyway, that was about the same amount that we got in the previous 6 months. And now there is green grass and happy plants.

    As always, your place looks amazing. In years to come, it’ll be renowned as the 21st century equivalent of those old estates on the fashionable end of the mountain range, and people will pay to visit! And crusty old Chris will sit there, saying “Ah, when I were a lad…” (Had to get in a Month Python quote.😊)

    I will admit that the numbers involved in the wiring of the solar stuff are beyond me, though my Dad would have understood them. It’s probably just as well that my solar panels feed into the grid, because I can’t see me doing the upkeep required for your system. I’d probably burn the house down, or electrocute myself! In fact, it made me think of Bistromathics, from “Restaurant at the End of the Universe”, which still makes me laugh. You wouldn’t believe that I studied maths to first year university, would you?

    Anyway, my regards to all at Fernglade.



  17. Hi Inge,

    You’re not the only one wondering about how big the pups will eventually get. The answer is that I’m not really sure, although I feel that Plum will become a bigger dog than Ruby, who will be the slightly smaller of the two. Wikipedia gives the eventual height for an Australian Kelpie female at: 43–48 cm (16.9 inches – 18.9 inches). Not really a large dog, but I was looking for mid-sized dogs to replace the sadly missed Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy. Ollie is way too big to be able to properly tackle the rabbits, but he can easily deal to the deer.

    Not good about the wind, and it is worse than anything I’ve yet encountered. Stay safe. Sounds like cabin fever to me.



  18. Hi Hazel,

    No problems at all! I hadn’t realised the origins of Pam’s saying, but the ‘do without’ bit really resonated with me. It is not as hard as it appears to be to do without.

    The pups are a bit of a drain, but when they get too feisty I kick the trio of them outside and then Ollie begins training and supervising. We’ve been taking turns running the pups out of energy, although to be honest they do seem to have rather a lot of the stuff. Anyway, Ollie is more tired than I am tonight due to the young pups, and at the moment he is sound asleep on the green couch.

    Glad to read that you finally received some decent rain. Hehe! Thanks for the image of a leaky sky. It is amazing how rapidly the land greens up again after such decent rain. And we both got very lucky this season. Believe it or not, I might have to mow the place again. This year I reckon the trees will grow because of the conditions of heat and water.

    Hehe! Yeah, they might wheel me out to sit at the front entrance and welcome guests to the farm, and I’ll sit around ensuring that the guests have correct change. 🙂 Ah, the gentle art of reminiscing is another way to teach folks. However, I might not let visitors up onto the roof of the house just so they can marvel at the view…

    Who can forget that skit? Good stuff.

    Well, let me tell you of the time when a visitor got to see black smoke emanating from the battery room because I neglected one minor bit of maintenance with the batteries (I had no idea that it was a problem, but I learn as I go with this stuff and there is nobody around to tell you about the finer details). Therefore the upshot is that you’d be in good company if you had burned the place down! Fortunately there was no serious damage.

    Bistromathics are beyond my understanding, but a truly worthy field of endeavour! I’ve seen such giddy math in action when an unexpected hiking group descends on the local cafe and overwhelms the resources. And what is with ordering a take away coffee in a disposable cup and then proceeding to sit inside the cafe and consume the beverage? Alas, if only I could understand the dark arts of Bistromathics, such problems would be clarified for me.

    It rained here today, about 5mm. But when the sun shone through the murky clouds it was very hot.



  19. Hi DJ,

    Ah, I was wondering about that aspect of your volcanic ash, so I appreciate you recounting your experience with the stuff. The red dust and bushfire smoke particulates over the past few months and weeks were exactly like that too. Hmm, there was a song long ago down under about the dark side of asbestos mining. One of the lines in the song was: “In the end the rain comes down. Washes clean, the streets of a blue sky town” I’ve often wondered whether eventually the worst of the pollution that our species creates will eventually disperse and return to the background of the environment. Even the very worst radioactive waste has only so many years in it, and the life of this planet is very long indeed. You might think it is a long way to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts compared to deep time! 😉 Apologies for the dodgy Hitchhikers pun…

    Yeah, I had come to the conclusion that the smoke and red dust was an unavoidable side effect of the weather this year, and like you huge volcanoes, nature does want to step in and display her might when we overdo things.

    As far as I can understand the ecological perspective, sooner or later something will consume the minerals and energy that we as a species represent. I mean the dinosaurs roamed the earth for eons, and they left us with the birds of today. An impressive feat mind you, but it is no Tyrannosaurus Rex. Mind you, I’m not sure that I’d want to encounter a Tyrannosaurus Rex bearing down on my location. A very unpleasant experience to be sure, and I doubt we’d be friends.

    People are trained from a young age not to trust their gut feelings and intuitions, but all those feelings have to be coming from somewhere. I tend to listen to what those areas have to say, and then try to make heads or tails of the story.

    Ollie is sound asleep on the green couch behind me. I looked after the pups for a few hours this morning, as Ollie did this afternoon, and mate I’m feeling my age tonight. Hehe! Oh well. In between that I had to work, and work hard too. The pups on the other hand reside in the moment but appear calmer for having been run and run hard. They are enjoying investigating the garden beds, and the other day I saw Plum deliberately rolly-pollying through a garden bed.

    Hehe! Yup, Dilbert shows us how it is, and also the way forward. I’m sure I did previously mention to you my motivations for working primarily with small business? I would not work well in your organisation. It would be like chucking a Tasmanian Devil (of Warner Brothers cartoon fame) into the mix and shaking everything and everyone up – yeah not good. Remember to keep your eyes on the prize, but you already know my thoughts on that matter.

    Well done you, and I expected no less, which is why I mentioned it. The last 8 digits indeed! Please spare me, I have heard of bottomless pits that heroes climb into and yet can’t climb out from again. Hehe! Good luck, your mission should you choose to accept it is… I believe that you are too smart to fall for such a ruse.

    Spare me a thought for a moment. I have to recall a huge number of peoples names, and their kids, and their pets. My brain was not so naturally wired, but somehow over the years I learned to consider stories, and now I recall peoples stories. An old dog can indeed learn new tricks. 😉

    Exactly, my head was bouncing in time to a regular beat after the two days in the hot sun moving firewood. Rehydration solution helped, but getting out of the sun seemed to help more. What do they say about mad dogs and Englishmen? I might try that with the wet top and see how it goes, but the best course of action is sticking to the shade.

    Ah, the thunderstorms occur at about the same time as here, if the planet suddenly spun upside down. Yeah, they’re not usually a winter spectacle, but you are having a warmer this year.

    5mm of rain here today, but it fell in between strong hot sunlight, and the plants are growing. The roses in particular are enjoying the conditions.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    I reached Chapter XIII of The Eagle this evening. Events are proceeding at a fast pace. For the characters in the story it is akin to a game of whack a mole, in that one problem is dealt to, then another arises out of the blue. I feel their pain, because that is how it goes here.

    Unfortunately Ollie has just then suggested to me that he would take payment in the form of Beef jerky strips as you so kindly suggested. As his agent, I keep reminding him that mad cash pays the bills, but these artists, I tell you what….

    Ollie is educating the pups, and it is amazing to watch. Tonight though the pups have worn both me and Ollie out, and the canine contingent is sound asleep. The photos are just what goes on around here all of the time, and I’d like to suggest that I could train all of the canines to so pose for a photo, but no, that’s all on them.

    Seriously, I blame DJ. No, I won’t hear of any support for him and his errant ways. He’s got me watching and listening to: The Danish National Symphony Orchestra, doing superb renditions of Clint Eastwood movie themes. Stunning music and beautifully performed.

    The woods are full of mystery, and in the darkest depths you’ll find the murkiest of stories. A person could enter the woods and never be seen again.

    With tens of thousands of trees, there is no shortage of firewood here. It is hard work though, and there are times I almost lose my cool when folks who have no idea where their winter heat comes from, and yet they feel happy berating me for using firewood. Unfortunately I hear that story from people. I wish it were not so, but it is. I do thank the trees for their contribution to my heating, and then give them a good feeding.

    I read somewhere that all peach seeds are edible, but like everything moderation is not a bad idea. And I had no idea that it took 200 apple seeds. That is a lot for one meal. Interestingly, the almonds grown here have no bitter taste at all. Didn’t you link to a website long ago which suggested that apple cores were not a bad idea to consume for people who had problems with their internal gut flora and fauna? The thinking was that the apple core was full of such critters.

    My collector bent is known to you, and it has surprising side benefits of mysterious and exotic fruits. Few people would know what to do with a quince nowadays, but when stewed they really are sublime tasting.

    Didn’t know that about Portland being the City of Roses? A mate gifted us a bag of organic fertiliser and just before the recent bout of rain, I spread the bag underneath the roses. And they have grown. The editor assures me that there are even more flowers on the roses tonight. I accidentally left the gate to the rose enclosure open on Sunday (I blame a cooked head from working in the summer heat). Fortunately the wallabies did not notice my error.

    The pups just did a smash and grab on my boots just then and scampered off with one before I could stop them. I retrieved the boot, but in telling off the pups, Ruby was too fast for me, and she managed to swipe her tongue over my mouth. Had to wash my mouth and then rinse with mouth wash as it was very necessary. Yuk!

    Nice. Yeah, what did the song say about: Don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone? Family is unimportant to me too, and dunno about you, but anyone who thinks otherwise hasn’t met my lot. I can see people going in for the sheer challenge of dealing with my lot with their high ideals (or ordeals as the case may be), and then reality kicks them in the guts. Glad to read that Eleanor is receiving visitors.

    Lewis, I blushed with such talk. 😉 If that wasn’t a naughty double entendre, well let’s just say that it fits the bill for the character, although I note that Lance is also Just a Gent most of the time. Anyway, for one moment there I thought I was watching an old Carry On film… When I was a kid you used to hear people say: “In like Flynn”, but I have no idea what they were talking about.

    It was a good bit of click bait, but you have to admit that it is impressive at how rapidly a small farm village can fade from local memory? Thanks for the article and I have the utmost respect for any person that can know plants that deeply. I read long ago that our ancestors had to be aware of the uses of something like 120 different plants, but most likely it was probably far higher. To be honest it is not that much different than being given a box of Medlar fruit, and then knowing what to do with them. I do wonder why people believe that us folks today are somehow smarter than our ancestors? We’re just not that different.

    Mate, I’ve been procrastinating reading that email. Now seems like as good a time as any. And thanks for the heads up and I’ll check out your comments. You have a sharp mind, and the comments on Mr Greer’s blog are always worth the time.

    It is an odd thought, but I would know how to make the most of a tree or large branch that has fallen. But you know, I don’t believe that many people in the big smoke would know what to do if they encountered such a situation. Hope the wind dies down a bit. I’m socked in thick fog tonight, and there was about 1/5th of an inch of rain today – in between strong and hot sunshine. The trees and plants are loving the conditions.

    Have the characters in the show ever made wise cracks about Space Lizards? Some folks believe some strange stuff.



  21. @ Lew
    I have seen nothing about Eric Tucker, thanks for bringing his work to my notice. Son and I were discussing the insane art world the other day, with reference to Damien Hirst and Tracie Emin. Son said ‘Did I ever tell you about the time that I was thrown out of an art gallery?’ No. He said that there was something that looked like a small doll lying on a pedestal; he reckoned that it was the centre piece of the exhibition. Something that he thought would make you feel proud if your 6 year old made it at school. Anyhow, he picked it up and started to dance it around on the pedestal so he was thrown out. I said ‘ You mean requested to leave’. He said ‘Yes, but not politely’.


  22. Hi Ollie,
    Salve here. I am way jealous that you have puppies to teach and romp with. I, however, would be teaching them the fine points of hunting and eating rodents a task at which I am highly skilled. Leo would teach them how to tear a wood pile down to get to rodents but fail to catch them. He would be very jealous of the green couch as we are not allowed on furniture. He is very determined and sneaky. Margaret had to get a battery operated mat that gives off static shocks to keep him off one of the couches. Bones are a wonderful thing though after we clean them up ours are supposed to remain inside as Doug has hit too many with the mower.

    Your friend,

  23. Hi Chris,
    Loved all the pics. The view from the roof gives me a much better picture of your place.

    DJ’s comment about wearing a wet t-shirt in the heat reminded me how we used to drape cold wet towels around our necks when putting up hay. The 2nd cutting of hay usually came in during the heat of July. We’d get a year’s worth from a neighbor who gave us a good price if we paid in cash and right off the hay wagon. The wagon was too tall to pull into our barn so I would throw the bales down to Doug and he’d carry them into the barn for stacking. Long pants and sleeves were in order to keep from getting too scratched up. All in all quite a unpleasant job but at least it was usually once a year. One year though our back field was in hay and a different neighbor baled it. Turned out it wasn’t quite dry something we should have realized from the weight when we stacked it. When I went out to do the morning chores (Doug had already left for work) the hay was steaming so I had to take it all down and drag the bales outside as wet hay is very combustible. I managed to get it done and still get to work on time. Needless to say we were always careful to check the bales before stacking.

    A few days ago the forecast was up to 12 inches of snow and wind between last night and tomorrow afternoon. The forecast kept being revised down and it turns out we’re getting nothing except wind.


  24. @DJ
    That is quite unfortunate about the lack of knowledge of your co-workers. I’m sure you’ll be rectifying that. My generation has done a good job in that area as our kids are well versed especially in regards to Monty Python. In fact one of my nieces recently posted a picture of her newborn son dressed in red plaid with the caption, “I’m a lumberjack and I’m OK. I cry all night and I sleep all day.”


  25. @ Inge – Yup. The art world is all pretense and hype. Full of self anointed “experts” and little tin gods. I laughed out loud over your son’s story about the art gallery. I hope I still furnish him with humorous entertainment, from time to time.

    I to, was almost once pitched out of an art museum. I forget all the details (I think a favorite gallery was closed … again), but I always end the story with. “Security was called … ” And, it was. But, I managed to calm down enough, that I was not denied entrance. But, I was shadowed by a guard, the remainder of my visit. I suppose they get all types. Lew

  26. Hi Chris,

    Very cute photos of the dogs, I can almost believe Ollie and the pups are good, well-behaved individuals!

    Phone vs DSLR
    Mrs Damo is going through all the Japan photos at the moment. The phone photos make up the vast majority, and in many cases look pretty good. But for anything tricky, the DSLR wins. Especially if you want some soft light and a close up of a flower – or perhaps a night portrait with lots of neon signs in the background. Often, I would enjoy playing with the exposure/shutter/aperture settings to try and get a better photo, but Mrs Damo, standing in the cold next to me, for some reason expressed negative comments and I would be unceremoniously moved along.

    New BOOK Alert!!! A random internet article (funny how so many ‘random’ internet articles seem to appear in front of me that match my previously expressed interests) informed me that the great Hilary Mantel has released the final book in her Cromwell/King Henry trilogy. I love me a bit of historical fiction, and I found Wolf Hall and Bringing Up The Bodies to be sublime (The BBC adaption was pretty swish as well). In fact, I loved them so much I went and read an earlier novel, A Place of Greater Safety, which covered the first few years of the French Revolution. It was great and led me to a 100 hour podcast on the same revolution – the rabbit holes we end up on! Also, pro tip, don’t be a key figure in a revolutionary movement – most ended up on the chopping block a few years later during the counter or counter-counter-revolution!

    You and Lew might also be interested in a new show, For All Mankind. In an alternative universe, the Soviets make it to the moon first. The story follows NASA trying to catch up, and the social change that results. Women astronauts, new presidents and a vietnam peace treaty drive the new space race. Nearly finished the first season, but it was produced by Apple TV – so don’t know if it will follow Amazons policy of streaming only? Anyway, it is great stuff. Part Apollo 13/First Man/NASA drama and part alternate history/maybe even Star Trek prequel.

    On a related note, I wonder at the money that goes into all these shows. Most of them look fantastic and must cost an absolute fortune. Is this another bubble? Are the powers that be subsidising them to keep us entertained with bread and circuses? I remember growing up, there might be one “top shelf” TV show/mini-series once or twice a year. Now I can barely keep up with the names of half of them, let alone watch them 🙂


  27. Yo, Chris – Ollie should listen to his agent. Beef strip jerky addiction can be expensive. As is the rehab. And the media will catch wind, and splash his woes, all over the internet.

    The Danish National Symphony? Really? I’d suggest you should, perhaps, question the wisdom of your friends. But will withhold judgement, until I check it out, myself 🙂 .

    Yes, your woods remind me of tales from the Brothers Grimm. (Why is it never the Grimm, brothers?) Weird pagan rites, in the dark of the moon, near your stone circle. Today’s ear worm is … “Teddybears Picnic.”

    I hope you responded to anyone giving you grief over your firewood with a rude gesture. Here, even when they slap a burn ban on, due to air quality, people who’s only source of heat is wood, are exempt.

    Just out of curiosity, I checked my “Joy of Cooking” to see if it had anything to say about medlars and paw paws. Very short sections, as to what to do with them. According to “Joy”, medlars don’t do well in northern climes, as the frost gets them, before they are ready to harvest. The note on paw paw, said they were “an acquired” taste. I should check more of my old cookbooks, to see if there’s anything else.

    Oh, yes. Portland is known as “The Rose City.” I guess the climate and soil is ideal. There’s even a municipal rose test garden, to develop new varieties. It’s up in the west hills, so the view from their is spectacular. Since nineteen, oh, something or other, there’s a week long spasm of civic ho-ho called The Rose Festival. Fleets from world wide take a weeks liberty and there are parades, galore.

    With the pups, no shoe is safe. Uneasy lay the shoes of the king?

    I think you’re suffering a bit from the heat. No entendre (double or otherwise) intended. As we used to say, back in the day, “Freud would have a field day” (in your mind.) I don’t know if it’s true or not, but Freud has been purported to have said, “Sometimes a cigar, is just a cigar.” 🙂 .

    We have several places, around our county, that are now just a spot in the road with a name attached. But, once upon a time, not all that long ago, they were happinin’ places. Some quit extensive, with schools and post offices and stores of different kinds. Now, they’re just wide spots in the road. I think I mentioned that some people collect post cards, with cancellation marks of places that no longer exist.

    No space lizard jokes, that I can remember, from “Roswell, New Mexico.” Quit a few alien probe jokes. Hmmm. Maybe it’s time to watch Simon Pegg’s “Paul”, again? I talked to a fellow at the Club, the other day, and he went to Roswell for a day. And, ended up spending four days. His final conclusion was that, yes, a spaceship crashed there in 1947. I’m still not convinced, but try and keep an open mind. Lew

  28. Chris,

    Any Hitchhikers joke is welcome. Always. Bad puns, also.

    I think most likely that all of our waste and pollution, etc., does eventually get sorted out by earth and nature. Although some things, as you mentioned, might take an extraordinary amount of time. But earth is patient, and there will be other life forms after a lot of the current ones disappear. As far as life goes, humans, all in all, are just another brick in the wall. One of my misbegotten misquotes for the day. 😉

    I joke with one of the youngsters at work about my age. Occasionally when she talks about newer things about which I’m less than clueless, I offer her “another pterodactyl claw” along with a Polaroid photo of me playing Pong with my pet T-Rex. “I DO know what Polaroid is!” she says. She is one of the youngsters who know Dilbert and Douglas Adams and a tiny bit of Monty Python.

    Ain’t it the truth? We’re so overly educated from day one to ignore our gut feelings that intuition and imagination tend to disappear. I mentioned on the bus this morning that few people have much imagination any longer. My 32 year old friend on the bus said, “There’s an APP for that.”
    Me: We don’t need no education.
    Him: There’s an APP for that.
    Me: We don’t need no thought control.
    Him: There’s an APP for that too.
    Okay, more misbegotten quotes. 😉

    Young and active dogs are exhausting. When Thordog was 2 and 3 and 4, he liked to romp and run around the yard and play tug of war with a rope. He weighed more than half of what I did, and I tells ya, that was a workout! I should’ve put a harness on him, lashed him to the car, put in in neutral and let him run around the block that way.

    I Tasmanian Devil (with fair bits of humor to soften it) my way through some of the extra bad BS in the office. We seem to have a wary truce at the moment. I’ve been told I’ve mellowed with age, although I tend to look at it more of having better tools for dealing with nonsense and stress.

    Oh, no, I’m NOT going down that rabbit hole, rope or no rope! Finding the last 8 digits of Pi is as understandable as Bistromathics. And with all of my math background, Bistromathics is a total mystery, right up there with one of the sciences, the Mystery of Chem. Nice try, though.

    When moving my sister into an apartment, it was very tight quarters getting into the door with a sofa. Her boyfriend, whom she later married, and I got the sofa stuck in the door. Having just read “Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency”, I suggested that rather than trying to get the sofa IN, we should try to get it OUT, in which case it will go in. He gave me a strange look, but we tried it and it worked. When we removed the sofa 2 years later, we got it stuck, tried to move it back IN and OUT it went. Basic Sofamathics.

    Stories I can remember. Names, not so much. Faces, sometimes.

    You’re spot on. Staying in the shade rather than working in the full sun on a scorching day is best.

    I’m glad the roses got some rain to go with the heat. Prime conditions.


  29. Hi Margaret, (and to Salve from Ollie), Damo, Lewis and DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. However tis the mid-week hiatus when all through the dork, not an alien stirred, not even a mork. 🙂 Anyway the up-shot is that aliens may have abducted me today, although they promise to return me more or less intact – and hopefully unprobed – tomorrow. The whole alien probe thing sounds a bit dodgy to me. Until then!



  30. Hi Lewis,

    Just before Ollie loses his septum in his nose due to over indulgence in Beef Jerky strips, I might just try and get him on a program. 🙂 Surely there is a program for such things? And yes, the expense of Ollie’s indulgences is sending me to the poor house, and you’re right, who knows what the media will make of it all? I can see the headlines now as the story breaks: “You dirty dog” or “Ollie’s in the dog house”. Thanks for the laughs.

    Mate, I went into the big smoke today to pick up aluminium and steel so that I can begin constructing the frames to hold all of the new freebie solar panels. It is a big job, and unloading the bright yellow trailer took over an hour and a half of unpacking and then hauling the steel down into the paddock.

    Early on I was considering driving the Dirt Rat Suzuki down into the paddock and unloading the steel there, but then after all of the recent rain and lush plant growth, the ground feels a bit too soft for my liking. Getting down there would be fine. Getting back up again despite four wheel drive and low range, might be a bit tricky. So I went old school and just walked all the stuff down there. Me tired.

    Hehe! The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly was a great rendition. It was interesting to see how the orchestra recreated the sounds of the original theme song.

    The Brothers Grimm were quite the entertainers back in the day from what I understand – and that was part of how they obtained many of their stories.

    Rather than flipping people the bird (I got into trouble with the police for doing just that as a young bloke, and oh boy were they angry or what). I just sort of scratch my head and wonder what the folks are on about with their hating on firewood. It doesn’t seem to be my place to change their way of thinking. However, that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t annoy me though, I just tend to pick and choose what arguments I want to get into.

    Ah, that might explain why the medlars are rarely seen. I sort of understand that about the acquired taste bit with the medlars. Quince jam is far nicer than Medlar jam just for one example. I have four of your American mountain paw paw’s growing here which I raised from seed – the seed was very hard to track down. But, I have never tasted an American paw paw fruit – we tend to see the tropical variety which certainly won’t grow here. The Medlars really do have to mildly ferment before they are palatable, I think it is described as bletting.

    Hehe! Like the saying about shoes and the King. Good stuff.

    I have no doubts that Freud was correct in his assertion, and I have heard that saying attributed to him too. My head was mildly aching from working hard in the heat.

    That’s the case in the closest hamlet to my place. Town would be a big call, which is why I used the word hamlet, but apparently at one time there was a Post Office, and there is an old and now abandoned Primary School – which was restored a few years back under some grant program. I am absolutely unsure what the building is used for nowadays.

    I’m not convinced about the Alien spacecraft crash story either. You would think that our technology would be better – or different from that point onwards, and I just don’t see it. The other thing I scratch my head about is that if aliens could travel between star systems, then why would they then be stupid enough to crash in Roswell? It sounds a bit like ‘Arthur’s grave’ tourism stories, but I could be wrong. Still, makes for a good story.



  31. Hi, Chris!

    Ollie, you are doing the best teaching job ever! And I’ll bet you could do it even if you weren’t a biggerer dog.

    I should think that you were indeed pleased with what you saw from the roof! I was pleased just seeing a photograph. Fernglade Farm is something to dream of.

    It looks like you now have three farm assistants who stick to you like glue. Is Mr. Toothy minding that they are always in the way? Ha – I have some salvia seeds started in the house, though I have very little doubt that they will sprout readily outside. I find it hard to hold back on planting this time of year, especially as it has been very mild lately. We’ve even been having rain. Double ha – I also just planted African Daisy seeds inside.

    I have bought seeds for a cherry tomato we haven’t tried before – Red Currant. It is so sad about your tomatoes this year.

    I need to start a new asparagus bed. Our old one has giant biggerest pots with mulberry trees in them. Question to son: “Did these 2-ton things have to be set over the asparagus bed?”
    Do you think spring is an okay time to plant asparagus crowns? I have remembered that they should be male plants.

    That is an excellent amount have solar generation.

    Just look at those roses! Amazing, after they had been attacked.

    Nasturtiums! Salvias! I have pruned the roses, hopefully I will have nasturtiums and salvias, too.

    How neat about the clachan. I didn’t know what one was till I read the article.


  32. @ Margaret:

    What a shame that Salve and Ollie can’t get together – they are both literary geniuses. We’ll let Leo come, just to add laughs.


  33. @ Lew
    Son doesn’t have any access to the internet but I pass on things that I think will interest or amuse him or both of course. He says that he has been chucked out of many places. The pet shop is one that might not go down well here!


  34. Yo, Chris – No, you don’t want to get the Dirt Rat, stuck down in the paddock. That would be an aggravation you don’t need. You could always leave it and call it yard art. Paddock art? Plant the back with flowers, etc..

    The elementary school, just down the hill from us, was rendered surplus, just this last year. They built a new one. The old one was built about 1920, and the architecture is interesting. Kind of a Spanish / Moorish theme. Oh, joy! No more traffic jams on Market Street, twice a day. The city was going to use it for … something. But I notice it has a for sale sign, on it.

    I heard an interesting segment on the radio, yesterday. Maybe “college for all” isn’t such a smart move, and there’s this interesting concept called an apprentice program :-). So far, mostly in the skilled trades. But, spreading. It’s making a comeback, as, business, right now, is having problems filling those spots.

    After weeks of my hold list, at the library, not doing much, I now have a landslide of “stuff” coming at me. I suspended all my other holds, til I have a chance to dig out. It’s going to take a bit of tricky management. I may not pick up a few things, today, as it will sit on the hold shelf for 12 days. So, I can get a week’s wiggle room.

    I see the library found someone to lend me the prequel to the Camolud series. So, it’s winging it’s way to me, from … somewhere. Always interesting to see where the interlibrary loans come from. Luckily, it won’t show up for a week or two.

    Off to the Club to gas with Scott. Lew

  35. Hi Chris,

    Now that I have returned from visiting my mom I have been able to read this and the previous post, thus making the acquaintance of Plum and Ruby and observing their interactions with Ollie. Glad to meet the girls and glad that Ollie is taking them … well … not under his wing, but more like under his belly? May the girls prove out as chicken protectors!


  36. Dear Salve,

    Woof, woof and greetings brother from Down Under. I have heard of your exploits and can only marvel at your panache. You set the standards for proper doggie behaviour, and I can but only learn from your fine example.

    A thoughtful point my friend, and I hope to progress their training in the rodent direction shortly. I would never dare act as brazenly as Leo, although I have also heard good accounts of his behaviour. Surely, you warned Leo not to dismantle the firewood pile? And surely Leo was only trying to help? Ah, of course word in the doggie press is that Leo has a selective hearing disorder, which may explain the unfortunate turn of events.

    When I was first here, I was jealous of Toothy also sleeping on the green couch, and I chewed a chunk of one of the pillows. As a more mature gentleman of the finest breeding, I would never dare do such a thing, but there was that once. I love the green couch and feel your pain.

    Ah ha! Salve, you must tell Doug that you are assisting with improving the soil by adding bone material. No? I’m sure that it is only a minor misunderstanding. Maybe?

    Woof! Woof!

    Your mate in fur.


  37. Ollie! Get away from the keyboard…

    Hi Margaret,

    The farm has been so lucky to have received the recent rains, and I’ve even moved several fruit trees and planted a few oak trees. In a normal summer there is no way that I could possibly do those tasks as the trees would die. The view from up on the roof was quite amazing to me too – and I climbed down again to retrieve the camera. It puts a lot of the projects in that area into some perspective. For your curiosity, the largest trees in the orchard-roof photo are now about 20ft high. They look smaller in the photo!

    Oh yeah, that is a massive fire risk with hay that is too wet (I’ve seen piles of grass cuttings ignite). Interestingly though, you don’t want the hay too dry either, as a local farmer once told me a few years ago that a little bit of moisture in the bales allowed the hay to mildly ferment which made it more easily digestible. It is a great lesson to learn.

    It sure sounds like a dirty job that needed doing.

    Stay warm as I’m vicariously feeling the wind chill. It was a nice summers day here today. Cool and sunny. We did a heap of planning and work on the power system upgrade.



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Well there is the fear of an epic public failure situation if the Dirt Rat Suzuki was bogged in the paddock. For the record, I have never bogged a Suzuki, but then there is always the first time. And also I don’t go out of my way to push the envelope with vehicles like some thrill seekers might. My life is exciting enough without adding err, extra unnecessary excitement. It seems like something of a bad idea to reach for that sort of goal.

    Oh, the public failure bit, well that would arise because I’d have to ask a neighbour to assist with extracting the stricken ship (if it was so bogged in the paddock), and yeah there might be rather frank and public assessments of the Dirt Rat. And also the choices I made be called into question and would possibly not reflect so well on my good self.

    Fortunately, I have yet to be bogged whilst walking down into the paddock! So walking and carrying the steel was the way to go. An hour and a bit later the job was done.

    Speaking of paddocks, the editor and I were in the paddock today getting our heads around how to do the solar power system upgrade down there in the paddock with the most important ‘winter oriented solar panels’ are, when a dark shadow momentarily blocked the sun. I looked up into the sky and saw a huge wedge tail eagle circling the hapless Ruby (who was busy chewing on a bone). Ollie was oblivious and in the paddock with us and the eagle was very low to the ground – and getting lower.

    That was a close one, and I remarked to the editor that after seeing a couple of humans running around yelling at the eagle, it would clear off. The editor questioned my critical thinking skills – and rightly so too! The eagle disappeared off for a little while and then to my utter chagrin, came straight back again. I chucked the pups inside for a while and then went back to the business at hand.

    Plans were made. Tomorrow is action day when plans begin to get implemented. The job won’t be completed until another a week at least. It’s an audacious plan. 😉

    As to your suggestion to ‘Plant the back with flowers’ you reminded me that a few years back, my neighbour planted flowering plants in an old toilet bowl in their garden. Dunno about that because I see the toilet bowl – although it is a nice looking toilet bowl. And despite it all, I’m still yet to get some proper gnomes in the fern gully. It could become a thing, and I ask you: dare I go there?

    Down here they call that style of building: Spanish mission style. It’s not bad, and the buildings are usually very solidly built. It is not that common though. It is a bit of a shame that the building is being (or has been) sold off because so long as it was maintained, I’d expect it to have a long lifespan. And I hear you about living too close to schools. Been there and done that and the traffic twice per day used to drive me bonkers. Anyway, kids can only be driven to school whilst the resources and energy are there do so. When I was a kid I was expected to make my own way to school, in whatever fashion and I just had to manage my own time. I’ve used most modes to achieve that task (other than being driven): Train; Tram; Bus; Walking; and riding a push bike. People feel differently these days though, but it is also possible that my circumstances were not so good relatively speaking. But I never noticed and valued my independence.

    Mate, I’ve been to Uni and also have a post graduate (as does the editor) – and I tell everyone I can, that from my perspective there appears to be very little return on investment from spending the time and incurring the student debt from doing that activity. It is not a good idea and an apprenticeship is a good alternative path.

    Be careful of an avalanche of stuff from the library, and I do hope that you don’t get buried under the barrage! 🙂 Did you get any choice stuff?



  39. @ Inge – LOL. I got curious about the phrase, “I’ve been thrown out of better places/joints/bars/restaurants/hotels, than this.” It’s been floating around, since 1909.

    It first was heard in a Hungarian play, “Lilion.” Which was translated and run on Broadway. Later adapted as the musical, “Carousel.”

    That and a buck will get me a cup of coffee. 🙂 Lew

  40. Yo, Chris – That was a narrow escape, with Ruby. Something you just don’t think of, it happens so infrequently. Well, once they get some size on them, it won’t be such a worry. Dogs just don’t seem to “get” humans pointing. I’d see, maybe, a rabbit in Beau’s yard, and be going through all kinds of antics to get his attention, and all I’d get was his “what are you going on about?” look.

    Mission style has more simple lines. Spanish / Moorish is more like the Alhambra, in Spain. More ornament and pattern.

    You caught the tail end of “free range kids.” As did I. Given our personalities, I think even if we had come up, later, we still would have “staked out our own patch.”

    I got the film “Midway”, from the library. Quit good. Woody Harrelson was in it. He does have range. Last week, he’s dodging zombies. This week he’s playing Admiral Nimetz.

    I also got (finally!), Chuck Palahniuk’s new book. “Consider This: Moments in my Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different.” It’s really a writing “how to.” With lots of interesting stories, along the way. I may have to buy a copy. Similar to King’s “On Writing.”

    I saw an article about another rare, threatened Godwana rainforest tree, that you have down there. The nightcap oak. The one remaining grove, made it through the last round of brushfires. Lew

  41. Hi Chris
    The Lister products fine examples of Uk high quality machinery. The quiet slow running is especially important in a gen set. I will Probably get pricing just for info. Vancouver BC is closest distribution to us.

    there is a refurbished tractor business which deals in Yanmar and others located in Alabama. The pictures looked like new old stock ,nice paint and cosmetics. I would probably buy a used tractor from a reputable source especially a diesel.
    Three point hitch and PTO Accessories available are probably priced at some what reasonable levels. ( if I needed one😁)

    What kind of ampacity or power level will be required for winter back up battery charging on the completed system?
    I appreciate technical details. You folk definitely have educated your selves well in solar technology

    Last weekend my household was attacked by the flu demon.
    My wife and I both had timely enhanced Flu shots. She came down first and I followed a couple of days later. We both are taking Tamaflu antiviral pills which so far seem to be working along with , the immunity offered by the shots,I hope. We are both feeling much better. I hate the flu!
    Cheers Al

  42. Hello again
    It is still raining here and another storm is supposed to arrive at the week-end. This is becoming quite ridiculous.


  43. Hi Damo,

    The mid-week hiatus has now been called to a close! And a fine thing that is too. 🙂

    Worked really late this evening on getting the solar power system upgrade swimming along nicely. But as always there was lots of digging… Always more digging. Oh well, practice makes perfect they tell me.

    The pups are mostly well behaved, and it goes without saying that Ollie is impeccably well behaved. That dog would take a bullet for me.

    Thanks for the comparison of the two cameras and you have confirmed my suspicions. I’ve discovered that the phone camera takes a little while to become focused and it is nowhere near as good as DSLR. Not to be too controversial, but Mrs Damo is in fact correct and sometimes with cameras you have to point and shoot and get on with it. 35mm was a completely different story but I have noticed that in those days the images were more likely than not to turn out.

    What an epic series, and yeah there is something to be said about a well written piece of historical fiction. Wow. I’m feeling a bit sad this evening as I finished the sixth book of the Camulod series over lunch. What an ending. Unfortunately I have to dive into a non-fiction work on seed starting for my next reading endeavours. And the book shelves are groaning under the weight of un read books!

    Thanks again for the series recommendation but I haven’t even managed to watch the first episode of – dare I mention it? – Picard. 🙂 How can I be expected to form a coherent opinion of the series without even diving into the story?

    The money is an interesting story, and there are some rumours floating around alleging that such behemoths don’t pay taxes in their countries of revenue earning. I can’t confirm or deny such stories but if they’re true – and I’m not suggesting that they are – then if so, they would enjoy what looks like a subsidy.



  44. Hi DJ,

    Nice one with the Pink Floyd reference and pun. 🙂 Such a good song. I couldn’t agree with you more, the Earth’s ages are a mystery unto itself, and we’re just all along for the ride – and we haven’t managed to score a pass which exempts us from the fate of our own stupidity. Mind you, some folks reckon us humans are going the way of the dinosaurs, but I tend to differ in that perspective. We’re a pesky species and real generalist survivors, otherwise we’d never have been able to extend as far across the planet from our origins as we have.

    Good for her, and to be honest when I was very young I actually wanted – but never got my hands on – a Pong machine. It is funny to consider how basic people’s expectations and desires were back in the day. Watch out that your pet T-Rex doesn’t take your arm off! Although losing your head would be far worse. 😉 Had to laugh about the Polaroid mention, but as far as I’m aware the devices are still in production although not by the original businesses. Interestingly enough the devices have a bit of cult like status attached to them. Who’d have thunk it?

    You’re on fire! 🙂 Good stuff, and neatly tied back too. Lot’s of people seem to be impressed with Apps, so I guess there must be something in there, but my smart phone has an app for a clock, and the stupid thing can’t even deliver an alarm on time. It’s often four minutes late – but not all of the time. How rubbish is that? So yeah, I’m not much impressed with apps. Incidentally the app that forced me to get a smart phone in the first place has plans to record biometric data in order to confirm my identity. Yes, what could possibly go wrong with that? And I’m pretty sure this is the same guvmint that can’t seem to get around to handling something as simple as plastic waste.

    Thordog would have been most upset with a harness! But your point is well taken. Ollie and the two pups have been running around the farm like crazy all day long. This evening, Plum has snuggled up to Ollie and the two of them are sound asleep on the green couch. I’m pretty certain that the editor and I worked far harder than those three dogs today, but that comes across as a bit peevish so we won’t talk about that. We spent most of the afternoon getting the steel framing ready to take the new-old solar panels. The project keeps getting biggerer and biggerer.

    Don’t you reckon that is one of the main benefits of ageing? If your mind is open to the challenge, you can install better tools for handling difficult situations. Work is work as far as I’m concerned, and it seems to be naturally aligned to stress these days, and that does not surprise me at all. It wasn’t always thus and as a very young lad I saw the tail end of things before they went downhill. And yeah, we all mellow with age. I used to be more feisty when I was a young bloke.

    You can’t blame me for bringing up the subject. I doubt the pi problem is solvable.

    Another Douglas Adam’s great story!

    Stories stick in my head, and they’re my basic go to for memory. Dunno about you, but I recall memories best when I can recount the story attached to it. And incidentally, I have to recall an enormous number of names, but I find myself these days explaining situations to people in the form of a story (whatever form that takes). The blog is excellent training for that art too!!! Oh well, but dunno about you, but I know faces when I encounter people, but I have zero visual memory – it is an almost complete blank in there and I could not describe what individual people look like. I’ve heard that some people can recall detailed scenes at will, but nope – nothing at all on that front. However, I can do some very complicated projects and tasks without having to commit them to paper, but generally I can’t visualise them despite knowing exactly how they should look at completion. How does that compare to your memory? I’d imagine that there is a cost to having superb visual recall.

    The roses are going gang busters. The colours are amazing, and they’re loving the weather conditions. Might go and see the state rose garden in the next few weeks. The best ideas are sometimes other peoples!!!



  45. Woof! Woof! Ollie here,

    Nice to hear from you Pam, and I respect you perspicacity as I too believe that I am doing a great teaching job on those two new young guns. They think that they’re the ants-pants, but no, that’s me. Anyway, they let down team Fluffy earlier this evening because one or both of them took a wee in the house. Such ill manners… Plum is now under my sleepy guidance on the green couch. Yawn! I’m falling asleep – those two wear me out. Greetings to you and yours.

    Woof and cordial tail wags!


  46. Hi Pam,

    Thanks, and the weather has been particularly nice (cool and wet) since late January. Of course before late January, the weather was a total nightmare (hot and dry). I really appreciate hearing that because I really try to work so that the place is pleasing to the eye. I find such a state more pleasant than the opposite.

    The trio (Ollie, Plum and Ruby) are having an absolute ball. They ran around all day long today, and are now all sound asleep. Mr Toothy’s health has taken a turn over the past month or so, and suddenly he’s an old dog, thus the need for the two pups for Ollie. Mr Toothy now has a thin pillow under his sheep skin rug that he sleeps on – otherwise he gets very sore.

    They’re an interesting plant the Salvia’s and they do die back a bit over winter, but then come spring, they spring out of the ground again. Super tough plants – and the flowers are really pretty. Go the African daisies – now those plants do spread along the ground. Such an amazing range of flowers too.

    I’ll be interested to hear how your new variety of cherry tomato grows this summer. And thanks, it is not good, but I’ll certainly have enough tomatoes in order to save seed for the next growing season and some for fresh eating. But no preserving this year.

    Had a peek today to see how the corn is growing and kernel set looked good, but it is still a few weeks away from being ready to eat.

    Oh no! That’s probably not going to do the asparagus any favours. Removal of the pots seems like the best course of action. Good luck!

    I would give it a go planting out new asparagus crowns in early spring. Usually when they are available, they’re ready to plant. The plants are usually producing spears in about November for me, so you want to really have them in the ground soon-ish. But then it depends on the weather you’re enjoying. If it is wet and cool then it probably isn’t much of a drama. But I’d probably let them get established for a year or so before you start picking spears.

    The solar power system is OK. We worked on steel stands today to get the new-old panels installed.

    Take that rose munching wallabies! The colours are amazing to see.

    Nasturtiums are really good plants and I find that lot sets down an enormous number of edible seeds – some people use them as a replacement for capers.

    Yeah, who knew that the village was even there?



  47. Hi Claire,

    It is really lovely to be able to observe the interactions of the three dogs. The second day here, they were already running around investigating the farm. It is a bit like canine paradise!

    Hehe! Actually literally has taken Plum under his wing (albeit front paw) this evening on the green couch.



  48. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, that scenario with Mr Musty (like the name too as it creates a certain image of the vehicle!) sounds like a bit of a nightmare. Fortunately the vehicle and your son were retrieved. Was anything learned for the situation?

    Honestly, I thought that the article you linked to was a joke, but apparently not. Whatever will they think of next?

    The eagle was back again today. The pups are growing pretty fast. There was a dingo pup (our coyote equivalent) taken by an eagle. Now where was that article … … Purebred dingo pup that dropped from the air into a backyard garden turns out to be endangered breed.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    That’s my thinking too about the pups and the eagles as they are getting bigger, rapidly. The pups are now bigger than Scritchy, but they don’t weigh as much as her (she is a solid ball of muscle that 19 year old dog), but they’re growing fast and this farm is inherently risky anyway due to all of the wildlife. Sometimes I get the impression that the pups are bigger at the end of a day than they were in the morning. Dunno if I’m imagining that, but Plum’s snout is definitely longer than it was.

    Scritchy is one tough old dog. The other day she jumped off the veranda (as you do when you’re 19 years of age) dropped about four times her height, and landed on her neck. And I watched all this happen from a distance and it had a slow motion quality to it. But she got up from the ground, looked a bit more stunned than usual, and then proceeded to walk around as if nothing had happened. And that wasn’t the first time I’d seen that happen. Bonkers. One of these days…

    Speaking of not recovering from wounds and incidents, I finished ‘The Eagle’ today. What a truly amazing story, and everyone (with a few notable exceptions) dies. And their ideal came to naught, but then given that is the general theme of the Arthurian story, and we’re reading about it over a millennia and a half later, the question is: Did it all come to naught? I suspect not, and I’ve been cogitating upon this aspect – sorry I really am curious about the core ideals of the story – was that it set in motion actual real world events. Which exactly like Camulod, lasted for a while but will tragically fail. The end of the story really was tragic, and it left me with a bit of a melancholic feeling that I’d finished the journey with the characters.

    Next book is the seed starting book from Rodale. I really have to get my head around that story and get a proper system in place.

    I spent hours today and finished rather late down in the paddock getting the steel structure ready to take on board the new-old solar panels. The project keeps growing in size, and the set out of the arrangement in the paddock was the editors idea.

    Oh, that architecture is more spectacular and pleasing on the eye than Spanish mission style. Pleas accept my apologies, and I learn as I go here. I have not encountered that Spanish / Moorish style before, but it is very lovely to look at.

    That is my thinking on the story of ‘free range kids’ too. I tend to feel that personality is partly hard wired into people and animals. What do you reckon about that? There is a lot of nature and a bit of nature is my thinking. It is funny but Plum and Ruby both have distinctly different personalities that are clear to be seen even from such a young age. I’m lucky too to have Ollie taking such an interest in them, he really is making my life easy (eagle risk aside, but that risk is part of being a dog here – there are snakes here from time to time too).

    Go Woody, and I believe we have decided that Woody can do no wrong? Hadn’t heard of the film. Hmm 1942, and the tide was turning.

    I really like the title of Chuck’s book. Have you picked up any interesting titbits?

    Yeah, I’ve read about the Nightcap oak trees in that forest. Things were not looking good for them for quite a while. And the Woollemi Pines appear to have survived the conflagration, however I heard an anecdotal account that the mere fact they survived makes them slightly easier to discover their whereabouts (they’re green when the rest is burned). The canyon access is apparently very difficult and there is no desire for anyone to go wandering in there due to the risk of soil borne diseases killing off the stand – but does this stop people attempting to go there?

    I believe a lot of the coronavirus spreading is due to tourism. Yay for us!

    Did you see that an interesting animal has turned up in our fossil records: New genus of Australian lion discovered in Queensland’s Riversleigh World Heritage fossil site. Cool huh?



  50. Yo, Chris – So the pups are growing like corn? 🙂 . I wonder if Scritchy’s tumble off the veranda was intentional, or, if he wandered off because his eye sight is going?

    When I finished “The Eagle” I was going to say, to you, “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.” But, I thought that was too much of a spoiler. So, was it all for naught? Well, perhaps for the people involved, but, the story gave people something to aspire to. Was it a real world event? Well, something stopped the Saxon advance, for about a hundred years. And there was that one well garrisoned and occupied hill fort, that fits the time period. Of course, the Saxon advance might have been stopped by a.) plague or b.) a meteor which screwed up the climate or c.) volcanic eruptions, somewhere in the world which also messed with the climate. Choose your poison, defend your position (swords, optional) and establish your bit of academic turf.

    Well, I’ve got two more Calulod books, to read. Don’t know when I’ll get to them (well, the interlibrary loan must be read in a three week window).

    I’m watching one of the Great Courses, lecture series. “The Roman Empire: From Augustus to the Fall of Rome.” I’m not watching all 24 lectures, just the ones that interest me. I watched one on the whole idea of “Late Antiquity.” Back in the 70’s, someone took exception to the label “Dark Ages.” At one end, you have the grim people, everything was awful and personal hygiene went down the drain. At the other end, you’ve got folks claiming it was an era of enlightenment and innovation. At least, cerebrally. Mostly, church folks. Personally, I’ll take a well run bath over a theological sermon, any day. So, along that continuum, stake out your turf and make a name for yourself.

    Another lecture was on “when did the Roman empire fall, and why. Well, there’s a can of worms. When, runs all the way from dates during the Republic, to the 1500s. After all, the Roman east banged on for another thousand years. But, 410CE (sack of Rome) seems to be a cluster point. For the fall of the western empire. As to the why, we’ve discussed that, before. The professor takes the, I think, rather sensible position that it was a lot of things, working in concert.

    I worked in the garden, for a couple of hours, yesterday. Buried a couple of bags of kitchen scraps, along with the substantial corn root structure. Harvested the last of the carrots. They’re still looking good. And, did a lot of weeding. I haven’t seen much of the Garden Goddess, this winter, as she’s been pretty stove in. But, she wandered through the community room, last night, when I was talking to Eleanor.

    The Garden Goddess did her usual litany about how the soil in the community bed is “no good.” Well, if you’re going to just throw chemical fertilizer at it, and not put in any organic material, of course it’s going to be bad. I’ve got one end of that bed, just a little patch maybe 4 x 8, and have got a good crop of potatoes out of it, a couple of nice pumpkins and two bumper crops of green beans. This year I’m doing it in, mostly, garlic and peas, I think. I dug in leaves, chopped up corn stalks, buried kitchen scraps, and turned under the leavings from what I did plant. A bit of coffee grounds and a sprinkling of alpaca poo and mushroom compost. The only powders I sprinkled on it was blood and bone meal. Oh, and I also moved some worms into my little plot. But, there’s no talking to her (though I have, in the past.) I heard the first frog, night before last.

    Nature vs nurture? Stake out your turf, and flourish dissertations at 20 paces. 🙂 . Probably, a combo of the two. At least, that’s what studies of twins raised separately, seems to indicate.

    My knowledge of the Pacific theatre, in WWII, is a bit hazy. I thought we had to pry the Japanese off Midway Island, but, no, we had to hold it. If the Japanese had captured Midway, it would have been a stepping stone to Hawaii and the west coast. There was also some mention that if Midway went, the supply line to Australia would be cut.

    Well, Chuck’s book is choke full of writing advice, none of which I can remember. Not too far into it, but, there’s one story about a Stephen King book signing in Seattle, that turned into it’s own kind of horror show. He heard it from one of the “minders” who trots authors around, on tour. Not only did fans insist he bleed on the books, but his car was rammed on his way back to the hotel.

    Yes, when I saw the pictures of the Woolemi pines, I thought with a good geodesic map, you could figure out where they are. That “Y” shaped canyon, is pretty distinctive. Google Earth and an ap, and Bob’s your uncle. Some moron will have a go, just to take a selfie. I hope they have heavy fines and serious jail time, in place.

    Besides tourism, a lot of the coronavirus cases seem to be people traveling on business. Can’t they Skype? But, you can travel to a lot of exotic places, and claim the expenses on your taxes.

    That was quit an article on the new species of prehistoric tiger. “bolt-cutting premolars” gives one pause. I’m glad those kitties, still aren’t around. Lew

  51. Dear Ollie,
    Is there anyway you could ship some of that wombat poo. It sounds like quite the delicacy. I must confess that I’m usually right with Leo at the wood pile dismantling. His powerful jaws pull logs right out and I get all the rodents that were living there. Mud season is just around the corner. Starting Sunday it’s supposed to be above freezing for the next ten days. What fun for me.

    You friend,

  52. Hi Chris,
    Wow it was lucky you were around when the eagle was there. I imagine those pups will grow fast and be out of danger before too long. Sounds like they are having a great time in their new home.


  53. Pam,
    I always plant my asparagus crowns in the spring but it seems that the only time they’re available. I imagine a fall planting would do fine too.


  54. Chris,

    Eventually conditions on earth will probably change enough that humans as we know them can no longer survive. But that is probably far in the future, because we are generalists and adaptable, as you said.

    I got on a rare roll for jokes, the past week or so. Today seriously turned into Dodgy Pun Friday. I’m glad it’s the weekend so I can regroup and improve the humor level.

    Aw, c’mon! What makes you think I don’t routinely lose my head around the pet T-Rex? Maybe not physically but in pure terror, at least, because there’s no way to tame that Big Lizard.

    Seriously, a young lady named Claressa Shields is a middle weight boxer. She boxed in Spokane 4 consecutive years, once in the Olympic trials, the next 3 years at amateur nationals. She won the Olympic trials at age 17, and is the ONLY American boxer, male of female, to win 2 Olympic gold medals. She does a lot of sparring against men and beats them. Very nice and personable, but her chosen nickname strikes fear into her opponents: she signs her autograph “T Rex”.

    My wife and I have matching dumb phones. They’re basically “smart phones lite”, so many kinds of documents don’t load, nor do emoticons or most apps. The alarm clocks on these work perfectly. Smart phones are complicated enough that I can’t figure out how to do much on them.

    General Burkhalter: “It’s a perfect plan. What could possibly go wrong?”
    Hogan, listening in via hidden wires: “Okay guys, this is what we’re going to do.”
    Yes, that sums up my attitude toward biometric wombat poo and bat doo doo.

    It’s interesting how humans toil and how dogs work. Dogs do the doggy things that often is simply sniffing and pooping and running around whilst humans toil and lift and sweat profusely and teach the dogs words that aren’t in any family friendly dictionary. Yet, the work of the dogs is very important for the farm. I miss having dogs in the yard, as they kept unwanted feral cats away, so no cat poo in the veggies and the squirrels and birds were (mostly) happier, except when Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz decided it was her turn to hunt the birds.

    Speaking of cats, and I’m reluctant to mention it lest it jinx things, but the regular neighborhood felines haven’t been seen in several weeks. The large owls or hawks might have gotten one or two, and the neighborhood coyote pack might have done a strategic strike also. So I’ll probably see the whole herd of cats shortly since I said something.

    Speaking of large predator birds…good thing you were paying attention and saved the pups from the eagle. Interesting article on the dingo pup that was delivered via the Eagle Airmail System.

    I think that if one keeps an attitude of humility and wants to learn, one can learn from anybody. Then ageing will allow one to pick up a lot of useful tools for coping with things and learning what is truly important and what can be ignored safely. That also allows for the possibility of having learned how to stay calm (as in less stressed and less frantic) during difficult situations that would have a lot of people in serious trouble due to stress, etc. Sometimes I’m even successful at it!

    In math and physics, we often had fractions like pi/4 or pi/8. I learned quickly just to accept the number, because the obvious question hurt too much: how can you have 25% of a number that really doesn’t have an exact value? So, how could you, the Editor, the Princess and I meet over coffee and a pi cut in fourths?

    We also learned early on that you can’t take the square root (sq rt) of a negative number. (A negative number multiplied by another negative number is always a positive number.) Once upon a year someone realized certain formulae always included the sq rt of a negative number, yet had a tangible valuein the physical world. So, these sq rts of negative numbers were dubbed “imaginary numbers”. I had to take an entire math course called “complex variables”, which was all about algebra through trigonometry up through calculus and beyond with these imaginary numbers included. Ya know, reading over this paragraph is explaining to me precisely why I hit my Maximum Math Capacity in physics graduate school. The math just simply got so far removed from what I could imagine and visualize that I couldn’t understand it.

    Which sorta gets to how I think…With many concepts I have to be able to visualize how it looks and fits together. I’ve learned to be able to slog along and just “do” and eventually I will be able to visualize, or imagine, what is going on. This, for me, is VERY true of mechanical things, but I think very comfortably about most things with at least mental visualizations.

    There are severe weaknesses to this, obviously. Without hands on mechanical experience, visualizing was painful or impossible for many things. Math and physics problem solving helped immensely! As has learning discursive meditation, in which I need to think logically more than visually. Being able to think visually or with logic is beneficial.

    But can I visualize complex scenes that I was part of? Rarely. Can I remember long conversations nearly verbatim? Yes, and doing so is one of the rare occasions in which I can visualize parts of memories visually: I see the scene and remember the verbage. I’m a walking spell check machine because I can literally SEE the word in my mind. Old school phonics allows me to do that with many words I’ve never seen before.

    Observing the different ways people think and remember is fascinating, isn’t it?

    Wow! It was +16C today! My busy season at work is typically about 10 weeks. Due to the mild winter and the recent weeks of (mostly) warm and (mostly) dry weather, the soils underneath the roads are mostly dried and solidified and stabilized. As a result, the worst of the busy season is over after just 3 or 4 weeks. Now I might be able to get back to a more relaxed mode at the job and actually train the newer staff that I’m supposed to be training.


  55. Hi Chris,

    Yes I have feverfew, also liquorice root, yarrow, garlic, chillies and a bunch of others. I even stuck a piece of ginger from the supermarket in one of my more protected tubs on the grounds that you never know – the frost will probably get it but I did have a perennial basil that toughed it out there for three years before the chickens got to it. You should see the looks people give you for taking a toddler and five large bottles of cheap vodka (for tinctures) through the checkouts.

    Eh, I still can’t decide if it will be bad or a fizzer like swine flu. It’s like the bushfires – my emotions say ‘she’ll be right’ and my rational head sees the stats and the repeating patterns and keeps pushing me into preparing. It’s very confusing. The bushfires turned out medium-bad which was sort of midway between my emotional prediction and rational one, so I guess maybe things will average out the same way here.

  56. Hi Al,

    Sorry mate, worked late on the upgrades to the new power system last night and then ran out of time to reply. Opportunity sometimes turns up wearing overalls and looking like hard work. My arms felt like they might drop off my shoulders after the work…

    I’ve drooled over the Lister engines for a number of years and your description nailed it. Elegance is the word that I think when I consider those machines.

    Hehe! No need for PTO stuff here either. I’m limited by the slope of the land which is just a bit too much for easy tractor use – even four wheel drive, and who wants to find out whether the roll-over-protection works? My little ride on is and Italian purpose built model which can handle 17 degree slopes. Bonkers stuff, but it works and the centre of gravity is very low.

    Well, here’s the thing, I keep adding solar panels (more on this story next week) so that a generator is not really necessary. However, I’m looking for an 18A or 20A at 48V battery charger. That’ll put out about 72V – or it should generally I find that the current ratings are over stated.

    Actually, the more I learn about this renewable energy stuff, the more I get concerned when I hear people spouting nonsense about it. I believe that the technology is good, it just won’t work like people think that it does. Now if you could combine solar, wind and hydro together and also be able to remotely cut people off who were doing the wrong thing, then it might work – if everyone doesn’t use too much. Is that going to happen? Maybe? But my gut feeling tells me otherwise. And eventually the solar panels fail, the wind turbines fail, and the hydro fails or the dams silt up. It does not make for good news.

    Yes, good to hear about the flu shots, however I have never heard of anyone using tamiflu to treat influenza. Well there you go – it is a thing. As far as I am aware it is not administered down here for that purpose. I believe that it has no efficacy against the coronavirus. Hope you recover soon!



  57. Woof! Woof!

    Dear Salve,

    To my dearest overseas canine friend. Greetings and salutations! Wombat poo is a precious resource, and my young friend Ruby lost some today in a particularly sloppy poo that she excreted that was poorly timed. Ruby suggested that it was not her fault that she was not let outside in time. Wombat poo is potent stuff, and perhaps Ruby was too young for its heady mix of flavours? What a waste and I was not allowed to assist with the clean-up. Outrageous!

    I have no doubts that you and your good friend Leo (is there an imminent knighthood in there for services rendered in the ongoing war against the uncountable hordes of rodents?) would appreciate the wombat poo. However, I am sad to report that this most special canine currency is in short supply. Woe to all of us at this dire resource limitation.

    My friend, I tell you this truly: Ruby is nice, but Plum is nicer. We have bonded over sharing of our love of wombat poo. The events of today convince me that Ruby is clearly not enough dog to handle a proper wombat poo. Plum is made from sterner stuff.

    Respect for recognising the proper power of mud, and may your coat shine beautifully from your next mud bath. I envy you!

    Woof! Woof!


  58. Hi Margaret,

    It’s official, Ollie is in love with Plum. The two of them are snuggled up together on the green couch behind me. They look pretty happy and content and have run around in the orchard for most of the day.

    I’m really glad that I decided to pick up the pups because Mr Toothy’s health has been deteriorating rapidly over the past few weeks. I believe that he may have had a stroke or an aneurysm or something similar, as the change has been very marked. Life can be very uncertain, but he’s had an awesome life and is maybe about 16 years of age now. It is not a bad innings and he’s just carrying on now, but is now very low key.

    What else can I do about the eagle? The dogs just have to rapidly outgrow the risk.



  59. Hi Lewis,

    Scritchy is an odd dog and she intentionally jumped off, but lacked the jumping skills that she formerly held. She has a malicious bent to her personality and from time to time will set out to deliberately ruin things for the other dogs – especially if there is a perceived advantage for her doing so, or loss for them.

    Too true! Camulod crashed with a whimper and they were just over run in the end. All their advantages came to naught with the exception of on mainland Europe. I had a flash of insight in that Arthur pursued alliances – like with the Franks – when he would have been far wiser to have pursued alliances with his closer neighbours. And interestingly, Alfred the Great arose from that part of the world to oppose the unrelenting hordes of invaders from over the seas – and was successful. And why didn’t they work towards developing a navy to repel the invaders before they even arrived on the shores in the first place? Troop ships are probably not good fighting ships.

    Ah, you are made of sterner stuff than I on that front and three weeks would be too tight a period of time for me to properly read a book.

    Went into the big smoke today for the Green Wizards. Ordinarily this would involve train travel, however this time afterwards I ventured out into eastern side of the big smoke to pick up another load of used – but still working well – solar panels. Such waste boggles my mind. The bloke who sold them to me was told from the upgrade folks that they would take the old panels away for a fee. It would be funny, if it were not so bonkers. I got to act up as the switched on and astute country bumpkin and I enjoyed playing the role. I noted envy and wistfulness in the bloke as we had a good bloke chat for a while. Blokes need bloke chat time.

    That was my impression too about education during the Dark Ages in that it was probably good if you were of the clergy or nobility (which were probably educated by the clergy) and then there was everyone else. Mind you, those remaining folks could probably recount a good tale from memory and they would have had other knowledge that we currently don’t value. All in all, I’m thinking that it was a mixed bag. Do you reckon I’m onto something with that belief? And please correct me but my understanding is that historically the Anglians eventually turned the tide of invasions and became paramount?

    I’ve sat through plenty of sermons in my time (and always enjoyed singing the hymns at high decibels), and yeah a warm bath holds up well by way of comparison. I’m particularly dubious of claims that somehow a priest cast is needed to hold forth on a persons relationship to a God. It seems a bit too neat for them.

    We’ve discussed the fall of Rome before, and yeah there seems to be a lot of reasons for why it did so. And a whole bunch of them fit what was known about the era. I was very interested reading about how Attila the Hun came unstuck by a Frank alliance with the Visigoths. How historically accurate was that?

    Haha! Mate, I’ve read books on gardening that your Garden Goddess would so approve of. And actually visited one of the gardens that resulted from a book that suggested the heavy application of mineral fertilisers. I’d be interested how it compared to what you’re seeing in that garden bed (and respect for your actions too – nice work) and it was that the soil was a very sandy soil where the trees grew well, but the ground cover plants were not nearly as healthy. From memory, I recollect that the soil there just didn’t retain water that well and it looked dry and had a greyish appearance.

    I concur and also feel that the nature versus nurture question is also answered a bit either way.

    I learn, and thanks for the ongoing education. I was a bit hazy on the Battle of Midway too, and was surprised to read that it occurred only one month after the Battle of the Coral Sea. I still have no idea why the Japanese would attempt to cross New Guinea via the Kokoda Track. A truly horrendous option. Yes, the US did indeed rescue our good selves from the Japanese during WWII, and Midway was a turning point where the Japanese lost due to attrition and not being able to replace the losses.

    Hehe! Your comment about Chuck’s book on writing was like the ultimate teaser – which might be otherwise interpreted as: go read it for yourself! 🙂 Hehe!

    What? Why would fans want to extract real blood from the author? Some problems I feel should be nipped in the bud and stopped before they get out of hand and those two examples were such. Was Chuck ever exposed to such bizarre fanfare?

    I’m not sure that jail time is accorded to those foolish enough to venture into the distinctive canyon with the Woolemi pines. Some people use their OCD and Gaagle Earth Images to uncover all sorts of weird and wonderful things. Yarrabubba crater in WA outback world’s oldest recognised impact structure. Scritchy the dog is a relative youngster compared to that impact crater!

    Hmm, yes, we had an outbreak in Queensland from someone returning from Iran. No cause for alarm, but we would really like to speak to the 40 odd people that the lady attended too: Coronavirus scare at Gold Coast beauty salon after beautician tests positive following trip to Iran. I’m of the opinion that this one is now part of the human experience – just like the influenza virus – and will be coming to a shore near you.

    Oh yeah, the marsupial lions sound – effective.



  60. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I travelled into the big smoke today and picked up another load of used but still working solar panels. The waste inherent in that story is bonkers and makes no sense at all to me.

    Ah, I get like that too with jokes and humour. Knowing when to stop is not so easy a place to find… And have you encountered people that lack any sort of humour and they just give you nothing as a response?

    Mate, I wouldn’t make jokes to upset that particular T-Rex, and respect to Claressa Shields too. Top work. The response might actually knock your head off – literally speaking!

    I miss my dumb phone. It used to work unlike this smart phone ‘heavy’. I suspect that a lot of effort is required to get those devices to work properly. And people do what is colloquially known as ‘tooling around’ on them and generally wasting precious time. Lost time is I have noted ‘lost’. Unfortunately.

    Better go, will speak tomorrow.



  61. Chris:

    I am sorry that poor old Mr. Toothy seems to be going downhill. That is a venerable age though, and he has had one glorious life. I wouldn’t be surprised if a knighthood wasn’t in his future.

    Thanks for the dingo story. There are monsters out there!


  62. @ TamHob:

    I, too, may have drawn attention in the checkout line with my bottles of vodka for tinctures, though the toddlers weren’t with me at the time. At first I used to buy the cheapest brand I could, but that stuff is awful! A little higher grade was called for.

    We have grown ginger here in Virginia outside in the summer, but we just don’t have the growing season it requires to make good roots; ditto for turmeric. But the ginger produces the loveliest ginger-smelling flowers, worth the effort. I don’t remember where you are; we have a lot of subfreezing weather where I am and so have to bring the plants inside for the winter if we want to keep them going. They will produce flowers in one summer, though.


  63. Yo, Chris – Well, a lot of Arthur’s neighbors didn’t seem very interested in alliances. They couldn’t seem to get past their self interest. As far as building war ships … well, given the sheer mass of ships, and, the area to be covered, never knowing when and where the folks from Europe might land… Here’s an interesting short article about the part of the Roman fleet, assigned to Britain. There were also several other fleets in Gaul and Germany. All withdrawn back to the Med, after 410 CE.


    Well, it’s all very well and good that you’re stocking up on solar panels, but, just an idle question. When will you have enough? 🙂 . Of course, if you built an underground bunker, you could really stack them up.

    Yup. The adventure of Attila the Hun in Gaul was mentioned in the lectures I just watched. The Gauls claimed a great victory, but, it was more of a draw. No skin off Attila’s nose. End of the campaigning season, anyway. He just withdrew, regrouped, and marched on Rome, the next year. Pope Leo (the something or other) took a ride out of Rome, to have a quiet little lunch, with Attila. According to church records, Peter and Paul appeared in the sky with flaming swords, and scared him off. More likely, a large bribe was involved. So, Attila withdrew. Not long after, he had a big blow out for one of his (many) weddings. Popped his clogs. Either too much wine, food, or, a very rambunctious German bride, did him in. After that, his alliance fell apart. And, I think there was a bit of plague, thrown in.

    There were seven (?) Saxon kingdoms, that gradually absorbed each other, either through conquest or marriage. The last man standing was Alfred, though it was a narrow thing. Something about burning barley cakes. Alfred managed to push out, conquer, or make alliances with different groups.

    Yeah, the community garden bed is pretty … crusty. And, weeds don’t even seem to want to grow there. What veg they got, probably managed to produce on just the soil in their starter pots, as most were starts. The Garden Goddess did plant a couple of rows of corn, from seed (just to pollute my corn gene pool), but they grew about 2 1/2 feet tall, and fizzled out. No talking to her, but I am going to point out the difference to Bob, the Master Gardener. In case he needs an object lesson for the folks they run through here, on their way to becoming Master Gardeners.

    WWII and Australia. I see it as a joint effort. Things would have gone a lot worse, and lasted a lot longer, if the Australians hadn’t done their bit. Hats off to the Australians.

    Well, King’s book signing fingers are heavily callused. But, probably due to the weather, they cracked and began to leak, early in the signing. He asked for a band aide, but the people in the auditorium (hundreds of them) darn near rioted, demanding that their signatures also have a smear of blood. Mob rule. The folks who rammed his car, had not been able to get into the auditorium, due to a sell out crowd.

    Well, Chuck did mention one incident, at one of his book signings. He was often asked to sign one appendage or another, and later would run across the person again, to discover that they had his signature tattooed. One signing, a fellow lingered until the very last, stripped off all his clothes and slapped his John Thomas down on the table, and demanded Chuck sign it. He did.

    Well, it’s just that Chuck’s suggestions come fast and furious, when he gets into the writing end of things. He did say a lot about dialogue. How important it is (and, how to do) the knack of being clear about who is speaking. He said that reader’s get irritated when they have to go back through reams of dialogue to try and figure out who is talking to who. He said, she said, is way too boring. But, if you can pull off something like, “…he said as he scratched his nose…”, it’s a lot more interesting.

    The Yarrabubba Crater is really interesting. We’ve got one down in Arizona, that is similar.

    We’ve had our first fatality, in the State, from the corona virus. The fellow up in Everett. Although, do to patient privacy concerns, the gender of the person who died keeps shifting. An elementary school outside of Portland has been closed, as someone there has been diagnosed with the virus. Teacher or student? That privacy thing again. The janitor? They’re closing the school for a week, and disinfecting it.

    How rumors get started. This morning when I was at the veg store, I was told that a “kid out on the Jackson Highway” was diagnosed. Market Street, just down the hill from me, becomes the Jackson Highway, just out of town. When I got home, I started checking around on the internet. A student at JACKSON HIGH SCHOOL in Everett, has been diagnosed. No cases in our county, yet. Lew

  64. Hi DJ cont…

    Another long work day today in the sun. I’ll chuck some photos on tomorrow’s missive. Words are not quite good enough to explain the scope of the upgrade project for the solar power system. Epic comes to mind, but what does that even mean?

    Hehe! Thanks for the Hogan’s Heroes quote, and it is very appropriate. 🙂

    Exactly, the dogs most likely can’t understand what all the fuss is about, and the digging… They’re probably thinking that they could do a better job, and they can dig that’s for sure, although never where it is useful to do so. I’d never thought about having cats bury their business in the garden, but they’re like that. I’m assuming it would be good for the soil, although it is probably not ideal in root vegetable crops soil. Mate, the dogs would dig that up and it would be disappeared before you could say the word ‘poo’! A Finnish Spitz would have the heart of a hunter.

    Yeah best not to put the kiss of feline death on your garden. I would have thought that a cat could stand up to a coyote? I’ve seen a large tabby once overturn the substantial and long since gone boss dog: ‘The Fat’. The cat looked immensely pleased with itself at the outcome.

    I respect your mastery of the art of math, but I have to write this evening, and my poor heat stressed brain began doing internal flip flops as it considered your words and instructions. Chunks of brain may be currently oozing out my ears as a result of your words. I do hope that nobody confuses me for a zombie. Exactly. Years ago I began learning music, and actually reading music. I got to a point in time where I had the realisation that I either dive deep into this lore, or forever it would be held just out of reach at the edge of my awareness. And I just sort of learned to live with that. Events in the real world set upper limits on the amount of energy that I can throw at subjects. I wish it were not so, but everyone encounters that, although they may not wish to admit it. I call that lot who don’t practice what they preach: ‘the arm-chair theorist’.

    I don’t have any troubles with meditation practices, although my mind is rarely quiet and so discursive meditation works best of all. The work I do around the farm is a form of discursive meditation where you just get into the zone of an activity, and it provides focus. It’s quite relaxing all the work around this place, but my thoughts are all done in words – there are no visuals at all. Even complicated structures like the one I’m building are dissected into smaller steps in my brain, and I just know that this bit has to connect to that bit etc…

    It is fascinating and I appreciate hearing your perspective on the matter and how you see things.

    You may be surprised but I was always tooling around with machines and electronics from a young age, and I just now sort of know what machines are meant to be doing and how they go about doing that. Although the move to greater levels of electronics in machines now leaves me floundering around. When I was younger many machines were far simpler and easier to understand, but nowadays the sheer scale of electronics in cars makes my mind boggle.

    Holy Guacamoley DJ! 16’C is bonkers hot, however it is our first day of autumn, but you recognise the changes in seasons at the equinoxes I believe?



  65. Hi Lewis,

    Of course, Arthur’s neighbours had their own agendas that didn’t involve going out on a limb for Camulod. Alliances are often borne of the alignment of self interest for both parties, and I’m guessing the Anglian’s saw the south west as a place to eventually expand into? I was amazed in the story that the ecological realities were forcing people into ground that could not be held against the invaders – and that was going on internally too e.g. The Scots. I was mildly curious that the Franks didn’t seem to have suffered from the same population pressures. Thanks for the link too.

    Yes, how much is enough is a question that rarely gets asked these days. It is a more important question than it first appears to be. Strangely enough, I’m writing about that subject tonight although in my own inimitable and indirect style. I believe the question is being raised, even if nobody voices it directly.

    Sorry, I’m rambling. As to your question I feel a direct answer is the best of all. After the current project is completed, I’m almost certain that I have enough solar panels. The goal is to be able to avoid using a fossil fuel powered generator. One must have goals.

    Thanks for correcting my understanding of Attila’s escapades in Gaul. I could see how a plague might be a problem for a massive roaming army like Attila’s. What an inglorious ending – and all rather pointless. I was wondering about Alexander the Great as he too showed the predilection for battle, but was never quite tested as an administrator of the populace. Some people I have noted can start a business, others can ably run a business, and yet others can destroy a business. I noted that in the story the Spear Chucker and Gwinnifer ended up in Benwick – with the inference that her story was unknown there. And Brach, Lance’s cousin (who honestly sounded like Conan the Barbarian) was portrayed as an able administrator who took his duties seriously (as did Conan, I might add). It was another curious twist in the story.

    Well I never! What a story of Alfred the Great coming back from such a defeat, and then appearing to take on the role of Riothamus.

    Hehe! Crusty soil indeed. Mate, you can only do your best by providing a solid example. I do wonder at what point the Garden Goddess will acknowledge the superior quality of your soil, but then sometimes folks stake a place in the abstract ground and they stick to it like glue? Bob may be the right intermediary to point out the differences between the soils to your Garden Goddess, and respect for your superior grasp of the local politics than I.

    Oh yeah, the Battle of the Coral Sea was definitely a joint effort – and we both had a lot to lose, but Midway, you guys pulled out all stops. The Japanese were a bonkers enemy as they fought unto the death, and I have read many accounts where they gave no quarter. I call that sort of thinking by its proper name of Fanaticism.

    Who would have thought that such injuries could be inflicted upon signing authors? You would think that the attendees had stumbled onto a cage fight and they were overcome with blood-lust. What a story, and I’ll bet that particular circumstance never repeated itself? Sometimes I joke with clients (although I’m not really joking) that I may not make the same mistake a second time, but I’ll definitely make new and interesting mistakes!

    I could see that happening with Chuck. Good for Chuck too, the bloke threw down the challenge, and I’m guessing he had the cojones with which to do so. Please, no pictures… An author can sometimes attract complicated and difficult fans, and that is a downside to the gentle art of communicating. Of course it is also possible that there are just plenty of difficult people out there.

    The Earth has been hit plenty of times by meteors, and I’m almost certain that it will happen again at some point in the long future history of this planet. You quite shocked me into seriousness the day you pointed out to me that the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs was the same size as Mount Everest. It kind of puts the story into context in my mind. And you wouldn’t want to be around that day or for a few years afterwards.

    I read about the first fatality in your country. So far we’ve been reasonably lucky on that score. At this stage, probably more people have died down here on the roads over the past few days. I do believe that we may all eventually be tested by that virus – just like the influenza virus and the common cold (which it is a close relative of). I wish it were not so, as a mate of mine said to me yesterday that his lungs are not so good.

    Oh yeah, are fake rumours, the same thing as fake news?



  66. Hello again
    I have known soaking wet ground after a cloudburst but that tends to dissipate. Have never known the ground to be so continuously sodden before. We can’t get on with anything outside because one just doesn’t want to walk on the soaking wet stuff.
    Apparently hedgehogs didn’t hibernate this winter because the temperature remained too high.


    @ Pam
    I always wear wellies outside during the autumn, spring and winter. No yellows though, that is left to Son. Except for the summer, I only wear shoes when going into town; slippers indoors. Thick furry ones in winter, slighter ones in summer.


  67. Hi Tam, Pam and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but I completely ran out of time to reply. Was busy writing away tonight unfortunately. I do prefer to chat, but work first.



  68. @ Lew:

    I so enjoyed your links to ancient Britain. And your interpretation of Attila the Hun’s exploits just about did me in.


  69. Yo, Chris – I’m watching one of the Great Courses, “The Art of the Northern Renaissance.” Pretty much covers the period, 1400-1600, mostly in the Netherlands and northern France. There was a lot of innovation, going on, at that time. And, the political situation was very “fluid.” Covered the intro and the artist Van Eyck, last night. Besides beginning to work out perspective, he was an artist, of “firsts.” He began doing portraits and religious paintings for more “normal” people. People who were not nobility or religious. Rich merchants and civic leaders. He also did the first self portrait (that we’re aware of) and, was the first artist (as far as we know) who did a portrait of his wife.

    Poor Stephen King. Well, makes you want to run out and become a celebrity, doesn’t it? 🙂 . I suppose, given King’s subject matter, some of his fans may be a bit off. Although, fans have been a problem for lesser authors. Sorry to bring him up, but some of Salinger’s fans got so weird (stalking, etc.) that he had to run off and live secretly in the woods. The part of the story I can’t figure out is, as part of King’s agreement to do a signing, bodyguards had to be provided. Where were they? Although, I suppose they may have been the type that are big, hulking brutes … who are not very effective in the crunch. All show and no substance.

    News on the coronavirus front. An elderly care facility, just out of Seattle has cases. One staff member and one tenant. Several other staff and tenants are showing symptoms. So, cases in Portland and cases in Seattle. As we’re right on the I-5 corridor, and, a bit of a pit stop, being just about halfway between the two, I guess it’s just a matter of time, before cases start showing up here.

    I’m sure as soon as we get a case here, at the Institution, we’ll be locked down, in quarantine. Too many people come and go in this building, to dodge the bullet.

    Otherwise, spring is coming. The grape hyacinths are blooming, and, just over the past couple of days, I’ve seen plum and cherry trees, in bloom. But, we did have a frost, last night. Supposed to be a sunny day, today, and then the rain is back. So, warmer temperatures. Lew

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