Straight Lines

We’ve all received a back handed compliment. You know the type, it’s a mix of compliment and criticism all mixed up in one horrid thump-upon-the-skull type of sentence. Folks do such things to make themselves feel better about their own ordinary lives. Fair enough too, if it makes them feel better. Hopefully the recipients have broad shoulders, but they probably know deep down that people spouting such nonsense were messed up real bad by their mum and/or dad.

A couple of decades ago a mate mentioned that the editor and I lived at the dodgy end of an otherwise good street, in a dodgy suburb. “What is wrong with you dude?” may have been one my more charitable thoughts at the time. After all, it was an odd observation by someone who’s aspirations meant that they had trouble committing to furniture and slept each night in a share house upon a sheepskin rug.

The thing is though, such comments carry a grain of truth. The house was actually at the dodgy end of a good street. And the industrial suburb must also have been dodgy looking because my family simply refused to visit. That outcome was a good thing though, because by and large my family were a lot of trouble. There are undocumented benefits to be had for living on the wrong side of the tracks.

The suburb itself wasn’t far out of the city, and from the earliest days of settlement, the area prided itself by encouraging some serious industry. Some nights when the wind blew in the right direction you could smell the distinctive aroma of lanolin from the nearby wool scour. Other nights the wind brought the whiff of drying hides and who can forget the chafe from the blood and bone factory? There may also have been a major refinery and some other stuff. History suggests that by the time we moved there, great efforts had been taken to clean the area up. Nowadays an oldster would barely recognise the desirable hip and cool gentrified suburb that the area has become. People now speak of the suburb in a tone of awe and lust. Back then though, it wasn’t at all like that.

My mate had a special and not so hidden talent: If an honest observation was required, he’d happily provide it. A dubious talent, but occasionally fruitful. Years later we’d moved to another house in a different suburb which had yet to succumb to the dreaded gentrification.

It was a funny suburb in those days. Retired folks wearing faded business attire supped upon coffees at the local cafes. Clearly they were reliving their glory days as their noses were usually buried deep in the Financial Review newspaper. Bohemian types used to ooze out of their disheveled terrace houses, blinking in surprise at the daylight and perhaps wondering to themselves whether the 1970’s had actually ended.

Then there was the editor and I. The local notables could accept the bohemian types as local colour, but we outraged everyone by digging up the front yard and planting it out to vegetables. And don’t mention the reaction to drying our washed clothes out the front of the house in the afternoon sunlight.

My mate saw things differently again though, as he observed that we’d laid out the backyard garden in dead straight lines.

Had we?

Turns out we had done exactly that. Both the editor and I were left scratching our heads and wondering at how this situation could have come about. But there it was, and the facts spoke for themselves. The path and the garden beds were all laid out in dead straight neat lines.

A favourite author, Jack Vance, once dropped in an observation that a person’s profession performed subtle changes and adjustments to their personality. BAM! Two accountants, one household, and all the garden was laid in out in perfectly straight lines. Hmm.

Whatever. Turns out an old dog can learn new tricks, and heck, aesthetics are important. Most of the garden beds here follow the natural contour of the land. But old habits are hard to break, and the terracing had to follow straight lines for practical purposes. All the same, I reckon the garden all looks good whatever line it may follow, and what other standard need apply?

The end raised garden bed (near to the bright yellow trailer) is out of alignment with the other raised garden beds

Just outside the kitchen door are a good number of round steel raised garden beds. Old timers would call that a kitchen garden, and we grow all of the most heavily used edible plants right next to the kitchen. All of the raised garden beds in the kitchen garden follow the nice natural curvature of the land, except for one.

That one raised garden bed just didn’t look right and never has. Moving the bed was not a simple task because the bed is used to grow asparagus plants – and the plants were about five years old. It is actually one of three asparagus beds in the kitchen garden. We’d been eating asparagus spears from the garden bed for months, and so were reluctant to risk killing the plants by moving them.

Asparagus is good! Two years back, a third (and thus the most recent) raised bed was established for growing asparagus in the kitchen garden. Now that this new asparagus bed is established, we could consider making the kitchen garden area look right.

Plans were made to move the incorrectly located asparagus bed. It was a big job.

One of the smaller asparagus plants that were relocated

A lot of asparagus plants were moved to other garden beds in the process. The plants are productive for about twenty years (and can live for up to eighty years), and they have enormous root systems. One of the asparagus plants removed was so huge that it filled a wheelbarrow whilst spilling over the sides.

The asparagus bed was relocated two and half feet further away from the house

Eventually enough plants and soil were removed so that we could move the round steel backwards by about two and half feet. Soil and plants were then added back to the garden bed. It now sits in the right spot, and all is good with the world.

The asparagus bed now sits in the correct position relative to its peers. Ollie is impressed!

The tail end of ex-tropical Cyclone Esther travelled the entire length of the continent from north to south. On Thursday almost four inches of rain fell. It is hard to believe that two months ago was some of the hottest weather thrown at the farm that I can recall, and a good chunk of the continent succumbed to intense fires.

Humidity was high after ex-tropical cyclone Esther dropped a serious bucket load of rain over the area

The rain has meant that it was entirely unnecessary to water the plants on the terraces.

So much rain in such a short period of time – saves me having to water!

A good indoor activity during such weather is making wine. This week we converted about a fifth of our blackberry harvest into a very tasty blackberry wine.

Three demijohns of blackberry wine were made this week

Cucumbers don’t really enjoy the cooler and cloudy weather that the farm has enjoyed of late. The leaves were dying and there was no chance of any further harvest, so we pulled all of the plants out and harvested the cucumbers.

Cucumbers were dying back, so the plants were removed and the fruits harvested

We’d been harvesting cucumbers for weeks and so were quite surprised to discover the fruits that we missed. So many discovered cucumbers were just asking to be pickled. The rest of the fruit are being slowly fed to the chickens.

Pickles in the jar

Another days work was done constructing the steel frame which will hold the 16 new second hand solar panels. Drilling steel is very hard work, so I do that project when the mood takes me.

The steel frame for the new second hand solar panels continues to be constructed

The little green low centre of gravity ride on mower did not come with a cup holder. Of course this may be because it is of Italian origin. I have no doubts such folk would have stopped using the machine and enjoyed a coffee in a porcelain cup. I like to have a drink of water along with me whilst I work. It was a conundrum, but at the recent local agricultural show I spotted an old vehicle were someone had retrofitted a water bottle holder to an old jeep. What a great idea, we can do that too!

A custom homemade water bottle holder was attached to the ride on mower

The harvest of summer garden produce continues despite the incredibly wet weather.

The two sheep dogs: Plum and Ruby, are growing fast
A single Almond tree provided all of these nuts
The Almonds are now waiting for a very sunny day so that they can dry
A good haul of Medlar’s which are slowly fermenting and will make a fine wine
Dinner! Eggplants, Globe Artichokes and Zucchini

Onto the flowers:

Rain, cold, or sun and heat, the Geraniums perform
Flowers high up in the canopy of an Irish Strawberry Tree
An unusual Fuchsia
Lemon Meyer flowers smell beautiful
Hydrangeas are climbing high into the shade canopy created by Elderberry and Japanese Maples in search of sunlight

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 274.6mm (10.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 184.0mm (7.2 inches).

110 thoughts on “Straight Lines”

  1. @ Inge and @ Chris,

    Inge raised the question about influenza death rate for the 2019-2020 season. I found a report for the USA from a government agency: 280,000 REPORTED cases. 16,000 deaths. 5.71% death rate. This seems very high. However…

    The key word is REPORTED. If I catch an upper respiratory bug, I try to weather the storm and do all the necessary home care things. If the fever is too high for too long, then I get in to see the doctor to make sure it’s not bacterial where antibiotics will (possibly) help. In other words, my influenza case would not be reported unless I had to see the doctor. So a lot of influenza cases might not be reported.


  2. Chris,

    Frostbite? Nasty stuff, that. One year when I was a teenager, maybe at Christmas Eve, there was a lot of noisy activity at a neighbor’s. It was maybe -4C, so I threw on a jacket and hat and wandered over to see what was up. Ummm, my feet only had on thin leather slippers, which weren’t the best thing for standing around on frozen concrete. I didn’t get frostbite from that bout of youthful wisdom, but the toes on one foot were more sensitive to cold for a few years, which is apparently called “frost nip” hereabouts. That’s as close as I’ve come to frost bite.

    Ahhh, zombies tending to a human “brain farm”. Any lost humans would be known as “brain drain”. I can see a series of movies under the “Zombie Farm” franchise. “Zombie Farm: A New Brain”, followed by “Zombie Farm: The Humans Suck Back” and “Zombie Farm: Return of the Zombie”.

    Maybe you need to catch some owls and donate them to New Zealand?

    So, my wonderful bass/baritone voice can be quite loud. Unfortunately, when I let my voice get loud, people think I’m angry. So if I were on my cell phone and the local council was listening in and I was loud it would sound like I was so perturbed that they’d think I was planning mass mayhem or something. I’d be arrested for sure. And heaven help us if they find some way to think that they’re reading my mind.

    You’re onto something there. Gaining the knowledge that one needs significant mental relaxation time is hard. And then figuring out different methods is needed too. Diversification of methods helps with mental relaxation.

    Spokane County had less than a quarter million people in 1967 when I moved here. Now the metropolitan area alone is over 400,000, and the entire County was at nearly a half million 10 years ago. A lot of sprawl and disappearing trees and lost farmland is where the development is.

    “Consistency I have noticed, takes a lot of energy and resources. You may have noticed that in your work?” I’ll pass on that one for now. After the Friday I had at work, if any manager can read my mind, I’d be in serious trouble. 😉 Seriously, it also takes desire and will in order to have consistency, both of which seem to be lacking in many employers and managers today.

    I used to be extremely finicky about things having to be in perfectly spaced, perfectly straight arrays and lines. One day when designing a household project, I realized that this could become a problem, so I purposely and randomly moved things out of line. Now I quite enjoy working either way: somewhat random or well designed arrays and patterns and lines. I’m finding that the flexibility is needed in my pyrography and carving. There are times when the design is paramount, others in which flexibility and some randomness improve things.

    Four inches of rain in a day? Ooog! I bet that was a good test of your newer terraces? And that bark pathway looks WET.

    Your surprise cucumbers are nothing new to me. Green leaves and green fruit or green leaves and green beans just make for a bunch of hidden goodies. I routinely find more good stuff when I getting the plants ready for the compost pile.

    Speaking of which, I emptied the kitchen compost bins into the big pile outside. The winter was definitely mild enough that a lot of the compost from December and January is good soil now. The ground is still a bit hard for working, so after digging in the addition to the compost heap, I sat in a chair in the sun and got some much needed outdoor relaxation.

    Nice work on the water bottle holder. Important thing to have in your climate.

    Looking at the size of Plum and Ruby, I pity the poor eagle that tries to snatch them now. Might be more than a raptor can handle.

    Your Lemon Meyer flowers look similar to a native bush we have here, the Mock Orange. The Mock Orange flowers don’t have the purple on them before popping open, but the insides are similar. And the flowers smell like ripe oranges. There was one in the yard when I moved into this house. It seems to enjoy the sandy soil.

    Trip to the store tomorrow to add to the supply of a few items. Toilet paper is not necessarily on the list.


  3. Hi Chris,

    How do you normally eat the artichokes?

    We might be getting some of your rain as well, tank levels are rising 🙂

    Cheers x

  4. Hi Damo,

    The Globe Artichokes are boiled for 10 to 15 minutes. Then you peel off the hard outer leaves and chuck them in the compost bin until you find the soft inner core. That is a very tasty vegetable. The stem can be eaten too and it is just as tasty, but I peel the outer layer first. Of course if the choke has opened, it is probably a bit late to eat, but you go first with the testing. The hard leaves can be scraped using your teeth to obtain a bit extra vegetable, but there really isn’t much edible on them.

    It is worth noting that if you are boiling the chokes, then chuck some potatoes or corn into the water as well. Just saying: Waste not, want not.

    Good to hear that your tanks are filling up! The tanks are chocko full here right now and that is so odd for this time of year. Who knows what winter will bring? Certainly it will be interesting.



  5. Hi Inge,

    The media’s portrayal of the coronavirus story leaves much to be desired and it could well do with some solid comparisons to other risks that we run day to day. Your suggestion is as good as any that I’ve heard, and certainly the virus appears to me to being used as a good smoke screen for economic contraction.

    I read in the business section of the newspaper today that our two main overseas carriers are dropping unprofitable routes, and using the situation as a bargaining chip with the pilots union. Over the years I’ve met a few pilots, and the union folks get paid much better than the non-union folks. Although I wouldn’t suggest that in my opinion, my own professional body concerns itself overly with businesses of my size.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Well I never! The Shogun story was just too good not to have been put to film, but a TV mini-series was perhaps why I missed it way back in the day. Might have to remedy that one. And how funny was your observation about the front cover? You are like super bad, but I totally get where you are coming from! Hehe!

    The daimyō make their appearance in other cultures too. It is a recurring theme in history, and they inevitably fail due to greed and in the very end softness of character. To this very day, I had no idea that the story was very loosely based on the real world character: William Adams. What a life that bloke lead and to have achieved such status in a foreign land he would have had sharp wits and been a formidable opponent.

    Tom Cruise is good actor, although I have seen some dodgy footage of him on other topics over the years, but the guy can act. Your Hoollyrood folks are getting a bit thin on bankable actors.

    Yeah, might try checking out the Library of Congress before the next major rip off of a blog title – or then again maybe not. I’m genuinely relieved to know that titles are exempt from the dreaded copyricht laws. Awful things sent to beat poor innocent folks over the head who just want to write for enjoyments sake. As a theoretical experiment, what say if a poor author had become creatively bankrupt and yet they required but a catchy title with which to complete their magnum opus, but then they weren’t allowed to? A truly horrid state of affairs. Thank Gawd that titles are exempt! 😉

    The ‘A way out’ title is a goodie. Have you ever been in one of those garden mazes (or certain Sweedish (sic) stores) and looked for an exit? That is what that title brings to mind, but then the more pragmatic title has much to suggest itself as aligning hard lessons learned with your group. I’d go for the latter title too if I had to choose between the two.

    Lewis, you sounded just like Dirty Harry there, although the character had a mildly different persona as I can’t really recall that the character frequented a library? It may have been possible that it happened, but I strongly doubt it. 🙂

    Don’t knock the cover art, I have quite the collection of 1950’s and 1960’s pulp fiction from one of my favourite authors: Jack Vance, and the cover art is a real hoot. Most of the time the cover art bears little relation to the words contained therein, but whatever sells I guess. I’ll bet it annoyed the daylights out of the authors.

    Still, there is a note of judgement about your predilections in your library pimps observation.

    Oh yeah, I recall the Christmas saver clubs too. One of the banks down here has a long established program of getting into schools and access to the kids. What is it called now… … Time to get Dollarmites out of schools. The Jesuits may have made similar observations about kids back in the day.

    The media sometimes believes that they set the narrative. In recent years there have been landslide election wins that in the media were called as close contests. If I was that wrong at work, I’d probably get sacked.

    How did the drip tray plumbing quick fix work after a few hours? The noise would drive me bonkers. Years ago I knew of a household where the residents thought they were too good to replace the batteries in the smoke alarm. And the device used to continuously beep all day and night. I recharge the smoke alarm batteries at every official turn in the season. Most people use disposable batteries which is such a wasteful system that who knows what to think of it.

    Hehe! Yes, both good points and it is a shame that your old school dentist has now retired. We have discussed before the old school GP down here who appears to have recently retired. He was OK that bloke. The new ones keep trying to flog pathology tests, which to my ears sounds a bit too much like: Do you want fries with that?

    There is logic to Eleanor’s logic, but I’m now confused. Is the dog being walked an hour earlier now that you have disappeared an hour? HRH is of a sturdy breed, and probably knows what the actual time is based on the position of the sun in the sky. Out of curiosity, did HRH’s walkies time change with the turn of the seasons?

    The horizontal wallaby damaged quince tree was moved today. Along with two other similarly maltreated olive trees. They were all huge and had massive root systems. It took most of the day to extract them from the soil and then to replant them elsewhere. I have no desire to plant out advanced trees. The holes they went into were huge and took ages to dig. Me feeling it tonight.



  7. Hi DJ,

    Exactly. I’ll bet if you looked into it, more people have been killed on your roads in accidents this year than have died from the coronavirus. The reporting of this one is very weird. I hope they don’t know something that we don’t know, like folks recovering from the virus eventually turn into zombies and begin hankering for brains? Imagine that!

    My understanding of this virus is that it produces a form of viral pneumonia, but not everyone gets to that stage. And viral pneumonia can’t be treated with antibiotics and it worse than bacterial pneumonia. But the folks getting to that stage, are usually compromised health wise in some other way. Look, I’m no expert and can only repeat what I’ve heard from reliable sources, but at this stage more people die from the influenza virus by a considerable margin, and nobody seems the least bit concerned by that.

    Oh! Frost nip sounds very unpleasant, and sensitive feet sounds like the awful fate of the original “The Little Mermaid” cautionary tale. Mate, we use our feet all of the time, so that would have been a solid reminder to not do such an act again?

    Haha! Oh that’s good: Brain Drain. I can see that. 🙂 Those are great titles, unfortunately titles are exempt from copyright. Hey, for a while there it was starting to sound a bit like Planet of the Apes. Loved the ending of the first film too. Good stuff.

    I’m surprised nobody has trialed the Powerful Owls over in New Zealand to deal with the possum problem. Makes you wonder if people balked at bringing in new critters to deal with the other new brought in critters.

    The urban sprawl is going on here too. Melbourne is a vast city sprawling over a huge area. There are calls to increase high density living and now some of the inner urban areas are being inundated with high rise developments which eat away (like zombies) at the areas character. Can’t say I’m a fan, but I probably would have put a stop on such population increases although it would be unpopular. We live on a finite planet and there are only so many resources to go around.

    Ah, of course your experience may be different to mine as I work for small business, and things move fast there which I like. I’ve been speaking on and off with Lewis about the change in culture at dog shelters and perhaps a bit of how did he put it? Make work, is going on there? Dunno. Look, you just have to ride it out, that’s life. The only people who would celebrate you leaving, are the folks who would benefit from your reduced benefits.

    We are definitely on the same page there with picking and choosing which approach to take. Sometimes, order is called for, other times a touch of organic, and yet other times let’s go total random! Top work and respect for getting it!

    All of the systems held up well under the rain, and it was at the higher end of rainfall for a day. Such rainfall is a common enough experience that the systems have to take it into account. And even then, systems fail under the strain. I can’t even begin to imagine how such things play out on a larger scale. Probably not well.

    Good stuff with the late winter relaxation and celebration of all things compost. I hope you were dreaming of the nice spring weather to come?

    The pups have just about outgrown that particular wedge tail eagle risk. They grow so fast – and eat a huge amount of food.

    The mock orange is from a huge genus of shrubs in your country. Today I moved the horizontal quince tree that the wallaby had pulled over as well as two other even bigger olive trees that were also getting some attention from the marsupials. It was a mammoth job and by late afternoon I was truly grateful for it to be finished.

    Note to self: Buy-toilet-paper and don’t-buy-advanced-trees! 🙂

    Hope the trip to the shops was uneventful.



  8. Hi, Chris!

    Not everybody has boulders to mess up their straight lines. Besides, your place is so charming because of the variability.

    I love the shot of the crazy pups in the solar panel photo. You aren’t kidding they are growing fast. Is that a white elephant on Plum’s chest?

    I don’t think Ollie is just impressed in the photos. I think he is taking credit.

    What a nice bottle holder. And what a delicious dinner!

    A not-fuschia fuschia; that messes up the eponymousisity. Or does it mess up something else, besides my knowledge of the English language?

    We have our watering system (a bunch of hoses . . .) set up in the garden again. We shouldn’t be getting too much more freezing weather at night.

    There is a rather fun movie, if one can find it, whose plot is:

    “A Matter of WHO is a 1961 British comedy thriller film directed by Don Chaffey and starring Terry-Thomas as a World Health Organization employee trying to trail the source of a deadly virus.”

    I’ll watch anything with Terry-Thomas.


  9. Hello Chris
    I live at the dodgy end of my country road or as I say ‘at the wrong side of the tracks’. Have just been told of the lovely phrase ‘The effluent and the affluent’. I don’t think that the owner/builder of the huge property nearby (work still going on) realises that it is in the wrong place. Rumour has it that it has been sold but I see know sign of that yet.
    I don’t like site lines so have turned most of the straight tracks through the woods into bendy tracks. My property only becomes visible when one is almost there.
    Statistics on the number of people who catch diseases are indeed bound to be nonsense as they won’t include those who recover without going near the medical profession. Polls also as I remember my mother working for a poll and telling me how much of the stuff is made up at home.
    To get back to the intended topic of this blog; my rhubarb is starting to appear and so are a few potato shoots.


  10. Yo, Chris – People who make those backhanded comments, probably don’t lay awake on their sheepskin rugs (or, whatever) and wonder why they don’t have any friends.

    I think the majority of gardeners strive for neat and tidy. Straight rows of this or that. I’ve mentioned that I have a few short rows, but mostly, just plop stuff down in any open space. While keeping an eye to height and sunlight. I try to balance large stuff, a bit. Two tomatoes opposite each other in the garden, with the single Brussels Sprout, forward of them, but in the middle. But the raised bed. 2 1/2 feet (almost a whole meter!) out of line? How have you managed to sleep, all these years? 🙂 . Yup. There’s always goodies hiding in the brush. I kept finding more green beans and green peppers, long after the initial harvest. Speaking of green on green, I found two (!) pea pods, yesterday. I guess the pollinators have finally made an appearance.

    Those pickles make my mouth pucker. In a good way. Nothing so tasty as some good pickles. I made about a gallon of 5 bean salad (with carrots! Why not?) yesterday. I’ll be eating off it for days.

    Patent that water bottle holder idea. Your fortune is made!
    I’ve seen books of Victorian farm gizmos, that made life just a little more convenient. All easily made with items to hand.

    Your dog to picture ratio is a bit down. Work on that. 🙂 .

    Those almonds will be very tasty. It will be interesting to see what the Irish strawberry trees fruit looks like. In the wild. And what they taste like. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a white fuchsia. Or are they cream? Or, ivory? Cont.

  11. Cont. (And, now, back to our regularly scheduled programing…)

    I was reading over DJ and your shoulder … I had a bit of frost bite, once. Back in the late 80s. I was in Portland, and didn’t realize that I was in the middle of an ice storm, coming out of the Gorge. Waiting for a bus, that was late. That night, I was getting ready to go out, and discovered when I ran my hairbrush down the side of my head … well, it was like it wasn’t there. No feeling from crown to tip of ear. It lasted for about a year. Just the oddest feeling.

    Some places try “urban growth boundaries.” Throw a ring around the cities, and development is curtailed. Portland is an example. But, in practice, the development jumps the boundaries, and just makes for longer commutes. And, density, in the city, increases. See also: Land Use Planning.

    I was lucky enough to watch the series, “Shogun,” with a Japanese young lady that I knew. Long story. Any-who, she was a bit slow, on the translation. She said the series was very authentic, as they were speaking a really old dialect of Japanese. She said it was similar to our grasp of Shakespeare. From what I’ve read, Daimyos (warlords?) were pretty on the ball. It was their sons and grandsons who were greedy and had a softness of character. Mileage may very. Reminds me of some modern family businesses. Will Adams was an interesting character. There have actually been several novels, based on his life. I think there were a few other foreigners, who followed similar paths.

    Cover art for books can be pretty collectible. There were some science fiction books, I sold on line, where I mentioned the cover artist. There’s a whole collectible area called GGA (Good Girl Art) which is mostly pulp paperbacks from the 40s and 50s. If you do a search on E-Bay, you can see some examples. Family friendly? Well, it’s what we used to call “titillating.” More suggestive, than graphic. Cheesecake. (Not to be confused with Beefcake, which appeals to some ladies.)

    Interesting article. Our banks have pulled similar shinannigans. We’ll send Liz Warren right down, and she’ll get you sorted :-).

    Actually, the sound of the water hitting the drip tray, is less loud than a fall all the way to the tub. I was laying in wait for our building manager this morning, and the plumbers will be back at 8am, tomorrow. Good thing. I’m now losing 25 gallons of hot water, per hour. Even though it was 28F (-2.22C) last night, I slept with my bedroom window open a crack, to vent out some of the moisture. It’s not REAL bad, but you notice it when you walk in the bathroom. Not quit as bad as a post shower, but, noticeable.

    No matter the season, or time change, I’m all for just sticking to the time on the clock. Doesn’t seem to phase HRH. Seasons don’t seem to make a difference.

    I know it’s hard to let go of a plant, but I don’t know about moving around all the trees and veg. I’d be tempted to call it a bad deal, and plant something new. But, you’ve got a grip on your own time and energy levels. Your a better man than me, McDuff. Lew

  12. Chris:

    On my weekly Monday run into town I kept my eyes open for empty shelves in the supermarkets. The toilet paper shelves were full – apparently Americans don’t know that we need 42 rolls per person to be covered (thank you Lew) – but the shelves of cleaners, especially “sanitizing wipes”, were about three-quarters empty. The bleach shelves were about half empty.

    Everyone in town seemed to be in a good mood in spite of the fact that the whole country had a bad sleep last night with the time change. The weather was perfect and the whole town of Charlottesville is a mass of white blossoms from all the Bradford pear trees. Those are ornamental, with tiny inedible fruits.

    I happened to see an agapanthus root (?) for sale and he now lives at my house. He cost me $6.00.


  13. Hi Chris,

    Having dug up and removed the asparagus plants out of a bed some years back, I recall the size (and woodiness) of their roots. Respect to you for moving such large and gnarly plants; yours appear to have been older and larger than the ones I removed.

    In my case I removed them because they weren’t being used enough to retain them. One of the very few foods that Mike does not favor is asparagus. I enjoy a few spears every so often, but they are not high on my list of preferred vegetables. Thus I had too many plants to match the rate at which I was willing to eat them, a situation that I remedied through removal. So far I have not missed them enough to put in another plant. To each his/her own – and the rest of you are more than welcome to my portion of the world asparagus crop.

    Breaking garden news: we saw a groundhog ( for the first time in the back yard, unnervingly close to the vegetable garden. Said groundhog was feeding just south of the shed, which, because it is situated on sloped ground, is raised slightly above ground level, leaving a space that we figured some critter would use for a burrow someday. We think the groundhog may have spent the winter under the shed, which is the warmest and driest location in the yard. Whether it stays there or not as spring arrives is the question, as they are reputed to be serious garden pests – and I will begin planting the garden late this month. Advice from other readers familiar with groundhogs and their habits is welcome!

    I have to admit that I have taken straight lines to an extreme in the garden and to some extent in the yard around it. The garden is planted in straight rows because it makes it easy for me to calculate the area planted to each crop and thus conduct garden research. The trees are also planted in rows, also to make yield per square foot calculations easier. Not having an artist’s eye, I wasn’t able to imagine how the rows of trees would look as they grew. It’s not particularly attractive. However, the perennial bed near the street is not patterned. Perhaps that introduces a more pleasing nonlinear aspect to the garden’s appearance? I can hope.

    The earliest daffodils are now blooming! We’ve experienced warmer than normal weather this winter and so far in March. I hope it won’t induce the apple trees to flower too early. I’ve pretty much given up on decent apricot, peach, and plum crops so no real loss if their flowers succumb to frost, and persimmons and pawpaws always flower late enough to avoid them. Apples usually, but not always, bloom late enough to miss being frosted off. If the apple trees bloom before early to mid April there is a good chance that a late frost will kill the flowers.


  14. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! It’s not my natural inclination to landscape organically – and that large rock, it would have been heaps of fun to blow it up. Alas, we all must fight the good fight, and learn to live with the land that is before us all. Just a little bit of blowing up the rock wouldn’t have hurt anyone…

    I loved the photo too, and they are leaping through the air with the greatest of ease. Can you believe they can keep up such energy levels all day long? At night they sleep soundly.

    Please do not besmirch Ollie’s good character. He is a gentleman of the highest order, and would never dare stoop as low as stealing credit. However he might pinch Scritchy’s breakfast though if she turns her back due to puppy distractions.

    The bottle holder was a neat idea, and the agricultural shows are always full of good ideas. I saw some chaps at a chainsaw vendor there too and was thinking they’d be handy. I do so get sick of chainsaw shavings getting into my boots and sticking to my socks. The result is a bit like the old school version of the story of the Little Mermaid. Ouch!

    Who can forget the most excellent word: Eponymous, and it is a must know word for fans of the band REM. Have you just outed yourself as a fan of this alternative rock band? 🙂

    Do you grow Globe Artichokes?

    You know spring has arrived when you have to set up the watering systems. Years ago I read that most of our Western table vegetables originated in fertile river flats. They don’t need much water, but they can’t grow without it. There is a conundrum in there somewhere.

    Thank you very much for the introduction to the actor. How good is this critique: “his portrayal of crass stupidity and blatant deviousness struck a chord with British audiences”. St Trinians? Well I never.



  15. Hi Inge,

    Me too, and some of the other undocumented benefits from living on the wrong side of the tracks (in the unfashionable end as I like to believe) is that cyclists and leaf change tourists are rarely seen. Such folk know that their time is better spent at the more fashionable end of our respective locales. 😉

    The phrase is a goodie, and no I have not encountered it before. Spare a thought for the affluent as they have to deal with never ending streams of cyclists and hordes of leaf change tourists. The true undocumented perils of living in the fashionable end of things. What do they say about stature and responsibility going hand in hand?

    You never know, a lot of rural properties get sold without much fanfare, and that is how things go. At the end, the bush telegraph always find out the truth.

    A gnome was added to the fern gully today. Blame Lewis, he has mentioned the need on and off for many years. Like your forest paths, the gnome can only be seen from certain angles. The neighbours are invisible here too. When you arrive, you disappear into the forest, and I find that effect to be pleasing.

    Pollsters have to put food on the table too, so temptation gets in the way of reality. It is just how it is sometimes. I bear them no ill will, but neither would I employ them.

    Surely you are putting words into my mouth? Hehe! Other than having a regular chat with Lewis, the blog goes in no particular direction at all. Being a bit cheeky, I’d suggest that where we are, is where we are. Is this a good thing? Who knows? Although, I have themes which are best described as personal bugbears – whatever they are meant to be. It is complicated. Years ago I used to believe that I was a fairly simple bloke, now with a bit more experience under my belt, I’m honestly not so sure. Is that a bad thing though? As always you ask the hardest of the hard questions.



  16. Hi Pam (you turned up a second time!),

    Who knew that 42 rolls was the desired number? All who now have less (or more as the case may be) shall live in true fear. It’s a real problem!

    Hehe! Yup the exact same thing is going on here too. I wonder why people feel no such fear about the influenza virus. The person I caught that nasty little critter from in a work place many years ago made the comment to me on the day that they felt like their throat was full of razor blades. Is this a good thing I ask you?

    Good to hear that good cheer is bouncing along nicely. Ornamental pear trees are a fave. Beautiful trees and so hardy to the worst conditions that nature can chuck at them. Any tree that can survive flooding and drought must have Triffid genes.

    Well done you and a truly top score with the crown. 🙂



  17. Hi Claire,

    Many thanks for mentioning the seed raising book from Rodale. It is a beautifully written book and I’m enjoying it immensely, and am now almost half way through it and have learned much. At the conclusion of the book, I might have to look into how things used to be done way back in the day, and then compare that to the suggestions in the book. Do you have any suggestions regarding the old timey seed raising techniques?

    The monster asparagus plant may have been five or six years old and it was true behemoth of a plant. Removing it from the soil was a right pain, and so far the spears seem to be alive in its new location. Thus why I put off the job for what may have been too many years. The conditions are perfect here now for relocating trees and smaller plants. The soil is warm and damp, but not too wet and the recent heavy rains recharged the soil with water to a considerable depth. Yay! More rain on Friday night / Saturday morning too. Those are very unusual conditions for this time of year at this location.

    As a comparison, we eat asparagus quite a lot during the growing season, and possibly daily. It is very tasty grilled with a touch of olive oil, some herbs, and a bit of pepper. Yum! You’re absolutely right though, growing the plants is one aspect, knowing what to do with them, how to preserve them, and whether you even enjoy the taste of the plants, is a really complicated business.

    I’d joke about it being Groundhog day in your garden, but somehow it doesn’t seem funny. Alas, I have no experience with such critters. The rats have been a sore trial over the years with their tunnelling efforts, and they are not to be lightly dismissed. Have you considered installing some owl nesting boxes? The owls work the forests here, and they do a pretty thorough job, thus the efforts the rats spend to get into the safe chicken enclosure at night.

    Haha! The editor has a background in science in biology before moving across to accounting, so no need to explain. I get it, and am likewise guilty of being too neat and orderly. There are now three distinct orchards (the third being established this week from fruit tree transplants) here and this latest incarnation more or less follows a grid pattern, so yeah, well met and all that! The other two orchards are fairly random plantings.

    Yay for the daffodils as the heralds of spring. Hey, the early flowering trees (excluding almonds) are very chancy here too. It is a sad thing to witness a fruit tree full of flowers succumbing to a late frost. But then, I suspect gardeners like pushing the boundaries. 😉



  18. Hi Lewis,

    You’re probably right there as the guy had an underlying aggressive streak, which I only ever saw flashes of, and they were directed at other people, but I was mildly uncomfortable about those. And alcohol seemed to lower the blokes ability to mask his underlying emotional state. We stopped speaking due to the World of Warcraft debacle, although admittedly it is very hard to hold a conversation with folks who are far and away into another abstract land. Lost a lot of friends to that game, and they immersed themselves in it night after night, but after three years I found the upper limits of my patience, and so just went off and did something else with my time. The appeal of the game I’m guessing is that it is an escape from the everyday, but real life ain’t so bad. Get with the times was their motto, it just didn’t much appeal. They might still be playing the game, but nowadays at least I can choose when to landscape in straight lines or an organic pattern. 😉

    Yours is a wise strategy, because the more I read about plants, the less I’m convinced that anyone really understands the relationships in a garden between the various plants, critters and soil. What you are doing is replicating nature, and nature is rarely neat and tidy.

    It was a burden, that is all that needs saying on the matter. Hehe! The weather conditions are perfect for moving plants. Warm soil which is damp but not too wet, and so minor corrections are called for. The establishment of a small third orchard using relocated advanced trees is part of that story.

    You have long mentioned the need for gnomes in the fern gully. No, don’t try and pretend otherwise! So, your advice has been heeded and a gnome was placed in there. Plus the editor returned with a rather grumpy looking gargoyle. Every garden needs a gargoyle, and it may be placed next to the Chinese guard dog at the top of a set of stairs in the garden. Why are gnomes always doing naughty things? Their poses are quite telling. Anywhoo best not to annoy the elder folk of the forest.

    Yummo! Multi-bean salad is a fave, and the longer it mildly ferments, the tastier it gets. The pickles are really tasty, and they brighten up a winters lunch.

    Hehe! Yes, yes, I’d like to think so too. However I saw the idea on an old restored army jeep on display at the agricultural expo. It was an ingenious idea. As a laugh I read somewhere years ago that there was a widely held belief in the community that more cup holders in vehicles equated with a safer vehicle. Things that make you go hmm.

    It is interesting you mention that about the Victorian farm gizmos, but the place here gets easier to live, and more productive with each passing year. However, the systems don’t get more complicated, they get more, what is the correct word that I’m reaching for here, hmm, is finicky the right way to put it? Dunno. But it takes a lot of mucking around and know how to run a smooth sailing ship.

    Thank you for the correction on the low dog ratio photos. Yes, one can only but do their best when in trying circumstances. Did you not notice the image of Ollie being dutiful, whilst the two sheep dog ratbags were leaping through the air? Hehe! I’m not sure whether I tire them out, or they tire me out. They need more sleep though.

    Oh yeah, fresh almonds are really tasty and have a creamy flavour to them. There must be some sort of treatment applied to commercial almonds in order to get them to dry quicker, but they do taste very differently to my palate.

    The Irish Strawberry tree fruits, and apparently the fruit is edible, it just tastes like cardboard to my palate. The first corn cob of the season is now on the dinner plate. It didn’t fully fill out (about 90% covered in kernels), but that is probably a result of the poor germination rate in the bitingly cold spring. For a heritage variety it is very sweet. The variety is a bit over a century old. Some of the kernels have a whitish appearance which is expected.

    Yours and Damo’s recommendation of the film “Leave no trace” put it on the to-see list. I really enjoyed the story, and the acting was top notch. Your mention of frost bite recalled the Washington forest adventure of the two protagonists. It was surprising to see that informal networks had sprung up in response to gaps in the more formal networks. And also the film portrayed nobody in a good/bad dichotomy, as even the social workers looked pretty genuinely concerned. The background images of the built landscape were a shocking contrast to the forest.

    That took place here in the big smoke. There is a huge green wedge zone ring fencing the city and outer suburbs. Except that development sneaks past that and spreads. It is just not possible to add an additional million souls to the city in only a decade and not expect there to be pressures.

    Didn’t the English aristocracy send their kids off to trusted vassals for years and years to act as page boys and maids in waiting? That act alone would have kicked some sense and humility into the possibly useless second and third generations. And it is interesting you mentioned William Adams and the other foreigners in Japan at the time, but there was mention that just one other foreigner had been accorded the status of Samurai. There is a story in there too.

    I’d never heard the term Cheesecake before. Funny stuff! Hehe! There is a certain art to portraying suggestibility. It is a sad thing that our civilisation appears to have gone too far in the other direction. A bit of middle ground would be good, but I suspect people pushing at boundaries will always swing things back and forth to the polar extremes.

    The banks are always pushing away at the margins too. 😉 Please excuse the dodgy financial pun.

    Such a rate of water loss would empty my water tanks in about two months. There would be much wailing and gnashing of teeth! Wise to moderate the humidity a bit, but far out does it have to be so cold when you took that action? Brr!

    Makes you wonder how the whole daylight savings thing came to be? Some states down here resist it. HRH is probably more sensible than all of us combined!

    Mate, I don’t really know the right thing to do on that score. There is a mode of thinking which is employed to assist coming to decisions upon such matters: Am I considering that a project or system is a problem that needs attending to; and are the conditions right with which to address the project or system?



  19. Hi Al,

    Thanks for understanding.

    The latest JHK book is meant to be here later in the week, but in this day and age, who knows how that will work out in reality? I’d sort of suspect that it is coming from offshore and that is a bit of a minor problem right now. Glad to read that you are enjoying the book.

    The World Made by Hand was a fave for me too, and every now and then I take the series out and re-read it. The book has a pleasant side effect in that I begin speaking a bit like Brother Jobe – and I always find that to be amusing. I like the characters can-do attitude as it resonates with me.

    Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. You have a strong disposition. 🙂 Haven’t read it myself, did you just recommend it? And I try to savour the words in the story so as to get a good feel for the story and characters. Anyway, too much non-fiction reading makes for a weight upon a personality. You should try reading the dry technical stuff I’m forced to read – the gap between that and industrial mechanical and technical person is not far at all…

    Exactly, I’ve been learning over the years how to go about sharpening drill bits. It is not as easy a task as you’d think. The deburring is a good idea, and I always use riggers gloves and goggles. One trip to an eye specialist many long years ago to remove a tiny chunk of steel is all anyone needs to suffer to take PPE seriously.

    No worries at all about the copper bus bars. I knew a bloke years back that made them out of thick copper pipe. They won’t work for me because of the crazy arrangement of the batteries. I neglected to understand the architects drawings of the battery room properly and it is only just big enough. A little bit more room would have made a world of difference. I guess that is how you learn.

    Incidentally I use solid copper buss bars for connecting up the various cables. They have very high current ratings – think 200A – when no other connectors do.



  20. Claire:

    We have had groundhog trouble for years. Since they can dig – and even climb, up to a point – the only way we have been able to get rid of them is to catch them in a Havahart humane trap and take them far, far away to the most uninhabited area we can get to. It would not be nice to foist a groundhog off on someone else.

    We didn’t learn this immediately and Arnie the Groundhog ate most of our garden before we got tough. Last year, Arnie, Jr. showed up about this time and we caught him before he even got into the garden.

    Best of luck to you in dealing with yours.


  21. Chris:

    I think my son may have chaps to wear when he’s chainsawing. He has some get-up. He hasn’t had it on lately and I don’t remember.

    I always was an REM fan . . .

    No, I don’t grow globe artichokes, but I love them.

    I had never heard of St. Trinian’s; it sounds funny.

    How lovely that you have a gnome, and also a gargoyle. I don’t have those, but I have a rain gauge that has a cat with an umbrella and a bird. And I have a metal butterfly that dangles.
    Neither has been weedwacked yet, but it is only a matter of time.


  22. Hello again
    I have always found that those who describe themselves as ‘simple blokes’ are anything but.
    The fact that your blog goes any which way is wonderful and is why I am here and look forward to it and the comments. Long may you continue.
    Son was shopping today and found the supermarket bereft of biscuits!


  23. Yo, Chris – We’re having our garden meeting, this morning, to divide up the plots. Depending on the plumbers, I might have to just nip in and out. Rumors of changes, and, I’ll get it all second hand.

    There’s another rumor about (more than a rumor) that we’re going into semi-lockdown, due to the virus. I think they put off the memo, one day, to get past the gardener’s meeting. It’s a reduce contact, order, and all activities will be canceled.

    The Editor must have stumbled into the Naughty Gnome Store, by mistake. Didn’t she see the “adults only”, signs? 🙂 Ohhhhh! Pictures of the gnome and gargoyle! King collaborated on a book, years ago, that was his text and pictures of gargoyles. I’ve got a copy, kicking around, somewhere.

    Speaking of farm gizmos, I’ve got a copy of Rodale’s “Build It Better Yourself.” It came out during the back to the land movement in the early 70’s. It resurrected many of the Victorian tips and tricks. A real door stop of a book. I see lots of copies, kicking around. Usually for just $2 or $3 bucks.

    I did miss the pups in the lower right hand corner of the solar photo. I only saw the formal portrait :-). And maybe someone slinking among the cucumbers? They’ve got Rorschack Tests on their chests! I see a … man, smoking a pipe, riding a bicycle.

    I’m glad you liked “Leave No Trace.” Where is that camp!? I want to move there! Alas, fiction, I guess. I was quit interested in the aerial tram, in Portland. Part of their transit system, I gather. Missed that, somewhere along the way. Why go to Disneyland? There are rumors of “bush vets”, up in the hills of the eastern end of our county.

    As far as not revealing everything, old exotic dancers, at least the successful ones, knew to “always leave them wanting more.”

    Speaking of banks, there was an article yesterday, about Well’s Fargo, here. This has been dragging on, for years.

    Waiting for Godot. Waiting for the plumbers. Lew

  24. PS: Great minds, etc. I notice we both recommended Richter’s series, over at Mr. Greer’s. Just a couple of post, apart. Cosmic! Lew

  25. Hi Chris,

    Excellent question about how old timers started seedlings, before the advent of plastic and bagged soil-less mixtures. Not having any old garden books to hand, however, I cannot say just how they did it. I can tell you that there is another book, How to Grow More Vegetables (etc – very long title) by John Jeavons, published by Ten Speed Press, which also has seed starting info in it that I blend with the Rodale Press book info. It might be another book to add to your collection.

    In my copy of the 8th edition (the current edition is the 9th), the indoor seed starting info is in Chapter 5. It looks as if it is borrowed from older gardening lore as it includes dimensions for making seed starting flats from wooden boards, how to make soil in which to raise the seeds from a mix of garden soil and compost, and how to plant the seeds and grow the seedlings so they can go from the wooden flats into the garden.

    If you do this, note that the full size flat shown on page 80 when filled with moist soil is very heavy! I had Mike make me the 3 inch tall half size flats shown on page 81 because they are much easier for me to handle. Those are the flats I employ to start seeds on the front porch.

    Regarding the flat soil, I use a higher ratio of compost to garden soil than HTGMV suggests: 2 parts compost to 1 part garden soil. For flats containing tomato, pepper, and eggplant seedlings, I add worm castings to the mix above in the ratio 8 parts mix to 1 part worm castings. The worm castings add the extra nitrogen that these seedlings require for good growth.

    The other bit of advice I use from this chapter is the spacing frame made from chicken wire, to space out the seedlings in the flat. I don’t have a frame around the chicken wire, however; I just lay a piece of raw chicken wire that is bigger than the flat on top of it. I find it too fussy to put just one seed into each hexagon as the book suggests (and it would require more flats than I want to deal with).

    To plant seeds into the flat, I made a small depression in the flat soil in the middle of each hexagon and drop 3 to 5 seeds into the hole, cover the seeds with some soil, label the rows (typically I plant several short rows into a single half size flat with each row having a different kind of seed in it, so I need to mark the rows in some way to keep track of who is who), and water the flat from the bottom before I put it where the seeds will grow. I sow the flats according to whether the seeds in them need heat to germinate well. Flats with seeds needing heat to germinate go on top of a heat mat. Flats whose seeds can germinate in March conditions on the front porch go wherever I have space for them on the porch.

    The book suggests pricking-out seedlings from one flat to another at a wider spacing to allow them to grow to size before transplanting. This also seems like it reflects older gardening lore, before plastic cell flats became available. But I don’t do this because it would require a lot of heavy flats to find space for and to carry to the garden for planting. Instead, when the seedlings have 2 sets of true leaves, I prick them out into either 72 or 36 cell plastic flats depending on how big the seedling will get before I transplant it. I find the plastic flats much easier to handle at this stage. The dibbler shown on page 83 is handy for the pricking-out process. I wedge it gently under the roots of a group of seedlings; then I gently separate the seedlings and plant however many I need for the garden plus some extra into individual cells. By now I know when to start the seeds so that when the plants in the plastic cell flats are about ready to grow too large for the flats, it is time to plant them in the garden. That took several years of trial and error, lots of error, to determine.

    Hope this helps!

  26. High Kris
    I’m assuming that the always anonymous and invisible Editor has been been “read into”the World made by Hand books.
    Your Au accented version of Bro Jobe strikes me as very amusing 😂.

    Yes Kris it is my recommendation that you read The Road.
    Mc Carthy intended that it go to Film.
    The last time I watched it was on a 720 video headset that projects the image right on your retinas without visible pixels.
    Emotional enhancement! To the max!!

    My Dad had a metal lathe and a drill press which I was allowed to use unsupervised at age 14. Drill sharpening was not in my skill set until the availability of Drill Doctor version 2. Much Much later. I have been tempted To get the current step up version but Even with my poor Mad Cash history I have resisted the purchase. Repeat Drill Dr Good. Drill Dr Good.

    From a bus bar manufacturer: when using a battery terminal bolted attachment ,under bolt head, spring lock washer. Next, bronze / copper flat into top of buss bar. Next threaded into center hole of battery terminal torqued to specified tightness. Intended to minimize bolt carried current and heating of the bolt. The remainder of the buss bar volume is available to carry current in and out of battery and distributed equipment. Or so they say.🤨


  27. Hi Chris,
    Glad that Ruby is doing well around chickens. Different jobs for different dogs. When I looked at the photo of Plum and Ruby sitting side by side all I could think was “double trouble”. They are awfully cute though. How is the house training going?

    My sister, Kathleen, has Crohn’s for decades. Right now she primarily received palliative care by her choice. She’s been able to cut way back on meds and is able to keep things mostly under control and tolerable. She also has a mental illness supposedly bi-polar but now she said her psychiatrist has changed his mind and says it’s mostly depression. She’s also off almost all “head meds” as she calls them and I think she’s improved considerably. She used to be quite difficult to be around but that has changed though since my life circumstances have changed too I imagine I’m more patient. She’s had more than her share to deal with during her life.

    Macular degeneration and cataracts are not advanced much at all so I’ll just do my best to take care of my eyes and get check ups. I’ve had bad night vision since in my 40’s which only gets worse so I drive very little at night anymore.

    Had to laugh about Doug and housework. He’s doesn’t do too much but then he has other ongoing jobs so it works out pretty well. He does take apart the oven and stove for cleaning as well as the stove vent which gets pretty greasy. When we were both working and kids were at home we had the housework divided more equally. When either of the girls were in trouble and needed a consequence of some sort he would assign them his housekeeping chores.

    I’ve seen the Shogun miniseries and read the book long ago and enjoyed both. I also read “The Road”. Talk about a dark book. I was surprised when it was a pick for Oprah’s bookclub as it didn’t fit at all with her other choices (that wasn’t why I read it).

    Accountants and straight lines – I can see that. One of my other sisters is a CPA. When we were kids most of us had lots of junk in messy rooms. She had just as much stuff but it was neatly organized into categories and all clothes were folded. Yet another sister and I would, for our amusement, burst into her room, open her drawer of neatly folded socks, pull them all out and throw them at her. The look on her face was priceless.

    That last mentioned sister, who lived in Chicago, reported yesterday that if anyone coughs or sneezes while on public transportation people try to move away and shoot nasty looks. More and more things are getting cancelled as well but mostly in the city so far.

    Yours in toilet paper,

  28. @Lew
    I imagine most people with Crohn’s are laying low. My sister isn’t on any treatment right now but just from the treatments in the past her immune system isn’t too strong.

    She doesn’t doll herself up but she’s meticulously neat and she’s not even an accountant.

    Reading with interest the saga of the dripping faucet and of course hope it’s resolved soon without too much disruption for you.


  29. Chris,

    I looked it up. In 2018 in the USA there were 36,560 deaths due to 33,654 fatal automobile accidents. That’s 100 fatalities per day on average. Which implies that in the 70 days of 2020, there have been 7,000 automobile fatalities in the USA.

    You and I are looking at this thing similarly. There’s something going on with the way this has turned into media fueled hysteria.

    The Princess and I spent yesterday searching, hunting, scavenging, for more toilet paper. We are short of having 42 rolls in reserve. Perhaps the coronavirus version of being a zombie: the corona zombie eats toilet paper? And therefore everyone who is overstocking on toilet paper is already infected? We found nothing but empty shelves. Zippo. We are still devastated today. Well, not really. We had family from out of town show up and had a wonderful visit in our home and never went anywhere.

    Make work? Mate, I work for government. Sad to say, there’s a lot of make work there. There’s a lot of make work everywhere, for that matter. Our economy is based on it. Heck, Kunstler quipped a few years ago that the entire US economy seems to be based on the trade in tattoos.

    I’m glad your systems held up to the rain. We got an entire 8 mm over the weekend. We’re behind normal for the rain season. We are supposed to get maybe 2 or 3 cm of snow Friday night, with lows dipping for a few nights next week to near -8 C to -10C. “Winter Strikes Back” I call it. So much for my relaxed musing about spring while sitting outside the other day.

    Never made it to the shops. I arranged for Wednesday off work weeks ago, so the Princess and I will take care of shopping then. We need things like cold medicine, as I’m getting over a nasty one and depleted our supply this past week.

    So, has Ollie of the Impeccable Character trained the pups to purposely distract Scritchy so that Ollie of the Impeccable Character can poach an extra breakfast? Allegedly to be shared with the pups?


    PS: Buy more toilet paper

    Hahahaha! A reminder? Oh yeah, I’ve taken extremely good care of me feet ever since. I only have the one set of toes and if they fall off, well, I’m not a skink.

  30. Hi Pam,

    Your son is wise to use chaps, and I wear protective shin guards when using the chainsaw. Of course the old forestry bloke who spent two days in the forests not too far from here, drilled me incessantly about protective gear and using the machines in a way that doesn’t leave you injured or feeling like injury is a near possibility. I shouldn’t have been let near a chainsaw before that course, and years and years ago before that I injured my shin quite unpleasantly when a timber shard flew out from the log and hit my shin. Ouch. It may have been a minor bone fracture. Chaps are handy bits of hit.

    Pam, you are so busted. Only fans of REM, or students of the Latin language would know that particular word. Takes one to know one! 😉 Dare I suggest, What’s the frequency Pam? 🙂

    What a delightful sounding rain gauge and gardens demand ornamentation. Beats the old plastic rain gauge here. It is funny you mention that, but many months ago, the editor hedge trimmed a garden tap (known as a spigot in your country). The garden tap survived, but it still bears the scars of the encounter. The garden hose was chopped in the encounter, but fortunately it was easily repaired.



  31. Hi Inge,

    I’m so busted. Hey, the same applies for the ladies too you know. 😉 Perhaps at the time the observation about ‘simple’ was made was before enough exposure to the realities of the world (i.e. age) provided enough runs on the board to make a valid set of considerations? Other less sympathetic folks may suggest that naivety is the correct word? But when you are youngster, you fall under the spell of the tales that the adults tell you – and it is part of the journey that is life to look past those tales and make your own mind up.

    Thank you, and yes I’d hope to do so too! From week to week I hardly know what the topic will be, but usually it is drawn from a pivotal experience during the week. The world is full of stories.

    Fortunately biscuits are easily baked if one but has the ingredients. It never ceases to surprise me that peoples cooking skills are so poor. I’ve had friends peer into the contents of the kitchen cupboards here and wonder about what the heck they are looking at.

    People incessantly worry about hordes of zombies streaming out of cities, but my reading of history tells me that in rough times people move towards the city, not away from it. And most people have no idea what edible plants look like, sad to say. I can’t imagine that things are any different in your country?



  32. Hi Lewis,

    Kudos to you, as you introduced me to the series of books by Conrad Richter, and also something more about the author and how he perceived the world. I have no doubts that he would have been a difficult persona, but mate he was talented as the books read well, and taught even better. It makes you wonder if authors are touched by the books they write, even as the audience consumes them and is also likewise affected? Possibly there is a dissertation in there!

    The frogs and cicadas are chorusing tonight. It is quite the natural orchestra out there. It was a fairly warm-ish day today, and the editor and I have been enjoying a quieter week this week. Today for an extra curricular journey we visited the state Rose gardens. Wow! Imagine several acres of roses, all planted in a pattern that when viewed from above would look like a five petaled flower with emerald green grass in between the rose beds. And the scent of the combined roses was a heady scent. Victoria State Rose Garden. Really very beautiful, and we hadn’t been there for at least two decades and the gardens had come a long way since then.

    Now the gardens are attached to: Werribee Park and Mansion. Hmm, it takes a lot of sheep to produce a return that can create such a magnificent building back in the day. I guess that is why the state government now owns the building and has been slowly restoring it to its former glory. The mansion is open to the public (for a fee, although the grounds are free to wander) and it is a very impressive building. I liked poking my nose into all of the working rooms in the mansion, and you get a glimpse of how things were back in the Victorian era. However, the mansion had some serious mod-cons, and even the master bedroom had an ensuite which would have been unheard of in those days. Oh, they have a heritage orchard there which I seem to have completely missed. Next time I guess.

    The editor and I were scratching our heads and wondering wherever where the intensive vegetable gardens which fed the huge number of staff which lived at the farm back in the day. The scale of the original farm was bonkers. Thomas Chirnside established it. As we drove out the entrance gates, that was when the penny dropped. There are sprawling market gardens from that locale all the way to the ocean (which wasn’t too far away). I’m guessing those market gardens provide a lot of food to the big smoke today. I was rather alarmed to see that as we got closer to the ocean (really the bay), someone had constructed an excloo housing estate on what must have once been a market garden. Such losses are not easily replaced. Anyway, it was interesting to see the sheer scale of how things were grown there.

    Good luck and did you score well for the garden plots at the meeting? I hope that nobody has attempted to hijack your own garden plot? Picked more corn, tomatoes and artichokes for dinner this evening.

    Yeah, that seems to be the general vibe down here too. Coronavirus case closes Melbourne school as Victoria activates State Control Centre to respond to COVID-19. Are we now under martial law? I keep coming back to the question: Why?

    You are more correct than you know about the naughty gnome store, and the story is worth the telling. I believe that gargoyles add a certain gravitas to a garden. The gnome is a bit silly, but the gargoyle wards off evil doers.

    The Rodale book sounds good and I’ll keep a sharp eye out for it the next time I’m at a second-hand bookshop. Such titles are in good supply down here. Interestingly, the Rodale book I’m reading on seed starting does not discuss how the old timers went about the task. Regrets, well we’ve all had a few, and I wish that I’d listened more intently to my grandfather on such subjects because he grew up on a farm in the Depression era, and was apparently raised by his grandmother. Glimpses from afar were all I was accorded – and it will have to be good enough. He would have known a thing or two, but he rarely discussed the past.

    Hehe! Plum and Ruby were performing for the camera in that photo. Some folks crave attention, and some dogs demand it. 🙂 It is funny you mention the Rorschack Tests on their chests, and I can’t offer any interpretation on your foresight. However, I’m thinking… … OK, so the bloke smoking the pipe and riding the bicycle was expressing a deeply held desire to belong to an outlaw motorcycle gang? 🙂 Possibly I need to work on the cold reading bit before offering interpretations in the future? Button up my sleeve – hey presto! Looks like I’ve gotta get a new hat. 🙂 (Rocky and Bullwinkle quote).

    The film was really good, and it is hard to distance oneself from the system as it draws people back in again and again. The film was apparently based on a real life person. Do you get up to Oregon much, or have you in the past? The forests were beautiful places, but it would be tough to eek out a living there without good bush skills. The tall trees don’t really allow for too much light to reach the ground, and the rain would be difficult. Still, there are colder places in your country, that’s for sure.

    Very wise to leave them wanting for more, and authors can employ the same device to good effect.

    Just offering an opinion that suggest that 20 years of financial abuse may be indicative of cultural and lifestyle issues in a large corporation, but it is merely an opinion and I don’t know the situation. As far as I can understand things, the banks have only so many games to play, although the variations will appear to be endless. The Royal Commission into the financial sector uncovered dead people being charged fees for services. It is an impressive effort. I’m waiting for helicopter QE to be a response to the coronavirus madness. The interwoven commitments are a bit off the charts for my comfort levels and something has to eventually give. Of course it may also usher in some much needed debt jubilee in a round about sort of a way?

    The important question is did Godot actually turn up? And more importantly did you enjoy a good chat with Eleanor and HRH in the meantime whilst waiting for the plumber?



  33. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for the suggestion of the book. If I could but offer one minor criticism of the Rodale book, it was that the author assumed that the reader would know what was meant by the term ‘flat’. To this moment, I’m still unsure what was/is meant by the term. Glossary’s are often useful tools, as are photos or at least drawings. My mind wants to see these things and put them into some sort of context. A description alone does not suffice, but I fully expect that to be part of the learning journey.

    I’m still scratching my head about how the old timers raised seedlings, and it is possible that they did not do that practice, and simply direct sowed, but I don’t really know. I’m a bit dubious of greenhouses because by far the majority of them appear to be abandoned and/or unused – and I include poly tunnels in that description too.

    Today we visited an old mansion that is owned by the state government and open to the public. They had old hot-houses for plants, and can you imagine the energy required to keep such an energy leaky building warm all winter long?

    Heat mats and lights aren’t a drama, I just don’t quite understand how they all work together and how it should all look. Your second book recommendation appears to have addressed this need. 🙂

    I’m with you about adding in the extra component of compost to the soil as it will allow for a bit of extra feeding and more resiliency in relation to transplanting of the new seedlings.

    Space is always an issue, and it is funny you mention that because part of my learning process is trying to work out how big the system should be so that it meets the needs for seedlings. I honestly have no idea at this stage, but hopefully things will become clearer at some undefined point in the future. Maybe?

    The transplanting issue is no small matter either, and like your experience it looks like a journey of many years.



  34. Hi Margaret,

    The demeanour of the two dogs is very different. Ollie has Plum firmly under his wing, and Ollie would love nothing better than to eat the chickens. Plum has taken note of Ollie’s attitude in relation to this. Ruby has a bit more of a free-independent take on the world and is fearful of the chickens, who now happily stalk her. The boss chicken and second in command are rough customers.

    House training is not too bad, and they got that down pat in about a week and a half, although I still sometimes have to read the situation and kick them outside. When they go outside to do their business I tell them what good girls they are and make a big fuss of them. Seems to work, and they’re intelligent.

    What do they say about wisdom coming with age? I tend to believe the same thing is true of patience! Sorry to hear that Kathleen is in palliative care, but at least you two hopefully have time to simply converse and say the things that need saying, and ignore the ones that don’t need saying.

    My understanding is that most peoples eyesight degenerates after the age of 50 and continues to do so for a while until somehow settling into a new normal. Not there yet, but I can see that territory and aren’t really looking forward to it (please excuse the unintentional pun – the use of the word ‘looking’).

    Hehe! I was on cheeky factor 11 with that particular comment, but yeah houses work the way they do, and that is how it is. The funny thing we’ve discovered over the years is that the editor knows how to do stuff around the house and farm that I have absolutely no idea about, and vice-versa. I doubt that anyone could really have a good handle on all of the things that need doing on a small holding. Doug was onto something with that methodology, and there is a school of thought that suggests that he benefited from the girls being in trouble! Well done him.

    Have you ever seen the film of The Road? I haven’t seen it or read the book, but have encountered snippets here and there. Yup, dark is the word that you heard! Really, well that is a surprise – and it is good to see books being promoted in whatever manner. I applaud your book club, even if they are a tad lax in their homework. It is the intentions that are good in such circumstances.

    Margaret, you are like super bad to have done that! Dare I suggest that the Great Unfolding of socks may have meant that the patterns were no longer right!!! Hehe!

    Well the only upside I can see is the public is being provided with a first rate good lesson on basic hygiene. We’ve lost a lot of basic practices over the years. Hmm, soap and hand washing are good things as a herd response, but you know everyone wants to do their own thing – and that might not work out so well.



  35. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for looking up that awful statistic. Yeah it is not good, and also quite striking as a comparison to the dreaded coronavirus (not to dismiss it as a risk, but so far it looks like driving a vehicle is far more risky). For your info I found an article on the national road toll down here: Australian road toll up in 2019. Yeah, not good either.

    Hmm, exactly we are on the same page. As a colourful backdrop there is trouble brewing on the oil front, not to mention on a few other fronts. Anyway, did Sherlock Holmes not say to Mr Watson: “How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?” The hysteria doesn’t stack up to the numbers, but we may never know what is actually going on.

    It is best to be assured in these dire times, and Lewis did a proper augury and gave us the number for the correct amount of rolls. 42 – it sounds familiar does it not? 🙂 Like yourselves we also went to the supermarket today to pick up some goods. Anyway, they only had large packs of toilet paper, and I felt a little bit self conscious purchasing one, but we were low on such stocks anyway. Apparently there have been reports in our media about buyers remorse, and the shops have apparently disallowed returns. A wise thing.

    Zombies that eat toilet paper! Oh you’re good! Hehe!

    Glad you had an enjoyable day today with the visitors. We went to visit Werribee Park Mansion and the attached state rose garden. They were both beautiful and the weather was sweet at 30’C.

    For your info, it appears that the supermarkets are beginning to get ahead of demand.

    Haha! I recall that fine Kunstler-ism about tattoos! An astute observation. Being concerned with small business I am on the receiving end of orders for make-work from higher up the distant food chain. Red tape is a serious problem, and the layers being added on are astounding. There are now fix ups of government systems I’m having to do, that I can’t charge anyone for because they are inexplicable. It is eating away at the core of our business.

    Did you put the proverbial kiss-of-death on yourself for calling spring early, whilst enjoying the unusual late winter sunshine? Stay warm and keep out of the snow.

    Yup cold medicines are a good idea to lower your temperature if you get a fever. Whilst you are there, can I suggest you stock up on some rehydration solutions too? The salts and sugar hit from one of those can bring you back to a more normal feeling in the head if it is needed.

    I had a really bad cold late last year. Knocked me around for about three weeks and got into my chest and made me feel very odd upstairs. During the worst days was when I accidentally destroyed my old beautiful mechanical computer keyboard by knocking a drink onto it. My mind was not the normal sharp tool that it mostly is – although the years are also blunting away at the edges! Hehe!

    At least the keyboard could be replaced, but I went with a lesser mechanical keyboard – the editor had objections which were fair given my proven history. Clickety-clack the new one goes!

    Hope you get better soon and use your sick leave, that is what it is there for, so that you can get better.

    Something like that. Ollie is pretty sharp, but those two pups are in turn distracting him with their cute factor and sneaking away with breakfasts. The pups get fed separately now and everyone rejoices at the lack of craziness in the kitchen and things are more relaxed. Mornings are rarely in focus. It was a genuine mad house before that time, and it had to end then and there.

    Oh yeah, they don’t grow back. Imagine losing your ears or nose to frostbite? Ouch.



    PS: Thanks for the reminder. 12 nabbed today, 30 to go (not really)! There is a limit of one pack per customer, although I spotted a lady purchasing a pack, and then going back in and purchasing a second pack. The toilet paper elves may play tricks upon her if she is not careful. One best not mess around with the elder folks.

  36. Hi Al,

    The editor has a complicated way of looking at the future, but by and large is well aware of what is known in marketing as the: Product Life Cycle. Put simply it is an inverted bell shaped curve which really is represented and also fits across many different scenarios which involve entropy. The Hubbert curve is a fine example of the species – but it applies equally to people, civilisations etc.

    For example, in the future I fully expect people to suggest that the blog was better – back in the day. This would indicate that the blog is on the downhill and thus right hand side of the inverted bell shaped curve. 😉

    Thanks for the film recommendation. Yeah, headsets probably aren’t my thing. I’m not a Luddite, I just pick and choose which technologies to burden myself with.

    Nice one, and even down here I have heard of the Drill Doctor device!

    Well yeah, the manufacturer does not release the torque settings for the bolts. Yes, it is a problem but I check the tightness every month or so. Even so, they’d still probably work their way loose due to heating and cooling.



  37. Hi Chris,

    I wonder if you have flats but call them something else, like trays? Allow me to describe what a flat means in the US via some links that have photos.

    A flat is a shallow tray, usually about two times longer than wide, which holds the soil in which seeds are started. Most flats have provision for drainage in the bottom.

    In the US the standard size tray used by nurseries to start plants is the 1020 tray: The dimensions are given in the description. The 72 cell flat insert that fits into the 1020 tray is shown here: The dimensions of the cells are given in the description. The 36 cell flat insert breaks apart into six six-packs and also fits in a 1020 tray. Most seedlings sold to consumers are in these six-packs, which are broken apart for sale: These are the two sizes of inserts into which I prick-out seedlings after they get large enough to remove from the wooden flats in which I start them. The combination of the insert and the tray is rigid enough to carry and light enough for ease in handling, and they hold a lot of seedlings while giving them enough room to grow to transplant size.

    I don’t know of any company that sells wooden flats (you’ll have to make them yourself if you want them) so I will describe those for you. Imagine a topless wooden box of similar dimensions as the 1020 tray I linked to. You could fill it with soil and raise seedlings in it, but it would have no drainage. Now imagine the same size box but made of wooden boards with a small space between each board, bottom and sides. Now excess water can drain out of the box. This is what garden books published in the US call a flat. The full size flat in HTGMV is 14″ X 23″ and is 3″ tall. The half size flats I use are the same height but 11.5″ X 14″ in size. The space between boards is small, say 1/4 inch or so, so that not too much soil leaks out. Still, I always put a piece of paper on the bottom of the flat before I fill it with soil to keep the soil from leaking out.

    Apparently glass cold frames or greenhouses have been pretty common in the US for a long time; garden centers my family visited back in the 1960s, before plastic became common, had glass greenhouses. What little garden and farm history I know suggests these structures go back to colonial days. Sometimes they were heated by piled-up and composting manure; other times they were heated by stoves with the chimneys routed through masonry to absorb and re-radiate heat. Check for the Rodale publication on solar-heated greenhouses from the 1970s; I’d give you the title and author but I lent my copy to a friend who recently had a porch added to his house. There are some pix of old cold frames and greenhouses in it and a discussion on how they were heated.


  38. Yo, Chris – Yesterday was … well, to paraphrase the title of a popular children’s book, “Lew and the Terrible Horrible No Good Very Bad Day.” But, first, to your missive.

    Werribee Park is very English Stately Home. Kind of a mini Downton Abbey. 🙂 . In other words, what a pile! I want to live in the tower. The link to the rose garden, didn’t work. (“…uses an unsupported protocal.” Whatever that means. Please, don’t explain it 🙂 . But, there were plenty of pictures on Google images. I really like the roses that are trained to look more like trees. Long trunk and bush top. And the aerial view is really nice. I looked at it and thought, “Oh, a Tudor rose!” Sorry you missed the heritage orchard, but like saving desert for last, you have a real treat to look forward to.

    Poor old Thomas Chirnside. Shot himself in the laundry room. A little known anatomical feature. Of all the places I would choose to haunt, the laundry room would be low on my list.

    You may have heard about the fellow in Missouri, who broke quarantine. His daughter came back from Italy, and showed symptoms, and was tested. While waiting for the test to come back, he took his other daughter to a father / daughter dance at the local high school. Couldn’t disappoint his little princess! he claims the family was never told to self quarantine, until the test came back. State health authorities, beg to differ. The comments on the article were pretty lively.

    It’s “down” to Oregon. :-). Up here at the top of the world, anything south, is down. But, no, I haven’t really been back to Oregon, since Uncle Larry died. Before that, I was down every month or two. Yes, that movie really gives you a sense of what are forests are like. Sunlight is at a premium, but, there’s clearings and clear cuts. River bottom land.

    Well, the plumber was here, yesterday, and replaced the cartridge in the handle. The old one was well worn. But, the tap still drips. Not hot water, and not near the volume, as before. But still drips. He said (fingers crossed) that the cartridge may need to work into place, through use. But if it was still dripping, get back to him on Monday. If that is the case, the valve will have to be replaced. And, that involves knocking a hole in the wall.

    Continuing my sad tales of woe, I went to the gardener’s meeting. I knew the Master Gardeners, had planned to replace a bed, or two. But, it’s been decided to replace ALL the beds, at one fell swoop. I went into shock. It’s wearing off, a bit. There was lots of talk about what kind of wood and construction would be used for the new beds. Then someone had the idea of using stock tanks. (It’s amazing how many people I’ve had to explain what a stock tank is. You know. Water the horses and cows.) Actually, that end of it does make sense. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes. And, aren’t too expensive.

    My initial response was to stalk out of the meeting, and not garden at all, this year. But on reflection … Well, it’s two + years of work, down the drain. The soil building, etc.. I’m going to lose a lot of plants. I’ve decided to salvage a bit of the horseradish and Elephant Garlic … sentimental value, there. And, some of my Vinca. But the rest of it … I’m just not up to mounting much of a rescue effort. They’re getting a start on Tuesday, so, this weekend, I’ll be digging up the last of the root crops, removing all my t-post, and trying to figure out storage for them. Taking down and pitching the deer fence. If the Master Gardener’s want to salvage any of it for their annual sale, they can.

    I’ve decided on Tuesday I’m going to tell them a.) I don’t like change, b.) I don’t like chaos, and c.) I don’t play well with others. So, make your changes, and when the dust settles, call me and assign me my beds. I’ve requested 100 square feet. Which is what I have now.

    And, the rest of the day was (lesser) one darn thing after another. Oh, well. So far, today is a lot better. But, it’s early yet 🙂 . Lew

  39. Chris,

    I agree. If this is simply hysteria, I doubt that we will ever know why. However, if this thing does go exponential and is serious, well, being calmly prepared while avoiding being in a panic is still of benefit.

    Okay, on to the Great Wednesday Trip. I took the day off as the Princess had a dental exam and I’m not 100% (due to my quickly fading cold), so after the dentist we did the shopping and went to breakfast. Breakfast was fun and tasty.

    One word describes shopping: surreal. Walmart looked like Attila’s Huns had ransacked several aisles: TP, cold and flu medications, vitamins, water. The Princess remarked that I’ve NEVER bought that small a pack of TP before, to which I replied that that was the largest they had. (A 12 pack, which doubles our supply. Short of the augured 42, but isn’t 24 close enough? It has the right digits!) The person in front of us spent hundreds of dollars on cleaning supplies. Turns out she works for an airline and the airlines are only just now starting to wipe down surfaces in the passenger areas of the airplanes. (Some of us have known that they airplanes are never cleaned.) I mentioned that it looks like enough people have panicked and stripped the shelves of some items that it’s forcing some of us to find things ahead of our normal schedule if we can just to avoid NOT having things. We agreed that some people seem to expect things to be shut down for months.

    Meanwhile, our Governor, Inslee, declared that the 3 most populated counties in Washington (Peirce, King and Snohomish – greater Seattle area) will have all public gatherings limited to a maximum of 250 persons until March 31 which might get extended. March is also when college basketball has all of its tournaments, aka March Madness. The governing body announced today that ALL of these tournaments will be held WITH NO FANS IN ATTENDANCE. Okay, Austin, Texas also cancelled its international music festival for this month, which will cost that city nearly $350 million in expected revenue.

    Okay, so maybe, seeing what is apparently happening in Italy, maybe this level of prudence is good. Time will tell. It just all seems surreal.


    To be continued…

  40. @ Chris continued,

    Anyhow, Werribee Park Mansion looks pretty neat. The Princess was so impressed with the pictures that she told me to buy it for her as soon as we win one of those multi-gazillion lotteries. The gardens are cool.

    The lesser surreal part of our jaunt was at the supermarket. The only things in low supply were the cold/flu/sinus medications. We’ve slowly been restocking these, so we’re almost up to snuff should we both get another round of cold or something. And, thanks to your suggestion, I checked our supply of electrolyte replacement stuff. We already have a large stock on hand.

    No, no kiss of death due to my spring musings. This type of a frontal system is not abnormal for the middle of March, even in mild years. The downside is that the cherries have started to bloom in some locations, and this will likely be cold enough to ruin a large amount of this year’s cherry crop. The cherry trees in my yard are nowhere close to blossoming yet.

    Mate, no no no! The years are not blunting away at the edges. Tis purely the effects of colds, excess heat, breaking up fluffies fighting over food, etc, never due to being unyoung. And yes, I AM feeling better, and have been using sick leave. Several days away completely and also leaving early when I do show up at the office.

    Oh well, at least in the Great Foray today, no Zombies were seen munching on toilet paper, which I take to be a Very Good Thing. Perhaps they only do that at night?


    PS: Always avoid pointy haired bosses and zombies with toilet paper.

  41. Chris:

    Well, long ago I was a student of the Latin language. Et tu? However, I am also a fan of REM. I would rather hear “Fall On Me” than “What’s the Frequency”, though.

    The Werribee Mansion is enormous, and so many roses! Lucky you to be able to visit there.

    My father has a saying that he sometimes pulls out: “Now that I’ve got a few years on me . . .” He is 81.


  42. Hi everyone!

    Tis the dreaded mid-week hiatus, and so time is in short supply? Isn’t that always the case? Anyway, I feel that I must crow – and very loudly too – because I called it the other day: Helicopter QE is coming to a bank near you, and soon!

    Billions of dollars pumped into coronavirus-hit economy in bid to stave off recession, Scott Morrison announces.

    I can just imagine the sheer glee as the gubment gets to spin up the printing presses with some serious abandon. If I were them, I probably would have done the same, that’s why it was an easy call to make in the first place.



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Ouch! You have my sympathies, however I respect that you will state your position and then get the heck out of the way, whilst they get on with the changes. A lesser person might attempt to enforce their position, creating a lot of bad blood and unhappiness.

    The inside of the manor house was superb, and the state government had gone to extraordinary efforts (deep coffers has its advantages) to restore the building using original materials, techniques and trades. Interestingly, there were many information boards which outlined the ethos for the restoration and I noted the claim that where that was not possible (original materials etc.) nothing was to be done until the matter had been further investigated and/or understood. The inference was that nothing was done purely for effect. Looking into my crystal ball I get the odd feeling that at some point in the distant future, the building will again be inhabited.

    So what was happening with your interweb browser when you got that message… 🙂 Hehe!

    Indeed it was a very odd choice of place to end it all, and there are rumours that the mansion is haunted. Of course I could not personally test those rumours. It is possible that he just didn’t know it was the laundry room? The bloke had a Valet after all, and other people would have been bored by the many details demanded by such a bloke.

    I worked for a very wealthy bloke once. I quite enjoyed the job, although the odd demands eventually wore me out after a few years. He was an old money bloke, so he had a certain air of gentility about him. I recall one funny incident when I was talking to my team about some minor outrage, and here there has to be a confession that very ungentlemanly language was being used, and little did I know the boss was waiting patiently listening to it all… Oh well, a bit of embarrassment there, but everyone got over it.

    Oh that’s not good. What’s with the father / daughter dance? I’ve never heard of such a thing before. Is it a thing? It sounds a bit like purity rings or some such nonsense. Guess it makes them feel better going through such rituals. People are turning on each other, but I see it all as a bit of winding back of peoples expectations of stuff.

    Of course, I do so apologise for my geography gaff and know better.

    The forest clearings – like here – are really lively places where the critters who live in the forests, go there to eat because of the additional energy provided by all that sunlight. If we had half a brain down here, we’d encourage such places randomly throughout the forest, but no it offends peoples deeply held beliefs. Just a blip in time. And river bottom land is the best of the lot. Minerals, water and sunlight – a wicked combo of food treats.

    My gut feeling is not good about the continuing drip. On the other hand it is impressive that the cartridge could actually be replaced. In many areas of the plumbing here, we installed old school taps (spigots in your country?) that have easily replaceable washers. Is it fashionable to do so? Probably not. Also I put my foot down with the plumbers and paid extra to have them eliminate all of those crazy franke basket plugs that people so love – simple plug and drains just work.

    What? Are they replacing the soil too? Has this come about because the soil in the other garden beds has been played out? You don’t have to explain stock tanks to me. The galvanised steel round raised beds I use here are really good, and hashtag just sayin, that your garden friends will get to experience first hand just how much soil gets eaten by growing plants. To be honest, the lesson will be very instructive, and your garden beds will be an even greater contrast. You just watch, plants eat soil and there ain’t no getting around it in those raised garden beds. Plus being raised above the ground will extend your growing season by a few weeks either side. All up, if they do what they say they will and you get your 100 feet, you’ll be enjoying yourself.

    Did your day improve?

    I got out of bed this morning in darkness. Who knew that people were awake before the sun had risen above the horizon? It was going to be another hot day, so we put in many hours on the new-old solar panel stand. Steel work is hard in good conditions, but with the hot sun beating down on your head it can be brutal. Best to start early, even if early mornings are not your thing.



  44. @ Lew:

    Oh, Lew – what a shock. But don’t give up! Gardening is in your blood – and you can’t help yourself anyway.

    Bureaucrats . . . Phooey.

    I have a lot of Lew flowers in my garden; blue, that is. Hyacinth, Forget-Me-Nots, Agapanthus (almost – my new plant shivered when I took him out to plant, so he’s back inside), Bachelor’s Buttons, Delphinium, Lithodora, Speedwell, am planting Flax. They are not all up yet, but soon!


  45. Yo, Chris – The drift I get is that father / daughter dances are kind of like those purity events, except no one has to wear virginal white. So, the ladies get to indulge in a bit more flash. I figure the whole thing is Women’s Business (like holidays). Best not to inquire too closely.

    Of course (is that a pun?), the one drawback to river bottom land is flooding. But even that brings in new valuable material.

    I hear “taps” more than “spigots”, here. Might be a regional thing. Franke. Hadn’t heard that term, before. Usually, it’s just the catch all “sink plug.” Never liked those things. They seem to get wonkie, pretty fast. And, are fiddly to repair.

    Well, if they were rebuilding a garden bed, or two, they’d save the soil and replace it. But, with a wholesale slaughter, I’m sure things are going to get mixed up. Oh, the Ladies are aware that soil levels fall, but usually just throw on a bag or three of compost (varieties vary) and maybe a few bags of top soil. Of varying quality. Cost is a factor. I’d guess that the soil the Master Gardeners will use, will be pretty good, initially. Keeping it that way, and improving it, is the trick.

    We have possible snow in the forecast, for Saturday morning. We’ll see. We had two nights of frost, two fairly warm nights with sunny days, and will be back to a freeze, tonight.

    Read an article, the other day, about the run on toilet paper. The possible whys. Mostly, it gives people a feeling of control, in an situation where there is no control. Seems like people’s reaction runs from total disinterest or irritation, to, bonkers. It is hard to figure out where to land on the spectrum. And, to stay there.

    Somehow or another, I lost track of that initial outbreak at the nursing home, outside of Seattle. Last I heard, 5 inmates had died. Now it’s up to 18 or 19. We have our first suspected cases, here in the county. 9 people were tested. 5 have been cleared, and they’re waiting on the other 4. Things here at The Institution seem a bit … tense. A bit on edge. But, no one screaming in the halls, yet.

    I finished Chuck Palahniuk’s book, last night. Here’s a quote that caught my eye. “This is another reason to bother collecting stories. Because our existence is a constant flow of the impossible, the implausible, the coincidental. … We’re trained to live in constant denial of the miraculous. And it’s only by telling our stories that we get any sense of how extraordinary human existence actually can be.”

    I must say I enjoyed the stories he scatters through the book. But I wonder, how much is fact and how much is fiction? How much does Chuck embroider on “the clean white linen of truth?”

    The end of the book is pages of charts. Problems, and possible solutions. “Problem: your narrative voice is boring” or “Problem: You fail to build tension.” And then he has little “Consider” sections, to perhaps, take care of the problem. I think I’ll have to eventually buy a copy of this book.

    Oh, I figured you knew what a stock tank is. (Country boy.) I’m just amazed that I’ve had to explain it to so many people I’ve run across. In this rural county! Lew

  46. @ Lew: the Missourian who broke quarantine lives in the same county Mike and I do. His daughter is, and as I write this remains, the only person in the county, and I think the state of Missouri as a whole, with a confirmed coronavirus diagnosis. The social distancing protocol is already firmly in place, with many area events having been cancelled up to about the end of April and more cancellations continuing to be announced. The rapidity with which this happened may be because this is one of the few counties in the country where the county executive is an MD.


  47. @ Chris: father-daughter dances are a thing in the US, as a way of encouraging fathers to be present in their daughters’ lives. The younger sister of the woman who came down with the coronavirus was who the father was escorting. There was also a pre-dance gathering at a different school which led to cancellations of classes at both schools. Yes, the events took place in the wealthy end of the county.

    Just checked the local paper of record’s website. Still only one confirmed case in MO, the one we’re discussing. But three students in another county in the greater StL metro area are self-quarantining till they are tested for it. Event cancellations and postponements continue being announced.


  48. @ Pam – I thought I remembered your mentioning Arnie the groundhog in previous comments. Thanks much for your insights! I told Mike to be ready to relocate the groundhog, as he is the household animal control officer. We may need to get a larger live trap. This was a large so presumably well-fed groundhog.


  49. Hi Lew,

    Sorry to hear about the garden bed fiasco. That would be very frustrating, and worthy of some choice words!

    The interweb suggested I should check out a new zombie comedy movie (from Japan no less) called “One Cut of the Dead”. I have not watched it yet, but might do this weekend. I can also recommend “Train to Busan” if you don’t mind subtitles. It is a recent Korean film, and involves bullet trains and zombies. Was pretty good and hit all the required notes of dark comedy, drama and gore!


  50. Hi Chris,
    Palliative care just means forgoing most testing/treatment and rather just being comfortable. Right now Kathleen goes to her psychologist of many years regularly, goes to a pain clinic and indulges in quite a bit of, now legal, marijuana. She avoids hospitals like the plague and generally knows how to manage things. Frankly she seems much better since going this route.

    “The Road” was a pick of Oprah’s Winfrey’s book club some years ago. Our book club has not read it. I did also see the movie and also very dark.

    Things are being cancelled right and left now even smallish gatherings of a couple dozen people. Sister and daughter both told me that dog food is running low. Luckily we have a months worth but I’m going to venture out tomorrow to Costco and grocery store for some select items. Interesting times indeed.


  51. Chris,

    Quick disaster news…The upcoming weekend woodcarving show in the Puget Sound area was cancelled late afternoon March 11. All professional tennis, basketball, hockey and baseball cancelled, and I think football (soccer) also nationwide. All college sports and playoffs cancelled. All schools in Pierce, King and Snohomish Counties (greater Seattle/Tacoma area) closed through April 24. So one of my closest friends is on extended break.

    Also, we had a technician meeting with my boss today to see which of us can work from home, as a lot of our stuff is allegedly available via computer. I said that I could as the boss said that some of my required software could be loaded on my machine and there are a few remote things I can access. Dunno if or when this will happen, as Spokane has no official cases at this time.

    Back to regularly scheduled Thursday evening activities.


  52. Hi Kris
    A light comment on raw Almond treatments. A while ago I was buying and consuming raw California Almonds direct from a grower , ( 5kg at a time in heat sealed bags.) before eating they were oven roasted in a single layer at 350 degrees F for about 10 to 12 min. Then cooled and stored in plastic lidded containers in the fridge for use.
    The growers site had some information that the Ca gov ag regulators were requiring some kind of pasteurization of their almonds which affected the flavor of the nuts. The growers had come up with an acceptable steam treatment that took care of the pasteurization with out the flavor change. The almonds were always good tasting to me. I have since changed to raw chandler walnuts as the almonds hardness was threatening my teeth. Walnuts may be healthier anyway yum. You might look for more details on Cal. Almond growers sites.
    Cheers Al

  53. Dear friends,

    It is with great sadness that I report that Mr Toothy was put down today. Two months ago he suffered a sudden turn in his health. One day he was bouncing around the farm with his best mate Ollie, the next he became older than the old dog that he actually is. For the past two weeks he has been off his food. Last evening he was so disoriented that he no longer even recognised his surroundings. The decision was made then and there.

    Long term readers will know of Mr Toothy from way way back, and indeed he has been lucky enough to be an active farm dog for over a decade. He has lead an amazing life for a dog, and has eaten well, been warm when the weather was freezing, and enjoyed the company of good mates. A farm dog could not ask for more than that.

    Rather than feeling sorry for his passing, I suggest we lift a glass (or better still, enjoy a muffin for those that are for various good reasons unwilling to lift a glass) in salute of the fine and upstanding dog who enjoyed a truly amazing life.

    With a touch of sorrow, here’s three cheers for Mr Toothy!

    For those who are interested, Mr Toothy was buried near to the resting place of his best mates Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy. And a delightful Corymbia ficifolia , otherwise known as the very attractive flowering gum was planted over his grave. May the tree produce flowers that bring as much joy as Mr Toothy.


  54. Hi Claire,

    Thank you for the excellent explanation, and I believe the term used down here is ‘trays’. The nomenclature used in the book assumes a certain level of base knowledge and the glossary ignores such minor everydayisms, which being in a different country, I do not have and so it is a mite bit confusing. I’ll deal though.

    Today I began reading the section on direct sowing of seeds. For your interest, the author introduces the concept of ‘row covers’ without first explaining what they are. I’m leaning towards such a system if only because there are just so many seedlings required I’d first want to get them growing from seed in their final growing spots for the season. That may be a personal predilection though. There are a few options for achieving this which I’ll investigate over the next few months.

    Out of curiosity, how does the heat mat sit with the seedling flats? Timber is a tidy insulator and I’m still scratching my head about that subject.

    Thank you again for the history, as I have seen heated glass houses in the old timey hill stations around here, as well as the most recent visit to Werribee manor a few days back. Most people would be oblivious to what they were looking at. Using a hot compost pile is a great idea to get seedlings started early.

    Your book suggestion sounds most excellent – and I have learned much reading the Rodale book on seed starting. We’ve even begun to adapt the existing systems to accommodate the information gleaned. What do they say about it being a journey rather than a destination?



  55. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I have had two phone calls today from concerned folks suggesting that I should stock up. One of the calls was from a long time mate who suggested that borders would be closed very soon and he claimed he had it from a good source. He sounded very concerned. Like you, I prefer a calmly prepared approach.

    Breakfast is always fun and tasty! I had an incident this morning as at the local cafe where I spotted a bag of hot cross buns and inadvertently asked for a dozen of them as distinct from a half dozen. The proprietor was most displeased at my request and joked about me being a prepper. Unfortunately due to the Mr Toothy situation I was more distracted and vague than I usually am… I’ll have to correct that situation and soon as memories are very long around here. Oh well, little slips and all that.

    Need you be reminded that the 42 call was not mine? 🙂 But mate, yeah you two are up the creek, but you’ll probably be fine. Surely 24 is simply another way of stating the number 42? Guess it depends on how closely one looks at the detail. Pah! Details!

    It ain’t just you guys. On the radio today I heard that the local heavy music festival “Download” was cancelled today as the band “My Chemical Romance” appears to have pulled out, as well as the music festival for folks with special needs “Ability” was likewise cancelled. The bloke who runs the Ability festival is one of those people put on the planet (Dylan Alcott) to ensure that we up our game because he makes the rest of us look bad.

    I’m still scratching my head as the death rate doesn’t seem much worse than the influenza virus.



  56. Hi DJ (forgot about the cont…) but here goes!

    Yeah, good luck with that mansion purchase dream (surely a trademark is required?) Tis not for the likes of you and I, you know! 😉 The gardens are beautiful and I completely missed the heritage orchard which dates back to 1870’s.

    Slowly, slowly is the way to go and good to read that you have electrolyte replacements – they’re useful when needed, and far away when not readily to hand. There is logic to my logic! 😉

    Spring frosts make for an unpredictable growing environment, and cherries, plums and apricots were likewise affected down here. What do you do, but adapt? The last time I purchased plums they were about $5.50/kg – and they were at the cheaper end of that story. On the farm it was a very bad season for plums.

    Planted out more fruit trees in the new orchard morning, but had to get up in the dark to get a head start on that job before the heat kicked in.

    Hehe! Thanks, and I suspect that concern over Mr Toothy has been at the core of a fair bit of stress of late. The fluffies are still fighting over food, but tonight they are low-key and huddled in a consoling fur pile on the green couch behind me.

    Great to hear that you are feeling better and that you are using sick leave. Nobody, but nobody would complain about use of sick leave at this time. Dodge away my friend! 🙂 And get more toilet paper appears to be some sort of dark ritual! Does it have efficacy? Who knows, have studies been done?



  57. Hi Pam,

    Mr Toothy is now gone… At least he is resting near to his best mates.

    Woe is me for I am a barbarian who was never educated in the Latin language. My standing is therefore not high, but I can wield a battle axe, so perhaps standing is not so important?

    Fall on me is a beautiful song and I applaud your good taste, and I agree. Who can argue with the lyrics: “There’s the progress we have found (when the rain), A way to talk around the problem (when the children reign). Dare I suggest that their old stuff was better than their new stuff? No doubt the blog will also fall into such a trap in time. That’s life.

    I saw them in the mid 90’s when they played in Melbourne. Don’t you sometimes enjoy times when it is nice to be in a certain place at a certain time?

    The roses were stunning and the very air itself carried the floral fragrance of the huge number of roses. The whole thing is run by volunteers – and has done so for over three decades. Plans are afoot to increase the rose collection here.

    Well done him and it is a fine philosophy!



  58. Hi Claire (again),

    Well that is the thing with travel. Back when I was kid it was only the very wealthy who travelled. It is not risk free.

    Schools are being shut down here too and heading on line. I hope someone remembers to turn off the lights before the last person exits the building! Far out. I don’t get this unfolding story at all.

    I’m personally annoyed that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been cancelled. A few laughs would be appropriate at this juncture.



  59. Hi DJ (again!!! Hehe!),

    Yes, I have heard such talk here today as well.

    Has anyone suggested banning automobiles? Oh, yeah I guess inadvertently that has just happened…



  60. Hi Al,

    Ah! All is now explained as I have been consuming ‘raw’ almonds for years. Who’d have thunk it? Thanks for the heads up. I use the strong UV in sunlight to sterilise the almonds, and have never noticed any to go off after many days of treatment. As well as consuming them, I have been gifting them to a lovely young vegan lady I know. In their raw state, they have a very creamy flavour.

    Hey, a lot of food items are like that, and I guess if they say so… Such regulations are intended to protect against the lowest common denominator or just basic bad practices. A bit of middle ground is not a bad idea.

    I read that in the island state of Tasmania a cheese maker managed to get raw cheese to market legally. That would have been a few hurdles to cross.

    So much of our societies food is dead that it is leading to poor health outcomes. However, at the same time, it is not possible to produce in such volumes and over such periods of time, and not follow that particular path. Oh well.



  61. @ Lew
    Shocked to hear of the garden nonsense at your place. I hope that you don’t get kicked too badly.


    @ Chris
    I’ll lift a glass to Mr Toothy this evening.


  62. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, the admonition is appreciated as it is secret women’s business, or should that be secret fathers business? Now I’m confused which it is. Regardless, neither you nor I can speak with authority on such matters. Still, that may not have stopped either of us before, and I recall being a teenager, and hanging with the folks was not high up there on the priority list for me… 🙂 Things may be different nowadays…

    Mate, I’m feeling a little bit low tonight. Mr Toothy died two months ago after he had the health turn, he just hadn’t reached the final act of the play until today. Such decisions are not to be rushed, but neither are they to be delayed. Last evening he had no idea even where he was and had been off the majority of his food – even the favourites – for weeks. I buried him up with his good mates Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy. Mr Toothy you may note was never knighted, and that was indicative of his contributions, rather than personality which varied between grumpy and friendly. His breed suffers a bit from the trait of grumpiness, as they were bred for hunting, and that’s cool with me. But when he put his mind to it, he was a truly fine companion in this here thing called life. He’s missed, and the fluffies were all huddled up on the green couch earlier in a giant asleep ‘fur-ball’ act of consolation. The pups got to see what happened with him in the burial as there is no reason to shield them from their ultimate fate. In the end we’re all soil food.

    So I was at the local cafe this morning and feeling a bit out of sorts due to the Mr Toothy decision. I spotted a bag of hot cross buns – and yes, they are good. Part sour dough, total yummo! I can’t explain what came over me, but I said oh, I’ll grab a dozen hot cross buns, meaning the bag of half a dozen buns, and yeah at that point I was amusingly accused of being a prepper and the bloke walked off. My act comes over a bit greedy, and I’m not like that at all. You know, sometimes though a joke is not a joke. I blushed and thought to myself could today get any worse? I will have to explain the situation – and soon – to avoid a bad name. Memories are long around these parts…

    Flooding is a serious drama, but the benefits from those minerals and water. Funnily enough our species does its darnedest to reduce flooding, but when it happens we are generally unprepared… From this eagles eyrie a large and very well run cattle farm spreads out in the valley below. They get flooded occasionally from the creeks which originate up here. It is always interesting to see, and usually if there is heavy rain forecasted, their cattle is moved to higher ground, so they look as though they have a good handle on things, but it is not an intensively run farm – or at least that is how it looks to my eye.

    Good to hear such sensible use of language, as spigots are ‘taps’ to me. The first time I encountered the word ‘spigot’ I was scratching my head and wondering what this thing was. The seed starting book Claire recommended is very good, however the author introduces commonly understood terms without defining what they are – not even a photo or drawing. And I’m still wondering about how the old timers did that job. It is possible that they stuck to only direct sown plants, and even here that would limit the food options. I’m considering some form of reusable and sturdy row cover – although what that will be is a mystery to me.

    Finished planting out the new orchard this morning. I moved in there all of the fruit trees that were not doing well elsewhere for siting reasons. Moving established fruit trees is a tough job.

    The original design I believe was called the Franke basket. The o-rings on them tend to dry and fail, and I have had to live with such a device in the rental house when we built this place – of course it was not the original design for sure. Did I need to be told a second time? A lot of rubber looking products these days, are not exactly rubber.

    Cost is always a factor in gardening! Did I not mention previously that none of this stuff makes any economic sense? Thus the ladies predilection for el-cheapo soil additives – and the cheapest ones of all (humanure) I have been told is a step too far. It is a bigger problem than you’d imagine. A mate of mine who is of Italian heritage once told me that his parents who live on a small holding not too far from here, told him to go to the supermarket to buy the stuff that they themselves could and knew how to produce?

    Snow! Brr! Any signs of the powdery white stuff yet? That would be a very late snowfall if it fell here. Socked in here at the moment and the wind is blowing and drizzle is falling. Very unpleasant, but great weather for all of the fruit trees transplanted over the past week. Me tired.

    Mate, this coronavirus thing is edging into the surreal category. Large gatherings are being cancelled left, right and centre. Attendance at the Grand Prix was cancelled today, and I’m very annoyed that the Melbourne International Comedy Festival has been cancelled. What the heck? Is the death rate being under reported somehow? I’m calling the official response by the technical name: Bonkers. Of course if it were as lethal as the 1919 flu, and it struck down the young and otherwise healthy and the death toll was edging into the tens of millions, I’d be suggesting otherwise, but so far it ain’t.

    People are a bit on edge here too, thus my unfortunate hot cross bun faux pas, but I had other reasons for feeling on edge than worries about a virus.

    What do they say about not letting truth get in the way of a good story? And I have wondered if, say good actors, could fake their emotional responses. If you were engaging with such a person, and they were really good, how would you know if their response was real or not? I have strong doubts that you would. Years ago I heard a con-man who ripped off a union talking on the radio and protesting his innocence. He sounded really genuine, although the court chucked him in the slammer so perhaps he wasn’t all that genuine.

    Charts! Chuck? Charts? What the… Oh, he is asking the hard questions there. Yes, a good buy. Mr Kunstler’s fine new book (hardback version too) turned up in the mail this morning. Do I ditch the seed raising book? As a guy I am unfortunately limited to one activity at a time, so this reading two books at a time might be a bit too challenging?

    Living in the country, gonna talk ’bout some ‘dem stock tanks!!!! With so few people working in agricultural pursuits at least I don’t have to worry about city folks turning up like zombies hankering for edible plants – they wouldn’t have a clue what is what.



  63. Hi Margaret,

    Ah, apologies I misunderstood your comment about palliative care and thought the worst. You know what, that is exactly what I would do if presented with the circumstances. And if the outcome is good for your sister then I applaud her good sense. Was it hard for her to come to such a decision?

    When I took Mr Toothy to the vet today, the vet asked me about his health history, and in fifteen odd years I couldn’t recall him ever being sick before. Thankfully the vet respected the decision and didn’t try and talk me out of it. Mr Toothy had been very unwell these past two months, and it was clear that it was his time. Last night was not good for him. I buried him near to his old mates Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy, and planted a tree over him.

    You have a stronger constitution than I as I just don’t know if I wanted such images from The Road in my mind. I recall someone telling me about some gruesome moment in the film, and then the protagonist offers the opinion that they were ‘the good guys’. Ouch, and very telling.

    Exactly, interesting times indeed. Buy-toilet-paper! Not sure why I wrote that. 🙂 I do wonder why this response? Is there more to the story that we’re not being told? Dunno. It just makes little sense to me.



  64. Hi Chris,

    Sorry to hear about Mr Toothy, it is always hard when a pet goes (sometimes harder than people). We don’t have a muffin, but will bake an apple pie tomorrow in his honour – this also corresponds with Pie Day (if you write the date like an American!).


  65. Chris:

    You did the right thing. I shall so miss Mr. Toothy. Many are the happy times that I played “Where’s Toothy?” with your photos. I shall make some Toothy muffins today. And I will be thinking of you and the editor.


  66. @ DJ – You can mix up your own electrolyte replacement hooch, at home. I saw one that was pretty simple salt and sugar, a few days ago. Can’t find it now. Some are pretty fancy (pomagranit juice?), but I found a pretty simple sugarless recipe.

    1 cup of water, 2 tbls. of lemon juice and a pinch of salt. Maybe some sugarless kool-aid for a bit of flavor. Might pick up a bottle of lemon concentrate.

    Several foods have electrolytes. Mostly, leafy green veg. Lew

  67. @ Damo – Thanks for the zombie movie tips. Hope our library gets them. They might. After all, recently, they got a rather obscure French, and then a German zombie movie. Must be a fan in the ordering department.

    Oh, I turn on the subtitles, for just about everything. Even films in “English.” I don’t want to miss any quips, or, nuances. Lew

  68. @ Pam – Your garden sounds lovely. And, blue! You might try some Love in The Mist. They start out white, and then turn to blue. And, have the most interesting seed pods. Lew

  69. @ Chris – my condolences on Mr. Toothy’s death. May memories of him and his mates frolicking in the sun comfort you and the editor.

    JMG mentioned in the latest Magic Monday comments that he doesn’t yet fully understand the reaction to the coronavirus. I’m certain he’s thinking about it and will let us all know what he’s decided in due time.

    Meanwhile, I do think I understand the event cancellations, and lawyers are involved :-(. While I agree that the final death rate from the coronavirus will likely be roughly that of the 1957 and 1968 flu pandemics (both of which I lived through, as have some other readers), the rapid increase in hospitalizations in China suggested that hospital space and ventilator availability could be insufficient in other countries if the infection rate increased as rapidly there as it did in China.

    Imagine that you are a hospital administrator with 30 ventilators, some of which are already being used so they are unavailable to new patients. All of a sudden 40 new cases of pneumonia caused by a rapidly spreading viral disease show up at the hospital. Who doesn’t get a ventilator? You can imagine that the hospital would be hit by lawsuits from survivors of everyone who died who didn’t get put on a ventilator. The medical industry thus is pushing hard on public health officials to do everything in their power to slow the infection rate down to the level where the hospitals have the infrastructure to handle all the sick people who are sent there. In turn, the public health officials, who would probably also be sued under this scenario for neglecting to take the proper measures to slow the rate of new infections, are pushing on the higher-ups in their government to enact event cancellations and other public health measures appropriate to the situation. So the cancellations aren’t intended to stop the virus, but rather to slow it down enough so it doesn’t overwhelm the public health infrastructure, in turn keeping the personal injury lawyers at bay.


  70. @ Lew: I totally get your dislike of change. Mike and I are wont to greet any change or potential change with a rousing chant of “we’re old and we don’t like change!” 😉

    I hope that when all the changes are complete, you end up with as much space and as good or even better of a garden than before. In the meantime, I wish you whatever will best soothe your nerves during the change.


  71. @ Inge, Pam, Damo, and our gracious host – Thanks for the kind thoughts on the gardening situation. Things will work out, somehow. Oh, well. Note to self. Next time around, own your own land. Lew

  72. Yo, Chris – I was sorry to hear of Mr. Toothy’s passing. Even in his grumpyness, he provided years of entertainment and, underneath it all, I’m sure, affection.

    I think it’s lovely how you go about laying your buddies, to rest. His passing will leave a hole, that never quit goes away, but at least becomes less painful. Lew

  73. Chris:

    Our youngest son works for an event production company. They do the lighting, video, and audio for the swanky events held around here. He tells me that almost all events – except, so far, the weddings – have been canceled for the foreseeable future. I expect the weddings to be also; people travel to come to those.

    I suspect that some employees will have to be laid off. Luckily my son has been there for some years and knows the business inside out, so they will most likely keep him. There has been talk of quite a bit of debt in that company, though, and I wonder if this will sink them?


  74. Yo, Chris – And, onward. Most assuredly, Women’s Business. No self respecting dude, would come up with such a concept. Unless, maybe, money was to be made.

    I think your over thinking the whole hot cross buns, SNAFU. Yes, memories are long, in the country. But really? There’s so little going on in their heads that they have room for that? If so, they’re people to avoid, anyway. As far as the dreaded prepper label goes, well…. You live off the grid, catch rainwater, grow most of hour own tucker… etc. etc.. Better get used to the label, own it, and wear it proudly. People who have anything on the ball, admire the Editor and your efforts.

    Most of the large seed companies carry one sort of row cover or another. I think if I didn’t know what a flat was, I would have just Googled it. 🙂 . The Rodale book I mentioned, “Build It Better Yourself” has several plans for flats. I often see them kicking around at estate sales and auctions.

    Woke up this morning to snow coming down! What the carp is this? Wasn’t supposed to start until tomorrow morning. Still coming down, hours later. But, not sticking in town. I had to make an early morning run, a little out of town, and it is sticking there. We’re supposed to have about 4 or 5 nights of well below freezing temperatures. Yet I read the bears in Canada and Russia are coming out of hibernation, weeks early.

    Mr. Kunstler had “black swan” in the title of his post, today. A few days ago, the thought of black swans crossed my mind. Wonder if they show up on Prof. Mass’s radar? Well, it’s interesting how the world is changing, even here.

    I swung through my bank/credit union yesterday. There was not a single car in the parking lot. Yesterday, we got the word that the community room, library/computer room and public restroom are locked. Most of the Ladies, I’ve talked to, seem ok with that. Food boxes come next week, and I wonder how they’ll handle that. I’m sure they haven’t thought a week ahead. But, Eleanor and I don’t have a place to sit and chew the cud, anymore. But, I still walk HRH.

    The library has a three phase plan. I got the e-mail, yesterday. They say they’re in phase one, which is pretty much just preparing for phase 2 and 3 (3 being total shutdown.) Our local newspaper reports they’re in phrase 2. Fake news! 🙂 .By the way, I see a copy of “Burning Stone” is in transit to me. Wonder if they got it right, this time.

    The woman I usually visit at the Club, on Thursday afternoons … yesterday was her last shift, for awhile. She’s older, is a cancer survivor, so, her immune system is a bit weak. I wonder what will happen at the Club. It’s hard to get enough volunteers to man the counter, under normal conditions. And the meetings? 10-20 people crammed in a small room for an hour. Hmmmm. Broadway theaters have closed down and, oh, my gosh, DISNEYLAND IS CLOSED! Truly the end of the world as we know it.

    I made a quick trip out to two of the cheap food stores, last night. A lot more people around, then the usual, late night, mid-week trips. In one, there was about 8 4packs of toilet paper on the shelf. A mother daughter team were posing and taking selfies of their score. It had an aura of nabbing big game. In both stores, canned goods and dry goods (beans, rice, pasta) were pretty thin. Maybe I never pay attention, but I couldn’t believe the crap people were throwing in their carts. If the virus doesn’t get them, the processed food, will.

    I went out to get gas this morning ($3.19 a gallon, for regular …lowest I’ve seen it in a long time) and made a stop at another cheap food store. They didn’t seem to be hit as hard. Plenty of everything. Even toilet paper. Just single rolls, or, packs of the stuff that’s expensive because it’s “earth friendly.” I’ve got two more shopping stops to make, maybe, tomorrow. Then I’m in for the duration. Awhile?

    Here’s a short article on possible reasons people are focusing on toilet paper. I go with reason 5, Dick. It’s got a good beat and I can dance to it.

    Good actor or a gullible crowd? Half the Ladies here at the Institution still think I’m in the Witness Protection Program.

    Actually, Chuck’s charts are really handy. He covered so much ground, and it’s nice to have it all clearly laid out. Then you can go back and read that section in detail. I’m looking forward to reading Mr. Kunstler’s book, too. Trying to decide if to buy it, or, give it awhile to cool off, and then get it on Interlibrary Loan. We’ll see. Snow is still coming down. Still not sticking. Lew

  75. Hi Chris
    So sorry for your loss of your long time furry friend. It’s good that your new pack members Plum and Ruby have joined and are making new friendships. That helps the healing.
    Thanks for the Pie Day reminder!

  76. Chris:

    I was a little too optimistic. My son has just let me know that he has been laid off. His boss is keeping on a small skeleton crew of people with families, and they have taken a pay cut. I guess a business that depends on crowds of people getting together is not a profitable idea in a pandemic.


  77. Chris,

    My sympathies about Mr. Toothy. You and the Editor and the fluffies will miss him. I’ve lifted a glass of appropriate liquid to help celebrate the life of Mr. Toothy. That’s a fitting tree you planted with him.

    My sister is one of the managers planning responses to covid19 for the Regional Health District. She called me this morning. The fear that the medical and health people have is that nobody has an immune system for this so that it will be spread and everybody will get it. Like me, the district is convinced that it has been in Spokane for quite some time, just no tests confirm. All schools closed now in Washington, high school on down, through April 24. Kids might have mild to no symptoms, but appear to get the illness and spread it – they’re carriers. Also, influenza is about to have its normal spring rebound here, and pertussis is going around.

    Other board members of our carving club are concerned, as we have 40 or 50 people in a tiny space at our meetings, most of whom are in 60s and above. So the president of the club (that would be me) cancelled all meetings until April 30. Few were going to show up anyhow.

    We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have little slips now and then! But ya know, a dozen hot cross buns sounds good. With maybe some bacon and eggs and a good cup of coffee.

    Yes, the 42 thing came from Lew, did it not? But 42-24=18, which is divisible by 9. The number 9 has all sorts of interesting properties. My favorite is that if you have a number xyz and transpose a digit (or more) to xzy…the difference between xyz and xzy is always evenly divisible by 9. 652-562=90. 652-526=126. Works every time regardless of how big the number is.
    So I’m reasonably happy having 24 rather than the prescribed 42. Close enough.

    I’m also puzzling my way through this. However, the Princess and I are in the vulnerable age bracket, and she’s got several siblings who will be in big trouble if they get this. But the sheer panic over it…I don’t understand that, but people today seem to think that we’re not supposed to get even a cold, so the fact that a lot of people might get sick with this is not a good thing popularly. I’m starting to ramble in my puzzlement…But I do remember being in the 5th grade. One day the teacher was ill with influenza and we found out she had been ill the day before while teaching. A few days later, only 5 of 27 students were in class.

    I hereby grant you my unofficial trademark for mansion purchase dream. 🙂 Alas, you are correct. Us commoners aren’t meant to live in mansions and castles and estates with towers.

    This cold I’m getting over is sure weird. I needed a liter of electrolytes yesterday as I got dehydrated sleeping! And that liter was after drinking 1.5 liters of water when I woke up. I actually feel good today. Your logic makes sense.

    Adapt, turn bad into good, etc. All part of a healthy attitude. Sometimes difficult to put into practice.

    I bet the fluffies will be a bit down for awhile. Having a pack of their peers and good humans will help all of you move forward. A few more quiet evenings with the collective on the sofa would be nice though?

    The toilet paper ritual? (That’s another trademark for you, by the way.) Like anything else of this nature, I suspect that if it does work, the moment a scientist attempts to test whether it works, well, these things aren’t measurable. So the toilet paper eating zombies will never be able to prove that their ritual is worth anything, but to them it might be something that helps them roll along, at least 42 times. 😉

    If a lot of companies are able to have their people work from home, thus reducing the numbers of automobiles on the road, why can’t they do this much more often? We’re investigating the same idea, as well as maybe I work from home Tuesday and Thursday, from the office Wednesday and Friday. The junior tech is at the office the days I’m home and vice versa. Maybe meet together for an hour once every 2 weeks or something. If this can be done for an emergency, why can’t it be done regularly? But I’m simply an aging peon who is too far down the food chain to make such decisions. And happy about that fact, too.

    Between 5 cm and 15 cm of snow expected overnight. It started and is coming down sideways due to the wind. Typical late winter.


  78. @ Pam – I’m sorry that your son was laid off, and I hope it won’t prove to be too much of a problem for him. Wish it weren’t so, but I think a lot of people will join him before too long.

    Wonder how long TPTB can afford social distancing and the economic damage it is causing? Only the Shadow knows …


  79. Hi Damo,

    Many thanks, and Mr Toothy will be sorely missed. He was a good dog and lived a long and enjoyable life. He really passed on two months ago when he had his sudden turn away from good health. Not sure what caused it, but after that, he was different and never his old self again. I guess deep down we were hoping he’d fight his way back to good health, but he was an old dog.

    Your grasp of the finer points of mathematics is beyond my ken. 😉

    Hope the apple pie was good!



  80. Hi Pam,

    Lovely, and I’ll miss the ‘where’s Toothy game’ too. He so loved the camera, and it was a challenge to take photos without him in the view frame. No doubt in a former life Toothy was a very poorly behaved child actor who came to a messy end, thus the reason he came back as a mildly grumpy long haired dachshund who has a penchant for the camera. Seems as good a reason as any.

    I’ll miss him that’s for sure, and I’m glad he is now resting up with his other mates.

    Hope the muffin was nice. Toothy liked chunks of muffin, and had a special skill for catching the chunks mid-air whenever I threw them near to him. It was a real skill. Of course a long dachshund snout assisted with the skill.

    Sorry to hear about your son. Hmm. Families, huh? I was told similar stories when I was a young lad. Can’t say it made me feel any better hearing them. Events are being cancelled down here left, right and centre. I believe that as of Monday, gatherings of more than 500 people will be banned.

    Honestly, I have no idea how the obligations of companies, gubiments, and individuals can continue to be paid if the flow of mad cash ceases up. Of course such things have happened before. You may note that I have a personal aversion to indulging in such obligations in the first place.



  81. Hi Claire,

    Oh thank you so much for saying that. Half an hour ago I went up and paid my respects to Mr Toothy, and did exactly as you suggested. He really was a lovely dog, and he’ll be missed. He had a special enjoyment of sitting in the hot afternoon sun and soaking up the heat even over summer when the UV is extreme. There were days I had to put a stop to such Fluff ‘cookery’!

    Yes, likewise I am curious to hear his thoughts. I have dark suspicions, and would like to be proven wrong.

    Unfortunately I have no doubts that fear of having the daylights sued out of them are part of the story for the event cancellations. I’m too young to have experienced either pandemic. Out of curiosity how does the fear compare to your memories of the fear in those days?

    Yes, you raise a difficult question: Hospitals won’t cope with escalating coronavirus outbreak, senior Queensland doctor says.

    I read an article that the Italians are now facing that exact problem. Yes, who to save is not as easily answered a question as it would seem.



  82. Hi Al,

    Thanks. 🙂 I’m first and foremost a pragmatic bloke and recognising where the story for Mr Toothy was heading, we searched out and scored the delightful Plum and Ruby (sheep dog pups). Not an easy task to be sure. Mr Toothy and Ollie (the cattle dog) were best mates, and he was taking Mr Toothy’s declining health pretty hard.

    Who would have thought that the number pi was so roundly popular? 😉



  83. Hi DJ,

    Thank you and I really appreciate your thoughts and respect your salute. A worthy gesture indeed for a companion who has graced over a quarter of my life. Those particular trees originate in the sandy soils of Western Australia, and they are nightmare to grow in the clay in this extreme other eastern corner of the continent. But the flowers the plants produce are really stunning and so the effort is worth it. One of them is flowering right now, and I’ll chuck in a photo on the next blog. Toothy was of a cheeky mindset and if he’d had the chance he would have cocked his leg on the tree! And the tree would have appreciated the minerals – a win, win situation. 🙂 I miss him, and am glad he is resting up there with his old mates.

    Yup, I’m reading similar reports of the virus spread down here. As our resident and most excellent mathematician, you are probably all too aware of the dangers of the exponential function. And exactly, just because tests don’t confirm that it is not around in the local environment, does not imply that it is not around in the local environment. Logic suggests that we may not have tested the right people yet. Nobody knows the source of the virus or how long it has been floating around.

    I respect your decision, and the risk factors are indeed high in that situation. The leader of the local Green Wizards group has suggested a similar course of action of isolation. Mind you, some of us might still turn up regardless. Not sure yet how it will turn out.

    Hehe! Yeah, I got onto sorting that hot cross bun problem out this morning and apologised for my gaff. The apology does no harm, and the thing is hot cross buns are in limited supply there and so the inference otherwise was that I was being very greedy, and I am anything but that. But sometimes perceptions can become reality, and in rural areas you have to nip social problems in the bud before they escalate. A cheeky Chris might suggest that the course of action is a containment strategy (love my own virus segue there!)

    Did you just disprove Lewis’s augury with science, and then go on to suggest that 24 is good enough? I’m in awe! 😉

    Mate I have some really bad news. The eventual death rate for everyone is 100%. It’s truly awful, but always has it been thus. On the other hand the situation convinces me that whilst there is life: It’s good to be alive! I don’t get the panic either, but who knows how it will all turn out until after the dust has settled. Mind you, I can see the benefit in slowing down the rate of transmission in the community.

    Shame about the castle, but if we came down sick with the virus, who would man the crenulations upon the battlements? The barbarian hordes might over run us in a moment of weakness.

    Good to hear that you are recovering from your cold. Not good in these difficult times. And coughing and/or sneezing anywhere is a complicated look.

    Ollie is taking it the hardest of the fluffies as he was good mates with Mr Toothy. Over the past few weeks though Ollie has had his paws full with the two young sheep dog pups, and that was the plan. He watched us bury Mr Toothy yesterday, and dogs know. Scritchy on the other hand didn’t want anything to do with it after recognising what was going on, but at 19 years of age she may have concerns. The funny thing was after Sir Poopy died and was buried two years back, I found Scritchy that afternoon sitting next to his grave and chewing upon a bone in the afternoon sun just enjoying some quiet time with her deceased mate. Dogs react to a loss in their pack in strange ways and you can never tell in advance how it will go.

    Hehe! It would be funny if there actually was toilet paper at the local supermarket! The shelves were actually empty. Bonkers! The thing is, people don’t know how to cook from scratch using raw ingredients so they’re going for canned food. It isn’t good for their situation as the food just isn’t the same. I dunno, we’ll be fine as long as we don’t get too sick – that might be an actual problem, but we ain’t in the risk category – although anyone can get unlucky and that is possible.

    Over the past few weeks the roads have been quieter. All other considerations to the side, this has to be good for the planet, but it is a heck of a way to establish a new ecological equilibrium. I already work remotely for a few businesses, so that won’t be a drama, and I have enough experience to be able to keep the other ones limping along. The guberiment stimulus package (otherwise known in impolite circles as helicopter QE) appears to be predicated upon keeping up to date with quarterly business lodgements with the tax authorities.

    Why not? Indeed! There is much in what you suggest.

    I raise your snow and deal to you Southeastern Australia’s weekend chill . Not quite as cold, but cold enough.



  84. Hello again
    I note that you asked Claire about fear during the 1957 and 1968 flu epidemics. I probably had it on both occasions but only remember 1957. Remembered this one because I was pregnant at the time and so the date of the infection remains. As far as I can recall, there was no such thing as fear at the time. Fear does seem to be a feature of today and highly exacerbated by the media which swamps us.
    On the radio this morning, it was said that people today are not accustomed to being ill. Interesting, I am still thinking about it.


  85. 24 rolls of toilet paper would be sufficient. As long as they’re double rolls. 🙂 Lew

  86. @ Lew:

    Thank you for the Love in the Mist suggestion. I will see if I can find some.


  87. @ Claire:

    Thank you for your concerns about my son’s job. I think if he just sits tight, once the weather is consistently warm and the flu season is over people will get back to their gatherings and celebrations. He does love that job. The thing is that the company has a fair amount of debt and there is a chance that doing without any income for awhile may sink them. My son says that they are already selling off equipment to make ends meet.


  88. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, very good. And given that both you and I are fine upstanding gentlemen of the highest pedigree (sounds like describing a dogs lineage), we would never stoop to such low business, unless of course as you rightly suggest there is some serious mad cash to be had. At such times, scruples must be pushed to the side without a care! 🙂 Tis not cheap living the life of a gentleman you know. Hehe!

    Far out, the number of folks who appear to have a fixed story in their heads which suggests that they can just invest dollars, and someone else will run a profitable business on their behalf… I’m honestly not sure where such a story wormed its way into the collective imagination, but I can’t suggest that it works out so well. Of course before my time, it may have worked. Mind you, the story has a lot of similarities to the ‘get big, or get out story’.

    I like that word: SNAFU. So true. Mate, I apologised for the misunderstanding this morning. It does no harm, and my intentions were honourable, my execution was appalling, and perceptions can sometimes become facts. I tend to believe that the reaction I received was a result of the concerns over preparations for the coronavirus, and I noted that he had a persistent cough this morning. Oh well, that is how things go when dealing with the public. A lot of the wealthy folks in the more fashionable end of the mountain range make a habit out of travelling. It is a choice I guess, but it is not risk free.

    Makes you wonder if restrictions will be placed on leaf change tourism this year? Restrictions will apparently be put in place on gatherings of 500+ people on Monday.

    Thank you, and I’ll consider how to incorporate what you suggest about the prepper label into my worldview. I don’t see myself as a prepper. As it stands now, I discuss the subject from a perspective of personal stories when speaking about it with other people. The best impact comes from personal stories that are relevant with other peoples concerns.

    Your observation raises a difficult question though: Why? Back to stories it goes: I was pretty pissed off about how I was treated in the recession in the 90’s just because I was a young adult at the time. And so my response (and the editors) is in relation to that experience and what it taught us about how the world works. Not everyone has had that memo, and folks younger (and surprisingly also older) may not have experienced those ill winds.

    Of course you were quite correct I could have looked up gogle, but I don’t carry the interweb around with me everywhere I go, so glossary’s and explanations come in handy. I haven’t looked at row covers yet, but my mind was tossing around the idea of some sort of outdoor cover that keeps the soil warm and the early seedlings protected, thus saving them from transplant shock and frost risk all in one. Not sure how it might work, but it seems like a good idea. Greenhouses and poly tunnels down here are often abandoned or look dishevelled and I do wonder if it is a fungi problem, but haven’t managed to ask anyone about it. But it seems consistent enough to be of concern. I guess there ain’t no freebie lunches in gardening.

    Yay for snow! 🙂 What the carp is it you ask – Well it’s some sort of fluffy white frozen stuff that falls from thick clouds, that’s what it is. Hehe! I so loved the film Airplane as it was just very, very wrong. Holds up well too, although it is very politically incorrect. Good stuff.

    I read Mr Kunstler’s fine essay this morning – and was tempted to start reading the book. What to do Lewis? I’m in an agony of indecision. Do I get back to reading about seedlings later, and then indulge in the new favourite book? Hmm, seedlings aren’t needed for many months…

    Anyway, Mr Kunstler assumes that people have seen white swans, and that it is black swans that are an aberration. I say that white swans are the aberration QED. And now I rest my case and retire from the debating field in full glory!

    Talk of credit unions reminded me that the bank on Friday morning down here was chock full of people. What a contrast to your experience. I wonder what they were all doing in there? You may recall that I mentioned a few months back when a sign popped was plastered to the tellers window which said something about not being able to withdraw large sums of money from said institution without prior notice. Hmm. Coincidence to current events? Maybe, but the timing does not look good.

    Not many folks are thinking too far past the next day. Speaking of which our Prime Muppet may possibly have the virus: Sydney offices where Peter Dutton, who has coronavirus, attended Cabinet meeting scrubbed by cleaners. Cheeky wags may suggest that in dodging testing he is indeed leading by example! HRH would appreciate the walk and I’d enjoy it too if I were in your shoes.

    News is very much into BS territory at this stage, so who knows what is actually going on. It may also be moving too fast for the news and the reporters are relying on the vast echo chamber effect? Plus there are less of them these days – and they probably lead a nervous existence.

    Hope the book is the correct version of the title? Although I feel I must restate that it is a good thing that titles are not subject to copyright. The best ideas are sometimes other peoples!

    Far out, yes, the lady at the Club is following a wise strategy. I hope your Club adapts to the conditions, and everything turns out OK?

    Bragging via selfies about scoring the last pack of toilet paper is a really bad idea. You do know that I went out of my way this morning to correct what was a minor misunderstanding – that really didn’t look good for me? But bragging is not good, and who knows if there will be a backlash? There was no toilet paper at all in the supermarket this morning. Nabbing big game alright! Hey there were a few hunt trophies in the manor the other day. It was quite the thing for the wealthy back in those days. Processed food will get them! Hehe! Love it. Very funny stuff.

    Well yeah, demand reduction and over supply is a real problem for oil exporters. I spotted $1.25 Litre (3.8 Litres to a US Gallon) this morning and that was the cheapest I’d spotted for quite a while. Bear in mind over the past few months it had reached $1.70 Litre.

    Anyway. 8 x 4 = 32. Where’s the other 10? 😉

    Reason 5! Yes, absolutely, but the other reasons had weight behind them too. That reason was why I used the word ‘ritual’ to describe the process. Control is an allusion.

    Speaking of which, what is your take on the future economics of the situation in say four months time? I was speaking with someone today who was considering changing jobs at that point and I offered the advice that things may be awkward at that time. What do you reckon about that? Mind you, I can’t shake the feeling that it is possible to get burned by events outside your control, if only because it happened.

    I’m going good actor. Some people can project emotions effectively. Some sheep dogs can project poo similarly. Just had to clean one up. Yuk!

    Chuck’s book sounds excellent and I’ll add it to the ‘to read’ list. But first I really need to know: Mr Kunstler’s fine book – hardback edition by the way – or the seed raising book? I’m so torn!



  89. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for sharing your experience.

    What an excellent point, and I too will cogitate upon the matter. Hadn’t looked at it that way before.

    Even I am having troubles shutting out the fear. It is taking effort and energy to do so. The disturbing part of that story is that it is forcing peoples attention and actions even more inwards than before, and I can’t tell whether this is a goal, or a side effect? Dunno at all.



  90. @ Claire – I think us old folks, don’t take change well, because we’ve got the long view. It’s not always good. And, when things don’t work out, as Chris and I often bat back and forth, the excuse it, “It seemed like a good idea, at the time. What could possible go wrong?” 🙂 .

    I’m sure I’ll have the same square footage. I could probably get more, but 100 square feet, I can comfortably handle. Lew

  91. @ Pam – Just a couple of tips on the Love in the Mist. Seed is usually available, just about everywhere. Plant them shallow. Just a sprinkle of dirt over them. And, they can be invasive. A bit. Those not-of-this-world seed pods pop, and fling seed everywhere. Lew

  92. Yo, Chris – OHHHH NOOOO!!! I got an e-mail last night that the library is closing down, No books in, no books out. Just hold on to whatever we have, for the duration. Just by luck, I stopped by the library, yesterday. Picked up two books on hold and just happened to grab a handful of DVD’s that were coming back. Oh, I won’t do to bad. I have a pile of books that I picked up at one book sale or another, that I haven’t touched yet. I may visit the old DVD guy at the flea market, today. If I can get there … He sells them for $1 a pop. He has thousands. Unfortunately, in no order.

    Luckily, one of the books waiting for me was “Burning Stone”. And, the right author. So, I’ve got the only circulating library copy, in the US. All the way from Abilene, Texas! Another door stop, from Mr. Wyatt. Over 500+ pages. Kicks off with a bang. Varrus (who is 10) listens to his grandfather (a crusty old military man) describe being a near witness to two cohorts of troops being wiped out by a comet, up in Dacia. North of the Danube River. Todays Transylvania.

    Well, it snowed all day yesterday, into the late afternoon. Couldn’t even see I-5. But, none of it stuck to the streets. It began to come down early this morning. Still not quit sticking to the streets, but is to everything else. And I want to run a couple of errands, in about a half hour. Darn it, I’ve got plans! 🙂 .

    But, to your missive. Restaurants are notorious for interfering investors. Either they think they know better than the chef (but, sometimes they do. Ego, and all), or, they think they, their families and a cast of thousands of friends should all get freebees. Not a recipe (bad pun?) for business success.

    Well, preppers come in all flavors. Everything from religious fanatics and gun nuts at one end, and just sensible people, on the other. I wonder what your neighbors, down in the valley think of you lot? LOL. Remember. If you can see them, they can see you. I can imagine some of the conversations. “He’s digging out another terrace!”

    Well, I’d say failed row covers are maybe because there’s a certain amount of opening and closing them, for air circulation. I bet there’s some kind of recyclable material you could use. On a plant by plant basis, old gallon plastic jugs make a good cover.

    Well, I don’t know what to say about your reading order. Sounds like a moral quandary, to me. And I steer clear of other people’s moral quandaries. Yup. No help here. You could pick a title out of a hat? But then, you’d be going, “Best two out of three?” 🙂

    Whit swans, black swans. Depends on your point of view. Clinging to the bottom of the planet, as you do, black swans make perfect sense. Here, not so much. 🙂 .

    I’ve discovered HRH tells time, better than I do. The other day, I went to walk here, and she just wouldn’t come to the door. Finally did. When I got back, Eleanor was waiting for me, laughing. Did I know I was an hour early? Eleanor took a tumble, last night. No harm done. When I got back from walking the dog, she was sitting on the floor and couldn’t get up. She’s not what I’d call overweight, but is well padded. She insisted I go get Mike, which I did. We got her upright, and all was fine.

    As I was drifting off to sleep, last night, I had an interesting sci-fi rift. In the distant future, the venerated elder of a farming village falls ill. The call goes out, far and wide, for each household to bring it’s totem, to pile around the elder, and maybe effect a healing. No one knows what the totems symbolize. But one is given at every wedding, with great ceromony, to the newly established household. They are cylinders, 4″ high and 4″ across. Painted white with a 2″ hold drilled through them. There must be 42 tacked around the elder, to effect possible healing ….. 🙂

    I don’t know what to say about the economy. Things could get very bad. Maybe like the Great Depression. I just don’t know. But small businesses and workers, are going to be hit very hard. Read an article over at Bloomberg News, about what it’s like in Italy, right now. Not good. Lew

  93. @ Chris: I was a baby in 1957 so I can’t answer to fear at that time. I can tell you that I only know about the 1968 flu pandemic because I’ve read about it since then. I don’t know if it ever hit the news, unlike the Vietnam War, assassinations, race riots, and other events that were part of the everyday news cycle and that I do remember well. Maybe all that stuff crowded out coverage of the flu. But I think it’s more like what Inge said: we weren’t taught to be afraid of getting sick with the flu or any of the other communicable diseases. By that time smallpox and polio vaccines had virtually eliminated those diseases, so perhaps people thought the rest would also be eliminated in due time. Or perhaps people had a better grasp of their own mentality and didn’t fear it so much. You’ve posed an excellent question which I too would like to have answered, if an answer is available.


  94. Hi Chris,
    My condolences on the passing of Mr. Toothy. As you’ve indicated it wasn’t a surprise. From all accounts he had a good life which is most important. How are Ollie and Scritchy taking it? I imagine Ruby and Plum have not gotten too attached yet.

    Yours is a common misconception of palliative care. I don’t recall how Kathleen came to that decision other than she just got so fed up with the “sick care” industry and wasn’t getting good results. I’ll have to ask her more next time I see her. At that time I had a lot on my plate.

    Doug says he thinks people will be selling the toilet paper and other sought after products and I believe he’s right. I made my foray to Meijer (large grocery store) and Costco yesterday for weekly items and a few stock ups. Both places were way busier than normal but few were purchasing items in extreme amounts. There were a fair number of items in short supply but only a few things were totally out of stock. I did want to get an extra bag of dog food at Costco and the inventory was much less than normal. I think things got worse as the day wore on. From relatives in the city the report is more grim. This morning I went into town primarily to pick up a book from the library. Libraries have been closing too often with no notice. Our head librarian said she was staying open unless forced to close. All schools in Illinois are now closed as well and all learning is to be on-line but around 20% of students in our district don’t have internet at home. I can imagine this is much worse in Chicago. On top of that many students get free meals so now all that has to be arranged. I did stop at Walmart to get an item I couldn’t find yesterday – mealworm for the bluebirds that are just arriving now. Saw a couple yesterday checking out some of our nesting boxes. Anyway Walmart was strangely empty as was town and the library. Oh yes, they were out of frozen pizza.

    I’ve used floating row covers quite a bit – primarily to protect transplants from the winds we can get around here. At our old place one particular cat got great joy in getting under the cover, rolling around and eventually ripping it.

    My oldest daughter does suffer from anxiety and she doesn’t think either of us should go out anywhere. I haven’t mentioned it but her husband has some mental health issues that he won’t address and things at home can get pretty tense at times. He is a workaholic at least and isn’t home too much but now, as she feared, his company has him working at home. Everything is closed by her including the library and park district so I am rather concerned. I wouldn’t be surprised if she and the twins will need to get away for awhile depending how long this goes on and will end up with us. I keep telling her that this too will pass and sometimes I think she almost believes me.

    We have 24 rolls of toilet paper, fyi.


  95. @Lew

    Hoping the gardens get straightened out after all the work you’ve done with your plot. I was wondering about your library.


    Very sorry to read about your son but as Claire said I think this is going to happen to many – especially those who work for small companies. One of my nephews is a free lance videographer and as he primarily does events his work has really taken a dive.


  96. Hi Chris
    In your Post to Lew concerning Temporary garden plant warming. You might take a look at the category: Concrete Curing Blankets. They come in all kinds of configurations and insulating properties. Concrete installation accessory stores carry them. They are made of various materials basically sheets of. Material laminated to flexible insulation core. They are rented or sold and available some places in used condition. I have bought them for jobs in years past . Don’t know present costs . Probably several suppliers in Melbourne.
    Might be worth a brief look.
    Cheers Al

  97. Hi Lewis,

    Strewth! 😉 It ain’t just the library my good friend. All visitors to this country from anywhere must now self isolate for 14 days upon arrival in the country. As a side note to this story, Damo had been intending to drop by over the next week. Don’t reckon that is going to happen now. Oh well, hopefully it all blows over in time.

    Imagine if your library fine system was run by a robot who took it upon itself to raise funds for the library by fining late returns during this crisis. Imagine trying to prove to the library that you’d returned the book on a certain day (I assume you have library after hours return chutes), but nobody was there to check in the return for weeks. Mayhem ensues as the robot votes itself a pay rise and memory expansion in recognition of it achieving its revenue goals and then some. 😉 Of course, like the Terminator, I always wondered why someone didn’t just pull the plug on the pesky machine… It did seem to be rather a nuisance.

    There is a huge pile of books waiting to be read here too. There is some talk in the media about lock downs being a possibility, so the editor and I were discussing all of the projects around the farm we could get done with the materials we have to hand. Why waste precious time?

    What a score with Mr Whyte’s book! If you wanted to tease me, you could just give me some glowing reviews and then chuck in the odd hint as to the story line. 🙂 Strange toothy things are attributed to the land of Transylvania.

    Haha! Yes, events do get in the way of the best of plans. Who said something about battle plans rarely surviving engagement with the enemy? Did you manage to get out and run your errands?

    Having known a number of restaurant businesses, one thing they have in common is the high turnover of staff. Apparently it is a normal and accepted part of commercial kitchens. The hours would probably be a disincentive and the broken shifts (lunch + dinner) would not suit everyone, that’s for sure. A mate of mine was a talented chef who worked in pubs, but he quit that trade due to the hours involved. Before hearing that side of the story, I was entirely oblivious as to the personal cost. But yeah, freebie products and big ego’s rarely make for a sustainable business.

    It is funny you mention that particular perspective about what the folks in the valley think of us. Yeah, well, the feedback is not good to be candid. You see, despite them living in paddocks which are devoid of wildlife, they took umbrage to any development up here (despite the nearby hamlet being in existence since the 1860’s). So the story goes, it somehow affects their visual amenities. Now if they had of purchased the land themselves – which they hadn’t – then they might have a valid point.

    Very few folks up in this mountain range use their land for productive purposes. It is the strangest story that. However, having just written that, I’ll tell you that I have noticed recently the installation of several fruit cages, chicken runs, and vegetable patches being created in nearby properties. I’d call that interesting.

    Some locals have proffered the unsolicited opinion that we work too hard, but I feel that we don’t work hard enough – we’re just very consistent. A bit like the tortoise and the hare story.

    Yes, a good idea about using recycled materials in the row cover, and at this point I now want to cogitate upon the matter further because the possibilities aren’t clear in my mind. Something needs to be put in place, in situ. There are just too many plants to do the whole transplant thing. Now the tomatoes this year are a good example because the growing season has just been too short to have produced much fruit from those plants. And no matter how good the row covers were, it would not have made a sneeze of difference as the growing season was very short, but intense.

    OMG! So respect your total dodge of the moral quandary. Given the virus dramas, I’m leaning towards Mr Kunstler’s book. At least it will provoke some discussion the next time I’m enjoying it at a cafe. Oh yeah, it will that’s for sure. Will keep you updated.

    Exactly, black swans are the norm here. There are intangible benefits to be had from living at the bottom of the planet, and not getting freaked out about black swans is one of those. 😉

    Absolutely, dogs just know. You wait until you see the photo of Ollie posing next to the gargoyle! It is uncanny, but dogs know stuff. HRH is closer to wild breeds than you’d imagine, and who knows what special traits lie in reserve in her repertoire?

    Glad to read that Eleanor doesn’t appear to have suffered too greatly from her most recent tumble. Indignities aside. Getting older is not an easy ride.

    Hehe! Your story was very funny. Life is chancey at best.

    Yup, small businesses, casual workers, the self employed (hello!) are going to get hit hard. The way the media works, if lock downs are being touted, I suspect that they may be soon in place. It occurred to me this morning that the helicopter QE is probably going to ensure that peoples obligations continued to be paid. One thing I learned during my time debt collecting was that if people get out of the habit of making regular payments, then the chance of eventual recovery was not good. They work out that they may not need to continue paying, and that the legal system is not cheap. But that larger story is like one of those big domino games they used to set up in maybe the 70’s? They were good fun to watch. If a butterfly gets a sneeze in China, the rest of the world quakes in fear.



  98. Hi Claire,

    My mother told me never to guess at a ladies age, but if forced to do so, deduct at least 20 years. The only bit of good advice from that corner! 😉

    Hehe! Yeah, I was wondering at the extent of your personal experience and thus my question to you. When I was a kid I recall going to Primary School with a kid who’s mum had contracted German measles when pregnant. Us kids used to use a most unflattering nickname with him, but at the end of the day he was just another kid among a whole bunch of other kids. There was a character in the 1980’s film Animal House who appeared to be similarly afflicted.

    I sort of agree in that there was a point at which people believed that things somehow didn’t matter on the health front. And now we are seeing the consequences of that attitude. Turns out it does matter.

    I tell you truly I have been struck low by some very unpleasant bugs whilst travelling overseas. For reasons, mostly economic, we only travelled to exotic third world countries. All very challenging experiences, but this time the disease genie appears to have spread its wings further afield.



  99. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you and I appreciate your concern. Ollie and Scritchy are reacting differently. Ollie was closer to Mr Toothy than Scritchy was, despite Scritchy’s lengthy association. However, Scritchy is displaying distress in her own way and is now making an attempt to fit in with the other dogs. She is a complicated personality. Ollie has busied himself with the two pups – and that was behind the idea of obtaining them in the first place. Everyone grieves differently, and even animals approach it that way. Plum and Ruby basically didn’t care, which is to be expected given their age and demeanour.

    Yeah, I really had no idea that there were other options which also fell under that nomenclature. If your sister is getting good results, then it is a good option for her, and perhaps a path I would also follow if in the same circumstances.

    The supermarket shelf stripping thing is perhaps riding upon the wave of rumours that we are soon to all be placed in lock down. Today, arrivals from anywhere overseas have to place themselves in self isolation for two weeks. Cruise ships are apparently not being allowed to disembark either for 30 days, although there was a suggestion that Border Force would repatriate citizens – although they’ll probably end up somewhere very remote for two weeks. The response appears to be pretty serious, although perhaps as a suggestion it is two weeks too late.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? People are waking up to the fact that they have to rely upon friends and/or relatives for supplies if they are quarantined, and they may not have those to fall back upon.

    And yup, I read a very interesting article about the complexities involved in dealing with your health care system. The cost of the average visit to an emergency room was prohibitive from my perspective at something in the order of AU$2,200! Far freakin out. Forget about the interweb access for the school kids, without health insurance would anyone in their right mind go to such a place if that was the outcome?

    Do you know, I have no idea what a floating row cover is!!!! True story, I read about them, and consider them a good idea, I just have no idea what they look like and have been too flat out recently to investigate it. I can well imagine what future folks will feel like reading our literature… What is this technology? – it sounds amazing!

    Not to put too fine a point upon it, the partner a person chooses to head out upon the adventure that is this thing called life, can have a very big impact on said life. Yes, go with your gut feeling and bring her and the twins home – if it possible.

    I applaud your good grasp of mathematics. DJ ran the numbers yesterday and they were good! 😉



  100. @ Margaret:

    I am sorry to hear about your nephew running into work problems, too.

    I am worried a bit about your daughter. Perhaps she could use what I do for anxiety? Mind you – I am not actually recommending it. It is Niacinamide, one form of vitamin B3. Not Niacin, which is B3 also and can help, too, but is way stronger and can give one a hefty hot flash and itching for a little while. Niacinamide is also water soluble like Vit C and thus one can take quite a bit safely.


  101. Hello again
    Back to the subject of people being unused to being ill. When I was a child it was the norm to be ill in bed at sometime during the winter, with a high temperature for at least 3 days. No medication of any kind. I was 26 or 27 the first time that I had an antibiotic and recovered in 24 hours. I don’t believe that they are as immediately effective now. Can’t remember when I first received a pain killer but it must have been well into adulthood.
    I don’t know what this all means and of course we can now survive things that we couldn’t at one time but are we less capable of mentally dealing with lesser ailments?


  102. @ Margaret – Well, our public library is locked down, til the end of April. No books in or out. All buildings, closed. They don’t charge fines, anyway, so the e-mail they sent out said to just hold onto stuff, for the duration.

    The Institutions library is locked up. Which is also the computer room. The few hard core readers, we know who we are. So, we can swap books back and forth. I worry a bit about the “stealth” readers. The one’s who only read from time to time. Oh, well. There’s always that old standby … the back of cereal boxes. 🙂 Lew

  103. @ Pam – The link to the Italians singing … the audio didn’t work. Probably, my old software. I’ll check out YouTube, later. That still perks along. Lew

  104. Yo, Chris – Don’t dispair, yet. Damo is very resourceful 🙂 .

    The library removed late fees, about six months ago. It’s a manifestation of their latest catch phrase. “Removing Barriers.” The last catch phrase was “Lifelong Learning.” The book chutes can be locked, and the e-mail everyone got was very clear. Hold on to the stuff, for the duration. Things dumped near the book chutes .. damaged or missing material will be charged.

    I went down to the Club, yesterday, and while I was there, visited the old DVD guy. Thousands of DVDs (in no particular order) for a buck a pop. I got ten. Mostly, disaster flicks and satin-is-going-to-get-you stuff. Found a documentary about the Great Missoula flood. We’ve talked about that. When the great lake, over in Montana tore lose, after the last ice age, and scoured every thing to the bedrock from Montana to the Pacific. What I didn’t realize, is that the lake kept reforming, and the event happened many, many times. They can count the layers. In a complete lapse in taste, I even picked up an Adam Sandler film.

    Speaking of things that move on screens, when I was at the library, I picked up the first season of a series, I hadn’t heard of. “Ghosted” The illegitamite (I thought if I used the “B” word, this post would get pitched in the trash) child of “Men in Black”, meets “Ghostbusters”. A comedy. The pilot was kind of flat, but, you need it to figure out the whole set up. Basically, two miss matched guys are drafted by a secret government agency to investigate alien and paranormal stuff.

    Further into “The Burning Stone.” By the way, it crossed my mind how many swords could have been made by whatever fell on Transylvania. Well, Wyatt is doing his usual set up. Many different characters, in different times and places … whose paths will all eventually cross. The set up is pretty interesting. There was the cult of Mithras, which we don’t know very much about. Empire wide, and very popular with the military. Well, part of the Mithras cult is a(nother) secret society, devoted to stamping out corruption and keeping the Empire humming along.

    Ah, that is a familiar story, about the neighbors. The little house I bought, years ago, the old duffer next door wasn’t friendly, at all. Always carping to everyone about me. Turns out, he wanted my little chunk of land. But wasn’t willing to pay the $8,500 for it. He was waiting for the price to go down. And I waltzed in and snapped it up. Oh, dear. His land sat five or so feet higher, than mine, so he could glare down on me. Until I planted the timber bamboo hedge … 🙂 .

    Well, I hit the Safeway at 7am, this morning. An ungodly hour. They open at 5. As you know, I’ve been boycotting them, but, there were a few things I haven’t been able to find at the cheap food stores, and want to go into lockdown, for a few weeks, and just didn’t want to keep beating the brush.

    Much to my surprise, the store was pretty crowded. But, everyone was polite (although there seemed to be a bit of underlying tension), and there were no people staring into space in the middle of the aisles. I’d already decided if I ran into one of those, I’d pretend to hack out a lung in my elbow. It would be like parting the Red Sea.

    Shelves were pretty full, except for the toilet paper aisle. An army of stockers were throwing stuff on the shelves. The frozen veg case was pretty empty. But, they were offering pound bags of their veg, free, for just showing up. Luckily, not every one likes Brussels sprouts. 🙂 Lew

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