Love in a time of crisis

Without any doubts, the past week has been the craziest week that I can recall. At the beginning of the week I had a business, now at the conclusion of the week, I don’t exactly know what is going on. The things I’ve seen and heard this week would stir the blood of the average prepper and make them excited beyond belief. And the state of Victoria now appears to be in lock down. How am I meant to get my coffee fix if the state is in a lock down?

For some strange reason my sleep this week has been far less sound than usual, and I awoke in the dark hours of last night to the story of the memories of one of my earliest encounters with the editor.

It must have been around 1992, and the youth radio waves were filled with the sounds of angry garage bands. You may have heard of the band Nirvana, well the lead singer was still banging on the radio about this harsh cruel world. And who could forget the angriest song that I have ever heard: Rage Against The Machine – Killing In the Name. Few artists could reach into such depths of rage and angst and produce such anger – with a bit of well timed potty mouth to boot.

There was something to be angry about. We were in the recession that according to the Federal treasurer of the time: “We had to have”. Nice words, but with 10% unemployment, you fought tooth and nail to get a job, and the competition was fierce. I’d lost my cushy job with the state government. The editor had lost her job with a big tech company.

At the time I knew of accountants who spent their days stacking shelves in supermarkets. I couldn’t afford to be out of work, and heading home was not an option. Being the crafty sort that I am, I took the unglamorous job of corporate debt collection. Bizarrely enough given it was a dirty job and someone had to do it, so long as the money poured in, nobody bothered me. I spent four years pretty much calling my own shots – as long as the money continued to roll in.

One of my favourite activities with the job was doing the banking. Back in those days, nobody did electronic banking, and cheques (checks in US parlance) were physically sent in the mail. And I had the honour of recording the payments (cheques were a win for team me!) and taking the cheques down to the bank to deposit.

Pension days meant that I could be stuck down at the bank for a couple of hours along with a whole lot of pensioners. At least I was getting paid to do so. It was always important to note which days were pension days because I made sure that I went to the toilet before I headed off to the bank to deposit the cheques.

As someone doing a necessary, but dirty job, nobody kept any tabs on me. And whilst I am usually scrupulously honest, one time I ducked out to visit the other bank in the area where I did my personal banking. Nobody noticed. The goal was a personal loan for a Personal Computer. True story!

Computers were very expensive in those days (About $4,000 compared to a one bedroom apartment which was about $40,000 at the time). And I’d talked myself into the need for one, just so as to make it easier to do my part time (at night) University undergraduate work. You see, when I worked for the state government, I became rather used to using their computers, printers etc. But now, as a lowly paid corporate debt scavenger, I no longer had easy access to a computer.

As these stories go, I didn’t have two cents to rub together so as to pay for the computer, so my solution was to hit up the bank for a loan. Winning! Except the bank was having a run on its funds by overly concerned deposit holders. I didn’t see what all the fuss was about, and never had any money to lose anyway, but far out, the bank queues were so long.

So there I was standing in line at the bank, that was having a run on its deposits, and behind me in the queue was the Editor. I worked in South Melbourne, she lived in South Melbourne and we used to bump into each other. Of course I didn’t know the Editor well at the time, as she was a friend of a friend. However the queue was long and we struck up a conversation: “Hey, you’re Paul’s mate. How are you going?”

Now the Editor was wearing a delightful white cheesecloth dress that showed off all the right curves in all the right places. From time to time when the Editors eyes drifted away and her face expressed disdain for the length of the queue, I managed a quick sneaky look. I was smitten, but the Editor was clearly out of my league – and she knew it. Still, into the fray I leapt, and engaged her with witty conversation. We had a few laughs and fortunately for me, the queue was long and nobody cared where I was.

The editor was unemployed at the time, and had previously been working for a big tech company, which meant she knew absolutely nothing about computers. This was fortunate for me, as if she had known why I was at the bank that day (grovelling for a personal loan for a computer), there may have been a scene!

The Editor: Why is the queue so freakin long? All I want to do is pay this bill. Who are all these people? Don’t they know that the Reserve Bank has promised to support this bank? Have they nothing better to do with their time! The way things are going I might miss my midday coffee. Hang on, is that Paul’s friend, Chris? He’s alright that guy, but why does he keep staring at my boobs?

Who would have thought that standing in a bank queue could be so much fun. Glad I wore my cheesecloth hippy dress today, because it is not my usual get-up. Oh no, we’re getting to the front of the queue and he hasn’t even asked me on a date. Guys, Pah!

And we met again several more times by chance before I plucked up the courage to ask her on a date!

Hope you enjoyed the story! Recessions aren’t all bad news as you never know what opportunities will present themselves.

Wedge Tail Eagles circle over the valley where it looks as though there is a horizontal rainbow

We kept working on the epic upgrade of the solar power system. It boggles my mind sometimes that a chance discussion at a pub with a friend of a friend lead to such a massive project. Regular readers will recall that a bloke offered me 8 solar panels for free, and I picked up another 8 solar panels for $400. People rarely take up such opportunities because they turn up wearing overalls and look like hard work! And that has certainly been the case with this project.

This week, the huge steel frame was trimmed and bolted together.

The steel frame for the new-old solar panels was completed

After another days hard work, the steel arrangement for the two solar panels in the above photo were disassembled and the first eight solar panels were installed. Although none of the solar panels have been wired up yet.

The first eight solar panels were installed onto the custom steel frame

The extra solar panels are going to make a huge difference to the battery charging over winter. And I’m grateful for that because the solar panels are going to have to work, because at this stage I have neglected to purchase a 48V battery charger which I can connect up to my generator… And who knows how long this lock down period of craziness will go on for.

Earlier in the week rumours of lock downs were flying left, right, and centre, so I dropped everything that I could drop, and fertilised the new garden terraces with a mix of composted woody mulch and compost for the raised row beds. This week, I truly have worked like a dog.

The middle garden terrace was fertilised with composted woody mulch and compost for the rows
The upper garden terrace was likewise fertilised. Ruby assisted with additions of her own solid and liquid fertiliser.

Observant readers will note the patches of green in the above photo. Those are broad beans which will happily grow right through the winter.

For folks with a delicate disposition, please skip the next paragraph and photo. For everyone else, Ollie Esquire, the Australian cuddle dog (he’s actually a cattle dog) hunted, killed and ate his first rabbit this week. He was so proud of himself, and he even shared his meal with his two side kicks, the Australian sheep puppies Plum and Ruby. If he can keep that up, it will surely save on dog food costs, which are already pretty cheap given that we make a lot of it ourselves.

Ollie, hunted, killed and ate his first rabbit this week

Since the demise of the gentle Sir Scruffy, the rabbits have been enjoying a good time of it on the farm. Sir Scruffy was a rather robust dog that demanded very little in the way of feed, because he was eating the rabbit population. A lovely dog who is sorely missed.

Anyway, Ollie’s side kicks (Plum and Ruby) love him to bits, and I reckon he is their mascot.

Plum and Ruby love the huge Ollie to bits

In breaking produce news, the growing season is coming to an end:

This pumpkin was from last season and was roasted today
Tomato season was very bad due to the late start to the season, and then the crazy heat and dry. We have only dehydrated about 3% of our usual volume
The corn that eventually grew, produced well, and the slim eggplants have been gracing our table of late

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums overflow out of the garden
This cactus and rambling rose are both true garden survivors
Geraniums can cheer up a dark week
One of the many Salvia varieties growing here
This pink Penstemon battles it out with the Geraniums
A nice garden aspect

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 281.6mm (11.1 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 280.0mm (11.0 inches).

101 thoughts on “Love in a time of crisis”

  1. Hi crowandsheep,

    Many thanks, and at the moment we are in a state of triage and have for the past two weeks been reaching out to everyone. Of course we are very unlikely to be paid for such work, but that is hardly the point of the exercise.

    On the sunny side of the dawn we will find ourselves in a different place. It will look similar, but yet be somehow different. 😉



  2. Hi Pam,

    What did they say about living in interesting times?

    What I’m finding interesting is that ideas are mooted in the media, and then before you know it, the ideas have become reality. Who knew that the powers that be could move so fast?

    Spare a moments thoughts for the folks who have to register for unemployment benefits down here at a gubermint agency called Centrelink. The systems appears Byzantine to me: MyGov website crashes as thousands seek Centrelink help amid coronavirus pandemic, Government backflips on claims cyber attack to blame. Yeah, not a good look.



  3. Hi DJ,

    Absorbing new information takes as long as it takes. Dunno about you, but I describe the process as absorbing things into my worldview. We’re actually pretty adaptable creatures, and I’ve seen poverty in the third world. With your contacts with the rez, you may also have seen how structural inequality can play out. My thinking, and I’d be curious as to your opinion, but if you can recognise such a contrast, you’re probably doing OK. It is a difficult act of say a mental exercise, putting yourself in someone else’s boots and walking side by side with them

    You may have noticed that it is not uncommon for people to ignore such data points? A bit of a nuisance really. I’m still scratching my head trying to get my mind around what businesses are operating and what aren’t as we are in some strange form of lock down. It would not surprise me at all if people reverted to the sort of illegal raves and speakeasy’s of yore. The pubs and cafes have been shut down unfortunately. Coffee…

    Hehe! Yup, the ordeal of the early 1990’s introduced me to the editor. Lewis mentioned writing something with more humour, and that is where this week’s story originated. All good fun. My mates and I had a blast during the hardest of those days. You are a lucky man to have so enjoyed your time with a wise soul. Takes one to know one!

    The local gardening club sent me an email today to say that they’d been inundated with orders for plants and seeds. Hmm, such folks are possibly about half a decade too late, but all credit to them for giving it a go. There have been some stories in the media which sound a lot like Victory gardens.

    Your work day sounded better than mine. In between bringing back farm supplies (mostly compost and some sand and cement), I’d been taking calls with clients and discussing coping mechanisms and strategies. And that has been the pattern for many days now. The exchange rate here is sinking rapidly. It is not the end of the world though and we’ll all get by just fine.

    You reckon the crowds you were dealing with were bad. There is a link in my reply to Pam above which describes how the queues and systems for unemployment benefits are working down here. I have to use that rotten id program in order to log into the gubamints systems – and that was the same system which caused me to have to nab a smart phone as it is a one stop ID system.

    Fair enough, I’m looking at local statistics. China has special issues in relation to smokers and poor air quality.

    Your lady was lucky to get into the store. Down here we have bouncers at the entrance and this morning I had to explain why I didn’t have a loyalty card with the supermarket. It was a humiliating experience, but my story was pretty good and they checked my ID and paperwork. Oh yeah, and the shelves for TP wer empty, except some cheeky wag at the store decided to fill the empty shelves with Easter chocolates.

    I wrote about the tone in Mr Greer’s comments, and you know it is awful to say it, but somehow we’ve managed to distance our lives from death. From my perspective it is not a good thing, and I have seen my share of dead and dying people and can’t pretend that things are otherwise.

    I wish it were not so, but this correction has been a long time coming.



  4. Hi Margaret,

    The resulting flatulence from the rabbit was epic. At one point I was gagging at the stench. And the fluffies looked suitably proud of their efforts. You know, they had no shame whatsoever at the stink they left behind, and all three of them were up to their eyeballs in rabbit pong.

    Unfortunately the numbers were against Ollie, and as a result we have now extended him the title: Esquire. He is a gentleman, but something less than a Knight. Ollie Esquire has a nice ring to it though?

    I hear you about the restricted social life. Damo had plans to drop over for a few days, and the self-isolation business killed that. Getting an international aircraft trip anywhere is a tough ask these days. There are reports of Australian citizens stuck in South America, and yeah, there are no plans to repatriate them.

    Take out is going gang busters, but dine in is not so possible. I quiver in fear at the thought of a take out coffee, and the waste, but how do you support local businesses that are doing it really tough? Same, same down here. What do you do?

    How is your spring garden going? Things are winding up around here for the season. Looking at the weather forecast, there is a big rain coming next Sunday night, and I plan to get the winter crop seeds and transplants in before then. That’s the plan anyway…



  5. Hi Inge,

    Good luck, and know that I shall miss our regular chats. Hope you are OK and the problems are soon corrected.

    Ollie earned the title: Esquire, and one can only hope that we eventually learn your opinion of this recognition of good deeds?

    The phone network here has been occasionally overloaded during the past few days.



  6. Hi Al,

    Fair enough and you make a solid case for OH and S rules. However, a year or two back I was at a commercial organic orchard speaking to some folks I know, and they told me that the rules meant they could not step one foot on an orchard ladder. Some policies can be taken too far and a bit of middle ground would be useful.

    Who doesn’t drill pilot holes in structural steel? Mate, you’d have arms like a blacksmith if you didn’t need to do that! 🙂

    $64 per Megawatt is quite cheap really. The solar power system has probably set me back about $60k and so far has generated about 15 Megawatt Hours. That works out to be – and please correct my math if I’m wrong – $4k per Megawatt Hour (so far). The price should halve to a bit below half that amount before it all packs it in at some point in the future. This renewable energy stuff makes very little economic sense. I have read elsewhere that battery storage EROEI is not good, but still at least it is above 1.

    Is that number correct for your rainfall: 4 to 6 inches per annum (or for the quarter)? What is the annual rate?

    Yeah, I can well see that with the lesser south west slope producing some springs. I reckon it is always possible to get rainfall back into the ground so that it can recharge aquifers, although it takes a fair bit of effort with the vegetation arrangements and build up of top soil. People rarely invest in such outcomes, although I do.

    Farm dams and ponds here attract snakes which come for a drink as well as consuming the frogs etc. Mostly the snakes are attracted to rodents and can smell them from miles away, and before the European rodents, there were, and still are marsupial rodent equivalents. But I take your point and am thinking about how to incorporate ground level water storage. I’m really not sure about the idea but it most certainly should be implemented at some undefined point in the future.

    Yes, chapter 3 was fascinating and I note that the bloke shares my work ethic and common sense. Mate, I have seen that fire truck story too, and view it with disgust. Chapter 2 was the finest review of the renewable energy craziness that I have yet encountered. It is good stuff that book, and I’m into Chapter 4 now.



  7. Hi Lewis,

    A good point, and my mates with the big shed have exchanged words. They have an amazing set up, and between the two farms we cover different aspects, and thus have a handle on a wide variety of things. I may have to see whether I can obtain a rooster and some chicken breeding advice from them. They’ve bred chickens for years and are always playing around with their genetic heritage. The thing I’ve always been a bit ooky about, is that with a rooster, I’d have to begin consuming the excess roosters, which are part of the normal breeding process, and then bring in new roosters – and nobody around here has the common sense to be keeping chickens for any length of time. They let them free range and inevitably the foxes get the chickens to everyone’s (except mine) surprise.

    However, the cycle of life and death is a part of life on a farm and I should just man-up and do the job of getting a rooster, but my mind is rather full at the moment. I have only so much spare capacity, and am focusing on getting systems in, and then improving upon them. It is a long journey that, and a hard way to learn. Plus I am giving a lot more than normal right now to other people, mostly clients who have the will to fight this… It is common knowledge that anyone can be an expert in a bull market, a bear market is a whole ‘nother thing, and advice about surviving hard times is where I come in.

    On the weather forecast it looks as though over late next week there will be a sunny and warm day followed by some serious rain. Perfect weather for getting the winter seeds in the ground so they can germinate before it gets too cold.

    Over the past week I’ve been grabbing farm supplies – not the sort of thing anyone would want or need, but just stuff to make life easier – and it has been exhausting moving all of those materials. As we are into lock down, some supplies may shut from tomorrow close of business, and it has become a race against time. Plus in between all of that I’ve been on the phone and assisting clients get through this mess of a time.

    What do they say about may you live in interesting times? With the lock down fast approaching, things may soon get rather dull and boring, which might not be a bad thing! 😉

    How are you going up there? Have the garden plans been shelved?

    The article is great, and most importantly raises the tough questions. I hope the US retreats from Empire as graciously as did the British Empire. Grace in defeat is an act of maturity. I heard on the radio today a union representative suggesting that we go back to making many of the items that we currently use. Who’d have thunk it? Incomes are dropping here, and that is a necessity to get that story rolling along.

    Mate, dunno about the Swiss cheese loop holes down here! Believe it or not I was carded at the local supermarket by a bouncer and forced to prove that I was a local and also a previous customer of the business. Fortunately I had pre-empted this possibility, but now have to carry a card which implies that I’m OK and vetted. The times they are a changin’! At least I could purchase some milk, salt and sugar. My needs are few. The toilet paper shelves were empty and some cheeky wag in the store had begun displaying Easter chocolate in the formerly empty toilet paper shelves. I had to also work out the local post office / general store (where I’m known) and feed store (again where I’m known). The bank had quite the queue out the door.

    Hey, apparently there are a new force of 500 police to enforce the lock downs. I reckon just like your prohibition days, speakeasy’s will proliferate (after a while). When I was a young bloke, empty warehouses used to be rented out, and raves (impromptu electronic dance parties) were held. Coming to a screen near you, and soon. People will get bored, and what did they used to say about idle hands being the Devils workshop? The queues at the gubamints dole office were epic today.

    Thank you, and Ollie is chuffed with his new title of Esquire! As you note, it has a nice ring to it and will make his paw print shine. 🙂

    Yes, I’m all too aware of the history of the 1919 Spanish flu. I did note that in reading about the history of that epidemic, folks who survived the first round, fared much better than those who avoided the first round.

    Actually I have a couple of different sources of wheat seeds, and me being me, I’ll probably mix them all together and see what strain eventuates. The plant has a minor problem of succumbing to diseases over a number of generations, so I’ll save seed rather randomly in future. The Federation Wheat is apparently very hardy to drought, heat and poor soils, it just doesn’t work well with combine harvesters that prefer shorter varieties of wheat. It is worth noting that shorter varieties of wheat have smaller root systems. Not too many centuries ago, wheat plants used to grow five feet tall!

    DJ may have re-introduced to that description about the dingoes kidneys due to our ongoing jokes about Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy. Probably tastes like chicken with a side serving of Vitamin A poisoning.

    Hehe! My money is on the cast of thousands and blown budgets! 🙂 Hope you enjoyed my amusing tale this week? You may have mentioned something last week about the need for humour, and one can only but do their best in these trying days and times. I was quite happy with the build of tension in the story, and then BAM the editors final amusing words! 🙂

    Yes, yes indeed. Peeling mushrooms is just not on. It is just not cricket ol’ chap. Do they not realise all the goodies to be had on the skin of those fungal fruiting bodies?

    As previously mentioned we managed to score some sugar this morning. Ah, how the mighty have fallen, but at least we shall have some blackberry wine. Hopefully there is enough sugar to make blackberry jam.

    And thanks for your understanding. To be frank, when reading historical accounts of the Temperance League, they kind of indulged in moral panic, a bit. Every now and then I read some article in the news which sounds an awful lot like their work, but who even knows if they’re a going concern. I have heard accounts of older people telling me that the League went into schools when they were a kid and got them to sign abstinence agreements. Probably didn’t work out so well. Yeah, that song kind of sounds like the same sort of talk. Your club in some ways has a more realistic understanding of human nature. How are they doing anyway? Are meetings still being held? It is a bit rough not to do so.

    As a bit of a laugh, bottle shops down here are apparently considered essential services and can remain open during the lock down.

    I love that song. Did you know that lavender leaves and flowers are a natural carminative? It works and lowers blood pressure. A bit of help is needed sometimes.



  8. Hi, Chris!

    It’s amazing that you found time to write. Thanks!

    That is a most charming love story. And thank you, editor, for, umm, baring your innermost thoughts.

    You and your various wage-earning endeavors are always fascinating.

    Gosh, Chris – that steel structure is enormous. It looks like you are building a warehouse. Thanks for the scale of you and puppy.

    The terraces are neat as a pin and well fed, and steep as all get out.

    I wonder if Plum and Ruby adore Ollie because he is an Esquire? That is a very appropriate title.

    That’s a nice looking pumpkin. We are still eating ours from 2019. Look at that corn; it is making my mouth water. I have never seen such geraniums. I brought in several geranium plants for the winter. One is blooming like crazy, but no others. It is in the south-facing window, in an unheated room.

    I love that cactus. I am down to one – inside – itty bitty cactus.

    I will spare a thought for the unfortunate unemployment benefit seekers. My son’s boss told him, when he was laid off 2 weeks ago, to file right away and he did.


  9. Hello Chris
    Hears hoping that this works okay. Telephone cut out twice on me this morning and television wasn’t functioning.
    ‘Esquire’ is fine for Ollie.
    I am back from shopping. Hardly anyone walking in town. Many shops shut and one shop declined my cash and said card only. I was asked why I was out but the question was accompanied by a hint of a smile. Note that we still have only 2 cases on the Island.
    No toilet rolls and only very small packs of very expensive tissues. Son said that there was no salt. What really astounded me was no flour. People are baking wow!
    Cafes restauraunts and pubs are closed. The pub that Son uses had just changed hands. So one couple must be incredibly thankful while the poor new pair are probably in dire trouble’
    Elder daughter has been left with no income at all as the funding for her art projects has stopped. Other daughter’s income is on the way down.
    Interesting your comment on the swimming and running, I hadn’t connected the two. With the swimming I was aware of there being pain while I was removed from it. The headache thing now is different as I can totally remove it.
    I liked hearing how you and the Editor got together; always something good somewhere.


  10. Hi Chris,

    I have joined you and Margaret in lockdown. This isn’t because the state of Missouri went into lockdown, as have (last I heard) California, New York, Illinois, and New Jersey. No, two counties in Missouri, St. Louis City and St. Louis County, the latter of which Mike and I live in, went into lockdown about 12 hours ago. In the US, counties cannot be less restrictive than states, but they can be more restrictive. And these two counties, which together hold a quarter or so of Missouri’s residents, have chosen to be more restrictive.

    The order is a public document which I downloaded and read. It’s a legal document and so is stuffed full of definitions of the terms it employs. As I read it, the gist is that we must stay in our residences unless we are exercising or walking a dog, getting needed food or supplies for ourselves or delivering them to others, or going to or coming from an essential business activity. So, legally speaking, no friends can come over and we can’t go to their places. The public parks remain open, but we have to maintain social distance from everyone when we are there except for the people we live with who are with us. Thus, legally speaking, we can’t meet our friends in a park or on the street. This order is in effect until 12:00am April 23.

    As you’ve suggested, there could well be illegal meetings going on, and the penalty for violating the order isn’t very stiff, only a misdemeanor. Not too much of a risk for people. I think TPTB are relying more on our policing each other to keep this going.

    I think I can define gardening as exercise, and we are allowed to shop for essential goods and services. Plus Mike and I enjoy each other’s company. (I expect divorces to be one outcome of the order among folks who find they cannot tolerate being with each other undiluted for a month.) We, my siblings, and their children and spouses, who live in a total of five different states, participated in a virtual cocktail party last Saturday via the Messenger app’s capacity for a group video call. That was quite enjoyable. I expect there will be more, and it could end up becoming a regularly scheduled event.

    As to whether or not all this effort will have the intended effect (which I presume is keeping as many people and businesses alive as possible, though I could be wrong), your guess is as good as mine. Our Congresscritters still haven’t agreed on a relief package that shunts some money to ordinary folks, who can shunt it to businesses in turn as happened in 2008. A fair number of businesses in St. Louis have already announced that they are going out of business or are close to doing so and I expect more will do so in the coming days.


  11. Yo, Chris – That’s a great story! A meet/cute worthy of the best rom-coms. Not that I know too much about those 🙂 . LOL. When I went to my 5 year high school reunion (the only one I ever attended) I was talking to a young lady who wanted to know something. Why had she never had a single date in high school? I was gob smacked. She was a gorgeous young lady. I told her that all us fellows, always thought she was far, far beyond our reach. And, rumor was, she was dating college fellows. Another well set up young lady, decades later, told me I was one of her favorite customers (she poured in a pub) as, unlike the other fellows, I looked her in the eye. 🙂 . Never was a boob man. I mean, my taste in movie stars ran to Katherine Hepburn. 🙂 .

    The picture with the eagles, is quit beautiful. Another contender for the Fern Glade Farm calendar. I saw one of our eagles, this morning. Riding the air currents, looking for a tasty morsel.

    Keep adding to those solar panels, and you’ll be providing energy to your small community. They’ll be begging to you for enough watts to run a small light bulb. “This week, I’ve been truly working like a dog.” Do the fluffies, concur? Probably. I can’t remember a week when you didn’t work like a dog. It’s good to see Ruby pulling her weight. Or, offloading a bit of weight.

    When you mentioned the rabbit last week, it reminded me of the last place I lived, and my cat. One morning I stepped out on the front porch, looked down, and thought, “Oh. Mr. Rabbit has lost his furry pants.” Nell had nailed a rabbit, and that’s what she wanted to share. Hmmm. In hindsight, maybe I should have kept the rabbits feet, for luck. On the other hand, they weren’t that lucky for Mr. Rabbit.

    Tomatoes down to 3% of last year? Whow! That’s a huge fall off in production. So what did you get a bumper crop of, last year? That is a fine looking ear of corn.

    Geranium picture #1. Ruby and Plum seem unimpressed by the Geraniums. I have a clump of something coming up, and couldn’t figure out what they were. Small blue flowers. I thought it might be comfrey, which tends to pop up all over the place, here. But then it dawned on me. Last year I planted some Forget-me-not seed, and nothing ever came of it. But here they are, a year later, in profusion. I wonder if the cactus and the rose have long chats?

    Great blog this week. Always a red letter day (week?) when the Editor gives a look in, and we get her perspective. Cont.

  12. Chris,

    Yes, absorbing into my world view is a good way to put it. Some of us are thick enough between the ears that absorbing takes time. 😉

    Yes, I’ve seen a lot on the rez of what, by middle class standards, is unspeakable. I’ve had to do a lot of thinking, for sure, and am hopefully mostly acculturated by now. The biggest ongoing challenge as an overly educated peasant is to talk like a real person and not like an overly educated peasant. But there’s a LOT of poverty and illness and addictions and early deaths. As you suggested, the structural inequality is right there entirely visible to anyone who doesn’t purposely ignore it. The result for the Princess and me is that, well, her more than monthly trips to help her impoverished, blind brother sum it up. (We help where we can, but it is a fine line between helping and being perceived as showing off that we’re not poor.) I think people ignore such obvious “data points” because to acknowledge them would get them out of their comfort zones, show that the religion of progress is false even in our own country. Doing that is uncomfortable and might make people think and be introspective and we’ve discussed (here or at one of Mr. Greer’s boards?) that most people don’t like the company they’re with when by themselves.

    Your 1990s story about including the long queue…”He’s alright that guy, but why does he keep staring at my boobs?” Ummmm, because looking there is what most guys call “eye contact”? Your story provided a well needed laugh or 5.

    My Saturday sortie also resulted in a lot of flower and vegetable seeds. Sunday I dug the leaves into the raised beds that had wintered over atop 2 of the raised beds. Some leaves that were beneath shrubs and were partially decayed got dug into the other 2 raised beds. Then I took 4 bags of leaves and layered them atop the 4 raised beds. Probably 6 to 8 weeks away from being able to plant there. I might be able to plant some things in the containers under cover in about 4 weeks, after large additions of goodies from the compost pile.

    I could sure tell the difference between the beds that had leaves atop them all winter versus the others! The soil was wet more than 25 cm deep, in the leaved ones which also had a fair number of earthworms, but a meager 10 to 15 cm in the ones that were bare and had no earthworms either.

    Yes, the addictions (aka smoking mostly) and pollution of different areas may be factors also. Dunno about Iran, but the gobsmacked part of Italy may be similar to China in that regard? And New York City is, well, New York City, and they have been slow to implement things that we had going here 10 days ago. And if there’s nothing but concrete and millions of people who think that they are immortal…

    We’re not having problems getting into stores, it’s just finding certain things, all of which we already have on hand. And essential services are open…the water line problem I had in the basement last fall, well, I looked at it this morning at the exact moment that my temporary fix began to slowly drip. I kid you not, I saw the first drip. Plumbers came by, we discussed options, finding that I was able to easily remove a panel from the other side of a wall which gives them access. So, they entire iffy pipe is removed and new pipe of the correct type has been installed.

    Yes, our society is so far removed from life that we’ve forgotten how to look at things like illness, death, where food comes from, etc. When I was about 4, I got the mumps. All the kids in the neighborhood were sent to my house so they could get the mumps out of the way. Ditto when chicken pox came around when I was 12. Times have changed.

    My biggest issues with the tone were Mr. Greer’s early unwillingness to accept that there might be differing data. He has since acknowledged that, to a degree. But more so than that, was the ridiculing of a certain political persuasion…where I work that political persuasion mostly has its head on and it’s the very religious and politically conservative crowd that are either in a total panic or in denial. Plus at Mr. Greer’s forum the millennial who can’t quit spewing vitriol obout the generations older than him. Hey, we’ve all been crapped on by older generations. Anyhow, being dense between the ears sometimes means that it takes me several days to absorb those things before I can deal with them somewhat positively, or at least not negatively. So I limit my exposure to the comments there when certain things are prevalent. I could probably have worded things better here the other day. We’re all a little on edge right now, to say the least.

    I’m very grateful that I’ve been around a lot of death since being with the Princess. It’s part of life. One does get a different perspective.

    I could tell you how much rain Al gets, but he can answer for himself. 🙂 I will say that it isn’t very much, even by Spokane’s meager 42 cm per year average.

    The longer the time between corrections, the worse the correction is. Sadly. But it’s here. Adapt and improvise.


  13. @ Marg,

    Thanks. Remembering his comments about ebola and then this has me confused, too. Time will tell.


  14. @ Lew,

    The Princess is still in the Yakima Valley. So if she REALLY gets desperate for ice cream, I’ll tell her she can drive over White Pass and raid your Safeway. We had and have ice cream in Spokane, so I don’t what the problem was in Yakima.

    I’m glad that you’re spreading her story about the Dread TP Thief. Agreed, his name should be plastered on billboards and the internet as shaming. I mean, my brother-in-law really WAS almost out.


  15. Cont. I’m glad the Big Shed Boys are carrying on. Your right. Between your two places, you’re pretty well covered. After this all blows over, find a bit of waste ground, half way in between, and start a farmer’s market. Barter encouraged.

    Roosters are a problem. I never quit got that far, as I was holding out for a particular variety. They can be an asset, and also entertaining. If you can find an even tempered rooster. It’s a crap shoot.

    After a glorious week of weather (other than the cold nights), we will now have rain for at least a week. But, nothing outrageous in the forecast. If the kick off is anything to go by, lots of spring showers, punctuated by blue skies.

    Yeah, there’s the same kind of unknowns, here. Never know what’s going to shut down, or when. We still only have two cases in the county. But, they set up two testing stations, last week, and I expect they’ll be a jump in the numbers. That might create a bit of panic in the ranks. The state National Guard has been called out to “help medical staff.” Of course, in a pinch, they could be assigned other duties. Quelling riots in the toilet paper aisle at Safeway? The unemployment claims, here, have gone into the stratosphere. They’re handled on a state level, but there are reports of web sites being overwhelmed. They haven’t trotted out the “hackers” excuse, here. I think their computer system is pretty old and creaky. Held together by bubblegum and bailing wire. Seems like it’s often down for maintenance or upgrades.
    “May you live in interesting times,” has always been said to be an old Chinese curse. Of course, like most of those things, that might be entirely bogus. Probably a line from an old movie.

    Garden plans here are on hold, til the budget is approved by administration. If the whole budget is approved, they’ll do the whole job. If not, only half, this year. So, we’re waiting. I’ll see the Master Gardener’s, tomorrow, so, there may be news.

    Oh, my gosh, you have to carry a grocery card!!! Only slightly better than a tattoo on your forehead. 🙂 . Chocolate in the toilet paper aisle? Hmmm. Isn’t chocolate supposed to bind you up, a bit? Might be a subliminal suggestion.

    Back in ye olde times, wheat was 5 feet tall and 5 feet (or more) deep. Somewhere, I saw a picture of heritage wheat, with root structure, intact. There was three times below the ground, as above. Don’t know where I saw that picture. Might have even been an old ag book. I remember the picture as being grainy, and black and white.

    Temperance Leagues were kind of that days Social Justice Warriors. And, just as irritating. Currier and Ives printed quit a few lithos with temperance themes. I have one, but there are others I’d like to have. But, in good shape, they tend to be expensive.

    There don’t seem to be any AA meetings going on, anywhere, except maybe that noon parking lot meeting. But some on-line meetings have been set up. People are keeping in touch by e-mail, phone and texting. One of my friends is keeping in touch with some of her sponsorees, using video. The only weakness is, entry points for newbies. But, I’m sure something is being worked out.

    I’ll keep the lavender, for blood pressure in mind. But quit like my garlic, which does the same. Apparently, my body processes garlic in a way that I don’t reek. At least no one has mentioned it. I’m sure Scott would 🙂 . For those that don’t process it as I do, well, it’s great for social distancing 🙂 .

    I finished “Burning Stone”, last night. A good read. I got to thinking a bit more about the mansios. After the Romans built their roads, they built mansio, along those roads. They were spaced 20 miles apart, which was considered a day’s journey. Like hotels. They were primarily for government messengers and military personnel. Traveling merchants, if space available. I’m sure they took in just about any traveler, though you might end up sleeping in the stable. The stables were to provide for travelers horses, and, provide fresh mounts for messengers. There was always a bath house. They excavate one, every once in awhile. The tap room was open to well behaved locals. On heavily traveled routes, they could be extensive. In the hinterlands, on a more modest scale. They excavate one, every once in awhile.

    It reminded me, years ago I read a series of Roman/Britain mysteries. I remember they were pretty good. “The Aurelia Marcella Mansio Mysteries” by Jane Finnis. There are four. Two things are interesting about the series. Well, in the first place, the Mansio is run by a woman. Rare, but not unheard of. In the second, the family are refugees from Pompeii. It’s not major to the stories, as I remember, but added another layer of interest. I see the books were published, also, in Australia and New Zealand, so, you might keep your eye out for them, when trolling the used book shops. The Editor might like them.

    There’s also another series of Roman British mysteries. The “detective” is a rather traditional British native man, who is a sought after mosaic maker. Still lives in a round house, which his Roman friends are always ribbing him about. He’s a good detective, as he always sees things in patterns.

    Well, enough for today, I think. My review of the film “Satanic Panic” and the epic tale of my “learning” experience (sounds better than small disaster) in the kitchen, will have to wait for tomorrow. Lew

  16. Chris,

    Lockdown. Non-essential businesses on Washington have 24 hours, so until about 6:00 p.m. Wednesday, to shut down unless they can do everything online. No gatherings, but being outside is fine with proper distancing. I should be able to keep working online…I hope. Getting groceries, medications, money from the bank drive through all okay, as is restaurants delivering or going to a restaurant drive through.

    The Princess is essential service to her brother as a caregiver with legal documentation of that fact, so should be able to travel back and forth.

    Why now? Apparently the weather was so nice over the weekend in Puget Sound that there were crowds at some of the beaches.

    No, Lew is south of the Sound and we will not blame this on him.

    Now is when I wish someone like Ollie Cuddlehound, Esq., were here. Enjoy having the fluffy brigade with you!


  17. Hi Chris,

    A great story today, two thumbs up. I note, despite your best efforts to dissemble, it seems clear you ran wild during your debt collector days! Buying computers, flirting with the local ladies, debts don’t collect themselves Chris!!

    And it begs the question, did you get the loan? Was computer lust sated? My first computer, purchased in 1997, cost me around $1800. A Pentium 200Mhz, with 32megabytes of ram and a sturdy 15″ CRT monitor (do you remember the analog wheels for resizing the picture?). I didn’t have to take a loan, at the time I was a high school student who had some mad cash thanks to farm work and no bills.

    New Zealand is in full lockdown tomorrow afternoon. All non-essential business are to be closed and everyone stays home. I hear the local paint store was slammed yesterday, everyone wants to do some home chores. I plan to take a different tack, books, movies* and a polish video game I have wanted to finish for 2 years. In between that, Mrs Damo and I will do some baking (and curse all the people who bought out the local flour supplies – we know you aren’t bakers and won’t use it @!#!$).

    My employer is not firing anyone, and with a combination of annual leave and public holidays, all staff are getting a normal pay packet for next month at least. So that is good, although if things stay in lockdown for an additional 4-8 weeks, who knows…

    In short, I am sort of looking forward to this. I can see why it could be stressful for others, especially if you are overextended or lost a job. But, worse things happen at sea.

    And, lets not forget, it all comes back to Simon Pegg, so a friendly Covid-19 update posted the other day:


    *Lew – I got Color out of space the other day. Haven’t watched it yet, but looking forward to Nic Cage and the purple colours

  18. Hi Pam,

    Thank you and I’d like to believe that I’ll keep on writing right up to the bitter end of this here interweb thingee. I do wonder where the replacement parts are coming from when chunks of the interweb fall off their wheels? Mr Greer set me the goal of ten years, and he might be onto something with that…

    Lewis started it! 🙂 He said something about writing something to lift peoples spirits – or something like that. And you surfed the spirit wave of entertainment. Of course there was also the little unspoken story that even in hard times, love blossoms. The Editor, she really does think like that, and was laughing hard at the recount of the story.

    One does what needs doing… There is a lesson in there too.

    We’re going into more lock down very soon, and in between urgent client work I was covered in manure because I brought back two bright yellow trailer loads of some of the nicest compost that they’ve yet produced. It is good stuff, all crumbly.

    The votes were tallied and Ollie didn’t reach such great heights, but he did get somewhere didn’t he? 🙂

    All the corn is now picked and will be consumed over the next week or so. Nixtamilising is still a bit beyond my skill set. Have you ever tried old school hominy or corn bread?

    A gnome once confided in me that during a heavy frost or snow fall, one must place an inverted plastic plant pot on top of said cactus, and it will survive.

    Your son was wise to do so. Apparently a million folks were suddenly made unemployed over the past week. There are only 25.5 million folks down here, and the land can’t support that many.

    How are you doin?



  19. Hi Inge,

    Glad to see that you are back among the living. I was a bit worried that you’d dropped off the radar and that the infrastructure in the UK had encountered a serious bout of unpleasantness. I’d miss your sharp tongue, insightful observations and forthright manner.

    Yeah. Someone today asked me what it is like up here, and I replied that it is quiet. A young bloke was running along the road today and he looked like a footy player with dyed blond hair. That was about the most exciting thing that happened here, and I wondered whether I should let Ollie out so that boundaries got tested. The editor said that the guy was a local and she’d seen him before. Ollie can run pretty fast though. It is good training for him.

    Dunno about you and your son, but given the impending lock down, I was busy bring back compost. It is extraordinary stuff compost, and almost historically unprecedented, but the folks in the big smoke see organic matter as waste, so who am I to argue with them?

    The death toll is not that great so far, but lest we tempt the Gods with our words. Someone today asked me what I make of it, and I proffered the suggestion that we were moving back to a lower standard of living. What is your take on that? My standard of living is not that high (relatively speaking) right now so my fall is very cushioned. Although I’m not kidding when I say how run off my feet I’ve been over the past fortnight.

    Yes. Yes. And triple Yes! I feel your son’s pain as the local pub here has likewise closed for business. If they were canny they’d set up the kitchen as a take out pizza trade.

    Oh my! I truly feel for your daughters if they have to navigate the Byzantine world of Centrelink. It is like an economic bloodbath down here: People urged to go home as lines form around Centrelink offices due to coronavirus, Stuart Robert admits not anticipating MyGov demand.

    In the far future we will get the real perspective on all of this, but for now we are caught in the fog of war.



  20. Hi Claire,

    It is exciting to be in lock down, and I’m expecting further restrictions to come into play here over the next 24 hours. I’m going to have to check in on all my neighbours soon because they are probably freaking out. Sunday seems like a good day to get winter vegetable crops in too and they may need a gentle reminder.

    Fair enough, if lock down works and we get through this time. I am wondering about what will face us on the other side of that journey, but destinations can be very unusual places full of surprise.

    It is good that you have clear instructions from higher up the food chain. Things down here are locked down, but sort of fluid and ill defined. Certainly there is a lot of finger pointing and other unhelpful acts. State borders are being closed too.

    Yeah, it will happen. People will get bored and seek entertainment. I’m already scouring my usual haunts to see whether they do take out. The sheer waste of disposable coffee cups is an abomination from my perspective, but I now have to support the local businesses, or they’re not in a good way to navigate the other side of the story. What do you do?

    Hehe! It is funny you say that about divorces, but the editor and I were discussing such outcomes. We spend heaps of time together anyway, and as well as being married, we’re best mates – like how you describe you and Mike. A long time ago I read a story where a bloke retired and then he was left facing the awful question as to who this person was who he was married too for all those years. I can’t really relate to that story, but it is more common than you’d imagine.

    Don’t under estimate the economic fall out from this situation. I have moments when I wonder whether this is the intention of the entire exercise, but I don’t really know and am just guessing. Some economic parties can go on for too long, and all economic policies are subject to diminishing returns. All I know is that the times they be a changin!



  21. Hi Damo,

    Many thanks for the feedback and I slowly wended my way into the story, and then delivered the punch line. It was good fun to write too. 🙂

    I was feral as a young bloke and cared not a fig for the future. Society is to blame though!!! Yeah, maybe not. That computer has an odd story attached to it too, and it is worth telling next week. Rather than a story of lust, err romance, it is a story of mate-ship and greed.

    Pentium! Ah in the earliest incarnation of those machines they were called a 586. A memorable name to be sure, and your particular machine sounds like a formidable beast of a machine that can handle games with ease. The PC in question in the story however was a 486-66. That’s 66 for 66Mhz. yeah, real fast. But actually fast enough, and let’s not forget the excitement that was Windows 3.1.1 😉

    Yeah, mate, the same thing is probably going to happen here with the full lock down. I’m annoyed that the local pub has closed for business – where am I going to get my craft beers from? Actually I heard a bloke from Young Henry’s brewery on the radio today talking about how they were cooking up a batch of hand sanitiser using their still, but the beer market has evaporated overnight. Anyway, Not much can survive in 93% alcohol.

    You know how to bake bread. I know how to bake bread and make pasta. What are all these other people wanting with the flour is a very good question. The shelves have been stripped of the stuff. In times like these, you have to know a ‘guy’. Do you?

    The reports over here are that there are now 1.7 million people out of work – and spare a thought for them having to contact Centrelink. If you know, you know!

    Nick Frost and Simon Pegg – genius! Don’t Panic!!!!



  22. Hi Lewis,

    I’m certain that every now and then when nobody is peeking over your shoulder you slip a good rom-com onto your DVD player. And you enjoy it! Hehe! We know things, you know!!!! 🙂

    I really loved your story of your custom in the pub. I’m am always pleasant with people who are serving me food or drink, and I have seen some horrendous acts in my time. Not good. I’m sure that you were a true gentleman, even when a bit sozzled. True gentlemen do not receive such compliments. Katherine Hepburn is indeed a stunning looking lady. A fine muse.

    Those are the same eagles that were eyeing off the hapless Ruby and Plum a few weeks back when they were smaller pups. Good to hear that you have eagles there too. I always assume that the higher order predators are a sign of a healthy ecosystem. Of course you wouldn’t want to be a lone gazelle picked off by the lions, although it would probably be a quick ending.

    Oh you are super cheeky! I doubt that in fifty years time that the solar panels will even work. Mr Kunstler wrote in his latest book (Living the Long Emergency) a fine chapter on the Alt-Energy Freak Show and has begun telling stories about his most interesting mates. Yes, I heard him and mostly agree with his prognosis. It is a little bit eerie reading such a book at this time of fast moving world events. Can you track down copies of any new materials at the moment from your library system?

    Dogs look at me as if to say, mate, why are you working so hard? There are days when I can’t argue with such logic and today is one of those. Picked up a trailer load of compost just in case the shop is shut tomorrow. Still I can actually make fertiliser with the local sources, but from a bigger picture perspective, since 1860 and for almost a century afterwards the big smoke removed minerals in the form of food, soil and forest products from here, so there is a bit of synchronicity about bringing it back on home.

    The pub is closed for the foreseeable future, and I am sad about this.

    What a great comment about Nell’s prowess as a rabbit hunter! I was thinking about Watership Down when I saw the rabbit, but once the pants are gone, then you might as well leave the carcass for the dogs to consume (and it has disappeared).

    Ah, the second asking: Cucurbitaceae, my friend. That’s what. Plus strawberries. The short and very intense growing season was beyond a joke. I’m breeding plants for the local conditions. Tomatoes are picking up a bit now, but I doubt I’ll get even 15% of last years harvest. Fed the potatoes today with the compost.

    Forget-me-nots are really great plants aren’t they, and they just do their own thing and come back every single year. I quite like them.

    Believe it or not the editor thinks that way. Someone once remarked to her that when she walks up to a door she expects it to open. Anyway, she was laughing at the recount of the story. I still have no idea why she wants no interweb presence, but she is there in the background of the work on farm and doesn’t shirk any of that. I taught her how to arc weld the other day on the bean structure.

    Hmm, there is something in what you say about the half way in between produce. Mate, I really worry for my neighbours who are mostly oblivious to taking advantage of the opportunities that arise with a bit of land. Dunno how that will work out for them in the future. The other day I encountered one of them and they looked nervous.

    Had good roosters and bad roosters – and a crap shoot is a great way to describe it. I necked one early one morning years ago as it had really been a right little monster. It is possible I could order some fertilised eggs through the mail. The hens might raise a better mannered rooster and kick the stuffing out of him. Dunno, never done the experiment to see what happens.

    Makes you wonder how much stress is got out of reading the news. Dunno. Certainly they are pushing the big fear button, and there might be blow back for doing that, especially if it fizzes out.

    Never knew that about the Chinese apocryphal curse, but makes a weird sort sense. Maybe in a Bruce Lee film somewhere? Not big on dialogue. What about the old Monkee series (I really enjoyed those)?

    You’re making fun of me. 🙂 Never wanted a grocery card as I just don’t like being tracked, and they use such cards for marketing. Don’t like being part of it, but if they say so…

    At a guess it would be possible to select for larger wheat varieties even now. It is the combine harvesters that demand short wheat, and those poor plants have shallow root systems so they’re very vulnerable to drought and mineral depletion.

    All that Temperance League singing in a pub would make me want to buy them a drink to shut them up. It makes you wonder why people choose certain topics to irritate other unknown people about and then get really stuck on them? Dunno. Never met a social justice warrior, but I reckon I’d have a longer and stronger right hook, maybe even the left hook too. Surely someone has looked into that matter about why they do and get so focused. There are a few groups that indulge their mental health issues that way.

    Green Wizards is going electronic this month. A bit of a shame as we all love catching up and just generally having a good chat. Plus, there will be no tiramisu this way. I am seriously devastated. You on the other hand are missing out on Club Coffee, and by all accounts it is decent stuff. Hope your club gets it together in these socially isolated times. I feel very uncomfortable with the way it is being described: Social isolation. Sounds much too much like punishment to me. Like solitary confinement.

    Yup, garlic is good. Are you growing any? Far out, I do hope that the garden powers that be didn’t dig it up? Hehe! Very amusing. 🙂

    Thanks for the book review, and I have no idea how I’ll get a copy as things are a bit weird down here right now. Did you just finish your comment with: Satanic Panic? Does that somehow rhyme to your ears like it does to mine?



  23. Chris:

    I am fine, and the rest of my family.

    The governor of Virginia has ordered all schools closed till the end of the school year, but the state-owned liquor stores – being deemed essential – can stay open. So far, no sign of an actual lockdown. I was out yesterday and things were pretty normal, though one can only buy takeout from the restaurants. So I took out Thai food and a pizza. Yum!

    Be sure you don’t miss my Mr. Toothy muffins comment from the end of last week.


  24. @ Lew:

    “Apparently, my body processes garlic in a way that I don’t reek. At least no one has mentioned it. I’m sure Scott would 🙂 . For those that don’t process it as I do, well, it’s great for social distancing 🙂 .”



  25. Hi DJ,

    Yup, in lock down, down here too: Coronavirus Australia live news: Prime Minister announces greater restrictions after national cabinet meets, millions of masks on the way. I’m beginning to think that the messaging sounds a lot like prison talk. Lock down. Solitary confinement. Such talk does not make me feel comfortable, but no doubts about it, as a society we’ve been bad.

    Drive through banks! Never heard of such a thing until I started speaking with people from your country. Seriously.

    Good to hear that your lady can move back and forth, and hope you all stay safe and keep well. How is working from home going?

    Haha! Funny, but there was a beach incident in Sydney at Bondi Beach. It has now been closed to the public.

    Ollie is doing well and asleep on the Green Couch with his soon to be boss – Plum. Plum is really giving Scritchy ‘what for’ and there are times I have to step in and stop both of them fighting. Scritchy has to let go, and at 19 she has enjoyed enough time at the helm.

    Hehe! Taking in new and exciting information is rarely easy. Especially if it contradicts closely held beliefs. A worldview can expand or contract as it needs to.

    People ignore poverty and inequality because – and I’d be interested in your take – they can tell themselves that they’re the good people whilst all the while being complicit in that story. And yeah, you have to talk to your audience – and some people don’t get that message at all, and it comes across very poorly as you so rightly note. Still an education is a valuable thing for its own sake – hey somehow that story got ripped off along the way. Higher education is taking some serious body blows at the moment and it will be interesting to see where it all ends up for them. I wouldn’t suggest that they have been good corporate citizens, but then it suits some keeping students in debt and busy for years. Over supply has killed the return on investment for my own education.

    So true too about the people not liking their own company. Out of curiosity, how do you reckon that will play out as people are being increasingly isolated across the planet?

    Hehe! Yah, Lewis suggested writing something humorous and I can but answer the higher call! The editor laughed at the story too.

    Seeds huh? Check out this (dare I mention to people just how much skill this stuff takes?) Coronavirus panic buying takes root at nurseries selling fruit and vegetable plants and seeds. Shame we are heading into winter, chili is not a winter crop unfortunately.

    Good stuff with the leaves and the difference in soil quality and depth. Was your past winter more temperate than is usual? If it was colder do you reckon you would have scored the same outcome with the leaves and soil?

    Brought back a load of compost today. Yay!

    NYC is a bit odd, and the shows always have slightly neurotic characters. All that built environment can’t be good for ones mental health.

    Such illnesses were part of life, and nobody wanted horrid outcomes, they just sort of accepted that things were as they were. Mate, there are times that I feel that I’ve only just seen the end of some things before new states of being came into play. Have you ever felt that way? And exactly, death always stalks among us, it is part of who we are should we but acknowledge it. As far as I can tell people engage in very odd rituals so as to avoid thinking about the subject – how is it working for toilet paper hoarders though?

    Everyone is on edge now. No worries at all about the Mr Greer comment. The thing I say to you, is that he has open a line of dialogue and if you have concerns raise them with him. The only real way to a clearer picture is to engage in dialogue.

    Better hit the sack. Me really tired today.



  26. Hi Chris,
    Well Esquire it is. I imagine Ollie is strutting around with his new title.

    We are finally warming up around here and today I’ll assess the two vegetable gardens and decide how much to enlarge them. The seedlings under lights in the basement are doing well.

    We’re doing fine here in lockdown. Our big decision this week is what day and store to go to for early senior hour grocery shopping. Fresh vegetables and fruit are running out here so we may as well see if we can get some.

    Family has moved from group text to Zoom meetings – female members anyway. The group has grown to eleven from three generations in four states with brief glimpses of my granddaughters, various pets and spouses. It’s been quite helpful for some family members who’ve been thrown for a loop by this particularly my aunt. She’s alone in her condo in downtown Chicago. As she has several underlying health issues she’s got to be especially careful. She did go out for a walk but said it was very creepy as barely no one was out and there was no police presence.

    Thanks for the story of how you and the editor met. Doug and I celebrated our 40th anniversary last November. Our personalities are quite different but after all these years we’ve learned how to coexist quite well.

    The pups are growing so fast that soon you may need another couch.

    I enjoyed having roosters though there were a few whose destination was the pot. They are entertaining and are great protectors of the flock. Excess roosters are best for eating up to around six months old as after that they become tough.

    Sorry about the closing of the pub. My niece in Colorado reported that one near her delivers though the drink has to come with food. Their suggestion was to order a bag of chips and they could provide enough liquor to get you through the apocalypse. Another niece in Portland reported that unemployed strippers are staffing the food delivery service, Boober Eats.


  27. Yo, DJ – Well, Safeway’s ice cream distribution system leaves a lot to be desired. No sense of priorities! It was one of the reasons I started boycotting them. During the holiday season, the arrival of the holiday flavors, peppermint, egg nog and, the all important pumpkin pie flavor, got really spotty. Even though they make the stuff, just outside of Seattle. Didn’t seem to be anything that could be solved, on the store level. I complained so long, and so bitterly, that after awhile, the night manager started ducking me, when she saw me coming.

    Other reasons to boycott were, after Albertson bought them, the sales weren’t as good. And, they dropped a lot of lines I bought. And, there sale items policies, seemed designed to trip you up. You had to really read the fine print. Sometimes it was you had to buy outrageous quantities, to get the sale price. Other times, it was you couldn’t get the sale price, unless you scanned the print ad with your “device.” Then they moved everything in the store around, and I had a couple of trips where I couldn’t find things. So, I boycotted them for about three months. Still would, but lockdown makes things complicated.

    You beat me to announcing Washington State is on lockdown. Your pretty fast on your feet, for an old duffer. Said one old duffer to the other 🙂 Lew

  28. @ Damo – Well, good luck with “Color Out of Space.” Maybe you missed my review. Rubbish. If I had to pay to see it, I would have asked for my money back. But, your mileage may vary.

    Thanks for posting the Pegg/Frost “public service announcement.” I think it’s great that they took the time to put something like that, up on the net. Right after, there was a five minute talk show segment, with Tom Hanks and Simon Pegg playing Star Trek Trivia. What a hoot! Lew

  29. Yo, Chris – Yup, it helps to “know a guy.” My friend in Idaho and her daughter, couldn’t find any flour. And, they bake. She noticed a delivery truck, at the local store, and asked the manager if it maybe had flour on it. He took her in the back room, and busted open a pallet of flour, so she could have a sack. And, one for her daughter.

    DJ beat me to it. Our governor got on TV last night, and announced a statewide lockdown. To take effect in 48 hours, from then. Not having TV, I read about it on our local newspapers web site. They had a link to the exclusions. It runs about five pages. At least, divided into classifications. To last at least 2 weeks. Then,we’ll see.

    There’s some talk, here, about couples and enforced “togetherness.” Not a problem, in my case :-). But, Scott … His wife retired a few months back. When she was working, she had a long commute and they really didn’t see too much of each other, except on weekends. And, not that I’d say it to him, but she really is an odd duck. She has no outside interests, or friends. So, she’s home most of the time. Luckily, they have two houses, on their place. Scott uses one for his man cave, so, at least they can get a bit of distance between them.

    Our library is on complete lockdown. Has been for a couple of weeks. I noticed you can’t even request interlibrary loans. if you have room on your hold list (can’t imagine) you can still place holds. Last Friday, there was a bit of a “new” list up, but not much.

    As far as news goes, I pretty much just have the internet. But I really don’t read many articles, just the headlines. And, I’m not very interested in the latest thoughts or speculations on the virus. It’s too early to draw any solid conclusions. I’ll either get it, or I won’t. I’ll either die, or I won’t. By the way, I saw your request to Mr. Greer, about maybe a post on death. I can see why he hesitates, as that’s a whole can of worms. But, if he does post something, that will be an interesting weeks comments 🙂 .

    LOL. Look up Cary Nation. She not only encouraged her followers to sing in bars, but also to bust them up with axes.

    Oh, yeah. I’ve got plenty of garlic on the go. Nine different varieties. I saw the Master Gardeners, this morning, and things are still up in the air. Budget hasn’t been approved, yet, and other than the leaders, the Institution has asked that the trainees not come, for the duration. So, maybe nothing will happen, this year, and we can go ahead and plant. At least one half of the garden, where my biggest bed is.

    “Satanic Panic.” Yup, if you give it the right inflection, it rhymes. Not family friendly. Buckets of gore and a bit of flesh. Bad language. But, it’s a horror/comedy film. That rare bird. It’s about a young pizza delivery woman (who happens to be a virgin) who stumbles on a Satanic coven in a very ritzy neighborhood. The coven is trying to summon a demon from hell, and lack one vital ingredient. Three guesses what that is, and the first two don’t count. But what’s really interesting is that it has a subtext of status and class, in America. When I watched the extras, a couple of actors commented on that.

    We are a car culture. Drive through banks, are the least of it. There are drive through funeral parlors, where you can view the dearly departed, and not even get out of your car. Drive through wedding chapels. And, a recent development, given the virus, some priests are giving drive through confessions.

    I ran across an interesting article over at Slate magazine. I think parts of it might also apply to Australia. I thought that, because, it dawned on me that we’re both really frontier cultures. In about the same time period. In part, it’s about rugged individualism, and how that might now serve our best interests, at this time.

    Don’t know if this URL will work, but if it doesn’t, the actual title of the article is different from the title in the URL. The title on the page is, “Is This American Resilience?” Maybe I’m just sucker for anything with “resilience” in the title.

    My kitchen adventure (disaster?). Night before last, I decided to have a box of that mac and cheese. In these trying times, one tends to gravitate to comfort food. At least that’s what I tell myself, before indulging in something that will probably clog my arteries, and run my blood pressure up. But, I decided to tart it up with a can of tuna fish, peas, garlic, mushrooms and parsley. Healthier, right?

    The box had a cartoon Dalmatian in a fire hat on the front, with puzzles on the back. Hmmm. Wonder what the target audience is? So when I open the box, the pasta isn’t the comforting elbow variety, but is, instead, formed into little doggie footprints. (Note to Kraft: Even cutting the cooking time, a bit, half the footprints become pasta paste.)

    So, with the pasta on the boil, I went to open the can of tuna. You know, how when you use a can opener, there’s always that little bit you have to watch out for, that sharp little hook? Well, no worries. This was a can with a pull off lid. Little did I know that the entire inside rim is razor sharp. Well, I managed to lay open the first knuckle on my right index finger. AND, as I take a daily aspirin, I bled a lot, and clotting was problematic. So, there I am, with a paper towel clamped firmly around my index finger, trying not to bleed in my food (I know. I’m the only one eating it, but it would be gross), as I try and drain pasta, and measure out butter and milk. Of course, as soon as the bowl hit the nuker for the final warm up, it stopped bleeding. Anyway. It was tasty. I am comforted.

    Last night, I managed to make it through dinner prep without either pitching something into the front of the stove, or bleeding to death. There was just one serving left in the rice bowl, so I just dumped a can of mixed veg in it (with mushrooms, parsley and garlic), nuked it and topped it off with nutritional yeast and hot sauce. I think I need to get one of those signs, you see in factories, to put in my kitchen. “____ Days Without An Accident.” Lew

  30. Hello again
    As of yesterday evening we are supposed to be in a lockdown for 3 weeks but it is awash with ambiguities. We may shop for food but please not often. We may go out for an exercise walk once in a day and for medical appointments. Essential workers can also go out and the definition of who these are is still being argued. These theoretical decisions are so easy to make but the practicalities are something else entirely. I find it interesting that some of the most necessary workers are the ones who normally are barely considered.
    I think that we could do with a lower standard of living but don’t know whether it will happen. Am not personally sure of its definition as I prefer a supposedly lower standard and already live it.

  31. @ Lew,

    Safeway has gone downhill in so many ways since the “merger” with Albertsons. We live midway between Safeway and a store from a regional chain. Unfortunately, the parking lot for the regional chain is a nightmare, but its produce is much better than Safeway’s. There are some items I can get at Safeway and not the other one and vice versa. So we shop at both.

    Our favorite person at Safeway retired last summer. There are 2 checkers there, one of whose mother worked there and whom I’ve watched grow up, and another youngster, whom we like. Other than those 2 people, I’m finding the Safeway to be *difficult*. Oh, and Safeway is good at Western Union money transfers, which we periodically need to use.


  32. Chris,

    Agreed, the wording of what we’ve been ordered to do and the why could be better. But, our societal weaknesses are cropping up, aren’t they? Sadly, our governor missed an opportunity for some gallows humor during his announcement of the lockdown. He said, “no weddings, no funerals.” I would’ve said, “Four weddings and a Funeral? Sorry, all of these are postponed.” Or something like that. Oh well.

    Yes, drive thru banks. The USA has drive thru everything. Can’t get US out of our cars! No sirree! Heck, some places even have drive thru liquor stores. Where I lived in New Mexico, it was illegal to sell alcohol on Sundays. The entire 24 hours plus 6 more until 6:00 a.m. Monday. Yet, most liquor stores and many grocery stores had drive thru booze windows. I always figured that it was to make it easier to drink and drive.

    Working from home is fine. The connections with the Mothership are starting to have problems, so I got disconnected/reconnected twice in the morning. If that’s the biggest problem that occurs, this is great.

    And being home today was a good thing. The water main shutoff valve developed a slow ooze when it was turned off then back on during the work Monday. Not enough of a leak to cause flooding or damage things, but just enough ooze to keep about 5 sq. cm damp, just right to start a colony of black mold. So, City Water had to turn off their main to the house, then the plumbing group came back and changed the valve (usually City will do that at half the cost but they don’t enter houses due to covid-19 – “let the essential service private sector take the risk” appears to be the motto). Then I guess the City came by and turned their thingy outside back on because all the water was running before the plumber left. Neither of us saw a City truck, but hey, it works so we weren’t gonna make a fuss!

    Dogs, like people, have a hard time recognizing the changes required by aging. Poor Scritchy, who is probably lucky that Plum is still a pup and really doesn’t know what she’s doing yet. Yet.

    So everyone is starting a garden just before winter? That is so sad, and as you hinted, most of the buyers are probably clueless about gardening. I mean, all you’ve gotta do is just throw the seeds into some dirt and add water occasionally, right?

    To be continued


  33. Chris,

    Continuing on…I had to go outside. The family across the street has been having fun. Mom and 11 year old Asperger daughter drew a design on the inside of their large front window and have been painting it – water soluble paint I hope – from the inside all day. It’s really colorful and pretty. The kid was outside so I had to tell her that it’s looking good. I think that’s a wonderful project for being socially isolated.

    I think the biggest thing when ignoring poverty is that most of us are so sheltered from it that it’s uncomfortable, so “if I act like I don’t see it, then I don’t see it and if I don’t see it, it doesn’t exist.” Plus a large dose of the idea you brought up, too. Add to that some ideas that “those people” have got to be lazy and worthless because they’ve chosen to remain in poverty. (Yes, I know many people who say that!) I’m fortunate to have learned to just take people as they are, regardless of looks and education and income. People are people and we’re all different. I run into all types on the bus and when taking walks near the workplace, as it’s in one of the poorest areas of town and next to the jail, so there are a lot of poor people and recently released people on the sidewalks and at the bus stop and on the bus. A lot of my peers ignore them and shy away, but my walking partner and I freely engage with anybody and everybody, on the bus and on the street. But we both remember the times when we’ve been poor, too!

    I think we’re seeing how the first phase of “being alone” is working out – people can’t handle it. A young friend summed it up 2 weeks ago: “These people don’t know how to talk to anybody because they’re always texting and twitting and whatnot on their phones. Now that they’re being asked to stay home and text and twit and all that, they can’t handle it because somebody is telling them what to do. NOW they want to go out and talk!” If this lasts long enough, other phases of dealing with it (or not) will occur, but I’m not sure what those will be. I’m glad the Princess and I like to be at home, can enjoy silent time together, and that we have a good supply of popcorn. I’m hoping people figure it out, but I’m not counting on it.

    Then there’s Walking Partner’s 15 year old sociable and athletic daughter. Schools have been closed for quite awhile. Now both parents will be working from home. Daughter begged to go to Walmart to buy a couple of old school board games, like Clue and Risk! But Walking Partner and her husband have their acts together, so that didn’t surprise me much when Walking Partner texted that to me today.

    Oh yeah, the winter was much warmer than usual. When I was digging the other day, I noticed that the leaves I’d dug in last fall were mostly “digested” as a result. The difference in underlying soil moisture depth I attribute to the mulching character of the overlying leaf layer helping to keep moisture in. Maybe it hasn’t been hot, like late spring and summer temperatures, but it has been dry and windy. That mulch layer makes a big difference. And I only had it there so that the lea layer would partially decay before I dug them in. That tells me to mulch my plants this summer!

    I don’t know how people live in New York City with all concrete and small apartments and no place to play in the dirt. I visited there once and have no desire to ever return.

    I’ve seen enough things end to be replaced with dubious things, and witnessed decays of attitudes and ethics, so yes, I feel that way sometimes. There have been many times over the years that I could sympathize with Ambrosius, who was really trying to stop the impossible decay and changes that became something new and radically different. He probably felt like he had a chance, but always knowing how his story ended, I’ve always viewed him as a very tragic figure fighting impossible odds.

    One of the things I’m trying to learn is HOW to communicate when something has me worked up. It’s a weakness of how I’m wired. You are correct, in that Mr. Greer does have a venue to communicate. It’s a matter of being able to figure out how to write there without coming across so heavy that I’m offensive. Not offensive as saying something with which he disagrees, but offensive in wording and tone and pushing the limits of his seemingly large amount of tolerance. Something I recognize in myself and am working with trying to improve. I DO appreciate your comments about this!


  34. Hi Chris
    Thanks for the early Chris and The Editor story. Really enjoyed😁

    The first panel row looks really well done! Hope the upper is now installed also. Also hope the wire for the connections was obtained and getting hooked up.

    Sorry about the pilot drill comment. It is surprising how many people struggle with that basic principle.

    The small hydroelectric plant : generator rated at 1MegaWatt.
    The utility buying the power from the plant paid $64 per mwh. The generator averages typically 600 kw depending on water flow. The earnings for the power metered to the utility would be dependent on that amount of power. Not as great as my original comment value. The $1,5 million developed cost would have been paid off at the slower rate . Still good 😊
    The 15 mega watt hour total production figure for your installation is kind of a sober reality. In light of the $60k investment. On the other hand the availability and expense of utility service is the trade off.

    That 4 to 6 inch annual rainfall in my location is the reality. If it wasn’t for the river water for irrigation and treatment plants life for the 200k population wouldn’t work, there is quit a bit of well ground water and some pretty good aquifers here also. The land with just rainfall pretty much a desert. Sagebrush and tumbleweeds and other stuff That burns real fast in our winds. Summers are hot and very dry. There is extensive dry land winter and summer wheat. And large irrigated farms with pumped water from the Columbia, Yakima, and Snake River. There is a lot of apple,cherry,and stone fruit. Oh and Wine grapes for the 200 wineries within 100 mile radius or so.
    Oh and we also have the 525 sq mi Hanford Nuclear Site where the 150 nuclear waste tanks are located😱

    That’s a rundown of my home area!
    Hunkered down with your much appreciated pictures and Blog trying to avoid the CV boogeyman.

  35. Hi Lew,

    I do remember your scathing review of Color Out of Space a little while ago 🙂 Am I a sucker for punishment? Not sure, but from the trailer and short story, it seems up my alley (a similar movie called Annihilation from last year Mrs Damo and I also loved). I do recall we had contradicting opinions on a few other movies such as Star Trek Into Darkness. I am hopeful, but if it is all for naught I will only have myself to blame :-/


  36. Hi Fluffy collective,

    A couple years back in Laos, I wrote a short story on travel in SE Asia in a resource constrained future. I liked this one, and did it end up published in “Into The Ruins”. The exclusivity period is well and truly over, and I felt it was somehow relevant today, so please feel free to read and enjoy:

    Like all creatives, I am secretly fishing for compliments, but even if it keeps you occupied for 15 minutes in these difficult times I am happy 🙂 Stay safe!


  37. Hi Pam,

    I’m very glad to hear that you and your family are fine in this most strange of times.

    Liquor stores are also considered essential services down here too. Unfortunately most spirits are too weak to be useful for a proper sterilising agent, but they’re better than nothing, and better than a wine wash. Most spirits hover around the 37% alcohol/volume range but a proper moonshine kit can get the ethanol up to about 93% alcohol/volume which frankly is a real critter killer. Not much can survive that level of sterilising / poisoning.

    Thai food and a pizza sounds quite tasty to me. Hopefully the pizza was a good quality pizza as they can vary wildly in quality? I’ve made pizza bases from scratch for years, it is not hard. I have wondered why people suddenly began hoarding flour of late, I mean it is not as if they know how to bake the stuff into useful foodstuffs! Oh well…

    I did so much appreciate your Mr Toothy muffin salute last week. Your story of Mr Jackson, a fine sounding canine incidentally, and your most excellent recipe (plus the Toothy addition) was like a soothing balm over my grief.

    Please accept my most humble of apologies for the over sight. The past week and a half has drained me. Each day I have been fighting fires as they pop up, and the emotional load has been (not exceeding my capacities) but still it has been a burden to bear and I am noting other professionals dropping the ball. I got to a few days ago where for the first time in about six years I’d lost the thread of comments, and just had to make do – life is a bit like that now.



  38. Hi Margaret,

    Ollie is totally chuffed with his newfound status and title, and his two new girls. As you would probably already know, the two girls run rings around him and he is under their spell. Today as I was frantically working away trying to help people – which has been my normal state of being for many days now, the two girls had decided that they’d join their large mascot on the green couch, and they slept soundly. For some reason tonight Plum has stolen one of my socks which had been washed, and brought it back onto the green couch where she is again soundly asleep. Best leave sleeping dogs lay as they say.

    Enlarging the vegetable beds is quite a wise move because the local gardening club sent me an email outlining how smashed they’d been for seeds and edible plants. My advice, bring back some compost, or if you can’t get that turn some forest materials into ash and then add urine as a soil booster. I have to reach out to my neighbours soon as they’ve all gone to ground. WTF? Next Sunday here is a perfect day to get winter vegetable seeds going.

    As a contrast, bizarrely enough fresh fruit and vegetables are in good supply because so few people know how to cook from scratch. I am embarrassed for such poor understanding in our culture.

    Strangely enough, this is the second time today that someone has mentioned Zoom to me. Coincidence? Dunno. Why would it be normal for there to be a police presence on the streets of Chicago?

    Congratulations, and well done to both you and Doug! A truly excellent achievement, and I tell ya, I’m different from the editor, but it also works as we have many similarities. I once encountered someone who said about their partner that if they weren’t married they’d be best mates and hang out at the local pub. Sounds like the editor and I, except that the pub is now closed. I tested the local cafe this morning, and it was weird but survivable. The waste of take out coffee cups is a true evil.

    Hmm, thank you for sharing your experience with roosters. Some are just bad apples, and there was one in particular that really got to me. He was a little rotter and began slowly killing off the bantams (and you’d know how he was doing that). One morning I woke up to hear him declare the dawn that was not, and I dealt to him then and there. I had absolutely had it with him. However, this does not mean that I can avoid roosters for much longer.

    Boober eats! Funny stuff indeed. 🙂 Adaption is a beautiful thing.



  39. Hi Inge,

    Same thing here, and the ambiguities lend to a certain sort of self-policing. It is a goal in itself that.

    I tested the local post office / general store and I’m not much of a fan of the sheer waste that is take-out coffee cups. It galls me in particular that I have had less than a handful of these wasteful experiences in my life, but how else do I support the business and ensure that they keep going? It is really crazy times.

    Yeah? Well from my perspective I’m seeing folks who have untenable (and possibly over reached) positions getting shaken out of the economic tree. I don’t know what the outcome of this all will be either, but my gut feeling – and that is all I have to go upon – is that a lower standard of living will be the resultant outcome of this mess. Like you I have forged a path through what it means to live at a lower standard of living than was considered the norm, and umm, it is not that bad. A bit of insulation against the current craziness is kind of handy at this stage of the game. Not exactly sure what the future will hold though, but probably more of the same at more frequent intervals.

    Certainly on your island there is a need to convert some of those properties favoured for horses to sheep, goats and cattle. The same applies equally to around here if people want to continue eating meat periodically. As a mostly vegetarian I’m unfussed by such proclivities.



  40. Hello again
    Things are getting worse and worse here. It appears that the government is planning to close down for a month as from this evening!
    Son had 3 pigs go to the mainland for slaughter yesterday, I hope to goodness that the carcases can return on Friday.
    Prince Charles has discovered that he is positive for covid 19.


  41. Hi Lewis,

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? When crisis kicks in, sometimes having social capital can pay off big time. But it is something that needs to be worked at over a long period of time. Most folks run a million miles from community and that is why they try to intersperse money in between relationships. It won’t end well for them you know.

    The exclusions are confusing down here by way of contrast, but I sort of suspect that is the point of the instruction. Years ago I read an essay discussing the differences between principles and direct instructions. Personally I’m more of a principle kind of guy, but some other folks love delving into the argument and looking for an edge. A bloke I know told me a long time ago that he loved signs, and internally I thought to myself: Yeah, I bet you do. There is a bit of cultural clash in that too, as some cultures celebrate the worming and squirming, but we all are stuck together and I treat the wormers and squirmers differently – they don’t actually get an advantage, but that doesn’t stop them trying.

    Yeah, my gut feeling is that this will be extended for a while to come, but it would be nice to be proven wrong in this instance. Like the fall of Rome, there are several valid reasons for perusing the strategies that are currently being played out – and not all of them are concerns for peoples health. As someone at the coal face, I don’t generally feel that many comfortable people have yet understood the vast economic damage being wrought. It is a brutal correction, but what can’t be sustained generally isn’t.

    Mate, the editor and I have been sick before, and we’ll be sick again at some point in the future and one day we will each die. I’ve read and heard stories about people living in share houses where the occupants have to navigate the complexities of sharing the bathroom whilst in lock down. When I was a kid, most houses only ever had one toilet, and one bathroom – and you dealt just fine but didn’t push the boundaries.

    No judgement, but I know of some people who have no friends and no interests. They kind of scare me, although I am very curious about how they view the world. There are times when I suspect that it is a control and/or coping mechanism for them. What do you reckon is their motivation? Regardless, guys need guy time, and gals need gal time – it is part of the natural order of things.

    With the lock down, the editor and I have been chucking around some new ideas. As you would know, I enjoy my walks through the big smoke, but tonight I decided to go with the editor for a long walk in the forest. It is a beautiful time of year here, although the temperature slipped into the high 40’sF.

    Me too with the interweb for news, however once per week I purchase the weekend newspaper (excellent kindling) and read through the various sections. The business section last week read like a horror story, and in particular I have wondered how many margin calls there have been of late. My gut feeling is that your current rally will provide just enough time for the banks to unload their acquired positions onto some suckers before it tumbles again into the abyss. A friend today informed me that gold is up and oil is down. Fortunately a lot of those things seem like gambling and I take no part in them.

    It was a good suggestion, and who knows where the discussion will lead? If I wrote about the subject of death it would be a very sad blog entry, although from time to time I touch upon the issue. But when you see someone pass away in front of you, there ain’t no denying the cycle of life.

    Cary Nation sounds a bit boorish. Can’t I enjoy a quiet drink without all the singing and axe work! 🙂

    It is very possible that the budget for the garden change won’t get approved, and you’ll go back to your original plots. I do hope they don’t miss the planting window?

    Yeah, comedy/horrors are good fun – need we mention Sean of the Dead? Have you ever seen What we do in the Shadows?

    The article was very well written and very heavy handed on the emotional content – as befits the audience. One comment I really liked in particular was: “but because we haven’t been given permission to valorize any kind of self-sacrificing or collectivist action, there’s nowhere for that energy to go.” The main problem I have with the entire discussion is that few people are explaining to the population, and in particular the people who are paying the costs, as to what benefits are to be gained from incurring those costs. I’m really sorry to say it, but this is a point that is not being communicated effectively. And because the benefits are intangible, but the costs are very real, people doubt the veracity of the message because they have been lied to quite a bit. It is a real problem.

    Absolutely healthier with the addition of tuna, peas, garlic and mushrooms! Sounds pretty yummy really.

    Far out, you could say that you bled for your art in the kitchen? I’ll bet you saw some incidents when you used to work in kitchens? Chefs knives are wickedly sharp.

    Hehe! One day since an industrial accident is not exactly a comforting sign. 🙂

    Mate, over the past week or two I have been giving and giving. It is like putting out tiny little fires where you get one out, and another one flares up. Or whack a mole games are a good equivalent too. Emotionally though, I reckon I’m getting drained.



  42. Chris:

    Why – there’s nothing to forgive!

    Except for the fact that there doesn’t seem to be enough flour to go around at the moment, I feel encouraged by people buying flour. Some of them will actually find recipes and at least get a start on learning how to bake while they have time on their hands (is that an oxymoron?). Maybe later some of the others will sell us some flour . . .


  43. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, I was mentioning to Lewis that I have concerns that the people experiencing the serious costs of responding to the virus, are not having the benefits of their sacrifice explained to them, and there will be a backlash if it is not addressed. I wish it were not so, but when you’re faced with deciding to pay the rent, or pay for food and you can’t do both, it is hard for people to consider the larger perspective.

    Loved that film too! 😉

    Maybe! Lived in a ‘dry’ area once, and it was a strange place as it had always been that way since the early days. It was quite a hoity-toity area too (I was living in a grungy share house with a whole bunch of people), and I guess if it made them feel good having that declaration. It is not like you couldn’t drink there, we just had to head out of the area to buy the stuff.

    Yes, parts of the network down here appear to be suffering from the strain of communication. A few times I have tried to phone people and their network has been busy. Up here in a quiet rural area the connections have been so far fine, but I have line of sight to about four mobile phone (cell phone) towers. Plus a couple of high gain Yagi antenna’s helps a lot.

    Oh! Good that the plumbing was fixed. Down here most houses are individually metered for water and they have a shut off valve. However, if the problem is on the mains side of the valve, plumbers can freeze the pipes and sort out the problem. The water folks only ever turn up when the water mains have failed / burst etc. Sometimes the results of that can be epic! One burst main I recall popped a massive hole in the road. Lots of pressure, except when the mains burst.

    Wouldn’t it be great if it was all that easy growing edible plants. Not so unfortunately, but at least they’re giving it a go. And they may just learn something – possibly.

    Nice, and yup girls get aspergers too, although they have an unfortunate difficulty of being socially trained to cover up their conditions. Can’t say that that would be a good thing as it would produce a lot of internal tension which they may not be able to process very well. Last year at the comedy festival the editor and I went to see a show: The Aspie Hour, and it was very amusing, but also enlightening. I have no inclinations in that regard, but over the years I’ve had a few aspie friends, and they’re cool and like me they are a bit quirky.

    Well it is really hard for people to process their own life when they’re enjoying good stuff and others are getting ground into the dirt in poverty, so ignoring poverty is really a coping mechanism for them. However, it is worth noting that it takes a lot of skill to live a lower standard of living than is the norm, and I suspect that the current events may be a rather rude shock to many. And yeah, me too I’ve known some pretty hard times when you just have to as is said in your country: hustle for a living. Oh yeah, it is an instructional time. Knowing how to blend in when the need arises is not a bad idea to cultivate as a skill. Many folks tend to promote their differences as a form of status, and that does not work well all of the time.

    Board games are making a comeback. I must say that I have spent way too much time in front of a screen today. I do look forward to all of the ongoing chats here.

    Reading about Ambrosius Aurelianus gives me goosebumps at all the sheer weight of history, and the whole two steps forward, one back so it goes aspect. Entropy eats away at all.

    Well inside yourself there is a desire to win a point, but is that necessarily a worthy goal of itself? The goal drives your emotional response. The English language is poor in such matters. Hmm, we tend to dissect ideas, but is there not a way to weave a story instead?

    Dunno, but when first out of home I moved into a share house and two of the people in there used to be err, into less than legal activities, but they were very amusing individuals and had such great social skills that I was in awe. They took me under their wing and taught me the rudiments of their conversational skills. It is a journey and not a destination!



  44. Chris:

    My son has ordered some almond trees that are suppose to be okay for our climate. We shall see. And he has begin a study on grafting. My one effort at grafting apples did not work. I would like to get some more fig trees started; I love the single Chicago Hardy Fig that we have. I think its name is Margaret . . .


  45. Yo, Chris – “Wormers and squirmers.” Love the term. Now, sometimes it’s best to do something … and then ask permission. Not the other way around. But, it should be something carefully considered. Some people do that, in all situations. As a life style. Not a good look. Back when I worked for the big book stores, we’d get frequent signage from the corporate office, usually involving some kind of a sale or another. I always looked at them very critically, before posting them. “Now how many ways could I fiddle the meaning…” Usually, I’d have to add some kind of disclaimer. Like, “Only applies to books on this table top.” Not the whole store. But, you always had some grifter, who’d toss something not on sale on the table, and try to claim the sale price. I was always polite, but firm. Look them straight in the eye and say, “SOMEONE must have been looking at that, changed there mind and pitched it on the nearest flat surface. It is not part of the sale.” If they got raspy, I’d be “more than happy” to give them the name and number of our district manager. She never heard from any of that lot.

    I also lived in some shares (with one bathroom) in the early days. “Locks and knocks” seems to sort out most problems. The only incident I can remember is one of my room mates of the ginger persuasion, grabbed a bar of my Irish Spring by mistake. Just about pealed her skin off.

    Friends and interests. Well, I’ve got plenty of interests, but keep the friends at a minimum. Yup. Social capital is important, but, for me, it’s carefully considered. Return on investment :-). As an example, that can of pork products. Both Liz and Eleanor expressed interest. But, as part of her interest, Eleanor offered to swap for a can of something else. Liz didn’t. Guess who got the can of pork products? People who have no friends or interest? Maybe it’s a form of slow motion suicide?

    Well, the author Bill Bryson seems to think a walk in the woods is a good thing :-). Clears the head. From what you said to DJ, Margaret and me, sounds like your pretty stressed, right now. To quote Tennessee Williams, “Like a cat on a hot tin roof.” Delivered with as much southern drawl as you can muster. I think holding onto as many routines as possible (but not too tightly) right now, is maybe important. And, developing new ones, when old one’s disappear. Walking HRH three times a day, at set times, is a godsend.

    Well, it looks like the major part of my garden, is in an area where it won’t be disturbed, this year. Maybe. Firm enough to start planting in that area.

    I watched “What we do in the Shadows,” both English and American version. Was pretty unimpressed. Didn’t even make it through the English one, and, probably only made it through the American one, because the cultural references were a bit more familiar. By the way, I saw a trailer yesterday for a new movie, coming out this summer (our summer). “The Legion.” I was pretty underwhelmed by the trailer. Where’s the pomp? Seems to be about the Romans fighting the Parthians (which was a regular event) in the winter bound hills of what is now Armenia. Lots of hand to hand combat, in the wilderness. Well, these Roman movies seem to come in clutches, so, maybe there will be something better, on offer.

    Interesting what DJ had to say about Ambrosius. I’m sure I’ve read about him, before. Wikipedia has quit an entry. I’d say it’s more likely he was an actual historic figure. More evidence, than for Arthur.

    Well, the reality is explained, here and there, to the population. But, the population doesn’t want to listen. Or, they’ve got pre-conceived ideas, and will lunge at any ideas floating around, that closely match what they’ve already decided. And everything is colored by tribal politics. Common good? COLLECTIVISM? (gasp!). That sounds like socialism! Horrors! Every time the word socialism comes up, I always imagine myself shaking a rattle, maybe wearing a mask, and declaring “Booga! Booga!” A large part of the population doesn’t seem to realize that it comes in many flavors. The idea of The Commons, comes from Merry Old England. The Mayflower Compact, one of our founding documents was about sharing for the common good. In some interpretations.

    I can’t remember any major disasters, in any of the kitchens I worked in. No pools of blood on the floor. On my first day of running drinks, I managed to collide with another waiter, while carrying a full tray of beers. That was pretty exciting, but no major harm done, and not to be repeated.

    Well, my morning got off to an unpleasant bang. Since your also “not a morning person”, I’m sure I’ll get a little sympathy in this quarter. I set my alarm, for 9am, to take the dog for a walk. At 8am, I was blasted out of bed by the most incredible amount of noise. An 18 wheeler was chuffing away in the parking lot, and they were spraying bark around on all the beds, that have it. Started this routine directly under my windows. Followed up by blowers, to tidy up any of the spill over. As memo happy as they are around here, they might have given us a heads up.

    Oh, well. By the time I took HRH out for her morning romp, outback where it’s quiet, I’d calmed down a bit. And there were lots of LBBs (Little Brown Birds) about to distract me with their antics. Dusted off all those mushrooms, peeled them (just kidding), sliced and on a tray in the freezer. I’ll bag them soon.

    I am also putting out fires, here and there. Of a smaller variety than yours. Scott was all in a tizzy over if the hardware stores would be open. Yes. They’re “essential” businesses. But, you can opt for delivery or curb side pick up. Eleanor was fretting as to if the virus was man made. Where she picked that up, I don’t know. Maybe from the loon on our floor that’s always carrying on about chem trails. No. It wasn’t man made. Probably (I left out that part). But why focus on that, I don’t know. It’s here, we have to deal with it, and to fret about origins is kind of … pointless. Other than maybe an urge to assign blame. Which is even more pointless. Lew

  46. Yo, Chris – Inquiring minds (and 8 year old boys) want to know. If your standing down wind from someone with the virus, and they break epic wind (Fluffie Collective Scale 5), would you get the virus? How about belches? 🙂 . Lew

  47. Chris,

    Explanations could be much better, but so much of the populace distrusts anything any scientist says, so it’s almost what’s the point of explaining? Not saying that I’m there, but there is a credibility gap among many people.

    Yes. I drank plenty of beer on “dry Sundays”. Just couldn’t buy it that day. But I could buy it on Saturday at the booze drive up window at the liquor store.

    One of the junior techs has only been able to work intermittently. I finally called her and gave her some pointers. IT is working on it as it is a network issue. I’m not holding my breath for a solution, as I get disconnected/reconnected one to thrice per day.

    We’ve had watermains burst underneath roads. What a mess of everything that causes!

    Aspie guys can usually find a group of nerds to sort of be with. I dunno how Aspie girls cope. Being an Aspie, I’ve chatted with Neighbor girl’s parents about what might and what totally will NOT work with a young Aspie. They started listening and her life has improved somewhat. She also overheard me say something rather pointed once, and trusts that I understand her quirks.

    Folks is folks. Parading one’s largess as a status symbol just doesn’t float in my view. I remember attending a funeral on the Rez and an extremely well off person began talking about a trip she and her husband had made to an expensive sporting event 2,500 km away. It was totally out of place in that setting, but did a real good job of irritating a bunch of said person’s dirt-poor relatives.

    Ahhh, you’ve nailed part of my thinking quite well. There’s no need to score points. It’s a matter of finding a proper way of dealing with things that for some reason grate on my nerves. Sometimes the best response is to do nothing, or do something else, or ignore it. There have been others on various forums whose posts I ignore.

    Sounds like the chap who is still my closest friend. I don’t know what he saw, but there was something about me that spoke to him in our university days, so he took me under his wing and helped get me out of my shell. Oi, without a good friend like that, I dunno that I would’ve ever learned how to really converse, try to see things from other viewpoints, etc. Sounds like you and I were both fortunate in that regard.

    The Princess arrived home this afternoon after a week with her brother. It’s good to have her back. 🙂 I may be have a midweek hiatus from posting myself this week. 😉

    I read about one of the pups raiding and getting one of your clean socks to keep with her on the sofa. Rakhi the Samoyed would do that. She even learned how to open doorknobs of tightly latched doors so that she could find a sock, then hold it gingerly in her mouth and slink back and forth around us until we asked her “What do you have, what do you have?” Then she’d wag her tail, return the sock to the proper room, and then come back for belly rubs. I’d close the doors, and an hour later we’d repeat.


  48. Hi Al,

    Thanks, and at this stage I’m considering following the story of the personal loan paid computer mentioned in this week’s story and what happened next!

    Nope, not at all. It is down for a job for tomorrow to get the upper level panels on. The weather looks right and the signs are pointing in that direction. And hopefully I’ll also get some of the wiring done. This project has been quite epic given it was the result of a chance discussion in a pub.

    No worries at all about the pilot hole, mate I too am amazed at how basic processes have been lost. And galvanised structural steel is a material worthy of great respect – although people consider it an everyday product. Historically not so.

    Exactly too, I had to trade off the exorbitant cost of connecting up the house to the mains electricity grid with going it alone. From hindsight it would have been cheaper to connect up to the mains grid, but where is the challenge in that I ask you?

    Interesting indeed about your rainfall. As a contrast, we don’t really have many large cities down under away from the coast. There are one or two large river systems, but they are typically boom and bust environments.

    Far out, who would have thought that the grave Hanford Nuclear Site bungles could be so, err, grave? Not good, and thanks for the tour of your area.

    Stay safe and you have my permission to punch anyone who coughs on you!



  49. Hi Damo,

    As a subscriber to the recently deceased quarterly magazine ‘Into the Ruins’, I must say that I read your story and rather enjoyed it. And it is worth noting that you have quite the flair for fiction. Tis a dark art that I have not mastered, and can only admire and applaud your most excellent works.

    Mate, I was done by lunchtime today and had nothing more to give to anyone. At such times, one must head out in search of whatever yummies they can find. All I can say is that I feel for your lack of baked gourmet goodies. No really, you are seriously missing out. 🙂 How does a chicken, leek and bacon pie sound to you? Superb, and the flaky pastry was awesome. In my travels this afternoon to soothe my distraught mind I also nabbed some quality hot cross buns. The search is on for who has the best hot cross buns. But you must kneel and acknowledge that the traditions are not great on your side of the Tasman Sea! 😉



  50. Hi Inge,

    I saw that about Prince Charles this morning. He is in a risky age group too, but no doubts has some favours that he can call upon.

    Things are a bit odd down here too. There are apparently two confirmed cases in the council shire area where I live. A map of cases has been released and interestingly, this virus is predominantly in very wealthy areas right now – due to overseas travel I’m guessing. Who would have thought that there was risk in overseas travel? I tell ya, I’ve been very ill in some remote locations of this planet whilst on travel and it is never pleasant.

    Hopefully the ferry was not shut down and the carcasses were returned? Did you used to have an abattoir on the island?



  51. Hi Pam,

    I mentioned to Damo about flour, that in order to procure it, one must ‘know a guy’. As a suggestion we are heading into an era when social credits are beginning to rise, whilst monetary credits are beginning to fall. What this means is anyone’s guess! 🙂

    Personally, people really don’t know a whole bunch about basic food preparation from raw ingredients, so hopefully the flour works its way back to the people who do.



  52. Hi Pam (again),

    Almond trees are super hardy, but I have noted that they prefer a very sunny and well drained site. And a good annual feed of compost, mulch or whatever wouldn’t hurt.

    That’s a nice name. Incidentally, ‘summer bud grafting’ is a super easy technique for grafting known cultivars onto seed raised root stocks. Canny and nefarious folks need not even purchase trees in order to gain buds. 😉 Not that I’d suggest such a thing, but it is possible.



  53. Hi Lewis,

    Haven’t we all met a few of those types in our time? And don’t they wear you out as they never seem to stop being on the take. However, yes there are times when it is best to act and deal with the lack of asking later, particularly if there are few consequences. I spotted a tiny little cabin tucked out of the way in the forest today, and I have no problems with that, but others might.

    But yeah, if they’re on the take all of the time, it’s a lifestyle choice and such folks are no better than grifters. They maybe entertaining company, you just can’t have any dealings with them beyond social – and even then they’re looking for an angle. It becomes an unconscious act for them, and I’ve encountered a few of those types over the years and keep them at arms length. They prey upon weaknesses in the social fabric and express disappointment and outrage as a tool to use against others. Have you encountered such folks in a social setting?

    Locks and knocks is a great way to spell out the finer points of toilet sharing! Never heard of that soap, but it has a fearsome reputation! You’re a braver man than I. Hey, long ago I once chucked some eucalyptus oil in a bath because I had a sinus ache and just wanted to chill out. Yup, the oil set the skin on my delicate bits on fire. The editor was very amused, and her mates wanted to find out what all the noise was about! Far out, ouch! Hehe! But well deserved – and a mistake not to be repeated.

    Oops! Before reading the prohibition on Mr Greer’s website (who reads the manual when it looks the same as all of the other Open Mic nights?) about mentioning that-which-may-not-be-mentioned. Except I mentioned it, before reading that bit. Oh well, getting deleted is not the worst thing that can happen. Bad Chris…

    Fair enough. Deep down I’m a bit of an introvert and could happily sit out in the forest for days whilst the world went on by. But then I like catching up with people too, just not too often. And yes, the return on investment question in relation to social capital is a far more complicated question than is usually considered these days. The old timers were highly canny folks and I have the greatest respect for how they navigated through a world of low volumes of energy and stuff. Not as easy as people would think. It is funny you mention that story, but it relates to the story I was thinking about writing this week.

    The no friends and no interests folks might be just really dull folks too. It is possible.

    Bill Bryson was onto something with that book, and I also enjoyed the film. Nick Nolte was a hoot! 🙂 But yeah, me stressed out. Took the afternoon off today, and just switched off the phone. Chris needed some Chris time, and so we went out and tested the food possibilities that are available in these strange days. Gourmet pies. Tick. Very tasty Sausage Roll. Tick. Gourmet hot cross buns. Tick. All take away unfortunately, but better than not at all. Adaption is a good idea, as well as some time away from the cares of the world. I’ve actually done my best for many folks over the past two weeks. It has been a bloodbath.

    Don’t mind me a bit of Southern drawl, and reading Mr Kunstler’s World Made by Hand series of books managed to lodge some drawl into my crawl space and sometimes I slip into such a mode of speaking for effect.

    Interestingly, the low socio-economic towns around here where quite normal other than the odd restrictions in place. The wealthier towns were like a scene out of 28 days later and nobody was around. A map was released of the virus hot spots in the state, and at the moment the wealthier areas are heavily affected due to I’m guessing over seas travel.

    But yeah, new routines are a good idea and glad that HRH is getting lots of walks – and dogs like their patterns too. Went for about an hours walk tonight and the thing I noted was the quiet. The lack of aircraft flying around was a real blessing. I could hear the birds, the critters in the forest, and all manner of background nature noises.

    Ambrosius seemed a very tangible historical figure. But clearly he was fighting a rear guard action in a time of decline and the attrition would have taken a toll.

    Hehe! So true, and I loved the image of you enacting collectivism in the flesh. People have their bugbears. Dunno about your perspective, but the roots for individualism go deep, and the English employed that strategy to very good effect over such a long period of time that eventually there has to be blow back. And yours and my culture derives from that source.

    Oh I get that. Horrid! Proper decorum needs to be enforced, otherwise society might go down the drain. 🙂 Hey I was speaking with someone else the other day who is also not a morning person, although they had to get to work at 6.30am. Rather amusingly I innocently but not-really-innocently chucked in the line: Was it dark at that time (note that it is dark at that time)? The reaction received was worth the gag.

    When did blowers take over the job of the humble but also very cheap and effective broom?

    Hmm, Miss-information, may have met her some time ago, but the details are now a bit foggy. Bizarrely enough I’ve heard of people talking about chem trails, and honestly I just sort of thought about something else, but politely didn’t feel the need to stop them. Assigning blame doesn’t really help anyone.



  54. Hi DJ,

    Good stuff. And the mid-week hiatus has struck here too.

    Speak tomorrow, but until then I need to get some good sleep. The past week and a bit has been extraordinarily stressful.



  55. @Lew:

    Loved your paragraph on “the common good”. Even without the Booga! Booga! . . .


  56. @Inge:

    I guess if a government is closed down, that is not really anarchy? Surely some clerks will be on the job.


  57. Hello again
    There was an abattoir on the Island once but it lost trade because it was cheaper to send stock to the mainland. No doubt this has all been forgotten which is a pity as it would be a good lesson on supporting ones own community.
    Son can no longer take me out as we don’t share a habitation so it will presumably be a while before I get into town again. Not that it matters as he can shop for me. Some of these new laws are really strange!
    All 3 of my young (not so young actually) are now without an income. Elder daughter has at least managed to get through to whatever you call your social security, by getting up at 5.0 am to do so.
    People who panic bought food are now dumping it as it goes out of date. We have been told to wash all fruit and vegetables in soapy water. I am living in a strange universe.


  58. Yo, Chris – Socks and pets. Nell, my cat, used to like to chew holes in my socks. Then she’d put the sock in her food dish. Why? One of those mysteries that will never be solved. I had to remember to put my socks, under my pants, at night.

    Tiny cabin tucked in the forest? Sounds like my dream home. Maybe a hermit, who will show up to claim his per annum?

    Yes, with some grifters, it’s just a way of life. Automatic pilot. I think I mentioned, years ago, there was a guy that showed up in my store to by a periodical, every month. And, every month he would try to short change me. I realized, that he didn’t even think about it. It wasn’t calculated. It was just the way he operated. What I’ve noticed is that those kinds of people don’t seem any more successful, than the rest of us.
    I’ve often read that career criminals actually work harder at crime, than if they just went out and got a job.

    I’m pretty thick skinned. In fact, I broke into a bar of Irish Spring, last night. I have had a few misadventures with delicate bits. Always wear gloves, or thoroughly wash your hands after handling pumpkin stems. A word to the wise.

    I’m of the mindset, now, that when offering something needed, I’ll say, “What do you have to swap.” My bit to encourage the barter economy.

    You did your best and the Universe rewarded you with pies, sausage rolls, and hot cross buns. 🙂 . Last night I made a kind of Huevos Rancheros. Tossed some rice, corn and pumpkin and sunflower seeds in a bowl, with garlic and mushrooms. Added a can of chili, a can of diced tomatoes and a small can of mild green chilies. Fried up three eggs, diced them, and mixed them in. Nuked it, and while still hot, put some shredded sharp cheddar cheese, on top. Instead of sour cream, I used yogurt. Scooped it up with corn chips. Enough for two or three meals.

    There’s a story going around the Net about the irresponsible rich end of town. Some upscale town on Long Island, one of the residents just HAD to throw her big 40th birthday bash. People jetted in from all over the world, one as far away as South Africa. Or, traveled by limo from New York City. Then they all went home. Carrying the virus with them, hither and yon. She’s rather a social pariah, now, in her town. But, the guests have to take some responsibility, too.

    I play your game of “Is it dark then?”, too. But with sports. Which I could care less about. When someone starts raving on about the Seahawks (Seattle’s professional football team), when I can get a word in edgewise, I usually say something like, “Is that basketball? Ice hokey?” That usually brings the torrent of drivel to a screeching halt.

    Saw a trailer for a new movie, today. “Soon to be released in 500 theaters.” Not that any of us are likely to see the inside of a theater, any time soon. “Fantastic Fungi.” Unreal time lapse photography of colorful growing mushrooms, and lot of interviews, including Paul Stamets.

    Also watched a rather good movie, last night. A rom-com, no less. My only defense is, I grabbed it in my last desperate attempt to snatch up some DVDs, before the library slammed the doors. “Long Shot” staring Seth Rogen and (I kid you not) Charlize Theron. Very funny, but, not family friendly, due to language and some gratuitous recreational drug use. Otherwise, fun, light entertainment.

    I went to Safeway, at 6:30 am, this morning. It was not light. Then I headed over to one of the cheap food stores, Grocery Outlet, at 7. I can never remember when they opened, so I checked the time, last night. So, when I get there, there’s staff bouncing off the walls, inside, but a note on the door that says they’ve changed their hours, and won’t open til 9. Due to blah, blah, blah. When I checked the Net, when I got home, in two places, and the time was still listed at 7am. When I went back at 9, (calmed down enough to be pleasant), I happened to see the store manager, Mr. Marteen (who’s a pleasant ball of energy) and mentioned to him, the problem. He said a couple of the big bosses were coming, today, and he’s fill them in. And, I’m sure he will.

    Our confirmed cases, in the county, was at 2, since this thing started. Yesterday, it bounced up to 5. I thought it might, as they set up a couple of testing stations, last week. So, here we go! Lew

  59. Hi Chris,
    I had never heard of Zoom until this last week.
    My aunt lives in a very affluent area just off Michigan Ave. one of the top tourists destinations also known as the Magnificent Mile. All the expensive stores are there and they of late have been the target of quite a few robberies. For some time now gangs of young people have gone there and targeted people especially if they are older and look well to do. There was much controversy not too long ago about police being stationed there as it’s a big tourist area and these muggings were scaring people away. This was at the expense of other high crime areas. When I visit her I often walk from the train (about 45 minutes) though lately I’ve changed my route or passed on walking altogether due to these robberies.

    Doug and I went to senior shopping hour at a large store about 20 minutes away. All senior hour/s are the first hour or two when the store opens. Happily it wasn’t mobbed and we were able to get the produce and fruit we wanted (our main reason for going). There was still no toilet paper, sanitizer , milk or rubbing alcohol. We’ve heard reports in more populated areas that the senior hour is mobbed.

    I’m breaking lockdown rules a little by going to visit my sister, Kathleen, tomorrow and going to my daughter’s in Chicago on Saturday. However, it’s stated that one can go to check on family and friends if needed. Kathleen really can use the company as her husband is gone most of the time at his two restaurants. She said when he is home he’s so stressed and worried that he’s not exactly pleasant. Someone asked her why she’s not more stressed and anxious and she replied that she’s been quite poor several times in her life and never changed some habits from those times. So there you go.

    Did get out and did some sheet mulching where I’m going to increase the garden and cleaned up the asparagus beds. There’s lots of birds so I’m enjoying just watching. Just today a male bluebird has decided to sit right on the very narrow window ledge. He’s pretty unconcerned about me looking at him.

    Well at least your sock didn’t get chewed like Salve did to ours in her early days here.

    Family in Chicago have reported how nice it is that there is much less noise without all the traffic.

    Hang in there and get that much needed rest.


  60. Thanks Chris, it was a shame to hear about “Into the Ruins”. I had a few more story ideas which I was planning to write for it, but never got around to them. I love plotting a story, fitting the world building, motivations and characters together like a jigsaw. The actual writing, hmm, not so much. I find it draining, probably why I haven’t written that much.

    A cynic might suggest you were bragging about the delicious pies and hot cross buns! As you know, even in good times, such things are a rarity here, for reasons not entirely clear. At any rate, we are no longer to leave the house unless the trip is “essential”. Searching for delicious bakery goods seems pretty important to me, but I don’t know how such a statement would fly with the locals. News headline writes itself, “Australian man flouts sensible Kiwi rules, allegedly dislikes our food too….”


  61. Hi DJ,

    Yup, it is certainly a problem. The cloak of credibility can be borrowed and used for misdeeds as has unfortunately been the case, and the folks involved forgot that integrity has to be perceived as well as seen. A bit of a shame that, but plenty of people are on the take, and I guess they have their reasons for doing so. They’re just not good reasons.

    It is funny that you mention beer… When I was a kid the stores, all of them used to shut for business at 12.30pm on Saturday morning. You know what? Things actually were better when that was the case. I suspect that what we are currently witnessing is all part of the great relocalisation, and this virus is the chosen strange and unpredictable vector. Something was going to turn up sooner or later.

    Ouch. I’m not seeing network drop outs here, but when I try to call folks in the big smoke sometimes their network is down. Yeah, efficient is at odds with resilient. Reminds me that I got the final 8 extra solar panels up onto the epic structure today. Lifting the solar panels onto such heights and then tying them down was not a job for the easily rattled. After three hours of wiring, I realised that I had another three hours to go before the job can be declared finished! Weeks and weeks of work for a mere 7.6kW total potential. Hmm, beware of folks spruiking the benefits of such technology, and I still don’t have a 48V battery charger. Ook!

    Respect for your actions with the young lady. A bit of guidance and a few hints and tips is a wonderful thing. From what I have observed, aspie females are drilled on the social niceties and can hide in plain sight, but it induces stress on their inner worlds and this manifests itself in complicated ways. Being a bit of a dork myself, I have known many such folks, and enjoy their company because I intuit that they mean me no harm. I’m a bit like one of the sheep dogs here, and just give such folks gentle nudges when such folks need them. 😉

    Ouch, such displays of ostentatious wealth are going to end badly and very soon soon. Best not to be involved as the rez is going to get bigger.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? You are who you are, and you have to evolve coping strategies that fit certain situations. It is a bit like having access to a handy guide to better living! Hehe! There is a lot of parallels to my professional work, and I tell clients that it is not the things that I expect that get me unstuck, it is stuff I’ve never even considered that does me in!

    Mate, not to put too fine a point on it, but your work concerns a month or three back were ringing alarm bells for me. You just had to take a chill pill and reflect upon why you felt so put upon. As a suggestion, you are not up for the biffo. Some people are, and they’re different beasties (and I ain’t one of those either). And then work your way to understanding that it is unwise to shoot the goose that lays the golden egg.

    Yup, I owe those two dodgy folks a debt of gratitude for opening the world to my eyes and ears. I take such debts seriously and even offered them a place to retire too, but we had the weirdest falling out over vegetarian dogs, although at the time I realised the distress was more about online gaming. I can only help people if they wish to be helped, other than that it is a mugs game. Still who knows what the future holds in store?

    Rahki was a very intelligent dog, and dogs are far smarter than we give them credit for being. Ollie can open the front door if he needs to, and he’s shown the capacity to do so!



  62. Hi Pam,

    A wise lady once confided in me that the best gardeners are also thieves. She may have been onto something with that point…

    Actually, I may have mentioned to you previously – I forget – but a year or two back I went and did a hands on course with an old timer orchardist. His dad had run the orchard before him, and his daughter ran it after him. He drilled us on the art of summer bud grafting which he’d learned back in the day at agricultural school. Sometimes you meet folks who have an extraordinarily practical bent to their thinking, and it is a real pleasure.

    It was a very lovely autumn day down here, tinged with occasional notes of decline. Still a society cannot keep heading in the same direction forever.



  63. Hi Inge,

    Hmm, yeah as a society we are a bit lacking in the practical and gritty skills needed to keep the society well fed. People down here are reporting flour shortages (although I have my sources). I intend to distribute some of my selected winter edible plant seeds into the local community very soon and then just see what comes of that act. Who knows?

    Ah, your lock down is more strict than ours and comparisons have been made. I really don’t know what to think about all this, but I have a rule of thumb which suggests that: if it seems odd, it probably is odd.

    I raised the issue with the editor today that we probably should get a wood stove and oven again over the next year or so. No hurry at this stage. Natural gas supplies down here are I doubt going to last the decade. Dunno about your part of the world?

    Yes, I have been working with folks attempting to get a MyGovID, and all I can say is that emotions are running high and tolerance for the applications quirks was low. Spare a thought for me, as that was the same chunk of software that forced me to buy a smart phone.

    And I feel for your children’s situation, and they have my sympathy and understanding. It has been a bloodbath down here the past few weeks. When we decide to correct things, we go all out – and possibly further than need be.

    Well that is the thing about panic buying. Their credit cards were maxed out, income dried up and buyers remorse kicked in. But really, I ask you the hard question: How do you tell people that they’ve taken things too far? Jimmy Carter tried, and failed.



  64. Hi Lewis,

    Chewing holes in socks is one thing, but Ruby has chewed a hole in one of the blankets for my bedding. Of course the chewing happened without me noticing until it was too late. Just happened to be a merino wool blanket that is older than I. The pups, they know not what they do.

    It was a wise strategy to hide your socks. Best not to put temptation in the way of cats perfidies (there may be a word play pun in there if you say it fast enough!)

    Too bad so sad for the pups. They went through a rite of passage today and received a collar with their engraved name tags. Far from being elated at their new adult station, they both moped around this afternoon. So I kicked them out into the hot afternoon sunshine. Meanwhile I was up and down ladders all day as the final 8 solar panels were installed up on the racking. It was amazing that not one solar panel was dropped from on high, and at one point the ladder slipped sideways and fortunately I was grabbing the steel frame and continued to anchor the solar panel before attending to the dodgy ladder situation. Began doing the wiring, and still probably have about three hours of work to complete the project. Who would have thought that a chance conversation in a pub could lead to such an epic project? I’ll be glad when it is done. Wire is getting in short supply!

    Yeah, the hermit is down there again today, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled and no doubt something will turn up. I’m keen to make acquaintance with folks near there because they look like they know what they are doing. I can’t say that about everyone I meet. Began slowly alerting locals to their winter edible gardens today and offered some seeds. It will be interesting to see what comes of that.

    That’s exactly what I noticed too. There is no advantage for the grifter’s, in fact if they were in a small community, they’d be known and shunned, but in a large city… It is an uncanny way to act.

    Thanks for the tip regarding the pumpkin stems and I’ll bare that in mind. Spiky from memory. I’m going to chip up the corn stalks over the next few days. Pumpkin vines are generally shredded and thrown back onto the ground where they grew.

    At the back of my mind when people ask me for a favour, I wonder what is in it for me, but never say that out aloud. Nudges are much wiser. It is funny you mention that story…

    Hehe! I’m feeling more my old self today as there were only a few crises for me to deal with. Then the early autumn sun shone nicely and warmed my bones. I managed to do the really hard bit of the solar power project without injuring myself or the editor, and all was good with the world. Baked a loaf of bread today that contained a bit of spelt flour. It was interesting, and I quite liked it, although I can see why bread wheat took off in preference. Had a mild rye taste.

    Far out! Huevos Rancheros looks and sounds totally yummo! You’ve got me salivating looking at such tasty food. Had a spicy mushroom spaghetti for dinner this evening. Chili’s were a complete disaster this growing season, and so my chili stocks are depleting rapidly.

    Travel seems to be a vector and so the wealthier denizens are more at risk from the virus. It is hardly surprising that there are morality tales being mooted around. We had one such too: 21st birthday party guests infected with COVID-19 after case linked to Aspen ski trip. It is not a good look and there may be a backlash given the economic carnage.

    Hehe! Funny, and you can even extend that game a little bit further by suggesting that you enjoyed the sports league more when it was far less about money and far more about the sport. When I was a kid, the local state football league went national, and I can point to that pivotal point and say that I lost it for the sport then and there. Who can argue with such logic? 🙂

    Unfortunately the theatre thing is not good, and some of the local independent cinemas have had to shut their doors and like everyone else, there doesn’t seem to be any rent relief – yet. Financially they are struggling – it is like a bloodbath. Interestingly, the banks have declared mortgage repayment holidays for their customers. However, I noticed that there was the not inconsequential point that interest during that time is apparently being capitalised. Now with financial literacy being pretty poor, it is a fancy way of saying that interest during that time is banged onto the loan balance. Very magnanimous of them, and glad to hear that they are taking a hit for the team – not. This won’t end well.

    No, no, no! There are words, there are defences, and there are also the quiet enjoyments of a rom-com, which surely you are dirty for? Hehe! I love rom-coms, and will try and nab such an excellent story. Seth Rogen is one good comedic actor. And I would expect no less than all those combined bits of naughtiness!

    Yup, here we go and we get to find out our fate. Mate, sorry to say, but sooner or later something was going to correct things.



  65. Hi Margaret,

    I’d never heard of it either, although I have no idea about phone apps. The smart phone annoys me immensely with its constant beeps and bops and calls to be attended too. Not a fan, and many options were selected so that the thing didn’t pester me all the time. A month or so back I took things too far, and nobody could even call me! It was very quiet, but perhaps not sustainable.

    Actually, is it quiet where you are? The lack of aircraft flying over head is a real boon, and I’m enjoying the lack of intruding background engine noises other than the sounds of the forest. I can clearly hear the sugar gliders in the trees at dusk and tonight went for a long walk and the marsupial bats (they eat insects) were darting here and there chasing their prey.

    Yeah, probably wouldn’t live in such a place myself, and that isn’t a moral judgement, it is just that displays of wealth attracts trouble. Changing your walking route is not a bad idea and I’d do the same too. I tell ya a funny story, it wasn’t that long ago that people felt sorry for the way the editor and I were living – all that hard work and dirt under the fingernails stuff. Anyway, of late, the tide of opinion has turned and the benefits are more evident to city folks. Of course it is all but a moment of time and may soon be forgotten about. People tend to stick to what they know don’t you reckon?

    Yup, people are panicking over supplies. As a comparison we went to the supermarket on Thursday late afternoon, and whilst it was busy, it wasn’t as frantic. Still got carded… Hey, I’ve got a theory about this in that people may have maxed out their credit cards, and are running low on funds to pay for more stuff.

    Well he’s got reason to be stressed if he’s running two restaurants, and I do hope that running does not mean ordering around managers, but actually mucking in and doing the work? Years ago I knew a bloke who spent a lot of money on a cafe fit-out, and another accountant quipped to me on the quiet, that it takes a lot of coffees to pay off such a fit-out. From my perspective, there is little margin in selling pizza, and so the volume would have to be huge and that could be a serious weight. In my professional opinion, it is often the case that spouses don’t know, or don’t want to know the true state of financial affairs. And most of the time they don’t know how to approach such a request of their spouse without it turning into a fight. My warning bells are clanging. However, she has a very realistic perspective on the possible outcome.

    Increasing the size of the garden is a very wise idea. What did sheet mulching involve? You are lucky to live in a country with reasonable soils. I notice that too with the asparagus beds and they can get a bit weedy if you turn your back for but a few moments. Have I mentioned to you that over the past few years we’ve planted basil in the asparagus beds, and they do really well.

    Thanks and there were only a few crises to get involved in today, so it was a bit more chill. And the weather was glorious and sunny and calm.



  66. Hi Damo,

    Does this make you an ideas guy? 🙂 There is a bit of hard slog to writing. Actually I’m not much good at the side of writing you mentioned, which is probably why my fiction efforts went to naught. Your stories were very, very good, and I doff my hat to you. I particularly enjoy how you characterise the anti-hero in your stories, as such folks are closer to the real world than some overly earnest fictional characters I’ve encountered over the years. Earnest as a character trait means they’re a bit too predictable – and thus a bit dull really.

    How’s the lock in going for you and Mrs Damo?

    Bragging? Maybe? I’d like to believe that I was mentioning such niceties with a bit of a flourish and a proper swagger – and I have sampled your islands bakeries and can only but concur with your opinion. They really do need to lift their game and if I was a school master I’d include on their report: Bakery products were OK, but the baker really needs to apply themselves as they are easily distracted and could do better! 🙂 I’ll have to skewer some tasty and quality hot cross buns tomorrow. Sorry, it is the swagger thing again!

    Oh yeah, mate they already talk about us, far more than we talk about them. Please do not add fuel to the fire! 🙂



  67. Hi Chris
    I’m looking forward to that next story chapter!

    Those 16 panels from 2 different folks. Resulting from Pub talk. You very very lucky people!

    That galvanized structural material. The best choice. 100 year old examples at farms everywhere.

    During the late 1930s my father spent two months of his pay to run over a mile of power utility and connect up his parents home in deep rural West Virginia. He was just out of college and on first job as an engineer. After struggling through the depression. I always think of that when I see an off grid house build on tv. My grand parents place was the farthest out and no one else along the line that later connected had money to participate. There was some gov help for the latter hookups.

    What amp capacity 48 volt charger is going to required for optimum need?
    Hang in there 😊

  68. @ DJ – I saw your post over at Mr. Greer’s Virtual Pub. The early Sara sighting. I see your sighting and raise you … when I first started reading Mr. Greer’s blog, years ago, I was still working in library land. I casually mentioned to a woman I worked with this “cool new blog”, I had discovered. She casually dropped, “Oh, yeah, I dated him for awhile, in college.”

    Small world. Seven degrees of Kevin Bacon, or whatever.

    I mentioned her to Mr. Greer, and, in his usual understated way, said something like, he remembered her. Pleasant memories. Lew

    PS: I ventured out to the local Safeway, yesterday, early in the am. The freezer cases were stuffed with all varieties of their store brand. Probably, as they were running a sale. Buy two, get them for .99 per container. Limit two. One for me, one for my neighbor.

  69. Yo, Chris – That is tragic about the Marino wood blanket. The cost of having pets. You always have this split second “Are they worth it?” moment. Probably applies to children, too. 🙂 . Maybe the Editor can work some of her fabric magic and either effect a repair, or, adapt it to some other use. Scarfs? Table runners?

    Oh, no! The pups have got their slave collars! 🙂 . Every once in awhile, archaeologists turn up Roman slave collars. Usually they have a tag that says something like, “I have run away. Return me to …… and collect a big reward.” From what I gather, Roman slaves were pretty easy to spot, given what they wore. Or didn’t wear. No togas for them!

    I’m glad your well along in your solar project, with no major injuries. Bet that ladder slip made you break a bit of a sweat. I get what you say about the wiring. I need to re-string a bean/pea vine support, and wonder if I have enough of the “good” twine. I’ve got plenty of the lesser jute twine. So, better to use the good stuff on the horizontal, or vertical runs? Decisions, decisions.
    Well, I suppose it’s a 50/50 as to if the hermit is worth cultivating. That they built small, is an encouraging sign.

    I’ve never used spelt, before. I don’t think. So, a bit “sour”, like rye? I need to bake some banana muffins, today. As to stocking up, so far, keeping bananas in good shape has been the most challenging. The two chili plants I moved inside, died a slow death over the winter. Have no idea why. Oh, well. A new year and another attempt in the garden.

    Rom-coms irritate me, as, life isn’t like that. There are very few “happily ever afters” for wildly different status and looks groups. Unless you have money. One of the characters has a line, to Seth Rogen, that I hadn’t heard in a long time. “Stay in your own lane.” The modern version of “don’t get above your station.” Of course, money helps. :-). There’s a picture of our “first couple” that did the rounds, a few months back. She has a rather distressed look on her face, and the caption is, “The moment you realize the money isn’t enough.” 🙂 .

    We have two more cases of the virus, in our county. So, we’re up to 7, now. One person in their 30s, another in their 70s. Apparently, no connection to our digs, as we aren’t being swarmed by health department investigators.

    And, finally, from our “Ain’t it Cool!” department. Something I saw on an archaeology site, that I thought might tickle you. Being your a recovering gamer (gamer in recovery?). 🙂 . A Roman pin ball machine! Seen in a Berlin Museum. If you click on the picture with the text, there’s an explanation of how it works.

    Aint’ it cool? Lew

  70. Chris:

    I have taken note that you planted basil with your asparagus, since I have a new asparagus bed. The problem is that I can’t find my basil seeds. I had started a few indoors and then put the seeds somewhere. They are in a plastic bag which smells SO strongly of basil, yet I can’t find them. Truly a mystery. Maybe it’s a nose mystery, though.

    I am glad that you finally got the new panels up. What a big job that whole project was.

    My son got his first unemployment benefits weekly payment today. Two weeks of it will cover his rent each month. He does have savings, too. He only filed two weeks ago; I have never seen a government office move so fast.


  71. Chris:

    The nose has found the basil seeds. I guess it just didn’t try hard enough.


  72. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the story. I can imagine Mr. Greer’s response. I might make a foray to Safeway during Tuesday’s senior moment. (Safeway’s, not mine.)


  73. Chris,

    Cloak of credibility? That explains a lot. Said cloak of credibility appears to be hidden beneath an invisibility cloak.

    I remember when stores closed early on weekdays, even earlier on Saturdays. The only store other than groceries that was open Sundays was Sears department store, and they were only open until noon. A reset to a saner existence than go go go 24/7 will happen sooner or later. If not from the current thingy, then something else will cause it.

    I don’t envy you climbing and lifting and connecting and getting things wired, all from a height. The Princess doesn’t like me to climb more than about 60cm off the ground if she’s not around. Normally I’m fine, until I’m not, then a clumsy moment hits and I burn my fingers or a screwdriver slips and I gouge my hand or something else goes wrong. And these things never happen when she’s here.

    It’s that inner stress that I worry about with the young neighbor. Sheesh, I still have to watch myself to keep inner stress from getting too big a hold on things, and I’m neither young nor female.

    Nice prediction there, that the rez will get bigger. Nice way of picturing a step in the long descent.

    Coping mechanisms work just great as long as the coping is with the “normal” abnormalities. It’s those unexpected, new things that are nasty. “…but your work concerns a month or three back were ringing alarm bells for me. You just had to take a chill pill and reflect upon why you felt so put upon. As a suggestion, you are not up for the biffo.” Appreciate the comment. I’m totally not up for the biffo. Yes, I’m reflecting on that topic and relating it to other occurrences. Never too late to learn something.

    Good on Ollie knowing how to open doors! Thordog was, ummmm, not the smartest dog I’ve had, except for one thing: he was an accomplished escape artist. He couldn’t open doors, but we changed styles of gate latches once or twice, finally had to use a carabiner to keep it latched. He only needed to see someone open the gate once and he’d know how to do it.

    Coworker’s IT issues appear to have gotten fixed. A blanket email today said that 30% of our organization is working from home, and they’d like to see that increase.


  74. Hi Lewis,

    Far out dude! The wool blanket looks repairable, but those pups have sharp teeth. Today whilst I was on the phone Ruby managed to chew the tag on one of my leather boots. You know the one you’re meant to hang onto whilst putting the boot on. That dog has a naughty streak a mile wide, and I just had to deal to her then for upsetting Ollie and Plum who were otherwise enjoying some quiet time.

    Anyway, Ruby joined me today for a discussion with the green wizards. We’ve gone all international like and the New Zealand contingent has joined forces with the Australian contingent. It was quite the lively chat about the state of the world and all the crazy goings on. Ruby was asleep on my lap however from time to time she’d poke her head up and get into the camera view. Unfortunately, I was using my phone and at one point I got a bit close to the camera and microphone and everyone got a good view up my nose. They were very polite about my gaffe. Now the meetings occur over distance we’re planning to hold them a bit more often. I actually really like the people in the group and everyone brings different views to the table for discussion.

    Well, I tell ya, because I don’t have kids, sometimes people confide their misgivings about embarking on that particular journey. I assume you hear similar confidences from time to time? Interestingly, I read an article about how preppers over in your country are getting a bit of kudos from the general community right now. Can’t say as I’ve ever met a prepper, but at the same time I’ve been accused of being one.

    Went to check the mail this morning and managed to pick up the newspaper and a … take away coffee. The waste of the throw out coffee cup sits heavily on my soul, and whilst I’m not a fan, how else do I support the local general store. And I had to pay on card as well. Yes, we’ve managed to sneak in the cashless economy whilst nobody noticed. I missed the delivery of hot cross buns as we were too early. Such are the hardships that I have to endure in these trying times. On the other hand the editor and I went for a walk in the area with the take away coffees and it is amazing what you notice at walking pace.

    So, one house we noticed was clearly an old hill station garden, but had been burnt out in the 1983 fires. The building that replaced the burnt out house was a true horror of brutalist architecture constructed of concrete blocks. And the front fence had an earth bund pushed up against the front fence so as to provide a radiant heat shield of earth. There were so many stories of trauma oozing from the rebuild, that it was hard to escape the realities. Anyway, in the earth bund I spotted the old timber gates which still hard the scorch marks from the fire. But here is the interesting thing, elms, oaks, laurels etc. had colonised the earth bund and they’d somehow created an old school hedgerow. I’ll bet they never intended that outcome.

    I have no doubts the slaves were as upset about their collars as the pups were yesterday. However, today the pups have accommodated themselves to this change and are now just going about their usual business. I have this gut feeling that slaves would not feel that way.

    The interweb is a strange device because one minute I’m reading about Roman tunics (courtesy of curiosity about what Roman slaves wore) and then after a short journey I’m reading about the Return of Owners Land, 1873. How did this happen, well each journey begins with but the first tentative of steps. After that, well who knows what is going on?

    I was a bit concerned about the ladder slip, but when working at heights I always keep one hand on something solid and tangible. To be candid I was actually more concerned that I was going to run out of wire and not be able to rectify that not inconsequential matter. I bought a random reel of the stuff before things went crazy, and it is just enough to complete the solar power upgrade project, and in moments like that I shake my head in wonder at the narrowness of the margins. Your story of twine is going to become more common in the future, sorry to say. I take no comfort from such stories, but that is how things are. Anyway, 6 of the 16 panels were wired up, 10 more and about a further 3 hours of work to go.

    Yeah, it is the property adjacent to the hermit that I’m curious about. They have some good systems. I’m thinking that the owner is allowing a hermit to reside in a predominantly hidden locale in exchange for work around the property.

    Tomorrow I plan to get all of the winter vegetable seeds in ground. And I gifted some winter vegetable seeds to a neighbour with the instructions to get them in the ground tomorrow. Most people are a bit oblivious about the seasons, and there has been a run on seeds and seedlings at plant nurseries. Now, plant nurseries shouldn’t be selling folks punnets of chili seedlings, or chili seeds at this time, but turns out that a buck or so can make a difference to moving old stock.

    Yeah, sour in a nice way is a good way to describe the taste of spelt. Also the dough needs much longer to rise, so corners were cut and we ate a more squat bread loaf! Mate, bananas are a tropical fruit that are not possible to cultivate in either yours or my area for many a few jumps in global warming. Back in the day bananas were brought to Melbourne in wind driven coastal ships and stored in the vaults in Banana Alley.

    The newspaper was very thin today.

    Hehe! Your observations about rom-coms and life are so true! 🙂

    Good to hear that the virus is so far at arms length from you. Stay safe, don’t let anyone cough or sneeze on you, and remember to wash your hands thoroughly before touching your face. Not much else you can do.

    Oh lead me not into temptation Lewis! 😉 But the Roman pinball-type machine looks awesome and is far larger than first suspected. So very clever, and yup, cool as a cucumber.



  75. Hi Pam,

    Had a tasty homemade pesto on freshly baked bread today for lunch. So much basil, and I use peanuts instead of pine nuts (which don’t taste as nice) but I admit failure, in that for many years I have not been able to start the plant from seed. Now that you have found your basil seeds, can you offer any guidance as to seed starting?

    Yup, the higher 8 solar panels have been added to the structure, however, I have only wired up 6 of the 16 solar panels and will have to finish the job on Monday. Tomorrow is winter seed sowing day. There is a bit of tension here about sowing wheat and oat seeds in the nice garden rows, but we’ll see what tomorrow brings. I mentioned that corn is also a grass. People keep talking about flour shortages.

    Unemployment benefits are generally only enough to subsist. I assume your son knows to dial things back and assist with your edible garden? Not sure how you feel about the matter, but making ones wine or beer is a high yielding activity. The gubamint recently upped the dole in recognition of the sheer number of people on its roll.



  76. Hi DJ,

    Ah yes, the Emperor’s new clothes and all that gear.

    Hope you enjoyed a nice mid-week hiatus and that the spring weather was nice? The weather here is glorious, warm but not too hot and the sun no longer feels like it will scald your skin. I avoided any and all work today – a noble achievement for one who has been on the go for almost two weeks solid now.

    I’m not much of a fan of 7 day per week shopping, although it puts you and I into an unpopular basket of opinions. Interestingly, there have been suggestions that whilst the shopping malls are currently open, they are apparently empty of customers. Now I read an opinion on this subject which suggested that if the shopping malls were closed by gubamint decree, they could no longer charge their tenants rent. It is not a good look, and some major retailers have allegedly just told the mall owners to shove it and then closed their doors. A lot of carnage is going on just out of sight.

    60cm off the ground. I hear you. Yeah the photos of the structure might not do it justice, but high up the ladder was more than a few metres off the ground! Your lady is wise to protest, however I’d hope she holds off protesting once you are up in the air? We have a very firm rule here about that and it applies to me as equally as it does to the editor. No point getting stressed out when you are high up in the air on a ladder.

    Well, it is a problem and people would expect her to act a certain way which probably doesn’t resonate too well with her. At the end of the day you can help, but it really is not your problem and they all have to muddle through. You appear to have turned out OK so how bad can it be? Acceptance by all parties is wonderful thing.


    Just had to break up a fight with Ruby and Plum which spilled over the top of a sleeping Ollie. Yes, let sleeping dogs lie is good advice they should take heed of. They get ratty at night, and I have a fly swat ready to hand (next to the keyboard). It provides necessary reach and honestly all I have to do is put a hand on the fly swat and calmness and sleepiness prevails.

    I’m not up for the biffo either, there are times when I take criticism to heart and it is not a productive state of mind to get into. Or over the years I’ve occasionally gotten swept away by an issue, but with a bit of deep searching you can usually tell whether it is your issue, or an issue planted by someone else. Such things happen, and if your responses are predictable, really switched on folks can take advantage of your response to the situation. i.e. they play you. On the other hand you can’t keep your guard up all of the time because it wears a person out. Dunno about you, but I’ve found it best to act with a touch of restraint after a bit of consideration. What did the Ents say about being hasty? They were onto something.

    We don’t have fences, so I train the dogs so that they consider their surroundings and responses. I can’t always be there for them, and they have to exercise judgement – which involves risk. Plum and Ruby ate a parrot yesterday. The way they’re going, the three of them will be self feeding soon! There are no shortages of parrots.



  77. Hi Al,

    Thanks mate, and how are you doing in lock down?

    It never even occurred to me that folks would be decommissioning their old solar panels and installing larger arrays. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and I feel that I only just nabbed the materials in time before the recent craziness set in. The timing was far tighter than I am comfortable with.

    Yeah, I always use galvanised structural steel, and even after a decade there are only the most minor signs of the dreaded steel worm. It truly is an amazing material, and the really old galvanised corrugated iron sheets are incredibly tough. There are old iron kit homes in Melbourne dating back to the 1850-60’s.

    Well that is the thing. Connecting up to the grid would have set me back about $35k, so off grid solar was looking pretty good by way of comparison. There was a transformer and underground cables (under the road too) and it the line was a privately owned line. The folks who put the line up came sharking around one day asking if I’d connected up to the grid as they were looking for a fee from me for doing so.

    Not much at all 20A should work nicely. My needs are small, but there is not much sun here over winter.



  78. Chris:

    I think the pile of 10 books that I usually have by me for reference – or just reading – is sort of an equivalent to internet browsing. Not as fast, or as broad, but I can find a lot through them and pretty quickly with indexes.

    We only make pesto when we have fresh basil, so it’s been a few months. We make ours with walnuts. I like pine nuts, but they are unaffordable here. Our basil plants always produce seeds and drop them, but they have never sprouted outside. The only way I can get them started is to put them under lights in a warm spot (or use a heat mat). That always works.

    A bunch of tomatoes sprouted outside about a week ago; it is quite early for that They are in a row of peas that I keep watered. No tomatoes have sprouted anywhere else.

    I have found out that my son’s unemployment check is from the state; one from the federal government is forthcoming, also. He is well trained in frugal living, not just from our training, but he has been dead broke before.

    View up your nose! Ha! Speaking of noses . . . I learned awhile back that breathing through one’s nose increases nitric oxide in one’s system, a much needed bonus. And I have had sinus trouble my whole adult life and have always had a hard time breathing through my nose, but with a lot of practice I can now usually do so – and my sinuses are better! I have also heard that the hairs in one’s nose can capture viruses, where they die off before they get into one’s system. Don’t know if that’s true, but what is there to lose?


  79. @DJSpo:

    I missed Chris’ thought on the population (it was population, wasn’t it – not land size?) of reservations increasing. I think you are both right.


  80. Hello again
    They seem to be trying to abandon mains gas here as no-one may have a new gas boiler installed.
    Things continue to deteriorate here and I feel so lucky to live where and how I do.
    One of the ferry lines to the Island is discontinued at present.


  81. Hi Chris
    Lockdown blues ( not bad at all)😁
    I have a personal Half mask respirator. Easily disassembleale and cleanable with hot soapy water. Plus spare P-100 (better than N-95 ) cartridges and other parts. So I could avoid any careless, Godless, lung Hackers. My Wife and BFF of 53 me ”I don’t think it’s best for you to go to the store”
    My 48 yo daughter ,Who is known as Kris. “ I’ll go to store 2 ( my designation) during old people’s hours” as she leaves the store. an arriving older couple inquires “how is the store today” Kris “Lots of your people” older lady “ Oh you mean Q tips White on both ends”. It was good that Kris had not stopped at the in store Starbucks. She would given her self a nasal irrigation by coffee😂 yes we are Ok so far.

    Now let’s charge down to the charger.

    Go take a look around MeanWell Au. They sell there power supply’s some they call battery chargers for you market.
    I spent some time last night looking at their chargers. I used their power supply’s with good results previously. Not knowing the 20 amp required rating I was looking at top current rated models
    48 volts dc at 55 amp. Might run quite a bit of house load awhile charging safely. They have a lot of user programmable features. Your local solar dealer may have something better.
    The MeanWell au web site was a little problematic but they have a wide presence in your land. You can call them your favorite new toy mister Shmart phone

  82. Hi Chris
    Call them on your new favorite toy Mr Shmartt phone
    a few other typos too.

  83. Hi Chris,

    Spring has sprung in its gorgeous way here, with the early flowering trees (magnolias, cherries, plums, and apricots) all blooming in our yard or yards within eyeshot of our house. It’s peak daffodils too, and the cool-season grasses and weeds have greened up and are actively growing. Birds are singing and building nests, frogs are chorusing, and the first early leaves are showing. So much to see and appreciate!

    I too completed some things just in the nick of time, notably getting the lawn mower its spring tune-up. Dropped it off at the beginning of March; picked it up a week before lockdown. I didn’t mention that the store where we bought the lawn mower and get it serviced had received its delivery of chicks and ducklings just two days before we picked up the lawn mower. Oh, my … extreme cuteness, heart melting, and all that. Maybe I need to re-think the lack of chickens on our little homestead. We certainly eat enough eggs. If the store survives the lockdown, I know where and when I can get chicks next year.

    Now through April 1 is the right moon phase and sign for working with plants, so I dug the bed that I will move the perennial flowers and herbs to this year and add the annual flowers and herbs to it. Already most of the perennials have broken dormancy. I’m also pricking-out into larger quarters the seedlings that will spend a few more weeks to a month or so on the front porch. I’m committed to moon phase and sign gardening this year, after a trial run last year. I didn’t mention it in my most recent blog post, made a few days back, because the character the blog has developed doesn’t make it the best place for what some would call my more woo-woo side. Maybe I need another blog for that. Not sure I have time for two blogs, however. I need to make sure I can keep a once-a-month blog post schedule on one blog before I go to two.

    @ Damo: I enjoyed reading your story The Last Farang!


  84. @ Pam – I’m glad your son is muddling through. This too shall pass.

    I think the Roman pinball machine, you dropped four different colored balls on top, they shot out some holes, and back into others, by following gutters, along the outside. I think some of the gutters have broken off, so it’s kind of hard to visualize.

    I’ve also seen a mettle dice roller. It came from somewhere up on Hadrian’s Wall. You dropped the dice in the top, and baffles mixed them up and shot them out the bottom. They have discovered Roman dice that are “loaded.” Secretly weighted in such a way, to favor the thrower. Lew

  85. @ DJ – Who wants to go to old duffers hour? Nothing by cranky old people, there. 🙂 Lew

  86. Yo, Chris – Speaking of naughty dogs. HRH has a new trick. I go to take her for a walk, and she runs up to the door … and back again. More than once. The way her tail wags, she thinks it’s a cute trick. My intent was to stealth in and out, so Eleanor doesn’t have to get up, or, be disturbed if she’s taking a nap. So much for that.

    I think it’s great that your Australian Green Wizards are keeping the flag flying, on line. Even without the desert. I wouldn’t worry too much about the view of the inside of your nose. Tina Turner used to say … “Got my nose open.” Never knew what she meant by that, but, it always sounded so … suggestive. 🙂 .

    Ah! I meant to mention, used coffee cups are good for seed starting. A Google search might also yield all kinds of other uses. Take the sting out, at bit.

    Would have been nice if the hill station rebuild had used patterned or textured block. Even the wood grain you can see in some poured concrete, from the wooden forms, is interesting and kind of pretty.

    Speaking of the internet, and rabbit holes, I’ve finally found a good picture of something I’ve been wanting to pass along. Maybe not quit as cool as the pin ball machine, but, maybe it is. It was a farmer’s calendar, in the form of a square stone pillar. Found, I think, near Pompeii.

    What’s a hoot is, there was another website that sells prints (not very good ones) of a sketch of this stone. Besides the prints, they have about thirty bits of tat, with the poor print on it. Everything from coffee mugs, to duvet covers, to shower curtains.

    If the little cabin is close to another establishment, it might be what’s called here a “mother-in-law” house. Someplace to stash a relative, that you want to keep close … but not too close.

    My pea seeds arrived, today. The inoculant should show up on Monday. I need to get them in the ground, by the 31st, if I’m following the moon, to plant. Slug hunting season will open soon 🙂 , and I was taking a look around, last night. Didn’t see any slugs, but I saw two tiny, tiny snails. No bigger than a thumb tack head. Dragging their itty bitty shells, along. It’s a bit of a mystery, as I’ve only seen one snail in my patch. And it was on the exterior wall. Moved it around back to the slug reserve. If they survive and grow, I’ll move them around back, too.

    The rise and fall (and rise and fall) of Banana Alley was really interesting. It’s encouraging how old structures with good infrastructure adapt and change.

    I mentioned to one of the old dears (I was going to say, old bags, but that’s not very nice, is it?), that I was going to head down to Jeremy’s veg stand, this morning. “It’s closed.” “Where did you hear that?” “Can’t remember.” Well, she was half right. The stand and restaurant on Main Street, is closed. But the stand, over toward the Club, was open. Two weeks ago, when I went in, I jokingly asked if they had any toilet paper. Well, when I went in this morning, there was a table, right in front of the door with individual rolls of toilet paper (at $1.50 per) and rolls of paper towels!

    Then I decided to pretend like it was a normal Saturday, swing by the Club and sit on the bench out front and shed a tear. 🙂 . Well, it turned out Mr. Bill, the manager, and two of the board members were there. So, I got a cuppa and a bit of conversation. Frank the mechanic, from next door, wandered in. Turns out his business is fine, as it’s considered “essential.”
    We all maintained our 6 foot distance, and no one was coughing a lung out, so, it was probably ok. I swear, every trip out feels like a calculated risk.

    This virus is weird. There’s an old folks home, outside of Seattle. Not the one where the virus first took off. Every inmate has tested positive for the virus. But only half are showing any symptoms. There are 8 species of the virus, floating around. As it’s slow to mutate, they think if might have been about, a lot longer than suspected. That reminds me a bit of HIV/AIDS. It’s been detected in some tissue samples, dating back to the 1950s. But it took until 1980 to get a foothold and take off. Some people with the virus are sick and test positive. They get well, and test negative. Then they test positive, again. What’s with this stuff? We still only have 7 cases, in the County. But, the figures haven’t been updated for a couple of days.

    Oh, well. I baked banana muffins, yesterday. I’ll plant peas and watch snails. So all’s right in my small corner of the world Lew

  87. Hi Pam,

    The too-read pile here is quite large (thanks to the many suggestions from you lovely people) as well and books are indeed like an earlier and more robust form of interweb. 🙂

    Do you find that pesto that has not been made fresh, has a slightly odd taste to it? Walnuts are a great idea and I guess you use what you have available. Almonds would work too. Thanks for the heat mat and light suggestion, and it is on the to-do list.

    Tomatoes know what they are doing, although it would be a bit early for here too. Have you got a soil thermometer to see whether that area may be warmer than other parts of the garden?

    Good for him, I’m with you too about that. If you’ve experienced poverty, you know what it is and what you have to do, and are less troubled about it. There are many folks finding themselves in those shoes right now, that have no idea what to do.

    Yeah, there are some things that cannot be unseen. They were very polite about my gaffe. Dunno about hairs in nose stopping viruses, I think they may be too small and can get around the hairs. Sinuses can be a pain, and I heard a scientist once explain that they drain the wrong way, but I never really found out what that means.



  88. Hi Inge,

    It may also be possible that the gas supply line from the mainland cannot accommodate any more connections. You see that happening in rural areas with the electricity lines. A whole bunch of solar power projects up north of here have had their output throttled because the local grid cannot handle the output, and there are apparently not enough local demand for the electricity.

    Interestingly enough I read an article the other day that suggested that demand for natural gas here will out strip supply by 2024, and only recently whilst everyone has been concerning themselves with viruses, on shore drilling for gas was approved. We’d previously had a moratorium on the subject.

    Oh yeah, things are getting tight on an energy front.

    People have made that comment wistfully to me too. There was nothing stopping them following a similar path that you and I have taken, they just didn’t find it to be an appealing prospect.

    Ouch about the ferry. An economist might suggest that we are in a period of massive demand destruction.



  89. Hi Lewis,

    There is a general rule that can be applied to intelligent canines such as HRH. Before we delve into the rule, it is worth noting that HRH is a fluffy. So, Fluffy rule number two is: Once is a pattern. Of course Fluffy rule number one is: It’s not my fault, it’s yours. Thus you can now put HRH’s behaviour into a fresh perspective. Good luck, you are dealing with a proper fluffy there.

    Well you learn something new each day. The lyrics by Tina Turner are suggestive. What could it possibly mean? My mind is leaning towards recreational chemicals, but I have a suspicious mind. And we can’t build our dodgy Elvis puns, On suspicious minds! 😉

    It was really great catching up with all of the folks – and the NZ contingent. Such strange days. If you’d told me four weeks ago this is how things would pan out, I would not have dismissed your view, but yeah, things have moved far faster than I ever considered.

    A wise idea about the possible use of the coffee cups. My mind is unfortunately full to bursting at the moment to consider such uses, and seed starting is currently focused on the practicalities of getting in the winter vegetables. Today we got all of the winter vegetable seeds started outside – and got seriously rained on. Professional jugglers would not be performing as well! Even managed to convince the editor to plant some rows of organic heritage wheat. Gene Logsdon in one of his many books mentioned that back in the day wheat was sometimes grown in rows, so we are giving that a go. The editor had a bit of reluctance due to worries about the weedy nature of the plant. Anyway, as things go, at lunch I was reading Mr Kunstler’s fine new book and got to the chapter about the bloke up in the hills growing grains and making moonshine. After a quick discussion, that was enough of a hook for the editor to give the idea the green light (she is the brew master after all). Mate ya have ta have an angle is alls I’m sayin.

    Yeah, the building response yelled fear at me with those concrete bricks. One can have a fire responsive above ground house without it looking like a particularly severe and depressing Soviet era apartment block. Dunno, maybe I just expect too much from people?

    The Roman farmers calendar was very cool. It is a very useful instruction and reminder. It may be of interest to you, but we are becoming more accustomed to the annual cycles, otherwise known as things that need doing at various points in the year. There is a place for such a stone.

    I have a suspicion that the hermit may be one of the workers who works on the farm, but don’t really know. They have an enormous fruit cage, but I wonder where their vegetables are. You may be very interested to read this: Unemployment in Australia’s cities amid COVID-19 downturn sees farmers inundated. The speed at which events are occurring is making my head spin. In the Great Depression it took a few years before it sunk into peoples heads that at least farming families could eat.

    Good stuff, and I don’t doubt that the gravity tides of the moon affect ground water, much in the same way that ocean tides are pulled hither and yon by the big rock in the sky. I’m watching the weather forecast like a hawk and planted the winter vegetable seeds today. The soil is warm 59’F, the rows are fed and a rain storm hit. I’d call that the trifecta! I recently advised other locals to get their winter seeds in by today, but who knows whether they’ll listen and act?

    Mate, half closed is the way of the world these days, and I tend to defer to lived experience whilst considering rumour. The flow of cash in the community is seizing up as happened in the Great Depression, however that does not mean that it has died. I’m going to have to touch base with my coffee ground suppliers soon, and make arrangements to take their waste. The orchard benefits from the minerals and they have fallen back to take away.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? We’re getting back to a more practical and pragmatic experience. Not all businesses are going to get hammered by the great re-localisation, but a lot will. And there will be a shift in power back to rural areas that keep city folks fed.

    I have some bad news for you. Before the current virus, every trip out was a risk. That’s life, and I had to work next to someone years ago who had the influenza virus and they refused to leave their desk, and I caught it. Then the editor caught it. Five weeks we were out for the count, and I wrote a blog about it years and years ago titled ‘Man Flu’. But it wasn’t man flu, it was the real deal nasty influenza business.

    Yes, the same thing is going on here with the virus. Do your lucky numbers come up and you get the full blown viral pneumonia? I’ve heard that there are worse ways to go. And having serious health issues seems to be a factor at the moment.



  90. Hello again
    Sorry, I didn’t make myself clear. The no more gas boilers applies to the whole country.
    It is absolutely freezing outside due to a force 9 north easterly.


    @ Pam
    I had always been told that nasal hairs acted as a barrier to assorted nasties.


  91. Chris:

    Thanks so much for the farm workers article; it never occurred to me as an alternative work for people out of jobs.

    I have no soil thermometer, but I have occasionally been known to stick my thermometer for measuring air temps in the ground. Also, I have some quite thin slacks that I can sit upon the ground in as an alternative to testing it with my bare bum, as I think you said was an old method?


  92. @Lew:

    I thought it was a joke that someone called it a pinball machine. It really is, if not exactly a machine.


  93. @Claire:

    I am trying to keep up with the moon phases, too, but somewhere along the way I always get off track.


  94. Yo, Chris – Basil. The seeds need a bit of light to germinate. So, only the lightest sprinkling of soil, on the top. I got some basil seed discs, from Territorial seed. Those worked well. Better than the loose seed, I sowed. But, I did get some germination, from them.

    My pea seeds arrived yesterday, and the inoculant should show up tomorrow. If it’s not raining puppies and kitties (as it is, today, I’ll get them in the ground.

    HRH has apparently established a pattern. She will NOT come within reach unless Eleanor totters out to give the all clear. Today, I even had the brainstorm of grabbing her jar of treats, to lure her out. But, not even that would lure her within reach, and she’d scuttle away. I had a serious talk with her along the lines of, “Aren’t we still friends?” Much good that will do.

    To steal someone else’s line (and, it was applied to someone else), Tina Turner is a walking streak of sex. 🙂 . Drugs have nothing to do with it.

    Couldn’t get the article to load, but I’ll try again, later. But, I get the drift. Often, when discussing the collapse of Western Civ, someone makes the comment that we’ll all be digging potatoes … for someone else. The return of the Swagman? Here, during the Depression, people often worked a day, for a hot meal and a dry place to sleep. People on the road had a symbol language, that they’d inscribe on fence posts. Which farms to stay away from, which were good for a hot and a cot for a days work.

    Oh, I remember your Man Flu, post. In hind sight, it was very funny. Lew

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