Courtesy and Clouds

Some people are like clouds, and the world is brighter when they’re gone. In these strange days of massive re-localisation, I’m very careful about local relationships and how I’m perceived. Most of the local people I know well around this rural area help me out as much as they are able to do so. And in turn, I support them.

Mind you, I don’t always get the social things right. Long term readers will recall that a month or so back, we had to have the elderly and ailing Mr Toothy the long haired Dachshund put down. It was pretty hard to do that, as we’d known Mr Toothy for almost fifteen years. He was part of the furniture, and also the last dog here to have known the ways of the city.

But in the end, it was a quiet mercy to end Mr Toothy’s life, if only because he was no longer the dog that he once was. After that traumatic episode we had to visit the local general store. Now this was in the very early days of the looming shut down. People were stressed out and there had been runs on the supermarket shelves.

So there I was in the general store, distraught for the loss of Mr Toothy, everyone around me was a bit on edge, and I ordered a coffee to have there and also a pack of half a dozen (six) hot cross buns to take away. Except in my unthinking and distressed state, I described the half dozen (six) hot cross buns as a dozen (twelve) hot cross buns. Recall that everyone was a bit on edge at the time, and many products (hot cross buns being one of them) were in short supply. I had this moment of utter horror as I intuited that my unthinking actions came across as being a bit greedy. To make matters worse, that was fear was realised as I was accused of being a ‘prepper’.

Now for anyone who has been living in the middle of nowhere whilst taking no note of the more unusual corners of society, a prepper is defined as being: a person who believes a catastrophic disaster or emergency is likely to occur in the future and makes active preparations for it, typically by stockpiling food, ammunition, and other supplies.

Can’t really say that I relate to the concept of prepping, if only because it is not lost on me that eventually the ammunition and stock piles of food run out. What next, is a question that never seems to enter those peoples minds. Anyway, I’ve watched enough zombie films to know that more often than not, the zombies win that particular endurance test. And so there I was in the local general store on the awful day after having just put Mr Toothy down and I was being accused of being a prepper.

My mood was bleak that day, and I knew that an explanation was warranted, but the timing was not right. So I returned to the general store the next morning, and apologised for my gaffe and explained that it was not my intention to say what I had said, and at the time I was distraught after having just had my dog put down. Clearly, at the time, the people at the store were having a tough time, I was having a tough time, but memories of peoples behaviour are very long in rural areas – and a person is judged accordingly by their actions, if only because they are known. It is only in the city that a person can remain unknown.

Years ago I was told a remarkable story by a local, about another local who we both knew. The story had occurred three decades before hand, and yet there I was being told the remarkable story. And the story did not reflect well upon the person who was not present during the conversation, which I guess was the purpose of recounting the story in the first place. I did not need to be told a second time, and I have always tread warily in these rural social matters.

However, sometimes trouble comes knocking at your door unbidden. Regular readers will recall that last week the lovely power company forestry folks dumped a few truck loads of chipped up organic matter on my property.

Ruby admires the huge pile of chipped up organic matter that now has compost and coffee grounds added to it

Wrath and envy are just two of the seven deadly sins, and I observed those a few days ago. Some other neighbours received piles of the chipped up organic matter, but one neighbour in particular missed out. The neighbour was in a high state of emotion when I encountered him, and apparently he had given explicit instructions to the forestry crews as to where the piles of chipped up organic matter should be placed. Hmm.

As a comparison, I had a nice chat with the forestry crews – who worked amazingly hard – and asked them if they needed anything, and also left them with a thank you note. A world of difference.

However, accusations were thrown around about me that morning. I guess that is what you do when you are in a high state of emotion. Unfortunately I had to travel into the big smoke to meet up with two separate clients who were having difficulties of their own. Those client difficulties did not involve chipped up organic matter, they were far more serious.

After returning from the big smoke I was better able to deal with the chipped up organic matter situation. Not being the shy and retiring sort, I gave the neighbour a brutal and frank appraisal of the situation. Rather than apologising for the accusation which were thrown in my direction – always a sensible path in my book – he cut ties with me. It is an option, I guess. However I believe an apology is the better path, but people will do what they will do.

There is an anonymous quote which seems somewhat relevant here: “The only bad thing about burning your bridges behind you is that the world is round!”

The pink super moon from a few days ago (it was silver not pink!)

The weather this week has been mostly quite pleasant and sunny, except for Saturday when it was very unpleasant. The wind howled and the rain was coming in waves. A nice day for doing inside chores.

Earlier in the week the blackberry canes in their enclosure were all trimmed. The canes had grown so much that I was unable to walk through the path running down the middle of their enclosure.

The blackberry canes were trimmed this week

Chipped up organic matter (yes that stuff) was used to line the path in the blackberry enclosure, and compost was added to the rows.

A trimmed and fertilised blackberry enclosure

Years ago, the editor and I used to follow a planting arrangement which is popular in some gardening circles. The arrangement involves mixing different types of plants together and is known as a: ‘food forest’. And so in the blackberry enclosure there were also hundreds of raspberry canes in among the blackberry canes. The arrangement of mixing up plants sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice at this cool temperate locale, it has been a right royal pain. I can’t be certain, but my gut feeling tells me that such a planting strategy would work better in a sub tropical environment. So all of the raspberry canes were laboriously removed from the blackberry enclosure and planted out in the old corn enclosure – which is now solely dedicated to raspberries (and dogs). Note the good stuff on the path again!

The newly planted out raspberry enclosure

In other work, the middle garden terrace which contains all of the roses was finished abruptly at one end because a large rock was sitting in the middle of the terrace. It was a big rock, and weighed more than I. Vague plans were formed to move the large rock and finish the garden terrace (and fencing)

The large rock just behind Ollie was just asking to be moved

We had no idea whether the large rock could be moved, but we thought that we’d give it a go and see what happened. The plan was to site the large rock next to the other large rock in the foreground of the above photo. That would form a nice solid edge for the garden terrace.

After a lot of digging, the large rock could be moved slowly

Moving the rock required a lot of digging. Once the rock was mostly free of soil, we could use a long steel house wrecking bar to lever the rock and move it into position. With a lot of hard work, the large rock was moved into position. The surface of the garden terrace was then back filled with soil and the terrace has now been extended by over a metre (3 foot, 3 inches).

The garden terrace was extended by about a metre once the large rock was in position. It was also covered in the chipped up good stuff

The messy area in the foreground of the above photo is part of a new shed and water tank project. The soil excavated in that project is being used to complete the path that runs up above the house. Plus the excavated rocks will be used to fill steel rock gabions.

The new path up above the house is in the process of getting widened by about a foot. Also the end closest to the driveway has been extended, but it is not yet complete. The next photo shows many of the stages of construction.

The path up above the house is getting closer to being completed + mulch stuff

Some mid sized rocks excavated this week were used to continue the terraced succulent garden project.

The terraced succulent garden received a few more mid-sized rocks + more stuff

The weather swings from warm to cool, and that means fungi time! There are fungi everywhere. This one was quite large:

Spot the fungi. Is it Ruby, Ollie or Plum? Imagine how big the fungi would get if it had access to the chipped up organic matter stuff.

Fungi also grow in clusters, like this next photo:

Clusters of fungi surround these healthy looking plants

Leaf change is here, except without the tourists this year. On Saturday morning I spotted the police sending some tourists home again – and they may well have been fined $1,600 for the benefits of that particular conversation.

Leaf change is here

Some of the fruit trees are beginning to lose their leaves.

These plums are turning deciduous

Onto the flowers:

Rhododendrons are confused and producing flowers
I grow a huge variety of Rhododendrons and they are really lovely plants
Olive herb is in flower. The leaves have a taste which is reminiscent of olives
I grow a lot of different varieties of the Mint family of plants. This is Basil Mint
A close up of Pink Rosemary flowers
Geraniums grow prolifically here

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 403.2mm (15.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 370.0mm (14.6 inches).

82 thoughts on “Courtesy and Clouds”

  1. Yo, Chris – Ohhhh! That makes such a good put-down. “The world is brighter (sunnier?), when you’re gone.” I’ve got to remember that one. 🙂 .

    Well. That’s interesting that some of the other neighbors also got piles of chips. I’d say “explicit instructions” about covers why the forestry guys “forgot” to drop a load off at his place. Wonder if he expected them to spread it, too? Now that you’ve cleared up the little misunderstanding about the honor veg stand, I’d guess most of the neighborhood knows what a t___, the fellow is.

    In the photo “Newly planted raspberry enclosure, Ollie looks like one half of a pair of andirons. The kind you’d see in a castle with a walk in fireplace. Hmm. Interesting. Another term for andiron is “firedog.”

    My, you do move those rocks around. Landscape rearranged to suit. :-).

    The very beautiful leaf change picture really brings it home, to me, that it’s fall, in Australia. It’s kind of abstract, until you see a picture like that. Won’t you miss the leaf peppers? Whatever will you find to whinge, about? 🙂 . I wouldn’t want my roads clogged up with a bunch of day trippers and punters, either. It’s like Christmas. Even the smallest errand takes twice as long, as everyone else is nuts. I wonder if the couple that the police rousted were up to something nefarious? Body in the boot? Ten pounds of dope under the back seat?

    So is the basil mint schizophrenic? Bi-Polar? Is it a Jekyll / Hyde kind of a thing? The rosemary is really pretty. Our venerable old bush is coming into full bloom, and the pollinators are buzzing around. Ours is more blue. It is amazing how many forms geraniums come in. Lew

  2. Hi Al,

    Apologies, I missed your comment yesterday! 🙂

    We’re all good. I enforce a no idiots policy on the blog, which results in there being no idiots here. Well, idiots may turn up to read, but they most certainly won’t ever be able to post a comment. I feel this is a good approach for a medium (the interweb) that does not follow the usual social norms. But then I’m rather old fashioned in some respects. 🙂



  3. Hi Margaret,

    It’s a return to hard times isn’t it? Between you and I, I’m quite enjoying the slower pace of life and feel that it needn’t have been as fast paced as it was. Apart from not being able to go out for dinner, life is sort of continuing on much as before – but then I don’t live in an apartment where life may be highly inter-mediated. Not sure how we’d cope with such an experience – probably not good which is why we live where we do. Today was such a nice afternoon, the editor and I, plus the three dogs (the two pups under Ollie’s guidance) went for a walk for about an hour – and didn’t even leave the property. Found a few good stashes of rocks that are just asking to be loaned out to the projects here.

    Wise to have doubts in that regard. Anxiety is a natural part of our species emotional state, and I’d be curious about your thoughts, but I reckon the problem occurs when the emotion becomes a continual state of being then that it is a problem. Emotions perceived as being negative (such as loss, fear, anxiety) are not necessarily feelings to be quashed. I feel sorrow, fear and anxiety from time to time and that is just part of being alive, but I’m also really content to be alive. Us humans tend to fly to one extreme or another extreme, but I’d hope that contentment is somewhere in the middle of all of that mess. 🙂 It is wise that your daughter avoided the medication as it forces her to adapt to her feelings, however I feel that there is nothing at all wrong with getting a bit of that sort of assistance (although I have not tried such medicines) for a short period of time to get over some mental health issue – but again help like that can only extend for a short period of time, otherwise it becomes a crutch, and sometimes I’ve noted that people fall into a ‘new normal’, and heaven help the people around them if their meds are taken away by choice or circumstance. The come down can be very real. But then just to chuck in another complication, some mental health issues cannot be fixed one way or another, and that requires coping strategies. Such a complicated issue that has been raised.

    Saturday here was perhaps similar to your cold weather experience? Far out, so cold. Today was a glorious autumn day. Like you I’m enjoying chives, and in most meals now we’ve added a huge diversity of herbs out of the garden. I wouldn’t dare feed such a heady mix of vegetation to guests – can you imagine the reaction? 🙂 Over the past few weeks we have begun acclimatising ourselves to consuming a much wider variety of plant foods grown here. Fortunately the many varieties of citrus are now coming into production for the winter – and this year the Tangelo has produced some fruit. Who knows what that will taste like? Next month I’ll begin opening the bottled fruit.

    Hey, get excited: I spotted the very first wheat seedling today!!! Yay! The seeds expiry date was two years in the past…



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I feel for the ladies missing their annual Easter potluck feed up. Festivals and parties are what bring us all together, and such things have gone the awful way of the Dodo. Nobody really wants to be a Dodo!

    The enthusiasm of the two blokes in the Ruth Goodman episode on lime that you linked to was infectious. I really enjoyed how they were dressed up in the clothes of the era, and also used all of the technology of the era. A lot of people talk a big game, but at the end of the day, when push comes to shove, knowledge is a fine thing, but practical experience of ability to apply knowledge is the whole next level. And those two blokes had it in – dare I say it? – in spades (in the literal meaning of that particular word). I too know my way around a shovel, and can appreciate the craftsmanship and thought that went into creating such a tool. One of the local kids up the road has worked for years at developing the skills of a blacksmith – even constructing his own forge and making charcoal – and I have nothing but respect for such a choice. It is not a lucrative path now, but who knows what the future entails?

    Technology is often misinterpreted. From my perspective technology can be as simple as putting a black locust fence post in the ground knowing that it is fairly rot resistant. Such basic understanding of materials has been somehow misplaced. I have one of those trees growing here – and it is the fastest growing tree that I have ever encountered. Despite the wicked thorns (which are probably quite useful in their own right), I keep a sharp eye out for seedlings and then re-plant them somewhere that they can get a better start to life. I enjoy such technology too, as it gives us an edge and is more easily replicable.

    The cattle and sheep dog collective ran around all day today in the sunshine – as befits a proper working dog life. And tonight, again they are out-for-the-count! I counted to ten and waved around beef jerky and they continued to sleep soundly. After a very late lunch (2pm), the editor and I called it quits for working, and instead we took the dogs on a long walk through the forest for about an hour. Never left the property either. Discovered an interesting patch of rocks which we’ll harvest. Because you raised the awful issue that over a long enough time period all rocks will end up at the bottom of the hill, I now feel that I am borrowing the rocks for the nonce.

    It is nice to enjoy a slower paced life, although I’d be curious to hear from your point of view whether that is the case in your land?

    Speaking of Roman bread, and all things bread related. Ta da! The very first wheat seeds germinated today in the warmer autumn sun. Mate, the seeds were at least two years past their expiry date and I was a bit worried that they wouldn’t sprout at all. I’ll breed plants from those seeds if they run through to completion in late spring / early summer. Firm plans have been made to create a much larger grain enclosure, but seed stock is a bit of a problem right now. The poor mules got a bad day that day in Pompeii! But then so did a whole bunch of other folks. The ending would have been pretty quick due to the heat in the gases.

    Adaption is always wise, and keep an eye on the condition of your soil as it will tell you when you need to water it, but you probably already know that. And perhaps watering when nobody is around might not be a bad option.

    Exactly, there are few fertilisers as good as blood and bone, so the fruit trees would appreciate the feed. And the timing is spot on – just before a rain storm hits. You’d be amazed but I give each of the several hundred fruit trees at least half a wheelbarrow of feed each and every year. Without the feed, I have reservations that they might get through the summer months should a drought visit, without additional watering. But also over time, they do adapt to their conditions and will send out ever larger root systems. Don’t under-estimate the free and easy source of nitrogen, although at the same time people get really weirded out if you’re caught doing such a thing. It is very weird that such a handy mineral source is preferred to be treated as a waste source to be gotten rid of by our society. No wonder we are all in the mess that we currently find ourselves in!

    Hehe! Oh yeah, the put down is like – super bad! Take that ya numpties!!! 🙂

    As you are only too aware a person can say something, without saying it. 😉 And we all know that some folks are genuinely tone-deaf as to how their interactions come across. I do feel for them, but at the end of the day, it is not my problem and during times like these, to shield such folks from the consequences of their actions is to do them no favours. Generally I don’t take the good fight to other people, but if they bring the fight to me…

    I didn’t raise the issue of the apple stand because unfortunately, what has been done, has been done – and at the time the apple stand was placed on the road, it had not occurred to me that such an outcome was even a remote possibility. For your interest, I have heard about that apple stand twice in the past month, and people were mistaken that I was the instigator. For two separate and unrelated parties to speak with me about the apple stand from a few years back only serves to display how far and wide the consequences of that thing travelled. What do you?

    It just so happens that I have used such a metal device without understanding that it was called an andiron. Most Victorian era houses had fireplaces (usually of masonry construction) and those metal devices were commonly seen. They work too. Down here we call them fire grates, and the local pub has a huge fireplace in the common room (which I prefer to eat my dinner and drink beer in) and the fire sits on a fire grate. It is a pleasant thing on a cold winters night, although I prefer not to sit too close to it as it over heats me.

    Ollie is notably well behaved, and whilst the sheep pups are getting with the program, they are nowhere near as well behaved as Ollie.

    You mentioned once long ago that from a long enough perspective all of the rocks will eventually return to the bottom of the mountain. With that outcome in mind, I’m tending to feel that the rocks are only borrowed for a short period of time! And there is another large rock in the middle of the upper terrace. Can it be moved? Who knows? But we’ll definitely give it a go.

    Not to worry, there’s plenty more whingeing where that lot comes from! 🙂 Hehe! A worthy challenge!!! A lifetimes supply perhaps? 😉 When it is a cold autumn morning and the locals are all rugged up for the conditions, a bright young thing wearing bright cyan leg warmers and heading up for a walk in the forest stands out like the proverbial dogs bits. It was a bad call on her part – and I wouldn’t have wanted to have been a fly on the glass in the car on the way back home again. Ten pounds of dope would probably justify the huge fine, but going for a bushwalk when other people aren’t around seems a bit over the top to me…

    Imagine mint that sort of tastes like basil – but then not really like Basil – and you’ll achieve an appreciation of the flavour of basil mint. It is a very hardy plant. Do you ever harvest any of the rosemary leaves? I sometimes chomp on them as I walk around the garden and the flavour is quite pleasing to the palate.

    I spotted an article that you may enjoy and it covers many issues that we have discussed over the years: Fighting fire with fire. It is a beautiful story of reconnecting with the country, old school apprenticeship and lucky encounters.



  5. Hi, Chris:

    I haven’t read your post yet – but what a mulch mountain! You are one canny and fortunate man. I have to make my Monday run into town, but I wanted to address Lew about Eleanor, so I’ll get to reading as soon as I can.


  6. @ Lew:

    About Eleanor, from the end of last week: Besides the Niacinamide I mentioned before, see if she is being sure that she is drinking enough water. Dehydration can cause anxiety, as well as depression.

    Does she watch her blood sugar? Eat when she needs to? That can be a big contributor to anxiety,

    One of the best things I ever did was learn to breathe through my nose – at least some of the time. I have had sinus troubles all my life and didn’t even think I could breathe through my nose much, but a comment someone made had me doing research and when I found that breathing through the nose produces nitric oxide, which causes blood vessels to relax and expand, I began to really practice that nose breathing. It works and it gets easier with time. Even just breathing through one side is enough.

    The practice and concentration that it takes to learn to breathe correctly is also a great distraction from one’s troubles.

    As for your tooth – I have the same problem. I know 4 other members of my family who have similar problems and we have been using, for several years, something which I can’t recommend, though it helps – a bit of colloidal silver swished around in the mouth, first thing in the morning, last thing at night when we have tooth trouble. Being a precious metal it is pricey stuff, but one can get a small bottle, not the gallon size we buy to share. The brand we use is MesoSilver.


  7. Yo, Chris – Kudos to the kid up the road, for taking up blacksmithing. Back in the day, every village had a blacksmith. Didn’t you used to live across the street from a smith? Or, maybe, a welder?

    I have a suspicion that I may have showed this to you before, but maybe not. Other readers may not have seen it. A Roman dice tower …

    It got me to thinking. I wonder if there was a Roman class of metal worker, that fell somewhere between blacksmith and fine jeweler? To make things like this. And, the Roman Rubic’s cube. Not as heavy duty as blacksmithing, but doesn’t use the precious metals or jewels, like fine jewelry. And, boy, the Romans had some super fine jewelry. In the prequal to the Camulod series. Varrus just about goes out of his mind making little rings, for chain mail. Part of his apprenticeship process.

    I bet your hounds enjoyed a good walk. I wonder if Ollie ever thinks, “Kids these days!” 🙂 . HRH looks a bit choppy, but she’s all clean and shiny! I tossed her in the tub, yesterday afternoon. It went well. I think we’ve achieved another level of trust. She even let me work on her feet and ears, which she’s usually touchy, about. Oh, my. The mats I cut out. There’s more to do, but we got to the point where I was tired, and she was tired, and it was time to quit. We’ll do it again, next Sunday, if her skin doesn’t start itching. You know, she was all set to go the the groomers, when the pandemic started and everything slammed shut. And, being around her every day, you really don’t notice how she’s running downhill, as far as grooming goes. Well, we’re on top of it, now.

    More rocks to play with. How exciting. Be sure and set enough aside to build the tower :-).

    Hmmm. Do people enjoy the slower pace of life. Hard to tell. To early to tell? I think economics play into it … if they’re financially strapped, or not. I think people are in the process of filling in the changed areas of their life. I’d think the one’s having a rough time of it aren’t casting about for alternatives. Does that make sense? I saw an article yesterday (Atlantic Magazine), titled, “You to can have a pandemic puppy!” Actually, it wasn’t a bad article. A couple without kids, living in the city. Well, the husband had been campaigning for 8 years to get a pup. He’d dog sit or walk other people’s dogs, at the drop of a hat, so, he knew what he was getting into. The wife resisted. But, with the situation, she capitulated. And, has not regretted it. She was pretty clear that it’s an ongoing commitment, and, she hoped that people understood that when the pandemics over, the dog will still be there.

    So, the wheat seed has lift off? Congrats. I think I mentioned that I had potatoes poking up. Well, I noticed yesterday that they looked a bit sick. Almost frost burned. Well, they were. Turns out we had a couple of nights of light frost. Last night it got down to 28F (-2.22C). I hope they bounce back.

    I also got the trellis restrung, yesterday. 36 hooks, 81 string crossings that had to be double knotted and yards and yards of jute.

    Andirons came in a lot of interesting and decorative shapes. The coolest one’s I saw were made about 1900. Cast iron owls, with glass eyes. So, when you lit a fire behind them, the eyes glowed. Very cool.

    Rosemary has never been on my list of “go-to” herbs. I tried some on fish, a couple of months ago, and didn’t really care for the taste. But I may use it again, as I think (for me) it might be an acquired taste. Might look into what I can bake, with it. Lew

  8. Yes, managing relationships in a rural community is more complex than in the city; one slip up, and you are part of local lore ( or shunned!) for years.

    The part I’m still not well versed at is the bartering/favor trading. With no cash reference, knowing the “currency exchange rate” between eggs and fresh greens, or hay and meat, or tractor use for maple syrup, and a myriad other combinations takes a while to figure out. You shoot for win-win, but I always worry that the other party is being too polite, but still making judgements.

    Anyway, when I see you levering big rocks, it reminds me I still feel bad my suggestion of expansive grout did not work out a while back. As my back has gotten older, hoisting firewood into the truck takes a bit more thought. A had to use the chain saw to split in half the largest portions of the tree trunk on a recent firewood excursion before picking up and loading in the truck.

    We are in the grips of one last cold snap( 17F, -8C predicted low tonight) before true spring, hopefully the tree buds have been cagey enough to hold off full swelling. We’ll see in a few more days if damage was done. Overall a warmer than average winter, but timing is crucial when it comes to plant damage.

  9. @ Pam – Eleanor and I were just talking about hydration, the other night. We both hit the water, pretty hard. 🙂 . Her blood sugar is fine. And, she eats. She still does a bit of cooking, for herself. Her helpers also do simple stuff. And, her family is always bringing her things. She eats sensible. Oh, a little splurge here and there, but nothing over the top.

    I’ll look into the Mesosilver. Lew

  10. Hello Chris
    Any human being can become a cloud. I can have a much loved visitor and then after a while I feel him/her becoming a cloud as I become fatigued and long for solitude again.
    The very best story about non forgetting is the one in the Arabian Nights about the man who disgraced himself by farting and fled the country. When he returned many years later it was still talked about.
    I need an aspergers/autistic child. I wish to know whether kitchen paper or tissues are the cheapest. Tissues tell one how many are in the box but sheets of kitchen paper, I don’t know. I was telling this to Son and his response was ‘YOU REALLY NEED TO GET OUT’.


    @ Pam
    I believe that one only breathes through one nostril at a time after a while one switches. Indian yogis are supposed to have discovered this.


  11. @ Lew,

    There’s still another hope: I asked my friend the geometry expert. He’s looking into the dodecahedron and thinking about it. If he comes up with anything he’ll let me know, and then I’ll let you know…

    And what Pam said about breathing through the nose is spot on. I’ve had sinus issues and allergies that sit in my nose since we moved to Spokane in 1967. Learning to breathe as much as possible, even if only one nostril at a time, as helped keep me calmer and helps ease some of the allergy and sinus symptoms somehow.


  12. Chris,

    The way you manage this place is appreciated! It’s nice having a noncombative place to hang out. Dave did the only rational thing to HAL 900 when he broke it to pieces and discombobulated it.

    Thanks. Being in the land of the living is quite enjoyable. The Princess echoes your sentiment and finds that my being in the land of the living is a good thing, too.

    I’ve not looked for stock cubes, as I’d bought some earlier this year just because. At least the ones I get are high in sodium, so there are times I use them to replace sodium if I’m feeling mildly dehydrated. A cube dissolved in a mug of hot water works.

    I always had grasses or wildflowers growing among the raspberries, so there was always some extra cover for the roots. I’ve removed the maple trees and stumps from the raspberry area, and need to get the unwanted weeds and grass out. But that might wait until after raspberry harvest in July. I’ll be adding compost to them, though, and to the areas that I’ve disturbed via the tree removal.

    I feel out of sorts if I don’t get outside for even a few minutes daily, regardless of the weather. Your winters, although not as cold and snowy as ours, still suffers from the lack of sun. (Heck, you’ve alerted me to that via your posted records showing how little solar energy is available.) IIRC, you’re about 39 degrees south of the equator, and I’m about 47 north – a lot of similarities will occur. There’s not much sunlight at certain times!

    I’ve been on both sides of the equation with workers and free stuff. My experience is that sometimes it’s more cost effective to get rid of the stuff like just happened with you, BUT they just need to dump it quickly. The only time I gave some detailed directions about where and how to place free stuff, I was told to bugger off. When I’ve been grateful and human and chatty just because, then I get the freebies and sometimes have even been asked where to place it. As you surmised, it seems to be a matter of being nicely human about it and grateful that they’ve made the offer to give you something.

    Were those Ollie statues in the new raspberry enclosure and near the rock that was asking to be moved? He really does look statuesque when he’s sitting, you know.

    That area does look better with that rock getting moved. So nice of you to accommodate the rock when it asked to be moved. I notice that in the era of peak rocks, you keep finding more rocks. But I would guess that they’re getting harder to harvest and move due to their location?

    The confused rhododendron flowers look good. The mint and rosemary flowers are exquisite.

    I was chatting with a neighbor today. Many years ago, my grandparents spent their summers near a tiny place called Bigfork, Montana. We would spend a week in June and a week in August camping near there and visiting them. We’d take them to dinner in Bigfork at least once each summer. There were only a couple decent restaurants there back then. My neighbor was a waitress at one of them and was smitten with a local cowboy/poet/musician/writer. Turns out he is one of my favorite fiction authors, Peter Bowen. Or was. The neighbor mentioned that he died on Friday. Time to reread the series of books and hoist a cold one for him.

    Had to venture out for a couple more things for the Princess today. The stores mostly seem to have what I need, not necessarily what I want. Needs before wants, beggars can’t be choosers.


  13. Hi Pam,

    Hope your Monday run into town went without a cough, sneeze or even a mild hiccup! And thanks for the kind words – that mulch mountain will feed the orchard.

    We’re coming around to thinking that perhaps the location where the mulch was dumped, would be good to keep a regular truck load dump of mulch for the many uses the material can be put too. The soils are not an infinite supply of minerals, and one must consider that what goes into producing the inedible parts of trees needs to be replenished.



  14. Hi Steve,

    It is frightening to consider the possibility and ramifications of socially stumbling in a rural setting. An error for the unwary, or one for the merely naive. But on the plus side it adds to the balance sheet of local legend. But do you want to put yourself in such a place?

    I hear you man! As a culture we are not trained to the finer points of the gentle art of bartering and bargaining. It is a lack in our society, but then that is what you get from living large. So often I’m confronted with people who just ask. It never even occurs to them to offer something in return. A polite ‘no’ usually suffices and bizarrely they go on to shamelessly ask someone else. If you are working around the complicated issues that are barter, then you are way ahead of the curve and I ain’t even that close here. People are still at the ‘just asking’ stage.

    I’ve travelled a bit in Asia and that time taught me to discuss such matters. It is a bit of an art form, and I’m no expert, but I have noticed that if nobody is happy with the outcome – then you’ve probably reached the correct exchange rate. And there is a certain amount of respect to be earned from reaching that point.

    Not at all! Fear not. The failure of the expansion grout only raised the bar, whilst producing the delightful state of acceptance. Plus I can now deal with much larger rocks than I’d previously even considered. Quality rotary hammer drills and their associated bits are a truly wonderful tool.

    Far out that is seriously cold! Fingers crossed, that weather would lose the blossoms off all but the hardiest of trees. The buds could probably survive unscathed so you’ll probably be OK, but I have not experienced such a cold blast here. 28’F is as cold as it gets here. Yup, timing is everything on that score.



  15. Hi Inge,

    A few months back you mentioned George R. Stewart’s novel Earth Abides, and this afternoon I began reading it. So far, it is an excellent read. Earlier today I finished Mr Kunstler’s latest book: Living the Long Emergency, and despite the dark nature of the topic under discussion I really enjoyed reading it. And the conclusion was so very true.

    The metaphor of the cloud is a goodie, and yeah as I heard once long ago that, when some folks are around they just bring ya down. That is not meant as a disparaging comment about such people, as like you, I also enjoy their company, but recovery time is required. 🙂 I try not to let them sap my energy, but then there are times I have to give energy to others and that’s cool as long as they have the history as well as the runs on the board. When I don’t know them, and they can’t reciprocate a friendship, I generally burn such people off. It is a harsh perspective, but energy is limited and it must be used sparingly. Being a guy I can sometimes get away with blunt speech and frank assessments of the situation at those times.

    Thanks for mentioning the tale from the Arabian nights, and it reminds me of a Greek tragedy or morality tale, but with more of an amusing and memorable story line.

    Your son might be right in that most pressing of issues! When you discover the truth of the matter, pray do tell! 🙂 Good luck.

    Another glorious autumn day today, but I did not have enough time to check in and see how the wheat seedlings are going.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    These were the neighbours I offered the winter vegetable seeds to. They’re alright, and I was pleased to observe the enthusiasm the young bloke had for the art of blacksmithing. From time to time, I’ve heard the hammer ring on the anvil at that place and it is a form of music to my ears, although I hope they’re wearing hearing protection. They even make their own charcoal. His timing was a bit off as courses have been put on hold due to the current dramas, but then lots of things have been. It is an excellent skill to have, and I said as much.

    You’ve got a good memory. The bloke was: Peter Corlett, and he was a truly lovely neighbour and graciously allowed me to use his workshop and welding gear. I was really touched by the generosity, and slipped him a couple of bottles of red and white wine as thanks. His work is amazing.

    PICTOS VICTOS is a big call, and I note that the Pictish folks weren’t subsumed until the Vikings and neighbouring Anglians had given them a serious run for their money. I’m amazed at the quality of the copper alloy after all these centuries.

    The copper alloy would have been a fine metal, but as you note not good enough for jewellery, and certainly not strong enough for weapons. Had to laugh about the younger Varrus producing rings for chain mail. 🙂 Takes a lot of rings for even one piece of chain mail armour. Anyway, I read long ago that supposedly, the celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay spent his apprenticeship making Club sandwiches – with a similar reaction. To be candid, it is not different from horse breaking, and our society is going through that process right now on an epic scale – with a similar emotional state – and I have no doubts that it will go on for as long as it takes to produce enough rings to produce one item of chain mail armour.

    Ollie used to be able to stand up to his full height and the little ones couldn’t bite his face. That trick doesn’t work so well now, and sometimes he puts their entire head into his mouth as if to say, don’t push me kids. And they love him to bits and he is both their mascot and champion.

    HRH will surely be happier with a choppy cut and feeling cooler, than with a thick fluffy double coat and feeling over-hot all of the time. Dog grooming is hard work, because as you note dogs have their limits just as much as humans have their limits. Sometimes when dogs get too over-hot from thick coats, they can get itchy skin regardless. Have I ever mentioned the story about the casserole dog phase that some of the dogs here have gone through?

    A tower is not a bad idea, but you did dissuade me many months ago. Have you had a change of heart on that advice, or are you merely pulling my leg? 🙂 Hey, I finished Mr Kunstler’s latest book this morning and began reading ‘Earth Abides’ by George R Stewart. It’s a good read. Over the next year or so I’ll concentrate more on the plants. It was a nice day here today, but I was so busy with work during the sunlight hours that I was unable to get up and see if any more wheat seeds germinated. I hope so, and I did an experiment yesterday in those rows to get the birds to assist me just to see what might happen.

    Yes, that concept makes perfect sense. Interestingly I have heard anecdotal accounts (not clients and so I can discuss the viewpoints) from one or two folks that they intend to keep up the various expenditure choices they previously prescribed too by borrowing against their house. I’m really uncertain about that option, but time will tell. Contraction occurred last time (the early 1990’s) from the periphery (i.e. rural areas) and ended up in the city. I worked for the state gubarerment at the time and well, it is not like such can print money and eventually I got told: Thanks, but no thanks, son. Four years of debt collection work was a real wake up call.

    That’s really weird you mention that as I encountered a pandemic puppy this morning. The young couple looked pretty chuffed and the pup was a ball of sheer naughty, but in a fun way and fortunately on a string. We spoke about dogs for a bit, I picked the pup up and gave it a happy scratch and they went on their way. Down here they say that: A dog is for life, and not just Christmas. I have an awful feeling that in the months to come as finances constrict, many pets will be dumped.

    Yay for wheat (or the three seedlings so far…)! Still something is better than nothing, and if germination rates are rubbish, then all seeds will go into next years crop. Well done with the potatoes. They are an amazing crop. I wouldn’t worry about it much, such frost kills off the leaves here, and they regrow. One of the great benefits of having a tuber as a food source, is that the plant has a tuber for a food source. Can’t go wrong – but don’t mention the potatoes in certain company! Far out, it elicits such a crazy response, it would be like if I started banging on about highland clearances, or convict injustices…

    Speaking of which, the other day someone amusingly mentioned to me that the cruise ships could be converted into prison hulks. Everything old might indeed be new again and the ship owners will certainly be looking for some income from the beasts. Who knew there were that many of them ‘out there’?

    That would be really cool to see those owl andirons. I’d like that for sure. Wood fires are really lovely and heartening on a cold winter’s night, and dry seasoned firewood stored under cover is like mad cash in the bank – but better.

    Fair enough, I know oregano is of the mint family and can get a bit wild, but have you tried that herb? As the weather is cooling, the chives and parsley are taking off. Have you ever grown ginger?



  17. Hi DJ,

    Thanks, and rest assured if HAL ever turned up here and began trolling me, I’d just pull the plug on the pesky machine. 🙂 That’d fix its case of psychosis! For its time, that film was amazing. Richard Strauss knew what he was doing when he composed that monster of a piece of music too. Epic and stirring stuff!

    Mate, the alternative is probably quite quiet, and glad to read that your lady approves of this line of thinking. Who would provide the resident math genius status if you were gone? A massive hole, and I for one am not volunteering for that role.

    Salt is another of those items that is quite hard to obtain now at the supermarket. It would be nice if some clever person reopened the historic salt works in the big smoke. A year or two back I went to visit an historical site, and it must have been a big job to dig out all of the evaporation pans. Cheetham Saltworks. Ingenious stuff huh?

    Dunno about your raspberries but I grow my lot in rows, but allow the plants to form self supporting bunches of canes which don’t require any support. Dunno, but I saw an old timer garden doing that technique and I reckon the thicket of canes stops the sunlight drying out the soil, but all the same they need watering.

    Absolutely, for three weeks either side of the winter solstice, the average peak sunlight is about an hour a day spread over the entire length of a day. Fortunately as long as it is not too wet, it is excellent conditions to work outside – as you don’t over heat.

    You-nailed-it! And yup, I reckon that is exactly what happened. It does not reflect well upon the person. And only imperial folks can act imperious.

    Ollie is a gentleman of the lowest breeding, and as such he is mostly very well behaved. He eschews airs and feelings of superiority, all for the guarantee of a comfy green couch, some good mates, and some fine food. What more could a canine ask for? Sounds good to me.

    Oh thanks very much. The terrace ended abruptly at the rock, and there is actually another large rock at more or less the same location on the terrace above it. At the time we were scratching our heads and wondering if either the rock could be moved, but turns out at least one of them can be. The large rock slightly higher up has unusually triangular shape.

    The editor takes most of the flower photos for the blog and I shall pass on your kind words.

    Sorry to read that one of your favourite authors died recently. He sounds like a very interesting person, and clearly he was a gifted story teller. As another point, the main street of that town looks just like you’d imagine a main street in your country should look like. They do lakes big up there.

    I feel much the same and now take pleasure in the smaller things in life.

    Check this out – a blast from the past: Historical hidden chalk mural found during renovations at Kew Primary School in Melbourne.



  18. @Lew and Chris
    You may have read last week that my youngest daughter and her fiance got a pandemic puppy sight unseen except for pic online. They already have three cats (used to have 4 but sadly lost one at the beginning of the lockdown). I question this decision as it’s yet another expense and they already are in hock up to their ears with new house. Time will tell.


  19. Yo, Chris – Peter Corlett’s sculptures are really nice. Expecially the stretcher bearer. But, I also liked Dame Nellie Melba. Did she invent Melba Toast? 🙂 . I see, according to your link, that Corlett is still alive and kicking.

    Roman chain mail turns up in digs, every once in awhile. Sometimes, just bits and pieces. There’s a Roman military museum, at Vindolanda. Which, by the way, has fallen on hard times, at present. They had quit a season planned. Kicking off new labs and digs. All on hold, now. And, no revenue coming in.

    Well, before the tower, perhaps you had better think about an olive press.

    Chocolate, coffee, bananas. And now, olive trees. What next?

    Of course you need a stone tower. In order to spot the barbarian hoards, coming over the horizon. So you have time to take appropriate action. Blow the bridges, pull up the drawbridge and send riders to rally your allies. :-).

    “Earth Abides” is a very good read. A classic. I don’t think it’s ever been out of print, since the 50’s.

    Can’t say I much care for oregano. I have some, but don’t grow it. To me, it’s reminiscent of old gym socks. But, there’s an Italian dressing recipe that calls for it, so, I keep it around. My go to spices are basil, turmeric, garlic and parsley. Then there’s all the spices for baking. Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, etc.. Funny you should mention ginger. I’ve got root I picked up, last trip out. Thought I’d cut a piece off, and give it a whirl in the garden.

    The Kew School story on the hidden murals was interesting. Wow. The stained glass windows, in that place. Kunstler has a pretty interesting post, this week, and he talks about “architectural grace notes.” Kew School, has them. The first couple of dozen comments, are also pretty good.

    I took a drive last night. First time I’d been out in over a week. All none public contact. Dropped off the electric bill, swung by the credit union to get a balance, and see if the pandemic check had come in (no joy) and got gas. Darn, I meant to pay attention to the price of gas, but what with juggling the hose and sani-wipes, I just didn’t think of it. Traffic on the Jackson highway was almost non existent. The Safeway lot was only half full. Unusual for 8pm on a Monday.

    163 nursing homes in Washington State have the virus. They’ve been locked down for over three weeks, so, they figure it must be coming in on asymptomatic staff. Testing is very spotty. Mostly, only people showing symptoms. Close the barn door after the horse has bolted. Over 9,000 dead in New York. I knew it was bad, there, but somehow, that statistic just blew me away. That’s about the population of Chehalis. Lew

  20. Chris,

    I’ve watched 2001 a few times. I watch it for the music and the scenes with Hal. Here’s a different rendition of Zarathustra…

    I was at a friend’s house back in 1980 first time I heard that. Don’t remember if it was that or this that he played first. He had concert quality speakers suspended from the ceiling of his small house (which is around the corner from where I now live, amazingly) and he had the volume cranked up. The speakers, ummm, were no longer hanging vertically, but at an angle. My ears hurt, but I had to get the album.

    Thank you. I fear that I’ve forgotten more math than I remember. But it’s nice to have some of it come back and be appreciated. My retired boss was very much a numpty on a good day, so whenever I’d had enough of his actin the right tumshie heid, I’d explain some quantum theory to him. Gave him a migraine every time. Twas my only weapon…he was, after all, the boss.

    The saltworks is cool. That’s quite the operation. Thanks. Salt was one of those things I stocked up back in January. I just had this feeling about it. It’s bizarre seeing what the hordes hoard on any trip to the store. There’s no rhyme nor reason to it.

    My raspberries were all volunteers from the neighbor’s yard. I let them spread how they would. I’ll be buying more, maybe transplanting some of the existing ones. I’ve seen them in rows much as you describe, and the roots were very well shaded. That’s the direction I want to move to.

    Spring and autumn here can be much like your winters. The weather is perfect for working. And overdoing.

    Your dogs have it good. Canine companions, good human companions, acres and acres to run in, a comfy sofa to sleep on. Doggy heaven, so it is.

    Thanks. From everything I’ve read and heard, that author was something else. And yes, the lakes in that part of the country are huge. The big four in the area are Flathead, Priest (north and a bit east of Sandpoint, Idaho), Pend Oreille, whose north end is at Sandpoint, and Coeur d’Alene, the north end of which is at the town of the same name about 45 miles east of here.

    Pat McManus, the outdoor writer, was from Sandpoint. He and a friend taught at the university I attended, and friend’s wife was in the big admin building. I vaguely knew her. Anyhow, dad and I took our tiny sailboat onto Lake Coeur d’Alene one afternoon and capsized it when a freak gust came over the ridge, announcing a thunderstorm. We were slowly swimming the boat to shore, across the bay from town, when a boat came by to “rescue” us. Man did they botch the job for a few minutes. When we finally got aboard, I recognized the author and his 2 friends immediately, and (correctly) figured the 4th was the author’s wife. His friends introduced themselves, author’s wife, and then, “This is Patrick McManus, the famous outdoor writer. I’m sure you’ve heard of him.” I quickly deadpanned, “Never heard of him.” The author about turned purple before I said that I’d read all of his books, and that it’s obvious that, from their “rescue” hijinks, the stories were barely embellished. He was purple no longer and cracked a big smile.

    That is one cool chalk mural! Or should I say Kewl? Thanks for that.


  21. Hi Lew,

    Love the roman dice tower! Considering the text, I wonder if it was a gift to a soldier?


  22. Hi Chris,

    It sounds like the electricity company men liked your neighbour as much as you do. Bless him for providing explicit instructions though! The funny thing is he no doubt sees himself as the victim in all this.

    Word on the street is that NZ might begin easing restrictions late next week, although I expect Auckland, as the biggest city, will stay on level 4 the longest. I must say the days are beginning to form a blur now…

    I did manage to finish the 900 page masterpiece, “The Mirror and the Light” on Monday. Cromwell was a fascinating character, and it has being noted the public perception of the previously hated man is now much more sympathetic, in part thanks to the 3 part book series written by Hilary Mantel. He was a crucial figure in the English Reformation. I thought to myself, in a way, this was a process that first begun when the Roman legions returned home over 1200 years earlier.


  23. Hi Margaret,

    A big stomp was put on purchasing dogs over the interweb down here. Time will tell indeed – we don’t really know. At a guess, I reckon being lean and mean in relation to finances right now might get a household through this time. It is hard to learn that lesson and there are people only slighter younger than I that have never known an economic downturn – or ill winds. What do you?

    It is bizarrely warm here tonight. The sun went down hours ago and it is still 64’F outside.



  24. Hi Lewis,

    He’s a talented bloke, and the detail in the sculptures was amazing. Once he remarked to me that he enjoyed the fact that the editor and I put our washing out in the front yard on old school washing horses to catch the afternoon sunlight. Ripped up the front garden back in those days and planted a vege patch too! Whatever will the local genteel folk think? Deep down he had a solid pragmatic streak, and the workshop was an amazing place.

    Well there you go. What a sad thing education is down here. Turns out that not only Melba toast was named after the operatic soprano, but also:
    – Peach Melba, a dessert made of peaches, raspberry sauce, and vanilla ice cream
    – Melba sauce, a sweet purée of raspberries and red currant
    – Melba toast, a crisp dry toast
    – Melba Garniture, chicken, truffles and mushrooms stuffed into tomatoes with velouté sauce.
    If I recall my history lessons in school, I don’t believe that the lady was mentioned at all. Her cottage in Coldstream is a beautiful building. Oh! It opened to visitors a few years back, and there is a recording of the artist to listen to: Melba’s house to open to public for first time.

    A lot of places are doing it hard right now. Vindolanda is one in a very long list. We are in such a strange time right now, but then that also makes for an interesting life.

    Hadn’t heard about the sap sucking insects spreading disease in Europe, but it is hardly surprising. Olive trees suffer from such pests as do citrus trees. It is more common than the article is letting on, and is indicative that the trees are reasonably heavy feeders. The soils in those areas have probably been played out. When I first began growing citrus and olive trees, the ants began farming aphids on the leaves of the trees. The ants look after the aphids and the aphids produce a sugary sap for the ants to consume. It is quite amazing really. The trees then succumb to this horrid looking sooty mold, and you have to wash the leaves off individually with soapy water – I kid you not, the whole tree, that is when you realise how many leaves are on a fruit tree. I just did a bit of the trees each day, and eventually the job was done, but then it wasn’t lost on me that the aphids and ants got a foothold in the first place because the trees were stressed, so I fed the soil epic amounts of compost. Never seen the ants try that trick again, but I tell ya, I have seen entire olive orchards covered in the black sooty mold. A very big cleaning job.

    Your previous warning over the banana’s alerted me to the inevitable and it was only a few weeks back that I encountered a banana with the fungus right through it. Yeah, not good – and inedible.

    Got a few strategies to work through first on the barbarian front. It is probably important to be useful in these times and pick your allies carefully. Hey, I tracked down another bulk supplier of organic rolled oats and have a shipment on its way. Dunno what happened with my regular supplier, it is all a bit odd. And ordered some more spelt flour. The stuff tastes really good, much better than bread wheat. Maybe some seeds are in order?

    Earth Abides is a great read, not sure why I missed it beforehand, and it is very hard to put down. Had a longer lunch today and just lingered over the book. I can’t be civilised and read at cafes anymore so, one must adapt. The guberament wants us to take up a phone thingee thing that can track all of our movements every 15 minutes of the day (for our benefit of course). Yeah, not a fan. And what could possibly go wrong?

    Fresh oregano is quite tasty, being of the mint family it is quite spicy. It is very heavily used in Italian cooking – and rightly so. There was a bit of a kerfuffle a few years back in Europe as nefarious folks were drying olive leaves and substituting them for dried oregano – probably what you have tasted. Talk down here is that the cheeky scamps also sell low grade olive oil as extra virgin cold pressed stuff. Apparently the numbers don’t stack up trees / oil output. I stick to locally produced olive oil, and it is good.

    I’ll be really interested to hear how your ginger experiment goes.

    Yes, the comments were very good, and I really enjoyed the blog essay. It is weird that such infrastructure can be so laboriously constructed and then just walked away from. Doesn’t make much sense to me, but entropy is such you have to run hard just to stay in the same spot, like one of those rats in the circular treadmills. I felt that way about study.

    The school building is very beautiful and functional. I have a very soft spot for Victorian era architecture, as well the Arts and Crafts movement, and that building was straddling the two worlds.

    Petrol prices have dropped here, and they were around $1.15/litre (3.8 litres to a gallon). The dirt mouse Suzuki uses so little fuel and has such a small tank that I barely notice the price these days. Mind you, I haven’t been driving much lately, for obvious reasons. And when I head out, like you it is the fifty stop run!

    Yeah, well I sort of reckon that if this keeps on going for a few more months we’ll get to a point where the supermarket shelves will be full, and people won’t have the cash to purchase the stuff. There is a narrative of blame for this mess which is developing in your country and also here – slowly but surely it builds. Anyway the food thing was just a wild guess, but anecdotally people are getting grumpy and control is slipping. The polleece have been fining people for stupid reasons and it is not a good look. Beware the pedant. Someone went to jail for breaking quarantine, I guess an example had to be made, and he obviously made it easy.

    Down here a person working at an institution went to work with symptoms and has inadvertently caused a bit of mayhem.

    New York City has population that is almost one third of the population on this entire continent. You might have to correct my math, but in a population of say 8.5m people, and a death rate of about 545 per 100,000 people in 2017 that works out to be 46,325 people dying annually. Have we surpassed that number yet? I don’t doubt the virus is a nasty customer, it just doesn’t sound as nasty as the 1919 Spanish Flu for example which killed 50m people – more than WWI.

    Well 10,000 sudden deaths here in the wider area I’m in would probably halve the population. It wouldn’t be good.



  25. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the music – very funky. Get funked up bro! 🙂 Liked the horn section particularly.

    Hehe! Yeah, let’s rock the house. I loved that story, so much ear damage, so much enjoyment. Is it wrong? Maybe…

    Your magic is strong because this mentioning of quantum theory is now making my head ache. Be warned, I may retaliate with Accounting Theory. Take that, the dread pirates of the wide account-at-seas may take us some prisoners here. But then, there would be the quantum theory circular retaliation. Whatever, at least we’re not numpties.

    It is not easy to hoard items here because you’re limited to two items, regardless. And because you have a card, I guess it is being tracked, and yup salt is very useful and is one of those products that is very hard to obtain. I was once going to go on a trip to a far distant salt lake with some mates and recover a good quantity of salt. And yeah, the toilet paper business was strange.

    Good for you, it is easier to harvest, feed and take out the dead canes if they are in a row.

    The over working is a problem and as you note the in-between seasons are the worst. I want to get into the forestry work soon, maybe in another week or two. The fires in January which are a distant memory to most, are still fresh in my mind. We got lucky.

    The lakes were epic, like I’m not talking inland sea sized epic, but far out they are huge. We have nothing like that down here.

    Well done you, and Pat would have secretly loved it, although maybe not at first. You are very cheeky. 🙂 Out of curiosity, how did you get the capsized boat back to shore?



  26. Hi Damo,

    Yeah, maybe you’re right, I’d never thought about it that way, but yeah. You know he looked all innocent and unawares later in the day. Some people miss out on understanding how their behaviour and words affect other people. I can understand that, but far out he probably should have reconsidered the accusation part – it was poorly thought through.

    You guys seem to be better at many things than us over here. I see that your Prime Minister has set an extraordinary example today. Most impressed, as actions speak louder than words.

    Ah, you’ve mentioned the Wolf Hall trilogy before, and your words sound like a glowing review. Reading about the trilogy is a bit of a goose bump session. Intriguing. Hey, I began Earth Abides by George R Stewart the other day. An excellent read, and have only just finished Mr Kunster’s latest book: Living the Long Emergency. It was a bit eerie reading the book during these strange times.

    Talk in the press today is of some sort of phone tracking app. For our benefit of course. My phone is shut down to the most basic essentials. It still occasionally bum-dials though….



  27. Yo, Chris – Whoa! $125 dollars a pop, for the tour? That will keep the riff rafe out. 🙂 . I see they also do garden tours, and, I’d guess, those cost less. The interior (what we see of it) is interesting. All that brick a brack. But, each individual item, precious.

    Well, even back in the day, when oregano was less fiddled with … and, I always bought a good brand, it still tasted like old gym socks. 🙂 .

    Well, the whole virus thing gets more and more interesting, in more unexpected ways. A lot of our big meat packers are predicting meat shortages, as they’ve got so many people out sick, they can’t keep up and running. Glad we’re rural, here. Our local meat market is pretty good a sourcing local meat. I keep thinking about those “House” series, that were on PBS. Usually, somewhere along the way, someone would become completely unglued and go off the deep end, over some small thing. I think it was in “1910 House” that the mother discovered shampoo wasn’t invented until 1927. Complete melt down.

    Yup. Let’s find someone to blame. Take names and roll heads. The newest meme making the rounds, over here, is that the social distancing and closing down of church services is all part of the governments “War on Christianity.” I say, let them have their services. Pack those pews tight!

    I remember an old Disney nature film, about those ants and the aphids. Yup. Pretty impressive, as I can remember it, after all these years. Your lucky. I did bit of reading on olive oil, and Australia has the best regulation. California, is the next best. I always have my eye out for California olive oil, but, even when it shows up in the cheap food stores, it’s still pretty expensive.

    Here’s something you might find interesting …

    I’m impressed. The techniques to work that stuff are pretty large scale and complicated. In the prequel to the Camulod series, Varus works half a day for his smith uncle-in-law, and half a day in the smithies of the local Roman fort. His uncle-in-law has an interesting curious rock, and so does the head smith at the fort.

    I’m getting Idaho fever, again. Wonder if there’s a vaccine, for that? Lew

  28. Hello again
    The artist Banksy had decorated his bathroom while in lockdown; his wife is not thrilled. He has decorated his bathroom with rats. It does look amazing. I picked it up from Mail online but it is supposed to be on Instagram.


  29. Hi Lewis,

    Such outings are a bit rich for my tastes, and in these cash strapped days, well let’s just say that it’s not an option. After Dame Elizabeth died a few years back, coincidentally the Open Garden program which was her (I guess passion but not really sure and am just guessing) appears to have fallen on hard times. There are still open gardens to be seen, but it is nothing like what it was, and the costs have risen. As a general observation, nowadays the scheme appears to favour wealthy gardens and the costs are (from my perspective) prohibitive. The wealthy have not gotten the memo that Noblesse oblige is a real thing, and with power comes responsibility.

    The current circumstances quite fascinate me, as we are returning to a less self absorbed time when values count for something. Going through the recession in the early 90’s as both the editor and I did – and getting chucked under the bus in the process – actually did us an unexpected favour. You kind of get to feel what hardship means and it breeds an appreciation for possibilities that always lurk beneath the surface and just out of plain sight.

    There is a certain belief that is held in the wider community, that it all doesn’t matter, and things will go onwards and upwards for ever and ever (amen!). But yeah, nah, it is not the case, and circumstances can reverse without notice and without warning, and so here we all are today. If a person has only known times that go up and up, and there is more food on the table, how do they deal with the pitfalls of today? Not really sure.

    Anyway, Dame Melba’s house in Coldstream (a beautiful part of the country in the Yarra Valley – God’s own country that place) does look pretty awesome in the photos. From what I gather it is owned by a very wealthy and titled family.

    I defer to the analysis of your senses, but can’t say that I experience the same taste and odour from oregano. We may be growing different varieties? The shadow of Italian gardening and cooking looms large over the landscape of Melbourne, if only because of the influx of immigrants after WWII and the similarities of climate. It is possible that – shock, horror – I have acclimated to the taste of oregano. Mind you, blue cheese is a taste that I have not worked at. I’m sure it is tasty, but something scares me off, and there was that time… We can call that time by its proper nomenclature: The incident. Yes, that is what we shall call it. 😉

    The virus story gets more interesting with each and every passing day. Down here, folks are getting fined via way of social media photos – with them getting outed for breaching the rules. The fines are hefty. Hey, it may be that your meat packer folks are drumming up business? I saw firsthand that the cities only have three days food, but then I’ve had the good fortune of watching a bank run back in the day whilst being oblivious to the goings on. Went to the supermarket this morning and it was quiet, almost back to normal. However the editor and I were some of the youngest folks in the store (apart from the cashiers). Long term, we may end up with stocked shelves in the supermarket, but nobody has the cash to buy the produce. Toilet paper was limited to one package, and since all of this has begun I haven’t bought any of the stuff as we just don’t use that much in the first place.

    Some folks down here seem to though, and I spotted an article on recently discovered fatberg! Those things fascinate me as it makes me curious about what people are chucking into the sewerage system: Petrol tanker-sized, 42-tonne ‘fatberg’ found in Melbourne sewer.

    When people visit, sometimes we cook meat products and it always amazes me just how fatty they are. That isn’t always obvious in the cooking process, it is the cleaning process that highlights it.

    May have sorted out the oats and spelt situation. We were also discussing the possibilities of growing spelt, earlier today. Getting seed might be interesting.

    I’m with you, if the church services can’t follow common sense, then they deserve what they get. They’ll probably be fine, but the more vulnerable in their community might not fare so well. Depending on how legal wills are penned, this might be a windfall for the religious organisations? Is it a deliberate strategy? Who knows?

    If I recall correctly, it was the local producers who made the observation about the Europeans. The local olive oil is beyond good and the trees grow really well down here (as you may have seen in the photos). I’ve heard that reputation about Californian olive oil, and the trees would grow well there too, for much the same reasons.

    Far out! Skystones are real!!!!!!!! Yes, the nickel content produces an alloy that is closer to stainless steel. Who’d have thought it?

    I have to purchase Mr Whyte’s book, you know this to be true! 🙂 Today the coffers took a big hit, as that is what it took to snake through this time. I wish it were not so, but then it is. Recovery will come soon, but not yet.

    Idaho sounds pretty nice all things considered. The warmer and drier summers would work wonders on you. Although I am wondering what the reduced industrial pollution in the atmosphere will do on your climate. It might be OK, but who really knows? It can be a bit of a problem down here during summers and winters as clear skies lack for rainfall.

    Those lost apple guys are amazing! I’d enjoy having a beer with them. It is kind of nice that they are obtaining an appreciation of how difficult life could have been for those early settlers.

    Watched: My Dinner with Harve the other night at your recommendation. Really enjoyed the film, and Peter Dinklage is a superb actor.



  30. Hi Inge,

    Thank you so very much! Banksy is a very cool artist, and the pictures of the bathroom and the very naughty, but highly intelligent rodents, brought a massive smile to my face. Did you notice the by-line about: My wife hates it when I work from home? Had to laugh again upon reading that.

    The BBC had an article on the topic: Coronavirus: Banksy makes ‘bathroom’ lockdown art.

    Another beautiful autumn day here today. The sun was shining and it had the slightest of bite. Definitely not toothy like high summer, but just nice. May have spotted the third wheat seedling this morning. The editor says that I worry too much about direct sown plants, but still…

    How is the weather faring in your fine land?



  31. Hello again
    Weather here is fine, very dry and cold at night.
    I like oregano. I also really love blue cheese but Son doesn’t like it at all. Can only assume that people have genetically different taste buds. Well of course they do but perhaps it particularly applies to something in these foods.


  32. Chris:

    I can think of certain gossip around here that just goes on and on. There is one neighbor who delights in spreading rumors. And some people do not have forgiving characters and relish holding grudges; one avoids them.

    The thank you note to the chopped mulch guys was very thoughtful.

    The bridge quote is a keeper: “The only bad thing about burning your bridges behind you is that the world is round!”

    What an incredible super moon shot. I didn’t see it then; I have now.

    Last Sunday, into Monday, we had 7 in. of rain in a 12 hour period. High winds every day also seems the norm here now.

    The soil around that big rock looks marvelous. The 2 rocks as support looks good, too. And also the patches on your overalls.

    It’s hard to imagine your autumn without leaf change tourists.

    How nice that the wheat seedlings have come up. I have word out to a couple of the neighbors that they can have some of the extra tomato and pepper plants that we started.


  33. @ Inge:

    You are too much. And thank you for the one nostril information.

    Our landline phone was out for half the day yesterday, and also the power. Better than 8 days!

    Thanks for Banksy!


  34. @ Lew:

    It sounds to me like Eleanor is doing everything she can. If the weather would get nicer, would some fresh air and sun help her?


  35. @ DJSpo:

    I am glad that you have learned about noses, too. I find, like you, that even a few minutes outside every day, in any weather, helps ground me.


  36. Hi Inge,

    Hmm, sure sounds like dry weather, fortunately your ground water couldn’t be more replenished after the very wet winter. Are you having to water the plants? I don’t really need to water now, but all of the raspberry plants which were recently moved are enjoying about 20 minutes of drip irrigation most days. I’m reading accounts from your part of the world that people have suddenly become very interested in vegetable gardening. About time. Few people seem interested in the subject down here, but time will sort that out.

    I like oregano too, and it grows here very easily. Yeah, you’re probably right about the different perception of ‘taste’ between people, and hadn’t thought of it that way before. Thanks. I’ve heard the same observation made about the sense of ‘smell’ too. It is hard to compare different peoples perceptions of the world, and I guess it is one of those things that we’ll never really know.



  37. Hi Pam,

    Memories can be long in rural areas, so people are best not dealt to in an unfair or outrageous manner. Do you ever get people moving into your area, and then they soon head off to different places? That is a recurring theme in this area, and it is always the winter that takes them out, although recently people have been also fearing the summers.

    Bought an interesting book a few minutes ago: Fire Country by Victor Steffensen, which according to the blurb is: a book about Indigenous land management practices, and also a powerful account of First Nation people’s connection with country. Should be very interesting and books are a great way of handing on knowledge.

    Did you know that I spotted the thank you note in the cabin of their truck? It is the little things in life, the little acts of giving, and certainly not the demands or the unrealistic expectations.

    Oh yeah, the bridge quote is a reminder that things can sometime come back to bite you. Ouch. 🙂

    How did your place hold up after 7″ of rain? In metric that is 178mm, which is another way of saying: utterly bonkers. Such rainfall stresses me out as it is very destructive. I assume that there was localised flooding? You’re on the higher ground aren’t you? Hope so. There is a road in the next state to the north of this one which got washed away after the recent fires, and the land owners have been given a blunt assessment of the situation: The road is closed for the foreseeable future.

    I was pretty amazed by the soil there too, but at the same time I try not to indulge my passion for getting the soil alive again and then talking about it at length. But the soil was really good there. 🙂

    Hehe! Just call me patch. 🙂 Sewing is a real skill.

    No, not at all, it is really pleasant without all of the leaf change tourists. I like sharing, but not to that extent. Last year was feral for two months… The sheer volume of people detracts from the experience.

    Very wise and also very thoughtful of you to do so. Seeds and seedlings are in short supply right now. And it is good insurance to have other people growing your seed stock. It dismays me that so few people around here grow vegetable / kitchen gardens. They’ll get there, but the sooner they start…



  38. @ Pam – Eleanor loves to get out in the sun. And, our weather is finally cooperating. She has to build a bit of strength since, her fall, but she’s working on it.

    Last night when I brought the dog back, from her walk, usually Eleanor is waiting for a chat. She wasn’t, and I was a bit concerned. I stepped into her kitchen, just to check things out. I knew she was alright, as I could hear her snoring 🙂 . Very lady like snores. Lew

  39. Yo, Chris – Let’s hope some of the less absorbed times, stick. At least some of it. What’s that old saying? It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow at least some good? Maybe some of the better changes will remain. Of course, a lot of the Power That Be, want things to return to exactly the way they were.

    Well, I’ve certainly been through some hard times. But, all things considered, I was pretty well stocked up when all this started. Due to those hard times. Oh, I’m out of a few minor things, but nothing worth going out for.

    Apparently, Dame Melba’s family married up. 🙂 . Some titles among her descendants.

    I agree with Inge. Some of our taste and smell preferences have to do with genes. As you know, I’ve read a lot about food, and there’s often bits about taste and smell. But, some of it is early exposure. Nature or nurture? 🙂 .

    Here’s an interesting article on the yeast shortage, from our leading yeast producer. Part of the problem is packaging. Ours comes in either little foil packets, or, small brown jars. Turns out the jars come from India! And, they’re not sure about supply.

    I picked up some small bags of oatmeal with other grains, at one of the cheap food stores. I’ve been mixing it in with the regular stuff. There’s spelt in it. Little nuggets that are a bit on the hard side. Have to be careful which side of my mouth I chew it on 🙂 .

    Olive oil here has little codes on it, that tell you where it’s from. You need a magnifying glass to read them. Just grabbing a bottle out of the cupboard, I see it’s a mix of oils from Spain, Tunisia and Argentina. I’d rather not use it, but, it’s what’s available at a price I can afford. Unless I get lucky.

    The article about the fatberg was horrendous. You’ve linked to those, several times. They just fascinate you, don’t they? 🙂
    I never take the elevator, but hear there’s a notice about what not to put down the toilet. I don’t know if that’s a preemptive strike, or, if there was a problem. No plumber for my leaky tub, so, I don’t know what they’ll do if they had a major problem.

    Sometimes, I am so clueless. Looking at pictures of Council Idaho, it’s clear people don’t water much. So, I presume water might be expensive. So, I’ve been puzzling over rain water catchment tanks. Fretting about what to do in the winter when it gets so cold. Duh! Empty the tanks in the fall and catch rainwater in the spring. By the way, Wikipedia has a page on Council, Idaho, with all the average weather stats.
    Precipitation, 24+ inches a year. Snow? 47+ inches a year.

    Hmmm. I thought of it this way. This lockdown is practice for when I’m snowed in.

    The Banksy bathroom is a hoot. Tip of the hat to Inge for tipping us off, to it. I like it, but don’t think I’d want to live with it.

    Magic Food Boxes come, tomorrow. Ought to be interesting what is, or isn’t in them. I baked pumpkin muffins this morning. Before it gets too warm. Supposed to be 70+F, today.
    Added cranberries, sunflower and pumpkin seeds. 1/3 cup of some kind of 5 grain cereal. I am just about out of all purpose flour, so, I used the artisanal flour. I have plenty of that. And wheat and a bit of rye. It will be interesting to see if there’s much of a difference. Haven’t tried them yet. They seemed a bit softer, coming out of the pan.

    You might take a look at the link I left for Damo. Read a book a few years ago, on the Romans as tourists. They did like to travel around a bit, and look at things. Even the one’s that were not so well off. I’ve got a good story, about that, I’ll hve to look into it, so, it will have to wait until tomorrow. Lew

  40. Alco44
    Hi Chris
    The membership of the General Store community will recognize you as the one on the right side of the tree waste issue. The bad neighbor probably has some history with similar issues involving others. His disrespect of the power line clearance workers craft was his initial social breech. His accusations and break off of you Was the top off . I don’t think you should dwell on any social losses from this😁. The importance of behavior in small community is of real concern.
    Wow lots of great comments already. I enjoyed the several links this weeks.

    Your rock moving activities seem to be the norm. Congratulations on the recently discovered down hill rock cache.
    Here is an idea that may ease the effort in both the rock work and the handling of the downed tree parts. You have the metal work skills and tools to copy this general design and to customize for your needs. Link: GRASSHOPPERSUMNER.COM and another : . The basic design has been used in general construction for a very long time. The use for rocks may be a home made rock harness or attachment of lifting fixtures by proper wedge anchor bolts in drilled holes.( If you drill the holes slightly longer than bolts the bolts can be set below the surface of the rock after the lifting eye is removed.)🤨

    In tree work: long heavy trunk sections can be balanced under the length for movement. The tongue may be attached to a vehicle for off-road hauling or moved manually. Material and dimensions are as required by builder. just a thought.
    The grasshopper model has a cost of $300.00us plus lots of shipping to au unless they sell there.☹️

    Cheers Al

  41. Alco44
    Material carts

    Also cost is $1000 not $300 My bad
    Old guy problem😁

  42. @ Lew – I empty the 55 gallon drums and the 500 gallon tank I collect rainwater in around the beginning of November, when we start to get lows cold enough to freeze the water. Then I leave the faucets open so any rain or melting snow that gets in will drain out. Except, with the 55 gallon drums, quite often the faucets plug up with algae and water collects in them and freezes anyway. So far no damage to the drums, and the least amount of time any of them has been set up is 18 years. Two of them have been in place for 25 years or longer.

    When the faucets plug up, I have a short length of hose with two male ends that I can connect to the municipal water system on one end and to the barrel faucet on the other. Running municipal pressurized water through the faucet always cleans out the clog. Sometime in March, when nights begin to warm up over freezing most of the time, I close the faucets and start to collect water again.

    If you do go to Idaho and set up a rainwater collection system, check my blog for the post on what Mike and I have done. I can put a link in here if you want.

    @ Chris – more tomorrow, when we are supposed to get a cold rain. I’ve been busy!


  43. @ Lew,

    I may have found a vaccine for your Idaho Fever: Council, ID averages higher temperatures than Spokane in the summer and colder temperatures than Spokane in the winter. About 24″ annual rainfall, and about 47″ annual snowfall. All of the rain appears to fall in November through March; with no rain and hot temperatures for 7 plus months, I wouldn’t water anything but trees and vegetables myself. Data from here:,_Idaho


  44. Chris,

    But rocking the house was so fun. Alas, sometimes my ears may still be in a funk. 😉 (There was no damage to the ears. He turned the volume down after making his point about his glorious sound system.)

    Accounting Theory? No no no, it might make me foam at the mouth! Seriously, I’ve done enough accounting things that I *might* make some sense out of it. Now GAAP makes my head spin…

    Walmart is limiting how many high demand items can be purchased at once. Other stores, such as Safeway, are dependent on each individual store’s manager regarding how much of any item one can buy. This makes little sense to me.

    The down side of such large lakes that are fed by mostly melted snow is that they are deep and never get warmer than “luke cold” as opposed to lukewarm. The smaller and shallower lakes can be very comfortable by the middle of July.

    Oh, the capsized boat is called a Folbot, an open cockpit kayak. They made a lash up so that it could turn into a sailboat. Unfortunately, it had leeboards and no keel, so they were tippy in more than a moderate breeze.
    That link shows several different Folbots, some with the sail. Ours was 17 feet long and maybe 3 feet wide, or a bit less. Think long and narrow with a flat bottom. Seriously, we could paddle that thing in about 7cm of water without running aground.

    Pat and friend threw me a rope, which eventually got tied to the Folbot. Then they proceeded to tow it to the nearest shore, which was across the bay from town. We got it onto a private dock, the access road for which was a 5 mile dirt track before accessing the highway about 10 miles from Coeur d’Alene. We retrieved it the next day. I never figured out why they didn’t tow it to town and the public docks and our car…

    I said the rope eventually got tied to the Folbot. When they first stopped, I sorta kinda recognized Pat McManus, but wasn’t 100% sure. Then they tossed me a rope. As soon as I grabbed it, they put their boat in reverse and gunned the engine. For about 2 seconds I was body surfing on the lake on my face: I promptly let go of the rope, at which point they both laughed and said, “Heh heh heh! I guess that won’t work so good!” (Horrid grammar from 2 English professors!) At that point I was convinced that it was Pat McManus and his sidekick from his books, “Retch Sweeney”, and that they either were hoping to pull me around for awhile for a story in the next book, or they really were a coupla numpties. So when I recognized them when we got on their boat, I pretty much knew who they were already.

    Was I cheeky with them? Of course. But I’ve been called a cheeky bam for years. 🙂

    Hooray for Banksy!


  45. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, so true and my current thinking is likewise running along your lines. People can wish for things to return, and some things will, but not all. I’m sort of thinking now that as a society we blew it by taking things too far – and this is the consequences of that. However, the next period of relative stability will give people a chance to get their act together. The scars left on me and the editor from the disaster of the early 90’s has left us with a solid streak of old school conservatism and values. So far, it has served us well. Other people might profit from that experience, and if they can’t change their ways, well there are future times like these to ensure that it will happen. You can’t fight resource and energy limits.

    Actually, right now reminds me of the days when I was working debt collection from about 1992 onwards. Back in those days the accounting system I interacted with was on paper. The sheer waste of paper troubled me even back then, and paper waste has only got worse since those days. So, every month the computer would spit out a huge box load of reports which I had to hand around the business. There was a lot of paper used in the process. Anyway, after while I worked out that nobody cared what I did as long as the money continued to roll on in (which I kept on top of). At that point I was confident of my invisibility and so one month I decided not to distribute the huge volume of paper reports and just waited to see who complained. Turns out very few of the reports were actually necessary for the functioning of the big corporate. So ever so quietly I kept the reports to the bare necessities, and nobody complained. It was mildly unsettling to see the waste first hand, but there it was. What we are going through as a civilisation reminds me of nothing other than that time. Are all the annual overseas trips necessary? Probably not. Turns out the interstate travel is not so necessary either. What about all of the regular nighttime dinners out? Nope. From my perspective it looks very much like the powers that be are coping with something seriously broken in the background, and so all manner of activity has been switched off, and then the dice falls where it will. Of course the virus is pretty nasty, but then so are a whole bunch of other viruses that are also in circulation. The only way to save ourselves is to get smaller and more local. All things considered, it is not a bad choice.

    Lewis, you’re cool and you know it! 😉 Like you, I too have been prepared and am now only filling in little unthought of things. I had a much quieter day today, although I did not stop for one moment. Anyway one of the tasks on my things to consider list got resolved. I climbed into the attic space and checked out the two hot water pumps that are unfortunately crucial for the solar hot water and the hydronic heating panels. The infrastructure here is super simple as that is resilient, but those two hot water pumps have been something of a worry for me. Anyway, turns out I should have been worried because they are really cheap and crappy pumps and so I managed to nab a couple of very high quality replacements which are on their way here. However nothing is ever simple and I discovered that the cheaper pumps that are working have unusually sized fittings, so I’ll have to ensure that the replacements can be swapped in and out easily (when they turn up).

    Had to laugh about your ‘marrying up’ comment as it reminded me of a joke I once overheard about B. Joel’s kid. The rather unpleasant person said that possibly the kid might sing like the mother and look like the father. Super naughty!

    That is true too, and mate I grew up on a diet of lamb chops and three boiled vegetables. Greek food was considered exotic and an Indian curry would cook your very taste buds. Our education is lacking on many fronts. 😉 Bet your early diet did not fare much better?

    Fears of yeast shortages are bupkis. The stuff is everywhere, and if I put a collection tray out in the kitchen then I don’t doubt that I’d collect champagne yeast (yes, that one from France) and bakers yeast would be a dead cert. The kitchen would be contaminated to an extreme point. Once we accidentally made a mistake and put bakers yeast into a brew instead of champagne yeast – and there was no difference. Yup, contaminated is the word that you heard. Sensitive folks with access to an orchard, would nab some of that champagne yeast and spread it through the orchard. Such things are not hard. What I’m worrying about on that front is the sake culture as it is a mix of bacteria and fungi and our most recent attempt at reproduction failed. Fortunately I have access to a great weighty tome from the author Sandor Katz and I have poured over the mysteries in there and pondered. At one point a while back plans were made to meet the bloke by way of my mates of the big shed fame. It never worked out, but far out I would have enjoyed that day.

    One uses what one has access to. I have to fess up and when the supermarket shelves were being stripped I nabbed a tin of that olive oil with which you are familiar with. It’s actually OK stuff.

    You may jest, but Fat Bergs do fascinate me. When I was a kid nobody let such animal fats go to waste in cooking. The fats were collected in a mug and stored in the refrigerator. Then they were used to deep fry potatoes and the chips produced by that process were the best tasting ever. So good. And in these enlightened times people waste the animal fats, and some poor souls have to extricate them from a sewer by hand. Yeah, not good and such a waste of energy. Refer to first paragraph – or maybe the second paragraph. 😉

    Yeah, well I’ve seen worse than those high temperatures at Council Idaho. 109’F as a record high. Pah. It is but a piffle. It is not lost on me that as long as you have access to water, such high temperatures can be brushed off. And you adapt. Every year I encounter worse than that.

    Go Banksy! He’s super cool. And has travelled in the big smoke down here. I recall the horror and outrage when a plumber put a hole through one of his works of art. I can’t speak for the bloke but I reckon he wouldn’t have been that upset by the ephemeral nature of art.

    Our weather is pretty similar right now – says he as he hands over the baton to your good self. 😉 Did you discover anything in the magic food box? Sounds like a magic pudding to my ears.



  46. Chris:

    We have three concrete compost bins in the garden. We also have a raccoon who shall hereafter be called “W. C.” Those compost bins have lids made of wood and chicken wire, with hinges and latches that lock. I leave the lids open for the wildlife in winter so that they can eat out of the bins. I make very little compost in winter . . .

    Just recently I decided to keep one of the bins closed and latched so that I could begin making more compost. I left out a bit of food in the two open bins. Friday I discovered a plastic container of cut-up fresh pineapple that we had forgotten about in the fridge for a week. It was still pretty fresh, but it was now pineapple rum. No-one here drinks, so off it went into the locked compost bin.

    Well, apparently ol’ W. C. likes to lap the sauce, as he moved a concrete block that was set over a small hole in the base of the bin and dug a hole big enough to reach his arm through and haul out the pineapple pieces. He also squashed my sweet peas next to the bin.

    I hope he had a hangover.


  47. Hi Al,

    I can only hope so. Do you get recognised as a local in your part of the world? Your guess is actually close to how things are for that bloke, but the very time I met him years ago, he disparaged me to my face and things have never really been good – but I’m reasonably tolerant although he took things too far this time. Some problems have to be nipped in the bud – and if escalation comes into play, well, let’s just say that it is a problem.

    When you live on a slope, rocks are precious resources! 😉 They slow the movement of soil back down the mountain, and that is a good thing.

    Al, that is a superb hand powered machine. Beyond good. Who’d have thunk it? And many thanks for mentioning the machine as I’d never considered such a design, but yeah. It makes sense from hindsight.

    It is an astounding thought. Thanks!



  48. Hi Lewis (cont),

    The Heroes journey was outstanding! 🙂

    I sent an email to a mate the other day and it was titled: Repeat after me – Buy toilet paper. Not sure he got the joke, but I found it to be funny. 😉



  49. Hi DJ,

    Didn’t mention it, but the Peter Gunn theme is a fave of mine from way back in the day, and of course they funked it right up! Get funky!

    As a kid I had a wicked loud stereo reminiscent of your mates beast of a system. Working for Tandy / Radio Shack as a kid, I used to scour through their discontinued items list every month and then avail myself of the bargains. And some of the discontinued items were indeed bonkers high quality. The amplifier I ended up with was bonkers loud and it had a nifty cool fluorescent display. No, el-cheapo LED’s in those days. Yup, rock da street!!! Not sure the neighbours appreciated my taste in music, but these things are subjective judgements. And I do recall that my older sisters played the Midnight Oil (an Australian band, you may have heard of them? No?) massive album so much that I went from hating their works, to sort of getting into them. Marketing works you know! 😉

    GAAP makes everyone’s head spin, but it underlies the core of the body of work. Hey, it makes more sense that what the economists begin with which is: Let’s assume that people are rational and make rational decisions. Hashtag, just sayin! Hehe!

    If here is any guide, people will travel from one area to another to test the supermarket product availabilities (not sure that is a grammatically correct word). We ended up with bouncers on the entrance and exits to the local supermarket. Things have settled down now, and perhaps people have run out of mad cash?

    Brr! Hey, the lakes here are not warm even in the hottest of summers. A couple of decades ago I used to swim in Lake Daylesford . Maybe I’m soft, but I still used a wet suit – that body of water is cold as. It is not far from my mates big shed place.

    The folbot is an interesting beast and apparently has kayak tendencies. Unfortunately it is not made for rough conditions – unless a person seeks excitement? Mind you the Polynesian’s historically undertook vast ocean journeys in larger vessels, but they were not that much larger.

    Pat certainly sounds as if he has a dry sense of humour and a cheeky streak a mile wide (just like someone else we know!) I’m sure he would have had his reasons for dropping you there, and it is possible that he let you into his world for a bit by dropping you there. You never know?

    The Banksy bathroom work is beyond good, it’s the whole next level! 🙂



  50. Hello again
    You are correct, I did miss the seriously wonderful humour implicit in Banksy’s wife’s comment.
    It has been pouring with rain here, though drying up now. Maddening that this always happens just after I have watered everything. A friend just said ‘There is a weather forecast you know.’. Regrettably it tends to be inaccurate for the Island.
    My phone is playing up again, loud crackling. Spent time hanging on to get through to them. They will investigate it on Tuesday.


  51. Hi Chris,
    Got 2 inches of snow early this morning but it’s now melted.

    Doug bottled the elderberry mead yesterday and at less than 4 months old (we had to sample it) it was really good.

    The residence where Marty’s girlfriend, Gwen, lived until January 2019 has had six deaths and half of the residents and staff have tested positive with quite a few hospitalized. We are so glad Gwen was able to move to a small group home. Our youngest daughter did an internship there and knows most who have died. The residence has just under 100 residents.

    An interesting development – both my daughters have taken up cooking in a big way though our youngest does like to cook. Our oldest daughter was not fond of cooking at all but all of a sudden is really being creative with the food she has. It all stems from having the extra time. She’s someone, as a home school mom who is always chasing around and complaining how busy she is. It’ll be interesting to see if/how people make changes in their lives.

    I’ve read “Earth Abides” three times. When you’re done I’ve got a question I’d like to ask you and others who have read the book but don’t want to be a spoiler.


  52. @ Claire – Thanks for the water tank tips! I’ve been following Chris’s ups and downs with his tanks. I was just gob smacked that I didn’t think to just empty the tanks in the fall, fill in the spring. My mind was running from insulated blankets to internal heaters. 🙂 . Burying them. Sometimes (to my adapated mind) simple just doesn’t seem obvious. Lew

  53. @ DJ – Yup. I saw the entry at Wikipedia. But we’re tough, right? Pioneers! But I appreciate the comparison with Spokane. It’s worse in Council! Lew

  54. Yo, Chris – First round of food boxes, delivered. Round two, this afternoon. Do you know a lot of people in this building are deaf? 🙂 . One lady tried to tip me, and another asked if I lived here.

    Well, the food boxes were the typical mix of ghastly, and wonderful. The biggest surprise? A bar of soap. Irish Spring, no less. Never saw that before. The good Rev managed to score a big box of bags of flour. Not a bad brand, but no Bob’s Red Mill (am I a flour snob?). I passed on that, as I have 4 bags, plus. There was a couple of boxes of bread and English muffins. Mixed quality. I just kept one bag of the muffins. Snagged two loaves of pretty good bread, and passed them on to Eleanor. Lots of junk biscuits and “healthy” bars. Turning those back. Ditto the big box of “toaster pop tarts.” Some pasta, a frozen pound of lean ground beef and a pack of frozen turkey sausage. A jar of peanut butter. Eggs. Lots of canned stuff. Pears, corn, green beans, ravioli, baked beans, tomatoes. A box of Girl Scout biscuits. Tuna fish, garbanzo beans and a big squeeze bottle of ketchup. Soup. What they lack in quantity, they make up in variety. The afternoon box usually has a bag of “fresh” veg and fruit. I’m hoping for bananas.

    Well, we’ll see what happens in the next “period of relative stability.” Mr. Greer is right, stair steps down, not falling off a cliff. A lot of people didn’t come back from 2008, and a lot won’t bounce back from this.

    Oh, yeah. Computers were going to save forests and yield paperless offices. I keep waiting for them to start beating the drums that the privatization of the post office will lead to cheaper prices and more efficiency. Why do people keep falling for that old bait and switch? Hope springs eternal?

    I spent a couple of hours on the computer, last night, trying to shake my pandemic check, out of the system. Infernal Revenue Service and Social Security. The revenue service kept trying to tell me I was entering my wrong birthdate, and, finally locked me out of the system, for 24 hours. We’ll give it another go, tonight.

    When I’m king, everything will have standard fittings. And taps will have washers, again. Good luck with the water pumps. They sound kind of critical 🙂 .

    Nothing “exotic” in my early diet. I can’t remember ever seeing an garlic bulb. Or, Brussel’s sprouts. Cabbage, yes. White Wonder Bread and instant rice. TV dinners. Frozen fish fingers. Something occasionally made from scratch, like meat loaf (with torn up Wonder bread). Canned everything. It was grim, but we didn’t know it. 🙂 .

    Back in Ye Olden Times, there was what they called “stove sets.” Sometimes, if you bought a stove, they came along as a “free gift.” Usually, glass with nice graphics. Three oversize shakers for salt, pepper and flour … and a covered tub for “fat.” I seem to remember my mom and dad just keeping their’s in an old tin can. Refrigerators usually came with glass left over containers. All highly collectible, now.

    I still haven’t gotten around to buying Sandor Katz’s book, but it’s “on the list.” I did get it from the library, and gave it a look. Pity you missed him. I’d guess he’s knowledgeable … and, entertaining.

    I sent Scott the Hero’s Journey. He really liked it, as, he’s a big Joseph Campbell fan. I liked the part where there was fierce, gatekeeping beasts … probably cats. 🙂 Lew

  55. alco44
    Hi Chris
    Yes we are locals. I Arrived in Richland with my two siblings and my parents from New Jersey in 1949. My wife was born in 1947 here. Her parents arrived in Richland ,to work at Hanford ,from Wyoming in 1943. Our 3 Kids were born in Richland. Here comes the really strange part. Prior to the passing of the parents up to present . One son lives in Seattle area. The other son lives in a different town 6 mile distant.
    The parents, my wife and I , and our daughter and her family have lived in wood framed houses built in 43 – 48 by. The US government to house the original Hanford Works operating personnel. 7000 dwelling units in number in 13 different styles. In one continuous area. Reasonably sized lots . Mostly adequate. Good Schools, roads , utilities, Hospitals on. It’s a unique story and place. Nice parks , 10 mile public walking and bike paths along the Columbia River shore.

    Rock Mover
    I thought you would like the pictures. The original design for manually moving and installing large piping and many other things have been around for years. I noticed one in a storage yard and was curious about its use until much latter when some pipe fitters brought The device loaded with a big pipe into a work area. That one was old ,as it had old wire spoke car wheels from an early 1930s model. Probably shop built during the WW2 Early Hanford construction Time. That sighting was late 1970s. Timeless Proven design I like Those Things😁.

    If you were to fab something along those lines. Square steel tube in various sizes. Old car wheel axle spindles. Your tip shop ( used material merchant) or as my life partner says: “What the h*** is that stuff for”.☹️
    There are more ideas by searching : Large pipe lifting and moving dollys.


  56. Chris,

    I’m glad you liked the Peter Gunn. That tune has always been one of my favorites, and I really like Deodato’s funk version. Maybe you’ll enjoy this one:

    I spent a lot of time at Radio Shack in the day. The friend of the stereo fame bought a TRS-80 when we started at University. He got a modem and the permissions to get on the university’s computer for a programming class. And he started playing, aka hacking. Next thing he knew is that he got into payroll and had the ability to change our professors’ salaries. He got scared when he couldn’t get out, so he unplugged the modem from the wall.

    Midnight Oil? I listened to one or two of their songs, but really never liked them. I found some youtubes of them and quickly remembered why. Not a genre I like.

    Assume people are rational? That sounds like the “efficient market hypothesis”, too, in that all people have the exact same total knowledge and will all make the same rational decisions. With assumptions like that, what can possibly go wrong?

    I’ve heard for 2 days now that most of the panic buying is over. We’ll see about that the next time I go to the store. Seeing is believing, although I do expect many things will be in short supply for some time – buying workable substitutes makes sense when necessary.

    I used to white water kayak for a few years. East of town, the Spokane River can get pretty warm by August and September. But all through the urban region, there are a lot of cold springs that get into the river. Downstream from town, the water is cold all year. A lot of us wore wet suits all year on that stretch.

    The Folbot was the absolutely most stable boat I’ve ever been in. We TRIED to capsize it in lakes with heavy wind and large waves and wakes from passing boats. Couldn’t do it. We never took it into dangerous river rapids – we knew our limits. (Plus mom had a few choice things to say about boys and toys and killer rivers.) But, once that mast was attached to it, it got a bit top heavy. Add the sail and that thing was the second most unstable boat I’ve ever been in. Just plain too top heavy.

    The most unstable was a friend’s weird kayak. It was made for doing tricks on waves in rivers. Then he wanted a “squirt boat”, but was too cheap to buy one, so he diddled with his weird kayak and cut quite a lot off of both bow and stern. It was short, like a “squirt boat”, but with neither the proper width or depth. I kid you not, you’d get in that thing, attach the spray skirt so you wouldn’t swamp the boat, and you were sitting in the water, weird boat totally submerged. Turn your head and over you went. Mate, I spent 2 minutes in that thing and got out and wouldn’t touch it again. Even really experienced kayakers were terrified of it. My friend loved it. At least he said he did.

    You nailed Pat’s humor, which did indeed have some dry streaks. He probably wanted to somehow use us in a story. Then he saw that dad was starting to get hypothermia, and he got all serious and did all the proper things.


  57. Lew,

    Yes, whatever Spokane has, Council’s weather gets more extreme. Sad to say, but I gave up my toughness for Lent one year and could never get it back. 🙂


  58. @ Margaret
    I’ll probably have to read ‘Earth abides’ again when you ask your question. At the moment I am reading ‘Wild swans’ by Jung Chang; don’t know why it took me so long to get around to it. It’s both superb and horrific. Thank goodness I was born where I was.


  59. Hi Pam,

    Concrete compost bins are a wonderful thing and I respect your efforts, the old timers likewise used concrete which I saw recently at the Werribee Manor visit – as a comparison, the sewage system here uses food grade polyethylene which is just as high tech as concrete and very rodent proof. Not sure how it would go in a bushfire. Probably not good.

    In their kitchen storage bins which were constructed of timber, galvanised steel sheet lined the entire bins. And as a youth I encountered such storage arrangements in houses. They work. My how far we have fallen!

    ‘W. C.’, hmm, is this after the famous W. C. Fields of yore, or is it shorthand for the term ‘water closet’, which dare not mention its name in polite company? Fortunately, we are not in polite company, and thus can have such a discussion.

    Your results are hardly surprising, however, need I point out that the little thefty-peskies are saving you the hassle of having to spread the compost via their manure which is spread randomly around your property?

    Your mention of pineapple reminded me of the time – long ago – when I gifted a dozen eggs to a friend. Let’s just call the gift a failed experiment and leave it at that. So, in the week before hand I’d cut up a huge quantity of pineapple – skin and all – into tiny bite sized chunks and fed them to the chickens. So, the chickens enjoyed all of the pineapple and none was to be found anywhere. Their eggs began tasting of pineapple and lesson learned – what goes in is what goes out. Before the harsh lesson was learned, I gifted the eggs to my mate, and believe it or not, he complained that the eggs were a bit ‘strong tasting’, his words. I have this horrid feeling that he chucked them out. No!!!! Oh well. Sure they had an undercurrent of pineapple to the taste, but what of that? Lesson learned, don’t gift eggs to folks with the palate of a cows backside. 😉

    Ah, there is concrete, and then there is concrete. Are your compost bins comprised of concrete blocks with small gaps in between? Need I remind you that our rodent friends are but waiting for the tiniest opportunity…



  60. Hi Inge,

    Your country produces more than its fair share of trickster characters, and the estimable artist Banksy is one such. The humour was superlative! And produced a massive grin. 🙂

    Hehe! The weather Gods are tricksters too, and that happens to me as well. Like your lovely island, it rains here when it rains nowhere else, and as such I have spent the past decade interpreting the weather forecasts and deciphering them for local conditions. To be honest they are indicative, but reading tea leaves and watching the movement in the air pressure can also yield good results too! 😉 Hehe!

    Sorry to hear that the landline problems have not been corrected. Looking at the tea leaves, and pondering the message, I kind of get the feeling that your landline might never get fixed. The phone network here is coping OK if only because I’m in a rural area and there are few people accessing the service, but of late I have been enjoying messages that other peoples networks are apparently ‘busy’. Fancy that?

    To at least some extent, all of the winter seedlings have produced some plants. Wheat appears to be the most marginal of the lot as there are now four seedlings, despite hundreds of seeds planted. I might have to retain those seeds that the plants produce…

    How are your daughters going down here? There is a fair bit of government support to access if people are self motivated.



  61. @ Lew:

    You are the epitome of chivalry. You not only are discreet about the lady’s snoring, you have smite the dragon and brought bread to her from his lair.


  62. Hi Margaret,

    Is your snow late in the season? It would be late for me. Such short term snow does little harm from what I’ve seen, but things can be different elsewhere.

    Yummo! Elderberry mead sounds really good. From what we’ve noticed (and the editor is the brew mistress here) mead is a super reliable concoction. It was actually the very first brew we tried. Hope you both enjoyed the Vitamin C hit from the Elderberry? Always useful during a pandemic.

    Margaret, so here I am making jokes about Vitamin C and pandemics, and Gwen’s former residence is going through hell. Yes, I’m glad that Gwen was able to move to a smaller home, and I do hope that Marty is not at risk.

    I apologise for my previous brevity. The grim reaper stalks among us always, and nobody really knows when it is our turn to face the music. It is such a difficult and inevitably tragic situation, and so few of us learn to cope with that knowledge day-to-day. You, like I have seen more than our fair share of that knowledge, but in no way does that (to me at least) demean the journey that we all must take. Humour is how I occasionally deal with the eventuality. And things are rightly awful right now.

    A few years ago I encountered a young lady who took great pride in not being a good cook, or able to run a household with flair. The ladies self-esteem veered in other directions, and it is an option, I guess. However, it takes an extraordinary amount of knowledge to be able to be confronted by a choice of ingredients, and then make a tasty meal out of them.

    For a while now, I’ve begun to suspect that people shun gardening for edibles, because it is a massive body of knowledge, and more of a journey than a destination. It is not enough to be able to grow edible plants (or animals), but you have to know how to preserve and store the harvest, and then make something tasty out of that. Get enough for a year. And then do the whole process again the following season, and the one after that etc… Oh yeah, it is a journey and nary a destination!

    Oh yea! Intrigued by your question. Very intrigued! 😉



  63. Chris:

    The three concrete compost bins are all connected and were built right on top of the ground except for the front section, which is down slope. There are no built-in holes except for the wire doors on top. We should have done something like your chicken set-up as monsters can – as we have seen – dig into it. I am thinking that maybe some hardware cloth on the inside might stop some of that.

    As soon as there is enough wild food about the pillaging usually stops.


  64. Chris:

    You hit it right on the nose – and Mr. W. C. Fields had more than a bit of nose. I believe that he liked to imbibe spirits sometimes, too . . .

    Once we fed our chickens broccoli and, yuk, those eggs were funny tasting. Pineapple sounds a lot better.


  65. Hi Lewis,

    How did round two fare of the magic food boxes compared to round one? Was the champ up against the ropes whilst over extending and reaching for a box of (and I had to look this up) cheez doodles? They call them Twisties down here, and they are very tasty, so a few body blows would probably be worth the pain for the taste gain. 🙂 Let’s not discuss the nutritional content though.

    Mate I hear you about that. Trying to build community is a complex and fraught activity and you’re only as good as the weakest link, and if they happen to be deaf and/or not know you, well they probably don’t get out much and long term the effort might be better spent elsewhere.

    You put the kiss-of-death on yourself by talking about the soap last week, and now your commitment to the cause will be tested. I don’t reckon I’m worthy for such a test, if only because the soap sounds challenging to skin and for years during winter I’ve had small persistent patches of eczema on two fingers. Nowhere else, just those two fingers, and just during winter. What is with that? The doctors prescribed steroid treatment, but I’m reluctant to try it as it is only a short term solution. In summer, the patches disappear completely. It is a mystery, and your soap would no doubt be a challenge to those two patches.

    Nothing wrong with being a flour snob. Bob’s mill punches well above their weight! Hey, I tried a batch of wholemeal spelt flour today. It was good and nice tasting, but the thing is, I’m accustomed to more finely ground flour. But at this stage I have no idea about grinding wheat seeds for flour. Whilst we are on the subject, I recall that Conrad Richter wrote in his trilogy a scene where the flour supplier apologised for supplying brewers yeast, and then went on to suggest that the protagonist could produce her own superior sour dough yeast mix.

    Muffins are good, and I too would be tempted. Did they have dried fruit in the bread mix? Oh no! Can you believe that some nefarious trickster has hijacked the Girl Scout biscuit name? I’d be certain that you scored the more legitimate variety of biscuits. Who’d have thunk it?

    Your food boxes are amazing. Did you score any fresh fruit and vegetables in the afternoon’s food box? Have you encountered the banana fungus?

    Mr Greer’s staircase theory fits what I’m observing, and it is a bit like a stricken boat and passengers are getting tossed overboard in order to keep the ship afloat. A lot of passengers have been chucked overboard recently. Talk is that borders will stay shut for the foreseeable future.

    We faced that talk down here too with the post office, and I don’t rightly know the details but the parcel business was split off from the mail business – and then the claim was made that the mail business couldn’t make money, whilst the parcel business did. How does that logic work? Government’s forget that they themselves are a cost to the community. Imagine what would happen if we asked our politicians to turn a profit or get out! Far out, what a shambles that would be.

    The system down here is equally finicky and byzantine. Good luck, the system was never created with this current possibility in mind – and disincentives are par for course. Such a philosophy just doesn’t work that well right now.

    I’ll vote for that! Imagine standard fittings and fixtures. The hot water pumps are crucial unfortunately. Such little items but if not working they can create havoc on a grand scale. The hot water jacket on the back of the wood heater works on a thermo-siphon so it requires no additional energy than the heat. You’d think that would work just fine, but if I crank too much energy out of the firebox, and the thermo-siphon is not circulating the hot water fast enough then the wet back inside the combustion chamber can begin rumbling. Nobody wants a steam boiler in their lounge room. The hot water pump moves excess heat to the hydronic radiators in other rooms of the house. The existing hot water pump is very cheap looking and I’m amazed it has lasted as long as it has.

    Likewise the solar hot water system has a hot water pump which shoots water into the solar hot water panels. As they are high up on the roof, gravity cannot do that water pumping trick.

    Same here, without the frozen TV dinners. On the other hand frozen vegetables were a regular thing as fresh vegetables were considered inconvenient. I recall the fish fingers too, and quite liked them wrapped in bread with melting butter. Yum! We didn’t know any better either. My grandfather was considered very old-school in that he ran an extensive vegetable garden. I’m still not seeing a huge amount of vegetable gardening around these parts…

    Not exactly sure what a ‘stove set’ is and the search yielded all sorts of unusual cookware lists. When the editor and I were married, most people purchased cookware as part of the wedding gifts. The stuff has gotten a lot of use.

    Yeah, it is a shame that things did not work out on that fermentation par-excellence front. Oh well, these things are not set in concrete. The book is excellent and as you rightly guessed – entertaining. Fermentation became a bit of a fad maybe a year or two back. Us humans have cooked using little microscopic critters and preserving techniques for quite a while. After all, yoghurt is simply a way of preserving milk for later consumption. A lot of home activities centre around food preserving. We were dehydrating tomatoes today just so as to store them in olive oil. So tasty!

    Did a day’s activities in the forest today ‘cleaning-up’ as it has been called by the indigenous folk. I came across a fascinating story about Captain Cook and the indigenous folk and thought you might enjoy it: The first sighting of James Cook’s Endeavour, as remembered by the Yuin people of south-eastern Australia.

    Go the heroes journey! It was pretty well conceived and executed!



  66. Hi Al,

    Right, that Hanford! In my mind you would be a local, but I have heard it said around these parts that it takes at least three generations to earn that particular title. Of course, it is possible they are over stating the case, and over emphasising their own stories. So yeah, you’re a local! 🙂

    From my perspective, I’m always amazed at the mobility of citizens in your country. It happens down here, but not as often and it would be a very big thing for a person to move interstate. Despite this place looking rather remote, it is about 40 miles to the CBD and I grew up in that city. I live in the less fashionable side of the city and that suits me just fine.

    Some towns are better laid out, and your town was laid out by urban planners working to a plan rather than developers looking to maximise profits. You can see that in action in some of the suburbs in Melbourne and the original plan was laid out by a surveyor and it is in a nice neat grid pattern, and then those areas connect into other suburbs that were laid out by developers during the Gold Rush years. The difference is marked and abrupt.

    I really did like the pictures and such a machine would never have occured to me, but it makes perfect sense from hindsight. Thanks for mentioning it and the background story. The last large concrete pipe put in the ground here was dragged around by a 20 tonne excavator with me handling the positioning on the ground.

    Your life partner is wise to raise that question! 🙂 I walked past a house earlier this morning down a street in the more fashionable end of the mountain range. Never been down there before, and there was a plumbers business sign out the front of the house. The block and house were in very good condition and exceptionally neat. I approve of neat. Anyway, the next block along was where the plumber stored years of accumulated stuff. Lots of interesting stuff in there that probably would have challenged your life partners point of view!



  67. Hi DJ,

    Mate, it is funk central. 🙂 I’m feeling a bit more mellow this evening though and listened to Florence and the Machine Live at Lollapalooza. What a voice!

    Hehe! Yeah, I recall the TRS-80. Don’t you think that it is amazing that back in those days a company could release a proprietary computer and then sell them to the public? There was more diversity in hardware in those days. Cyber security was barely thought of in those days… Did your mate ever get onto the BBS (Bulletin Board Services) back in the day? Instead of the giant server farms nowadays, people used to host their own servers and just allow known users and their friends onto them. Some of the text based and turn based games were fun.

    Fair enough. Clearly you were not subjected to hours of your sisters conducting unsubtle brainwashing by forced listening to the band! Formal experiments would be less harsh than that experience. I feel lucky to have survived largely unscathed, but with sympathetic feelings towards the band…

    Hehe! Yup, economists are a bunch of numpties who’s beginning premise is a faulty one, and it just goes on from there. Of course economists hate the guts of accountants. Not sure why. I have a theory though, we deal with people in the real world, and all their foibles, the contrast with economists is quite stark.

    The panic buying appears to have eased up here. Dunno why, but there are a couple of options as to why. Why do you reckon it slowed up your way?

    Oh yeah kayak’s are stable, but like you rightly point out the whopping great big tall sail would make for a top heavy craft. Not ideal, but it might be better than swimming! For a semester the more English than the English school got me rowing. Hardly surprising that I ended up in a single scull boat, and if you don’t make any mistakes, well they’re fine, but muck something up with the oars, and far out they are fast but very unstable. And getting in and then out again of one is a novel experience. But they have the benefit of cutting through the water at a fair clip. Didn’t keep that sport up and preferred cricket in summer and running in winter. The Yarra River next to Melbourne is not the sort of river that you want to go for a swim in.

    I’m totally 100% with you, and would give the beastie modified boat a go, and then never get involved again.

    Good on him, a wise path to follow, and hope your dad was OK after the spill?

    All this talk of extreme weather makes me feel a bit soft.



  68. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Very funny. Hey, you just reminded me that back in the day when I lived in the big smoke, there was a community garden at the end of the street. Lots of vegetable plots, but I knew the bloke who ran the thing and would you believe that there was politics going on? No, well it all seemed rather strange to me.

    Anyway, before I setup a worm farm in the backyard I used to take all of my fruit and vegetable scraps down to their compost bin in the community garden. It was always exciting to open the lid and watch the rats bounce out of the compost pile. Healthy looking things too.

    The first time it happened was a bit like the scene in the film Alien when the cat jumped out of the locker and scared the ill fated crew mates.

    Pineapple flavoured eggs were a bit odd, but as far as I’m aware nobody has died of consuming such eggs! 🙂 Too much brassica species can imbibe a slightly zingy flavour! Good stuff, they’re a natural product after all and very variable.

    It is worth trying some sort of lining. My preference for such linings is usually steel. Not many animals can break through steel, although Sir Poopy broke through the original heavy duty gauge chicken wire on the original chicken enclosure. Tough teeth.

    That’s true here too, if there are easier feeds, then pillaging eases off for a while. I also try to out produce them all which works hand in hand with your strategy. Strawberries are however right out. No strawberries for any of them – they went too far. Plus the leeches and tics were a bit unsettling.

    Everything here on that front is fairly well sealed so as to reduce the incidence of snakes. The presence of rodents attracts snakes, so I try to make sure the rodents are elsewhere. Adds an exiting new dimension – and why do they have to be so deadly?



  69. Yo, Chris – Oh, Irish Spring soap is my usual go to. But, I mix it up with Grandpa’s Pine tar soap, and some nice Yardley I found at the dollar store.

    The second box was the same, and different. I tossed back the two big boxes of “healthy” cereal (I’ll stick to my oatmeal and fruit, thanks), and some cartons of “shelf stable milk.” But kept most of the other stuff. More canned goods. Someone pointed out that a can of pears was “Made in China.” Why? There was also a fresh tuna san and a cob salad. Had that for lunch. The fresh fruit and veg was some onions, potatoes, oranges and apples! I was out of apples, and these look very nice. Nope. The English muffins were just plain.

    A banana I had a couple of weeks ago was pretty rotten when I opened it up. And, another had a funny spot that I cut out. The fungus? Don’t know.

    I also ended up with four jars of peanut butter, between the two boxes. Now, I gave up peanut butter quit awhile ago, but when I ate it regularly, I always bought a pretty good brand, that was just peanuts and a pinch of salt. And, only the crunchy. I always threw back the stuff we go in the boxes, as it is all creamy style. But the last jar I got, yesterday, was crunchy. I ran downstairs and found another jar of it. So I was thinking .. (always dangerous when it comes to food) of making peanut butter cookies. And, I was wondering if I toasted up some walnut bits and added those, if it would be good? I’ll have to give that a whirl.

    Our lunatic fringe is becoming to come out in force. If you look very closely, at some of the pictures, you’ll notice Simon Pegg is making a guest appearance. 🙂 .

    Did battle with the IRS website, again, last night. Discovered that it didn’t want to take my registration, as I left out the / between the month, day and year of my birthdate. Duh! So, the result of all that? “Status Not Available.” But, looking around on the web for a straight answer (HA!) near as I can figure I’ll get a direct deposit, sometime between now and the end of the month. So, I’ll just mellow out and not worry about it. After all, it’s found money. Sort of.

    I’ll take a look around and find a good picture of a “kitchen set”. I might have the name wrong.

    That was an interesting article about the First Inhabitants. They see a reclining mother mountain, Capt. Cook sees a camel. Who has more of an imagination?

    Eleanor went to the hospital, at 7:30 this morning. Couldn’t breath. I’ve got HRH. Her daughter called, and HRH is going to the groomers. Then, back here. They offered to take her, but, I think it’s important that she be here when, and if, Eleanor comes back. Also, staying here is more familiar to HRH. I’m afraid Eleanor might need 24/7 nursing. At least until things are under control. If that’s possible. Lew

  70. Addendum: Ah! Search “Depression Glass Stove Sets” and look at the images. The covered containers marked “Drippings.” I qit like the blue sets (Delphite). But, they’re rare and expensive. Lew

  71. Alco44

    Hi Chris
    Just read your comment To DJ above.
    Regarding Economists and Accountants.
    My Brother is a retired Econ professor from a Northwest state university. For years we have argued about sending the US manufacturing sector to China. Also about the Inevitability of financial collapse of present life due fossil fuel depletion.
    From his position I just didn’t understand how the real world twirled. During one of his visits I tossed copy of one of Kunstlers Blogs to him which he read. And Rebuffed as crap. He then declared that . “Collapse will never happen the rich won’t allow it” We dropped the conversation at that point.
    Years ago just after he got PHD He and his wife lived in Hawaii . There he developed a friendship with the Economist Milton Friedman who was apparently his professional Idol.
    My Wife has been bugging me to call my Bro.

  72. Hi Lewis,

    What a bizarre rabbit hole your soap led me down. Grandpa’s Pine tar soap, sounds pretty scary – I mean who applies tar to their skin? But I read reviews and was quite surprised by the passion that the soap produces in its clientele. Particularly the pregnant and bearded folks had a lot to say about the product – although one would think that it would be rather difficult to be both pregnant and bearded all at the same time. The reviews didn’t sound to my ears like ‘paid for’ reviews, but you never know.

    For years we’ve been making our own olive oil soap – and it is not hard, you just have to be careful. It is not a process for people who are careless and want to try and wing it. They should probably stick to other activities. Have you ever dabbled in soap making?

    It is the dish-washing detergent that sets off the two small patches of eczema during the colder months. It is something that hit me later in life, and for a long while I’ve wondered if product formulas have changed and that causes me the skin irritation. Dunno. I’ve tried a lot of different brands of detergent, and some are like the a-bomb and I avoid them like the plague. Probably should begin thinking about making my own washing up soap. Could probably even use one of those soap shaker cages that we used to use when I was a kid? Dunno.

    Well there you go. Talk about a Duh! moment, you can get soap shakers made out of 304 grade stainless steel (note that they could use a higher grade of stainless steel, but beggars, choosers and all that jazz). Picked one up and will begin experimenting with it. No doubt that it will work a treat. Thanks for the prod! 😉 It’s an ill wind and all that… Woosh, there goes my mind! 🙂

    Shelf stable milk is an odd product, and yeah would also have done the same. Hey, it seems weird to me that China is even exporting food in the first place. The powers that be (WTO), opened our apple markets years ago to imported apples. Nobody seemed to concern themselves in the least with the fate of local apple orchardists and apparently it must have been good for consumers or something like that. I reckon apples were cheaper back before that change, and at least you know they were locally sourced. Anyway, rumours were floating around that Chinese apples then entered our markets by way of our Kiwi friends to our east, and the rumour alleged that they were re-labelling the apples as kiwi sourced apples. Not nice if true – the cheeky scamps. Can’t say that I’m unhappy about this current bout of re-localisation, despite the truly unexpected way that it is occurring. I’m genuinely wondering about the spare parts side of this story – you never hear of it.

    With onions and potatoes you can make a fine meal with a splash of passata and some herbs (of course excluding rosemary and oregano for obvious reasons which we’ve discussed beforehand). I’d chuck in some chives for a bit of bite, some chili or pepper for tooth, maybe some carrots and mushrooms would be well worth chucking in too. Reduce the sauce. Finish it all off with a freshly grated Parmesan on top and a few chunks of freshly baked bread on the side. Yum! Kings would not eaten as well several centuries ago.

    Bananas get bruised in transport (and I’ve seen a banana truck on fire due to probably the ethylene gas they off-gas spontaneously igniting). The fungus was an entirely different beast as the outside of the banana, the skin looked fine, but when I opened it, there were threads of brown fungi right through the banana from one end to another end. Yeah, not good.

    What a score! Peanut butter is good. A few years back we began purchasing roasted un-salted peanuts and then hitting it with the food processor, and it is good stuff. Even the dogs approve of it, although I caught the two littlies eating kangaroo poo this afternoon so they are probably no judge of what’s good. Although, if you asked the pups about the kangaroo poo, they go: What’s good about it? What’s not good about it! Again, not a proper judge of these things.

    Out of curiosity why did you stop consuming peanut butter? Have you ever tasted other nut butters? Mate, I hear you, crunchy is better. Yup, no doubts about it, and I’m salivating thinking about all this talk of peanut butter cookies. I chuck peanuts into the Anzac biscuits, although this may be not in line with traditional recipes. Should try growing some next summer. Hmm. Hey Anzac day services which are usually on the 25th, have been cancelled this year. The Last Post may not get played this year. In the early hours of the morning it is a haunting spectacle.

    The local gardening club announced today they were re-opening seed orders to members only. Fortunately, I’m an up-to-date member.

    The photos didn’t show up in the article that you linked to, but the comments were a hoot, and good to see Simon Pegg made such a massive impression on the populace.

    You are dealing with pedants who can demand that things be done their way, or the highway. Such is my life these days that I’m helping people down here navigate the Byzantine waters of such a strange country, which I’ve proudly never set foot in. Your cheque/deposit situation will probably sort itself out in due course if that is the plan of action. Maybe… It is a process after all, and you have to follow the exact letter of the process and throw common sense out the window – it’s the process that becomes important.

    What a fascinating observation. Fortunately I’ve had all day to ponder the different perspectives regarding the mountain, otherwise I might make an incoherent reply. For a start, I just should add that I noticed that it was a volcano and you can even see the cone in the photo. Oh well, as to your fascinating observation: The indigenous interpretation introduces connection with place as well as inferring a relationship that is important, rewarding but needs to be maintained. The good Captain (and he was a giant on a few fronts) referred to the mountain as an object, and the word camel defines it as such. A very different perspective, and I can well understand the irritation caused by the camel name. What is your take on that comparison?

    Sorry to hear about Eleanor’s declining health. Remember to treat HRH kindly as her routines and comforts have been chucked out the window. And recall to cut yourself some slack during this stressful time. Hmm, I may have to resort to humour – spirits need lifting out of the murk.

    The Depression Glass Stove Sets are very well made items to have lasted such a period of time. In one of the images I noted the word ‘Uranium’ for a vivid fluorescent green colour, and was sort of hoping that the description was not meant in the literal sense of those words. Maybe?



  73. Hi Al,

    Usually Sunday evening I write, so my replies are brief! 🙂

    Haha! Thanks for the laughs, yes, please do correct your brother it may be a salutary lesson for him. Hehe!

    Mate, I used to work as a manufacturing accountant, and watched the decline of local manufacturing with considerable dismay. I saw the machines getting sold and sent overseas, and the story was that it was good for consumers. Except that it isn’t in the long run.

    And so here we are all now in the long run. I’m wondering about the spare parts issue, and sooner or later, the parts will be begged for.

    Such a strange time, but it’s also exciting for previously un-thought of possibilities. I for one would like to see us manufacture more locally needed stuff, err, locally. Not sure that we can do everything though. The basics would be a good start.

    I encountered someone the other day who proclaimed that they were self sufficient. Yeah, right.

    Your wife is on the money.



  74. Yo, Chris – I like the Grandpa’s Pine Tar soap, as it has a real “guys” smell. The product line is pretty extensive. There’s also a Grandma’s Oatmeal soap. It’s an old, old company, and made in the States. Used to see it, occasionally, on store shelves. Not any more. Or, if I do, it’s really expensive. So, I buy it on-line. When I had my antique store, I sold it as a “side-line.” Plus, it kept me in soap at wholesale prices 🙂 . A similar product, hard to find anymore, but still out there is “Cornhusker’s Lotion.” Not a Grandpa product, but, the history is pretty much the same. Great stuff for dry hands. I’ve never tackled making soap.

    Yeah, they always trot out that “good for the consumer, cheaper prices” nonsense. People never follow it through to the logical conclusion that someone is going to catch it in the shorts. Maybe someone they know, or their local economy.

    You cook like I do. A little of this, a little of that, and a lot of “Why not?” 🙂 .

    I knew bananas emitted ethylene gas, but didn’t know it was explosive enough to blow up a banana truck! Should I be concerned? 🙂 . “Use Bananas In A Well Ventilated Area.” They should come with warning labels!

    Hmmm. Why did I stop using peanut butter? I think I may have decided it was too oily, and, I had pretty much given up bread, in an effort to keep my weight down. Plus, the more I learned about modern bread (even the stuff that’s supposed to be better), I began to lay off it. Not much rational thought, mostly foibles and superstition. If I had a move organized life, I’d bake my own bread on a regular basis and make my own nut butters. I need to give walnut butter another spin.

    I’m surprised the photos didn’t work, in the link. I tried the link in my post, here, and they popped up, fine. Hmmm. Not cleared for export? 🙂 . Just another one of those tech mysteries, that even if you knew the answer to, would make no sense.

    Capt. Cook was probably a pragmatic kind of a guy. But, I had a thought. He was the product of a couple of hundred years of the Reformation, and, unlike the Spanish, the English didn’t go around slapping saints names, or feast days on the geography. It would smack of popery.

    So, if they cancelled Anzac Day, can I take a pass on baking Anzac Biscuits? 🙂 . Not that I’d want to. They’re soooo good.

    Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea is in the same boat, as me, and thinks we’ll see them next week. The stimulus checks. In a related story (I think) the cast iron owl bank at our local auction went for $510 (!!!). Which is a couple of hundred dollars more than they have sold for, on E-Bay. Someone got carried away, maybe with their stimulus money. I told my friends in Idaho, that a lot of people will feel “rich.” For one hot minute.

    OK. Uranium glass. AKA, Vaseline Glass. Though, I see from Wikipedia that vaseline glass has a slightly different meaning in the UK and Australia. Just a smidgen was put in glass, to give it a distinctive green color. Later, some bright bulb discovered if you put it under ultraviolet light, you get a weird green glow. But, when WWII came along, uranium was used for “other things.” I’ve seen display cabinets, fitted out with ultraviolet light, and, the effect is quit striking. Any piece of old glass that “glows”, sells for a premium.

    Fiesta dinnerware had the same problem. Red is the rarest color (followed by cobalt blue), as both colors were discontinued during the war. Red used uranium and cobalt used, well, cobalt. People fret about the glass and the dinnerware, but, there’s not enough radioactivity to make a difference. Less than a luminous dialed watch. Cranberry or ruby colored glass have a smidgen of gold in them. For the color.

    Eleanor is in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) because her sodium levels got to low. But, her family expects her home in 2 or three days. We’ll see. So, in the meantime, I’ve got HRH. Yup, we stick as close to schedule as possible. I even put her harness on in the hall, and give her a cuddle and a bit of a carry. Eleanor’s family whisked HRH off to the groomer, yesterday. Though where they found one open, I don’t know. Must have to “know a guy.” 🙂 . I think they brought back a different dog. My, is her hair short! And, she’s got two red bows on her head. Those have to go. I shudder to take her out in broad daylight. It’s a guy thing. I feel moved to say, “Not my dog” when I run into anyone.

    Saw a trailer for a new “Arthur” movie. “The Green Knight.” Looks like it might be ok. By the way, I watched a few YouTube videos, the other night. I searched “Roman Britain” and quit a few archaeology things came up. Just for curiosity, I also searched “King Arthur.” Oh, my. Pages and pages of programs and documentaries, sometimes in many episodes. One could get lost in there, for days. Lew

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