The Tooth-Off

Saturday morning I picked up the newspaper at the local general store. The sheer waste from the take away coffee annoys me no end. But how else do you support local businesses that are important to the local community, other than spending money in those businesses?

The newspaper is getting thinner too. Back when I was a kid I used to deliver those same newspapers to houses in my area using only a push bike. Before the sun had dared rise above the horizon, the push bike was loaded down with two huge panniers filled with newspapers. On weekends, the newspapers were so fat and heavy, that I could only carry half of the runs worth of newspapers. The nice newsagent folks would leave a drop of the second half of the newspapers at a halfway point along the route. It saved me having to ride back to the newsagent.

In these enlightened times nobody would think to send a child out on such an errand on a cold wet winters morning. It wasn’t even that long ago. As a kid, on wet winter days, I got soaked with rain, but then used to drop the newspaper onto the front porch of subscribers houses, and coincidentally out of the rain. Nope, in these enlightened times, some dude delivers individually plastic wrapped newspapers from the window of a moving vehicle. With such concerns for comfort within the newspaper business, it is little wonder to me that journalism as a trade has hit such lows.

On Saturday we cleaned up (in the Indigenous sense of those words) a small patch of forest. The epic worldwide-attention-capturing bushfires of only a few months back have not been forgotten by the folks living in rural areas. I looked into the valley on Saturday afternoon and it looked like a scene from Mordor! There were just so many smoke plumes issuing from properties nearby.

So many smoke plumes on Saturday afternoon

Cleaning up forest is really hard physical work, which is why I feel that so many people are opposed to undertaking this important task. When the government does the work, they do it on the cheap and the outcomes are poor. To me it seems an awful lot like worrying about getting kids out in the cold mornings delivering newspapers on their push bikes, where a lazy haze appears to have settled over the community. Anyway, hard physical work demands a proper lunch.

A proper lunch in this case comprises half a small loaf of freshly baked bread, deviled eggs, and a salad full of produce straight from the garden. The editor is an excellent gardener and cook, and quality food is one way to my heart. Over lunch I read the newspaper. From one end to the other end, the newspaper was filled with stories of disease. Honestly the newspaper should relabel itself: “De morbo cotidie” (or Latin for “The Daily Disease”). Nobody at all seems to be reporting on the sheer wastage that is take away coffee cups, and why is that?

At times like these, the editor and I need a distraction, and I’m guessing other people need distracting too.

About a year and half ago I began playing a game with the editor which we’ve called: The Tooth-Off. I don’t have a hope of ever winning the game, for reasons that will soon become clear, but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t fun trying to win the game. Life is a bit like that. We all eventually lose the game of life by dying, but whilst we are all alive and kicking, it might not be a bad idea to remember that it is an option to live.

The Tooth-Off game may have begun about two years ago. The editor and I were at the local dentist for a checkup and clean. The dentist was praising the condition of the editor’s teeth. Turns out the editor had orthodontic work done when she was a child. In those days this was a very rare experience and a serious stretch for her parents.

The editor is fond of recounting a story where as a child, the orthodontist was suggesting to her concerned mother that if they just made a few more minor adjustments, her teeth would be perfect. The editor had had enough of the tooth torture, and put a stop to further visits. The teeth are real good.

I on the other hand had a single mother and two older siblings. You’d think we were broke back then, and we probably were. On a single parents income, my mother bought a house for us all to live in and kept food on the table, but my mother was also concerned about teeth. Every year for as long as I can recall, she took me to the same dentist for a check up and clean. Every single year I watched the dentist get older, whilst I got bigger. There was a bit of comfort in that, and when he retired I was at a total loss as to where to next go to the dentist for a checkup and clean. But orthodontic work was not in the realms of possibility in the household budget. Not that I needed it anyway.

So both of our teeth are pretty good, although I grudgingly admit that the editors teeth are better than mine. So after the dentist praised the quality of her teeth two years ago, I thought that I’d up the ante. And so I began making a big show about brushing and flossing my teeth. I even went so far as to use activated charcoal regularly to whiten my teeth. That stuff works, and as a pleasant side effect for other people, activated charcoal reduces flatulence. Winning!

All the while I was attending to my teeth, I’d be stirring the editor up about how I was going to win the next Tooth-Off at the dentist. Spare a thought for the long suffering editor…

Then the fateful day arrived last year and we both visited the local dentist for a checkup and clean. With numerous plans in mind, I went into the dentists chair first. The dentist and nurse exclaimed how good my teeth were, and it was at that point my nefarious plan sprung into action. I explained the Tooth-Off game and that we were contending for the title of Champion Tooth of the household. We all had a lot of laughs, which is a bit weird for a visit to the dentist, but there you go. And they agreed to my plan which was to tell the editor that I had won the Tooth-Off game.

I sauntered out of the dentists room and into the waiting room. My head was held high, and I carried myself with the natural swagger that comes from the sheer confidence of knowing that the outcome of a game was totally rigged in my favour. The editor pretended not to notice. She was called in to the dentists room.

Smug was the look that I observed on the editors face when she returned from the dentists room. Turns out that the dentist and nurse checked out the editors teeth and decided that they couldn’t lie. I’d lost fair and square. The editor became the Tooth Champion yet again.

I’m not really sure what the lesson learned here is, and perhaps I’m just spinning a funny anecdote to take peoples minds of the craziness that is nowadays. Oh! Hang on, what about: You can’t always win, despite your best intentions. Yup! That sure sounds about right.

The forest clean up this week, took the entire day. The fire was still burning the next day. And over the next week we’ll spread the ashes as fertiliser over the entire area. It looks a bit rough right now, but in another six months the area will look superb and the previously non-existent top soil will be slowly developing.

Forest cleaning is hard work

This little section of the mountain range has some of the largest trees on the entire mountain range. There are trees on the property that pre-date white settlement, and one even shows the scars caused by the Indigenous folks cutting out a canoe. It’s a big tree. The large trees (Eucalyptus Obliqua) can live for up to 400 years and grow to a height of 90m (295 feet). The trees here are not quite that tall, but many are huge enough and around 50m (164 feet). They deserve a chance at surviving the next big fire that sweeps through here.

Loggers worked these forests from 1860 for about a hundred years. They harvested the really huge trees during that time. From time to time we discover the remnants of their activities, and you never know when you’ll stumble across an unusual item in an out of the way location. This week, we discovered this rusting eye hook and chain.

A rusty eye hook and chain from long ago logging activities

Friday was a particularly sunny and cold day. The air temperature barely passed 17’C / 62’F and the sun shone from blue skies. It was a great day to test the output of the recently completed solar power project. The project comprised 18 x 190 Watt solar photovoltaic (PV) panels. Each panel outputs about 5 Amps. To cut a long and unnecessary explanation short, the maximum output I’d expect the 18 panels to produce is 45 Amps. The conditions were so good that day that the panels produced 52 Amps. Solar power works best on cold and sunny days. However, for some reason I’ve heard people suggesting that hot deserts are the place to stick masses of solar panels. They don’t work so well in really hot conditions despite the intense sun. I guess real estate must be cheaper there.

Testing the new solar power array on a cold and sunny day
The new solar array doesn’t look as huge from this angle, if only because the forest is huger

Plum, the Australian sheep dog, will possibly be the next boss dog. Scritchy is getting older and unwell, but having lived to 19 years of age, she has had a very long and enjoyable life (at least the half of her life when she lived with us). Plum has also taken on board the task of sourcing her own food. This week she caught and ate a field mouse.

Go Plum! Plum catches and eats a field mouse

The trio of trouble that is the fluffy collective of: Ollie; Plum; and Ruby, run around the farm all day long. When they are not running around, they are exploring and/or fighting – possibly both at the same time. At night time, they are exhausted and sleep soundly. As I am typing this blog, the fluffy collective is sound asleep right behind me on the green couch. This is what I have to deal with:

Ruby, Plum and Ollie – exhausted after a day outside on the farm

In the past few years, we have been staggering the planting of the winter greens. In the raised garden beds there is a good example of that staggering process in action. The reason you stagger planting times is so that the growth and harvest can take place over a longer period of time – giving you something to eat right throughout that time.

Staggering of planting so as to extend the growing season, can be clearly seen in these three raised garden beds

During summer, we didn’t plant much on the two highest garden terraces. There are four 20m / 66 foot long rows (two per terrace) of fertilised garden beds. A week or two back we began sowing these rows with winter seed crops including: Broad beans; Peas; Carrots; Onions; Broccoli; Beetroot; Radishes; and Wheat. Other than the wheat, the seeds have mostly germinated and are beginning to grow. The wheat seeds were two years past their expiration date, but I thought that I’d plant them out regardless (so far four seeds have germinated). It is nice to have so much growing area.

Radishes and Broad Bean seeds have germinated

A week or so before sowing the seeds, I fertilised the top two terraces. They’re looking pretty healthy. However, quality soil takes at least three years to develop in the cool temperate climate that I live in. The top two terraces are less than a year old.

Seeds have germinated in the top two garden terraces

In the above photo, you can clearly see the 14m / 45 foot long caged in Strawberry and Grape enclosure. Those two plants have to be fully caged in as every single bird and animal on this mountain range loves Strawberries and Grapes. It is worth noting that in my experience here, no other crop has been so thoroughly subjected to predation as Strawberries. There was just no other way to grow the crop. Historically this area was planted out to berries and potatoes, thus proving that bird and animal memories are long indeed!

The Strawberry and Grape enclosure needs a bit of work. The older Strawberries have to be removed and the runners planted out in their place. The older Strawberries do not produce any berries at all and that usually happens once a plant gets to about three years old.

The Strawberries have gone feral and some of the Grape vines have reached the second run of stainless steel wire

It is quiet up here these days. Really quiet. And the local wildlife is loving it. The other day I spotted a Koala not far from here. People say Koala’s are cute and cuddly, but they have bad attitudes due to being mostly drunk on a diet rich in toxic Eucalyptus leaves. Approach with caution…

A local Koala bear scowling at me as if to say: Get Lost!

Most nights I’ve noticed a little Southern Brown Tree Frog enjoying catching and eating insects which are attracted to the lights of the house:

A little Southern Brown Tree Frog catching and eating insects

The other day I spotted an Eastern Spinebill enjoying the nectar from many of the Salvia flowers. Their long beaks can get to the nectar at the base of the flower.

An Eastern Spinebill enjoys nectar from the many Salvia flowers

And the lush garden beds provide plenty of feed for the various birds and animals that live on the farm:

A lush garden bed provides plenty of feed and shelter for the birds and animals

Onto the Flowers:

These Leucodendrons are not technically flowers, but I reckon they look great
Another of the delightful Salvia family of plants
Pineapple sage is an absolute stunner
This plant is related to a tomato, it is a Kangaroo Apple
This may be a pink Cornflower and I’d much appreciate it if someone could identify it?
Geraniums in many different varieties and forms grow here

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 11’C (52’F). So far this year there has been 406.2mm (16.0 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 403.2mm (15.9 inches).

77 thoughts on “The Tooth-Off”

  1. Yo, Chris – For the newspaper delivery, when you said “panniers”, were they big canvas bags? Ours were canvas bags with a flap, and an even heavier duty canvas padded strap. The padded strap was the only concession to comfort.

    Valley of a Thousand Smokes? Valley of the Smokes? But, I suppose Mordor will do. 🙂 .

    Nobody reporting on the sheer wastage of take away coffee cups? Well, in the short run, at least, I suppose it doesn’t kill anyone. Are they paper, or styrofoam? (At this point, my pen goes shooting out of my hand, and rolls somewhere. Much searching about with a flashlight, reveals that it has rolled under the wardrobe. The dust bunnies are loath to give it up. Back to our regularly scheduled programing.)

    That was a toothsome tale of, well, teeth. To paraphrase, you can’t always win, despite your best nefarious intentions. See: “grifters”, previous posts. 🙂 .

    Bits of loggers kit, scattered about, can be interesting. There was certainly a lot of it, scattered about as “yard art”, the last place I lived. Hiding in the tall grass for the lawn mower to find. Might be interesting to bolt a selection to one of the sheds. But, the rust would probably leave unsightly streaks.
    I wonder if the canoe tree is linked, somehow, to your stone ring? Any First Peoples still about, who might have an ancestoral tale or two, to tell?

    52 amps of solar power is nothing to sneeze at. Now you can put in that electric kiln you’ve been contemplating. 🙂 .

    My red and green white onion sets, arrived yesterday. I plan to do a bit of staggered planting, with those. A small clutch of each, every two weeks ought to do the trick. We’ll see.

    One of the Master Gardeners came by last week, and pruned up our grape arbor. Looks really good. Already producing a few sprouts. There’s a Master Gardener bed of strawberries, that are getting over run with weeds. If I get out in my beds, tomorrow, I’ll give them a go.

    I think that’s so cool you’ve got a Koala on, or near your place. Grumpiness, aside. You’ve only had one other, that I remember. The poor little fellow who showed up as an orphan of the storm, but, ultimately, didn’t do well.

    The Eastern Spinebill’s are really pretty birds. I see they’re also an urban bird, but I’m sure they enjoy the relative serenity of your farm, a lot more than the city.

    Well, after the first year, general Fern Glade Farm calendar, you can do a year of flower pictures. The Editor does a wonderful job on those. Then, the birds.

    So is the pineapple sage, another one of those bipolar plants? 🙂 . That sure looks like a pink bachelor button. One year all I could get, seed wise, was a mix of blue, white and pink. I picked out all the pink buds, but kept the white for just a bit of contrast. The seed I saved came out all blue and white, the next year. Now, I have just blue.

    Time to take HRH out for her nightly romp. No word on Eleanor. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Ooo! That’s really clever in obtaining the soap at wholesale prices and then offering it for sale as a side-line. There is a store in a town far to the north of here called the Restorers Barn. You’d love the place as it is full of ‘stuff’ in the Tolkien sense of that word. They obviously have items for restoring old houses, but there is also a huge amount of other ‘stuff’ and some of it is blue. If you do a search on: “Restorers Barn Castlemaine Images” you’ll get the drift. One could get lost in there, and years ago I bought a series of six old school framed local bird portraits which now line the hallway. Looks very cool, just like series of old botanical prints. Some of the birds have the colour blue (e.g. Crimson Rosella’s) in their plumage.

    I’ve read about the big box stores decimating your local main street traders, and to some degree that has happened here. To be honest, I’m really uncertain how all this lockdown biz will play out, as there are a lot of people over extended, and underwater, and who knows whether they’ll drown or float? I can never recall which it was that the witches were meant to do in the awful trials.

    Yeah! ‘Why not’ cooking is only way to truly express artistic flair in the kitchen. Reproducibility is all very science like, and from to time it has its uses. 😉 Baking is a bit like that, but some stuff ups have been revelations, and that is how we both roll in the kitchen!

    Mate, the banana truck was most definitely on fire. It was a B-Double truck and the driver had disconnected the dog trailer – as it was on fire. The cooking bananas didn’t smell all that bad to me, but then the dog trailer was not mine… I saw that way up in the north western part of this continent. The space up there was epic to behold and you could drive all day long just to get between a one horse town and another one horse town. In between every 125 miles or so was a roadhouse. Jim Morrison had something to say about that phenomena. I wouldn’t travel up in that corner of the continent now because it would be feral with oldsters and their caravans and Winnebago’s. Two decades ago you could travel for hours and not see another soul. And there was nobody around who was of our age (at the time).

    Hey, the oil in peanut butter is used to stop the oxygen getting to the peanut butter and making it go rancid. Best make the stuff yourself, and it is a revelation. Just avoid the salted peanuts. A concoction apparently designed by pubs so that their patrons get thirsty and drink more. Norm in the TV show Cheers had something to say about those beer nuts. Walnut butter is a great idea, and one of the best uses of the solar power system is to bake bread. I miss the wood oven, but discussions have been opened on that topic and who knows what may occur over the next year or so?

    The newspapers down here displayed photos of appealing young Republican supporters asking the hard questions about your lockdown. Nobody here is protesting that I’m aware of.

    Popery, sounds a bit like Poopery. Cleaned up a few of those dog acts over the years… Captain Cook was alright, and he eventually came unstuck in a brutal sort of way, so who knows who’s point of view is right. His cottage is located in a Melbourne park and it is a beautiful building.

    Yum! Anzac biscuits!!!! Would have made fighting the Gerry’s worth the hassle.

    The old timers used to quip something about: ‘A fool and their money’, and honestly who can doubt their veracity? I liked the owl thing, but not at that price.

    Hey, I’m old enough to recall the little chunks of radioactive metals that were dabbed onto the ends of the arms of a watch or clock. Yes, glow in the dark and all that. It reminds me that there is no such thing as a free lunch. I must add that such devices disappeared from my purview when I was but a kid. I can’t honestly say that I’ve ever heard anyone complaining about them.

    Thanks for the history lesson as to the bright colourings used in various pigments. Ouch. Wasn’t it either the rich blue or green colour that caused arsenic poisoning? In these enlightened times such things do not happen! That we know of… 😉

    Mate, I am so sorry to hear about Eleanor’s worsening condition. Fingers crossed that she makes a recovery. Mate, I have attended to people in an ICU and it is not an experience I have any great desire to return to. If it means anything to you, the people who are in the ICU beds seem oblivious to pain and suffering. It is everyone around the bed that experiences that.

    I can’t believe you managed to nab a groomer for HRH. I’ll bet she enjoyed the process? I saw a funny home done hair cut on a Pomeranian interweb thing yesterday. The Pomeranian did not look happy with the result. They’re vain creatures those dogs. Old Fluffy thought that she was the best of the best, and all other dogs submitted to her will – and they did. She was a good mate of mine back in the day.

    Had to laugh about your ‘guy thing’. Tell ya a funny story, the editor once asked me to hold her bright pink handbag when she went into a public toilet. Now I keep a cool tool, but I looked at the editor and went WTF? This was a small country town where some folks who knew me may have spotted me, and there was no way I was going to stand outside a public toilet waiting for her holding a pink handbag. That was a step too far. Tongues would wag, and who wants to be the butt of jokes for the next three decades?

    Thanks for mentioning the Arthur film and I’ll check it out.

    The panniers were indeed big canvas bags. And they sat over the steel pack rack on my bike. I learned how to weld steel repairing that steel pack rack. The combined weight of the weekend newspapers was epic, and steel can only handle so much weight.

    The editor has set me up for a torture session this evening. She has been reading: “Marley and Me” and now wants to watch the film. Everyone who is anyone knows that the dog dies. Do I need to be reminded of this pain?

    Mordor!!! I don’t need to worry about what it would look like if volcanic vents opened, I’ve already seen that…

    Haha! I defer to your dust bunny wisdom. Mate, you might not think that I hear you, but I hear you!!!! 🙂

    The lesson bit was tacked on at the end just to give the essay some semblance of, I dunno, respectability. We’re never going to be respectable you know! Hehe! I thought that people needed the laughs. Mate the weekend newspaper read like a disaster plot, but a really B-grade one. Laughs seem like they were in order.

    Loggers stuff hiding in the long grass. That sort of nailed it, as the aluminium case on the lawn mower was cracked by that chunk of rusty iron. We always wear shin protectors when using that machine. A few years ago I fractured my leg when a chunk of timber flew out of the chainsaw and hit my shin at speed. It hurt, and I saw stars, but recovery was pretty quick and now I wear chaps. There are other softer body parts that could be injured…

    Hehe! Electric kiln – I never even thought of that beast. Hmm…

    Hey, speaking of onions, and respect for staggering the planting, some more of the onion seeds germinated today. I don’t have much experience with that crop. Have you been growing them for many years? Red and White are excellent choices. The White onions make for astounding salads.

    That is the thing with Strawberries, the weeds are easy to identify, but you just have to steel your heart and remove the healthy looking three year old plants. This is the first year we’re testing that theory. We’re going to do a quarter of the enclosure, but my limited math skills tells me that this is not nearly enough.

    The local wildlife folks tell me that Koala’s are adapting to the trees in my area, and I see no reason to dispute that observation. They’re really nice animals to have around as they just hang around the trees not bothering anyone. You just have to recall not to bother them as they have wicked looking claws and bad attitudes. I’d like to think that the trees on this property are better fed and watered than most which is why the Koalas are moving up here. The little fella that turned up all those years ago got the help that he needed – sad to say.

    It is always nice when a new-ish species of bird turns up for a feeding from the plants here. Hey, there are now six wheat seedlings. I’d call that a 50% growth rate. Maybe… I’ll pass on your positive feedback regarding the flower photos.

    Thanks for identifying the pink batchelor’s button. Thanks for the tip too on choosing colours. 🙂

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery for Eleanor, and may HRH be good to you in the meantime.



  3. Hi Chris,
    It’s not uncommon to have snow this time of year. Luckily it usually melts quickly. This snow was very pretty and short lived so all is good.

    I’m not terribly surprised at the situation at Gwen’s old residence. Staffing has always been an issue there and truthfully it’s really hard to get that particular population of people to practice good hygiene. She’s now in a group home of maybe seven people and they must stay home so she and Marty have had no contact for a month at least. All of us sisters have stated that we are happy Patrick and Michael didn’t have to go through this. Michael’s last residence was pretty large and Patrick would have been like a caged animal frankly and of course we wouldn’t be able to visit them either.

    People are showing quite an interest in gardening. My nephew who recently moved to a small town outside Las Vegas has been emailing me for advice as he wants to try to garden as the house he’s renting has some old raised beds. Of course the climate is totally different out there but I advise as well as I can. I’m happy he’s giving it a go. He has his own videography business which has mostly dried up so he has lots of time.

    Yesterday my book club met via Zoom after not meeting for two months. Of course we didn’t talk about our book “American Wolf” too much as there was much catching up to do.

    Enjoyed your dental story. There would never be a contest between me and Doug as I’m cursed with various dental issues though I take much better care of my teeth than Doug. We’ve had the same dentist for over 30 years though he’s now mostly retired. He sold his practice to his much younger partner but still works there at least one day a week. I’ve actually gotten out of my last two appointments without any additional work needed – something that doesn’t happen too often.

    I’ve both read the book and seen the movie, “Marley and Me”. Mostly it’s pretty funny until the end but then that’s life.

    Weather here pretty good but often too windy. Typical April weather with lots of ups and downs. The invasive plant, garlic mustard, has reared it’s ugly head but if I can get to it quickly it’s easy to pull. We have lots of stinging nettle here and I’ve been having nettle tea now in the morning and plan to try eating some as well. Also will dry some for tea for the winter. I’m happy to have some but I don’t need a field of it so some of that’s being pulled as well but one has to be pretty well covered to avoid the sting. Speaking of that I must sign off now to do some of that pulling.


  4. @Lew
    I am so sorry to hear about Eleanor. HRH is lucky to have you, a familiar face to fill in. Is she staying with you?


  5. Hello Chris
    Any mention of teeth makes me flinch even though mine are in good shape at present.
    Koalas do look sweet and cuddly though I realise that they are no such thing let alone the fact that they are afflicted with chlamydia.
    Our newspapers have also shrunk. Travel and sport being afflicted the most. Many of the adverts are ridiculous in the current context.
    I find that I just want to rant and rant about the nonsense here. Son went to pay 3 cheques into my bank account for me today. I had told him that it wasn’t permitted but he and others have not believed me. I was correct, the assistant had to get her superior. They finally allowed it because they recognised my signature and knew my son because he has an account there. I didn’t point out to him that he looks rather distinctive (very large, bearded and dishevelled) which is probably why they knew him. Those 3 cheques added up to less than £100 and they don’t want the elderly to leave their homes. It wasn’t trying to take money out! If they are worried about money laundering they could always place a limit of say £500. End of rant.

  6. Yo, Chris – The Restorer’s Barn looks real interesting. I thought it might be one of those “decor” places, like Restoration Hardware. But it’s more like an architectural salvage place, etc.. Most of our big cities have large architectural salvage companies. Even Centralia, had a small one. They specialized in renovating old claw footed bath tubs. But, also had a lot of other plumbing and lighting fixtures. Back when I refinished a lot of furniture, I always used an outfit called Van Dyke’s Restoration. I see they’re still in business. They have the “real” stuff for doing restorations. Where else would I find real rabbit glue, to repair furniture. Or, the appropriate fabric to replace the sound box on an old victrola? Or, the wrapped silk electrical cord, like they used in the 1920s. Need a piece of curved glass for your china cupboard? I see they’re still in business.

    If you get another wood oven, you might have to build a breezy summer kitchen 🙂 . Add it to the list …

    I think people are cracking under the strain. Some guy rampaged across Nova Scotia and burned down a lot of houses and killed at least 16 people. Another guy hijacked a bus in Texas. I think he was the only one killed. Stress, or just the usual background noise? I heard a report that some 5-G towers were burned down, in the UK. Because they spread the virus. Things are getting pretty nuts, out there.

    Yeah, the owl was way too rich for my blood. But, if I stumble into an op shop sometimes, and happen to spot one …

    Arsenic was used in the making of green colors. Things like fabric. Maybe Scarlett O’Hara shouldn’t have made that dress out of the green curtains, in “Gone with the Wind?” 🙂 . A book came out a few years ago. I haven’t read it, but was aware of it. “The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women” (Moore, 2017). Besides killing Madam Curie, the discoverer or radium, it killed a lot of women who painted those numbers on watches. Around WWI. They also painted a lot of numerals on dials for the war effort. Ladies used to use lead to whiten their skin. And it was used in paint. Lead white. Artists who sucked the ends of their paint brushes, to get a fine point, took in a lot of lead, cobalt and arsenic. If the plague didn’t get them …

    Eleanor’s daughter called me, this morning. Right now, she’ll be in hospital for a day or two, and then they’ll do an assessment to see if she needs to go to rehab, for awhile. The family would like to see her go to a nursing home, but, she’s fighting that. She was fretting about her mail piling up in her box, and, a package coming. With our postman as my accomplice, I took care of that. Probably a Federal offense. Called her daughter back to pass the word along.

    I think her daughter is a worrier too. Keeps banging on about how inconvenient it must be for me to keep HRH. I keep telling her, it’s not. “But you probably have things to do!” I told her I’ve been locked down for two weeks, and it doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere. If Eleanor goes to rehab, at that point, they’ll probably take the dog, and that’s fine, by me.

    I dawned on me, this morning, that she’s probably a little bored, so, I let myself into the apartment and retrieved a couple of her toys. What a reunion! 🙂 . Took the red bows out of her hair. Now she looks like she’s ready for the mosh pit.

    That is a funny story about the pink purse. Now, if you had a lot of chutzpa, you could probably carry it off. “It’s my wife’s purse. Look how useful it is! I might get one myself … but in a different color.” :-). Maybe, camo?

    But I haven’t been growing ANYTHING for years. It’s just dumb luck. And, I listen to you, and the other posters on the blog. Read stuff, watch DVDs and talk to the Master Gardeners. And, like my cooking, I’m not resistant to “Let’s give this a try.” The Jerusalem Artichokes are sprouting, and, it looks like the potatoes are bouncing back from their slight freeze.

    Well, you could make a real film festival of it. Next up: “Old Yeller!!!” Then onto “The Yearling”. But that’s putting down deer. That has some appeal. Lew

  7. Hello Chris
    I just made a complete mess with my comment when my broadband suddenly went down for a while so don’t know whether anything went through.


  8. Chris,

    No, my friend of TRS-80 fame never did BBS stuff.

    I think you nailed it…accountants deal with people, actual events in reality, practical things, almost on the level of “chop wood, carry water”. Economists have their heads in the clouds (or somewhere) and are so far removed from reality that it boggles one’s mind.

    Not sure if the panic buying has eased up or not, yet. I’ve seen 2 or 3 articles online that suggest that it has maxed out and is easing. I likely won’t go to a store until the weekend. What I SEE vs what I’ve read will be a good comparison.

    I’ve watched local crew teams practice. And of course watched the boats of varying sizes of crew members in the Olympics on TV. That is one brutal sport, the entire body must get fatigued.

    There were no lasting impacts from The Day I Met Patrick McManus. Dad was fine as soon as he got his wet shirts off. Well, okay, one permanent casualty: I had a chance to rescue the sail. I let the lake’s currents carry it into oblivion. Twas not the first time that fool thing had capsized, and I figured a 3rd time would’ve been fatal.

    Those smoke plumes look familiar. Our rural regions do much the same thing when burning is allowed.

    Getting into my Wabac machine, to when I was 10, I was running for class treasurer or some fool thing. I talked to all the other kids in my class, all of whom said they’d vote for me. Election results? Other person 25, DJ 2. I learned my Tooth-off lesson early on…

    Saturday was a particularly sunny and warm day. The air temperature achieved 17’C / 62’F and the sun shone from blue skies. It was a wonderful day to get a lot of work done in the gardens. Perspective, mate, perspective. Come October and my assessment of such a day will match what you wrote about it being cold.

    Those are great results from the test of the new solar system. Did that put your mind at ease somewhat? It should help with the dark of winter a bit, perhaps?

    Good job Plum! That dog is already paying for her keep. But some caution is on order. Eat what you kill, as indiscriminate messing about with the local wildlife could have nasty ramifications.

    But the New Collective has it figured out. Explore, hunt, eat, explore, run, fight, plunder, eat, sleep on the sofa so the humans can’t use the sofa. Repeat tomorrow.

    The Princess was so happy to see the koala picture. With the news we’ve seen about fires vs koalas, she was ecstatic when she saw the picture. Having also watched some of the videos when koala have turned nasty, her next thought was to tell you and the Editor to keep your distance from the potentially crabby koala critter. (Yes, even the Princess can get alliterative.)

    Funny! I was planning how I was going to plant the garden this year. I decided to plant the cold weather stuff soon and then a second seeding after a few weeks and then a final seeding in mid August. Then I read about how you plant the similar things. 🙂

    The spillbill looks interesting. As always, the flowers are spectacular and the pictures welcome. I really appreciated the leucodendron. I agree with Lew that the other flower looks like a pink bachelor button. So I looked it up and it may be that coneflowers and bachelor buttons are the same thing.


  9. Hi Chris,

    Terrific koala photo, was that you or the editor that snapped that happy guy?

    How are you going with The Earth Abides? I finished Lark Rise to Candleford (I hear there is a TV show as well, but not sure about that), some great anecdotes and stories from the end of the “rural peasant” period (1880s). Now I am onto an old book I found at the op shop on Sea Disasters. Great stuff, I love me a good sea disaster.


  10. Hi Lew,

    Thanks for the Roman souvenir link, the bowls that still had the enamel painting were quite nice. In movies and TV shows with centurions, I sometimes wondered if that six-pack armor was a stylistic choice, it looks pretty awesome. I would wear it 🙂


  11. @Alco44

    Your brother is too invested in the current system to truly take on board something like Kunstlers blog. Perhaps an open question might work as a prompt to get him thinking a little more? – I mean plenty of economists write very insightful things (Picetty comes to mind).

    I did a couple of first year ECON courses years ago, and there was a lot of useful stuff in there (balancing, limited and competing resources to satisfy needs/wants etc etc). It just seems to get extrapolated into complete nonsense. A cynic might suggest an economists true job is to act as technocratic justification for policies already decided upon! If you really want to rile your brother up, tell him you think trade is always a zero sum game 🙂


  12. Hi Margaret,

    It is amazing the difference half a world away can make, as snow here is usually well received, but it is likewise ‘very pretty and short lived’ and that sounds really lovely. 🙂 The other sort might be a bit more challenging…

    Oh, that makes an awful lot of sense on both counts. Never considered that aspect of the problem. Just before all the craziness went down, we had a Royal Commission into Aged Care Quality and Safety (which may incidentally include equivalent institutions such as Gwen and Marty reside). Some horrendous stories have been aired, and it not just aged folks that end up in such places. Do you miss having Patrick and Michael around? And lock down in such a place would be a bit like living in a prison – unfortunately. That would be hard to explain to Patrick and Michael.

    You aren’t wrong about that! Down here there have been runs on seeds and seedlings. I feel that it is not just driven by people wondering what to do with all the free time they now have. The stupid thing is that people were buying chili and tomato plants at the end of the season… There is a lot wrong there, but if they grow them inside under lights and near a heat source and also hand pollinate them, they might grow some fruit during winter. It is a lot of ‘ifs’ though. Hey, we discovered today inadvertently that dehydrating slices of green tomatoes produces red tomato chips – that taste exactly what you’d expect them to taste like (very tangy).

    Ah, Las Vegas, well if he gets enough daily sunlight, not too many frosts and can keep the water up, he might be OK. Personally I wouldn’t live there as future prospects are a bit – dare I say it – dicey, but that is me. Raised beds are a good idea in such a place, and maybe some shade cloth for when it gets to the other side of the summer solstice.

    Hehe! Been doing a lot of chatting via such avenues myself. I enjoy my quiet time, but I also like catching up with friends. And I seriously miss the local pub… Sad face emoji!

    If you’ve escaped your last two appointments without additional work, sounds to me like you’re doing something right. Anyway, you just let Doug know that the race is long indeed, and who knows where it will end. 🙂 Makes me think of stories about tortoises and hares. The editor has a secret technique though in that she picks off any plaque that builds on her teeth. Our saliva has calcium in it, and that is part of why plaque builds up in the first place. Not sure if I can do that to win, but it sure doesn’t hurt trying.

    I really liked the Marley and Me film, but it was a brutal ending. I may have had something in my eyes that was irritating them… 😉

    Wow! What a plant. I’ve never heard of such a plant before, and would just mow it and let the chopped up leaves produce better top soil, but that is down here. The plant is quite the pest in your part of the world! Oh my.



  13. Hi Inge,

    Well yeah, nobody enjoys going to the dentist, and so like you I tread warily and experience trepidation.

    Not all Koala populations are afflicted with Chlamydia and some populations are quite healthy. The Koala in the photo looked extraordinarily robust and prepared to take a swipe. In some parts of the state, Koala’s were introduced and with no natural predators, their populations have boomed. It is a complicated story, but I don’t fear for the Koala’s as any animal that can survive the awful treatment that we have afflicted on the environment so far, will probably do OK. We used to have marsupial native cats (Spotted Quolls) in this mountain range before the 1983 bushfires, but apparently they’re now done. I’d enjoy having them around and they used to live in the biggest of trees that had natural hollows. Such stories are one of the reasons I make optimal conditions for the very largest of trees. I learn more about these stories, the longer I’m immersed in them. I’ll bet you know a thing or two about your ancient forest?

    The newspaper had a travel section during the first week of the lock down. To my eyes the travel section looked bonkers, but that is merely my opinion. Last week it disappeared altogether as did the car and real estate section (although there were some high end real estate advertisements). I’m pretty sure that if I was a kid I could have filled those two panniers with the weekend newspapers…

    Feel free to rant. 🙂 I use the allegories to push my pet topics, and it is a whole bunch of fun for me and it shouldn’t be only me having the fun here! The privacy thing is a bit weird, but then some folks took freedoms to extremes and used such system weaknesses to do all manner of unscrupulous activities. As always there is middle ground that gets overlooked. Honestly what is going on right now looks to me like a flight to the extremes. And has anyone noticed the weirdness that is oil prices? There is the true story playing out.



  14. Hi Damo,

    The editor takes most of the photos nowadays – but not all of them, so you never really know who’s finger is on the Pentax Digital SLR button! Although the Koala was the phone camera. Just had to do a double take after typing all that because I wasn’t sure whether I was making a Chemical Brothers reference or a nuclear arsenal reference. You know, I’m leaning towards the Chemical Brothers: The Chemical Brothers – Galvanize. 55m views can’t be wrong…

    Curious. Do you know that I have absolutely no idea what you are talking about? What is this Lark Rise to Candleford that you speak of? I sense a story of greatness here.

    I was always very fond of the TV series All Creatures Great and Small, and of late I have had this strange feeling that I should re-watch it. But how to get the time to do so? I worked until after dark this evening, and have lined up a big job for next week. I’ll take that on the chin as part of the perils of being lean and mean in these times. It is a truth universally acknowledged, that the competent (and cheap), must be in want of work… 🙂

    You’ve strayed very much into ‘The Perfect Storm’ territory. Would you have gone down with the ship or taken to a life vest (not that it seemed to be of any benefit).



  15. Hello again
    ‘Lark rise to Candleford’ by Flora Thompson is a good read though again I read it long, long ago. I wasn’t keen on the television adaption but I never am fond of these.
    Oh my, the oil story is fascinating; who would have thunk it.
    I probably do know a lot about my ancient woodland even if I don’t put it into words. Few individual trees are ancient, some of the oaks maybe. The clay soil results in such very shallow rooting and the storms that come in take the trees down very easily. Also the ground being on the move down to the sea, doesn’t help. There are rare plants and unknowns but I now keep all this to myself.


    @ Lew
    My Jerusalem artichokes are coming through but they aren’t supposed to. I keep thinking that I have dug them all up but they eternally defeat me. I only want a few, not to have them everywhere.


  16. Hi Lewis,

    The place has changed over the years, but by and large the business provides nifty stuff for people to repair and/or refit out their period houses. Over the past few years I’ve noted that some items look a bit like reproduction items, but then if the originals can’t be found, what do you do? And like your expeditions into op-shops and auction houses, there are some serious bargains to be found and you never know when you’ll stumble across them. Did you used to have lucky-dips at fairs in your area? They don’t occur here nowadays, but back in the day they were a thing.

    Not sure that I’d use a wood oven over summer because as you cheekily note it would be a very hot experience. But over winter having a backup heat source with an oven wouldn’t be a bad idea. The wood oven used to cook at a really low temperature and you could forget about a loaf of bread for hours and it would produce stunning loaves with delightful crusts.

    There is a bit of cracks showing. Just heard someone call it all zombieville. Not sure that I’d agree with that, but the oil markets have actually lost the plot. Could things get any weirder? Probably… Regardless, six wheat seedlings have now popped up out of the ground. This is a good thing and represents a 50% improvement over the previous germination statistics. Plus I finally topped up the depleting reserves of oats! Yay for breakfast muesli. That is what I worry about.

    Worrying travels in families and I’m not really sure whether it is nature or nurture, but does it even matter? The ‘worrying’ outcome is a difficult proposition because it becomes second nature and mostly the stuff that people worry about never eventuates. And some people who worry a lot talk in circles and around and around the conversation spins – I’m not really built for such conversations. It is the stuff they aren’t worrying about that bites them hard. I take it from your words that Eleanor has stabilised a bit, and from my perspective if she is fighting off the prospect of being moved to a nursing home, then there is some good news right there. The ones that don’t fight get dragged off.

    I’ve made some brutal observations to people over the past few weeks that go along the lines of: What? So, you’ve got something better to do with your time? Brutal but effective. Some folks also use that circular worrying conversation technique as a way to offload responsibility, and make sure their side of that story never gets aired in public. It happens. At least HRH is in good hands and is probably having party time with you. 🙂

    Never put red bows on a dog myself, but a few years ago for the blog I did dress Sir Poopy up as the Christmas Sir Poopy. Seemed the right thing to do at the time. But red bows wouldn’t be very manly on Sir Poopy, and the two girlie sheep dog pups would probably rip them off each other. They’re right little terrors those two and have taken to shredding the kindling for the wood heater and spreading the stuff everywhere. I’m kind of OK with that as long as it doesn’t get out of hand on the basis that it is probably better than having them chew on the furniture. Go HRH, mosh away little lady!

    Actually, once or twice I did just hold the pink purse and waited for her outside the public toilet whilst trying to be cool. However, such things just don’t work in small country towns and people are happy to rib you about it and I don’t need the heckling. Anyway the editor incidentally was stirring me up doing that, lest I get a big head (hardly a possibility). Polite words were spoken and I just don’t get involved in secret women’s business. Not my place at all.

    Some of my jobs I’m working with people at receptions, and I’m cool with that. Sometimes blokes will enter the reception area, size me up and say: Where’s your skirt? It happens, but I don’t care I’ve got this great reply which took me a while to come to: “Yeah, good-on-ya!” And that ends the stupid business then and there. It doesn’t mean anything but it suggests that you hear them and dismiss their talk as inconsequential. Now, that’s cool and so far haven’t had any replies from that line.

    Hehe! Yeah, right! 🙂 Hehe! That was genuinely funny about haven’t been growing anything for years! 🙂 I’m still chuckling about it. Giving things a bash is the only way to completely stuff things up and learn firsthand why some things are done the way they are done. Too often books suggest to do things a certain way, but neglect to say why that may be and what other paths there are. But then, in all our experiments of just winging-it, we might just work easier ways out. The tried and true path I note, can also lead you off a cliff. 😉 I should trademark that quote. Surely I didn’t make it up? The best lines are usually other peoples – unfortunately, and we absorb them by osmosis.

    No! I know Old Yella dies, it just makes my eyes irritated and then they begin to water a bit – of course it might be that there is just a bit of pollen around at the moment. Maybe. 😉 That was the editors choice of film too. I think next time we might watch The Big Short (a fave film of mine).



  17. Hi DJ,

    Fair enough about your mate and the TRS-80. To be honest back in the day there were very few phone numbers to dial up with a modem. Share trading was one of the earlier uses of modems that I can recall (not that I ever got onto that bandwagon but know of people who did).

    Hehe! Chop wood, fetch water! It’s all a bit Mr Miyagi like don’t you reckon. Economists have to come up with increasingly strange theories and do they compare them to how they fit into the real world? Mate they boggle my mind too, but oh boy do they dislike accountants or what? There must be something in the water. I mean they’ve spent seven years as a group trying to make sense out of why people are getting poorer when incomes are stagnant and costs are rising. It is not a hard equation to understand, but then my mad cash doesn’t depend on not understanding why that situation causes people pain.

    What did you end up seeing at the supermarket? Things are getting a bit more normal here. Someone bulk bought toilet paper somewhere down here and then wanted to return it for a refund. Apparently they’d spent thousands on the stuff. Very strange. I still haven’t bought any toilet paper since the craziness began. The real craziness is going on in the oil markets.

    Rowing is a bit of a precision sport too and you have to work as a team. I preferred distance running myself, but there was little choice in the matter. Sports were compulsory.

    That sounds a bit top gun with the lost sail: You saw your shot, and you took it! I’d get rid of the thing too as the boat would be more stable without the top heavy sail.

    Hey your treasurer story sounds a lot like polling these days. Either they’re rigged, or people lie to them, or maybe both. Who knows? But it appears that they’re often wrong these days. Respect for knowing how to use the Wayback machine. 🙂

    It is weird isn’t it? Happens every year when the weather between here and there are running about the same. It was 20’C and sunny today – a really delightful day. And that makes six wheat seeds germinated. Yay!

    You’re spot on, I was a bit worried about how the new solar panels would work. They’re angled specifically for winter production, and as the systems gets bigger and more reliable, we use it more. There is a paradox in there somewhere, but it sure does take a bit of adjustment to learn to live with this technology.

    Little Bunny Foo Foo!!!! Awesome and slightly disturbing!

    No, the Koala’s are doing OK around here, and that Koala looked pretty healthy. The local wildlife folks tell me that they Koala’s are adapting to consume leaves of the local Eucalyptus trees and that is no bad thing because not much else can eat them. It is funny how if a population of something or other in the environment builds up enough, then something else comes along eventually to eat it. Respect for the rhyme!

    Only commercial growers need to get everything in the ground all at once. As a strategy it makes little sense for us who usually desire a longer harvest. Hey, we began dehydrating green tomatoes and they’ve ended up as crispy red tomato chips. There is mystery in there. I have read that green tomatoes have their full compliment of sugars, so the taste is good.

    I shall pass on the words of appreciation. Tis a pink bachelors button. 🙂 Dunno.



  18. @ Margaret – Yup. HRH and I are bunking, together. She’s the best behaved dog, in the whole world! Eleanor is having an assessment, today or tomorrow. If she can walk, she’ll come home. If not, she’ll go to rehab, for awhile. It that happens, the family will probably come and take the dog.

    They keep telling me that it must be an inconvenience, and I keep telling them, she’s not. I wouldn’t want to keep her forever, but two or three weeks would be no problem, on my part. Lew

  19. @ Damo – The Roman six pack armor seems like a bit of over-kill. Well, I suppose they didn’t have big pick up trucks, for male overcompensation, and had to come up with something 🙂 . The detail is startling. Nipples and navels? Really?

    But here’s a bit of Roman armor, you may not have seen much of. The parade masks. They find them all over the empire. I think they’re down right spooky.


  20. @ Inge – I keep my Jerusalem artichokes in a big wooden half barrel. So far, they haven’t gone over the wall. Lew

  21. Yo, Chris – Lucky-Dips? Have no idea what those might be. I haven’t been to a fair, in years, but went quit a bit as a kid. There were all kinds of carnival games, of chance. Sometimes, you won a live goldfish!

    I finally saw a gas price, here, the other day. $2.50 a gallon for regular. It’s probably cheaper, a lot of other places. We have some of the highest State gas prices, in the nation. Gotta fund those freeways, tunnels and ferry boats, somehow!

    HRH and I, bump along. She was pretty miffed at me, last night. She begs, when I eat. So, as I had dinner in front of the computer, last night, I closed the bedroom door on her. Boy, was she upset! Sulked and pouted for the rest of the evening. Too bad, so sad. She gets a treat before or after dinner. But not during.

    “The tried and true path, might also lead you off a cliff.” Might be a quote from that great hippie philosopher, Ashleigh Brilliant. 🙂 . He was quite popular, during the 1960’s and 70’s. Saw his plaques and signs, everywhere. His books were popular.

    And, now for our daily TP, report. My friends in Idaho, went on a grocery shop, up to McCall. Which is a resort area, north of them. Like your rich end of the mountain. That grocery store had a MOUNTAIN of packs of toilet paper. And, the paper products aisle was jam packed.

    NPR (National Public Radio) website had an interesting article about the Charmin company. They make toilet paper, paper towels and baby nappies. Of course, they’re running 24/7. But the article was mainly about the policies they’ve put in place to keep their workers healthy. And, it’s being copied by a lot of other industries. Worker’s temps are checked when they come to work, everyone wears a mask, the the shop floor, compartmentalized by color. So there’s not much interaction between groups of workers. They’ve also created a real sense of pride, in everyone staying healthy.

    We have another virus case in the county. So, we’re up to 22. They added something to the health department web page, that’s kind of interesting. A chart of distribution by age. Here, it’s a pretty even spread across all age groups. Lew

  22. Yo, Chris – PS: A couple of trailers I forgot to mention. “Flipped”, which looks a bit like a comic take on “Grand Designs.”

    And, “The True History of the Kelly Gang.” Which, as the reviews point out, is pure fiction. Looks to be a bit weird and odd, but might be worth a look. Maybe. Lew

  23. Alco44
    Greetings Damo
    Thanks for the coaching. 😁 The phone conversation with my brother went well. I led into the topics of US misguided offshoring of manufacturing of everything to China for 30 years and that the cascading downward crash of the economy was apparently truly happening. Amazingly his position on both was that I had been right in my previous arguments.☺️
    Particularly that the lack of control on stockpiles of medical consumables and equipment was a big screw up.

    He always has some interesting observations to offer.
    One was that in both the college towns of Moscow Idaho and Pullman Washington the population suffers from from various flu, colds, and other maladies carried buy students returning from spring break. This year the cancellation of the remainder of the school year at the beginning of the break has led to the avoidance of that situation. A little good from bad.
    Thanks also for the mention of Thomas Piketty who I hadn’t heard of .I will study up on the Wikipedia article about him and drop the name when the brother and I talk some more. He we’ll be shocked that an Ole dirty shirt construction electrician is aware of such folk!

    Cheers Al

  24. Hi, Chris!

    Our local newspaper is about 80% advertisements, and is a lot thinner, too. This happened when it was bought out by a big conglomerate. Before that it was a great little newspaper.

    What a neat smokes photo. Mordor is a perfect analogy.

    They don’t report on take-away waste because they themselves are having take-away; who wants to be a hypocrite? And for some reason they think that people are hungry to hear about nothing but disease and mayhem. It really perplexes me. I don’t watch TV news, or read newspapers (see above), and I only occasionally look at internet news. If it is important enough, someone always lets me know. I do look at our local news online now before I go into town so I won’t get myself inadvertently into trouble. I thought I might do so yesterday as all of a sudden almost everyone else was wearing masks or bandanas and I was not.

    In a Tooth-Off, runner up is still pretty good when one is trying to keep up with such high standards as the editor sets. Just you wait and see – someday you will both be old and her teeth will fall out first.

    What an interesting eye hook and chain. Good for you with your 52 amps.

    The moment is about to arrive when all 3 dogs will no longer fit on that couch. Keep an eye out for a bigger couch.

    I appreciate your strawberry advice. Ours are loaded with tiny strawberries. I have my plastic forks at the ready. My son has other ideas and I can’t wait to hear what they are. I’m sticking with the forks.

    What a great koala photo. And that’s one fat frog.

    It sure looks like a pink cornflower to me. Are kangaroo apples poisonous? They look like some poisonous wild tomato relatives that we have here.

    I am spending a lot of time this spring moving crowded plants to other spots in the garden or, in a few cases, out about the property if the deer don’t – supposedly – eat them. This is great because we have a lot of extra plants this year. I am giving some away to neighbors, too.


  25. @ Margaret:

    Our youngest son has planted up a bunch of pots of flowers and set them on the front porch of his rental house; he has done a really lovely job. He is one who has never been interested in gardening, unlike our older son, who is a gardening nut like me.


  26. @ Lew:

    Poor Eleanor; she has had such a hard time lately. I am glad that you already knew HRH so well.

    In the county next to us, which is a cheaper place to live, we saw gas for $1.32. Around Charlottesville it was 10 cents more.


  27. Chris,

    I think an economist would take the Miyagi method of “chop wood, carry water”, and come up with a theory about how “chop water, chop more water, it will carry itself and wood is not required” would be a better training strategy. I took an introductory economics class at university, at the end the prof suggesting that I had done so well that I should major in econ. I thanked him but said that I liked things that made sense like quantum theory, seismology or astrophysics a lot better. He laughed and asked me to say hi to my father, who taught physics there.

    Supermarket trip comes at the end of this week. I’ve stayed away for over a week now. If I see any paper products at Safeway, much less a huge supply like Lew’s friends saw in McCall, then I MIGHT think that some of the panic buying is slowing down. I’ll let you know what I find…or don’t find.

    Oil markets are crazy. Don’t tell Lew, but I filled up the Princess Carriage at Chevron on Monday at $2.20 per gallon BEFORE I got $0.60 per gallon discount due to Safeway points. West of the Cascade Mountains often is more expensive than we are.

    I felt sorry for Nate Silver at 538 after Trump won. All people saw was the final number he posted that had Hillary at nearly a 60% chance of winning. They didn’t THINK, because that meant Silver gave Trump a 40% chance of winning, which is pretty significant. And nobody READ his notes: due to the lag in information that he got with his method, and because the trend for weeks had been that Trump’s numbers were rising and Hillary’s plummeting, he actually stated that he saw the election as a 50-50 toss up. But he got roasted, in my mind unfairly. The other pollsters? They deserve the lack of trust from the public, and the media is so uneducated about what statistics mean that they make the situation worse.

    Seed germination…I had some very old seeds a few years back. My research suggested that the viability of the seeds diminishes yearly, but takes a long time to disappear. Sort of a half-life idea. Different plants, different seed half-life, but I’d usually expect maybe 20% of 6 year old seeds to sprout. Maximum, at least based on what I read. However, my experiences have a slightly higher success rate. How the seeds are stored may have something to do with it, too.

    On purses…The Princess refuses to take her purse into some loos, so DJ the Hero, aka DJ the Vincible (as opposed to invincible, which DJ most decidedly is not), aka DJ the Viking, has often been spotted in public holding her purse. Even a pink one on occasion. I view it as a badge of honor, and nobody as EVER said a word.

    Yes, there is an element of the Little Bunny Foo Foo story that is disturbing. I mean, a fairy just waiting around, watching, for somebody to screw up, and then levy an unspeakable punishment? Sorta like Santa Claus, with his arbitrary list of who’s naughty and who’s nice? Who died and elected him Supreme Decider of Goodness and WHY is he watching us all the time? Creepy!

    I might have to try growing some tomatoes this year. Neither of us are big on them, but maybe the dried green ones would be good. And I can always try pickling a few, see how I like those. Or learn how to use them for sauces, etc. Always good to add to a stew or an omelet.

    It might be a pink coneflower. 😉

    Very windy today. Supposed to rain later tonight into late morning. We need it. Normal rainfall for now is 12 inches since October 1. We’re at about 9.75 inches and heading into the dry season.


  28. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for mentioning the blog and I will check it out after replying to everyone tonight.

    Strange days, indeed. The oil games being played do not lend me any comfort. Fossil fuels are a gift from the past, and we may have inadvertently abused the gift – not understanding that the lotto can only be won once. Oh well.



  29. Hi Lewis,

    Lucky dips were a strange arrangement at fairs where you paid for the opportunity to put your hand in a box and return with something. The something which from memory may have been a ticket, correlated to winning a prize of some sort. Of course such simple rackets were run by the carny folks, and it is worth noting that they are canny and cannot but operate at other than a profit. But you know, when you’re young, you have to be in it to win it.

    Which reminds me that years ago I heard someone proclaiming that a particular person was akin to a showbag. Now showbags are things you buy at fairs that are usually full of some chocolate or candy and other odds and ends plastic rubbish. The inference in the comment was that from the outside the showbag looked good, but inside it was full of shite! 😉 Very cheeky…

    Showbags are a bit of a thing at the Royal Melbourne Show and I guess that is what fills in the gaps when the original agricultural and craft purposes disappeared in the past. They’re still there, but for city folks I’m guessing that the agricultural pursuits are not the central idea for attendance.

    Mate, I’m sort of feeling sorry for the poor live goldfish won. Yeah the future might not be so good for the fish.

    Petrol prices are a bit weird here too. I paid about $1/litre today which is beyond cheap (not that long ago it was $1.70/litre). Remember that there are 3.8 litres to the US gallon. Your math skills are up to the challenge, mine are a bit weak. 😉 You and I both know this oil thing is not a good thing and may rebound.

    Eleanor may have trained the recalcitrant HRH to poor habits. The Fluffy collective will beg for table scraps in any and all conditions. Is this behaviour that is fit for polite society? I think not. Need we invite canines to table in the old school meaning of that word? It seems an important question, but at times I succumb to the incessant demands, if only to curry favour. Is this weak on my part? Maybe…

    Incidentally, only the most intelligent of dogs can turn out a proper and righteous sulking-of-their-socks-off. Who knows, perhaps HRH is smarter than you and conducting subtle experiments on you? There are a lot of assumptions in your understanding of canine-human relations. Hashtag just sayin. I used to joke saying that Old Fluffy the former boss dog was put on this planet by aliens just to conduct subtle experiments on us foolish humans.

    How have I not heard of Ashleigh Brilliant before? Such is the woeful state of education these days! And the concept of an epigrammatist was another subject not covered anywhere. Thanks for plugging in the gaps. Makes a person wonder what other aspects are lacking? Probably lots, but we make do as best as we can. I have nothing but respect for a person considered a: ‘Wise Old Man of the Mountain’. One may ask for more in life than that title, but can their aims be considered anything other than wrongheaded? 😉

    I smell ginger emanating from the kitchen, and this root must preside over dinner? Noodles and vegetables I believe. Yum!

    Thanks for the TP report from afar! 😉 Yes, local production has caught up upon demand, and then over taken it. There is something quite ironic in that it is the stuff to wipe our bottoms as being one of the locally produced items these days… It was not always thus!

    In TP reports from down under: Coronavirus hoarder tries to return $10,000 worth of goods to Adelaide supermarket. Earlier today I was at a fresh food market, and I was stirring up a guy I know about how hoarders will try and bring back mouldy beans six months down the track and ask for a refund. Yeah, sometimes my humour falls flat, but we had a laugh all the same…

    Oh yeah, there is a narrative building about how we can actually do things. So I’m hoping that people get off the couch, take a pay cut (or suffer from a horrendous exchange rate, or is that an horrendous exchange rate – not really sure) and begin making useful stuff again. We can’t make it back to where we once were on that front, but an improvement on that front wouldn’t hurt.

    Whilst I was running a huge number of errands today (and had a lot of interesting conversations in the process – some quite surprising and unexpected) I had to pickup some headphones. In these days I have to communicate with some folks via way of computers, so headphones it is. Quarantini’s may be involved…

    If headphones it must be, I might as well enjoy some high fidelity, and old electronic geekery habits are hard to shake. So I got some Beats headphones by none other than Dr Dre. Now, you’re probably going what? Dr Dre has a bizarre link to Australian radio, because the local youth radio was the only radio station in the world that used to play the band. Their album got to number 17 in your country despite not receiving any airplay. And the people at the youth radio station down here allegedly got sacked for playing the song on repeat for 24 hours and walking out on strike over concerns about censorship. It is an interesting story: How N.W.A.’s most notorious hit almost ended up in the bin. Anyway, one of the members of the band now has a lucrative side line in electronics, and here we are today!



  30. Hi Pam,

    Yes it is awful to try and pay the bills without corporate sponsorship, although the film ‘Fight Club’ hinted at many dark possibilities on that front. Fortunately we are all genteel folks and above board and would not stoop to such practices. 😉 I assume that back in the day you too would have had the local classifieds in the newspaper or as their own newspaper? Such simpler times, but I do have to admit that text descriptions of second hand items often were more figments of people imaginations as distinct from the actual item being sold. As the early negotiations used to occur over the phone, you sort of gained experience in feeling out the bulldust quotient over the phone and then could make a gut feeling decision as to whether you were about to waste your time or not.

    A lot of the rural newspapers have apparently just bitten the dust – and that ain’t bulldust I be speaking about.

    Thanks. It would be really scary if a volcanic vent suddenly appeared on the side of the mountain, but also really awesome, but kind of bad too. I feel mixed feelings when confronted by the power of nature. It’s complicated!

    I tell you a funny thing, I spoke to a lovely young lady today who in a furtive, but also forthright manner told me that she thought that the whole thing was not worth it. I’m kind of glad to hear that people are considering return-on-investment views, especially younger folks. It kind of reminds me of my own expensive education which from time to time does make me wonder whether the expense has returned a good earnings. If the expense and time required was not so great, I might have missed that particular point or methodology of analysis. It’s possible. Nowadays I tend to suggest people are better getting a trade via way of apprenticeship, and the future world will most certainly need more fitters and turners than accountants.

    From what I understand, the bandana’s won’t do them any good you know. However, and you already guessed this – look like you fit in and have a story ready to hand.

    Hehe! The tooth race is long indeed. Victory shall be mine, and at that time we shall dine upon mushed peas with a side serving of invalid stout. Mind you, it sounds rather unappetising as a dinner.

    The solar power system is a fascinating analogy for civilisation, and as a long term reader, you’ll probably have noted that every year I have to do something to that system. It reminds me of a rat on a treadmill running hard and staying in the same place. Yes, despite all my rage I am still but a rat on a treadmill. There’s worse places to be, and I hear from Damo that the lockdown in New Zealand is far worse than here – they can’t even get take away coffees. That is when you know civilisation is in serious trouble.

    We’re onto that and are transitioning Ruby and Plum to another sheet lined couch. Ollie will appreciate the quiet time because they chew on his ears. It must hurt because sometimes they are suspended by their teeth off his ears. Ouch!

    Forks are good, but I’m still curious to learn what experiments your son is conducting with the plants. The race is long… Nothing sufficed here other than a steel cage. I doubt I could out produce the demands from the local wildlife for those berries. Harvested about a dozen persimmons today. Fuyu variety.

    I’d like to suggest that the Koala was happy being photographed, but that would be stretching the truth. We were happy photographing the Koala!

    Thanks for the confirmation on the plant identification. The leaves sure would be toxic with the Kangaroo apple, but the ripe fruit is not poisonous (from what I understand) it just tastes a bit soapy. The unripe fruit however is apparently poisonous though. The plants would most certainly be related to yours.

    Hey, it is that time for moving plants, although I hope you are getting plenty of rainfall so that the plants get well established? Or have the hoses made an appearance? The past few weeks have been dry here, although there is plenty of groundwater due to heavier falls earlier in the season.



  31. Hi DJ,

    Mate, did you just come up with a new economic theory: Modern Wood Theory? Of course the theory as you quite rightly point out is predicated on the ‘who gives a stuff’ premise. As you also point out, it was unwisely and carelessly handed down the ages and past the wise old ‘wash on, wash off’ economic pragmatists. The MWT roughly translates as: ‘it really, really sounds good as a theory’, whilst also justifying the current ‘all doesn’t matter school of economics’. I’m personally very disturbed that they might try water chopping and achieve something other than getting splashed.

    Hehe! What a great story, and you dodged a bullet there. It is also nice to be able to realise where one’s talents lay. I would have made an awful economist, whilst spouting unpopular views. It would be like breaking wind in high society. People would mutter under their breath and then we would never be asked back.

    Apologies, of course thank you for the correction. Went today myself to the supermarket in a long series of administrative stops. It was almost normal other than the crosses on the ground indicating just how much distance one person has to keep from another. The queue to the cashier was short, but moved in a sort of measured jolt (cadence was not to be found in such a place). I find I have to do administrative days like today as it keeps the household smoothly operating, and the administrative load a household is required to deal with can be quite burdensome. It wasn’t all pain though, and I had a lot of good chats along the way. People are very chatty these days – and for good reason. I await to read your report on the situation.

    Lewis might read your comment – especially since you so named him!!! I’m sure he knows. 🙂 Hey, I paid $1/litre today which is very cheap considering that not long ago it was $1.70/litre. Can’t speak for a Chevron, but the dirt mouse Suzuki has a 37 litre fuel tank (under 10 gallons) and today after filling up the range meter was displaying 692km (that’s 430 miles). Not bad at all that beast.

    Oh well, that is the perils of being a political guess statistician, but many called it against your current President and they were quite wrong in that regard. Brexit suffered a similar fate in the polls. Statistics deals in probabilities, and understanding what that means exactly is something that is not taught or highlighted to the public. I enjoyed statistics as it was a form of practical math, and not particularly challenging. People however want absolutes, and the world is not under any obligation to provide such things.

    Exactly, the seeds can survive quite long periods of time, but not all, and you never know what the viability will be – although the local gardening club tests and provides that data on the seed packets. Counted ten wheat seedlings today. I do hope that they are not grass seeds blown in with the wind… What a fine joke that would be. Imagine the sort of environmental stresses back in the day that selected for seeds that could survive several years until the right conditions came along.

    I doff my hat to you whilst noting that you are cooler than I with the purse holding! Respect and it is a badge of honour.

    Yeah, like what is bugging the fairy? Had bunny foo crossed an unseen line and entered the land of the elder folks? Tricksy they are, prank they must (said in best Yoda voice). There is a lot going on in that video. It is actually a bit of a moral hazard when you think about it further. I do wonder why the fairy actually has higher powers, and whether the golden rule applies equally to the fairy? It is possible. The golden rule is a neat way of ensuring that any higher entities of any stripe don’t have to overly bother themselves with monitoring other entities activities – they’ll do it themselves. I hate micro-management. As a technique it probably doesn’t work too well with other people telling me how to do my job! Hehe! Fortunately it rarely happens. And what did the fairy get out of smiting the bunny? Surely it would not have been cost free for the fairy? So many questions… Very few answers.

    Hey, have you tried pickling cucumbers, dill seeds and onions in white vinegar? Yummo! You might find that you like dehydrated tomatoes (not semi-sun-dried, but fully chip like) in omelettes.

    That’s another cornfirmation!

    Did you get the rain? It was a superbly sunny and cool day here today.



  32. Yo, Chris – Odds are always with the house. 🙂 . Would have been nice if the Show Bags had a couple of nice packets of seed, in them, back in Ye Olde Days.

    Well, so far, begging at table is about the only bad habit HRH has. Last night, she didn’t come begging. Of course, dinner was pretty uninteresting … I heard something from one of Eleanor’s grand daughters. That actually, either her extended family can’t have dogs, or, really don’t want to take on a dog. I thought about it, last night, and won’t let her go to an unenthusiastic home, or, worse, the pound. Getting the cart way before the horse, but at least my minds made up, in the event. First order of business? Ditch the pink collars and get, oh, I don’t know. Maybe black leather! With spikes!

    Yeah, what’s wrong with education, these days? When’s the last time you heard a little kid say, “I want to be an epigrammatist, when I grow up! It’s a niche, but an empty one. Well, one day, you’ll make a great Wise Old Man of the Mountain. And, you’ve already got the mountain! Pilgrims will come from afar, to visit you in your mountain erie. Tales will be written about their journey’s. (See: Canterbury Tales.)

    Thanks for the Daily Australian TP Report. Sometimes, there’s justice. Hoarders get bit in the bum. By the way, I watched the report at the bottom of that article, by the folks from “4 Corners.” So clear, so lucid. Compared to here. The shots of the empty cities were startling. Like something out of those end of the world films, I’m so fond of. But, I got to thinking about it, and we’re just so fragmented, here. You’ve got 6 States and 2 major Territories. We’ve got 50 States and 5 major Territories.

    “Actually do things.” I don’t pay much attention to the local newspaper, but do check it out on line. I’ve been collecting Eleanor’s papers, and was looking at some of the ads. There’s a place I pass, every time I go to the Club. Didn’t pay much attention. Just looks like a used furniture and appliances place. But, they are so much more. The ad says they carry parts and do repairs. Interesting, and something to keep in mind. The name of the place is “D. B. Cooper’s” :-). Which is kind of a joke. D. B. Cooper was a kind of Northwestern folk hero. Do a Wikipedia search for the tale. I think it was in the 1960s or 70s. A mysterious guy hijacked an airliner, demanded (and got) a large amount of cash. The plane took off and, at night, in the middle of an electrical storm, he bailed out with a parachute, somewhere over the wilds of SE Washington State. Never to be seen or heard from again. Mostly.

    I was following your conversation with DJ about wheat viability. I remembered some old tale about wheat from an Egyptian tomb, being sprouted. But, it turns out that story was bogus (FAKE NEWS!!!). But here’s the record holders for viability.

    By the way, I have a couple of beets that were stray from last year. They’ve been growing all winter, and, are now about to flower and seed. One’s a cylinder beet, and the other is called “Ox Blood.” Has fantastic colorful foliage. Very tasty. I was talking to the Master Gardeners about saving seed, and they wondered if they were a hybrid. So, I looked it up. Both are Heritage, open pollinated varieties. So, I think I’ll bag the heads, as soon as the seeds set. And then plant one of them in another bed. Right now, they’re only separated by about 6 feet.

    Keep the epigrams flying! Lew

  33. Chris:

    Smashing Pumpkins? Used to love those guys. In fact, one of the few concerts I ever went to was Smashing Pumpkins, for my 40th birthday.

    We have been getting plenty of rain, but for the past 2 months the wind has blown almost every day, often at 15 mph, all day long. This is not usual for us. So, the hoses come out, too. The wind seems to dry things out faster than the sun.

    Looking through the classified ads used to be a hobby of mine.

    We have those arrows at some of our stores. It took me two times, going the wrong direction, before I noticed them. I wondered why everyone was frowning at me. I can’t seem to play by the rules . . .


  34. Hi Chris,

    Hmm, die quickly or slowly? I would probably take the drowning option in the perfect storm. Rescue is just not going to happen in that scenario, and I imagine getting tossed about, even with a lifebelt, would end up drowning you anyway. However, if they had one of those inflatable, round raft things, well – I would try my luck in that! You just never know. From memory, those events took place in 1992, and I don’t think EPIRBs were a thing. So the raft thing would still mean most likely death, but there would be a chance!

    I note you dodged the question of who took the koala photo! Not a bad pic for a phone. And you can never go wrong with Chemical Brothers. I never got into the dance/rave scene, but I still do enjoy some of the music which bubbles out of that corner of society.


  35. Hi Lew,

    Those parade masks are a bit freaky aren’t they? I wonder if they look “normal” to roman citizens of the day, or if the idea was to be a little scary and intimidating?

    I never thought about the recycling aspect of armour – makes sense, that stuff is hideously expensive to make back then. Maybe it made the soldiers feel more “belonging” to the institution. This served good ol’ Rufus for 15 years, bless him. May I live up to his deeds!


  36. Hi Al,

    Good luck with your name dropping! Sounds like your brother might be slowly coming around to more sensible viewpoints?


  37. Hi Chris

    Koala to gang of three at bottom of his tree:

    “ Hey youse blokes! yeh down there. Don’t Bark at me! Don’t growl at me! If you see me on the ground stay the h**l away from me! See dees Claws OoooK you Got Dat”

    Our local paper and lots of others. Same dire straits they reduced the page count, stopped Saturday edition, daily admonishment to the reader ship to be sure to log to your account to receive their Digital Edition included in the subscription. They are getting ready to dump the print version. I Think soon. The digital version I one of the worst I have ever tried. My present rate is $6.90 / week. Delivered The Kindle rate for the Seattle Times is $9.00 / mo. Which I take already.
    I’ll find my own local news. Lately it’s All “Corona death and avoidance report daily edition”🙁

    Tooth Off needs a prize! dinner and a Movie for the Winner.
    Oh wait Al that’s thats every night! Quarantine Time. HE HE

    You mentioned generally Solar is a near constant money sink.
    Awhile back I got the idea that your battery bank was going on 10 years or so of service. Is that all cells.Or is there a periodic Failure and replacement involved? What is the Replacement cost per each cell?

    In your power test the 52 amp delivered through the Charge Controller calcs at approximately 2.5 kw. Plus at 48 to 56 volts
    Was your fixed load the electric oven Plus the battery charge load?
    Geek questions😁

    Cheers Al

  38. Hi Lewis,

    Chocolate, lollies and unusual and mostly useless plastic crap was the sort of thing found in such bags. They used to be advertised to punters with a claim that the bag included x dollars of stuff. x is a variable that is possibly a bit fiddled with… Inflated might be a word that could get thrown around in impolite company, but fortunately we’re not in such heady social spaces right now. 😉 All part of the carny lifestyle, and people expect it, and just hope the chocolate is within the used-by dates. I worked once for a company that offered chocolate to their customers and I heard from the marketing folks that they’d scored the stuff on the cheap as it was considerably beyond its used by date by a few years. Free lunches and ill fitting expectations, and all the stuff that is legend. 🙂

    Mate, I’ve pointed out to be people that for the house to have a house, they have to win. Seems obvious, but people rarely consider that aspect of the situation. And then they don’t believe me. What do you do? I tend to leave them be nowadays, if people wish to do such things it is no problem of mine.

    Dogs sense of smell is so far developed past our own meagre senses that HRH probably knew more about your dinner than you did! The fluffies always try it on, but they have to work before being rewarded. Today was a day of canine spew. Only Scritchy has not spewed and the day is not yet finished. Ollie woke me up before day break having a chunder. He’d eaten bones yesterday and I’m guessing he finished Plum’s and Ruby’s bones as well. Then I had to take Plum and Ruby to the vet to get their final vaccination shots. Turns out they like living here, and probably thought that we were dumping them – so both of them displayed the contents of their stomachs in the back of the Dirt Rat Suzuki on the way to the vet. Fortunately I’d guessed that to be a probable outcome and put down sheets. Of course I ended up with some of their second hand breakfast on my jeans and t-shirt. But here is the bright side! Most businesses now have hand wash, and the vet was no different. At least the stuff got put to a good use. We have 7 cases in this entire Shire area.

    Yeah, pimp-my-dog is the order of the day! Definitely black with studs. Very 1977 Sex Pistols and all that stuff. I salute your excellent taste in doggie accessories. And HRH could not end up in a finer home.

    Mind you, when I had Old Fluffy the Pomeranian who was a former boss dog, when taking her on walks, unknown women used to approach me and ask to take a photo of her. When she was younger she was very accommodating to such requests whilst being very photogenic. They’d didn’t know the true little horror that she was. Oh yeah, she was one bad apple, but at the same time she was a good mate, and when she decided to get her act together and be a proper boss dog, she was outstanding. Never experienced a better boss dog than her, but she had to decide for herself to do that job.

    Hehe! Oh you’re good! 😉 Well, if other people tell kids that they can be either actual Princesses or Superheroes, then they might wreck that ship upon the rocky shores of reality. Any kid who came up with the ambition you cited, would already be halfway there – and probably smarter than the rest of us combined!!!! One has to have a mountain in the first place, and then know when to high tail it outta civilisation. Artists cannot create in all that noise you know! Thanks for the reminder, my education is sadly lacking and Canterbury Tales was not on that reading list. It is a poor civilisation that alienates history.

    How strange is it that our government broadcaster is lucid and has the funds and independence to investigate issues? Unfortunately, old aunty has been under funding attack for that very reason, although it has the support of the populace. The youth radio national broadcaster is under that umbrella and they really do support independent music in a way that encourages creativity. A few years ago they gave a platform for unsigned artists to get a foot in the door, and the results have been nothing short of astounding.

    Your country is not a contiguous culture. It has fractures and such things are not necessarily bad things. It all depends on whether the centre chooses to exert authorita. Is such an act tyranny? I’m not sure myself. The culture down here is fairly consistent across the continent and that goes for folks benefiting from it and those that aren’t. Plus over an equivalent sized land mass you have 13 citizens for every one of ours. It is a very quiet interior in this country.

    A truly epic rabbit hole, and one I enjoyed immensely. Never heard of D.B. Cooper before, but mate I’m unlikely to forget such chutzpah. Well done him, a right gentleman and daredevil too. What really fascinates me is that you live in a country where there are enough suspects with the skills to have pulled off such a feat! You have to admit that the bloke had cojones? Such people are put on the planet to befuddle us and inspire a sense of awe and show us our system weaknesses. Respect.

    Oh! Some annual plants can if conditions are in their favour grow from one season to the next. I’d be saving seed from such plants are they are ideal for your climate and soil. I’m not too fussed by hybridisation, as you never know what new aspects of the plants will be successful. But mostly I stick to old school open pollinated varieties – and they seem tough as. One issue I have had with seed saving over the past couple of years is that sometimes the birds take a liking to some particular seed – and perennial rocket is one of those, but it grows like a weed so the birds are probably also spreading the seed around the place. Doesn’t seem any shortage of it in the garden, but in the seed storage box, well that’s another story!



  39. Hi Pam,

    Oooo! A blast from the past, and yes, you guessed correctly! I envy you your experience and would have enjoyed it as well. Yah! The world is a vampire, set to drain… Had a few experiences like that recently – unfortunately.

    The wind is not your friend in a vegetable garden and it sucks the moisture from the soil surface. I wonder what it means? Have you experienced such windy conditions before? The wind rarely blows here, but when it does it is a reminder of how we are part of a larger system and just have to fit in with it. The wind can bring down the big trees here and that would be one heck of a clean up job. Ook!

    Hey, you never knew what you might find in such a classified ad. Better than having a hobby which is making lists! Although I kind of like lists… It’s confusing these days. 🙂 Back in the day we had a city wide newspaper called ‘The Trading Post’ and it was the place to buy and sell stuff. The interweb killed that off.

    Ah well, you can’t please everyone. But have your stores got toilet paper? That seems to be the important question these days! Actually the supermarket was pretty quiet yesterday, back to normal – other than no stock cubes. What’s with that? Nobody seemed interested in them before.



  40. Hi Damo,

    Mate, you have answered the awful question left hanging by a thread at the end of the film. Davy Jones’ Locker takes all in such a storm. I had wondered, but never thought to ask. But yeah timing was not good for the crew to get one of those inflatable round things out into the water, and the waves were epic. Have you ever been on a boat in a big storm? The crossing on the ferry from Kangaroo Island to the South Australian mainland was a brutal trip. Fortunately I don’t suffer sea sickness, but spare a thought for the poor editor who passed out – as did most of the other passengers. Not a bad option really. Asleep or unconscious, or whatever, they looked less concerned than I was.

    Mind you have tried the trip on the ferry from Wellington to Picton? The front of the ferry looked to me as if was plunging into the ocean. And the toilets needed more than just a quick clean (didn’t go myself), but I just sat and watched the spectacle. Didn’t seem like much else you could do in the circumstances.

    Apologies, it is not in my nature to be mysterious. The photo was taken by the editor on the phone. Actually I thought the colours looked a bit washed out, but the detail was superb. The original photo is in 13 megapixel, but due to the interweb not having unlimited space, I convert all images to 1024×768. A bit 486-DX really, but what do you do? I try to avoid corporate sponsorship and might not have the ability to pull off a ‘fight club’ like sponsorship deal…

    Yeah, The Chemical Brothers were fairly well played on the radio, but I never liked the rave / dance scene either. Couldn’t hack the late nights, and my reputation as a piker was known in advance. Full time work and part time Uni will do that to a person. I much preferred pubs and bands. From time to time I hear from my mates of those days. Time is an interesting thing.



  41. Hi Al,

    That’s funny! The Koala would be able to hold its own against the fluffies, as Koala’s have wicked claws. I dunno how long you’ve been reading, but way back in the day Sir Poopy the now deceased Swedish Lapphund, actually alerted me to the fact that a Koala was outside the front door and requesting assistance. Now where was that blog: How much can a Koala Bear? Poor little fella had to be euthanized unfortunately as he had a lump in his oesophagus. However, it sure was a surprise to see a koala at the front door.

    The same thing is going on here, and it is like that Stephen King novel: Thinner. Not good for the newspapers and as a hint: It don’t end so well! I don’t subscribe to digital newspapers as I try to limit my screen time.

    Exactly, have they nothing better to report about? I’m down to scanning the headlines for interesting articles.

    Hehe! You’re on fire. I remarked to someone yesterday: What, you’ve got something better to do! We all had a good laugh. Unfortunately I’ve been busier these past few weeks than normal, but am getting paid less for being that busy. There is a conundrum in there, but I try to play the long game.

    Actually I’m a bit scared about the batteries and I baby them and treat them very gently. At $375 each new and with 24 of them… I have no idea what their service life is, but I’ve just got my fingers crossed, don’t abuse them, and hope for the best. Plus there is a plan B. One must always have a plan B.

    Your math is good. Yup 52A at about 56V into the batteries 2.9kW. Now here is the interesting thing, under load the voltage output from the panels is 52A at 72V. Voltage moves from high to low just like water and voltage is pressure. Something gets lost there in the voltage drop (DJ could probably answer that one)… The batteries are like an anchor and they reduce the voltage. The current is like the flow rate of water through a pipe, and larger pipes can flow more water even if the pressure stays the same. Smaller pipes (e.g. smaller wires) are unable to flow high rates of electrons as they get lost as heat (and hopefully the cables don’t melt).

    Geeky away! The electric oven is 2.4kW and the vacuum cleaner (which has a more constant load) uses 1.6kW. The electric oven doesn’t use such power except when it initially starts up – after that it is fairly efficient.



  42. Hello again
    I have just had to come in because I was getting too hot. Our weather is incredible at present. Sun and yet more sun.
    I went for a walk yesterday to my bluebell wood. It is a while since I have been there and the change was incredible. Large number of big trees down and many, many branches. Incredible growth of the undergrowth which completely hid the obstacles underfoot. The bluebells are struggling against this so the display was poor. Very difficult for me to get there, it took me 20 mins and I had a fall. Had an horrendous job getting to my feet again. Decided not to take the same route back. This was a serious mistake as it took me over an hour to get back. I did realise that I had put myself into a dangerous situation. Old age can be hell.
    So I have now upset my son and a friendly neighbour. Have been lectured by both of them and have promised never to do this again without my mobile phone. Neighbour said ‘For goodness sake give me a ring anytime and I’ll go with you’. Trouble is that I like solitary freedom; Son does understand that. He is going to cut me a route through this week-end. I saw a wonderful display of purple orchids in neighbouring woodland where I fought my way out.


  43. @ Damo – From what we can tell, sometimes, Roman soldiers left stuff in their wills, to their mates. LOL. I’m surprised the helmet wasn’t stamped, “Property of the People and Empire of Rome.” 🙂 .

    Recently, I ran across a breakdown of how much soldiers made, in the first century CE. Initially, it sounded good. But, they had money taken out for food and their kit. There was also an enforced savings plan. Which was really pretty good, as it was a tidy little sum, by mustering out. But their yearly wage was very slim. But, there were often bonuses. For all kinds of reasons. New emperor, was a big one. LOL, they must have made out like bandits in “The Year of the Five Emperors.”

    Every Roman fort had an “office block.” The office of the commander of the fort, a shrine for the standards. But most of it was taken up by offices and clerks. EVERYTHING was tracked on a daily basis. We have some of those reports from Vindolanda. Daily troop strengths. How many soldiers were available, how many in sick bay, on leave, seconded to other units. Fascinating (to me) stuff. Lew

  44. Yo, Chris – Poor Chris! Poor Puppies! The joys of dog ownership (but who owns who?) that no one ever talks about.

    As of yesterday, we have 22 cases, and three deaths. I went to the cheap food store, this morning. My first trip out in three weeks. I got there when they opened. Not all that many people, but I noticed something interesting. Other than me, the only people who weren’t wearing mask and gloves were old white guys. Which might not be a bad thing …. 🙂 . The Atlantic Magazine website has an interesting article on what we know now, as to why it hits some people so hard, and in others, isn’t even noticeable.

    Speaking of interesting articles, here’s one on global supply chains, just-in-time inventory management and how we need to re-localize (on a national scale) industry. Which may be hard to do, given a lot of people are making a lot of money, off of globalization. The World Trade Organization works at the behest of moneyed interests. Both government and private. I can’t say I really understood more than half the article. And, I read it twice.

    Yup. The D. B. Cooper story is pretty interesting. I’m surprised after all this time (though time may have something to do with it) they haven’t figured out who he was. The forensics we have now (though over rated due to television) would probably have revealed who he was. Maybe.

    I always try and buy heritage, open pollinated seeds. But, sometimes, the seed companies are pretty cagey as to if a seed is hybrid, or not. Sometimes, even a straightforward Google search yields no joy. “Is X plant a hybrid?” Seems like a pretty clear question.

    This week, over at Mr. Greer’s place, a couple of people mentioned a documentary called “Planet of the Humans.” I watched it last night. All hour and 40 minutes of it. You might want to avoid it, though. It will either put you in complete despair, or, run your blood pressure right through the roof. It’s pretty much about how the whole alternative energy movement is one big green wash, and is run by moneyed interests who are, well, making money. It’s on YouTube.

    I saw Eleanor’s grand daughter, this morning. She doesn’t know much, but what she does know is that Eleanor is still in the hospital, and not doing well. I filled her in on what I had decided about HRH, and she’ll spread the word. As will I. Lew

  45. Hi Chris,

    We sure do miss Patrick and Michael but time lessens that though. They were funny, entertaining and loving.

    If you pull garlic mustard after it flowers and just leave it lay the flowers can still go to seed. If I don’t get the root it’ll just grow back. So right now it’s easy to pull, hasn’t flowered (though is close) and I can just leave it on the ground to decompose. There wasn’t that much last year but much more this year but then it is a biennial. I’ll never totally get rid of it as there’s always some on the side of the road but if I don’t try to pull alot that’s all I’ll have over time.

    The regional paper here is also very thin. Doug gets it digitally. It never was great but at least was a source of local news. The town had a monthly paper for awhile but that’s gone now too. Sadly if you want really local news you have to go to the local facebook pages which is mainly why I have an account. Also if you want to sell something facebook seems like the place to go too. Not that long ago we got a free paper that was mostly ads. I used to be pretty successful selling things from those ads but that’s gone as well.

    Looking forward to viewing the Michael Moore film, “Planet of the Humans”. As if on cue some FB friends who portend to be very “green” are dissing it big time.


  46. @Pam

    Only 15 mph winds – that’s nothing. Many days here have 20 to mph winds. I have to put cans and other things I’ve collected around my seedlings just to protect them from the wind. It can be very draining working outside when it’s that windy.

    Sounds like you’re preparing yourself to possible take on HRH permanently if needed. I imagine that would put Eleanor’s mind at ease if it comes to that.


  47. Chris,

    First, on your power loss from the panels to the batteries. Some quick research is that lithium batteries *might* be 90% efficient in getting charged from the panels. Lead batteries maybe 70%. Your figure suggests almost 78% efficient with your system. Where does it go? Heat. Thermodynamics always wins. King Entropy. Or else your garden gnome is stealing some of your precious power for his own nefarious purposes.

    Modern Wood Theory? OMG! If some stray economist happens by here and reads that, we’re doomed! It’s the type of thing they would like. However, I would accept the Nobel Prize for the theory, not for the prestige, but the monetary award might be nice. (That’s MY economic theory: if someone wants to give you large sums of cash for you lamebrain idea, accept the money: DJ’s Economic Theory in action.) Although I CAN imagine some eejit in a white lab coat picking up an axe in the expectation of chopping the water with some economic result and no splashing. Mate, I’ll have a hard time getting that picture out of my head!

    I don’t do well at large parties, and the Princess really doesn’t care for them either. However, once upon a year, we were at a large gathering that we weren’t enjoying and we needed a “graceful” way out. I did whisper to the Princess that if I ate some of this and lots of that and chugged a large pepsi, the resulting belches and loud gassing might allow us a speedy exit with no chance of another invitation. She found another solution.

    The Chevron petrol company. I prefer their petrol in the Honda CRV the Princess drives (and the Subarus Forester I drive) over the Safeway brand. Good job on the Suzuki…Under good conditions the Honda has about a 420 mile range with a 14 gallon tank, the Subaru a bit less.

    Precisely, people want certainties and really don’t understand probability. I always used one lecture to discuss basic probability when I taught introductory physics based on actual rolls of 2 six-sided dice I had done. One senior university physics lab had us doing a thing that emitted one photon (light particle) at a time, the photon travelling through a slit onto a screen. We couldn’t predict where any particular photon would land on the screen, but the pattern that eventually showed was a classic bell curve. Much of life is like that, but often without a nice bell curve.

    The first time I heard the Bunny Foo Foo story, I was 14. I had many of the same questions you brought up. And others, like, we only have the storyteller’s word for it that the fairy is a good fairy. Well, how does the storyteller know this? Or does the storyteller like field mice, so the fairy is good because she’s punishing the molester of field mice? But why doesn’t the fairy actually stay in the area and truly protect the field mice from the marauding Foo Foo? Maybe the field mice were being mean to Bunny Foo Foo who was simply defending himself. I dunno, but the story just sounds hinky.

    I’ve done the onions and dill seed in white vinegar. Yummmm! If I get a lot of yellow summer squash this year, I’ll try some of that in the mix.

    D B Cooper? Someone said D B Cooper? Thanksgiving, November 25, 1971. Naturally there are songs about this…
    There is NO Seattle radio station WDBC as mentioned at the start. All radio stations west of the Mississippi start with “K”. But…Washington D B Cooper initials turns into radio station WDBC. 🙂

    We got about 4mm of rain. Maybe some thunderstorms tonight, more rain possible Saturday.


  48. Hi Chris
    Yes The first Koala story occurred about the time I started looking at your blog. I related the story and the tragic end to the my wife back then. There were some tears😢

    A few weeks ago she turned on the movie “ The Purpose of a Dog”which was a 2017 release. After the first reincarnation of the dog. I got up and said “I am going on an afternoon car ride” and tossed her a package of kleenex , then “I think I know where this is going have a good cry see you soon” Off I went took a long country ride through the winter wheat fields which are like huge green lawns this time of year. The area I went through has views that show the Columbia River before and after it passes through the Wallula Gap which was a choke point for the Missoula ice dam post ice age floods. Covers part a 180 degree view. yes I returned home to some sad dog movie tear stains. I have learned a few things to avoid in the past.

    In the solar battery world it has been mentioned that the used batteries that power electric fork lifts are still very serviceable in most cases for solar use and can be had for lead scrap. prices. They are made in a variety of voltages and capacities and handled by the assorted fork lift sales outfits. There is some online discussion of the topics that you may want to look at. I was on a large construction site maintenance crew where I added distilled water and cleaned dirty contacts, checked voltage an other stuff. They are very sturdy battery products. Probably could be assembled and paralleled to your existing bank. BIG SAVING. MORE WORK WORK WORK FOR CHRIS AND THE EDITOR,!! 😊

    Your water flow / pressure analogy to the system shows that you have a good under standing.

    Batteries in general have an internal resistance that is by design and construction a very low value. The battery types flooded, AGM and so forth have specific terminal voltages that indicate fully charged voltage and desired discharged condition voltage values. The charge controllers use the measured voltage at the battery terminals to deliver safe charging currents into the battery when the solar cell arrays are active. Also simultaneously supply any excess current needed for the inverter to supply the connected ac load being powered in the house system. it is a fairly involved set of electrical relationships that are handed in the system. Because of need for high reliability the equipment sold today luckily works really well.
    The emergency battery charger input connected to the fossil-fueled internal combustion gen set converts that out put to solar array power levels that it substitutes for.
    When you connect the emergency battery charger to the system it performs as a another charge controller connected to the battery terminals which are parallel to any other battery controllers and the inverter input.
    The battery charger can have the maximum output current you select to safely charge your batteries for best life. Generally the battery manufacturer supplies the value.

    If your house panel has its input connected to a manual or auto transfer switch the generator gas or diesel Is connected to the emergency supply Side . The output of the inverter is connected to the normal power transfer switch terminals. The transfer switch may be part of the inverter unit.

    Now Chris for your continuing education credit:
    Search the topic:
    Physics of crystalline Silicon Cells
    Read selection Of you choice

    Warning: severe drowsyness or near coma may result from use of this reading material.
    If coma condition lasts for longer than four hours
    contact your physician. Persistent coma condition may
    Result in permanent damage to happy thoughts

    A load test high power test bank is fairly easy to make and not very expensive. If your interested I can give you some ideas on the details


  49. @Lew

    I find that “mundane” stuff fascinating as well. If anything, it almost makes this massive empire with its armies, walls and logistical challenges even more surreal. You needed HOW MANY cloak clasps…


  50. Hi Inge,

    Glad you hear you survived the walk adventure! Falls can be nasty. Here in NZ, Mrs Damo and I are debating if we will get scolded (or worse, fined) for taking a walk in a reserve that is a 10km drive away…

    Apparently we can go swimming next week when we go down to level 3 restrictions. But, it is now almost May and I think the water might be a bit chilly.


  51. Hi Chris,

    I have only being out in big storms on big boats. The Tasmania ferry was one such trip, and Mrs Damo and I were both waken in the middle of the night by a very large bang and shudder of the ship. No alarms sounds though, and looking out our cabin porthole, showed nothing but a windswept and stormy sea at night. It was most likely a modestly sized rogue wave (rogue wave official definition is a wave 3x the size of prevailing waves).

    Of course, even big ships are not immune to the power of the ocean. There is a first hand account from the helmsman of the QE2, he talks about an incident in which the word “surfing” is thrown about. Not something I want to think about on a ship that big!


  52. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear about your fall, and it is tough to be forced to be dependent on others when previously you measured your own time, risk and pace. Adaption is a wise policy in these circumstances, but you can always choose your own path. People can ask, but that does not generally engender compliance.

    Hey, I was a bit worried about your forest trees due to shallow soils and really serious heavy winter rain – then the winds. Your account of the forest would be sort of what I would expect to see here (some of the valley bottoms have similar conditions). On a positive note, all that fallen timber and trees will provide plenty of future feeding for the plants.

    Bluebells are really lovely plants and they make special guest appearances to brighten up a spring day! They’re bulbs, they’ll be fine.

    Glad your son understands your quiet enjoyments, and is practical enough to cut a way in and out for you. 🙂 And I would also have enjoyed the sight of the purple orchids too! Such is the stuff of life.

    Another beautiful autumn day here. It was truly glorious, but alas deadlines are looming and I spent most of the day inside the house helping others. It happens.



  53. @ Inge:

    I am only 63, but I am realizing that there are certain limits that I have to set. It is frustrating, but the alternative can be disasters like my mother has had with a broken hip and broken limbs, and she is only 19 years older than I. That is possibly also a matter of diet and exercise.

    Amazing what Mother Nature can do in such a short time to change the ecology around one.


  54. Hi Lewis,

    Indeed, and what a fine observation. Who does own whom? From their perspective, well let’s just say that they have concepts of alpha-ness, I have my own ideas on the subject, and somehow we all manage to get along OK. Could do better, but also could do far worse. 🙂 Does HRH not play games with your head? Hmm…

    The dogs had been running around outside for most of this glorious sunny and warm autumn day. About mid-afternoon the dogs came inside and fell promptly asleep. An afternoon nap is a fine thing, although I was working at the time. About half an hour after the dogs all fell asleep, the editor fluff-tipped the three of them (Ollie, Ruby and Plum) off the couch and into wakefulness. They were not fans of that act, the cheeky scamps. They were then frog-marched outside and instructed to go and chase off a fox that was lazily wandering the lower paddock making a nuisance of itself. Ollie was a bit lackluster in his response, and so the editor had to walk him closer and then Ollie caught the whiff of a scent and off he chased the fox into the forest – who clearly got away. Standards have fallen since Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy passed on, and your advice regarding the impending knighthood of Ollie esq. has stood the test of time well. 🙂

    Do you know it has taken me about a decade to understand Scritchy the little miniature fox terrier? So for years she has been pushing the boundaries, and in the evening she’d wander in and out of the room again. Demand to be let outside to go the toilet. Forget that she’d only been outside ten minutes before hand and yet she’d want to go out again. Refused to sleep on the couch with the other dogs. Usually I’m impervious to her demands, but Sunday nights when I’m writing, it kind of gets annoying. But the other night I had this idea that if I brought her bedding in here, she’d just kind of hang out and go to sleep. Which she now does in an evening. Did she subtly train me? Possibly.

    Oh my Lewis, you are like super bad! 🙂 The latest mortality / risk talk is that: ” infection fatality rate from COVID-19, which recent estimates put near zero for those aged under 19, rising steadily to be below 0.1 per cent for those under 40, before basically doubling or tripling for every additional decade to reach somewhere between 8 and 14 per cent for over-80s.” I’d call those good chances of surviving, of course anyone can always get unlucky. And if an aircraft had a 14% chance of crashing I can’t say that I’d be excited about getting on board (The aircraft crash risk test is a fave of mine for illustrating risk).

    The statistics were taken from an article which references another article in the Lancet: Coronavirus risks widening intergenerational wealth divide. Yes, it could indeed be a problem, but a narrative is building somewhere about something.

    It was those WTO folks who apparently opened up the apple markets here, when we’d been largely self sufficient on that fruit. Didn’t see the need for it myself, but someone, somewhere (who are these people?) could smell money. A dirty smell to be sure, kind of like the off-gassing of a cattle dog who’d been eating bones all day long, but maybe far worse.

    The article was quite good and hit some high notes, whilst ignoring energy and resources. But that’s OK, if such an idealistic program achieves even 10% of the high notes, that won’t be too bad. Automation however has always been used to club workers over the head. And talk of Condor breeding programs is a little bit different to the gritty reality of constructing a factory, opening supply lines and competing against third world labour rates and environmental standards.

    It is possible that with the D.B. Cooper story, your authorities may have been stress testing your civilian systems? Stranger things have happened, and I note that nobody was actually injured in the escapade and all that was lost was a bit of money and some inconvenience. Outcomes have been worse. It all sounds very James Bond to me, with a dash of Point Break!

    Plants are complex life forms and parentage is a complicated matter at the best of times. I mean if plants had not retained the ability to hybridise, then they probably would have died out long ago. They all do it. So who really knows what the terms actually mean? For example, the tomatoes growing here have been selected from seeds saved from fruits over the past decade. Each year the plants are a bit different, and a little bit hardier to the conditions – and last growing season was brutal test due to the extremes in all directions. I’m of the opinion that if the plants grow and they’re more or less OK from one season to the next, then that is OK by me. One exception to that is corn which is a highly bred plant and might not be genetically all that hardy. With that plant in particular I’ve stuck to open pollinated and heritage varieties, but even so, they’re a fickle plant.

    Yes, the Open Post. I’m always impressed at any person who can respond coherently to 400 comments! 🙂 I’ll check out the video later as the author always has interesting things to say. I dunno about the claim, because as far as I see things, the technology is good, it is just not good enough to replace fossil fuels. James Howard Kunstler’s latest book: Living the Long Emergency, was without doubt the best coverage of alternative energy that I have yet encountered. And the claims made in the chapter on that very topic accord with what I have observed of the technology. Personally, I feel that if people get involved in promoting the technology, it does little harm and some good might come out of it. And certainly it will leave a lot of useful materials and technology on the surface of the planet for future generations. And a lot of odd waste.

    Sorry to hear about Eleanor’s worsening health, and I do hope that the granddaughter is incorrect. HRH could do far worse than your home.



  55. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 The two of them sound to my ears like they could brighten up a room!

    Thanks for the advice regarding the garlic mustard, and please keep it to your shores! Although the animals here would probably enjoy the leaves – they have unusual palates and don’t mind spicy mustard leaves at all.

    So, I’m not finished the book yet (about a third of the way through) and I read this quote today: “(from page 72) He had studied enough anthropology to realize that the same phenomenon had been observed on a smaller scale before. Destroy the culture patterns in which people lived, and often the shock was too great for the individuals. Take away family and job, friends and church, all customary amusements and routines, hope too – and life became a walking death.” Wow, have you looked outside the window recently? Had to do a double take upon reading that line penned almost 70 years before hand, but the English culture we descended from has I guess long known and employed that trick.

    I hear you about the Farcebook, but you know that means getting an account. Someone recounted to me that the selling there is a bit wild-west, but I’m not sure what was meant by that. They recounted a story about agreeing to sell something and then the purchaser turned up and offered less money. A bold and somewhat cheeky move, I would have told them to clear off.

    A second mention of the film! Must be something in the water…



  56. Hi DJ,

    Ah, of course efficiency. Makes sense and hadn’t considered that aspect, interestingly the lead acid batteries here are all too happy to let go of electrons, but like a deflating balloon the pressure (Volts) decreases as the store is reduced. Nickel Iron batteries are much worse, but who’d have thunk it – they last far longer and are more resilient…

    The cheeky garden gnome! I’ll ask some searching – but also very polite – questions tomorrow. No doubts spells will be woven, and best not to irritate the elder folk might be a wiser course of action. Incidentally those lithium batteries are interesting items and when I used to speak with the off grid folks down here, they recounted stories of failed cells – and thermal runaway is never far away as a possibility. The electrician may have accidentally cracked the case of one of the batteries, but with gel lead acid batteries, that’s cool and they just keep on keeping on. Lithium’s, well such a problem may already have been noticed by now…

    DJ, I was and please excuse the local vernacular, but I was pissing myself laughing about your economic theories. You just don’t know how correct you are, and I just can’t tell you!!!! Such strange days to enjoy. Far out, I’ve worked hard of late, mostly helping other people.

    I’m with you both, and we prefer smaller gatherings. Listen to the wise words of your lady, and make a quiet exit without making early goodbyes. You’d be amazed how many times we’ve pulled that trick. Years ago – and how relevant is this to current events – we both had a cold and attended a wedding. Back in those day’s people could smoke indoors and the wedding was like a torture. We hung around as long as physically possible at the reception, and then made the classic mistake of making early goodbyes. Offended was the word that you heard, and now we slip away quietly without fuss, of course it assists things that people can no longer smoke indoors and having a cold is a socially acceptable reason for piking!

    Ah, a forester. A nice choice, very practical, and the earlier models used to have proper low range gearing. Apologies I used to be a car nut years ago and old habits are hard to kick.

    As our resident physics and math expert, and all round knowledgeable bloke (there are a number of knowledgeable people here and we must not fight over titles and be happy with the physics and math title!!!! Hehe!) I’m starting to get the impression that the inverted bell shaped curve is represented in a vast host of err, things. What’s your take on that?

    The story itself is the very nature of an ethical paradox, and the fairy established a set of arbitrary rules and then enforced them. And as you rightly suggest the goodness of the fairy never comes into question, and because she can smite the daylights out of the hapless bunny, her moral rectitude is never searched. It reminds me of travelling in India. Whenever a tinsel adorned Tata truck was coming in the other direction that you were travelling in, you had to get the heck out of the way (not that I was driving – far from it). Thus proving that might is right, and the victor spins the narrative. I rest my case, and now put it to you the honourable respondent! 😉

    Oh, that’s a really top idea with the squash. Yum!

    Mate, the story is so James Bond that it is killing me! Love the story. I actually hope the guy got away. It’s not like anyone got hurt, and he provided hours of entertainment for everyone. WDBC! Funny stuff and thanks for the music.

    Nice to hear that you scored some much needed rain. It was a glorious day today, but alas I was indoors… Mustn’t grumble!



  57. Hi Damo,

    Far out, a lot of big claims get thrown around, but one I heard a long time ago was that Bass Strait could occasionally be one of the roughest stretches of water on the planet. The former land bridge makes for shallow water, and a lot of water flows over it.

    Cape Sorell Waverider Buoy

    Years ago I worked for a transport company that did freight on the Trans Bass route and from time to time containers got lost over board in rough seas. One container was full of flour and the joke at the time was that the container had become the worlds biggest damper bread.

    Glad you survived and the crossing can be exciting. I recall once when the seas were so rough the ferry was turned around within sight of Tasmania. At a wild guess I bet not many people wanted breakfast that morning! Experienced salty sea dogs would be like old veterans in that they’d never skip a meal. 🙂

    Oh my! Surfing and the QE2!!!

    Of course you must have seen the film Point Break?



  58. Hi Al,

    Oh you are a long time reader! 🙂 It was a sad tale the Koala, but life can be rough, and he had a peaceful ending. He could no longer eat due to a growth, and his demise in the forest would have been slow and painful.

    Mate, you are wiser than I, and animal films are a rough bit of gear. Buried a few of my animal mates over the years. “Heaven goes by favor. If it went by merit, you would stay out and your dog would go in – Mark Twain 🙂

    Thanks for the ‘more work’ suggestion. Yeah, I’ve got plans for the batteries. Back in the day telecommunication batteries used to be highly sought after too. Supply chains may present unknown challenges to those plans, but time will tell and what will be, will be.

    Well you’ve just hit a status driven topic. So the charge controller I use do exactly that and they are locally made. Now get this, the person who originally designed them included very few (if any) capacitors in the design (out of concerns for longevity). And also they are rated to work at 55’C ambient temperatures without de-rating. A tough call for electronics. I’ve stuck to them and they have not let me down. Some of the local folks prefer more fancy data trackers and monitors, but they all more or less do the same thing, and I have a fondness for reliability.

    Auto transfer switches are great devices, however where I’ve seen them installed, they foster a certain feeling of distance and lack of concern in the system by their owners. I have a preference for keeping the system simple and manually monitored. Works for me, but it is not for everyone.

    The generator is only used to put charge directly into the batteries – and that is a manual process. I have no wish to subject the electronics in the house to the variable output from a generator.

    Oh my I’m having an induced coma!!! Arghhhh. Snooze.

    Thanks for the kind offer, but I monitor the voltage and system health twice per day and the long term statistical regression placed through the data gives me a good indication of the health of the system. As you may have guessed or knew, the regression represents an incomplete bell shaped curve. But where am I on the curve?



  59. Yo, Chris – So, is fluff tipping anything like cow tipping, or outhouse tipping? 🙂 . Well, if HRH has any head games going, they’re pretty subtle. Since I got her squeaky toy (which looks like a very dead raccoon) from next door, she gets a bit demanding as to when to play keep-away. But I indulge her, as, it must be pretty boring, living with me.

    I’ve been sitting out, a bit more, with her, weather allowing. Gives her a chance to feel the wind in her hair, smell interesting things, and see people. Susan Who Has A Better Idea, was all concerned that she might be cold, given the recent haircut. So, just to shut her up (now, that’s head games), I rummaged around next door and came up with a smart black and red tartan coat. I bypassed the pink tutu. Looks rather cape like. So, I’ve taken to calling her Scottish Supergirl Dog.

    So, there’s a good chance of not catching the virus, if you’re careful. I hit the Safeway at 6:30am. Not a morning person. So, I masked and gloved up, and plunged in. Not as busy as it’s been in the past. The paper aisle was pretty empty, but, I scored a 12 pack of a pretty good brand. No wood chips. Cost $9, which is 3 or 4 dollars more than I usually pay. I could have sprung for a huge jumbo pack, but it was $20. I figured I’d leave that, for someone with 12 kids. Todays toilet paper census (troop strength?) is 36 rolls. Not the optimum 42, but one does, what one can. As my Idaho friend pointed out, the low cost of gas sort of offsets the higher prices in the supermarket. I picked up extra bananas, yesterday and today. Going to freeze some up. That’s one thing I really missed. So, I guess I’m good for another 3 weeks. We added 3 more to the virus count, yesterday, so, we’re up to 25.

    No argument, young workers do it rough. But that generational wealth divide? I think some of those youngsters are going to come into a bit of mad cash, due to inheritance. If the health care system doesn’t get it all.

    Who’s bright idea was the WTO and who’s profiting? That’s just a rhetorical question. Who are these people? The usual suspects. It’s just that so much of the toll falls on the “little” productive folks.

    As far as the D. B. Cooper story, was about testing systems. Well, as we used to say in the 60’s “Paranoia isn’t paranoia if it’s real.”

    I’ll be interested in what you think of the film, “Planet of the Humans” when you get around to watching it. I read a couple more reviews of “The True Story of the Kelly Gang.” Most say it has nothing to do with history … but is a pretty good movie.

    Eleanor was moved out of the Intensive Care Unit, and into a room. Now the doc will do an assessment, to see if she goes to rehab. Probably. Rumor has it she’s driving the nurses crazy. A good sign, I think. Lew

  60. @ Margaret – Yup. Taking HRH seems to be a possibility. When considering a dog or a cat, after a lot of thought, I decided to just see what the Universe provided. Leave it in the hands of fate. Maybe the Universe is providing. Or, not.

    Yes, I think one of the things Eleanor is not fretting about (or, not much) is that I’m taking care of Princess, and she’s pretty happy (the dog) to be where she’s always lived, and pretty much on the same schedule.

    We’ll see. I’m prepared for either eventuality, and time will tell how it all shakes out. Lew

  61. Chris,

    I think the trade off between more constant voltage and resilience is a battery discussion you’ve had before, maybe even with me? It’s always interesting to hear your actual experiences rather than some pie in the sky theory. As always, “in theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.” And I wouldn’t touch a lithium battery for your uses due to the reasons you’ve mentioned. Too many things can go wrong with those.

    How did your chat with the garden gnome go? Or did you decide it’s better to leave him alone and let him do what he wants? I mean, as long as he doesn’t make some electric machine gizmo to use against you powered with your own electricity, what’s the harm in letting him have some electricity of his own? Maybe he needs it to hold his own against the gargoyle?

    Mate, don’t worry about your local vernacular bothering me. Many terms and phrases I’ve heard over the years from Australia are the same as or similar to what I’ve heard from all over the Commonwealth countries, for lack of a better term. (ANdmy recently retired coworker and I were told to tone down the language around the fragile younger set.) I spent far too many hours per day on a discussion board once in which we were all required to write in Lowland Scots Vernacular. Several of the ringleaders were from Glasgow, aka “weegies”. Watching their language wasn’t an idea that had ever crossed their minds. It was enjoyably rough and tumble. “Glaswegian Rhapsody”, to the tune of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” sums up a lot. Here’s a link to the lyrics.

    Back then, our favorite waitress at our favorite restaurant was a lady from Glasgow. I mentioned to her one evening that the Princess would like a Glesca kiss. (A Glesca, or Glasgow, kiss is a fist to the teeth.) Waitress put her arm around my neck and whispered in full Glesca something to the effect that any more suggestions like that and I’d wish a proper Glesca kiss was the only thing the waitress had inflicted on me. Then we had a good laugh. And no, I cannot repeat what she said on a friendly forum such as this one.

    I adore my Forester. It’s a 2005. Bought it used with low mileage and it still is low for something of that age. It is fabulous in the winters here.

    The bell curve? Yes, it does seem to be present in a lot of things in nature. But not always. Some quantum level things with several possible outcomes do not have these outcomes in anything resembling a bell curve based on their probabilities. There is an infinitely small, yet measurable, probability that a wave hitting the beach at the ocean might actually disappear momentarily, only to reappear in the car park behind the taco shack. (Hence Douglas Adams’s Infinite Improbability Drive, as some possible outcomes are really physically impossible.)

    And the bell curve gets overly used when predicting human behavior. And markets. But the theories that, in my mind, misuse the bell curve ignore human emotion and such inconvenient truths such as peak oil and climate change.

    Hehehe! When I’m in either my Forester or the Princess’s CRV, and something big is bearing down on us, the written traffic law gets tossed out the window and might makes right – we cede to the other vehicle. The winner indeed does write the history books, and the winner sure as whatsis was mightier than the vanquished.

    What I think really happened in the Bunny Foo Foo story? The good fairy wasn’t a fairy at all, nope, nosirree. A prudish sort of being, yes. I mean, it’s spring here. I witnessed public, ummmm, mating activities each of the past several days in my yard. Birds don’t care who is watching. Bunny Foo Foo was probably just, errr, breeding like a rabbit and the “good fairy” didn’t like it, so she wrung his neck, stuck him in the stew pot and had the tribal storyteller come up with a politically correct story about Bunny Foo Foo being an ecoterrorist and some supernatural entity gave him some “justice”.

    I always hoped D B Cooper made it alive. I don’t think he did, as that storm he jumped into was pretty ferocious and he was over the Cascade Mountains with no visibility after dark. He likely landed badly and died of hypothermia, and cougars, coyotes and Bigfoot probably scattered his remains. But one can still hope that he landed safely, got out alive and enjoyed the proceeds from his adventure.


  62. Hi Lewis,

    Tis exactly the same, and the animals involved get rather shirty at being disturbed from their gentle slumber by being unceremoniously fluff-tipped. I recommend the sport. Plum can kick up a good growl (and hence sook) if the need requires, whilst Ruby just deals. But the trio need to get it into their heads that the reason they enjoy a solid regular feed is that they have to occasionally chase off foxes, deer etc. That is their role, and although they probably enjoy mucking around a lot, and that is fine by me, the foxes have to be dealt to. It really is that simple. Scritchy can be excused from such work given that she is nineteen years of age and has earned her quietude, but the younger fluffs have no such age related excuse to wield out.

    Anyway, Ollie dealt to the fox and chased it off. He has a gentle nature that dog and some dogs are like that, so he probably enjoyed the chase for its own sake and called it off when he was at the limits of his territory. Working dogs are funny creatures in that they decide for themselves how large a territory they want to deal to, and they stick to those boundaries like glue. For a while there I was wondering about Beagles as an option, but when I read from several sources that they’d get the sniff of a scent and off they’d go into the wild blue yonder. Yeah such behaviour might not work so well here.

    Of late I have been wondering whether I called it wrong. Right now I can’t be sure that Plum will be the next boss dog, as Ruby is displaying interesting traits which remind me of none other than Old Fluffy, the former boss dog.

    HRH has a lineage dating back to her wild ancestry in Northern Europe and a person interacting with such a fluffy can only expect the unexpected. When the two terrors of sheep puppies begin annoying the daylights out of me, I reach for the chew toys. Peace then reigns over the household. They are thus training me to accommodate their needs.

    Fluffies like HRH are never cold. They have this thing called a double coat, but Susan must be prevented from complaining and an extra layer can stymie her natural impulse. Some folks have that whiney tone down pat as a lifestyle choice. No doubts they could leave an amusing inscription on their gravestone which reads something along the lines of: “Now, just one more thing…”

    Nothing wrong with black and red tartan, or even bright yellow tartan, but a pink tutu is beyond the pale. 😉 Hehe!

    Of course, there is a good chance of not catching any viruses if a person is careful. However, it is worth mentioning that we are all only as good as the weakest link and may I remind you that I was forced to sit next to ‘throat razor blade girl’ for an entire day a few years back and then the household succumbed brutally to a major fall. Speaking of which, getting my flu shot next week. It is a bit early, but one must tread warily, especially if ones opinions put one in a challenging position.

    At the local Post Office / General Store I spotted a customer coughing into his hand. Just to mess with him I gave him a bit of a stare-of-death, and he moved further away. Nowadays such actions don’t look so hot.

    Mate, toilet paper is out, flour is in (and stock cubes). You were warned, and if anyone asks you why you hadn’t stocked up on flour, well you can’t actually say that you weren’t warned, because you were. Hehe! As someone who is ahead of the curve (which can occasionally be a lonely place to be for sure) at the Post Office this morning (Anzac Day too, very weird not having a service, very extremely weird, my grandfather would have been apoplectic at this turn of events – more on that later) the delivery of bulk organic spelt flour turned up.

    The afternoon was spent having an enjoyable discussion over the interweb with the Green Wizards, and whilst I was mucking around, the editor began setting up a dry goods storage area. We’re constantly having to modify the systems here to accommodate the circumstances that we find ourselves in. Houses used to have such rooms when I was a kid, and at the recent visit (well it was a month and then some back) to the Mansion we noted such storage bins. A wise idea and worth emulating.

    Oh! About twenty wheat seedlings have now popped up, and I over sowed the entire area with seeds as a storm will hit later tonight and the soil is still warm. I’m sort of figuring out timing via the method of give-it-a-go and then observing what happens. Had a left-of-centre idea for how to go about obtaining some organic spelt flour seeds.

    Almost forgot about granddad. As a WWII veteran bomber pilot, he used to get really sozzled on Anzac Day with his WWII mates. Whiskey and milk for breakfast seemed to be some sort of ritual for them, although I was very young and brought along for the experience. Anyway I recall him driving back home after such an event and proclaiming about how the authoritas (you know whom I refer to) would never dare pull him over and test him. He never got busted either, so he may have been right in that regard – he knew how things worked at the grubby end and also the upper end of the spectrum. Nowadays I’m not so sure about that possibility.

    All wise choices in your recent haul, but can you feel comfortable knowing that you are six rolls short of optimal? And what if you end up with more rolls than the optimal number? Your Idaho friends are probably on the money. How are they going in their small town? Out of sheer curiosity, how are bananas once they are defrosted? Never tried that.

    All valid points, but it is impolite to speak of inheritances. Being one of those folks who missed out on that score, and now having no skin in the game (I was written out as a heretic for not putting up with relatives rubbish), but instead received an education when such things had value (if having some seriously big holes in that education), I dunno. Waiting around on dead men’s money seems a bit distasteful to me, and as such I’m a bit uncomfortable with such stories. I’d rather go to the pub – which is shut for the immediate future. And that is so true about the health care system. I have heard rumours that a particular church involves itself in palliative care and has also long resisted assisted dying legislation. Not a good look either.

    What did the big guy say about ‘blessed are the cheese makers’? 😉 He missed one group: Blessed are the competent, for they shall be snowed under with work! It might be a bit late now to add that group in to the mix…

    The saying about paranoia is really good, and we’ll never know the truth behind the story. It is probably stranger than we’d ever considered. I just hope the guy landed safely and wasn’t consumed by your bears. What a fine joke that would be.

    A second reminder for the film. We spoke about the film today and honestly I’m a bit torn between that film and a George Carlin video also recommended.

    When I heard that the authoritas had fined a bloke for eating a kebab whilst sitting by himself on a park bench, I actually had a flash of mental connection to the real history behind the Kelly Gang.

    You go girl, and may Eleanor raise Hell in there – whilst recovering. 🙂



  63. Hi DJ,

    Your memory serves you well, and yup do we all need to be told a second time about such battery choices? Well, probably we do. Actually it was when the off-grid folks told me that individual cell voltages had to be monitored down to a tolerance of three decimal places that I started backing away from such options as a thought bubble, and fast. I’ve encountered some interesting measurement equipment in my time, but such fine tolerances make me very uncomfortable that there is just no room for error!

    Mate I was so busy today that I didn’t actually get around to talking to the gnome in the fern gully, and this is a good thing. When one is busy, it is not the time to take on the sheer cunning that is the elder folk. Tricksy they are, tricksy they shall be. And um, yeah, not up for the hard questions today! 🙂

    The gargoyle is indeed a powerful icon and it is Ollie’s deity. Ollie needs the help too as the editor had to cajole him into chasing off a fox yesterday. The fox was oblivious to the impending danger, but safely high tailed it outta here.

    What? Really? You were asked to tone it down. Mate, some professions demand the use of potty mouth – it is a rite of passage after all, just like crossing the equator. Of course in this strange venue A.K.A. interweb, we have to keep it nice. But there are times in the real world I have to expletive (with force): What the (a word rhyming with the word truck that begins with a F) did you do that for? Seems only natural and it is a nice tension breaker. And the questions still remains relevant and is also a statement of the underlying doubt as to peoples right-choosing-natures! 😉

    Oh, the weegies!!! Yup, I hear them, but have troubles understanding them… 😉 Oh, that was good and very naughty and I got that given that it was in text format! Hehe!

    Ah, indeed 2005 was a good year, and it is my humble opinion that manufacturing quality peaked that year. The dirt rat is 2004, and so you are in very good company!

    Thanks for the explanation as to quantum level things and big wave surfing. However, in your explanation you are making an assumption that I even know what is meant by the word quantum. I do not believe that I have even the foggiest idea of what is meant by that term.

    However, big waves, we can do that down here: Weatherpulse – World wind record. I’d have to say that 408km/h is pretty epic.

    And people can also adapt to declining energy and resource curves (or choose to walk away from) thus distorting – but never wholly avoiding – the story implicit in the bell shaped curve. The only way out of such a curve is to do something entirely different, but then others may continue the trajectory. What is your take on that?

    I stand defeated by your superlative explanation of the oddness that is Bunny Foo Foo and the awful moral dilemma presented therein. And quietly depart from the field knowing that the better man has prevailed on this day. 🙂 Haven’t seen any rabbits around here for a while since the fluffy trio got their act together and started doing something about them.

    It was the bears that I wondered about. It might have been a suicide mission, so that he went out with a memorable note. Stranger things have happened, but my mind is leaning towards your civilian system being stress tested in response to a perceived threat.

    The editor baked a batch of hot cross buns today (without the cross). It is possible that they are fruit buns, but they’re also really tasty warm out of the oven with a pat of butter. Yum!

    I’ve been so busy this week helping out other people that I have had not much chance to do much work around here… Standards are slipping… 🙂



  64. Hi Lewis,

    George Carlin was 6 minutes, so I began watching the Michael Moore movie.

    You don’t have to tell me the sun don’t shine and the wind doesn’t blow – the set up here has to be far greater than I usually require if only to accommodate the very worst days – which happen and can’t be wished away. I have experienced days with only 15 minutes of sunlight and I’m at 37’S latitude which is a genuinely sunny place.

    Now of course I have achieved what I’ve done using a lot of second hand equipment, but the stuff doesn’t scale and makes little economic sense. You would be amazed at the technical difficulties I have encountered over the years working with this stuff, and I’ve had to learn all sorts of strange details that nobody ever considers. And my main goal was to avoid using fossil fuels for electricity. It is a bonkers difficult goal which I set for my own purposes (and I don’t use a lot of electricity relative to the average) but having the house and an electric vehicle is not possible.

    Of course a future of renewable energy will mean that we revert back to the historical norm (which is subsistence farming). That uses renewable energy from the sun.



  65. Hi Chris,
    Yes Pat and Mike were delightful but also had their challenges. Patrick in particular got himself in all kinds of trouble and would throw tantrums when he didn’t get his way. Like a child though his sense of humor and usually cheerful personality mostly made up for this.

    I liked your comment about the movie. Doug and I watched it last night. Probably not a movie to recommend to those who are struggling mentally due to the virus.

    Illinois has extended our shelter in place order through the end of May. There are a few changes though. Non essential stores can do curbside pick up, golf courses are open but with lots of restrictions, garden centers and pet groomers are now designated as essential services and some state parks will reopen. Also we are required to wear a mask when in a public place where one can’t social distance.


  66. @Lew
    Glad to hear Eleanor is improving. Knowing HRH is in good hands surely provides her with some piece of mind.

    Thanks for the video. You know my daughter who got the pandemic puppy found a loose dog while on a walk without a collar. She even took it to a vet to see if it was chipped (she wasn’t). She posted her picture in various places online to see if someone would claim her but no one did. Then much later that day when she and her fiance were walking the dog a guy and his daughter drove by and said she was theirs. Anyway that got her going about getting a puppy – now. The reasoning being that she and her fiance were going to be home for quite awhile so this would be a perfect time to train a puppy. Anyway they are coming out tomorrow with pandemic puppy (who now has a name, Ruth) as it’ll be warm enough to social distance outside.


  67. Yo, Chris – Happy Anzac Day! Hmmm. I’ve never felt comfortable with that “happy”, for such a solemn occasion. How does one give greeting? I saw an article that quit a few people are doing silent, candlelit vigils, at the bottoms of their driveways. Needs must. Saw our one care giver, who is from New Zealand, yesterday. Wished her the best for the day, and reminded her it was time to make … Anzac Biscuits!

    So, what’s HRH’s role? I think she wants to learn to cook. She sure does intently watch my every move, in the kitchen. 🙂 . We’re going to make Anzac biscuits, this afternoon. I figure I’ll have her flipping omelets, in no time!

    Yup, HRH has a double coat, but I think the last trip to the groomers got one of them. She did shiver a bit, when I took her out. Hence, the coat til the weather warms up. Eleanor was moved yesterday, to a big senior center that does a lot of things, including rehab. One of her old buddies, from here, is there. I also “pitched” Eleanor’s daughter, yesterday, on taking in HRH, if needs must. I guess there’s only one other family member that is slightly interested. But, we both came to the conclusion, at the same time, that’s it’s really Eleanor’s choice. If, she has to go to assisted living. Might not be now, but sooner or later …

    I trained myself to elbow cough. Pretty easy to get the hang of. So, tell me, was the customer an old white guy? 🙂 . Congrats on scoring the spelt. I’ve got 4+ 5 pound bags of flour, but now you’ve got me alerted to the idea of starting to cast around, for more. Go Green Wizards!

    Yup. I tossed and turned a bit, over not reaching optimum toilet paper saturation, until HRH told me to leave off. That I was keeping her awake with my thrashing about. She had wise words. “Optimum toilet paper is a fleeting thing.” 🙂 .

    Waiting around for “dead men’s money” is rather … declasse. I was thinking more of unexpected inheritance. You may remember that the whole Downton Abbey kicked off with key family members going down on the Titanic, and the Lord of the Manor, becoming Lord of the Manor, all rather unexpectedly.

    I have no idea what defrosted bananas are going to taste like. I may try drying some, too, so I can do a comparison.

    Here’s an interesting article, I ran across. “If the Corona Virus Pandemic Marks the Collapse of Civilization, Would We Know?” One of the interviewed, is the same fellow who wrote the essay over at Mother Jones magazine, about the fall of Rome. By the way, the magazine takes it’s name from a historic figure. She was a coal miner’s organizer. Think Carry Nation, only more fixated on coal labor organizing than booze. 🙂 .

    Well, the Hawthorne trees are beginning to shed their blossoms. Like a little snow storm. And the lilacs are beginning to bloom. Lilacs, Anzac Day. Put me in mind of a poem by Walt Whitman. “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d.” He wrote it when Lincoln was assassinated. He was a volunteer nurse, during our Civil War, in Washington, DC. He’d often see Lincoln on the street, and they’d tip their hats to each other. 🙂 .

    My friends in Idaho are doing ok. But I still think they go out too much. There daughter, Cheyenne (late of the Forest Service, now working as a dispatcher for the sheriff’s department) was exposed to the virus, but third hand. She was having some symptoms, but, it was allergies.

    If you looked at Prof. Mass, recently, we have a front moving through, right now. Rain, rain and more rain. Supposed to be nice, tomorrow, so I can work in the garden. Then another front coming through, tomorrow night.

    Well, I’d better get cracking! Time and Anzac biscuits wait for no man. But, I think, first a nap. HRH concurs. Lew

    PS: Another 3 cases in the county. So we’re at 28 and counting…

  68. Hello again
    Struggling to keep up with comments. It is always difficult if one doesn’t get in daily. Phone crackling terribly so spent ages complaining again. All has now been fixed but my broadband went off while the engineer worked on the line. The fault was where I told them it would be but they seem to be obliged to start at one end of the line and then work along. Very nice engineer who told me that the company won’t pay to have things re-done properly.
    Wonderful summer weather still so everything is growing well. I have to keep watering though.
    More and more shops are refusing to take cash.


  69. @ Damo
    I am surprised that the water ever becomes warm enough to swim in where you are. Our water really doesn’t warm up until September and that lasts about 3 weeks, but admittedly I don’t like cold water.
    We are not allowed to drive a further distance than we are planning to walk, at least I think that that’s correct.


    @ Pam
    Only 63, a mere stripling. I am 85. Hips and knees do seem to become a problem. My mother broke her hip aged 89 and didn’t walk again probably because she weighed 18 or 19 stone and they just couldn’t get her back on her feet. I am sure that diet and exercise matter but would put genetics way above them.


  70. Hi Margaret,

    I guess the thing with Patrick would have been that if people knew him, and he threw a tantrum, they would have been able to accommodate him and also smooth over the situation – and know who to call. With that in mind, I guess, did he have to stick to his routines and stay within known people?

    Threw more coffee grounds onto the epic mulch pile yesterday. It smells beautifully.

    🙂 Thanks! Some of the people who badgered me about watching the film, also mentioned your observation that you’d want to be in a good head space when you watched it. I found the tone of the documentary to be irritating, because at no point did anyone suggest that you can use these technologies to enjoy a comfortable existence, albeit at a less energy demanding lifestyle. That works fine for me, it just doesn’t scale to the sort of lifestyles most people accept as a normal everyday thing. It doesn’t work that way, but that doesn’t suggest that the stuff is not good – it is good. And yup, I hear you about that.

    Down here there is apparently a shortage of masks, so I can’t see that happening here. Oh well. Not sure really what is going on, but yeah no doubt, things will be extended into the future. Dunno about you two, but I’m enjoying the quiet.

    Better get writing!



  71. Hi Lewis,

    Respect. What a tough question you’ve asked. I don’t really know and am entirely unsure. When I was a kid we used to mark Anzac day with a minutes silence, as was also done on Armistice Day (not that many folks these days know their history enough to know what that day was about), but greetings. Hmm. After a moment’s cogitation, it occurs to me that face to face would be easier to express greetings on such an occasion. A solemn handshake, or placing your right hand on the left shoulder of the person you are speaking to and saying something meaningful like: “Mate”. That would do it fine. But by correspondence, I don’t believe the English language has that art down pat, usually we wish some condolences or greetings, but not remembrance for lost companions. I’ll bet the Romans had plenty of experience with that problem. Are you aware of other languages and cultures that deal with this matter? What a question!

    Last Post played at empty MCG (Melbourne Cricket Ground) as coronavirus pandemic prevents traditional AFL (Australian Football League) game. The first football games after WWII were pretty rough by all accounts.

    Well done you, and I’ll bet she was astounded that you even knew what Anzac day was? Baked some Anzac biscuits myself. Yum! The dogs harass me for them, but I can’t feed them any due to the sultana’s so I make some of the biscuits with sultanas and some without. No point poisoning the fluffies.

    Dogs are social creatures, and you may just discover that their natural habitat is the kitchen!

    There are dog groomers, and then there are dog groomers, and some have shears which are superior to the usual clippers. Think sheep shearing… Fair enough! Had to laugh because once we took Old Fluffy the boss dog to the local dog groomers – they were quite a fancy bunch and had cartoon stylised dogs spray painted onto the outside of the business premises. And they gave us back the wrong Pomeranian. I’m pretty sure I blurted out, this is not our dog. Where Old Fluffy was, was something of a mystery, and they had to replace her collar and lead. And the funny thing was when we finally got the right dog back, they were in such a fluster that Old Fluffy was walking around the shop eating their produce. Another way of putting that politely is that Old Fluffy was shop lifting, but she never would have been there in the first place if they had not stuffed things up. I did not alert the hapless folks running the shop because I put the cost down to ‘idiot tax’ – I mean they gave me the wrong Pomeranian. She was a super naughty dog that dog.

    It would probably take a load off Eleanor’s mind to know that HRH will end up in a household that she is known in and will be taken care of. Some people can be callous with dogs.

    You guessed rightly! 🙂 Withering was the look I gave the coughing guy, and he kept his distance.

    Very wise, and sometimes a prod in the right direction is all one needs. My take on the future is less toilet paper, and more flour (and spelt is a fine option). I have plans in relation to that spelt plant, but am seriously running out of time to implement them. No doubt the plans will happen when the time is right. Maybe… The wise old one’s from your country may have quipped that one cannot eat toilet paper. 😉

    One rarely hears that word nowadays, but it is such a goodie, and very old fashioned. Ah, of course I have not indulged my whims and got stuck into that particular TV series (although I am well aware of it). Time pressures and all that messy business.

    It never even occurred to me to freeze bananas and I await the report from your experiments in that direction. Dried banana chips are really tasty. Speaking of which, we’re gaining ground and may be up to about 20% of last year’s tomato crop, although passata sauce is right out this year. Everything is getting dehydrated, we’re not even eating tomatoes fresh. A sad crop this year, and I had a bit of quiet time today to begin cogitating upon the design of cold frames to raise seedlings – like they used to use in your country back in the day.

    Patrick Wyman made some outstanding and entirely accessible comments. Thanks for the link, and like our fictional friends in Camulod, they probably had no idea. However, despite that, they gave the circumstances their all, knowing that failure was a possibility and more likely than not.

    Softly, then loud, goes the poem of Walt Whitman. And there is power in the words and the cadence. “Sing on there in the swamp, O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call”. Walt is good.

    That’s possible about your friends in Idaho, and I wish their daughter a speedy and full recovery. Time will tell how this story plays out, and in the meantime it buys us all precious time – the one thing that is limited to us all.

    How did the Anzac biscuits turn out? The batch of hot cross buns we baked taste a bit like scones but with fruit. We may have to spend a bit more time on the recipe.

    Better get writing!



  72. @ Inge:

    Few things are more fascinating than genetics. Hmm . . . My mother’s broken bones do heal very quickly, and my father has never broken any bones. My father’s father lived to be 96 and his grandmother to be 92, so I have reason to be optimistic. In a funny coincidence, this morning my son sent me something – with a video – about Germany’s oldest gymnast, a woman of 94. She is incredible.


  73. Yo, Chris – Well, I made 7 1/2 dozen Anzac biscuits! Had the sense, this time, to write on the recipe, “Makes 7 1/2 doz.” If I don’t go crazy, next time, I can half the recipe. They turned out pretty good. Crisp, but chewy. Great broken up on a bit of ice cream. I think the helper from New Zealand wasn’t surprised. I think we talked about it last year, and she knows I talk, regularly, to someone from Down Under. My friend in Idaho said, “I wondered why I was seeing recipes for Anzac biscuits, everywhere.” 🙂 .

    That was a very good bit of video about Anzac days, past and present. I was describing it to Susan, and she said, “That sounds so forlorn.” Another good old word.

    “We’ve mislaid your dog”, just doesn’t cut it. Several people thought the groomer had sent back another dog, in place of HRH, but, to me, her personality shined through. LOL. One would be tempted to post one of those online reviews. “Pretty good groomer, but they misplaced my dog. Temporarily.”

    Well, good luck with tomatoes, next year. One just never knows …

    A couple of nights ago, I saw what looked like birds, down around Portland, on the radar. The next day, hundreds of geese flew over.

    We sure are seeing a lot of walkers, about. With or without dogs. Many family groups. Susan noticed that, unlike the past, they’re not buried in their devices! Actually walking and conversing with each other. How novel! 🙂 .

    I officially kicked off Slug Hunting Season, night before last. Hmmm. I wonder if it’s considered “essential?” Got 16 the first night, and 7 last night. But who counts? :-). That would be crazy! Lew

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