Fluffy Red Shoe Envy

When you live on the underside of the planet, things are different. Europe and North America, well they’re heading into Summer. However, in the Southern Hemisphere, we’re heading into winter. And over the past week an Antarctic blast has delivered cold air and serious amounts of rain.

One of my pleasures is reading a book at a cafe. I do most of my book reading in cafes. It is very civilised. On a cold winter’s morning, you can dive into a book whilst supping on a coffee and enjoying some yummy food, whilst occasionally glancing out the window and thinking to yourself just how horrid it is out there.

Cafes down under often have seating outside the building. On warm days it is quite the pleasure to read a book, enjoy a coffee whilst the sun gently kisses your skin.

Unfortunately with the times that we currently all find ourselves in, cafes down under are a take-away service only. And winter arrived early this week. So there the editor and I were at the local General Store / Post Office on Saturday morning to pick up the local newspaper, check the mail and grab some milk. Whilst we were there, we ordered some take away coffees.

The sheer waste that is a take-away-use-once coffee cup is to my mind an abomination. But then just to add to my misgivings, the Antarctic blast meant that it was 3’C / 37’F outside and the rain was drizzling. In these times, we waited patiently ooutside the building under the veranda, whilst the staff inside the toasty warm building prepared the coffee in an abominable take away cup. Hardly inspiring conditions to enjoy a coffee, but local businesses need local support in these times and so we just sucked it up.

Anyway, we’re tough and have lived up in the cold mountains north of Melbourne for so many years that we’re now used to the cold weather. During such cold weather, the editor and I play a game which runs along the lines of: Guess how seriously heated that person’s house is. It is an easy game to play because you make a solid assessment based on what a person is wearing in the cold conditions.

Both the editor and I were dressed up in what I amusingly describe as dead sheep gear. That’s my fancy name for woollen clothing. So despite the cold temperatures, I was snug in my genuine vintage sheepskin jacket and Irish woollen hat. I have an unnatural love for that jacket and I’ve told the editor that if the house is burning down, and she can get to it and I can’t, just do what you can to rescue the sheepskin jacket. Some things are irreplaceable!

The editor was likewise dressed up in dead sheep gear. We could not read a book or the newspaper due to it being take away only service plus it was just cold and rainy. However, we were still toasty warm. So there we were in the biting cold enjoying our take away coffees when a local lady remarked to the editor that she had: Fluffy Red Shoe Envy. Hmm.

Fluffy Red Shoe Envy!

The local lady was admiring the editors fine choice of footwear on that cold morning. And the editor was toasty warm because she was wearing her locally manufactured red sheepskin boots. There is nothing like genuine sheepskin to keep you warm in really cold conditions. Plastic replicas need not apply. Anyway, I’ve long since noted that plastic clothes do not keep people as warm as natural fibres. Plastic however is notably cheap.

Bizarrely enough and despite the stated envy, the local lady could not obtain a pair of the editors boots even if she wanted to. The manufacturer closed for business a year or so back. The business had manufactured for years and years out of an inner city warehouse, and I too had bought sheepskin boots from their factory outlet store at the front of the warehouse. And the shoes have just lasted and lasted. They’re good quality shoes. But now that they’re no longer manufactured locally, I treat the boots very carefully because like my vintage sheepskin jacket, they too have become irreplaceable items.

The business had a long manufacturing history, but eventually the property was sold off and may have even been converted into an apartment building. It is a funny world where it is more profitable to sell off a property as sub-standard housing stock, rather than using that same property to run a business.

Many long years ago I worked as a manufacturing accountant for a company that produced ladies boots. As a consequence I now know far more about womens footwear than I probably should, perhaps even more than Al Bundy. But one thing I learned was that the locally made boots were produced with care, and the quality was good. The business however just couldn’t compete with cheap plastic imports, and quality rarely factored into that equation.

It was a sad thing to watch a factory getting packed up and sold off, and it wasn’t the last factory I watched that happen too either. A lot of skilled people were put out of work, and many of the machines were consigned to overseas purchasers. That’s what you get with the policies of globalisation, and to my mind it is a race to the bottom to take advantage of ever cheaper labour rates and / or disregard for their environment.

But then here we are today with closed international borders and uncertainty arising out of the exposed long supply lines. And so I’ve been wondering: Do we as a society have what it takes to begin manufacturing fluffy red sheepskin boots again?

Later that day after the fluffy red shoe envy encounter, we took to the road to visit a nearby specialist fern nursery. Over the past few years I’ve been planting up a gully with all manner of ferns. You can’t be Fernglade Farm without ferns! The specialist nursery has a huge variety for purchase, and the fellow running it is a nice bloke.

The fern gully is an important component of infrastructure on the farm as it captures water that collects on the road above the property. The fern gully slows the movement of water reducing potential erosion and allows water to infiltrate into the soil. And long term readers may recall that the fern gully sits directly above the sunny orchard. All that water stored in the ground means that I rarely have to apply any water to that particular orchard.

New ferns for the developing fern gully

Last week I mentioned the new soap shaker device. This old-school contraption produces soapy water for use in washing up. And best of all it can use the soap that we make. Of course, now that we are using more soap in the soap shaker, we have to make more soap.

Making a big batch of Olive Oil soap

The garden beds had overgrown many of the paths and staircases over the past few months. Getting access to many of the paths was becoming much like an exercise of hacking through the thick jungle. This week, we trimmed all of the vegetation which had overgrown the paths and staircases.

An electric hedge trimmer is used to cut back the growth away from paths and stairs

In a day we removed about a dozen small trailer loads of vegetation. We used the low centre of gravity mower to tow the small trailer loads of vegetation to a dip in the paddock. I assume the dip was the result of a large tree that was once there, but no longer there having fallen over long ago. The trailer loads of vegetation were placed into the dip and then mowed flat. The dip in the paddock disappeared and will be replaced by a very fertile patch of ground.

The low centre of gravity mower tows a small trailer load of prunings to the hole

The paths and stairs now look very neat!

The paths and stairs now look very neat and tidy
A rock wall garden bed now also looks neat after pruning

The large pumpkin enclosure produced an enormous amount of fruit this season. But now with winter fast approaching, the vines are dying and so the fruit was harvested and the vines were mulched up and returned to the soil.

A small red Honda push mower was used to mulch up all of the vines.

A small Honda push mower is used to mulch up the pumpkin vines

It is really hard work pushing that mower through the vegetation. I begin the first cut at a high setting and then slowly lower the cutting height.

The mower mulches the pumpkin vines into ever smaller pieces

The soil in that enclosure is some of the best on the property as it has been fed with compost and woody mulches for about four, maybe five years.


Over the next week, we’ll place a layer of mulch over the entire surface of the soil. That should feed the soil as well as protect it from sun, wind and rain.

There were so many pumpkins and squashes that we almost filled the smaller trailer attached to the low centre of gravity mower. The machine struggled bringing all of the produce back up the hill.

The pumpkins and squashes grown this year almost filled the small trailer

The pumpkins and squashes were all grown from seed saved from last years harvest.

Ollie is impressed with the harvest of pumpkins and squashes

During the mowing of the vines I accidentally ran over a pumpkin that we’d somehow managed to miss. You can see the partly run-over pumpkin in the plastic tub in the above photo.

The rain has been very intense this week, and the other night the ground was so saturated that even the earthworms were making a break to the surface for some air.

A hugely long earthworm makes a break for the surface due to the saturated soil

And in these days of impending winter, the fluffy collective also appreciate fluffy fur:

So much fluffy for one small green couch

Living in a rural area has its advantages and one of them is knowing which farm gate sells what produce and when. The other day we went in search of bulk supplies of honey, and during that journey we spotted a very unusual and amusing road sign…

Yes indeed! Hammer-time must be respected at all costs

Onto the flowers:

Red flower envy
Red leaf change envy
What is this – its not red
Fever few – for when you are red with fever
Finishing on a red salvia envy note

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 477.8mm (18.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 428.2mm (16.9 inches). Last year to this time we’d had only110mm of rain!!!!

72 thoughts on “Fluffy Red Shoe Envy”

  1. Chris,

    Some of us are a bit slow on the uptake, as in, “I tend to make the same mistake 3 or 4 times before I figure it out and move on to the next mistake.” 🙂 I fear your FidoNet question went right over my head.

    In the classic “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly”, the Ugly is caught by a would be killer while taking a bath. The would be killer talks and gloats and gloats and talks, giving the Ugly enough time to grab his own gun and kill the would be killer. The Ugly then says, “If you’re going to shoot, shoot, don’t talk.” Good advice, that, and would fit right in with the evil genius overlord list thing.

    Tires on my vehicles typically last 55,000 km or longer. I’ve been purchasing them from the same small business since the early 1990s. One of the perks of taking tire and minor auto repairs to the same place forever is that there are a few free services they’ve provided me and the Princess that they charge for if you’re not a regular customer.

    How was movie night? We watched the Minions movie Saturday night and laughed so hard we were crying.

    I KNOW I dodged a bullet with the girlfriend 40 years ago. Her dad makes “rude, crude, ignorant unpleasant jerk” sound kind and amiable. And she never truly broke away from her parents. She married other coworker and they lived on her dad’s “complex”, which is really a bunch of people he approves of on a private road. Then she and hubby moved into town, but when the kids all grew up he had enough, left her and married a rich gal. (I ran into my ex GF once and heard all about it.) Her parents bought her a small house, then she remarried, sold the house and now she and new hubby live on dad’s “complex”.

    Princess and I met on the job. Although who harassed who is open for discussion. 🙂

    The hillsong mob? Uggghhh! The cultish church I grew up in was very simialr to that type of thing. There was an Australian bloke whose church was related to our lot in the USA. I saw through him one day, and that view of reality was one of the final catalysts that got me out of that movement. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Howard_Carter_(evangelist)
    This time working from home and getting more relaxed is allowing me to start dealing with some of my difficulties stemming from being in that movement throughout my teens and 20s.

    Yes, I saw that a couple of Mr. Greer’s answers surprised you. May I ask what alarmed you in his post and answers?

    Yes, accept that you got the next step. That’s all I can do, too. I feel fortunate when I clue in and get that step. Occasionally I see 2 steps, but that’s rare.

    Spent Saturday moving compost. Placed 5cm in each of the containers, dug it in, then added more to fill them to the brim, which was at least another 4cm or more. If you might recall, I dug leaves into the raised beds last autumn, then dug in more leaves in March. Two or 3 weeks ago I put another layer of leaves atop the beds, and tried to keep them wet enough to not blow away. So yesterday I put about 5cm of compost on top of that layer of leaves. Planting can start this week. I’ll keep you informed.

    I’ve had the same fortune with wool clothing that you’ve had with the sheepskin coat. We have matching hand woven wool coats. They’re wonderful: thick with a very tight weave. Our best winter boots have thick wool replaceable liners, although the Princess’s have a plastic outer layer. I purchased a pair of mukluks several years ago. Thick wool replaceable liner, thick moose hide outer layer. Those are WARM! I wore them once at -30C and my feet never got chilly.

    The Editor’s boots are great. So great that the Princess is threatening to visit you and, ummm, “borrow” the boots. Alas! (for us, and good for you) our passports are about to expire, and renewal is shut down, and there’s no international travel. But be afraid, be very afraid! Your garden gnome and I have an understanding. Who knows what shenanigans and “borrowings” he performs when you’re not paying attention! 😉

    The photo of the fluffies on the sofa is priceless. Is that Ruby giving a sad, woebegone eye to the camera as if to say, “Papa, leave us alone and let us sleep. That camera is keeping me from my beauty rest.”


  2. Chris,

    I forgot. The rain. The BIG rain on Saturday evening. Another fizzle. Forecast was between 6mm and 12mm. Official weather station got a little over 1mm and we probably had 3mm or 4mm here. Had a good windstorm and a little bit of thunder. Sigh.


  3. Hi Lewis,

    That’s funny. You might get a laugh out of this, the local farm machine repair dude remarked that my low centre of gravity mower would make a good starter mower. Things that make you go hmm. This afternoon I was listening to the national youth news radio show and they were asking listeners to discuss whether they’d like to travel when national borders opening again at some stage in the future.

    Now of course many see travel as a ‘rite of passage’ and even use the words ‘dream holidays’ (riffing off your ‘starter’ concept). Take your mind back to a few years before the GFC. Now back then I was working a very senior role at a not insignificant privately owned company. The editor also worked full time as an accountant. It would be a big stretch on the friendship to suggest that we were broke. So there we were, and going on an overseas holiday for us was an extraordinary stretch of the household budget and few people travelled at that time. And yet only a few years later nobody thought anything was at all unusual about expecting an overseas holiday. In fact it had become an accepted norm for many people and many threw around words like ‘rite of passage’ and ‘gap year’. From my perspective it was all very strange and not even close to being sustainable. Yup, run to the hills… I suspect that when borders will open again, most people will be too poor to take overseas travel as a regular option.

    Anyway, a few years back people down here begun talking about dream weddings, and dream houses and dream holidays. And somehow that idea had been slipped into the collective narrative. Livin’ the dream! Anyway, few people recalled that dreams can also be nightmares. And here we all are today. What do you, people hear but they don’t necessarily act on advice or data.

    Bananas don’t keep well down here either, but I’m really intrigued by your freezing experiment. You know back in the day bananas were also diced and then dehydrated into very tasty banana chips. have you ever come across those? They’re not bad because the taste gets concentrated, but you’d want sun dried (or hot aired dried) bananas rather than chemically assisted dehydrating.

    A chamber pot! Hopefully the NY matron was very cool about the correction in her fine new antique? 🙂 And hope it was washed out thoroughly beforehand? So wrong, but as to the veracity of the story, need we check the details? They might get in the way of a good story!

    When we went to the historic mansion a month and a bit back, I noticed in the main bedrooms, and main guest rooms, there was a wash stand next to the bed where the chamber pots were kept. And interestingly, the mansion had running water and apparently some of the earliest flush toilets in the state. Imagine that! And whilst there were only a few indoor bathrooms, one of them had a – quelle horreur! – shower. Back in those days showers were considered very hazardous (for unspecified reasons) and were for the exclusive use of the men folk. And the little details of life there were quite astounding. The valet was pretty much considered to be the head servant and general factotum for the main fella of the mansion. The valet even scored the bosses used cast off clothes as he was expected to be seen as he had to organise all of the little details that needed doing upon request. And interestingly the lady of the house had an equivalent maid with identical perquisites, but I forget the exact title. It certainly was an interesting look into how things were done back in the day at that social level.

    Do you have a Rhodie or Azalea botanical garden? You have an ideal climate for the plants.

    Those murder hornets look very nasty, and I do hope that they are not in your part of the world.

    The guy is a prolific author, and I have not heard of him before. Thanks for mentioning your book find, and are you enjoying the history? To start European expansion into this continent as a massive penal colony (and surplus population pressure relief valve) is such a bizarre tale. I’m yet to hear of anyone suggesting that cruise liners can be converted into prison hulks – but you heard it here first! Should get some intellectual property protection on the idea. Anyway, it is hardly a new idea. Visiting some of the old penal colonies is what I’m guessing would be like visiting ancient Roman ruins. Some of the buildings are in OK condition, but many are ruins. I dunno how this compares to Rome, but there was a bit of vandalism once they ceased functioning (probably didn’t happen whilst they were operational for obvious reasons) and also repurposing of building materials. That lot almost starved, but the first fleet strangely fared better than the second fleet.

    It is a big question. I hear a lot of people suggesting that things will return to the previous normal, but I don’t know about that as it ignores the economic carnage going on right now. I have this odd feeling that people being home all the time will result in some epic utility bills that will cause further budgetary harm. Nope, I feel that this journey is all about taking a downward step in a short period of time.

    Interestingly, I received an email from the gas supply company today. They’re closing their retail gas supply stores immediately (I believe). And the email was received just after I raised the issue of the wood oven with the editor again. The editor is not a fan due to the cost, but I remain unconvinced about that point of view. Time will tell and we have electricity, but I’d prefer a larger room for error. The folks in the Earth Abides book seem a bit clueless as to their infrastructure, but that may have been the authors experience writ large. I’m enjoying the story, it err, develops for the characters.



  4. Hi DJ,

    About your rain, is April normally a dry month? March and October is like that for me and sometimes the rain just doesn’t eventuate. I tell you, having a view like this is a curse because in a drought year you can see the occasional rainstorms missing the mountain range.

    Not to worry FidoNet was an old BBS protocol from memory. And as to mistakes, well we’ve all made a few of those! So clearly you are in good company. Only liars and charlatans pretend that they’ve never made mistakes. As a comparison, they’re not good company.

    Just watched the clip from the film. Good stuff, now who has a bath with a gun? Also I must congratulate the directors because the guy who was shot actually looked as if he’d been chasing the ugly for eight months. Far from fresh.

    Not bad at all for lifespan for the tyres. Hey, I reckon this whole thing going on at the moment is really proving the value and worth of long established relationships. In that instance you wrote about: You know a guy. Received an interesting email from my bakery product supply folks saying that they were having supply issues with some product lines.

    Movie night was good and watched the Big Short – not sure that was a comedy although there were some funny moments in the film, but mostly it was just an epic tragedy. Never seen Minions, but know of what you speak.

    Run DJ, run!!!! But you already knew that. 🙂 Hey funny hearing how lives turn out over the years. The more English than the English high school I finished at is big into Old Boys reunions – that’s seriously what they’re called. I’ve never felt inclined to go, not out of fear or anything like that, I just don’t feel there will be any upside in the experience, and frankly life and time are short.

    Hehe! Oh yes I can see that, and well done you two! 🙂 Naughty.

    What a question regarding Mr Greer’s reply and I haven’t fully formed my thoughts on the subject. I’d appreciate your input which may assist the clarification process. For a start it is a bit scary to reach an insight reached by none other than Socrates, although to be fair I may have read it somewhere along the lines many years ago – but I can’t recall doing that. But secondly and I’m not entirely sure on the matter, but a little voice is whispering at my conscience that Socrates wasn’t scared of death – the facts speak for themselves – he was scared of getting older. And that is an unpleasant insight that I want to consider a bit longer before continuing the conversation with Mr Greer. Also I read about the historical figure yesterday and there were contradictory elements of sacrifice in there, but with a dash of courage, but also a mighty intellect and arrogance. So yeah, the whole thing is complicated and I haven’t thought the matter through enough that I’m satisfied with the resulting mixture. Anyway I was watching the Michael Moore documentary the other night (and it took me five painful sittings to get through) and the narrator says at 1:29 minutes that he: “truly believes that the path to change is through awareness” and something about apocalypse or maybe it was extinction, I forget now. And it is not lost on me that those words (i.e. awareness) was part of what Socrates was attempting. It might work, but I sort of doubt it and that hand has been so overplayed lately that it is rendered meaningless. Dunno. I suspect if Socrates was around today he wouldn’t have been given such an ultimatum, he would have been listened to and then politely ignored.

    Top work with the compost and I’ll look forward to reading about your planting. Are you using seeds or seedlings?

    I’ve never heard of replaceable thick wool liners in winter boots before. What a good idea for your climate. The best we do on that front is very thick woollen socks (which used to be locally made).

    The editor is chuffed to hear that, and we’ll keep the garden gnome busy with offerings of ferns. That might work, maybe…

    Ruby has that look down pat, and they’re all behind me on the green couch right now. It got down to 14’C inside the house today. Brr! We don’t usually run the wood fire during the day unless it is much colder than this.



  5. Yo, Chris – Presented without comment 🙂 .


    “Red Shoe Diaries?” Never mind. The whole thing was just sleazy. Last week over at Mr. Greer’s, someone was moaning about the lack of American made shoes. But not for long, as, small manufacturers came out of the woodwork. There were way more than I thought there’d be. Pricey? Yes. But quality? Yes. People really need to start thinking of clothes as an investment. With care, “you get what you pay for.”

    As far as off shoring goes, another old saw comes to mind. “You reap what you sow.” Those skilled workers are probably still around, though perhaps a bit long in tooth, now. But here, there’s a problem. In some quarters, the thinking ((?) is, that oldsters should be thrown under the bus, sacrificed up for the economy. What’s interesting is, they’re the same crowd who put the cabosh to National Health Care, by moaning about grandma and “death panels.” But if local manufacturing of needed durable goods, is going to restart, we’re going to need their knowledge … and work ethic.

    I saw a bit of rumbling on the Net, about our NE states organizing and scrambling to re-establish local supply lines.

    I’ve always liked ferns. They’re so beautiful. It’s nice that you can justify them, as part of your water management system 🙂

    One wonders what your place would look like, with a years neglect. Nature takes over and runs rampant. I seem to remember a bit of that in “Earth Abides.” Neat and tidy is an understatement. “Ready for the garden tour”, is more like it.

    That’s quit a haul of squash. What are you going to do with all of them? Squash wine? Beer? But I must say, I don’t see a pumpkin, in the lot 🙂 .

    The flowers, as always, are lovely. They certainly are red, this time of year. Cont.

  6. Cont. Presented without comment:


    Starter mower? LOL. I think he’s trying to inspire a bit of mower envy, in you. Next, he’ll be trying to sell you a combine. With “easy” monthly payments.

    Oh, I remember eating a lot of banana chips, back in the hippy-dippy days. A lot of brands of granola, have it as an ingredient. It will be an interesting experiment.

    Well, I’d always thought the original chamber pot story was a bit of an urban legend. But, now I wonder … Commode can have a lot of meanings, but in Victorian times, as part of a bedroom suite of furniture, there was usually a piece, at least here, called a commode. There was usually a square door, where you put the chamber pot, and a few small drawers for various personal hygiene kit. On the top was usually placed a pitcher and bowl. And maybe a rod to hold a towel. Mirror was either built in, or, hung on the wall. I’ll see if I can find a picture.

    Actually (if you’d watched your Downton Abbey … or, Upstairs, Downstairs 🙂 . The Head Butler ran the household, with the aid of the head housekeeper. The valet and ladies maid were in a difficult position. Not quit downstairs, not quit up. Governesses fell into that same, “neither fish nor fowl” position. They couldn’t eat with the family, and were sometimes unwelcome in the servant’s hall. They were often relegated to taking sad, lonely little meals in their rooms.

    Oh, we have a few rhodie and Azalea botanical gardens, around. I think there’s one, not far off I-5, between here and Portland. I’ve never been interested enough to check them out. No blue ones, ya know? 🙂 . Part of it might be, familiarity. Why make a special trip to see something that you can see in your own yard, or on any block?

    I’m just getting into the Australia book. It seems to take a …softer line, than “Fatal Shore.” But, it’s early days, yet. The author has a lot of “…people looking to change their lives.” Hmm. We’ll see.

    I gave HRH a bit of a trim and a bath, yesterday. Oh, dear. I think I got a bit carried away on her ears. It might be my imagination, but I’m beginning to think she looks more like some kind of terrier. She’s also getting a lot more feisty. I turned off the alarm this morning, swung my feet out of bed, and she started giving me what for. I have no idea why. She’s also getting very demanding about playing keep away, with her dead raccoon squeaky toy. Susan is of the opinion (but then, she has lots of opinions) that HRH was getting old, before her time. Living with an elderly lady, and all. We go out, more, and see more people. And, rather than riding in state on Eleanor’s walker, we walk everywhere. Lew

  7. Hello Chris
    That is a superb number of pumpkins and squashes, I am green with envy.
    Am I being thick? I don’t understand the stop sign story.


  8. Here you go. One Victorian commode. A useful bit of furniture.


    This one is oak, with what’s called “spoon carving.” Over the years, I refinished a few, in walnut, with walnut burl veneer panels. Some had marble tops. Or, tiled back splashes.

    I don’t know where they got that price. These days, they generally sell for less than $100. Lew

  9. Chris,

    I always have a few “volunteer” plants, usually potatoes, that come out of the compost pile. Everything else is from seed. Usually. I planted some carrots today, the seeds being given to me from Princess’s sister. She picked them up in Scotland when visiting her daughter and granddaughters. And I planted a celery. Not seed. I took the base from a celery clump and stuck it in a glass of water. There’s a nice green shoot growing from it, so I put it in the container that has volunteer potatoes in it. Trying another celery in water now.

    Rain? Yes, April is usually fairly wet, but not this year. Spokane averages about 420mm of rain annually, the rainy season starting in October. November and December both average nearly 60mm, January, March and May each between 40mm and 45mm, October, February, April and June each between 30mm and 35mm. The averages say that we get rain in July through September, but unless we get thunderstorms, there’s really nothing from the middle of June until late October. I know, TMI.

    Knowing a guy is important. I don’t know enough guys, but I do know most of the neighbors. Some of us even work together on things periodically.

    Run, DJ, run? Bwahahaha! Good one. I, too, have avoided any and all class reunions from back in the day. No reason to go to them, as there’s really nobody I care to see again. Well, the one person that I was curious about, my high school freshman girl friend, was in my work building 12 years ago looking very confused. I look a lot different, so had to tell her who I was. We caught up, and I was able to assist her with her inquiries while bypassing red tape and saving her a lot of angst. Haven’t seen anybody from that era since.

    Oh, forgot to mention. The coldest I’ve ever been, and it happens a few times a year here…10cm or more of snow on the ground, raining, temperature about +2C or +3C. That gets into my bones and is COLD.

    Okay, thanks about what was bothering you from Mr. Greer’s forum. I’ve thought about this off and on all day, so I hope this helps.

    The insight you had seems to be something that most thinking persons discover sooner or later. I’d forgotten until now, but we occasionally discussed that idea when stuck on physics problems. “We think we’re thinking clearly, but how can we be certain? It’s unclear how we can know.” The idea seems to be a universal question that thinkers all come up with, almost like it’s a universal principle along the lines of entropy or Newton’s Laws that we must consider the idea. It’s probably a membership requirement of the infamous Amalgamated Union of Philosophers, Seers, Luminaries and Other Thinking Persons.

    No matter the person, thinking persons eventually must deal with a tendency toward arrogance. That can still bite me in the backside if I’m not careful, but the Princess with her PhD from the School of Hard Knocks has really helped me be aware of this tendency and keep it tamed. Usually. Maybe. (Disclaimers required!) And it can be quite the blind spot in the thinker, and there is no way of knowing until it’s pointed out which area of competence leads to the arrogance.

    Unfortunately, Mr. Greer’s responses to you were short, as in length and depth of the answers, not in being terse or impolite. One of the problems with studying any biography of Socrates is that Plato often was unclear whether he was writing biographically about the actual Socrates, or if he was writing about his fictional character that helped to explain Plato’s ideas, so what the human Socrates was actually doing and saying is somewhat unclear. We in the 21st century are unable to get into the mindset of an aging intellectual of 400bce. Add to that the idea that Socrates had served in the Athenian military and had watched the leaders of Athens completely barf up their naval advantage and ruin Athens by invading Syracuse during the Peloponnesian War, which probably is why Athens lost the war and its empire and its economy. What was Socrates thinking, what were his emotions like, as a result? With his certainty that he was right and that he was the wisest and for some reason flaunting it.

    It also must be remembered that the philosopher class in Athens was what we would call elite or upper class. There was no idea of doing practical things, no idea of “chop wood, carry water”. With Athens in serious decay, was his upper class lifestyle still possible? And he likely didn’t know HOW to do anything else. Fear of poverty?

    I guess what I’m trying to say is that Athens at the time was complicated, in serious decline, and that Socrates had no inkling of how to ground himself or even that he needed to. His intellect had likely turned inward, his arrogance was likely getting out of control, he couldn’t shut his piehole, and he likely didn’t care. He may not have been aware of his arrogance either. I don’t see fear of death in him at all, nor do I see fear of getting older. I see despair, disappointment, and pushing people too far, many of whom were also dealing with despair and worry due to the declining Athens. Add a dose of angst about how he could continue to live in a declining economy with few skills other than thinking. 2400 years later, it’s hard to know what actually happened and what his motivation was at the end.


  10. Hi Inge,

    It was a pretty good haul of pumpkins and squashes. That particular plant, as well as potatoes have produced well despite the unusual growing conditions this year. The little green round squashes are a particularly tasty and sweet variety. And they all seem to be growing true to type from last years seed.

    The old tomato enclosure was turned into to a dedicated pumpkin bed and that seems like a successful experiment as the vines require a huge amount of growing space to just sprawl.

    Oddly enough melons completely failed this season. I’m scratching my head about that and will try again next season.

    Not at all, I’d be surprised if you had heard of M.C. Hammer the American rap artist. 🙂



  11. Hi Lewis,

    I am very impressed and also very pleased to see that there are creative people out there doing such good work with disposable coffee cups. Kids would love that stuff.

    David Duchovny has had a long career, and he certainly doesn’t shy away from such tales as the red shoe diaries – which I’d never heard of before. He played a very amusing hard bitten author character in the series Californication. I never really watched the X Files, being a bit busy and all that but know plenty about the over-arching story line.

    Exactly, it interests me that apparently some of the clothes stores that specialise in the gentle art of churning (i.e. rapid cycles of inventory) are having a lot of problems in these times with getting an interweb sales presence. A lot of unpleasantness is getting sorted out in this great re-localisation phenomena. If we’d maybe placed a few limits or three, or probably more likely twenty limits, before things hit the skids, we wouldn’t all be where we are today. And when I was a kid, clothes were something that were treated with care, because there wasn’t any replacements forthcoming. And it is not lost on me that the only way to churn inventory is to possibly produce low quality items in terms of materials and construction in the first place. Otherwise it is not an economical strategy.

    I hear you about the ‘reap what you sow’ business. Hmm. A few weeks back when the mulch situation occurred and I was confronted by a person in a high state of emotion as they allegedly threw around a patently untrue accusation, I still offered assistance should it be required. A brusque refusal with something or words along the lines of a claim as to their: Self Sufficiency. I have a vague idea as to what that state of being may entail and it seemed like a big call to me. The thing is the divide and conquer strategy has been used for so long, that people basically forget that they are part of a larger whole. The main problem as far as I see things is that if you know a little bit about what keeps us all alive on a day to day basis, well, let’s just say that you know enough to know how little you actually know about how it all works (if that makes sense).

    I’ve always liked ferns too, and the mountain range is full of little nooks and crannies where the ferns are just waiting for their day in the shade. The ones I bought this year tolerate lots of sun and dry and are present in the mountain range, and they’ll act like a living mulch in the fern gully. They grow around here anyway and I could have simply relocated them, but the fern nursery has been around for years and it is one of those businesses I choose to support. And the water infiltration system just works. It is a simple system which can reproduce itself.

    We do neat and tidy and yeah, it’s in the blood. 🙂 I’ve got a few thoughts about how the various plants and animals would go without us pesky humans always interfering. Of course humans have been part of this environment for many tens of millennia and if I had to grade our current societies efforts I’d give them an F- if only because there is no lower score. It doesn’t matter though, the situation is self correcting, although we just might not like the outcome.

    Those pumpkins keep well. Nuff said! 🙂 I see your stir about the pumpkins and calmly look the other way. Hehe!

    Oh no! Who’d have thunk it about using used coffee cups for seedlings. OK, you’re onto something there and I admit to not keeping an open enough mind.

    Hey, the farm machine repair guy sells really good quality brand new low centre of gravity mowers that have four wheel drive and a bigger motor than the one I scored. He and I have discussed the matter before and he knows I just can’t afford one of them because they cost the same as a small new car. I’m resistant to such talk of easy monthly payments on the basis that it exceeds my comfort levels.

    Hehe! Yeah, no doubts that one series was perhaps an update on the previous series. 🙂 And the mansion household down here ran exactly as you described. To be in one world, and yet not in the other world is a complicated thing. And possibly a person could traverse neither world well. I dunno though, as someone who has worked as ‘the boss’ of a team, but not actually being the owner of the business, it really is a difficult social situation to navigate. But after enough years of that I just decided to not care about it and see where the chips may fall. To be honest, it is no fun to be the leader of a team and take them out to the pub for a celebratory lunch, but it’s expected in such roles.

    Fair enough about the rhodies and azaleas in your part of the world. We have a botanical garden down this way dedicated to the plants, but they only grow well in certain locations and as such have a bit of the economics of scarcity about them. The local gardening club has long been suggesting to replace such plants with blueberries, but they have a focus on edible gardens.

    I’ll be curious to hear how the story goes with the early settlers down here in that book. You know, it is possible that some of the very early settlers were looking for free land and a new start in life, but they really were in the minority and from what I’ve read I believe most folks were either in the military or detained by the military. But then some folks these days dream of heading off to Mars (good luck with that choice), so who knows? Maybe they survived because they were used to such basic privations? The early histories of the European settlement of the continent have sounded strange to my ears because there was a dearth of skilled people sent along with the first and second fleets. It is truly amazing that they survived against the odds. It reminds me of the Earth Abides story in that characters don’t seem to be particularly skilled at survival, and yet there they all are.

    HRH is getting more feisty due to the lack of excess hair and the slowly warming weather in your part of the world. Pomeranian’s have very thick coats and when they get over-hot they become rather sluggish. Take all that excess fur off, and you’ve got a real live wire with attitude to spare! 🙂 Well, exercise is also a form of conditioning, and fluffies have a lot of natural energy to draw upon.

    It was almost the perfect autumn day today, but I was stuck inside looking out and worrying about and assisting with other peoples problems. I’m not whingeing or anything like that, it is just how things roll nowadays. I see signs above the freeways thanking warehouse workers for doing their job, and then telling everyone else to stay home. My profession is largely forgotten about, but mustn’t grumble and all that because very soon I suspect things will be very quiet.

    I don’t believe that society will return to where it was. The best we can do is accommodate ourselves to the new situation. My life and enjoyments must have been pretty basic to begin with because so far there hasn’t been a great deal of changes to routines. I prefer simple stuff because it works.



  12. Hi, Chris!

    I was going to ask who Mr. Hammer was, and why did we need to spend time with him, but you have answered that for Inge.

    You mentioned how you and the editor dress when in town in the winter – I, too have Fluffy Red Shoe envy! – but I can’t go all bundled up into town in the winter here as the shops are so overheated. So I dress for the shops – footwear excluded – and bring warmer overwear with me, having much experience with auto breakdowns and standing outside whilst the thing is worked on.

    The trimmed paths and stairways are looking sharp again. You are certainly getting a lot of use out of the L. G. Mower. “Starter mower”, my Aunt Greta. What a fantastic pumpkin and squash harvest. Ollie wants some pumpkin muffins.

    I am so glad that Scritchy has a new place to flake out – and that the others are accepting her.

    The red maple is especially beautiful.

    I loved hearing more historic mansion anecdotes.

    My son is considering raising quail. This is way down the line and fits in with an orchard plan that he has been working on all winter and spring in the back if our property. He has accumulated an awful lot of fruit and nut trees in pots. The funny thing is – and he had forgotten this – I had a pair of pet Bob White Quail as a girl. My father brought them back from some hunting trip (I never heard why) and the pair turned out to be male and female. She laid an egg most every day like a chicken. Apparently he was busy, too, as they eventually reared 8 young quail. After a certain point we we took them out to the country and let them go as they had originally been wild. Looking through the internet I see some domestic breeds of quail.

    We were living in a suburb, and the thought has just occurred to me that quail could be an alternative to raising chickens in the city; they are so small and quiet and the eggs are suppose to be good. We never ate the eggs; my mother didn’t cook too much besides frozen fishsticks (we had use of my grandmother’s cook).


  13. Hi DJ,

    I was a bit strung out after work today so just went off for a walk in the forest for about an hour. There’s a meteor shower over the next few days, but the moon was so full and so there was no chance of seeing them. It’s nice to think that the Earth is scoring some free minerals from space.

    That makes sense about the potatoes in the compost, and even the tiniest of tubers produce new plants. Celery is one tough plant to grow and the old timers down here used to wrap the plants in newspaper to protect them from hot days. I eat Lovage leaves instead as they have a similar flavour.

    Mate, your lady’s sister would not have been able to do that down here. There may have even been a scene at the airport on arrival! Had to laugh about that, as when we were in Peru we chewed upon Coca leaves as a local remedy for prevention of altitude sickness. That stuff works, but tastes horrible. We travelled one day from about 2,000m to about 3,900m above sea level in a bus and yeah without the leaves it would have been unpleasant. The editor and I were giggling hysterically, whilst people who had abstained were rather ill. Anyway, upon return to these shores one of the sniffer beagles sat down next to a person who had a bag near to mine, and I had this moment of horror – did I get rid of all of the leaves? It pays to be careful in such matters, but those seeds – no way at all would they arrive here. You should see the stuff that customs blocks down here.

    Definitely not TMI, and I appreciate your account of the local weather. It helps me understand the sort of climate that you exist in and I’m always curious about plants response to different climates. They’re tougher than we all guess.

    It is good that you know your neighbours. I know mine too, but there has only ever been one that has traded labour between the two properties, and of late he’s been holed up and keeping quiet, and may have even headed north for a while.

    It is good to assist people and you never know how that will turn out, but yeah class reunions – who needs ’em. 🙂 Hey, imagine the curse of being a childhood actor and peaking in your career at the age of 16? Far out, what a curse.

    Oh my, wet snow and rain. I’ve never experienced a winter like you get in the worst extremes up your way with deep snow. If that happened down here, it would be total bedlam!

    Thank you for considering and expounding up on the matters brought up by Mr Greer regarding Socrates. I’ll take on board what you have written and cogitate upon it. Also I bow to your better understanding of the personage.

    However, there is a current flowing through your explanation and that as their society failed, so to did their thinking class. Are they thus one and the same? I don’t believe so, but one is definitely an artefact or product of the other in either direction. And the history you outlined is one of slow and gradual failure.

    That story interests me because failure provides an opportunity to adapt and grow in different and unexpected directions and possibilities. And furthermore, failure is not necessarily a negative thing if only because we can’t actually do (what I was told repeatedly as a kid) ‘anything you want to do’. Perhaps the Peloponnesian war was something the Greeks had to experience?

    Arrogance is from my perspective a form of anger at challenges to perceived mastery. There is a bit of that going around in society, but it is an inevitably self-correcting mannerism. But then the true master must surely know how little they actually know? It’s complicated, and as you say we’ll never get to the bottom of the story.



  14. Hi Pam,

    Stop! Hammertime! Hehe! It is nice to see some cheeky wag lives out in the middle of nowhere down here and has a deep love of early US rap music. Strange days indeed!

    Hey, it’s not just you suffering from having to deal with overheated buildings – and it becomes difficult acclimating to the cool climate here, then only to have to deal with seriously heated buildings in Melbourne (and they think it’s cold there too). I hear ya, but what do you? Ah, your response is very wise: Layers of clothes. 🙂

    Hehe! Thanks, and we love that low centre of gravity mower – anything else feels like it will tip over on the slope. If you get a chance you should mention such a thing for your son as you never know what machines are about the place.

    The old tomato enclosure makes a perfect pumpkin patch if only because the vines can just take over and sprawl. The plants need a lot of space. Do you grow melons in your garden? They were an absolute disaster crop last year, and I seriously missed home grown water melons.

    Dame Scritchy sends cordial tail wags to you! Wag, wag, woof, woof! She’s alright that dog despite her seriously bad attitude. The two littlies are in awe of her.

    Japanese maples are a favourite plant and they happily self seed here. The leaf colour change is really pretty, and the trees are super hardy once established. How is your garden going? I guess it is still early days in the growing season.

    Thanks for the story of your quail. They’re fast birds, and are probably less noisy than Guinea Fowl. I’ll be curious to hear how the quail go, and orchards do need birds for converting plant matter into rich manure.

    You’re probably right. I have a bit of a confession that when in the inner city I had to go and talk to a neighbour who had inadvertently scored a rooster. Not good. They knew…

    Haha! My mum was not handy in the kitchen either, that’s probably why she got us kids to cook. 🙂 Honestly, I reckon it is good experience as a guy knowing how to cook and clean and generally maintain a house. For one thing it means that the effort required to do such a thing is not lightly disregarded.



  15. takeaway ( or to go, as we would say) packaging- yes, an aspect of our economy that may well begin to phase out. I have a funky old plastic coffee travel mug with lid that I got as cheap swag from some event I don’t even remember anymore. The print on the outside is long gone.

    There was a time when I’d go to a coffee shop for a refill and get the stink eye, but no one blinks now.

    home fires- when we have our kids back for getting together at Christmas ( our cold season), we need to stoke the fire a good bit more to keep them comfy. My mumbling about sweaters doesn’t seem to register.

    red shoes- yes, the relocalization and reskilling will be a tough go, but that may be a silver lining to the covid mess. More people ( and more politicians) are realizing the the cheap but long and tenuous supply chains don’t just take jobs away, but leave us more vulnerable to happenings far away or unexpected.

    I’ll note in passing that I fully respect the editor’s efforts to minimize her internet footprint, but I see a line has been breached now that we’ve seen her feet.

    Also, it’s obvious these are her “go to town” shoes, as they are quite clean and unscuffed. (My wife inspects me every time before we make a trip in to town, to make sure I don’t embarrass her and otherwise fracture social conventions).

  16. @Pam & Chris

    My mother wasn’t a good cook either. She proudly said that when she got married she knew how to cook two things, scrambled eggs and fudge. For many years she gave me the job of cooking (which some of my siblings would refer to as gala dinners). At that point before my father died suddenly they were quite well off so dinner was often frozen Stouffer dinners (which were the best of frozen dinners) and frozen vegetables with a few other things thrown in like maybe potatoes. My father was a very easy tempered low key kind of guy so mostly he went with the flow. It was cereal for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch which we made for ourselves as soon as able. I’ve never been that crazy about cooking and perhaps this is why. Interestingly when my father died and she still had seven of eight kids at home she planted a large garden and out of necessity became a fairly good cook.


  17. Hi Chris,
    Don’t get me started on the waste!! We now are required to get plastic bags at the grocery store though I save my produce bags and bring back each week. Then there’s the take out meals which we do once a week to support the local restaurants that are doing so badly. I can only imagine the medical waste now.

    I too am envious of those boots!! I have the most awful time finding footwear that’s comfortable due to many foot issues. I’ll try on a pair of shoes and walk around for a bit and they feel find only to get them home and do one of my several mile walks to find that my feet hurt (just a little whining here). If I do find a brand that works I’ll get several pairs as the styles are always being discontinued.

    Neat and tidy – I wonder if that’s a characteristic of accountants.

    How will you store all the squash? Ours will do OK in the garage as it mostly stays just above freezing most of the time. If it’s going to be sub zero for awhile I’ll just haul them down to the basement for the duration.

    After a gorgeous weekend our temps have once again plummeted. In fact Friday night we’ll have a hard freeze and everyday for the next ten are 10 to 20 degrees (F) below normal. The asparagus was just started to grow. At any rate I’ve got all my native plants in as well as six new shrubs. I’ll pick up a few herbs this Saturday. I’m breaking quarantine to bring my daughter’s plants to her on Saturday and we’ll get them all planted hopefully.

    On the home school front my daughter sent me a link to one of my granddaughters projects – a ten minute stop motion video from pictures on “Wuthering Heights” her selection from her home school co op literature class (which has ended up online). I’ve got to call her later today to ask how long it took to make it. There’s all kinds of figurines and scenery illustrating the story. Not that I’m a proud grandmother.


  18. Hi Chris,

    So Al Bundy made it to your side of the Big Pond? (I have to put that in capitals because the Atlantic is often referred to as the pond, small p, in this part of the world.) When that show was in prime time, Mike and I still had TV. We started watching it with the sound off, making up our own dialogue for it, because we thought our dialogue was raunchier than the actual dialogue. After we told some friends what we were doing, they told us that the actual dialogue was even raunchier than we were making up – and they were right. Then we watched it with the sound on. Talk about peaking in high school; that was Al and Peg Bundy.

    I have all the cool weather crops in the garden, but the weather here is not favorable for planting the warm weather crops. In fact, we could see lows close to or even below freezing come this Saturday morning. If so, that would be a record low for the day, and just a day before the latest recorded spring frost. I need to pot-on my tomato seedlings into larger pots because I think it will be at least another week or two, maybe longer, before I can plant them. I’ll dig and prepare all the beds so I am ready to plant as soon as proper May weather returns.


  19. @ Lew – Mike and I have a commode, but until you linked to the photo, we didn’t know how it was originally used. Mike’s father bought and restored it. It didn’t have whatever top it had originally had, so his dad made a marble top for it. Ours is made from a light-colored wood, maybe pine. It has a similar style of decoration on the doors and drawers. It was one of the items left in Mike’s mom’s apartment after she died. Mike’s brother didn’t want it but I have always liked it, so we took it. We use it as a microwave cart and have filled the drawers and large compartment with various kitchen appliances and utensils.


  20. Yo, Chris – I noticed one of the Ladies was wearing a t-shirt, yesterday, and the pattern was disposable coffee cups 🙂 . I’ll see if I can get you one.

    Duchavny is very good at what he does. I watched a bit of “X-Files” and liked it, but, at that time my life was also pretty busy and it was one of those things, I at least, would have to stick with to not loose the plot. I suppose in my next life, I should go back and watch all the seasons, in order. I tried to watch “Californification” but threw in the towel after about three episodes. Can’t remember why I didn’t warm to it. But I’ve seen him in other things (can’t for the life of me think what) where he was very good.

    Here’s an interesting article I saw on recycling …


    Yes. Clothing and “the churn.” When I read that book on global recycling and the second hand market, it was really fascinating how people working in the intakes of op-shops, and sorters at other factories had the skill of just picking up a garment, and in a split second, know the quality. It’s a skill that take awhile to learn. I’d say now is the time to stock up on quality clothing, in the op-shops (when they reopen), because I think a lot of that stuff is going to disappear.

    “Self sufficiency”, hmmm? Although it’s pretty clear that your neighbor was a prat, from the get-go, I wonder if he’s perhaps a bit overwound, now, as he has doubts about just how self sufficient he is? Holes in his master plan, are probably now becoming apparent. Well, I think we’ve all been caught short, here and there. You plug the holes as best you can, and carry on.


    Speaking of which, the dehydrator is happily humming away in the kitchen. Bananas on the bake (dry?). I’ve got about two days of fresh, left, and then we’ll see if dry or frozen best suits my needs. I’d say the prep on each is equally fiddly.

    Also, getting the ferns from the nursery, you know what they are. No mucking about with field guides. You did keep track of those tags, didn’t you? 🙂 .

    You gotta know a guy … Maybe the machine repair guy will keep an eye out for a good used model, of whatever you lust after. He might give you a call if he stumbles across one. Stranger things have happened. If it’s meant to be, the universe will provide.

    Interesting things in the Australia book, that I didn’t know. Arthur Phillip, the commander of the First Fleet was an interesting fellow. Rather an enigma, as he didn’t leave behind much ruminating on his inner life. We can only judge him by his actions. He really dug in his heels, and refused to sail, until he was well supplied, to his satisfaction. He didn’t coddle the convicts, but was really concerned with their welfare. He made sure he had enough medical staff, on hand. Boats were frequently fumigated and limned. He insisted, when possible due to weather, they get as much exercise as possible. A woman had been separated from her very young child, and he brought the kid down, personally, from London to re-unite him with his mother.

    The sailors, marines, etc.. were an interesting lot. Many of them were veterans of the recent unpleasantness in the American colonies 🙂 . One even fought at the Battle of Bunker Hill (Boston), a major battle that has gained mythic status in our folklore. There are monuments … More soldiers and sailors volunteered for the First Fleet, than there were slots. One reason was, as England wasn’t at war with anyone in particular, at that time, most military was on half retirement. If they went to New South Wales, and did a bit of a stint, they would be mustered out and granted land. Many took their families, along.

    I suppose some things will be better, and some worse, however we come out the other end. Kunstler was not comforting, this week. I try not to get too wound up over bad outcomes. We’ll see …

    I talked to Eleanor’s daughter, yesterday. She’ll probably be in rehab until June 1st. She had run further downhill, than the doctor realized. They want her to be able to walk from her room, to the dinning room (with walker), before they’ll release her. They’ve also got her meds adjusted, and her mind is clearer.

    Well, I got a bit of a small lift, yesterday. In the morning, I noticed a blooming bed of Iris, across the street. I was suffering from serious Iris Envy. I planted some miniatures, in one of my beds. A couple of different varieties. One bloomed last year, and this. But the blossoms are rather small. Yesterday afternoon, I discovered two blossoms, hiding among the garlic and horseradish. Quit pretty. Blue, of course.

    I got a message, today, that the Club has gotten moved to it’s new digs and that I should stop by and take a look. Maybe, tomorrow morning. We’ll see. Lew

  21. @ Claire,

    Over at Mr. Greer’s conversation place for covid-19 a few weeks ago, you had asked about false positives and negatives in the testing. I had suggested that I’d see what my contacts knew. I asked my health district contacts if they knew anything. They have no answers. I’m thinking that nobody is looking at that aspect of any of the tests. The antibody tests seem to have problems also.


  22. Chris,

    Meteor shower? Cool! I was travelling late one August night and had just crossed into Washington from Idaho and got a flat tire. I pulled to the side of the highway and changed it. Took forever, as this was at 1:00 a.m. at the peak of the Perseid meteor shower. No lights, no noise, just me and the meteors.

    I’ll keep lovage in mind in case the celery experiments don’t work out. Thanks.

    That’s a hefty climb! Altitude sickness is nothing to trifle with. On our one trip through Colorado, we went through Monarch Pass at 3,448 meters. We started the climb at about 2,350 meters. Fun trip with no altitude sickness.

    Plants adapt better than we do to the extremes. Interesting studies, they are. We may have opposable thumbs and HAL 9000 and Eddie the Friendly Shipboard Computer, but we sure are fragile compared with a lot of other living things.

    Hahaha! Reaching the peak at age 16. Like the Bundy’s, as Claire mentioned. We’re starting to see that many people hit their peak at about that age and are still trying to climb back to it.

    I’m glad I could give you food for thought. As to the thinking class in Athens, well, I don’t think the entire class withered. Generalizing from a single example, a form of inductive reasoning, can be useful but can lead to incorrect conclusions. Plato was still alive and doing well after Socrates died, although he later left Athens. He was born during the war, so his view of Athens didn’t include the peak glory years that Socrates knew. Other thinkers remained in Athens. So, I think there was something unique about Socrates rather than the entire group of Athenian thinkers at that time.

    That’s a good point about failure. Definitely shows where limits are! Oh, but “limits” is a naughty word in this day and age. Anyhow, I think that the Greeks couldn’t have avoided that war if they’d wanted to. Neither Athens nor Sparta were happy with the other, and neither was willing to limit their respective ambitions. The discord may have actually started during the wars with Persia and festered…

    Hmmmm, okay, nice practical working definition of arrogance. I’d never looked at it that way. A large cause of the Peloponnesian War was how arrogant Athens, or at least its leaders, had become. And having served in the Athenian military and being the alleged wisest man alive only to see Athens humbled and his own self questioned…Another part of arrogance is unbalanced pride. Or maybe this pride can lead to arrogance. Perhaps for Socrates to find his city humbled, and himself humbled, and suddenly to gain a dose of awareness of personal failings he hadn’t realized he had…Not to mention his age. Maybe he wasn’t afraid of aging, but perhaps he was afraid of declining and suffering through a lingering, painful death. A combination of many things may have contributed to his decision.


  23. Hi Chris,

    What a haul of pumpkins and squashes! Will you and the editor eat them quick enough without preserving?

    I made a variant on the good ol’fashioned shepherds pie yesterday. Secret ingredient – curry powder. I had a few tablespoons of some (snobbish travel voice engaged) authentic sri lankan curry powder I bought from a very authentic smelling market stall a few years back. Seemed a fitting use for it, and I note that a vegetarian shepherds pie with lentils is very similar to a lot of Indian style vege curries. Anyway, pie turned out great and goes down well in the cooler weather we are having this week.

    Like you, I was a little perplexed by some of the characters in “Earth Abides”. It all comes together by the end and I found it a very satisfying story. Mrs Damo was not as impressed though, she could not get past the behaviour of some characters.


  24. Hi Steve,

    I hear you about the take away use-once packaging, but paradoxically the current situation has meant that this stuff is continuing to be used and possibly in greater quantities. They call them keep-cups down here, but those are a no-go zone nowadays. We still take our own bags to the supermarket and fresh food market and have done so for a very long time, but we’re expected to handle them whilst the staff are disallowed to handle them.

    How weird was it that people looked down their noses at reusable packaging like your coffee refill cup, but then here we are today.

    My mates who live in the city regularly complain about how cold it is up here. And when they’re here, I have to run the wood heater so that the house is an even 22’C / 72’F and that is way too hot for my comfort. But you’re expected to accommodate others – and talk of sweaters gets laughed at. I do note that my mates do not offer assist with the firewood process. Hmm.

    Yup, people are waking up to the fact that long supply chains are a total disaster.

    Oh no! The editor is so busted. 🙂

    Your wife is a wise woman for enforcing such standards. I salute her efforts, and you may note that strict advice is provided to me too in that regard! 🙂 Hehe!



  25. Chris:

    I am moving ferns here and there. Besides loving shade and living on a mountainside, deer don’t eat them.

    When I used to eat yogurt – I never made it – I bought it sometimes in the small containers. For many years I planted seeds in those – the same containers for many years. The economy size yogurt containers are excellent for larger plants. My son would love to have a low gravity lawnmower. However, he has that little secondhand tractor that he bought last year and swears that he is going to rebuild the motor this summer. And put treads on it like a tank; that should make it safer on our terrain.

    Yesterday, my son went to the next county and brought back – for $10 a piece – six 55 gallon steel barrels/drums that he calls “burn barrels”. His plan is to cut off the tops and bottoms and put each over the tree stumps from the trees that he is going to clear for the new orchard area. One puts brush and limbs, etc. in the barrels and tries (I use “tries” here as I don’t believe it will work) to burn out the stumps. These will be wet stumps . .
    He plans to go get 6 more drums. What I want to know is where will these things be stored when not in use?

    Yes, we grow melons. Some years they do great, others there is nothing. We would be planting the seeds out about now, but we are having a cold spell; it will be close to freezing for a couple of nights. The tomatoes have been out for a month, the peppers for about 10 days. We have the best spinach crop ever. It just melts in your mouth.

    The agapanthus that I planted in February also looks fine. I shouldn’t have put the poor thing out so early.


  26. @ DJSpo:

    I so enjoyed your comments about Socrates and Athens. We had a beagle named Socrates once. He was the dumbest dog I ever met.

    I tried what you are doing with celery once. It stayed green for months, but never grew roots.


  27. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for your story about cooking. Had to laugh, but nobody dared criticise my mother’s cooking (which frankly was not up to scratch), but I tell ya, my older sisters weren’t shy about criticisms when I was at the kitchen helm! Hehe! A tough school, but if your meals were considered ‘gala events’ then you most certainly wowed the audience. 🙂 The change in your mother’s life reminded me of the old saying about: Necessity being the mother of invention.

    Hmm, yes, waste has gone into overdrive, and for your interest costs have been transferred in that regard. Businesses and commercial waste is usually paid for by the business responsible for it. Now that a huge portion of the population is (apparently) working from home, the waste cost has been pushed onto households and the local government bodies. Now if you think about it for a bit, a lot of those home schoolers and home workers are going to discover some epic utility bills soon especially as they descend into winter. Oh yeah, it’s gonna happen.

    I shall pass your kind words onto the editor. She has been most pleased with the feedback on the boots! The editor does that too with shoes and brands – they’re not all the same, and because we are stomping around a farm for a few days per week, good work boots are a necessity too. And yeah, the constant discontinuing is a form of the churning exercise.

    It could be, but I have met messy accountants – you know the one’s with paper all over their offices in unidentifiable stacks. I feel a sense of calmness from having a neat and orderly environment around me, but that’s just a personal preference, and I don’t hide behind huge piles of unidentifiable stacks of paper.

    Actually I see Damo asked the same question, we store them on a shelf in a dark room where the temperature stays fairly constant. However we grow varieties that have very thick skins and so they last and last anyway – well into spring. Certainly they don’t require freezing here, not sure why.

    Ouch! I hope your fruit trees don’t lose any blossoms and that Doug’s bees are OK in such weather. I wouldn’t wish my last spring and summer combo climate on my worst enemies.

    If your granddaughter is aware of (and I’m assuming has read) Wuthering Heights and can produce scenes from the book then her education is pretty good! 🙂



  28. @ Margaret:

    When I got married I could make pizza, chocolate chip cookies, and pie crusts (but not fillings), which were taught me by 3 different people other than my mother. I got on the ball and learned to cook fast, though. And I taught our 2 sons to cook and clean and mend clothes.

    That sounds like such a lovely video that your granddaughter made.


  29. Hi Claire,

    Hehe! Yup, those that know, well let’s just say that they know!!! That particular show had something of a cult following about it. Not sure why that was the case. It was pretty funny and very silly though, and you and Mike sound like you had a blast with the show.

    The Pacific is only one massive and extraordinarily long swim from your western shore to the eastern shored own here, so technically you are on the money. 🙂

    Ouch. Margaret was likewise reporting cold spring weather in her corner of the world. Good luck with the blossoms and any seedlings out in that weather. The apricots… Only two apricot trees produce fruit last year, but on the other hand most of the orchard grew a lot. However, the last growing season down here was without doubt the most challenging that I can recall, but what do you do other than adapt and try and time things as best as you are able to do?

    As to seed raising I considering making some custom cold frames so that the seeds can be raised in the same general area that they will be transplanted into. Still not sure yet, but plans are forming.



  30. Hi Lewis,

    It is funny you mention the t-shirt, but years ago a mate of mine used to wear t-shirts with all sorts of statements such as the disposable coffee cups that you saw.

    Worked in the big smoke today and on the way back we stopped off for some gourmet burgers and chips. It was very tasty, but there was so much salt on the chips that I began feeling rather queasy. A bit of water helped get things back into some semblance of balance. Next time I will ask them to lay off the salt on the chips. That hasn’t happened to me before. I’ll try some leafy greens from the garden too before bed. And I’ve been sipping at water ever since. Postscript: The greens worked well.

    It is no small matter as the X-Files has something like 190 episodes. That’ll take a bit of watching and life is short. Fair enough about Californication too as it was a bit silly. The season with Tim Minchin was the best of that show. He’s (David Duchovny) a good actor. I recall an interview with Tim Minchin (an Australian actor and talented musician) where he said his mum may have said that she (and I can’t recall the exact wording) not exactly pleased with his role in the show. He’s a very funny bloke.

    I’ll check out the supply chains article tomorrow, and I made it about half way through the prepper article. We all remember the days when that lot were treated with disdain and derision. Well the tide of public opinion has turned in their favour. Not that stockpiling is such a bright idea. I’d be curious as to your perspective, but I believe that the next step on from prepping is to be able to produce useful stuff using local resources. Kind of like what used to happen back in the day. Can’t say I’m a fan of globalisation or neoliberal economics, but you know, the powers that be gave it a go and for a fair while it delivered the goods to plenty of people.

    Down here I have heard that charities have begun stopping taking ‘stuff’ from people so things may be a bit weirder on that front than either you or I can imagine. The story has been put around that with people having to spend more time at home, there has been a lot of decluttering, courtesy of someone by the name of Kondo – whoever that is. Now the thing is, neat and tidy is a lifestyle choice for me, decluttering may be a form of an attempt at seizing control of something (immediate environment) in a tumultuous time for others. Personally I feel that we are going through an epic horse-breaking style of change. Whatever may be the case, it is an impressive feat.

    Well let’s just say the first time I encountered the person he backhandedly insulted the editor and I to our faces – and we were like: I guess that’s an option, but neither of us would do such a thing. Anyway, my tolerance has limits, and the other week that person reached that line, and then crossed it, and discovered consequences. It is all very unfortunate. They complain about the cold during the winter months all of the time, so I don’t feel they’ll be in for a long time up here.

    Hey, how many days (or hours) does it take to dehydrate a banana? Never tried that, but might.

    Haha! Hey, the guy at the nursery said exactly that to me. He said he liked people who knew what they wanted. Can you believe he then confided that people turn up to the nursery and want to buy a ‘fern’ – like it is an abstract concept. We had a bit of a laugh about that. He’s a good bloke.

    Your scrying skills are good today. The farm machine repair guy does exactly that and he has supplied me with some good second hand equipment he wanted to off load over the years. I trust the guy and he has never let me down.

    Again you fill in missing chunks of education. I hadn’t known that about Arthur Phillip, but it is a wise strategy and I can imagine the Crown looking to keep costs down. And the Fatal Shore presented a very different story about the sailors and marines on the First Fleet. I had no idea that volunteers for the venture exceeded available slots. But yeah, it would have been one way for a veteran to get land for themselves and their family. The Roman’s had a similar policy for their veterans did they not? The unpleasantness in the American colonies did not turn out so well for old England and so a different adventure was possibly an escape from that story of defeat.

    Mr Kunstler is in his element right now, and I always enjoy his writing. He has some important things to say, and I do hope that his readers pick up on the importance of maintaining relationships and networks as part of the concept of community. I reckon he slips such ideas in his essays. Hey, I don’t know much, but something will surely happen!

    Thanks for the update on Eleanor’s health, and we’re all thinking of her. Acquaintances are plentiful, friends are few.

    Hehe! Nice score, and blue irises too. 🙂

    Did Yardbirds sell? Hope the Club’s new digs are good and hopefully not in the dodgy end of town?



  31. Hi DJ,

    Apparently the meteor shower is an annual thing and it is caused by the left over chunks from Haley’s Comet (which I saw years ago). Comets are cool and I can well understand how they’d make an impression on the ancients. I felt excited seeing the comet – and the view was superb.

    Very cool! Like it. The flat tire was not a problem, it was a call to adventure on a quiet highway at night. The meteor shower would have made the inconvenience slip away.

    Lovage is far hardier than celery, and every year the plant comes back with minimal care. Back in the day that was where celery flavour was derived from.

    Your Colorado drive sounds very similar from that respect. It is no small matter, but I suspect Coca leaves would be frowned upon in your country (as they are down here), but they sure do work for preventing altitude sickness. They truly taste revolting though. We ended up seeing the Condors at that altitude. Amazing stuff.

    No doubts it is probably you and I, but like plants, in a few generations others will happily adapt to new circumstances.

    It’s not good, I guess what would be troubling about reaching a peak at such a young age, would be walking away from it all and doing something different despite the returns and investment. And it would be a problem if your past followed you on that journey. The best you could hope for is leveraging it I guess.

    It is a pleasure to enjoy these conversations, and dunno about you, but I get exposed to ideas, concepts and interests that I’d never otherwise be exposed to. OK, so if there was something special about Socrates, the thing that keeps nagging at my mind was why keep poking others for a reaction – which he managed to get. I see the courage angle in that he did so despite knowing what the reaction would be, but still it somehow sounds a “bit off” to my mind. I can’t really define why I get that particular feeling about the story. Dunno.

    Limits is one of the naughtiest words around. Look at the reactions to the hard limits being imposed on society right now. 🙂

    “Maybe he wasn’t afraid of aging, but perhaps he was afraid of declining and suffering through a lingering, painful death. “ Yes, that is exactly my thought and what I was trying to spell out. He didn’t fear dying if only because that option negated the other concern. I’ve seen people express that fear often enough that I can’t imagine that he would have escaped its quiet tentacles, and as you say too, for his society to be humbled, it is possible that he glimpsed the true arc of decline and fall from a personal perspective. It is not all that bad, but I avoid status.



  32. Hi Damo,

    Well, other than storing the clean and dry pumpkins and squashes in a dark room which has a fairly even temperature that’s about it. They are very thick skinned varieties though, but from past experience they’ll last until Spring at least.

    Yum! Shepherd’s pie is really really tasty. Did you make the mash for the top of the pie and then bake it so that it has the slightest of crusts? Like the secret ingredient. And such places always smell fascinating.

    Potato meals always benefit from a dash of curry powder. 🙂

    Thanks for the feedback on the book as the characters are a bit of a mystery. And I’m rather doubtful that canned products would still be OK a quarter century later…



  33. @ DJ – thanks for the info, or should I say lack of info, regarding the question I asked. As a scientist, I know there are two ways to do science: fast or well. The science on COVID-19 is being done fast. ‘Nuff said.


  34. @ Claire – Yup. Very useful pieces of furniture. I’ve seen them made out of just about every wood imaginable. Up here in the Pacific Northwest, I’ve even seen a few, really nice home made jobs, out of fir. And cedar!

    Over the years, I’ve rescued them out of every place. Out in the weather on porches. From barns, covered in chicken poo. Out of old guys shops, used to store nuts and bolts. You never know where one is going to turn up. Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – Stockpiling can be a bright idea, if it’s done right. I think it should be rotated, and used. If for no other reason then to keep it all “fresh” and make sure your family will eat whatever you put on the table from “stores.” Also, using the stuff uncovers any “holes” in the plan. “Prudent reserve”, comes to mind. Of course, one man (or woman’s) “prudent” is someone elses’s bonkers.

    I heard someone say today, that they had a lot of stuff to donate once the op-shops re-open. Oh, the Kondo things is kind of a craze, here, that I think is finally peaking. Although I guess she’s got a new book, coming out. Seems like every once in awhile, some concept comes out of some foreign country, with a catchy name, and it’s all the rage for a hot minute. There’s something out of Holland, and something else out of the Scandinavian countries. Kondo seems to have a bit more staying power, as it addresses something useful. Too much stuff. Need I link to the George Carlin riff on stuff? 🙂 . I’ll stick with the more academic books on hoarding. They don’t sugar coat it.

    I suppose some people don’t take ferns as seriously as you and the nursery owner. Can’t imagine …. 🙂 . You probably know that some are edible, especially when they’re just unfolding.

    Any scraying skills I have probably come from my Finnn / Laplandic blood. If I could only turn it on and off, at will …

    Yup. The Roman’s gave grants of land to veterans. Colona, I think they were called. New cities or expanded older cities. I might be wrong, but I think they could either take land or money. Or, maybe could sell any land they got. But, yes. Settlements of crusty old veterans, scattered all over the Empire.

    Which reminds me. I stumbled across something on Youtube. “Timeline.” Dozens and dozens of BBC documentaries. Enough for this lifetime, and the next. I started watching a three parter called “King Arthur’s Britain.” I’ve watched 2 episodes, so far. The first episode was pretty much about the Romans in Britain. The second was examining how “dark” the Dark Ages, were. I suppose the third episode will really get into Arthur.

    Well, with mask and gloves, I stopped by the new Club, today. It’s not all that far from the old Club. It’s in a complex called “Sunbird’s” (as opposed to the old place, Yardbirds.) It also started out as an army surplus place, after WWII, and had evolved into a kind of department store. There was a restaurant, there, that closed, and it’s the space the Club is moving into.

    Well. Everything is moved, but it’s still pretty chaotic. But, I got a cup of coffee (my first since the lockdown) and ran across a few friends. Julia, was there. It’s got a lot of space, but is still cozier than the old abandoned cheese warehouse. Has been flooded, a few times, over the years. But so was the old place.

    Bananas take about 7 – 8 hours to dry. Even sliced 1/4″ thin. They turn dark, but I could have avoided that by dipping them in lemon juice. Another fiddly step. I can live with the color. Haven’t tasted them, yet. I wonder how much power the dryer uses? With freezing, it’s more of a set cost. It sits there freezing, if I’m doing up bananas, or not. I also have an air dryer that you hang outside, but I haven’t used it yet. Got to wait for hot weather.

    I spent about two hours weeding in the garden, yesterday. Must plant peas and beans before I lose the moon. I noticed the Alaskan peas have set two pods, from the lot I tore down and that started to root. Finally. Well, they’ll provide more seed, if nothing else. Lew

  36. Hi Chris
    The the Editors Red boots : “ a one off fashion piece “
    No longer available. Every lady seeing them probably looking all over the inter web for a like pair. Happy Editor?

    I like Ferns as do other folks here. The fern nursery and the owner are a great local asset. Once when traveling in Washington Gifford Pinchot nat forest. I took a rest stop in a small day picnic area that had a large fern forest that surrounded the path to the rest rooms. The area was heavily shaded by full canopy trees. The air was moist and cool and scented with the forest. Latter I looked on the map and for a name of the park. Couldn’t really find it. those Huge Ferns were the best I’ve ever seen!
    Stopped a lot of places that trip. it was about five years after the Mt St Helen eruption. We just took off in our 77 Ford Van with two full tanks, and drinking water and Cash and headed down the Columbia Gorge then cut north on some road that led through the eruption region on miles of improved gravel road. Stopped at a then new visitor center.
    We then continued on and headed east on the White Pass high way. Took a lunch stop and a few scenery stops then on home. Good trip ?

    I looked up your Grillo model 713 on An Au site. Looks like it’s well powered and the hydrostatic drive and awd are good features. If it cuts the paddock grasses and does your light hauling that’s what you need. The next steps up might be nice but lots more money and in bad times.
    I’ve seen quite a few people buy riding mowers way bigger than their needs. Not maneuverable for the application. And of course much more expensive. I think it’s an extension of the ole “ envy Thing”?

    Cheers Al

  37. @ Pam,

    That’s funny. A stupid Socrates. 🙂

    Thanks for the celery experiment feedback. I’ll definitely not let the expectations get too high.


  38. Chris,

    Comets are really cool. I remember when Halley’s was visible in 1986. Well, barely in North America. I was on spring break from grad school, so was with a grad school friend visiting his brother in Tucson, Arizona. Brother had a small telescope which worked well. Halley’s was underwhelming though.

    Of course, I was spoiled by the 1976 Comet West. THAT was very bright and very spectacular for several months. What was it that Miyagi said? Oh, yeah, “Look up, always look up.” Or something like that.

    Oh, I was VERY happy about that particular flat tire, believe me. It was an unforgettable and spectacular night.

    Coca leaves are a big no-no here, too. Seeing condors is so cool, though! I’d like to see condors someday. Of course, this song quickly comes to mind. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QqJvqMeaDtU
    Or try a more traditional version https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-rZxLQg3Io
    Or for something really different… https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qs2ZNj-5fDc

    Oh, I enjoy these conversations too. And I learn a lot. You’re making me think, too, which is always a good thing, as is the learning.

    But Socrates? I’ve known 2 people who were always poking, always asking hard, serious questions. They couldn’t turn it off. Perhaps Socrates was like that. Maybe the Socratic Method was simply his offbeat personality that inappropriately asked difficult questions? Dunno.

    It’s good to avoid status. Humility allows one to learn and to improve oneself. Status can lead to pride and arrogance and entitlement mentality and other problems. Perhaps the arrogance Socrates had, with its inherent lack of humility, kept him from even knowing that he was an irritant to people. And that would mean that as brilliant as he was, he couldn’t improve himself. The old pointing at a gnat in someone else’s eye whilst ignoring the log in his own eye type of thing.

    President of the carving club is more than enough status for me. And that group is irreverent and constantly reminds me that status doesn’t mean wombat poo.

    Rain, beautiful rain. Started at about 8:30 a.m. and rained off and on for 8 hours. Probably about 8mm here. Very refreshing and welcome.


  39. Hi Chris,

    Slightly crusty shepherds pie crust? Of course, what sort of uncivilised heathen do you take me for? Possibly there was a smattering of grated cheese as well, I won’t hear of any disparaging remarks towards cheese and shepherds pie!

    Now that you mention it, our squashes and pumpkins (which were picked two months ago) are still fine, indeed a couple are not yet completely ripened. You and the editor are doing well to eat a wheelbarrow load by spring, will any of them take the form of pumpkin scones? Mrs Damo doesn’t let me make pumpkin scones – apparently it is a waste of good vege :-/

    Here in NZ, everyone is excited about restrictions getting lifted. “Level 2” is the watchword, we find out the good (or bad) news next week. Regional travel will be allowed, all businesses can open with some restrictions, although work from home is still expected for those that can. International borders remain closed for the time being, but word on the street is a Trans-Tasman bubble will be announced in the next few weeks, with Pacific Islands not long after that. Tourism dollars, the ski season in Queenstown starts soon, and cheap labour from the Pacific for fruit picking etc, are no doubt big political drivers of that decision. There was also talk of restarting direct flights from NZ to Tasmania, these were discontinued years ago – I am sure there are plenty of surplus aircraft right now to give it a go again.

    Not a moment too soon for me, in all probability, Mrs Damo and I will be coming back to Australia early July – and if we can avoid a mandatory 14 day hotel quarantine – all the better 🙂

    I note a general feeling of covid-19 burnout now – I don’t listen to the news very often, but the difference in headlines today compared to even a week ago is pronounced. Frightening Covid-19 headlines are presumably not getting the clicks they used to anymore. Perhaps this is a precursor to a more measured/rational response going forward? Just think, in 6 months, like a recovery Sunday after a big night, Covid-19 might be nothing more than an indistinct, hazy blur with a big hangover tax bill! I am sure the Covid-19 tracing app will stay though 🙁


  40. @ Claire:

    “there are two ways to do science: fast or well” – that’s a very good point.


  41. Hi Lewis,

    Apologies the Green Wizards meeting was held tonight and it went for about 4 hours. Any chance of replying was disappeared. Promise to speak tomorrow. Until then, I leave you with a fascinating graphic of an actual Island down here in the middle of Bass Strait that has a hybrid electricity system which is monitored in real time. It is quite amazing:

    King Island hybrid electricity system



  42. Yo, Chris – Well, first the real important stuff. 🙂 . They’re re-making Stephen King’s “The Stand!!!” Will be out as a tv miniseries, sometime this year.

    My, the Green Wizards are a chatty bunch! I’m glad your mob has figured out a way to keep connected. Anything raised of “great social and political import?” Just to quote Ms. Joplin.

    I tried a little Green Magic in my garden, yesterday. Got my peas and green beans planted. Did some weeding. This morning I harvested some camomile, as it’s getting a bit out of hand and I need to cut some of it back. I noticed it’s a good year for lady bugs, and I saw a few juvenile dragon flies. No murder wasps.

    Planting the peas and beans was interesting. I got some inoculant (supposed to help germination and crop size). So, I stirred up the soil a bit (lots of worms!) and dug a furrow. Sprayed the bottom down with water. Our water is clorinated, so I had to boil it for 20 minutes. Sprinkled the inoculant in the furrow. Next, seeds. More water spray and more inoculant. Covered and tamped down. I was doing that in three places in the garden. One for peas, one for beans, and one half and half. So I’ve got about 9 running feet of each. The half and half is down by a garlic patch. According to companion planting, garlic does well with everything … except peas and beans. I’m testing that theory.

    I stopped by the new Club, yesterday. Talked to Julia, for awhile, and a lot of other people. Had a cup of very raunchy coffee. But, as it was my first cup since lockdown, it was wonderful! Was that an earthquake? Naaaw. Just Chris shuddering in Australia. 🙂 . Everything has been moved, but things are pretty chaotic. Not what I’d call a turn key operation. They were replumbing a sink and hooking up the coffee maker. Painting walls. Putting up partitions for meeting rooms. It’s got a lot of square footage, but feels cozier. And, at least it has heat and working bathrooms.

    Re: King Island. Well, what ever floats your boat. 🙂 .

    Read a few more chapters of the book on Australia. Trouble in paradise. Commander Phillip has had to hang a few people. Just to underline the point the the laws of England, apply in Australia. Mostly for theft of provisions. The author interjects the invasion from the aboriginal (a term coined by Philips) point of view. As near as we can tell. Trouble is also brewing as Phillips can grant land to the soldiers, but not to the officers. I’m unclear why this is so. There are comments on how the land is “park like” or “estate like.”

    Another case of the virus in our county. 30 and counting … Lew

  43. @ Claire,

    “As a scientist, I know there are two ways to do science: fast or well.” Well put. That matches my experience also.


  44. @ Pam,

    Thanks for the link. That is one spectacular setting, isn’t it?

    In the saga that bears his name, an aging Egil Skallagrimson wanted to go to the Thing and take his chest of coins atop Law Rock, then dump the coins into the crowd so he could “watch all the small fry fight over pennies”. His family wouldn’t let him attend, and, being rather feeble, he was unable to travel on his own. I’ve always been rather amused by the idea, though.


  45. Hi Kris
    King Island looks comprehensive. A one or two year graph of wind ,solar , battery and diesel and total power produced. Also the kWh end user rates before renewables and present improved system would be interesting to see.

    There is a proposed 600 plus megawatt wind only 218 unit project being proposed in our area right now. Doesn’t add much to the present hydroelectric and installed renewables. The the wind towers proposed are over 500 feet tall. Similar towers interfered with long range federal weather radar, producing periodic fake tornado reflections which were countered by electronic means that blanked out some coverage. There has been public opposition to approval so far.


  46. @ Claire,

    Not wishing to hijack this venue into a discussion of the topic that shall not be named, but apparently the Abbott ID Now machine has about a 15% “false negative rate”. I’d read elsewhere from a questionable source earlier that the rate of false negatives overall is between 3% and 15%. The article I just saw quotes the National Institute of Health director Francis Collins.

    We can do science well or fast. Not both.


  47. Hi Pam,

    You would have loved the fern nursery, it really is a beautiful place and survived the crazy 2009 Black Saturday fires. This talk of deer is all rather uncomfortable because when I was out in the orchard this evening with the chickens, I noticed a pile of deer poo – imagine temerity of the cheeky scamps marking out the orchard as part of their territory. Hey, something eats the fern fronds here with newly planted ferns. I was talking to the nursery bloke about it and it may be bush rats eating the fern fronds, but I don’t really know. A mystery! I could give you some bush rats and wallabies and the theory could be tested? No, you don’t seem too keen on the idea!!! 🙂 Hehe! It might be the wallabies, they eat everything.

    What a great idea using the yoghurt containers for raising seedlings. I see that Lewis has also prodded me hard about using take-away coffee cups as well.

    Tractors can be made safe for use on slopes. The old timers used to lower the air pressure in the tyres whilst filling them partially with water. And they also used to modify the axles (double wheels on either side) so that the tractor wheels were physically further apart thus making it less likely to tip over. Plus roll over protection is very cheap insurance. I believe the Italians may also have produced low centre of gravity tractors and I saw one in use once, but for the life of me I can’t recall where. Oh! There are quite a few different ones (out of my price range) and some of them use the track set up that your son wants to use. Talk about go-anywhere machines…

    Haha! Good luck with both of those two experiments (tree stumps and storing the drums when not in use). A few years back I tried burning an old tree stump and the extraordinary amount of firewood fuel required to burn a single stump dissuaded me from ever attempting that again. Still the experiment was worth it because now I know. I have seen someone do that locally, but they used all of the firewood fuel from the entire tree just to burn the tree stump – and it took several days. That’s a story that works, but the cost is too high for my tastes. Stump grinders are wonderful machines and can be hired. The trick with them is to remove rocks around the tree. The carbon steel teeth do slowly wear on a tree stump, but rocks will blunt the cutting teeth very quickly. I usually dig a ring around the tree stump searching for and removing rocks. It is quicker and cheaper to do that than replace the expensive cutting teeth. I would not loan out such a machine, but most rural equipment hire places will have one and they’ll do the job.

    The drums may end up as round raised garden beds? 🙂

    Thanks for the comparison, and I hear you about melons – a fickle plant. Yummo about your spinach. You’re at such an exciting time of year in the garden. Fingers crossed so that you avoid late frosts.

    Agapanthus are super hardy – and if the summer turns hot and dry, they’ll still produce nice flowers which the insects will enjoy. Although they might not flower in their first year – and they form really solid clumps which can be broken up and replanted. Such plants make us all look like we know what we are doing.

    Worked on the edge of the forest today just cleaning up. The way the economy is going I should have plenty of time for that task this year.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    Stockpiling is a fine idea and the old timers did it as a matter of course, and it was just part of the normal everyday life. It is interesting to me that in these times people are waking up to purchasing basic commodities in bulk but therein lies part of my recent sourcing problems. The shops that used to supply to people such as myself are now finding that they are having to supply a huge number of people and their supply lines are being stretched. And like the article you linked to a few weeks ago, the farmers who were used to supplying in bulk to large commercial enterprises, well they haven’t quite adapted to supplying bulk to retail. It is a bit odd, and also one of the reasons I got motivated to begin growing bread wheat this season. They’ll adapt in time, I just enjoy my daily bread…

    Oh, and as you would expect, I have simple systems to ensure that stockpiled items get used and rotated. Basic grains are one of the few plants that we are wholly reliant on larger farms. It is not lost on me that in order to feed the chickens, I’d have to plant out over half an acre of grains. Oh yeah, the arithmetic of that story is not lost on me. What do you do, I can only adapt as time permits, and sometimes the risks are a bit of a crap-shoot.

    Prudent is a lovely word, and unfortunately most folks these days don’t consider what it means. My oldest sister had the female version of that name and I always imagined that my mother who was very young at the time of naming, was making some sort of in-joke, but as a child, adults rarely spoke the truth and the stories sounded hollow and empty to my ears.

    Yeah, most op-shops are not taking goods. Make of that what you will. Well, you’ve already linked to George Carlin and his riff on stuff. He’s good. Which reminds me that I’m beginning to consider cultivating the personality of the astute peasant as a way of bring down to earth people who should be brought down to earth, but at the same time as avoiding the inevitable argument if you just call BS on people. Plus the mode of thinking would amuse me greatly, but that might be just me. Dunno. I really am considering how to address folks who are a bit off in their expectations as they seem rather out of sorts these days. Do you have any advice in regards to this matter?

    Ah! I had known that some ferns are edible, but which are edible is a story that is unknown to me. Now our New Zealand friends were at one stage rather unwise in their history and the indigenous folks favoured the fern fronds (which is an icon from their country and I can see that icon even over here) but then there was also the other option of long pig. The English arrived in those islands at a strange time in their ecological history.

    Pah! Such insights come unbidden out of the murk – and I note that you have not engaged with the gnomes in your garden. Therein lies your challenge. Good luck, they’re tricksey folks.

    Actually it is really wise of the Roman’s to settle their veterans all about the Empire. People being people will interact with the locals over a long period of time and then the Roman’s culture would infiltrate the local culture. But then there is blow back from that and the local culture would infiltrate the Roman’s culture, and I dunno maybe it all evened out somewhere or other. But the centre cannot hold against such a melting pot. Is that such a bad thing though?

    Thanks for the BBC documentaries. 🙂

    What? The word ‘bird’ has an English old school meaning, but was there some sort of meaning to that word which originated in WWII? It seems unlikely that two premises would have used such diction?

    Inquiring minds want to know: Was the coffee any good? It is an important question to me. And was the flooding from a nearby river or a faulty roof?

    Interesting, we do that lemon trick with apples as the citric acid stops the cut fruit from browning. The dehydrators use very little power as they only heat to about 150’F max so I wouldn’t worry too much about it. As the heat increases the energy required to do that rises exponentially, but higher temperatures cook the fruit rather than dehydrating it. The old timers used to chuck fish and meat products into masonry chimneys in order to achieve the constant heat. Over high summer I use the sun to dry produce, but there really is only about two months a year that you can do that – even here. I once had a cake baked by solar power (the suns rays) and frankly it wasn’t good.

    I hear you about that, and peas have been something of a mystery plant for me as it never seems to be the right season to get them started and growing. Interestingly I noticed that as the weather has turned colder here, more bread wheat seeds have germinated. How does that even work?

    Good stuff! And the editor has just enjoyed a recent series based on a Stephen King story. I rely on you for such updates and then pass them on. Brownie points are thus earned, although I always credit the source 🙂 The editor has read much of Stephen King’s body of work.

    Hehe! Yup, lot’s of chat indeed occurred last evening. Ms Joplin was onto something with that, and one issue of note struck us all as odd. There are no dissenting voices in the media which is a very odd thing. Those that do dissent are brutally smacked down. It is not a good look. I did mention that with the print media in decline (and the visual media subject to budgetary pressures) that journalists are probably toeing the line. As to the subject that dare not be named here, the group has the full gamut of views and everyone is cool with that. We can disagree on such matters. The discussion travelled far and wide.

    Nice work in the garden. And your lady bugs might be enjoying a respite from sprays from other ladies in your area? Lady bugs are some of the hardest working predators in your garden. May you never see a murder wasp. Oh my!

    Hehe! Glad that the coffee was good. Hmm, good coffee is like music for the soul and a thing to be celebrated. At the cafe in Melbourne a barista who had worked there for many years, but left a while back, has since returned. We had a bit of a laugh and knowing nods and all that stuff, and he makes an amazing coffee, but working with the public was what turned him off that job previously. There is a school of thought that suggests that the general public is now at arms length and he may do OK this time around.

    Working bathrooms answers the awful question: What if there is no toilet? You’d be amazed at the shut down of public toilets in Melbourne and it makes heading in there to be a rather fraught and challenging journey for those who live in rural areas and have to travel in from afar.

    Mate, even I’d be bored on King Island after a while… Decent rainfall and good soils, but so far from anywhere…

    Hmm, yes I have read about the historical troubles between the settlers and the locals and it is hardly surprising that it occurred. Stop teasing me!!! I have long since known how ‘park like’ and/or ‘estate like’ the land was back then. 🙂 It ain’t me you have to convince, and people just want what they want – even if it doesn’t work.

    Speaking of which, worked on the edge of the forest today just cleaning up as the indigenous folks say. To put it bluntly, I have concerns about the insurance industry, and who really knows how things will turn out. But it seems prudent to prepare for the worst.



  49. Hi Al,

    The editor is pretty chuffed with the feedback on her boots – and they’re toasty warm which is just the thing for this cool mountain climate!

    Hey, dunno whether you’ve seen the tree ferns from down this way? Along the creek beds where the really tall trees grow, it is exactly like how you described your fern forest. I love such places. The huge tree ferns are: Dicksonia antarctica. They’re fairly common, but they really need a well established tree canopy.

    It is funny that you mention Mount St Helen eruption, but one thing that I’ve noticed about the local ferns is that they are one of the first plants to resprout green shoots after a major bushfire. Quite amazing plants really and they can live for a very long time.

    Bad times are indeed upon us all, and that is how life goes sometimes. But the Grillo is a little ripper of a machine. There are plenty of utube clips of them in action too, although I probably wouldn’t attempt to cut really long wet grass with the machine – better to get the cut done earlier before the grass gets too long (lack of traction despite the diff lock – ooo, diff locks are good).

    Exactly, the cost story with bigger mowers is a tough story.



  50. Hi DJ,

    Was Haley’s comet visible in 1986? Oh no! Well there you go… Go that one completely wrong. I was scratching my head and wondering how I could have watched Haley’s comet with the editor. Didn’t happen. Oops. My gaffe!

    Actually it was probably Comet McNaught which I did watch with the editor, and that would make a whole lot more sense time wise. Memory, not good these days… And we had the property here in 2007 and the night skies here are very dark and good for star gazing. You can see the milky way on clear nights as well as the lesser Andromeda galaxy cluster. All with the naked eye.

    Mr Miyagi might have said something like watch your opponents movements carefully grasshopper (or did I just mix up a Kung Fu reference into that?). How cool was Kung Fu?

    The Condors were amazing to see and what interested me about their flight was that they followed the cliff line in a group. Really quite spectacular, but I’m not sure I’d normally recommend climbing such altitudes in such a short period of time.

    Hehe! Well, you make me think too, and this might be a good thing. 🙂 Well, maybe…

    To be honest, I’ve never met anyone who really asks searching and hard questions as a lifestyle choice. Such a thing would be hard on the people around them when so much dissembling goes on. The current times with the subject that dare not be mentioned in polite company (and you may rest assured that you are in polite company) are quite complicated and a lot of people are in a high state of emotion. Asking searching questions is a tool, but should not be over used (as you clearly pointed out), in these times hard questions should be asked, but then if that is not appropriate then compassion and assistance are probably better tools to apply. People who rely on anger as a first response when distressed are rather wearisome folks. Interesting times, that’s for sure.

    Thanks for the links too! 🙂

    Exactly! Lewis and I were discussing Gore Vidal the other week and that very point was dissected. I don’t have any answers on that front, but kind of try and pitch a response that will be received (and that is in the world outside this blog). A bloke long ago took me to task and told me in a very firm manner that communication was about communicating something, not talking at someone. And it was an eye-opener because I’d sort of annoyed him quite a lot. Oh well. He was my boss at the time, but mate I was still a teenager, but all the same it was a good lesson to learn.

    Wombat poo is a precious commodity if you were of the fluffy canine collective. 😉 It can be consumed, or used as a fragrance, or perhaps both. Between you and I, I’m happier if they consume the stuff, because there are unpleasant consequences for adorning themselves with such muck. I can’t say that I’ve encountered a canine that enjoys being hosed off with cold water in the depths of winter.

    Yay for your rain! I’ll be the dust has settled and the garden smells nice?



  51. Hello again
    All well here, sun shining, food growing. Son has just had 9 chicks hatch out. He has a turkey sitting on turkey eggs but that can be dicey as the turkey often suffocates them when they hatch out.
    Apart from this I suffer from permanent irritation with everything going on elsewhere. Everything that I hear on the ground contradicts what I hear from the media. The Island is being used to trial a contact app of some sort. Thank goodness neither Son nor I have a smart phone.


  52. Hi Damo,

    Of course, your shepherd’s pie is not to be disparaged and I’d be certain that it was fit for royalty. However, Lewis has so named his dog HRH, so yeah, it’s complicated… On a serious note shepherd’s pie is a personal fave.

    Hehe! Never tried pumpkin scones. Those little bomb shaped squashes are really sweet and taste a bit like sweet potato, but slightly sweeter. I’ll tell ya a funny story about those squashes: The first one the editor roasted (blame in the right corner for this one) last year exploded in the oven! There was pumpkin everywhere. The insides of the pumpkin turned into a boiler. The editor cleaned up the mess and now drills vent holes in the skin. They’re really good and tasty squashes.

    All sorts of interesting announcements were made today on that front over here too. A similar set of outcomes really. The Federal Gubament is not so keen on the Aus-NZ thing though and there was some vague comment about opening the internals of the country up first. But then ideas nowadays get mooted in the media before becoming reality so who knows. I just want my coffee in porcelain again – is this so much to ask for? Well a good craft beer would be welcome too. If I can’t have either of those, they can’t have church. Nuff said, and I’m patient.

    As to the quarantine there is some weird talk about getting tested for antibodies. Strange days given the antibodies won’t protect anyone from future bouts, although they might assist. Anyway, the whole thing is bonkers. There, now I’ve said it I feel much better.

    Aus would welcome you and Mrs Damo back to the fold. 🙂

    Mate, it has been more than a few weeks since I read the news. I scan the headlines and look for articles that may interest me – and there ain’t too many of those these days. The media seems intent on producing a lack of certainty, as a lifestyle choice. It’s an option, I guess.



  53. Hi Al (again),

    Thought that the King Island monitoring would be like music to your ears. 🙂 Glad you enjoyed it.

    I had a discussion last night about the resistor and why it had to be there – otherwise pop goes the system! It’s a big resistor that’s for sure.

    500ft tall. Mate, I dunno it seems a bit over the top to me. I tend to think that such things will be attempted until they can no longer afford to be attempted. What do you do?



  54. Yo, Chris – Hmmm. How to appear to be an astute peasant? First rule, be taciturn. 🙂 . Take a lesson from the New Englanders (one of my favorite American dialects.) They’ll say “Ayuh” (pronounced something like “Ii-ah”) to indicate “yes.” There’s also a “Nyhu” (pronounced something like “Nii-ah”) to indicated no. And that’s about all you can get out of them. I’d say a lot of the roots of their speech is in Old English. You hear it a lot in Stephen King movies, set in Maine.

    Speaking of King, he’s got a new book coming out (or, out?). Can’t remember the name. Has a black cat on the cover. Four long stories, bringing back some of his characters.

    One of our whack-o media commentators (when he isn’t running about and organizing anti-lockdown rallies) says he doesn’t bother to stock pile. He’ll just shot his neighbors, and take whatever they have. Meat shortage? He’ll just eat them. Pleasant fellow.

    Here’s a bit on Roman colona.


    I think in the beginning, it was a case of “follow me and you’ll get loot and land!” Romanization. One of those things they fell into and then made policy. I’ll be interested to hear what you think of the Timeline Arthur series. If you find the time to get around to watching it.

    I’d say in the last 20 years, that section of town has been flooded two or three times. To the tune of 8-10 feet of water. From the river. Anytime I go to a board meeting, I always say, “Do we have a flood plan?” We do … kinda.

    Yardbirds is a military term that means a green or new recruit, usually given menial jobs.

    Phase 1-A of the banana test has been done. Put my bananas on top my oatmeal and nuked it for 2 minutes. It was ok. The bananas were from the first batch, I froze, which were very soft. So, they were a bit mushy. But tasty. Sweeter, than usual. Phase 1-B will be the bananas that were much firmer, when frozen.

    I see over 70 cell towers have been damaged, in the UK. And, some of the technicians and engineers, attacked. Interesting times. Lew

  55. @ DJ: my head is in my hands and I’m moaning. They want to make decisions on who to quarantine (after lifting the stay-at-home orders) based on a test with a 15% false negative rate? Do they really have any idea who has/has had the disease? Do they really know anything about it? Thanks for the link; it answers my question, unfortunately the answer is as I feared it would be.


  56. @Lew
    Thanks for the info on the Timeline videos. I have bookmarked it.

    I, too, will look forward to the remake of “The Stand” . Leave it to you to be in the know.


  57. Hi Chris,

    Well it’s only going to be in the 20’s for a few hours overnight so all should be fine. It’s been a fairly chilly spring so we haven’t had the blossoms on the apples yet.
    It’s also been rather dry. We had one significant rain almost two weeks ago and other than that just a little now and then. Yesterday I was trying to dig out sod to increase my herb garden and it was very difficult due to the dryness.

    Just about all the migrant and summer birds have been through here so the bird watching has been great though they are eating me out of house and home. I’ve had to limit how much I put out each day tempting as it is to give them all they want.


  58. Chris,

    Ah yes, the Comet McNaught, so called because the visibility in the Northern Hemisphere was “naught”. Or else it was named after its discoverer. It was a spectacularly bright event, so I heard.

    So you just melded 2 forms of martial arts into your own style: Miyagi Fu. Kung Fu was cool. Miyagi was cool. I can’t wait to hear the wise words of Miyagi Fu.

    And say, we should trademark MF as being the abbreviation of Miyagi Fu. Then, whenever said mother$#^@^@ we could make loads of money due to trademark infringement.

    That is a LARGE elevation change in just one day. The day we hit that high pass in Colorado, the climb wasn’t as large. Also, we had ben at 1,200 meters or higher elevation for several days, which certainly helped.

    True that about thinking. What was it Descartes said? Was it “I think, therefore my head aches”?

    These times are interesting. As you hinted at in a prior reply, we’re seeing a lot of what people TRULY believe and think come out where all people can see it. Asking hard questions of strangers (and maybe even close friends) isn’t necessarily a good path to take right now, but may be needed on occasion. The sheer amount of anger is, um, interesting.

    Learning that communication lesson early was a good thing for you. Some of us started to figure it out in our 40s. Better late than never, I guess, or it’s never too late to teach an old DJ new tricks.

    I bet your fluffies hope there’s never Peak Wombat Poo to accompany the Peak Rocks. That would be a bad thing! Without the fragrance of wombat poo, there would be no way to get the bracing cold shower in the winter, give Papa Chris a woebegone, pitiful look after the hosing down, and hopefully get extra time next to the nice warm fire.

    Yes, the dust settled. The pollen settled. The garden smells good, the compost pile actually smells good. But now the wind is up, and the pollen is back in the air. But the garden still smells good and the birds sing. 🙂


  59. Hi Inge,

    The rain is bucketing down here, so it is nice to read that the sun shines elsewhere. Good stuff with your son raising a decent clutch of chicks. I have no experience with turkey and as a meat bird it is rarely seen down here – but very tasty. The bird does not have a good reputation when it comes to intelligence, but that may be the varieties being raised on farms.

    I’m scratching my head about the bread wheat as a huge number of seeds germinated over the past few days. It is possible that I planted the seeds out too early and the soil was too warm. Not really sure what is going on there.

    Hey, if I were a journalist I’d certainly be fearing for my job right now. I’m genuinely surprised at the strong reactions heaped upon dissenting opinions. That is not a good sign and in itself is rather telling. Best not join in such a vocally disliked chorus – it doesn’t seem worth the hassle to me.

    Lucky you, and stay strong. I was forced onto a smart phone around the turn of the year – or face the demise of my business. Such actions do not win friends, but then friends would not make such ultimatums.



  60. Hi Margaret,

    Oh! That is quite late really for the blossoms. You made me wonder about that, and by the 25th November (your 25th May) last year the apple trees here had tiny fruits (and it was a very long winter last year). Still, blossoms and pollination can occur pretty rapidly, so the trees will do what they will.

    I’m beginning to think that your rainy season last year is now making a special guest appearance down here. It is probably not likely, but we do seem to have swapped seasons on that front. On a more positive note, dry years can be quite productive as there are less insects and overall less plant diseases, so you never know. Dunno about you, but I worry about the summer storms that deliver huge volumes of rain in a short period of time – they do a lot of damage. Do hurricanes work their way in land to your part of the world?

    Hundreds of bread wheat seedlings have germinated over the past few days. I was a bit worried about that crop, but then I never really know what to expect with new crops and it always takes a few years of experience to wrap my head around the individual story for the plant. And even then they still teach me hard lessons.

    Lovely, and also very thoughtful. It’s a tough balance isn’t it? I hear you about that. Discovered a small mound of deer poop in the orchard. Not happy about that, but the deer are wild in the surrounding forest and I doubt they could be eliminated now.



  61. Hi DJ,

    🙂 McNaught was definitely not for naught! Couldn’t help myself with that one. Ah, I hadn’t realised that Comet McNaught was viewed at it’s best in the Southern Hemisphere, so it probably put on a better show for us down here. There has to be some benefits for living on the underside of the planet. 🙂

    Very funny. 🙂 It’s been bucketing down here today and in between rain storms I’ve been getting work done around the place. And then retreating inside out of the rain and replying here. I left the ferns out in the rain to get a good drink. Back to work though as the sun is now shining. And the solar power system produced slightly more than it’s maximum rated output (once the sun showed itself from behind the thick clouds) of 107A (21 paired panels at 5A each). Good stuff – and the air is rather brisk outside. Nice for ferns though.

    Just checked back and I have a photo of McNaughts comet from 7th Jan 07. It’s a bit blurry though.

    Hey, I had no idea that the average elevation above sea level was so high for Colorado and there were so many peaks of very high elevation. Hmm. Cold.

    Well, that’s true about seeing the underlying person and what they think. Also the general level of resilience in the face of a crisis is on display and that isn’t as easily determined beforehand as you’d imagine. Many people have surprised me, but generally I feel that if people have survived and navigated their way through hard times before, and know what they might be in for, then they’re usually OK. It is the people who have not been in such a predicament before are the ones I believe are worrying more than taking action.

    The sun appeared again and so I got a load of Anzac biscuits going. No point wasting all that sunlight energy.

    Ollie looks woebegone at the cold shower, whilst the two pups look ‘put-out’ and affronted that I could question their judgement. 🙂 Interestingly the pups show little interest in the deer poop.

    Yay for nice garden smells and birdsong. What’s growing well now?



  62. Hi Lewis,

    Taciturn may be a tough road for me to travel. I’m a bit chatty – you may have noticed. 🙂 However, old dogs can learn new tricks and over the past few years I’ve been more distant and less welcoming when encountering new people. I tend to feel that a lot of people abuse social niceties because they move around so often and find new unsuspecting victims. If say we’d all been raised in a certain physical area, well you’d sort of know who was a right pain and why. Of course the downside of that story is that the pain person may not be able to graduate past early experiences. Dunno. It reminds me a bit of the Annie Hawes books and one of the characters was called (please correct me if I’m wrong): Frank the Knife. He wasn’t called Frank the nice bloke. Nope.

    Speaking of Stephen King, I believe that a version of ‘Children of the Corn’ is being filmed in Sydney right now. There was an article about how they were actually going about doing that filming in these social-distancing times.

    Many of the politicians in your country are doing their utmost best to make your President look good. It is a true gift in that they could be so inept by way of comparison. 🙂 DJ mentioned the many mistakes of the evil overlord and bragging about killing before the act was done was right up there in that amusing list. Now you know if my neighbour was foolish enough to say such a thing as that, I’d be ready for them, or take a leaf out of the old book written by that long dead military genius – Sun Tzu. Very foolish making enemies of your neighbours, and especially publicly. Interestingly too, if something untoward happened to the neighbours, well you don’t have to travel far to pin the blame upon the foolish politician.

    I was amazed at how widely spread the Roman Colonia were. It interests me that the Colonia in France and the Eastern part of the Empire were more evenly spaced than in other parts of the Empire. It is interesting when you consider how those areas coped better after the fall of Western Rome. There is something in that.

    I’ll try to watch the series. Many people claim busyness. I am actually busy and the past six weeks since businesses down here where shut down by edict, have been among the busiest that I can recall. Interestingly the gubamint is talking up uncertainty by suggesting that benefit programs will be reviewed at the end of June rather than run to the stated finish line of end of September. They might want to consider taking a pay cut themselves. Politicians I guess are a reflection of the population and they can all be equally clueless for no good reason.

    It rained quite a lot here today. Went to the General Store to pick up the newspaper and a coffee and again, whilst the editor and I were politely waiting outside the building in the cold, someone tried to swipe our coffees (also happened last week). At least this time the lady looked rather embarrassed at her gaffe and she tried to make light of it. I gave her nothing as I was practicing taciturn. Such unthinking acts say a whole bunch about a person’s sense of entitlement, and frankly it doesn’t look good. In the long term such behaviour will be disappeared. Disappeared being the: “gentle art of having something taken away involuntarily (just made that definition up)”.

    The sun has been peeking out behind the thick cloud layer at times today and when it rained I did the usual suspect housework and at other times replied to the comments here and also to the many emails that arrive in the in-box. And just then we came back from a brief bush walk to visit one of the largest trees on the mountain range. Took a camera. Big trees are always impressive and this one was talking in the wind gusts. It said: Stay away, and I heeded the trees advice (after taking a photo of course – purely for research purposes for the blog).

    I suspect the busy period may come to an abrupt end at the conclusion of the next working week. My gut feeling tells me that it may be a year or two before things pick up again, but I could well be wrong.

    Can the club even get insurance for flood events? I suppose everyone just pitches in with the repairs, clean-up and rebuilds and you’re only leasing the place anyway. Dunno. I’m kind of preparing for the next big bushfire right now, and will continue to do so. Seems like a prudent thing to do.

    We had some good ideas about a new use for steel rock gabion cages. Peak rocks is real, but that doesn’t mean that new rocks aren’t floating to the surface, it just happens at a slower pace. 🙂

    Thanks for the explanation regarding the Yardbirds term.

    I can see that the unfreezing process might have produced more mushy bananas, but I’m curious as to why they would taste sweeter. The dehydrating process generally concentrates flavours, so it might as a wild guess have something to do with there being less water in the fruit. It will be interesting to hear how Phase 1-B compares to 1-A.

    Ooo! I don’t condone such behaviour, but from a larger perspective the miscreants might have a point about the subject that dare not be named, in that higher interweb speeds and greater bandwidth might mean more active and intrusive social monitoring. Bit like the Luddites. I don’t have a great need or desire for faster interweb than what we have today. It’s good enough.



  63. @ Claire,

    Count me in as part of the holding my head and moaning group.


  64. Chris,

    Living “overside” of the planet has drawbacks, so I’m not surprised life on the underside has benefits.

    Glad to hear the solar panels are working!

    Colorado is high country. So is Wyoming. And New Mexico. Las Cruces, my home for the year of grad school misadventure, is one of the lower areas of New Mexico (and those 3 states) at about 1,200 meters.

    Agreed. Those who have struggled seem to have an advantage. The advantages seem to be in having knowledge about what to do and also how to think and figure out the things they didn’t already know. The resilience attitude seems to be summed up in a quote I’ve probably used before, that of Clint Eastwood’s character in Heartbreak Ridge: “Adapt and improvise”.

    Good on the Anzac biscuits. My mother used to bake something similar which she called oatmeal and coconut cookies. 🙂

    Be afraid, be very afraid. If the pups are already giving you an affronted rather than a woebegone look, hoots mon, ra end risoolt cannae be guid fer ya. Aka “criminy, the end result can’t be good for you.” More precisely, “dude, you’re screwed”. 😉

    Any poetry in the previous paragraph was purely unintentional. Or was it?

    The heather has been in good bloom for 8 weeks! Several groundcover flowers are blooming in shades of purple and pink. Some years the entire flowering crabapple tree blooms. This year it’s only about 20%. The cherry trees quit blooming earlier in the week and the blossoms all blew away in the wind storms. But, Spokane is known as the Lilac City. Both my lilac/purple lilacs and the white lilacs are blooming, as are various wildflowers.

    More garden planting these next few days, all are seeds. Some flowers, green onions, figure out a place for chives, maybe plant some of the pinto bean seeds. As overnight has still been as low as +2C, it is still early for the squashes (you’d call them pumpkins) and tomatoes. I should be able to plant tomato seeds in containers under cover within a week, though.


  65. @ Margaret – Here’s the new cast of the new “Stand.”


    Not a bad line up. Some actors, I don’t know, as they have just done TV stuff, I’m unfamiliar with. The original cast was just so perfect.

    Ohhhh! Whoopie Goldberg as Mother Abigail. I’ve always thought she was a good actress. I could watch her feed goldfish 🙂 . LOL. I wonder if she feels her life is now complete. She’s been on a “Star Trek” series, and, now, in a Stephen King movie. Lew

  66. Yo, Chris – You, chatty? Nooooo! 🙂 . I think I beat you hands down … in print. In real life, I’m rather sphinx like. Someone once approached me at a party and said, “You just observe, and take it all in.” Which I took (and, I think it was intended as) a compliment.

    Oh, gosh. Not another “Children of the Corn.” The original was pretty awful. And then there were the spin offs. Turns out King’s “rights” man, at that time, had not nailed down the “concept” rights. So, there was movie after movie, using the same premiss, each one worse than the last. “Children of the Corn IV.”

    If we were in a survival situation, and I saw that commentator coming down the garden path, I wouldn’t hesitate to blow him away. Or, do it quietly. Shoot, shovel, shut up. Country wisdom.

    Well, my stimulus check, showed up yesterday. So, HRH and I took a spin to the credit union. Half an hour waiting in line, but, it’s done. Here it came, there it went. Then we stopped by the Club. No one, really, around, but then JoAnn pulled in, and we chatted for awhile in the parking lot. She lives at the Centralia counterpart of The Institution. We trade intel 🙂 .

    Our politicians in the Senate and House get free healthcare, for them and their families. For life. Almost makes the idea of running for office, tempting.

    Ah, the lady who almost nicked your coffee must have been a Karen. 🙂 .


    “Chad” is kinda, sorta, the male counterpart.

    I’m looking forward to seeing the picture of the large tree. Does it have a name? They name some of our redwoods. The General Sherman, etc..

    I went out and got gas, and ran into Capt. Ron. He has a boat, down on the harbor, and runs sports fishing tours. He’s doing, ok. Said he got some government money, yesterday. Not sure if it was for his business, or, just the regular stimulus check. He said he can start taking parties out, again, but has few bookings. Most people say they’ll “wait til later.”

    So, then HRH and I stopped by the Club. Bill the manager, was there, so we had a pretty good chat. I also got my 31 year coin. Bill said that the reno has cost about $4,000, so far. Actually, we’re probably getting off, pretty light, as a lot of labor and materials are donated. We’re still doing, ok, money wise. Had to dip a bit into the building fund. Also, by paying a years rent, they got a 10% discount. I doubt we can get flood insurance, government flood insurance, as, they’re most decidedly in the flood zone.

    Every time I go, it looks better and better. Unless something untoward happens, they’re going to reopen to Club members, but not have meetings, so far. Now that I’ve made an appearance, I feel that I should reign in my visits, to about once a week. Until we stop having new cases, in the county. I glove up.

    Banana Phase 1-B. A bit more “dente”, but still pretty soft. I may try freezing REALLY green banana. But, it’s banana, and I’ll be happy with whatever I can come up with. Better than no banana at all!

    It was 82F (27.77C) yesterday. Today is supposed to be 87F (30.55C). Better than what’s happening in the midwest and New England. Snow and blizzards in May? Sounds like “The Year Without A Summer.” Although that was caused by huge volcanic activity, and there has been some, but not enough (I would think) to so badly effect the weather.

    Don’t feel too bad, about your wheat. Capt. Phillips first wheat crop was a wash out. Just enough to save seed for the next year. He figured they planted it, too early, when it was too warm. Starvation stares the colony in the face. He’s just sent a boat out, to Cape Town, for more supplies. Hard to believe with all the fish and game available. And, by now, you’d think they’d be onto native plants. But, getting the convicts motivated (even to feed themselves) was a hard task. And, of course, the sailors, soldiers and officers expected to be feed by the Crown. A lot of the manpower seems to be channeled into building, rather than hunting and growing. Making bricks for a government house, etc.. Lew

  67. Hi DJ,

    The new solar array is smashing my expectations. And I’m very grateful that I doubled the voltage in the system and thus halved the current. It was getting a bit feral dealing with the high currents. Everything is more relaxed nowadays with the system, unfortunately the remote monitor unit died today and I’ll have to see whether the unit is dead (which can be locally repaired as they make them in Melbourne) or rats have chewed through the wires. An intriguing set of possibilities. 🙂 I really do hope that it wasn’t the rats…

    Ah, Wyoming recalls Close Encounters of the Third Kind! Worn down old volcanic vents are just the sort of place that aliens would choose to land their mothership and play their Moog synthesizers. I’ll bet the aliens were thinking to themselves: This’ll confuse the locals! I looked at many images from around that state, and the remoteness, mountains and vastness sings to my soul. It would probably be very hard to get a job in such a state though. Minor details…

    Well yeah, couldn’t have put it better. I’m fond of saying: ‘They know’, but kinda, it’s true because they know. I’ve been nothing but surprised by all the different roads that people I know are taking in response to the current events. It just goes to show how different we all are. Plus, I really enjoyed the film Heartbreak Ridge, and only watched the film way back in the day by the sheerest of accidents. Things are slowly winding down for me, so hopefully one day in the near future I may get to watch Kelly’s Heroes. I’ll let you know when it happens. Mate, I have been so busy of late that it’s a bit wrong, but soon it may be quiet.

    As they say in Asia: Yes, same, same, but different! 🙂 Anzac biscuits with a different name and a few different ingredients.

    Hehe! Liked your poetry, but standards must be maintained otherwise we’d all be swearing left, right and centre. But standards can be relaxed for poetry and old rhyme and quotes. A song from my youth comes to mind which was sung as a drinking song: I’m not a pheasant plucker… (a very bawdy song recalled from my youth).

    What? No way. So your lilac trees are part of the Olive family of trees. Do they grow Olives in your part of the world? I’m not sure that they’d cope with your occasional winter extreme.

    Chives are good and they are a winter plant down here. Oh shoot! 2’C is light frost territory. Good luck! It was 3’C overnight last evening here, and today barely scraped past 8’C, but working outside planting out the ferns I ended up feeling very warm.



  68. Hi Lewis,

    A very old mate of mine is like that too – Sphinx like. He was one of two folks who taught me how to be entertaining in social settings. And they knew a thing or two as they had a very dodgy background and were up to some mischief a very long time ago. All the same, they knew when to quit the mischief – if only because they were told to do so. Mind you, they may have been making all of it up for all I know, and they were just really good at telling a good story. Whatever the case, for many years they were good mates and I learned a lot from them. And yeah it probably is a compliment. Someone has to do the observation otherwise how would we know when things had run off the rails? Seems like an important point to me.

    Ouch. Mr King probably learned a harsh lesson from that debacle. On the other hand, it might have been a cheap lesson depending on the amount of intellectual theftyness that may otherwise have gone on later in his career. Dunno about you, but such lessons are best learned early when the losses are smaller than later when the losses could be much greater. I’m curious as to how such productions could use the title (which is not possible to copyright) but using the authors name seems like pushing the friendship a bit too far…

    Country wisdom is indeed correct in that instance, and a crim turned famous author once quipped: Australia is a big place and shovels are cheap. The author used to have a post office box at the same post office when I lived in the big smoke. One of my regrets is that I was at a seaside town many years ago when he and a couple of his mates (also amusing and eloquent boon companions) were holding a talk at a pub. The editor and I could have attended, we just didn’t for some reason and so life goes.

    Congrats on the bonus check for being a nice bloke. You know it is just long term recognition for your good service. But yeah, like you I’d race down to the bank and cash it whilst it still has value. I worked at a business during the recession in the 90’s that was like that and I knew enough to be worried – not that anyone else working in the business seemed even remotely worried. It was very instructional to see that in practice. In the middle of that day, I’d walk out of work and rush down to the bank to deposit the cheque so as to be one of the first claimants on the businesses funds. Common sense must prevail when the prevailing winds are pushing the economy towards the edge of the world…

    Wow. I have a vague understanding that the gubament workers are paid a percentage of their salary upon retirement down here until they are no longer in the land of the living. It’s a good deal if you can get it. I still have a couple of decades to go before I can claim any pension, and I doubt such a thing will be in place when I get to such a revered age. And I also doubt that any reverence will be accorded to me at such a time… Still, expect the worst, but be pleased if it gets even marginally better than that. 🙂

    Hmm. When such strong memes get trotted out like Karen and/or Chad, there is probably a push for social change. Yes, can I speak to your manager? I have heard that replied to by: A polite refusal may offend! And I am happy to say ‘no’ to such requests. It is a very difficult word to use that one and takes practice.

    No. When you see the photo – and the tree is probably several hundred years old – I’d be curious to hear your naming suggestion. In search of Australia’s biggest tree: How you can help identify giant plants. Anyway when you see the photo tomorrow, I’ll point out some interesting things about it.

    Well, yeah, Capt Ron. has the same problem as every small business: they need customers. The talk down here is of restricting the number of customers for cafes and restaurants and um, well, if the number of covers are reduced then they won’t cover their kitchen costs let alone produce costs, and they won’t reopen. It just doesn’t make financial sense.

    That’s pretty cheap for a fitout. Some of the flood insurance policies down here were something crazy like $34k per annum, and who can afford that?

    Fair enough too, you’ve made your presence known and if you’re uncomfortable then that’s cool. I really am seeing a vast number of reactions and we all have to run our own race and risk in that regard.

    🙂 Thanks for the update on the banana experiment.

    I was thinking something along those lines too. You know my last summer was the shortest (but very intensely hot) growing season that I can recall, and yet other parts of the continent were in the grip of a serious drought. Hardly encouraging growing conditions, but we managed.

    Thanks. I’m scratching my head about the wheat seedlings, but now that the vast majority of the seeds have germinated, it is now over-sowed and I’ll have to thin. My mates of the big shed fame are intending to grow grain crops, so I may donate much of this year’s harvest for them to replant, and then replant the remainder here, but we’ll see. I spoke to them today and they seem to be doing OK, although they are in lock down and I haven’t seen them for ages.

    Better get writing!



  69. Yo, Chris – I ran across the most fascinating vid on YouTube, last night. “Pompeii: Disaster Street.” It’s in Italian, but with an English voice over. About an hour and a half. In 2018, because of land slippage and water problems, it was decided to excavate a section of street, small public square and two houses. I’d heard of the things found, in bits and pieces, but it was nice to see it all pulled together in one place. Unfortunately, the houses had been tunneled through, probably in the 1800s. So, removable valuables were gone. But there was still a lot left. On the corner of the square, was a small tavern. They found one skeleton, in the street, and figure it was the tavern keeper who had waited, too long. The pumice was so deep, he stepped off his balcony and tried to flee over the pumice. When he was caught by the pyroclastic flow. In the upper room of one of the houses, they found the skeletons of almost twenty women and children. Huddled in a room on the second floor. Unusual mosaics and frescoes. A complete kitchen. They also found a bit of grafitii that finally proves that the eruption wasn’t in August, but in October. Fascinating stuff, at least to me 🙂 .

    Maybe name the tree Capt. Phillip? 🙂 . There was an interesting point made. The English slapped names on everything, and a lot of times, things were named after benefactors, or, potential benefactors. Do you want to impress Lord Sydney? Slap his name on every bay, hill and river you run across. PR?

    There was an article in the Atlantic, something along the lines of “Restaurants are Going to Have to Change.” One of the points it made was that restaurants need a full house to show a profit. And, a lot of profit is in drinks and deserts. Which don’t “to go”, well.

    it was 86F (30C) yesterday. Going to be about the same, today. I turned the A/C on for the first time. Didn’t help much, and I’m starting it earlier, today. But, starting tomorrow, it’s cooler temperatures, and rain. For at least a week. Daytime highs in the 60s and overnight lows in the 40s.

    My beets and parsley from last year have a large number of flower buds. For over a week. I keep waiting for them to flower, so the pollinators can do their thing, and then I can collect the seed. A watched seed pod never flowers? 🙂 .

    I finished watching the last part of “King Arthur and Britain.” Actually, not much info on Arthur, but the archaeology was interesting, anyway. The presenter (a very affable archaeologist) floated some theories, which are being thrashed out. a.) that the Celts had an ongoing culture before, during and after the Romans. b.) that the Dark Ages, weren’t so dark and c.) that the Anglo-Saxon “invasion” wasn’t much of an invasion. More a Celtic copying of European customs, language and kit. No argument that the Vikings didn’t invade. But that was later, and pretty clear. Lew

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