Hunger and stories

Growing up in a household with a single mother, I guess that must have meant that we were relatively poor. I can’t really say that as a kid I took any notice of that lowly status. Things were just as they were, and none of my friends seemed to live more opulently than we were living.

Food was always on the table and there was a roof over my head. I’ve never known what it is like to be truly hungry and starving. My mum worked full time and studied part time to ensure that we all never suffered on those fronts. And as a kid I earned my own money, but also pitched in with work around the house. Work has been a consistent theme in my life and I’ve learned that it is best not to avoid work where it is necessary.

So it was a bit of a shock for me to encounter kids with different economic circumstances at the more English than the English, Grammar School. The education took up the final four years of my High School. My wealthy grandfather clearly stumped the mad cash for the experience. He had what I would describe as a self-motivated personality, and he either did, or could get things done.

He had grown up on a farm during the Great Depression and was apparently raised there by his grandmother whom he never really spoke about. And despite his wealth he always maintained an extensive vegetable garden. His backyard originally had a tennis court which was later converted into neat rows of raised garden beds. In between the raised garden beds you could still see the asphalt that was once the tennis court surface. Sunday mornings saw me working in his extensive vegetable garden. He would direct me to work and I followed his instructions.

And as I worked, he’d tell me stories. I was pretty young at the time so I don’t really recall most of the stories, but I’m sure they made an impression on me. Once he remarked to me that: Those that can look ahead, get ahead. To be honest at the time I was wondering what he was looking at, but I think I understand him better nowadays.

It was good listening to him telling me his stories, and I’ve sometimes felt that it is appropriate that the older folks in society undertake that task of guiding the young and sharing wisdom. That doesn’t happen much nowadays as some of those folks appear to be chasing tax breaks and cruise holidays. And neither of those options look very wise to me right now.

Anyway, as well as telling me stories and sharing insights into the world, my grandfather also generously stumped the mad cash for my last four years of High School education.

The kids at the school were hardly from an homogeneous economic background. They came from families who had vastly differing circumstances. There were kids with very wealthy families. One mates family did something in the construction industry with asbestos, and they had more money than I could even begin to get my head around. But strangely my mate just didn’t seem self motivated. The family did however have a big house, fast cars, epic holidays, but underneath it all they weren’t living that much differently than what my family were doing. And I’d lost contact with him by the time he went to University, and later heard that he committed suicide in his early 20’s.

I was a bit of a dork and so hung with the dorks. In the strange world of High School sometimes having a family of means, meant that your social status was elevated beyond that of dork! But not always, as dork runs deep in some people.

When you are young, you sometimes imagine that if a school gives you the opportunity to learn and prove your mettle against the academic standards of the day, you’ll rise to the challenge. But I’m not so sure about that now. In High School there were kids with vastly differing capabilities. And I really can’t say for sure where self motivation comes into the story.

I was always a motivated student, but the two years earlier in a hippy-dippy High School meant that I found myself at the very bottom rung of the academic ladder in my first year at Grammar School. The comparison was very stark and unflattering. It was also hard to ignore. But then I slowly clawed my way up the rung. My mother was largely uninterested in my education, and possibly this was a good thing if only because the option of failure was my responsibility alone to bear. My grandfather never spoke to me about the education and at the time I had no idea that he was my benefactor.

So I really had no idea where self motivation came into the story, but to me it appears that some kids had it in spades. Others I could see, were pushed in certain directions by their parents and they went along with that. And yet others just seemed oblivious and disinterested.

It is a subject that has always interested me. And often I have noted that the trait of self-motivation (and thus willingness to action) trumps intelligence and status.

Years ago I read an excellent account of the factors leading up to the economic disaster that was The Great Depression which my grandfather lived through. It was written by the economist and historian John Kenneth Galbraith and was titled: The Great Crash 1929. For a book on economic history, the author tells a ripping yarn.

At one point in the book, the author notes that towards the end of the Great Depression, about a million previously urban families in the US had moved back to rural areas and began taking up the activity of running small family farms. And the author added a general note that he believed that this was the case: “because at least farming families could feed themselves”. Real hunger was not unknown in the Great Depression years. Yes, and I believe hunger and fear of it, could be a path to self-motivation.

It was quite a startling observation for me in these days of relative comfort to realise just how dire things had been. And I often wonder whether that first hand experience of the times was what prompted my wealthy grandfather to maintain an extensive vegetable garden? I guess I’ll never know, but to this day I can still hear him telling me that those who look ahead, get ahead.

The Fluffy Collective assist with cleaning up the fallen forest litter

Regular readers will recall that last week we collected a huge pile of fallen forest materials. This week the pile was slowly burned off, and it always surprises me how small the ash pile is after such an epic exercise. The ash pile is very good fertiliser and once it has cooled down we spread the ash thinly over the surrounding area. With the winter rains, in a few months rich grass will grow and the wildlife that shares the farm will have a great feast. But before that occurs the ground rarely looks good.

The extraordinary bushfires that burned a huge swath of this state only a few months ago are a reminder to the editor and I to seriously clean up the forest surrounding the farm. It is actually the huge quantities of smaller and finer forest materials on the ground that fuel the really epic wildfires.

As part of the clean up process we discovered many large rocks which we are collecting for various projects around the farm.

The author is pleased at the collection of useful rocks found during the cleanup

One of the two steel rock gabion cages currently accepting deposits of rocks is nearing completion.

This steel rock gabion cage is now waiting to be sewn up. Scritchy is unsure

The aim of forest work is to protect the really huge and old trees. The farm has plenty of those old trees which can take hundreds of years to grow, but they can be killed in really hot wildfires.

This big old Eucalyptus Obliqua is about 50m or 165ft, and can double in height again

Bizarrely enough, the local council once told me that I could fell a large tree which had died. The thing is though, I didn’t follow through as like the large living trees, the large dead trees are also home to many of the birds, bats and insects that live on the farm.

A Sulphur Crested Cockatoo enlarges this tree hollow for a sheltered nesting site in a large dead tree

The old timer timber harvesters must have felled some pretty big trees back in the day. They left some of the butts on the ground and some of them are huge – and burned.

Decades ago the timber harvesters left plenty of tree butts like this one. Subsequent bushfires burned the remains but to no great extent

Just below the huge butt in the above photo, I can see that the timber harvesters broke their steel cables on this particular butt, because they left everything in place.

You never know when you’ll encounter a relic from the timber harvesting days

All day as I work about the farm, the Fluffy Collective A.K.A. the four dogs, run around the farm keeping a watch on anything and everything. And at night they are exhausted:

Exhausted Fluffies

Since I upgraded the solar power system from 24V to 48V I have been without a backup battery charger. This type of device can connect a petrol (gas) fuelled generator to the solar system and produce the correct voltage so that the batteries can get some charge (if they need it). Given that things sometimes go horribly wrong with the solar power system, a battery charger is a very useful device. This week, I wired a battery charger into the system and then tested the device.

A fossil fuel powered battery charger was added into the system – just in case…

I do not aim to use the petrol (gas) generator, and ordinarily I shouldn’t need it, but it is impossible to predict when things will go wrong with this solar power system or the weather.

About the farm this week:

Leaf change is here and most exotic trees are almost fully deciduous now
The change in soil temperature plus additional moisture means that it’s fungi time
The bread wheat seedlings grew really strongly this week
Broad beans are in flower

Onto the flowers:

The garden beds are loving the current weather conditions
Daisies grow among useful herbs
Californian Poppies have naturalised here. They may be used as a gentle soporific
Gazania’s are real show offs
This native Orchid is lovely
A patch of Alpine Heath enjoying the mid Autumn sunshine
The last rose this season
Leucodendron produce delightful leaves

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 8’C (46’F). So far this year there has been 497.0mm (19.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 487.6mm (19.2 inches).

86 thoughts on “Hunger and stories”


    The website is now on a new server, and you should find that the page actually does load faster now. Plus there is enough space for another seven or eight years of photos.

    If you have any troubles with the new website, please let me know.

    Of course if the troubles are of your own making – or of a personal nature – please don’t trouble me with them! 🙂



  2. Hi Claire,

    It never stops does it, but the seasonal nature of the work in the garden is a lovely way to measure the passing of time. Some months are like that, and other months there is little to do other than water and observe. Hey, I still haven’t finished all of the garden beds here for the winter, and I’m not looking forward to cleaning up the strawberry enclosure. Oh well, as Tolkien once quipped: Tis the job not started as takes the longest to finish.

    Thanks for taking the time to drop by and say hello. 🙂

    People have been practicing moon planting for quite a while, so there must be something in it. For your interest, I’m using the observations gained from the surrounding gardens and forest to let me know what needs doing. The climate down here is highly variable from one year to the next and so timing can be critical to success and there is little certainty. I’m genuinely amazed that people can do this on a commercial scale. This current wet year couldn’t be more different from last year, which was very dry. Any advantage like moon planting shouldn’t be overlooked.

    Your restrictions are almost word for word what is going on here, except I believe that funerals can have 20 people. Unfortunately I have a bad feeling about restaurants as their business model does not support limited service. And interestingly the pubs have been singled out and are still not allowed to open. I’m patient.

    Of course, makes sense about Whole Paycheck and it is not a chain that we have down here so it was not on my radar.



  3. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks! Your words are music to my ears. 🙂

    We sure do have fun here, and it is a pleasure for me to see the comments and find out what we’ll all be discussing today.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    The shadow of St George is certainly long. His death was particularly brutal, and had the opposite effect than what the Romans were after. Fancy that, I’d imagine the person who gave that particular execution order would not have guessed the outcome. I see that the hagiographers had a (please excuse the pun for a warrior saint) field day with him. Do you have any idea as to why the dragon story was associated with him? It seems like an extraordinary claim for the guy.

    Hehe! Yes, you are no doubt correct. And good old English Reserve and taciturn behaviour is possibly a functional approach to living in certain epochs. It was only recently that social media was turned on people, and I recall that a lady was allegedly fined for a misunderstanding about a holiday photo taken from a year previously, but the thought was that it was taken during the restrictions. I think the question there might be expressed as such: Who did she annoy? And there are a lot of cameras in the population now just looking for cannon fodder: Warrnambool mayor fined after being photographed drinking beer in public, in breach of coronavirus restrictions (that was from a month ago). Again, one must be careful to maintain a good social reputation.

    Fair enough. I now dub you Sir Teflon for dodging the Earth Abides conversation. I’m impressed and nothing sticks to you! 🙂 It is a good book. Hey, how is your library system going? Are there rumours of it re-opening?

    Wisdom is a tough one. Some people are born with bucket loads of the stuff, us mere mortals just have to make heaps of mistakes and then try and learn and derive meaning from those mistakes. There must be an easier way, but I know not what it is. Still, the journey is fun and the alternative is well, kinda quiet.

    I’m learning quite a lot from the book on Indigenous fire practices. And I’m beginning to learn just how much knowledge there is to learn on that subject. Still, it is a beginning and the knowledge and practice of the knowledge is important.

    Went on a massive sourcing day today. It was such a nice day too as the weather was stunning. The weather has other plans for the future and the Antarctic winds will return tomorrow evening, still it is nice to be able to enjoy the contrast before that storm hits. An inch or two of rain is forecast.

    Good stuff, and better facilities and a cheaper lease is something to celebrate for the Club. No point dipping into the kitty if it is not necessary. Who knows what might happen in the future with the property market, and if it declines enough the Club might be able to purchase a property. Tell ya what, there are some upsides to economic crises. Have you had any thoughts of Idaho lately?

    Hehe! Vale, big slug. But let’s face it, big slug was always a problem. 😉 And slugs can decimate peas. The wind storm two weeks back knocked a few of my peas over and now they have rotted at the break in the stem. Meh! Not all of the peas blew over though.

    Ah! Down here they are doing consultations and prescriptions over the interweb. Who’d have thunk that would happen? And interestingly I believe some restrictions for pharmacists were lifted. Mate, I’ve been to some countries where if you need antibiotics you just go down to the chemist and purchase them over the counter. No doubts there are abuses of that system, but I can’t recall anyone telling me about what they might have been.

    Best wishes for a speedy recovery from your tooth pain.

    Hehe! I look forward to reading this intriguing book recommendation. If Damo misses your comment, I’ll send him an email.

    The transfer over to the new interweb server worked a treat (or at least it looks as though it did from my end of things). Mind you, the servers are local to me with a local company so it may work better for me anyway? Dunno.



  5. Hello Chris
    I went into town today for the first time in 8 weeks. Lovely to walk there when so few people around. Had absolutely got to go to banks which are just about the only places open apart from the supermarkets. One had to queue outside for the banks, well spaced from each other. The first one was fine but the second one not. The queue moved incredibly slowly and finally only myself and a young man in front were left. Then slam, the door was shut and the barricades went up. The young man had just been told that they were closing for 20 mins. It was left to him to tell me. We were both staggered at the rudeness. I gave up as this visit wasn’t absolutely essential unlike the first one, but the poor chap had to wait.

    Intelligence and wisdom: interesting. I think that they have little to do with each other. Intelligence at whatever level is innate and wisdom has to be acquired. Whether or not any wisdom is acquired seems to depend on personality rather than intelligence.

    I absolutely agree that unhappiness is caused by the difference between expectation and the subsequent experience of reality. There can be an horrendous difference between the two as I found out in my 20s.


  6. @ Damo – “Japanese Inn” by Oliver Statler (1961). A good read. A good chunk of the history of Japan, told through the eyes on one family, who run an inn on the Tokaido Road. Lew

  7. Yo, Chris – The question of the ages. What makes up a personality? I think it’s always going to be a mystery. Genes, family, wealth, luck, “blood”, education, opportunities (or, the lack thereof) … the list goes on and on. One of life’s mysteries, I guess.

    And, some of it might be memories. (But are they real memories, or memories embroidered by time?) Just as a small (very small) example, a cartoon I saw, probably when I was 8 or so, has stuck in my head. Probably saw it at the barber shop (remember those?), in some men’s hunting magazine. Two hunters stand on one side of a clump of brush. On the other side of the clump of brush, unseen by the first two hunters is another hunter, squatting down and answering nature’s call. The caption? “Did you hear a buck snort?” Now why should that one cartoon, stick in my head, all of these years? A mystery.

    Wildlife on the farm, eating rich grass and having great feasts. You left out the most important part. The great poop, afterwards, to fertilize the ground. 🙂 . Did you hear a wombat snort?

    The Little People probably left you the rocks. “Ohhh! Nice ferns for these useless old rocks! A good trade!”

    I hope no one was in the way, when that steel cable snapped and recoiled. One of the most dangerous employments: working in the woods. For the thoughtful, observing person, finding mysterious things in the woods is always a joy.

    The leaf change picture with the mist and the dew is truly calendar worthy. Fungi in all their forms, never cease to amaze. The orchid is very pretty. Ever figured out how many different varieties or orchid grow on your place? You mentioned them, before. Like the fungi, they’re other worldly looking.

    Interesting concept. Hope they manage to pull it off. Cont.

  8. Yo, Chris – I see the dragon part of the St. George story didn’t pop up until the 11th century. The golden age of storytelling?

    Yup. Any kind of privacy is a thing of the past. Susan swears that her phone turned on all by itself, the other night, and it was Gargle recording the conversation we were having, outside. Now Susan is the most computer savvy person in the place, so, I tend to pay a bit more attention to her speculations on tech. And I have read articles about these, what do you call them? Entities that talk to you and run your house. That they do record random conversations, and archive them. There is a way to opt out, and (supposedly) trash the files. But it’s a pretty Byzantine process.

    Yup. I took a page from the book of our president, Ronnie Raygun. He was often referred to as the “Teflon President.” All kinds of scandals and nefarious deeds, during his administration, but none of the dirt stuck to him. He’s referred to as “Saint Ronnie,” in some quarters. He was best buds with Ms. Thatcher.

    Oh, Idaho. I don’t know. I’m kind of thinking now, if I manage to scrape together enough money to buy something there, I could probably buy a little something, here. Just a scrap of raw land. But, it would be a plan B of some sort. If things here at the Institution totally unravel. And, if nothing else, just a place to get away for a few days, when things become “too much.”

    Save the seed from the peas that didn’t fall over, and you can flog them as “wind resistant peas.” 🙂 . Make your fortune.

    I’ve got a call into my doctor, to see if I can score a prescription for antibiotics to get a start on this infection. Which is exactly what will happen on Wednesday morning, when I finally see the dentist. He’ll take a look, prescribe, and send me on my way until the infection subsides.

    Here’s a bit of Roman whimsey …

    The video is less than 3 minutes, long.

    Yesterday I toasted up a bag of walnuts. Also froze some bananas and apples. We got apples in our last food box, and, I snatched up a couple more bags of them. I’m going to dry and freeze. About 1/4 to 1/3 are bug ridden. Look fine on the outside, but when you cut into them … Oh, well, gift horses, and all that. The one’s that are ok, are very good.

    Then I made a couple of batches of banana muffins. I fooled around with a new recipe that involved butter milk (or, in my case, almond milk cut with a bit of vinegar). They took forever to bake, and when a toothpick came out clean, I pulled them out of the oven. To discover they were still gummy, inside. So, back they went for another 10 minutes. Still pretty chewy, but tasty. Half the batch was just banana and toasted walnut. The other half was banana, toasted walnut and apple chunks. Lew

  9. Hi there Chris. Tried making charcoal? Check out Kon Tiki kilns. Either custom made of steel or else dug straight into the ground. The charcoal can then be converted into biochar by mixing with dirt or compost, or else just by turning it into the soil.



  10. Hi Chris
    Here is a link to a Midwest farm store I get email from. 110 stores in 13 states. Chicks. Their chick selection 173 varieties with US prices for comparison look like out of stock mostly.
    I probably won’t be getting any chicks I’m already taken
    More later
    Cheers Al

  11. @ Claire,

    That was brilliant about the dragon licenses and game wardens, etc. You are, of course, correct: acceptance of entering the ranks of the aged is the best course of action.


  12. Chris,

    If you hadn’t made the announcements about the upgrades, I wouldn’t have noticed a thing. And this DOES load a bit faster.

    Coincidence? Probably not. YouTube has done to me what it is doing to Damo.

    It is rather amazing how bland commercial wheat flour is, isn’t it? The range of tastes many people like are, to me, relatively narrow in scope and mostly bland. Unless somebody decides that they want to test the Spice Gods and go overboard with the hot sauces and peppers, later ruing their choice.

    Divisive discourse and divisive action are both common hereabouts. The early settlers of the American colonies were religious dissidents, a lot of indentured servants, felons and other undesirables (Georgia was initially a place to send people from England’s overcrowded prisons). Then there were the desperately poor Ulster Scots, the Protestants from the Ulster Plantation. Most of these were descended from the English/Scottish border where they had been the nastiest of the nasty. Nasty sauce was a normal part of the diet of these reivers, marauders, murderers. Add to the colonies a helping of political prisoners from the losing side of the Stewart wars from 1689 through 1746 and the USA was founded by descendants of a lot of misfits, neer-do-wells and a whole bunch of unsavory violent types. An underlying sentiment can be captured by a little saying attributed to one of the worst Scottish border ruffians, Little Jock Elliot: “Who dares meddle with me?”

    The James Gang type of thing, well, Mr. Greer has summed it up in reference to local warlords: come up with a service or product that they need/want and supply it and keep your mouth shut. I might add that it’s also best not to flaunt any bits of wealth you might have – your story about the reporter showed that perfectly.

    Och and I nearly went into full Weegie mode: don’t think of the Skippy theme song indeed! Ya got that thing stuck in my head, dagnabbit! Coo, I had to find Barracuda and Crazy On You from Heart to combat Skippy. 🙂 Then had to move to Deodato. Naturally, while I was playing those on the youtube, I got bombarded with ads for Bob’s Red Mill, whose website I visited several days ago looking for something.

    Claire quite nicely put some sense back into my head re the dragon. But I appreciate your offers of, umm, support? And that you’d return any leftover DJ parts to my home. Quite nice of you.

    The 15mm or more of rain we got Sunday and Monday were brought to us by Thunderbird, Thor and other Thunderous Beings. And everything smells so good! My wife travelled to see her brother today. She and other vehicles had to pull off the highway for 20 minutes due to how hard it was raining. This would’ve been near where Al lives.

    I turned the compost heap Saturday. Ugh, a nest of sugar ants has taken residence therein. I may have to salvage what I can and start over at another location until I can eradicate the ants.

    Your photos reminded me that I’ve found old chains and rusted out tools from old logging operations in the mountains several times. It’s amazing how much stuff just gets forgotten and left behind. Glad to see, in this era of Peak Rocks, that you keep finding more of them.

    Good on you, leaving those old dead trees for the wildlife. I imagine that if you cut down their home, many of those critters and bugs would move into your fruit trees and the chicken coop and turn into total pests. Sometimes leaving things to nature works best.

    Thanks for the story from your past. Having grown up in the Great Depression, my dad ALWAYS had a vegetable garden and fruit tress and several types of berries. So I grow stuff, too, and so does my sister. Every once in awhile, wisdom can come by learning from someone else’s lessons. Sometimes, although it is usually obtained from the University of Hard Knocks.


  13. @ DJ – Check out “borax and ants.” I used it the last place I lived, with great success. Got to keep it away from pets. Lew

  14. Hi Inge,

    Oh my! Your patience is to be commended, although like you, my limits would have been reached at that point too. The bank down here was weird too. Did I mention to you that the other day they only allowed 2 customers in at a time to the branch, but when I visited them there was no customers in the branch and the clearly nervous teller didn’t want to let me in. In fact it was a bit of a challenge as the teller wanted to send me to the automatic banking machine on the wall outside the branch to conduct my business with them, despite them having no customers in the branch. Questions were mooted about why I wanted to go into the bank in the first place. I put my foot down firmly and politely and was brooking no nonsense from them. Crazy days, so your story does not surprise me at all.

    Hmm, my point exactly. I have known very smart people who also lacked common sense. And I’d be curious to learn your thoughts, but common sense may be a subset of wisdom? But yes, intelligence is innate, and I agree with you wholeheartedly. I well understand my limits and have encountered folks who can unravel puzzles of all types far quicker than I, but then there is middle ground in there though. An interesting point about a person’s personality hindering their ability to acquire wisdom. Hmm, I appreciate your perspective and had not considered that aspect of the problem, but then it does speak to the self-motivation matter that I raised in this week’s story. I will have to cogitate upon that aspect, and it is an astute observation.

    Oh, there is a story there for sure! 🙂 When I was younger than that age, often the adults around me lied about potentials and possibilities, and I can’t say that I approve of such a course of action. Was that the case with you? It certainly was with me – and reality kicked that conceit out of my system.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    Some mysteries we just have to carry around with us, I guess. But it is a fascinating mystery all the same. Incidentally I have never been responsible for puppies as young as Plum and Ruby before, but despite being from the same litter, they are as different in their personalities as night and day. I’m left with the suspicion that some aspects of their personalities are hard wired. There can be no other explanation.

    But then the nurture aspect comes into play, and the two pups are learning pretty fast and we’re all teaching them (Ollie included). And they thus moderate the worst aspects of their personalities. That is what the process of socialisation is all about. Another way of putting is: Rounding off the sharper edges. I’ve noticed that taking place too with house mates (way back in the day) where the house mates were freshly out of the family home – they were some of the worst offenders. And they were often surprised that strangers never put up with the same rubbish behaviours that their family did.

    But I’m left wondering just what lessons would be taught if you had parents that were really together and could hand over good skills and life lessons? Dunno. Possibly that skill transfer could never happen in reality and was one reason why the nobility way back in the day used to farm out their kids to work as Paige’s and Maids in waiting.

    The cartoon speaks to the innate concept of: “Expect the Unexpected”. 🙂 But yeah, you never know when you’ll encounter a circumstance that is so vivid and large that it burns itself into your consciousness. And then does that circumstance become part of who you are? I’d be curious as to your thoughts on the matter, but I believe it might.

    So very true about the poop. You’ve earned the today’s dodgy story of the night award for that salient observation. Scritchy was being very bad tempered this afternoon. It was awful as I’d allowed her to sleep inside near to the wood fire, but no doubts the conditions were not quite to her liking. Anyway, I recoiled in horror as the little white terror had taken a wee and then done a plops just to express her unhappiness at the awful circumstances. I chucked her outside, cleaned up the wee and then could not find the plops. Dogs can be filthy creatures sometimes and I know not which one did the awful deed. Yet I know that it happened…

    Drats! The Little People got the best of me, yet again! The tree dudes arrived out of the blue today and I got them to help me with some work around the farm. You once told me that nature provides and I cannot argue with you – it is genuinely uncanny. There are times I feel that something has got my back, but I don’t rely on that and just take the assistance which pushes me in different directions. What do you do? I believe it would not be good to ignore such directions given that they are so blatant. The tree dudes appreciate the work I give them and said as much. Actually the boss then went on to discuss the difference with Islanders and the culture they find themselves in, and said that I was aligned with their culture. A rather strange and unexpected conversation, but I appreciate the thumbs up from the guys.

    Thank you, and that was one of the photos that I took. Most of the photos are taken by the editor, but that morning with the rain drips, the Japanese maple was really showing off and asking to be recorded for posterity.

    I suspect that towards the middle part of the 20th century the timber harvesters used bulldozers and the steel ropes were connected to the bulldozers. The forces in such steel ropes would be phenomenal, but to see them lying there on the ground after perhaps six decades is amazing. You quite correctly point out that it would have been no good place to be way back then.

    I’m pretty sure I said something late last year about an impending trade war with China? Nobody listens to me, and I’m fine with that. But then, here we are today… Oh yeah, it is a way good idea. I witnessed manufacturing heading offshore and there was not once that I considered it to be a good idea. Sure, not every country can be self-sufficient, but to be as like an innocent babe is to ask for trouble.

    Woe is us in these dark times that we can’t seem to pull together a ripping yarn that stands the test of time like old George and his vanquished dragon. The story hardly even stands the merest of intellectual pokes, but you know does that mean that it is not a good story?

    Hehe! Yeah. Honestly how different is the story to the old confessionals? The robots listen in all of the time and even hackers can turn on web cams. So best they are not physically connected in the first place. There was an amusing song by an Australian band which was released last year. It is a genuinely fun song by a band that knows how to tell the sad but also very fun tale of youth: The Chats – Identity Theft.

    Saint Ronnie! Well I never… We had one Prime Minister die on the job, and I mean that in the most literal sense. Oh yeah, it happened. And there was much mirth in the population.

    If I recall correctly, it was the author Annie Hawes who was considered to be a bit eccentric for wanting to go and live on her ‘orto’ patch of land up in the hills. The locals lived in town and farmed their remote patch. Of course competition for land is probably more intense nowadays. But it is not a bad idea at all.

    Thanks for the correction of my pea expectations!

    Did you manage to get the appointment and assistance? Believe it or not I got my hair cut tonight and they have social distancing protocols in place. Crazy but sensible days.

    The Vindolanda leather mouse was amazing in its detail. I’m amazed that the leather tents survived too. Makes you wonder if anybody has copied those patterns and reproduced them today? It is nice to think that the ancient Romans could perform practical jokes upon one another! 🙂

    Hmm, well almond milk and vinegar is not quite the same as buttermilk (which I rarely see but am fond of). So yeah I can well understand how the muffins may have been a bit gluggy in the centre, but tasty. I’ve never tried almond milk, but from all accounts it’s good.



  16. Hi Kezza,

    Welcome to the discussion!

    No, I’ve no need for making charcoal, and the top soil is increasing in depth. There is a local kid and his dad who make charcoal and also are pretty handy at old-school blacksmithing skills. It is amazing what is going on all around us.

    Biochar is pretty good stuff, but the mulches and composts are also working well, and at this stage of the game are easier for me.

    Have you ever made biochar and then applied it to soil?



  17. Hi Al,

    Far out! Who even knew that there were 173 varieties of chicken breeds? I had to deal with a dead chicken this morning (a 6 year old Leg Horn), strangely enough. Between you and I, I’m glad that I stocked up with 6 newbies in the past year. It is a little bit less than a month out from the winter solstice and egg production has picked up to 2 or 3 eggs per day. Good stuff.

    So what sort of chickens do you keep?



  18. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the feedback, and I too thought that the webpage loaded faster, and especially the feeds from other blogs page was very quick. And I was wrong too, the storage has risen from 5Gb to 15Gb which means that we can rest easy for the next 12 to 14 years. Well that is one thing less to worry about. 🙂

    Plum and Ruby are obsessed about eating Bogong moths tonight. I guess it is free protein snacks.

    Oh no! Not a coincidence at all. Oh well, at least you can feel safe that Big Brother is watching you comrade. 😉

    Yeah, what we’ve come to accept as normal for flour maybe convenient and long lasting, but it is not good. Very occasionally a guest will deride the food here for tasting too strongly, but given the plants come out of the garden, well that is what they taste like. Somewherehows expectations got dumped hard, and fell even harder. I’m looking forward to seeing how the bread wheat experiment goes. Some naughty parrot has munched on some of the stems of those plants.

    Little Jock Eliot has a point. Incidentally why did they call him ‘Little’, because the sort of guy who can make such a bold claim is certainly not to be lightly trifled with? Possibly it was some sort of in-joke and the guy was freakin monstrous? Hey, try a culture that was derived from criminals for size! We are strangely a law abiding bunch down here.

    When Mr Greer made that point, the implications were certainly not lost on me. To be candid, most of my contemporaries and peers feel that the life that the editor and I lead is rather unappealing. It is the hard work that gets most people, and I do make a point of banging on about that aspect. It is what might be politely called: A policy choice. I was a bit unnerved when recently preppers (and I do not consider myself in that group) started getting a good rap in the media and positive feedback elsewhere. Imagine my horror at that turn of events! Somewherehaps the monster went from unappealing to appealing. No doubts the fickle tide of public opinion will swing back to the normal state of affairs. Hopefully.

    Returning your dragon fried bones to you kin is the least that I could do in the sad but largely expected circumstances. But don’t expect me to be out front leading the charge against the dragon. Brave Sir Chris ran away (sung to a Monty Python tune about Sir Robin).

    Nice and glad to see that the weather Gods are smiling upon you and yours. I read somewhere recently that lightning charges also fertilise the ground where they strike. Something about nitrogen. Ah yes, not good driving weather and very wise to pull over and let the storm past. Hey, we get such storms too and they can be err, difficult.

    I have an odd feeling that words were spoken about that old rusty broken rusty steel cable way back in the day. The huge tree butt left slightly uphill of the cable is very telling. Like Lewis pointed out, can you imagine the whiplash from such a cable under tension?

    Peak Rocks, like Peak Oil does not infer that there are no rocks or oil. It just means that they are getting harder to extract. 🙂

    Oh! I’d never considered that all the critters on that large old dead tree would come and get me and the garden, but yeah makes total sense. They’d know exactly whom to blame. And the council really did suggest that I could cut it down. It was such a strange thing for them to suggest. I do wonder what their grasp on ecology is like? But then I don’t really want to get to know them either.

    Almost forgot to mention, but the editor and I were stalked by a possum (they’re herbivores down here) last night. A strangely confident and eccentric possum. They’re usually shy creatures.

    It seems a really hard won lesson that one (maintaining an edible garden). I really do wonder how much pain we all have to go through before such gardens become mainstream activities again. Right now I reckon it is way out on the fringe – despite people hoarding seeds and seedlings. I know that it takes more than just those two items before you get something to eat from plants.

    Hmm, an excellent point. I do wonder what it takes for people to be able to learn from others mistakes and/or experience. It is a more important question than it first seems don’t you reckon? And it may point to a fault in our current culture.



  19. Hi Chris
    HEHE The Chickens at our place are frozen or at least refrigerated. ? That treasurer of chickens was for your comparative reference. As they added more and more out of stock notes I wanted to get it to you before they took it down.

    My daughter has talked about an urban flock ,but they live about 300 yards from a river front semi wild area that has raccoons and feral cats which would require the steel siding, concrete footings and heavy woven wire mesh that you use on your farm to protect chickens.


  20. Yo, Chris – Well, that’s what’s wrong with some child rearing, these days. Some kids aren’t subjected to “real life.” And, it’s quit a shock when they get out in the world. A few hard knocks, early in life, tend to give one a more realistic view of the world.

    Do circumstances become part of who you are? Well, if I’m ever in the woods hunting, and hear something, I won’t assume it’s a buck snorting. 🙂 .

    Go Tree Dudes!!! Nature (the Universe) provides. Just read my little meditation, this morning, and it was about the world delivering both good and bad. By chance. That we should notice the good things that come our way (even, very simple things) and be thankful for them.

    LOL. Speaking of the Universe providing, looks like I’ll loose my roommate, before this weekend. I guess Eleanor is coming home. She was fine staying in rehab … until she got a roommate.

    The St. George story has lasted 800 years. I wonder what kind of our stories, will still be around, after that amount of time?

    That was a great little song, by Chats. By chance, I read an article on Atlantic magazine, last night. It had to do with the W-leaks, and how a reporter was hacked (or, attempted to be hacked) by not only our own government, but also governments all over the world. And the lengths he had to go to to try and avoid that. What’s interesting is, I checked this morning, because I was going to cite the name of the article. Well, it’s gone. Not a trace. Obvious searches turn up nothing.

    Well, I’ve got my appointment with the dentist, tomorrow. Didn’t hear from my doctor. I really wonder what’s going on in my mouth. It occurred to me that I don’t have the usual chipmunk look, going. Hmmmm. Anyway, time will tell.

    Prof. Mary Beard wrote a book on Roman humor. Haven’t read it.

    I can’t say I like buttermilk, and, usually when recipes call for it, it’s just a teaspoon or two. Kind of a waste to go out and buy, even a pint. So, I looked into substitutes. Almond milk is all I drink, anymore. And, from what I’ve read, it’s a good one to one swap for any kind of baking. Not good for puddings.

    Well. Yesterday was the 40th anniversary of the Mt. St. Helen’s eruption. Take a walk down memory lane …

    Went slug hunting last night. Got 7. But, also discovered something is ravishing one of my plots of green bean seedlings. I’m pretty sure it’s thrips. Lew

  21. Hello again
    As a female from a past era my experience was the opposite from yours; I was constantly told what I couldn’t do. Am not sure that I paid much attention to this. My problem was that I was brought up to believe in fairy tales so it was the reality of emotional living that threw me.
    Oh goodness common sense/ wisdom. I really don’t know if their is a significant difference or even any difference at all. It becomes just language.
    I reckon that personality is as innate as intelligence. Having produced 3 children, one who somersaulted day and night in utero, another who never appeared to move at all and the third who behaved with moderation. Now that they are in their 50s and 60s they are still the same.
    I think that I still have the same personality that I had when I was seven. One simply learns to present in different ways depending on situation and company. At least I hope that one does i.e. common sense and wisdom.
    So what do you think about all that?


  22. Chris
    Your first photo this week of the smoldering Pile is a near perfect depiction of my Best close up view of post eruption Mt St Helens. On an overflight of the crater at dusk in the first week of Jan. 1981 on my second annual voyage to the winter Consumer Electronics Show inLas Vegas at about 10000 feet the pilot announced that we had a special view coming up of the crater with the glowing lava illuminating the dome growing within. He had permission to fly slowly over for a great view. The flight was lightly loaded so every one could grab a window seat to see out the windows Wow!
    Your picture looks in miniature almost exactly like the the damaged mountain that evening nearly 41 ?years ago today.?how fitting. Thank you!
    The May 1980 eruption gave us only a very light dusting as the ash clouds carried The main load to the north and east of us. We were very very lucky!

    Another topic
    Ok Chris if you perchance still have the coffee damaged computer keyboard on hand I have a procedure that you may try to get it back. Years ago while touring northwest electronics plants ,at a Tektronics O scope plant. In a repair facility I observed them cleaning whole circuit boards and chassis with all components with soapy distilled water and then rinsing (immersing) and flushing with distilled water then air drying with compressed air and fans.
    I believe your rain water supply is likely at least that pure.
    The coffee/ sugar / milk residues may wash right out with your distilled rain water. I’ve done this with small devices with good results. Not tried a whole kb . I have to buy distilled water for this use. You have it available.
    Using WD 40 (Water Displacement) my help if used carefully. You may want to give it a try?probably water only. Soap may take a lot of rinsing
    Commercial window washers have taken to using distilled water and D ionized water to speed up their work.

    Geek Al

  23. @Damo
    Very much enjoyed the video. I’ve never been to Japan or any Asian country for that matter and doubt I ever will.


  24. Hi Chris,
    You’ve mentioned your grandfather before and it’s obvious he had quite an influence on you. I have contemporaries that have little to do with their grandchildren and others who frankly, have too much. My MIL and FIL had a good balance. They weren’t on call to help whenever but often kept the girls and did fun things with them as well as shared their family background. My mother really had a lot on her plate when the grandchildren started arriving being a widow with all my brothers to contend with but the kids all spend a fair amount of time at her house. The fact that she had an in ground pool was an added bonus. I had much more contact with my mom’s family than my dad’s. My great Aunt Mary and Uncle Al’s home was often the gathering place. In fact their home in Chicago was just called “the house”. They owned an auto part distribution company in Chicago and never had children themselves but their home housed my great grandfather when he was very elderly and ill, my aunt’s unmarried brother and another brother who was an alcoholic. My mother worked at their company when my parents were first married so me and Marty stayed at “the house” during the day under the care of my grandmother who was also caring for her father. I think she got the raw end of the deal. Doug and I spent many an evening with them having cocktails and dinner. They had lived through the 1918 pandemic, the Great Depression and WWII which had a great impact on all of them though they didn’t talk too much about it. My great aunt had an inventory of toilet paper and other paper goods in the basement. My uncle (the unmarried brother) used to pour over all the grocery advertisements and go from store to store for the best deals. There was a period of time when smaller grocery stores were closing to be replaced by the larger claims and they had great going out of business bargains and he and I would stock up. This was all after they had been quite successful and money really wasn’t an issue.

    It is good for kids to go to a school with kids from a wide variety of backgrounds. My kids started in an affluent school district and my oldest thought we were poor. When we moved to our place in the country the school district had students from a variety of backgrounds and she said one day with some amazement “We aren’t poor at all.”

    We’ve found quite a few items in our forested area from the two tornadoes. It appears that cattle were once grazed as there’s the remnant of a fence though the middle of the woods.

    Tired sleeping dogs are a good thing.

    The wheat seedlings are looking good.

    We’ve had about 3 inches of rain in two events but actually dodged a bullet as places east and south were hit with up to 7 inches. Areas in downtown Chicago were pretty flooded and they had to change direction of the Chicago River to go back to Lake Michigan. Anyway as we’re pretty high here the soil looks dry enough that I can get to planting in a big way starting tomorrow.

    Here’s a link describing why the river’s flow was reversed:

  25. @Inge

    That trip to the bank sounded pretty awful. Our bank lobby and offices are closed with only walk up and drive up open which is what I’ve been using. If you need anything else you must make an appointment. Things will be opening up here more after May 29th but I’m not sure exactly what will be allowed. I did get an appointment for
    a haircut on June 11th though. Wisconsin whose border is only a few miles north has totally opened to their Supreme Court overturning their governor’s restrictions. From what I’ve heard it’s crazy there now. With all the opening nearby and in other parts of the country I’m just taking a wait and see tact before changing my behavior too much.


  26. Chris,

    Oh cool! 12 – 14 years? Nice upgrade.

    Rakhi the Samoyed was known to chase moths and butterflies. One day she caught one on her tongue and closed her mouth. I thought she’d swallowed it. However, when she opened her mouth and the tongue flopped out, the butterfly flew off her tongue and the chase was resumed. Harmless fun. She also chased bees and we knew by her yelps of pain when she’d caught one, stinger and all. Not so harmless, not so fun.

    Big Brother may be watching me, but I do Not have to say that I love Big Brother!

    Hope the wheat experiment works out. Be interesting to be able to make your own flour that way.

    I understand that there were several Jock Elliots at that time, and more than one from where his home was. It appears that he was Little Jock Elliot because of his rather diminutive size, rather than as an ironic nickname. He apparently made up for his lack of size by being overly aggressive and knowing how to fight and be a general badarse of epic proportions. It worked: he is still remembered whereas we don’t even know the names of most of his family and neighbors. Here’s a link to a song about him…

    Aye, well, the Long Descent takes 3 steps down and 2 back up. Or in this case maybe 5 down and 3 back, so as things get “better”, preppers will fall out of favor again. Until the next steps down. I’m already thinking off and on about what to change before the next one…which will prolly amount more to a few minor tweaks here and there.

    Brave Sir Chris and Brave Sir Robin. Sounds a lot like “He who fights and runs away lives to fight another day.” And the Brave Sir Robin at least DID have someone banging coconut shells together for horse hoof sounds…One of my favorite movies that is. 🙂 And of course, the career of Hero is vastly overrated. The dragon gets Beowulf. Sigurd gets it in his prime, then the Huns get his friends and in-laws when they were young. Or poor Byrthnoth at the Battle of Malden, or Harold and all his Housecarls at Hastings. Brave Sir Robin is onto something!

    More rain expected Tuesday night and Wednesday, maybe up to 25mm of rain! Oi, that’ll cause some streams to rise. By the time Saturday comes, I might need some machinery to cut the hayfields that my yards might turn into! 😉 We took an extended vacation one May. It rained in Spokane the entire time we were gone. The grass was 50cm tall when we got home. Took several hours to get through that with the electric lawn mower.

    My sister’s husband worked as a logger for maybe 2 years before we knew him. He talked about the tension on those cables. The whiplash from those has been known to cut people into halves. He barely escaped that fate himself. He said that the language they used was quite inventive.

    Maybe 12 years ago the environmentalist Spokane mayor started a campaign to reduce water use: “Brown is the new green”. Naturally, brown grass from June through November meant no water on the grass or on the trees (people didn’t water the trees if they weren’t watering the grass) and a whole lot of dead trees the next several years. Less carbon extracted from the air, of course, and…well, I still don’t know what said Mayor was really thinking, but, as the Mayor is a politician, I’m not sure that there WAS any thinking.

    Is the stalking possum related to the rabbit from the Holy Grail movie? There’s a picture of the original killer rabbit from the 14th century near the bottom of this page…

    I was chatting on the phone with a coworker today. He has been gardening for about 5 years now, he said. He understands that he and his wife are still in the learning stages. I assured him that gardening is ALWAYS about learning. But those folks who just scarfed up seeds and seedlings and have bad dirt rather than decent soil? They might be in for some big surprises in the lack of yield and perhaps poor flavor quality.

    Nearly every culture has its “wisdom literature”. There’s some interesting things in the Havamal from the Poetic Edda. This scholar has put together something else:

    “I do wonder what it takes for people to be able to learn from others mistakes and/or experience. It is a more important question than it first seems don’t you reckon? And it may point to a fault in our current culture.” I’ve been contemplating various things recently, such as WHY is relaxation so important. It has been an interesting journey, the recent twisting leading me to the idea that humility is very important. One thought has been that with a good dose of humility, one can learn from anybody, including occasionally from others’ experiences. Humility is something that our culture seems to have discarded, yet it seems to me to be a fundamental asset to avoid a lot of unnecessary discomfiture. Does that point in a direction that you were perhaps intuiting?


  27. @ Chris May 20 5:43 correction
    “That evening 39 years ago.”
    (Missed edit)

  28. Hi Al,

    That makes sense. The last chicken auction I attended (won two Light Sussex point of lay birds at that auction) was packed, so supply issues are as real as chook-flation (the fancy name for the tendency for ever increasing chicken prices). I can’t even say when the next chicken auction will be held, or even how they are going to manage that spectacle.

    Ah you are clearly alert to the possibilities of chook-disappearance. This is the fancy name for any and all other critters killing and consuming a person’s chicken collective. People tend to construct chicken pens on the cheap – and it doesn’t work and inevitably there are always sad tales. Mate, you should have seen the rats in the previous chicken enclosure. Those little rodents were running amok and eating a huge portion of grains. It is worth the experiment, even though the outcome is already known in advance, but the failure itself may even lead to the construction of a proper chicken fortress. Nothing else will do.

    Thanks for sharing the story of Mt St Helens and Lewis has reminded us that it erupted forty years ago in the past few days, and he also provided a link to a really good NPR story. I remember pouring over the photos in the National Geographic magazine as a kid. The destruction was amazing to see, but also really awful, but still amazing.

    Ouch, well I move fast and the keyboard has long since found its way into the e-waste stream at the local tip. I’d attempted the cleaning trick you mentioned and ended up breaking some of the keys. I have this dark suspicion that the device was never intended to be repaired. A lot of things are like that today, and I go out of my way to procure machines and devices that can be repaired, and repaired locally – but sometimes that is not an option. And computer components fall into that category. At least PC’s are modular machines. Not sure whether Mac’s are and one component failure might mean the end of the device itself. I tend to prefer modular design and redundancies for that reason.



  29. Hi Inge,

    Ah, of course, and how sad is that things go from one extreme to another extreme and completely miss the middle ground? If it means anything to you, the editor’s dad told her the same story you heard, whilst her mother told her the story I heard. Like myself (and possibly yourself), the editor studiously ignored them both and got on with her own life. The story told (at either extreme) is clearly dysfunctional, but what do you do when you encounter it?

    I don’t know whether there is a difference between the two concepts either? But I like your observation as to why a similar concept would receive two monikers (language). Possibly this is also sign of some sort of social and/or status game going on in the background. And possibly also a turf war between the educated (wisdom) and uneducated (common-sense)? Dunno, I hadn’t really considered that aspect before. Hmm.

    Thanks for the story, and apologies because I was chuckling about the somersaulting child description. You sure painted a picture of the child, and the adult that the child became. 🙂 But yes, I totally agree with you and those two traits are hard wired in, although other people can seek to modify how those traits are expressed by the individual.

    It is an interesting topic to me because Ollie is of a dog breed that is considered quite scary. His natural inclination is to be very gentle and obsequious and he is excellent with other dogs even when they are hanging off his face by their teeth. But then, some nefarious folks could take that obsequious tendency and warp it to produce an aggressive and dangerous outcome for their own evil intent and purpose.

    I tend to believe that social conditioning plays an important aspect in people’s development. Knowing how to conduct oneself and what might be expected of them is not a bad idea to learn. And I tend to feel that females are more heavily socially conditioned than males, and that is a process which is reinforced by our culture and its expectations – although that is not usually acknowledged. I wouldn’t have considered that before, however I have read a while back that females with high functioning Asperger’s more easily navigate social circumstances and put on a (I don’t quite know what word to use, but) well learned mask over their reactions and that indicates social conditioning that males may not receive. I’ve observed parents treating their male and female children very differently. As someone with no skin the game, it stands out to me. The only times I’ve discussed it with parents I’ve found that the observation elicits a strong emotional response, so clearly it is a subject that is off-limits for them. But you know, the difference happens all the same. What do you reckon about that?

    What fascinating roads we are travelling here! 🙂



  30. Hello again Chris. I do have a 1.5 metre diameter custom-built Kon Tiki kiln; makes great charcoal. I then condition the stuff by mixing it with soil, coffee grounds and compost made largely from leaf litter, and then letting it sit on the ground for a few months. Have used it when growing up native trees in pots, and in my vegetable patch. Plants – and worms – seem to like it. In fact, it’s a veritable worm magnet – its the coffee grounds that attract them 🙂 You can make a kiln with minimal expense by digging a cone-shaped hole in the ground; soil surface diameter of 1-2 metres good for starters. One way of utilising fallen timber and locking away carbon in the ground.

  31. Hi Margaret,

    Yeah, too true. My dad cleared out when I was very young and left me in the care of my mother and older sisters, so for a long while my granddad was, I guess an older male role model. And without me knowing much about anything he guided me along and gave me a bit of his time (not that he had much to give, but then I had my own life too). I’ll tell ya, I bet I let him down a lot, but then when you’re young, well let’s put it this way: we were all young and dumb once! Oh, far out.

    It’s getting heavy here, so I had to take a de-intensity break. Not really have to go out to the shed and get some more firewood!


  32. Hi Margaret (cont),

    I can well understand how your mother would have had a lot on her hands with your brothers. It would not have been easy on her – or you for that matter. But then I’ve long since suspected that all that kids and grandkids want is a bit of attention, which clearly they must have received enough given they were hanging around for a ‘fair amount of time’ (the facts in this case speak for themselves!) But the pool most definitely would have been a summer bonus (not so sure how a pool would go in your winters, but I can’t imagine that they would freeze? Maybe?)

    It is funny isn’t it that like your story suggests, once a person has been through hard times, they tend not to take present circumstances of comfort and ease and then project such a state out into the future. Doesn’t it make you wonder how that story is playing out right now? It is a bit like a massive wake up call, but then society has more or less delivered for a large-ish chunk of the population for a few decades. Such a state of affairs was never sustainable. How could it be? And also your story sort of highlights how families can be far more diverse in their practical arrangements than we tend to consider nowadays. The editor read a book recently on women’s stories from rural Italy following WWII and, wow, family was a very loosely defined term and subject to change at short notice and without warning.

    Your daughter made an astute observation, but it is a relative concept. And incidentally I had to laugh as I did that particular journey too, but in reverse. The problem with hanging out within your (and I use that word in the nebulous sense of the word) small social circles is that the larger picture sometimes gets lost. I tell ya, it was a real eye opener travelling to Third World countries and seeing how the rest of the world does things. The story was not lost on me.

    Forest can regrow fairly quickly and so your cattle story does not surprise me at all. Very near to me is a huge 300 acre property that now contains a young and very sickly looking forest. An old timer from around the area once told me that apparently as recently as the 1980’s that property was paddocks and the owners had allegedly started an out of control fire which caused the reseeding of the forest. And I guess here we are today.

    Thanks about both the tired dogs and the bread wheat seedlings. I tell you that the seedlings have caused me some concern just because I know so little of the story of the plant. Of course I’ve read books on the subject, but until you’ve faced parrots ripping young seedlings out of the ground and you have to ask yourself the hard question: WTF?, well let’s just say that there is theory and then there is experience. 🙂 Hopefully in a few years there is enough seed and area under cultivation that I don’t have to worry about the minor details?

    You dodged a bullet there, and even I would be troubled by 3 inches of rain, let alone 7 inches! I once enjoyed 10 inches of rain in five days and by the end of that experience I just hoped that it didn’t rain again for a while. There was water everywhere. Which reminds me that I saw standing pools of water in the forest today. Not a good sign.

    Thanks for the history lesson and Cholera and Typhoid were also serious problems down here in the late 1800’s, but we processed the sewage via grass filtration in a massive area that is still set aside for that process. It is not surprising that the area has become a major water bird sanctuary of world significance: Lake Borrie Wetlands. And as an amusing side story, a poop used to be known as a Borrie. True story, although few would remember such important details. Anyway, I do hope that Claire was not impacted by your fine city’s sewage because of the canal reversal?



  33. Hello again
    Just to quickly say that you can make your own buttermilk by the simple process of adding vinegar to milk and leaving for 10 mins or more. I use white wine vinegar but imagine that any will do. Haven’t got quantities handy but am sure that the internet will supply the info.


  34. Hi DJ,

    The upgrade was a long time coming and the warning email the other day suggesting that the cup was 85% full could no longer be ignored. But yes, here’s to enjoying another 12 to 14 years of general chit chat and fun times!

    Haha! Well Rakhi learned a valuable lesson. Hey, how did you come up with the name? Does it have any significance? Incidentally Ruby was bitten by a large ant the other day and yelped. But then she was asking for trouble by poking her nose and front paws into an ants nest, and trouble found her. Is this the proper order of things?

    Really, well I thought that the war was going well in Oceania, or was it Eurasia? Honestly who knows these things? 🙂

    Actually, given the bread wheat experiment is in its first year I’m just hoping to build up experience and the seed bank. Even so, that is an ambitious task. Bread and beer might have to wait for future years. I’m going to try and rope in my mates with the big shed into the story, but who knows whether they’ll be up for that activity. But they have spoken of the need to do that task.

    It is a big call to vanquish such a foe and then live to tell the tale. Little Jock Elliot is a person to be feared. It is impressive that his shadow fell upon your fine land only to be renewed with vigour.

    Yeah, that is my thinking too about the preppers. Nobody really wants to be the ‘it’ group of the moment. The fall from public affection is hard, and on that note I do wonder how young Greta is fairing these days. I was genuinely concerned for her fall from the limelight.

    Wise to be reviewing your systems and then making tweaks. It ain’t just you doing that either. But to be honest I can’t say that I’m too keen to be put to the test as the possibility for failure is quite high and you never really know when or where you’ll come unstuck. And it is not lost on me that it takes a village to raise a village.

    Frankly I find it hard to believe that you or I, or anyone else who comments here is competent at dragon slaying. So, perhaps it is best we get to the practice field pretty quick smart. Lest we bring the attentions of a real life dragon down upon us all! Nasty and unpleasant creatures. Thanks for the history lesson too. 😉 Nice references.

    Top stuff, and such a windfall is a blessing for you. 22mm fell here last night and much of that was very heavy with thunder and lightning. You know I woke up and listened to the awesomeness of the storm and wondered whether I should get out of bed to check the water tank filters. Turns out I was right just to stay warm in bed. The wind is howling outside right now.

    Hehe! Did I mention the two days I spent out in the forest with old forestry worker as he taught me how to use a chainsaw properly? Rough as guts that bloke, but far out he knew a thing or two about chainsaws. I should not have been let near such a machine without such a course.

    Brown grass down here is a thing over summer, but we don’t enjoy your river systems and I can recall when dam levels were down to the mid teen percentages and water was scarce. Mind you, I’ve gotten close to running out of water up here.

    I could imagine that Banksy would enjoy a 14th century Killer Rabbit and see something amusing in there. The rabbit probably needs to get off the roids though. 🙂

    Mate, I doubt those folks know even when to water their seeds and seedlings. Of course I know this because a dozen years ago I was there in their shoes. Back then I planted vegetables into heavy mulch and was surprised at how rapidly the seedlings all died. Gardening is a journey!

    Wow, OK I am gobsmacked by the wisdom in those sayings. One of my favourites from the collection is: A man acts what he is when he may do what he will. It interests me that many of the sayings could otherwise be described as: A guide to better living.

    Relaxation also has the side benefit of slowing the escalation of emotions – which is a common feature of our culture, but not necessarily a good idea. Well, humility is scorned in our culture, but it seems unwise to imagine that each person is an island, when we are in fact a collective and have to collectively get our acts together. Interestingly the last chunk of wisdom was: Little boasts the one who travels widely. Some far journeys can be of the emotional plane, I don’t necessarily believe the wisdom was purporting to be purely referring to geographical locations.



  35. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, there is middle ground in the story which often gets overlooked. I sort of feel that the need to overly protect kids comes from a place of good intentions. But then there is that whole path to perdition beginning with good intentions business. The path should probably be more along the lines of preparing kids to face realistic possibilities and know how to respond. Too often people pretend that such risks aren’t realistic possibilities – and I mean what is with that? I tell ya, when I was very young my grandad took me to the remote town of Alice Springs. So there am I walking around the town at night when I was set upon by a gang of young folks. Well they roughed me up a bit, but honestly it wasn’t that bad and I don’t harbour any ill feelings. You see the thing is the kids told me in no uncertain terms that I didn’t know how to fight. They probably felt sorry for me really. Then straight after that I went to the grammar school and those kids liked to fight too. So I took myself off to a dojo and learned how to fight and then kept at the learning. It seemed like the way to go as a response to what I was actually encountering in the wide world. The other kids were little monsters, and there were enough of them around that it was a problem for me and it could not be ignored. But then I called my own shots and can’t remember even asking permission to go to the dojo. I guess I was a little free and independent monster back then!

    But yeah, seriously the people who have known hard times before are coping much better right now than those who are unprepared for the eventuality. I guess it would be a bit like losing your rudder in a storm – that’s not quite a perfect storm if only because despite it all there are safety nets (at least there are down here).

    Hehe! No neither will I either now. Hey, one thing that is of interest to me is that when city folk visit here, I notice that they rarely notice where they are placing their feet. It is a bit weird, but I feel that people who live in rural areas may sometimes be far more attuned to what is going on around them. I’ve noticed that change in myself since moving up the bush (as they say).

    The new black magic induction cooker turned up in the mail today. It is a very swisho unit and I reckon it will reduce the tiny bit of gas that I do use even further. It hard boiled an egg in only a few minutes and I could watch exactly how much power it was using from the solar power system. The gas company gave me a fright a few weeks back when they said that they were closing their stores. But then natural gas in this state is a serious problem anyway. I do wonder about the sanity of people who say no more coal, renewables all the way. It won’t end well you know. Anyway I have no doubts that eventually they’ll get around to approving fracking in this state, although I’m unsure that we have the water supplies for such an activity. Hey Mr Kunstler’s latest podcast was astounding. Far out! Boom – that is the sound of my mind being blown away!

    Yes, I tend to agree with your meditation, although nature sets a cracking pace, although it may not look that way to some. What do you reckon about that? But I like the concept that nature can bring both good and bad – and that makes sense to me. Speaking of which, it rained heavily here last night. 22mm fell and the bedroom lit up with the lightning strikes and the thunder cracked and rolled. It was pretty awesome and I love a good storm. And today there are standing pools of water in odd spots in the forest – that never happens. Hmm. I remember years ago talking to you about a really wet year when little springs began popping up in strange and odd spots around the farm. That might happen again this year. The spring that popped up in the old chicken shed was not good for the chickens, and one of the reasons I relocated and constructed a new shed. Plus the rats, lest we forget them.

    Incidentally, the book I’m reading about Indigenous fire practices in the landscape began talking about how folks these days are disconnected from the land and what a bad and risky idea that was.

    The tree dudes were in good spirits but they said they’d been working too hard of late and with heavy machinery. They like the work here because they call the shots and set their own pace, and everything is super low stress. I’m not a hard boss and don’t micromanage them (or anyone for that matter).

    Hehe! Eleanor sounds like quite the feisty one, and you may lose H, but gain your old chats again? Give and take. Maybe as a suggestion you throw out the seed of an idea that H can be bequeathed to your good self. That way the plans are known in advance and it is not so much of a drama.

    What an uncanny thought. Hopefully 800 years into the future, humans won’t be quite so angry at our foolishness? And a lot of recovery of the environment can take place in 800 years too. I hope they can read, but I doubt much of the paper in our books will still be around. But then there was the Roman’s leather mouse, and if that had a chance of surviving, then books…

    The Chats are pretty cheeky. Their album was called: High Risk Behaviour, and it is a lifestyle for some, I guess! 🙂 Shoot, that does not make for good hearing. I tell you the other day I tried to do a search on the article I mentioned where the couple had been allegedly fined recently for a social media holiday snap from a year ago, and it has evaporated too. Is this a new stage of sensarship (sic)? Possibly, very possibly indeed. That is the main problem of too few channels for news. I take interweb precautions seriously, but no system is really infallible. Honestly the sheer volume of talk here would be daunting for the worst robot.

    Good luck with your mouth, and I do hope that it is only a minor thing.

    Very few if any recipes call for buttermilk that I utilise on a regular basis. My mates of the big shed fame have dairy cows and the milk is really good. They make their own cheese although you’d like it more than I do because I’ve never really been a fan of blue cheeses. A lot of their milk goes to the pigs, and other animals and they all love that stuff.

    Thanks for the Mount St Helen’s article and I really enjoyed reading it. It was a bit like your enjoyment of disaster movies, and I can recall as a kid that I poured over the National Geographic magazine that covered the eruption. It was awesome to see nature in her full and powerful glory, but also awful for the folks who died, but then the eruption was spectacular and highly dangerous. Did you note that the article mentioned Mount Rainier?

    Oh my, Scritchy just looked at me and wagged her tail. She must be ill, this is just not right somehow.

    Beans, mate your knowledge of that plant beats me hands down. The naughty parrots are ripping the bread wheat seedlings out of the soil. Every couple of days I go up there and replant the ones that have been forcibly removed from the ground. Fortunately they seem to be coping OK.

    Today was really weird. This morning the weather was really gloomy and wet, and then by late morning the sun had broken through the clouds and blue skies reigned. Now at night it is raining again.

    I had to go to the local tip today to drop off the metal scraps (which I’m almost certain will actually get recycled) and I had a good chat with the guys there. They were doing alright although everyone is politely keeping their distance. I stirred them up about how nice the weather is, and they began shushing me and amusingly asking me not to tempt the weather. They were probably serious though as a tip is no place to be in really wet weather. Some parts of the place looked a bit slushy and muddy to my eyes, although it would have been unwise to head over and check it out.



  36. Motivation- such a mystery. Some family patterns may account for it, but not all, as there are plenty of examples that counter that. My wife taught high school science, and I heard scores of stories of kids with all the smarts and support at home still not taking hold of life, but the same pattern would happen in all types of families. In all cases though, if there was no motivation, the kids wasted their time in school. So much effort and conniving tricks by teachers to supply some external motivation was in my mind a lost cause.

    And I fully agree that motivation far exceeds raw intelligence in determining one’s fate in life.
    Follow ups to see how these kids eventually turned out would be enlightening.

    photos- this weeks photos seem a bit different than usual. I like the darker tones and lighting in some, and something else I can’t put my finger on.

  37. Yo, Chris – How much fun is a new bit of kitchen kit? Necessary and well considered, of course. Funny you should mention coal. I was reading a few more chapters in the Australia book, last night. There’s an incredible story of 12 people (including a woman and her two children) who escaped Sydney and headed up the NE coast. All the way to Timor. It was almost as long a trip as Capt. Bligh’s. But they stopped frequently, along the way, to rest and take stock. They landed in one place, along a creek and discovered coal, which they said was just as good, if not better, than any found in England.

    Nature, I think, kind of moves slowly, most of the time. At least, to us. But it does so on so many levels, in so many places. So, it seems like something is always coming full circle. Does that make sense? Something like that line from (I think, “The Great Gatsby?”) “I went broke slowly, than all at once.”

    Well, I think it’s pretty much a given that, eventually, H. might come to me. But, if there’s a good, sensitive opening in the conversation, I’ll mention it. I’ll still be walking her three times a day, tossing her in the tub each fortnight, and, perhaps taking her on the occasional outing.

    I did a deep dive, and came up with that article. It was just so odd. The Atlantic magazine’s articles, usually hang around for a few days. Some, weeks. They maybe drop 8-10 a day, and add an equal number. But this article was featured, right at the top, and vanished the next day.

    What was interesting is that, I was listening to the radio, on the way to the dentist, and they were interviewing the author! He’s got a book out. “Dark Mirror.” The article is pretty long, but the bits I found scary and spooky were about computer security and all the problems he had, with that.

    Well, I went to the dentist, this morning. Quit an interesting check in. You call them from the parking lot, they call you back when they’re ready to see you, and someone comes out and trots you through. There’s more to it than that, but, not to belabor the point. The dentist explained that you’ve got these nerves the spread from the ear, shaped like a starfish. To the cheek, gums and tongue. That’s why I’m getting weird pains in multiple places. Of course, like trying to find a squeak in a car, she shot air in multiple places and couldn’t get a rise out of me. So, course of action? She prescribed something new, an antibiotic mouthwash. I’ll do that for a week, and see where we are.

    I’m set up to have a tooth extracted, but, she said if things settle down, maybe I won’t want to do that. My choice. I think I will, as the one has been causing problems, on and off.

    A couple of authors have been drawing some interesting parallels between the present situation, and Mt. St. Helens. The mountain had been rumbling for a couple of months, with a few venting events. So, the governor at that time closed it down. Well, then nothing much happened. She was under tremendous pressure to re-open. Both from people who had cabins up there, and the logging companies. On Saturday, they let 50 vehicles into the red zone, to retrieve stuff from their cabins. On Sunday, they were going to let another 50 in, at 10am. The mountain blew at about 8:30 am. If it had blown a couple of hours later, the death toll would have been horrendous. As it was, most of the people who died were outside the red zone, anyway. If the mountain had blown on Monday, there would have been hundreds of loggers working in the woods. Life’s a crap shot.

    I’m pretty sure it’s thrips, ravishing my green beans. They’ve been a problem, other places. I had thrip traps up, last year, and have some ready to go up, again. After doing a bit of research, I think I’m going to make a trip to the garden store, tomorrow am. I think they carry nematodes, those little land sharks that chow down on thrips, but pretty much leave other things (like my worms) alone. Lew

    PS: They almost didn’t let me out of the clinic. My blood pressure was up. They checked it three times. LOL. Maybe a trip to the dentist, and, the pandemic had something to do with it. But, I know I have to up my garlic, get some more exercise and lose about 10 pounds.

  38. Chris,

    We got Rakhi for my dad when our entire family was really seriously fundamentalist evangelical somethings. Dad wanted a name for the puppy that was Hebrew. I had some background from high school religion classes, and a Hebrew-English dictionary. Dad wanted either “soft” or “white” because her fur was soft and white. “Soft”, aka “rakh” with a slight throaty sound for the “kh”, won out. We added the end “i” because it sounded better.

    And the national lottery is always won by somebody on the east coast when I live near the west coast. It is always won by somebody on the west coast when I live near the east coast.

    I felt bad for Greta from the beginning. It was clear to me that she was being used. Plus, the fall from notoriety promised to be sudden, which would likely harm her. I, too, wonder how she is.

    Yeah, we only get one chance at some things, and if we get them wrong, life becomes very miserable. We’ve all got a breaking point. I do NOT want to know where mine is, although I’m sure that events are totally out of my control.

    I’m much too old to take Advanced Dragon Slaying, Arcane Dragon Methods,, or even Dragons 101! I prefer sitting back with a mug of tea or ale, reading a good book, and taking the occasional nap, waking up when it’s time for the next meal. The hobbit ancestry sometimes wants to take over. 🙂

    We’ve gotten, officially, over 12.5 mm of rain since midnight. 70% of that has been between noon and 5 pm. The forecast is now for an additional amount overnight of at least that much again. I’m enjoying it while it’s here.

    There are some tools I stay away from. Large chainsaws are on the list. A man has got to know his limitations. I enjoy having all of my appendages intact.

    The large amounts of replenished aquifer is what keeps things greenish here. Outside of the north central and northeast mountains, Washington east of the Cascade Range is mostly brown after the rainy season ends. The new neighbors want to put in dryland stuff and take out their lawn. I’m slowly moving parts of the yards that direction. The Princess has agreed that the bordering sections we will change over when the neighbors redo their yard. Watering grass just to mow it and then water it and then mow it seems like a waste to me…

    Banksy would have a field day with the killer rabbit. Maybe a series of roided rabbits and normal rabbits having a killer rabbit contest? Maybe Hollywood could do a series of horror movies featuring killer rabbits? Killer Rabbits vs Chuckie? Aliens vs Predator vs Killer Rabbits, a wild three-for-all?

    Ya mean there’s a time NOT to water seeds? Who woulda known? Ya mean if ya overwater the seeds, they rot and don’t germinate? And there’s better times and proper techniques for watering the sprouted vegetables? Gee, Wally, they don’t put any of that information on the seed packages! 😉

    There’s a LOT of good wisdom in those sayings. You narrowed in on one of my favorites, “A man acts what he is when he may do what he will”. Amazingly enough, my dad taught me something very similar when I was maybe 12 or 13 or something. He learned it from his dad, who learned it from his dad, who…I dunno where our family picked that up, but it is brilliant. A lot of these old sayings are wise by observation and have such practical use. Sort of what you said “a guide to better living”. I’m glad you’re enjoying them.

    I enjoyed your insight into that last one, by the way.


  39. Hello again
    Your educated/wisdom, uneducated/common sense, was a brilliant observation, spot on.
    I agree that parents tend to treat sons and daughters differently though I honestly don’t think that I did this, nor did my husband.

    The turkey eggs that Son had in an incubator have all turned out to be infertile. He has another lot with their mother turkey sitting on them; hopefully these are okay.

    I need some of your rain, my pond has dried out again. This is incredible as we had years and years in which it never did this.


  40. Hi Kezza,

    Nice one. Respect. 🙂 And I like the sound of your soil fertiliser mix. Good stuff.

    Coffee grounds are good – and they disappear here within the week. It is a bit uncanny, and the more I distribute the stuff around the farm, the quicker they disappear. Yay for the worms – the true unsung heroes of the planet.

    Yeah, not keen to dig fires into the ground. The thing is here, if a fire hits old tree roots (or current tree roots) and gets hot enough and ignites, then you can end up with an underground fire which can burn for months. Yeah, not good – and best to keep fires here above ground and cool burning.



  41. Hi Inge,

    Ah! Isn’t this buttermilk process also the first stage in the production of cottage cheeses? Never tried it myself, but have heard that people can replace vinegar with lemon juice and it produces the same effect. But I have not tried this process, so don’t have any experience with it and candidly have only the milk that we purchase. Have you ever attempted cheese making? My mates of the big shed fame make their own cheese, and you’d like it, but I am soft and weak and have this squeamish thing about blue cheeses. We all have our kryptonite. 🙂 The editor enjoys the blue cheese, but I will remain unconvinced until the day I die, and perhaps after that time too – just for good measure. 🙂

    Thanks, and it was the language itself that alerted me to that distinction. The word ‘common’ has been loaded up with negative associations over many long years, and really such subtle attacks on the language are attacks on our culture. Our language reflects our culture and the two are inevitably entwined. At a wild guess it looks to me like another form of an application of the divide and conquer strategy, but it is just a personal hunch.

    You probably didn’t treat your children any differently, a lot of people don’t. I don’t recall being treated differently than my sisters, although one minor point of differentiation was that I was given less over-sight, but my mother had her hands full and I took advantage of the situation. However there is also the minor matter that she could probably relate better to my sisters than I. Other than that I was required to do all of the tasks around the house that they could do. Dunno, but it is a complicated matter, that is for sure.

    Bummer about the turkey eggs. It happens. Try again is an excellent solution. I have not raised birds from eggs, but one day… Down here they sell fertilised eggs delivered through the post, and maybe when I next discover a broody chicken I’ll give the process a go.

    If I could send you some rain, I would. We have had too much rain now (2 inches in the past 2 days), so there is plenty and more to spare. The abrupt change in climate I believe is fuelled by the too awful to consider quantity of particulate matter that was sent into the atmosphere during Januaries crazy bushfire season. I have a hunch that reduced industrial atmospheric pollution may be playing havoc with your northern hemisphere, but I am no expert.



  42. Hi Steve,

    Ah! We have common ground here because the editor has a degree in Biology majoring in Industrial food microbiology. Sometimes just to stir her up I suggest that the various wines, sake, beer and spirits we have in production are the best use of her expensive education to date. 😉 Yeah, the year of living dangerously and all that business… Hehe!

    Between you and I, I cannot fathom why some individuals are motivated, whilst others are not. It is a true mystery and speaks to the convoluted journey that we all must travel. Unfortunately that expressed itself in your wife’s predicament and also difficult dilemma which confronted her role. Just to make the attempt to circumvent the blocks in the first place would deserve a medal or a hug or something like that.

    It is not an easy road to travel. I’ve run a graduate program for a big corporate and it was equally rewarding with a side serving of difficulty. Unfortunately I feel that the Pareto principle comes into play, and sometimes I wonder about the wisdom of that matter.

    Exactly! I could not put it better, for it does not matter how smart you are (or believe that you are) because if you can’t get off the couch, then you are histories road-kill.

    Far out – you are good and alert to the realities. The days are short and the shadows are long. Nuff said. Respect! 🙂



  43. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the story of the dog naming, and you employed an excellent use of language skills to derive the most interesting name. By the sheerest of chance the other morning I was speaking with a bloke who had named his most excellent canine: Delilah. Delilah made an excellent first impression upon the editor and I. Apparently the bloke had also owned a Samson, so yeah inspiration can come from the most unlikely of times and places.

    As a funny side story, years ago I had a new dog wearing an Elizabethan collar so that she didn’t remove stitches from a minor surgical matter. As someone with a hardwired DIY inclination I made up her collar out of a bucket, and so from the industrial receptacle which formed the collar, her name was so derived. The facts spoke very clearly in the matter and the rest became history. Also, when I first encountered Ollie as a young pup, for some reason I already knew that his name was Ollie. The animal shelter gave him the name Charlie, and it did not fit, so Ollie it was and he responded to that, so who knows? There is magic in names.

    Well, you are jinxing the entire west coast, but then you have lived there for a few decades, so perhaps it might be possible that the odds are not in favour of folks living on your side of the continent?

    It is a tough road to travel for one so young. But you know, Greta went courageously down the path all the same, but yeah the come down would be real. And I have always worried for her for that side of the story. Few would travel those dark hallways, and for what outcome?

    Speaking of breaking points, and I may be repeating myself here, but a very old mate of mine once quipped to me that it is only those who have fallen off the cliff that know exactly where the edge really is. It was an extraordinary insight, but then he’d travelled in some dark places in his life (broke his neck and had to get two bones joined). Ouch, but at least the spinal cord was not severed.

    I see Lewis has provided more info on Dragon Slaying. Two words: Good Luck!

    Top stuff with the rain, and here’s hoping that the rain continues on a more or less even path through your summer. Such is a truly enjoyable summer.

    Fair enough. If it means anything to you I treat any of the chainsaws with respect and always with an eye to what might go wrong horribly and at short notice. The thing with machines as compared to hand tools, is that whilst you can do more work, the risk also increases at an exponential rate. We find that with machines in that if you can do twice the work that hand tools (or smaller machines) allow you to do, the risk is magnified and ends up being far greater than double the previous hand tool / smaller tool risk. What do you do?

    A wise response to a drying landscape. We let the paddocks brown over summer and that is just how things are. But then due to the fire risk, we cut the vegetation low and that further dries out the landscape. If I could exclude arson (deliberate or stupid) I’d leave the grass long over the summer whilst it dried and then drop the lot in autumn which would feed the next crop of fresh grass. The longer dried grass retains greater moisture in the soil due to the shade effect than grass which is clipped to within an inch of its life. But it is not possible to exclude such nefarious and foolish deeds, so drop before summer is a good response.

    Killer Rabbits vs Chuckie! I’d like to see that, and my money would be on the Killer Rabbits. Childs Play was a horror film that found its true comedy side – much like the Evil Dead. Oh yeah, it’s good to be the King!

    Hehe! Well, only those that know, know! And if you can make that astute observation and joke about watering, then you know. Last summer I observed someone in the inner big smoke with a planter box full of capsicums out the front of their Victorian era terrace house. And every time I went past the house, the water was oozing out of the planter box and onto the road. Hmm…

    Hey, a long while back I wrote about a ‘sad little box’ where someone had placed a local council approved planter box on the footpath in an inner big smoke suburb full of small Victorian era workers cottages. The planter box was a bit of a joke because it was so small that not much could ever grow in it. Anyway I saw the bloke in the house had eventually ripped up the front yard and laid out several raised garden beds for vegetables. I thought to myself that was more like it. Anyway a week or so back I saw the young bloke planting out the raised beds and I looked him in the eyes, tilted my head upwards in an alpha like gesture, gave him a thumbs up and said: “Respect” – and then walked off all mysterious like. And thenhe said “Thanks” in reply. Too cool, and we shared a blokey edible garden moment there.

    Really? Well, the saying is an excellent observation upon the human condition and all of those sayings sound to my ears as if they have had a long and distinguished lineage. And many thanks too, I know not where any of this stuff comes from, but it seems sort of important to me. 😉



  44. Hi Lewis,

    There are solid diminishing returns to discovering how to use more electricity, and it is a truly exciting day when one of those new uses is in the kitchen. 🙂 And replacing fossil fuels is a genuinely enjoyable feeling (not that the household uses much gas at all). You know what I’m really left hanging out for in the kitchen device department (and I appreciate some thoughts on the matter), but I recall back in the 1970’s that folks used to have slow cook pots that were powered by electricity. You’d just switch them on and there was a thermostat temperature setting, but I don’t see such basic and sturdy machines around these days. And they were always in these gawd awful burnt orange, spew (bilious) green, or lime colours. Am I imagining this machine, or was it a real thing? Stews used to get cooked to slow perfection in the machine.

    Yeah, there is a bit of coal up in the north east of the country. Coal is a major export and there are a number of black coal seams up in that part of the continent. For some reason environmentalists lately seem to be cool with the current coal extraction, but obsessive about new mines. Dunno why that would be the case as it doesn’t look good to me.

    Wow! What a journey up the east coast. I’m pretty certain that I would not attempt that venture. Fresh water would have been difficult and it is not like there are sandy beaches connecting the south to the north for the entire continent. Some folks love the challenge of the epic journey and I spotted this guy’s story the other week: Man and five camels rescued after cliff tumble in Victorian high country. Jamieson is near to where my grandfather and his WWII mates used to take me out bush and go camping for days on end. I was there to fetch water really, but far out it was fun and I ran wild. The bush in the images looks a bit like around here. The guy is probably walking around the Alpine walking trail (which is an epic walk which I have most certainly not done). That walk would take months and there are no towns out there waiting to restock your supplies. A quiet way to spend a few months – if you can forage your way from A to B, or find someone to resupply you along the route.

    Yeah, that sort of makes sense about nature, and like you say it does come full circle. We’re in a mass extinction event right now, but you know the planet is tough and she’s seen those before, and I’m sure she’ll see them again at some far distant point in the future. Was that quote from The Grapes of Wrath? Ah, another to add to the to-read list. What is your opinion on the book?

    Good to hear that there is some certainty in H’s future and that people are more or less moving in that particular direction. Mate, timing is everything with that particular discussion (as you alluded to). Some people don’t get that timing is important to raising some issues – and I have noticed that those folks can blurt out whatever is on their minds. One good feature of the new phone is that it has a programmable do not disturb mode. Someone I know tried to send me a text message in the 5am’s recently. 5am is not my friend.

    Thanks for the Atlantic article. What did you say about the paranoia quip? Ah, the Catch-22 author was quoted as saying: “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.” I read the entire article from beginning to end, and do you know that there was a part of me that suggests that if a gubamint (sic) creates an unintellagunce (sic) entity, then the entity might go looking for a reason for their funding to continue. Some folks from your country may say that it is a case of looking for reds under the beds. From my perspective this is an extraordinarily poor use of resources and I’d sack the lot of them if they were up to such internal mischief, as they might well be. Best not to make oneself an item of interest in the first place for such entities might be a good strategy. You know when you face an enemy with significantly more resources than yourself, then the enemy can bludgeon you into a position. I’m unsure that I could read such a book that the author has penned.

    Your dentist experience sounds very surreal, but I can sort of understand how such things came to pass. A wise course of action to check where the origin of the pain is first, and I really hope that the antibiotic mouth rinse works for you. It sounds like a far better applied and more focused treatment than hitting your entire system with antibiotics.

    Hey, that’s a good call.

    An interesting comparison. Strange things are brewing in your country and they’re not all related to the virus. For your interest, this is how our media is reporting on some of those strange matters: Donald Trump has been peddling a theory known as #Obamagate. What does it all mean?. Candidly, that is something of a minor change of tone from earlier articles and to me it signifies the beginnings of a change of wind. Of course it may well be flatulence too!

    We have those situations too with the epic wildfires. Fateful decisions are made, and I recall in the 2009 bushfires a guy interviewed was saying something about constructing a chicken pen with his kids on his property and he was oblivious as to the risk. People are not really good at assessing risk – especially unknown and difficult to quantify risks.

    Speaking of life as a crap shoot, crime is on the up down here. The editor almost lost the Dirt Mouse today. In a rare moment of error, she dropped the key and some nefarious soul grabbed the key and went through the car. Nothing was taken, but because it was a stick shift, well, not many folks can drive such machines these days. She eventually found the key hidden inside the car (it was locked when she left it). And people were loitering around waiting for her to leave the area and possibly have to leave the car unlocked. Oh yeah, crazy stuff. I had to drop what I was doing today and go in to the big smoke and take the spare key. We all make mistakes, but some mistakes don’t end up as well as that story.

    Down here we use the word thrips to describe tiny little flying insects which are often seen at night as they are attracted to lights. There are 6,000 varieties of the insect, so yeah our lot are most likely different to your lot. Please keep your lot to yourselves as they sound like quite the bean-horror!

    Nematodes have a fearsome reputation. Ouch!

    Hehe! Yeah I get that too. 🙂 You may get a laugh out of this but the last time I was at the doctors my blood pressure was something crazy like 160 over a lot. And I said to the doctor, look, you are stressing me out, that’s what’s wrong. I don’t usually have such high blood pressure, but doctors have that effect on me – especially when they are pushing blood test work on me and I’m in there for some other matter altogether. Yes, blood boiling. Mate, I totally hear you about that.



  45. Chris:

    I have very bad news. Then end of last week we learned that the youngest of our two sons, Stuart, had died. I don’t have many details and probably won’t put them out on the internet anyway when we eventually learn more. I felt that my friends here should know why I may not be here at Fernglade till things settle down a bit.

    Myself and my very small family of husband, older son (the one who loves projects), my sister, and my parents are doing quite well, especially considering that most of us are so far apart.


  46. Yo, Chris – They were called “Crock Pots.” Oh, they’re still around, but they’ve had a face lift and are now called “slow cookers.” Quit a few of the Ladies, here, swear by them. Can’t stomach the avocado green or burnt orange? There was always Harvest Gold 🙂 . Funny, some of the Ladies were just talking last night about how awful those 60’s colors, were. And the shag carpeting, to match. Popcorn ceilings?

    The Bryant party traveled 3,254 nautical miles, in 10 weeks. Most of them died on the way back to England, after recapture. In irons, to face trial, again. Only the woman (Mary Bryant) and three men, survived. They were championed by Boswell, and all were eventually pardoned. One of the men actually went back to Australia. I guess he felt it wasn’t such a bad place, as long as your were a free man.

    That was quit an article about the camel trek. Like the Editor’s go around with the Dirt Rat, a potential disaster that turns out, ok, is an adventure. (™ Lew). They make for good stories, in later years.

    Well, whoever texted you at such an ungodly hour, must turn in pretty early. You might want to drop him a few texts, around 11 pm. 🙂 . I usually turn my phone off when going to bed, or taking a nap.

    “Focused treatment” is the right term. Makes a lot more sense than wiping out all the flora in your body.

    Well, things are getting weirder and weirder, in the White House. Besides the whole Obamagate, thing. Although, that’s pretty much what Mr. Kunstler has been banging on about. I usually skip those posts when he’s off on a tear, in that direction. What that’s probably all about is a diversionary tactic. Reelection is looking a bit shaky. Though a lot can happen, between now and November. Trumps base rabidly hated Obama. The mention of his name whips them into a frenzy.

    Then there’s the “super duper missile. Which the Pentagon seems to know nothing about. But the real corker this week (to me), was the unfurling of the new “Space Force” flag. LOL. Looks strangely familiar. A direct rip off of the Star Trek logo.

    Strange days. Lew

    PS: There’s some virus wiping out the rabbits in Texas and the SW states. First reported in China, now, here. And, I think Australia, was mentioned. One thing I remember from the “Earth Abides” novel was the plagues of animals and bugs that swept through, early on. Nature rebalancing herself.

    PPS: Yesterday, or the day before was World Bee Day. The archaeology and classics sites were full of ancient references to bees.

  47. Hello again
    No I have never made cheese. I don’t like cottage cheese or any other soft, bland ones. My mother used to make that awful stuff that hung dripping within a cloth; ugh. I like most blue cheeses and hard plain cheeses like Jarlsburg. I use the strongest possible cheddar for cooking.


  48. @ Pam – I’m so sorry to hear your tragic news. Take care of yourself, and rejoin us, when you feel up to it. You will be in my thoughts. Lew

  49. Yo, Chris – Forgot to answer your question, about “The Grapes of Wrath.” Haven’t read the book in decades, but happened to re-watch the film, a couple of years ago. Both book and film are classics. I mean, Steinbeck, right?

    But, you’re looking for a bit of a critique? Well, it’s pretty much probably a pretty true view of the Great Depression, on the ground. At least told through the experiences of one family. Which porbably reflects the experiences of many families.

    The film, especially, pulls out all the emotional stops. One might feel a bit … manipulated. And, there’s a bit of a not so subtle “political message.” I’d say, keeping that in mind, the film and book are worth a look, but just let all that stuff wash over you. Experience it, and don’t over think it, too much. 🙂 Lew

  50. Dear Pam,

    I’m so sorry for the loss of Stuart. The death of any loved one is hard enough, but I have heard that burying one’s child is the hardest of all. You have my sympathies, and yes, you are among friends here. We can offer a friendly shoulder to cry upon and perhaps a silly story to bring some light to your dark and tragic journey.

    Cold wind blows from the north,
    A tiny spark is snuffed,
    Anger and pain,
    Flowers turn to the sun,
    Wallaby munches fruit tree,
    Birds sing,
    Sun breaks free from the storm clouds,
    Another day,
    A tear drips in remembrance of what once was.

    With sympathy,


  51. Hi Inge,

    No, I’ve never made cheese either, but if I did I would certainly make a cheddar, and like you I do prefer the stronger and bitey-er cheddar cheeses. Down here, the cheddar cheese is usually sold and rated according to taste, so you know what you are purchasing. A few years back I had a whole bunch of visitors here, and we’d purchased some very high quality tasty cheese. I noticed that one of the visitors had purloined the entire wedge of cheese and was rapidly working through it. There wasn’t much left, and when I managed to grab a bite, I thought to myself that the cheese was a bit too good for the visitors! Hehe! Oh well, one must occasionally set the standard when inviting guests to table. Interestingly, you rarely hear the word ‘table’ used in that context these days.

    But I’m most certainly a bit soft when it comes to blue cheese. It is not really in my nature to be mysterious, but there was an incident with blue cheese once, very long ago. Maybe I’m holding on too tight? Dunno.

    Earlier today, I poured a cement slab for the bee hive box to sit upon. Currently it is sitting on a timber pallet, and the really wet weather is playing havoc with the timber and I have no desire to see the bee hive fall upon its side. The bees would not be impressed.

    Ollie has been encouraging the sheep dogs to head out on brief ventures into the bush. How is Ren and Flynn going? I hope your son has curbed their enthusiasm for wandering?



  52. Chris:

    What a wonderful, wonderful poem. It is a great solace. I am helped in my grief by the knowledge that love transcends all. And also by our belief that we will be together – in some way – with our loved ones after this life.


  53. @ Lew:

    Thank you so much, Lew. I appreciate that. Stuart’s ashes will eventually be buried next to his dog Rex in our pet graveyard here. I have recently discovered a blue-flowering perennial that deer don’t eat – Siberian bugloss. I will plant that on his grave, along with the usual daffodils.


  54. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, you know I thought that those machines had an unusual name. It surely is a strange name because isn’t a colloquial usage of that word something like a ‘crock of …. (poo)’? Well there you go, I just had to look it up and apparently the word was an ancient Roman custom referring to the physical chamber pot. The Roman culture has cast a long shadow, but it is nice to observe our beginnings in our current actions and know what’s what.

    Hehe! Well you nailed that one. Harvest Gold sounds like the title of a Neil Young album! All I remember of them was that they were these appalling colours and inevitably had baked on stains from err, cooking explosions. But the food sure was tasty, and if I recall correctly, cheap cuts of meat were made tender and palatable. But then that was back in the day when cheap cuts of meat were also ground into mince meat at home using a hand turned meat grinder. You wouldn’t want to get your fingers caught in that machine for sure, but given it was hand cranked, well let’s just say that the jury wouldn’t buy the story that it was an accident.

    Oh my, that is like 50 miles travel per day. Surely the Bryant party stole a small boat in order to that escapade? Ah, William Bryant was a fisherman, of course – and couldn’t keep his mouth shut – a common error. The early settlers had difficulties with accessing the fish stock resources and this story may have been part of that minor difficulty – the cheeky scamps. Who would have thought that the Dutch would hand them over to the British authorities? Such resourcefulness should be rewarded! Ah, Mary found a benefactor and patron in James Boswell. Interesting indeed. Wealth is a tool that can occasionally be used to good effect and it needn’t come with strings – as in this case, but alas for Mary, the estate did not feel the same sympathy as James Boswell did.

    The guy on the camel trek is heading into some harsh alpine territory at a rough time of year, but you know he must know what he is doing by now. Maybe? The editor learned a few things yesterday of the darker side of our fellow humans activities, and I had to coach her over the phone in order to stifle the nefarious plans that had developed around her without warning. Her first reaction was not a wise move, but it all ended up being OK. It was a most unusual situation, but you know such things can happen and without warning. There are times that I get flashes of insight into the darker world of our fellow man, and I can look at that objectively. It is a grubby place that some folks dwell in, but it is their choice I guess.

    Oh, I like how you think! Never thought of doing that myself (calling late in the evening only because of fear of the Golden Rule), but yeah… 🙂 But probably also wouldn’t do that though as the person would possibly love the attention – and who wants to feed that monster?

    You are much more disciplined than I in that regard, and so I have relied on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ program on the wretched device and can live with that bargain. We worked pretty hard today and I fell asleep for a brief nap whilst in a hot bath this evening. Only ten minutes into the nap, Scritchy woke me up as she had decided that she wanted dinner and began pacing around the house – and continued to do so until I fed her. Yes, I’m almost certain that she sees me as an inferior being. I in turn did my best to ignore her antics.

    Anyway, we replaced a light outside the house in the garden. The original light had become over grown by agapanthus and was more or less useless. That was easily fixed, but it sure took a lot of work to do. And the timber pallet that the bee box was sitting on has begun deteriorating in the cold and wet weather. This is a bad thing because if the bee box crashed over, I’m almost certain that despite it being close to winter and all, the bees would come and get me…

    Exactly, I was unaware that such treatments were even possible. It is a really good idea for your toothy matters. Few people realise that antibiotics, like chemo are a serious A-bomb response and not to be used lightly. But you know…

    Mate, your politics has been very weird for quite a while now – just as an outsiders perspective. When Empire falls, something has to give and reality might be one of those things. I read all of Mr Kunstler’s posts – even if I don’t understand the dynamics going on. He might be right you know, and what a strange outcome that would be.

    Oh my gawd! You are right, it sure does look like a direct rip-off. Well done them! I’m impressed with the sheer cheek of the situation. The question is though: How do you have a space force when you don’t have launchers that can lift humans beyond the atmosphere? It seems like an important question to me. 🙂

    There was recent talk of halting F-35 parts production at the facility in Melbourne. And the Chinese have recently begun thumbing their noses at our coal – not that they have much option in that story. All our friends are leaving us high and dry. Oh well, we’ll be fine down here. We’ll get by, although the drop in export revenue is bound to hurt – not that anyone seems to think that far ahead.

    Strange days indeed!

    The virus wiping out the rabbits here is black and tan and there are two of them. My have those two pups have risen to the challenge lately. I’m proud of them and can report that we are now definitely well past Peak Rabbit. They have to go further afield now to find them.

    But yes, we are smack bang in the middle of a major extinction event right now – and few people seem to be even remotely troubled by the circumstance.

    Here’s to the bees! And my lot scored a brand new concrete pad (which hasn’t cured yet because of the cold weather) today. I thought that it was an auspicious time to create the concrete pad, but had not known why. Now I do. The hive is about six years old now and going strong. They seem to know their business pretty well.

    Ah thanks for the recommendation, and the book sounds like a classic and has been added to the ‘to-read’ pile. At the moment I’m reading about Indigenous fire and land management practices, and I had no idea how close my own feelings about the environment align with their eminently sensible perspective. The author talks about our current cultures lack of connection with land and I well understand that matter. Oh yeah. It is a good read for the social critique and commentary alone.



  55. Dear Pam,

    Thank you. This thing we all journey upon. This life thing. It’s a gift and unfortunately it comes with a price. The price is worth it, despite the tragedy that haunts and travels along with all of us.

    And yes, I agree.

    With sympathy,


  56. Dear Pam

    I am so sorry to hear about your son. My deepest sympathy to you and your family

    What a lovely place to bury his ashes. We buried my three siblings at the farm where they grew up. It was very comforting.


  57. @ Pam,

    Sorry to hear such sad news. Condolences to you and yours. Our thoughts are with you.


  58. @ Pam – Vinca is another nice plant. Ground cover, small blue flowers. An evergreen. And, blooms about earliest in the spring. I planted a bit in a corner of my garden. But I discovered it when I was out picking out my cemetery plot. Lew

  59. @ Pam – my deepest sympathies to you and your family. I too am thinking of you at this very difficult time. May memories of your son shine brightly in your heart.


  60. Yo, Chris – I think the explosion of colors in the 60s, was a reaction to the bleak, rather colorless 50’s. Which I remember, well. Gray, tan, sand, beige … with the barest touch of pink, here and there.

    I have one of those grinders. 🙂 . Besides my grain mill. I think just about every household had one, as, there are still a lot of them kicking around on the second hand market. And, they were indestructible. Usually nickel plated cast iron. The had a lot of different attachments, for different grinds. Even a sausage stuffer attachment. I’ve never used mine, but, just in case … 🙂 .

    Yeah, just about any tough piece of meat can be reduced to succulent tenderness, as long as the heat is long and slow. The Crock pot was popular, because you could set it and forget it. Let it perk away all day, and dinner is ready to dish out, when you got home. Enough liquid, and nothing (hardly) ever burned.

    Well, when the Bryant party got to the Dutch, they had concocted some story about being off a sunk whaler. They were wined and dined. Then, apparently, William got drunk and shot off his mouth. I think the Dutch felt a bit “had.” The boat they stole had very little draft, and I’d say they were very lucky. William was a fisherman, but another fellow on the boat had real sea fairing skills. Like navigation.

    As it is with Scritchy, so it is with “H.” She (sometimes) wants what she wants when she wants it. And can be pretty mulish. Usually, it’s over wanting to sit in my lap, while I work on the computer. And, usually, I let her. But sometimes I’m trying to concentrate on something, and it’s a bit of a drag to try and type over her head. And, if I ignore her long enough, she starts to bark. Which is unusual, for her. A time or two, I’ve shut her out of the bedroom (where the computer is). She scratches at the door a bit, but has learned I can outlast her. It’s all rather half hearted, now.

    Fall of Empires, etc.. Kunstler is pretty interesting, today. I think the whole “Space Force” thing is a distraction. And, it caters to another voting demographic. Those who still believe in everlasting progress, and that we’re going to “go to the stars.” I must admit, I was a bit sad, when if finally sunk in that that wasn’t going to happen. Sigh. Thank you Mr. Greer for smashing a small child’s dreams! 🙂 . I imagine this conversation in the White House. “What’s this warp drive, I keep hearing about.” “Well, Mr. President … that’s science FICTION.” “You mean there’s no such thing as warp drive? FAKE NEWS!!! (Can I announce we’re going to invent it?”)

    I think globalization is being rethought in a lot of quarters. But, I’d guess that Big Money will bring it back as much as possible. At this time.

    Yup. The Blob is back! If it doesn’t go away, I’d say we’re in for a hot summer.

    I watched an interesting program, on YouTube, last night. It’s about an hour and a half long. The British Museum is having a Pompeii / Herculaneium exhibit. It’s a tour of the exhibit, with commentary by experts. One of my favorites, Prof. Mary Beard is on hand. They’ve managed to borrow a lot of iconic pieces. There was one section that has three frescoed walls from a garden room. They had a garden expert in, commenting on all the different plants. There was a strawberry tree!

    Fair warning, though. A lot of the exhibits are not family friendly. Lots of flesh, and frescoes of people doing what people do. Willies in great abundance. And, I don’t know how you’d explain to a small child, the sculpture of the god Pan, doing things with a goat. But, as Prof. Beard pointed out, Pan was half goat, so, is it really so unnatural? I think her final comment was that it “seems consensual.” 🙂 .

    Anyway, the YouTube search to use is, “Pompeii Live from the British Museum.” Lew

  61. @ Lew,

    The Dragon for Dummies and Idiots Guide to Dragons type books, well, that type of book tells me that only dummies and idiots go after dragons. Since I’m neither, usually, I’m gonna avoid the dragons. But thanks for the ideas… 🙂

    But that movie clip. Dude, that was scary, and all those rabbits looked roided up, or maybe I should say “hopped” up?


  62. Chris,

    Yeah, inspiration for naming is interesting. When I got Thor from the animal shelter, they called him “Burly” as in he was one hefty pooch. The Princess heard him bark and said I had to change his name, hopefully to something with a Viking theme, so I figure that Burly’s bark was thunderous, so Thor he was named. Then when we got Cheyenne as a puppy, there was no doubt: the family Viking has a dog with a Viking name, so the Family Native American names her dog a Native name. There you have it: Thor and Cheyenne as the intercultural Samson and Delilah?

    Ah, the odds are always in the favor of whomever Big Brother wants them to favor. Or, was there really ever a winner in 1984’s national lottery?

    Your mate had a great insight there. Some humans have a very large capacity for getting pushed, and that edge seems to be far, far away. Yet, when that type reaches that edge and falls, that is one big cliff. And you only know where the edge is if you’ve gone over it. Sometimes there’s no coming back once you’ve gone over.

    The story of Gunnar in the Icelandic Saga of the Burning of Njal really points that out. Gunnar was the toughest in the region and rather humble about it, rather like the ideal martial artist with a lot of patience and ability to ride things out without resorting to violence. Others kept killing his servants, taking his animals, trying to pick quarrels and brawls with him etc, but he kept his cool for years. One day he got a minor injury due to an accident, and poof! he’d had enough and picked a fight, killed somebody and the great feud was on. He eventually gets killed, later most of Njal’s (pronounced sorta like Neil) family gets killed, many of their enemies get killed, this going on for seemingly decades, and it didn’t stop even after Gunnar and Njal died. Gunnar’s drop off the cliff had horribly tragic repercussions!

    Yes, Lew’s helpful book suggestions. I’ll pass. No dragon hunting for me. I’m getting to old for that kind of thing. 🙂

    Coo! We got inundated Wednesday and Wednesday night. Gobsmacked. The 5 hours after my last post resulted in another 22 mm. Yes, we got 35 mm or so in about 10 or 11 hours. Monthly total averages 26 or 27 mm. We’re over 65 mm for the month now, which helps with the huge deficit we had at the end of April.

    That’s an interesting mathematics you mentioned. Machine versus hand tools = twice the work but 3 times? 4 times? 6 times? the risk. Very good observation, one with which I concur. There’s no good answer about using the machine or not: one makes one’s choice and lives with it and is VERY careful with the machine if that is the choice.

    For several years now I’ve quit mowing the lawns in late May or early June. I won’t let them go brown, as that might have the wrong result with the trees, many of whom have shallow roots. Due to the taller grass and the shaded roots and less but deeper watering, the grass stays somewhere greenish yellow and there has been a 30% to 35% reduction in our summer water use.

    I think the Killer Rabbits would tear Chuckie apart. They appear meaner and there’s a lot more of them. Back in the 1500s, the hideously tumultuous time on the English-Scottish border, the border families were tougher than tough. A cousin has also studied that period of history. We swapped notes. We had a hearty laugh at the written record that someone had seriously suggested to the King of Scotland that they move 100 or 200 Highlanders down to the worst area and that those Highland toughs would have things straightened out in a week. Ummm, nope, they either would’ve been “persuaded” to join in the normal fun and mayhem or they wouldn’t have lasted 3 days. Rabbits vs Chuckie scenario.

    I remember your story about the sad little planter box. Nice ending with the bloke doing the raised bed thing.

    It was so cold I had to turn on the gas fireplace for an hour this morning. +3C outside. Supposed to be near +30C by Wednesday. Typical Spokane weather from extreme to extreme. That’s gonna feel outrageously hot though.


  63. Hi Lew,

    Thanks for the book suggestion – it sounds up my alley and I have added it to my list 🙂


  64. Hi Chris,

    All this talk of peak rocks, and yet the rock walls continue to grow! I feel it is reasonable to declare the “theory” of peak rocks total bunkum and I hereby announce a celebration to usher in a new age of free and plentiful rocks for all! Did I also mention the special bonus remuneration package tied to rock supply projections, oh nevermind, lots of legalese, don’t bother yourself with it. Where was I, something about a party!

    Luckily, I have seen Kellys Heroes before, although I was an impressionable young lad and cannot remember a lot. Youtube also told me I should watch a clip from the “Battle Of Britain”. This seemed a significant oversight in my cultural osmosis, so it is now on The List.

    In other news, formal notice has being provided to my current employer. Some might say I am jumping the gun as I have no certain place of employment come July. I would reply, you need to risk it for the biscuit!


  65. Hi Lewis, DJ and Damo,

    Thank you for the lovely comments. Apologies but I’ve run out of time to reply today, but promise to reply tomorrow.

    Well done Damo! Sometimes you have to take a leap of faith – and into the wide blue yonder you and Mrs Damo go. 🙂



  66. Hi Lewis,

    That makes sense about reactions to the 50’s colour palette. Surprisingly there were very few domestic appliances from that time which were still hanging around in the 70’s and 80’s, although now you mention it I do recall a gun metal grey very old looking vacuum cleaner. It probably dated from around that era. A rather unusual looking appliance as it had a (from memory) square sausage shape reminiscent of a mutant cross between wombat poo (square as every sensible person knows) and one of those old door draft stoppers which looked as if someone had spent way too long dwelling upon the Dachshund breed of dog.

    Watched Kelly’s Heroes yesterday, and in a strange way I really enjoyed it. Donald Sutherland telling subordinates off about ‘negative wave energy, man’ during an intense scene in the film was quite amusing. As was the classic comment: ‘I’m catching some rays, man’. All very irreverent and appealing to my dubious sense of humour.

    Oh! Good stuff about the hand turned meat grinder – those things look as though they could last for a thousand years and then some. Very heavy duty and solid construction. Do you use your grain mill much? Any tips for the inexperienced with those machines?

    Too true: “Enough liquid, and nothing (hardly) ever burned.” For some reason they used to boil over and spill down the sides though, but I can’t recall how or why that occurred. Incidentally, I suspect that with the restaurant situation down here, that meals of slow cooked pulled pork (almost a stew) will be a thing of the past for many years. Oh well.

    Yes, that was what I took out of the story, and William was clearly the weak link, although he could fish – and there would have been plenty of fish. Incidentally, the Great Barrier Reef is not close to shore – it is a few hours boat ride from the shoreline. And Captain Cook wrecked the Endeavour on that reef too, but was able to beach the ship and perform repairs – which when you think about it for a bit, is an epic bit of work.

    Yes, who would have thought that dogs can sulk, but they sure can kick up a good sulk. Pester power is a real thing, but like you I can also ignore such stratagems, although for me it is not cost free to do so.

    Mate, it is absolutely filthy outside here today – and the house has been stuck in a cloud all day long. There weren’t too many leaf change tourists up in the more fashionable end of the mountain range, although I did notice one tourist taking a photo of the thick fog. Makes you wonder how that shot will turn out? Yes, and this is where the camera was out of focus, hang on a sec, no that’s fog. Oooo eerie.

    Mr Kunstler’s essay was most excellent today. I have read that back in the day he attended urban planning meetings protesting such dark subjects – and was studiously ignored. I’m no fan of such things either. Speaking of which: Why Australia’s Target stores had to close. That is a sort of department store. Two decades or more ago, they used to sell locally made items. There is a lot of ‘lost their way’ kind of stories, and I always considered that closing down local manufacturing just so stuff could be had ‘more and cheaper’ was a bad idea.

    Possible. Two steps backwards and one forwards, so it goes.

    Better bounce!

    Talk tomorrow.


  67. @ Margaret:

    Thank you so much. We who live in the country are so very fortunate.


  68. @ DJSpo:

    Thank you for your condolences. It helps a lot to know people are thinking of me.


  69. @ Claire:

    Thank you. I have wonderful memories and was fortunate to have spent a lot of time with him over recent months, since he was laid off.


  70. @ Lew:

    We have bits of vinca around – where the deer can’t reach them. It might be worth trying anyway as all I have to do is move some. Thanks for the idea.


  71. Yo, Chris – If the vacuum had chrome on it, it might have even been an older deco design. Speed lines? 🙂 . Hmmm. I remember an article about a young man who collected vacuum cleaners …

    I’ve pretty much just used the grain grinder, for corn. My model is very much like the meat grinders. The only tip I have is, I discovered there’s a tension screw (how tight the grinding surfaces join). Dried corn is very hard, so, I discovered if I keep the machine “loose”, it’s easier (though still quit a struggle) to get it through the first time. I then tighten the screw, and run it through again. Sometimes, three or four times if I want a very fine meal.

    The weather here for the past week has been … ominous. I mean, there’s very few patches of blue, and mostly dark threatening clouds. But they don’t do much of anything. Just a spatter of rain, now and again. The temperatures are very cool.

    That is interesting about your Target and K-Mart stores. Here, they followed a reversed arc. K-Mart is pretty much on it’s way out; Target is booming along. But, I did a bit of looking around, and even though the Australian stores have the same name, and even use the same logos, they are entirely unrelated.

    Sam Walton, who founded Wally-World was very much an “American Made”, kind of guy. It was a point of pride. When he passed on, and the family took over, it was a whole new ball game. He must be spinning in his grave.

    More about the Roman garden room frescoes. They also identified opium poppies. They mentioned a long list of plants that the Romans brought to Britain. There are also many birds in the paintings. Most species have been identified. Magpies and gold finches, etc..

    I ran across an interesting article, last night. “America’s Next Crisis is Already Here.” The first rumblings of tax shortfalls are beginning to hit states and cities. Times are going to be very tough. They’re just getting the first inklings of how bad it’s going to be. I started thinking about our library system. They were on shaky financial ground, before the pandemic.

    I got the book “Snakefat and Knotted Threads”, about Finish magic. Took a quick look through it, last night. It’s a smallish paperback of about 87 pages. Lots of interesting stuff in it, but nothing on scrying. 🙁 . The dedication (to the author’s parents) caught my eye. “I have laboured with the soile, to make if fit for plants, so they might delight in the soile, so they might live and prosper under our clymat, as in their native and proper country…” A quote from someone named John Gerard. Judging from the spelling, some old, long ago dude.

    I spent some time in the garden harvesting camomile, this morning. So I can clear some of it out and make room for other stuff. I wondered if it would regrow from the root. Roman camomile is a perennial, German an annual. But, the note said that the German is so free seeding, that not to worry about it springing up, again.

    Talked with Eleanor about an hour, last night. She seems to be doing pretty well. Asked me to spread the word that she wants to be left alone, this week-end, to settle back in. Not that that will do much good. “That possibly can’t apply to me!” I told her she should put a note on her door. Not that that will do much good, either. 🙂 . Lew

  72. @ Lew – I do the same thing when I grind my corn: loosen the screw enough to coarsely crack the corn the first time, then run the cracked corn through again with the screw tighter (smaller spacing between the wheels) the second time. My grinder gets it small enough for corn mush with two grinding steps. If I wanted very fine corn for corn meal, I would run it through another time with the wheels a little closer.


  73. Hi Chris
    Looking at the view of the equipment room I see left to right
    Top PL 80 , PL 60.,? PL80, PL80 Charge controllers

    Floor: Vent Fan, -Left New Battery Charger- right

    Did you get the 48 vdc. @ 20 amp unit that you wanted?
    what is your existing Battery chemistry and cell ampacity?

    Have you put out any inquiries for other used panels that people are replacing, Another bank of 16 in the paddock would seem nice. After a good winter rest of course?he he
    Cheers Al

  74. Hi Damo,

    Well that is the thing with Peak Rocks. Every wise cattle dog knows that Peak Rocks does not mean that there are no rocks to be had – it is just that each additional rock costs that much more in energy in order to recover the rock. Of course cattle dogs are well aware that human’s may not get this concept, and so the cheeky canine scamps are hatching a plan to hitch a few humans up together so that they can recover rocks from further afield. Ollie tells me to think of it like some sort of giant tug-o-war battle game, but otherwise don’t worry (or complain) too much about his canine breeds plans for humanity.

    You never quite mentioned who would be attending the party? Ollie seems to believe that it would be him and not me, but sometimes a little wishful thinking can go a long way (maybe).

    Yeah, My memories of the film stem from an earlier age too. Weren’t we all young and dumb, err sorry young and impressionable? 🙂

    Well done, and good luck. Who knows how these things will eventuate. Your profession is probably doing things less hard than many, so it is not a bad idea at all. And there is talk of major projects constructions blitzes in the pipeline. And it is always wise to acknowledge when one is throwing the dice. I do that from time to time too. How else does a person learn and get outside ones comfort zone?



  75. Hi DJ,

    Burly is a somewhat literal interpretation of Thor’s name, but the bark displays the true nature of the beast. Judge thee not by thy words, but by thy actions! 😉 Good stuff, and sometimes a solid bark that begins at the very tip of the tail before then proceeding through the body (building energy all the way through the process) only to emanate at the snout, is a bark to be feared and respected. Very wise regarding Cheyenne’s naming.

    Your handle on the dark arts of math is better than mine and I shake my head in wonder and depart from the field. Lotteries are rarely won a second time, although try telling people that and see what reaction it elicits from the believers.

    True, some who fall can never regain the altitude that they fell from, but then the real question becomes thus: What the heck were they doing up there in the first place? And my mate had fallen off, but he eventually recovered and was different – which is totally cool.

    Oh my! But a decade or two back we had an underworld war down here that ran to its dark conclusion almost in the same way that Gunnar’s story ran. A local crime reporter wrote about the story and it was not good. The title of his many books were “Underbelly” parts 1 through a lot. Most of the people involved died rather brutally. Blood feuds can run deep sometimes, and can be ignited via the most innocuous (or careless) of beginnings. Old Gunnar had the right of it, until he didn’t. How did he know he was the best around?

    Soft! I shall say no more about the Dragon hunting. But then mate, I’m with you – who’d take on a dragon? Crazy stuff.

    Nice to hear that you enjoyed some decent rain. This week was something of a write-off for work as it just rained and rained. The conditions were very sub-fluffy optimal.

    Well that is the thing about machines and fossil fuel isn’t it? Dealing with one horse would be problematic and take up most of your attention, but people think nothing of dealing with a fossil fuel powered small machine that can deliver the work of 6.5 horses. Ouch, and if a person was to lose their concentration – then not good at all. In fact very bad things can happen, very quickly.

    Yes, move slowly with changes in the watering cycle of trees. Very wise to have noticed. I watched the old trees in the inner urban parks wilt during that long ago drought. Interestingly, the nearby houses were still consuming water and producing organic waste and nobody thought to construct a system to feed one output to the other. Maybe I think differently? Anyway, the councils discovered – like you did – that the trees had to be watered, and then fed huge quantities of organic matter. But as the years went on, the trees still had to be fed, but the water requirements I suspect were eased off. If you were dealing with dairy cows, you’d use the word ‘weaning’ to describe that process. I rarely water the orchard, but this has taken a lot of trial and error – and low yields, but as a system it gets hardier.

    Hehe! The Highland toughs go native, and become an even bigger problem! 🙂 I have heard tales of later roof burning and evictions with that lot, and in a land with limited timber resources, that would have been tragic. But at least they weren’t put to the sword, thus proving that things could always be worse.

    ‘Sad little box’ – yeah, the guy looked pretty chuffed with the acknowledgement. And the box looks even sadder by way of comparison. There were 2 plants in it last time I checked.

    As they say, it doesn’t rain, it pours! Yup pillar to post and all that. The weather down here has been feral cold and wet lately. 30’C sounds quite nice to me. 🙂



  76. Hi Lewis,

    You know, the vacuum cleaner probably did have shiny chrome speed lines on it. It goes faster, I guess, but if they really wanted the vacuum cleaner to go faster again, why didn’t they paint it red? The red models always go faster – every right thinking person knows this to be true. All the talk about Camulod, skystones, smithing and that sort of talk has produced an interest in just what is this thing called stainless steel? Turns out that it is not too complex an alloy. Did I read somewhere that chrome is in short supply?

    Thanks for the explanation regarding your grain grinder. Of course, corn. Makes sense. Ah yes, I was considering wheat flour rather than corn flour, but yes, it makes a whole lot of sense for you. Some of the organic wheat flours I’ve tried over the years have a coarser grind, and no doubts I have become soft and used to the commercial flours which are very fine. Of course these coarser flours probably require a different preparation process than what I currently do for bread making. Hmm. I can see that this is a process where you just have to get to a ‘good enough’ point and be happy with that. Lots of activities and projects are like that.

    The weather Gods have decided that we should both enjoy the same weather at the same time – although frankly it is probably colder here. It was so wet and windy this morning that we gave up on any pretence of work – and headed off to score some gourmet pies, refill the stores of seconds apples, and purchase a gingerbread man. The editor baked some ginger biscuits yesterday, and they were better because we used real ginger, whilst the bakery probably used ginger powder which is generally cheaper. The seconds apples come directly from the local orchards and they are consistently without doubt some of the best purchased apples that I’ve tasted. Probably they weren’t stored for long – and certainly they didn’t travel far.

    Oh! I always assumed that the Australian stores were licensed to your stores. Bricks and mortar stores are doing it tough as right now. Property rents and values must surely decline, and soon. I’ve been mentioning to people who are excluded from the property market that this may open up some space for them. It is very difficult for someone to take a gamble and start up a small business because the overheads are so crazy. But I’ve never assumed that is a state of affairs that will continue indefinitely. The restrictions on numbers at restaurants will be a tough pill to swallow for the industry – and honestly the numbers don’t stack up to me.

    Hey, it ain’t just old and now dead Sam who thought that. My grandfather was staunchly in favour of local manufacturing, and it wasn’t all talk as he drove a locally made vehicle despite being able to splash the mad cash for some European exotic vehicle. I have always thought that all the various governments and their miscellaneous entities should have been forced to support the local vehicle manufacturing businesses. Turns out they might have been too excited with that prospect, and so here we all are today…

    Poppies are a funny plant, but then the seeds are sold – and the plants seem very hardy. You sent me on a dark rabbit hole mentioning that plant. 🙂

    Well yeah, the Feds can print money, and yet the states cannot. And our local gubarmint (sic) which I assume is a larger version of your county’s are even harder off again. Yes, it is one giant squeeze of funds from high to low. The states down here I guess will be talking to their bankers in order to fund shortfalls (our lot can do that and have done so in the past).

    I spotted an article on the libraries down here and how they are conducting themselves at this time: Despite closing their doors, libraries have been overwhelmed with demand during isolation.

    Scrying would be a tough art to learn, and possibly instructions might not be found in your average book. 🙂 John Gerard the English Botanist was an astounding fellow. And also courteous to his intellectual forebear’s, although some envious folks may view the matter in a different light.

    German chamomile died off here. Not sure why, but perhaps I did not allow it to follow its full cycle.

    Good to hear that Eleanor is back and doing well. Some folks are popular, and I do hope that there is not a case of satisfying people’s morbid curiosity in other folks badgering her?

    Cheers – and better get writing!


  77. Yo, Chris – If you search “Deco vacuum cleaner,” and click on “images”, a lot of old vacuum cleaner’s come up. I’d guess, maybe, the one you remember is an “Electrolux.” They were thick on the ground, and were “built to last.” Also, back in the Dark Ages, there were repair shops that could heal an ailing machine. In Centralia, we actually have a shop (that’s been around forever) that repairs and carries parts for vacuums and sewing machines.

    I see Claire works her grain grinder, the same way. Her description is clearer than mine.

    Sounds like you had a day of good scores. Pies, ginger bread dudes and apples. All days should run so well 🙂 .

    Ah, I see I forgot the link to the article on falling tax revenue, and cities. Once more, into the breach …

    I read an article in our paper, the other day. It was a report from our County Tax Accessor. About this time of the year, there is a “Personal Property Tax” collected. A lot of the reports are coming back “Closed. Ceased Business.” Far more than a usual year. Too early yet to get a firm fix on the damage.

    I received an e-mail, this morning, that Centralia Square Antique Mall is opening on the 28th. There were guidelines to appropriate conduct. Masks, and no more than one person in a mall space, at a time. Please observe social distancing. I’ll give it a couple of days, and drop in. See if I can manage to spread a little filthy lucre, around.

    Looks like your libraries are doing far more for the patrons, than ours. I mean, as far as keeping staff working and providing “real” books. As near as I can tell, most of the Timberland employees have been furloughed, and they bang on about all the electronic resources, available. Which I don’t use. I’m sure there are younger, hip and with it librarians, who would love to move the whole kit and kaboodle, on line. Close out those archaic buildings, and do away with any of that tiresome one on one, with the public.

    I looked up John Gerard, last night. One of those fellows Mr. Greer had been banging on about, lately. 🙂 . A contemporary of Shakespeare. And, Dr. Dee. Queen Elizabeth I’s, astrologer.

    I spent some time in the garden, yesterday. Besides working with the chamomile. Pulled my Patriotic Petunia Pot, together. It’s a hanging basket. Hung a few thrip traps. More ground clearing and tidying up, today.

    I talked some more with Eleanor, last night. She wanted to spend a quiet week-end, other than family, but the family set her up with one care giver, after another. All people she doesn’t know. I think they’re trying to keep her in cotton wool. I had a go around with Susan Who Always Has A Better Idea, this morning. My opinion was that they should have followed her desires. Susan said, “What if it was your mother?” I said, “I’d respect her wishes.” All the strange people in and out, just winds her up tighter.

    She commented that “H” is “different.” Quieter. I thought about it, last night. Now, I really don’t know much about dog’s concept of time. But, “H” had her little world rocked. Even though she was well taken care of (if I do say so, myself), a lot in her life changed. And, I don’t think that was on her radar. So now she knows that life can turn on a dime, and it’s made her a bit more … tentative? Lew

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