The taming of the Fluffy

Maybe it was just me, but when I worked in the corporate world and ran a graduate program, very occasionally I encountered an assistant accountant who just couldn’t wait to teach me all that they knew. Their sense of self belief and willingness to push boundaries exceeded their capabilities, yet they knew it not.

Sidewinder was a notable young fellow. During my time at that corporate job, he used to fall asleep at his desk during the day. I’d have to suggest that falling asleep at your desk or during a meeting is what may politely be called by the technical name of: ‘a career limiting move’. His nickname was derived from the REM song: ‘The Sidewinder sleeps tonight’. The nickname seemed somehow appropriate to me, although I never shared it with him. I’d wake him up most days with a gentle shove and wonder whether it was the work or the environment which was boring him.

Sidewinder aside, most of the graduates were happy to be there, work and learn. And they were truly given the opportunity to do all of that. They were given the freedom to prove that they were worthy of responsibility, with enough rope provided to hang themselves should they need to learn from the errors of their ways. Sidewinder however, was a minor nuisance that had to be dealt to, and so I did. Some problems are best nipped in the bud.

Plum the sheep dog puppy happily surfs the empty brazier

Over the past week the two new sheep dog puppies (Plum and Ruby) decided that they’d head off upon an adventure in the surrounding forest accompanied by their older companion, Ollie the Australian cattle dog. I was unimpressed.

They weren’t gone for long, maybe half an hour or so and I doubt they got into much trouble, but out in the surrounding forest trouble may well find them. The farm has no fencing surrounding the perimeter. As such, the wildlife are free to come and go through the orchards. Fences would be a real pain and cause the wildlife no end of problems. So without fences, the place is jumping with life. However, for the dogs they have to learn that with great freedom, also comes great responsibility.

Upon returning to the house from their most excellent adventure, all three dogs looked exhausted and excited, but had their heads hanging in a downcast fashion. They knew that they’d done wrong. Not wanting to discourage them from returning to the house, they were equally punished and loved and then unceremoniously chucked into the dog enclosure – to cool their heels (paws in this case).

The three dogs are intelligent and they can learn. In order to test the veracity of the punishment, I let the three out together again the next day. And again they ran off and away on a short adventure in the surrounding forest. They did come back again. Hmm.

The facts speak for themselves, and clearly the previous admonition was ignored.

Of late I’ve had a recurring theme of the concept of a horse breaker entering into my consciousness. A horse breaker is a person who breaks in horses. Any person who can do that job has my utmost respect. To take a wild and unruly horse and then get it to accept some limitations and accept a modicum of control and direction is a truly astounding feat.

Horse breakers would have all manner of techniques at their disposal. However, at the end of the day it becomes a battle of wills resulting in the acceptance of limits and the establishment of trust between the person and the horse. Nobody really wants to be in a battle of wills.

Of course I’ve been thinking of battles of wills of late, because when I look around me at all the strange circumstances arising from the subject-that-dare-not-be-named, I see that familiar and comforting patterns have been upended. Physical contact between people has been severed. Connections to community have been strained and/or stopped. Supplies and resources were shown unequivocally to be limited despite previous displays of limitlessnes. And economic and employment uncertainty being suddenly introduced. It is a heady mix of challenges to face and may possibly result in some permanent really strange changes in our society.

So there I was left last week wondering about the trio of naughty fluffies (Ollie, Plum and Ruby). Clearly instructions were not going to work, and so it came down to a battle of wills. We upended their familiar and comforting patterns. Ollie no longer runs around the farm with Plum and Ruby. And Plum and Ruby no longer run around the farm with Ollie.

When they are not running around the farm, each dog alternatively spends time in the outdoor dog enclosure. So daytime physical contact between the dogs has also been severed. And their previous freedom to roam around the farm has been heavily curtailed.

It is a heady mix of challenges for the trio of dogs to face. Ollie occasionally howls mournfully from the dog enclosure. Before coming to this farm as a young pup, Ollie spent most of his time in cages, and so this battle of wills is especially hard on him. The two sheep dog pups are now about the same age Ollie was when he turned up here, and they have never known a day of hardship. Even still, they too voice their unhappiness at this unexpected turn of events.

They blew it though. Maybe they thought to themselves that it somehow all didn’t matter? They knew they did wrong, and yet all the same they went off and did it without a care for consequences. However, when I consider all the craziness that has been imposed on society of late, I often wonder whether there is someone way high up in the pecking order implementing much the same strategies in relation to all of us.

The weather this week went from sunny to cloudy, and then back to sunny again. One cold morning there was an epic frost in the valley below the farm. It sure gets cold down there!

Frosty air settles in the valley below the farm

A few months ago, we learned an interesting item of information: If you place a gate at anything other than 90 degrees to a path, the width of the gate is narrower than it would otherwise potentially be. On the garden terrace that we use to grow eggplants, globe artichokes and tomatoes, the gate was at about 70 degrees to the path and as such it was slightly too narrow for the low centre of gravity mower and trailer.

Three new fence posts were installed so that the gate will sit at 90 degrees to the path

Three new fence posts were installed this week so that the gate can sit at 90 degrees to the path. And the new posts means that another 150mm / 6 inches of width on the gate becomes available. Who knew? The posts will spend the next week curing before the heavy gate is installed.

The majority of the week was very calm, so we conducted a few burn-offs of forest material. I received an insurance policy renewal during the week and it had increased in price by 23% when compared to last year, and so I’m guessing the insurance industry is also having some dramas during these crazy days. It is funny to me, but not really in a funny way, when serious economic people suggest that inflation is very low. Given all of this insurance craziness, it is prudent to clean up the surrounding forest.

We cleaned up and burnt off fallen forest materials

Many large rocks were also relocated so as to protect a very large and very old tree. We intend to construct a small ramp leading down into the orchard and the path will travel alongside those rocks and the tree will be protected. The existing access path into the orchard is way too steep, and during wet weather it can be problematic getting back up the hill again.

Many large rocks were placed so as to protect this very large and very old tree

Peak Rocks is real, and we have had to travel further afield in order to recover useful quantities of rock. This however does not mean that there are no rocks to be had, it just takes more time and energy to nab them. We did a rock scrounge this week, and the current steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up.

A steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up

Soil nerd alert! Soil nerd alert! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop! Observant readers will note that in the centre of the next photo (to the rear of Ollie) we excavated a small mound of some old soil and it was exceptionally rich, loamy and black looking. It was a real pleasure to see the results of many years of applications of mulches and composts.

Several large rocks await installation in the succulent terraced garden

Over the past month or so we’d dumped several large rocks near to the succulent terraced garden. This week we placed those rocks in position.

The terraced succulent garden is nearing completion

The soap which was mixed up last week has now been poured into various silicone molds. In the next photo you can see the newly poured out soaps on the left and the curing soaps on the right. When the soap turns white, it is ready to be used. This takes around two months.

Soap emulsion was poured into silicone trays (left), whilst soap cures on the right

Due to the cooler weather, the concrete slab for the bee hive box has slowly cured this week. I probably won’t move the bee hive onto the concrete slab until sometime next week.

The concrete slab for the bee hive has slowly cured this week

King Parrots have decided that they enjoy kiwifruit. I usually observe what fruit the birds are eating because that is indicative as to when the fruit is almost (but usually not quite yet) ripe. There are so many kiwifruit on the vines that we can afford to supply the King Parrots with plenty of feed.

A King Parrot (orange blob in centre of photo) dines upon kiwifruit
We have harvested a lot of kiwifruit, so I don’t begrudge the birds their share

The fern gully has responded well to the recent heavy feeding of composted woody mulch as supplied by the nice electricity company (I have very fond feelings towards the company).

The fern gully has responded well to the recent heavy feed of composted woody mulch

One of the local birds that lives on the farm has been pulling the bread wheat seedlings out of the ground and consuming the seeds. Every few days I replant the seedlings which still have root systems remaining on them. From one perspective, it is not much of a problem because the garden beds were originally over sown and crowded, and now the spacing between plants has improved.

Bread wheat seedlings were removed from the ground by birds and then replanted by me at better spacings

Onto the flowers:

A European Wasp harvesting nectar from this Salvia flower. The rotter!
A bizarrely early Echium flower
Mauve Rosemary
Pink Rosemary
Blue Rosemary

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 5’C (41’F). So far this year there has been 578.8mm (22.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 558.2mm (22.0 inches).

68 thoughts on “The taming of the Fluffy”

  1. @ Lew,

    I enjoyed the killer bunny pictures! Thanks for that. We survived the storm fine in Spokane. Winds, sideways rain, thunder, more rain. No damage that I heard about. Ritzville, meanwhile, had about a mile of downed power lines from the wind.


  2. Chris,

    Yes, the Vikings were businessmen first and foremost. For some the business was trade, for others the business was plunder, and many dabbled in both. And yes, pride is one of those deadly sins.

    I hadn’t thought of book knowledge that way, but I think you’re onto something. It is a good tool that can be abused and even overly relied upon. Seems to be another example in which balance, this time between common sense and book knowledge, is all important. Not a case of either-or, but a case of both.

    Mate, obviously your observations of the reality of snow impeding solar collection were wrong. Those observations didn’t match that person’s theory, which was clearly correct. Therefore, either your observations were incorrect, or else your system was faulty, or else you didn’t know how to observe and measure. 🙂 I ran into that once at the job, my abilities to basically measure a road width getting called into question because my measurements didn’t match the preconceived and erroneous plan. I told that particular person that I’d proceed to make his remaining 5 years before retirement miserable, and he’d never be able to pin a thing on me. I often heard him bellyaching to my Big Boss about the recent “lightning bolt from the blue” that was upsetting him and wondering why this stuff kept happening to him. He never figured it out. I never cracked a smile. At the office. 😉

    That Great Artesian Basin is HUGE. Wow.

    New purchases of wood could happen via Amazon, perhaps, or maybe some other online sources. One of the crat stores is open again, and they have a good supply. However, I have a very large supply of wood suitable for many types of projects, so don’t have to purchase or scrounge right now. I’ve recently completed my first attempt at using cottonwood bark. I’ve got a second piece I might start working with, but also have 2 other bolo tie designs I want to do. An in-law recently mentioned something he’d like, so that might be a good project combining pyrography and some carving. I already have the wood for all of these.

    We dodged some weather here. Friday got toasty, but the Saturday 35C faltered, as the day began with thick clouds. The temperature peaked at +30C eventually, then the series of thunderstorms rolled in. Rain, wind, thunder, sideways rain, etc. The thunder woke up the Princess about 4:00 a.m. We got at least another 20mm and a few days of cooler weather, which is a nice break.

    Aye, these times are complicated and I’ve no wish to get into a deep discussion here about the complicated nameless topic. Add in the rioting and looting in many places and it’s very interesting times indeed.

    I notice that the fluffy photos were mostly featuring Ollie. Knowing how you’re tuned into his previous caged existence, I’m guessing that you’re also spending extra time with him because he’s getting caged at times? Your approach of teaching and training via love rather than harsh discipline is how I preferred training dogs, also. As you’re mentioning, it also makes for some trying times and the need for some extra inspiration for ways to accomplish this. As you noted, at a certain point it does become a battle of wills. Best of luck to you.

    I enjoyed your summary of current conditions due to that which shall not be named. As we’ve discussed before, those of us who’ve struggled at some point in our lives appear to be better set up to adapt. Adaptation also takes some humility, as one must be willing to examine one’s presuppositions in order to adapt when conditions change. Where this ends up and what will be the strange changes that become “permanent” will be interesting to see.

    I put permanent in quotes because we will achieve a new case of unstable equilibrium. how stable it is will remain to be seen. This state between equilibria is, ummm, interesting.

    I’m so glad that you share with the birds. There’s always enough to go around, or, in the case of my philberts and walnuts, the squirrels can have them and the yard and land seem happier to have the squirrels here.

    More later…


  3. Yo, Chris – I wonder if Sidewinder was a gamer. Up all night, sitting at the computer. Or, maybe he had narcolepsy. 🙂 . I had a friend once, who dropped off promptly at 10PM. No matter where he was, or what he was doing. No fun, at all. The party was just getting started!

    Dogs (and children … I hear) do push the boundaries. H. could have been a great dramatic actress, right up there with Mary Pickford or Lillian Gish … were it not for her tail. Today, when it was time to pop her in the tub, she cowered in a corner. It was a great performance, if the wagging tail hadn’t given her away. When she wants something, she occasionally tries to play off Eleanor and I. Doesn’t work. I made the comment the other day that Eleanor and I are co-parenting.

    I read somewhere (or, maybe saw it in a movie) that the way to break a horse is to bite it in the ear. If nothing else, I suppose it would be distracting and take the beast’s mind off naughtiness. I’ll expect a report back on how that works with your hounds. 🙂 .

    As far as the current situation, we’re forging into new territory. About all us little folk can do is stay light on our feet and forage through.

    Wow. I knew you were anticipating the insurance, but that’s outrageous. You know, the day you cut those people loose, you will feel so … light. There may be other worries, but that won’t be one of them.

    Soil nerd, away. I’m a convert. Thanks to your good offices. Can we call it a cult? 🙂 . We have one other serious gardener, this year. A newbie. I’m working out in my head the “soil” conversation. But, I’ll also say, “listen to everyone, and then do what you want.’ I really do now believe that you get out, what you put in. I’m working up a bit of crap ground, that I’m going to plant something in. There’s some well rotted leaves left over, I found 1/3 bag of mushroom poop. I’ve got some alpaca poo. Eggshells. And, a light dusting of lime and stove ashes. They’re called trace elements for a reason. Mix it up real good, throw some plants in, and hope for the best.

    As to the soap, where do you store the stuff, for two months? Is dust a problem?

    That’s a smart new foundation, for the bees. I’m sure they’ll appreciate it. I’m always envious of your exotic birds. I suppose a few kiwi, now and again, is a small price to pay.

    What are the posts in the fern gully? I don’t think I’ve notice them, before.

    The salvia and Echium sure our knock outs, color wise. What intense colors. The rosemary is quit pretty. I’ll take three, in blue, please. 🙂 . Lew

  4. Hi DJ,

    Makes sense, and sometimes business men (including Vikings) have to be backed up by some potent err, threatology. You may not have heard of that particular science, but it involves the Holy book of armaments which the Monty Python gang alluded to in the killer rabbit scene. Best we are all not involved in such nonsense.

    Pride is a funny thing, and the question becomes does it rule the person held in its thrall? I do wonder about that because it is possible to have pride in a job well done, without making a big song and dance about it. Hmm, not sure and was wondering if you could share insights into that? It is possible that the original meaning of the word was entirely different than how we understand it to be today.

    It is a tough way to consider knowledge, and I have known some smart folks over the years (far smarter than myself) and they relied heavily on their book knowledge. Implementation of that knowledge is an entirely different matter, and you may note that I often subtly resist urges from other folks to delve into various different paths of knowledge. Limits are real things. All tools can be abused, and as a society we are in that story up to our eye balls.

    Oh you’re good and clearly an adherent of the Sun Tzu maxim of: ‘do the unexpected’. It is a popular technique to question the exactitude of the measurement as a means to discredit the narrative. To be candid with you, the technique works and results in a whole lot of talk, and as someone long ago once quipped: Talk does not cook the rice. 😉

    Oh yeah, that aquifer is bonkers huge. Interestingly, the salt content is sometimes higher in some places than others in the basin. And there are sound theories that the salt arrived not via an inland sea as was once thought, but by the accumulated action of the rain over a stupendous length of time.

    You are teasing me. 🙂 So how did your first go at using cottonwood go? Looking at the images, it is hard to shake the impression that the wood speaks to the craftsman. Hey what is meant by a ‘bolo tie designs’?

    How nice is the relief of a good summer thunderstorm? I have a childhood memory of experiencing one of those when I was at the local community swimming pool. The day just turned and it was impressive to witness the might of nature.

    Very wise. The road may be rough ahead, but I reckon your countrymen are strong enough to travel it.

    Oh my! Well there goes my secret Bull Arab training methods. I used the same methods with the various work teams that I’ve had to lead over the years. Thanks, if it means anything to you I prefer not to test my will against his, because there is a cost to both of us.

    Well I feel that some of the recent changes will become permanent, and I have no problem with that. What is not sustainable – and I use that word in the ecological and energy sense of its meaning – generally isn’t sustained. And absolutely new equilibrium’s are all part of that journey. It surprises me not that ecology is one of the more unfashionable and under-funded sciences – the news from that lot does not make for polite hearing in other quarters.

    Yup, land is happier when there is vast diversity all battling it out for supremacy, but none achieving it.



  5. Hello Chris
    Lew beat me to it. I was going to suggest that Sidewinder should have been checked for narcolepsy.
    Good luck with training those dogs. Son has to keep Flyn and Woodie permanently caged except when on a lead as both will now head straight for sheep. Tess and Ren can be out but only singly. Son says that it has removed some of his pleasure in his dogs.
    Still hot and very dry. This is causing spinach to run to seed almost as fast as it surfaces.


  6. Hi Lewis,

    Oh yeah, you’d imagine that commercial editors might occasionally imagine that their job is akin to training lions? My experience was much like yours, and even sentence structure became a subject that was not open to debate. So much pain, and you may have said something before about the road to perdition beginning with good intentions. I’ve been caught out from time to time when something good turns horribly wrong – of course I’m complicit in such outcomes, although best intentions and all that… Hey, Shish kebab is a delightful meal and a high compliment. 😉 Incidentally, have you ever enjoyed the Japanese meal of Yakitori Chicken? What a taste sensation – and sort of an Asian version of the Shish kebab.

    Out of curiosity, if the library had already purchased the book, does that imply that the book was of a certain minimum standard? Curious minds would be interested in that story. 🙂

    It isn’t just reporters that seem unable to make appointments. I’ve had friends complain about my personal lack of spontaneity, but how does a person achieve things and be spontaneous? Definitely mutually exclusive. Hey, I reckon you were right in being prickly. You might get a laugh out of this, but the reporter wanted to ask specifically about choosing not to have kids – and all my warning bells were going off. Run to the hills!

    Hmm, there is much in what you say about a portable saw mill.

    Yeah, the mid century aesthetic doesn’t gel with me either, but when it is done well, the stuff seems to last. Although I have an admiration for the Victorian era constructions and aesthetics, perhaps because it is more solid and involves less glues. But for some reason which I can’t define, I feel that mid century houses are mildly jarring on my senses. Dunno, but wasn’t the mid century stuff meant to be accessible to the masses? Wasn’t that the main purpose of it all?

    Break glass in case of fire! Hehe! 🙂 Too true. Swearing is a tool like any other after all. Hehe! Funny stuff and got me chuckling too. Interestingly I encountered a swear bear the other day, and he didn’t have the social credits to act so, so like you I subtly made fun of him. I wish it were not so, but I was uncomfortable and decided on an impulse to act so.

    Makes you wonder doesn’t it? The killer rabbit looked mighty effective. 🙂 Surely the Holy book of armaments said something about tackling dragons?

    There is a school of thought which suggests that where there is one, there may be more. An interesting conjecture about Button Man, but it rings true. I guess for such a person who sits outside the norm and is independent of that behemoth, what is in it for him to divulge what he knows?

    Happy bath and trim day H! 🙂

    Actually that was the purported theory about Sidewinder, so you called that one correctly. The business was genuinely concerned that he did suffer from narcolepsy, and so they sent him off to doctors for assessment. What amazes me about big corporates is that they provided such safety nets for people pushing the boundaries of what is considered normal behaviour. But given disclosures and all that stuff I never really discovered the truth of it all. My preferred response to the situation is a man to man chat, but when in Rome…

    10pm to bed is far too early for a night owl. Your mate would have made a very dodgy vampire! 🙂

    Both are great actors, you can see their ability to express emotions from the many still images. Wow, and Mary Pickford was a very smart lady.

    Oh yeah, dogs are smart as and they know such tricks. The dogs here all try to play the editor and I off against each other. Actually they act as if I am the softie, which is unexpected. The editor and I are of one mind and a consistent approach when it comes to this canine drama. Will keep you up to date on the latest. If it was a news article, they’d rather oddly suggest in the title that: Here’s what you need to know – as if they are the font of all knowledge and wisdom implying that no further questions need be necessary. Incidentally I’m noting that the news from afar has been reduced of late. Our news used to be better than that.

    Yup, the smell of change is in the very air itself – and the current smell stinks. But we shall see. I always tend to keep in mind that the gurbarmint has the monopoly on folks trained to violence, and that may be the least worst possibility. One of my favourite films is Love Actually from 2003. It is a beautiful film. In one scene the actor Hugh Grant is playing the British Prime Minister and he amusingly quips that: “Trained Killers are but only a phone call away. Lovely chaps.”

    I’d like to think so and am feeling the power. I’ve heard that it is a thing for cult leaders to gift their bathwater… 🙂 Oh your advice is great. Like it (am noting it down for future reference). Ah, I had not known the definition of the words: trace elements. Interesting, and also true. Liebig’s law or the law of the minimum speaks to that, and minute does not mean able to live without.

    Hadn’t noticed that dust is a problem. The soap washes off by its very nature. The soap is sitting behind me on the top of some filing cabinets happily curing away.

    The bees seem very prickly, although it has been a few years since they’ve taken any notice of me. This may be a good thing though as their sting hurts. It was you who alerted me to the Corvidae and Parrots being the smartest of the smart birds – and they sure keep me sharp. I feel that the magpies and I have come to a neat arrangement, but the parrots are an entirely different matter.

    Ah, it is hard to see in the photograph of the fern gully but the posts are holding up heavy duty chicken wire cages protecting the many Blackwoods and Oaks growing in the gully. Without the cages, the wallabies would eat the trees.

    Actually I’m unsure what to make of the flowers as they are early. Off the mountain I have seen orchards at lower altitudes leafing out, and the other day I also noticed daffodils in a nearby town. My head is spinning – but it is most certainly winter here today. By 3pm it was very dark and ominous looking and despite sheltering under an umbrella I could feel the rain blowing onto my face.



  7. Hi Inge,

    Ah yes, the narcolepsy was a concern and so the young bloke was sent off to the doctors, although the outcome was not divulged to me. I was concerned about his behaviour, and it all came to a head when he fell asleep in front of the CEO. Oh yeah, that got a reaction for sure.

    Naughty Flyn, and I dare not suggest that the name may have given the hapless canine an ego?

    I feel for your son, and the Tess and Ren story was similar to the Toothy and Sir Poopy story. They could not be allowed out together either. And what was really annoying about the two dogs was that they didn’t like each other – and yet that was not enough to get them to desist heading off on adventures.

    I’d be interested to learn from your son whether Tess and Ren are friends – as distinct from pack?

    My error with Sir Poopy was leaving him in the house when Toothy was outside. He was such a mostly lazy dog and the arrangements were too much too his liking. I’ve modified that part of the story as it was an error on my part. I’ll test them all in another week or so and find out what happens.

    If they need to be separated permanently then so be it. The loss is theirs and I won’t care for their whining.

    Oh wow, running to seed is a serious problem down here during summer. Over the years I have had to select for very drought and heat hardy varieties – it can be done, it just takes many years of selection.

    Gardening from what I hear from elsewhere, has become quite the activity in your part of the world.



  8. Hello again
    Gardening does indeed seem to have become a sudden activity here along with cooking. Most annoying as certain things that we were accustomed to buying are no longer in the shops.
    Tess is Ren’s mother. I’ll ask Son about friendship but am not sure as Ren is definitely a loner.


  9. Chris,

    I had intended on an additional post yesterday but events intervened. So I’ll add that the birds are helping your wheat experiment by thinning the wheat for you. Which is a way of trying to put a positive spin on the birds’ actions of eating your wheat seeds. I had similar issues 20 years ago with birds eating all the grass seeds I’d put in thin grassy areas.

    I also appreciated the salvia photo. And the 3 different rosemary photos.

    The events that cropped up? The Princess turned on the local news on tv and we found that our local peaceful protest turned into looting and minor rioting, all in the downtown area. We’ll see what happens moving forward…

    Well, ya know, there are different forms of protection and advanced weaponry. MP and the Holy Grail mentioned one. Then there’s always, “Holy hand grenade, Batman!”. Another is, “Holy 4th of July weinie roast! What the heck is going on here?!?”

    Taking pride in a job well done is good. Overly bragging about it, maybe not so much. Having a decent view of oneself, not demeaning oneself to the point that one is a cosmic doormat, is necessary. Letting that grow to the point of looking down on others because “I’m better than you” becomes a problem.

    Apparently the word “pride” came from Latin, then into French and was taken to England with the Norman Conquest. It then entered late Old English. It seems that it was used by English peasants to refer in a derogatory fashion to the French horsed knights who looked down on the peasantry. I imagine it went like “Oi! That proud French bleep on that bleeping horse needs to go back and leave us alone!” (“Get off your high horse” probably came from this idea, also.) And yes, originally, the word likely meant a healthy dollop of feeling good about the job one performed properly, etc.

    Hehe! Yes, doing the unexpected is a good thing sometimes. Sun Tzu has many good lessons.

    Interesting…rain action leading to salty areas in the aquifer? Interesting. I had to skim a couple articles to get the gist of the theory, then remembered that Albuquerque, New Mexico, has been building desalinization facilities because their aquifer ahs been contaminated with salts that are a byproduct of improper overuse of agricultural fertilizers.

    The Princess really liked my first go at cottonwood bark. It’s very soft. It also lends itself to a good layout of designs that have a lot of detail. It’s also extremely hard to find.

    Okay, bolo ties. AKA String ties. Take a look here:
    So, the thingy that the strings run through, the thingy the silversmiths make, that can be carved in wood. The designs I’ve got were precut from basswood into roughly shaped “blanks”, which I then shape and carve and whatnot to make them finished, like adding texture, or using some techniques so that a bald eagle head has feathers. I’ve recently carved 3 bald eagle heads and have 2 bull heads to do. Some painting or lacquer finish needs to be added. Then attach a guide for the strings onto the back, insert strings and voila! it’s a bolo or string tie.

    Agreed, there are very few things that can compare with the relief a good thunderstorm brings. Although Cheyenne dog was scared of them, but calmed down if I kept a hand touching her. Thordog didn’t care, Rakhi the Samoyed wanted to stay in the yard and run around barking at each lightning flash. I kept waiting for a lightning bolt to hit her in the backside, but that never happened.

    Oh, current situations are sorta like a hailstorm or any violent storm. There’s destruction, and then something new comes out of it. It’s one of those cyclical things, say yin and yang. It’s just not always comfortable to work through it. But what choice is there? Wingeing about it does no good. The Princess and I were discussing this last night and said in unison “Accept it, adapt and carry on.”

    It was never pleasant testing my will against that of Thordog or Rakhi. Cheyenne was nearly always easy and pleasant. Thor had issues, which later led to his demise – an Irish Wolfhound problem can be a bone spur growing into the brain and causing behavioral and perhaps violence problems. And Rakhi could be quite strong-willed. The loving approach went a long way with that.


  10. Hi Chris,

    It wasn’t until we got the pair Salve and Leo that we could let two dogs out to their own devices without them taking off on an adventure. Subsequently we had to either leave one in the house or restricted in some manner. I swear some of our dogs when accidentally left out together would take a look at each other as if to say “let’s go!” and off they’d run sometimes gone for a few hours. I didn’t worry that they would hurt other livestock but there is the understanding that a farmer can shoot a dog on their property. So for once we don’t have that worry. Of course with Leo’s advancing age of 13 and Salve now in middle age there’s just a lot of lying around in the sun.

    In other disturbing news all my family who is either living in or just outside of Chicago has experienced some of the looting and violence in their neighborhoods. My aunt who has been sequestered in her 20th floor condo was the worst as she’s just off Michigan Ave., a ritzy tourist shopping and dining area. She watched the protest start peacefully for quite some time until Saturday evening when things got very violent with many stores severely damaged, fires set and gunshots. She said she saw trailers of people being brought in as well indicating that this was all planned. My sister and youngest daughter who do not live downtown have had looting in their neighborhoods. My daughter lives in a neighborhood where many police live and there was word that the homes of police were going to be targeted. Luckily that didn’t happen but the rumors continue to fly. My oldest daughter lives in a close in suburb and there was a great deal of police presence from other suburbs. Chicago has a curfew for now and downtown is closed off. Looting and violence is also taking place in other smaller cities in Illinois including Rockford not too far west of us. All pretty worrisome to say the least.

    Chicago was to start opening up more on Wednesday but who knows if that’ll happen. Many restaurants had set up outdoor areas in anticipation of opening but in some areas those places also took heavy damage.

    Hoping the next time I’m in things will have settled down some but I’m afraid it’s just going to be a difficult summer if you live in a big city particularly.


  11. Yo, Chris – I don’t thinkI’ve ever had Yakitori chicken. I don’t get out much, you know. 🙂 .

    Book selection. Art or science? A rather arcane business. There are many reasons why a library might order a book. Customer demand. An author with a proven track record. There are several periodicals that review books. The librarian “selectors” know which ones have reviews that can be trusted. Maybe someone notices that the library doesn’t have any books on a particular subject … or, that the books on that subject were all published before 1930. When I first started working for B. Dalton Bookseller, they encouraged their managers to do a certain amount of ordering, in able to “tailor” our stores selection to our local population. It was great fun. So, basically, I’d LISTEN to what was requested, and kept a running list.

    Which Victorian era aesthetic 🙂 . I’m teasing. Victoria’s reign was VERY long, and a lot of furniture (most in the 19th century) is called Victorian, as a catch all phrase. But, there were styles. That came and went. This gives you a small idea.

    Note the picture of the Eastlake sofa, at the bottom of the page. “Eastlake”, was another style. I’ve never cared for it. A bit too square and box, for me. Also, it was one of the first large factory made styles. There were also smaller styles, sprinkled in. There was a rage for paper-mache furniture. German Black Forest furniture (carved with lots of bears). Wicker. Etc. etc..

    I get a picture of Sidewinder, and speculate he had a name something like “Trevor.” 🙂 . Or, maybe Chad. I know discretion makes it unable to reveal his name, but you get the idea.

    Re: Soil cult. Well, I sat at the feet of the master, Master. 🙂 .

    Did I miss International Parrot Day? For some reason, there’s been a lot of parrots popping up on Roman archaeology sites. I did a bit of poking about. Yup. The Romans imported them from India.

    I just did two falls out of three with some chicken wire, last night. Like wrestling alligators. I needed to provide some support for the sprouting green beans. And I began to wonder … I wonder if peas and beans can somehow sense when there is nearby support for them to climb? With all we’ve been reading, and seeing in documentaries about all the stuff going on with plants, that we were unaware of, I was just wondering. I mentioned my speculation to Susanne Who Always Has A Better Idea, and she looked at me like I was nuts.

    Our weather was pretty calm here, but I guess north of us, people lost power. There was quit a bit of thunderstorm activity, but it was all out in the eastern part of our county. Ladies on the north-east side of the building, said they heard it. I didn’t.

    I headed for Centralia Square, this morning. They rode out the closure, pretty well, but did get an SBA (Small Business Administration) loan. I found three pieces of Fenton, blue satin glass, very reasonable, all from the same dealer. I also bought a small portrait miniature, of a young man. Louis XVII? Painted on ivory? Is that a tortoise shell frame? Or, Bakelite plastic? Which is also collectible. And, I found a mystery, cobalt blue glass bowl with handles. Pretty sure it’s 1930s. Might be Fostoria Glass. Hope I don’t discover it has candlesticks to match. Won’t sleep at night, til I find them. 🙂 . In total, I spent about $50. Not bad, for 5 pieces.

    Then I stopped at the Visiting Nurses op-shop, across the street. Came up empty.

    Stopped by the Club, on my way home. Had a cuppa and a bit of conversation. Everyone is still agog over Twitchy’s sudden demise. Lew

  12. Hi Inge,

    Yes, that has been somewhat of a problem for me too and there have been all manner of runs on bulk produce which few people previously purchased. Flour in particular appears to have been scooped up, although I do really wonder whether people actually know how to use the raw materials. That question is anyone’s guess really. However there are signs that things are returning to their more usual state of affairs. Certainly the runs on supermarket stock appears to have come to naught – down here at least. I wrote a nice thank you letter to my long term bakery supplier and they added it with my email address to their customer testimonials. Oh well.

    And this morning I was finally able to enjoy a coffee served in proper ceramic ware as some restrictions appear to have been lifted. And there was much happiness in the land.

    As to gardening, I have a few seeds on my wish list and will nab them shortly before any further ructions take place. Are you hearing about runs on seedlings and seeds? People think that this stuff is easy as, but it most certainly is not.

    Thank you and I shall await your reply. I’ve noticed with dogs over the years that they have very similar social arrangements to humans and two dogs can work together, but they don’t necessarily like each other.



  13. Hi Margaret,

    I can’t work out that canine code either, but some combinations are a difficult mix. But yes, Leo and Salve appear to have reached the sweet spot of house dogs (as in hanging around the property and not wandering off). Toothy and Sir Poopy proved to me that opportunity was on their minds 24/7 – 365 days per year. What was really weird about that was that the two dogs did not like each other at all, and yet they’d head off on an adventure together. On one notable occasion Sir Poopy returned from the errant adventure in the late afternoon. The hapless Toothy was nowhere to be seen, and by nightfall had not returned. In the wee early hours of the night, Toothy returned. It was an absolute mystery and it is possible that he’d been bailed up by a wombat in a wombat hole and was only able to make his escape once the wombat departed for the night.

    Ain’t that the truth and the way of things. The dogs just don’t understand the risk that they take on board and fun can rapidly turn into terror for them. My mates of the big shed fame lost one of their dogs late last year to a snake bite.

    It would be preferable if the recalcitrant beasts decided to enjoy some time sitting out in the sun instead… Leo and Slave set an enviable example.

    Sir Scruffy once headed off on an adventure with Toothy. When he came home we remonstrated with Sir Scruffy and he wisely chose to avoid Toothy in future. In fact the enmity was palpable. Sir Scruffy was without doubt the most intelligent dog that I have yet known – and he knew that Toothy had stitched him up.

    The news down here reported that there was one person dead in Chicago, so best not to be on the streets. Oh, I can no longer find the article. It is worth noting that looting and violence is hardly an ideological protest, but it does get noticed that’s for sure. Yes, it is a worry. I’d have to guess that your local concerns have gained international funding…

    It is worthwhile noting though that the state has quite effective means of dealing with violence, although it is not pretty. The main problem with confronting the apparatus in such a fashion is that the results only last for a short period of time.

    Hey, I had my first coffee served in a ceramic mug today, and it was a thing of beauty.

    That’s possible about the summer, but then it is only early days. On the other hand, there might be more weirdness to come. The civil disturbance however will shortly come to an end and I have no doubts about that. Sorry to appear unfazed by it all, but I once lived through the Black Saturday bushfires and a whole bunch of people died, and afterwards things went back to where they were, although it added on another layer of complexity.

    Dunno about you, but I’m considering extending the varieties of plants grown for next summer and I’ve been intrigued for a while now about peanuts. Have you ever grown them?



  14. @ Margaret
    Quite sure that a pair of dogs will look at each other and say ‘let’s go’. Farmers here, can also shoot dogs and one farmer warned Son about this. Son just said ‘be my guest’ as he considered that the farmer had a perfect right to do this.
    Living in an American city sounds really worrying at present.


    Hello Chris
    I asked Son about the potential dog friendship and he said ‘No’. Son’s real problem is that he has 3 uncastrated males which would not be natural in the wild as other males would be chucked out when they reached adulthood.


  15. Hi DJ,

    How naughty were the birds? But then it ended with something of a silver lining as the garden beds are now less crowded. Mate, I would have been far less troubled by the birds eating grass seeds but then life rarely works out like you’d expect.

    Can you grow Salvia species in your area? I add sage to all manner of foodstuffs. As a leaf it is quite a strong taste, but when combined with other herbs it blends into the background nicely. It is a sensible medicinal herb to have ready to hand too.

    Yeah well, I linked to an article in an additional reply to Margaret about the Minneapolis police response to an Australian woman. The results were sort of similar… I’d recommend reducing exposure to the news and keep an even keel when dealing with what might be trigger happy folks. Apparently the article said something about departments reputation being tarnished. I’m sure. The article also mentions that the death toll is about 1,000 people a year from that particular cause. That’s almost three per day.

    Hehe! The sayings on that old Batman show were very amusing. Far out, someone set up a wikiquote page. So very, very wrong! And lots of laughs. They were quite pithy.

    Thank you for your perspective on the matter of pride. You’ve given me much to dwell upon. Bragging is a very dull thing to be subjected too. And I do believe you have reached the middle ground there.

    The Norman’s were quite successful at their endeavours, but were always too few and possibly were subsumed. I do like your explanation as to ‘getting off one’s high horse’ so true and obvious. Thanks to Monty Python we can also determine who would be the peasants and who would be the nobility: It all comes down to poop.

    The Art of War was quite an eye opener for me, and it confirmed many things that were only ever at the edges of my consciousness.

    The gist of the theory is that over a long enough period of time, even tiny amounts of salt arriving with the rains will build up salt in the country and artesian basin. Interestingly the Indigenous folks constructed wells to allow access to the water. The history of those wells and the European encounters with the indigenous folks is frankly not good. Water was a scarce resource and heavily fought over.

    How did you end up obtaining the cottonwood bark? I sense a story there.

    I have seen those bolo and/or string ties worn, but only in the movies. Interesting. I wonder how such a thing got started.

    Cheyenne was a sensible dog to be scared of thunderstorms, and I do wonder if she could predict them in advance of their arrival? Dogs are sensitive to changes in air pressure. You’d imagine that with a name like Thordog, he’d be right into a good and proper thunderstorm? Well, Rahki, matey, the results are in my canine friend and they’re not good. Sorry.

    There is no choice, and you just have to live through the times. I’m pretty certain the alternatives are far less pleasant. 😉

    I hadn’t known that about Irish wolfhounds, and a local lady owns one that I see from time to time. It is a big dog that one, although Ollie is slightly smaller but a more powerful dog. What was the dogs’ temperament prior to the bone – brain problem?

    Some dogs have their own opinions and concerns, and the loving approach sort of brings other concerns into that mix and ends up with a closer alignment of interests. Rahki clearly was a complicated beast.



  16. Hi Lewis,

    Tis a shame. A damn shame. And I recommend that the next time you encounter a Japanese restaurant that you run the test – and then you’ll know for sure. Actually it is rather difficult to get out and about right now for food, although I can report that I enjoyed my first coffee in a ceramic mug today. All very civilised and there were smiles of happiness all around.

    Oh really? Interesting. I was discussing the matter of marketing novels with my mate who has just penned a novel, and I had wondered about the aspect of momentum. I suggested that this was something to aim for as a goal in itself – because if established authors attract more attention then it seems like a good idea (proven track record). Blogging is a bit like that too. 🙂

    Interesting, as I had not known that reviews were still referred to in such book purchasing circles. There are a lot of online reviews for books and it is very difficult as a lay person to know which are marketing vehicles. Hmm. I wrote a review for my mates book (I had actually read it and enjoyed it) and the editor and I ended up having quite a long discussion about the review before posting it and and how to make it sound genuine. I don’t believe that is that easy a thing to do, although I can spot fake comments here easy as. You would think that the robots would be more sophisticated than they actually are? Another mate once told me that he thought the various scam emails contained such poor grammar that it was an invite for people who thought that they were smarter than the scammers. Some guerrilla marketing is very sophisticated though and hard to spot.

    Do they still have compendiums of short stories and samples of novels these days?

    Did you just say that you listened to people? Wow, well I never! Who’d imagine that such a strategy would ever see the light of day? Mind you, it works. Hehe! Respect. Dunno about your perspective on the matter, but I have noticed that many people have difficulty with comprehending and making sense out other peoples words. I suspect that the education system leaves much to be desired. Words are magic, and if one cannot spell…

    Oh sorry, such Victorian era furniture was not what I was referring too. To be honest those pieces remind me of French regency style which is a little jarring on my senses – it produces very fussy furniture. I was thinking predominantly of the late Victorian style as I’ve repaired a number of those older houses and you can’t but help admire a building that was a century old and still going strong. Of course they were not entirely free of problems, but they were pretty good and I liked the high ceilings.

    Interestingly during the middle of last century the buildings were often modified by lowering the ceiling height a few feet. It was an odd change, but then most new houses constructed these days have lower ceiling heights which I find strangely oppressive. Not a fan, but then going too far in the other direction seems a bit odd too – like how are the light globes meant to be changed when the ceiling is twenty foot and looks like a soaring atrium?

    The fabric coverings of the Eastlake sofa furniture is a bit too fussy for my tastes too. Imagine if the dog vomited on such fabric – hang on that might have happened in that particular image! 😉 Just kidding. Floral patterns were very much the thing when I was a kid, and I can’t say that I’m a fan. Incidentally, I have been noting that there are trends towards older styles reminiscent of ones youth. The woollen jumper that dare not leave the property has become more thread bare of late. Plum and Ruby have this trick where they sneak up behind me and then jump up and hang off the jumper. I guess that is why the clothing item is called a jumper? No. Oh well, they are pulling out stitches like there is no tomorrow. And I am really working on training them out of that habit – but it only take a few successful snaps for all manner of damage to occur. Oh yeah, anyway chunky knit cable jumpers are on the up apparently and so supply is limited and prices are high. Still the jump dare not leave the property. The editor would have my hide for that. What do you reckon is going on is it a call to nostalgia?

    Nice guesses, but the naughty children were always called Kevin. Met a few of those in my time – and we used to even have a Prime Minister by that name. Very popular by all accounts, but deposed all the same. Like the Chad bit. Very funny.

    Ah yes, something, something unintelligible and mumbling about adding poop to the soil. A solid addition to the soil too. It would make an amusing book too: A beginners guide to poop and all its uses in the garden. 🙂

    What do you mean by two falls out of three? I have not heard that particular saying before. To my mind it sounds as if you fell over twice but were hoping to do it three times. 😉 It is possible that the climbing vines know what they are doing. It is also an attempt to reach additional sunlight and perhaps the extra energy is an accelerating thing for plant growth? In a bizarre side story I was reading about really huge trees the other day and apparently there are engineering difficulties for trees beyond a certain height in that they have troubles pumping water beyond a certain height.

    The photos on the good Professors blog of the thick clouds were really impressive.

    Thought you might enjoy this story (a hermit story): Warwick Thornton’s The Beach documentary delves into healing, country and cooking.

    Nice scores. And was the item Fostoria Glass? It looks like good quality glassware, and such items are seen down here too. Liked the blue frosting in particular – it was very good and nice and subtle.

    Yup, things can change suddenly and without warning, that’s for sure. Does the Club do a remberance of the recently departed members?



  17. Yo, Chris – You know, in hindsight you could have got one of those reusable hot cups, and avoided the dreaded disposables. There’s usually quit a few kicking around the op-shops. It’s not unusual for people to come in The Club, and we fill them and charge accordingly. When I was working in cafes, it was not unusual for someone to come in with a thermos, to be filled. But, I’m happy you can go back to chipping our teeth on the ceramic rims :-).

    Since the demise of magazines, the short story market has really shrunk. But, there are still a few outlets. “Into the Ruins” was one such. Mr. Greer’s collections that come out, once in while. I think Inge mentioned that her father played some part in a series that ran for years. “Best American Short Stories of (whatever year). I think there was a British version. There was also best plays of …. There’s a thing that comes out yearly called “The Writer’s Market.” It’s been around for years. The same company also publishes (I think) a short story market, and a children’s book market. Our public libraries, here, used to purchase the yearly updates. Maybe it’s all gone on-line, now. There are books on self-publishing, and how to market your book. Social media plays a big part, these days. Or, blogs 🙂 .

    I think the Reader’s Digest magazine is still cranking out monthly, “Condensed Novels.” They even do a large print edition for us old duffers.

    I think part of the problem with comprehending and making sense of other people’s words, is that people tend to not listen, then formulate a response. They are more likely to be busy constructing a response in their heads, from what little they are paying attention to. It’s also a scientifically proven fact 🙂 that some people take in information more readily through sight. Others, through sound.

    Yup. Some furniture is over the top fussy. But, even so, the old stuff can be very well constructed. I tend to like a more stripped down look. But I do like the Empire style. My favorite piece of furniture is my Empire style dresser. But, it’s a very restrained, vernacular kind of Empire. I do like the Gothic style. Just because it’s so … well, Gothic. Reminds me of spooky old castles, etc.. There was a furniture style / company in the mid-Victorian era called “Belter.” They used mostly rose wood, and tortured furniture into fantastic shapes. I stand in awe of the materials and technology. But I don’t think I’d want any of it.

    Yup. Ceiling heights can be too low and oppressive. Somewhere along the way, someone decided that 8′ was a good standard height. A lot of construction material revolves around that 8′ standard. 8′ wall studs, 8′ dry wall. Higher ceiling are good in summer, when heat rises, and it’s cooler near the floor. Not so good in winter, when heat rises and you freeze to death near the floor. You find places with high ceilings that have had “drop ceiling” installed. Usually, not very visually appealing, but, thrifty as far as heat retention goes.

    Usually, I can find a good jumper at an op-shop. As your heading into winter, they may have all been snapped up, by now. But it’s worth keeping an eye out.

    Two falls out of three. It comes from games of chance or competitions. Think of flipping coins. Two “heads” beats one “tails.” Two falls out of three comes from wrestling competitions. Whoever pins their opponent, twice, wins.

    Vines DO sense supports. It’s called thigmotropism. Who knew? If the tendrils sense a support, they suddenly start producing more tendrils on that side of the plant. A similar function is involved in vining. There’s a Wikipedia entry.

    I noticed DJ and you were talking about aquifers. Check out the Ogallala Aquifer. It covers most of the central United States. But, it’s in decline. Too much irrigation.

    “The Beach” looks like a wonderful series. Doesn’t seem to be on DVD, yet. But if it does, I’ll request our library buy a copy. If they won’t, I’ll try an Interlibrary Loan. I wonder how many people just won’t understand the film, at all. “Why would he do that?” To get away from people who ask, “why?” 🙂 .

    Yes, the Club usually does a memorial service for people who have passed on. Or, it provides a “spread the word” function. Maybe, space. Though in the summer, memorials tend to be outside, at parks and such. Usually, it’s friends of the departed who pull it together. Twitchy’s memorial will probably be very small. We also have a wall of framed memorial certificates (?). There are a few pictures, of folks who have gone above and beyond, as far as Club Service goes. Lew

  18. Hi Chris,
    Yes, this too shall pass. I well remember the 1968 riots during the Democratic Convention and those after MLK was killed. Looting still going on in different places. Chicago will “open up” tomorrow on schedule as I’m sure the mayor realizes that not doing so will only make the situation worse.

    Congrats for coffee in a mug. I don’t think that’ll be happening here for awhile.

    No never tried peanuts. I don’t think our growing season is long enough. Yesterday it was in the low 60’s for much of the day and today will hit 94.


  19. @ Marg,

    Your aunt’s experience in Chicago matches what has been found in Spokane, Seattle and other places: the locals were mostly peacefully demonstrating whereas the rioters were mostly from out of town and came to incite. In some locations the outsiders doing the inciting were Caucasians.

    Hope your family stays safe.


  20. Chris,

    Yup, feeding the birds grass seed, although not intentional, was a lot better than having them eat my food supply. On the second reseeding attempt, I placed a thin layer of dirt over the seeds to hide them. The birds enjoyed that batch too.

    I currently grow 2 varieties of sage and plan on planting seeds of a third variety once I’ve created room for them. Sage grows well here. 30 km west and there’s a LOT of sagebrush in the desert. I keep dried sage in the spice rack and use it in many things. Wonderful stuff.

    I read the link you mentioned. I remember that case. It was soooo bizarre, even for USA shootings and police shooting civilian standards. The fact that Noor was found guilty is nothing short of amazing. Doesn’t happen. A young man, Otto Zehm, was killed by Spokane police in similar fashion to the latest Minneapolis police victim. No murder, but Federal charges held. Nothing happened to the 2 girls who gave the false police report that started it.

    I keep the news reading/viewing to a minimal level – enough to have an idea what’s going on. When it hits locally, I need to know so we can avoid the areas where we know that, say, protesting is occurring or that something else may break loose. Again, it’s using some smarts and adapting. Some people who’ve been rousted by police weren’t demonstrating or looting but used bad judgement in being in the wrong place.

    I found a few pages of Batman quotes. Some were actually hilarious. And it’s easy to manufacture the style.

    Glad I could help with the pride thing. The free exchange of thoughts and practical things is wonderful here. Getting to that to that middle ground takes work, and it takes work to hopefully stay there. Thanks for the compliment…

    Monty Python had a lot of nice observations, right? And the fact that the peasants dealt with the poop? Well, the nobility lived in castles AT THE HIGH POINT and poop rolls downhill, and well, you can figure out the rest about who lived downhill.

    I need to read Art of War again. It’s been decades since I read it. So, I just downloaded a copy to the hard drive. You’ve mentioned it several times here and at Mr. Greer’s forums for some time. Thanks for the reminders about that gem.

    Man, how many feuds and wars have been fought over grazing rights, hunting rights, salt and water?

    Alas, the story of the cottonwood bark is nice but nothing epic in a long story sense. One of the other members of the carving club found a huge chunk of cottonwood, mostly bark in the road, so she picked it up. Most members of the club (here’s the epic profound part) are very generous with their time and materials, so my friend showed up at one meeting with a bunch of photos for potential bark projects, the bark broken into appropriately sized chunks, and GAVE THEM AWAY. I scored two chunks and she still went home with a goodly supply.

    Oh no. You asked another question on obscure history: bolo ties. I’ve got several: one has a JFK half dollar as the decorative slide. Another has a nice sterling silver wolf head. The others are beaded and gifts from the Princess’s uncle from the Yakama tribe. Where, when and how they originated is open for debate. There’s always the standard Wikipedia article:
    Or this from a tourist place in what is now a tourist trap town, Sedona, Arizona, in a beautiful area, Red Rock Country near gorgeous Oak Creek Canyon.
    My favorite is this article, which gets into the theories in the 2nd half of the article.
    Dang, I’m too full of links today.

    Cheyenne would get a bit out of sorts an hour or so before a good thunderstorm hit. Dad’s old dog, Cindy, the one I grew up with, she could sense one coming for hours and would do the typical collie/sheltie thing: totally go ape-poop bananas and stark raving terrorized until an hour after the storm left. Cheyenne would just need to have my hand on her. Rakhi would be loping around the yard extra aggressively before the storm hit, barking extra loud at any birds or airplanes flying overhead. (Probably a good thing that we didn’t have any anti-aircraft weapons or the dog would’ve used them and shot down several Air Force planes!) Thunderstorms just seemed to be a good way for her to get rid of some aggressions by barking at the lightning.

    Poor Thordog. We got him from the animal shelter when he was 3. It didn’t matter how much running and hard playing we did, every June through August he HAD to get out of the yard and escape and run. Frantic and self destructiveness trying to get out, too. I think there may have always been something off about him. Eventually, those episodes began in early March, and he began getting a bit surly, too. Although he famously liked people and especially children, due to his very size and strength, it appeared that he might become dangerous. We tried tranquilizers and various other things from the vet, to no avail. So we had to put him down. It was very sad.

    It took awhile for Thor and me to get things sorted out: basic rules and who was boss. The 98% of the time that he wasn’t suffering from whatever it was made him insane, he was a wonderful dog. A friend, a deep sea fisherman, rented a room from us and lived here for 2 years when he wasn’t fishing. His off season was late August until late March. Thordog recognized me and the Princess as alphas, but thought that he was higher than the friend in the hierarchy. Thor would growl at him, refuse to move for him, treat him lower than the dogs. Friend complained and I told him to figure it out and act like an alpha. He never did and was in 5th place in the canine structure here, beneath me and the Princess and Thor and Cheyenne. Thor had him buffaloed.

    Oh by the way, the ear thing that works on some types of horses? My cousin used to have two huge dogs that were 7/8 wolf. She and her husband trained them by doing some gnawing of the ears. It worked with Thordog, too. Just don’t let the animal shelter people see you do that. It IS a normal part of the canine world.

    Rakhi was very nearly human at times. And better at being human than many humans I know. While she could be complicated, she and I had extremely good rapport. I can only remember one real incident in which she and I had a problem. A person had been legitimately in the neighbor’s yard, but was a stranger reading the electric meters for the power company. Rakhi wouldn’t quit barking. 15 minutes later, he’d left the neighborhood but she still kept barking. None of the usual things worked, nor did any of the oddities. She kept it up indoors, even, which was a first. I’d reached the end of my rope after 45 minutes and was about to explode, and she knew it, and she gave me a look that, in a human, we’d call “frustration”. Only time I’ve seen that emotion that strong in a dog’s eyes. It was like she was saying, “Papa, I’m trying but I CAN’T stop and I don’t know why! Help me!” Dad was about to smack her good (and he never beat the dogs, ever) but I told him to stop, and said to Rakhi, very gently, “It’s okay, it’s okay” and sat on the grass. She quit barking, slunk over to me with tail between her legs, rolled onto her back and placed her tail on her belly, a sign of total submission in wolves. She got a good belly rub and nothing like that ever happened again.


  21. Hi Margaret,

    Exactly, this too shall pass. Incidentally, your reference to MLK lead me to listen to the beautiful sounds of Mahalia Jackson performing Precious Lord take my hand. What a performer, and some people carry a gift.

    Our news down here is full of your news – as if nothing is going on down here. But yeah as you say, things will open up and the rioters and looters will run out of energy.

    The local pub has opened too, however it is all a little bit weird. Numbers are limited, walk ins are not allowed, and there are two sittings which have to be booked in ahead. I’m assuming that a clean goes on between each sitting, but don’t really know and am only going on what I have heard anecdotally from other venues. I’ll be intrigued to see how such a thing goes and will keep you posted as events unfold.

    And yes, if you are happy to sit outside in the winter weather, the local cafe is now doing table service. Having lived up in the mountains for so long I barely notice the cold and so gift the indoor tables and seats to those that need it. I tell you a funny thing, there was a little bit of outrage as some tourists ordered take away and nabbed a table whilst they waited for their take away order to be filled. Yeah, not a smart move. Indoor tables are in limited supply, but some folks are tone deaf.

    Peanuts are an interesting err, nut to consider growing, and if they can be grown in Virginia, I reckon there is a good chance they’ll do OK here. Your spring weather sounds like the ghastly spring I went through late last year. Without doubt that was the toughest growing year that I can recall. And the soil did not warm until my December (your June) and then the switch flipped and it became hot and dry as until February rolled around and then things changed again.

    Mind you 94’F sounds quite nice to me right about now! It is only 39’F outside and if it gets any cooler, the two littlies may end up sleeping indoors. At 6 months that will be one fun and interesting night… Oh well.

    The two pups are eating a huge amount of food right now as they are growing at a massive rate. Over the past few weeks there food intake has almost doubled. It is an impressive feat.



  22. Hi Inge,

    Ah, thank you for asking. I have no experience with non-castrated male dogs and so will defer to your sons experience.

    Has your son considered getting the male dogs castrated? The local council slugs me three times the usual annual registration fees for the two pups. They asked me why I hadn’t gotten the pups fixed up, and the simple answer was that they are too young to do so although there was no allowance in their systems to accommodate that. It was a bizarrely complicated process to get the two pups registered with the local council and national animal database. A simple process took months and months to sort out and multiple phone calls and emails. How could it be that hard?

    Mustn’t grumble and all that.

    Apparently the sun will shine tomorrow, maybe.



  23. Hi Lewis,

    A wise option, and we were tilting in that direction, and had made inquiries as to whether such reusable cups would be accepted. Turns out that they were, and we wasted many take away coffee cups. The local proprietor looked at me aghast as I asked the question – and fair enough too. You know I’ve never seen them in op-shops, but I was not looking for them either. And I never considered that aspect of ceramics versus tooth enamel – which will win? Possibly the ceramic as you averred, although the test might be cheap to perform, but with an expensive outcome.

    Thanks for the useful suggestions, and I also advised my friend to pay for some advice in regards to the marketing matter. Thanks again. 🙂 I’m amazed that Readers Digest is still cranking out monthly editions, and it would be an interesting line of work for a writer to get into. The writer may learn the true definition of the word: Concise. But then they’d also have to learn how to retain interest as well. Not every writer would be up for such a task. But then a person would learn many different styles, narratives and techniques of writing. For your interest, the local supermarket still has a small stand of romance novels near to the check outs.

    Yup, Joel and Into the Ruins. He did well to produce as many editions as he did and yeah, life changes and all that.

    Not listening before formulating a response is an unpleasant encounter. Hmm. It does make me wonder whether this is a natural consequence of teaching to the test forms of education? I’m not really sure, but pre-loading responses into peoples brains rather than teaching them how to think for themselves, has all manner of unusual outcomes. Dunno. Scientifically proven fact (TM)! 🙂 Well that is true about words, sound and sight. Although it may also indicate that various people have concentrated more on (or have general aptitude for) one sensory organ than another? I don’t really know though. For your interest, for some tasks I learn better through sight and for others the words speak. Technical descriptions are often lost on me, but if shown, well it just makes more sense.

    Yeah, I hear you about the more stripped down aesthetic for furniture. Speaking of which, I recall a decade or two back when rustic farmhouse furniture became all the rage. That was probably taking things a bit too far, and it takes a lot of work to make new furniture look properly aged. Is it worth the effort? You may have insights into that question as I don’t really know.

    Gothic is good, and just the thing for a spooky castle – or vampires nest. 🙂 The Belter stuff is very good, although I do prefer the plainer styles. Imagine if the dogs chewed upon one of those fine pieces of furniture? What if H had done so, could you ever forgive her?

    8′ if the standard down here too, although not that long ago the standard used to be 10′ – and I’ve used 10′ and 12′ in this house as it feels right to me, although the internal and external doors had to be 8′ otherwise the proportions looked a bit odd. The heating-thrifty side of the low ceiling height story was my understanding too, although few people admitted as much. Interestingly, the original ceilings and plaster work were often hidden above the fake lower ceilings. Hot summers are more of a problem down here, but the house design allows for cross ventilation. Can you imagine a ceiling fan on an 8′ ceiling? A persons head might get scalped. Ouch.

    Actually the editor tells me that the chunky cable knit jumpers have been snapped up by folks nostalgic for their youth. I just wanted a warm jumper that I could wear off the property. The beige jumper is looking a bit thread bare. The other week when the tree dudes turned up I was wearing it, and of course I could see that certain judgements were being made about my ability to pay them for their work. Everyone can have an opinion I guess – it doesn’t have to accord with reality (whatever that is).

    Oh two falls out of three. Ah, I had not heard that. Down here we have a similar saying which goes along the lines of: Best two of three. It is accompanied by not so subtle implication that the person so suggesting is making a last ditch play.

    You learn something new every day. Thigmotropism, so it turns out that plants can feel and sense their surroundings. With the grape vines I ran string from the highest wire down to the ground and the vines grabbed hold of it and climbed up the string. The little tendrils hanging onto the string and wire are very strong and involve complicated knots.

    Holy guacamole! That aquifer will eventually get low enough that pumping costs are prohibitive, even whilst it might still have a huge volume of water left. It is a bit like the inverse problem of water into an underground mine – sooner or later the cost of extracting the water exceeds the benefits to be had of continuing the operation of the mine. Some of my neighbours have small water bores, and in really dry summers the wells quickly run dry. As a contrast I spend a lot of time and effort in getting rainwater into the soil.

    Yeah, the series does look good doesn’t it? I’m sure that people will ask that question, but then the question may hide their own feelings about their own lives? Dunno.

    Your Club is a very thoughtful place to do so kindly to the deceased.

    Mate, I’ve been a bit out of sorts today although I can’t really go into details. I was very annoyed and kept up half of last night, and I really do like my sleep. Oh well, these things are sent to try us and nobody said that life would be easy.

    Thinking about putting in my summer seed order soon and will have to look into a setup for growing seedlings. I doubt eggplant, capsicum and/or chili’s will ever get started outside in the ground.



  24. Hi DJ,

    Grass seed is much cheaper than food. How is this though, I picked up a 10kg bag of brown onions today for $8, and the onions were grown in Tasmania – the island state to the south of this state. The economics of that story makes so little sense to me. We’re growing brown onions this year, so it will be very interesting to see how they turn out.

    Very good, and sage really is a wonderful herb. It has interesting medicinal properties and is particularly effective on mouth ulcers should any ever make a horrid appearance – although the leaves sting when applied. Oh yeah. No pain, no gain! 😉 I sound like some sort of motivational speaker.

    There is an inherent conflict when people paid by the community to perform a service, sort of forget that they are paid by the community to perform a service. Then there is a lot of unnecessary hierarchy which will all eventually get blown away like the dust that it is.

    Good stuff and very wise to use the media as a tool, rather than the media using you as a tool. 🙂 A pithy one liner that has a chunk of truth in it.

    The Batman quotes were pretty funny reading. There is not a lot of television I recall from my childhood, but I watched those repeats. It was very silly – unlike a more proper show like err, The Rocky and Bullwinkle show (which I incidentally preferred).

    Thanks, and having a chat and pondering the world is why we are all here. 🙂 It is a nice little corner of this dark thing we are all communicating on.

    The Art of War is a quick read, but chock full of wisdom and insights. The author is concerned about actions and possible outcomes and you don’t see such concerns mooted around the place nowadays. And oh yeah, when things are good, they’re good, and when they’re bad, they’re rotten. But ecologically, I reckon you are on the money.

    Thanks for the history of your cottonwood supply.

    Oh! I’d have thought that the origins of the bolo tie reached far further back than the early to mid 20th century. And who’d have thunk that they come and go in fashion crazes? That’s a fine looking tie you got there Sir. 🙂

    I think those dogs covered just about every base and reaction when it comes to canines and thunderstorms. Hey, it is interesting that you mention aircraft flying overhead, but since the recent thankful quietude on that front, the dogs sometimes now bark when a commercial aircraft flies overhead. It didn’t take them long to forget about those things.

    Vale Thordog, and dog’s personalities can change as they age as well. Some dogs get better, and just like some folks, some dogs get grumpy. But when medical problems set in it is a kindness to the dog to act so. I loved the story of your friend and Thordog’s interactions. Yeah some people just don’t get it with dogs: If you want to be the boss, you have to actually be the boss. Otherwise the dogs will push you out of the way and generally disrespect you – a person has to earn the respect of a dog, although as we have noted many go for the fear route instead – and it is an option I guess.

    Yeah not sure the animal shelter folks would let me take a dog home if they caught me doing that to a dogs ear. 🙂 Hey, I read that there is a shortage of puppies right now. A few years back puppy farms were shut down, although breeders now command excessive prices for dogs – whilst the shelter folk also seem pretty good at shaking people down for mad cash.

    Rahki was onto something and I have heard it said once long ago that: Dogs are the best people. Cheeky stuff.



  25. Hi everyone,

    Cute animal story alert! Cute animal story alert! Whoop! Whoop! Whoop!

    If you get a chance I suggest that you do a search on: B(east) Friends Forever: Wombat called Hope and Elsa the koala become inseparable after sharing an enclosure during lockdown



  26. Hi, Chris!

    That is the brazier that I want. I have just remembered, however, that we have a witch’s cauldron somewhere, cast iron – a huge thing, that a neighbor gave us (we are not witches, just couldn’t resist the thing). It came with a house that the neighbor had bought from a witch. It would be dandy for burning stuff in.

    How nice to have a naughty dog story; thanks. Of course, I don’t have to deal with that anymore. We did have 5 dogs at once – as you asked last week – and they were all about the same age and lived very long lives, so for a few years we were mostly a geriatric dog home.

    I am so sorry to hear about the wheat seedlings; you have tried so hard.

    We are eating strawberries and mulberries and all vegetable plants have baby fruits on them, except cantaloupes and watermelons, which I just got planted, about a month late, but they’ll be fine.

    My son just finished building a “log arch” to haul the trees he cuts down. His is way more massive than the photos I’ve seen. I tell him that it looks like it could haul a 2-ton cannon, which I am sure it could. Anyway, Mr. Musty the Toyota Pickup Truck has been reinforced to be able to tow it.


  27. Hello again
    I believe that Son has a problem with the ethics of castration; I certainly do. As I have mentioned previously, I have never had a pet and never would. Interestingly, dogs and cats are extremely eager to belong to me, to the chagrin of their owners.
    I really don’t know how far to go with this subject when one is not having a face to face conversation, it just doesn’t allow for rapid enough responses and I don’t want comments to fester.
    I believe that the last official castrato died in 1922. Are there differences or not?


  28. Yo, Chris – There’s quit a culture of “go-cups”, here. Most vehicles have built in cup holders. I mean, it’s a good thing to do, recycle wise. But it’s all part of the cult of “use a go-cup, save the planet and defeat global warming.” Sure, it’s a good thing, but, what about the rest of their lives?

    Here’s an article about the “Writer’s Marketplace”. There’s a link at the bottom to their magazine.

    Ah, yes. The farm house / country “look.” It was quit the thing, a few years ago, and, in some quarters is still going strong. At least the white geese with the blue ribbon around their necks, have seemed to have run their course. Now, they clutter the op-shops. All China made, of course. “Shabby Chic.” Distressing or distressed furniture. Sometimes authentic, sometimes made to look that way. Sometimes, something will come up for auction, and the description will say something like “good crust finish.” In other words, peeling away with that alligator hide look. Which can be artificially created, if you know a few tricks. Crusty, is right! Some of it is rather cleaver, and, does recycle things into useable pieces. Old windows repurposed into cabinets, and such.

    Sometimes, there are pleasant surprises, when the drop ceilings are pulled down. Plaster work, or even murals. I think I mentioned our Centralia train station (circa 1910). They did a reno, and discovered that all the old plaster work, and capitols on the pillars were still there. Found the original light fixtures, stashed in the attic.

    Well, still keep an eye on those op-shops. You might get lucky, jumper wise. Boot sales? I don’t know if you have “garage sales”, in Australia. It’s quit the thing, here. “You never know what you’re going to find, where.” Another well known “tip” in the tat trade, is, if your going into a haggling situation, dress down. Especially if there’s no prices on things. The seller is going to size you up, before naming a price. I hate haggling, and often won’t engage in it. I want an idea of where to start. But that’s just me. It’s what I hated, about the tat trade. Often, I’d price things 15-20% more than what I considered a fair price, just because people (some people) expected to haggle.

    “Best 2 our of 3”. Heard here too. “Two falls out of three”, might be just limited to me. Or, people as eccentric as me. 🙂 . Eleanor pointed out the other night, that sometimes I had an accent. (Who, me?). Looking at the words she had noticed, they were mostly Finn/Minnesota kinds of things. And, growing up around all those folks …

    If the population keeps growing, and the climate keeps going sideways, the central and SW United States will be one vast desert. I’d say Phoenix and Las Vegas’s days are numbered. The idea is the basis for plenty of sci-fi and speculative fiction.

    Well, I don’t know what’s annoying you, but, “This too shall pass.” Or, “A hundred years from now, we’ll never know the difference.” I could keep trotting out the platitudes, but I’m sure you have plenty of your own.

    Well, after hashing it out with the Master Gardeners, yesterday, we settled on … zucchini for the fairly large bit of unused ground. Pretty low maintenance and it’s something that the Ladies will eat. The MG’s said it’s a bit late, to start from seed. So, I picked up a couple of green, and a couple of yellow starts, this morning. They’re probably hybrids, and, growing them together, saving seed might be pointless.

    They’re going in the bit of “bad” ground, but, I think I have enough amendments to give them a good start. And, I can start working on the soil, in that patch. Lew

  29. Hi Pam,

    The brazier is as good as a proper ‘pub feed’. It is constructed from corten steel so it should last, well, longer than me that’s for sure. We use it to burn off organic materials during the summer fire restriction season. The manufacturer that produces them presses the shape out of plate steel and they usually make the ends of gas cylinders for truck trailers. Go figure… The punk song is very amusing too.

    Oh yeah, I doubt I could resist the gift of a cauldron sourced originally from a witch either. What a story, and it is your luck that your neighbour felt uncomfortable with the item and wanted to gift it. I’d be into it for sure – very useful and being cast iron it will have a long life.

    A sensitive person might suggest that the fluffies are naughty but nice. Even old Scritchy is bad to the bone as she occasionally takes a wee in the house when she feels like it. At nineteen years of age, she probably has earned that right, and fortunately we have all hardwood floors which are easily cleaned. An indigenous bloke up from north of here once quipped: “What if they’re all bad apples?” Seems like a fair question to ask of the fluffies. He’s a prolific creative and has spent time in your country.

    Well done you with the five dogs. Only those that know, know! Nuff said. 🙂 It is hard to stagger their ages, and I’m finding that out with the chickens as I’ve lost more than a few over the past year. It is a cycle of life.

    Thanks about the bread wheat seedlings, and I really am trying. It’ll get easier with time, but in the end it really does matter.

    Ripe strawberries and mulberries! Yum! With a side serving of envy. 🙂 I tend to agree with you, most of the growing and fruiting for such plants will happen next month for you (although admittedly I could be entirely wrong).

    I’d never heard of a ‘log arch’ before but oh yeah Mr Musty is the machine to pull logs and that contraption. Although your son might be wise to put some weight over the back tray so that Mr Musty’s tyres have traction if the going gets slippery. Top stuff.

    As an alternative, I tend to cut and split in situ and then bring the cut and split timber back up the hill – that being easier and all. Hey, the editor was gone today so I managed to retrieve one of the largest rocks yet using a hand trolley. Bringing the rock down the hill was err, interesting as I had to use the handles as a brake so that the contraption didn’t slide on down the hill. Lack of oversight is always wise in such situations! 😉



  30. Hi Inge,

    Fair enough, and both you and your son are most likely right in that belief. It is not lost on me that other people breed the chickens and dogs that I enjoy on the farm and I would be a major hypocrite to challenge your point of view.

    Incidentally the same goes for the grains that the chickens consume. Someone, somewhere actually grows half an acre of grains so that my chooks can eat all year around – thus making it easy for me. Oh yeah, it is a complicated old world.

    It is interesting that you mention the word ‘official’ in relation to castrato. Interestingly I noted a reference to a quote from Bill Scott (of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame) regarding co-worker Walter Tetley. I have long wondered whether Michael Jackson was one such, but I guess we’ll never know and it probably doesn’t much matter anyway now.

    Are there differences? Well that is a tough question. My neighbour has a love of kelpies (the two sheep dog pups) and a few weeks back we were discussing whether we should breed them.

    Incidentally, I can freely discuss this stuff with no emotional content because I have produced no offspring. As you averred, other people can get quite heated about such topics, so your hesitancy is wise.



  31. Hello again
    With regard to breeding your kelpies. Son has said that female dogs are the healthier for having had one litter. So many people wait to sterilise until this has occurred. No doubt you can research this.


  32. Hi Lewis,

    A few years ago, I read an article which made the unusual claim that people consider that vehicles having more cup holders were somehow safer than those with fewer cup holders. I’d like to suggest that I was making such stuff up, but no. So the editor and I have this long running joke about how such and such a vehicle is not safe because it doesn’t have enough cup holders. You may note that the low centre of gravity mower fell into that category as it had no cup holders to speak of, but fortunately we cobbled together a home made cup holder – and all was good with the world. And the mower just feels safer, somehow… 🙂

    Far out, you ask the hard question there: Yeah, what about the rest of the time? Not many folks think that far into the future. Hey, have you ever watched the film Hot Fuzz? (Simon Pegg and Nick Frost no less). Should this be added to the ‘to watch’ list?

    Geese are really gnarly creatures with bad attitudes and they’d stick it to anyone stupid enough to tie a blue ribbon to their necks. What was with that aesthetic anyway? Like how did it come to pass? On the other hand I didn’t mind the more functional side of the country aesthetic. And yes, I recall the term ‘Shabby Chic’ and have lived in more than a few places that enjoyed that particular label, although in my case it may have been an economic outcome. The first couch that I owned was either third or fourth hand and a brick replaced one missing leg, but with a calico cloth thrown over it, you could sort of ignore the dusky pink velour which most certainly should not have gotten too close to an open fire. Yup, them was the days and if that couch could talk, I would not want to hear the stories it would had to tell. Nowadays I have cotton sheets thrown over two of the couches as it protects them from the naughtiness of the dogs. Incidentally, it is cold enough tonight that they all may sleep inside. That’ll be fun. Scritchy was so annoying tonight that we have wrapped her up in one of her sheets almost like a straight jacket – it is a relief for us all, and she frankly looks pretty comfortable. Oh no, she just broke out and is off again!

    Some of that artificial ageing looks to me as though they’ve applied acrylic paints over oil paints and then lightly heated the surface.

    Years ago I purchased a load of hardwood floorboards made from old recycled timbers. The timber was so dark it looked like a Black Japan finish, except with a brown base. Anyway, the floorboards weren’t end matched with the tongue and groove like they do with newer boards, and the resulting waste was epic at about 10% of the total order.

    It is possible about the op-shop finds. Everything eventually turns up for those that have the time to wait. And I do that when purchasing building supplies and have done so for years. You may note that many of my work overalls have sewn patches on them, this is of course a functional response to normal wear and tear, but then it also signals to suppliers that I actually do work and possibly deserve a discount (or at least don’t muck me around).

    Haggling is a funny art, and from what I’ve observed in Asia is that once nobody is happy you’re at about the best price. It is not really a Western cultural thing, and so we are all hopeless at it. I’ve had to haggle with banks and even then I always feel like I’ve been somehow cheated. Sometimes it is as simple as just asking and/or walking out the door – and sometimes you have to return with your proverbial tail between your legs. That can be fun, and sometimes your position of weakness is all too clear. I had that a few months back, but it is part of life and lost opportunities and stuff.

    🙂 Eccentric! Love it! For some reason “two falls out of three” sounds like an epic night of partying. That maybe me though…

    The accents from your country are quite diverse, but then I once watched the over dubbed version of scenes from the original Mad Max A.K.A. The Road Warrior film, and thought that our version was easier to decipher, but only just. What sort of Finn/Minnesota words does Eleanor hear in your speech? And oh yeah, you can pick such verbal things up too whilst travelling. I note that our New Zealand friends as well as our Canadian friends often add the word: ‘ay’ randomly to the end of sentences. I tend to suggest that the word is an attention grabber which sort of roughly translates as: Are you listening to me or what?

    Yup, them two desert cities be toast.

    Thanks and I do hope that it passes. I feel much better today and decided to move a very large rock – and then did so. The editor was off the property and she had decided last weekend that the rock was too big to move, so it became something of a test. All moved and placed with hand tools too. Getting the rock down the hill was err, interesting and also a very slow experience. I would have looked pretty stupid if the rock had splatted the house or the Dirt Rat Suzuki. Yeah, kind of hard to explain that one. But it all went well, but took two hours…

    A wise choice with the zucchini. And they are good keepers – we’re still consuming last summers harvest of those fruits. Hybrids are fine, I wouldn’t worry about it.

    There is no such thing as bad ground, there is only ground that awaits a good dose of poop. 🙂

    I reckon I should watch Shaun of the Dead again. Hmm.



  33. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the advice, and it is an area which I know very little about. And may not have come across such advice either.

    It was a beautiful sunny winters day here today. Blue skies and no breeze to speak of, but at 48’F it was feeling a might bit chilly. Still once I got into moving a large rock, the weather felt quite warm. There is little point starting outside work too early in the morning now as it is just too cold.



  34. Hello yet again
    Son was just here, so I asked him again. He says ‘one or two litters’.He then queried the possibility that any puppies from them might have good financial value.
    It occurs to me that you could do some research as you have two of them. Treat them differently in this respect e.g. sterilise one and not the other.


  35. Yo, Chris – Why do I think it was auto makers that funded the “More Cup Holders Are Safer”, study? Am I overly suspicious? Prone to conspiracy theories? 🙂 . Maybe you should hang a few more, off the mower? Make it REALLY safe.

    Oh, “Hot Fuzz” was a lot of fun. As are most Simon Pegg movies. Hmmm. Wonder if our library still has a copy? I saw a memo, yesterday, that the libraries are moving toward a kind of re-opening. Curb side service. Stuff will start circulating, again. We’re lucky, in Chehalis. We have a drive up window. No firm dates, yet.

    Oh, the Geese meme probably took off by being featured in some magazine. There’s one called “Country Living”. Might have even been Martha. Someone is responsible, and ought to be punished!

    Re: The couch. Yeah, probably a good thing it’s not too chatty. I’ve seen the occasional interesting movie, where they follow one object through many owners. A violin, comes to mind. There are others. Hmmm. Wonder if it’s a genre? 🙂

    I think I still have a couple of books on faux finishes. All kinds of different methods. How to make one wood look by another, by selection of background color wash and appropriate graining. You can age something by just painting on one color, letting it dry, hit the natural wear spots with a bit of soap, and slap on another color. The second color wipes right off, in the soaped areas. Some people used to beat furniture with chains, to get a “distressed” look. Furniture in bondage!!! 🙂 .

    It’s generally thought that the Pacific Northwest is the most accentless part of the country. But, we bring it in from other places. Some people say our speech is a bit flat. We had a food delivery guy, show up the other night. After he left, I commented to one of the Ladies that I thought he was from Massachusetts. She didn’t catch it, but I did. And, he was wearing a Boston Celtics t-shirt. 🙂 . Eleanor noticed the way I said “sauna.” Yes, I watched a bit of the dubbed “Mad Max”, on YouTube.

    Well, it’s your call (dare I say, it’s your funeral?). Some jobs ought to have someone standing around, ready to call the medics. Just an unsolicited opinion.

    If you build it, they will come? Saw an article in our local newspaper, about building an Ag park, in a small town just north of us. Tenino. I used to drive through it, most days, when I worked at the Yelm library. They also have a small branch, and I worked there, many times.

    When someone started throwing around the word “synergies”, all my red flags went up. And, how many brew pubs can you have?

    I worked in the garden, a couple of hours, yesterday. Mostly weeding the zucchini space. Gave the soil pitch, to the other gardener. “Someone” had told her not to put coffee grounds in her garden, as it made the soil too acid. 🙁 . How many tons have you put on your place? I also found a little volunteer tomato. I carefully weeded around it, and will throw a cage over it. Wonder what it will be? Probably a hybrid, that might taste like ca-ca, but, maybe not.

    I’ve been telling everyone that the community strawberry patch is producing. So far, no takers. So …. more for my freezer. So far, no problem with birds! Other than one Jay that took one berry. But, I’ve got bird netting, close at hand, just in case. Lew

  36. @DJ

    Thanks much. Fortunately things have calmed down significantly and the looters have moved away from downtown. My aunt was afraid to go out due to the virus and now she’s doubly afraid. Guess most of the big name stores as well as small business sustained major damage by her. Her building boarded up the entrance and employed extra security.


  37. Hi Chris,
    Your feed costs are going to explode with three sizable, active dogs. Salve and Leo went in today for their annual which is required for them to get heart worm meds. They both weigh 67 lbs (well Salve 67.4). The vet assistants come out to get your animal and you wait in the parking lot. This morning we had to collect a fecal sample while on their walk. Of course they took their time and both decided to do their business at the same time when what would appear but a neighbor cat. What timing though samples were collected.

    Reading over your should the comment to Lew, is there any possibility you could get a light set up to start plants? I have one I inherited from my great uncle and I’ve used it for years and I get great results.

    I don’t think I’d like eating outdoors when it’s in 40’s no matter how used to cold weather I am. I also wonder how much fun it’ll be to dine at the many restaurants that have quickly set up outdoor dining areas – many in full sun without umbrellas.

    Weather up and down. I believe your summer was similar. At least everything is up and growing.

    We have our first house guest since the lock down – Doug’s friend from Missouri who comes up each summer. Sadly many of their usual activities aren’t open yet but they can golf at least. Of course the Covid police might not agree that this is safe – lots of judging out there on both sides.


  38. @ Chris,

    Nice score on the bag of onions. Also, again, a good reminder, as I need to purchase another bag next outing. Hope growing them works. I planted a lot of green onions and chives.

    Never tried sage on mouth ulcers, but will give it a try next time. I usually apply a damp tea bag. It helps some. In fact, I’ve used damp tea bags on various other minor cuts and weird sores, including sometimes insect bites, and sometimes it works when nothing else did a thing. Black tea or green tea, not herbal.

    Not that I have a gun and badge (I don’t), but being paid by the community to provide certain services, I find what you said to be very true. I had to remind a now retired boss of that a few times, which never went over very well but needed to be said. Of course, to be told “I pay taxes and you have to do what I say” also doesn’t fly, as with my main job duties, I know what the laws are as well as what local gummint policy is too. Typically when I explain that, people calm down, although on occasion I have been known to quip, “Looking at what you pay in tax dollars to my division’s budget, I fear that you have now spent all of that in lecturing me for the past hour, so good-bye.” Yeah, a bit cheeky.

    I like pithy one liners. They’re memorable and often have a kernel of truth and utility in them.

    I really never liked the Batman TV series – it was beyond dumb to me, even at age 5 or 6. Rocky and Bullwinkle, however, is timeless. There’s stuff in there for kids and adults. And bad puns, which I adore. (The Princess is looking over my shoulder and nodding her head in vigorous agreement.) Fractured Fairy Tales, anyone?

    I’m enjoying reading the Sun Tzu. He even has one liners that are memorable, but not pithy, such as, “weigh the situation, then move.” Something that seems to have been forgotten in these current times.

    I was surprised, too. I would’ve thought the bolo tie went back at least to the mid 1800s, if not a bit earlier. Live and learn.

    I agree with your fluffy collective regarding airplanes. One came in a bit low last evening and I found myself wanting to go outside and glare at it, as it was loud. Maybe even growl at it, too.

    Dogs ARE the best people.

    Don’t tell Lew, but I’ve known several people from Minnesota. They have a distinct accent. However, Washington dialect is not as flat as he thinks. When I was in Graduate school in New Mexico, I hung out with a guy from Erie, Pennsylvania. Pretty accent free are there, also. He and a gut from Mullan, Idaho and I all lived on the big Interstate 90, although 3,00o km lies between Erie and Spokane, about 150 km from Spokane to Mullan. Anyhow, somebody once asked the guy from Mullan, “where have those 2 little guys from Canada been hiding all week?”Oh, and people native to the Seattle area? They can’t say “wash” properly. They say “warsh”.


  39. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for the advice, and yes, there would be financial gain, although frankly I’m not really tuned into that world when it comes to the farm.

    As an interesting and marginally related side story, over the many years people have happily advised me as to how I could make money on the farm. For me it is an interesting and reoccurring theme. By way of explanation, we deliberately chose a path to eliminate as many mad cash outgoings as was humanly possible. Turns out that was not as easy a task as you’d imagine – thus the recurring story about the ever escalating insurance premiums.

    Anyway, even in these dire economic times we have the option of pulling back on expenditure and thus remain cash flow positive as a goal at all times. People shy away from this path because it looks like an unappealing option, but it suits us just fine.

    My gut feeling is that I’d breed dogs when I need to breed dogs, but not beforehand. The chickens fall into the same story umbrella.

    Thanks for the tip, as the dogs are sisters and I could test the veracity of the hypothesis. But alas there is no male dog on the scene and the local council charges me an annual fee of three times of that of an unfixed dog. It seems like a very arbitrary approach by the council, but hmm, yeah, not friends.



  40. Hi Claire,

    Thanks for mentioning Richard Heinberg’s post. Go Richard, nice work and welcome into the real world of limits. 🙂

    I spotted him on that recent Michael Moore documentary sitting in his garden. He’s alright that bloke.

    Look forward to your next writing effort. 🙂



  41. Hi Margaret,

    Hehe! You’ve got that right about dogs – oh my, they eat like horses especially the two littlies. Ollie was just like that when we got him, and at one point early on I realised I’d have to feed him more than I was currently feeding him. That was when it dawned on me that converting feed into dog was an energy intensive business. I assume that humans are much the same.

    The current vet arrangements are a bit weird aren’t they, but you know it goes with the territory of the present day. As a comparison Ollie is in the 70 pound territory, but surprisingly the two sheep pups eat far more than he does. In order to accommodate this heavy feeding they get a breakfast of bulk purchased dry feed, and then I add milk, yoghurt, egg, and the usual dog breakfast stuff that I make. Plus every few days they get off cut bones. At night there is more food and my homemade dog biscuits and Anzac biscuits without the sultanas (grapes). The local supermarket sells bags of the off cut bones from their in-house butcher, and the dogs chew on the bones for hours. When they are not chewing, they are running around and fighting with each other – although it is all very friendly. I do fear for Ollie’s ears because from time to time one of the sheep dog pups will grab onto his ear and then just hang off it. No doubts Ollie is building calloused tissue on his ears as a result, but far out, the two littlies are very rough with him. Although it doesn’t go all their way and sometimes Ollie takes their heads in his rather sharp and clean looking teeth and he makes an odd growling sort of sound. I’ve interpreted his sound to mean: Girls, don’t push it or things could go badly for you two. But not-so-secretly the two puppies love their Ollie monster and he reciprocates their love.

    A nice poop catch too by the way! 🙂 We have few such parasites in this area and even parvo is also not present, but then all things are subject to change.

    Ah, an interesting question. So I was looking at small humidity domes and they were about $60 to $70 delivered for a 72 cell tray. But a small polycarbonate clad and aluminium framed glasshouse costs about $700, so that was a no-brainer decision. We’ve only discussed this option today however I have no idea where we can fit a greenhouse. You know, I dream of flat land… Seedling raising is one of those matters that needs attending too – and soon.

    Hehe! Well I tell ya, it was 43’F outside this morning and we decided to support the local general store and that meant sitting outside. Previously this was my absolute minimum temperature, but what do you do?

    Hey, try consuming a hot meal in the full summer sun and you will know true pain. Oh yeah! 🙂 Very wise on your part.

    Good stuff, the weather bureau down here today revised the rainfall outlook for winter – and in a downward direction. Ouch.

    The moral judgement brigade is getting turned out for a dusting off of late. But sometimes people have to read the room too, and I visited a place last week that had not done that. What do you do? The consequences for me from that have been very annoying and socially painful.

    Hope Doug and his mate have a good time and I feel that this is an appropriate goal in these times.



  42. Hi Pam,

    My pleasure! 🙂

    The dogs all enjoyed a lovely sunny winter’s day outside today. Even Scritchy the elder got to endlessly stalk around the house and doing her best to trip us both up. At times her grumpiness knew no bounds, as she did her best to bite Plum and/or Ruby. They look at her in awe, and I do hope that the two littlies are not taking notes…



  43. Hi Al,

    Corten steel is a beautiful material. 🙂 As an unrelated side story I placed some sacrificial stainless steel sleeves over the four pins inside the wood heater combustion chamber about two years ago, and they’re holding up to the punishment in there pretty well. People sometimes take for granted the wonderful materials we have at our beck and call. They’re good!



  44. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! Now that you mention it, the results of the cup-holder experiment sounded a bit dubious to my ears, but you know, I’m no expert. 😉 You can tell the difference, because experts after all, are remunerated far better than I!

    Thanks for the review, and yes Simon Pegg delivers. Oh my, I just looked into the bookshelf and noticed that my DVD copy of Shaun of the Dead came with a copy of Hot Fuzz. Hmm, the next movie night perhaps?

    Great news about the library opening up a partial service and it would be nice if your ‘hold’ collection got a wriggle on and began moving again. Out of curiosity have you lined up many items in your hold collection? Or did the system come to an abrupt halt?

    There have been a few interesting articles in the newspapers of late. Way back in 2008 I decided to set up my own business because if a bloke works full time, it is almost impossible to have enough time to establish a farm. And that was a dozen years ago where I set about trying to get a part time job to accomplish the farm story, and discovered that for men there were no part time work to be had. As a fearless and undaunted person the way around that conundrum was setting up your own business, although a lot of entities use their power and put their hand out wanting a share of the action using the threat of red tape. Anyway, it is interesting that a serious person has studied this effect: What kind of man only works part time?

    Anyway, I already knew all of that, the really interesting article was: Historic Tunnel Hill railway tunnel for lease, though owner says it ‘wouldn’t be a great place to live’. Good stuff huh – and did you see the side story about the former railway lines?

    No doubt the blue scarves may not have assisted the alleged insider trading charges. If I was in the jury that may have altered my perspective in a negative way. 😉 Imagine it, someone has to pay for this outrage! Proper Geese would never be seen in such outrageous finery.

    Anthromorphising furniture, yeah not sure that is a genre, but who knows? However, violin’s aside I’m in the need of a bit of light entertainment and am considering adding Seth Rogen’s Sausage Party to the to-watch list. Seth is a very funny comedic actor.

    Furniture in bondage! Very amusing. Take that chair, and don’t look sideways at me or you’ll regret it. You’ve been a very naughty chair of late, and are in need of a proper punishment. Yes, it probably would have gone much like that, but I don’t really know the details. No doubt the furniture madam or master would have to deal with the individual predilections of the furniture items individually. It would be a tough job and one for only very select few. 😉 Tables I’m guessing would require far more work than chairs.

    Yeah, people say that ‘flat accent’ business about down here too. It may be true. The t-shirt was a dead giveaway, but nice observational skills. You would have made a good detective – seriously. It is the little things that you see. I won’t mention that I thought that Boston was near to New York… Ook! Anyway, nobody from around that part of the world comments on this blog for some reason.

    Thanks for the concern about moving the large rock, but I was very careful and took the job slowly. Safety is an issue I worry about, and I’m forever keeping the paths clear of trip hazards and reminding the editor of personal risks when we are working. Injuries can be pretty serious and happen very quickly so I take a worst case scenario with that. Hope for the best, but expect the worst, and be pleased with the outcome. Yeah!

    It is a big call, but the building process itself at least spreads some money around the community. They’ve announced plans for a grant for home building and renovations down here. The thing is, it is OK if you don’t need to buy anything from overseas, but once as a country you have to do that, you have to sell stuff overseas or eventually you become unstuck. It is not lost on me that your IRA’s began in the wake of the 1974 Oil crisis, and what does that say?

    Hehe! Too true and brew pubs are good, but if the population has to drive there, then it is probably a bit of a long term problem.

    Really? And a nice soil pitch too. Respect. That would be about maybe about 26,000 pounds of the stuff so I don’t necessarily believe it to be the case with the acidity. Like everything though it is best to add a bit of this and a bit of that and not too much of anything. That is my trademarked recipe. 🙂 A week or so back I had someone breaking me about getting the soil tested and I finally had enough and said yes, if you want to pay for it. And that ended the nagging. The plants sort of tell the story of how things are going in that respect. If they’re growing and look healthy then it’s probably OK. This may be a very loose approach for some people, but it works for me and keeps costs down.

    Maybe about the tomato, it all depends on what was grown there in the previous year. It is funny that you mention the volunteer tomato as I’ll have a photo up next week about how we go about doing that. It is so easy that it is not funny.

    Oh, and I had a major win today. The editor has agreed to get a small greenhouse 7ft x 7ft for raising seedlings. We’ve been chucking around different ideas about how best to do that, and it comes down to the greenhouse. Everything else requires too much ongoing energy. Most greenhouses I see are empty and unused, but of course people aren’t selling such things – just in case. I’d be interested in your perspective of greenhouses for that particular use. I suspect I don’t need to use them for other parts of the year.

    What? Slack. Very slack, but good for you. Go early and go hard, and at the first compliant say that: ‘I told you so’. Err, maybe forget that and suggest that for some reason the strawberries aren’t productive this year and will need further work – that’ll keep ’em away for sure. 🙂

    We finished the succulent garden terrace project this morning. And also continued work on the terraced tomato / eggplant fencing. Cemented in a few more treated pine posts, and over the next day or so will get the proper fencing sorted out for that terrace. The fencing was all a bit temporary. 🙂



  45. Hi DJ,

    One of the downsides of the current subject-that-dare-not-be-named is that every man and their dog are buying in bulk. Someone explained to me that there is a lot of cooking going on right now where previously people were eating out a bit. Do you reckon it will return to where it was on that front?

    Chives are great plants and we just hack at them which gives them a haircut and back again they grow. What is a green onion? We have white, red and brown onions down here, but not green.

    Depends what tea bag you use too. Chamomile may work better than others on that front, but not much works as good as a sage leaf, but it will sting that’s for sure. But by the next morning, the mouth ulcer is gone. That is the Salvia officinalis too just to correctly identify the plant. Interesting about the black / green tea and the insect bites. I may try that. Ant bites here are ferocious and leave chemical burns and inflammation. We’re not friends the ants and I.

    Yup, there is middle ground between the consumer demand and a lackadaisical approach. Hehe! Well too true about the economic cost of being subjected to a right and proper whinge. Had to laugh, I can’t recall whether I mentioned to you that I watched Kelly’s Heroes two weeks back, but the scene of Oddball enjoying the sun during the middle of the attack on the tiger tanks was quite funny – Catching rays man, or something like that as to an explanation as to what he was up too whilst reclining. Imagine if you responded to someone whinging at you by saying that! Wow, that whinge might get escalated up the food chain. Unpleasant words would be spoken and possibly at you. So yeah, it is probably all a bad idea, but funny all the same.

    They’re good fun the pithy one liners, and I try to keep a store of them ready for use. One of my favourites is when someone is really whingeing at me about something that I may have done, and I just give them a hopeless and bemused expression and quip: What can I say, it’s a gift. 🙂 I’m not entirely certain that it de-escalates a situation, but it sure is a tension breaker.

    I hear you, and Fractured Fairy tales were good indeed. As was Peabody and Sherman and the way-back machine to which I guess made quite the impression on you too.

    He’s right too. Actually being forced to move before consideration was one of the things that annoyed me about the corporate world. There was just not enough time for contemplation and consideration. It is one of those things that I have long wondered about, so Sun Tzu is entirely correct.

    The noise from those machines is over rated, and I’m beginning to enjoy the quiet. Yeah, I hear you! Awooo! Awooo! That’s my dog howling impression – although it may also be a full moon tonight. What are those errant hairs forming? Awooo! 🙂 Beware the werewolves. The airport is not too far from here, so the rumble of the airbeasties can be heard when they’re taking off and flying overhead. It is a real shock to hear one nowadays. It is not a pleasant sound.

    Mate, I have to admit that I believed that Boston was in New York, so I just have to take your word for the accent. 🙂 Two little guys from Canada!!! Funny stuff. I know a few Canadian folks and from time to time I stir them up by calling them American’s – talk about living on the edge, they get really grumpy about that comparison. But then we have a similar thing going on with folks of New Zealand origin. All good fun, until someone gets hurt I guess! 🙂



  46. Hello again
    What is this about an annual fee charged by the local council re. dogs? Explain please as we have no such thing.
    My greenhouses are cast offs from other people. Son took them down and then re-erected them here. He says that it is a ghastly job re-erecting an old greenhouse as it doesn’t reconnect well.
    I am having the best strawberry season ever and am wondering if one can eat too many of them.


  47. And again
    I missed notayesman’s bit on Australia, am having a job to keep up with everything. Anyhow, it was 3rd June.


  48. @ Chris & DJ – Canker sores? Ground cloves. Or, if you want to get all fancy smancy (and expensive), clove oil. Lew

  49. Yo, Chris – Everything came to a screeching halt, when they closed the libraries. No new books, added to the catalog. So, I expect there will be a glut of new stuff when it starts up again. Several things I want to see have been released in the last couple of months. Hard decisions will have to be made. I’ve kept a few slots open, on my hold list, but, I’m sure it won’t be enough.

    That was an interesting article on men and part time work. Also, I’ve seen or heard of several situations where, “We’ll let Fred go, even though he’s a better worker than Joe. As Joe has a wife and children to support…” As far as social services go here, “families” always get preference, over single people of either sex. Glad I’m old. We get a bit of slack, cut for us, just for surviving. 🙂 . Although that may be changing, as in some quarters, the idea of sacrificing us for the economy is gaining traction.

    That was an interesting article, about the tunnel. I didn’t think of mushrooms, but did think of wine storage or cheese making. Both mentioned in the article. Those old rail lines may come in handy, later. It got me thinking. The Ag Biz Park is fairly close to the main Seattle / Portland rail line. And, I think there’s still short spurs, that go to Tenino.

    I also read the article about grants for home building and renovation, before you mentioned it. Also a side bar on the tunnel story. As with most of these government programs, it sounds good … until you start reading the fine print. Then they just become an exercise in PR.

    Well, about the only thing I can say about greenhouses, is, make sure they have enough headroom so you can stand up straight! Years ago,I had the job of watering a greenhouse, once a week. By the time I was through, my back was killing me, as, there wasn’t enough head room.

    Well, I’ve been spreading the word about the strawberries, but it’s still just a handful here and a handful there. They want them picked, washed and delivered to their door. Same with the blueberries. So, I’ll do my usual. Leave enough for people to pick at, and harvest the rest.

    Yesterday I cut most of the skypes (sp?) off the garlic. Except a few to save for “decor.” Supposed to make the bulbs, bigger. And, of course, weed, weed, weed.

    I saw something interesting in the garden. And, now I have a moral quandary. Sitting on top of one of the Bachelor Buttons, was a very large, crab shaped spider. I’d never seen anything quit like it. So, I Googled “White spider, western Washington” and found … ta-da! “White Crab Spider.” Apparently, they’re one of the few that don’t spin webs, as, they have very good eyesight. They are vemninous, (sp), but “not a danger to humans.” Cool, right?

    Later, I checked the spider, again. And, he was busy chowing down on a pollinator. And, we have too few of those, anyway, this year. So, kill the spider? Or no? Lew

  50. Chris,

    I think people WANT to go back to meals out and not cooking. I also think the powers that be expect things to go back to the way they were in January and last year. I’m not at all convinced that any of the above is likely. Will things open and find a new balance? Probably. Will this mean less cooking at home and more dining out than now? Probably, but I’d be surprised if it got back to the USA average of half of the meals not at home. Which means we are slackers at my house. When you figure 3 meals a day and 30 days a month and 2 people – 180 meals maybe 10 not at home.

    Green onion almost identical to scallion.

    Ahhh, THAT sage is the best. I think I’ve got some of that growing, too. Neither of us get many of those mouth sores, but I’ll keep the sage in mind.

    Oddball was such a great character! I remember the scene you mentioned. Listening to my dad’s (rarely told) stories about the front lines in Holland and Germany in WW2, as long as combat wasn’t happening or about to happen, there was a bit of leeway the more veteran soldiers had that wasn’t given to newbies or to the rear echelon troops. So, perhaps Oddball could’ve gotten away with “catching rays, man” on rare occasions. By the way, Kelly’s Heroes was about the only war movie my dad could watch. Everything else brought back “things” and he knew better than to watch.

    I only have one thing to say about properly timed one liners. One does one’s best.

    Yup, you hit the big 3 from Bullwinkle, definitely.

    Same thing in gummint. Avoid stuff and decisions and then get in a panic months later and don’t consider or think. One of those things I’m learning to accept and then adapt to.

    Werewolf? A planewolf or maybe a plain airwolf?

    Believe me, we tossed in as much of a Canadian accent as we could. One of the girls that hung out in our group was from northern Minnesota and spoke a mix of Minnesotan and Canadian, so she helped us. We had a lot of fun until a guy from Manitoba, Canada, laughed at us and let everybody know that we were most definitely NOT Canadian. Fun while it lasted.


  51. Hi Inge,

    The annual fee is an animal tax charged by the local council. So I pay about $150 each annually for Ruby and Plum and another $50 each annually for Ollie and Scritchy. Yeah, it adds up. The local council employs a ranger (A.K.A. local dog catcher – as I was once amusingly informed), so if the dogs get caught, I get fined heaps by the local council if the dogs are not registered. And if they get caught and are registered, then I get fined only minimally. Hope that all makes sense.

    Hehe! Yeah, I’m with your son in that regard, but then free stuff often takes a bit of work. We’ve decided to make our own greenhouse from scratch using as many recycled materials as possible. The editor was concerned about the aesthetics of the kit ones, and we can do better – and probably cheaper and sturdier too. It will just take a bit of extra mucking around.

    Well done you and ripe home grown strawberries are a thing of beauty. 🙂 The fragrance is delightful. Out of curiosity, how are your raspberries growing this summer?



  52. Hi Lewis,

    Forgot about using cloves, but apparently they contain a natural analgesic and they do numb ones mouth. Funnily enough I have no idea about the growing of cloves, but I suspect that they’d be derived from the tropics? Ah, an island of Indonesia. I see, very tropical indeed. Interestingly the clove tree is a close relative of a family of native edible fruit trees down here known as: lilly pilly’s. The early settlers used to collect the fruit and make jams from them. The fruit is OK, but certainly not what my palate is used to from fruit.

    Thanks for mentioning the book on How to be a Minnesotan. One comment reviewing the book stated that: “I would give it to my parents, but I think they wouldn’t get the joke. That’s how close to home this hit.” Very funny!

    Makes you wonder what happened to the staff working at the libraries when they were shut down? It is possible that they are currently doing nothing much at all. Ouch. We have a program in place for that situation and the Federal Government provides income support for such employees. It might be one of those situations where things could always be worse? Wise to keep some space on your hold list too, but I’d imagine that it would be akin to a tube of toothpaste where product gets pushed in one end, exits the other end and the tube can only hold so much! It is a metaphor.

    Continued working on the fencing around the tomato / eggplant / artichoke terrace today. The terrace is coming along nicely and it is pleasure to see the job nearing completion. We went off to the local general store this morning to pickup the newspaper and milk and also hopefully enjoy a coffee. Now it was 1’C / 34’F this morning, there was ice on the roads and say what you will about softness and all that, we decided against getting a take away coffee. I was hoping that we could enjoy the coffee inside the toasty warm building, but no the tables and chairs had been put away for the weekend as there are just a whole bunch of people making day trips up to the mountain range. Turns out that with not much open for city folks, they are descending upon the country. Despite the cold weather and icy road, a pushbike whizzed past us roaring down the steep road at high speed. I thought to myself: Hope you guys know what you are doing…

    Anyway, it is the Queen’s Birthday long weekend, and I raise my glass in toast of our head of state. It is nice to get a public holiday. I’m sure it is not the Queen’s actual birthday.

    I’ve seen that too about sparing the folks with families. Yup. I tell you that during the recession of the early 90’s I heard that line get thrown around as I was shown the door. What do you do? As a young bloke I sat outside the accepted narrative – I’m sure you’ve been there yourself. Hey, it is an impressive achievement to have survived so – in other times… Dunno about that, I have not heard that particular story mooted anywhere. Although I have heard it said that tax free status and tax giveaways may be reigned in for older folks. I think such things are all talk, and the current state of affairs has achieved the same result without having to change policies and getting supporters feathers all ruffled and stuff. I have a recurring memory of an article I read just before the change in circumstances about a bloke who was in his early 70’s and living in a very nice terrace house in inner Melbourne and he was crowing about how fine he was financially even though he $300,000 in debt. And I have wondered whatever happened to him. At the time I was rather surprised at the claim. Advertisements for reverse mortgages have reared their heads again.

    How cool were the photos of the mushrooms hanging from the walls. Amazing stuff, and that guy would know a thing or two about that trade. But what a beautiful construction too. Yeah, you’re probably right about the rail lines coming in use at some unspecified time in the future. Sometimes I see the old embankments and earth works still in place for the old country rail lines and I do wonder at just what it would take to get them started again.

    The home owner has to spend 5x the grant on renovations just to receive the grant. Sounds a bit like PR to me too and also directed at a demographic with that money to spend in the first place. Someone asked me jokingly if I intended to spend that much on this place. Yeah, nah. Mind you, we have ditched the idea of purchasing a greenhouse kit and decided instead to construct one ourselves from scratch using a whole bunch of recycled materials. How hard can it be? It is like a shed with lots of windows! 🙂 Have already begun looking at second hand windows. So cheap it is wrong.

    Thanks for the advice about the greenhouse – and yes all of those were factored into the decision to go custom. 🙂

    Are you sure that your strawberry and blueberry story was referring to some of my neighbours because I’ve heard that story before.

    Scapes! Sorry for the correction but I was once part of a garlic growing test. It was good fun and there was garlic everywhere in the garden. Some still grows today. It is very reliable once established. But I’m not sure about cutting the scapes off and so defer to your experience. Nowadays I’m growing more onions by far.

    The White Tailed Spiders down here are poisonous (as you’d expect). Yours look far more attractive and colourful. Yah, the spiders that don’t spin webs are hunters – usually very fast when required to be. To kill or not to kill? Depends on the context. If a poisonous spider is in the house, well it is toast – there is not much in here for the spider to eat other than the editor, myself and the dogs – and I’d prefer not to feed the spiders. Outside I usually leave them well alone, but if your ecosystem is out of balance and you have very few pollinators (and you’d sort of imagine they should be out and about right now), well maybe you have to favour one over the other knowing that there is no right way to go. You could also choose the ‘do nothing’ approach and see what happens. Making a decision in the environment means taking a guess as to what things should be like and then working towards that outcome. I use the word guess too, because it takes 1,000 years to grow a 1,000 year old tree and that may take many generations. I read that observation the other day and it makes a person appreciate the length of time it will take to restore land properly.

    Thought you might get a kick out of this article about local country newspapers: You learn a bit working on a local paper. It’s all about the people. A number of long term local papers have bit the dust recently, or gone online.



  53. Hello again
    How odd that you get a holiday for the queen’s official birthday. We don’t! Her actual birthday is 21st April.

    No Raspberries I’m afraid as they grew on the piece of land that I sold last year. The new owner has yanked them all out. That land was once a field as is Son’s land. Mine being woodland is hopeless except for growing in pots. I’m guessing that that is a hopeless idea. A shame really as they arrived between the strawberries and the blackberries.


  54. Yo, Chris – I had forgotten that “How to Be a Minnesotan” was inspired by “Lake Woebegone.” It was a radio series, on NPR. There were books. And, a film. I followed it, because my mom’s family came from a little town that was, I swear, the inspiration for Lake Woebegone. A few minor change in details, to protect the innocent. But, otherwise … To the ends of their life, my grandparents subscribed to the weekly newspaper. And, we visited once, when I was a kid.

    Well, according to the library worker I ran into, they’re spending a lot of time on-line, watching webinars on various topics. The only one she mentioned was about some new circulation system they’re installing. Hmmm. Less than a year ago, they installed new self check out units. But she at least, was wild to get “back into harness.” There are some people who aren’t comfortable with getting paid, for doing nothing. I’ve heard tell … 🙂 .

    I worked in the garden, a couple of hours, last night. Weed, weed, weed. Does it never end? That’s a rhetorical question. Well, it’s raining puppies and kitties, today, so maybe I’ll bake something. Probably strawberry / rhubarb crisp. I’m going to try the Jello method. Makes it less runny, according to reports.

    God Save The Queen! 🙂 . I read somewhen, that they moved her actual birthday, to a time when there was a better chance of fair weather … in England. Now where that leaves all her loyal subjects, in the Land of Down Under, I don’t know. Move the festivities inside, I guess. In normal times.

    Politicians are very leery of us old folks. We vote, and are theoretically up on issues, as we have nothing better to do. At least, that’s the theory. I’ve joined a couple of advocacy groups, and pay a bit of dues. One is AARP (American Association of Retired Persons) and the other is for retired state workers. They lobby for our interests and keep us up on whats going on in our capitols. In case we want to harass our Congressman, or something. So they don’t do anything silly, like dumping all our retirement funds into the stock market.

    I’m sure your greenhouse will be lovely. And, functional. So, are you studying up on the care and feeding of greenhouses? A friend built one, last year, and I tossed a few books his way. Beginner stuff.

    That was a really interesting article on newspapers. We still have our local, but, it’s really shrunk and only comes three times a week. And, they went to only mail, subscriptions. And, a few vending machines. As the article pointed out, it’s all mostly local news, now. Sad to see them go, but, perhaps they’ll come back. The revenge of analog.

    I bit the bullet and killed the spider, last night. Sigh. That will teach me to make friends with wild things. She had nailed another pollinator, and that was one pollinator too far. Lew

  55. Hi Chris
    Yes Corten steel is nice stuff. Corrodes and looks great! Washington state ( WA US not AU) 😁 used it some years ago for high way guard rails to save on it painting white. As I recall the the public thought it was rusting due to neglect. I’m not sure how that worked out. I was ok with it when I heard it was intended. I plan on buying a 24 x 48 inch sheet in 20ga. (.036 “) for using on some outdoor stuff made with my multi purpose sheet metal machine ( shear , bending brake , and rolling tool) . A really handy unit for brackets and other. Also bends and cuts up to 1/8 inch polycarbonate sheet cold . Local plastic shop sells scraps cheap.

    Good on protecting that nice replacement wood stove with SS sleeves. I remember the pictures of the failed predecessor stove. There are so many improved materials that slip by our notice that can make big differences in our projects.

    A note about pup in the brazier. Ambient Sounds like bird calls and such get focused and may be very interesting to dogs in the focus field. They may find it to be a fun place to be.
    Based on observation of my former ownership of a 9 foot dia satellite dish during the 80s era of free un encoded access to hundreds of channels. No dogs in mine just my ears.😁

    Cheers Al

  56. Hi Inge,

    The Queen is not to be trifled with, for one example her representative down here (the Governor General) sacked the standing Federal government in 1975. That is within my lifespan (but not memory, as I was very young). There have been some very recent updates on that story: High Court decides ‘Palace letters’ written during the Whitlam dismissal can be accessed by historian Jenny Hocking . My understanding of the history is that a whole bunch of people were outraged, whilst the sacked government was not returned at the following election. Possibly suggesting that it was a good call on behalf of our Majesty. As an interesting side note, I actually met the bloke who became the next Prime Minister although it was through the Open Garden scheme. He was just sitting with his wife in his open garden saying hello to visitors – as you do. Our ex-politicians rapidly fade into obscurity so it was hardly a notable or exclusive event. The current batch of politicians would do well to recall that reality of life.

    Oh no! Who pulls out established raspberries? Why is the important question here? Ah, perhaps they know not what they do. And yup, a succession of berries during the growing season is what I aim for (and raspberries produce the jam which is the best of the lot).

    I hear anecdotal accounts that your glorious summer weather has turned. Is this true?



  57. Hi DJ,

    Yeah, you’re probably right. Lewis long ago alerted me to the fact that the ancient Romans ate out far more than they cooked at home. Is this a case of old habits dying hard? Maybe! 🙂 Going back to January as a possibility is an idea that is toast. It is not possible at all. Our economy has an almost one to one relationship with the energy consumed, and if that drops – as in like the current demand destruction due to the subject-which-dare-not-be-named (far out that is a whole bunch of typing) – then the whole lot drops out from under you. I don’t know if you’ve ever been in a lift which drops slightly and without warning. I’ve felt that. And there is one road around here which provides a scenic railway sort of gut lifting experience. Anyway, your guts end up in the higher parts of your oesophagus and it is all very uncomfortable. Well, it is kind of like that feeling.

    Ah, shallots and walking onions fall into the category of Green Onion. I had not known this. There is a whole bunch of diversity with that family of plants, and I might not have put too fine a point on it but I have not grown the large brown onions before so have no idea as to their growth habits. Walking Onions are a funny plant as I once ran a store at a local sustainability festival and engaged people with stories of walking onions, plus the story included handing out free bulbs. The festival was an interesting two days that’s for sure. Not sure that I saw a whole lot sustainable about it, but words are often misused these days.

    Me neither with the mouth sores, but occasionally teeth can sometimes tooth the inside lining of one’s mouth and that is an unexpected and problematic situation.

    Thanks for the explanation. It was very noticeable that the characters in Kelly’s Heroes were hard bitten veterans (and thus survivors) who had been right at the coal face for a very long time, and they saw themselves as having to continue to do so for the near future, and verbalised the reality of pushing one’s luck too far. And the initial inference was that they were not about to be rewarded with the err, usual spoils of war. The early contrast of the captain absconding with the boat whilst using the military’s resources was a good one for the film makers to have made.

    Ah yes, such stories are not to be glorified for those who have been through them I’m guessing. My grandfather likewise did not talk about the war. Your dad would have seen a thing or two in his days there, and whilst we cannot know his story or motivations, it is unwise to poke those who don’t wish to be poked (and that includes memories).

    Oh that’s a good one liner! 😉

    Well you’re a better man than me because the lack of vision really annoyed the daylights out of me and I eventually went off and did something different with my life. However, I guess they had vision though but it could not be talked about as it was an unpalatable view. But if you keep enough people busy, they avoid the deeper contemplation of any matters. Although having said that, some problems are not ours to fix – and there is acceptance to be found in there.

    Your mention of planewolf (which I had no idea what you meant by) turned up the Focke-Wulf Fw 190. Fascinating, and an interesting design process which sought a certain outcome. Talk about focus.

    Ah yes, it is all fun until someone calls you out on your language mischief! 😉

    Better get writing…



  58. Hi Lewis,

    You know as a kid I may have heard one or two of those radio shows. One springs to mind in that guests had arrived and the family had to ‘hold back’ in order to feed the guests properly and not give them the wrong impression (i.e. the real impression). That concept created an impression on my young mind, although I know not why. At a wild guess we rarely entertained visitors and they might as well have been aliens from Alpha Centauri for all I knew how to respond to such a social event. 🙂 As an interesting side story, your Lake Woebegon, may have entered the greater lexicon as we do have a word which is rarely heard nowadays, but nonetheless: Woebegone, meaning “sad or miserable in appearance.” I noted in the reference that your word was of Indian origin meaning: “the place where we waited all day in the rain [for you].” Hardly auspicious beginnings for a meeting, but then it should be noted that the folks involved thought that it was worth their time to wait out in the rain for the person in question. Nowadays, folks would have stomped off in a huff after less than an hour, but patience is not what it once was.

    I’ll tell ya a funny thing. Some days I spend in front of a computer entering or interpreting data, or just trying to get the stupid software to do what I know it should do. Anyway, as a general observation watching webinars all day would be a personal challenge, which I’m not sure that I’d be up to. I’m uncomfortable being paid for doing nothing – and as a general observation: this personal preference does not endear me to those who do feel comfortable doing so. Popularity is a matter which has long interested me, and as a sweeping generalisation it is not lost on me that: popular people are rarely highly motivated people. What is your take on that observation?

    Does it ever end? An important and most crucial question to which I have no answer. You know I’d posit the theory that philosophers have long debated this topic with no discernible outcome. The stoics for instance claim that we should shut up and get on with it. Whilst the epicureans may suggest that we should indeed just enjoy the view of the weeds. A townie might decry the offense to their sight that the weeds represent. A permie might suggest that whilst the weed is a plant out of place, do we know of any useful properties for the plant? An indigenous person might suggest that the plant should definitely not be there. Your throw-away line produces so many different perspectives, that I’d suggest you take a leaf out of the libertarian’s (close in spelling to librarian don’t you reckon?) perspective and just do with the plant as you best feel. Phew… Sorry, I interpreted your rhetorical question in the literal mode. It is a personal failing… 🙂

    Hey, it rained here all morning too. There was half an hour of peak sunlight for the day. Yay for industrial civilisation heaping its hopes on this technology. Anyway, got outside this afternoon and did some work, which felt pretty good. Oh yummo! How did the strawberry / rhubarb crisp turn out? Bear in mind I had lentils and pasta for dinner (note not fruit crisp) and am salivating right now.

    Yes, the Queen is OK by me, especially if public holidays are granted in her honour. I admit it, I’m cheap and can be bought. 🙂 Despite the cold and bleak weather, plenty of folks are heading up to the mountain range toodling around and I have absolutely no idea what they are seeing, but they are out and about. And I spotted that Pony Club was operating today. It makes a person wonder how they allocated numbers given the restrictions in place. No doubt there was much intrigue and infighting? Maybe? Best not to be involved in such business.

    Good stuff, and why not either? Speaking of older folks, Ruby ate Scritchy the elder’s food bowl today. Now we’ve had that compressed bamboo food bowl for over twenty five years, but all it took was an hour or so of concerted sheep puppy effort and the food bowl is now kindling. Nothing gets wasted, but still it would have been nice had the food bowl not ended up in a thousand pieces. Scritchy the elder now has Ruby’s food bowl – and all is good with world. You have to admit that a certain balance was restored? I’ve written to local members of Parliament, and I realise such letters carry weight, but the local member basically told me to ‘naff off’.

    Thanks, and I’d hope so too. We’ll use scrap materials and the basic small shed design in use here. Although for the frame I may stick to treated pine. The editor and I have been discussing this matter and I opted for galvanised steel, whilst the editor won the day with painted white treated pine. It will look cool and utilise cross breezes in much the same way the house and chicken run does – whilst not letting the birds inside.

    Did you notice in the article that in some areas locals are banding together to produce their own local newspaper? Very interesting. The local newspapers down here were often gobbled up by very large corporate interests. Revenge of analogue! Yup, it is baked into the story now.

    No worries at all about the spider. It is lost on people that land management means picking and choosing what lives and what dies. How could it be otherwise? I read a really long and boring article written by a bloke banging on about the concept of wilderness today. Outside of the authors imagination, such a place does not exist.

    Better get writing.



  59. Hello again
    The raspberries went plus the whole fruit cage because the buyers wanted to haul a large caravan through. It all turned into a disaster (long story actually). They overdid the tree cutting and attracted attention (should have known better). So were banned from cutting anymore trees. Not having had the sense to choose carefully which they took out first, it was no longer possible to get caravan through. They only managed to haul the metal base through and have had to re-build on top of this at considerable expense. Son and I weep/laugh at all their continuing efforts.

    Our weather changed for about 3 days and we got some rain. Fascinating to see how much the plants loved it, they don’t seem to like being watered from the mains. Today it has warmed up again and it is dry.


  60. Yo, Chris – I think Mr. Keillor was pulling all our legs. “Woebegone” has a fine old heritage. Dates to Middle English, c.1300. “Me is wo begone.” They say the word is a fossil, now. But I think I remember it, from even before Mr. Keillor took us on an excursion to the nooks and crannies of Minnesota. And wasn’t there a cartoon character that banged on about “Woe is me?” I’d guess that “waiting in the rain” bit, was pure invention. But, Chehalis is a Native American name. It means, “shifting or shining sands.” Quicksand? There’s a story that the town got founded when someone’s wagon broke down, and got stuck in the mud. So, they disassembled it, and build a hotel. What’s interesting is how it’s pronounced. We pronounce it, “sha-Hail-us.” People from the South pronounce it, “sha-Haall-is.”

    Most popular people skate by on their looks, or money.

    Re: Weeding. Did you miss the part about that being a rhetorical question? 🙂 .

    We had a real gully washer, here, yesterday. I was just taking H out for her walk, when the heavens opened. I dived into a kind of garden gazebo, we have. Along with two of the Ladies. So there we are, cheek by jowl, and not staying very dry as the rain is coming in sideways. It was pounding on the roof so hard, we couldn’t hear each other speak. It finally eased up, a bit, after about half an hour. I tucked H in my coat. Usually, she doesn’t like to ride there, but she was happy enough, yesterday. Water was pouring off the back slope, and the usual dog walking area was a pond. But, business was done and we retreated to dry off. My coat and pants were soaked.

    I really wonder about the rain gage, at our local airport. In the first place, it comes and goes. In the second, I just don’t believe the 72 hour total is 0.59. I’ll link to it, sometime, and see if you can make any sense of it.

    Well, the crisp morphed into banana muffins with nuts (toasted walnuts) and seeds (sunflower and pumpkin.) Don’t know why. I just wasn’t “feeling” the crisp? Or, maybe, I didn’t want to venture out in the weather to cut rhubarb. The muffins were a bit dense, but, tasty. I gave a few to Eleanor, so, I’ll see what she says.

    Here, they don’t throw you a holiday, unless your dead.

    Well, let’s hope Ruby isn’t pooping out splinters. So she’s consigned to eating her food off the floor? Punishment fits the crime. 🙂 .

    It will be interesting watching your progress on the greenhouse. I’m sure it will be functional, and handsome to look at. It’s good the Editor is around to reign in your … technophilia? 🙂 . Lew

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