Scritchy and me

It is with much sadness that I announce that Scritchy the farm boss dog for the past decade died on Thursday morning. Scritchy lived for nineteen years and she ruled the fluffy collective of dogs with an iron paw. She will be much missed.

When a boss dog is lost, the remaining fluffy collective gets thrown into a tail spin. And that is exactly what happened before Scritchy arrived on the scene. Up until that time, Old Fluffy was the boss dog. She was a real character, and is of a breed known as a ‘Spitz’. When people asked what breed of dog she was, I’d describe her as a Pomeranian, if only because nobody knew what a Spitz was.

The breed hails from northern Europe where they are put to work herding deer and reindeer. And yet here was this Spitz dog at the bottom end of the planet, in a very hot and sunny climate without a reindeer in sight. Despite the lack of reindeer, Old Fluffy knew a thing or two about other animals, and no matter how large and aggressive another dog was, she’d just go for the eyes and then for the throat, and all other dogs would quail in fear. With the notable exception of the Crunchy Beagle.

Regardless, she was an extraordinarily photogenic dog in her younger days. When out on walks, strangers used to regularly stop me on the street and ask to take her photo. Old Fluffy obliged the request with dignity and good grace. Here she is at 15 years of age:

Old Fluffy with a young Sir Poopy in the background

Old Fluffy was an excellent companion and she would happily follow me around all day long. We were good mates. Eventually however, at the venerable age of about sixteen years of age, she succumbed to seizures which left her screaming in pain. It was a kindness to end her life, but I was bereft with grief at the loss.

The two remaining fluffies (Sir Poopy and Toothy – both known to long term readers) began aggressively vying for the boss dog position. Candidly, neither dog was good leadership material, and so the editor and I went to visit an animal shelter which we’d been long supporters of.

On a cold concrete floor in a steel mesh cage, sat Scritchy the miniature fox terrier. Scritchy was the only small female dog available, and so we shared a brief moments conversation:

Chris: “Need a boss dog, and you look like you could do the job. How about it?”

Scritchy: “Yep, can do it.”

Chris: “All right, let’s do this then.”

And that was about as much thought that went into choosing Scritchy. She had four legs, a sprightly look to her eyes, and a spring to her step. What more could you want in a dog? The animal shelter people were a bit weird though. Paperwork had to be signed acknowledging that Scritchy was already an older dog, as if I didn’t know that. I guess they were worried that I would complain about it to them should anything untoward happen. Given that was the case and disclaimers had to be signed, no discount was offered. The paperwork was signed, money was handed over, and Scritchy was bundled into the car and off and away to her new life on the farm.

Upon arriving at the farm it took no time at all for Scritchy and Toothy to become good mates. They were of a similar size and temperament. And Scritchy exerted her alphaness over the much larger Sir Poopy by simply unceremoniously sleeping on top of him whenever he reposed at his leisure upon the beanbag. Fortunately for Scritchy, he did that act a lot. And all the vying for the leadership role ended then and there.

Some dogs love attention, but Scritchy was not one such. At a guess she spent her first years of life in a house whereby most of her time was spent alone in the backyard. Self sufficient was a good way to describe her personality and she required very little in the way of maintenance. With the final exception she never once set foot inside a veterinary clinic. She was very hardy.

During her decade long life here on the farm she witnessed all of her mates and underlings die. And after a decade of life on the farm, and nineteen years of living, she too began to ail physically and mentally. By her final day she was not the dog that she once was.

Scritchy keeps warm and comfortable on a cold winters day

Rest assured though, even in her final week of life, she still found the energy from somewhere to successfully attack the younger sheep dog pups (Plum and Ruby), and teach them the proper meaning of: “what for!” The two young pups looked on the older dog with expressions of both fear and awe, and Ruby in particular spent much time with Scritchy towards the end.

Vale little Scritchy mate, and where ever your spirit now resides I hope that you are giving the other spirits: ‘what for’.

Over her grave we planted a flowering cherry tree. The tree has an amazing view over the valley, but more importantly the grave site is elevated ever so slightly higher than her mates grave sites. And it also conveniently overlooks the dog enclosure. Scritchy would have definitely have approved of such arrangements.

A flowering cherry tree was planted over Scritchy’s grave

With heavy hearts, the ongoing work continued on the farm.

Two of the steel rock gabion cages were completely filled with rocks and then sewn up. Here are the cages before they were sewn shut.

Hours of work went into filling these steel rock gabion cages. Before being sewn up.
On a sunny winters Sunday, the two end steel rock gabion cages were sewn shut

The steel rock gabion cages are holding back an enormous amount of soil. However, they can easily do that task. The cages themselves contain an enormous amount of rocks of all shapes and sizes.

The line of steel rock gabion cages is now nearing completion

Two days were spent cleaning up the forest surrounding the farm. With the cost of insurance rising over 18% year on year, it is prudent to reduce the bushfire risk. Such cost increases don’t seem sustainable to me and with the economy as it currently stands, I would imagine that plenty of people will not be renewing their insurance policies. Anyway, not many people undertake such forestry work, and that is probably because it is really hard physical work. But just the thing to do when your heart is heavy with grief.

We conducted a small burn off of the grasses and forest litter

The ash from the burn off will be spread over the area. We also have heaps of chipped up organic matter to spread over the area courtesy of the nice electricity company. And in about two years when the soil life gets established, the area will be jumping with lush vegetation.

In an adjacent rocky area, which has quite mineral rich soil, we planted an English Oak and an English Elm tree.

An English Oak and English Elm were planted

Observant readers will note that in between the two trees, at some long distant past volcanic event, a lava flow had run down the mountain saddle and left this exposed reef of granite. There are a few of them dotted around the property, and the nearby trees grow exceptionally well thanks to the minerals.

On Sunday morning, the winter weather (1’C / 34’F) produced a solid frost. There was ice everywhere.

Ice from frost settled over the property on Sunday

Ice even formed on the corrugated steel roof sheets on the house. The solar hot water panels used a lot of hot water that night protecting themselves from freezing solid. You can see in the next photo that the area around the two solar hot water panels are free of ice.

Ice from frost formed on the roof of the house

In one of the terraced garden beds, the flow of underground water could be seen in a line of frozen ground.

The frozen ground indicates the presence of underground water

The frost didn’t hang around for long, as the slowly warming winter day caused the ice to melt. On the leaf of a mint scented geranium, a drip of melting ice can be seen dropping onto the leaf below it.

Ice from frost melts and drips off this mint scented Geranium

Despite the frost, there are signs around the farm that Spring may be early this year. If this is the case, then we’ll probably enjoy a very long Spring. I spotted Daffodils which were close to producing flowers:

Some Daffodils which are close to flowering

A well established Manchurian Pear tree has decided that Spring has come early and it has produced Spring leaves and flower buds.

A Manchurian Pear has begun producing spring leaves and blossoms

Some of the fruit trees have even begun to produce some tiny leaf buds, which is also a sign that Spring is here.

A Plum tree begins producing spring leaf growth

Over the past week, a few sunny days has sped along the carrot crop:

The Carrot crop has put on a bit of size despite the frost

Onions have likewise decided to grow:

Onion seedlings have put on a bit of size this week

Onto the flowers:

Pineapple sage has continued to delight and amaze
This Lavender has one look: Attractive
A beautiful cluster of Geranium flowers
Feverfew flowers, Californian Poppies, Balm of Gilead and a purple Penstemon flower

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 657.2mm (25.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 644.6mm (25.4 inches).

59 thoughts on “Scritchy and me”

  1. Yo, Chris – Thanks for the tale of Scritchy. A chapter has ended at Fern Glade Farm, but the book can always be picked up again, and the chapter re-read. The book is “Memory.” Author unknown, date unknown.

    Wow, the rock gabions look so neat and tidy. I’d been waiting for you to mention rocks, again. You’re a modern day Sisyphus :-). Interesting. His tale seems to have really inspired a lot of artists .. and cartoonists.

    That lava flow must have been a sight, to see, when it was laid down. Just not too closely.

    The frost looks so strange. So different from what I see out my window. At least, now. Daffodils, already! And everything else setting their minds to bloom. Don’t know if that’s wise, but, I suppose the plants know what they’re doing.

    The feverfew flowers look so much like chamomile. Different foliage, though. I wonder if “daisy like plants” drove Linnaeus, crazy?

    H got her fortnightly bath, today. Bath, bit of a trim, reamed out her ears. I nipped her with the scissors, and she yelped. But, she’s an instantly forgiving pup. Besides, I think she puts up with a lot, just to have her ears cleaned.

    Well, we’re on a roll. Four more cases of the virus, yesterday. 69, now. Something new. One patient was under 10 years old. What’s interesting is that none of the recent cases have been put in hospital. I wonder if, perhaps, our cases aren’t quit as bad as other places? Of course, the County Council wanted to know if the sudden increase in cases was due to increased testing. They were soooo unhappy to be told the health department has been doing the same number of cases, every week. They’re looking for any other reason than people being stupid, on which to blame the increase. Lew

  2. Sending condolences on the loss of your lovely dog. Always sad to say good bye to a member of your family. We recently had to say good bye to our dear old cat Rosie who lived to 16 years of age. Perhaps they are keeping each other company somewhere up there.

  3. Hi Bev,

    Hope your garden is growing well as it has been a very fine winter here and I’d imagine that things are even nicer where you are. Thank you for the lovely words, and Scritchy enjoyed a long and very enjoyable life (in her second half).



  4. Hi Christine,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    It is hard isn’t it? One can only hope that Rosie is currently bossing around Scritchy, because of course everyone knows that our feline friends have the upper hand over their canine friends. Mind you, I have known cats who were best mates with their dog companions and despite that they performed all sorts of toothy and claw-ey mischief on them. 🙂



  5. Hi Macca,

    Welcome to the discussion.

    The gabion planter is sheer genius. Good stuff and I wouldn’t have thought of that. There are two large and very old olive trees growing in a similar arrangement, although I have used very large rocks instead of the gabion cages. And you know what, it is an arrangement that just works.



  6. Hi Chris,

    Condolences on the passing of Scritchy. It has been a rough year for the fluffy collective.

    How is your upgraded PV system handling the winter?

  7. Hi Lewis,

    The wallabies are very naughty indeed, but they perform a useful task of keeping the under-story of the forest open and clear. Although it is worth noting that there is more forest than there are wallabies because the wallabies have to eat in clearings, and that means that I have to work far harder than would otherwise be the case. If there were more wallabies doing there thing, I would have an easier time of it. Had an epic burn off and clean up this afternoon. And mate, I’m feeling it tonight.

    Excalibur is a worthy tool. On the other hand my ambitions don’t fly that high, and so instead I have a very sharp: Kukri. I picked it up in Nepal after much discussion with the locals as to the best supplier of said tool. It is a beautifully made item and has been occasionally used on the chickens due to the sharpness and weight.

    Sir Poopy enjoyed his life, but his enjoyments were not commensurate with the goal of longevity. Exactly, his is a cautionary tale. He reminded me of the opposite of taxi cabs which have been driven all day and everyday and bizarrely kept working for 400,000 miles.

    The hungry ghosts can never be fed enough, anyone who has met one knows this to be true. Thanks for mentioning the book and the author, and wow. Compassion is a rare ingredient these days, the reviews were astounding in their praise. Never heard of the term ‘serious Jones’ before, but yes either case holds true in many different situations.

    Over the Tasman Sea in the land of the long white cloud (New Zealand), long ago some cheeky scamp once released our marsupial possums. With no predator in sight, such as our owls which consume the heads and brains of said marsupial, they have run riot in the forests. Possum fur it is worth noting is a lovely fur which they now export from those islands, and I once encountered someone suggesting that: they hoped the possums didn’t mind being shorn of their fur… A strange worldview that one.

    There has been some talk about future ‘care packages’ to the stranded Damo and Mrs Damo, but with two weeks in isolation I feel that time will be more valuable than stuff. He might just end up not being far at all from one of my favourite bookshops (a true delight): Paperback Bookshop. You’d love that bookshop, it is crammed floor to ceiling with books.

    It is worth noting that historically books have been in circulation (in whatever form) for many more years than little ones and zeros have been. And in the future when ones and zeros have no meaning, books will still be there.

    You can’t always rely on speaking to someone about technical difficulties these days. It makes you wonder if the underlying assumption with that lot is that: Let’s assume nothing goes wrong. Always a dodgy assumption.

    The briefcase team were a crack unit! 🙂

    The guys were two likely lads, and I was getting a Simon Pegg / Nick Frost flavour to the responses from his mate. The photography was spectacular, and I have never seen such a thing before. And their quest for the ultimate pie just goes to prove their bona fides. 🙂 It really is hard to decide upon which pie to settle upon, and then there is the dreaded fear of regret at making the wrong choice and your mate getting a better pie. Eaten cold? Nope those pies were in a pie warmer and they looked fresh and hot to my eyes. Look some people do heat up pies in a nuker, but that is not right as they need heating up in an oven so that the pastry stays dry. Nuked pastry turns soggy and the pie risks falling apart. But then people enjoy reheated pizza…

    Those pies would have been made in the bakery – and that is common down here. Thus the search for the best pie ever. The effort is worth the outcome when you chance upon a pie of superlative baking prowess. 🙂

    Thank you for saying that, and Scritchy will be much missed. Already I still look for her here and there, but then realisation kicks in. This afternoon Ollie helped me with an epic burn-off of forest litter. We went hard today as it was such a beautiful day with bright blue skies and not a breath of wind. The winter sun even felt warm by late afternoon. Ollie knows that fires are driven along by the fine fuels on the ground – and all that organic matter stuff means that new plants can’t grow, as they don’t get enough sunlight.

    Sisyphus works from home!!!! Hehe!

    Mark Twain’s adventures in the Hawaiian volcanoes back in the 1860’s left quite the impression on me. No health and safety laws in those days… And one of his guides seemed rather foolhardy.

    Yeah, the frost seems weird to me too and on Sunday the ice was thick. The dog water bowls froze solid, so it must have been cold out there. The house was toasty warm though which was nice, although the wood heater gets filled before bed and then just runs out. Yeah, the plants get it wrong and some years I lose my apricot crop to overly anxious fruit trees when they encounter a frost.

    Carl Linnaeus was a great mind, and my reading led me to Sir Joseph Banks and Captain Cook – both excellent scientists as well. What an exciting time that must have been.

    Happy H! Lucky you weren’t wielding a cut throat razor as the nip might have been far deeper than scissors. Dogs like their ears being scratched and cleaned.

    That’s possible. What I’m observing and nobody seems to be talking about is that cases seem less likely and less severe where the density of population is lower. When the density is higher, there are much greater impacts. Population density is low down here.



  8. Hi Inge,

    Ah yes, very true. A docile dog is a beaten thing, and I have no desire to coexist with such a spirit. The dogs need to be able to exercise judgement, and beaten dogs are unable to do that.

    Yes, you have mentioned the being healthier after a litter. I don’t have any experience with that circumstance and so accept your sons opinion. If I were smart, I’d probably obtain a Kelpie male dog, but then there are groups for those dogs as they are working dogs.

    Well if it were possible, but I have this vague feeling that international travel will be a complicated and fraught business in the future. A few people have already mentioned to me that they would like the offspring, which is something that I have not encountered before.

    Such weather is hard on a refrigerator, and also it is worth noting that the machine dumps the hot air inside the house when it is keeping the contents cool. Do other households on your island have air conditioning devices? It is possible that on particularly hot days, people begin drawing far more electricity from the electricity grid than the system can accommodate, and strange things happen to the voltage, current and frequency.



  9. Hi crow,

    Thank you and unfortunately there has now been a complete changing of the guard. They all touch you in different ways, and you never quite know how it will work out when they first enter your life. But then, would you want to know?

    The new 16 x solar panels are working very well indeed. A week or two back there were four days in a row with less than an hours peak sunlight, and I had crank the generator out for a couple of hours, but other than that it has been great. Yesterday was superb for solar power and I ran lots of loads of cooking through the electric oven and was left scratching my head wondering how to use more electricity. A nice problem to have, but it certainly doesn’t work that way every day for three weeks either side of the winter solstice. Another fortnight to go, and fingers crossed. 🙂

    A good soundtrack to this would be: Highway to the Danger Zone… All very late 80’s and stuff.



  10. Hi Chris
    So many lovely friends with the Heart felt condolences for your family!
    Your recent hard work looks beautiful. The weeks entry and pictures are appreciated by all of us readers thanks for all you and the Editor do!

    After our exchange about the pups I looked more deeply into the Au. Kelpie Utubes WOW ! Working the sheep! I saw the “Backing move “ . The Dog “ oh fifty feet of sheep in my way. I’ll just take the Sheepback overpass and go to the front of the herd”
    And much other stuff. So smart!!
    Poor Oppie.😁 He loves the pups!

    Cheers Al

  11. Chris,

    What a wonderful eulogy for Scritchy! Thanks for the detailed Scritchy story and Fluffy history.

    One summer I worked a lot of graveyard shifts, so on my nights off, I’d often take Rakhi the Samoyed for long walks circa 2:00 a.m. On one occasion a pack of 5 or 6 dogs, most of them her size or larger, came at us. I dropped the leash and said “do it”, so she promptly jumped on the back of the nearest and largest dog, chomping on the back of the neck, said dog letting out a loud yelp. The pack fled, most of them whining. Some dogs just know how to be the boss.

    Nice rock work! And the clearing and “ashing” is hard. I spent much of Saturday weeding the vegetable garden and containers. Naturally, it meant being in the hot sun for longer than I’m used to doing, so Sunday ended up being a day to stay inside and recuperate for overdoing it Saturday. Some days are like that…

    Exactly, GPS is a tool, not a guide. It might give ideas, but blindly following technology, nope. Going back to surveying…there’s what’s on paper, and then there’s the reality of what’s on the ground. GPS is the “paper copy” of what’s there.

    Stoicism with respect to Seattle and the unmentionable? Maybe. Or perhaps the idea is that the best defense is a good offense?

    Amazingly, your lavender and my lavender are blooming at the same time. Good to see your carrots and onions are sprouting. I’ve done a second planting of carrots. Some onions I bought from the store, well, 3 of them started sprouting, so I’ve taken them apart and have planted the sprouting pieces. We’ll see how they turn out.


  12. Yo, Chris – Well, if you decide to explore a second career, I see two clear choices. Judging from the skuttlebutt on your blog. Possessing a Kukri, one could always become Lord High Executioner. Dog breeder also seems a possibility. And, judging from your post over at Mr. Greer’s, there’s always the exciting world of the au pair. 🙂 .

    Well, as they shear sheep, why not possums? Some people are entirely clueless.

    I remember the Paperback Bookshop from that book I had on really cool bookstores, of the world. Sounds like a dangerous place. For both Damo, and you. 🙂 .

    Besides the Briefcase Drill Team, there are also several lawnmower drill teams. Both gas powered and push. 🙂 .

    Oh, I agree. Pies should be reheated in the oven. Left over breakfast pizza should be eaten cold. There’s a protocol for these things. On reflection, I have had congress with pies, like yours. One of the places I worked (late 1970s) had a little Cornish lady who brought us homemade Cornish pasties and also pork pot pies. They were to go on the menu, but we got a stern lecture from the owner, as not many were making it past the staff. Must be a gastronomic memory I’m suppressing, as I’ll never probably taste the like, again. 🙁 Sigh.

    I know what you mean. When Eleanor came home, and H went back next door, I had several days of glancing here and there, expecting her to be in her usual spots. H was just sitting in my lap. Eleanor has a doctor’s appointment, and I’m dog sitting. Now she’s curled up on my bed.

    I think you’re right. Less population, more “glancing” exposure. Less chance of being exposed over and over, again. But, I think I’d rather avoid exposure, at all. Not that one has a choice, other than being as careful as possible.

    I saw an interesting article over at the Atlantic magazine. About peak oil, but from an angle I really hadn’t thought much, about. There are countries around the world, that get a major (and, I mean major) part of their revenues from oil sales.

    They’re feeling a lot of pain, now, due to the low prices. But what’s it going to be like, when supply finally goes over the top? Time to diversify (if possible) their economies.

    But, more pressing is the problem of Peak Au Pairs! Why aren’t more people talking about that? Where are the blogs and web sites? 🙂 . Lew

  13. Hello Chris
    Every time you mention the word Spring I do a double take, it feels so weird. I have to think aha, December.
    I agree that it will be a long time before we have normal travel again, possibly not in my lifetime!
    I have never known anyone have air conditioning in this country. The first time that I ever encountered it in a private home was in Australia.


  14. Hi Al,

    The response has been lovely and it is a truly fine send off for Scritchy.

    Thanks! The property is like a giant place of projects for us and it is a fun and creative thing to do.

    Kelpie’s are amazing dogs and they have really do have great balance – they climb onto things and then just go surfing. The videos showing them jumping onto sheep’s backs really are amazing. At some of the agricultural shows they have the working dogs performing tricks and trials and they’re really good. Not sure that I have the energy to train Plum and Ruby to that extent.

    Ollie loves the pups, and he’s like their giant monster mascot.



  15. Hi Inge,

    Hope your summer is going well, and yes the seasons are upside down here at the bottom of the planet. 🙂 The wind is howling outside and the air is cold, and any talk at all of summer is greatly appreciated! But I do believe that it will be a long and early spring here.

    I doubt very much that the sort of unrestricted travel that previously took place will ever occur again. It is possible that as a civilisation we blew it by doing too much travel by too many people. It has often been remarked upon that what is unsustainable, won’t be sustained.

    Oh! Well, down here I’m considered unusual and quirky for not having air conditioning machine in the house, so expectations are very different relatively speaking. However, I do suspect that most houses down here are probably not designed with the climate in mind.

    A really fascinating step down from hyper-complexity just took place in New Zealand: DIY about to get cheaper as Government relaxes need for building consents. Interesting, and very sensible.



  16. Hi DJ,

    Old Fluffy was a fine dog and a constant work companion for years. She was an aloof boss dog, although she used to bestow face cleanings upon Toothy, and he loved the attention. There were times I’d worry that Old Fluffy would remove Toothy’s eyeball during those intense face cleaning episodes, but no. The thing is though, Old Fluffy was trained by the earlier boss dog: ‘The Fat’, who was a Corgi-Dachshund cross and on the day The Fat died, Old Fluffy just took over and became very serious and knew what was required of her. Scritchy never met Old Fluffy and so the chain of training was broken. And Plum and Ruby were far too young to get any sort of training from old Scritchy, so the basic upshot is we’re going to have train them from scratch. And we have decided that we need some professional help.

    Go Rahki! Some dogs will take a bullet for you, and you had one there for sure. The thing is Rahki would have had a tactical advantage over the pack as she would have been better fed and otherwise well rested and in peak condition. Who knows what the story of that pack would have been. Such are opportunists.

    Thank you, and the rock work is taking the form of art. I really like the look of the steel rock gabion cages, and they are super practical. You know we’ve had to work out where to construct the next steel rock gabion cages. Peak rocks may well be here, that however does not mean that there are no rocks and something has to be done with them.

    Head cooking is never good, and it creeps up on you without warning. I’d be curious as to your view, but I’ve noticed that it is more likely to occur in the in-between seasons or when a season produces very variable weather.

    Well that is the thing about the subject-that-dare-not-be-named, we are being set one against the other. Is this a good thing? Historically such attitudes have not ended well. Quite a number of suburbs in Melbourne have reverted to harsher stage three lock downs as of today.

    What do you mean by a second planting of carrots? Do you stagger the harvests? The onions will happily grow, and that experiment here has yielded good results.



  17. Ah, Chris, the loss of a good dog just hits you right in the solar plexus. Vale Scritchy, and may your good doggy spirit be rollicking through a splendid patch of bush with all the doggy tribe who have gone before.
    These days will be heartsore indeed for you and The Editor, and I have you in my thoughts, and the puppies who have lost their boss dog.

  18. Hi Lewis,

    I see your scuttlebutt and raise you a Furphy. You spotted that comment over there, ah well ’tis a tough school that the poor folks have to endure and the claim was no furphy. Many long years ago I encountered a couple who had been living large overseas in the employ of our gubarmint, and they had employed a local lass to assist with the domestic work. And in all truth the couple said to me with a straight face (after I enquired as to the employment conditions) that they were good employers because they had at least not beaten their helpful young lass. It was a surprising and unasked for revelation, and candidly did not reflect well upon them. Anyway, they had their comeuppance as they had to return to this country and lower their expectations. It happens.

    Hehe! Yes, the poor possums. Surely they must have been cold through the winter month with their shorn coats and all? 😉 If only it was not true…

    Damo may not be returning here as the airport looks like it might be getting shut to citizens returning from international places for a few weeks. Quite a number of suburbs (there are no active cases in my council area) have been placed into lock-down, and in a strange turn of events I might be able to provide you with a first hand account of what that shut down looks like. It is a true economic bloodbath. Do you know that in 2017, I believe 1,100 Australians died from the influenza virus, few seemed to have cared about those people and I had to work next to someone who was so infected that year and everyone there thought that it was all very amusing. Currently I believe we have only just surpassed 104 deaths from the subject-that-dare-not-be-named on the entire continent. I really don’t know what to make of that.

    The Paperback bookshop is a truly beautiful business and I have never entered the building and left empty handed. Such a temptation…

    The crack lawn mower teams sort of scared me with their odd version of patriotism. As an outsider, I just didn’t understand the symbolism and alerting to otherness. And what was with the stuffed toy animals standing astride the lawn mowers? So many questions and I expect so few answers.

    Speaking of animals, I had a nice chat with my neighbour today and apparently Ollie had been spotted over there harassing his chickens. He was pretty good about it, and I apologised and offered to address any losses and improve the fencing should the worst occur. It seemed only reasonable. The editor and I had a free wheeling discussion tonight about the problem, and we have come up with a plan that will thwart the fluffy collective in their tracks. They have today just lost the ability to wander around the farm together as a pack, and furthermore we will seek help and get some proper training for the three of them. Much like our civilisation, they blew it by taking things too far. Fencing was discussed as an option, but the cost to the local wildlife from lack of access to the property was too high, and so the fluffy collective must pay the price for their foolishness. So be it. I’m pretty relaxed about it all, but the editor is rather out of sorts about the trio of naughty’s.

    As to breakfast pizza I can offer no valid opinion, but with nuked pies, heck yeah – not right at all. Your Cornish lady of the pie would have known of the true delights of the Cornish pastie. And they are really tasty. Between you and I, I prefer the vegetarian version as the bakers have to work doubly hard to produce a superlative taste. I suspect they cheat a bit and chuck in some curry powder to the vegetable mix. Yum! So Yeah, I can see how the staff (yourself among them) would have chowed down eagerly on the delightful baked produce leaving only hints and teases for the hapless customers. Nice work. 😉 Stay strong and forget this discussion on the count of: one; two; three – forget! Of course you could just make one yourself?

    Yup, that is what part of the loss of dog story is like and it is a constant physical reminder of the loss – which you have also experienced on many fronts. One of the things that I notice about city folks is that they rarely look at where they put their feet. In rural areas you have to look where you put each foot and be aware of what is going on around you as there are all sorts of hazards. I’ve calmly observed people walking over plants and garden beds without the slightest concern and who knows what would happen if there were animals bouncing around under their feet. But you have H back, and that is not a bad arrangement, and H would love the change of scenery.

    The suburbs in lock down also happen to be the more densely packed in suburbs. I think that this one is just now out there, and that is how it is going to roll.

    It was a good article, although I did notice that the author fessed up that they’d worked in an interesting and perhaps questionable role back in the day. I’ve heard it remarked upon before that low oil prices make it impossible for countries that rely upon oil revenues to make much profit in so doing, and high oil prices make it impossible for countries which rely on oil imports to make much profit in so doing. That is what the other side of peak oil looks like with all the wild price swings. Prices will rise again you know only to fall in swings and round abouts. The end game might look like having food in the supermarket that you just can’t afford to purchase. That happened in the Great Depression, as you probably are all too aware (as an notable student of history).

    A really local economy can be quite diverse. Anyway, that is what I gleaned out of the book: “Just Enough” which pretty much discussed the issue from the historical lens of Edo-era Japan.

    Very cheeky! The dogs would concern themselves with peak bones, and the struggle would indeed be very real.



  19. Hi Jo,

    Beautiful words, and thank you so much for them as they were much appreciated.

    The puppies have taken their newfound freedoms a bit too far of late, and are in sore need of training. Scritchy would never have tolerated such mucking around and skiving off.



  20. Hi Chris,
    So enjoyed your story of Scritchy’s life with you and the editor along with all the other fluffies. They are all fortunate indeed. Sounds like Plum and Rose are handfuls though.

    I imagine ice is a rarity for you – consider yourself grateful :).

    We had a nice overnight with my sister, Nora and her husband Bruce. They have been locked down big time in a condo in Chicago. As Bruce has had some heart issues in the past they are particularly careful but said they can’t stay locked up forever so are doing weekly forays to friends and family who have been being careful. Of course there are no guarantees. Bruce is a retired cardiologist and has been watching the developments of that which can’t be mentioned. He’s pretty concerned and considers it quite different than any virus he’s encountered. In fact is was a virus that probably caused his heart condition almost 20 years ago.

    I’ve been trying to set up a new internet/tv service for Marty and it’s been frustrating to say the least. A technician can’t come in his apartment, the account can’t be set up in his name as he doesn’t have a debit or credit card so it’s under my name which also causes many headaches. So far 3 hours on the phone with someone from another continent or going through the phone tree has not gotten it activated and now the company’s website seems to be having difficulties. Oh well tomorrow is another day. Must be off as I have a dental checkup. Imagine they wouldn’t appreciate it if I was late.


  21. Hi Chris,

    Running the generator at all sounds like you need to upgrade and get some new panels! At what point does it not make any more sense for you to add on more panels? Where is the bottle neck?

    Speaking of bottle necks, how’s the brewing coming on? The sake still producing the goods? Have you also sorted the yogurt problem? Perhaps your milk suppliers had dropped in quality?

  22. Yo, Chris – Late, today, as I’ve been out and about. Masked, of course. I’m always tempted to knock over a bank. Not to let a good mask go to waste! 🙂 .

    Furphy – A rumor. An urban legend? According to Wiki, something that has about as much substance as a good case of wind.

    All things doggy. I saw my vet friend, today. I asked her about spaying dogs, litters, etc.. When I asked about letting a dog have a litter of puppies, she said, “Oh, that’s (what the bull leaves behind.). There have been several studies. Also, if a dog is spayed, before their first heat, they are less likely to develop mammary tumors, later. But maybe that ship, has sailed. The only positive to letting a dog have a litter, is, in very large dogs, there may be knee and hip problems, later, if they don’t have a litter.

    My vet friend is a very dour young lady. But, when I mentioned you had Kelpie’s, she just lit up. Such nice dogs. But, they need a bit of training, otherwise, they can be hell on wheels. I gave her your address. You’ll get the bill for the consult, in short order. 🙂 .

    I hit the antique mall, this morning. Last day of the month long sale. Saw a vase marked “black pottery.” No, black satin glass. Actually, Tiffin black satin glass with embossed poppies on the outside. Checking on E-Bay, I got if for about half the going rate. Not a huge score, but still, satisfying. Then I hit the op-shop across the street. Found a figure of a “forty-niner”. An old dude panning for gold. A cookbook (because 300 isn’t enough). But coolest was … a bamboo bird cage, shaped like a boat. Still has it’s little porcelain feeders. Made in Japan, probably just after WWII. Now I can round up some of the birds in my bedroom avery.

    Hit the library at 1:00. There were 9 cars in front of me. I don’t know who was in the lead car, or what their problem was, but they sat a good 15 or 20 minutes. Once they got the heck out of the way, things moved along fairly briskly. They’re using the drive up window, and, a microphone. You read your card number, they get your books, and they hand them out onto a shelf. A contactless, exchange.

    I spent quit a few hours mucking out one of my garden spaces. Well, mucking out the weeds. I dug a couple of trenches, and filled them with none invasive organic “stuff.” So, that large space is ready for corn, beans and tomatoes. Pretty sore, today. Lew

  23. Chris,

    It sounds as if seeking professional help with the current fluffies is a good idea. Thordog is the only dog that either my dad or I had who needed to go to doggy school. It made a huge and positive difference for him. Sometimes that’s what is needed.

    I’m seeing a trend on the farm. Scrounge for more solar panels, then try to figure out ways to use all that electricity. (Except when it’s cloudy for several days this time of year.)Find more rocks (even during “peak rocks”), and then you have to find more places for the gambions. Find mulch mountains, then figure out where and how to place it…

    It wasn’t so much the head cooking. As you suggested, it’s the weather that is cool and rainy for several days, then hot for a day or two, then back to the cool and damp. That has always been the hardest on me, too.

    This is the first year that I’m doing some staggering of the carrot harvests. Plus, the turnips were total flops, and neither onions nor chives germinated from seed, nary a one. So there’s a lot of room for carrots.

    Today I took most of the day off work. We both had dental appointments, then the Princess hit the road to help her brother with something. One of the sinks was barely draining, so I moved everything out from under it, took the PVC apart and got out the tool that never fails: the snake. The snake happened to boldly go where no snake had gone before, 12 meters into the pipes. Put it all together and…not draining. Repeated the process. No good. Should’ve listened to my gut, which had told me that the problem was stuff hanging up on something in the vertical drop from the sink. Got that cleaned up from the sink and it works like a champ. Could’ve done in 15 minutes what it took 2 hours to do. Projects are like that.


  24. Hi Lewis,

    It ain’t just you, we went out for dinner to a Japanese restaurant and enjoyed some very yummy food. Due to the lock down, numbers of patrons were down, and some businesses need support otherwise they may disappear.

    You want a proper balaclava for that job, always a scary look – especially so if they were hand knitted and just a little bit ‘off’ looking like that guy wearing the hockey mask from the Friday the 13th film franchise. He seemed pretty scary.

    It is a funny word isn’t it. You used to hear it being used when I was younger, but the usage has died away, but I suspect some people would still realise that the word is used to call out tall tales / ripping yarns.

    Thanks for asking Amanda (the vet) and I appreciate the words of advice. We’re candidly not sure which way we’ll turn at the moment. Dog training is the first priority and already lessons have been learned.

    Oh my!!! If your veterinary systems bills in anyway like your medical system then mate, it’s game over dude for me! Fortunately I am in another country and she’ll have to drop past to pick up the check. 😉 It’s not too much to ask is it? Before you start my next tactic is to suggest that the check is in the mail. Mate, I have heard it all – every single excuse that could possibly be wheeled out, well I’ve heard it. Such a strange job to do, but very insightful into the human condition.

    The Tiffin black satin glass looks closer to a ceramic item than glass. And from a distance if it were dry, the items would have the appearance of cast iron.

    Don’t you think that it is weird that we had gold rushes going on at exactly the same time (your west coast and over here)? I’ve heard the term forty-niner, but that was due to a computer game from my misspent youth.

    Honestly, the collection would be incomplete without the latest installment. My mates of the big shed fame have a penchant for cook books too, and I gifted them one long ago about an American in France. A beautiful book and it had a lovely old school cover and binding. I do wonder how my pulp fiction collection will stand the test of time – probably not good.

    In the impersonal library exchange did you score your entire hold list? Were there any words of greetings – like did you know the folks at the window? The car at the front was probably forking over their credit card so as to pay for late fees. You’d hope the librarians weren’t threatening to taser the driver should they depart the scene?

    How are you feeling today? It all begins with the soil. 😉 To be honest I over did it a bit on Monday, but should be getting back into it tomorrow. I was going to work near to the large trees, but it is a bit windy and thus mildly risky (falling limbs that aren’t heard, but felt).



  25. Yo, Chris – I wouldn’t be surprised if Amanda didn’t drop by to collect the bill. With her pet boa constrictor, in tow 🙂 . She’s never mentioned moving to Australia, but was quit impressed with the film (mini-series?) about the two Australian women vets. One old wise and cranky, the other young and clueless.

    Re: Gold Rushes at the same time. Must be something in the air. Or, the water. Or, more accurately, in the ground 🙂 .

    Books on Americans and French food, are thick on the ground. I find the background, almost more interesting than the recipes. A good example is “Provence 1970” (Barr, 2013?). In that year, Julia Child, James Beard, Richard Olney, and M. F. K. Fisher all found themselves in the same Provence place. What those round tables must have been like. A more modern take is any of the books by David Lebovitz. He was an American who just up and moved to Paris, pretty much, sight unseen. Not only are his books about food, but also the adventures of an American navigating an entirely unknown culture.

    Tasering is too good a fate for whoever was gumming up the works at the library. Yes, Miss Lilly, the current head librarian (they seem to come and go so quickly) was working the window, and it was smiles all around. She even remembered to leave the hold slips, in the my books. A vital source of scratch paper! And, book marks! But, no, I only got 3 items, off my list of 25. There was a book on the 1918 flu epidemic, that has been in transit, for ever so long. I wonder if it’s languishing in a box somewhere, or, given current events, if a library worker didn’t snag it out of the stream of books, for a quick read, before dropping it back in, again. I’ll give it a few more days, before I shake the library tree.

    I watched a documentary about the Paradise, California fire, last night. “Fire in Paradise.” It was produced by our Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), as part of a series called “Frontline.” “Frontline” is kind of an investigative series, that pokes into all kinds of topics. They’re usually very good.

    There was a bit of banging on about climate change, and how we’ll see more fires, like Paradise. The fire was unusual. There was no “front”. It was just everywhere, all at once. And moved with incredible speed. Actually, even though 85 people were killed, the area had a population of about 40,000. There are sad tales and heroic tales. I know you were interested in the documentary, but, what aspects? Ask away, while it’s still fresh in my mind.

    Raining, today. People are beginning to wonder if “we’ll ever get a summer.” Be careful what you wish for. Lew

  26. Hi Lew and Chris,

    That famous book store in Melbourne is very good – I made sure to detour to it on one of my previous trips to Melbourne (when I lived there 15 years ago I had no idea of its existence – although the internet was a smaller beast back then and you needed local knowledge to find such gems).

    As Chris alluded, it is 100% panic stations for Victoria at the moment and they decided to cancel all incoming international flights. A little stressful for those of us who are literally homeless and jobless next week counting on access across the ditch! Anyway, flights into Sydney and Brisbane are still happening, so I am waiting for the callback from Air New Zealand to change my flight to Sydney. If all else fails, there is still the boat option 🙂 (actually, we would just hook up with friends in NZ and wait it out)

    Mrs Damo has just about sold all our furniture, local op-shops have been given many car loads of clothes, kitchen and garden donations, and the movers are coming on Tuesday for the 5-6 cubic metres of super important personal stuff we just can’t do without. Highlights include a 40 year old Kenwood Chef mixer, a bread knife I really love, and a metric *$# ton of books 🙂

    In ironic news, I recently found an elusive good bakery in NZ. It is located next to the office we just moved to a month back. In an industrial park of all places, and run by a Japanese couple. They do pies worthy of the name. Work associates scoff at the $6 quality pie, and happily eat the $3 swill at another bakery next door instead.


  27. Beautiful post.

    How much we owe to our furry friends: companionship, fun and games, useful tasks done (sometimes and when they like) , and even instruction. Maybe not even a foot in height, but 6ft of personality!

    Glad to see all the regular commenters and yourself and the Editor are flourishing in these disturbed times; about, I suspect, to get very much harder.

    All the best


  28. Hi crow,

    Oh you are so cheeky! 🙂 Well done you.

    I assume your question is serious, so:
    – Some days over winter despite the usually sunny clime at a far lower latitude than you, well all the sun occasionally gives is 15 minutes of peak solar. That usually occurs due to thick cloud, snow, heavy rain etc. It doesn’t matter how many panels you have on such days. The thing is when you are connected to the grid you can wave away such days as mere inconveniences. On such days the system itself uses that much energy just to operate and everything else comes from reserves. A few days of them in a row can knock you out.
    – Also the more panels you install, the more of everything else system wise that you have to install and there are economic limits. Thick copper cable is not cheap, let alone the controllers, fuses etc. All people consider are the solar panels themselves and they are smoking their shorts.
    – The batteries are only able to receive so much charge before the voltage rises and then the charge from the solar panels has to be reduced – even if that means the sunny potential is wasted. All batteries operate that way, and thus why you can’t recharge them quickly. One part of the day may be sunny, the other half is cloudy, but the batteries require charging in a curve that resembles a descending arc as they near 100% full.
    – Most roof designs are not constructed so as to house the sheer number of solar panels required for any serious transition to 100% renewable energy for the majority of the population, and most people blithely ignore such details. We currently have 42 panels connected up, and at this time of year that is mostly just enough. Can you imagine other household systems that large?

    People really believe that batteries are fuel tanks, but in fact their operation more closely resembles that of a balloon. True. Voltage is the speed that the air is released. Current is the volume of air that is released. And capacity is the intersection of speed and volume of air. As the balloon deflates it cannot supply air at the initial capacity when the pressure on the balloon was first released.

    So yeah, there are limits all over the place in such a system. But then they exist within the grid too, it is just that the system is so spectacularly wasteful that few people take any notice.

    Sake is good, thanks for asking. We have upped our game and have doubled production this year. And yes the yoghurt problem was sorted with more precise temperature control.

    How are you doing?



  29. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for the lovely words, and glad that you enjoyed the story. Scritchy led a charmed life and lived in a good paddock. It occurred to me today that we have only been able to begin the training of the two pups in earnest now that Scritchy has passed on. She required a lot of energy that was provided at the expense of the two pups. I wouldn’t have noticed except that the contrast has become quite marked. Plum and Ruby now have learned to sit and wait patiently and will now come when called. It did not take them long for them to learn, it is just we didn’t have the energy for them. It was a truly strange realisation. Dunno what to make of it.

    Ice is a rarity, and oh yeah I hear you about that. In the valley below the farm, the colour had been washed out of the very air that day. It looked really beautiful like a black and white photograph, and I was a bit worried about ice on the roads as I have little experience with those conditions – and nobody down here would think to chuck salt on the roads. Point taken and acknowledged! 🙂

    Glad that you had a nice catch up. Well, it pays to be careful if in those circumstances as that puts Bruce in the high risk category. That can happen, and long ago I knew of a guy who had a heart condition caused by an amoeba which he caught in Asia (I forget where) – it eventually took him out. You wouldn’t want one of those in your system. It is frankly amazing to me that the population is as healthy as it is.

    Hey, some suburbs down here have been placed into four week lock downs, and um, well friends who live surrounded by those suburbs cancelled a visit for this Sunday. What do you? Crazy days.

    Oh my! You have the patience of a Saint. I was once trying to sort out a billing problem with the nice telco, and after about four (but it could have been more) hours I lost my cool and swore at them. Not my finest hour, but they responded by hanging up. Lesson learned, don’t call them up, go into see the people at the telco bricks and mortar shop.



  30. Hi DJ,

    It isn’t a bad idea to get some help with training the pups as I’m no expert, and clearly the dogs can learn as they are working dogs. Made contact with a few folks – and nothing. I’m getting nothing from them at all… Not even static, just no contact. Is anyone out there? Hehe! Must be a profession in demand right now due to pandemic puppies. Anyway, I mentioned to Margaret that now that Scritchy has passed on – and it was a bizarre realisation today – we now have more energy to deal with the pups. They’ve learned to sit and wait, and now even come when called. But we’ve changed their behaviour and now only let one dog out at a time, and the dogs in turn bond with us humans and don’t run off like crazy pack dogs loyal only to Ollie. So yeah, we might be able to sort this out.

    What sort of difference did doggy school make for Thordog?

    Hehe! How did you know that it is all about systems on the farm? What resources have we got, how do/can we utilise them? 😉 Oh, you’re good!

    Mate, those seasons are the worst of all because you never really acclimate to any particular weather condition. And I tell ya what, if it is cold one day and then super hot the next, people don’t adapt by slowing down as they still buzz around like blowflies. Melbourne has that problem too. In tropical climates, people adapt by slowing down their activities, but the heat is experienced as more of a consistent thing.

    Staggering harvests is not a bad idea at all. We do that with greens, but I wouldn’t have considered doing that with crops like carrots. Interesting and you’ve given me food for thought. Onion seed is notorious for its inability to store well. I read about that today and if you’re interested I can look up the reference for you?

    12 metres into the pipes is an extraordinary dive into the murky world of plumbing. Liked your Star Trek reference too. 🙂 Well it is hard to know in advance what the blocking point is. I’ve done some jobs where I’ve quipped that: “I’ll tell you how long it will take after I’ve completed the job”. Any fault finding job is a lot like that.

    How did the trip to the dentist go? Did they make you wait out in the car park before being called in?



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Pet boa constrictor? Well the pet snake might not enjoy the cool winters down in this south eastern corner of the continent. However, such snakes exist much further up the eastern coast, and they really have been known to stalk folks cats and dogs. Oh yeah, the python snakes can be a bit naughty with the family pets: Queensland snake catcher calls for responsible pet ownership after python eats cat. I’m pretty certain that Amanda will require a license for her boa should she ever decide to head down under. Phew. Dodged the bill a second time.

    Well there you go, I’d never heard of the series, which incidentally was titled: Rain Shadow. The Adelaide hills are a very picturesque part of the continent.

    Some suburbs in the big smoke have been placed in lock down due to the subject that dare-not-be-named for a further four weeks. And there are reports that Victorians are now the most hated people on the continent. It is nice to be notorious, I guess.

    Too true about something being in the ground. Interestingly, I read that earlier gold finds were hushed up and accosted by the colonial government. It is not like the stuff wasn’t found in creek and river bends, and the early settlers would have known what the bright shiny metal was. Anyway, the gold rush killed off the transportation of convicts down under as it was hardly a punishment to send people to a place they actively wanted to go. Still the English had had it pretty good for about 70 years.

    Isn’t it funny how some places just attract ex-pats who form a notable community. A lot of Australian intellectuals (and others) headed over to London during the 1970’s and made a name for themselves over there. Some of them were very disparaging about conditions back home – the cheeky scamps.

    It is quite an astounding feat to pull up the familiar anchor and head off into the wild blue yonder seeking, if not fame and fortune, well at least adventure and possible hardship. Mate, heading to the country when you’re a city-boy through and through is like immersing yourself in a different culture. The other day I was speaking to someone, who knew people up here that knew me, and hopefully I made a good impression. I’d like to think so, but some folks up here consider me polite but quirky. There could be far worse character assessments. How do you build your social networks when you move to a new area? I guess there is your club, of course which is a valuable group.

    We did another days cleaning up in the forest interface today. It is hard work, but it is looking pretty good and provides excellent access for the wildlife. The book on Indigenous land management practices mentioned that if a kangaroo can’t hop through a patch of forest, then it is probably a bit choked up with all manner of organic matter. I’m feeling it tonight.

    Sorry, but tasering was the first idea that popped into my head. It’d probably hurt and give the unfortunately slow and painful person reason to move on in future. Some people can’t read the room, and so they dither and dather when they really need to get a wriggle on and make a decision – or at least not hold up the queue. Waste paper gets converted into note paper here, and yes it is a valuable resource. Without lists little would get accomplished. Oh yeah, that 1918 flu book is like seriously hot property right now.

    Watched a few Weird Al Yancovich music videos, dunno why, it all seemed like a good idea at the time. But they’re good.

    Ah, the video for the Paradise Fire is available on utoob. I don’t know about climate change and fires, as they have been a constant due to plant selection, climate and human management of those ecologies. Thus the cleaning up today. Fires can move pretty fast, but they usually have a front. Did anyone in the documentary say anything about a wind change on the day of the fire? That can happen down here and the fire fronts can start small and head in a certain direction driven by the wind, and then a late wind change produces an enormous fire front.

    That is quite the population, and from my perspective it is a sizeable town. Were people living in the forest, with forest right up to their homes?

    I may hopefully get a chance to watch the documentary tomorrow and I don’t doubt that further questions will come to mind. It is an issue that is on my mind.

    Oh yeah, things could always be worse.

    Began training Plum and Ruby and they now know how to sit and wait, and also to come when called. We’ve also changed the arrangements so that they are only allowed out one at a time. That has so far curbed their wandering natures. I hadn’t realised until today that Scritchy took so much of my energy that we didn’t invest enough effort into the two young pups, and we were as much to blame for the outcomes with those two, as they are. It was a bizarre realisation, but before we didn’t have the energy.



  32. Yo, Chris – (and Damo). I was watching that series of lectures on food, last night, and one of them was “African and Aboriginal Cuisines.” When they got to the Australian part, the good prof noted that Australia was one of those places where the immigrants really didn’t take to the local bush tucker, and pretty much transplanted all they could from England. So, early on, Australia didn’t develop a cuisine much different from the old country. But he did mention Pavlovas … and, pies. 🙂 . But something you’ve never mentioned … a “pie floater”. Really? There’s even a Wikipedia, entry. I’m trying to figure out my response. Horrified fascination? 🙂 .

    Amanda, just to keep things interesting, has an albino boa. Lives in a small apartment, along with two cats. Keeps mice in the freezer, for the boa. I do have interesting friends! That was an interesting article. Poor kitty! Are the boas native, or introduced? They have quit a problem down in our State of Florida, with introduced boas. Even with hunts and bounties, they can’t quit stomp them out. Captures keep pushing size records. Some are pushing 20 feet, now. They can take down small deer and even alligator.

    Well, I heard this morning that our local Safeway (where I went shopping last night) has 6 employees out with the virus. And, another 15 in self quarantine. Well, I’m not freaking out, but I wonder how concerned I should be? Probably, not very. I go late at night, wear a mask, scrub my hands when I get home and only have contact with one employee, at the cash register. I figured I’d bump up against it, sooner or later.

    Ex-pats here, ex-pats there. Seems like after WWI, Paris was the place for Americans to go. Americans in Paris, and all that.

    Some people shouldn’t be allowed out in the wood, on their own. (Lew, ™). I’m one of them. Always go with a buddy, who, hopefully, knows more about it than I do.

    Well, polite and quirky isn’t a bad way to be thought of. They probably just write it off to your generally ginger persuasion 🙂 .

    Weird Al is a hoot! Not that I go to our local fair (canceled, this year), but he played the venue, a couple of years ago. One can make quit a living off of funny song parodies. Weird Al, Alan Sherman, Tom Lehrer. All have produced classics.

    The wind played a big part, in the Paradise fire. On that day, the above ground wind (the winds aloft?) were hitting 100 mph. They scattered the embers, everywhere.

    Our local auction is having a “paper” auction.

    Of interest is lot 130 on page 3. Stereo cards of the San Francisco fire of 1906. Which was caused by the San Francisco earthquake. Also of interest is “Woman Hermit.” Lot 192 on page 4.

    Actually, all this stuff is called “ephemera.”
    “things that exist or are used or enjoyed for only a short time.
    items of collectible memorabilia, typically written or printed ones, that were originally expected to have only short-term usefulness or popularity.”

    People usually specialize in one kind of ephemera, or, another. I must admit, a feel a bit of a pull, to some things. Old postcards, etc.. But, I mostly resist. Besides lithographs, Currier and Ives also printed “trade cards.” They were kind of like advertising or business cards. They also did sheet music covers. Both are areas of collectible ephemera. Currier and Ives, or, otherwise.

    It rained on and off, yesterday. And, it looks like another dreary day, today. But, the 4th is supposed to be nice. Almost out of peanut butter cookies (which, by the way, we colonials got the word from the Dutch settlers). Maybe I’ll bake some banana muffins? If I do, I’m going to double the recipe. Lew

  33. Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the detailed reply.

    The Cornucopian fallacy: I was hoping your latitudes would provide a bit more juice in peak winter but a panel covered with snow does little even with sun. What we urgently need is some ingenious panel to extract the energy from freezing water.

    I was imagining your system increasing (but at a decreasing rate) in performance with each extra solar panel until a limit is reached and each new panel degrades in performance (law of diminishing returns) until a further upgrade in some particular area is required; the curve looks more jagged according to your description.

    Full-on gardening season over here at the moment. Trying to build up an urban garden: the challenge here is to make it look nice and productive, but not too nice and productive, otherwise the plants get nicked because it is open access to all with heavy (and very dodgy) traffic passing by each day. What does permaculture have to say about that?

    Do you have any yogurt making tips or detailed advice? Your go to reference is Katz yeah?

  34. Chris,

    I’m having a tiny laugh now. You try to get help training the dogs. Nobody responds. Life is like that, and so sorry, I can’t help but laugh at that. Seriously, though, it never dawned on me that Scritchy could’ve been requiring so much of your time and energy that the pups’ training was neglected! Which also means not enough time spent with the pups, and all critters at that age need a lot of attention from their leaders. So now they’re learning important things. (Yes, sitting and waiting are important!) Good idea, letting them out singly rather than together. Break that momentum and the bad habits they’ve gotten. Maybe, perhaps, maybehaps, even, things will work out just fine with them now that they’re getting the training and attention from you.

    Thordog was very nearly unmanageable. Tantrums (probably abandonment issues) whenever we left him alone were common. He wouldn’t come when called, couldn’t get him to sit, and he wouldn’t stop barking no matter what we tried. The obedience school had about 10 dogs and their humans. The first session, Thor stared at and gave by his posture challenges to the other male dogs that were there. I had to turn him so that his back was facing the other dogs, else there would’ve been a good doggy brawl.

    By the end of the course, however, he was much better. The last session was a “final exam”. Each owner had to take his/her dog through an obstacle course. Thor finished fastest with no errors. Then, we switched dogs. I took the dog that did worst, and that owner took Thor. The dog I had again finished best, but Thor was a close second. So, getting him home, we could quiet him, his anxiety issues about being alone were gone, he would sit and lie down and stay on command. His Irish Wolfhound brain problem got him in the end, but when that wasn’t affecting him, he was into a good dog. He just needed something special that would show him that he could trust us. That changed his momentum with people and other dogs.

    I dunno, your farm as a system? Lucky guess? 😉 Ahhh, thinking in terms of systems can be very useful. I’m grateful that my dad taught me some of that before I was a teenager. So physics problems looked like trying to define the system then getting to work on that system, so the habit really got ingrained in me. But growing up with an old school physics guy can warp one’s thinking that way. 🙂

    No, thanks, I don’t need the reference on the onion seeds. You’ve got enough cred with me I trust you on that. One of my friends at work lives very close to me and she grows a lot of vegetables too. We’ve both noticed that some years, some things do well, others don’t even sprout. This is consecutive years with allegedly new onion seeds that don’t do anything, so I’ll try something else with onions. But the carrots and potatoes and various squashes and leafy greens are doing well so far. Oh, and the raspberries are getting ripe earlier than normal, so I enjoyed some with breakfast.

    Hehehehe! I like your estimate for how long a job will take. I’ll start using that one.

    The dentist? Our entire state is now supposed to wear a mask in public when indoors. So we got to sit inside with masks on until getting called back. The room I was in was next to the room with a large air compressor, which could be heard through the walls. I suggested to the dental hygienist that, when a patient is going to have a cavity fixed, that she tell the patient that the loud noise coming through the wall is the exact very same drill that will be used on said patient’s cavity. She liked that idea, as did the dentist. Anyhow, good healthy mouths and teeth for the both of us.

    I’ve been to the City library twice now. Curbside book pick up worked well both times. Make an appointment, show up a bit early in the designated parking spot. I’ve got a book in at the County library, so need to schedule a time for that, too. Will let you know how that goes.


  35. Hello Chris
    All well here though as our advice goes in and out and up and down I feel as though I am living in a mad fairy tale. Holiday makers can start to arrive tomorrow; it will be interesting to see what that does to our virus figures.
    Many weird happenings around here with idiotic new and old neighbours but I am not trusting it to the internet. A shame really as some of it is very funny.
    Weather about usual for the time of year i.e. cool and damp.


  36. Hi Xabier,

    Thank you so much for the beautiful, and also very true words. The dogs (I’d originally inadvertently typed the word ‘Gods’ after enjoying a small but tasty cup of sake, which was a frankly a very eerie experience) tails cast long shadows over our lives.

    Most people who hang out in this space know how to navigate living with less stuff. It is a useful skill, as I’m sure you too are aware.

    But yes, I agree with you. Hang onto your snorkel cause we might well be taking a slow dive.

    Cordial tail wags to you from the now much younger on average fluffies!



  37. Hi, Chris!

    That dear old Scritchy. We can call her “dear” now; she won’t object. She may be pleased. I have been thinking of her – as Al mentioned last week – riding with you on that low-center-of gravity thingee. Enjoying herself up to the end (that includes being naughty). What a perfect resting place you have found for her.

    Old Fluffy – in appearance only – certainly reminds me of Sir Poopy.

    You seem to have a lot more large rocks than we do here; maybe ours are all underground. Those rock gabions have to be seen to be believed. Maybe I will have one of my own someday . . .

    It is very hot here most afternoons now. If I leave a shovel sitting out in the sun, I have to hose off the metal parts before I can use it. We also are not getting much rain and have to water a lot. Whenever he gets a chance, my son works on clearing more of the to-be orchard area at the back of the property. It looks so different now, so bare where once there were woods. It is pretty neat, though, as now I can view the area well from above, where the main garden is, when before it was all treetops.

    We have a tree frog that has decided the window of our back door is a frog restaurant. The lights of the house shine out through there and attract insects (there are human night owls here) and he glues himself to the window, and in the morning I find him fast asleep, still glued. He is getting awfully fat.

    And we have had a skink living in the house for 3 weeks, even though I keep my small, trusty blue fish net handy. It just goes to show what kind of a housekeeper I am that he has been able to live off of what he catches in the house . . .


  38. @ Inge:

    “A mad fairy tale” is the most perfect description. Perhaps you could use the old “only the names have been changed” technique to let us in on some of the juicy happenings there?


  39. Hi Damo,

    The bookshop has been around for as long as I can remember. So many books in such a small space has the feeling of literary power. And the store has a penchant for stocking the classics. I discovered Professor Tolkien’s interpretation of the classic Beowulf in that book shop, and candidly my education is not good enough to have made sense of the story without the good Professors notations on what the narrator was banging on about. A sad state of affairs.

    But I’m guessing with how things are currently rolling that you may not drop past this little corner of the continent. Not good, but we all cope as best as we may. I’ve been listening to Triple J and have heard some sad tales. One young lady was expecting, but is now in lock down and all she wanted was to hang out with her mates for but a while longer.

    The editor passed through that shut down area today and noted a goodly police presence, and bizarrely folks from this state are attempting to cross into other states. One was allegedly bogged in the back blocks of South Australia. And all the while more people have died in the years national road toll. Strange days. Perhaps, Titanic days?

    Have you sorted out the flight option?

    Hang on to the books! 🙂 And with a bit of care and the occasional change of brushes the Kenwood chef mixer will still be going strong in another 40 years. It is a brand I have a soft spot for, as years ago I scored a Kenwood KT-1100SD FM tuner because basically nobody else wanted it. The sound quality is amazing, but in these days of compressed audio alas such niceties are disregarded.

    My brain is spinning as I took a deep dive into the world of FM tuners… You were warned, proceed with caution. I’m a self confessed electronics geek from way back.

    $6 is a bargain for a gourmet pie. One can only wonder at the offal or cereal content of a $3 pie. If it makes no sense…



  40. Hi crow,

    My pleasure. The stuff is good, but alas, it just isn’t good enough. Oh well, we do what we can. Today there was one peak hour of sun due to thick cloud and rain. That is how it rolls.

    I like how your mind works, and salute your ingenuity. 🙂

    A good rule of thumb to use is: if the plants aren’t growing over winter, well then how will solar panels do significantly better (they can do better by about 7x, I believe)? However 7x of not much, is a lot but still not much relative to gas, hydro, nuclear and coal.

    An astute observation. DJ and I were discussing this matter a while back. When I doubled the voltage so as to reduce the stress on the system of having to regularly cope with 200A (think arc welding, but for far more hours each day), well halving the voltage somehow managed to double the energy used when the system was at rest doing not much at all. A curious outcome. You don’t really know where the little occurrences of true electronic weirdness will pop up. It is close to a game of whack a mole. At the moment things seem to be swimming along nicely, but that hasn’t always been the case.

    What? On a positive note, in order for people to nick plants in the first place, there is a certain knowledge required as to plant identification and usage. So that’s sort of heartening in a bizarre way. Have you thought of netting over the garden rows? That makes it slightly more difficult for the casual thief.

    Yoghurt. What I have learned through failure, by Chris. Pasteurize the milk for an hour at 65’C – You’d imagine that retail milk storage is a fairly consistent thing, but no. Re-cooking the stuff takes the guess work and behind the scenes stuff ups that most people don’t see going on when they buy milk. Back slop from the previous yoghurt batch as much as 50% volume, maybe add some dried milk powder for extra protein, and then just to be sure chuck in a tiny bit (and I really mean small quantity) of new bacteria. Cook for 10 hours at 43’C and you’ll get the best yoghurt ever. Little electric cookers which are regulated for temperature use very little electricity.



  41. Hi Inge,

    The advice is all over the shop here too. One minute we are progressing forward into a Brave New World, and then in the next breath we are going backwards to the past and all the while scandalous tales of alleged improper acts of security guards at quarantine hotels are being aired in the media. I don’t know what to think, but from one perspective, nobody seems to be worried about pollution any more.

    The tourists up here are causing strains with the locals.

    Ah yes, wise to be careful with the stories told on this most public of forums. People can take umbrage at the most innocuous of slurs. 🙂

    Cool and damp. Surely you jest, or are you speaking of my winter experience? That’s what it looks like outside here right now! Hehe!

    Not much to report as we are now in the new financial year and I had to work all day today. Still, I snuck out this morning for a coffee, which was very good. I had a woollen jumper on order from your lovely country, and it arrived in the mail this morning. Very nice, except that it smells of lanolin which is rather authentic, but not many people will understand in these days of plastic clothing.



  42. Hi DJ,

    The lack of responses from dog trainers has been notable. Blame it on pandemic puppies, I guess. Interestingly, I received a letter from an animal shelter requesting funds to brace them for the possible dumping of pandemic puppies. Oh well. But yeah, Scritchy took a lot of effort and energy as she was actually losing her mind as well as physically ailing. Breaking patterns is a good way of putting the situation with the two pups and Ollie, although it is possible that they’ll not be allowed out again together. They blew it and the editor and I spoke for quite a while about fencing, but the problem becomes if I fence this lot in, the wildlife gets fenced out, and they pay a far higher price for that loss. So the dogs just have to deal, or a.k.a. too bad, so sad for them!

    Thordog probably had a hard time of it before encountering your good self and so little wonder he was struggling with the basics. Ollie was a lot like that too, and he needed structure, boundaries and most importantly care and attention (that’s two things!), and he’s been fine. Plus a little bit of freedom. He spent most of his early months in a cage, and it took him a while to settle into the dog enclosure even when he had his canine mates in there with him.

    I used to walk Old Fluffy off the lead as she knew her business, but I changed that policy after she took on the local dog training group (which has ceased training when the subject that dare not be named became large). Yup, straight into the middle of the group she ran, causing mayhem all the way. Well, surprise me once, I guess, and glean a reaction is what she learned.

    A wise point too. Trust is earned with dogs, they don’t unequivocally hand it over until you’ve proven your reliability. Thordog was clearly nobody’s fool.

    Thinking in systems is tough as, and we’re not really taught to think in such terms. You were lucky on that front. Mostly our education systems ask us to divide and compartmentalise things and then try to make sense of that part without reference to the larger concern. Not to bang on about my favourite topic of conversation, but solar panels are relatively cheaper nowadays, and so people inevitably suggest that solar power itself is cheap. But the two ideas are completely different concepts and one is only a part of the other. But to extrapolate a larger concept from a chunk of data is a dangerous philosophy, but then here we are today. What do you do? I’m sure you see that all the time in your job.

    Thank you for the compliment. That happens here too, and last season really rammed that lesson home as I planted out all my saved watermelon seeds which we’d been growing for years. Now if I’d kept some in reserve that would have been far smarter, but no. Back to the drawing board. I was reading about the wisdom of not planting all of your seed stocks for that very reason, this morning.

    But yeah, your approach of planting a diversity of plants is another form of insurance, and something at least will grow and you’ll have something to eat out of the garden.

    Hehe! It’s a bit hard to wear a mask when you’re in the dentist’s chair. 😉 Dentists often have a well developed sense of humour, probably necessary for the job. Well done with the results too. A tidy effort.

    Your library system sounds quite efficient given the circumstances.



  43. Hi Lewis,

    What a strange rabbit hole you ushered me into. The pie floater really has no local equivalent. The first one I physically came across was in New South Wales, but apparently it is a South Australian state heritage food item. Like you I was quite taken aback by the idea of a perfectly good pie floating (or sinking as the case may be) in a green pea soup. It sounds like a dubious combination, but in all honesty it is probably quite tasty. But yeah, it is worth noting that the food craze has not taken on in the state of Victoria and we have both pies and pea soup, so it is not for lack of raw materials. Your observation is sort of much like how I feel about the food concept. If after over a century of tradition the combination has not caught on, well it is probably a local thing.

    The editor is having a girlie night and so I went all slack with dinner and just made a pancake. Slathered blackberry jam on top and it was very tasty. However, I’ve been feeling the effects of a serious sugar rush ever since. Fresh water might assist with that one… It is a self induced state so I can hardly complain, can I? 🙂

    I’ve heard of people keeping mice in the freezer for their reptile pets. Actually one of the local feed shops sells them. I feed the chickens about a pound of meat once per week, and there is little difference.

    We’re in a new financial year now and yeah so I was pretty flat out today with work. All good. Happy new financial year! 🙂

    Have you ever seen some of the hidden camera images of alligators from that part of your country? Some of the alligators look so big that you’d swear that the images were computer generated. And whilst I would never own a pool, I would most certainly have a very strong fence around the property if I had to deal with huge alligators.

    The editor and I were discussing fences around the property to stop the dogs wandering, but have settled instead on the cheaper option of actually training the obstreperous canines. The fence would be expensive, but the cost to the wildlife of exclusion from the food as well as lack of access corridors would be too great for them. Convenient for me, but very hard on the wildlife. And so, it won’t happen.

    Things are a bit worse down here, although I’d be certain the numbers of cases are lower. Some suburbs have been shut down for four weeks. Basic common sense precautions are probably pretty good as far as things go. This one is just out there and shows no sign of going away anywhere soon. And you were right too, someone always breaks quarantine. People from this state heading to other states are getting a harsh treatment, but what I wonder is why are they going in the first place?

    Haha! Get away from them woods, you never know what lurks within. The gnomes and little folks will tweak your nose and make for an uncomfortable day. At least I believe they might just do that. My reading of such folks is that they can do far worse to unsuspecting and rude travellers. I’m sure you’ve read a tale or too in your day. Have you ever read some of the old faerie tales? Did you have a favourite? Still not up to Uther yet, but am inching closer. Had to finish one or two books as they had to be put down when my brain was overloaded at the beginning of all of this current batch of craziness. Non fiction at that time was too hard for me take in. Have you ever felt that way?

    I tend to believe that Mark Twain was taking your woods approach to the volcano trip in Hawaii, and I’m not entirely certain that his larger than life and big talking buddy knew what he was talking about. They were lucky they weren’t cooked.

    Hehe! What is with people hating on gingers? 🙂 Whatever, one must enjoy the occasional chunk of mystery and learn to live with it. Speaking of which, I’ve been wondering of late whether the well known English ginger, who was enormously popular down here, is now an honoured guest of the new err, geo-political arrangements in place following the exit of Brexit, in your country? Such things have been the case in historical times, we’re just far more polite about it these days.

    Weird Al, is pretty funny, and he hits the right notes when parodying. What interests me about the story is that the artists themselves are often very pleased that they’ve become so notable that they are worthy of parodying. Is parodying a recent act, or does it have a long history?

    Hmm, not good about the Paradise fire. And yes, I have read that the fires can get so large and hot that they generate their own bizarre weather patterns. That happens in your country too. The epic fires in January, which few people now recall, could be seen on the weather radar. So weird. And embers can travel for miles and ignite dried vegetation well ahead of the fire front.

    The cards were really interesting. I couldn’t quite read what forest the female hermit was residing in. The setup of her camp looked good to my eyes. I read about a woman hermit the other day. Now, where was it… … Queensland’s ‘Girl Robinson Crusoe’, found alone on an island in the 1960s, re-emerges to tell her story.

    Ah, ephemera is a fine word, and you would have also noticed that it has the whiff of honesty about its definition. It’s a bit like the blog really, in a couple of hundred years time, few will be talking about us, although it would be nice if they were. But then they might saying really rotten things, so maybe there is freedom in forgetting?

    Do you reckon the image of the woman hermit was real or a camera set up for the post card? I used to have quite the collection of post cards when I was a kid, and then there were also the first day cover envelopes. So many things to collect.

    Not good, and hopefully your weather warms up soon – but doesn’t get too hot for comfort. The weather here was appalling today as the wind blew on and off and the rain arrived in waves. Not a nice day to be outside.



  44. Hi Pam,

    Scritchy will be sadly missed. And you’ll be happy to note that she was super-naughty right up to her final day, but she was given wide allowance to be the fluff boss that she needed to be. And yes, she really enjoyed the ride around on the ride-on mower. She used to hang with me at night and that photo of her was her sitting at my feet all wrapped up in blankets and sheets. She felt the cold more often in her final few months and mostly lived inside the house.

    If it means anything I believe Ruby may end up being the next boss dog, but for the moment we are leaderless. Ollie lack the ambition.

    You have a sensitive eye to have so noticed. And Old Fluffy was about the same size as Sir Poopy. Sir Poopy was mildly afraid of Old Fluffy, but did as he was told.

    Peak rocks is real, never fear! The large rocks are really hard to move around easily and we have all manner of methods available, but some rocks are just too big. Don’t you reckon it is amazing at the sheer number of rocks held in those steel rock gabion cages?

    The orchard is a good idea, and I hope you son recalls to protect the soil life from the hot sun? Not as easily said as done. The UV from the summer sun can sterilise the soil life, but that might be no bad thing as it will wipe out many of the weed seeds too. Has he chosen the fruit trees?

    Frogs are a great sign of good health of your land, and their antics are always fun. The frogs use the house lights here to their advantage too. Actually we have a spotlight shining up on a large tree and the bats and owls hunt insects in the free night time light.

    Skinks are fast and they can out fox the dogs that’s for sure. And they’d be enjoying your summer weather.

    Lots of rain and cold weather here. Brr!



  45. Yo, Chris – Lots about Australia in the archaeology news, yesterday. Up in NW Australia, they’re exploring aboriginal sites that are now underwater. From tens of thousands of years, ago. And, down in SE Australia, the fires have revealed the remains of a mining camp from the 1880s.

    Sugar rush, crash and burn. Maybe a sugar coma? 🙂 . Best way to take the edge off that is to throw in something with a bit of bulk and fiber. Which turns into more sugar, but slower. So, it takes the highs and lows and flattens them out.

    Every once in awhile, down in Florida, a golfer is hauled off the fairway by an alligator. Puts the “hazard” in “water hazard.” They may be big, but those babies can MOVE when they’re intent on something.

    “…strange rabbit hole…” You’re welcome! 🙂 . Speaking of which. All this talk of dogs, training and fencing. Ever looked into an “invisible dog fence?” I knew they existed, but really didn’t know much about them. Expensive, but cheaper than fencing. But I see, only 70% effective.

    Well. I went shopping at Safeway, late Wednesday night, and Thursday it was all over the news. That store has 5 employees down with Covid, and another 15 in (paid) quarantine for 14 days. Oh, dear. I must say that Safeway was pretty forth coming about what’s going on. A lot of big companies would just stone wall. I stepped up my vigilance, a bit. Taking my temp three times a day, instead of two. Started wearing a mask when I gas with Eleanor, at night. By the way, I use the old fashioned glass thermometer. From what I’ve seen, the cheap-o electronic ones that you can buy over the counter, are pretty much rubbish.

    Oh, I read all the old fairy tale books, when I was a kid. There was that series. Red Fairy Book, Blue Fairy Book, etc.. Also, American folk tales, Grimm, Anderson, etc. etc.. There was also, on the TV, the “Shirley Temple Fairy Tale Theatre.” There was a book that went with it, that we had. Watered down, I’m sure, but you got the gist. I’ve got a new movie on my library hold list: “Gretel and Hansel.” Ought to be interesting.

    When and what to read. Well, I don’t read as much fiction, as I used to. Don’t know why. Mostly, I read non-fiction. But, sometimes, I don’t feel like reading anything at all. Doesn’t ever last long. I think if varies from person to person, and, circumstances have a lot to do with it.

    Oh, I’ve always been quit fond of gingers. One of my best friends in high school was a real carrot top, and my friend Bob who died in the 80’s was, too. But I have no idea who you were referring to.

    I have no idea how far back parody goes. There were probably ancient Greek comedy plays, that made fun of very serious Greek plays. During his time, other playwrights, probably sent up Shakespeare. I think it’s very human to take the mickey out of someone or something that takes itself way to seriously.

    I about went blind trying to see which wilderness the woman hermit lived in. But, the post card was posted and sent, local. So, probably somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. I don’t think it was staged. If staged, they would have had a more … comely woman.

    That was an interesting article about the woman Crusoe. But sad that the media had to spoil her idyll. Sounds like she remained true to herself, and has had a pretty good life. Lew

  46. Hi Lewis,

    I’d read about the underwater finds, and sort of wished that the curious researchers left the stuff where they found it. Human nature is otherwise though, and I can understand that impulse. The shale mining camp was fascinating, and it is really eerie to realise that within only a century the land had taken back its own. I hadn’t heard of the find previously. There is a good article about it here: Evidence of miners’ camp near Ruined Castle. There is no ruined castle there, but the name refers to a notable rock formation which can be attained via a challenging walk: Ruined Castle walking track. There is a virtual view of the walk. I’ve visited the Blue Mountains once and to my eyes the limestone formations had collapsed, left a cliff and formed an amazing edge of the material. You can almost see the process of the weathering of the ages in action. There are a few places in Australia like that and the story of deep time is laid out for those that care to see.

    Shale as a roofing material fell out of favour just before the first world war. There are still shale roofs in evidence in the older areas of the big smoke, but after WWI corrugated galvanised iron was the preferred material to keep rain off the occupants heads in a house. Interestingly, after WWII, glazed ceramic tiles became the preferred material. The sheer weight of such materials necessitated heavier and more intricate timber roof trusses and so we went down a spiral of waste. As an adult I have only once lived in a house with ceramic tiles and on a windy day you could feel the air finding its way into every gap, nook and cranny. The thing is a mate explained to me that ceramic tiled roofs are actually cheaper than the closer fitting corrugated steel sheets. And my mate chose a ceramic tiled roof. Deposits of clay for such products are becoming exhausted and requiring freight from further afield and that increases the costs. Peak clay?

    Mate, the sugar hit me hard and I was happily typing away last night with a mild self induced food headache. But far out, the pancake with blackberry jam tasted soooo good! As an antidote I drank a lot of water, and about half an hour before bed the headache had receded. Thanks for the advice and I will run the experiment the next time I foolishly pit my body against the natural order of things.

    Who would have thought that golf could be a dangerous sport? An alligator would be quite a final ending for the hapless golfer. And yeah, like the salt water crocodiles up north, I’ll bet they can run hard when required. Oh yeah. The salt water crocodiles can jump.

    Speaking of golf, when I attended the hippy dippy school, they took us kids out to learn to play a round of golf each week for a few months. I’d like to suggest that I was making that up, but no. One of my mates copped a golf club in his mouth and chipped a tooth, and that was about the worst injury that I can recall. He bled a bit, but otherwise was fine. To save on hire fees my school mates and I hit the op shops and picked up a complete set of clubs each for only a few bucks. The golf clubs no doubt eventually ended up in the same place that they were procured from. Such a strange school and I’m personally glad that my grandfather rescued me from educational oblivion.

    And for your edification I have consumed a crocodile burger when up in the Northern Territory. It tasted a lot like chicken with the consistency of lamb. The crocodile farms up there do tend to feed chickens to the reptiles so that may explain the taste.

    My mates of the big shed fame set up an invisible fence for two of their dogs which had the unfortunate habit of taking themselves off on adventures. They had two delightful Cairn terriers (think Toto). Anyway, the report back from them was that one of the terriers could ride through the pain. So the upshot is that I’m not convinced that the zapping systems work for some very determined canines.

    Ruby has decided this week to get her act together and take up the role of boss dog. The turn around in her behaviour has been quite spectacular and she is no longer the dog that she was last week.

    The cheeky New Zealander’s have released yet another film exploring relationships: New Zealand comedy Bellbird explores men’s mental health and importance of community in rural life. Might go and see that one – if that is actually possible. The cinemas are open but things are a bit weird right now.

    A wise choice with the glass thermometer. However, I’m one step ahead and in the early days back when nobody blinked twice at the mention of the subject that dare not be named, I went and spoke to a pharmacist about the quality of thermometers and nabbed one that you poke in your ear in order to take a reading. The others are apparently a bit on the variable side of things. So yeah, the cheap-o ones can be a bit rubbish. Much like most testing done on the cheap, huh? 🙂

    Gretel and Hansel does look intriguing. Why were the names swapped around?

    Indeed the explanation of circumstances sounds right to me. Of late down here there have been one or two places that I’ve been able to read in public whilst enjoying a feed and drink and so the reading speed has picked up again. But then there is the constant pressure not to linger, and thus move on and make room for others, and I see no reason to excite antipathy. Of late, exceptionally selfish circumstances seem to be noticed by locals and so it is wise not to feed the flames.

    Gingers have more fun. Harry and his wife Meaghan are now guests of your country. That’s who. I felt that the move was significant, and that particular family rarely marries without good reason.

    Hehe! Over the years you’ve alerted me to the sheer historical scope of comedians such as Monty Python. Take the Killer Rabbits for just one example, and there they actually are in the side notes of historical references penned by Middle Ages scribes seeking amusement across the ages. I’d probably do something similar, and for the same reasons that they did it – it seemed like a good and amusing idea at the time!

    Oh, thank you for so putting your eye sight at risk so as to indulge my curiosity. Well, you have a point there, but the lady in question may also have presented herself as such as she did not want to garner any attention as to her situation.

    Her life read like a ripping yarn. Some folks were not born to the day to day drudgery. I felt her pain that she was not left in peace to do her thing on that island.

    Didn’t do too much today as the weather was filthy again. Woke up in fog and then it rained on and off again for most of the day. Spent the afternoon doing chores which keep the house ticking along nicely.



  47. @ Pam
    If I lived on the mainland, yes. Islands are different, there is massive inter relationship and knowledge of others to an extent which is almost eerie. Anyhow, see below.


    @ Chris again
    Two more amusing happenings appeared later, a bit less sensitive. My neighbour has installed solar powered electric gates at the end of his drive. This cost £400 just so that one doesn’t have to get out of the car. Actually it was the wish of his wife and she paid for it. If there is no sun for weeks on end (always a possibility here in winter) will this keep working?

    The grand designs house (on the far side of this neighbour) has now come on the market for the sum of £1,100,000. It has 5 bathrooms!!!. Far too little land and no view. If you can get prime locations isle of wight up on the internet, you can see it.
    I wouldn’t buy it for any sum at all.

    Our weather is currently being described as autumnal.


  48. Hi Inge,

    Hehe! Well hopefully the residents of the house with the solar powered gate don’t have to venture forth much. And also that there is a manual override for the motor mechanism. 🙂 The gate and battery will probably work fine for most of the year, but then there will be times when the rain is pouring down in buckets, and has been so doing for days, and then at the most undesirable time of all, the little device will just pack it in. That outcome is built into the mechanism due to your northerly latitude.

    Between you and I, it is not a good sign. We’ve visited locals where we have been subjected to heated disagreements between them over the various bits of infrastructure that keep their places going. I tend to believe that such arguments arise due to a difference between expectations and reality. The last time I checked, those two concepts were not the same at all, but they can more or less reach a meeting point. The argument which is the most heated of all (ironically) that we have been subjected too, is that of people’s houses internal temperatures over the depths of winter. The housing stock up here is rarely constructed with the local climate in mind.

    The editor is involved in all of the infrastructure on the farm and thus has realistic expectations as to what is possible. I have noticed that not everyone’s partners or children up here seem interested in their infrastructure and/or systems. For the life of me I do not understand that hands off attitude, but it sure is common enough.

    We were talking about that house the other day. It was memorable and the financing of the build left me feeling very uncomfortable. Exactly, how many toilets and bathrooms can the members of a household feasibly use? From memory the guy had had some sort of health issue too, but I could be incorrect in that memory.

    Me neither. I prefer a small house which sits upon a functional piece of land. More on this story to come…

    Brr! I’m not sure what to make of such weather. The growing season down here last year was probably about 10 weeks, and that was a serious struggle which I’d never encountered before. We’re taking steps to address that sort of crazy short growing season on the basis that if it has happened once…



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Watched the documentary on the Paradise Fire. Yup, that’s what it looks like.

    I’m going to have to process the images before I can make any meaningful comment.



  50. Good afternoon (to be completely random!)

    When I wrote ‘Only a few feet tall, but 6ft of personality’ I meant to add….’and trouble’.

    But I believe there is an old Dutch proverb which says that ‘the only quiet and clean farm is a dead one’, or something to that effect, so all the ‘trouble’ that lively and characterful dogs – who are in their own minds (like us?) emperors of all they survey – bring is most welcome, if the owners have any sense.

    Perhaps the problem you have is three good working dogs without their traditional work to do?

    Although I don’t shoot, I trained Sir Sancho and his mother the sweet Princess Tilly as much as possible as gundogs: whistle, hand-signals and everything, and they seemed to enjoy the structure and purpose that gave.

    They were (alas poor Tilly!) and are fine examples of sporting dogs, pure bred by farmers and gamekeepers, and I concluded that was what they needed.

    So I (eventually) ‘had them at a word’ as they used to say here: any amount of boisterousness permitted, but when I say (or whistle) ‘Sit ‘or ‘Come’, I expect instant obedience. As if I had pressed a button.

    I was a complete novice at this, as my mother was scared of dogs, and my father far too selfish ever to have one, and so set about learning from any source I could find, but somehow took to it – maybe being the first male in my family to be brought up in town helped, I believe in inherited aptitude in beasts and men?

    But it helps having very well bred dogs to start with, like Socrates, you remind them of what they know deep inside, you do not teach.

    How this applies to cuddle dogs and sheepdogs I do not know…..

    The economics news and disfunctional social and political behaviour , if not sheer madness and incivility, almost everywhere lead me to conclude that not just a snorkel and mask are required, but a b……y submarine!

    By the way, you and the Editor are The Guilty Ones, as inspired by your blog I have embarked on my own ’empire’ of raised beds – it’s funny how the urge to build just another one takes a grip, isn’t it? I am already planning next year’s expansion where a vast pile of seasoning firewood currently looms.

    I have given up, more or less, on moving to the mountains of the Basque Country, as the rural economy is nose-diving -the shepe farmers supplied the rstaurants, and the young increasingly are Vegan more fool them, or too poor to buy local lamb, and the power of the Madrid government to declare a ‘State of Alarm’ and prevent even a 1 hour walk for health, which we were allowed here in the UK. is alarming in itself! Most of my family spent months entombed in flats without balconies, and a cousin in Catalonia could only take illegal swims from a deserted beach at 4am, at risk of a huge fine! He counted on the local police corporal looking the other way, but outside police and Army were drafted in.

    All the best to you and everyone


  51. Chris,

    Dogs, fences and wildlife… Well, there you go bringing thinking in systems into it! Good on you recognizing (again) that the larger system in which you live and farm includes the wildlife. That doesn’t surprise me, as you’ve remarked over the years that you gladly share food with the other inhabitants (well, not gladly about sharing strawberries), and that the changes in Fernglade have benefitted many, not just you, the Editor and the Fluffy Collection. So, if the dogs can’t/won’t get it together…

    You guessed it. Thordog grew up on the streets. Then the poor guy was in a cage, albeit large enough to walk in, for 18 months before I adopted him. And the cage was indoors, too. At least he was VERY friendly with most people and he adored children. He once broke out of the yard and disappeared, then mysteriously reappeared after 3 days. On a walk through the neighborhood with him a week later, a lady came out of her house and asked if that dog had been missed by me for three days. When I answered affirmatively, she said that one evening he ran into their open front door, plopped in front of the children in front of the tv, and loved the attention from the kids. 3 days later, he just wandered out the door, apparently returning home.

    That’s a funny story about Old Fluffy! I can just see the reasoning. “Hmmmm, I know how to behave. Chris lets me walk off the leash. And they’re all learning to behave and they must stay on their leashes. I’ll have some fun with them, zoom through their midst and get them all in a dither and ruin their class. What fun I’ll have! Bwahahaha!” Later…”Consequences? What’s this consequences stuff? I thought Chris would be amused by my antics!”

    I see the compartmentalization all the time at work. Well, nearly everywhere, actually. A year or 2 ago, I was having a conversation with the Big Boss of our group. I pointed out something that was problematical, then proceeded onto something else. He interrupted me by stating that those were 2 totally different and unrelated things. I proceeded to remind him that, as he understands and enjoys basic quantum mechanics ideas, that he must “believe in the interrelatedness of all things”. Which is also an idea from the Dirk Gently books by Douglas Adams, which Big Boss grasped immediately. I then explained how the 2 things were related, and he understood the underlying problem. Not that anything changed, of course.

    Logic is a funny thing. Deductive reasoning works exceedingly well. Conclusions are correct IF the underlying assumptions are correct. Inductive, generalizing from one or a few data points, can be very hazardous. It can be rewarding, but the downsides can be enormous. Such as: “This is supposed to be an area with Giant Killer Rabbits. I’ve never seen a Giant Killer Rabbit here in the 53 years that I’ve lived here. Therefore, there are no Giant Killer Rabbits here.” Result: Giant Killer Rabbit pounces on the person shortly thereafter. Or, (true story)… We got 15cm of snow on Halloween 1971. People that grew up in the area STILL say that “It snows on Halloween almost every year.” The historical records say that the Spokane area has had measurable snowfall ONCE on Halloween since I moved here in 1967.

    Yeah, I had to remove my mask when they were dentisting me. At least the dentist and the hygienist kept theirs on.

    We had another MC and the Techs meeting Thursday. Big Boss (MC) arranged that I could “phone it in”. He called me on the phone when the meeting started and put the conference room phone on speaker, which meant that occasionally I had to say something or laugh to prove that I hadn’t fallen asleep or gone outside.


  52. Hi Chris,
    Well after 3 calls and 4 hours on the phone I finally got Marty’s new internet/tv/phone system set up. Then I worked on our internet which has been dodgy lately. I still don’t think it’s right. I have to say I have better things to do with my time. Much of the issue is that Marty doesn’t have a credit or debit card so I end up being the account holder. He couldn’t even set up an appointment for himself for awhile. Each person I spoke to had a different story. There isn’t an actual store too close to me but I was about the make the trip before things finally got resolved.

    Our library is open and inter library loan is also available. Of course there are many rules.

    Just to add to my fun week I had to attend the wedding dress shopping trip with my daughter and her two attendants (at least there’s only two). Shopping is not something I enjoy so I had to feign enthusiasm. On a good night a dress was actually chosen so no more trips of this sort are necessary. Then there was a bit of a party at her house (I stayed over along with others) to celebrate the occasion. Ruth, the pandemic puppy, was quite unruly jumping all over everyone when they arrived. I did bring up training and it is being discussed. Of course as I’ve mentioned before any hints Doug or I have are dismissed as “old school”. Lucky Doug was not subjected to any of this being the dad. I was questioned as to what I would be wearing to which I responded, I’ll get some new jeans and a new sparkly top. That wasn’t too well received. Mind you this wedding is a year away and who knows what’ll be going on by then.

    It was way too busy this week and I’m happy to see next to nothing on the calendar the rest of the month. Oh yeah, we also took the meat chickens up to the processor.

    It’s hot and quite dry – kind of like what Pam described. I did more watering and mulching today.

    Illinois is doing quite well regarding the virus but states around us not so much. Especially Wisconsin which is very close by and many Illinois residents go there for vacations (including the same daughter, her fiance and others right now). I figure we’ll be getting worse too as more things open up. The hotter weather will drive people in and it sure seems like visiting outside is the best option.

    Good luck with the training. I hope they eventually can be given their freedom. Does the dog left inside get upset?


  53. Yo, Chris – Well, it’s the 4th of July. Fireworks have been going off for days. Some of the Ladies have a bit of PTSD. And, of course, the dogs and cats are bonkers. But H has been holding up, pretty well. Brave little dog! 🙂 . And, in commemoration of the day, here’s an ear worm.

    You can always depend on John Phillip to get you up and moving, in the morning! I was a bit naughty. I happened to remember that I had a CD of his marches, in my small collection. So, I set up my little boom box in my window, lay in wait, and when Susan came out, cranked up the volume. Blaring it into the parking lot. Will be interesting to hear her reaction, later.

    I got an e-mail from the antique mall, that they would be open, today. So, I nipped up and snagged the piece of Fenton Golden Pinecone. I was really surprised at the number of businesses that are open, today. Usually, the 4th has everything buttoned up tight. I imagine business is trying to make up lost ground, due to you know what. Swung by the Club and my buddy Scott happened to show up. He’s feeling a bit low. A combination of a lot of things. The ongoing you-know-what, and, the political situation generally, in this country. Well, neither are things that we can effect, so, the best I can do is make sympathetic noises.

    We see a lot of corrugated and other metal roofs, around here. Generally, as snow slides off easier. And, they don’t have to be replaced as often as other forms of roofs. Of course, the Romans were big on tile roofs. I saw a picture of one the other day that has a toddlers foot print, on it.

    I do and I don’t understand archaeologists and museums urge to collect everything in sight. But I often wonder about the wisdom of packing up every scrap and putting it in a museum, somewhere. There’s a lot about the illicit antiquities trade. Sure, some of the stuff is culturally significant, but a lot of it … They send it back to the countries of origin, and, I’m sure most of it gets packed up and put in museum storage. There’s the whole fraught topic of museums deaccessioning things. Some people want them to keep everything (and, would you like to pay for the storage?), or, clean out the tat and maybe make a few bob? Really, what is Vindolanda going to do with 3,000 Roman shoes?

    Yup. Crocodiles can move fast. Here’s a two minute clip from the film, “Lake Placid.”

    I see your golf and raise you … fencing! 🙂 . Yup. My first year of collage, I took half a year of fencing. About all I can remember is the opening stance.

    Invisible fences are like solar. A lot of rubbish from people who have no experience with them. Not even second hand. You can figure you got the “real low down” from your friends in the Big Shed.

    Oh, I do hope our library gets the DVD of “Bellbird.” It looks very, very good. I noticed the review did a bit of a comparison to “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” If it’s even half as good, it will be well worth watching.

    So. Why “Gretel and Hansel?” Ladies first? Women’s Lib? 🙂 . From what I gather, in this version, Gretel is older than Hansel, and more “in charge.”

    Our weather has been what I would consider, nice, but not so nice for summer. I guess the rest of the country is suffering a heat wave. We’re still having days in the 70s and lots of cloud cover. Occasional showers. And it’s supposed to be like that for the next week, at least.

    I really liked the remains of, maybe?, a small stone cabin. One could live quit snug. The pictures of the area around the Ruined Castle were really pretty. We have quit a few places in this country, where you can see evidence of “deep time.” See “The Grand Canyon.” When I used to drive to work in library branches, out west, there was one bit of the road that ran along a cliff face. The strata in the rock was quit amazing. What really gave me pause was that I’m sure it was laid down on the horizontal. But now, the strata plunges into the earth at a steep angle. What geological catastrophe tipped everything almost on it’s side? Glad I wasn’t around when that happened. Lew

  54. Hi Lewis,

    The conspiracy theories surrounding fireworks are a bit weird! You don’t really see fireworks much down here except maybe New Years Eve, but then only in the city (it is summer during that time). Sales of the crackers were stopped decades ago after a few juicy and unfortunate incidents. But before that you could buy them at the local milk bar. Good to hear that H is holding up well under the acoustic onslaught. A very appropriate ear worm.

    Ruby the Kelpie, who it should also be added has a well developed streak of naughtiness, would totally approve of your act. Has there been any word from Susan? You probably cheered her day up, or at least gave her something to whinge about. 🙂

    Scott’s reaction is similar to what I’m seeing here. Dunno, but a certain malaise has set in, although I’d have less trouble pinpointing the difficulties causing the feelings than the people suffering the condition. Some may describe that as being blunt, but I’d like to consider the term ‘honest’ as being more appropriate. Opinions may vary. The Fenton Golden Pinecone is not blue? It is very fancy work, and is the piece made of glass? It is indeed odd that so many businesses are open despite your holiday, and they probably are having to work extra time just to make ends meet.

    Hey, I’ll bet the Roman roof tilers enjoyed placing the tile with the toddlers footprint in an obvious place so that everyone could enjoy it. The convicts did the same thing with bricks.

    Yeah, I get the urge to collect and it is a very fraught topic. The editor once did some work in the old Melbourne museum and it involved cataloguing the extensive collection of Antechinus (a marsupial mouse) which were kept in formaldehyde or it might have been alcohol, I forget. Anyway did the venerable institution really need so many specimens? Dunno. And yes, returning items to their source or dealing with requests to do so can be a very strange journey, that’s for sure. Take the Parthenon Marbles which reside in the British Museum. So, one day years and year ago I’m in the big smoke and walk past a Greek restaurant with a very passionate poster in its window decrying that the marbles should be returned. However, I was left wondering why the poster was displayed for my attention as the matter is not within my purview. A less eloquent description might be: not my monkey, not my circus.

    Exactly, how many Roman sandals does the institute, which may be suffering hard times, need? Certainly 3,000 seems a bit over the top. Of course, part of the great relocalisation is that these sorts of topics which were once verboten, become possible by sheer economic necessity. The collection will not be lesser if the institute can only access 500 shoes.

    Fun stuff, and clearly in the bear versus crocodile, the croc wins. 🙂 I hadn’t seen the film, but dimly recall it, and yeah I thought the crocodile was going to get the upside down guy with the badge.

    En guard! That’s about as far as my knowledge goes. What made you choose fencing?

    My mates had to add electric fencing to their property and that put an end to the dog wandering (and pigs getting into the vegetable garden!), plus one of the two terriers was eventually fatally bitten by a snake. They also have two maremma’s which are very smart dogs and bond to their animals – and they don’t wander. Letting the dogs out one at a time here seems to have fixed the wandering problem. In a pack they egg each other on to new lows. Incidentally, we spoke about the mysterious button man a few weeks back, and there was also a mention that there are wild dogs roaming around in packs in that part of the alpine areas. The suggestion was that some of the disappeared people had been err, taken by the dogs. There are some odd things going on over there for sure, and I never thought twice about camping alone in a remote spot in that part of the state. Of course should I encounter such a person I would act appropriately and not unduly annoy them as some folks appear to have done so. Discernment is the word of the day in this instance.

    That’s what I was thinking about the Bellbird film too, although I can’t seem to find if it is in any cinemas right now. There was some mention of streaming, but I just don’t want to sign up for such things.

    Ah yeah, such weather is probably not good for the garden as the soil won’t warm nearly enough to be able to grow vegetables properly. Hmm. Dunno. Heat waves are not much good either.

    I’ve had to crack out the generator tonight and run it for about three hours to put some charge back into the batteries. We used the electric oven for about four hours today, and unfortunately the promised sun never arrived. Thick clouds reigned supreme! The batteries copped a hiding and so the inevitable almost occurred, but before it did I hauled out the battery charger. Oh well. Twice in a year is not too bad, and in another week or two the sun will be higher in the sky.

    It looks like the remains of a small cabin to me too, and the photo showed what looked like a fireplace. Hey, that happens here too and you can see the geological layers at a somewhat strange and inexplicable angle from horizontal. I hear you about that, nobody wants to experience the true meaning of the word: Uplifting.

    We’ve found a recipe for the food stuff: vegemite, which incidentally you’ve probably never encountered. It looks like a very industrial process involving a centrifuge of all things. We’re making some dark ale and were wondering if the lees could be used somehow, but it looks like the worms will be enjoying them.

    Also I nabbed a new woollen jumper and it has a rather pungent lanolin smell. I know what lanolin is and why it would be left on the wool, but unfortunately few other people would understand the smell, so the lanolin is going to have to get washed out… Bonkers huh, as the lanolin keeps the wool soft and resistant to moisture. Oh well.

    Better get writing!



  55. Hi Xabier, DJ and Margaret,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however as somebody who is super slack, I just ran out of time to reply tonight. Unfortunately I have to write tonight and to be honest I’m not actually sure of the story yet. Ook! There are vague hints and a rough outline, but nothing concrete is forming. I had the idea earlier today and felt confident, but foolishly forgot to write it down – and it slipped away into the ether which might possibly also be behind the couch where lost things generally end up. Until tomorrow…



  56. Yo, Chris – Well, the explosions went on well past 1am. When I brought H back from her nightly walk, and stopped in for the nightly chin wag with Eleanor, we couldn’t even carry on a conversation, due to the noise. Re: the short selection of J. P. Sousa … like Queen Vickie, Susanne was “not amused.” 🙁 . Party pooper! Debbie Downer!

    Sometimes, I get a little impatient with Scott. a.) he’s got a Program and b.) is some kind of a Buddhist. I mean, seriously. Always reading and even “sits” with a group in Olympia. Though that’s off the table. Has a sensei he can refer to. But currently, no face to face, there. I don’t know. I just expect “better” of him. Gods with clay feet, and all that. I think I mentioned that he was an addictions counselor, for decades. And, very good. I’ve seen him in action. Bang! Bang! Bang! Just nails it down and tells it like it is. “Physician, heal thy self?” And I seem to be doing better, just going along on my bumbling way. But, we’re both aware that some of that is because I need far less … contact with other people, to keep an even keel. He’s also lost his couple of times a week meetings, and one on one contact with a couple of sponsees.

    Yup, the Fenton Golden Pinecone is glass. With gold fused to the glass. Fusing any kind of metal to glass is a tricky process, and the mortality rate is high. It comes in two forms … one white satin glass or a light yellow satin glass. I prefer the white. And, no, not blue. I do make a few exceptions. Although most of my Christmas tat runs to blue, this is most decidedly a Christmas pattern. I’ll enjoy it for a few days and then pack it away with the rest of the Christmas tat. I like it, maybe because of the sparkly of gold 🙂 . Or, maybe it’s the pinecone. I’ve always liked pinecones (though they make poor toilet paper). They were a pretty common motif during the Arts and Crafts movement. “Nature” and all that.

    Having many specimens, one can do comparisons across time and space. Launched ten thousand scholarly dissertations. Which seem to be important to … somebody. Don’t know what to think about the Parthenon Marbles. Or I should say, I don’t think about them much, at all. I don’t care. I guess that makes me one of the “bad people.” 🙂 . One should care deeply … about everything. But that’s so exhausting.

    Well, “Lake Placid” was your pretty typical “B” horror movie. As one of the reviewers pointed out, about the only thing that separated it from the run of the mill, was the actress Betty White, with potty mouth. More startling than the alligator.

    The Button Man and disappeared people. So, they’ve gone to the dogs? 🙂 . Seems to be a set piece in a lot of sci-fi and apocalyptic films and books. Heroes confront feral dog pack. Of course, in some places in this country, one could be confronted by packs of wolves. Yup. A lot of stuff out there that might eat you.

    Well, from what I’ve heard, film distribution is in tatters. Also, filming anything that wasn’t already “in the can” came to a screeching halt, which adds great cost.

    Speaking of that which can not be named, I saw an article about Melbourne. Doesn’t sound good. We picked up another 5 cases, yesterday. What, 83?

    Food processing can be pretty high tech. But, you can make your own (cheap) centrifuge at home. FIRMLY tie a rope to a bucket and swing it around your head.

    Well, at least with the lanolin soaked jumper, you won’t have to worry about social distancing. Except, maybe, to other sheep.

    I see where you had a writing idea, and lost it. Behind the sofa? I had a thought the other day, about the Camulod stories, that I was going to mention, and then lost it. Having no sofa, it was, perhaps, easier to find. The thought I had was about Arthur’s ultimate failure (?). And how successful the Romans were, for so long. I wondered if one of the reasons was that the folks at Camulod, just weren’t quit as ruthless as the Romans? And that perhaps it was their Christian leanings that “took the edge off.” Anyway. An idle thought. Lew

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