Behind the scenes

Last week the final key strokes of the blog were completed. The essay was re-read from start to finish, a few edits were made, and then the call went out: “Oi! Are you ready to edit?” It must have been about 11pm on the Sunday night, and the idea of bed had become an appealing prospect. The editor responded to the question in the affirmative.

I particularly liked the title of last week’s blog which I’d totally ripped blindly from a very catchy song from a now obscure 90’s Australian band. It is worth noting that titles are not subject to copyright! And anyway, bringing such excellent rarities to the light of day is a personal goal and also something of a challenge. I sat next to the editor as she read through the 2,000 words of the blog. Upon completion of the task of editing, the editor turned to me and with a searching look of a person who is about to deal a hammer blow. She casually remarked: “Not your best blog.”

Crestfallen is a state of mind that some would wallow in upon hearing such a blistering critique of several hours of their literary artwork. An intrepid blog author however can blithely ignore such words, such folks are made of sterner stuff and critics be dammed. But upon grudging acceptance, the editor might have had a valid point. My initial response was to quip that after six years of weekly essays, you can’t deliver solid hits every week. Anyway, what the heck it’s a hobby and I’m not asking for payment from anyone for the words.

Which reminds me that as an interesting side story, I actually used to get paid to write the sort of essays that can be read here for free. My venue of choice for writing was what might politely be described of as: The hippy press, and it’s various magazines. The writing was great fun and I enjoyed the act immensely.

Of course there were the occasional controversial moments, like when I was invited to write an article on water. Long term readers will probably realise that I enjoy a fart joke as much as the next twelve year old (or an adult with the equivalent sense of humour). I ended up writing a really funny story about water and chucked in the theme of bubbles. The story was not devoid of technical merit as lots of technical and useful information was slipped into the silly story. There is no reason why people can’t be informed and entertained concomitantly.

Who would have thought that bubbles could be controversial? The editor did the photo shot that accompanied the silly article. And the photo was a hoot! So the editor got me to sit in the bath. Now bear in mind that it was late winter and it was freaking cold. So the editor decides to open the window (the bath overlooks the valley) so the accompanying background view could be appreciated. Instructions were for me to smile for the photo. Smiling was a bit far from my face that day due to the more practical side of me screaming that it was seriously cold. We had to work bubbles into the photo somehow, so the editor decides to chuck a huge chunk of bubbles and dump them on my head just before taking the photo. And I had to smile about it all. It ended up looking like some sort of bubble spoof Carmen Miranda photo.

But unbeknownst to the editor and I, it turned out that bubbles were highly controversial. The article and photo were published, and I happily banked the cheque and thought no more about it. The photo is probably lurking around the internet somewhere, and no doubts it will harm my future political career. It is a bit hard to explain after all. But by sheer chance I heard second hand and at a much later time, that apparently the publishing team at the magazine had had a serious arguments over the photo. Some of the team had apparently wanted to put my photo on the front cover of the magazine, yet cooler and senior heads prevailed, and a tried and true front cover (possibly an earth mother type with a chicken or clutch of vegetables to hand) was used instead. My moment in the public spotlight was lost. Alas fame alludes some people. I could have been the cold bubble guy, although now I’ve just typed that, it does sound a bit weird. Oh well.

The thing was, as the years went on I was paid less and less for the articles – even the really silly, yet informative ones. And near to the end of my paid writing career, the long silences and then the last minute demands from the publishers, kind of wore me down. But mostly, the publications couldn’t take the volume of words which I wanted to write. Added to that the number of magazines was in decline. We went our separate ways, and the world was no longer entertained with my silly stories and the occasional bubble-gate incident.

Back to the main story. The editor has been suggesting to me for quite a long while, in fact a few years now, that the story of how this blog came about should be told and provide background to the writing process. So far I’ve resisted, however the editor is a lovely person and the occasional act of indulgence does much good. Also I’ve noted that chocolate works on her too.

The act of creating the words and essays is an enjoyable process. I’m reading the background to John Steinbeck’s classic novel: “The Grapes of Wrath”. An excellent book and written in a really lovely cadence. Honestly I can’t write as well as the classic author does. But then when you read the preface and background to the story, the author appeared to be tortured by his creation. Such an experience is far removed from my reality which is that I usually sit at the desk, enjoy a glass of wine or sake, and just bang on about whatever was on my mind that weeek. The only torture going on here involves photos taken during cold weather, the hint of few clothes and lots of bubbles, and damaged future political careers.

It took three years of prevaricating between the final article submitted to the hippy press and the decision to commence writing a weekly blog. It is hard to be creative when you work as an accountant, and most creative accountants end up in the slammer, so there is little outlet in the professional sphere. However, the loss of the creative process of writing essays and stories, no matter how silly, was felt keenly. The decision was made.

However before commencing the writing process it became necessary to work out a format. The former Archdruid Report weekly blog, penned by the prolific author Mr John Michael Greer provided an excellent format. Formats are probably also not subject to copyright, and the format was ripped off blindly on the basis that the best ideas are usually other peoples! It is a good format, and the ongoing dialogue with readers is a really lovely touch, and the reading and replying to the comments brings me much joy.

It took a while to find my feet, but the blog eventually settled into a three part format: Story; What we did about the farm this week; and Flower images. The flower images were originally animal / wildlife photos and short stories, but after a few months I ran out of new wildlife to photograph. What we did about the farm this week is reasonably self explanatory, although one of the core themes which might get lost in all the background noise of these lazy days is just how much you can accomplish if you work at things consistently. The story component is just me banging on about something or other with some useful old school values thrown in for good measure. In times of decline such as the current craziness, well the old school values have stood the test of time and still work. Nuff said.

The stories themselves are generally what I’m thinking about during that week. It can be a minor or very innocuous incident which can leave me considering just what is the core story, value or theme relating to the incident. Generally I have scraps of paper hanging around and when such an incident or idea occurs, it gets noted down. Then during the course of the week, the idea gets chucked around my head and padded out to something in the order of 1,000 words more or less. And hopefully I can chuck some silliness into the story. The world is a remarkably humourless place these days, and it needn’t be that way.

The blog itself has become something of a training exercise for me. In my professional life I’m often required to explain complicated situations to people, and the art of telling a coherent and structured story on the fly has proven to be a rather valuable skill. Us humans think in terms of stories and narratives, and so being able to do so has genuinely assisted me.

From time to time over the years I have taken on guests posts. There is no pay for me, so there is no pay for them either, although they do enjoy home made dog biscuits. The dogs here occasionally write a guest post and the stories they tell are a bunch of fun. One of my favourites was the now sadly deceased Sir Poopy standing high above the other outraged dogs on the car trailer. He was looking very proud of himself in that particular pose. The car trailer contained Sir Poopy as well as three round raised garden beds. Sir Poopy was overheard speaking to the lesser dogs below him: Three rings to rule them all suckers! And the other dogs were outraged at the display of arrogance. The voices of the dogs are often aggressive and self absorbed, but they do actually care for each other and enjoy the company. They’re simply jostling for position all of the time. Sometimes you can almost hear them saying: “I’m going to kill you. And you are going to die, and it’ll be me that did it. But I guess we can share the bone”. Yes, a complicated worldview. The dogs sure are fun though and they are always up to mischief of some sort. And as they scamper around the farm I imagine what goes on in their heads.

For anyone who is remotely interested (and still reading by now), the blog gets four reviews and edits before being published. If you are going to do something, you might as well do it well.

The administration of the website is fairly easy, although the process has caused me to learn far more about the workings of the internet than I’d otherwise like to. If any SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) providers are reading this, then they need to get the hint and realise that there was no reply to the 50,000 other email offers for marketing assistance. They’re probably not reading… And hackers are a nuisance, but I take internet security seriously and do my best to repel their efforts.

That’s about it really. Onto whatever it was we did around the farm this week:

It’s not every week you get stopped by police at a road block and your identification is checked. The editor and I live in a small rural area that is currently not subject to lock down restrictions, and so the other day we were able to head out in search of gourmet pies and farm gate supplies. We encountered this in the middle of nowhere:

Surprise! A police rural road block due to COVID-19 lock down restrictions

If we were not meant to be there (A.K.A. locked down) the fines would have been epic.

The weather has been flip-flopping between superb and really inclement. The superb days brought often brought early morning fog with amazing colours in the atmosphere:

Amazing colours were spotted in a band above the fog early one morning

There was even a rogue fog wave – think Perfect Storm, but with clouds. If you look closely at the top right hand side of the cloud in the photo below you can even see the shape of a head of a dog:

A rogue fog wave

For a couple of days in a row, the mist was seriously thick and the rain fell.

Thick low cloud hang over the farm for a few days. Solar begone.

The lower driveway was partly widened. Agapanthus plants had grown so thick on one side of the driveway that we decided to remove them.

The much shrunk driveway before the Agapanthus plants were removed

The roots on those plants are massive and we had to use the jackhammer to break up the plants.

The jackhammer was used to break up the clumps of Agapanthus. Ollie helped.

Once the plants were removed, we could see the rockwall for the garden bed. The rocks looked a bit under sized and so we replaced them all with much larger rocks.

Larger rocks were brought down to fix the garden bed wall

The top layer of locally quarried crushed rock with lime was repaired, and the driveway looks pretty good now. This project will continue further at some future stage when a supply of suitable rocks is sourced.

After the some of the Agapanthus plants were removed from the lower driveway

A large rock on the end of the very highest garden terrace was also reduced in size by a third:

Many deep holes were drilled into the very large rock
The large rock was then split apart using the jackhammer. The smaller chunk was used on the driveway widening project.
The now smaller (yet still massive) rock was rolled onto the next terrace down

The section of fencing adjacent to the very large rock in the above photo was also completed. The fencing is quite strong in order to keep the wallabies (a forest kangaroo) out of the garden terraces.

The fencing on the terrace to my right in the above photo was completed

A photo taken from the bottom of the fern gully puts the five garden terraces into some perspective relative to the house and sheds.

The five garden terraces as seen from the bottom of the fern gully

Some of the woody mulch supplied by the nice electricity company was placed around the raised garden beds next to the house. The two sheep dog pups had been busy burying bones in there and had thoughtfully created a huge mess.

Woody mulch was placed around the raised garden beds next to the house. Puppies thwarted.

Onto the flowers:

A Rose flower forms in the depths of winter
Alpine Heath is a very cheery wildflower
This looks like a Plum blossom
Gazania’s are crazy colourful flowers
A very early Lavender flower forms
The terraced succulent garden bed produces plenty of flowers
In late winter the Hellebores put on a show

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 691.2mm (27.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 671.0mm (26.4 inches).

55 thoughts on “Behind the scenes”

  1. Yo, Chris – Thanks for the peek inside your writing process. Maybe the title you should have “borrowed” is “On Writing” (King.) 🙂

    Something nagged at the back of my mind. Yup. There’s an annimated superhero named “Capt. Bubbles.” Don’t know a thing about his origin story. Speaking of animation, I guess there’s going to be a new animated series called “Star Trek: Below Decks.” I don’t much care for animation (and, the trailer was pretty uninspiring) so it’s not on my “to watch” list. There was also something about a spin off from “Star Trek: Discovery.” Something about an even younger Spock.

    But, back to your writing. You know, you’re an excellent essayist. I know you’ve said you’re rubbish, at fiction, but you might think about writing something longer (for publication) in a non-fiction vein. Most of that stuff is deadly, dull, and boring, but, with your light touch of humor, it might be very appealing.

    I will not search the internet for the picture of you blowing bubbles in the tub. Some things that are seen, cannot be unseen.

    Thanks for the reprieve on the wild life photos. Seen one wallaby (or wombat), you’ve seen them all. Occasional guest appearances or cameo roles are welcome, but a steady diet? No.

    The “..amazing colors” photo is … amazing. Another entry into the calendar worthy class. You really should look into some of the National Geographic photo contests. And, other photo contests. There’s filthy lucre, involved. “Shape of a head of a dog.” If you say so. How much of that wine (or saki) did you drink? 🙂 .

    Thank you for hosting this blog, and putting up with the the hassles and vagaries of the Net. It boggles the mind. Or, at least my mind. I’m still trying to figure out how to get photos from my phone, to my computer. Amanda has given me a cable. If I could find the @ symbol on my phone, it might be fairly easy.

    Gardening with a jackhammer. Now that’s a new concept. Another new concept. Rocks roll downhill. 🙂 . That was quit a feat of demolition on that very large rock.

    Yup. You’re a climate zone or two warmer, than here. We certainly don’t get blooms like yours in the depths of our winter.

    H got her bath, a bit of a trim and a good ear clean, today. I’m gentle with her, but firm. And, I keep up a line of patter, the whole time. When I went to trim her poo-poo, so she wouldn’t be dragging around po-po all over the place, she very firmly sat her bottom on the floor. “Look, H. This is just as embarrassing to me, as it is to you. Pretend I’m your doctor.” “Well, fine, Doc. Just don’t take stealth pics and spread them all over the Net. And close your eyes while your wielding those very sharp and pointy scissors.” Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    That doesn’t surprise me about the inconsistencies between states. A similar thing is happening here. The state premier (your Governor equivalent) of the island state of Tasmania may have said something along the lines of: “we have a moat and are unafraid to use it.”

    What did you think of the checkpoint? Surreal huh? It has gotten stranger. Today the editor enjoyed a brief stop at a much larger freeway check point and the military have become involved and the editor was questioned by someone from the army. The word on the street is that the state to the north of here will soon be in lock down as well due to a rising number of cases.

    Yeah, how is your BIL’s restaurants coping with the on again and off again shut downs? I’m genuinely surprised when people attend workplaces when they are sick right now. Talk about not being able to read the room. I guess it’s a skill, and people fear for their jobs, but the fall out is far worse.

    My gut feeling tells me that the international borders will soon be closed. Things are escalating at a rapid rate.

    On a more positive note, and most good stories are meant to end with a more positive and upbeat note aren’t they? Anyway, the timing for yours and Doug’s move was superb and the choice was I’m guessing the sweet spot in the market. Respect. Are you looking forward to getting the chickens back? Yum! I’ve had a few chicken deaths this past twelve months, but some of the chickens were pushing on a decade, which is not bad. I’m down to 11 chickens now, and today they delivered 3 eggs. Not bad for so close to the winter solstice.

    It has been socked in with thick cloud and fog for four days now. How much can a Koala bear?



  3. Hi DJ,

    Mate, the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation had it coming! The fate of such hapless liars was one of the funniest things that I’d read, and the story made a huge impression on me as a kid. I’m currently recording some music off the radio, and once that is done I’ll check out the link. The music is beautiful and haunting. To give you a small teaser: London Grammar – Hey Now (Live UK)

    Hehe! You know I’d like to argue with you about your prescient observation, but you’re right. Something goes wrong every season. Hopefully the season isn’t as much of a problem as the sort of season the Joads in the Grapes of Wrath seem to be enduring. This weeks blog may give you a clue as to what I’m reading right now. It is a real page turner.

    The thing is, as a gardener you weave between the little cracks and nooks and crannies that nature allows you, and just try and rely on a diversity of plants on the basis that something might work! It surprises me that with a world of plants to choose from, our culture leans heavily on a few plants. Such a strategy reminds me of nothing other than the historical potato story which generates so much hot air, even today, and should not be mentioned by its well known name lest people get all out of sorts. And hot under the collar to boot! I have a general rule of thumb which says: Don’t mention the potatoes. Oops, just broke that rule.

    Well yes, it takes one to know one! QED. I rest my case and now victoriously retire from the field. 🙂

    Oh yeah, well that is a body blow from the Spokane contingent, as it never occurred to me to concern my already over loaded brain with the thoughts as to what mud might be made of?

    To quote Star Trek, and like Fight Club the behemoth delivers keen insights into the human condition. Sorry I digress, but to quote a Vulcan: There is logic, to your logic! 😉 Your hypothesis as to the core dilemma in the subject of forest management agrees with my observations on the subject. There is nothing inherently wrong with belief systems as long as they stand up to the test of lived experience, and therein lies the crux of the problem. It would be nice if it were not so, but it is. From my experience it is unwise to take on such a system in a fight, and a much better response to simply go off and do something else and let the belief fail abysmally. If there were any other way…

    Basically it all boils down to most folks not looking at the world around them and wondering at how it came to be. Honestly, it is a blip in time and will eventually correct itself. At the moment the stance pays dividends, and everyone loves getting a return on their investment.

    Speaking of physics, I’ve been recently coming around to the thought that I need to add a small hydronic radiator to the battery room so that the batteries stay warmer during this time of year. When the batteries get cold, the chemical reactions slow. I’ve experienced four days of thick cloud and fog and there are few solar power systems that can withstand such an onslaught. The last two days have delivered about 20 minutes of peak sunlight. Truly bonkers!

    You were wiser than I, as I sat through both Tarantino films and wondered why I had done so. Modifying the once bitten twice shy words of wisdom, twice bitten three times shy has to be the way of it. As they say, better late than never! Well that’s my excuse anyway.

    The easiest way to divert a movement is to get the movement to care for many different outcomes. As our resident physics expert, you’d know something about dispersing energy. 😉 I had a strange insight a few weeks back where it occurred to me that if you care for everything, you care for nothing – the reason being that such an outcome disperses a persons energy and they become ineffectual. That’s life. The movement would have been far smarter to only call for an end to the killing of police and also an end to the extra judicial killings of people by your police. It really is that simple, it is not hard, but people want what they want on both sides of the story and the emotional response has sent the story into total crazy land.

    Uluru is truly epicly massive, and it is the biggest pebble anywhere on the face of the planet! It is even more impressive when your senses are confronted by the sheer enormity of it.

    Thank you, and there is a story in there about the Norman’s and I look forward to reading it. If it is too long, spread the story out over as many days as you think necessary. 😉 No need to rush here.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    There is truth in what you say about the legal profession and that it has become a sort of chicken and egg situation. And as you noted, people with mad cash to splash can invest / gamble upon legal cases via the process of funding the litigation. The dilemma becomes that such possibilities push prices upwards. My one and only brush with that end of the legal system left me with a bill for $1,500 for a barrister who was late to the hearing, spent less than a quarter of an hour in total and by my reckoning, was incompetent. I paid the bill and backed away from the system and suffered the resulting loss. There is no shame in seeking redress and entirely failing to wend and be comfortable with such a system. Such things can eat a person’s life from what I’ve observed. It is preferable to live whilst one can.

    Hey, there was an insurance issue down here on that front too. It was an ugly business and best not to be involved. I have a mate who tells me that insurance was not originally intended to cover so many possible events and he reckons that it won’t do so again in the future. I’m curious to learn how much the house premium goes up again this year. I suspect lots of people are dropping off the insurance story as it is an unseen expense.

    Fortunately the local gardening club is staunchly non-big-corporate. The bloke who set the club up delivers a fine fire breathing sermon on such matters from time to time. He should know, I’m guessing his family seed business was taken over, which admittedly may have inadvertently provided funding for the club. Anyway, they’re a worthy group and I have been recently considering writing to him and asking how they intend to protect themselves from possible takeover by a group with an agenda at some unspecified point in the future. That happened at a charity that I support and the newspaper articles hinted at very ugly behind the scenes goings on. Dunno, but it is probably not a bad idea and I better get onto that letter before the original people who set up the club move on.

    Hey, it gets weirder. The editor was asked to identify herself by a checkpoint controlled by the military and police. Based on the news reports I’m reading, the state to the north will also soon be in lock down. Things were weird and they are getting weirder.

    Down here we’re sort of in the mode of having to officially identify ourselves. There is a thing called a 100 points of identity, and each of the different forms of identification are given a point score, and in order to identify yourself officially you have to get a higher score than 100 points – and the game goes that at least one heavy hitting boss creature killing form of identification must be included in the mix. The check points are on roads and so a valid drivers license (which have clear photos) have to be produced.

    One interesting thing that I recall after the 2009 bushfires was that identification standards had to be relaxed for people who were affected by the fires. Many of the people left their homes rather rapidly and forgot to take any form of identification, which is sort of understandable given the circumstances. That story might not play out so well in your country in future times if things are not good now.

    The Egyptians were an intriguing bunch that’s for sure. 🙂

    Hey, I knew that about the tube stations. There was a film many years ago which had an incident in a WWII tube station as a plot device. It was a very good film, although the film dodged the author’s motivations, which seemed a bit grubby to me. The film was titled: Atonement. Have you seen that?

    Well yeah, the legal niceties of bush fire shelters means that they look like they are officially frowned upon. Better to manage the forest instead.

    Happy bath day H! Fluffies rule! 😉 Don’t forget to let Lewis know that you are the alpha in the relationship. Hehe!

    Hehe! Well with a lack of copyright on titles, it sounds like a great idea to me. But then do I want to annoy or aggravate Mr King? I’m not that kind of guy, so we’ll stick to the current title. Anyway, Mr King might know some ghouls and hobgoblins to send in my direction, so yes, best let sleeping dogs lie and all that. 😉 Glad you enjoyed the story, I have a vague superstitious belief that it is unwise to discuss the writing process, but the editor has been working on me in this matter for years and I finally relented.

    Yeah, Captain Bubbles sounds like a good moniker to me. At the moment it appears to be Boss Fluffy, so Captain Bubbles might be a step up from that spot? Ah, I thought Below Decks was going to be a series much like the Discovery series. I dare not mention the Picard series for fear of reprisals! Oops it got mentioned. Hehe! I’ll check out the trailer.

    Thank you for the kind words. I’ve been about my writing business for almost two decades now and I really enjoy the creative process. Writing is a bit like chatting with me, and it is quite hard to shut me up – as some people have found. 🙂 Thanks for the suggestion. You know when I used to do running for a sport, I was a distance kind of guy. But with writing I’m more of a sprinter for some strange reason. In order to write a distance style article, I’d have to find something that really fired my imagination to take that leap into a different realm.

    But yes, I also wonder why articles are so deadly dull these days. There are so many easy pot shots to take and so many ways to make fun of serious people. To be frank, a few years back there were apparently more students studying journalism at University than there were jobs in the entire country. So besides the serious decline in job prospects in the field of journalism, mate they’re packing dacks and unwilling to rock any boats and so write nothing much of interest.

    No, I was a bit worried that some people would take on the hunt as a personal challenge. Actually when you think about it, the challenge itself to find the bubble photo is a great test to see whether dirt units can get their hands on it. It would be awful to have that image aired when I’m all old and serious and stuff and in power. Gulags it should be noted are handy responses for such purposes. Hehe!

    You have the soul of a poet to realise that stories of marauding wallabies can get dull pretty quickly. Much better to talk about unreasonably-angry-mulch-dudes. 😉

    Had to laugh, from the photos you’d think that I was carrying around a camera all the time just in case an epic opportunity presented itself, but no that stuff is just going on all the time around here. Plus it makes me look like I know what I’m doing with the device. The notoriety of winning one of those contests would be a burden for my soul. Actually there really is a dog head to be seen in the cloud formation. If I get some time over the next day or so, I’ll blow the image up and draw an outline around the cloud and you’ll see it.

    My pleasure. You know it was our delightful regular conversations which convinced me that this blog thing would be a fun activity! 🙂

    I use a USB cable to get images from the phone onto the computer. It seems like an easier way to go than trying to send them electronically.

    The roots on the Agapanthus cluster were phenomenal. I started hacking into them with a mattock and soon realised that only an axe or the jackhammer would do the job. Those plants survive the hottest and driest summers and I can well understand how they do that trick! I was totally chuffed with the work on the rock. I still have to roll it and place it into position – no mean feat as the thing weighs more than I do. Now if only I could harness up Ollie somehow.

    Actually it has been a warm winter thus all of the additional flowers this year. The last four days have been very cloudy and for two days in a row there was only about 20 minutes of peak sunlight. Struggling solar….

    Fluffies of the canine variety have been known to have poo poo issues with their fur. H is clearly in good hands! Really sharp hairdressing scissors do the trick, and it is an interesting smelling job to do. What amazed me was we had to do that with Old Fluffy, and underneath the furry poo mess, everything was pristine. I was expecting a rash or something like that, but no. She was made of hardy stuff.



  5. Yo, Chris – Why I avoid the legal/professional opinion, like the plague. Can I say that, now? 🙂 . I don’t know if you saw any news coverage of the very posh couple, standing in front of their very posh mansion, brandishing guns at marchers? I noticed that they were both “personal injury lawyers.” AKA ambulance chasers. AKA bottom feeders. I only have run into one of those creatures, once. Too long a story to go into, but it involves a small traffic accident. Luckily, my insurance company provided a young sharp lawyer, and it never made it past the deposition stage. The snakes neck was stepped on. Roundly. I helped! :-). I also noticed that the St. Lewis couple were very litigious, frequently suing neighbors, and anyone else that displeased them. Well, I suppose if you have a law degree, you might as well use it? They also destroyed bee hives, at a local school, that was a school project. The children cried 🙁 .

    Seems like everything is getting gobbled up by big business, these days. Seed companies, funeral homes, small food producers, etc. etc.. They always trot out the old lines about how it will be more efficient and costs to the consumer will be lower. Never seems to happen.

    As with your brushfires, when Katrina happened, we were instructed by the library to issue cards, to any refugees, no questions asked. Our county didn’t see to many, I think, but I remember one family came in. When they mentioned they were from New Orleans, I gave them all a round of cards, no fuss, no bother. Of course, I frequently bent the rules a bit, depending on the situation. One day,a lady brought in a little boy, to get him a library card. She was pretty up front about not being his legal guardian. Whose signature we needed. Turns out the poor little kid had been abandoned by his doper mother, and the neighbor had taken him in, until things got sorted. He got his card.

    Nope. Not “Atonement” (which I haven’t seen). It was something older. Almost a drama documentary.

    Yup. You wouldn’t want to stir up Mr. King. He probably has a direct pipeline to your forest’s Little People. 🙂

    Well, the way it works is, you get essays published somewhere, and perhaps some nice publisher will decide to pull them all together into a book. Worked pretty well for Susan Orlean (gosh, she’s a good writer), and several others.

    I’ve never thought you toted around a camera, much. It’s just that you live in what’s called, “a target rich environment.” 🙂 . But what’s amazing (to me) is the number of people that live in similar places and JUST DON’T NOTICE!!!

    Well, if you manage to hitch the Fluffies to the rock, just remember to yell, “Mush! You huskies!!!” Seems to work pretty good in the movies.

    Well, H’s initial cleanup was not done by me. But by professionals, probably wearing haze mat suits. As long as I keep her up to snuff, it’s not an odious process.

    We’re going to have a couple of days of 80+, then cooler, cloudy weather for a few days, then a bit of heat again. Hadn’t thought much about it, but I bet these cloudy days are playing hob with solar. Lew

  6. Hello Chris
    All generator info. passed onto Son. Whether he will do anything about it is however in question.
    All well here but the world gets ever more insane and I am utterly sick of it. Your road blocks are quite something! Here we seem to be bouncing between health and the economy with absolutely no realistic idea as to what to do. I guess that both will crash; the economy first.


  7. Hi Lewis,

    It is never too soon for such humour, although plenty of people will argue with me on that score. They can have their opinions, and they’ll be wrong headed. 🙂 So no, plague jokes are fine by me.

    How good is the word ‘posh’? It is a funny word because it can have both negative and/or positive connotations depending on the context. For example, a person could be proud of owning and maintaining a ‘posh’ something or other. But then at the same time, a third person could suggest that the favoured item is a bit ‘posh’ if you know what I mean – and that would be a put down in some social circles. Your use of the word sounds quite good to my ears.

    To be honest I hadn’t heard of the couple. The thing I always wonder about zombie invasions is that sooner or later people run out of ammunition. The photo op provided great wads of symbolism I’m sure, but yeah. Without the limitless supplies of ammo, people tend to end up on the losing side of that particular zombie versus weapons equation. Before people run out of ammo, the folks are riding high and at the peak of their game. After that awful moment, well, zombies like brains and the zombies don’t seem fussy to me. Actually now that I consider the matter for a bit, can’t say that I’ve ever encountered a zombie story where the sad zombie (a sad-zom or emo-zom film – you heard it first here) was a fussy eater. That could be quite an amusing plot line and make many current food trends look very silly.

    Is there a difference between bottom feeders and grifters? If there is, I don’t see it. Incidentally, thanks to your good self and the continuing literary education, I’ve been using the word ‘grifter’ of late. It really hones in on an ugly part of the human condition. One of the grifters problems is that I can see that they confuse other peoples reliance upon the social niceties with the predisposition towards stupidity, and thus the grifters fall for the trap of hubris. Of course such folks are abusing a commons to the detriment of all around them. Small communities have no room for such folks who would be known by their actions.

    It is funny you mention that, but my local web hosting provider just sent me an email today saying that one of their competitors was gobbled up in the exact manner that you describe. I’ve heard the talk about economies of scale saving money, but there is another school of thought which suggests that acquisitions provide additional brains for the zombies to plunder. The thing is, businesses that provide funerals, or say pizzas, hardly make much margin per sale, and so how the heck does such low margins pay for all the critters in a head office? Mind you I may be stuck in the practical realities of the gritty world that has to make and sell stuff things that people want. There is a part of me which suggests that it is a more visceral place to inhabit.

    You did that kid a solid, although he may never acknowledge the act. The editor has been in my ear about a book recounting tales from Italy post WWII. Those folks were on the losing side, and often doubly so. The interesting thing about the stories was that whilst many claim nowadays that blood is thicker than water, turns out that when the chips are down (we are deep into cliché-ville here, but hang in there with me) turns out people are pretty flexible. But from your story, you already knew that.

    Did you recall what the film was titled about the bombing of the tube station during WWII? It raises an interesting question: What if there is no safe place? Mind you, it is the same question as: What if they’re all bad apples?

    You’ve confirmed my worst fears. I tread warily and respectfully around the Little folk of the forest. Whilst they are not provided with daily fresh milk as an act of goodwill, they get plenty of other good stuff. It would not be nice at all if Mr King used his contacts for evil and not for good! 😉

    Ah, the much mentioned and hinted at book: The Orchid Thief. What an author, that was a deep and enjoyable dive and I concur with your opinion.

    So true. Yup, so true. Doubly said so the words have four times the weighting. Well at least that is how I see the world. To be candid, I do wonder what other folks see when they look at the world around them. Years ago I was introduced to a bloke who made the astounding claim that humans are incapable of constructing aesthetic things. At first the avenue of best attack seemed to me to feign disinterest before eventually piping up and suggesting: “I strongly disagree with the central tenets of your thesis”. Yeah, he remained unconvinced by the direct attack. So he rambled on for a bit longer and the editor and I were becoming increasingly rather bored. Then a bright idea popped into my head and: “I really like your house, it is such a beautiful building.” After all, it was an attractive old Victorian era construction. Anyway he thanked me and agreed, but looked mildly troubled, and all the while I felt satisfied that he’d been publicly disproved. What a carry-on and waste of a day that was. Mind you, lunch was good and when he wasn’t droning on and on, the conversation was fun. All up, I’d call that a win. 😉

    “Mush, you Fluffies!”, doesn’t quite have the same ring to it… The sheep dog pups would look rather put out by the harness. They are individuals and full of their own thoughts, those two. Still, they seem to be able to learn easily enough.

    Hey, I’ve had to also do a similar cutting job on the chickens rear ends, and that is one odious task. That is where you get to find the limits of your gag reflex.

    Oh yeah, the solar is probably not a good story. Four days of thick cloud and mist down here. Not good. Thanks for the saying. Sort of like ‘raising hell’! Never a good experience, as Dante could probably affirm.



  8. Hi Inge,

    Good to hear, and blokes sometimes need to cogitate upon subjects before acting. Generators are useful machines, but they do use rather a bit of fuel. The thick low cloud and misty weather has meant that I’ve actually run about two gallons of fuel through the generator over the past four days in order to get some charge into the house batteries. It is a precarious existence sometimes with renewable energy technologies, but people happily disagree and they are entitled to their opinions.

    The world is a bit bonkers. The army has now been deployed to the check points and the editor has now been twice questioned by a rather bored looking soldier. I guess things could get weirder. I’m tempted to make amusing observations to such official looking folks at check points, but then a person could get hauled away and disappeared for a while. If that happened, the editor would no doubt be very grumpy with me – and it would be deserved.

    I can’t find fault with you argument. Things most definitely are very strange right now. It is possible that something in the back ground has broken and the current events and noise are what can be talked about. Oh well.



  9. Yo, Capt. Bubbles 🙂 – Then there’s Posh Spice …

    Emo zombie film? You got it! “Warm Bodies.” Lots of young folks angst and mooning about, in that one.

    “Bottom feeders and grifters.” Repetition for emphasis. Part of the writer’s tool box. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

    “Economies of scale.” That’s the carrot. The stick is, any savings are not passed on to the consumer. They go to the investors or into the CEO’s pocket. And then you get into monopolies, price fixing, and charging what the traffic will bear. Or, not.

    The post WWII Italian cinema was rich. Any films Anna Magnani or Sophia Loren made, either during the war or in the late 40s, is worth a look. Early Fellini, especially “Nights in Cabiria.” Those films kept art house theaters ticking over, for years.

    It was the Bethnal Green tube station, and the film I saw (I wonder where?) might have been “It’s a Lovely Day.” (1975). Wikipedia has an entry, about the disaster, under “Bethnal Green tube station.” There was also a school. Bomb damage blocked the exits, a pipe burst, and everyone drowned.

    I don’t know. I think “Mush, you Fluffies” has quit a nice ring to it. Bit of an inside joke, but, …

    Well, what do you know. One of the books I picked up from the library is by Barbara Ehrenreich (a favorite of mine). “Had I Known: Collected Essays.” (2020). Maybe what I said about writing essays is ill advised. In the introduction, Ehrenreich talks about the grim prospects for writers and journalists.

    Well. On the virus front, we set a one day record, in the county, yesterday. 12 new cases. That bumps us up to 104. Probably fall out from the demos, a couple of weeks ago. I’m sure there will be another round, from the 4th of July.

    On the local front, Steve, who lives here, disappeared for a couple of days. Turns out he was attending a funeral, for a friend of his that died down in Oregon. Of, you know what. When he got back, they happened to be having a pizza party, out on the patio. Now, I steer clear of Steve … and, functions. But, I was working in the garden and could hear him yack, yack, yacking, at volume. Back when I went to the potlucks, this is the guy that I saw take out his false teeth and set them next to his plate. So, his standards of personal hygiene are rather suspect. Our Magic Food Boxes are coming on Friday. Lots of mix and match contact among the inmates. This does not look good. Lew

  10. @Inge
    I see that Chris has given you good generator advice. I wish we had one of the quieter ones but I’ll put up with the noise if it means saving what’s in the freezer.

    Hope your son gets one for you.


  11. Hi Chris,

    Thank you and the editor for all the effort you put into this very entertaining blog (and the commenters too). The bubble photo sounds quite amusing.

    Good to see Ollie back in the photos.

    The checkpoints seem rather draconian. The only checkpoints I’ve heard about locally are those on big holiday looking for drunk drivers (though technically they’re called roadblocks). Someone usually gets word out that one is planned so people can avoid it. In fact at a evening fundraiser for my old church they announced where one was going to be. Guess they wanted to be sure the members could spend their excess funds on donations to the church rather than legal fees.

    I don’t think my BIL’s restaurant is doing well at all though that’s the case with all the restaurants in town. I think he does quite a good carry out service though. He has a prickly personality that doesn’t help. He also owns a chain pizza place in another town that keeps him afloat. He’s had that for quite some time and it has a good reputation. My sister says they’ll know in 4 months whether they’ll close or not.

    Harvested my first beans and a couple cherry tomatoes yesterday.


  12. Hi Lew,

    I did joke after the covid test that now Bill Gates is privy to all my inner-most thoughts! (At that time, my thought was this test really sucks!).

    Hope you are keeping safe in your neck of the woods, surrounded by people of questionable hygiene! I saw an article the other day saying that old people tend to take the social distancing rules etc the least serious, despite being most at risk. Tired of life? I made it this far without listening to what some health official told me? A general prickliness that comes in some people as they age?


  13. Chris,

    Ollie pictures ! Yessss!!! Good to see him again.

    Your gargoyles look totally fearsome in the fog and mist. They’d scare me away from your place.

    Thanks for the story about how you write. Your bubble picture sounds interesting. Do you have a bubbly personality? Thanks to you, I’ve got Don Ho singing “Tiny Bubbles” as an ear worm.

    What’s with the roses? You’ve got better roses in winter than I’ve got in season?!? Be a few more weeks before our succulents bloom. Hope they’re as good as yours.

    Thanks for the music link! That got Don Ho’s bubbles out of my noggin. Very beautiful and haunting. A bit more raucous, but perhaps you’ll enjoy this Blues Brothers with Cab Calloway?
    Or maybe the Betty Boop version?

    Gardening sure lets you know who’s truly in charge, and it ain’t the gardener. Diversification works. And the veggie not to mention, well, potatoes seem to grow well here, at least until they don’t. 🙂

    Mate, I’ll have to watch myself closely now. That’s twice in a week that something I said blew your mind. That’s not a good thing to do to such a gracious host.

    Another way of looking at the forest management issue, and it agrees with your “…most folks not looking at the world around them and wondering at how it came to be.” It’s about properly identifying the system that you want to work with. You include the forest, the farm and its animals, wildlife and humans. The “pristine forest” folks don’t include everything that needs to be included, such as humans, and the result is not good.

    Hope the radiator works. Batteries don’t like temperature extremes, as you’ve mentioned before.

    We’ve watched several other Tarentino films. The Princess dislikes “Pulp Fiction”, but I like it. She would say that it is very wacko, and I’m crazy, so of course I like it.

    You nailed the energy dispersal issue perfectly. Keeping the movement to those 2 things would’ve worked. Now it’s a cluster. Long retired professional basketball star Charles Barkley, whom I’ve never liked, said exactly what you said, and I had to agree with him so I know something hot froze over if I’m agreeing with Barkley. That is a very good insight, that if you care for everything, you care for nothing! I’d never thought of it that way before, but it’s so true. Well said. I gotta spend some time digesting that.

    Okay, Normans and becoming “local” coming up in my next post.


  14. @ Margaret
    I entirely agree with you about putting up with the noise. I am guessing that Son had the generator when he first returned to the Island in 1997 and was living without electricity. He wouldn’t have had a freezer at the time.


  15. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! That’s funny! 🙂

    Oh yeah, see I’m creatively bankrupt as I’d forgotten about the film ‘Warm Bodies’, which was incidentally very good. Or perhaps it all goes to prove that the idea was good in the first place? Anyway, I can’t shake the image of Nick Frost as a zombie in chains holding a video game controller in Sean of the Dead – so there is a world of possibilities – think Jane Austin and zombies.

    The thing is those grifters and bottom feeder folks are actually around. I doubt they gain much permanent advantage from their actions, but everyone comes across such folks at odd random life moments. Best to give them the impression that there is easier prey out there, and then send them on their merry way. It reminds me of the damage done on ticket machines for public transport a few decades back. Some nefarious trickster came up with the bright idea of pouring acid into the machine which would then jackpot and eject the coins. Now it always amazed me that someone somewhere had enough understanding of the machine itself to know that was the outcome. A curious thing. Anyway the machine would spit out $200 in cash, but cause tens of thousands of dollars damage in the process. Go figure. The ticket machines didn’t last long and were eventually replaced by a different system. The local train station here is manned, but plenty of other railway stations aren’t manned.

    Nobody ever follows up on whether the consumer was actually better off due to the proposed take over. So who knows whether such advantages even play out anyway? It is all a moment in time anyway.

    I haven’t begun reading Uther yet, but it is next on the list. John Steinbeck’s, The Grapes of Wrath more or less fell to hand, and so I figured the Universe was trying to tell me something and I’d better get on and have a read. It is a very quick and easy read. There is something about the cadence and structure of the words which make the story very quick to read. The sentences are very short and concise almost as if the author intended that there be no misrepresentation of the words and/or ideas. It is a brutal story. Dunno, I’m sure smarter brains than mine have written dissertations on the subject. Have you read the book?

    Wow. Well, it makes me laugh when I’m told by serious people that somehow people were more prim and proper in the recent past than the outrageous behaviour nowadays. So at the same time vice cops would have been on the beat, the cinemas were showing ‘Nights of Cabiria’. It’s kind of funny when you consider the irony of it. The film sounds great and I’ll see if I can track down a copy.

    It was a nice touch with the Bethnal Green tube station crowd crush that the authorities hushed up and then appear to have denied the incident. Nice work. It looks like they paid out in the end.

    The Fluffies may have other plans in relation to the harnesses. They seem particularly leery of leads, although they are often not required to use one. Incidentally Ruby took note of us grabbing her by the collar the other day. She’s a smart dog because not 24 hours later I spotted her dragging Plum around by Plum’s collar held in Ruby’s mouth. Honestly, they are up to mischief all of the time, but the two dogs will probably calm down in a year or two’s time.

    There is a school of thought which suggests that Barbara Ehrenreich may possibly be reducing the competition and/or posing the challenge so that other essayists display true grit and determination when entering the fray? But of course having written ‘Bright-sided’, the author may not want to put too positive a spin on the possibilities. Hmm…

    Yeah, that is possible. Hey I was stopped at the checkpoint this morning and ended up having a nice chat with one of the local cops. He was a really lovely bloke and knew the area up where I live. I had to laugh because the cars in front had departed and here is us yak-yak-yakking and you could feel the psychic wall of stress and pressure from the drivers behind me. Still if a conversation is worth having, it is worth having well. I dropped in the amusing line: Mate, you don’t get a car this dirty by living in the city (which by default is in lockdown). 🙂 All good fun. The army guys might not be so pleasant, but I’ll test that out sooner or later. They’re going to be cold at that checkpoint tonight and I noticed that they’d brought up a brazier and firewood from one of the local suppliers.

    Shoot! Well stay safe given the circumstances, and Steve doesn’t sound that talkative from previous discussions so it may not be difficult to achieve. If it means anything, the death rate here is working out to be something around 1 in a hundred, so those are pretty good odds.

    The false teeth incident was a bit dirty. Not good.



  16. Hello Chris
    I don’t know whether or not you and any of the others here look at Vernon or at his you tube videos. I don’t always agree with him but he puts a viewpoint which one doesn’t see that often. He has just recommended that people look at ‘the art of war’ and Machiavelli’s ‘The Prince’ and Napoleon’s strategy and tactics! I have read the first two but am ignorant about Napoleon.
    The grand designs house seems to have caused the break up of the couple who had it built. A possibility which you mentioned.


  17. @ Damo – So, has the cabin fever set in yet? Has Mrs. Damo had to talk you off the ledge? 🙂 .

    Oh, I don’t think old people that do stupid things are tired of life. I think it’s more an “I made it this far, I must be indestructible!” Every time we have a flood here, one or two men in their 80s (it’s always men) drive past a posted flood warning, stall their vehicle, step out, and are swept away. I’d say it was Darwin at work, but, by that age, the damage has already been done. As far as the gene pool goes.

    I think, also, out here in the willywags, they think it’s their patriotic duty to drive past that warning sign. Exercising their rights, as an American citizen, to do as they darned well please. Aint’s no goberment sign going to tell THEM what to do! Lew

  18. Hail, Pullarius! (Keeper of the sacred chickens). Hmmm. That would make a nifty pen name. And, I can see (maybe) where the word “pullet” came from. Speaking about the Romans (we were, weren’t we?), here’s a nifty 12 minute video tour around the Vindolanda commanders house and office.

    By the way, did you ever follow up on that tweet about the stolen ring?

    When I was in retail, we were told to always greet the customer, as, it cut down on shop lifting. I suppose it does, at bit. “I see you. I know you’re here.”

    The zombie genre is the gift that just keeps on giving 🙂 . I’m looking forward to watching that Korean zombie film. Part of my Zombie World Tour. Might take awhile, to get. The hold list is not long, but there are few copies floating around the system.

    Your story about the ticket machine is just another example of why we can’t have nice things. I take it that happened before there was CCTV, everywhere.

    No, I haven’t read “Grapes of Wrath” (I don’t think.) Don’t have to. Saw the movie 🙂 . I thought the title of the film on the tube disaster, was a bit odd. But, reading my “100 objects from the home front”, just last night, I discovered it was a title of a song by Dame Vera Lynn (who died recently). It was a made for TV movie, and I couldn’t find a trailer. But, I did find several stills. Came out in 1975. I’m sure that’s the film I saw.

    Speaking of films, I watched “Current Wars”, last night. Edison, Tesla and Westinghouse. Really, kind of a sketch, but I think you’d like it. All those interesting electrical gizmos. It’s also a bit of a look at The Gilded Age (also a book by Twain. No, haven’t read it.) And the shots of the Chicago World’s Fair are spectacular.

    I keep forgetting to mention that when I was at the antique mall, I spotted an interesting mechanism. A corn husker. All wood and cast iron. Not that big. There’s a hole in the top where you drop the cob and there’s a hand crank on the side. Given the time period, I was surprised it wasn’t more “fancy.” But, I’d guess it was the utilitarian model, for the sensible farmer. I’ll see if I can find a picture of one. The asking price was $225. It has that “ain’t it cool” factor.

    So, Scotsman, what’s all this interest in post WWII Italy? Says the guy who’s neither Roman nor British, but is bonkers about Roman Britain. 🙂 .

    Fluffies: Kids! They just can’t help imitating their parents. Be glad they can’t talk.

    Ah, yes. That psychic wall of stress and pressure. I often feel it at the library. But, it seems a good portion of the population is immune to that sort of thing. Wonder if it’s genetic.

    No, Steve isn’t a quiet one. He can’t shut up. But, mentioning the unmentionable, “7 come 11, snake eyes!” Which is some kind of the game of craps, patter. I think. Seven new cases, yesterday, bringing us to a total of 111.

    I wonder if I’ll be able to see the comet Neowise, this week? As it’s low on the horizon, maybe not. Our trees and hill to the NW. But, I’ll wander down to the NW windows, up here on the third floor. Maybe…

    It was 81F (27.22C), yesterday. Same, same, today. Then a couple of cool days, and then, I think summer if finally here. There’s 92F in the forecast, for over the weekend. Lew

  19. hi Kris
    I’m thinking the grouping of the various law enforcement personnel making up these road blocks should be Called
    “A Cluster Flock”

    I imagine the folks living near by enjoy the bright lights, rumbling of the motor gen sets all night at 1500 rpm , plus a little whiff of diesel exhaust. Although the set up probably can’t stay too long in one locale as the target people probably change their routes as soon as the word gets out by cell phone?

    More later

  20. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 It is a lot of fun, and I really do look forward to the comments and ongoing dialogue with lovely people such as yourself.

    Well, let’s just hope the bubble photo doesn’t turn up and ruin my future political career!!! Hehe! Actually the photo was very silly, but fun, although did the day have to be so cold? Brr! Sometimes when the cold early spring winds are blowing, it is hard to pretend that it is summer.

    Ollie sends greetings and he had a lovely day today running around whilst we cleaned up the surrounding forest. Tonight he demolished a raw hide chew. As a contrast, the two girls slowly chew upon theirs and it takes them days of effort. Not Ollie.

    What a difference half a world away makes. It is not unusual down here to be directed into an alcohol breath testing station. The police have them stationed at random locations and sometimes near to schools – and the results can be surprising. So, you have to blow into a testing machine and if your blood alcohol content measures over 0.05% then, yeah not and good you’re probably about to lose your license for 6 months. They also have drug testing stations too where your tongue is swabbed and tested, although I’ve never been tested.

    Prickly folks probably aren’t suited to the hospitality businesses, although if he wasn’t front of house he might be running a tight ship. Although prickly as a lifestyle choice and for no definable reason is a bit tiring on other people, and I’d probably look for employment elsewhere. With this new round of lockdowns, well they’re doing it very tough. The pub seemed full of patrons, at a socially distanced seating arrangement. The cafe seems a bit quieter but is still doing brisk trade. This area is not in lockdown, but all around us is, so it is interesting to note who are the locals, and the implication is that the oft seen folks who are not seen now must be from outside the area. Interesting. Oh, and the pub had few older folks, in fact the editor and I were among the oldest patrons… Oh well.

    Yummo! Fresh beans and cherry tomatoes (respect as they are early if the world was suddenly spun upside down). Were the tomatoes tasty?



  21. Hi DJ,

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags and greetings! And Ruby has stopped chewing upon his ear for the moment. The dogs ran around and around the farm all day long today (one at a time) as we cleaned up a bit of the adjacent forest. We had an epic bonfire and maybe Saturday morning I’ll spread around the ash, top it with nice electricity company mulch and then add coffee grounds. A heady mix of soil yummies!

    Thanks, and I love those two fearsome guardians. The Chinese guard dog represents the East, and the Gargoyle represents the West, and in fact they are so located. So who would win the cage fight, my money is on the gargoyle, but the guard dog is more solid and if the teeth hung onto a wing and took a good chomp, then perhaps it would be all over for the gargoyle.

    Hehe! You may have noticed that I’m very chatty… 😉 Nuff said! Ear worms, dangerous things. Stay safe! 🙂 Wow, what a voice, Cab Calloway totally nailed the performance. I am amazed at the sheer crispness of his voice and performance, and the crowd lapped it up.

    Audrey II would suggest: Feed me DJ! Your roses would possibly suggest the same thing. I read somewhere that roses are gross feeders and the more you feed them, the better they’ll grow. Compost, lots of compost… The succulents are really liking their new terraced garden. Some of the other plants – e.g. Geraniums, out compete them. Although hiding in one of the garden beds is a cactus…

    Yeah, potatoes (don’t mention the potatoes!) are funny plants that way. There is an old farm around here where the bloke sells potatoes by the sack all year around, and his fields look pretty good to me. I hope he is handing those skills on, as his output has been consistent for many years – and he grows quite a number of different varieties. I hope to move the potato beds soon and make way for the green house.

    Don’t you reckon it is the story that such people (the pristine folks) tell themselves so that they can live where they do and how they do. I tell ya, what I’m seeing going on around me right now is a nose dive of living standards, so pristine folks might get to appreciate a more earthy experience. And hopefully their worldview gets bigger.

    The hydronic radiator in the battery room is an experiment and I hope it works out. The more I know, the less I realise I know about this stuff. Even doubling the number of panels and brand new batteries wouldn’t have survived this weeks weather. Five days of thick cloud and mist from an east coast low pressure system. Not good.

    Pulp Fiction was my favourite too. I noticed the briefcase scene was very similar to the cult film: Repo man. What was in there? Repo man had an alien.

    It never occurred to me either until the other day. To be honest, it is the same story as: You can do anything (or it all). So easily disproved, but the story stops people from doing anything, which is probably the point as it is an overwhelming type of strategy. Not a fan. And it seemed to fit to caring.

    Look forward to it!



  22. Hi Inge,

    I’ll have a look at the website tomorrow. The art of war is excellent, and I have a copy of ‘The Prince’ around here somewhere but have never read it. The word Machiavellian has dark connotations to it. Have you read the words of that text and do you believe that it should be on the ‘to-read’ list?

    I’ve read histories of Napoleon, but candidly his ill fated march on Russia seemed a touch idiotic. Had he run out of places to expend his martial energies? It wouldn’t be the first time in history that happened. He was lucky to have made it back. His army did not fare so well.

    Ouch. There is a word to describe such house building endeavours. It is a useful word when embarking on complex journeys. The word is ‘goal congruence’. Actually that is two words, but my point is not diminished…



  23. Hello again
    As with so many books, I read ‘The Prince’ a long time ago and my memory of it is very sketchy. However I do remember that I thought it had been worth reading at the time.
    If you look at Vernon Coleman’s videos it is probably a good idea to start at the beginning as he seems to be going over the top somewhat. This might put someone off if they hadn’t started with the earlier stuff. As with Mr Greer, he has areas that I don’t care for but much that is very interesting.


  24. Hail Lewis! 🙂

    Who knew? Honestly the word ‘pullet’ is a very odd description for a chicken, so I’m with you on the origin of the word. A slightly older chicken down here is described as ‘point of lay’, although between you and I, we’ve purchased plenty of ‘point of lay’ chickens which failed to live up to the hype. Anyway, I’m not bagging off Pullarius as the chickens have been supplying between one and three eggs per day now. They haven’t been let out into the orchard for a while now… Ook. Their enclosure gets cleaned every day, so they’re not doing it tough. And twice a week they enjoy half a pound of mince meat. You should see Ollie following me and the chicken bucket on the days there is mince meat in the bucket. If I turn my back for but a moment, he whips his snout into the bucket quick as. If he doesn’t sneak off with any mince meat, I make him sit and then feed him some whilst he politely takes it out of my hand. Sir Poopy used to snatch his food, but I am now wondering if his eye sight was not good. But when he chomped down hard on my fingers, it hurt.

    Thanks for the link and I’ll check it out tomorrow. Went to the pub tonight. One must support local businesses in these times otherwise they’ll go the way of the Vindolanda commanders office! True.

    I’m scratching my head and wondering what was the stolen ring? I don’t receive or send, or even read tweets. My memory fades…

    Zombie World Tour. Has anyone gotten around to turning Pride and Prejudice with Zombies into a film. I feel that it might do well. Korean zombie film though. Sounds intriguing. Hope they use fast zombies – fast zombies are scary zombies. John Carpenter’s remake of Dawn of the Dead was one of the scariest films that I have ever seen. It began in the opening scenes and get the scare factor up until the closing credits which showed glimpses of the pointlessness of defeating zombie hordes. One or two, maybe, an army of the undead – I don’t think so. Unless of course your name is Ash and the undead are the Evil Dead. Evil Dead 3 was a very strangely amusing film.

    Why we can’t have nice things! 🙂 You know, I’m just going with my gut feeling here, but the people who poured acid into the machines probably didn’t really think of the machines as nice things. And I much preferred having a station master to deal with and ask questions.

    The movie version of The Grapes of Wrath was meant to be pretty good. Henry Fonda. Might have to add it to the ‘to-see’ list.

    Thanks for the review of ‘Current Wars’. How did you know that I was going to ask that question about the Mark Twain book? 🙂 Those World Fairs would have been great to see. I get to walk around the Royal Exhibition Building most weeks. The park is located right on the edge of the city. I should take the proper camera along next time I go. You might enjoy the possums as they run up to you and try and pinch some food, but they’re not your possums. Fortunately for me that is. The building is superb looking, just beautiful.

    Ah, the editor has been reading books from one of her favourite authors who writes about Italy post WWII. And I get to hear about the stories second hand. Not sure I could live in Italy though as I would have difficulties with the culture, although I respect it. A lot of badgering goes on there and I tire of such tactics, and then might say something regrettable. An unfortunate situation.

    Thanks and I am glad the Fluffies can’t talk. Imagine it: I want this. Whinge about that. Gimme. Ruby is being mean. Hang on a second, I sound like that sometimes. No wonder they are fluffies! 🙂

    No, I get the psychic wall of pressure thing too. You should drive a Suzuki dirt mouse with a huge truck bearing down on you – I get out of the way. But no this time I thought it would be a nice thing to have a nice chat with the policeman as he knew my part of the world intimately. And incidentally I found out something about him this morning, by sheer chance. The world is a small place down here.

    The death toll for the continent is hovering around that number.

    Did you get to see the comet?

    Your weather sounds delightful. The sun shone a bit this afternoon. I’d forgotten what that felt like! Far out there has been a lot of mist and thick low cloud of late.

    Did a bit of a clean up of the surrounding forest. Given the tree-dudes are probably stuck in lock down, I have to do the work they usually do, and there is sometimes three or four of them. Me tired.



  25. Yo, Chris – Not a bad daily haul of eggs, in the dark of winter. Especially as you’ve never mentioned using any extra light. You may remember I had a light on a timer, during the winter. Nothing over the top. The Ladies still got a good nights sleep, But a bit of light longer than the winter’s day. I got three or so, a day, through the winter. The light also helped keep them warm, and was so positioned so that their water wouldn’t freeze.

    How odd. There’s that 7/11, again. 🙂 . That’s when I linked to a series of tweets about the ring. There are pictures. For the record, I don’t like tweets, either. But sometimes a story is so interesting …

    In 1785 a gold signet ring was found in a field near Silchester, England. The engraving was of Venus, so, the owner was probably pagan. Crudely inscribed around the band was the name Senicianus, and a bit of a Christian inscription. So the ring had a later Christian owner. Well …

    Much later, at the temple of Nodens, 80 miles away, a lead curse tablet was discovered. For half the value of the ring, the author cursed one Senicanus, who he suspected of stealing a gold ring.

    In 1929, an archaeologist named Mortimer Wheeler, made the connection. He consulted over the items with a young Oxford don named … Tolkien. Not long afterwards, Tolkien began his magnum opus about a frequently stolen golden ring.

    Yes, there was a movie made of “Pride and Prejudice with Zombies.” A rather silly film, but I enjoyed it. It ended on a cliff hanger, I’m sure with an eye to a sequel. But, it didn’t do very well at the box office, so, I doubt that will happen. I’d say, “Dawn of the Dead” (both versions) are my favorite zombie movies. Probably because most of the action takes place in a shopping mall, and I certainly worked in enough of those. I should say my favorite serious zombie film. “Sean of the Dead” is my favorite silly zombie film. 🙂 .

    Well, the film version of “Grapes of Wrath” is over the top sentimental. A three hankie film. A classic, and well worth seeing, but, I know how having your emotions manipulated, bothers you. So, be forewarned.

    I may (or may not) have seen the comet, last night. Went out at 11pm to do some shopping, so, I took a spin down by the Club. I was hoping the parking lot would be darker. It was, a bit. There was a bit of a “smear” in the spot I should have seen it. One of those, “you can’t see it, if you look directly at it,” smears. Should have taken along my binoculars. Doubt I’ll give it another go.

    I’m almost finished with that book on the British home front. It dawned on me that about half the stuff is ephemera. Last night I got into several items having to do with food production. When the war started, Britain was importing 75% of it’s food. By the end of the war, they were producing 75% of their own food. Quit a turn around. There were entries about gardening (“Dig for Victory!”) and the Women’s Land Army. A lot of people started keeping chickens. But, you had to give up your egg ration, in return for grain for the chooks.

    Well, according to the newspaper (whose motto should be, “Never Long on Explanation”) we had three new cases, yesterday. People who lived in district one and two. But, the State health department is assigning two of the cases to other counties because … well, who knows why. So, officially, we’ve had 112.

    Magic Food Boxes, come tomorrow. Treasure, my precious, treasure! Lew

  26. @Lew

    Unfortunately, the window does not open far enough for me to get on the ledge! It is now Day 8, we are both very ready to move on, but such privilege is for the rich it seems. If you have lots of money, you can be trusted to self-isolate at home – the plebs don’t get that trust, and now have to pay for the hotel as well!

    We get those flood “victims” in Australia as well, perhaps stupidity is a universal human constant?


  27. Hello again Chris
    The compliance of the quarantine practices seem obeyed around my area. The masks are being worn by most. However the new case statistics are still too high for my likes.
    No road blocks though. ?

    I think your writing skills could produce an interesting series of essays covering your journey through the problems of ofF grid Solar energy. You certainly have the credibility and history for it.
    I found a power loss test doc on the Plasmatronics site for 12volt thru 48 volt operation of PL80 controllers. I printed the sheet out to read. Later, I tried with out Success to find it again.
    Here is the heading info if you want to see it, should be able to get it locally from them: Date 17/08/2015
    Model PL80 V216 C3 141052
    Tested by Kristian

    Our summer heat and drought have arrived 97 F today
    Forecast to 100 to 105 F early next week. Yikes!
    May your winter Sun fall brightly on your Farm.?

  28. Hi Al,

    Like your style regarding the road blocks, but for the record I have only spoken with the local cops – and we had a lovely chat. The editor spoke with the army folks, and from her perspective, they seemed rather bored by the deployment. As a cheeky sort, if so confronted I might quip to the army folks: Has anyone ever bumped into you because you are wearing camouflage gear? So if for some reason I don’t reply at all one evening, well, you probably can guess at what happened at the road block!

    Fortunately the road block is a quiet locale with few houses in evidence. Of course that might also mean that my interrogation process is like the old saying for the 1980 Alien film: “In space nobody can hear you scream”. An astute observation for folks so stuck in the vacuum of deep space.

    I’ll test the back road theory over the next week. But until then, it is a heavily monitored situation. It is nice to be on the ‘free’ side of that story.

    Masks aren’t mandatory down here, and there is a school of thought which implies that we don’t have enough such products on hand for the rule to become enforced. Who would have thunk that long supply lines can be an erroneous strategy?

    Anyway, so far down here there are many new cases, but very few deaths. Of course it is easy for me to type that as I am not in a high risk age group.

    Years ago I indeed wrote about the experience of living with off grid solar technology. A quick search of ‘A solar powered life permaculture’ will reveal the informative series of articles. And in the almost decade since the articles were penned I’ve learned even more about this odd technology.

    The Plasmatronics devices are really hardy units locally built (I met the folks who make them) to withstand harsh conditions. They’re constructed so as to continue working in 55’C / 131’F ambient temperatures at apparently full rating. They’re not as flashy as modern devices, but they are as tough as old boots.

    Thanks for the kind words, and the weak winter sun did slightly warm the cool air today, but it was nowhere near as hot as what you were experiencing.



  29. Hi, Chris!

    It may have been six years, but you are still doing a phenomenal job with your essays. Thank so much for keeping up with it. And thank you, editor, for being there, behind the scenes.

    “Most creative accountants end up in the slammer” – a good laugh was had this morning! I am glad that you haven’t been creative in that direction.

    That is a Sir Poopy cloud. What an eerie scene with the gargoyles; I love it.

    My agapanthus is finally growing (planted in February). I look forward to being taken over by agapanthuses, but I didn’t know that one has to have a jackhammer to move them. I don’t have one . . .

    That is a perfect rose for any season.


  30. @ Inge:

    Be sure that your son gets you a generator with a push-button start. The other kind – that we have – has a cord to pull, and it takes a bit of strength. Your son is close by, though, and I imagine that he would start it for you anyway. And keep extra petrol on hand to fill it up.

    Have you ever read P. G. Wodehouse? Very humorous, and very silly, I am reading through my fairly vast collection of him as nothing takes one further away from this world than to visit Blandings Castle, and the rest.


  31. Hi Lewis,

    The chicken enclosure is located in a shady summer locale on the property. However in the winter mid-mornings, the sun shines into the run and enclosure and the chickens dust bathe and do all of the rest of their social stuff, so I suspect that is why some eggs are produced at this time of year. I’d like to suggest that I’d planned the winter sun arrangement for the chickens, but that would be a departure from the truth as I was actually aiming for shadier summer conditions instead. Chickens after all were originally a jungle bird and prefer dappled light, and possibly a seriously hot summer day here would cook their brains.

    Honestly, the light is a great idea, and you used it in a meaningful manner. Commercial egg sheds take your idea to 11 on the dial, but then the chickens are disposed of fairly quickly from my understanding. Surprisingly, chickens aren’t that cold hardy, so your light would have been valuable extra energy during crazy cold weather. I read an account a few years back that someone kept chickens in an area far colder than where you live, and they used long windrows and mounds of compost (i.e. bacterial heat) to keep the chickens fed and warm during seriously cold weather. Brr. It makes me feel cold even thinking about such weather.

    We went to a nearby tourist town (also not in a locked down area) today. It was a very nice excursion and with the lack of tourists the area was super-nice. The sun shone weakly, but the editor and I went for a walk and stood next to a burbling creek and just enjoyed the warmth of the winter sun and stood quietly whilst listening to the sounds of the life in the forest. Lunch was nice too as we had chicken and salad rolls and shared a white chocolate and berry muffin. Yum! All up, I’d call that an enjoyable day. All very simple and stuff. Most of our routines haven’t changed that much, but then we rarely sought out exotic entertainments that royalty a few centuries back would not have been able to command. Folks tend to think that it should be otherwise, despite the current failings of such a worldview.

    Your mysterious ring story has lured me in. Good stuff. The Ring of Silvianus is an astounding story in that the dots could be connected by scholars and sheer chance almost 1600 years later. Makes you wonder what the ring was doing buried in the ground (although it may originally have been attached to the finger of the latter possibly buried owner). It is amazing just how far the sequence of stories progressed.

    Interestingly the Roman name ‘Senicanus’ does not appear to have had a specific meaning. I’ll bet Tolkien was also aware of Wagner’s work too, but may not have been favourably predisposed for all sorts of complicated reasons. But then Wagner appears to have borrowed from the Norse stories of which Tolkien would have known very well. The ring incidentally was not far off in time or location from Arthur. Hmm. As a funny side story, the Rhine Maidens were hotties, and I would not have ever dared steal anything from a water nymph – let alone three of them. Even stealing a side glance might be serious trouble, let alone a magic ring. It will come to no good I’ll tell you!

    Thanks for mentioning the ring, and what a fascinating story, and it makes you wonder how the ‘curse tablet’ story transpired. An ugly business and which possibly reaches into depths of passions that you wouldn’t necessarily want to encounter. For the two to be reunited after so much time hints at potency.

    The name ‘Silvianus’ makes me think of the bottom end of a forest, but that might be too literal an interpretation. 🙂

    Ain’t it bizarre where inspiration arrives from unbidden? And the Magnum Opus also is built upon the towering shoulders of other greats. ‘Twas always thus.

    Oh yeah, Dawn of the Dead was a shopping mall nightmare. And glad that you respect and appreciate both versions. I can watch George Romero’s version, but John Carpenter’s version has me reaching for the remote so that I can switch it off and stop overloading my brain with horror – and also futility. Unfortunately we don’t have a remote control and so the images kept building until the futile ending… Simon Pegg is da man! 🙂 Loved that film too.

    Possibly the visual pathways are more easily emotionally manipulated than my reading brain. I’m not finding the Grapes of Wrath shocking, but then I don’t have great faith in the system in the first place. The editor and I were discussing this very topic earlier today. We both were declared surplus resources back in the early 90’s and the shadow is hard to shake from that experience. But then, the upside of that is that we have acted conservatively since then and here we are today. The fall out from that realisation of sudden redundancy is now playing out all around me in society – and the wailing and gnashing of teeth is almost audible. I have this hunch that umpteen years of continuous growth did few people any favours for when the fall occurred just recently, it was brutal. I know people both younger and older than I who never experienced that ‘world falling out underneath them story’ back in the early 90’s, and previously they did not believe me. Now they don’t believe me when I suggest that the recovery took something like seven years, and this time around I’m not sure what will happen due to the Limits to Growth. A lot of folks are waiting to wake up one day and find the aircraft flying again.

    Hehe! Nothing is open down here in the nearby towns at 11pm! 🙂 But in the big smoke I used to enjoy late night shopping too due to the fact that it was quiet. I’m sure the staff used to think that we did shift work, but no – just enjoyed the quiet time.

    Your comet sounds a bit like the Andromeda Galaxy which can be seen clearly here on moonless nights but without any great clarity. A light smudge is a good way to describe how it appears here.

    What a good idea about giving up eggs for grain rations during WWII. A sensible idea. Turning grains into eggs is really a form of food preserving and energy concentrating. I’m feeling a bit guilty as I’m meant to be looking into putting in a seed order for the next growing season where hopefully the greenhouse is constructed in order to raise the seedlings. You may note that there are a lot of ‘ifs’ in that previous observation.

    But yeah, I tend to feel that people will become more interested in producing food when they get hungry enough – and I doubt that they are at that point yet. The longer the learning is left, the harder the fall will be. As an interesting side story, a guy I know is a gym junkie and over the past few months he has halved in size – to the point that I didn’t recognise him the other day when I encountered him by chance.

    What an amusing motto, and it so perfectly describes our modern news media. Unfortunately, they do appear to be long on emotion.

    Did you find a magic ring in the food boxes? 🙂 One never knows. Hehe!



  32. Hi Pam,

    Thank you and I shall pass on your lovely words of thanks to the editor.

    Oh no! As an amusing side story, I have taken over an accounts team after a ‘creative accountant’ had been up to mischief. Turns out he wasn’t as creative as he’d thought. In fact it looked pretty stupid to me, but then I have my head around the detail of accounts – which I won’t bore you with. But the accounts team was a major disaster zone and also one of the final places I worked with in the big bad corporate world. Still, I left them in far better shape (and with better systems) than when I began and yeah, strange days that was. Certainly the owners and managers had possibly believed they knew more than they did, whilst also taking their eye off the ball. A dangerous combination, but there it was.

    You are astute to see the ears, head and snout of a proper fluffy in the cloud. Hopefully Sir Poopy is keeping watch over the farm and his mates.

    How good is the Gargoyle? That was purchased by sheer chance during the early days of the current bout of society wide strangeness. A flat tyre (tire) on the car was involved. Possibly the purchase was meant to be.

    Good luck with the Agapanthus, and hopefully you planted it in the right location. Anyway, they are super easy to replicate once you have a clump growing. Like Rhubarb, you can hack off a chunk of the root system and some leaves, replant it and you’ll get another plant growing. Yours might not flower this year, maybe next year or in its third year. They are long lived plants and take a while to flower. But then they will produce reliable flowers during the hottest and driest summers.

    In a bizarre true story I mentioned to a local the other day that: Everyone needs a jackhammer. Now of course the reply was not as enthusiastic.

    Can’t wait to see what the roses will do during summer!



  33. @ Pam
    My mother had lots of P.G. Wodehouse’s books so I read them in my teens. I loved them. I also recommend the Wooster and Jeeves episodes which we had on television.
    It is Son who will have to have the generator so I won’t be dealing with it. My electricity is just an extension from his and he has lots of freezers. I only have one and in the event of an electricity cut off could just parcel up my stuff and add it to one of his freezers.


  34. Yo, Chris – Oh, that sounds like such a nice day trip. I think I need a vacation. The last couple of days, I’ve been irritated with everybody and everything. But, as I’ve discovered, my moods, good or bad, come and go. “This too shall pass.” 🙂 .

    Connect the ancient dots is a fun game. Prof. Mary Beard once traced a fellow, following inscriptions. From his home town in north Africa, to military campaigns across the Danube. A stint as a governor in Britain. And then, a quiet retirement back in his home town.

    I always thought the Rhine maidens were a bit … zaftig. But, perhaps that has more to do with opera, than with real Rhine maidens?

    Well, “seni” is a form of Latin “six.” “Canus” means ancient, old, wise and snow capped. I suppose a reference to “snow on the roof” in old age? Make of it what you will. But, my mind also drifted to naughty bits when I first saw the name. 🙂 Thank you Mad Magazine.

    Our Safeway is open til 1am. But most small businesses here close at 5 or 6 o’clock. There’s an old American saying, about small towns. “They roll up the sidewalk at 5 o’clock.” I also like shopping late, as there’s not many about.

    During WWII, chickens, rabbits and pigs were raised for meat. Usually, with the pigs, several families would contribute their kitchen scraps, for a share. Not mentioned in this book, but in a history of The Women’s Institute, during WWII they lead drives to harvest wild fruit and berries, out of hedgerows, to bottle into jam. As an organization, they got extra sugar to pull that off.

    There was a bit about what they did with the rubble. Rubble from London was used as foundation for RAF runways. Birmingham’s rubble went for American air force runways. But the really interesting story was Bristol. They used their rubble to provide ballast for supply ships heading back to America. It was dumped along a section of the NY waterfront, and became the fill to build a whole neighborhood on. Bristol Bay, N.Y.. Cary Grant dedicated a plaque there, in the 1970s, as he was from Bristol, England and had lost several relatives in the bombing, there.

    Well, the first Magic Food Box turned up this morning. A package of frozen bacon (will I ever get around to the quiche?). A four pound bag of cane sugar, which we haven’t seen in a couple of months. A couple tins of tuna. A box of cereal. A roll of toilet paper (!). A quart of shelf stable milk. (Eleanor uses that). A jar of strawberry jam and one of peanut butter. The usual mix tinned fruit and veg. A box of Jello pudding. Oh, and a small bag of shelled walnuts. A box of mac and cheese. Most of it I’m taking to the Club, or, down on the swap table. I kept the Jello, diced tomatoes and chilies, some beans. That was about it. Wonder what will be in the afternoon box(s). That’s when we usually get produce. Lew

  35. Chris,

    So, you’re feeding your soil a mix of ash, coffee grounds and Electric Mulch. Doesn’t Electric Mulch sound like a band or maybe a superhero? “Electric Mulch Meets the Zombie Horde”. Or maybe “Electric Mulch and the Zombie Horde Live at Met.”

    Okay, I get it. The 2 guardians exemplify “east is east and west is west”. I bet you’re hoping that “never the twain shall meet” also holds, which if they did meet could become quite cataclysmic.

    Ok, a good feeding of the roses might help. Where’s that Electric Mulch gotten to?

    What was in the Pulp Fiction briefcase? Much interweb space has been filled and much ink has been spilled on just that question. But, I know the Answer. It is bright. It is shiny. It is precioussss. Yesss, it is nothing more than the precioussss Ring of Senicanus.

    Ok, Normans. They looked down on the English. They really looked down on the Celtic peoples of Scotland, Ireland and Wales. Although Henry the First DID marry the daughter of Malcolm Canmore of Scotland, it was because 1) she was daughter of a king and 2) she was the daughter of Edward the Exile who had a great claim to the throne of England as the grandson of Ethelred the Unwise. Marry the heiress and it solidifies your position.

    Meanwhile, the Celtic Fergus of Galloway married an illegitimate daughter of Henry I. A few generations later, Llywelyn the Great of Gwynnedd in Wales had an illegitimate daughter of John I as a wife. No heiress for the backward Celts, as the Normans couldn’t have the Celts trying to lay claim to England!

    Meanwhile, on the knight and lesser nobility side, Normans married English heiresses to solidify the Norman ownerships of once English estates. Other than that, the Normans married Normans and other French speakers brought over as allies of the Norman kings. Within a generation or 2, there was no more marriage between the peasant English and the Norman overlords.

    The Normanized areas of Wales followed a similar path, but not quite as rigidly, as the Welsh ruling class was never obliterated by the Normans. Thus, there was extensive intermarriage between Welsh nobility and English magnates, yet there wasn’t really any Norman assimilation in Wales until a few decades before there was Norman assimilation in England.

    Scotland was a bit different, in that David I of Scotland had spent a lot of time in England and brought a plethora of Normans with him when he became king. Again, the Normans married local heiresses and most of lowland Scotland was eventually held by the sons of these Normans. However, many of these landowners quickly became more Scottish than the native Scots, and their younger sons often married “beneath” the nobility, so, outside of the Highlands, there was some assimilation of the Normans.

    What changed things in Wales and England? Time and the advance of the mercantile class. Eventually there were enough landless younger sons of Norman nobility and no Crusades to send them on, so they married up and coming women of good family, meaning they’d gotten some wealth somehow. The assimilation by the lesser nobility in Wales and the Welsh border areas was in full swing by the beginning of Tudor England in 1485, 4 centuries after the Norman Conquest of England.

    I think I’ll do another installment with some brief family histories to use as an example: Tudors, Rhys ap Thomas, Owain Glendower, Roger Mortimer son of Ralph, are some key names here to show how the assimilation eventually hit the common folk.


  36. Hi Inge,

    In between all of the news and comments you may have noticed that last week down here we had an epic East Coast Low pressure weather system which left me in mist and thick cloud for five days. Not good for power generation from the sun. However, on the east coast of the continent the waves reached something crazy like 10m / 33ft, and the erosion has to be seen to be believed: Buildings partially collapse after another night of raging seas on the NSW Central Coast

    Your husband was wise to have removed your house away from the coast line. The ocean eats all of the periphery.



  37. Chris and others
    Whenever I see the word ‘mulch’ I think of Mulch Diggums in the Artemis Fowl novels.


  38. @ Inge:

    I love the Jeeves and Wooster TV series. They did an excellent job with it. The Agatha Christie “Poirot” series with David Suchet is excellent, also.


  39. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, I hear you about the moods. For me it has to be personal to really get under my skin. Mind you, there is serious talk down here about moving to stage four restrictions – whatever that means. But like you, I take a: ‘this to shall pass’ approach. However, it does take me some time to absorb such poor news into my worldview. The ability to adapt and remain flexible during such fluid times is a worthwhile trait to cultivate. The ancient curse regarding ‘interesting times’ seems to be playing out right now in the flesh. Still things could be worse.

    Thanks for the new word, and being from your part of the world I’d never heard of it before. I’m not seeing that with the many artistic interpretations of the Rhine maidens. Possibly it has to do with opera singers which are by and large not sticky chickens like myself. Anyway, should you ever encounter a water nymph, I dare you to voice your opinion. 🙂 The odds it should be noted are hardly in your favour. Mind you, three of them lost the ring, and so they might not be as powerful as one of the elder folks of the forest. Hey, cheeky old Alberich looks like the wild man of legend. What is your take on that? Most certainly it is a recurring theme.

    A detective hat was placed on my noggin and the task was laid before me: How did such a noble and indeed venerable Latin word end up describing an important part of one’s rear end in English. Well, after much searching I can reveal little for the wasted time. However much incidental knowledge was gleaned such as this English doggerel:

    Latin is a dead language,
    As you can plainly see.
    It killed off all the Romans,
    And now it’s killing me.

    The cheeky student sure did know their stuff!

    It is nice to shop when there are few others about. This is incidentally my main strategy with cafes. I’ve observed that customers arrive in waves and the patterns are uncanny. The sweet spot is defined as the mid point between one wave of customers retreating from the establishment and the next arrivals. You heard it here first! Anyway, the other day I was at the local cafe when two young ladies were speaking at volume of an elderly relatives experience with palliative care and subsequent offers of grief counselling. Surely the two ladies could have spoken more quietly? I dunno about you, but such discussions are personal and not meant to be shared in public with strangers. Fortunately a delivery truck turned up and the idling motor drowned out the embarrassing discussion. I honestly wasn’t sure how to feel about it, if only because I’ve never encountered those two before and was just trying to quietly read The Grapes of Wrath. Perhaps my quietude was an affront to them somehow?

    What a wonderful rabbit hole you lead me into with talk of the activities and organisation of the Women’s Institute during WWII. I truly enjoyed reading the background stories, and the contrast with today is bleak.

    Cary Grant was an interesting bloke. He had a lot of good qualities, but clearly may have had some relationship dramas. I respected his final choice. Dunno about your experience, but over the years I’ve seen people brought back from the brink, and it is not pretty and sometimes does not end well.

    What is with people bad mouthing quiche? Phooey to that, bake it, eat, you’ll love it and wonder what all the hoopla was about. People can talk a whole lot of rubbish when it comes to food! Nice score with the cane sugar and I was wondering where the Women’s Institute during WWII may have gotten their hands on that stuff which clearly would not grow in the UK. It doesn’t grow here and I’ve tried several times.

    Good stuff, and in these times your Club (and downstairs – presumably – on the swap table) is a top idea for the excess. People are doing it hard.

    Speaking of that I moved a very large rock into a very deep hole today. It was an epic job, but slowly, slowly. Today, epic large rocks, maybe someday Stonehenge sized slabs of rock? I’m feeling it tonight. It looks like the weather is set to turn tomorrow and the rain will return.

    Placed my seed order for summer vegetables yesterday. I’ve included many leguminous plants of the pea family – I eat a lot of lentils so I might as well grow them. Plus added to the genetic diversity of the seed stock here, and also managed to score some mild chili’s.



  40. Hi DJ,

    Very funny! Definitely a band name. 😉 Forgot to mention that I’m also adding the soiled chicken bedding onto the heady mix. All that stuff speeds up the process, but it still takes plenty of years before the soil gets really good.

    Today I had to dig a huge hole in order to drop in the massive rock unearthed last week. Some jobs you think will be quick, and then there is dropping huge rocks into huge holes, and then having to get the rock sitting just right in the hole. It didn’t end up looking like I thought that it would, but it is now good enough and the top of the rock only slightly sticks out of the ground now. Like a mini shark fin on the edge of a garden terrace. The huge rock is being used to shore up the end of one of the garden terraces.

    Far out, that is the plan with the two statues – although I have no hand in how that matter will play out. I see that Australia may be allowed to play with the US, India, and Japan in their naval exercises. Things are certainly heating up: Australia likely to join Malabar naval exercises with India, US, Japan as part of China ‘containment’ strategy.

    Good luck with your roses and I’m curious to hear how it goes for you with the feeding of electric mulch, or more properly compost and/or manure. 🙂

    Chucked more coffee grounds over the area today. We went into the adjacent forest and continued cleaning up. Do you know, it is actually starting to look right in there. And I’ve noticed that a number of local herbs and mosses are now growing in there with the extra light and lower competition. If I remember I’ll take the camera up tomorrow. But far out I’m tired tonight.

    The Ring of Senicanus is a pesky fetish which possibly has some serious mojo. Would you put it on your finger? Not sure I would, as clamouring for one’s preciousss might become a bit obsessive.

    Thank you very much for providing further details as to the Norman’s. It is a subject that is of interest to me because as a group they disappeared off the radar after a while, but I have my doubts that they went away. And interestingly, when I was younger you’d hear the words: ‘Anglo-Saxon culture’, and that hardly seems to accord with reality and history which is far from an homogeneous origin. So again, thank you and I look forward to your next instalment.

    It always surprises me that the UK has so little forest cover. I was just poking around on the satellite image which shows a lot going on, but not much in the way of forest coverage.

    Put in my seed order for the coming summer. We save a lot of seeds, but with all this extra growing space, well, we can grow more stuff. Of course, the greenhouse project is calling out to be constructed so that the seeds can be raised as seedlings. If we go into more serious lock downs here, I may have to drop everything and pick up supplies for the project. Oh well. How are things going with you on that front?



  41. @ Chris
    I always understood that the UK’s forests were decimated by ship building for the navy.


  42. @DJSpo
    I think that the Normans intermingled thoroughly with the lower classes too. I had Norman ancestors in Ireland with the name Roche
    and my husband ditto in England with the name Ruse.


  43. @ Damo – Well, that’s the pits. I heard about charging for quarantine, but hoped you’d squeeked in, under the wire. Can you at least write the toll off your taxes?

    I started watching season12, of Dr. Who, last night. It’s ok. But just ok.

    We’ll take up a collection, and send either the “Mission Impossible” team, or “Charlie’s Angels” to break you out. We’re waiting for the bids to come back. You can rappel down the side of a building, can’t you? Lew

  44. @ DJ – Packy Poo is supposed to be the best mulch for roses. According to the rose mavens in Portland (City of Roses.) Reminder: put an elephant on your shopping list. 🙂

    That was a great discourse on the absorption of the Normans (or not) into the hurly burly of British History. Kudos. Lew

  45. Yo, Chris – Well, we had 10 new cases, in the county, yesterday. I think that’s a one day record. I think it’s the beginning of the fall out from the 4th of July, holiday. There’s talk about going back into a tighter lockdown. Don’t know if that will fly. We have a factory outlet complex out on the freeway. Been there for years. I hardly ever make it over, that way. But, someone who was there recently said there’s a lot of empty spaces, as retailers are pulling out. I can’t remember there ever being empty spaces. Someone knew someone who worked in a vitamin store there. The staff was only given three days notice, when they closed it. Most of those stores are parts of national chains.

    Alber, who?

    Oh, that bit of doggerel has been around for a long time, though I haven’t heard it in awhile. I think our teacher recited it to us, on the first day of my two year stint of Latin, in high school. Miss Carson (descended from frontiersman Kit Carson) assured us that it wouldn’t be that bad. And, was true to her word. She was an elderly lady, who was bright as a button, and really made it pretty fun. Or, as fun as learning Latin can be 🙂 .

    Poor Cary Grant (aka Archibald Leach). In his personal life, he really couldn’t be true to himself. Hmmm. Are stories gossip, if they’re true? A journal recently surfaced by your native son, Orry-Kelly. Who later became a famous Hollywood fashion designer. Back in their salad days, they shared digs in New York City. And were what was then delicately called, “an item.” They both went out to Hollywood, but Grant dumped Kelly, and took up with Randolph Scott. The studios pressured both Grant and Scott to marry. To squelch rumors. No wonder some of the Hollywood stars were such a mess.

    Maybe the young ladies at the cafe were partially deaf? Too many raves and rock concerts.

    Oh, I’ve made quiche, before. Just not in awhile. I even had a version I called “Poor Man’s Quiche.” Cheaper ground pork instead of bacon and cheaper cheddar cheese instead of Swiss. Still very tasty. Back when I was in the book biz, a little “comic” book came out, that we were supposed to place at our POS (point of sale, aka cash register) as an impulse item. It was called, “Real Men Don’t Eat Quiche.” It outlined all the things a bloke shouldn’t do, in order not to loose his bloke bonafides. Pull his union card, or something. I remember some women’s magazine advising, if you serve quiche to your he man at home, to just call it “cheese pie,” and not the dreaded quiche.

    Well, the Women’s Institute was run by Dame This, or Lady That. They had pull. They “knew” people. So, they got their sugar. And, more power to them. Sometimes, clout is used for good.

    Well, we got THREE food boxes in the afternoon. Some stuff we’d never seen before. A gallon of 2% milk. A pound of real butter. A bag of frozen sweet potato fries. 2 bags of potatoes and a bag of onions. I even had a small bottle of pesto (!) in my box. And, a block of swiss cheese. All the more reason to make that quiche. And, the usual tinned fruit and veg. It’s odd what we’re not seeing. We were awash in garbanzo beans and diced tomatoes. Every month. Not a single can of either to be found, this month. But plenty of tomato sauce.

    Well, if your going to build your own stonehenge, maybe best go with cast concrete?

    Well, here’s a little something that you might either find amusing, or maddening. Maybe both. “16 Inventions to Get Us Off Fossil Fuels.”

    It’s about 12 minutes, long. I thought some were silly, and some, mildly interesting.

    I’ve been getting a few e-mail reminders from the seed companies, that it’s time to order seed for a winter crop! I suppose I should pay attention. I harvested some peas, yesterday. Haven’t given them a try, yet. But I’m going through the old “space vs yield” rumination. I don’t think there will be enough to put by for later. Lew

  46. Hi Lew,

    We did just scrape through on the “hotel” charges – so thankfully the enforced confinement does not also come with a financial penalty! Escape plans have already been discussed, ready to implement at the first sign of zombie outbreak.

    Got the second “swab” today. I paid close attention when they did Mrs Damo – it just looks so wrong how far up a stick can go in your nostril! Oh well, worse things happen at sea 🙂


  47. Hi Inge,

    Ah, well that is indeed one reason for the decimation of the forests. However, another perspective is that the forests here were seriously logged from the gold rush era 1850-ish to about 1960. And despite that continuous logging activity, on my property alone I reckon there are about 10,000 trees, and possibly far more – some of which reach over 165ft. Admittedly, plants might grow faster here than where you are. But all the same I can look to the horizon and see great swaths of trees. An adventurous possum might travel from here to the horizon (assuming the marsupial survives crossing the roads).

    What started me thinking about the story was that I took a look at the satellite photos of Wales and the UK and I saw much cultivation and neatly divided fields, but few trees.

    It is not lost on me that ship building with timber ended a long while back.



  48. Hi Lewis,

    In a brief moment of shock, the authorities have now mandated that masks must be worn at risk of a fine in the big smoke and also in the adjacent Mitchell shire council area. I find myself in an area of sanity, but surrounded by imposed strange behaviour. A friend of mine describes the compulsory wearing of masks as the display of a symbol of much larger and greater meaning. The long descent and long emergency is a strange place to exist. I really try to tend to reach for the middle ground and whilst not wanting to be exposed, it is not lost on me that I’m not in a high risk group. The thing is, the folks in high risk groups seriously need to exercise caution. I’m now being asked to pay a price though, and I’m unsure what benefits I gain from paying that price, and what are the high risk group giving up in return for the price I pay. That story has not been explained to me. Instead a new story has been told that the long term consequences are not well understood. It is an impressive feat of narration.

    The commercial landlord situation has gotten quite fraught down here of late, so your factory outlet story does not surprise me. On a bright note, it may result in a lower cost base in future – but the pain getting there will be epic. Down here, the current lease protection provisions last until the end of September. Tenants are getting discounts and equal amounts of deferred rents. It is a story that may play out in many strange ways. I did mention to you a year or two back that a very wealthy family down here sold out their interests in shopping malls – which they may have built their wealth upon. Some Europeans look like they may have bought the interest. I suspect that pennies on the dollar might be the result of that story, but I don’t know and am just guessing at future events.

    Alberich, that’s who! A wild man?

    Hehe! You got lucky there with Miss Carson and your education in Latin diction. I’ve struggled learning languages because before any confidence is built through the use of basic phrases and simple words, the books generally get stuck in aspects of structure. I’m reasonably certain that I did not learn English – either written or spoken – by first learning that such and such a word is a Verb, whilst the other is a Noun. Understanding such structure is not how a language is learned, but it seems like a constant method of teaching. Not sure why that would be.

    That is a tough question about the difference between gossip and stories. In my reply to Pam I mentioned encountering a situation where a creative accountant had been up to mischief, and I had to come along afterwards and sort out the mess left behind. That bloke had a photograph of him and his training buddy, which upon seeing it made me question some of his story. To be honest I felt sorry for him and his family and had a vague hunch that he had done what he had done because he was motivated by internal conflicts which were unresolved. That however doesn’t excuse the mess left behind though, but even that may possibly have been a cry for help. Dunno and it is all just guesses. I guess Mr Grant had to work and earn a crust like the rest of us, and that may have been the price.

    Haha! Well, you might be right there about the young ladies at the café being deaf, but I do note that discernment is not taught these days.

    Hey, the poor man’s quiche sounds pretty good to me. I like Swiss cheese, and slow cooked pork is a very tasty meat. Yum! What? Real men with proper bona fides probably aren’t yet hungry enough if they can turn their noses up at a well prepared quiche! 🙂 Too bad, so sad for them, and more for us.

    Talk of Dame this or that, reminds me that the Open garden scheme down here used to have an actual Dame for a patron. From my perspective and as a wild guess, after the Dame passed on, the scheme fell into disarray and has become but a shadow of its former self. Have the wealthy down here forgotten the concept of Noblesse Oblige? Possibly so. That story won’t end well for them.

    Your magic food boxes sound superb and full of good stuff. Well, with the shut down of the restaurant industry, farmers are wondering where to sell their fresh produce. And perhaps that story is part of your story. Is there anyone you can ask about the mystery?

    I don’t think so about the cast concrete. I already see those panels about the place with hairline cracks. Not good. You may note that I pour my own concrete down here from raw materials and use rocks instead of reinforcing bar.

    The business insider article was amusing and I admire their faith in technology. If that is the best on offer, then mate it ain’t good. 🙂

    I too suffer from the space vs. yield conundrum. Basically it means pulling out perfectly good plants, and more importantly not letting them run to seed so that you can save seed for the next season. A lot of farmers nowadays buy their seed in order to address that yield issue, but really it simply runs the soil minerals out faster.

    Better get writing!



  49. Hi Lewis (cont)…

    Sorry I forgot to post a link to this fascinating article on disappearances in our high country (we’d spoken of the button man before): Without a trace.

    As a few wild guesses:

    The couple – I doubt button man did them in. The bloke in the couple appears to have some rough edges (the facts speak for themselves) and his drone spotted something very anti social that it should not have seen. And events progressed rather quickly.

    The bloke with the headache – Well, years ago I had a depressive neighbour who died in a bushwalking accident. Nuff said.

    The young bloke – Years ago I was walking in the high country of Tasmania. The morning began bright and sunny, but by late afternoon the editor and I were in full cold and wet weather gear. And we encountered a guy and his girlfriend in shorts and t-shirts who asked us about where the next hut was located. We told them in no uncertain terms to go back to their car, but they didn’t listen. Hypothermia does strange things to a persons mind.



  50. Hello Chris
    Late comment
    Thanks for the location of your excellent articles from the past series on your solar journey. Just what I was looking for!
    Number 1 thru 5 are there. skips to 9 or 10. Good “Chris Style”.

    The reason I gave the reference to the PL 80 power loss test doc was to help with solving the internal power loss readings in the charge controller operation you mentioned In previous comments. If you already have the info, great.

    If I was considering a Solar Installation Plasmatronics would definitely be a choice. My type of electronics. Simple and reliable! ?

  51. Yo, Chris – Don’t you know? Masking up is a satanic ritual. I know that’s true as I read it on the internet. From our local newspaper …

    Sounds like just about every whack job in Spokane turned out for the event. Poor DJ! I don’t think I’ve ever read so much cognitive dissonance, in one article. We had another 6 cases, yesterday. Up to 131. There won’t be a count, today. Apparently, the virus takes Sundays, off 🙂 .

    I know you’re sensibly careful, and have no underlying conditions (that you’ve shared). But still. Seems to be effecting all age groups, now. It might not kill you, but, the stories of those who get sick … you’d long for the halcyon days of the flu you had.

    Yes, I remember the story about the shopping mall merchant family. I’d say they got out, just in time. All those empty stores, at our factory outlet stores. They provide quit a chunk of taxes for Centralia’s operating budget. And, most of the clerks were local.

    Oh, THAT Alberich 🙂 . I see the British version is Oberon. Who played a major part in Shakespeare’s “Mid Summer Night’s Dream.” The fellow gets around. I noticed the picture in the article you linked to is by Arthur Rackham. An artist worth knowing about. I knew someone who collected his first editions, back in the 1960’s. They weren’t near as pricy, then.

    I really wonder if a bit of creative accounting doesn’t go on here, at the Institution. Under the previous administration, we were flush. Rolling in dough. Now, suddenly we’re poverty stricken, even though the new bunch does everything “on the cheap.” Of course, it might just be a case of “Look how thrifty I can be.”

    Noblesse oblige was the term I couldn’t remember, when I was talking about the Dames. Yup. Hit the nail on the head. Not much of that around, these days.

    I don’t know about our food banks, in particular, but from what I’ve read, costs to them have gone up. And, the donated stuff has to be picked and transported. And, I guess a lot of crops are being turned under, as, they’ve lost their big commercial accounts. Another thing I noticed, about this batch, is there was no “one can meals.” There’s never very much, but, there was none, this time. What I mean by that is stuff you can dump out of a can, and call a meal. Chili, corn beef hash. Even canned ravioli. A bit of soup, but not much.

    Sure you can build your own concrete Stonehenge. 🙂 . A four minute video …

    In someways, this one is better. More drone footage. Just over 1 minute.

    I kind of liked the swirly hydro plant, in the film clip from yesterday. Mesmerizing. Also, the little prefab house.

    “Without a Trace.” Put me in mind of “Picnic at Hanging Rock.” It’s all very mysterious. I mean, most of these people had outdoor experience. Hill was an old logger. Those guys know the woods. I think the only logical explanation is … alien abduction. Either that or, they accidentally slipped into a parallel dimension, and the door slammed shut.

    Making the rounds of the internet. The front PR person for the White House said, they wouldn’t let science stand in the way of schools reopening. Lew

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