The winter of her discontent

Tragedy lurks among the living. However, like enduring the presence of a grifter in our lives, we dare not trust that companion, but neither can we shake it off. Tragedy hangs onto us with a vice like and tenacious grip, and we dare not turn our attention away from it, because that is when it strikes hardest.

Regular readers will recall that Scritchy the former boss dog died in late June. What was never written about was that she ‘died’ many months before she actually died. You see, Scritchy the former – and now deceased – boss dog was suffering from age related dementia.

For a nineteen year old miniature fox terrier, she was one tough and gnarly old dog. She was the oldest dog that I’d yet encountered, and she never knew her advanced age. The old dog thought nothing of attacking the young sheep dog pups: Plum and Ruby. It was vicious, as she’d charge straight at them at full ramming speed only to sink her teeth into one or other of the young pups. They looked at her with a sense of awe and foreboding, and you could almost see the thoughts going through their brains: “You are like super bad, Girl!”

The new pups and old Scritchy weren’t mates. Far from it. The fighting became so bad between them that I could not leave Scritchy alone with the two pups. On days when the editor and I had to travel into the big smoke of Melbourne for work we used to leave the dogs in the dog enclosure. The enclosure has an area that is protected from the weather with dry bedding for the dogs to enjoy. There is also an area where the dogs can do their business. Scritchy spent most of her time in the area where the dogs did their business, fighting the two pups like an unrelenting aged Roman gladiator who has no other purpose in life.

On wet days we’d return from the big smoke only to find Scritchy soaked through to the bone due to the cold winter rain. But every muscle rippled and stood out on her small old body as if she were a reincarnation of the fictional character: Conan the Barbarian. Once inside the house she decamped for the wood heater and dried out. Then in a fit of true unhappiness she would express her displeasure by taking a wee in the house.

Scritchy became quite good at expressing her displeasure in that manner. And as the boss dog became older, every minor inconvenience used to annoy the daylights out of her. No other dog in my experience has ever acted so, but there is always a first time. You could almost feel the psychic pressure of an imminent moment of canine displeasure. First she made sure that she caught your eye. Then she’d fix you with a look known as: ‘Stink Eye Number Three’, as her body squatted and a pool of wee formed underneath her rear.

So, we couldn’t leave Scritchy out during the day in the dog enclosure with the two pups. Sometimes the fighting became so bad that the two pups would gang up on her and knock her off the veranda where she’d fall and land in a graceless and very unladylike manner.

Once she fell three feet off the veranda and landed on her neck. The editor saw this happen in slow motion and screamed, but was too far away to stop the inevitable fall. We rushed to her assistance. Scritchy’s head was at an odd angle to her body, and she was lying on the ground somewhat dazed from the fall. My brain was contemplating giving her the coup de grâce that many ailing chickens had received courtesy of a sharp and very heavy knife. But no, like a zombie Scritchy’s head realigned with her body and she got to her feet, and whilst unsteady for a short while, she soon resumed her normal robust good health. We were in awe of that dog.

During the daytime when we were absent from the property, Scritchy used to enjoy the comforts of the inside of the house. Except that in her advanced years she confused the inside of the house, with the outside of the house, and began using it as a toilet.

Would the day be a two poo, or three poo day? Such questions became relevant. As her mental state deteriorated, she used to take pleasure in walking in her poo and then smearing it around the house. Coming home meant doing a lot of cleaning before anything else happened. As a containment strategy, most of the internal doors in the house were shut so that she didn’t have access to those rooms.

She also used to do the same ‘poo trick’ with the pups dry bedding in the dog enclosure. Little wonder the pups used to fight so much with her.

We didn’t put up with such nonsense for long because we had the bright idea to leave her outside the house when we weren’t home, weather permitting. Her dementia caused a lot of obsessive compulsive behaviour and she would spend the day running around and around the house. Every muscle on that old dog bulged with strength and resilience, but she was truly out there crazy. Anyway, as a strategy it worked well for a while, until like the fictional Star Trek Borg man-machines she adapted, and one day met us on the road far from the house.

Scritchy the former boss dog being unceremoniously returned to the property

The obsessive compulsive behaviour didn’t stop during the day. At night the dog was trussed up in blankets where she slept soundly next to the desk where this essay is now being typed. If that didn’t happen, or happen quickly enough, she would obsessively walk around and around the house. In and then out again she would repetitively walk, never settling down or even having any vague sense of purpose. It was enough to make a sane person, crazy.

Then the old dog began having seizures and her health took a sharp turn. During the seizures, her front paw would stick out at an odd angle and she would shake uncontrollably. One day she became so distressed that she pulled out a nail on her paw. It was a kindness to her to have her put down. But it was also a relief. She was like a black hole that absorbed anything and everything that came her way.

Individuals, Groups, Societies can all lose the plot. It happens. The real tragedy of the events was that we spent so much time caring for and accommodating the old dog, the proper training of the two new pups was neglected. And that was an error of judgement.

Earlier in the week, several misty and cloudy days proved to us that we require new batteries for the off grid solar power system. The power failed when the coffee machine was preparing the morning coffee – a fatal error on the part of the old batteries. We can be slow to come to a decision, but once the decision is made we acted swiftly and have ordered new locally made batteries of a lithium chemistry that we have basically no idea about.

Once the decision was made to replace the batteries, the sun decided that it was going to shine. The winter days since then have been glorious, although the nights have been very cold and one morning it was 0’C / 32’F and the weather station in the kitchen was forecasting a light snow shower which never eventuated.

The setting sun silhouettes a bare apple tree

On Saturday night the young sheep dog puppy Plum alerted the entire household that there was something important going on in the orchard. In a dubious frame of mind I ventured outside to have a look around. Holy Sheet! There were eight or so deer (including a Stag) in the orchard. Clearing them off is the job that Ollie the Australian cuddle dog (who is actually a Bull Arab breed) does to earn his breakfast.

Off and away, Ollie heroically chased the herd of deer into the forest. Without venturing far into the forest, he returned home and was rewarded with several beef jerky strips. He looked inordinately pleased with himself and promptly fell asleep with his girlfriend Plum.

A sound sleep follows a good evenings work

A day was spent scrounging large and mid sized rocks and then hauling them to where they were needed.

Lots of rock works occurred this week

In the above photo, Ollie and I am standing in front of a now completed rock wall. Six additional very large and heavy rocks were placed in that rock wall in order to complete it. Most of those rocks weigh more than I do and all of them were moved by hand. In addition to that the rock wall in the foreground of the photo was created. The rock wall is the edge of a garden bed with an English Oak and an English Elm planted in it.

The soil bridge at the end of a very long path which extends up above the house was also completed. That took two days of work, and a whole lot of soil which was excavated and moved using hand tools. After a days work, the soil bridge looked like this:

The soil bridge after a days work

Another day of work completed the soil bridge. It is now a very wide and flat path which the low centre of gravity ride on mower can easily navigate.

Ollie approves of the new and very flat soil bridge

A layer of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime was placed over the compacted volcanic clay surface and then compacted using a wheelbarrow full of rocks as a weight.

An all weather surface of locally quarried crushed rock with lime was placed on the soil bridge and then compacted
The wide path looks very good and is quite compacted and solid feeling

The soil bridge project took a lot of soil as can be seen when viewed from below the path.

We moved a whole lot of soil to create the soil bridge

The exposed soil in the photo above will soon be mulched and then planted out. All that soil had to come from somewhere, and in order to obtain that much soil we had to continue widening the other end of the path which sits up above the house.

The path above the house which ends at the soil bridge was significantly widened

Observant readers will note that there is still a bit of work to do on the path.

During the excavations a whole bunch of rocks were unearthed and put to good use.

Mid sized rocks were placed on the downhill side of this path up above the house

All of the smaller rocks ended up in the steel rock gabion cage, which is rapidly filling up.

The second last steel rock gabion cage is rapidly filling up

With a bit of extra sunlight, the plants which have over wintered are finally beginning to grow.

Peas have grabbed hold of the steel support structure and are reaching for the sky

Onto the flowers:

A close up of a Silver Banksia
Roses are slowly recovering from the recent frost
A Tree Lucerne (Tagasaste) in full bloom
Bright yellow flowers of the Silver Wattle fill the winter forest with colour

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 698.2mm (27.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 695.6mm (27.4 inches).

72 thoughts on “The winter of her discontent”

  1. Yo, Chris – What a tragic and horrible story. And, it’s just magnified ten fold, when it’s people instead of pups, involved. Years ago, I knew a fellow here in Chehalis, whose mother began to show signs of dementia, when she was 84. He was just about her sole caregiver. She lived to be 103! By the time the poor lady passed away, he was as crazy, or crazier, than she was!

    I’d say the batteries made a “major tactical error” by fiddling with your morning coffee. Of course the sun shines, right when you’ve decided to replace them. Just like it always rains after I water the garden. Decide to take the dog out 5 minutes later than usual, just in time for the deluge. I must not be living right. The old saying, “the rain falls equally on the just and the unjust” is cold comfort, at such a time.

    That is a very striking picture of the apple tree at sunset. Sunsets. Something we haven’t worked for, that is given freely. Almost makes all the rest of it, worth it 🙂 .

    Rocks, rocks, rocks. Soil, soil, soil. I’m waiting for the day you report that it’s all been done. You can land a B-52 on that soil bridge. Well, at least it’s big enough for your low center of gravity, mower. I wondered if you would plant something on the foundation of the soil bridge, and then you said you were. Decided what, yet?

    The peas look like they’re off to a healthy start. Which reminds me, I’d better pick up seed if I want fall peas. Your roses soldier on.

    I’ve been processing blueberries, all day. Four bags, and two more in the hopper. But, I think I’ll end up with a good solid four gallons. The three bags I’ve done so far seem a bit light. I think they need a couple hands full of blueberries, to really top them off.

    Well, my birthday pizza is in the oven. Waited til late, until it started cooling down. Hit 90F, today. Cold pizza for breakfast!!! 🙂 . I am a cad. I play pretty close about my birthday, as I don’t want a fuss made. Or, cards or (horrors) gifts. A “Happy birthday” salutation would be sufficient, but people do go overboard. But …

    One of the Ladies from down the hall mentioned she had made a cheesecake for her daughter. But, had made two and didn’t know what to do with it. Well. I told her it was my birthday, and she could give it to me. So, I now have a cheesecake in my fridge, and a bowl of blueberry sauce to go with it. Next time I make banana muffins, I’ll give her some. Got to discharge those social obligations! I’ll probably give a piece or two to Eleanor.

    Gave H her bath, today. A pleasant time, as always. But Eleanor requested I take her out to dry out a bit, as she was worried her apartment was to cold, and she might get a chill. Eleanor has a doctor’s appointment, tomorrow, so, I’m taking H with me to the Club. Eleanor is worried someone might give H. the virus. I told her I’d keep people away from her, by just telling them she bites 🙂 . Lew

  2. Hi Inge,

    It is a bit of a problem, but then that is what living on a poisoned planet looks like. Most of my organic matter is sourced from green waste from the big smoke of Melbourne. It’s good stuff, but whether it is chipped up green waste, or composted food scraps, I always treat the stuff as if it contains all manner of undesirable chemicals. People in the big smoke pretend that it does not matter and I feel that they have no idea that if they spray herbicides on green waste and then dispose of it in their green waste collection that they are spreading herbicides right down the line. I dunno, it seems obvious to me, but if it makes people feel that they are doing good…

    Anyway, in the first year of application of such organic materials, growth of plants is always not as good as in the second and third years. I’ve always assumed that some environmental factor such as UV radiation from the sun breaks those chemicals down, but honestly I have no idea and am just observing how the story plays out.

    I wish it were not so, but it is.

    Out of curiosity how was this matter brought to the attention of the public? Eventually such a state of affairs has to stop – one way or another. When I visit the big smoke I always make a point of conducting a spot check on the number of insects in any gardens that I encounter – and the results are not good. Rachael Carson originally penned the book: ‘Silent Spring’, but from what I’m observing it could be re-written for today as: ‘Silent Year’. What do you do? Few seem to notice or even care.

    The insects are catered for here, but it takes a lot of effort and absorbs a lot of ground.



  3. Hi Pam,

    Hehe! Yup, grifters, we’ve all met a few of those in our time. Your son will no doubt learn some fun and interesting experiences/tales whilst his business sails the swath of human experience. Good luck and he’ll have fun.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    The synopsis of Hemingway’s story (which you mentioned) left me wondering at the poor leadership that the character Pablo offered. Upon experiencing such vacillation of leadership in a time of crisis, I’d run for the nearest port and head home, not put myself in harm’s way on a fools errand when the odds are stacked against me. There is tragedy, and then there is idiocy.

    But then I am rather fond of Tolkien’s work. But what the heck did the Dark Lord Sauron actually want with all that domination and stuff? Would Sauron even be a good administrator of an Empire. Lesser folks have done far better. And why were the good guys, the good guys, and the bad guys, the bad guys? The stories did lack nuance, and all the Elves wanted was unceasing sameness. And was that a good outcome when entropy stalks the landscape? So many unanswered moral questions were raised. But still, I enjoyed many of Tolkien’s books.

    A very quotable politician, but so very wrong. He seems to have courted trouble of some sort.

    Who would have thought that people would suggest and/or invent machines or contraptions that are hypothetically useful but of limited actual utility? You learn something new every day and thanks for mentioning it. Honestly I was reminded of the tiny planter box located on the sidewalk that was accompanied with much fanfare. And it appeared to be growing mint and nasturtium. A comendable effort.

    Cervantes, “Don Quixote”, has much to say about today’s world. 😉 Well, you are in good company for my education is sadly lacking and such classics have not yet entered my purview. And speaking of which, I’m now halfway through: ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, and am quite enjoying the story and cadence Mr Steinbeck sets. The author enjoys putting all of his characters through one travail after another. There are slathering’s of innuendo scattered throughout the text and that would have kept High School kids entertained, that’s for sure. Much giggling and mirth took place at those points in the novel, and the people rejoiced!

    A flat of blueberries was much larger than I would have expected. For your enlightenment, down here blueberries are generally sold in the quarter kilogram or half pound punnet. The two main berries grown and sold down here are strawberries and blackberries, and blueberries are a bit of a rarity – although not unknown. Top work with the bagging and freezing of the blueberries.

    Far out the summer is warming up for you! As a contrast, down here the clouds hung low and thick all day long. The generator is now chugging away on the other side of the door. It will be a relief when it finally shuts up and decides to go to sleep for the night.

    Today was an inside work day, and I’ve also been busily obtaining materials for the battery replacement project. It won’t take place for four weeks, but all the same, only one part missing will hold up the entire show.

    Happy birthday to you! And well done. It is a special thing to share a birthday with Sir Mick, and respect for obtaining the cheesecake. All the talk of blueberry sauce has me salivating. Yum! Hey, aren’t we all old farts now? Someone said it about me on the interweb once, so it must be true. Mind you, they were saying it in a friendly way, which kind of makes it worse… Oh well, seize the day – Carpe Diem and all that!

    Did you discover anything interesting on utoob?

    It’s your birthday and breakfast pizza can be forgiven. Anyway, the weight of public opinion is on your side. They’re all wrong, you know!!! Maybe not… Happy birthday! 🙂

    There is an old saying about crazy people making sane people crazy.

    Yeah, I’d decided to write about tragedy. A while back I’d heard a podcast from Mr Kunstler who mentioned in passing that ‘tragedy’ used to be taught as part of a liberal arts education and now was taught no longer. I’d been wondering about why that would be, and still have no clear answers. What are your thoughts about that? The Ancients used to weave tragedy into their stories and somehow we feel otherwise. Dunno.

    Mate, the batteries fluffed it. It sure was a tactical error on their part. Once the coffee machine died, the editor was on board with the replacement. The existing batteries have a service life of 10 years and they’re currently at 11 years so they’ve done about as well as can be expected of them. They will be reused elsewhere on the property.

    I liked the apple tree silhouetted against the deepening night sky photo too. It’s all worth it, just got to remember to cut back on reading the news. 🙂

    Well there are diminishing returns to ever expanding upon the existing infrastructure. The main goal at the moment is to construct the greenhouse for seed raising. All other projects can take whatever time they’ll take. Once it is all done, we can simply maintain the property and learn more about what is already in place. That goal is still a couple of years away though.

    Some of the plants have already been decided upon in the new garden bed on the side of the soil bridge. You guessed right there.

    Did you bag up all of the blueberries?

    Hehe! Breakfast pizza… Nice one. I’m with you and also don’t want a fuss made about birthdays, just a bit of acknowledgement, and the day off and that’s good by me. Happy birthday (again)!

    Ah yes, the social credits build up without notice and best to discharge them. I see that that story was covered in ‘The Grapes of Wrath’.

    It is a truth universally acknowledged that proper fluffies can bite without warning and/or prior notice. Common knowledge. Stay safe H!



  5. Hi Chris,

    I hope I didn’t jinx your batteries with my question a few weeks back! I see you went with a local supplier instead of the world-renowned Elon Musk. Do you think the extra panels jinxed the batteries or even the upped voltage? What was their intended lifetime? Giving up the ghost during coffee brewing is a serious faux pas!

    Thanks for the yogurt making tips. Was hoping to report back on great success, but other projects have intervened.

    Here’s to Scritchy!

  6. Hi crow,

    Yes, you indeed have broad shoulders that you could take on board such a personal critique! 🙂

    Actually the batteries were past their service life span and I just sort of hoped that things would be otherwise if I treated them gently and carefully.

    If I hadn’t upped the voltage from 24V to 48V, then it is possible that I might not have encountered the limitations of maybe a couple of sickly 2V battery cells, however other problems were most certainly going to rear their heads. Oh yeah, I was pushing things. Messy!

    It is a personal quirk that I do my best to support local manufacturing. Who knows where the cells were manufactured that the local mob uses, but certainly everything else in the new batteries is locally designed and manufactured. Actually a lot of the components in the system are locally made – tough as old boots that stuff. Not fancy though. What do you do? Down here we used to be world leaders with this technology.

    The original batteries had a service life of 10 years. The new batteries should be double that and then some (apparently). Like everything, much depends.

    Yes, the power system did bad that day. Nuff said. Hehe!

    No worries at all. If you have any brain space available, I have actually wondered how the old timers used to dry the yoghurt culture so that it could be re-used at a later date when milk became available again – and the weather was hot enough for the process.



  7. Yo, Chris – Well, leaders. You either get lucky, or, you don’t. What’s that old saw from either “Buddhism Lite”, or “Buddhism for Dummies?” Something about when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. :-). Who knew Mr. Bill, our Club manager would step up and do a fine job of running the place? A cranky old bricklayer, in his 80s. I’d guess work ethic and, maybe, the ability to see patterns in things. That’s just a wild guess.

    Well, I thought it was time to introduce you to Mr. Goldberg. He was actually a cartoonist, and his contraptions would appear in the Sunday funnies. You never hear anymore, “That looks like a really Rube Goldberg device.” He’s not referenced, but, the opening credits to the series “Elementary” (theSherlock Holmes update) has such a device. I think you’ll enjoy this. Only 30 seconds long.

    I doubt “Grapes of Wrath” are taught in the high schools, anymore. This also relates to your question about tragedy. Written by old dead white guys, with not enough “safe spaces” and “trigger warnings.” Not politically correct. LOL, I mean, Greek Tragedy. All that incest and the gouging out of eyes, and stuff. Shakespeare was always good for a double entendre for the teacher to walk right into, to inspire a titter to run through the class. 🙂 . And, besides, Greek tragedy? No happy endings! 🙂 .

    So will the defunct batteries be turned into some kind of yard art?

    Hmm. Birthday. The pizza wasn’t as good as what you get from a pizza parlor, but, I guess, passible. Maybe I can jazz the rest of it up, a bit. None of the “free” movies on You Tube appealed. But, I ended up watching a Time Team episode (you should take a look at those. Archaeologists have three days to excavate some site in Britain. Not just Roman, but a lot of other eras.) It was a site on the Isle of Wight. They were hoping for a Roman villa, but got what looks like a Roman industrial and recycling site. Maybe a trading post. Also, a pre Roman roundhouse and really ancient burial mound. Some Angle Saxon tat. Apparently, it was in use for hundreds of years. Make sense. Near the water with great views! The cheese cake was very good. But, overall, as per usual, the birthday was mildly disappointing.

    Well, our trip to the Club turned out to be academic. Twice in the night, I got a severe muscle cramp in my leg. What’s that all about? I eat my banana a day … and take an aspirin to keep the blood thin. It’s probably a blood clot, that will lodge in my lungs, heart or brain. I always believe in looking on the bright side 🙂 .

    I just about got the blueberries, whipped. The last batch is drying in the strainers, and will go on the baking sheets in the freezer, in a couple of hours. Then, into a bag .. or, distributed among the bags that are a bit light. “Punnet.” That’s a new one on me. Here, they’re just “a basket of…” or, “a container of…” Punnet sounds a lot more specific. “A Flat of blueberries has 12 punnets. But I notice spell check doesn’t recognize punnet as a word. Not that that’s so unusual. Hmmm. How does it feel to realize that your vocabulary is wider than spell check? 🙂 Lew

  8. Chris,

    I see that you got into the tragedy bit already with the Scritchy story. Alzheimers sucks. I may have mentioned that both of my parents suffered from it or some form of dementia. Mom spent her final 2 or so years in a dementia care facility. Either my sister or I visited her every day. It was sad to see how many people did the “dump and run” with a family member: many of these people never had visitors but had many lucid moments daily. One lady walked laps in one particular hallway, much as Scritchy walked laps around your house. She started talking to me one day, and then abruptly said, “Well, I need to get back to walking laps. The staff hates it, but it’s the only thing I control.” That was the only time I ever saw that lady talk – but lucid moments come and go as part of that illness.

    I agree with Lew about the apple tree picture. Very nice, very striking.

    In the big news here…Item one, the Princess wanted to get some fresh peaches from the local orchard area, then dehydrate them. Which means that I do the processing and what not, which I actually enjoy. So we went there Saturday and bought about 20kg in 10kg boxes. We’ve been eating fresh peaches, utilizing the mandarin cutter, and fully utilizing the modern dehydrator. I put the last round of peaches in late Monday afternoon. We even had to use the ancient dehydrator on one day for the extra volume of dried peaches so that the fruit wouldn’t go bad. We wanted to maximize drying and minimize freezing, as the big freezer is full of other things. So Monday we went back and bought a 10 kg box of fresh apricots. We’ll replay the same process starting Tuesday, although I think the one dehydrator will be sufficient. There are many orchards in a nearby community known as Greenbluff. We’ll revisit our favorite place come apple season. 🙂

    Item 2 is the weather. Maximum temperatures here will be between 36C and 40C through at least Friday. Where Al lives could hit as high as +44C on Thursday.

    I’m glad Al was able to help you with your battery questions! The chemistry side of the newer things is outside of my expertise. Getting 11+ years out of 10 year batteries is a bonus. I’ll bet, though, that it was a BIG wake up call when they quit right in the midst of brewing the elixir of wakefulness! That’s just brutal…

    Punnet? Isn’t that a Little Pun?!?

    The fetishes some people have are unfathomable to most of us. I’ve never understood them. Henry VIII’s “neck fetish” had some rather unfortunate consequences to the height of some people. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for keeping a low profile, as well as being able to do useful things that others can’t.

    Mate, Dirty Harry said that “a man has got to know his limitations”. Having a good grasp of my limitations, I’d prefer to poke a grizzly bear, angry rattlesnake, or a sleeping mountain lion before I’ll run such an idea at a weegie. As far as Kevin and Phil, well, remember, Arthur Dent long carried a grudge against Zaphod Beeblebrox. Why? Because Zaphod had crashed a party where Arthur was boring the dazzling astrophysicist Trillian when Zaphod showed up and whisked her away, whilst hiding 1 of his 2 heads and going by the name “Phil”. Coincidentally, Phillip was Arthur’s middle name.

    Does magnetic pole flipping matter? On some levels, yes, and likely a major catastrophe or 42 would ensue. However, as that is one of those things that is far beyond our control, it really doesn’t matter.

    I try to have an enjoyable book with me when there’s a good chance that there’ll be a wait for something. Being without a book or 3 during travels is just wrong. On the rare occasion when that has happened, I’ve quickly found a bookstore and rectified the problem.

    Singing hymns at full volume? Ah, yes, been there. But I was a singer, even sang at a few weddings. I may have mentioned before…the words of “House of the Rising Sun” can be sung to the tune of “Amazing Grace”. I once let my focus wander and belted out the Rising Sun lyrics at what quickly became a rather Awkward Moment.


  9. Hello Chris
    The weed killer in the compost was mentioned in the local paper. Son says that a friend of his who grows giant vegs to show, had already told him about the problem which had caused leaf curl in his tomatoes.
    Potential for increased lock down in Melbourne has been mentioned in our daily papers.
    Shopping yesterday had become even worse as I had to wear a mask for the first time in any shop, bank etc. I was interested at the extent to which it reduces human contact by hiding smiles and most other facial expressions. I noticed that some people can smile with their eyes and some can’t.


    @ Lew
    Cramp in the leg. Check possibility of lack of salt.


  10. Hi Lewis,

    The old saw was pretty funny, and it put me in mind of the: ‘Fourth Turning’, folks who said something or other about a grey ghost turning up on cue. I shouldn’t laugh at them because they have been eerily accurate so far. Anyway, I don’t see any champions on the horizon right now, but who knows what the future holds in store for us? Tell ya what, I wouldn’t have picked that things would be where they are right now. Strange days indeed. Perhaps us students are not yet ready?

    Respect to Mr Bill. Yes, leaders can come from all manner of unexpected directions. I tell ya, when Mr Bill began first laying bricks way back in the day, that was a skilled job. He would have known how to set the foundations and square the building off, and also very importantly would have known how to construct a chimney in its various guises. A month or two back I was speaking by chance to an older local bloke who used to work as a bricklayer, but got out of the work as his job was dumbed down and taken over by others. He wasn’t happy about the changes either.

    Seeing patterns in circumstances is a worthwhile skill that is not taught, but I reckon can be learned if people are interested enough to spend the time observing whatever it may be that requires observing. I do that with peoples motivations and take a guess and compare the guess to how the situation eventually played out – and ya get better as time goes on. The patterns that such activity reveals is: ironically, revealing. 😉

    Picked up the timber supplies for the greenhouse this afternoon. I went to a local very old school local timber yard and they were well stocked with the exact sizes. That reduces costs and wastage. Actually many structures are so constructed because old school timber sizes are just so. Makes you wonder if the old school sizing came first or the sizes just fitted best practice construction way back in the day? Probably the best practice construction came first. For your interest the lengths and dimensions are provided in metric, but if a person just takes a little peek then they see the imperial measurements hiding underneath the neat layer of metric. Two by Four is known down here as a 90 by 45 millimeter, but really same, same, but different.

    The timber yard even had an older sheep dog running around tempting customers with a deflated netball (basketball equivalent). The bloke that helped me cut and load the timber onto the bright yellow trailer gave the ball a good kick and then the Kelpie returned the ball to him. Hmm, glad that I have two of the dogs to keep each other company. Ruby ate some important paperwork the other day. Oh well. Puts a new spin on the dog ate my homework excuse – people probably haven’t heard that one nowadays!

    The opening sequence to Elementary was good and I particularly liked how the device packed a serious punch via way of two separate and very fatal mechanisms.

    Ah, well you learn something new every day. I hadn’t heard of the term “trigger warnings” before. The youth music radio station I listen to is able to air content that may contain very naughty language. Obviously there are some benefits to being run by the gubarmint. Anyway, before music containing naughty words they provide a warning, obviously for legal reasons. The warnings change and are usually amusing. One of my favourites is an older indigenous bloke saying something along the lines of: ‘This next song got some bad words’. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

    The old classics were hardly politically correct. Some of the subtext of ‘The Grapes of Wrath’ is quite astounding and I can almost imagine that the author had a little devil on his shoulder urging him on: ‘Go on mate, write it down’. As it was, I believe some of the words the author wanted to use were edited out. Something to do with public decency and all. But if that is how people spoke, then there is something to realism of the representation.

    Ah. Well, no. The batteries will be examined closely as many of them still have a bit of life left to them and can be repurposed. Just need to construct a new shed…

    A bit of decent cheese and some pipped olives would jazz the birthday pizza up. Unfortunately there is no jazzing up a breakfast pizza. One must maintain standards, ol’ chap! Hehe!

    I have paid to watch movies on utoob and they worked well. Freebies can be a bit of a mixed bag. Speaking of mixed bags, the archaeologists working under time constraints uncovered a rich seam of stuff.

    Disappointing birthday, huh? Well how much excitement can you handle? Down here the authorities look like they may increase the level of lock down due to the health subject that dare not be named. That is probably a bit too much excitement for me, but others will differ and I’m cool with that. Anyway, I’m busy squirreling away stuff so that if worse comes to worst, there is stuff to do here. Still haven’t got all of my summer seed order delivered yet, although some seeds have arrived. This summer I’ll try varieties of lentils. As John Lennon once sang, ‘All we are saying is give peas a chance’. He may not have said that, but it sure sounded like he was banging on about leguminous plants. Maybe.

    Potassium is part of the story, but so is sodium. A person can consume a low salt diet, but low salt does not mean ‘no salt’. I’ve experienced leg cramps and they are vicious painful things.

    Well there can be worse ways to go. That way would be quick.

    Hehe! 🙂 It feels pretty good to know that one’s vocabulary is outpacing the dreaded spell checker. Hey, on some websites I see advertisements for grammar checkers and do wonder if someone is trying to tell me something? If so, they can naff off! Brother Lewis, recall these fine words of advice: ‘War is peace. Freedom is slavery. Ignorance is strength.’ Everything you need to know is contained therein. 😉



  11. Hi DJ,

    It was your good self that alerted me to this story of ol’ Scritchy. You may have written something about it being incongruous me replying to comments when I’d just had my dog put down earlier in the day. As I read your comment I thought to myself: Mate, you don’t even know half of that story. But now you know far more of the story. 🙂 Scritchy drove me bonkers for about six months.

    Alzheimers does indeed suck. And for all we know it sucks for the people suffering from it, as much as the people who suffer due to it. It is a really complicated story with no right answers and no known timelines. Out of curiosity, did your mum have a very active mind which was used a lot? Dunno at all, but I have encountered folks with dementia and it is a tough story. The ‘dump and run’ story is a very sad tale, and the story of the lady who walked around and around the hallway sent chills up my spine. None of us know our end run in advance.

    Thanks for the kind words about the sunset photo. A lot is going on around here all of the time, and it makes the task of taking interesting photos easier.

    Yeah, good stuff with the peaches. And the fruit is always better if the source is known. Have you purchased from the orchard regularly over the years? How good is dehydrated fruit? The flavour and sugars are concentrated in the dehydration process so they are very tasty. We bottle (i.e. can) such summer fruit. Actually for breakfast I’m enjoying last summer’s apricots and plums. But for your interest, the kiwi fruit we just left on the kitchen bench and right now the fruit is just perfect. I’m guessing the kiwi fruit required some fermenting before they reached their optimal flavour.

    Your weather is hot. Al’s weather is as hot as it gets here (about the same time of year too if things were flipped upside down). Another four weeks for you two and things will be cooling down, but until then…

    I’m looking forward to testing out the new batteries, because it ain’t just you who has no idea in relation to the chemistry of these batteries. The specification sheets are one thing, a decade of lived experience is another thing altogether. In the meantime with wild rumours and uncertainty flying around regarding the health subject that dare not be named, I’m busily obtaining all the various bits and pieces that I’ll require just to get the batteries operational, and I just hope that I haven’t forgotten anything. Also I’m trying to get enough stuff so that the greenhouse is constructed and functional before spring has arrived. As you might imagine, spring may be early here this year. Makes up for the lack of spring last year.

    Yes, yes, perhaps it is a little pun – the things hardly contain any berries either at 250g.

    That’s funny, I was thinking to myself: What neck fetish, thinking the stupid frilly collars the folks of the time wore, but then would such clothes protect oneself from the guillotine? You’d hope they kept the blade sharp?

    A great quote from the Clint Eastwood character. And so true. Of course, how could I be so dense? Yes, it was Phil, and wasn’t the quote: ‘Is this guy boring you? I’m from another planet.’ Who could top such fine words?

    Lots of things are beyond our control, and yup, Alfred E Neuman may quip: What? Me worry? Like the hippies, he might be right you know? The jury is still out, for now…

    Reading in public has been curtailed in these days of ‘don’t hang around here’ business. My reading activities have actually slowed as a direct result, so I have to make time for the activity in other ways.

    “There is a house in New Orleans” I can already hear the music in my minds ear. Loved that song, and had no idea that a person could slap the lyrics over Amazing Grace, but yeah, nice one.

    When I used to learn to play guitar I noticed that one of Elvis’s songs appeared to be derived from a much older bit of folk music. I used to chuck in a slight timing difference because at one point because I thought it sounded better, but the guitar teacher was not as cool about it as he pretended to be.



  12. Hi Inge,

    It is interesting that your local papers mentioned the risk of contamination only now. I’ve known about the risk for years, but it is something that is rarely spoken of. That probably is the case because speaking about such a thing might offend people’s sensibilities and freedoms to use such products in the first place. Certainly there are very few if any insects down in Melbourne, which is a situation I find quite confronting after having lived up here for so long.

    It is an odd problem because if you don’t bring in the additional minerals via compost, mulches or whatever soil additives, the alternative is that you strip mine your soils. But then if you do bring stuff in, well, who knows what are the repercussions? Horse manure combined with bedding straw is often labelled as mushroom compost. Yet, the stuff would have to contain vermicides, and clearly that may impact on soil life in the garden for a while.

    A few years ago I had a discussion with a bloke who lives not far from here about the subject of adding composted woody mulch to his trees as a form of plant and soil feed. The thing is in bushfires, woody mulch can burn, and we sort of came to the conclusion that: you are dammed if you do, and you’re dammed if you don’t. But then if you do add the woody mulch, at least the trees and soil get a good feeding. The contamination story is a bit like that.

    Incidentally, the bloke with the curly leaf may have other issues such as plant diseases which could have something to do with a lack of crop rotation. In order to avoid rotating crops you have to bring in a lot of minerals.

    Your newspapers are reporting the same thing as the newspapers down here. I’m being kept busy over the past few days bringing back stuff for the projects here – in between working. Crazy days.

    I too have noticed that with peoples smiles. Actually if you look at photographs it often becomes obvious who’s smiles are fake and who’s are genuine. It is a subliminal thing. But yeah, the masks do take away from peoples identities and I’m uncomfortable about that. But if I’ve gotta wear mask, I’ll wear a mask. Masks have become non-optional in Melbourne, but I’m avoiding going there.

    It is a bit weird wearing a mask into a bank of all places! Hehe!



  13. @ Inge – Your the second one to mention salt, to me. So, now I’ll seriously look into it. Thanks! Lew

  14. Hi Chris,

    The situation with Scritchy was a sad and difficult one indeed. I am glad she is no longer suffering and that you and the editor have time to work with Plum and Ruby now.

    The situation with that which I am not supposed to name has worsened here too. Our county executive just announced new restrictions yesterday. Specifically, he has reinstated the 50 or less attendance policy at gatherings and the max of 25% occupancy for buildings, plus bars now must close at 10pm, among a few other changes. For bars, the claim is that there is too little mask use and social distancing late at night, hence the 10pm closing time. Mike and I and two other couples ate inside at a restaurant last Saturday evening; good thing it was then, as I suspect few restaurants will continue indoor seating under the occupancy restriction. I have no idea if these restrictions will actually help the situation. Basically it’s all an experiment and we are the guinea pigs. Hope it goes better for us than it usually does for guinea pigs who are experimental subjects.

    Otherwise, life continues as usual. Except that Mike bought a 2014 Triumph motorcycle last Sunday. He says it’s a 3/4 life crisis since he is too old for a midlife crisis. 😉 In actuality, he rode motorcycles and owned three of them when I met him. On our first date he took me for my first motorcycle ride, and we did some touring by motorcycle early in our marriage. It wasn’t for loss of interest but for financial reasons that he stopped riding in 1993 and sold the remaining motorcycle a few years later. But I have known for years that he would like to ride again. With the last chunk of the inheritance from his mom coming this month and amounting to more than enough to buy and insure the bike, he took advantage. I won’t ride with him till he regains proficiency, but we will start to do some low-key touring, just day trips, maybe by next summer. Why not, while we remain healthy enough and can afford it?


  15. Yo, Chris – Reading over your shoulder about masks. We (at least I) do say silly things to our animals. When I take H back in the building, I put on my mask and ask her, “Shall we rob a bank?” She doesn’t seem to think it’s a very good idea. The one thing about Time Team that disturbs me is one of the archaeologist / presenters. Tony Robinson. He smiles, but it never reaches his eyes. It’s disconcerting, and I don’t think I’d want to work for him.

    The way Time Team operates, is, before they even show up, they usually have a local history group do a “field survey.” They carefully examine what’s on the surface. Usually, in one meter squares. And, they plot the finds on a map. So, if you have a couple of squares with a high concentration of, say, Roman roof tile pieces, that might be a good place to pay attention. Then they run a “geo-phys” of interesting areas. Ground penetrating radar. Sometimes it’s helpful, sometimes not. Then they start digging test trenches.

    But to your missive. Strange days, indeed. As I’ve said, pandemic was not on my bucket list. Oh, being a disaster freak, it was on my radar, but, to actually have it happen? Surprise!!! 🙂 .

    I saw some pictures of some of Mr. Bill’s projects, the other day. Wow. Patio fire pit / fireplace that was a real knock out. Patterns recognition. Might make an interesting thing for Mr. Greer to discuss. Don’t know quit how I’d suggest it. Back when I was in the book biz, I discovered I had a real knack for building displays of books. Kind of a knack for putting things together, spatially, in a pleasing way. A sense of three dimensions? It’s amazing to me, how many people don’t get “you put the big stuff on the bottom, and the small stuff on the top.” 🙂

    Standard weights and measures. One of the foundations of civilization. Just so everyone’s on the same page, and there’s not much chance of fiddling things.

    Ought to arrange a play date with the lumber yard dog, and Ruby and Plum. And, of course Ollie. Hmmm. I wonder if lumber yard dogs have more status, than junk yard dogs?

    LOL. I think if I were a teacher, these days, I’d announce before any class (no matter how benign) “This is a trigger warning. Some course material may upset some people … somewhere. Sometime.” Just to cover all the bases. A couple of times, I’ve wandered into the Club, and in a loud and strangled voice said, “Is this a safe space? Will there be trigger warnings?” Always gets a laugh. Bad, Lew!

    Over the years, “Grapes of Wrath” has been banned and burned in several places. Mostly due to sex, profanity and (horrors) communism (unions.) People die, and it doesn’t have a very happy ending. You know. Life.

    Yes. John Lennon was a great advocate of peas. So am I. He’s ok in my book. I hear he used to be in a band.

    I saw an article that your finger limes are going to save our orange crops. They’re related, and, have an enzyme that stops “greening”. Which is wiping out orchards, left and right, internationally.

    It got up to 97F (36.11C) yesterday. Supposed to be a chilly 80F, today. Then cooler until the weekend, and, maybe even some rain. We’ll see. Lew

  16. @Inge

    Someone over on JMG’s blog suggested that those fleeing Hong Kong ought to all go to the same place. He thought the Isle of Wight would be just the place. Thought you might want to be forewarned.

    Masks have been required when inside places of business and highly suggested outdoors if one can’t distance one’s self enough. At the recycling drive last weekend masks were required of all volunteers and those in their cars dropping off items. It seemed everyone complied from what I could see. I was thinking that those of us volunteering weren’t all that close and there was a nice breeze that it was probably overkill (and it was hot) but I just received an email from our coordinator that the only young volunteer has probably been exposed as her boyfriend has tested positive and she had been with him recently. Maybe it was good we all had masks on.

    Horse manure is considered a good amendment to the garden but has now been found to regularly contain residues of horse wormers one of the main ones being Ivermectin. I just read something that there has been some success using it for treatment for that which shall not be named so there you go.


  17. @Lew

    Happy belated birthday!! We have found a very good pizza – a cauliflower crust one from Costco. It’s gluten free so I can eat it. Doug doctors it up with mushrooms, Italian sausage and more and cooks it on the grill. Yum.

    I’ve been plagued by leg cramps for years. I’ve had quite a bit of relief from a couple of specific Magnesium supplements along with keeping hydrated and stretching but sometimes for no apparent reason I’ll have them hourly. I had read that pickle juice works sometimes too. When you get a cramp take a swig of pickle juice and it goes away. Well when I get a particularly bad one that just won’t go away I do that and maybe it’s all in my head but it does seem to help.


  18. Hi Chris,

    That was one sad story about Scritchy. No wonder you didn’t have time to attend to training the pups. It’s just the worst decision deciding when it’s time with a pet.

    We are taking lunch to a friend who is suffering from Alzheimer’s on Friday as his wife can no longer take him out. He was a very experienced bee keeper and also produced tons of vegetables and fruit on his small lot. He’s declined quite quickly. I think his wife does most of the care giving which is so hard on her. She is his 2nd wife and it sounds like his kids do little to help her out. I also know three retired teachers whose husbands all developed Alzheimer’s as well. One is still living. All three finally ended up in a memory care facility when their care became too much for their wives but they and their children always visited often every day. Doug’s dad had dementia for the last few years of his life and he and my MIL lived with us for the last four months of his life. It was challenging but he did know all of us. It was more confusion and loss of short term memory.

    Sorry you’re locking down more. I imagine it’ll happen here as well so I’m enjoying what freedom we have. Hardware stores and the like were always considered essential so one could get supplies for home projects. Nurseries and garden centers also opened up early.


  19. Hi Chris
    Thanks for the sad and moving account of Scritchy’s drawn out end of life
    process. You and the Editor went through a lot of unpleasantness over a long time. You are both strong and deserving of some praise for the care and kindness shown for your furry little friend.

    Well, 4:15pm and 105F here in south eastern Washington. Air Conditioning is working with plenty of spare capacity so far. The small 1200 sq ft house and insulation account for that. The air conditioning is over sized and of high efficiency both as ac and heat pump functions. Reasonable public owned hydro power and fortunate geography provide the energy that make it work. I’m Lucky!?

    As you mentioned to DJ, this is our usual hottest time and by the middle of August the weather moderates some what. I hope we don’t get many more wildfires that’s always a worry here. Occurrences of wildfire usually end up as being wind driven. Fire protection is good but we have had occasional out of control Epics In the past. The three rivers converging nearby are good fire breaks, but we have a whole lot of sage brush and dry land grain and wild lands to catch fire in lightning storms that are luckily fairly rare.

    We had friends that two years ago came close to losing every thing in a fire that raced down hill and was stopped by the fire fighters, but burned their fence down . They were in the street evacuating at the time very lucky. 5 homes in fire were total loss . Burned 5000 acres.
    That was in a town and surrounding area just to the east of us about 12 miles.

    Happier stuff
    The resident chocolate chip cookie baker just finished 4 dozen awhile ago and I had to try 2 each of with, and without walnuts for quality control purposes before she took them over to the local grandson contingent. Hey someone has to do those chores. She left Some for us too. Big Yumm?

    Cheers Al

  20. Hi Lew,

    Happy belated birthday! You have a *lot* of blueberries, they usually don’t get sold in sizes like that here. Near my old stomping grounds (Coffs Harbour if you want to google), they used to grow a lot of bananas when I was growing up. Trends change and now the people want blueberries – so the over the past 10 years, most of the bananas are out, and blueberries in! Yet, it still costs ~$3USD for a small 100-200gram punnet (what is that, $7-8USD a pound?). So I don’t get them often, but they are delicious!

    Did your Korean zombie movie come? You would think in lockdown I would have smashed my watch list, but besides a few low-key TV shows, I haven’t watched much. The problem is, for movies I “want” to see, I believe in having the big screen and proper large speakers for floor shaking sound. I find this maximises the emotional impact 🙂 However, we did start watching “The Outsider”, a King adaption, which I think you mentioned. Enjoying it so far 🙂 We did finish The Rookie, a cop show starring Nathan Fillion (Firefly, Castle etc). Pretty good mix of drama/comedy, and 1st season should be on DVD I would think.

    On our last lunch in Sydney, which we got to eat outside with the normal people, I saw a crow flying overhead. Thinking it might be one of the crows we were feeding from the hotel window, I yelled and waved at it. The crow looked down at us, then immediately swung around and swooped down to land next to our table. The 2nd crow came a minute later, and they hung out next to our table preening themselves until we left. I guess they do recognise faces?


  21. Hi Chris,

    That was some well written (if sad) stuff for your poor old boss dog. Mrs Damo was telling me that a persons hearing loss is often underappreciated for contributing to the onset of dementia. It is well known that social isolation and, for want of a better word, “brain utilisation” is a contributing factor to dementia. Unfortunately, losing your hearing can do much the same thing, as it effectively socially isolates you. Unfortunately, Mrs Damo’s grandma refused to ever wear a hearing aid, and she ended up in a similar mental condition to your Scritchy. We see the same thing happening now with Mrs Damo’s 70 year old father, who has hearing difficulties. In most conversations he just sits there, jumping in occasionally with a comment that is usually minutes late, if not entirely out of context. Advice is given, suggestions made, but none of it taken. By that age, you are set in your ways it seems.

    By comparison, my grandfather passed at 93 and was mentally sharp right to the end. He was always involved in local volunteer groups, the entire street knew him and… he wore a hearing aid. So, I believe the anecdotal evidence clearly shows that Scritchy should have worn a hearing aid!

    Exciting news today, we got our first visit by the local police, confirming we are still in self-isolation and have not done a runner. We also placed an application for a new house to rent when we get out of this AirBNB next week. Slight problem, we have not physically viewed it, but I have a cunning plan.


  22. @ Lew
    I found that if a teaspoon of salt (or perhaps less) in a glass of water tastes wonderful it means that one needs it. I see that Margaret has suggested pickle juice. My pickle juice is salty because the contents have been in salt first.


    @ Chris
    The problem with compost here has arrived recently as the use of peat has been discouraged; I don’t think that it has been outlawed yet. So it is now being taken from waste and it is ghastly stuff.
    The chap who had the leaf curl is an old man who is an outstanding and very well informed gardener. Son says that the garden is absolutely amazing, so I guess that the fellow knows what he is talking about.


  23. @ Margaret
    Have just read that a tycoon wants to build a city for 50,000 people from Hong Kong in Ireland. That sounds a much better idea to me as there would be more space for it there.


  24. Hi, Chris!

    What a terribly sad story. I guess those of us who have had very old pets know it too well. The feisty ones, like Scritchy, just get uberfeisty.

    I found the reference to a Bull Arab fascinating and looked it up. Ollie is the spitting image. And good for you, Ollie, for chasing off those nasty deersies.

    Have you built a soil bridge before? Is it actually going to hold up? Which is a dumb question,as you put an awful lot of work into it, but I still have on my mind Saturday’s “Great Dump Truck Adventure”.

    My son, with my husband as the driver-back of the car they went in, went off to a town northwest of us to buy that dump truck that I had mentioned. I decided that this was a guy thing and did not join in this adventure, even though I could have cavorted with the clan of hillbillies my son bought it from.

    After some hours I saw my son at the top of the driveway in his new-old dump truck; husband was nowhere in sight. Suddenly my son leaps from the truck and runs to the back of it; there is smoke back there. I ran out to view the proceedings.

    Well, well – the wheels on the back on one side had fallen off – the back wheels are double tires – and the axle was dragging in the dirt and gravel and making “smoke”. It was to me one of the funniest things I had ever seen. But I didn’t laugh for long as my son directed me to get in the cab, as now the engine wouldn’t start so that the thing could be moved, and steer while he drove Mr. Musty the Toyota pickup and pulled the dump truck with Mr. Musty’s winch. I squeaked: “Who?! Me?!” as I would be going down a steep hill, with my son and Mr. Musty in front of a 12,000 lb. truck, with no power steering or power brakes (because of the dead engine).

    So, being trained to do what I am told in a crisis, I got in and steered it and parked it pretty well except for being partially in one of my favorite large Mock Orange shrubs. My son says the: “You won’t mind if I cut back half that bush.” Arghhh! He had had a very trying day . . .

    My husband comes driving up and comments that the back wheels are down by the mailbox and that he would walk back to get them. So he rolled the double-tires up the hill and then he got to the top of our driveway which, as I mentioned, goes steeply downhill, and started them rolling while running to keep up and they just about smashed into one of our other vehicles. I am still, depraved though I may be, laughing inside. I laughed the rest of that day.

    Yesterday I was not laughing as much as my son went off to the Big Smoke with a friend who owns a tow truck and bought and exact duplicate of the dump truck bought Saturday, and brought that one home, to keep it for parts.

    I watched his friend position his tow truck, my son got in the dump truck on its trailer to steer, the friend tilted up the trailer bed and started to let it gently down – and the tow cable broke. The truck, with my son in it, crashed down backwards and hit the massive white oak tree right next to our back porch stairs. Son was okay, though he hit his head. The tree is okay, though with a chunk knocked out of its very thick trunk. My son’s friend, who happens to be an old country fellow, climbs out of his tow truck and states: “Wawl, it’s a good thing it didn’t hit your back stairs or you wouldn’t have any.”


  25. Hi Lewis,

    Fluffies are as everyone knows (well all right thinkin’ people do) are sensible creatures, so such activities are off the table as an idea. Turns out that down here masks are required dress wear in all shops other than banks – can’t for the life of me wonder why that would be. I might test that theory out and see what happens, but the bank is a very boring place. Just act dumb and watch what happens.

    Hey, some folks do that with their eyes. And some people have what I call dead eyes. The eyes in that instance reveal a reptilian nature that lies just beneath the surface. Of course they may just be on some odd drugs – legal or otherwise. But as a rule I avoid such people, especially if they have equal measures of superficial charm and unpleasant interactions with other people. Yep, run.

    Surviving a pandemic whilst remaining unaffected and in good health, might actually be on someone’s bucket list – somewhere… Talk about thrill seekers! Oh no. Mate, I feel the same about the economic repercussions and fallout from this current situation. Yes, I accepted it as an eventuality, and can accommodate it, but did it have to happen?

    I’d suggest that Mr Greer would do quite well at pattern recognition due to his gifts. What is the game called when the spelling of a word is all mixed up and then a person has to guess what the word was? Mr Greer is very good at that game, and I just don’t see the word hiding in the smooshed about letters. The letters are giving me nothing in that circumstance.

    The old school farm rock walls were constructed using the principles that you mentioned with the laying out of books in a display. Dunno, but I sort of believe that those lessons are gleaned from the environment and our earlier periods of architecture, especially before post modernism and all that use of mixed up materials, which is encouraged in project homes so as to differentiate them and dare I mention the brutalist concrete structures. A union building in the big smoke is constructed of such stuff, and it has concrete cancer and I can see the rusting reinforcing steel mesh hanging out of the cracks.

    As an interesting side story a mate used to live in a project housing estate. What annoyed me was that the person chose a front for the house that was the exact same front as the house two blocks away. My mind used to get fooled because the two buildings looked the same and were positioned at the same point on the street. I had to really concentrate so as to determine I was going to the right house, despite having been there plenty of times before.

    Nature understands the practical dimensions of your observation: “you put the big stuff on the bottom, and the small stuff on the top.” Gravity does the work!

    Hey, it’s an old fantasy fiction trope with the merchant cheating customers and suppliers with weights. That aspect was also discussed in The Grapes of Wrath. Interestingly, the characters are learning of their fate when they reach the promised land. A few hardy souls are heading back in the other direction (i.e. east) to starve with their kin.

    Yes, now that you mention it, a lumber yard dog is higher in the canine pecking order than a junk yard dog. Such canines have poor reputations, for a good reason. The sweeping generalisation is not intended to offend the junk yard dogs of the world… 🙂

    Never heard of a trigger warning used in a classroom. I’m probably a bit old for that. You know, such things are like signage in that they are a legal response to a situation – and not a common sense response. And of course, being a legal response, anyone normal will stuff up eventually and be tripped up at some point without warning. Then the hammer may fall.

    I have an odd feeling that Mr Steinbeck was telling the truth as he observed and learned it – and that truth telling may have offended plenty of ‘good people’ out there that they lived in a country that did such things to its fellow citizens.

    Was he in a band? You sure John wasn’t that bloke from Melbourne who skipped quarantine and caused all the fuss?

    It is funny, but there are about eight varieties of native citrus down under. They’re meant to be tasty and usually grow up north where it is hot. Haven’t heard of ‘greening’ with citrus, but will check into it. I’ve got a book on citrus for local conditions which doesn’t mention it at all. Mind you, collar rot killed one of my oldest citrus trees, but I planted the tree in a poor site with too much ground water.

    Far out, that is hot. The next four days here are sunny and around 60’F! Yay!



  26. Hi Claire, Margaret, Al, Damo and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, however I worked in the big smoke today (and got the story for next weeks blog all at the same time) but ended up getting home late and am tired.

    I’m heading to bed. Will speak tomorrow.



  27. @ Pam – that’s quite a story about the dump truck. I’m glad that the damage was minimal and your son didn’t get hurt. I had to drive home behind Mike riding his newly purchased motorcycle, which was the first time he had driven one in 27 years. We were driving interstate highways nearly the whole way home. He told me, after we got back home safely, that it took him about the first third of the ride to regain a reasonable level of confidence in his driving. Thankfully this was Sunday morning, when the highways were not overly crowded.

    @ Lew – our public library just re-closed the interior of all its branches, though curbside delivery remains available.


  28. @ Lew,

    I’ll add two thumbs up for the pickle juice. It helps my rare leg cramps and really helps the Princess with hers. Eating the occasional pickle also seems to be a bit preventative.


  29. @ Margaret – Thanks for the tips! I used to have problems with leg cramps, and way back in the early 80s, started eating a banana a day, and they stopped. Until now. So, I think it’s the salt. I’ve also increased my intake of water. Maybe I’m not paying enough attention to the weather. Lew

  30. @ Damo – Well, we’ve always had a lot of blueberries, here in the Pacific Northwest. But, it’s getting crazy. Everyone is jumping on the blueberry band wagon. Here at the Institution, we’re kind of a blueberry demonstration garden. Every spring, the Master Gardeners give a blueberry seminar. I went to the one, last year. Lots of people who were going to get into blueberries, commercially. Also, not too far south of us, some multi-national conglomerate, bought 500 acres and are putting it all in, in blueberries. Maybe the prices will go down?

    The Korean zombie movie is waiting for me, at the library. I’ll pick it up, today. Also, to pick up, is “Jo-Jo Rabbit.” A comedy (!?) about Hitler. Well, I suppose it’s possible. Mel Brooks got away with it. Who can forget, “Springtime for Hitler?” :-).

    Crows are smart as. And Ravens, in more so. Ravens will be our new overlords. Yesterday, I was sitting with H in the gazebo, and six crows came and perched in a tree, light standard, quit close by. Just watching … watching. It was kind of creepy. Shades of Alfred Hitchcock. The school ground scene in “The Birds” is the best. Lew

  31. @ Inge – I was wondering what to do with that jar of pickles, that has been languishing in the pantry. I guess this is the “special occasion” I have been saving them, for. Lew

  32. Yo, Chris – Well, it was 84F (28.88C) yesterday. They said we’d have a couple of hot days, and then a cooling trend. Change in the forecast. Hot through the weekend. I want a refund! 🙂 .

    “Dead eyes … reptilian nature.” Yup, that’s the presenter, to a tee. He strikes me as a bitter little man. But, someone must like him. He “presents” on several series. There was a really good one, about hiking around Britain.

    No, it didn’t have to happen, but here we are. I went to the Club, yesterday, and on the reader board at the entrance, advising people to wear masks, someone had added that three businesses in Chehalis have been fined, $10,000 for non compliance. Haven’t seen anything on the local news, so, the story might have been garbled, as frequently happens. Might be some place far, far away. Some distant galaxy.

    Anagrams? Lots of the duffers around here do “word search” puzzles. Supposed to keep them mentally sharp. Not that I’ve noticed 🙂 .

    Well, housing estates. “Five models to choose from!” And, 150 units. In those situations, people sometimes work hard to individualize their houses. Within the strictures of the CC & Rs.”

    I saw an interesting review, yesterday. “The Journeys of Trees” (St. George). How forests migrate (very slowly) over time. By gosh, the library has three copies, and one was sitting on the shelf. In transit. So, maybe by next week.

    We have a collection of three grape varieties. They’re runners and tendrils were about to overwhelm a car, in the parking lot. So, after checking with the Master Gardeners, I hacked them back, quit a bit, last night. As near as I can tell, we’ll get some grapes off of them, this year. Don’t know if any are seedless. Those could be dried. But, for a week or two they’ll be plenty to eat out of hand. Saw another dear, last night, but he was heading away from the gardens, so, no worries. Lew

  33. Chris,

    The BIG news in Spokane…2 bison got loose from a local ranch and wandered through the south end of town. Yes, buffalo. They were corralled at a local park. I happen to know the softball diamond at which they were apprehended: I played and umpired many games there.

    Mom and dad both had active minds. However, dad could never shut his mind off and tended to fret over things. After he retired from teaching, he really didn’t do anything to keep his mind properly active. Mom, on the other hand, well at age 80 she needed a hip replacement. They told us that there was a 15% chance that the anesthesia might give her severe memory issues or even dementia. Why? Because they keep patients just asleep enough not to wake up during the operation, but some do and remember it with horror and sue the surgeon. So they add some forgetfulness drug to it in case the patient wakes up – they won’t remember it and no lawsuit. It is NOT safe for brains over 70. Mom was in the 15%.

    We’ve bought some things from that orchard/farm before, but never this much. They’re friendly and will remain our go-to place for fruits. The dehydrated peaches are awesome. The drying process does indeed maximize the sugar, so they are pretty sweet. Gotta count the pieces when eating them to avoid overdosing on the sugars! Last batch of apricots hits the dehydrator tomorrow. Well, probably. They may be too soft, in which case I’ll cut them in half and freeze them in bags of 4 apricots. I can find room for that in the freezer.

    Hot today, hit 38.33C at my house today. Worse is that it was windy all day. Things that I watered this morning were bone dry by 4:30 in the afternoon. I’ve never seen all varieties of vegetables struggling with yellowed leaves before.

    40C expected the next 2 days. Like Al, we have a very good heat pump/AC that is rated for a larger house. Ours is 934 S.F. and the unit is rated for a house the size of Al’s.

    3 fires on or near the Rez. The one on the Rez is pretty well under control. It’s was on the edge of Nespelem, Washington,where the tribal government offices are. The other two are north of the west end of the Rez. It sounds like the fire crews are getting the upper hand on those also. We’ve got relatives near 2 of the 3.

    Sounds like you’re extremely busy trying to get things put together before there’s another supply chain break. Smart. I firmly adhere to “prepare for the worst and hope for the best”.

    Yes, that was indeed Zaphod’s line. I know someone who thought it was so good that he’d try it himself. That backfired in a rather spectacular manner! Fun to observe and glad it wasn’t me.

    Ah yes, Alfred E… Our family motto, so the story goes* has long been “What, me hurry?” We attempted to sue Mad Magazine when they warped our motto into Alfred E’s signature phrase, but it was wasted effort.
    *This story is something that I concocted when in physics graduate school in one of my then frequent creative moments. Unfortunately, most of my creativity was similar to this story and not in picking up graduate level physics.

    The song lyric shift means something else if you think about it. Yes, you can also sing the lyrics of Amazing Grace to the tune of House of the Rising Sun. I’ve also pulled that one in public with a better result than the Amazing Grace faux pas.

    This can occur with other songs. I really enjoy the Robert Service poem “Duello” and have had it memorized for a long time.
    Interestingly, I had one of Those Moments and realized that Duello can be sung to the tune of the Christmas song “Good King Wenceslaus”. I also realized that Duello can be sung to the tune of “Yankee Doodle”. Which means that the words for Wenceslaus and Doodle can be sung to each other’s tunes. “Good King Doodle”? “Yankee Wenceslaus”?

    For some reason, some music instructors are too serious for their own good. I was fortunate that my college music theory instructor was NOT one of those. He was an excellent jazz trumpeter, but also played piano. He’d often lecture us while playing his arrangement of “Girl from Ipanema” on the piano. That was one relaxed learning atmosphere!


  34. @Lew

    I really enjoyed JoJo Rabbit, but I do note it is made by the same director who did Thor Ragnarok, What we do in the shadows and Hunt for the Wilderpeople. From memory you were not a fan of that humour style, so YMMV.

    I must admit to a large personal failing, I have not seen any Hitchcock movies. I have several on the “list”, but have not seen any. I should get around to that I suppose, the short clips I have seen of his stuff are always well done.


  35. Hi Lewis,

    Reading between the lines it sounds as if so far you have had a pleasant if somewhat cool-ish summer? Or have I completely misinterpreted your previous comments. It does seem far hotter pretty much anywhere east of you. Winter here has been relatively warm but fairly damp all the same, although July has so far been unusually dry due to the two east coast low pressure systems which have smashed the mid-east coast of the continent over the past week or two. All those east coast low pressure systems brought here was a whole bunch of fog and thick cloud. If they happen during summer, the storms have much more energy and they bring a massive amount of rainfall (good, but not so good if you take my meaning).

    As for weather and climate related refunds, please refer all correspondence to management. Although between you and I, poking the weather Gods hard seems like an unwise move. Anyway, best of luck with that!!! Hehe!

    As to reptilian, it has been a strategy of some people to rely upon natural gifts and inherent talents, others accrue favours. That sounds a bit Machiavellian doesn’t it? It reminds me of an old saying about soaring with eagles, but then such talk troubles me because I am most definitely of the turkey ground dwelling ilk! 🙂

    Mate, we moved rocks today. Big rocks, small rocks, and mid-sized rocks. All of the rock work around the soil bridge project has now been completed! The garden bed which was soil last week has now been mulched up. Yay! And it was a perfect winter’s day. 60’F, blue skies and not even the hint of a breeze. Might do a burn off tomorrow as the conditions look set to continue.

    Things have taken a turn for the worse down here and as of Sunday midnight, masks are now compulsory outside of a home right across the state. Some additional areas have had restrictions applied to them. And John Lennon jokes aside, some of our state folks appear to have allegedly broken quarantine in another state and caused a few cases. Your trademark words on such matters appears to hold true.

    Interestingly in the big smoke, restaurants are back to take away only, and so many have shut their doors again. There is still no possibility reading a book whilst enjoying a coffee and muffin, but I do my best to support their business. Up here in this council area you can do that, but there are so few tables available due to social distancing that I don’t linger around for very long, unlike some ‘tone-deaf’ people that I’ve noticed are doing. I read, eat, drink, and then head off again. In order for the business to be viable, they have to turn over tables.

    Fines are tough. I suspect the people breaking quarantine will face jail time. The defence force is now randomly door knocking on people who have tested positive and can you believe 29 of them weren’t home. Where were they is a good question that they may find themselves having to answer. Nobody wants to be described as assisting police with their inquiries!

    Oh you are cheeky about the word games and mental acuity. If all they do are word games… Tell you a funny story about that. Today we spent most of the day mucking around with rocks. If I had to do that task every single day, then I would ache to my very bones. But no, tomorrow we might do a burn off and move some soil. That work involves different muscles and I have a hunch that the brain is like that too. I’ve known some very bright people with excellent academic credentials, but mate, they lacked common-sense.

    Levittown is like my nightmare. Even the photo sent chills down my spine. After WWII there were acute labour shortages in the construction industry down here. I’ve read accounts that whole streets of people used to get together and construct the houses to basic plans. The houses were quite well made with quality materials and have withstood the test of time. Although the post war houses are very plain to look at. We built this house with our own hands, it is not that hard to do.

    I knew that about trees moving. Plants walk across the landscape all of the time and they have lots of different ways of going about the task. One of the interesting things that Eucalyptus trees can do is to hybridise to new climates and soils within three generations. That’s what I’d call super-tough. Strangely enough I believe that Oaks and possibly many other species of trees can do that too.

    With the grapes you should be able to see the clusters of grapes forming on the vines. Grape vines are very interesting plants, and I’m not sure when my lot will produce any grapes. At the moment they seem like all they are doing is growing. Do you know (or can guess) how old your grape vines are?

    The editor is really into the book Hollow Kingdom, and she mysteriously remarked today that I’ll enjoy the central tenet of the story. She also said something about the book being made into an animated series which should be interesting.

    Mr Greer’s blog was astounding today! 🙂



  36. Hi Claire,

    Thanks, and we really had no idea how much energy the old Scritchy was consuming of ours. She was OK that dog, but she finished life not as the dog that she originally was for most of her life. We looked after her right to the end.

    🙂 You can name it, but the question is: should you name it? Names have power and lest we draw attention to ourselves. Things are getting very strange and very uncertain down here.

    Yes, well it is true that alcohol does tend to promote a certain lack of social distancing, but 10pm is before my bedtime! Sorry, I shouldn’t laugh about such things, but it is kind of funny when you think about it. Way back in the day when last call for drinks used to be 6pm on a Saturday (this was way before my time) I read that people used to order up big and just sit the drinks in front of them. Thus proving one person’s restriction is another person’s sneaky evasion.

    From a purely brutally practical economic perspective: As a society we might not be able to afford to eliminate this one, although that seems to be the policy being pursued down here. So yeah, I hear you about guinea pigs. Interesting times.

    Go Mike! Used to ride myself commuting to work for a decade. One of the really big associations (not a club!) used to organise a ‘toy run’ for needy kids presents for Christmas. It was a lot of fun riding in a huge group of other hundreds and hundreds of other riders. I can understand the appeal. 🙂



  37. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you and the past two years has seen the complete change of the canine guard and we’ve had to make that particular decision four times now. Not one of the times was easy, but the dogs sort of tell you it’s time to go. Scritchy was most certainly the strangest story of all of them, as she really did lose her marbles. For some reason she never bothered Ollie, but she really used to rip into the two girl puppies – it was brutal. Dunno why that would be.

    It is a huge responsibility to look after someone with dementia. And I can’t even begin to imagine what it would be like to look after someone who was physically very strong, whilst they’d lost the plot. It could actually be a bit risky attempting to restrain them. I’ve known of someone who was lovely when they were all there, but once they got dementia they went super mean – kind of a bit like old Scritchy, but in human form. I sort of believe that until people experience such difficulties (like the kids who aren’t visiting you mentioned) they can sort of disregard it somehow – dunno.

    Yeah, well masks are now compulsory outside of the home from Sunday midnight onwards. There have been allegedly people breaking out of quarantine – and the defence force personnel are randomly door knocking on infected folks some of whom were apparently not home – not good and a criminal offence now I believe.

    We’re still not in lock down in this council area, but the Barbarians are pounding upon the gates of our fine rural area! Just kidding, but I thought that I overhead a lady yesterday skiting about how she travelled down the back roads to get up here. She seemed inordinately pleased with herself.

    Moved some rocks today into the soil bridge area and that project is now completed. Good stuff, and we recovered an inordinate amount of rocks. Although Peak Rocks is still with us – it never goes away.



  38. Hi Pam,

    Thank you and you know what? The decision never gets easier. The decision to get Scritchy put down was a very hard decision to make. You’ve mentioned the number of dogs buried on your land before – and I’m sure every one of them would be missed.

    Ollie is a fascinating breed isn’t he? Imagine being able to smell a wild pig at a distance of 6km away. A truly sensitive nose. It is funny how Ollie is such a scary looking dog, but he has the sweetest nature of any dog that I’ve yet encountered, although I have worked on socialising him since he was a pup. I’ve seen Ruby and Plum hanging off his ears by their teeth and he just looks at them and says: “I love you Ruby and Plum, maybe Plum a little bit more than Ruby. Actually, yeah Plum is nicer!” And they push the boundaries with him too. I assume the breed is a down under variety of dog not seen in your country, having been bred up in Queensland?

    Yes, I have constructed soil bridges before and I believe it will hold up. The garden terraces work the same way. The trick is ensuring that water does not channel and the rocks, mulch and locally quarried crush rock with lime disperse a lot of energy from crazy heavy rainfall. But I don’t really know.

    Wise, very wise! Yes, it most certainly sounds like secret guy business and best not be involved! 🙂 Oh my! Has your son yet understood how the wheels came to fall off the dump truck? So many questions… But it is nice to hear that the story ended well. Sorry to hear about the Mock Orange shrub, but at least nobody was injured. And keeping cool in a crisis is an excellent tool, ya just get to enjoy the ‘freak out’ after the event when everyone is safe and the truck hadn’t crashed into the house (much explaining would be required in that instance – you might suggest that your son would be assisting you with your inquiries! And nobody wants that.)

    Actually snapping steel cables can sail through the air and injure people, so glad that the only damage was an oak tree (which hopefully is not seriously damaged).

    Yup, things can go wrong quickly and without notice.



  39. Hi Al,

    Thank you for the kind words regarding Scritchy. I sure appreciate reading them.

    Ouch, 105’F is one hot day as I can attest. The hottest here that I have yet seen is about 114’F. Top work with going with a small but, well constructed for the conditions house. Had to convert your floor space into metric so as to get an idea of how big the house is. Respect for such a choice and the insulation.

    Yes, well with hydro power you are indeed lucky. There was a report on the radio early today which suggested that within a decade or so there may be times when 90% of the electricity grid energy will be sourced from wind, solar and hydro. In the far distant future I can safely predict that 100% of the energy will be from renewable resources in much the same way as the not too distant past! 😉

    Wildfires are a big problem here too and preparing for them takes more than just a bit of my time. Having several large rivers as fire breaks is pretty handy. I’ve seen wildfires burning right down to the waters edge on farm dams around these parts, but a flowing river would be a very handy break.

    Hey, some seasons are far worse than others for wildfires that’s for sure. I hear you!

    Well done with the food testing, and it must have been an awful hardship to have had to conduct those tests with the chocolate chip cookies. 🙂



  40. Hi Inge,

    I’d imagine that peat would be in reasonable supply in your part of the world. You can find it in various locales in this state, but it is rare.

    Please spare me a thought as all that ‘ghastly’ stuff is what I have been using for the past fifteen years. Puts a different spin on the plant growth and harvests here doesn’t it?

    Anyway, when that is all that one has access too, well it has to do. But yes, I accept that the materials have some contaminants in them.



  41. Hello again
    I believe that it is the ‘green’ lobby that has given the death knell to peat. We have discovered a source now but it is expensive.
    Have been warned that I pass a wasps’ nest on my way to check my post box. It is in the ground and an animal has been digging it out. We think that it must have been a badger after the grubs. A next door neighbour is going to deal with it. He has his property let out to holiday makers so has more reason to feel concerned.


  42. @ Lew – Part of Levittown, PA was in the school district (Pennsbury) that I attended for my last two years of high school and graduated from. We didn’t live there (it was on one end of the district and we lived at the other end), but a friend of mine did, so I drove there to see her on occasion. It was way too easy to get lost in there. All the houses were about the same, and the streets twisted around, as in the photo. Oxford Valley Mall, mentioned in the entry on Levittown, PA, was close to our house and we shopped there.

    @ DJ – my mom had a knee replacement in 2014, at age 80, and her memory deteriorated somewhat as a result, which she will tell you herself. She says no more surgery for her, with which I agree totally.


  43. @ Claire – Our library system (5 counties, 27 branches) has never re-opened it’s interiors. And, we didn’t even have curbside pick- up, for about 2 months. But, they were really pushing the on-line stuff. Lew

  44. @ Damo – I LOVED “Hunt for the Wilderpeople.” So, maybe “Jo-Jo Rabbit?” I’ll watch it, tonight. I watched “Train to Busan”, last night. Full review in my epistle to Chris.

    Re: Hitchcock. Yup. You gotta fill that hole in your edu-mo-cation. I’d suggest start with “The Birds” or “Rear Window.” Lew

  45. Yo, Chris – I meant to mention that I really like the light (lens?) flares, in the first photo. LOL. And, your body language clearly conveys, “I am in high dudgeon 🙂 . Seems like every movie I watch, in the extras the cognoscenti natter on and on over if lens flares are a good thing, or a bad thing. Or is it just showboating. I think some people watch films, too closely. It’s the same kind of nonsense you find in the art world.

    Well, we hit 92F (33C), yesterday. I know it can’t hold a candle to what DJ and Al are going through, but, our building is not well insulated, my apartment faces south and I’m up under the roof on the third floor. I ran the AC all day, yesterday, and, if my funky little 1930s thermometer is accurate, it was still 80F in the bathroom, which is the coolest room in the apartment. I’m sure my next electric bill will be a stunner. But, that’s ok. Given the layout of this apartment, I hardly ever have to kick on the heat, in winter.

    We’ve been seeing a few articles, here, about the storms in Australia. Coastal erosion, houses falling into the sea.

    Speaking of “referring all correspondence to management”, I finally finished our yearly “satisfaction survey.” It’s supposedly anonymous, but last year, they asked for age and sex. I pointed out that as the only 70 (at that time) year old male in the building, it wasn’t very anonymous. This year, they dropped that. We were supposed to turn it into our building office, but I (and many other people) sent it direct to Seattle. Just to keep things on the up and up 🙂 . I doubt it will do any good, and the thing is probably just a pressure release mechanism. It ended up a type written page and a paragraph. No ranting. Just laid out the facts in an outline form. I was very careful to kick it off with a.) all the things in the comments happened before the pandemic and b.) it all started with the Housing Director, appearing on the scene. Any-who, the darned thing is out of what little hair I have left, and I can get back to more important things.

    I did see an article where some woman in New Zealand broke out of her hotel quarantine, with her kids, to get one last look at father / grandpa. Well, I’m sure she felt completely justified. I wish our authorities would do a bit of door knocking. Looking at the figures, I’m sure people are breaking quarantine, all the time. 9 new cases, in our county, yesterday. Bringing us to a grand total of 173.

    Home or barn raising used to be a pretty standard tradition, here. Sure, it’s not to hard to build a house, but it’s all the bureaucratic horse apples that go along with it, these days. Those make-work middle managers Mr. Greer was talking about.

    The grape vines are pretty old. All three of them have trunks as round as my wrist. Master Gardeners repaired the supports, this year. But, there’s only so much they can do. The raccoons like them. 🙂 . This is the first year I’ve paid much attention to them.

    Well, I had the evening, last night, that I had planed for Sunday. I made up the other pizza and loaded it with extras. Olives, a whole diced onion, shiitake mushrooms and a good sprinkling of basil I grew and dried, myself. A good sprinkling of cheddar cheese, to hold everything together. Now, that tasted like a pizza!

    “Train to Busan.” The Korean zombie movie. We got fast zombies. Hordes of fast zombies. Think “Z-Nation.” There was a sullen little kid, who gets dragged through the movie, from one end to the other, but, at least she’s not wailing and screaming along the way. Much. So, would I recommend it? Well, I liked it enough that I’m going to see if I can hunt up the sequel. Lew

  46. @Lew

    Hunt For Wilderpeople is more similar to JoJo Rabbit in tone and style than What We Do In The Shadows, so I reckon you might enjoy it. As a heads up, if you ever speak to a Kiwi, the correct answer is that you love *all* movies and TV shows which involve Taika Waititi – he is a national treasure.

    Train To Busan was a pretty solid zombie flick I thought – haven’t got the “sequel” yet, but plan to watch at some point.

  47. Hi DJ,

    Bison are massive, and it does make you wonder if they’d respect the yellow tape with the ‘crime scene do not cross’ insignia. 🙂 Years and years ago a bull got out and was running around this area (down the road to be precise). So as you do you whilst you are driving along, you encounter a running bull with a couple of people chasing it from a reasonable distance to the rear of the bull. I didn’t want any part of that story, except that a local farmer later admonished me and asked why I hadn’t stopped the running bull, as that was such and such a person’s bull which had got out. As if that is a natural thing for people to know how to do! Oh well.

    Mate, that is awful but surgery at any age is a risk. It’s an invasive procedure after all. I’d never heard of drugs being administered so that patients avoid the horror of waking up mid surgery (or gawd forbid remembering the procedure). What a nightmare. Speaking of not doing anything to keep one’s mind active, people would do well to recall the big three: Friends, hobbies and purpose. Oh yeah, especially so for those folks who were particularly work focused.

    Orchard / farms are happy to sell produce direct to the public because they usually get better margins and don’t have to rely on sales to one big purchaser (always a risky option). Mate this story is on my mind because I’m reading The Grapes of Wrath and the concentration of land ownership is more than a minor problem.

    Hot and windy sounds like fire weather to me. Good luck with the fires on the rez and hope that everything stays small and low key. We had a burn off today in preparation for the summer. If it means anything, the vegetables will bounce back if you water them once the sun has set for the day. The plants do that here on most hot days and it can get as hot as 44’C / 111’F. We’re not usually advised to water vegetables at night due to fear of fungal diseases, but in super hot and dry climates it works. Watering during the day can actually burn the leaves – or so I’ve been told.

    Exactly, we’re shoring up supplies for the various summer projects. If the greenhouse project doesn’t get constructed, we’ll have to adapt and make do, but it would be much nicer if I had access to the greenhouse. As hot as it gets here, capsicum (peppers) just don’t get enough heat to produce full sized fruits, so that is probably the only crop we might try in the greenhouse. But the seedling raising is crucial.

    What me hurry? Oh yeah, I get that. As you may have already guessed the editor and I are super organised, but today the tree dudes turned up and helped us (heaps!) with some of the work around here. We go back years and years and we’re all cool, but they operate on a different understanding of time than we do. That isn’t a criticism because they’re great people, but I’ve learned over the years to accept that they see the world differently. They’re on islander time. I had to adapt my expectations, and they had to meet me half way and it took years and years, but here we are today. So I spent most of the day cleaning up after them, but far out those blokes can do work that I just can’t do. There is a bit of Noblesse Oblige in the relationship. I may write about that story next.

    I doff my hat to you as at least you can understand graduate level physics.

    Ah yes, I will think upon it. Amazing Grace (which I can actually play on the guitar) is a song of supplication, whilst I’m guessing House Of The Rising Sun is also a supplication but with a twist of moral warning and decrepitude? Dunno.

    Did you just type: Good King Doodle and Yankee Wenceslaus? I can’t top your humour! 🙂

    Well, the guitar teacher was very cool, but was not so cool as he used to tell me that when he was a kid a Catholic nun first began instructing him to play the piano and she kept a wooden ruler ready to hand just in case he keyed an incorrect note or chord. So, he took up the guitar instead… I’ve taught plenty of people over the years and have used that story mercilessly and in an amusing manner whilst wielding a ruler. The nun did all of the work though on that story… A sad way to teach someone.



  48. @ Claire:

    My mother had a hip replacement at age 80 and she says the exact same thing about surgery and her memory.


  49. Hi Inge and Lewis,

    Apologies. Owing to tree dudes, long work day, client work into the late evening and long phone calls I am unable to reply this evening.

    Will speak tomorrow.



  50. @ Claire and Pam
    My mother’s hip operation occurred when she was 89 (she had fallen and broken it}. I don’t think that her memory was affected at all. Though she was completely nuts for about 3 days after the operation. Leaves me wondering whether it is done differently in the UK.


  51. Hi Chris
    The heat continues. 108 today more for the next few days then the 90s for the nex week. Keeping up with the lawn and trees with hose end sprinklers and nozzles.
    Prediction for dry lightning tonight. Hope it stays up high.

    Our 40s house in the part of town built to house the Workers at the WW2 Hanford Plutonium bomb project. The houses were built in 43 and 44 in in Eight different types. #single or two story, single and duplex, some single in reverse lay out. 2,3,4 Br. 1 or a few 2 bath rooms . All those eight were given alphabet Letter designations still in use. Ours is an “E” house single story 3 Br. 1 bath and an unfinished basement which had a coal furnace ducts a coal storage and laundry area. The houses were all government owned. Rented to workers furnished with good new furniture included. The design and execution of construction was done by a notable Spokane Architect named Gustave Albin Pherson . Within 3 months he had over 350 people churning out plans for all housing and supporting retail trade services to support about 18 to 20k people. Schools , a Hospital. All utilities. Protection. It is quite a story. The houses were sold to private citizens in the mid 50s
    And the town became self governed. The houses have been extensively remodeled over the years. The best improvements have been full 200 amp electric , HVAC, modern efficiency windows , and siding. The government continued to build housing through the early part of the 50s as the plant and Cold War needs increased. The city has about 61.5 k pop. And occupies 40 sq mi area,
    There is an unfortunate amount of neglect creeping into some areas of these WW2 period
    homes. Also there lots of very expensive newer areas.

    The lightning didn’t show up last night!
    Cheers Al

  52. Yo, Chris – Sounds like you got a lot on your plate. Ohhh! The Tree Dudes. Always good for a story or two.

    Got up to 93F, yesterday. Supposed to be 10 degrees cooler, today. I’m up for it. I realized that although I can get my apartment down to a comfortable temperature, by bedtime, by early morning, it’s warm again. Thermal inertia, I guess. I guess I should include the latest virus count with the weather report. “Cloudy, with a chance of Corona virus. 7 new cases for a total of 180.

    From our “As if we didn’t have enough to worry about,” department. Mysterious seed packets, from China, have been sent to all 50 states. Of course, (the Pandora Syndrome?) people have been planting them.

    I figure they’re either Triffids, or relatives of Audrey, from “Little Shop of Horrors.”

    I saw another article that I was curious about. I asked over at Mr. Greer’s, but haven’t seen my post yet. Any-who .. I thought I’d run it by our two resident economists, You and Inge.

    The numbers are in, and in the second quarter of the year, the US GDP (Gross Domestic Product) plunged 32.9%. The worst decline in “modern times.” So I don’t know if that includes the Great Depression. But I wonder, is this something I should worry about? Loose sleep over? There was also a sidebar article, that I didn’t read, that said Germany has also suffered a first quarter decline, “the worst in it’s history.”

    Break out the brewskis and have fun with the Tree Dudes. Lew

  53. @ Damo – The sequel to “Train to Busan” is called “Peninsula”. It’s just hitting our theaters, here in the States, next week. So, it will be awhile before we see the DVD.

    Well, I watched “Jo-Jo Rabbit”, last night. Hmmm. Still trying to figure out my feelings about the film. (As I sit watching the cursor flash, on my screen.)

    I think it was well worth watching, and I found many parts quit interesting, and some of it, even funny. But, parts also made me really uncomfortable. I think it’s a generational thing. Even though I was born shortly after the war, the war was always very much with us, as I was growing up. My Dad was in the infantry, in Europe, and present at the liberation of Buchenwald concentration camp. He only spoke of it, very briefly, twice that I can recall. Of course, he never spoke much about any kind of past, at all. Which I speculate might be one of the reasons he lived so long. Never mulled over the past.

    Of course, Hitler was always made fun of, and caricatured, but to see him in 3D, strutting around the screen (even as Jo-Jo’s imaginary friend), evoked some pretty complicated feelings. Loathing, is somewhere on the list. 🙂 .

    Of course, what I REALLY liked were the sets. I’d say, looking at Jo-Jo’s parents house, they were, for the time, rather “arty.” All that Art Deco German furniture. I’ll take one of each, please. And, even the dishes they ate off of, were quit interesting. The wood detailing in the moldings and stair case. The wall papers. I may watch it again, just to ignore the action, and take a long look at the backgrounds. 🙂

    Anyway, given a bit of time, I’ll probably have a more coherent take on the film. Lew

  54. @ Claire, Pam, Inge,

    Thanks for the interesting comments about surgeries. I’ve heard that within 2 or 3 years after my mother’s hip replacement, some of the protocols were changed.


  55. Chris,

    I was driving once in eastern Montana. There was a sign near the highway that said “Beware of Buffalo on Road”. The guy riding with me thought it was a joke. I was driving a Datsun 510 wagon, and figured any buffalo might weigh more than my car. So I slowed way down. Around the next curve was a bull buffalo blocking the entire highway. My buddy’s mouth gaped open wide, very wide. He finally asked if I was gonna try to push the buffalo with my car or at least honk the horn to scare it off the road. By that time, a few others were on the highway. I said, “Dude, we’re just going to sit here 50 meters away and be very quiet. If we have to wait for 3 days, we wait for 3 days.” 10 minutes later they had left.

    Oh yeah, friends, hobbies and purpose. Sadly, my mother had all of those, but the anesthesia thingy. More sadly, my dad was low on friends, had no hobbies and had no purpose. So your Big Three is spot on.

    The other thing with the orchard is that they have higher margin things in their store. These things sell well. I should know: the Princess had me buy a few things. At least these were useful items that have already seen use by us.

    The wind died down. The 3 Rez fires are pretty well contained. We hit 41C here today. We had to leave the house for a medical thing (nothing serious and got good news). I had to wait outside or in the car. Found some shade, but it was already 38C early afternoon. Al has it worse, which I see that he mentioned. This is nasty hot.

    Glad you got to be with the Tree Guys again. They sound like they’re good guys. You and they seem to have a solid working relationship.

    Thanks for the physics vote of confidence. My graduate professors might disagree with your assessment. However, it was more an issue of being required to learn the material faster than I was able to. I found a year later I could do most of it if I could learn at my own pace. But that’s what graduate school was about – can’t handle the pace, you fail. But a lot of good came out of my going a different route in life. Wouldn’t have met the Princess otherwise.

    Yes, Good King Doodle and Yankee Wenceslaus. I was having one of my more creative moments with the names. 🙂

    Nuns? I spent 7th and 8th grades at a Catholic school. My English and Maths teacher was a nun, Bing Crosby’s niece. Math genius, musical, good actress and excellent teacher. It’s due to her influence that I cultivated the ability to do a lot of math calculations in my head. I still use it.

    She got transferred. So I had a different nun for 8th grade. For English it was grammar year. She had us diagram sentences until we were blue in the face. Very useful that was, as I totally learned grammar. I knew it so well I got out of taking a year of grammar in high school; the high school English teacher was VERY happy to let me out of that year, as, “DJ knows grammar better than I do and if he’s in this class he and I will do nothing but fight!” I have good memories of these 2 nuns.


  56. Hi Inge,

    Having never used peat I can’t really say anything meaningful about the usage other than I’m guessing that historically it was a very valuable resource for all sorts of reasons. I’d been reading references to the material in the most excellent Rodale book on seedling raising which Claire referred me to. Do you raise many seedlings nowadays in your greenhouse? And out of sheer self interest, what material did you use to raise seedlings? Plus I do hope that no naughty pheasants have taken up residence in your greenhouse recently?

    It wasn’t until I moved to the country that I truly understood that just because something is labelled as being ‘green’, doesn’t necessarily make it so. The locals cured me of that belief!

    The European wasps would be thoroughly enjoying your summer weather. You know, I’m not a fan of them and also give them no quarter should they be foolish enough to set up camp on the farm (as they do from time to time). The hotter and drier it is, the more the wasps love the conditions.

    On the other hand, despite it still being winter down here, the European honey bees were out and about flying around the farm today. The bees clearly needed to stretch their wings and get some fresh air and collect some pollen and nectar. The bees also pack a punch if a person foolishly decided to upset the hive.

    Speaking of animals which can hold their own with pretty nasty customers (such as the European wasps), the Echidna’s (which look like spiny ant eaters) can scratch their way into an ants nest and dine upon the ants. I like the Echidna’s because the ants bite and cause chemical burns to skin if a person was unlucky enough to encounter just one ant. More than one ant would be problematic.



  57. @ Lew
    Germany’s quarterly decline the worst in history!!! Surely not.
    I would only worry if currency collapsed completely though I do expect the economy to get into severe trouble.


    @ Chris
    I don’t raise any seedlings in a greenhouse, leave that to my son. He will then pass them on to me for planting out. I plant a lot of seeds directly into their final growing place. I guess that Son raises seeds in whatever compost he has handy. In other words we are both somewhat slapdash.
    No pheasants massacring the greenhouses.
    Wasps come and drink at water that I put out for birds and squirrels.


  58. Hi Al,

    Green lawns under 42’C / 108’F weather is a big ask. Grass with its shallow root systems I have noted, does not like such weather.

    Mate, I have so much area under grass that I let nature take her course and the grass dies back every single year. However, as conditions cool and the winter rain returns the grass greens up again. That is how nature works. If I could avoid arson then I’d grow masses of wildflowers and the critters would feast all summer, but arson is a problem.

    Although, maintaining a green grass around a house during a hot and dry summer is an almost perfect fire break. So yeah, if you have the water, go for it. There was a bloke down here who did just that before the truly dreadful Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 and his house was fine, although he ended up in significant legal trouble because of the vegetation management practices on his property. There is middle ground in there.

    Hope the lightning was kept at bay.

    Dunno about you, but I have heard rumours that the ‘E’ houses on your estate are of much higher quality than the ‘C’ houses – just sayin! 🙂 Only mucking around as I have no idea at all. Hey, what a fascinating town and area which you live in. I read about the architect Gustav Albin Pehrson and his work. The name of the town is quite appealing given what is going on in the area. And I’m amazed that potatoes are being grown in the same area as grape vines (although I do that here as well).

    I’m always fascinated by the many differences between your country and down under. From what I understand, the maximum current that a house connected to the grid on single phase electrics can draw is 60A, but we utilise a higher voltage of 240V (which between you and I looks more like 233V give or take a whole bunch of fluctuation either way in the voltage) and that translates to your 110V experience as about 130A. To get 200A at your voltage, a house would need to be connected to the three phase electric supply. The very best the inverter on the house batteries can supply is 62.5A at mains voltage 240V, but even then that is a peak supply and not continuous.

    Neglect and maintenance is part of the mixed bag that is the future. It’s exciting don’t you reckon? A builder once expressed the candid opinion that the current housing stock will have a life span of about 30 to 40 years. Compared to Richland, that is not a good outcome.



  59. Hi DJ,

    Mate if I were heading over to your country I would really enjoy the Pacific Northwest all the way through to Montana. But you have just upped the ante with your talk of Datsun 510’s – which we have discussed before. Down under the vehicles were known as the Datsun 1600 and the machine rocked and went like stink as if it were a go-kart. Little wonder they were such prolific rally cars. Even had a 5 speed gearbox. Sorry, I’m now lost in mechanical reverie.

    Always wise to take wildlife into account on the roads. Plenty of people don’t do that down here, and there is a bit of road kill which I’m not cool about. Most of the big wildlife here is out and about at night and when driving in the forest I stick to about 40kmh at night. That’s pretty slow, but my reactions are pretty good and that combination saves a lot of drama. Fortunately the roads are very quiet, and I usually let anyone who wants to go faster, just pull around and do what they want to do in relation to speed. Hitting a bison would be a very dangerous thing to do.

    Life is a gamble at the best of times, but having the big three on your side does marginally skew the results in your favour. Hopefully so – and that is my story and I’m sticking to it!

    You may not have heard of the English bloke Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, but yeah he also suggests similar business strategies which your lady clearly approves of (having bought the ‘few things’ at the orchard). There isn’t much money otherwise in selling produce. You and your lady were conducting a field experiment of the concept of Noblesse Oblige.

    Glad that the medical business was all good, and that you managed to find some shade on an otherwise very hot day. I see that Heathrow Airport in London also scored a similar temperature. Must be something in the water and I’m pretty certain that the folks in the UK wouldn’t have enjoyed that weather extreme. And the weegies were complaining about 28’C. Not saying that they don’t know nuffin anywhoo, but that would be a very cool and pleasant summer day for me.

    We’re good with the tree dudes, and it has taken a long time to build up this sort of a relationship.

    Which to choose: Physics education or Life long companion? Hmm, a tough choice but you seem to have done OK. 🙂 Early on at Uni I was a so-so student, but about half way through I found my feet and then blitzed it and earned Honours. I’ll tell you a funny story about that: At first I had this odd idea that I would be able to somehow add in my own thoughts and opinions, but it took me a while to understand that I was there to do one thing: Answer the question asked. It all became much easier after that, but somehow less satisfying after the realisation. And the editor coached me in how to go about answering the question. It didn’t take much coaching, just a nod in the right direction. Oh well.

    Good stuff with being able to use your brain to perform mathematical calculations. My High School accounting teacher didn’t allow us students to use a calculator – even in exams (with the exception of the final state wide exam). It is odd how some teachers can inspire students to greater heights.

    Exactly, how does one teach grammar? To my mind it looks like a shonky construction overlaid upon a far larger and more nuanced structure. The grammatical rules used to do my head in. e.g. This here is such and such, except for in this case where it is then such and such. Is knowing such arcane material useful? I learn language through usage and then iron out the rough bits. How does that compare to your experience?



  60. Hi Lewis,

    In the photo, Old Scritchy – the very naughty and mildly demented – boss dog had just been found on the road well away from the house, and your assessment of my body language was entirely correct. What to do with her took up a lot of our time over the past months. For your edification, I also have a photo of the editor doing a similar: ‘walk of Scritchy’. That dog sure pushed our buttons, and she was only in that circumstance because we believed that we’d come up with a workable solution for her. There is a part of me which wishes that she gave up on incessantly fighting the two sheep dog pups Plum and Ruby, but no the fight must go and she was the fightenest dog down under.

    Dunno, but the strategy which Scritchy took seemed utterly self-defeating as every step along her road to maliciousness she used up her store of goodwill. But then such an outcome was part of her dementia so we cut her a lot of slack.

    Don’t you reckon that watching films too closely, would possibly diminish the enjoyment of film? Although, there is a school of thought which suggests that some folks would watch a film purely for the technical spectacle and narrative be dammed. Dunno, I prefer narrative but that maybe just me.

    Far out, 80’F inside the house is very unpleasant. About 85’F is the warmest that I’ve experienced inside the house and part of me wanted to just throw open the doors and windows despite the much hotter weather outside. How are other parts of your country going in the heat?

    It feels a bit dodgy on my part to mention that it was a superb winters day today. The sun shone and it was about 60’F outside. Went north and picked up gourmet pies (Chicken, Leek and Bacon no less) as the business was in a locked down area and they really need support right now. It was eerily quiet and I’m allowed to travel there, although they can’t travel here. Everyone I’ve spoken to today is in a bit of a state because apparently some serious announcement looks set to be made tomorrow. My brain hurts with all this stuff, but at least I enjoyed a nice sunny winters day and had a gourmet pie. In the afternoon the Green Wizards caught up for a virtual meet up. They’re all in lock down, except for myself and the New Zealand contingent. It was a good turn out and a lively chat, although candidly people are looking tired.

    The coastal erosion over on the east coast was not good. Houses along coast lines have difficulties surviving 33 foot waves, and there were two storms ‘east coast lows’ in quick succession. Word on the street (and weather nerd alert – I include myself in that category) that we are going to enjoy a ‘cut off low’ next week. That is a chunk of Antarctic air that has been cut off from the jet stream of the Antarctic and then drifted north. Not good, but I’ve seen those before. It might bring some snow, but the forecast doesn’t look cold enough to me – yet. Words such as dynamic are being thrown around. Love a good storm!

    Yes, it is a well known fact that the best anonymous surveys are those so constructed that the respondents can be pointed to and identified. Honestly people constructing such surveys should take a good hard look at themselves. Well done you for taking them to task. I mentioned a week or two back that I did a similar thing for a gardening survey where one question was so constructed as to lead to a particular answer. Not sure how much good my feedback was because certainly they did not write to me to thank me.

    “Can I be really clear, just in case there is any doubt at all, that there is absolutely no reason or need to drive from Melbourne to Wodonga to have a Big Mac.” To put the comment into perspective that is about a three to four hour drive. The travel reasons from people in locked down areas are a bit bizarre.

    Of course, with the house and/or barn raising, bureaucratic horse apples are a problem. Unfortunately the legislation has to be read from beginning to end and then responded to in kind. Byzantine would be a good word to use to describe the process. I’m not bragging, but my professional training prepares me for such things although it is a dubious skill. Anyway, I’ve got four thick folders full of required paperwork which was necessary to get the two permits to construct this house. It shouldn’t be that hard and I saved mad cash by producing most of the paperwork.

    Those are reasonably aged grape vines. Hopefully the vines produce table grapes, although you could juice some of them. Some plants produce nothing for years and years, and then all of a sudden they become productive. It is not consistent from what I’m observing.

    Yummo! A truly delightful sounding pizza. 🙂

    Z-Nation style zombies are not nice foes. I see that the name of the film sequel has reared its head. I’m yet to read the book ‘Hollow Kingdom’ and it is quite the effort to stop the editor from blurting out the funny bits of the book – of which there are many. A book for the times?

    Mate, thanks for understanding. Yesterday was epic from the moment I woke up, until the moment I went to bed. All of the activities were enjoyable, but there sure were a lot of them.

    The tree dudes had contacted me the previous evening (Thursday) to see whether I had any work for them on the Friday. Fortunately we’d changed our plans earlier on Thursday morning and so I got them doing the work we’d otherwise have done that day. The thing is, those blokes work hard as and I really appreciate their assistance about the farm. You can’t do everything yourself, and we now have a very long history and know how to work best with them.

    Did the weather cool down for you? Exactly, thermal inertia does the work and it would take a while for your building – and the land around it – to cool down.

    Why would anyone plant seeds received from an unsolicited source? Such a weird story on so many levels. Oh, they’re Triffids alright. 🙂 Honestly I have no idea what to say about the story as it is bonkers.

    I’d like to believe that I know very little about the arcane realms of economic theory. But yes, I have been also wondering what that fall in GDP meant. So I asked a bunch of people (seriously) and one of the general opinions expressed was whether the fall could be felt on the ground. And then several people chimed in and expressed the opinion that perhaps many of the activities responsible for the fall highlighted that some sectors of the economy are clearly non essential (when the chips are down).

    However, it should be noted that as they say in the jargon, current or future trends do not represent past trends. But the thing is, people have committed themselves to future spending (i.e. debt) based on those past trends, and then here we are today in strange-world (Trademark pending). What will happen when the piper comes a calling now that we are in strange-world? Few people seem to want to talk about that story. The piper came a calling in the Great Depression, but will the banks recall that they were bailed in 2008 by the same public they’re intent upon visiting? Now, that’s a question!

    Also there was a discussion that energy usage is lockstep with GDP and has been for a very long time. The correlation is clear. So what does it mean economically now that energy usage has fallen?

    No brewskies with the tree dudes, they wanted soft drink and so I gave them mixed Gatorade.



  61. Hi Inge,

    Ah thank you for sharing your experience with seed raising. Like you, I’ve been using a few select sources to raise some of the seedlings here that are unable to be direct sown (there are a number of plants that fall into that particular category). I have to kick the habit and gardener-up and learn that side of the story.

    There is a part of me which suggests that being slap-dash makes for hardier plants in the long run. Although some sensitive plants might need to be grown for a few years so as to produce a landrace version of the original plant. That is one of the subjects which is concerning me, and to be frank it is not that much different to dog breeding concerns, just with plants. I guess it reflects the realities of nature.

    Good to hear that the pheasant incursion activities have ceased and that peace reigns over your garden. 🙂

    Yes, the wasps do that here too with the water sources. And they are highly aggressive with the scarce summer resource.



  62. @ the GDP: the GDP only tracks money movement. It doesn’t care about whether the money movement comes from things that are beneficial to humans or not. A Cat 5 hurricane hitting a highly populous area will cause the GDP to be higher than otherwise, because of the extra money spent to deal with the hurricane and its effects.

    The pandemic has reduced spending in a whole host of categories. I know Mike and I have spent less than usual during the pandemic, but I do not notice that we are any worse off. So just because the GDP goes down, it does not mean people or the rest of the environment are worse off. If we are spending less on harmful activities, we and the environment are actually better off with a lower GDP.


  63. @Lew
    Enjoyed your story on JMG’s blog about the young man and the plant ID app – too funny.

    I use Weather Underground to check on my weather and they update the virus number and deaths daily for whatever county you’re looking up.


  64. @ Lew
    I should have added that GDP figures mean very little as one can be selective when deciding what to include in their make up.


  65. Yo, Chris – Word for the day: Tyromancy. Divination using cheese. Sometimes, mice are involved. “No mice were harmed in the making of this divination.” 🙂 .

    Something I keep forgetting to mention. I’m seeing lots of dragon flies, around. More than ever before. Mostly on the small side. So, I looked them up. Dragon flies are a mixed bag. They eat a lot of harmful insects. But, basically, they’ll eat any insect that smaller than them. Including pollinators. Speaking of bugs, they trapped one of the Murder Wasps, north of Seattle. Much rejoicing. The traps work. So, they’re going to “bug” them, and try to track them back to their nests. LOL. Not a job I’d want. Installing tracking devices on wasps.

    “The Walk of Scritchy Shame.” You two did all you could for the demented dog. And, cut her a lot of lee way.

    Yes, I think some film auteurs take all the joy out of watching a good movie. I feel the same way about narrative. If it doesn’t tell a coherent story, that’s interesting, I start hitting the fast forward, button. There are some movies that are considered “classics”, that are incoherent and a crashing bore.

    Well, it was 84F (28.88C) yesterday. But there was a ripping breeze from the ocean, and it was really quit pleasant. We’re supposed to have at least a week, of that. The clouds were really interesting. One of the Ladies called it a “buttermilk sky.” Small clouds scattered across the sky, like popcorn. The sunset was really nice. As the sun went down, it lit up the west side of all those little clouds.

    We have what we call “arctic outbreaks.” Sounds like your about to have an “antarctic outbreak.” A good ripping storm (that doesn’t do any damage) is always fun.

    I’m glad you’re able to still meet up with the Green Wizards, even if it’s just over the net. A bit of bucking up, even at second hand, is useful.

    Well, the survey is done, and I figure nothing much will happen. On the other hand, it kind of feels like an eerie calm before the storm.

    Breaking quarantine for a Big Mac. From a distance, it’s really kind of funny. The lame reasons people came up with. But I keep thinking about the very smug woman you came across, that dodged the road blocks. Wonder if she had any other reason, other than, “it was there.” We had five more cases, yesterday. Two were under 10 and two in their 20s. Not that we’ll ever know, but I wonder if it was a family group? We’re seeing more cases of under 10 and under 20. Every time that happens, the idea of school starting in the fall, moves further away.

    More on the mystery seeds from China. They’re turning out to be pretty benign. Flowers, herbs, veg. Apparently, it’s something called a “broom scam.” Somehow or another, they can access the accounts of people they send this stuff to, and leave positive feedback. To drive sales. I don’t know how they pull that off.

    I don’t know if you heard about the Twitter breach, a couple of weeks ago. The accounts of several famous people were hijacked, and it was made to appear that they were soliciting funds for some kind of worthy cause (byte coin, only, please). Well, I guess they raked in over $100,000. Then they sold access to those accounts at about $2,000 a pop. They caught the three masterminds. The head of the ring was a 17 year old student, in Florida. The other two weren’t much older.

    Don’t know how the grapes will turn out. There’s at least three varieties. I can see some grapes, and gosh knows what’s hiding under the leaves. If anything. LOL. When I was trimming up the vines, the thought crossed my mind that I ought to make some stuffed grape leaf, something or another. 🙂 .

    Thanks for the thoughts on the plunge in the GDP. Hadn’t even thought that a lot of that might be non essential things. Air lines, cruise ships. Unless you’re flying thousands of miles for a Big Mac, or, to go to your favorite barber. 🙂 . And, tying everything to the energy sector makes sense.

    I don’t know if the banks and financial houses can get away with what they got away with, back in 2008. There’s still a lot of hard feelings, that no one went to jail and that they were bailed out. I think if that happened again, the outcry from the public would be pretty epic.

    So, no brewskies were harmed in the making of this picture? 🙂 Lew

  66. Hi Lewis,

    Aren’t people amazing to have concocted an arcane sphere of knowledge like Tyromancy. The word sounds like some bizarre concept out of Game of Thrones.

    Another way to consider the dragon flies is that with a higher order predator lurking around your garden, there must be enough for the predators to eat, otherwise they wouldn’t be there. I’ve never actually seen a dragon fly eat as they dart all around the garden at high speed and so I can’t really say for sure what role they play. But just having them in your garden is a good sign. It is always risky and complicated to invite more and more life into your garden. At the end of the day there is no choice in the matter.

    Far out, what a job. Sounds similar to lion handler, with the occasional mishap. I guess the massive wasps can carry a GPS locator? In summer if you’re unlucky down here you can see the Sikorsky S-64 Skycrane water bombing helicopters in operation, the murder wasps are quite large so that concept came to mind. Dunno why, but for some reason the helicopter was named: Elvis. I’m certain that the helicopter does not run on cheeseburgers, but you never know. Scotty (in Simon Pegg guise) might suggest that: “ya canna change the laws of fisicks, cap’n”, so yeah cheeseburgers as a fuel source are probably off the table.

    Seen a few films like that where art takes over and narrative gets chucked aside. You should ask Damo and Mrs Damo about ‘The Lighthouse’ film. Yeah, the stories they will tell…

    That does sound like rather pleasant weather. It was another beautiful winter day down here too. Unfortunately my afternoon was marred by news that Melbourne is now under Stage 4 restrictions as of 6pm, and we’re back to Stage 3 restrictions so I’m guessing that the local pub is now shut for six weeks. I’m hoping they do take away pizza and beer at the pub as I’d support that, but you know. Anyway, Melbourne is now also under an 8pm to 5am curfew. That is a first for me. And tomorrow there will be announcements as to which businesses will have to close their doors. Six weeks… Fortunately there are apparently no cases in the mountain range.

    My shattered nerves were soothed by a very tasty apple cake, lamington and vegetable pastie from a local baker, so good stuff! We had to head out today to various farm gates we know and stock up on supplies – we knew this was coming. Hopefully we have enough materials for the various projects around here, and we spoke for a long while about how to improvise with the greenhouse project – it will certainly lend the building some old school tar paper shack ‘can-do’ charm. Nothing wrong with that. Dunno about the replacement house batteries though. Will make some inquiries, Manyana.

    How good is the term ‘bucking up’? You never hear it used down here, but I came across it in a film from your country where someone was advising another person to: ‘buck up little camper’. The person receiving the advice from memory was neither young nor small, which made it all the funnier. Fortunately the editor and I have bucket loads of ‘gumption’ and so we’re just going with the flow. People who fight against the rip tide tend to tire and drown – best to head in another and different direction.

    “eerie calm before the storm. Speaking of which, mate, you should see the weird vibe down here, and what will emerge from the six weeks of hibernation is an interesting question that we’ll eventually find out.

    You have to laugh at those crazy explanations for breaking quarantine, because the police must have been scratching their heads and wondering a similar thing. That of course is all part of dealing with the public – it can be a strange journey that one, as you are probably all too aware.

    It is all part of the great relocalisation, and I haven’t seen the woman again who was skiting to her friend about dodging road blocks to venture up to the mountain. Actually it is pretty quiet up here now, and whilst the situation is utterly horrendous and I’d really hate to consider what the mental health implications of so much uncertainty heaped upon a population who are only trained to cope with a single progress narrative. But then at the same time, I’m kind of enjoying the quiet. So it is a mixed bag really. In the long run, the imbalance of power between the urban and rural folks is shifting in favour of the rural folks, and I have a hunch the rural folks are going to have to pull a finger out and begin getting productive on a smaller local scale as will the urban folks. But we’ll eventually find out how that story plays out.

    As a comparison, school is now mostly out and at home, except for the really vulnerable kids and special provisions are being made for them – which is a very thoughtful thing to do.

    I don’t understand how vendors would pull off the ‘broom scam’ either. I’d imagine that the supply of stuff from the PR.C. has been restricted and the suppliers (and consumers) are feeling serious pain.

    Heard about the Twit breach and it is not good. When I was a kid, to be called a Twit was an insult to a person’s intelligence. You may have noticed that only very recently I upped the security of this here website. There are some very unpleasant folks out there in the wild west that is the interweb. Best to ensure that other targets make for easier prey and then the unpleasant folks go elsewhere. Of course a person can get unlucky and attract a very odd person who is obsessive, but then they can be blocked permanently. Most unpleasant folks are seeking a return on their investment, and there is no gold here. My gold is in the hard work and plants, and that in itself is an unappealing prospect.

    Go for it and trial the grape leaf. I’ve had such a Greek dish and from memory it was very tasty. For you interest I now purchase a cheese which uses a vegetarian rennet. I believe fig leaves provide one such source. The cheese is not cheap, but far out it is good stuff.

    Someone mentioned in passing yesterday that the cruise liners have been bailed out somehow. I forgot to ask for further details. There are a lot of them out there that’s for sure. Also pilots (commercial aircraft) have been kicking up a sook because with the downturn they are having troubles keep up their flying hours so as to maintain certification. Who’d have thunk it? I suspect that international travel will never return to its heady heights.

    It may be that the general public might get a bank bailout. It is possible.

    Hehe! No fluffies were harmed in the making of this blog! 🙂



  67. @ Inge – No problems. I can’t quit wrap my head around it all, anyway 🙂 . But, you’re right about “selective” accounting. When they figure our inflation rate, here, they don’t include (if memory serves), housing, medical costs or education! Not going to get an accurate picture, that way. Lew

  68. @ Margaret – I usually get my weather info from the National Weather Service. We have an official weather station, down at our airport. Their forecasts and readings are usually pretty accurate. Or, at least, the forecasts are as accurate as weather forecasting can be 🙂 .

    Actually, I was kind of joking, when I referred to virus counts, along with the weather reports. I used to look at the Weather Underground, quit a bit. Until they were bought by The Weather Channel. They shifted focus, I lost interest.

    As far as the counts go, I’m most interested in what’s going on in my county. Beyond that, it’s just the headlines I catch on the Net. Lew

  69. Yo, Chris – I imagine some scientist saying, “Order in a GPS to track the wasp. What do you mean, there’s no such tracking device? Can’t you just buy them off the shelf?” 🙂 . Maybe the S64 runs on fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches? Which were Elvis’s favorite.

    “The Lighthouse.” I watched the trailers, read a few reviews and decided, “Meh.” When I saw it was filmed in black and white (not a bad thing), I thought, “someone’s trying to be ‘arty.’ ” Glad I gave it a miss.

    I’m suspending the weather reports, for the foreseeable future, as, they’re deadly dull and boring. Unless something untoward happens. It was 80F (26.66C) yesterday, and that’s the forecast for the foreseeable future. Day in, day out. As long as the ocean breeze keeps up, very pleasant.

    I’m sure the greenhouse will be quite charming, without being twee. The usual Fern Glade Farm aesthetic 🙂 . That’s the pits, about the batteries. I’m sure you’ll figure something out. Run the border on a moonless night, with the Dirt Rat? Ollie as your wingman?

    My monthly checks are coming in, and I’m getting serious about doing some stocking up, myself. But more organized. Instead of just eye balling stuff, I need to figure out a months needs, and lock those down. Then acquire the day to day stuff, for right now. Of course, first on the list is … 42 rolls of toilet paper 🙂 .

    I really don’t notice much difference, in what’s going on, right now. Other than people being irritated because they can’t get what they want, when they want it. There still seems to be a lot of long distance travel, going on. As an example, our night manager, here at the institution, has a day job as a massage therapist. Well, the doctor that runs the office is closing down for 10 days, as he and his whole clan are running off to Utah, to meet up with other members of the clan, who are also coming from far flung areas. Is this wise? Several of the Ladies are on the go, to various family this and that. Steve went to a funeral, down in Oregon, for someone who died of the virus.

    As far as relocalization goes (which spell check doesn’t recognize, by the way), about all I’ve seen is the local newspaper is running a series on small local businesses. Everything from beekeepers to exterminators. I guess for us, things just aren’t bad enough, yet?

    Sayward from Richter’s “Awakening Land” had gumption. If one needs a roll model, she’s it.

    Well, from what I’ve read, break and enter perps always look for soft targets. A window or door unlocked. Keys left in a vehicle. Here, they’re dumping a lot of crims, back on the street. Don’t want the precious darlings to catch the virus, in jail. The crime rate may be bumping up, a bit. Too early to tell.

    I knew cardoon could be used for vegetable rennet, but not figs. I see also nettles and mallow. Somewhere, I think I’ve got a recipe for grape leaves, that I got from a Greek woman I worked with, 50 years ago. Wonder where that got to? 🙂 . I took a peek inside the grape vines, last night. There are grapes. But not (so far) in great clusters.

    I picked the first gallon of blueberries, yesterday. So, I got to, in my most inexpert opinion, take stock of this years crop. There are a lot of blueberries, and a lot of them are just coming to ripeness, now. As the Master Gardeners planted early, middle season and late berries, the harvest ought to go on for three weeks, or more. So, next up, today, is getting them in the freezer.

    It sounds like we’re going to get another $1,200 stimulus check. Both sides are agreed on that. It’s just all the other carp they want to attach to the bill that they’re hashing out. Both sides have a “wish list.” And then our Fearless Leader has to sign off on the thing. So there’s a lot of negotiation and brinksmanship. And, they’re all distracted and would rather be back in their home territories, to stump for reelection. Lew

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