House work

Last week we messed up. The editor and I had spent so long on work around the farm and also paid work that we’d neglected to do any of the house work. And house work is no small matter here. So, on Monday morning I discovered that I would have to do an entire week’s house work, by myself. I was a bit grumpy about that, but just had to suck it up. The editor had paid work to do, and so avowed herself of any and all responsibility, and I guess she has a point.

The health subject which dares not be named has messed around badly with my paid work schedule. It wasn’t that long ago that I had regular paid work and my week was full. Nowadays businesses left, right and centre have been shut down by government directive and like the RMS Titanic are taking on water badly.

Unemployment statistics are suggesting that things are now worse than at any time since the Great Depression which began 91 years ago. Certainly economic things seem far worse than they did back when I was a young bloke in my first job during the ‘recession that we had to have’ in the early 1990’s. At the time, the Federal Government artifically jacked up interest rates in order I’m guessing to restructure the economy away from manufacturing. That was a rough time for both myself and the editor.

One day I turned up to my enjoyable State Government job only to be told that I was soon to be made redundant. At the time I hardly even understood what the word ‘redundant’ meant, but the educational lack was soon taken care of. For those who don’t know, the fancy word ‘redundant’ means either no longer required, or surplus to the requirements. But largely it is not a fun state of being and you are likely to never discover your true work calling.

Fortunately, I’m nothing if not an adaptable person and so at the time I was able to find employment for a large corporate doing their billing and debt collection work. Yes, it’s a dirty job, but someone has to do it. And surprisingly, as long as the cash continued to arrive via my efforts, few people cared what I was up to during the day.

The experiences of those days have always caused me to hold back. I know of people who are slightly younger than I, and they never enjoyed the sheer horror that is wondering if you can secure employment so that you can keep a roof over your head and food upon the table. Such younger people have only known the majesty of stuff which is derived from the mysteries of continuous economic growth – whatever that means. And there are folks who were older than I, who were gainfully and continuously employed during the economic ructions. Their lives were not thrown upon its head and they also weren’t left wondering how to make the next rent payment.

Yet here we are today, and economically, things are a basket case of epic proportions. At least this time around the government is providing a huge amount of mad cash support to the community. Given that this support is paid for by debt or what is otherwise known as an advance pay day loan secured on future earnings, I do wonder how long it will all last and what will be left if the mad cash support is withdrawn.

However, getting back to the lessons learned during the recession that we had to have back in the early 90’s. The one main idea I learned was that it is foolhardy to believe that the government has your personal best interests at heart. After all, I learned the proper definition of the word ‘redundant’ by being made redundant by the State Government. The facts indeed speak for themselves in this case.

So, as I wrote before, I now always hold back and never give myself over fully. The thing is if you don’t give yourself over fully, you have reserves and energy with which to pursue your own interests that may have nothing at all to do with the dominant narrative. It was my grandfather who alerted me to this possibility. He’d lived through the Great Depression, and despite being a very well paid corporate director, he lived a modest life. He drove a locally made utility vehicle and turned his backyard tennis court over to rows and rows of vegetables. He also used to call everybody else endearingly by a very family unfriendly name. But mostly he was just prudent in his life and his actions.

I have tried to follow in those footsteps, the prudent behaviour that is, and not the habitual name calling. The editor, who was also impacted during the recession that we had to have back in the early 90’s, agrees with the strategy of being prudent. And so we work hard on making this property productive, whilst earning a living, and sometimes that means house work gets skipped entirely and is left for me to do all on my own. After all, it is prudent although a much maligned skill, to run a house well. And the people doing the maligning are wrong to do so.

Looking into my economic crystal ball suggests to me that the current economic ‘stay of execution’ appears to be a hang time of uncertainty, but bizarrely also stability at a lower standard of living for most people. What happens when the banks begin asking for repayments on loans to begin again, or landlords seek to evict tenants, or seek to enforce payment of commercial leases by unpleasant legal mechanisms, is pretty much anyone’s guess. I really don’t know. My feelings in relation to my grandfathers colourful language is perhaps more certain in my mind, but even then I have no clear answer as to whether he was right to act so.

It gives me no pleasure to write these words. The recession of the early 90’s went on for years and years, and I had to work at debt collection for four of those years. At least it kept food on the table, but in that time I heard it all. Every single excuse under the sun was thrown at me. The thing is, during that time I never spoke to a single person in that capacity because they had been prudent.

This week’s blog was brought to you by yet another Antarctic cut off low and a full day of doing house work. At least the wood heater kept the insides of the house toasty warm. Outside this week, could not be described as being toasty warm. Antarctic air is after all very cold.

Solid waves of rain and blasts of cold Antarctic air arrived this week

It even snowed a bit here, although nothing settled on the ground.

Snow flurries again fell over the farm this week

However higher up in the mountain range, the snow had settled. The editor and I went to see the snow and had an epic snow fight. The editor started it!

The author in cold weather gear with alpaca scarf for a face mask
A snowy picnic ground high up on the main ridge of the mountain range. Where are the tourists? In lockdown of course.

Of late, the two new sheep dog puppies (Ruby and Plum) have contributed to creating more housework for us to do. For some reason they steal the firewood out of storage and proceed to chew it into tiny pieces. This is despite them enjoying thick rawhide chews and also off cut bones sourced from the local butcher. I’m sure if you asked the two pups, the cheeky scamps would suggest that they are creating kindling out of the existing firewood…

Plum exits the scene of the crime. Ruby remains busy…

The cold weather this week may well be winters last hurrah, and we are working towards constructing the greenhouse. With Melbourne in stage four lock down due to the health subject which dare not be named, my usual source of seedlings (should our seed raising efforts fail), might not be so easy for me to access. Thus getting the greenhouse constructed and ready for use with seed raising has become a priority task.

Where the greenhouse is to be located, there are currently three large round raised garden beds which we use to grow potatoes. Growing potatoes in the raised beds means that the soil in the beds is very well drained – a must for very wet years like this one. Anyway, the three raised garden beds have to be moved and we only decided where to move them earlier in the week.

We began creating a new terrace for the three large raised garden beds used for growing potatoes

Construction on a new terrace was started earlier in the week and the three raised garden beds will be relocated there. Firstly, we recovered a large number of rocks with which to define and protect the edges of the new terrace. Then we began digging and levelling (as can be seen in the above photo).

When you live on the side of a mountain saddle, flat land is a rare and precious commodity which has to be wrested from the Earth via a whole lot of hard work.

The author and Ollie admire the partially completed new terrace.

In between the breaks in rain we recovered and positioned a huge amount of rocks. Peak rocks is real, and a casual observer hardly sees a rock sticking up out of the paddock or orchard these days.

The rocks defining the terrace were recovered and placed around the edges

And whilst we were constructing the new terrace, which will hopefully be finished next week, we decided to turn the entire area above the new potato terrace into an epic sized garden bed. Why not? An English Oak and an English Elm already happily grow at the upper edges of the garden bed.

The new potato terrace has morphed into a much larger garden bed project

During the rock recovery process, we recovered a number of very large rocks which will be used on the large rock wall on the uphill side of the path up above the house. One of those rocks was placed this week. The rock was placed because there had been so much rainfall that water was oozing out of the ground and onto the path at that point. The other large rocks will have to wait until later to be placed.

These rocks are huge and hard to handle

Time, weather and the vegetation all work towards breaking up the large rocks into sizes that we can easily handle.

Nature does the hard work of splitting rocks – if you have time to wait around. Ollie is prepared to wait.

The rock wall at the very far end of the path up above the house was also completed.

The rock wall on the lower side of the path up above the house is now complete

Onto the flowers:

Silver Banksia provide a unique splash of winter colour
The Silver Wattles also brighten up a drab winters day
The Flowering Cherry will soon bloom
Daffodils are very hardy and colourful plants

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 4’C (39’F). So far this year there has been 799.8mm (31.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 760.6mm (29.9 inches).

75 thoughts on “House work”

  1. Yo, Chris – Redundant. How it rolls trippingly across the tongue. Weasel word for “Here’s your hat, there’s the door.” That’s what we do, at least some of us, when cut adrift. Take any and all work. Is it truly horrible? Then look around for something better. But, at least in the meantime, you can cover that roof and food on the table.

    Prudent. What an old fashioned word. And old fashioned idea. But, as we’ve discussed from time to time, old methods and ideas are often better than “golly gee.” A few decades back, there was a book that was quit popular. “The Millionaire Next Door.” It was actually a pretty sensible book, and from what I remember, it was pretty much don’t get into debt, pay cash for everything and always buy a used car. But basically, what it was about was living prudently. Of course, you can live prudently, and be sailing along, and the health care system can take it all away. If you decide to play. I wonder how many people took the advice, to heart?

    I don’t know what’s coming over the horizon, for a lot of people, but I’m afraid it’s going to be grim. Our county council was talking to the sheriff about crime figures. Everything is holding pretty steady. Except suicide and drug overdoses. Those are way up.

    Nothing beats being inside where it’s toasty warm, and just watching the weather raging outside. I suppose you may have heard there are two hurricanes banging around in the Gulf of Mexico. A first, as far as anyone knows. They’re going to make landfall, in quick succession, probably both zeroing in on Louisiana.

    What is up with those dogs? “I’m bored!” “You have a lack of imagination. Go do something constructive.” Ollie looks like he’s catching a quick nap, while waiting for the rocks to split. But, given that posture of list, he’ll probably wake himself up when he tips over. 🙂 . Why does the Leaning Tower of Pizza, come to mind?

    Believe me, the more land you can get leveled up, the more your hips will thank you, in later years. Standing on a slope and picking blueberries for an hour, just about did me in.

    Looks like the flowering cherry is going to put on quit a show. It’s hard to beat daffodils, to cheer one up. Lew

  2. Hi Lewis,

    Three feet, who’s got three feet? It’d be kind of handy from time to time and possibly help with balance now that you mention it! 😉 Dunno about the alpine areas, but it is possible as there sure was a lot of snow up on the main ridge. And that elevation is peanuts compared to some of the higher peaks in this state. I saw some footage of emu’s enjoying the snow. They looked cold.

    It’s an opinion about the mud, but then on a shockingly cold winters day when you’re outside hauling large rocks, you can’t but help get covered in mud. The pig skin riggers gloves I wore that day feel particularly unpleasant, but hopefully they dry out before I next have to wear them. And, ta da! next Saturday is forecast to get to 21’C / 70’F before turning colder again. Bizarrely enough, this little news item left me with more shivers than last week’s cold Antarctic weather: Record-breaking heat in the north. Apparently it is winter up there in the north of the continent – think Al’s weather, but in winter. Not good.

    Thanks for the history lesson, and I hadn’t known anything about that story. Today I was more or less forced to purchase an insurance policy which I have very little probability of ever claiming upon. Bonkers, but there really was no choice in the matter.

    Given what you’ve taught me about ‘chili’, the words ‘chili powder’ sound mildly alarming to my ears. I see chili plants and seeds for sale but the names: Ghost and Death are not ones I really want growing in the garden. Admittedly I’m soft. What’s your chili tolerance like?

    Good stuff with the dehydrating. We only dehydrate cherry tomatoes as the larger fruits require far more time and energy. You really have to get the dehydrated tomatoes to resemble dried chips for them to keep properly. If they’ve got some squishyness (that’s a technical term) then, they probably won’t keep that long, and they’re known down here as semi-sundried. Always a bit risky, but life can be a gamble.

    Hehe! Got that email too from Joel. He’s OK, Joel. He is nothing if not consistent, and has created something that I lack the skills to do so. However, Portland from memory is in Oregon, so you never know – the location may have altered him in subtle ways that you or I will never know. It’s a mystery for sure, but mind you all the same I’m looking forward to reading the publication. Hey, I’m learning lots about your part of the world via reading Hollow Kingdom. What a lovely book too. There are times the characters just say the most outrageous things and they make me laugh.

    Ooo, met a few Scally’s in my time – the rotters. 🙂 And yes, better health outcomes through active wear. Hehe! Nope, decorum is on the out from what I’m observing.

    Well, fortunately Suzanne’s belief systems mean that you’ll get more brown rice. Yes, I would encourage that sort of thinking, and you can add in the quip: “You wouldn’t like it”, just to sort of hammer home the point. 🙂 On a serious note, gut issues are quite the rage down here, and I’ve often wondered whether long term exposure to the industrial food system may have something to do with those issues. But it is only a wild guess. And yes, there was a run on cauliflower down here recently and prices went sky high. Apparently I’m told by reliable sources that the paleo folks recommend the vegetable. Not sure why. Psst! Oi! He says quietly: Don’t mention the potatoes. Shoot! I just broke my own rule there… I have had people lose their cool over that innocuous starch filled root vegetable. Well I could point to some injustice too, it happens and that’s consistent.

    Ah yes, that inference was made. It is an option I guess, although it frankly doesn’t look good. And yes, Mr Poe’s name was mentioned. An ingenious bit of on the fly problem solving by the sabre wielding officer. Yes, best not get into the water with a live alligator. Imagine how annoyed you get when you unexpectedly get a cold shower, well I tell you an alligator would multiply your level of annoyance by a factor of about 50x and it would be able to do something definite about that emotional state – for a short while.

    Top score with the garbanzo beans.

    The article confused me because it said both yes and no. Yes, renewable energy sources are a problem, but no because we just don’t want it to be a problem. It’s a problem, I tell people the sun doesn’t shine at night and then they point at batteries – usually demanding that someone else pay for them. Then they never consider the days when you can’t use the power generated and store it in batteries – because there is just not enough produced, or too much used. I dunno, people are strange about this subject.

    Well done you and H. Hope she enjoyed the bath! And hope you scored plenty of blueberries – the slope thing is a bit of a drama thus all of the flat land we are creating. Of course a big storm could come along and wash the whole lot down the hill like the Bismarck hitting the undersea volcano and going for a deep slide dive, down, down, down…

    As a strategy it works, but people can have high falutin opinions of themselves and refuse to take an any job as long as it pays mindset. Of course that strategy can get taken too far and I was wondering about the fictional family in The Grapes of Wrath. You’d think they’d be kind of tempted to go and jack some deer or other local produce, but I never read one reference to that in the story despite the fact they were starving, and the author made plenty of reference to the wildlife. The characters were hell bent on getting a job even when the wages were barely above subsistence. Even weeds can have some nutritional benefit if you know which species are OK. I have a few books on that subject.

    But yeah, hang in there and live to fight another day is a possibility. So what if the job sucks? I do wonder if the current ructions will produce mindsets that can take that path and just get back to producing stuff? Dunno, but it is possible people aren’t hungry enough yet.

    Absolutely! I’d heard of that book on The Millionaire Next Door, but wasn’t thinking about it when I wrote the essay. The car story in the book was my grandfather to a tee. And you may note that I stick to basic well made Japanese cars on principle. Yup the points of the book are really basic, and easy to follow – except people just want to do what they want to do, and then scream blue murder when it goes horribly wrong for them. I dunno. But being prudent as a strategy works. And between you and I, I have always been more interested in what people spend their income on and how they spend it, rather than what they earn. Just did a bit of quick reading on the salient points of the book and I notice that one point was that people struggling even on high incomes have a belief that: “money is the most easily renewable resource” Well, they’re wrong about that belief. History has another tale to tell on that subject.

    Yes, suicide is apparently up down here too, although I could be wrong. I don’t believe that it is a subject which gets much airing in the media. Some of the protections finish next month, and that is why I use the words ‘hang time’ because the time is there for people to sort out their acts, although frankly I hear a lot of people are watching a lot of television. It’s an option, I guess.

    Hehe! Poor Ollie did look a bit dazed and confused sitting next to the rock. It’s not his usual state of being but maybe the cold weather froze his brain? I saw fields over the past few days with live stock all huddled up like Emperor penguin’s protecting their pack from a cold Antarctic winter. I’ll bet there were a few stock losses over the past few days.

    The flowers are great, and I really enjoy the flowering cherries for the show they put on. Each year I plant a few more of them and then they self seed nearby the parent tree.



  3. Hello Chris
    That red scarf looks great.
    You have packed a lot into the blog this week and I agree with it all which doesn’t leave me with much to add or comment on. It certainly helps one to survive if one has had previous experience of hard times. I only found out years later that Son had had a bad stretch when he was living in a car with his dog.
    People are constantly bleating on the radio that they received no ‘support’. Expectations of this kind don’t help at all.
    I certainly wonder if they can keep on pushing the can down the road for ever. One would not have expected it to succeed as long as it has.
    We have a storm coming in tonight.


    @ all
    I am reading a book which I can recommend; a very easy read. It is the autobiography of the Australian/American correspondent Geraldine Brooks. The title is ‘Foreign correspondence’. I had never heard of her. So far I am enjoying her childhood growing up in Sydney.


  4. Yo, Chris – Emu’s in snow. A rock band? 🙂 . Which reminds me, I saw a very odd bird here at the Institution, yesterday. Strutting down the sidewalk. Fairly good sized, and, I think, young. Longish neck. I’d guess it’s either a wild turkey, or, a pheasant. Both good eating.

    Let’s see. 40.7C equals … 105F. Yup. That’s pretty toasty for you, for this time of the year. Global Weather Weirding, continues apace.

    Well, as far as my tolerance for chili goes, one must remember that my taste buds are a bit on the dead side. But, I’d never tumble for the Ghost Pepper nonsense. Chilies should be a culinary experience, not an endurance test. But I do like a bit of heat and tend to slop hot sauce on a lot of things. When I have Chinese food, I do enjoy those little hot peppers. In moderation. My Chili Rule of Thumb #1 is, chili should be as hot coming out, as going in 🙂 .

    Interesting you should mention cherry tomatoes. It dawned on me that getting decent large tomatoes here, is a pretty dicey game. No matter if you get them from a nursery, or, start seed very early indoors, more times than not, the big fellows are a wash out. Other than green tomatoes. But, I realized, that every year, so far, the cherry tomatoes have had bumper crops, and, they always ripen up. I did a little research, last night, and, yes, there are heritage / heirloom varieties of cherry tomatoes. So, next year, I may go big on them.

    Well, Portland is where there was major rioting and a mishmash of Federal troops, sent in. Judging from Joel’s address, he lives pretty close to downtown. Easy walking distance. Through no fault of one’s own, you can get swept up, by accident, in things. Happened to me twice, in the 60’s, during the anti-Vietnam War, protests.

    If it’s a book or a movie, I always have a bit of extra fondness, if it’s places I’m familiar with. Are you local? 🙂 . By the way, what with the things going on with our postal service, it’s also some anniversary of the film, “The Postman.” LOL, I’ve seen a couple of articles along the lines of, “Do We Owe Kevin Costner an Apology? It takes place mostly south of Portland. I quit liked both the book, and the movie.
    As I quit liked the book “Hollow Kingdom,” because I knew most of the places.

    Yes, it seems a lot of people have gut issues, these days. I think some of it is food foibles and imagination, (ain’t I special?). But I think quit a bit of it is “real.” And, yes, the industrial/processed food industries aren’t very forthcoming with how they go about making their stuff, and what’s in it. As diced tomatoes are in short supply, I kept a couple of cans of “traditional pasta sauce.” Thought I could throw it on rice, or something. Then I started looking at the ingredients. High fructose corn syrup. Modified food starch. Soybean oil. And the ever mysterious natural flavors. Well, it is “Made and packed in the USA,” and is low sodium. Think I’ll pass. I see there’s been another salmonella recall. They’re coming fast and furious. Peaches, this time.

    H’s bath went well. Trying to keep her trimmed up is quit a job. Cow licks from end to end. But, when I did her ear cleaning, I was quit chuffed to find they are quit clean, now. Regular maintenance pays, and she doesn’t scratch at them, near so much.

    When I was taking the on-line library courses, the youngsters were shocked, shocked I tell you, that they couldn’t just get the degree and waltz into a librarian’s job. They were horrified when advised to get out there and take even the most menial library job (Page. You shelve books.) to get a bit of a track record. To volunteer, if necessary. Horrors! When I decided to get on at the local library, even though I had lots of experience in other systems, I volunteered to “read” shelves (you make sure everything is in order). Did it for 9 months, before a paid position, opened up. “Read” the shelves of the entire Centralia library, two and a half times.

    “Grapes of Wrath” and foraging. Maybe Steinbeck was an Animal Rights person? 🙂 . Or, maybe he thought foraging would sully the “nobility” of the Joad family? I did a bit of Gargling around, and the best I could come up with was a character named Mulie, shared his rabbits. Maybe foraging just wasn’t part of the Joad’s culture, at that particular time and place? Maybe they thought only poor people foraged, and they hand’t got the memo yet, that they were poor?

    I always wonder at the stories I read about people who make far, far more money than I do, and that they “struggle.” What? I think it’s all priorities and expectations.

    Well, the cherry tomatoes look quit nice, and I can imagine them topping a home made pizza 🙂 . I’m giving them a day or two to air dry, on the rack, before bagging them up. Lew

  5. @ Claire,

    Was sorry to hear about your mother. My condolences and thoughts are with you.


  6. Chris,

    Cool, snow! Nice scarf, too. Boots, jacket, scarf are all prudent attire for those conditions. Of course, I wholeheartedly agree about prudent actions ala your post or The Millionaire Next Door.

    I totally enjoyed the picture of the snow flurries at your place with a lemon (?) tree bearing fruit in the foreground. I really don’t expect to see the 2 together, lemons in the snow…Maybe Lew’s new band, Emus in the Snow, can do a song called Snowy Lemons.

    Your hard work on the terraces and pathways looks good. Very good. A lot of effort goes into that, which you know all too well.

    Some highlights from here…You may have heard about our post office controversy. Well, I know the Person in Charge of 2 different post offices in small towns outside Spokane County. Both volunteered that the new head of the system is breaking what works. I’ve had one bank statement go awry and get returned to the bank. 3 out of 4 mailings from my credit card company, including 2 bills and a confirmation of a phone conversation, also got returned. They shut off the card after every returned mail, which caused multiple issues for the Princess, as she was out of town when 2 of these problems occurred. Anyhow, I had to spend part of this past week chasing down the problem with the bank. All is good with them, as it’s clear it was a post office issue.

    Meanwhile, another (albeit distant) relative of the Princess died of the unnamable. The health of one of her sisters is failing rapidly, also, and she’s helping another sibling with something on her return trip from her monthly caregiving visit with her brother.

    I spent the past 2 weekends working on the brick patio. When I got the new awning last year, the 3 new concrete footings for the support posts were left vulnerable to the weather, most especially to snow melt and rain sitting around the footings and perhaps eroding them over time. So, excess bricks I’ve got, I pieced together the puzzles of placing rectangular bricks around circular footings. I then levelled a lot of nearby bricks, while the bricks surrounding the footings were placed so that any water coming off the footings would run off the bricks and away from the footings. As there were gaps between the rectangular bricks and the round footings, cement was mixed and placed into the gaps, also being contoured to facilitate where I want the water to go. The final step will be to coat with a concrete sealant in a week or two.

    But the final drama came over the weekend when my friend was admitted to hospital. He lives about 175 km northish of Lew. Looks like he’ll be okay, but this was not fun. Fortunately, he has been able to talk.

    As you can see, a lot of things are hitting all at once. It lets me know I’m alive. 🙂


  7. To the person / robot attempting to hack the website.

    Please desist, your efforts are boring everyone, and as a result I have yet again tightened website security. Sure, you might get lucky with the brute force attack from multiple ip addresses, but to what end?

    If you had half a brain you’d join the conversation, but I’m guessing you don’t have the balls for that. Mate, I’m peering into your soul and I see weakness and fear. It saddens me because I’ve heard that arsonists just want to watch the lights and sirens from afar, and you’re kind of like that.

    Now join in and be welcome, or begone.


  8. Hi Inge,

    The red scarf has incidentally travelled all the way from my one visit to South America and the lovely country of Peru. We spent a month there, and it is the furthest from home that I’d ever managed to travel. It was quite a long time ago too, and the food and scenery were exceptional. The red scarf is actually of alpaca fleece and it is very toasty warm. The cheeky locals were none too polite to my face about alpaca fleece sourced from down under. Alpaca’s are now part of the scenery down here and they are commonly added as herd protection animals. When it snowed down here last weekend, I noticed that the sheep were huddled in packs and the alpaca’s were standing around looking at the sheep and wondering what all the drama was about. Ah yes, the exciting life on the Altiplano.

    Well knowing that hard times can be survived generally means that a person is more likely to do so. And incidentally, your sons fate was apparently shared with one of our most popular Prime Ministers of recent decades. It is often hard for people to acknowledge that they need to ask for help. I’ve sometimes long ago floundered with that choice when I’ve forced help when it was not requested. That doesn’t work so well.

    On the subject which you mentioned, there are apparently still an inordinate number of Australian’s stuck overseas for all manner of reasons. I note that one of the State Premier’s may have said: “Come back now, or don’t come back at all”, an unambiguous message if ever I’d heard one. Anyway, the word on the street is that apparently aircraft operators have to run on reduced capacity due to the health subject which dare not be named, and allegedly the ticket prices are through the roof as a possible result. That outcome is not a surprise to me as it is a big ask to request that aircraft be flown at a loss just for the benefit of a few people. Someone has to foot the bill, somewhere. But you know people want what they want… Some people headed overseas earlier in the year and that choice seems odd to me even at the time, but what do I know?

    An excellent point, and I too am impressed by the efforts so far. It is pretty audacious, really. And from some perspectives, as you hint at, things could be much worse than they are.

    Did the storm bring some much needed rainfall?



  9. Hi DJ,

    I’ve never read the book, but at the time of publication it garnered quite a lot of media attention. And then was perhaps quietly ignored accompanied with uncomfortable shrugs and bouts of sooky silences. The car thing mentioned in the book was not lost on me, and from my perspective the machines all seem to do mostly the same thing no matter how expensive so are more or less interchangeable. The thing is that they cost a whole bunch different to purchase and maintain. People tend to believe that the vehicle of choice conveys a message to all and sundry, but my grandfather might have disavowed people of that story in a very family unfriendly way.

    That’s my dead sheep attire look, with a side serving of red alpaca fleece scarf. Outcome – toasty. Winning? Yes!

    Actually I blame both you and Lewis for the natty little ditty bopping through my head whilst enjoying and photographing the snow: Yellow snow… Some things can’t be unheard.

    Thank you. Kind words and much appreciated. Hope to get a start on the greenhouse this week, but we’ll see how things go.

    Err, no I had not heard of your post office controversy… … Ah, if you were more alert you may have noticed me whining about our postal service transitioning from daily deliveries to a couple of times a week, maybe I dunno some time back. I’ve had a long time to dwell upon this subject. So let’s talk theoretical stuff here. Say you have a behemoth that flexes its muscles and provides a river of stuff from the land of stuff. How does one transition back to a more local bricks and mortar economy if the public is footing the bill for the delivery of the river of stuff? There is a riddle in there for you to consider…

    Mate, I’m so very sorry for yours and your lady’s loss. The virus is really nasty and you wouldn’t wish it upon anybody.

    Top work protecting the awning and footings from the weather. Nature sure is hungry and our creations are constantly being eaten away at. Dunno what concrete sealant is, but you can mix up concrete so that it is more water resistant beforehand by changing the ratios of the base products.

    Not good and thank you very much for taking the time to drop by and say hello during your time of trials. The best I can offer is understanding, condolences and amusement.

    Yes, mate it is not lost on me that life can be invariably tragic. But one path to choose is to accept that and recall that if by some miracle you survive the tragedy, you then get to live life.



  10. Hi Lew,

    **Very belated reply**

    I get your mixed feelings on Jo Jo Rabbit, surely a test, if any was needed, of the maxim that comedy equals tragedy plus time. Most of my generations exposure to WWII and the Nazis is either as the “go-to” villain, or comedy (cue “faulty towers – don’t mention the war”). I note there is a lot more material in recent years that looks a little deeper at WWII from the Germans point of view, not by way of excuse, but more as a record of the experience. I enjoyed Season 1 of the Das Boot remake – they spruced it up with secret SS missions and the French resistance. It also reminded me to recently watch “The Enemy Below” for the first time – what a great movie, and a clear inspiration for the captain vs captain “battle of minds” style of warfare Star Trek used (at least the good older series anyway).

    That does remind me Grandpa used to to tell us WWII homefront stories (he was the youngest son and had to stay back to run the farm). He had some Italian POWs that got assigned to the family farm as laborers. A house they built is still standing and there are some photos of them posing around various farm implements. Coincidentally or not, a *lot* of Italians migrated to Australia during the post war period.


    *I have also obtained Rear Window and The Birds to check out soon…

  11. Hi Chris,

    Nice photos of the dogs this week – and snow too! No chance of snow here in Perth, we are getting blue skies and 26 degrees on Thursday. I even went for a swim today, but the water is still a little chilly.

    Hope the lockdown is not too terrible for you. My new employer has a big team in Melbourne and they all currently work from home. A manager here in Perth decided we should send a morale boosting photo to them, so he got us to pose in front of one of the frigates in the yard for a big smiling photo. I remarked that showing happy photos of people hanging out together at work like there is no pandemic or lockdown might not be the most morale boosting thing to send to Melbourne staff 🙂


  12. @ Chris
    A friend of mine has to make a business trip to another European country. She has just discovered that the plane fare has tripled in price. Also she has to provide a virus test taken within the previous 72 hours and a test done by our national health service is not acceptable!


  13. Hi Lewis,

    Hehe! It’s a great name for a band. And cold weather band names have a well established track record, such as the Arctic Monkeys – with their epic song: Do I Wanna Know?. 1 Billion+ views can’t be wrong. And working the word ‘settee’ into a massively popular song is not something that you’ll hear pretty much any day. And the band were big enough to release a recent (well a year or two back) concept album, which candidly I quite enjoyed. There’s not enough concept album’s these days. Everyone’s trying to come up with a natty song, few look for cohesive artistic vision (whatever that is). Waffle, waffle, yes I’m guilty as charged. It’s a bad habit, you may have noticed! Hehe!

    What? Either bird would be a notable occurrence wandering down the local street of a small town around here, all unattended and like. The Joads and Mr Steinbeck may have dropped their scruples and taken up the baster and got the oven warm.

    The weather story gets worse. Apparently the next day there was a yet to be confirmed reading from a reliable source which smashed those records. Yeah, things are getting interesting. I’m wondering about those hurricanes.

    Hey, we all lose taste buds as we age, and I’ve often wondered if my enjoyment of dark ales in later life was a result of that story. I hated the stuff when I was a young adult, but then I may well have had the palate of a cows backside – to paraphrase a certain potty mouthed English chef. But I prefer to think that this is not indeed the case. Dunno, but I’ve heard stories of building tolerance for such food stuffs as super-hot chili’s? What do you reckon about that? Do you reckon you could train your palate to such things? I read somewhere about there being real world medical side effects for consuming them which sounds all very unpleasant. Is the Chinese cuisine you refer to: Schezwan sauce, which is a spicy and pungent sauce made with dry red chillies, garlic, shallots and spices. I used to work around the corner from Chinatown in the big smoke, and the food was so good – but sometimes mind blowingly hot.

    Hey, the large tomato story here is a gamble at best. There just isn’t enough heat in the sun, even during the hottest summers. The sort of climactic conditions those huge fruits can grow and develop taste in, seem a bit bonkers to me. So yeah, cherry tomatoes it is here too, and fortunately there are heaps of varieties that are open pollinated heritage varieties. I tend to stick to the yellow and red varieties, but I keep trialling the darker ‘black’ varieties. They’re a bit hit or miss, and some seasons they do well, and some not so much so.

    Joel might do well to not get involved in such activity and be perhaps stay more alert to his surroundings than usual. These days did not turn out as I planned. If you’d told me six months ago that I’d need both papers and identification to get through military / police roadblocks, I would have doubted your sanity, but then here we are today. I have lovely conversations with the folks, but it is at the same time mildly unnerving. The State Premier (your gubner equivalent) is seeking a continuance of the emergency powers for another year. The powers are alarmingly wide ranging and I do not support this extension.

    What were you doing when you got swept up in a protest? And did you consider looking for the nearest exit? I would.

    Hey, the Postman film is a bit spooky from today’s point of view. Good call. Why do people take these narratives as how-to manuals? What is with that? Have they no ideas of their own? And possibly Mr Costner is owed an apology as you say. It is a bummer to be too far ahead of the curve.

    Well that’s the thing with the industrial food products, you don’t really know the methods of production. And the preserving techniques tend to produce biologically dead food for the excellent reason that the biology would otherwise eat the food, and you’d be buying, I dunno some unidentifiable sticky organic mass of stuff. 🙂 I’m beginning to wonder if our guts require a bit of constant low level inoculation. It might possibly work a bit like our immune response and require a little bit of work, but not too much, not too little and/or too much challenge, but just enough.

    Does H enjoy the ear cleaning? Dogs love having their ears scratched. Top work with the scissors or trimmer on H as H’s breed is no fan of hot weather.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? The problem with that concept is that it has been taken too far and ‘internships’ can sometimes look like unpaid work. There is a trial basis, and then that flips over into exploitation, and everyone has a different threshold. And um, there are frankly different situations too and a library is a whole different situation to a very lucrative business. Back in the day, professionals used to do pro-bono work for folks in need, and that should be part of their social contract, and conversely the professionals should benefit from having done so. But life is quite disconnected nowadays. Although I did do such work this week. But like your example, both the editor and I have done such things to get our foot in the door. Some doors are otherwise closed. People don’t realise that not all doors are open, and just because someone wants them to be, sheer force of personality is not enough to get the doors to budge.

    Whoa! Well it is possible that the Joads never got the memo, but then they did a few things and made a few decisions that I would not have done if put in the same circumstances.

    Exactly, expectations I have noted can often exceed income. And interestingly, sometimes households are indulged in order to put a stop to certain other unspoken but felt pressures in the household. As a strategy, I am yet to see that work and have noted many situations where common sense was thrown out the window and thus the downfall began. And it goes without saying that the many poignant examples I read about in the subject Corporate Law made for a sobering read.

    Yum! Ah, are you going to freeze the dehydrated tomatoes? Did you try one? The flavours and sugars get quite concentrated and they are excellent as pizza toppings and additions to pasta. Yum!



  14. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! 26’C and seriously envious. Mate it was 2’C this morning and didn’t make it into double digits today. Plus spare a thought for the much colder folks in the valley below the farm as the grass looked very white this morning, as if somehow the colour had been frosted away. Brr! Swimming!!!! Hehe. That’s funny.

    Thanks for the kind thoughts, and only those who’ve been heavily locked down would know the feeling. And yes the news is reporting that the nice gubarmint folks are seeking an extra 12 months, which possibly is an ambit claim and they’ll probably settle for 6. Sucks to be us, hey bro!!! And then there are the police and military checkpoints and all manner of strangeness. The fear of fines makes me feel like a walking ATM! 🙂 And I am a bit worried about having to wear a mask on a 40’C+ summers day. Not sure about that.

    Anyway, there is probably something in the water over this side of the continent – easterners are suspect just by their very being. Hehe! 🙂

    You made a salient point there about the photograph, and it could be misinterpreted. I’m frankly happy that this response is not required in other parts of the country. I’m really not sure what will be left behind if it goes on for another 12 months. That’s life though and we have to suck it up on the basis that things could be worse.

    Still, mustn’t grumble. I’m super excited to get the greenhouse project going as I can’t imagine having easy access to my backup seedling nursery in Brunswick this year. I realise it is early days, but are you or Mrs Damo getting a garden going this year?



  15. Hi Inge,

    Wow! What a requirement for the international travel, and it is worth mentioning that possibly a virtual meeting might do the trick? Although sometimes things have to be seen to be understood properly. As a comparison, the state borders look fairly closed to me right now, even getting to Melbourne is very difficult and it is only under an hour away. So, international departures seem like a bizarre fantasy of yesteryear. 🙂 True.

    I wonder what the foreigners have against the venerable NHS? It seems like a big call, but then there is that brexity thing hanging around in the background like a bad smell, and some countries may take umbrage to that circumstance.



  16. @ Chris again
    Friend’s presence is required as she has to sign something there.
    Not much rain here actually but oh is it windy. Just went through the wood to see if I had any post. Not very wise but I have survived.


  17. @ Inge – I thought the author sounded familiar. I’ve read a few of her books, but the one that stands out was a novel about Louisa May Alcott’s father. Although the shifting point of view threw me, for a bit.

    She was married to the late Tony Horowitz. Who also wrote many, many fine books. Lew

  18. @ Damo – Good to hear from you. I figured you were settling into the new house, and job.

    I just finished season one of Bletchey Circle (quit a bit gorier than the usual BBC mystery offerings) and am about done with Season 13 (!) of “The Murdoch Mysteries.” Toronto police detective in 1905. That’s a good series, as, all the supporting actors are interesting. And, they work in a lot of actual history. And, people who visited Toronto, at the time. Tesla, Madame Curie, Conan Doyle, Edison, Bell, Houdini, etc. etc.. Lew

  19. Yo, Chris – Well, the first hurricane was kind of a wash out (pun?) and the second seems more strong and is about to arrive. There will probably be more news, tonight. By the way, the fire that burned through the redwoods, did a lot of damage to superstructure of the park, but, the trees appear fine. In a related article, more about controlled burning, via our native folks.

    Oh, I suppose one could build a tolerance to heat. I notice the hot sauce I splash around doesn’t quit have the bite, it did. But, it still makes my lips tingle. I don’t know about Schezwan sauce, but I’ve had some Chinese food that has tiny red peppers in it, that are real barn burners. Quit nice. Chinese restaurants here sometimes have a five star system, next to the dish on the menu. Five stars is the hottest. And that’s what I always go for. Why eat out if it’s not going to be memorable? 🙂 .

    Had a chat with the Master Gardeners, this morning, about cherry tomatoes. Yup. For a more dependable crop, they’re the way to go. But, they reminded me that I can always put green tomatoes on a sunny windowsill, etc. etc.. I probably won’t freeze the dehydrated tomatoes. I’m trying to not be so reliant on the freezer. Someone suggested today, I slip some of the cherry tomatoes in a quiche. Hmmm.

    Well, the first time I got swept up in a protest, I was quietly having lunch at the University of Washington, in a basement cafeteria. Next thing I know, the place is barricaded with desks and anything else that came to hand. So, I clambered over and went on my merry way. The second time, I was heading for the south end of the campus, and just past the very small ship canal bridge, when I was overrun by 3,000 people streaming around my car! But, at that point they were a rather merry crowd. I kept throwing peace signs, through the windscreen. Also, as I was bearded and driving a “people’s car”, (a VW bug), I had no problems. I did attend two other demonstrations, by plan, and ended up being tear gassed for my trouble. Well, you just don’t get your student stripes, unless you’ve been tear gassed, at least once. 🙂 .

    Oh, H holds very still for her ear cleaning, and, if she were a cat, I’d say she’d purr. First I ream them out with a twist of toilet paper (as I have TP to burn) and then very carefully go at them with Q-tips. I took Eleanor to a doctor’s appointment, today. She only asks me as a last resort, and, it’s usually due to a scheduling screw up. And, of course, H comes along. We parked ourselves under a shady tree across the street. Last time, she was too antsy to stay there. This time, not so much. If she got restless, I’d just tell her, “Mom goes in, mom comes out. Have I ever lied to you?” She also saw a small baby, and was quit fascinated. I told her they were like puppies, only they took longer to house break. 🙂 . Eleanor always forces $20 on me, which isn’t necessary, but, there’s no arguing with her.

    Not only force of personality, but also, some seem to think all they have to do is wave a diploma round (like some ring of power) and doors will pop open. Well, not very often. Lew

  20. Hi Chris,

    Those who have been through difficult times and made it through OK will probably weather this too. My mother went from being quite well off to poor almost overnight when my father died. I was always impressed with how she adjusted to such a major change. Of course all my siblings went through this too so don’t take things for granted. Of course even though they had the means there were few hand out to us kids which of course was the best course.

    I just saw an advertisement from the kennel where we boarded the dogs last year for a new leash training class. This kennel also does quite a big of dog training as well.

    You’ll not get too my sympathy from me having to do the housework :). Not really fun but necessary isn’t it. Dogs sure do add quite a bit of mess as well as stains on carpets. Salve and Leo love to chew sticks and have made similar messes as the pups.

    Ollie has such interesting markings on his face.

    We had a nice visit with my aunt and hopefully there will be a break from overnight visitors for awhile. She really enjoyed getting out of the city.

    Quite hot this week but that will change Friday but rain is still almost non existent.


  21. Chris,

    Concrete sealant is a chemical product that you can paint onto the concrete to seal it off from water. Lasts pretty well in low traffic areas such as footings for pillars, sides of porches, etc. Works okay on areas where there will be foot traffic, but may need to be resealed every year or so.

    “But one path to choose is to accept that and recall that if by some miracle you survive the tragedy, you then get to live life.” Well said. That’s precisely the attitude I’m attempting to develop and adhere to. It’s healthier than fretting over things, that’s for sure. Accept, adapt, move on.

    “How does one transition back to a more local bricks and mortar economy if the public is footing the bill for the delivery of the river of stuff? There is a riddle in there for you to consider…” So the answer to the riddle is a question: is it better to A) reduce the deliveries from the current 6 days per week to say 4 days, or B) try to keep to 6 days but therefore not sort all the mail daily, and stuff not sorted for delivery for (what appears to be) 2 weeks gets returned to the sender as undeliverable? I maintain that the former is workable, whereas the latter means that medicines, bills, payments, etc, get returned to sender. In my mind B) has more severe economic repercussions than does A). However, A) may have some political consequences that Somebody doesn’t want because things DO get delivered.

    Oh, I forgot to mention. The electric clothes dryer has a broken electronic thingy since early August. Being the long descent, naturally it took 10 days for the repair guy to get here. The part was ordered during the visit and delivered to the shop the next week. But the schedule is filled, so the 5 minute job has to wait until Aug 31, because well, because they can’t swing by when in the area for a 5 minute job. And I’m a loyal long term customer of that locally owned appliance business, but probably not any longer. At least it is summer and sunny and hot, so I lashed up an outdoor line so that the “natural solar clothes dryer” can work.

    On the good news front…(Yes, there is a good news front.) I was going to quit my job, aka early retirement, in mid February. But, if I get some special paperwork in by the end of September, there is an offer of an “early out”, which will give me a tax free payment for a tax advantaged health account. And, I can remain there until the end of January. So, fill out and submit a form, leave 3 weeks earlier than planned, but get a sizeable bonus for doing so.

    I’ve been reading your chili conversation with Lew. My experience in New Mexico may have some relevance…I thought I ate pretty hot Mexican food. Then I got to grad school. A bunch of us went to a local hole-in-the-wall restaurant. The green enchiladas sounded good. They were. They were also the hottest thing on the menu. Whoa, but I was out of my element, and they, umm, caused some additional discomfort a day or so later when digestion had taken its natural course. A local sandwich shop had a free pepper bar with any order, so I started milder and worked up to the hotter stuff. Even McDonald’s offered free side orders of jalapenos. When I could eat those like candy, about 5 weeks after the green enchiladas, I felt confident in trying them again. They were excellent and never caused me another problem. So, I could slowly work up to the heat level. YMMV


  22. I hope the housework has come to a happy ending. Hah, joke, as we all know the housework ends exactly never.
    I have some concerns about the spacing between the oak and the elm. It may just be the perspective of the photo but they look quite close when you think about their eventual canopy size..
    I think they are a great addition though. Did you put them in to help mitigate fire risk? They are brilliant for that, highly recommended to plant on the lower side of the house along with a nice juicy green understorey to help retard a fire. There is another form of prudence – planting a firebreak which will come into full force in 20 years or so:)

  23. @ DJ – I noticed a new pyrography book, on our libraries “new” list. Don’t know anything about it.

    “Drawing with Fire” by Aney Carver.

    You need more books, right? 🙂 . Lew

  24. Hi Chris,

    Masks and 40 degrees do not sounds like a match made in heaven! Hopefully things have settled down before summer rolls around.

    Looking forward to seeing how you put the greenhouse together. Mrs Damo has started some gardening already, but it will mostly be potted plants and drought tolerant natives (we do have a bore, but water restrictions still apply, so can’t have anything too demanding). I have plans of getting a passionfruit vine started as we have a nice gazebo frame in the back that it can grow over.


  25. Hi Inge,

    Ain’t risk a funny thing (referring to your walk through the woods to retrieve the post)? You never really know when your lucky numbers come up, and yeah I’m a bit that way to with really windy days under the big trees. There is an old saying about: Be alert, but not alarmed, and that seems to apply to this situation. But you know, something is going to get each and every one of us, and frankly it surprises me when people don’t acknowledge that.

    Ah yes, administering life’s paperwork seems to me more burdensome with each and every year. Something about added layers of complexities onto an already complex system. As a fun side story I’m actually able to legally witness some documents and so just to shock some folks I tend to quip: Yes, well, I may not have your respect, but I have at least earned the communities respect. Accompanied with a chuckle it is the equivalent of a mild upbraiding when necessary. 🙂 I’m occasionally very cheeky.



  26. Hi Margaret,

    Well exactly, they’ll weather these times too. And do you know I’m seeing that story playing out around me right now. Some folks are in their, not quite element, but you can sort of see that the additional challenge provided by the current challenging times is really bringing out the whole next level. I like such people as they’ll battle on and rise to the challenge and just get on with things. It impresses me no end, and I tell them that too.

    Did you ever get the opportunity to discuss with your mum how she coped with the change? And yes, I agree less hand outs, or hand outs only when they become an absolute necessity is the best course of action in my books too. I tell ya though I have had some rough spots in life where I’ve just had to keep at things until the circumstances settled down, and it is only afterwards you really get to look back in awe and also a mild state of shock and go: did that really all just happen? And then a bit of time out is required in order to recharge the batteries for the next challenge… Far out!

    I like the sound of leash training. It is a bit far to travel though… 🙂 Sorry, just me being silly. The local dog obedience schools are shut, and I’ve actually tried to ring a few trainers. I might have to go old school and admit that I don’t know as much as I thought I knew and then get a book on the subject. Do you have any recommendations?

    Hehe! Seriously, getting sympathy for the housework was not even on my mind. It’s a good idea though! 🙂 Just a little bit of sympathy!!! I just recounted your thoughts and the editor is laughing at me. No sympathy from there either. Dogs and firewood are a lethal and messy combination.

    Ollie is a true gentleman, and he is really such a lovely personality. Never met another dog as lovely as him. Late last year I spoke to a bloke who had another Ollie dog sitting on the drivers side seat of his van, and the bloke spots Ollie and he enthused to me about the breed. Mind you some folks do train the breed to be absolute hunting dogs so they get a bad rap. In another household he might have been called ‘patch’. 🙂

    Ah yes, visitors are fun but they must not over stay their welcome. Mind you, it has been an extraordinarily long time since I’ve had any visitors here. Bonkers.

    Hopefully the derecho rain didn’t all run away to the land of elsewhere? It has been super wet in this small corner of the continent this autumn and winter, however the next few days look quite sunny and nice.



  27. Hi Lewis,

    It is a good thing that the hurricane fizzed out, although I’m guessing inland the country could use some rain? You never know how these big storm weather systems will impact upon an area. Last weekend’s Antarctic air brought far more rain to the big smoke of Melbourne than arrived up here. Dunno why, as it is usually the opposite and we get far more rain than them. Mysteries, and more learned brains than ours might ponder such murky intellectual depths.

    Hey speaking of brains, I’m starting to get the impression that mobile phones had something to do with the dramas in Hollow Kingdom? Such a fun book, it is hard to put back on the shelf. Due to the lack of sit in cafes, well my reading time is now curtailed to a solid stint at lunchtime. Slowly is how books are read nowadays…

    It was a beautiful sunny day today here. Cold air, blue skies, no wind. Really lovely. Had to work inside on paid work until quite late, but from time to time I’d longingly stare out the window and imagine rolling rocks uphill in the late winter sunshine. 🙂 Had a reality chat this evening, and there are times my profession sucks. Oh well, life happens.

    Tomorrow is looking good though and we’ll get that potato terrace sorted and begin moving the three raised potato beds across. I feel like the zombies in the 60’s film ‘The Omega Man’ and as the zombies pined for the ‘fambly’, whatever that meant – it sounded disturbing and possibly fatal and clearly the screen writers hadn’t met my fambly lot, I’m now pining for ‘The Greenhouse’. But yeah, there is possibly marginally less drooling and definitely no splattered and half eaten brains that I’m currently aware of. Fast zombies – dangerous beasties! Watch out!

    Well if it works should be the rule of the day. I’d recommend doing the burns, it is only when out of the area folks come in and do really large scale burns when weather conditions are inappropriate (working to a schedule will do that) that things can sometimes get way out of control. Locals have incentive for getting this stuff done right and will get onto problems early, although even then there will be those who resist any activity. From what I see the herb layer of the forest really starts to get going after a bit of thinning, and that means more food and medicines for the wildlife. Those folks are right on.

    Like it! Yes, five star heat going in, and five stars going out again. 🙂 Hehe! It’s possibly a bit like firewood in that will heat you on several occasions. 😉

    Maybe about the green tomatoes, but I dunno. So last season was super weird weather wise. A very short but crazy hot summer. The late green tomatoes tasted very odd and even though we tried ripening the fruit inside the house, the fruit never got enough sun in the first place to produce enough sugars, so I dunno – they really did taste strange and so we ploughed most of them back into the ground where they’ll form seedlings in another month or so. The tomatoes that did ripen outside were fine, but it was the later fruit that was very strange tasting. Last year was very hard on tomatoes, and I’m guessing this year will be easier.

    Haha! That’s fantastic and rather enterprising of you. It is good that the other students left you with an escape path, albeit possibly an uncomfortable escape path. Old Sun Tzu suggested to always leave an out, and to never back people into a corner. Some people don’t get that message, and it is always an unwise path to ignore that particular bit of advice.

    The beard and VW sounds like suitable accoutrements for a 60’s era protest. Most protests I’ve been to are as dull as dishwater. I mean seriously, holding up placards and stomping around whilst being herded like cattle is hardly protesting anything. I’ve always had a feeling that they just weren’t proper and right somehow, but have no understanding about how such political process gets to work. I think you’d have to skip most modern literature on such activities as it seems somehow trivial – or just a free for all like what is going on in some of your cities right now.

    H is a lady of the highest breeding. And I just read earlier today about a Pomeranian character in Hollow Kingdom. A true tease by the author. Have you read any of the authors other works?

    Hehe! You know H probably understands…

    That’s the thing isn’t it about the $20. Sometimes I just do work gratis, because you know I don’t want the hassle of collecting on the relationship. Such jobs are usually quick, and I usually do that where there’ll be no long term business relationship or even the possibility of that. Sometimes I just have to deliver bad news to people too. Mate it has been a long while since I’ve done professional work for friends and nowadays I just try not to get involved and set that rule firmly in place. I’ve lost friends that way as I may have written about. So yeah I can sort of see why Eleanor pays the $20. It such a fraught and complicated area, but longer term I suspect we’ll head back to the land where social credit is important and people will have to worry about how they are perceived within the community. But who knows when?



  28. Peak sunlight? Yet another terrace level, wow. Kind of hard to tell from your farm plan map, but I wonder if you are running out of places that get enough sun for growing veg?

    frugality- My dad was born in 1932, in the midst of the Great Depression, to a typical “lower middle class” family scraping by.

    The ripple effects, and resultant mindset, affected that generation for the rest of their lives, and an echo of those patterns was passed on to a portion of my generation. Oddly, not everyone though. American culture has a weird bipolar makeup of thriftiness in some cases, and carefree, debt fueled excess in others. I’ve held on to a certain amount of frugality, and yet acknowledge that my life has more luxury, safety and comfort than kings of ages ago.

    I think that the school of frugality and learning how to do without will be getting a new cohort enrolling shortly.

    A smallish greenhouse is on my list, but there are so many things I’d like to add to the farm, and I just turned 64 this week.

    I remain impressed at your ability to put out a weekly blog update, respond to comments, and run an off grid farm. Respect.

  29. Hi Chris
    In your recent comment to Margaret looking for leash training for those high energy Kelpies. Let me recommend looking up Caesar Milan “The Dog Whisperer” When I retired at age 60 16 years ago I watched a lot of TV during the day. His show featuring his training methods was a favorite due to The simplicity and common sense approach he took. It’s still running in syndication in our cable TV Package ,which is now also internet and landline phone, and at considerable cost . Caesar’s material is Also offered in DVD from his company.
    You can probably get such stuff streamed from your providers.

    Recently, I’ve had several comments from different folk, independently, and not led into the subject; That our daily life seems to some what mimic the Movie “ Groundhog Day”
    My response :
    “Ooh yes, sure does”
    Cheers Al

  30. Yo, Chris – The hurricane is supposed to make landfall, tonight. Right now, it’s a category 4. There are only 5 categories on the scale, so, it’s going to be a big one. Mayors along that coast are begging people to evacuate. Darwin at work. Gee, golly gosh! I noticed the maple trees, down by the mint factory, are changing color and dropping their leaves! And, the air this morning had a decided nip in it.

    Stephen King did a book, and movie about cell phones driving people mad. “The Cell.” Didn’t like the ending.

    “…pining for The Greenhouse.” Nostalgia for the future? 🙂

    I’m glad it’s not just me. I also feel green tomatoes, ripened inside, just have an “off” flavor. Oh, well. At least I can get some seed out of them. Speaking of plants, there’s this from the plant world …

    I pretty much grew up, with that tree. You can see it quit easily, when you zoom by on the freeway. I don’t know. If you get another tree out of a sucker from the roots, isn’t it the same tree?

    I didn’t realize that the author of “The Hollow Kingdom” had other books. I’ll have to look into that.

    Right now, H is sitting in my lap. Eleanor went for a hearing test, today, so I’m entertaining.

    Well, I think I put that $20 Eleanor made me take at gunpoint, to good use. The woman down the hall from me, who’s moving, set out boxes and boxes of canning jars, last night. Pints and quarts. There’s a few “regular” jars mixed in, but I’d say I scored over two dozen. Most have their rings. And, some were packed in a 5 gallon food grade bucket, that I can use, for something. Dried cranberries? Bulk oatmeal? Got the whole lot for … $20.

    I started watching a new series, last night. “Vienna Blood.” Vienna, 1906. A young doctor, who’s a disciple of Sigmund Freud, is foisted on an older, cranky / crusty old detective. Of course, I’m just there for the sets 🙂 . Austrian Art Nouveau. I have a few pieces. Lovely stuff. Lew

  31. Hello again
    Thanks for indicating that Simon had added to his blog, very useful. I am most impressed with his writing. Have always enjoyed high intelligence even when I am in disagreement as sometimes with Mr Greer.
    Lovely quiet sunny day today. Walking up for my post, it was bend down straighten up again and again as I cleared my path of all the stuff that had come down from the trees yesterday. Nice of it not to have hit me then.
    Dragonflies are flying all around the garden, presumably they hatched out in the rain.


  32. Hi DJ,

    Hope you are doing OK.

    Ah, of course that makes sense using the concrete sealant. I hadn’t considered that you’d have to deal with concrete that you had not poured or mixed yourself. 😉 I’ve never used such sealant chemicals myself but it makes sense if you had not mixed the ingredients together yourself in the first place as you never really know what ratios or strength concrete was produced. I tend to up the quantity of Portland / General Purpose cement in the mix ratio so as to produce a more water tight and structurally sound high strength concrete. Down here we have a product which does the sealing process called Bondcrete.

    Thank you, and the tip hints towards resilience. My grandfather never survived any transition to retirement as he had so much personally invested in who he was. It is tragic that he could not become other than that person. Who knows, he might have enjoyed himself, but he fretted to death, so yeah best to learn from others and know that you’ll make other and different mistakes! 🙂

    Mate, delivery here looks like it is down to either 2 or 3 days per week to the post office, I’m honestly not sure. It’s survivable. As an interesting contrast, medicines aren’t sent in the mail here – you have to have a prescription from a doctor and pick up the medicines from the local pharmacist / chemist (you may call these drug stores). And also most bills arrive via way of email, and bills that arrive by post generally cost extra to receive that way. As far as I understand the situation, you can’t rebuild a bricks and mortar main street if people can just get what they want delivered to their house via a few clicks. It is like trying to break the addiction of a particularly nasty drug. Due to the huge logistical challenges and massive energy usage behind that story of home delivery, it has no long term legs. As far as I see it, it is a blip in time. Best to slowly wean the population off that story and get started on that as quickly as possible. Of course items here do not get returned to sender because the postal service doesn’t have the resources to sort and deliver the stuff – that’s called a delay down here. And um, the awful thing for you is that in order to further wean your population off home delivery, you may have to pay more for delivery services. A basic letter costs $1.10 here, and packages are considerably more. If the services are provided below cost, then that is what I’d call a subsidy. And it hardly seems plausible to deliver individual items of stuff cheaper to an individual house than it would be to deliver the same stuff in bulk to a local bricks and mortar store. Just not economically possible.

    Yeah, never owned an electric clothes dryer myself, so we use washing horses in front of the wood fire over winter, or move them out in the sun whenever the sun shines. I tell ya, over summer the summer sun heat can dry clothes really quickly. Humans have lived without clothes dryers for more millennia than they’ve enjoyed them so I dunno. I’m busy, but I’m not that busy that I can’t attend to my portion of the house work, and I take pride in doing a good job of it. I’ve known many ladies over the years who have taken pride in not being able to maintain a proper running house like that is a good thing, and yeah that story doesn’t resonate with me at all. But then both the editor and I like to eat well and live in a clean and neat house, so maybe I’m a bit quirky on that front?

    It is possible that the repair shop folks are getting smashed right now as people are no longer able to chuck stuff out for all sorts of reasons and are having to get their stuff repaired? Dunno, but rather than getting grumpy with them it might not be a bad idea to ask how they are going? The answer will be interesting to say the least, and your mission should you chose to accept it… Plus I hear anecdotal stories that parts – especially when they come from the land of stuff – are becoming very difficult to source. Not impossible, but very difficult and the items that have become scarce are really weird and unexpected in my experience.

    Well done you, and congrats on scoring the offer. Of course, I’d read the fine print, but it sounds good. You are going to have a blast. 🙂

    Yummo! And thanks for sharing the experience as I had wondered whether a person could slowly work up their tolerance to super hot chili’s! Kapowey! (as might have been said on the 60’s Batman show). Did you grow any chili’s in the garden this year? I’m a bit soft and am going to try a couple of milder varieties and see how they go. The greenhouse is part of that story.



  33. Hi Jo!

    Hehe! Very funny and so true. Tolkien had one of his characters suggest that: “It’s the job that’s not started, as takes the longest to finish”. But yeah, housework is never finished, so that brings into question whether it should even be started at all? My brain is getting mixed up over this matter and confused. Alas, woe is me and the editor as we both enjoy neat and tidy surroundings… Better get on with it then… Oh well.

    You’re quite correct about the spacing of the two trees. Spacing of trees is one of those things I’m not particularly good at. On the other hand I’m not sure what to make of it either as we have many examples of 50m tall trees that are within only a few metres of each other. To sum it up, I have no clear understanding on the matter, knowing full well that I could be very wrong.

    Ah yes, the property interface with the forest contains many species of oak, and in the aftermath of Black Saturday bushfires in 2009 I went to the affected areas and just looked to see what vegetation and what arrangements of vegetation were affected and how so. Oak trees in particular where amazing as were the nitrogen fixing Blackwoods which you’d see growing down your way. The plan is also to use greenhouse to raise even more trees in the future. 🙂



  34. Hi Damo,

    Thanks, and yeah it looks like it is going to be a reality with the masks over summer given that we might get another six months of this. They know not what they do. The editor and I were discussing this today and will probably get or make linen bandana’s as they comply, but will be far easier to live with in seriously bonkers hot weather. I find the masks to be quite hot even now over winter, but then I guess that might be part of the point of it all. I do hope you westerners keep this craziness at a respectable distance, and I’d say a couple of thousand kilometres is a good enough distance. I see a Victorian lady was possibly chucked in the slammer for allegedly dodging the quarantine over your way.

    Thanks. We’re getting the ground ready tomorrow, but basically I have no idea how long the greenhouse project job will take to do. Hopefully not too long. At the moment we’re a few sheets of polycarbonate short but have a plan B. Oh well.

    Good stuff! Have you tasted the water from the bore? And fresh passionfruit are really tasty fruit. I grow an orange cold tolerant variety of passionfruit here, but it tastes like cardboard and nothing at all like the proper black variety. I once nabbed a huge box of them from the Queen Vic Market for $10. So good, and made a passionfruit wine which was awesome. Tasted like cask Tropicana, but better. 🙂



  35. Hi Steve,

    Peak sunlight! 🙂 Nah, there is plenty of room left for new terraces, but actually maintaining what we have now means that adding new growing spaces has diminishing returns. There is another terrace to go in after this potato terrace is done but maybe over the next winter, and then we might maintain and just run things for a while before expanding again.

    Hey, I am seriously impressed with your wheat trials. The wheat that survived here is growing well and putting on more size whenever the sun shines.

    No, one day if I have nothing else to do I will update the farm map, but until then imagination must be used…

    Yeah exactly there is that weird dichotomy where people tend to live low key frugality, whilst others splash the mad cash – even when they don’t have spare chunks of that mad cash stuff and have to borrow it. I don’t get it, but yes, echoes of culture get passed down. Sometimes it skips a generation too – and that is an interesting effect. And hey I hear you about that! Imagine how excited an Emperor several hundred years back would be purloining the off grid solar power system from here. My life would be of little consequence – except they wouldn’t know how to install or maintain it. 😉

    Happy birthday! And an auspicious age to, according to The Beatles. 🙂

    Dunno how the greenhouse will work out. All I know is that after last year’s weird absent spring weather, I have to do something different – and seedlings sourced from the big smoke are really hard to get due to the lock down which may get continued for another six months.

    Thanks, and your words are appreciated. We also run a small business to, which brings the mad cash in the door. A lot of juggling goes on behind the scenes. 🙂



  36. Hi Al,

    Thanks mate, he sounds like an interesting bloke and his methodology sounds right to me. A second hand copy of the book Cesar’s Way is now on its way here. 🙂

    I’m probably better with a book rather than video so I can read and digest the material, and then go back and re-read it if need to. Sometimes I don’t pick up new methodologies right away and need time. Especially if my usual dog training techniques don’t work – I mean that involves re-programming the relationships and how I interact with the dogs after all. That might take a while!!! 🙂

    Thanks again for the suggestion.

    Has it cooled down yet?



  37. Hi Inge,

    Simon is an excellent author and I will convey your appreciation of his works to him.

    And your point is so true. I don’t really know where the concept arose that we somehow must all agree with each other. Even here, in this delightful corner of the internet we don’t seek to have similar opinions with each other, and I encourage that. The endless arguing that goes on elsewhere seems rather pointless to me, and it has gone to some rather strange places and extreme places of late, such as cancel culture. Perhaps our worldviews here are just greater in that we can accept different opinions on subjects? I’ve noticed that gardens that are mono-cultures rarely flourish and they take a whole bunch of hard work.

    It was rather polite and considerate of the trees not to bring down a huge branch on your head. I for one would miss your words, and the trees rude act would most certainly hurt at best and be fatal at worst. Stay safe! And there are tree branches down here today. Wow.

    The wind roared here today. Some of the gusts… By nightfall, a band of rain swept through bringing a cool change and calmer winds.

    Dragonflies are lovely to have buzzing around the garden. 🙂



  38. Hi Lewis,

    Dinner this evening was a stubby (our nickname for a small 330ml bottle) of Russian Imperial Stout (Scottish but apparently brewed in the Australian city of Brisbane which unlike Melbourne is not in lockdown – brewdog is the name of the brewery) and a BBQ Chicken pizza. So good. Yum! Now of course it being late winter and all, today has been sunny but crazy windy. Trees were down across roads and there was lots of weather related mayhem. This morning we decided to err on the side of caution (i.e. don’t work under big trees that are swaying in the strong winds) and take the day off from work.

    Although that is not entirely correct as we were up at an ungawdly hour this morning completing a number of paid jobs. The thought of having to do those jobs woke us both up early and we’d been working on them late yesterday evening as well. One of them both the editor and I were left scratching our heads and asking the hard question: What is this thing that we have to deal with? There are times that I feel that as a society we have long since passed peak complexity… Moving on. Anyway it was all eventually sorted out after a few hours, and the rest of the day was ours to enjoy. Went for a walk in a couple of nearby botanical gardens which the local council maintain, and both gardens are nearly 160 years old. Beautiful places and really quiet and enjoyable. You’d like them.

    So today was a quieter and enjoyable day. Ah yes, dinner. So we enjoyed take away pizza and beer and when we left home the weather was 50’F and crazy windy. It then rained, before settling on 37’F whilst we enjoyed pizza’s and dark ales in the dark cold winters night. I tell ya this, it sure is quiet up here in the mountain range. All up an enjoyable day! The gobarmint is asking for another six months of emergency powers. Should we trust them is a question that is getting asked. I think not.

    Saw the book ‘Dark Emu’ for sale, and so many people have mentioned it that I thought I should pick it up over the next few days. It is about how the indigenous folks went about their agricultural practices before Europeans. Incidentally, agriculture is not just a human concern. I read an article about how deer are harvesting and replanting olive trees in the state of South Australia (to the west of the state of Victoria). Now where was it… … Ah, here goes:

    Feral deer ‘cultivating’ olive trees in Adelaide Hills as the pest plant strangles native vegetation.

    For your interest too, I’m seeing the headlines for more and more articles on raising vegetables in the home garden. That’s a good thing.

    Endings are a tough thing for an author. Have you read the Tommyknockers? Hmm. Liked the story a lot, the ending was rather a rapid affair.

    Oh my? Does nostalgia for the future mean that everything old is new again? 🙂 Where did that saying originate? It certainly suits the times.

    Yes, it ain’t just you about the green tomatoes. They just don’t taste right to me and have a mildly off flavour which is hard to ignore. Not a fan at all.

    Oh no, that’s no good about the ancient apple. I had no idea the humble apple tree could live so long a lifespan. It is good that people have been regularly offered and propagating cuttings from the tree. Sometimes I too wonder about whether the root suckers are the same tree. I guess genetically they are clones unless they are below a graft – then all bets are off. It’s an interesting question and I do remove any and all suckers. This season I’ll probably feed the trees in the orchard during spring – there is this huge pile of woody mulch which someone really nice left here.

    I wasn’t actually sure whether the author Kira Jane Buxton has written anything else. The website for the author is very amusing and delightfully quirky.

    Greetings H and cordial tail wags from Ruby the cheeky Aussie sheep dog. Oi! You! Get away from the keyboard. Sorry about that, Ruby has a forceful and somewhat pushy personality.

    Haha! I’d sort of guessed that you had little choice in the matter with Eleanor. 🙂 Nice score, and those rubber rings are the weak link in the canning process. Always good to have more canning storage. Many years ago I mentioned that Western Civilisation would fail due to a lack of food preserving jars, lids and rings and yeah, I still believe that I’m right. Your score is a bit like pushing the toilet paper count ever so slightly to your personal advantage over the magic 42 number which was fortuitously provided to us by DJ. Other people have suggested that 26 is the correct number, but what do they know? It was an earlier and now possibly disproven theory. Yes, that explains it all. 🙂

    Yes, the sets would be rather good. And the setting is ideal. I mean if something really bizarre is going to happen – like a family stuck in a basement for decades without the neighbours knowing – then Austria is apparently the place for that gear. 😉

    Does the cranky older detective eventually relent and warm to the younger doctors methodology? It is hard to stay cranky when weird situations and mysteries are resolved via the unconventional side-kick.



  39. Yo, Chris – Beer also comes in “stubbys,” here, too. But, you don’t see them much, anymore. Not like Ye Olde Days. Cans pretty much took over. The chicken pizza sounds wonderful. There’s quit a few things I want to make, but, I’m not firing up the oven until the weather breaks. It’s 80F days and 50F nights. But for some reason, I just could not get my apartment cooled down, last night.

    Sounds like you had a bit of weather. Oh, well. You could be on the Louisiana / Texas border. Early reports are fairly grim. By the way, Prof. Mass’s latest post is on the “lightening siege” in California. Unusual. More global weather weirding.

    Nothing soothes the savage mind more than a nice walk in a well tended garden. 🙂 .

    Six more months of emergency powers. Hmmm. Well, on so many levels that’s a bad thing. Especially for business. About the only upside I can think of is that you’ll have six more months of peace and quiet, up on your mountain.

    That was an interesting article about the deer and the olive trees. Really, kind of a pity, considering how useful olive trees can be. Odd. I picked up a book from the library, yesterday, that relates. It was mentioned in “The Journeys of Trees.” “The Ghost of Evolution: Nonsensical Fruit, Missing Partners, and OtherEcological Anachronisms.” (Barlow, 2000). An ecologist/botanist noticed that several tropical and temperate trees, dropped huge amounts of fruit, and most of it ends up rotting on the ground. Avocado is one example. But there are many more. There was little seed dispersal. Which seems like poor evolutionary planning. Then he hit on the idea that there were missing “partners.” Animals that had evolved along with the plants. The megafauna. Makes a good case.

    “Nostalgia for the future.” Stole it from Mr. Greer 🙂 .

    H and I were celebrating. Yesterday was National Dog Day. The archaeology news sites were full of pictures of Greek and Roman dogs. I don’t know what’s up with H. She just had a bath, on Sunday, and already smells really doggy. I may have to consult Doctor Gargle.

    There are rubber ring-less canning lids. They are a bit expensive. My Idaho friend used some, and I’ll have to ask her what she thought about them. But, you’re right. Sooner or later all that tech will go. Jars break. Even a small flake in the rim, and you don’t get a good seal. And, I’ve noticed that the newer jars don’t quit have the “heft” of the older jars. The glass is thinner. More brittle. Eventually, we’ll have to return to older ways of preserving food.

    Well, of course the cranky older detective will warm to the young doctor. That’s the way those things usually go. I see the series has been renewed for a second season. It’s very reminiscent of Sherlock Holmes.

    Reading over your shoulder, as to what you and Steve were talking about generational attitude differences. Now, I was born in 1949 and my brother was born in 1953. So, we’re both solidly in the Baby Boom generation. But, I noticed real differences between my cohort, and his. Kind of hard to put my finger on. They seemed more “party-hardy.” More, “Devil may care.” Thinking about the late 50’s, early 60s, it was all about “The World of Tomorrow.” They seem a bit more bitter, too. They were promised a lot, and life didn’t deliver. And they didn’t seem to have the tools, to cope with that. I don’t know. Half formed or baked, ideas. Lew

  40. Hi Chris,

    The red scarf looks especially jaunty on a snowy day! My compliments to the editor on that photo. It is vey well composed and a pleasure to see. The two of you made the best use of one of your few snowy days.

    I too am wondering what will happen when the evictions begin, which seem to have been staved off by local governmental action for the time being. But I don’t think that can last forever. Mike says he saw about 1 in 4 houses vacant on his recent bicycle ride through the poorer subdivision on the other side of the railroad tracks from us. I expect to see more of that, more widely spread, as time goes on. School districts and businesses continue to lay people off in this area.

    Thank you for your expression of sympathy. I have a picture of my parents that was taken about 15 years ago, after their 50th wedding anniversary, hung on the wall. When I notice it I think of my parents. I’m used to my father being dead as he died going on 8 years ago, but not my mother, so it feels strange when I see her in the picture, as if she is still alive. That will fade with time as it did following my father’s death, but that time isn’t yet.

    I planted the bed with the autumn greens and root crops this past Sunday and Monday, and already most of the rows are filled with seedlings. That’s a very cheering sight. The garden has been highly productive this summer. The summer squash, cucumbers, and zucchini are trying to burst out of the refrigerator, there are so many of them. And now the green beans are joining the party!


  41. @ Pam, @ Inge, @ Lew – thank you. The fear of assisted living seems quite widespread. My mother-in-law, and her friends in her senior apartment complex, had the same fear of it that Lew mentioned among the Ladies in his complex, as if once you moved to the first floor (where the people in assisted living were housed), you ceased to exist to the other residents. It may have been so; they seemed to avoid visiting the residents there. And I remember how my mother worried that she would have to go into assisted living three years ago, when I spent two months with her helping her to recover from wrist surgery and to make the arrangements to move into the senior apartment complex she lived in.

    @ Al – thank you. My mother’s final decline was more rapid than most of the people whose declines into death I have watched because of the one-two punch of leukemia and the unmentionable.

    @ Inge again and @ Margaret – I think it would have been easier on me and my siblings if at least one of us could have been with my mother. Oddly, she may have preferred being by herself. Once she said to me that she didn’t want to subject any of her children to taking care of her as she declined. My mother-in-law felt the same way, though Mike and I were with her when she died. I wonder if that feeling may be common to their generation of women in the US.

    @ DJ – thank you. Knowing how the unmentionable does its work, I feel for you and the Princess and all of the people you know who had/have it. My prayers are with both of you.


  42. Hello Chris
    Thanks for conveying my appreciation to Simon as I don’t really want to comment on more blogs.


  43. Hi everyone,

    This is a test message as I have yet again thwarted the nefarious bot attacks. Extraordinarily dull and unimaginative people. They’d best be spending their time elsewhere.



  44. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all. I get that too, here I have an elephant sized interweb footprint, but elsewhere – not so much.

    Moved a lot of rocks today and excavated the terrace where the three potato beds will go. Never a dull moment here. And Ruby smells suspiciously like fertiliser.



  45. Hi Claire,

    Thank you, and isn’t it funny how frost and snow wipes the colour out of the environment. Thought you might enjoy the winter snow photos whilst your part of the world is toasty summer warm. 🙂

    I honestly don’t know, but it sure will be a problem. Down here we still have main street shopping roads with free standing shops. Yeah, Mike’s observations are repeated down here too in those areas, but with the shops. Not so much in residential areas as we had a shortage due to heavy immigration over the past decade (a million extra people or more since I left the big smoke – and it wasn’t that long ago). But, when I see those main street shopping areas now, it seems to me that any business that was on a month to month lease (i.e. outside their fixed lease periods and therefore the directors personal guarantees have ceased), well plenty of shops are empty where only recently they had tenants and active businesses.

    The poorer subdivision could possibly be said to be literally on the wrong side of the tracks…

    Everyone is different when it comes to grief, but when people pass on, they leave a hole in your life, memories, and relationships. It’s hard, as they’ve just suddenly gone and it is very final and loss is always painful. Dunno, but when people say that time heals all wounds, it’s true, but also the hole gets ever so slowly filled in over the years and the pain becomes less. It would be a curse to have perfect memory recall because sooner or later the tragedy would overwhelm a person and you wouldn’t be able to go forth and do what you’re here to do. It takes time, and remember to give yourself the time to grieve.

    Autumn greens are very tasty. I hope there is some green and/or red mustard in there? The leaves on those plants here are huge at the moment and they set your mouth on fire! 🙂 Congrats on the most excellent harvest. A garden is a lovely place to spend time in.



  46. @ Claire
    Generational differences is interesting to think about. My mother born 1916 definitely wanted to be looked after. I born 1935 like to be alone and would prefer death to living with someone else now. But I think that introversion versus extroversion makes the difference.
    Both my mother and my husband ended their lives in nursing homes but I visited both constantly and kept a close watch on how they were looked after. There were 2 years during which I was overlooking both at the same time in different places.
    Thank god the virus wasn’t around then, not being able to check on them would have been devastating.
    You mention current evictions. This is due to happen here but there is a further postponement at present.


  47. Hi, Chris:

    I know it has been a few days, but the snow at your place is astonishing. What great photos.

    I hadn’t realized how much the current unpleasantness was affecting your business. It certainly keeps you on your toes.

    What a perfect retort to the would-be vandals of this blog. You should copyright it.

    I expect that your housework is all done by now, but am sure that Plum and Ruby will continue to be naughty. Be glad that you don’t have a log house. Our past pups will be forever remembered by the toothmarks on the walls, as well as on the old, English furniture that we bought when first married.

    I see Ollie was posing as an angel. Should we believe it?


  48. Hi Lewis,

    The hackers have become like zombies bashing their heads (at odd angles relative to their spines) against the website door trying sadly to get in. I’ve made changes in the back end of this website and they are bashing away sadly, repetitively and have not taken notice. Thus proving that they are bots. Bots, pah, I hate bots! Fortunately bots are very unimaginative and like the Terminator they only know one song. All someone needed to vanquish the Terminator was take out the battery. How easy is that? Would have made for a much more dull film though.

    Mind you, the Terminator seemed pretty strong and I could have used that strength today, because we moved all of the six large rocks up onto the path up above the house. And then put them into position on the path above the house. Done! Also the terrace for the three potato beds was entirely excavated. By the time 5.30pm rolled around we were both flagging after an epic days work. Still haven’t moved the three steel round raised potato beds and their contents, but we’ll see what we can achieve over the next two days. You never know.

    Actually it will be really interesting to dig into the raised potato beds just to see how productive the beds have been. The recent frosts and snow seem to have mostly killed off the plants above the soil surface, but who knows what lies beneath? Most of the potatoes I’ve planted are meant to have an 8 or 10 to 1 arrangement. So 1 tuber replanted, will produce another 8 or 10 tubers. The jury is out until the facts are in. 😉

    Cans are an amazing material being aluminium and all, and very recyclable. It takes an extraordinary amount of energy to smelt aluminium, and we have such a plant in the far west of the state. It uses a fairly noticeable percentage of the electricity on the states grid. A mate of mine works in the waste trade and he was telling me that one of the big waste receivers has recently entered into an agreement with a local bottle producer to take their glass waste. Of course not all glass is the same stuff and not all of it can be recycled. I used to live not far from the bottle producer and the buildings have age about them, but through windows you used to be able to see the bottles moving around the plant on conveyor belts.

    I wouldn’t fire up the inside oven during such weather either. However there is always the outside oven which is used to bake fresh bread on a stonking hot day. The Roman’s would have appreciated my outdoor kitchen for baking stuff on crazy hot days. 🙂 Although possibly they may have suggested pointedly that I make the thing bigger. 🙂

    A couple of people died due to trees falling on them in the wild winds yesterday. Not good. The hurricane looks pretty serious: Hurricane Laura a category 4 storm as it makes landfall in the United States.

    I read the good Professors essay on the lightning strikes. The word ‘unprecedented’ comes to mind.

    Well there is that. Things are quiet up here now. To be honest I’m actually amazed how many people were travelling into the area from outside the area. The official state slogan used is something like: Staying apart, keeps us together. And unfortunately I’m well read enough to get chills down my spine whenever I see that.

    That is something that I wonder about too. So every year the local council goes to a huge amount of effort to spray blackberry canes. Wouldn’t it be just easier to get people to come up and pick the tasty blackberries? A far more elegant solution than spraying herbicide all over the place. And the canes bounce back easily. I worry about the poor animals and birds consuming the poisoned berries – as I once unfortunately did when my neighbour decided to spray the berries before advising me that he had done so.

    And imagine canny old peasants letting feral olives go to waste? It was such a strange tale that I couldn’t quite understand it. If people took the longer term perspective they’d understand that eventually the olive trees will die out naturally because they’ll strip mine the minerals in the soils. But before then, the birds and animals will spread the minerals far and wide, so that’s how life works.

    I’ve seen feral apple and plum trees around here, but nary a feral olive tree despite plenty of well established groves in the area.

    That makes sense about the Avocado’s missing their mega fauna. The parrots here would be onto that fruit! But for an animal to digest a stone would make for an epic digestive tract. Yeah, best not to annoy such a large animal. Incidentally, the forests down here are also missing their mega fauna. And when the last of the mega fauna was either eaten or died out (or possibly both), well, humans had to fill in and maintain the forests through their labours. And here we are today shirking that responsibility. We’ll get back there again, if only because we have to get there. Nature has a sense of humour and also sets about teaching us dull witted humans exactly what needs to happen – or face the consequences. I’ve read that the indigenous folks used to believe that if the maintenance tasks did not happen, then their very souls were in peril – and the facts speak for themselves in this instance.

    Mr Greer is always worthy of a quote! 😉

    Dogs can be dogs, and H is within the statistical norm. Exhibit A: Ruby smells like fertiliser this evening because I’m guessing she rolled in something unpleasant. So I took her outside in order to brush her down and she enjoyed the experience. Is this appropriate punishment?

    Hmm, I’d be interested to learn what her experience was. I re-use the rubber rings and get many years of use out of them. But if the contents of a bottle fails then I chuck the rubber ring out and feed the preserved contents to the worms. There doesn’t seem any point in buying trouble. The lids are stainless steel, and the glass bottles are hefty and at least forty years old and possibly more. The rubber rings are the weak link. Thanks to your education I sometimes have a vague feeling as to what it may have felt like when some thoughtless child broke the last usable chunk of Roman ceramic during the Dark Ages. Makes you wonder what the people would have felt about that? Probably got the kid into wood carving is my guess. 🙂

    Some of the demijohns feel like they are constructed from brittle glass, although none have yet broken. It’s only a matter of time though.

    Yeah, I hear you about that difference. And the tools are not necessarily in place with which to adapt to changed circumstances. I was born just before the Oil Crisis, and so my early years were over shadowed with less, then the recession we had to have in the early 90’s shook off visions of John Hughes films as reality kicked in. Yeah, the lived times can make differences. I know people who are older than me and the early 90’s were a breeze. They’re not doing so well now, but they’ll get through. Imagine the impact that living through the year with no summer would leave upon a person?



  49. Hi Pam,

    Thank you, and a person would never get lost in the snow with a jaunty red alpaca scarf. Glad to read you enjoyed the photos, and they must seem quite odd when viewed from your hot and dry summer. 🙂

    Yes, I’m most certainly on the very tips of my toes now as we’re down about 50%. Not good, but things could be worse. It’s a bloodbath out there…

    Hehe! The vandals have been given a proper thrashing over the past few days and have not yet noticed that. For your info, they’ve tried 1,639 times to get in – so far. A very dull exercise and they just alerted me to a minor security hole which was rapidly plugged.

    Oh no! Well, the tooth marks just goes to prove that those particular canines were paid up members of the ‘Toothy’ brigade. You should feel lucky as it is an exclusive group of canines. 🙂 But chewing on the furniture is one of my fears – especially if the furniture in question are quality items, and thus I tolerate the chewing upon the firewood – plus buy them off with rawhide chews and off cut bones. If it was mid-century furniture stuff, well the dogs can have that as it was never intended to last this long anyway. And glued particle board stuff is right out. The dogs would be doing everyone a favour, and nobody would have to sit upon uncomfortable chairs any more…

    Ollie is an angel. He’s a true gentleman unlike those two marauding rapscallions of sheep dog background. One of them smells like fertiliser tonight. It’s the pink one.



  50. @ Claire,

    Thanks for the comments and prayers. We’re juggling too many things right now…


  51. Chris,

    We’re doing ok. As I mentioned to Claire, we’ve got too many things we’re juggling right now. Such is life.

    So, that said, spending time outdoors is good. It helps with the resilience. Resilience is very good, but it takes a different mind set than what most people have.

    Our pharmacy aka chemist (assume that I grew up reading a plethora of British authors and grok the difference in the vernacular versus American speak) is in the same building as the physicians’ group. Twas at that pharmacy that I had the incident with the dreaded lady who wanted to feel up my beard. Anyhoo, due to the unmentionable, they decreed a few months back that we either had to get our meds filled at the downtown branch or else use mail order. A LOT of Americans get meds via mail. We chose the mail option and have them sent to our post office box, not the house. I do NOT like prescriptions via the mail. Our normal pharmacy now offers curbside pickup. An unfortunate thing is that a LOT of chemists and patients pushed for prescriptions by mail years ago; I agree that this is something that will not be sustainable longer term. A lot of people, however, have limited means to get them otherwise. We really need the fraternal organizations to make a comeback, and maybe have churches actually DO something other than moralize and politicize. I know a chap who’s about 75, lives in a VERY small town in Montana, maybe 3 or 4 hours from here. He takes veterans and “the older folks” to their appointments in the nearest larger town, some 90 minutes from his town. And picks up their meds for them. We need more of that.

    Oh, and at least with our pharmacy, they foot the postage for the meds!

    Thanks for the suggestions with the repair guys. I’ll attempt to open a friendly dialog, but he really shut that down on his 1st visit. My norm is to always be friendly with people first, then discuss with management if there’s a problem.

    The fine print on the offer is pretty simple. 1) I sign a waiver that stipulates that by taking advantage of this offer, I will never again be employed by this organization in a job that has medical benefits. 2) There is up to a 45 day period AFTER submitting the paperwork in which the above waiver and other normal retirement paperwork is done, with an additional 7 day period to recant everything. So there is an opportunity to change one’s mind. I keep reading the small print…

    No chilis in the garden this year. The carrots, all in containers, are fabulous. The soil in the containers is great. I’m back to the drawing board for soil in the raised beds. I’ll probably get some steer manure from a gardening place and dig that in with the annual leaf harvest.


  52. @Lew
    Good score on the jars. It seems jars and lids are in somewhat short supply around here and are more expensive. I’ve put out the word to family to save any they might have for me. We hang onto any canning jars that have been purchased with fancy and/or local value added foodstuffs. The mushroom vendor at the farmers’ market sells his marinated mushrooms, etc. in such jars. You mentioned the quality not being as good as in the past and I’d imagine that’s true with these jars.

    For National Dog Day my daughter send a short video of the pandemic puppy, Ruth, floating in their pool on a small inflatable raft. She looked quite regal.


  53. @Claire
    You make an interesting point about women of our mothers generation. I know my mother feared being a burden and while Doug’s mother did end up in a nursing home for some time when the end was near she died at 4 AM when no family was around. It really was quite unexpected as we’d seen her just the evening before and there was no indication that she would be gone that quickly.

    Even though I’ve made relish and pickles we have an over abundance of cucumbers this year. I purposely only planted one summer squash plant but one of my friends keeps bringing bags of overgrown summer squashes over for the pigs. They do enjoy the squash but it takes 2nd place over marshmallows.


  54. Hi Chris,
    I don’t recall having conversations with my mother about how she weathered the sudden change in her economic conditions. She always handled the family finances and was an organized and very capable person. There wasn’t really much choice with seven out of eight of us still at home. I’ll have to ask my sister 4 years younger than me as she was the one who had to step up and help. She had just graduated from high school. She was very rebellious and always getting in trouble at school. In fact rumor has it that her disciplinary file was so thick the dean had to start a second one. My mom, Doug and I were on a jazz cruise on a nearby river one evening and were chatting with one of the other passengers. It came out that he was the assistant principal at the high school while my sister was there. I kid you not, a look of horror came over his face as he said, “You’re Nora F’s mother!”. It was just too funny. At any rate she had to grow up overnight. I’ll be seeing her tomorrow so I’ll ask her.


  55. Yo, Chris – Zombies have more class, than hacker’s bots. 🙂 .

    Well, I picked a big bowl of blueberries, this morning, before it got too hot. Somehow, that doesn’t seem to hold a candle to shoving six big rocks, uphill.

    Good luck with the potatoes. Seems like I always get small potatoes. I don’t think I’ve every got a decent baker. Some of mine are the size of marbles. But, still tasty. Things are fraught in the garden. Gardening is supposed to be a restful, serene kind of endeavor. Well, someone’s been watering again, in a kind of haphazard way. And, they managed to screw up the hoses. I went through another one of my “I’m not gardening at all next year, unless some people die or move on,” moods. I think one of the miscreants left a large zucchini, for me, at the edge of my garden. I smashed it to smithereens, with a shovel. If felt very satisfying. Sends a message. 🙂 .

    The Romans recycled glass. Every once in awhile, they find a cache that was to be remelted into ingots, and sent back to glassmakers. Same with metal bits and bobs.

    I saw a couple of articles on your big winds. 100mph. Wow. We also have had some deaths, mostly from falling trees. But, there are areas they haven’t got to, yet. Reports are still coming in. The photos look grim.

    Well, like the blueberries, here, and people being people, they like the idea of fruit being available. But, they never seem to get around to actually picking it.

    The scientists looked in to present day fauna vs megafauna. Present day fauna (parrots, deer, wild pigs, etc..) just don’t “super spread” like the megafauna did. And, it took a certain kind of mouth and tooth. In the case of avocados, grinding teeth were out. Needed a beastie that smashed the fruit against it’s palate, and swallowed the whole mess. So the seed came out the other end, with a nice pile of fertilizer, to go along with it. I think the book will have a chapter or two on Australian megafauna. It’s mentioned in the introduction.

    I’ll check with my friend and see what she thought of ringless canning jars.

    Archaeologists find a bit of repaired ceramics, after the end of the empire. Looking at the strata they are found in, they were revered and taken good care of, before finally being discarded. Sometimes for a hundred or more years. I wonder if they thought of them as Roman bowls, or, just, grandma’s bowls?

    Bit your tongue. Year without a summer? That’s not on my bucket list, either, but new things keep showing up.

    Bro! Ya gotta check out the new translation of Beowulf!

    Sounds like fun, and, the translators reasoning actually makes a bit of sense.

    I saw a movie on the library’s new list. “The First Cow.” About the first milk cow in the Oregon Territory. I watched the trailer, and then checked out where it was filmed. Yup. Oregon. Just going by the trailer, it looks like a pretty accurate representation of life at that time. I also noticed that a lot of it was filmed on Sauvie Island. That’s a big island in the Columbia River, that is mostly truck farms. Spent many an hour there, harvesting fruit and veg, when I was a wee small lad. Lew

  56. High Chris ,
    Hope you get some good ideas training the pups from Caesar.

    I had an idea with lead use on a brown half Lab and Pointer. Sammy was her name. Had no Street smarts and was always lunging towards the streets at intersections.
    I would run the lead right off the collar through my hand then back around the front of her neck then up and grip the loose ends reducing the length to one third of full length. The part across her front neck put enough choke on her to control her without the full constriction of a choke chain collar. Worked well for me most times. Those retractable long leads weren’t around much back then. Sammy learned when the loop was on the neck to calm down a little.?

    Our temps are are coming in below prediction most days which is nice. 87 F at 1:30 PM . I’m good with that!


  57. Hello again
    This is just a quick correction. I had said that the airlines wouldn’t accept virus tests done by the NHS. It turns out that this information was incorrect. It is the NHS which won’t do them for travel purposes. That makes much more sense.


  58. Hi everyone,

    For some photos of the wind storm down here over the past few days – which looks set to continue for the next week.

    Melbourne water contamination problem hopefully resolved later today, officials say.

    As a precautionary measure it is always unwise to have large trees within dropping distance of a house. An old timer forestry worker pointed that out to me many years ago. And it surprises me when people baulk at the practical implications of that bit of common sense.



  59. Hi DJ,

    Good to hear that you are doing OK despite the trials and tribulations chucked in your path. Sometimes that happens and you barely have time to take a breath and as they used to say: take stock of the situation. Remember to take it easy on yourself, your lady and your co-workers – and also take some quiet time out for yourself. A nice book, some sun, and kick back for a few hours and refresh the batteries. 🙂 The trials and tribulations, well, they are always with us.

    I hear you about that. Resilience is a fraught subject, and generally I find that if people get tetchy when they hear that word, let’s just say that the facts speak for themselves.

    Mate, your language is definitely down with us folks down under. If it means anything to you, in our vernacular the words: ‘drug store’ conjures up images of having to have interactions with the local dealer… People would definitely look at you all funny like and stuff if you asked for the whereabouts of the local ‘drug store’, and then possibly dissociate themselves with your good self.

    Kind of reminds me of the time that some annoying bloke intruded upon my book reading and caffeine supping enjoyment at the local cafe. Ordinarily I’m sympathetic to out of towners, and there was that one time I pointedly remarked to some very pasty English tourists that they might: (A) want to get out of the sun; and (B) put some sun screen on. But no, they clearly had decided that they knew what was best. Fair enough, some people have to learn by experience and I get that. Internally my mind said something or other about mad dogs, midday sun, and Englishmen. Anyway moving on, so the guy just sees me enjoying my book and coffee and asks at volume (no ‘excuse me’ either) why he wasn’t getting good reception on his mobile phone. My internal dialogue raised an excellent point which was never answered and it was: Do I look like I work for the national telco? Such mysteries you have to carry with you, and then a bright idea popped into my head all at once unbidden. Yes. So I said to the guy with few manners with my most ingenuine peasant face: “You’ll get better reception just over there” and pointed down the hill and away from my interrupted state of enjoyment. And off he went, which candidly surprised me. When we got to where I pointed, he knew he’d been done over. I was surreptitiously watching his reaction whilst pretending to read my book.

    So, was it all worth it? To this question, the answer can only be: Empathetically, Yes! Serves him right too. 🙂

    To put my enjoyment into a bit more context, it’s a bit like when I annoy the dogs and/or ask them to do something that they clearly would prefer not to do. So then they do a bout of epic flatulence, and thus the karmic scores are settled. Life, I have noted is neat if nothing else.

    No worries with the repair guys. I have a gut feeling that he has to deal with people griping about the cost of their repairs and so what you are seeing is his defensive mechanism. His business has to make financial sense and when stuff from the land of stuff is so very cheap, his business has to deal with existing on third world wage rates. Of course, he may be not a very nice person too…

    Hmm. Fine print. Hmm. Down here gubarmints used to offer a regular retirement payments until death known down here as a ‘defined benefit’ thing. Using the English language reveals that the word ‘defined’ means that the object is more or less elucidated clearly, so that the benefit bit is known in advance. Of course such things are generally very expensive for the gobarint that has to pay out on them, and so there is the other sort which most people down under fall into which works more or less like a bank account. When the funds are exhausted in such a thing, well let’s just say that they’re not there anymore. Hopefully your offer does not move you from clearly defined, to a possibly more nervous state of being?

    Good stuff, and leaf fall and manure makes for a heady mix of soil stuff. Long live the worms!



  60. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for considering my request. I’m always very curious about that particular subject as it is hard to know whom, when challenged will step up to the plate and hit home runs. And some folks are not in a role of their choosing, or one that matches their natural talents. It could well be that your mother was a very gifted lady who was able to manage a household under extraordinary circumstances. You just don’t know how things will turn out. And such skills would translate to other parts of her life and interests.

    The editor just for one example revels in living on a farm, and has often remarked that she wished that she’d moved to such a locale at least a decade before having eventually done so. And yet, I recall her being perfectly content in the inner urban suburbs where plentiful amenities were but a short walk away. You really never know how things will work out until you are put to the test.

    Hehe! I hear you about that with your sister. It can be such a small world. A month or so back, someone who I do work for mentioned in passing that they knew someone up here that knew me well, and I was just left going, Gawd it’s a small world… At least I think I’m in good with that person, and I have no doubts inquiries were made as to my good character. What do you?

    Anyway, it is good to hear that your sister in now on the straight and narrow path, and yeah, there is a school of thought which suggests that she got all the bad bits out early on? Hehe! It is a bit like buying the first jug of beer to share around because although you are early, people will definitely recall that you’d done so… My mum gave me that bit of advice – not sure what it means though.



  61. Hi Al,

    I hope so too, I like the guys Modus Operandi and look forward to getting a better insight into his dog training techniques.

    Yeah, it is funny you mention that about street smarts. Not all dogs have that. Years ago I had a Jack Russell dog who was named Denver as he was found abandoned on a country road. It seems an appropriate name don’t you reckon? Anyway, him and the old Boss dog: “The Fat”, used to happily walk off the lead. They’d listen to voice commands, stop at intersections and generally use their brains. Except one day, Denver took off across a road, The Fat followed him, and it was a bit like a scene out of the ‘Frogger’ arcade game as we dodged traffic. Fortunately it was a weekend and traffic was mostly non-existent. However the road was so named the: Docklands Highway, all four lanes… How we never got squashed that day was a true miracle. Some people look for images of deities in toast, I’m just thankful for the small mercies – like not getting squashed by a semi trailer towing a dog trailer that day. And from then on, like Sammy, they were on the lead. Yep, don’t push ya luck seems to be the way of things.

    Ah, I use a choker chain with the dogs, and have done so for decades. The dogs get the memo pretty quickly and then comply and from that point onwards don’t seem to be at all hassled by the lead – it is not like I pull on the lead either, but somehow not these two pups. They seem to have their own ideas, and this situation is entirely new to me. Oh well, these things are sent to try us.

    87’F sounds quite nice and glad for you that things are cooling down. It was warmish here today at 61’F and the soil surface looks drier for a change, however just below the surface…



  62. Hi Inge,

    No worries at all, and the cost for testing issue sounds quite reasonable to me if say the outcome was to forestall international travel. If we down here are any guide to that story, things have come to a grinding halt. As an interesting side story, pilots I believe, have to undertake so many hours per year in order to maintain their certification. With things as they are right now, well let’s just say that many pilots might possibly not be maintaining their certification.

    Simon appreciated your feedback and mentioned that he is considering writing a book on the subject.



  63. Hello again
    The potential for pilots losing their certification has arisen here also.
    Wow! A book on the virus. Early days yet, there’s an awful lot to play out for quite a while to come.
    Just went outside to see what was attacking my home. Son up a ladder dealing with a downpipe and guttering.


  64. Hi Lewis,

    Oh sorry I do so apologise for bringing into question the good character of the average zombie. It would be almost as if I’d labelled the brain eating folk by the awful moniker of: Politician. At least the motives of the average zombie are so transparent, you know where you stand! 🙂 The bots finally woke up to the fact that I reacted to their attempts at misdeeds thus perhaps clearly defining what the misused word: ‘woke’ actually means. I always believed and still do believe that the word refers to the change in state between slumber and alertness. Sometimes the dogs have caused me to be ‘woke’ at ungodly hours and I can’t say that it is a state of being that I appreciate being thrown into. Other peoples preferences may differ.

    Thanks, and err, yeah I was feeling a bit crunchy this morning after yesterday’s work and so decided to have a lower key morning. But after doing a few hours of house work, the sun was shining and the wind had at least slowed a bit, so we headed out with the stump grinding machine and ripped up the large tree stump we’d uncovered on the newly excavated terrace. Then there were a couple of other old tree stumps which tampered with my overall desire for neatness, and then those got dealt to too. Take that! And then I spent a couple of hours on the interweb chatting with friends (you may have noticed that I’m chatty!). Had a coffee and Anzac biscuit with the editor and then we went for a walk through the forest for just under an hour. By then it was dark and the wallabies were in the orchard, the moon was out and there may have been a planet or two in almost alignment with the moon, and so I began merrily chatting away here. I’d call that an enjoyable day. Anyway today I won the field of battle and the bots have given up and retired (for now).

    Yeah, I get the smaller potatoes too. Down here we call them chats, and they are rarely for sale. I too tend to believe that they have a nicer flavour than full sized potatoes. I’m not sure exactly what conditions produces the larger tubers. There is a bloke not too far from here who runs a potato farm and sells off the seconds to the locals. They’re so good and I replanted some of his lot, so who knows. Hopefully if the weather is good tomorrow, I’ll get to disturb all three raised beds and find out just what is going on with the potato plants there.

    Is it possible the Garden Goddess has been the person to do the watering in a haphazard way? Given your recent interaction… Yes, you have sent a very strong message that the local birds will most certainly receive: They’ll say to each other, that Lewis is a fine fellow for breaking the skin of this luscious looking and yet somehow oversized zucchini. 🙂 Life was not meant to be easy!

    I had no idea! So you knew this already, but it turns out the oldest known glass ingot dates back to 1300 BC. And I had no idea that the early forms of glass comprised quartz pebbles and plant ash. Who knew? And the cobalt meant that a blue glass was produced.

    The winds were pretty epic and I put up a link to an article with photos of the downed trees. I was mildly nervous working near to the big trees today. I hope they like what I’m doing here, although I’m not entirely sure they do.

    It ain’t just your folk. I see fruit trees in Melbourne that are full of fruit and nobody picks the fruit, or nobody else is allowed to pick the fruit. Had a neighbour who used to grow huge amounts of apricots every year. Tasty, but she wouldn’t allow us to pick the fruit but at the same timed whined incessantly about the mess the fallen fruit had made. It made no sense at all to me, but you may notice I now live in a rural area.

    I look forward to hearing your thoughts on what the book has to say about the megafauna that only recently used to wander the landscape down here. I have long suspected that people had to fill in the roles that these animals played in the landscape. Some cultures get that memo, and others, well things don’t turn out so well for them…

    Glues and resins are fairly common and widely used technologies dating way back, just because they are so useful and easy to obtain from plants – if you know the techniques. So, that sort of makes sense about repairing the Roman era ceramic stuff during the Dark Ages. It would have been a fair bit of heartache to accidentally destroy one of those items – or have it fall apart due to reaching the end of its economic lifespan. I’m guessing at that point in the story, the folks would no longer be able to pretend that the legions were coming back any time soon.

    Sorry… I got a bit over excited there mentioning the year with no summer. Last year was the year with no spring for me, so climactic strangeness can err, happen…

    Ooooo. Bro! Jason Sheehan is da man. I loved his book: Cooking Dirty. Epic tales from the dark confines of the kitchen where only the strong shall survive. Little wonder he was inspired to write the review. And his review of the new take on Beowulf, well it has me hanging for a copy. I feel ya bro! (or possibly rather: I fell ya bro, as Beowulf hacks down hard and the sword swooshes from high to low with a resounding thud as steel meets neck bone). To quote:

    “Anyone who f***s with the Geats? Bro,
    they have to f*** with me.

    Pure poetry, it’s like finding my people. 🙂 And yes, sounds like fun and appropriate reasoning for the poem. My understanding of the poem was that it was destined for that particular audience. There were some bits of the poem were the scribes working for you know who, added in their own flourishes. But I guess that was necessary to get the poem the scribes had access to repaired for the future.

    Did you put the film on your hold list? How is your library service holding up in this day and age?



  65. @ DJSpo:

    I am so sorry that I neglected to tell you how I am worried about your troubles there. You and Mrs. DJ are too often having to do it hard. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

    That is good news about your retirement, though.


  66. Hi Inge,

    The gubarmint loves using fancy words to describe their processes:

    The dole is now called ‘JobSeeker’, it used to be called ‘New Start Allowance’ and neither really explains the pain of dealing with bureaucracy.

    The assistance to businesses to help retain employees during this time is called ‘JobKeeper’ and it really does sound very close to the word used to describe the dole. People get confused.

    And with that hours problem, the pilots were looking to get something called: PilotKeeper. Thus proving that it is best to know the language in advance. I don’t believe they got what they were after despite the natty name.

    Who knows? He might be onto something and there is a solid market for non fiction books.

    Hope your son is safe up there and that the guttering gets repaired before winter. I must say that I’m glad you had the large oak tree sorted out all those years ago. Big trees next to houses during heavy winds does not make for relaxed sleep. 🙂



  67. @ Pam,

    @ Chris,
    Will add more after your next weekly installment. Busy day with chores and errands on the agenda. AND some reading and carving and sitting down with the Princess and watching a movie this evening. Those types of things, as you suggested, are necessary and important. Interestingly, the idea of consciously being easy on the both of us and coworkers has been on my mind the last 2 or 3 days, so your suggestion hit some fertile ground!

    The “fine print” in the early out package does NOT involve changing retirement plans. They did one of these in 2009 and the requirements and language appear to be the same. Thanks for the warning on that – I did read through the material again as a result

    Now on to the chores which will include sitting and watching the birds. 😉


  68. Yo, Chris – Well, the library “new list” came out last night, and it was chock full of zombie films! Something called “Blood Quantum” which is about zombies and some of our Native Americans. And, a three disc set called “Classic Zombies from the Golden Age of Horror,” which includes “White Zombie” (1932), “Revolt of the Zombies” (1936), and “King of the Zombies” (1941). Also something called “Eat Brains Love”. And, a couple of others that sounded too schlocky, for even my low brow tastes 🙂 . All are now on my hold list. There’s a rumor about that the library is going to increase the number of holds one can have, from 25 to 50. About time. Yes, “First Cow” is on my hold list.

    Yesterday I picked up “The Deuce: Third and Final Season”, “Windermere Children” (a mini-series), “Castle Rock: Season Two”, “Beecham House” (Mini-series? India, 1795) and something about a Van Gogh exhibit in Japan.

    The only thing that causes me to be “woke” at such an ungodly hour, is my bladder 🙂 . Too much tea, too close to bedtime.

    Sounds like a delightful day, around Fern Glade Farm. What? No rocks to move 🙂 .

    Well, the wreckage of the zucchini was there, yesterday morning. And every bit of it had disappeared by evening. Nothing but the impression in the ground. 🙁 . Darn. I had hoped it would linger for a few days. Send a message that I’m a bit crazy … and (gasp!) may be capable of anything! I’d guess the squirrels got it. Birds are generally, not so tidy. To fess up, actually, I gave one to Eleanor. The waste bothered me a bit, but, this time of the year, it’s not like there aren’t a lot of zucchini, around. And, it was just soooo satisfying to wail away on it.

    I bet the glass ingots you mentioned, from 1,300 BCE, were from a shipwreck. National Geographic had an article on it, decades ago. And, the ingots were blue! I remember the ship had an international cargo of luxury goods from all around the Med. They could even figure out, in a general way, the course of it’s trading route. I bet tears were shed when that ship went missing.

    I see another result of your storm was the lose of your water treatment plant. Boil water orders for a hundred suburbs. It was 81F (27.22C), here, yesterday. Supposed to be 10 degrees cooler, today. My friends in Idaho were supposed to have 90F, and ended up with 102F.

    Speaking of my friends in Idaho, I asked her about the ringless canning jar lids. They’re called “Tattler Reusable Canning Lids.” But, she’s never tried them out. Got a test batch and then they got caught up in the move to Idaho, and, she hasn’t done any canning since getting there. I’m sure Dr. Gargle has a lot to say about them, pro and con. I was thinking about it, and a penny dropped. Here, we don’t use rubber canning rings, much, anymore. Now the lids have a built in narrow ring of rubber. You boil them for ten minutes, to soften it up, and then can. You can’t reuse the lids for canning, again, but can use them for things like freezer jam. Ball Company makes them. Along with jars and a lot of other canning supplies.

    Well, it turns out the book on megafauna has only a couple of pages on Australia. Apparently, no one has done the work. Some species of Acacia tree (wattles) have enormous seeds. Way too big for ant or bird dispersal. The missing “partner” may have been giant kangaroos or wombats. Or, something called a Diprotodon. There’s about 10 pages on New Zealand, but I haven’t gotten to it, yet.

    Some ceramics were repaired by using glue, and small iron staples. That method was used well into the Victorian period. I’ve seen a few examples. Looks like hell.

    Our library system doesn’t have any of Jason Sheehan’s books. Sad. The one on cooking sounds interesting. Lew

  69. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for understanding. Sometimes when pressed for time it becomes a bit hard to both write and reply to comments.

    Good to hear about the reading, carving and movie activities.

    Yeah, if things get out of hand and everything’s hitting you all at once and plenty of those are not small things, well the old timers used to advise to take time out to smell the roses. A.K.A. slow down and take stock. 🙂

    Stay alert!



  70. Hi Lewis,

    I eagerly await your review on White Zombie which is touted as being the first of the genre. I suspect that fast zombies won’t get a look in, in that particular instalment of the continuing tales of the undead. Who knew that the origins of the zombie were from Haiti? The undead return to pester (or more correctly consume) the living. 🙂

    Eat brains love sounds to my ears like a play upon the story Eat Pray Love, but possibly with more exposed brains and servings of blood and guts. And a road trip film too. Well I’m curious and the trailer looked pretty funny. Hey, what’s going on with your library with the sudden influx of zombiedom? Have any of your contacts there mysteriously disappeared under unknown circumstances, but have been seen recently moaning mindlessly, looking a little worse for wear, and spending too much time in the anatomy section of the library? 🙂

    Ah, the library has provided far more meat and brains than zombie fodder. I’m always impressed with your library system, and also glad to hear that it appears to be back in action.

    Hehe! Yeah, it can be a problem and drinking too much water of an evening produces a similar result. It can be a fine line to traverse between not drinking any water and drinking too much that you have to get up later. It happens. I prefer to sleep right through until the alarm goes off.

    Unfortunately, some nights are not fated to work out that way. I woke up in the middle of the night last night and my brain was pondering the problems as to why the old steel round raised potato beds don’t work properly. I turned the problem over and over in my mind, and then I hit the jackpot as to how to sort it all out. Waited until the editor had enjoyed her coffee and chocolate in bed, and was in a receptive state – and then hit her with the idea. Yeah! The idea has now been implemented and it was so obvious from hindsight…

    The day was actually very nice and no rocks were harmed during the day – that we know about. I add in that little disclaimer just in case the volcano which is long since dormant, decides to start playing up again. I’d most certainly be annoyed by that outcome, but my annoyance would count for little in the greater scheme of things.

    Hehe! Nothing but the impression on the ground. On a serious note, I have actually seen structural components of Victorian era buildings that were in that exact state. I felt like an old school archaeologist like the fictional Indiana Jones and was at the same time hoping that the walls remained vertical (which they did, fortunately). But to see how easily things can disappear was a bit of a shock at the time.

    Anyway, it was a strong message to the squirrels, who now know that you’re OK. They would have been watching you and waiting for you to depart the garden. The birds here know more about what is going on than I do, although they are keen to pick over any excavations that I undertake. And yes, the birds are messy and they’ll scratch apart a good dog poo whilst they consume the edible bits and that leaves a mess for me because pioneering plants take advantage of the rich growing medium.

    Yes, it was a ship wreck and the glass ingots were blue! Cobalt apparently. It is amazing to step back and consider just how advanced and extensive the trades and trade routes were way back into ancient times. Makes me wonder just how far back such things actually went?

    The water boiling thing was not good for the many suburbs who got to enjoy that. And also if those people only had electricity with which to boil water, they may well have been up the creek. I recall reading Mr Kunstler’s most excellent series of books ‘The World made by hand’ when the local notables learned that they’d been drinking water with a dead coyote stuck in the outlet pipe. Not good.

    The narrow rings of rubber or whatever material it is forming an o-ring under the lids only has so many lives. For jam making we bought a huge quantity of those style of lids and they fit the glass bottles we have, but still I do wonder about the long term effectiveness of those lids in such an acidic environment. The commercial lids lasted a few seasons at best, but these replacement ones seem pretty good – so far. With the fruit preserving (as distinct from jam making) bottles there doesn’t seem any alternative to the replaceable rubber rings – which I keep a stock of. It is not an infinite stock though.

    Yeah that makes sense about nobody doing the research on the topic of mega fauna down here. I don’t believe that the population is up for the implications that might be revealed as it may offend deeply held beliefs. Certainly indigenous fire practices seems to offend people, so I just don’t know – and just get on with the job that needs doing.

    I’m well aware of the Diprotodon and the lack of such a critter in the landscape is a loss to us all. Mind you people would totally freak out upon encountering one in the flesh, so we get the world we want. But does it work?

    Oh, this may interest you but I have a plastic welding repair kit which uses… ta da … steel staples. Thus proving that everything old is new again. And the repairs don’t look that good to me either, but it works.

    Well, I thoroughly recommend Jason Sheehan’s book ‘Cooking Dirty’ as it is a thoughtful and realistic tour through the shadier sides of working in a commercial kitchen and also touches upon the motivations for doing so. Yes, I double that recommendation, with a side serving of fryer…

    Better get writing!


  71. Greetings Chris,
    Wild Black Berries.
    Our second Son whose family live in the City of Lake Forest Park (Not Part of Seattle?). Sent pics of the Annual wild blackberry harvest product prior and post baking. A crunch top deep dish Goody that will probably be devoured along with ice cream by the family of 5. The crop is from a wild semi marshy area in the back of his property. The crop quality and quantity vary from year to year. Yumm. He is a great home baker, cookies , cakes , pies, cinnamon rolls , cheese cakes,
    Full time a very busy Painting and General construction contractor. The grand kids, 3 later teens, His Wife, a retail buyer exec. Two Large Labradoodles, The Grand Dogs , Blue And Bear. They live in a totally remodeled home that was rebuilt over an old farmhouse which they have an old 1928 property record photo of. A lovely wooded place to live. In a region of urban Chaos.

    Ther aren’t to many folks who will brave the briar patches to harvest the blackberry’s, mostly treated as noxious species that thrive in areas of the North West US.
    Cheers Al

  72. Yo, Chris – Seems like, about this time of the year, the library puts a lot of spooky movies, on order, for Halloween. The new list is things that have been put on order. May not see them actually circulating, for another month or so.

    Speaking of Halloween, pumpkin ice cream should make an appearance, soon. I hope they don’t have a supply screw up, like last year. I saw something truly horrible, the other day. I don’t know if you have a confection called “candy corn”, down under. It’s a very old candy form. Triangular yellow and orange candies, that I suppose are supposed to be reminiscent of corn kernels. Maybe in a fever dream. Any-who. They’re putting out a flavored version, this year. Turkey flavored candy corn. There is something so wrong about meat flavored candy. Not … going … there.

    I wouldn’t worry to much about your dormant volcano blowing it’s top, without fair warning. Usually, they mutter and grumble for awhile. See: harmonic tremors. They often vent a bit of steam or ash, before the big event. Landslides. Somewhere, recently, I read that Pompeii probably had 4 days of tremors, before the big blow out.

    Quit a few shipwrecks have been charted, in the Med, that haven’t been explored yet. Some of them are pretty ho-hum. Cargos of amphora or architectural bibs and bobs. But sometimes they’re treasure chests. Usually, loot from foreign conquests. I think once, they even found a small pre-fab temple. Just snap the parts together like Legos, and worship the god or goddess of your choice 🙂 . When underwater archaeologists find one of the ho-hum wrecks, they always try and put a good face on it. “Oh, it will teach us so much about something or other.”

    Rubber rings can deteriorate pretty quickly, even with careful storage. Hard, brittle. I’d say if canning supplies disappear, we’ll not be canning in about five years. Back to sealing jams and jellies with wax. Not a bad thing. I’ve done that, and it works well.

    New Zealand has a lot of Divaricate plants. That means spines or thorns. Soft mouthed animals can’t get at them. But birds with their hard beaks, can. So, the missing partner is … ta-da! … the Moa bird. Some species of which grew taller than an ostrich.

    You, know, I wonder if I read “Cooking Dirty?” I was reading about it, and it mentioned being a young fellow and working in a crab shack. Is that the book where someone new on a restaurant line, managed to plunge his hands into a deep fryer? If so, I’ve read it. But where? Our library doesn’t have a copy. But then, they may have only had two or three copies to start with. If all strayed, or, gave up the ghost due to hard use, they may not have replaced it. Maybe the final copy didn’t circulate much, at all. Or, it’s out of print. Sounds very reminiscent of Tony Bourdain’s “Kitchen Confidential.”

    I picked a bowl of cherry tomatoes. Will probably pop them in the dehydrator, later. Lew

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