Eyes without a face

Tuning into the news today, oh boy! Another couple of weeks in lock down have just been added to our sentence due to the health subject that dare not be named. I must confess to feeling a mild state of shock at this turn of events. It is one thing to discuss the decline of Western civilisation from an abstract perspective, it is another altogether different thing to live it in the flesh. Still, mustn’t grumble at how fate plays out, as the English have been known to wisely observe. Anyway, down here in this corner of the planet, you have to be very careful as to what you say on social media, because after all we are in a state of emergency and the government has wide ranging powers at its disposal – and is apparently not afraid to use them, as this lady discovered: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-09-02/woman-charged-ballarat-covid-protest-live-stream/12623118

It is certainly interesting to err, live in interesting times. The editor and I live in a rural area outside of the Melbourne metropolitan zone, and so we live with marginally less restrictions than our compatriots in the big smoke of Melbourne who are under curfew which will continue into the foreseeable future. All the same the rural areas are still under pretty restrictive conditions, and at all times away from the house we have to wear a mask – even when there are no cases in this area.

Wearing a mask feels a bit odd to me. My peripheral vision becomes impaired, and for some reason it impairs my ability to be as aware of my surroundings. Living in a rural area, it is sort of important to be aware of my surroundings, if only because there are many minor daily events which if ignored can be very fatal.

A very large tree branch fell due to the strong winds earlier in the week

Earlier in the week, the winds blew very strongly. The farm and surrounding forest is usually protected from strong winds, but not that day. Large tree branches fell in the strong winds and it would have been fatal to be hit on the head by one of them. So yeah, being aware of your surroundings is not a bad idea.

But it isn’t just my peripheral awareness that is restricted, so to is my ability to think clearly. The other day I was filling out a basic form whilst in public wearing a mask, and my brain just wasn’t working right somehow. It was hard to discern exactly what was going wrong, but there it was – wrongness. And it was a basic form after all. ‘Carry on and keep calm’ is a saying which has been bandied around of late, and who can argue with such an adage? The form was fortunately eventually completed, and hopefully it was done correctly.

One thing I don’t miss is the small talk at the local supermarket. Yeah, I can do without that. At the local supermarket, in the now far distant recent past, the ladies at the registers always used to ask socially uncomfortable questions that were very hard to answer. It might sound innocuous to be asked in a bright cheery voice: “Have you got much on for the rest of the day?” Of course back in those care free days, shopping in the morning hours when parents were dropping their kids off at school meant that the supermarket was a quiet and pleasant experience. Clearly the staff may have been bored. Nowadays parents are home schooling.

To this very day, the only possible answers as to why such a question was posed to an unattended male of working age was that perhaps it was a policy of the store, or that my ambiguous employment status piqued the curiosity of the staff. Either way, satisfying other peoples curiosity is not my problem and they have to deal with the mystery. However, the situation has now become a moot point. Nowadays with the staff wearing a mask all day long, about all I’ll hear is: Do you have a loyalty card? And communication has now evolved to the point that a grunt of reply, or just merely handing the loyalty card over seems to satisfy the requirements of the system. Neanderthal, yes, I can speak Neanderthal when required.

So clearly wearing a mask all day long and serving the public is something of an impost, despite the claims to the contrary. The other week I was at another local business where the usual conversations generally far exceed the minimum standards required of the average Neanderthal. Materials were purchased, and a bloke took me over to where the materials were located. The heavy materials were left for me to load onto the trailer whilst wearing a mask. Upon completion of the task, a feeling of compassion came over me for the employees of the business, because I felt very hot and bothered whilst loading the heavy materials, and I don’t have to do that all day long. At least I could remove the mask once back inside the car. And it is early spring after all, and the air is still cool – what the heck is summer going to be like?

The other really weird thing is that nowadays it is hard to see a persons face. Sure you see their eyes, but it is really hard to read a persons expression. What is going on in there, becomes a complicated question for me now when confronted by eyes without a face. If ever you’ve communicated with a person who enjoys regular doses of botox injections up their face, well, you might know what I mean! And we now seem to have weeks and possibly months of this left to go. It feels like oppression to me.

The weather pays no attention to such human concerns as viruses, lock-downs and masks. Spring has arrived and it may be an early and long spring this year. The sun is shining, and when the wind is not blowing strongly, the weather is sweet. The bees have been foraging in the garden for many weeks now.

European honey bees are busy at work in the garden

Last week a new timber raised potato bed was constructed. This week, we relocated the contents of the existing potato beds into the new construction. The old steel rings had to be cut away from the soil in order to make the job easier.

The steel rings were cut away from the existing three raised potato beds. Ruby looks pained

It took about half a day to move all of the soil and potato tubers and plants. All of the material had to be walked up hill to the new timber raised potato bed. But eventually the job was done and the site was cleared.

The soil and potato tubers and plants were all relocated. Ollie is impressed

The new raised timber potato bed looks good and it is chock full of potato tubers which will hopefully produce more tubers by the time autumn rolls around again.

The author and Plum admire the new raised potato bed

The deconstructed beds produced a huge amount of very colourful potatoes. The potatoes grown here are all heritage varieties and require very little work. Even during the hottest and driest summers the plants barely get any additional watering.

Plenty of potatoes of all colours, shapes and sizes were harvested and plenty more were replanted. Where is Waldo the carrot?

Once the contents of the potatoes were moved to their new bed, we could begin construction on the new greenhouse project. The timber posts and some of the frame were constructed and cemented into the ground.

The corner posts and some of the frame for the new greenhouse project were constructed

Last week an inordinate quantity of rocks were unearthed. This week we decided to construct the final steel rock gabion cage which will sit at the very end of the terrace where the new greenhouse is being constructed.

A steel rock gabion cage was constructed which will sit behind the new greenhouse project. Ruby is finally impressed

The steel rock gabion cage was then dug into the ground at the very end of the terrace.

The new steel rock gabion cage was dug into soil at the end of the terrace

Observant readers will note that in the above photo, there are two gabion cages which are open and can receive more rocks. One of those two gabion cages was completely filled with rocks and sewn shut with steel wire, whilst the cage at the end of the terrace is now about 20% full.

One gabion cage is filled and was sewn shut, and the other is now about 20% full. Ollie is hiding from all of the hard work whilst the early spring sun shines on

The area on the terrace behind the two gabion cages was filled in with a combination of rocks and soil, and then covered over with the locally quarried crushed rock with lime.

Ollie emerges from the shadows only to be impressed at the sheer flatness of this now almost completed terrace

Onto the flowers:

Spring is daisy time
African daisies add a bright splash of colour
Daffodils are prolific in some parts of the orchard
The odd flowers of an Acer Negundo
Hellebores brighten up dark corners of the garden
Blue Echium’s against a bright blue spring sky
The weeping cherry is just about to go into full flower

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 13’C (55’F). So far this year there has been 808.0mm (31.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 806.8mm (31.8 inches).

58 thoughts on “Eyes without a face”

  1. Hi Lewis,

    The house can shrug off a small amount of electro magnetic radiation, but the sort that arrives via large explosions of one sort or another, it probably doesn’t stand a chance. The metal was included as part of the bush fire resilience systems constructed into the house design. It’s complicated, and in some rooms mobile phone reception is patchy.

    Speaking of phones I was on the phone today deep into trying to sort out a problem of a company mysteriously including very old data of mine which is no longer relevant. I really had to fix the problem, but because I couldn’t tell them what the old data was, they refused to speak with me, and so around and around we went in loops and eventually the rotters hung up on me. Because they were going around and around, my head was left spinning and hopefully I don’t turn into a zombie over night. I suspect that it would seriously hurt to have your head facing suddenly backwards. Do zombies actually feel any pain? Probably not, so maybe it wouldn’t hurt after all, it would perhaps just look strange?

    Yes, there is nothing quite like being able to see the highway zipping past through a hole in the floor of a vehicles floor pan. Oh yes, it wasn’t that long ago down here that car bodies rusted out. Whatever the steel sheet is protected with nowadays is perhaps nothing found in nature. The real pain of car bodies rusting out was when it rained and the water used to get into the cabin and the carpets ended up stinking to high heaven – for a while that is, until they dried out.

    Mate, I can’t even find it in my heart to blame them for wanting to do so. You know, if you were personally stuck with a losing position in a card game and could figure a way out of the position, or use the position to make a nuisance of yourself, wouldn’t you at least give it a go? Something forever changed after your trade talks with the land of stuff last year, and it would have been fascinating to be a fly on the wall – of course that is a fly on the wall that was not swatted into oblivion as is the fate of many flies. I doubt we’ll ever really discover what went on, but my gut feeling tells me that something sure did. And here we are today.

    And yes, just like zombies those IOU’s have also been sent to plague us down here with mischief and social strife. Such a strange world that we live in. Whatever. I’ve personally benefited from the IOU’s as has everyone else around me, so it is hardly surprising that the piper is calling us to join him. It’s a fun place to be – for a while, but dare I suggest that who knows what is on the whispering wind?

    Apologies pre-emptively if I seriously annoyed you with this blog essay. By way of explanation, it is a personal thing for me, and I wrote the essay from that perspective (noting that other perspectives can attract undue interest) and I’m just not wired for the thing that shall be worn. It pains me deeply, but I deal and move on and remember that in between worrying about dying it is important to recall that a person has to live. It doesn’t seem to bother other people nearly as much.

    Very funny about Hollow Kingdom, but I believe that the casting problem will be sorted through the ingenious use of animation. I do hope that Disney doesn’t get its hands on S-T? The words need to be spoken in their original form so as to create the spell of a mirror.

    Interesting, and the early Camulod characters bemoaned the loss of the old republic’s values. However, between you and I, I don’t recall the characters taking the discussion to the next level by wondering whether the original values were only possible whilst the excess resources flowed into the capital of Rome?

    Anyway, there is no need to be a plucky freedom fighter as the entire edifice gets to live or die by its own actions. And it will do that whether anyone from outside the movers and shakers speeds the process along. For me it all comes back to poop. If the cities aren’t recycling as much of their stuff as possible (and dumping organic matter into the oceans is not recycling – that is changing the basic chemistry of the oceans) then the end result is baked into the cake.

    The editor has read Misery and we have both watched the film. Nobody will really know whether the author struggled with the birth pangs of the character which apparently arrived unbidden in a dream, but hopefully the final exorcism of completion, possibly shaking the demons off provided catharsis. It is notable that the character can make a future appearance in the series you mentioned and so maybe even a form of peace was found? Dunno. Creation can sometimes bring costs as well as the effort and joy. It’s a difficult road.

    The show was a bit before my time, but it is notable that to my mind the various wives in the show appear to have expressions which express emotions other than happiness.

    Mint jelly is a funny condiment which only gets added to roast lamb from memory and it has been a long time since I’ve enjoyed a roast lamb. But yeah it probably would have worked really nicely on the lamb pie. Yummo! Light and flaky pastry is the preferred option for pies. Dunno, but the denser pastries are a bit shortbread like and maybe only seen used down here with dessert pies. But the flaky pastries can vary wildly and they add to the overall composition of the pie don’t you reckon?

    Anyone who can run a cafe single handedly and not lose their head is doing really well. Respect, it is no small undertaking. I’ve seen the dread flags of the pirate ship Bean, bean and counter sailing the wide accountant-seas. They are a mob to be feared and have a gruesome, if well deserved reputation. Good to see that you asked for advice on reheating the pies. As a general observation, pies can be nuked to get the centre contents warm, but then just for a bit of inspiration give it a bash after the nuking and chuck them in the oven for I dunno 10 minutes at a temperature hot enough to dry out the pastry, but yet not burn the pastry. A delicate number in the range of maybe 190’C / 375’F depending on the oven. Much experimentation needs to occur before the magic number is gleaned. 🙂

    Oh no! Pies never need a knife unless upmarket consumption is going to take place then it is perfectly respectable to use porcelain and proper cutlery set out in their correct order too of course. So, yes go with your gut feeling there, and I stand corrected on my earlier assertion. See, this is why the true bakery adventure is in the testing as you really never know how things will turn out. And yep, cardboard and/or wall paper tastes are right out. Cheese and onion is clearly the dark horse in this race. Did you discover what was meant by the addition of the egg? Anyway, the race is long and there will casualties, but then there will be that superlative moment when you stand on top of bakery mountain and know that you achieved greatness – or more properly they have and you get to enjoy the works. 😉

    Exactly, I did go with my gut feeling and now avoid the place. Nothing I could put a finger on, but you know…



  2. Hello Chris
    Back from shopping. A horrible experience due to mask wearing. I am certainly not helping the economy as I am only buying absolute essentials. Are you having to wear a mask outside? At least I can pull it down the second I leave a shop.
    I agree about losing an incisive brain when masked and the extent to which it inhibits human contact,
    Feel sorry for the cashiers who make poor attempts at conversation. Some stores here tell them to chat with the customers. Fine if they can do it naturally but hell for them if they can’t. I suspect that they are given sentences to use if necessary.
    Still very dry here and I have reached the stage in the year when I am utterly sick of watering so become a bit lazy about it.
    There are an unusual number of insects around and they seem to want to come indoors. Sitting in the smallest room, I noticed a hornet sitting next to me. Later that day when going to bed, a grasshopper jumped from my head to my pillow.


  3. Hi Chris –
    Been reading your blog (without much if any prior comment) for quite some time now – fascinated by your energy and process since I attempted a similar thing back in the 1970’s. Had to give it up after seven years due to failure of energy, depletion of $$, collapse of water system and family considerations, so I deeply admire your determination and perseverance.

    Anyway, not to rain on your parade, as they say, but I’ve been wondering about the durability of the gabions – which I think is a great idea, on the face of it. That is, what will you do when the steel wire enclosing the rocks begins to rust and destruct?


  4. Yo, Chris – “…the news today.” (“About a lucky man, who made the grade.”). Today’s ear worm? Can’t do better than the Beatles.

    Well, here, we have “inciting to riot” laws, and “declaring martial law”, laws. But, they are usually State maters, vary from place to place, and are seldom invoked. For a couple of reasons, I suppose. Of course, we have the whole “freedom of speech” thing, built right into our Constitution. And, not many are brave enough to poke that can of worms. People who do poke that can of worms, provide lawyers with lots of mad cash. Also, I think, perhaps, if the civil unrest serves whatever power structure is in control, it’s seen as serving their interests. But, I DO understand you’re having to tread gently, given the Laws of Your Land. Different places, different laws and customs. When in Rome…?

    I’m afraid you’ve got the dreaded MDS (Mask Derangement Syndrome.) 🙂 . I think there’s an Ap, for that. Or, maybe it was a pill. Something with two pages of “possible side effects”, in very small print. I’m sure the problems you have with the mask, are not limited to you. Varies from person to person. With our upcoming winter, people have problems with their glasses fogging up. Kind of you to give a thought to the poor blokes that will be wearing the things, in the hot summer. Some people who don’t want to wear a mask, here, claim health problems. COPD. Funny, they can never quit come up with a doctor’s statement that they suffer from that.

    Speaking of bogus claims, the masks have really helped me cut a lot of idle chatter, out of my life. I’ve pretty much put it about that I won’t have anything to do with groups of more than two people. I like to sit outside and get a bit of peace and quiet. If I’m joined by someone, well, that’s the luck of the draw. If we’re joined by a third, I beat it out of there. One Lady declared I didn’t like her. (Well, I really don’t. Endless, mindless chatter. Sometimes I want to say to her, “Listen? Here it?” And, when she inquires what, say, “The quiet. The silence.”) But, to keep the social waters relatively smooth, I just say, “Don’t you know there’s a pandemic, on?”

    Well, I suppose some single, unaccompanied male does incite a bit of interest among, especially, the Ladies. Who knows what you might do? Maybe even wear a ratty jumper, to town! The horror, the horror. I’ve often referred to myself as “an undomesticated male.” With great glee. When I go into a store, I try and kick off the interchange with a cherry hell-o, if nothing else. I do realize the problem of reading faces, while masked. And, being an old, white, male, I may be capable of anything! :-). So, I work a bit at getting everyone to relax. Nothing over the top.

    The “Ollie impressed” picture? I really like the line of rocks, winding off into the forest. Who knows where they might lead! Looks like you’ve got another fire going, burning off the duff.

    Those are some fine looking potatoes. I hope you sampled a few, before popping the rest, back into the ground.

    Oops! It’s the greenhouse start, with the fire in the background. Looks like you’ve got a good start. Where are you going to site the horse manure pit, for the pineapples? 🙂 .

    Very cleaver to extend the area of the terrace, using the gabion cage. Provides a lot of stability, to that end of the terrace. I think you could construct a small lookout tower, there. 🙂 .

    The daisies are a real knock-out. And, they’re blue! Wonder if I can find some, here? The Echium, as usual, is gorgeous. And, it’s blue! But on to your missive … (Cont.)

  5. …Cont. and to your epistle … I had a similar go around when I was switching phone carriers. I wanted to keep my old number. Well, the old carrier didn’t want to give it up, unless I could come up with my account number. But … as I didn’t get monthly statements, I had no idea what my account number, was. But the very patient and adroit lady, at my new carrier, managed to delve deep, in the bowels of my old carrier, and finally stumbled on a Real Live Person, who, with a bit of cajoling, finally gave up the account number. The whole process took over 45 minutes. One of the Ladies mentioned the other day, that she had to go out and get a new phone card, as she had used up all her minutes, hanging on the phone with our Social Security department.

    I really don’t understand the trade talks, with the Land of Stuff. A lot of it is secret. All I know is, is that we slap tariffs on a lot of their stuff, and they do the same, with ours. There’s lots of howling from different parts of the economy, and dire threats of costs being passed onto the consumer. Well, the consumer (myself included) have got off lightly, for years (at the expense of our country’s businesses) and it’s time to meet-cute with that piper, you mentioned.

    Those IOUs. It’s the same as when (I think) Greece, Italy and a lot of other countries thought it was the greatest thing in the world, when the World Bank (IMF?) started pouring money into their countries. Until the bill came due. But, yup, the world is going to hell in a hand basket, and there’s not a thing you or I can do. Except watch out for ourselves, as best we can, and muddle through.

    “Castle Rock” season two is the origin story, of Annie Wilkes. The prequel, if you will. The final scene is Annie and her daughter (maybe) at an author reading, and the daughter (maybe) asks if Annie will ever get to meet the author. Annie’s response is her classic line. “Of course I will. I’m his biggest fan.” 🙂 .

    I’ve made mint jelly, a couple of times, in my life. Can’t ever remember putting it on lamb (I can’t ever remember eating lamb). But, I did smear it on a lot of other things, mostly, baked goods.

    When I worked in that little Skid Row cafe, in Seattle, I was the only employee for the morning shift. The cafe in Centralia, well, the owner got sick, twice (heart) and I ran the place single handed for a week and a half, two weeks. Those were long days. But, we just did breakfast and lunch. And, were closed two days, a week. After closing, I’d sit down with the menu, and go line by line. Checking the supply back up on every item. Also, when customers would come in, I’d be right up front. “Jerry is in the hospital, and I’m by myself. Things may take a bit longer.” Just to head trouble off, at the pass. By that time, I knew all the regulars, and, it was mostly regulars.

    Egg? What had egg, in it? I missed that. No eggs were harmed in the making of my meals, as far as I can tell. Maybe an egg wash, on some of the pastry?

    I picked a big bowl of cherry tomatoes, yesterday. I hadn’t heard directly, from our on again, off again gardener. No one had touched them in over four days. They were beginning to fall off the vine. So, I’ve got two trays perking away in the dehydrator. There was a handful left over, so I chucked them in with last nights dinner of rice and beans. Tasty.

    Our weather is about to change. Probably, tonight. Right now, we’re still getting a ripping good breeze from the ocean. 16mph with gusts to 20. But, probably tonight, the wind will shift, and come from the east. Temperatures will climb, and with them, the possibility of wildfires, on this side of the mountains. Prof. Mass has a post about it. There’s a flag flying, not to far out my window. I’m keeping an eye on it. Right now, it’s flapping due east. When it starts flapping west, I’ll know the change is upon us.

    Speaking of other people’s posts, last Friday, Mr. Kunstler had a pretty good post about American higher education. Worth a look. Lew

  6. Hi, Chris

    Wow, your place looks amazing! You and the Editor must feel so proud when you look at all the beautiful and productive areas, and think, “We made that.”

    I envy you Ollie.? He looks like a lovely canine person. The girls, not so much! Way too much energy for someone my age. How is the training going? Did you find that book(?) useful?

    I wore a mask the other day for the first time, and I get what you were saying. They will be horrible in hot weather. Luckily (I suppose) most of Canberra’s shops are in air-conditioned malls, so grocery shopping and so forth will not be too awful. But I think I would avoid public places if at all possible.

    You mentioned Hollow Kingdom. I looked it up, intending to buy it, and I discovered that there are two series of that name? Pretty please, could you give me the author’s name? Or even the initials,so I know which books are which?

    Thanks for the musical reference, by the way. I like that song.?

    Cheers, Hazel

  7. Chris,

    Complexities again have complicated things here. Will try to catch up later this week. One comment and the highlight first.

    Not disagreeing with your take on the mask. I had jobs that required use of respirators for hours at a time. Masks are nothing in comparison. That said, the Princess and I had several hours of errands to run on Saturday, masks required for nearly the entire time. It was 35C outside, very warm in some of the stores and the mask got, ummm, old. As you said, living in interesting times is interesting.

    The highlight: massive wind storms started Sunday late afternoon, the wind coming from the north and northeast rather than the usual southwest. Now it seems like the entire state of Washington east of the Cascades is on fire. At least 6 fires on the Princess’s home Rez, one of which blew south across the BIG Columbia River near a town called Bridgeport. Many cousins in the path of that fire. Multiple towns evacuated from that. Malden, about 70km south of here, had 80% of its buildings burned by another fire. Multiple fires in my county, towns evacuating. Poor Mansfield, Washington is in the path of the BIG Rez fire mentioned earlier. Evacuation order, only they CAN’T evacuate because visibility is zero due to smoke and blowing dust. October 1991 had what we call Firestorm. This may end up rivalling its destruction.

    Other things have also intervened, and we’re pretty exhausted.

    Glad that the falling branches missed you in your windstorm!


  8. Hi Inge,

    Yes, the shopping experience leaves much to be desired nowadays. I’m trying to contribute to the continuing economy, however a few weeks back I had to do a ‘click and collect’ purchase that was quite heavy at a much loved hardware store down under, and the young lady was perhaps not adequate for the task of bringing the heavy item out to the car. Believe it or not, a young man who was also working in that role left her to bring the item out. And eventually two young ladies brought the item out and I was not even allowed to load it into the car – they had to do it. All up I spent 40 minutes in the car park and it was an unsatisfying experience – at least I had the foresight to go to the toilet before I arrived for the long and winding wait. What do you do?

    The wearing of masks are required at all times whilst in public at risk of fines down here. It is actually quite rare to see people without a mask now, and the police will fine you and there are a lot of cameras on phones in the population nowadays.

    Thanks, my brain doesn’t quite function right when wearing a mask – not sure why, but appreciate hearing your perspective.

    Too true about the learned and requested lines. The whole thing is akin to a mummers play. Enquiring as to what I’m up to for the rest of the day just seems somehow socially inappropriate, but maybe I’m just old fashioned. It happened often enough too. Anyway, I don’t hear such questions now and this is a good thing in my books.

    Dunno about your perspective and I’m very curious, but small talk is an art form and it can be learned, although I’ve noticed that some folks avoid absorbing the lesson through all manners of different behaviour – guys tend to project a gruff persona, whilst women tend to lean towards the silent and acquiescent side of things. But there are plenty of other options used too such as effrontery and that is used by either gender.

    A water robot saves a whole bunch of trouble on the watering front. The act of watering becomes a dilemma because if enough days are missed then the plants can really suffer. Thus the water robot used here.

    Hehe! Most insects are attracted to the lights of a household as it is a free energy source. We use solar power to spot light a huge Eucalyptus tree and bats and owls love the free energy provided by the out of context light source.



  9. Hi Martin,

    Welcome to the discussion. 🙂

    Thank you and your words are high praise indeed. Just between you and I, we have no idea what we are doing but merely tackle one problem at a time as and when it arises. There are so many predicaments, but the first was shelter, next firewood, then solar, then water… And the list goes on and on, and I have a gut feeling that a state of enjoyable comfort is an infeasible and unknown distance into the far future. Oh well. And respect to you for giving it a bash. Did you enjoy your time at this great game?

    A top question! Entropy is a hungry monster and it devours all in the end. Our resident history professor buff ‘Lewis’ has on many occasions reminded me that the ancient Roman’s believed that rocks were where they are because that is where they ended up. The logic is sound, as even your good self will have to admit.

    So, the plan is. The rocks will settle in the gabion cages over time. The normal rainfall will wash sediment into the cages and so they will bind with the clay as it washes into the cages. The surface of the terrace will be top dressed with crushed rock with lime, and If I had half a brain, from time to time I would ever so slowly add a small quantity of cement powder, and then what do you reckon might happen?



  10. Hi Hazel,

    Thank you and your words are like music to my ears. Nice music that is too. And didn’t he have an excellent voice, and despite the rough punk outer shell, he was a bit of a crooner. 🙂 I was quite partial to ‘white wedding’ back in the day, but there were many hits, and who can forget the cameo performance in the film: ‘The wedding singer’?

    Ollie was a chance and also boon companion on this here thing called life. Can you believe that the shelter offered me free access to a doggie counsellor so that we were better able to deal with him? So weird and proves how much they know about dogs. Anyway, the two young girls, well they are just young and full of beans and that leads to natural hijinks. They’ll settle down eventually.

    The book has not turned up yet, we’re just going with our more traditional training methods and they seem to be more or less working. The venerable elder and now deceased Dame Scritchy just took everything that we had, and we erred in not getting onto the young pups training earlier. Oh well, life wasn’t meant to be either easy or perfect. What else do you do?

    Canberra has some lovely facilities. I have very fond memories of a most excellent Italian restaurant in Kingston when I visited Canberra a few years ago, in order to attend a funeral for the editors uncle. There is a bit of guilt there at how much I enjoyed the food, but the food was so good the night before the funeral, that I’d suggest that it was something of a wake? You know it sounds like a lousy excuse right now when I typed that out, but the food was so good.

    But yes, I have a hunch that the effect of mask wearing and a right proper stonking hot summers day in the low to mid 40’s is a known effect. And it won’t be too long until we all get to experience that.

    The book is Hollow Kingdom by the author Kira Jane Buxton, and it is an awesome read. Not only did the book make me laugh – a lot, but it also made me a bit teary at one point, whilst weaving in a whole bunch of background to common sense ecology. The most excellent author had me in the palm of her hand. An excellent read.

    Hope things have greened up for you and that your garden is productive.



  11. Hi DJ,

    Oh my goodness. You know, too much complexity makes for a very stressed out mind, so remember to take it easy and kick back and relax when you get a chance in between the maelstrom of ongoing problems and predicaments.

    Of course the occasional adventure on the never ending quest for a quality meal might do little harm and a whole lot of good during such times. 😉

    Thanks for the first hand summer experience. Ouch. It can get at least 10’C hotter again in the big smoke, but not really sure how it will feel when it becomes both seriously hot and seriously humid in that fair city as I suspect it will this summer.

    Oh my! Stay safe and remember to keep out of harms way for you and your lady, and fingers crossed for the cousins and the Rez. The good Professors blog has quite a bit on the smoke and fire threat to Spokane. It’s the winds, and yours sounds horrific.

    Thank you, and I too am glad that the trees decided to spare me. I do try to be nice to the trees.



  12. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for understanding. If I’d written the stuff that citizens of your fine country seem to enjoy writing with panache and flair, mate I’d have to fend off multiple lawfare attacks within days, whilst potentially having the constabulary drag me away in the wee hours of the night. It makes for a nervous experience and I’m not free at all to say what needs saying, and that is how the cookie crumbles. And what point is there is in whipping a dog or backing me into a corner where there are few options out? They may bite unexpectedly. There is a reason I have a code of conduct in place.

    Absolutely, my brain is addled with the mask and I do try to some sense in public. Fortunately for me I cultivate the air of the mildly distracted eccentric who occasionally imparts amusing witticisms. People seem to enjoy the show. But I was filling out a basic postal form and my brain just wasn’t working right. What do you? I mentioned to a couple of ladies I know who were working this morning, just how much I admired their stoicism and ability to work whilst wearing a mask all day long – and I really meant it too.

    I’ve heard that about the masks and peoples reactions to them. It’s a mixed bag and some people don’t mind them at all, I’m just not one of those people. Oh well. The constabulary will most definitely fine a person if not wearing a mask – your arrangements are far looser and perhaps easier than the ones in place down here which seem rather rigorous to me. You don’t have to go far at all on the interweb to see footage of folks of all ages getting busted for not wearing a mask, and for some reason women seem to be more prone to protesting than men. There is something in that.

    Hehe! Oh yeah, I get that about idle chatter. As a confirmed introvert I sort of like to enjoy my chatter on my own terms and not waste it on people who I have no intention or possibility of speaking to again. And some people just seek to satisfy their curiosity, and what is the point in feeding such needs? On the other hand I went out of my way to cheer someone up today, and may have succeeded. Incidentally, like your style. 😉

    Well yes, there is that inconvenient but there all the same aspect to the question, and I suppose the ladies do actually know that aspect to the question and just thrill at the discomfit it produces. It’s a choice I guess. Your option is good too with the cheery ‘hullo’! At least it raises the possibility that you might be a live one and best avoided. But yeah, I too try to get people to relax, and it does make my life easier as a consequence.

    Actually the rocks winding off into the forest is actually a path leading to that particular fire pit. Few chunks of infrastructure are indeed there by chance, although it may look that way. And yeah, with all of the wind over the past week, a lot of stuff had fallen to the ground and generally the termites had already been there so the stuff burns well. I don’t necessarily talk about all of the work we do here because people can get a bit odd about it.

    Hehe! Mate, if plans go well, people should be bringing me pineapples, not me having to worry about growing them. Pah! Small change stuff. Hehe!

    The rock gabions provide really nice edges to a terrace and incidentally the gabions are exactly parallel to the firewood shed and the greenhouse. We constructed the greenhouse using a new technique which we’d never attempted before. We made the frame as you see it and then walked it around the terrace (it is quite heavy) just to get a feel as to how and where it would look just right. We weren’t honestly sure and it took a few moves before it felt right. Then we dug holes and used the cement to level and square off the building. I was on top of a ladder with a very heavy mallet adjusting the posts in the holes by thumping them until the level was spot on. Never tried that before, but it seemed to work ok.

    The daisies are lovely aren’t they, and glad you noticed the ‘blue’ remark. 🙂 Good luck, they should be easy to find in your part of the world.

    You got lucky with that particular phone co, and you’ve mentioned in the past that they have good customer service. I on the other hand was on a phone call with someone on the subcontinent and every second word dropped out of the conversation due to a bad line.

    The land of stuff appears to have ejected two of our journo’s and detained one. The legal system there is that if you have been detained, you are guilty and the trial is apparently not about determining guilt, but about sentencing. Our journo’s fled to the consulate after being met by the constabulary of the land of stuff and politely asked not to leave the country. They both did exactly that but had to survive an interview, whatever the heck that means. Hey, what does opaque mean? 🙂 Far out!

    Anyway, I heard about a new and interesting pie on the radio today: A Banoffee pie. Sounds lethal and very English. 🙂 Apparently a band (Groove Armada) was gifted such a pie and sudden inspiration turned the song they’d working on for months and months into an epic anthem. The magic of bakery products at work? It wouldn’t surprise me if quality bakery products were not at all available in the land of stuff, and that might explain the dour behaviour. I see Disney has possibly bowed to the economic might, and you did mention the other day that epic block busters were hideously expensive. They. Need. Better. Quality. Bakery. Products. Just sayin…

    Exactly, we’ll muddle through and try and remember to enjoy the cheese and onion pies. OK, I’ll stop. Yes, I’ve gone too far, but they are so good! OK, OK. I hear you. I won’t mention bakery products again for at least the rest of this reply. The future however is uncertain. Hehe!

    Good point about the daughter character, and mate your entire paragraph on the character gave me the chills. It could definitely happen. Is that fate being proclaimed? And what happened to the daughter in between the series and the book / film? Possibly not good.

    Ah, well I get that your country doesn’t have a huge lamb culture (not the edible variety anyway). Down here it used to be a commonly eaten main meal, as in: Lamb chop and three vegetables (usually boiled). And as a kid I recall picking the lamb bone (note the use of the singular tense) clean, eating the fatty tail and the small chunk of marrow. The Italian, Greek, Indian, Chinese and Vietnamese immigrants really added hugely to our cuisine – which was very English before all that.

    Wise to let the regulars know what was going on, and you did very well running such a business by yourself. Running a commercial kitchen is an exercise in logistics and minimising waste. Not always easy and people can be very unforgiving if you can’t supply their regular enjoyments.

    Such a lovely thing to harvest fresh produce from the garden, and sun ripened cherry tomatoes are the best. I have no doubts little tomato seedlings from missed tomatoes that fell to the ground will turn up next May.

    Are you getting much of the smoke? It sounds horrendous, and the winds are a red flag warning.

    I always read Mr Kunstler’s posts and most especially enjoyed that particular essay. 🙂 I don’t normally comment over there because I don’t get much in the way of ongoing dialogue with the other commenters, and that’s cool.



  13. Hi Chris
    Greetings from Dirtland
    Yesterday was a messy mixture of blowing dirt and fire smoke carried by winds of 20 to 40 mph from mostly north east of here and south of Spokane with other contributions along the way. Dust every where. Clear and sunny today and mid 70s today. Hoses and nozzles on for the house, cars and, concrete and luckily we cheap ample water available?.

    Those pesky face masks. My work and personal life has seen a fair amount of required and voluntary mask wearing. Effective masks need to be matched to the wearer.
    Sized to face; vision obstruction; strap comfort; ease of breathing, all involving proper fit.
    Higher end masks have both inlet and outlet flapper one way valves. That helps keep exhausted air moisture and heat build up in the mask. Outlet only is a big help.
    For extended use the comfort features can make a big difference. Quick in and out trips what ever meets requirements?. My advice, “ Chose the one you dislike the least” (wiggle words)?

    This weeks Blog: Love the Title. Nice spring weather, stunning work on the projects! The heavy timber rectangular bed frame is great. The rock gabions are nice as always. I think your timber frame green house is going to be big improvement in your farm.

    We have nice Improved county road with a half mile or so protected on one side with rock filled gabions which appear very similar to yours. The Two lane road was widened and leveled to safely accommodate two way large truck traffic. Gabions line and protect the high wall road cut area. The bottom layer is a 1 meter high concrete wall that was wisely coated with high gloss attractive graffiti resistant finish. Very nice look. Gabions height follow the top contour of the road cut. Good looking!
    The road leads to the entrance of Webber Canyon that winds for several very steep well surfaced roadway miles. Very fun driving in the days of my ownership of a pretty blue 99 BMW M ROADSTER that was enjoyed until my Seattle Sons wife bought it from me in 2014. No regrets I enjoyed my time with the car. She dearly loves it!
    Cheers Al

  14. Hello again
    Have just received a long phone call from South Australian daughter. Thanks to you, I knew far more about the virus restrictions in your area than she did. Things seem very easy where she is.
    I never have a window or door open once I put a light on as I am a martyr to the midge and the mosquito
    Small talk:- I dislike it intensely and am no good at it, though I can manage the obligatory initial sentence or two. It is so pointlessly boring.


  15. Yo, Chris – I also understand your (well, most Commonwealth countries) libel laws can be pretty draconian. We have libel laws, here, but they seem to have no teeth. Other than the occasional pointless law suit, that seems to satisfy no one, except the lawyer’s, bankers. 🙂 .

    Well, we had 27 new cases, in our county, Saturday, Sunday and Monday. So, I mask up and am fairly careful. About the only time it bothers me is when I’ve puffed my way up four flights of stairs. Sometimes, I’m a bit gaspy by the time I get to my door. Obviously, as far as masks go, your mileage may vary. And, sometimes, I kind of like the anonymity. When I’m taking H back into the building after a walk, as I put the mask on, I seriously inquire of her if we should go rob a bank. 🙂 . She’s thinking about it.

    Our old building manager made a visit back this morning. Might be because our current building manager is on a weeks holiday. But, of course, Lazy Shiftless Jack, the “maintenance” guy is skulking about. So, I’m sure a report will be made to the higher ups. I did get to ask her a few quick questions, but, 15 or 20 of the Old Babes are crowded around her, on the patio. Not a mask in sight. I’ll get a full report, however garbled, later.

    I also try for the “amusing witticism” or quip. But try and be aware of not falling into the trap of Old Guy Who Tells Lame Jokes. You know the type. Sports a Full Cleveland. 🙂 .

    “Long and winding” … path. Almost another Beatles ear worm. The Lords of the Manors, always sent the first pineapple of the season, to Queen Victoria, to grace her breakfast table. I suppose a little bribery never hurt anyone’s prospects.

    LOL. The greenhouse was nudging you into placing it, exactly where it wanted to be.

    Hmmm. Looks like the Banoffee pie, is a subspecies of banana cream. The toffees sound interesting. Hmmm. Wonder what it would be like with the pumpkin spice toffees, I picked up?

    Well. Check out Prof. Mass, this morning. As predicted, several wild fires have broken out on the west side of the mountains, in Washington and Oregon. The closest one to us is in Skamania County, which is directly to our SE. Their northern border abuts our SE border.

    The weirdest thing. I’d been watching the flag all day, to detect the shift in the wind. About 8:30, last night, the little fan in my window gave an odd sound. The flag was blowing due west. Immediately, my apartment filled with the smell of woodsmoke. I mean, I could taste it. Smelled like there was a bonfire, in the parking lot. Oh, well. Could be worse. A northeastern suburb of Los Angeles, recorded a temperature of 121F (49.44C), yesterday. A state record. Lew

  16. Hi Chris,
    Another productive week for you and the editor. Can’t wait to see the completed greenhouse.

    We’re just getting to the end of wearing masks in the heat though they aren’t required outside unless it’s a crowded situation. It’s rarely enforced anyway. The state of Illinois had mandated that one wear a mask inside at a restaurant but when you were seated you could take it off. Well a new addition to that mandate, you have to put it back on when the server is at your table so it’s on and off, on and off. Pretty ridiculous. I had to wear a mask outdoors at the recycling drive in July for 3.5 hours. It was a hot day. Two people I knew well drove up and I didn’t recognize them wish their masks on at first. Yes, people had to wear them in their cars as well.

    It’s been very busy with wrapping up the gardening and prepping for next year. I just canned a bunch of tomato sauce this morning. There have been many social visiting as well as everyone wants to get it in before we are all forced indoors. There are a lot of people who are very afraid of being indoors with people other than those they live with including many of my family.

    Our neighbors across the street came over the other day for snacks and drinks. They relayed an interesting story from their DIL. Their son, who is a physician, lives in Texas which had a big increase in cases. They made tests available for anyone without a doctor’s request. Five couples which were his friends decided to get the test. They registered and then proceeded to wait a very long time in line. The wait was so long they decided to just leave without the test. A few days later they all received notifications that their tests were all positive. So there you go.

    My daughter and her fiancé waited too long to start training the pandemic puppy, Ruth and she was quite unruly. Well they finally got serious and she’s improved greatly so your girls will get there too I’m sure.


  17. @DJ
    Your situation sounds quite awful and worrisome. You and your wife are in my thoughts.


  18. Hi Lewis,

    That’s word on the street about such lawfare and it can cost well into the high six figure amounts. An eye watering number that is best if you’re elsewhere and not involved in the action at the very least. Speaking of eye watering, the house insurance bill arrived in the mail this morning and was a whopping 20% increase on last year’s bill. A truly impressive achievement and incidentally I was of the impression that the previous high note of an 18.3% increase was pretty stupendous. My gut feeling is that people will be shaken out of that system at a fairly rapid clip. It’s actually a sort of negative feedback arrangement. Mind you, I heard today of a fascinating change from out of left field which may be a precursor to further changes, but I’ll believe it when I see the change actually in place. We’re being softened up for change right now.

    Your freedom of speech laws are an amazing thing, especially when viewed from a society where the constabulary have enormous powers, and some cheeky wags might suggest that they are unafraid to use them.

    Finished the book ‘Hollow Kingdom’ a few minutes ago. A truly delightful read and kudos to the talented author who so penned the words and spun the spell of narrative. 🙂 Happy days to have been beholden to the might and story telling of Shit-Turd the crow.

    Now here is the thing. As far as I understand things, banks are one of the few businesses, nay possibly the only business where you must take off your mask upon entry to the premises. So I applaud H’s tidy sense of opportunity seeking, but things may go awry. You were warned. Now, you might also have to consider sewing a mask for the valiant and brave H as she may be identified. If I tried to put a mask on Ruby I suspect that she would bite me. Ollie on the other hand would so love the attention. Now of course with banks there was that strange time where the freaked out lady on the other side of the glass door attempted to persuade me from entering the bank and conducting my business which is their raison d’être after all. I may have politely inquired as to the status of access to my funds, and that may have made a difference on the day, but yeah it sure was a weird incident.

    Apparently we are not going to be allowed out of lock down unless case numbers fall below something like 5 for the entire rural area of the state. My gut feeling is not telling me good things about where this is heading. And yes things are heating up on a geopolitical front as we are retaliating against the land of stuff by revoking visas of media folks and academics. The land of stuff has been very busy trying to open mines in Africa in recent years which is the only other place on the planet with high grade iron ore besides us. Good luck with that – expensive is the word that you heard and it has groove and feeling. 🙂

    It would seem like an unwise move to have the old building manager in to assess the err, changes, that have taken place since the departure. What is the word on the street? It is a bit like our geopolitics playing out in miniature. Unfortunately it might take a few direct hits for the mask thing to take off. That’s life, unfortunately.

    Mate I hear you about that, nobody wants the boring dad jokes repeated. I tend to keep the suitcase full of witticisms well shut until just like the suitcase in Repo Man (an excellent cult film) or the much latter one in Pulp Fiction (an OK film) needs to have its contents displayed. It is hard to know where that middle ground is, but erring on the less over-used side of things tends to more or less work. Never met anyone from Cleveland, but who knows what the future holds. 😉 And anyway, common sense dictates that white belts and matching white shoes are right out. Some people need to have their mums give them the tick of approval before they head out onto the dark streets on an adventure which involves most likely seeking the company of ladies of the evening.

    The Beatles are a rich source of creative fodder. 🙂 Bribery I feel I must add, is always welcome here. Yes, opinions are for sale – if the price is right!!! Hehe! Who’d be stupid enough to pay for it is the real question, and would I want to be associated with them? So many unanswered questions…

    You’re not wrong about that, and the greenhouse is a super weird project as it has directed us as to how it should unfold. Is this a good thing? The design is not even completely understood and here we are building the thing. If you can tell me what this all means I’d be grateful for the assistance – but it is an odd project because it does not bend to our will, it is definitely the other way around. There’s the issue about the door… Oh well, mustn’t grumble and just listen.

    I’m sure the pie would be mighty fine with the pumpkin spice toffees you have to hand. How are things going on a pumpkin dessert stuff things this season? Has the pumpkin ice cream returned? Sorry for the poor English, I blame the greenhouse – it’s possessed you know.

    The news from Cliff Mass is not altogether pleasant reading – on several fronts. He’s a stoic guy the good professor and I respect that.

    Far freakin out! 121’F. Oh my…

    Cheers (if that is appropriate)


  19. Hi Inge, Al and Margaret,

    Many thanks for the lovely comments which I have appreciated reading.

    However, my brain is fried this evening. Seriously, the thing is toasted and on a whim I took a look under the bonnet and the results are in and they’re not good. 🙂 Someone stole the battery. Who’d do that? And how am I meant to get the brain started again with no battery? So many questions…

    Anyway, please forgive me and I promise to reply tomorrow.

    To those in the fire affected areas in the PNW and West Coast, stay safe and I’m thinking of you – and fully know how you feel.



  20. Hi, Chris!

    Like Al, I love your title.

    I hope Ruby’s guts have settled from last week.

    I love the small talk at the supermarket. I can usually ferret out something interesting from the person. The problem now is that talk must be shouted because of the masks so it had better be something that everyone is allowed to hear. I think a lot of people are desperate for human contact and a chat cheers them up; not all, I’ll grant you, as I have learned here! I have to admit that if a checker asked me: “Have you got much on for the rest of the day?” I would be tempted to say: “No, as soon as I get home I am going to take off all my clothes.”

    I look for the crinkly eyes that means someone is smiling under their mask and try to smile in public myself, as much as I can.

    What will you do with the old steel potato beds? That is a beautiful new bed.

    Lovely potatoes. Thanks for the Waldo puzzle. I see him; he sticks out like a sore carrot.

    It is interesting to imagine how someday those who come after you, way after you, will view the gabion terraces. As we view Macchu Picchu?

    In one of Ollie’s photos I can easily see the bull dog in him.

    I love the daisies.


  21. Hello again
    Son has just brought me 2 large parasol mushrooms, each 9 cms across. He had to trespass to pick them and said that there are more coming along.
    I forgot to mention the blue daisies which I thought were gorgeous; we don’t have them here. Are they wild or cultivated?
    To both you and Lew, banoffee pie is superb though I have never made it myself.


  22. Yo, Chris – Here’s an article about our property markets. But, what caught my eye was the picture of the house, nestled in the trees. Looks like a brush fire, waiting to happen. Wonder what the insurance (if they can get any), runs on that?


    The last two bump ups in your insurance are breathtaking. Eye watering? Are they trying to price themselves out of the business?

    “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Don’t know where that saying comes from. Don’t even know if it’s true. But, maybe, change just looks different. Kind of like software. Looks different, with more bells and whistles, but it’s still the same, only it works less well. 🙂 .

    I’m glad you liked “Hollow Kingdom.” Don’t know why I picked it up in the first place. Probably because I was reading a lot about ravens and crows, at that time. And, it was set local (check.) And, it had zombies (check). And, it was apocalyptic. (Check.) I suppose it was like “The Goldfinch.” Just rang a lot of my bells.

    As long as the mask was pink, H would probably go for it. But, she’d have to settle for black. I have to keep cultivating her bad-ass persona. She’s usually leery, at first, but, generally, comes around. We had an all time high new virus count, in the county, yesterday. 22.

    Oh, the old building manager’s stop by, was pretty spur of the moment. She had been here, since the place opened. And, is quit fond of some of the Ladies. Her philosophy was, “Let’s have fun.” And, she participated in whatever was going on, around here. The sewing group, was one example. Not like the current lot, who are the most incurious bunch I’ve run across. They’re really not interested, at all, in who we are. They even told the last two night managers not to … words fail me. Get to close? to the tenants.

    I don’t know which definition of “The Full Cleveland”, you saw, but one suggested that it was needed to set off a powder blue leisure suit. My gosh. I had one, a slight shade darker, than powder blue, when I was in high school. For those special occasions. But I didn’t have the white shoes and belt. But can’t remember what colors I wore. I just know it wasn’t white. Usually, I associate The Full Cleveland, with old duffers who sport golfing garb.

    Best pay attention to your greenhouse, if you want good plants. 🙂 . I got to wondering if there was a Roman god or goddess, for greenhouses. Did the Romans even have green houses? They did have a lot of glass. But I can’t remember ever reading about one. Now, I’m sure there’s a saint for greenhouses. As there seems to be a saint, for everything. Though some of them seem to do double, or even triple, duty. Ah, Chris. Anyone else would have just gone out and bought the Sunset Guide to Greenhouses. Or, the Dummy’s Guide or the Complete Idiot’s Guide. And followed the instructions. But what’s the fun in that? 🙂 .

    Well, our fires are roaring on. Our state governor said this morning, that there’s more acreage on fire, than the last 12 fire seasons. One fire leaped the Columbia River, from Oregon to Washington. A town or two has burned, over DJ’s way.

    We’ve got all that forested park land, behind the Institution. I had a talk with Eleanor, last night. The “if we have to evacuate” talk. I told her there would be no dithering or fiddle faddling about. And, to think about it, now. She says all she really needs is the dog, her walker, pills and her purse. That’s doable. But, we shall see. Or, I hope, we won’t see.

    Npr.org has a lot of good articles on the west coast fires. Check them out if your curious. Lew

  23. G’day Chris,

    Was watching an interesting interview with a surgeon about the issue of mask wearing. Masks do reduce oxygen intake and this is apparently a known thing in the medical community and part of learning to be a surgeon and do surgery is to deal with that issue. The surgeon was saying that he usually gets shaky hands after about thirty minutes. Not exactly what I wanted to hear. I think I’ll try and avoid this surgery business!

    Anyway, that might explain your mask symptoms.


  24. Hi, Chris

    Thank you for the info on “Hollow Kingdom”. A copy is… probably not winging its way to me as I type. More likely, travelling by oxen cart, judging by the speed of Australia Post at the moment. As you would say, mustn’t grumble.?

    Canberra’s rain hasn’t been anywhere as much as yours, (550mm) but the place is nicely green, and I’m seeing plants/weeds that I have never seen before. Hooray for plant identification apps! I think I’ve found a new hobby. And it’s easier on the eyes than crochet. I am just starting to plant the first veggies, but my fruit trees have flowered, and I must look out my nets, since the local birds/insects/fruit bats would leave us very little. I am happy to share my plums, but they ain’t getting my peaches!

    I hope the battery for your brain is found safe and well. Have you looked behind the sofa?


  25. Hi Inge,

    Glad to hear that both of your daughters are in other states. Things are complicated in this state right now and the curfew in Melbourne is just plain bonkers. If it looks like a police state and smells like a police state, well… I doubt that people even in the next two states over have a good grasp of just how odd things are here right now. And there are no cases in my area. None. And other than a single occasion in between the two lock downs, I haven’t seen my mates (excluding screen catch ups) for maybe at least since things started going really weird back in February. My nature is to be an introvert, but even this craziness is pushing at my boundaries. Oh well. Hope your daughters are well and doing OK.

    Insect screens are really very necessary here too. And even then at night time the smallest insects get through the mesh and buzz around the lights. I keep a few daddy long legs spiders in the house who spend their time catching and eating the insects.

    Hehe! Small talk is a skill just like other skills and it can be learned, but if it’s not on your list of things to do, well it hardly matters does it? I don’t reckon it does.

    Lucky you with the mushrooms. 🙂 I’m envious that you are able to easily identify edible mushrooms. We grow a huge variety of mushrooms on the farm and in the surrounding forest, and all of them I treat as if they were deadly.

    I believe that the blue daises (and they are beautiful and very hardy) might be African daisies, of which there are a huge variety. I’ll keep an eye out for you the next time I’m at a plant nursery for the proper identification and hopefully the Latin name.

    Banoffee pie! Yummo! I’m on the hunt for this mythical food beast now.



  26. Greetings to you Al, master of Dirtland. 🙂

    The acrid stench of burning and burnt unidentified organic matter due to wildfires is pretty hard on the senses and lungs. All that dirt laden wash water getting onto the garden might add a whole bunch of minerals to the soil and gardens, so this is possibly a good thing as long as you’re not directly impacted by the fires.

    Some drought years we get epic dust storms which pull red top soils from the vast arid lands in the centre of the continent. Those are hard years and there was a large dust storm in the far northern part of this state only a few weeks back.

    Thanks for the advice about masks, and your final words of wisdom kind of nailed it for the subject. Masks are in rather short supply down here for obvious reasons and we’re considering making a linen bandanna for the hot summer months which should make breathing easier. Well that’s the plan anyway.

    🙂 Worked on the greenhouse project today. Got in the roof trusses, windows and more of the framing. It’s looking good, but I can’t put the roof sheets on as Saturday looks set for some epic rainfall. Hopefully we’ll get the door in tomorrow. But getting the seedlings started in a proper greenhouse in a few weeks time, will be as you say, a massive improvement.

    A truly fine feat of vehicle engineering and it would have been a sheer pleasure to have been at the helm of one of those beasts. Yes, such beasts need to be handed on and enjoyed by others when the time comes for that. I hear ya, no regrets and only good memories. 🙂



  27. Hi Margaret,

    🙂 The greenhouse project was continued today. The roof timbers were raised and fixed into place. The three windows were also attached to the frame, and we began adding timber so that the steel cladding can be added, maybe tomorrow. Unfortunately an epic amount of rain looks set to fall on Saturday so I can’t really put the polycarbonate roof sheets up as they would concentrate the rain and cause a whole lot of erosion damage to the terrace, so maybe next week…

    Yes, the on again and then off again rules sound a bit ridiculous to me too. Honestly, it all comes back to Fight Club and the dreaded onion soup scene, and who knows the staff could accidentally sneeze on your food and you’d never know. How could you? Best not to annoy such people seems like a wise policy. 🙂 Masks are required down here at all times when in public at risk of fines. That means you can only really take them off when you are in either your house or your car.

    Hey, it ain’t just you, I’m having a bit of trouble recognising people with their masks on as well.

    How did the recycling drive go? Hopefully not too much polystyrene this time? Do you take e-waste?

    The two Kelpie girls are growing up really fast. It’s nice to have had both of them from little beans to the young ladies that they now are. Letting them out one at a time seems to have improved their behaviour quite dramatically. And um, I do hope that there are no unexpected litters of puppies in the future from the wayward young ladies. Oh well, if it happens I guess it will just be another of those life’s little learning episodes. 🙂 And speaking of such things, we are now seriously beginning to discuss the breeding of chickens and how that will work from a pragmatic perspective. Not sure right now, but it is possibly the direction we need to go in and the option is on the table for discussion. Roosters… Oh how the world has changed in only a short period of time.

    Yummo! Home canned passata is a thing of beauty when the dark winter storms are rolling in and the snow flurries are falling, and when the can is opened a little ray of sunshine leaps out.

    Not to whine, but visitors have been right out now for about maybe six or seven months. Despite being an introvert, I’m a bit over it. All policies can be taken too far.

    Far out. Not good. My mate Simon who writes the essays on the health subject which dare not be named will totally love that story.

    Good to hear about the pandemic puppy training. Sometimes people need to see just what happens if they ignore such niceties. The Kelpie sheep dog girls are turning out to be quite sweet dogs, although if mischief is on the go, Ruby of the pink collar will be involved.



  28. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the lovely words and between you and I, the title was shamelessly ripped off Billy Idol. The performer is an extraordinarily talented musician with a good voice, and the title fitted so beautifully. Although, he might have been singing about something else, but I couldn’t quite get my head around the lyrics, but respect for the dose of French language he chucked into the song.

    Pam, I tell you this: If any dog is going to do an unusual poop, well Ruby is involved somewhere. It is an interesting story for those who understand that the gut has sometimes been described as the second brain. Anyway, when little Ruby who was no larger than an oversized bean who turned up just before the craziness really kicked in hard, her guts were unsettled. Over the past 10 months, her guts have been getting more settled. Someone told me a few years back that it takes a lot of effort to train the digestive tract. No doubt wombat poop has something to do with that story. But why roll in the stuff? That’s what I want to know… Dogs… 🙂

    It is a funny thing living in a rural area in that you get your social contact in all manner of odd ways. The thing is you have the social advantage in the murky social jungle that is the local supermarket. This natural social advantage comes from you being of the fairer gender and I have to act like the expected gruff bloke in such places. On the other hand I get to indulge in such talk at the more blokey local businesses such as say the farm machine repair business. And to think that people say that guys don’t gossip, yeah right. 🙂

    Crinkly eyes is a good guide yeah, and I can see those too, but without the full face I’m at a bit of a loss, but you know time will resolve that. I’ve noticed as an interesting side story that the younger ladies have begun doing odd things to their eyebrows so that they stand out from the crowd.

    The old potato beds have been partly consumed by the steel worm (rust) and so I’ll take them to the local steel recycle collection point. The steel was a gift from a neighbour many years ago, but the steel was already old and damaged. Nothing lasts forever and entropy eats all.

    Hehe! Nice spotting with the Waldo quest. A fine carrot too.

    I’ve been to Machu Picchu, and yes what you are suggesting is not lost on me either. An eerie place and it felt to me as if the folks wanted no change, but change was coming all the same.

    The photo on the Wikipedia page for Bull Arab’s could have been Ollie. Having now experienced Ollie for a few years I wouldn’t hesitate getting another of the breed, however I spent a lot of time early on socialising him. He’s a real gentleman of a dog, and I too see that breed in him.



  29. Hi Simon,

    Far out, the masks for many continuous hours are a hard school. And um yeah, how about the craziness down here? Did you see today the erstwhile powers that be seemed to have turned on each other about the curfew and just exactly who’s bright idea it was. It seems like a rubbish idea to me, and has cut me off from the most excellent Kebabs that the editor and I used to enjoy. Makes you hope that you’re not ever inadvertently caught up in their web of craziness. If they can’t manage this, then justice is possibly a far cry.

    Thanks for the insight, and it sounds right to me although I never would have considered that possibility. Mate, I’ve heard some strange stories of late about masks. What do you do?

    Hey, it is never a good idea to go under the knife for minor purposes. It might be a good example of with benefits also come costs.



  30. Hi Hazel,

    You’re in for a potty mouthed (but in a really lovely and unexpected way) crow and dog buddy treat of a story.

    I noticed a newspaper report suggesting that the cheeky scamps at the top of the pile were congratulating themselves in a most financial sense whilst asking lesser employees to volunteer the use of their own vehicles. It’s not a good look.

    Hehe! Yeah such a software tool would be a good idea. And yes, I’ve had a few of those plants too. What are they becomes the question? And after years of horrendous droughts and fires, it’s not a bad problem to have. 🙂 One of those plants recently went deciduous when it briefly snowed the other week, but the plant seems to have survived and I’ll chuck it onto a blog over the next week or two when there is better leaf formation.

    Oh Hazel, this talk of netting fruit trees is problematic. One of my mates was getting into my ear about this subject a week or two back, and he might be right too. And yes, when the crimson rosellas and their cohorts and friend’s, friend’s, friend’s (etc.) decide to take not just a few fruit, but they take all the fruit – well it’s a problem.

    Sun ripened peaches are a true gift of nature.

    Thanks and I took a peek behind the couch, and all I found were dust bunnies. How did they get there? Must have oozed up from underneath the floor. Maybe… 🙂



  31. Hi Lewis,

    Err, steep slope + pine trees + what looks like a timber house with large expanses of glazing. Given all that, I can’t argue with your supposition / hypothesis as to the general fate. The literature from what I read back when I was volunteering suggests to me that they might have around 4 minutes, but it’s only a guess and I can’t really see what active measures they may have in place. Like, just outside the door here there are elevated sprinklers ready to go 24/7 hooked up to an independent water supply and an independently powered and protected water pump. Not many people go to such lengths but surprisingly sprinklers are fairly cheap to install and maintain. And steel heat shields aren’t hard to make.

    And hey, the article just plays into my general observation that country bumpkin is the new black. 🙂 The tide is turning in favour of rural areas, although what that means in practice might take a long while to become clearer.

    Mate, we continued working on the greenhouse project today. The sun was quite warm at 64’F which felt really nice, and we worked for most of the day. Got the roof trusses up and the three windows installed, plus began battening out the frame so that cladding can be attached. The project is quite a big job and the editor wants to paint the frame with a nice quality white house paint. I could get the polycarbonate roof sheeting on, but it looks like on Saturday the heavens will seriously open and rain, and I doubt I can get the guttering and drainage in place before then, so best not install the roof sheeting and thus avoid the potential erosion problems.

    The price has been increasing on a compounding rate like that for about four years now. I ran some rough numbers and it won’t take too long before I won’t be able to afford the insurance policy at all, or it eats my entire income. Either avenue is unsustainable, and if it gets to that, mate I’ll be really very busy modifying the surrounding forest so as to reduce the fire risk. What other response could be expected? And I dunno, but given that it is one of those out of sight expenses, I do imagine that in these economically troubled times people will be cutting some corners and unseen costs. And my policy is not particularly expensive relative to city folks, people forget that flood and fire risks are not just things that occur in rural areas.

    Very cool. Yeah I really like your analogy to change and software. Makes sense. I don’t upgrade software unnecessarily and given your old beast of a computer I’m guessing you feel much the same way?

    My brain has been a bit fried this week, so having the most enjoyable book Hollow Kingdom, ready to hand was a little pleasure. Actually by the time this evening rolled around we’d worked so hard today that I fell asleep in the hot bath and woke up feeling much refreshed.

    Last evening I was done though, and had a quiet night. The editor wanted to watch a film, and we watched the 1999 cult classic film “Office Space’ which has links to the same people who brought you ‘Idiocracy’. Anyway, it is a good film about the mindlessness of such places and there is always the TPS report. Yes, you were warned!

    As a funny side story, the editor was given free tickets to the film from her employer way back in the day and we went and saw it. There were maybe two other people in the entire cinema. I enjoyed the film. Anyway, after the film we were sitting around asking hard questions such as: “Had the editor’s bosses actually seen this film?” and more importantly: “What sort of message was the editor’s manager trying to send her?” So many questions, so many mysteries to carry around. I reckon it is one of those films which hits a nerve in people.

    Oh yes, a pink mask on H would stand out way too much. Hmm. You know I’m with you and she might need a black balaclava (or is that a dogaclava?) if she wants to pull off the heist (pah, the dictionary did not even recognise the word) and make a return to polite society albeit in a more mad cashed up situation.

    I note that the powers that be look as though they are no longer friends and words are getting mooted about just why we are under a curfew. Nobody seems to want to take responsibility and that is not a good look or an encouraging sign.

    Really? Leading by example is a rare thing these days, and perhaps the new lot fear you lot? It sounds like crazy stuff to me, but you know two different people can run the same business very differently.

    The powder blue leisure suit is so 70’s that it hurts – and might have physically hurt to wear, I mean it does look a bit tight around certain body parts… Hehe! Seriously? Mate you would have rocked.

    Sage advice which we are taking heed of. The greenhouse project is the only building project which we’ve ever undertaken that has not been planned in advance so that the outcome was known at the commencement of construction. It’s all a bit loose – unlike the leisure suit 😉 – and it is more or less evolving. One of the windows was placed on its side today rather than sitting upright. And yes where is the fun in getting too bogged down in plans in books that originated in other countries. Did you uncover any Saints for greenhouses, and did the Romans ever construct such things (or conservatories)?

    Hope DJ is OK. And Eleanor’s plan of stuff to take seems appropriate. Just remember the ID, as without it things can get sticky really quickly. And also H. Yes, definitely H. When people are in a panic with no plan for such circumstances, they do very strange things.

    Thanks for mentioning the articles. We’re getting reports of your fires in our media.



  32. @ Simon
    I don’t comment on Mr Greer’s blog so have snuck in here to comment on your reference to English behaviour in the swearing stakes. You are correct as to what might be said but completely wrong as to the thoughts going on behind. Not anger but total disdain. The most sign might be a lifted eyebrow.


  33. @ Marg,
    Thanks. All thoughts appreciated!


    A quick peek in…Yes, that one fire in California WAS started by a smoky igniter thingy at a gender reveal party in 4 foot tall dry grass. The people admitted to it at the time. They will quite likely be charged with crimes and may be on the hook for firefighting costs.

    Malden, just south of here – 80% of structures destroyed. Pine City near Malden – 60% of structures destroyed. In a separate fire a bit further south, a few buildings in Colfax I think were destroyed.

    There were 2 fires within 25km of our house. The larger burned 80 acres, the other (and nearer) somewhat less. There’s also a 130,000+ acre fire west of Davenport, so about 80km west of here that crossed the major highway. Power out for a large rural area, but that highway is open.

    Then there’s the BIG fire that started on the Rez near Omak, now listed as 2 fires: Cold Springs on the Rez and Pearl Hill from where the Cold Springs fire jumped the Columbia River. The two stretch about 90km in length from north to south and have accounted for over 340,000 acres and many structures. A shuttered saw mill near Omak had an epic burnout that news reports say caused a miniature “fire tornado”. One cousin’s home and livestock saved, an uncle lost his cattle but uncle is fine, fire still growing around the NE end at Omak Lake and is about 15 km from Princess’s brothers; the power is out for that entire sector (including 15km uphill to family) and phone service on the entire western 2/3 of the Rez is spotty, even for areas outside the immediate fire area. Forecast is for little to no wind, but if a strong SW wind picks up…And temperatures over the entire region are back to 35C and higher.

    We are doing okay, but the smoke is expected to thicken starting Friday as the wind direction normalizes from the current NE to the prevailing SW. This is on top of other things that popped up. Work has gotten intense at times due to the Malden/Pine City fire. Electric utilities need heavy rigs and large cranes to get to that area, and the bridges over the creeks in that county (Whitman) cannot support the cranes. So I’ve had to figure out how to route them through southern Spokane County to get where they’re needed while avoiding Spokane County’s rickety bridges.

    Anyhow, the Monday firestorm surpassed anything we’ve seen before: over 500,000 acres charred in 24 hours in the entire state from the new fires alone. Compare to these 2 classics which burned out large parts of towns and many of our relatives: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carlton_Complex_Fire

    Will check back in when I can.


  34. Chris,

    Forgot to mention…Thanks for the suggestion to be easy on ourselves during the complexities and to visit local restaurants as needed (for ourselves and them). We brought home take out from a local deli over the weekend and were able to dine at our favorite place (almost nobody there so we deemed it was as “safe” as that word means right now) earlier this week. Helps the locals and we sure didn’t feel like cooking on those occasions.


  35. Yo, Chris – And, today’s ear worm, at least for your American readers is …


    “Smoke Gets in Your Eyes”, by the late, great Nat King Cole. 🙂 .

    I hadn’t heard from my Idaho friends, in a few days, and was getting concerned. Just an internet glitch. But they do have a fire close to them. The Woodhead fire. There was a mention in the article that two dozers are on the job, cutting fire lines. One of those is driven by the fiance of their daughter. The fire has burned 27,000 acres, so far. No evacuation order for them, yet, but some areas nearby have been evacuated.

    Well, here’s an interesting maths problem. Due to your early childhood trauma, you might want to toss it to the Editor. 🙂 . If you took the amount of money you’ve paid in insurance, since building the house, put it in a compound interest savings account, would the present amount equal (or exceed) the cost of replacing the house?

    For over the last year, I’ve gotten dire pop-ups and banners, warning me of the eminent demise of this or that, on my computer. Due to old software. So far, other than a few minor graphics glitches, everything keeps perking along. Knock on wood. But, I occasionally get flashes of feelings of wholesale computer failure. But in the meantime …

    I did watch “Office Space”, years ago. I remember it was funny. Were the minions contemplating doing in their boss? I discovered last night that the 50 library hold list limit, is now in place. Good thing. I found about 5 series or films that shoved me over the previous 25 item, limit. So, I’m number one or two, for a number of things that will trickle in over the coming months. The sequel to the Korean zombie film, “Westworld” season three, “Save Yourselves!” (alien invasion), etc. etc..

    Sounds like your banging along, on the greenhouse. Yes, best put off the roof work, until drainage is in place, what with the forecast of torrential rain. So. The Romans DID have what is referred to as “proto greenhouses.” The emperor Tiberius was quit fond of cucumbers. So, he had wheeled beds, that could be moved into the sun in the day, and undercover at night. What they were glazed with is open to interpretation. Thin translucent stone, glass, or oiled cloth.

    The Romans had many gods and goddesses that covered all aspects of farming and gardening. But, no mention of greenhouses. Same with the Catholic saints. Couldn’t find anything specific to greenhouses. But St. Fiacre (Irish, 600s) is the patron of gardening. You might enjoy reading the Wikipedia entry for him. VERY quirky.

    Yes, gender reveal parties are a real thing. Not the first time something has been set on fire, or, people been injured by the pyrotechnics. Darwin at work. 🙂 .

    Big news on the local virus front. Well, I mentioned we had a big bump up, in number of cases. Saturday through Tuesday, 49. Well, it turns out, 23 of those cases are at the in patient drug and alcohol treatment center, that’s right across the street from The Institution! And the prevailing winds are from that direction! 🙂 . Lew

  36. @ Chris

    The authorities have clearly been making it up as they go along. Looks like it’s starting to fall part at the seams now and will, in my opinion, continue to do so the longer all this goes on for. Fun times ahead!

    @ Inge

    Duly noted. I will keep a close eye on English eyebrows from now on.

  37. @Djspo
    Things sound absolutely horrendous in your area. My thoughts are with you, may you and yours remain okay.


  38. Hi DJ,

    Mate, I just could not believe that such an inane reason was behind a large fire – and I can’t even begin to imagine what such people were thinking in the first place with the long dry grass. But then, is it not proof that as a society we are only ever as good as the weakest link? It would be funny if circumstances were otherwise. But they’re not, and it isn’t funny.

    Down here during the sort of weather where things went crazy in your part of the world the other day, we have well advertised declared days of total fire ban – and the list of things you can’t do is long and exhaustive. And use of such explosive devises on such a day would most probably lead to criminal charges if down here.

    The thing is some of the prohibited activities include the use of some agricultural machinery as it is not unknown to have the steel blades of slashers on the back of tractors (or even mowers) hitting a rock in a paddock and then igniting the dry grass. And people are surprised at how easily things can go quickly haywire.

    I’m really so sorry to hear of the losses to life and property due to the fires.

    And 25km is very close indeed. It doesn’t take much for strong hot and dry winds to push burning embers a long, long way ahead of the fire front. I’ve had some close calls over the past decade, so I hear you, and hope you and your extended family, and all the rest of the people in your corner of the planet stay safe and that conditions ease.

    Fire tornadoes are frightening things. Earlier this year during the bonkers fires, one was filmed on Kangaroo Island where something crazy like 60% of the island was burned, and the island is almost 100km long end to end. Anyway, there is a bit of footage of a fire tornado in action (not something you ever want to confront in the flesh): Fire twister on Kangaroo Island. You may notice that the person filming the twister is putting the vehicle between them and the twister towards the end of the very short video.

    Mate, more than any other factor, it is the wind. Have the folks on the Rez been discussing how the folks historically used to use fire in the landscape? That discussion is gaining ground and respectability down here, but there is still a long way to go.

    Respect for the work that you are doing and you may be interested to learn that a lot of the bridges down here have signs proclaiming their load ratings. Your work is seriously important as few people consider access issues, that is, until access disappears. To take your mind of your troubles, that story played out down here in the island state of Tasmania when a large ship hit a major bridge in 1975. I’ll see if I can find you an article… … Tasman Bridge disaster: 40 years on, Tasmania remembers night of deadly accident.

    Reading about the fires in your part of the world gives me the chills. Stay safe, and after it is all over remember to take some quiet time out to recover from the stress and anxiety of it all.



  39. Hi DJ (cont, but not the double secret cont),

    Glad to be of service! 🙂

    Almost forgot to mention that the traditional method in such climates was to have an outdoor kitchen. Dunno about you, but gives us the daily bread, down here involves an electric oven undercover and also outside the house. Why heat up the house when the temperature in the shade is the wrong side of 40’C+?

    The businesses would have appreciated your custom.



  40. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for the continuing education. Do you know I’d never previously before heard of Nat King Cole. The name was well deserved, and what astounded me was just how easily he was making it all look – and what he sang was not easy at all. A true talent. And his smile was genuine. If you look closely though you’ll notice that his left eye is opened ever so slightly wider than his right and also his smile pulls slightly higher on the left hand side of his face. This is an indicator that he is under inordinate and prolonged stress. However, his smile also says it all: He nailed that performance and he knew it deep down. Thanks for the ear worm. And let’s hope that nobody gets any smoke in their eyes, although the odds are not good that this is the case.

    And err, you may (and in fact did) notice that I’m busy working at the margins of the forest cleaning up. Always cleaning up. Like the never ending story, it is the never ending job because it does in fact never end. People have not quite grokked that this is where things will eventually go. It kind of surprises me that few if any people seem to get that story. Oh well.

    In fascinating geopolitics news, I noticed that your Ruskie friends have worked towards a China / India de-escalation. India and China agree to de-escalate border tensions after Moscow meeting. There are always changes and ever was it thus, and I accept that you guys are busy in election mode. And interestingly in the article on the first photo the tough looking Indian bloke with the serious looking weaponry is standing in front of what looks to me like a little white Suzuki Sierra four wheel drive. Mate, that looks like the exact same one I used to own which had a soft top and got broken into all of the time (so many car radios…), except the Indian army seems to get mag wheels, and I couldn’t spot any surf stickers on the side door panels – their loss, I guess. 😉 With all that weaponry at their disposal I doubt nefarious folks would break into their Suzuki’s – it could be a fatal move.

    The fires are in the news down here. Not good, and glad that your Idaho friends are safe. The images of the Woodhead fire show to me that the wind changes have created a long fire head. Not good. And I was amazed at how arid the land looked. I hope your friends continue to stay safe. What a season you’re having. How is the smoke affecting your part of the state?

    The editor is currently having a screen time call with a mate of hers, and so is unavailable to consider your mathematical problem at this time. This situation is perhaps rudely known as playing the B team. Although in this particular case you might be getting the C team. 😕 Therefore, I’m unable to correctly provide an answer, however I may point out that compound interest on earnings is not quite the same these days relatively speaking as say, compound increased charges on bills, although they might possibly work the same way – in different directions though. But alas the exact numbers are beyond my ken. My gut feeling tells me that it wouldn’t even be close to replacement costs, so do you reckon the premium paid thus represents a potential return on investment? Between you and I, that industry is toast if such price hikes continue, and I did the numbers the other day and they’ll shake me out of the system within the decade.

    It is an impressive achievement to keep the old computer ticking along, and it is worthwhile mentioning that by doing that you are doing far more for the environment than most people. After all, the old timers used to wisely quip: Re-use; Repair; and Recycle. Wise words.

    No, the characters of Office Space boldly admitted that they’d ripped off the plot device in Superman 3 and proceeded to steal a huge amount of money from a bank via software and the same technique. Anyway, the cheeky scamps got away with it (without getting the money) because another unrelated employee was backed into a corner and decided to torch the building and computer systems. A simple strategy from out of left field and Sun Tzu advised never to back an opponent into a corner. It was actually a really oddly funny movie.

    Good to hear Westworld is still going and Yul Brynner would be pretty pumped (using the past tense meaning) at that situation.

    Thanks about the greenhouse, and I took today off any and all work. Lamingtons may have been involved, although none were harmed, although they may have been bitten a bit! Anyway, late this afternoon I just pottered around the garden doing enjoyable stuff. I dug up a globe artichoke and separated it into at least four or maybe five plants and then replanted them out. We did that as a test in early autumn and they seem to have survived (might have Triffid genes). The asparagus spears are just beginning to show through the soil as the crowns break their dormancy, so we weeded the beds and fed the weeds to the chickens. I may also have chucked around a huge lot of soiled chicken bedding straw and also the usual coffee grounds. And a huge 80 pound bag of organic fertiliser pellets was opened and I fed the many roses as well as all of the garden beds. Things are starting to perk up in the garden. Yay! Anyway, it was a quiet and enjoyable day and everything took place at a very relaxed pace. Just what the doctor ordered. 🙂

    I rather like Saint Fiacre and he unfortunately found out the hard way that blessed are the competent for they can become very busy. 🙂 It is an awesome thing to consider that he established his own hermitage. And then sailed to France when he became too popular and then did the same thing all over again. A wise move. And he didn’t shy away from treating some of the social diseases. He does sound very quirky.

    Yeah, Darwin was the word that came to mind to me as well. So true.

    The wind is howling outside right now. And a storm is brewing…

    My advice, try not to hang around outside the centre, but otherwise I’d imagine it would be a big call for a virus to travel that far. Logic tells me that if this was indeed possible – we’d probably all be very dead or very hardy.



  41. Hi Simon,

    Oh yeah, things are starting to unravel. The recent extension and future uncertainty was a deeply unpopular move. Makes you think that a bit of polling had taken place just recently?

    Anyway, for the life of me I can’t understand the motivations behind why the medical folks would perhaps set themselves up as the fall guy. I realise that feeling safe is a deep emotional need in people, but there are other competing needs as well, so who knows?

    Have you thought about writing about that side of the story?



  42. Yo, Chris – LOL. I mentioned to Susanne, this morning, that you didn’t know who Nat King Cole, was. She said she didn’t realize you were so young 🙂 . If you need a bit of music, to evoke a romantic evening, in front of the fire, Nat King Cole always delivers.

    Well, now that you’ve cleaned up the fringe of your forest, come do my apartment. 🙂 . Getting seriously “man-cave-y”, in here. Yup. Puttering in the garden, cleaning up this and that can be considered light duty and restful work.

    Given our present administration, perhaps it’s wise that they’re staying out of foreign affairs. For the present time. There’s been several predictions that China will take our place at various negotiating tables. Given our track record in various foreign adventures, maybe not a bad idea.

    Uncle Larry had a soft top Maverick. But, he kept it in a locked garage, so, no problems. But one place I lived in, in Seattle, a neighbor had a soft top … something. I came home late one night, and noticed two shady types, loitering around the car. They drifted off down an alley. I popped my head out of the air shaft / stairwell, and saw they popped back out of a recessed doorway, and headed back toward the car. I called the police, and they nailed the little suckers. A few months before, I had come home, after a long drive, with a bit of birthday loot in my little VW. Too tired to drag it all inside, I crawled into bed … to discover the next morning that my wing window had been broken, and all contents removed. I hope the two little crims I helped nail were the same ones.

    Yup. Arid land my mates live in. And they keep trying to talk me into moving to that god forsaken desert! 🙂 . And there are snakes! It has been very hazy, here, yesterday and today. Can’t even see the traffic, on the freeway. The moon last night, what I could see of it, was blood red. As a slight fringe benefit, it’s been rather chilly, in the evenings. I didn’t even have to run my air conditioning, yesterday afternoon. Probably be the same, today. I see in the news that they caught an arsonist, far to the north of us. Setting fires along a roadway. What’s that old saying? Lynching’s too good for him? If the punishment fit the crime, we’d bring back the stake.

    Oh, yes. I’m aware savings rates are rubbish. But, I did want you to consider all inputs in your calculations. Hmmm. The insurance industry is getting like some of the banks. They just don’t want to deal with the “little” people, anymore. Just want to deal with the big fish, that they can happily pillage. Until there are no big fish left anymore. And then what?

    Speaking of rip offs, utilizing computer software, I finished up watching the third (and final) season of “The Deuce”, last night. There’s one short scene, where the shifty son, of an equally shifty character, has made it into trading on Wall Street. And, is nailed, cuffed and hauled off to Club Fed, for insider trading (see: Martha Stewart.) The series is NOT family friendly, but, a lot of the “big picture” is all about urban “renewal” and how cities change. The ending is a bit of wandering about the current Times Square. Neat, tidy and safe. But somehow … it just doesn’t have the pizzazz, the life of the gritty old city. I think some of the difference is that people don’t work AND live in the neighborhood, anymore.

    One of the nice things about the series is the bit of theme music over the closing credits.


    Gilchrist, “Assume the Position.” A really nice (I think) piece of what I call, “coherent jazz.” Well, Dick, I’d give it a 10, ’cause it’s got a good beat and you can dance to it. 🙂 .

    Now that we’ve covered the Minoans, your assignment for today is to check out the Etruscans. Historians are always claiming they are so “mysterious.” Well, not so much. Heck, I’ve got one of the Great Courses series, on them, that has 32 lectures. They were a people that predated Rome, and were north of them. Some of the early kings of Rome were Etruscan. The Romans tossed them out, and pretty much destroyed their civilization. But, quit a few of the old Roman senatorial families had Etruscan roots. The emperor Augustus had a best mate, named Maecenas, who came from an old Etruscan family. The emperor Claudius, wrote a multi volume work on the Etruscans. Now, sadly lost. Lew

  43. @ DJ:

    You and Mrs. DJ are in my thoughts because of the fires, and also all the extra work that you are having to put in. I find nothing scarier than a wildfire, though I haven’t been in a tornado, so maybe I shouldn’t judge.

    My parents live in Ft. Collins, Colorado and for weeks they have endured smoke from the wildfires to the west of them. Earlier in the week it snowed in Ft. Collins – this is not normal for early September – and I think that may have helped with the fires.


  44. @ Chris,

    I’m deliberately steering clear of psychological explanations. A lot of people I know have flipped 180 degrees in their worldview and I have no idea why. There’s gotta be something more than a virus at play. Perhaps a Jungian archetype? In any case, I’m feeling less confident than I ever have about saying anything about human psychology right now 🙂


  45. @ Inge and @ Pam

    Thanks! It could be much worse in Spokane. In 2014 and 2015 there were multiple days that the smoke was so thick from fires 150 miles away that visibility was down to about 30 feet. I’ve been watching the news and was amazed that the greater Denver area went from 100F to snow that fast, and so early too. It should help with the fires there.

    I’m really glad that the fire tornado was 150 miles from us, although some cousins sent us video that they took of it.


  46. Chris,

    What’s sad about that gender reveal fire is that I understand that there were fire bans in that area for weeks. I mean, most parts of Washington, Oregon and California have had burn bans for at least 2 months now. Yet several of the fires that started Sunday night and Monday were human caused. There was a 700 acre fire near here ( and near the recent fire from 25km nearness which eventually burned upward of 300 acres) about 20 years ago. It was this time of year, bone dry, over 30C with high winds. Some idiot was igniting a brush pile in his yard with a blow torch. Seriously.

    I, too, know of several large fires in recent years started by the wrong kind of agricultural activity. And our road crews do not grade/scrape gravel roads once it has gotten hot and dry. Metal blade meets rock equals spark and maybe a giant fire. Not a good idea.

    Thanks for the links. Surely you’ve seen video of the infamous Tacoma Narrows Bridge aka the Flying Bridge? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XggxeuFDaDU

    I’ve heard no discussion about the ancestral controlled burns, at least among my in-laws.

    I cook outdoors some, preferring to use a mix of charcoal and hardwood. Not now, as there is a ban even in town on open fires. IF the air quality is ok, I can use the charcoal.

    The Princess is in Omak where the big fire started. Helping family get some stuff together, bringing supplies, etc. Two of her brothers live on the main highway uphill and east 18km from the fire. Power is out over that entire region, and they were told today that it would be at least 5 weeks before it’s restored up there. Either a Tribal agency or the Red Cross provided generators.


  47. Hi Simon,

    Yes, I couldn’t agree more, although I too am wondering about the resilience of peoples world-views. Although I freely admit trying to get under the hood and identifying motivations can display a grubby chunk of business hiding in plain sight. A wise move not to go there, as none of us can ever really know the answer to that story.

    The most recent announcements last weekend were what I’d describe as a watershed moment. The reactions to that news which I’m observing playing out are interesting.

    There is a scene in one of my favourite films: “The Big Short” (and I also loved the book), where the narrator chimes in and says something along the lines of: “do you find all this jargon confusing, well you’re meant to”. The times are a bit like that, and I see after last weekend some people are giving up in despair. Not the time to do so methinks.

    Very funny! I’m not entirely sure that we all see the same thing when we conjure a Jungian archetype into being. 😉 And some historical folks have taken such things way too far with the inevitable consequences.

    Pah! Very little rain here today. A total fizzer. 🙂



  48. Hi DJ,

    Sadly that is the case here too with fires over the summer. Sure we get lightning strikes, and that happened in the most recent summer with one epic fire How the ABC located the tree which started the Gospers Mountain bushfire and the Sydney ‘mega-blaze’, but most fires have their origins in human activity whether it be arson, stupid, careless, or electricity infrastructure. The video on the article is worth your time, as long as it doesn’t stress you out. But yeah, I’d have to suggest that in the case you cited, the facts speak for themselves and I agree with your general assessment of the actions.

    I tend to feel that some people understand what is meant by the words: ‘Total Fire Ban’, whilst others might not understand the many activities that this label encompasses. I’ve seen people slashing paddocks on days when such activities should not be, and are in fact prohibited. What do you do?

    Oh yes, once seen, the footage of the Tacoma bridge collapse cannot easily be forgotten. I particularly enjoyed how the bloke just ambles away from his ailing car…

    Fair enough, whatever works with an outdoor kitchen. Hey, we cleaned up the outdoor kitchen area today, and removed and disassembled the large firewood storage bay next to the house. I’ve long since been concerned that it is a bit of a fire hazard, but really over the past two years we haven’t really used or needed it. The materials will end up being used in the greenhouse which will eventually have tree seedling starts, and don’t you reckon there is a certain sort of equity to that use of the materials?

    5 weeks without power would challenge a lot of people these days. Glad that your lady is helping the family out with supplies. Hope they do OK, and autumn will be here before you know it.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the music advice, and I’ll put it to the test one of these nights. My tastes lean towards popular music and despite being something of an old fella now, I really enjoy the government funded national youth music broadcaster. No advertisements, all music with a bit of youth news, and they are a great incubator of new music for the youth of today. You know, I don’t really like everything they play, but I appreciate the challenge the music presents and some of the recent releases are brilliant despite the awful financial challenges faced by the music industry. Things were tough financially before the health subject which dare not be named, now it is untenable.

    We are both book worms, takes one to know one! Anyway, I spotted this article today which I know you’ll really love: Millions of books, monkeys and an orchestra — the story of EW Cole and his Book Arcade. It is funny to think that I lived in a time of almost two different worlds. The world of my childhood during the 70’s is almost unrelatable to the sort of concerns which get mooted around nowadays. Mate, in those days we were poor as, but in other respects things were much richer on a social front. However, not having a lot of mad cash, meant not having many books, and the local library was a frequent haunt. Now, I did have a few books and that included the ‘Coles Funny Picture Book’ mentioned in the article which I really treasured. Can’t recall much about it now (it’s been a while), but I recall the general feeling of enjoyment at reading those books. And interestingly I’d seen those mirrors of mirth mentioned in the article at Luna Park in you guessed it, St Kilda – which we mentioned the other day.

    Haha! I’d like to help you clean up, but um, you’d be super-unhappy if I brought along a skip to chuck the excess stuff into… Hehe! Imagine the arguments, and you’d hate me for sure. 🙂

    Did a bit of cleaning up today and finally got around to disassembling the firewood bay next to the house and also recovered all of the components for use in the greenhouse project. We hadn’t used the firewood bay for a few years, so it was infrastructure that was a bit wasted and could be put to better uses.

    It rained a bit tonight, but nothing at all like the forecast suggested for heavy rain (which did actually fall, but much closer to the coastline). It was all very gentle and will hopefully sink into the soil and give all the plants we moved yesterday a nice drink of water.

    Anyway, cleaning up the forest is a job that is never done. Imagine that possibility, it’s cool.

    Lewis, you are a born cynic. The guy and his team might do better than you’d imagine. Your previous incumbent was I recall given an international peace prize whilst simultaneously engaged in how many wars and covert actions? Yes, we come in peace – shoot to kill! As ripped off: The Firm – Star Trekkin’. Don’t blame me, I didn’t write or perform that little ditty, but it sure is memorable and the clay animation is really fun.

    Good shot with the petty crims. And the cheeky scamps also managed to break the most expensive window on your entire vehicle. Well done them. Those little triangular windows cost a pretty penny. I tell ya what though, on a hot day when the car was moving those little windows just worked. I feel that the internal air inside the well sealed cars nowadays is a bit stuffy for my preferences. And yeah exactly, replacing stuff that has been ripped off is a total nuisance.

    The temperature extremes in Idaho would not be to my liking either – I mean the parts you’ve pointed to look very much like arid lands to me, and they can get pretty hot, and then crazy cold. I do wonder whether in the far distant future the interior of your country will be as heavily populated as it is today. You’d be amazed at how under populated the guts of this continent is, but it can be a very unforgiving place to live if you don’t know and respect its ways.

    The blood moons and the brilliant sunsets are par for course for such fire conditions, sorry to say. I hope that the weather cools in your part of the world soon.

    Well, arson with intent is not that different from terrorising the population.

    Yeah no worries, we well understand the entire ‘return on investment’ side of the equation and are reasonably pragmatic about the situation. The place will be insured up until the point that we cannot afford insurance, and at a 20% compounding annual increase in cost I have this gut feeling that we may find out exactly where that tipping point is sooner or later.

    Didn’t your Mr Ford suggest that in order for his business to grow, his employees had to be able to have enough spare mad cash (he may not have used that most exacting economic term) in order to purchase the product he manufactured?

    Funky! Thanks for the music. Enjoyed it.

    Oooo! The egos of the Ancient Greek writers stands out to the casual observer of their works. And in the case of the Etruscan’s (which I had not heard of before) my gut feeling suggests that Dionysius of Halicarnassus spoke a general truth about their origins. And perhaps it may be suggested that the Latin’s (which is a use of the word I had not previously encountered) subjugated and then sublimated them. Best not to have angry neighbours on your borders seems to be the lesson there. Interesting and the examples of sarcophagus were intricate works of art.



  50. Hello Chris
    Son’s abode is close enough for me to hear his dogs barking. The other day the most dreadful squealing could be heard. It turned out that I was correct in thinking that it had been a piglet. Son said that it had got its head stuck in some wire fencing and he couldn’t get it out because its ears made it impossible. Son had to get cutters to do the job (for the wire not the ears).


  51. Yo, Chris – Cole’s Books. Boy, those were the days. I’ve got a DVD on hold, that will show up, eventually. It’s called “The Booksellers” and it’s a documentary about 42d Street, in New York. Which way back when was also called “bookseller’s row.” Blocks and blocks of booksellers. All gone, now. The closest thing we have to that is Powell’s bookstore, in Portland. No monkey’s though 🙂 .

    Speaking of books, the library new list came out, last night. There’s a new Steinbeck bio. “Mad at the World.” I put it on my hold list. LOL. On my new, expanded, improved, hold list. Gee, some change that’s actually useful. But, I’m a bit miffed at my library, today. They closed yesterday and today due to “poor air quality.” Whimps! 🙂 . Today is the filthiest day, so far. Visibility is down to about 4 blocks.

    Two fires are converging on two counties, south of Portland. Both counties are under evacuation orders. Over half a million people. But, we may get some rain on Monday night, into Tuesday. And, there’s rain, or at least, chance of showers, all week. The fire by my friends in Idaho has grown larger. But, so far, no evacuation order for them. I’m glad you did away with the firewood bay. Even with the steel doors, I think you mentioned, they looked a little vulnerable, to me. I’m not a liability lawyer, but I think I played one on TV. 🙂 .

    That “Star Trek’in” was a hoot. Let’s see. What did it say in that series of lectures on Rome and the movies? Conventions or themes get set … and then you can parody, them.

    Who needed A/C, when you had wing windows? Worked even better if you cracked open the back windows, just a bit.

    Mr. Ford had his faults, but he did say that about his product and his workers being able to buy the cars. He also said that you could have his first Fords in any color … as long as it was black. 🙂 . Also, when cars were a bit of a rarity, having people driving them around was good advertising.

    The Etruscan tombs were really something. Especially, the wall paintings. Some of the the tombs looked like house interiors, and reliefs of household items and weapons were carved in the walls. The sarcophagus lids were often couples, who were obviously enjoying themselves at a nice banquet. The Etruscans came quit awhile after the Minoans, but I’ve often wondered if there was a connection. Nothing to base that on, as, nothing has turned up, linking the two. But, I think, they have a similar “feel.”

    As far as dog training goes, you might look into “The Monks of New Skete.” It was years ago, but they had a popular TV show (I think) and several books. You can still find them kicking around in used books stores, for not very much. Most monasteries have some side business, to keep themselves going. Something they’re very, very good at. With the New Skete monks, it was dog training.

    DJ, if he’s still around, and you might enjoy this article about a recent find.


    I’ve never quit warmed to the Vikings, but I thought you fellows might find it interesting. Lew

  52. Hi Inge,

    Hope the pig was OK after getting its head stuck in the wire fencing? My mates had to reduce the electric fence line they use because the pigs are as smart as and test every weakness in the fences. The pigs managed to break into their kitchen garden area too once! Clever animals.

    Thought you might like this article on a very rare orchid: To protect this rare underground orchid, researchers are keeping its location top secret. I wouldn’t tell anyone either.



  53. Hi Lewis,

    How cool did the interior of the book store look? And a fernery would have been just the place to go and enjoy a book on an otherwise hot summer’s day. I hadn’t known that either about all of the spikes and a general prohibition in the city from gentle act of sitting down and taking ones ease whilst in that fair and rather well off city due to the gold rush finds back in the day. Now that I think upon it a bit more, there aren’t actually that many places where you can actually sit down in the city. The monkey’s would add to the overall charm of Powell’s and perhaps it might be worth penning a letter to management suggesting the possibility? 😉

    You know, having just finished ‘The Grapes of Wrath’, I can well understand how the title of the bio on Steinbeck came to be. From my perspective, he wanted to produce a narrative that made his readers feel uncomfortable, and I’ll be interested to hear your opinion on the author as he didn’t shy away from a ‘shock yo momma’ approach to story telling.

    Closing the library early is an option, I guess. But yeah, softies. 4 blocks is not great visibility though, and smoke at those concentrations really gets to me after a while. You can taste it in your mouth as an acrid taste if the fires hang around long enough.

    Fingers crossed that the hot winds don’t pick up before the rain settles in. And hopefully the autumn cooler and damper weather extinguishes the fires? That’s how large fires usually get extinguished?

    Hmm, and interesting thought about the parodying. I suppose that commentary on the conventions or themes comes before parodying?

    Hey, I’m old enough to have had a few cars with those little triangular windows and they just worked. Compared to a mechanical ventilation system in cars nowadays, well such new fangled systems may be cooler, but the dry air dries my eyes out and I dunno, it just doesn’t work for me.

    The bloke most certainly did have his faults, but in a round about way he also understood his business. I was talking with a mate of mine recently who has a background as a welder, and we were bemoaning the lack of consistency with parts. I do understand that it is efficient to produce parts for a specific application, however the sheer mass and diversity of spare parts required to keep the good ship civilisation running often ends up that many items are really difficult to repair and end up in the dumpster. I’m sure someone has coined a paradox in relation to this particular story?

    The level of detail in the sarcophagus lids was striking to me too. And the artistry and skill required to produce such detail, which it should be said survived almost two and a bit millennia is really quite bonkers. It also speaks to a level of wealth that may have made the Etruscan’s a target for envious (southern) neighbours.

    The article was behind a pay-wall (something that your earlier computer might not have to deal with – perhaps?) but I could still read the article in the background behind the huge warning sign, and the thought of all those Vikings sitting around playing board games during the dreary English winter months is quite something else. I’m amazed that the price of the auction was so low for such an old and complete item?

    The Vikings from my perspective were like my mates strategy when I used to battle them all in computer games. He’d bombard me with an unceasing horde of plebs, whilst I chose the strategy of constructing defences and marshalling resources before confronting them. Eventually after a whole bunch of pain caused by the unrelenting plebeian attack from my mate – and it really caused an epic amount of damage to my territories as a strategy – I was able to soundly thump my mate on the head because he was basically unprepared to defend his own territory and/or deal with the losses.

    Cheers and seriously better get writing!


  54. Hello again
    The piglet is fine
    The account of the underground orchid is fascinating. I didn’t know that such a plant existed.


  55. Hi Chris
    Day three of our new “wild asperated air pollutant”.May start diminishing on Monday according to Dr Mass. Requires a real respirator with P100 HEPA FILTER for clear breathing.

    The presence of this crap really enhances the lock down effect.
    Keep safe

  56. Yo, Chris – Not very friendly, those spikes. They also help keep off pigeons, and amorous cats. 🙂 . The main branch of the Portland Public Library, has spacious marble benches, at intervals along the sidewalk. Each has the name of an author, carved into the back.


    If you look very carefully, just to the right of the corner, peeking out from behind the lamp post, is the bench where I used to meet my cousin, who had bussed in from the other end of town. It’s the Edgar Allen Poe, bench. 🙂 . We were strange children.

    The weather here, today, is filthy, again. But I’m not sure how much is smoke, and how much is fog. It was quit chilly, last night. Prof. Mass has a good post about how inaccurate most forecasts are, as they don’t sort out the difference between the temperature of air aloft, and air on the ground. The Ladies are always spouting off about this forecast or that. When I inquire as to where they get their information, it’s usually anything but our National Weather Service. Don’t know why that is. Maybe because the NWS isn’t very flashy. Just the facts, a seven day forecast and a three day history. Not much to entertain, there. 🙂 .

    Well, the Woodhead fire burns merrily on (according to my friends) but the internet news cycle has moved on. Can’t see any current information on the situation. As if zombies weren’t enough to deal with, I was reading an article on “zombie fires”, the other day. They happily smolder away under the snow, and spring forth, along with the daffodils.

    One of the “set pieces” in Roman films, always seems to be the colosseum / gladiator / chariot race scenes. “Life of Bryan” turned that inside out, by showing a.) the slave wandering about the arena with a basket, picking up odd bits that were lopped off of people. b.) And Bryan, hawking Roman “goodies” in the stands. The life of Cleopatra had been filmed many times (need we mention all the stage plays, from Shakespeare, forward?). But, always very serious. A set piece. Within a year of the early 60’s extravaganza, the “Carry on…” people, came out with “Carry on Cleo.” I’ve never seen it, but I’d like to.

    Well, it used to be “the right tool for the job.” But finding the right part? Not so much. At least with the internet, you have a bit more of a chance.

    My pop up blocker, doesn’t work, in all cases, but, perhaps, it “sees” some pay walls as pop ups, and squelches them? Pure speculation, on my part. But I’m glad you could get the gist of the article. I’d say the auction estimate for the board game is really low. As they sometimes are, so as not to disappoint, anyone. And some things are so rare, it’s hard to get a fix. No previous auction records to go on.

    Speaking of auctions, I won both the lots in the local on-line auction, yesterday. Finally figured out how the whole thing works. It’s rather nerve wracking. Say I’ve got the high bid, so far. The seconds are counting down. If someone bids higher, the count down starts again, at 3 minutes. So I can best their bid, if I want to .. and if I do, the clock starts ticking at three minutes, again. To give them a chance to counter. I had rather modest bids, when the auction opened. And, no one bid against me, by the time the lots closed. So, I got 2 lots, 5 prints or lithographs for about $50. Group of skeletons flying a kite, and skeleton Death on a pale horse. Etc.. The two lots are different artists. But both well known, at least in the art world.

    Re: Computer games and strategy. Where were you when King Arthur needed you? 🙂 .

    Here’s an interesting short article about lumber prices …


    I sent it to my friends, in Idaho. They were blaming the high prices on big contractors snapping up the lumber. Not so much. Mostly DIYers, locked up at home and at loose ends.

    Looks like there’s cherry tomatoes to pick, again. If no one snaps them up by this afternoon, I’ll probably have another couple of trays for the dehydrator. Lew

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