Take away cake

A nice looking dark cake was sitting precariously on top of a collection of boxed goods as they were juggled by the pedestrian walking up the road. My guess was that it may have been a chocolate cake, or maybe even a darker version of a banana cake. But whatever the case, the icing was thickly layered on, and most certainly would have contained a delightful amount of butter. Food, I have noticed does taste better when cooked with butter.

The cake along with the many boxes was being held by a young bloke. He had previously walked past me and towards the business where he collected the boxes. He returned past again with not only the boxes, but the mysterious cake, so I made note of him. His shoulders were ever so slightly slumped forward, and without more information I could not work out whether this was a result of too many hours spent huddled over a screen, or whether he just felt really defeated. Who knows? There seems to be a lot of both of those things going on these days.

Then there was the black face mask which from a distance I mistook for the sort of facial hair as sported by Captain Haddock in the French cartoon Tintin. As a kid I loved that cartoon, and Tintin was of course drawn as a scrawny looking ginger with what looked like a Mohawk hair do. Yeah, I could relate to that.

Captain Haddock in the cartoon series didn’t look to me like a young bloke though, and he most certainly loved a drink. But, perhaps he was never confronted by government edicts which possibly and somewhat unexpectedly ensured that his life didn’t turn out the way he’d planned? I wonder what he would have made of those edicts? The young bloke sure looked defeated.

My own perspective on the edicts is that whatever was not sustainable probably won’t be sustained. On the other hand it would have been nice to curb the larger excesses of society in the first place – but honestly who would seriously go along with such a program? And so here we are today. From an ecological perspective, as a species and a civilisation we are just now getting to discover where the new equilibrium may be, and it certainly wasn’t where it only recently was.

I feel though that I must add that if my spirits were low, a nice dark cake would perk them up no end! Equanimity is how I’m feeling about things. However, I do love a good chunk of cake. Friends who know me well, would know by now how much I value cake, and one of my favourites is tiramisu. The cake is of Italian origin and makes use of stale biscuits by dunking them in marsala wine and layering on a good dose of mascarpone cheese as well as some other yummy ingredients possibly including espresso extraction. How could you go wrong? It’s probably not good for your health, but when done well, far out the Italian cake tastes good. But yeah, a number of friends are by now probably sick of hearing me decry the lack of tiramisu in my life.

The desire to avoid change is perhaps what I’m actually decrying when I amusingly (to me anyway) repetitively bang on about a lack of tiramisu. And any movement in an ecological equilibrium probably involves change, and possibly loss – otherwise there would be no change.

The funny thing is that before all the current edicts and restrictions, we in a First World country had things pretty darn good. The goodness wasn’t shared quite so equally among the eight billion other humans (or all the rest of the life for that matter) on the planet. And that wasn’t lost on me. And now when the goodies, like tiramisu just for one example, are unavailable, well loss is the name of the game.

When I was a kid I had a formative memory of a Twilight Zone episode. The editor likewise had the same formative memory, possibly because she also watched the same show. In the episode, a stranger left a box with a young couple. The box had single button upon it, and the only instruction provided was that should the button be pushed the young couple would receive $10,000, however the consequences were that someone elsewhere unknown to them would die. I guess that was a lot of money back in those days, but the young couple clearly hadn’t seen my recent house insurance bill which has increased 20% in price over the previous year. Inflation is real.

Anyway, as you’d imagine the young couple resisted the temptation to push the button. But then life got in the way, and there were emergencies and exigencies. With heavy hearts the young couple pushed the button – and received the mad cash. How easy was that solution to their problems? Except that the mysterious bloke who delivered the box in the first place, retrieved the box and also mentioned that he’d make sure to deliver the box with the same instructions to someone else who was unknown to them. Chilling stuff and it’s a good reminder to proponents of Modern Monetary Theory that mad cash produced from thin air with little in the way of work to show for it, is probably a bad thing.

But overall the larger message in the episode was that the Golden Rule of: ‘do unto others’, might just have real world implications. Who knows? What I do know is that as a society we have been going through a readjustment phase of late where lots of people are learning to live with far less stuff and experiences than they were previously used to. Have we yet reached a new ecological equilibrium of stability, it’s hard to say. I do however know however, that it has been a long while since I’ve enjoyed a really good tiramisu.

The roof timbers were installed as were the windows. Ollie is suitably impressed

The greenhouse project has continued apace. The timber frame which supports the roof was constructed and then secured onto the greenhouse. We then installed the three windows. The windows were seconds and second hand, and we had thoughtfully managed to acquire them before Melbourne was locked down tighter than a wombats den on a damp winters evening. Due to the various restrictions, I’m unsure whether we could now purchase or obtain such windows now. Obtaining the door for the greenhouse earlier in the week was a total drama, but we eventually got there.

The cladding around the base of the greenhouse was installed as were the two timber posts which will support the door

Now that we’d managed to obtain a timber and glass door for the greenhouse, we were able to cement in the two timber posts which will support the door. It is worth noting that doors are often constructed in different sizes, and so the timber posts used in the greenhouse could not be cemented in until we knew the exact dimensions.

Also, we began installing the steel corrugated cladding which goes all the way around the greenhouse. This lower layer of cladding runs in a horizontal direction, and the plan is to install the next and upper layer of cladding in a vertical direction, and we reckon the aesthetic effect will be very pleasing on the eye.

But whatever the case there is still a lot more to do before the greenhouse project is completed and the seedlings can be raised inside the purpose built shed. We needed more materials for the project and decided to recover some by dismantling the firewood bay which sits conveniently next to the house.

The large firewood bay which sits next to the house contained a lot of materials which we could easily recover and use in the greenhouse project

Having so much dry and seasoned firewood sitting next to the house was possibly a fire risk, so it was no hardship to dismantle the storage bay. Anyway, the thing took up a huge amount of undercover outdoor space, and candidly we hadn’t really needed it for the past two or maybe more years.

The table with the white stone top will soon be placed in the greenhouse for use as a potting table

Observant readers will note that in the above photo there is a stainless steel table with an electric oven which is used for baking on hot summer days. The table itself is also used for food preserving purposes when the summer conditions are such that you don’t want to heat up the kitchen unnecessarily.

Some of the garden beds were attended to in preparation for the coming growing season. The asparagus beds were weeded, fed and mulched. And the plants immediately responded to the care and attention they received.

The three asparagus raised beds were weeded, mulched and fed
The asparagus plants responded well to the recent care and attention they received

As an experiment we decided to divide up one of the globe artichoke plants. One large plant produced six new plants, and I do hope that this technique works as they are very tasty and prolific vegetables which we only began properly growing and harvesting last summer.

As an experiment, one Globe Artichoke plant was divided into six new plants

In our travels on a quest to discover the local areas best bakery products, we spotted two Emus just wandering around a paddock that was otherwise full of sheep. Didn’t expect to see the flightless birds anywhere near here, but there they were.

Two emus were just hanging around a nearby paddock

Onto the flowers:

Daffodils are now looking their very best
This weeping Cherry puts on a great show
A lone flower on this flowering Quince
The editor planted this lovely plant in one of the vegetable terraces
Geranium flowers are as lovely as ever
Leucodendron flowers
Echium flowers are much loved by the bees

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 7’C (45’F). So far this year there has been 824.6mm (32.5 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 808.0mm (31.8 inches).

79 thoughts on “Take away cake”

  1. Yo, Chris – Office boy sent out for goodies? Probably worried if he didn’t get the right nosh, he might be made redundant? It’s always fun to people watch and … speculate. Make up stories about them. That may, or may not be close to the mark.

    Hmmm. I had often heard of Tiramisu, but never knew what went into making it. Sounds awful. 🙂 . Ever try attempting to make, your own?

    Stability? Not even close. I don’t think things have settled down enough, to be called a “new normal.” Not yet. But, interestingly, when I was out on a short trip, the other day, I saw three signs for “help wanted.” One was a lumber yard, and, I don’t remember what the other two were. Ah! Pet store. And … don’t know.

    Looks like your greenhouse is coming along. Now, it’s not a criticism, just an observation. Most greenhouses look kind of … light and airy. Yours looks substantial. It’s there for the long haul.

    The asparagus looks well on it’s way. So far, the artichokes look happy and healthy.

    So have you seen emus in the neighborhood, before? Change in range? I wonder why? I’m sure there will be all kinds of tasty things around your farm that they will want to sample. But, I’m sure Ole will be up to the challenge. A drumstick the size of a roast. Fringe benefit.

    I’d never seen a quince flower, before. They really are, quit pretty. Lew

  2. Hi Al,

    Far out! And did the smoke begin to diminish on Monday as predicted by the good Professor? We get smoky summer air here too and it just makes it hard to be active and get a good deep breath. Not good.

    Before we moved up here permanently we had a little shed on the property. It was quite a nice shed really, with a wood heater, tank water, lights and an old TV to watch the occasional DVD. Anyway, it was a long time ago and now long gone and recycled into another shed. But I recall waking up one morning way back then and seeing thick smoke outside and taking myself off to the local volunteer fire station to ask the good folks there what was happening. I ended up joining them as a volunteer for a few years and met lots of lovely local people too.

    But anyway, my point is that it is now much easier to get information on fires in the area and as long as you have a reasonable understanding of wind direction, local conditions and the general topography around you, you can make some reasonable judgements. Mind you, truly a lot of people haven’t taken the time to get to understand any of that story and may have in fact outsourced their brains. I don’t reckon that is a good thing.



  3. Hi Inge,

    Glad you enjoyed the orchid story. I had no idea that such plants existed either, but orchid thieves are not unknown, so the article displayed good prudence in not alerting the readers to the exact location. As you probably already know, orchids live in a very close relationship with the various life forms in the soil and are not easily transplanted – well at least the local ones down here are like that.

    There are a few plants in the immediate forest around here like that and so we also have Xanthorrhoea, and many of those live for hundreds of years even up to a millennia I have heard. As a consequence they are slow growing, and they are almost impossible to relocate due to the specific relationships with the soil life. I recall seeing them flower one year and the plants produced these enormous flowering spikes. It was a very dry and hot year that one.

    Orchids are fairly common plants through the forest here, I just don’t make a big thing about them as they have to be left well alone and all that is required from me is to maintain the forest floor and for the right climactic conditions to eventuate.

    Glad to hear the piglet was OK. My mates were very displeased that the pigs broke into their kitchen garden. I was on the phone to them at the time and just before they hurriedly hung up I heard the word ‘nightmare’ used… My mates have since modified the pigs fencing. Pigs are such clever creatures and with pleasant personalities.



  4. Hi Lewis,

    Have you noticed that the newer buildings these days tend to have less ledges and ornamentation and so the spikes aren’t required? On the older buildings in the big smoke with their ornamentation and various ledges, the pigeons often have a field day and produce a lot of poop. It’s good fertiliser that is, and I’ve heard of people maintaining rookeries for the mineral rich poop. From a larger perspective it is a bit like the local wildlife around these parts snacking upon the various plants on the farm and then spreading the fertility around the immediate area via their poop. It all comes back to poop, you know! 🙂

    Mr Greer wrote about synchronicity recently and respect for your taste in literature. 😉 It was funny, but last evening before I penned the blog, the editor and I were discussing Edgar Allan Poe who may have penned a story about a meme relating to being granted three wishes which turns out horribly for the people involved. Candidly I didn’t know much about the personal life of the author, and after reading about that side of him last evening, did I need to know that? Probably not, as it is of little interest to me. I felt that the articles on the author unduly focused on his complicated personal life and unfortunately stole most of the attention away from the works of art that he produced. Hmm. Curious that and a rather ungracious perspective on the author.

    The Portland Central Library is a beautiful building. 🙂

    I read the good Professors essay on the weather models which failed to account for the smoke and thus overstated the temperature. Hehe! It all comes back to natty apps. Yes, natty apps drives clicks and may present forecast data in flashy formats that are perhaps more pleasing on the eye? I read a long time ago that some of our gobarmint departments are a bit underfunded, although I believe that weather forecasting is a very necessary public service and/or good.

    Accumulating organic matter in the soil is a problematic err, problem. If ever you’ve encountered a peat fire you’ll see the conundrum. Those babies can burn underground for months and months. Over the years I’ve been left wondering if forests don’t in fact prefer their organic matter stored in living plants and animals rather than stored in ultra mineral rich top soil? Not sure really, but it is a distinct possibility.

    Oh I so loved the film ‘Life of Brian’. Dunno why, but the film made a distinct and lasting impression upon my young and impressionable mind. But the Colosseum scene where the old guy out runs the gladiator who has a cardiac arrest cannot be unseen. And yeah, I recall the pleb picking up the left over body parts… Nowadays there would be people who if in a similar situation might attempt to harvest them. I have heard rumours emanating from the land of stuffs in relation to that gruesome matter.

    But yeah, the English sure knew what they were doing when they turned those tired tropes upon their heads. And when I was a very young child I was exposed to a lot of English television and films and had probably seen that particular ‘Carry on’ film. Oh, they were super naughty and even as a kid I picked up upon the innuendo. 🙂 Probably explains a few things. Mate, go and do yourself a favour… Hehe!

    Exactly, the interweb has really made it super easy to track down bizarrely difficult to obtain components – and you may have noticed that I’ve launched off on an ultimate (well second or third best is good enough) FM tuner adventure? A mate of mine is an electrical engineer and whilst he doesn’t know it yet, he will be most certainly roped into this project. My grandfather had this great knack for getting people involved in stuff. I wish I’d known the guy as an adult, but then he might have annoyed the daylights out of me, so life turns out as it should.

    All good points about the Viking game auction. It would be awesome to have. Hey, does anyone actually know the rules to the game?

    Far freakin’ out! That auction system is nerve wracking. Can’t say that I agree with handing out an extra three minutes. I prefer the Ebuy method which has a well defined end time, although a while back auction snipers were being used and I had no idea how they operated having never used such a chunk of software. For some reason the response time that those chunks of software got were better than what I could get as a long time user. Of late they appear to have fallen from grace as it has been ages since I’ve encountered one.

    Spare a thought for us folks down here. Houses are sometimes sold at public auctions and I recall one dump that we purchased and another bidder cost us maybe at least $30k in only a matter of minutes. They almost broke our resolve too. Can’t say that I’d ever spent mad cash quite that fast before, and didn’t go back for a second time ever again.

    That was a bad call, yeah. Who knew? Lewis, Arthur was rather demanding after all, and unfortunately nobody ever really knew when he was citing genuine need or just spouting some nonsense. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it! 😉

    Exactly about the DIY’ers stuck at home and looking for projects to do to keep their minds active.

    Ooo! Did you pick any of the cherry tomatoes? We pulled a radish earlier today just to see if the root had put on any size. It is still early days here. The editor wasn’t feeling too crash hot today so I had to creep around the house like a mouse. Fortunately for me, I can do rodent. 🙂 She is feeling better now.

    Hehe! So totally busted, and liked your story too. Yeah, things will end badly for the young bloke in that circumstance and it would make for a nervous employment existence. 🙂 Actually, I try and hone my narrative skills by observing peoples activities and overall presentation and then come up with a story that fits what I’m seeing in a few seconds or less. I treat it like a bit of a game and sometimes discuss the narrative with the editor, although I do try and look for an amusing angle – as you most certainly did. Funny stuff.

    When getting into the big smoke was easier – what is going on in there? – people watching was a whole lot easier. Things are relatively quiet up here on that score. Oh well, this afternoon the editor and I went for an hours long walk in the early spring sunshine and marvelled at how quiet things are now with human activities and how the noises of all of the life around us was lifted up and amplified as a result.

    Sure, it’s awful!!! Hehe! No, I have not yet attempted to reproduce the dessert although I could. The thing is, the tiramisu producing industry really needs my help by purchasing the completed stuff. After all, it takes a village to produce a tiramisu. 😉

    Still chuckling to myself about that last line. Small things and all that, but whatever!

    Yes, you are probably correct. If it means anything I believe that stability will return once all of the consumer debt arrangements are settled. It is going to be an ugly process.

    From what I keep reading there are plentiful jobs in the agricultural industries. Is this appealing to city people? Can they do the work required of them? Dunno. If city folks want to eat, someone has to do the work.

    No, not at all. It is truly a bizarre thing to see a breeding pair of emus in a paddock which is probably sheep country and has been for a long time. The emus could easily have jumped the fences so they were wild as. It is a most interesting story as to how they got there in the first place. I’m surprised our New Zealand friends never trialled emus as a moa bird replacement. There are also the Cassowary birds up in the tropical north eastern part of the continent which might have worked too.

    Thanks! That is the very first and only flowering quince which we’d planted. I saw the plant in an open garden a few years back and managed to get the owner of the garden to identify the plant. I do hope that it flowers at the same time as the fruiting quince trees as it may assist with pollination. The bees are out and about in force right now. I also have a Chinese quince tree growing in the orchard. A bit of genetic diversity never goes astray.

    I’d tell you what I did work wise today with some obstreperous software, but it left me with a mild headache and so we went for a walk in the forest whilst equilibrium was re-established.



  5. Hi Chris,

    I returned home yesterday after traveling to my mother’s apartment in Florida to participate in clearing out what we (myself and my siblings) wanted from it. So that we could take as much as possible, including my mother’s orchids and my father’s photo albums among other things, I drove the 1200 miles there while my two brothers took planes (we were able to pack some things into my mother’s car too since it will be shipped to my youngest brother for his family’s use). We have a sister too but she wasn’t able to participate in person. We brought her in by phone so she could see and request that we set aside certain things for her. It was quite interesting learning what was important to each of us, and what of the things our mother liked and had had for years that none of us wanted. Fortunately we all like each other and work together well, plus it was really good to be with my brothers for a while.

    Besides the trip being physically tiring – 3 days’ drive down, a day spent at the apartment collecting and packing up what we wanted, and another 3 days’ drive back, by myself – it was sobering emotionally too. As my older brother and I agreed late in the packing day, being there without our mother, with all that is left of her being the physical goods that we carried out, brought what had happened home in a way it hadn’t been until we were in her apartment without her.

    Regarding synchronicities, it’s interesting that in the comments to this post orchids are being discussed. I didn’t have time to read the comments to your previous post, but I remember there was a book about orchid thieves that I haven’t read but that sounds interesting enough to put on my someday list. My mother’s orchids (the kind that are easy to keep as house plants) aren’t anything rare, but they make beautiful flowers, and my mother loved them so I was willing to drive to FL and back to ensure that they stay alive and in the family. I have a couple of orchids of my own and like them very much. When I can, I will distribute our mother’s orchids among the siblings who want them.

    Will you put a passive solar heating system in the greenhouse you are building? I take it you still have time to raise seedlings for your growing season. Here, I would have started them at the beginning of March, your September, but I think our spring last frost date is earlier than yours, and our average summer temperature is hotter due to it being more humid here leading to hotter nights.

    Speaking of humid, it was positively soupy with humidity in Florida. I left ahead of the rain from Tropical Storm Sally, but the usual rainy season pattern was in place, and it rained all three afternoons I was in the state.


  6. Hi Chris,
    Agreed, everything’s better with butter. I enjoy tiramisu too but it’s been ages since I’ve had the pleasure of that indulgence.

    The greenhouse is looking great. What a fine addition.

    I enjoy interspersing flowers in the vegetable garden as well though my much smaller garden here doesn’t allow for too much of that.

    Visitors and other commitments continue here. Both daughters are out tomorrow and then older one and twins on Friday. My cousin scored some canning jars and lids for me so it’s off to pick them up on Thursday. My niece from Colorado and BIL stopped in for a visit on Saturday while she was on one of her rare visits here. And so it goes… As I said last week people are trying to fit in as much as possible before it gets cold.

    Speaking of the weather, after a very dry summer we had six consecutive days of rain last week with temps 20 degrees below average. I think over the six days we received 4 inches of much needed rain. At least it didn’t involve any storms – just steady rain and drizzle.

    I very much enjoyed your friend, Simon’s blog, on the subject that must not be mentioned (hello and thank you Simon). Much to think about there.

    Two of my nieces live in Portland and are stuck inside due to the smoke but so far are not in danger.

    I truly hope you can get some cake soon.


  7. Hello Chris
    I loved the emus and the story of the box with one button is really good even if it does send a shiver down ones spine.
    I get orchids everywhere through the woods here. A very large Early Purple comes up every year growing on a fallen tree trunk. Have also heard that orchids require a particular fungi accompaniment. Can only say that I have found this to be untrue. Perhaps you can try some experiments.


    @ Lew
    I agree that Chris makes tiramisu sound revolting but let me also assure you that it tastes wonderful.


  8. Yo, Chris – Re: Poe’s bad personal reputation. Fake news! 🙂 . See “Rufus Griswold”, who did a real hatchet job on him, after he died. A hatchet job that has been repeated, many times, in many places. There’s a couple of paragraphs on his relationship with Poe, in his Wiki entry.

    The Portland main library, is quit a fine old building. And the inside is quit grand. When I was a kid, of an apocalyptic bent, I often thought that come the end of everything (with me surviving, of course), I’d move into the library, and live there. Funny enough, there’s a sci-fi series by Stirling, and the bad old warlord moves into that library, and uses it as his headquarters.

    They’ve picked up quit a handful of arsonists in Washington, Oregon and California. No news on their motivations or backgrounds. Except one fellow in Oregon who was a crazy homeless person. He was arrested, released, and then set more fires. Luckily, all the fires were small, and put out. The smoke is easing, slightly, here. We actually got a bit of rain, this morning. For the first time in days, I could see the lights on the freeway. Here’s a map of my friends fire in Idaho.


    Council, where they live, is off to the right. That body of water, to the left is the Snake River. I think that’s the section called “Hell’s Canyon.” Appropriate name, no?

    Well, “The Life of Bryan” played well to the “Mad Magazine / Rocky and Bullwinkle” crowd. Of which I am a proud, card carrying member. 🙂 .

    Well, the interweb has it’s uses, but I’m a bit miffed at it, this morning. The prints I got, well one artists is pretty easy to track down. Luderkens. Not a name you see every day. But the other? Robert Gilbert. Do you know how many artists were named that, over the years? Lots! Gargle and Duck, Duck provided some tantalizing clues, but no clear answers. I pick them up, tomorrow.

    I think the article (that you couldn’t see very well) had some rules. Get your king (which was a slightly fancier game piece with a bit of metal inlay) to one of the corners (the castle) and defend him. Dice may have been involved.

    Yes, the sniping software was a problem, on E-Bay. Though the auctions I bid at, that three minute start over, was nerve wracking. But, it thwarted that kind of software.

    Yup. Got two trays of cherry tomatoes in the dehydrator. They ought to be just about done. Long story, but as I was hustling the tomatoes into the dryer, and stressed because I needed to water the garden, before the sunset, Eleanor showed up at my door. Something about a CO2 detector. In no time at all, there were five ladies in the hall, all talking over each other. I firmly told Eleanor that I couldn’t solve her problem RIGHT NOW, and closed the door. I live in a three ring circus.

    What’s going on in your Big Smoke? Well, it sounds like anti-lockdown demonstrations are gaining momentum and there’s talk of secession in the air. I figure it’s like here. Talk of secession is always a bit of background noise, and on slow news days, it breaks into the foreground. Your Prime Muppet, wept. Sucks to be him. I’m sure he didn’t sign on, for all this. Well, you pay your money (lots and lots of money) and take your chances.

    I wonder if the emus were pushed to change their range, a bit, due to the fires? Or, climate? Maybe they just needed a nice day trip? Perhaps they are in search of really excellent baked goods? 🙂 . Inquiring ornithologists, want to know!

    Here’s a short interesting article about Herculaneum …


    What’s interesting about the article is, like the Etruscans, a tribe called the Osci were the original inhabitants of that area. Also conquered and absorbed by the Romans. When the volcano went off, there were still a few old Oscan families around. And, some remains of their original language. There was a study, recently, on tracking where the refugees, from that area went. The Osci had a funny word for “welcome”, that they inlaid in their entry doorways. It shows up in concentrations, in other parts of Italy, after 79 CE. Sometimes, it feels like archaeology is all about connecting the dots. Lew

  9. Hi Chris
    The smoke situation is persisting due to being part of a cold air inversion layer trapped below 5000 foot elevation warmer air mass moving east over us per Cliff Mass. I could see it going on in the geo stationary sat sector pics early this morning. Ground clue was zero wind here.
    So far the main house HEPA filter is keeping us smoke free. Aided by well sealed windows and exterior aluminum sheathed insulation topped with sheet steel continuous formed lapped siding. (House will probably get a standing seam steel roof in the next year to top it all off).
    Any way I hope the dirty air gets scrubbed out by the right conditions. Effective masks for outside trips.

    Had good take out pizza and home made chocolate frosted chocolate brownies last night. Leftover pizza PROPERLY reheated by microwave and oven broiler function. Eaten at lunchtime.? Folks must make their own rewards in such difficult and trying times.

    Thanks for the account of the meager beginnings of life at Fernglade. Farm. The fire volunteers provide great service in the surrounding areas here.
    We have very strong mutual aid pactS between fire departments of several cities, the counties, and two Federal fire departments that protect Hanford land. Manpower, Equipment, and fully coordinated communication systems.

    The last really big dangerous range fire here was in 2000, it burned 40% of the Hanford wild land area and went on a run out of the boundary’s destroying some homes and causing some fatalities, I saw a fire tornado that reached about 2000 feet vertically. I was leaving work on a road about ten miles away. No camera phones in those days . Kinda etched in my mind.
    I like the looks of the green house. Will the roof panels be worked into the rainwater collection system?

    Cheers Al

  10. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the link to the Viking game and archaeology. Tis an interesting game, which I’ve played on occasion. Which I guess means that the answer to Chris’s question is that yes, some people know rules of a game using the pieces and board. The rules likely approximate what the rules were back in the 800s. On version of the rules can be found here: http://tafl.cyningstan.com/page/768/copenhagen-hnefatafl-rules


  11. Chris,

    My in-laws who were supposed to be without power for 5 weeks? Power was restored early Sunday!

    Emus? I knew someone who was allegedly debilitated due to whiplash from a car accident. However, said person had to go to the hospital with a concussion while allegedly debilitated. The concussion was the result of said (not debilitated) person getting kicked in the head by an emu when said person was trying to return several emus to their cage. I see emus and that person’s concussion automatically comes to mind.

    I mentioned to Lew the answer to your question about rules of Hnefatafl, the Viking board game. There are a few different versions of the board and the rules.

    The forecast for Spokane was also for the hazardous air quality to improve. Well, it DID improve slightly, but is still classified hazardous and is forecast to remain that way until perhaps Friday, when some rain might arrive. Maybe.

    Your greenhouse project looks to be going well. It is good to see that you continue to impress Ollie.

    Quince flowers are so beautiful. In the middle of our back yard is a cherry tree with white flowers when blooming. Behind it on the fence line is a row of quince. The quince and cherry bloom at the same time: the red quince background with the white cherry blossoms in the foreground is striking.

    To keep the air clean in the house, I’m running the furnace fan nonstop. Its filter gets some smoke out of the air. I’ve also got 20 inch box fans running, one in the main room, one in the bedroom. Both of these have even better furnace filters duct taped to them, so even more of the smoke and other contaminants are removed from the air. The air quality in our house is holding up very well for now.

    Dehydrating apples this week. I bought 2 boxes of zestar apples Saturday. Never heard of this variety before, but they are very tasty, both raw and dried. The Princess will be in orchard areas during the next few days and will get a few more boxes of apples.


  12. Hi Claire,

    There is something that is a bit unsettling about clearing an estate. What you wrote resonated with my experiences too, and the person is there in the accumulated memories, but at the same time also profoundly gone. It is an odd thing that the memories can attach themselves to things and the item then gains a meaning which is far beyond its physical being. And as you noted, everyone sees the physical item differently.

    It is nice to hear that you get along with your family and respect for that. You’re a saint to have coped with such a long drive (from the perspective of my tolerance levels as it has been well over a decade and then some since I’d travelled that far from home), and yes there would have been much time spent in your own head on the trip which can be a good thing. I’d imagine that it was nice to arrive safely home again to the familiar comforts?

    Orchids are such beautiful flowers, and your gift from your mum via you to the rest of your family is a lovely idea. To be candid my own knowledge of orchids and the care of them is sketchy at best, and the forest seems to have a better knack of growing them!

    No, I doubt the greenhouse will need the passive heat system. The cold winters that you enjoy are not really a thing here. Most greenhouse designs have their origins in colder climates than here and then people expect them to work down here – which they don’t, so this building will be a bit different to what you might expect to see. I’ve taken the design cues from all of the many fails that I’ve seen elsewhere, and adding in elements of my mates big shed house, and also other buildings like the chicken run here.

    And incidentally I suspect that your growing season is far longer than what I experience due to warmer soils. Exactly, on average it is warmer in your part of the world, which is a bit weird when you consider that the latitude here is 37.5’S. The old timers used to quip that tomatoes had to be in the ground by Melbourne Cup day (and that is the first Tuesday in November). And that rule of thumb more or less works based on about a decade of observations. So there is a bit of hurry, but not as much as you’d imagine.

    Not sure that I could live in such a climate as Florida. The humidity would take some getting used to.



  13. Hi Margaret,

    Oh yes, butter is lovely stuff. Hey, dunno about you, but when I was a wee young thing people pushed the idea of margarine and at the time I enjoyed the taste, but as I’ve gotten older margarine kind of repulses me. I have this odd notion that the ingredient palm oil has been added to the mix nowadays as the stuff tastes just a bit funny to my palate. Anyway, it’s butter all the way here. I recall reading a book by the chef Jason Sheehan and the title of the book is ‘Cooking Dirty’ where he recounts his experiences in commercial kitchens. It’s a fun read, but towards the end of the book he mentioned that he’d run a cooking school for a while and outraged some students by adding a goodly quantity of butter to a recipe. I tend to believe that the facts should speak for themselves in that case, and if the outcome tastes good… 🙂

    Oh, thank you. I mentioned to Claire that most greenhouse designs down here are sourced from the UK, and the buildings don’t necessarily translate well to down under. Anyway, we’ll see how this building works – I don’t really know, I just know that the standard design doesn’t work in this particular climate so experimenting with the design is worth the hasslee.

    Anyway, it took the current kick up the backside from the health subject which dare not be named to get onto constructing such a building specifically for seed raising purposes. Although all this talk of orchids makes me want to try a vanilla bean orchid in the building…

    It’s nice isn’t it to have flowers in amongst the edible plants. You may have noticed the large collection of roses here, well they attract pollinators (the official excuse) but we reckon they just look good too (the unofficial excuse).

    Change is afoot here as of midnight tonight apparently. The rural areas have been well behaved and so are being allowed to have slightly longer leashes. Masks are still compulsory though. Oh well, one step forward and two back, so it goes.

    That’s the best rain that you can ask for. I’ll bet the warmth in the soil means that the garden is jumping out of the ground like a jungle at your place.

    Simon is a good guy and very erudite, and glad that you are enjoying his writing. At this particular time in history, I am very grateful to my friends for just being there.

    Yeah, I can’t imagine Portland would be in any danger from the fires. But the smoke would be wicked tough. Been there and done that, oh yeah.

    Thanks! 🙂



  14. Hi Inge,

    The emus were such a surprise to have seen just enjoying themselves in the paddock. They’re such a clever and adaptable bird that they can exist in large parts of this continent, and they would have easily have been able to jump the fences, unlike the sheep.

    Apparently the push the button story (A.K.A. the three wishes which end badly story) is a bit of a meme in literature, but yes the story gave me the chills too – and for good reason. Unearned income I have noted, always comes with baggage – and usually not the good stuff.

    Thanks for the suggestion, but the surrounding forest grows orchids far better than I ever could, and so I just maintain the right conditions under the trees (to the extent that I can manage that epic task) and let them sort out their own business. I have to limit my activities to what I know I can handle otherwise there is a risk of being over whelmed and I have no desire to go to such a place. Thus I keep a sharp eye on that particular place. It’s a tricksey beast the over whelmed thingee, and dare I say that it is a bit like the elder folk of the forest in that in needs a close watching.

    Hope you have finally enjoyed some rain. I’ve been reading some accounts from your lovely country where people have suddenly taken up edible gardening as a hobby. I tend to feel that this is a good thing.



  15. Hi Al,

    Yup, the smoke sure does make for unpleasant conditions, and I’d read the good Professors essays on the subject. It happens here during summers that are hot and dry and then are subject to winds and fires. The time to manage the burns is usually well before the hot and dry weather, but try telling people that and they get seriously offended. Oh well.

    Very wise. Very wise indeed. You may have noticed that the external materials on the house which present themselves to the conditions are either steel, ceramic or cement sheeting – none of which are known to burn under worst case scenarios. With a steel roof you just have to make sure that organic matter such as leaves and other stuff doesn’t sit in the guttering as that can ignite under really harsh fire conditions. The house here has a fail safe fall back position in that behind the guttering the edge has steel sheet flashing with mineral rock wool. Yup, the system has been tested for 30 minutes of direct flame contact without failure, but all the same how do you know if one minor detail has not been stuffed up?

    Oh my, you neatly avoided the entire brekkie pizza situation by consuming the reheated pizza slices at lunchtime. Mate, you’re good! 😉

    Absolutely, the volunteers are often asked to do 12 hour shifts, and can you imagine asking employees to put in those sorts of hours for the good of the community?

    It’s a bit horrendous to encounter a tornado in any stripe, but like you witnessed with the fire tornado, we were actually direct hit by a tornado one Christmas day many long years ago. Nice Christmas present, huh? I’d never seen such a thing before and it was only a little one… I seriously said to the editor that the cloud approaching us from up the valley was a strange looking cloud. If my brain was working better that day I would have taken a photo, but when the thing hit we were busy just trying not to let the earthworks wash down the hillside.

    Top question! The answer is both yes and no. Yes, we have to collect the water from the roof of the greenhouse, and also no, we are unable for various reasons relating to height and gravity to be able to harvest the water into storage tanks. A mulch pit will soon be constructed and this will get the collected water into the ground. If there was an easier way…



  16. Hi DJ,

    The nice electricity company did some good work there with your in-laws. And totally tidy work with managing expectations. Yeah, done that trick myself actually and promised very poor outcomes, delivered what could be done in reasonable time, and rode the star wave of appreciation! Glad to read that the in-laws and hopefully also the cousins are doing well after the recent fires.

    DJ, I must say that between you and Lewis, I get the mild impression that a lot of our fauna (and if you peer somewhat south of you two, you get to see the flora and how that works out in practice) is present in your respective parts of the country. Next thing you might be seeing kangaroos, wallabies and wombats cruising through your forests! And yes, all of them regardless of how cute they look (e.g. Koala Bears) have bad attitudes and should be left well alone!

    You know, I’m kind of getting a feeling that the Viking game suggests that dice need be introduced to the game of Chess. What a fine addition it would make. And well yes as someone who is not proficient in the game of Chess, well the introduction of random elements might give me an edge. Over the years many computers have seriously trounced me in the game of Chess, and there was the one amusing time when a co-worker challenged me to a game and completely destroyed me. It was a brutal defeat…

    Take it easy until then. Only big rains put out big fires. If there were another way…

    Thanks for the kind words about the greenhouse. We’re experimenting with roof ventilation in the design on the basis that hot air rises via convection. A lot of greenhouses fail down here because the inside air becomes too hot. One must construct according to the climate rather than the ideal, and not the other way around. Of course I might completely stuff this project up… Who knows?

    Yeah, the quince flowers are really nice, but to offset them against a brilliantly coloured cherry – nice work!

    Your air filtration system inside the house sounds very effective given the smoky conditions. The smoke is quite horrendous and possibly not much good for your health. I recall the smoky days of last summer down here and we had no such system and my eyes, nose and throat was rather often irritated, but what do you? Your system displays your engineering skills.

    No, I’d never heard of zestar apples either. A top score by your lady, and I would do no differently, but haven’t thought to dehydrate apples before. How do you go about storing them once dehydrated?



  17. Hi Lewis,

    Old Rufus, despite the very cool name, has a dour and unapproving set to his facial features. And I note that his major achievement appeared to have been producing anthologies. Makes you wonder how his own work fared relative to the works included in the anthology? Ah, I see good old Edgar used his pen as a weapon, and so created an unrelenting and basically indefatigable enemy. There is a lesson in there. Plus there was the muse. What a convoluted story. Ah, do I not detect overtones of the fictional character Chancy (Conrad Richter’s trilogy) in this real world figure? Hmm. And wow, what happened after the difficult bloke departed to anywhere else but the land of the living, well let’s just say that the facts speak for themselves in regards to the blokes nature and effect on others around him.

    It is always nice to speculate that the zombies will somehow spare you, but I’ve got some bad news on that front for you (and also include myself in that horrid outcome). 🙂 But if on the other hand the zombies failed at their job – and they really only have just one job to do – the Portland main library would be a fine place to while away a lazy afternoon or a lifetime of afternoons. Hopefully the screams from the wrong side of the large windows to the library building wouldn’t upset your reading? I reckon if the book was good enough, I could work through that. 🙂

    Motivations for such people are a not well understood matter. Many long years ago I was lucky to speak with a policeman who specialised in such matters and he suggested that maybe the people enjoy watching the chaos that they create? I believe one of the states here just rounds them all up (the convicted ones anyway) on dangerous fire days and that policy has had quite good reduction of incidents apparently. Some people are just bad eggs and a danger to the rest of the community. Actually there was one living in a town to the south of here many years ago, and one Christmas day the bloke allegedly lit a fire which proved to be a real problem. Apparently the story goes that despite court orders suggesting that he act to the contrary, he was allegedly filmed heading to the fire. That sort of act sounds compulsive to me.

    I dunno, maybe it is just me, but the use of the words ‘snake’ and ‘hell’s’ in local place names kind of makes me think of areas of the world that would challenge Conan the Barbarian. And it goes without saying that the fictional character (in the book) is most likely tougher and smarter than I, but yeah, it sure does sound like a challenging geographical location.

    Hehe! Yup, all great reads. I loved Mad Magazine back in the day.

    Fred Luderkens pulled no punches with the images of art which I saw on the interweb. He certainly didn’t talk up WWII with that art, and perhaps that is how things should be? What is your take on that matter?

    I listened to a discussion this afternoon on energy policy down here. It could use some reality, but everyone is pussyfooting and trying not to look like the bad guy. Anyway the big gubarmont is going to build a big gas power plant to replace an old coal one that will soon be phased out (they better get a wriggle on from my perspective, but you know). The thing is we are the largest gas exporter and there is not enough to go around for domestic use as a consequence, so you guessed it, new gas fields also need to open. Not sure any of that stuff makes much economic sense otherwise it would be constructed and mined now. But anyway, it looks like we’ll chuck in whatever we can get our hands on so as to keep the lights on, and many people seemed rather upset that renewables aren’t being given more of a go. A few problems there with that technology… But do they want to hear that story?

    How did you go with Mr Gilbert? Did you discover anything? A very common name unfortunately. As a side story, my name is actually quite difficult to turn up anything in Gargle just because there are so many of them. Don’t really use Duck, but have heard good things about it.

    Mate, I haven’t seen auction snipers in action for a very long while, but have noticed that ebuy now is mostly, although not all, new stuff. I’ve heard that faceplant has a market thingee which sounds a bit of free for all for my tastes. A mate sold something on there and was offered a lower price when the purchaser turned up. I would have sent them packing for sheer cheek. It’s an old strategy that one and the first and only time I encountered it was when I was a kid and someone ripped me off. Lesson learned.

    What is a CO2 detector doing inside a building? We have smoke alarms and that is all they do, and they sure do make a racket when they go off. Imagine one of those things going off tap in a bushfire… I do like the ladies strategy with you – this was an attempt to overwhelm your senses! That deputation would have given me a headache. You’re made of sterner stuff than I!

    Interestingly speaking of politicians, a few years ago our politicians in opposition decided to take their moniker in the most literal sense of the word, and decided to oppose everything the gubaremint did. The electorate destroyed them as a result, even though the media played along for the effect. The head of the party was actually unseated in the election as the electorate had had enough. Can’t say that I’d do such a strategy myself, but you know some groups get lost in the detail.

    Secession is all talk. Those folks over in the far west of the continent rely on the eastern states for financial support. Most of the mines are foreign owned over there, like a lot of things in this country.

    Hehe! It was amazing to see the emus in that area. I’d always known that they used to be in the area, but to see them is another thing altogether. They’re pretty big birds and were a bit cagey about having humans around. That part of the area is very quiet so I can see how the birds came to be there. The climate is changing no doubts about it. Although I’m thinking that this summer will be very hot and humid. I see a big chunk of Greenland fell off. Oh well.

    Thanks for the link to Heritage Daily. A great read. I hadn’t known that Herculaneum survived the first day of eruption but was taken out in the second day. You’d hope that more people fled the carnage and just sheer destruction? But you know, I’d imagine that some would have hung around and said to themselves, yeah, let’s just wait and see what happens…



  18. @ Inge – If I ever do run across Tiramisu, I’ll at least give it a whirl. I’ll try to keep an open mind, but I suspect it might fall into the, “OK, but so many things I’d rather eat,” category. 🙂 . Lew

  19. @ DJ – Interesting game of strategy and skill.

    We got rain, last night, and today. I hope it makes it’s way, over your direction. Give you, your in-laws and out-laws, a break :-). Lew

  20. Yo, Chris – Atlantic Magazine has a nice photo essay, of Washington State. It starts on DJ and Al’s side of the State, and moves west.


    If an author doesn’t nail down their literary legacy, “friends” or family may fiddle with it. The bane of biographers, everywhere 🙂 .

    Well, as far as zombies and the library goes, I suppose one could make like Odysseus and the Sirens, and plug your ears with wax. Of course, then you couldn’t hear them coming. 🙁 . Speaking of zombies, and, continuing our Zombie World Tour, a zombie film popped up at the library, that apparently takes place in Eastern Europe. “Yummy.” On my hold list.

    Fire bugs. I don’t know if you read, or saw King’s “The Stand,” but there’s a character named “Trash Can Man,” who is an arsonist. Before the plague, he set fire to trash cans. After, he moved on to bigger and better things … Wonder how the new version will portray his character?

    Well, I think Fred Luderkens WWII art really showed more of the gritty reality, and down right exhaustion of the WWII solders. There was plenty of patriotic stuff around. And, sentimental Home Front art. And some of the advertising art was pretty silly. (See: Canon Bath Towels, advertisements. GI’s frolicking in tropical paradises, with their Canon Bath Towels.) I read a bit more about Luderkens, this morning. The guy had drive, and general all around commitment to excellence. Even in those times, when there was more of a market for illustration, it was a tough row to hoe. I ran across an article about him, and there were several comments from people who either knew him, were taught by him, or were related to him. Positive reviews of the man’s character, all around.

    Now Gilbert … sigh. So far, kind of an enigma. But, there may be bread crumbs. Someone’s got an unrelated (to what I have) print, on E-Bay, that dropped a few biographical gems. But is it the same guy? I’ll compare the signatures, when I get my hands on my prints.

    Oh, there’s still plenty of antiques and collectibles, on E-Sell. You just need to know where to look. As an example, thousands of pieces of Fenton glass. Well, that’s the way of it. Show up, make a counter offer. AND wave around the cash. I never did such a thing. Which is probably why I was never very successful, in the business. 🙂 . A few times, I did say, “This is all the cash I have on me.” But it was always true, as to the amount. And I was willing to let the seller see the moths fly out of my wallet.

    Oh, heck. We’ve got smoke detectors, heat detectors and CO2 detectors. We’re wired for sound. 🙂 .

    What’s interesting about secession talk, is, the Federal money in, Federal money out, situation. Some States pay more to the Federal Government, than they get back. Other States get back, more than they pay in. Most (but not all) of the States thumping for secession, get more than they give. They’d better take a look at their balance sheet, before running off with their hair on fire.

    Chunks of Greenland are falling off. Thousands of migratory birds are dying in New Mexico. They figure the fires forced them to migrate, before they’d had a chance to build up fat reserves, for the trip. At least, that’s one theory. I see you’ve got a poor whale, lost in a crocodile infested river. And, a recent high-up hire at our NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) is a long time climate change denier, who’s deep in the pockets of the oil industry. It just gets better and better.

    Well, here you go. Just saw this the other day …


    The do’s and dont’s of escaping from Pompeii. A roadmap, if you will. 🙂 Lew

  21. Hello again
    No rain, it is very dry here but the fungi are appearing, I assume, because of the dryness. Yesterday Son brought me 4 of the giant parasols. I did think what the heck do I do. Anyhow, 2 went into another risotto and I fried the other 2 and froze the result. Shall be curious to see whether they will be useful. They all absorbed an awful lot of butter.


  22. Hi Inge,

    Not sure really, but I read somewhere long ago that fungi can also appear in response to temperature differentials, so perhaps your fungi may be responding to an impending change to cooler conditions (or conversely warmer conditions)? I’ve observed that here in the forest and orchard, and I use the fungi like a sort of general climate barometer which suggests that change is on the way. The ants often let me know that a huge storm will soon hit because they construct little moats around the entrances to their hives.

    A nice problem to have with the mushrooms! And I must say that the editor makes a pretty good stuffed mushroom. The stuffing recipe is also used on excess zucchini and pumpkin flowers when in season, but mushrooms really are the best form.

    I have absolutely no experience with freezing mushrooms and will be most curious to learn your opinion once the mushrooms are defrosted and cooked.

    Yes, butter is good! 😉 It is beyond my understanding though, because when I was a kid nobody had food allergies other than people who suffered from Coeliac disease. I’ll admit though that it is possible that more people died back then from food allergies, and hence the lack of known subjects, but still the difference between then and now is very odd indeed.



  23. Hi Lewis,

    The Washington photos were superb, and you live in a very good paddock to have such nice things in your part of the world. But I tell you what. I was totally entranced by the article on just how late could the fine citizens of Pompeii have left things on that dreadful day back in 79AD. And whilst it is an extraordinarily dark subject, I did enjoy the authors use of amusing word play – and the author was also very careful as to note the exactitude as to the timing of picking up bakery products along the way. Sheer genius and thoroughly enjoyed. You know the winds also dictate the direction and strength of bushfires too and are also very indicative of risk.

    Just had to take a short break from replying as the coffee machine required my immediate attention. The water pump was not extracting the essential oils properly due to the sheer quantity of minuscule chunks of organic matter caught in the guts of the mechanism over the past year or so. When flushed out of the mechanism the gunk looked a lot like tiny grains of sand, and no doubts the stuff got into the machine via the water supply. We don’t run a filter on the rainwater supply other than the initial course mesh screen filter.

    Filters are a bit of a pain as they can block up in really big storms. Incidentally climate models from your country are now also suggesting that we are in a La Nina phase. This usually means that I will have a very damp summer, and possibly have to deal with a few blocked up filters from time to time – which I have to be on hand for in order to fix. Oh well.

    The sheer quantity of smoke produced by last summers epic bushfires tended to indicate to me that we would be in for a damp summer. Anyway, it was hardly a surprise for me to read that over the next week: BOM forecasts weekend of tropical weather as complex low to bring widespread rain. The last big La Nina summer back in 2010 (after the 2009 epic bushfires too – just sayin), well 10 inches of rain fell in 5 days over January. I’d never seen so much water before, and I recall that the flood of the local river cut off one exit off the mountain range. Unfortunately at the time I was on the wrong side of the flood and could see a car stuck way out into the water. So much rain…

    We have a mystery animal in the area. I suspect that someone has dumped a dog in the forest – a sign of the economic times perhaps? People used to dump animals when I was a kid, so perhaps everything new is old again? 🙂 We’ve caught glimpses of the dog over the past few days, and it has followed our movements when walking at night, which is a bit eerie really. At the moment we’re trying to lure the dog in with food so as to see what we are dealing with and then perhaps make some sort of decision.

    Ah, I see. I’ve heard people suggesting that they want to leave a legacy. Some folks do exactly that and the mechanism varies from one individual to another.

    The wax would come in handy in order to drown out the rather inconvenient and frankly distracting blood curdling screams, which are all part of day to day zombie activities. Possibly the effort required to do so would be taxing and irksome, but a good book is worth the effort! 🙂 And yes, your larger point that it is best to be aware of ones surroundings is an important point when dealing with the undead – they can be pesky and unrelentingly annoying. I thought that you were being funny using the word ‘yummy’ but no, that appears to be the actual name of the film, and it is that most rare of beasts a zom-com. Big shoes to fill, really big shoes.

    Did you notice that the Fred Luderkens artwork captured some of the distant eyes and ‘just getting on with things’ set faces in the soldiers? He’s good. And you’re right about capturing the sheer exhaustion of soldiers on a long campaign. And he was a peer of Norman Rockwell and established a correspondence school for artists. An interesting guy.

    Speaking of GI’s frolicking in tropical paradises, the film The Bridge of the River Kwai took some serious poetic license on that particular subject when the actual conditions faced were pretty brutal.

    When do you get your hands on the prints? And you haven’t mentioned the subject of the prints? One I quite liked was of a family of skunks on an old disused rail bridge.

    Mate, like you I have never done such a thing, although I have walked away from a purchase once when the people over sold the reality of items. There was talk about providing paperwork to prove age of the items (they were large batteries and so such details are important) and provide some sort of warranty (which they promised in the ad). Anyway, so I turn up there with the check in hand and they don’t have all those not inconsequential details, and so I walked. Of course they did ask me to trust them in the first place and get the paperwork to me later, but yeah, not good enough.

    Actually I have known people to set out a cash offer for something in advance (just like you mentioned), and there is nothing wrong with that at all. In fact actually many people appreciate such an approach when the price has not been already fixed because it usually indicates a willingness to complete a transaction and avoids a whole lot of unnecessary haggling over the price.

    Hehe! I recall those heady days of Sir Cliff and roller skates… Too many small devices to go wrong at inopportune times for my liking though.

    Actually your observation accords with the secession claims down here too. If they don’t want the extra mad cash, they needn’t take it, but then that is the problem isn’t it?

    The whole denier problem is essentially a self correcting problem. I dunno, I tend to believe that we should strive to keep what we already have as the sheer cost of doing just that minor feat will be hard enough, but that is a deeply unpopular perspective. People want what they want. And probably what we’ll get is chucking anything into the tank to keep things going until who knows what will happen. The other day I was cogitating on the old aphorism about some land being so good that it was the land of ‘milk and honey’. Dunno about you, but I can’t ever recall being in want of milk and honey, but who knows what the future will hold.

    The road map out of trouble is also just as applicable to bushfires. Leave well before it is too late is good advice – and also the official advice down here nowadays.



  24. Yo, Chris – They’ve found carbonized loafs of bread, in the ovens of Pompeii. But you probably wouldn’t want to wait around, for it to come out of the oven. 🙂 . The little “pooch” around the middle, was from a string tied, around the loaf. So you could conveniently carry it home. Some loaves were stamped with initials, of people in the neighborhood. So, it looks like you could make your own bread, and then bake it in the baker’s oven. Something that happened(s), world over.

    I suppose some of that grit in your coffee maker, might be from the smoke. Funny, I was just thinking that this is what nuclear winter must be a bit like. Or, a really big volcanic explosion. I wonder if it puts a few good nutrients into the soil? I have tomatoes that look like they’re just aching to turn color, but there’s not enough sun. Haven’t seen the sun, in days. So much for solar. Something new, last night the smoke smelled like a musty old house.

    One of our major arterials is out of commission. For at least the last 24 hours. It’s the White Pass Highway (Hwy 12). It goes from Interstate 5, through the east part of our county, and over to Yakima. Yakima is a big fruit growing area. And, the fruit is coming in, right now. By the way, the Zester apples DJ mentioned? I think I saw some articles a couple of years ago, that those are a new variety, and that they were ripping out a lot of orchard stock, to replant with Zester. Alternative routes are other passes, far to the north. Or, along the Columbia River (which is having it’s own fire problems), and then inland. The fire is in “steep wooded terrain”, which is the worst, for fighting fires.

    Speaking of ups and downs in the climate cycle, I ran across this article about California, and flooding. As if they didn’t have enough problems. Kind of long, but, has a lot of information about drought periods, before and after major flood events.


    It will be interesting to see how the dumped dog, plays out. Do your beasties seem to know he (or she) is around? Out where I lived before, dumped dogs happened from time to time. It can happen for a lot of reasons. Oldster dies and the family doesn’t want a dog. New baby. A move to digs that don’t allow pets. I think too, some people think that to take a dog to the shelter, means instant euthanasia, as soon as they’re in the door. They see dumping a dog (or any other animal) as “giving them a chance.” Faulty thinking, I know, but there you have it.

    LOL. If artists’s want to insure their legacy, they should at least sign their paintings in a legible, hand. 🙂 . I got to thinking about that, and, I’ve often heard that some artists are never happy with what they’ve made. So, maybe they’re in two minds about if they should claim an art work as their’s, or not? It’s a theory.

    The Thousand Yard Stare. Soldiers and disaster victims. Ludekens did a series of paintings / prints for one of the big lumber companies. A wildlife series. A bit of green washing? 🙂 . But, back to the soldiers. During WWII there was a cartoonist named Bill Mauldin. He was a soldier, and did cartoons of a pair of typical GI’s named “Willie and Joe.” Some of the officers hated Willie and Joe, as, they often made fun of the officers. I remember after the War, we had a book of Mauldin’s work, kicking around the house.

    I picked up the prints, yesterday, from the auction. The Luderkens is a blue flower pot filled with nasturtium. Not my usual taste, but, it “spoke” to me. There’s one in the completed auction section, at E-Sell.

    The Robert Gilbert’s are a.) a skeleton / death on a pale horse, b & c.) two copies of a group of skeletons flying kites, and d.) a 3/4 figure of a young, shirtless black man, on a boat. Palm trees in background. All three are black and white lithographs, all are signed, two are numbered.

    Detective Lew on the case! Luckily, Gilbert signed his art with a very clear hand. I noticed on E-Sell that someone had a print for sale, “Men Roofing Church.” The listing dropped the biographical gems that a.) he had been a student of Thomas Hart Benton’s (one of my favorite artists) and b.) that he lived in Silver Creek, Washington. Which is in my county. When I got my prints, I did a signature comparison, and, it was a clear match.

    The church print is of an old country church, and, though I’m sure much later, has a very WPA / American Regionalist, “feel” to it. And, it wasn’t much money. I really do like it. So, I dropped the seller a line, asked if he had any more background, and, that I intended to buy his print. He answered right away, and said he’d send what information he had, with the print. 🙂 . It was a very friendly e-mail, and, I really can’t blame him for holding out on the information, until I buy the print. In the biz, you get pumped a lot for information, that doesn’t put a dime in your pocket.

    Paperwork at point of sale. I hear these horror stories about how someone shows up to buy a car, and, there is no title, as promised. Getting a new title can be a nightmare. I have no problem walking away from stuff, if things are too expensive, or, murky. There are plenty more fish in the sea. I’ve never said it aloud, but when I run across something that is stupidly priced, I often think to myself, “They’ll bury you with it.”

    “Land of Milk and Honey.” Biblical, I think. What Moses kept saying to keep his mob staggering around the desert, for 40 years. I think we’ve talked about the song, “Big Rock Candy Mountain.” Something that was a lot of wishful thinking, during the Great Depression.

    And, finally, just for fun …


    Only a minute long. Lew

  25. @Claire
    Glad to hear that the division of your mother’s belongings went well with all the siblings. That was also the case for us when my mother passed away. Doug’s parents wisely made an inventory of their belongings long before they passed away so the three sons could decide what they would like ahead of time. Come to think of it we should do that as there is a particular beautiful cage with wind up song birds that was my grandmother’s. We all grew up listening to it. Both daughters have been lusting after it for years.

    Best of luck catching up at home.


  26. Hi Chris,
    I forgot to mention the emus in my last comment. How fun it must have been to unexpectedly come upon them. I felt that way when years ago you would run into a bunch of sandhill cranes whose numbers had crashed. Now they’ve successfully come back so it’s not too much of a surprise to come upon them. They are very large for around here. One usually hears them when they are migrating as they have a distinctive sound. They often fly so high you can barely see them.

    I’ve had the most amazing number of pollinators on some of the plants in my native forb patch along with several varieties of butterflies.

    Doug’s mom used to prefer margarine they she called it oleo. It took awhile but I finally set her straight.

    The smoke has arrived here now though it’s high enough that one can’t smell it. It’s just hazy and of course pretty sunrises and sunsets.

    Pandemic puppy, Ruth, was here yesterday. Salve and Leo are tolerating her better. Salve did not bite her this time and barely growled. Ruth fell in love with the pigs and at one point had her head through the fence and it appeared they were chewing on her ears but she was loving the attention. Anyway she had a particular odor after that encounter, eau de swine.

    Glad things are lightening up somewhat. Our bank closed it’s lobby again. Much speculation about the fall and winter.


  27. @ Lew,
    Nope, no rain. Yet. It looks like we’ll get rain Friday night into Saturday morning. But good news! Our air quality, which for days was Hazardous, has crept down through the Hazardous and Very Unhealthy ranges and is now “only” Unhealthy.

    @ Marg,
    I’m glad we could share something from Washington with you. I’m sad that it’s smoke. Hate to be in Seattle: they got smoke during the Day of the Big Blazes, as the wind was from an abnormal direction and blew the smoke through Seattle to the ocean. Now that the wind is normalizing, Seattle is getting the same smoke a second time.


  28. Chris,

    Yes, it was VERY good that the electricity got fixed so fast for folks not in the fire zone. And more good news. Our air quality is (slowly) improving. We have 6 ranges: Good, Moderate, Unhealthy for Some, Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy, Hazardous. Dunno what’s beyond Hazardous, but Eugene, Oregon had readings that were beyond the Hazardous scale. Maybe that is the “Breathe me and die, sucker!” range. Anyhow, we’ve succeeded in creeping down from almost into that Unnamed Zone Beyond Hazardous to the very tip top of Unhealthy. No, I’m NOT going out for a walk or anything strenuous. 😉 The main differences are that the sun is an orange almost visible ball sometimes and, more importantly, the air no longer has a strong taste.

    There’s lots of fauna that seems to be nearly everywhere. You know things have gotten too weird, though when we’re chasing wombats and you’re dodging Sasquatch.

    Dice with chess? Ohhhh, cool. It IS after all a war game, and sometimes the war gets won due to some stroke of luck for one side or the other: good luck such as an unexpected ally, or bad luck (for one side and good for the other) such as half the army deserting to the enemy, or at least watching idly from the sidelines. Like Bosworth Field in 1485. Adding dice to chess could do something like that, or more minor things too. Hehehe, roll a 12 and you lose you queen, for example.

    Good idea for some ventilation in the greenhouse. It doesn’t take much for those things to turn into ovens.

    I wish I could take credit for the quince/cherry color scheme. But no, the quince were there before I bought the house. I added a volunteer cherry tree several years back with no idea what type of cherry tree or anything. Maybe my yard is like a chess game with dice, and I rolled a 5, which translates to “If you’re nice to a volunteer tree, the color scheme will reward you.”

    I hear you. It’s totally a “go outside and have burning eyes and throat” air here. I looked just now, and your 3 Washington regulars have similar air quality. Toppenish, where my brother in law lives, is much worse, stuck in the Very Unhealthy yet. The entire region is supposed to have a system roll through Friday and Saturday. It might clear the air in Al’s area and where my bil lives, but rain there may be slim. We’re *supposed* to get some rain, but I doubt that it will be a lot. Anything will help, though. As you said, we really need the autumn rains to hit.

    This summer I’ve been dehydrating peaches, apples, apricots and a few onions. I store them in pint and quart canning jars. In the basement in a cool room. As long as they’re properly dried, this works well. Dry them to a crunch and they might store well for up to a year. I’ve actually got some dried potatoes and some dried hot peppers that are about 2 years old and are still good.

    Any luck on locating the dropped off dog?


  29. Chris,

    Perhaps the young bloke was a little limp because he too wanted tiramisu but got stuck with chocolate cake against his will? I believe that’s called a first world problem.

    Not sure if you saw the announcement about the government building an oil storage facility. Pretty sure we jokingly suggested that exact idea at the last green wizard catchup. Maybe ScoMo has been listening in our meetings.

    Also saw the government is going to build a gas fired power plant up in the Hunter valley, apparently against the recommendation of the energy operator. I think it’s not a bad idea but honestly could the energy infrastructure management in this country be more crazy? Might as well re-nationlise the whole thing.

    @ Margaret

    Thanks for the kind words. The posts were very therapeutic to write as I tried to make sense of what has happened and it seems that others have also found them interesting which is great.

  30. Hi Simon,

    Hehe! Yeah it is a first world problem 😉

    Yes, apparently this new oil storage facility is in on home soil. The reserves here are frankly not good. I believe we are also paying for and building another storage facility in the US which seemed like an odd notion, but geopolitics and all that. Far out, the guy could do worse than listening in and taking notes, of course it might cost him a round of tiramisu and coffee, but with that printing machine at his disposal, he can well afford it…

    With the gas power station, there was no other easy choice to maintain things as they are. It’s like a least worst option to ensure that the grid stays mostly stable. Gas is not a bad option because you can start and stop the things, unlike coal fired power stations. NSW is going to close down Liddell power station within I think 3 years and it is a bit bigger than Hazelwood which was closed down a few years back. I doubt the grid could function in the way that it does now without the gas power station, but would be happy for the experiment to be run.

    Unfortunately we don’t have enough domestic gas available to run the thing as most of the gas is exported – Victoria business and residents may demand more than the supply within the next year or two. It happens, but during the health crisis that dare not be named a change was quietly made to allow for onshore gas drilling. Thus proving we’ll chuck in whatever we can to keep the lights on. There are already gas fields suggested in NSW to power the new station. It happens.

    I heard the federal energy minister on the radio the other day and he called it: Sometimes at night the wind doesn’t blow, and then those two energy sources produce nothing – then what are you going to do. A simple concept that plenty of academics and learned people just can’t seem to understand. I get to see that story every single day.

    Actually it is funny you said that about nationalising, but the government basically said that if no one else builds this power plant, they will. I’m guessing that tells the story that if it made economic sense then a large commercial concern would build and run it. We’ll get to find out early next year what the answer to the question is.

    A few weeks back I replaced the house batteries. That set me back $13k for 16kWh of storage. At your place you pay maybe about $0.30 per kWh, so for you to get access to that much electricity costs you $4.80 plus supply charges. Storage of electricity makes little economic sense. I dunno, people just want what they want…



  31. Hi Margaret,

    The emus were really cool to see and I do hope that the species is expanding their range as the huge flightless birds provide some interesting ecological services. And I spotted the birds again today! As of midnight last night the editor and I were able to travel around the rural areas for whatever reason, although mask wearing at all times is required (other than eating). This change came in for rural folks as the big smoke citizens are still locked down and unable to leave the city or even travel far from home. And limited table service is now available in the rural areas – all very civilised and far less wasteful. There are no cases in the region where we live, so the restrictions seemed a bit over the top to me. Spoke to a guy I know today who told me that take away service was a bit easier than table service, but if their mortgage holidays and/or rental concessions get taken away, well they might have to do more business to make up for the cash outgoings that they hadn’t been required to pay recently. Anyway, there were a few more people out and about today, but it still seemed fairly quiet. The folks from the big smoke are being threatened with monster fines should they venture up into rural areas. The fines are apparently around $5k per person. Ouch!

    It is a nice thing when a species on the edge manages to bounce back like your sandhill cranes. And you never know what ecological services the birds provide. At one stage we would have had lyrebirds inhabiting the creeks and mountain gullies in this range. The birds performed an important service by turning over all of the leaf litter and other organic matter thus speeding up its decomposition, but the 1983 fires put an end to them here for sure. It is possible that your wild turkeys would do a similar job?

    Good stuff and always pleasing to see. Yeah, a forb patch (and thanks for the term) is a top idea to attract pollinators. Many of those plants grow through the paddock and orchards here. They’re kind of like the quiet achievers don’t you reckon? Did you have a patch at your former place? And hope Doug’s bees also take advantage of all of the flowers. It is hard to grow enough flowers! 🙂 And if you believe you have enough flowers, grow some more because it ain’t so.

    Never heard anyone use the term oleo before, but I see that the word has Latin roots. Interesting. Well done, and I am no fan of margarine these days which I suspect tastes very different to the stuff I used to consume as a kid. However it takes only a few weeks of exposure to change a palate. Palm oil tastes disgusting to my palate, but plenty of other people don’t seem to notice so it maybe me that is wrong in this regard.

    Ruth is clearly enjoying the swine, and yes canine perfume preferences leave much to be desired. Salve has clearly made his point and perhaps Ruth has decided to take heed (or Ruth has gained the upper hand over Salve?) This is not so far-fetched an idea as today I noted Ruby and Plum chewing on Ollie’s ear as if it was a dehydrated pigs ear. I suspect that they are doing little harm and like Ruth Ollie loves the attention.

    Margaret, I tell you this: Things are way weird right now. Who knows what the future holds in store for us?



  32. Hi DJ,

    The smoke is epic and in the most recent post by the good Professor there is a composite satellite image which shows the smoke has now travelled across your continent and is now over the Atlantic Ocean. Hey, the smoke from the fires earlier in the year ended up travelling as far as Chile before circling the globe and returning home again… Mate, so much smoke. Anyway, did I spot two hurricanes circling around and around and gathering energy and moisture? Florida and the south east of the US looks like it is getting a drenching.

    Well, exceeding the well trod and accepted scale is always a possibility. I now cite the amusing: Spinal Tap – “These go to eleven….”, and now retire from the field of battle knowing that all scales are abstract notions put in place to set abstract limits over which we have little to no control. For there is always 11. 🙂 You may laugh, but that actually happened here a few years back: Australia adds new colour to temperature maps as heat soars. Yes, a cheeky scamp could suggest that the temperature soared to 11. 🙂

    Yeah, truly awesome sunsets are an undocumented feature of such climactic events. Awesome stuff!

    On a serious note, I also had trouble doing strenuous activity during such atmospheric conditions. It was hard getting a deep breath, let alone doing things like digging soil and excavations by hand. Possibly much damage was done, but who knows?

    Mate, if Sasquatch were present in the forest her I’d fear for my life and wouldn’t so casually walk around the place. You have to laugh, but plenty of things here will kill you seriously dead in no time at all due to them being unnecessarily bonkers poisonous. Do they have to be that deadly is a question I’m afraid to ask of the critters. But over your part of the world, critters aren’t as deadly but will instead tear you limb from limb whilst making a toothy dinner of your once vital remains. This is possibly a case of same, same, but different. 🙂 Thus proving that we all end up as dinner for something else sooner or later.

    What a hornet’s nest of trouble was the events which lead up to the battle of Bosworth Field, and Elizabeth of York ended up being hot as property in the most literal sense of those words. All the intrigue reminds me way too much of politics in your country today, but perhaps without the beheadings and battles. But who would have thought that the outcome of the battle would eventually be a schism with the unbending Catholic church? Hmm. Catherine of Aragon was a great person with far vision.

    Exactly about the greenhouse. I assume that people use them in your part of the world? The traditional designs just don’t work here, not that anyone seems to have noticed or questioned the paradigm. I see them empty and devoid of plants, or with the doors thrown wide open and shade covering over the top of the building. Not all ideas translate down here well.

    Haha! Well that just proves that when you rolled the ‘your house and garden purchase dice’ you didn’t score a 12. 🙂 But yeah, I get where you’re at and likewise just set things up and see how they roll, or maintain/adapt what is already here.

    Ouch. We had a bit of rain here this morning and like the rain may do to your smoke particles, the rain washed a bit of the pollen from the atmosphere. Growing conditions have been so good this year that there is plenty of pollen floating around in the air. Spotted the first tiny little almond today.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences with dehydrating fruit and tubers. Interesting. Might need a cool room myself one of these days.

    Nope, no luck at all with the mystery dog although we are setting out food with a trail camera set on it.

    Just unblocked a bathroom drain pipe using a bit of caustic soda, a sink full of water and a manual plunger. The pipe was attached to the hand sink and being only 40mm, but draining into a 100mm pipe, the much smaller diameter pipe gets blocked with err, gunk, from time to time. The original plumber also worked a 90 degree angle into the pipe where one side is horizontal. Not suggesting that drain pipes should all be angled downwards, but it seems to me that they should be. Anyway, one of these days I’ll get that drain arrangement corrected as it fails every couple of months. But until then I’ve become quite proficient at unblocking it. It is the only drainage fail in the house so mustn’t grumble, but it could be better.



  33. Hello again
    Mushrooms aren’t nice once they have been frozen but these have been cooked first so we shall see.
    I like stuffed mushrooms but one can’t do that with parasols. I used to stuff marrows when cooking for a family but it doesn’t make sense for one.
    I woke to a day with nothing on the cards that I had to do for once. I should have guessed that this wouldn’t last. Son turned up with a pile of beetroot for me so they are now cooking before being put down in vinegar. A few will go into a beetroot risotto for me tonight.


  34. Hi, Chris!

    I imagine Captain Haddock had his own encounters with the authorities. I remember Tintin, but did not read it much.

    This earth could not exist without constant change.

    I think that we still have things pretty good in the First World, except for lumber prices . . . My son just went to the lumber yard to buy some lumber to build a structure to lift the dump truck cab onto so that he could rebuild the floor in it and the prices had more than doubled. I believe Lew (?) mentioned that last week? He came back with none and went to the back of the property and got some small trees that he had previously cut down and used them as supports. For the rest he used scrap lumber.

    Did you notice any rise in prices when starting your greenhouse project? That is a beautiful structure. It almost looks portable.

    Your asparagus is beautiful, too. I planted a new asparagus bed last spring. We did not eat any of it and the plants look really great right now.

    Aren’t you glad that you don’t have emus in your paddock?

    I planted daffodil and tulip bulbs yesterday.

    “Locked down tighter than a wombats den on a damp winters evening” – that’s a good one!


  35. @ Claire:

    If I could give you an award for bravery, I would – driving across country alone in a pandemic. How were the hotel accommodations?


  36. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for mentioning the bread as there is an example of one of those Pompeii loaves in a down under museum: Daily Life in Pompeii. Of interest was that the bread was described as hard bread made from coarse ground flour. We have spoken before of people’s preferences for finely ground flour to produce fluffy white loaves. Anyway, it interests me because it is very hard to grind flour to the minute level produced by today’s commercial mills. Like really hard, and every time I’ve experimented with either alternative grain flours or exotic organic flours they seem to me to be of a coarser grain. For your interest, the wheat is continuing to grow here, and I noticed a wild example of wheat appears to have produced some early grains. I suspect the source of the seed was from soiled bedding straw from the chickens. But that particular plant is miles ahead of the deliberately planted wheat and am keeping a close eye upon it. I’m still curious to see how the experiment plays out.

    It’s not a bad idea to have a single centralised oven with which to produce bread as it would save enormously on firewood. In the area to the west of here is a working historic scotch oven and once heated up the thing can produce a huge amount of loaves and other baked products. We are very wasteful as a society trying to do everything individually – probably only because we can actually be so wasteful.

    Hehe! And yeah, there was the huge dust storm last year when it rained red mud from the centre of this arid continent. Red mud was everywhere and on everything for a week or two after that. I’m sure some of the gunk in the coffee machines guts were from that source. But yeah exactly, nuclear winter would not be good. A year without a summer is also another possible option. The tomatoes here last growing season were a total disaster due to the smokey atmosphere and just crazy as climate. We harvested probably 25%-ish of our normal crop, and the late season tomatoes brought into the house to ripen tasted foul and were given to the worms. No sugars in the fruit.

    I’ve wondered that too about the rain washing smoke particles onto the land as a form of fertiliser. Over a big enough area, it would bring considerable minerals out of the atmosphere. Mind you, the same effect is true for floods which deposit silt all over the place, but predominantly in fertile flood plains.

    Ook about the smoke smell – not sure what that means. And mate, it is one of my pet hates that people tell me that renewable energy systems should work like they believe they should. Yep, I heard people saying just that on the radio the other day (the context of the discussion is in my reply to Simon). Solar is good, but smoky conditions are a serious challenge. They’ll work, but who wants to install four times the generation capacity that they’ll require just because there are occasional times when the air is smoky, or cloudy, or snowy… Or it’s dark…

    And interestingly, maybe last year sometime we visited an historic house and encountered that particular musty old smell and decided to be more diligent with our own house cleaning efforts. It was frankly a bit shocking to see and smell the serious decay. I can well understand the old regular activity of the ‘spring clean’. Dust bunnies are not really our furry friends when they have accumulated for several decades.

    Ouch. The grape harvest will be not good due to the effects of the smoke. That happened down here last summer. And the smoke may affect the other fruits as well. I don’t get that about apple varieties coming in and out of vogue. That makes no sense to me whatsoever as it just increases the overall cost of production and the average punter on the street wouldn’t know one variety of apple over another variety. Some of the arrangements in place are not good, and that is one of them. Anyway, an old timer orchardist once quipped that the cosseted apples grown nowadays won’t survive a lack of the sort of high level care they receive nowadays. But at the same time I can understand why commercial orchards have to be run that way too, so it is a complicated predicament.

    Fire in steep wooded terrain is very difficult to extinguish without aerial water (and the other red stuff) bombardment. Back in the day containment lines used to be cut in using graders and bulldozers, but people get a bit funny about the aftermath of such activities.

    Thanks for the link: “Book of the Apocalypse theme park,” is a hoot! It would be funny, if the words weren’t such a dire observation. 3 inches of rain every day for a continuous 10 week period would be unfathomable to consider. Not much would survive such a drenching. The first hand account of the flooding is an awesome read – but yeah, I’m sort of reminded that just like the fires here, what has happened once can indeed happen again. Not sure how your food system would cope with such a rain event? Probably not good. Had the first artichoke and asparagus of the season in dinner tonight. And spotted the first tiny little almonds. Yup, the Guy Brewer called it correctly: “the recklessness of the state”. Mate, they are toast if such a thing were to reoccur. Floods are unstoppable – and such a scale. I was thinking about the Oroville dam wall too, and glad it got a mention. What an article, but yup, probably best leave early and err leave now.

    Hmm. Today we stopped by the Lauriston Reservoir just north and west of the mountain range. It is based on a similar design to the Hoover Dam – apparently. The wall was now almost 80 years old and looked in good condition – to the casual observer.

    Haven’t seen the dog around today although we left out food tonight just to see what happens. The food unfortunately might lure foxes, but the foxes are probably here anyway. Hadn’t thought of the dog story from those perspectives, but it makes sense.

    Hehe! A basic error that not signing an artists works properly. The nasturtium print sounds pretty good and I hear you about the art speaking to you.

    I can see why Thomas Hart Benton would be a fave. The guy was prolific too. There is a good work ethic there too.

    Mate, I get about getting pumped for information. At wedding receptions were I’m stuck next to someone I don’t know and who begins slowly asking for free info. That’s work by the way in any other name. Anyway, I tell them they’ve got 10 minutes, get it out of their system. Brutal but effective, and I can’t get away at such a social occasion. So yeah, the esell person was wise to have done so. I assume you nabbed the print?

    Wise. Very wise. Walk, but more correctly sometimes the best policy is running. No shame in running away, anyway the shame will fade far quicker than the lingering dramas of having purchased something with bad mojo.

    No, I had not heard of Big Rock Candy Mountain. It’s a bit of a shame that some folks have taken that story on board as a ‘how-to’ manual for their best life. If ever they encounter such a place I’m sure there will be folks with guns protecting it… That would count as work me thinks.

    Oh my! Please do keep your bears to yourselves. Far freakin out!



  37. Hi Chris and Simon,

    I heard that energy talk on Hack as well, had a little chuckle to myself when callers referred to hydrogen as an ‘energy source’. Lots of platitudes for renewables, lots of questions avoided by the politician. /Shrug, pretty standard. I was happy to hear we are researching alternatives to gas derived synthetic fertilisers – uncharacteristically foresightful!


  38. @ Margaret: thanks for the wish! The catching up task is somewhat daunting. I do a little each day and remind myself that it will get done eventually, but in the meantime I have to live with boxes scattered across two rooms.

    @ Pam: the pandemic was less of a concern to me than staying awake while driving was. Normally two of us share driving the same distance, so each of us can take short naps when not driving. Careful dosing with tea, my caffeinated beverage of choice, kept me alert, as did ending each day’s drive in late afternoon.

    I had no difficulty locating open motels, places to eat, or rest rooms at gas stations, which would not have been the case had I been traveling last spring. The states I traveled through are governed by Republicans and thus less eager to impose masking and business restrictions on their citizens than states governed by Democrats, though some localities and most of the facilities owned by large corporations had mask regulations when inside their buildings. Of the people I saw, some wore masks, some didn’t. I wore one to protect myself while traveling and because we are required to where I live so I am used to it, but I rather liked having it be my choice in some of the places I traveled. If I read the national mood correctly, I think most people have pandemic fatigue to at least some degree and don’t have an appetite for increased restrictions at this point.

    @ Lew, DJ, Al – while I was traveling I noticed the fires and thought of all of you. Glad you are all safe and hope the fires lessen and stop soon! Our sky has a milky white haze from the smoke, but I think it is high enough that it doesn’t affect air quality on the ground. I hope your air quality improves!


  39. Yo, Chris – The Romans (and other people … Egyptians, etc.) sieved ground flour through cloth, to get finer and finer flour. For the gentry 🙂 . That’s really interesting about your “wild” wheat, showing up. You may be developing your own landrace variety, tailor made for your corner of the world.

    We had just a bit of rain, and I think the musty house smell was a combo of the wood smoke and damp. Houses, wood houses, go to wrack and ruin, pretty fast, if you can’t keep the damp out.

    Maybe DJ will have an opinion on the Zester apples. I’ll have to check at my local veg store, to see if they’ve got some in. Some of the articles I read seemed to think consumers were “tired” of the old varieties. But I also saw some opinions that the quality went down, as the apples “aged.” The trees and what they produced, not the individual apples. I’ve noticed I’ve really got to be careful, not to get apples that have “water cores.” Probably not a real problem, and I doubt it effects the nutritional value of the apple. Must be one of those First World Problems? 🙂 . But the texture is kind of mushy, and, they look like hell. Water cores are something new. I’d never noticed them before a couple of years ago. Hmmm. I need to do a bit of research, on that.

    Parts of Florida are getting 4 months of rain, in four hours. The air is still filthy, here, but for the first time in a week, I can see the freeway traffic. Judging by the flag, we’re getting more breeze from the ocean. After a week, the library re-opened yesterday. I told them, “Welcome back! Again.” They said they had to close, because their H Vac was pulling smoke into the building. As of 8 this morning, the White Pass Highway, is still closed. But maybe things are getting better. Closed except for “local and recreational traffic. No through traffic.”

    Here’s a couple of harrowing (and uplifting) tales from the Oregon fires.



    The “Roofing the Church” print, is on the way. I’ll probably get it, early next week.

    I watched an interesting, new documentary, last night. “The Booksellers.” How the antiquarian book business has changed. Does it have a future. What it was like, in the past. Due to the interweb, the thrill of the hunt, is pretty much gone. As one dealer said, give me your credit card and 45 minutes, and I can probably get you first editions of every book written by Edith Wharton. There’s also a bit about the future of the book, in general, and preservation.

    But, there are a few hopeful things. There are some young people going into the business. The famous photographer, Fran Lebowitz related, that when she rides the subway, the people reading on their book devices, are in their 40s. The people she sees reading “real” books are in their 20s.

    Monthly Magic Food Boxes, come tomorrow. Need to clean out the fridge and check out the pantry. Lew

  40. Chris,

    Given problems with your coffee machine seem to pop up regularly on this blog, I feel duty bound to inform you of a device called the Aeropress. Dead easy to clean, no electricity required (except to heat the water) and there’s an entire subculture online of how to use it to extra the maximum flavor. I’ve had mine for about five years now and it’s only just getting to the point of needing replacing.


  41. Hi Inge,

    You know, I’ve never attempted to freeze mushrooms so I defer to your experience in this matter. Have you ever attempted to grow your own mushrooms? I’ve tried growing oyster mushrooms in a kit form, but the kit costs as much as if I just went to the supermarket and purchased them. Many things are like this. However, this might be an area to look into once all of the many infrastructure projects here are all done. Surely it can’t be all that hard an activity?

    I get that about stuffed marrows as they are rather large vegetables. We use the excess flowers and stuff the flowers and then bake them. It is a very tasty way to eat flowers and I highly recommend it.

    Ah, a glorious day of no structured activities lies in front of you, and then… 🙂 Beetroot is a fave of mine and we have a small patch of the plants growing. The plants germinated in early autumn and survived the winter and have only just begun growing again – but they have a serious head start on the growing season. The radish and brown onions on the other hand are going gang busters. I look forward to seeing how the onions grow as they were all started from seed. I read somewhere recently which suggested that onion seed does not stay viable for more than a season.

    Painted the greenhouse timber frame today. It rained at about lunchtime, and so a little bit of the paint washed off. Oh well, the sun shone later in the afternoon but the humidity was something else. 99% humidity is hard work.



  42. Hi Pam,

    Ah, in the cartoon when the character Captain Haddock first arrives on the scene, he has his own demons riding him hard, and his ships first mate is taking advantage of him in that condition. The little scrawny ginger character with the Mohawk soon sets things to rights and they become good mates. How is that for a précis? It has been a very long time since I’ve read the cartoons. Where ever have the years gone? I must look behind the couch just in case they fell there. It’s possible!

    Yup, change is constant, I hear you. I’m coming around to the idea that ecosystems are far healthier if there is a continual and very random movement of minerals throughout the system. To try and keep things as they are seems to be a folly, although it does come from good intentions.

    Yes, Lewis did mention that timber prices have escalated in your part of the world. Honestly when I went to the timber yard I failed to take notice of the listed prices. So instead here is what I did. I dressed up in the most ratty looking clothes that I own, and went out of my way to be polite, helpful and agreeable to the guy that helped me in the timber yard with the cutting. Plus I asked for exactly what I was after with no dithering or dathering. And he gave me a 20% discount and indicated that if the boss hadn’t been standing next to him when he rung the picking list up he would have given me a better discount. We had a bit of a chuckle at that, and just accepted that things were as they were. 🙂 I suspect that the boss was mildly hard of hearing after having worked in such a place for so long.

    Doesn’t your son have a chainsaw milling rig? One day I might just get myself a proper portable timber milling rig. A couple of local manufacturers sell them. It might be hard to get that purchase past the editor though…

    Thanks and the greenhouse structure received a nice coat of gloss white paint today. Unfortunately it rained at lunchtime, but most of the paint was hard by that stage and only a little bit ran. Late this afternoon when the sun broke through the clouds, dried the timber and sent humidity way off the scale, a top up coat was applied to the bits that had run.

    Such a difficult situation and you may note that I have three separate asparagus beds to counter that awful situation. Pam, the asparagus spears are teasing you! It’s true, but you cannot eat them in their first year. When they die back in late autumn and look all yellow and crispy just cut them off. Next year. Sorry to say.

    So true. Yes, can imagine the mess that emus would create in the orchard with all that scratching around with force? And Ollie would be rather unsettled to discover a very large flightless bird and friends who would not put up with any of his nonsense. The two sheep dog girls, well let’s just say that they were bred to handle sheep and not massive emus. 😉

    Top work and I’m a big fan of bulbs as they survive all sorts of horrid climactic events.

    Hehe! My pleasure to entertain you.

    How is Mr Dumpy going? Is Mr Dumpy moveable under his own steam yet?



  43. Hi Damo,

    Hack is pretty good isn’t it? But I was just hoping that the bloke told things like they are, but no he got so close and then decided not to say such a thing at such a time. Softie. And the nice journo failed to ask the hard questions. Honestly I would have loved to have had a polite discussion with them that would have rocked their world, but I really suspect that they don’t want to hear it.

    And yes, some academic mentioned the ‘hydrogen’ economy. He sounded pretty smug too. I tell ya a funny story. Back in the day, there used to be a huge book store chain by the name of ‘Borders’. I loved the store as it was open to 11pm and we could walk there to the one in Carlton and just peruse the shelves at our leisure. Plus dinner on Lygon Street or perhaps a film at the Nova Cinema. Anyway, in about maybe 2006 or maybe it was 2007, I spotted a book in the shelves titled ‘After Oil’.

    I’d heard around the non mainstream media that conventional oil production peaked in about 2005, but really had no idea what that meant. So, me being me I decided to read more about the subject and far freakin out. Yeah, not good. Not apocalyptic, but all the same a right royal pain in the rear of a situation for civilisation.

    Anyway, one of the things I gleaned back in those days was that hydrogen takes slightly more energy to produce that you’ll get out of burning the stuff – as you are probably also aware. It is basically a losing proposition. Plus I learned just how difficult it is to store and handle the stuff.

    Now there is the interesting thing that came up in the conversation that the journo failed to ask questions about. I’ve known about that fertiliser story for a long time, and it is a really interesting story. It is also the reason I can keep squireling away organic matter into the soil because people see it as a waste product. But cutting through the rubbish what the bloke was saying was that we have to buy ourselves some time and this was the option that had been chosen. It is not a bad option.

    If it was me I would have mentioned the amusing advice provided by the doctor in The Chats most naughty song, The Clap. Mate, you’re… Nuff said! I’ve taken that saying on as a bit of a catchphrase but it unfortunately breaches the code of conduct for the blog so I can’t really say it. But on a more serious note I probably would have then gone on to elaborate a bit on just how dire things are, but that is me. Oh well. The population can handle the story.



  44. Hi Simon,

    The Aeropress looks like a pretty top notch unit, and if the creama produced is what is shown in the internet images, mate it’s a tidy unit that would produce a quality coffee.

    But your larger point is well taken. The Gaggia Classic espresso machine is now about 12 years old and has had maybe two minor repairs and one major overhaul, but it works as good as new and was designed with ease of repair in mind. From a design perspective it is a really interesting machine and the design has been unchanged for decades.

    However, you are correct and we do have a fall back position in the form of a Moka pot stove top machine – note two situations are handled in that arrangement – loss of Gaggia coffee machine + AND + loss of electric power. 😉

    Of course I can’t grow coffee here, but have tried. The plant actually grew really well until it snowed…

    But with the three to four tonnes of coffee grounds I get into the soil each year, I reckon with a bit of global warming it might just be possible at some unspecified point in the future. One has to think big and dream, methinks! 🙂



  45. Chris:

    There is a possibility that there is a decades old dust bunny behind the couch here. I am afraid to vacuum back there as I may have lost something in that spot, like my mind . . .

    You had a very good lumber yard experience and were clever to prepare ahead as you did.

    Yes, my son has a portable milling rig that he built, but it is not the super deluxe version that he was designing awhile back. He says that every time he thinks that he is through designing it a great new modification comes to mind, so it may be some time before that project is realized. Then there is Mr. Dumpy . . .

    The Mr. Dumpy project is going very well, but is not nearly finished. Each part has been removed and its rust, etc. is being ground off and then it is sealed. He rebuilding it to last another 20 years. It has 300,000 miles (483,000km) on it. Today he goes to our DMV to transfer the title and get its license plates. The appointment was made 3 months ago.


  46. Hi Lewis,

    That’s the plan with the wheat. I’m more growing the plants so as to select the best and hardiest varieties grown here and then replant them. There were three genetic sources too: One was commercially grown bread wheat; the other was a much taller organic certified seed; and the other was random wheat seed which the chickens had not consumed. I’m curious about landrace varieties of edible plants and have got quite a number of different plants falling into that category now. It gets easier over the years doing that too, unless you make an error and commit all of your seed and it fails, as happened with the watermelon last year. Not to worry, lesson learned there and I won’t repeat that disaster.

    Your timing is exceptional too as I noted an article in the news earlier today on this very subject: Seeds that survived drought hot commodity for new Gloucester Seed Savers group. A few years ago I used to frequent the local seed savers group, but then internal politics did very strange things to the group and it just sort of got strange and then there was a schism. I was personally gutted at all the strangeness and endless bickering but before the implosion the group provided me with many local contacts and also seeds that had been grown and saved in the area for decades, so it was good stuff regadless. There is another well established local plant group in the area, a Horticultural Society no less, but they don’t appear to be as interested in edible plants as I am and it is not for me to change their views on that matter. One of these days I’m going to have to re-establish a local seed exchange group, but the time is not yet ripe for such a thing.

    All true about timber houses in really humid climates. It’s a right pong of a smell too! Of course having seen Victorian era housing where I vividly recall replacing the flooring timber sub structure where all that was left to be seen of the hardwood timber bearer (originally a four by four inch hardwood beam) was a dark line in the clay. The timber floor had of course collapsed and the whole lot had to be replaced. The funny thing was though that the original construction just didn’t allow enough air circulation under the timber floors and so humidity was constantly high and the timbers were rotten.

    I tell ya though despite that, it was seriously hard work removing clay that had been in place for over a hundred years under the floorboards. I removed enough clay so that the air space was much larger and so the floor timbers stayed dry. I could have just replaced the timbers and stumps and nobody would have noticed, but why not fix the underlying problem for just that little bit of extra effort and hassle?

    Anyway, I’m rabbiting on, but damp problems in building structures is not unknown to me and in this house I used timbers treated with a pretty nasty combination of Copper, Chrome and Arsenic. So even if the timber does get a bit damp from time to time, fungi won’t get a chance to eat them because the timber is toxic as.

    It sounds like a good story, but I doubt the average consumer could tell the difference between one apple variety and another. Fruit trees take a lot of feeding – and I really do mean a lot of organic stuff needs to get chucked onto the soil for the trees to eat. I doubt many orchards keep up with the trees requirements and commercial orchards send the minerals away in the form of produce and that lot usually ends up in the ocean. It’s a bonkers story that won’t end well, but I guess blaming the tree variety is an old story. Newer and smaller trees are possibly less demanding and the new trees will feed off the soil organisms that are eating the remaining roots of the old trees, so productivity will increase – for a while. Mushy apples or powdery apples are not very nice to consume. It is possible the soils are being played out.

    4 months of rain in 4 hours is an horrendous experience. 10 to 20 inches of rain is bad enough, but 35 inches is horrifying.

    At least the library is now open, and it is possible the smoke may have damaged the contents of the building?

    Yes, Hillbilly culture is alive and well down here too – and you know what: If the authorities can’t get to your assistance during a crisis and other long term locals who know the area better can, then the authorities best get out of the way: NSW bushfires being tackled by locals taking firefighting into their own hands. Yup, same, same but different. Don’t you reckon it is just part of an emergent culture where large centralised responses are just unable to cope during extreme events?

    The thing with the fires which I really don’t understand – and it happens down here too: How many epic failures do you need to face before the authorities change tack on forest management? It just seems bizarre to hang onto failed ideology and practices when time after time it goes horribly wrong. Makes no sense to me at all. How bad does it need to get before change can even get a look-in at the table?

    Whatever, we continued cleaning up the surrounding forest today. Me tired. It is hard work I’ll tell ya, the mess the loggers left behind is no small problem. Oh well, life wasn’t meant to be easy.

    We also painted the timber frame for the greenhouse today. Unfortunately a small rain shower fell at lunchtime and 1/10th of an inch fell. A little bit of the paint washed off the timber frame, but the sun shone later in the afternoon and dried the structure and we repainted those sections. But the humidity…

    Both articles on the fire were really good to read. Interesting and you always learn things.

    Good to hear that you purchased the print and hopefully the seller was good to their word and sends further information on the artist?

    Fran Leobwitz is an interesting person, no doubts about it. As usual you force me to use my brain :-). I believe that you may have meant Annie Leibovitz? Hmm? Hehe! Nice one. Both very interesting and extraordinarily talented people.

    There has been more interest in actual physical books of late, and to be candid, after this time of craziness has passed I have an odd notion that people might be not as excited about screen time as they once were. It is a bit like the plot from the film Brewster’s Millions… I cannot read books via a screen – there is something visceral about reading a novel in its physical format and the screen doesn’t work for me.

    Whatever will be in the magic food boxes? So much mystery there. Hope the stuff is good.



  47. @ Lew,

    The zestar apples are interesting. They have a mix of tangy and sweet. I’ve enjoyed eating a few of them. The dehydrated fruit is sweet, but that’s true of every apple variety I’ve dried.

    We get the water core problem in the supermarkets sometimes, and have for years. Here’s an article about it. The best part is on page 4 where it says “Factors Affecting Watercore”. https://www.canr.msu.edu/uploads/files/Watercore_in_apples.pdf


  48. Chris,

    Drenching and flooding versus drought and thick smoke…Neither extreme is pleasant! Maybe a bit of rain in the forecast, but likely less than 10mm. The system should clear out the smoke, though.

    Bwahahaha “These go to eleven”. Oh thanks, I needed a good laugh! So air particulates greater than 500AQI “go to eleven”? This has a large range of possibilities. What happens in the rare cases in which 42 isn’t the answer? “These go to eleven.” What happens on the 5:00 p.m. tv news if they don’t cover all of the topics? “These go to eleven.” Endless possibilities here.

    I had to meander outside a bit Thursday evening. Walking slowly for a few hundred metres was about the extent and was Not Fun. But, the neighbors mentioned that they noticed prowlers at the house next door in the middle of the day, so several of us are keeping an extra watch. House has been vacant since the very aged gentlemen died last December. Family is still sorting through over 50 years of accumulation…Oh, and the prowler was cheeky enough to say to a neighbor, “Oh, I thought this was an abandoned house with a ton of free stuff lying about.”

    Other than cougars, which seem to have no fear, I’ll take the beasties that can tear me limb from limb and skip the poisonous thingies. Unless surprised, most of these limb-tearing beasties have an “If you leave me alone, I’ll leave you alone” mentality. We’ve got rattlesnakes near here, and the occasional scorpion in the desert areas, but nothing like so venomous as what you have to be aware of.

    Yes, the entire Richard III and the the events after the death of Edward IV were definitely a hornet’s nest. We’ll never really know exactly what happened. Bosworth Field itself was a royal cluster, wasn’t it? Very curious battle with the Stanley faction just off on the sidelines watching, watching, watching…

    In one sense, Elizabeth of York is something of a tragic figure. On the other hand, she made the most of the situation after marrying Henry VII and things turned out fairly well for her. Her genius was in staying in the background. Catherine of Aragon? More active and trying to play for the long view. Hers was an unenviable situation.

    Yes, there are greenhouses here. Some people have small ones in their yards. Most nurseries have large ones so that they can get an early start on plants to sell.

    Late April and May rains here often turn the ground yellow from the evergreen pollen that gets washed out of the air. Yellow puddles look as appealing as yellow snow.

    We have a couple pipes that need cleaning out occasionally. I had an easy access port placed into the most frequent offender and can send a snake down it. And the bathroom sink can get a clog because of a design flaw, but it’s an easy thing to remedy once every year or so – no snake, no chemicals, 10 minutes.


  49. Hi Chris,
    Yes I did have a couple of patches of native flowers at the old place. I started one here right away and add more plants each spring and fall. In fact I just picked up this fall’s batch. Doug’s bees did indeed enjoy the flowers particularly the stiff goldenrod https://www.wildflower.org/plants/result.php?id_plant=olrir

    I decided to join my sister of many husbands and her friend on a week end trip to New Glarus, WI also known as little Switzerland. Some would consider unsafe as I don’t know the friend. There are many people who basically won’t do anything as there’s a chance they could contract the virus.

    In other news, our neighbors next door with many children came over the other night to let us know that they are putting their house on the market today. Apparently they are purchasing his parent’s farm and it was kind of a sudden thing. So sudden in fact that they had just refinanced their home two weeks ago. The realtor said if they were going to sell do it now. Sad for us as they are good neighbors and who knows what we’ll get.

    We’re back to no rain again but at least the growing season is mostly over for most plants. The La Nina forecasted typically results in a colder winter with more snow. Just what we all need here while we’re sequestered in our homes.


  50. Yo, Chris – The article on the Gloucester seed exchange was really interesting. It’s a pity about your local seed exchange. “..endless bickering…” Never happens, around here 🙂 .

    Changes in soil color, and composition, is what archaeologists, look for. A fairly recent art. They used to just plow through everything. Amazing what you can tell from the remains of a post hole. 🙂 . Which only shows up as a circular, dark smear in the ground. Recently, an Anglo-Saxon cemetery has been excavated close by the Sutton Hoo ship burial. About the same time period. Two hundred, or so, graves. But no remains, due to the soil. All that’s left is what they’re calling “sand silhouettes.” Plenty of sturdier stuff left lying around, pots and such.

    They didn’t mention any damage to the contents of the library building. They probably shut down the HVAC, as soon as they realized there was a problem. Nothing I got smelled of smoke.

    That was quit an article about the locals fighting fires. Looks like Mr. Duffy, also catches rain water. NPR has an article called “DIY Firefighting.” But, it’s mostly a pod cast, and I’m just not a pod cast kind of a guy.

    How bad to things need to get? Over at Mr. Greer’s, someone linked to an article on 9/17, 11:17am. It’s from the NY Times. Now, I had no problem reading it. But the Times, does like their pay walls. Don’t know if you can see it or not.

    Well, you’ll be repainting that greenhouse, soon enough. Says the son of an old painter. Wait for a warm, low humidity day. Give it a lick with course sandpaper. Then paint. That will last a few years. Pealing paint looks like H E double hockey sticks. 🙂 .

    I got Fran Lebowitz’s occupation, wrong. It’s the writer. In sorting that out, I ran across a recent interview, with her. “Fran Lebowitz is Never Leaving New York.” The woman is as funny, as. Cranky and opinionated. And, clever.

    I noticed your talk about coffee, further up your comments. Atlantic Magazine just had an article about the current state of the coffee crops. “Coffee Rust is Going to Ruin Your Morning.”

    But what I’ll link to is another Atlantic article.


    It’s about supply lines.

    Well, the first round of Magic Food Boxes has arrived. Some interesting things. A jar of local honey (!). Noodles made out of garbanzo beans. Frozen ground turkey. Not many cans of vegetables or beans, this time. No canned diced tomatoes. A big box of cornflakes. A small container of “herbed tahini sauce.” A very bashed about tin of solid white tuna. A bag of dried fruit and nuts. A bag of fresh Italian plums (prunes). The ubiquitous box of mac and cheese. And, two boxes of crackers. (Do they call them crackers, down there?) The crackers are something different. Both old brands, that have been around, a long time. Triscuits, which are fairly healthy. Not much to them. They’re like a shredded wheat cracker. They used to just have one “flavor” and now there must be 20. I got “roasted garlic.” Which I’m sure have never seen a garlic bulb. Yup. Ingredients say “garlic powder.” The other cracker is something called “Chicken in a Basket.” Just as lethal and awful as it sounds. Wonder what will be in the second round of boxes, this afternoon? Lew

  51. Hi Pam,

    Dust bunnies have most certainly been sent by aliens to conduct subtle tests upon the limits of our abilities. I’m thinking that if the dust bunnies can’t be seen, they don’t exist – and best not to alert the aliens as to the extent of our true skills, but give them pause to ponder.

    Thanks, and I am an old hand at the gentle art of living up to others expectations. We get that story all the time, and people tell us we could make more money doing this or that. And I’m assuming that this is the case because we do lots of manual labour around the property or seek to reduce our outgoings by doing unexpected things like driving vehicles other than status displays, so it is no hardship at all to give them what they want. You could suggest that it comes naturally. 😉

    Ah, I see. Of course. I tend to be of the opinion that there is no easy way to use a chainsaw to mill timber if only because the chain is not so designed for that particular job, although there are hardened ripping chains which are bonkers hard to sharpen. However, this does not imply that it will not do the job, it is just going to be problematic. The ones I’ve seen have oil stations attached to the mill which is not a bad idea.

    Mr Dumpy is a good idea and I’ll be interested to hear how the project continues. Given the complexity of the job it is probably not best to take it too fast. And restoration will teach far more and better skills than simple assembly ever would. Oh yeah.

    Had some sad news tonight, an old friend passed on unexpectedly this morning. We hadn’t spoken for a dozen years, but still it’s sad. Oh well.



  52. Hi Margaret,

    Nice score with the chicken of the woods. Actually the first time I’d heard of such a thing was on the UK show River Cottage – a delightful and quirky modern day take on Walden (the first and maybe second series of the show that is). I didn’t fail to notice that the same species of fungus grows on eucalyptus trees, but unfortunately like many of the fungi here is toxic as. It seems unnecessarily cruel to be surrounded by so many lethal things…

    You know I never thought to freeze mushrooms. Interesting, and also one of the reasons I enjoy the blog and chucking around all the different ideas and suggestions.

    Have you ever tried growing mushrooms?

    An old mate of mine died suddenly today. Dunno how I feel about it all, but mostly sad. We hadn’t spoken for about a dozen years, but still. Ain’t life a funny thing huh?



  53. Chris:

    I am awfully sorry to hear about your friend passing. It doesn’t matter if you have seen them for a long while, or necessarily even had contact with them, it is still sad to lose someone who meant something to you.


  54. Hi DJ,

    10mm of rain is always welcome – and most certainly will clear the smoke. Incidentally, 10mm of rain falling on the garden is far more than you could ever water from the garden taps – maybe? You’d probably be lynched in Melbourne for trying such a comparison experiment!

    It’s pretty funny that 11 business. Such an adaptable joke, and whilst the film it came from was very silly, the cultural reach of the film was huge. Unfortunately I didn’t find the film funny because I was thinking to myself: What, aren’t muso’s like that? Probably not, but in my defence I saw the film a long time ago. The other notable scenes were the polystyrene Stonehenge and also the managers excellent use of the cricket bat (proving that it is a handy tool).

    Wow, that is some cheek to have not at least dissembled. But then the prowler was so transparent that at least you’re not left wondering at his possible intentions. You have to admit that practical concerns aside, this does make life somewhat easier!

    Second best is not to be lightly dismissed. In support of this claim I will note that the Eastern brown snake being only the second deadliest in the world is still not to be trifled with. Mate, the snakes scare the daylights out of me – for good reason. I try not to disturb them. I have a bite kit here, just in case. It won’t treat the bite, just slow the spread of the venom. That’s what I call money well spent.

    History is, as has been noted elsewhere by finer brains than ours, written by the victors. 😉 Scritchy the former boss dog used to wait on the sidelines to see who was winning the fight before committing her resources to the fray. Given she got to 19 years old it was possibly a winning strategy. Your media would do well to learn that lesson – that is what the word ‘objectivity’ means, and they may or may not have heard of it. 😉

    Continued work on the greenhouse today. It’s a big job… And not finished…

    Oh no, now I have a yellow snow ear worm – thanks for that.

    Yeah, I wasn’t complaining about the sink drain and like your experience it was a 10 minute job. Maybe it annoys me because the underlying problem could be so easily rectified. We’re not allowed to do our own plumbing, unless it is agricultural.

    Heard tonight that an old mate of mine died today. He was one of the guys who took me under their wing and taught me how to rubbish on with the best of them. It’s a skill after all. We fell out a dozen years ago. I have complicated feelings about it all. But due to the craziness due to the health subject which dare not be named, I most definitely won’t get to the funeral which is a bit poop and all rather unfair. Oh well. What do you do?



  55. @Chris and @Pam

    Chainsaws are not the best for milling, but they can get the job done – and at the end of the day, isn’t that the point? I visited this shipyard last year, and most of the ship frames were cut using an Alaskan chainsaw mill, or motorbike engine powered rotating ship saw. Great stuff 🙂


    On the same trip, I also saw a Resplendent Queztal, but that is hardly related to the relative merits of differing milling tech!


  56. @Chris and @DJ

    I think I told this story already, but just in case, who will begrudge me a repeat?

    In the old days, the local inhabitants of this fine continent had a unique way of dealing with snake bites. The victim would lie down, stay calm, and let his/her friends build a small shelter overhead, leave some food and get on with it. Don’t worry about bandages, amputating limbs or sucking the venom. Just stay calm and try to deal for a week or so. You will either live or not! Who knows, the snake might have being having an off day and didn’t inject much venom in the first place? In lieu of anti-venom (which doesn’t always work), probably not a bad strategy. I will also note, in my short 40 years of life, I have being told at least 3 different “official” techniques for dealing with snakebite at various first aid courses. This suggests no one really knows the “best” way to deal with snake bites and makes me think the old ways are probably OK. /Shrug, I have seen countless deadly snakes, but none have tried to bite me, and Mrs Damo has literally trod on 3 different ones, and she is still kicking, demanding I bring her drinks on the couch….


  57. Hi Chris,

    I never would have guessed you stumbled onto Greer via a Borders book store! Wonders never cease. To be honest, I can’t recall how I got there, but I did read the entire content of “do the math” (a great series BTW) sometime around 2012:
    Which I think got me onto Greers blog at some point maybe? Does it matter? The timescale is so long (decades at least, probably 80+ years for us lucky westerners) that I do wonder at the actual benefit of this knowledge. Ultimately, it is better to be living the dream then in the right. At least, 20 years of motorbike riding taught me that, and you only have to be wrong once….

    Hydrogen is a joke, its only purpose to provide fancy air transport options to our 1% betters in the years to come. Any other consideration is bordering on the useful idiots territory, but maybe I am too harsh?

    Perth is great so far, but I tell you, the wind is terrific strong here on the coast in Spring! Our house is double brick/concrete floors, so everything is solid as, but I am still looking forward to the more settled months 🙂


  58. Hi Lewis,

    Only those who have experienced the complicated and often fraught emotions of a small community group will know just how crazy things can get from time to time without firm rules in place and a gentle hand to administer them. I kid you not the beginning of the end for the group was apparently an odd innocuous issue of wearing aprons at the farmers market. All very strange, and any group I’m part of now, I gently squash strangeness like that from getting larger than life or any traction. And if the issue is important I check to see if there is a quorum and then take an immediate vote and then move on. Only experiencing serious loss drove that lesson home hard. And losing that group was hard. The actuality was good, but the potential was great.

    Oh, the Sutton Hoo ship was amazing and I took a brief rabbit hole dive into the most fascinating digs. It’s always a bit eerie to think that in the far distant future historians and archaeologists will be discussing us lot as a time of myth and impossible mystery.

    I always listen to Mr Kunstler’s and Mr Greer’s podcasts, but other than that – who has the free time? Far out! I know far more about collecting and using rain water than I possibly should.

    Speaking of which, work on the greenhouse project continued today. It’s looking good, but nowhere near finished. It is the smallest shed we’ve built, but also the most complicated shed. And we’re dodging rain storms and trying to get the building finished so as to make use of it. Next weekend looks like a total write off due to the wet weather, but we’ll see how it goes.

    Thanks for mentioning the link, and I’ll see how I go. Today has been crazy. I heard tonight that an old mate of mine died suddenly this morning. So he was one of the two mates who took pity on me as a late teenager and taught me how to talk a whole bunch of rubbish with ease. We were very good mates, but a dozen years ago there was a massive schism due to most of that friendship group getting lost for three years in online computer games. I can say with a clear conscience that in no way was I involved in that debacle, however I was collateral damage and admittedly even my patience doesn’t extend to three years. Sometimes bad things just happen. Anyway, in some ways they did me a favour as it was just another reason to move up here and do something different with my life without having to be weighed down. But now, I guess we’ll never be able to reconcile any differences – I did try too over the years, but he’d made his mind up and I could respect that. Honestly I dunno how I feel about it all. My feelings are a bit complicated, and I was upset before, but you know what do you? Can’t see as I can go to the funeral due to restrictions relating to the health subject that dare not be named. Life just is tragic, and that is how it rolls. I accept that reality.

    Thanks for the correction, but both are fascinating individuals. Ah yes, Fran is rather a cheeky sort and I appreciated the many pithy quotes attributed to the author. Aren’t we all a bit difficult every now and then? 🙂

    Oh yeah, I’ve been watching that coffee story for quite a while. The farmers are moving up in altitude and to fertile areas so as to produce the coffee crops. You know where the minerals are ending up? Some of it ends up here – crazy stuff. It’s bonkers to think that the minerals aren’t returned to the coffee farmers. That story has never ended well – anywhere, or at any time. Not possible. It is interesting that the fertiliser story was raised as an important necessity with the reality that new gas projects are going to get started soon. We might be the number one gas exporter on the planet, but we also appear to have over committed on that front. Oh yeah.

    Oh I read the apple water core thing too (over your shoulder sorry – I’m an unashamed busy body) and noted that over use of some fertilisers was also part of the story. Yes, 1 is good. 4,000 must be awesome! 🙂

    Thanks for the alarming article on supply lines (my last free one for the month apparently). Mate I smell the finger prints of the land of stuff in this story. Something really weird took place in your trade negotiations late last year. It was like a switch was flicked, then nothing was ever quite the same again.



  59. Hi Margaret (again),

    Sorry my brain is not so good!

    Stiff Goldenrod looks like one of those hard working plants that punch above their weight in the garden – and it’s a daisy!

    Far out. I see all sorts of responses too, and in between all of the fear we kind of have to remember that we need to also live. I dunno what to think and just keep on going knowing that something is going to get me sooner or later.

    Sorry to hear that your neighbours are going. Ouch! I don’t really mention it but I’m growing a thick hedgerow on one of the boundaries. I like the neighbours, but you never know if they may sell.

    Make sure you keep a gas tank full for the generator – and have plenty of firewood to hand. I’m seeing a lot of err, upstairs issues, all around the place due to confinement at homes. We are a social species after all.



  60. Hi Chris
    Sept 19,2020

    Yea! The smoke is gone from here ! 6:00am 60 degrees F, 3 mph wind ,0.1 inch rain over night, visibility 10 mi , air quality index 28 , air quality GOOD. DONT COME BACK ,!?

    Sorry about your friend passing. The lock down on services complicates feelings and their expression
    to the survivors. We always appreciate cards and notes received at such times, Seems true for others too.?

    The green house vent / temp control sure has a lot of choices and options. I lean towards the automatic thermal expansion mechanical sort.
    One scenario I haven’t seen covered is rapid closure of openings in sudden downpour where wind driven rain could could flood out some important plantings.
    First brainstorm involves adapting the inflator from a self inflation life preserver. They use a rapid desolving when immersed in water chemical pellet that opens a spring operating compressed gas cylinder . The gas release could run an actuating device to close the vent panels. The pellet could be wet by water from a self dumping collector similar to that in a rain gauge. There is probably some thing along that line already available, simple is usually best?

    Cheers Al

  61. Chris,

    It’s my usual Weekend Hiatus, but you deserve a quick note. Sorry to hear about your mate. It sucks. Not being able to attend the funeral sucks. A friend from the job is in a coma and will not last through the weekend. He and I saw things differently, which allowed us to have large positive influences on one another. And he helped the Princess through a difficult time, also. Meaning…I have a good idea how you’re feeling and you have my deepest condolences.


  62. Hello again
    I have long given up trying to grow mushrooms. Passed a house which I had sold many years back and saw that the fruits of my labour had finally grown. It had taken them 12 years to appear. Fungi are very interesting! Son has also had no success.
    I finally replanted asparagus this year after many years without. They have done wonderfully and so I’ll be able to pick in moderation next year.
    I am sorry to hear of the loss of your past friend. It still causes a pang even if one is no longer in contact. Most of my past is no longer around and I never stop missing them.


  63. Hi Chris,

    My condolences on your friend’s death, especially considering the complications of the falling out and being out of touch for so many years as a result. And that which can’t be named doesn’t make things easier by causing you to be reluctant to attend the funeral. I hope the good memories of your mate will be a comfort to you in the days ahead.

    While we were in Florida, my brothers and I discussed having a memorial service for our mother. My siblings’ employers all offer bereavement time off, but it has to be used within six months, meaning before the end of next February. The unmentionable health issue will still be with us by then. The official recommendation in the US is to do memorial services online, but that leaves out our human need to be with each other at times like this. We are leaning toward an in-person service. It would be outside, under a pavilion at the cemetery, in Florida at the time of the year when the weather is favorable there for being outside. My guess is that the infection rate will be lower then in Florida than it is now. But all of us will be coming from places with cold winters, and it’s not as if we won’t be together indoors at times. In the end, I’m with Margaret; you can’t stop living because of a virus that the people you are with or exposed to may or may not be carrying, that may or may not successfully infect you, and that may or may not make you sick enough to go to the hospital if it does.


  64. @ DJ – Thanks to the link to information on water cores, in apples. Good grief. All the things that can contribute to water cores, it’s a wonder that any apples, at all, make it to market without them! Lew

  65. Yo, Chris – So, the Great Apron Wars? Did it divide along political lines, like our mask hoop-la? 🙂 .

    I wonder if there will be historians and archaeologists, in the future. It takes a rich society, with a lot of slack, to cough up those kinds of careers. When I look at Roman ruins, there’s the stone robbing, and, sometimes, plowed furrows right through Roman mosaics. I’d say there was more interest, at those times, in getting something built or food on the table. Curiosity about the past is a luxury. Personally, I think it’s all rather sad. But, rationally, taking a broader view, needs must.

    Well, I’m sure you’ll get the greenhouse done, if the weather co-operates, or not. Patience, patience. I’m looking forward to seeing this weeks pictures. We had a steady drizzle, through the night and evening. I wonder if our autumn rains, are here? The air is so fresh and clean, now. About time! What did I say about patience? 🙂 .

    Sorry to hear about your mate. Maybe, unless he’s been scattered somewhere, when all this nonsense is over, you can visit his plot, and pay your respects. People drift out of our lives for a variety of reasons. Interests change, and people grow apart. Neglect. But, as long as you live, he’ll live in your memory. And I’m sure you’ll think of him from time to time.

    The afternoon food box was rather … uninspiring. The usual box of fruit and veg was a gallon of milk, two bags of potatoes, a bag of onions and a very sad pack of lettuce. Lots of cans of diced tomatoes. An off brand, but, not bad quality, at all. Lots of cans of pears. A couple of boxes of cereal, some shelf stable milk and a gallon jug of some kind of fruit juice. A bit of canned salmon. I took three boxes of stuff to the Club, this morning, for the pantry.

    Stopped by Shona’s cafe, to pick up a bit of “English” grub. A lamb pie with mint sauce, another onion and cheese square, and two pieces of shortbread. $30! Review to follow 🙂 .

    Well, my print of men fixing church roof, arrived yesterday. Quit nice and a bit larger than I expected. The seller included what little information he got from the dealer. Student of Thomas Hart Benton, lives in Silver Creek, Washington (maybe as), quit elderly. AND a phone number. Of course, I’m getting an attack of the shys, and I dread making a “cold call”. But I figure I will have worked up the nerve, by Tuesday. Here’s some other works by Gilbert, from the same gallery.


    Ignore the second print (though, it is nice). Not the same artist. I have the “Death on a Horse.” Gilbert has such a … different style, at different times. I wonder if he had an upset, and his stuff took a darker turn?

    I can (maybe) infer a couple of things. The gallery is in Arizona, and, judging from the other artists it carries, is quit upscale. I wonder if Gilbert is a “snowbird”. I don’t know if you have the equivalent in Australia. “Snowbirds” are oldsters who spend the summer up north, and the winters in the warmer south. Some just live in their RVs and travel back and forth. Some have homes in both places. Or, a home in one, and maybe a condo in the other. Depends on how much mad cash, they have. Lew

  66. Hi Damo,

    Too true about the chainsaws, and I reckon what you suggest applies to a lot of different machines and applications. One could suggest that a Suzuki Swift could at face value perform the same functions as a Porsche 911, yet one vehicle does the job with greater flair and panache! Personally I’d like to get my hands on a Lucas Mill, so if you are ever feeling generous… 🙂 Hehe!

    And yes, I too would have loved to have spent time on the ship construction. Those guys had vision – and some to spare. A sadly lacking thing these days.

    Mate, no you are just name dropping with the Resplendent Queztal, but yes I have to agree the parrots down under are good, but they ain’t that good are they? And kudos for your camera skills.

    No, feel free to repeat yourself. I do that all the time too thus hinting at an underlying creative bankruptcy whilst not quite being able to quite ever point the finger at it, but I tend to feel that good stories bear repeating and may indeed get better with the retelling. Let me tell you a story about the limits of renewable energy… Hehe!

    But yes, that is also my understanding of the original story with snake bites. Incidentally the amount of venom that the snakes inject can vary wildly so you could be lucky – like Mrs Damo has been. Please suggest to her not to push her luck in that matter too much as she is a lovely person and would be sorely missed.

    To jump on a 750cc motorcycle is to know that one is mostly in control of the 50 or so horsepower and ungawdly amounts of torque beating constrainedly beneath them. This does not imply that they can anticipate and control every moment of the experience. It’s a bit like life, you just have to hang on and try not to get into too much trouble – and hope for the best, but err, brace for impact..

    Actually the book from the Borders bookstore, which I candidly miss, made me receptive to Mr Greer’s narrative powers. It was actually my very old mate Ben who suggested that I’d enjoy the blog. And he was correct. Had a text message from him today too due to the current events.

    So true, I hear the stories of the hydrogen economy and think what a load of rubbish. Mate, it is hard to even store the stuff it is so tiny. A bit like capturing and storing electricity in that it leaks out everywhere. I’m yet to install the new lithium batteries but that story is only one of a lack of time. I’m reading of supply issues more and more. The land of stuff, well you have alluded to it.

    Hehe! Surely as an old salt, you’ve heard of this thing called the roaring forties, although I suspect the roaring thirties pack a solid punch too. It’s windy here today too.



  67. Hi Al,

    Ah yes, decent rain does wonders for smoke laden air. And spare a thought for me as the pollen count has been crazy off the charts and 1/4 inch of rain eased the underlying pollen induced headache today. Unfortunately the rain is also making the gentle art of completing projects more difficult. Life was not meant to be easy. 🙂

    Thanks and my old mate lived the life he wanted to live without regard to conventions and last evening I saluted his life with a most fine dark ale with an infusion of strawberry eucalyptus gum. I tend to feel he would have appreciated the gesture.

    Oh my! Al, I do appreciate your technical suggestions for the greenhouse but yeah, anyway, you’ll see the simple solutions I came up with to resolve the over temperature problems.

    Now honestly where were you when I wanted to blow up the huge rock just behind the house? The earthworks guy at the time of the house construction was suggesting to blow the rock up. I was all for blowing the mother up. And the editor, who it should be said has a cooler head suggested not doing so. But I tell ya, now she would have blown the rock up…



  68. Hi DJ,

    The weekend hiatus is a wonderful thing and I do hope that you put it to good use? Enjoying oneself after a stressful time like what you and your lady and her extended family have just been through is a nice way to re-engage with the world and all of its myriad challenges.

    Sorry to hear that your work mate may not survive the weekend. Mate, dunno about you, but acceptance of our limited time on this fine planet is perhaps a gentle nudge that we have to recall to live whilst we still enjoy such a state of being. It’s hard doing so, and of course it is not a guilt free philosophy, but still on an historical perspective you and I and your lady are probably batting far outside the usual batting average. That’s a reference to life as well as the gentlemanly and very English game of cricket which you may find to be profoundly unsettling. I mean how can one play a game for five days and still end up in a thrilling draw? Anyway the game is also a neat tie back to cricket bats which can be inordinately useful from time to time: Spinal Tap – Ian’s Cricket Bat.

    Just suggesting that your wood carving group might be onto something…



  69. Hi Inge,

    Like you I too have dabbled in growing mushrooms, but always the conditions were just somehow wrong. Instead of the fickle fungi being fun, I suspect that they are just fickle. Now interestingly it may be possible that the environmental conditions aren’t quite right here because I read about an old railway tunnel in the city of Hobart which is in the island state of Tasmania which is used to grow mushrooms. Not sure at all that I could replicate those particular circumstances: Historic Tunnel Hill railway tunnel for lease, though owner says it ‘wouldn’t be a great place to live’.

    I’ve been wondering whether I need to construct what is known in the US as a spring house, or down here as a cool store. Dunno.

    Thank you, and life is getting that way for me too. The memory always remains. I understand.



  70. Hi Claire,

    Thank you for the kind words. Ah, things are different here. You appear to have guidelines in place, whilst we have inflexible laws. I would happily attend the funeral, the powers that be have other plans in store and attendance is down to very limited numbers on threat of massive fines. Things are very strange down here right now.

    Yes, that is my understanding of the health subject which dare not be named too, in that it will be with us next year. Last evening I made a few phone calls and was confronted by the sheer psychic wall of grief and I tell ya the depth of shared pain was deep. But I live by my own advice and remembered to continue to live today albeit with the tragedy which has occurred. As I’ve mentioned to you I’ve known tragedy intimately in the past and acknowledge the part it plays in our lives. It is more of a companion, and less of a threat, although that is my own personal view.

    I applaud your philosophical stance in the subject and likewise agree. How else could it be? All I know is that something sooner or later will take each and every one of us out, and I have seen people fearfully keeping at bay all manner of improbable phantoms yet it was to no ultimate benefit and something out of left field did the final act of indignity.

    Caution is the path of wisdom, fear, well I don’t know how well that measures up.



  71. Hi Lewis,

    The apron thing was so weird. And whilst you are being funny, and I applaud your humour, it actually split on gender lines. The older guys in the group just didn’t want to wear the aprons at the farmers market. The group sold saved seeds at the market in order to finance purchases of new and interesting varieties of plants, and it was such a neat system. The combined local experience of the members was bonkers to have lost. Alas, aprons appear to have been the body blow. I’d never encountered such a thing before in action, but I have zero tolerance for such nonsense nowadays. And the matter never got settled due to what I believe was a social status seeking opportunity for the person agitating for the change. And interestingly the person who made the original apron suggestion never went to a single meeting of the group. I’d never before encountered such a carry on and had been with the group for many years. It was a sad loss, but what do you do?

    Too true, and perhaps the current lack of interest in the past is indicative of the general decline in real wealth in society. The history education I received was appalling with the single exception of the convict era which was taught with great care. The subject discussed many actual examples of convicts and the sort of lives they lived. It was interesting for me because the subject delved into great detail as to their day to day lives. Fortunately that made the essay writing for exams easy as, because all I had to do was recount stories within context. It was a pleasure. Now the subject of English was something altogether different and to this day I still don’t know what they wanted with a creative essay. I could do creative writing, but clearly this was not what was required. Space lizards could possibly do creative writing as well… Bonkers, it was like the teachers were holding some sort of secret just out of plain sight. It was a bit like saying we want this, but we’re not going to tell you what is required. A truly stupid way of teaching if they don’t want genuine creativity. Pah, Philistines!

    Finishing things is all part of the gentle art of gumption. 🙂 I kid you not the building is almost telling us how it should be constructed. So weird. A lot of work has gone into the project this week, although the details are hard to see, but believe me they are there. We even adjusted the windows ever so slightly so that they worked better in the overall pastiche. Patience is a nice thing, but finishing is good too. Mate, I’m torn…

    Yeah, well that is true about my mate. He ain’t going anywhere any time soon. The coroner has him at the moment, and of course they are testing for the health subject which dare not be named. Gawd I hope not to hear that a man in his late forties died due to… The media has been all over that stuff. Now your words had an effect, and introduced a possibility into my brain. Well done. So, I planted an oak tree today as a memorial. A few words were spoken over the little oak seedling – which was pilfered, which my mate would have approved of – and I tend to believe that this was an appropriate gesture. I’ll tell you more about that story tomorrow and introduce you to my mate, who possibly is unable now to be offended by the story? The past is always with us, and ever has it been thus. Are we not the aggregation of the experiences – good and bad – to date?

    Beware the sad lettuce. Lettuce generally does not come packed in plastic – hashtag just sayin. Hang onto those cans of tomatoes as they may be in short supply soon due to your smoky autumn.

    No, don’t think of it as $30 extravaganza, think of it as many excellent meals which go to support a food artist. Gourmet pies down here are $9.50 each, so yeah food in your country is notably cheaper than here. I look forward eagerly to your review.

    The works by Gilbert were excellent. And the young lady in the wheelchair with the horrendous devil overlooking her was excellent. I had to take a long hard look at the print so as to determine her age, and it was the thick hair which was a give away that she was not old, and yet also infirm. Also the wheelchair was of the sort that the author Thomas Harris would have wangled into a nightmare inducing story. There is a dark story there, but can you ask such a thing? Maybe also the artists was using the darkness as a mirror to the subjects who are all clearly living?

    Ah yes, down here ‘snowbirds’ are known as ‘grey nomads’. I’ve seen stickers on such vehicles proclaiming that they are spending their kids inheritance, and the folks might be being more honest than they realise. Back in the late 90’s when we travelled around this massive continent in a little hatchback and a tent, we encountered mostly grey nomads and younger French and German tourists and that was about it. Back in those days the roads were quiet, as they probably are nowadays.

    Better get writing, it’s almost 9pm… Ook. My report card at school might have suggested that: Chris is a good student, but he is easily distracted. Not true from a literal perspective, but I do take their point. 🙂



  72. Hi Chris,

    Yes, I forgot about your current inflexible laws regarding gatherings, and I apologize for that. Most of the US went through that inflexibility last spring, and in some places well into the summer and maybe even now. Being unable to be together at such times is the worst effect of the pandemic, as you are experiencing and others have experienced. My family is a little more fortunate that my mother died in summer. With luck, we will be able to hold an in-person memorial service, but that is not guaranteed by any means. The plans we make may be overtaken by events, and we may find ourselves in your place. I am deeply sorry for both your friend’s death and your inability to mourn it properly due to the legal prohibitions on gatherings.


  73. Yo, Chris – In some ways, the apron wars do remind me of our mask wars. I think I mentioned, that early on, the only people I saw without masks (besides me) were old guys. 🙂 . Same, same, but different. As far as the person who made the original suggestions, it seems like there’s a variety of person who is really, really good at sowing dissension, and moving on. Spreading light and joy to other people.

    I figured out early on, that to get a good grade, one needed to suss out what the teacher had in mind, when making an assignment. Sometimes, it felt like charades. “How many syllables? Bigger than a bread box, but smaller than an elephant? Animal, vegetable, or mineral?” And then parrot it back. That’s what all the “grinds” were doing, hanging around the teacher’s desk, after class. Searching for clues.

    That’s a very fine gesture, to plant an oak in memory of your mate. Your watering technique may help work off any lingering hard feelings of him shuffling off his mortal coil, too soon. 🙂 . A bit of anger, or, just generally being a bit miffed at people departing, is all part of grief.

    The plastic bag with the lettuce has small holes in it. But, I think I’ll have a big salad, pretty soon. Tomatoes (not mine) from the garden. Etc..

    Well, the search for Gilbert is going to be interesting. Even if he’s not still alive, and compos mentis, I have a few avenues of inquiry. There’s a pretty well organized local artists group, that has a studio “art trails” event, every year. Sadly cancelled, this year. And, maybe the local historical society might have something. I pulled together all my Thomas Hart Benton books, last night. Some students were mentioned (most notably, Pollock), but not Gilbert. But then, Benton had two long stints teaching, and had hundreds of students. And, all the assistants that helped him work on his murals.

    I think I like the term “grey nomads”, better than “snowbirds.” Just sounds more bad-assed and ominous. Kind of post apocalyptic. 🙂 . We also see those bumper stickers, here, about inheritance and spending. It was funny on first sight …

    Eleanor’s grand daughter is one of the caregiver/helpers here. But not for her grand mother. Nepotism, and all that. She had a baby, not long ago, and another is on the way. The first time around, we had a running joke, that I had watched every episode of “Call the Midwife”, so I was fully qualified to deliver her baby, if she went into labor, here at the Institution. 🙂 . I saw her the other day, and told her I had just finished watching season nine, so I was fully re-certified. She said when people ask her where she’s having her baby, she says “Grandma’s house!” They named the first one Odin. Wonder if they’ll stick with the Norse theme?

    The Atlantic Magazine had two articles about “you know what” and the coming winter. They’re just too grim to link to.

    H gets her bath and trim, this afternoon. Lew

  74. Good evening

    There is a rather good Persian saying which applies to the tragic tale of the seed-saving group that disintegrated due to one person’s suggestion:

    ‘A dog thrown in destroys even a pool of the purest rose-water.’

    I’m aware that still owe you my discovery related to Ollie, coming soon.

    Sir Sancho the Hairy and Bold (and Smoochie) bids me sends a message particularly for Ruby and Plum:

    ‘Hola, girls!’

    That’s it. He’s a bit of a rogue. I don’t think they should pay any attention and he should not be encouraged in the least…..

    All the best


  75. PS

    From Sir Richard Burton’s (the explorer, not the actor) ‘The Kasidah’:

    ‘Friends of my youth, at last Adieu!

    Haply some day we’ll meet again,

    But Time shall make us other men…..

    Cease, Man, to weep and wail;

    Enjoy the shining hour of sun!

    We dance along Death’s icy brink;

    But is the dance less full of fun?’


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