Ruby Chewsday

“Who’s the best cattle dog of them all? It’s you!” So true. It was awkward and a little bit embarrassing to hear Chris singing his silly song to me whilst Plum and Ruby were hanging around. But I love it all the same. It is so very true, I am the best cattle dog of all, although technically I’m meant to be more interested in pigs than cattle. And on the farm there are actually no pigs or cattle, so my ‘best ever’ title stands undefeated. Who cares about the details anyway? Cattle are boring creatures. Have you ever spoken with a cow? Give it a go sometime – they’re dull as. All they go on about is epic whinge-fests like : ‘this grass doesn’t have enough protein content’. Go tell a dog that cares, you boring cows.

On the other hand I am a superb specimen of a Bull Arab, or otherwise known as an Australian pig hunting dog. How I ended on the farm is a strange story. The most awful folks at the animal shelter tried to pass me off as an Australian cattle dog – which I am most certainly not. I was a young pup stuck in a concrete cage, and my winning smile and accommodating attitude impressed Chris and the Editor. And here I am today enjoying life on the farm as the erstwhile boss dog.

Ouch! What the heck, girl! Far out, that hurt. Ruby, did I not tell you that it is not OK to t-bar other canines? Especially when said canines are enjoying the benefits of the ‘best cattle dog ever’ song, combined with the excellence of the double fluff scritch technique. You little rascal, I’ll get you.

Despite the threats and subsequent chase, I didn’t manage to get Ruby, and so gave up in disgust. She’s fast for a sheep dog. I do try to be the boss dog here. Ruby the sheep dog has other plans. What those plans are, I have no idea, but mark my words there are definitely plans brewing, and they don’t involve sheep. There being no sheep on the farm. But plans, there are plans aplenty that’s for sure. However, the latest t-bar-mid-song-and-scritch incident only causes me to wonder what those plans are, and whether my boss dog position is secure.

Here’s me and my posse of sheep dog girls:

Ollie, Ruby and Plum pose for a photo

Me and my girls have our work cut out for us on the farm, and in between sleeps and feeds, we are very busy canines. No deer, no rabbits, no foxes and definitely no rats. Destroying them is our job, and we do a fine job of it, if I must say so.

When there are no proscribed critters on the farm, I take time out to relax and enjoy my past wins and achievements such as: ‘best cattle dog, ever’. The girls are still young and they don’t know how to relax. When they are awake, they are pumped full of energy, and as I’ve heard said, they are “full of beans”.

Being full of beans and with no proscribed critters to chase, rather than relax, the girls have officially declared war on skinks (Edit: A small gecko like reptile). Skinks are fast creatures, and getting more wary of the girls, but are the girls winning their war? Such stuff is beneath my dignity to notice.

As far as I’m concerned, better skinks than me. There are times when Ruby confuses my ear for a chew toy. Stop that! Ouch! That hurts! I have no doubts that Ruby is motivated to do so because she is jealous of my perfectly formed ears. Are they not beautiful ears? I think so. Her ears on the other hand are not symmetrical, although as a gentleman of the finest pedigree I would not deign to say such a thing to her – if only because she would probably bite me. But this is just between you and I, Ruby gets occasional ear wardrobe malfunctions, and Chris has to flip her ear back. Next time this happens, I need to get a closer look at the inner contents of her mercurial skull. Or maybe just a decent sniff, lick and taste?

Everyone who is anyone knows that feeding times are the best time of all. A hard working dog, deserves a hard feed, and the best unearned feed is another dogs food. Ruby however has thwarted my unscrupulous plans to eat everyone’s food. This is a perquisite of being the boss dog after all, is it not? Apparently not. Ruby has recently begun to thwart my food plans. Yeah, that one is a strategist as she decided that Plum, otherwise known as the lesser sheep dog, has to eat before she does. And I can’t get near Ruby’s food bowl due to the potential for being toothed.

Who knows why Ruby would be so kind and tolerant to a dog lower in the pack order? Maybe, they’re in league together and may soon strike a blow for the canine-sheep resistance? It probably won’t happen any time soon. Those two sisters love each other, but far out do they fight and tussle all of the time.

Ruby gives Plum the meaning of the words: What for?

Ruby ain’t so tough. The other day Chris tested the overhead ceiling fan in one of the rooms where we were all hanging out. Ruby bolted from the room in sheer terror of the fan. I was Mr Cool and saying: “Hey girl, wassup?”, then added “Brave Dame Ruby ran away, bravely ran away, away!” Hehe!

There was payback soon enough though. Ruby it should be said, never forgets a slight. For the past half year or so, Ruby has been conducting war on an old and much loved woollen jumper of Chris’s. Clearly, Ruby being a sheep dog is aware that sheep produce wool. It’s in the blood so to say, and she can probably smell the lanolin. The woollen jumper may not survive this conflict, and in point of fact the other day, the Editor suggested disposing of the now tattered jumper.

Ruby strikes another blow for the resistance in the ongoing Jumper Wars

Would I change any of this? No way! Not even the floppy ear. My crew might be a naughty bunch of rapscallions of the darkest dye, but they’re also 100% pure fun. And the fun part kind of makes up for all the rest. Even Chris has forgiven the mischievous Ruby for most her creative toothy work on the woollen jumper.

Ruby enjoys the most excellent canine double fluff scritch technique, and new jumper opportunity

Thanks for the report from the trenches Ollie.

The weather forecast for Saturday sounded pretty ordinary and promised to be no day at all to work outside preparing for the growing season. Instead we bit the proverbial bullet and decided to spend the day replacing the ailing house batteries.

The solar powered off grid electrical system has been tinkered with each year for over a decade. Not a single year has gone by where nothing was required to be done. One of the only components in the system which has not been changed, were the sealed lead acid gel batteries. They’d worked valiantly for over a decade, but this past winter they display signs that they’d soon need replacing. And Saturday just gone, we replaced them.

The new house batteries are Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries. And they are akin to black magic. With absolute confidence I can say, and this is also without any reservation or doubt, that in another decades time I’ll let you know if the new batteries are any good or not. However, the newer batteries are three times as energy dense and so they are much physically smaller batteries. Before the job was even near completion, we’d moved 1,400kg (3,080 pounds) of metal, all by hand. And after that work, the four battery charge controllers were wrangled and finally brought into order by sheer force of programming. The programming and testing job alone took three hours. The take away from this work, is that this technology is not simple and neither is it set and forget.

Lithium Iron Phosphate batteries now store and provide electricity for the house

This growing season climate has been declared to be a La Nina season. In practical terms, what this means is that it has been and may continue to be a very wet growing season for the next few months at least. This sort of weather is perfect weather for moving fruit trees that for one reason or another are in an inconvenient location. This week we moved several large fruit trees into the new orchard which is adjacent to the garden terrace project.

Many fruit trees were relocated into the new orchard

Other plants were relocated including a large Rhododendron which was happily growing (and self seeding) in an area which has unfortunately been marked out for a future project. The Rhododendron was relocated to the fern gully where I’m certain it will continue to grow well.

A Rhododendron was reloated to the fern gully

As I was planting out the Rhododendron, the Editor was jokingly suggesting that I (and Ollie) were mimicking the gnome who resides there.

Which is the real gnome?

An extensive hedge of Chilean Guava’s were planted out, as was a line of Agapanthus.

Agapanthus now line the uphill side of the path that runs up above the house

Spring Produce Update:

The recently completed greenhouse project is kicking goals, and many of the seeds have now germinated:

French lentils were the fastest plants to germinate in the new greenhouse. The seedling flat was over sown and will eventually be thinned out

The very first tomatoes germinated a few days ago in the greenhouse, and it was particularly pleasing to note that they were our saved seeds:

Mid-Sized Red Tomatoes germinated a few days ago

The orchards are doing well despite the snowfall a few weeks ago:

Figs are beginning to form on the still young fruit trees
If conditions continue, it may be a bumper Apricot season
Currants are beginning to form on the many bushes
The cooler weather leafy greens are beginning to bolt to seed

And if you were uncertain that this growing season is wet, well the Pobblebonk frogs certainly think it is!

A Pobblebonk frog takes a break from the very damp garden

Onto the flowers:

The garden beds are a riot of colourful flowers
Geranium’s show off next to this Black Locust tree
How stunning is the colour of this Geranium?
The first of hopefully many Roses for the season
Crab Apples are the true show-offs of the orchard
The Apples are producing delightful blossoms
Rhododendron’s get more showy and larger with each passing year
The view into a garden bed at the end of one of the paths

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 980.8mm (38.6 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 960.2mm (37.8 inches).

52 thoughts on “Ruby Chewsday”

  1. Yo, Chris – Title: Beatles reference! Do I get the prize? Hopefully, something more useful than a musty old certificate. 🙂 .

    On one hand, I’d say you were spending way too much time with the hounds. On the other, that was a delightful excursion through the (possible) mind of Ollie. Eleanor often considers H, and “I wonder what she’s thinking.” Me, I figure she’s got an interior life, but it’s none of my business. Speaking of dog’s interior lives, after you mentioned Footrot Flats, I spent a delightful 10 minutes or so, with the interior life of the sheep dog, in that comic strip.

    So, what will you do with all the old batteries? You hinted at some kind of grand project. Construct a yard art ziggurat, out of them? And what of all that suddenly freed up space in the battery shed?

    Technology. The learning curves just eat up your life.

    Between the batteries and the trees, years from now, when the Editor and you look back, you’ll say, “The spring of 2020. That’s the week we spent hauling stuff around.” I’m sure the Rhododendron will be happy in the fern gully. You’ve seen our forests. That’s where they seem happiest. There are Rhododendron jungles … Well, someone was mooning, someone, and what is that gnome doing? He’s either mooning, or, taking a wee. And I thought this was a family friendly blog! 🙂 .

    Looks like things are popping in the greenhouse. I’m glad your fruit seems to have survived the snow. I seem to have inherited two current bushes. Any off the cuff observations about care and feeding?

    Geraniums can be endlessly fascinating. That dark red one is like nothing I’ve ever seen. I was going to ask about the roses, and there they are. Or, here they come.

    Looks like are La Nina is going to be similar to yours. Only, the winter version. Wet and coolish. Over the next week, the overnight lows are dipping into the upper 30sF. But, still not cold enough to be a frost. Lew

  2. Dear Sir Sancho Panza, of the esteemed Mudingley Rise,

    Tis I, Miss Ruby, extending to you felicitations from the depths of my heart. Sir Sancho, may I call you Sancho? Your interest has been registered, your distinguished pedigree much discussed and dissected, and has set my heart a-flutter.

    And yes, a half a world away is not too far for the true of heart.

    There is one teeny-tiny matter to first clear up. Your letter was addressed to both my sister and I, and now contentiousness has entered our lives where before there was just the usual biffo.

    Sancho, I implore you to take my word in this matter. Miss Plum is a wanton strumpet, and the stories I could tell you of her brazen activities, would make your whiskers shrivel in embarrassment. She is my sister, but beware the perfect ears, long legs and alluring tail. It is all a ruse.

    I implore you not to fall into the Plum pot trap!

    Know that of the two of us, only I will strike true fear into the heart of the rabbits of Mudingley Rise. And they shall depart from the field in terror at my coming. Sancho, we shall not miss them at all, and enjoy the end of each day watching the sunset and warming our tails in front of the fire.

    Your correspondent,


    PS: Ollie says G’day mate!

  3. Hi Lewis,

    Far out, I had a lot of fun writing about Ruby, but from Ollie’s perspective. I’d decided to write the story, but Ruby being a young pup and under a year old, she would have sounded slightly obsessive-compulsive, and on Saturday night I woke up in the middle of the night and it occurred to me that it should be Ollie who spoke of Ruby’s story instead. Ollie of course, is the more sensible of the three dogs and as such is far lower stress.

    Oh you’re amusing. Beatles indeed. 😉 I’d be pretty certain that the recent video you watched of the Rolling Stones must have had at least one clip or mention of Ruby Tuesday? The lyrics match the little rapscallion to a tee. There is no time to lose – so true.

    It is funny you mention that about the cooking of the casseroles, but I reckon you are onto something, and traditional Italian cooking mirrors your approach. Of late, we’ve been cooking up various bases (like roasting a bunch of vegetables) and then using that base over a number of days to produce wildly different meals. It’s a different take on cooking that’s for sure. But it also makes sense and you can change the meals produced with the seasons and what can be harvested.

    Adding the nutritional yeast on top is not a bad idea, and the fungi can only do your guts some good, I reckon. I’m of the opinion nowadays that a lot of gut issues are caused by people consuming food stuffs that are full of preservatives, and thus very far from alive. Take a small step out from that system, and food is very much alive – which is why we cook some of the stuff in the first place. I dunno, but we mess with our guts at our peril and thus upset the balance in there.

    Onions seem to grow well here, but it was this year that I got serious about growing them. Prior to that, sprouting onions were planted in the various garden beds and just left to do their own thing. My understanding is that onions are a demanding crop and require additions of sulphur and it is not recommended to grow them in the same place two years in a row. The seed also apparently doesn’t have longevity. Although, I take that advice with a grain of salt and just try not to overly concentrate production – and thus strip mine the soil. How good are chives? And they are so easy to divide and replant.

    Not good if you are on the wrong side of that particular commercialised prison kitchen story. Yuk!

    Lewis, you are like super naughty! 🙂 I on the other hand tend to believe that Mr Greer has his work set out for him and is highly appropriate for the times. I doubt very much that philosopher kings did well at all in most times in the past. The thing about sustainability is that things are only sustainable whilst they can be sustained, and then you scoot up or down to a whole ‘nother level. It doesn’t really matter that much.

    Bad Lew indeed! Hehe! And to think I was going to call the chicken Dirty Harriet, after of course the fictional character so portrayed by Clint Eastwood. I’m coming around to the view that it is risky being opened up by a surgeon and is not a road to be travelled lightly.

    Footrot Flats seriously entertained me over the years – and I had all the books of the comic when I was a young bloke. Little wonder I can deal with Ollie (the character Major), Ruby (the dog) and Plum (the character Jess). That’s programming for you.

    Don’t know what the Corvid count is down here, although I did encounter an Australian Raven dining upon a squashed rabbit carcass on the road earlier this morning. Just checked the news websites and can’t find the statistics for today… The news is an ugly business.

    That makes an awful lot of sense about carving turnips instead of pumpkins. Mr William Catton Jr. wrote about the Irish story in his book Overshoot, and honestly I can’t find fault with his thesis. As a general rule of thumb, don’t mention the potatoes! It’s funny all the different cultures about the planet and the expectations that go along with that, but years ago I grew a batch of sugar beets and just happened to mention on the blog that I’d roasted some and eaten them as a test – which is not an unheard of thing as they are sometimes used in desserts. There were a couple of replies suggesting that this was unheard of behaviour in relation to sugar beets – only good for animals I believe was the general sentiment, but I’ve heard similar reports of pumpkins which are a staple of my diet. Hmm. My understanding is that the sugar beets were developed by Vilmorin and once grown in France as a reliable source of sugar – if only because they contained 20%. Sugar maple sap contains only about 3% by way of comparison.

    Yummo! Horseradish leaves are solid, but they contain the fire that is within the root. One of my clients enjoys the horseradish grown here. Puts some fire in your mouth! And a super hardy and tough plant – a bit invasive actually… 🙂

    Cordial tail wags to H from Ollie!

    Mate, I don’t really know what is going on in the minds of the dogs. All I do know is based on their actions and interactions. There is definitely a lot going on there with them. So glad to hear you enjoyed a 10 minute dip into the world of Footrot Flats. Delightful stuff, and there was even a movie way back in the day.

    Ah, a top notch question about the old batteries, says he about to fire off on a fave topic (which in the wider benefit of society I’ll keep as brief as possible). Batteries aren’t fuel tanks, they’re chemical reactors and need at least 24 hours of no use before the chemical reaction settles down and you can gauge the true state of things. So I’m going to let the old batteries sit for a week and then test each one (there are 24 of them) and see which are the duds. I have a gut feeling that at least 2 and maybe up to 4 are a bit iffy. In their previous existence in the house system, the good batteries gave a lift-up to the dud batteries, and overall the system declined in capacity. So in a couple of days I’ll conduct the test and see how they fare. But for now, I don’t really know. The good batteries will be used in a future yet-to-be-constructed shed. My understanding is that the old batteries are recyclable in the high 90% of their content. Lots of lead in there.

    Ooo, that’s good. And so true. I see DJ has gone quiet since he’s had to master his new smart phone – just sayin! 😉 Hehe!

    Lewis, I’d really like to know why living in such a place involves so much digging. Like, what’s with that? Was it always thus for small holdings? So many questions, so few answers!

    I’d love to see one of your Rhododendron jungles.

    Mooning used to be a perfectly fine statement, like err, streaking. For some reason, the game of cricket attracted more than its fair share of streakers over the years. Nowadays such expressive, err, expression doesn’t get expressed. But it wasn’t always that way. I once gave the finger to a member of the constabulary and oh boy did I get into trouble or what. First there was the public dressing down by a very angry person. Then the fine had to be paid from very limited funds. Note to self: Don’t poke angry people, or people who can use you like a walking ATM for their employers.

    Currant bushes are great, and super reliable. They just look after themselves really. If you want more of the bushes, and they produced well in the early to mid-summer, then simply cut one of the semi-hardwood branches off and plonk it in the ground (one third down and two thirds up is a good guide). Such plants are so easy that they make it look like we know what we are doing! Plus I quite enjoy the berries and they taste not dissimilar from cranberries (which are a lot of hassle water wise).

    I lifted a cutting of that dark geranium from a garden many years ago. 🙂

    I must not count the fruit until it is harvested. 😉

    Dunno about your part of the world but the old timers used to quip that wet years were also warm years (probably due to the humidity and cloud layers), so your La Nina winter might be warmer and slushier. Not a fan of mud and rarely is it seen here.



  4. Hi Chris,
    Loved the title.

    I will pass Ollie’s story on to Leo and Salve as they can relate after the two day visit with Ruth, the pandemic puppy a week ago. Perhaps I can talk them into describing the visit from their perspective later this week.

    All the guests and other outings are over (Doug’s friend left this morning) so perhaps life will settle down a bit.

    We’ve had a couple of freezes so the beans and tomato plants are done.


  5. Yo, Chris – Yes, casseroles can be pretty handy. You can make them simple, or elaborate. It was kind of a-hell-of-a-weekend. We had a smoke detector test, scheduled for today, which means people in and out of the apartment. So, I was mucking out the man cave. But, someone blocked the access to the trash dumpster, on Friday, so I had this stuff that would normally go out, but that I had to sit on, until today. So, I wasn’t interested in spending a lot of time on dinner, last night. Had some rice on hand, dumped in a can of pretty good mixed veg, a bit of frozen chopped broccoli. Nuked it, shoved some cubes of “processed cheese product” into the top, sprinkled with nutritional yeast, and called it good. Actually, it was.

    Speaking of the garbage disaster, even though every drop chute had a sign on it, asking people not to use them until Monday, apparently, some people thought they were so special, the sign couldn’t possible apply to them. The area around the dumpster is now overflowing and a real mess.

    Oh, I think Mr. Greer is appropriate to the times. It’s just that the times don’t seem to take much notice of him. Twenty (maybe ten) years from now, there will be people moaning, “He was right! Why didn’t we listen to him?”

    “Dick” is home from surgery. I’ve spreading the rumor that they drilled a hole in his skull, to let the demons out. 🙂 .

    I saw a couple of headlines that said that Melbourne’s case rate is down, and that the powers that be are considering loosening up the lockdown orders. Maybe it was fake news.

    Well, I don’t see what the problem was with giving sugar beets a whirl. I mean, at different times and places, food foibles get in the way of culinary enjoyment. When corn first made an appearance in Europe, it was thought to be only good for cattle feed, as, you know, only Indians (Native Americans) ate it. I was reading in a book, last year, that when the first settlers discovered pumpkins (round, orange), they thought they were only fit for cattle feed, or, the very very poor. I’m sure there are many other examples of fine tucker, that’s ignored for not very good reasons.

    Yup. Horseradish can be invasive, and it’s best kept in a tub or raised bed. But, I’ve got to say that it is so striking, it could easily be grown as an ornamental. Huge, crinkly leaves of a pleasing green color. The Master Gardeners were very interested in my Ox Blood beets, just because of the striking foliage.

    So, you’ll have dual solar electric systems? Makes a lot of sense. Takes some of the load off the house system. And, all your solar electric eggs, won’t be in one basket.

    Thanks for the information on the currents. Ruth guarded them jealously, in order to make her famous current jelly. I bought some, last year, and it was quit good. I managed to sneak a small sample, before she moved, and fresh, they are very good. Also, I think you can dry them.

    Still recovering from the weekend, my healthy lunch consisted of Triscuits (a shredded wheat snack cracker) and peanut butter, right from the jar. Will make up for lost ground, at dinner. Lew

  6. Hi, Chris!

    What an absolutely delightful story. I am so glad that I read it not far from bedtime. I feel sure that I will have pleasant dreams of naughty dogs.

    More later.


  7. Hi Pam,

    Sweet dreams, and may they be filled with the delightful pooches who can flip between very naughty then way over to very nice. It seems somehow appropriate to quote the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

    There was a little girl,
    Who had a little curl,
    Right in the middle of her forehead.
    When she was good,
    She was very good indeed,
    But when she was bad she was horrid.

    A favourite poem, and so true about those two naughty minxes. 🙂



  8. Hi Margaret,

    The title was pretty funny wasn’t it! Sir Mick himself would probably get a laugh out of it. 🙂 So much fun to write too. Actually, at first when the idea popped into my head I thought to write the story first hand from Ruby’s voice, but she can be a bit of an idiot. I woke up one morning with the idea that Ollie should tell the tail (sic) because he is at least more sensible than those two rapscallions.

    Yes, that would be a real treat, and I look forward to hearing what the esteem Leo Esq. and Salve Esq. have to say about their recent interactions with Ruth, the untitled pandemic puppy. 🙂 No doubt, Ruth scattered their usual routines to the winds, whilst she herself was entranced by the call of the same winds and ran about trying to discover what they were attempting to saying to her personally. A complex situation.

    Don’t you reckon that it is strange how there is a flurry of guests in the in-between seasons? By the time winter (or high summer for that matter) arrives with force here, it becomes socially quiet for a stretch of time.

    Ah, the tomatoes and beans are only just now getting going. Thanks for the warmer weather!



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Out of curiosity, do you have individual smoke detectors in each apartments or is there one in the common areas – or perhaps both. I’m guessing the answer is both given that people are in and out of your apartment / man cave. Of course you do realise this situation is because you’ve done something very naughty in a past life and must now make penance for your earlier sins and thus the intrusions are the punishment? Smoke detectors are often not thought of until the moment of need.

    As a technology they seem particularly wasteful to me because the ones down here use mains power, but with a 9V square battery back up that needs constant replacing. Me, being me, wanted to use rechargeable batteries in the smoke alarms and the usual smoke alarms did not like the more usual rechargeable batteries because the voltage was too low. So with a bit of ingenuity I was able to purchase some specific and much higher voltage 9.6V rechargeable batteries for this very purpose. Not so easy to obtain these days. Can you imagine a smoke alarm going off if a bushfire was raging outside of the house? Beep, Beep, Beep – smash that machine, thanks very much there’s enough to worry about.

    Your casserole sounds quite tasty, although I’m a bit dubious of your words “processed cheese product”, although grew up consuming that stuff. Vintage cheddar is my all time favourite, although I do recall that your tastes lean towards the very English Stilton cheese. My mates of the big shed fame produce their own blue cheese, which the editor swears is very good, but I am weak in such matters. In other matters things roll differently and I am now a collector of antique sharp edged and long steel items which the Japanese Samurai once used in their history – or was forced into that corner. It intrigues me that there are groups that cater to such things.

    Ha! That’s human nature, that is. The main issue I have with garbage collection the way it is done nowadays is that I have noted that despite beliefs to the contrary, there is really no land of elsewhere. The land of elsewhere is a beautiful place full of unicorns and rainbows, but I’m unlucky in life and have not come across such a fine place. Some of your fellow residents saw the sign and perhaps said to themselves: Stuff it, carry on! And there are no repercussions for them for having done so, and neither could you or I complain of such short sightedness without suffering repercussions and resentment for popping peoples happy bubbles. Unicorns may be found within happy bubbles.

    Well, I get that story about Mr Greer. Although to be fair, I believe that he is living life as consciously as he may be able to. I too suffer from being ahead of the curve, but then there have been times when being in that location has been something of an advantage – like these here crazy times. The thing that really troubles me is that I’m not entirely sure what system will fail here and whether I’ve taken enough precautions, but I do know that failure is an inevitability and accept that. I dunno. Anyway, nobody believed Cassandra due to the curse, and always was it thus. I’m sort of, of the opinion that there is benefit to be gained from averting attention away from risk, but I believe this strategy magnifies and concentrates risk.

    Yes, 1 new case today in a lot of million souls down here seems to be the word on the street. The idea of reduced restrictions has been mooted in the media.

    Exactly, pumpkins at some times were seen fit only for animal consumption, but then us humans are animals and pumpkins are kind of tasty, so what the heck. Sugar beets, which I roasted, were actually quite tasty and sweet, so I had no idea what the person was banging on about, but there are plenty of blogs elsewhere for them to read. It is of interest to me that over history, plagues and serious spread of diseases with high mortality rates generally have occurred after a year or two where malnutrition was a large factor in society. The Black Plague in the middle ages was such an example.

    Do you know of any of the history behind your Ox Blood beets that the master gardeners were so interested in? There is often a story behind such plants.

    I reserve the horseradish leaves for really hot summers where they are a solid survivor due to being attached to a tuber. The roots are delectable, and bonkers fiery. Just the thing in some dishes. Hey, I reckon it might just get wet enough this year for the proper wasabi plant to grow in the swale which collects excess water from the roof of the house. A possibility.

    Spreading risk over a few systems here is one strategy which I have employed to good effect. It works very well when the system utilises existing equipment at a low capital cost. The new batteries really are black magic, and the battery chargers and program seems to be working exactly spot on. They’re a bit eerie really due to the exactness of the tolerances. I would not suggest adding such batteries to a ‘she-ll be right mate type of system’. No sir-ee.

    Who can fathom Ruth’s motivations for doing so? As a general rule I’m really easy going on the free information sharing thing because I learn as much as I share. Currants really are a super simple, reliable producer and hardy plant. I reckon they are better than cranberries because they are a more adaptable and less finicky plant, and taste mostly the same.

    Never thought of drying them. Hmm. An interesting idea. We usually use the harvest of currants to make a very tasty wine, but drying them is a great idea – and we will have a bonkers amount of excess power at that time of the year. Hmm.

    I believe that Triscuits was also the name of an unfortunate dog that was eaten by its zombie owner in the book: Hollow Kingdom. Ouch. I do hope that H was not harmed during the healthy lunch episode? 🙂



  10. Chris,

    Things got rather busy here, in an enjoyable way. The Princess brought one of her sisters to visit us for a week, we had a lot of fun in between one final warmish weekend scampering in the yard before the weather shifts further…Princess had me buy a boxed set of the entire “Game of Thrones” series, or as her sister says, “Game of Thorns”. Now we’re addicted and have only started season 2. The program is most decidedly not for the family friendly situations.

    What wonderful writing this week from Ollie’s point of view. Nicely imagined and put together! That was a most enjoyable read.

    We have gone straight from late summer weather to a 2 week transition with nice rainfall to…the start of late autumn/early La Nina winter, in which we should feature colder and snowier than usual weather. We had the first frost late last week, which is a bit later than normal. But the s-n-o-w word is in the forecast for Friday night, Saturday morning. Should avoid Spokane, but will hit the general Omak, Washington area on the Rez. Meaning leaves…just barely starting to turn color, again a bit late for this to start. Jings! The LAWN is still growing, which is much too late for that!

    I noticed you mentioned “mooning”. (I will make NO comment about the picture of the 3 trolls, other than to reminisce that there was once a store here that sold only Scandinavian imported clothing and knick-knacks called “The Three Trolls”.) Mooning apparently is an OLD idea, as is mentioned here late in the article (slightly above the Monty Python character). From about 1068 in Exeter during the Norman Conquest of England.

    Naturally, Monty Python immortalized the idea in “Holy Grail”, but any links include words inappropriate for family friendly atmospheres!

    Yeah, that bridge collapse, it doesn’t surprise me at all that the workers had concerns and were ignored. I once worked in a paint factory, mostly pouring a roof coating suitable for polyurethane into 55 gallon drums. Locally owned company, but the roof coating was the world wide industry standard. Rumor had it that giant Dupont was gaining on us, so new and improved Super Roof Coating 2 was developed. My boss had made the old stuff for 13 years and noted that the new stuff was separating in the mixing tank the moment the mixing blades were turned off. Ditto at my end of the operation, and the stuff even was separating into component parts while being poured into even a 5 gallon bucket. This was mentioned to the chemists, to the bosses and we even showed the owners the difference between the normal stuff and the new test batches. Alas! we were not listened to, and we sold gazillions of gallons of the new nonsense (as opposed to no nonsense) coating one summer with a “Lifetime Guarantee”. It hadn’t even been tested in a real application for 3 months. Yup, you guessed it, the junk started peeling within 6 months. The lawsuits ruined the company. Not as devastating as the bridge collapse, but the principle is one that I never forgot: “Always always always listen to what the field staff and guys doing the actual work have to say. When in doubt, stop and ask them again. Even when not in doubt, stop and ask them again.”

    Your understanding with the birds is impressive. I’ve figured things similarly. Share and share alike, and some things are taken care of that I’d rather not deal with. And at least the birds help with the snakes. Does that include some of the venomous snakes too?

    Ahhh, Ruby does seem rather bossy, at least with Plum. Nice photo of the 2 “exchanging”. I think Ollie’s idea that Ruby is plotting and plotting and scheming isn’t far from the truth.

    So are ya gonna follow Lew’s suggestion and “plant” the old batteries into some type of pattern? Centuries from now, archaeologists will dig them up and wonder what kind of a weird religious function they had. I say put them in some kind of circle, try to confuse future archaeology persons.

    Good to see that the greenhouse is working so far. Having stuff sprout without fear of them getting rained out or frosted is a good thing. And some of your saved seed growing? Bonus!

    Minds work in strange ways. Every time you add a picture of a pobblebonk frog, immediately Olivia Newton-John and “Let’s Get Physical” ear worms me. “It’s a Pobblebonk, Pobblebonk! It’s a cute Pobblebonk! Listen to the cute frog talk, Pobblebonk!” and so forth.


  11. Yo, Chris – We are wired! Or, I should say, wired and batteried. They were testing the heat detector, yesterday. There are also smoke detectors, Co2 detectors, and three strategically placed “rip cords” around the apartment, that set off all kinds of hellacious alarms. Theoretically, if you fall over your supposed to crawl to the cord, and give it a yank. The cords are supposed to touch the floor. Which is an eye sore, and creates problems with interior decor. Never mind the problems with those who have pets. Most of the Inmates just keep them tied up, and out of the way, between inspections.

    Back when we had decent maintenance, old Jeff would go around and just replace the batteries, once a year. With the current “catch as catch can” maintenance, there are constant alarms going off, from dying batteries, usually in the middle of the night. It’s sometimes hard to figure out WHICH alarm is in distress. And, usually involves balancing on a wobbly chair or stool, as most of them are in the ceiling. But, you know. The current regime is all about HEALTH AND SAFETY!!! Sounds good, doesn’t it? 🙂 . But, now that I’m through ranting, to get back to your original question, yup, the whole building is covered, apartments and all common areas. Not too many spy cameras, though. Just a few here and there. And we know where they are.

    Well, I try and stay away from the processed cheese product. But, sometimes I am weak. 🙁 . We had some of that stuff, growing up. But, I must say, the current product is “different.” Doesn’t quit melt as well. Oh, I do like the Stilton, but it’s so expensive and hard to find, it’s really (for me) a special occasion cheese. I quit like a good sharp aged cheddar. If I’m on a health kick, and can’t quit resist the siren call of cheese, I opt for skim milk mozzarella.

    Samurai kit and machetes loom large in zombie lore. Might be a factor in the increased interest in pointy things.

    Well, it is possible to go through some of the bags, looking for a bit of discarded mail. Then the miscreants could be identified and roundly beaten about the head and shoulders. Of course, the access to the dumpster could be appropriately striped and signed, but, I suppose that would be too easy a solution.

    Here’s hoping that things loosen up, in Melbourne. I started coming down with a sore throat, yesterday afternoon. But no temp, so I guess it isn’t “it”. I’m also very sore, but I figure that’s from mucking out my place, over the weekend. But, I skipped my usual chin wag with Eleanor, last night. Gargling with warm salt water, seems to be keeping it down to a low roar.

    Pumpkins and sugar beets. Well, when it comes to food, it’s all about class and status, isn’t it? Or childhood trauma 🙂 . Looking at the history of food, there’s always some kind of food prohibitions or preferences going on, across time and cultures. Silly, yes. But, then there’s more good tucker for the rest of us.

    I got the name wrong. Bull’s Blood Beets. They are an open pollinated, heirloom. A quick trip down the rabbit hole says they were developed in the 1840’s by a pioneering Dutch seed man named Kees Sahin. Probably from a French heirloom called Crapaudine, which is thought to be the oldest variety of beet, still grown. I was curious about Mr. Sahin, but couldn’t find much on him, as, there is a current seed company by the same name (descendants?), so it mucks up the search. Plenty of references to other things developed by the old guy (pansies?!). I’ve saved seed, two years running.

    LOL. Ruth’s motivation was money. It’s really a smallish bush, and she claimed every current for her jelly. Which she sold at the fall bazaar. Sadly, canceled this year. There is a second, smaller bush. Someone dropped a comment the other day, that the other Garden Goddess, Jody, planted that one, as “Ruth wouldn’t share.” But, that one is also abandoned, so ….

    I looked into drying currents. Turns out, some of the one’s in the stores are actually a variety of grape. Currents can be dried, but can take up to 36 hours in a dehydrator … unless you blanch them to split the skins. Or, you can try good old sunshine, if the weather co-operates. Dried currents are used in a lot of baked goods.

    I once ran across some dried “cranberries” that, on carefully reading the package, we actually raisins enhanced (?) with “natural cranberry flavors.” Tis not right … Lew

  12. That is such a safe and nifty way to loop up an electrical cord with a sturdy cable tie. I can’t wait to use it. So Plum is being given priority at feeding time. Is she old enough to be “in the family way”…

  13. Hi Elbows,

    Greetings, and it is nice to hear from you. The other week I posted a link to our Bureau of Meteorology article (what do they know about meteors?) as to the current La Nina climate event, and they provided a nice world map as to the effects. Hope your summer growing season will be good for you and yours – as I suspect it might be.

    Ah, yes, feel free to give the cable technique a go. 😉 That particular cable has to occasionally carry 105A, but what is such a high current between friends? Things were doubly worse when the system used to be 24V. Ouch, and almost unmanageable. In fact it was unmanageable, and thus the change to 48V. The photo was a work-in-progress shot, and you’ll be pleased to know that sturdy saddle clips have now been put to good use.

    Plum is lowest in the pecking order, and so she gets to eat first – plus she is a naturally slow eater.

    This is a most delicate matter regarding the two young ladies, but yes they’re now old enough that it could be possible. But it may be possibly unlikely at this stage as they already would have had pups if that was the case. Maybe… If you’ve been following the comments, I did mention a while back when a strange unknown dog had been hanging around the edges of the farm.



  14. Hi DJ,

    Visitors sound nice to my heavily locked down mind, and the week long stay would have been fun. Not to sound too bleak, but um jealous is the state of mind, if only because visitors have been extraordinarily rare this year due to legal restrictions. Mostly absent would perhaps be a good way to describe the situation.

    Glad to hear that you are enjoying the series. I read the books, and it is a convoluted story, which no doubt you’d love given your knowledge of the War of the Roses. The books just ended abruptly from memory with no further instalment, and the series concluded the tale. It is hardly family friendly but I have heard names for the series which would hardly pass muster here!

    Thank you and glad to hear that you enjoyed Ollie’s words. He’s a real gentleman that dog.

    Your description of your weather matches almost exactly what I experience here. Spring and Summer are long, whilst Autumn is almost non-existent. It will soon get colder still for you, and much hotter here. The good Professor mentioned Omak in his latest blog on future climate for your part of the world.

    It amazes me to this day as to just how over educated those Monty Python blokes were, and also just how absurd history was. The troop did their utmost to work in all manner of historical references: e.g. Killer Rabbits. Who knew they were a thing to keep bored scribes amused on another dreary English winters day? So there I was reading about Gytha and thinking to myself: What if they were all bad apples? Sounds that way to me.

    Your experience in the paint factory doesn’t surprise me, and I do my best to talk to as wide a circle of people as possible. What you are hinting at, is that sometimes circles can become bubbles, and no matter how large the bubble, if the bubble of contained stuff which isn’t mixed and interesting enough, well mate, it ain’t good, if only because the bubble might not approximately match reality. The bubble after all is only ever a model or sub set and not the land.

    Unfortunately there are only venomous snakes, sorry to say. Not all snakes will bite with similar force, but if you get unlucky, well that is how things can roll sometimes. The Kookaburra’s with their distinctive call are the best birds for the snakes, but they can also – like us – stuff things up occasionally. Good to hear that you have established cordial relations with your local birds.

    It is not a figment of anyone’s imagination: Ruby is bossy and meddlesome.

    Nope, I shall disregard the suggestion regarding the batteries – until maybe there is no other option. They will be useful still for many years to come – but which ones will keep that up, is a mystery that is yet to be resolved.

    Hey, it is not as if I haven’t discovered two rock circles in the forest. What the heck? One of the rock circles I filled with mulch and soil and planted out an oak tree, whilst I’ll do the same to the other in another year or two’s time. It was very weird finding them in an unlikely spot.

    The greenhouse will earn its keep. We’ve been saving seeds for years now and thus creating landrace varieties of plants. But this year we plan to take things to 11 on the dial. 11 of course being better than 10, well that’s the plan anyway.

    Hehe! There’s a blast from the past man! 🙂 The pobblebonk frogs happily sing their chorus most nights, and it is a real pleasure to hear.



  15. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for the new word: hellacious. The cords hanging from the ceiling would drive me bonkers, and no doubts the dogs would utilise them as chew toys. I do hope that H is not that naughty? But yeah, I’d tie them up too as they’d be a constant trip hazard. Who needs that? Cats would definitely take the cords to be a personal challenge of the highest order. 🙂

    Dunno about your take on things, but one of the great predicaments posed by too many alarms is that you encounter the dreaded ‘boy who calls wolf’ dilemma. If alarms go off all of the time, then everyone learns to roundly ignore them, and how do you know if the alarm signifies an event of import? No, feel free to rant, after all I bang on about solar power every now and then and I must say that I do so with a sense of relief at the unburdening of a problem. 🙂

    Speaking of which I just had to flush something out of my eye which was seriously irritating it. What was the foreign object doing in there – and how did it get there in the first place. So many questions left unresolved. Probably dog hair, as Ollie is blowing his winter coat. Dust bunnies are making a mockery of the hardwood floors.

    Hehe! Yeah, me too with super yummy products. So good, and surely life was not meant to be without its occasional chunks of yumminess? From memory the wrapping of the heavily processed cheese product was very plain, simple and unchallenging. I guess that was part of the sell for the product?

    Lewis, ordinarily my sympathies would extend to your general concerns as to food, but unfortunately I’m just not enjoying a sympathetic vibe for the lacking of Stilton in your life. We might have to put this lack of sympathy down to childhood trauma, yes that could explain a thing or two about that particular type of cheese, and the story involved macaroni cheese. A sad tale, which I can hardly expect any sympathy now from your good self. Hehe!

    But, yeah good sharp aged cheddar is my kind of cheese! Of late I’ve been enjoying a cheese known as an Elbo style cheese which is produced from up near to where Damo grew up. It is an excellent cheese and uses a vegetable based rennet. Interestingly, more traditional rennet was one of those bizarre items which was apparently in short supply recently.

    Possibly so about the zombie films, and I dare not mention Tilda Swinton’s role (I thought she was the best character in the film) in a recent zombie film which dares not be mentioned here. The film was OK, but I couldn’t quite understand why the actors began discussing their acting jobs on screen. I didn’t find that to be amusing or ground breaking. I see Bill Murray is in a new buddy film.

    Has the rumour mill at your place come up with any theories about the rubbish dumping? Unlikely suspects could be named, and I’d recommend keeping a very sharp eye on the people doing the naming. Watch for shifty eyes and beguiling words arising from possible guilt.

    Who knows what will happen down here. It is like a slow motion car crash, and I did say long ago that the medical experts might get thrown under the bus when the time for blame comes a knocking. Hmm. That may just have happened. I was alerted to the possibility because I’d heard too many politicians stating for the record publicly that they were acting under advisement. Sure they were.

    How are you feeling today? Look after yourself and the rest of what that entails: Rest; fluids; and good food.

    I like how you think! Yeah, so true about the food prohibitions.

    Yup, I spotted the alternative name for the beetroots, and who knows you might have developed your own unique variety? Looking at the photos, they look really similar to the ones grown down here, and I love beetroot. Years ago I believed that the taste of canned beetroot was due to the vinegar in the preservative mix, and that is partially true, but they taste just as good straight out of the ground. Yum!

    Can you imagine the sheer amount of trial and error combined with observational skills that the old timer seed developers brought to the table? Amazing skills and a solid understanding of the reproductive biology of plants. My gut feeling suggests that in years to come these practical skills will be valued again.

    Currant bushes can be quite prolific bearers of berries. Well, the bush will continue to produce well in the coming years. The funny thing is that if money was the motivator, why not get some of the other garden folks lending a hand and raising more currant shrubs? The bushes don’t last forever and so eventually you have to start new plants. I eat a lot of jam (your jelly) with my bread and a lot of the summer berries go toward that productive activity, although I do take some into clients if I know they’ll appreciate the berries. The strawberries are coming along nicely, but are still a few weeks away from the first of the season. Believe it or not, we’re down to the final bottle of last seasons preserved apricots. I misjudged that one by about two or three weeks. Oh well. The hunger pangs of spring.

    What? No way? The only dehydrated grapes down here commonly seen are sultana grapes (table dessert grapes) – and they are a really yummy dried fruit snack.

    Reading between the lines, I can tell that you’re not really into blanching the currants so as to split the skins. Too much like hard work to me as well. The sunshine can be very iffy for dehydrating, but you never know.

    I can see how that happens with the cranberry enhanced flavours – they’re hard to grow if you don’t have a convenient swamp to hand…



  16. Hello Chris
    I hadn’t commented as I didn’t think I had anything much to say. I was sitting reading Simon’s latest, when I heard a loud bang. A glance out of the window showed me that the huge hanging branch was no longer visible. At least it wasn’t across the shed. Went out to look. The wind must have been blowing in the right direction when it fell as it has come down right beside/against the shed. It has taken off one edge of the roof so rain will be able to get in but far less damage than there might have been.


  17. Chris,

    Visitors are rare for us right now for, well, things are still in *slow down*. So, a couple of family members have visited for a few days at a time. Appliance repair dudes, too, and that has been it.

    Oh yes, I’ve been thinking about Wars of the Roses when watching “Thrones”. The plots within plots and the ongoing treachery. “Expect the unexpected” seems to be one ongoing, albeit unmentioned to this point, theme.

    Occasionally we get a good autumn, but not often. Twas +13C yesterday and felt more like +3C. Now the cold fronts are moving in: Friday we should see between 7.5cm and 12.5cm of snow. Early for more than a skiff. Then down to -10C to -13C Saturday and Sunday nights. Those are records lows for this time of year. Oh, and the leaves? A day makes a difference and this part of town is in full color! I’m enjoying autumn while it’s here.

    This looks to be only a precursor of what’s to come. Things should be back to +10C and warmer by the 28th.

    Yeah, those Python guys were overly educated. I just got from the library (curbside pick up – the libraries are still closed for indoor services) “Norman Conquest” by Marc Morris. In his introduction, he made it clear that he thought William was a right git, but he also mentioned his thorough disgust for the drinking binges, excesses and ongoing murdering of royals/major nobles among the English in the 11th century. My take was already all of the above, which you brilliantly summarized as “they were all bad apples”.

    Gytha, as in Harold’s mother, well, she seemed to have a full share of the nastier bits of Danish aristocracy from that era. Which of course, she was part of Danish aristocracy by birth and upbringing. Then there’s the other Gytha, Harold’s daughter.

    I’m wading through a book on probability and statistics this fall. One of the things the author emphasizes regularly is the difference between the mathematical model and reality. The model talks about a “perfect set of dice”. There is no such perfection, just well manufactured dice that are close to “perfect set of dice”. He harps on that difference regularly. That’s something that my physics professors mentioned, but didn’t emphasize. I never heard an engineering professor or professional engineer ever mention that. Yet the model vs reality concept is very important to keep in mind. “In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice, they’re not.”

    Too bad all the wigglers are venomous. But I don’t even like the non venomous snakes. And if the kookaburras never lost to the snakes, then the ecosystem would be out of balance, lacking the snakes. Reminds me of a trip Princess and I took through the Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona deserts. We stopped in a large park near Grand Junction, Colorado. There was a lot of plant growth. I had Princess gingerly touch a leaf. It was very sharp! I told her that pretty much in that climate, everything was sharp and poked, be it plant or animal or insect. Twas the lesson to keep eyes and ears open, to respect but not fear the wildness. At another locale, there were signs warning of rattlesnakes. I told her to keep her eyes moving, look for “funny sticks” and movement. Then I pointed to a roadrunner, and said that if the bird panics, then there’s snakes nearby.

    Cool. Rock circles on your farm. As you said, unlikely location, but…

    Ah yes, the dial that goes to 11 is important to keep in mind! 😉


  18. Yo, Chris – Last night was in the mid 40’sF. The next three nights we’ll be flirting with a freeze. But then a freeze, for sure, Saturday night. Best get whatever I want out of the garden, now, other than root crops.

    I saved seed from the Oxblood beets (and, the cylinder ones). The left over foliage and seed, I just buried, to break down in the soil. I wonder if any will pop up, next spring, in those parts of the garden? Sometimes, I’m surprised by who gardens and saves seed. Eleanor has a son-in-law, who could be described as an archetypal “good old boy”, and he saves seed, from year to year.

    “Jelly, your jam…” Jelly is made from the clear juice of whatever fruit. Jam has chunks of fruit in it. LOL. Actually, I went down the rabbit hole, a bit, because then I started wondering, “Well, what are conserves?” And, I found this wonderful bit of explanation.

    Suitable for framing, and hanging in the kitchen, or, next to the computer 🙂 . Reading through the definitions, actually, there are some pretty interesting ideas, in there.

    Our cords actually hang out of a switch plate, on the wall. When some of the pet owners questioned the wisdom of leaving them trailing to the floor, they were advised to put the dangly end, in a vase, on the floor. Clearly, a suggestion from someone who had never had a dog or cat. We have so much c___ on our walls, what with electrical outlets, detectors, light switches, etc.. Never mind the two baseboard heaters, which must not be blocked at any time. Even though most of the Inmates turn them off at the electrical box … between inspections. 🙂 . Otherwise, they kick on at higher temperatures, than anyone with an once of thrift in their bodies, would want. End, rant. 🙂 .

    The packaging of the two pound bricks of processed cheese, we get, is a bit of a challenge to get into. Sealing them up, between uses, usually involves large pieces of cling wrap, and a certain amount of dexterity. But, I know what your referring to. Those individually wrapped slices of cheese. So you don’t need to sully a knife, or, even a cheese cutter. I was on a kick, for awhile, while I was brown bagging it, of making sandwiches with the vegan cheese you mentioned. The only form it came in, at least around these parts, was the individual wrapped slices.

    Yup. That was an awful zombie film. Murray and Swinton should have known better. But last night, I watched what must be one of the worst alien invasion films, I’ve seen, in a long time. “Save Yourselves!” I’m sure you won’t watch it, so, I may throw a few spoilers around. A young-ish couple who are Brooklyn hipsters, are offered the use of a cabin in upstate New York, for a week. They decide they’ll really rough it, by disconnecting from the Net, for that time period. So, when they get out in the boonies, and pull the plug, they miss the alien invasion. Until the alien invasion, comes to them. The aliens look something like very large Tribbles. Or, a furry footstool. So, there’s lots of inept tearing around. Somewhere along the way, they pick up a baby. Then all three of them are whisked away, into outer space, in a giant bubble. The end. There are a few funny bits, and, the best line in the movie is where they’re in the wilderness, dodging aliens and considering the future, and she looks at him and says, “Jack. We have no skills.”

    But, in happier film news, THERE’S A NEW APOCALYPTIC / END OF THE WORLD FILM COMING OUT!!! How did I miss this? It was a trailer on that awful film I watched. Titled, “Greenland.” Meteors, this time. Although from what I gather, it’s pretty much the same plot as “2012”. Must get the family to hidden bunkers in Greenland, rather than Tibet. It’s supposed to be coming out on DVD, the middle of next month. There’s also another one, that sounds kind of interesting, that’s playing the theaters, now. “Love and Monsters.”

    The throat is still sore, today, but not as bad as yesterday. But then, I’m gargling, pretty regular. Still aches and pains. No temp. I don’t get sick, very often, but sometimes when I get a sore throat, it goes away, but then something grizzly happens in my lung or head. But, no sign of that. The question is, as careful as I am, these days, where in the heck did I pick this up? Not that I’ll ever know.

    Reading over DJ’s and your shoulder, yup. Organizations often don’t pay much attention to those of us “in the trenches.” They want certain outcomes, and will ignore any nay-saying. Or, even evidence. What you’ze guy’ze said about bubbles is true. So, we’ve got those bubbles, news bubbles, and financial bubbles of one sort or another. Should we, perhaps, be aware of any and all bubbles, and stamp them out? Is dish soap, highly suspect? Lew

  19. Hi Chris,

    Three hours of wrangling and testing seems a lot of time. Are you actually writing code for these batteries? I’m surprised the whole thing wouldn’t be plug-and-play by now.

  20. Hi Lewis,

    I’m feeling cold just reading about the temperatures in your part of the world. Brr! It was 68’F and sunny and mild today and really very far from freezing. It is so odd how the growing season simply comes to a sudden stop at your time of year, but all the same it does due to lack of solar energy.

    Haven’t saved seed from beets before and so thanks very much for sharing your experience. We do the same with the broad beans (your fava bean) as they produce an enormous amount of foliage and so many pods that some get missed – and inevitably new plants begin growing within weeks of doing that. Some of the local farmers have turned over entire fields to the beans, and then ploughed them back in.

    Ah, to be candid with you I had not heard of the term ‘good old boy’ before and can’t honestly suggest that I’d enjoy cheap beer or nascar, but if a person has the good common sense to save seeds from one season to the next, then, they’re alright by me. It surprises me that the act isn’t seen as being more subversive than it actually is understood to be, because by saving seeds you gain a modicum of independence and in effect are sticking it to the man by doing so. Dunno why people don’t see it that way. And frankly I prefer beers that challenge my senses. Had a decent Russian Imperial Stout this evening at the local pub, and not saying that it was the best stout ever, but far out it was right up there. There was a story as to how the rare keg came to be at the local pub, but I missed out on hearing about the story as restrictions had slightly eased and numbers of patrons were up, whilst staff were held at the same level – a stressful experience for the staff.

    My understanding is that conserves are jam with chunks. Which is basically what we make here when I speak of jam. And we don’t mix fruit as the description suggests. Oh no, the public servants in your country have weighed in on the jam/jelly/conserve debate, and of course completely (dare I say it) mashed up the result! Hey, you should try living down here where the public servants seem to have taken charge of our very lives. I wouldn’t trust that lot to open a paper bag, but they’re giving it a go all the same.

    I rest my case: Australia Post CEO stands aside as company faces investigation after executives given $3k Cartier watches for securing deal with banks. As a bit of background, allegedly they were recently told not to pay bonuses to executives whilst asking workers to volunteer some time or resources, I forget which. The language used at the time was fascinating.

    Ah, I see such people have worked their magic on your apartment, and you and your good fellow inmates have produced good work arounds. The heaters would drive me bonkers as neither the editor nor I enjoy living in an over-heated home. Such temperatures disturb peoples sleep.

    Exactly, how lazy do you have to be to be unable to cut a chunk of cheese off a block? And there is an inordinate amount of wasted packaging with such pre slicing, and don’t know about now, but back in the day each slice was individually wrapped. Sometimes in my more cynical moments I do wonder if all this excess plastic packaging is a result of by products from the oil industry which had no other usage.

    So true, and yet they were both there, along with the talented Mr Driver. Fortunately, all the actors have enough runs on the board that I was able to forgive them, and they might need to pay the bills too. Now Zombieland was a far funnier and more enjoyable film to watch. Woody can of course do no wrong in my books. Interestingly there was apparently a book about his dad and his life as he had a remarkable story to tell. Perhaps not the sort of dad you might want.

    Actually the acknowledgement by the actors that the protagonists had no skills is an absolute ripper – and made me laugh.

    Greenland, huh? Well I’d read a sci-fi story that began in a future Greenland. Not sure I was a believer as bizarrely they suffer droughts there – hard to believe, but there you go. Also, I do wonder how stable such a land mass will be once the weight of the ice cap is no longer there to push downwards upon the land. Can you imagine the rebound – BOUNCE!!! Wasn’t there some sort of actual bunker building going on in the two neighbouring islands of the long white cloud to the east of here? Hope the local residents aren’t armed, but I have an odd notion that they might be. Anyway, despite my misgivings as to the plot, I do look forward to your film disaster of the month review. Always enjoyable. 🙂

    Look after yourself, and yup keep gargling. 🙂 And take it easy, drink plenty of water, get rest and remember to eat well. Not much else you can do. But yeah, you have been careful, so who knows? Someone brought their kid to the pub tonight, and glad they weren’t sitting near to me because the kid was coughing with force. I can’t even begin to imagine what the harried parents were thinking, but there you go.

    Hehe! Dishwater soap bubbles is most certainly suspect. Yes. But thinking in only bubbles can lead to bizarre outcomes. And here we are today.



  21. Hi Inge, DJ, and Simon,

    Thanks for the lovely comment but today is the dreaded mid-week hiatus and an early night is called for. Sleepy…

    Actually I fell asleep earlier this afternoon in the warm late afternoon sunshine, so pleasant, but yeah must need it. Of course it may have been a food coma after the really yummy lemon slice, yeah – real lemons is the only way to make a proper lemon slice. Yum!

    Until tomorrow!



  22. Chris:

    You seem to have awfully good “luck” in moving fairly large trees. Any secrets there?

    What a thrill to see your own saved tomato seeds coming up so nicely and so quickly in their own safe little house. We probably have another couple of weeks of a few tomatoes. This has not been a very good tomato year. They were kind of sparse, though there were very few monsters after them.

    That dark geranium is the most wonderful color.

    We are having a terrible mosquito season, though that is mostly because we have had nice warm, humid weather and they especially like that. I ran an indecisive experiment recently. I noticed one day after eating curry for lunch that a couple of hours later, as I worked outside, no mosquitoes were bothering me. I tried that the next day and – wha la! – no mosquitoes bothered me. I asked my husband and son later if mosquitoes had bothered them. They said: “What mosquitoes?” Mosquitoes had not been out that day. I was a bit crestfallen.

    But I kept up my experiment for a week, which was only a problem as I had to keep making curry, and I really had no trouble with mosquitoes, though I did observe them hovering around me. One wonders, though, if eating curry can keep away insects, what it might be doing to my social life, what little there is.

    One morning a week ago, I was back behind the garden, uphill from the little pond behind our property. I could barely see, through the trees, movement of the water suggestive of a small Loch Ness Monster. I went and got my binoculars and could see just barely see some ducks. That pond never has had ducks before.

    I spent several days watching off and on from far away the small section of the pond I could focus on. I did not want to get up close and frighten the ducks away. One day I was standing frozen on the slope with my binos glued to my eyes and a pair of large bucks, hefty antlers and all, walked through my vision. I jerked off the binos and they saw me and, boy, were they scared! Hunting season starts soon here. They should have been more careful.

    I finally identified the ducks; it had been hard to get a clear look at them. They are Wood Ducks and the males are some of the gaudiest birds one will ever see. I could hardly believe my eyes. So far the count is 2 males, 2 females, and 2 children. I expect they are migrating and stopped for a rest, though it’s been a week so maybe they’ll stay.

    Apparently Wood Ducks actually like the woods, unlike most ducks. This pond is surrounded by woods. They roost in the trees.

    Just for the photos:


  23. Yo, Chris – It got down to 34F (1.11C), last night. Not quit freezing. But, it’s coming. I noticed something interesting, yesterday. The trees have changed color, and lost some of their leaves. But, we haven’t had enough wind to really strip them. Oaks. But the leaves left on the trees are so dry, that when there’s a slight breeze, they rattle. It sounds ominous, or pleasant. I suppose depending on your state of mind.

    The Ox Blood beets that I let bolt and go to seed, were not shy about it. The branches were just loaded with seeds. So heavy, they fell over.

    I’d suppose that you have some version of the “good ol’ boy”, in Australia. I can maybe sum up why people don’t save more seed, in one word. Hybrids. I suspect some of the PR put out on hybrids, might be the efforts of seed companies. In some cases, I think it might be true. Seed saved will not “breed true” to the parent plant. But, I suppose, that can either be a good thing, or a bad thing. What do you think? But, even things that are heritage or heirloom plants, open pollinated, must have been a hybrid at some point, along the way. I guess the acid test is, will they breed true?

    That was an interesting story, about your post office, and, big banks. The first thing that came to mind was, as if the posties don’t have enough to do. Postal banks, or, at least postal savings banks, were once pretty common. And still are in some places. Japan has postal savings, I think. But the question is, do you want it run by the postal service, or government, or is it to be a privatized venture. Well, you know how I feel about the privatization of everything that moves.

    A long time ago, I banged on about state banks. We only have one state that has a state bank (one of the Dakotas). From what I’ve read, they’re pretty successful, and save the state a lot of money in bank “administrative fees.” Turns out, in our State, the government banking end of things is managed by a big bank with the initials B and A. They scrape off a horrendous amount of money. Every once in awhile, someone makes noises about forming a state bank, but it’s firmly trounced down. I’d guess the Big Bank mentioned, has enough clout to suppress that kind of loose talk.

    Oh, we’ve got our work arounds. Administration runs through here with their check-lists, which is mostly a nether region covering action, to off load any liability. If we’re caught at it, we play the dithering old uncle or auntie card. “Oh, didn’t know. Won’t do it again. (At least til your out the door.)”

    If I were of a conspiracy minded bent (why not? everyone else is), I’d say the idea of a thermostat, that can’t be turned off, or, set as low as you’d like it, is a plot by the electrical companies, to increase usage.

    Hmm. Less a bounce, and more a boing. I’ve read that Britain really doesn’t have much in the way of fault lines, but, does have earthquakes, from time to time. And, it’s usually ascribed to recoil from loosing it’s very heavy ice sheet, eons ago. The same will probably happen to Greenland. When they start building, up there, they’d better do their construction with an eye to earthquakes.

    Last night, I watched the new version of “The Secret Garden.” I quit enjoyed it, and you may too. For the gardens, if nothing else. I guess the gardens in the movie were stitched together from half a dozen gardens, around England and Wales. The house is impressive. The child actors aren’t too irritating, though I’m sure the “crippled” boy will put you in mind of Chancey, from “The Awakening Land”, trilogy.

    Slept an awful lot, yesterday, and will probably do the same, today. And, yup, I’m eating well, though streamlined. Yesterday, I took a can of condensed chicken soup, dumped if over some rice with frozen peas, garlic and tofu cubes, dusted the top with nutritional yeast, and called it good. Actually, it was pretty tasty. Might do the same today, and add some of that processed cheese product. Lew

  24. @ Lew
    Are you serious about those self cooked meals that you describe? They sound utterly disgusting to me.


  25. Hi Inge,

    A superb day here, although it was very humid. A big storm may arrive in the next half dozen hours and possibly end up waking me up in the middle of the night. Very heavy rain is forecast.

    Worked all day moving some trees, and also getting the garden beds ready for the growing season. Moved a lot of compost and mulch in the process. And also continued to burn off the epic tree stump that the loggers left (the wind was almost still), so it is a perfect day for a burn off at this time of year).

    Is this the large branch that was threatening your book collection which was previously stored in the shed? Glad to hear that the fates were kind to you and the shed is mostly intact. I’m assuming your son will fix it up?

    The gift of free firewood! 🙂



  26. Hi Simon,

    That would be nice if it were so. 🙂 No, the batteries come with specifications, and then there is the real world. I followed the specifications suggestions, and initially the voltage jumped all over the shop as the battery charge regulators fought tooth and nail with the battery management system inside the battery. There happens to be complex electronics inside lithium batteries. Lithium batteries require fine charging tolerances despite the claims to the contrary. Also, it is worth mentioning that there are a number of different lithium chemistries floating around and they don’t all work, or act the same. The hand power tool lithium battery you might be familiar with has cobalt in it just for one example, and won’t last anywhere near as long as the ones I installed, and isn’t charged the same way as the batteries installed here – however, they smaller batteries give a whole lot more bang for buck.

    Whilst I’m rabbiting on about battery charging, you make the assumption that all battery chargers work the same. It ain’t so, and this stuff is most definitely not plug and play. I would not recommend using a cheapie battery charger to charge these batteries.

    On a bright note, the batteries have now impressed me with their black magic voodoo chemistry! They are uncanny in the way they function. The closest battery I’ve seen to how a fuel tank works, but they ain’t good enough to save industrial civilisation from decline.

    PS: Your book arrived in the mail yesterday morning and I look forward to reading it. 🙂



  27. Hi DJ,

    What do you mean by things being in ‘slow down’ in your part of the world? My perspective has been warped due to the sheer craziness of things down here so anything is really on the table as far as I understand things. Dunno.

    Hey, did the appliance repair dudes get your machine working again?

    Well, one thing that I noted about George RR Martin’s writing was that he was unafraid to kill off major characters. And then bring them back from beyond! I’ve read the book, but the Red Wedding was a memorable moment for all the wrong reasons.

    Actually I’m amazed at how many historical trends from the Roman era that the Monty Python guys picked up on and then spoofed. Their classical history education far surpassed what I’d been exposed to.

    “he made it clear that he thought William was a right git” William was an odd bloke because as good as he was militarily, and the facts speak for themselves in this instance, he kept leaving the land he conquered so that he could be an absentee landlord. That trick has not worked out well in the past, and I doubt it would work well today. From my reading of history, it seems that every time he departed the shores, the troubles began anew – even among his supporters. This does not speak well of the people who he surrounded himself with. Glad you liked the all bad apples quote! They sure were, and best not get caught up in their webs is how I think of the matter.

    I tend to believe that the story of the absentee landlord is part of the troubles we experience these days.

    Oh my! Did the weather really get that cold (or is going to)? Such cold weather strikes fear into my heart. We conducted two burn offs today as the wind was almost non-existent and very heavy rain is forecast to fall much later this evening. We had plans to weed and feed all of the garden vegetable beds today, but it is a truth universally acknowledged that plans are not the same as what got done, and um, yeah. Did maybe about two thirds of that job and my head feels mildly cooked this evening. Another day should have that job sorted.

    Gytha, the daughter, most certainly lead an eventful life. What an epic rabbit hole you sent me down.

    Exactly, in theory, theory and practice are the same, but in reality, theory defers to experience (practice). This tale was borne out by you mentioning that it is always wise to speak with the folks on the floor, doing whatever it is they are doing. Thus the three hours I spent last weekend ensuring that the programming of the battery charge controllers was spot on. It is not a simple process. And incidentally it is a bugbear of mine when people chime in and suggest they have this model as to how renewable energy systems should work, and why is anything proving to be difficult for you as I have this here model. And around and around we go. Hmm.

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? The roadrunners being birds are more alert to the presence of rattlesnakes than out dull senses are. And if we but stop to observe and listen to the roadrunners, we get advance warning that a rattlesnake is in the vicinity. The Kookaburra’s and Magpies all have alert calls, and whenever I hear them making that call, I take a good look around. Usually they are complaining about two young Kelpie pups, but that isn’t always the case. However, if there is a fox on the farm, the birds will seek me out and thus request assistance.

    Just went out to push the two separate fires together, and my brain is a bit cooked tonight, so hope I’m making sense… 🙂



  28. Hi Pam,

    It maybe less luck, than just giving it a go and seeing how it all works out. To be candid, I don’t really mollycoddle the trees in the orchard, although they do get set up with good conditions, fed and weeded regularly and then they have to fend for themselves. However, when it comes to moving trees I tend to wait for a day like today when the soil is warm and heavy rain looms in the forecast. Mind you, the heavy rain hasn’t materialised yet! Oh no… I’m on tank water and have a limited supply, but the rain can water transplanted trees in far better than I ever could. Dunno, most of the trees take.

    Yeah, if the seasons suddenly flipped upside down, the tomatoes here would likewise be winding down on the slow march to winter. It ain’t just you, my tomato harvest last year was maybe somewhere between 20% and 25% of what I normally expect – thus the greenhouse. An horrendous growing season, and without the supermarkets and fresh food market, I’d probably be long since dead of starvation! Ook…

    Thank you and the dark geranium is a little ripper – which we ripped off a cutting from a garden many years ago. It is such a beautiful colour. Geraniums can stand plenty of hacking back.

    Good stuff with the curry experiment. Did you know that some people are more likely to have mosquitoes attracted to them, than other people? Not sure what it says about me, but the horse flies like my flesh – pesky critters. Anyway, thought you might enjoy this link on the subject: Why do mozzies love some people but not others?

    Ain’t much social life down this way given the craziness, so huge chunks of curry might not be the social scary thing that you might imagine it to be. And hey, there’s curry, and then there’s curry… We recently fed a batch of Tandoori curry mix to the worms (poor things) as it was just a bit too strong for whatever it was used in. In India the memory of the spice merchants has stuck with me and all of the spices were stored in opened sacks on display to the public. The colours were amazing, and the smell – memorable, in a good way.

    Oh, your wood ducks are very attractive birds. And fingers crossed that they enjoy some quiet time on the small pond free from getting shot. We sometimes get mountain ducks here, and yeah it’s not good because of the three dogs. However a lot of nearby property owners have large dams (ponds) and right now due to the wet winter and spring, there are ducks everywhere. It is a pleasure to see an adult duck with a train of trailing ducklings following. Open season is pretty short here, probably because hunters may have taken things too far in the past. I certainly would not allow a hunter onto this property. No way.

    The Echidna’s are out and about now, and in random spots I discover holes dug with little pokey round snub nosed holes in the soil. They’re good critters as they eat the ants. The ants and I are not on friendly terms.



  29. Chris:

    Thank you for the “mozzie” article. I feel sick . . . No, but I tend to forget how many nasty diseases they carry. This was funny:

    “Hairy arms or legs can be a physical deterrent to mozzies. So Miss Mozzie might be expected to make a move on a smooth-skinned beer-drinking bloke wearing dark clothing.”

    You’d better watch out?

    You have heard of our western wildfires as Lew and DJ have had their troubles with those. My parents in Fort Collins, Colorado have had at least 2 months of smoke, also. Some days the air is really dark and yellow or orange. I mean dark as in one has to drive with headlights on. I hear that the wildfire nearest them – the largest in Colorado history – is only 8 miles away. I think there is a very large reservoir between them and it, so they may be safe. Fort Collins is 350,000 people, which is just the tip of the iceberg as there are many smaller communities around it, so that is a lot of people to possibly move, in a pandemic. A friend of my sister’s in a town up the canyon from them has been issued a mandatory evacuation.

    My feeling is that they will be safe enough (if they didn’t have to keep breathing smoke) as they are on the side of town furthest from the fire.


  30. Hi Lewis,

    The editor has longed for a pink flamingo steel decoration for more years than I’ve able to fend her off this unseemly desire of hers. I tend to feel that a decorative pink flamingo would upset the natural artistic composition and vision of the farm. Basically, the thing would be out of place. But yeah, should one ever end up here, I’ll stoically bear the thing out of place that it will be. Anyway, just to stir me up, the editor showed me a Halloween image of four ‘day of the dead’ stylised black flamingos and very sad looking pink flamingo in tatters on the ground and at their feet. Each of the black flamingos had chunks of pink stuff in their beaks. The story was not hard to tell, but yeah, that might work better in the overall artistic composition of the farm. Maybe? But, very amusing.

    It’s almost Halloween in your part of the world – not that anything goes on down here about it. When I was a kid, Guy Fawkes Night was celebrated, but that was quietly dropped at sometime or other, I now forget. Possibly about the same time that fireworks were banned from sale. It might have been deemed not to be a wise idea to remind the plebs that such a possibility, is err, possible…

    I’m going with pleasant sounding, as I quite like the sounds of the winds moving through the trees. You can actually watch the gusts move through the upper reaches of the trees. Years and years ago in the big smoke, I rented for a short while in the old suburb of Williamstown. It has a shipyard, and harbour. On windy nights I used to love going for walks and hearing the sound of the wind whipping through the masts and stays of the many small boats moored in the harbour. It is an eerie sound, but kind of nice to hear at the same time.

    Good stuff with the Ox blood beets. That doesn’t surprise me, as some of the radishes – which I can’t imagine are that different to beets also have flowers and stems that have fallen over. The bees have been very busy of late and are everywhere in the gardens. Whenever I get near to the hedge of lavender near to the strawberry enclosure, the hum is audible.

    Moved a few more trees today – an ornamental pear and a liquid amber. Planted another dozen Chilean guavas for the new hedge of that plant. Then we weeded the raspberry, strawberry, blackberry enclosures and two of the garden terraces. Plus they all scored a feed of compost and mulch. Plus we continued burning off the huge Meg tree stump that the loggers were kind enough to leave for me to deal with. My brain now hurts, so hopefully I’m making sense?

    The reason for all of the work, well apparently an epic rain storm will arrive over the next few hours and wash all of the compost down and in. Believe it or not, we had plans that even more work than that was done, but 3pm rolled around and we hadn’t yet had lunch and so called it quits. We even got up early this morning so as to get an early start on the work. By the end of the work day I was covered in compost dust from head to toe and just got the garden hose on to me and washed it all off. Fortunately the day was hot, but not too hot.

    Just checked the radar (a wonderful technology) and it looks like the rain is about 6 hours away. And is a thunderstorm. Well, that will sure wake me up. I wonder how Plum and Ruby will cope with the thunderstorm. Some dogs go crazy with thunder, and I recall that old Scritchy used to have a nose for them – and she’d hide under the bed shaking in terror at their approach.

    We’re a really urban population down here that hugs the coastline. Inland it’s pretty quiet, and the further your travel inland, the more quiet it gets. It always amazes me that you have large cities far from the coastline in your country, if only because the contrast is quite marked. But yeah, not sure what the down under version of a ‘good ol’ boy’ would be. Although city folk have some funny perceptions and aren’t afraid of sharing them. There was that memorable time when I encountered a guy who was related to a friend of the editors friend. What was weird about it, was that the guy worked where I used to work, so we had some common ground and I caught up on all the gossip. Anyway during the discussion he just happened to blurt out that he thought that people living in the country were stupid, before he then back tracked and added in – oh, except you two (meaning the editor and I). What is wrong with some people?

    Actually, it was the Rodale book on seed raising that Claire recommended which mentioned that hybrid seeds could potentially be bred so as to produce useful plants. It was a byline in the book, but yeah I can see where the authors were coming from. It was an excellent book too. I don’t believe that even open pollinated heritage variety seeds breed exactly true to type, and the person harvesting the seeds can introduce their own needs into the seed saving process. But what I have noticed about open pollinated heritage varieties of seeds is that they do get more attuned to the local conditions with each season. I just have to learn to hold some back in reserve just in case. The utter loss of my watermelon seeds last year was a serious kick up the backside on that front.

    There is middle ground there, and some things and services the government does well. Other things are best left to private concerns. The recent handling of the health subject that dare not be named, has highlighted that sometimes public servants can really stuff things up royally – then we all have to pay the price. Oh, and there was more to the post story: AusPost invites volunteer parcel deliveries while executives eye bonuses. Some folks apparently cannot read the room.

    It is funny you mention that, but I have read of new banks starting up down under. They’re often virtual banks, so I don’t really understand how all that works. The shadow banking system is a rather interesting thing that goes on quietly in the background.

    At least ’til you’re out the door!!! Hehe! That’s funny, but so true.

    Bear in mind I have some sympathy for how these electrical systems work, and to be honest it boggles my mind that any system would be so created that would turn all of those electric heaters on. The power required to do that would be bonkers, and yeah I’d turn them off at the switchboard too. Most of the stuff here is turned off at the wall after use. The new batteries are doing well, but Lewis, they are black magic voodoo batteries…

    Boing! Mate, I’m still coming to terms with the bell klaxon sound that you spoke of the day the big one hit the earth all those 65 million years ago. Talk about defeaning… Let alone islands bouncing and recoiling from the loss of a heavy ice sheet. Greenland would be a tough environment to make a living out of the environment.

    You guessed right, I’d love to walk around some of those English gardens. Thanks for the recommendation and I’ll add it to the to-see list. Hmm, Chancey was a sore trial for the people around him. And also a good reminder that sometimes a bit of honesty is not a bad idea so as to avoid future tragedy.

    You look after yourself young man! And keep up those fluids, take plenty of rest and eat well. Mate, a couple of years ago when the editor and I caught the flu – not a cold, but the flu – I was struck down first, and then recovered just as the editor was struck down low. One day when the editor was very ill I had no choice other than to head into the big smoke. When I got back later that day, it was like a bomb had gone off and it was all the editor could do just to heat up the food left behind for her to eat, and then she crashed out. So yeah, enjoy whatever food you can find the energy to make is my thinking. 🙂



  31. Hello again
    It was the large branch previously mentioned but I have 3 sheds and the books are not in the one that was threatened.
    Property prices are soaring here as the elite have discovered that they can work from home. They are leaving the cities and buying the expensive properties on the Island, not the cheaper housing estate ones. Sooner or later they will discover that the Island lacks other things that they regard as indispensable!


  32. Chris,

    You’re in “shut down” or “lock down”. We don’t have everything open, but are not in “shut down”, so I call it “slow down”.

    Yes, the appliance repair guy seems to have sorted out the problem. The first bloke in August was doing “warranty work”, so did the least he could get away with. So the second time it fizzled, I hired a reputable guy, who did real diagnostics. We chatted and we both were convinced that the relay was faulty. The local parts place had like 6 of them in stock, so he said, “Clearly a real issue for this brand if they have a bunch in stock.” 2 days later, he changed out a circuit panel, in which the new one included a totally improved and different relay than did the original. And we have a 2 year warranty on his parts and labor.

    Oh, yeah, something I’d heard about “Thrones” is that any character you begin to like will likely not survive for long. The old late late night show with Craig Ferguson really made fun of that. We’ve already seen that happen to characters, whilst some of the truly despicable ones appear to lead charmed lives. This, of course, jibes with my experiences growing up. Being the well behaved kid in school had its downside: getting miffed when the churls acted, well churlish and got away with it, but I’d approach the edge of polite behavior and immediately get in trouble. “Thrones” so far includes a little of that, although there don’t appear to be any innocents among the noble families.

    Nice take on William. Yes, he tended to view Normandy as The Main Thing and England as a mere colony. And when he’d surrounded himself with a bunch of distant rellies who were a nasty conniving and violent crowd, as well as a bunch of other ruthless adventurers from wherever, things couldn’t go well unless he rode herd on them. Perhaps had he remained in England and tried to exert some control on his thugs, her, followers, then maybe the English wouldn’t have been rebelling so often. The need for an Eadric the Wild or Hereward might not have been needed. Heck, William’s own half brother, Bishop Odo, was one of his worst thugs, er followers, as soon as William’s back was turned. With brothers like Odo, who needs enemies?

    The weather is a bit chillier than normal this morning, but not downright cold. -5C this morning (Friday) is low, but not as cold as Sunday night and Monday night should be. I live right on the elevation cusp for this storm system: the heavy snow is supposed to be above 600 meters. I’m at about 615 meters. Hard to say how much snow will fall here – plus the storm should hit while the temps are +3C, so it might be more of a rain/snow mix? I’ll let you know after.

    Ah yes, daughter Gytha’s life was quite the rabbit hole, wasn’t it? The entire “what happened to the English nobility after Hastings?” is a ginormous rabbit hole if one gets sucked into it. Notice I’m NOT adding more links for that enlarged rabbit hole.

    Situational awareness is something that I try to practice regularly, and then use when in public settings. Befriending the local friendly birds helps with this, because they notice things before you will. And then the rewards get to be when they trust you and basically ask your help with things – like the foxes where you are, or the water I leave out for them during the dry seasons here. I may have mentioned once when I was weeding my rock garden and saw a crow 10 meters distant trying to open a walnut, which he likely stole from a resident squirrel after said squirrel had likely harvested the walnut from my tree! The crow was getting nowhere with the nut and disappeared. Then “Klunk!” and the nut landed on the concrete walk nearby. I picked it up, walked to where the crow had been trying to open it, and gave it a good whack with my hand trowel, then returned to my work. Crow came back and settled down for his tasty walnut feast. When he gave out a loud chorus of “caw caw caw” I still don’t know if he was thanking me or saying “Hey mates, we got a trained human on our payroll!”

    Despite the slightly cooked brain, you were making sense. Well, as much as normal at any rate. 😉


  33. @ Pam – Thanks for the kind thoughts. Sore throat is almost gone, but I am sooooo tired. Sleeping a lot.

    We have Wood Ducks, too! Decades ago, they almost went extinct, in our part of the world. So, first hunting was banned, and then there was a big push to build Wood Duck nesting boxes. Like most birds, they had to be built to very specific specifications. More recently, our bluebirds almost disappeared. Not due to hunting, but more to habitat loss. So, there was a big push to build nesting boxes, for them, in their preferred habitat. The field / forest interface. Seems to be working. They’re coming back. Lew

  34. @ Inge – Yup. Everything I describe, is what I eat. Typical bachelor fare. I do draw the line at live, small animals 🙂 . LOL. I’m sure The Son makes excursions into the kitchen, that you never hear about. I made the same thing, I mentioned, with the addition of the cheese and mushrooms. Tasty! Sticks to your ribs! Lew

  35. @Pam

    I just saw your comment about Wood Ducks. They are too cool. At our new place we see them up in our oak and hickory trees in the spring and they nest in our neighbor’s pond across the road.


  36. Yo, Chris – Well, we had another night of 34F. It’s supposed to be slightly warmer, tonight, as the rain is coming in for a day. Then, according to the National Weather Service, it’s at least five days of sun, with frigid night temperatures. We’ll see. According to Prof. Mass, there are lots of “interesting” things going on in our atmosphere, and just about anything is possible. My apartment is getting colder, but, rather than turning on the heat, I throw another blanket on the bed and broke out the flannel shirts and sweaters. I also wear my stocking cap, inside. As one tends to loose heat through the head. According to reports 🙂 . I got to thinking about night caps. I’m sure they’re still available, but you don’t hear much about them, or, see them, anymore. But, a stocking cap works just as well.

    Oh, heck. Let the Editor have her pink flamingoes. A whole flock of them. We had a head librarian at one building, who had a whole flock at home. I think the idea of the Halloween flamingoes, is great! Probably what the Addams Family, had on their front lawn. 🙂 . At one point (1940s? 50s?) there was a craze for flamingoes painted on large mirrors. Some had mirror squares for the frame.

    In good shape, they are collectible, and can bring a pretty penny.

    Spot on. Some sounds are eerie, but nice.

    So, are the Chilean Guavas, edible or ornamental?

    Well, our inland cities usually developed along rivers or lakes. Later, it was railroad hubs. But, like you, the bulk of our population is along the coasts. I’m watching a documentary series, called “The American West.” Produced by Robert Redford, so, the production values are higher than the usual documentary. There are the usual talking heads, but also some really top notch re-enactments. The tale is told through the lives of outlaw Jesse James, Sitting Bull, Wyatt Earp, General Custer, etc.. Also, some good cameos of everyone from the fellow who founded Pinkerton Detective Agency to President Grant. General Custer is particularly good. He’s portrayed as a strutting, wild-eyed, psychopath. 🙂 .

    Manifest Destiny, and all that, but I finished “Break It Up”, last night. The book about secession movements, in the US. I skimmed through most of the first part of it. Seems like anyone brassed off with the Federal Government, formed a secession movement. Most of it glossed over, due to this idea of Union. I was interested in the more modern bits. Back when we had our Civil War, it was pretty much a geographical divide. Now, it’s more of a rural / city divide. So one is not likely to see great armies, fielded. What I found really interesting, is that not so many years ago, Russia sponsored a conference, for anyone in the world who was contemplating secession. The Basques, the Irish. There were Americans, mostly from California and Texas. What’s interesting is that the Russians paid the American’s way. They do like to keep the pot stirring. 🙂 . Also interesting is that if California were it’s own country, it would be the 6th largest economy, in the world. Also, California sends billions of dollars to the Federal Government, far more than it gets back. I think I mentioned that, before. Talk about an imbalance of trade! 🙂 .

    Continuing the rural / city divide, “Except for you” is kind of a back handed compliment. Right up there with “Some of my best friends are …”

    As a seed saver, I’ve really got to watch what other people are planting in the garden. And as our space is pretty tight, and other people don’t give a thought to how what they plant effects other gardeners. Last year, though I said nothing, I was pretty fried when Jody, the Garden Goddess, decided to plant a hybrid sweet corn, 30 feet from my precious Jimmy Red. Luckily, her patch was stunted, and never developed.

    Your post office seems to have as many problems as ours, for different reasons. My gosh! Who set that 2.5 million wage? Well, the Board, of course, bribed with their own bonuses and expensive watches. 🙂 . Interesting about calling for volunteers. In some places, people volunteered, here. But were turned away. “Thanks, but no thanks.” Can’t have “civilians” mucking about with the mail. Lew

  37. Dear Ollie,
    Margaret read about your trials with your young mates. I can so relate. When Salve first arrived she was only a little older than Plum and Ruby and I suffered for it. Luckily there was a lab, Jethro, just down the street who could keep up with her and gave me some piece. Now she’s older and has learned some proper manners. However what goes around comes around as she has found with Ruth, the pandemic puppy, comes for a visit. I am wise enough to know that a low growl and just ignoring her will keep Ruth under some control. Salve hasn’t learned that yet. Two weeks ago Ruth and her owners came for an overnight visit and naturally Ruth’s behavior was over the top. Salve retreated to the house just to get away. The next morning though Salve seems to have accepted the pup as Ruth has finally realized who’s boss so they spent the morning bouncing around the living room, growling and play biting for hours thankfully leaving me alone.

    We all went out for a morning walk and Ruth was off her leash for the first time and Margaret and Doug’s road has very little traffic especially on a Sunday morning. Imagine Ruth’s shock when another neighbor came out with his large lab and two young Great Danes. It was a dog festival in the street though Ruth was quite intimidated and at one point ran about 1/4 mile down the road to get away. All of us dogs ended up getting along just fine in the end. We’ll see if Ruth has learned some lessons the next time she comes for a visit.

    Your friend,

    PS: I think you should get Chris to take you out for a walk without the girls – a male bonding time – don’t you think?

  38. Hi Chris,
    Not too much new here. Weather has turned cold and rainy. Our county has seen a rapid rise in cases of that which can’t be mentioned – 74 more in the last 24 hours and we’re up to almost 1800 now and we’re a small county. More restrictions have been put back as expected. We are beginning to hear of people we know or know family and some have been or are seriously ill and in hospital so best we lay kind of low for awhile. It doesn’t bother me too much but Doug is just too social and has the need to get out and about some. Golf is pretty much over and that was his one outlet for the last months. Even so we have less restrictions than you and I hope that changes some. My aunt, who is very afraid of getting it due to lowered immune system and the fact that she’s almost 77, even had me overnight last weekend and we went to my daughter’s and she stayed over there too. I think I’ve mentioned that she lives alone so has been very isolated.

    Well on that happy note I’ll sign off. Sounds like you and the editor have been almost too busy so I hope you take a day off soon.


  39. Hi Inge,

    Good to hear and it is a gift of free firewood as far as I’m concerned. No doubts your son will manage the cutting and splitting of the branch? It surprises me that some people up here are unable to manage those sorts of everyday tasks. But then your mention of people moving onto your island and pushing up property prices is part of that particular story.

    Melbourne residents rush for travel permits to conduct fire preparations at holiday homes.

    The article fascinated me because it was replete with half-truths and sad tales of woe. I was amazed that the bloke with the vacant block couldn’t seem to come up with the mad cash to pay a local bloke to mow his vacant block with water views – and yet he can apparently seem to find enough mad cash to pay for the fuel for the probably six hour return drive from Melbourne? This sort of logic is shoddy at best. I’m seeing a lot of that sort of shoddy logic employed – and they are effectively sob stories that hardly stands-up to much poking.

    Maybe it is me, but absentee property owners in rural areas force property prices up for the locals, and so there becomes an outward exodus of particularly the children who grew up in the area, because they can’t afford to live there. I’ve read of country towns that are holiday destinations where they have trouble fielding a local football or netball team, let alone have enough volunteers to man the local fire brigade.

    And there are no facilities in rural areas. I love that aspect, but I do also wonder at the buyers remorse to which you hinted at.

    There is so much productive rural land that is under utilised, but also fenced off from the local wildlife, that it boggles my imagination.



  40. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the explanation, although to be frank I’m having a bunch of trouble understanding what your words actually mean. Unfortunately I just happened to have crash landed in one extreme end of that particular story through no personal choice, and so it is really hard to see from here what is going on in other parts of the globe. That story just doesn’t get told in our media, so we don’t know.

    There are times that I believe that for one reason or another, we have been made an example of, if only because the current restrictions are quite extraordinary and long lasting which doesn’t seem to be the case anywhere else on the planet. For want of a better way to describe things: The lunatics have taken over the asylum. 🙂

    Exactly, the ability to diagnose a problem is a real skill, and respect for taking the repair path that you took. I would act no differently, and I mean you’ve invested in the machine, so why not make it work as it was promised to do so? And of course there are times when you have to cut your losses and start all over again, but then things could always be worse is a possible outcome of that. My gut feeling, and we faced this with replacing the former Dirt Mouse Suzuki, was that the costs escalated to the point at which further repairs became an economic mockery. Sheer Tomfoolery! We’ve had to readjust our perspectives on how long a vehicle could be expected to last – this is an economic choice based on the probabilities learned via previous experience.

    One of the things I make a point of doing with the farm machine repair dudes is that when machines break or need attention and I am unable to provide this, I get them to repair the machine and then ask questions about what went wrong. And in doing so, I recently learned something about the two-stroke fuel mix I was using. An old timer had suggested to me to use a 25:1 ratio or the fuel:oil ratio when mixing the two stroke fuel. The thinking was that the extra oil would be of benefit to the internals of the engine. Yet, that suggested ratio made the machine too hard to start as the engine was tuned to a 50:1 ratio. I had to weigh up the compromise between the ability to start the machine, and then the wear and tear caused by utilising the leaner ratio. Whilst all at the same time knowing that nothing is perfect and everything is a compromise.

    I’m not intending to watch the series, but I spoke today with an old mate who had likewise read the books way back in the day and wanted the author to complete the story even if he had to employ a ghost writer. We both agreed that Peter Dinklage could do no wrong, but yeah all of the characters in the story are all way-bad-apples! And probably got their just desserts.

    Well, if you think about it for a bit, William the Conqueror may have been able to conquer, but could he administer? My gut feeling suggests that the answer might just be: No. What was he thinking with such epic over reach? Even the Vikings (respect) knew they had to join in or head back home and come pillage another season.

    And of course, that does raise the awful spectre that, William being a bit of a git (as you so politely put it), he would have surrounded himself with other gits, or perhaps lesser gits, and so when it came to the boring task of administering the aftermath of his gitness, well none of them were up for the job.

    Yeah, you know -5’C is colder than I’ve ever seen here, and if it were to happen, well you’d probably hear the epic whinge-fest from your part of the world. We’re soft, what else can I say? We are not far off in terms of elevation above sea level. Hey, did you score any snow? It only snowed here about three weeks ago… Please take our winter batten! It rained all day today. Feral weather.

    Yes, I do respect the fact that you did not lead me into another interweb rabbit hole. Present life must go on, despite the tawdry historical past which often does not reflect well upon the individuals. My basic take on the history of Europe is that the cultures there have been at each others throats for a very long time, and I note that despite the present arrangements, the basic cultures remain the same. The song my friend, remains the same. Are we in an interlude?

    Crows! Oh my, only recently I read a delightful fictional book about a crow in the aftermath of the zombie apocalypse. It was an entirely new take on the genre, and I enjoyed the book immensely. The book was titled: Hollow Kingdom. And um, yeah, despite you and your lovely lady turning into rampaging zombies, the crows will most definitely have fond feelings towards you. This is a good thing of course, because zombisim can hardly be helped by the individual sufferers.

    Thank you for the feedback. I woke up several times last evening and this is not a good state of affairs for a person who ordinarily sleeps like the dead. The first wake-event was that the thunder woke up the dogs who demanded to be let outside to learn what all of the fuss was about. After a minute in the driving rain whilst I relieved myself, the dogs decided that thunder was boring, and a comfortable bed was more pleasant than driving rain. The second wake-event was when the rain was pounding so heavily on the roof that I could no longer ignore its gentle ministrations to the systems here. So I had to head outside and ensure that the water filters on the tanks had not blocked up with unidentified organic matter. Thus having sated my curiosity in this matter, I went back to bed and again fell back into sleep. It is possible that zombies might do better in the circumstances, but one does what they can in a pinch. 🙂



  41. Hi Margaret,

    Unfortunately I now have a bit of fatigue about the health subject which dare not be named. I do feel bad about this state of affairs, but far out, the folks down here with the control buttons, are doing such a poor job of managing the issue – with the some of the strictest restrictions in place on the planet – and still they seem to be stuffing it up completely due to what looks to me like complete ineptitude. I’m now coming around to the point of view that it is a total crap shoot. The media, to its credit is at least reporting on the blow-by-blow accounts as to how things got stuffed up in the various circumstances. It doesn’t look good to me. Given the circumstances reported in the media, I’m not sure that I’d trust these folks to open a paper bag, but yeah they are in control with some extraordinary powers so I best keep my opinions to myself.

    Exactly, you have gotten to my understanding of the matter. You ultimately have to be responsible for your own health, based on your own risk profile.

    And you also raised the other matter which I have been long pondering. You are seriously nailing this! In all this fear of impending death and illness, you have to remember to live. As a society, we managed to get through the 1919 Spanish flu, which did unfortunately originate in your country, and somehow we managed to muddle through that just fine. And that particular strain of influenza killed something like 50 million people worldwide who were predominantly the young and healthy due to the over active immune response . We are nowhere near those numbers yet.

    Hmm. I have heard that such isolation techniques are treated as punishment in prison environments.

    It rained well over an inch in the past twenty four hours, and the rain was well received, although it did wake me up in the middle of the night with concerns as to how the various drainage and collection systems were coping. If any of the systems fail, the results are not good…

    We took it easier today and just nabbed some gourmet pies (yum!) and a lemon slice may also have been involved, as well as a old long established garden. A very pleasant day, despite the persistent rain.



  42. Dear Leo,

    Cordial tail wags to you my canine friend. I have long heard of your exploits, respect for your noble lineage, and totally understand the many trials which Salve visited upon you back in the day.

    Please excuse me for a moment, as Ruby sauntered into the room where I was reclining at my ease upon the green dog couch. Ruby then decamped in a northerly direction and began biting my face, but erroneously also began nipping on Chris. Ouch that hurt! A blue fly swat convenient to hand for this very purpose was rapidly brought into play and with good effect. Ruby was sent elsewhere, and I can now continue the missive.

    Where were we? Jethro the lab up the street. My canine friend, I tell you this, Jethro was a sucker for a puppy with sharp teeth, and Salve was possibly a sore trial in her early days. And I mean this literally too, and I bet if requested you could show me the scars on your ears from her pointy sharp teeth. My ears have calluses from pointy sharp teeth, and this is not a good thing as it mar’s my perfect symmetry, which I believe you will agree with (if the fur was on the other paw so to speak).

    Leo, you are wise in the ways of the fluff, and so also know that the best deterrence for obstreperous young pups is to roundly warn them from the folly of their behaviours, ignore the worst of it, and then to learn to live with the ear calluses. Salve of course has only just begun to learn the ways of the fluffy. Ruth, well there is no hope, and all Salve can do is hope that the pandemic puppy picks up a modicum of fluffy lessons, whilst hoping that she does not tread down the path of the dark side. Because after all, it is dark over there – and there may not be supplies of chews or bones.

    Respect to you my friend,

    Ollie – Bull Arab extraordinaire and uncontested best cattle dog on the farm.

    PS: Thank you for your concerns. I spent all day long yesterday following Chris around the farm whilst we worked. An enjoyable day and I slept soundly last evening, other than the thunder.

  43. Hi Lewis,

    Oh my, your north west originated weather which the good Professor wrote about, reminds me an awful lot of the craziness that comes with our south west originated weather. It is not usually windy here, although some occasional strong gusts are not unknown, but not to those sorts of wind speeds.

    It rained and rained all day long today. Must have begun about midnight last night, and just continued all day. At about 3am, thunder woke up the dogs and they felt the need to celebrate this event and um, yeah, they woke me up. The noisy canines were booted outside where they rapidly made up their minds that yes, the thunder in the middle of the night was something to alert me to, but no, possibly there might be consequences for having acted so. A few minutes of the unpleasant experience in the driving rain was enough to convince the dogs of the errors of their ways. Then maybe an hour later, the very heavy rainfall on the roof of the house woke me up and suggested that I better go check out the water tank inlet filters just to make sure they were not over flowing. Fortunately, the inlet filters were very clean and at least the air temperature wasn’t too cold. A disturbed nights sleep but perhaps a good case could be made that I shouldn’t have felt anywhere near as good as I did when I awoke this morning.

    Dunno about you, but I tend to sleep better in cold weather and so inadvertently follow your current theory about extra blankets. Didn’t people used to wear long-johns to bed way back in the day? I recall them. And I recall at one stage a decade or two back they were being marketed as under garments for use in hiking in very cold conditions – but I can’t quite recall the fancy name which was used to describe the clothes. Of course, if you were to face the awfulness of a three dog night, with only two dogs, well you might not sleep as well due to lack of warmth. This could amusingly be described as the awfulness of being: two (sic) cold. 😉 Hehe!

    For your interest, I’m trialling a mode of care which I’ve created and can now be known as the ‘after-funeral’ support. One of the odd things that I noticed about funerals, was that in the immediate aftermath people were bonkers supportive. By about four to six weeks later, support drops away sharply and people are left in a state of mind which can only be interpreted as: “Are we still talking about this? I was over this last week!” So yeah, I didn’t provide much initial support, and are now trialling a more useful approach.

    Lewis, you are a very bad influence, or so my mum might have suggested. Of course she seemed to be rather wrong about many things and this might have been one of them – or not! The editor needs no encouragement with the pink flamingos! Hehe! Head librarian you say, hmm, well if people in high places have deep respect for pink flamingos, well that might just sway things a bit. But then, I’m so torn about this question: should I double down and stick to my guns? That is the question. How does a person recant their former opinions and keep credibility?

    Yeah, the black ‘day of the dead’ flamingos look great and are candidly probably closer to my artistic taste. Some people have the best ideas. Incidentally, this is the second reference to the Adams Family today. The earlier mention was Cousin Itt. Hey, you know it never occurred to me that the Adams Family was a deliberate inversion of the ideal American family. A curious way to consider the show. Charles Addams the cartoonist was an interesting character.

    The mirrors are very interesting and well depicted, and do you reckon the flamingo scenes were hand painted?

    Chilean Guavas are most certainly edible, and a truly delightful tasting berry, although very small and thus never seen commercially. They taste like lemonade, and I already have many of the plants growing, but now there are about two dozen all up, maybe more as I’ve lost count. And whilst they are not care-free plants, they are close to that state. Super hardy.

    The documentary sounds really interesting. The first reference to the Pinkerton mob, as distinct from pink flamingos, was in the series ‘Deadwood’ – the group had an odious reputation in the series but were not to be trifled with either. It was hard not to notice that you have a federal employment law relating to that particular company! Over-reach is perhaps a classic error, which the company may have made a long time ago. That may be so about ol’ George, but the same cannot be said about Elizabeth Bacon Custer. What a person, and the light of a sharp wit can be seen peering from those eyes. You did say that sometimes a spouse goes into bat for the legacy – and that is a solid example of that process in action. Wow!

    Hey, the English have been pretty good adepts at pursuing the strategy of divide and conquer. You could say that it is in their DNA, and may have been finely honed over the past two millennia. The conference is perhaps so patently transparent, that I kind of respect it. But subtle, perhaps not. As to the economy, well I don’t really know what it means when nations attempt to print their way out of troubles. Nowadays I guess they call that Modern Monetary Theory, but if one area of a country supplies more money than another, and yet another part can simply print the stuff, I really have no idea what it all means. But it probably isn’t good.

    Oh yes of course you do have the problem of cross pollination, and plants are notoriously easy going about such reproductive matters. Who knows what is going on there really, but open pollinated plants tend to be all over the shop with flowering times, growth rates and harvesting, so it might not be all that much of a drama. Carefully selected hybrids usually used in commercial production tend to be a lot more uniform – which can in and of itself introduce other problems.

    It is an impressive salary for a public servant. And the article did sort of suggest that they had apparently been advised not to take the bonus, but they seem to have done so all the same. Not good optics as is sometimes heard. The volunteer aspect was for employees to use their own resources which of course would be supplied free so as to get the job done. A strange request in my books given the bonus situation, but there you go. I guess it just goes to prove that it does no harm to ask, but a ‘no’ can lead to troubling reactions.

    I believe tampering with mail is a criminal offence – so volunteers were probably sent back home, despite the need.



  44. Hi Chris
    Good blog this week. Good work on the Battery change out!
    I just wanted to send you a couple of things to look at .

    First : batteryuniversity. com. Lots of info on every thing battery related.

    Second : train Great pics of good forest management in central Oregon , Also great adult toy train pics. Chris don’t waste too much time on the trains now?

    Cheers Al

  45. Chris,

    Did we get snow? Did we ever! I measured 10cm on the flat concrete areas that weren’t totally frozen when the storm hit. On the lawn in the back I measured 22cm. Officially we got 17cm which translates to about 18mm of rain equivalent for this storm. I emailed you a couple photos. A few trees have some cracked limbs due to the weight of the snow. The previous earliest measurable snow that I remember here was the 15cm on Halloween 1971.

    Neighbor’s daughter turns 32 today. She said that she “didn’t want this for my birthday.” Her parents told her, “This is 2020. Take whatever you can get.”

    With that in mind, I took my time moving the snow. Big Bertha snowblowing machine got most of it done and then plugged up as the snow is wet. But it is wondrously sunny, the birds are singing, and it is time for a largish late breakfast. My sanity improves during this ongoing weirdness when I make sure that I slow down and enjoy the little things.

    Will catch up to the rest of your comments after your next weekly bulletin. The weekend hiatus beckons.


  46. Yo, Chris – The low was 43F (6.11C), last night. But, we’re going to get slammed with a freeze, tonight. I’d better take one more waltz around the garden. Yesterday, the temp was in the 40s, but the wind! I don’t know what the wind chill factor was, but it felt like 20 below!

    Maybe you felt good, on waking, as checking the filters was a job well done? A feeling of accomplishment? As well you should.

    Long Johns are sometimes called “thermal underwear,” here. Rarely, “woolies.”

    Re: After funeral support. It’s the same when relationships end. No matter how long they were. Two or three weeks, and people are rolling their eyes, and muttering, “Can’t they get on with it?” Sympathy fatigue, I guess. I understand it, but, it’s painful when your on the receiving end.

    Rather than a bad influence, your mum would have said something like, “Such a nice boy. So polite. Such good manners. You should have more friends like him.” I was the Eddie Haskell (“Leave it to Beaver” TV show) of my generation. 🙂 .

    The flamingoes? Maybe you should give the Editor a bit of an out of sight plot, and turn her loose? Your largesse will gain you points. Social capital? There are still so many of the flamingo mirrors about, that I doubt they were hand painted. Maybe silk screened? Or, decals?

    It’s funny you mention Cousin Itt. When I get H for a walk, I knock, edge the door open a bit, reach in, grab the leash, and away we go. So, the hand goes in, the hand comes out. It’s been commented on, how very Cousin Itt, it is. 🙂 . It’s startled a care giver, or two.

    Later on, the Pinkerton’s were hired by business for union busting. They occasionally shot strikers, down. Custer was often away from Elizabeth for long periods of time. I wonder if she welcomed the respite? But, I think they were more of a “power couple.” He was bucking for a nomination for President of the United States. While he was away, I’m sure she was networking, in Washington. He thought that a great victory, in the Indian Wars, would make him a shoe in. Well, we know how that turned out. He must have had an extensive wardrobe. Seems like every western museum we stopped in, while on vacation as a kid, had one of his white leather coats.

    Modern Monetary Theory. Lately, there’s been a lot of loose talk that the deficit doesn’t make any difference. Why does that sound so wrong?

    I’m going to go broke! There’s a seller on E-Bay that has a lot of Currier and Ives lithographs. He told me today, that he has another 100-200 to list. And, another 100 in storage! There’s one I’m going to bid on, next week. I have a couple of prints, that are piles of fruit. “Fruits of the Season,” “Autumn Fruits.” They look great in my kitchen. There’s one coming up called “Fruits of the Tropics.” We’re talking the 1850s, here, so the items shown would have been rare, and expensive.

    I got “Mad at the World: The Life of John Steinbeck.” I’ve got quit a pile of books to read, and DVD’s to watch. I was going to set it aside, for awhile, but made the mistake of reading the first chapter, last night. Now I’m up to his lackluster college years. He was an odd duck. His family was pretty normal. Comfortable, but not over the top. He didn’t like crowds. And even people who could be considered friends, always said they really didn’t know him very well. He was introspective, and played close to the chest. No one really knew what was rolling around in his head.

    I also watched a DVD, last night, called “Before the Fire.” It’s about a flu pandemic, and society pretty much falling apart. If you can imagine. But it’s more a family drama, that takes place in a small rural community. What’s going on in the larger world, mostly comes through news reports. I did fast forward through a few bits. And, the end wasn’t very satisfying. So, I don’t think I’d really recommend it. Lew

  47. Hi Al,

    Thanks, and thought you might enjoy the battery swap out. The new lithium batteries work more or less the same as other battery chemistries, they’re just in some ways better, they charge more rapidly and don’t slow charging down at the 85% mark like lead acid batteries, and they also don’t seem to suffer from voltage drop like the lead acids do under load. Mind you, I’ve kept them charged above 80% and don’t really ask too much from them, so I would be very alarmed to see much voltage drop. Another decade and I’ll let you know if they live up to the marketing blurb!

    Yeah, I’d read the article at that website on charging this particular lithium chemistry battery. It is an excellent website.

    Thanks for the deep rabbit hole dive. 🙂 I’d love to visit the place.



  48. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the photos and your place looks great, and the snow with the bright blue skies was something else for me to see. Bright blue skies would melt the snow down here at this elevation, so it was a true reminder as to just how cold it was at your place! 🙂 Out of curiosity, what were the buckets being used for?

    Well there you go, I had not known that approximately 1cm of snow translates into roughly 1mm of rain. Thanks for the tip – never knew how that worked. And oh yeah that happens here too with heavy snowfalls / heavy rainfall. The limbs bend, creak and can snap without warning if there is any weakness in the joins of the limb to the trunk. However, this is also natures way, and the hole produced in the trunk becomes a home for some critter or other. Trees, as they age, eventually become like super apartment blocks – but better!

    Too bad, so sad, sorry to say. Way back in June I encountered someone working with a mild cold, caught the mild cold, and then missed two very significant milestones because given the circumstances the only sensible option was to cancel and stay at home. The time was lost and that is how it goes. What else can ya do?

    Exactly, changes can be for the better on some fronts, whilst at the same time they can deteriorate on other fronts. Were all those overseas trips and cruises really necessary? My mind sometimes tells me that if people were more rooted to their home soil, they’d look after it better.

    Always a pleasure to speak with you, and I better get writing…



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Tis not competitive, but far out last evening was colder here and when I took the dogs outside for their night-time ablutions, the night time air temperature was 4’C / 39’F. You know, there are times that I do wonder whether all of the hard work over the past six months to get the greenhouse project going was worth the effort, but then today I poked my head in there and discovered that the corn seed that I’d saved last season had outperformed the open pollinated heritage variety known as ‘True Gold’, and the editor and I were high fiving each other. One eggplant has also germinated.

    Why I didn’t have such a building before is a question which has left few if any answers. The main problem is that this particular locale is on the cusp of cool-temperate to a full on Mediterranean climate, and being on the cusp means that some years annual seed raising is effortless, and other years – like last year where there were only 10 weeks of the growing season – it can be a true pain in the backside.

    Your wind chill would spell the death knell for citrus, sorry to say. Cold they can handle, but cold winds is a whole different story.

    When I was a very young bloke I taught myself machine language programming on the venerable old Commodore 64 computer. One of the interesting things about that particular machine was that it could process instructions via an interrupt, which concord with the natural timing of the processor which beat at the heart of the machine. Anyway, there are times where my brain has a background alert program which continually runs and looks for potential mischief and it kind of works that way. The question really becomes though, what is the upper level for potential mischief that requires monitoring…

    Ah yes, thermal underwear was the fancy name. If you’d left me to ponder the problem for a century, I wouldn’t have recalled that name.

    Well yeah, been there and done that too. And after a couple of weeks people suggest to get on with it. But grief follows its own circuitous path, and few people have tolerance for that story. Such a sad state of affairs, but that is also how it goes. So I have set aside future time to assist in the grief process, despite my personal cost. It reminds me of the person I know who was stuck in a single room for two weeks and I gave that person what I could each day knowing full well the pain they endured and likewise experiencing it. Sometimes you are in a position to give, and that is a rare occurrence as a lot of people are on the take.

    I only have a greater respect for you – I read what Eddie Haskell was about, and oh yeah like The Who sang, we won’t get fooled again! Eddie Haskell would have loved that song, whilst trying to fool others! 🙂

    No! Lines in the sand must be drawn – and pink flamingos are on the other side of that line, and I have plenty of social credits and need not concern myself with such desires. Anyway, I tell you this, if I ever find myself in a tight spot of bother, well a couple of pink flamingos might just smooth over such dilemmas. That’s the plan anyway – and every right thinking person needs a Plan B and also a Plan C, whilst I’m at it.

    Hehe! So funny about H, and yes encountering Cousin Itt in the flesh would certainly freak some sensitive souls out.

    Yeah, I read that about the Pinkerton’s, and have no doubts that they were a rough bunch. That was the implication in the Deadwood series, and they were tiptoed around until they foolishly went one on one with a local champion who bested their champion. Custer’s last stand did not end well by all accounts and all hands went down with the ship. I read about that story and was surprised that he split his troops into three legions and gave away his tactical advantage, but you know easy victories are often not the same thing as hard graft. His most exceptional lady probably had plans. Best you’re not involved is my take on the world.

    It sounds wrong because it is wrong. Historically every time this strategy has been played, it failed. What did The Who sing ‘meet the new boss, same as the old boss.’

    Lewis, you are in grave danger! Beware and be careful, but remember to take some choice print prisoners and that history is written by the victorious… Hehe! Good luck!

    Respect to Mr Steinbeck for not enjoying crowds – and I hear him bro! Ever wondered why it has been a long time since I travelled far from home? Hey, that happens and when I had my grief-chat yesterday I spoke mostly of my mate and how is he going, and also the fun old times. Barely spoke about myself, and it surprises me how few people ask about such things in the normal course of events. They’re mostly happy to speak of themselves, and it is one of the reasons I enjoy our slow pen-pal conversation here as it goes all over the shop unlike most conversations. But it is not hard to get people to speak about themselves, and sometimes I hide in that mode of speaking.

    I’m now listening to: Foo Fighters ~ Times Like These (Reading Festival 2012)

    Thanks for mentioning the review. I may watch Bill and Ted’s latest instalment soon. Silly, but so very necessary!

    Better get writing…



  50. Hello again
    We certainly aren’t short of firewood here!
    The insane cost of property has meant that the young have to leave their villages. Rural areas become the habitats of the old.
    Wales has gone into full lockdown. Only essential shops can remain open. Supermarkets may only sell essential items and it appears that alcohol is essential but children’s clothes are not. So I child will have to have it’s feet continue to be crammed into shoes that are too small.
    Son brought me a giant pack of coffee. The pubs are having to chuck out stuff because they can only have a few clients when they can open at all. The coffee has reached its best before date but that is not a use by date. Do you have this differentiation?
    Lots of rain and a large thunderstorm during the night.


    Each to his own.
    I doubt that Son cobbles together any available ingredients. He is a stunning cook and brings me a superb meal every now and than.


  51. Yo, Chris – Well, it’s here! It got down to 27F (-2.77C), last night. When I took H out for her morning romp, things had definitely been frost kissed. I made a last sweep through the garden, and salvaged all the tomatoes I could. I’ll try a few on the window sill, but we know what they taste like 🙁 . But, mostly, the dehydrator will be cranked for a couple of days. I got a whole grocery bag of the larger, green tomatoes.

    The effort that went into your greenhouse will pay dividends, for years to come.

    Grief: “Small kindnesses cost nothing” (Lew, ™) Except a little time. They’ll be a bit more on grief, later.

    You may have noticed, that the actor who played Eddie Haskell, recently passed away. Surrounded by friends and family. Other than a few cameos, he pretty much left acting, behind. LOL. He became a policeman. Grew a mustache, to avoid being recognized by too many people. There was a bogus rumor about, that he had entered the adult entertainment business. The things people think up, when they have too much time on their hands.

    Sometimes, I refer to woolies as “thermal nuclear underwear.” 🙂 . A small joke. A very small joke.

    The Battle of the Little Bighorn was pretty devastating to the Custer family. Besides Custer, two of his brothers, a nephew and a brother-in-law died in the battle. Every other year, we went to Montana, and always visited the battlefield and the nearby museum. The closest little town is Hardin, and I had three uncles, that lived there. We were never there for it, but, every year they have a big rodeo, and, a reenactment of “The Last Stand.” I don’t remember it being a particularly eerie place (unlike Donner Pass). There were two large contingents of soldiers that were supposed to meet with Custer, before the battle, but he got antsy and wanted to grab all the glory. When they arrived, there was naught to do, but clean up the mess.

    Back to grief 🙂 . I got two of the prints I bid on, yesterday. One is a Union soldier, coming home and meeting his wife at the garden gate. The other … well, Currier and Ives printed a lot of “blank” forms. For births, weddings … and deaths. The print I picked up is “In Memory Of.” A Victorian widow is prostrate at the side of a very fancy stone sarcophagus. She’s got the full Victorian widows kit, going. Black veil, etc.. A handy near-by urn, was printed blank, and has been filled in with vital statistics. When I get it, it might be interesting to poke into who that person was. Too late for this year, but I’ll trot her out for Halloween, next year. Lew

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