Eye of the Tiger

This was such a waste of time. Why was I even there? The advertisement had asked for a dynamic candidate. Maybe they didn’t really want that, but only thought that was a desired trait because it seemed like a good idea at the time? After a long conversation, the people conducting the interview just looked shell shocked to me, as if they’d somehow managed to survive ten rounds, and then all they could do was lean up against the ropes and take the punishment I dished up to them. And secretly I imagined they’d hope the nightmare interview would soon be over, if only because I could then get out of there.

There are times in your life when you’re having a tough time of it. That happens to everyone, and there is no way out of that story. But far out, I now see that each time I head into Melbourne these days. People are seriously stressed out due to the extraordinary and heavy handed restrictions arising from the health subject which dare not be named. A lot of people there are seriously having a tough time of it. All I can do is lend a sympathetic ear, crack a few jokes and bring some joy, and all the while I quietly worry about their mental health.

The other week there was a serious edict issued where apparently Victorian primary school students could no longer sing due to the health subject which dares not be named. As if the kids weren’t having enough fun with all of the current craziness, isolation and other goings on. I heard it from a few reliable sources – and this is a consistent theme – that the kids have now done so much home schooling this year that they are busting to get back to school. Most of them (but not all) can get to school now, they just can’t sing. It is almost as if we’d been teleported back in time and into the 1984 film Footloose, where a small town council banned dancing and rock music within the town boundary. Has the film now be taken by the authorities as a ‘how-to’ manual? The people in authority would be old enough now to have seen the film way back in the day.

Never saw the film myself, because I was too young, but mostly it was because I don’t really enjoy musicals. However, the editor assures me that way back in the day the film was fun, and I’ll just have to leave it at that. The antagonist in the film was the local Reverend who also possibly didn’t enjoy musicals, because it was he who was behind the dancing ban. The actor who played the role was the most excellent actor John Lithgow, who much later played the character: ‘Arthur the Serial Killer’, in the seriously excellent Dexter series. That was a truly spooky portrayal of a nefarious and very warped character by the actor, and possibly mixing the two fictional characters (No dance here Reverend and Arthur, serial killer) would have lent a certain seriousness to bans on dancing. Yes, dance and you may have an unfortunate demise.

So, no singing seems to be a serious ban these days. And mental health issues in Melbourne are prevalent due to ongoing social and physical isolation. It is after all not lost on me that it is a form of punishment to lock obstreperous prisoners into isolation, so it hardly surprises me that people are suffering. We are social creatures after all.

I’ve had my hard times too. Once long ago I was not enjoying my career path in the world of business, and so I made the decision to get back to my roots and seek out a job in the public service. After all, I’d begun my working days in the public service. It was a lovely environment in which to work. That career path finished abruptly due to me being unfortunately made redundant in the recession in the 90’s, which we apparently ‘had to have’. Then my more commercial career took off, with a long stint in corporate debt collection if only because no other job was available.

Getting back to my roots though was when I found myself caught up in the uncomfortable public service interview mentioned in the first paragraph. The organisation was prestigious and initially I had high hopes. However, it was during the awkward interview, where I realised that I had become too dynamic, and they were far too sluggish. Management consultants would suggest that we were perhaps ‘not a good fit’. I’m sure there was some middle ground to be found, but could I lie enough to myself and also to them to get to that point? The answer was and still is an emphatic: No. I’d moved past them, and so it was back into the corporate world for me, and my concerns would just have to take a back seat.

The heavy handed restrictions down here have now gone on for about eight months. The subject rarely rates a mention in the news media, but I do seriously worry about peoples livelihoods and their abilities to bounce back should the restrictions be lifted.

It is after all the politicians and the public servants who have decided to implement and manage all of these restrictions, perhaps they may be the same ones who interviewed me all of those years ago. I am sure that there are plenty of hard working and effective politicians and public servants, however I worked in the public service and met plenty of people who, to be candid, don’t fit that particular description. I have grave concerns about these peoples ability to manage the restrictions they’ve condoned and put in place. I mean, just for one example, people living in the metropolitan area are not meant to leave that area and venture up here into rural areas. So there is a checkpoint on the freeway which is manned by the police and the military, and those personnel check the permits and identification papers of people exiting the metropolitan area. Yet on the back road running parallel to the freeway, there was no checking at all, and people merrily came and went. Surely this is a fine joke? But at the same time it is a level of ineptitude which I find to be personally disconcerting.

I’ve been a long time rusted on supporter of the left leaning Labour Party, and have consistently voted for them in elections. But if there was an election tomorrow, they would most certainly not have my support. I read polls in the news informing me that the current restrictions are enormously popular and apparently only a minor inconvenience (a small impost as has been described), but I’m not hearing that opinion from most of the people I speak with. Some people do support things as they are, but I’ve noted that most of those people are comfortably secure in their large corporate or government jobs and livelihoods. What the future holds? I’m not really sure.

How is this for a La Nina spring?

The above image is pretty typical of the weather of the past few days. Heavy cloud originating in the now warm Indian Ocean to the north west of the continent has brought rain and all sorts of warm and unpleasantly humid weather. At least I haven’t had to water the vegetables!

The locally prolific and beautiful mother shield ferns which I so named the farm after, have been loving the weather this year:

Mother Shield Ferns enjoy the warm and very wet spring weather

The plentiful water has meant that the diverse fruit trees in the orchard are positively reaching into the sky:

Fruit trees in the shady orchard are enjoying the plentiful rain this spring

It isn’t only the orchards which are enjoying the plentiful water, but also the diverse garden beds. They’re growing so fast this year that I suspect there may a Triffid or three hidden in there somewhere…

The plants in the garden beds are jumping due to the regular rainfall

Ordinarily the forest is too dry to conduct a burn off at this time of year. This year has been an exception however, and we’ve continued to burn off the huge tree stump which the loggers left many decades ago. The tree stump ‘The Meg’ is now down to about a quarter of its original size. Perhaps ‘The Meglette’ would now be a more appropriate description?

The author keeps a respectable distance from the serious heat of this fire

It is our intention to start attending to all of the vegetable and berry enclosures this week and perhaps finish the job next week. Attending to the enclosures means weeding and fertilising the growing beds. We added about a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) so far of compost to the enclosures that we got a good start on.

The Blackberry enclosure scored a weed and a feed
The Strawberry enclosure scored a weed and a feed. No small deed.
The Raspberry enclosure scored a weed and a feed. Satisfying indeed.
The Lower vegetable terrace enclosure received a weed and feed. It feels the need, the need for speed (and plants).
The Middle vegetable terrace enclosure received a weed and feed. Can’t come up with anything suitably rhyming. Any suggestions are welcome!

One of my mates of the Big Shed fame, suggested to me that our potato bed might need to be doubled in height. So this week, we doubled the height of the potato bed. I always take good advice. It was originally 200mm (2/3 foot) in height and is now 400mm (1 1/3 foot) in height.

The potato bed was doubled in height this week. Plum is confused

We also installed a treated pine post next to the new greenhouse. The purpose of this treated pine post is so that I can attach a permanent water tap so that it is easier to water the seedlings in the greenhouse.

A treated pine post was installed so that a water tap could be installed next to the greenhouse

And the greenhouse has ensured germination of most seedlings, excluding the chilli’s. The building has worked far better than my expectations and maybe in early November we can begin planting out all of the various plants.

The greenhouse was worked far beyond my original expectations

And just because Ollie the Australian Cuddle Dog has not been in any other images this week:

Ollie the Bull Arab stoically enjoys affection

Produce update:

Approximately 50 bread wheat plants survived the attentions of the local birds, and the organic winter wheat is now beginning to bear some grains. Perhaps enough for a small scone.

Winter wheat has begun producing grains

Onto the flowers:

Spider Orchids are growing in profusion in the orchards and forest
Californian Poppies are striking and beautiful flowers
An early and old school Rose
Rhododendron’s grow and flower throughout the orchards
The Geraniums and Lavender make a striking combination

The temperature outside now at about 10.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 1011.4mm (39.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 980.8mm (38.6 inches).

55 thoughts on “Eye of the Tiger”

  1. Hi Chris, your ‘spider orchid’ is in fact a bird orchid, Chiloglottis gunni.
    Love the blog. I read every week but don’t comment much (if at all). Very envious of all those beautiful berry enclosures. I now have wallabies coming here and they are devastating all my fruit trees and berry crops. I’m spending a fortune on wire guards.
    Also agree with your comments on the lockdown and its effects and have seen people happily taking side roads to escape major roads with police traps. Such a waste of police time for little effect.
    But…..things are looking up! On Wednesday I will have my first haircut in 5 months! Yay to that!

  2. Chris,

    White bucket with white snowy background with a mound of white snow on them, good job noticing the buckets! I use them for exercise: grab one per arm and swing them round and round. As I have 16 of them, I’m trying to work up to using 8 per arm at once! Either that or those are what I use for container gardening. Carrots do very well in them. I’ve also got 3 tubs, each of which is equal to 2 or more of the buckets.

    That 1mm rainfall equivalent = 1cm of snow depth is a rule of thumb I learned in the dread January 1969 monster snows. Of course, at age 8, never having heard of the metric system, it was one inch of rain = about 10 inches of snow. Doesn’t always work out that way, but it’s a good start, and is very accurate for those storms that hit at right about 0C. Those snows at -20C result in what I call “Fake Hollywood Snow”, super puffy with little water content.

    I’ve done the same with with various repair guys and car mechanics, ask what went wrong and how to avoid it. The good appliance repair guy suggested that most new appliances are junk, so for new purchases stay with the basics and absolutely no frills. The frills cause the headaches.

    We’re barely into Season 2 of “Thrones”, many seasons to go. So far, the Peter Dinklage character appears to be the most balanced and most down to earth, but also has proven able to plot and scheme with the best of them, and be brutal when necessary. Princess and her sister return here in a day or so, and we’re all looking forward to watching more.

    Apparently William the Conqueror (I prefer to call him William the Ba1$^$^!, but this is a family friendly forum, sooo) anyhow William apparently had to fight for his Dukedom starting at about age 15. He maybe didn’t have any good model for administering, got too used to conquering and reconquering and then got greedy. And lucky. But when you surround yourself with thugs and act like a thug yourself, then bad government will follow.

    Woke up this morning to -10C, which isn’t all that cold for Spokane, except it’s only October 25! So it IS abnormally cold for this time of year. Supposed to warm up by midweek, and the snow should be mostly gone by early November.

    I needed some serious “recovery” time today. So, at the “warm” part of the day, slightly above freezing, I bundled up, set a wood fire in one of my barbecue thingies, and sat in the sun for about an hour, listening to the snow sliding off leaves, breathing in wood smoke, enjoying the sun and listening to the ravens who were wandering through the neighborhood. Very therapeutic and relaxing, and I found my reset button. One of those simple things that I really really need right now.

    Lucky you, that the dogs decide that thunder is boring. Thordog didn’t pay it any attention. Rakhi the Samoyed would run around the yard and bark at any lightning flashes she saw, then look proudly around when the storm had passed due to her effort chasing it away. (While she was chasing it off, I was normally prancing about with shouts of “Yay Tesla! Yay Thor! to my parents’ horrified amusement.) Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz was terrified of the noise, and needed unending human contact to cope.

    That picture of you and Ollie is So Cool! Thordog always had that same expression when receiving affection. And that was the only time he was the least bit stoic. It’s a good picture of both of you.

    Okay, your rhyming scheme… Hard worked I, and no blisters, no bleed. Now I’m done, it’s time for some mead. That, my friends, is the end of my screed.


  3. Yo, Chris – Synchronicity. The daily e-mail, from my friends in Idaho, was … interesting. Small, rural. They’ve been patting themselves on the back, that they’ve pretty much dodged the bullet, of “it.” Until, today. They reopened their schools, and, there’s a large outbreak among students and staff. I’d say, singing is the least part of their problems.

    That was interesting, about the job interview. That terrible moment when you realize that the job is not for you. But, I see you also realized that by then, you’d grown beyond that kind of job. Kudos, to you.

    I give. How did you happen to settle on the name “Mother Shield” for the ferns. Inquiring minds want to know! Your orchard and garden beds look just bursting with pent up energy, ready to produce. The blackberry and strawberry enclosures, look very robust. Might be a good year.

    I caught on to the rhyming, before you mentioned it. Not quit Cockney rhyming slang, but, getting there. Is there a transported Cockney in your woodpile? Probably, not. I’d guess The Editor and you come from a long line of adventuresome yoeman (why does spell check not recognize yoeman?) farmers. I happened to catch a bit of a mystery program at Eleanor’s, the other night. It was a Victorian mystery. A courtroom scene. Two fellows were sentenced to hang, and a third to be “transported for life.” I said aloud, “To Australia!.”

    Sharp of your Big Shed friend to suggest heightening the potato bed. Of course! You’ll be adding soil, to get a bumper crop. It’s getting to look pretty green, in that greenhouse. I laughed out loud when you stated there might be enough wheat for a small scone.

    That’s a wonderful picture of you and Ole. I wonder if he’s thinking, “Well, if you must.” I also liked the picture last week, where he looks like he’s nodding off, and listing slightly to one side. Put me in mind of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. 🙂 .

    The flowers are very pretty. Imagine, orchids growing about the place, just on their own. The old rose is quit striking. It will be interesting to see how your roses do, this year. The color contrast between the geraniums and lavender is quit striking.

    Due to the frost, when I went out this morning, the tomatoes, tomitillos and squash were looking pretty sad. By this afternoon, they had all turned black. Peas look like they made it through, ok. Lew

  4. Hi Chris,

    Good to see the garden is blooming. Mine is doing the same. I once did a horticulture short course at Melbourne uni and one of the lecturers said that, based on his experiments, south eastern Australia is one of the best growing locations in the world. That’s despite the relatively poor soils. The main limiting factor is water so when we get water things take off.

    My prediction for the future is that we’re going to see a massive consolidation of wealth to the top end of town. All the corona regulations are essentially a tax on all business activity but it’ll be a fairly linear tax which means it’s more like a fixed cost and therefore the bigger businesses will handle it more easily. Plus, they have the market power to pass it on to consumers. Small businesses don’t so they are likely to die a death by a thousand cuts.

    Unless governments explicitly help small businesses out. Perhaps we’ll just turn on the printing presses and see who can rack up as much debt as possible.


  5. Hi Inge,

    Yes, I have no shortage of firewood either – and the trees grow far faster than I could ever harvest. My best guess is that there are at least ten thousand trees on the property, and they grow at about 3.3ft a year. That’s a lot of cordage…

    I was speaking with someone else who had noticed this property concern. Might try writing about the subject? I wonder if the folks believe that they’ll be able to magically slot into the local rural economy? Dunno.

    Inge, nobody who has not lived through these past eight months of utter craziness could possibly understand what we’ve just been put through. The good folks in Wales might just get to find out though.

    Spare a thought for the occasional mention which I made of the sheer difficulties of obtaining basic supplies during that time. It’s been a nerve wracking experience. And also tested the systems and changed the basic stores that I maintain.

    We have either ‘best before’ or ‘use by’ dates, but not both. As far as I understand the matter, it is a bit like over use of signage in that it can be more of a legal response rather than a common sense approach.

    Yup, people who had not locked down their casual employment for longer than a year, found themselves suddenly at the local government office seeking application for the dole, which has been rebranded as ‘Job Seeker’. A natty choice of words.

    Lots of rain here too. Is it warm or cool on your island?



  6. Hi Bev,

    Nice to hear from you, and hope that your coming growing season will be productive and kind. 🙂

    Thanks for the correction with the plant identification. It is odd that the Wikipedia page suggests that the orchid is only endemic to Tasmania. There are large colonies of them growing here, and they’d probably do well at your place too.

    Well, yes, the wallabies are unrelenting in their ongoing garden onslaught. Love ’em, but far out, the depredation is intense. The fencing on the enclosures is quite sturdy, and has been tested by the pesky marsupials.

    I hear you about the wire guards – and the cost. People often remark at the odd pruning with the fruit trees in orchard where there is a single strong trunk and then branches begin at about 6 foot above the ground. They tell me, aren’t you worried about difficulties harvesting the fruit? Well, if there was another way. The pesky wallabies take off all of the lower branches and so they keep the orchard as they prefer it with an open under story.

    Exactly, it is such an epic waste of resources, and people just thumb their noses and go on about their business via the back roads. It makes no sense to me, and smacks of ineptitude.

    Congrats on scoring the haircut! The local mob I’ve been going to for years and years aren’t taking on new clients. Strange days, huh?



  7. Hi Simon,

    Good to hear that your excellent garden is also blooming. The continual rain has made things easy this year – as long as it doesn’t ramp up too much more. I’ve experienced a few super cells and even a minor tornado here on Christmas day a few years back. That was fun. Wish I thought to take a photo, but I was a bit busy that day…

    The lecturer is onto something there. We’ve got a good all rounder climate in that extremes are usually rare events (touch wood!) and not every season events to deal with. You’re not far at all from a massive market garden area along the river, and that produces a huge amount of fresh food for Melbourne.

    It’s pretty tough out there economically, but consumption underpins the needs of larger corporates, so I dunno how things fare for them. There are times I point to my annual house insurance bill and wonder how it can continue to increase between 18% and 20% each year. Bonkers stuff. I expect after JobKeeper ends in March next year, they’ll begin ejecting the dead wood. What happens then is anyone’s guess, but I’m thinking that maybe consumption will take a nose dive at that point.

    But then, as incomes take a nose dive, plenty of luxury goods are getting axed – like cruises. So there is fat in there to be trimmed, that’s for sure.

    Yup, the printing presses will, and are getting a solid work out. I hope they know what they’re doing…



  8. Hi DJ,

    Very funny! The image of you and the buckets is like a memory flashback trip back to a Rocky film! Hehe! I can see that carrots would grow well in the buckets as the soil would be superbly loose and the carrots would love that. Do you have clay soils?

    That 1969 monster snow would have certainly been a remarkable and also memorable experience. Hey, you mentioned the previous early snowfall as 1971 – or have I mistaken that? So, I checked into the rainfall records here, and that was an above average wet year here as well.

    Sorry to say, but -20’C is so far from my personal experience that I just would have no idea what to do or how to respond to that sort of weather. Mind you, one idea occurs to me and that would be getting up in the middle of the night several times to keep the wood fire burning hot. Any heat in such weather would I guess just leach out from houses. I can’t imagine anyone living rough would survive such weather?

    Hehe! Frills. I encountered someone a few weeks back who had to get the windscreen on their car replaced, but after that the car had to go into the dealer because all the electronic sensors had to be reconnected. Like how hard is it to flick a switch to get the windscreen wipers working? Do we really need a computer to determine this timing? I always wonder what happens if the computer gets it wrong. There was a rumour going around that a well known vehicle had an automatic gearbox which used to allegedly decide to stop at whilst speed. That would not be good. Never owned a vehicle with an automatic gearbox. You call manuals: stick shifts.

    Peter Dinklage is da man! Nuff said, and I believe he survives the carnage – although I’ve only read the books which finished abruptly in an unfinished state.

    Greed will do that, and William the Conqueror was another rabbit hole of fascinating history. Your reading of the personage agrees with mine, and he was too busy fighting to have much interest in administration. By all accounts, the bloke was no scholar, although that does not mean that he was unintelligent. Far from it, he just wasn’t a bookish King and his skills lay in other areas. He chose well with his wife, she appeared to be a formidable force too, and perhaps better equipped for administrative duties.

    Slightly above freezing being the warm part of a day is a big call from my perspective! Mind you, it barely made it into double digits today and the wood heater was slowly ticking along for most of the day. Brr!, But your conditions are triple-Brr!

    The name Thordog sort of suggests to me that would be immune from the impacts of thunder. Rakhi may have been onto something, and who are we to gainsay her storm chasing efforts? 🙂 Well, the Finnish Spitz is a noble breed of dog and should not be subjected to the common storm.

    Thanks for that. Ollie jumped onto my lap whilst I was sitting at the table enjoying an afternoon coffee and Anzac biscuit. He looks content to me.

    Thanks for the rhyme! It was a lot of fun to write, but it was the editor who suggested the rhymes and then proceeded to supply them. And I shall pass your fine words on. 🙂



  9. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, winter has arrived with some force in your part of the world. Brr! Makes a person want to hide inside the house where the wood heater is slowly kicking along – had the heater running on low all day today as it barely reached 50’F outside. How does H cope with such cold weather? The tomatoes are done for you now, although there is always the dubious tasting green tomato chutney which we have spoken of before. I just never enjoyed the taste of the stuff, and your tomatoes will not ripen for you from here onwards sorry to say.

    Spotted the first seedling globe artichokes today in the greenhouse. It’s amazing at how well the seedlings are germinating in there. I’ll try growing only the transplanted corn this year and see what happens. I’ve grown corn from seedlings in previous year and didn’t really notice much difference, but you did warn me of trouble.

    Exactly, time is a precious thing. Yes.

    I missed that about the actor Ken Osmond recently departing this world. It is a tough thing to be typecast and plenty of child actors have shared similar fates. Working out a different career was a wise choice. I saw that rumour about him being John Holmes, and then I see also that Alice Cooper used to be confused for the actor. Such a strange world. And fame can be a curse.

    Of course: thermal underwear! If you’d left me to ponder that question for a century, well I probably would have starved long before coming up the answer. 🙂 And yes, well everyone loves a good fart joke! Hehe!

    Ambition and an over estimation of his own abilities appears to have been Custer’s undoing. The large contingent of soldiers would have come across a grisly scene that day. I wonder if any of his foot soldiers had any misgivings about his adventures? He did apparently score very poorly at officer school, so maybe he misread that particular engagement? Or maybe he previously had better underlings and was more able to take advice?

    Your Civil War was a bloodbath of epic proportions. I heard someone reference this recently in relation to the health subject which dare not be named. My understanding of the statistics is that you now have ten times and a bit the size population than way back in those Civil War days. The effects on the population of that war would have been profound.

    Your Currier and Ives prints hint at some of the effects of those times. Death would have been more of a constant background presence than it is nowadays. I’ve heard it that the Victorian era folks had a very different perspective on death than we do nowadays. Can’t recall where I read that though and what it meant.

    Exactly, singing now is probably the least of their concerns. I suspect this virus is now part of the background environment and we gotta learn how to all live with it, and that is how it goes. Plenty of other viruses and many other diseases are pretty nasty customers too. Life is a crapshoot with a known outcome although the final time and destination may vary wildly.

    To quote an amusing line, it wasn’t them, it was me. I couldn’t work in such an environment, they wouldn’t have coped well with me, and I was just thrashing around trying to do something that was sustainable. I eventually got there, but the road was long and strange, and many hurdles were chucked in my path. I have a sneaking suspicion that society does not necessarily favour guys who travel my work path. It’s not my work ethic, but there is an inherent resistance to doing with work as I finally managed to do. I wasn’t able to keep up the former high end corporate work as I just didn’t have the emotional resilience or the desire to develop that skill, and I had friends, a relationship and hobbies that also called to my attention. Dunno, but the higher you go up the food chain, the more single minded you are required to be, and I don’t necessarily believe that this is a good thing, but that is probably why I opted out of that world.

    Proliferous buds is the answer to the mother shield fern story. At the ends of some fronds, new plants form and as the frond tips closer to the ground, the new plant gets a chance at taking root. The ferns essentially can walk across the landscape that way. But they reproduce by spoors as well. Polystichum proliferum

    There are no Cockney’s in the woodpile, but there might be some Cockey’s there (Sulphur Crested Cockatoos). I don’t encourage those particular birds as they can be rather destructive, and they live such a long time that I doubt they easily forgive and forget. The magpies chase them off – which is a good thing.

    Yes, travel the world via the courtesy of the English Crown, and head to the land of sunny skies and strange bouncing animals. I would love to have known whether the convicts were terrified of their destination. It is possible nobody thought to ask them, or cared enough to do so.

    More compost is definitely on the cards soon. And the potato bed will certainly take a cubic metre (1.3 cubic yards) of the stuff. I am actually wondering if I should chuck some woody mulch in there too? Not sure. What do you reckon about that?

    Hehe! Scones are good. I’m probably going to save the bread seeds and replant them next autumn. Not enough to eat…

    Ollie is such a lovely natured dog. In the photo he’d actually jumped up onto my lap. Not bad given he weighs something like 80 pounds. In the leaning photo I kind of had the thought that he was thinking deeply about something that was only known to him.

    The Wikipedia page on the orchids mentioned that they were endemic to Tasmania, and there was no mention of Victoria at all. I might write to management and lodge a complaint. The orchids are all over the shop here – right through the orchards and into the forest, but more easily seen in the managed areas.

    Yeah, some plants – like my snow peas likewise died during the recent snowfall. Hmm… Are they called heat and sunny peas? No. They did not like snow at all.



  10. Hello Chris
    I agree that your potato beds needed greater depth. Nonetheless your place looks absolutely wonderful. I always think this even if I don’t mention it.
    Am just back from shopping in town. It was sheer hell and leaves me in the foulest of moods. Long queues everywhere to be endured while wearing a mask, plus shortages of various items.
    A man has gone into a supermarket in Wales wearing only his underpants as clothes are no longer considered to be necessary items! Supermarkets being only allowed to sell necessary items.
    You can probably find the news about the tanker off the Isle of Wight which 7 attempting immigrants tried to take over. All very exciting.
    It is wet, windy and cool here.


  11. Hello again
    I forgot to mention that as we drove along our narrow dirt road on the way out this morning, we arrived at ‘road closed’. Son had to drive back in reverse for quite a distance before he could turn round in order to go out in the opposite direction where we encountered the other road closed sign. They appear to be quite unaware of the fact that there are properties in the middle. This was water work being done on a fire hydrant which has been leaking water onto the road for a good year regardless of complaints. They arrive regularly to try and deal with it, so far unsuccessfully. Competence seems to be a lost quality.


  12. Yo, Chris – Well, it was 1 degree F, warmer, last night. -2.22C. My peas haven’t seemed to show any damage. But then, they are hardy down to lower temps, if for not too long. But, I harvested all that were ready, anyway. Maybe enough for adding to 4 meals, or, 4 small sides. H seems to ride out the cold weather, ok. She’s getting her winter coat. I’ve started packing her in her black and red tartan winter wardrobe, when I take her out mornings and night. But, I’ve never observed her shivering.

    The Victorians and death. Well, it was ever present, even before the Civil War. Reading that biography about Emily Dickinson really drove home to me, how …hmmm, not obsessed with, but aware of death, they were. Disease, infant mortality. The Civil War, as Mr. Greer has observed, really goosed up the spiritualist movement. Another difference that the Civil War made, was that a lot of people died away from home. Before, the bulk of people died at home. Parting last words, and all that. But, during the Civil War, people marched off and were never seen, or sometimes, even heard from again. The Victorians wouldn’t have voiced the concept, but, in a lot of cases, there was no “closure.” Ric Burns (Ken Burns’s brother) did a documentary called “Death and The Civil War.” That’s where I got some of my ideas, from.

    Ohhh! Walking ferns. We have a variety, here in the States, but mostly on the East Coast. I see there’s a SE Asian variety, which is probably what you have.

    I think big dogs just don’t know they’re big. And some small dogs don’t know they’re small.

    Looks like I’ll end up with four Currier and Ives prints, from this round. I noticed one that you might find interesting. Took me a minute to catch on to what it was all about. “Young Blood in an Old Body.” It’s a picture of a mob of kids, playing on, in and around a broken down and decrepit stage coach. (Where are the parents? Someone might get hurt! 🙂 Call Child Protecton! It took me a moment to notice the passing train, way off on the horizon. It’s about one technology replacing another. I won’t be getting that one, though. The starting bid is $125. Too rich for my blood, for what is a bit of whimsy. Lew

  13. Hi Inge,

    It amazes me that stowaways are even a likely prospect for a tanker. The potential for mischief is very great in such a circumstance. I’ve heard of stowaways getting into the wheel arches of aircraft, but the chances of survival for folks attempting that escape attempt are frankly not good. Not impossible, just the odds are very not good.

    Yeah, one of my mates of the big shed fame, would have agreed with your assertion and likewise suggested that the potatoes would need greater soil depth than I’d originally given them, and it was not a difficult job, although the weather was not pleasant on that particular spring day. Maybe over the next week, I’ll add some more compost as Solanum plants don’t seem to mind having soil heaped up around their trunk and leaves.

    Your recent shopping experience has been my lived experience for the past eight months, and I hear you – except that the mask is a permanent fixture outside of the home. A certain fatigue has set in. Taking a very brutal approach to the disease, according to statistics we have had nationwide about 27,500 cases and 905 deaths. That alone suggests a rough 3.3% probability of death relating from infection. Not good odds, but plenty of diseases have far higher death rates and are possibly equally as contagious.

    Death is unfortunately a fellow traveller on this thing called life, and I heard on the radio today that the suicide rate for this year apparently more or less matched last year where something like 530 people had taken their own lives already this year. Death as always stalks among the living, and I’m just happy to be alive and kicking knowing that things could be otherwise.

    My mate who died recently, I heard a story that appointments to address his various health issues had been cancelled due to fears of the health subject which dare not be named – and so from a purely intellectual perspective causation is possibly difficult to accurately determine in that case.

    I really don’t know, but something in the background has seriously been broken – and so here we are today. The noise is particularly hard to filter out in this instance because the volume has been turned up so loud. But you know, if it doesn’t look right, it might not be right.

    Hey, it is wet, calm and cool here! Sooner or later I have to pick the timing to plant out the seedlings and this is a very hard to discern matter.

    It is possible that the entire water mains to your fire hydrant requires replacing. But yeah, the will to rectify the core issue is something that is a bit absent here too. Years ago when I volunteered with the local fire brigade, one thing that we treated very gently were the fire hydrants. If the water pressure is released too fast then bad things can happen. There is a story from years ago where one of the local pubs burnt down (or partially burnt) because the water main burst during the incident. Imagine getting blamed for burning down the local pub!



  14. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, that sure is some cold overnight weather. The garden here would not enjoy such weather at all. You must have more cold tolerant peas than what I’m raising, because the last of the two surviving over wintered peas died after the most recent snowfall. Bonkers, although to the plants credit I scored two snow peas.

    It was a wise move to harvest the peas that were ready to go. Better than letting old Jack Frost take them, and leaving you with nothing.

    Hey, at the supermarket the other day I had a sniff of their strawberries and broke my general rule and purchased a couple of punnets. The berries are OK, but nothing like freshly picked sun ripened berries. And I’m down to the last of the apricots bottled last summer. So sad to see them go, but in a couple of days that will be it. This summer I hope to put away more plums as well as the apricots. Both fruits bottle well.

    A black and red tartan jacket for H is a lovely idea, and she would appreciate the warmth. Dogs of that particular breed have a thick double coat, and so I had my doubts that the now sadly missed Sir Poopy was ever cold here – except in his bury hole.

    Now I did mention that Sir Poopy, and also whilst I’m at it Sir Scruffy are both sorely missed. Both were truly delightful personalities, with their fair share of quirks. But the rabbit population has now become visible since those two focused individuals passed onto to other places. There are no rabbits living on this property, but I note that the rabbits are now eating here and rapidly retreating into my neighbours property where presumably they have their burrows. This is the neighbour of the sads cracking mulch fame. Not sure what to do about it, but eventually the trio of canines here will keep the off this property thus ensuring that the rabbits will begin ravaging my neighbours garden where they live. Dunno what will happen from there, it is possible he might not notice until the rabbits have ring barked his trees in his largely ornamental garden.

    I would have enjoyed corresponding with Emily Dickinson – ah the far places, without travel, we could have ventured! 🙂 What a complete character. She may well at a wild guess have had some Asperger’s traits.

    But yeah, Emily certainly enjoyed the accompaniment of the grim reaper and his wicked sharp scythe throughout her life, that’s for sure. I can’t speak from so much experience as the poet, but I’m guessing that the experience would be a constant reminder of the tragedy that stalks along the same road with us all. Dunno.

    Thanks for mentioning that aspect of the Civil War as that had not occurred to me. Hmm. It is a theme that replays in the wider world. Sort of a closure. Due to limits of bodies at funerals (please excuse the unintentional pun) due to the health subject which dare not be named, I was unable to attend the recent funeral. Not sure yet how I feel about that, but my feelings are sort of irrelevant in the matter as it is all done now.

    Watch out! Walking ferns are possibly related to Triffids! Turn your back for but a moment, and the Triffids will convert you to fuel – of some sort. I read John Wyndham’s book as a kid, and haven’t really been able to let go 100% and enjoy firework shows ever since.

    Hehe! Yes, for dogs size does not matter, and with only one major exception (The Crunchy Beagle – my highest read essay yet), the former boss dog Old Fluff the Spitz was without doubt the toughest dog I’d ever encountered. Even full on hunting dogs that thought nothing of killing, would submit to her will. She just didn’t like other dogs, and barely tolerated her own pack. But I tell ya, she loved people. A strange dog, but a good mate.

    Weren’t you at two prints yesterday? Hmm, there must be something in the water? Ooo! The print was amazing, and the kids look like they’re having fun – even the ones that are harnessed to the decrepit stage coach. And the train in the background is an allusion – or is the artist alluding? 🙂



  15. Hi, Chris!

    That is very interesting about people being able to use unwatched backroads. It is ridiculous ineptitude to allow that if main road blockages are deemed necessary. But it is possibly a sign that there are other loopholes which might be taken advantage of. Is that a danger to the public? I don’t know, because I don’t know if some of these measures are necessary anyway.

    I am not surprised that your ferns are enjoying that weather! And everything – everything – at your place looks perfect. I think your mates were right to suggest raising that potato bed. Plum is looking so big.

    And so is Baby Ollie!

    Enjoy the small scone, and share!

    Thanks for the flowers. A few of ours are still holding on; it has been very mild here. When frost finally threatens we are going to have to work awfully fast to get things in.

    I have planted at least a hundred of the acorns we have gathered in the woods this year. Some also came from a friend’s property who has 300-year-old oak trees. I started out planting one in each 3 gallon (11 liters) pot, but soon tired of digging up soil in the woods and lugging the things back into the garden so started just digging trenches and planting them in there. All of them have to be protected from deer as they sprout.

    I learned that the White Oak family’s acorns sprout the year that they fall and that the Black Oak family’s sprout the next year. So I have only planted White Oaks, saving the Black Oaks for next year. Of course, our many squirrel friends – including Queen Charlene the White Squirrel, who is the most chipper old lady one has ever seen – are planting acorns, too.

    I heard a phrase I like: “courteous calm”. It combines two things that I wish always to be.


  16. @ Inge:

    Kudos to the Welsh fellow in the underpants.

    Did you get a new computer? I tell you what – I never dreamed that I would be ordering so many books. Once I got set up to order online, instead of having my son always do it, I haven’t slowed down. I have a website I like for secondhand books: Biblio.com. They carry books from the UK, too, and I have one coming from there, also.


  17. Chris,

    I tells ya, those 5 gallon buckets full of soil are heavy. The very thought of swinging them around hurts! Sandy soil here.

    Ok, officially the earliest and biggest October snows hereabouts… This recent one was the biggest at 19cm. Second place goes to a 1957 event of 14.5 cm. Third place goes to (I’m embarrassed to admit) the 10cm that fell October 8 and 9 of last year! I finally found an article that included Halloween 1971, in which the official snowfall was 4.3cm. I was out trick or treating in that. I was very short then, and the snow depth was well over my ankles, so it had to be greater than 4.3cm! Dad measured 15cm. We get microclimates and variations.

    -20C and colder, well, it’s a matter of proper clothing and getting acclimated. People survive that. The main requirements include: 1) staying dry, including minimizing perspiration, 2) stay out of the wind, 3) eat more than normal, 4) have some means of getting warm – which includes some type of heat source. Seriously, I have one of those high quality thick foil space blankets. I made an “A-frame” with that hung from a tree branch, lit a candle, and within minutes was taking off layers of clothing. It was about +2C, 10cm of snow on the ground, and raining.

    I’ve camped in tents for up to a week in December with the nights getting near -20C. Also spent several nights in snow caves, planned outings those, cross country ski trips into the mountains. Preparation and learning how to do things in controlled settings helps. We have homeless year round, some of whom disdain the shelters and stay outside all the time. One chap has been doing this for about 8 years now and seems to be thriving.

    Computerized speed for windshield wipers? Bah. Slow and fast settings were the only 2 I ever needed. If the fast setting couldn’t keep up, pull off the road until the rainfall diminishes. If I wanted a car that did everything for me, I’d hire a chauffer! Although I drive automatics (too long a story to get into here), I much prefer manual transmissions.

    Yeah, William was far from being a scholar, but he was smart. Smart enough to marry well, and a smart general, both in overall strategy and in changing tactics during a battle. Shoot, he was fighting for his dukedom and often his life, from age 7 until in his early 30s. Warfare was all he knew.

    True, Rakhi may very well have chased the thunderstorms away before any severe damage could be done. Never thought of it that way, but she was always rewarded well for her efforts. And well said about Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz – she WAS too noble to be subjected to such mundane atrocities as thunder.

    Please tell the Editor that her rhyme idea was excellent! Oh, and did Ollie the Content get some coffee and biscuit out of the venture?


  18. Yo, Chris – Well, the temperature got down to 32F (-0-C), last night. But that was at the weather station, down in the valley, and I don’t think we got any frost up here on the hill.

    Ah, the end of the season, when “put up” supplies run low. I wonder where those strawberries came from? Maybe best not to inquire, too closely. I think you might be missing a bet with your parrots. They can help in the garden!

    Scroll down past the naked people. You’ve been warned. It’s a Roman mosaic from Germany. That’s a rake and a sickle, in their little cart.


    The velcro on the tartan jacket is wearing out. I’ve done all the suggestions, for restoring it, but, it’s reaching the end of it’s useful life. I’ll have to start looking around for a replacement. The only alternative is a pink thing. And, we’re not going there. 🙂 .

    I thought mulch man, was moving on? A curse of rabbits, upon him?

    I don’t “do” funerals or memorial services. I know I’m wired wrong, but, I don’t need them for “closure.” I know those people have passed on, but I’d rather have the memories of them living.

    Well, I had two prints, in the bag, and then nailed down another two. That’s it, for this time around. So, I got the widow, the fruits of the tropics, the Civil War soldier saying goodbye to his sweet heart, and a nice print of crumbling ruins. Probably an old monastery. By the way, if you watch “Secret Garden”, there’s one bit of the garden that’s monastic ruins. It’s Rievaulx (or, The Fountains), in England. There was also a print of a young lady with some kind of parrot. Not very much money. I paused over it for quit awhile. But, it just didn’t “speak” to me.

    There was an article in our yesterday’s paper, that I found disturbing.


    I see how this is drifting. The recent “new” lists are over run with electronic books. Sooner or later, they’ll reach a critical mass, and they’ll start closing branches. Which isn’t too unlikely, anyway, as our libraries finances were pretty shaky, before “It.” Of course, Chehalis owns the library building. So, perhaps there will be a return to a county or city system. A small town south of here, Toledo, wanted a library branch. Timberland wouldn’t pull the trigger. So, the citizens set up their own library. They get some small support from Timberland, but not much. All just part of the long decline.

    I saw some more articles that Melbourne is loosening up some of the lockdown. But, with the holidays coming up, I’m sure they’ll be a comeback. Lew

  19. Hi Chris,

    We received a cold rain yesterday. Luckily the temperature was enough above freezing to be all rain; parts of northern and central Missouri were not so lucky. Nor was I unhappy about receiving rain. September through mid October were abnormally dry; before the rain of the past week we were approaching moderate drought conditions. We even had two critical fire weather days the week before last, fortunately with no issues. This is one of the two times of year (late winter until mid spring green-up being the other) in which fire can be a concern due to dry fallen leaves and dry grasses. We are forecast to receive more rain on Wednesday or Thursday, which should result in the soil being moist enough to carry dormant trees and plants through the winter.

    We experienced a bit of frost on the 16th, but the tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and beans shrugged and said, “Frost? You call *that* a frost? We’ll let you know when a *real* frost hits.” There are still tomatoes, peppers, and beans developing, though I don’t know for how much longer. The first real frost or freeze cannot be far off. The greens and root crops look very healthy and I expect a good harvest from them.

    We still have a patchwork of restrictions in place due to the subject I cannot name, but it’s uneven. Some of the public school districts are holding on-site classes, but only two days a week. Others are still holding all classes online. Some restaurants are open to indoor dining at reduced capacity, others only for take-out. Some concert venues are open at reduced capacity, but these are few and far between. Some organized sports events are held, others not. Masks are still required in this county, but not in surrounding counties. And so it goes. Cases are up but deaths aren’t. I read an article which suggested the lower death rate could be due to understanding better how to treat it and/or to the virus mutating into a weaker form. I too notice fatigue setting in. Eventually I think a combination of fatigue, the development of some herd immunity, and perhaps a weakening of the virus will combine to cause us to accept it as a fact of life, the same way we do flu, and with about the same cost of life. But I don’t have a good feel for how long that will take.


  20. Hi Chris,
    As always your place looks wonderful and looks like the seedlings are doing well too. Ollie is just a bit large to be a lap dog I think. He does looks quite content I must say.

    Breaking news here – Salve caught a rabbit and deposited it sans its rear half in front of the garage for us. It’s been awhile since she’s caught one I think.

    Yesterday I started a new volunteer job – working at the environmental group’s used book store. It’s the same group that holds the recycling drive. Of course I have an alterior motive – getting an early crack on books I might want. I was going to do two Mondays a month but I realized it’s coming onto bad winter weather driving time and it’s a half hour away and the entire way is is prone to drifting. I didn’t want to commit to a specific time and not be able to show up due to weather so instead I’ll be a sub and a book sorter.

    A week or so back you or someone else was talking about the hoops one has to jump through to work in certain professions. I wanted to tell you about my poor niece. She’s been working on her PhD in psychology for I think seven years now and is nearing the end as she wants to be a therapist/counselor perhaps at a school. The work is so overwhelming and stressful that she’s on two antidepressants and has gained tons of weight. She said it’s almost a given that everyone in her program ends up on anti depressants. It just infuriates me that someone like her has to go through this just to get a job in her chosen profession. Now she has to defend her thesis proposal and then complete that as well and to what purpose. I haven’t even brought up the cost of this. Just to top it off she lives in Colorado and has all the smoke from fires that are close by. Most likely no one will ever look at the thesis anyway. Anyway done with rant.

    Still below normal temps and we had a little snow night before last. As you are slowly coming out of lockdown we are going into it. The number of cases is concerning to be sure so we are hunkering down more to play it safe. We’re both in that age range that’s more likely to get seriously ill. I’ve got a few projects around here planned as well as extra reading and more naps.


  21. On the subject of police not checking the backroads, this is something I have some experience in as it relates to my job (which is basically to make sure somebody checks the back roads).

    When building a system, there’s a concept of a ‘happy path’ which is the most obvious, normal, high value flow through the system. The one that 80% of people will use and that absolutely must work. In this case, the happy path is the main freeway cos that’s the road with the most traffic. (Since most of us here are gardeners, the happy path is when you get to eat all the wonderful food that you grow which is big and juicy and hasn’t been touched by pests or affected by the climate etc.)

    Because building systems is hard, it normally takes a lot of time and energy to figure out how to even get the happy path to work. In the case of the police checks, somebody has to set up the barriers and road signage, the police need to be rostered on to show up at the right place, they need to be fed and watered, there is probably a temporary shelter that needs to be delivered, systems to record driver details need to be provided etc etc. In short, there’s hell of a lot of work involved that will require multiple people from multiple organisations (police, Vicroads, health bureaucracy, other govt depts) going to multiple meetings.

    Because the burden to make the happy path work is often so great, it may be the only thing that will be considered. There isn’t the time, money or bandwidth to do more. This is especially true because the people building and organising the system are removed from the on the ground situation. They may simply be unaware there are back roads. The police on the ground might notice the back roads. They may even know drivers are using them. But they may not have the resources to police the back roads and they may not have the incentive to complain and get more resources.

    In short, humans are still very bad at designing new systems that work. Most of the systems that work in our society only do so because they have been tinkered with over years, maybe even centuries, and have stood the test of time.

    That’s why we are seeing these ridiculous rules put in place due to the subject which cannot be named. Nobody has ever tried to design a system that will control a virus before and we simply aren’t very good at it.

  22. Hi Pam,

    I don’t really know about that either. Although, Simon did leave an excellent comment which delved into the motivations as to just why it may have been so. The other roads could simply have been physically blocked off, it wouldn’t have been that big a task, although that would have inconvenienced a whole bunch of people. The whole thing makes my head spin – exorcist pea soup style. As a disturbing side note I heard a second-hand account that someone’s kid suggested using guns to sort the entire matter out – and between you and I, hearing that reminds me why it is a good thing that the kids are not in charge of the asylum!

    The ferns are in their happy place! 🙂 Late this afternoon a short but very sharp storm dumped half an inch of rain in about 15 minutes. The small frozen hail stones had to be fished by hand out of the water tank inlet filters and it took under a minute – and possibly far less time – for me to begin wondering whether frostbite was a genuine risk. Anyway, the editor came up with a good idea and whilst I warmed my hands in lukewarm water, the inlet filters failed and water went everywhere, the editor grabbed a nifty brush which we’ll use during future storms. Usually tropical monsoonal thunderstorms are usually warm, but not this one… Brr! I got the wood heater running shortly afterwards. And my fingers seem to be OK now. Such weather is forecast every day for the next four days such is the sad side of La Nina years.

    Plum and Ruby are getting big. They’re now the same size that Sir Poopy was at the height of his powers. Of course, they have a long way to go before they can measure up to such canine prowess, but they might get there.

    Thanks for confirming my mates opinion of the potato bed. Don’t hesitate to chuck in suggestions if something needs attending to. 🙂 I’m just making things up as I go along.

    Baby Ollie sends cordial tail wags to you and yours. No doubt he’d enjoy riding in the passenger seat of Mr Dumpy.

    You better brace yourself, because there are more flowers where those lot came from. I was looking at one of the garden beds today and it is chock full of Borage flowers, so might chuck in a wider view of the mass of flowers on the next blog.

    Good stuff, and a 300 year old oak tree is a venerable and tough as old boots kinda tree. 🙂 Best to nab acorns from a true survivor such as that one. Down here such a tree might be described as a parent tree of the forest. In other years I’ve simply grabbed bags full of acorns and thrown them randomly around the property, and then just waited it out. The acorns know their business best, and not all acorns are nabbed – nay, not even Queen Charlene the White Squirrel (respect for her having achieved such great heights) – can harvest every acorn.



  23. @ Pam
    The laptop is still staggering on. I am not doing anything until it collapses completely.
    Thank goodness I don’t do anything financial on the internet and therefore am not getting books that way. I would soon be smothered by them. My time is devoted to trying to get rid of books and the virus has made this difficult. At one point all the charity shops were closed down,


  24. Hi DJ,

    Well yeah, your words left me with this improbable mental image of something which I would have struggled with. 😉 Each week I nab a couple of 30kg buckets which are full of coffee grounds. Try carrying two of those buckets and you’ll quickly realise my interest in the buckets in your photos! Hehe! The photos were really lovely too.

    But argh, sandy soil is a foreign growing medium environment, although way back in the big smoke such was the case. Between you and I, way back in those inner suburban days, the local council had left a huge pile of chipped up woody mulch in a very handy and nearby locale. For whatever reason it did not appear to ever be used, and so under cover of dark I’d haul back loads of the stuff and apply it to the garden, and eventually the sand turned into a most beautiful loam. But then there was that strange time I dug it all up unnecessarily due to the fungi…

    Well my theory collapsed upon the first examination. 1957 was an epic drought year down here. As bad as it gets, with rainfall barely surpassing 650mm. However, high summer during that year was more or less average for rainfall and so the year does not get recalled for far worse climactic events.

    Hehe! Well when we are little tykes, things look biggerer! 🙂 Always was it thus.

    Thank you for the most excellent suggestions and advice as to how to deal with such cold conditions – may I never have to put them into practice. What kind of sleeping arrangements can cope with being in a tent in -20’C? In Nepal at altitude about 5000m we slept in tents with double sleeping bags, and that worked really well when even the clothes were frozen solid the next morning. That’s bonkers cold weather in my opinion and fortunately that was as high as we got.

    No, the computer may have set the speed for the windscreen wipers and I’m not sure about that, but my understanding is that it turns the things on in the first place at the hint of rain. Like how lazy does a person have to be that they can’t flick a switch? The monsoonal and very cold storm this afternoon would have challenged a computer to work out what was going on. My hands almost froze pulling one hand full after the other of ice out of the water tank inlet filters. Brr! The editor came up with a neat solution of using a brush with a handle – now why didn’t I think of that! 🙂

    Hope the fruit on the trees is not damaged. Oh well.

    Exactly, that was what my understanding of the bloke was like after having read how he had to navigate the world that he found himself in. It is possible that William was honed by the times, and just had that latent talent and circumstances for learning and excelling at what was needed of him. Of course given the ensuing dramas, a solid argument could be made that he knew not where to stop. But then the same accusation could be levelled at Arthur and his mates. Hmm. Where to stop indeed. I first picked up that understanding whilst reading about Alexander the Great – who was very good at conquering, but not much interested in administering, unless it was an army. That lack of roundness of character is very telling.

    Ah, it appears that Rahki and Ruby have something in common. Whilst Plum and Ollie looked on in despair at the distressed Ruby noisily reacting to the thunder this afternoon, they may have suggested to her to: ‘chill out girl’. Didn’t work.

    Your words were likewise conveyed to the editor. Both of us were left floundering for reasons why we hadn’t thought of the word ‘mead’! Of course, I make special Anzac biscuits for the dogs that are the same except they don’t contain the sultana’s that we consume in ours.



  25. Hi Claire,

    Ah as your growing season winds down, so does mine wind up. Hey, one or two peanuts have finally sprouted in the greenhouse. Now why I never had such a building to raise seedlings in before is something that I’m scratching my head over. Beats me.

    Glad to hear that the recent critical fire days came to naught. Always a worry. Dunno, but the trees may be dormant and devoid of leaves, but – and I’m not sure about your part of the world as it is much colder than here – but I reckon the fruit trees continue to put on wood if the winter conditions are just right.

    Your tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and beans are perhaps real tomatoes, peppers, eggplants, and beans if they could shrug off a minor frost!!! Hehe! I assume you save seed from year to year? It might interest you, but now that I’m raising seeds in the greenhouse, the saved seed germinated ahead of the purchased open pollinated seeds which were planted out at the same time. That was really pleasing to see, so yeah saved and selected plants get tougher for the local conditions. And one chilli appears to have sprouted earlier today.

    Down here the restrictions are state wide, but with slightly easier restrictions outside of the Melbourne metropolitan area. Unfortunately the death rate down here suggests that the disease is taking out the vulnerable members of the community, as has unfortunately been your experience. But unless it gets far worse or has unexpected consequences, then I don’t see the difference between this and a very bad flu season. Down here we are not even at the mortality rate of the particularly nasty 2017 flu. Now of course if a person is vulnerable or at high risk, well it’s not good. The word about my mate who died recently was that his health care appointments had been cancelled due to fears of the health subject which dares not be named, so perhaps it is not directly related, but an argument could be made that it is causative.

    Like you, I don’t have a good feel for how this will play out. The response to this is in unchartered waters.



  26. Hi Margaret,

    Thank you for the lovely words, and I hope to keep you in flowers for the rest of your winter! 🙂 This year is bonkers weather, and this week has been positively monsoonal with clouds building up during the day, and then at about 5pm a storm drops rain. This afternoon was half an inch in about fifteen minutes with hail – fun stuff to clear by hand which took only a few moments before they got frozen solid. That was a new experience for me.

    The greenhouse is doing really well, and I’ll probably plant out the seedlings in maybe a week or two. Not sure yet as I’m watching the weather forecast to get the timing just right.

    You’re probably right about Ollie, but he imagines that he is the perfect lapdog, which he ain’t. He always joins us in the early evening for a dog specifically varied Anzac biscuit. I make them out of the same batch as our biscuits, but just don’t add dried sultana grapes to the dogs. For some strange reason he is always attuned to that particular time of day!

    Congrats to, dare I say it, Dame Salve! 🙂

    Top work, and an excellent idea with the books. Did you discover any gems in the collection? Out of curiosity do you have to occasionally cull your collection of books, or do you usually churn them anyway and thus the books end up in a new home regardless?

    Oh my! Margaret, I’m so sorry to hear of your niece’s experience. That’s awful. Of late due to the times, my professional work has cost me in terms of energy as I’ve been spreading joy, cracking stupid jokes, and just generally trying to both help people and businesses out. Seven years, huh? Well that’s a long time to be stuck in the education business. Yup. Comes a point where a person has to recharge their batteries, and your niece might be there if medication has become part of that. By contrast, I tend to ensure that there is enough fat in my life with which to do so, and then adjust accordingly. It is very possible that this is the journey she needs to travel, for the emotional load in that profession is more difficult than what I have to encounter, although there are some days, I can tell you. As a guess, part of the dreaded internship process was burning out the interns feelings so that they became less emotionally charged from being in such caring professions for decades afterwards. There is a part of me that does wonder whether all of the pushing on of heavy emotional content all the time in our wider society is doing unexpected damage to the young such as what your niece may be experiencing? Dunno, but have you tried talking to someone about politics recently? Far out… Talk about an emotionally charged journey… I counter that by acting apathetic.

    Reading and naps – sounds like very pleasant pursuits to me.



  27. Chris:

    My goodness, what a freaky situation. I think it takes awhile for frostbite to set in, unless the temperatures are way below freezing. Once I had a skiing accident and wasn’t found for some time. I had no frostbite – all of me but my face was well covered – but I did develop hypothermia and it was weeks before I felt warm again.


  28. Hi Lewis,

    Ah yes, those flatlanders (as distinct from katana owning Highlanders 🙂 ) in the valley way down below have to learn to suffer the indignities which come from collecting all the cold air that falls down from higher up. Serves ’em right as far as I’m concerned. Of course the flatlanders may also enjoy the benefits of millennia of all the highlander soil minerals running down the mountain. I wondered where all the top soil went? Long ago there was a rumour circulating around these parts that after the area was last logged, the top soil was also sold off. Dunno whether the rumour is true or not, but I’ve heard it said from a few old timer sources. They may have been engaging in the gentle art of muckraking though. That’s possible. What I do know was that there was no top soil here when I bought the property. It was all hard sun baked clay. Shocking stuff.

    I take your 32’F, and raise you a 50’F with a late afternoon monsoonal downpour of half an inch in about fifteen minutes. The hail which accompanied the rain clogged up the water tank inlet filters, and it only took a few seconds of scooping that stuff out in the rain by hand, in the wind and gushing water before my fingers became sort of numb and hard to move… That was a new and exciting experience, and the editor was on the veranda yelling at: ‘what’s wrong’. Yeah well frozen fingers was definitely high up on the list of things that were wrong, yup. Forgot about the water inlet filters, and I stuck my hand in some lukewarm water and feeling quickly returned. Then the editor came up with an idea for using a brush with a handle to clean the water inlet filters. Now why didn’t I think of that idea? Anyway, back out into the rain, and the storm fortunately soon passed. Far out, what a strange wet growing season we are heading into. Looks set to repeat again tomorrow, and the day after, and maybe the day after that one too.

    The strawberries I believe were grown in poly tunnels out east of the city up towards the most excellent area, the Yarra Valley. It is nice here, but its nicer there. On the plus side, it is quieter here.

    The parrots already help around the farm as they clean up the dog poo. Seriously, the parrots are dirty for the stuff. The dogs after all eat a very good quality diet. When we used to live in the nearby town in a project house whilst we built this place, the birds used to sit on the fences and just watch the dogs… And the fertility in that property built so quickly that I ended up getting an order to mow the place. The landlords didn’t seem to mind the dead zone left by the oozing chemicals from the former tenants vehicles. Nope, but heaven help us all if the grass got more than an inch. If I had to deal with a particularly nosy homeowners association, well let’s just say that them messing in my business would not be good for them or me.

    The two parakeets pulling a chariot where fun, but I reckon those Roman’s sure knew how to party! The colours and preservation of the mosaic is amazing.

    Not good about the velcro, although why wouldn’t you just drop off the clothes to get repaired? In dry cleaning businesses down here, they usually can send out clothes to get repaired – I assume it is some sort of highly experienced cottage industry as the work is always good. I even once got a pair of pants slightly let out many years ago so as to provide a touch more breathing space – that happens with age of course. 🙂 But yeah, the velcro can be unstitched and then a new chunk stitched on. The repairs are usually pretty cheap too.

    No, mulch man appears to be rusted on, for now. This other house was rooster man. I caught the bloke out the front of my house (no easy feat as it is a walk from the road) putting his nose into my business one day years and years ago. Of course I asked who was he, and what was he doing there. He came up with some BS story about finding a rooster and asking if it was mine. Yeah, like where was the rooster? Anyway, the next day I was contacted by the council investigating a complaint. The guy only lived up here half the year, so I suspect he is moving to where ever he half lived the other part of the year. Like, who eats and poops in the same spot? The dogs told me he was there…

    Oh, well I go to funerals because it is expected. Only time heals grief for me. The funeral provides no closure for me although that sentiment is also expected. But wakes are good to catch up with people and have a laugh and remembrance of the deceased and other earlier times. But you know the good thing about grief is that we all handle it differently, and there is no right way as far as I can tell, and most people are so wrapped up in their own emotions that they rarely notice what anyone else is doing anyway. It’s like skipping out of a wedding early – don’t tell anyone, and you won’t get into trouble. Made that mistake once as I was quite ill and back in those days the cigarette smoke from all the smokers at the reception was seriously killing me. Lost a friend out of that. Super-weird, but happened. But yeah, be seen early and go quietly is a rule of thumb that has served me well on many dull occasions. One memorable evening I was at a particularly boring occasion and arrived and said hello and was seen and then snuck out to enjoy a hamburger and beer at a nearby joint. It was a good night. Then returned and said my goodbyes. A genius strategy.

    Secret Garden is now on the to-see list. 🙂

    Oh yeah, the future can hardly wait to get rid of physical books. You know it might just be a play by big tech so that they have some use for their server farms? Once a library is electronic, well it could be anywhere, and who will employ librarians then?



  29. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the insights and explanation as to the story. Makes sense, although it is a dysfunctional outcome, but yeah I hear you. Maybe a better outcome was too difficult to ever expect? And as you say, that was the best that could be done in the circumstances and with the resources.

    Although I probably have a small business mindset and just would have physically blocked off the back roads and forced everyone down the freeway. A few people whingeing about the inconvenience such a possibility would present, pales into insignificance when you consider that a city of 5 million or so souls were placed under strict curfew.

    Meetings, can’t live with ’em… pass the beer nuts. (a recent quote here) 🙂

    Underlying what you wrote about is hinting at the upper limits of: Tainter’s Collapse of Complex Societies. Hmm.

    Still I believe that we are an adaptable species as I heard a second-hand account that someone’s kid suggested just shooting first as a cure-all. Yes, a very good argument to keep children out of the decision making processes in society. Hearing that made me slightly more alert as to what we as a species are capable of doing. Yeah, not good.

    Did you get much rain this afternoon? It was bonkers here at about 5pm.

    That’s a good point. We are in unchartered waters. Yeah, never quite thought of it that way before. The thing that interests me about this is that few people outside a few economists discuss the costs versus the benefits of this current mission and agenda. And the shouting that goes on should anyone try doing that… That shouting itself sort of suggests to me that we in uncertain and possibly very muddy waters. Usually if things are self-evident, then by definition they are self-evident and need little to garner and maintain support.



  30. @ Lew
    I am another one who does not go to funerals. I did not attend my husband’s, mother’s or brother’s funerals. Fortunately I don’t care in any way what others think of me.


  31. Yo, Chris – Lord Terence’s domain was quit whimsical. But, as he stated, he wasn’t shooting for authenticity. More, community. I thought his dogs were distant relatives of Ollie. Still may be, but I see they are Irish wolfhounds.

    That’s interesting about your topsoil. The book I just finished abut the state of American agriculture (bad) talked a lot about top soil in our midwest. They usually get two crops off a plot (soybeans and corn, in rotation). But leave the fields bare in winter, just in time for the rains. Which wash off the top soil and any chemicals that have been applied. Hence, the huge yearly dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. That is changing, but very slowly. The trick was, to find a cover crop, that would not be too expensive, might yield an income and not be to laborious. There are a few fellows that are pulling off that feat. But, it seems it takes about 20 years, before their neighbors catch on.

    It was a toasty 40F (4.44C), overnight. I finally remembered to take my shirt to bed with me, so as not to go into shock, pulling on cold cloth, in the morning. Takes awhile to remember those past small tricks, to keep warm.

    Lord deliver us from homeowner’s associations. I’ve heard way too many horror stories, of their meddling. Ah! Mulch Man as opposed to Rooster Man. Can’t tell the players without a scorecard 🙂 .

    One of the archaeology news sites, I check, has a “Mosaic Monday.” People send in pictures of their favorite mosaics. Inge’s chicken headed man, makes a frequent appearance. Housework getting you down? The ancient Romans had a solution …


    Called “asarotos dikos”, or unswept room. Often found in Roman dining rooms (go figure.) They lack a certain authenticity. No dust bunnies 🙁 .

    That’s a good idea about H’s coat repair. I’ve seen a dry cleaners, or two, around town, that offer “repairs and alterations.” But … I’d need to find back up, in the meantime … and, dollars to donuts, a replacement is probably cheaper than a repair. I might ask around and see if any of the sewing ladies, would tackle it?

    As far as libraries going to “all electronic, all the time,” I’m sure extra layers of bureaucracy, will be added, to keep the degreed librarians employed. With the added benefit of not having to deal with the nasty old public, anymore. It’s the rank and file that will take the job hit.

    The man who sold me the Currier and Ives prints, dropped me an e-mail to let me know they had been shipped. He also mentioned that he’d slipped in a few “extras.” I’d guess they’re maybe prints that are just too damaged to offer on the open market. On the other hand, it could be a tin of biscuits. This is better than Christmas! Lew

  32. Hi Pam,

    Yeah it was freaky, but was so quick to happen. Must have been shock I think, rather than frostbite? Some summers we can have very sudden and seriously significant drops in temperature and this can kill some farm animals who are caught exposed to the weather.

    Oh my, you are lucky that there was no long lasting effects from the hypothermia. It is very serious, and people can get delirious as well.

    Actually the opposite is very bad too, and that is heat exhaustion. When I say that I have cooked my brain, well that is the first stage of that condition. And it always gets me in the in-between seasons when the sun has bite (we’re now in very high UV rating), but the air is cool. Difficult, and you have to be careful – unlike mad dogs and Englishmen in the midday sun!



  33. Hi Lewis,

    Nabbed a copy of Secret Gardenz. Should be fun and thanks for the recommendation.

    Lord Terrence sounds like a lot of fun when fun is required, and then serious as when seriousness is required. It is impressive that he found like-minded people. Actually Ollie’s breed was developed in that part of the country for pig hunting purposes, so it hardly surprises me that he is similar – and I thought so too. A local lady in the more fashionable part of the mountain range has an Irish wolf hound, and the dog is almost the size of a Shetland pony! It seems gentle enough though. Ollie is smaller than that, but more sturdy and less gangly.

    Soybeans and corn… What a truly dull series of crops to rotate. And spare a thought for the poor insects who live in that part of the world and have naught else to eat than the stuff from those two plants. But yeah, not good and if I had to grade their efforts, I’d suggest that they are essentially good, but there is much room for improvement.

    Cover crops is a serious matter, which a lot of people down here don’t get either. I might have linked to some of last summers crazy dust storms? Anyway, I leave no soil bare – the very high UV from the sun bakes it alive, dries it out and sterilises the life forms in the top layers of soil.

    A few months back we considered getting a rotor tiller, but it seems unnecessary and a hand hoe works much better and disturbs the soil structure far less.

    On a related note, today I weeded the rest of the garden terraces, and then about half of the old sapling fenced enclosure which I usually plant the pumpkins and melons in. The weeds had gone feral in there. Anyway I used a hand hoe to pull the weeds, and then covered the two rows in compost, and the paths between them in composted woody mulch. The soil underneath was a rich and black loam – beautiful stuff, but the weeds would outcompete the pumpkins and melons. That is a bit sub fluffy optimal. But the thing is, the compost and mulch covers over the lower layer of rich top soil from the sun and rain. Incidentally I read a theory long ago which said that heavy rain can actually work to compact soil. Dunno.

    The thing is, any income from a cover crop means that the plants have to pull nitrogen from the atmosphere, otherwise the fertilisers needed to be applied otherwise the soil minerals will be further strip mined.

    A wise idea with the shirt to bed. 🙂 I keep extra blankets next to the bed on cold nights so if I wake up cold, I can chuck the blankets on and go back to sleep. I find that if I put too many blankets on the bed in the first place and over heat, it is harder to get back to sleep until I cool back down again.

    Continued burning off the meglette today which was the remains of the monster stump that the loggers had left over, and possibly tomorrow it maybe more of a meg-baby. 🙂

    A score card would be good except for the pesky defamation laws which you know, no free speech down here and all that, kinda makes for a nervous existence.

    How cool were the mosaic mice consuming the mosaic stuff left on the mosaic floor. Loved it, and they’re really fun art. And yes, fish heads seem to get a look in so yes, what about the dust bunnies? Surely they are not a recent innovation?

    Well that’s the thing with repairs, they’re often as expensive as replacement. Most – but certainly not all – of the rubbish served up to us as products nowadays was never intended to be repaired. I’m looking forward to getting the time over Christmas break to get stuck into the FM radio repair job.

    Ah, of course I had not considered that in libraries plebs were expendable. They are the ones that do the hard yards, so I’m not entirely sure how that will work out. Probably not well.

    Good stuff, and lady luck is shining on you with the free extra prints. They’re probably going to be just fine. About a decade ago I bought a mirror for the bathroom, and it is cool as the edges are curved glass. The retailer had marked that particular mirror down in price and swore that there was a fault with the mirror, but to this day I can’t tell what it is. The other examples of the mirror were at full price, and it was only that particular example. Who knows, it might have been a technique to get rid of excess stock, but it is an odd technique.



  34. @ Inge – Funerals are for the living. I’m often asked if I’m going to go to this or that memorial service, at my Club. I always say, “I don’t do funerals.” Can’t say I’ve gotten any flack. But then, gosh knows what people think privately. Not that I care. 🙂 . Lew

  35. Yo, Chris – Speaking of films, I watched the zombie film, “Yummy” last night. Well. Continuing my International Zombie Fest, I was surprised that this is a Belgium zombie film. Young couple and her mother drive to Eastern Europe to a cut-rate plastic surgery clinic. You get what you pay for. 🙂 . There are buckets of blood, and lots of innards. And, a few bits are quit funny. The boyfriend is quit accident prone. A real klutz. Would I recommend it? Well, I figured out something, this morning. Some zombie films I don’t like because, everyone dies in the end. Sure, that’s the way life goes, but, as we’re dealing with fiction here, and, young healthy people are involved, the producers really have a bit of a choice.

    The corn and soybeans mostly go to animal feed lots, ethanol, and junk food. Farmers get in a rut. They play it as safe as possible. And, yes, rain can compact soil.

    Your comment about defamation got me thinking about national “character”, for lack of a better word. I’m reading “The National Road: Dispatches from a Changing America” (Zoellner, 2020). We’ve talked about how Americans move around, and travel, so much. I think Zoellner has been in constant motion, since he was 18. 🙂 . He talks about “freedom of the open road.” A phrase, by the way, whose origin I couldn’t track down. A lot of it, I think, was created by the car companies. I was three, when this jingle was all pervasive. I was three, when it came out, yet it sticks in memory. About 2 minutes.


    By the way, that first car shown is a Chevy Bel Air (with electro glide!). That was my first car. Or, maybe a 1954, which wasn’t that different. There was the “Go West, Young Man”, (Horace Greeley) for opportunity. And, who can forget Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road”, novel? We are a restless lot.

    Can you imagine catching a glimpse of the mosaic mouse, out of the corner of your eye, by torchlight? Those Romans were a fun loving bunch! 🙂 .

    Maybe the Currier and Ives “extras” are some of those sappy, sentimental slope, that no one wants to buy? We’ll see. I’d prefer a tin of biscuits. They’re supposed to arrive on our election day. There will be mail delivery. But, I hope they land the day before. Lew

  36. Chris,

    30kg of coffee grounds per bucket? That’s a workout hauling those around, I bet!

    Nice use of the foraged mulch! I mean the free mulch. You know what I mean. But you get what you pay for and the invasive fungi you also obtained, well…

    Yes, when a little tyke, everything and everyone looks huge. I remember on our summer visits to my grandparents in Montana, there was a small agate shop we would also visit. It seemed like hours of driving in the hot summer sun on old dusty roads. A few years ago, the Princess and I were near there, so we visited the agate shop which is still in the same location some 50 years later. 10 minutes, not hours, from where my grandparents lived back then. Perspective changes with age.

    Sleeping in the cold, whether tent or snow cave? I always had some type of lightweight mat to put under the arctic grade sleeping bag, the sleeping bag rated to -30C. If the shelter stayed dry, that was sufficient. Also, to avoid those frigid cold morning starts, I’d have my socks and longjohns in the bag with me, so at least I’d put on a warm under layer.

    I’ve mentioned the computerized windshield wipers to a couple friends. They both said the same thing: “Seriously? How lazy is that?!?”

    I’ve done similar things, getting a hand very cold or too close to a Hot Burny Thing and the Princess will walk by, smile, hand me the appropriate tool (which was often visible to me but not registering in my brain), and then ask, “Honey, does it hurt to have so much edumication?” Zing.

    The snow and cold didn’t harm any fruit on my trees. Why? There is no fruit on the trees because the starlings stripped EVERYTHING in July. Chokecherries all eaten before they were ripe. Dogwood berries? All eaten before they were ripe. Crabapples? The starlings ate all of the little crabapples, too, and they were still in their green phase. The robins and related species will have nothing to eat in my yard come late February and March.

    Isn’t that true of most people who have that conquer mentality? Heck, it seems to be true of many people in general: knowing when/what is enough isn’t something people pay attention to. Yet the overdoing brings the seeds of destruction with it.

    I cam up with “mead” because I started at the beginning of the alphabet and added “eed” sound to the end. Otherwise, I was stumped.


  37. Hi Pam,

    The interweb is a strange web of intrigue. Thanks for the ear worm too, and do I sense a double entendre in the lyrics?

    Interestingly I did a gaagle search, and the lyrics were attributed on the interweb search to Dean Martin, which of course would have been difficult for him to have achieved way back in 1922. Not impossible, just very difficult.

    Now, I don’t doubt the veracity of your claim, because the interweb is full of rubbish by and large – and that is one of the reasons I barely take note of the political activities so reported there.

    Anyway, the mention of Dean Martin ended up in a rabbit hole of ‘Rawhide’ TV show information. Such are the dark ways of Interweb rabbit holes…



  38. Hi DJ,

    The buckets can handle the coffee ground load, that’s for sure. On the other hand I’m not sure about me handling the load. There was that one time when the local water authorities were putting in a new water main, and closed off the nearby street for a few weeks. Out of necessity I had to park about half a kilometre away, and by the time I hauled the heavy buckets back to the car I felt a touch shorter due to spinal compression and also quite overly hot. Possibly an argument could be made that in that particular instance two trips were better than one, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.

    And in proof, if proof were needed that a picture tells a thousand tales: Well-watered mulberry tree credited with saving home on NSW South Coast from summer bushfires. Not the first time I have encountered that observation. There is something to be learned there.

    The free mulch was most importantly, free! And I’m not sure that the fungi was doing anything harmful other than its usual habit of breaking down cellulose into rich top soil. 🙂 Twas I who mistook what the fungi was up to due to sheer inexperience.

    Hey, all this talk of Montana lead me into an interweb reading rabbit hole about the fascinating state of Montana and then ended up in the Appalachian’s. So many fascinating places, so little possibility of ever venturing over to see them.

    I heard the time thing explained recently by the suggestion that as we age, we accumulate experiences which suggests that only so much can be done in a day. When we were our younger selves, so much more seemed possible in the same restricted period of time. I have to confront this issue all of the time when we set out the goals for what can be done around the property given the time, energy and resources available to complete the jobs. Do you notice that in your job? I’ll bet your earlier perspectives don’t match your current perspectives?

    You know, I’ve never encountered one of these rain sensing systems, mostly because my brain and body performs the same function at a fraction of the cost. So I became interested and blow me down, there are automatic headlights and automatic rear window wipers (so much stuff to go wrong). I can’t make this stuff up: How Rain-Sensing Windshield Wipers Work.

    Your lady is a very wise woman who knows the exact appropriate thing to say. The use of the brush saved my fingers from who knows what with that ice. Checked the apricots and almonds on the trees, and they appear unharmed. The apple blossoms got knocked off, so maybehaps the apples aren’t as smart as I previously considered them to be?

    Mr Greer mentioned long ago that he’d spotted a bumper sticker with the suggestion that: If you’d had enough, how would you know? A simple question, which is deeply profound, and possibly has no answer. But it sure does raise questions!

    Thanks for the new word tool as that hadn’t occurred to me. Know wonder the editor destroys me when we play scrabble. It’s brutal, but then I have my day in the sun with monopoly – and now we don’t play board games, which is probably for the best.



  39. Hi Lewis,

    Out the front of the house there are two Ficus shrubs which sit in two large ceramic pots. The pots are bigger than your average Amphora, but they’re not so big that they are unable to be easily handled. An important concern, you may agree, if the ceramic pots had to be readily shifted onto and then off again your average sailing vessel. Unfortunately, both pots contain soil and Ficus trees and they are perhaps now far too heavy for manual cranes and ease of loading and unloading. But more importantly, the two shrubs frame the front door and reinforce the message of symmetry which is also suggested by the front of the house itself.

    Except that, not fifteen minutes ago, young Plum the hapless sheep dog needed to venture outside so as to relieve her bowels. Why not? May have been the exact question which bounced around the interior dark spaces of her mind. And with that thought she began excavations of the soil in one of the Ficus plant pots. I’m certain she had fun – up until she learned the meaning of the word ‘consequences’.

    Just outside the front door, for but a few brief moments, mayhem had been the order of the day. The little rotter. Oh well, known problems are known, but the spectrum of problems also includes that pesky critter known only as the dreaded ‘unknown’. These things were sent to try us.

    Had a lovely day today and travelled about an hour north up to the town of Bendigo for lunch. Many of the businesses had stickers on their windows reminding locals to spend their coin locally. A good call. It’s a lovely old gold mining era town which is the commercial hub of the area. The population is about 111,000 souls and it is one of the larger inland towns.

    We took the back road all the way north, and it really was a beautiful trip. The very quiet road ran along side a large creek which fed into a reservoir (which we stopped off to check out) which is used to provide water to some of the largest area of orchards on the continent which so happens to produce something like 40% of all apples. Whilst there we stopped off at a cold store and picked up some of last years fruit – which is still crisp.

    The road meandered through old orchards and farms with Victorian era buildings. Due to all of the recent rain, the area looked very lush and nice. Lunch was scrambled eggs on sourdough toast, with a banana and honey smoothie. The editor had a BLT on toasted Turkish bread. Yum!

    Stopped off on the way back home again at a botanical garden that is now about 160 years old, and sampled the aroma of some lilac flowers which were in the gardens.

    Coffee later included a side serving of an excellent lemon syrup cake with lemon icing. Kapowee! My taste buds can only be subjected to so much good stuff in one day, lest they fall off my tongue in protest. Imagine that. I hear that one side effect for some people with the health subject that dare not be named is that the senses of taste and smell are seriously impacted. A travesty.

    Just watched the trailer for the film Yummy and it looks gruesome, as only a proper zombie film should look. Oh no, everyone dies in the end of the film. These things happen, however I tend to agree with you that the writers may need to include at least some folks who escape the awful fate. Otherwise what is the point – and zombies become the next evolutionary stage for humanity. And eventually they’ll run out of brains as it is a circular and closed biology. Peak brains – has it already been reached?

    I’m of the opinion that a solid case could be made that many mental health issues arise due to poor diet. Of course this is a chicken and egg argument and nobody will ever know where the origins of that story began and whether one begat the other or vice versa. However, I’d suggest that wide scale farming of corn and soybeans is possibly part of that story.

    That sounds like a fascinating book, and perhaps a good case could be made that it fills in the gap in your countries national journalism when it is possible that the people so engaged in that particular past-time are possibly asleep at the wheel (thus also bring the topic back to The National Road journeys which the author Tom Zoellner was possibly writing about)?

    Rootlessness is a fascinating state of being that I have wondered about. Moving cities or across the country is not really part of the culture down here so I don’t really understand it. Although within a city people can get scattered to the winds due to economic issues. That sure happens, so I guess it is function of the same pressure? Dunno. What is your take on that story?

    Thankfully I was not subjected to such catchy ditties, but yes car companies have possibly spent quite a lot of mad cash on talking up the more pleasant sides of vehicle ownership. Of course as you and I both know, with benefits comes costs and so it ain’t always thus. Interestingly, Dinah had a charming and genuine air about her and a very pleasant voice.

    Hehe! Yes, my thoughts exactly about the Roman mouse and stuff on floor mosaic. A very cheeky bunch. I used a huge chunk of silicone to block up a rat hole into the chicken enclosure earlier today. The rats had found a weak spot in my systems and rapidly taken advantage of them. We’ll see how they deal with a caulking guns load of silicone… Take that ya durty wat!

    It is possible that the print is of the lady with the parrot which did not speak with you? Hope your postal service is faster than here. We seem to be having a run of public servants being hung out to dry for alleged misdeeds. It is possible that there was something of a cultural shift in the space which is now slowly being addressed? It has been more than just one or two.



  40. Chris:

    Not that it matters, but . . . ” ‘Carolina in the Morning’ is a popular song with words by Gus Kahn and music by Walter Donaldson, first published in 1922 by Jerome H. Remick & Co.[1]”

    Many people have made recordings of it since then.

    “I’m of the opinion that a solid case could be made that many mental health issues arise due to poor diet.” I have proven that with myself, though I would have to add, as you know better than anybody, plenty of sleep and exercise. But without the right nutrition you are not going to be able to accomplish those last two.


  41. Chris,

    Hehehe, often the argument can be made that 2 (or more) trips should have been made. But we’re men with the attitude that “I can do this! I’m in good shape! I’m muscular, and I don’t want to waste time on more than one trip.” Yeah, then we end up with a pulled muscle or a sprained ankle or heat exhaustion or…

    Nice mulberry article. That agrees with some observations I’ve made as well as what a lot of the firefighting groups say. They’re big on having “green zones” around houses, especially in rural areas. No pines or dry trees near the house, and keep the shrubs and lawn areas near the house well watered. It makes a difference.

    There’s a LOT to see. The Princess and I have no desire to venture to Europe or Australia or anything, as there’s plenty of new things to see just within a few hundred kilometers of here. I knew a chap who moved from Chicago to Rapid City, South Dakota, about 40 years ago, because he liked the Black Hills. He began exploring for old historical ruins and lost mines and ancient homesteads. his hobby has led to his writing and getting printed in some publications. So, 40 years of exploring within 50km of his house. Plenty to see and do…

    How much can be done in a day? Well, as I’ve aged, I’ve noticed that on the job, the volume of what I can do has slipped a bit, but I’ve made up for that by knowledge and being able to make things a bit more efficient. But that gets decayed by each and every software “upgrade”. The biggest difference I’ve noticed is in the busy season of February through early May. The job is intense then, and I can no longer recover as quickly intellectually or emotionally. Oh wait, not an issue, as my last day there is BEFORE the busy season starts!

    I’m also finding, and am paying better attention to this, that I can work hard on yard projects for 2 hours today, and then I better have a light to moderate 2 hours tomorrow. If I have to do 3 to 4 hours of hard today, then I can do a little light yard stuff tomorrow. If I do 2 hours of hard today AND tomorrow, I need at least 2 days off. More recovery time needed as I age. An adaptation I’m making is that what used to take 2 hours, I might stretch into 3, which slows the pace, has more breaks, and then I can do that for several consecutive days. Sometimes.

    It’s physics, really. I can do 5 units of work today. If I do that in 2 hours, power = work divided by time, so I do 2.5 work units per hour. But if I stretch the work to 3 hours, then I do 1.667 units of work per hour. It is the rate of doing the work that is a big issue, so using less power, aka working more slowly, helps me make up for it. Same thing as a car with a 100 horsepower engine can’t go as fast up a ill as a similar car with a 200 horsepower engine. The same amount of work is done in moving the car up the hill, it just takes longer with a less powerful engine. So I try to minimize the power while still doing a similar amount of work.

    WE had an epic sunrise this morning! I spent several minutes watching it through a window while drinking my first cup of coffee. At least for me, taking a few minutes to observe and enjoy such things really helps keep me sane.

    Thanks for the windshield wiper article. It was interesting. I’ll probably always be in the category of “Gee, Wally, if he’s too stupid to turn on his headlights and windshield wipers, then his crashing his car is appropriate.” Just hope he doesn’t hurt somebody else while being stupid.

    Yes, the Princess s very wise. Very fortunate to have her around.

    Ugh, so the apple blossoms bit it? At least the apricots and almonds survived this round of weather for you. Diversity…

    What is enough? That’s difficult. It’s a different mindset, but also is one of those ephemeral thingies that seems to change quite often. Perhaps contemplating the questions it raises is the important thing, rather than an answer?

    I discovered that word tool when very young. My mother and I would play a lot of “Hangman”. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hangman_(game) That word tool helped a lot in that game.


  42. Yo, Chris – Plum and the ficus tree. I’ve heard reports that children are prone to such actions. It was probably Ruby’s idea.

    Sounds like you had a wonderful day trip to Bendigo. Scored some apples, saw a great old garden, and fine tucker on the side. A plethora of riches. We won’t be smellin’ the lilacs for another 5 months, or so. We have one large bush, here, but last year it produced few blooms. Unlike the year before, when it was loaded. It’s right under my bedroom window (three floors down), so it can really stink up my place … in a nice way 🙂 .

    Not zombies, but last night I watched “Tremors: Shrieker Island.” The seventh “Tremors” movie, so they must be doing something right. Great fun. Lots of firepower and cool explosions. But I must say, it was a shameless rip off of the “Jurassic Park” films. Well, if you have to steal, steal from the best.

    Diet and mental health. Yup. Probably a connection. All that high fructose corn syrup, rots the brain. Doesn’t do much for your pancreas, either.

    Well, books to fill in the gaps in journalism are all fine and good, but who reads these days? And, given the process of publishing, by the time a book hits the stands, often it’s all over but the shouting. For immediacy, on-line blogs and magazine articles seem to be the way to go.

    “Wanderlust: A strong desire to travel.” I think it’s in the American genes, by now. All those people who took a leap and moved here from foreign climes. For a better life. And, yes, economics played a big part. Back in the early days, if your business failed, you could just pick up and move west and give it another whirl. And then there’s the whole idea of moving somewhere, and re-making one’s self. Harder, these days, with instant communication. But still attempted. It’s also great for grifters. Though not all people who re-made themselves had criminal intent.

    So, the rats have made another appearance in the chicken enclosure. They just never sleep, do they? Just watch. They’ll probably figure out how to metabolize silicon. Part plastic rats? Such ideas yield horror films.

    Public servants hung out to dry? There ought to be more of that. Like the lot that run this place. Yesterday, they restriped the handicapped parking slots. They could have also striped the garbage truck access, but why do just one job, when you can turn it into two? They also changed the locks on the community room. Someone had accessed it! The horror, the horror. Actually, I think it’s all paranoia, as our lazy shiftless maintenance guys are in and out of there, all the time.

    I know other people’s dreams are a bore, but I had one yesterday that was very odd, and you figured in. I’ll keep it brief. There were all kinds of other odd details (shifting locations, etc..) Anyway, you’d come for a visit. The really weird part was that you and I, were watching you and I have a conversation. To make it clear (maybe) there were four people in the room. Two of you, two of me. I’ve never had a dream where multiples of people appeared. LOL. A peek into a mirror universe?

    I was going to tip you off to the conversation on coffee makers, over at Mr. Greer’s, but I see you picked up on it. My favorite tale, was the fellow who discovered an entire ant colony, in his coffee maker. Lew

  43. Hi DJ,

    Your theory is known as the ‘two full buckets and busting a gut’ theorem. The outcomes of your theorem aren’t so good in the real world where the physics of gravity come to the fore, and far out those bucket things are heavy. 🙂 I tell ya truthfully that I had to stop a few times to catch my breath on those long walks back to the car. Unfortunately for me there were heaps of people working on the water mains replacement, and um, yeah, audiences can be harsh critics.

    It does make a difference. Thought you might be interested in a first hand account from someone who went through last summer’s horror fires (it is a very good story and an interesting commentary on beliefs): The ‘exotic weeds’ that saved a Braidwood truffle forest from destruction

    Yeah, that is the thing isn’t it? Your locale environment is a fascinating place, and too often people believe that more interesting things happen over there somewhere, where ever that happens to be. We often (when we could) stay over night in the big smoke and just look around and see what there was to be seen.

    Hmm, we keep coming back to the Black Hills – a truly fascinating place, which I’ll probably never get the opportunity to visit although knowing that I’d enjoy it.

    Far out, I thought you’d somehow managed to escape the dreaded software upgrades, and could provide some sage advice. Mate, looks like I’m completely f@#$^&… A person can only hope for the best, but expect the worst.

    DJ, my head is spinning due to the exposure of your excellent and far better grasp of the beauty of math and physics. I defer to your good judgement, and um also note that it is best to not over-tax a proper working machine. I have sympathy for the workings of machines and can hear such notes playing out in their inner workings. Not good, and can lead to expensive repair bills.

    It’s crazy days so take it easy and avoid any and all emotional exercise. Not always an easy thing to do in your fine country. Good luck!

    Maybe it is just me, but I don’t recall asking car manufacturers to produce such trinkets. Using less fuel, yeah I’m all for that, but unnecessary electronics. Dunno…

    I had a look today at the apple blossoms and some had already turned into tiny fruit, but I’m a bit slack on pruning and noticed that the benefit from that decisive course of action was that the blossoms closer to the trunk of the tree were less hassled by the hail storm. Might be something in that observation.

    Wise. Hmm. Need to contemplate that a bit further.

    I too played hangman as a kid. It’s a macabre game when you think about it, but that’s what we did. We also used to also have a game of throwing knuckle bones, but the details allude my brain interrogation..



  44. Hi Pam,

    Thanks for the correction regarding the song. Who would have thought that information on this here interweb thingee could be wrong? 🙂

    So true, and I hear you about that. Perhaps it is a continuum along which we all travel? Actually, possibly like your good self, I eat a lot out of the garden. One of the things this has highlighted to me is how rare fresh food is actually to be found.

    But haven’t we all been there? When I worked at the big end of town I ate well, exercised regularly, but the sleep patterns were difficult to keep on top of as stress affects your sleep. And that isn’t good for a person’s mental health, and part of the reason I went off and did something else with my life.

    If you have a short while to spare, I’d recommend listening to the recent science hour from the youth radio network I listen to which was a special on food. I listened to in the background whilst I worked around the farm the other day. The radio show works via callers ringing up the show and asking random questions on topics. It was very interesting and practical indeed (and please excuse the Australian accents!): Lactose, acid reflux, plunger coffee.



  45. Hi Lewis,

    So I was near the end of the Green Wizards catch up today and heard a strange noise emanating from the green couch behind me. I turned around to discover that Ruby had barfed up on Plum, and Plum was just sitting there kind of all stunned and stuff, and no mildly damp. Had to wind things up rapidly after that. It was a good chat too. Oh well.

    Fortunately today was socked in and rain drizzled from the clouds all day long. A good day to spend inside, although I did nip out earlier for lunch to grab a gourmet pie. Life is short and the quest for the ultimate bakery produce is err, sort of never ending… Had a very nice lemon syrup cake over the past few days. Very, very good and the icing was just so, and the sponge cake had been somehow soaked in lemon syrup.

    On a sad note I do have to remove the dying Eureka Lemon from the orchard – and that is a sad task. Might do that tomorrow.

    We had a guest speaker today who I hope will attend again in future. We spoke about population size, as well as all of the myriad topics that we freely range around on. Lot’s of fun.

    Lewis, you are like super-bad! But yeah, it probably was Ruby’s idea. 🙂

    The lilac’s are really nice smelling flowers. We have a native Pittosporum small tree which has a thick canopy and glossy green leaves. Some people get a bit funny about that plant, but it produces beautiful smelling flowers, and it has the common name: Native Daphne. A super tough and shade producing plant.

    You betcha, with that many sequels under its belt the creators are probably onto something. Artists occasionally have to give the audience what they want, rather than what the artist wants to produce – and then find some happy medium in the financial payoff with such a strategy. I’ll bet that issue has caused some dramas with artists over the years?

    I know you don’t do podcasts, but I did link to the recent radio science hour which was on diet and food (in my reply to Pam). An interesting radio show to which I’ve been enjoying for years.

    You read. I read. Mates of mine read. As a suggestion, historically rates of literacy in the population were not as high as they are today, and perhaps we are just heading back to the future? Dunno. But I do know people who don’t read books.

    But yup blogs and magazines for immediacy. Hmm, never quite thought of them that way, but yeah. An excellent point.

    The Grapes of Wrath was pretty much that story about heading west after a failed venture (their family farm). Do you think that perhaps the difference down here is that we don’t have anywhere to go down here? Last year I was wondering if I could do better in a nicer environment – and the south coast of New South Wales was mooted as a possibility. But then they got hit hard with last summers fires – like seriously not good hard hit.

    Hey, don’t laugh but I can think of five examples of public servants being hauled over the coals for alleged misdeeds. And who knows what will turn up this week. The Federal government politicians accepted a pay freeze, and it does occur to me that its is possible that some public servants believed that this was something for other people. Certainly given everything going on asking for an increase is not a good look in the public’s eye – especially given they foot the bill.

    As ever the pragmatist, your dream left me wondering whether the conversation was any good? 🙂 Although if past evidence can be relied upon, I reckon it would have been. Get us both in a room having a conversation and I’m pretty sure it would be hard to shut us both up. Hehe! I keep at the back of my mind the general rule of thumb that it is polite to let others speak, but if there is a quiet gap or the topic ventures into dull waters, well I’m all too happy to chime in and give my twenty cents worth.

    Hehe! The coffee conversation was like catnip to me. 😉 All I need now is for someone to spruik the idea that industrial civilisation as it stands today could be run from a combination of solar, hydro and wind power alone and then my week shall be complete!

    Those folks need to have seen the weather here today. 40 minutes of peak sunlight, and no wind to speak of. Hmm…

    Movie night tonight: Secret Gardenz or Bill and Tedz – which to choose from?



  46. Chris:

    The mulberry tree that saved a house essay was so good; very encouraging.

    And thank you for the link to the radio show. Australian accents are the best!


  47. Yo, Chris – The article about the Braidwood Truffle Forest was very interesting. Sometimes, ideology gets in the way of common sense. I noticed he mentioned shipping truffles to chefs, all over the world. I wonder how that’s playing out, due to, “you know.” He might want to scale down from wholesale, to retail. Smaller amounts, charge more money, do more volume. The chefs may have bit the dust, but I’m sure there’s still a lot of “foodies” out there, that still have enough jingle to splurge on truffles. I wonder how “Truffle Boy”, is doing. You may remember the book, that’s about a young man, who supplies the restaurant world with exotic natural ingredients. Fungi, of one sort or another, and other things.

    Ruby barfing on Plum. Sounds like an attention getting device. Like a little kid, who has some concern that has to be taken care of RIGHT NOW! when Mum’s on the phone. “Mom! Mom! MOM!!! Yup. I’d still be in jail, if I had kids.

    Gourmet pies and lemon syrup cake. The small pleasures that make life worth living 🙂 . A few times in my life, I’ve been asked what kind of cake I want. Whoever was asking, probably thinking I’d pick chocolate or white cake. They’re always a bit nonplused when I reply, “Lemon or orange.” Well, they asked …

    RIP, Eureka Lemon :’-) .

    Population size and speculation on the future and solutions, is the “third rail” of that kind of conversation. Limit a person’s “right” to pop out spawn? Anathema! Heresy! As if there aren’t enough surplus kids around, that need a good home.

    Artists and a happy medium. Well, with some artists, you can either make a “statement” (and starve), or give the people what they want. And are willing to buy. Years ago, there was a book kicking around “The Mud Pie Dilemma”. It was from a small, regional press, so there’s not many copies out there, anymore. What it was about was the quandary that potters face, trying to decide weather to do “production pottery” (and keep food on the table) or “art” pottery, and maybe starve to death. Sometimes, the art potter is punished by the market, if they sully themselves with production pottery. A more sensible approach would be that production pottery is your day job, and art pottery is what you do on the side. I think those problems are endemic in any kind of artistic endeavor.

    I noticed when you mentioned the Radio Science Hour, to Pam. Sounds right up my alley, and I’d like to listen to it. I’ll have to check with my social secretary, and see if they can pencil me in an hour, somewhere. 🙂 .

    What’s really funny (and, I notice it years ago) was when a publisher declares a book a best seller, when it sells a million copies. Sounds like a lot. But, at that time, Seattle had a population of one million. It kind of put things in perspective. Print runs of “best sellers” can be even smaller, than that. Of course, how many actual readers a book has, is an unknown. Other than a rough estimate. How often is a book passed around, either person to person, or, via an op shop? How many times does a library copy circulate?

    Move to New South Wales? Every area has it’s problems, nature wise. And, you’d be giving up a lot of hard earned social capital. Plus, you’ve already figured out where the best gourmet pies are to be found, in striking distance. Heavy considerations. 🙂 . But, I’m sure there are many pluses, too. Lower insurance costs? More “elbow room?”

    Nothing warms my soul, more than seeing bad public servants, hauled over the coals. Even better, when handcuffs and prison time is in the offing. Best we can hope for, now that the stocks and guillotine have fallen out of fashion. There’s some speculation that if the current administration goes down, the charges and court cases will be many. There’s some talk that the current administration might go quietly, if a immunity deal is worked out for friends and family.

    Well, the dream was rather fragmented, but I think you were there to attend some kind of event. Music? We may have been talking about gardens, as the next scene was me taking you down to see my garden plots. To find that there was nothing there, but a rutted, muddy field. Within the realm of possibility, if the Master Gardeners go ahead with their plan, to wipe the slate clean, and start over. No news on that, and I don’t expect any, until we have our early spring get together. It really depends on “you know what.”

    So far, at Mr. Greer’s, no one has banged on about renewables replacing our current life style. But I think someone was plumping for nuclear power. Not bait you’d rise to, given (as far as I know) you don’t have a small nuclear reactor, on your place.

    It’s hard to decide sometimes, on a film. “What am I in the mood for?” Tends to change. Of course, another major question is” “Is it worth making popcorn, or hauling out the ice cream?” I watched a very bad horror film, last night. Can’t even remember the name. Some “meta” thing, where everyone knew they were making a horror film.

    But then I watched a documentary, that I’ll have to mention to Mr. Greer. “Hudson River School”. Of artists. 1825-1875. Seems I’m stumbling over nests of Transcendentalists, every way I turn. They were also called “Luminists” due to the way they handled light and atmosphere. Turns out, one to another, they were influenced by the writings of Emerson and Thoreau. Of course, Mr. Greer isn’t interested in pictures on a screen, but there’s plenty of print articles about them. You may remember we looked at one of them, Thomas Cole and his “Course of Empire”, series. Lew

  48. Hi Pam,

    Yes, I too was surprised to learn of that symbiotic relationship which humans have with cows and their bacteria and improved take up of Vitamin D and the positive effect on the immune system. As a mostly vegetarian, I was left wondering if the pasteurisation process killed off that bacteria and am going to look a bit further into the subject later in the week when I don’t have to write. 🙂 It is possible I might have to add some raw milk to my home made yoghurt mix and I know exactly where to get some of that stuff.

    There was even a discussion of our national obsession with the product Vegemite which supplies all three Vitamin B’s. An acquired taste, me thinks! I quite enjoy the stuff, but yeah…

    And dare I mention the discussion of the carnivore diet and negative impact on a person’s lifespan? Years ago I worked with two amusing ladies, one of whom smoked and the other was a straight talker. One day the non-smoker turned to the smoker, and then remarked to me sarcastically that, doesn’t matter if she’s healthy, as long as she’s thin. A very correct and amusing critique of the core dilemma of the matter from a straight talkin’ lady. I quite enjoyed working with those two.

    Glad to read that you enjoyed the radio show and it was fascinating. Dr Karl is a really interesting science communicator and he has had that particular program in one form or another on the national youth radio network since 1981. Long ago I heard a story which suggested that he got the gig in the first place by just turning up at the radio station and offering his services. My how times have changed!

    Thanks, and we’ve become so accustomed to hearing American accents in the visual media that if an Australian accent is chucked in, it sounds very flat and broad, even to my ears! Good fun stuff.

    Well the mulberry tree suggests a strategy which many folks who cling tightly to the native versus exotic debate might feel very uncomfortable about. Fortunately I care not a whit for either side of that debate, and today moved two tiny little oak seedlings into better locations on the forest boundary edge.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    Between you and I, I’ve always dodged the whole native versus exotic argument, if only because it is an argument with no clear goal other than enjoyment of the argument itself. Instead I look at what works – and the mulberry tree is an epic example of that story. One of the outcomes of the most recent latest in a long line of commissions and investigations into the most recent bushfires came up with the astounding claim that somehow forest fuel loads don’t matter. From all that I’ve read, this flies in the face of indigenous knowledge which I’m grateful that people took the time to document. There is so much inertia invested in keeping things as they are, when nature clearly has other plans in store.

    Incidentally the truffle bloke I linked too had some interesting insights to offer on bushfires, although the article didn’t really delve into that too much. And his ideas were tested by last summers bushfires and found to be good.

    Isn’t it odd how well edible black and also white truffles grow down here on inoculated trees? Your observations are valid, and no doubt the bloke would be onto the local markets. He’s closer to the state capital city of Sydney, and there would definitely be a market for them there. In fact, the last time I was in Canberra – which is seriously not far from his farm – attending the funeral of the editors uncle, I had a most excellent gnocchi fungi for dinner one evening which had a touch of truffle in the sauce. I’m not ordinarily into the taste of truffles, but the chef had been very light handed with the stuff and yeah it was good. Too much is a bad thing from my perspective…

    Truffle boy is probably doing quite well given he harvests wild fungi. His store of knowledge would be quite amazing. One day I’m going to have to get my act together and set up an underground bunker for growing mushrooms.

    Ruby is super naughty! Although I kind of enjoy the spark and energy she brings to the household. Plum, well, she’s a more sedate dog and was sound asleep when Ruby decided to do what she did.

    Lewis, mate, I hear you. There was one time when a small child who was unknown to me was attempting to hit me in the head with a balloon at a restaurant. The parents allowed this threat to continue. I was deeply unhappy about this turn of events and decided to go Sun Tzu on the parents and suggest pointedly that the kid ‘F#$% off!’ Well that sure got a reaction from the parents who then restrained the kid. Who knew that adults weren’t meant to swear at children? The parents may have considered the kids actions to be cute, but if it was an adult, the police might consider that this was an assault upon my person. What did they expect?

    Lemon or orange cake! I salute the discernment of your taste buds. The muffins I score regularly in the big smoke are often lemon or orange based. They’re good.

    I’m not worried about the Eureka lemon as I picked up a replacement which has better root stock way back in autumn. The new tree is doing really well in a sunny locale. I took the chainsaw to the old Eureka lemon today and bared it back to basics so we’ll see how it goes. But I suspect that its days are numbered.

    Interesting. Your confirmation of the Mud Pie Dilemma confirms my suspicions. Finding a happy middle ground seems to be elusive, but it is possible that artists have to own the more day to day stuff which pays the bills and just tell it like it is. I’ve heard that very sentiment expressed in that particular industry.

    I wrote more about that particular science hour in my reply to Pam. He’s an interesting bloke and an excellent communicator. Hopefully your social secretary is not a martinet! 😉

    That’s a really tough question about the circulation numbers for books. I tend to believe that all of those statistics are a bit suspect as there are lots of estimates involved.

    It was an idea floating around after last spring’s bonkers cold weather. The weather was so cold it was almost as if winter suddenly turned into summer on about the 1st December last year. And then it became crazy hot and dry for two months. Such a tough growing year – but then that part of the continent had an even worse year due to the epic bushfires. They were so extreme. So that idea got quietly shelved, and the tree dudes got plenty of work.

    There are no lower insurance premiums anywhere down here. I’m hearing suggestions that the building codes need to change. And that change may possibly be on the table.

    It is notable that more than just a few were raked over the coals. Dunno why it is the case, but perhaps the timing was just right?

    Don’t go counting your chickens until they’re hatched is what the old timers might have quipped. Mate, I dunno why our news is full of your election news. I doubt that this is a reciprocal arrangement? 🙂

    I do hope that the master gardeners don’t wipe the slate clean and begin again. It seems to me that it is something that may fall into the ‘vanity project’ bin? I get the impression that some sections of your gardens which other people have control over aren’t overly utilised.

    Hey, I read an odd blog the other day ‘Granola shotgun’ and the bloke joined up the local community garden only to discover that the good folks controlling the place had issues about edible plants from the nightshade family. Never heard of such a story before.

    Maybe it is just me, but I still recall the Mr Fusion reactors from the ‘Back to the Future’ film franchise. Someone up this way in the more fashionable end of the mountain range actually owns a Delorean. Quite a striking looking vehicle.

    Your mention of the Hudson River School, reminds me of the: Heidelberg School. Frederick McCubbin’s house is on the other side of the mountain range in an unassuming location. Went to see an exhibition of his at a regional gallery many years ago.



  50. Chris:

    I am wondering if it is only cows that have that bacteria, or if any ruminant can host it.

    Yeah, I was a vegetarian, almost vegan, for a pretty long time, but when I got so sick a couple of years ago I put meat back in and am still eating it, way too much. I am trying to gradually cut back some. I think I was deficient in protein, but only a guess.

    Forty-one years with one radio show! That sounds like a record.

    Native-exotic, phooey. There is good and bad in all.


  51. Yo, Chris – “….forest fuel loads don’t matter.” I wonder if that’s the same crowd that feels government financial deficits don’t matter? 🙂 .

    Truffle Boy is actually a wholesaler / middleman for wild foragers. Though when he was young, it was relatives that taught him the art. I suppose he still goes out and grubs about in the duff, from time to time.

    Well, my social secretary reminded me that we were about to be in receipt of the lost hour. It arrived, not too worse for wear. Nothing that bubble gum and bailing wire can’t fix. So, I settled in to listen to Dr. Karl’s Science Hour. It’s kind of similar to our public radio, “Science Friday.” Only they don’t have call in. Or, not as much. Triple J is missing a bet. I looked in their merchandise link, and they do not have Dr. Karl’s parrot shirt, on offer 🙁 . I quit liked the accents.

    I really like their catch line … “More hype than hope.” The bit about a celery allergy was interesting. Who knew? I had wondered about the claims that cider vinegar cured everything from cancer to hang nails. But the gem of the broadcast was the great Vegemite debate. Of course, the part about B vitamins caught my attention. And that it’s made from the spent yeast from breweries. So, I got curious about the nutritional yeast, I use. Where does it stand on B vitamins? So, down the rabbit hole, I went. Nobody was willing to give a definitive answer, to the fairly simple question, “Does nutritional yeast supply all the B vitamins.” Yes or no. Well, maybe. Kinda. Some are “fortified”. Even the Bob’s Red Mill nutritional yeast hedged a bit. “A good source of B vitamins.” All of them? Or, just some? Anyway. A good listen and a good use of our bonus hour.

    Oh, I’d say the hanging of civil servants out to dry, at this particular time, is probably a bit of scapegoating. I mean, they’re Guilty! Guilty! Guilty!, but in normal times, they’d probably be let slide, or swept under the carpet. Thrown under the bus? But, because of “you know what”, it’s probably a bit of pressure release misdirection. As with a stage magician.

    Oh, I’m not counting my chickens, before they hatch. I have no idea how things will shake out, on Tuesday. I’ll just be glad when the whole thing is over, and we can get on with … whatever. Well, you probably hear a lot about our election, as it’s such a circus sideshow. More misdirection. We did hear a bit about New Zealand’s election. Mostly about how mari-hoochie was voted down, but death with dignity was voted in.

    I read the Granola Shotgun, blog. I was wondering where he is, but figure it’s somewhere in the San Francisco Bay area. Must be. Half the comments were all Social Justice Warrior whining, about the title of his blog post. I’m surprised he didn’t get flack over the title of his blog. Shotgun! Guns, bad! And, really, his experiences with the community garden people, is more of the same.

    There was also a potshot at Master Gardeners. I guess there are Master Gardeners, and there are Master Gardeners. Ours are a lovely lot, and though they might gently suggest a different course, they let me give a whirl to whatever lunacy I’m willing to try. As far as wiping the slate clean, well, most of our raised beds do need serious work, or, I should say, replacement. They’ve been in place for 20+years, and the rot is rampant. I’m just unlucky enough to be here at the time of replacement. But, because of “you know what”, it’s the … unknowing of when it’s going to take place. The dirt will be saved, and replaced in the new beds. Yup, I’ll have to keep working on the soil, but that’s what I do, anyway.

    LOL. I was confused, for awhile. Our Hudson River Valley artists, well, many, of them were trained in Dusseldorf, Germany. I thought the Heildelberg school, was some rival German training ground. Not a district of east Melbourne. Now that I’ve got that all sorted … Your lot really did some nice paintings. I’ll have to go back, and read more about the different groups, when I have the time. I really found the bit about the “9×5 Exhibit”, interesting. That they were influenced by the Aesthetic Art movement. A favorite of mine. I see not all of the 9×5″ paintings have been uncovered. Wouldn’t it be a trip to find one in a local op-shop, or at an house clearance sale? Probably worth a bit of jingle.

    Well, H gets her bath, this afternoon. Last time we had a time change, Eleanor pushed a bit on changing her going out times, to match the “real” time. This time around, I didn’t get much push back when I said, “We have to adjust to this d____d time change, and so should she.” She didn’t seem to confused when I showed up an hour later (earlier?), this morning. She’s a pretty adaptable little dog. Lew

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