There have been times of late where I’d enjoy going back to the future. Due to the health subject which dares not be named, the future is clearly now not what it used to be. Actually, this year has been a good year for my business because I seem to be working harder than ever, but for less mad cash than in previous years. For those who don’t know, both the editor and I are accountants who work with small business. Yes, as accountants, the editor and I can have some seriously interesting conversations, most of which don’t involve accounting.

The other evening I was frantically working late, and I’d been sailing the wide accountant-seas since the early hours of the day. The clock on the computer was suggesting that the time was now 8pm. My brain was alternatively suggesting that there was an urgent need to stop doing accounting work, but hey, there was a huge amount of work yet to be done.

Ah, of course there had been a public holiday earlier in the week and I’d decided to take a day off, and instead worked on the farm. The growing season of summer is fast approaching and all of the vegetable beds needed attending too. The grass in the paddocks also needed to be mowed. It would take an army of wombats, wallabies and kangaroos to keep up with the plant growth in the paddocks at this time of the year. And the marsupials are less of an army, and more like a marauding band of outlaw motorcycle riders. So yeah, there’s a lot of work to be done on both fronts.

However the public holiday meant that I was a day behind in my accounting work, and the work unfortunately still needed doing. So there I was at 8pm sitting at my desk in my office at home, wondering why the software was doing what it was doing. And there was no clear answer to be found.

My office is quite a nice place to spend time. The desk is a beautiful desk which we purchased secondhand many years ago for $40. The timber of the desk is of the species Rubberwood, and it is a hardwood timber species sourced from harvested rubber trees which have completed their latex producing cycle. Upon purchasing the desk many years ago, we repaired and resealed the timber surfaces. The desk is now better than new. On either side of the desk are matching solid oak sideboard cabinets, and I feel that the symmetry achieved in the arrangement lends a certain gravitas to my work. To ensure that I don’t become too serious, the dogs sleep behind me on a green couch which is their private domain. The dogs often fart and snore.

The fluffy collective enjoys a well earned rest after a hard day’s work around the farm

The software dramas at the late of the hour day however, were most distressing. After some time passed, the software spat out an error code. Turns out that I’d made a simple mistake which the system originally accepted, yet the same system then bizarrely rejected the correction despite using the exact same data in reverse. Then I was stuck in an absurd loop where I had to make further correcting changes and wait the five to ten minutes for the software at the other end to let me know whether the corrections were acceptable.

Ordinarily minor errors are very easy to correct – except I was dealing with a government department whose tentacles and maw, greedily demand the feeding of more and more data. And the tentacles have reached into every single business on the continent. Candidly, there is a lot of red tape and administrative hoops to jump through. Don’t believe the hype that things are easier for small businesses these days, because it isn’t true.

I recall the days when a business of 100 employees over several locations could prepare their accounts using paper based systems, if only because I’d worked at such a business. Although there is no legal requirement to prepare a businesses accounts using electronic software, I can’t see how a business nowadays could not use such software.

And so there I was that evening at 8pm, mucking around with software just trying to get it to work properly. The accounting side of the story was fine, the software, well that’s another dimension to my work. ‘So, this is what my life has come to’, was the actual thought going through my head that evening. There are times I so hate the added complexity and requirements thrown at the accounting profession, who are just expected to shut up and deal with it.

Wrestling with software seems to be a constant drama nowadays. Without going into details, I had a notable example of this paper-sport in action earlier in the year. A novel robot checking system was installed by a government department. I must say that it is a real pleasure having a robot check my work, especially when the robot changed my work and was wrong to do so. That mess took about two months to correct, and the eight hours I spent speaking with humans (possibly longer) at the government department only proved to me that they were as much at a loss as I was. When the error was eventually corrected there was no apology – and I couldn’t charge anyone for my time spent. I’m not a fan of robots, if only because I grew up watching robots behaving badly in films such as The Terminator and Robocop, just for two examples. Robots are meant to be our friends, but take it from me, they aren’t.

And with the health subject which dare not be named, a whole bunch of government support has been linked to these systems over the past months. Businesses and employees have to be caught up in these electronic systems in order gain access to financial support, otherwise the businesses get to enjoy the unsettling feeling of not being able to trade and also getting no support. A heady mix, that’s for sure. The cynic in me has left me wondering which came first: The government response to the health crisis; or the government systems to enact such a response. And I really just don’t know.

Feral herds of deer have long been established in the forest surrounding the farm. In the last couple of years, the deer have begun venturing onto the farm. Ollie the Bull Arab wonder dog has his job cut out for him as he chases the deer off and away from the farm. He does his job well, and he is fortunately a very large and scary looking dog, although at the same time he’s a real gentleman. The deer may believe things to be otherwise.

Ollie chased off a herd of deer again this week

The much smaller two sheep dogs: Plum and Ruby, spend most of their days hunting rabbits. The two dogs have been very effective at their jobs, but now the rabbits are just like the deer and they arrive at the farm via neighbouring properties.

Ruby is patiently alert for mischief whilst waiting near to the recently mowed grass

We’re getting all of the vegetable beds ready for the summer growing season. The old tomato enclosure is now used to grow pumpkins, squash and melons and the enclosure was completely weeded. The paths were covered with woody mulch supplied by the nice electricity company, and the two rows were fed with rich compost.

The old tomato enclosure is ready for pumpkins, squash and melons

In the garden terraces, peas and bean seedlings from the greenhouse were planted out. Steel climbing supports were made from scrap metal we had stored for such a purpose (actually they were stored for any suitable purpose that we could think of).

Peas and beans were planted out and steel climbing supports were made and added

A close up of the beans shows the steel reinforcing mesh which the vines can climb up.

Scrap reinforcing mesh was added for the beans to climb up onto

Several hours of rock collecting almost filled the steel rock gabion cage at the end of the terrace behind the new greenhouse.

The steel rock gabion cage behind the greenhouse is almost full

Late Spring Produce Update:

Raspberries are slowly forming. Most of the berries are used to make a very tasty jam
The first of the seasons Strawberries are slowly becoming ripe
Both the smaller Issai Kiwi Fruit and the larger Haywood Kiwi Fruit are producing flowers
Potatoes are going off like a frog in a sock. We need to add more compost to this raised bed

Onto the flowers:

The edible Nasturtium grows in many of the garden beds
Native Clematis vines also crawl through some of the garden beds
Bearded Irises. And they’re blue!
Escallonia has produced flowers this year
The many Roses have begun flowering
Geraniums form the backbone of many of the garden beds here
Plum looks on with delight at the Geraniums and also the Lavender hedge

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 13’C (56’F). So far this year there has been 1036.0mm (40.8 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1027.8mm (40.5 inches).

49 thoughts on “Catch-19”

  1. Hi Goran,

    Hehe! You can consider yourself now as having been officially told! 🙂 There is no such thing down here as: ‘free speech’, and the defamation laws are feral, so best not to poke sleeping dogs is my take on that particular monster. No worries at all anyway, the edit took but a few brief moments. Legal consequences, well they’d probably take many years and much angst so the few brief moments was hardly a hardship.

    It has been my fate to have worked with many engineers over the years, and by and large they are lovely and quite pragmatic individuals. And exactly, such people have to walk the dreaded plank between meeting improbable outcomes versus the economic realities as to what people are willing to pay for. You may have heard of a vehicle by the dread name of the now legendary Ford Pinto, and the predicaments that the engineering solutions in that particular case raised? That story is now part of the common public domain.

    A lot of people get all super worried about the future, however us post-progressives (and thanks for the natty description) just get on with the various tasks at hand. One step at a time is how I see things.

    I’m curious as to how you made peace with your past? There is definitely a story there. Hope you are doing well today. 🙂



  2. Hi Lewis,

    Brr! It was 86’F here today, and many thanks for passing on the warm weather batten as I much appreciated it today – as did the plants. Not saying that your weather is as cold as it gets here, but yeah, that sure is one cold overnight temperature. Chuck an extra blanket on the bed seems like good advice. 🙂 Definitely a three dog night. On a serious note, I don’t allow the dogs on the bed if and only because they would enjoy the experience, but the hair they shed could only lead to hayfever… And Ollie is blowing his winter coat at the moment, so dust bunnies are on the loose and out to make mischief.

    Hedgerows are such an awesome idea. Like Inge’s part of the world, down here most living fences are usually only a single species like Hawthorne or Elm. Dunno why that is as there really is enough UV from the summer sun for a diversity of species to thrive in close proximity, although I have a bad habit of planting plants close together – if only because that works to reduce water and heat stress during dry and hot summers (via shading of the soil). The garden beds here sort of work like a hedgerow and as such they harbour a diverse range of life forms.

    With the warmer weather today I’ve however had to water the newly planted out seedlings. Fearless gardening can only take a person so far, and um, seedlings need watering on a hot day – until they are established of course.

    I’d never really thought of software from that perspective before, but it is an alarming perspective. The computer operating system I use is Windows 7 and it works really well and is super fast. A few weeks ago I began to discover that certain software has abandoned that operating system. I’ll take a wait and see approach as I honestly have no desire to upgrade.

    I’m waiting to see the vehicle manufacturers tap into that ready market. Not sure really what it might take to get there, but I suspect eventually economic and resource pressures will push things in that direction. After all, when I was a kid my mum had a mini-moke, the Californian model, and that was a seriously basic vehicle which was cheap to run and reasonably reliable. It is like the old story about the Great Granddad riding a camel, and so shall the great grandkids. The in-between period might be a bit odd though.

    Yes, that wasn’t lost on me about the Brothers Grimm, they were just really heavy handed in their cheering for their religion. It’s possible that the heavy handed corrections to the original tales which could still be viewed underneath kind of grated on me a bit. Dunno, it is possibly a personal failing. And the fluffies would love being read too. They already enjoy the occasional song.

    Do you reckon the story of Noah’s Ark was a fable with a core lesson for folks to learn, or was it perhaps based on mis-remembered ancient stories such as the drowning of Atlantis? Or perhaps both?

    Nice auction win too, and I applaud your dedication to the cause. Incidentally how is wall space going at your place?

    Harvey Washington Wiley was clearly a polymath of extraordinary talent and vision. And thanks for the reference as I now know that glucose (honey, fruit and other plants) is different from sucrose (cane sugar), and also the sources of the two sugars. Recently tried growing cane sugar here, but the cold winters put an end to such experimentation. IT might get to sugar beets as they grow really well here. Oh mate, Harvey copped a caning from his detractors, thus possibly proving that being right, and being able to survive, are not one and the same things. What further amazed me was that your country produced 2751 Liberty cargo ships during WWII, one of which carried the good chemists name. Can you imagine the carry on such a demand for production would cause nowadays?

    The other thing which interested me was the Plant/Food Explorer David Fairchild had similar detractors at around about a similar time. There is an old saying about throwing enough mud and some of it will stick. I had some mud thrown at me recently, but I came out swinging punches and appear to have won the round – the fight is long though. Not happy about it, but that sometimes is the world we live in.

    Exactly, how does a person get extra hours in the day? Hey, I need my sleep too, so time cannot come from that ready source. We had a Prime Muppet who self-described as being on 24-7, but my gut feeling tells me that is a recipe for a burnout, which may have happened in that case. Nobody can keep up such a brutal personal regime.

    Looks like tomorrow will be another lovely spring day. Hope the seedlings don’t get hit too hard by the warm late spring sunshine.

    The military and police checkpoints have now been discontinued. I went to check the post office this morning, and I didn’t know most of the people there. I guess they arrived from elsewhere. Checked the mail, bought milk, and headed home without sampling the fruit toast. This is a lost baking opportunity, but I’m tough and can handle these things. Anyway, I had a massive amount of work to do and we finished again at around 8pm this evening. Far out. Done – something – bad – in – a past – life! 🙂



  3. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for that. Looking around this area, Hawthorne seems to be particularly favoured for the establishment of hedges. The thorns would be a serious drama for cattle or people to get through. Ah, I see Blackthorn – which is a species unknown to me – produces the sloes of which we have spoken of before. Interesting.

    The Blackthorn plant is established in the island state of Tasmania. Wow, yes a most useful plant for natural fencing.

    I recently spotted a thick hedge of Cytisus proliferus growing not too far north of here, and it looked great and I’m planning on utilising that plant in natural fencing, of which I have access to hundreds of seeds. The shrubs are currently producing seeds although they look like they need to ripen a bit still.

    Oh, and I spotted a small black cat near to the chicken enclosure last night. I can’t recall whether it was yours or Lewis’s suggestion to leave a small bowl of milk for the cat – who is clearly stalking field mice. Might go do that right now.



  4. Hello Chris,
    Here in Holland, where I currently live, there was a rich tradition of mixed-species hedgerows that has been decimated by the European Common Agricultural Policy. The acreage covered by brush does not count as agricultural land, so the quest for increasing cash flow became a force that the hedgerows could not resist. The barbed wire replacement does not exclude any square meters from subsidies.
    I expect the hedgerows to come back when things like EU and barbed wire fade out of memory.
    The hedgerow braiders cut off the saplings halfway through, and bent them sideways to have strong horizontal material to weave with. I think it is called pleaching in English.

    Regarding software, I usually use Linux, but there are occasional situations where the MS/Windows licenses are needed, and that is an administrative nightmare. If you find a linux that works for you, that would be grand.
    I am in general de-digitalizing my life, moving out of the cloud as much as I can.
    Since I visited Toyota Training Center in Nagoya a few years back, I value paper-based systems much more. One of the key advantages of paper over computers is that the users can use the rest of the paper, outside of the fill-in-boxes for clarification and additional information. Sometimes the whole backside of the paper form is available for creativity. And everyone who uses a paper form can quite simply modify/improve the form. That is very seldom the case in a programmed system.
    As the saying goes: The robots will not take your job. They will be your boss.

    Another time, I will recount my journey from multinational engineering manager to tree planter… It is a convoluted story full of self-delusion and near misses with ethical close encounters until I pulled out. However, there is no glorious end yet to the story. That will hopefully materialize further on. 😉

    Thanks for sharing your observation of yet another system constriction.

  5. Yo, Chris – So. If you drop your rubber wood desk, would it bounce? Inquiring minds want to know! 🙂 .

    No argument here, that computers eat up a lot of time, with no compensation. I will not forget the day it dawned on me, that keeping up with computers was like trying to hit a moving target. And, I don’t know how many people I have talked to, who bailed out of occupations they loved, just because they weren’t interested in trying to keep up with the technology, at the expense of the jobs they were hired to do, and loved. I remember one children’s librarian, who took an early retirement. Much to everyone’s surprise. I asked her, privately, what caused that. She said that she was quitting, as her job had very little to do with children, or books, or programs anymore. It had become a job of spending too much time wrangling with computers.

    Deer must be very dumb. Or, have very short memories. You think it would sink in, that Ollie will always be vigilant. Speaking of dogs, the current administration is the first, since James Polk (1845), to have no pets in the White House. And, there has been a steady stream of dogs, at least back to Teddy Roosevelt (1901-1909.)

    But dogs are coming back, to the White House …

    Somehow, I find that news very cheering.

    Your garden beds look very good. And the rock gabions are so useful and great looking. Your berries are looking very promising. Fingers crossed that they make it through the season, and that you get many bottles of jam. I think I mentioned that Eleanor’s daughter gave me a jar of pumpkin butter. You might try experimenting, a bit, for those years when the berries are nil, and pumpkins are abundant.

    The potatoes. Are you often given to stuffing frogs in socks? Is it an Australian thing? 🙂 . Kind of a pastime?

    The Nasturtiums are quit striking. We have quit a few, around the Institution. They seem to reseed themselves, quit freely. Sometimes, aphids are a problem, but, that seems to yield bumper crops of lady bugs. Always welcome in the garden.

    Ohhhh! The Iris is quit beautiful. I got an e-mail from the nursery that my blue iris selection is (finally) in route. I hope they will be as advertised, and not moldy, when they arrive. I’ve got to stop using that nursery. They disappoint, more often than not.

    The roses are off to a good start. They should be pretty spectacular, in the near future. But to your missive …

  6. Yo, Chris (again) – It was 27F (-2.77C), again, last night. But, the rain and warmer temperatures are coming back, today.

    Just an odd guess, but I bet the more variety of plants you have in a hedgerow, the more variety of small animals, insects and birds you will have. Of course, they provide perfect cover for rabbits! 🙂 .

    Software and operating system orphans. The dreaded “software no longer supports.” Even though, every time I open my browser, I get the message that my operating system doesn’t support it, it still perks along. And, three or four times a day, I get a pop-up that tells me my graphics program needs to be updated … which I can’t do, as it no longer recognizes my old operating system. But (knock on wood) two years on, everything seems to perk along. Oh, I’ve lost a few graphics (mostly ads) and a news website or two doesn’t show pictures, anymore. But they’re not what I would consider the important ones.

    We need another “people’s car.” And, sooner or later, I’m sure one will appear.

    I was unaware of the religious aspects of the Brothers Grimm. But then, I don’t think I’ve ever read the tales, in the original. Oh, somehow or another, I’ve picked up most of the tales. But not in a Disney-fied form, but a retelling of, which probably ignored the religious thumping.

    Seems like a lot of cultures had a “great flood” story. There’s some speculation that it’s a memory of the prehistoric flooding of the Med

    But more likely the Black Sea Flooding …

    The Thera eruption was a lot later. By the way, there’s been some recent tree ring analysis, that may have nailed down the date a bit firmer.

    Also a great map of the excavations, so far.

    LOL. Everyone worries about my wall space. In a single word … rotation.

    Yes, the statistics for the number of ships and planes we cranked out, during WWII, are pretty awesome. The Brits also turned out a tremendous number of planes.

    Well, thanks to Good Housekeeping Magazine, Wiley really landed on his feet. He could continue his work, ferreting out poor food, and also had a platform for his articles. The “Good Housekeeping Stamp of Approval” still carries some weight.

    Wiley and Fairchild. Some of the push back was just plain old envy. And, other times the push back was due to politicians being paid off by manufacturers. As it was, so it shall be …

    I made banana / oatmeal muffins, last night, using that bag of nut flour. Hmmm. Tasty, but “didn’t do right.” I followed the recipe on the package, but didn’t get a good rise. And, no, my baking powder wasn’t old. Baking time was 15-20 minutes. Even at 40 minutes, the interior was still a bit gummy. Oh, well. I’ll probably never be gifted with another bag of nut flour, again.

    Ohhh! I saw what you mentioned to Inge. Maybe, a Moogie around the farm. I hope the fluffies make space for her (or him) or, that she at least moves fast. Milk or something fishy? Has the ghost dog made any more appearances?

    I finished watching the series about sci-fi, last night. Really interesting. The episodes were divided into topics. Time Travel, AI, Outer Space, Aliens, etc. etc.. Lots of film clips from films and TV. Interviews with writers, actors, directors, and academics and bloggers with interests in Sci-Fi. Lew

  7. Hi Lewis,

    Boing! Boing! That’s the sound of the rubberwood desk bouncing along the good ship ‘accountant’ whilst on a rocky boat at ‘sea’. A bouncy desk might be handy in an earthquake. You never know. Close up, the grain in rubberwood is really interesting and full of detail and various shades of yellows and overall it has a nice light honey colour.

    It’s warm here tonight at 72’F which looks set to hold steady for most of the night. Warm air is pushing down from the tropical and arid north and tomorrow night looks set to bring a storm along with cooler weather.

    The police and military checkpoints have ceased trading for business as of midnight last Sunday night, so I’m free to come and go, although masks are still compulsory at all times outside the house. Makes for hot wearing. Had a souvlaki for dinner this evening as we ventured into the big smoke.

    The official line is to work at home if possible which isn’t always possible, but there is middle ground there which employers probably aren’t happy with. I’ve always suspected that there is an element of ownership from employers to employees. I guess you can take the folks out of the Feudal era, but sometimes ya can’t take the Feudal era out of the folks – which is why it is the model which civilisations that fail often revert back to.

    Had to purchase a new printer for work today. Turns out that there are now ink jet printers with little tanks for ink and all you have to do is refill the ink tank when it gets low. Sounds like far less waste to my mind – and there are significant cost savings to be had, although like everything else of such technologies, they’re usually more expensive up front. There’s something in that.

    Hey, when I first began working computers were a thing you barely used, but now I find myself having to work using them about maybe 85% of the time. It is quite astounding really. But when they go wrong, oh my your librarian friend has the right of it: Wrangling. Yup, I’m now imagining the theme to Rawhide, but slightly modified: Rolling, rolling, rolling, keep them printer rolling, Rawtech! 🙂

    Yes, dogs would lend a certain gravitas to the oval office. Dogs after all can be very sensible creatures. It’s yet possible that the dogs might not step foot in that prestigious office. What do they say about opera’s, in that it ain’t over till the fat lady sings? Edward Robert Hughes painted a smashing Valkyrie, such an excellent eye and a deft hand.

    It is possible that deer are dumb because they have a rather large body with a very small head, so anything is possible. On the other hand, deer operate as a collective and I had the good fortune to once see a small herd of deer come to a sudden stop and the instruction to stop flowed through the herd like a beautiful ripple in a pond – or like a doppler wave. Very nice. Us humans aren’t that exact in the gentle art of co-operation and sometimes the outcomes can be very odd indeed.

    We’re already planning the next rock cage gabion project. Over the next year we have to do some excavations and soil relocation and so we will unearth a number of rocks. Although Peak Rocks is a real thing. Thanks for the suggestion regarding the pumpkin butter. Pumpkins are extraordinarily reliable fruits and that is an idea that never would have occurred to me.

    Hehe! So busted. The frog-sock thing is very much an Australianism. It paints a certain picture does it not? And the frog/s are probably not happy at the unfortunate turn of events for them. Now, after extensive and in-depth I dunno I’m making it up a bit as I go along, but mate I spent ages (a couple of minutes) trawling through websites to find you some great Aussie sayings with the accompanying explanations in the Queen’s English, because candidly some of the sayings are actually entirely incomprehensible to other cultures. Here goes: The 10 Most Aussie Sayings Ever. The Barry Crocker saying is a bit dated now, but back in the day it used to be heard. The explanations are very funny and kudos to the good person who put the short list together. Consider it a best of.

    The entire nasturtium plant is edible I believe, and some people substitute the seeds for capers in cooking. I could actually grow capers here, I just don’t like the taste of them. But nasturtium is a very hardy and reliable plant which happily self seeds – makes us all look like we know what we are doing. 😉

    🙂 Glad you enjoyed my note to you in relation to the irises. They’re striking aren’t they?

    The roses are coasting along nicely, and the collection seems to be expanding.

    My gut feeling suggests that hedgerows might possibly work as well as to how the increased plant life diversity on the farm attracting more wildlife. Certainly small birds enjoy dense shrubs and densely planted garden beds and I have a number of varieties of small birds living on the farm. They do a lot of hard yards with the insects. But yeah, with benefits come costs.

    Respect for extending the life of your computer. Sometimes so much good technology gets thrown out in society just because it ain’t the latest and greatest. I keep them all working along until they die. My heavily modified work laptop is now a dozen years old and it runs just fine. Getting rid of the ads is a blessing and I recently stumped some cash for such a service.

    Yes, I agree, economics and energy and resource depletion will produce such an outcome of a peoples car.

    It’s possible the edition I have of the Brothers Grimm tales has probably been latter modified to remove some of the bible thumping. If they could just tone it down a bit. Some of the language was discordant and it detracts from the story.

    Zanclean megaflood! Far out, you wouldn’t want to have been anywhere near there that day… Although admittedly it did seem rather a long time ago. The Black Sea deluge hypothesis brings out the folks both for and against – but it would have been awesome to see from a safe and respectable distance. And it is impressive that the Minoan’s could apparently read the signs and evacuate before the monster volcano went off. Life afterwards would have been very tough and possibly also hungry for the survivors.

    Rotation! You wall space is safe, for now. Hehe!

    Yup that is probably likely with the detractors of Wiley and Fairchild. I guess they diluted the benefits which some thought to keep themselves. We should be very worried at the lack of genetic diversity in the major food crops grown.

    It’s worth the experimentation with the nut flour. We ran out of peanuts and so made a batch of Anzac biscuits without them, and they were a bit sweet for my taste.

    Haven’t seen the ghost dog for a while. It is possible that the ghost dog was attracted to Ruby and Plum but had to deal with Ollie. But dunno about that one. The ghost cat is interesting, and I left milk out for the past two nights and the cat hasn’t consumed any. It was a very small cat and I wondered if someone had dumped a kitten on the road.

    The sci-fi documentary sounds fun. What was it called again? Might have to chuck it on the ‘to-see’ list.



  8. Hi Goran,

    Ah, I read about hedgerows in your part of the world a few nights ago by sheer chance. By all accounts the original hedgerows were part of the landscape in something known locally as a Bocage (although that may be the French word) landscape, and by all accounts were generally mixed species. Unfortunately the Allies during WWII after the D-Day landings had troubles traversing the hedgerows, but where there is a will, there is often a way, unfortunately for the plants.

    Ouch. Yes barbed wire fences are not attractive constructions and they generally inhibit the movement of wildlife across the landscape. Wildlife after all consume random chunks of the landscape and then do their scat business in random spots (more or less) and as such they work towards spreading fertility. Most people are aghast that the local wildlife gets to roam around the three orchards here. I do have to cage young fruit trees until they are about 2.1m tall. It’s the pesky wallabies…

    Just by way of comparison, there are no farm subsidies down here, and farming is a fraught economic activity. In droughts the various governments offer loans to farmers who generally eschew them.

    Wow, that’s some specialised work with the hedgerows and I encountered the concept years ago in a UK River Cottage episode in a very old example of a hedgerow which required maintenance. Don’t you reckon plants cope far better with pruning than people imagine them too? I’ve long suspected that it has something to do with the browsing pressures which wildlife place on trees and is just an evolutionary adaption.

    Respect for reducing your screen time. 🙂 A worthy task, and best to get ahead of the curve. There are very few websites that I visit, and even fewer that I comment on. Just outside the doors and windows is this thing called: Life. 😉

    Mate, I’m never going to look at a paper form the same way again. Thanks for sharing your perspective. Yeah, it does allow for a gradual refinement of the process. Hmm.

    I’m deeply suspicious of robots (and oh yeah I hear you about the boss thing) and always wonder if AI might have other plans in store for us, that don’t involve us at all!

    Ah, life is a journey and I look forward to reading the account of yours. On that note, the only thing I’m certain of is that people have little knowledge of these areas in a low tech setting. Years ago I read that Beech trees were processed in a way that provided edible flour during times of need, and who knew that?

    Yup, crazy days down here with the software wrangling. Makes dealing with a herd of deer easy as. 🙂



  9. Hello Chris
    The blue of those irises is absolutely stunning.
    My hedges were laid horizontally years ago by a friend who likes doing hedging work. Problem is that it needs re-doing now. Blackthorn is great both because of the sloes and the vicious thorns.
    Hazel and bramble infiltrate all the hedges.

    Shopping in lockdown yesterday was interesting. It bore no relation to the previous lockdown. Masses of traffic but fewer people out on the pavements. The population here is clearly fed up and less frightened.

    Son finally came to see what he could do about my failed washing machine. No luck. He said that I needed to get an appropriate engineer out. Later in the day I get cross about the whole thing because it wasn’t making any sense. I ploughed through the instructions again and they were no help at all. I started from scratch with the machine, one bit at a time. I do dislike being defeated. Unbelievably I succeeded and the machine is now working better than it ever did ( I did buy it second hand from a neighbour). A small coin finally emerged, the source of the trouble!


  10. @ Goran – You might be interested in a book called “Shop Craft as Soul Craft.” (Crawford, 2009). Published in Britain as “The Case for Working with Your Hands.”

    Mathews got his Phd. in Political Philosophy and went to work for a Washington, D.C., think tank. Decided that wasn’t for him and went off and became a motorcycle mechanic. Lew

  11. Yo, Chris – As forecast, it was 10 degrees F, warmer last night. But, of course, the weather is filthy. But, we may have a bit of clearing, tomorrow. Which is, by the way, a national holiday. Our Veteran’s Day. My iris selection arrived, yesterday. There may be a bit of clearing, tomorrow.

    I so glad Melbourne is kind of open again, and you can get good tucker and wander about. I’m sure “work at home” makes a lot of employers nervous. Ye gods, an employee might waste 5 minutes or not wear the company uniform! They might only be mouthing the company anthem! 🙂 .

    Congrats on the new printer. Let us all know how it works out. My printer / scanner is as old as my computer. It also perks along. Other than that 5 month vacation it took, when I moved it into the last place I lived. Guess it needed to settle in.

    Yup. There’s many a slip between the cup and the lip. There’s still the hurdle of our Electoral College. Which meets on the first Monday after the second Wednesday, in December. Who comes up with this stuff? There’s always the possibility of “faithless electors.”

    Deer in groups, fish in schools, birds in flocks. Those sudden shifts in large population movement, are always a visual delight.

    Idioms are always fun. So. Did Betty Crocker’s grandson, run off to Australia and become a crooner? 🙂 .

    I do hope the Minoans that evacuated Thera didn’t just sit off the coast in their boats. One would have to reach the mainland … and climb a high hill, just to be safe.

    The documentary is “James Cameron’s Story of Science Fiction.” By the way, Keno Reeves is in there, talking about the first “Bill and Ted” film.

    I started watching a mystery series, last night, called “Hinterlands.” A police / detective series filmed in Wales. I watched some of the “extras” and they were talking about how they film a scene in English, and then do it again in Welsh. To be shown on Welsh television. I just watched the first episode, and it was very good. I thought. It reminded me, that back in the day, Hollywood filmed films in English by day, and in Spanish by night. For the Spanish market. Used all the same sets and costumes, but with entirely different crews and actors. “Dracula” was one. Instead of Bela Lagosi, they had a very popular Mexican actor, play the part. Lew

  12. Hi Inge,

    The bearded Irises are such a beautiful and reliable flower. It is a pleasure to share the many flowers here with you.

    Oh my, the rain outside right now is torrential. I better go and check the water tank inlet filters…

    There was a bit of gunk in the inlet filters, but nothing too bad. Almost two thirds of an inch of rain has fallen so far today.

    I see that your island has its own unique style of producing hedgerows: Hedgelaying. If I was to produce a hedgerow, the description sounds exactly like how I’d do the job. Less polite people may suggest that the results won’t win a prize, but they sure do work well.

    Wow, the thunder Gods are having some fun out there right now…

    Blackberry grows all over the place down here too. It is one of those things that I’m at a loss to understand – why few if anyone picks the tasty berries. I just don’t get it.

    Well, by way of comparison, when we were in the big smoke of Melbourne last evening, we grabbed some food – a very tasty charcoal cooked lamb souvlaki (spare a thought for the bloke who had to work next to the spit on a hot day wearing a mask). Anyway, the former tourist precinct was quiet – very quiet. A few restaurants were open for business, but the patrons were mostly young folks from around the area. I noticed a gelati place (an Italian frozen dessert) had a queue, but elsewhere.

    Top work with the washing machine. 🙂 The editor used to have a desk ornament which always suggested that a person should read the manual – although that job is usually mine and mine alone. Can you believe we wasted another two hours this evening on a software issue – which we couldn’t resolve? The error codes were written by programmers who probably I’d have to suggest have a very poor grasp of the Queen’s English. Indecipherable would be a good way to describe the computers output. Let’s just say that the job was urgent and tensions were high. Hmm.

    Hehe! I’ll bet you wondered where that coin had gotten to? We discovered a screwdriver bit in the washing machine last week. If only the machines could talk, the tales they would tell.



  13. Hi Lewis,

    Oh no! This morning at 11am it was Remembrance Day to mark to the end of hostilities of the First World War on that date in 1918. When I was a young lad, one minutes silence at 11am was observed annually, but most folks nowadays probably don’t give it a second thought. A cheeky wag once remarked – and I forget who it was – that those who fail to learn history, end up repeating it.

    You’ve changed the title of Armistice Day to a more all-encompassing day known now as Veteran’s Day. We have ANZAC day on the 25th of April for that purpose. I have rather fond memories as a young kid of my granddad who fought in WWII. He used to take me to the dawn service at the Shrine of Remembrance, and then – and here you may disapprove – but he and his WWII mates used to get sozzled drunk afterwards on a heady cocktail of milk and whiskey. An odd choice of tipple from my perspective, but I was always certain that they had their reasons. When he drove me home afterwards, he spent most of the drive home – in a locally manufactured vehicle – daring the cops to pull him over. I had a vague feeling that such a thing would have ended badly – and not for him. They never did either, and he was a wild one, that’s for sure. He once told me that he was involved in the bombing of Dresden, before he then clammed up at my utter ignorance of the matter. It is a shame we don’t teach history as it was in all its grubbiness.

    Hopefully your bulb suppliers provided you with Blue Irises? Bulb suppliers only operate for certain periods of the year, and we used to have a nearby Daffodil farm – although he sold all manner of bulbs out of a fairly large and well stocked shed. He was a good bloke, and every year we’d trundle down and partake of the bulb selection. He hasn’t been open for a few years now, but it was good whilst it lasted.

    Actually, the local plant nursery was bought out and taken over by some much younger folks – and wow have they breathed some new life into the place. The business is positively jumping. It is nice to see people taking up gardening – as we are what we eat, and I’m stuffed if I know what a twinkie is… They made a memorable splash and gave a touch of colour to the Zombieland films.

    Well, that’s the thing, employers want people where they can see them. I get paid usually based on output, but it has been a long long journey to get to such a place. Nobody wants a working age male to work the sort of arrangements that I do, and it has been a long struggle. Way back long ago, I learned the hard way that part-time work opportunities in my field of endeavour was primarily reserved for females. That was quite an eye opener for me. But here is the joke, the part time ladies often come under significant pressure to work longer hours. It doesn’t work, otherwise they’d be working full time hours in the first place.

    Used the new printer today, and was most impressed. It really is one of those: why wasn’t this available earlier, idea? I can look at the ink tanks and see how much ink is left in them. Computer printers are usually so extraordinarily wasteful that it astounds me. Before printers and photocopiers became so ubiquitous, very little if any paper was wasted in offices – I know, because I saw the difference.

    Had another software drama tonight, so didn’t finish until well past 8pm, and the help screens were not good, but the error code was written in such a way that your average code breaker wouldn’t be able to comprehend the meaning of the text. I’ll have to call the software provider up tomorrow. What a waste of a couple of hours for something that should be fairly basic.

    That’s politics for ya. I’ve read a fair bit of the history of the forming of our nation down here from all of the various colonial powers and territories way back in the day. The question raised by the Altantic should be: Whyever would Wyoming sign up to arrangement where the Californians take a big dump on their collective voices? The individual states down here have an equal number of senators so as to ensure that states rights don’t get trodden on. It’s a fair concern for the needs of New Yorkers, might not be the same as the needs of folks in Wyoming. That is only sensible.

    Honestly, I’ve heard talk about popular votes and first past the post counting systems, but the thing is, theoretically you could have a candidate win a first past the post vote, and they might only have attracted a third of the votes. That is hardly a representative system. Our system down here using a preferential vote counting method tends to produce a result we more or less deserve. And it is worth noting that the outcomes for electorates and states can hardly be counted on as people have become alert to the simple fact that swinging voters who have little alliegance tend to get more stuff.

    Oh, he’s a crooner alright that bloke – and also an actor and all round personality. Some of the films produced in the early 70’s were very risque! The plot for Don’s Party is an intriguing peek into the times. Very amusing too, I note that the lady who replaced the original Betty Crocker, is reputed to have had dubious skills in the kitchen. Of course, the success earned proves that this is not a necessary pre-requisite for the job.

    That’s an eerie thought about the Minoan’s, but yes if they were stuck not too far off shore, things would have ended badly for them – and at least the poor souls of Pompeii left – dare I say it – an impression. Apparently no bodies have been found at the Minoan site.

    Thank you for the title of the documentary (he says noting it down). Bill and Ted films are a fun romp, and yeah, sometimes sci-fi can take itself too seriously. Like where is a Tribble when you need one? I haven’t watched many of the recent Star Bores installments, but apparently the baby yodi caused quite the sensation.

    I’d never heard of such a thing happening with film production. I’d imagine that the script would also get re-written so as to allow for cultural references and also it is not lost on me that language often doesn’t translate well from one language to another. So I assume the scripts would have been re-written as well. It is a lovely idea along the lines of waste not – want not. Production sets, are not cheap.

    Had almost two thirds of an inch of rain today. But strangely outside is also relative warm at about 60’F and very humid.



  14. Hi, Chris!

    Catch-19 – perfect.

    Your profession is indispensable to the function of business, it doesn’t matter if it’s old tech or new, so try not to worry. Jumping through the modern tech hoops must be agonizing. Phooey on software changes.

    There not much room left on that green couch. I am afraid that you are going to have to upgrade to a larger one to keep things peaceful. Or there is always a beanbag . . .

    That’s a great action shot of Ollie and the deer. Have you printed out, or put your photos on a flash drive and taken them to a shop to be professionally printed? I did this with some photos. Someday they may disappear into the etherworld. Even having them on flash drives makes me nervous. After all, I am one who still listens to cassette tapes on her old cassette player. Where did that technology go? Behind the green couch!

    Speaking of printing, we refill the ink cartridges of our printer. This is done by ordering large bottles of cheap ink online and using a syringe and needle to fill. It is time consuming and messy, and the color quality is darn bad – it was never that good with our cheap printer anyway. There is no way that I can afford to buy new ink cartridges. Oh – buy less orchard trees, you say – naughty you! I do love the idea of your new printer.

    We have three osage orange trees left from our original ones grown from seed a few years ago. I originally started them to use in hedgerows as people used to do here – they have thorns – but they got set out in their pots and neglected and have set down roots through the pots and may not be able to be moved now. I have to keep them trimmed back anyway so that they will not get too big and shade things. I am afraid to move them in case they have set down tap roots. Every time I try to move something with a tap root – even very small oaks – it dies.

    Our last – and final – cat, Tommyrot, was a ghost cat. He hung around in the woods around our house for three months in the dead of winter as a kitten. I left food out for him, but could never be sure that it was he that ate it. We figured that he had been born on one of the farms near us and something had happened to his mother. Finally in the spring he walked out of our barn one day and said “Hello, I am moving in.”, just like that, no-one had ever gotten close to him before. And he did, and he was a BAD cat; I loved him dearly.

    I don’t know if you use the term “yellow journalism” over there. Here is where it got its start:

    I have been digging up some potatoes that I missed finding in the summer; they’re fine.

    Your roses never quit blooming, I think. The irises are unbelievable. You may have started a run on blue irises.


  15. @ Inge:

    How on earth did you fix your own washing machine? Especially as I seem to remember it is like mine, a high tech type of machine, known here as “Moriarty”.


  16. Hi Chris,
    Was about to comment yesterday when a pretty intense thunderstorm came through and knocked out the power but just for a bit. This heralded the much colder temps today after a week in the low 70’s. I took advantage of the fine weather to finish up my outside work (though there’s always more I could do) and took a six mile hike with my daughter last Thursday and another hike with daughter and granddaughters on Monday.

    I thought I’d pass on Doug’s dental tale of woe lest you think you are alone. Over 50 years ago when he was a reckless teen he knocked out his two front bottom teeth in a car accident. He’s had false teeth all these years but all of a sudden he’s having major issues and in fact no longer has bone there so he’ll be starting quite a process next week getting the teeth extracted, a possible bone graft and a decision to be made regarding what to do next and none of the options are cheap to be sure. This will all take some time.

    I am glad your restrictions are lessening while ours are ramping up again. They won’t be as extreme no matter how bad things get. Many restaurants are ignoring the orders to close indoor dining and are just paying the fines which I guess aren’t that high – yet.

    I’m glad I don’t have to deal with computers for work anymore. Your software problems sound like a nightmare. I think a fair amount of older teachers retired early due to having to teach remotely and deal with new technology. After I retired I did some subbing for a bit and generally took assignments at the preschool which was one age group I hadn’t worked with during my teaching career. I did this as the preschool students had practically no technology and all the other schools kept adding more and more unfamilier programs. The last thing you want to do as a sub is have students walk in and realize you, the sub, doesn’t know what they’re doing.

    On a sad note one of my cousins passed away suddenly at age 57. She had been in the hospital a few months ago with severe gastrointestinal complaints, had improved and gone back to work though she still had to take days off as the issues were never resolved. Anyway it appears that the major grocery store where she worked fired her a few weeks ago due to a minor incident with another employee. Sounded like they wanted an excuse. She loses her insurance and was sick again but didn’t go to either the doctor or hospital due to lack of insurance. She was just getting by as it was. I wasn’t real close to her as she lived in California for many years, returning a few years ago. I am close to all her other siblings who have always lived in the area.

    The fluffy collective look very content on their couch. I did have to show Doug that picture though in retrospect I hope he doesn’t start thinking of a couch for Leo and Salve. They already have two beds each and he covers them when it’s cold.

    Anyway hope those software problems go away quick.


  17. Yo, Chris – Yup. A short trip down the rabbit hole indicates that Veterans Day used to be called Armistice Day, and was all about the end of WWI. Now it’s “For anyone who served, living or dead, in peace time or war.”

    Well, I don’t make a habit of disapproving of other people’s drinking habits. Not my look-out. You know, you could probably poke round in your granddads service record. Might even be online.

    Well, Twinkies APPEAR to be a sponge cake, stuffed with cream filling, in the shape of a small loaf. But none of the ingredients are found in nature 🙂 .

    I’m so sorry about the ongoing software dramas. I do love the help screens, that are no help. You put a simple question to them, and … nada. It always made me feel rather special. Apparently, I’m the only one in the history of the world that ever had that question. Or, at least in the history of computers. 🙂 . Apparently, I’m the only one who ever asked, “How do I resize a picture.” Actually, I’m finding that computer questions are best put to a search engine. Turns out I’m not as special as I thought, and lots of people have had the same problems. Maybe you could bill the software company, for your lost time? Laughable, I know, but I hope someone does. They won’t win, but the show would be fun to watch, and, maybe, a dialogue would be started?

    By the way, I’d like to report a broken link 🙂 . “Don’s Party” didn’t want to load. It tried. And tried. Then, everything slowed down, and, finally, my computer threw in the towel, and told me I was no longer connected to the internet. A diversionary tactic, as the “You are connected to the internet” icon, was lit up like a Christmas tree. Cleaned out the caches and histories, but, as often happens, no joy. Clearly, something was still running in the background. But, no fear. I just shut the whole darned thing down, and start over. Wipe the slate clean. That works. Be in receipt of my bill for time spent 🙂 .

    Well, when Wyoming and California became states, the arrangements were already in place. The fix was in. It would take a Constitutional Convention to change things. And, nobody really wants to go there. You call it for one thing, and a whole can of worms gets opened. Next thing you know, someone wants masks to be declared unconstitutional, and written into the founding documents. The way things are now, sometimes things, as written, work for one party, sometimes, the other. And then they reverse. About the only time the Electoral College is brought up, is when the popular vote is more than the Electoral vote. Which happened in 2016.

    I tend to ignore some parts of popular culture, but the idea of baby Yoda has penetrated. I gather it will launch a thousand licensed products.

    Prof. Mass is talking about the possibility of a big storm, on Friday night. A bit far out to predict, but, he’s at least mentioned the possibility. Lew

  18. @ Pam
    The washing machine was insisting that it was working okay hence my puzzlement. I started by checking every inlet and outlet. All okay. Most settings wouldn’t start. Then, for some unknown reason, I put it on rinse. This gave me a terrifying shock because it is a machine that uses minimum water which doesn’t rise above the door seal. With no washing in there, the water rose well above the seal and I thought ‘Now I am in serious trouble if it behaves as before and won’t eject the water’. It looked bad as it churned for ever but finally the water was ejected. Hurrah! I checked all the outlet places again and there in the fluff collector was the coin. I can only assume that the larger rush of water managed to eject it.
    There is a further mystery; the coin is one that ceased to be legal tender in 1984. The machine is way younger than that. I am claiming that it must have come in with the water supply but Son jeered at the suggestion.


  19. @ Margaret:

    My best wishes to Doug for his dental work. That sounds like rough stuff. My father just had some work done: it went really well. The expense was terrible, but he really likes his dentist.

    I am so sorry to hear about your cousin. I know of other cases where health insurance was lost and so no help was gotten and the person died.


  20. @ Inge:

    Considering the things that fall out of my family members’ pockets – they are suppose to check through them before turning clothes in to be washed – I would suspect that you washed somebody’s clothes that had that coin in a pocket.

    I think we have the same sort of machine. The overfilling episode is scary as once my lovely old machine before this one had a serious leak while I left it going when I was away from home from the day. When I got back water was everywhere on our wood floors and had leaked into the basement from above, also. Those floors were warped for awhile, but amazingly they eventually settled back into a level state on their own.


  21. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Shucks, I was trying to work as many meanings into the title of the blog as I possibly could. The book Catch-22 was chock full of the atmosphere of apparently logical irrationality. There’s a bit of that going around these days, so why not add to the mess? Hehe!

    The profession sure has been around for a while counting the Emperor’s beans and all that so I’m not worried for the future, but yeah. I tell ya, I’ve long had an ongoing bet with the Editor which I seem to have lost. We specialise in different areas of the profession and I am more for the hands on side of the business with businesses and the Editor is more of the tax and legal side of things. We cover most bases, but my side of the business has been hit harder than her side, and this I had not expected for the future. Oh well, it happens.

    Plum does not hesitate in draping herself over the gentlemanly Ollie. So here’s what happens at night: the two girls sleep on the couch whilst Ollie has a large and comfortable sleeping mat on the floor. The sleeping mat has a sheepskin draped over it, so Ollie probably smells of sheep, and thus Plum’s love for him. Ruby loves her Ollie too, but there are times when Ruby is gnawing on Ollie’s ears, like he’s a giant chew toy. Tis not right, but anyway the girls are the boss.

    I backup all of the photos, but recorded images are ephemeral even when printed out and only have meaning to those in the know. So, I’m not too worried, life is kind of like that, and it is a pleasure to share this place with lovely people such as yourself and the other people who drop by regularly to say hello. 🙂

    Cassette tapes – yes, wired for sound! I was quite partial to the vinyl album, which I note is making a comeback.

    Never tried to refill a print cartridge although I have purchased generic brand ink cartridges for the other very old colour ink jet printer we have which seems to be lasting the distance. Most of the printing we do is on a high speed laser printer, and I am dubious about its lifespan – plus the consumables are bonkers expensive. The new ink jet printer with the ink tanks seems a bit like black magic to me. And also something that should have been introduced years ago. Perhaps another word for the technology is – adaption?

    Haha! One can always grow their own orchard trees, and bud graft them once you sort out the root stock issue. My grandmother on my dads side used to have a lemon tree which was so huge you could climb in it as a kid. A truly epic sized citrus. Most of the trees grown these days have dwarfing rootstocks and as such they aren’t as tough as what used to be grown.

    Yes, your osage orange trees are known to me for that purpose – although I can’t say whether they are grown down under. Might have to look into that. Hmm. Oh, I imagine that your feral pot plants could possibly end up looking like the two huge olive trees I have growing in the courtyard behind the house where each tree has its own small rock wall?

    A lovely name for a cat, and I would have been pleased to have made his acquaintance. Also don’t you reckon his name evokes a Stephen King story? 😉

    Thanks for mentioning the yellow journalism. Never knew about that at all. And the name of Pulitzer was mentioned. Very interesting. I heard a scientist once describe such news as: ‘if it bleeds, it leads’. Hmm.

    I could dig up potatoes all year around. I can see why the plant was the centre of mischief a long while back. I would soon tire of a diet centered around that particular plant.

    The roses will get better too as the weather warms. Hehe! Glad you enjoyed my nod to Lewis with the Blue Irises, and they really are a beautiful flower.



  22. Hi Margaret,

    The weather Gods were making huge thumping and crashing sounds in the sky, both here and at your place. Almost an inch of rain fell here, and it is always gratefully received. Glad to hear that the power wasn’t knocked out for too long. And I do hope that you keep a stock of fuel on hand for such emergencies? I envy you with your long hikes and glad that you and your family enjoyed them. There is a hike of a similar distance that I sometimes take Ollie on, but I traverses through a few swampy areas and I’m candidly uncomfortable about the snake risk due to swamps and frogs etc. and um snakes eating frogs. But the awful truth is that the most excellent bakery at the conclusion of the walk is take away only and I haven’t quite gotten my head around consuming a BLT take away style. Somehow it seems a bit uncivilised don’t you reckon?

    Oh my! Wow! What a story, and hope Doug is feeling OK about it? To be honest I was a bit distraught due to the unexpected nature of the tooth issue, but Doug is doing it way tougher, and my thoughts are with him. No, none of this stuff is cheap. For your interest, this is the second such tale of a loss of jaw bone density this week. Seriously hope he is OK.

    Thanks, and with the easing of restrictions we went into the big smoke today to the fresh food market in order to stock up on grains – including peanuts – as we’d completely run out. The grain dudes were happy to see us again as their business was restricted to customers within 5km / 3 miles of the market and they candidly told me that they’d lost a lot of customers despite being unable to close their businesses doors.

    It was an epic admin day, and I fell asleep earlier this evening, and it was Ruby who woke me up to remind me that I had almost forgotten to reply. Well that’s what she said anyway. Personally I think she just needed to go outside to the toilet, but whatever the case may be, she and Plum are now sound asleep on the green couch behind me. Also bought a new spare wheelbarrow – such an elegant technology. Plus went to the tip to drop off the recycled steel which I hadn’t been able to drop off before. And blow me down, but the tip shop was open when the website said it wasn’t. The interweb is not to be trusted. I suspect businesses down here don’t really keep their websites that up to date. Actually a lot of them use faceplant which I don’t use. Oh well.

    Actually we got hit by software issues again last night. Two hours we mucked around trying to get the thing to work. Tensions were high, yes. We contacted the software supplier this morning only to find that the text NA (for Not Applicable) had to be entered into a field… Hmm, a bit too finicky for my liking, but this is the world I now inhabit.

    Hehe! A mate of mine used to work as a teacher with computers, and thanks for the story, I’ll have to ask him about how that worked for him!!! Funny stuff. Imagine being outwitted by an eight year old! Far out.

    Oh, so sorry to hear about the loss of your cousin. May she rest in peace. Candidly, your health system kind of scares me. My mate who died recently had most of his appointments cancelled due to the health subject which dares not be named, and whilst he didn’t die directly from that thing, well it’s a bit chicken and egg really. What do you do?

    Surely Leo and Salve deserve their own couch? Looking into my crystal ball, I see a puppy in their future. Plum worships Ollie. Think of how comfortable the trio would be?



  23. Hi Lewis,

    I spotted an article that suggested that the marsupial wallabies have established themselves in the UK. There is a school of thought which suggests that this is perhaps a reciprocal arrangement involving very large deer.

    Hey, the tree dudes turned up this morning to do some work. They cut up a huge pile of old logs which had been lying around for over a decade, and wow did they work hard or what. I kept their saws sharp, but eventually I couldn’t keep up and they just hand sharpened their own saws.

    I planted out the seedling corn too as almost an inch of warm rain fell yesterday and the ground is now very moist. We’ll see how the corn grows and I’ve used seedlings before with no troubles so I’m a bit worried about your mention of fearless gardening. Hey, I pulled out all the radishes as they were more top than root vegetable. Think I might have planted them out of season in autumn. Oh well.

    The rest of the day was one admin task after another. The software issues last evening set the tone of today, and so oh well. By the time 9pm rolled around I fell asleep due to sheer exhaustion. Ruby woke me at about 10.30pm to remind me that I hadn’t replied, although it is possible that it was her self interest in that she had to go to the toilet. But whatever the case, by hook or by crook I got there in the end. 🙂

    Went into the big smoke to visit the fresh food market and restocked all of the grains. We were down to vapours man! Far out, that part of the cupboard was bare. Oh, and in breaking plant news, the peanuts in the greenhouse are all beginning to germinate.

    Going to have a quiet day tomorrow. Neither the phone nor email shall I answer in my quest for a quiet day. I may even kick back and read a book for a few hours. Need a day off any and all work.

    Never thought about looking up my granddads service record. An interesting suggestion.

    But none of the ingredients are found in nature 🙂 . Figures. That’s I guess how they could survive the zombie apocalypse.

    Actually the help screens with the software were rubbish, you should have seen the indecipherable error message. Spoke to a human at the company today and got help with the error and also how to get after hours online help with such errors in future. Anyway, turns out we should have put NA (as in Not Applicable) into a field and that was the show stopper. Very grumpy, and last evening tensions were high, but oh well these are the things sent to try us. Mate, I was just grateful to be able to resolve the issue and move on this morning. It sounds defeated and it possibly is, but I pick my fights.

    A shame that the link to Don’s Party didn’t load. Oh well, the plot sounded so 70’s that it hurt to my mind. Do we need that? Maybe not. I wonder how well the film would translate to today. Some older films are timeless and they are really hard to pin down, but others are a bit dodgy, and need I mention Caddyshack? Bill Murray’s performance was excellent, but the rest, I dunno…

    Ah, well these things happen about the popular vote. As far as I am aware, all of such systems are a legal system. They don’t have to make sense. People however forget that, and their passions and emotions get thrown in and then there is talk of justice – whatever that is – and you know, it’s a legal system, and it doesn’t have to make sense. All it has to do is follow the system. It is not the job of your media to do or run the system – as the system owns that role solely. I was thinking about writing about that story.

    Far out, even I’ve heard of Baby Yoda. Sure hope he doesn’t come and get us!

    I’ll check that out – and keep an umbrella handy. It is a La Nina after all!



  24. @ Pam
    I agree that your explanation is the obvious one but I have never let anyone else use the machine. Even if it is someone else’s washing, I deal with it and I am fanatical about going through pockets.


    @ Chris
    I knew about wallaby sightings in the UK but had no idea that there were so many. Noted that there have been none on the Island so far.


  25. @ Margaret – my condolences to you and your family. And I wish the best possible outcome for Doug’s dental work.

    @ Inge – glad to learn that you were able to fix your washing machine! You may well be right about the coin coming in through the water line. Was a water main broken and repaired anywhere before the problem began? Possibly a coin dropped into the main repair area from a worker’s pocket, got into the main, and was pushed by the water into your line. When I cleaned out a kitchen faucet sometime back that was only dribbling out water, I found it almost clogged with sand. The sand had to have gotten in there when it was washed into the line during efforts to repair a main break that had occurred in the past.


  26. Hello Chris,

    Pruning is often underestimated as reinvigorating for trees and bushes. If you have ever done done coppicing, you know that you can eliminate the whole tree, including trunk, and get the roots to start shooting back up – eager for light. It works for a surprising number of tree species. Here where I live in the Netherlands, people did coppicing until WWII of willow (for winter feed for sheep and cattle), birch (for sweeping brooms), oak (for small-diameter roundwood timber and firewood), ash (for firewood and tool-handles) etc. etc. Now most of this is replaced by fossil gas and plastics.
    I also suspect that most trees co-evolved with elephants, mammoths and mastodons who devoured their tender branches at irregular intervals. I imagine myself a mammoth, whenever I wield my lopper and make every cut wild and sharp.

    Are you sure that beech wood can be processed? (Fagus sylvatica) I never heard of this. I am only familiar with the beech nuts. Every third of fourth year, we get a mast year of beech nuts, which are quite delicious both fresh and roasted. The nuts rain down onto streets and pavements in early September. The nuts are pea-sized, but shaped like buckwheat (which maybe got it’s Western European names from the similarity in shape to these Boek-tree-nuts, the old name of beech), so it is a slow but rewarding task to collect and peel the nuts.

    I hope the vortex will leave you soon and have you return to leisurely spring weather!

    @Lew – thanks for the introduction to Mathew Crawford – I will look it up – sounds like an interesting figure.

    Best regards,

  27. @ Pam
    Thanks much. Doug is really not looking forward to this. He’s also concerned about how he’ll eat over the holidays haha. I pointed out that it’ll be possible but it might slow him down (which frankly would be good for him).

    I think there’s many people with bad health outcomes due to lack of or crappy insurance.


  28. Hi Chris,
    I seriously doubt if a puppy is in our future. We’ve always adopted dogs that are at least a year old except for one puppy. Salve might have been a bit younger than one due to the fact that she acted puppyish and grew some as well.

    At our old house Leo was allowed a spot on an older couch but he still had to check out the entire house when we left to see if some better furniture was available.


  29. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you are OK.

    As a clarification I was referring to paid work. 🙂 Over the past eight months I have been busy caring for others and their plight, and am feeling the need to recharge the batteries.

    The writing and comments here are one of my joys.



  30. Yo, Chris – AOK, here. Just ran a bit of a different schedule, today. Comes of staying up til 5am, watching “Hinterland.” 🙂 .

    That was an interesting article, about wallabies, in Britain. Imagine wandering down an English garden path, and running smack into something you’ve never seen before. I also saw an interesting article about two new marsupial species, found in your neck of the world.

    Go Tree Dudes! I see that radish greens are edible. And, if you have the fuzzy leaf kind, just cook them.

    Well, that’s just maddening. All that time for a simple NA. Or is it N/A? Are their spaces? A simple “All fields must be filled” would be handy. Or, as I see on many websites, they tell you the fields marked with an * , must be filled in. I swear, I think some software designers think we’re born, knowing this stuff.

    Sometimes, when I’m navigating around the Net, I wonder how I ever learned some things. As in, it takes many clicks and steps, to get in and out of my e-mail. Or, in and out of my library account. There certainly are no instructions, but I guess I must have just hunted and pecked until I figured it out?

    Ah, Twinkies. Saw an article, recently, that an 8 year old box of Twinkies was found with a “mummifying mold.” Scientists are investigating. I see there’s also a book. “Twinkies, Deconstructed.” Luckily, our library doesn’t have a copy of it 🙂 . Twinkie is also a derogatory slang term for “…someone who looks interesting or attractive physically, but inside has little value.” Don’t hear that very often.

    Speaking of the Great Depression, and how people observed it, I ran across an interesting bit in the Steinbeck biography. Speaking of Steinbeck and his wife, the author observed, “Being broke shielded the Steinbecks from the worst of theDepression – they’d never rally had anything, so having nothing felt normal.”

    I’m keeping an eye on what Prof. Mass has to say, about our impending storm (maybe.) Depends on if the eye comes onshore, north or south of us. If we get a direct hit, things may get “interesting.” 24 hours and counting …

    The fellow who’s selling all the Currier and Ives prints, has been putting together 3 print lots, to sell off. Mostly in poor condition, or, prints with unappealing subject matter. Great slopping gobs of Victorian sentimentality. That queasy feeling is incipient blood sugar overload, prior to coma. But, I noticed in one batch is the “Lady of the Lake.” A Highland Sheila, in tartan kit, paddling her boat. He’s starting the bids at $10, and I doubt he’ll get many takers. Lew

  31. Jeepers, so much going on with everyone, I can’t keep up!

    I’ve been putting up firewood for next winter, and hurrying with all the other outdoor end of fall chores before this winter truly sets in, so have not been able to catch all the ongoing news. Sorry if I repeat questions that have already been gone over.

    Chris- as you mulch and feed the terraces, I’ve always wondered where the mulch comes from, and what would you do if that source were to end? Our neighbor with the small dairy has stopped farming, so my source of cow compost has ended. I’m considering my options.

    What is the policy in Australia for deer population management? They can get quite out of hand without a top predator to balance their fecundity. Here in Wisconsin, we have to take on the role as we killed all the wolves, and the deer get totally feral, as you point out. If official policy there is not dealing with the problem, maybe a deer or two could have an “accident” and you’d be eating venison and helping the forest. You wouldn’t even have to mention it in your blog. Just saying……

    Software hell- Before I retired, I had my own dealings with software that was “better” than our old paper methods, and it was endlessly frustrating, in that modifying the software to make it better was out of my hands, and very unlikely to happen. Workarounds, endless updates, redos, extra checking because the results couldn’t be trusted added much time that really made you wonder if it was truly “better”, what ever that means. No software migration I was subjected to EVER came in at projected cost or timeline.

    I see the expansion of the technosphere, the rollout of AI and TIOT as the next layers of complexity that attempt to manage the inevitable decline in per capita energy we are living through.

    Tainter would recognize it as such, and maybe encourage us to collapse now and avoid the rush.

  32. Hi Inge,

    What a fine joke it would be to see a wallaby bouncing through your woodland. And I had no idea they were even present in your country – and on the run. Who knew?

    Good to hear that there have been no sightings on your island.

    It was a nice day here today, not hot, and not cold, and I planted out the remaining corn seedlings, but just generally took it easy.



  33. Hi Goran,

    The Eucalyptus species, of which the local variety is the not-quite-the tallest-variety-but-very-close-to-it: Eucalyptus obliqua can perform that trick with coppicing too. Six times they’ll regrow and coppice, apparently. And my experience suggests that the number is possibly true.

    I mean when you think about the huge root system left behind by a coppiced tree, you can well understand how coppiced shoots grow so quickly. I have a belief that pruned trees grow more quickly in the aftermath of the pruning and the wallabies here work towards keeping the under story of the forest open. I suspect that many animals used to perform that function – until we ate them all.

    Hehe! Thanks for the mental image of you being a mammoth and chomping down on a massive tree branch. Hey, back in the day we had massive 3 tonne wombats – and those would strike fear into your heart should you encounter one on a lonely forest track with nowhere to run. 🙂

    I now admit defeat and cannot now recall where the reference to bread made from Beech tree pulp was found. It is possible that I misremembered the pulp and confused it with the edible nuts (although the nuts have to be processed via an easy cooking process to remove saponins), but I recall that utilising the pulp was not an easy or a quick process, requiring several long cooks and changes of water, and only done when no other food was available. The source of the origin may have been far north western Europe during a middle ages climactic err, difficulty. Dunno. I note that the early leaves are edible. I have both the local beech species Nothofagus cunninghamii as well as the European green beech growing here. Relative to other species, they are slow growing trees. Down under you sometimes encounter the red leaved European beech varieties too which are sometimes described as copper coloured, although they look dark red to me.

    Word on the street is that the beech nuts are as you described as delicious, and a tree takes at least forty years to produce nuts. I grow a few outlier tree species like that such as the Macadamia nut (they haven’t died, but neither have the trees thrived) and also Bunya nut (imagine being hit by a 10kg nut – ouch!)

    Respect to you for harvesting the wild produce whilst others walk on by. I too glean as much produce from the area as I can and I know of the various wild fruit trees and berries growing in the locale. Had to laugh as years ago I ran a booth at a local sustainability festival and a young couple demanded to know where the wild harvests could be had. They forgot to give something in return for such hard earned knowledge – I’m sure you’ve encountered such folks?

    Today was cool, and so far Spring has been cool due to the vortex, but the next two weeks look set to bring some good growing conditions. The climate here is extraordinarily variable, and there are times that I feel that the climate in other parts of the world maybe more stable than here. A cynic might suggest that I’m beta testing the future and finding it to be a difficult place to produce food! 🙂



  34. Hi Margaret,

    You never know what the future holds in store for you. 😉 For years I had this odd preconceived notion that puppies were hard work, but between Ollie and the two girls, they’ve cured me of that notion. Dunno even where I picked the notion up. The dogs are no more or less hard work than other dogs introduced into the household.

    But then like your experience, adult dogs have always previously come into my life, and they’re good value too. Every dog seems to arrive with a new and interesting personality. The other day Ruby appeared to be freaked out by the thunderstorm. Boss dogs shouldn’t be freaked out by thunderstorms, should they? At least she doesn’t appear to be a storm detective and provide hours advance notice of impending storms that may or may not arrive!

    Respect to Leo, the super naughty tester of limits! Oh yeah, haven’t we all met a few of those. I’ll bet you encountered some of those personalities when you used to teach?



  35. Hi Steve,

    Yeah, ya gotta be fleet of foot to keep up here. 🙂

    No need to apologise, it’s all good here. Firewood is one of those tasks that I spend an inordinate amount of time on. Plus I have the tree dudes helping out with that task – I have no plan B for winter heating, other than blankets and thick woollen clothes and the option does not appeal.

    Do you still get folks helping out at your place?

    > I’ve always wondered where the mulch comes from, and what would you do if that source were to end?

    Top question! The composted woody mulch arrives here by way of processing of green waste collection down in the big smoke of Melbourne. With four or five million folks there, they sure do create a lot of waste – which helps me. So if the source ended abruptly. Well, if I had fossil fuels I have access to the scary old wood chipper I bought recently, plus huge quantities of trimmings from the various garden beds. That should be fine for a long while, but the incoming cycle of new minerals would be broken. If fossil fuels weren’t available I’d practice chop and drop of the surrounding vegetation, plus there is the old standard of simply burning easy to obtain forest materials and then spreading the ash. Plus even today, nothing organic arrives on the property without being returned to the soil – even my own wastes. The soil can work like a fertility storage tank.

    I have not hunted the various species of deer, and am a vegetarian whilst at home anyway so tend to focus on plants rather than meat. On the other hand I have no problems with hunting as long as the meat is consumed and not wasted. However, some of the species of deer can be hunted year around, whilst others have a limited open season. In this forest we tend to get the Red Deer variety and they’re big, and I believe can be hunted year around. I wouldn’t allow hunters onto the property though, mostly because they’d probably couldn’t be bothered providing anything in return and also not leaving a disaster zone behind them.

    Like your part of the world, there are no higher order predators other than humans and their vehicles which impact upon the deer population. Like your style too and approve. There are plenty of things that go on here that I don’t mention on the blog – it amazes me at how difficult people can be about really basic things that produce good environmental outcomes – but at the same time annoy strongly their held beliefs. So those things, I don’t mention them.

    Exactly, Joseph Tainter would be having a field day in this target rich environment. I’ve seen firsthand how the old systems worked – and they weren’t that bad or even much slower than today. Computers tend to concentrate energy, efforts and rewards. Dunno.



  36. @ Claire
    Thanks. Yes we had a massive water main break recently and there are constant minor problems up the road. Also I am at the end of the main line. That coin had had a rough life, it is worn almost smooth.


    @ Goran
    I used to eat beechnuts as a child until someone warned me off eating them. Have just checked on the internet and it appears that they do contain a poison and one should not eat too many of them.


  37. Hi Lewis,

    No worries at all, and glad to hear that you were enjoying the Welsh programme. I love looking at satellite images of the UK as the land use reveals a lot. The state I live in has twelve times less people and covers about the same land mass – but there are times I feel that the big smoke of Melbourne has become too busy and crowded for me. I honestly don’t know what I’d make of being surrounded by so many other people – it would be mildly disconcerting to my brain. If I recall correctly, Daniel Boone once remarked that he was moving on once another person entered his territory – but I now see that this was an attempt at hagiography and a possibly most unlikely story. A bit of a shame that as it is a good story and a bit of a ripping yarn.

    Oh, thanks for the article on the recent marsupial finds. The story did not surface in the media down here. Sugar Gliders do live in this forest and on some nights you can hear their distinctive call which sounds a bit like a high pitched trilling noise to me. But the gliders here sure don’t look as cute and fluffy as the ones up north.

    The tree dudes worked hard, and I respect that. Ah, unfortunately, the radishes were nothing like the ones I recall fondly from my youth which I picked and ate straight out of the soil of my granddads garden. The radishes we grew were quite full of fibres, which made for unpleasant consumption. Planted out the remaining seedling corn plants today, and hopefully they’ll do OK. Hopefully tomorrow I plant out the remaining lentils / legumes, but we’ll see how time goes.

    Actually the software field had to have the letters NA, which seemed odd to me. Like you suggest, Not Applicable is normally written as N/A. I lost two hours of my life trying to resolve that problem. But yeah, you called it, such difficult and unnecessary boxes in forms should perhaps be prefilled with meaningless default data.

    It is possible that some coders have difficulties with empathy, and the software had not been rigorously tested. In some respects the software developers are caught in the same trap that we are in that forces outside their control have been demanding the data and possibly a good case could be made that there have been too many changes, too quickly.

    ” just hunted and pecked until I figured it out” – this used to be known back in the day as the old Commodore 64 users trick. Just keep randomly pressing buttons until something happens. Computer stuff eats my life as I had to put a few hours today into looking into my interweb modem/router as it seems to be playing up. I’d like to say that I’m making this stuff up, but rarely does such a device last more than two years – and that doesn’t seem long enough to my mind. So I spent the time earlier this evening trying to work out what replacement device is constructed with longevity in mind. Not as easy to work out as you’d imagine.

    Other than that, I took things really easy today and just pottered around doing tasks that needed doing. It was actually really pleasant, because for the first day in weeks I had no deadlines. The unrelenting nature of work of late has been doing my head in a bit, but you know that’s life sometimes and I maybe on the other side of that story now, and mustn’t grumble and all that. There was an excellent beef pie for lunch involved as well as a small chunk of a carrot and walnut cake – very tasty with a butter icing too. Yum. The dogs demanded a chunk each – purely for testing purposes.

    With the lifting of restrictions, people are everywhere up here. I’d sort of gotten used to a very quiet life, and it is a bit of a shock to my senses to see all of the people out and about.

    Oh my gawd, you were serious. I thought you were kidding – there really is a mummifying mold encrusted twinkie being investigated by scientists. It looks like a sun baked dog poo. 🙂 They’re making jokes about Operation Moldy Twinkie and I’m beginning to feel mildly nauseous. I see the bloke consumed one that didn’t look too bad – apparently.

    Yes, you are safe for now given that your library doesn’t have a copy and your hold list is probably full – but the book may be available on an inter-library loan? Wow, that word sure has some naughty definitions. 🙂 It amazes me that a small sponge cake surrounded by legends can attract so much attention. Never seen one myself.

    Mr Steinbeck perhaps travelled the path of author, and his early years were marked by financial hardship. Unless an author is super lucky or super talented, they’d best get used to being poor. It ain’t so bad, but then when I was a kid – we were broke, but all the same there was food on the table and a roof over our heads. I suspect a family in a similar unfortunate social situation would be in far worse shape today.

    I note that the good Professor finishes his essay on your impending storm situation with the words: “November is known as the stormiest month in the Northwest for a reason.” Talk about a cliffhanger – like what reason? 🙂

    Beware the food coma borne of Victorian era sensibilities. A dire situation to find oneself in. The print of the Lady of the Lake sounds intriguing. And the text below is a fascinating account of how the image came to be viewed from that perspective. Did the hunter mean ill, or was mischief involved? We’ll never know.



  38. Hi Chris,

    It took me a couple of days to understand why the 19 in the title. Sometimes I’m just slow. 😉 But then again I made it through high school without being assigned that particular book to read and have yet to read it. Which is probably only because we moved around at that time, so I was in three different public school systems during the six years of junior high and high school. It was a very popular book for public high school English classes at the time I was taking them. Most likely it was taught in different years in the different school systems than I was enrolled in them.

    The county that I live in, the most populous one in the state of Missouri, has just announced severe restrictions to be placed on its residents starting next Tuesday and lasting for four weeks. We are to only leave home to go to school or work; for exercise; to receive medical care; or to shop for goods or supplies. Bars and restaurants are closed to indoor seating. Outdoor seating will be allowed, but that’s not viable at this time of year. They will be allowed to offer take-out food. Businesses, schools, and places of worship, among others, are reduced to 25% occupancy, and masks must be worn. No more than 10 people can gather at any one place. So it’s not quite as restrictive as the March lockdown, but certainly much more so than right now.

    New this time: if we test positive, we are supposed to tell all the people we came into contact with ourselves, because the county doesn’t have the resources to do contact tracing. We also have to put ourselves under quarantine if someone tells us they exposed us to it or if we test positive. And we are also told that we can form social “bubbles” of 10 or fewer people, family members and/or friends, with whom we can socialize during the lockdown, and we can leave home to socialize with them.

    Note that the US Thanksgiving holiday and the so-called Black Friday shopping event happen during this four week period. I think the social “bubbles” are supposed to make it easier for us to celebrate Thanksgiving with at least some of the people we usually celebrate it with, so that we will feel better and be more inclined to shop. And since we can shop, the Black Friday sales can go on. Interesting to see the ways in which the supposed science around that which I can’t name interacts with political and economic realities. Our county executive just won election in his own right (he had been acting in that capacity after the previous exec was forced to resign following his indictment), so he is feeling confident enough to issue such an order. Mind you, none of the counties surrounding ours in the metro area is doing the same thing. So can a person go to a gathering of family in the next county over for Thanksgiving, since that county is not under lockdown, and still have another group of 10 or less people such person invites to theirresidence in the county under lockdown? Inquiring minds, and all that. 😉


  39. Yo, Chris – Well, we may have dodged the worst of the weather. Winds are very high on the Oregon coast, but not so bad on our coast. So, I’d guess the eye is moving inland, there. We did have gusts of up to 35mph, last night. Lots of snow in our mountains. Some passes are closed.

    The Commodore advice reminds me of what I used to say: “Push buttons til it does what you want.”

    Just consider your hounds to be your food tasters. A fine old tradition. Though Augustus was (maybe) brought down by poison figs. (Livia, supposedly painted poison on the figs, on the tree) or Claudius by poison mushrooms. LOL. Maybe the first recorded instance of Fake News? 🙂 .

    Nope. Still plenty of slots on the library hold list. I must be slacking.

    If the hunter makes a grab for the Lady of the Lake, she can just give him a good bash with that rather hefty oar.

    I ran across an interesting article in Atlantic Magazine.

    It’s about a new take on detecting trends in history, called “Cliodynamics.” Clio being the muse of history, and all. Interesting stuff. Might be onto something. Maybe, not.

    Our State governor is making noises about locking us down, again. Just in time for the holidays! I wonder if they’ll do it, county by county. We’ve still got a steady drip, drip, drip, here. The county to our north (the State capitol) is bonkers with new cases.

    With your up and down weather, I hope all your work with the seedlings goes well. The wind tore down most of my peas, last night. Lew

  40. Hi Pam,

    I’ve been pondering your remark about moving trees. Not sure yet about it all, but I don’t always get much of the tap root during transplanting. Dunno, why it would work here, but not at your place. One thing I tend to do is move trees during warm, but not hot weather (early spring or late autumn), and even then just before a prolonged rainy run of weather. High summer would definitely kill transplanted trees here, especially if you limit their water. However, if you can water for many hours a day with no consequences, it’s an option.

    Not sure why things would be different here though. Inge once remarked to me that the many seedling oaks which pop up in her forest don’t tend to stand much of a chance, but the trees can grow with close spacings here, even under the drip line. And such oak seedlings have always transplanted just fine. That was where the Mike memorial oak seedling came from. A gift from nature perhaps? 🙂 But seriously I dunno.

    You’ve raised a curious tree mystery.



  41. Hi Claire,

    Hehe! Thanks for noticing my attempts at subtle humour. And you are most correct! 🙂 Respect! I’m not sure that anyone else got the joke, but it is a bit of a mash-up of ideas. According to Wikipodium the concept involves: “The term “Catch-22″ is also used more broadly to mean a tricky problem or a no-win or absurd situation.” Haven’t we all encountered one of those problems?

    The book was apparently enormously popular and also created a meme, which you don’t hear used that much nowadays, but then it is possible we are all busy looking elsewhere with our fingers crossed behind our backs, whilst hoping for the best. Never read the book myself either. We were subjected to the trials of Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. I wasn’t a fan, but everyone else seemed to love the book.

    Just for your curiosity, we don’t have Junior High down here. Far out, your three moves would have been a dislocating experience for you, and the loss of friends and then having to establish new friend groups is a tough experience. You have my understanding, although for all I know you may have soared like an eagle in the circumstances. By way of comparison I was something of a turkey, which is not as bad say a quail. 🙂 I hear you about that though.

    I don’t know what to say on the subject, but even now, we have to wear masks whenever outside the house – and tomorrow looks set to reach 32’C. I have serious concerns for the health of people working in the hospitality sector who have to perform their jobs on hot days wearing a mask for the entire shift. It’s not right, and I see into their eyes that they are suffering. We get about somewhere between 3 and 11 days of 40’C+ days every year, and some of those days can reach 45’C. Like only allowing outdoor seating during winter in your part of the world, some things just make no sense.

    The restrictions sound similar to down here. You’ve got the four reasons. And the arbitrary limit on numbers. I realise that this matter has impacted upon your family and you personally, and you have my sympathies, but if the usual arrangements are turned on their heads – what will survive the bouncing rubble is a question that often pops into my mind. I don’t really know, but perhaps one day we will all learn more.

    Ouch. Just saying that your system looks like a system which is set for failure. The thing is that there is an inherent conflict of interest in voluntarily advising all the people a person has come into contact with, versus that person keeping their job, their friends, and the roof over the heads and the food on the table. It is forcing people to choose, and I’d suggest that they may choose self-interest every time. The state does the contact tracing down here, and um well, yeah questions have been raised about the methods used and the efficacy…

    I hear you about the inquiring minds, but offer the counter suggestion that you’ll soon find out.

    If it means anything, I heard an interview with a federal politician a few weeks ago and he casually remarked that half of all the calories on people’s tables was derived from gas. Of course that refers to extracting fertiliser from natural gas. We are way past overshoot. And we will soon hit a point where the local market for gas may not be able to be fully supplied.

    Planted out corn, a variety of lentils and tomato seedlings over the past two days. The garden is looking good. Fortunately I grew probably three times the tomato seedlings that I actually needed. The greenhouse has been a revelation and also an inkling into how hard I’d made earlier growing seasons. Some changes are for the better.



  42. Hi Lewis,

    I just read the good Professors latest, and the serious winds hit south of you, which candidly is good for you, but not so much for those unfortunate folks. 80-90 mph gusts is extraordinary and if that hit here, it would be devastating for the forest. And also involve a lot of clean up work for me and also the tree dudes.

    Do you reckon the early snow may melt over the next few weeks – or do you reckon it may hang around for the season? Did your power stay on during the worst of the storm? How did the garden look the next day?

    35mph is about as hard as I’ve seen the wind here, outside of the Christmas day present of the mini-tornado many years ago. I was a bit busy that day, what with the four inches of rain in an hour, and neglected to check the wind speeds on the ground level weather station. Next time I’ll try harder, and hopefully recall to get the camera out.

    What with the climate the way it is, and all the signs pointing to an epic La Nina summer, I might just get my wish…

    Moving on. Planted out the remaining varieties of lentils today, plus about a 60ft row of tomato seedlings. Based on the plantings today, we may have raised about two to three times more tomato seedlings than we actually need this year. Better to be safe than sorry. It would be nice if some of the neighbours were interested in edible gardening, but alas I exist in a vacuum. Anyway, we have to get the watering robot setup and ready to go tomorrow as all of the watering so far has been done by hand and unfortunately such a manual system can be entirely stuffed up.

    The garden terraces are now in their second year, and the soil is looking good although I can still dig down to discover the underlying clay. But in another year or two, the soil will just get better. If I knew of an easier way…

    The interesting outcome with the greenhouse is that we have discovered that the seeds which we have saved have out-performed the purchased seeds in that they germinated earlier and they seem to be handling the transplant from the greenhouse into the garden bed easier.

    I was a bit upset over lunch today. Lunch was a nice egg and garden greens salad with half of a small freshly baked loaf of bread. Lashings of homemade jam and peanut butter was applied to the bread. All good so far, but I’m reading book four of the World Made by Hand series written by the most excellent author, Mr James Howard Kunstler. Yeah, and the author killed off the character little Sarah who’d unfortunately encountered the Clostridium bacteria which brings on Tetanus. Reading the book, and that scene in particular prompted the editor and I to get our tetanus booster shots. Oh yeah, an unpleasant way to go. Didn’t Thoreau’s brother kark it that way after using a rusty cut throat razor for shaving? There is a reason after shave smells like high ethanol fuel which could power drag racers. 🙂

    “Push buttons til it does what you want.” I’d be curious as to your thoughts on the matter, but from my perspective, that idea has been taken way too far in our society. Speaking of which I intend to write tonight and may keep that story hovering around in the background. It’s only fair, they started it.

    On a serious note, I do worry about the public decline of your governance and the overall ramifications of that story. We went through a similar phase a few years ago and discovered that changing prime muppets does not cure the ills afflicting the patient. Sorry…

    Livia is a truly interesting and formidable person. Imagine being married to her: “Love, I just want to go to the pub and have a nice meal and a drink”, whilst her mind all the while would be elsewhere plotting and scheming. No fun at all. Yes, best to avoid such people as they would soon become most tiresome. I have noted over the years that when poisonings occur it is often a female method, guys are a bit too stupid for such subtlety.

    But then, fake news as you say has a long history. We spoke about the ‘Let them eat cake’ quote which frankly never seemed to tie up with the ladies actions. But then anyone can unwittingly become the fall-guy. Nobody wants that unearned title!

    What? Free slots on the library hold list. Well, Bill and Ted’s latest installment might be added to the list. If I think about it a bit, I might come up with some more additions. Actually the plan is to write tonight and watch Secret Gardenz tomorrow night. Well, that’s the plan anyway.

    True, the oar would make quite the awesome dent in the hunters head. The Lady of the Lake somehow manages to look winsome and all business at the same time. 🙂 So did you purchase the print?

    I enjoyed Jared Diamond’s epic tome Collapse, but mate he cherry picked, but could have looked to Rome for their long and shocking decline. Are we at six emperor’s in a year – me thinks not, although candidly with the revolving door of prime muppets we were well on our way – but chose to change that option. OOOOOOOO! The person being interviewed scored what I’d call a direct shot. Ouch, I bet that hurt for the journalist. And “a never-­ending loop of boom and bust”, yup that sounds like ecology to me, and we do tend to exist courtesy of nature and the bounty of the natural world. Honestly, less that 2% of the population down here are responsible for feeding the remaining 98%+ so no wonder those good folks get things wrong, because it is in their interests to do so.

    Mate, when you’ve been in lock down for eight months…

    The seedlings look pretty good so far, and I’m wondering if the less tightly sealed greenhouse has helped them ease through hardening off process in the ground? Dunno, but by the end of the season I’ll have a better idea.



  43. Chris:

    I am afraid those trees will remain a mystery, but thanks for pondering, and the advice.


  44. Yo, Chris – Yup. Oregon got the worst of it. Widespread power outages and trees down. But we did not escape, unscathed. On and off wild weather, all day. Gully washers and wind driven rain and hail, that came in sideways. More gusts to 35mph. At one point, the rain woke me up from a nap. At least I didn’t have to go out in the dark and clean out drains 🙂 . The only damage I saw in the garden, was that most of my peas came down. But then, they were about done, anyway. If we don’t get a warm spell, I think the snow in the mountains will hang on, all winter. My friends in Idaho got 8″ of snow. Very wet and heavy snow.

    I saw a weather prediction for Australia’s next year. Something called Accu Weather. Couldn’t find it again. Said your year will be cooler and wetter, with lots of monsoons.

    I’ve always been a bit confused about the difference between lentils and beans. Down the rabbit hole, and I think I’ve got it sorted. I’ve always been a big fan of beans, but haven’t done anything with lentils. Reading about them, I’ll have to give them a spin.

    Maybe take one of two of the tomatoes, and plant them around in random spots? See how it goes. One or two in various enclosures. Heck, throw some in the fern gully.

    The soil in my plots looks pretty good. Until you dig down a few inches. Then there’s a lot of sand in it. But I keep pitching “stuff” in there, and it slowly improves.

    Yup. Thoreau’s brother nicked himself with a rusty razor, and it was all over. Speaking of “World Made By Hand”, I hadn’t gotten around to ordering “Living in a World Made By Hand.” And, I just noticed last week that our library is getting copies of it. Already on my hold list.

    “Push buttons until it does what you want.” Of course, that’s not ideal. I’d much rather have a nice clear set of instructions. But, as those are seldom in the offing, needs must.

    Oh, I’m not so naive that I think a change in government will cure all ills. I’ll just say that at least people in power under a new administration might have some nodding acquaintance with their areas of responsibility. It’s hard to put my finger on, but just the general … tenor, is different. It might be mostly lip service, but there seems to be a bit more empathy, for those who are less advantaged.

    Well, we’ll never know the “truth” as to Livia’s character. Most of the stuff that was written about her, came after the dust had settled. During her life, most accounts of her character set her up as the model Roman Republican wife. Heck, she even wove the wool for Augustus’s togas! According to reports 🙂 . As far as all the deaths in the family, given mortality rates at that time, I doubt there was a Roman family without a pretty high body count. I see HBO and the BBC are going to do a remake of “I, Claudius”. The original was a real stunner. Maybe, all will be made clear, about Livia?

    Bill and Ted’s latest installment has been on my hold list since the first day it hit the catalog. I’m number one on the hold list.

    The Lady of the Lake print is part of an auction. Won’t end until next weekend. I wait to bid until the last few moments.

    Well, I spoke to soon. That drip, drip, drip of cases has turned into a cascade. Someone opened the tap, full bore. In two days, we’ve had 90 cases. Probably due to Halloween. There’s some talk about another lockdown. I am preparing. Lew

  45. Hi Lewis,

    Just finished writing, and I had a lot of fun. Hopefully your sensibilities are not too challenged or outraged by my fun word journey? Hehe!

    We had some serious wind here today, although things seem to have calmed down now. However, the winds here were like a stiff breeze compared to what you (and Oregon) just enjoyed. Oh my and far freakin’ out! Just checked the good Professor’s blog and the sheer scale of the early snow dump (with more yet to come) read as quite an alarming number to my summer softened eyes and ears. We’re soft!!!! We’re soft!!!! 🙂

    You know I’m starting to get the impression that pea plants are finicky. The temperature here reached 82’F today and they sure didn’t like that. But then they didn’t like being planted out in cooler autumn weather either and despite the hype, the snowfall killed them off. It is possible that you and I are growing varieties which were selected for vastly different climates? Dunno, but there sure is something fundamentally wrong with either the plant varieties we grow, or the conditions that they are grown in. Hmm. More experimentation is in order.

    The Bureau of Meteorology has a nifty outlook on the coming summer, and it looks like it will be a goodie: Climate outlooks. With such a long term forecast on the cards I have been a bit more liberal with watering the vegetables and seedlings on the basis that the water tanks will continue to be filled up in the coming months.

    It looks as though the beans will grow more easily than peas, that’s for sure, but yes, what are lentils? Never really thought about that question before. Hmm. Who knew that down here we were avid plant breeders with these species? If they grow well here – and by the end of the season I’ll know for sure, well they’ll probably grow well up your way. Although as a caveat, next year I might direct sow them, as well as raising them in the greenhouse just to see which method works best.

    Yeah – nah, the local marsupials are raised on a diet of the local nightshade family plants, and so unprotected tomatoes are toast. The marsupials seem less interested in potato leaves, but even still, they’ll give it a go. One dry and hot year I had a tomato turn up on the driveway, and without any extra watering, it produced a very small crop of tasty fruit – but all the same it survived some appalling conditions. The seedlings planted out over the past week look as though they coped with their first hot day outside the greenhouse.

    Tetanus is such an unpleasant way to go. I read that down here it has something like a 10% mortality rate, and the bacteria genuinely is all over the shop. I wash wounds and cuts with a high alcohol % wash – it may be as high as 93% which is pretty toxic for everything really. Reading the account in the book prompted the editor and I to get booster shots, which I believe only last for a decade. Interestingly, I’ve heard of a number of cases of wounds getting septic and so I don’t know whether people are now careless or what? That’ll kill people pretty quick smart.

    Yeah, it takes time and effort to build deep soil. Have you heard anything further on the master gardeners plans to overhaul the garden? It’s no joke really – the amount of organic materials I bring in here is quite astounding, and it is not nearly enough.

    I know a bloke who used to work writing technical manuals. I do wonder why they are so rubbish nowadays? Dunno. Had to purchase a new interweb modem the other day, so fingers crossed that it works better than the current one which is slowly failing. I have a plan B and plan C for the situation should it entirely fail, but they’re not good plans.

    Sorry to say, but as an outsider, your culture has a predisposition to not providing assistance. The fourth book of the World made by Hand series has some amusing things to say on socialism. Not sure why that cultural predisposition would be, but from my perspective it looks baked into the cake. Assistance down here can be not that great, and talking heads enjoy bashing the unemployed, but pensioners and families take a far greater cut of the funds available. It is probably not good to be a soft target though. My gut feeling tells me that even if you get a change, the view on the street might not be that different. There are many problems which can’t easily be fixed – which is not different than down here like with our gas dilemma (we’re the major exporter, but local demand was reported to outstrip supply in the not too distant future). How do you fix a predicament when it offends closely held beliefs?

    Wow, the plot line of I, Claudius is nothing short of remarkable. Imagine elevating a maniac like Nero in the hope that a future series of events brings about a return to the past? What a poison chalice that would have been to drink from.

    The latest Bill and Ted was pretty silly, but I really enjoyed the ride. The character who played George Carlin’s (his character was maybe named Rufus – which is also the name of a most excellent Australian band) daughter was a real hoot, and she quietly stole most of the scenes she appeared in.

    Yeah, I get that. I hold my cards close to my chest at such auctions too. Public auctions can cost bidders a lot of money. Oh yeah.

    Well, if you get stuck in lock-down, remember to implement the lessons learned last time 😉 , and stock up early. I now keep stocks of supplies on hand for just such an occurrence. Spare a thought for the poor folks up in the arid north west of this state who copped a 104’F day today and had to wear masks whilst out of their homes – and with no cases in the area. It was hot enough down here today.



  46. Yo, Chris – LOL. Well, if my sensibilities are challenged or outraged, as I’ve said before, I learned a long time ago I don’t have to respond to everything I see on the Net. 🙂 .

    I see from Prof. Mass’s post that there will be more wind, next Tuesday. Too early to tell where, but someone is going to get wind. The good professor does bang on about snow. Apparently, quit a few of his followers are ski-centric. Seems like the big questions, this time of the year, are “Will there be snow in the ski areas by Thanksgiving?” and, “Should I buy a season pass?” I guess it’s a real mob scene, up on the runs, for the Thanksgiving Day holidays.

    Lentils. Different from beans, as they are more lens shaped, than round. Hence the name, or Latin root, or something.

    I ran across quit a long excerpt in the Steinbeck biography. Too long to quote, here. It’s from a 1938 (near as I can tell) pamphlet put out by our Department of Agriculture. “To Hold This Soil” by Russell Lord. If you search the title, it’s on-line. Along with some other interesting links to articles on soil.

    We probably won’t know (if then) what’s happening to the gardens, until the get together in, about, February. Probably won’t see the Master Gardeners until then. I think they’re pretty much done, for the year.

    I watched the original “I, Claudius”, when it was televised. I think the library still has DVDs of it. Also, somewhere along the way, I read the book, and the sequel, “Claudius the God.” It’s going to be one of those things where the original cast was so perfect, that a remake is going to have some pretty high standards, to meet. (As will the new “Stand.”) The original had very low production values, but you got so caught up in the interactions between the characters, that you didn’t notice. Patrick Stewart with hair! Long before he shot of into outer space.

    Please Stand By For An Important Announcement. 🙂 . In about an hour, our governor is taking to the airwaves, to announce a new lockdown. Lots of speculation, as to what that will mean. I’m pretty well prepared. Picked up a couple of bunches of slightly green banana, yesterday, to freeze. Our Magic Food Boxes come on Friday, and, I wonder if that will be disrupted. Wasn’t, last time around. Anyway. Pointless to speculate, at this point.

    My friends in Idaho’s daughter, has been up in the air, about her wedding. Not the first rodeo, for either of them, so, they’re rather clear eyed about the whole thing. But they were going to have a rather larger “do”, but those plans are thrown into chaos, due to You Know What. They could wait, or, have a much smaller event, now. Which I think they’re going to do, because of …. health insurance. She’s rather not covered, right now. If they make it official (one way or another) she’s covered by his very good health insurance. It always boils down to the damned health insurance.

    I see there was a voter fraud scandal in New Zealand. Apparently, someone was stuffing the ballot box for the Bird of the Year, competition.

    H gets her bath, today. There’s a couple of auctions to attend to. I might make some banana muffins. Lew

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