A few days ago I looked at my face in the mirror. I’d liked to believe that I was ageing well, but then the mirror reflected the face of some old dude back at me. Who was this old dude with weather beaten skin and the greying beard staring back at me? Despite the gradual replacement of the red colour in my beard with a sandy grey, I still feel young. But then time has this curious habit of eating away at the hours.

Some people have regrets, and I can understand the feeling of loss that a regret would induce. On the other hand, my brain is not really wired to feel the feelings of regret, so that isn’t a particular problem for me. As far as I can understand the world, sometimes you can take action or not, and other times the action that you do take, closes off other options. Life is perhaps better described as being, err, complex.

Anyway, it is fortunate not to suffer the awful feelings of regret, because a few months ago I discontinued my paid subscription of the local state newspaper. Between the two dominant stories of US election politics and the health subject which dare not be named, I was bored to death with the news of the day. Surely other things were going on in the world? But no, those two stories appeared to dominate the daily news, every freakin’ day.

And even a decent cappuccino and serving of delicious fruit toast slathered in melted butter, was not enough to convince me to delve again into murky depths of the newspaper of the day. Nope, the contents of the newspaper were not nearly enticing enough, and so I have substituted the newspaper with fictional books. Now at least I can enjoy better written fiction and with a side serving of a decent coffee and fruit toast.

Waiting patiently in a queue the other day at the local cafe, so as to order a coffee and serving of fruit toast, I happened to read the headlines in the newspaper which suggested that the US elections had reached their nadir, and the suggestion was that the media and current opposition party were calling a win in their favour. What? Why are our newspapers and news media in Australia full of this story? I guess some mysteries you just have to carry around with you. Thankfully I had my fiction book with me and could then go back to enjoying the nice spring morning air, albeit whilst wearing a mask.

Bizarrely, my High School – not the hippy dippy High School, but the latter more English than the English grammar school – provided me with quite a good education in the history of politics in this country. The teacher was beyond good, and the students even spent part of each class discussing political events of the day. One concept that was impressed upon me was that elections are legal processes.

It is worth noting that legal processes don’t have to have just outcomes, they don’t even have to make much sense, they just have to follow the established process or introduce an incremental addition to the existing process. That’s how they work, and I expect the US election process, of which I’m hearing way too much about, works more or less the same.

From my perspective, the media doesn’t dictate the narrative, and neither does the government nor opposition parties. Nope, it is the process itself which determines the outcome. Unfortunately, people seem to be investing a whole bunch of emotional energy into the outcome. The emotional tone sort of reminds me of the many stories I know of people attempting to obtain a planning permit from the local council. A planning permit is simply a legal notice of approval from the local council (local government) so that a person can construct a house, or undertake alterations to an existing house, on their property.

Obtaining a planning permit is simply a matter of following the process. It’s a legal process after all, and it is extraordinarily complicated. But it is not an impossible process to follow. The permit application process journey for the house on this farm took me several folders worth of documentation, and at every stage in that journey I addressed and responded to the legislation and dealt with any queries raised by the local council. Emotions were the last thing that should be raised in that particular process.

Unfortunately, a lot of people whom I have spoken with over the years in relation to their permit application process, seem rather swept away in the emotions of the journey. Most of the heartache involves people not wanting to, or perhaps being unable to follow the permit application process. It is a very complicated system after all, but it demands adherence. Talk of justice or fairness has nothing at all to do with such a system. That is the thing with such systems, they don’t have to be fair.

But getting back to politics. I’m hearing so much about US politics, that perhaps the fairness scales might need to be balanced off a bit by mentioning some fun facts from tha annals of Australian politics. So for the American readers, here goes:

  • In 1967 we lost a Prime Minister. Like seriously lost him. He disappeared one day whilst snorkeling, and many theories have been thrown around, usually involving sharks and/or foreign submarines. For all I know, aliens could have been involved and the case has never been formally solved. As a sign of the irreverent Australian humour, this particular lost Prime Minister has been immortalised by a memorial swimming pool.
  • Speaking of things lost, another former Prime Minister once famously lost his pants in a motel in Memphis, allegedly known to be frequented by prostitutes and drug dealers. The newspapers made much of the story, but nobody seemed to really care and it hardly seemed to tarnish his reputation.
  • Between 2007 and 2018 we’ve had six Prime Ministers, including one who came back for a second go. It having worked out so well the first time around, and all.
  • A Prime Minister in 1945 lasted eight days. Surely this is a record?
  • In 2007 the Prime Minister elect admitted drunkenly visiting a strip club in New York while representing Australia at the United Nations. His popularity soared in Australia and the muckrakers were probably upset that they weren’t invited on the night.
  • In 2010 we had a Prime Minister who was female, child free and an atheist. She also had lovely red hair which I liked far more than the media did! Imagine such a leader in the US!
  • And an honourable mention must go to Billy Snedden, not a Prime Minister but rather an Opposition Leader, who died in 1987 at a motel in the intimate company of an ex-girlfriend of his son. An act that is a bit ‘Bill and Ted’ really! A racy newspaper of the day declared that unfortunately “Snedden died on the job”.

So yeah, politics can be far more interesting than the emotional content currently being reported in the newspapers. And if you think politics is bad now, spare a thought for the good folks of Ancient Rome who in 238 AD who had six Emperor’s in one year. That even beats the Australian record for the turnover of national leaders mentioned above. The Romans didn’t muck around either, and clearly didn’t need sharks to disappear Emperor’s that year. I’ll bet the knives were kept way sharp! So yes, things could always get worse / more entertaining.

These were all the things that flashed through my mind as I inspected my ageing face in the mirror. Could be better, could be worse, but most likely things are on the decline.

Storm clouds rolled along the valley this morning

The weather has been fairly warm this week. Each day we get that bit closer to summer. As vegetable seedlings leave the greenhouse and get planted out, we’ve also had to set up the watering system and mollycoddle the seedlings until they are well established. Up until today, we’ve been watering by hand several times per day, but now the automatic dripper-hose watering system has been set up on the five garden terraces, and also programmed for action. Other parts of the farm are manually watered, and the job of watering can take up a surprising amount of time each day, so I really appreciate the job the water robot does.

Dripper hoses were laid out in this garden terrace
Plum inspects the job of laying out the dripper hoses on this garden terrace
Dripper hoses provide water to these seedlings for ten minutes three times per day

The farm operates using tank water, and the tanks refill from rainfall collected from the roof spaces for the house and sheds. There is only a finite amount of water stored and available to use, and we’ve found over the years that the dripper hose system is the most effective way to get water to vegetables and berries which require extra watering. The orchards rarely receive any additional water than the stuff that falls out of the sky. Also, as we save seed from year to year, the various plants selected get hardier to the locla conditions.

The greenhouse is also manually watered for a few minutes once each day. The seedlings growing in there don’t require any additional watering.

The seedlings in the greenhouse only require a minute or two of watering each day

The greenhouse is in it’s first season of use, and how we ever managed to grow seedlings in earlier years is a true mystery. The greenhouse has given us a real head start on the growing season. And we’ve begun trialling a lot of new crops, such as two varieties of peanuts. The peanuts have germinated now that the weather is slowly warming up.

Peanuts have germinated over the past week

Despite the reasonably warm to hot weather, the various seedlings planted out seem to be doing OK.

Recently planted out Corn seedlings appear to be growing well

Growing conditions in the many garden beds are very good this season. The many garden beds contain flowering plants of all sorts as well as some small trees like Japanese Maples. All of these plants provide feed and housing for the many reptiles, insects and small birds which live on the farm. Those little critters work hard towards pollinating and pest control on the rest of the farm, and it is rare to have a problem on either front. But really, we also just enjoy the riot of colour. At this time of year, the garden beds explode with growth, and sometimes paths and staircases simply disappear under the foliage.

Ollie ponders crashing through the greenery and bouncing down the stairs

We have a couple of electric mains powered hedge trimmers, which get put to good use trimming back the vegetation. And best of all, the power for these machines comes straight from the sun. The vegetation which gets hacked back and removed is simply thrown onto areas where new garden beds are becoming established. Eventually the stuff breaks down into very rich soil.

The elusive Editor wields an electric hedge trimmer

The job is not finished as it takes a few days to complete. But at least paths are beginning to open up again.

Plum approves that some of the paths are beginning to open up again

And some of the staircases providing important access can now be used again.

Staircases providing access to other parts of the farm can now be accessed

Every month or so I get some guys up to help work around the farm. I call the guys the tree dudes, and they work hard and we have a good long term working arrangement. This week, we got the tree dudes to begin cutting up a collection of logs into discs. The Editor and I will split the discs into chunks of firewood over the next month or so. Believe it or not the logs are well over a decade old – and they are almost as good as the day they were placed there.

The tree dudes worked hard this week cutting up an old pile of logs into discs
Over a decade on the ground, and this log shows much drying, but very little damage from having sat out in the weather all those years

In other farm news:

Fingers crossed that the orchards will produce a reasonable sized crop of fruit this year.

Plums are beginning to put on some size
Apples look set to produce better this year than any previous year

The plants in the fern gully are growing quite well. So far only one tree fern was believed to be dead after last summers two months of crazy hot and dry weather. But no, the tree fern has bounced back from the dead and a new frond is now forming.

A new frond has just appeared in what was thought to be a dead tree fern

Onto the flowers:

The forest floor is full of wildflowers like this Dichondra
Blue Iris’s look spectacular
Red Iris’s are also very showy
This exotic Clematis vine was presumed dead last year, but no
A hedge of Rhododendron’s grow along the driveway above a line of Agapanthus
Gazania’s are very hardy and also very showy
The Succulent terrace is growing very well
Dozens of Roses grow among the vegetables on the terraces
It’s early days but the Blackberry enclosure should supply enough berries for months of jam which is enjoyed during the cold of winter

The temperature outside now at about 8.00am is 16’C (61’F). So far this year there has been 1058.8mm (41.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1036.0mm (40.8 inches).

56 thoughts on “Mirror”

  1. Hey Chris,

    The obsession with US news is very real and, I think, related to the onset of globalsation. US news has become a kind of proxy for “global” news in what is really an ideological war. It is deeply weird to meet Australians who can talk at length on US gun laws, for example. Personally, I couldn’t care less. What Americans do with their gun laws will make not a single skerrick of difference to my life. (I think that’s the first time I’ve used the word skerrick in about twenty years. Welcome back, skerrick).

    What it means in practice is that local issues barely get discussed. That’s quite convenient for the powers-that-be who I’m sure are delighted to have the public blathering on about what’s going in the US. While they’re doing that, they’re not watching what is happening locally.

    We need to get some more entertaining politicians back. Paul Keating’s question time sessions were legendary. I still watch back on some of them every now and then. He knew how to entertain and had fun while doing it.

  2. Hello Chris,
    You look sharp in the photo with the greenhouse. No worries about salt-n-pepper beard. Maybe you shoulder the mantle of Sean Connery.

    And regarding the local newspaper – I imagine that the best outcome for your relationship would be that you assume a role as contributor instead of consumer. It could only win from taking you on as a sharp writer, with an excellent personal editor. Did you ever consider changing role? Apparently they did not give you an offer you couldn’t refuse.

    I guess US elections are a nice diversion from realities where you have to take responsibility. It is a political game with no skin in the game for your press (and I see the same here in Europe). Instead of writing about the reality here on the ground, it is somehow more alluring to cover page after page with opinions about the good-guy-bad-guy drama. One of the worst outcomes of this is that citizens here have much less knowledge about the real decision makers in e.g. the European Commission than vice president candidates and Supreme Court judges in the US.

    I also sense a shift in most of journalism to move away from facts to feelings. It is eerily like the rise of the Romanticism in 1890s, with identity politics echoing nationalism.
    I think there is no nefarious plan behind, just the gentle gradient of money. The media oligarchs here just follow the click-statistics and subsequently increase coverage of outrage.

    In the Netherlands, there are two independent news organizations (De Correspondent and Follow the Money) that are fully funded by readers – no ads and no oligarchs. They have been moderately successful, even though they don’t deliver daily news or sports stats. – maybe you have something similar in Oz?

    Enjoy your reading. I enjoy your writing.

  3. Yo, Chris – Yup. A look in the mirror can be startling. It doesn’t get any better 🙁 . But, I can tell you that inside, you don’t feel the age that the calendar tells you. At the ripe old age of 71, I don’t think my interior life matches the years that have passed. I considered for a moment, “Well, how old do you fell on the inside.” Don’t know. Maybe my brain just feels lively, as I’m so curious about so many things?

    Hmm. Regrets. Sure. But I tend to ignore them. If I’m teetering on the edge of the regrets pit, I just tell myself to think of something more useful or pleasant. Generally works. I have wondered if hell, or purgatory, or whatever is a rubbing your nose in missed opportunities?

    The legal process is all well and good, but it can be fiddled. At least here. And the more money you can throw at a lawyer, the more likely the outcome will fall in your favor.

    As far as the coverage of the American news, it might be a case of “See how good you have it here?” Something I wouldn’t argue with. I think Simon is also right. The local news and concerns get lost in the noise. For survival, our local newspaper (ever thinner and thinner) decided to ignore most national news, and concentrate on State and local. Seems to be working, so far, but they do constantly beg for money.

    The storm cloud picture reminds me of the film “Independence Day”, when the huge alien craft breaks through a similar cloud cover. I see you’ve broken out the sunhat and shorts. Something we won’t see here again, for months. Except among the truly insane.

    I’ll be interested to see how the peanut experiment goes. Not something we could ever grow, here. The corn looks off to a good start.

    The overgrown stairway looks like something I saw in a episode of “Life After People” I watched, the other night. 🙂 . The path that’s been hacked out looks cool and inviting.

    Looks like you have a good start on next year’s (or, the year after?) wood. I split many a round, in my time. But it’s so satisfying.

    The plums and apples look off to a good start. The iris are quit striking, as are the roses. The tree ferns continue to surprise. Maybe they should be called Resurrection Ferns? 🙂 . Although things that come back from the dead, can be a little iffy. I also brought a clematis, back from the dead. Maybe they’re hardier than they appear? Or maybe it was the worm juice I plied them with?

    Lockdown starts at midnight, tomorrow night. My mate Scott said he went very early to the store with walls. Thought he’d beat the crowd. Didn’t happen. Took him and hour and a half to get in and out, and it was a mob scene. Once again, toilet paper has vanished.

    Gave H her bath, won two prints at auction and baked a 2 1/2 dozen banana / everything but the kitchen sink, muffins. Tasty, but a bit spongey and chewy. Lew

  4. Hi Simon,

    Yeah, the obsession is mildly obscene given the very real problems which should be aired and discussed and dissected for general consumption. I’m not really sure, but I sort of have a gut feel that globalisation is ever so slowly unwinding. It would have been an easier ride if we hadn’t chucked manufacturing under the bus with super-low import tarriffs all those years ago. It wasn’t that long ago that we had viable textile and other manufacturing concerns – I used to work in them.

    After Martin Bryant and the unfortunate incident at Port Arthur, we reached a nice middle ground on the gun issue. Mind you, it is a complex matter with no easy path, and one day – off the interweb – I’ll tell you about the time I was accosted by heavily armed constabulary. It is a truly strange tale. Spare a thought for Marcu who unwittingly encountered the end run of that story… Did me no harm at all. 😉

    I couldn’t really care less what the good folks in the US decide to do about guns. It’s an apathetic approach, but it ain’t my business to concern myself with, but yes, I also have been cornered by locals talking about this issue as if they have some skin in the game. A truly bizarre thing to experience. I’ve heard folks with a more than passing familiarity with the Italian language describe the state of mind as: la passione!

    But yeah, US political news bores the daylights out of me. I’m pretty certain President Obama talked about hope and change. I tend to view runs on the board as proof of credentials. It was so weird that the bloke was bestowed peace prizes when there were a number of notable wars being fought at the same time. It reminded me of an amusing take on Star Trek: “We come in peace – shoot to kill”. Yup, if you’re bored check out on utoob: ‘The Firm – Star Trekkin’. Who doesn’t have time for a short clay animation film clip?

    Hehe! Oh yeah, Paul Keating had a very colourful grasp of the English language, and who can forget the phrase: Scumbag! You’ve sent me on a mission…

    The nice folks at Triple J’s youth news Hack team have put together a short: HACK: Auspol’s best political insults.

    I shall now retire from the field having done a stalwart job, and nary a skerrick of dirt was missed in this missive. 😉 Respect!

    Your homework: blink-182 – Bored To Death 🙂



  5. Hi Goran,

    Thanks mate! 🙂 One does what one can given the trying circumstances, but far out, didn’t Sean Connery bite the dust only just recently? On the other hand, 90 is a good innings which we should all aspire to if possible. Ah, the great actor was a man of serious talent, with some foibles. I was quite fond of his roles in both Highlander and also Indiana Jones. And he was a notably suave Bond. His voice, I can still hear in the mind.

    Haha! It may surprise you to know that I used to write for what could be politely named as: The Hippy Press. The last minute demands of the publishers combined with the ever reducing recompense forced me to consider other writing outlets. I write for the joy of creation of words after all. And here we all are today. Good fun, huh?

    Exactly. It matters not a whit to you or I what the outcome is, but the media expects us to care. Like a theatre magician they cry: Look over here, but not over there. I on the other hand are invested in apathy with such news, although I do keep abreast of the headlines just in case important stuff slips on by – which does happen remarkably often. Local news is of importance, however let the greats play out their games, and we shall concern ourselves instead with the health of the local forests and country – for that is where our food derives from.

    You’ll get no argument from me. Serious journalism is expensive and also nuanced. Opinion pieces, well if I can bang out 2,000 words a week in my spare time, I don’t see why the media would be any different. 😉

    Well yes, down here there is the government and mostly independent broadcaster the: Australian Broadcasting Commission. Not to be confused with the American ABC thing with the same acronym.

    Thank you, and it is the ongoing dialogue with people who comment such as yourself which makes the entire blog exercise a thing of joy.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Glad you weren’t outraged by the mirror story. 🙂 I was a bit worried as I mentioned the unmentionable topic of politics in your country and how it looks like to an outsider. But like you I don’t feel my age either, and my mind is also very curious about the world. It is funny, but not everyone has that bug of curiosity firing them along on this here thing called life.

    I saw that in the good Professor’s essay about the wind picking up again on Tuesday. Sucks to be them on Vancouver Island, and I noted that the dreaded St Columbus Day storm was even mentioned. Actually, such news isn’t good and if I saw such low air pressures in the forecast, I’d be battening down the hatches. I have little doubt that with the various climate systems descending here soon, we may experience a super-cell event this summer. The numbers are stacking up.

    It amazes me that such lessons have to be learned and then re-learned. But I noted this article in the news the other day which gives some important lessons to farmers who are in the grip of an epic drought: What drought, La Niña and emotional hardship has taught these farmers about a better future. Lesson number one should not ever be forgotten… You’ll see very little exposed soil here.

    Fair enough about the master gardeners and the coming winter. The local seed group used to continue regular meetings during the winter, but it is warmer here.

    Had another quiet day to catch up on all of the many tasks that had been demanding my attention over the past few months, but which for one reason or another I was unable to get to. Just for one example, a few months ago I obtained some seriously high quality long lasting spare hot water pumps for both the solar and hydronic heater radiators in the house. The spare hot water pumps require adapters so that when they are needed they could simply by swapped into the existing systems. I just had to climb into the roof space, and also under the floor to find out exactly what adapters they required. It is the sort of job that is not urgent, but will probably be needed to be done sooner or later. And later came today. There were a whole bunch of jobs like that today. Oh well, mustn’t grumble.

    Just watched Patrick Stewart in action in I Claudius, and it was gripping stuff. Yes, they have most certainly set their goals high. I read that Sean Connery was offered the role of Gandalf – and his refusal to the role was pretty funny.

    Oh no! You’re now in lock down. Hope you stocked up on TP unlike the unfortunate Scott? To this day, I still don’t understand the toilet paper story. It was a mania from my perspective. The stuff is handy, but how much does a person really need? I tell ya an odd thing from down here. After the news of the day reported on a cluster or two in Adelaide (the capital city of the state of South Australia to the west of the state of Victoria) earlier today, the roads and facilities were quieter. The weekend was feral with people venturing into rural areas from the big smoke.

    The banana is a good idea, and I’ll be curious to hear how the herbs defrost.

    Mate, I don’t get the big wedding thing. It is a personal failing. If people want to get married, just go and do it – even if it means that the event is a trip to the state registry office. They do photos in the Old Mint down here, and it is a beautiful building adjacent I believe to the registry office. The editor and I were married in the dark depths of the recession that we had to have and a small garden ceremony works just as well. I’ve seen a few divorces over the years, and big ceremonies are no protection against such things. The occasional coffee and chocolate in bed is probably a better preventative, but you know I’m into the small things. Grand gestures on the other hand are tiring experiences, and fortunately I avoid them and have plenty of energy to spare on more regular small gestures.

    Your health insurance is a true mystery, with hints of the underlying nightmare. I thought your previous incumbent was going to sort out all that mess once and for all? Easy, I’m just stirring. You have extortionate health costs, we don’t have that, we have exorbitant house prices instead. As is said in Asia: same, same, but different. 🙂 Once printing money is brought to the fore, something has to disappear the excess money supply, otherwise the Bela Lugosi of economic and social nightmares stalks onto the set and gets a bit bitey: Hyper-inflation.

    Speaking of house prices I spotted this: Byron Bay, Bangalow, Coffs Harbour and Wollongong property booms pricing out locals in regional NSW. It’s intriguing.

    What kind of person would rig ballots in a Bird of the Year national vote? It’s outrageous, and I see their most popular Prime Muppet even chimed in with a vote. You know, over there they used to have sheep dog trials shown on TV… They might be onto something though, and I’m gutted that the local sheep dog trials may not go ahead because of the health subject which dare not be named. I was hoping to let Ruby run wild during the trials and see whether she could get knocked up by one of the champion dogs. All about improving the bloodlines, of course… Sometimes you have to indulge a whatever it takes mentality. Hehe! Ah, the mayhem which would ensue at the dog trials with a wild Ruby running free. I doubt we’d win any ‘just for turning up’ awards!

    Was H a proper lady during her bathing activities? And did you bake the banana muffins? Ah, I see the answer is yes. Were they good?

    Exactly, regrets are best not considered. After all, they never were, and that is in their nature. 😉 That’s an uncanny thought about purgatory. Did Dante record that layer? Hmm. Apparently he missed that one. An unfortunate oversight. I get what Dante was trying to achieve, but seriously where is the chance to make good of ones soul? And some of the acts committed to various layers of Hell seem a bit arbitrary to my mind.

    All systems can end badly, and when the practitioners and keepers of the system aren’t held to a higher standard of account than what they ask of others, well… There is a need to not be simply adhering to such high standards, but to also be perceived to be adhering to such high standards. The edifice is an artificial construct after all.

    Independence Day was a fun romp of a film. Speaking of which, we watched: Eat, Love, Brains – and it was a truly excellent low budget film. The actors gave the performances everything they had, and it was a very fun film. Thanks for recommending it.

    I see the shorts and t-shirt thing over the depths of winter down here too. Often such folk are stepping out of oversized vehicles which they sometime leave running, and I’d have to suggest that their houses maybe overheated as well. Hmm.

    This is my second go at growing peanuts. The original experiment was destroyed by Sir Poopy the hungry who dug all of them up and ate them. I was not happy, and they’ll be grown in a fenced off area. They came with inoculum. It is possible I won’t be able to grow them here either. But I try crops out of their zones just to see what happens. I have a tub of ginger in the greenhouse and may grow that in there permanently. I was also eyeing off vanilla orchids for the greenhouse – you never know.

    Life after people sounds like an interesting thought experiment. I see that skyscrapers were destroyed by CGI in the filming. I often wonder about those buildings and their lifespan, and whether they can actually be refurbished. It is one thing to destroy a house like mine – or even a building like you’re in, but a skyscraper would create a whole bunch of damage.

    Thanks, and yes, firewood is the only source of heating for the house, and we take the activity very seriously.

    Yeah, the tree fern was super-tough to come back from the dead. After a fire they are one of the first plants to recover, so you can only imagine the evolutionary challenges which prompted such adaptions? And Clematis likewise seem very hardy. The native Clematis vines turn up all over the forest here. Super hardy, and super prolific.

    What were the prints depicting?



  7. Hello Chris
    Our news consists of similar obsessions though Brexit has succeeded in raising its head again.
    Unfortunately finance and who you know, helps to corrupt our planning laws. Probably all laws as law and justice are not the same thing and don’t even think of fairness which is a hopeless concept anyhow.
    The only regrets that I have, concern nice things left unsaid. Once someone has died it is too late.
    I remarked to Son one day, that if I was so unfortunate as to return for another life, I wanted to be an eagle. His response was that I would be told that there were enough eagles and that I would have to be a turkey. My comment on Christmas dinner was responded to with the information that I would be delighted as it meant that I would no longer have to look at my reflection in my drinking water.
    Your greenery growth is incredible but it looks nice.


  8. Yo, Chris – That was an interesting article on the farming. Yup. Ground cover. But I was also taken with “Don’t count your chickens…”

    I’m having a puttering day, myself. Made oatmeal for a few days … a big bowl of rice. Freezing bananas is up next. It’s rather an enforced puttering day, and speaking of tech …

    Trapped! – Well … poop (being a family friendly blog, and all). Went out to go to the Club, and my truck wouldn’t start. Battery is fine. My door locks have been a little hinkey, (a highly scientific and technical term) lately. Couldn’t get in the driver door, had to use the passenger door. But, when I opened the driver door to get out, I get a fast clicking noise from around the glove compartment. I poked around on the internet. Might be a fuse, might be something else.

    So. I’ll give Frank the mechanic a call, tomorrow morning. See what he thinks. Might have to have it towed into his place, but he may tow, himself. Or, come fix it on the spot. I love Frank!

    Well, heck, I had a whole bag of muffins to take to the Club. Might be the last time it’s open, for a month. I called to let them know I was alive, and asked my fiancee, JoAnn about that. See if they’ll stop meetings, but keep the Club open. Someone is calling the Governor’s office for “clarification” and the Board is meeting, tonight.

    42 rolls of toilet paper is the optimum. Plus, I’ll be able to swap for gold, guns or canned goods, again. 🙂 . I think the toilet paper fixation may be a case of “if I have this one thing under control, everything is under control.” It’s why a dish never lingers in my sink.

    Herbs defrost? What herbs defrost? I think I’m going to freeze up some of those muffins. Can be done.

    Actually, Cheyenne’s wedding was going to be a very small affair. But with “you know what” the venue was the problem. They had planned on a facility, in the woods, overlooking a lake. Not very expensive. Speaking of Cheyenne, I think I mentioned she just got her realtors license. She’s showing a lot of properties, as people are flooding in from all over the United States.

    That was an interesting article, about house prices. Same, same here. Local people can’t afford their homes anymore, and service people can’t find housing in the communities they serve. Not only do we have extortionate health cost, but also housing.

    Pimping out Ruby? Shame! 🙂 . Maybe she has her own ideas.

    Maybe hell changes with the times?

    Glad you liked “Eat, Love, Brains.” I saw another trailer, for a movie, that I think I’ll like. Now, I steer clear of slasher movies (Elm Street, Halloween, etc. etc.). But there’s a new one where the slasher, and his victim (blond, high school girl) switch bodies, due to an ancient Aztec dagger. It’s called “Freaky” and the trailer looks good. Well, if you can have funny zombie movies, I suppose you can have funny slasher films. Although a few other parodies have been done.

    The two prints I got were “1861 Summer Fruits.” And, one called “Mary Jane.” (Not a botanical print.) It went very cheaply and I was quit taken with her blue dress. Lew

  9. Hi Chris,

    Clever covert meaning in last week’s blog title. I must reread the book. Perhaps with the benefit of age I’ll figure out Minderbinder’s egg economy.

    Your gardens are an inspiration. I keep hoping that a tech savy nephew who has a drone will visit you and take some drones-eye-view photos of your terraces. A bit like having a mirror over your vegetable beds. There is a lovely example at the RHS fruit and veg garden at Rosemoor.

    Cheers Elbows.

  10. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, you would think that maintaining ground cover would be obvious, but it isn’t, but mostly it gets practiced because ploughing yields results. Eventually though, the results diminish. With the vegetable rows here, I lift the weeds manually and then apply another layer of compost and also this year two applications of blood and bone over the rows. It works, but really, my techniques used don’t scale so well, although I have heard of some interesting drill planting techniques. But eventually, fields have to be left fallow, or seriously rotated, otherwise the soil gets played out. The other interesting point that was discussed was that of a diversity of farming endeavours, and so the farmer who lost her wheat to hail, could fatten her calves on the failed grains. But I suspect farms long ago had a far greater diversity of crops than they do nowadays, and I’ve heard tales of old school farms who maintained epic vegetable gardens for the families consumption.

    Puttering days are nice, and ya get to recharge the bodies batteries. I’m going to have an early night tonight too. Worked in the big smoke today and we went out for dinner at a Vietnamese street food restaurant, and then stopped in to get some gelato for dessert. Yum! I didn’t see pumpkin flavour, but I chose two scoops in a waffle cone with passionfruit and also coffee flavours. Very tasty.

    Anyway, we generally walked around and checked the action. As a general observation it was mostly young folks out and about enjoying the warm spring air, and the editor and I were among the oldest folks around. A fair few businesses looked shut and not about to open anytime soon. Hmm.

    Oh no! Did you manage to get onto Frank the mechanic? I hope you are keeping an eye on the new and used car market as things are a bit tight on the supply side: Global shortage of new cars leaves car yards nearly empty and forces used car prices up.

    Hope the Club is OK as it is kind of important to the lives of the individuals involved in it?

    Well yes, DJ called that number for toilet paper rolls, and yes, lets not tempt the awfulness. Hmm, thanks for your thoughts in the toilet paper matter, and I can see that. I’ve seen people lose their control of their lives and then watched some people respond by latching onto one aspect of their life with a grim determination – whilst the rest spins around and around and out of control.

    Hey, I like a clean kitchen! And no doubt your days in the commercial kitchen, what do they call it (slinging hash?) have possibly also instilled a need for order in such a place?

    Now I don’t know for sure, but I once met a banana grower who told me that bananas were a herb. Because I’m me, I then when onto ask him: So what exactly is a herb? Well, he didn’t know, and I was on a banana plantation and there was no dictionary or encyclopedia of any sort near to hand in those days.

    Good to hear that Cheyenne (a lovely name too) was going to have a small affair. Sorry, I sometimes get on my high horse about that issue. And hey, rural areas have become hot property even down here too. I’m not sure exactly what it means, but we may be in a new normal, and people may sense that, but I really don’t know. What I also wonder about is: What the heck do all these people think they’re going to do up here in the bush? Beats me. I reckon the first winter will scare off most, then the second winter will get a few more, and possibly the ones that can get through those two might have a chance of staying for a longer period of time.

    Yeah, exactly. I’ve read accounts that some local towns have so few young folks in them because of the high house prices – and this is usually a tourist town problem – that they can’t field a footy or netball team. Like, what?

    Very true, Ruby does have her own ideas…

    Actually it is funny you mention that film, but I saw it mentioned in our news. Freaky film spins horror and comedy from body swap of middle-aged serial killer and high school girl. Vince Vaughn is an excellent actor.

    Ah, Robert Burns! But of course. A true great. Thus the Highland Mary, I presume?



  11. Hi Inge and Elbows,

    Thanks for the lovely comments, but truly I am tired and off to bed early tonight. I’m recharging my batteries which have been a bit drained of late, not by any of my hobbies or here at the blog, but from caring for others.

    Promise to reply tomorrow.



  12. Hi, Chris!

    “Age is just how old you are.” – Hank Kimball, County Agent, quoting his grandfather on “Green Acres”, 1960s TV.

    I rarely read or watch news. I just let people tell me about it.

    As for legal systems: Just comply – when you have to.

    I wish our politicians had a sense of humor. Or maybe it is the collective American citizenry. We take politics way too seriously for something that we really have no control over.

    Best storm cloud photo ever!

    What a wonderful drip hose system that is. I think you have nailed it.

    The gravel floor of your greenhouse is as attractive as it is practical.

    Ollie – Jungle Dog. That’s a beautiful shot of the “secret” path with the brazier at the end. Is that a boulder that I see on the left?

    Isn’t it interesting how each year a different fruit dominates?

    The gazanias are marvelous. I never see red flowers here until way into summer.


  13. Hi Chris,
    As Lew said, just wait. Helps to keep the lights low when looking in a mirror :).

    I hear you about the news which is why I don’t spend too much time reading it – at least mainstream news. We get our local paper, which just continues to shrink, online now.

    Australia has had some colorful politicians to be sure.

    I’m quite interested to hear your comparison between direct seeded and transplants.

    Doug went to the oral surgeon for a consultation but still wants to talk to our regular dentist who is an old friend. He was told that the entire process can take up to 8 months. The cost takes one breath away. He doesn’t have to start right away so can probably make it through the holidays.

    My newish (six months old) string trimmer stopped working and I still had a little to do before winter. The good news without much effort on our part it is being replaced. The pictures of all your growth over the paths made me think if it.

    Hope you’re having a restful day.


  14. @Claire
    Thanks for your kind words. Wanted to relay a funny story about my brother, Marty. You might recall that he is described as high functioning autistic. Well another sister had called him to tell of our cousin’s passing. In typical Marty fashion he said, “Oh God! but it really won’t effect me much as I wasn’t close to her like I am with my sisters. Marty always tell it like it is.


  15. Yo, Chris – Yup. Bone and blood meal. A yearly light dusting of wood ash and lime. And, I usually have a plastic bag full of kitchen scraps (tea bags, banana peels, egg shells, apple cores, etc.) to bury in the garden, every week and a half, or so. As much as I can, I plant things in different spots, year to year.

    Down the rabbit hole … yup. Bananas are an herb, distantly related to ginger. I thought maybe the banana grower you had talked to, was smoking his own banana peels 🙂 . Hmmm. That’s a cultural reference, you may not get, being young and all. Back in the 60’s, there was this rumor, that if you baked banana peels, they could be smoked for a “high.” Didn’t work. Was a total put on.

    I forgot that you mentioned possibly growing vanilla. Well … good luck.


    I had read about the history of vanilla, in one of my food books. You may remember that rose water was used, until the enslaved young man, in the article, figured out how to hand pollinate the plant. The cost of the vanilla plunged, and more people could afford it. Rose water for cooking, pretty much fell out of use. But, you’ll have pretty flowers … at least for a morning.

    Sounds like a great trip into the Big Smoke, with good tucker. Other businesses will fill those empty spaces … eventually. The lure of being your own boss never goes away.

    I haven’t done anything about the truck, yet. Maybe, tomorrow. Today, that storm is coming in. We’re already getting wind gusts to 28mph. And, it’s early yet. Besides, I’m a little morose, today. That darned lump on my back is making is annual reappearance. Fourth year? Fifth year? Think I’ll skip the doctor visit, this time around. Last year, they wouldn’t even look at it until it started draining. Then slapped antibiotic cream and a bandaid on it and sent me on my way. I can do that, on my own. But it’s just so dreary to think of a couple of weeks of hot packs, etc.. The Drill.

    I’m not worried about having to replace the truck. I’m sure it will be just a repair job. If more things start going wrong (as they do) then I’ll start thinking about it. Cost benefit analysis, and all that.

    The Club is closed until mid December. Saw it on-line, this morning. Oh, well, if I’m feeling nostalgic, I can always get a cuppa and sit on the bench out front. It helps. No word on the library, yet. We had 114 new cases, yesterday.

    People are getting the idea that they can move to the bush and work on-line, or run their businesses on line. Might work down there, but here, anything out of a big city is iffy. I think I read somewhere that Bulgaria has better coverage, than we do. But, what with on-line schooling, there’s getting more play in the media as to how retched things are in the boonies, as far as internet access goes. And, maybe Musk’s communication satellite net, might pan out.

    Not Highland Mary. Just plane old “Mary Jane.” I think I mentioned, that Currier and Ives, all through it’s history, did prints of what I call Victorian Cheesecake. Just pretty girls to dress up a bachelor’s quarters. 🙂 . Here’s an example of the one I’m getting.


    But this one is a bit faded. The one I’m getting, the young ladies dress is a vivid blue. Funny you should mention Highland Mary. The seller does have a print of Bobby Burns and Highland Mary. And she has a vivid blue dress. But, somehow, it didn’t appeal. Maybe it’s the idea of an old boyfriend, hanging about? 🙂 Lew

  16. Hi Inge,

    It’s a bit cheeky, but Brexit seemed a bit ‘best two of three’ votes. I was surprised that the media got it so wrong the first time around, and then even more wrong the second time around. Even down here in our news media, there was so much noise, one could hardly think straight! I see that withdrawal from the Customs Union and the Single Market looks set to occur rather shortly. Only weeks away, in fact. Tensions might be running high in some quarters of your country, but history tells me that your country is travelling on the right path for the future.

    Well, that’s the thing isn’t it? And yes, it’s a problem as far as I can understand such things. The legal system more or less under pins the culture which we live in, and so of course anyone with adequate resources and half a brain, will try and manipulate the system – and hence the culture – for their own benefit. In some ways, and I’d be curious as to your perspective, but the damage to the culture is perhaps collateral damage, but that is only a guess on my part. I do worry about people who leave their kids in front of screens, because who knows what messages get chucked in there? We’ve become a rather passive culture in a very short period of time. There is very little counter culture these days – and sometimes I joke to the editor that growing produce for your own consumption and harvesting resources from the land around you, is a very subversive act.

    Oh my, your words were a beautiful sentiment. Thank you for the words, and if it means anything to you I will incorporate them into my worldview. Beautifully spoken.

    Hehe! Your conversation with your son was a hoot! Thanks very much for the laughs. 🙂

    When the plants decide to grow here, they really do put on a lot of growth. In some ways, it is a boom and bust environment, and right now I’m in the midst of a boom. Water use has been something of a gamble this spring, but I generally leave good quantities in reserve in case my gamble does not pay off.

    For your interest, some of the seeds planted in the vegetable rows have only just begun germinating in the past few days (zucchini, tomato and pumpkin), and I’m fast approaching the official end to spring. We’re trialling seedlings versus direct sown seeds. It can be a very brief growing season here, and I never really know how things will turn out. But the greenhouse has provided a substantial benefit – much to my amazement.



  17. Hi Elbows,

    Hehe! Well I do indulge in a touch of over-subtlety from time to time, but what the heck – it’s fun! Well, yeah you’ve got me there, as unlike your good self, I have not read the book, but should probably should remedy this lack. My education was good, but in some ways it was vastly lacking in depth. It happens.

    Your comment regarding eggs intrigued my canny senses. It’s in the blood sorry to say, but yeah. And eggs being most useful and stuff. With eggs in mind, I read further into the depths of this perhaps amoral character and noted the analysis: “complete amorality without self-awareness, and his circular logicality.” Weren’t such cultural traits celebrated at one time in that particular country? And always were the fires of that ideal stoked. To be honest, it is probably something of a character flaw as I just didn’t understand the egg deal either, and that was after several minutes of solid cogitation time. A shame that, as there may have been a crucial titbit of information hidden in there.

    Moving on… The most excellent author Michael Lewis of “The Big Short” fame wrote a book (which I have read and own a copy of) which was titled: “Liar’s Poker”, and the book followed his journey through the murky world of mercantile banking. My understanding was that the author penned the book as a cautionary tale. Other people understood the book to be a ‘how to’ manual, thus proving that there can sometimes be unintended consequences.

    Well, as long as said nephew announced himself beforehand, the hapless drone might not be shot out of the sky. Honestly, it would save me a bunch of hard work producing a map… 🙂

    Thanks for the link, although it is hard to grasp the scale of the gardens from that perspective. The RHS gardens look beautiful. I hope somebody eats that produce?



  18. Hi Pam,

    My education is certainly banging along nicely thanks to the lovely people who comment here. Who even knew there were things such as County Agents? And Hank Kimball certainly knew his bidness. I like ideas people such as hapless County Agents, cause they kinda have ideas. That’s nice. They can have ideas over here, or even over there, they can ideas everywhere. 😉 But do the ideas work, and will they pay for the mess left over when their ideas don’t work? An important question that one, or was that two questions? Hehe!

    Well that is the thing isn’t it? You hint at wiggle room – and I hear ya! Best not make oneself a soft target is how I see that world.

    Pam, honestly I can’t argue with you there about the politics stuff, it just beats me why I’m hearing about it in our media – and as Simon quite rightly suggested, people down here have opinions – which I do my best to make fun of without getting them too upset. ‘Haven’t met the guy, is he OK?’ seems to stifle many an unsolicited rant.

    The clouds were pretty awesome, and the thunder kept Ruby up at night, which in turn kept me up – an unwise option for the young Kelpie dog. Some dogs feel the need to respond to thunder, other dogs hide under the bed. I prefer the dogs that hide under the bed. The clouds by the way were: Mammatus cloud.

    Thanks about the watering system, as water is a scarce resource here and I can’t afford to muck around with the stuff. To get those watering systems working just right has taken years of trial and error. And the plants get more drought hardy every year.

    The greenhouse has simply blown me away. I’m left wondering how I got through earlier growing seasons without it. Dunno at all. A true mystery.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags to you and yours and especially Mr Dumpy. Ah yes, the boulder is THE boulder. Of course being ‘the’ boulder, it was subject to much discussion way back in the day about blowing the thing up. How much fun would that have been, and we had ‘a guy’ onsite who wanted to do so, but cooler heads prevailed. It is of note that cooler heads have now changed their mind in this most important matter. But time moves on and the house was built around the boulder.

    Yeah, that does interest me as well. Fruit trees need an off year in order to recover from their previous year’s fruit production. I have no idea how commercial orchards avoid this, but it is plain for me to see here. The almond crop will be a bit light on this year, but apples look set to fill in the gaps. And not all varieties of fruit trees crop at the same rate. Oh yeah, it is a complex thing, that’s for sure.



  19. Hi Margaret,

    Hehe! Thanks for the excellent advice, and yes some forms of lighting is rather harsh. 🙂 Actually on a serious note, over the years I have swapped out most of the lights on the property (as they die) with warm white LED’s which produces a lovely soft yellow colour of light. The harsh blue-white light which some people seem to like, feels very unpleasant to my senses. And yes, mirrors can be a harsh judge. Best they were elsewhere, huh? I’d like to suggest that with age comes character. Yes, that is my story and I’m sticking to it!!!

    By way of comparison, the local papers still get published down here, and I’m guessing the advertising revenue from real estate is perhaps propping up those endeavours. But online advertising has hit these guys pretty hard. There have been legislative moves of late to redirect advertising revenue back to these mastheads, but we’ll see. It was bizarre to read of articles on the interweb suggesting that this move was somehow all unfair and stuff, and content should be free.

    Mind you, many local newspapers have bit the dust in the past year or so.

    I gave up writing for money years and years ago, and now just enjoy the act of creation – without all of the hassles that previous efforts brought me. And truly, they couldn’t take the volume of content anyway.

    Glad you enjoyed the journey into the murky world of politics down under style. You could probably boil it all down to the fact that we’re probably a fairly pragmatic culture and we worry less about character and foibles and more about whether they are getting the job done looking after interests, and not creating too much of a fuss.

    Well, it is an interesting experiment, that’s for sure. The greenhouse has provided an extraordinary advantage for seedlings we’ve raised. We haven’t purchased any seedlings at all this year. So far the seedlings planted out last week (without hardening off) seem to be almost double the size they were. And some of the seed sown in the same beds has only just germinated in the past day or so. Still, the race is long, and summer can be brutal, so time will tell. But right now, the seedlings are winning by a country mile. And the open pollinated saved and purchased corn seed transplanted just fine.

    Exactly, get a second opinion from one who doesn’t have a direct financial interest in the treatment. Always time well spent, and um, good luck too, I’m thinking of both of you.

    Well unfortunately we can’t mention brands here, unless it is a positive experience… Sorry, the legulz system is bonkers down here. But I’m getting mine from the local farm machine repair folks and I expect they’ll look after me regardless, and the item is a Stihl.

    Hope you continue to enjoy the flowers and vistas throughout your winter. 🙂

    Thanks very much for your kind well wishes. Yeah, I’m feeling a bit tired as my energies have been spent ensuring others keep on keeping on. This period of bidness craziness shall pass, but perhaps not right now.



  20. Hi Inge (again),

    Sorry, I almost forgot to mention that I do hope that your daughter is OK, and it seems that her state is getting the royal treatment now. Hmm. From here it is like watching a slow motion car crash.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you haven’t lost your hat in all the winds? Far out! The good Professors latest update reads like a horror story. I don’t fancy the chances for your remaining peas surviving the storm.

    Yes, the blood and bone plus wood ash and lime are all things that I have added to the rows since the past autumn. All good stuff, and what amazes me is how the minerals get absorbed down into the soil. I can’t really say for sure I understand that particular process, although I’m certain that various soil critters of all sizes, right down to the microscopic get a feed. Still, I don’t rightly know what goes on. Oh, as I have lots of coffee grounds, I chucked on those as well. It is bizarre just how quickly the stuff disappears. Are you still managing (or perhaps now, were managing) to score the coffee grounds from the Club?

    I hear you about the food scraps being dug into the garden – it is after all a much lower stress and just as productive way to run a worm farm. I’ll tell ya a funny story about digging in food scraps. When we first bought the block of land, it actually had little to no top soil. So every week I used collect all of the food and kitchen scraps and dig them into the clay – digging into that hard baked ground was like hitting concrete. Anyway, I’d mix the clay back into the food scraps and without fail, every week some critter would dig up all of the food scraps and eat them. There was just so little for the wildlife to eat back in those days. I didn’t worry too much about it because the wildlife did their business all over the place and the dung beetles slowly and surely dragged the stuff back into the earth.

    Thanks for the reminder regarding crop rotation, and I’m yet to get my head around how that particular system will work. It is important, and I suspect that as time goes on it will become abundantly clear just how important crop rotation is. But for now bringing organic matter in is fairly easy.

    What? No way! I didn’t know that about bananas being distantly related to ginger. Actually I’m trying to get a ginger tuber to sprout in the greenhouse. Hopefully, I don’t run out of space in there… Imagine that… Thanks for the banana cultural reference too as I hadn’t heard of that activity. People are very inventive, even when they get it completely wrong – like in that example.

    OK. Vanilla seems like a waste of time which could be spent doing other more productive things. Mate, growing proper wasabi here would be easier. Far out. I’m a bit lax for such precision, although I have little doubt that it would be a lucrative crop.

    Rose water will be also no doubt easier, and packed with Vitamin C. Plus we grow a lot of roses, which are beginning to bloom. One rose died, but it was a sickly thing and we moved it a few weeks ago. I haven’t removed it from the ground yet, but it’s on notice to recover or else. Oooo, I sounded like Dirty Harry then! 🙂 Who’s we? Me and worm juice, that’s who. Hehe!

    I tend to believe you have the right of it. But before other businesses utilise the unused shop front premises a whole lot of pain has to occur whilst cost bases are err, adjusted downwards. Of course, the same thing can happen with money simply being made worth less. That’s a possibility too.

    The interesting story is that the businesses which continued to trade during the shut down period (as take away businesses) are some of the best performing businesses there now. Shutting down always introduces the risk that customers can go elsewhere, and then become used to that retailer instead.

    Yeah, that makes sense about the truck – and I’d do (and have done so) the same. What continually fascinates me is that the 2004 dirt rat appears to be much better made from a longevity perspective than both earlier and latter vehicles. There is a story in there.

    Sorry to hear that the Club is closed, but it is probably for the best. I get that about the nostalgia. During our eight month lock down (and the state of South Australia has just been plunged into lock down today) is that I continued to do work arounds for my usual routines. I tell ya what though, take away pizza and beer outside – but undercover – on a cold wet winters night when the air temperature is near freezing was an experience, and few if any others had the guts to support the local pub. I was worried that the business might not survive and the local community would be lesser for the outcome.

    Interweb service here is pretty good mostly because the government half owns the largest telco, so there is some element of providing services to otherwise non profitable areas. And the Federal Government stumped the cash for a whole bunch of rural cell phone towers. Actually when the lock down was at its peak, service here was fine, but in metropolitan areas I often tried to call folks and their networks were busy (i.e. overloaded).

    Bulgaria probably has better service than here too! 🙂 I came across a similar comparison years ago.

    I’d like to believe that putting more satellites up in orbit was not going to eventually trigger a series of cascading failures, but I dunno. Some of the stuff moves around pretty fast up there – and there is always the chance of a random accident from a natural event such as a floating chunk of space rock hitting one of them. Dunno.

    That’s true, and the lock down here served as a timely reminder as to how few amenities there were in some areas. I have virtually no services here, but that was a choice thing – other than the mail, I would have liked to have had the mail delivered here, but oh well.

    I see, and the print has a lady with a blue dress, without a suitor in sight. 🙂 Hey, the editor was talking with me about colours the other day – she is reading a book on the subject – and apparently blues are quite a difficult colour to manufacture.

    Oh you’re good. Never thought about the print that way, but yes your perspective is a valid concern. Hmm.



  22. Chris,

    Things are at a momentary lull, so I thought I’d check in. Unfortunately, the lull appears to be a temporary respite only…

    The hat you’re wearing in some of the pictures is wonderful. I have one that’s very similar that I wear when outdoors in the summer. Priceless that hat is.

    The picture of Ollie at the top of the stairs is fantastic. Thanks also for the dichondra photo. I seem to have some that volunteered itself in some areas. Now I know what it is!

    Like you, I often wonder “Who is that bloke looking at me from the mirror? Surely that’s not me?!?”

    I happen to know within 2 guesses where your missing snorkeling Prime Minister is. Either he is with Elvis at Elvis’s eternal gig at the Big Bang Burger Barn, or else he is with Jimmy Hoffa. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jimmy_Hoffa

    And the other guy “Died on the job”. Bwahahaha! Hilarious.

    Here’s the highlights. Many of these running chainsaws that I’ve been juggling are still in the air.

    One of the sisters of the Princess has (temporarily?) moved in with us. She is a nice addition to the household, provides occasional hilarious points of view and assists with things when her health allows.

    A young cousin of the Princess died a few weeks back. After she and sister returned, their other sister was hospitalized, NOT the unmentionable. Very serious though, and the small rural hospital had one more Hail Mary to try before sending her to a larger hospital ICU. The final attempt sorta worked, kinda didn’t, but by that point, the LONE available ICU bed on this side of the Cascades was no longer available.

    ICU beds are in short supply because the unmentionable has gone parabolic in this region. It’s actually more a shortage of nurses than beds locally. Burnout. Nuff said.

    I see that Lew mentioned we’re on lockdown again, or very close to that. Naturally, that means that there is something unavailable in the stores again this week. Yup, another run on toilet paper! Still don’t know why that happens. Fortunately, we are above the suggested supply of 42 rolls, having 50 on hand at the moment. I saw this coming 2 months ago and made preparations.

    Problems are becoming apparent with a key officer in the carving club. As the prez, I’m having to deal with this. Said problem is a friend, so this is extra difficult and very time consuming. This added turmoil is most unwelcome right now, but, ya know, just do what needs to be done.

    More snow occurred. Twice, although the latest event had just a skiff. By that afternoon, temperatures were over +5C, the roads were wet, so I ventured out on an errand. Traffic stopped in front of me, I stopped, but the fool behind me was following much too closely and banged into me. Right rear bumper damage, hatchback door issues, but no injuries. He and his local insurance guy have been very pleasant and took responsibility, but the home office of their company is being difficult. Again, more time consuming stuff. It must be stressed, however, that there were NO INJURIES. Physics rules! First, it was a moderately low speed collision. Second, and very importantly when being rear ended, I was at a complete stop. That fact minimized any potential whiplash injury, as did my knowing it was coming so already had my head against the headrest behind me.

    The sun is shining today. The leaves have mostly fallen, but due to high winds, it looks like my leaf supply will be about 60% of normal, as many blew away. So, raking leaves and indoor projects will be on tap tis week.

    Oh, and we finished watching Game of Thrones. Enjoyed it. I missed something in an early episode, so watched the first 2 again. I saw what I had missed the first time and everything made perfect sense.


  23. Yo, Chris – Looks like British Columbia got the worst of the storm. Our wind here simmered around gusts to 30mph. With lots of rain. We might actually get some clearing, around Friday and Saturday.

    I’m always amazed that when I bury kitchen scraps, I have a little mound. And in a few days, it goes from convex to concave. 🙂 . And I have to watch stepping on it, as it’s usually very soft.

    So far, wildlife hasn’t been a problem with the kitchen scraps. But I may have seen a rat, around the gardens, last night about dusk. I’m hoping it was one of our squirrels, but, it just didn’t quit move like a squirrel. It was moving very fast, and I didn’t get a good look at it. So, I’m keeping it to myself. No sense causing panic in the ranks 🙂 .

    Might as well give vanilla a try. The flowers are very pretty. I wonder if it would naturalize, in your forest? If you get pods, then something is pollinating it. Be a fearless gardener!

    If the rose doesn’t respond favorably to a shot or two of worm juice (and a nice chat), then it’s days are numbered.

    I see South Australia was locked down. There was also an article about the people to the north not buying some of your commodities. Wine, among other things was mentioned. Other foreign markets can be found, but it’s a disruption. I wish you’d ship us some of your olive oil. But I’ve never seen Australian olive oil, on offer.

    Yup. Space junk is a problem. The good old Kessler Syndrome. I see a comet the size of a pick up truck zoomed within 240 miles of earth. In one of those coincidences, a few nights ago I was rummaging around on You Tub and watched a docudrama about a comet hitting the earth. Same size and place as the dinosaur killer. So, you had a lot of talking heads, and in between, they followed different people in different parts of the world. Docudramas can be pretty interesting. There’s a few floating around. There was one on what it would be like if the Yellowstone caldera went up. And, another I remember, about the flooding of London.

    Blue is an interesting color and has quit a history. A couple of years ago, I read a book about it. “Blue: The History of a Color,” (Pastoureau, 2018.) There’s also “Indigo: In Search of the Color that Seduced the World,” (McKinley.)

    The real estate bubble seems to have reached Idaho. My friends were also commenting on how the price of rentals, has gone through the roof. Lew

  24. Hello Chris
    I had a long telephone call today from the daughter in SA. She did say that she was very glad that she had a garden. Actually a 6 day lockdown doesn’t seem very long.
    Ha! I gather from the news that this one is a mutation. Usually they seem to be denying mutations. Of course they have to as it makes the efficiency of vaccinations more problematic.
    I must be a bit thick as I didn’t quite understand what it was that you wanted my view on.
    Now to watch ‘I am a celebrity get me out of here’, I am enjoying the Welsh castle.


  25. Hi Lewis,

    Yes, all very exciting today. Definitely not in your realms of exciting, as in an intense midlatitude cyclone sort of exciting. Incidentally, I’m glad to hear that you didn’t get to re-experience a Columbia Day storm repeat, as that would be a bad thing. But yeah, back to here, very exciting as I replaced the interweb modem and, um, I’m still on the air and everything seems to be working with the new equipment. 🙂 My expectations are perhaps low when it comes to all things computers, so when taking a gamble and conducting an upgrade to the system here, well, that is perhaps way too much excitement for my brain. Given your laptop, I kind of believe that you also see little reason to mess with computers when they more or less work.

    The interweb modem in my case was failing, and I was in danger of dropping off the air. Can’t really afford for that to happen as the nature of business nowadays forces me onto the interweb. But, deep breath, it all seemed to work. The nice folks at the telco shop helped too.

    Had a seriously hot night last night, and the pollen count in the air has gone to bonkers levels due to the good growing season. Went down to the nearby town and picked up a set of sheets for the bed which are made of bamboo fibres. Bamboo fibre is a really nice material and is great in hot weather, not as good as linen, but yeah that is unaffordable. Bamboo fibre is mostly known as the material viscose. A funny name that, but I’m sure there is a story there.

    It is amazing at how little remains from organic material buried, and from watching organic materials compost over the years I can see that you start with a whole bunch of stuff, and it soon leaves very little soil.

    Rats are everywhere. If they can suddenly turn up here out of the blue – and I sure didn’t bring them up (that I know of), well they’re everywhere. They create quite a stink when they unfortunately die under the floor of a house. Wow. An unforgettable smell. And wise to not notify the ladies of the rat situation.

    Fearless, maybe. Having a sixth sense for vanilla flowers forming and then being able to get the fertilisation just right, my gut feeling suggests to me that this may be a task that is beyond my skills. Actually it is interesting but the forest should have a vine layer, and it is a bit sparse, and only slowly developing. We have a couple of varieties of vines, but none with any great age.

    The rose is looking very quiet and crispy… And not responding to kind words either.

    Gotta bounce as I spent all of my free time today on the modem. Will continue tomorrow when things are less hectic. Sorry.



  26. Hello Chris
    I have just heard the biggest explosion that I have ever heard in my life. It was already up on the internet when I looked. Apparently it was a planned demolition at the old oil refinery across the water on the mainland near Southampton. Many Islanders thought that it was an earthquake as their homes shook. Mine didn’t.


  27. @ Lew:

    I think that is the one thing I don’t have in the garden – rats. Ol’ W.C. the Raccoon is back for the winter. He is the one who loves fermented pineapples, of which there are none right now. All summer I buried our kitchen scraps in the empty spaces in the garden beds and nothing bothered them. But everybody is hungry now and W.C. digs them up as fast as I bury them. I have tried this: Filling a large old horse feed bucket of very heavy rubber with water and placing it over the spot. It doesn’t exactly work to deter him, but it is pretty funny to watch it sink as he digs under it. He also uses it to wash his dinner first, raccoons being very dainty about dirt (?!). One point for me, one point for him?


  28. Hi Chris,

    Your Prime Muppets are much more interesting than our Presidents. Did anyone think to look for the missing PM behind the sofa or under the sofa cushions? He might be a little too large to fit in either place, however. 😉

    As for what is happening here, I spent the last two days before our current kinder and gentler lockdown took effect getting the remaining physical items from my mother’s estate out of our living area and on the way to various siblings. My mother had a lot of framed photos and other framed wall art. I spent several hours last Sunday removing the art from the frames so as to avoid paying the extra money to mail the frames as well as the art. Then I donated the frames to a local thrift store. I wish I had been exposed to thrift stores when I was growing up; I would have bought a lot fewer new goods when I was starting out. Mike was the person who introduced me to them. My parents were upwardly mobile and thought new was better than used in all cases. That may have been the case more often in their day, but certainly less so now.

    It’s been a near-ideal autumn so far for gardening, with lovely bok choy and Chinese cabbage plants as well as many radishes and turnips remaining in the garden for good eating. I’ll leave them there as long as possible. The garden bed is much bigger than the refrigerator or our improvised root cellar.

    I hope the new modem is still working!


  29. Yo, DJ – Good to hear from you. I was wondering how my fellow Washingtonian, was doing. And how things are, over on the Dry Side.

    I’m glad everything came out ok on your fender bender. Just watch. They’ll try and declare you car “totaled.” Lew

  30. Yo, Chris – I’d say, it’s been long enough since the Columbus Day Storm, that we’re probably due for a repeat. It was sunny, awhile ago, but now, ominous clouds are moving in. But, tomorrow and Saturday are supposed to be nice.

    Fingers crossed for your new modem. Actually, my computer weighs a lot, and would be very uncomfortable in my lap 🙂 . No, it’s a great beast of a thing, that sits on top of a two drawer filing cabinet. My computer “desk.”

    Well, if linen sheets are too expensive, try silk 🙂 . Yup, I’d say bamboo is a very underutilized resource. Like hemp. But I didn’t know you could make cloth, from it. I worked in a library once, where the check out desk was made from bamboo timber. Tough as. I’ve seen flooring, but don’t know how it holds up, in the long run.

    Who knows. Maybe there’s an Australian insect that has vanilla pollination in it’s skill set.

    My Currier and Ives prints, arrived yesterday. Up close an personal, Mary Jane, is a knock out. There’s something about her that reminds me of the work of the English artist Gainsborough (d.1788). She’s not a direct knock off. She was printed in about 1850. But I wonder if the C&I artist, had seen some Gainsboroughs? I went back and looked at the Library of Congress copy of the print. Thought they might have identified an artist. Nope. But I did notice that what I thought was fading in that print, was actually a different color dress. More a dove gray. Mine is a definite blue. (Earworm: “Devil in a Blue Dress.”) Which might be why she reminded me of Gainsborough. His sitters wore an awful lot of blue.

    Currier and Ives artists. Not many are identified. A few were from famous art of the day. I got to wondering, about that. I’d guess that they couldn’t afford to “buy rights.” Also, I wonder if some artists resisted their work being published by C & I as it would “cheapen” their brand. Smart ones might realize that any PR is good. I also wonder if many artists had the skill set, to work with lithographic stones? Probably different stories, case by case.

    Speaking of Gainsborough, when I lived south of LA, I didn’t go into the city more than a handful of times. But I did go to the Huntington Museum. They had at least three Gainsboroughs. They remain very clear, in memory. And that was about 50 years ago!

    I saw another article discussing Australia and La Nina. “Excessive precipitation and flooding.” I also saw another article about how La Nina affects commodities. Worldwide. Depending on how severe the La Nina is, the commodities market for corn, soy and wheat can become very “volatile.”

    And, just for fun, I saw a short article about language.


    Wiesel words and phrases.

    Magic Food Boxes come, tomorrow. I wonder if there will be anything special for the upcoming Thanksgiving Day, holiday? Lew

  31. @ Lew,

    Things are dampish here on the dry side.

    Arghhh, the fender bender. Naw, not enough damage for them to total the vehicle. The other guy’s insurance company has assumed full responsibility because it was all his fault. His agent is a stand up guy, but their corporate claims people are jerking me around. You know, trying to dictate which body shop, that I have to use their app on my phone to send them pictures so that they can do their own estimate, etc. I told them to do their own work, that I’m not their pet adjustor, especially since their client rear ended me. I may end up siccing my insurance people on them.

    Raked leaves on my work breaks today. That activity actually makes more sense than most things right now. 🙂


  32. Hi Pam,

    Respect to those formidable ladies, and I particularly enjoyed the local sheriff who wove some tall tales, which did most of the work for her, all the while the pesky cattle still had to be rousted out of town – less the local notables become offended upon sighting them. Good stuff, and a much more civilised time when such were the problems of the day which needed addressing.

    I’ve heard talk about how civilised we are in these here enlightened times, but then I heard lots of other talk which has no basis in reality.

    You know what civilised is? Bamboo fibre sheets (viscose) on the bed on a hot night – that’s civilised that is. Picked up another two sheet packs today they were so good. 😉 They were on special, what can I say?



  33. Hi Inge,

    Exactly, it is nice to have a garden during such times. I do wonder about the longevity of such lock-down arrangements for apartment dwellers and have heard some alarming stories over the past few months. And as a gentle reminder, we were only meant to be in lock-down originally for a purported three weeks. Things can change without warning, so you never know.

    I read an article headline about mutations in the virus, but now I can’t find the article. Something to do with minks, which seems odd to me for more than a few reasons, but you know. Anyway, coronavirus is part of the cold family of illnesses and they mutate readily, so it hardly surprises me that this one has. The article really has gone. And yup, that’s how I understand the story in relation to vaccines.

    Pah! Not for one moment have I believed that you were not sharp as a tack. What I referred to was your opinion on the chicken and egg story of: “The legal system more or less under pins the culture which we live in”? Does the legal system reflect the culture, or is the culture affected by the legal system?

    Hehe! Tell ya a funny story. Whenever I get a bit stressed out, I return to read a work of fiction which I’m familiar with. It’s comforting. And Welsh castles would have an illustrious history attached to them.

    The footage of the Fawley Power station being demolished was pretty awesome. I can sort of understand why islanders weren’t given advance notice as it might turn the demolition works into a spectacle. They can go wrong as happened with I believe the demolition of the old Canberra hospital. Someone – a child I believe – was killed by shrapnel from the blast.



  34. Hi Claire,

    Hehe! We’ve had some colourful characters as Prime Muppets, that’s for sure. Some of them had quite a good grasp of the English language too, and were not afraid to use it. One notable epithet used by one Prime Muppet was the term ‘scumbag’ which got thrown around quite a lot. It means so little, yet so much. A useful word which you rarely hear used nowadays.

    As to the lost Prime Muppet, yeah don’t worry about it, we’ve got plenty more where he came from. 😉

    Clearing out an estate is an emotionally complicated journey. However, I do commend your canny sensibilities with removing the frames before posting. 🙂 Very wise, and I wouldn’t have thought of doing that (he says as he notes the technique down for future reference).

    Yes, my mother was also upwardly mobile and so eschewed second hand items for much the same reasons. And in doing so, early on she taught me to avoid such items or treat them as somehow being lesser. A mate once exclaimed that an item was: ‘as good as a bought one’, and he didn’t mean it to be a compliment. You know, going through seriously tough economic times as a young adult taught me that the point of view is total rubbish. I’d prefer something that was well made and was going to last – and if someone else had previously used it, what of that? Over the years I picked up a useful saying: Things are only new once.

    Your garden and weather sounds lovely! Picked about half of the broad beans today and ended up with a huge crate of pods. We’re adding broad beans to all sorts of meals, and will dry some so that they get started in the garden next Autumn (around March from memory). Seriously going to have to put together a garden diary as my brain can only hold so much stuff in… Imagine information oozing out my ears or nose – shocking!

    The modem is working fine, the antenna’s pointing at the cell tower are a whole ‘nother problem which I’ll look into tomorrow, or maybe Sunday.



  35. Yo, Chris – Intermission (or, intermezzo?). I finished the Steinbeck biography (Mad at the World), and have to return it before my usual sit down time. And there’s a quote. But first a bit of background…

    Toward the end of his life, Steinbeck got this idea that he’d write an Arthurian book. Sometimes he referred to it as a translation of Malory’s “Le Morte Darthur.” He made many trips to England to do research. The biography had this quote:

    “As one of Arthur’s many creators said of him several hundred years ago, “The tales of Arthur are not all lies nor all true. So much have the story-tellers told and so much have the makers of fables fabled to embellish their stories that they have made everything seem a fable.”” Looking at the footnotes and bibliography, this is from Geoffrey Ash, in his “The Discovery of King Arthur.” (1985.)

    That just so neatly sums up the old, “was there a King Arthur, or wasn’t there?” Steinbeck never did publish a book about King Arthur. He just couldn’t catch hold of a thread. And, his agent and publisher didn’t think it was such a good idea. Lew

  36. Hi DJ,

    Nice to have you back here! 🙂 Sorry I couldn’t get to your comment last night as I was just done and sound asleep by 9pm only to be woken up by the dogs yabbering and hollering at 7am. Me need sleep. I’ve just been helping so many other folks over the past half year and a bit, that my batteries were a bit run down and I’ve been recharging them over the past two weeks. Plus, I’ve been catching up on life’s little administrative activities which required doing, but hadn’t been done. Such as replacing the modem / router.

    Your part of the world is in some interesting times, that’s for sure, and you are always welcome here.

    I’ve got the new modem / router working really well, and spent an hour or so going through all of the menus in the fascinating machine. But the external yagi antenna’s on the roof no longer seem to be working. If it’s not one thing, it’s another thing… But with all good fault finding expeditions, it is best to eliminate variables one by one. I’ll check the coax cables next, and then who knows… Maybe the connections are a bit dry so I’ll chuck a bit of WD-40 on them all too whilst I’m checking them.

    Straw hats are really useful to keep the hot sun off a person’s head. The UV down here is now rated as Very High – the next step on from there is Extreme which won’t be far away. And even on cool days like today when the air temperature is 21’C, the afternoon sun will seriously impact upon your health if you work too hard in it.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags to you and your lady. 🙂 Dichondra is very common in the ground covers here. A lot of the native wildflowers are small and not very showy, but if a person but takes some time to look around, there are plenty of them.

    Phooey to the guy in the mirror. A pesky reflection! Hehe!

    Yeah, our news media used to take no prisoners. Nowadays I guess the journalists have to worry about keeping their jobs.

    Ah, a temporary guest. Mate, I’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your ladies sister and you all have my sympathies for the loss. Life can be pretty tough and tragic, and I hope you are all looking out for each other during this hard time.

    Good to hear that you were prepared for the current eventualities and nabbed the appropriate number of toilet rolls. DJ, as a bit of a confession I don’t keep that many rolls on hand, but you know basics like say flour, chicken feed and dog food – yeah we’re good and many of those exceed the dread number of 42kg. So do you reckon the rule of 42 can apply to other areas of our lives?

    That’s the problem with being the boss, as you are in that capacity as Prez. I tell ya, over the years I have learned the hard way that problems don’t get better with time. You can quote me on that! But no doubt someone else came up with that neat line before me. But then, some problems disappear with time, and so it is real drama working out which is which, and you probably never know in advance anyway. If it is a guy sometimes a direct approach is called for – Like there was the employee who had personal hygiene problems and I had to deal with that. Direct worked, although there were underlying issues causing the situation to occur in the first place. If it is a person being a nuisance in meetings and you’ve got a quorum, then take an immediate vote and put an end to the mischief. But what could possibly happen in your group? Bear in mind that people are a bit odd right now with the fear button being pushed really hard in the media and all of the time too. That impacts peoples mental health.

    Sorry to hear about the car bingle. Not good. Hey, if that was down here, both insurance parties would be involved, and I believe they demand that occurs due to some sort of duty of disclosure clause. Let them fight it out is my thinking. That’s what they get the big bucks for.

    Game of Thrones is an extraordinarily complicated tale. The books were bonkers complicated and I wondered how the story could be compacted into a series. Beats me, but people love the show.

    The weather has been remarkably pleasant the past few days, although we had one hot night which didn’t drop below 23’C. Decided to get new sheets for the bed and ended up with some made out of bamboo fibre, and they’re amazing for hot weather. Cotton was way too thick. And some summer nights don’t drop below 29’C. Not nice at all – and no a/c.



  37. Hello Chris
    Crikey, legal system and culture. I struggled for a bit and then decided that the interplay between the two was too tight and entangled for there to be any decision on the question.
    The lockdown in SA has already ceased for some spurious reason so my daughter has informed me. Makes no sense at all.
    It appears that mink around the world have caught the disease and then passed it back to humans with some mutation. There is now a problem with Samoa I believe.
    You go in for flu vaccination I believe. I don’t. So good luck with the covid one.


  38. Chris:

    I had never heard of bamboo sheets. As nice as a good cotton sheet? And they wash okay?

    I do this, too: “Whenever I get a bit stressed out, I return to read a work of fiction which I’m familiar with. It’s comforting.”


  39. Hi Lewis,

    Definitely intermission, although to be candid I’m happy I’m still on the air and haven’t had to use Plan B or Plan C yet. The new modem works just fine. The antennas on the roof don’t appear to be working out so well. Not sure why… The bathroom has the best interweb reception in the house, and I placed the modem in there and the room is now full of technology, wires and stuff. The editor did mention that these things cannot stay there – a most valid point of view! 🙂

    Almost finished the mowing this morning. Last night I crashed out at about 9pm and woke up this morning at 7am – needed the sleep for sure. Ollie was doing a solid impersonation of the hounds of Baskerville (note I used the plural sense of the word even though Ollie is one dog and the pups wisely did not join in) as some tourist was slowly driving up the road admiring the view at some ungawdly hour of the morning. Have they nothing better to do with their time – probably not.

    Picked half of the broad bean plants and removed them from the terraces. Now I have a large crate of broad beans and am looking for recipes. The two pups did decide to remove a number of broad beans from the crate when my attention was elsewhere, and then they proceeded to fight over them. Bit of a mess, but no real drama.

    Did I read somewhere that the author Steinbeck sometimes suffer from writers block? I was interested to read in the background to the Grapes of Wrath, that the author eventually lost interest in the topic and moved onto other subjects. I guess he got sick of talking about the subject? Dunno. Some bands are notorious for not playing their big hits, and they get a bit cagey when asked why. Why not? Is perhaps a solid answer, but I don’t feel that way myself so have a bit of trouble empathising with their perspective.

    Thanks for relating the Arthur quote. Outstanding. I get that about not catching a thread. Sometimes I get ideas for essays, but the ideas don’t come with an attached story, and so the idea gets quietly shelved. Not sure how an idea would present without a narrative, and maybe I should work at that. Dunno.

    Be careful what you wish for, but yeah climactic events can often repeat, and it would be an error to ignore the lessons of history. I think about that every summer on hot and windy days. And in other seasons it motivates me to continue cleaning up.

    Did you get any rain from the ominous clouds? It’s been mostly dry here this week.

    Oh my! Surely nobody has silk sheets? Anyway, don’t believe the hype about silk keeping people cooler in summer – the editor tells me that the material doesn’t breathe and is like wearing a covering of plastic. If on the other hand you were trying to keep warm, well that’s a different story.

    Yeah, hemp is sometimes also probably labelled as viscose. As a fibre it has a pretty good reputation. And bamboo is a seriously fast growing and super hardy. I’ve seen it used as scaffolding in Asia, and we use a finger joined solid bamboo cutting board in the kitchen. Tough stuff and doesn’t hold smells.

    Thanks for introducing me to the artist Thomas Gainsborough. The faces of the folks in the portraits are remarkable. He was a man of many talents that bloke and his landscapes were good, but he captured the human condition far better – and wove the two together.

    PR is always good. And if one could but be banned, without being cancelled, well who knows what might happen! Thomas had to pay the bills, and I did read that his clients could be a bit of a pain.

    I would have loved to have seen the Gainsborough’s – they were striking depictions.

    Yup, too much rain can be as bad as too little rain. It happens, like the hail storm mentioned in the article on farmers lessons learned during the drought years. Too much rain split cherries, but too little rain produces undersized fruit in the apricots so it is a real problem and nobody is ever happy. I’m happy with whatever the trees see fit to provide.

    Oooo! That makes so much sense about using buzzwords and being of low status. Hang on, doesn’t the media spit that stuff out all of the time? What does that mean then? Sure it doesn’t reflect well.

    Did you score any Thanksgiving Day specials in the food boxes?



  40. @ DJ – You’ve had a rough couple of years, as far as family goes. My thought are with The Princess, and you.

    Several decades ago, I was rear ended by a bus, in Olympia. I was fully stopped, at a stop light, and he plowed into my rear end. More a light kiss, but, you know, a bus. No one was hurt. The bus company paid off, no problems. BUT … just under three years later (just under the statute of limitations) an accident lawyer got his hands on one of the bus passengers. He was claiming pain and suffering. I mean, he couldn’t bowl anymore! So, with that in the offing, the bus company came after me. That the accident had been my fault.

    So, I was deposed. I’m sure it wouldn’t happen now, but the insurance company furnished me a sharp, young lawyer. He really prepped me well. We even went to the accident scene, so I’d really have it all in mind. Well. We were so well prepared, the bus company decided they didn’t want us anywhere near a formal trial. I think they paid the accident “victim” something like $3,000 to go away. Which, I’m sure his lawyer (a real slime ball), received. Lew

  41. Yo, Chris – Well, just to get it out of the way, we have our first “Awwww” Christmas story, of the season. Actually, pretty interesting.


    Best keep electronics out of the bathroom. We wouldn’t want parboiled Chris!

    That’s all you need is tourists mucking about at an ungodly hour. Or were them crims, cruising for a soft target?

    Ah. I see. Broad beans are what we call fava beans, here. Another name is horse beans. It’s always fun to cruise through the indexes of cook books, looking for ideas for unfamiliar ingredients. Maybe a three (or four or five) bean salad? Which I think I’m going to make, soon.

    Steinbeck didn’t have too much writer’s block. It was more his method of working. He said he’d get an idea for a story and start thinking about the character. Filling in back story. Then he’d wonder what they’d do, given certain situations. Eventually, he’d begin to write. And then it would mostly, pour out. In the meantime, he was always writing articles and film and theatre scripts. He had a very good work ethic. He wrote, almost daily.

    He said that when a work was done, he was done. And, onto the next project. He did get a bit hemmed in, by expectations. People liked his central and southern California stores best. So, anytime he’d try something different, there was push back.

    All his life, even before he was famous, he always felt that people might want to “use” him. So he was rather guarded. He did make some life long friends. His editor, was one. He didn’t like to be recognized. And, when he won awards, usually wouldn’t show up for the ceremony. Unlike some authors, he really didn’t pay much attention to the critics … positive or negative. And, unlike some authors, he really didn’t mind the editing process, and was open to critique from his agent and the above mentioned editor. He was a complex fella! 🙂 .

    The weather yesterday was ok. Those ominous clouds just brought a few scattered showers. Today looks like it’s going to be pretty clear.

    How the mind plays tricks. I thought the three pictures that impressed me most, at the Huntington, were all by Gainsborough. Nope. Just one. “Blue Boy.” Thomas Lawrence painted “Pinkey” and Joshua Reynolds painted “Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse.” Interesting character, Mrs. Siddons.

    Well, the first round of food boxes arrived. The real corker was five pounds of frozen sliced smoked turkey breast. Fresh grapes and rolls. Gallons of milk (but, not enough for everyone.) Small pumpkin pie, pumpkins (round, orange). Pasta, bottled chili sauce and hot sauce. Canned: spiced tomato sauce, corn, mixed fruit, green beans, mixed vegetables, and garbanzo beans. A small pack of oatmeal raisin cookies and rice crispy “treats.” Small boxes of raisins. A box of cake mix. Packets of pancake & waffle mix, gravy mix and weird wild caught salmon. Rice. A box of jello. A pineapple cup and apple sauce cup. A can of tomato soup. A can of cranberry sauce. A packet of Top Ramen. Sounds like a lot, but it’s all in “ones”, or, small containers. It all fits in one box. The swapping has begun, and I’ve already got a box and a half, for the Club. By the way, I heard through the grape vine that our Club manager, Bill, after all his treatments, has been declared “cancer free.” In one way, I’m glad the Club is closed, for four weeks. He can get a bit of rest. Sometimes, “they” run him ragged.

    After the boxes came, the good Rev was kind enough to give me a lift to the library. I walked back. I really didn’t get a chance to look around much. The sidewalks are very uneven. Infrastructure. I did pass the first place I lived, when I came here. Odd I’d end up two blocks, away.

    And, lastly, an interesting article on housing. Especially, the last two paragraphs.


    I don’t know. How about renovating pre-existing structures? Lew

  42. Hello Chris,

    Here is a somewhat technical explanation of fibres, just to make you sleep better between your newly acquired bamboo-viscose sheets.

    Bamboo-viscose is a fibre in the “rayon”-category. The process is to break down cellulose chemically and then reconstitute a polymer fibre. This has been done for 100+ years based on other wood, and since China took over as the world leading producer a few years back, the most popular feedstock is bamboo. Your sheet-fiber is therefore not like silk or cotton which has the same fiber as the plant, but your viscose sheets employ a reconstituted fiber. You can read more here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rayon

    Hemp is sometimes also used as feedstock to the rayon/viscose process, for a similar fibre and texture. However, I do prefer the “raw” hemp fibre clothing, especially in shirts/t-shirts.

    And if you ever consider silk to improve your overnight experience, my best advice is to get blankets filled with raw silk. Both my wife and me agree on the best sleeping experience most of the year is to use cotton sheets with a raw-silk-duvet. We got ours in Suzhou when we lived there, but I suspect there are native Chinese silk-dealers down in the Big smoke in your vicinity.
    We have also tried silk sheets and silk pajamas, but we share the Editor’s judgement that it can glue to the skin, especially while exercising… 😉

    Humbly yours,

  43. Hi Pam,

    Bamboo fibre is sold down here as being good in the hot weather, but it is not a cheap option. I hope my enthusiasm is not misrepresented as plugging product… Ook! There are many parts of your country which have to worry about bonkers cold weather, but we have the opposite problem and have to worry about bonkers hot weather. And I could get away with running an air conditioner on the power system, but I don’t really want to flog the batteries to death. So yeah, the bamboo material is a form of adaption to hot weather. You’ve given me an idea for the essay. Hmm.

    The material washes OK, and doesn’t generally hold any odours, dunno why but the chopping board doesn’t either, but I have noticed that thicker bamboo items such as thick work socks are slower to dry than any other material – but that isn’t a hassle for us.

    Re-visiting a familiar and well loved book is like enjoying a good chat and meal with an old friend. 🙂



  44. Hi Inge,

    Thanks for considering the question regarding legal systems and culture. Hmm. It is a bit of a chicken and egg matter.

    Oh no! Somebody over in South Australia appears to be in a whole bunch of trouble for allegedly telling a lie. Here is a nice summary of the unfolding events over there: The lie from a pizza shop worker that led to South Australia’s coronavirus lockdown.

    The dare I suggest it, take away (!!!), thing to note is that the constabulary appears to have now placed a vehicle outside the business premises. Imagine if you owned that business, and the consequences unfolding from the incident? It reads to me like one of those ancient Greek morality tales.

    The larger question which needs addressing is that if the quarantine hotels are so important, how about paying the folks who work there enough so that they don’t have to have a second job just to pay the bills? And also, if this virus is really that serious and life endangering, how about setting up sanatorium’s in rural areas like they used to do back in the day for Tuberculosis? High up in this mountain range there is a small manmade lake with the name: Sanatorium Lake. It was the water supply for such an institution. If the virus is so bad, why let people wait it out in metropolitan areas where the density of the population is quite high and the risk of spreading is all too possible? So many questions…

    I get the influenza vaccination every year. I’ve had the virus twice and whilst it wasn’t life threatening, it was very unpleasant, but I recovered just fine. As far as I understand the situation from an ecological perspective, any advantage a person gets becomes simply a case of kicking the can down the road. The jury is out for me on this current thing as I suspect that it has now become part of the background of diseases associated with humans, and that family of viruses have some pretty neat mutation tricks up their sleeves. Dunno, at this stage talk of vaccination is exactly that, all talk.



  45. Hi Goran,

    Thanks for the explanation, and yes you are most correct. It’s funny, but the word Rayon, is rarely heard down here these days.

    What a rabbit hole you lead me down, and to be candid I’m now a bit dubious as to the environmental considerations and basic worker safety with production of this wondrous material. It is possible that we have reached a point in history where many production techniques for basic raw materials could be questioned by the simple questing question: What if they’re all bad apples?

    That’s kind of what living on a toxic planet looks like to me and sometimes there are no easy choices – there are only choices.

    Thanks for the suggestion and I have not encountered hemp derived clothing before. Hmm, might have to do something about that and run a proper test. For your info, flax lilies grow here in profusion in the surrounding forest, but making linen from flax is an arduous task which I have not considered mostly due to having too many other projects demanding my attention.

    No! Sorry, but hot nights are an occasional dilemma here and they can stay as hot as 29’C, and whilst the winters are cold and it usually snows once or twice per year, silk would not be good idea, as it does not breathe and I doubt I’d sleep well under such a tightly woven fabric in such conditions. However, in your part of the world, where cold winters are serious business and a matter of life and death, silk would work very well.

    The thing is staying warm here is easy as the property probably has at least ten thousand trees which can some years grow at a rate of 1 metre per year, and so a lot of energy gets stored here in the surrounding forests. The main problem with that stored energy is that sometimes things can go horribly wrong and the forests burn. My view is that prevention is better than a cure, meaning the forests have to be managed, but that is a very unpopular view down here, outside of Indigenous folks. Dunno why that is, and I’m not interested enough to find out as it would detract energy from the management task.

    When I travelled in Nepal at high altitudes a silk inner liner and two sleeping bags (one inside the other) was the recommended way to stay warm overnight in a tent. Overnight clothes froze solid – and that was super-weird to see for someone raised in a warm to hot country. I didn’t worry about silk and just used a cotton inner liner during such travels, and was never really all that cold.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    The owl was very cute and tiny. I have no doubts that if the owl survived that particular journey it will be able to move on to other lodgings. Although I did note that the owl species tend to enjoy tree hollows which only occur in much larger and older trees – valuable real estate in the bird, bat and insect world. What I also noticed was the Arecibo radio telescope appears to be having some serious structural troubles and maybe in danger of failure.

    Yes, electronics and the bathroom most certainly are not a good mix and I guess over the years have been the undoing of many a fine person. Speaking of not good mixes, the minxes of trouble: Plum and Ruby, both smell like fertiliser this evening. At least Ollie has the common decency to simply consume the stuff, whilst the girls both consume it and add the piquant fragrance to their coats. I guess things could always be worse.

    Open gardens are now few and far between due to the health subject which dares not be named. We woke up early today and I planted out the remaining tomato seedlings, and despite the hot weather, they’re looking really good. Bear in mind I don’t harden off seedlings, the editor watered the newly planted tomato seedlings directly after they were planted, and most of them drooped and fell over, but later today with the warm weather and plentiful watering (50 minutes of drip irrigation today), they all pulled themselves back upright. They’ll be fine. I reckon we planted out about 100 tomato seedlings this year, and I do hope that we get some harvest out of them. Last year was not good. Tomatoes grown from seed in the gardens have only lately begun to germinate. It will be interesting to see which method is better, but I reckon the seedlings will win that race by a country mile.

    Mostly what seedlings had developed adult leaves in the greenhouse have now been planted – and now thanks to the greenhouse I understand why eggplants, peppers and chili’s never grew from direct sown seeds in earlier years – it’s too cold here.

    Oh, the open garden. It was quite nice and in a very rural area to the north of here. They had a lot of roses, and a small vegetable patch (of a stature which suggests that it was probably for the occasional picking more than anything else), and a small orchard of about a dozen trees. Everything was really well maintained and looked good. It was nice to wander around and enjoy someone else’s efforts.

    Some yummy bakery products were picked up along the way to the open garden (a lemon slice and a very tasty eccles cake) and the day finished off with a gourmet pie. I tell you, it was a hardship, but if I must I’ll stoically endure it. Actually we had to wear masks, and on an almost 86’F day it was pretty hot. When the sun shone from behind the clouds I felt a bit ill wearing the mask, and my face was very sweaty underneath. Not pleasant, but in these days and times one must make do with the circumstances as they present themselves.

    We’ve gone into summer work mode now and work in the early mornings and then take a break and go and do something else. It is pretty low stress working that way and avoids the hot afternoon sun. Afternoon naps due to bonkers early mornings are de rigueur!

    It is possible that the early morning folks were crims. The previous burglary in the street occurred after some early morning shenanigans, which nobody other than the editor and I seemed even remotely concerned about. Dunno why nobody seemed to care, but that was how it rolled. I could introduce such folks to Ollie wonder-dog as he could project a certain air of uncertainty and um, seriousness.

    Thanks for the suggestion regarding the fava beans and we might try that. There are a lot of them, although I forgot to take a photo of the haul…

    Writing daily is certainly the sign of a good work ethic, and the end point is often reached by way of much smaller adventures and tasks. Mr Greer once suggested to me that in order to become good as an author one must first get rid of the million bad words. Whilst I’m not a literalist by any stretch of the imagination, the idea captured my imagination and also my sense of challenge and I can assure you with a degree of exactness that I’m somewhere around 62.713% of the way along that journey excluding any and all comments. As you may note there is a ways to go yet, and why stop at that goal when we’re having fun is my take on that matter? Mr Steinbeck was a prolific author, and whilst the editor is the editor, it is not a traumatic task for me either as I view the process as a ‘where is the room for improvement here, rather than any sleight on my artistic endeavours. It matters little to me. But I can also understand why he believed that some would take advantage of him and use him for their own purposes – I mean he wrote about the darker side of humanity after all and could not but fail to see it playing out all around him. He delved into motivations and consequences, and that’s kind of what ya get to see.

    Hmm, I noted the Blue Boy who was clearly a person of high standing to have been dressed so and painted by Thomas Gainsborough. Please forgive me, but in the background of the portrait of Sarah Siddons as the Tragic Muse, the two characters almost evince a certain 70’s punk air mixed in with a bit of the early 80’s sad new romantic era. There is something unaccountably odd about the two characters hiding just out of plain sight in that portrait. It’s uncanny and a little bit eerie. What is your take on that?

    You scored well with the magic food boxes, and I salute your effort at redistributing the bounty. I assume that the Club will continue such food services due to their fundamentally important nature? It is good to hear that the Club manager Bill has recovered from his brush with the grim reaper. And oh my, yes he probably does need the rest. Imagine someone calling him: “Yes, yes, I know you’ve just recovered from cancer, but I really need (insert demand here)….”

    Thanks for the article on housing. Very strange. When I was a kid I heard such stories about supply side economics, and people lapped it up, so who am I to argue? Anyway talk of voodoo economics left me with a case of the vapours and fantods.



  47. @ Chris:

    I bought some broad bean seeds about a week ago, thinking to plant some right then and see if they overwintered here (I’ve never tried to grow any). The highs were about 65F (18C) about then. Then suddenly the overnight lows dropped to 28F (-2C) so I decided to wait till spring. Now the overnight lows are 53F (12C) and the highs 74F (23C), so – why not? I’ll try to sow some today.

    One of our dogs used to love to play with raw potatoes. I had to be sure that I never left any in a bucket on the floor.


  48. Yo, Chris – I want one of those owls for Christmas! 🙂 . Although the maintenance might be a bit tough. Feeding them live mice, and all. My friend Amanda’s snake requires mice, but not live. Just fresh and well thawed out, will do. Yup. She keeps a dead mouse or two, in her freezer. I guess you can buy them at some pet stores.

    I saw that about the Arecibo telescope. Talk about massive system failure. But then, it’s been around for awhile, and has rode out several hurricanes and earthquakes. How will E.T. be able to phone home, without the telescope? Perhaps some individual or corporation will step forward, and finance a rebuild. Bigger and better. New and improved!

    Ruby and Plum. Eau de Fertilizer. Very popular among young pups. Probably think it enhances their allure, to … someone. They’re probably just victims of marketing.

    I’m glad your tomato plants sprung back. One benefit of hardening off is it strengthens the stomata and improves response time.


    Interesting that it suggests “petting” the plants a bit, indoors. I had a volunteer San Marzano tomato, last year, but it didn’t produce before the frost. If it had been this year, it would have made it. This year, there was a small cherry tomato, that volunteered in another bed. It was a bit stunted, but did produce a nice handful of tomatoes. There was also a clump of small, yellow pear tomatoes. They did very well. But if the frost had come as early as last year, they wouldn’t have made it.

    Open gardens and good tucker. Sounds like a nice day.

    As far as crims casing the joint, and no one seeming to care, well, you know, IT WON’T HAPPEN TO THEM! 🙂 .

    Looking at the two figures in “Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse,” reaching deep into the murk of my art history classes. I thought they might be allegorical figures. They represent “ideas and concepts.” In this case, Pity and Terror.


    The afternoon boxes were pretty much like the morning boxes, only no real high points. Our fruit and veg box is a lot better than last month. A cantaloupe, a tiny zucchini, one green pepper, a small container of tomatoes, a small bag of apples, a small bag of red potatoes, a bag of dried fruit and nut mix, and two small heads of cabbage. I forgot to mention that in the morning boxes was also a jar of organic honey.

    Our food boxes remind me of what they used to say about the Platte River … a mile wide and an inch deep. 🙂 . Or, “Variety is the spice of life.” I won’t be able to take in any extra food, to the Club, until they re-open. So in the meantime, they’re in my living room. I’ve managed to put together 3 1/2 boxes, so far. And, yes, you nailed it, as to how some people approached Bill during his trials. One can only chalk it up to thoughtlessness. I’m a bit … miffed at Eleanor. Her care giver’s husband is very ill, and, from what I’ve heard, I wonder if he’ll make it. Not It, but heart. She doesn’t seem very sympathetic, as the caregiver has been called away, unexpectedly, at times. And, my gosh, she wants to take Thanksgiving and the day after off! How dare she! On the other hand, we usually kick off our nightly get together with a ten minute general b—h fest, and it all may just be venting of frustration. Relieve the pressure, and get on with it.

    I watched a film, last night, called “Alone.” Kind of a zombie movie. But the zombies aren’t dead, just infected by a kind of rage virus. I don’t know. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood, but I fast forwarded through a lot of it. I also watched the first episode of “Eli Roth’s History of Horror.” And, episode one was about … zombies. It was quit good. The only complaint I had about it, is when they’d have a talking head, on, they didn’t linger long on who the person was and what they’d done. So, there was a lot of back tracking and freezing a frame, so I could take it in. But, otherwise, very interesting. They even discussed a bit, fast zombies vs slow zombies 🙂 .

    I also read the first couple of chapters of Ruth Goodman’s “The Domestic Revolution: How the Introduction of Coal into Victorian Homes Changed Everything.” Let’s see. High points.

    Most people talk about coal in relation to the Industrial Revolution. But Ms. Goodman makes the point that actually, coal took the place of wood (or, other plant materials) domestically, years before. And rather fast. Within 40 years, most homes had switched from wood to coal. She mentioned that throughout her career, she had used mostly wood for cooking and heat. Probably more than electric or gas. And, boy, she knows her way around wood. 🙂 . But while filming the “Victorian Farm,” she came up against coal for the first time. And noticed how the domestic routines really changed. And thought it might be interesting to write about.

    She also made the point that the move to coal was stimulated by need. England was growing and needed more land for food production, as opposed to fuel production.

    The library on-line services were down last night, and, so far this morning. For ” … emergency systems maintenance.” Wonder what that’s all about? Denial of service attack? Or, maybe someone opened an e-mail they shouldn’t, and now they’re being held hostage, for large amounts of bit coin? Wonder if we’ll ever get the whole story? Inquiring Minds Want to Know! 🙂 Lew

  49. Hi Lewis,

    Owls are cool, and they know it, and just having one of those birds around you would most certainly up your cool factor. 🙂 On hot nights we keep the bedroom window open and sometimes the owls are just outside the window in the shady orchard hunting mice and other critters. Over the years you get to know all of their calls. Given how silent and deadly the birds are, it does make me wonder why they announce their presence in the first place? Beats me.

    An epic rainstorm just hit. Almost an inch of rain fell in about half an hour. I had to head out in the rain under an umbrella and clear organic matter from the water tank inlet filters. And weirdly now the rain storm has passed, the very late afternoon sun is now shining. As you can imagine the air feels very humid. More heavy rain looks set to arrive overnight, but for now the birds are singing their happy songs of bountiful years.

    E.T. was an odd creature, but I did enjoy the film. As a pragmatist I could never quite understand how a civilisation which could travel interstellar distances was so helpless. Like say an alien spaceship – let’s call it the mothership – arrived in the solar system and decided to orbit around the planet, well there is very little we could actually do about it. I wouldn’t want to poke them with missiles and stuff, because after all they managed to travel between one star system and another and as such are clearly not to be trifled with. Although the film Independence Day was a lot of fun. If the aliens turned their sights down under, I suspect our dignitaries would show them a good time and keep them all raucously drunk like we did to good effect when the Great White Fleet chose to visit the colony way back in the day.

    Hey, the local feed store folks sell frozen mice for reptiles. Who knew such things went on?

    Yes, dogs best choice of fragrances usually leaves much to be desired. For a while now I’ve been wondering whether puppies propensity to consume manure and scats is part of their early journey of building intestinal flora and fauna? Dunno, but I reckon there is something in that, as they all do it, and dogs who live in too clean an environment often have gut issues. I doubt that this is a coincidence. The Eau de Cologne mint happily grows here and smells very nice, but the dogs avoid it.

    Thanks for the link and discussion on hardening off seedlings grown in a greenhouse. As a confession this is my first year of having access to a greenhouse and so like with crop rotation clearly there is stuff to learn. Just went out to check to see how the tomato seedlings coped with the heavy rain, and they were slightly wilted but nothing to worry about. Some of the seedlings planted last week had a little bit of sun burn on their leaves, so yes, hardening off is probably necessary. I expect next growing season I’ll have more time – as happens most years in that things get slightly easier every year.

    Yellow tomatoes are the most reliable from my experience over the years. Not sure why that would be, but it just is.

    The odd thing about the crims was that when the burglary happened down the road, I did mention the odd occurrence earlier in the day, but then was studiously ignored. Dunno, but it was weird and maybehaps they simply relied on insurance and were less fussed about it than me. I tend to believe that lightning can strike twice – or multiple times.

    As to Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse, the guy to her left is clearly an angry punk who would have shocked folks in the late 70’s, and the androgynous character to her right would have been at home in the new romantic movement of the mid 80’s. Thus proving that everything old is new again.

    What? Organic honey sound pretty good to me, so you’ve scored well.

    Your mention of Platte River lead me into a deep rabbit hole dive as to the lands of Colorado. It appears to me as another boom and bust environment, but I would dearly love to see those mountains, and the ‘Never Summer Mountains’ have an ominous, and yet alluring name.

    Mate, Bill has only my sympathy, and only those who know, know. People can be very demanding. In the last dozen years I have had maybe five sick days, and there are times when I need some quiet time and space from clients, but alas such is life in small business and this hardship is easier for me to endure than the unrelenting demands of the top end of town. People at that upper end of town sure know how to ask for stuff with few if any qualms. I can’t say that I was a fan of that reality.

    Ah yes, your night-time early ritual with Eleanor perhaps suggests that you are both judgemental individuals and have taken on this hobby as a lifestyle choice. 🙂 Hehe! I ask you, how can a person form opinions without being occasionally judgemental? The trick I believe is fessing up when you are completely and utterly wrong and then incorporating that experience into your worldview. But yes, on the other hand Eleanor maybe just venting her exasperation? Knowing when to do something about such words is a fine line and a difficult thing to know. Yes, the way of the whinge is dark, young padwan. Hehe!!!! Anyway, it beats me, and I just wait to see if there are consequences…

    Ooo. Just watched the trailer for the ‘Alone’ film and it had very high scary and creepy factor. Certainly left me with a few bumps on my skin.

    Really, well talking heads do have to be introduced, otherwise people might say: who is this dude and why is he even here? Doesn’t that sound like something you’d hear in The Big Lebowski! 😉

    The guilt factor is rather high and heading into overdrive right now, and I may have to remedy this serious lack of Mrs. Goodman in my life. Yes, I have been tardy and lax, and perhaps one of the dogs ate my homework. OK, so out of all of the various topics I chose Victorian Farm – in the hardback edition. It is set to arrive next month.

    You know I sort of suspect that WWI and the economic ructions of the time where partly due to the declining return on energy invested with the extraction of coal. Coal being extracted by manual labour sorted of died a quiet death around that time. Mr Lawrence and his appalling book Lady Chatterley’s lover had that story as colourful background.

    Better get writing, and I do hope that your library system rises from the ashes – or at least that they have the card library stored in some dark back room where few dare to venture? 🙂



  50. Hi Pam,

    Hmm, good luck. Winter is perhaps colder at your place than here? 🙂 The broad beans most certainly survive occasional snowfall and temperatures down to -2’C / 28’F here, although they are planted out of the prevailing southerly (your northerly) wind and that would make a difference. For your info, I usually get the broad bean seeds planted and established in late March, which would be your September, so it is possible they’d survive your winters (the leaves are edible I believe, although I’d look into that first if I were you), but I’m guessing they’d need to be well established first.

    If you have a greenhouse I have no doubts that they’d over winter just fine with minimal effort and get off to an early start and produce beans at a time when no other plants will be producing. But I can’t really say anything about the plants and colder temperatures than 28’F.

    Exactly though, why not? Fearless gardeners of the world unite! 🙂 If even one plant survives and produces beans then you’ll be able to select for growing super hardy varieties in future years.



  51. Chris:

    I bought Ruth Goodman’s “How To Be a Victorian”, which Lew recommended, and just loved it. My neighbor has it now.


  52. Yo, Chris – Why do owls announce their presence? Mating calls? Marking territory? I used to hear them, out at my old place. I can also hear several up in the woods, here.

    Dog’s building intestinal flora and fauna sounds like a good guess. Or, maybe, it’s just a case of “Shock your Dad.” 🙂 .

    Your first year of having access to a greenhouse? How did you slip that by us? 🙂 . I’ve never had access to a greenhouse, either. The bedroom window will have to do. Like any other tool, you’ll find your way around it’s quirks and demands.

    Funny about “Mrs. Siddons as the Tragic Muse.” Now an ad for the print, follows me around the Net, no matter where I go 🙂 .

    I always think of the Platte River, as the State of Nebraska. When we visited, every other year, it was very much in evidence.

    The Way of the Whinge. That’s a keeper! 🙂 . Eleanor’s care giver, has dropped off the radar. We fear the worst, but hope for the best.

    I watched a bit more of “Eli Roth’s History of Horror.” Episodes two and three, were about slasher films. I watched the first, and skipped the second, and got on to “The Stranger Within.” Which is about demon possession. One interesting thing I forgot to mention is that a case was made that Frankenstein was the first zombie.

    When I needed a break from all things dark and dreadful, I’ve been watching “Civilizations.” As a bit of backstory, back in 1969, Sir Kenneth Clark did a series called “Civilization.” There was also a book. But in these enlightened times (!), it’s been come to be seen as very … Euro-centric. (Read: Old Dead White Men.) So, they launched a new take on it (2018), and it takes in a world view, with more cultures and peoples. It’s really a gallop through time and space, but there are wonderful looks at art and architecture. The second to the last episode is called “The Cult of Progress.” How in the 19th and 20th century, there was all this new technology. And how art and architecture reacted to the good … and the bad aspects of that.

    I’m sure you’ll enjoy “Victorian Farm.” And, like visiting open gardens, you may discover a few tips, along the way. Just out of curiosity, I checked You Tub, and it appears all the episodes are available to watch. I also noticed a five minute “Victorian Farm’s Ruth Goodman Answers Viewers Questions.” I’ll have to take a look at that.

    You may or may not find this article about local housing, from our newspaper, interesting.


    And, just for fun, here’s a Roman army helmet, with inlaid mice going after loaves of bread.


    Click on the last picture, and you get a good view of them. 🙂 .

    I baked 7 dozen peanut butter cookies, last night. Gave a dozen to Eleanor, froze four dozen, and I’ll pick at the rest. Lew

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