I’m not keeping score

Earlier in the week found me listening to the Triple J national youth radio current affairs program: ‘Hack’. Being an old fella, it is not a bad idea to hear what the kids have to say about things. Everyone is doing it tough this year due to the health subject which dares not be named, but I reckon the kids are doing it tougher than all other groups. As a young bloke back in the recession that ‘we had to have’ during the early 1990’s, I learned the hard way the exact meaning of the acronym: LIFO, or otherwise known as Last In First Out. Yeah, that sure was a fun time. The kids nowadays are probably learning that now too.

But anyway, on the youth news radio program, some dudes were bagging out some other dude known as ‘millennial’. Who is this ‘millennial’ person? Never met the dude myself. And whilst I try not to offend anyone (sometimes easier said than done), it sometimes freaks me out when parents give their kids weird names such as ‘millennial’. Hope the kid learns to own the weird name, or learns to use the legal system to get the unfortunate name changed. By way of comparison, is there anything wrong with the name: ‘Chris’? Didn’t think so.

So the millennial bloke was getting bagged out for being entitled and whiny. And it bizarrely reminded me of a recent recent incident at a local hardware store. The incident was back a month or so ago. It was a busy morning at the local hardware store which was rocking with customers. A young bloke served me at the counter and he was busy sorting out the paperwork because a special order which I’d been waiting upon had arrived. I was there to pay for and pick up the materials.

It was all very civilised, and efficient, except that unfortunately for me, standing just to the side of the register there was a pack of three older dudes. In an act of true entitlement, one of the older dudes, let’s call him ‘Leedo’ for the sake of simplicity, placed his item down on the counter and pointedly suggested that I pay for it. The suggestion came with a smirk that Voltaire himself would have been proud of delivering.

Leedo (not his real name) appeared rather pleased with his wit. And he looked for support from his two elderly mates. At such times it is useful to employ a tension building pause before responding. Way back in the days when I attended High School at a more English than the English grammar school, it became rather important to learn how to fight. Fights were part of the student culture after all, and it is best not to turn out to a student fight without knowing how to conduct oneself. For many years, a local dojo assisted with those lessons. And so I sized up the three old dudes and took their measure.

A person generally learns how to fight, so as not to become involved in fights, although to be fair, plenty of people miss that memo. With that in mind, my options were assessed internally, and a direct response was settled upon: “Mate. That ain’t gonna happen.” came the reply. The words were spoken firmly with direct eye contact. Normally those words combined with direct eye contact would be enough for the entitled older gentleman to back down and apologise for his poor humour.

The young bloke serving me, who was standing safely behind the counter could perhaps feel the tensions rising. He looked a little bit uncomfortable with the unfolding situation. Unfortunately for me, the young bloke also had to confirm my name for the special order. Instead of backing down, the old bloke, Leedo, heard my surname, which is clearly of Scottish origins. Then Leedo made the observation that those ethnic origins was somehow the reason I was preternaturally tight and refused to pay for his stuff.

Such doubling down and effrontery is rare, and can only be countered with the ‘special menacing look number three’. This involves focusing the eyes at the forehead of the intended recipient, just above their eyes. The head is then titled ever so slightly forward and towards them. It conveys the very special feeling of: ‘I so hate you’, and few can withstand such heady emotive force. Just to be sure that the situation ended then and there, the words: “Being tight is in the blood” were uttered. And just so as to put an end to any further unwanted communication, I pointedly turned my back on Leedo as if to convey the message that he was beneath my dignity to notice. I was then able to continue to transact and conclude my business with the young bloke.

The thing is, it is not lost on me that the old bloke Leedo is possibly enjoying tax free income, and all manner of other perks courtesy of his age. With the national debt situation piling up on the back of those benefits and perks, the young bloke and I are probably going to be the ones who have to pick up that tab. And with the health subject which dare not be named, at least down under, Leedo and folks older than he was are at the highest risk of mortality.

It was a truly strange and odd encounter which I did not in any way inititate. Sometimes trouble comes to your door all unbidden and stuff, but I don’t really know, and it is not lost on me that if you as a person are on a good wicket, perhaps it is a good idea not to go poking others who aren’t enjoying the same conditions. But maybe I’m just old fashioned, and when I encounter strangers I employ both humility and good grace. It wouldn’t hurt other more entitled folks to give those traits a go.

Some days have been hot, others have been stormy

It rained very heavily earlier in the week. During such heavy rain, most people might seek refuge inside their houses, however I like to observe where the rain is collecting and flowing over the surface of the land. Over the past dozen years, there have been one or two epic fails where heavy rain is involved, and so I’m constantly adapting and correcting the drainage systems to accommodate what has been learned during those experiences.

Water ran in two horizontal channels during a recent heavy storm

Observant readers will note that in the above photo, rain is flowing over the surface in two channels which are both more or less in parallel with the front of the house. Rain should really only be flowing in the higher channel, and so we are beginning to slowly correct that particular drainage problem. Correcting the problem involves strategically placing down trailer loads of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime. It may take a few weeks and many trailer loads to complete the corrections.

A load of the crushed rock with lime was also added onto the soil surface in the dog enclosure. The two Kelpie pups are enthusiastic diggers, and whilst I have been unable to channel this digging energy to my advantage, they now have a nice, neat and more importantly, clean environment when I need to constrain them in their enclosure.

A new surface was placed in the dogs enclosure

Most of this weeks work has involved maintenance of the farm. At this stage of the year we are mowing, pruning and hedging the garden beds:

Mowing continued at the farm
These two olive trees were heavily pruned

When an area is mowed, the clippings are left where they fall. It takes only a week or two before the soil critters have consumed all of the cut material. Organic material removed by either pruning or hedging gets collected and dumped into a developing garden bed. Over time, the material breaks down and the soil becomes more fertile. In the process, seeds and cuttings also get moved to the developing garden beds, and many of those plants grow.

I’ve been training the ten grape vines to climb ever higher. It is a very simple process where side branches on the vines are pruned and the largest vine is woven around a vertical string. Eventually all of the grapes will reach two sets of stainless steel cables, and then they’ll be allowed to grow along those cables.

Vines are being trained to grow upwards

There is a bit of a problem in the strawberry / grape vine enclosure. There are too many wood lice and millipedes, and not enough reptiles to consume them all. Check out this little guy who has clearly eaten a lot of bugs.

A very fat skink full up to his eyeballs with bugs

The skinks which are a gecko equivalent, need to do more work as the bugs are getting the upper hand on this years strawberry production:

Wood lice and millipedes are the strawberry culprits here

Other crops are doing really well, like the corn:

The corn is growing well

I’ve also been training the bean vines to climb up the steel mesh we added for this purpose.

Beans are beginning to climb the steel mesh

French lentils have begun growing in a more bushy fashion with the recent hot weather.

French lentils are become more bushy

Despite early set backs due to the local parrots, the winter wheat has grown very well. I learned during this period of time, that the spacings provided in books for this plant were too far apart and could have been much closer. I now have to learn when and how to harvest the wheat.

The winter wheat has grown well despite early set backs

Earlier in the season we transplanted a number of Globe Artichokes, and most have survived the process. They’re a favourite vegetable, and they love hot weather. Also in the next photo part of a row of tomatoes can be seen growing.

Tomatoes and transplanted Globe Artichokes are growing well

It is still very early days for the berry harvest. The first ripe raspberry was spotted earlier today:

The first ripe raspberry was spotted today

And it looks like it will be an epic year for the blackberry harvest. We grow a thornless variety of blackberries:

It looks like it may be a good season for blackberries

The well established Anzac Peach is full of fruit.

Anzac Peaches are a white peach and are very tasty

It also looks like the smaller Issai Kiwi Fruit may produce some berries this year. The vines were planted only last year and expectations are low and anything will be good from these plants.

Issai Kiwi Fruit are a self fertilising variety and may produce some fruit this year

Apricots are a good crop here, but the output can vary from one year to the next. This year is looking good so far:

Fingers crossed the apricots all ripen

The many apple trees are getting better established as the years go on, and this year there are more apples than in any previous season that I can recall.

There are a lot of apples on the trees this year

Onto the flowers:

Geraniums get better as the season gets hotter
A Callistemon has produced some funky pink bottle brush flowers
One of the many local wildflowers which has made a solid comeback
Geraniums enjoy the shade of this Black Locust tree
The garden beds are a riot of colour and the plants mostly look after themselves
There are more Roses now that the weather is warming up
This Red Smoke Bush is amazing
Some Foxgloves were planted in the fern gully

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 10’C (50’F). So far this year there has been 1096.2mm (43.2 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1092.2mm (43.0 inches).

80 thoughts on “I’m not keeping score”

  1. @ Pam – (from last week.) So, (wink, wink, nudge, nudge) did Bob get his name due to his bobbed tail? 🙂

    Looks like there’s some rough weather, headed your way. Keep your head down, and hold onto your hat! Lew

  2. hello, just chiming in here, politely hoping that you are aware that foxgloves can naturalize. Where I live, they have spread everywhere, in a (reverted?) pink form, and although pretty, they are not a native! I am in the Canadian Gulf Islands (near southern Vancouver Island BC). It is lovely to see your inverse seasons and follow your off-grid adventures, thank you for this entertaining and well written blog! Jeannie

  3. Yo, Chris – My parents were ahead of the curve, as far as giving me a weird name (don’t ask.) And, yes, I eventually took to legal recourse to correct the situation. But, the damage had already been done. Years of intensive psychotherapy and a well managed course of recovery … 🙂 . Every year, our local newspaper puts out a “flyer” with thumbnail shots of every baby born in the county the previous year. The names people yoke their kids with run from the laughable, to the outright horrendous. In this part of the world, there are a lot of kid’s names that run to the country western, or, biblical. And then there’s the usual “clever” spellings of normal sounding names. “Henree?” “Debbiey”, etc.. They know not what they do.

    I don’t know if the blokes in the hardware store were entitled, or not. Sound like garden variety a__-hats, to me.

    That’s a gorgeous sunset. I presume it’s as sunset, as, like me, you are not a morning person 🙂 . We’re getting some pretty good sunsets, right about now. At 4:30pm, in the afternoon.

    The dog’s enclosure looks very neat and tidy. I hope they won’t get it into their head’s to dig to the opposite side of the world, to wherever the opposite side of the world, is, from Australia.

    Looks like you have your grapes, well in hand. Pretty soon you’ll be able to hang out your viticulturist, shingle. I’m sidling up to pruning our grapes, here at the Institution. Now that the leaves have dropped off the vines, I can see what I’m doing. I did do some hacking back of stray vines, during the summer. I’ve been going through my garden books, and there’s pretty good illustrations, here and there. I may take in a YouTub video, or two.

    Whoa! That is one well fed skink. I hope he lets his friends and relatives know that there’s good tucker in the strawberry patch.

    The corn, beans, lentils and wheat are banging along. Ditto the berries and fruit.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like your gardens have reached a certain level of maturity. Established, and now beginning to produce, in earnest.

    The foxgloves in the fern gully, really set off the colors. I see they’ve been getting some really scorching temperatures, north of you. Fire season. I hope they stay well away from Fern Glade Farm.

    Gave H her bi-weekly bath, ear clean and trim, today. She complained that this weeks blog post didn’t have near enough photos of your hounds. Particularly, Ollie. She cuts them out and pastes them on the wall around her naping basket. 🙂 . Lew

  4. Hi Pam,

    The heating system is really amazing, and it took many years and one burned out steel wood heater for me to get it working just right. The system also has old school solar how water panels so that when the sun shines, it collects hot water for the house in the header tank. Sometimes the solar hot water side of things is very hot, and a person has to use their brain. Not always easy to achieve.

    Ah yes, unfortunately some dogs do have docked tails, although I’d never do such a thing unless the tail was damaged in an injury. But yeah, I see what you mean about Bob. Bob was probably just happy to have landed in canine paradise at your place. 🙂 Ollie is a bit like that in that he had a dubious past which involved a whole bunch of cages, only to rejoice at his current situation.



  5. Hi Jeannie,

    Welcome to the discussion. 🙂

    What a beautiful part of the world you live in, and I’ve long since noted that there are many cultural similarities between Australians and Canadians.

    Thanks for the word of warning, and I’m not too fussed here as any plant would have to be super-tough to out-wit the local Eucalyptus Obliqua trees which almost completely dominate the forest. The local trees are a bit annoyed really because they’re only the second tallest flowering trees in the world (the slightly taller, Eucalyptus Regnans species lives in the higher parts of the mountain range). Who wants to be second best I ask you? And so the local trees go all out on attempts to dominate the forest ecology. The foxgloves barely stand a chance, and they’ve long since been grown in this mountain range in the old Hill Station gardens.

    Historically when the forests where better managed by the indigenous folks, not only the tall trees flowered, but pretty much the rest of the forest did too. Pollen can be pretty intense down here. There’s a good book on the topic by Professor Bill Gamage, titled The Greatest Estate on Earth.

    Hope your local forest is growing abundantly.



  6. Hi Lewis,

    It’s an important question, and my thoughts on the matter is that the range of human skills and abilities is more on a continuum rather than any fixed point. Some people have more traits of one sort or another, and other people, well they’re kind of at extreme ends of the continuum. And so it goes really. If it means anything to you, the editor and I sometimes scare people with the level of focus we can bring to bear on all sorts of things, but then what does having one or two aspects of such a definition actually mean? On the other hand I can read social situations almost in real time, but who really knows whether this is learned or not? Beats me. On the other hand I’m burdened with too much empathy. I reckon only you can ever know yourself and if and where you fit on the continuum of human existence.

    I tell ya what, I’ve got this saying which fits your thoughts quite neatly. And you may find it to be useful? Some people are like a good bottle of wine, in that as they age, they get better. Others, well some wine turns to vinegar. Like you, I’m just not wired to be set back by the misfortunes of life. But maybe also like you I’ve encountered our old friend ‘vicissitude’ plenty of times. An unpleasant fellow that one, but hey, I never expected life to be easy. Others might expect that this is the case, and they’d be wrong. It is a cultural affectation to believe otherwise and it causes a lot of unnecessary pain in the population. But what do I know?

    And exactly, to be interested in the world around you means that you are actively engaged with the world around you. And that also hints that you might be enjoying more free will than most people appear to be enjoying.

    Yeah, the old crocodile hunter was nearing the end, but by all accounts he’d lead an astounding life. It was me that was interested to hear about and meet him, and not the other way around!

    Echo is stalking cyber space. What a fine cosmic joke that would be and probably is. 🙂 Mate, Echo the goddess is super hot, but far out it wouldn’t take long at all for me to be pleading for some quiet time. Looks fade, but annoying is forever.

    Ordinarily I hold back on talking about soil, but at a compost making facility, well I could let loose. Oh no, Echo briefly took hold of my brain!!! Mate, I capped the tech talk to only a few minutes – one has to let off steam every now and then. It makes sense that Echo was once a mountain nymph.

    No, I’ve forgotten the interweb disaster you enjoyed in the town of Bend, Oregon. That happens here too, although websites for businesses usually get dumped when the bills stop being paid. Hey, at least one shop was still in business, and did you discover any treasures at that single stop?

    I liked the sea coal story too about how the kids built their own fort right there on the beach. Coal as a fuel source is a mixed bag, and much of the coal in this state is brown coal, and so it contains a lot of water and thus has a lower energy returned on energy invested than black coal which is found further north on the continent (presumably warmer and drier up there). Ah, coke is to coal, what charcoal is to firewood. Weren’t the ancients super clever to have worked all that out?

    I sort of know what you mean, and you’re both correct as it is being encouraged without the infrastructure in place. The story about people moving out of the cities and into rural areas fascinates me, and I’m yet to work out a coherent narrative about it. I often wonder what they are looking for in such places, but I have a dark suspicion that it is less about the land and possibilities for production, and more about the space. Not good.

    The supply story is also interesting and a bit all over the shop (as you correctly pointed out). That’s another story I can’t get my head around in any meaningful sense. Most certainly it has to do with your countries interactions with that mystical place – the land of stuff. I suspect that there are some historical parallels between relations with your country and the UK in the late 19th century to mid 20th century. There are remarkable similarities, and some striking differences such as the lack of resources and energy in the land of stuff.

    It is beautiful to note that someone on your side of the world is conducting the search for the ultimate bakery product! Biscuits are a worthy adversary and the author in question derived from a culture which knew their business in such matters. Yup, flour ain’t flour that’s for sure. Hey, in a recent coup for the future I finally by sheer chance came across a supply of Spelt wheat seeds. I use Spelt wheat flour and a dash of olive oil on the outside of my bread loaves – and don’t disclose the secret to people who consume the bread. 😉

    Yup, some secrets need to be kept quiet about, and magic names are one of those. Our New Zealand friends might well challenge your own name: ‘Number 16 Bus Shelter’, ‘Violence’ among kids registered names. Hmm… But yeah, I would have done exactly the same as you. The editor worked at a place years ago where some senior bloke had the name Richard Head – I kid you not. Some parents… And yeah I hear you, they know not what they do.

    My grandfather was a straight talking kind of guy and he would probably have looked at the blokes in the hardware store and used a very family unfriendly name for them to their faces. Bizarrely enough he used to call everyone the unfortunate name mentioned in the previous paragraph, and I never found out until his funeral that he called everyone that. One of his business mates disclosed the story in his eulogy – the cheeky old scamp. I thought he just had something in for me calling me that name as a kid. He was a character that’s for sure.

    Mornings are just kind of wrong, as you probably know. And you guessed correctly, and it may also surprise you that the farm is on the southern side of the mountain range facing sort of south-south-westerly, and so the early morning sun never gets a look in here. There are times that I imagine that this was a deliberate choice to settle in such a place! The editor is no good at early mornings either. I’d be curious as to your experience, but I’ve lived with some house mates early on who were up early, and it just grated on my senses.

    Those two dogs could get there too with some sustained digging effort. Personally I’d like to get them to dig out an under ground cold room – like what do you call them: Spring houses, or something like that? They’re very uncommon down under, and honestly to have a house with a basement would be an extraordinarily rare thing. I do often wonder how such rooms are even protected against damp? Beat me.

    Hehe! yeah, nothing beats learning on the job when it comes to plants, of course like you I am delving into the books in between getting out the garden shears. Might even get some grapes this year. Put down a small quantity of diatomaceous earth today in the strawberry / grape cage so as to give the reptiles a chance to catch up with the wood lice and millipedes. That skink is in one good paddock. Honestly, the reptile had eaten so much that all it could do was sit there and digest. The little Fairy Wrens get into the enclosure too, but I should have taken upon your good example and set up some slug traps earlier in the season. Oh well.

    Thanks, and yeah I’m thinking that too, although it is really hard to know. Some of the fruit trees are now kicking up to a decade old and really beginning to produce, and if a property wasn’t an orchard previously or run to cattle or something like that, it just takes a long time to get things going. A neighbour has a single thirty year old apple tree, and that tree alone produces hundreds of apples most years. Time is a precious commodity.

    Yeah, the heatwave not too far north of here is something else, and a bit of a record smasher sorry to say. It used to be that the city of Sydney (which is the capital of the state to the north of here) used to get as many days each year above 86’F as we enjoyed over 104’F, but lately that city has warmed up. I suspect that the built environment there is a big part of the problem.

    Ollie sends cordial tail wags to H, but Ollie did appear to be playing hard to get this week and took some quiet time out!



  7. Hello Chris,

    Regarding your comment about underground cool storage – I think this is a domain where a skilled mason could make a buck in the coming times when refrigeration and food storage will be more challenging.

    Up in Scandinavia, where I come from, every farm had a half-underground storage room for root crops, cheese, dried meats and other foodstuffs. The damp is part of the solution. I suspect that that is part of the reason why it is not so popular anymore – it is not compatible with modern philosophy of housings/buildings.
    Up until 1950, many houses were built with a damp cellar on purpose for this reason, and as long as you keep to materials like stone and brick, it works fine. (Just don’t try to convert your basement to a cozy mancave with home-cinema. That is not compatible.)

    Semi-constant-temperature food storage is important both through winter and through summer.
    Here is a document with pictures for inspiration, maybe you can instruct the dogs to start digging in a strategic location?

    Where I live now, in the Netherlands, most people live just above (pumped) ground water, so basements are not feasible in most places. That should not be a problem in your location.. 😉
    How did the people store foods down under before the fridge came along?


  8. Hi Chris,
    Looks like you’re going to have a very productive year. No Red Smoke bushes here but I do have Prairie Smoke plants – one of the earliest to bloom of my natives.

    I recall your story about the jerk in the hardware store. Jerks come in all age and income groups though – at least I think so.

    We had a very nice Thanksgiving with our daughter, her fiancé, my sister and BIL and aunt. My daughter and future SIL hosted and did a lovely job. Normally Thanksgiving would be 20 – 25 people and it was actually pretty nice having a much smaller group.

    Doug pretty much sold out of honey at the Christmas tree farm across from our old house over the rest of the Thanksgiving weekend so won’t be going back in subsequent weekends like in past years.

    Not much else to report here as we’ve been mostly laying low due to that which cannot be mentioned. I’ve been getting a lot of reading done and finished with the current season of “The Crown”. What a sad family. It’s going to get cold enough tonight that I’ll have to harvest the rest of my greens. I used to have a plastic tunnel to lengthen the season but must have gotten rid of it for the move. I should get another one for next year as the greens could be there for some weeks yet.

    Oh yeah, I planted a non-native Foxglove this year and even though we’ve been through many frosts and several freezes it’s still standing. I also planted a native one this fall so it’ll be interesting to compare.


  9. Yo, Chris – Know yourself. A bit of self examination is not a bad thing. Sometimes, people change spouses, locations or jobs, thinking their problems will all go away. But, as that great sage and philosopher, Mary Engelbreit stated, “No matter where you go, there you are.” My mate Scott has a bumper sticker, that says, “It’s Not Them.” I’m sure a lot of people look at it and wonder what it means. 🙂 .

    “Looks fade, but annoying is forever.” That’s a keeper! Chris ™ ?

    I bought some little thing, in the shop in Baker, but can’t remember what it was. It was a “real” antique shop. Not a shoppe stuffed with “decor” and reeking of potpourri and scented candles.

    Without going too far down the rabbit hole, we have three kinds of coal, in our county. Sub-bituminous, bituminous and anthracite. I found a short article, explaining the difference.


    Back in Ye Olde Days, we had a lot of little coal towns, scattered about. They had quit a few amenities. A school, churches, bars, post office and small business districts. They’re mostly gone, leaving no mark on the land. Favorite hunting grounds for bottle collectors. There is (or was) a lively collectible niche for canceled postal stamps from towns that no longer exist.

    Ruth Goodman is finally getting to the part about coal moving from open grates, to inclosed iron ovens. How cooking methods, utensils and even food, changed. That fine old English institution, the pudding, makes it’s appearance.

    I noticed over at Mr. Greer’s that you mentioned someone has given you the Mickey, about living out and away, due to “health and safety” issues. if you had kids, they’d REALLY be giving you a hard time. Beware! The newish administration here at the Institution is always banging on about health and safety. Usually to justify some policy change that’s inconvenient or just down right invasive. While real security issues go begging. Eleanor has mentioned that she feels pretty safe living here, but not as safe as in the past.

    I don’t know what to think about this idea of encouraging a return to a more rural life. In past, I had a bit of a conspiracy theory going, that a lot of the abandonment of rural areas, was to drive people into the cities. Where they could be more easily controlled, and infrastructure (do to density) would cost less. And, yield more profit. Maybe this “return to the rural” is a bit of bait and switch. Or, a pressure relief valve? Or, maybe, different Powers That Be are working at cross purposes? It’s a puzzle.

    Speaking of puzzles, our local newspaper has not changed their web page in five days. I suppose it could be the holiday. Or, they’ve finally gone broke. Or, the virus got them all.

    I really don’t know much about trade, tariffs and import duties, here in the US. In histories, it’s usually just a side bar. Other than that little incident of tossing a lot of tea in Boston Harbor 🙂 . You hear bits and pieces. This or that industry has taken a hit, or is booming because of some arcane bit of legislation. Or, government fiat.

    Good score on the spelt seed. Best grab what you need, when you see it. It used to be it was a matter of good price. Not it’s more about availability. Maybe.

    That was an interesting article about names. Now, if Talula’s parent had just stopped at Talula, all would have been well, mostly. Talula is and American name. Cited in some places as being Native American or Irish. As far as the meaning goes, ask 5 people, get 4 answers. Might mean “generous lady” or “leaping waters.” That’s the problem with Native American languages. Most have no native speakers, left. And what was written down, was often misheard or phonetically spelled, without much attention to accuracy. Tullulah Bankhead, was a famous actress, during the golden age of Hollywood. She was quit a witty and interesting person. Her most famous role is probably, “Lifeboat.” Directed by Alfred Hitchcock. Worth a look. As far as Number 16 Bus Shelter, goes, I wonder if that was where the poor little tyke was conceived?

    I can’t remember any house mates that were a problem, in the early morning. Of course, in those days, people were, perhaps, a bit more civil. Or, I just got lucky.

    Well, you need a spring, for a spring house. In your case, more a root cellar. If you had a spring, you could put in a mill, to grind your flour and cut your wood 🙂 .

    If you can eke out the time, just a short walk around the strawberry enclosure, just after sundown with a flashlight, armed with a spray bottle of ammonia (and, a few drops of dish soap). Best after a bit of rain. It really doesn’t take long, and the ammonia doesn’t hurt the soil, or, that I’ve noticed, plants. As far as the wood lice go, you might try a few strategically placed small piles of rotting vegetation. At least our American variety, seems to prefer rotting plant material, to the fresh stuff. It may also draw a few slugs. If you kill a slug, leave it be. The next night you’re likely to find his mates, chowing down on the carcass.

    When I took H out for her walk last night, the sky was spectacular. Big moon with a ring around it. Scattered white fluffy clouds, lit up by the moon. Then, about midnight, it started raining, with a vengeance. When I got up this morning, it was still pouring down. But, by the time I got it together to walk the dog, it was blue skies and sunshine. But today is very on and off. Lew

  10. Hey Chris,

    Just think, Leedo has probably been a miserable bastard his whole life. And probably nobody has ever told him that he’s a miserable bastard.

    I had a similar thing once while driving through Dorrigo of all places. I’ve met quite a number of people from there. In fact, one of the best guitarists I ever played with was from Dorrigo. It’s supposed to be hippie country. But I was driving through once and had to stop and get petrol. These three old codgers were sitting on the porch at the petrol station and just starting laying into me for no reason at all. People are weird. Or maybe, as Bucko put it, there’s a lot of mental illness floating around.

    Saw a bit of mental illness yesterday as I had to go to the city to collect the gear for my new job. I had ten minutes to kill so was sitting on the steps of Southern Cross station. No less than three people walked past screaming incoherently. Combined with the fact that more half the people walking on the street were still wearing a mask, it was quite the scene.

  11. Hi Goran, Margaret, Lewis and Simon,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. However it is the evenin’ of the dreaded mid week hiatus combined with what looks like a full moon, and it (the moon not the mid-week hiatus) was just near to the horizon and looked bigger than that skink. I kind of respect that skink, but alas have little time to reply this evening, and promise to speak tomorrow. Until then…



  12. Hello Chris
    Pubs are being allowed to open in Wales but they have to close at 6pm and are not allowed to sell alcohol.
    The people seeking to move out into rural areas here are the wealthy. Lew is almost certainly correct about the wish to corral the proletariat in high rise city enclaves.


  13. Hi Lewis,

    A bit of self reflection is a good thing, but it’s a fine line don’t you reckon, as you wouldn’t want to end up being totally self absorbed like some fictional guy, say with the name Holden. I guess like everything there is a nice bit of middle ground to discover, and sometimes we’ll all be a bit ahead and then a bit behind in that matter.

    Loved the Mary Engelbreit quote. 🙂 Dunno where I picked up a quote, and I may have mentioned it to you before but: Darkness of the soul is not lifted by relocating the soul.

    Actually, Scott may be incorrect and there are times that I do rather lean towards the point of view which suggests that in fact it may well be them, whoever they are. Simon makes the good point that there is a lot of mental health issues in the community, and that observation was originally derived from someone who works in that particular field.

    It’s pretty funny isn’t it? And so true, yes a good rule of thumb for a partner is to ensure that don’t send you bonkers. Poor Echo.

    Hey, how do you even know if the antique stuff you come across is the real deal and not a reproduction? Some places down here sell reproductions, and the quality is amazing.

    I shall save the coal article for tomorrow evening. Worked in the big smoke today and then went out for dinner for Vietnamese food at a place I hadn’t been to before. Vermicelli noodles with chicken and vegetables. It was very good, but I’m curious about their Pho.

    Yeah, I can see how that happens with a town being shut down once the resources are tapped out. The little hamlet here was really set up for timber harvesting and milling, and apparently after WWII, there was only a single person living up in this corner of the mountain range. Clearly a person who enjoyed their quiet time.

    Well it is a bit of a problem, and everytime there is an investigation into bushfires, someone comes up with the bright idea of shutting down these rural areas to dwellings. The thing is, once you’re outside a major coastal city, your fair game for a bushfire. Even the nations capital of Canberrra (as urban as it gets) copped a really bad one in 2003. How many national capital cities are at risk of bushfire?

    I hear you about that at some admin folks get a real bee-in-their-bonnet about an issue and forget some of the less glamorous reasons for their existence. If you’re doing OK and Eleanor’s doing OK, then you’re probably OK. Incidentally have they had any rioting out your way? I’d be surprised to hear that it was so, but then who knows?

    I tend to agree with you about the pressure to move folks into cities. It is not as if that hasn’t been a long shadow on our collective culture for a very long time. And old habits die hard, but I dunno either, and am pondering what it all means. The pressure relief valve is possibly not too far from the mark either. What we sow, we do tend to reap.

    That would most definitely get in the news if your local news folks all ended up dead at their workplace. It would be a bit eerie, but most certainly the news would, dare I say it, go viral! 😉

    Dunno, but I reckon your trade tariffs story is wrapped up in the whole free trade agreement story. I guess it all depends on who is forcing whom to sign what. The businesses which were open seemed to be doing OK tonight, although with reduced seating – due to distancing – there were less staff and things were slower, but we’re not in any rush, and the food was good. Restaurants are a volume business and it is hard to match costs with customers.

    Exactly, that has been my motto this year about grab it whilst ya can. There are times I feel that I’m cutting some things a little bit too fine for my comfort levels. The spelt seed was good, but wheat seems to be growing pretty well here, other than the birds taking some of the initial seed sown.

    Mate, I’m going to hit the sack, I’m tired. 🙂



  14. Yo, Chris – As a friend, I’ve got to tell you, it’s time to let Holden, go. Time to move on. He’s taking up way too much space in your head, where there could be room for far more interesting things. 🙂 . I managed to move beyond the ENTIRE year, spent dissecting “Great Expectations.” I hardly flinched at all, typing the title. But, a few years of intensive psychotherapy, and a few follow-ups, and I’m right as rain! Really, I am! .

    Yup. It’s a fine line between a bit of self examination, and self absorbed. Navel gazing. One could fall in, and there may be all kinds of unsavory elements, in there. Lint. A rich variety of flora and fauna. Probably not as bad as falling head first into other orifices. 🙂

    Mental health issues? Here at the Institution, they’re on display in all their gaudy splendor. It’s why I don’t talk to very many people, very much. I don’t want to know. Eleanor has taken to locking her door, during the day, just yesterday. I don’t know where this new level of paranoia is coming from. She swears she hears someone opening and closing her door. That there is strange activity in the hallway. She’s a windows-wide-open kind of a person, and I suggested that it might be the pressure differential, rattling the door. She’s not buying it. Doesn’t create a problem, for me, as I have a key.

    Well, they hauled out an Inmate, early this morning. Someone just down the hall, across from Eleanor. I wonder if … On one hand, the Inmate has a lot of health issues. On the other, she doesn’t observe many of the basic protocols. And, she spends a lot of time with her daughter’s family. Her daughter works in Olympia (which has been racking up hundreds of new cases a day) and has had people at her place of employment, be stricken. The newspaper website, was finally updated, yesterday. Between Thursday and Monday, we had 74 new cases.

    In one of those coincidences, I ran across a painting of Echo and Narcissus on one of the archeology web sites. I didn’t know they were an item. Narcissus is the dude that was so enamored by his own reflection, in a pool, that he (depending on which myth you read) either drowned, or starved to death. The tale is told in Ovid’s (43BCE-18ACE … an interesting fellow in his own right) “Metamorphoses.”

    So, how do I tell the difference between real and fake? Well, I lay on hands and catch the vibe. 🙂 . Seriously, though, I’ve just picked up this and that, over the years. If I’m wondering if a piece of glass is older, I get light to bounce off the bottom rim. Just being moved around on a shelf, will, over the years, create a fine mist of scratches. When it comes to Currier and Ives prints, the modern reprints are usually collections of colored dots. Lithographs don’t have that. It’s why I carry a small magnifying glass. No matter how carefully things are kept, there’s always a bit of wear and tear.

    Back in the day, there were plenty of books and periodicals that would tip you off to repros. Now, there’s all this information on the net. You might find this interesting …


    Notice the article on Roseville Pottery, in the lower right. I have a bit of Roseville, and bought and sold a lot, back in the day. The thing is, I’ve seen and handled the reproductions (out of China) and the workmanship just isn’t there. I can spot a repro, at 20 paces. Over the last year, at auction, there were two items that I mulled over. One was a cast iron bank. A collecting area that is heavily reproduced. There were some hints that that one was reproduced, but if I could have handled it (it was an on-line auction) I probably could have known. Another was two porcelain gray hound dogs. I did research, and got to handle them. It was kind of 6 of one and half a dozen of another. But some gut instinct told me they weren’t quit “right.” Sometimes, if something is just a buck or two, I’ll take a flyer, and do the research, later.

    Odd you should ask about riots. Well, of course, Portland and Seattle went up. Here, there were various small demonstrations, of one type or another, but all peaceful and no problems. But in a coincidence, just yesterday, I saw in the paper that the Centralia police chief is a bit miffed. The city council took $15,000 – $20,000 out of his budget, for “riot gear.” It was pointed out to him that there hand’t been a riot in Centralia, since 1918. Boys and their toys. Then he made some comment about “people of color” (not the exact term he used, but it wasn’t the usual slur) would come to our county and do bad things, and the poop hit the fan. Lew

  15. Hello Chris et al,

    I am curious to learn more about the rural/city dynamics in your locations. Here in the minuscule country of The Netherlands, plenty of retirees purchase an old farm an hour or two away from Amsterdam (and that covers 90% of the country).
    The boomers is the most wealthy segment and they drive real estate costs up for everyone else. They own most of the stocks on the soaring markets and don’t lose any income due to the health subject… And in the countryside villages they meet so few people that the infection rates are very low.

    There is a very, very tiny group of ecology driven tiny-homers and permaculture enthousiasts who move out of the towns to be able to purchase an acre or two. Near the cities in the center of the country, one hectare (2 acres) cost more than 100,000 USD (80,000 euro). So the only place where one can purchase land at a price in parity with agricultural value is far from the cities, on the eastern fringe.

    Looking forward to hearing more about this!

  16. Hi Simon,

    I hope you only have good things to say about Dorrigo, I grew up there 🙂 but, yeah, it is full of umm…. Characters….


  17. Hi Goran,

    I loved cycling around the Netherlands ( well, ok we spent a day doing it). To be frank, $80k is stupid cheap, at least for an Australian 🙁

    I have seriously considered moving to other countries to buy land, but realistically,if you are not fluent in the local language…and even then…

    Luckily there are other options, but a lot of people still feel they *must* buy a patch of dirt. Have a stroopwafel for me 🙂


  18. Hi Goran,

    I’ll give you an example to show how crazy real estate is in Australia. I have a friend who lives in a place called Brooms Head. Look it up on google maps. It’s a small town that has a caravan park and a corner store/fish and chip shop (the fish and chips aren’t even any good). It’s a 35 minute drive to the nearest slightly larger town.

    Last time I was there, the block next to him sold for over a million dollars to somebody from Sydney. It’s about 300m2 of sand. Yeah, it’s near the beach. But the beach isn’t that great by Australian standards.

    An even crazier dynamic exists in Byron Bay. The rents there are so expensive that none of the people that actually work in the town (mostly hospitality staff) can afford to live there.

    Australia desperately needs a massive correction in real estate prices/rent but no politician will allow that to happen.

  19. @ Damo,

    Maybe those three old blokes are the only ones left in Dorrigo. Everybody else left cos they couldn’t put up with their s#$t anymore.

  20. @Simon

    The three old blokes probably just recognised an obvious out-of-towner, and (rightfully) sent you packing 🙂

    BTW – reading your propaganda articles. Good stuff /thumbs up emoji


  21. Hi Inge,

    Yes, welcome the Welsh to what had been my world until only very recently. The local pub was shut for originally six weeks, but that went on for almost thirteen weeks. They still did takeaway at one point, but beers and pizza eaten in the cold winter outdoors when the air temperature was near freezing and the clouds delivered rain was a bit of a problem.

    The tentacles of the Temperance League linger long and hang over society like a dirty shadow always waiting for its day in the sun.

    The social costs are mounting up behind all of this.

    I can see that there is a bit of tension arising out of the real estate story. Hmm, I’ll have to consider this.

    Hope things are not too crazy up your way?



  22. Hi Goran,

    It just so happens that I have constructed a few brick walls in my time, and so know a thing or two about masonry construction. Mate, I have to slip that project past the editor, and as yet she is not convinced as to the merits of doing that project, at this stage anyway. As the editor is also the brew-master, that may be the angle I may take… We make a fairly decent Sake (Asian rice wine) and have introduced the sake to some interesting people who have been very pleased with the outcomes. However, one thing sake needs is low temperatures, and so underground storage is the ideal project.

    Thanks for the view from the local ground, as to underground storage in your previous part of the world. It just so happens by way of comparison, that even here I have to have damp proof courses to stop moisture rising from the soil up into the timber structure of the house. It is a complicated problem down here, as the ants tend to take advantage of damp timber. For the ants, damp timber is easier for them to feast upon the cellulose. So houses frames have to be kept dry. Incidentally, this understanding also has wider applications to the health of the local forest.

    Thank you very much for the link to the PDF article on underground food storage constructions in Scandinavia. Interesting, and I’m rather envious of your square edged rocks, but would probably use recycled century old red bricks, mortar and cement in any project along those lines. The images of the curing cheese rounds were beautiful.

    Bear in mind I was birthed in Melbourne and whilst having travelled widely, I never thought to move too far from my original home city. Out of curiosity, what prompted your move?

    Between you and I, and please this is meant as no disrespect to your countrymen, but if Florida, and all the resources they can bring to bear upon the same problem, kind of can’t address the inevitability of rising water tables, how do you reckon your lot will do any better?

    A top question! 🙂 We had the Coolgardie Safe which is an Australian invention and it keeps the bugs off food, as well as using evaporative cooling to keep perishable food stuffs cool. But not that long ago there used to be businesses which produced ice, and the refrigerator was also a down under invention. Before that, well there was drying, salting and just keeping up a garden. If I had more time, I’d tell you how the fresh food markets used to work back in the day when they connected householders to producers. The fresh food markets are still there too, and I shop at one for stuff that I don’t grow myself. It’s an interesting cultural experience for people raised on supermarket shopping. The supermarkets aren’t that super from my perspective.

    You’ve created quite the discussion with talk of land prices and rural living, which candidly to our ears down here, does sound a bit on the cheap and affordable side of things. Perhaps it is time I wrote about this subject?



  23. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks. The farm gets a little bit more productive every single year, and the greenhouse has really opened up new worlds of opportunity. I’m quite astounded at how dependent I was on various suppliers of seedlings when things went horribly wrong – like last spring (which was non-existent).

    Just for your info too, the orchards are getting a little bit better every year. With a lot of work I could probably get the trees to grow faster, but hey, sometimes there are not enough hours in the day! 🙂

    Late this afternoon, the Globe artichoke seedlings were planted out, as were the Mung Beans and some of the mild Chili’s. Yes, I’m soft, and mild chili’s and all that. I ask you – would you try chili’s with the names: Death and Ghost? A bit ominous sounding for my tastes.

    Can you believe that I had the awful realisation today that more growing space is required! Far out!

    The Prairie Smoke plants are really pretty in the same way as the large smoke bush here.

    So true, so very true. 😉 It would be nice if jerks weren’t as commonly encountered as they seem to be. My personal philosophy is that I hope for the best, but expect the worst and then nip problems in the bud before they escalate. Kind of works for me. The thing I never really understood about the hardware jerks was why were they poking me in the first place? It seemed like an unwise move.

    Actually sometimes smaller groups are a whole bunch more fun for such events and glad to hear that you had a good time. Word on the grapevine is that Christmas is going to be super-weird down here due to the health subject which dares not be named, so I’ve kind of resigned myself to the inevitability and will make some arrangements of some sort or another.

    Hope the new owners of the Christmas Tree Farm are enjoying themselves, and it is nice that the arrangement that Doug had continues. Actually where has the year gotten too? It’s not that far from Christmas now. I assume that things will be super-weird up in your part of the world too?

    I’ve heard good things on the youth radio of all places about The Crown series. I heard that they introduced the Diana character for this current season? Sad yes, but I don’t feel too badly for them. Incidentally, the editor loved Schitts Creek. 🙂

    Extending the growing season is always a wise idea. It is warm enough here – just – that greens can struggle on (or at least not die) through the winter. And fresh winter greens is a valuable commodity. Have you considered a greenhouse or conservatory yourself?

    I’ll be interested to hear how your foxglove comparison goes. Interestingly the foxglove seedlings roughly planted into the fern gully look like they are doing well.



  24. Hi Simon,

    You’re probably right about Leedo. The thing that troubled me about the incident was that after the first brusque rebuttal, he doubled down rather than letting it go. Such an odd thing for a person in his weak position to have done, and it is possible that having a couple of his mates to hand lent him a degree of courage – or possibly foolhardiness – which was kind of wrong. To have acted act so is a breach of the social norms, and that kind of thing erodes the social niceties. They’re kind of important, but you know…

    The point of the story anyway was to show that the millennial bloke was working hard, I was discomfited, and to make the older bloke look like an idiot.

    It’s funny you mention that about Leedo never having been told before. At a comedy show a year or two back, I watched a young lady tell a story about her interaction with her granddad. Her granddad was unfortunately breaking her about weight, which concluded in the line: “We’re so worried about you. You’re fat!” Brutal and very unkind words. The comedian apparently replied: “F@#$ off papu!” And the story further unfolded that the grandmother gave the comedian $100, with the cryptic remark that: “Someone needed to say that to him”. 🙂

    Don’t know that part of the world all that well, although it appears that Damo does! 🙂 Mate, I had that treatment too years ago in the small town of Foster. The bloke at the petrol station cracked the sads about the old hatchback Torana, which frankly was a bit beaten up, but cars were expensive in those days and that was as good as it got due to budget constraints. My thinking is that it is best to move on when outnumbered as you never know, who they know. What caused the damage in the first place was an old bloke who ran into me in another small country town (he was doing a u-turn) and he immediately took off to the local cop shop, where he knew the bloke behind the counter. That was a painful episode.

    You’ve had an interesting experience in the big smoke. Haven’t been in there for almost nine months now, myself. By all accounts it’s a bit weird there. And yes, this is a definite city vs. rural difference. Nobody wears a mask up here on the streets, but I was at Smith Street, Collingwood last evening and yeah there were a few masks worn. We were among the older folks out and about too, but it is good to see some life left there and some of the businesses were rocking along.



  25. Hi Lewis,

    How’s that working out for you? Hehe! I believe you, despite the eye twitch. Far out, I will do my best to forget the Holden-whinge-fest-in-three-dimensions, but it is going to be super-hard to do so. However there was that one bit in the book… Oops. Mate, I’m struggling. The pain… 🙂 Maybe a bit of hypnotherapy will do the trick?

    Oh, you’re on fire tonight with the lint and rich variety of flora and fauna line. I bow to your greater linguistic skills. Now what would Holden do in this situation? Oops!

    Well, according to a friend who works in the field, and encounters the more problematic end of the mental health issue continuum, he casually mentioned that ‘mental health issues in the community were rife’, before clamming up and not espousing any further on the subject? Is that the teaser opening line for a discussion subject or what? I’m just grateful that the comment wasn’t delivered with a thoughtful and appraising gaze.

    Only Eleanor knows how she feels about such matters, so I dunno. Sometimes as the editor and I drive through some areas of the big smoke which have some rather dubious and interesting characters, she does ask me to lock the car doors. Some of the mental health institutes have folks who roam the streets during the day. I used to utilise a strip shopping street which had such a place near by, and there was always something weird going on. The editor also utilised the strip shopping street, and some guy used to call out at the top of his lungs: “Hey miss”, and of course he never hassled me. But it sounded like “Hey mish”, so we nicknamed him “Hamish”. He was mostly harmless, but annoyingly loud. He used to use the yelling technique to shake folks down for coins.

    Sorry to hear that about the inmate. Nobody wants a complicated health history, as this is a bad thing even under the more usual circumstances.

    Glad to hear that the local newspaper has recommenced, and that the journalists hadn’t been abducted by aliens. For some reasons aliens seem to want to probe us humans, and that seems like an unfortunate desire on their part.

    Actually I noticed Echo turning up in pictures with Narcissus. Ah, an interesting story, and Echo was dealt a harsh hand. Ovid was a truly interesting person. And thank gawd none of us here suffer from Narcissistic personality disorder. What a frightful bore such a person would be.

    Ah, of course a trade learned over many years, would alert your senses to the subtleties of reproductions. And wear being an advantage in such items is something that had not occurred to me. I hear you about the coloured dots versus the lithograph. And who knew that there was an offset lithograph?

    Wow. The interior of the Roseville items were apparently not glazed and the clay was of a different colour. However, the repo dudes have what appears to be the original moldings. There would be a story there about how that state of affairs came to be.

    The question about the riots was a lucky guess based on news from your country. Well has anyone actually turned up to riot in your town? The facts would suggest that if it has been over a century with no present threat of such on the horizon, then the budget could use some trimming. Anyway, what did they do with the stuff they got last year and what about the year before that? So many questions arise from that story, and candidly not many are good questions.

    Met a few people in my time, and none of them were called Talula. The loss of indigenous languages is a problem down here too. We have discussed before how language shapes culture, and I believe that language also shapes a cultures relationship to the land. It is a complex subject and I am no expert in such matters.

    And I’m suspecting that what happened at Bus stop number 16, should have ended there – do we really need to know about this feat and the kid would have copped some serious bullying. Kids can be little animals.

    Actually there was only one time I can recall where a house mate partied hard in a next door room and I had to get up early the next morning for work. But no doubts I’ve been a terror, so what goes around comes around and all that.

    Hehe! Yeah, there is a bit of a lack of springs in this here mountain range. No doubts the mountain range is impressive enough (relative to local conditions), but it is not nearly big enough to produce springs. A bit of a shame that. My mates of the big shed fame sunk another well last year.

    Thanks for the advice regarding the strawberries and the various insect critters out to harvest them. The diatomaceous earth does seem to have slowed the critters down markedly. Today’s haul of strawberries was quite good.

    Planted out the Globe Artichokes, some of the chilli’s and the Mung Beans today. Am … running … out … of … growing … space! Can you believe that? Crazy stuff. Oh well.



  26. Yo, Chris – Yes, hypnotherapy might work. Or, maybe desensitization training. You’d have to read the book, ten times, and make a report on it, each time. Or maybe, CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Training). I’m sure there is help out there, to break the cycle of Holden fixation. 🙂 .

    Speaking of mental health issues, I was reminded of …


    One minute, 40 seconds. I did so like the original “Stand.”

    I suppose you’ve heard about the monolith that has appeared (in the State of Utah), disappeared, and reappeared in Romania. I figure it’s aliens. It’s their way of planting flags of conquest.

    Poor Ovid. Banished and never saw Rome, again. Probably due to getting caught up in a scandal, with the Emperor Augustus’ only child, Julia. Though she was quit a piece of work herself. With good reason. She was banished to a small island, with no wine and no male companionship. 🙁 .

    The Roseville Pottery repros were probably made from molds of original pieces. Which is why they look so blurry. Pottery repros are pretty easy to tell. I have a McCoy pottery pitcher, that has been reproduced. But the repro is an inch taller, than the original. Now glass repros are a real problem. Molds got sold around.

    We had quit a spat of little, off the beaten track towns, where the pitchforks and torches were out, because someone got on Face Plant and spread the rumor that bus loads of rioters were coming to their town. Imagine the disappointment, when everyone was whipped into a froth (lots of guns waving around) and no one showed? I’d say, ideas of their own self importance was greatly exaggerated.

    Kids ARE little animals.

    I got to wondering where diatomaceous earth came from. If there could be supply problems. Germany, here in the US and, oddly, the Isle of Skye. You might want to stock up on that stuff.

    I took another walk down to the chemist, last night. Do you remember when chemists carried bats of cotton, wrapped in blue paper? I needed some for a bit of Christmas tat. Well, either they no longer make it, in that form, or, that chemist chain doesn’t carry it. The place was deserted, and I talked to a very nice clerk, who said she hadn’t seen any in years. But, I found two good sized bags of large cotton balls, and I’ll make do. The same clerk checked me out, and I commented that I’d make do. I got to thinking how often she must run across similar situations, where people melt down, because they can’t get exactly what they want, when they want it. Instead of making do.

    As a fringe benefit, I discovered the seasonal chocolate covered cherries and chocolate orange balls. Both in dark chocolate. Bought two packs of each.

    At one of the archaeology / classics news aggregate sites, they were having there “Mosaic Monday.” Seemed to be a theme of The Seasons. Both mosaics and sculptures, showed up. Some were quit striking. Winter, weather a male or female personification, is always well bundled up! Lew

  27. Hi Chris,

    In regard to your strawberries, I notice they are mulched. This is no surprise as you have explained why you mulch everything and that you have sources of mulch and the means of bringing them to your place. But it must be remembered that slugs love mulch as it provides the damp, dark, cool conditions that they require, and slugs also love strawberries. Your wood lice (sowbugs/roly-polys/pillbugs here) also like the mulch because they are decomposers, busily feeding on the mulch to aid its decomposition and ready to feed on your strawberries to add variety to their diet. 😉 This is why I don’t mulch my strawberries, instead allowing them to grow thickly enough to nearly cover the soil, minimizing weeds. It works well for me. But it may not work as well for you.

    I have harvested almost everything out of the garden due to a morning low of 16F / -9C yesterday. Only the leeks, kale, and arugula are left as they can withstand those temperatures. I’m now engaged in calculating yields to understand the results of this year’s garden conversation. When all that is done, I will post it to my blog. That may not be till next month however. Still have to get through holiday activities first.

    To all of you who want cheap property: you’ll find it where I live. Under $100K will get you a small house and one acre of land. But you have to put up with midwestern US weather.


  28. Hi Chris,

    Mrs Damo and I are doing well thank you – although perhaps not as well as your fat skinks 🙂 (I call them penny lizards)

    It is certainly a hot topic, perhaps the ‘Rona will have some impacts on property – although I note that so far, the impact seems to be for even further price increases – especially for out of town properties. I hope those people buying with long commutes from the city have a plan for when WFH is not a thing anymore….


  29. Hi Claire,

    That price sounds amazing for an acre and a house. I note in the US, wages in my profession run at about 1/2 what they are in Australia, but even then, that probably works out about 3x more affordable than most regional land in Australia.

    That is the most annoying thing – high city prices I understand, but in Australia – even remote properties carry a hefty price tag – requiring a full-time job to pay off. In most other places in the world, if you are happy with a fixer-upper, or a less trendy area, there are still plenty of affordable places. Ironically, Japan, with a very high population density basically gives away rural properties. Australia, with only 25 million people on an entire continent has asking prices starting from half-a-million :-/


  30. Hi Damo,

    Glad to hear that your good self and Mrs Damo are doing well. Had the day off and went to the cinema to watch a film from your part of this huge continent today. It was an adaption of a Tim Winton book. The scenery is stunning and the editor and I were the only people in the cinema.

    You’re quite correct too regarding ‘rona’ and I had predicted such a turn of events, and now fess up to being wrong. It is possible that everything will get chucked under the bus to support this monster. And yes, I will write about the subject this week. However, it is important to recall that up until the end of March next year, businesses are being supported with JobKeeper payments to support employment and also the JobSeeker amount has been increased. Now what happens when those two supports get kicked out from under the population is anyone guess at this stage. I’m sorry, but I wish this thing had never happened.



  31. Hi Claire,

    Of course! So obvious, but so difficult to see from my perspective, and thank you for pointing the obvious out to me. I do not have enough water to not mulch those berries though. Hmm.

    Oh my! 16’F is very cold, and I won’t mention that today was a beautiful cool still summers day at 73’F. Oops! Leeks and aragula are very cold hardy, but I had no idea they’d survive such cold weather. Little wonder they shrug off the occasional snowfall.

    Yesterday I planted out some chilli’s and the mung beans. Fingers crossed, the soil looked as though it still had plenty of water in it.

    Can you believe that we’ve almost run out of growing space… Ook! I’m now looking at harvesting the wheat so as to create space so as to be able to plant out the peanuts. A mate of mine laughed when I told him I was seriously trialling peanuts here… It might work.

    It is an interesting topic property.



  32. Hi Lewis,

    I promise not to talk about Holden for at least a few days, but I tell ya I am rather enjoying our witty and amusing banter. The dickens you say! 🙂 I’ll be good from here on end – promise, but I really don’t know whether I can find it in me to forgive the educators for the lost time reading that book.

    T. S. Eliot is probably more correct than he knows, although to be fair, he probably had read a fair bit of history and took the hint. A copy of The Stand is on its way to me, and before you ask, yes it is the extended mix – as you’d imagine. Enjoyable summer reading.

    We took the day off work today and went to the cinema in the big smoke and were the only people at the screening for ‘Dirt Music’ which was set over in Western Australia. A very pretty film to look at, but the characters were complicated people with dark background histories. I enjoyed it, but it may not be your to your taste.

    I reckon I’ve had about one week off in the past three years, and this year has been intense. Strangely enough the city appeared quieter to me today, although I read an article which suggested that hooray, the recession is over, but the very next article said otherwise. Those pesky Elves again saying both yes and no and confusing all of us!

    Had a really nice grilled chicken, bacon, lettuce and shredded Parmesan cheese burger today for lunch. And it was good.

    But yeah, just keeping it cool today and taking it easy. It is a beautiful summers day here today too. Really nice. 73’F sunny skies and no wind to speak of.

    How cool is the monolith prank. Does anyone not realise that 2001, as written by Mr Clarke, was set almost 20 years ago? Had to read the book as the ending of the film made little sense to my young brain. It would have been a good stoner film. 🙂 I have to fess up to having read the sequels which were quite good, but thoroughly implausible.

    That does appear to be the subtext about our old mate Ovid. It puts me in mind of Tolkien, but you can easily substitute Emperor’s for the Wizard reference.

    “But it is said: Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger. The choice is yours: to go or wait.’

    Hey, it works, and poor old Ovid had perhaps meddled with Julia and both were banished. Emperor’s rarely enjoy competition – they seem like the jealous sorts to me. And the waiting bit for Ovid may have been very final and perhaps also swift.

    Yes, I can see how glass would be a much more challenging proposition to assess than pottery / ceramics which have a lot more detail. Thus your mention of age wear and tear. I guess if glassworks have gone to the wall then, the molds get sold and that is how it goes.

    What nobody showed up to the riot? That’s real old school anarchy right there where nobody really knows what is going on! I have a hunch the rioters will stick to their known haunts. Gobarmints are particularly skilled at wielding violence, and I forgot to mention last week about the ludicrous ring of steel matter down here, where it was full of holes, but gulags are probably far easier logistically.

    Hehe! 🙂 People do get rather upset when this is pointed out to parents.

    Yes, I am considering this supply issue, and you may have inadvertently supplied me with the story for the supply issue. Thanks!

    Might have to put a trigger warning on next weeks blog on property just so everyone doesn’t get too upset. Should I walk away from such a story though? It happened…

    Dark chocolate covered seasonal cherries and chocolate orange balls sounds awesome. A real score. If you could leave a note for the magic food box people, you’d be onto a winner there.

    After all it is a truth universally acknowledged that winter is cold and so even deities have to rug up and keep warm. A lot of the images of Echo from across the ages suggests that the talkative nymph would be uncomfortable with proper winter conditions!

    The seedlings planted out yesterday seem to be doing OK, although I’ll soon have to slow down on water use. I’m just kind of getting them established at this stage. The wheat is looking good and I may have to harvest it soon. It has been an epic wheat harvest down under this year. Massive.



  33. I’m glad the editor enjoyed Schitt’s Creek. Fun viewing during challenging times.

    No I won’t be getting any greenhouse at this point in life. I get just about all my plant started under lights in the basement. It’s a 3 tiered plant stand so I can fit what I need. I get some of my slow growing seedling such as rosemary and peppers from one of the purveyers at the farmer’s market. Some of the plants you’re starting I just direct seed i.e. cucumbers, squashes and the like.

    My sister, Kathleen, got tested for Covid. She’s the one with Crohn’s and she and her husband own the restaurant. They were both sick but not too bad. She won’t get her results back for a few more days. We’ve had a few friends test positive too and one is pretty sick.

    Doug just got home and he got a deer, a big doe, so more venison for us.

    Don’t know if I mentioned it but our neighbors with the many childrens’ home is under contract. They have 7 acres though some is marshy, a few small outbuildings and a sizeable home. Haven’t heard what they sold it for but it was listed at $369,000. We are pretty far out from the city though and 15 minutes from the train if and/or when people start going back to offices.

    Glad you and the editor got out to a movie and dinner. I can’t see that for us in the foreseeable future.


  34. Hello Chris et al.,

    I look very much forward to a post about your view on real estate cost/prize.

    Here in Europe, the power shift towards the owning classes is very marked in the real estate area. Most people spend more on housing now than 30 years ago. Real estate prices go up when the official state bond interests (and subsequently mortgage interests) are pushed down.

    As a consequence, those who own real estate win and those who don’t lose, and start to take to the streets. Usually with the opaque understanding of an angry mob, blaming rental house owners instead of the central banks.

    The response is scattered. The central banks pretend they are not involved and local politicians try their best to do what they can.
    Last month Berlin city government decided to freeze all rental fees (including the “free market”) for five years, after several waves of popular protests.

    My guess is that we will escalate into an inflationary crash this time.

    It is also a romantic story how I came to live in Holland. It started with meeting a beautiful young woman 25 years ago… And indeed, considering sea level rise, this is not a place for the future, even though we live on a hill at +5 meter above the sea. I don’t want to live on an island. 😉 So, the plan is to evacuate before the levees break. There was actually a short TV drama with excellent computer graphics animations about the upcoming flooding of the Netherlands, see a trailer with pictures here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=itDV-VrTTyg&list=PLF5U_9A5f1W445yNBotwuAo7e1OL8NtSN&index=7
    However, most people believe in technology, and plenty of people still build new houses below sea level. I think this is a prime example of delusion that comes out of what JM Greer calls “the Religion of Progress”.
    A similar mechanism is driving “development” of tinder box house neighborhoods on top of hillsides in California. Is the building industry more sane down under?


  35. Yo, Dude! – It’s good you got the unabridged “The Stand.” It will serve as a nice door stop, when you’ve finished it 🙂 .

    I walked to the library, yesterday, and picked up “Bill and Ted Face the Music.” Dude! Awesome! So, it was a popcorn (with soy sauce and nutritional yeast), those chocolates and peanut butter cookies for dinner and viewing. 🙂 .

    I’m also reading “Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure.” (Cleaver title. Wonder how the author came up, with it?) I really didn’t know much about President Truman, except he followed FDR and ok’d dropping the bombs on Japan. In 1953, Truman and his wife Bess, decided to take a road trip, from their home in Missouri, to Philadelphia. Much to my surprise, in those days, ex-presidents didn’t have Secret Service protection. Or, a pension, for that matter.

    So off they set, hoping to pass unnoticed. Sometimes, it worked. Sometimes, it didn’t. The author traveled the same route, and visited as many places that are still in existence. Talked to as many people, that are still alive, that talked to Truman. There was an interesting exchange, in Frostburg, Maryland. The cafe the Truman’s stopped at is still in business. Run the the third descendent, of the original owner. The owner and author were talking, out front, as the owner of the cafe reeled off all the businesses that used to line Main Street. Now, just empty store fronts. First a highway bypassed the town. Then another. Then a Wally World super store opened up a few miles away. The same story told across hundreds of towns in America. The story of my town.

    Yup. When the monolith made an appearance, it was compared to Clarke’s film. Even had clips of that little bit. “2001” is a stoner film. Right up there with Disney’s “Fantasia.” 🙂 . According to reports.

    Well, Ovid got off lucky. Several of the young men fiddling with the emperor’s daughter, were executed. Her first marriage was to her cousin, Augustus’s sister Octavia’s son. He was being groomed to succeed, but died young. Convenient, no? It was a love match. After that, Julia was just a pawn in dynastic games. First married off to Augustus’s buddy, Agrippa. Then to dour old Tiberius. What’s a girl to do? The Emperor’s sister, Octavia, didn’t fare much better. One political marriage, after another. But, after Marc Anthony, she said “Enough!”

    Yes, glass molds got sold around. They cost a lot to produce. But, with luck, they went to companies that indelibly marked the glass with their own logo. And maybe made the new pieces in different colors or finishes. But as the old glass companies died, one by one, a lot of those molds ended up in China.

    I doubt we’ll find fancy chocolates, in our Magic Food Boxes. But sometimes they show up in the cheap food stores, after Christmas. But, they weren’t too dear, at the chemist. 2 for $4 and 2 for $5.

    I suppose you’ve looked into when wheat is ready to harvest? Sure, you have.

    Morons! Well, administration didn’t call a real exterminator, for the rats, in the dumpster room. I noticed Lazy, Shiftless Jack, the maintenance guy, was here, this morning. When I took H out for her walk, and went to dispose of her bag, there was an enormous rat trap, right in front of the door to the dumpster room! H almost stepped on it. Heck, I almost stepped on it.

    I see where a carpet python tried to snatch a dog, in Queensland. My, I see carpet pythons are native, unlike ours which were introduced.

    Well, I see by looking on-line, that one can still get the bats of cotton, wrapped in blue paper. Of course, my first couple of searches only yielded bats (the flying kind) printed on cotton. Gotta love the search engines. Lew

  36. Chris,

    Now that I’m back from doing that…”That” was going out of town for a funeral. Yup, our 3rd relative lost to the unmentionable. Also the 3rd funeral my wife has attended in 6 weeks, my 2nd. This rellie probably caught the thing at the first of those 3 funerals which had an indoor component. This didn’t. And we were all masked up in a nasty wind outdoors at the cemetery.

    Anyhow, I had a chance while driving to think about a comment you made last week about reason having limits. My first reaction was that if reason is properly done, I would disagree with you. But then I thought and thought and thought some more.

    If the underlying assumptions are correct, reason is powerful. If all of the variables are known and included, reason is very powerful. Oooops, we don’t always know all of the variables. Sometimes knowing them all makes things too complicated to reason through. Hmmm, sounds like some obvious limits. And this is ignoring human emotion, which, as we’re humans, needs to be included, somehow.

    Meanwhile, out on the Quantum Mechanical Ranch, things get interesting. We can “solve” a problem that gives a solution with several possible answers, some having a higher probability of occurring than do others. Yet, in, say, a “single slit experiment”, we know that there will be a bell curve type of pattern made by different light photons over time. But, we don’t know where any individual photon will end up, we simply know the probabilities. One possible explanation is that the photons themselves have consciousness and choose where to land for whatever reason.

    Sometimes working through something leads to choices, and sometimes none of the choices are better or worse than any of the others. How does one decide which to choose? Reason alone won’t tell you.

    Conclusion: oh, yeah, reason has some hard limits. Thanks for bringing that up. I enjoyed reasoning through that on the road.

    I’m all in. The last few days were draining.


  37. Hi, Chris!

    I think that you handled those creaky ruffians just as you should have. The thought did occur to me – of course, I am looking at the situation after the fact – that you might have given Leedo a stink eye and with a quiet Scottish accent tell him: “Me motherrrr’s name was Campbell. Be you MacDonald? Aye, ye remember Glencoe . . . “. Though if his name turned out to be Campbell or MacDonald WWIII might have started . . .

    You do seem to have a water flow problem. Good luck with that.

    What are the purple flowers hanging over the fence of the lovely dog enclosure?

    Do you prune those olive trees in the photo only to keep that nice shape? And in early summer (though in your grape vine photo you have on a jersey)? The vines look very happy in their house.

    That skink looks like he can hardly move. Hope he doesn’t like strawberries.

    Your wheat really is producing.

    What an other-worldy photo with the cobalt blue, pink and purple, and yellow sky. Incredible!

    The flowers are lovely; thank you so much. The Red Smoke Bush really looks like red smoke.

    That is a really nice heating system that you have.


  38. @ Lew:

    Yes! Bob got his name that way, but also the fact was considered that he was nuts and that maybe a nice, plain, simple name would make him think he was normal. Well, that did not work, but he did calm down very gradually over the years. Sort of.

    Thank you for your concern. It was indeed very rough weather for awhile and I was out and about in it on my day into town. Then all of a sudden the sun came out and it was over.


  39. Hi Simon,

    The statistics are interesting so thanks for that. OK, so the median house price is $834k apparently. According to the ABS, the Full-time adult average weekly earnings is $1,713.90 x 52 weeks = $89k per annum. What does that work out to be: 9.3 years.

    When I first began working it was about 3 years. Inflation is the eventual outcome from money printing.

    Anyway, I wasn’t going to write about that side of the story. Apologies for being super mysterious.



  40. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for mentioning the Canadian show and the editor loved it. So much fun.

    Of course, a basement with plants under light would work really well for seed raising. Lucky you to have a basement for such things. Few if any houses down under have basements, although I’m unsure why that would be. I assume that perhaps you have a lot of the house plant (as in mechanical stuff like boilers etc.) setup in such a room?

    Oh yeah, peppers are slow, but eggplant and cucumbers seem to be far slower. Yup, like you I too started the Cucurbits as direct sown seeds. It is possible that Plum dug up some of the zucchini seeds. Would Salve or Leo be so naughty? Fortunately after that happened, I immediately began new seeds in the greenhouse so as to make up for lost time. The watermelons and squashes have not yet germinated and they were all direct sown… But perhaps I do worry overly about such things and hopefully the season is still early.

    Fingers crossed for your sisters health. Crohn’s is no small matter, and would make for a difficult life. How is their pandemic dog going? But yeah, that’s the thing, you never know how it will affect you if your numbers come up. If I’m not mistaken the 2017 influenza virus apparently killed 1.6 million worldwide, and we are not quite there yet, but are getting closer to that number.

    Good shot. As an incidental side benefit, the venison will have good quantities of Vitamin C for you both.

    What? I thought that the folks with a huge bunch of kids only just bought the place? I’m confused, and there may be a story in there. 🙂

    The property story needs telling, and I might sit down tomorrow night with a small glass of home made rum and begin the telling of it. It is super weird now as rural property which isn’t too expensive appears to be selling rapidly, like what used to take a year, now takes less than a week. Very fishy.

    The cinema and lunch (and later dinner at the pub) was fun. I’m honestly not sure what will survive our prolonged lock down. Small cinemas cannot be making much money on sessions with only two patrons. Ouch.

    Dug soil for about five hours today. Did I mention the new shed and new ramp path into the orchards project?



  41. Hi Goran,

    The story will be interesting, that’s for sure.

    Yes, that is the case down here too. And real estate does actually cost more these days. I mentioned some statistics to Simon and they talk about the relative purchasing power of fiat currencies.

    But exactly, but also not exactly. All of this is a direct outcome of population growth derived demand and supply issues as well as very loose money printing. Historically neither policy has worked out well. But down here nobody seems to be protesting either concern and I do wonder about that.

    My guess matches your guess, but it will be a strange path we all travel before we get to a more sane end point. And that may be an uncomfortable end point.

    Lucky you, and yes a beautiful young woman is a very romantic story and provides plentiful reason to move countries all those years ago. 🙂

    5 metres above sea level leaves a bit of margin for error, but there still remains more than a touch of discomfit! The thing is where does the population evacuate to? Please understand that I live with the risk of serious bushfire each summer, and so evacuation is something that exists as a possible reality at the back of my mind. Thanks for the trailer, not much was lost in translation and the images spoke a thousand words. As a side note, I do wonder how seriously people actually take global warming, as their actions don’t seem to reflect the seriousness of the possible outcomes.

    Belief in technology will save us is a thing down here too. I heard a politician the other day suggesting that we can decarbonise our economy, like everything will be perfectly fine and unaffected. A cheeky scamp might suggest that the Dark Ages was a good example of a decarbonised economy.

    US building standards don’t appear to be very robust in that regard to my mind, but I could be wrong and am no expert on their systems. The building standards down here forced this small house to be the equivalent of an above ground fire resistant bunker. You’d be amazed at the level of detail that went into this place. Would I trust my life to it? Probably not.



  42. Hello Chris
    My laptop is well on the way down now and I won’t have it or maybe another one for a while from next week.
    Houses are built on flood plains here. Such lovely flat land!!
    Weather is grey, cold and very wet.


  43. Hi DJ,

    Yes, funerals are very weird these days, and please accept my sympathies for the loss of yours and your ladies relative. Mate, I couldn’t even get to the funeral of my old mate, that just wasn’t even possible under the restrictions. I read today that something like 5% of your countries population has now been infected with the health subject which dare not be named. Nobody knows the individuals outcomes in advance. Hope you and your lady are looking after each other during this time.

    Sorry I had to laugh, but the editor has a science degree in biology and also had the exact same reaction as yourself when I had the exact same discussion. But I still am not convinced that she has achieved the same level of insight which you have achieved. It’s complicated and new ideas have to be introduced slowly.

    But exactly like what you have commented upon, at many points in the road we are expected to make rational decisions without having all of the available information readily to hand. That goal is not possible to achieve in such circumstances, and at those points a person must by sheerest necessity fall back upon the old reliables of: herd opinions; gut instincts; and previous experiences. Or a person can simply make no decision at all (noting that making no decision is actually making a decision to not make a decision) and wait to observe the consequences of that course. None of those tools are ‘rational’, so I’m guessing we have a lot of tools in our mental tool-kits. All useful to bring to bear upon any problem, when there is a dearth of certainty.

    And yes, a good point, emotions are another tool. Hadn’t considered that aspect, but yes.

    Far out! I defer to the head honcho of the Quantum Mechanical Ranch!!! 🙂 The movement of the photons could also be due to them having random encounters with other matter, but I’m way out my depth. Although I do note that the inverted bell shaped curve describes many phenomena in the natural world – of which we are a part of. It is a useful trajectory to keep in mind – and I do as I see it playing out all around me.

    Please do recharge your energy and spirits, and look after your lady. You two have been through a rough time.

    A few weeks ago I realised that I too had been a bit down on the old internal energy reserves. The epic lock down along with all of the associated craziness had meant that I was giving more energy to others down here (not on the blog) than I had reserves for. Over the past few weeks I ratcheted things down a bit and that has been good for me.



  44. Hi Pam,

    It’s funny you mentioned that, hmm. But over the past decade I have become modestly adept at ways to handle anti-social elements. Hmm. Your insight does you proud.

    More rain tomorrow night, but today was a perfect cool summers day. Very nice indeed and I dug soil for about five hours before heading off to a very late lunch. There is a new steel rock gabion cage and another shed project to do.

    The water drainage problem will be corrected over the next month or so. It is being repaired like the journey of a thousand miles, one bright yellow trailer load of stuff at a time. And a combination of the rain and hot summer sun will set the locally quarried crushed rock with lime, like err, stone. A load of the stuff is sitting in the trailer right now.

    The purple flowers are a variety of geranium. A lovely plant and that variety has a wonderful aroma on the leaves. The aroma often gets onto the dogs coats – as does wormwood – and the dogs often smell of flowers and foliage, much nicer and I hope you agree, than wombat poo.

    Yes, that is exactly what is going on with the two olive trees. Just up above the trees you’ll notice a row of solar panels, and I can’t let the trees throw shade onto the panels… Those are the oldest fruit trees on the farm as they were already about a decade old when we came across someone getting rid of them for $80 each a long time ago. Crazy prices for such advanced trees.

    Hehe! Jersey… I’d posit the theory that the clothing item was a woollen jumper for what was an otherwise cold summers day. Brr! Up north in large swaths of the continent they have been having record breaking heat waves, and yeah I’m wearing a woollen jumper. It was necessary that day, and you may now understand the reasons for the greenhouse project.

    So true, and actually the over fed skink didn’t move. Poor thing, he was full up to his eyeballs with slugs. The diatomaceous earth has made an epic improvement. The strawberry haul today was significant. And there were raspberries too. Yum!!!!

    The wheat is doing OK, but I haven’t a clue as to when to harvest the stuff. Maybe tomorrow or Sunday I’ll take a book out of the bookshelf which may assist with that lack of knowledge. The wheat seeds are actually quite sweet tasting to me. Like oats, but much sweeter.

    My pleasure to share the flowers with you, and hopefully you get to enjoy them for the rest of your winter. 🙂

    The heating system has been a long story of trial and error – much like a lot of this place.

    Incidentally, again I salute your prescience with mentioning the anti-social element. Well done.

    How’s Mr Dumpy going? Hopefully he is not too cold in your winter?



  45. Hi Inge,

    Sorry to hear about the laptop dramas and can only hope that they get fixed soon. With supply issues being what they are, I can only suggest that you expect the unexpected. Things are very weird with that story down here.

    What a total waste building a house on a flood plain which generally has the best of the best soils going around. Beats me, but that doesn’t happen down here as those flood prone areas are restricted from building upon. And they way insurance is going, house insurance on a flood plain is possible, but very, very expensive.

    Your country is famous for such winter weather. So far the summer here has been glorious and a bit towards the cooler experience. Tomorrow an epic thunderstorm is meant to arrive… At this time of year they can look and feel like a monsoon.



  46. Hi Lewis,

    Truth to tell, the bookshelves in the hallway have been marked for a future project mid-next year possibly involving a proper cabinet maker. The editor doubts my carpentry skills, and I’m only too happy to off load that work. The shelves need doors so as to keep out dust, I’d be embarrassed to show you a photo of the dust collected behind some of the books. How do libraries deal with this matter?

    The editor has already read ‘The Stand’ and has expressed the intention to read the book after I’ve completed it.

    We broke ground on a new project today – and I mean that in the most literal sense of those words. We’ve begun excavating a site for a new shed up above the house. I ended up digging soil for about five hours with minimal breaks and am candidly feeling a bit tired today. The excavated soil is being relocated to another part of the farm so as to construct a new ramp leading down into the orchard. The original ramp was constructed by the excavator driver when the house site was cut into the hill. However, a 20 tonne excavator can travel on paths that are a bit bonkers, and we should have corrected the path down into the orchard many years ago. We’ve been a bit busy…

    Hey, the diatomaceous earth has worked a treat, and slugs are down to about 5% of their previous number and the strawberry haul today was epic. Plus there are fresh raspberries too. Yum! All of the raspberries will be converted into jam as will most of the strawberries. It is worth noting that tasteless fruit does not produce tasty jams and preserves, and so it is best to grow and preserve your own.

    Excellent! 🙂 Hope you enjoy the film, it was very silly, and my favourite character was the always seemingly put upon daughter of the George Carlin character. She was funny. And the robot was an idiot as you’d expect. And who could believe that Death sulked as badly as the now deceased Sir Scruffy? How did the peanut butter cookies go with the film?

    Really? Well, politicians have been known to over promise their future after-job entitlements, and are former politicians that exciting a target that they require such care and attention? We’ve got heaps of ex-Prime Muppets and I’d hate to believe they’d get such details. In fact a cheeky scamp could suggest that there have been so many of them that they aren’t really that relevant. I do like how they stick their heads up in the media and espouse their views every now and then – which are usually critical.

    That’s a brutal story about the demise of main street in your country. If it means anything to you I still recall rather fondly the book you recommended years ago ‘Empire Falls’, by the author Richard Russo. Both the editor and I enjoyed the book and it speaks to that subject from the microcosm of a burger joint / diner.

    When we went to the cinema, we took a short walk along the main street in what had been a very touristy area, and it was brutal the amount of empty shops and ‘for lease’ signs. As they say in your country, the owners would be err, ‘motivated’.

    Really, ‘Fantasia’, well I never. My mum took me to see that film at the drive-in when I was a wee young kid. I much preferred the film ‘Blazing Saddles’ but then I had a warped sense of humour even at that young age. And the comedy just spoke to me. Disney films leave me feeling a bit cold, and as a kid I much preferred the Warner Brothers cartoons which were shown before the main film at the cinema, or during the intermission.

    Yeah, it takes a certain sort of person to make good of a political marriage. Although I have heard that statistically arranged marriages have higher success rates than marriages for love. But honestly I haven’t known anyone in my social circles to be ‘married off’. I used to speak with a young lady at the fresh food market in Melbourne who swapped from one stall holder to another, and apparently the story went something along the lines that an arrangement had been made. I can’t say that the young lady looked happy, but that was no concern of mine.

    Given those glass molds, it makes you wonder about the future of manufacturing in supposedly industrial countries? I heard a bit of talk on the radio today about such futures, but a lot of what is produced nowadays is very environmentally dirty to produce and has to be done with low wage rates given peoples income and lifestyle and cost of product expectations. It is possible that such manufacturing visions may not come to fruition.

    The fancy chocolates sound very nice. Had a conversation the other day with someone and I now forget where, but it was about the sheer varieties of Lindt chocolate balls overseas. The editor enjoys one with coffee brought to her in bed whilst she reads a book in the morning. It is a win – win as it keeps her out of the kitchen at too early an hour. 😉

    Not at all, and you guessed it, honestly I don’t have a clue other than mental promptings that the wheat should be tied in bundles so as to dry in the field. I really do have to drag the books from the bookshelves and see what needs doing in relation to the wheat. Now where were those spare moments? 🙂 Surely, you’ve grown plants so as to see what is possible and then sooner or later you’re left with the harvest and wondering the awful question as to what to do next? We trial so many plants that it does get a bit overwhelming sometimes. I’ve been training the miniature kiwi fruit to run along the chicken wire fences in the raspberry enclosure. Never actually tasted one of the fruits though. Last year the larger kiwi fruit haul was in excess of 100 is it berries? They were seriously tasty.

    Oh no! Rats I have noticed are much too clever to get caught in those traps, unless they are very hungry which they might get to later in your winter season. Mind you, they’re probably getting into the bins, so I wouldn’t worry too much about the rats. But you and H on the other hand are at risk from those traps. They can shut rather quickly if say the nose of a curious canine was to investigate a rat trap. Stay safe, both of you, and good luck.

    Yes, that happens all of the time up in the north of the country. The carpet pythons actually stalk pets, and if they are unfortunately in an enclosure things can turn out badly for the pet. People up there get tree frogs moving into their toilet cisterns too. And it is possible that some of Florida’s python problem originated from down under species.

    What the heck would anyone do with an embroidered bat on cotton? Surely there is a story there?



  47. Chris,

    Yes, the Princess and I are looking out for one another. One of her sisters has been living with us for 2 months, so we’re looking out for her too. When loading the car Monday, I spilled some VERY hot tea on my left hand. (I wasn’t paying attention, so lost my awareness, and splash!) Put snow on it for a few minutes, then aloe vera throughout the day. Naturally, it blistered and we wrapped it in gauze until I could get to the doctor Wednesday evening. I got some cool goo and some good dressings to replace every 3 days. Meanwhile, when with the doctor, the Princess was taking good care of me: “Does he need a tetanus shot in the buttocks? Does he? Huh? Huh? Huh? I think he needs a BIG tetanus shot in the buttocks!” I DID need a tetanus update, but they shot me in the arm. She was moderately disappointed. Also, right in front of the doctor, she grabbed my cap and slapped my head with it, repeatedly, while saying that I need to be more careful in the future. The doctor was laughing. Yes, laughing. Well, truth be told, I was laughing too, as in reality the Princess was barely tapping me with my cap for comic relief purposes.

    I’ve run into similar situations as what you experienced with those, umm, gentlemen. Although ignoring them has usually worked, I have had to resort to, on one occasion, “Do I know you? No. And I don’t even buy stuff for my own sister. What makes you think I’m gonna buy stuff for you?” Then I turned around, faced the cashier, and said very loudly, that I need my receipt and a “gift receipt in case my sister needs to return these things I’m buying for her.”

    Ha ha, that’s funny, the Editor having the same reaction that I initially had. It’s a strange, and in some ways disconcerting, thing to me that many cultures/religions/philosophies start with the assumption that everything is a living being and relationships with living beings is the most important thing we can do. Then there’s Western philosophy/mechanistic science, which eventually got to quantum theory, which has relationships with everything as a final conclusion, the end, no expounding on that.

    Randomness is an interesting topic in itself. Are things really random, or are all events due to some cause and effect relationship that is so complex that we can’t see it? I decided that mulling that over has no practical use for me, so I take the view that it doesn’t matter if things are random or not, as they appear to be random. How I respond to the seeming random (and other) events is more important than believing that they’re random, or not, or that the Spaghetti Monster rules everything. They appear random, so accept, adapt, move on. (Yes, back to that.)

    We’re doing a lot of recharging our batteries right now. Top thing on our list. It’s one of the little ditties that I repeat sometimes: “If I don’t take care of myself, how can I take care of you, or your brother or your sister or…?”

    Ah yes, the Great Overlooked Option when presented with different options, the decision to do nothing. I find that this is often the best choice. We are complex beings. We ignore and or suppress part of ourselves, such as emotions, while being overly reliant on, say, our reasoning, at our peril. But what I’m finding hereabouts is that it’s the other direction: rationality/reason is getting ignored and emotions/other are believed to be all important. Balance is a good thing.


  48. Yo, Chris – Well, libraries are pretty tight buildings, and dust isn’t a major problem. There’s always a lot of shifting around, and things get dusted as they go. And, minor crims are often sentenced to so many hours of “community service.” There’s always a scramble to find somewhere willing to put up with them. Seems like there’s always a time limit, and you have people roaring in saying they’ve got to do, say, 24 hours of community service in one weekend. Thinking things through, and planning ahead, is likely not to be in the skill set of minor crims. Usually, they’re put to dusting, in a library situation. Of course, back in the day, you’d have “the help” dust the library. Me, I rotate. Every once in awhile, I’ll tackle a bookcase (I have 5), pull out the books, vacuum behind them, and also the tops, using a soft, horse hair brush. Because of the dust jackets, I have to remember to vacuum toward the spine.

    Another shed. Another ramp. Another ho-hum week at Fern Glade Farm. 🙂 .

    I’m glad the diatomaceous earth is working out for you. I much prefer the hands on, ammonia method. Die slugs! Die! It’s cheaper, too. I do have a big jug of the earth, but I use it sparingly.

    The film was very good, on a pure, silly entertainment level. And, why not? The actress who plays Carlin’s daughter is Kristen Shael. She’s been popping up in a lot of films and TV. She usually plays the very irritating girlfriend, or ex-girlfriend.

    Ex-politicians are not very exciting targets. But, there’s a lot of crazy people, out there.

    The “Night on Bald Mountain” scared the bejesus, out of me. Probably saw it, too young.

    Speaking of arranged marriages, I started watching a series called, “The Great.” It’s the fictionalized (heavily) tale of the Empress Catherine of Russia. She was an intellectual, which didn’t go over very well, at the Russian court. If I remember rightly, she overthrew her husband and murdered him, and became empress in her own right. I’ve always had an interest in Catherine. Well, in one aspect of her reign. She was a German princess, who made an offer too good to refuse (free land, no taxes or military conscription for 100 years) and thousands of Germans (including my family) moved to the Volga River valley, in the late 1700s. And, from there (1913) to America.

    Well, a shallow dive down the rabbit hole yields the information that wheat is harvested when there is no green showing, on the plants. Not that I’ve every grown or harvested wheat, before. 🙂 . And there’s something about rubbing it between your hands, and nibbling on the seed, to check for firmness (?).

    I notice a second trap, in the dumpster room. Sprung. With no rat, in it. They’re cleaver, like that. Maybe if there was bait in the trap? Turns out it WAS a real exterminator that set the traps, and not Lazy Shiftless Jack. Probably rat catching is below his pay grade. Which is fine. I wouldn’t trust him to even catch rats.

    Bats printed on fabric. Though I suppose there are embroidered bats, out there, somewhere. I think Morticia Addams was often seen embroidering … something. But bats printed on cotton are very popular among the Goth set. There are even You-Know_What masks, printed with bats. They send a message. “I’m weird, so best steer clear of me.” And, would probably make a good Halloween table cloth, to set a mood.

    Another way to keep track of imports from China, is import company catalogues. They’re very cagey, with the catalogs, but, especially now with the internet, they get posted, on-line.

    The fellow who was selling all the Currier and Ives prints? He has one, at auction, right now, called “Bass Fishing.” It’s one of the small ones. Very good shape. It’s attracting bids of $300+. Glad I could care less about bass fishing. Lew

  49. @ DJ – my condolences on the deaths of your and your wife’s relatives. It is ironic and tragic that one of the people who died may have caught it at an earlier funeral for another relative. I totally understand not wanting to miss a funeral, however.

    At least one other of my relatives besides my mother, my youngest nephew, has been diagnosed with the unmentionable. He seems to have made it through OK; at least I haven’t heard otherwise. I need to call his family this weekend and find out how things are going with them.

    @ Chris – I get your sadness at not being able to attend your mate’s funeral. It’ll be sometime next year before my siblings and I can have one for our mother, if the unmentionable is sufficiently under control by then. I won’t be able to see any of my siblings this holiday season, either, which does not help.

    @ Pam – I’m thinking of you this holiday season.


  50. Hi everyone,

    Just a quick bit of website admin.

    There have been a few changes to the website. The cookies consent button required by the EU has been removed and replaced with a disclaimer. This is an Australian website after all, which is physically hosted down under and as far as I’m aware it is not a legal requirement down here. The button was proving to be problematic for me with my web browser, and if I was having troubles with the thing, well who knows what was going on out there… The Privacy Policy page was also updated. Basically, I just reiterated that I’m not releasing anyone’s email address and had a brief discussion about what cookies actually are.

    A new Archives page has been created! The previous archives link was worse than useless, and this new page is super-good! Kudos to Pam for mentioning that the Archive section of the blog had become dysfunctional.

    And the audio recording of the bird song (with apologies to Inge) can now be seen as a small player on the home screen and not as a separate page.

    There was also a bit of tidying up and simplifying of the website in the background, but I won’t bore anyone with the details.

    Anyway, if anyone is having any technical difficulties with the website or has any suggestions as to how make the website work better, please leave a comment.



  51. Hi DJ,

    Yeah it’s awful when your mind is full to bursting with all manner of concerns, and then the world brings you back to the here and now with a thud and a scorching hot tea incident. Hope you are doing OK? When the world is pressing down on you, it detracts from the day to day concerns, and that can be when disaster strikes.

    And no doubt you made the tea? Dare I quote a show from your-sort-of part of the world: The coffee was meant to be hot, but not that hot. Hope you get a further smile from the recollection. Your lady has a playful nature. Respect.

    Oh no! Yes, the arm in that particular instance will suffice for that shot. I was recently re-reading Mr Kunstler’s fine series of books ‘The World made by Hand’, and yes I too realised that a tetanus booster shot was not a bad idea and we went and sorted it out. Risk assessment is a funny thing, and I believe tetanus has a 10% mortality rate, and in any assessment of risk I use the aircraft test: The plane has a 1 in 10 chance of crashing – would you get on it? People aren’t much good at assessing risk, and they often tend to overstate the wins and the understate the losses.

    I like the response, and will file that one away. In rural areas, ‘Do I know you?’ has much greater weight and force than in urban areas where people actively go to become anonymous. Hmm.

    The editor has a biology background, although now works the same profession that I do although in a different area of the profession. On an interesting side note, we can have some lively discussions I can tell you. Who said accounting is boring? Such people never ventured out of their office and into the world of small business. Sometimes, the profession does take the fun out of an experience as you can look at a business and just know what is going on behind the scenes, if only because you were there in a similar encounter last week, year or decade. Us humans have only so many stories, and you get to see repeating patterns of behaviour in all manner of situations. People get into the profession believing that it is all about numbers and they could hide in a back office, when it really is about people.

    And yours and the editors reaction is a reaction I’ve encountered before, and expect will do so again. Let’s just say that it is hard to be rational all of the time. Some of the time, yes, but all of the time, no. So your ladies act of bopping you on the head with your cap is hardly a rational act, but appropriate, hmm, yes it is! I applaud such acts.

    “I decided that mulling that over has no practical use for me” Mate, if you can’t get your head around quantum physics, I’m stuffed if I know any better! 🙂 It is very possible that our brains and senses would be unable to comprehend the knowing, even if we knew. Exhibit A: The Total Perspective Vortex. Nuff said. 😉 Acceptance is a state of not-knowing.

    Good stuff, and I too am recharging my batteries. It has been truly the strangest year of my existence, and I fully expect 2021 to be even weirder. And I too sing little ditties to myself, although I don’t usually mention such things.

    Doing nothing is a great option. Consider the awful prospect of a fighter, say Robert E Howard’s fictional character sailor Steve Costigan who took on any and all comers, and usually won. But his propensity to take on any and all comers was also a weakness in that if people desire a reaction, then to deny them the reaction is also a powerful response.

    And yes, balance, middle ground is good. Such is the path of free will or whatever minor flash of that state which we get to enjoy.



  52. Hi Claire,

    I’m so very sorry that the health subject which dares not be named, has come between you and your mothers final rite, and that you will be unable to seek solace from your siblings who knows her as well as you do.

    I wish it were not so. And yes, my Christmas plans are also in total disarray this year. Oh yeah, things are super-weird.

    However, and truly I had to look up the exact definition of this word: indefatigable. Yeah, so in the face of utter defeat, I’m hatching plans. When all else fails, all we have are our learned skills and our wits. It may be time to employ them. Hmm, yes.



  53. Hello Chris
    Edinburgh had a weather event the night before last which was something that I had never heard of before:- Thundersnow.


  54. Hi Lewis,

    Oh no! Things came to a head this morning when I was unable to even log into this website. It’s not my natural inclination to be a total computer geek, but when needs be, I can geek it up with the best of them (although gawd, I hope they are not listening in to hear such a challenge)! Anyway, I spent a couple of hours this afternoon correcting the geeky dramas and getting the website up and running properly again. Honestly, have these people nothing better to do with their time than make life difficult for me? Phooey to them.

    Anyway, perhaps it was a good kick up the pants to address a few minor issues and just make the whole website experience a little bit easier for the lovely people such as yourself who drop by every day and bring a little bit of extra joy into my life. It is a whole bunch of fun, that’s for sure!

    Hehe! If minor crims could plan, then they’d probably be major crims!!! 🙂 Far out, if only it weren’t true. I was unaware that community service was part of the library experience. Interesting. I mentioned to you many months ago that I saw a whole bunch of juvies doing work in an inner city park planting out native grasses and moving mulch. They worked hard, and I got see how it played out over a few weeks. I have a funny suspicion that people like to be engaged with an activity which gives them purpose, and whenever anyone ever asks me about how much money they’ll need for retirement, I respond by saying that they need three things: Friends; Purpose and Hobbies. Money doesn’t even factor into that story.

    Hey, La Nina is picking up speed, and this afternoon almost a half inch of rain fell over the farm. I switched off the water robot, and it is nice to see so much summer rain fall. La Nina making its presence felt. The sunset is amazing as there is just a thin line of sky in between the thick rain bearing clouds.

    Your example with the bookshelf cleaning has set the bar! With dust from summer dirt roads and the ash from winter wood fires, is it a bit slack to want to have bookshelves with glass panel doors? 🙂 I have to confess to not having cleaned behind the books for about a decade, and it is not a good look back there… Good advice about vacuuming the books, and yeah makes perfect sense. The plan at this stage is to wait a bit to see what happens with the economy early next year and then get a cabinet maker to make up two massive bookshelf units with doors and cupboards underneath to fit the hallway and replace the el-cheapo units now there. The particle board in the existing bookshelves is candidly not standing up to the test of time. I’d really hate to know what sort of gasses those particle board and vinyl clad shelves have released over the years.

    I’ll tell ya a funny story about those bookshelves. At one point we decided to extend the bookshelves, and so went back to purchase the extensions only to discover that the seller (a well known northern European brand) had proudly proclaimed that the new product was $10 cheaper. Not sure I asked for that, but there you go. And the Masonite back had been replaced by cardboard. We were stuck between a rock and a hard place and so just dealt and matched the old to the new, but old pains sometimes die hard.

    Do you have any idea how the ancient monasteries stored their books? We spoke a few weeks ago about how the books were stored above the area in the monastery which was heated (an exorbitant extravagance!) Very clever and also very practical.

    Hehe! Well, shed space is at a premium here, and so something needs to be done about that. And the original ramp down into the orchards was a total disaster which we’d never had time to correct before. I mooted the idea today about putting another epic sized water tank down there, but the editor is not yet convinced of the merits of this course of action. One year a few years back we got as low as only 25,000 Litres of water stored (that’s 6,500 gallons). That is cutting things a bit fine for my tastes.

    Yes, we are rather slack with the diatomaceous earth, and I didn’t get around to trialling the ammonia method. Given the access ready to chook poop, that should be an easier response. Hehe! Yes, die slugs die! For they want the harvest… Glad to hear that you have also experimented with the earth – it ain’t cheap I can tell ya, so yes I understand your reticence. The stuff has a lot of trace minerals. I’ve been slowly bringing back loads of crushed shells for the chickens and storing that, but and hadn’t thought about it much until I went to the recent visit to the compost making facility and the bloke was adding good quantities of crushed shell to his compost – you could see the difference. And the results appeared to be good.

    Glad you enjoyed the film for the pure fun factor. I sure did. And yes, the actor whom had previously played annoying characters and was the somewhat ‘put out’ daughter character, was good fun too. Fun stuff. The film which the editor and I went to the cinema to see the other day was a good story, but hardly a fun story. Incidentally it was a close call between that film and a documentary about booksellers in New York. I was a bit leery of the film because it ended with a positive note, and life I’ve noted sometimes doesn’t work out that neatly. Now, what was it called? Oh that’s it: The Booksellers.

    True. I recall that the most excellent author Dr Bryson in his amusing book on his travels down under, met a former Prime Muppet just outside a fresh food market in Melbourne, as he was personally flogging copies of his memoirs. Would that happen in your country? I’ve encountered the pants down Prime Muppet twice at open gardens (one of which was his own). Would this happen in your country?

    The demon in Night on Bald Mountain had a remarkable resemblance to Sauron. The shadow was cast long in the narrative. Mate, I can see what you mean. Major creepy stuff. Far out, possibly I fell asleep during that drive in cinema session… The dead can hardly get less dead, can they? Apparently not so. The 11 minutes of video gave me the creeps or the heebie-jeebies. And I’m unsure which was worse, the souls of the dead in the depths of hell or the floating candles at the end of the sequence.

    You know what impresses me about Catherine the Great, it was her awe inspiring foreign policy and reach. Truly gobsmacking given the times. Your family got pretty lucky – twice.

    Thank you for looking into the wheat situation, and I can confirm that the stems and heads are very much green. Interestingly an old timer farmer recently informed me that wheat is a very inflammable crop. Not good.

    Yeah, well shiftless Jack is known by his moniker. Rats are fearsome opponents, but I recall a day many years ago when Dame Scritchy, Sir Toothy and Sir Poopy had collectively discovered a den of rats. Whilst Scritchy and Toothy were busy digging away into the den, Sir Poopy casually stood to the side and just dealt with every rat who decided to escape. It was brutal and efficient to watch. The other two dogs were too small to deal the final blow, but not Sir Poopy.

    I’m going with my gut feeling here, but Morticia Addams may have done the occasional bit of embroidering, but she kind of didn’t look like she was up for hard days work around the property. Just sayin… 🙂 Actually the most creepy masks I’ve seen are the ones where people have printed the Jokers (as in Batman dude) distinctive mouth onto the cloth. It kind of creeps me out. It is possible that tomorrow an announcement may be made about masks – they’re not good in hot weather.

    The other way to describe the online catalogues is to use the word: Obscure.

    What is with the bass fishing? Who even cares about bass fishing? Beats me. Yabbies are far tastier.



  55. Hi Inge,

    Gawd it would be cold that far north. But to have a bolt of lightning hit a house and ignite it, whilst snow was falling would be a totally surreal experience.

    Many years ago, a lightning storm ignited a tree in the bottom end of my property, but possibly it was in the upper end of the property which is below here. Whatever, it was way out there in the depths of the forest.

    I drove home that day and looked up into the hills and thought to myself, that’s an odd spot for smoke to be rising from. Turns out it wasn’t only me wondering about the smoke, and it took hours for everyone in the area and also the authorities to track down the source of the smoke. As they say, where there is smoke there is fire.

    A heavy rain storm hit here late this afternoon. How’s your winter going, I can’t imagine you’ve seen any snow yet?



  56. @ Claire:

    Thank you so much, Claire. We made it through Thanksgiving fine. I expect Christmas will go okay, too.


  57. @ DJSpo:

    You have had such a hard time of it lately. It doesn’t seem to get easier, does it? However, you cracked me up with your “buying for my sister” anecdote. Good for you; stiff upper lip and all that.


  58. Hello Chris
    Last day with the laptop.
    No snow here as you expected and only 2 days of frost so far. Massive rainfall last night which woke me up. It appears that the inhabitants of Edinburgh were woken up by what they thought were explosions. We have been told that the thunder is a far deeper sound when bouncing off the snow

    I agree that it is crazy to build on the flood plains as indeed the soil is great. I am used to seeing grazing cattle in Summer and lakes in Winter when I used to pass by train. Whole estates are built on this land. The poor devils who buy these properties, often find that they can’t get further insurance after their first claim.

    Am stressed by attempts to do the simplest thing these days. 55mins hanging on the phone to do something financial. Once through I was told that they couldn’t deal with it but would send me a form by 1st class post. A week later I have had no form but have received advertising trying to get me to spend on supported housing for myself. The way my name was used shows that this was the source and I don’t usually use that name. This was a government site!!


  59. Chris:

    What winter? All fall it was like spring, and still is; very confusing. But considering all the walnuts and sunflower seeds and acorns that Charlene the White Squirrel is putting away, and the fact that she has a new litter of three fat grey children, one would have to suppose that we are in for some big, snowy, freezing winter season ahead. Or maybe she’s just a glutton.

    Mr. Dumpy is going excellently. I think most of his body work is finished. It turned out that he was all rust where you couldn’t see and everything had to be taken apart and stripped. What a chore that has been. The reinforcement of the dump bed with new steel was a welding marathon. The chassis
    has been stripped, too, and painted and sealed. I think it is finally time for the engine.

    Mr. Dumpy looks wonderful, even though his parts are all over the place, most notably on the front porch, which a favorite neighbor made a good joke about. Mr. Dumpy is (in pieces) a pristine ( No. Actually I have remembered they already have squirrel footprints.) snow white for his cab and a coal black for his dump bed. Just the usual, I guess, but I like it.

    A new shed, eh? I’d say “lucky you” if you weren’t doing all the work.


  60. Hi Inge,

    Almost midnight here, and am getting rather sleepy.

    But you are losing your laptop! Yikes! Hope the replacement doesn’t take as long as the spare house battery which has been on order for a while takes. 3 months now and counting.

    Good to hear that your island has had some decent rain, although really heavy rain wakes me up too. Usually I’m worried about what damage is going on and whether I should get up and do something about it.

    Who knew that about the thunder snow?

    Up in the far tropical north of this country the old timer houses tend to be constructed on stilts so that they sit high up above the inevitable flood waters. But yeah, I read a serious book a while back on retrofitting the suburbs so that they become somehow more sustainable than they are today. Yeah, right. Few people even realise that the houses have eaten the land – and in some cases, the best and most fertile land around.

    Yes, it is not good and hardly an improvement is it? Last week I performed a task which ordinarily would take an hour. I spent three additional hours trying to resolve errors, and was candidly a bit distressed by the end of that time – with no outcome. The following day only a support call could resolve the problem, and they were suggesting that I’d failed to read the help text on their website. That would be good if the help text was in simple English. Yes, these advances are not good and a source of frustration.



  61. Hi Pam,

    Hehe!!! Go Charlene, you go girl! 🙂 I do so enjoy the stories of the various antics of the squirrels up your way.

    Charlene probably knows what is ahead for the year to come. Animals have an uncanny sense with such matters, and so it is best to heed their example. Hope your firewood stores are good and the flue is clean?

    The other day someone mentioned to me that the cost of wood in your part of the world had rapidly increased in price. And me being me, I thought that they were talking about firewood, but no they meant milled lumber. I have seen some years down here when people who purchase their firewood have been unable to obtain supplies.

    We get a mini-spring most autumns, but honestly the climate is so variable here that I can’t make heads or tails out of it, and predictions as to future climate here are a tough one. It probably works the same in your part of the world? All I can report upon with any level of accuracy is that half an inch of rain fell over the farm late this afternoon.

    Thanks for the update on Mr Dumpy. The steel worm gnaws away on even the sturdiest chunk of steel, but if it be in a hard to get to location, well, it is possible that the location is also hard to keep clean and dry. Good to hear they’ve done the welding themselves. Nice work. And by sheer chance I was speaking with a bloke the other day who told me that his brother was a fabricator (i.e. metalworker) and was having trouble sourcing steel. Strange days.

    Don’t we all seem to have good, bad and indifferent neighbours! Must be something in the water!

    As you’d know, when living on the side of a hill, one rarely encounters flat land. It’s a paradox. And then the lucky people spend all of their night time dreamscape dreaming of flat land. Ah, flat land, so nice, so unattainable. And then in their waking hours they get on with the job of making flat land – at least we made a start yesterday. 🙂

    Thanks too for mentioning the archive list the other day as has now been corrected and there is an archive page, which is much better. What a fun journey this blog has been and comments from lovely people such as yourself make it all the better.



  62. @ Claire,

    Thanks. The irony was not lost on me. My wife’s brother was upset, as the deceased didn’t drink, didn’t smoke, ate right and always wore her mask. I did have to say to him that she did NOT wear her mask indoors at the funeral where she caught it. And most of the people gathered didn’t wear masks either. (The location is exempt from State guidelines). Our little group was a good 12 feet from everyone else in that room, and as soon as the ceremony was over, we skedaddled.

    I feel your pain about not being able to properly take care of your mother.


  63. @ Pam,

    Thanks. I was having one of my more creative moments with that “buying for my sister” event.

    No, things don’t get easier. But what do you do? Gotta play the hand that is dealt, right? I like several quotes from The Outlaw Josey Wales. At one point Josey, played by Clint Eastwood, says, “He who goes crazy and gives up neither lives nor wins.” So we just adapt and slog on.


  64. @ DJ – And a hot tea burn on everything else? And, it didn’t sound like just a little scalding. You’ve done it tough, this year. I”m glad you’ve got the Princess, to provide you with a bit of comic relief. I’m sure you do the same, for her. And I’m sure the doctor appreciated a good laugh. He probably doesn’t get many, these days.

    When I picked out my cemetery plot, and arranged for my funeral, I made it clear to the people I was dealing with, right off the bat, that this wasn’t a grim occasion. They get enough of that. That I was going to have fun, with the whole process, and they could come along for the ride. Or not. They got with the spirit of the thing. Good for them. Lew

  65. @ Claire – I am so sorry you’ve been unable to complete the traditional obligations of mourning and closure. When this is all over, we’ll be able to pick up, to a certain extent, where we left off, and bring things to completion. Lew

  66. @ Pam – I’m glad you made a fairly good Thanksgiving, and plan for a fairly good Christmas. The first Thanksgiving, the first Christmas, are always the roughest. Later on, the gap is still felt, but some of the rough edges have worn away. Lew

  67. Yo, Chris – Computers. Can’t live with them, can’t live without them. At least the way our society is set up. One big time sink. As I’ve stated before, “Computers don’t make less work. They make different kinds of work.” Which I stole from someone, who probably stole it from someone else, as that was the only thing of value she ever said. 🙂 . But I’m thankful you (we) have this blog.

    We also have community service people, showing up at the Club. Any non-profit is fair game. One is always hard pressed to come up with something productive, that can’t be screwed up, too badly. At the Club, it can be mopping and vacuuming floors, cleaning toilet, and wiping down anything that doesn’t move. But it usually falls to the volunteers to ride heard on these folks. At the library, as we had maintenance, it was generally just dusting. Or, if they were literate, “reading” the shelves. Making sure everything is in order. When I worked at the Yelm library, for that crazy woman, she’d take on all comers for community service. And be nowhere in evidence, when they showed up. Usually, unannounced. She was also great at planning elaborate events, and being absent when such events took place. Sometimes said events didn’t even make the schedule. So you’d have a mob of people show up for … something, and there was no prep or organization. As you know, as soon as I nailed down my retirement, I was out of there!

    Wow. La Nina is doing all kinds of mischief, to your continent. A lot going on! Every day when I open our National Weather Service site, I take a look at the map of the US. It’s a rare day when there’s not warning colors, here and there across the US. But there are rare days where the map shows no color at all. Coast to coast, nothing much going on.

    Have you thought of “lawyers bookcases?” Might be called “Barrister Bookcases,” in your part of the world.


    There are plenty of antique versions, kicking around. But they’re one of the few things that have held their value. They generally have a top and bottom piece, and any number of components can be slotted in. They are still being made. Quality varies. Do an image search, and try not to drool. There is one problem, though. Books, unfortunately, come in different sizes. Sometimes you get a book that is too wide to fit, or, too tall. But, I suppose that’s what the tops and underneath (some sit on legs, up off the floor), are for.

    Most monastery (and early university) libraries just chained their books to something 🙂 .


    If you want a good look a a monastery library, you might check out the film, “Name of the Rose.”

    You’ve often mentioned that the way to and from the orchard is a bit difficult. Fraught with danger and death defying. So, another Fern Glade Farm super highway? Will there be a ribbon cutting ceremony? Can I pencil in a date? 🙂 .

    Yes, I use the diatomaceous earth more for trace elements, than anything. Given our rain, it doesn’t work as a good repellant, for long. When I’m collecting my bags of kitchen scraps, every once in awhile, I throw in a handful of crushed egg shell. Sometimes, I scatter some around a plant. It’s supposed to keep the slugs off, but I don’t know how effective it is.

    I saw “The Booksellers”, about a month ago. The library got it as a documentary. Besides booksellers with general bookstores, there was also a lot of footage of rare book dealers, and the fairs they set up. I quit enjoyed it, but, successful book dealers always make me a little wistful.

    Last night I watched “Train to Busan – Peninsula.” A sequel (but not exactly) to “Train to Busan.” Korean, fast zombies. Not exactly a sequel, as there was no continuing characters. Just the place. And it was kind of interesting and different from most zombie films. It’s four years on, and Korea has been made a no-go zone, and pretty much abandoned. Some organized crime dudes hire some people to go into Korea, and retrieve a truck full of money. The fight scenes and car chases, go on and on. I did fast forward, through some of it. There was a lot of sobbing little girls. Seems to be, in most Korean films. Must be a cultural thing. Fast forwarded through that, too. Worth a look? Oh, why not?

    Is one likely to encounter a past president, here? Well, I’ve never stumbled over one. Did see a presidential motorcade, once. Could have seen one a block from my squat, on Tower Avenue. But, I had planed a vacation and was out of town. The Secret Service wasn’t amused when I suggested they really needed to reschedule. They do, do book signings, but the ground rules are pretty rigid (from what I understand) and there’s not much interaction.

    I noticed on last nights new library list, that there’s a mini-series staring Helen Mirren, as Empress Catherine. Must be a good year for the Empress. And that will be it. There are some areas that I’ve decided I know enough about. I’m old, after all. Time is limited 🙂 . There was a new movie on Tesla. I know all I want to know, about Tesla. I feel the same way about the Tudors. Any of them.

    Well, the Currier and Ives Bass fishing print closed at $316. Plus $20 shipping. I think fishermen may like to go after Bass as they are wily and put up a good fight. Or, something.

    Well, it was “Fresco Friday”, over at Rogue Classicist. Some wags over there call it “Fanny Friday” and post pictures of same. One thing you’ve got to give the Greeks and Romans credit for, was they knew how to sculpt a well turned bum. Who said classical scholars are dry old sticks, and no fun? I won’t tell you what they call Thursday. Being a family friendly blog, and all 🙂 . Lew

  68. Hi Goran,

    Is there an expectation that the seawall and canal system in the Netherlands will be under serious stress in the decades ahead? I would have thought it is a pretty resilient system, and may even survive modest sea level rises and energy depletion reasonably well. After all the original system was powered by renewables. Presumably though, if a large ice sheet drops into the ocean and we get a 5-10m sea level rise then all bets are off…


  69. Hi Lew & Chris,

    A few years back during my Laos stint, we had the privilege of a visit by President Obama. For weeks beforehand, large men with serious haircuts could be spotted all over the town of Luang Prabang, and the airport had a lot more traffic then usual. On the day in question, heavily armed police were on every corner (literally) and the town centre was shut down to vehicle traffic.

    I chose a table in the main square next to the nice ladies that made sandwiches from french style baguettes and waited it out. After an hour, a serious looking motorcade with over a dozen vehicles roared past, including a black, presumably armored, limo.

    All very exciting. I note, the tone from the locals was of excitement. Despite getting bombed to shreds by the US in the 70s, everyone was very happy to have Obama visit.


  70. Hi Damo,

    Luang Prabang is such a beautiful town and yes, who can forget the most excellent baguettes, and other French bakery products. And coffee. Yum!

    Not sure whether it is appropriate to laugh, because there is irony there for sure, but at the same time I can see how the locals would be excited by the visit.

    Better get writing.



  71. Hi Lewis,

    For a second there I thought you were going to say: Computers can’t live with them, pass the beer nuts. 🙂 And that’s a very astute observation. The thing is though, if I hadn’t spent the couple of hours yesterday working out what was going wrong with the website, then I probably would have had to spend a couple of hours today working out what was going wrong with the website. What do you do? I’ve recently begun telling people: I just do what I’m told. That is strictly not true, but it seems to appease people in these strange days, and if it works…

    Thanks for the feedback. The blog is a heap of fun and I enjoy every moment of it.

    Did I read correctly somewhere that California sometimes uses prisoners in fire fighting duties? Not sure that idea would fly down here. Well that’s the thing isn’t it? The community service folks have hours of labour to address, however libraries and your Club have outcomes to achieve, and the two perspectives are not always one and the same. Actually most often they’re not the same at all.

    Far out, that sort of leadership would drive me bonkers as well, and the difficulty is that once you hit the retirement mark, you took the option. And then someone else has to step up to fill the gap. And your strategy is probably much like my own: cheap and reliable. Never hurts.

    La Nina years are intense, but then a lot of years are like that – most actually. Today in between rain showers, the sun shone, and so I had to pick the jobs I began very carefully, and then keep all of the tools on the veranda and out of the brief but frequent waves of rain. Removed the two fire shields over the house water pump and then cleaned the whole area up. Some cheeky spiders had moved on in. And one of the house tanks, only 25 tonnes, so not too much to worry about, has tilted ever so slightly and the power outlet for the water pump was now pressing hard against the side of the tank. Fixed that too, in between the rain storms. I like the thought of a day when nothing much of import occurred. Those are the days to treasure. People are perhaps slightly over-stimulated this year and I suspect that this is not a good thing.

    The lawyer’s bookcases are beautiful, and yes I could make them – easy. The editor has decided for some reason that someone else will do so, and so from my perspective that is one less task to concern myself with. We have a new shed to excavate and construct, so how many projects do you take on board? Dunno, but someone, somewhere will have an answer for that question. Mind you, she hasn’t seen any quotes for the bookcase job yet.

    The chained books were amazing, and if you’d left me to cogitate upon the problem for a hundred years, no way would I have come up with such a solution. To think that nefarious scholars would theft off with priceless tomes. The cheeky scamps.

    Now I have to ask your professional opinion. Do I replace my Jack Vance pulp fiction collection – which I love – with new editions printed on low acid paper?

    Thanks for the film reference.

    The packet for the diatomaceous earth suggested that it contained upwards of 15 different minerals, and you can’t argue with that logic. I really do worry about the overall health of the soils on this continent, it’s not good. And in a sane society it would not be possible to purchase such products and I’d deal with the slugs using lights and beer traps.

    The documentary on the book sellers looked like fun, however I hear you about your concerns and you have my understanding. Given they were down to less than 25% of their former numbers, your experience is more common than theirs. And I’ve met angry and difficult booksellers. One even asked me: Why would you want to read that? What sort of question is that to ask a customer? Possibly the spectrum may have figured into that story.

    Thank you for understanding that my first question would always be: Fast zombies, or not? So did they all retrieve the truck of money? I would have been more impressed if they’d gone after a truck full of precious metals. Was the background scenery destroyed or intact? Such things as sobbing children are perhaps lost in translation. In the Jurassic franchise, such children wouldn’t be sobbing, they’d be endangering everyone. Which is the better outcome?

    If past prez were hard up for cash, they could do VIP ticket sessions and do as rock bands do with the meet-n-greet shtick. Honestly, get over themselves, they have to poop too, just like everyone else.

    Yes, time is in short supply, sorry to say, and I too feel such pressures. It is a bit like the eternal quest for the ultimate bakery product – do I (or anyone) commit further time and energy to the search? Or do they simply enjoy their known treats? We’re into deep philosophical ground here. And yes, I’ve heard about the crown series, honestly everyone was so invested in Di, whilst I just thought that she had whinged one too many times – and from a position of extraordinary opportunity. Boring, so I applaud your choice.

    Those ancient Romans and Greeks sure knew how to party, and I have noted that many of their art works are anatomically correct. The classical scholars must have tittered so across the ages. Exhibit A: Killer Rabbits. 🙂

    Far out, I better get writing. Chris is a good student, but easily distracted!



  72. @ Claire:

    I realized yesterday that you, too, will be having the difficult time of not at least being able to talk to your mother for these holidays, and send her gifts. So you, also, are in my thoughts.


  73. Chris:

    Yes, the cost of milled lumber has gone way up. Firewood – we have several years worth stored right now, with many sources for new firewood, all for free (not counting labor, time, and gas). Right now we are burning some very old locust. We’ve never had that before.

    Flat land – you know what? If I had it, I’d probably hate it. Too boring.


  74. Yo, Chris – Beer nuts. A corn product. Very tasty. Wonder if you can make them at home? 🙂 .

    Oh, yeah. Prisoners are used to do all sorts of things. Firefighting. Here in our county, they’re used to do landscaping and road trash pick up. But, depending on where you are, it’s usually a volunteer thing, and some even get paid a bit (well below the going rate). It’s low level, non violent crims, who are approaching the end of their sentences. There are also “work-release” programs. Same criteria apply. They’re let out to work jobs, but have to spend nights and week-ends, in the slammer. Then there’s half-way houses. Same as work release, but instead of going back to the slammer, it’s a kind of group home. Most of these programs have the rider that if they screw up, it’s back to the slammer, full time, with maybe an extended sentence. In our county we have a thing called “Drug Court.” I don’t know all the details, but it’s, I believe, kind of a group home program. Participants are carefully monitored, provided counseling and have to submit to frequent UA’s (urine analysis.) It’s been found that the cost of the program is a lot lower, than keeping them in jail. And, the relapse rate is a heck of a lot lower.

    When I got my retirement nailed down, and left Yelm, I returned to substituting. Did that for another three years, until they did away with the substitutes. I’d probably still be working for the library, if that hadn’t have happened. Oh,well. Water under the bridge. When I did that, left a “permanent full-time job”, I lost all my benefits (except still paying into the retirement system). People were gob-smacked, that I gave that up. I made it pretty clear that it was because of Crazy Women. About three years later, they moved her to a non-public, no employees position. I think I contributed to that, a bit. 🙂

    See the Leaning Tower of Fern Glade Farm! Another roadside attraction. 🙂 .

    The Editor is probably right, to hire out the book cases. It’s not casting aspersions on your carpentry prowess. It’s that there’s only so many hours in a day, and days in a life.

    My advice on the Vance books? Hmmm. Well, it’s not like your going to pass them on, right? If that were the case, it might make sense to buy the acid free editions. And, even if you had someone to pass them on to, would they love Vance as much as you do? As far as yourself, you can always replace the falling apart ones, with cheap reading copies. Or, hold them together with a bit of twine. Not rubber bands. Some of those have sulfur in them, which is bad for the books. Is it a want, or a need? On the other hand, as an investment? Might make sense. But, as with all investments, it’s a crap shoot.

    Did they retrieve the truck of money? Well, that would be telling, wouldn’t it? 🙂 . I watched another sci-fi, last night. No zombies. It’s called “2067” and, much to my surprise, it’s an Australian film. One of the stars is your Ryan Kwanten. Always a pleasure to see him in something. It’s 2067 and all the plants have died. A small number of humans have managed to survive on synthetic oxygen. But, it’s not very good, and it looks like humanity is headed for the bog. But, they get a cryptic message from the future. So, there is a future, and decide they need to travel there, to find out what “the answer” is. There’s quit a bit of scenery chewing, but, overall, worth a look.

    I was told another book seller in our town, said something similar to a customer. The customer bought a book on Buddhism, and the book dealer said, “Why would you buy this. Aren’t you a Christian?” I was gob-smacked. But, far as I know, he’s still in business, and I’m not. But I’ve suspected all along that he’s a trust fund baby.

    Well, as far as our ex-presidents go, there was a discussion in the Harry Truman book about that. The majority of the presidents had money to fall back on, after leaving office. So, they didn’t have to concern themselves with making ends meet. Harry Truman didn’t have that, and also thought that ex-presidents shouldn’t exploit their previous position. He did however write a few books, that brought him in a modest income. And he did sign some of the initial print run. But from President Ford on, it’s pull out the stops, and full speed ahead. There’s book deals and speeches, for which they get a lot of money. And, now a-days, they get a pension and things like free health care, postage and office help, for life.

    Well, I must confess that I have “The Crown,” season three, in my “to watch” pile. I may be through with the Tudors and Tesla, but I guess I’m not quit done with the Windsors. 🙂 . But I know I’ll be fast forwarding through the whingey parts.

    Well, we had 43 new cases, in our county, yesterday. One of our mask-less wonders, down the hall, has a note on her door that she’s sick. She often runs around, spending time with friends and relatives. Down the other way, an Inmate just returned from North (South?) Dakota, on a Thanksgiving trip. Those states are hot spots. She also has a tendency to “forget” her mask, while wandering about. Lew

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