Ruby Thee Stallion

The summer of 2019 / 2020 was hot. Seriously hot. Drought held the country in a vice like grip. Plants could not grow when the only rain which did fall was half the expected average. Dust was all pervasive. It was on the ground, and also in the air. Dust storms, soon lead to fire storms, which due to their epic scale were reported upon right around the globe. Forests were destroyed, houses burned and people died.

In the time leading up to the brutal summer, November 2019, a Kelpie dog gave birth to a litter of pups on a farm way up in the drought stricken north of the country. On the farm, it was already a daily exercise for the people to hand feed the cattle and sheep. The farmer looked on in despair at the extra Kelpie mouths to feed. Only the best of the best would be retained as working dogs. The others would have to be finished off.

Tough times produce tough people, and epic droughts in rural areas is one such time. Fate had other plans. The farmer may have had a change of heart when another possibility emerged. “The timid one, and also the one with the mischievous face and independent attitude, have to go”, he may have remarked to a bloke he knew who resided on a farm closer to the big smoke of Melbourne. Down there the drought was also bad, but not as bad as in that far northern locale.

The two Kelpie pups at only ten weeks old were packed into a crate. The crate with the two pups was driven to a farm about an hours north of the big smoke of Melbourne. One of the pups may have said to the other pup: “Ruby, I’m scared”, to which Ruby replied: “I’m scared too Plum, stick close to me, girl.”

The bloke placed an advertisement for the two Kelpie pups on the community noticeboard in the local independent supermarket. Not too long after that, the editor spotted the advertisement for the two pups and promptly removed the advertisement from the noticeboard. Her mind was firm in this matter. A phone call was made. Twenty minutes later, the editor and I were introduced to two tiny little Kelpie pups.

One of the two pups was of interest to another person. It was the pup with the symmetrical ears but timid nature. However, the person did a no-show. The pragmatic bloke agreed to our request (and cash) to take both of the pups on the day.

The two pups were chucked in the back of the Dirt Rat Suzuki and brought back to the farm to live.

Over to you, Ruby:

Ruby Thee Stallion

Mischievous face indeed! What do those farmers know: Nuffin’ anywhoo, that’s what they know, for I am beautiful! Of course it is well known that I have my own ideas, but what of that? It is they who lack their own ideas I tell you.

Life has its ups and downs, it sure does. It was a sad day when Chris put a collar around my neck. The only reasonable response to this outrage upon my dignity was to mope for a day. I soon got over it though, and paid Chris back by digging a large and very deep hole in one of the garden beds. Yes, that will teach them. When they said that I wasn’t the baddest bitch on the farm, well they lied!

Recently Chris has been training me to accept being walked around attached to a lead. I don’t need a lead! Do they not realise I have other ideas? During any organised walk, I confound these foolish humans by straining upon the lead, whilst if their attention is diverted but for a moment, the lead is wrapped around Ollie’s legs. This is easy to do for me as Ollie is taller and stuff, and thus has easy to entangle legs.

I love Ollie, he is my champion and my mascot. I can jump all over Ollie and he is such a gentle giant that he laps up the attention. He loves it. Except that sometimes he doesn’t enjoy the attention, and then he takes my head in his mouth. He has quite sharp teeth and a very big mouth. Ollie loves me though and he would never hurt me. I guess he is just setting some boundaries. It is not my fault after all, if he doesn’t enjoy being bitten.

Ollie has had enough!

It’s now been almost a year at the farm. I have had the opportunity to encounter many of the former dog spirits residing around the farm. Two of the dog spirits have piqued my interest. Old Fat, and Old Fluffy. Old Fat has some good ideas about how to run a proper dog pack, but Old Fluffy has just the right amount of naughty for me. The spirit of Old Fluffy told me recently that in order to control a dog pack of Fluffies, one must spend some time cleaning the other dogs ears. And so I’ve been busy doing just that. My sister Plum is my creature already, and Ollie, he is rapidly falling under my spell. I even discovered that Chris has tasty ears – when he was foolish enough to drop his guard in my presence.

We recently celebrated Christmas day. I was told it was some dude’s birthday. Chris regularly supplies bones for us fluffies to chew upon. But on the dudes birthday, we got the biggest bone ever. Oh, how us fluffies fought for days over that bone. So much fun!

The Fluffy Collective enjoy an epic sized Christmas marrow bone

Bones are great! Both the Editor and Chris have enjoyed me chewing upon all sorts of things. Most nights they give me a rawhide bone to chew upon. I love the rawhide chews and it is a real pleasure to chew upon them for many hours – better than television. After a day of running around the farm, an evening of exercising my jaws, I’m usually bone tired (with the remains of my chew bone).

Ruby snuggles up with the remains of a rawhide chew

Make no bones about it, the new boss is in town. And every posse needs a boss – and it might as well be me.

Here’s looking at ya! Ruby watches over and supervises her pack from top of the heap

Thanks for the update Ruby.

Earlier in the week a large storm dropped the air temperature and produced almost an inch and a half of rain. Just prior to the storm, one of the clouds looked as though one of the nearby (hopefully extinct) volcanoes had decided to spew a large amount of ash into the atmosphere.

A cloud looks as though it is spewing out of a nearby extinct volcano

The final week before Christmas was a hectic period for paid work. However, this is nothing unusual because in the past three years I have had maybe one week off paid work. Due to the health subject which dares not be named, this year has been far from normal, and so I decided to take three weeks off paid work, starting Christmas eve.

Earlier during the work week, I rushed out to an Industrial estate on the far side of Melbourne in order to pick up a 20 tonne log splitter. The machine was well priced, especially given how heavy duty it was. The reason for the cheap price soon became apparent as it took about five or maybe six hours to assemble from the various components supplied.

The new 20 tonne log splitter

I already had an electric powered log splitter which works just fine, and it is easily powered by the solar electric system. However, there are limits to the number of extension cables you can connect up before the voltage drops possibly causing damage to the electric motor. And with this new log splitter I can move the machine up and down the hill using the low centre of gravity mower. Hauling the former 90kg+ / 200 pound electric log splitter back up the hill is no small matter.

The editor and I then spent a day down below the house splitting and hauling firewood. Common sense suggests that firewood is stored during the hot days of summer when the firewood is dry. Burning wet, damp and/or unseasoned firewood is a very bad idea for steel fireboxes. The firewood is brought back up the hill with the assistance of a motorised wheelbarrow.

A motorised wheelbarrow brings a huge load of firewood back up the hill

In the above photo the incline does not look all that steep, but from another angle it becomes all too clear. The machine does a lot of work, but it is not effortless and walking for six hours in between splitting and stacking firewood is not an easy or quick job.

A motorised wheelbarrow is used to bring firewood back up the hill

Observant readers will also note that we have also began the second mow of this growing season. It is unusual to have to mow several times in a season, but this wet and cool year is proving to be the exception.

After six hours of work we stored away about 20% of the years firewood requirements.

Firewood – a lot of hard work combined with planning over many years

The very first of the seasons Blackberries have ripened this week. They are an early thornless variety known as ‘Waldo’, and they’re extremely tasty.

Waldo thornless variety of Blackberry has ripened this week

Onto the flowers:

Yarrow flowers are delicate and the insects love them
Pink Penstemon flowers enjoying the summer weather
Gazania’s are a real splash of crazy colour in the garden
Gazania’s are real stunners
Catmint flowers revel in the warm sunshine
European Poppies spread cheer in the garden (and opium farms)

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 9’C (48’F). So far this year there has been 1151.2mm (45.3 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1122.2mm (44.2 inches).

65 thoughts on “Ruby Thee Stallion”

  1. Funny- one phrase jumped right out at me.

    “Tough times produce tough people.”

    Oh, I enjoyed the update, and especially relate to the logistic challenge of processing firewood. But that phrase immediately brought to mind its corollary: “soft times produce soft people.”

    It is one thing for a product of tough times to then enter a nice stretch of easy going, but the opposite is no fun at all. We shall see.

    Anyhoo, Our firewood stack is depleting just as yours is growing. That 23 degree tilt again. I don’t have huge trees here, so when the wood is cut to length, they aren’t that heavy to handle. I haul to the house, the split it all there, so my electric splitter doesn’t have to travel.

    Our white Christmas arrived a day late (5″/125mm of snow on the ground now), but that’s ok, the food feast was right on time, and all the home baked goods turned out well; belts were let out a notch. Most of our meal was grown right here, so that gives one all the more cozy comforting feeling.

    We will be eating squash pie for a long time beyond Christmas. We grew Kabocha squash for the first time this year, and it went absolutely feral. A long storage winter squash, this variety is a bit drier and less sweet that butternut, but just fine.

    And our last batch of cider was rather tart, as it was just the nature of the tree we harvested. Alcohol content came in around 8 or 9%, as I had added sugar and champagne yeast to the mix. We weren’t going to pitch that! A tablespoon of maple syrup in the glass took the edge off and made it quite drinkable.

    I’m curious what your recipe is for apple wine. I take it that’s not the same thing as cider.

  2. Hi Goran,

    Ah, of course river delta soils are some of the best of the best. Lucky you! Never heard that saying before, but it’s a goodie. 🙂 By way of contrast, the soils when I arrived here are volcanic clay which is rich in minerals but very low in organic content. In forests down under, much of the organic content is now held above the soil level as plants and trees, but when the Europeans first arrived here things were otherwise. Actually it doesn’t seem too hard to build up the organic content of the soils, it just takes about three years of work before things really get going.

    Also, you might be interested, but I have an odd notion that soil fertility spreads out from an original point of fertility. So, say you were going to heavily build the fertility of the soils in one corner of your garden, then eventually and given enough time (measured in years), the fertility begins to move across the garden. Nature is essentially a self-repairing system – just not in a timescale useful for intensive production of edible crops.

    Good stuff! And 5,000m2 is a great sized parcel of land to manage intensively. What sort of nut trees did you grow?

    The The velomobile: high-tech bike or low-tech car? is an entirely new technology to me. Down under I have never seen one. They do remind me of the: World Solar Challenge Race. It is worth noting that in such a machine as a velomobile, a person might get run over on the roads down here. There is a bicycle culture inner city, but the folks in rural areas have a love – hate relationship with the folks doing that. Tell ya what, a few weeks ago I encountered two daredevils on skateboards at seriously high speeds coming down from the mountain plateaus peak – never seen that before.

    Exactly! Learn and build social networks comprised of people with skills. Then when you feel that you have mastered this task, go back and learn and continue building social networks and put what you have learned into practice. Yes, practice you shall (spoken in best Yoda voice). 🙂



  3. Hi Al,

    Christmas this year was odd sorry to say, but thank you for asking. How was your Christmas day?

    Hehe! Now I have a mental image of you working a wood pellet barbeque all the while snow flurries are slowly drifting to earth just out of reach. Thanks for that, and given you can tough out such weather, respect as you’d make a good mountain bloke down here. This morning was 5’C / 41’F and the editor and I sat outside the local general store and enjoyed a leisurely breakfast. Softies exited the establishment doors and were heard to loudly exclaim as to the biting cold. Softies! This morning was nothing at all like what winter dealt up to us when we still huddled outside in those cold take away only days enjoying what we could. Yes, rona protocol indeed!

    Homemade lasagne sounds pretty good to me. 🙂 But yeah, I hear you – this Christmas has been complicated. I spent Christmas day assembling the new log splitter and enjoying the radio, and truth to tell, I had a fun time of it.

    Yes, batteries do discharge – even lithium batteries. I’m just hoping that there was no bait and switch going on with the internal chemistry of the cells. Without disassembling the battery – I don’t really know, but I can take some matters on faith and then hope for the best.

    You guessed it correctly. The new battery will be used on the smaller 12V off grid system. The battery is replacing a Fullriver Gel 12V 200Ah battery which is working fine after almost 14 years. That smaller system runs the garden lights (a subject which you’d enjoy and a project which may get rolled out over the next month or so) and also the low voltage garden water pumps. Most of the garden is supplied with pressurised water from 12V 20L/pm or 5G/pm water pumps. Those machines are amazing quality, although to get them to work just right took a lot of mucking around and a few years of learning and failures. But they work perfectly now.

    The BMS hardware looks pretty basic, but I’m not mucking around when I say that I’ll let you know how things went after they have lived their lifespan and then failed.

    But basically, what you described is my actual plan. I can only afford one spare battery. Oh well, time will tell.



  4. Hi Inge,

    Ah, the weather likewise goes up and down like a yo-yo here too – thus the four seasons in one day story. Hopefully the water table has not risen too far in your forest and things are now muddy? We seem to have (so far) had just the right amount of rain at exactly the right time this summer. A storm this time from the north east (Coral Sea) looks set to arrive later in the week in the form of a monsoon. Not a fan as it then feels like the tropics in this otherwise temperate climate.

    Mind you, not one cucumber or water melon has germinated this summer. And it is looking dicey for the squashes which were direct sown. Due to the elevation above sea level I have a climate which is equivalent to about 44’S latitude. Basically, when it is not hot, it’s cold. But as the crow flies and the elevation drops off the mountain range, things get hotter and drier rather abruptly.

    Oh well, having learned my lesson last year I have not committed all of my seed stocks this growing season and so will try again next summer. And we’re discussing how to use the greenhouse better next year. Good stuff, and I doubt anyone could learn any of this in only a single growing season.

    Incidentally, I’m rather enjoying Ruth Goodman’s most excellent book ‘Victorian Farm’. It is a beautiful read.

    Yup, little fees, but little interest here too.



  5. Hi Steve,

    Glad you enjoyed the phrase and I’m hearing stories just here and there that people are adapting to the new conditions. Those stories alone warm my cold bean counters heart! 🙂 And yes, I agree with your corollary observation.

    Ruby had such fun writing the blog. By the end of the essay, I had to yell at her: “Oi you! Get off the keyboard, now!” I’ve been fortunate to have known so many lovely dogs over the years. They’re all unique personalities and I’m unfussy about them as long as they know to keep their cool – most of them do.

    Yes, we shall see how things roll. Didn’t the dude who just had his birthday once proclaim from the sacred mount: Blessed are the prepared?

    The trees in the forest grow at about 1m / 3.3ft per year, and so with ten thousand or so trees here, there is no shortage of firewood – unless of course a person does not plan years ahead. The local trees will not burn green – and that is how the trees survive bushfires, but at the same time they’ll happily have their leaves burn thus continuing the forest fires. My August / your February is the coldest month down here, but then one day out of the blue you no longer need firewood and the early spring sunshine warms the house.

    Some of the logs have been on the ground for over a decade and then some – the local hardwood is incredibly dense and difficult for the forest critters to break down – especially if it dries. Recycling forest detritus into soils is very difficult here, thus why the indigenous folks utilised fire so extensively because it alone worked.

    Mate, respect! Seriously well done and few others could make such claims regarding their Christmas food feasts. My mates of the big shed fame usually do a similar Christmas feast, and like you, few now have such skills in the paddock and kitchen.

    Your Kabocha squash sound yum. I’ve been having a terrible time with the squashes this year. Pumpkins seem to be doing OK, but squashes are a true mystery as they have not germinated and I doubt there is enough growing season left for them to produce anything should they actually germinate. We grow the: Squash ‘Gem’ variety which we eat from winter through to spring. Oh well, next year I’ll raise the seeds in the greenhouse. Do you have any suggestions in relation to the failure?

    Hehe! One year we used sweet dessert apples for cider making – and the result was so sweet that it left us feeling discomfited in the guts. Most cider apples are the wind fallen, astringent, or tart varieties that can’t be consumed fresh. With the apple wine, we do much as you did except we sterilised the apple juice prior to adding the champagne yeast (can’t call the stuff that name nowadays) and extra sugar. Thus apple wine is apple cider, but stronger but tastes much the same. The local yeasts are not that nice truth to tell. And champagne yeast will reliably get the brew to about the same as wine at around 14%. I recently discovered that the sake we make is about 20%…

    And the wine needs to age for at least a year. You can drink the stuff after two months, but it does get far better as time goes on. The other month we opened a four year old mead – and it was excellent and way beyond good.

    The hazelnuts have decided to grow this year and are now pushing about 6 foot now. Yay!



  6. Hi Lewis,

    Thank you for the introduction and I loved those two go-getters. Hehe! What a great sense of fun they have with their floating, err village? My mates of the big shed fame always rib me about the number of sheds here claiming that we are making some sort of village compound, and they made the outrageous claim the other day that: No! Not another shed!

    Oh, but yes, another shed is very necessary. 🙂

    Yeah, I respect those two Canadians, but yeah a dance floor is a big ask when residing upon the side of a hill. There is an old gold mining township which is now a bit of a ghost town, although the pub was operating the last time we travelled there. Anyway, the canny miners way back in the day carved off the top of a hill in order to produce a cricket (as in the English gentleman’s game) ground: Walhalla Cricket Ground.

    Not sure that I have the sort of skills and resources those old timers could bring to bear upon a serious project. I’ll bet they had a blast blowing up the mountain in order to produce a flat cricket ground.

    I’m seriously enjoying the book Victorian Farm, and it was of interest to me that the wealthy rural landowners (or not wealthy as the case may be) were obligated to be patrons of the local cricket club and play alongside the commoners. Also the parson was expected to play as well. Fun times, huh?

    Yeah, my experience with Pomeranian’s was about 16 years, which is a pretty good innings. Sir Poopy was the exception as he died young because he was basically really lazy and sedentary. I’ve never before, or again encountered a dog that lazy. No disrespect to him because we got along together really well, but far out a bit of exercise would have given him another five years of life – but then the alternative perspective was that he was in his happy place doing – not much. H by way of contrast sounds like an active pooch to me, so she should be fine.

    Hopefully H survives the Victorian era clothes mangle. Not sure she’d enjoy that experience. 🙂 How is H doing anyway? And is she still sporting her fancy winter coat? My grandmother used to have one of those mangle machines perched above a laundry trough, although that was the mid 1970’s. The laundry trough was a solid large steel basin which were commonly seen in those days. It is odd to think of all the changes to homes since then, and I can still recall the dark rooms with steel lined timber built-in cabinets with lids where the root vegetables were kept. I doubt many of those rooms have survived.

    Shoot. Well I’m not a pirate then. One of the neighbours flies flags, and often has the US flag flown, but upside down which has some sort of historical meaning – not sure though as I looked it up years ago and now forget. Anyway, I’m waiting to see whether the neighbour flies the skull and crossbones flag. But so far, not yet.

    Argh, me hearties. Bummer, where is that parrot when you need it. And Owen is a great name for a parrot. Hope Owen has learned some naughty words over the years. Parrots can say things that humans could never get away with saying.

    Archie Bunker is a simple but very complicated character. The actor who played the character gave a great synopsis of the situation: “Archie’s dilemma is coping with a world that is changing in front of him. He doesn’t know what to do, except to lose his temper, mouth his poisons, look elsewhere to fix the blame for his own discomfort. He isn’t a totally evil man. He’s shrewd. But he won’t get to the root of his problem, because the root of his problem is himself, and he doesn’t know it. That is the dilemma of Archie Bunker.” Such insight is rare, although some of the Bunkerism’s were quite amusing.

    Mate, thanks to you, I am never now going to think of the group the same way again – and you know sooner or later, I’m going to have a brain fart and actually say such a thing! Oh well, the best performers in the face of disaster have to just go on with the show.

    Lewis, my old mate died of a heart attack which had very little to do with the health subject which dares not be named. Although he was apparently unable to attend any medical appointments due to the health subject which dares not be named. My thinking is that the old grim reaper has a variety of tools at his disposal, so who knows what happened to your inmates. Yes, it’s a problem for all of us.

    Between you and I, I’m starting to get the feeling that all manner of strangeness is getting heaped onto 5G. I haven’t met anyone in the flesh with an opinion on the subject. Maybe 5G is unlikely to become a thing in rural areas due to the sheer number of towers required – and that makes no economic sense whatsoever.

    Of course, and thanks for the explanation as to the car park noise. Yes, the constant noise would drive me bonkers too, but I note that it is folly to consider any control measures of other people – and yes, I guess that is where the sound deadening curtains come into the story.

    The farm is in a bit of a flight path as the airport is not too far away from here. Last year the overhead flights were ridiculous at times, and there were moments where the planes were low enough I’d wonder to myself about the pilots: Hope you guys know what you are doing. The reason for that was because the aircraft still had to climb to get above the much higher mountain ridge. Way back in the day an aircraft actually did crash into the mountain in thick fog. Here is the news article about it from 1948: Kurana air crash. There is a memorial stone higher up in the mountain range.

    Apparently so, although you’d want to remove the body of the deceased from the fainting couch before the essential pan juices leaked and spoiled the settee. An unfortunate stain invoking difficult memories. I once haplessly sat in a conveniently place chair only to be told (seriously) that a relative known to me had died there only a few days beforehand. A disturbing incident and why didn’t anyone tell me beforehand? There are times that I do wonder about my fellow humans to have left things in such a state.

    Nah, the firewood is ready to stack away, we’re just doing things a bit differently this year and attempting to do several projects all at once. We seem to be getting better at this stuff, but I can’t really say for sure whether that is actually the case. It’s complicated…



  7. Hi Chris,
    Belated holiday wishes. I wrote a comment last week but maybe I never hit “post” or it got lost behind the couch.

    I had to chuckle at your title as we were discussing Megan Thee Stallion and her naughty song and video with Cardi B on Christmas Eve with our daughter, Carla and her fiance – synchronicity? A fine topic for a religious holiday – ya think?

    We have survived the bedlam that ensued when they arrived on Christmas Eve morning along with Ruth, the pandemic puppy. They stayed through Christmas and my aunt also arrived on Christmas day and stayed over as well. Carla suggested we wrap up some items of Doug’s for his stocking. The look on his face when he unwrapped the keys from his truck was priceless – he was rather confused. She also wrapped up a lovely photo of Doug and me which she had given to us last Christmas. He unwrapped it and said, “What a nice gift.” not even realizing that the photo in a pretty unique frame has been sitting on a table he walks by daily for a year. Anyway the rest of us got a good laugh.

    It was not a white Christmas but sure was cold. We are expecting a good amount of snow overnight tomorrow. The forecast for much of the U. S. is temperatures higher than normal for January and much higher in February and March.

    Sounds like you were quite productive on Christmas and we certainly were definitely not. Much good food and drink were consumed though.

    That is one big bone!! Salve had Ruth’s head in her mouth a few times too. All the dogs were gifted, by Carla, bully bones. Look up what they are made of if you don’t know haha. They made fast work of them.

    I’ll bet that log splitter will make your life easier. Beautiful flowers as always.


  8. Yo, Chris – So, is “Ruby Three Stallion” her Native American name? 🙂 .
    Just sounds so … New Age. The idea of a dog, writing from their point of view is an old one. Back to the Romans. Recently, I ran across an epitaph, for a dog named Margarita (Pearl), from her point of view. Apparently, she died in childbirth.

    The discovery of the Pompeiian fast food joint, is all over the news. I found the handling of the paint, in the dog fresco, to be particularly interesting. Unlike the detailed chicken, the fierce dog has a loose brushstroke, something we wouldn’t see again for a couple of thousand years. Also, some of the articles mentioned that the bones of a small dog, were found. That was bred for size. It just occurred to me, I wonder if it wasn’t kind of a joke. Customers would say, “Where’s your fierce dog?” and the owner would pull the little fellow, out from under the counter. 🙂 .

    The picture of Ollie, attempting to swallow Ruby whole, is a hoot! Large snakes come to mind. That is some bone. In the “Here’s looking at ya!” picture, Ollie’s expression is priceless. World weary? I clean out H’s ears. Maybe that’s why she knows (most of the time) who’s in charge. She does have the fastest tongue in the West. I’ve got to stay alert, when I tie or untie my shoes. Also, when I put on her leash. To quote Lucy from “Peanuts,” “I’ve been kissed by a dog!”

    I’m sure I’m missing something, but the 20 tonne (or, ton, up this way) doesn’t look like it weighs 20 tonne. But that aside, it sure is a spiffy and useful bit of new kit. Ditto, the motorized wheelbarrow. Do The Editor or you give each other rides? 🙂 . That is one fine stack of firewood.

    Where’s Waldo? In the berry patch.

    The yarrow looks like an unholy union between chamomile and forget me nots. A useful plant. Good for everything from fever to the trots (aka The Hersey Squirts.) The Pensterman is very pretty. And, the Gazania cheery, with it’s multitude of colors. But to your missive …

  9. Yo, Chris (again.) I do hope the couple up in Canada don’t attract any unwanted attention from some bureaucrat, with too much time on their hands. Someone who looks at the article and decides “This just isn’t right. Something must be done!”

    Chutes and Ladders, Terraces and Sheds. LOL. Tell them if you shoved everything together, you’d have one Big Shed. 🙂 .

    That really is the media representation of idyllic English village life. The annual cricket match, between the toffs and the workers. Usually refereed by the parson (of whatever flavor.) The cricket match was right up there with the annual village fete.

    Your assignment, if you choose to accept it, is to plunge next into “Edwardian Farm.” As the old test questions used to say, “Compare and contrast…” It was a short period of time between, but there was massive innovation.

    H is active, and keeps me active. Up and down the stairs, three times a day. She does like her baths (I think). Afterwards, she races around my apartment, like a crazy person. She obviously likes the attention.
    Her fancy Christmas sweater has been washed, and put away, for next year. We’re back to the sensible black and red tartan.

    I can remember a washing tub, my mother had, with an attached mangler. It stood next to the cement laundry tubs. It was round, and had a small electric motor. You’d run water, from the laundry tub spigots, using a short hose. I think it agitated, a bit. Then a small pump, pumped out the water into the laundry tubs. refill with clear water and run the clothes through the built in mangler. Big wicker laundry baskets, were involved. It was a very hands on, operation. I see those units around, every once in awhile. Like this ..

    My Dad was very “Archie Bunker.” He was calling my mother, Dingbat”, years before the program aired. The thing about Archie, is that he usually learned a little lesson, and changed, incrementally, over the years. As did my Father. There’s been a few articles written about how that program impacted my father’s generation. Or, maybe it was just the natural aging and mellowing. process. The set for the program is in our Smithsonian Museum. Along with Julia Child’s kitchen.

    The EMT’s showed up again, yesterday. This time, it was for Steve. They left without him, but, later on when I walked H, I noticed his truck is gone. Still not back. I’m beginning to feel like I’m in a bad production of Agatha Christie’s “Ten Little Indians.” Sure, at our ages here at the Institution, it could be anything. But, the way some of the folks around here play it fast and loose, I think we’ve been exceedingly lucky, not to have a case so far. Luck runs out, sooner or later.

    That was quit an article about the Kurana air crash. It’s amazing that most folks made it out, ok.. Where I lived before, I was right on the Portland to Seattle air run. Mostly, they’d be high up, and unnoticeable. But some evenings, when the weather was really bad, they’d come in so low that it would rattle the windows and sound like it was going to take the roof off. I always expected to end up with a downed airliner, in the back pasture.

    My friends in Idaho wrote this morning, that they had an overnight low of 4F (-15.55C). She sent pictures, and, it really is a “winter wonderland.” But 4F? Brrrrr!

    I watched a fun movie, last night. “Mayhem”, starring Steven Yeun, the young Asian fellow from “The Walking Dead.” Filmed in Serbia! Though you wouldn’t know it. Fair warning, there’s a lot of not family friendly language, and quit a bit of bodily harm done. The premise is, he’s a young lawyer, working for a large legal firm, in a large office building. Through corporate backstabbing, he’s been fired and security is escorting him from the building. But, there’s this virus around. It causes people to loose their inhibitions and heighten emotions. But, it runs it’s course in 12 hours, so, the powers that be just quarantine a place, and let it run it’s course. Oh, and due to some court cases, murder gets a free pass, as, “the virus made me do it.” Anyway, I quit enjoyed the movie, and, as you worked for a few corporations at the high end of town, I thought you might identify. 🙂 Lew

  10. Hi Margaret,

    Greetings to you too, and best wishes for the holiday season.

    Ah, these things happen – and no chunk of software or person is infallible. There have been one or two times over the years that I’ve accidentally knocked the back button on the mouse and lost my comment. Technology, Pah!

    Hehe! Well done you. Tis the season for naughty songs me thinks. And the two beautiful young ladies have certainly provoked some discussion. The national youth radio station I listen to had the album as album of the week a fortnight ago, so over the course of the week the listeners got to enjoy every track on the album. Frankly I don’t know what all the fuss is about, Kanye or more correctly, Pusha T on the classic song ‘Runaway’ has been banging on about how the subject matter is on his mind 24/7 – 365. Did I need to know that? Probably not. Hope you had some fun with the discussions. Better than politics or economics over a Christmas lunch! 🙂

    Incidentally I chucked in a second sneaky cultural reference in the essay too, but it might be a bit obscure.

    Oh my! Carla is super naughty to have pulled such a trick on Doug. I’d probably respond with a sardonic face with the words: “Yeah, good on ya!”, but internally I’d be like Doug and wondering what does this all mean? But at the same time desperately trying to not give any of you naughty lot the satisfaction of knowing the true state of the internal confusion. Hmm. Anyway, you lot are like super cheeky scamps. Yes, tis true. Hehe!

    Did you end up getting the snow? Just to totally tease you, it was sunny and 68’F today and very pleasant. Had a bunch of friends up for lunch and had a lovely time. Although hosting does require us to prepare food and then clean up afterwards. Took everyone on a tour of the farm and at one point I was just rabbiting on in my usual style and had the sudden uncomfortable realisation that the place was really huge. Oh well, on with the show. One of the nice folks makes compost and brought up a huge bag of the stuff and I’ll put it on the vegetable rows over the next few days. A fun day.

    Yeah, Christmas day sure was weird down here this year, but what will be, will be and all that stuff. It is a true that one cannot fight city hall. Glad to hear that your Christmas was fun.

    It is very possible that Ruth had pushed things too far, as Ruby does with the very gentle giant Ollie. Did Ollie really need to be bitten a fifth time is an important question. 😉

    That’s funny! I’d never seen a bully bone before. Hope the bull doesn’t need it…

    Thank you for the kind words.



  11. Hi Lewis,

    Oh, Ruby’s name in this blog has a much naughtier origin. Something or other to do with a sassy cultural current pop reference. She’s a naughty young minx. 🙂

    Ruby has opinions and stories and has been pestering me for months to pen a short guest post. Other than the dogs, I don’t do guest posts, and I’m amazed at the nice email offers I constantly receive from nice companies requesting such a thing. Aren’t they nice? Well fortunately Ruby is not nice, but put her paw down firmly on this matter – and we’ll all get saved the awfulness of having product flogged to us. Guess Ruby is nice after all! 🙂

    I’d like to believe that the Romans were humanising their dog, but the erudite scholar has picked apart that particular belief and skewered it soundly. On the other hand Peter the scholar might be wrong? Maybe? You mentioned recently that the Roman’s sometimes seem so much like us, and that is true, but then at other times they have alien like concerns.

    The Thermopolium was amazing. The frescoes were crisp and stunningly bright. I didn’t catch any references to the small dog, but yes it would be a big joke. The frescoes of the chook and the dog on the lead were amazing – and the sort of thing I’ve seen around my travels in Asia. It’s a bit eerie.

    Did you notice that in the photo Plum looks freaked out, Ruby is superbly confident and sure of herself, and yeah I agree, Ollie does look careworn. That is pretty much how things roll. Dogs faces are very expressive and their internal emotional state is often on display.

    Haha! Who could forget Lucy running away in anguish having been kissed by Snoopy. 🙂 Fun stuff, thanks for mentioning it, and I loved the Peanuts cartoons as a kid. Snoopy and the Red Baron was a fave.

    The machines sure make life easy. Without them all, life would not be easy – but then the flip side is that I’d have more time to attend to such matters that the machines deal too. And generally the pace of life would be more pleasantly slower. Hey, never thought to put someone in the wheelbarrow, but yeah… Bodies after all are weighty to move. 😉 Doing my best Dexter impersonation!

    Haven’t tried consuming yarrow, but the word on the street is that the plant is apparently harmless enough and may do some good. Any additional plant in the diet is probably a very good thing.

    Actually with the couple in Canada I was wondering if they’d be subjected to visitors. The couple seemed rather care free. The other week some nefarious person decided to drop by around 4.30am, and people have been shot for less. Word on the street in the area was that the person was casing properties for the purposes of petty theft, but still who knows how things roll. Ollie warned me the person was there. Sir Scruffy used to do that job, but mostly the dogs are onto that business – that is part of their job description.

    But yeah, it is possible that the Canadian folks aren’t paying property taxes, but I’d imagine there would be some water licenses they’d have to be on top of.

    Hehe! My mates of the big shed fame probably already know that!

    The cricket match was also a thing in India and I recall the Indian film Lagaan which had that game as its central plot device. I’ll bet the locals loved to flog the hoity-toity at the game, and the interaction would have kept the hoity-toity sharper than they appeared to have ended up as being.

    Yeah, I was wondering as to how much difference could there have been between the Edwardian and the Victorian farm eras? But I’m intrigued and will find out.

    Very nice, and H would look more sophisticated in tartan. All dogs look better in tartan. And yeah, if H runs around and enjoys herself, well I’d call that some happy expression. Cesar might disagree of course, but I lack the temperament (as clearly do you) to thwart a dogs natural exuberance for great lengths of time. Basically like H, the dogs here get to run feral for a short period of time, get it out of their systems and then chill out. Works for me. Even the pups get with the program and they’re pups.

    I can’t recall the exact arrangement, but from memory the mangle sat over the concrete washtub. And the tub really was concrete and seriously heavy duty. It amazes me to consider how different things are nowadays with that activity, and we don’t own or use a dryer. Tell ya what, the machine in that video was far more advanced looking than what I recall. It was positively flash all sleek lines and stuff.

    Had a bunch of mates from the Green Wizards visit today for lunch. Such a fun day, and the weather was perfect, a cool summers day with blue skies. The conversation went all over the shop too. Took everyone on an extended tour of the place, and even showed them the massive old 300 year old tree hidden just out of sight. The only sad note was that one of our group is moving down to a farm in Tasmania, but hopefully I impressed upon the lady the need to keep up networks despite the move. There was a home made Pavlova which we’ve only just finished. Yum!

    Yeah, we’ve all met an Archie Bunker in our travels. The sociological discussion is a bit chicken and egg don’t you reckon? Not sure really which came first, but I noted that the BBC produced a similar program, and we even had our own version down here: Kingswood Country. A lot of similarities there. But maybe it was all part of the times? Beats me.

    The Agatha Christie story, which I have not read, gave me the chills after having read the synopsis. And it sold very well despite the original title which was re-titled twice for the US market. A Dexter like character, stalked among the other characters. An unseemly hunger, be we can’t really pretend that such folks aren’t out there.

    On the other hand, fate is fate and you’re only as good as the weakest link. Hey, that is true for me as well and if the ill thought actions of a neighbour starts a fire on the wrong day – mate it’s not good. Dunno what you reckon and I’d be interested to know, I reckon that issue plays out in the larger society?

    Some of the aircraft flying over here used to seem too low for my comfort levels to. You could almost reach up and tickle the underbelly! Anyway, if the aircraft missed this house, it would probably take out the neighbours. What a mess and it is one reason to be thankful that the number of flights have seriously declined. Read an article about that topic today – the image of the storage in deserts is fascinating and who knows what the desert will make of those machines in the future. My gut feeling tells me that it will never return to where it was last year. Over doing things and then blowing it, is always a possibility.

    4’F is kind of wrong… Brr! And definitely too cold to enjoy a coffee and fruit toast sitting outdoors. Yes, well below minimum acceptable standards. Maybe it is shorts and t-shirt weather for you? 😉

    The film sounds like fun. The big bad corporate world was many things, one of them it wasn’t was: fun. 🙂 Actually, reading the Victorian farm book a theme shone through. People used to get together at the end of a task or job and celebrate the achievement. The end of the work week used to be celebrated when I was a very young adult, but that got dropped during the recession of the 90’s and sometimes I do wonder about the loss of recognition and sense of achieving something in our culture. The difference in the book was stark for me to see. It maybe one reason nowadays why people seek feedback in their jobs – because there is none otherwise? Dunno.



  12. Hi, Chris!

    Our internet was out again, this time for 4 days (a couple of weeks ago, 6 days), and I am once more behind here at Fernglade; very frustrating. Do you think they are trying to hit that I get a smartphone? It was a “widespread outage”, not just us.

    And our mail has been trickling in a bit here and there, some of it mailed16 days ago, from practically next door.

    What is it they say about something smells funny in Denmark (my pardon to any Danes)?

    Anyway, I will get back on board soon.


  13. Hi Pam,

    It’s the Gremlins. Check-for-Gremlins. The pesky critters have gotten into your telecommunications network.

    If ever there is a big fire here, I’ll be having troubles of a similar sort.

    Good luck. And keep a sharp eye out for Gremlins. 🙂



  14. Hello Chris
    Son says that it is never possible to have too many sheds and that he is in dire need of another one.


  15. Hi Chris
    A quick comment.
    I haven’t grown pumpkins, melons ,or cucumbers for some time. I had problems with seed germination and only got a crop when I bought local started seedlings .
    Try a web search for “ Why don’t pumpkins and cucumbers seeds germinate” . See what you find.😊
    Al @ where it is 0 C this morning

  16. Chris,

    Please tell Ruby that I was impressed with her writing.

    The photo of the “erupting volcano” was great. Reminds me of when I was a wee bairn and thought that clouds were created by a local smokestack.

    The “Ollie swallowing Ruby’s head” photo is grand. The “snout grab” was actually one of my discipline moves with the dogs. They all learned quickly that if the snout was grabbed, they had stepped far over the line.

    Hope you’re enjoying the break from the paying job.

    The holiday here was hideous. No other word for it. 2 more cousins with the unmentionable, one of whom was weakened from being unable to eat and took a fall, breaking a hip. Should be out of hospital today with a new pin in said hip.

    Meanwhile, we got a dread 2:00 a.m. phone call on the 23rd. Princess’s oldest brother died. She and her sister left at 4:00 a.m. to pick up Toppenish brother, then head north. Because the surviving daughters are about as useless as, and didn’t bother to tell anybody WHEN to be WHERE, I was informed too late to go to the services.

    Princess returned from Toppenish on the 28th. Well, she called and said she was leaving. I’ve not heard her so distraught for a looong time, so I packed some things, hit the road, called her and told her we’d meet halfway. That made her day! Al probably knows the place, the big mercantile between Pasco and Eltopia.

    Anyhow, it was foggy, spots of snow, spots of freezing fog on the drive home. But we arrived home safely.

    We’re both beat, and it will take some time before we recover from this current emotional grinder. Meanwhile, I’m back on the paid job today, so better get busy.


  17. Yo, Chris – Due to the wind, it really feels cold, this morning. I checked the National Weather site, and, the local temperature section is still N/A. So, I poked around a bit, and found this …Question: A particular station is not reporting Wind (Temp, Precip, Pressure…)

    Answer: Most of the weather stations in Mesowest are not maintained nor controlled
    by the National Weather Services. The data is just made available as a service to our
    customers. Problems with a particular station not reporting correctly is outside of
    our control.

    So whose responsibility is it? Near as I can figure, it’s our local airport. But, while poking around on their site, I did find local temperature readings. It got down to 31F (-0.55C), last night.

    Well, scholars … Pick a contrarian view and make a name for yourself. There are dog gravestones, all over Europe. And plenty of stones with carvings of children and their pets. I also noticed a certain amount of SJW, creep in the article. Oh, my gosh! The Romans treated their pets just like slaves!!! Please. I’ve noticed a lot of SJW creep, in the classics and archaeology postings, lately. Sometimes, my eyes are sore from so much rolling. 🙂 .

    Pam probably lost her internet due to the explosion in Nashville. Widespread outages of one system or another have been reported, from all over the SE.

    A couple of the articles on the snack bar (cafe?) mentioned the little dogs bones. The site had been disturbed by treasure seeking tunnelers, sometime in the past. There were also bones from two bodies, one scattered, and the other neatly collected and popped into a handy amphora. There was also a vague reference to a man found in his bed. In case of volcanic eruption, just pull the covers, over your head.

    Machines. Look at it this way. The minutes and hours that go to maintaining a machine, subtract from the wear and tear on the body. Hard to quantify. Apples and oranges. But you get my drift?

    I watched “Lagaan”, when it first came out. I think it was the first Bollywood movie, I watched. I enjoyed it enough that I gave a few more Bollywood movies, a spin. All that singing and energetic dancing. 🙂 . And I also noticed they have great character actors.

    If you Gargle “mangel washing machines” and check images, there sure are a lot of different versions, over the years. It was only by adding a product name, that I think I found my mum’s.

    The Green Wizards meet up sounds just like what everyone needs right now. I see you got a bag of compost, for Christmas! How thoughtful! Your favorite gift? 🙂 .

    That plot device of bumping off one character at a time, has been used in a lot of other films. But I think Christie did it first.

    Yeah, I remember when the end of the workweek was celebrated. TGIF, and all that. Might be due to technology creep. The work / rest of your life boundary has been eroded. A lot of people feel they have to be “connected” 24/7/365, to get ahead.

    You like chocolate, don’t you? How about old chocolate. REALLY old chocolate. I saw an article / video, “Banjo Paterson: 120-Year-Old Chocolate Found in Australian Poet’s Belongings.” I was going to link to it, but Gargle is acting up. Lew

  18. Hi Inge,

    I’m with your son in that regard. One more shed here is very necessary. Down here the shed roof spaces are also utilised to collect water, and this is an important other function of the sheds. The newer proposed shed up above the house will provide water for the very top garden terrace.



  19. Hi Al,

    I hear you about the locally grown seedlings and also saved seeds from prior years. That makes a difference and the corn seeds we saved from last season are much larger now than the heritage variety we purchased.

    Thanks for the suggestion and I grabbed some books from the bookshelf today. Turns out cucumber requires soil temperatures of 20’C / 68’F to germinate, but today’s maximum temperature only reached that…

    Freezing! Brr! Literally… Stay warm. 🙂



  20. Hi DJ,

    Thanks for the lovely words regarding the canine guest post and I shall pass them on to Ruby. She’ll be chuffed.

    Hehe! You’d love the view here and the prevailing winds run across the view and there are times that some cloud shapes just bring to mind all sorts of fantastic shapes and things. Hey, the smoke stack cloud would be handy for smoke curing meats. Very handy!

    Sometimes the dogs need reminding just who the boss is and your idea is a goodie for that. Was this for Thor Dog? He sounded very sensible to me and would hardly requiring being remonstrated with.

    Yeah, the break is good for my mental health, especially this year. Things have gone poorly for you and your lady this year, sorry to say, and you have my sympathy and condolences for your loss. Mate, it has been a very tough year for all of us.

    And I’m real sorry that you were unable to attend the service. I know how that feels.

    It was lovely that you could meet your lady half way. Some circumstances are best not endured alone.

    Maybe you should consider asking for some time off given the circumstances?

    Winter has arrived with force for you. Today here was quite pleasant and a really gentle summer’s day. A monsoonal storm is fast approaching over the next few days. The origin of the storm was the Coral Sea of all places. The wind rarely drives SW, but when it does, the winds are damp and warm.



  21. Hi Lewis,

    The weather stations down here are often automated for temperature, but reporting on the rainfall can still be a very manual process and it becomes a volunteer service if the weather station is on a persons property. The thing is though, it is only city folk who don’t worry too much about the weather. The subject is of prime importance to me, and I follow what has happened, and what is forecast to happen. Actually the Victorian Farm book discussed weather observations, and way back in the day, there were useful sayings to give people a general guide. Have you heard any of those from around your area? One I’ve heard is that cold winters are dry years.

    Hope the weather station problems get sorted out. Incidentally, the weather bureau of meteorology (I always think of films like Deep Impact when I type that out) are Federally funded and operated so there is only the single authority to deal with across the country. The rainfall gauge I use to compare to the readings here is supplied via the local water authority.

    Freezing weather is cold regardless. Grab an extra blanket! 🙂

    Hey, the sunlight this morning was a yellow-orange colour I’m guessing due to dust in the atmosphere. Haven’t read of any dust storms, but it might possibly even be last summers bushfire particles still circulating in the upper atmosphere.

    The weather was really nice today, and so with the threat of new years eve soon to be upon us all, we headed off to a nearby tourist trap. Oh my! So many people, but we dodged and weaved and scored a tasty chicken roll for me and ham roll for the editor with a lemon slice to complete. Went for a long walk, and then got out of there. So many people… But over the next few days things will be quieter due to new years eve and stuff, so enjoy while you can.

    In the afternoon, I weeded the vegetable beds for a couple of hours and discovered that a single watermelon appears to have germinated and is happily growing. I will definitely save seeds from that plant. And there may be one or two squashes growing. Turns out the soil is still too cold for the seeds to germinate. Next year I’ll try and start everything in the greenhouse and see what happens. Still no cucumbers though, so we dropped past a nursery and purchased a punnet of cucumber seedlings.

    There is a monsoon in the forecast from about Friday onwards for several days. The origin is from far up in the north east over the Coral Sea. Those sorts of storms are rare. It is much wetter in the far north, that’s for sure. We might get one or two inches of rain which is super handy at this time of the year.

    Thanks for the insight into the scholars hypothesis. I guess ask three scholars and get five answers is the rule to apply? It seemed like a long bow to draw, but the day to day lives of the Roman’s – especially the elite – would have customs and social arrangements that would probably do my head in. Appreciate your correction. 🙂

    SJW folks bore the daylights out of me.

    Yes, Pam’s internet has been spotty at best since that incident. I have strong doubts that 5G was the motivation for the act, and my thinking is that such concerns could be dealt with in other ways – this act was personal in the most fundamental sense of that word. I’d look into whether there were any disgruntled grievances. 5G is often an excuse used to connect people to conspiracy theories these days. I’ve never met anyone who has any issues with that technology.

    Ah, the article from the Guardian did not mention the dog. And pulling the covers over the head – well we now know how that strategy works, as in not well at all. Still, I doubt people will be discussing you and I in almost two millennia time.

    Yes, machines are a double edged sword in that you can do more work, but the toll on the body is often greater and the risks of misuse are higher. I get your drift – makes sense and the cost-benefit story is not lost on me. I’m trying to make the place easier to live and maintain and machines are useful for that task, for now.

    Mate, the singing and dancing was not to my taste at all. Where is the fast forward button, but the story was good and the acting was excellent. Credit where credit is due. But musicals…

    Hey, I gotta bounce. Will speak tomorrow. I have absolutely no ambitions to celebrate new years eve. Yes siree, no way at all!



  22. Chris:

    I am so glad that I didn’t miss your charming Ruby story. Thanks! It is sometimes very clear that something was meant to be: That place, that time, those puppies, and you and the editor.

    That’s an Ollie-sized bone!

    Look how Ruby smiles with her rawhide at the end of the day. She’s a smiler, that one.

    That is a phenomenal firewood job. Doesn’t it make you feel good?

    Do the thornless blackberries produce well? It certainly looks like it.

    I miss my yarrow; it all died off. I think it was in too wet and shady a spot.

    The Velomobile looks like something I just saw from the 1890’s, without the body. Did you know that they had electric cars at the turn of that century? Anyway, I like that Velomobile, though I’d have to add a trailer to it for my once-a-week trip into town.

    Geez – I didn’t know there was an explosion in Nashville. I’ll have to check into it.

    For Christmas my son gave me many large bags of sawdust cleaned up after some milling jobs that he has done recently. Isn’t that thoughtful? I am so excited. Part of that milling was for an office in the basement that he was building for my husband, who has gotten tired of paying office rent. It is now the best room in our house. So what – I have sawdust! My son bought himself an electric planer for Christmas.


  23. Chris,

    Thanks for your kind words. From both of us.

    During some of our smokiest days during fire season, we have joked about tying meat to a rope and swirling it around for an hour or so in the smoke to cure it. Your smokestack idea isn’t too farfetched. 😉

    The first dog we “treated” to the snout grab was Rakhi the Samoyed. It was something I picked up in some books about wolf behavior, and how the pack kept it’s pecking order. The snout grab worked wonderfully with Rakhi, and nearly as well with Cheyenne the Finnish Spitz. Thor? Not so successful with that technique, although it did help. With Thor, some light gnawing on an ear (which would get me fined and/or arrested if animal control observed it) worked much better. The ear gnaw is another wolf pack idea that a cousin suggested; her two dogs were 7/8 wolf and the ear gnaw worked best for them.

    Thor was extremely strong willed and HAD to be the dominant one. Although he learned a lot at obedience school, his personality would often lead him to testing the limits. Something about the Princess, though…after obedience school, he never really tested her. And our friend who was here a lot and rented our basement for 18 months? He was lower on the household pecking order than Thor and even Cheyenne! Those interactions were always amusing to the Princess and me, infuriating to our friend. The dogs loved to torment him with dominance games.

    It was fortunate that I could sense how the Princess was really feeling. Even though we were in separate vehicles, the proximity helped. If I hadn’t been there, she would’ve gotten behind a big tractor-trailer rig and let him set the pace.

    Winter has indeed set in. Al’s mentioning that it was 0C at his house, well, normally his area is several degrees warmer than here. However, with the fog it is different – half of the state had approximately the same temperature. I’ve heard from long haul truckers that during our fog times, they can drive hundreds of kilometers and not see any change in temperature.

    We got 5cm of snow overnight and it is still snowing. We might get up to 15cm total before it warms and turns to rain. Warming trend will warm things between 5C and 8C for several days, the lows expected to stay above freezing. “Chocolate mess” is what this quickly becomes.

    Thanks for the suggestion to take some time off work. With the working from home, I can do what needs to be done for the Princess and then extend the work day if needed, or just use leave time. Most of Thursday, however, will be not working, then I don’t return to work until Tuesday. And if conditions warrant, I’ll take time away today also. Meeting the current household needs is paramount, the paying job not so much.


  24. Hi Chris,
    We did get snow – about 4 – 6 inches of heavy wet snow. It was blowing hard all night so hard to know exact amount.

    Sounds like you had a great Green Wizards meet-up.

    We are doing the usual this New Year’s Eve. For other 30 years we have brought in the new year with our friends, Bill and Kathy of the retirement home. We rotate homes. This year it’s at our house.

    Happy New Year to you and the editor.


  25. @DJ

    I am so sorry to hear of your relatives. What a horrible year you’ve had. Glad you were able to meet your wife half way. Driving in that kind of weather is bad enough under normal circumstances. Hoping the new year treats you better.


  26. @ DJ – my condolences for you and the Princess over this latest death in a year full of far too much of it. I hope that 2021 is much easier on your families, with joys predominating.


  27. Yo, Chris – The only Ye Olde Weather Sayings, I have heard around here are “When the snow is on Baw Faw Peak …” Snow on, we’ll get a frost. Snow off, time to plant. I don’t see it, but, maybe I’m not observing closely, enough. I think some of those weather observations are, in general, pretty useless. As they are location specific. One thing I do know. Clear weather in the winter, here, means cold nights. Real cold.

    Eric Sloane wrote (and illustrated. Great pen and ink drawings.) a book called “Eric Sloane’s Weather Book.” All his other books are worth a look, too. Especially “tools.” There are some editions where they’ve gathered three or four of his books under one cover. But, I’ve never put much stock in his weather book, as, it’s, I think, specific to our east coast. Particularly, New England. I may be wrong.

    My friends in Idaho sent more frost pictures, this morning. Very beautiful. Nothing like the frosts we get here. I think it’s, maybe, because of low humidity. They have elaborate crystalline forms, on everything. I told them it gives them something pretty to look at, as they freeze to death. 🙂 . We’re back in atmospheric river mode, again. The flood this time?

    What a relief. The holidays will be over in a few days, and things can get back to more normal. Or, as normal as they are, these days. I ran into Suzanne Who Always Has a Better Idea, yesterday. Of course, per usual, she had a full medical rundown on everyone that’s been hauled out of here. Gallbladder, Thyroid, Congestive Heart Failure and … the vapors? But no “you know what.”

    Melons of any kind don’t have much of a chance, here. Squash does pretty well, especially if starts are used. I did my seed order, last night. Spent too much money. I ordered three kinds of tomato seeds. All heirloom, short season, cherries. I have seed left from the Marzano tomatoes, if I decide to subject myself to the heartbreak of larger tomatoes, again. 🙂 . But, I saved seed from the last two years, so maybe they’ve acclimated, a bit. I’m also trialing more greens. Miner’s lettuce, Devil’s tongue lettuce and a spinach variety. Just for a lark, I ordered some Mongolian Giant sunflower. It promises “bushels” of large seeds.

    Well, people are getting pretty crazy thoughts about 5G. That it spreads “you know what”. That it parboils your insides, or, convinces you to vote against your inclinations. I think I mentioned a few months ago, that several cell towers in England had been attacked (technical staff, too). The Nashville Bomber story gets more and more interesting. His dad worked for AT&T. But the corker is, his girlfriend reported to the police, months ago, that he was building bombs in his RV. But, he didn’t answer the door, and the RV was in the backyard and fenced so … The police passed along the report to the FBI. They did a background check, but nothing sent up a red flag, so …

    I made a big (and I mean big) pot of sweet and sour cabbage soup, last night. It was pretty tasty. Probably be better, today. I’ll freeze a lot of it up, for quick meals. Lew

  28. Hi Chris,

    Wishing you, the Editor, and the fluffies a happy 2021! Tell Plum I enjoyed hearing from her.

    After a couple of good days of collecting leaves for next year’s compost piles, it is raining today. Which is better than the frozen precipitation north of St. Louis. The weather prognosticators are once again equivocating on whether or not any frozen precipitation will be falling on us in the next few days. Whatever happens, Mike and I will be spending the next few days at home. By next week the weather should improve so more of the winter version of yard work can be done.

    @ everyone: I wish all a happy 2021!


  29. Hi Dj
    Condolences on the loss of family members. There seems to be no let up with the terrible disease. Hope fully the vaccine distribution smoothes out soon.
    Hopefully your planned retirement goes well. Not having to go to work any more is a great improvement.
    The Mercantile is a good place. They opened another location in south Richland several years back. Seems to be working.

  30. I love the fact that you noted you have taken 3 weeks off ‘paid work’… and then proceeded to outline your usual ‘unpaid work’ schedule. Are you thinking of kicking back in a hammock at any stage?

  31. Hi Inge,

    Remember to say goodbye to your recent new continental best friends this evening at midnight. 🙂

    Your old mates aren’t all that far away.

    My reading of history has lead me to believe that they were a troublesome lot anyway. And old habits probably die hard.



  32. Hi Pam,

    Glad you enjoyed the Ruby story. She’s a spicy minx that dog, and I was a bit worried you’d miss the dog tail (sic) story due to all of the communication dramas in your corner of the world. And yes, fate and chance opportunity plays a larger hand in life than most people realise.

    The three of them are still enjoying the huge bone. Earlier in the week I went to purchase another such, only to discover that there were none to be had. The dogs have to deal with the smaller off cut bones stored in the freezer. Don’t worry about them, they’re doing just fine.

    Ruby has a lovely and very cheeky face. Her moods flash across her features, and thus we all know where we stand. Fortunately she has given up trying to out-alpha the editor and I – we’re onto that particular canine business.

    Thank you and you can quote me here: dry, seasoned firewood is like money in the bank – but better. In these days of negative interest rates, firewood is looking like a good investment.

    Yes, the thornless blackberries are rippers. We grow two varieties: Chester and Waldo, although there may be more planted. The canes which tip root produce true to type, but the seedling varieties often cross pollinate with the wild varieties – of which there are plenty growing in the forest. Blackberries are a favourite berry. Yum!

    Maybe about your yarrow? The ones here are grown in very well drained soil in full sun. They come back each year despite the dogs sun-baking on the collection of herbs. The dogs are bad for gardens, but the rabbits are worse.

    Yeah, I knew about the electric vehicles from way back in the day. Despite what people will tell you, batteries are a very old technology. We may have made recent innovations with them, but at the core they are the same things they once were and even the new favourite lithium batteries used to power the house have all the same underlying issues as other battery types. Actually interestingly too, the older batteries from those days had much longer lifespans than the newer chemistries. It is surprising that much of the low hanging fruit in relation to technology has already been picked off by the parrots leaving little to harvest. Cheeky scamps those birds. 😉

    Sawdust is a great gift for the garden. And electric planers can do amazing work. Hey, a mate brought a sack full of high end compost when he visited a few days ago. A similarly thoughtful gift.



  33. Hi DJ,

    Thank you, and mate you and your lady have had one tough twelve months. May you now both be on the other side of darkness, looking at the dawns light, whilst recalling the dreadful night just gone and those who have passed on.

    The smoke idea is worth a try! 🙂 There was a grass fire about an hour’s drive north of here yesterday and the sunlight had this odd yellow-orange hue, but the sinuses tell no lies. When the smoke is thick, that is when it becomes really troublesome to breathe. The authorities have done very little preparation this past year for bushfires – I hope they know what they’re doing. But then my gut feeling tells a different story.

    Thanks to your suggestion I tried the snout grab technique on the obstreperous Ruby late this afternoon. And she submitted to the treatment, calmed down and joined me on the living room couch for an afternoon’s brief kip. The weather today was inclement and so there was no point working outside or running around like a crazy sheep dog. You’re probably right about the chewing on the ear, and dogs are just smaller domesticated wolves.

    Yeah, sometimes you just have to act as you did with your lady. There are no guidelines for such things. But I’m glad to hear that it went as well as it possibly could given the circumstances. Dunno about you, but I’ve got this odd notion that sometimes you are ahead, and sometimes you are behind in life. When you’re behind, you need support, but when you are ahead, that’s when you can give support. Works for me.

    Far out, hearing of 0’C temperatures evokes a chill up the spine. Mind you, for much of the day today it was only 11’C and the thick low clouds delivered drizzle all day long. An uninspiring summer’s day. And believe it or not outside is now like pea soup. Yeah, not summer at all.

    Exactly, soon the job will be in the rear view mirror, and supporting your lady and family is paramount from time to time. That’s life. Just to remember to occasionally squeeze in a craft brew or gourmet pie – or local equivalent (especially true given your excellent-bakery-desert which you sadly live in!)



  34. Hi Margaret,

    That’s great to hear about the snow. And I hope Leo and Salve had a good run around and frolic in the frozen white stuff? Out of curiosity has Doug attempted to over-winter any hives?

    Summer here this year has been err, interesting. And I should note that this summer is more pleasant than the crazy hot weather and epic fires of last summer. But, yeah, like Elvis, summer appears to have left the building. Today was 52’F and along with thick fog, the clouds have just drizzled all day long. We had plans to move some rocks, but the conditions were very sub-fluffy optimal. Oh well.

    Thanks, and the meet up was a lot of fun. The weather that day was superb, and the conversation over lunch was really good. The editor and I fed everyone up with bread, salads, cheese, meats and then for dessert there was the editor’s Pavlova made and baked that morning from our eggs and with fresh berries from the garden.

    Hope your New Years eve is fun. 🙂 Do Bill and Kathy miss running their retirement home after what must be, two or three years? How did Marty and his girlfriend enjoy Christmas this year?

    New year’s down here this year has become a bit super-weird. State borders are again shutting firmly as of midnight tomorrow night. People are now scrambling to come home again. I know of a bloke who was going to fly up to the northern coastal part of the state which is far to the north of here, and if I could speak to him now I’d suggest: Mate, it’s not good. Oh well.

    We’re having a very low key New Year’s this year, but rest assured we made it to the local pub last night which was a lot of fun. 🙂 My gut feeling said to me to go yesterday young man (as in go west young man!) I dunno, I just try to enjoy things whilst I can. Is this a bad thing I ask you? 😉



  35. Hi Claire,

    Wishing you and Mike a lovely New Year’s too. And may the next year in your garden be even more bountiful than this year.

    In what can be only several degrees of separation, a mate of mine claims to have met and be on speaking terms with Steve Solomon. I didn’t bring up Steve’s name either, so who knows about the veracity of the claim. I see that Steve has written a book on gardening down under titled: Growing Vegetables South of Australia. Ah, I just picked up a second hand copy of his book. The elevation above sea level here produces a similar climate to that of Tasmania where Steve lives. I’ll be interested to read what he has to say on the topic.

    Hehe! It’s raining here today too, and only 11’C today. This is not my summer… And likewise, the weather forecast over the next few days is almost unintelligible to us, because a monsoon appears to be arriving from the Coral Sea – not rare, but not a common event either. And yup, the work outdoors is calling to be done. I lied about being the indoors type! Hehe!



  36. Hi Jo,

    Ah, a misconception. Hehe! The weather was filthy here today. I woke up early to find that the farm was enveloped in thick fog which produced a near continuous drizzle. The editor and I decided, well she decided anyway, to partake of coffees, a Lindt chocolate and a book in bed, and then we went in search of some excellent bakery products and a gourmet pie for lunch. Upon returning home the drizzle continued so I fell asleep for a short while on the couch where Ruby kept me warm on an otherwise bonkers cold summer’s day. 11’C today and very damp. Where is summer? Hopefully your faith in me has been restored somewhat? 🙂

    I feel though that in order to restore some semblance of balance to your preconceptions, that I must mention that I did have plans to move some rocks today. Seriously, the rocks needed moving, but alas, woe is me for it was no day to work outside. The rainfall forecast for the next few days looks kind of crazy to me, but oh well.

    My Christmas sort of mirrored your Christmas and I always enjoy your writing. I kind of enjoyed that unexpectedness though, as it was all a far less expectational experience, and the visits we had were consequently that much more fun.

    Hope your garden is growing well.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    It sure is crazy days down here, and there are a handful of cases now and the state is getting shut down and closed off. Some residents on holidays in other states are probably now scrambling back to return home before the border closures are enforced at I believe midnight tomorrow night. Fun times.

    Woke up this morning to discover that the work day option had disappeared from view. The farm – and mountain range – was enveloped in thick cloud which dropped visibility for the day down to about 100ft. The clouds produced drizzle all day long, and call me summer soft, but far out 52’F is just cold when the skies are also drizzling. Anyway, ideas as to work were dumped and we’d actually had plans to add more rocks to the side walls of the new low gradient path leading down into the orchard. But the idea of trudging around the property in the rain held zero appeal.

    Some people might get bummed out by such weather, but that is not us. The editor suggested heading to a nearby town in order to test out the bakery products, and then travel off to get some gourmet pies for lunch. An excellent plan which was soon put into action. Had a chicken, leek and bacon pie – and it was good. And because the place selling the gourmet pies is in a town to the north of here, it was sunny and slightly warm.

    Part of us was sort of hoping that upon returning home to the farm, the cloud had lifted, but nah – it was still there hanging over the mountain range. And right now visibility is down to about 50ft. I can barely even see the tall trees, and am considering lighting the wood fire. Brr…

    For your interest, the mangel was down here called a ‘wringer’. The word mangel quite surprised me when I read it, because to mangle something was meant to seriously destroy it. That may be a local language difference though. And there was also the intrepid: Alby Mangels, who you may not have heard of.

    Yeah, the meet up – or rather catch up with mates the other day was fun, and the weather was superb. The bloke who actually began the Green Wizard’s group has on many times suggested to me that the sun never shines over the farm, but this may be just a timing thing.

    Actually, we haven’t done Christmas gifts for a long time, maybe two decades, maybe longer. Donations yes, gifts no. It works for us. I’ll chuck the compost onto the garden beds and was planning to do that particular job today except the weather had other plans in store for us. Oh well.

    Discovered what looks like a rabbit burrow leading into one of the garden terraces. There is always something new and interesting going-on, on a farm.

    I read that the book was the best selling work, but also hardest for Agatha Christie to write. The text did not elucidate exactly why that may be. Possibly getting into the mind space of a person who could so such things was troubling for the author? Dunno. But it is a great plot device.

    Maybe, my perspective is that economics killed the Friday nights after work drinks, and then societal expectations filled the gap with other activities. But I can well understand why millennials might want some feedback on their work, if only because bosses have forgotten to provide any feedback at all in the first place. It is possible also that there is a deeper question in there about the meaningfulness of some forms of work which does not want to be addressed?

    Almost good enough to eat, 120 year old chocolates commissioned by Queen Victoria for Commonwealth soldiers fighting the Boer War. One pound of which was nabbed by war correspondent in South Africa, Banjo Patterson who later became famed bush poet. Sounds like the makings of a book to me, but even better the story was true. 🙂

    Well I never thought that there would be mountains in your part of the world which were lower in elevation than the main ridge here. Well that was a first. It’s a good name though: Baw Faw Peak. Ah, the mountain is to your south west. I’ll defer to your experience in the matter, and yeah I guess the observations are very locally applicable.

    Thank you for the introduction to the artist Eric Sloane, and I’m seriously impressed. What a work ethic too. His early days and work would have guided his excellent calligraphy.

    Hehe! The crystalline frost forms don’t appear here either except on the roof of the dirt mouse Suzuki. That has some way cool frost patterns from time to time, but yeah everywhere else is probably similar to what you see. Down in Melbourne, they rarely see a frost nowadays, but it was not always that way and I recall frozen surfaces on ponds when I was a kid. How do your Idaho friends heat (I almost accidentally typed the word ‘freeze’) their house during such cold weather?

    Any signs of flooding up your way? I seriously have no idea as to what tomorrow’s weather will bring.

    Good to hear that all of the recent nearby medical dramas were just the usual suspects. Nobody ever wants an ‘interesting’ medical condition as that rarely bodes well.

    Hehe! It ain’t just up your way that melons are a chancy prospect. 🙂 Yes, good luck with the larger tomatoes, and who knows you might just have a season which proves both of us wrong. But the mid sized and cherry sized fruits are a safer bet. Hehe! Mongolian Giant Sunflower. Good stuff, and we all must dream our dreams of greatness from time to time. You know, given the origins of the variety, you might just be onto something there. I’ve trialled Siberian melon’s and they have worked some years and then not worked other years.

    I’ve heard the 5G stories, but the consistency with which that term is applied to all manner of other concerns seems to ring a bit oddly to my mind. If I were going to bust up a protest action, I’d probably bring along a few oddballs who make odd claims about the technology and other unrelated matters. It is not like this sort of thing has not happened before: British women thought they’d found boyfriends who shared their beliefs. They were actually undercover police. Life can be stranger than fiction sometimes.

    From what you say, the police were on the street, and escalated the matter. The other mob might not have got out from behind their desks.

    Oh yes, food is often better the next day! Had a Spanish potato tortilla for dinner this evening. Very good, and the leftovers will make a fine bubble and squeak for lunch tomorrow.



  38. @ DJSpo:

    DJSpo, you and your wife are so much in my prayers. It has been so hard for you, but you still have each other,


  39. Chris:

    Thank you for the thornless blackberry variety names. Chester and Waldo would be great names for dogs – or chickens.


  40. Hello Chris
    Yes, we have shed the extra unwanted imposed laws. The fishing remains a problem.
    The Island has been moved to tier 4 which is nearly lockdown.
    36F outside and it drops below freezing at night; no snow though.


    @ All
    I wish everyone a better New Year and happiness.


  41. Yo, Chris – I thought I saw a headline about shutting down … again. I guess there’s also a mutation, that is causing some concern. Started in England, and cases are already showing up in New York and California.

    Change of plans. What did Mr. Greer say to someone, this week? Stay nimble? 🙂 . The Great Pie Chase sounds like a worthy alternative. Given our weather, here, there are “inside days” and “outside days.” You can plan, but it’s always good to have a plan “B” in the back of your mind.

    LOL. It’s also called a wringer washer, here. Rarely, a mangle. I figured it was one of those local language differences.

    Christie might have had problems with “And Then There Were None” (the title they finally settled on, I guess), because there are so many characters. I started watching a newish series, last night, “Queens of Mystery.” And the first two episodes had so many characters, I wondered how I’d sort them all out.

    There was a parody done in 1976. “Murder by Death.” Quit the cast, of both actors and detectives. It’s a comedy / mystery. Silly and fun, as I remember.

    I see they’ve made a film of “Nomadland.” I read the book when it came out, a few years ago. Now the book, is more investigative reporting. The film, a fictionalized account. After the Crash of 08, thousands of oldsters took to the road, due to losing their homes. Became migrating workers, moving from temp job, to temp job. Seasonal work. The River fulfillment warehouses in winter, maybe parks department concessions, in summer. The book was quit good. The film, I don’t know. Haven’t seen the trailer, yet.

    Well, the Costal Range (which Baw Faw peak is a part of) is really more a range of hills. Though further north, the Olympics can get pretty tall. It runs from the Olympics to northern California. Further inland, is the Cascade Range. Taller, and that’s where most of the volcanos are. I, and most of the population of the Pacific Northwest, live in between. Our part of the Cost Range is called the Willapa Hills. Robert Michael Pyle wrote a book about the Willapas, called “Wintergreen: Rambles in a Ravaged Land.” Very good. Very lyrical.

    My friends in Idaho have electric heat … but both their places also have wood stoves. Which they use frequently, to knock the top off the electric bills. The house they’re trying to sell, had a showing the other day. And the folks looking at it spent two hours poking around. Sounds promising.

    I figure I’ll plant the Mongolian Giant Sunflowers at either end of where I’m going to put the corn. A good place if I have to rope them in, too. Just a couple of plants, at each end. See how they do.

    That was quit a story about the undercover police. Soon to be a major motion picture? 🙂 . Undercover police have had a long history. The Roman emperors had their frumentarii, and later the agentes in rebus. Commonly referred to as curiosi. In the 1960s, it was pretty well known that everything from the anti-war movement to the civil rights movement, was infiltrated by the FBI. The recent plot to kidnap and execute the governor of Wisconsin was infiltrated from two or three different directions. I vaguely remember watching a TV series, from 1953 to 1956 (I would have been 4 – 6 years old) called “I Led 3 Lives.” An advertising executive poses as a Communist agent but secretly reports to the FBI. The walls have ears 🙂 .

    Well, I made a couple of dozen banana muffins, last night. Popped a dozen in the freezer. Will nosh on the remainder, at my leisure.

    I nipped down to the library, this morning. As they’re going to be closed, tomorrow, New Year’s Day. Picked up (finally) the Great Courses, “Crashes and Crises: Lessons from a History of Financial Disasters.” And, a lot of other stuff. Lew

  42. Hi Pam,

    🙂 Never thought of using those names for dogs, but yeah what a great idea. Nowadays I don’t name the chickens, but there are two that are almost a decade old that do have names. Ironically, the oldest chicken is known as ‘baby silk’. With all that fluff you wouldn’t know that the silky chicken is the oldest of the collective. And second oldest is known as ‘fluffy head’ as she is a silky – Australorp cross and has the distinctive Billy Idol hair-do that silkies have. No more silkies…

    Oh no! You got me wondering about just how many varieties of thornless blackberry there were available. That lead to plant nursery websites. Pam, lead me not into temptation! 🙂



  43. Hi Inge,

    Good for you. I’d also vote to break away from the Union. History guides my viewpoint though, and I fail to see why the future will be that much different from the past. I heard on the radio news today that your leaders dad is outing himself as a Norman! I wonder about such public displays, but I guess it all goes to prove that you can pick your friends, but you can’t choose your family.

    Oh my, Inge you have my sympathy as I lived under such restrictions for more months than I’m comfortable with last year. As a society we had to wind things back somewhat, but this is a bizarre way to do it, sorry to say.

    A bit of snow would bring some mid-winter cheer. Today was quite warm and humid down here and we moved large rocks around. I’m feeling it tonight, that’s for sure, but once the rocks are in place, well it will be many years again before they are not in place. It looks like two storms will converge upon the farm in another couple of hours.

    My only advice is to keep your pantry well stocked.



  44. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, it is the never ending problem. On the other hand, we really did need to ‘tone it down’ as a society and so this way is as good as any. My only advice is to keep your pantry and supply of basic pharmaceuticals, well stocked. The mutation story is doing the rounds down here too. An official pronouncement as to the vaccine was made today, and I couldn’t agree more with the advice – which suggested to take the precautionary principle in this matter due to the rush on development.

    Hey, didn’t that long deceased dude also once pronounce from the mount of olives: Blessed are the nimble? The main problem with being a smarty-pants is that when you go back to the source of the joke, you end up at Monty Python and the Life of Brian. The actual sermon on the mount turns out to be some sort of fiercely debated set of doctrines. Best not get involved me thinks. It is a bit like the how many angels on the head of a pin concern.

    I hear you about inside and outside days – although unlike you I am now dodging the late afternoon sun. The weather forecast has done my head in and I can’t make heads or tails as to what might actually eventuate. However today was hot and humid. We did move some very large rocks. I slipped at one point and fell and was very grateful that the fall was good and my face didn’t land on the large rock being moved. I now have large scratches up my right arm. Cleaning them up was interesting, but after that I kept at work. Blood on the rocks and all that.

    Generally I don’t work after a late lunch on hot days. But today, I made an exception and planted out the remaining chili’s and eggplants, and the various garden beds are now weeded, feeded (I made that word up as it sort of rhymed) and all of the seedlings that can be planted out, have been planted out. Actually, we have run out of growing space. A very strange and unlikely thing to experience, but oh well, next year and all that.

    The peanuts and ginger have been retained in the greenhouse for the moment.

    Plan B’s and Plan C’s are a way of life here. The future it should be said is seriously uncertain. It is possible that a storm is converging way off to the west of here and it looks impressive on the radar, but what will actually eventuate is unknown to me.

    This year we have planted out more crops, and more diverse crops than in any previous year. Each year it gets that little bit easier to live here and understand the seasons, and I couldn’t imagine how anyone would ever expect to pick up all this information and experience in one growing season. No way at all is that possible.

    Glad to hear that about the ‘wringer’ being the same language. I had this odd notion that a mangle is what would be left of your face after Robert E Howard’s character Sailor Steve Costigan had been at work. 🙂

    Mate, the ‘so many characters’ claim reminds me of George RR Martin’s Game of Thrones series of books (haven’t watched the series) and my mind swirled at the sheer number of characters and narratives. My mind is limited in that regard and I have to recall not only client’s names, but their kids, sometimes their pets, and it is too much for me – I’m limited, but do my best. Anyway, I dare you to read the Game of Thrones books. It’s an engrossing tale, but last I checked the books didn’t finish the tale, although that may be, err, no. The penultimate and final books are labelled as forthcoming. Thought so, he needs a ghost writer.

    Ah, I recall your mention of the book ‘Nomadland’. It’s got a good cast, and is on at a cinema in the big smoke. Incidentally, the cinema was nice enough to extend our membership for another year when we went a few weeks back. The trailer looks good. I’ve heard stories of the river of stuff which sounds a bit like a cult. There were some alleged reports that the demands were such that stock pickers couldn’t go to the toilet. I’ve seen Fight Club and can think of many interesting solutions to that particular problem.

    Ah, I had not understood the differences between the coastal and inland ranges. Thanks. Spotted an article on volcanoes down under style: Australia has lots of ancient volcanoes. But how did they form? The photos are beautiful and I am somewhat drawn to mountains as some folks are drawn to the sea.

    A couple of hours poking around is not something that a person would do on a whim. And wood heating is a superb technology, as long as you have access to a wood lot. The local suppliers have run out of firewood in years just gone. I became interested in the topic and quietly asked a few searching questions. Turns out there were lists of who to supply and if supply became available you’d want to be on the list. But supply has been fraught these past few years.

    Yeah, a great idea with the sunflowers, and it also uses the tying up practices that you were intending to use with the corn. Winning. 🙂 I’m seriously interested that our saved corn seeds have produced plants that are now almost double the height of the other open pollinated varieties. They’ve all got a lot of growing to go still.

    Thanks for that, as I’d heard the British undercover story a year or so back, but hadn’t realised that it had escalated to the point where it was now in the newspapers and a formal review was underway. You know, some people like duplicity. Met one of those many long years ago and he was a boss and left behind a trail of destruction. It was an interesting time.

    How did the banana muffins turn out?

    And have you commenced watching the Great Course? Sounds like fun – unless you’ve lost your shirt in the disaster.

    Considering breaking up some larger rocks into smaller rocks tomorrow. Peak Rocks is real, sad to say.



  45. Hi Chris
    Great Blog and flower picrures as usual😁. Glad to see the clothes wringer and mangle reference.
    Short answer: maybe; The integrated wringer for removing excess water from the washed, rinsed article was originally a free standing machine that when cranked removed the water by squeezing cloth between its counter rotating wooden rollers which applied controlled pressure. It for some reason was called a Mangle. Maybe because of causing badly crushed body parts like fingers for the careless user. It was also tried out as a means of wrinkle removal from dry cloth objects. Ohookay😊rolling ahead to the the modern times (1940-50s) electrically heated ironing machines for home use called “ironers”or mangles where sold as labor saving home appliances. My mom had one and didn’t like or use it much. Basically it had a cloth covered powered rotating roller. A electrically heated iron platen curved to match the outside surface of the roller. The platen applied force and heat to the cloth that moved thru when foot pressure was applied by the operator. The problem came in maintaining alignment and adequate pressure without sustaining burn injuries and frustration.
    Commercial laundries use better designed similar industrial machinery for the same purpose today. My dad was required to wear white dress shirts to work daily. “A bit stuffy what!” That was relaxed by the 60s.

    The hand operated steam iron became the choice for home workers in the later 1950s on.
    I only heard the “ Mangle”name applied to the ironer on a recent reality show about life on luxury cruise commercial yachts where crew members called that to powered ironing machines used to keep up the crew uniforms and the frequent changes by the members as the job required.
    For,of course, continued pleasure of the high priced clientele. $300,000 US per week long cruise.😱 (per group)!
    There a many pieces of Mangle machine out there waiting for the carelessness of us all!

  46. Good evening

    Happy New Year to all!

    Waking up in anticipation of a steel grey but nice (and rare) hard frost day here in Eastern England , I got …… damp, dark sogginess! Cromwell the Christmas-Banner would have approved . Such weather has been all too familiar this winter!

    There were lots of fireworks last night in this village, so some people had decided to cheer themselves up. But when I looked out, the mist had swallowed them up, decidedly eerie.

    My view on 2020 is that it has made me so tough that no one would really enjoy chewing on me in 2021……

    Aldous Huxley wrote that much can be made bearable with courtesy and consideration, and the more I reflect on that the truer it seems – in fact, it could change the world for the better if people tried it. Above all governments and their dubious expert health advisers.

    Is anything more discourteous and inconsiderate than incessant lock-downs and making people wear masks in the open air?

    Sir Sancho cannot express the depth of his gratitude for the very special Ruby Issue, with such magnificent photos of his sadly distant – but no less adored – beloved.

    2020 has made him fatter, so he’s lucky there are no predators around here or he’d be a tasty treat……. This will have to be corrected by some exercise when the waters recede.

    All the best, and enjoy your weeks off work: that sort of break is just essential in trying times like these.

    I have a feeling that 2021 will make our heads spin, although hope to be disproved. At least the b(unfamily-friendly word) s can’t ban Spring!

    All the best, and thanks for keeping this blog going!

  47. @ DJ – I am so sorry for the Princesse’s, and your many losses, this year. It’s just stunning. I ran across the phrase “collective loses.” Yup. That just about sums it up.

    NPR had an article, yesterday about the Colville Reservation …

    Maybe the article will get them a little help? I see a Native American woman is becoming the new Secretary of the Interior. If she gets confirmed. About time to get someone in there who “knows of which she speaks.” Lew

  48. Yo, Chris – Happy New Year! May this year be far, far better, than last.

    Well, luckily, my “basic pharmaceuticals” are aspirin and vitamin tablets. 🙂 . I buy them when they go on sale, and, generally have a three or four month supply, on hand.

    The “Life of Bryan” is the font of everything. (Unless it’s “Fight Club.”) L of B is the source code for life as we know it. 🙂 . I don’t know. The “Sermon on the Mount,” always seemed pretty straightforward, to me. But then, some people will argue about anything.

    A blood sacrifice to the Rock Gods? Seems a bit over the top. Your always banging on about peak rocks, and then seem to always come up with more. You remember the tale of the boy who cried wolf? 🙂 .

    One of the Master Gardeners dropped me a New Year’s greeting, e-mail. And said they’d be here in February to “talk garden” and divide up the spaces. I presume. Maybe we’ll hear if there’s to be a slate cleaning, or not. All this uncertainty is off-putting. I’m going to fire an e-mail back, ask when I should start my tomatoes and peppers, inside.

    I’m not going near Martin’s “GOTs.” I don’t care much for fantasy, anyway, and that “…seven royal houses,” was the show stopper.

    I read that “Nomadland” uses some of the nomads as extras and actors. I hope they paid them well.

    LOL. Always have to do things different, down in Australia. Even your volcanos. I’ve always thought the idea of volcanic plugs was pretty interesting. Harder rock that stays, while the whole mountain around it weathers and erodes away. That’s some Deep Time.

    And some folks are drawn to the desert. Don’t understand that, at all.

    Here, firewood is pretty easy to scrounge up, yourself, if your so inclined. Permits are issued (very cheap) to cut firewood on Federal or State forestland. There’s also wood from private land. Seems like someone always has a tree that needs to be cut up. Mostly, free for the hauling. So, how do you get on the firewood list? Need to slip someone a bit of gelt? Would some of the Editor’s famous Lamington do? Kill someone?

    The banana muffins turned out, O.K.. Last night I made a pan of corn bread, for my New Year’s Day lucky meal. Turns out I was about 1/4 cup short of corn meal, and didn’t want to dig out the grinder. So, I substituted corn grits, that had happened to come in our Magic Food Boxes. Worked out, fine. Discovered I can go easier on using drippings for greasing the pan.

    I also took a walk down memory lane. Back when I was in grade school (K through 8), they kept adding onto the school to meet the needs of the crest of the post war baby boom. Between 5th and 6th grade, we got more classrooms, a gym and a combo auditorium and lunch room. A real cafeteria, with lots of stainless steel and, “lunch ladies.” Sometimes, they made big trays of corn bread, with a honey glaze. I had never tried it, and I’ve got this organic honey from the food boxes. So … found pretty simple instructions, on the net. 1/4 cup of honey and 4 tablespoons of butter. Melt, poke holes with a toothpick, all over the top, and slather it on. Tasty.

    The Lucky New Year’s Day meal, is something I just read about, a couple of years ago. Very Southern. I have no roots in the South, but why not? I suppose it’s appropriation and lack of authenticity, which some people seem to worry about these days. Do I? Well, no. Don’t care. In the interest of authenticity, I may wave a Confederate flag, and sing a couple of choruses of “Dixie.”

    I watched the first three episodes of The Great Courses, on financial crashes. A lot of it was over my head, but the professor talked about how technology effects markets (flash crashes, etc.), where future crashes might come from (artificial currencies, block chains, etc..) and is the market more volatile than in the past. He feels that from the Great Depression, to about the 1960s, the relative calmness of the market was an unusual, and that without regulation, markets are volatile, by nature. He spent an episode talking about Ponzi and Ivar Kreuger, The Match King. Him I had never heard of. The professor thinks that crashes and panics are caused by human nature, and what are you going to do, about that?

    And, for todays dose of “avast ye hearties” (which would make a fine name for a stout ale) here’s a short piece about Tortuga.

    No parrots were harmed in the writing of this article.

    I had kind of forgot that New Year’s Eve means high explosives. Well, they started in about four o’clock and went til 1am. Early on, it was just lots of big bangs. Not much colorful aerial display. I thought, maybe closer to midnight. But no. A few, but nothing like previous years. Supply line problems? Luckily, all the noise doesn’t frighten H. It just kind of irritates her. Lew

  49. Chris,

    The 31st was a short job day for me, followed by dental and eye doctor stuff. We added in some errands that the Princess wanted to do. These included buying some yummy treats and take out sandwiches from one of our 3 favorite eateries.

    “May you now both be on the other side of darkness, looking at the dawns light, whilst recalling the dreadful night just gone and those who have passed on.” Thanks for that, from both of us.

    Cool! I’m glad the snout grab is helping you. The one who grabs the snout is the boss. Maybe this will calm Ruby down a bit. It will be interesting to see how long Ollie is the one who grabs the others’ snouts.

    We wound up with a total of 22cm of snow at my house. That’s 2 of this size this season, accounting for 75% of the 60 cm we’ve gotten so far. So, I got out Big Bertha and proceeded to work. The machine was behaving improperly, and I noticed that one of the tires was flat. I had to horse the Behemoth Bertha up the snowy driveway slope into the garage. The electric air compressor made short work of the flat tire, then back to work. Some areas, steps and such, need to be shoveled by hand. 2 hours later, an exhausted DJ had completed the snow removal. While clearing snow from the Bertha’s blades, it was noted that one of the blades twirled, which means that it had hit something a bit unforgiving and broken off a shear pin. Found the bag of shear pins and cotter pins and replaced it. Maybe next time Bertha will operate at full capacity. Now it’s all melting, and we could see temperatures approaching +10C. Balmy. 😉


  50. @ Al, Claire, Marg, Pam:

    Thanks for the kind and encouraging words. They have been helpful.

    May 2021 be better for all of us!


  51. @ Lew,

    Thanks for the thoughts. “Collective losses” sums it up very well.

    I know the tavern in the picture. We used to stop in there, have a beer and shoot pool. There used to be 2 taverns in Nespelem, but the other one burned down quite some time ago.

    Add the tavern owner to the list of people we know who’ve had the dread unmentionable.


  52. Hi Al,

    Thanks for that. 🙂 It is a pleasure to share the place with you.

    Ah, of course and so obvious (from hindsight), the clothes wringer, and particularly the variety driven by electric motors, which squeezes clothes dry, can also squeeze careless fingers so they end up looking like they’d done ten rounds with the heavyweight champion: The Mangler. Yeah, not good. My grandmothers unit was detached from the laundry trough, from memory, although the memory is hazy after all these years.

    That was true for down here too, and work clothes requirements was quite formal when I first began working. Business shirt, pants and tie was a requirement, otherwise you’d get a serious talking too. One day I went into work feeling like Mr Cool wearing off-white pants and a chunky nit white jacket with thin leather tie. I was so cool I got a stern talking too and was thoroughly told off, and decided not to ever wear such things again. But for a moment, I was very cool, but hero to zero and all that. Hehe!

    I can see how the hand iron reigned supreme. Mate, I had to do my own ironing from when I was very early teenager, and as such I learned to do as little ironing as possible. It seems like a wise adaption to circumstance.

    A fool and their money… But for such revenue streams I maybe could be persuaded to enjoy ironing. Al, I am weak, it is true! Hehe!!! Just kidding, ain’t enough money in that arrangement for me to consider ironing. They’d certainly have to begin spending in the millions. Yes, ’tis only fair.



  53. Hi Xabier,

    A happy New Years to you and Sir Sancho as well.

    Ruby has a special message to deliver to Sir Sancho. I’m blushing at the unprintable message… And going on in the background: No Ruby, you must not write such things. Despite your strong feelings in this matter, you must play harder to get. Ruby, now I have heard rumours that Sir Sancho is in the midst of winter and not in peak physical condition. Young lady, you will do as I say – now! Don’t you get stroppy with me. Right that’s it, you are cut off the interweb for one week! Phew, hopefully nobody overhead that conversation.

    Sir Sancho, please accept my apologies, Ruby is currently indisposed and unable to attend the mid-winter festival of canineness. I can only pray and hope that soon she will feel better. If by chance your heart should look to other quarters, Ruby will be eternally saddened. But life must go on. Experience has taught me that here are plenty more fish in the sea and hopefully you can learn to embrace this eternal truth.

    Mate, your weather has been strange, but the past few days have likewise been bonkers down here. The weather all around the area has been monsoonal. That means warm to hot days, thick clouds and high humidity, but then the rain is just travelling north and south of the mountain range. The forecast suggests that it will rain, but no… I now find myself in a rain avoidment area.

    The mist would be super weird with fireworks. There seemed to be very little in the way of New Years Eve celebrations down here. It is hard to celebrate when state borders are being shut and people are in a bit of a panic.

    Exactly, but beware the wrath of the gods. There are times I’ve felt that the past twelve months have been all about getting ones house in order.

    Aldous Huxley is most likely correct. Civility is part of the tool kit which stops us all going postal. It’s not a bad option and has been used to good effect over history.

    Mate, masks are still required down here in some situations, but there were months when a) you could not leave your home except for four reasons; and b) when you did you had to wear a mask. Try wearing one all day long and it just kind of messes with my head. I hear you.

    Yes, today is weird, tomorrow may get weirder. Something to be excited about, me thinks. 🙂 And hopefully your head does not spin Exorcist style – that requires the consumption of a lot of pea soup – and how many lentils or split peas do you really want to eat?



  54. Hi DJ,

    Very wise to attend to your teeth and eye business. Did you know that down here, teeth business is considered so important that some organ transplant operations will not take place until the teeth business is sorted out. A lot of health issues apparently begin in the mouth and end in the gut.

    The take out sandwiches you shared with your lady sounds like a promising meal. It is nice to have favourite places to enjoy. When things get rough for me, I tend to enjoy sticking to the familiar and comfortable routines. That works for me. Talk of yummy treats sounds thoroughly intriguing.

    Thanks, and unbidden words can sometimes soothe weary souls.

    I now realise that it was Al who mentioned Cesar Milan, but Cesar’s cameo in a brief cartoon skit seemed somehow appropriate since you mentioned grabbing a dogs snout: Cartman Meets the Dog Whisperer.

    All that winter snow is good news for the snow pack in the mountains – and even better news for your coming summer. Big Bertha is good when it works, like most machines are, but when they don’t it becomes a real drama. But glad to see you got the machine working in no time at all. Actually fault finding with machines is a real skill which is under rated and I reckon it can only be done when a full understanding of the machine is held. I dread finding the intermittent fault with any system here – and it is one of the reasons I keep the systems as simple as possible. That’s a real show stopper of a problem. The low centre of gravity mower has one of those types of problems. It’s booked in at the farm machine repair place, but I dunno.



  55. Hi Lewis,

    Happy New Year to you! And yes, it is possible that this year might be better than the year just completed.

    Good stuff, and both aspirin and vitamins are under rated. Like a lot of things I feel that prevention is better than a cure.

    I read the Sermon on the Mount and a few derivative/alternative sections. Yes, I agree it is very straightforward and to the point. What I noted was that the requirements allowed little prevaricating, and as a more general note the standards required were very high indeed – and I can’t speak for others, but some of the sections would be beyond me. Dunno, but I suspect a mixture of humility, dedication and fearlessness would be required from such a credo. A rare combination in a person.

    On the other hand blood sacrifices to the rock gods. Well that I did yesterday, and was glad to have had only minor injuries. The Roman’s used to add blood to their concrete I read just the other day. Something to do with frost protection. I woke up in the middle of the night this morning reliving that fall and then pondering it. The situation reminded me of the time I gave up long distance running when first I had trouble with the knees. In that sport you come across a lot of folks who’d continued the sport long after they should have retired from it, and do you need to wonder whether you might be an exception to that experience?

    So, I cogitated upon the problem in the dark hours, and considered the implications for Peak Rocks – which is real by the way. The current ramp project requires many large rocks and I can see them, but not move them. A decision was made, and earlier today I experimented drilling and fracking large rocks into smaller and more manageable rock sizes. Turned three large rocks into six smaller rocks in only about two hours. I’m very pleased with this fracking process as it has pushed back Peak Rocks.

    The fall worried me more than harmed me. It was a wake up call to be more careful in future.

    February is a good time to divide up your garden spaces. Not much will be going on then and it is probably your coldest month (at a guess). The bones of the garden can be easily seen at that time of year.

    Hehe! I delved deep into the Game of Thrones books, but truth to tell, my mind often enjoyed the words and scenes whilst the finer details of the plot were a bit skipped over. Beware ever encountering an enthusiast…

    We do like to do things in our own style. And who would have thought that the chain of volcanoes down here was even that epic in scale? The volcanic plug at the middle and highest point in the mountain range here is known as The Camels Hump if only because that is what it looks like from a distance.

    Pah! The promised storm has not arrived. Phooey to that! Other parts of the state are enjoying flash flooding, and here – nothing. Not even the occasional desultory drop of rain. Never before seen so much ado about nothing.

    I’m with you. I’ve heard people describe their love for the desert and the wide open blue skies, but I just don’t understand it at all. Every time I’ve been in the desert I wanted to get back to more temperate climes.

    You’ve got a reasonable firewood policy. As a contrast, the firewood policy down here is a bit uptight. But I do recall mentioning to you that last year unknown people were scrounging dead and fallen branches from the roadsides for use as firewood during the winter months. Furtive is a good way to describe their actions – and I’ve never encountered one person that used their brains in that situation. It’s not hard, but it is their problem really, and not mine to solve.

    The list was mysterious as to its workings, and it is there. My thinking is not to annoy the suppliers and maintain a long term relationship.

    You know I can’t recall consuming corn bread. Well, I never – corn bread looks like a banana cake to my eyes. Oh yes, the honey drizzle sounds like just the thing for corn bread. I see that it is popular in areas where wheat flour is expensive by comparison. Yummo and thanks for the first hand experience as to the taste.

    Why not indeed, and if we constrained ourselves to only what we knew, well what a boring old world it would be. The cultural appropriation concern is a bit like finding something to beat other people with. I’m not into it, because sometimes say just for example, the land itself dictates the culture – thus trying to shoe horn another culture into that land is an inappropriate response – the land will win at the end of the day. Better to accept the realities of the land, is how I see it. And in times of change it is often a wise course of action to observe a number of responses and see which fits the realities best. Take the Sermon On The Mount for example – Jesus had some issues with divorcees, and I respect his point of view, but politely disagree. Obviously I’m going way down to hell because of that, but there were some other ideas presented for better living which he espoused and I did agree with, such as the Golden Rule. Is this therefore an act of cultural appropriation?

    I’ve read a work by John Kenneth Galbraith and he comes across as an eminently sensible person. And any company with the name Byggnads might not realise what that means in the English language. It’s a hoot! Even without the pirates parrot I’m giggling to myself.

    Thanks for the pirate article – and they’re a fascinating bunch, who were officially used and then turned upon. I hadn’t known much about their history before you began mentioning them.

    H is made of tough stuff. The fluffies here would be cracking the sads at any fireworks explosions – which are frankly banned down here due to the fire risk. Glad the explosions and noise didn’t go on to all hours of the morning for you like previous New Year’s celebrations.



  56. Yo, Chris – All this talk of manglers. 🙂 . Stephen King wrote a short story, called, “The Mangler.”

    It’s in his collection, “Night Shift.” It was turned into a movie, which I saw long, long ago. Something about a giant Queen mother rat … Oh, dear. I see there were two sequels (who knew?). I suppose it was a situation like “Children of the Corn.” Back before he had a lot of clout, he not only sold rights, but also “concept.” Speaking of which, I saw an article where a lot of “rights,” as in copyrights are moving into public domain this year.

    I’ve been following the dog training conversation. Luckily, H requires no training, pretty much. Don’t think the nose grab would work with her. Due to her lineage, she doesn’t have much of a nose.

    Oh, I think the “Sermon on the Mount” is pretty much aspirational. Few could measure up to Big J. Something to strive for, but, being human … well … “Many are called but few are chosen.” 🙂 .

    Here, we add the occasional labor union leader to the concrete mix. (See: Jimmy Hoffa.) 🙂 .

    Turning big rocks into little rocks. Hmmm. Sounds like a stretch in the pen.

    Well, weather. Take a look at Prof. Mass, this morning …

    The colors, the colors … Ooops! Having a bit of a flashback, there. 🙂 . But, it looks like we’re in for it, today and tomorrow. The wind is already moaning in the elevator shaft, here at the Institution. Which is pretty much right outside my door, and across the hall. I can hear the rain, tap, tap, tapping up the stove hood. The flood this time? We haven’t had one, in awhile.

    I spiked my cornbread with a bit of frozen corn, and some sunflower and pumpkin seeds. Not that unusual, as far as recipes go. Some people add bits of peppers, to give it a Southwest twist. Cornbread is particularly good with chili.

    Speaking of food appropriation. I read a bit more of “The Best American Food Writing, 2020.” There was an interesting article, “The Demand for “Authenticity” is Threatening Kansas City’s Homegrown Tacos.” (Ralat). Apparently, there’s an on-line mafia of authenticity enforcers (probably a sub-genre of the SJW, brigade), who dis any restaurant that steps outside some rigid hallucination of authenticity. But more people are saying, “Enough!”

    We’ll use Mexican food, as an example. Now, Mexico has many regional cuisines. People from different parts of Mexico, moved to different parts of the US. They brought their own “style” of cooking. They also frequently had to adapt to local ingredients, and, to stay in business, sometimes tailor tradition, to local tastes. Such as, maybe dialing down the heat a bit. A couple of years ago, I read the book “Taco, USA,” which discussed how you may find “Border Mexican Cuisine” (Tex Mex) and also Southwest and California. And it’s been long enough that the food evolves, over time.

    But there’s this posse of people who have self anointed themselves as gatekeepers of the “authentic.” What’s interesting is, mostly, they have no ancestral roots in whatever cuisine they are “guarding.” People with too much time on their hands, more interested in power and control than in the most important question: Does it taste good?

    Chinese food has the same problem. Almost any ethnic tradition of cooking that washes up on these shores, does too. LOL. So, I set off on my New Year’s Day lucky foods adventure. Everything turned out, pretty well. But, the “greens” part? Well, your supposed to use collard greens (I think.) But, I didn’t have any collards laying around. But I had some spinach. Which I sprinkled with some sunflower seeds and a splash of soy sauce. Authentic? No. Did it taste good? Yes. Lew

  57. Hi Chris,
    Doug always tries to overwinter hives but usually has very little luck due to a variety of issues. His four hives went into the winter very strong but we’ll see. Yesterday we had a bit of a snow/ice storm so he went out this morning to check if the hive entrances were blocked by ice. Quite a few dead bees on the ground in front of the hives.

    Bill and Kathy don’t miss the retirement home at all. They still have a low income senior apartment complex – not big maybe 18 units. That keeps them busy enough. They are both 70 so were ready to slow down. They both also have quite a few health issues so are keeping a pretty low profile.

    We did have a nice New Year’s and we even made it to midnight.

    Gwen was able to come by Marty’s apartment with a gift but other than that she hasn’t been allowed to stay with him. He said it’ll be June at the earliest. Normally she stays with him for 2 weeks at the holiday. They’ve only met in person three times since last March – the recent visit and two times when Marty visited with her on the porch of her group home which is just a couple of blocks from his dentist so he stopped by after an appointment. They do talk every day.


  58. Hi Margaret,

    We’ve been discussing over wintering for years, and sometimes a hive of mine dies too during that period for no discernible reason. One of the hives has a thick Perspex viewing window and I can see what is going on without opening, and it is sad to watch a colony slowly reduce in bee numbers. But dead bees out the front of the hive is usually not a bad sign, as generally my lot are just doing housekeeping when the time is just right for them to do so. With thousands of bees there are going to be deaths. Often the birds clean up the dead bees. It’s like a free winter snack for the magpies. But that sort of snow and ice is way beyond my experience. Good luck and keep the fires stoked. 🙂

    By that age most people I’ve observed are slowing down, and I often wonder why your political leaders are so old – that isn’t a thing down here. I doubt I’d be up to the sort of things I do around here now by that age – but then hopefully the infrastructure is all in place and well tested by then. And absolutely, if they are in a high risk group, keeping a low profile is a wise idea, sorry to say.

    Respect for your New Year’s efforts – and I’m soft as we were in bed asleep well before midnight! Hehe! Actually with the ban on interstate travel here, we’ve had a huge volume of visitors in the past fortnight. It’s been really nice and I love showing people around – the grand tour, so to speak. It’s been quite social, but people don’t seem like they are in the party mood down here. There was a story about a couple of mates who camped out on the wrong side of the state border out of contact: Victorians on wrong side of coronavirus hard border with NSW face anxious waits for information. How could a camping trip go so wrong… Sounds like the plot of a horror movie, don’t you reckon?

    So sorry to hear of Marty’s and Gwen’s forced separation due to the health subject which dare not be named – I’m guessing. Good to hear that they can still talk each day. Crazy days.



  59. Hi Lewis,

    Had some friends up to visit the farm yesterday, and when on the grand tour (I like the sound of that!), a juvenile King Parrot landed on one of the nearby trees and just observed us humans. I know the bird was asking for assistance with something due to the way it was attempting to attract our attention, but you can’t rise to every challenge. And at the end of the tour there was the freshly baked Pavlova with berries fresh from the garden. The Crimson Rosellas are the dominant parrot – how many parrots can one person deal with?

    Plum caught and killed a rat today. Such a good dog. It is possible I’ll have to construct and deploy specifically designed breeding boxes for the Boobok Owls so that they clean up the rabbit population. In addition to that I’ve been looking at how to snare rabbits and may set a trap or two. One warren exit leads into the garden terraces…

    In the normally arid inland of the continent, the La Nina rains have brought with them a booming population of local birds: Budgies, buttonquails, and other inland birds booming after drought and fire left them barely hanging on. This here old continent is one of boom and bust, and the busts can be epic, but when the boom cycle is in play, far out it’s good.

    Speaking of which, had half an inch of rain in about ten minutes this morning. Had to grab the umbrella and keep the water inlet filters on the water tanks clean. Didn’t get too wet in the process. Last evening I stood out in the forest and challenged the weather gods by way of saying: Mate, I urinate more than the tropical storms have delivered here in the past week. And the weather gods took up the challenge this morning. Glad they waited until the morning thunder claps tolled and woke me, as I had a chance to sleep in. Very thoughtful of them.

    A very good friend of mine works in an industrial laundry, although candidly I’m unsure what he does there. I’ll mention the Mangler story to him. I get the impression that the workforce there often employs migrant labour. Interestingly, he has remarked that due to the health subject which dares not be named, the business volume has decreased significantly – think hotel laundry requirements.

    Yes, I noted the two sequels involving the actor who played Freddy Krueger – who can forget that slasher fest? Believe it or not, in the hippy dippy school I attended, the media studies subject involved watching a lot of teen horror / slasher films. I’m not sure what the point of that was, but anyway some parent finally complained – and the other students blamed me. I never ratted out the subject matter if only because my mother wasn’t interested in the slightest. Unfortunately after that complaint the teachers had to dial it down a little. I wonder what they thought we’d learn from watching slasher films? Best not think about it too much. I often joke to people that I was subject to government experiments as a kid, except that I’m not joking. The thing is, they don’t know that they are also being subjected to as such. Maybe that was the point of it all? Beats me.

    Copyright exclusivity for 95 years seems way too long for my gut feeling. There must be middle ground in there somewhere – what do you reckon about that subject? Maybe a sequel could be penned of Holden Caulfield where his incessant whining left him bereft on the streets living in a tent under the shelter of a bridge? Of course he may also have become a merchant banker – whatever they do…

    Hehe! Yes, I too have known snub nosed dogs and H is of a similar genetic heritage to the sadly missed Sir Poopy. It is a tough ask to grab the nose of such a canine, although Sir Poopy enjoyed having his snout grabbed. My mate who died last year once remarked to me that Pug dogs possibly originated because one day a dog was looking into the sky, when out of the blue a container fell onto its head – and the dog survived the incident, only to produce the Pug dog. You see what I have to deal with here? Hehe! Hey, what was the old joke about having trouble smelling – and then how do they then smell – terrible! Apologies, you have now entered the bad joke zone. And you started it with that joke about H’s nose. 🙂

    Thanks, and you confirmed my darkest fears: All but the Big J are going down, way, way down. Best to find some other more easier to get along with mates – no disrespect to the Big J, but I just can’t measure up.

    You’ve mentioned Jimmy Hoffa before. Have you been following the disappearing Jack Ma story? If this next link is in the news down here, I reckon he’s been thrown to the wolves, and there may be good reasons for that: Former Huawei employee speaks out on Shenzhen’s ‘996’ culture as Chinese city enforces paid leave. I’ve worked in some exploitative cultures, but if that story is true, what I experienced ain’t nothin’.

    The good Professor is rarely prone to exaggerate. How did it work out? It sounds alarming. Flashbacks can be a problem. 🙂 Yes, sometimes the past should stay buried in thick cloud. Good luck and we all have our own path to travel. Hehe!

    You know, I’m going to try cornbread soon and see what it is all about.

    Years ago I had a minor drama with a person leaving negative feedback on the interweb. The foolish person was tracked down after a bit of effort, and I then deleted most interweb advertising as a bad joke. Haven’t had any work from that source anyway – except for one notable exception and that was originally from another source anyway. But here’s the thing, those ‘Authenticity’ folks who are strong on keyboard skills, but maybe lacking in interpersonal skills – are a pain in the rear for actual businesses. From discussions around the place with business owners and staff who have to front the public, such reviews are not as well believed as they once were. People can over-do anonymous and nefarious acts – and then there is a back lash.

    The other thing that I noticed is that the foolish ‘Authenticity’ folks may be inadvertently attempting to homogenise food. It is interesting to me because when I was reading ‘Victorian Farm’ earlier today the authors were discussing that in those days most areas had tools which were appropriate to use in that particular geographical location and the example they gave was the ‘Bill Hook’. All seemed fair enough to me as the trees here are different from the trees 20 miles away and their tools wouldn’t be appropriate.

    It got me thinking though, and it also resolved a long held problem for me. When first we moved here we asked around the local farmers as to what they’d do in this area and how they’d structure a farm – traditionally the area was used for timber, potatoes and berries. And nobody had any idea – that was because they were farming in valleys and river flats. So obvious in hindsight – nobody knows. But we’re sure learning fast.



  60. @ Lew:

    Oh, Lew – I about fell off my chair. Thanks!

    “I’ve been following the dog training conversation. Luckily, H requires no training, pretty much. Don’t think the nose grab would work with her. Due to her lineage, she doesn’t have much of a nose.”


  61. Good evening

    Just a quick one: there is an excellent Youtube video on hedge laying , featuring a tough old timer with a bill hook, and his eager ‘Land Girl’ apprentice – I imagine there were similar schemes for female labour in the US and Australia too?

    Just type ‘Hedgecutting 1942’. Really one of the classics.

    It was a rather nasty job on raw winter days, but much to be preferred to ditch dredging and re-cutting…..

    All the best

  62. Yo, Chris – The Grand Tour of the farm sounds like a lot of fun. I’m sure “a good time was had by all.” Maybe the parrot is a new kind of chugger? 🙂 . Did it look all sad and depressed, and have a little tin cup, out?

    Go, Plum! Rats are one thing, but rabbits are another. You don’t need Flopsie, Mopsie, and Peter treating the terrace garden like one big buffet.

    The article on birds was really something. Do you get any Budgies, on the farm? Every time I go to the garden store (which has a pet section) I am sorely tempted by the Budgies. So, colorful. I really like the black and white ones. And, the one’s that are electric blue and white.

    Don’t poke the weather gods. You may get more than you expect. 🙂 . Well, we had a bit of weather. It poured, all day yesterday. Every time I took H out, I had to resort to towels, to get us both dry. And, then it cleared up in the evening. Still pretty clear, today. But, we’ll hit it again, tonight. Can’t tell you how much it rained, as, the local weather station, besides losing it’s temperature gage, has now apparently lost it’s rain gage. 🙁 . It was pretty eerie around here, yesterday. Other than Eleanor, late in the evening, I did not run across another human being, all day. Kind of nice, actually. 🙂 .

    Several of our rivers are at, or slightly above flood stage. The Newaukum, Skookumchuck and Chehalis. So far, some roads closed and extensive field flooding. But no real property damage, so far.

    Why would a teacher show slasher films, to teenagers? Maybe working out some deeply (or not so deeply) buried hostilities, to you little blighters? Well, better that (I suppose) than offing the bunch of you. Sublimation is sometimes under rated.

    Well, with a lot of hot properties, there’s still a family or estate milking the sales. To have the tap turned off … well, they’ll have to make other arrangements, won’t they? You know, George Romero made hardly a dime off of the original “Night of the Living Dead.” Someone forgot to put the “©” on early copies of the film. The film “It’s a Wonderful Life” (which is done to death, every Christmas) did poorly, when first released. So, the Studio never got around to renewing the copyright. And, now it’s in the public domaine, and anyone can show it, anywhere. So now I can happily print “Great Gatsby” beach towels, and not worry about a lawyer coming after me, with his hand out.

    Confirmed your darkest fears. Well, that wasn’t my intent, at all. I think there’s a lot of wiggle room. Some of the Inmates think I’m consigned to hell, as I belong to no organized “church.” I get the feeling, any church would do. They’re rather nonplussed when I firmly state that I don’t think that will be an issue, when I shuffle off to … where ever.

    Jack Ma? I saw a headline, or two, but as I don’t know Mr. Ma, paid it no attention. The story from The Land of Stuff, was pretty interesting. The Land of the Rising Sun had the same problems, with their Salarymen, a few years back. When I was a manager for B. Dalton, and on a salary, the hours were just insane. I finally learned to work a bit down the totem pole, where I was paid hourly. In for 40 hours a week, and out. There are nooks and crannies of American business, where they expect you to be on call, 24/7/365. My advice to people caught up in that toxic environment is go out and get another job. It is not necessary. Sometimes, it takes a bit of age to catch onto that.

    Well, on-line reviews. At E Buy, I used to see sellers freaking out, when they got one negative review. Out of maybe hundreds. Maybe it’s because I worked retail, but I’ve never worried about a few stray negative feedbacks. I know there are a lot of nuts, fruits and whack-jobs, out there. When I buy, a seller who has anything over 95% positive feedback, is ok in my book. Unless they’ve sold very little, so far. I think a little bit more, on those.

    Farming on a hillside. Just have to be a pioneer, don’t you? 🙂 . I’d say, if you were in Italy, you’d have gotten lots of advice.

    The answers are out there!

    I became aware of the book, a couple of months ago. And, found it on the new list, at the library. So, I should get it, toward the end of the month. I don’t know what’s up with the library. No new list, last week or this. Holidays? Selectors on vacation? Did they run out of money, at the end of the year?

    I put up 5 bags of the cabbage soup, in the freezer. A bed of rice, some frozen veg, and the soup on top. Makes a good meal. Lew

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