Media Release: CBF

Date: Sunday, 10th January 2021

Executive Summary: In preparation for the coming winter, firewood stocks are currently being replenished. Investors will of course, enjoy the continued dividends now and into the future. Over the past twelve months of operations, the directors of the Cherokee Bank of Firewood (CBF) have taken further and serious steps towards sustainability. Best practices are being employed, and new and innovative methods of resource recovery are being employed. Demand from investors and deposit holders has continued to remain strong, and the business looks forward to a good future in 2021.

Details: The demand for firewood remains strong in 2021, despite recent geopolitical setbacks and turmoil in other markets. Recent focus group surveys have been utilised to provide excellent feedback as to the state of the business. The Cherokee Bank of Firewood (hereto known as the CBF) has been rated 8.3 out of 10 for customer satisfaction when compared to competitors. The directors of the CBF believe this to be an outstanding result.

The predominate basis for the most excellent focus group result was that the CBF branches were stacked with resources sourced from the local area. Resources were also ready to hand for deposit holders when conditions required. It was of note that one naysayer/non-stakeholder during the focus group sessions suggested that if local resources were used then eventually there would be no local resources. The directors of the CBF noted that this naysayer/non-stakeholder appears to be enjoying resources from the land of ‘elsewhere’ and had not taken note of the many detailed sustainability policies of the business. The CBF has no license in which to operate in the area of elsewhere, where rumour has it that unicorns roam. The directors have casually dismissed the opinion out of hand.

An official perspective was also aired at an earlier time, which suggested that CBF branches should be stacked with resources sourced from the land of elsewhere. It is apparently a common misconception in the populace. The directors of the CBF noted that the official perspective was merely an opinion and carried no legal weight. Fortunately the operations of the business could continue unabated and the contingent liabilities for future legal challenges has been diminished as a result.

Throughout the long and established history of the business, CBF has sought to recover resources so as to benefit all stakeholders. Innovation has been at the very heart of this policy. The CBF is willing to employ new technologies and leading edge techniques in order to recover the maximum possible resources. This driving force has and will continue to benefit both investors and deposit holders, both now and in the years to come.

Of major note, in the past years operations, the CBF business has employed the ‘Tree Dudes’ contractors to good effect. Firewood resources which have stood undisturbed for a dozen years or more have now been able to be recovered. And newer technology has been used to good effect to replace the older technologies comprising the Dirt Rat Suzuki and bright yellow trailer.

Newer technologies are being employed to harvest old firewood resources

Recovery of the undisturbed resources it should be noted has not been without its challenges. This is despite the use of new technologies and increased efficiencies which are only guaranteed to deliver stronger returns to shareholders and deposit holders in the future.

Firewood was delivered directly to the branch utilising the latest in technology. Plum the trusty employee appears to be observing a disturbance in the garden bed

Earlier in the activities, there were unconfirmed reports that some residents were dislocated by the operations of the business. The directors of the CBF can confirm that despite these unconfirmed reports, the operations activities have produced only a net positive outcome in relation to the supply of local housing.

A skink enjoys the benefits of plentiful housing in the local branch of the CBF

It has been noted elsewhere in the media that an employee of the CBF, Plum the sheep dog, suggested that this view was not true. Plum’s imprecations to management and her preliminary investigations (refer to the above photo), suggested that this was actually not the case. Of course the matter was handled according to Human Resources best practice guidelines, and was referred to the most senior employee: Ollie, the Bull Arab.

Upon investigating the matter, Ollie discovered that an Eastern Brown snake (only the second deadliest in the world), was trying to extort resources from the CBF. Ollie wisely referred the matter to the authorities, who dealt with the matter firmly and immediately. Rest assured that the directors of the CBF take their duties seriously, and they will not be extorted of the businesses resources.

The annual report would not be complete without further mentioning that there were also other unconfirmed media reports that the local union of bull ants, chapter 438,637 have lodged a complaint with the courts due to potential planning matters. The directors of the CBF have sought legal advice in relation to this matter and now believe the outcome to be of little to no consequence. No provision in the financial accounts has been made for any potential settlement in relation to this matter.

A bull ant at a recent operations site

The directors and employees at the CBF are committed to continuing operations during 2021 for the benefit of investors, deposit holders and also other stakeholders. We thank you for your support to date and look forward to your continued support during this coming year. And we the directors believe that 2021 will produce an even better result than the year just passed.

The local branch of the CBF continues to be stacked

The weather this week has swung between winter like conditions where the rain has fallen continually for more than a 24 hours period, to true summer like heat. At least the sun sets have been spectacular (when there are no thick clouds hanging over the farm).

The sun sets far to the west on a hot summers day

The farm is full of wildlife. At nights wallabies (a smaller forest kangaroo) enjoy the orchards. Sometimes having wallabies in an orchard is hard on the fruit trees, because they can pull a weak tree over. Doing such a dastardly act on a fruit tree allows a wallaby to munch upon the juicy leaves of the tree. And one apple tree in particular had been worked upon by the wallabies for a few years.

Wallabies have been pulling this apple tree over so as to access the leaves. Ollie is unimpressed

We spent an hour or so pulling the tree upright and pruning it so that it is weighted correctly. The branches pruned were chipped up and added back to the soil around the tree as they’d be almost perfect feed. The tree was then staked and tied up, but it did stay vertically of its own accord.

The branches pruned from the apple tree were chipped and fed to the soil as mulch

The storm earlier in the week, which produced the rain and wind, managed to be the final straw for a Black Locust tree near to the strawberry enclosure. This was the third time that the tree had been weakened, and so I cut the tree out. Black Locust trees and branches have to be handled very carefully due to the huge and wickedly sharp thorns.

A Black Locust tree was damaged for the third time and has now been removed

Before Christmas we obtained a couple of second hand timber cabinets. The units were made in 2003 and they are hardwood and are notable in that any of the four draws can be placed in any order because they are exactly the same dimensions. These sturdily and locally made units have now been stripped back to raw timber – which bizarrely is the same timber species that dominates the forests here. Over the next week or so they will be coated with semi-gloss Tung Oil finish.

The two second hand cabinets purchased last year have been stripped back to raw timber

In the early part of last year, the nice electricity company supplied us with 15 cubic metres (19.5 cubic yards) of chipped up organic matter. That organic matter has mostly been utilised around the property. However, it was so handy having a huge supply of the stuff ready to hand, that we organised a delivery from the nearby garden supply business. The organic matter delivered was a 9:1 ratio of composted woody mulch and compost.

Ruby approves of the huge pile of organic matter ready for use. Yum!

There is a huge amount of wildlife living on the farm. Regular readers will note that whilst I have a free and generous hand with the various critters, I have some limits. A pesky rabbit has somehow managed to tunnel into the vegetable garden terraces. Yes, that is definitely a career limiting move for the rabbit, and in the past week I set out a snare in the hope that I capture the rabbit before it invites (or more likely creates) more of its mates. I’ve never constructed a snare before and so far it doesn’t seem to be working.

A rabbit warren exit inside the vegetable terrace

Summer produce update:

The summer so far has been cold and damp, and these are candidly not good growing conditions. However, there is plenty of water in the soil and the water tanks are full. Both are things to be grateful for.

The earliest and fastest growing zucchini (courgette) looks as though it may bear some fruit soon.

This zucchini (courgette) flower looks promising

When conditions are good and there are plenty of flowers, we stuff those flowers and then roast them. They are very tasty, but with this sort of year we have to leave the plants alone to produce fruit and seeds for next season.

Thanks to the recently completed greenhouse, we have a good supply of tomato plants in the ground and growing. Next year we may attempt to raise all seedlings in the greenhouse. This week, the tomato plants have begun to produce flowers.

The tomato plants have responded to the wet but warming weather with flowers

There are heaps of insects on the farm. The European honey bees do very well here, but there are also plenty of varieties of native wasps and bees which perform pollination functions.

European honey bees compete with native pollinators for nectar and pollen

The flowers also attract the many butterflies which flutter around the garden and vegetable beds.

A butterfly enjoys the many flowers in this bed of leafy green mustard plants

Onto the flowers:

Comfrey grows well in the garden beds
Geraniums form the backbone of the garden beds
Hundreds of Agapanthus flowers keep the bees happy and fed over the hottest days
This mauve Rose is a real stunner
With dozens of Lavender plants, they have begun to self seed and reproduce

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 21’C (70’F). So far this year there has been 73.6mm (2.9 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 1.6mm (0.1 inches).

60 thoughts on “Media Release: CBF”

  1. Hi Chris,

    Thank you for the CBF report. The firewood bank around her, FBSL, has yet to experience any withdrawals. This is because the electricity has stayed on and the temperatures have stayed near average or a little warmer than average. Plus the directors of FBSL have been distracted with other matters, in particular the human resources director, thus the environmental resource manager has not received instructions to build a fire. Said human resources director has issued a memo to the environmental resource manager to cut and split more of the logs lying about in various locations; action has been promised for this week after the stratus layer that has kept the weather gray and seasonably cold for most of the past few weeks clears out. When the first fire of the winter will be lit remains a matter of speculation, to be decided by consultation, or perhaps by the electricity going out due to winter weather.

    The human resources director issued a memo to the head cook last week to prepare elderberry mead from the frozen elderberries that were harvested the previous summer and honey purchased from local producers. We are pleased to announce that this action has been taken and the odor of alcohol can be detected in the laboratory/kitchen. We look forward to the bottling of the wines produced in 2020 later this year.

    Your farm looks so warm and green … as this one will in six months. Actually, 70F at 9am would be rather cool for us on a sunny morning in July. By then the temperature on a sunny day is usually well into the 70s, and not uncommonly 80F or above.


  2. Hi Chris,

    Kudos to the marketing team when deciding the bank’s name, a lovely acronym that describes my feeling for going back to work last week! Spare a thought for the poor buggers who decide product names for global companies. Somewhere, in some language, whatever name you pick is going to be an unfortunate swear word, local insult or piece of anatomy!

    Fun movie suggestion for those who enjoy Horror/Comedy/Gore -> “Freaky” starring Vince Vaughn. It is a version of body-swap comedies, but this time a high school girl swaps bodies with a 40-year old male serial killer. Came out last year, might be on DVD soon. Not as good as Shaun of the Dead, but then what is!


  3. Hi Goran,

    Glad to read that you enjoyed the book. And yes, the optimistic statements combined with the meetings for the sake of the pretence of the meetings (as if something of great import was being discussed), was really something else. Who’d have thought that sort of thing went on? The lessons were stark. Managed funds were dissected and the look was not flattering.

    Yes, I tend to agree that inflationary pressures are the most likely – and inflating the prices of certain economic products such as houses, property, equities (shares) and bonds – is the very definition of inflation. Deflationary talk was always something of a distraction technique because how can you have deflation when the money supply is expanding – that deflationary possibility in those circumstances makes no sense.

    Goran, please lead me not into temptation! Oh no! My brain is wired in such a way that a 90+ page PDF file is beyond me. This is of course a serious personal limitation – and I generally read that length text when it is in paper form (i.e. a book). In this case, I will take your word for the French historical economic effects as the facts in this case, speak for themselves (that goes for the historic German situation as well).

    I’m really not sure, but it is possible that a strong man leader will eventually rise to the top of the pile. In uncertain times, I’ve noticed that people tend to seek surety over personal liberties.

    I don’t believe that you are missing anything – and these questions are of interest to me too. It is possible that interest rates can’t be lifted due to the negative feedback loop inherent in that story. At low interest rates, money for gubarments is almost free – they can’t lose, until they do.

    Resource bottlenecks are already happening – that’s been the case since the 1970’s. Things are ratcheting up a bit though of late, but there is still a lot of stuff and energy floating around – especially relative to historical norms for the average person.

    Ah, good stuff. What kind of trees are you grafting? And onto what rootstocks?



  4. Hi Claire,

    The directors of the CBF send cordial greetings to their brethren at the FBSL. And the directors of the CBF look on with envy as due to the extreme weather earlier in the past week, there were a few withdrawals by the deposit holders. Capital obligations have been adjusted accordingly, but still, it is noted that the FBSL is controlled by steady hands.

    Rumour has it that the Human Resources director has had a rough time of it lately, and such trying circumstances is when the Environmental Resources Manager has to step up to the plate and assist by making resource allocation projects simpler and keeping the environment warmer and calmer than it otherwise might be.

    The CBF by contrast procures and stores deposits during the warmer months, although candidly that policy is driven by an underlying element of sympathy for the steel sheet constructions that house the infernos. Resources with high moisture contents tend to de-laminate steel sheet these days – and in the old days of cast iron, never was it thus. Yet the directors also note that the steel worm burrows and consumes regardless day and night, and the conclusion to the annual report may have mentioned that all returns to the soil, eventually.

    Claire, it is a surprise to me that the early stages of Elderberry can smell quite, err, distinctive, and yet the eventual product is astounding. Hope the mead works out well. We produce a very tasty elderflower wine, and the berries are a gift to the birds – who all work hard here.

    The Steve Solomon book turned up in the mail this morning, and I’m looking forward to reading it.

    Hehe! Do you know that was a hot morning for us? If you had not pointed out the differences between the daytime and night-time temperatures here, I would not have considered how they both play into a sometimes short and brief growing season. Thank you for sharing the observation.



  5. Hi Damo,

    Hehe! Kudos for you for getting my little joke. 😉 It might be an Aussie acronym to denote the feelings of not being bothered by something that otherwise needs doing? I see that our American friends have an entirely different definition – that’ll confuse them for sure. Oh well, moving on and lost in translation and all that stuff. 🙂

    Hey, did you ever by chance notice the cheeky scamps with their number plates? South Australia appears to be something of a hot spot for that gear: Car with ‘COVID 19’ number plate was spotted on road in March, Adelaide motorist says.

    Mate, I’m fending off people left, right and centre, and have been contacted by clients most days. It is not easy to duck and weave, but I’m getting practiced at it – but yeah soon the holiday spirit will be done. Back to the grindstone again… That may be what is known as old school spirit? Yeah, not much sympathy for you and Mrs Damo though. I mean think about all the holidays you took whilst in quarantine? 🙂 Far out, run Chris, run!!!! Hehe!

    Thanks for the film review and that definitely needs to be added to the ‘to see’ list. Vince Vaughan is a great actor, and the premise looks fun. Lewis mentioned the film Love and Monsters and that looks like a bunch of fun as well.



  6. Hi, Chris!

    Perfect, Chris – just perfect. And so funny. Your penmanship has never been better. We are drawing heavily on our Savings Account right now. Luckily, deposits are also frequently made.

    One of our deposits awhile back was a cut-up black locust tree that had been dead for some time. That wood burned quite differently. In fact, if I remember correctly, it burned a long time, but did not seem to put out that much heat.

    Goodness, I don’t remember that mulch pile being so large, and you’ve probably made withdrawals, too.

    I was reading about tomatoes yesterday and it said that they won’t set fruit if it gets hotter than 86F (30C), so maybe your cooler summer will not be so bad for them.


  7. Hi Lewis,

    Mate they get you in lots of little ways that don’t quite stop the show, but they do kind of make things inconvenient enough so that you have to abandon the tried and true – for the dark abyss that is the unknown. Good luck, and I’m dodging that story as well. Hang in there, but don’t take one for the team – that would be a bad thing as I for one would miss our badinage.

    You guys still use cheques (checks in US parlance)? The only time those are used down here now are with Bank Cheques, and the bank charges like a $15 fee per cheque (from memory – I could be wrong). I’m not even sure that banks issue out cheque books for account holders these days. They might not, as it’s been a while since I’ve seen them. Some of the phone call payment systems leave you speaking with robots, and they do work, but it is a bit eerie speaking with a robot. Anyway, you never know when they’ll turn on you like say the fictional Terminator – or get stuck in the dreaded never ending transfer loop. I’ve always enjoyed the final line of the original film: A storms coming. Yeah, tell me about it.

    But mailing in a cheque these days in order to pay a bill, is a very difficult proposition – and some banks are closing branches and so trying to deposit a cheque is a problem. ATM’s can suck in deposits, but what happens when they go wrong is a fascinating question. At least a teller gets to eyeball a cheque prior to the banks systems absorbing it.

    Hehe! Well now you know what startled me. And I’ve cogitated upon the problem ever since that moment. What caused things to be different this year that such a slithery visitor arrived at the farm? I usually go out of my way to ensure that the place is not a desirable habitat for the reptiles. Turns out that it was my fault. This year I’d been picking up the dog poop and putting it in the worm farm. This was done to reduce the number of common house flies lurking around the farm. However, the dogs capacity for marking out their territories has been reduced. So as of this morning, I’ve been chucking their poop into the gardens near the most likely spots that the slithery folk might end up. Of course nothing is guaranteed, but usually the birds dine upon the juvenile snakes – and I’ve seen a Kookaburra kill and consume a snake. It’s early days, and hopefully those critters aren’t part of the story here as I’m not sure how the dogs and the editor I will come to terms with that. Do they really need to be quite that deadly?

    Ah, that shoe company. Well let’s just say that I am not a customer of such products. And it hardly surprises me that when all is said and done, and structures implode – we return to a Feudal based system – because most arrangements are publicly known and accepted and there is little hierarchical structure for people to hide behind – even if the structures are not fair. And the lord of the land has to worry about not being taken out physically by a disgruntled peasant who has been backed into an awful corner due to over extraction.

    What interests me is that the stuff from the big grocery tastes odd to my palate, although candidly this fault may lay with me. And adherents have this sort of strange fervour to their eyes and conversation whenever the subject arises. All up it gives me the ooks. Reminds me of the old joke about the Persian rug seller: Don’t worry about the quality, feel the width… The other grocers in town have been upgrading of late – an expensive business. A month or so back when in the local shop, I nudged the editor and quietly pointed out the empty shelves. Mate, I was so busted. The owner cornered me and briefly explained that they were replacing their refrigerated display units, before promptly walking off. He was good to his word too. Oh well, that’s what being wrong looks like. 🙂

    But yeah, the job story is always the one that is sold. The problem is though, if revenue is funnelled off from the local area to low tax destinations, well how does that serve the local populations interests? It would possibly be easier if the locals just wrote out a cheque in the first place. If they could even find a cheque that is.

    Not all large companies indulge in profit shifting activities. It’s a choice at the end of the day. Such activities are hardly an option for small to medium enterprises due to the fees to administer them – and the low tax country usually wants something for incurring the ire of other countries – and that is usually employment for their locals and maintaining offices (from anecdotal accounts which I’ve heard).

    Hehe! Yup we all need some lad-ish jokes to lighten the day.

    Oh my gawd! I can almost hear the tick-tock of the waiting musical score for the cogitation time. And the sounds are picking up in tempo. It’s hardly relaxing and conducive to productive thought, you know! 🙂

    Yeah, that was also my experience from the other side of that till balancing story. I’d be certain that there are just some businesses that take the matter to 11 on the dial, but I’ve not experienced that story. I have worked with people who have been on the receiving end of that level of extreme craziness – and it makes it easy for me to be a calming and assertive influence in the aftermath. It’s a form of abuse I reckon to take things that far. Mostly I just feel bad for them, and I would have told the pedant to go and get f….., but of course that is sometimes a career limiting move. Fortunately I don’t have a career to speak of. One less thing to worry about.

    Oh yeah. Shoot! I forgot to ask Damo about his opinion in relation to The Orville series II. Good or bad? But mate, committing to a series is like a real drama for me, maybe unless it is the new Dexter short series… Oh no, I’m weak. Only… So… Many… Hours… In… The… Day…

    But yeah, I do as you are doing and intersperse serious works of non-fiction with fictional works. One can have neither too much fun, nor can they become too much of a swotsman (as it used to be called).

    I can’t believe that you are getting another atmospheric river. Isn’t the last one still going? Or did it peter out in localised flooding?

    It is almost 11pm and very warm here still. It was rather hot down here today and we put the fire shutters over the windows in order to keep the afternoon heat from transferring inside the house.

    There was an odd occurrence up on the road late this afternoon. Very odd. Oh well.



  8. Hi Pam,

    Thank you, and I have to tell you that I so enjoyed the silliness of writing the story. It was a lot of fun, and I littered all sorts of jokes in the text.

    Very good to hear that prudent economics is part of your household – personally I would expect nothing less from you. The opinion of which is formed upon our many words across the years. But you know, if it gets like, really crazy cold, splurge a bit on the firewood and keep warm!

    It feels really hot here today, and even at 11pm I’m enjoying the air flow from the ceiling fan.

    Ah, whilst I have no experience of burning Black Locust (although recovered as much from the tree as I possibly could) that sort of burning sounds as though the tree may have had too high a moisture content. It takes energy from the combustion to dry out the timber in order to make it burn properly, so you don’t get much heat and it burns poorly. Best practice is about 14% moisture content, and believe it or not solid hardwood furniture inside a house is around 12%. And even dead trees take up moisture. Had a digital meter a few years ago and went around testing everything I could so as to get a feel for what it was all about. Mind you the Black Locust grain looks tight and probably full of sugars it may not dry out or season as easily as other timbers. That’s my guess anyway and I will experiment with the timber sooner or later.

    It’s a brand new pile of mulch (with a one tenth quantity comprising compost). Happy days is a pile of organic matter to feed the soil. 🙂

    I have faith that the soil won’t get as hot as 86’F. It would be lucky to be 70’F at the moment – at a guess.



  9. Hello Chris
    Thanks for the entertainment. That is one heck of a pile of mulch, I wish that I had it here.
    I still use cheques and a new cheque book arrives automatically in the post when I have got to the end of the old one. Mind you, the future looks ever more difficult as bank branches and post offices keep closing.
    Am expecting our lock down to intensify. So far Son can work but that may not continue to be possible.
    Drear and cold here.


  10. While our account experiences negative ash flow in an annual cycle, the deposits accrued during the upside of the cycle have sufficient countervailing effects that our business model shows good stability.

    One could ponder how the real world of material flows compares and contrasts with the world of finance with all its recent shenanigans and possibly draw some unsettling conclusions. So, that little trip into monetary buzz words and trite comforting phrases was a fun reminder for me.

    Eastern brown snakes!!! Yikes, an event that would make me stop and take serious stock of the situation. We are lucky that the first settlers of this area were quite rabid and energetic in eliminating the indigent poisonous vipers. Only very limited small pockets in the steeper recesses remain.

    I don’t suppose antivenin can be procured and tucked in the fridge?

  11. Yo, Chris – To your blog post: The Financial Commodities Prospectus for CBF looks very good. Almost too good to be true! 🙂 . Has there been an IPO? Will there be an IPO? Should I contact my stock broker, of just send a check? I want to get in on the ground floor.

    So, was it the eastern brown snake that gave you that shot of adrenalin, you mentioned? Sighting snakes usually does that. A particularly venomous variety, more so. I’d keep an eye on those bull ants. They’re organized. They can probably deploy legal beagles. They probably have their lawyers on retainer, and speed dial.

    The apple tree looks good-to-go. Perhaps the wallabies won’t pick another victim. I think I mentioned (long ago) that one of the dwarf apple trees, at my last place, had been mauled by a bear. Long before my time. But it still showed the effects. But kept right on producing apples. Jonagold. The best apples I had. Late crop and good keepers. The bear was at least, discerning.

    Well, the black locust pulled it’s trick, just once too often. I suppose it thought it could get away with that, forever. Memo to other black locusts. Don’t fool with Chris, or your gone! 🙂

    The timber cabinets are looking very good. I’d guess they were originally stained, to “even out” the grain. Make them look more identical. Some people are like that. Everything has to be standardized. It’s a sickness 🙂 . Your lucky it’s a close grained wood, or, that they were sealed before the wretched stain was put on. Getting stain out of an open grained wood (like some oak), is a real bear. I once had an oak rocker, that someone had painted (on the open grain) with green machinery paint. After all these years (50+), I can still remember my attempt. I finally threw in towel, and repainted it a nice mellow antiqued red. Interesting about how the drawers all fit. A lot of the old furniture (even the well crafted ones) have drawers that you have to get in the right order, to fit. Once all is said and done, you might think about greasing the internal door runners with either candle wax, or soap. Protects them from wear, and keeps everything running smooth, for years.

    Patience with the rabbit snare. Or, you could drop a snake or two, down the burrows. Something less lethal than an eastern brown.

    The zucchini and tomato blossoms look promising. Oh, that I had the space for more running veg. The bees and butterflies are worth their weight in gold, as far as pollination goes. I’m always surprised (and encouraged) by how many native bees and wasps, there are. If we had to depend on the European bee, we’d be in real trouble.

    The comfrey looks different than ours (our blossoms are more purple). But I see there are 35 species. Reviews are mixed, on the tea. They run all the way from “it will kill you” to “great soothing tea.” I think I’ll error on the side of caution, stick with the chamomile, and use the comfrey for a very good fertilizer. Here, comfrey is invasive. Pops up all over the place. I cut it before it goes to seed, and work it into the soil. But I see you can also make a liquid fertilizer, with it.

    The Geranium is very pretty, but unlike any geranium I’ve ever seen. But then, they’re pretty darned varied. (Cont.) Lew

  12. Yo, Chris – (Cont.) To your epistle. Lew also mentioned “Freaky”, a couple of weeks ago. (Grump, grump, grump.) It’s coming out here, on DVD, the second week in February. Hope my library gets it! 🙂

    Checks (or cheques). Banking in general. Etc.. Checks and cash are still very much in evidence, here. Much to the chagrin of The Powers that Be. We are a stubborn lot. We do like access to our funds, in concrete forms. And, the secrecy that cash provides. I usually write two checks a month. Rent, and the electric bill. But I wonder how long the electric will put up with that. Especially, since they’ve just gone to a “third party” billing system. They’ve outsourced it.

    My phone bill is charged to my credit card. I could have had a monthly paper statement, to pay by check 🙂 , but it involved extra fees. And, they had piled on enough of those. $3 a month for voice mail? Really? But that’s how they do it. To get you off a cash (or check) economy. When the electric company tries to pull that, I’ll probably opt for the paper statements. Just to miff them, a bit. 🙂 .

    Since I can’t easily get to the bank, right now, I’ve been preserving my cash on hand. So, my weekly trip to the Safeway has involved writing a check. No problem, at all. My retirement funds are deposited directly into my checking account. Then I hit the ATM, to get cash. Walking around money. 🙂 . Or, if the ATM is on the fritz, I can use the drive in teller. Yup. A real person.

    A shallow dive down the rabbit hole reveals that dog poo, does not deter snakes. But an open plastic bag with an ammonia soaked rag in it, might. According to what I’ve read, you’re seeing snakes because it’s a wet year. More frogs and skinks around, will draw the snakes.

    Yeah, my Idaho friends get defensive if I mention I’ve only been in the Store With Walls, once in my life. Another of those things I don’t mention, anymore. I got the memo (several). You were poor and HAD NO CHOICE!!! Yeah, yeah, whatever.

    Well, on the other hand, your local store manager really pays attention to his customers. Although, maybe it was your attempts to be furtive, that tipped him off? You’d probably make a poor shop lifter (aka: booster).

    The advent of the Big Boxes doesn’t serve the local populations interests. And, if you object, you’re “against progress” or “against jobs.” There have been a few successful efforts to keep the big boxes out, through education. But they’re few and far between.

    Weather. Well, the last atmospheric river ended, and we had a few mostly nice days. And, cold nights. Professor Mass has an article about the current upcoming event. It should come in, tonight. Due to some odd circumstances, I was out at 6:30 am, checking the weather. After walking the dog last night, for no apparent reason, I could NOT stay awake. So I went to bed, much earlier than usual. It was quit warm, 46F (7.77C), with a bit of rising wind. The barometer hasn’t started to take a plunge, yet. Where we really get in trouble, is if the storm slows. Or, worse, stalls.

    Odd occurrence on the road? What? Another cliffhanger? How “Perils of Pauline.”

    Six minutes. You’ll love the dog.

    Speaking of dogs, H got her bath yesterday. And, I discovered a new trick. I get on my knees, to trim her up. And the worst of the mats are hard to get at. So, I tried getting on my knees, putting a towel in my lap, and just flipping her on her back. She went to sleep! Allowing me to have a good go at the hard to see, and get to mats. Lew

  13. Hi Chris,

    RE: quarantine, holidays and a work ethic. I see the holiday break has given you time to work on your sense of humour. My advice, keep working at it!! 🙂


  14. @Lew and Chris,

    I see that there is now some controversy on exactly who mentioned the movie “Freaky” first. I suggest we don’t get bogged down on who said what when, and just remember who watched it first 🙂

    RE: Orville Season 2.
    Solid love letter to Star Trek: TNG. Enjoyed both seasons and looking forward to the third. Note, The Orville is not actually trying that hard to be funny, it is definitely more TNG than Galaxy Quest. As I love TNG, this is fine by me.

    Stopped watched Discovery after the first season, never bothered with the 2nd or the 3rd. I managed one episode of Picard, and decided not to subject myself to Lower Decks. Word on the street is that Discovery Season 3 is marginally better than 1 & 2, but isn’t going to win any converts if you already didn’t like it.

    I do enjoy The Expanse, but as an Amazon series I doubt it is coming to DVD?

    In other media consumption news, I started on Colleen’s doorstop opus, “The First Man In Rome”. Obvious parallels to todays political situation, but so far I am just enjoying reading something by someone who knows how to craft a story. The extremely detailed maps of Republic era Rome is also cool 🙂 The city was surrounded by market gardens, which makes complete sense.


  15. Dear Sirs,

    Pertaining to the above document, we note that paragraph 10 makes special mention of a certain brown snake. We further note that no specific details are given as to the manner and method of despatch of said snake, which details would no doubt be of great interest to the general public; snake stories having an inherent disposition to excite and entertain due to the intrinsically dangerous nature of the subject matter.

    We hereby request further information be given in relation to the fate of the snake specifically whether any weapons such as whacking stick were used or whether professional help was sought by the directors.

    We look forward to a reply at your earliest convenience.

    Messrs Sheridan and Co.

  16. Hi Inge,

    Thank you for the praise, and it was so much fun writing this short story. Actually, and I owe you great thanks for introducing me to W. Somerset Maugham and his fine book: The Summing Up. It is a real pleasure to be in the company of this author, and I will genuinely treasure the book long into the future, well as long as I’m around to do so, I guess. You know, over the year’s encounters with teachers have produced feelings of distraction, noisomeness and a certain sense that time would be better spent elsewhere whilst doing other things. A sad tale, but Mr Maugham has delivered every lesson with a side serving of mirth. I now find myself aiming for lucidity and wondering just what the author will write in the next sentence! Thanks for the recommendation. 🙂

    My gut feeling suggests that the banks will discard cheque books in much the same way they discard inconvenient branches. And the shareholders will cheer it all on.

    Certainly that is a possibility, but down here we are now in some sort of weird hang time where to expect uncertainty seems to be the general rule.

    Twas drear and cold here this morning too: 55’F and drizzling at 9am. However, at midnight the thermometer was recording 79’F. My brain hurts, and I must recall to check the soil temperature before the mushy brain stuff splatters everywhere leaving a frightful mess.



  17. Hi Steve,

    A wise strategy. Investors have long noted that trees are a self regenerating asset, and as such produce excellent returns on a cold winters day. 🙂 Ah, Ash is a fascinating tree of which I grow the Dessert Ash and the very beautiful Claret Ash. I see that they can be burned less seasoned than our own Eucalyptus species – which frankly require 24 months seasoning and drying before being used.

    Hehe! Glad that you enjoyed the trip into the world of buzz-words. 🙂 Yes, string some words together, add some unearned meaning to the words, roll up your sleeve, then ‘Hey Presto!’, watch me pull some rubbish out of my hat.

    The snake thing has rattled me and I might have to learn more about them and their habits. The snake was as deadly as they get in this corner of the world – and I was lucky that day.



  18. Hi Damo,

    🙂 Mate, when I wrote that cheeky sentence, my brain was internally conducting a debate as to whether I write this, or not. On one shoulder there was a little angel telling me not to write the cheeky comment, and you don’t want to hear what the devil on my other shoulder said. Anyway, I’m easily lead, the facts clearly speak for themselves as to the eventual direction I chose, and well, we can happily all blame it on personal failings. Yes, that is my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

    Actually, I may have linked to an ABC article on the film, or maybe I didn’t? It is hard to recall all the details, and I dare not add a text search widget to this website. Can you imagine getting bogged down in all the fact checking that would go on? Better off I just claim that it was I who mentioned the film first. 🙂 That works for me. Hehe!

    Thank you for the review of The Orville, and I may have to commit to this series, but time is in rather short supply.



  19. Hi Simon,

    Mate, the snake scared the bejeezus out of me. So here we are having a lovely day after having worked hard for many long hours in the hot summer sun. Plum is trying to bring some matter or other to my attention. But then dogs are dogs and they do carry on a bit. Best to ignore them – most of the time, except perhaps when it is unwise to do so.

    Had a pleasant lunch. Due to having worked for six hours in the hot sun, I had a brief nap after lunch. Woke up, and then went out into the sun again so as to take a look at the work we had done. Took Ollie with us. Despite Ruby’s general inclinations, Ollie has the coolest head of the Fluffy collective.

    Ollie was staring fixedly at something and the Fairy Wrens were cracking the sads. Couldn’t quite see what it was because there was a large dog between me and it. And in a more personal note: Because I’m occasionally an idiot I decided to sneak up behind Ollie and gave him a scratch. Ollie jumped backwards into me and we barely escaped falling over into a human-dog heap. Yes, all very graceful.

    Then (censored due to legal advice)

    But what surprised me was that (censored due to legal advice)

    So, that was what happened. And certainly I haven’t felt exactly chilled out since then, and my sleep has been disturbed. Ordinarily I sleep like the dead, but I’ve been feeling a bit jumpy since then, but are kind of mellowing out as time goes on.

    Next time, it is a job for the professionals. And over the next week or so I will go out of my way to become acquainted with these people.



  20. Hi Lewis,

    Trees it should be noted are self regenerating assets, with growth potential! An IPO sounds as if our fortunes will be made, and I guess now that you mentioned the idea first, we might have to negotiate a cut?

    Yes, unfortunately it was the most deadly one around, and a full blown adult to boot. At first I thought it was juvenile. Can’t say that I have been feeling relaxed since then, and I wrote the blog a few hours after the incident. A shot of Rum was used in the calming process – and that helped, for a while. Next time, I’ll contact a snake catcher, and over the next week or so I’m going to hopefully arrange to meet these folks. I need to understand the situation better than I do now – it is not as if there is anyone around teaching people about this stuff.

    The bull ants on the other hand, well I know that lot very well. The cheeky scamps bite as many times as possible and then spray formic acid on the wounds so that you end up with a chemical burn. We’re not mates, those ants and I. Most of the other species of ants living here will do the same trick, but not to the extent or aggression that the bull ants do.

    The wallabies have been working on a couple of the other apple trees – but that one in particular seemed the most affected. Not sure why, but it is possible that the tree had not put down strong enough roots initially and/or the soil was not packed down tightly around those roots. The tree is doing quite well now.

    I sent a strong message to the other Black Locust trees – don’t mess with me. Poor Ruby accidentally stood on one of the thorns and bounced into the air – Kelpie’s can and will jump. There was no gnashing of teeth and wailing, but there was much sucking of paw.

    Of course, I had not considered that aspect of evening out the grain. The timber is good, although I’m guessing that the draw fronts and tops (which are quite solid chunks of timber) are also biscuit joined as you can clearly see the joins, although they are seamless. I guess some people can get freaked out by that, but I like seeing the history of the pieces, and the dark walnut stain was a thing. Back in the 1970’s there was a lot of the colour paint (or it may have been a timber stain): Mission Brown. The stuff was used everywhere, like the yellow bottle glass – it was all so 70’s that it hurt.

    The local timbers are very closely grained hardwoods. If there are no knots it makes for easy splitting, but if there are knots or elbows it is a real challenge even for the big log splitter.

    Always wise to know when to throw in the towel on a project. There is no excuse for green machinery paint on furniture. Mind you, I’ve encountered some green and orange kitchens in my time and that made me wonder what was going on. Ah, an ideal solution to your green predicament. 🙂

    Yes, I have experienced furniture repairs where doors and draws only go in one location on the unit. In the background to the photo of the cabinet repairs, there is a sideboard unit, and that unit has three doors and three draws, and it was a devil of a time getting the unit to look and work as though it was symmetrical when we first obtained it. The hinges had to be adjusted down to very fine adjustments before it all looked right. At the end I decided that after a lot of painstaking mucking around, the result was all good enough and it looks fine.

    I need a ferret. But a Plan B was enacted today.

    The variety of native pollinators is pretty good really, although people do focus on the European honey bees because they are active just so early in the season, plus many of the native pollinators are difficult to obtain honey from. Almonds would be very hard to pollinate without the European Honey Bees. But yeah, they are in trouble, that’s for sure.

    Glad you liked the butterfly.

    I won’t argue about Freaky because I may have seen a reference to it first – not that it is a competition! Hehe! Actually it was probably you who first mentioned the film, but why let the truth get in the way of a good story in this instance?

    The idea of a cashless society makes me feel very uncomfortable, and they came close to it down here recently. Of late I’ve been forcing myself back into using cash for transactions. Ouch, third party systems will probably be, dare I say it, innovative.

    The problem with the automatic payments is when things go wrong – or worse, you want the automatic payments stopped. I had a nightmare encounter years ago with such a problem.

    This talk of drive in bank tellers always amuses me because I’ve never encountered such a thing. During the early stages of the health subject which dares not be named a bank employee tried to stop me from entering the branch – there were no other customers at the time. She had a slightly crazed look to her eyes, however I was firm but gentle with her, and fortunately could conduct my business at the branch. That was a new experience for me. Oh yeah, an ATM on the fritz is a nightmare.

    The ammonia story doesn’t work down here: How to keep snakes out of your home. Thank you for the suggestion and I was hopeful, but now I have to embark on a journey of knowledge seeking and acquaintance building.

    Exactly, yeah, yeah whatever is sometimes an appropriate response to heckling.

    Oh definitely, my face would look guilty as. And the laugh about the store manager incident was that I was trying to be subtle and furtive – turns out, I may know the definition of these words, but the practice, well others have evaluated this skill and found it wanting in me. I once watched a woman in her late middle age shoplift from the same store and then get into a very large and expensive vehicle. I have not been able to work that story out, but it is weird. Did you ever catch anyone in your store back in the day getting up to such economic mischief.

    Yeah, big box stuffs. Mostly I believe people want cheap stuff, and lots of it to boot. It wasn’t always that way, and it would make a curious history to examine that – not that anyone would read such a book.

    Going to bed earlier has that effect of waking one up at an earlier hour. Good to hear that you have a barometer.

    I’d suggest that a parking perpendicularly across the road and the occupants appear to be hanging around for hours and going at it like rabbits in broad daylight is enough to get the bush telegraph talking. News travels far and wide. Plan C has now been activated this morning. Long has it sat on the back burner. Neither the editor nor I have the inclination to act in this matter, but there has been a subtle change in society in the past few months. Yes, definitely.

    Go H, and respect to you for working out H. 🙂

    Sleep is calling.



  21. Yo, Chris – Up early, again. A medical transport taxi was beep, beep, beeping, under my window at 6am. 🙁 .

    I’ll pass on the cut. Any additional income, and my rent goes up. Just remember who mentioned it first 🙂 .

    That was quit the article about snakes. The snake in the boot picture reminded me that when I lived in Southern California, I’d shake my shoes out, every morning. Scorpions. Early on, I had helped rip up a small stage, in a bar, and albino scorpions scampered, everywhere. So, importing 500 barrels of soil from Ireland, any time soon? 🙂 . Later on, I found another article that suggested soaking a rug, in ammonia, and putting it in an open plastic bag. From rag to rug. That sounded a bit bogus. A ferret could be a bit of fun, but I don’t know how it would take to the Fluffie Collective. How about a Mongoose? (See: Mongoose and snake taxidermy: images.) But, I think making the acquaintance of a snake catcher is the way to go. I bet you meet some interesting and colorful characters.

    Poor Ruby! Here, we have problems with dogs getting muzzles full of porcupine quills. They have to be removed, with pliers. But there’s a trick to it. Clip off the ends, to break the air seal. Then pull them out. Dog (or you) sprayed by a skunk? Gallons of tomato juice.

    The insults to furniture are many. Back in the day, when antique oak furniture was not much valued, some people cut down perfectly good dinning room tables, to make coffee tables. In the 1950s and 60s, there was a whole craze for “French Provincial” furniture. Basically, you’d slap a coat of off white paint on something, and then coat it with a well thinned, brown stain. Before it quit dried, you’d rub it off all the high points. Sometimes called “antiquing.” There were kits. Back when I refinished a lot of Victorian, solid walnut furniture (with burl veneer accents), the “best practices” was to put several layers of varathane bar top finish on, and then rub it down with auto wax. Really, pretty much what they called a “French polishing.” At least, the method, if not the material. Gave a VERY protective coat, a warm glow, and really brought out the burl pattern. But that fell out of favor. Near as I can figure, because it wasn’t authentic. Or, to repair damage to such pieces was complicated. The crimes against antique furniture, have been many.

    I only have one automatic payment, and that’s my phone. I feel pretty comfortable. The phone people are lovely, my credit union people are lovely, and the credit card is insured for any losses. Unlike our debit cards. By the way, I mentioned I couldn’t pay my yearly rental insurance, on-line. So, I tried their phone number. Phone tree hell. So, I have my local agent a call. Took me less than 2 minutes. Note to self: next year, just call the agent. Skip the electronic grief.

    Not much of a problem with shop lifting, when I worked in bookstores. At least my yearly “shrinkage” of inventory didn’t indicate that. Low ticket, bulky items. And, we deployed the “greet every customer and make eye contact.” When I had my tat shop, one rainy Sunday, a young lady came in. The only walk-in, that day. I noticed a a couple of things missing, within the hour. So, I called every other dealer on the street, to give them a heads up. Several reported later, that yes, she was in. They shadowed her hard, and flushed her out. She had a small, distinctive tattoo, between thumb and forefinger. About a year later, there was a big bust of a theft / junkie ring. Leading the perp walk (orange jump suits are so unflattering), was a young lady, with her head down. But her hands were manacled together in such a way, that I could see a familiar, distinctive tattoo… Had a full blown extortion attempt, in the first store I managed down in California. “We have your district manager, in a van, in the parking lot. We’re going to kill her, if you don’t empty the til and bring the money out!.” I called their bluff. I was able to provide enough of a description, that a week later they were caught, pulling the same thing at another mall.

    Well, it has been raining here for the last 24 hours. I think the rain gage, is wonky. It says the 72 hour total is only about an inch. But the hourly totals have exceeded an inch, several times. Minor to moderate flooding is predicted for the Cowlitz, Newaukum and Chehalis rivers. The overnight low was 50F (10C) and at 7am, it was 54F. We’re supposed to get a break in the weather, Wednesday / Thursday.

    Well, that must have been quit a spectacle, on your road. Whatever happened to the “No Tell, Motel?” I’d say, a married couple (to other people) or, youngsters still living with mum and dad. And, given the financial apocalypse, there’s more of that going on. I understand that in cultures where people, as a matter of course, live into adulthood at home …. the youngsters get quit creative. Still, you don’t want that going on in your neighborhood. Might spook the wildlife.

    I see “Greenland” is being released here, on DVD, the same week as “Freaky.” Second week in February. Got to keep a sharp eye on that library catalog. Lew

  22. Hello Chris,

    Also here on the Lowland Branch of the Cellulose Bank, the stocks are looking positive. We have had quite strong organic growth in the last 12 months and have sufficient reserves for the upcoming high draft month of February. This is, as you well know, for us the time of the year when the capital flows are most challenging. To reassure you, we have completed every EU mandated stress-test with only minor deviations.

    For the upcoming year, we have invested in quite some seed ventures and look forward to a diverse portfolio of branch products.
    Maybe the investment in a new tool will be approved to allow for a well-oiled stock split when Summer comes.

    I am also preparing my first IPO – initial public offer – to bring high-yielding selected varieties to investors who want to invest in carbon capture plants, while growing-their-own-money, so to speak.

    Best of luck for all forms of capital for 2021.


    ps. I think Galbraith misunderstood the meetings-to-meet with the president. I think he underestimated the power of face-to-face meetings to get priority whenever there are conflicts of interest (of which there always are many). I think the industry leaders who met with the president got something out of the meetings, but maybe not immediately. Everyone who did not get a meeting with the president got lower priority and could be more easily ignored.
    What he did nail clearly were the “optimism incantations” that were mandatory during the downturn. People in media, politics, industry all said that times were looking good ahead. Those incantations (credo’s) we hear plenty also nowadays! The insistence is telling…

    pps. I mainly focus on sweet chestnuts. My favourite one is the Chinese Chestnut – Castanea mollissima. But all chestnuts are great. I am grafting selected cultivars onto seedling rootstock.

  23. PS I think a commenter here suggested “hollow kingdom” to read. The story about a domesticated crow surviving the zombie apocalypse. Thank you, Mrs Damo and I both enjoyed it!


  24. Hi Lewis,

    It is possible that I was not that far off with the dog poop – snake theory. Turns out that many animals mark their territories through the act of urination, as well as poop (ask the nearest wombat about that story). Now as we all know, urine breaks down to provide useful sources of ammonia. So I’m thinking that the tale of using ammonia may have originated from that concept. Ammonia is available in ready supply nowadays, but not so in the past. However, and I’m guessing here that with urine there are other compounds and minerals involved in the story, but I’m no chemist and am just guessing. Interestingly, I’ve watched films from your country where the characters urinate in order to ward off deer. So I’ll give it a bash around the garden and keep spreading the dogs poop around and who knows – it might work.

    Unexpected 6am wake up calls are just not right, however, on the other hand glad to hear that it was not you being evacuated. That would not be good for you.

    Yes, well credit where credit is due. 🙂 Prestigious is the word that comes to mind when I think of your name highlighted up there on the IPO. Now, some folks may associate your name with the car crash when it all flops around like a beached whale. But let’s only look on the bright side of this scheme. What could possibly go wrong?

    Speaking of going wrong, the editor and I came up with the bright idea of sorting out the firewood to split, the day before we actually do so. Candidly I was a bit on edge every time I moved a chunk of timber to split due to the snake risk. The editor suggested that I was a bit tetchy and acting ungraciously. And she was correct. Apologies were made, and the structure of the job was reassessed. In future years we’ll now bring in the firewood before the snake season begins. We have been foolish this year, but so far no harm has been taken and that is what I call a salient and also sobering learning experience. The unfortunate thing about not having anyone around here to ask questions of is that you have to learn by trial and error. There are downsides to this strategy.

    Oh yeah, scorpions pack a punch too, and I recall that story. The horror must have hung around for a few days? We get scorpions here too, but they are little things and whilst they can’t be ignored, they can be squooshed. Your lot would have caused both Ollie and I to jump back several feet in a single ungracious movement. Despite the lack of grace, we have all lived to fight another day. What the heck did you do with all of the albino scorpions scampering about the place. They would not have been amused.

    Please keep your porcupines and skunks to your country. I’m just glad that we do not have honey badgers, as they would probably thrive down under. Ruby learned an important lesson as to where to place her feet. There are times that she jumps through the air for the sheer joy of it as if she were a Gazelle. Everyone knows that the most careless gazelles are often taken out by the local pride.

    When bringing in the firewood this morning, we discovered a tiny little bunny hiding in a crevasse. So I showed the bunny to Plum, who was the great white hope, and she fled. I’m embarrassed by the reaction. Sir Scruffy or Sir Poopy (note the Knighthoods) would have simply dealt to the innocent little bunny wabbit. Even Dame Scritchy the demented elder would have casually sorted out the matter before then going on to outrage us all with acts of, I dunno, wrongness.

    The thing is though, the question as to why the little bunny wasn’t hiding in its warren is one that has not been resolved. It is possible that something slithery is now inhabiting the conveniently dug burrow that the little bunny’s parents dug. I’m beginning to consider how all this fits into the big picture from a complete systems perspective, and truly I now miss Sir Scruffy and Sir Poopy – they made things very easy for me.

    The “French Provincial” furniture looks a bit fussy for my tastes. The Editor is a fan, but I dunno, somehow it all looks a bit off to my senses. Yeah, a lot of the furniture of that period really is finished very off white. Ah, varathane bar top finish on looks like some sort of epoxy finish to my eyes. What is it with people wanting finished timber to have a sort of high gloss and wet look? The hardwood floors here were finished with a satin look and are easily repaired. The high gloss look is not easily repaired from my experience, although your experience may be different to mine in this matter. The crimes against beautifully made furniture, as you say, have been many and varied. Nowadays people hardly even value second hand items – even though they are better constructed and will possibly last far longer than newer items.

    Your agent story sounds much like my experiences with the local telco – go into the local shop and work with people. Robots can be rather annoying innovations.

    Wow! Thanks for the sharing your experience. The local bush telegraph suggests that the 4.30am dude fell into that category. Rumour has it that the guy was chased by a local. Another way to describe that category of folks is the word ‘petty’. But things on that front can change without warning and / or prior notice. And yes, nobody looks good in an orange jump suit, and it is hardly a flattering fashion statement. 🙂

    Not to sound as if I don’t care about the awful dilemma which you were put into, but did you actually like you district manager? Of course there is always the old adage of: ‘better the devil you know’, but still she could have been somewhat of a pain and may have had little social capital to draw upon. Imagine the awfulness of replying to the extortion threat: “Well, I didn’t much like her anyway. Have you got anyone else I need to worry about?” Years ago I read a book about a group of border guards on your southern border who were all picked because they had no ties. So the group went into the border territory and had actual Mexican standoffs with actual cartel folks. The story was alarming, and if I recall correctly many of the characters suffered mental trauma from the continual exposure of such experiences.

    Is this wonky gauge the same one you mentioned as being on the fritz a week or so back? Not suggesting that the device is untrustworthy, but it kind of looks like that. Sometimes the digital gauge which the local water board uses occasionally misses out on rain that I see with my own eyes and is recorded in the gauges here. Not sure what to make of it, but I stick to the readings in the ‘official’ gauge. Some mysteries I note, you have to carry around with you. 😉

    50’F is quite warm for winter weather, and I’d be happy with that – but maybe not the Pineapple Express atmospheric river. It was another warm day here today, but from tomorrow for the next week the air temperature looks barely set to surpass 70’F. Mind you, the sun is very hot when it shines. Not sure what to make about it all.

    As well as doing the firewood, we did about a quarter of the year’s fruit bottling preserving (canning in your parlance) this afternoon. Me tired.

    Hehe! Yes, I had absolutely no idea what to make of it all, and basically left them alone to do whatever it was that they were doing up there. Yes, I do agree with your analysis, but my gut feeling tells me that there was more to the story. I mostly listen to my gut feeling as it alerts me to things my conscious mind tolerates. It’s not always right either, but it is worth taking into consideration. Not sure about that, what do you reckon – do you get intuitions from time to time?

    Now I’m confused, was it you or Damo whom first suggested the film Freaky? 😉 And after all this hullabaloo, is the film any good?

    How’s the library hold list going in these times?



  25. Hey Chris,

    A friend of a friend once told me the story of a time when he trod on a snake while going to the outhouse one evening. He lives an hour and a half from the nearest hospital and was home alone at the time. He didn’t see what snake it was because it was pitch black. If it was a brown snake, he would have probably been dead before making it to the hospital so he had to make a call of whether to drive or stay home and try his luck. He decided to stay home. Pretty sure he didn’t get much sleep that night.

    Picked up the chickens this evening. Got a rhode island red, a black australorp, a blue australorp and an ancona. They seem to be settling in ok. Can already see the personality differences. The australorps are very lively and friendly as is the rhode island red but the ancona is definitely withholding judgement on the situation at the moment.

    By the way, I saw there a farmer’s market at Riddell’s Creek this weekend. Have you ever gone to it? Is it any good?

  26. Hi Goran!

    Greetings to the brethren in the Low Land branch of the Cellulose Bank. Good stories are heard about the bountiful water and fertile soils of the Low Land branch, all of which combine to produce excellent returns. Oh yes, your February sucks, as does our August, for similar reasons. Candidly, the staff down here are a bit confused about tall tales of something called: The Beast from the East. Sounds a bit far fetched to us down here, because anyone who is anyone knows that the prevailing winds originate in the west. 😉 It heartens the directors down here that your bank has adequate reserves for the winter, and many hours of work was done today in relation to that matter. Beware, some deposit holders have not considered the winter months and so it is wise to maintain reserves against a run on deposits and that displays prudent strategies in action on your part.

    Prey tell, what is this new tool that you speak of? And does the tool have the full approval of the board of directors? Not always easy…

    Best of luck to you too. 🙂

    Chestnuts are a very hardy tree which grows well in this mountain range. Some properties have large stands of them – and nobody seems to be harvesting the nuts. Bonkers. Thanks for mentioning the Asian variety as I had not encountered it before.

    I have horse chestnuts and the usual chestnuts growing here. The sweet chestnuts are still too young to produce nuts, whilst the horse chestnut produces a few buckeyes each year. Those trees get larger too with each passing year. In one of the nearby botanical gardens, there is an advanced specimen, and it rains buckeyes during autumn.

    Well done with the grafting. Do you have to utilise a greenhouse?

    Of course in relation to the meetings, and there is an old saying down here which suggests that: The squeaky wheel gets the oil. And that is exactly what you wrote. But yes, I find the ‘optimism incantations’ to be not according with reality and the main problem then is that all of the reporting becomes a sort of background noise and you don’t know what to think. Can you still travel within the EU? International borders here are mostly closed, but in reality that means seriously tightly controlled. Very few people are leaving, and even less are returning.



  27. Hi Damo,

    It was Lewis who recommended the book Hollow Kingdom. Good to hear as both the editor and I also enjoyed the book.

    I’m currently reading ‘The Summing Up’ which is a literary memoir by W. Somerset Maugham. You might enjoy the book as the guy has a lovely way with words, and it is essentially a book on what he has learned about the art of writing as an author. And he has a very sharp tongue.

    You reading anything?



  28. Hi Simon,

    Yeah, that sounds about right, although your mate could have applied a pressure bandage to the bitten limb and that could have given him a reprieve of a few hours, although candidly, the Eastern Brown Snake is deadly as. Interestingly in my readings on this subject – if only because I had no idea beforehand – suggested that it is often the juvenile snakes which hunt in the evening, and sometimes in the dark. This puts a whole new spin on walking around at night. Oh well, moving on…

    And one last fun fact, many snake bites are actually dry bites as the snake may or may not decide to inject venom. The bite itself is not that painful, the aftermath is another story. Glad that your friend of a mate was OK.

    Good stuff with the chickens. Did you check out where they are perching at night in the hen house? I constructed four lovely laying boxes for the chickens, and they much prefer to sit on a perch, or nest in the bedding straw on the top of the laying boxes. And mostly they lay their eggs in the open bag of sugar cane mulch. Hope you get some eggs over the next couple of days, although how old are your chooks? Point of lay chickens does not often mean what it says, but after the winter solstice at the very latest you should expect to see some eggs.

    I used to man the seed savers store at that farmers market. It was good fun talking to the people who turn up to buy the groups seeds. Each of the towns around here have a farmers market and it cycles to a different town each week in succession. They’re all good, but it depends I guess as to what you are looking to buy.

    Went to the Castlemaine Farmers Market today to pick up 25kg of fruit to bottle. Tellurian Fruit Gardens grows the best tasting fruit around – it is good stuff. I think he does the Coburg Farmers Market too.

    I need to buy some more chooks but have something lined up in April in relation to that.



  29. Yo, Chris – Well, I’ve been known to dump gallons of “self produced liquid fertilizer”, around, usually in the midnight hour. Also, blood meal. Both are supposed to be deer deterrents, along with a lot of other things. Sometimes, they work. Other times, not. But I must say, even though we had deer around last year, there was no garden damage. Will that hold for next year, given the same conditions? Got me.

    Well, I thought about the whale flopping thing, were my name on the masthead. I’d take my ill gotten gains, shave beard, change name, move to another state. I watched a few more episodes of “Crises and Crashes.” One on hyperinflation, Germany in the early 1920s and Zimbabwe, 2007 to present. Then, a segment on the stock market crash. Followed by a segment on “The Great Contraction, of the 1930’s. The professor seemed to think that on one hand, you have the stock market. And on the other, banks and building and loan outfits. He seemed to think the two are connected, but not as firmly as people think. There was also a lot of politics going on, which didn’t help matters.

    Over on our dry side of the mountains, you have to be careful picking up bales of hay, as it’s been known for rattle snakes to fall out the bottom, on your boots. And, there’s been rare occasions where said snakes, have hitched a ride to our side of the mountains. The few times I needed to buy bales of hay, for my chickens, I always inquired to where the hay was sourced. We produce a lot of hay, in county, so, it wasn’t a problem.

    Well, the scorpion event took place 50+ years ago. In misty memory, I took it all in and found it quit interesting. In reality, I probably screamed like a little girl. Well, the little bunny is a good start on your coat. 🙂 . I’m sorry, but I laughed out loud at Plum’s reaction. Luckily, I was between swallows of tea.

    Well, people liked that high gloss wet look, as it brought out the grain. High gloss has it’s place. When I opened the bookstore, the light source was a bit dodgy. So, I painted everything the highest gloss white, I could find. Light reflection. I currently have a bit of dark hallway, and, I’m going to paint the back of the bookcases, the highest gloss white. High gloss is also associated with cleanliness, so you find a lot of it in kitchens and bathrooms. But, yes, it does chip. Back in Ye Olde Times, when candles were perhaps the leading illumination, high gloss furniture helped to reflect available light. Not such a problem, today, but there are times and places … Not that people think it through, that much.

    Well, I thought about that. No, I don’t think I cared much for the district manager. 50+ years here. But I think I already had an inkling, of who the perps were. And how they’d pulled it off. About a week before the event, a couple had come in the store, very personable, you know. And he was all enthused about getting in the book trade. So, besides passing on the information on what it was like, I also passed along the name of the district manager. It was just unusual enough, that it stuck in my memory. I was able to supply the police with a full, and detailed description, of the couple. Which lead to their arrest, about a week later.

    Well, we had an interesting weather evening. Poured down rain and gusts of wind to 32mph. 50F (10C), at midnight. The lights flickered quit a bit, and I kept my flashlight (torch), close to hand. Then at midnight, it stopped. Like flipping a switch. The temperature plunged to 43F (6.11C). We’re going to have clear weather, for about 36 hours. I can see blue sky. My friends in Idaho got 9” of snow, between morning and night. Further east of them, in the Great Plains and Midwest, it’s going to be blizzard conditions. Give a thought to Margaret, Clare, and maybe, even Pam.

    Is “Freaky” good? Got me. Doesn’t come out on DVD until the second week of February. Oh, and by the way, I see there’s a new Bruce Willis film, coming out about the same time on disc. Sci-Fi. Called “Breach.” Near as I can figure from the trailer, the last ark ship from earth, on it’s way to New Earth (why do they always call them that?) is found to have Very Bad Aliens, on board. Hasn’t show up, in the library catalog, yet.

    My library hold list is in good shape. I seem to be able to hold it at about 40 items (out of a possible 50). The way stuff dribbles in, there’s a few new things to read or watch, every week. Lew

  30. Hello Chris et al.
    Yes, here in North West Europe, it is possible to travel, but the official line is that it is “strongly discouraged, unless for pressing private needs or business deals with significant potential”. Some people travel, most don’t.
    At Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam), approx 1 million people fly every month this winter, down 80% from the 5 million monthly average a year earlier.
    -80% sounds a lot, but so does 1 million…

    Indeed, the tendency of “news” outlets to copy the “official incantations” makes it hard to distinguish what is really going on. I suspect that this is a major driver of distrust in “main stream media”.
    Especially for the “deplorables” at the bottom of society, who every day experience evidence of the opposite of the “optimist’s credo”.
    I fear that the long term erosion of trust will be a great cost to society. Trust arrives on foot and leaves horseback, as they say here…
    I wonder – was it always like this? Or rather, has this phenomenon increased over time? In some way, there was always some dishonesty and collusion, but the overt incongruence of today’s official messaging seems to reach a new level. Even comparing with the Great Crash of 1929.
    Maybe a useful allegory could be wartime propaganda, as was eloquently described in “The First Casualty” by Philip Knightley?

    I often come to think of fragments from Orwell’s “1984” and the Soviet official messages in Pravda, Izvestia and TASS during the 1980’s, when I hear leading politicians and commentators talk about “the Economy” or prospects for 2021.
    Maybe I am getting a sliver too paranoid in my own interweb filter bubble?

    If this is too political/sensitive for the blog, feel free to cut it out.

    Have a good day!


  31. Hi Chris,
    Doug is adding to our bank of firewood as I write – splitting big chunks of oak that came from a fallen tree on a friend’s property. He says we have about 3 years worth. Our withdrawals have slowed considerably since we put in the new wood burner last March. There shouldn’t be anything living lurking in the wood now except maybe a mouse. We don’t see many snakes here and no poisonous ones.

    I am old school and pay as many bills as I can with checks. We don’t use ATM’s or bank online either though we have a fair amount of automatic withdrawals and deposits that we can’t, without much difficulty, prevent. I also use cash as much as possible. I think if more people used cash instead of a credit card they might spend less on impulse.

    This week I’ve been dealing, yet again, with the lawyer who represents me in matters of my brothers guardianship in the past and now their estates. Patrick’s took three years to close and I am finally after almost 2 1/2 years almost done with Michael’s though she continues to throw monkey wrenches into the process.

    When you’ve you’ve reached the age to receive medicare you also have to get a separate private prescription drug policy. We’ve had the same company since we were 65 and we’d pay the annual premium when the bill arrived in early December. I realized that the bill had never arrived so contacted the company to find that even though the bill had come for the past two years to our new address this year they had reverted to our old address thus the missing bill. Well after speaking to many people who do not reside in this country I still don’t have things quite resolved but at least our bill has been paid (not by check grrr) so we have coverage. The time for open enrollment is over for this year so if we hadn’t paid on time we’d have no coverage until next year and in this country being without prescription coverage could be financially disasterous though at present we use very little. You never know though. Well that is my rant for this week.

    At least the weather has been decent for this time of year. The temperature is finally above freezing so Doug was able to scrape all the ice off the driveway.

    Plum scared of a little bunny – funny. I mentioned it to Salve and she just shook her head.

    Hope you get more summer like weather soon.

  32. @ Lew – no blizzard worries here. The local NWS predicts maybe a half inch of snow on Friday, though it held out the possibility that if a heavier snow shower set in, that area could get an inch. We’ve had very little snow and not much more rain this winter. The storm tracks are going north or south of us.


  33. Chris,

    Nice CBF report. I actually knew the other meaning of CBF, too.

    Yeah, mead and ale, good. Finding enough time to go on a Viking raid? Not gonna happen. Besides, I’m getting too old for that kinda thing. A man has got to know his limitations.

    We got hit with the wind storm overnight Tuesday/Wednesday. Temperatures climbed to +12C. We had two epic windstorms in 2015. The June 2015 storm boasted our record wind gust of 77 mph. The November 2015 storm, which was very destructive, had a peak gust of “only” 71 mph. We tied the November peak this morning.

    We were awakened about 5:30 a.m. by a sustained gust that was hugely noisy and shook the house. We both thought our house was about to go all Wizard of Oz or something. However, on investigation at noonish – no roofing damage, no downed limbs, at least in our yard. Power was out from 7 a.m. for 2 hours, by which time the temperature had dropped to +5C. The natural gas fireplace kept us warm, and the natural gas burners on the stove brewed tea and coffee.

    We’ve been busy this week. A lot of retirement stuff to nail down, things like that. Time consuming. And tiring.

    Did I read that Plum was scared by a little bunny? Was Plum reading our previous discussions about Killer Rabbits and old medieval Killer Rabbit motifs? I’ve never had a dog that was scared of rabbits, squirrels and such.


  34. Hello Chris
    Son has been clearing some of the insane overgrowth here. He was struggling to get a huge bramble out and just could not dig in. He arrived outside my window showing me a length of huge iron chain. It is always fascinating to see what comes out of the ground here.


  35. Hi Lewis,

    Ah, a very delicate matter from some perspectives, although I differ from those perspectives. The liquid is fertiliser, pure and simple. And fortunately living in the bush with few people around, well let’s just say that there is little requirement for furtiveness. 😉 The Roman’s made excellent use of the material, and I notice that it was traditionally used to produce saltpeter. The Wikipud entry was a bit light on for the exact details of that particular process – it amazes me at the level of censaship (sic) going on at all sorts of unusual levels.

    As to the deer, well it is worth the experiment, and I note that the deer when they arrive here won’t come anywhere near the house, due to I’m guessing the stink from the dogs. Fortunately us humans have a very poor sense of smell, otherwise the world would be a very different place – and another of our senses would be reduced. Our brains are only so large and thus can only do so much.

    Speaking of nightsoil etc. I accidentally dropped the worm farm bucket into the worm farm tank today after the bucket detatached from the handle. Fortunately I managed to fish it out again. I had to squeeze the bucket between a long handled hoe and a rake. As you’d expect it required a touch of cleaning before being brought back into the kitchen. The handle on the bucket appears to be coming loose. At least there’s no hole in the bucket!

    Did another day on bringing in the firewood today. And late this afternoon prepared another quarter of the years preserved fruit. This time of year is definitely harvest time, and it is not a time for the lazy. Me tired, but we’re progressing nicely. And fortunately no snakes were encountered in the firewood splitting and hauling. On the other hand the ants are pretty active right now. Had an interesting insight into ecological equilibrium whilst working out in the warm-ish summer sun.

    Good for you with the dodgy masthead business – I salute your flexibility. A person needs to be flexible in order to prosper in this economy. 🙂

    Yeah, the German and Zimbabwe situations have been well documented. And they weren’t good. Interesting and I won’t argue with the professor. On the other hand I’d read a statistic that 10% of the adult population in the US just prior to the Great Depression (almost wrote the Gretta Depression) had margin loans on equities. To me that sort of indicates questionable lending practices, and each drop in the share market resulted in margin calls, leading to further selling of equities. Plus there was the potentially dubious instruments of managed investment funds in play. The whole thing looks like a negative feedback loop. But then did the professor mention the drought destroying livelihoods in rural areas and the rural bank issues? I believe one difference between now and then is the lack of support, but then it does raise the fundamental question: Should the bond and equities markets be supported in the first place? Does not the support introduce failures in the price discovery process? The interesting thing about an economic recession or depression is that the underlying real assets are all still there, unlike a war where they can be obliterated. The underlying real assets might just not make much economic sense to use at the potential revenue versus costs – your fracking industry is a lot like that.

    Exactly about the snakes underneath, stuff. Yeah, that’s my nightmare scenario, but yours was a sensible approach. Hey, the sugar cane mulch I use comes from the cane sugar growing areas up on the far north coast. One day I expect to see a cane toad bouncing out of the bag…

    Hehe! Yeah I probably would have done so too. Mate, when I saw that snake I could feel my bowels churning… And I was so relaxed up to that point. Oh well, I’ve cogitated a lot this week and learned quite a bit and have some interesting thoughts on the subject. One of the odd things about our medical system is that when faced with this issue, they might possibly look at the snake, but instead I’m looking at the entire system and asking how did this situation come to be? The view is much better that much further out you have to admit?

    Hehe! Poor Plum, she might get there, maybe. I should have had Ollie instead. Oh well. It kind of brings to mind Monty Python-esque Killer Rabbits! It’s just a little bunny rabbit.

    Of course, I hadn’t considered that aspect of the gloss paint, but so true. I’ve never lived at a time where light bulbs weren’t available and able to be powered. Hmm. If the grid ever went down here, I would have power and light bulbs, but probably wouldn’t be able to use them – e.g. moths attracted to a naked flame. It would be asking for trouble to come a-visiting.

    Good work – you would have made a good detective or spy. You know, not everyone has the ability to take unrelated incidents that are connected, but not obviously so, and then paint a coherent picture. Also the ability to just listen and not attempt to talk over others is also a valuable tool which I reckon you might have.

    Hang onto your hat in that weather, and it’s super warm, but I guess that is how it rolls in an atmospheric river given where it originated. We are almost having similar temperatures because outside right now it is 57’F. Brr. Although it was warm and calm today.

    Breach looks fun! Alright, who wants barbeque, is a good one liner. Not so sure about shooting guns in a spaceship – that seems like an unwise move, although the hulls might be thick, maybe. I noticed at one point in the trailer that an alien resembling The Alien (of my childhood nightmares) made an appearance.

    Not bad management at all – and if they’re moving items on your hold or order list, you’re all set.



  36. Hi Goran, Margaret, DJ and Inge,

    Thanks for the lovely comments. However tonight is the mid-week hiatus. A dreadful thing, but like pesky aliens and zombies, we might just have to learn to get better at eliminating them! Yeah.

    Sorry, I digress as per usual – it is a personal failing. What were we talking about? Oh, that’s right: It’s the mid week hiatus where Chris goes to sleep early and tries to have nice dreams. Seriously, I’m done with nightmares involving snakes. 🙂 Promise to speak tomorrow!



  37. @ Claire – I’m glad you’re mostly out of harm’s way. My friend’s in western Idaho got 9″ of snow, sunup to sundown. We haven’t seen a flake, yet, here in the lowlands. But, there’s to be a cooling trend, toward the end of the month, so, maybe … Lew

  38. Hi Chris
    Thank you for the detailed report on the activities of the CBF.
    Reminiscent of the glowing reports I use to read from my parents stock market holdings annual reports. Usually in the opening pages. Before they got to the later sections which leaned heavily towards the subjects of executive compensation topics.

    The nice picture of the new capital equipment which is increasing the operational efficiency to a new level. My observation of the large accumulation of cross cut timber rounds awaiting power splitting into stove wood size ,may require some manner of safe material handling by operating personal. The rounds maybe in the weight range of some of the buried rocks encountered in the corporate agricultural division. The recent injuries incurred in moving those rocks indicates that the some type of mechanical advantage my be needed in loading the timber round into the new log splitter.

  39. Yo, Chris – Save Joe!!! If you haven’t heard of him yet, you probably will. An American racing pigeon that turned up in someone’s back yard in Australia. The powers that be want to do him in!

    Re: Liquid fertilizer. Well, if you’ve got some wool that needs a good clean, the Roman’s swore by it. Of course, you’d need a large shallow vat and a few handy slaves to stomp around in it. Well, I’m glad it was only a bucket, and not you that fell into the worm tank. Keep stocked up on tomato juice. It might come in handy 🙂 .

    New kinds of zombies! Fast zombies and slow zombies. Savings and loan zombies and bank zombies.

    I watched the “Savings and Loan Crisis”, “The Crash of 1987” and “Japan’s Lost Decade.” I really can’t carry on a coherent conversation about all this stuff, as, to me, it’s all very complicated. The “Crash of 1987” was due to an inflated stock market, and, computer programs that couldn’t keep up with the buys and sells. The “Savings and Loan Crisis” was lack of oversight and some very creative accounting. Along with organization officers who used the S&Ls as there own private piggy banks. But it started because Saving’s and Loan’s took in deposits, but only did business in mortgage lending. When all you’ve got on your books is 30 year mortgages, at low interest rates, and inflation is in play … Well, it doesn’t end well. Japan’s lost decade was more like a 20 year recession. It started as way inflated land prices and investment money going overseas. Globalization, came into play. In both the S&Ls and Japan, there were a lot of very cozy relationships between regulators, and institutions. And a lot of happy talk and papering over.

    Agriculture, in the US, was in trouble, through most of the go-go 1920s. WWI was boom time, for the farmers, but then land got overinflated and a lot of tractor’s and stuff had been bought on loans. So, the ag sector was in a slide, even before the Crash, and drought.

    Maybe not a live cane toad, but a mulched cane toad?

    Haven’t seen a snake since I moved here. But my old place, quit a few. And, yes, I’d always get that old shot of adrenalin. I’d have to calm myself down, and remind myself that they were a.) beneficial and b.) not lethal. At least on this side of the mountains. Still, they gave me a turn, and I was pretty twitchy, walking around my place.

    Beau was always lethal to possums, but seemed to give the fluffy bunnies, a pass. I’d often see them in his enormous run, but he never did one in. Nell on the other hand …

    Speaking of Ye Olde Times, I’ve been keeping an eye on the comments, over at Mr. Greer’s. There were two interesting one’s yesterday. People who choose to live in past periods of time. At least, as far as their decor goes. Links to articles at 1/12 7:39 PM, and 1/13 3:15 AM. I really like the 1930s, and before, but not the more modern stuff. Modern, to me.

    Gee, it looks like are next week isn’t going to be half bad. Plenty of clearing periods. “Slight chances of rain”, here and there. The overnight lows are predicted to be above freezing. But, a lot of our potential flooding depends on snow melt. Along with the rain.

    Well. My copy of “Victorian Farm” has been received by our library Service Center, and is somewhere between there and here. Will it show up today? Who knows?

    Magic food boxes, come tomorrow. Lew

  40. Hey Chris,

    The chickens are roosting on everything except the roosting bars I put in there :). Well, I’m not a chicken, so what do I know about what makes a good roost?

    It’s been fun to watch them sort out the pecking order. The Black Australorp was top hen from the get go. The Blue Australorp is second although it constantly feels the need to remind the Rhode Island Red of that fact. The Ancona is bottom. I was a bit worried about it as it almost didn’t move for the whole first day but it has slowly loosened up and is eating now and moving around which is a relief.

    Do you know how much it costs to have a stall at the farmer’s market? I had a vague idea of trying to sell my books at one just as something to try. I have no idea whether it would be the right crowd for it, however. Maybe I could sell them in black plastic to add to the mystique.

    Did you see the kerfuffle during the week where the Australian virologists association put out something recommending the vaccine rollout be suspended until its ability to prevent infection was ascertained then did a 180 the very next day while the health minister reassured everyone that everything is just fine and nothing to see here. There’s going to be some fascinating propagandical (is that a word?) gymnastics over the next year.

  41. Hi Goran,

    Far out! Did you realise that down here we have 1.5x your country’s population, but here’s the joke – before the health subject which dare not be named, for the entire continent we were a bit under the 1 million flights every month. Hehe! Right now, it is not quite zero flights, but it isn’t far away from that number. 🙂 It is a surprise now to actually hear the roar of an aircraft, and the farm is not that far away from the major international airport. Here is some official statistics on the subject: Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia. Relatively speaking, you guys up there are still having a party! 🙂

    It is also equally possible that cost cutting, and loss of advertising revenues are causing the journalistic pursuits to make little financial sense. I’d imagine that media jobs are very scarce and also on very shaky grounds these days. And you’re quite right too: A lot of articles are paid for and that means those with the most mad cash to splash, have the most access to the traditional media. How could it be otherwise?

    Like the saying about trust! 🙂

    I recall Mr Greer making an observation many years ago which went something along the lines of: when common garden corruption can no longer be ignored or afforded. That observation stuck with me and it is proving to be true.

    Interesting. About 15 years ago I was introduced to one of the folks that Phillip Knightley wrote a book about. It was a very casual introduction and but a brief moment in time. And in another really weird coincidence of again no great significance, as a kid I used to deliver The Herald newspaper where Phillip worked many years beforehand. Afternoon newspapers died a natural death around that time and they were absorbed into the morning newspapers. I did the morning newspaper rounds to on my push bike. Some winter mornings made for unpleasant experiences with that job. But I got to see the news of the day before most other people did.

    Well, I wouldn’t worry about it. To me it appears as though the mainstream media has lost its way, but that’s cool, something will emerge from the murk. I note that the big interweb companies are suggesting that they’ll drop local news because they have apparently been forced to pay for them. Interesting things are afoot.



  42. Hi Margaret,

    Go Doug! Hope your firewood stocks are looking full to the brim? 🙂 People are bonkers about the subject of firewood, because you have to have that many years prepared in advance due to the sugars in most timber species. It just takes a few years for firewood to lose their sugars and moisture. I read somewhere long ago that the tree species that European settlers down under discovered which could be burnt green (unseasoned) – were actually burnt and are now extinct. From an ecological perspective trees that can’t be burned unseasoned have an advantage over those that can.

    How much difference does a new wood burner make? We burned out the steel plate in the previous wood burner due to, well we completely stuffed up the firewood story that’s why. I’d like to suggest that it wasn’t the case, but that would definitely be an untruth. However, it is worth noting that a person can learn from their mistakes.

    I so envy you not having such small and highly dangerous critters lurking around. The snake incident has taken a bit of a toll on me this week, but we’re adapting and I’ll write about that on Sunday night. And last evening I finally slept well again. Yay!

    You are very lucky to be able to still do so. Down here, most payments and bills are made and delivered electronically. It makes me wonder what happens to folks who have no such communication devices? I dunno really. I’d be uncomfortable to think that they’ve become non persons, but even the homeless dude who sells me the big issue magazine has a smart phone.

    I have nothing but respect for you in navigating those legal matters on behalf of Patrick and Michael. How’s Marty going in these times?

    That’s one of my pet hates. And their database details becomes your problem to resolve. Hmm. A lot of functions are being foisted onto users who have no ability to object, but on the other hand when things work, they’re easy – but if they don’t work. Ook!

    I’d never heard of prescription insurance before your comment. Down here the gobarmint purchases most medicines and then distributes them to pharmacies to stop such nonsense. Except that housing and property is crazy expensive, so we win on one hand and lose on the other. Please rant away! 🙂

    Did you score much of the freezing cold conditions that Lewis mentioned? It rained here today and the temperatures weren’t all that warm. Made a batch of Peach jam and the house smells like sweet peach jam which is very nice, but I had to open the windows to let the cooler air in as the sweetness was giving me a headache. The jam is very tasty. I may not have used enough pectin though, although it hasn’t cooled down fully yet. Oh well, it was my first attempt at jam making as the editor does most of that job. She’s off on a girlie night – girls need girlie nights from time to time! 🙂

    Poor Plum, but I’m with Salve! 🙂 I’m going to have to bop the rabbits – these dogs are not up to par. Oh well. More on this subject later.



  43. Hi DJ,

    Respect, I thought that the acronym may have been a local thing and only Damo and I would be laughing about it. 🙂 I often chuck in little chunks of humour here and there, and well, it makes me laugh.

    Hey, it ain’t just you. I couldn’t be bothered heading out on a Viking Raid either, and whatever, there’s too much to do at home. No doubt the Vikings headed off on their jaunts because they were bored with the local amusements? And anyway, I heard the tale that the ale and mead were not so good that far north! Hehe!

    Mate, your temperatures aren’t that far off what I’m experiencing. Mid this afternoon, it was 9’C / 48’F and the rain crept in from the Southern Ocean – mate those Antarctic waters are cold as. However, 77mph is some crazy wind speeds. I do hope that your roof is still attached firmly to the walls on your home? And also that the walls are still attached to the footings? Yes, steel is very useful in such extreme winds. Had a minor tornado one Christmas day many years ago, and watching the trees move in ways that I had not observed before was an alarming spectacle. A lot of branches fell, but mostly the trees bent with the wind. How are things looking in your part of the world? It is worth noting that few people in an urban area have chainsaws, and even fewer know how to use them effectively.

    Great stuff, and a nice cup of tea and/or coffee can soothe rattled nerves and resolve all manner of difficulties.

    Ah, once you are in the retirement zone, well if you hadn’t sorted out things before, mate you’re stuffed! Hehe! Good luck and I get it, administering life is complicated nowadays.

    Yes, Plum was hopeless – she ran off. The editor and I looked on in disbelief. The little bunny on the other hand grasped that a reprieve from hostilities was granted by divine fiat, and then it happily bounced off. We are not impressed. Oh, it’s not good.



  44. Hi Inge,

    It makes you wonder how long the ancient chained lay in the ground just below the brambles? I too find relics from the old days of the timber harvesters. And I have never found an adequate explanation for the two large round stone fireplaces sitting just inside the downhill section of the forest. Beats me, but they both would have taken an enormous amount of effort to construct. I planted an oak tree in one of the stone rings, and the tree is growing quite well. It is possible the indigenous folks placed the rocks there as not too far from that point is an ancient canoe tree.

    Oh, the other day in a town far to the north, I encountered a couple of epic oak trees which had germinated masses of tiny oak seedlings. I ripped out a dozen seedlings and they are now planted out in the greenhouse. I’ll get them in the ground during winter. I often amuse myself with thoughts that future persons will wonder what was going on here way back in the day (i.e. the present times). Hehe!

    Do you find any other old items in the soil?

    Oh, I’m guessing our old author friend, Maugham, had a touch of Asperger’s. His words are very telling in that matter. The book is truly astounding, and I’m thoroughly enjoying it.



  45. Chris:

    For some reason I hadn’t commented on your snake horror. Maybe my mind kind of skimmed over it as the last time we had to kill a venomous snake it was such a creepy experience; still gives me shivers. Anyway, I sure am glad that you escaped harm, and also the dogs. They, being smaller, might really have a bad time.


  46. Hi Al,

    Thank you, and the activities of the CBF are continuing to progress. I hope to have that job completed in another day or two’s work. But I am so done with collecting firewood from the very old wood pile – and we are not going back to those reserves until winter. It is an error to disturb such things at this hot time of the year. Yes, unwise to an extreme.

    Do you get bitey snakes in your part of the world?

    Hehe! Well, if you were an executive, such sections of the reports would be very meaningful and of highly personal interest! 🙂

    Ah, in this matter I’m old school and use a peavey to roll large logs. The peavey incidentally is made of the steel variant described as Bisalloy, and as such is super tough. I’m planning to get another such tool in that material – if that’s still possible.



  47. Hi Simon,

    Ah, who can fathom the intricate ways of our avian friends? Mate, this morning, the two broody chooks were sitting on five eggs on the ground in a corner of the hen house and behind the large feed bin. What the heck? Anyway ours is not to wonder, but merely to observe.

    Your words hint at the awfulness that is to be the boss, one must merely be the boss. And the second in command by contrast has to do a lot of fighting just to stay in that position. The Australorps are great chickens, although I have no experience with an Ancona but yes that is a relief. My first thought was that she may be destined for the big worm farm in the sky, but it is also possible that at this stage of the annual chook cycle, somebody sold you a broody chook? That’s equally possible. If you don’t have a rooster, then broody chooks are a pain. And they’re angry birds with bad attitudes to boot!

    No, I never really thought about the finances for the group – due to professional concerns, I studiously avoid such matters. 🙂 Mostly the crowd is, hmm, go and check it out for yourself. Having said that, there are themes to be observed – they’d make good book narrative fodder. Most books sold at such markets are second hand books. I once ran a stall at a sustainability festival and in order to get people to make purchases of seeds, I gave other seeds away which we had in plentiful supply and told stories about the seeds. We sold out of stock over two days.

    I stopped following that thread of news because it became (as you observe) like asking the Elves for advice and they’d say both yes and no. The upshot is that I have no idea at all, but yeah with new technologies I would not volunteer to be a trail blazer on the grounds that this is a prudent response given the circumstances. If other people willingly want to be guinea pigs for new technology, I’m cool with that.



  48. Hi Pam,

    Yeah, all week I’ve had a similar reaction to the experience. Like you suggest, it’s been a bit traumatic really. On the other hand I have gleaned unique insights and am soon to be making changes to reduce this possibility in the future. This may be the topic of next week’s essay, but not as anyone might expect it to be.

    And yes, the two smaller dogs are at most risk due to their youthful foolishness. Mind you, Plum was frightened of a tiny little bunny rabbit… Dogs these days… Sir Poopy or Sir Scruffy would have dealt to the rabbit. That’s their job.

    Sooner or later we have to become lionhearted when circumstances dictate that despite our fears and pain, we have to go on. I wish it were otherwise, but alas, it doesn’t seem to be the way of life.

    Made a huge batch of peach jam today, and the whole smells of delightfully sweet peach jam. Yum! Hope it set properly… It was my first attempt at making jam as the editor who normally does this job is having dinner with friends.



  49. Hi Lewis,

    I really appreciate you mentioning Joe. Otherwise I would be hearing about Joe and thinking to myself that the media had lost the plot. Anyway, how things rolled was that I read your comment this morning over breakfast. Right, so Joe is not a, but Joe is the racing pigeon extraordinaire. Turns out Joe was sentenced to an almost certain death by none less than the Deputy Prime Muppet. The radio news all day was providing regular Joe updates as the dramatic story unfolded. And oh yeah, the powers that be had it in for the hapless, but extraordinary pigeon. Also it turns out that your country has denied Joe’s existence as a citizen. The plot thickens. But as of late this afternoon it appears Joe may have had something of a reprieve.

    We take biosecurity seriously down here, and who can forget the international fiasco of the terriers Pistol and Boo: Johnny Depp’s dogs Boo and Pistol could be put down if they stay in Australia, Barnaby Joyce warns. The politician later had a fall from grace, as may have the actor who amusingly implied the politician was akin to a tomato. Crazy days, but yes biosecurity is real and Joe’s life hangs in the balance.

    One of the more unusual Roman uses for urine was apparently in teeth whitening. Hmm, yeah they can go first. Hehe! Nothing wrong with activated charcoal for that purpose. Actually I see that the Roman’s used to ferment the stuff. Oh well, waste not, want not as they used to say.

    The worm farm is very neutral smelling, maybe a touch earthy, but the only time it smells is if I chuck in a dead chook and then the smell of decomposition hangs around for a few days. I just ignore it, but the smell can be masked by chucking in some composted woody mulch. The worms consume most organic matter at a pretty fast rate. Curious visitors often get to experience the whiff of the worm farm and they generally come away from the experience disappointed that it didn’t smell with greater force. As a contrast, if you’ve ever smelled a septic tank, that’s an unforgettable experience.

    Well that is a new zombie for sure, and no doubt they are equally unpleasant. It interests me that not that long ago serious people in the gobarmint suggested that there are more than a few zombie companies lurking around the country. They did not then go on to explain what they meant by that remark. Down Under directors are held criminally accountable for trading insolvently i.e. not being able to meet the companies debts when and so required. Hmm. The link produced interesting insights into other parts of the world – it’s candidly not a comforting read.

    Despite your claims to the possibility of a lack of coherent conversation, you seem to have a good grasp of the subject matter. And your conclusion in the final sentence pretty much sums it up nicely. The other thing is that often it may not be cozy relationships, but it could just as easily be from a lack of oversight and/or accountability for poor behaviour.

    Once long ago I witnessed the aftermath of a fraud, and it was an interesting experience mostly because I was there to sort things out and had little emotional investment in the situation. But the thing was I could see how blame could be apportioned across the board in that it wasn’t just a single failure, but multiple failures at various points in processes and checks and balances. And then, the perpetrator of the mischief escalated his behaviour I’m guessing based on him getting away with A, and therefore adding on B, C, D etc. would not add greatly to the consequences. It was interesting to see, and easy to stop, if the checks and balances are in place – which they weren’t. Crazy stuff, but I see many sides of that story playing out in the wider society.

    Had a minor win today! Yay! The interweb connection here is via the cell phone network, there being little chance to connect up to the copper cable network. For some reason for quite a while, the antennas have been playing up. So I took a chance and ordered a real el-cheapo antenna and chucked it on the roof today. Far out, the improvement has been marked. So I ordered another el-cheapo antenna to replace the older and very pricey antenna’s. Dunno why change has taken place, but I just deal with things as I find them.

    Actually, the agriculture story of WWI boom and then bust was mentioned in the Victorian Farm book – which hopefully your library delivers to you soon – although the almost exact same story occurred in the 1870’s. I recall at the conclusion of the Annie Hawe’s books that the locals were ditching the tried and true old farm locally made and serviced vehicles and purchasing shiny new German made tractors. I wonder how that all played out?

    Ooo! I guess the mulched cane toad would be thoroughly dried out by the time it arrived down here…

    Had the low centre of gravity mower serviced over the past few days and they’ve done a great job with the machine. Earlier today I took it for a spin around the farm. Had a nice chat to the mechanics at the farm machine repair business and I always learn interesting titbits (not in the dictionary or misspelled in the US for delicate sensibilities!) of information.

    Beau was a sensible canine, and would definitely have made a fine addition to the fluffy collective, except for the biosecurity issues which are not insurmountable. Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy were lethal with the rabbits – I often wondered what Sir Scruffy was eating as he was a girthy canine of comfortable proportions, who somehow managed to acquire three bedding spots and slept next to the bed. Dunno how he managed that trick as no other dog has been allowed to sleep in the bedroom. After he passed on, for weeks afterwards I used to look for him in the bedroom at night, so I won’t allow that to reoccur. Towards his final month or so I’d carry him outside at night to do his business and before I set him on the ground we’d look up at the stars and just wonder at it all. Smartest dog I’ve ever encountered that one.

    Cats seem to be immune to some snake bites down here and so they can hunt them out. I can’t really get a cat due to the sheer quantity and diversity of bird life. And anyway the birds will also hunt and eat snakes.

    Thanks for mentioning those two Guardian articles and it is nice to see people reaching back to older sensibilities. Of course it is not lost on me that the people have adapted the older sensibilities as well as blending in current concerns, and they were at pains to make that point. I was surprised to see that they were occasionally trolled. I’d prefer to see people trying a whole bunch of different narratives if only because one of them will fit better than the current norm. I try to pick and chose whatever works.

    I tell ya what speaking of that. Preserving takes a lot of work, but if people don’t do the work, they have to do other work in order to pay for the same – or more likely, lower quality – results. We’ve all gotta eat, keep warm, and keep the rain off our heads.

    Your winter weather sounds pretty nice. The next week seems to be hovering around 70’F here.



  50. Yo, Chris – Well, in the case of Joe, I’d say he’s kind of a special case. Have a vet check him out, keep him in quarantine, but don’t turn him into squab under glass. 🙂 . Mr. Depp? Didn’t anyone tell him? That kind of smacks of thoughtlessness, and entitlement. Or maybe, cluelessness. I think you’re lucky to be an island nation, and able to keep Very Bad Things out. For the most part. I see some airlines are going to be cracking down on “emotional support animals.” We always had problems with that, at the library. I mean, a service dog is one thing (go service dogs!). They’re certified, as such. But an emotional support animal? Apparently, if you claim that’s what you have, we’re supposed to take their word for it. How about, at least a letter from a shrink?

    People get very defensive. One of our maskless wonders, here at the Institution, declared very loudly the other day, for my benefit, “Every time I put on a mask, my nose runs.” I’ve heard more lame excuses. She’s one of the one’s I ignore, and don’t speak to, anymore.

    I think I’ll keep my urine in the garden, or toilet. And my toothpaste in the toothpaste tube. Although, think of the advertising opportunities for the toothpaste companies. NEW! IMPROVED! Now with Urine!

    I should have remembered that about your worm farm. My old worm box was always sweet smelling.

    Certain segments of our government, in who knows whose pay, are always plumping for less regulation and oversight. Sure, some regulations are just bonkers (like Daylight Savings Time). So, you work to get them changed. But when it comes to finances and investment “vehicles”, well, the more oversight the better. I think.

    That’s interesting about the antennas. I suppose, it will just remain one of those Mysteries of Cyberspace. Maybe, between the time you bought the high priced spread, and now, better technology has sifted down to a more reasonable price range?

    “Victorian Farm” didn’t show up yesterday. But I picked up a few things, from the library. Is there anything in “VF” that I should pay attention to? That you might want to kick around? I picked up a DVD that sounded promising. “The Wolf of Snow Hollow.” A small town sheriff is faced with gruesome murders, always on a full moon. Is it a werewolf? The sheriff doesn’t think so. Or, a not so garden variety serial killer? Best line? “Buba thinks “Men in Black” is a documentary.” Can I recommend it? Well, no. It has a great premise, but it just doesn’t hang together, very well. And, the sheriff goes though a lot of histrionics, that just don’t ring very true.

    I know what you mean, about the absence of animals. When H went home after a month plus living with me, it left a gap. For quit a few days I watched where I put my feet, and kept checking the bed and chair, to see where she was. Even though she was right next door and I walked her three times a day. The fluffies do worm their way into our lives.

    I had thought about a cat to deal with the snakes, but overall, the birds are probably more effective. I still think a mongoose might be in order. Probably because …

    I can remember checking this out from the library, when I was a wee small lad.

    I think it’s odd (and a bit demented) that people go to the trouble of trolling people who choose to inhabit a bit of an early times aesthetic. I remember the couple in Bellingham, Washington received a lot of flack. For living like Victorians. Just gassing off the top of my head here, but I wonder if such people really know, deep down inside, that modern life isn’t as wonderful as it’s cracked up to be. And see a return to past ways, some kind of commentary on their choices?

    It rained a bit, last night, but now it’s sunny. The next week is supposed to be like that. But …I saw a weather report, that in about a week, we may see lowland snow. I’ll keep an eye on what Prof. Mass has to say.

    Well, the first round of food boxes, showed up. Things were tense. The Rev showed up later than usual, and Lazy Shiftless Jack, the maintenance guy had vanished with one of the two carts we use to haul boxes around the building. The lobby where we unload and pick up, is pretty tight, with tables and all. Two of the Ladies got into a screaming match. Lots of drama and more histrionics. Both are in motorized chairs, which makes a tight space, more tight. It was Suzanne, Who Always Has a Better Idea and Liz, Who Always Wants Things Just So … Preferably Her Way. I think it started when Liz, who doesn’t want to take a box home, and then bring back the stuff she doesn’t want, started sorting her box, in the lobby. Things escalated, from there.

    But, as far as the contents went, there was a dozen eggs, and some frozen chicken. The usual canned fruit and veg. Some cans of a good brand of chili. Boxes of mac and cheese. A jar of peanut butter and a box of corn muffin mix. And several packets of some kind of snack, called “Combos Stuffed Snacks.” “Cheddar Cheese Baked Cracker” (made with Real Cheese!) Purely in the interest of scientific research, I broke open a packet. Little bite sized crunchy cylinders, stuffed with some substance the exact color of the mystery packets, in boxes of mac and cheese. Even scientific curiosity could not induce me to investigate the ingredients list.

    There were also packets of those dried Roman noodles. Which is a kind of currency, in some of our prisons.

    There’s even a cook book.

    There was a landslide in our Columbia River Gorge, and a woman in an SUV was swept away. They found a few pieces of the SUV, but figure it’s mostly buried under 15 feet of mud. I also read an article about DJs storm, in Spokane. High winds, lots of trees down, one death, electricity and internet out.

    My local grocery store, beginning with S, has me rather miffed. At the bottom of every receipt, it tells me how much I saved by using my loyalty card, and how much from the weekly “Just for You” on-line savings. Those are things I’ve bought before, aren’t on sale, but I get a reduced price on. Then they give you the percentage you’ve saved. Up until Christmas, it was usually in the 20 percentiles. Sometimes, even over 30%. But since Christmas, it’s been less than 10%. Inflation? In general, their weekly sales flyer options have been rather … lackluster.

    Well, I wonder what will be in our afternoon boxes? That’s where we usually see any dairy, and fresh fruits and veg. Lew

  51. Hello Chris,
    Snakes are my least liked creatures. Our desert region is populated with the Western Rattlesnake. It is our only venomous snake in the western US. A serious bite but very rarely fatal . They usually retreat from human involvement unless cornered. I have had a few encounters that could have turned bad but didn’t.
    In my Hanford work. I was assigned to construction work in a rock tunnel placed horizontally several hundred feet into the side of a basalt formation the geologists call an Anticline which was pushed up out of the earth through several layers of wide spread lava flows our site was about 800 feet or so above the surrounding plain.
    Apparently some of the the most wonderful country around for Rattlers. I arrived at the site in early winter of 1979 when the hard rock tunnel construction was complete. The rattlesnakes were already hibernated at that time.
    As the the spring and summer arrived there were more frequent and numerous sightings of the critters around the job site . There were a small number of trained on the job snake handlers who were charged with relocating snakes away from the work as required. The effort was officially fronted as a no kill situation (wink wink). The handlers were armed with expensive versions of grabbers used by oldies like my self for picking up fallen stuff. They also had long sticks to direct the snakes movements. They had various bags and boxes to catch and hold as needed. There were no bites but there were more sightings than I have ever seen any where else.
    There were a number of the skilled workers who had life experience living in snake populated rural areas. They dispatched any of the reptiles they found if there were no witnesses.
    Away from that site the rattlesnake is fairly rare although most folks are usually on some alert level in the desert. Our highest mountain within 40 mliles is named Rattlesnake Mountain 3500 ft elev. mostly treeless and waterless and very few rattlers.
    The early days of white settlement there are accounts of community rabbit and skunk round ups (killing operations)
    When the Columbia Basin Columbia River spanning power dams were each completed there were rattlesnake roundups during the filling up of the reservoirs behind the dam. It was surprising that that numbers found fleeing the water were sometimes as many as 1 to 200 snakes. I never had any desire to go near such an event.
    Your encounter of the deadly Brown Snake would have scared the S**t out of me. Sorry to hear of that

  52. Chris,

    Naw, CBF is an Aussie thing. I just had the fortune to run into it before. Some things are unforgettable.

    I agree with Lew. You need a mongoose. And maybe a rabbit hound to take care of the bunny problem. And they’re good in rocky terrain, even though you are experiencing peak rocks.

    Yeah, this has been a crazy weird winter, even by Spokane standards. No idea what to expect. No roof damage or missing shingles on my roof. Two neighbors had some roof issues, one of whom also had a few downed tree branches, but they missed their house. Our area got hit hard in both 2015 wind events, and many suspect trees in this part of town had been removed before this nasty windy storm.

    A good cup of tea is never a bad thing. Today was a VERY difficult day with not job stuff, but we slogged through. Tea helps, as does chocolate. And we “just happened” to be in the neighborhood of the grocery that has a good deli, and we just HAD to bring home hot sandwiches for an early dinner. I mean, it was right there and we just had to! That means we also bought some sweet treats to eat over the weekend while enjoying…a nice cup of tea.

    Meanwhile, I got a large packet in the mail from Human Resources. Nowadays in our organization, we refer to HR as INhumane resources. I remember when it was the Personnel Department. Now Human Resources, as in we’re no longer persons, we’re resources to exploit. Some businesses have renamed this to Human Capital. Ummm, in our society, capital is misspent and wasted. So they want me to fill out the form that will take the place of my Exit Interview. It came complete with an addressed return envelope. But guess who is supposed to supply the postage for said envelope? Apparently they don’t want any further opinions form me.

    On to my weekend hiatus and more tea and time with the Princess.


  53. Hi Al,

    I hear you about the snakes. And you summed it up nicely when you used the words: ‘least liked’. I don’t dislike the snakes, I just wish they were elsewhere, and also do they have to be so horrendously deadly? But then reality has kicked in as after all there on average only two deaths per year due to snake bite on the entire continent. It is worthwhile noting that more people get taken by sharks down under each year. So systems are in place to deal with the consequences of a snake bite for both humans and dogs and we know first aid in such cases, but who knows how the scenario will play out? It is just unfortunate for me that I know people who have lost two dogs to snakes, and also a mate has a permanent injury due to misdiagnosed snake bite in your country. It kind of makes it all hard to ignore the consequences of a bite. And thus I feel a bit edgy, like you mentioned.

    And I’d be lying if I said that I hadn’t grown up hearing that: ‘the only good snake is a dead snake’.

    Thanks for sharing your story, and I can’t say for sure, but if I were in your shoes on such a job, I’d be looking forward to the winter months. Although to be fair you had folks around who knew what they were doing – and honestly, sometimes it is not a very nice thing to relocate critters into new territory which they don’t know and will have little chance of surviving, but if that activity makes people feel good…

    Sorry, but I had to laugh about the name of Rattlesnake Mountain given that there are very few if any rattlesnakes living there. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading about the reptiles this week, and they need access to fresh water, like most other critters do.

    Rabbits are a problem down here and if you get a chance, there is something of the history of this critter down under: Rabbits in Australia.



  54. Hi DJ,

    🙂 CBF as an acronym is pretty funny! We’ve all been there from time to time, and I’m guessing it is all just part of the human existence. I call such days: ‘off days’, when the winds aren’t blowing in the right direction, and your gut feel tells you that you should be doing other things with the limited time available.

    The truth is that I was spoiled and I had two rabbit hounds in the form of Sir Poopy and Sir Scruffy. Both canines put a serious and permanent dent in the rabbit population to the point that I had not seen a rabbit for at least half a decade, and maybe more. Now with the current lot of canines, a more mechanical approach to rabbits is called for. It is not lost on me that the war is long and eventually I’ll lose the battle.

    Thanks for mentioning the Pharaoh Hound breed of canine. I’ve never seen such a dog down under. However, over the past few days I have taken great pains to observe where the fluffy collective are sniffing and thus bringing my attention to err, varmints.

    Oh, do you use shingles on your roof? That roofing technique has been used down here too, although steel corrugated sheet has many advantages, whilst the cheaper ceramic tiles sort of apes the look of shingles without providing much of any practical sealing. Over the years I’ve encountered slate clad roofs on very old houses, and after many decades they produce a lovely substrate for lichens to fasten onto – and the aesthetics are superb.

    Sorry to hear that you are both doing it hard, and it has been my experience that time does in fact dull the emotions. However, forgetting is something that doesn’t happen, until I guess it does. Think of this time as something like an exam, it is unpleasant and has to be gotten through, but yes chocolate does help, and I sometimes bribe the editor with quality chocolates. If it works… 😉

    We don’t really have deli’s down here, and for your interest where they do operate they provide products such as smoked or cured meats ready for consumption, or cheeses etc. In my late teen years my girlfriend of the time worked in a deli, and she eventually went vegetarian although candidly I don’t believe that outcome lasted all that long.

    But availing yourselves of treats sort of sounds like a trip to the local bakery to my ears! Hehe! Good on ya.

    Mate, so sorry to hear that, but you know. What do you do other than go on to other and better things. I’ll tell ya a little secret, when I worked in big corporates I discovered inadvertently that HR is there to protect the interests of the employer, not the employee. Mate, you are getting close to D-Day and please do remember to take care of yourself and most especially of your lady during this time. You’ve both had a rough twelve months, and I do hope that you have some especially special timber with which to carve something befitting in the first few weeks of your next adventure?



  55. Hi Lewis,

    Mate, Joe had the support of the entire nation backing his most excellent efforts. I found it kind of hard to believe that a racing pigeon could fly from the US to Australia, but I’m no expert. Turns out that Joe’s ID had been faked. Tell ya what, way back in the day as an under aged teenager (i.e. under 18 years of age) I too was kicked out of one or two licensed (i.e. to serve alcohol) establishments for a fake ID. So therefore I only have sympathy for the plight of poor Joe – and in this particular case it would not have been Joe who faked the ID.

    There are ways and ways of dealing with matters, and I feel that in the Pistol and Boo gate, all parties were at fault. In some ways the entire affair was a lost opportunity where everyone was trying to strongman themselves and I guess came out of the affair looking like idiots.

    The thing is we don’t have rabies down under and that has been a long battle. There are numerous other nasties we don’t have like the Varroa mites in bees. But you know, globalisation has lowered barriers to entry and I guess it has to form part of the main story now and we just have to deal with the consequences.

    It was again a bitterly cold today which barely surpassed 59’F. Is this summer weather? Me thinks not, and I can only have sympathy for the folks who endured the ‘year with no summer’ way back in the day. On the other hand, the blackberries are going feral and I have never seen the canes produce such a crop. We made another batch of 14 jars of blackberry jam today, plus preserved another quarter year’s supply of plums. This time of year is feral with work. 🙂

    I’ve never encountered a dog being employed for emotional support, and frankly I probably need to get out a bit more. I wouldn’t even know what to make of such an arrangement. I see guide dogs and used to work near to where they were trained. Down here I see people tether their dogs to a veranda post of the local general store – then the owners go inside and all hell breaks loose as the dog appears to be suffering from separation anxiety. Instead of calmly remonstrating with their loud pooches, the owners return after some time, and reward the dogs for their behaviour. Beats me, but that seems like encouraging the anxiety in the dog, but you know I’m no expert and just have to deal with the loud dogs. I wrote about that long ago where I was the bad guy, and have not repeated the error.

    Mate, with the masks I just do what I’m told on the basis that it is easier. To be honest, I’m just glad that this year isn’t as crazy hot as last year because wearing a mask in those 100’F+ conditions would be brutal. There are no cases in the state and we are becoming increasingly isolated. A major airline ceased the route to down under today. Isolating a target is an old story.

    Yeah, that was my feeling too about the Roman’s use of fermented urine as a tooth whitener. Clearly the ancients were more stoic than us lot today, but I do note that activated charcoal have less ook factor.

    So true, and if your industry was being regulated, and the regulations were onerous, then the return on investment from having those regulations overturned would be like mad cash in the bank. With the financialisation of the economy I sort of point to how many perp walks actually took place after the spectacle of 2008? If acts contrary to the laws go unpunished, then you have to sort of come to the conclusion that they are possibly condoned – if not officially so?

    Nah, it is possible that over the years the frequencies that the interweb is transmitted upon has changed, and the old antenna doesn’t pick those newer frequencies up so well. My FM radio antenna is specifically tuned for the exact frequency that the youth national radio broadcasts upon. Strong signals makes for clean and clear music, although some folks may take umbrage at the use of the word ‘music’ in that context. Met a few of those types in my time, and they’re always happy to criticise.

    Victorian Farm was an interesting book in that the authors had to cover such a huge breadth of knowledge that I found each area covered only a few pages. The book I’m guessing was less of a ‘how to’ manual and more of a prompter as to ‘what we don’t now know but take for granted’. Also now that you mention it, the background history was fascinating.

    Hehe! Some people do actually believe that Men in Black was a documentary, although I am yet to encounter anyone who believes in the Lizard People story. Don’t blame ordinary human failings on extraterrestrials seems wise to me, although that may be an unpopular perspective.

    Rikki sounds OK to me and as a mongoose he most certainly earned his dinners, and breakfasts!

    Trolls, can’t live with them. I did read about troll critics today, apparently it was a thing even way back in the day. Now where was that… … So I was reading Mr Maugham’s thoughts on the matter of critics earlier today and he wrote: “I did not know how often critics accept the conventional view, and it never occurred to me that they could talk with assurance of what they did not know very much about.” A lively criticism of critique itself! The bloke has a sharp tongue, and is not afraid to use it. But yes, I too wonder that question as to the trolls fear of their own choices – they are weak.

    Lowland snow for you. Exciting! A light dusting of snow is always well received. In the alpine areas of this state (much higher than this mountain range), it snowed today. Brr!

    Is the Rev feeling well? Punctuality is I note, next to gawdliness. Jack, the name says it all. Please expect less in future. And to the ladies, this comes down to the core of all robots behaving badly stories. You may scoff, but I’m serious – just reach around behind (oh is that a spider at the back of the chair, let me help you) and just pull the cables on the batteries. That’ll fix that problem up. Makes you wonder why nobody did that with The Terminator?

    Now that you mention it, the Victorian Farm book had a recipe from way back in the day as to Macaroni Cheese like a poor man’s lasagne. I kid you not. And I support your scientific research – this stuff has to be tested properly and thoroughly. Yes, yes, I get that about the ingredients list: but was it any good? 😉

    The ramen story is sad. The English used to pull a similar trick on convicts transported down under. The saved rations were then on-sold to settlers once the convict ship arrived down under. Not good if you were the one on short rations for a long sea voyage. Apparently no convict transport ships were lost on that journey, although I’m certain plenty of convicts arrived down under in very ill health and hardly fit for work in the colonies. Australia’s oldest person Dexter Kruger celebrates 111th birthday in Roma. Prawns. Who’d have thunk it?

    Sorry to hear about the landslide in Columbia River Gorge.

    Hehe! Well not to put too fine a point upon it, but it was not all that long ago that I had to have a card merely to purchase items at the local store. Discounts, what are these things? 🙂

    What did you score in the afternoon box?



  56. Hi Chris
    Thanks for the link to the details of your country’s rabbit woes. I was aware but not to that level.yikes!!!

    Little more on snakes. I had a feeling of fear of snakes when quite young. For my first nearly five years we lived in New Jersey. Towards the end of that time my Dad ,my older brother and I went on week end walks in a nearby natural area that had parallel rail road lines with an abandoned mostly empty shipping canal from an earlier century. One day we startled a resident snake that escaped away down the bank. the slithering motion and shape imprinted me immediately. Lots of discussions and nature book pictures where shown by my parents. The snake dislike was in the brain forever.
    When my local youngest local Grandson was about eight or nine years old my wife showed me a short smart phone video that had the Lad with a rather large Boa Constrictor draped tail end around his back and over his other arm with his hand grasping the head from its neck. He was an audience volunteer for the task in attendance of a school assembly. I was shocked and dismayed. The kid when asked about it said” it was cool he was a really nice snake Grandpa”

  57. Yo, Chris – So, Joe is a bogus bird? There was some speculation that he hitched a ride on a freighter. Or, at least stopped on some, for a rest up and lay by.

    Rabies lives in many of our wildlife populations. So, it’s always a problem, here. But, you can’t license a dog, without a certificate of vaccination. Or, live here at the Institution, without producing said certificate. We have so many ports of entry, and so much stuff flowing in, that only a small percentage of shipments can be checked. Also, a shortage of staff.

    59F for a summertime temperature, here, would be on the cool side. Unless it was an overnight low.

    Nothing wrong with a bit of baking soda, a few drops of water and maybe a mint leaf or two, to brush your teeth with. That used to be pretty standard.

    There were quit a few perp walks, during the 80s Savings and Loan, debacle. But almost none, after the 08 crash. Which really wound the population up, a bit. What changed? Inside trading still gets heavily slammed, but that’s a whole different ball game.

    I’d guess “Victorian Farm” might have a good bibliography. A bit of “for more information see.” Baked mac and cheese is really the best. But, most folks go the more “instant” route. But, in our frozen food cases, you can get trays of the stuff, to pop in the oven.

    Those who can’t create, teach. Or, become critics.

    Oh, I’d guess the Rev was slowed down by the increased traffic, at the local food bank, where he picks up our morning boxes. Well, sure the junk food snacks were tasty. That’s their whole purpose. I’m sure they’d been run through several focus groups, to rate everything from the level of saltiness to “mouth feel.”

    The afternoon food boxes were … odd. Apparently, they had run out of small boxes, so we had these 2 1/2′ by 2 1/2′ boxes … that had about 1/3 of the space filled by content. There was a lot of dried beans and rice, some juice and boxes of breakfast cereal. A bit of shelf stable milk. Several cans of chicken. The dairy / produce box had no diary. No cheese, eggs or milk. But the fruit and veg was really nice. Celery, carrots, a nice green pepper, a bag of really nice oranges and a sack of small red potatoes. There was also a large pack of some kind of mixed greens. Which I will compost directly into the garden. We’ve had a lot of problems with that sort of thing, being recalled. Usually after it makes a large number of people, sick.

    A lot of our prisons have been privatized. Got to squeeze out profit for the investors. Usually, that falls on prisoner food, and thin, underpaid staff.

    Go, Mr. Kruger! I see he had a snake story, to tell. I’ve often wondered if I lived to a ripe old age, and someone asked me how I did it, what would I say? My two squares of dark chocolate, a day? My steady diet of blueberries and oatmeal for breakfast? My avoidance of high fructose corn syrup? More likely, good luck and genes. Lew

  58. Hi Al,

    Rabbits are a real problem down under. For an historical perspective I recommend checking out this very short video: A Year to Remember 1949: Rabbit Plague, Victoria, Australia. The township of Kerang is far to the north and slightly west of here but is on the same country train line. Frankly up there would be similar to the sort of climate you experience. It is a sobering video.

    Thanks for the story. 🙂 You know it is really hard to shake loose deeply ingrained programming, and like you I have experienced snakes in the far depths of the forests but this was in remote locales in the alpine areas, and had the lesson drilled into me from my grandfather that interactions with them would be a possibly deadly experience so best to be careful. This may have been a prevention is better than a cure policy?

    Of course with treatment available nowadays, the risk is reduced, but the hard won wisdom of the old timers has never left me. There is middle ground in there, but mostly I intend to… Oops that would be telling as to what I’m going to write about tonight. You almost had me there!



  59. Hi Lewis,

    You’re already probably up to date on the Joe the pigeon story, but just in case: Investigation concludes Joe the pigeon had a fake US leg band and won’t be executed, says Australian Government. But then it leaves the awful question: why was a racing pigeon ID faked? Is this fake news? So many questions are left unanswered, and sadly Joe (who knows the truth of the matter) may never squeal like a proper stool pigeon should. 🙂

    OK, so I see that a bird could rest upon a freighter and that concept had never occurred to me. It’s a bit like island hopping. I’d heard of seagulls attaching themselves to ships back in the day but never really thought the stories were true.

    Well, I never. Turns out that not only canines receive the rabies vaccination, but also humans can receive it. In all my travels to exotic and very dodgy locales, nobody ever suggested getting a course of the rabies vaccination. It is probably not even available down under. It gives a person the shivers, but imagine if someone began developing symptoms on a long haul flight? I still recall Conrad Richter’s description of the bloke who died of rabies after being bitten by the night dog. No good would come of that interaction.

    Interestingly we have a similar disease in the marsupial bat population down here but with only three known deaths, you’d have to be very unlucky. The insectivorous bats do reside here and are frequently seen in the evenings as they chase insects with the backdrop of the setting, but it would be extraordinarily rare to have a direct encounter with one – and if I do or the dogs find a sick one, I now know of the risk.

    A lot of the monitoring of sites in and around ports of entry to the continent are done by public servants and interested individuals. Even still, some critters sneak past like: fire ants. Pesky critters, but so far they are up in the north of the continent. The bull ants here aren’t that much different – very painful bites, although over the years I’m getting better at treating the bites and also seem to be developing a minor resistance to their nefarious activities. Still hurts though – and for days and days.

    Yeah, 59’F was a daytime maximum temperature. By nightfall we had to fire up the wood heater. Bonkers.

    Exactly, people used to make their own toothpaste. It’s not hard, and who knows what is in the stuff that gets flogged to consumers?

    I too ask that question as to what made the 2008 debacle so different that nobody served hard time for the misdeeds. There is a school of thought which suggests that if misdeeds go unpunished then they may continue. But largely, it does make me wonder if the alternative options to that 2008 disaster were so unpalatable that they were if not officially condoned, then they were unofficially condoned. It is possible that our economic mojo is not as good in reality, as we may spruik it to be.

    Ah, Victorian Farm – the clothes washing section was like music to my troubled soul. Ruth is OK by me. And as someone who occasionally suffers from contact dermatitis, I applauded her common sense attitude to the use of chemicals in the home. She brooks no nonsense, that lady.

    Hehe! Yes, that observation has been said before of critics. On the other hand, you never know what useful insights may be gleaned from a genuine critique. Of course, and I’d be curious as to your opinion: how do you know when critique is genuine and not some sort of social monkey games? Never quite figured that one out myself.

    Didn’t you mention a supply shortage in packaging for yeast a few months ago? Haven’t noticed any package shortages here, but many years ago I did make the prediction that Western Civilisation would fail due to a lack of storage containers. Now you may laugh, but we produce our own wines, preserves and jams, and that stuff takes a huge amount of containers – which we have to keep and reuse. Most people chuck them out, and if we do gift produce to people they rarely return the containers – and the ones that do, often they fail to clean the containers. Bonkers. And I ask people to return them, but no they just wanna do what they do.

    If a dairy box does not contain dairy products then what did it contain? Strange days indeed. Some of those fruit and veg items are in season in other parts of your country, and I’ve also noticed that the oranges this year have been superb – possibly due to the extra water falling from the sky.

    The greens story is a problem down here too, but I grow all of my own and don’t order salad when off the farm. It is not possible that a purchased salad could be better than what I eat here. Hep A is a drama on one or two commercial farms and that can make a person pretty ill and usually it arrives via sewage.

    Institutional living, can’t live with it … pass the beer nuts. Best not to be housed in an institution which supplies the food, me thinks.

    Your stories of a longevity program based upon two squares of dark chocolate per day are like music to my ears. Yum! But consumed early or late is the question here? I’d go early with the chocolate, but that is me.

    Better get writing…



  60. Yo, Chris – I wondered the same question. Why, would anyone fake a pigeon leg band? If I were a betting man, I’d bet Joe has the moral fibre, not to squeal. Birds and ships. The poem, “Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner?” Has nothing to do with birds, but somehow, todays ear worm, came to mind …

    Another that came to mind, was The Doors, “Horse Latitudes.” But a bit grim for a sunny, Sunday morning. 🙂 .

    Bats are very cool … at a bit of a distance. Once, in my squat downtown, I went in the back room and wondered what a bit of carbon paper, was doing on the floor. Then it moved … it was worse for wear bat. Now, we had just had a small child, die from rabies, in the county, less than a month before. So, I called the health department, expecting men in haze mat suits, to show up. They pretty much just said, Ho-Hum, and told me how to safely dispose of the bat. At my last place, I had one, once or twice, in my laundry room. But, apparently, they found their way out, as they found their way in. Another critter I have to remind myself is beneficial, for the garden. They swoop around, here, in summer. Eleanor usually has the telly, on, when I stop by for our evening visit. Thankfully, sound off and subtitles on. The other night, I caught a bit of “The Bat”, staring Vincent Price and Agnes Moorehead. “The Bat” was adapted as a play, from a book by Mary Robert Rinehart (“Circular Staircase”) and turned into a play in the 1920’s. Billed as a Country House / Mystery / Comedy. It ran on Broadway, for quit awhile. And was a favorite of high school thespians.

    When I buy toothpaste, I whip out my loop to check the fine print. Place of origin. Our neighbors, north and south, are one thing. The Land of Stuff is something else.

    Looks like dodgy loans are still being sliced and diced into dodgy securities. Which (surprise!) will also not end well. It’s different this time … 🙂 .

    Well, “Victorian Farm” did not arrive, yesterday. It must be a long and winding road, between our service center, and here. It’s been “in transit” for about a week. Might be on The Grand Tour. Happens, occasionally. Ms. Goodman had quit a section on keeping yourself and your clothes clean, in “How to Be a Victorian.”

    Yes, it was me that mentioned the yeast shortage, due to packaging, rather than product. Over at Mr. Greer’s, a couple of posters mentioned odd shortages, in different parts of our country. I always return canning jars. Clean. Eleanor has commented on that, and thinks it’s mainly, a difference between city and country people. Boxes of canning jars, still turn up at the op shops, and auctions. It’s the lids and rings that might get hard to source.

    We get two boxes, in the afternoon. One is dairy, fruit and veg.

    I generally have my two squares of chocolate, after lunch. Kind of a lunch desert?

    I noticed a new TV series. “Prodigal Son.” A New York policeman, whose father was a serial killer, tracks down othr serial killers. Shades of Dexter Morgan.

    Saw an article about farmland, in the US. Turns out, the largest farm land owner is … the guy who also owns the panes of glass, computer company. 268,884 acres, across 19 states. Lew

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