All or Nothing

A long term reader recently made the suggestion that I occasionally write about the random things which I observe in the big smoke of Melbourne. It sounded like a good idea, so why not? After all, it is one of my hobbies to walk through the gritty streets of the inner northern suburbs of the city. The usual goal of such walks is that of somewhere interesting to dine. You see a lot on those walks, and you see things which can’t be seen when flying past at high speed in a vehicle.

Some of the street art often captures my imagination, and the works can be really interesting. Even the mysterious artist Banksy has a work here or there about town. Often the street art is fleeting and can be here today, and gone tomorrow. This can sometimes be unfortunate, and I’m reminded of the Banksy stencil which was casually destroyed by a hapless plumber!

One notable house wall, had been spray painted with an astoundingly accurate image of an old mate of mine, but as a mermaid. The likeness was uncanny, and if you knew him, you’d know he was the least likely person to be a mermaid. The thick beard would after all put him soundly in Neptune’s side of that camp, but no, there he was on the wall as a mermaid. It was sort of hard to explain, and other people may have felt the same way, because sadly the work was tagged and sprayed over a few months ago.

That’s the nature of street art though – it comes and goes. And back in 2016 I was lucky to grab a photograph of a representation of the sadly missed farm dog Sir Poopy the Pomeranian. He was an outstanding farm dog, and with the merest of efforts (he enjoyed his relaxing time), he wiped out the foxes and rabbits who were foolish enough to set foot onto his territory. A mere week or two after I grabbed the photograph, the wall had been sprayed over again, but here is a photograph for posterity:

A street art representation of Sir Poopy the sadly missed super-tough Pomeranian

It’s not all street art though. Some of the nifty spray paint work makes social commentary. When I was a young bloke, social commentary scrawled on walls used to be a thing, although it is more rarely seen these days. Another brick wall near to where the above photograph was taken, displays the words sprayed in a rough hand: “Capitalism is very resilient”. I can’t for the life of me say what the person was meaning with their observation, but it seemed important enough to them that they’d spray paint it in large letters on the side of somebody’s house. Maybe they were being ironic, or maybe they expect the zombies to take over any day now? Who knows? Perhaps the slogan suggested darkly, that command of the English language on average, might not be as good these days as it was once was?

Regardless, there are no shortages of signs and slogans in those gritty inner streets. Sometimes there is a bit too much of that stuff, and it can be overwhelming for the senses. I guess putting up signs and slogans is a relatively cheap and mostly harmless endeavour.

On Friday morning the editor and I were in the big smoke, and we just happened to walk past a council building with an inexplicable slogan.

An inexplicable slogan in pink

Ignoring the fact that the very heavy duty closed doors during business hours on a work day is a hardly welcoming sight, my mind instead focused in on the bright pink sign. The proclamation of ‘Climate Emergency’, sounds all rather alarming and stuff. But then the actual words confused me because they failed to convey any sense of timing. Neither do the words imply any sense of place. I’m sure it is all very serious, but when and where the emergency might occur could be important questions to grapple with. And then conveying such important information to the average person on the street is probably a better use of the local rate payers money. Fortunately, I am not their English teacher, because I would have marked that effort with an: F for fail.

The next line in the slogan suggested that: ‘We commit to urgent action’. It sounds like a worthy call to arms when faced with a possible emergency, but who is this ‘we’ referred to on the sign? The use of the tool of comparison, is a useful when confronted by such words. The blue sign which displays similar motifs, specifically identifies the: ‘The City of Yarra’, although it is anyone’s guess as to whether the sign refers to all of the 100,000 or so people living in the city of Yarra, or the local government authority itself? The location of the sign outside a council building suggests an answer, but without further clarification, who really knows?

And again a lack of any sense of time is provoked by the words. In this case, the use of the word ‘urgent’ is actually a very clever ruse because that word conveys a sense of timing. But in the context of the overall sentence, the initial use of the word ‘commit’ sets the tone and suggests to me it is a future action which at best will be a pledge ‘to urgent action’, whatever that means. I’ve heard of people making plans to make plans and it is an enviable state of mind.

So I’m not holding my breath waiting for urgent action. As a young bloke people would sometimes suggest to me that it would be great to catch up, or hang out, or do some activity or other. And sometimes those plans eventuated, but often people just make social lies, and the plans never eventuated. But the words soothe the difficult sailing upon the social waters and people are more or less happy with that outcome.

Anyway, could you imagine the sort of sign which might convey a sense of timing and a possible course of action? How about this one: “A climate emergency is now in place. Run for your lives!” I guess that’s why I don’t work in marketing, people would get upset, and so perhaps the lies are better for everyone.

As a disclosure I used to live in that area, and I really love that part of Melbourne. But when you stop and consider the vast amount of energy, resources and product flowing into the city, and that is the case with most cities in First World countries, it’s a bit mind boggling really. By all accounts the recent panic from the health subject which dare not be named, barely made an impact on resource and energy consumption in such places, so whilst the words of the slogan might be soothing, I’m not holding my breath waiting.

A lot of work was done this week so that we can continue to excavate soil from the new shed site up above the house. The original steel rock gabion cage had been filled with rocks a week or two ago, and this week it was sewn shut.

The steel rock gabion cage in the excavation area was sewn shut. Ollie is in awe

Peak Rocks is real, but with all of the excavation and rock breaking work going on, we’re generating a large number of rocks. Another steel rock gabion cage was constructed and then placed upon the one in the above photo. The cages retain the soil at the end of the garden terrace.

A steel rock gabion cage was made and then filled with spare rocks. Ruby is super excited!

We spent a day drilling and breaking apart larger rocks into smaller (yet still large) and more easily moved rocks. That is a really physically hard job, and we’re now at the point in time where for every one day of excavations, we have to do a further day of rock splitting. The split rocks are then used to retain the excavated and relocated soil.

The utility area is becoming longer:

The utility area is now about 38 feet long

The second layer of rocks in the low gradient ramp project has now been completed. The project requires a third layer of rocks, and some of those have now even been put in place. Another day of excavations will see the surface of the ramp becoming much smoother.

The second layer of rocks in the low gradient ramp project is now complete

The brief fortnight of Indian Summer weather has ripened a good quantity of tomatoes. We’ve finished dehydrating for the season and so decided to make a batch of a dozen bottles of passata.

These tomatoes ripened in the brief heat of the past fortnight
A dozen bottles of passata were put through the electric boiler

The berries are continuing to produce, although we’re now down to raspberries and Chilean guavas. There are a huge quantity of kiwi fruit which we’re leaving on the vines as late as possible.

Raspberries are still producing

The Mung Beans produced a few beans, but even in a warmer growing season than this past one, it is possible that they are a bit marginal at this location.

A few Mung Beans were produced and harvested

The tuber crops have done extraordinarily well in this cold and wet growing season. The beetroots are unnervingly large.

That’s a chunky beetroot

Over the past week, we’ve had a lot of wildlife visiting the farm. A family of Gang Gang Cockatoos have been noisily hanging around. The local birds are complaining about this families presence.

Gang Gang Cockatoos enjoy a drink of fresh water on the roof of a water tank

Sometimes we get big stick insects here, but sometimes the stick insects are huger than huge, like this one:

A huge stick insect on the corner of a shed

Just two minutes down the road the other day we spotted a Koala Bear drunkenly glaring at us and daring us to disturb its quiet repose. They’re quite cute really, just watch out for the vicious claws.

A Koala Bear glares at the editor

Onto the flowers:

A Penstemon enjoys the sun on a warm day
A few Asters were planted in a very sunny locale
A new variety of Salvia was planted
The Roses have enjoyed the brief burst of warm weather
This is a really old school variety of Rose
Some of the Roses are real stunners

The temperature outside now at about 9.00am is 6’C (43’F). So far this year there has been 322.4mm (12.7 inches) which is up from last weeks total of 309.6mm (12.2 inches).

54 thoughts on “All or Nothing”

  1. Yo, Chris – Merman. Unless the street artist was so poor, that the pecs were highly overdeveloped. Like Aquaman. 🙂 . Now the sketch of Sir Poopy, was done by a highly skilled street artist. What “Capitalism is very resilient,” says to me is: like the poor, the rich will always be with us.

    As far as the banners go, just looks like an attempt at branding, or rebranding. Look at us. We’re the Good People. But you know, when they start scooping up the resistance, they’re going to say “Be sure and get that Chris fellow. He asks too many questions.” 🙂

    Well, me being me, I caught on to those social lies, a long time ago. Sometimes, just to be … difficult, I’ll say something like, “Oh, when?” How about next Thursday at 1:00.” If they demur, I suggest Monday at 2:00. I mean, they’re offering lunch or dinner, and I’m not going to be done out of a good meal! 🙂 .

    I think Ollie is saying, “Another day, another rock gabion.” Ruby? “Look at my tongue! Look at my tongue! See how far I can stick out my tongue!”

    It’s TEOTWAWKI (the end of the world as we know it.) Chris in two pictures without a hat! It’s a disguise, right? For when they start scooping up dissidents. “Oh, you don’t want me. You want that other Chris. The one who always wears a hat.” 🙂 .

    So what kind of utilities will be performed, in said utility area? Library extension? I’m glad you’ve managed to lay in a good stock of passata. Now you can face the winter, unafraid.

    That is some beetroot! The beetroot that devoured Melbourne? Well, killer tomatoes took off, why not beetroot? That must be the grandaddy of all stick insects. Imagine if it wrapped itself around your head?

    Koalas do look all cuddly (but mind the claws.) I’m glad you get them around the farm, from time to time. Nothing says “Australia” like a koala bear. The Gang Gang Cockatoos are really striking. Pity about the noise. The rest of the birds probably just want a bit of peace and quiet. By the way (because I know it would keep you up at night) the collective noun for cockatoos is “A CRACKLE of Cockatoos. Probably named for the sound they make when you throw them on the barbie (joking – please don’t barbecue our native wildlife).” Another definition was: “A bloody nuisance.” 🙂 .

    The asters are quit lovely. And, I see they come in blue! 🙂 . But they look so much like bachelor buttons, I don’t think I’ll bother.

    Those really are an old school variety of roses. I wonder who decided to fussy them up? Probably, Napoleon’s first wife. Just couldn’t leave well enough alone. Probably why he divorced her. Lew

  2. Hi Margaret,

    Thanks for confirming your opinion and I have no desire to deliberately annoy you. We’ve spoken about this topic a bit over the years, and for the life of me I just don’t understand the pressures that people want to put themselves under in those particular circumstances. It’s like something of a mystery to me, and the pressures derive from external sources as they actually are someone else’s idea as to how the day should be. But you know, you can only do what you do, and like you said, I too have discussed the subject with people deeply invested in the narrative, to utterly no avail.

    So I guess what will be, will be. It’s like an exam, you just do your best and then turn up.

    The day can actually be quite fun, although truth to tell the editors mum almost killed us both in a car accident on the way to the garden nuptials! We both yelled out ‘stop’! And fortunately the editor’s mum (who was a truly lovely lady who had at that time but a year remaining) stopped in a nick of time.

    Thinking back on it all, it was such an odd time where we seemed to be the only people keeping cool heads, whilst all around us seemed to be suffering a serious fit of the dramas. What do you do?

    I recall that you and Doug also enjoyed a garden wedding, or have I mistaken this memory? The plants were perhaps a soothing antidote to the seething pit of emotions! Far out, it’s not even funny.



  3. Hi Claire,

    Hope you are still reading? Just wanted to let you know that a copy of ‘The Intelligent Gardener’ now sits in the ‘to-read’ pile of books. And several hundred kilograms of agricultural lime and dolomite have already been added to the orchard soils – and the show will keep on going on for the foreseeable future on that front.

    Best wishes for the growing season. 🙂



  4. Hi Lewis,

    🙂 Happy to hear that you are feeling better after the second jab. I was a bit worried about you mate.

    Word on the street is that the antibodies need to swoosh around your system for a week or two before you declare yourself bulletproof (lest ye tempt the Gawds!) I’m heading off for the influenza shot this week, but there is like zero chance that I’ll see your style of protection for a long while to come. I’m unfussed by it as quarantine is pretty strict down here and cases are pounced on at whatever cost to the wider community. And yes, that is the odd development out of all of this – the influenza virus hasn’t run its usual nasty course and apparently less people have died overall as a result. Hmm.

    Elevator or lift is heard down here, although these must not be confused with the escalator. Imagine the scholars in four centuries time trying to tease some sense out of that last sentence? Being stuck in an elevator would freak me out. In the south of Vietnam we visited the Cu Chi tunnels and the bloke in front of me started getting a bit odd and there was no way around him. My advice was terse and to the point and spoken with the voice of authority: Mate, you just gotta move on. And it was super hot and humid in those tiny tunnels. I sometimes think about the soldiers, dogs and locals struggling in the depths of the Earth, and it evinces a shudder.

    I’ve never heard of a bank failing to turn up for a property settlement, if only because that is their bread and butter business, isn’t it? I guess there is always a first time for everything.

    The weather Gawds might play you foul there with that frost suggestion of a prediction. I just hope that you don’t get to experience the weird cold and wet weather which stalked over farm last growing season.

    Wise, very wise to have reviewed the signage handed down from on high. As you probably knew, they aren’t the ones who have to deal face to face with the public and possible misinterpretations of the signage. And yes, some people really try it on, and you know I’ve encountered a similar reprehensible response when trying to help people out. The old timers used to call that: Giving an inch, and they’ll take a mile. I’m with you, the answer ‘no’ may offend, but it also puts a hard line under such mischief. I get the idea. Nice one!

    Riggins is pretty epic scenery wise, but it might be a bit lacking in land for my tastes, and the winters must be harsh to create the sort of mountains leading down in water which are part of that territory.

    To be honest, I’m none too sure who is physically paying for the carbon credits referred to in the article. Things are a bit odd on that front and if I’m not mistaken a very large local brewer was swapping beer for excess solar power. I’m not joking either. Such trades are beyond my understanding.

    Fair enough too, given the conditions up there some years, I’d be seriously considering farming carbon (whatever that means) too.

    Yes, who could forget switches. 😉 For the extra oomph to the stroke, willows are also used in the manufacturing of cricket bats. Most of which are still made the old school way.

    Ah, Mr Forster. The embarrassing protagonist was neatly removed from the finale of the story. How much different an ending which appears in Mr Lawrence’s paramour character in Lady Chatterly’s tale written but a few years later? I failed to see what all the hype was about but at the time many appeared to have gotten a bit hot under the collar. And bannings are always good for sales.

    Hehe! The ketchup / water / cracker meal is a form of tomato soup! The enterprising sort could chuck a few vegetables in for good measure, some chili or pepper for a touch of bite, maybe an egg, and it would be Gourmet Ketsoup! I might trademark that name? They really do charge you for the packets, and canny folk have been known to share the contents of a single packet around.

    Merman went back to the Ancient Greeks – and possibly before them too. That’s a great observation! Like it. And so very true. 🙂

    The slogans raised more questions for me than answers, and certainly I didn’t come away from the experience with the firm idea that steps were being taken to combat the emergency. Of course if the emergency were a PR exercise, then they’re probably right onto that concept, but alas it is not a PR exercise.

    Hehe! Like your style with asking the hard questions as to timing. 🙂 Super-cheeky! When I was a younger bloke I tried forcing such arrangements into being through sheer force of personality – and it rarely ended well. Nowadays I’m deep into acceptance land, it’s not a bad place to be.

    Those two Kelpie dogs actually do have the longest tongues of any dog I’ve yet encountered. Their tongues for sure must start at the back their skull and the base of their necks. And when they yawn, the tongue gets protruded and woe betide those who get in the way of a yawning sheep dog.

    Loved that song about the end of the world as we know it. I feel fine, and am glad that you are likewise feeling fine. You’re on fire today too and you’re slam dunking the humour with aplomb.

    Well, the utility area will be used to neaten up the stack of materials which are kept on hand for projects around the farm. The farm is neat, but that heap of materials is far from that concept – and it’s not right.

    Thanks about the tomatoes – mate, what a growing season. And it was freezing again here today. One positive side effect of the cold weather is that I get to enjoy my coffee at the local General Store in peace. Sometimes, people fall out of the front door exclaiming loudly about how cold it is outside. That’s their problem, after last years take away efforts, I’m truly braced for 32’F weather.

    The Koala’s are pretty nice, and they look really healthy. That one had a distinct look in its eye which suggesting: “Are you feeling lucky punk?” I don’t mind the squeaky door sound of the Cockatoos, and the birds who live on the farm soon clear them on. The magpies are tough as. Only an Australian would come up with this concept: What is a group of cockatoos called? Very amusing!

    Yeah, the Asters don’t seem that hardy to me despite having been raised in similar conditions to here. My money would also be on the Bachelor Buttons.

    An unfortunate attribute to not leave well alone. There was an old joke about a bride who walked down the ‘aisle’ looked at the ‘altar’ and enjoyed the ‘hymns’. You’ve probably heard the joke before (and if not say the three words together). Anyway guys can be equally bad after weddings. Dunno why people get such strange stories into their heads.



  5. Hello Chris
    The street art dog is absolutely stunning, I love it. Which is quite something as I am not particularly interested in dogs.

    We are still freezing here which makes it hard to get on with anything outside. Spring arrived and then noticeably stopped.

    Today shops other than food ones were finally able to open. I didn’t go out as I expected it to be overcrowded.


  6. Chris
    That SS canner looks to be one heavy duty pressure vessel!
    Over here the seal rings are quite available for most US sold canner models in original red real rubber or what looks to be poly urethane or Silicone rubber which may be even better. I didn’t take my moms canner in her estate as I knew that my wife and I probably would not give it too much use although both had received parental training in canning skills. Something to do with three kids arriving in slightly over three years🙂

    That big batch of late harvest tomatoes may be the perfect media for a demo of the Big Shed Microwave/Vacuum food dryer😁just saying.

    Koala in a tree photos just cry!out! for good a caption.
    “ What you middle age love birds staring at” “you turn dem Kelpies loose while I’m up here scoutin for a lady me “ I’ll turn the both o dem into Yelpies u got Dat.”

    City hall banners: Boss commissioner to sign maker /painter person: how about some big Easter color Signs for the front prorch. Put that expensive screen printer you’ve been B!@#$%^g for forever to work! Ideas you want to me to do your G** dm thinking for you too?? Climate changey deversity stuff. Tasteful !think !man! Be careful what you wish for always a good idea😱

    This past week end we had special privileged grand dog The lovely golden retriever “Ms Olive “as our house guest. She who has never ever had single of minute of Caesar Milan’s excellent training. Our daughter called Sunday to see how she was fairing in her absence inquired “how is Olivia Newton Dog this morning” no disrespect intended I’m sure😁

    Cheers from chilly Richland

  7. Hi Chris,

    Yes, still reading and enjoying your posts and the comments, just busy. Now that it is warming up enough to sit on the back porch, we had Mike’s brother Curt and his partner Jackie over for Easter dinner. Meaning I had to clean the house for a change. A couple of days ago we had a friend over for a few hours; more cleaning. You’d think we weren’t still in the kinder gentler lock-down, but we are.

    Speaking of that unnameable subject, TPTB in our county just lifted the curfew on bars and restaurants, so they can stay open till whatever a.m. There are still capacity restrictions and the mask ordinance remains. However, Missouri is one of the better states in that regard; cases and deaths are falling. Mike has had his first shot and gets the second on the 23rd. I’m now eligible to get it as well; too young and healthy before.

    Enjoy reading The Intelligent Gardener!

    We experienced a warmer than normal March and early April, but it is cooling down this week. We might have a frost Wednesday morning – which is why all the frost sensitive plants remain on the front porch. I planted the potatoes yesterday and will be planting the frost-tolerant vegetables, herbs, and flowers this week.


  8. Yo, Chris – Something new. A couple of rounds of mild nausea, yesterday. Slept most of the day. When I’m through here, I intend to repeat. 🙂 . As it’s now light til 8pm, I might try and get out and pull a few weeds. Very few. No flu here, either. Now, a sensible person might think it’s sensible to wear a mask, in public places, during flu season. Given the data. Probably not going to happen. Not here in the Land of You-Can’t-Tell-Me-What-To-Do.

    Well, the overnight low was 32F (-0-C) But that’s the last cold night in the forecast. In fact, by the weekend, our days are supposed to be 70F+ (21.11C+). Prof. Mass has an post about clouds and the Chehalis River valley. Which I cling to the side of, and look down into. Squint hard, and you can see me hanging out my window, and waving. 🙂 .

    Well, news from Idaho. My friends have bought a lot in a ten unit cabin condo gated community, in Riggins. Investment. One bedroom with sleeping loft. They build them in a couple of months. They think I should come visit, and stay there for a month. I suggested they just rent it out to me. Forever. Not that that will happen. I looked at those slopes and thought, “Landslides?” Also, the condos are on the river. “Flooding?” That canyon is so deep, I wonder if a garden would ever get any sunlight?

    Ketsoup (™ Chris). There. You’re covered. Your fortune is made!

    Anatomical investigation has revealed that Kelpie jaws have two sockets, on either side. One for the jaw and the other for a little bone roller for the tongue. Kind of like a toilet paper roller.

    Ah, yes. Your semi-mythical stacks of materials, that no one has ever seen. Probably best. Some things that are seen, cannot be unseen.

    Yes, I’ve never quit “got” that people go into marriages (from either side) expecting to change the other participant. Bonkers. What you see is what you get. Saw a headline from that financial agony aunt, yesterday. “My wife drinks up and gambles away all the money. And my stepchildren are drug addled lay-abouts.” He didn’t notice before hand? It also never hurts to check out potential in-laws, for a preview of the future.

    I also just put the Merchant / Ivory “Howard’s End” on hold. I’m curious how the two compare. I saw it years ago, but don’t remember much about it. Then I may have to read the book. 🙂 .

    I read some more of Zweig, last night. He spent a chapter discussing sexual mores, and then his University career and being launched into the literary world, at an early age. The German/Austrian university system sounds a bit like “Lord of the Flies.” or, “Survivor.” And not the academic training. The social end of things. All that dueling.

    Zweig was published at a young age, in a prestigious periodical, and his family was impressed enough to let him run off to Berlin, Belgium and Paris, to complete his “education.” Which was pretty much to get away from the stultifying life of Vienna, and get down with the peeps. He reels off a lot of encounters with literary and artistic lights, of the time, who are now as forgotten as … Zweig. Lew

  9. Chris,

    Good to see the tomatoes are ripening after all! I always feel better when I’ve got a large supply of preserved foods in the pantries. (Spell check tried to remove the ‘r” from “pantries”. I am not a pervert, but spell check is.)

    The roses are spectacular. Thanks for sharing the pictures.

    On to the rocks. Ollie is looking “stoic”. I can hear him thinking from here: “More rocks. And more digging. Why does Master Chris do all the digging? He’s got dogs who would love to do the digging for him. And rocks. He keeps finding rocks. Oh, well, time for me to practice looking stoic some more. My stoic look is so perfect in pictures.”

    Meanwhile, I’m hazarding a guess now. Two photos with Chris of No Hat. And a picture of a grumpily staring drunken/hungover visitor in a tree. So the guess: does the koala now have your hat?

    Soon after my last post last week, the sky turned darker and we got 30 minutes of hail. Pea sized, none of that giant stuff they get in the midwest. It was fun to watch. Then more wind on Saturday, with 45 minutes of snowflakes swooshing by horizontally.

    After which came The Phone Call. Our medical people, vaccination division. They had run out of patients for open vials, so they begged us to show up ASAP, even though it was a week before our appointments, so they wouldn’t waste serum. So we did. And we got round 1. I’m still battling fatigue 48 hours later. The Princess is 80% recovered from her fatigue today. I’ve got a few other mild symptoms too. We’ve already cancelled all scheduled events for a few days after round 2 in early May. I hear round 2 is worse. The version of our vaccinations starts with “M”.

    I DID manage to keep the nurse who shot me entertained.
    Me: OWWWW!
    Nurse: I’m still across the room from you.
    Me: I know. I’m practicing.
    Nurse: What arm do you want this in?
    Me: I want it in my left, because I’m right-handed, so I’ll get it in the right shoulder.
    Nurse: Huh?!?
    Me: Princess sits to my right on the sofa. She will get shot in her left arm. We tap each other on the shoulder to display affection. I’ll forget and tap her and it will hurt, so she will want instant revenge. Might as well make it easy for her and have my sore arm closest to her.
    Nurse: Makes sense.
    Me: OWWWW!
    Nurse: I haven’t touched you yet.
    Me: I know, but you don’t want me to get out of practice, do you?
    Shoulder gets swapped and poked.
    Me: Wow! I hardly felt that!
    Nurse: That’s the way it’s supposed to be.
    Me: But the folks getting shot on tv? It looks like an oversize needle getting jabbed in there the way I’d be stabbing something with a knife! (pause) OWWWWW!
    Nurse: Now what? It’s not hurting already?
    Me: Nope. It’s fine. Practicing for when I forget and the Princess exacts revenge.

    Ok, energy burst is grinding to a halt.


  10. Hi DJ, Pam, Lewis, Claire, and Al,

    Thank you all for being such wonderful correspondents, but unfortunately today is that pesky middle-something-ish day of the week which can only mean one thing: You’ve won a free car! No, sorry just kidding around and you most certainly have not won a free car, instead it is the most dreaded mid-week day of the hiatus, and we shall speak tomorrow.

    But until then, Cheers!


  11. Hi Lewis,

    Hope you are feeling better now? And went back to sleep for some rest. Rest is good for recovery. Yeah, that ain’t gonna happen any time soon. Presenteeism is something that I have faced from others and there was that notable time when I had to work next to a young lady who had influenza. Not a mere cold, no, no! But the dreaded influenza virus itself, and both the editor and I went down hard for five weeks of utter household chaos. I was able to keep up the blog going during that time, but there were one or two nights of no comments and accusations of Man-Flu which were later retracted. The dogs kept me company during that time, and interestingly once I began to recover the editor then promptly went down like a sack of spuds and was then equally sick. People must have some sort of ability to hold it together by sheer force of personality for a short while, but then there must likewise be a cost for doing so. Have you seen that play out? And yes, I can’t access the vaccination for the health subject which dare not be named, but at least I can get the influenza vaccination in a few days time.

    With no cases, you’d think that you would no longer see people wearing masks. This is not the case, and many folks continue to wear masks. And interestingly up here in the bush it would be very rare to see someone local wearing a mask, but in the city it is a different story. I do wonder at that difference.

    Anyway, after all you’ve been through, are you doing OK?

    The weird cyclones which were orbiting each other in a rare pattern earlier in the week, destroyed two towns and then blew one of them further south than has ever been experienced in recorded history: The rare weather phenomenon which sent Cyclone Seroja down south.

    The winds here are roaring tonight, I guess driven by that cyclone system, although it is a very long way away from here (in the Great Australian Bite (sic) ). It’s good to see Chehalis getting the recognition it so deserves! And thanks to the good Professor I now know how sea breezes work.

    To be frank with you, I too looked at the flooding possibility as all of the land appeared to be on a flood plain. However, it is possible that the land formed via silt accumulating in those areas and once the river was even wider than it is today? Not sure, but it certainly stood out on the images, and you couldn’t really terrace those steep mountain sides. Good on them, and can they take the occasional holiday there themselves?

    Now that the legal formalities have been arranged by your good self, I say we split the profits 50/50 on the Ketsoup concept? Ideas being one thing, execution of those ideas is just that bit harder.

    The Kelpie teeth are rather sharp, and so I suggest if investigations need to be done to prove your bone roller theory (and I see no reason why the theory should not hold up) you go first. At best there will be a slobbering, and at worst a toothing! 🙂

    Speaking of messy piles of materials waiting to be sorted out. Some folks get clean up orders from the local council. What a hassle that would be, but some land owners are collectors of err, stuff and industrial machinery. There was a property not too far from here which looked like that, and the new owners did an amazing clean up job. Astounding, and today you’d never know what the property once looked like.

    Actually, I reckon it is both bonkers, but very common that people expect such things. The drinking and gambling is probably a whole bunch of fun at first, until the bill comes due (sorry to say). And there is this sense I see in others of trying to ‘save’ someone or that the partner will somehow change, just because. But my gut feeling suggests that if a person is in such a place, they have to save themselves. I’m sure your Club has much to say about that situation?

    In laws, don’t talk to me about in-laws! Actually there was only one that was a bad deal, and I dealt to him as I’d had a gut-full of his rubbish. He used to terrorise the rest of the family and he just kept escalating, and the mistake he made was giving me an excuse to get involved by turning on me. Then I could blithely ignore what everyone was saying and sort him out in a most definite way. And then everyone and everything quietened down – which was super-weird. I’ve come across dogs that are being forced to take up the alpha role because nobody else in the household will do the job, and those dogs are ratty as. He was like that, and it is not in my nature to play the alpha role, but he was a nuisance and could be easily dealt to. Sometimes the social games that go on do my head in.

    Good stuff, and I shall await your review as to the differences between the two series (and book). No doubt the years between the two series will display the prevailing sentiment at the time about the earlier culture?

    Hey, the rest of the Jack Vance collection turned up. Yay! Happy days, and so much reading. And yes I can now quote Chuck with aplomb, because the Fight Club book also turned up in the mail. It was a bit dodgy wasn’t it. 🙂 That wasn’t really a question because my shame is known and self confessed!

    Really? Duelling in those days at such institutions? Well, I never. I’m not really a fan of Lord of the Flies types and scenarios and might be inclined to use a bit of Sun Tzu techniques to bring them back into line, mostly for my own selfish reasons – I just don’t want the hassles that such types would bring. Who would?

    A lot of intellectuals from down under (and your country as well) headed to Western Europe for similar reasons. It makes you wonder if it was some sort of rite-of-passage?

    I skimmed through the book: This is me, Jack Vance! (Or, more correctly, this is I!), and noted that he was good mates with Poul Anderson and Frank Herbert. Imagine the discussions over dinner which that lot would have had?



  12. Virtue signaling writ large. The banner is just one more example of what businesses and governments have been doing for years now. I’ve just started Kim Stanley Robinson’s “The Ministry for the Future”, and while I don’t yet know how it ends, it shines pretty harsh light on the pervasive disingenuous verbiage we see endlessly.

    From global institutions like the U.N. on down to our own in denial selves, we just can’t fully follow through with what we know should be done in the face of our predicament. So it goes, as Vonnegut would say.

    scene and mood change: Spring is springing here, madly rushing about with mulching, garden prep, brush clearing, all before the plants I don’t want getting a foothold too close to the plants I do want. All firewood is now laid up for next winter and most of the next winter beyond.

    Daffodils, crocuses, tulips all up and telling us to take a breath, lighten up and acknowledge renewal.

    Many plants now started in the sun room and sprouting, last frost is not too far off! Holy crap time flies. Seems just the other day you were sharing about the plant starting in your spanking new greenhouse.

    25 sugar maples and 5 more apple trees on order and will arrive any day, so have been prepping for them also.

    Any favorite recipes or uses for currants? The ones I planted last year will probably be producing this year, and I had not even given a thought as to what to do with them as they were free for the taking and I had room.

    We are all vaccinated now, so might even stop eating takeaway in the car one of these days soon.


  13. Hi Chris,
    No, Doug and I were married in November so no garden wedding from us. As we are both the oldest sibling in our respective families we had several that were away at college so our parents thought we should schedule our wedding when they were home for Thanksgiving. We got married the day before my birthday and even though we’ve been married over 41 years Doug still confuses them.

    I envy your wild life. Ollie’s stance in the photos looks a bit like Leo’s.

    Turned cold here like where Claire lives. Would like to get the cool season seeds in the ground by the end of next week but we’ll see.


  14. @DJ and Lew
    Neither Doug and I had any side effects from the vaccine other than a slightly sore arm for either doses. My brother, Marty was the same. I had M and Doug and Marty had P. We were prepared for the worst and that’s probably why it didn’t happen :).

  15. Yo, Chris – Oh, I remember your Man-flu. And the poor Editor doing an imitation of a sack of spuds.

    I’m still very tired, and mild nausea and headache, come and go. I was going to go to the library, late this afternoon, but think it’s best to put it off til tomorrow. About a month and a half ago, the local newspaper stopped publishing Covid statistics. Elinor and I speculate that that was due to pressure from business. The county took control from the health department, as to reporting. There numbers are only aggregate, from the beginning of the pandemic. Buried deep in the health department website, are spotty weekly figures.

    But last nights newspaper had an article, that last week the count was in the seventies, the week before in the sixties, and the week before that, in the fifties. Also, that there are outbreaks in three long care facilities. No clue as to which ones. The reason for the article is that three counties have been knocked back a notch, on opening phases. And we’re trembling on the edge of doing that, too.

    Well, up there in the bush you’ve got those wide open spaces, and plenty of fresh air and sunshine. 🙂 . So, risk is a lot lower.

    That was a weird storm track, for your cyclone. According to the article, not unheard of, but unusual. The pictures of the damage was terrible. I wonder how much of it will be built back? Given the rising costs of materials. Over at Mr. Greer’s a couple of people commented on rising prices. Copper wire, particle board, lumber. So you’re stockpiling materials isn’t a bad idea. And now you’ve got the space for it 🙂 . I asked Mr. Greer about what to do with mad cash, since land is out of reach. His suggestion was to stockpile goods. But what? More dental floss? 🙂 .

    My friends said they’re getting flood insurance, on the new place in Riggins. Probably a good idea, since it came in so handy when their just finished off daylight basement was flooded by the Chehalis River. Doesn’t look like much of a place for a holiday. Depending on your idea of “holiday.”

    Well, as far as philosophy goes at the Club, one can only save themselves. And prognosis is poor for those trying to get their act in order, for other people. As far as support for those still merrily skipping down the road to perdition, abut all you can do is provide support, but also need to detach, so as not to be drawn into all the drama. A tough balancing act, but not one that hasn’t been done before, or won’t be done in future. And there are plenty of sign posts to pull that off.

    As far as social games go, the ability to say “no” and push back with equal force, seems to go a long way. As I’ve mentioned with fellow inmate “Dick.” Though he’s not much in evidence, these days. Rumor has it he’s shuffling off his mortal coil. But, on the other hand, I think reports of his demise are greatly exaggerated. (Mark Twain.)

    Well, according to Zweig, the drinking / dueling clubs were pretty much like some of our modern fraternities. A well placed dueling scar got you entrance into some well paying job or another, even if you had little talent or interest. Part of the price of entry into the Old Boys Networks.

    I happened to read “Greater Journey” (McCullough, 2011) about six months ago. It was about Americans, going to Paris, from the 1830s through the 1950s. Anytime the dollar was stronger against a weak franc, waves of American’s would descend on Paris. one could live very cheaply, there, on American dollars. Quit a few people stayed on, at least for awhile, after the world wars. It was where the intellectual fermament was. In great amounts, at a rapid clip. Also, many African American intellectuals fled there, to escape Jim Crow America. Other places had flowering of intellect, but Paris had staying power.

    I think sci-fi writers were a tight bunch, as they always had so much disdain from the Literary “establishment.” It was a support group. A mutual admiration society, when they didn’t get much admiration from society, at large. Lew

  16. Hi Inge,

    The depiction of the dog was really quite playful, and it was a joy to see every time I happened past and so I’m glad you too enjoyed it. The dog has a very serious looking expression on its face, and well it might given the depiction of the owner to the right of the dog (just outside of the image). And the aspect of the art intrigues me because the artist managed to display the full face of the dog, whilst its head is looking away, and the legs are an interesting perspective too, almost as if the dog has had to pull itself up rapidly from a run.

    Ooo! The book ‘How I live now’ arrived in the mail. I’m looking forward to reading it, but had already begun reading ‘Fight Club’. With the editors nice purchase of the entire Jack Vance collection (all 60 books), I’m going to have to take a brief hiatus on book referrals for a little while (resisting the temptation is perhaps a problem here!) One can only do one’s best in trying circumstances. 🙂

    Hope it warms up for you soon, but October is often cool here. The main event would be the following month. The experience of last summer has struck a touch of fear into me. At least in droughts the plants will grow if you’ve been prudent with water reserves, but the last cold and wet growing season was, an interesting experience to say the least.

    Glad that your shops are finally open, and I would do no differently. In fact I was queried this morning by a shop keeper (green grocer) as to how I was able to be in the shop at such an early hour when it is quiet. Crowds are not much fun.



  17. Hi Al,

    The SS electric boiler is an open vented unit, so pressures need not build up. Fly away and be free pressure! People love pressure cookers, but they rely a bit too heavily on the rubber gaskets for my comfort levels.

    The long lasting rubber O-rings (hope they weren’t anything like what was on the Space Shuttle) were a white colour, and I’m guessing they were like you say – polyurethane. The red rubber rings are easy to obtain down here as there are only a couple of sizes, but who knows what the future entails. Dunno about your experience, but we re-use them, but check for cracks in the rubber both before and after usage.

    You’re a better man than I, and down here they would say that you and your lady were both: Under the pump. Which roughly translates from Auslish as: being super busy!

    Nah, my mates of the big shed fame use their vacuum packing machine for meat, which they raise and butcher. Their table is as good as you’ll find – anywhere. And we can sing for our supper, especially when supper is that good.

    Imagine having to consume the diet of a Koala Bear. It would poison both of us. Ook! I believe the English word Koala was derived from the Indigenous folks description: ‘Old man, no drink’. Koala Bears can get by without drinking water, although after cataclysmic fire events they’ve been known to drink water.

    Mate, them folks who put up those banners display that they are possibly detached from reality. Ideology is a lovely place, and I hope they spot some unicorns.

    Ms Olive is hopefully enjoying the gentle ministrations of those who know: The Art of Cesar. Exhibit A: Ruby just tried to jump up onto my lap and was soundly rebuffed because her motivations do her discredit. Ignore the dog (with a tsk sound). She has now settled down on the green couch on top of Ollie, who loves the attention.



  18. Hi Claire,

    🙂 It’s nice to be busy, but not too busy. Dunno about you, but being too busy makes my head spin: Exorcist style. A waste of good peas!

    Good stuff with the catch ups, although the inevitable pre-visit cleaning can be a massive affair down here too. Oh yeah, and the amount the place gets cleaned depends on the social standing of the visitor/s. 😉 By the way, you are super lucky to have Mike normally undertake that job – respect! The editor is a lady after your own heart. 🙂

    Thanks for the update on circumstances in your part of the world. It’s hard to know what is going on outside the country nowadays. Masks are only required to be worn here on public transport even with no cases to speak of, and as a bizarre consequence, used car prices are going up and the roads are congested. Go figure, the trains by comparison are very pleasant.

    I appreciate the book referral and will begin reading that after completing the book ‘Fight Club’.

    Ouch! And I hope that none of the fruit trees in your part of the world suffer from the effects of the frost. Lost most of my apricot crop last year because of a late frost followed by a hailstorm. What a growing season…



  19. Hi DJ,

    It’s been very touch-and-go with the tomatoes and the weather. There are a huge number of green fruits, but I dunno. Looking at the weather forecast, we might not get another Indian Summer and it is getting very late in the season now.

    What do spell checkers know anyway? A day would not go by when the pesky robots try to correct a problem that was not even there in the first place.

    I appreciate your kind words, and it is a pleasure to share the ongoing story and images. 🙂

    Ollie is a gentleman of the finest breeding, and his bone (sic) fides cannot be ever dissected and interrogated by the public. The lesser folks know not what he his thinking, and candidly neither do I. He reminds me so much of the spirit of Old Fluffy the former boss dog who is buried in the orchard. He genuinely follows me around the farm, although he also has a lot of fun with his two ladies who run rings around him. And despite the odd face bite from those two rapscallion sheep dogs, they admire him and look up to him.

    Oh yeah, where ever was the hat? Note to self: remember the hat. I soon will get a chance to sport my best grey Akubra rabbit pelt hat in a setting that would appreciate such niceties. More on this next week.

    Ah, in this matter you are unfortunately incorrect. The Koala has its own concerns, and despite the cute fluffy face, I can assure you that he is leering down at us from the relative safety of the tree. We actually spotted him crossing the road, and so blocked the entire road with the car, and then ushered him off the road and up into the tree. Fortunately there is little vehicle traffic up here. Unfortunately I get to see a lot of road squooshed wildlife, but historically tis but a moment in time.

    Far out that sounds like super-cold weather. Brr! It is funny you mention the small hail, but that is what generally falls here too. At lower elevations though which are closer to the big smoke, the hail stones can be car destroying golf ball sized things which would seriously hurt. I’ve known folks whose cars were written off after such a storm.

    Yeah, the reports on the jab are candidly not good. You do know that this may be an every year thing? We are so far from getting any jabs for that health subject which dare not be named, that it is not even funny. I’m in two minds about the situation given that the international borders are mostly closed. The gubarmine might be taking a wait and see approach, or they could genuinely be useless at trying to get things done. And I’m not really sure. The vaccine is also being manufactured locally.

    Thanks for the laughs and I’m seriously hoping that you both feel better and fortified for the second jab.

    By the way, I like your comedic style! 🙂

    Remember to stay hydrated – just sayin.



  20. Hi Steve,

    Ah, thanks for the book referral. And I enjoy Kim Stanley Robinson’s writing. How an author gets hints of surfer culture into serious works of fiction is an impressive achievement. Vonnegut really experienced mass destruction and Slaughter house Five was a very dark and sometimes strange book.

    Good to hear that the weather is warming at your place, as it cools here. And thinning is a job that just keeps on giving! Well done with the firewood too. The summer weather will do a fine job of drying it out. It’s our only heating option, so I take that job and systems very seriously.

    Hehe! One day ye shall have yeself a greenhouse. They’re good, and the turmeric sprouted leaves during the recent brief fortnight of warmer weather. Fingers crossed the ginger over winters in there? Maybe?

    25 sugar maples! You set the gold standard, and the oldest sugar maple here is getting quite large. But not large enough to tap yet. Oh well.

    The currants (red and black) we turn into currant wine. It is a very tasty drop which I recommend highly. When the plants produce we have strawberries and raspberries and so there are better tasting fruits (those berries get turned into jam).

    Respect! And we never really stopped heading out, although take away on a park bench on a frozen winters night celebrating a birthday was not as much fun as it sounds.



  21. Hi Margaret,

    Oh my! Yes, I can well understand how an indoors ceremony came to be. You might get a laugh out of this, but we too had to work in between Uni semesters, and so the wedding was in July (think cold wet weather). Fortunately, we’d booked the Gazebo in the garden, but had to kick out all the non-participants (we’d paid for the thing after all). As you’d imagine it was a cold and wet day! But that’s part of the fun, and dinner at a restaurant was really super-relaxed.

    Doug’s a brave man to mess that up! 🙂 I’m not sure that it is appropriate to giggle, but I am sorry to say. A very old mate of mine is one day younger than the editor, and I swear up until maybe a decade ago we’d phone him up for some birthday congrats and he was surprised that we remembered. Of course he could have been messing with our foolishness. Nowadays I tell him firmly to respect his elders!

    Thanks, the wildlife down here generally won’t rend you limb from limb, but some of it will kill you right and proper. Best not to annoy them, and some of them are really colourful. I’m not sure I’d walk around at night if there were bears or large cats around.

    Timing and patience is everything. 🙂 It’s a gut feel thing don’t you reckon? The editor would say that I worry too much on that front.



  22. Hi Lewis,

    Yeah, it was funny for the editor until she went down like a sack of spuds with the same flu. Going to get the flu shot tomorrow, but the other jabs – who knows? I seriously can’t work out whether the gobarmin is applying the precautionary principle, or they’re just hopeless? Or some other reason altogether which I hadn’t considered?

    One day when the editor had the flu during that time, I arrived home from working and the place looked like a bomb had hit it. She just ate and then dumped stuff where ever and the dogs most certainly took advantage of the situation, that’s how I knew she was seriously ill (as was I only a week or so beforehand). A revolting experience and I’ve had the flu twice in my life. It ain’t no cold, that’s for sure.

    Yes, stay home, get rest, keep fed and well hydrated. You do what you’re told young man!!! 🙂 On a serious note I hope that you are feeling better each day. Mate, with each passing day we know less and less about what is going on in other countries. I noted that France drastically reduced the number of internal flights under the guise of reducing carbon emissions.

    There are no cases in this little corner of the world, but even so there are rumours of lock downs and after the four months of house arrest last year, people are fearful.

    Well, we are at one end of the extreme in terms of reactions, and you are at the other end. From what I’ve read the jabs take two weeks to be fully effective, although I’d imagine that there would be some efficacy after the second jab for sure.

    True, there are not that many people living around this part of the world. The area strikes fear into people’s hearts due to the cold winters – which I’d imagine you’d laugh off as being sub tropical weather. But no, they seriously do fear living up here like it’s the down under equivalent of the Bermuda Triangle! Haven’t heard of that place for a long while.

    The cyclone which blew south of the continent is hopefully not a sign of things to come, but with change, new interesting once only things can become a pattern I guess. The winds in the state of South Australia kicked off a monster dust storm and visibility dropped right down. Crazy stuff.

    Speaking of things visible: What were these lights in the sky over eastern Australia? Note the line: approval to send 30,000 more. Yes, what could possibly go wrong other than possibly the world’s largest pinball machine in the sky. Always wondered what the Alan Parsons project ‘eye in the sky’ was banging on about. That is the problem with mass advertising, sometimes you can’t forget catchy ear worm advertisments.

    Well talk in the media today was that the folks in those two towns might have to wait for two years before the place is rebuilt. Just saying that the editor and I built this house by hand on a part time basis in eighteen months.

    Don’t laugh, dental floss would be hard to replicate as the plastic fibres are super-strong. But as to your question, I really don’t know and just watch one system fail and then try and plug it up and put away spares. The other week, I mentioned the toilet push button broke because the mechanism need lubrication. Glued the button, but also put away a spare generic outlet valve and button. Of course toilet cisterns can be replaced with buckets, but historically manure was too valuable a commodity to waste.

    Flood insurance is a good idea if it is affordable? Those two circumstances: availability and affordability might not line up? Down here you can get flood insurance but it is bonkers expensive.

    The Idaho location was touted as a holiday location and there were many pictures of people with smiles on their faces, but they were usually fishing now that I consider the matter further. Hope your friends like fishing? I’ve always considered that hobby as a good excuse to take time out and submerse yourself in the environment – not that I fish due to the lack of water around these parts. Although I must confess that the local creek which begins at the bottom of my property has run all summer.

    Well, the skinny bloke with the sharp cutting scythe blade and the dark going out hoodie comes for all us whether we have a good attitude or otherwise. Dick may surprise us all yet and live to become a centenarian. I read of a blue zone to the south of you. I think they were seventh day Adventists or something like that and they loved a vegetarian diet, growing their own food and keeping active apparently.

    Do you reckon the frat houses assist with social connections nowadays? That is the spin story which gets parents to cough up the mad cash to get their kids into private schools. But I don’t believe the connection thing is true any more, it once was, but now I don’t really know.

    Ah, you mentioned that book at the time. It does make you wonder why there would be such endurance in the Paris-power effect? A lot of folks from down under likewise tended to abandon the colonies and drift to grey old London on a similar story. I was confused there for a moment as I’d believed you were referring to the Australian author Colleen McCullough. A mate travelled to Norfolk Island a year or two back and he tells interesting tales about the place.

    True, the literary establishment probably turn their noses up at sci-fi. Well it’s their loss so too bad, so sad for them.



  23. Hi Chris,

    I see now that my saying that I cleaned for a change could also be interpreted the way you did. I only wish Mike would clean in the house once in awhile 🙁 although to compensate, he does almost all the cooking. No, by cleaning for a change I meant that the house is actually clean for a change. I generally only clean when we have visitors. It’s been cleaned less in the past year than in any year before.

    The state of Missouri opened availability of the vaccine for what I can’t name to all adults as of the 9th. Tomorrow, the 15th, I am scheduled to receive my first shot. There is so much vaccine available that we choose our own appointment time from a list of open times at the location of our choice, instead of having to wait to be told when and where to go for a shot. In fact there is talk that there is more vaccine available now than people willing to receive it. Should be interesting to see how that works out over the next few weeks and months.


  24. Yo, Chris – I felt pretty good, yesterday. Though I did sleep all day and part of the evening. Yeah, I did know about not letting down your guard (re: precautions) for two weeks after the jab. And even so, that it’s maybe wise to keep them on, in public places. Works for me. Given our lack of a flu season, I’d say they do do some good. And, besides, I kind of like the masks 🙂 . I’m sure there are others who do to, but given it’s been so politicized, probably wouldn’t say so.

    Well, ya know, your RIGHT NEXT DOOR to Antarctica! 🙂 . Break out the dog team sled. Kind of related, but I am amused by the theories of ventilation, heat and cooling in this building. And other places I’ve worked. People work out these theories for maximum climate comfort, and then defend them with an almost manic religious zeal.

    I had heard of Mars Boy’s satellites, and seen similar pictures, before. Wouldn’t mind catching the show, some night. It hadn’t sunk in that he’s putting up 30,000 of the things. The pinball effect might be a problem, but, having lived “out a ways,” I must say the idea of dependable net is appealing.

    Which reminds me. You may have heard about our pending “infrastructure bill.” Saw an interesting article, about that, yesterday. Now I must say, it’s from a source that doesn’t support the current administration.

    Some of it I agree with, some seems pretty “out” there. But then, any bill that makes it’s way through Congress, from either side, has all kinds of “add ons,” that have no relationship to the bill at hand. Pot calling the kettle black. Those obscure add ons are how we’re ending up with creeping privatization of government services.

    I did a rather large order from The River, last night. A couple of stainless steel garden hoses, a (I hope) good garden trowel. Citron and unsalted shelled pumpkin seeds. And yes, dental floss. 🙂 .

    Yes, my Idaho friends do do some fishing. I see Riggins also has an annual rodeo, and some kind of arts/amateur talent festival.

    Yup. The Seventh Day Adventurers (tip of the hat to Archie Bunker), are a healthy lot. We have one of their churches, here. The Institution building manager, in Centralia belongs, as does one of our Inmates. Back in more normal times, if their church had a function, and overdid it in the food department, they’d bring some of the left over goodies, here, for general distribution. Some really yummy stuff.

    Oh, I’m sure some frats are still useful for their social connections. Especially in the Ivy League schools. There are also many kinds of … I’d call them, “affinity” frats. There are black frats, Jewish frats, gay frats and some that cultivate more intellectual pursuits and less socializing.

    Well, Paris. Besides intellectual fermament, there’s more a live and let live, mind your own business, state of mind. Many people just wanted to shake off the narrowness of the little towns they came from. Then, it’s also a very human scaled beautiful city. The weather’s not bad. And then, there’s the food … 🙂 .

    Yup. McCullough – not the Norfolk Island author 🙂 . I’ve read several of his other books, and they’re always good.

    Master Gardener’s were here, yesterday. They got the bottom of Elinor’s garden tank drilled, for drainage, land scape cloth down in the bottom, and got it part filled with soil. They also lifted it up a few inches, with thin paving tiles. The new tank has one side along the sidewalk, and Elinor is fretting about people walking along and picking her produce. Keep in mind that the only “produce” she grew last year were two tomatoes … which mostly went to waste. Unless I picked them and delivered them to her. Sigh. Whatever.

    Looks like the other stock tanks are back ordered, til fall. So, my beds are safe until things get harvested or go dormant. Lew

  25. @ Marg,

    I thought we WERE prepared for the worst, but apparently not. We’re preparing for Round 2 to be worse than Round 1, so maybe that will help? Time will tell.

    Doug mixing up the Important Dates…it’s a guy thing. We had been together 15 years when we decided to get married. The Princess decreed that the wedding would take place the same day that we already celebrated our togetherness. Why? “Guys are stupid and can’t remember Important Dates, so this means one less to remember!” Oh, and she demands twice the presents for That Day as a result of the dual celebration. Yes, she gets double the otherwise expected gifts. She IS the Princess, after all.


  26. Chris,

    Yes, your season is getting late. It would equate with the middle of October here. Late indeed.

    Spell checkers are right up there with “smart” copy machines. They were in the process of getting a new smart copier when I retired. The old smart one was infuriating enough. I never did cotton to the first smart copier as the indignity of a machine telling me what to to and not to do drove me to distraction at times. I often said that we needed a nice sledge hammer in the copy room to keep the machine behave.

    Bone (sic) fides is priceless. Thanks for that. And glad to hear the youngsters have learned to look up to him.

    Looking forward to the rabbit pelt hat story. Rabbit and hat in one sentence always remind me of Rocky and Bullwinkle: “Hey, Rocky, watch me pull a rabbit out of my hat!” If the old hat pulled up a koala, what will the Akubra bring?

    Good on you for 1) helping the koala avoid becoming road smoosh and 2) avoiding getting bitten and/or scratched by a drunk koala. There’s some respect for the koala and some talent hidden in that process.

    Yes, from Wednesday last to Tuesday this week, there were some cold events. These included waking up Sunday and Monday mornings to find the temperature at -6C. That is cold for this time of year. But that seems to be over. +18C this afternoon and heading for +25C this weekend. This year is shaping up to be similar to at least spring of 1977, which featured a very warm April and May. It could turn into a 1973 spring, in which it wasn’t only overly warm in the spring, but featured a Spokane record 89 (or was it 91?) consecutive days with no measurable rainfall. Knowing that is is already dry, I got out and filled up the bowls for water for the birds and squirrels on Tuesday. The birds are happily drinking today.

    Yes, I am aware that the jab might be yearly or even require a booster every 6 months, even. I had to pick something up at our clinic’s pharmacy Tuesday. Go in, and there’s a desk and a person. She makes sure I’m masked (I was) and then points to a paper and asks, “Have you been having any of these symptoms the past 2 or 3 days?” I said “No, but, umm, yeah, sore arm, fatigue and those 3. The Princess and I got shot Saturday.” She tittered and asked if it was the Moderna or the Pfizer. She gave a knowing look and uttered the proper commiserative phrases when I said that it was “M”, which she had apparently gotten jabbed with.

    We are both doing better, although the energy level has definite peaks and valleys. I tells ya, if this is just a shadow of what the unnamable would’ve done to us, well, I shudder at that.

    Hydration? That is one of the daily priorities for us both. Moreso in the wake of the Great Jab. I haven’t decided whether to refer to it as the Gom Jabbar or the Jabberwocky.

    Appreciate the compliment on the humor.


  27. Hi Claire,

    Ah, of course, apologies and thanks for the correction. We split the work 50/50, but there are just some jobs that affect me more (i.e. hay-fever from dust and dog hair), like vacuuming the floorboards and rugs, so I’ve taken those sorts of jobs on board to make sure they get done to my standards. No point making the editor responsible for something that I care about more than her! 🙂

    Not having had a dad around, my mum and sisters proceeded to house break me from a very young age. Woe is me, but I also do kind of enjoy the getting involved in the domestic economy with all that that entails.

    Good luck, and your gobarmint seems to be sorting out that side of the story reasonably well. I doubt I’ll get any shot for that this year at the rate they’re progressing – not that I care much about that story anyway. I doubt the international borders will re-open this year, not that I have any plans to fly anywhere.

    Received my flu shot this morning – the supply this year looks rather thin on the ground.



  28. Hey Chris,

    Maybe it’s better if the council doesn’t tell you what their plan for the ‘environment’ is. I remember reading the Melbourne City Council Mayor explaining how they were going to put waste plastic into the roads. He explained how cars wear out the road each year and wouldn’t it be nice to use this waste plastic in the road base so that we didn’t have it getting into the ‘environment’. So, council had mandated that 20% (or whatever it was) of the road would now be waste plastic. It apparently didn’t occur to him that when the cars wear out the road, the plastic would go into the ‘environment’ thereby negating the entire point of the plan.

    Random question for Goran if he’s lurking here this week:

    How do chestnut trees go in pots? I accidentally ordered one tree too many and so will have to put either an olive or a chestnut in a pot. I have an old bathtub lying around that will probably do the job nicely as a big pot for a tree. I’ve seen olives do well in such containers before but would probably prefer to have the olive in the ground.

  29. Hi Lewis,

    Thanks for that, and here’s hoping that the release of the Zombie films this year (nay, next month) lifts the awful curse of unholy Fernglade predictions gone horribly wrong. I appreciate you taking the time to look into this matter, and yes, you can’t go wrong with a website titled: NerdMuch. Yeah, they’ve got that business covered. 🙂

    Did you ever watch the film World War Z? Massed fast zombies and high expectations – never a good mix.

    Mate, I’ve seen plenty of people out and about in public with colds and blowing into their tissues, and I’m unsure it’s such a good look right now because of the circumstances. But I’m not the constabulary and the folks looked old enough to be able to make up their own minds. I’m not much a fan of the masks as they make my face hot and sweaty and my peripheral vision ends up being a bit restricted for some reason. As to the hot and sweaty bit I’m just glad nobody has pointed one of those skin temperature guns at my head after wearing the mask for too long. I’d probably get hauled off by some mediswat team for being too warm. Them – This one has got it, let’s grab him. Me – I’m just feeling a bit hot because of the mask. Them – Sure that’s what they all say, come along or they’ll be trouble. And so it would go and I’d be disappeared. Not sure that I’d enjoy that particular experience.

    Hehe! True, there is not a lot of land between here and Antarctica and the mountain range sticks up like a pus-filled pimple on the face of the continent. 🙂 Some years, it does rain here quite a lot.

    An excellent idea, but I’d try using the dog sled to bring rocks back up the hill. I doubt they’d manage the task given the motor which powers the wheelbarrow contains 5.5 horses (hope the half a horse doesn’t hurt too much).

    Mechanical ventilation in buildings rarely works well, and during my visits to businesses I studiously avoid such subjects. As a technology, it is just not that good. Imagine the accumulated smell on the insides of a space station – talk about stench.

    Doesn’t it always come down to costs and benefits? I’m unfussed by the interweb speeds, but note that things are better here than they were 10 years ago. Quite a few cell phone towers are now dotted about the landscape. I know of a lady who’s neighbour apparently allowed one tower to be constructed looming over her property, and she was pretty annoyed by the thing. I noticed that the neighbour is now selling his property. Hey, imagine the light show from 30,000 pinball’s in the sky?

    Politics is a grubby exercise in not getting what you want, but kind of getting something like what you set out to achieve. PJ O’Rourke’s quote at the end of the article was quite amusing. Hey, I like you guys, but do you actually have $2tn to spend? It’s an extraordinary amount of money. The examples were a mixed bag of what appears to be pay offs to indebted parties. Politics is an ugly business. I’ve long wondered how it came to be that gobarmint services shifted from being a cost sink which provides services to having to generate a profit from their customers? Makes no sense to me – that’s what taxes are for, aren’t they?

    Did you mean stainless steel garden hose connectors? I shop very carefully for garden tools as once long ago I purchased a trowel and the rotten thing bent on the first use. Terrible. We still make some stuff locally and I tend to stick to that brand, and most of it has been pretty good. Pumpkin seeds are very good to consume, although few people do so. I chuck them in the homemade toasted muesli. Dental floss is a good investment. When you need the stuff, you really need it.

    Glad that you are feeling better. We had to work on a bonkers complicated job this morning. Also got the flu shot, which appears to be in short supply this year.

    Looking at pictures of the town, there didn’t seem like there was enough flat land for a rodeo.

    Go Archie! 🙂 Some folks are rather adventurous and it is nice that Archie could point that out. I’d enjoy that food too. Had to laugh, your talk about bringing over leftovers reminded me of the leftovers we scored at the fire brugade (sic) meeting one night. The local branch of the country womens association brought around leftover sponge cakes and they were best I’d ever encountered. At such times I can do the hard yards, and I may have stuffed down three chunks of sponge cake. OK, it was four chunks, but far out they were so good. And they’ve set the gold standard for expectations which can be attempted, but rarely met.

    I’d probably hang out with the more intellectual frats because if I’d set out to waste four years of my life, I’d at least try do the best that I could. Partying is fun, but it eventually gets tiresome. People ask me about Uni nowadays, and knowing that folks driving forklifts are better remunerated than many professions, I’d suggest avoiding the time and debt predicament altogether. There are apprenticeships too which are a great option again.

    Paris sounds pretty good and walkable human scaled streets are a beautiful thing. I get that about shaking off the small town history, but that really has been the lot of our fellow mankind for a very long time. It kind of explains to me how people signed up to go and fight in distant countries. Little did they know how things turned out until they got there.

    Thanks for the clarification as to the author. Hey, I’m enjoying reading Fight Club. Having seen the film a few times I kind of know where the book is going, so I’m interested in the staccato-like structure of the paragraphs, almost as if the author were telling two stories at the same time inside the single book. It interests me that the mind can readily adapt to that particular structure. The words have a lovely pace to them as well. Plus I don’t necessarily feel emotionally invested in the protagonist as much as the other people who orbit around him.

    Ook! Well sometimes it pays to have something to worry about. 🙂 And the master gardeners did some good stuff lifting the raised bed.

    Saved by the lack of err, stock (please excuse the pun). 🙂



  30. Hi DJ,

    Yeah it is pretty late now and the weather is fast cooling, but we managed to pick another bucket of tomatoes today for dehydrating (the editor wants to do some more of these). Hopefully we can harvest more, but the odds of that get less with each passing day.

    What is a smart copying machine? You guys get all the best stuff over there! Imagine a smart copying machine that could do your job and take calls from the irate locals complaining about some injustice or other! Now that I think about it, the smart copy machine needs a pay rise for sorting all that out.

    Hehe! The two Kelpies adore Ollie, although at times I see them hanging off his ears by their sharp pointy teeth. He is very gentle with them at such times as he takes their head in his mouth and gives them the impression that he could bite them if he were interested – which he isn’t. Once out of the maw of Ollie, they go back to biting him again. He is very tolerant of their antics.

    Dunno, your word play is too good for me this evening and you brought out the big guns of Rocky and Bullwinkle! Can’t ever go wrong with those two, and Mr Peabody and Sherman and all the rest of them. And fractured fairy tales taught me everything I needed to know about dealing with the elder folks – leave them well alone and don’t accept gifts.

    Some of the wildlife on the roads is pretty spiky (think Echidna’s with their ant eater like spikes) and we keep a thick towel in the back of both the cars so as to pick them up and remove them off the road if need be. The real problem is that the council mows the side of the roads so there is always fresh pick there for the wildlife and so the animals are unfortunately drawn to such places.

    Oh my gawd! -6’C is frozen. Hope none of your trees had any blossoms on them because they wouldn’t like such weather. Climate is a bit of a mixed bag, and such rainfall deficiencies does not make for pleasant reading. And respect for leaving water out for the wildlife.

    Got the flu jab this morning, but as to the other one, well this year is looking like a no-go just due to lack of supplies. I’m not really fussed about that. Something will happen sooner or later.

    Yeah, well you and your lady are in a high risk group, so it is best to be onto that.

    Ah, beware the Jabberwocky (very appropriately named too – nice one)! People don’t generally drink enough fresh water from what I’ve observed. Dunno why?

    You nailed the humour! 🙂



  31. Chris,

    A smart copy machine is sooo computerized that it “learns”. And has a screen that shows messages such as “Are you sure you want to copy that?” or “I cannot perform that function”. The proper reply to the first is, of course, “Yes, bleep you! I want to copy that, that’s why I pressed the ‘copy’ button, you bleeping bleep of a bleep!” Some versions also can speak their messages. We turned off that capability on ours, probably because several of us told the Big Boss that we had no qualms causing physical damage to a reluctant machine that was audibly sassy with us. At least the machine never said, “Sorry, Dave, I’m afraid I just can’t do that.”

    We’ve discussed the enforced moves to smart phones here. They are too smart. The other night, the Princess and I were talking about something and she asked a question about it that I didn’t know the answer to. So, imagine that we were talking about Bozo the Clown, and Princess wanted to know how big his clown nose was. So when I started to gaggle this on Handy Smart Phone, I got to “Bozo th” when the suggestions started to show, the VERY FIRST SUGGESTION being “Bozo the Clown nose size”. I was NOT amused. Be afraid, be very afraid.

    Sounds like the Fluffy Collective has a good game going, one in which everybody gets amused. Dog ears are pretty tough. Chewing on a pup’s ears is one of the disciplinary tools used in a wolf pack. They seem to survive with ears intact.

    Leaving the elder folk intact is a wise choice. Fractured Fairy Tales provided a grand education about that type of thing, as you said. I mean, you see an elder folk or 2. It is NOT a good idea to trot over and say, “Yo, dudes, what’s shakin’?” That could lead to a Bad Thing. Sorta like the time a badger roamed into dad’s yard and started digging into the ground. My idea was to let said badger dig in, hole up for the day, leave when it was ready. And if our dog had to remain indoors, so be it. But dad wanted to chase it out. He made ME poke it in the butt with a long stick. Badger didn’t attack, but did let us know what it thought about being poked in the butt with a long stick when it was minding it’s own business and digging a hole: lotsa sharp pointy things called claws and teeth were on immediate display accompanied by a warning snarl. Not sure the elder folk would show the same level of restraint that the badger did.

    Mowing the sides of roads totally entices the wildlife to feast on the tender new growth that must result. I was driving over Snoqualmie Pass on the major Interstate 90 one evening after dark. There was a herd of elk chowing down on the new growth on the roadside. Not a good thing for elk or cars.

    The various microclimates in Spokane are fascinating. Our trees started showing signs of acknowledging that it’s spring about 3 weeks ago, bud no blooms yet. Not 2 km from here, the flowering crabapples and other trees are in full and glorious bloom. No elevation difference and the same crappy sandy soil, but a different microclimate for some reason. Our tulips are blooming, and the heather has been spectacular for a month, but those plants do fine with the cold.

    Good job on the flu jab. Necessary thing.

    I think people don’t drink enough water because water tastes like, well, water. People want more flavor, preferably sweet. I have to start the day with at least 2 glasses of water (20 ounce glasses) or else I won’t function. But that’s a need I recognized a few decades ago. I learned that from the legendary college basketball coach John Wooden. Apparently on game day, he had his players drink upwards of a half gallon of water in the first hour of waking up. Hydrate early and then hydration won’t be an issue during the game was the philosophy.


  32. Hello Chris,
    What a great slogan: “We commit to urgent discussion”, paraphrased from Life of Brian. Thanks for your dissection of the message.

    Virtue signalling is an important class marker, employed by ruling classes in all societies. How could they otherwise feel righteous about their privileges? I am often surprised by the “eco-” part of product names, like the “Renault ECO-Drive” product range of diesel cars, with little green stickers and blue lights to signal virtue and class, not to mention the heavy race cars with a T on the hood.

    I have to confess never to have done boiled canning ever in my life. I grew up with benzoic acid + sugar as a preservative in everything from jam to pickles. My mom led the three sons in a harvest frenzy to fill the shelves of the larder with rows upon rows of strawberry jam, red currant syrup, pickled pumpkin and elderflower lemonade.
    Later I enjoyed learning about lactofermentation, inspired by Sandor Katz, and for this year I will go for a glass conservation canner, to avoid the benzoic acid.
    I read that you avoid pressure cooking, presumably for safety? I also think that I prefer an open system. The most popular system here is the German “WECK” brand, so I guess that will be my first choice, unless someone can convince me to go for something else.
    I want to use 0.5 and 1 liter jars. (pint and quart)
    Anyone wants to share your favourite system?

    @Simon S: – most chestnut trees will die in a pot. They are pretty finicky when it comes to roots getting too wet. They can contract a kind of phytophtora commonly called “ink disease”. That is probably why they perform poorly in clay soils compared with excellent growth in sand/silt/loess. So, instead of planting the tree in a bathtub, give it to a friend or even better a neighbor, so that it participates in the pollination polka. By the way, which species/cultivars did you select? Maybe a post about this on your blog? 😉

    Spring is coming here in leaps and bounds, today I spotted the first swallows of the season. The soil also starts to smell differently, less metallic, more humic.

    Have a great end of the week!


  33. Yo, Chris – WARNING!!! Nerd Fest Ahead. 🙂 . Well, I quit liked “World War Z”, but, apparently, a lot of people didn’t. Looks like a part two has been canceled. I see George Ramaro’s son has picked up the mantle, and will keep the family concern going. Apparently, there’s to be a “Walking Dead” spin-off, to appeal more to the younger set. “Walking Dead: World Beyond.” And, three films and a couple of other spin offs. I am so over “The Walking Dead.” But, apparently the franchise, is still making money, for someone.

    And, from the “Star Trek” universe, “Star Trek: Below Decks” ought to land on my hold shelf, at the library, in the next week or two. I’m sure my local library has a hold shelf, dedicated just to me. 🙂 . There’s also to be another new series, “Star Trek: Strange New Worlds,” which will be a spin off from “Star Trek: Discovery.” It follows the adventures of Capt. Pike and his crew. Speaking of ODing on ST, there was this from last weeks “Saturday Night Live.”

    That was the plot of “Songbird.” Run a temperature, and it’s off to the camps, for you. Never to return.

    Well, wouldn’t you know ….

    “This source gives a maximum figure of 1100 kcal/h for a team of 9 dogs. That’s about [0.19]( hp per dog. So roughly 5.25 dogs equal 1 horse.”

    Beyond that, you can do the maths to figure out how many dogs you’d need to equal one power wheelbarrow. Because I feel a headache coming on 🙂 .

    Of course we have 2tn, kicking around. I figure, deep in the bowels of the Treasury Department, is a wizened old dude, chained to a spinning wheel, next to a large pile of straw. Rumpelstiltskin is his name! Spins straw into gold.

    Nope. It’s a stainless steel flexible hose. Someone bought one, last year, and I got to use it a bit before the Garden Goddess commandeered it and moved it around back, to water the patch she has outside her apartment window. Quit nice to use. Lightweight. How well will it hold up? Time will tell. Arms will be broken if they aren’t left where I hook them up.

    I have one of those bendy trowel jobs. Worthless. The Master Gardener’s have a lot of high quality tools we can use, and there’s quit a nice, sturdy trowel. But, I’d like one of my own. Of course, their trowel didn’t have a clue, as to the maker, stamped anywhere on the thing. So, I was kind of flying blind, when I ordered. Just tried to pick one out that looked the most like theirs.

    I noticed that about Chuck’s use of language. Sometimes, he gets on a roll. A kind of … cascading, driving run of text. I’ve tried to figure out how he does it, but have come up with no easy answers. Lew

  34. Hi Simon,

    Oh my gawd! What the heck? I guess it is a bit much to ask local council folks to think in terms of systems. Those guys love their rules and regulations… Hey, when we were in the city last week for the comedy festival, I noticed in Collins Street down near the town hall, that some of the old London Plane Trees had been hard surfaced right up to their trunks. So I have no idea how the trees were getting access to any water at all. And they unsurprisingly appeared to be dying back, and some even had notices that they were to be removed. Imagine getting the call for that tree removal job – Yeah mate, we got these trees as needs removing, can you come down and do it? Hope you’re insured? In the city there are so many expensive things for a tree to fall upon.

    Then the other stupid thing I noticed about the trees is that steel bands had been wrapped around the trunks and branches supporting electric lights. 10 out of 10 for ambience, 1 out of 10 for concern for the health of the trees. The trees were getting ring-barked as they grew. The amazing thing was that it was a surprise to me that with all that care and attention by the authorities, the trees were even remotely alive. That species is an impressively hardy tree.

    I see that Goran has replied to your question.

    Went to the Seymour Alternative Farming Expo today, and it was pretty good. Bought another half dozen chickens of uncertain parentage and had a laugh with the bloke about how that situation came to be. The Australorp hen was apparently a rather accommodating young lady with the Arauncana rooster and thus a new breed was born! And the Light Sussex were also a bit iffy in terms of their parentage. Best not to ask too many questions about those details when the chickens are on the cheap side of things. The half dozen set us back $220, so chookflation is real. And some of the more showy chickens were fetching $75 each. Cathryn did you a solid with your chooks.

    It is true too, last evening the editor and I went to the pub. Sometimes I disappoint even myself. 🙂



  35. Hi DJ,

    I’m sorry DJ, I’m afraid that I can’t do that! 😉 In my wildest imaginings it would never occur to me that software developers would create a user interface for a photocopier that provided a sassy attitude! Mate, I’m so with you in this matter. And as you’re an educated bloke, you know what happened to the funsters at the helm of the Sirius Cybernetics Corporation. Let’s just say for the record for everyone else, that it did not end well for them. I’m guessing that the smart copier was: Your plastic pal, that’s fun to be with?

    Gargle searches are mined for trends, and in this case once can be a pattern. So, after reading your fine rant, and if I had to rate it, it was a pretty good rant. Kudos! So, I’ve gone from the now recorded for posterity interweb searches of Marvin the paranoid android to Bozo the clowns nose, and now things are all over the shop for me, my social rating has declined, and I can only but follow on with the children’s entertainers ‘The Wiggles’, performing the serious song from the acclaimed local band Tame Impala: The Wiggles cover Tame Impala ‘Elephant’. I’m not suggesting that you are responsible for this total descent into weirdness and loss of personal recorded social ranking, but it kind of looks that way to me! 🙂

    The Fluffies keep themselves entertained and I can’t honestly say which dog is boss dog. I’m ruling Plum out here, but it is a toss of a coin between Ollie and Ruby. My gut feeling suggest that it is Ollie, but there are times when the two girls have him against the ropes. Ruby flipped him upside down today which is an impressive achievement for the smaller dog. Had a chat with a guy that breeds Kelpie working dogs today, and he confirmed my worst suspicions: Plum and Ruby were available only because they didn’t quite measure up as working dogs. Good enough for us though. He had three fourteen week old pups on display, and even I could see that two of them would measure up, and the other one… I took the blokes business card just in case.

    You’ve made a solid point there and best to not get involved with the Elder Folks, and at the same time also hope that their plans don’t involve you. 😉 Timing is everything with such wildlife encounters and sometimes other people attempt to implement their own time schedules which may or may not line up with the critters intentions. Of course, you could have suggested to your dad that time sheets and subsequent payment might have motivated you to evict the burrowing Badger? But lacking such immediate rewards, consideration of the consequences for an encounter with the sharp teeth and claws are hardly a proper inducement to act.

    The farm is located deep in a mountain range and I hear you about micro-climates. Some years the micro-climate is an advantage, sometimes it’s neutral, sometimes it’s a hindrance, and at other times – it’s game over, man!

    I like your hypothesis regarding water! Everyone is different in this regard, but I do wonder just how many people understand the internal signals when their bodies are requesting water? I drink heaps of fresh water.



  36. Hi Goran,

    My pleasure, and to be candid I noticed the sign hanging outside the public building and asked the hard question: What the? And thanks to you I’ve just sat through a short few clips from the film: ‘The Life of Brian’. 🙂 And maybe some other clips. Ah yes, strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government! Hashtag, just sayin.

    The beautiful thing about the word ‘ecological’ is that you can slap even part of the word onto something, and um parts of the meaning of that word stick like glue. There is an old saying down here which suggests that: If you throw enough mud, some of it will eventually stick. I’m guessing that it is a really old saying dating back to cob housing where mud was actually used in the construction. But basically the old saying suggests that the use of words is a powerful force to poke beliefs.

    I’d never heard of the use of Benzoic Acid as a preserving agent before, but also note that the compound has been in constant use for many centuries. Boiled bottling (canning in US parlance) is pretty easy, and avoids the use of the acid. However, you do still need to add sugar so as to lower the pH. I’ve read somewhere that back in the day, fruits and vegetables contained higher acid, and so required less sugar and lower temperatures than the produce today.

    The glass bottles are very re-usable and the youngest of the glass bottles here are now 40 to 50 years old. Stainless steel lids will outlast you and I, as will the metal clips which are only used during the boiling process. The tin based lids tend to corrode from my experience and I now avoid them. The rubber rings are the weak point in the system, and they have to be replaced every few years, although I’ve been told that they are a use once item.

    The dominant company down here which has been operating for over a century is: Fowlers Vacola.

    🙂 I too have the Sandor Katz book, and before all the ongoing health subject which dare not be named, I may have had the chance to meet the bloke. Alas, the tides of fate moved against us all.

    Thanks for mentioning the German brand. The local versions differ in the use of the smaller rubber o-rings and the stainless steel lids which like jam jars seal into place after boiling and don’t require clips once removed from the boiler. The stainless steel lids use pressure to stick to the glass bottle and there is no thread.

    If I had to choose, I’d pick bottles with side walls that are straight up and down if only because they will be easier to clean. Some of the more fancy shapes might not be as easy to clean, but from a performance perspective the shape will have little difference on the outcome.

    Hope you find that to be useful? We’ve been using a boiler to bottle fruit for about a decade now, and the bottled fruit keeps well for autumn, winter and the hungry part of spring.



  37. Hi Lewis,

    Ain’t nothing finer than a full on Nerd-Alert! And one that contains zombies, well, that’s like catnip. World War Z was intense as I watched the Jerusalem scene and the zombies just didn’t give up. I can’t imagine what the fans were upset about – the bit I watched was utter mayhem which only the very lucky could survive. Fast zombies, can’t live with them, pass the beer nuts. 😉 My blood pressure has certainly risen quite a few notches after being exposed to such rapid undead. I too noted that the sequel was put on hold or cancelled – the scene I watched would have cost a small fortune to make.

    So why was the film panned by fans given it was based on much loved books. Turns out that sometimes you can ask the interweb, and specific answers to nerd-related questions are answered in full glory: Everything Wrong With World War Z In 6 Minutes Or Less. As a former reviewer, I have to ask you the super tough question: is it right to get so much enjoyment from a negative review?

    Thanks for the Star Trek SNL link, but it was not intended for people living in the land of down under and the big gargle machine blocked me from watching it. Party Poopers! Seems that there is a lot of life in the Star Trek franchise, and so why not get back to their roots?

    Hehe! Yeah, well picked and you mentioned the Songbird trailer to me in the midst of the four month lock down last year – and as you’d imagine the concept left quite the impression! Guess it also goes to prove that timing has a place in delivering a narrative?

    Anyway you look at the story, (1100 kcal/hr)/9 in horsepower, is a bucket load of food preferably some of which is fried, just to stack on to the energy pile. The energy equation is not lost on me and we have plans to dig tomorrow.

    Speaking of World War RatZ, the cheeky scamps have breached the outer defences of the impenetrable chicken enclosure. And as you’d imagine, the RatZ are of course: fast. I left what I thought was an inconsequential gap at the front of the enclosure high up and it turns out that it was consequential, and the rats are taking advantage of the gap. I guess the food prize is worth it for the rats.

    Went to a farm expo today up in the town Seymour, which is a bit over an hour to the north and east of here. Had a great time, and lunch was Chili Cheese Kransky sausages with cheese, mustard, fried onions in a bun. The sausages were cooked over an open charcoal grill and they were superb. Yum! Checked out the agricultural pursuits and discovered that the two Kelpie dogs here really are the rejects (but that’s totally fine with us) as we talked with a breeder who incidentally sells his rejects (is it tempting to collect the set?), watched a snake handler, saw a couple who train show dogs (as in performing dogs like catching Frisbees, jumping and running around courses), checked out farm equipment, bought some stuff, and picked up six new chickens courtesy of that areas local poultry group. All up, a fun day. And we had to get up before the sun had risen. Who knew that it was that dark early in the morning? 🙂

    It looks like one of the new chickens is tough enough to take on the might of the existing chicken collective. And the feathers just flew! Went in to the chicken enclosure just after the sun had set to place the new chickens in the hen house, and that was when I discovered the rat incursion.

    Rumpelstiltskin was dealt a rough hand by those who sought to benefit from that play without paying the agreed price. I began reading the brothers Grimm collected stories, and really didn’t enjoy them. If Rumpelstiltskin could arrange that straw was woven into gold, well he ain’t to be messed around with. I’ll bet the original version of that story didn’t end up so neatly for the Queen.

    I’ve never heard of such a hose. Fascinating and I assume the stainless steel is a form of braiding and protection of the hose underneath? Hoses, storing water are moving water around the place are some of the great advantages we have over our forebears. It doesn’t sound like much, but it is an immense advantage. Oh, there was a well drilling bloke at the expo today too. The drill rig on the back of the truck was very impressive and expensive looking.

    That’s the awful thing isn’t it? Until you’ve destroyed tools and machines or they’ve come to the end of their life, it is really difficult to tell which items are going to be hardy and go the distance. I’ve got a feel for the possibility that something may last based on experience, but I don’t really know for sure. Oh, I picked up another Peavey (log roller) made from Bisalloy steel. It matches the original tool, and now with two of the devices we’ll be able to roll some seriously large logs.

    I’m observing the methodology of the written words, but at the same time I’m also enjoying the story. I can’t say that I’ve seen such a technique used before, and it works – although as an author you wouldn’t want to get the two concurrent stories too far apart – it would kind of be like dancing a waltz. The concurrent stories actually complement each other. For all we know, the author penned each story separately, and then just blended them? Imagine being Chuck’s editor! 🙂



  38. Yo, Chris – I thought the 6 minute critique of World War Z was rather … quibbling. Just kick back, eat the popcorn, and enjoy the ride! But the real reviews of the film I saw … well, the main complaint seemed to be, as you mentioned, it just didn’t live up to the book. But what movie, does? So that’s kind of a given.

    Sorry about the Gargle ban. Wonder if that will apply to all U Tub vids?

    With rats, there are no inconsequential gaps. Rats can get through a 20mm hole.

    My friends in Idaho reported more supply line problems …

    “Got new glasses ordered today. They’re 3 weeks out. Then we went to check out the furniture store. With foam shortages there’s now shortages of furniture. Our store has mattresses in stock but the price, barf. Saw one 36″ table and 4 chairs, nothing special…over $460, their last one and the price is going up on future orders. Wish we had Garrisons to go to and pick up some antiques. So we’re planning on hitting thrift, secondhand and antique stores. I’m looking for a 36” round pedestal/clawfoot table and 4 chairs. Gonna keep an eye on Craigslist too. Now furniture orders are 2+ months out. 🙄 Still have no word on when my refrigerator is coming. What can one do??? Guess need to have “no” expectations and act totally surprised when it finally gets here. 🥳 So it goes in Idaho,

    For a lot of psychological reasons, they’ve always bought new. They’re families, and the town they’re from, never thought they’d amount to much. They’re the most successful of the lot. But, to prove that, they’ve got to show a lot of flash. So they think. Just my curbside psychoanalysis. New, but they’ve always shopped around and got the best deal / value / quality for the money. As much as you can, with new.

    We were talking about maps, a few days ago. Word from the Wonderful World of Archaeology.

    A 4,000 year old map. And they didn’t even need GPS.

    $220 for six chicks? Yikes! Do they lay golden eggs?

    It hit 73F (22.77C) yesterday. It will be warmer, this weekend.

    That roll that Chuck gets on. Can’t say I’ve seen that, either.

    Further up, you were talking about rules and regulations. I finished Zweig’s “The World of Yesterday.” He was talking (from the viewpoint of 1939) about how young people were always surprised when he’d mention that before 1914, passports really didn’t exist. If you wanted to travel, you just got on a train or boat, and traveled. Interesting. I had never thought of that, before. Lew

  39. Chris,

    In fairness to the software developers (this time), I probably read some sass into the comments they programmed. However, to press the “copy” button and to have a voice or a written message that says “are you sure you want to copy?” is totally unnecessary and sassy, at least in my book. At least there was a means to turn off that “feature” without resorting to a sledge hammer. “When in doubt, don’t muck about, pull a bigger hammer out” is a quote I’ve seen attributed to Thor Odinsson. 😉

    Plastic pal who’s fun to be with? Share and enjoy!

    That Wiggles song was painful! The onsite breakfast at an hotel we used to frequent had a tv in the dining area. A family with young children had it turned to “Doodlebops” one morning. Their song also was painful.

    Suggest something about timesheets and payment to my dad? Bwahahaha! I’d rather face the angry badger! Dad’s reaction to such a suggestion would’ve made the Doodlebops song seem sane!

    Water is good. Dehydration is bad. The yard told me to start adding water today, as it doesn’t want to be dehydrated. I listened. After all, if I can listen to the needs of the birds and squirrels, I can listen to the other living beings in the yard. Listening is a good skill to develop.

    Gotta go. The Princess just informed me that dinner will be some form of take out.


  40. @ Goran

    Thanks for that. How about espaliering a chestnut? I have a long narrow space on the side of the house that I’ve been considering as an area of espaliered trees. Couldn’t find much on google about the idea but this post seems to suggest it could work –

    Have you ever tried it?

    @ Chris

    I remember hearing that Melbourne City Council was going to get rid of the plane trees cos of the problems they cause for that couple of weeks in spring when they shed their flowers. Those trees were planted there in the first place because of their hardiness and the fact that they grow so well in difficult conditions so not sure what they are going to replace them with. How many trees could stand being surrounded on all sides by concrete and still grow to produce such excellent shade?

    But you’re right, people treat trees awfully. Across the road from me they have two big eucalytps in the front yard. They recently removed all the grass and plants and just left the soil exposed around the trees and now the guy is parking his ute right under the tree. These trees would be 10+ metres tall. If they fall they are going to make a big mess. I’d be most worried about a stressed tree shedding a branch straight on the car.

  41. Hi Simon,

    Thanks for the link in your reply to Goran. I’d give it a go for sure, what do you have to lose? I train the ten grape vines along two rows of stainless steel cables, and it’s quite fun to just train the vines to grow along the cables. I’d use stainless steel too, as not much else will stand the weather, and it doesn’t cost that much. Bunnings is your friend here! If you want to drop past and see how the arrangement is set up, you’re welcome.

    The chestnut trees grew quite well here this year.

    That was the story I heard about the London Plane Trees. The locations where they grow are about as tough and gnarly and polluted as it gets. I couldn’t work out how the trees even got access to ground water. People just don’t, or won’t get it.

    My neighbours lost one of their cars years ago when a large tree fell on it. The vehicle was parked at the time so fortunately nobody was in it, but the car was a total write off. A big enough tree will take out the local electricity grid – and take it from my experience, they tree will conduct electricity to the ground so keep well away from such an incident if ever you encounter it. Smoke conducts electricity too.

    Soil doesn’t really cope well with having vehicles parked on it. It’s the compaction which squeezes all the air (and thus the life) out of the soil. The house we rented nearby in a housing estate whilst building this house had that problem. The entire front of the house was a dead zone. I chucked loads of mulch onto the soil surface and critters came from all over the place to eat the mulch – think slaters and slugs. And critters also leave behind their manure, and within a year the grass was growing again (with a bit of added seed).

    The backyard was also a dead zone, and I just let the dogs go to the toilet wherever out there and never bothered picking it up. The birds used to sit on the fence waiting for the dogs to go away and then they’d swoop down and chow down on the dog business. But they didn’t get all of it and usually in their haste, they’d spread it around and break it up. And as the grass began to regrow, I’d use the catcher on the mower and then dump the cut grass onto the bare patches. Within a year the place looked green and healthy again.

    And after a further six months of that, we received an order from the real estate agent to cut the grass or else. So we gave notice. People are messed up, they seemed happy with a Mad Max style dead zone, but an inch of grass totally freaked them out. I’d say less gentlemanly things about that experience, but I have to adhere to my own rules. 🙂

    PS: I really enjoyed your blog this week – you know I work in small business… 🙂



  42. Hi DJ,

    Software developers, well they sometimes get things right and I’m still enjoying my earlier version of Windows because it just goes and goes and never seems to suffer hiccups. Of course, just in case some nefarious code was slipped in to ensure that an update took place, I stopped the final few software updates. You never know, and lately that lot have been suggesting that I upgrade my version of Office, and how that came to be sort of indicates my earlier concerns were not that far off the mark.

    DJ, your smart copier story is not just outside my experience, I’d never even heard of such a machine. Imagine that a machine has just one job. And just to add in an element of surprise and mystique, the machine balks at doing its just one job. Tes not natural! Next the smart copier will no doubts be providing investment advice, just like that shoe shine boy gave to Joe Kennedy! And just because things tend to escalate, next the smart copier will be suggesting that it could do your job better and may even have designs upon your lady. Mate, before you know it, you’d be living in a post apocalyptic world fighting off robots who have an uncanny resemblance to a former governor in that big state to the south of where you are now, but as the earlier incarnation not like how it is today. It could happen you know!

    My education is sadly lacking as I had not previously encountered Thor Odinson. And yes in a cage fight between the Terminator and Thor Odinson, my money would be on Thor. Take that ya weakey robot from the future. Also proving that the past was perhaps more robust than the future? 😉

    I’m still chuckling to myself, but the lyrics of Share and Enjoy are just so weird that they’re funny. And the conclusion of the song references the hapless adventures in signage for the corporation! Yes, three miles high, what could possibly go wrong? Engineers, what do they know when it comes to foundations? Turns out they’re worth listening to!

    Oh that’s catchy and hard to shut out of my mind. Three, two, one – serenity! Ah, that’s better. Is it my imagination or those cheeky scamps mined the work of the English comedians and peers of Monty Python: The Goodies? Hmm. Kitten Kong! Funky Gibbon! And Ecky Thump! Lots of fun there.

    Hehe! Your dad was clearly not to be trifled with, but the odd timesheet and demand for remuneration wouldn’t have hurt. 🙂 An old timer once made that crack to me about the timesheet when the local volunteer fire group was going through a ra-ra-ra phase.

    Mate, you have rivers and town water, so why not keep your place hydrated? The extra water will benefit the wildlife and also reduce the risk from you know what later in the summer. The trick is to find the mid-point where the plants roots get larger in their search for water, and that they can continue to thrive.

    Hope your dinner was tasty?



  43. Hi Lewis,

    Exactly, film adaptions of books are a really difficult ask in the first place because films by their very nature and brief time available can only ever provide a Readers Digest view into the intricacies of a novel. The film of the Big Short covered the emotional and ethical journey of protagonists in the book, and kind of skipped on a lot of the intricate technical details. Although to be fair, the film alone provides a pretty good insight into just what went wrong, and how. A book just digs deeper. And do you reckon fans of books can translate into fans of movies? I suspect that fans of movies would be easier to convert into fans of books, because the books open a wider world.

    Anyway, never watched Harry Potter or read the books, and candidly it was the cover art for the books which put me off. I doubt I’m the intended audience for such a franchise anyway. I note with the mild emotional response of utter horror, that the author was cancelled. Censorship has a place, but then as a policy it can perhaps be taken too far. As a young adult I was a fan of the very irreverent rock band TISM (an acronym for This Is Serious Mum), and one of their albums was titled: Censored due to legal advice. Although it is possible that they brought that messy legal business down on their heads due to the previous album title and iconic album cover which riffed off the artist Ken Done but warped the guys work.

    I never bothered watching Game of Thrones for that conversion of intricacy reason. The books were epic doorstops, and if thrown at someones head in anger, might possibly be fatal for the book-at-head-clopped-ee, and at best a mild case of concussion. A thrown DVD by way of contrast, would hardly leave a scratch. A box set of DVD’s might have greater heft? 🙂

    That happens down here with that particular service and not all videos are available to the locals. I’m not sure why, but the gobarmint down here had a stoush with gargle recently. The we’re only a platform folks might have gotten a bit big for their boots? Google deceived some Australian mobile users about collection of location data, court finds.

    Had a mate years ago who was very pleased that a gargle service appeared to be tracking the persons movements on their phone. The phone knew exactly where the person worked and how they usually travelled there. Maybe I’m paranoid, but I told them to delete the application, but the response was: But it’s so super-useful. That may be true, but to whom the information is useful is the real question here. Not my problem.

    And yeah, this monkey business has been brewing for a while and was definitely a motivator to stop using the old Blogger platform.

    20mm is a pretty small gap. Might fix that problem tomorrow. We dug and moved soil and rocks today. And my neighbour kindly offered me some of his rocks – I guess that is also known as cleaning up his property! But all the same, it is a lovely offer and the rocks are flowing on in. The low gradient ramp is getting that much closer to completion (although it will take many weeks to apply a surface of the locally quarried crushed rock with lime).

    Hehe! Sorry to hear how things are for your Idaho friends. Hey wasn’t the sole purpose of Reganomics to deal with supply-side issues? The wonderful thing about the bonkers supply story of stuff for the past couple of decades, is that there is a lot of stuff floating around the countryside – and some of it is pretty good. The dining table which we restored and oiled was $100, and brand new the thing would cost thousands to purchase. And the newer stuff often uses thinner hardwood from what I’ve observed.

    I tend to agree with your curbside analysis. Did you know that I once heard that new immigrants often strive to purchase new items for similar reasons? A few months ago I read about a guy who works with such folks and helps them restore second hand furniture which as he noted – is often of far higher quality and more easily repaired. Often the new stuff can’t be repaired, or so he suggested.

    The median house price for the big smoke somehow surpassed the million dollar mark. An impressive achievement. Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble! Crazy stuff. A million bucks ain’t what it used to be!

    Thanks for mentioning the ancient map as I’d missed it. You know what was the first thing that popped into my head? I’ll tell you: The map would be super-awesome for troop placement planning and overall strategic uses. This may be indicative of my general mindset, but you know I’m a pragmatic guy, and it’s a mostly pragmatic world!

    Hey, the six chickens were some of the cheapest. I saw plenty of chickens for sale at $75 each, and there were some rare show quality chickens for $100 each. I mentioned to one of the guys that ‘chookflation’ was real, and he got a bit defensive, so I dropped the subject.

    You’re having lovely weather. Down here was 54’F and sort of sunny and it was a perfect day for working hard around the property.

    Chuck is good and he holds your attention. He must have blended the two stories, and I know the conclusion, so it really does read like a messed up story, but readable at the same time. Backwards – Forwards and around and around the story goes. He taps into the need to belong, feel part of something, and to be masculine. He pens some interesting observations, that’s for sure.

    I’m surprised by that titbit (you guys spell that word differently for some reason) of information too about the passports. I never knew and I’m suspecting that when (or if) travel does open up again, it is going to be super-weird on that front. I couldn’t give a toss though, as I have no plans to travel.



  44. Yo, Chris – It just hit 80F, yesterday. Today is supposed to be slightly higher, and then taper off over the week to the low 70s. The pear tree, here at the Institution, bloomed yesterday. Looks like the apple, isn’t far behind. I saw no pollinators, yesterday. And only one small one, today. I hope a honey bee scout finds it, heads back to his hive and does the GPS tango, to let his mates know where the goodies are.

    I don’t know if I mentioned it, but one of the Master Gardener’s brought me a pot with 6 elderberry twigs shoved in good soil. I’m watering them, every morning, and all have sprouted leaves.

    When I worked at the library in Yelm, we’d get ever increasingly complex copiers. They told us they were from the larger branches, when they “upgraded”, but I really think they were surplus off the Starship Enterprise. The last one would actually (or, at least claimed) print out a job, and then bind it into book form. Paperback or hardback? When the last one I had to deal with, arrived, I happened to be on my own. A customer came roaring up. It was throwing up an obscure message. “Insert Key Card.” The trouble shooting sections of the three manuals that came with it, provided no clarity. Finally, someone came back from lunch who could translate the arcane message. What did it mean? “Insert money.” Which makes no sense, as we didn’t charge for copies.

    The members of the local cult used to come charging in, at ten minutes to closing, and start enormous print jobs. Communiques from the Mother Ship. I wonder how they’re fairing, now, as the library came to it’s senses. Ten pages free, per day. After that, filthy lucre must exchange hands.

    I’d guess the flow of fans from movies to books, is a lot more satisfying. Not from a book, but last night I watched “Defending Your Life.” Albert Brooks and Meryl Streep, 1991. It’s been added to the Criterion Collection of re-mastered films. It’s a rom-com, set in a non-religious afterlife. Entertaining and very funny, in parts. Worth a bowl of popcorn.

    I remember a kerfuffle about a “Moma’s and Papa’s” album cover back in the 60’s. The gang was stuffed into a claw foot bathtub (fully clothed). The problem was, sitting next to the tub, was a toilet. Can’t have that. In some areas, record stores had to put a sticker over the offending toilet. There was also a “Rolling Stones” album, with a zippered banana on the front. Don’t remember the details of that hoop-la. Other than it was silly.

    Your alternative spelling of tid-bit, is not very family friendly. Some hormonally charged teen-aged boy might see the word, start thinking about breasts, and the next thing you know he’d be attacking women in the streets! 🙂 .

    I fail to see the “useful” in being tracked by a device. Other than tracking suspected straying spouses. Or, run off the road, be trapped in the wreckage, and no one knows where you are. Which has happened a few times. But otherwise … But, these days, people seem to have no problem with surrendering privacy, for perceived security and convenience. When I saw our Capitol being attacked by all those rioters (Oh, excuse me! Peaceful demonstrators.), and they were all waving their devices around and taking selfies, I thought, “Oh, this isn’t going to end well. For them.” And, it didn’t.

    I don’t know. Foreign sourced rocks. Imported rocks? But is it really where the rocks want to be? 🙂 .

    Every once in awhile, I check out what’s on offer, at an auction, up in Olympia. Being our State capitol, it tends to be a lot more “up-scale” than the likes of us, down here in the boonies. There’s a lot of newer, very high end (and, sometimes, well crafted) furniture, that I’m sure cost thousands of dollars, initially. And it auctions for pennies on the dollar. Of course, there’s a related old saw about how much is a brand new car worth, when you drive it off the show-room floor?

    The rock map was really interesting. I bet they were happy when paper was invented. 🙂 . One of the Australian DVD’s I watched had an interesting bit about your original people. Scientists had puzzled over some rock paintings, and finally figured out they were maps. Trails and water sources. And which water sources were year around, and which intermittent.

    Chook guy probably got defensive, as he’d been hearing a lot about his prices. Figuring out “what the traffic will bear” is an art, not much of a science.

    I see Michael Lewis (“Big Short”) has a new book out. “Premonition.” It’s about “you know what.” 🙂 .

    I see a fellow up in Sydney, got an extra bit of protein, in his bagged lettuce. A snake.

    We got a couple of Magic Food Boxes, yesterday. Not the one that the Rev used to deliver (that will come, the last Friday of the month), but the “commodities”. A box of canned and package goods, and, a box of the fresh veg. The only canned and packaged stuff I kept was some canned black beans, two cans of pears, and one can of chicken. The rest went down to the swap table. The veg looks pretty good. A bag of carrots, a bag of apples and a bag of potatoes. Celery. One green pepper. Some cucumber. A small container of cherry tomatoes. Lew

  45. Hello Chris and Simon and all Chestnut Lovers,

    Try the espalier chestnut pruning form!

    Chestnut trees can be cut back heavily and they regrow with strong, vigorous shoots. In Europe, there used to be quite a lot of coppice stands with chestnut trees, mainly to harvest rot-resistant wooden poles. Ben Law lives in one of those ancient woods, south of London, and his book “The Woodland Way” is both beautiful and informative.

    The one issue to consider is that whenever you cut back a chestnut branch/stem it takes a few years before you get flowering and nuts on the new stems. Most apple and plum trees have “lateral” flowering, i.e. the flowers come on the side of existing branches. That is an advantage for espalier style pruning.
    Chestnut trees (like most trees) have “terminal” flowering, i.e. flowers on the tips of the new branches. If you prune the tips, you prune the flowers and get no harvest. (A parallel is linden trees, which are often pruned as espalier trees here, for summer shading. Whenever they are pruned like that, they just don’t flower.)

    Therefore, the best would probably be to prune your chestnuts to a flat-vase form, where you just remove the branches that go in the protruding directions, and let the other branches grow outwards and upwards.

    I look forward to hearing your experience, and I think I will try this as well, just to see how it works.


  46. Hi Lewis,

    A watched tree rarely gets pollinated! Just kidding, I’m not actually sure what insects pollinate the pear trees, but all the same they get pollinated. The decline of European honeybees in your area is not good, but neither is it terminal for pollination (except for maybe almonds which flower at a really early time in the season). Does anyone actually grow almonds in your more northerly part of the world?

    Bee scouts perform a necessary job for the hive, that’s for sure. I wonder if the bees recall the lay of the land between one season and the next? I reckon they might.

    Elderberries are great plants, and they deliver in both good and bad seasons. To me the berries taste like black currants, but that might also be the variety growing here. They display quite a bit of variability as some of the shrubs have yellow-green-ish leaves, some are slightly purple, and others are a deep green. The birds love the berries and they make a great decoy berry. As a general observation, I’ve never not had one of those branches take root. And the plants definitely self-seed. I’ve seen some wild elderberries growing about the mountain range – nothing to worry about really and they provide plenty of feed for the birds.

    Yeah, crazy stuff with the copier. I’m sure you recall the rubbish about the paperless office and mankind on Mars (at least not the dead kind of mankind on that cold planet) and that sort of thing? I reckon all I’ve ever seen is even more use of paper. Even I’m guilty of that. So having a copier shaking you down for mad cash before performing its one job, is a good way to stymie such free wheeling use of paper. 🙂 I just had this super weird thought that some folks might want their ashes landed on the moon (with a little plaque I’m guessing).

    Hopefully the cult is still in operation? Perhaps they sought donations or membership fees from their members to cover such administrative costs? Such folks – if harmless – can provide a nice splash of eccentric background colour. I still recall the Hare Krishna group who used to sing and dance their way around the city at lunchtimes in an attempt to drum up business for their super cheap vegie restaurant. Impoverished students probably knew where the place was. They were colourful and knew how to make some noise with acoustic instruments (crashing cymbals and chants formed part of the regular repertoire), I’ll give them that.

    I’d seen that film, and the final scene with the buses or was it trams, was quite memorable. What also interested me with the film was how the scenes from the protagonists lives were portrayed and analysed. That was interesting as the comparisons didn’t hold up so well, but in the end, it didn’t matter did it? That using five percent of your brain business was part of a sales routine for some motivational speaker way back in the day. I had a mate hand over money (he could well afford it) to go through the course, and he was always super mysterious about what he learned on the course. I guess that the first rule of Fight Club is don’t talk about Fight Club – wisdom in action, huh?

    I’m enjoying the Fight Club book very much, although the constant chopping and changing between the two stories is a dislocating experience – but it works. The conclusion is hardly a surprise, so I’m n now guessing that Mr Palahniuk wrote both stories concurrently, and then fattened, curtailed, but otherwise blended the two. What do you reckon about my theory?

    Ah, what innocent days when the image of a toilet seat was enough to shock an audience. Years ago I watched a video of Mama Cass and John Denver imploring the crowd to vote at an upcoming election and they seemed so earnest, and they both had real talent combined with foibles. I guessed they were human enough! 🙂 Oh my! The censored art work I mentioned has its own wikipudding page, but is a total spoof and send up of a local artist, but far from family friendly. I’ll leave it you, if you are OK, I’ll let you in on an infamous moment in Australian music history? But it is up to you to decide and then let me know of your decision. 🙂

    What? I grew up with the spelling as titbit, and it was only recently that I discovered that the word had been altered to tidbit to protect the innocent. Hope the innocent feel safe?

    Mate, I was super-dubious about the tracking device on the phone. Me, being me, I did wonder if nefarious folks could purchase the data so as to discover whether the person was home or not, and thus act accordingly? The person in question was a bit of a grifter after all, which I freely acknowledged and avoided having any such arrangements with the person. And unsurprisingly the person eventually got rolled by a burgerlar (sic). Turns out that tiled roofs don’t provide the sort of security that is any good, but the person in question continued to annoy people with their grifting activities. As I knew of such possible outcomes I dodged the possibility, and just enjoyed the fun times which surrounded them. I was sad when they finally left the country. Parting is such sweet sorrow.

    Exactly! If movements are recorded, then they’re not hard to dodge if you have two brain cells to rub together. There are times I’m dismayed by the stupidity of my fellow humans – but then I’ve done some really stupid things too.

    Imported rocks are all part of the Peak Rock story. You may scoff, but Peak Rocks is real, and I’m considering ways to make the import rock arrangement easier for myself.

    Mate, the second hand stuff going for a song in the big smoke is an utter embarrassment upon the greater society. The big smoke is not ten times bigger than Olympia, but one hundred times biggerer. Dunno, maybe with so much stuff floating around the landscape, people don’t understand what is meant by the word: quality?

    Water sources down here would have been like gold. The early explorers used to nab the Indigenous folks and then feed them a salty meal. Inevitably the Indigenous folks used to lead the explorers to ancient water holes, many of which were excavated by the same poisoned folks. Proving that everything old is new again – I’ve suffered from that very technique with over salting of food in the hope that I shelled out mad cash for drinks to quench the thirst. Too much salt makes me feel sick.

    Fair enough, the prices were what the market could bear, and the chicken breeders had been physically separated from their customers for almost a year and were probably doing it tough. I know of folks in the big smoke who are having troubles sourcing chickens – in urban areas you can’t own a rooster for obvious reasons.

    Oooo! A book recommendation. I’ve been so strong lately (not really) but the Siren calls are stronger again…

    Well the snake is a solid incentive to grow your own produce. I’m not a fan of those germuns (sic). The adherents all consistently say: you get so much, for so little. And because they all say the same thing, I’m thinking: cult.

    Well hopefully you didn’t end up with a snake in your lettuce? 🙂

    Better get writing!



  47. Yo, Chris – Nope. No almond trees, here. It just isn’t warm enough. In the States, almonds grow in southern California. As with so many of your other crops. The Master Gardener gave me the purple / blue variety. But said she planted a red one, around back. As a bird decoy. As she does at home.

    I haven’t heard much from the Yelm cult, over the past few years. As there cult leader is really getting up there, I suppose they’re winding down a bit. Or the followers have moved onto something else. Like Q 🙂 .

    Speaking of quibbling film viewers, one of the extras on the Albert Brooks DVDs was an interview, with him, twenty years on. He mentioned, when they previewed the move, and started reading the comment cards, 14 of them wanted to know what became of the pies. The nine pies that were forced on him in a restaurant. Well, obviously, he ditched them in the lobby of Streep’s hotel. But apparently the disappearance of those pies, really bothered some people. What was interesting to me was the exploration of class and hierarchy.

    You may, or may not know, that the River has it’s own film production company. I guess they’re getting ready to launch “The Lord of the Rings” as a seasonal series. I probably won’t watch it. I know it’s heresy, but I never cared for the books, and am not sure if I saw all the films.

    It’s been decades since I read “Fight Club,” so, you got me. The Chuck moves in mysterious ways, his wonders to perform. 🙂 .

    Well, I’m not sure I found the right controversy, as far as TISM is concerned. If it was the Koala album cover, well, I don’t see what all the fuss is about. As far as the title goes, tasteless, but it won’t keep me up, at night.

    Well, you may have noticed a lot of bars keep cheap, “free” salted snacks, just sitting on the bar. There’s a method to that madness. Then there was the “free lunch.”

    Which yielded the saying, “There ain’t no such thing as a free lunch.”

    Lewis’s new book is on my library hold list. Ought to be an interesting read.

    I throw that lettuce (or, mixed greens) we get, in my freezer. Then compost it into the garden. I noticed a very small slug, on my celery, last night.

    It was 81F, yesterday. Same, same, today. Then, declining temps for the rest of the week.

    And, from the wonderful world of archaeology …

    It will be interesting if they can figure out exactly what it was all about. Looks to be some kind of a rotunda. Maybe. Lew

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